Monday, March 28

The List of Rejected Lists

This week on the Teen Fiction Cafe, we're talking about Lists. What kind of lists, you might ask? Well, any list really. Top 5 TV Shows, Top 5 Movies, Top 5 Favorite Airlines Ranked in Order of Which One is Least Likely to Lose Your Luggage. So pretty much anything you can present in "list" format is eligible. Now, this is a fairly broad topic. So you could imagine what a challenge it was to figure out which list to include in my post this week. Let it suffice to say that there were several ideas that were seriously considered and soon after rejected.

And as I stared dishearteningly at the multitude of rejected list ideas, I came to the sudden realization that I had, in fact, unintentionally created...well...a list.

So here it is. My "Top 5 Rejected Top 5 List Ideas." Okay, here it goes:

5) Jessica's Top 5 Unflattering Photo Angles (complete with visual aids) - This idea was rejected after taking the first photo.

4) Jessica's Top 5 Cravings While Trying to Not Eat Junk Food - Seeing that I'm currently in a "trying not to eat junk food" phase, this idea was scrapped for its torturous side-effects.

3) Jessica's Top 5 Most Despised Words in the English Dictionary - I tried to write this one. I really did. But I got halfway through the first word and the gag reflexes kicked in and I had to excuse myself from the computer for a few minutes.

2) Jessica's Top 5 Secret Make-Out Spots from When She was a Teen - Although I did actually complete this list, I opted not to publish it after realizing that these "secret make-out spots" would cease to be secret and one never knows when one might find oneself in sudden need of a good secret make-out spot.

AND the NUMBER ONE rejected Top 5 List Idea is....

1) Jessica's Top 5 Excuses She Gives to Her Editor for an Overdue Manuscript and/or Line Edit and/or Copy Edit - I obviously couldn't post this one as there's a very good chance my editor might read this blog.  And if anyone reading this right now just so happens to talk to her, if you wouldn't mind casually dropping into the conversation that you DID in fact see me on the news last week saving puppies from a burning pet store in Honduras, that would be grreeeat.

Thursday, March 24

What You Don't Know About Me

Hello! After a week in sunny, breezy, 80 degree Kauai, it's a little hard to be back in blustery, snowy Utah. But this winter weather gave me an idea as to which little known fact about myself I will be sharing with you today.

I, Wendy Toliver, have been banned from snowmobiling.

Snowmobiling Story #1: The first time I ever even sat on one of these machines was the winter before my wedding. My fiance's family invited me on a trip to West Yellowstone. After reserving the biggest machine possible, I decided it was too hard to turn so I opted for a smaller version. Then I suited up, helmeted in, and revved the motor. But I soon discovered that following in a long line of snowmobilers on a long flat trail (like in the first picture) wasn't for me and I veered off from time to time, looking for something more exciting. I found a huge jump on the side of the trail and went for it. (I'm sure I looked exactly like the photo on the bottom.) I heard a terrible snapping sound and realized later that night that my nose was at a concerning 45% angle on my face. It never bled and it seems a little strange that someone could break a nose when wearing a helmet. But somehow, I did it. I got married with my nose at this weird angle and had to work a full year to get enough health insurance to have it fixed.

Snowmobiling Story #2: I used to work at an advertising agency. It was a really great place to work because every day, we sought out ways to nourish our creativity. And what better way than to take my department up to the mountain wilderness for a day of snowmobiling? In true Wendy fashion, I didn't stay on the trail and found myself some jumps. (In hindsight, I should've learned my lesson from the broken nose incident.) Unknowingly, I launched my machine into a snow-covered river. The machine sank into the slushy waters. My poor employees had to spend a couple of hours helping me get the darned thing out.

Needless to say, my husband has banned me from snowmobiling. But now that I'm older (and wiser?) maybe I can talk him into letting me give it a go again sometime. But between us, I'm just not sure I trust myself.

Now it's your turn! Is there something you always get yourself into trouble doing? If so, have you been banned from it or decided on your own not to do it anymore? Or did you learn your lesson? Do tell!

Wednesday, March 23

What You Don't Know About Me (video)

Hey look, I made a video for my post this week!

Monday, March 21

What You Don't Know About Me

I'd love to confess something funny today but it's snowing again here in CT, even though the first day of spring was yesterday, so I'm not feeling particularly funny.

OK, here are three observations. Let's see how long it takes you to figure out what serious thing about me I'm confessing.

1) The "Sports" section in the New York Times today is eight pages long. Despite the fact that the Women's NCAA Tournament had twice as many games as the Men's yesterday, only one of those pages was devoted to women in sports.

