Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Inside the Writer's Studio

One of my favorite shows is Inside The Actor's Studio with James Lipton.

I only recently discovered it...maybe two years ago. And I discovered it by watching Will Ferrell mock it on SNL. So maybe it was more than two years ago. Not sure.

James Lipton is the consummate straight man to the actors he interviews. They can't help but be "on" when a camera is in their face. So it's a lot of fun to watch him ask these short, sometimes silly questions (What fruit would you be?) and not know what to expect out of the actor's mouth.

Well, Ellen Meister invited me to participate in her Brava questionnaire, which is very similiar to the Lipton interviews. Only her questions were about motherhood.

When I answered them, it didn't occur to me that it was very Inside the Actor's Studio. But after reading it, I could almost hear James Lipton's soft, soothing voice.

What a fun and different interview.

Check it out.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Happy Release Day To Me!

So this is what it feels like when your book hits the shelves.


It feels just like...Tuesday.

I've been warned that Release Day can be anti-climatic. And like so much of the advice I've been given over the years, it's dead on.

Today started like any other. No doubt, it will also end like any other. What's different is me, I guess.

I'm anxious and nervous inside like I'm waiting for something to happen. Only, something has already happened. I wrote a book and it's been published.

The fact that, that's a huge accomplishment does not escape me. But the entire publishing process, I think, is designed to keep authors grounded.

I won't be whisked from bookstore to bookstore with hundreds of screaming fans out there crying at the prospect of getting close enough to touch me.

There will be no press junket as I roll from the Today Show to Good Morning America.

You won't see me yukking it up with David Letterman tonight.

No pre-arranged school visits where a news camera just "happens" to show up and catch me hob nobbing with a bunch of kids who just "happen" to have spanking brand new copies of So Not The Drama in their hands, held at just the right angle for the camera to catch its pretty pink cover.


I'm sitting in my office in PJs looking out the window at the construction behind my house. A lone guy seems to be digging some sort of ditch. And taking his time with it, I might add.

If watching someone dig a ditch doesn't ground you, reminding you that your anti-climatic day as the author of a newly released book is still quite a notch above a few million other things you could be doing instead, I don't know what will.

Yes, life is good.

So look, my baby So Not The Drama is out there all alone on book shelves. Please, go pick up a copy and give her a nice home surrounded by eager readers who will read her again and again. She was put on this earth to bring joy to the young and young at heart.

And if you happen to be at a bookstore anytime over the next two weeks, can you take a photo of her and send it to me?

Happy Release Day, So Not The Drama. Momma wishes you well!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hill-y Terrain

Confession: I'm obsessed with The Hills!

I'm way too invested (emotionally) in this show. How do I know? Because tonight I was so pissed at that skank Heidi that I wanted to jump through the TV and snatch her bald. Not to mention Lauren's "best friend," Jen.

Man, are all the girls in the O.C. this backstabbing, manipulative and bitchy?

Yeah, yeah editing, blah, blah. These girls on The Hills are crazy evil, editing or no. And it is the most delicious half-hour on television.

I never watched The O.C. so I have no idea what "character" Lauren (formerly L.C.) played on that show. But on The Hills, she's the perpetually crapped on sweet girl. Her choice in friends, and apparently men, is so bad that instead of feeling like wanting to shake some sense into her you really just want to pimp slap her simple-minded, insensitive least some of them.

One day, these young ladies will have families and think back on this time in their lives as a cringe-inducing learning experience.

Some of the lessons (I hope) they've learned are:

* Maintain dignity at all times when a camera is in your grille. Crying hysterically over a "break up" only to later crawl right back up your boyfriend's butt is not a good look.

* Guys with frosted tips are the devil.

*Be a lot more discrete about "secret" conversations while on camera if you plan to, later, lie to your BFF's face.

* Cute guys named Brody are the devil's assistant.

* Diamond's are a girl's best friend but other girls may not necessarily be

* When a BFF stabs you in the back, feel free to de-gift her of aforementioned diamonds (IMMEDIATELY)

But until they reach the ripe old age of 30, they're fodder for our amusement. If you love drama (even if you're afraid to admit it) you've got to watch this show. It has some to spare.

Cheer Talk

Well, the cheer season is over for my squad. We've ended early, because as much as I love multi-tasking, I figured maybe I should dedicate some solid attention to book promotion for the first few months after DRAMA comes out.

And since cheerleading takes up a great deal of energy, I knew it would be near impossible to do both.

So we cut our season short by a month or so.

But what an awesome year my girls had!

We had a winning streak going - placing first in all of our competitions this year - three in all.

