Monday, June 30, 2008


Bon Jovi Summertime:

You make me feel something like summertime
Top down ain't nothing but time
Radio's on and you're by my side
Feels something like summertime
Like a first slow dance and a first long kiss
There ain't nothing baby better then this
It's like a beach blanket and a bottle of wine
It feels something like summertime

I’m one of the few kids who didn’t have a summer job growing up. Actually, I wasn’t allowed to work—I played competitive sports for a living. Softball was my career of choice at the time. I didn’t get paid to play, but it sure was fun.

Sometimes I wonder if I missed out on anything by not having a job—even just one day a week. But our softball schedule was so busy I never knew when I would need time off. We traveled every week for tournaments and we had practice on the nights we weren’t on the road. I’m not kidding when I say softball was my job from April through August.

What I loved about not working, was the freedom I had during the day. I would spend most of the time at the swimming pool (except on game days, of course) and we’d always get at least a week’s vacation and go camping.

When I graduated high school, my softball career ended. And I was ready to give it up, honestly. It had been fun, but very demanding, and I was ready to feel grown up and get a job.

Boy, I wish I would’ve waited just one summer longer. I’ve been working ever since!

Here are some things I fondly recall about my jobless summers:

  • Hanging out for 8 hours at the swimming pool, looking at all the hot guys but being too shy to do anything more than look. (FYI, one of those hot guys is now my kids’ pediatrician…)
  • Hanging out at the baseball fields watching all the hot guys in between my games.
  • Going to the lake. Skiing and showing off for all the hot guys.
  • Hot guys.
  • My first kiss was on the lake…with a hot guy of course.

Hm. I think summer for me was all about the hot guys—funny how things really haven’t changed all that much. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have a job. I probably would’ve gotten fired for staring at all the hot guys and not doing my job.

Do you work after school or in the summer? Do you think it enhances or hinders your summer vacay?

No matter what you do during the summer, please remember to make the most out of it...preferably by drooling over a hot guy or two. (or girl. we don't discriminate here at Fictionistas!)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What I Didn't Know Then

Not long ago... about a week ago, actually, the guy I dated through high school sat across from me at a kitchen table. Had I walked past him in a supermarket I would not have recognized him. Not in a million years. He was my first real crush, my first real boyfriend, and my first ordeal with heartbreak. I still consider him a friend.

He was fresh out of rehab. A guy who had been lanky but strong at just a whisker over six feet tall looked like a caricature of an aging rock star. He was paper thin. He had burn scars on his fingers. His teeth showed the evidence of his addiction. But I felt this incredible rush of both protectiveness and pride because he was clean, sober, and out in the world again, taking a chance. On the way home I couldn't resist popping Bob Seger into the CD player.

And the years rolled slowly past
And I found myself alone
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
I found myself further and further from my home
And I guess I lost my way...

My favorite line from that song, Against the Wind, is "wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." This week we've been reminiscing about our youth, and what we know now that might have, perhaps, guided us. I have come to embrace my ignorance from the pulpit of wisdom. I love my mistakes. I'm glad to have had my heart broken long ago by a young man who really did believe he would love me forever.

It was my first great passion. The funny thing is, with only a few exceptions, I still have pretty healthy friendships with many of those I loved and lost. I figure I loved them for a reason at one point and I'm pretty smart-- it couldn't have been that much of an error. (NOTE: I did say there were exceptions.)

That first love-- Tim-- taught me I was worth loving at I time when I didn't believe I was. He's still a good person, one who made terrible choices and hurt himself rather a lot. It broke my heart all over again to see the ravages of those choices in his face and body, but lifted my heart to see the boy still glowing in his eyes. He still has a cute laugh. He has immense talent, and is ready to start painting and sketching again soon. I can't wait to see his work. A part of me is eager to find the pain of his recent years reflected in those canvases. From agony springs genius and all that.

Though I didn't suffer as Tim has recently, I do know suffering, and I do know what it means to wander far from my roots... to find myself in a strange place amidst smiling faces with no warmth, no kinship. I'm so glad, now, that I never severed those ties. That I could call or write, or (later) email some of the same old friends from my meandering youth. The friends who knew me before I knew too much... the shaggy haired poets and singers from the tide-pools of Green Harbor: Pete, Steve, Roxy, Ren, and even Tim... though we had long since ceased to be a couple.

We did love eachother forever. I love him still. He will always be my friend. My heart belongs to another, but my friendship is not a trivial thing. So while we did not, in fact, grow up to live on the same street lined with mansions, where we all drove purple Mustang convertibles, and our band occasionally toured even after we made a bajillion dollars (each), it is no small miracle that the kitchen table at which I sat last week also featured a few of those same faces... and it was Pete's table.

Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then... no, Bob got that one wrong, with all due respect. I want the memory of that agonizing heartbreak. I want to recall the ridiculous idealism of a forever that wouldn't come... not as we had painted it, anyway. I want the battle-scars of my youth. I earned them. And I want to cherish those people who helped create the foundation upon which I now stand. Even now. Even as I type these words, a warm and beautiful man who holds my heart with such care beside me, snoring gently.

All the heartbreaks that came before made this love, the final one, more precious. And they made me a stronger, wiser, better person. A week ago I stood in the kitchen of one of my closest friends and choked back tears to see my first love so battered by life. But I'm glad we all kept one another close so that I could be there.

Last night (glancing at the clock... yes, it's Saturday, just) I celebrated the anniversary of when all my broken hearts ended. I met my Ahmed on June 27th, and before the leaves had finished turning that fall we had each fallen in love for the last time. It wasn't because any of the other good people who had come and gone in my life were inferior. It was that they were meant to be in my life for other reasons.

That first love... the kisses on the sea wall, the long hours lying on the sand looking at the stars and dreaming out loud, the fights that made absolutely no sense... I'm glad I know enough now to realize it was important, and powerful, and good for me. First loves are milestones. I was lucky to stumble on mine with a great kid who proposed marriage to me in a moment of dork bravado that still makes me smile. I'm glad he and I can still tease one another all these years later.

That first love led me to the last one. The first trembling kiss as the sun went down was just the beginning. It was the beginning of a journey, of many loves along the way to getting it right. It helped prepare me for that moment when I was no longer young and strong enough to run against the wind. For when I found myself seeking shelter against the wind.

So if you happen to be young, perhaps in love, perhaps longing to be... I will be the rare old-fogie who will highly recommend it. Fall. You're going to get scuffed up. That poppity feeling in your chest is to be celebrated and cherished. It's going to hurt like hell when it ends, but you'll be ok. You'll be wiser and stronger and one step closer to the big reward...

Funny how it begins and ends with sunsets and kisses, isn't it? Nice, too. I'm terribly glad to know now what I didn't know then.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Wish I'd Known Then...

Dear Teen Gwen,

Hi. You sort of don't know me.Yet.But I am you in the future.First of all, I'd like to point out that you are not fat, flourescent yellow makes you look sallow, and two pieces of Hubba Bubba gum in your mouth is two pieces too many.

I'd also like to let you in on a little secret. Nobody is really paying that much attention to you. They are just as obsessed as you are in their worry about what everyone thinks of them. Seriously, sweetie, nobody cares. You don't have to live so deep in your head. Have a little fun.

