Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Man Capris and Leather Pants--yay, or nay?

I heard an interesting survey on the radio the other day--something like over 90% of women surveyed said they would not date a man who wore leather pants. The manpanion joked he was surprised it was that low, LOL.

(image courtesy of

Yanno, I wonder if there's a survey somewhere about the trend of man capris...

(image courtesy of

Do you think the leather pants survey is dead-on, or do you disagree? Do you think man capris look hot on guys, or do you think they're creepy weird?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To finish or not to finish, that is the question

I'm talking about books, in case you're wondering. Because if I were talking about chocolate cake, finishing wouldn't even be a question.

What I want to know is, do you finish a book even if it's not holding your interest? Or if it's just an okay read? Do you keep going, hoping the story will take some amazing turn that will redeem everything else you've slogged through? Or do you stop, put the book aside and reach for something new?

I used to be a compulsive finisher, but now, not so much. I figure life's too short to read boring books, you know? And I'm struggling with this decision right now - I started reading a book that's the first in a very popular YA series and while it started out pretty good, it's quickly gotten very "meh" for me. I don't care about the characters, which to me, is a big downfall. Why should I keep reading about people I have no empathy for?

So what do you do? Finish or put it aside?

Monday, September 28, 2009

when I grow up...

Yeah, let's face it...that ain't never gonna happen.

But when I was younger chronologically, I always dreamed I would grow up to be one of two things:
  1. a soap opera actress
  2. a teacher

Weird, huh? Two completely different career paths...and both still not taken.


Writing for me is a lot like acting. I throw myself into the scenes as I write them. I pretend I'm a character in the book, I imagine what would happen if the scene was being directed, and I try to make the moment as visual as possible with as few words as possible. I am a dialogue girl, after all.

And then there's the teaching thing. I did work for 10 years in early childhood education...and I'm actually considering taking the alternative teaching route to become a middle school English teacher now. It's something I've always regretted not pursuing and a girl is never too old to add another career notch to her belt.

What about you guys? What do you want to be when you grow up? Or if you're chronologically an adult, did you follow your original career path?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

If A Tree Falls On This Blog...

I'm writing this even though I've already written it and am not actually here.

Ok, I'm here in the cosmic sense... just not online writing this... because I already wrote it. Err.

Previously. Sort of thingy.

Ok, let me back up...

This week I had to have my tires rotated and my oil changed... which is code for "medical crap." And because I knew I'd be down for the count I decided to pre-write two blog posts, save them, and use the delightful little "pre-post" option brought to you by Google, Blogger, and the letter Q. Cool, ennit?

So here I am blogging, even though I'm not. Technology, she is a wicked pistol!

But it got me thinking about why many people-- maybe even all people-- write. In a sense, on some level, don't we all hope to leave behind a part of ourselves on the page? Will Shakespeare ever really vanish? Seems unlikely. Whatever condition his mortal coil may be in, his words live on.

I wonder how long Google/blogger would leave a blog that was neglected sitting there, its archives speaking into the internet infinity? I wonder if I could pre-blog 5200 posts, predate them to post once a week, and live on for 100 years? I wonder if anyone would still read them?

Don't panic... I'm too lazy and nowhere near that disciplined. But it is an interesting notion. How many diaries are still making a difference, long after their authors have passed? Anne Frank comes to mind.

So anyway, I'm not here. But my words are. And I am still here-here... like HERE in the cosmic, walking-around here sense... well more laying around. Laying around and being a pain in the backside, most likely. Coughing. Watching sad movies. Demanding soup.

Blogging, even without actually blogging.

Man, that really IS cool! Even if nobody reads it. I blog, therefore I am. Someody's eventually gotta hit this thing accidentally, right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Amazing Maize Maze

Rhonda's post this week about Autumn got me thinking about traditions. One of the fun things about this time of year are pumpkin patches and corn mazes (or maize mazes if you are British).

Our town has a corn maze--but the largest one in the world is in Dixon, CA. In 2007, the maze was an amazing 40 acres. This year--42.9! And how do they plan it? Two brothers and an excel sheet. It hurts my head to even think about it.
Here is an aerial view:

If you happen to live near Dixon, here is the website. I believe the maze opens today. For the rest of us--there is always the great pumpkin, right?

Does your town have any special patches or traditions?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Everything Old is New Again

I loved the Sweet Valley High books when I was a preteen and young teen. Just devoured them.

