Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Consider this your warning. Bwah ha ha!

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's Alive

So Frankenstein is a big part of Halloween (and Frankenteen is a big part of Glee) but many people don't know that the creature made up of dead people's parts and brought to life by a mad scientist is not really Frankenstein.

The book Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus was written by Mary Shelley in the 1800s. In her book, Frankenstein refers to Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the creature not the creature itself. The monster he created has no name, no identity. The scientist guy--well, he was kind of the protagonist and kind of the villain too.

There have been many renditions of the creature and the story over the last 78 years.The most popular version of the creature is likely Boris Karloff's portrayal of him in 1931. The theme from Shelley's book is recurrent in our culture--what make a human? Where does a soul come from? Where do we draw the line with technology and medicine? Can you really make a woman from a Barbie doll and a really good computer? (John Hughes, Weird Science)

My favorite Frankenstein story is surely Young Frankenstein, the Mel Brooks paraody from the 70s. If you are tired of all the scary gory Halloween movies out this time of year, cut yourself a break and rent Young Frankenstein. You have to like campy movies and parody to enjoy it, but it's a classic.

Sometimes when I'm editing my manuscripts I feel like Frankenwriter. Cut and Paste and a little maniacal laughter are not abnormal writing practices, are they?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

When Fido Wants to Go Trick or Treating...

OK, first of all, do you actually know anyone whose dog is named Fido? I don't. So where did that cliched name come from? Anyway, I digress...

I'm fairly certain Bailey would never go for this. But we're dying to dress him up like a hot dog next year, and take him for a walk during the Trick or Treat hours, along with our baby. Next year will be Baby's First Halloween, and he/she will probably be the ubiquitous pumpkin, just because it's cute.

And we think it would be cute for Bailey and Baby to go trick or treating together. We just need to convince Bailey to go along with it.

So what say you...Halloween costumes for pets, yay or nay?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween equals CANDY

One of the best parts of Halloween for me is the candy. Okay, the chocolate. Anyway, the manpanion and I usually come up with a game plan of where we're going to hit with the kids. In fact, they're typically ready to go home before we are. haha

When we're done trick-or-treating, we compile all the candy into one big pile and sort it out so everyone can share. Chocolate, of course, goes in its own special bin, where I partake of it as much as I can. I consider it to be my parental subsidy. :D

My fav Halloween treats are Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, followed closely by Three Musketeers and Milky Way. Oh man, I'm drooling just thinking about it. But the one thing I hate now is the whole "fun" size. What's so fun about 1/10 of a candy bar?

What about you--do you have a Halloween trick-or-treating plan? What candy do you most look forward to?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Movies with bite

In keeping with the Halloween week, I've decided to do a little post on my favorite vampire movies. I despise almost every scary movie known to mankind, but somehow vampire movies get a pass. I love them!

Here are a few of my favs:

Let The Right One In

I don't think this movie is nearly as popular as it should be. It's a real sleeper, full of unexpected goodness and a touch of in your face violence. Of course, it's also got a sweet romance. What's not to love? Seriously, check it out. (If you're a Netflix customer you can watch it instantly online.)

Next up is another semi-sleeper:

Near Dark

Near Dark is gritty tale of a family of vampires and the human they lure into their midst. You'll see some familiar faces in this one, too. The whole feel of this film works for me.

Now for the more popular choices:

Underworld I & II

While not a straight up vampire movie because it also features werewolves, it's the atmosphere that pulls me into these films. That sort of blue-black gleam that everything has makes these movies feel slick and edgy even while focused on characters and story lines centuries old. Just great flicks!

Some more favorites:
The Blade series - Especially the one with Ryan Reynolds. You know what I'm talking about.
The Lost Boys - a fond remembrance from my teenage years. Also? Billy Wirth shirtless. Um, yes please.

What's your favorite vampire movie?

Monday, October 26, 2009


Before I get to today's blog, I would like to first say THANK YOU to my awesome Fictionistas. They surprised me over the weekend and sent me a beautiful vase of flowers for my book signing on Saturday. These guys rock my world and there aren't enough words in the universe to describe the depth of my affection for them.Now on to today's topic:

Okay, Halloween may be my favorite holiday, but it's not because I like being scared. Nope. Not me, said the flea. I don't do haunted houses, mazes, scary movies...none of that stuff. I'm intrigued by real life ghost hunting, but you put me in a fake haunted house with someone coming after me with a chainsaw and you'll see me shaking in my shoes like a wet kitten.

I like the fun stuff of Halloween. The dressing up, the goofing off, the pranks and of course, the candy.