2) The King's Speech is a pleasant enough movie, and it's certainly well acted, but it's nothing the world hasn't seen before in terms of plot. It's Rocky from start to finish. Black Swan, on the other hand, while also well acted, is fresh and surprising to the point where sometimes the audience isn't sure if what's happening is really happening. But Black Swan has one leading role, and that role is female, so it's chances of winning the Academy Award for Best Picture were probably even lower than that of Toy Story 3. The last time a movie with no lead male won was Chicago in 2002 although four movies with no lead females have won since then.

3) Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad won the National Book Critics Circle's fiction prize last week. Rather than celebrate that success, the L.A. Times chose to frame the victory as "Egan beats Franzen in National Book Critics Circle's fiction prize." They accompanied the online piece with a picture of Jonathan Franzen, who did not win but who is a male, rather than Egan. If you follow the link now, you won't see the Franzen picture, because as the result of reader outrage, it's been swapped by the L.A. Times for more appropriate pictures of Egan and the cover of her winning book. Still, can you imagine? You win a major literary award and yet somehow it's still more about someone else - some male someone else - than it is about you?

That's right. You've guessed it. I, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, am a feminist. And not one of those who's scared to use the word either. Are things better for women than they used to be? Sure. Are things better for women in the U.S. than in undeveloped countries? Sure. But on both counts, so what? Wherever you look - or at least wherever I look - I see indicators that whatever women do, it is almost always perceived as being somehow less than.

Want to read a real eye-opener? Try Big Girls Don't Cry, Rebecca Traister's account of the 2008 presidential election.

On the plus side, I think things will continue to get better, more equal. But that's a story for another day.

So now it's your turn: What don't I know about you that you're willing to share?

Be well. Don't forget to write.

Thursday, March 17

LOL moments. Sort of.

This week, I'm supposed to write about LOL moments. The only problem is, as some of you know, is that since I'm sick, I haven't had many lately, unless you count the fact that I've had so much blood drawn in an effort to figure out exactly what's wrong with me that I know every single lab tech in the hospital where my doctor is and I always do a fist pump when I'm told I'm having less than eight vials of blood drawn and may actually say "YAY!" when it's four or less.

Okay, I actually do say YAY!

Anyway, so I was thinking, how about *your* LOL moments?

Share your fave LOL moment over at my blog here and you could win a free YA novel.

Yep, make me LOL and I'll send YOU a free YA novel!

Friday, March 11

Good News Friday: MY LIFE UNDECIDED Trailer!

Hey everyone! TGIGNF! (Thank Goodness It's Good News Friday!)

So excited to announce that my new "movie-style" book trailer for my next book, MY LIFE UNDECIDED (June 7, 2011) is now up online! Check it out below!

These book trailers are a labor of love for me and I'm so proud of the way this one came out. I hope you'll help me spread the word by tweeting and embedding!


Thursday, March 10

ART (Farrel)

I guess I was about twelve. It was a Saturday morning and I really wanted to play football. Normally back in my old neighborhood this wasn’t a problem; there were always plenty of kids around if you wanted to organize a quick pick-up game. I loved that.

But on this particular morning there was no one around and I was left on my own to entertain myself. I wanted to practice receiving passes, not an easy feat to do when you’re by yourself. After some thought and a little experimentation I discovered that if I stood a few feet in front of our house and threw the football up and onto our roof (we lived in a two-story colonial) it would roll off the roof in such a manner (because of the odd shape of the football) that I could never quite tell where it was going to fall. One throw would roll far to my right and the next might roll far to my left. It was perfect for practicing (yes, I really was a simple boy).

I must have been at it for a good half hour, working up a sweat, having fun before my father came home from the hardware store. He pulled into the driveway, stepped out of his car, gave me a smile and a wave.

I shouted, “Hey, Dad, look at this!”

And then proceeded to somehow throw my football right through his second-floor bedroom storm window. I can only imagine how it looked to my father. I say I can only imagine because I didn’t stick around long enough to see his reaction – I just ran.

That’s just the way it was in my house. My younger brother and I always seemed to be in trouble. I still don’t get it. We weren’t bad kids. We weren’t troublemakers or bullies; we just had a knack for getting into trouble. I think it might have been some kind of hormonal imbalance, or maybe we just didn’t have that thing in our brains that keeps people from acting on every impulse. If there were something in the house that could break sooner or later we’d manage to break it.

