Saturday, August 30, 2008

History Comes Knocking

How do you avoid getting excited about a presidential race that, FINALLY, looks a lot more like America? Whomever prevails in November, we are living in astonishing times. An African American is the nominee for the Democrats and a woman has been nominated as the VP pick for the Republicans. I'm tingling!

Think about it... hard on the heels of the anniversaries of both the 19th Amendment being passed and Dr. Martin Luther King giving his "I Have A Dream" speech, these two Americans have emerged to stand in the spotlight of history.

And so, regardless of which party takes the White House in this election, we will be making history. In January the nation will finally-- FINALLY!!-- be represented by either a black man as president or a woman as vice president. Change is coming. There is no longer a wimp-out option. The bigots of the country must be flipping out. We've nailed the back door shut!

Come on... you don't have to even have political opinions to get goosebumps. It's just plain AWESOME!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Whatever I want

Summer's last hurrah is here. Not only is it the last weekend in August--but we also have an early Labor Day. So pretty much, I'm thinking nobody is going to pay attention to what I post today.

But I'm not skipping because Rhonda is going to get me back. I don't know when or she will get me for the jib-jab Wednesday.

So, I have decided to share with you my top three favorite music videos of all time. They are not necessarily my favorite songs (though I do like them) but they are my favorite videos.

I never get tired of that one...and I still love her hair. His too.


That one just....surprised me when I first saw it. And it makes me happy.


Is there anything cooler?

So what are your favorite music videos?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Road Trip!

As you're reading this, I'm probably on the road, driving to Hilton Head Island, SC. Unless it's after about 1 pm, in which case, I am now sunbathing on the beach. Unless it's raining. (Please don't be raining!)

Mr. Brice and I left DC at 3 am. Yes, I know that's insanely early. I'd originally wanted to leave after work on Wed evening and drive halfway, go eat yummy barbeque somewhere in Eastern North Carolina (mmm...), spend the night in a hotel, and then continue in the morning. But Mr. Brice rightly pointed out that we'd just be stuck in traffic for a long time.

So 3 am Thursday morning it is. Why didn't we leave later? Well, because I am determined to lay out this afternoon. And the traffic is really light when there are no cars on the road.

Anyway, depending on when you read this, I'll either be on the road, stopping for breakfast (likely around 7 am at one of the 25792735923 Cracker Barrels along I-95), or on the beach. Or if you don't get to it until Thurs night, there's a good chance I'm eating seafood, playing board games with my parents, or having drinks down at Harbor Town.

And hopefully I got my revisions back to my agent before I left. LOL!

So, anyone have any fun plans for Labor Day weekend?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where in the World is Rhonda?

I was kind of worried that Rhonda hadn't posted yet today. I found her...but boy is Mel gonna be mad.

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Musings

I'm in a philosophical mood today. Full of wonderings and posturings. I will not, however, wax poetic. Let's preceed, shall we?

Why is high school called high school? It's not the highest form of school - that would be college. Shouldn't college be called high school? Then high school could be called medium school.

Are there other numbers of pencils besides the Number 2? If so, what are they used for?

After all that forced math, why do I still have no clue how to balance my checkbook?

Where is my checkbook?

What on earth made me think boys were so intimidating? Especially now that I know most of them are afraid of me.

Speaking of math, what is the new math? Where did the old math go?

My brain is starting to hurt. That is all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

things to do on a rainy day

I'm at the beach. It's raining. Hard.

Here is a list of things I can do today:

  1. Read
  2. Write
  3. Watch movies
  4. Do Aerobics
  5. Clean
  6. Play the game of Life
  7. Play Guitar Hero or Rock Band
  8. Laundry
  9. Bake or cook something comforting
  10. Pick my nose
  11. Eat, drink, and be merry
  12. Decorate for Christmas
  13. Coordinate my outfits for the next week.
  14. Color my hair (probably red since I have a thing)
  15. Get inked

These are my options. Can you pick out the items that I won't be doing?

Do you have any other suggestions?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Secret Semptember Shame

It's my favorite time of year, for lots of good reasons. But I'm going to share with you, gentle reader, the really freaky reason. I have a problem. I'm obsessed with something a little weird and I can't get the monkey off my back. And the sick thing is a lot of us-- writers-- share the addiction. So back-to-school time is tough. The ads are everywhere. There's no way to hide from them...


Oh my word... they call to me like candy. Bright, shiny, colorful-- like prettily wrapped jewels designed to catch the eye of a deranged magpie like myself. Sparkly! Shiny! Bright and fancy and NEW!!!

So seductive. The little cellophane tabs in purple and blue and pink? Oh my. I could organize my plot book with those. The hard-back theme notebooks defying conventional black and white covers with swirls of bold print in lime green, orange, teal? My character sketches want to live in them like modernized condos for fiction. The brand new packs of unbroken crayons? Magenta and cyan blue and vandyke brown--- ooooh they're calling me!