But, I'd also like to point out a few things you are doing right. First of all, tell your mother that you will still like Def Leppard when you are forty (in two years, *gulp*). She's completely wrong. You will still even go to their concert and sing loudly when "Photograph" plays on the radio. And the tattoo you want at nineteen? Go for it. You still don't regret it. She was wrong about that too.

Also, you know those two best friends you have had since 7th grade? You'll keep them too. Yeah, even the nutty one. Go figure. Even though you move away from each other and don't always keep in touch like you should, when you get together if feels like no time has passed at all.

That boy that gave you the willies when you were a freshman actually DID join a circus freakshow. Not even kidding.

That boy you had a crush on but pretended not too? He turned out to be a good egg and would have been worth your time. But he is happily married now to a great girl. You'll like her a lot too. Bittersweet is a wonderful emotion.

All that writing you do? Keep it up. I know you won't, not for a long time, but if you would listen to me you wouldn't give it up for quite so long. But that is the thing. I know you won't listen because I am a grown up now. That's okay, there is probably an old lady who wants to write me a letter about my upcoming forties--and I won't listen to her either.

In the meantime, take a bottle, shake it up, break the bubble, break it up....


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Interview With Diana Peterfreund!

I scheduled today's interview with author Diana Peterfreund a few weeks ago, to coincide with the release of the third book in her popular Secret Society Girl series. But then we decided to declare this week "I wish I'd known then" Week.

So I decided to combine the the Fictionistas bring you an interview with a fabulous author, and also let her share some thoughts on what she wish she'd known back in high school.

So please welcome Diana Peterfreund!

Diana, thanks for visiting The Fictionistas! So, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in a blizzard, in a valley carved from ice and rock and ancient waters. As you can imagine, I got out of there as soon as possible and moved to sunny Florida, where I spent my youth either playing "pretend" outside or keeping my nose buried in a book.

I went to Yale for college, where I double-majored in Geology and Literature so I could, claimed my father, "write books about rocks." According to me, I majored in Geology, then took another degree in Lit becuase I kept winding up in those classes anyway. After school, I worked for a newspaper, writing mostly food reviews and a few other articles.

Sometime in the middle of all that, I took off to Australia and New Zealand with my now-husband, and spent six months living in a tent, hitch-hiking, scuba diving, mountain climbing, and spelunking. Now we've settled down somewhat, and live in Washington, D.C., where we spend entirely too much time playing video games like Rock Band, Portal, and World of Warcraft, and spelunking not at all. I write full time, and I have three novels out with Bantam Dell: SECRET SOCIETY GIRL, UNDER THE ROSE, and RITES OF SPRING (BREAK), with two more (From Bantam Dell and Harper Teen) due out in 2009. In addition, I write critical essays on other people's fiction for BenBella Books.

Your most recent book, RITES OF SPRING (BREAK) was released two days ago. What is it about?

In the first book, Amy was initiated into the secret society. In the second, she was a full-fledged member called upon to protect it. In this one, she needs a vacation! She and her fellow knights of Rose & Grave are spending Spring Break at their private Florida island, Cavador Key. It's supposed to be a week of sun and fun, but there are a lot of unfinished issues to deal with, like an ongoing feud with a rival society, old enemies also staying on the island, and some lingering romantic possibilities that could turn into scorching spring flings. The stakes are higher in this book than they've ever been before!

Well, I absolutely adored the first two books, so I can't wait to read this one! Speaking of this series, it's published by an adult Random House imprint, yet the New York Public Library included it on their list of
"Books for the Teen Age". Why did Random House decide to market it to
adults rather than teens?

The NYPL list recommends many adult books to teens. My book appeared in that section of the list, alongside Marisha Pessl's SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS and Diane Setterfield's THE THIRTEENTH TALE. I doubt there are any teens who restrict their reading to solely YA novels, so the NYPL list reflects that.

Random House didn't really "decide" anything, actually. I sold my book to Bantam Dell, which is an adult publisher that is part of Random House. Therefore, the books are adult books. It's really that simple. It's funny -- this is only ever a question I get from other writers, who are interested in the way publishers classify novels. Readers and booksellers just take the books where they find it. And it makes sense because, unlike YA novels, the Secret Society Girl books are not about teens -- all my characters are in their twenties. But, like I said above, most teens I know read a lot of adult books, and I think these books, with their insights into college life, are fun for teens, too!

I definitely agree with you there. So, what "group" did you hang with in school? Do you think hanging with that group influenced your writing?

At Yale, like the houses at Hogwarts, every student is assigned one of twelve residential colleges, where they live for four years. I was very close to the people in my college, Morse. Senior year, one of my roommates and I even threw what we called "The Morse Tower Happy Hour" every Friday evening, all year long, where we served a signature drink each week. I also spent time with people who participated in the same activities, which varied from semester to semester, but might include friends from my geology labs, or a play I was stage managing or costume designing, fellow a capella singers, or writers for the campus tabloid newspaper.

If this influenced my writing, it's because it taught me of the vast diversity on campus, and how so many different kinds of people could be friends with one another and part of the same social circle. In my group of friends in Morse, we had musicians, scientists, actors, Christian evangelicals, social activists, debaters, artists, jocks, people who'd started pornography appreciation clubs (yes, really, and they made a movie about it) -- pretty much anything you can imagine. The characters in my book reflect this diversity -- socialites and academics, computer nerds and politicians, writers and scientists and movie stars -- a little something for everyone. Because Rose & Grave picks students from among the best and brightest of their class at Eli, you're going to see a wide range of interests and personality types trying to work together for the good of the society.

What advice do you have for young writers?

Read a lot and write a lot. I don't believe you can be a good writer unless you soak it up through reading, and I also believe writing is a muscle. The more you write, the better you get at it. The only other advice I would have is not to be in such a hurry to get published. I know there are several teenaged writers out there that are always in the news, and it convinces other teen aspiring writers that if they haven't published by the time they're 20, they are failures, but this isn't true. When I look back at the stuff I wrote in my teens and even in my early twenties -- stuff I absolutely thought was good enough to get published, I feel very grateful that I didn't send them out, and that no one will ever see them but me. I wonder sometimes if people who got published very young look at their early work and wish it was no longer on the shelves. If you're a teenager and you want to be a writer, I recommend writing (if you really want to be a writer, it would be impossible to stop you, anyway!) but also going out and living -- and certainly learning another trade, because the writing business has no guarantees!

Ain't that the truth? What do you know now that you wish the teenage Diana had known back then?

That the people you go to high school with magically disappear the second you graduate. True story. Okay, maybe not entirely true. After all, I do occasionally get emails from at least three people I went to high school with. But all the dramas and romances and life-altering events that cause you pain and angst and heartache -- it's not your life. Wait, even that's not true! My best friend married her high school sweetheart. Hmmmm... No, I think I'm going to stick with my original answer, with the caveat of "unless you don't want them to." That mean girl who made your life a living H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks? Gone. Poof. You never, ever have to see her again. That boy who snubbed you at the dance then made fun of you to all his friends? Poof. That teacher you couldn't seem to please, no matter how hard you worked in her class? Gone, gone, gonesky. So when things are at their worst and you think you're never going to be able to get past it -- remember that's not true. Also, the whole "high school is the best time of your life" thing is a lie. And if it's not, that's probably a bad thing. Because there's a lot of life to come. Like college. I adored college (that's where I met my husband). But even if college life doesn't do it for you, my late twenties have been pretty great too.

