Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gwen's daughter came to visit this weekend. She's 17, but very mature and smart. And she's at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference this week, having a blast! We're so proud of her for getting accepted!

We had a lot of fun hosting her this past weekend, and she was really great with my infant. Aren't they cute?

You can see the schedule of her conference here:
It looks really awesome, huh? They just met with the deputy White House Press Secretary and are meeting with their members of Congress now.

She's blogging her experiences here:

Have you ever had any cool conference experiences?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Great Books You've Never Read

Somebody (can't remember whom) was chatting on Facebook last week about great books never read and great movies never seen. I actually think it's an interesting topic. There are not that many on my list that still sing siren songs to me. But there are a few.

This is my list. I'd love it if you shared yours.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe

There are more, but these are the few I feel a tad guilty about.

How about you?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Little lies we tell ourself

I've been watching what I eat and working out for the past several months and I've now lost 21 pounds. It's a great feeling. I'm not done, but I'm getting there. In the meanwhile, I had to go out and buy a few summer things to get me through until I hit goal.

I tried on a pair of shorts that were 2 sizes smaller than what I had been wearing and not only did they fit, but they looked good.

First thing that came to my mind? They must be mislabeled.

The more I thought about that statement, the more I realized how often I do that in other parts of my life. Like my books. When someone tells me they liked one of the books I've written, that small voice creeps in and discounts it.

Why do we do that to ourselves? What lies have you told yourself lately? I say we need to cut out the little lies and enjoy every moment for what it is. Who's with me?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Cleveland just had a teeny earthquake. SO freaking weird--I have never been in one before. I was sitting at my desk, and it suddenly felt like my body was shaking funny. I actually thought it was me, until my boss and my mom said they felt it too. At least it was really mild. I was in a hurricane before as a kid, which was super scary.

Have you ever been in an earthquake or other natural disaster?

Monday, June 21, 2010

coming soon: LOVE SUCKS!

In 6 weeks, the sequel to BITE ME! will hit the shelves.

It seems so surreal to know that I will have 2 books out in the world with my name on the cover. 2 books that I actually wrote. Myself. And that people buy. On purpose.

LOVE SUCKS! is available for pre-order, btw.

Here's the blurb I wrote for the book (which can be found on my book website: Have You Been Bitten?)

AJ Ashe is moving on. Sure she still has not-so-sisterly feelings for Ryan, her ex-boyfriend-turned-step-brother, but there’s a new vampire in town and his name is Alexander Archer. Caught between the desire to move forward with Sexy Lexy and being drawn to her past with Ryan, AJ thinks life couldn’t get anymore complicated. Yeah, right. When her mother’s pregnancy is threatened, it looks like AJ’s long lost father is the only person who can save her. But Dad’s help comes with a price. AJ is forced join the evil side of her family, and a very creepy shape-shifting demon is there to make sure AJ cooperates. All this and she’s still got to plan the prom. Being a teenager is tough, but being a teenage vampire just flat out sucks. Pun totally intended.
I'm working on a very fun contest idea with a super cool prize. 6 weeks doesn't seem that far away--on paper. But in my mind, it may as well be forever.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guest Post: Teen Reviewer John

I'm excited to announce a guest blogger today. John reviews books at Teens Read TooDear Authorand his own site Dreaming in BooksI asked him to drop by and give us a guy's perspective to the young adult genre. 

Boys, Books, and a Group Totally Under the Radar
 by John
                The male gender and the written word are thought to be entirely incompatible.  In high school, girls are thought to be the ones picking up pens and loading up word processors.  Guys are supposed to be running down fields and catching balls of all different shapes and sizes.  Whenever people see a guy with a book – especially a ‘girly’ book like a romance – they immediately become shocked.

                Newsflash, people, it’s not as uncommon as you think.

                As an avid reader of the romance genre, especially YA romance, I’ve come to know and love all of the aspects associated with it.  The rough sexual tension between two protagonists as they try to work through a relationship despite one hardship or another.  The idea of unrequited true love.  Y’all may not understand this (yes, I say y’all sometimes – Stevie Rae syndrome for those HoN fans), but I just can’t help but adoring it.  In some ways, it is a matter of gender conventions, because I’m not the normal teenage boy by any means.  But I think a lot of guys secretly read romance without even knowing it.

                Look at the author John Green.  Looking for Alaska…Paper Towns…All of his books focus on a type of love story, but they focus on guys and thus seem like ‘guy books’.  But, really, a lot of guys just don’t try it.  I can’t tell you the eyebrows I raise when a guy has a copy of Twilight subtly placed on his stack of stuff in the hallway.  It doesn’t happen often, but it still occurs.  What’s more, a lot of guys in today’s society just don’t feel comfortable sharing anything, much less a love of romance novels. 

                As for romance and YA in relation to gender, it’s actually a lot more gender neutral than anyone would think.  Most of the books I read in the YA genre could be seen as a guy book in some way.  Pretty Little Liars deals with murders and mysterious stalking instances.  Twilight has bad-ass wolf and vampire wars and a sexual undertone that would attract anyone with a pulse and some free time.  Even regular romance novels have things that would attract a normal, testosterone obsessed male reader. 