I started out reading the Sweet Valley Twins books (a spin-off prequel series that featured the twins in middle school) and moved on to the hundreds of books telling Jessica and Elizabeth's tale in high school.

I really have no recollection of the TV series that began in 1994 and ran for 4 seasons, although a good friend of mine was an actress in that series. (I didn't know her at the time, of course.) But I was a senior in high school when that started, so I'd moved on. I was too cool for that. It wasn't even on my radar screen.

But you better believe that the movie is on my radar screen. According to Variety, "Juno" screenwriter Diablo Cody is penning a screenplay for a big screen adaptation of Francine Fascal's beloved '80s YA series.

I can't wait to see what she does with it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy 1st day of fall!

It's fall, my favorite season of the year. I love seeing the leaves turn brilliant colors. In Ohio, we have a lot of trees, so you can watch forests transform daily to golds, oranges, and reds on your drive to and from work.

Another thing I love about fall is the crispness in the air, that cooling off that means no more air conditioner is needed. You can turn on the heat if you want, or leave it off. You can start a fire and watch the wood crackle, enjoy the smoky scent as you sit around and talk with friends. You can wear long-sleeved shirts and not freeze or sweat to death.

I also luuuuurve Halloween! I love picking out a costume and helping my kids do theirs. And on Halloween night, it's a blast sitting on my front porch and handing out candy to adults, teens, kids, and little babies, all dressed in a wide variety of outfits. It's also fun going through the haunted forest located nearby--I admit, though, that I get freaked out. LOL

I love all things pumpkin--carving them, eating pumpkin pie or cookies, or trying a seasonal coffee drink with pumpkin flavoring. Yum!! I also love the food that comes out in fall, esp. Thanksgiving meals. I love going to the Johnny Appleseed festival and getting candied apples, running through the corn maze (and inevitably getting lost), and drinking cider.

Perhaps the biggest reason I love fall is that it seems like a fresh new start to me. I've been out of high school for *coughcough* years now, but whenever fall comes around, it feels like a new beginning to me. Even moreso than Jan 1 does. I use fall as my time to evaluate where my life is, what I want to change, and how I can get there.

And this fall will have special significance for me, because my novel Stupid Cupid will be coming out on Dec 22! Which I think is actually the LAST day of fall, but whatever. haha. Now that I'm here, I know the time will fly all too quickly, and my debut will be here before I know it.

What are your favorite things about fall?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What are you reading?

I got home from the Central Ohio Fiction Writer's conference on Sunday and one of the things I brought with me was a wicked head cold. Because of that, I'm wimping out on today's post and simply asking what you're reading.

I know. Lame. But it was that or a 15 page long Nyquil induced rant on how smoke detector batteries should never, ever need to be replaced due to excessive beeping while there is a sick person in the house and the only well person is 1000 miles away on a business trip.

See? You got off easy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dr. Horrible loves me.

Okay, maybe he only loves me in pretendland, but whatever. Knowing that he loves me--even in a world that doesn't exist--is enough to keep me happy.

I didn't watch the Emmy's last night, and after seeing Dr. Horrible's hi-jacking of the show, I'm really sad.

Have you seen his Sing-a-Long Blog? It's phenomenal. Totally worth watching. The main cast is Neil Patrick Harris (who loves me as much as his character Dr. Horrible does) and Nathan Fillion (who also loves me. They fight a bit too much over me, seriously.) Felicia Day (who wants to love me but just hasn't allowed herself to yet).

But before you go see the full production, watch as Dr. Horrible hijacks last night's show. He did it because he loves me, you know...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fair Warning

I'm not a morning person. Funny thing is, I had an argument about this yesterday with an old friend who has known me nearly thirty years. "But you get up fine, so you really are technically a morning person, or at least sort of one," she insisted. And that's partly true. If I have to get up, I get up.

That's not being a morning person, though. That's being willing to play along and adapt.

Trust me, I'm NEVER happy about it.

I have two of the most pathologically-morning-person people in the universe in my life, btw. Both share a birthday, and yes I am working that out in therapy thankyouverrymuch. Both Ahmed and my father are up-at-the-crack-of-dawn people. What I've noticed, as I have observed the behavior and migratory patterns of the adult morning person from my secluded observation unit (bed), is that they get up when they wake up and hit the floor without any shuffling, belly scratching, or one-eyed-bleary-staggering. They just get up. Dad grew up on a farm... Ahmed grew up in a war zone (at least until he was 10).

