Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon

You ever hear that phrase? "Once in a blue moon"

It means something rare. And today is one.

A blue moon is the second full moon in a month. Most years have twelve full moons, occur roughly monthly. But each solar calendar year contains an excess of roughly eleven days compared to the lunar year. the extra days accumulate, and every 2 or 3 years, we end up with a thirteenth full moon.

And this year, the Blue Moon happens to be on New Year's Eve, which is even rarer. The next time we'll see this is in 2028.

Happy New Year's everyone! Hope you have cool plans to coincide with the Blue Moon.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Miss Manners?

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post earlier today--things have been crazy. So we're going to keep it simple. Pretend you're Miss (or Mr.) Manners. You have a bone to pick, and a public forum in which to pick it (uh, that sounds weirder than I meant it, LOL). What one sage piece of advice would you like to throw out there?

For me, it would be for people please, PLEASE chew with their mouths closed. Seriously. I don't want to play the seafood thing, blech.

What manner-related thing bugs you that you'd like to call out right now?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


This is the time of year I start to think about my goals for the coming year. They don't change all that much, there is always at least one goal that includes finishing a book or two, always a goal that has to do with reading a certain number of books.

This year, however, my goals are shifting a little in their focus because this year brings me closer to the publication of my first traditionally published book with Orbit Books, Blood Rights. (It's not a YA, but I think those that like vampires would enjoy it and find it appropriate.)

Now my goals are going to include things like sussing out the best cons to go to - FantasyCon? WorldCon? ComicCon? - and making decisions about which ones I'll attend. It will also include the goal of finalizing my decision about whether or not to use a publicist and if so, which one to chose.

Regardless of these changes, my goals will be made. A year without goals has no focus and without focus, I run the risk of meandering through the days with no real purpose. Goals. Are. Important. I can't stress that enough.

One last thought - goals and dreams are two very different things. Writing a book in a year is a goal. Getting that book published is a dream. Why? Because you can control the writing, but you can't control whether or not an editor likes your work and wants to buy it. Goals are things you can influence, dreams are things that require the influence of someone else.

So. What are some of your goals for 2010? Have you set goals in the past or not? Will you be setting goals this year?

Monday, December 28, 2009

holiday traditions

Every year, we try to catch a couple of movies over the Christmas holiday. (Like most everyone else, it seems...) This year, I saw IT'S COMPLICATED Christmas night with a girlfriend and then the family went to see SHERLOCK HOLMES over the weekend.

Both movies were fun and I would highly recommend seeing them. The kids saw AVATAR as well and they've been dying to take me to see it ever since.

Do you do holiday movies? What movies did you see this year?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Feed the World

Merry Christmas from the Fictionistas. This song was a big part of my young adulthood. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse (which isn't much smaller than my baby daughter, by the way).

Not a creature was stirring, except for me, of course. As a new mom, I'm paranoid to sleep. It's 5 am and I'm on the night shift. Mr. Brice watched the baby and did some work from 8:30 pm to 2 am while I slept. Now it's my turn.

I can't believe it's actually Christmas Eve. CRAZINESS! Seriously, where did this month go? Oh wait...I know exactly where it went. Sadly, Mr. Brice's grandma passed away the day after Thanksgiving, so we went out of town for the funeral the first weekend of December, which meant a long car trip down to Tennessee.

Then when we got back, it was off to work the first two days of the week like normal. But what came after that was anything but normal.

I left work that Tuesday afternoon (December 8) around 4 pm so that I could meet my friend (and frequent Fictionista blog reader) Jennifer up at the Capitol Building. She was visiting from Atlanta, and was staying with her cousin, and even though being 8 months pregnant was keeping me from doing all the sightseeing and whatnot with her that I would have liked, I had tickets for the Capitol Tree Lighting Reception at the Botanic Gardens after the lighting, so we met up for that.

I was feeling completely fine. I ran into smoe people I knew and they asked me how I was feeling, and so of course I gave the standard throwaway answers that any 8-month preggers lady gives:
"I feel like I'm about to pop any second"
"I'm so ready to not be pregnant anymore."

Which wasn't exactly true. I didn't literally mean I was about to pop, and I had way too many things still to do to get ready for the baby first. But, well, those answers are pretty much expected. I don't know. Whatever.

Except, it ended up being true. When I got home from the reception, I went with Mr. Brice to walk the dog, then I sat down to get some writing done. Did significantly more writing in one session than I'd done in months. I was feeling pretty good about myself, when all of a sudden it hit me that I hadn't felt the baby move in hours.

I drank some juice and laid down. Several hours later, at about 3 am, I got up to walk around, drank some more juice, ate some string cheese, and came back to bed. In tears. Because I couldn't feel anything.

Mr. Brice told me it was time for me to call the hospital. The midwife on call told me to come in for observation.

I was admitted around 4 am, and they immediately got a heartbeat. Yay! What a relief. I figured they would send me home with the typical giggles they reserve for any other clueless first time mom who panics over the slightest thing.

They ended up sending me home 4 days later, and lo and behold, I was no longer pregnant. My baby, who was 5 1/2 weeks premature had to stay behind in the NICU.

But Merry Christmas to me! Baby Amber came home yesterday!!!!!!!! Santa brought us a very special early Christmas present this year.

It's our first Christmas as a little family, and I couldn't be more thrilled. so my wish for all our readers is that you and your family have as joyous a holiday season as I am.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stupid Cupid is out in the wild!

So, my brain is totally fried because the first book in my teen trilogy, STUPID CUPID, released yesterday. YAY!! :D That means this post will be short and sweet, LOL.

I'm really excited--people have sent me pictures of my book on the store shelves and of them holding a newly purchased copy. It's amazing, having all this support and love. It's overwhelming and humbling and just...LOL I'm actually at a loss for words. It's just incredible.

Anyway, happy holidays, everyone! And thank you all so much for the generosity and kindness. ((hugs)) If you're interested in buying a copy of STUPID CUPID, check out your local bookstore (Walmart is carrying copies too!). Or, order it online at one of the links below:

Barnes & Noble

Thanks so much! *MWAH* And a special shout-out to my awesome fellow Fictionistas--Chrissy, Mel, Kristen, Amanda, and Gwen. They have been so, so awesome and supportive of me. Love you guys!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Lolcats

Over at my blog, I'm doing a few days of Christmas Lolcats. They totally crack me up! Here's today's:

funny pictures of cats with captions

Monday, December 21, 2009

do you hear what I hear?


Yeah, that's about what I expect to hear tonight when I give my first ever author talk at the Benton Library.

The good news is, if I bomb, I get a chance to make it all better tomorrow at the Bryant Library!

I guess it's not really my "first" talk because a few weeks ago I met with 35 members of the Bryant High School reading club and I spoke to those guys. But they made it easy because they asked questions and all I had to do was sparkle.

What if nobody asks me anything tonight?

What if I lose my sparkle?