                Think about it.  What is the male in a romance novel but the ultimate catch?  He’s always sublimely sexy and knows just how to please women.  The female protagonist is always smitten with him and raves about his chiseled features and how she wants to feel the contours of his six pack and…well, you get the idea.  Reading is the purest form of escapism for people, and what better way for a guy to escape than in everything he fantasizes about?  With a flurry of strong women and just as strong men in romance and YA today, it makes sense that more guys are going to try and sneak a peek at both of these genres.

                What makes these genres seem off-limits for guys is the marketing.  While I love the marketing for romance and YA, let’s face it, most guys would turn the other way because of how girly and feminine it is.  Covers either show excess amounts of man-titty, a full bare chest, a full bare back, something else provocative…or a woman in a very pretty dress.  A majority of the male buyers will not respond to the first three cover types, and rarely will they respond to the last cover type in a way that will get them to actually buy the book.  The summaries aren’t much better, because they usually stress the romantic factor, though they aren’t as important in terms of image because people do not see the summary first, and people will not notice the summary of the book the man is carrying, but the cover. 

                Another issue is the protagonist.  In YA in particular, the lack of male protagonists is hard to understand.  Many of the plots and stories could do well with a male protagonist, and I personally find that it wouldn’t hurt the female readers in interest enough to be a big deal.  The fact is: reluctant male readers will want to read about males, especially younger male readers.  That girls-are-icky phase?  Yeah, they don’t really want to read about them during that.  The romance genre is harder to pin down, because it’s a genre that mainly focuses on the romance of the woman protagonist.  More and more of them show a good deal of the male point of view, though, so male readers are often surprised at what lies inside the novel.

                Ultimately, it’s going to take a long time for males to be seen reading romance books or YA romance books in public.  It may not even happen.  The marketing and the interest for reading are more towards the female end of the spectrum, and that just ruins the experience for other male readers.  If it were geared towards attracting more males, more males would read it.  However, that isn’t something that’s going to happen.  Male readers are a very rare species, and male romance readers are a practically extinct one.  But they do exist.  And there are reasons behind their existence.  Next time you see a male reading a book – especially a romance – don’t be shocked.  Instead, treat it as normal, because it isn’t really that strange at all.  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Choose Wisely...

I recently sat down with (and by "sat down", I mean that I assume we were both sitting as we emailed) Shannon Gilligan, publisher of the relaunched "Choose Your Own Adventure" series.

Our adult readers probably remember these books from when they were kids. Our teen readers might have read some of the relaunch titles. Personally, I LOVED these books. So much fun!

The Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) series was originally published by Bantam in the 1970s/1980s but is now published by Chooseco, a company started by two of the original writers, R.A. Montgomery and Shannon Gilligan.

Please welcome Shannon Gilligan!

AB: Which was your favorite title that you wrote?

SG: I would say Case of the Silk King. I have family in Thailand that I am very fond of and I just love the Thai spirit and heart. It was funny because years after I wrote this, I actually became friends of one of Jim Thompson’s nephews. Unbeknownst to me at the time. Jim Thompson of course being the Silk King in question!

AB: How did you get your start?

SG: My start as a writer? My first book was a CYOA called The Search for Champ. We recently re-issued it as Lake Monster Mystery with four color illustrations. Before that I wrote a couple of dreadful children’s books about talking bears who fought in the French and Indian Wars. They were dreadful and thankfully never published.

AB: What can you tell us about the relaunch of the series?

SG: We had to do it ourselves to get it right. It’s been a big effort but we are really glad we did.

AB: Why did Chooseco decide to relaunch the series?

There was this demand developing among the original fans who were having their own kids. It was a demand that we were uniquely privy to. One of the reasons we published ourselves was that we could never get an editor to understand how big this demand was. I remember when we were shopping it around, we got an offer for four books to be published over two years. And I said, “What!?! Four books? For this big handsome sexy series, four books?!!” That was when I knew we were going to have to do it ourselves.

AB: Is Chooseco going to add new titles to the series, or are you only reissuing the classic titles?

We have added a couple of new titles in both our classic series. These are Forecast from Stonehenge by R.A. Montgomery, Track Star! Also by R.A., and the just released Zombie Penpal by Ken McMurtry. There weren’t as many original titles to choose from for our younger readers’ imprint so there are more brand new books for that one. They include Your Purrr-fect Birthday, Always Picked Last, Return to Haunted House and the upcoming Monsters of the Deep by R.A. Montgomery and Your Grandparents are Zombies by Anson Montgomery.

We also have experimented with a longer form of interactive story with CYOA: The Golden Path. Volumes 1 and 2 are out and Volume 3 is still being written. The series is by R.A.’s son, Anson, who is a tremendous writer.

AB: Are you accepting submissions?