I didn't like school much til I moved on to college. College became my place to blossom and I loved it. But I've always had this secret... this shameful yet diliriously delicious addition to all things paper, pencil, and pen related. Blank pages have always made me itch. Freshly shaved pencil wood gives me shivers. Turn my palm and you will find a lifeline pock-marked with blue dots-- the scars of pencil led driven into my hands as I furiously erased something I'd sketched. I cherish them: battle-scars of a young artist.

So while many of you may be in mourning as the summer comes winding down with a wistful sigh, I am all ajangle with joy. It's school supply season. I can smell the ink on the wind! Bubble-gum-like pencil sharpeners and ice-cream colored triple folders beckon me. I'm hooked. I admit it. Get out of my way, I need to get to the closest Target NOW!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Book review: I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

Sometimes, I had to put this book down--not because I didn't love it, but because I needed time to absorb and sometimes I needed time to rest. I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert grips the reader so tightly and envelops the reader so completely that its easy to get really tired living Emily Black's life with her. The reader is left emotionally raw...regularly.

As a caveat, I'd like to warn you that while this book is about a young adult--the theme and subject matter are very mature. Meaning sex, drugs, rock and roll are prevalent, as are adult situations and language. It was never gratuitous--I'd say it is maybe an R rating by movie standards. (which will probably jack up her sales by me saying that, which is fine by me--the book was phenomenal)

Ms. Kuehnert crafted a tale of a mother and daughter against the backdrop of the punk scene. Emily's mother, Louisa, abandoned Emily and her Dad when Emily was very young. What Emily carries with her is an image of a free-spirit who left to follow the music of her heart and soul. As Emily grows, she uses the same music to nurture her own soul and to be close to Louisa, whom she has painted as a rock goddess.

Louisa, on the other hand, lives her life running not from Emily nor to music. She is running away from herself--and well, we all know that doesn't take you too far.

Not being part of the punk scene is not a problem. Read this book and you will feel like you are there. You will be a part of it. You will feel the bass in your chest, you will smell the smoke and the sweat, you will taste the freedom. And you will yell at Emily, "No! Don't do that!" and you will yell at "Emily. Oh my God! I can't believe you just did that!" And your heart will be broken--more than once, I promise you.

I can't wait for another book by Stephanie Kuehnert. She rocks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"If I Can Die in a War, Why Can't I Buy a Beer?"

As college freshman leave home this week, presidents from 100 of the nation's best-known universities, including Duke, Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Tufts, and Ohio State, are asking lawmakers to lower the nation's drinking ages (ages, plural...drinking age is a state issue, although every state in the country has adopted the age-21 requirement or face losing 10% of its federal highway funding) from 21 to 18.

Many groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, oppose this measure, saying it encourages binge drinking and will lead to more fatal crashes.

I disagree. In fact, I think it will be the exact opposite, and I applaud the college presidents for taking the lead.

We've previously discussed this in a roundabout way when Gwen said she occasionally allows her kids wine with dinner:

In countries where the drinking age is 18, 16, or even no drinking age at all, teenagers are exposed to alcohol at a much earlier age by having a glass of wine at dinner with their parents. It's just a normal part of life, so when they go off to college or get to the legal drinking age, it's no big deal. They don't feel any pressure to binge drink because it's just alcohol.

In the US, however, we treat alcohol as a taboo. And teens love taboos. Let's face it...teens love to rebel. If you say something's off-limits, they'll immediately gravitate towards it.

So if you're at a party where the booze is flowing, you'll drink. And drink. And drink. Who knows when the next time is that you'll get to drink, so you overdo it. And because you can't drink at home or in a safe environment, you end up having to drive afterwards.

Same thing with college. Once campuses started really cracking down on underage drinking, it was pushed off-campus. Why do you think the Duke lacrosse players were at an off-campus house the night of that ill-fated stripper party? Because they couldn't drink on campus. And when you push drinking off-campus, you inadvertantly force students to drive. (Yes, I know they could call cabs. That's not the issue here. The issue is off-campus vs. on-campus.)

Lower the drinking age, and you'll bring alcohol back to campus. Social life will return to campus, and students won't have to drive. They can just walk back to their dorm.

Lower the drinking age, and students won't feel the need to binge drink. We're one of the only countries in the world with a binge-drinking problem among teens and college students. Why is that? Well, I think it's because of our high legal drinking age.

When something's illegal, you tend to overindulge in it, for fear that you won't get to do it ever again. But if it's just a normal part of life (like how alcohol is treated in many other countries, particularly in Europe), then you don't feel any need to binge.

So I applaud these college presidents for a common sense solution to a problem and hope that lawmakers follow suit. And even if the drinking age doesn't get lowered, at least the president have started a dialogue and hopefully other solutions will be offered as well.

I know my opinion won't necessarily be popular amongst parents (although it will be amongst teens), but that's OK. So what do you think about binge drinking and drunk driving? Do you think the drinking age should be lowered? Raised? Left the same? Did your parents let you drink as a teen? Dish!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My cabin vacation

Sorry I'm late posting, but I JUST got back in from my vacay in Hocking Hills, Ohio (which is in the middle of the state, south of Columbus). We stayed for 3 days in some GORGEOUS cabins down there.