Tell me what you think I should talk about that will engage a crowd mixed with kids and adults. What would you want to hear that would keep you interested and maybe even inspire you to ask a question?

BTW, I can't believe Christmas is just a few days away. Happy Holidays to all my 'Nistas and all our friends in the interwebs. Thanks to all of our readers...we feel very blessed to have you guys in our virtual lives.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Means... MOVIES!

The holidays are great for family and lovely, indulgent meals. But I'm one of those weirdos who sometimes goes to the movies. In fact, Ahmed and I often spend Christmas morning buried up in a movie theater for a triple play. I used to be a reviewer... but I will always be a movie nut, either way.

So December 23rd I am lining up to get my copy of Stupid Cupid. Reading it that night. Doing family stuff on the 24th. But I plan to be in a movie theater on the 25th.

These are the flicks singing a siren song to me.

Avatar-- I've actually been saying for a while that this movie will either completely kick butt or be a total flop. Early buzz is astonishing. Every tiny sneak peak I have seen has taken my breath away. I'm not somebody who gets suckered in by special effects, but the story here is deeply intriguing, and James Cameron often gets it right. So yeah... I'll eventually get around to seeing this on the big screen.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel-- Shut up. I know nobody liked the first one, but I loved it. I still listen to the soundtrack. Actually, I prefer the 'Monk version of Bad Day... also their Funky Town is quite good. This will probably be a nephew trip, so maybe not Christmas Day. Definitely going, though.

Nine-- Daniel Day Lewis is enough to get me in the door, but musical montages are a big lure, too. It's like a darker, more contemporary Moulin Rouge, only not. I like Rob Marshall and most of this cast... and the ones I don't care for (remaining nameless)... well, I still want to see them sing and dance. How can I not?

But the biggie? The grand-daddy of them all? The movie absolutely, definitely getting me off the couch and into the ticket line on Christmas Day?

Sherlock Holmes-- The new version of Sherlock Holmes featuring the red-hot-adorable-duo of Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. Granted, it's directed by Guy Ritchie. But he dumped Madonna, so who knows? And the tone-- very slapstick with a British wink, bordering on steampunk-- has already got me drooling in anticipation. It's a sure-fire win. Gotta be there.

Any movies on your radar??

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holihayes

I'm so cheating.

I'm reposting a blog post from my personal blog. Sshhhh. Don't tell the other 'Nistas. But it's a really happy post, so I'm hoping they'll notice.


One of the hardest parts of my chosen career is rejection. Seriously, it's everywhere and you have to learn how to deal with it without letting it crush your spirit or you will stop submitting. And then you'll never get your contract and you will also have a crushed spirit. Sort of a lose/lose scenario that.

So, I wrote wrote wrote and then queried queried queried. I got a lot of "No thank yous". I got a lot of unanswered emails too. Neither felt good, but I kept reminding myself that it wasn't personal. I just had to find the agent that was mine.

And when I met her, she tornado-ed through my life and manuscript (in a good way )and--in less than three months--she matched me to a sale. A two-book sale. With Penguin Books. No,really. WE SOLD FALLING UNDER!

I've had to sit on my news for almost a week. It darn near killed me. I'm so excited. My editor, the amazing Anne Sowards, is lovely. I can't wait for revisions--I'm sure she'll remind me I said that when I get them.

It looks like we'll release my debut YA in the Spring/Summer of 2011. Can you believe it? I know I have my friends and family to thank. Well, and Jessica Sinsheimer, of course. Thank you for keeping my spirit in tact. Thank you, also, to the many wonderful agents and editors I've come across during my quest. Even though you weren't "mine", I've learned so much from your Tweets, blogs, workshops, and yes--even your rejections.

Happy Holihayes everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted

OK, I'm posting this up in November, so I honestly don't know what day I had the baby. (Edited by Rhonda--as you know, she had the baby last week. YAY!)

Anyway, I'm on "maternity leave" from Fictionistas, as you probably know by now, so please welcome the fabulous Lauren Baratz-Logsted, multi-published author of books for adults, teens, and kids.

AB: Welcome, Lauren, and thanks for doing this interview.

LBL: I'm just happy if I can help out. Congratulations!

AB: Thanks! So, tell us something about yourself.

LBL: Hmm, that's rather a vague question... I'm short, I like to shoot pool, and I spend most of my life either writing or reading. Do I sound interesting yet?

AB: LOL. Tell us about CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, your most recent YA release.

LBL: The YA novel CRAZY BEAUTIFUL is a contemporary re-visioning of Beauty & the Beast, told in he-said/she-said fashion, about a boy with hooks for hands and a gorgeous girl who meet on their first day at a new school.

AB: How did you get the inspiration for it?

LBL: I'd just seen Beauty & the Beast on Broadway and I got to thinking about how of all the Disney-fied fairy tales it's the one that translates best to stage and screen. I wondered why that should be and decided it's because it's the only one where the male is more than mere window dressing, there to make the female look good. So I set out to tell my own story about a male who, like the Beast, is the architect of his own tragic condition and is now in need of redemption.

AB: Sounds cool. And now that I'm keeping crazy hours with a newborn, I'm on the search for new material for my to-be-read pile. I'll be sure to add it! What authors do you read?

LBL: So many! It's easier to talk about some of my favorite books of the past year. Favorite adult literary fiction: LITTLE BEE, Chris Cleave. Favorite commercial adult fiction: THE CASTAWAYS, Elin Hilderbrand. Favorite YA fiction: FREEZE FRAME, Heidi Ayarbe.

AB: Who is your favorite character (from your own books or any other books out there)?

LBL: It's impossible to pick just one. I've always loved Phineas from A SEPARATE PIECE, Gatsby from that book with his name in the title, Jane Eyre from you-know-what. If I had to pick a favorite from my own books, right now it'd probably be Lucius Wolfe from CRAZY BEAUTIFUL.

AB: What five things are always in your purse?

LBL: Wallet, keys, bank slips (I never remember to throw them out), movie stubs (I usually go with my daughter and can't bear to throw them out - they're memories!), lipstick (my lips get so chapped in the winter, I'd look like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" if I didn't occasionally remember to slap some on).

AB: What music are you currently listening to?

LBL: None. It's earlly in the morning and I live in a condo. My neighbors would hate me if I started blaring music right now.

AB: Tell us about your pets (if any).

LBL: Awwww! One item of makeup you can't live without.

LBL: See last item in answer to question 6. No, wait a second! Eyebrow pencil! Without eyebrow pencil I'd have no eyebrows which would be even worse than having lips like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist."

AB: Worst high school memory.

LBL: Oh, you're not going to trap me with *that* one!

AB: If you could go back in time and take to TeenLauren, what would you tell her?

LBL: Finally! An easy question! I'd tell mini-me: "Don't hurry Time. Don't always be rushing to grow older so you can hit the next landmark: driver's license, legal drinking etc. Enjoy where you are now and be present in the moment. You'll be old soon enough."