So we were pumped, to say the least, to hit Nationals this weekend. Reach-The-Beach is about the biggest recreational Nationals around these parts - most of them cater to All-Star teams - so we've been gunning for a Reach-The-Beach National Championship for two years.

Two years ago, we hit the Beach and competed against seven other teams.

We placed fifth.

This year, same number of teams, but much better results.

2nd place, baby!!!

I'm so proud of my girls.

And bless their hearts, they're so fiercely competitive (like their coaches) that, at first, they were bummed to take 2nd.

We had to explain to them that #1 they beat out six teams, #2 two years ago we didn't even place #3 this was Nationals, the big dance, our SuperBowl.

It would have felt great to take first and keep our First Place streak going. But the team who beat us out, Central Dauphin, were awesome. The entire team had standing back handsprings!

For those uninitiated in all things cheer-related - for an entire squad of rec cheerleaders to have a standing back handspring is pretty impressive. Tumbling is rarely a requirement for rec cheering, even competitive squads like mine.

You want them to have it and you look favorably upon girls who come to the squad who have the skill. But you rarely mandate it.

So, this year, it was literally one of those things where my girls could have done nothing to beat Central Dauphin (short of them screwing up their routine, which was pretty flawless) because we were outscored when it came to tumbling.

You know what that means? More of our girls will be "encouraged" to tumble next year.

And everyone on the squad knows what "encouraged" means.

Un-huh, they're getting their private tumbling sessions together now well before next season begins.

Congrats to my Hornet Honeys. I love you guys!!

Rest up, next season is only four months away....and tryouts only two!!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lucky #8

As the So Not The Drama ARC Who Goes There? contest winds to a close, we have three more winners to add to the mix.

Congratulations to:




You have just won yourselves a spanking new copy of So Not The Drama to ooh, ahh and...oh yeah, read over.

Keep in mind, you can still enter at Teens Read Too until February 28th. There are still two more ARCS to give away!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book Stuff

Feels like it's been forever since I've blogged about books and writing.

And it's not that there's nothing to share. On the contrary, it's been quite busy, lately. But I'm finding it a challenge to be witty on the blog, witty in my books, informative at the FTJ and be a publicity ho.

So, because I know you all are just on the edge of your seat wondering what I've been up to, here goes:

Edits for Don't Get It Twisted

DONE!!! D-O-N-E and it feels so good.

I didn't even have to pull very many late-nights for this round. And anytime I can stay up past 1 a.m. simply to watch TV, life is good.

Whenever I'm in edit mode I'm in awe of my own writing. No, not because it's that good, but because it's still really odd to know that I created the words. It pretty much reinforces the fact that much of the writing comes from my muse and I'm merely the vehicle used to get it on paper.

I wish I could take credit. I really do. But hell, I read the work sometimes and think, "You witty little devil you. This ain't half bad," as if I weren't the creator.

I won't go so far as to say that my muse's whispering is like being possessed. But, considering I suffer from anxiety that I'll never again produce anything as good as the previously finished project, there's absolutely some level of disconnect between the section in my brain where the story is conceived to the part of my brain that types it out.

If there weren't, wouldn't I be more confident that I could produce the exact same level of prose each time?


But edits are done. Next, copy edits.

I don't know about other writers. But I love CE time. Or rather I love that I'm only proofing and double checking vs. writing.

Nice brain break.

On the promo stroll

Let's face it, promoting your book is totally like being on the stroll. You're waving your wares in the faces of reviewers, potential readers, and other influencers hoping someone likes what they see and asks you to hop in the car.

And although I am flat out refusing to turn my life over to promoting, it has to be done at some level.

So I've spent the last few weeks sending out press releases, making follow up calls (blegh!) and identifying as many outlets as possible to get me and/or So Not The Drama some ink.

I'll wait until I have clips to share hits. But, so far, I'm not doing half bad.

I'm comfortable with the level of promo I'm doing until I hear about some YA success story, then I immediately panic that I'm not doing nearly enough.

It's dreadful!

What pulls me back to reality is the fact that I must have a life outside of these books. I could easily let writing them, editing them and promoting them consume 24 hours...well, 20, a girl has to sleep!

But I won't. So for now, promo's on target.

The future of the Del Rio Bay Clique series

Remember I mentioned that I had some really good news but couldn't share, yet? Well, that good news is, the DRB Clique series will live beyond December's Don't Get it Twisted.

Kensington will release three more books beyond TWISTED.

Cooly, huh?

It's still sinking in. The news is pretty fresh off the presses. Actually, it's not even on the presses yet. But it is final.