Excellent advice. I'm sure your fans will want to know whether you're working on any projects right now. When can we expect another book?

I'm working on the fourth book in the Secret Society Girl series right now, and it's going to be out this time next year. I'll actually have two new novels out in the summer of 2009. The other one is my young adult debut, RAMPANT (Harper Collins), which is an action-packed contemporary fantasy about killer unicorns and the virgin descendents of Alexander the Great who hunt them. It's a real departure from the light comedy in the Secret Society Girl books, and I can't wait for people to read it.

I can't wait to read it, either!

Diana, thanks so much for coming to chat with us today, and I'll see you in a couple of weeks at your signing!

So readers, be sure to buy Diana's new book, RITES OF SPRING (BREAK)!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I wish I'd known then...

That it wasn't all about how others perceived me, but how I perceived myself, especially in these two areas:

1. I spent a lot of time in high school worrying about my body and physical appearance. I wasn't even overweight--I had a nice figure. But I obsessed over the size of my chest in comparison to others, the shape of my thighs, the size of my nose, and so on. To me, what's sad is that one of my most vivid memories of high school is a guy telling me I looked a little chunky. I mean, come on! Why did I give people like that the time of day and give credence to their words? Who cares if my chest was smaller. Who cares about the size of my thighs. What about my sharp wit, my strong laugh, my big heart? THOSE are the things I should be concerned with, size-wise. THOSE are the things that matter most.

2. I also spent time worrying about my popularity. Dude, when you leave high school, no one in college or out in the real world cares who you hung out with. It's utterly pointless, LOL. Hang with the band nerds if you want. Become president of the chess club. Be the top cheerleader or a football star. The point is, do what YOU want, what works for you. Don't do stuff because you're worried about fitting in. Those 4 years of high school go mighty fast...and they're awfully short in comparison to the rest of your life. Don't let that time period define how you perceive yourself.

I realize it's easy for me to dole advice in this manner. Honestly, all I can share is my own perspective on things. But you know what? That's ok. Part of the struggle, the drive of being a teenager is learning SELF-definition. So take my advice with a grain of salt and forage your OWN path. To me, that would be the best option of all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I wish I'd known then...

What I know now about fashion. Man, the 80's were an interesting time in fashion. And since during that decade my parents had a clothing store and I ended up attending a fashion college, I feel like I can speak on this subject.

First, the trends:

The 80's were an exercise in excess and inconsistencies. Super short miniskirts worn with leggings or leg warmers. Religious jewelry draped over corsets and lingerie. Members Only jackets worn by everyone. Fingerless gloves. Giant shoulder pads, massive earrings, oversized tops and big belts. Parachute pants, either skin tight ala Miami Vice or actual parachute-sized ala MC Hammer. There was too much hair, too much make-up, too much jewelry...and that went for both sexes.

Then there were Units. Anyone remember this stellar attempt at fashion? I believe the line consisted of about 6 - 8 main pieces which could supposedly be combined in 100's of ways to make different outfits. Great idea, I guess, but not everyone can wear the same stretchy circle of fabric as a belt, miniskirt, tube top. In fact, we really don't want everyone to.

Having lived through that decade, I'd like to offer you some fashion advice that will carry you through the years:

1. If you don't love it, don't buy it. I don't care if it's on sale for $6.99 down from $75, if a piece of clothing doesn't look good on you, it's not a bargain. All you're doing by purchasing that crap is clogging up your closet with stuff you won't wear and wasting money that could go toward something really nice.

2. Spend big on classics, little on trends. Everyone likes to have the latest thing, and that's fine, just don't blow your budget there or next year, you're going to look last year. Instead, put your money into the stuff that lasts. Classic, tailored pieces like trousers and skirts in neutral colors, good jeans, a crisp white shirt, a little black dress, good black heels. Spend the most you can afford on those things because they will be around forever. Accessorize with the trends and you won't feel so bad ditching them five minutes later when they're no longer hot.

3. Less is more. Buy two $50 shirts instead of 10 for $10. The $50 shirts will be with you long after the $10 shirts have fallen apart in the wash, faded, pilled and started to unravel.

4. Neutrals are anything but. Pick a neutral you love (navy, black, brown, gray) and build from there. One of my favorite outfits is a little black dress with a leopard jacket. A neutral with a pop of color or pattern works every time.

5. Rule of Three. Stick to the rule of three when dressing and accessorizing and you'll never look over done. Take the little black dress and leopard jacket. That jacket is 1, then I add a pair of leopard mules - that's 2, then a leopard ring, that's 3. More leopard than that would be overkill. Apply that rule to evening wear: cocktail dress with (1) sparkly shoes, (2) shoulder-duster earrings and (3) a gold evening bag. You're done! Adding anything else would detract from the pieces you're already wearing.

Now, go forth and shop!

Monday, June 23, 2008

I wish I'd known then...

That my parents weren’t the dim bulbs I thought they were.

When they said things like, “What? You think I wasn’t your age once? You think I don’t know what kids say or do?” I’d just roll my eyes and say, “Whatever.”

Mom would say: “Don’t get your heart broken in high school. They’re stupid boys and they aren’t worth the heartache. You’ll realize what a waste of energy it was when you’re an adult.” I would roll my eyes and say, “Whatever.”

They would both say, “Enjoy your summers while you have them. Don’t piss them away sitting inside watching TV and playing Atari…” (yes, Atari. I know. That makes me old.) Of course, my very appropriate response was, “Whatever.”

Mom: “We know when you’re lying to us, honey. Save yourself the trouble and just tell us the truth. The first time.” Guess what I would say? “Whatever! I am telling you the truth! You just never believe me! Ever!” (defensive much?)

Now I’m a mother to two boys and I’m in the middle of watching history repeat itself. Do you know how many times a week I repeat my mother??? The very woman I barely acknowledged from the age of 12 to 22?

I’m not a stupid mother. I see and hear almost everything my kids do…even when they think I don’t. And I try very hard to advise them in the right direction, but they are stubborn and foolish. Just like I was. And it’s so frustrating because I could teach them so much if they’d be willing to learn from me. But they’re not.

None of us were.

I really, really, really wish that I could travel back to my teenage self and say, “Dude. Pick your battles. You don’t HAVE to argue every point your parents make and like it or not, when you’re 39, you’re going to realize they were right 9 out of 10 times. So shut up and listen.”

Since I don’t see time-traveling in my near future, I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with trying to advise my 14 year-old son like I would’ve advised my 14 year-old-self and hope my words will stick.

I’m not holding my breath.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Technophobia: What Evil Lurks In Your Puter?

They're going to take over the world, you know. Computers. I've seen it in the movies. I've read books. I hear tell. Technology will be our undoing. And as with all big, scary things, it will start with the children.