AB: What are you working on next?

LBL: THE EDUCATION OF BET is my next YA novel, due out next July. This one's set in Victorian England and is about a 16-year-old girl who impersonates a boy in order to get a proper education. Oh, and the fifth volume in THE SISTERS 8 series for young readers, which I created with my novelist husband Greg Logsted and our nine-year-old daughter Jackie, is due out in the spring. The new one's called MARCIA'S MADNESS.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Okay, I don't like breakfast food...

Right now, I'm eating leftover Chinese food for breakfast. OMG it's so good.

Yanno, I never was much of a breakfast eater, which I'm sure my family always thought weird--when we'd go to someplace like Denny's, everyone else would order eggs, biscuits, sausage, the works. Whereas I, on the other hand, would typically get a cheeseburger or chicken sandwich with fries. I alone in my unusual habits? Are you a big brekkies fan, or is it leftover Chinese food for you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Christmas decoration ever!

Apparently, this set up only lasted a few days because too many people didn't get that the hanging man was a fake. I think it's a riot!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mel's Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I know what you're thinking, but I can explain. I really wasn't bad this year, just misunderstood. The good intentions were there, so that counts for something....right? (Please ignore any and all clich├ęs about good intentions and the road to hell. Thanks.)

First of all, I only missed one deadline this year and that really wasn't my fault. I mean, it technically was my fault because I didn't reset the auto save option after we had my computer rebuilt, but in my defense I didn't know I hadn't reset it. So when I lost 3 weeks worth of revisions, I was devastated. Still, despite the odds, I was only a week late. AND I think I should get major points for redoing my revisions in that short amount of time--while I was working and pretending to be a mother.

Okay, speaking of pretending to be a mother--that's just me being funny. I'm really not "pretending" most of the time.

And no matter what my friends tell you, I swear I didn't cheat on that dart game.

I may have overindulged on wine once or twice this year...but that's hardly my fault if someone else keeps refilling my glass!

I'm really looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks. I have planned to make my peppermint mocha brownies a little extra gooey--just the way you like them! So please bring me my iPhone docking station, my iTunes gift card, and that winning lottery ticket just like I asked for.

Love you. Mean it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bundle Up, Buttercup!

Well winter finally showed up. Communities all around me have had snow, but as is usually the case, here on the harbor we just got lots of ice and freezing temps. Usually we get nothing when everyone else gets snow or snow when everyone else gets nothing. They call it The Harbor Effect. I call it a pain in the bum.

But I do sleep better in the cold. Something about being surrounded by chill and ice while I am snuggled in beneath a quilt makes me happy, cozy, and content. I sleep very soundly and am reluctant to leave my cuddly den. The lads-- Ahmed, Max, and Jeeves-- are compulsive snugglers in the cold weather. I more of less vanish completely. See that lump made of fur, arms, and pillows over there? That would be me. It's great. The vibration of the snoring acts like a Shiatsu massage.

I also hate bundling up when I leave the house, but I have to. Ahmed will actually grab me by the back of my jacket, haul me back, and wrap a scarf around my neck. So I've tried to make a habit of wearing scarves, and it's a good idea. Keeps me toasty and healthy. I don't feel the cold the way most people do, but it can still hurt me. So I probably have more scarves than ten normal people. At this point I may count as a collector. I also have some nice coats with hoods. I hate hats unless they are baseball caps. Woolen hats drive me nuts.

Gloves on the bitter cold days, too. I don't like them and try to avoid them. I've always had a weird thing about my hands being covered or hidden. No likey. If I am forced to make a choice I'll go gloves rather than mittens... at least I can see my finger-shapes in gloves and they don't slide all over the place. I think mittens look cute but they make me feel completely handicapped. And I have long, skinny fingers (unlike the rest of me). Most gloves create a sort of webbing effect on me, refusing to tuck up tight between my fingers. Annoying. Warm, but annoying.

But winter is here, so I will be bundling. How about you? Mittens or gloves? Hats or hoods? Scarves or snoods?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guest Post from Michelle Rowen

Hey everyone! There are only a couple of days left to enter Michelle Rowen's short story I told her we'd put her up on the 'Nistas. It's a great way to stretch your writing wings with a fun, short paranormal holiday story. Have a good time and don't forget to tell her Gwen sent you.

O COME ALL YE FANGFUL Short Story Contest

fangfulLooking for something to do after Nanowrimo’s done? Want to quit Nano and focus on something with real prizes? Well…here it is!!

It’s become very important to me to give back to the fiction-writing community and encourage other writers. Therefore I think it would be BIG FUN to have a short story contest!

I know that a lot of people who read this blog, follow me on Twitter, or are my Facebook friends (as well as other social networks) are aspiring writers. Well, get yer hands on yer keyboards for my….

1st Annual O COME ALL YE FANGFUL* Short Story Contest


  • First Prize: $50** Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble gift card
  • Second Prize: $30 Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble gift card
  • Third Prize: $20 Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble gift card


  • This contest is open to all writers, published or unpublished, anywhere in the world
  • Stories must be 1000 words or less in length
  • Only one story per entrant
  • Entry must be in English (the only language I’m fluent in, alas)
  • No fanfic, original stories only please
  • Stories must have a holiday theme — Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, etc. — make it festive! (even if it’s just a smidge)
  • Stories must have a paranormal or fantasy element (ie: vampires or werewolves opening up their gifts on Christmas morning. Ugh, don’t use that, but you get the idea)
  • All authors retain all rights to their work, but agree to allow me to post the top three stories on my blog for public viewing
  • Entering this contest does not include a critique of your writing, advice on how to get published, or a recommendation to my agent/publisher. (you’d be surprised by what I’m asked for sometimes)

  • December 15, 2009 at Midnight EST, no exceptions
  • Copy and paste your story into the body of your email (no attachments please) or send me a link to where I can read it on your blog or website
  • Send the story or link to me at with the subject line: “O COME ALL YE FANGFUL
  • Entrants will be contacted by email to confirm receipt. If you don’t hear back from me within 48 hours of sending, I didn’t get it. Please send again!
  • Entries will be judged by yours truly, Michelle Rowen
  • Winners contacted by email on Sunday, December 20th to claim their prize
  • The top three stories will be posted here on my blog on December 22nd-24th (one per day starting with the third place winner) for all to enjoy
I look forward to reading your entries!

Happy writing!


*thanks to Richelle Mead for suggesting the contest title

**Gift cards will be delivered by email and purchased in US dollars

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We have a new Fictionista...

Her name is Amber. She's a tiny little thing--4 pounds, 5 ounces and 17 inches long. She was born at 10:57 pm last night by our very own Amanda Brice!!

Amanda's obviously unable to post today, LOL, so the rest of us Fictionistas wanted to give a huuuuuge congrats to the entire Brice family. We can't wait to see pictures of the baby! (hint hint, LOL)


Everyone, please welcome our newest Fictionista and give lots of love to her brand-new mommy. Thanks!!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Obsess Much?