What do you like? Are you a Halloweenie like me or do you embrace all that's scary and bloody with a thousand loves?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Head Start on Holiday Shopping

Have you started your Christmas/Hannukah/Yule shopping yet? I'm starting to poke around the weekend flyers. I love holiday shopping, even in lean years. When my youngest brother and I were the last two at home we used to have a contest to see who could find the cheapest gift for one relative we didn't like that much. It had to LOOK as if it cost as normal amount, but whomever managed to find the cheapest bit of nonsense that would not be blatantly insulting won the round for that year. I believe the all-time winner was a fake ivory elephant figurine with gold tusks for a dollar.

Good times... good times...

I haven't made my own wish list yet. Normally there's a predictible request for books and book store gift cards, but this year (since September, anyhow), I have finally amassed an actual TBR pile. This is a new phenomenon for me-- books were never "to be read" until now. I plowed through four or five novels a week until this little sluggish patch. So I may not be doing many books this year. I know one I have read and loved, sure to top my giving list... and another I will be curled up with on December 22nd with a cup of hot chocolate.

Just in case you are looking for ideas...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Skeletons in the closet of America

According to, the top ten celebrity costumes this year are:
Bernie Maddoff
David Letterman
Kate Gosselin
"Sexy" Octomom
Kanye West (tshirt says "I'mma let you finish, but...")
Sarah Palin
Michelle Obama
Kim Jong II
Farrah Fawcett
Michael Jackson

To this I say, "What the eff is wrong with people?"

What are you doing for Halloween this year? I'm answering the door. My dog loves Halloween. She thinks all those kids are coming to visit her. She sits at the door and watches all the children, sitting up higher and prouder the closer they get to the door. It's the cutest thing ever.

What I won't be doing is wearing a Kate Gosselin wig.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview with Paula Chase Hyman

Today we're chatting with the lovely Paula Chase Hyman, who I had the fortune to hang out with at KidLit Con '09 on Saturday. I've "met" her online on the Teenlit loop, and I'm happy to say that she's just as sweet and fun in person as she is on the 'net.

Paula writes the Del Rio Bay series for Kensington's Dafina imprint. Her most recent -- the 5th in the series -- is called FLIPPING THE SCRIPT. Her main character's boyfriend has gone off to Duke to play ball, and well, as a ginormous Duke fan, that's right up my alley! I've read some of the earlier books in the series, and can't wait to read this one!

Please give her a big Fictionistas welcome!

AB: Tell us something about yourself.

PCH: I’m thoroughly neurotic and a foodie. And if those two things seem to have nothing to do with one another, that’s sort of me in a nutshell – a little odd and always up for a good meal. The single most consistent thing about me is, I’m propelled by my moods and emotions, a lot. A few years ago, I realized it wasn’t that I was a moody person, but that I enjoy being inside my head. It’s how I create and where the stories come from and when I’m not allowed time to do that, I get really irritable. Yet, I’m still a really social person. It’s almost like there are two me’s. The friends who have stuck around the longest are the ones who deal with my two sides as if it’s perfectly normal.

AB: How did you get the inspiration for the Del Rio Bay series?

PCH: Six months prior to the story hitting me I’d been laid off from a nice, one might even say cushy PR job. I was on the early end of the tech bust layoffs. I’d taken the time off to freelance and it’s amazing when you’re given that first real chance to create freely. It was as if another whole side of my brain had been awakened. I think the story had been in my head all along, but, until then, it had been crammed under too many other things. One Saturday morning I woke up with Mina Mooney and her friends in my head. I knew all their names and their background and I started writing immediately. The concept of a co-ed clique wasn’t a stretch because my own high school clique had been like that.

Once the story came to me, I did a little research on the YA market. My daughter was only about eight, at the time, so she wasn’t quite at the YA stage yet. But I was saddened by the lack of diversity in YA books. It surprised me that the books were just as vanilla as they had been when I was a kid. I loved Sweet Valley High as a young reader and I kept scouring the shelves wondering where that type of book was with a more diverse cast. I didn’t find it. So I knew the book I was writing would fill a void.

AB: You're so right! OK, so when writing a series, did you plan the entire thing out ahead of time, or do you get ideas for each book as you go along?

PCH: Let me tell you, just reading the words “plan the entire thing out” gave me chills. And not the good kind. Outlining scares me to death. If you think I’m kidding, ask my agent about my attempt to do so, with a new series idea I had, last year.