While we were there, we went canoeing (I didn't fall in, thank GOD, haha--though the manpanion's canoe that he was sharing with my aunt tipped...poor them!). We also went hiking on a trail at Old Man's Cave. Here are a couple of photos of my trip (of course, all images copyright Rhonda Stapleton 2008):

Here's an image of our cabin. It was 3 stories--had 5 bedrooms. A fully decked-out kitchen (dude, it had a dishwasher. I DON'T HAVE A DISHWASHER IN MY HOUSE! Waaaaah!). Three porches. A hot tub big enough for 8 (oh man, I lived in the hot tub). Air conditioning.
I tell ya, this is my idea of camping! LOL

We went on a hike in one of the state park areas. It was absolutely stunning, the view in the woods. I couldn't believe how many photo shots I kept wanting to take!

This bridge was SO pretty. It was a stone construction. I had to take a shot, of course.

This was another lovely bridge--wooden this time. The walkways were mostly smooth from traffic, but you had to be careful where you walked--there were tree roots and rocks and such all over the place!

A beautiful scene with dappled sunlight streaming through the leaves. Aaaah, I'm such a poet. LOL.

Anyway, it was the perfect mini-vacation with the perfect weather. Couldn't have asked for better temperatures!

I was also highly productive writing-wise, thank you very much. I got 3 chapters revised and added 12 new pages to my manuscript. YAY me!

So, what about you--any good camping stories? Fantastic places you like to visit?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Powerful Friends

I like having powerful friends. I don't mean I lunch with Donald Trump, I mean I have friends who support me no matter what I wear or choose to eat or not eat, no matter what kind of car I drive, the size of my house, what my parents do for a living...sorry, that was a brief slide into high school. Where those things seemed to matter to some people.

I remember high school pretty well. I wasn't exactly awash in friends. I had some and they were good ones, but it was a very small group. And most of them didn't have friends beyond that group either. Why didn't I have more friends? Why wasn't I one of the popular kids? Well, I was smart and didn't hide it. I was taller than most. I didn't wear the popular clothes, I wore stuff bought in NYC when my mom and I made our buying trips for my parents' clothing store. I wasn't a cheerleader or in band. I didn't play any sports. I spent a lot of time in the library.

Things are so different now. I have a lot of friends...I mean a lot. People know who I am. They like me. They value my opinion. What's changed? Let's see...I'm still smart and taller than most. I still sometimes wear outrageous things. I'm still not a cheerleader and I still think the library is cool.

So what's changed? I no longer feel like an outsider. If anything I feel like an insider. Maybe that's the clue. What do you think? Has the quality of your friendships changed since you grew up?

Monday, August 18, 2008

the perfect mate

When I was a kid, I used to daydream about my perfect mate. I had a checklist of criteria he had to meet before I would even consider accepting him as a lifelong partner.

  1. He had to be at least 6 ft tall. I'm not dainty and I wanted my man to make feel feminine. In my mind that meant he had to be tall.
  2. He didn't have to come from money, but he had to be headed toward money. I had a certain lifestyle I wanted to achieve and money would be required.
  3. He had to adore me because frankly, everyone should adore me. I'm awesome.
  4. He had to make me laugh.
  5. He had to be willing to name a son Ian.
  6. He had to love his momma but not be a momma's boy.
That was it. My checklist for my perfect guy.

Now, when I started seriously dating, I can tell you very quickly started to see the error in my list. My first serious boyfriend was only 5'9. Great guy. We dated for a long time, but he was not the man I would marry. Aside from his height, he met most of my original requirements. Apparently, he eventually had a kid and even named him Ian.

Before I met Fishdog, I dated a few others. I really did want a tall guy. I mean, *rowr* I love me some tall men. I even met one guy who met all of my requirements...but he still wasn't the man for me.

I decided maybe it was time toss the checklist. Obviously I had not figured out the list to love.

Then I met Fishdog. I was on a date (yes, a date) with another guy (who I never would've gone out with if I still used my list of love). When Fishdog walked in, I told my girlfriend "That's the man I'm going to marry." (even though he was only 5'10)

One and a half years later, I became Mrs. Fishdog. And I've made a new list of love:

  1. He had to adore me because frankly, everyone should adore me. I'm awesome.
  2. He had to make me laugh. Alot.
  3. He had to be willing to name a son Ian.
  4. He had to love his momma but not be a momma's boy
  5. He had to respect my need for independence.
  6. He had to love me for me and not expect me to change.
  7. He had to make me laugh. Alot.
I like my new list a lot better.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'm Wild About Harry and I'm Really Upset!!

Say it ain't so, Harry! It has been announced that The Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Movie has been postponed for release in July of 2009. The movie would have been ready but too much competition (from, for instance, Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Movie) made a November release a bad investment decision.

I don't know about you, but I'm ticked off. I mean, sure... everyone has moved on. There are only a few die-hard Hogwarts-heads left. I'm one of them. The promise of the movie was nursing my withdrawal symptoms. I've had a monkey on my back for seven books now and it's over... but I'm not ok yet. I'm not over Harry. I NEED MY FIX.

Have you seen the trailer?

I just don't know if I can make it. A YEAR???