So, I've recently figured out something about myself: I'm kind of obsessive. Not in a if-I-can't-have-you-nobody-will kind of way. No, I mean that when I find something I like, I tend to latch on to it and find as many other things like it as possible.

Case in point:

--if I find shoes, shirts, jeans, sweaters, or other articles of clothing I love, I will buy multiple colors of it.

--if I find an author I love, I feel a strong compulsion to read everything that person has written (which I suppose is a great way to support that author, LOL).

--if I like an actor or director, I want to watch every film of theirs to see their range of skills and how I personally rank the movies in comparison to each other.

--when I find a TV series I'm into, I'll get it on DVD and watch several episodes in a row...I like getting into the narrative without having commercial interruptions.

--if there's a song I dig, I'll listen to it over, and over, and over, and over again. And when I'm burnt out on that song, I'll find another song (preferably by the same musician) to listen to over, and over, and over again...

I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it's a sort of comfort in the familiar, but still finding a way to explore something new within what I kind of already know.

Do you do this? Are there any authors, or actors, or directors, or musicians who you find are auto-buys for you? If you find clothes or shoes you like, do you run out and get the same ones in different colors? Am I simply alone in my neuroticism? hahaha. Do share!!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Entertain yourselves

I'm heading out to finish up my Christmas shopping today with a friend. It's an annual tradition and I wouldn't miss it for the world. While I'm gone, try your hand at Reindeer Roundup. I suck at it, but that doesn't stop me from playing! And hey, where else do you get to shoot blow darts at reindeer?

Have fun! Play Game.

Monday, December 07, 2009

inquring minds want to know...

WHY are the Zhu Zhu pet hamsters THE MUST HAVE GIFT of the season? Can someone please explain their appeal to me? If not, can you explain their purpose?

Sometimes I'm glad I have teens...because I GET why they want video games, computers, cell phones, music and gift cards. I don't get fake hamsters.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

December Reading

It's December, so I have decreed that it is now ok to discuss holiday stuff. One of my favorite things to do at this time of year is read old Christmas favorites as I gear up for Yule. These books are always on my December reading list.

Chris Moore's The Stupidest Angel is one of the funniest, most ridiculous, and yet most delightful books you'll ever read. Moore is a favorite of mine, though not always an auto-buy. I'd say 85% of his stuff is genius. The rest is sort of... all over the map. But The Stupidest Angel is just an absolute romp... yes, I said ROMP. Trust me. You don't often get angels, dead-zombie-Santas, and labradors packaged quite like this.

My absolute favorite author of all time is Terry Pratchett. Hogfather is a brilliant look at the origins of Christmas and/or Yule. It challenges our notions of belief while, in typical Pratchett style, reinforcing them at the same time. If you have never read Pratchett's Discworld novels you may get a teenie bit lost, but it is more likely to hold up as a single read than most of the others. One of my all time favorites.

If classics are your game, there isn't anything more Yuletidey Yummy than Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I think most women who write are all secretly channeling Jo, one of the first role models for us. It is a beautiful novel for almost all ages... and can touch even the coldest heart. Hey, Joey Tribiani had to put it in the freezer!

So those are my favorites. What books do you reach for at this time of year? Dickens? Or something I may not know and want to add to my own list?

Friday, December 04, 2009


So, I've talked about my love for Frankenteen

and my adoration for Frankenstein

so I thought, what the heck...let's talk about Frankincense.

Mostly, because it's Christmas time and The Wise Men thought it was good enough to bring to Baby Jesus but I really didn't know what the heck it was.

It's up...dried tree sap.From a Boswellia tree. (Myrrh is dried sap too, woot!) They use it to make incense and some cultures use it for medicinal purposes--though I think if I get leprosy I'd rather take my chances with traditional Western medicine.

And now, you know what I know. Aren't you glad?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

What Books are Exactly Like...?

Amanda had to go out of town for a funeral, and is also taking it easy and resting up for her little one's big arrival, so teen librarian Amy Alessio was nice enough to step in and guest blog for us today!

If you're looking for some gift ideas for the bookworms on your holiday shopping lists, pay attention to her tips!


What books are exactly like _______?

This is the question I am asked most often by teens and adults alike in my work as a Readers Advisory Librarian. My real title is Teen Coordinator, and I get to run tons of fun programs, but I also work at the Readers’ Desk – a dream job where I talk to people about books all night long.

When busy folks like teens find a book they love – they want to find more! So where can they go to find more? The term ‘readalike’ in a search engine is usually a good way to go for a lesser known book or author. For example: Twilight readalikes. It will pull up a list from another library that may include your favorite. But for popular books or series like the Twilight books or the Cirque Du Freak series – here are some libraries with tons of good ‘readalike’ lists:

Allen County Public Library in Indiana has readalike lists for Twilight, A Child Called It – and many more!¶m=Readalikes

Long Beach Public Library in California has Alex Rider readlikes and many more also!

But there are mega teen reading sites to check out also. These have newsletters teens can subscribe to if they are interested. ( is part of the Book Report Network which has book review sites on Graphic Novels (, Christian Fiction, Adult and Kids Reading. They review the latest books and series – often with author interviews, publish surveys every month so you can see what other teens like to read, and much more.

Reading Rants ( has librarian reviews as well as room for teen comments on many popular teen books. ( is another fun teen review site with lots of new books all the time.

The Young Adult Library Services Association compiles lists each year of award winning teen titles, Quick Books for Reluctant Readers, Great Graphic Novels, Nonfiction Award titles, Teens’ Top Ten and more – even lists of audiobooks and books by topics. Go to the main site for YALSA and click on Book Awards and Selection Lists. There is something for every reading interest there.

So where can you go if you want to find out what to read next? First, I’d ask a librarian – we love those type of questions and have often read many of the teen titles. But if you are at home searching – try these sites to get your reading fix – fast.

Amy Alessio ( is the Teen Coordinator for the Schaumburg Twp. Dist. Library in IL where she has enjoyed the constant advice of her teen groups for over ten years. She reviews teen books for and Crimespree magazine. She is always looking for readlikes for the Blue Bloods series or the Margaret Haddix suspense books or new teen mysteries…

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Unexpected gifts!

I'm as giddy as a little schoolgirl right now. I just recalculated my vacation time and found I had an extra 10 hours I hadn't planned on. YAY! I have no idea yet how I'm going to spend my time--maybe take off early a couple of days at the end of the year or something? WOO HOO!

Don't you love when that happens? Like when you find extra cash in your purse? Or hey, there are still two Oreos left in the package, just for moi! Or OMG, I actually have enough change in my pocket to buy that Dr. Pepper I want so desperately, I can practically taste it (um, yeah, that's happened to me, haha...).