No outlining for me. I’d written the first two books in the series back-to-back in 2003. Once my original two-book deal was expanded to five, I didn’t think too much about what the next book would be about until it was time to write it. I took one book at a time and focused totally on the characters – where they were, where I thought they’d organically go from that point in their lives. It was a great experience.

AB: What authors do you read?

PCH: I tend to read the authors I’ve met and befriended along the way, which feels legion when I walk into the bookstore. My most recent reads were Coe Booth’s Kendra and Neesha Meminger’s Shine, Coconut Moon. Sitting by my bed now are Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire and Maggie Stiefveter’s Shiver. Waiting to snatch it up as soon as it’s out, is Varian Johnson’s Saving Maddie.

When it comes to adult fiction, I like horror, true crime and suspense. I’ll read pretty much anything by Stephen King and I used to feel the same about James Patterson, but I don’t enjoy his co-authored books as much and he seems to be doing those more, lately. The truth is I’m in the process of teaching myself how to read for pleasure, again. Slowly but surely I’m getting better at it but I get into these auto pilot modes where writing is my single focus. Reading a book both takes my attention away from it and makes me yearn to write. It’s weird. The yearning is good, but I don’t like having so many voices in my head at once and for me to truly enjoy a good book I’ve got to let those characters inside my head.

AB: Totally agree with you on that Varian Johnson book. I checked out the back cover of his ARC at KidLit and it looks great! I also agree with you about James Patterson. I was such a Patterson junkie with the early Alex Cross books, but it seems all he does these days are the co-authored books. OK, moving on. Who is your favorite character (from your own books or any other books out there)?

PCH: This may be a weird answer, but I really like Elphaba, the “witch,” from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. Is that weird? That book…I’ve read it like half a dozen times since it came out years ago. In Elphaba, it’s the first time I’ve ever had a literary relationship with a character both as a child and an adult. I mean as a kid this character terrified me – at least the movie version of her in the Wizard of Oz. What kid did not have nightmares from her cackle? But then I read Wicked and was just like, wow. Her journey as this outcast kid to a college student to finally being labeled a “witch” gripped me. For me, she symbolizes how misunderstood people can be, even to those closest to them. We don’t always vocalize why we do the things we do to the people around us. We don’t always want to. And sometimes we’re frustrated that we should even have to and that character is an extreme example of what happens when you shield too much of yourself from people.

AB: OK, now it's time for some standard Fictionistas' interview questions that really don't have anything to do with anything, but we always ask them. What five things are always in your purse?

PCH: My purse is ridiculous. There’s a whole bunch of nothing in it. But five things that must always swim among the “nothing” is a tube of lip gloss, my wallet (I just got one of those flat kind and I love it!), a pen (I’m pen monogamous and never share!), my Starbucks card so I get 10% off every purchase (don’t ask why that’s not in the wallet) and an iPod charger. And here’s the thing, I don’t even carry my iPod. But for reasons unknown to man, the charger is always in my purse.

AB: Tell us about your pets, if any.

PCH: No pets in the Hyman household. I refuse. I know it’ll just be one more thing I’ve got to find time for. My girls want a dog and my husband was actually considering it. This from a man who is not really a pet lover. Yeah, that would turn out real well. However as a kid I always had a dog and I love dogs. I just don’t feel like having one more creature reliant upon me for food and attention and stuff.

AB: One item of makeup you can't live without.

PCH: Lip gloss!!!! I think I need to put some on now even though it’s bed time.

AB: LOL! Worst high school memory?

PCH: Ok, some people are going to hate me for this but I don’t have one. High School was the first Golden Age in my life, college the second. I’m sure there were bad times but the good must outweigh them because I can’t think of anything so profound it’s stuck with me.

AB: That's great! Tell us your best prom story, and you get bonus points if you let us post your prom picture. (Oh, come on, we had to ask!)

PCH: Geez, I’d have to find a prom picture for you to post it and good luck with that because I’m horrible at keeping up with pictures! I went to prom with my boyfriend (now husband), my best friend and her boyfriend. We built a good rapport with the limo driver. We called him Charlie Mack because at the time Will Smith (then The Fresh Prince) had a song about Charlie Mack “’cause he’s the first out the limo.” He was really cool and we’d started playing stupid practical jokes on him. Later that night, we asked him to take us to the Inner Harbor (in Baltimore) because the prom was at a hotel not too far away from it.