The strange thing is that I, on the opposite end of the getting-up spectrum, am the same. No, really. When I get up it's a straight route to the bathroom, back to the bed to flip on the news, and immediate initiation of whatever I got up to do.

Here's where it veers into difference:

1. I'm absolutely never, ever, under any circumstances happy about it.
2. I will absolutely, never, ever, under any circumstances do it if I can avoid it.
3. I have absolutely, never, ever, under any circumstances ANY interest in engaging in conversation or anything else with you until I have had about half an hour to quietly adjust to "fine." I'm not fine. I can do what I need to do, be where I need to be, and refrain from killing, maiming, or otherwise laying down the funk... usually. But I need a half hour, minimum, to lock that in.

This is, I am sure, the root of the confusion. Roxanne, my friend from paragraph one, never sees me til after the buffer zone has been cleared. She sees me with my makeup on, hair either contained beneath a ball cap or flat-ironed and sprayed. She sees me with the latte half consumed, the shoe-laces tied, the cell-phone on. She sees me this way, and assumes I came out of the box this way.

I think the only way I can have successful relationships with the morning people of the world is by combining the perfect balance of adaptation and fair warning.

The adaptation part is my job. Sometimes I need to be up. You see... I know, morning people, your dirty little secret. Just as I can appear normal while still in the transition phase, you appear to be content to let others sleep. This is a lie.

Ah. Yes. And now we arrive at the fair warning segment of today's blogucation installment. Because you don't like it when others sleep in. You don't really have no problem cheerfully brushing your teeth while we doze in happy slumber. You don't really feel content puttering around in a quiet house while the night owls of the world remain buried beneath yummy, soft quilts in cool, dry rooms with the shades sighing in soft repose, draped gently over the windows.

The morning people of the world secretly believe that everyone should be one of them. They believe that if they make a tiny bit of "accidental" noise, linger by the bed giving off awakeness cooties, or simply mentally-project their birth defect long enough, we will all convert. So if they see a twitch, a roll, or hear a suspiciously lucid sigh, they go into a kind of heat-seeking-conversion mode. They wander over... hover... perhaps cough or sit on the edge of the bed in a suspiciously bouncy plop. Feign concern.

"You okay?" Not even close to a whisper.


"Oh, I thought you were up. Sorry." Liar. How do you live with the lie? It clings to you like skunk spray.

This is where the morning person must learn to respect the balance. This is the delicate border between peace and war. This is for freaking serious, people.

I can get up. If I need to get up, I will get up. If not, get BACK OVER THE LINE OF DEATH. This isn't "you left the toilet seat up." It's not "can't you put the cap back on the toothpaste?" It's not a tiff. It's the kind of throw down that will require a trip to Home Depot in its wake.

A spirit of true compromise and respect is essential in any good relationship, and this is the place to define and embrace it: the morning routine. Morning people dance along the edges in hopes of converting night owls. Night owls allow them to do this, restraining The Beast. It is a dance of graceful slides and furious swirls. It is both waltz and tarantella. Light as air... hard as stone.

This is the essence of our difference. The morning person is convinced he or she knows the way. They are up, ready, and feeling groovy. The night owl knows the way; he or she found, paved, and lit the path while the morning person was asleep. It was a pain in the backside, and now it's time to rest. Go forth, morning person, and do shiny and special things upon that path. We'll be along later.

No... seriously... stop standing there in the shadows, fighting the urge to cough. Get out.

They can't help it. Our peaceful slumber seems indulgent to them, just as our frenzied activity at 3 AM does. We find the notion of wasting the most quiet hours of the day sinful... and bang away on computers or scribble on sketch pads, or do whatever we do in blissful peace and quiet while they snore. How, they wonder, do we get anything done lazing away in bed all day? How, we wonder, can they get anything done with all that STUFF going on around them? And so, to allow life to continue as we know it, we dance. Spin, slide, twirl.

They linger and cough... we let them live.

Just. Don't. Push it.

Fair warning.

Friday, September 18, 2009

You're the one thing, I can't get enough of

This post will not really be enriching in any way. I've had a really strange week--most of it good. But it's been very roller-coastery on my emotions--so here is a recap.

