Sunday, July 31

Pietro Annigoni

This week it's all about art, and I thought I'd share one of my favorite pieces. Cristine by Pietro Annigoni (1910-1988).

For my 21st birthday I was asked by a group of people I worked with what I'd like, and decided some money to buy a painting. I went to a local art dealer and fell in love with this print.

Now......... lots and lots of years later....... I love it as much as I did then. Wherever we live it hangs close to my computer so I can look it as often as I wish.

I hope you love it too.

Monday, July 18

Is YOUR Life Undecided?

Hey everyone! This week at the Teen Fiction Cafe, we're blogging about Cyber Gems. Cool websites, articles, videos, etc that we've found on the web.

My "Cyber Gem" is not something I found, but something I created. Hopefully you'll think it's a "gem" too!

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to bring my books to life. I was a reluctant reader as a young child and teen and so I try to make sure that all my books have something associated with them that pulls them off the page and makes them accessible to more people. That's why I do my live action book trailers!

For my latest release, MY LIFE UNDECIDED, I decided to build an interactive website for the book as well. And it wasn't difficult to figure out what the website would be!

In the story, my main character, Brooklyn Pierce, (who is infamous for making horrible decisions) starts a website/blog where she posts all of her life's decisions and has her blog readers vote on what she should do. The site is called it's now a real-life site!

The site has been expanded from featuring Brooklyn's decisions to featuring...well,everyone! Now anyone with a tough decision in their life can poll the community and get some help deciding what to do.

So head on over and post your pressing questions, collect votes, and get help making those decisions. Or just head over and vote on everyone else's questions. And there are some really tough questions on there right now!

And keep a look out for little posts, notes, and photos from Brooklyn herself. After all, she's the original founder of the site. :)


Saturday, July 16

Are You Non-Plussed About GooglePlus?

Have you joined yet? Are you a Google+ member? What's taking you so long? Don't you know that everyone has joined? Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a member! And Google is his biggest competition! So if Zucky is there, why aren't you?

A few weeks ago, Google+ invitations were like Willy Wonka's Golden Tickets. They were as sought after as a Gmail account when they first came out, even though it was in Beta testing and the majority of Google+ users were tech people. And even if you got a coveted invite to use Google+, chances are that you couldn't find any of your friends (online or otherwise).

Now that the doors have finally been opened up and invitations are sailing across the web faster than you can shout Yahoo!, users are furiously adding each other and are being added to circles. They are offering virtual "hangouts" -- the equivalent of a chatroom only with videos. And networking abounds. (Both Ashton Kucher and Justin Timberlake are in my circles, though they haven't included me in theirs yet. Still waiting for those boys to extend an invitation.)

So basically, Google+ is a mash-up of Facebook and Twitter. You "follow" people like you do on Twitter and you can communicate with your friends like you do on Facebook. Instead of "liking" something, you give it a +1. Not sure what the online vernacular will be for that. I'm assuming that instead of "liking" something, you will be "plussing" or "plus one-ing" a post that meets your approval.

There are new ways of tracking people down on Google+. For instance, a quick way is to go to Several authors and illustrators have created links to fellow authors and bloggers. Here are a few links to those lists. (I'm not sure if those lists are accessible until you become a Google+ member, so make sure to join today!)

Also, don't forget to add links in your profile to your books. That way, when someone does a Google search for you, links to your books will appear under your name. If you Google my name: Megan Kelley Hall, you'll see that Sisters of Misery, The Lost Sister and Dear Bully all come up right under my name. Now people can click over and buy your books easily and hassle-free. (It all comes back to selling books, doesn't it?)

In any case, join Google+ and add me to your circle. I'm not sure what we'll do once we've all joined each other's circles, but it should be fun figuring it out together.

Friday, July 15

Good News Friday: Summer Reads Picks!

Hey everyone! I'm so delighted, I just have to share!

My new novel, MY LIFE UNDECIDED, which just released last month, was chosen as both a TEEN VOGUE Must-Read Book of the Summer AND a SEVENTEEN Summer Beach Read pick! Squeee!!!