So as we’re sitting on Federal Hill overlooking the Harbor, each of us on our separate benches, talking and having a really cute, romantic moment and suddenly Charlie Mack comes running toward us. I’m talking, like the car’s on fire sprint-walk. Now keep in mind, this is Baltimore City. They’ve always had a slight er…crime issue. So my first thought is – damn, we better run too. But we stayed there and he runs up to us all out of breath and says to my boyfriend “Ay man…you have a quarter? I need to use the phone.” We just stared at him stunned for a few seconds then we all burst out laughing when we realized he was just messing with us, getting us back from teasing him all night. The morale of the story is, don’t mess with limo drivers because they have way too much time on their hands to think of ways to get you back. I recall that we did give him the quarter, too.

AB: Nice! If you could go back in time and talk to the teenage you, what would you tell her?

PCH: To savor every moment. It’s not that those were the only good times or even the best, in my life. But when you’re young you’re on a constant race to get to the next level, next step, next something. I wish I’d learned to savor and really live in the moment more, then.

AB: Good advice. So what are you working on next?

PCH: A standalone novel about a bi-racial sixteen year old who has a complicated love/hate relationship with her mom, complicated further by a secret she shares with her mom’s boyfriend. Initially, I wanted to focus on the mother-daughter relationship but as I write, it’s growing more into the story about how their relationship impacts the decisions the MC makes. I’m in crush mode with the story now, thinking about it all the time and disappointed I can’t spend more time in it. It’s my favorite phase of writing.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Paula!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Don't Judge a Book By Its...Author?

Do you care about how an author behaves, and does that weigh into whether or not you'll read and/or buy her books?

Would it turn you off an author to hear her making comments about disliking her cover or being upset with her publisher? What about defending misstatements made in a less-than-flattering book review? What about an author publicly blasting someone regarding a super-negative book review?

What about authors with big egos...does it bug you to hear about divas?

Basically, I wanna know--are you the kind of person who takes a book as-is and don't worry about what the author may be doing? Or if you hear of an author behaving badly, will you refuse to read and/or buy that person's books?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Family roadtrip

When my brother and I were kids, my parents were big on travel. They would routinely rent a driving camper, pack us into it and head across the country. Sometimes it was just us, sometimes we took a set of grandparents or another family, but it was always an adventure. We saw the Grand Canyon this way (twice, actually), camped in Disney's Fort Wilderness, drove through Death Valley - we saw all sorts of things and went all sorts of places. My dad was always willing to make a detour if the location seemed interesting enough.

In fact, I can remember him packing us up on random afternoons and taking us for a drive with the specific idea that we were out to "get lost". Maybe that's where my love for travel comes from?

What's your favorite childhood travel memory?

Monday, October 19, 2009

SSP time: Books, Blood and Bones!

I'm doing my very first multi-author book signing this Saturday! I promise lots of pics and I'm planning a super duper surprise for you guys, so stay tuned for a new contest coming soon.

Come to the Books-A-Million in North Little Rock, Arkansas on Saturday, October 24 @ 5:00 pm for a blood-curdling event!

Six YA Paranormal Authors
One book signing

Come dressed as your favorite creature of the night! There will be prizes, fun, and costumes galore!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

In Praise of Cupcakes

Tomorrow is National Chocolate Cupcake Day, not to be confused with National Cupcake Appreciation Day. I'm not making it up. And to be honest, though I find a lot of the "national whatever day" stuff to be silly, I am a huge fan of chocolate cupcakes.

I love cake... but cupcakes are so personal. You don't have to share; they're single-serving. You don't need a plate or fork. It's okay to be sloppy and get frosting on the end of your nose.

Here are my cupcake standards:

1. Frosting... lots. If there's no frosting involved we're really talking muffin, not cupcake, and that's practically health food.

2. No jimmies/sprinkles. I know they're festive, but they really inhibit full frosting appreciation. I find them gratuitous.

3. No "mini" cupcakes. This is facism and censorship at its worst. DO NOT regulate and corrupt the cupcake.

Those are my only rules, really. I actually like chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting as much as chocolate or fudge or coconut... as long as there's frosting.


Friday, October 16, 2009

It's 2009--do you know where your bigots are?

Despite the fact that interracial marriage has been legal in all states since 1967, Keith Bardwell, a Louisiana justice of the peace refuses to issue marriage licenses to biracial couples.

Out of concern for their children.

What the eff? I say. Did I read that wrong?

According the Huffington Post article by Mary Foster, Mr. Bardwell doesn't believe he is a racist. After all, he lets black people use his bathroom.

Please tell me I read that wrong.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

I think that maybe someone needs to sit down with Mr. Bardwell and explain to him that THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD, you know--that guy we call Mr. President and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize--has a white mother and a black father. Whether or not you agree with his politics--you can't say that he hasn't done well for himself. Apparently, there are at least a few people who have been able to "accept a child from such a marriage".