First of all--I celebrated my 7th wedding anniversary to the wonderful Mr. Hayes. I can't begin to describe what a wonderful man my husband is. He's my best friend. Many of our readers are Way Too Young to be thinking about marriage--but when you do, please make sure you marry your best friend. Life is so much fun when you do. Even the trials.

I also made a decision regarding weight loss. You may remember the discussion we had regarding the lap band surgery. We've tabled that for now and I'm going to try NutriSystem for awhile. The surgery is not ruled out, but this is preferable.

The fabulous Jessica Sinsheimer from Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency extended an offer of representation. So, yay! I have an agent. And I am going to make her work really hard. She has no idea what she is in for. :)

And sadly, another important piece of my childhood said goodbye this week. I will admit to being unhealthily obsessed with Dirty Dancing my senior year. I'll even admit I was kind of pathetic. My big crushes were Johnny Castle and Patch from Days of Our Lives. Apparently, I had a thing for older men that year. But it was more about the bad boy with a heart of gold finding love with the good girl with longing for something forbidden. It's still a huge theme today (Edward Cullen, I'm looking at you).

And so I say goodbye to Patrick Swayze. And with my goodbye, I'll add a thank you. Thank you for the memories and thank you for not turning into a Hollywood nightmare. My crush on you was well justified as I watched the way you treated your wife even 34 years later.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

WTF? Domestic violence is a pre-existing condition?

I'm not going to delve into the national health care debate. I have some very strong viewpoints on that issue, and I'm sure you do, too, and they may not be the same view. I'll let the townhalls, talking heads, and tea parties tackle that.

No. This blog is not meant to be partisan or political. We don't want to create a firestorm. But from time to time, we do take up a cause.

The other night, Mr. Brice and I went to a reception in the gorgeous, newly-named Kennedy Caucus Room in the Senate. The main speaker was David Gergen, who, as always, was articulate and brilliant. Dana Bash and John King were in the audience, and also shared some extemporaneous thoughts. It was a really thought-provoking evening.

When I got home, I turned on MSNBC. The Rachel Maddow Show was on, and she was talking about an issue I'd never heard of before. I was shocked. It just turned my stomach, and I almost didn't believe it.

So like any good 21st century citizen, I Googled.

In DC and eight other states (Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming), it is legal for an insurance company to deny a battered woman health insurance coverage. Their argument is that domestic violence a pre-existing condition. If you're a battered woman, you're more likely to end up in the emergency room, and thus you are deemed "high risk" because of your medical condition.

Like I said, I'm not going to jump into the health care debate and I'm sure as heck not going to debate the pre-existing condition issue. But WTF?

Maria Tchijov of the Service Employees International Union blog ( put it plainly:
Words cannot describe the sheer inhumanity of this claim.

I don't consider this a political or partisan issue. This is a human issue. Way to make the victim a victim a seond time. First, she's abused at the hands of her partner. Then when she seeks medical treatment for her injuries, she's forced to pay for the treatment on her own.

Anyway, I'll let Joanne Bamberger, founder of the PunditMom political blog, and contributor to the Huffington Post take it from here. You can read her heartfelt and powerful words here:

And to think, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act this week, too.

This whole issue just sickens me. Have we really lost our humanity?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Five Things I've Learned While Revising

I'm neck-deep in revisions for my third book right now. So I figured I'd share a few honest thoughts I've learned while revising this book:

1--I still have room to grow. This one is crucial. I am still learning and developing as a writer, and I need to remember that. There are things I can do better in my books, scenes I can write better, characters I can portray better. A little humility goes a long way--if I think I've achieved the best I can be, then there's nowhere else for me to go, and I might as well hang up my writer's hat.

2--Focus is my friend. I had a hard time digging into these revisions at first because I felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what I need to do. But breaking it into bite-sized chunks made it easier. I sat down and compiled an ordered list of how I wanted to approach the revisions. Instead of looking at the manuscript as a whole, I only took one piece at a time. It seriously has helped so far.

3--Kill your darlings. I may have loved a scene I wrote and felt it was funny and perfect and brilliant. But if it doesn't belong, if it slows the pacing or detracts from the main narrative, I need to be ruthless and cut it. This is SUPER hard at times, but it's for the best of the story.