So, when's the last time you had an unexpected gift happen to you? Tell me about it!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Right Gift

I love to shop - I think that comes as a surprise to no one. But Christmas shopping is a little different. Mostly because it's not for me, it's for someone else and while I know (obviously) what I like, I agonize over whether or not the recipient of my gift will think it's as grand as I do. And certain people on my list are way harder to shop for than others. Like my husband.

Although, this year, I nailed it. I just know I've gotten it right with this thing I bought for my husband. I won't tell you what it is because he is sly and cunning and mentioning the thing by name is just asking for trouble. Having said that, it is perfect for him. I just hope he doesn't buy one for himself before Christmas gets here.

Who's your hardest person to shop for?

Monday, November 30, 2009

copping out

Okay, so I'm in a rush this morning and really didn't have much of a blog topic ready so instead of posting a youtube video like I usually do when I'm unprepared, I'm posting a blog I had on my website over the weekend.

Because frankly, I'm still kind over the moon about it. Sorry if you've read this a hundred-million times.

I almost watched 20/20 Friday night because they were featuring 'Real-Life Vampires' and then thought..."Seriously, what are the odds they'll feature my book cover for this story?" Apparently I should also buy a lottery ticket because the odds were 100%!! You'll have to sit through a commercial once the video loads but at -6:34 on the timer, you'll see my beautiful cover with my name front and center!

Inside the World of Real-Life Vampires

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I was trying very hard to be a good girl this year, but I'm wearing down as the holiday grows near. So I know I said all I really wanted was world peace, but I think you'll agree I'm a good girl-- okay, technically I'm a good girl. And it is Yule and all... or will be soon.

So can I ammend my wish-list? Erm... with jut a few items. Also the world peace cra-- err-- thing. Yeah, definitely that, too.

K... here goes.

1. A DROID. I KNOW-- I have two cell phones, but I'll give the blue one back.

2. Miss Dior Cherie, by Christian Dior. I KNOW-- I already have a lot of perfume. But it's yummy and delicious.

3. A Singapura cat. I KNOW-- I only do rescues. But I saw it on animal planet, and my need-- it burns. They are the smallest of all cat breeds, are virtually maintenance free in the brushing department, and have personalities that stay kitten-like throughout their lives. How can I not insist upon one under the tree? I mean... come ON... look at that face!!

4. The world peace thing.

5. Um, have you heard about the cheesecake of the month club? I KNOW...
Know what? I really need to quit while I'm behind. Love you, Santa... mean it!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

I'm still full.

Happy Black Friday!
I hope you all had a wonderful day with family and friends yesterday,and I hope those of you who brave the crowds today come back with treasures.


I plan in knitting, watching movies, reading a book, and maybe playing Sims 2. And eating.

Maybe I'll even open my own book and put some words down, but frankly, I'm not sure I have it in me. I tried to write while the turkey was roasting yesterday and couldn't remember the main character's name. I'm halfway through the book, it's not like I just started the story.

So, I've given myself a four day holiday to just enjoy all the things I work so hard for.

How about you?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fave Thanksgiving Traditions

It's nearly 2 pm as I write this. (Sorry, I got a slow start today.) The turkey is being heated in the oven. Just need to heat up the sides soon. I'll probably start in a minute or so.

Mr. Brice is putting together our baby's dresser/changing table so we can start washing baby clothes and put them away. (Right now our living room is overrun with bags and boxes of baby gifts because my friends here in DC threw me a baby shower on, I feel so honored with the overwhelming generosity. Amazing! And I'm so very, very thankful.)

Anyway, I'm banging away at the keyboard, trying to get some revisions done while Thanksgiving dinner cooks.

This morning I've been engaged in some of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions, such as watching the Macy's Parade and the National Dog Show. I *love* the dog show!!! It's asbsolutely one of my favorite traditions.

Just seeing all those dogs is so fun. They're so sweet. My little Bailey is so intrigued watching them. My only complaint is that it's only purebred pedigreed dogs. OK, fine, those are nice. But give me a shelter mutt any day.

As far as I'm concerned, the Chow Lab should be an official breed eligible for the Dog Show. Of course, Bailey is pretty enough to be a show doggie, but he's DEFINITELY not well-behaved enough. LOL!

Anyway, a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving to you and your family and friends.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas Burnout!

I was gonna post about Thanksgiving since it's tomorrow, but I decided to mix things up a bit and talk about what's on my mind right now. And that's Christmas Oversaturation, which has been getting increasingly worse every year. Signs of Christmas Oversaturation include:

--holiday items in the store on October 1 (or sometimes earlier)
--Christmas CDs put out by every freaking artist ever known to mankind
--bombardment of Christmas music on the radio right after Halloween

As you can tell from my tone, haha, I'm super tired of Christmas being shoved down our throats so freaking early in the year. Whatever happened to enjoying fall, and Thanksgiving (hah, see, I did tie it in!), and then moving into Christmas? Why is 1 month of celebration before Christmas not enough anymore?

Now, don't get me wrong--I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I think it's magical, and I adore that this is truly a season for giving and sharing and caring about others. But the commercialism and oversaturation of the season is just too much for me to handle anymore.

I don't know about you guys, but by the time Christmas actually arrives, I'm totally suffering from Christmas Burnout. Symptoms include:

--avoiding all Christmas aisles in stores (which is increasingly hard to do)
--writing snarky blog posts (hahahaha)
--not wanting to hear any new Christmas CDs (I'll stick to the classics, thanks)
--turning the station away from Christmas music (I don't want 24-hour Christmas songs!)

So, am I Uncle Scrooge here, or do you feel the same way too? Do you too suffer from Christmas Burnout, or do you dig getting started on the holiday celebration as early as possible? Share!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Black Friday

Black Friday seems to be one of those days that people either fully embrace or shy away from like a disease. Personally, I love to shop but the idea of getting up at 4 AM so I can be in line somewhere for a $3 toaster by 5 AM smacks of crazy.

That's not to say I might not go shopping on this day, I'm just not one of the people who show up before the sun.

In fact, I think my mom and I are planning on doing some shopping at one of the local retail villages. I'm thinking it should be pretty quiet as the stores are all boutiques and none of them are selling 97" TV's for $398.

Are you going shopping on Black Friday? Do you get up with early birds?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mel Francis: The 10 things I try not to take for granted

We celebrate Thanksgiving here in America this week. All over Facebook and the blogosphere people are posting the things they're thankful for like family, job, friends, kids, spouse, etc. And while I agree that those are important things to be thankful for, I also think they can go without saying. Because seriously, if we have a job (whether we like it or not) we're thankful for it in this economy. Even if our families are totally tool sheds, there is at least one person in our family that we're thankful for. And would we even have friends if we didn't appreciate them? Exactly.