The internet isn't something we need to teach young people to fear, but if you watch the news you might think so. I've always been cautious with regard to exposing young people to the web. I used to work in internet security as an off-shoot of my language forensics background, and believe me... it's actually safer now. We simply need to respect the powers, dangers, and freedoms that come with a username and password just as we do those that come with a driver's license.

Not as wacky as it sounds. According to the American Psychological Association, there are serious benefits to being a computer nerd. And this news is not new. A study in 2006 showed that between 75 and 90 percent of teens were using the internet for texting, messaging, and email. Even in economically depressed areas most students had access through their schools. And the great news is that kids who use the internet frequently had higher test scores. Low income children show the greatest benefits with internet use.

But that doesn't mean it's all smilies and sunshine. Recent stories in the news of a teen committing suicide following harassment on MySpace and the constant stream of cautionary tales of internet predators abound. It seems almost daily a pedophile is plastered on a front page somewhere and images of a dirty old man crouched over a porn-filled laptop in a dark basement terrify parents.

I think the key should be an obvious one: the aforementioned responsibility. Net Nanny and similar programs can often be counter-productive, limiting access to valuable information about sexuality, STDs, even in some cases blocking sites about breast cancer and HIV. I'm not a fan of censorship. But I like what I see some friends with kids doing; which is monitoring and having open dialogues.

I asked my friend Roxanne, who has two boys breaching puberty, both big fans of the internet, how she handles it. Her solutions seemed wise to me: no online access out of eye-shot; mom and dad are allowed to check browser history; questions such as "what are you doing? always get a straight and verifiable answer or use is restricted. Of course, nothing is a more valuable tool for parents and kids than just talking about it.

It really is no more nefarious, dangerous, or frivolous than a driver's license. You follow the rules and the restrictions appropriate for your age. Parents monitor and pay attention. Kids take precautions and adhere to the rules.

I know technophobia is both contagious and a seductive fear. The world is scary, but we live in it. Chris Hansen has us all scared to death, and that's a good thing. Information is power. And the Information Superhighway now dominates the landscape of our world. It's how we get around. It's how we keep in touch, self-educate, and entertain ourselves. And it's not going away. We might as well prepare ourselves and enjoy the ride.

APA Articles
Connect Safely
Wired Kids

Friday, June 20, 2008

Take Your Blog Reader to Work: Welcome Nathan Bransford

We're starting a new blog feature at Fictionistas called Take Your Blog Reader to Work Day in which we shall go forth and find you interesting, innovative, provacative and sometimes unruly people out in the world living their dreams and being successful at it. We've discussed following your dreams on the blog before--but in case you weren't paying attention--the gist of it is: you should totally do it.

Today we are showcasing literary agent Nathan Bransford with the Curtis Brown, Ltd. agency. He also has a fantastic blog for all things writerly. Whether you are looking for representation or not, you'll find something there you like (especially if you like The Hills). Nathan was also up for a prestigious award at I'll let him fill you in on that one.

Nathan, thank you for joining us today. For our readers unfamiliar with the publishing industry, what is a literary agent? What is your favorite part of the job?

A literary agent fulfills such a wide range of functions it’s difficult to summarize. Basically we manage every facet of the publishing process for the author. We submit book projects to the editors we have carefully chosen and networked with, we negotiate offers and contracts using our experience and expertise, we make sure every part of the book process is taken care of, we explore subrights and licensing opportunities, and ultimately we help build the author’s career. We also provide editorial and marketing guidance, and, of course, therapy.

I love just about every aspect of the job, but it’s particularly gratifying to know that I’m contributing, in my own way, to making great books happen. I also love working with my clients, who are all wonderful.

What is a typical day like?

I get in around 8:00 and send and read e-mails most of the day. I’ll follow-up with publishers on tasks that need to be accomplished and money that needs to be sent, I’ll prepare projects for submission and follow up on others, negotiate contracts, answer queries… lots of staring at the computer. I head home around 5:00 and do all my reading during nights and weekends. I try and squeeze in a lunch break in there, which is typically when I blog.

When did you decide you wanted to be a literary agent and what drew you to the field?

When I took creative writing classes in college I found that I enjoyed critiquing manuscripts more than I enjoyed the actual writing part, so I knew I wanted to go into publishing. I moved to San Francisco and saw a job opening for an assistant to the President of Curtis Brown, which was ridiculously serendipitous because there are very few publishing jobs in San Francisco and I landed with Peter Ginsberg, one of the best agents in publishing. He has been an incredible mentor for me. I started in the San Francisco office, moved to New York for a few years to get that experience, and now I’m back here in San Francisco.

When you think back to your high school years, are you surprised at the turns your life has made? Is this where you expected to be?

When I was in high school I actually thought I wanted to work in the movie business in some non-acting capacity, but I think I ultimately made a good choice because my personality is much more suited to the publishing industry.

You are pretty young in relation to the rest of your industry. Has that helped or hindered the forward momentum of your career?

It’s tough being a young person in publishing, I’m not going to lie. This industry is not growing very quickly, if at all, and there is a great deal of competition for every project. Meanwhile, it feels like there are more and more agents every day. So not only am I competing with the other young people in publishing, I’m also up against people who have been in the industry for a very long time. Now, that said, I’ve been very blessed with wonderful mentors who have been very supportive of me, I feel like I can hold my own against those other agents, and I definitely feel that my familiarity with technology has helped me. I’m very pleased with how far I’ve come, but this industry is not one for the impatient.

How do you feel about the Gawker poll? And how many times can we vote without being called a stalker?

I was 50% flattered and 50% horrified. I had no idea about any of it until someone sent me the link. Voting is finished and I seem to have come in second, but, you know, sometimes you win by losing.
(Edited by Gwen to add: It isn't for lack of my votes that he didn't win. I have more than one computer. Just sayin.)

What was life like for Nathan Bransford when he was 16? Were you a happy guy? Jock, Nerd, Artist? If you could pick a character from any teen movie or television show out there, which character represents teen-you the most? Bonus points if you pick someone from the 80's.

I grew up in a very small farming town and went to school with pretty much the exact same people from kindergarten all through high school, so we didn’t really segregate ourselves into types. We knew each other far too well for that. I’d say I was a nerd who didn’t get stuffed in the trash can, and I got along with most everyone. I played some sports (not too hard at a school of 400) and did extra-curriculars to the point of exhaustion. As far as a character from a teen movie…. Hmmm… I’d probably go with that kid from Can’t Hardly Wait who goes from a nerd to being cool at the party back to being a nerd again.

We ask all our guests to provide us with a prom picture from their high school days. Feel free to attach. No really, I'm serious.

Sorry, those records are permanently sealed.

If you went back in time to visit your teen self, what random piece of advice would you tell TeenNathan?

Teen Nathan, you should learn all you can about farming while you’re in Colusa because when you go out into the real world and people have random questions about farming because your parents are farmers, they get really confused when you don’t know very much.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and your iPod had only three songs on it, which would you hope they were?

Wow, that’s a tough one! I figure I’ll be there a while so I guess I better choose long songs:
“To Here Knows When” – My Bloody Valentine
“I Heard You Looking” – Yo La Tengo
“Etude in E (#3)” – Frederic Chopin

Use this space to plug whatever you want:

Please visit my blog! And thanks very much for this opportunity.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

MSNBC needs a course in logic

In a poll this week on whether their readers read romance novels, MSNBC has shown itself to either be blatantly biased against the best-selling fiction genre, or that its reporters desperately need a course in logic.