Hold me?

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Fair-y post

I am draped across my couch writing this with the front door wide open cuz we don't need no stinkin AC in the Northwest...except for days like today. Today would have been a good AC day. Instead, I have an open front door.

Which not only brings in much needed fresh air...but noise.

The county fair is taking place about a mile away from my house, so I can hear the music, the screaming, an occasional announcer...and I am wondering when did I lose all desire to actually go?

I used to love the fair. The animal barns, the great big vegetables on display--and the rides! Oh gosh I used to love the rides. Now, I can do one fairly lame one and I usually wish I'd skipped it. But my favorite part, of course, was the food.

Why does EVERYTHING taste and smell so much better at the fair? (unless of course you are tasting it on the way back up after a non-advisable spin on the tilt-a-whirl--but again, I digress). My husband brought me an elephant ear this evening, so I'm feeling pretty content...but oh my gosh...even hot dogs taste good at the fair.

So, what is your favorite part of the fair? Do you still go?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pressure and Controversy

You remember the struggles and pain you had
When all the good had turned to bad
For it all to simply just go away...
But when the pressure builds and tears you apart
How are you able to not depart
How are you able to still carry a smile
When everything inside is in a pile

That was an excerpt from a poem called "Champion", written by star US gymnast, Shawn Johnson. She wrote it during a stay at the national training center in March as a way to put into words the pressure she and her teammates feel to succeed.

I can't even imagine that type of pressure, at the tender age of 16, no less. The "ladies" on the US women's team range in age from 16 to 20 (team captain, Brown University student Alicia Sacramone). Your country's hopes riding on your back as you tumble and throw your body all over the mat.

You're 1 point away from the leaders with 2 rotations to go. Olympic gold is within your reach if you can just do your job. But you fall. Your nerves get the best of you. And you blame yourself because your team took silver.

That's what happened to Sacramone in the team finals. She fell during her mount on the beam and then again after a tumbling pass in the floor exercise. Some people feel that as the team captain, she has the most pressure, especially since she's the oldest, and thus able to internalize it more.

It's said that the older gymnasts feel more pressure, and the younger the team is, the less pressure they feel, because perhaps they don't understand it as much.

That could be one explanation for using underage athletes. I'm sure by now you've heard of the controversy over the Chinese women's gymnastics team. Last month, the NY Times uncovered evidence (as posted on the Chinese national team's websites earlier this year, but now taken down) that not all of their gymnasts are the legal age of 16 (or at least 15 1/2...a gymnast must turn 16 within the calendar year in which the Olympics take place in order to compete).

Sports Illustrated link

Even before I'd heard that a couple of the Chinese gymnasts had previously been reported as having birthdays in 1994 (but suddenly this year their records have been "corrected" and they now have government-issued passports that state they were born in 1992), I said to Mr. Brice, "wow, some of those girls look 8 or 9!" One of the girls is just 4'6" and weighs only 68 pounds. Now, I know gymnasts are typically very small, but that's just beyond tiny for a 16-year-old. That was about my size in 5th grade! Not to mention that she has a missing tooth...

My husband couldn't figure out why a team would falsify documents like that. In his mind, a 16-year-old would be stronger, and thus better than a 14-year-old. But he's forgetting two key issues. First, a bigger and more powerful gymnast pounds the floor in her landings with much more force than a smaller one. With a couple extra years of the extra force in the landings (6 more years, in the case of Sacramone), this can add up to stress injuries much more easily. Second, the younger gymnasts are more fearless and have less stress.

But I don't know about that. I'd think that competing for the host country would lead to an awful lot of stress, too.

Anyway, what do you think about the stress and pressure we put these young girls under? With the exception of the team leaders, these are teenagers, for the most part). And do you really think Deng Linlin (the super little bitty one with the missing tooth) is 16?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My sister and her hunt for a career

I don't think I've talked about my sister Lisa on the Fictionistas blog yet. Which is a shame, because she's truly provided me lots of fodder for my stories. See, Lisa is like me, but cracked out to the nth degree (no, she's not REALLY on crack--she's just crazy talk, like the rest of the women in my family, LOL).

Anyway, my sister has held a variety of jobs to date, including:


--telemarketer for accidental death and dismemberment insurance

--leech cage cleaner in a pharmacy

--night security for a trucking company

--bookstore employee


--middle school sub for an art class (*shudder*)

Right now, Lisa works as a criminal justice/paralegal teacher at a local college, because her BA (in liberal arts), involved schooling in these areas. But she's ready to move on to bigger and better things--and what would be better than a career in criminal justice, her main area of interest?

However, my sister has a few specifications for any job she undertakes:

1. no involuntary body secretions or oozing (blood/sweat/etc.)

2. she should not have to run for her life at any point in the job

3. she should be nowhere near prisoners or shivs

These three factors alone rule out, like, 95% of all criminal justice jobs, LOL. So what about the other 5% that's left? Well, the rest of her specifications should knock those out quite nicely:

4. nothing that requires science on a middle-grade level or higher

5. nothing that requires a sense of direction

6. no math

However, Lisa thinks she has stumbled across the ideal criminal justice job for her: deputy coroner. Basically, she'd work with the coroner and medical examiner's office to determine how a person died.