4--Characterization matters. One of the things I'm doing on this round is deepening character, especially the guy. As a reader, we need to feel like we know him. I didn't have enough of him in the story. And since this is a romance, it cheats the readers if they don't get a better sense of him.

5--Keep an open mind. It's hard getting a letter that spells out the flaws of your story. We all want to feel like our creative attempts are loved as-is. But the best approach is to not close yourself off to suggestions and to detach yourself as best as possible. Try viewing your story from an outsider's unbiased POV. I'm glad I listened to my editor's advice, because he pinpointed exactly what was wrong with this book. Now, I know the novel is going to be much stronger.

So, what about you? Are you going through anything challenging that's teaching you some life lessons? Share!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's peanut butter jelly time!

According to the National Peanut Board the average kid eats 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before they graduate high school. That's a lot of PB&J, my friend.

No one's exactly sure where the PB&J came from. Peanut butter wasn't invented until 1890. It then gained real popularity at the 1904 World's Fair and in the 1920s and 1930s, commercial brands of peanut butter like Peter Pan and Skippy hit the shelves. Around the same time, pre-sliced bread started showing up in American supermarkets. Still, there are no mentions of PB&J sandwiches before the 1940s.

Some historians believe the PB&J was invented by the American GI since both peanut butter and jelly were included in military rations during WWII. Wherever it came from, the classic combination of salty and sweet still finds its way into lunchboxes across the country.

What's not to love about a PB&J!

So I ask you: Smooth or creamy? Strawberry or grape? White or wheat? How did you eat your PB&J? Do you still eat them? Have any interesting combinations you love? Share!

Monday, September 14, 2009

the new season...of Chuck Bass

It's TV time again...and the new season starts tonight with Gossip Girl! Could I be any happier that the sexy-ugly and downright dirty Chuck Bass is returning to my life on Monday nights? No. I don't think I could.

There are other shows I'm looking forward to such as How I Met Your Mother, Castle, Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men...but none of them fill that self-indulgence quite like Gossip Girl. It's like television cake. It is beautiful to look at and even though it tastes a little bit like heaven, it only fills you up temporarily. About a half-hour later you need more. (Okay, for me, it's about 5 minutes later that I need more Chuck Bass)

What TV shows are you most looking forward to watching this season?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ripping Away the Mask

When I was in high school I went through a two year phase of absolutely Tammy-Fay level makeup abuse. At the time-- around 1980-1982-- our high school was divided between "jocks" and "freaks." Even if you were neither, you belonged to a sub-set of kids who aligned themselves more closely with one or the other. Jocks, Drama-Geeks (kids in the drama program), and Honor Dweebs dressed in preppie clothes, kept the look clean and wholesome. Freaks, Alterna-Geeks, and Punks went with lots of black, lots of hairspray and bizarre styles, leather, and metal. At the time I was unaware of how much the look identified me to others. I'm sure, now, that a lot of people assumed I was on drugs. They never would have assumed the same of the guy in the preppie Lacoste shirt... unless they stood close enough to him to get a whiff.

I never did drugs. I did wear WAAAYYYY too much eye-liner. I wore slashy jewelery and leather (or fake leather), and a lot of black and dark purple. Well, for the first couple of years, anyway. I had magenta hair at one point. The morning look required spiking it with a hair dryer directing the front almost completely vertical while I pointed the aerosol Aquanet into the wind stream. Basically my bangs were saluting.

I had three piercings in one ear and one in the other... I wore stainless steel safety pins in the holes. Feather earrings. Dog collars. Black nail polish. My friends called me Dusty or Olie, because that was cool. Later they called me Raven. Cuz I was COOL.

Teen punk witch. Yeah, baby.

One September night I was hanging out on the beach with my other misunderstood-so-whatever friends. The cops used to patrol the beaches on ATVs and in 4 Wheel Drive vehicles at the time. An officer stopped and came over to check on us. Were we drinking, smoking pot, doing things we shouldn't? He was friendly, but kids being kids... some of them got mouthy. I recognized the guy from the summer. Most of my time was morning to night on the beach from June to September... if it rained we went to my boyfriend, Timmy's place. He lived right on the best strip of beach and had an absentee mother.

Anyway, whenever I would see this same police officer during the summer I'd be in cut-offs and a tank-top, tanned and covered in salt from swimming, surfing, or goofing around on the beach. I always had my dog, a huge labrador who was always a beach hit, by my side. And I was polite and friendly to the cop. How he recognized me under all the makeup I'd started slathering on-- in the dark, no less-- is still a mystery.