The question reads: "Do you read romance novels?" and the answers are as follows:

* Yes, yes, yes! Bodice-rippers are my ultimate escape.
* No way. I don't touch those books.
* Sometimes, while on vacation or at the beach.

OK, let's think about this. If you read romance novels while on vacation or at the beach, then by definition, you read them. Therefore, the answer should be "yes."

But splitting this into two categories just reinforces the idea that we should be ashamed of reading romance novels (as does posting an excerpt from Danielle Steel's, that was painful), that it's something we should be reading hidden away at home.

I live in a town where people read the most pretentious cr@p while they're riding the Metro. Seriously. I'm not sure whether they truly enjoy this stuff, or whether they just read it to show how smart they are. And I admit it. I used to choose the books I'd read on the Metro by whether their covers would embarass me or not.

But I got over that. Screw 'em. I know I'm smart. I don't need to prove it by choosing the most boring esoteric reading material possible. I do enough dry reading in my day job...I'd rather escape and enjoy myself when I read for fun.

Anyway, what about you? Do you enjoy escapism in your reading material? There's nothing to be ashamed of. After all, 70% of the respondents (as of the time I'm posting this) agree that escapism is a good thing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Funny t-shirts

Today's post is all pics, all the time. LOL. There are some REALLY funny t-shirts out there on the interweb. Here are a few that make me giggle (images courtesy of if you wanna buy any!):

What about you--any cool places to look for funny t-shirts? Any t-shirt images that make you snort out loud?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vacation Therapy

I'm back from a long weekend with my hubby's family. Long being the operative word. Why does it take an act of congress to get 10 people up, ready and moving in the same direction in the morning? Why does it take so long for a group to make a decision? Why do they move so slowly once that decision is made?

I swear, I need a vacation from my vacation.

It wears me out, all that thinking and discussing and planning. I'm more of a "just do" kinda person. It takes me about 5 seconds to make a decision about something and then act on it, so maybe you can understand why I'm so worn out.

Do you have to destress from your family vacations too or is it just me?

Monday, June 16, 2008


Last week, I took a few days off for a little girl time at the lake with two of my friends. We had the best time doing nothing.

I read two books, wrote a lot, had some fun with the wilderness playing Wild Kingdom. (I know, totally before your time, but whatev. It was one of my fave shows growing up.) And I worked on my tan. (Which is magically delicious now, thankyouverymuch. No lectures on tanning. At least I use sunscreen opposed to using Crisco or Baby Oil and Iodine when I as in High School...)

There is a lot to be said for recharging your batteries. I didn't even realize how much I needed the energy boost until I came home. There was a time in my life I never wanted to be alone. Never wanted the world to be quiet around me. Now I crave it sometimes. Does that mean I'm turning into a crotchety old woman?

Surely not.

For me, I spend so much time keeping busy or keeping my kids busy, that I lose track of myself. and I'm just selfish enough to not wanna do that. I'm not one of those people who never puts her needs first--and I think that's part of the reason I'm a pretty darn happy person. It took me a long time to get to this point in my life though.

I think, for girls especially, many of us fall into the people pleasing trap. We want to make everyone happy. We make good grades, we use our manners, we meet expectations (exceeding them usually), we drop everything for friends and family...and then we turn into adults who do the same thing. And we lose ourselves completely.

If you can take some time, (before you're married with children), to learn how to keep yourself mentally happy (and then apply those techniques after you're married with children), then the rest of your life will benefit. Everyone needs to have their batteries recharged. Just don't wait until you feel completely drained, because then it will take more than a couple of days in the woods to make you feel whole again.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I live in a small village, part of an average sized rural New England town. Everyone knows everyone. We are territorial, private, and proud.

And right now we are shocked.

Wednesday night, while I was away, a new restaurant down the street was the scene of a hate crime. A young black man was beaten and cut with broken bottles. The article appeared on the front page of The Patriot Ledger, the local newspaper. I was stunned. It's very rare that anything slips by me in this little village, which came into its own in 1640. We've been here a while. Things are close-knit. Secrets have a very short shelf life.

So Saturday morning saw many people in absolute astonishment that this thing happened around midnight a few days ago. "Summer homes," many muttered, assuming the small vacation rentals and family retreats nearby, curling around the harbor, were empty. Hoping, perhaps, that this explained things. Because this man ran for his life. He was chased by four strangers-- two of them from our own town. One from right here in Green Harbor, just a few blocks away.

There are racists everywhere. I've encountered religious and racial intolerance aimed at me... and have encountered it even more often with Ahmed in my life. When you love a man with richly beautiful features, a lovely accent, and a name not common on your block you find out quickly that what makes your heart skip a beat for good reasons can also cause others' hearts to stammer with fear for no rational reason. It makes you angry. It makes you nervous. It makes you wonder. It makes you think.

Mostly it makes you live in fear, too.

The most disturbing thing about this, for me, was the age of the attackers. The youngest was 17. They ran this guy down, and though no jury has yet met-- and they are guilty until proven innocent, witnesses are saying there was no reason outside of skin color. The owners of the restaurant have turned surveillance tapes over to the police. I'm relieved to see local law enforcement taking it very seriously.

I don't want it in my town. I don't want it on my street. And while I can't do much about the ignorance of others what I CAN do is lead by example and refuse to accept the plague of hate in my presence. I was sickened to read this story on a beautiful summer Saturday morning.

But I felt a huge wave of relief as my friends and neighbors, plucking the same newspaper from the stand, stood shoulder to shoulder with me at the pharmacy, outraged. And later at the deli, outraged. And again at Starbucks, outraged. I want us outraged. I want us rabidly angry. I want us to form a wall of human fury.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Review of Sundays at Tiffany's

Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

What if your imaginary friend from childhood was your one true love?

Jane Margaux, daughter of a larger-than-life Broadway producer, has spent her life in her mother's shadow. As a child, Jane received very little attention--save for the weekly trips to Tiffany's with her mother, who commandeered all attention directly to herself. Jane did have Michael, her imaginary friend, and he was handsome, smart, charming and her very best friend. Her favorite times were eating sundaes on Sunday at Tiffany's with Michael.

Children grow up, though. And on her ninth birthday--perhaps a day she needed him most, he broke the news that he had to leave her for good. The one thing that eased both of their minds was that she would not remember him.

Only she never did forget.

In her thirties, Jane is still lonely. A successful writer now, she still struggles to live her own life and not be just another of her mother's productions. One Sunday, she happens upon a handsome, smart, and charming man--the man she wasn't supposed to remember.

Not understanding how or why they were brought together again, they embark on what seems to be a predestined relationship. Until Michael begins to feel that he was perhaps brought back into her life to help Jane through another of life's transitions, perhaps her final one.

I loved Jane. Absolutely adodred her. She was very believable and likable and really really funny. The story moved quickly and had a few twists to keep me interested. The premise was engaging and the tagline made me squee with joy at the thought of reading the story. I think, though, that I wanted to love this book more than I actually did.

