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?