Unfortunately this wasn’t a problem that was just confined to our home. We seemed to get in trouble all over town, at the boys’ club, at school (constantly) and even at Boy Scouts meetings (I think I may have been the only kid in our town encouraged to leave the Boy Scouts). After a while my brother and I realized that if we couldn’t control our impulses, what we really needed was a scapegoat. We needed some kid in the neighborhood we could blame for all of our destructive deeds. We needed a fall guy. That person became Art Farrel.

Art wasn’t really a bad kid. He was like us, impulsive and high-spirited, but he had something we didn’t have – long hair and a loud dirt bike and in my dad’s book that was enough to label him as a troublemaker. My parents never questioned why Art Farrel single-handedly launched his reign of terror against our house but we blamed that kid for everything: broken birdbaths and windows, trampled flowers, disconnected telephone wires (we would do this whenever our teachers told us they were going to call our parents), garbage cans that were flattened when we tried jumping them with our bikes – I mean everything.

Not only did we blame Art for all this vandalism around our house but we would also make up stories about things he did in school. Over dinner one of us might say, “Hey, Mom, guess what Art Farrel did in school today…” It was always something borderline psychotic like flushing a cherry bomb down the school toilet or stealing everyone’s lunches and throwing them in a Dumpster. We launched a complete and well-crafted character assassination.

So Art, if you’re out there someplace, probably playing the part of the well-respected-man-about-town with a wife and family, I’m sorry. It wasn’t personal; I even kind of liked you. You didn’t deserve the reputation we thrust upon you. You were basically a good kid but you have to realize, it’s like my father always told me: “You have to be careful who you pick for your friends.”

Wednesday, March 9

Bella Donna

This week we’re talking about art—and I have to admit it’s a topic I can get pretty excited about.

I’m an art lover—have been for a very long time. I grew up in a family with a healthy appreciation of the arts, and have vivid memories of my very first painting class that my parents enrolled me in somewhere around age 7 or 8.

I remember the thrill of squeezing colorful tubes of acrylics onto my palette—the rush of putting brush to canvas—eagerly creating still lifes, and sunsets, and paintings of Eeyore, Tiger, Piglet, and Poo holding various contemplative poses as they enjoyed those still lifes and sunsets.

And while my pictures never quite captured the image I held in my head (okay, they weren't even remotely close to the image I held in my head!), the excitement of creating something from nothing was enough to sustain me.

So, while visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico last week--a research trip for my upcoming SOUL SEEKERS series--I was thrilled to make another visit to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. She’s always been a hero of mine—as much for her beautiful images, as for the daring way in which she lived her life.

Taught in art class to mimic what all the other prominent (mostly male) artists were doing at the time- she grew so frustrated, she almost gave up. Lucky for us, she prevailed, and left behind not only a large collection of stunning images, but eleven years after her death had a museum dedicated to her—the only museum in the world dedicated to an internationally known American female artist!

Georgia O'Keefe
1887 - 1986

I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me - shapes and ideas so near to me - so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn't occurred to me to put them down. I decided to start anew to strip away what I had been taught.” Georgia O’Keefe, 1935

So tell me--what sort of art and/or artists inspire you??

peace * love * joy


Monday, March 7

My favorite art moments

Kia ora (that's hello in Maori if you're interested!!!!).

This week at TFC it's all about art, problem being that I'm not really an art buff. It's weird because my brother is a professional artist and my husband and daughter are both majorly talented in drawing and photography, but for me it's always been about books. However, every now and then certain things capture my interest so I thought I'd share some of my favorite art moments.

The Green Violinist by Marc Chagall

I first saw this when the Dunedin Art Gallery presented a collection from the Guggenheim Gallery in New York and I'm not sure why I love it so much (apart from the obvious that he's green and has a violin and somehow that makes it cool) but it was definitely my favorite painting in the collection

The Banksy Rat in Liverpool

I always loved this piece of graffiti when I lived in Liverpool, but it wasn't until about a year later that I even discovered it was done by Banksy. There was a lot of talk of the council taking it down, but from what I can discover it's still there.

The Lourve

Like most backpackers, I was the biggest tight arse when I was traveling around Europe and preferred to spend most of my cash on beer and cupcakes (clinically proved to be very nutritious. Okay, so not really, but lots of fun).

Anyway, point is that it wasn't until I went into the Lourve that I really understood how amazing art galleries can be. In fact it was so wonderful that I had to go back the very next day and I still didn't even up getting to the end of it.

On Beauty and On Ugliness by Umberto Eco

My husband had been wanting these books for ages but me, being the art heathen that I am never paid any attention to him. However, we finally got them and now I love them to death. They are exploration of Beauty and Ugliness through history and art.