Mr. Bardwell, the best way to show your concern for the children is to stop encouraging bigotry. If we want to transcend racial inequality, we have to stop making race an issue.

Love is love. People are people. Skin is skin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Whatcha reading?

I'm going to the KidLit Con 09 on Saturday, here in DC. It's a conference focused on the "kidlitosphere" (blogging about books for kids and teens), and should be pretty cool.

There will mostly be book review bloggers, but also some publishers and authors. I'm hoping to learn about a lot of new books I don't already know about.

But until then, I need some reading suggestions. So whatcha reading right now, or what have you read lately that you really liked?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Would you rather...?

I love questions that make you choose one thing or another. LOL. I used to do this all the time in school with my friends. So I'm going to ask some Qs and make you guys tell me which one you'd rather do. Mwahahahahaaaaa...

1--would you rather be smart and ugly, or attractive and stupid?

2--would you rather be blind, or deaf?

3--would you rather be able to read minds, or take back anything you say?

4--would you rather get 1 wish granted today, or 2 wishes granted in 5 years?

5--would you rather be stranded on the north pole, or in the sahara desert?

6--would you rather be a dictator, or be a total doormat?

7--would you rather get one incredibly fabulous meal free today, or seven mediocre meals free for a week?

8--would you rather get amnesia about yourself, or about others?

9--would you rather always have to say what's on your mind, or never be able to speak again?

10--would you rather find your one true love, or one million bucks?

My answers will be in a comment. Feel free to explain as much or as little as you want. Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Are brains really that tasty?

Lately when it comes to young adult fiction, zombies seem to be the new black.

I must admit, the appeal is lost on me. Yes, vampires are undead too, but they're the hot undead, unlike zombies who are well past their use by date. Plus, zombies eat brains. Brains vs blood. Hmm. Brains are still grosser.

So why are zombies taking over bookstores these days? What's the appeal? Do you like them? Have you read any zombie books?

Splain it to me!

Monday, October 12, 2009

the random that is mel

  • I don't like the sound of clipping toenails. It actually makes my stomach hurt.
  • I believe that going commando is not a choice, but a genetic trait.
  • I will cry if the right song comes on when I'm in the right mood.
  • I believe a good cry is good for the soul. If I haven't cried in a while, I'll watch P.S. I Love You. Works every time.
  • Laughter is a mandatory part of my daily life.
  • I read my horoscope every day and at the beginning of every month, I read my detailed horoscope at
  • I never buy electronics when mercury is in retrograde.
  • I used to drink a minimum of 8 diet sodas a day. I can't remember the last time I ordered one. I still drink coffee in the morning though...
  • My favorite flower is a daisy.
  • One of the best gifts I ever received was a stocking full of brand new $1 bills because I love the way new money smells.
  • Halloween is my favorite holiday. I dress up every year. This year, I'm going as She-Hulk. (yes, I will post pictures)

Hit me with some of your randomness...c'mon! I won't tell...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

October is my absolute favorite month... and autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. It isn't just the changing of the leaves, though that certainly ranks pretty high. It's also the crisper air, apple season, and the tension between summer ending and winter beginning. I feel revived, ready to slow down for winter, but also eager to make things and find ways to occupy myself. I write more in the cooler months.

Here are a few other things I simply love about October.

I have a great fondness for dirt roads. I love the way trees meet overhead. I love the way they seem to be moving off slowly to someplace lovely, and inviting you to come along. And I love them best of all with a crunchy dusting of leaves.

I also love pumpkins, even though I won't eat one. And I love-love-LOVE stone walls... the way they stagger along a tree-line on an old estate, or the way they seem to embrace a piece of land that has remained unmolested. I love the really, really old stone walls in New England. They melt back into the earth as if the land will tolerate divisions and markers as long as they are stone and lichen-caked. Ahmed went nuts decorating our stone bridge with pumpkins this year.

I love the leaves before they "peak," with green mixed with the colors... and when they are past "peak," and are scattered all on the ground, too. Peak is over-rated!

I'm nuts for bittersweet. When winter comes the cardinals, bluejays, and chickadees show up against the snow and sit on the bright branches, but in the fall the berries are waxy and fat, and they pop in late October. I like making wreaths and trimmings with the branches. The colors make me think of spices!

And here in my neck of the woods we have swans, who mate for life and stay in the same bogs, lakes, rivers to nest every year. They are gorgeous year round, but somehow the snowy white bodies drifting over pools with colored leaves that fall like confetti down under the water... they're stately and peaceful. Seeing them together always makes me smile.