And what's even scarier? My sister would be issued a GUN and would have the right to arrest people. She's stoked, because there's no training camp/physical fitness test required, which means no sweating (see rule #1). My mom is FREAKING OUT.

My sister. With a gun. AND the right to arrest people? God help us all. LOL.

So, what about you? Do you have any job specifications? Share with the group!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are you an innie or an outie?

I'm talking pressure, not belly-buttons. All this Olympic fervor has got me thinking - dangerous, I know - about pressure. Many of those athletes are very young. How would I have handled that kind of pressure at their ages? Probably with a big fat meltdown. See, I'm an internal pressure kind of girl, not an external one.

What's the diff? Lemme explain. First of all, I don't think you can have external pressure without internal pressure, but I do think you can have internal without the external.


External: My agent expects me to turn in the best book possible.
Internal: I then expect myself to produce the best work possible.

See how the first creates the second? However, if I set a goal for myself, such as finishing a book by a certain date and that goal is strictly self-created, then that's internal pressure alone. Makes sense, right? I'm sure you could come up with all kinds of internal pressure that you've created for yourself.

Now when it comes to certain types of external pressure, I'm no good. Ask me to perform in some capacity before a large crowd and I get shaky and faint. I've been a Golden Heart nominee twice and both times the thought of actually winning made me nauseous. True as the day is long.

I can rock internal pressure, though. Let me make a list of To Do's and although I will make it inhumanly long, I will accomplish all the biggies. What's the difference between the two? I don't know, I just know how I respond.

So what's it like for you? What kind of pressure do you thrive under? Do you have coping mechanisms that help you through? Are you an innie or an outie?

Monday, August 11, 2008


I'm not watching the Olympics this year. Does that make me unpatriotic?

As a young girl, I eagerly anticipated the Summer Olympics, especially during the Mary Lou Retton years. I wasn't a gymnast but I loved watching those girls twist, bend, flip, and jump their way to a medal. It was fascinating.

But this year? I could care less. And I kinda feel bad about it.

Only, here's the thing, I really hate that the Olympics are in Beijing. The air quality is terrible, and we shouldn't put our athletes through that, but that's not even the main reason.

Basic human rights. China is notorious for their uncaring and inhumane treatment of their own people. Why should we support their economy...which ultimately supports their human rights policies.

I support the athletes and wish them every success in the world. But I really struggle with watching this year's events. I suppose I could equate this to supporting the soldiers but not supporting the war. But I can't help but feel a little bit unpatriotic in the process. What do you think? Do I still bleed red, white, and blue?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Vamps, Weres, Hype, and Choices

Well, dawn broke and you better be careful where you step... those shards are sharp. Stephanie Meyer's blockbuster smash Breaking Dawn is creating quite a buzz. And some critics are making, I think, pretty valid points about concerns of a subtle message of abuse. Others insist the book is ultra-conservative and anti-choice. And some are even accusing Meyer of racism.

Check out the blogosphere:

Dear Author Discussion

Alisa Valdes Rodriguez Discussion

SBTB Discussion

Jezebel Discussion

You know, I think the accusations of racism are ridiculous. I am not troubled by the notion that a book for teen girls might be pro-pregnancy without being anti-choice or particularly pro-life. I AM a bit troubled by a few other aspects of the series that don't seem to be getting as much press.

I'm troubled that Edward is nearly 100 years old, and he's dating a 17 year old girl. So he looks 19 or so. He isn't. And he's condescending, controlling, melodramatic, and has some pretty solid stalker tendencies.

Ok... it's fiction... but still. This isn't really a love story. It's alleged to be a story about hope and love, but really it's a bit of an angsty celebration of dark and broken luuurve and how "nobody gets us" and we're special so we get to transcend and be creepily dark and brooding ever after but really we're all happy cuz it's luuurve.

Erm. K.

It wasn't my cup of tea, though I did think the world building and story were finely crafted. I felt the characters were a tad silly and very unrealistic as teenagers, even nearly-100-year-old teenagers. I was relieved to find many teens I respect agreeing with me. PHEW!

But if you love luurve stories with creepy vampy stuff, and if you love luurve stories with a bit of humor and some weird twists, and if you love a good bit of world building, I can recommend an alternative.

Have you discovered PC and Kristin Cast?

OMG you SO need to. I picked up Meyer and yeah... The Twilight Saga has its merits, but it's not my thing. What the Casts-- a mother daughter writing team and how cool is THAT?-- accomplish (at least in my view) is the world Meyer couldn't sell. In their House of Night Series we get teenagers who sound and act like teenagers, even those with unusual and often spectacular powers. One of the things I immediately liked about the series was the respect paid to Cherokee traditions (my dad is Cherokee) without exploiting them.