Birds by Nick Ashby

Okay, so I'm biased, but I adore my brother's paintings. He did these ones not long after my dad died and it was in tribute to my dad's love of bird watching. I really like how intricate it is, while at the same time still looking simple.

So there you have. A few of my favorite art moments, what about everyone else? Do you have a favorite art moment that you'd like to share with me???

Friday, March 4

If I could be anybody for just one day....

If I could be anybody for just one day, I would be Oprah Winfrey.

My sister, Jocelyn, was actually one of the lucky people in the audience that was selected to go to Australia: a free, action-packed, 10-day trip down under with Oprah's Ultimate Viewers and Miss O, herself. Jocelyn has been a huge fan of Oprah since high school and in fact, due to the passion and excitement surrounding Oprah's Book Club, she was inspired to start Kelley & Hall Book Publicity along with me and my mom! (You may recognize her because she's actually Skyped into Oprah's book club several times as an unofficial Oprah "book club girl.")

Anyway, my mom and sister got to travel to Australia with Oprah (and my husband, daughter, my dad and brother all decided it was the perfect time for a family vacation, so we tagged along). Now, I didn't get to do any of the cool things that my mom and sister did (yachting with Russell Crowe, an impromptu trip to a U2 concert, scoring a limited edition diamond necklace at one of the two Oprah shows filmed at the Sydney Opera House). But, I did get to see the full Oprah effect. We were staying in the same hotel as Lady O and all of her guests (as well as her producers, staff, entourage, bodyguards, etc.).

Now if there is anyone who is treated like a rock star and has the red carpet (literally) rolled out where ever she goes, it's Oprah Winfrey. Not only were fans in awe of her (who knew she was so popular down under?), but the people who work for her were some of the hardest working and most dedicated people I've ever seen. And they all seemed to LOVE their job. (Then again, we were in gorgeous Sydney, Australia - a little slice of heaven on Earth, so what's not to love?) And they all adored their boss.

Who else could have the entire city filled with flags with your picture on it, a regatta with every sail bearing your logo, and a gigantic letter O hanging from the famed Sydney Harbor Bridge in lights? Not to mention having the Sydney Opera House renamed the Sydney Oprah House during your stay? Even the weather seemed to cooperate (not saying she has an in to a higher power, but does anyone else find it strange that the entire country was suffering from rains and floods except during that one week when Oprah and her guests were there?).

And although I never got the chance to meet Oprah, I did get to meet the people who work for her, her BFF Gayle and her ever-present fans. And everyone -- I mean, everyone -- felt a sense of magic around the woman. She has the most devoted following of any celebrity I've ever seen and people treat her like she's their best friend, their confidante, their family member, their role model. My sister witnessed many occasions where people would tell Oprah their story, and would just break down in tears in front of the woman. The best part: Oprah listened, she connected, she reacted. Even if it was only for a brief moment, the connection was there and it was savored by the recipient. And most likely will be for years to come.

To have that kind of an effect on people -- to truly touch people's lives and have a profound effect on them -- would be an amazing thing to experience. Even for a day. Also, the private jet, the billions of dollars and the feeling of being idolized by the entire world wouldn't hurt either.

As Charlie Sheen would say, "Duh...WINNING!"

Tuesday, March 1

If I Could Be Anybody...

Not to be all self-accepting guru or anything, but I like my life. It's nice. I know the people in it, and I love them. So I really wouldn't change places with anyone at this moment in time.

However, there was a moment in high school when I would have given anything to be... um, let's call her Hayley Morris.

She had this incredible over-the-summer transformation from 8th to 9th grade--I'm talking a full on makeover from thick glasses and braces to tan, lovely, white-toothed, blonde highlighted goddess of high school. A la the movie She's All That (see photo).

And then Hayley Morris landed my long-time crush. We'll call him Joe.

I watched them canoodle all over the freaking place. In the quad, by Joe's locker (which I had of course mapped out on day one), on the sidelines of his football games, etc. You get the picture: NIGHTMARE.

And for at least the first half of 9th grade, I wanted to be her so badly I could taste it.

But you know what? I've seen her recently. And not to be catty, but she's not all that. She certainly doesn't get to write teen novels for a living and recreate all the angst she had in 8th grade (I'm assuming she had zero angst from 9th grade onward). I like where I am, so I choose my own life.

Still though, in the summer of 1991, I would have loved to have been Hayley Morris.

Now make me feel less silly and tell me who you would have liked to have been, even for just a moment in time?