What do you love about autumn where you are?

Friday, October 09, 2009

You know you're stretching for blog topics when...

1.What was the last thing you put in your mouth? Nutrisystem granola bar

2.Where was your blog profile picture taken? At my work desk

3.Can you play Guitar Hero? We have it…I’ve never tried it.

4.Name someone who made you laugh today? Wiley my puppy dog.

5.How late did you stay up last night and why? 1:30 am. I was reading for a “few minutes” before bed. Darn you Tessa Dare. (Dear FTC, If you are reading this, I purchased the book at Safeway and am not giving it to anyone when I’m done. Love, Gwen)

6.If you could move somewhere else, would you? I don’t know yet. Husband and I are planning on visiting EVERYWHERE so we can decide.

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? *blush*

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you? I have a friend across the street.

9. Do you believe ex’s can be friends? In a weird, weird way.

10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper? I am a fan of both Dr. Pepper and Sgt. Pepper. In fact, I might have a pepper and listen to Strawberry Fields right now.

11. When was the last time you cried really hard? When my grandma died.

12. Who took your profile picture? me.

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of? Strangers who asked if I could take their picture.

14. Was yesterday better than today? I’m living in the moment, dude.

15. Can you live a day without TV? I could live for years without a tv.

16. Are you upset about anything? Not so much.

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it? They are the only thing worth it. Whatever it is.

18. Are you a bad influence? I’m definitely an influence. It’s really going to depend on certain factors of your upbringing whether you consider me bad or not.

19. Night out or night in? I’m so a homebody.

20. What items could you not go without during the day? The World Wide Webs and caffeine.

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? A client from work needed something notarized. Also, it inspired an panic attack when I got out of there. Not a fan of the hospital.

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say? “Can I ask you a writer-y question?”

23. How do you feel about your life right now? We’re pretty good friends.

24. Do you hate anyone? No. Except maybe the Burger King King. I’d rather not discuss it though.

25. If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find? Wait…there’s an inbox?

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass? That depends. Would there be pictures? I’d probably screw up the toxicology portion of the test, but I could maybe match the picture to the substance.

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before? If you consider “Dear Lord Gwen, you’re one hot mess” as perfect, then yes.

28. What song is stuck in your head? I’m so glad you asked!

Cryin' on the corner, waitin' in the rain
I swear I'll never, ever wait again
You gave me your word…but words for you are lies

Darlin' in my wildest dreams, I never thought I'd go
But it's time to let you know....oh...

I'm gonna harden my heart
I'm gonna swallow my tears
I'm gonna turn...and...leave you here.....

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m., who do you want it to be? It better be Jesus. Anyone else is getting junk punched.

31. Name something you have to do tomorrow? Apologize to whomever knocked on my window at 2:00 a.m.

32. Do you think too much or too little? I think the exact right amount.

33. Do you smile a lot? Smiling is my favorite.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Some Legal Developments

Have you heard about the FTC's new rules/guidelines for bloggers?

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission released a revised "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials." The new rules require bloggers who review products (anything from a book to a DVD to a baby crib) to disclose if they received the product for free when giving an endorsement.

So if you bought a book on Amazon, and then post a review, well, you didn't get it for free. But if a publisher or an author sends you an ARC, the FTC wants you to disclose this fact on your blog. According to the Washington Post, breaking the new guidelines could result in up to $11,000 in fines.

FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection spokesman Richard Cleland states that newspaper book reviewers are exempt, because it's the newspaper who receives the ARC, not the individual reviewer. He also stated that he saw no issue with a blogger receiving a book for free, as long as they didn't then link to a site to buy the book, and the blogger didn't keep the book after reviewing it.

Which, you know, leads to a slippery slope for those of us with friends in the publishing world. Here at Fictionistas, we don't actively seek ARCs to review. Frankly, we're all way too busy to read and report on books that we didn't ourselves choose to read. We're not a review site...we're a site that focuses loosely on YA fiction (in addition to other things), and though occasionally we will do reviews, it's generally because we read a book that we loved so incredibly much that we wanted to spread the word.

Usually that's a book that we ourselves bought (as authors, we know the importance of going into the bookstore and adding to the sales of a book), but what is an author friend sent me a copy of her book. I'm talking out of the goodness of her heart here, not because she wanted me to review it. And I read it, and loved it, and wanted to blog about it. Is Mr. Cleland saying that I would need to a) disclose that my friend sent it to me for free (please note that I do disclose whether an author is a friend of mine if I rave about her book, simply because I don't want to hide that, and also because I want to brag a little that I'm friends with this super cool person), and b) give away my copy once I've blogged on it, simply because I got it for free?