I was a little disappointed with the length, mostly because I wanted more explanation about Michael's life as a childhood companion. Patterson and Charbonnet sort of glossed over the world-building for imaginary friends--and I think that could have been fascinating and would have enriched the story. I also never got over a slight discomfort over Michael being an adult when Jane was a young girl and then becoming her love interest later in life. I had the same echo of discomfort reading The Time Traveler's Wife.

The rest of my hang-ups are a bit on the nit-picky side and are more publisher related than story related. Stuff like: Jane is blonde, but the cover model has dark brown hair; the font is huge meaning the book is actually shorter but we are tricked into thinking it's longer (which is okay for an ARC, but I'd not have been happy to spend that kind of money on the hardback); and I couldn't help feeling that Gabrielle Charbonnet didn't get very much credit (read the back flap and you'll see what I mean).

However, in the end, the impression Sundays at Tiffany's left me with was that love is real, that imagination is tangible, and that I'd probably be happy to be an afterthought on the back flap of a book jacket if I was lucky enough to co-write a book with James Patterson too.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Disordered Eating...It's Not Just for Teenagers

According to the May 2008 issue of SELF magazine, more than 6 in 10 women are disordered eaters, and another 1 in 10 have actual eating disorders.

That statistic floored me. So I read on.

SELF magazine identified the following types:

* The calorie prisoner: 38% of women eat tiny portions, obsessively count calories and eat only a few "safe" foods (often nonfat, low-carb) to keep from gaining.

* The secret eater: 35% of women will eat well in public, but once they're alone, they binge. They may even lie and say they've already eaten to avoid dining with others, and then overeat alone later.

* The food addict: 13% of women binge when they're sad...or happy, using food as their drug. They think about food every hour or more and are more likely than other types to eat when they're not hungry.

* The career dieter: 14% of women have dieted for more than 3/4 of their adult life. 6% have dieted nearly full-time. Many of these women were overweight as children.

* The purger: 33% of women have vomited or used laxatives or diuretics at least once to fight weight gain. Some purge regularly.

* The extreme exerciser: Less than 1% of women work out too hard and too often in the name of weight control. They feel extremely guilty if they miss a workout and will exercise even when injured.

More statistics:

27% of women surveyed by SELF said that they would be "extremely upset" if they gained just five pounds. Most specialists will tell you that this is not a healthy reaction.

And while this survery focused on disordered eating as opposed to eating disorders, more than 10% of women aged 25-45 have a true eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

I will admit that when I was a teenager pursuing my dance dream, I picked up some very unhealthy habits that I kept secret from my parents. Yet, I didn't realize it was a problem. But you know what? The fact that I knew I needed to keep this behavior away from my parents, was probably a big giant clue that it was unhealthy. I guess I just didn't want to acknowledge that.

As a preteen and teen, we had weekly weigh-ins at my dance studio. I never had to worry about this, as I was very tiny. But I saw girls who were even just 1 pound above my dance teacher's "ideal chart" (which looking back on it, was nowhere near the weight ranges that are considered healthy...we're talking 20 pounds or so below that) being put on various restrictions. So even though I never had to worry about it, I'm convinced I internalized bad behaviors and a believe that this was normal.

Of course we would eat carrots and drink water and consider ourselves full. We didn't want to be pulled out of the front line of a piece and stuck into the back, or worse yet, pulled out of the piece entirely. Because they'd been known to do that. Who wants to showcase the fat girl? (Please note that the last sentence should be read in a sarcastic tone of voice...none of these girls were even anywhere close to being fat. We lived in a skewed reality.)

I would often tell my mom I wasn't hungry or that I'd already eaten, just because I was worried I might gain weight. I never threw up, but I would eat secretly, when nobody was watching. You know that old adage about how if a tree fell in the forest and nobody saw it...well, if nobody saw me eat, then those calories wouldn't count. When my mom wasn't looking, I would scarf whole bags of cookies and candy, and then blame the missing snacks on my brother. And then I would feel guilty about my binge, so I would push myself even harder the next day.

I guess I should have known this behavior wasn't healthy when, at age 13, I got to actually dance in the ballet I was understudying...because a 16-year-old from the company was hospitalized with bulimia. But I wasn't like her at all. Sarah (name changed) was sick. She made herself throw up. I didn't do that.

I was fine. Besides, everyone else did it, too.

I don't think I realized my problem until college, when I was faced with several sorority sisters who were recovering anorexics and bulimics. But even still, they were sick. I was healthy.

I was normal.

Except that sometimes I would forget to eat. Not on purpose, mind you. It really only happened when I was exceedingly stressed out with studying and other activities. But when I passed out after a particularly strenuous swing dancing class, following a period of three days during which I inadvertantly drank only water and didn't eat anything except maybe a bagel one of the mornings, I realized that maybe I had a problem. Not an eating disorder, but I was definitely a disordered eater.

Anyway, if you have any of the behaviors identified at the start of this blog, how can you get and stay healthy again? (List taken from SELF magazine, May 2008.)

Even out your eating.
Disordered eating is all about extremes (too few or too many calories, hating your body when it's big and loving it when it's skinny), so a moderate approach can head of unhealthy choices. First step is to always eat breakfast every day.

Separate mood from food.
The next time a bad day sends you to the cookie jar, walk into another room and set a timer for five minutes. While it ticks, talk to yourself and figure out what's bothering you and whether there is a better way to deal with it. Even if you go back to the snacks, you'll at least have begun exmaining how your feelings drive your eating.

Think differently.
Focus on whether you're getting nine small servings of veggies and fruit every day rather than what you think you need to cut out of your diet.

Take it slowly.
If you do need to lose weight, make doable changes one day at a time: add a veggie to dinner, take a walk after lunch.

Embrace change.
Instead of trying to reclaim the thighs of your youth with brutal workouts, buy clothes that make you look amazing right now.

Find relatable role models.
As a body type to emulate, choose someone who reflects your values, such as a friend or a down-to-earth celeb.

Do it for the girls in your life.
Don't announce in front of children how fat you feel unless you want them to hate their body, too. Kids pick up on everything, and you can be a positive role model. If you're confident, you will send the message that it's possible to love your body at any size.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Career Planning for Dummies

Since I've sold my trilogy (man, I never get tired of saying that, haha), I'm doing a lot of thinking about career planning. I plan to have a good talk with my agent next week, and I'm eagerly looking forward to it. Some of the questions I've been asking myself are, what kinds of books do I see myself writing, and how many can I write in a year to keep up with my expectations? Where do I want to be in a year? Five years? Ten years?

Well, owning my own island and having a butler bring me chocolate martinis while I'm lounging beachside in my own resort would be the ultimate life. But since that's not likely, it's time to be realistic. LOL

When I was a teen, I had about a billion different careers I wanted to try. It wasn't until I was well into college that I decided pursuing an English degree would be the right move for me. However, I knew some people who even back in school knew exactly what career was right for them--and sure enough, they stuck to it and finished.

I always wished I could be like that. But I had too many interests to pick one job quickly and say for sure, "Yup, that's the one for me." Luckily, that's one of the fun things about being an author--I can try out different lives, different jobs, different points of view to mix things up a bit so I don't get bored.