There was a guy using the absolute filthiest language possible standing near me. He was, as teenaged boys will often be, trying to seem tough and cool by making sexual comments that were as dirty as he could dream up... and that was pretty dirty.

This cop... I realize now he was very young. He seemed old to me then, but he wasn't in his thirties yet. He pulled me away from the group, and I was terrified he thought I'd done something wrong. My only thought was "the cops are going to call my parents, and it won't matter if I wasn't doing anything." But he just wanted to talk to me.

I remember what he said like it was yesterday, and I will never forget it. He told me he remembered me from the summer and I was "a nice girl." Not that I seemed nice. Not that he'd had a good impression of me, but that I'd spoiled it. He said I "was a nice girl." He pointed at my face and said "that's quite a mask." And then he said:

"These guys are young and stupid, but I want you to know that you should never let a guy talk like that in front of you. If you let him talk like that in front of you he's going to think you don't mind. Make these guys show you respect. You deserve it."

Then he told us all to behave ourselves and left.

I didn't take his advice that night. In fact, I didn't take it for years. But I never forgot it, and I never forgot that a nice young cop thought I was a nice girl... and that I deserved respect. In my adult years his words would come back to me many, many times. And today, if you use lousy language in front of me-- or near others-- I will pointedly tell you to cut it out.

The "mask" has been off for ages. I stopped doing the black-slather thing not long after that incident, in fact. It got old.

But I was thinking about it just the other day. I still hang out with some of the same kids who were on the beach that night-- all in our 40's now, most with kids of our own. I was visiting my friend Roxy last week and looked down on that very spot, and thought of that cop. I never did get his name, though I would see him around now and then. He left the force maybe two years later. I can't help but wonder if he has any idea how much what he said meant to me, a drifty-sad kid who rarely got praise.

I wonder if he'd recognize me now, all these years later, with every layer of the mask stripped away.

It took me a while, sir... but I got there. Thank you for nudging me in the right direction. Your voice has come echoing through the years more times than I can count.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I know you were but what am I?

My daughter started her junior year of high school last week, so I thought it would be fun to do a little comparison between her junior year and mine.

Average income
1987: $24,350
2009: $40,523

A gallon of gas:
1987: .89
2009: 2.51

One dozen eggs
1987: .65
2009: 1.34

Biggest Hit Single
1987: La Bamba by Los Lobos
2009: (current) I Got a Feeling by Black Eyed Peas

Top Grossing Film
1987: Three Men and a Baby
2009: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Top TV Show
1987: Bill Cosby Show
2009: True Blood

NYT Bestseller (paperback mass-market)
1987: Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy
2009: 92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Up way too late

I made the mistake last night of saying "just one more page." Of course, that one page led to one more chapter, which led to one more chapter, which, before I knew it, I'd actually read the entire "Part 4" of the book I was reading.

Dude, I really needed to go to bed quasi-early, but Andrew Gross' "The Blue Zone" was just way too compelling. He definitely learned at the feet of his mentor James Patterson, because I couldn't put the book down!

Next thing I knew, it was past 1 am and I was just heading to bed.

Anyone else do that recently? What's the last book you stayed up way too late reading?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Favorite books as a kid

I used to devour books when I was a kid--I loved reading many, many different kinds of stories--horror (esp. Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine), romance, historical, mystery, family drama, etc. I don't know if I can think of one book in particular that stood out as an all-time fav, but here are a few that are still very memorable for me:

Homecoming by Cynthia Voight. I distinctly remember this one because the kids are traveling by themselves to reach a relative after their mom abandons them. And they have to ration their money by living off bread and peanut butter. I was riveted!

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I cried and cried and criiiiiied about those dogs. Seriously, I was a mess. That one scene stuck in my head for a long time.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I distinctly remember when I was reading this that I was drawn to Rochester. I couldn't help it--he was magnetic, and I loved and hated him for how he treated Jane. And I wanted poor Jane to finally get something good in her life. I loved all the crazy twists in the story!

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I remember being horrified that this was a real person's moved me to hear about the trials and struggles she went through, hiding from the Nazis.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. Another tear-jerker. I guess I was into those. But I was so caught up in the story, and the death totally floored me. I was NOT expecting it.