The Casts have done something fascinating with their vampire finishing school setting. When teens plucked from the main stream are Chosen to fulfill their destiny, they don't get a guarantee. Zoey Redbird enters this world and finds herself facing greater challenges as she discovers greater gifts. But at its simplest, this series is really a metaphor for adolescence itself-- vampyres have to make it through The Change. It comes without warning; those who survive become full fledged vamps, those who don't die in agony. This is really the secret crux of young adult fear and angst: we all want to grow up, but we all want to stay young forever, too. The tension between longing for freedoms and powers awaiting us in adulthood and wishing to cling to the safety and freedom from responsibility that is youth makes for a heady pull of opposites. There is freedom in lack of responsibility, too. But the ultimate freedom comes in embracing the fear and owning yourself, whatever hard choices may come.

I loved the first three House of Night books, and can't wait for the next (due out in September) for this, among many, reasons. But even if they weren't brilliantly crafted, they're smart and funny. That's one combination I can never resist.

It's all about choice in the end. Meyer certainly has many loyal readers, and I own her books, too. But lest we get caught up in the hype and criticism, remember there are other choices. Making them is the ultimate exercise in personal empowerment, and what young (or old) adult can't get into that?

Friday, August 08, 2008


The Summer Olympics start today...and so far all I've really felt is a lot of controversy. The smog, the banned athletes, the protests concerning Tibet, security issues--it just seems to have taken some of the steam away from how I remember the games being.

When I was a teenager, we got very excited about the Olympics. Very, very excited.
For one thing..I came of age during the Summer 1984 Games....and this is how I got there:

Thanks Bart.

Good Going Greg.

Peter you rock.

Mitch owned my soul.

But it wasn't just 1984. I remember in 1986, two brave men were training for the 1988 synchronized swimmers. This is the American spirit people.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Whole New Sisterhood

The second Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie opened yesterday. Anyone planning to go?

The second movie, which pretty much tells the story of the 4th book, focuses on the summer after freshman year of college, that awkward time when you're not sure how to fit together your high school relationships with your college ones.

OK, I admit it. I'm not a teenager anymore (shocking, huh?). But the Pants movies (and books) resonate just as much with me in my 30s as they would have in my teens. Maybe even more. It's all about female friendship. That's why I like "Sex in the City", too. I didn't watch it so much for the sex, but for the bonds that the ladies shared.

Boyfriends are great, but your girlfriends are forever.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Very Bad People

We all know there are very bad people out there in the world, but how often are we REALLY faced with it? I mean, I see stupid people all the time, but that doesn't necessarily make them bad. haha

Yesterday, I realized I had truly encountered a very bad person. See, I was balancing my checkbook by reviewing my statement online when I saw a bill for over $700 sent to paypal a couple of days ago.

Well, seeing as how I was in San Francisco at the time and would therefore NOT have done this, I was instantly suspicious. Sure enough, I logged into Paypal and saw that some butthole had hacked into my Paypal and used it (and thus, MY checking account) to buy a product off ebay.

I felt sick to my stomach. Violated. I mean, over $700 gone out of my account. Thankfully, I have some reserves I can tap into until that $$ is credited back to my checking account, but what if I hadn't? I have bills to pay, kids to feed...and even if I didn't, that's MY hard-earned money!

To the scumbag who stole my money: I am ashamed of you. You are a terrible person, and I know that karma comes back around, big time. When you hurt people like this, you can't get away with it for long. I've also taken every bit of strength and focus within me to put the biggest curse on you possible, so when bad things happen to you, you have me to thank. haha.

Will this scare me off using Paypal in the future? Honestly, I don't know. My instant reaction was to close my account. I still may do so, but I'm going to seriously evaluate my options. I hate having to operate out of fear like this, and I don't want to be rash.

To everyone reading this entry, make sure to change the passwords for your paypal/online accounts frequently (in fact, I think there's some sort of key option you can buy for extra security with paypal--I may be looking into it). Also, check your banking account frequently to ensure all charges are actually valid.

Please, protect yourself against very bad people!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Here's the YA RITA winner, Melissa Marr, and I right after the awards ceremony Saturday night. Note the pretty shiny gold lady! And yes, I am an amazon.

I had a chance to talk to her in person and was happy to find out she spends her working days in pajamas just like I do. She's very sweet and gracious in person. Melissa, if you're reading this, all the glum is gone! LOL

Monday, August 04, 2008

breaking records

The wait for the latest in the new TWILIGHT series is over...

And BREAKING DAWN is breaking records for its publisher.

The Hachette Book Group estimates 1.3 million copies were sold on Saturday after being released at 12:01 a.m. It was its largest first-day sales record. In anticipation of demand, an additional 500,000 copies were printed before publication, bringing the total to 3.7 million.
1.3 million copies of the SAME book were sold in 1 day.

Holy Royalties, Batman!

But, according to the article, those numbers can't even touch the first 24 hours of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS' sales.
Last July, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold 8.3 million books in its first 24 hours on sale

Excuse me while I daydream for a moment...

Okay, back now.

For me, the kind of breakout that both Rowling and Meyer have had, are simultaneously a dream come true and scary as hell.

We all dream of big sell throughs and multiple print runs. And yes, I'll admit, I've dreamed of midnight bookstore parties. But I'll be honest, the pressure that comes with that kind of success is just a bit frightening.