So, what about you--did you always know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you have a career plan, and if so, have you stuck to it faithfully, or has it changed over time?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm An Addict

There. I said it. I have an easily addicted personality. Fortunately, it doesn't involve drugs or alcohol. It runs more to the...okay, fine, I'll say it...the gaming side of things. Not gambling. Gaming. As in the Sims or other numerous online RPG's that I refuse to name. Seriously, I can beat you to a pulp on so many different levels with so many different creatures/warriors it's not even funny. I can also tell you that I finally uninstalled Sims from my pc after I'd played it 6 hours straight without stopping. I had no idea I'd played it that long. 6 hours...just gone.

And now a new game is calling to me. SPORE. Sweet, delicious, interactive SPORE. From the Sims people, so you know it's good. Basically, you grow your own organism from a single cell into a being. I know some of you out there are like, um, and this is hard to ignore how? But I want this game. Badly. I've wanted it for years, which is how long it's been in production. I also know I'll become addicted to it and play it endlessly for days while nothing else gets done. And I mean nothing.

So I'm trying not to think about how the game will be available for purchase next week. I'm also trying not to visit the website so that I don't download the creature creator. I will be strong. I will not cave.


Please tell me you have addictions too?

Monday, June 09, 2008

old dreams to new...

When I finished high school, I wanted to be an actress. Not just any actress, I wanted to be a Soap Star. How awesome would it have been if that show "So You Wanna Be a Soap Star" had been around in 1987...

Unfortunately, I let a few naysayers douse my dreamfire in water and it took me a long time to rekindle it. I never lost my desire to act, (If you're ever out with me, you'll see. I am very good at putting on a production. And if you get Kristen and I together? We should charge admission.) but I never pursued acting professionally. I went about my business, got a college degree, and found a job that would pay the bills.

And I was miserable. I did not just want to work to make ends meet. I wanted to enjoy my job.

When I turned 30, we moved out of state--away from friends and family. I did the stay at home mom thing for a while, but I needed some creative stimulation. I was daydreaming a lot. And finally, I started channeling my boredom, imagination and my desire to be an actress into a new creative outlet...writing.

That's where I found that I could be whoever I wanted to be, say whatever I wanted to say, and look like a million dollars. It was a whole new world for me...and a whole new dream.

And it makes me very happy.

I used to think I regreted not running off to become Erika Kane's latest long-lost daughter. But now I realize that's not true. I didn't pursue one dream, only to find myself another one. (and frankly, a better one. I never could've kept myself skinny for that long. I would've been miserable.) If you find yourself hesitating on following a dream, maybe it's not the right dream. Or not the right time. If finances aren't there, or the parents aren't supportive, don't fear. The universe could just be telling you that your time will come later. Just be patient.

But if you feel like the time is now, go for it! I envy your fortitude. Each dream we pursue makes us stronger. This is a case where more is definitely better.

Dream big or stay home. That's my motto.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Heroes Falling and Flapjacks Flying

I'm a sports chick. I used to play with the guys, though I never did see they mythical "all guy plus one" teams alleged to pepper the neighborhoods of America. When I was a kid there were both girls and boys on every corner lot with baselines carved into the grass by wear and tear. The notion that girls liking sports made them "tomboys" always confused me. I never knew "girly girls" really existed. All the girls in my neighborhood loved kickball, dodge-ball, and dirt. We wore makeup in high school, liked boys, and would slug anybody who said a word against our home team. And everybody-- regardless of gender-- loved the Sox. Which wasn't always easy... we waited 86 years for that series win, you know. I mean, they let school out early back in the day when Pudge waved a dinger to glory, and when Buckner made a small ummm... error with a ball... we've moved on from that one recently. Not going to talk about that.

So my fan loyalty is serious. I know my Red Sox obsession can, on occasion, be unhealthy. I'm owning it, k? Cut me some slack. Yet, regardless of my adoration, when a relationship is in trouble, pretending everything is fine doesn't work. If we ignore the problems they grow. So I'm putting it out there. I'm facing it. There's an elephant in the dugout.

What was up with the in-house spat? I'm not saying that Red Sox Papa figure Curt Schilling is wrong in his dismissive assessment. Guys who are like brothers, guys who work together closely, guys who are passionate about what they do... they're going to have occasional releases of steam. And maybe it means nothing. Honestly? The other night, when Coco Crisp started a bench-clearing brawl the other night... I wasn't shocked. I'll admit I wasn't even all that disappointed, though that's probably the wrong attitude.

But when Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis-- two very significant Red Sox icons, for the sports-impaired-- had a dust-up right there in their own dugout I felt cold dread. Ice in my veins. Pain. Hurt. Confusion.

It reminded me of the tangled knot of feelings I would feel, as a little girl, when my brothers fought. I mean, they'd roll around in the dirt and pound the daylights out of one another. You'd swear on your life they hated eachother and were out for blood. It looked that way.

In that moment, in the dirt, with the insults and fists flying, they probably thought they hated eachother. And it used to freak me out. And I would get upset, and scared, and sometimes when I was really small I would cry.

In retrospect, those fights-- and even the recent scrap between my Fenway boys-- actually represented a level of intimacy that has to be pretty deep. We are most willing to hurt those closest to us for a reason. We trust them, unconsciously, to forgive us. We are passionate in our pride and love for them, so our disappointment goes just as deep.

And heroes do, now and then, stumble.

So Curt Schilling, that grampy old guy who knows a thing or two about heroism, is right. They're not just team mates; they're not just two guys in uniforms; they're brothers. Even the generally vitriolic Boston press could find absolutely no hostility between the two guys a day after the incident. A couple of lockers apart, they puttered around the locker room as usual.

So it's probably just like it is with all of us. Families, even really good ones, fight. It looks bad if it takes place in public, sure. I mean, if you chuck a flapjack at your brother down at the IHop people will probably think you were raised by terrible parents and hate one another. They don't know your history. They don't know you tell that story every Christmas and laugh. It's over, and now it's funny. But you know the back-story. There were comments about a certain boy, a syrup situation, something involving sneakers borrowed without permission...

Like Jonathan Papelon (pitcher, for the sports-impaired) said, he has had pretty bad fights with his own brothers, but it's normal. "Josh broke my nose," he said, but "when it's all said and done, you still have love for eachother."

Way to out your baby brother there, Pap. Watch out for flying flapjacks. I'm just sayin'...

So ok. I once cut nasty strips into my oldest brothers' sideburns right before he got called to National Guard duty because he didn't give me notice before demanding the haircut. And I used to mess up the back of his head pretty bad and wait to see how long he'd go without noticing it. My baby brother got me in trouble for nothing once and I convinced him he had neglected his teddy bear and it was dead. He tearfully agreed not to confess to anyone and let me bury it in the back yard to "cover for him," while he watched and cried. (Dad unearthed the corpse while rototilling the garden years later. The look on my brother's face as the memory flooded back was pretty scary. It was like CSI Green Harbor... the body in the garden came back to haunt me.) One of my brothers had a bulls-eye burn scar on the end of his nose for months after a car cigarette lighter incident in the back of an Oldsmobile.

So... what magnificent torments have you inflicted on the siblings you love? Spill it!