So here's my list of 10 things that I take for granted but am truly thankful I have in my life:
  1. Music: a day without music is a day not lived
  2. My computer (not just for being able to stay in daily contact with my friends in other states, but for also providing me a creative outlet on a daily basis)
  3. My legs so I can walk: I walk about 20-25 miles a week. It started out as exercise and has turned into a necessity
  4. Rivers, lakes, oceans, etc: Water is a calming force for me which is one reason I walk along the banks of the Arkansas River so often.
  5. My pets--especially my sweet faced pug Ruby: yes I just picked a favorite. Get over it.
  6. The health of my family: this one isn't so weird, but it is something I know I've always taken for granted in the past.
  7. The fact that we FINALLY sold our house in Oxford after almost 2 years on the market.
  8. My sense of humor: if you don't find me funny, that's okay. I'm only trying to entertain myself anyway.
  9. Four-leaf clovers: I find them and they make me smile.
  10. The maid: Oh wait...that is the one thing I'm thankful for in the future...if you looked in my kitchen right now, you'd definitely know Alice ran off with Sam.
So what are some of the things you take for granted but would really miss if they were taken away?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pride and Passive Prejudices

I am going through a little bit of a struggle these days, and working hard to be positive and cheerful. But one of the issues is confidence, and another is focus. When I look terrible I get a bad return-vibe from people; and under good circumstances people usually feed me with positive energy. And when I feel really sick I tend to wind down and want to do nothing; so my writing is negatively impacted.

But the crux of the coming dread is hair. As in, I've already started to loose mine again and will most likely be bald by the end of the month.

I'm not vain. I've never been beautiful, but can pull off cute. I actually like being scruffy, boyish, and average-gal most of the time. While we all fall victim to occasional bouts of "man I look like poop," I actually think most of my life I was very nearly immune to that syndrome. But I have to say... the first time I lost all my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes I noticed how terribly the general public treats people who show signs of severe illness.

Ironically, I can't think of any medical condition that would require the kind of treatments with these results that is contagious or economically specific. Yet every time my hair has gone away I was treated as if I were poor, dirty, and contagious. Rationally I know this is a knee-jerk reaction based in fear: she has something that terrifies me on a visceral, primal level-- I must run from it. But the degree to which it really does change my mode of moving through the world is a little scary.

For instance, last baldy-round I was in a jewelry store with the money I'd been given for my birthday, wanting to purchase a bracelet I saw. I was in immaculately clean jeans, with a nice knit top, and a Red Sox cap covering what was obviously a very bald dome. After fifteen minutes of clearing my throat, standing ignored, and even being told to wait after vocalizing a request for help, I left. The only other customers in the store were a couple. There were three people behind the glass counters. I finally just left. I also noticed that cashiers who saw me on a regular basis around town became careful about touching me when returning change or receipts. Many stopped making eye-contact, though I think this is probably more based in pity than anything else. It's not easy to know somebody is sick but not want to offend them with questions or stares.

Still, the prejudice is always there and always baffling. And if anything, my normal, instinctual reaction-- which is to be determinedly cheerful and joking about the whole mess-- doesn't seem to work.

Anyway, I'm considering getting a tattoo on the back of my head just to have some decoration. And maybe I'll dress kind of tough and bikery. Like it's on purpose. Because frankly, if I'm going to scare you, I'd rather it be that kind of fear.

That's right-- I'm bald, I'm bad, and I'm brooding. You wanna make somethin' of it?

*crickets chirping*

Well... maybe not so much bad as... err... cranky? *sigh*

Friday, November 20, 2009

Roses are red...

Let the count-down begin! Rhonda Stapleton's Stupid Cupid releases on December 22nd, just in time for Christmas! She's kicking off her Stupid Cupid book launch contest! Here's what's up for grabs:

--a copy of Stupid Cupid, signed by the author

--a $30 bookstore gift card to the store of your choice

--a $30 iTunes gift card

--a $30 Starbucks gift card

That's a $100 value!

So, what do you have to do to enter this incredible contest? Simple--write Rhonda a horrible love poem. The more purple-prosed and nauseating, the better. Visit her blog for more details and be sure to spread the word! ALL DETAILS AVAILABLE HERE!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I love this kid

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

How many times have we said those words? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? If you attend public school in the US, you say it literally every morning.

How many of us have actually ever though about the words we were saying? I know that I was probably in second grade before I realized that there wasn't something called a "pledgallegiance." It was just so rote that I never even realized what I was saying.

Well, there's a very precocious 10-year-old boy in Arkansas who has not only thought about the words, but who has decided that he won't continue to say them until they actually hold meaning for all Americans. He analyzed the Pledge one weekend because he wants to be a lawyer. (Can you see why I love this kid?)

He's specifically referring to that last clause: "liberty and justice for all." Until there really is liberty and justice for all, he wants no part of saying the Pledge.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fav TV shows

I'm not usually a big TV watcher. I prefer burying my nose in a book, or hanging on the interweb. But there are some shows I am totally hooked on:

Glee. Need I even say why? It has high school drama, romance, and MUSIC. And it's so cheeseball funny that I can't resist. I also love how the characters are so unique and fun and get themselves in these weird situations.

Sons of Anarchy. I'm not normally into motorcycles, or gangs, but this show is amazing. It's packed with action, drama, and yes, some hotness. haha. I'm REALLY digging this one!

Pawn Stars. It's all about a pawn shop run by 3 generations--a man, his son, and his dad. And I love it! They show lots of different items people bring in, and it's fun seeing about all the things people have to pawn or sell.

Rescue Ink. Burly tattooed men, saving animals in places most people are afraid to go. What more could I possibly want in a show? It's awesome and heartfelt, and I've totally cried. It's so sad to see the animal abuse, but I love that these guys have soft hearts and really care for animals.

The Office. Okay, this show is like crack. I can't stop watching it. Every time I see one on TV, I turn right to it. Even my kids love it! LOL. There are so many stupid people in there, and how can you not love watching Pam and Jim? Or Dwight? Or Michael?

There are more, of course, but right now I'm interested in hearing from you. Are there any shows that are must-see on your TV?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I have an addiction

I am addicted to chapstick, lip balm and lipgloss. You can tell where I've been in the house because you'll be able to find a tube stashed somewhere. I've repeatedly gotten to the end of tubes - in other words, used the whole thing. I've been known to save the tubes, put them in the microwave to melt the remaining balm, then pour them all into one container. Desperation brings serious measures.

I have a large collection of homemade natural lip balms in flavors like butter rum, blueberry and pina colada. I adore those. I'm wearing the pina colada right now. I'll probably apply it 50 more times before the day is through.

So tell the truth. What's your addiction?

Monday, November 16, 2009


I love vanity plates. I really like the ones I have to work to guess...they're kinda like a puzzle. Here are some of my faves that I've seen over the years:

TIH2 HO (mirror image: Oh Shit)

PMPN8EZ (Pimpin' ain't easy)

NS8IABL (insatiable)

MKITSO (This made my Star Trek TNG heart smile: make it so)

IW84NO1 (I wait for no one)

IAM 007 (Bond? is that you)

GDAM8 (G'day Mate)

CD8D (sedated)

I personally want to have BCHN FCHN (Bitchin' Fiction) as my plate but it's too long. Sigh. I also considered MELODRMA but again, too long. Maybe just go with DAYDRM or MEL O

This weekend, I saw a plate that I never could decipher so I thought I'd post it on the interwebs and let you guys help me out.