Not just the pressure from the publishing house and the fans. But the pressure that I would put on myself. It would not be pretty.

What do you think? Sure we all want to make it big, but are you worried that a huge success is a double-edge sword? Would you be afraid you would disappoint your fans, your publisher or, even worse, yourself? Would the pressure be too much for you, or would you deal just fine--after all, that's why they pay you the big bucks!

I'll tell you one thing...I'd like to find out for sure what my reaction would be... :D



Sunday, August 03, 2008


First of all, congratulations to Melissa Marr for last night's RITA win. After hearing from all the nominees, I know it was tough competition. And thanks again to all the nominees for taking the time to visit with us.

And the winner of our bag of books:

Please send an email with your name, age, and address to:

Thanks to everyone who participated in our contest. I hope you'll stop by again or add us to your RSS.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Interview with RITA Finalist Simone Elkeles

Simone Elkeles is an author of several young adult titles, including How to Ruin a Summer vacation, How to Ruin My Teenage Life, and this year's RITA finalist title Leaving Paradise.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name Simone comes from being named after my uncle who died in a war in Israel...his name was Shimon (pronounced Shee-moan) I was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago. I love my home state so much I graduated from the University of Illinois and got my Master’s Degree at Loyola University-Chicago. (can you tell I don’t get out much) I am a huge sports fan, and especially like watching the Chicago Bears play football. I love writing teen novels because I think the teenage years are the most fun. I have three young adult novels in print (How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, How to Ruin my Teenage Life, and Leaving Paradise) and Perfect Chemistry coming out in December. I talk to middle schools and high schools all the time, and really love hearing feedback from my fans, who are very dedicated. I love the fans!

2. How did you get the inspiration for your Rita-Nominated book?

A girl at the junior high school near my house stabbed a boy and went to the juvenile detention center. It just got me thinking about kids in jail and how it is for them when they’re released and have to go back to school with the person who was their victim. My story is totally different: Leaving Paradise is about a boy (not a girl) who was incarcerated and in the first chapter is being released and having to start senior year of high school and face the girl who he went to jail for hitting with a car in a hit-and-run drunk driving accident. He eventually falls in love with her, too. I went to the juvenile justice complex where I did research and the boys there read Leaving Paradise. I talked to them about the book for hours, and they had endless questions. They loved the book, too, and could definitely relate to my hero Caleb.

3. What authors do you read?

I read everything from Stephenie Meyer, David Levithan, Wendelyn Van Draanen, and of course my blog sisters books where I blog at For adult authors, I’m a huge fan of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie and Julia Quinn.

4. Who is your favorite character?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I love Amy Nelson-Barak in my How to Ruin series, because she’s so funny and does the most outrageous things. For my RITA nominated book, I’d say Mrs. Reynolds. She’s a cantankerous old lady who I love, and let me tell you that I have definitely known my share of cantankerous old ladies. (I plan to be one, one day.) I also love Maggie for her ability to never give up and Caleb for his sensitivity to Maggie and for falling in love with her despite her physical limitations.

5. What five things are always in your purse?

Credit cards, old receipts I have to throw away, my cell phone, lipstick, and a gun. Okay, so I don’t have a gun but I used to have mace until it got confiscated at an airport twenty years ago. Am I boring?

6. What music are you currently listening to?

Higher by Creed. Pretty much anything 80’s or alternative.

7. Tell us about your pets?

Oh, don’t make me start to cry. I had two dogs up until two months ago when my 17 year old German Shepherd passed away in my arms. I thought I was ready for her to go, because she was so old, but I was SOOOO not ready. I was a total mess, and remembered when I saved her at the shelter over 13 years ago. She was my first “baby.” When she took her last breath, she took a piece of me with her. I still have to bury her ashes, but am afraid my puppy will dig her up. (I’ve heard horror stories). I do have an adorable Labradoodle who is very sweet except to dogs with shmushed noses like Boxers and Pugs. I have no clue why, so don’t ask. I used to have fish, but they died. One committed “fishicide” and jumped out of the tank. One piece of advice: scan the area around a fish tank before you walk near it barefoot.

8. One item of makeup you can't live without.

Liquid eyeliner by L’oreal.

9. First thing you drink in the morning.

Milk. I know, some people hate it. I love milk. The colder, the better. Warm milk grosses me out.

10. Best/worst prom/high school memory.

Best high school memory: Senior prom with my boyfriend Andy. And let me tell you I’m not falling for it when my daughter says “a bunch of us are renting a hotel room for prom” I’ll chaperone the entire night!

Worst high school memory: Getting yelled at by Coach Adams for talking in Driver’s Ed when I didn’t even say anything. (my friend said he rubbed her neck when he sat beside her in the car on the school driving range- thank goodness I had the other coach as my range instructor!)

11. If you could go back in time and talk to the teenage you, what would you tell her?

Big hair is not attractive. And don’t have Chrissy Broderick pretend she’s you on the phone and break up with Ron. Be a big girl and break up with Ron yourself. And Andrew Fitz will be the cutest guy at the 20 year high school reunion, even if his goal in high school is to be Frodo from Lord of the Rings.