There are many, MANY more books I adored, of course, but right now I wanna hear from you. What were your favorite books when you were growing up?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Where's My Hassenpfeffer?

Here's a little something to kick off your Tuesday with just the right amount of cute and cuddly.

Of course, you may prefer a cuddle of different variety. As for me, I'd have to try both! Would you go to one of these restaurants?

(10 points if you know what the title of this blog references.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

an overreaction of Presidential proportions

President Obama is scheduled to address the nation's schools on live television tomorrow and some school districts are refusing to air it.

And some parents are refusing to allow their kid to go to school.


Obama is not the first president to address the schools. Back in 1991 Bush, Sr. addressed the nation's schools and the nation thought this was a fabulous idea! Honestly, what better way to start off a lesson plan about our own national government than with a speech given by our nation's leader?

Parents are arguing that they don't want Obama using the address to "indoctrinate the children."

Can I just say, WTF?

Kids are exposed to differing political, religious, moral, educational, and social POVs every single day. They use their brain to discern what is right for THEM AS INDIVIDUALS and what isn't right and then they apply it. Sometimes kids make mistakes, they learn from those mistakes and they mature into (hopefully) wise adults.

So parents, trust that you have raised a child who has developed the ability to think for himself and decide right from wrong for himself. I can't imagine you're really raising a sheep that would be so easily 'indoctrinated' by one speech. No matter if you agree with Obama's politics or not, he's still our president and he deserves our respect. Trust me, I matter how much I disagreed with Bush, Jr. (and it was often and a lot) I never once uttered the words, "He's not my president." Because guess what? he totally was.

Oh and FWIW, when Reagan addressed the schools my senior year, you know what I remember most about that speech? YAY! NO CLASSWORK! and I'm pretty sure I took a nap.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Saturday Re-Design

I'm running late and early at the same time today. Routine is something I avoided at all costs in my youth, but it's been a huge help to me in my middle years. I also think rejecting the traditional track of 9 to 5 made me a better writer and freer spirit. So it's a trade-off. These days I like having no job other than a few websites and graphics accounts and my writing. I can do a few things on the side if I want, or not. It allows me to embrace the creative spark when it hits.

Most Saturdays I've tried to post early. I know everybody in the blogosphere is DYING to get here first thing to read my ever-so-important opinions and observations.

Ok... you don't have to laugh THAT HARD.

Actually, it goes back to the routine thing. I love that my life is loose and easy to navigate most of the time simply because... it never really is. I have two little boys in my home three days a week (sometimes more). I have Max, Jeeves, the kittehs, Mo, and some guy with a funny accent. They are sort-of self-cleaning. But today Max had to get a last minute appointment at the groom. While sleeping late on Saturday would have been awesome, leaving Max to walk around with a smiley face drawn in sharpie marker on his side would not. (Did I mention the kids already?)

So my normal Saturday wasn't. Only it sort of was. I got up earlier, posted later, and dropped a grumpy pug at Doggie Stylin' down town. (I'm not making that up... that's his grooming salon's name.)

So life happens and plans change. One thing you can always count on? I'll never forget you! Bore you? Probably. Forget you? NEVER!

Friday, September 04, 2009

We didn't Beat It

Last weekend, the fabulous author Bria Quinlan and I went to Seattle. Somehow, while walking around downtown and Pike Place Market ALL DAY, we managed to miss a flash mob. How, I don't know.

But this is what we missed:

Do you have any famous "almosts"?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Take a Look, It's in a Book...

Butterfly in the sky...
I can fly twice as high...
Take a look...
It's in a book...
Reading Rainbow!

Anyone else remember that show? For over 26 years, LeVar Burton hosted PBS' children's literacy show, Reading Rainbow.

I used to watch it religiously when I was little. I credit it -- and Sesame Street, of course -- as being instrumental in my love of reading.

In fact, I loved Reading Rainbow so much that I even auditioned to be in one of the on-air book report segments at the end of the show. I still remember my mom picking me up early from school to take the bus into The City (yes, it's capitalized, because I'm referring to NYC) for the audition.

Alas, I didn't get it. :( The first of many rejections for me in the publishing world, unfortunately. But it didn't make me love the show, or books, any less.

Reading Rainbow came to the end of its 26-year run last Friday, after winning mroe than two dozen Emmys. It was the third longest running children's show in PBS history. Only Sesame Street and Mister Rogers beat it out.