You can read the reviews from each by clicking the links below.

Teen Vogue

MY LIFE UNDECIDED is about a fifteen-year-old girl, notorious for making terrible decisions, who enlists blog readers to vote on how she should live her life. But she soon discovers, some things in life simply aren't a who you fall in love with.

If you haven't seen the book trailer yet, watch it below!

And check out the brand new book website I just launched for the book: where you can post your own undecided questions and poll our readers for some advice!

Happy Friday everyone!


Thursday, July 14

In Which Stephanie admits that she kinda doesn't get most art

When I saw that this week's topic was "Art," I got all nervous thinking that I'm so not qualified to talk about this at all.

Usually I like to use the word "art" really liberally. I think music, literature, theater, and fashion totally all qualify and I could talk at length about any of those things (well, maybe not the last two as much as the first two) and I know exactly what I like about both those things and can define it. When it comes to the visual arts, ie. painting, drawing, the stuff people really mean when they say art, I'm not very knowledgeable and I don't even really know what I like. I hate to admit it because it makes me feel uncultured, but I feel lost when I go to art museums. I don't know what I'm supposed to be looking for or feeling or supposed to like. I'd totally pick a history or science museum over an art museum. *cringes and hides from all of my artistic friends* Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the beauty of a Dali painting or "Starry Night" and especially the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but it doesn't give me the same feeling that reading a powerful book or listening to one of my favorite albums does. But maybe I'm just not finding the right art?

I have some friends who are artists whose work compels me, though unfortunately I could only easily find 1 persons piece to share. My friend Kevin does some pretty cool ink sketches that remind me of old Gothic novels and my friend Eryn makes paintings that feel as raw and real as the best Riot Grrrl songs. My friend Kasia does paintings of trees that make me want to write otherworldly stories and that is the one I have an example of:

All three of these folks are incredibly talented and I admire them hugely. Since I was a creative kid, I tried my hand at painting and drawing both, even had a cool little easel in my room for a time, but by high school I pretty much knew that I didn't have talent there and I covered that easel with my detention slips.... Oh collages-- that is a form of art I can get into. My whole bedroom as a teenager was a giant collage of pictures I'd cut out of magazines, mainly of rock stars. And speaking of rock stars, the only drawing I ever finished was one I copied from a photograph of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love right after Kurt Cobain died as my way of grieving I guess. It actually took me forever to finish and it's still pretty crappy:

Of all the visual arts I guess it's easiest for me to relate with photography because they are tangible images like of places or people. And as you can see all of my attempts to be artistic (the collaging of photographs and my bad drawing, I also drew a lot of horses as a little kid) are pretty realistic too... and of course my strong suit is realistic fiction. So maybe my inability to be abstract is part of my issue with understanding most art.

One piece of art that I have always loved because it evokes so much emotion for me is a certain painting of Ophelia. I'm so poorly educated about art that I don't even know the artist, but my friend Jenny did get it as a gorgeous tattoo:

Tattoo art may actually be my favorite of the visual arts and I like all styles especially the classic Sailor Jerry sort like this Rose of No Man's Land tattoo that I got in honor of my nurse mother:

My tattoos are all kind of random pieces that mean things to me--again, really intense emotional things--but I've never been able to pull them together well. Again, I don't think I have the best eye for that sort of thing, but my friend Jenny does. Another one of her tattoos--which is more of a piece than just a tattoo like mine--is probably one of my all time favorite pieces of artwork. Check it out:

It really resonates with me emotionally, but once again I have no words to explain how or why.

So yeah, my conclusion is that I appreciate art, especially a certain kind that appeals to me emotionally, but I can't explain why I like it so I have a hard time finding more art that I like and I honestly feel like a moron when I talk about it.

I want to learn though, especially because I have a tattoo (which I got with my friend Jenny) that I want to pull together into something super cool like her tattoo. It's a cherry blossom on my chest that I want to branch on to a creepy old tree on my arm, maybe with a girl reaching up toward the flowers. Maybe my friend Kasia can help me out with the tree. We shall see...

