Monday, February 28, 2011

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Letters from the past

So I was reading my Freshman yearbook the other day. Yes, reading it. You know, the notes your classmates left in the margins and empty pages telling you to 'have a great summer' and 'keep in touch.' Actually, we had all the yearbooks out. My husband's four years and mine as well. The kids were looking at the pictures and laughing at the hairstyles. Anyway, I got to the middle of my yearbook and came across some familiar handwriting: my own. I had written a note and forgotten all about it.

The note was hilarious. It was actually addressed to my kids. It told them that I was weird (the writing a note to myself proved that point and didn't need to be reiterated with the statement, but whatever) and, among many other things, it told them to remind me of all the things I promised not to do when I became a parent. Ha! Curse you, my fourteen year old self who had no kids and thought it would be a walk in the park to raise children.

My kids laughed and laughed.........and laughed some more. My twelve year old daughter told me that I was a total nerd as a teenager. I didn't deny it. My maddeningly unhelpful advice is to not write your future self notes telling your future self how you should behave. It's not helpful at all.......but it is very funny, so maybe you should.

I will also take this time to tell my friend, Heather Hart, that I saved an entire page for her as noted by the 'saved for Heather Hart, don't anyone dare write on this page unless your name is Heather or I will kill you' at the top and it is very, very blank (aside from the few smart alecs who wrote 'hi' in the corners and will be found after some extensive handwriting comparisons are done). Heather, you owe me a letter about how cool summer is going to be along with how boring teachers are. And it better be a long one. I saved an entire page for you. :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Review--Anna and the French Kiss

I read a lot. So much that when I was entering Stephanie Perkin's contest to win an ARC of Gayle Forman's WHERE SHE WENT I did something really dumb. You see, one of the things we were supposed to do for the contest was describe something we loved about IF I STAY (Gayle's first book). So I described something I appreciated about the book and then went on my merry way, dreaming of reading the second book after winning the ARC.

In the middle of a game of bejeweled blitz, out of nowhere, I realized I had described a scene from a completely DIFFERENT BOOK. Granted, there was a similar scene in the book I was describing, but still.....STILL. I felt so stupid. So of course I went back to her blog and explained the real scene, knowing that I had blown my chances of winning (even though it is a completely random drawing).

But if I didn't know it before, this drove home the point that I read so much that I get my books confused. My brain can probably come up with some really good mash ups, mixing up several books to create a ridiculous one. (Hmmmm.....idea......a mash up segment on my blog......I can do that)

Anyway, as thoughts of my lameness swished around in my head, I realized something else. I hadn't yet reviewed Stephanie Perkin's ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS! This is a tragedy. It was truly one of my favorite reads of 2010.

This book is amazing!! It is cute, fun, romantic, beautiful (and every other happy adjective you can think of). Aside from that, it is deep and thought provoking. And clever. Several times I laughed out loud, not just because something funny was said, but because that something funny was also something very unexpected. I just wrote and then erased one of those very passages. I erased it because I want it to be unexpected for you too. And how did I say all that without mentioning the boy?? Oh, the BOY! He's so adorable. Just an all around great read. (I know some of you like to hear my rating. I would say this is for older teens due to some language, drinking, and sexual references.)

Here is a blurb of the book from Stephanie's blog: "Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt."

Tell me that doesn't sound so great. It is. You should read it. You should also enter her contest.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Conference Edition

I just got back from LTUE (Life the Universe and Everything) which is a Fantasy and Science Fiction conference in Utah. I thought I might share a few things I learned there:

1. Networking=Good

2. Bree Despain gives away some really cool nail polish

3. Don't fly on an airplane in a snow storm

4. Never Give Up

No, but seriously, James Dashner (who is one of the nicest people I have ever met) was the keynote speaker and in his address (which sounds so much fancier than using the word 'speech') he talked about his journey. The key points were: hard work and never giving up. Both of those are so important in this industry. He was also quick to point out that luck plays a big role as well, but I've heard it say that the definition of luck is opportunity meeting preparation. There are so many things we can't control about the journey to publication. Many things are out of our hands. But we can control how prepared we are. Is our manuscript as clean as possible, are we putting ourselves in the right places, are we making connections by helping other writers in their journeys? Are we preparing ourselves for when opportunity comes our way?

I love being around other writers. It really rejuvenates me. Hopefully I'll meet many more of you in "real life" at future events.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I'm the kind of girl who, if I ever got remarried (don't worry, honey, and in-laws, I'm not hinting at anything, it's purely hypothetical) I wouldn't wear white again. I'm not judging those who do, it doesn't bother me at all when others wear white the second time around, that just wouldn't be me. So why am I talking about wearing white a second time? Because in a way I feel like that's what I'm about to do in this post and it makes me feel a little awkward.

You see, I have an agent! I'm so excited about this. More than excited! Over the moon! In fact, I got two offers. Two agents loved my book. And I loved both these agents. Really. Loved. They are both amazing, talented, well-known agents. This was the hardest decision since the See's Candy lady asked me which truffle I wanted to sample. "You mean I have to pick?!?"

Again, what does this have to do with remarriages and wedding dresses? Well, for those of you who have followed my journey for the last few years, you may remember I've had an agent before. Maybe many of you even remember the day my agent's name mysteriously disappeared off my 'about me' section about a year ago with no explanation whatsoever. I will attempt to explain a little bit without disclosing too much personal info because I want to respect her privacy. To make a long story short, she decided to take a big step back from the YA market so we mutually parted ways. I still appreciate all the help and support she gave me and have nothing but good feelings towards her.