Any thoughts?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Make My Yuletide Bright?

Last week I cancelled Christmas, but it's back on. No, really. I thought it was over, but it's not.

Why? Well I have discovered the gift for the woman who has everything. I no longer want the Droid (ok, I do, but not as much). I can pass on diamonds and pearls. I'm all set with candies and sugarplums. Nope. There's only one thing I want. Start the collection. I give you the ideal gift, the solution to all your fitness problems, the perfect way to firm your abs and spread holiday cheer over the drifts of snow en route to Gramma's house. Keep your Harry Winston trinkets, kids, I'm getting in line for...

Seen Below As Demonstrated by Ellen DeGeneres

I wonder if it comes in pink?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Well, they don't have this

Week two of unusual gift ideas.

Whose the kitchenator at your house? Do they have an egg separator? I bet they don't have THIS egg separator!

From the website: The Peter Petrie Egg Separator is the most unappetizing kitchen tool ever. And sadly, the stupid thing works. Just crack an egg into the hand-crafted ceramic head and tilt it forward.

When the yolk is blocked by the nose, the albumen tastefully drips into your bowl while the yolk is left behind. The Peter Petrie Egg Separator is skillfully made by potters and is perfect for egg white omelets, cakes and other recipes.

Mmmmm and only $12.99

Does your dad follow you turning off lights and appliances as you leave the room? Does he ever say, "Do you know how much electricity you are wasting?"

Now he can tell you!

For just $23.40 you can figure out your electrical expenses by the hour, day, week, month, even an entire year. You can buy that doo-hickey here.

How about an old fashioned picture of Aunt Gertie that changed into a zombified demony thing?

These pictures don't do it justice, so go the site so you can watch it morph.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bella's Favorite Book

I don't think I've made it a secret that I'm not really a fan of the Twilight franchise. (Yeah, I know. I'm going to probably have my YA Writer card revoked.)

But I thought it was quite interesting when I was browsing the Teen section of the bookstore the other day, and came across this cover.

The version I saw had a sticker that said "Bella's favorite book." I found it very interesting that HarperTeen issued a reprint of Emily Bronte's classic "Wuthering Heights" with a very Twilight-esque cover...especially when you consider that Little, Brown is Stephanie Meyer's publisher (not Harper). But hey, I guess everyone wants to cash in on this gravy train.

(Personally, I think Harper should just cash in on some teen vamps they've already contracted...our very own Mel Francis' "Bite Me" totally rocks. And I'm not just saying that because she's my friend. It really does kick some Twilight butt.)

Anyway, I guess I really shouldn't complain. Anything that gets kids interested in the classics is A-Okay by me.

Hmm...I wonder if one of the reasons I never could relate to Bella was that I always sort of couldn't care less whether Cathy and Healthcliff perished on the moors or not. I know it's probably sacrilege, but I couldn't stand "Wuthering Heights."

But hey, to each her own.

What do you think about the new "Wuthering Heights" cover?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Words of Wisdom by Rhonda

Come gather 'round auntie Rhonda, my kiddies. It's time for me to share WORDS OF WISDOM (that part is said in a deep, echoing voice):

1--you can tell how a guy's gonna treat you by the way he treats his mom (or other significant females in his life)

2--spend at least a few minutes by yourself every day

3--faith and action must go hand-in-hand

4--don't trust someone who says, "trust me"

5--if you want to see the best and the worst in someone, go on vacation together

6--the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know

7--don't ditch your friends for a guy/girl--it's important to keep and nurture those friendships

8--it's NEVER too late to try something new

9--chocolate has zero calories when used in a therapeutic manner

10--even if you give 100% into a relationship, it's still only 50% (because you're only 1/2 of a couple)

So, what words of wisdom do YOU have to share?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanksgiving Fun

Here's a little online game to get you in the Thanksgiving spirit. And really, who doesn't need another time waster? You're welcome.

Turkey Fling

Monday, November 09, 2009

becoming a fan

I'll admit that I wasn't willing to give Taylor Swift a fair shot. I lumped her into the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana group and really didn't pay her any attention.

Until the Kanye mess.

Sometimes I have 'underdog' syndrome and when Kanye stole Taylor's spotlight, I immediately went to iTunes and downloaded her latest album.

Then I listened to it.

And I kinda liked it.

And the more I listened, the more I liked it...even though I didn't want to admit it.

But hey, if I can openly love Avril Lavigne...why can't I like Taylor Swift just a little bit?

I don't know why. It doesn't make sense to me, but for some reason, I didn't wanna let myself be a Taylor Swift fan.

Until this past weekend when she hosted SNL. She did a great job in all of her skits, but this one--made me a fan.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Nabisco People Are Trying to Kill Me

It's not right. The people at Nabisco are clearly trying to kill me. I was minding my own business, wandering right past the cookie aisle, when I was accosted by a display clearly designed by sadistic minions of the devil. There they were: The Limited Edition Mint Fudge Oreos.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Limited edition?" Yes. Limited edition. And it's not just the Mint Fudge edition we need to dodge and avoid like David Beckham on the field. No, as if those fudge-dipped, decadent little orbs of evil weren't enough, the Nabisco psych-- err-- people have whipped up several "limited" Oreo versions. Take, for instance, the Strawberry Milkshake, Peppermint Candy, and Banana Split editions.

Still think they're innocent? Well let me ask you... why LIMITED? Hmm? Why get us all hooked on those new, shiny, beckoning delights with their glorious, dark cookies cradling new, exciting secrets in a clearly salacious and indecent manner? Why not just give us the new indulgence, such as they did with the Double Stuff Oreo? Why wasn't THAT a "limited edition?

I'll tell you why... the double middle was like a trainer drug. It lured us in. It got us hooked. We unscrewed those first temptations, delighted at the sheer luxurious excess, licked them with reckless abandon, and re-screwed the dark discs without realizing our descent into darkness had begun. It starts with double-stuff. Then it's "oh-look-a-special-edition."

Thanks Nabisco. Why don't you just sell them in a handbasket?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Gifts you don't have

The holiday season will be upon us soon, so as a service to our readers, I'm going to spend the next few Friday's finding unique gifts for those people in your life who just don't belong on the softer side of Sears.

This week, we're going for a mash up.
You have Weezer--one of my favorite rock bands.
You have the Snuggie, a cult phenom blanket with arms.

I bring you, the Weezer Snuggie.

You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Interview with Pam Bachorz

You may recall that I recently attended the KidLit Con, a fabulous conference that brings together bloggers, writers, and editors in the YA world. While I was there, I met a lot of cool people, including today's guest, Pam Bachorz.