What about you? Can you talk in an educated way about art? Can you school me? Please post links to your favorite pieces or ones that based on my babbling or personality you think I might like! I'm eager to learn!

Tuesday, July 12

Art for a Cause

If you were to ask me what my favorite subject in school was, I would definitely say art. My parents recognized my love for art at a very young age and one of my earliest memories was painting a monster in an art room at a local college. From there, I was lucky enough to be accepted into my elementary school's gifted & talented program, where I did all sorts of interesting art projects. One of the most memorable was making a marionette for the puppet show "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." A few years later I was chosen to represent my school in painting a brand-new car with Olympics-inspired pictures when the Olympic torch made its way through my home town of Littleton, CO. I kept active in art classes throughout high school and would have loved to continue in college but I had to buckle down and concentrate on classes that went toward my major. Art has always been and will always be part of who I am, whether drawing, graphic arts, music, theater, or writing.

Now, I live in a tiny mountain town called Eden, Utah. It's not abnormal to see photographers and painters set up with tripods and easels alongside our picturesque roads and trails. Not too long ago, I happened to meet an artist by the name of Ashley Bennett-Stoddard. Not only is she a gifted painter and sculptor and an amazing art teacher for budding artists; she is a generous soul who donates to notable causes, including: Rape Recovery Center, Image Reborn, YWCA Salt Lake City, Ferguson Ridge Ski Hill, Dragon Fly Health Foods, Autism Speaks, The Hope Alliance, Natural Birth Project, and Love Whole Heart/Stephanie Pope. Here is her web-site, if you want to take a look at her art:

I'm not an art critic so I don't think I'd be able to do her work justice, but here are some things that Ashley Bennett-Stoddard's art brings to my mind: inspiration, peace, continuity, happiness, female, celebrations, life, blossoming, spirituality, and above all, hope. Thanks to people like Ashley Bennett-Stoddard,who use their gifts to make a difference in the world.

Do you have a favorite local artist? How has art changed your life? And don't forget to comment on Lauren Baratz-Logsted's post for a chance to win a signed ARC of Little Women and Me.

Monday, July 11

(Cover) Art + "Little Women and Me" Giveaway!

The top cover image, with the face of the girk busting through the center of the book, is the most recent cover I've seen for LITTLE WOMEN AND ME, my forthcoming YA novel due out on November 8. It's the cover that's on the ARCs. The one below it, with the girl holding the book, is the first cover we had. My understanding is that there still isn't a final version and I'm anxious to see what that final version will be. I always liken an author seeing her final cover art as being something akin to the moment you have a baby. You've been living with this thing inside you for so long and all of a sudden it's finally out in the world and you're all, "Hello! So that's what you look like!"

Anyway, I'm curious to hear what others think of the above versions. What say you?

And, in case you don't know what LITTLE WOMEN AND ME is about, here's the cover copy:

Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister. So when she gets an assignment to describe what she'd change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can't change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!) But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the 1860s world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won't be easy. And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily-not the four March sisters-who undergoes the most surprising change of all. Lauren Baratz-Logsted's winning confection will appeal to fans of Little Women as well as anyone who enjoys a modern twist on an old favorite.

Finally, I'm hoping you'll be as excited about this book as I am. In order to stir that excitement, I'm offering a signed ARC of LITTLE WOMEN AND ME to one commenter below. Just leave a comment between now and midnight Friday and I'll randomly select the winner. Please do leave your email address if it doesn't automatically follow from your name link so I'll have a way to notify you. Thanks for playing!

Be well. Don't forget to write.

Thursday, July 7

If I could be anyone for a day I would be...

... MY DOG.

I know, I know. I should be posting something profound and thought provoking.

But seriously, what a life that dog has! She naps most of the day until she needs to be let out or wants something to eat or drink. Then she's waited on hand and foot. Granted, the eating part consists of kibble, but still.

To lounge around all day pondering the nuances of life. Or, you know, how many squirrels she could catch if we'd only let her have free reign over the neighborhood. To get belly rubs simply by rolling over and looking cute. To snooze in the sun whenever the mood strikes.

That is the life, I'm telling you.

Other than the kibble part.