So that's where the, 'I feel like I've done this celebration before' attitude came in. I thought to myself (and now write out loud) what gives me the right to scream from the rooftops again? I had to be honest with myself about why I didn't feel like I was allowed to celebrate this major accomplishment. I came to a few (kind of hard to realize) conclusions.

One, I was embarrassed to admit my first attempt to put one of my works into the world failed. It made me feel like a failure, like I had done something wrong. Two, it was a very hard, depressing part of my journey that I kind of just wanted to forget happened at all. So as I was getting ready to announce my very happy news today, and realized these things, I hesitated. I told myself I didn't need to make this announcement at all. And then I got sad. I got sad that I didn't want to share it.

So what changed? Why did I decide to make a big announcement ("big" being a relative term because, hello, this is my blog we're talking about here not Dateline)?

Well, one, because I love my agent and think she deserves to be recognized. But also, because every success and step in this difficult journey to publication should be celebrated! There's too much heartache in this industry to hide the happy moments that make it all worth it! (Yes, I really am screaming these things, so the exclamation points are justified.)

So watch out, people, because not only am I putting on a white dress, but I'm going to have an over-the-top cake and throw a bouquet as I announce that me and MICHELLE WOLFSON (of Wolfson Literary) tied the knot!

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Imprinting

I have so much fun news to share.......soon. I know, so mean.

In the meantime, a duck story.

Much like the tragic imprinting of Jacob on Renesmee, we had a duck imprint on our minivan. It all started when a duckling showed up in our pond, parent-free. The poor duck was all alone. Of course, my kids took pity. We started feeding it and giving it a warm garage to sleep in at night. This duck now loves us. It also really loves our van. When we try to go ANYWHERE, the duck comes running after our van, right under our van to be more specific. It's a suicidal duck. So, we have to climb out of the van, put the duck back in the pond and run for the car. This baby duck may not know how to fly, but have you ever seen how fast a duckling can run? Seriously fast. There it is again, right under the car. I'm sure the neighbors find this game amusing.

Today, I will give the duck a good talking to, the same talk I would've liked to give Jacob. It will go something like this: Imprinting is a serious business. Imprinting on the wrong thing can be both disturbing and a death sentence. Please pick something else to imprint on. I hope that unlike Jacob, this duck is reasonable.

(P.S. I'm not hating on Twilight. I actually loved those books.)

Here is a picture of our duck and my daughter's boots. Isn't it cute? Tell me you wouldn't have started feeding this little guy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--A better way to spend $200

I enjoy watching football. It's a pleasant way to pass the time. I like to root for a team (usually the underdog) and have been known to groan out loud or even yell at the players on occasion. But this is nothing. I know there are some serious football fans out there. Fans that would do anything for their team and never miss watching a game. And I get that. I have a serious thing for cream cheese. Fill a brownie with it and there isn't much I wouldn't do to make it mine.

So I understand, football fanatics, that you would want to go see your team play at the ultimate of all games. But standing out in the parking lot? Really? Does it even count as going to the Superbowl if you can't see the field? And actually paying good money, a lot of good money, to stand out in the freezing cold parking lot? Seriously?

Just in case this occurred because you had nothing better to spend your money on, I offer you my top five ways on how to better spend two hundred dollars.

5. Pretty much on anything else. Especially if it is something you can eat, wear, or actually hold in your hands.

But if you don't want something for your about:

4. Give it to me.

Or if you don't want to give away your money for absolutely nothing...

3. You can watch the Superbowl at my house. I will turn off the heater if it is the "atmosphere" you're craving. I'll put on a cheese hat and yell really loud, too. I'll even stand in front of you so you have a hard time seeing the television.

Totally non-football related...

2. You could buy about fifteen books. (There are even some books that have people playing football in them.)

1. You could buy about ten snuggies. Or ten perfect brownie pans (if you do buy 10, please consider giving one to me). Or five snuggies and five perfect brownie pans. Heck, just have a home shopping network buying spree.

See, look at all these amazing options. So next time you're tempted to buy some standing space in a parking lot to watch television, give me a call and I'll talk you out of it.

What would you buy with $200?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday Review (one day late)

"Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City. When the Martins turn fifteen, they are each expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn."

"Ever since Mrs. Amberson, the former-aspiring-actress-turned-agent, entered Scarlett Martin's life, nothing has been the same.
She's still in charge of the Empire Suite in her family's hotel, but she's now also Mrs. Amberson's assistant, running around town for her star client, Chelsea - a Broadway star Scarlett's age with a knack for making her feel insignificant.
Scarlett's also trying to juggle sophomore year classes, her lab partner who is being just a little TOO nice, and getting over the boy who broke her heart.
In the midst of all this, her parents drop a bombshell that threatens to change her New York life forever..."

Maureen Johnson is so good at bringing her characters to life that, did I not know any better, I would think they actually live in an old hotel in New York. I'm always impressed by people that can take every day situations and completely entertain me with them. And Maureen is an expert. She is also an expert at relationships. It's not many people who can make me care more that the sister and brother make up after a fight than the main girl and love interest. And she does just this. My stomach hurt when poor Scarlett was fighting with her brother in book 1.

These books are fun, smart, and a great read.