And how exactly are they ever going to enforce this potential $11,000 fine provision?

Anyway...I have friends who work for the FTC, so I'm going to ask them to clarify. And the new guidelines don't go into effect until Dec 1, so I'm sure they will be revised before then. So we shall wait and see how things shake out.

Also in legal/publishing news, yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether federal judges have the power to approve settlements in copyright fights. The case stems from a NY court's approval of an $18 million settlement of a class-action brought by writers who argued their work was improperly reproduced for electronic distribution.

Newest Justice Sonia Sotomayor was absent from the bench. She recused herself for undisclosed reasons, but probably because she heard a similar case brought by individual freelanders back in 1997 when she was a district court judge. She sided with the publishers, but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed her decision on the basis that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over claims related to unregistered works. (The Supreme Court later upheld the appellate ruling, 7-2.)

In the current case, the district court approved the settlement, and the 2nd Circuit ruled that the lower court had no jurisdiction and should not have approved the deal. They cited a federal law limiting copyright lawsuits to those who have registered their works.

The US gov't argued in their amicus brief in the current case that the 2nd Circuit ruling should be vacated. Solicitor General Elena Kagan wrote "An industry-wide settlement is unquestionably in the publis interest because it recognizes freelance authors' copyright rights while ensuring the public availability of their works."

The Computer and Communications Industry Association and NetCoalition (which represent Google, Microsoft, eBay, Amazon, and other techy companies) field a brief arguing that the 2nd Circuit ruling should stand.

So we shall see...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Hell hath no fury...Mwahahaha

When it comes to relationships and breaking up, I've never had any that ended on a super-great note--I'm not friends with any of my exes. We don't hang out and talk about the good old days, or have a drink together. In fact, I usually completely break up, without any contact with them whatsoever. I erase the evidence of that person having been in my life, because it's the only way for me to move on.

In a way, I kind of regret this. I hear about people who remain friends with their exes and wonder, what could I have done differently to have made that happen for us? Maybe something. Maybe nothing. Who knows? And honestly, would I even have wanted that?

Though the bulk of my relationships didn't end in friendship, they weren't usually traumatic. We went our separate ways and moved on. However, I've had a few horrible breakups, ones that have left me crumbled and severely injured.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I'm not normally a vengeful person by nature. I believe the best revenge is letting go of the past, moving on, and having a happy life.

However, there may or may not have been a couple of instances where I felt sooooo wronged by the other person that I left my, um, "less mature" side take over. For example, I hypothetically could have burned one ex's really expensive shirt in the sink after we broke up. Or there was the possibility that I may have signed up another ex for some revolting XXX email newsletters.

Admittedly, if those incidents above had, um, happened, I wouldn't feel guilty about the first one, given the circumstances of the breakup. The second one, though, I kinda wish I hadn't done--it was super petty. But at least it wasn't harmful or destructive, right? LOL

So, how have your relationship breakups gone down--did they end positively? Did they just fizzle out? Did they end in a torrent of tears and bad feelings?

And when you've broken up, have you ever gotten revenge on an ex? If so, what did you do? Were you happy about what you did, or did you regret it?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Here kitty, kitty...

I like leopard print. If you've ever spent time around me in real life, that will come as no surprise to you. I own shoes, purses, jackets, tops, dresses, accessories...all in leopard print. I even own some things that are lined in leopard print. And then of course, there's my personal blog. And my profile photo. In my home I have a fun assortment of leopard print things scattered about. A throw rug, a bulletin board, a tissue box cover. I even carry a crystal covered leopard print pen in my purse. (To match my leopard print notebook, natch.)

Leopard has become a bit of my signature look, I guess, although I just wear it because it's fun and wild and suits me. It just makes me smile. People give me leopard printed things and say, "It made me think of you!"

What's your signature style? Do you love red? Mad for plaid?

Monday, October 05, 2009

what gwen said--and then some.

I'd like to add something to Gwen's post on this Roman Polanski mess. There are multitudes of celebrities who are using their status to support this grown man who drugged and raped a 13 year old child. And it sickens me that we admire them so much because they are the pretty Hollywood elite that some of us will actually agree that Polanski has 'suffered enough' for his crime.