12. What are you working on next?

I am totally excited that my book PERFECT CHEMISTRY is coming out in December. It’s about a gang member who makes a bet to sleep with the rich cheerleader at school, but the bet turns into so much more. It’s very edgy, so it’s definitely for older teens who don’t mind reading a book filled with profanity, sex, and drugs. I’m also working on a four book series about high school football players. And I have a bunch of other ideas for books, and can’t wait to write them. The next few years will be very busy for me!

Visit Simone:

Fictionistas would like to thank Simone and all of our RITA finalists for joining us this week and giving us their time.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Interview with RITA finalist Maureen Johnson

>Maureen Johnson is the author of The Key to the Golden Firebird, The Bermudez Triangle, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Devilish, Girl At Sea, and Suite Scarlett. She earned her MFA in writing from Columbia University, where she also studied theatrical dramaturgy. Before she was published, Maureen had a number of jobs-including waitressing in a haunted house theme restaurant in New York, working with live tigers in Las Vegas, and being the token American employee at a comedy pub in London. Maureen lives in New York City, where she is part of the thriving YA community. She frequently reports on her exploits, both real and imaginary, at

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an author. I live in New York City. I love shiny objects.

2. How did you get the inspiration for your Rita-nominated book?

I had several major obsessions as a child—Pompeii and the Titanic being just two. I also love old musical comedies. When I sat down to write Girl At Sea, I had just watched It Happened One Night with Clark Gabel and Claudette Colbert—and I had this idea that I could combine the three things. I was obsessed with the scene of Claudette Colbert leaping off the boat at the start of the film, and ending up with a guy who thinks she’s spoiled. So I took that idea as a staring point and tried to make the first YA archeology comedy-romance. I think the genre will be huge.

3. What authors do you read?

All sorts. I’m useless at listing favorite writers.

4. Who is your favorite character?
Probably Bertie Wooster. Or Auntie Mame.

5. What five things are always in your purse?

My wallet, iPhone, keys, a small notebook, and a lip gloss. My purse is pretty boring, now that I think of it. I should start carrying brass knuckles or a severed finger or something.

6. What music are you currently listening to?

Let’s see . . . there’s always a lot of Abba, David Bowie, Aimee Mann, Grant Lee Phillips, Spoon, Super Furry Animals, and Roxy Music. At this exact second, it’s a combination of The Go! Team, Phantom Planet, and Justice with old Berlin cabaret songs mixed in. I have no idea what this says about me.

7. Tell us about your pets.

I wish I had pets, but I don’t. I live in the city and travel too often for that to be practical. Eventually, I will have about six dozen different animals.

8. One item of makeup you can't live without.

I wear foundation every day, since I was probably twelve. I just use nicer, lighter stuff than I did then—mineral makeup. Mineral makeup is genius.

9. First thing you drink in the morning.

It used to be eight cups of coffee, but now it’s just a cup or two of tea.

10. Best/worst prom/high school memory.

Well, I went to school in a convent—to an all-girls Catholic prep school. Which is kind of weird, considering that I’m not Catholic. So my high school experience was marked by a massive absence of boys, a lot of nuns, and a lot of rules I didn’t quite get. All in all, though, it wasn’t a bad time. I made a lot of good friends.

But my best friend and I did get stuck in traffic on the way to the prom, and the nuns who ran it were very, very serious about timeliness, and threatened to hold our diplomas if we were late, or left early, or did anything wrong like show up in a sleeveless dress. So when we got stuck six blocks away, my friend and I RAN in our dresses and heels to try to make it on time. We were two minutes late, and we had to face twenty-five nuns in a reception line. The reception area was mirrored, so it looked like that final scene in Star Wars where it looks like there are thousands of . . . whoever it is in the final scene of Star Wars. Basically, it looked like we were getting yelled at by two thousand nuns who were never going to let us graduate, even though we ran six city blocks in formalwear. They did, of course . . . but we BELIEVED they wouldn’t.

High school was weird like that.

11. If you could go back in time and talk to the teenage you, what would you tell her?

I would tell her to be more confident. I think I thought I was being very confident, but I think a lot of girls cut themselves down in ways they don’t even know.

12. What are you working on next?

I’m writing the sequel to my newest book, Suite Scarlett. The new book is called Scarlett Fever. My goal is to get it done in time to get to the opening of the Abba Museum in Stockholm.

The Girl: Clio Ford, seventeen, wants to spend the summer smooching her art-store crush, not stuck on a boat in the Mediterranean. At least she'll get a killer tan.

The Mission: Survive her father's crazy antics. Oh, and also find some missing underwater treasure that could unlock the secrets of civilization.

The Crew: Dad's wacky best friend Martin, his bizarre research partner Julia, her voluptuous daughter Elsa . . . and then there's Aidan, Julia's incredibly attractive, incredibly arrogant assistant. What's going on behind Aidan's intellectual, intensely green eyes,anyway?

As Clio sails into uncharted territory she unveils secrets that have the power to change history. But her most surprising discovery is that there's something deeper and more cryptic than the sea-her own heart.