Friday, June 06, 2008

If you film it, they will come

The only thing I love as much as reading books is watching movies.
And movies made from books seem like such a good idea--but I have found that usually I either like one or the other more.
So I'm not sure how I feel about Twilight by Stephenie Meyer being made into a movie.
On one hand, the actors don't really do justice to the ones in my head and I 'm a little peeved that they didn't actually film it in Forks, WA. Because I live an hour from Forks in Port Angeles--remember Port Angeles is where she got attacked in an alley after she got lost? (Though, would be REALLY hard to get lost here. Downtown is six blocks.)
I got to thinking about how people say the movie is never as good as the book--and I realized that I am kind of the opposite.
For instance, my favorite movie of all time is The Princess Bride. The book? Not so much. There was way too much author intrusion. The story should have been the story.
Another? Sex and the City. I haven't seen the movie yet but I own the series. I adore the series. I. Hated.The.Book. Not just a little either. The things that made the show so compelling were conspicuously absent from the pages of the book.
Other movies I enjoyed more than the book were Practical Magic, Jurassic Park, Terms of Endearment, It, and um....any John Grisham movie cuz I just can't get into the books.
But then...there were some stinkers too. For instance, I love the cartoon adaptation of the Grinch....but hate the Jim Carrey one.
And Circle of Friends is a push because I enjoyed both, but the book had so many more layers.
So...what about you? What are your favorite adaptations and which do you wish would be sucked into a black hole?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hot and Sweaty...With No Power

We think the power went out around 4 pm yesterday, during the height of the storms. We're not sure. That's just a guess.

All we know is that when Mr. Brice and I got home from work around 6:30, it was out. We waited around until almost 8 before going out to dinner, because we were convinced it would come back on at any moment.

It didn't.

It's still not on, and the electric company has deemed our neighborhood a "severe damage" zone. Their best estimate is 10 pm Friday night.


And crappy daughter that I am, I proceeded to call my mom and b!tch at her (yeah, like it's really her fault) about having no power. It wasn't until about 10 minutes after I hung up that I realized I forgot to wish her a happy birthday.

So Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Chivalry is dead...or is it?

image from

One of the things that irritates me about society today is the lack of social graces and general care for others--now, don't get me wrong. It's not everyone, and it's not all the time. And no, I'm not one of those old fogies who sits on her lawn and sprays people with the water hose when they cut through my grass (though how fun would that be? haha).

But if you ask me, politeness to others has gone downhill. People cut each other off while driving, more concerned with texting their friends or eating their massive double cheeseburger than with road safety. People let the door slam shut behind them, right in your face, without holding the door open. People yap on cell phones right in the middle of movies, not caring that you paid twenty some odd bucks just for tickets (not including drinks and snacks), and you'd like a little peace and quiet to watch the film, not listen to them on their phone.

What brought about this change in society? When did this start? Because behaviors like these were frowned upon not that long ago...and yet, this sort of self-centeredness, this impoliteness has gradually seeped in and become almost mainstream. It's hip to be self-focused, I think.

Not in my house, though. I'm one strict mama, and my kids are gonna be polite to others, come hell or high water.

So, what brought this rant on? Well, thanks for asking! LOL

Yesterday, when I was heading with my family into the mall to buy a couple of pairs of much-needed jeans, a guy and a girl were walking in together right in front of me. The guy opened the outer door and let the girl walk through, then continued to hold the door open for me and my family. I was duly impressed and appreciative--kudos to you, mysterioso guy!

When the girl reached the inner set of doors, did she return the favor to him, or bother to hold the door open for me and my family? NOPE. Instead, she plowed through, letting the door slam right in my face. No, I ended up opening that door and holding it open for the guy and my family.

And you know what's sad about stuff like that? The more girls like that act snotty and rude and treat people like this, the more it will likely make other people say, "What the hell? Why am I even bothering when I'm not getting the courtesy back?"

Ladies--you want respect? You want a date who has good manners and courtesy? SHOW MANNERS AND COURTESY IN RETURN. And hold the damn door open, please. The world does not revolve around you.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Write Friends

I currently have a house guest who I had never met until she showed up at the airport. Now, before you freak out, you have to know that I've actually known her for about four years. We'd just never met face to face. See, she lives in Tasmania and I, obviously, don't. We met online as critique partners but quickly became friends. And the friendship stuck. Getting to meet her has been such a cool experience.

Reminds me of when I was a teenager and...well, first let me give you some background. I was a geek. A nerd. And a comic book junkie. Spiderman was my drug of choice. My one and only BFF was a Batman devotee. Every Saturday we would ride our bikes up to the 94th St. mall and get our fix at Geppy's Comics.

At some point, I got a wild hair and decided to write a fan letter. (Lots of people did.) Not only did they print the letter in the back of comic in the fan letter section, but they included my complete address. (They did this to everyone. I doubt they do it today.)

Now, you must understand that A. a girl reading comics was a rarity, B. Kristen is always a girl's name, C. the almost entirely male comic book audience was smart enough to do the math.

Letters began pouring in. Letters from other comic book geeks. Other male comic book geeks. There were times when my mother had to go to the post office to pick up our mail because it would not fit into the mailbox. It came in bucket loads. This continued until the last few letters trickled away while I was in college.

A few of the guys I wrote back to and developed friendships with. There was one in Milton Keynes, England. A US Army soldier in Germany. A very sweet guy in Buffalo, NY. They sent clothes, comics, mix tapes, drawings, photos, diamond jewelry, came to visit me...and asked me to marry them. One of them also stood me up for prom, but I digress.

Anyway, that was my experience with pen pals. Did you have any as a kid? Or has the age of email changed all that?

Monday, June 02, 2008


Chrissy blogged about friends the other day, and I'm going to continue with that theme.

I saw the Sex and the City movie this weekend. It was an emotional rollercoaster full of happiness, nostalgia and real life pain. But most of all, it was a great lesson on friendship and forgiveness.

True friendship comes unconditionally and the movie was a great example of how fiction can portray real life. I highly recommend the movie to anyone sixteen and up (it's pretty darn Racy--hence the R rating)--even if you didn't follow the show, I think you'll leave the theater with a good understanding of what friendship can and should be.

I have one really good friend from high school. We've remained very close all these years. We survived high school, colleges, broken hearts, getting fat, getting skinny (and getting fat again) babies, money troubles and moving away. What we have is special. I know this. I think the reason we found each other and have remained such good friends is because we truly put no conditions on our friendship.

As an adult, I've learned to go with my gut when it comes to forming lasting friendships. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to learn that lesson, and I ended up hurt because I had chosen a few friends who did not know how to be a "friend" back. I don't regret the lesson I learned when the friendship fell apart because it taught me to be true to myself no matter what.

The point of my rambling is, be true to yourself and your real friends will be true to you. You may end up weeding out a faux friend or two, but when its all said and done, your true friendships will be stronger than ever. Go with your gut. It really won't lead you astray.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

And the winner is....

By using a random comment selector generator....otherwise known as "Honey, pick a number 1-12, the winner of Friday's drawing is Jacquie Rogers!

Jacquie, please email the Fictionistas as with which ebook you would like by Imogen Howsen (Fire and Shadow or Falling)

Congrats and thanks all who commented!