SG: We get contacted about that all the time. We will look at a proposal once a writer has signed a release. You can download the form from our website, or contact us for a copy. Other than that, we can’t look at unsolicited material for reasons of legal protection. We are about to make an offer on the first proposal from a brand new writer who came “over the transom” shortly.

AB: How is the next generation of readers responding to books that their parents read?

I don’t see a big generational difference in the response, but I must admit to being much more moved than I used to be when someone comes up and tells me that the reason they learned to read was CYOA.

AB: Do you find that the CYOA concept works well for a generation that has grown up playing on the internet?

Yes, if anything it’s more obvious to them. It makes perfect sense that you can control the story!

Monday, June 14, 2010

About a month ago my nephew bestowed upon me a guitar-shaped elastic in shocking purple. I didn't know, then, what it was. Nor did I grasp the magnitude of the gift. It was purple. And a guitar. That's a tough combo to get.

It was, of course, a silly bandz bracelet. Silly bandz are taking over the world. They are the new webkinz. They are the new pokemon card. They are the new thing.

What has surprised me? The number of high school and college aged kids I come across who are sporting a wrist full of color. I was at a cafe the other day and saw a girl with quite the collection. She was completely straight faced when she carefully explained that she buys the alphabet packages and puts "words of the day" on. (Last Thursday she was wearing five bands that spelled out F-O-C-U-S.)

I suppose the trend is relatively harmless and-- thank goodness-- cheap. Walgreens sells little packages crammed with a theme for around three bucks. I know because I grabbed a few and was hailed as a hero upon returning home to the nephews.

Me, I wear that purple guitar. It goes great with my diamonds. And if it's the thought that counts, it's just as priceless. I mean... come on... it's PURPLE. You can't GET purple!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Watermelony Goodness

I love watermelon. More than the average person, possibly. I buy them two at a time when they're in season and it's not uncommon for me to go days eating watermelon and very little else. They taste like summer! It's one of my top 5 foods and I can't get enough. I pretty much buy the seedless kind exclusively, but I've never turned down the kind with seeds, either.

Because I'm a giver, I thought I'd share a few fun facts about this fabulous edible!
  • The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
  • Over 1,200 varieties of watermelons are grown worldwide in 96 countries.
  • In some Mediterranean countries, the taste of watermelon is paired with the salty taste of feta cheese.
  • Watermelon is 92% water.
  • Watermelon's official name is Citrullus Lanatus of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae. It is cousins to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
  • By weight, watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
  • Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
  • The first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1796 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.
  • In 1990, Bill Carson of Arrington, TN grew the largest watermelon at 262 pounds that is still on the record books (1998 ed. Guinness Book of World Records).
  • Watermelon has no fat or cholesterol and is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6 and C and contains fiber and potassium.
You can find out more about watermelon here. What's your take on it? Do you love it or only like it? What's your favorite way to eat it? Do you have any you can share with me?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I'm addicted to Craigslist

I recently discovered the unbridled beauty of Craigslist. And I can't stop looking. Where else can you find the most desperate of society looking to hook up? It's sheer magic. Anyway, this morning, I realized there is a "best of craigslist" link that shows some truly amazing stuff. Here are a few of my favs:

This guy just wants to reenact the "Beat It" video with another dude:

This guy is looking for a mentor to help him craft the perfect beard/moustache:

This person is looking to rent out an igloo he built in his backyard:

This person has a free dirty toilet for some lucky person:

This guy has a Kimball organ he wants to trade for a cute puppy and a high-five:

So, what about you--any recent addictions? Are you a Craigslist fiend like me?

Monday, June 07, 2010

happy National VCR day!

Seriously, do any of y'all even know what a VCR is anymore? I actually still own one. I'm pretty sure it works. I only own 2 VCR tapes: Bridget Jones Diary (also have the DVD) and the original Little Mermaid with the banned cover.

Other things we can celebrate this week?

June 7th
Daniel Boone Day
Dean Martin's Birthday

June 8th
Upsy-Daisy Day (everyone wake up happy!)
Bill of Rights Anniversary
Frank Lloyd Wright's Birthday

June 9th
Donald Duck's Birthday!

June 10th
Anniversary of the Ball Point Pen (w00t!)
Maurice Sendak's Birthday (let the wild rumpus begin!)

June 11th
Corn on the Cob day (I don't know about you, but I know how I'm gonna
King Kamehameha I Day (Hawaii)

June 12th
Crowed Nest Awareness Day (when adults move back in with their parents or when grandparents are left to raise the grandchildren.)
Anne Frank's Birthday

So what are you planning to celebrate this week? I'm really going to hit Corn on the Cob day with both barrels. Yum.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I've been playing

Sometimes, when I should be writing, instead I find myself doing other things. Like designing bookmarks (they just came today in the mail!)


Or making clickable playlists for "Songs to Fall Under by"

iTunes if you prefer

But all the same, I feel like spending time in my "world" even when I'm not writing helps my writing.
At least that is my story and I'm sticking to it.

How do you procrastinate and make yourself feel better about it?