In explaining why the show ended, John Grant, who is in charge of content at Reading Rainbow's home station WNED, explained that there's been a shift in educational TV programming philosophy, starting with the Department of Education under the recent Bush administration (had to put that "recent" in there, because Reading Rainbow outlived both Bush Sr. and Jr.'s administrations).

The Department of Education wanted to see a heavier emphasis on the basic tools of reading, such as phonics or spelling. PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Department of Education put significant funding towards programming that teaches kids how to read.

Reading Rainbow, on the other hand, taught kids why to read.

So I think it's sad to see a show focused on the sheer joy of reading end. My hope is that kids today will continue to learn the joy of books, and not just read because they have to.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Where do you live?

I'd love to hear a little bit about the demographic of the Fictionista readers. Where do you live, and what are some cool features about your city/region?

I live in Cleveland--we have some great recreational activities available here. I love the Cleveland Museum of Art, not to mention Severance Hall (where the Cleveland Orchestra performs). We also have a natural history museum, a science museum, a botanical garden, and much more.

Also, our metroparks are very pretty and abundantly available. They have great walking areas, playgrounds, and nice expanses of brilliant green grass to have picnics or play frisbee.

Cleveland has a ton of great restaurants, too--which I love, because I'm a total foodie. And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention The Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame!!

Here are some photos I took of downtown Cleveland a few years ago--I love wandering around and taking pics:

Your turn--tell me what city/region you're in, and a few key features in your area that you enjoy! Well, hopefully you enjoy it, anyway. LOL

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Model, Incorporated and Carol Alt interview!

Please help me welcome back to the blog, super model Carol Alt! Carol was with us once before when her first novel, This Year's Model, came out last year and after I read Model, Incorporated, I wanted to speak to her again. This book is really different than any others I’ve read dealing with the topic of modeling. It’s a very intimate, realistic view that shows the good and bad, not just the glamorous.

KP: How was writing this second book, Model, Incorporated different from the first one?

CA: These two writing experiences were different in many ways. With the first book, we (Lynda Curnyn and I) were trying to find the voice and the style of book. I think we really found a good balance the first time. You have to understand, it’s very difficult to narrow down years of experiences into a streamlined narrative. With that first book, I felt like I’d written a lot – fifteen pages to answer one question. It was a very interesting process.

With the second book, Lynda wasn't available, so I worked with the ghost writer from the Gossip Girls series,Rumaan Alam . He has a vast experience in fashion industry and I didn’t have to explain as much. He understood the excitement and the nerves, and knew what it was like to be on a photo shoot so it was really a matter of telling stories and having them translated.

KP: How was the story different from the last book since you're giving us more of the modeling life experience?

CA: Model Incorporated sets up the story of where Mac came from, how she became who she is. She had huge decisions to make that weighed heavily on her, a scholarship to consider, the issue of where to live, of how seriously she should pursue modeling. It’s important to know where she came from and what kept her grounded.

KP: Why not write your memoirs? This book seems like such an intimate peek into your life.

I’ve been asked that question before and I always say I’m not through living yet! The idea of writing a memoir makes me feel like it’s over and done. And although I have a lot of advice to share and experience that young models can learn from, I worried that eighteen-year-olds wouldn’t listen to a forty-eight-year-old! This was a way to put all that advice into a character that’s relatable, so girls could get the idea of what’s important in the business. I felt like girls coming in had no one to look up to, to help them out. They come from faraway places, will do anything to help them get a job – a way wrong approach. I wanted to tell them be careful! Heed what your agent says; don’t do things outside the agency. I listened to my agent and I know doing that saved my life.

KP: Will there be a third book in this series?

CA: That’s really up to the publisher and up to how the book sells. I’d love to do another one. I certainly have plenty more stories to share!

KP: What last bit of advice can you leave us with for any girls out there who might be interested in modeling?

CA: Well, for any business, it’s really very important to conduct yourself in a manner appropriate to that business. Dress appropriately, be presentable. The first impression is the lasting impression. People decide right then if they like you and want to work with you. You never know when you’re going to meet the one person who’s going to change things.

KP: Thanks for being with us today. I hope everyone gets a copy of Model, Incorporated – it was a fast, fun, interesting read that I highly recommend. The peek into the world of modeling was riveting!