And if he had been anyone other than a brilliant director, this would not even be a debate. If he had been your next door neighbor, or a teacher, or a politician...or ANYBODY ELSE these very same celebrities would be screaming at the top of their lungs saying what he did was despicable and to throw the book at the man who drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. Because no matter what you call it is rape. She was 13. She said no. He drugged her and plied her with champagne. He admitted this in court. And then he ran away so that he wouldn't have to serve time. Those facts cannot be disputed, no matter how much you try to justify the actions of a brilliant director who was 43 and drugged his barely teenaged victim.

Watch the 2nd video to hear Whoopi call it 'not rape-rape' and trying to justify her opinion because of the legalese. Call it what you want, Ms. Goldberg. He drugged her, and inserted his penis into her while she said no. That is the very definition of rape, no matter how brilliant an artist he is.

Also, shame on you Melissa Gilbert, for trying to blame the mother. Sure it was bad judgment...and poor mothering at the very least, but the fact that mother was stupid does not color this situation gray. THE CHILD WAS 13 YEARS OLD! grrrrrr.

Oops, I digress.

I'd like to talk about REAL celebrities who deserve our admiration. People in our lives that contribute to the world in a meaningful and beautiful way. People who are often overlooked because they aren't in film, or one of the pretty people, or have money and power because they've made umpteen blockbuster movies.

Here's a list of people that I believe deserve to be listened to and deserve MY admiration:
  1. My 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Wright who taught me how much fun creative writing can be
  2. My grandmother, Mema...because she was my grandma. :)
  3. My mother, for starting her career at 18 years old as a secretary at a bank and retired as the Vice President of Trust Operations. And just for being my mom.
  4. The civil servants who protect and serve us daily.
  5. All of our teachers (not just Mrs. Wright, though she was awesome) and supporting staff from the janitor to the lunch ladies, to the bus drivers who educate and watch after our children.
Who would you add to this list?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Stuff And Nonsense

I have tip-toed onto the internet for fifteen minutes to pre-post this... only it' been almost an hour. I'm still going slow.

In spite of the fact that I spent most of this week under medication and not getting a darned thing done, I've learned a few things about myself.

1. Laughter-- I think I may have an addiction. I was told to avoid laughing til my muscles heal, and it has been very close to intolerable.

2. Letting go is very hard for me but there's one person I can trust that much.

3. I may be a fat lady, but I'm also hyper. Sitting still? Not so big a fan.

4. You really can force yourself to read.

5. Drugs only SEEM to send us on a trippy voyage of interesting creativity... when they wear off the stuff you created is absolutely unintelligable and worthless.

6. There is absolutely NOTHING ON EARTH that isn't made better by this video:

Friday, October 02, 2009

You know you are the worst advocate EVER when...

While I occasionally like to delve into Big Subjects on Fictionistas, I generally try and keep away from polarizing issues like politics and religion. So, in that regard, I'm not going to go deep into the Roman Polanski news this week. The subject matter is not appropriate for all of our younger readers and besides that, frankly it makes me sick. So, if you don't know the case, Google can help you out.

Instead, I'd like to tell all our readers, including the young ones, that if you say no and someone forces you to have sex, it is rape. There is no difference between "rape" and "rape-rape". There is no "there is rape and then there is rape" delineation.

If you say no, and someone forces you to have sex, it is rape.
If you are thirteen years old, you are not old enough to consent to intercourse. Therefore, it is sex without consent and you guessed it...rape.
If you are thirteen years old AND you say no, it is definitely rape-rape.

I have a HUGE problem with proclaimed Victim's Advocate Deborah Tate telling the world via Today Show interview that, "...there's rape and then there's rape...I am a victim's advocate and I know the difference."

I read the transcripts, I saw his guilty plea.. Where is the difference? What are we telling our nation's girls and boys? How is this advocacy?

So, while this is not the forum for political grandstanding, this is the forum to tell young women that it doesn't matter if you are forced by an famous adult with power and money or if you are forced by a family member or if you are forced by a stranger in an alley. It is rape and nobody has the right to do that to you. If you need help, there are real advocates who can assist you in dealing with the myriad of emotions and health issues you might encounter.

24hr. Hotline: 210.349.7273

And don't let anyone ever tell you your rights are less important than someone who hurts you.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Big Changes

In Mel's post on Monday, she mentioned that she's considering taking an alternative career path and becoming a teacher. Good on ya, Mel! That's awesome!

I, too, am seriously contemplating a major career move. I'm not quite ready to speak the words aloud, because I don't want to jinx it, and also because I'm not quite sure exactly how it's going to work, or if it will, but I'm taking a huge leap of faith today in working towards it, so please wish me luck.

Anyway, have you ever taken a leap of faith and totally changed directions in your life? If so, did it work out the way you'd hoped?