Pam is one of the "2009 Debutantes" along with our very own Rhonda. You can read their group blog here:

Pam lives outside Washington, DC, in the same Maryland neighborhood that previous Fictionistas guest, Diana Peterfreund, lives in. Freakazoid factoid of the day...we discovered over dinner at the conference that Pam and Diana had been in the housing market at the same time and actually almost bought each other's homes. Weird, huh? (Cue Twilight Zone music.)

Pam's debut novel, CANDOR about brainwashed teens in a planned community, was released by Egmont USA in September.

Please give a warm Fictionistas welcome to Pam Bachorz!

AB: Tell us something about yourself.

PB: I like cupcakes, writing and people who tell the truth.

AB: I like people who are straight to the point. LOL! Tell us about CANDOR.

PB: CANDOR is a story for ages 12 and up about a boy, Oscar, who lives in a town where everyone is brainwashed--everyone, that is, except Oscar. he's secretly found a way around the Messages that turn all the other kids into Stepford clones. But when rebel Nia moves to town, he must choose between love and safety.

AB: How did you get the inspiration for it?

PB: I was living in a planned community in central Florida, and took the dog for a walk one late night. The mosquito truck drove by and we were coated in the white spray that the town swore was harmless. What if, I wondered, it had Prozac in it? That would explain why everyone in the town was so happy and friendly. From there I developed my idea of a town where everyone pays a premium to be brainwashed (but neglects to clue their kids into the plan).

AB: Sounds intriguing! What authors do you read?

PB: I read YA and Middle Grade books, mostly. I try to read widely, spanning genres, though lately I have mostly been focusing on books pubbed in the last 2 years. Right now I'm reading RUINMARKS by Joanne Harris. Some of my favorites include Scott Westerfeld, Jeanne DuPrau, Pete Hautman, Neal Shusterman, Gail Giles and Nancy Werlin.

AB: Who is your favorite character (from your own books or any others out there)?

PB: My very favorite literary character is Anne Shirley, from L.M. Montgomery's ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series. She's a redheaded writer with spunk and a genius for getting into trouble (I can't imagine why I like her...)

AB: LOL! What five things are always in your purse?

PB: My Blackberries (yes, plural, one for play and one for work). A notebook to scribble down ideas. Hopefully a pen to go with the notebook but does that always happen? Nooooo. And I have this little wool wallet/change purse that my friend Viv gave me... I stuff both cash and my CANDOR business cards in there, so when I'm trying to give people a CANDOR card they probably get really excited for a second and think I'm going to bribe them to read my book!

AB: What music are you currently listening to?

PB: Right now I'm loving Brandi Carlile's new album, GIVE UP THE GHOST. I love any song with a ton of energy (like, say, anything by the Fratellis or Lady Gaga!), passion (thus Brandi) or with beautiful harmonies (like The Story or The Indigo Girls).

AB: Tell us about your pets, if any.

PB: No pets, sadly. We know our lives are too busy right now for a dog. But I really miss having one. (No cats in this house, we're all super allergic!)

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

PB: Colorstay lipstick.

AB: Worst high school memory.

PB: Seriously, I tend to block the bad stuff. I ought to get myself "unblocked" so I have more material for my writing, huh? Well, probably it was when I failed my driving test. I am a self-admitted overachiever and I could not BELIEVE that I had failed. OK, sure, I made a left on red but nobody was coming! Yeah, the driving examiner didn't buy that either. I was so spooked that I didn't take the test again for nearly a year.

AB: Ouch! 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!)

PB: I skipped senior prom! I did go to junior prom but there was no big eventful story there, unless you count one of my guy friends showing up in a powder-blue suit WITH cane and somehow pulling it off. I wish I could share my sister's horrid prom story but she'd kill me. I would just like to say to her prom date that dude, I know what happened and don't ever cross this big sister's path.
I, um, don't know what I did with my prom picture? Too bad. I actually still really like my dress.

AB: If you could go back in time and talk to TeenPam, what would you tell her?

PB: I would tell her to chill out and smell the roses a little bit. Have some more fun and don't worry so much about being perfect all the time!

AB: What are you working on next?

PB: I just turned in my second YA to my editor at Egmont USA, so now I'm mulling. I'll get revisions soon so it's hard to start on the next one but I've got some ideas, so I'm just playing with characters at this point. Plus I'm writing podcast scripts ( for CANDOR still!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Where do you like to read?

(image courtesy of

What is your ideal reading environment?

In the fall and winter, my favorite thing is to cuddle up in the corner of my sectional couch, tuck a blanket and a bunch of pillows around me, and read. I like it quiet, but with a nice fire crackling in our fireplace.

In the spring and summer, I love to sit in my back patio, just digging into a book as the warm breezes filter through the big screened panels of the room.

But honestly? I can get lost in a book anywhere. I've brought them while waiting for doctor appointments, during my lunch break, while I have downtime in the car--anywhere that gives me a few minutes to dive back into whatever story I'm engrossed in.

How about you? What's your favorite way to read? Are you the kind of person who can read anywhere, or do you have to have a certain environmental setup to focus on a book?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Quit Poken Me. Or Don't, Actually...

Sometimes, it can be a little difficult to remember someone's email, blog address, FB page, Twitter ID, etc, etc. You've got to write it down, then hopefully remember where you stashed that piece of paper. Same thing goes for exchanging business cards. Ever accidentally run an important card through the wash because you left it in a pocket?

Not any more. Now there's Poken. What's a Poken? According to the website, it's this:

Poken solves one simple problem: how do I remember the email addresses and screen names of everyone I meet? You Poken, of course. When you meet other Poken owners in the real world, quickly swap information. No more writing down email addresses or long blog names. Just touch Pokens and connect.

Poken holds your contact information: name, address, email, mobile phone, and the rest, and it also holds your social networking account names. Poken contains your FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and other accounts.

Already know all your friends' profiles? Even better. When you Poken and they Poken, you'll automatically have updates when they open a new social networking account.

So what do you think? Would you Poken? Or do you think it's just a fad? Personally, I'd love to try one out.

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNoWriMo--Mel's version

I don't talk about writing much here because I have my own weird style and it doesn't really fit into any writing box. And basically, if you want to be a writer, you have to find out what works for you. Some people have to write on schedule. Some people have to write every day. Some folks only write when they have 5 min spurts here and there. ANYWAY, you do what you gotta do no matter how you do it.

I've never participated in National Novel Writing Month before and I'm not really going to this month either. BUT, I have to do something because my writing well has been bone dry.

So I'm setting a goal for finishing a synopsis and a proposal for the month of November. I can't do a novel in a month. I have no intention of putting that kinda pressure on myself--I'd be doomed to fail if I did. But I am going to set a real goal and meet it because I have to pull myself out of this funk.

Have y'all ever done NaNoWriMo? Was it successful?

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?