What's good for me is not having to climb Mt. Killanocontract. As I've said several times before, be it the way my brain is wired or because I'm just stuck in my ways - writing under contract is best for me, at this time. It's easier for me to maintain a writing career knowing someone has a vested interest in the work.

So I have three books to produce over the next year or so. And being a true pantser, I have no friggin clue what they'll be about. But I look forward to finding out.

The Case of the Shrinking P

Some of you know that I've been doing this "new" exercise in addition to my usual 25-30 minutes of jogging. And despite the scale's resistance and lack of willingness to get with the program, I am still managing to shrink little by little.

Although that stubborn ol' scale indicates I've lost zero pounds. Correct. I said zippo, none, no weight loss. I've still lost five inches around my waist and nearly two around my hips (in the last five weeks).

I've come to realize that...I'm okay with only losing inches.

I mean sure, I'd still like to lose some weight. But this shrinking waist line thing, I'm really digging.

The odd thing about shrinking is, you begin to think perhaps it's your mind, not inches, that you're losing. Because well, the scales not moving #1.

#2 Your body isn't remarkably different at first sight.

It's the little things that convince you that yes, indeed you're truly losing something. "Something" is definitely happening.

For me, it's the fit of my favorite brown cords - to which I've already raved about (remember, I got them from the JR department).

Here are a few other signs that confirm I'm losing something other than my mind:

* The muffin top's almost outta here. In a few weeks I may have none at all. Yay!

Ladies, ya know what I'm talking about here? Since the devil is in charge of fashion, he's made nearly every pair of pants low waist. Well unless you're a bean pole, low waist means two things 1) You'll have to get a larger size. Or at least I do since my fuggin' hips are the largest part of me. Buying two sizes up does nothing for my self esteem. 2) My very not flat stomach, which is normally tucked safely within pants, flows over in low waist pants, thus the muffin top!

* A lot of my favorite tees are fitting much more loose now.

* I am on the next to the last notch on my belt.

Seems a smaller belt is actually in order, now.

* I've reached the point where people give me that "Hmm...something's different about you...did you cut your hair?"

It's because it's both subtle yet obvious and they can't put their finger on the change.

* I can't stop looking at my side profile in the mirror.

Narcissist has nothing on me. Seriously, I can't get over it, so I stare and stare trying to convince myself it's true and not some fluke.

So, I'm nearly down to my goal waist line. I should be there by Release Day.

And then from there I'll only have 4 more inches until I'm back at my hour-glass, high school waist line. Which, considering I've lost no weight, will make me look very odd.

I'm going to be big on top, teeny in the middle, big on the bottom.

But I can live with that. After all, there are worst things. Like, muffin tops!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Flying High

Okay, this is why writing is like a drug for me.

Today, I'm high as a kite.


Because I had a good writing day. And having a good writing day is better than "name your own drug." Or at least what I imagine "name your own drug" is like.

I have written the first chapter in what will be the third Del Rio Bay Clique series. Yes, I said third but that's all I can say about that!

This is about my addiction to good writing. And I am horribly addicted. So much so that when I'm on a roll I am scarily irritable if kept from writing.

Today, everyone better be ready for me to be horribly irritable because I can't sit in front of the PC all day. I have cheer practice to tend to and I guess dinner to cook.

Dinner's always a throwaway kind of chore for me.

When I'm on a writing roll I rarely get hungry. You'd think I'd lose some weight...but umm...not so far.

But back to this chapter.

The words did not flow as easily as they did with So Not The Drama. However, the more I wrote, the more I was able to put myself back in the world of Del Rio Bay and really feel the emotions the characters were experiencing.

That is an awesome feeling!

Whenever I find myself angry, or ready to cry or stupidly happy or even hot and bothered (as my characters are teenagers with living, breathing hormones) it's because I'm way into that characters head. Guess you can call it "in the zone."

And I'm pleased to announce that I'm bringing my mean girl character Jessica back for book three.

I love Jessica. She's horribly vain, self-centered and mean as an alley cat. But I love that girl!

She is the perfect Super Ego to my main character, Mina's, Id.

I love pitting them against each other because well, in real life we often have to peacefully co-exist with people who annoy us or who we just dislike.

And these they do not like each other at all.

So forgive me if I'm channeling Jessica for the next few hours (or even days). To write this character I've got to be in touch with her nasty streak. So apologies for anyone who gets a little bit of Jess juice on them.

I swear it's her and not me being a total snit!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ten Questions That Rock: GCC Style - China Dolls

I'm always in awe of authors who team up to write. I'm such a lone wolf, I can't even get into finding an exercise buddy much less creating an entire work of fiction with someone. So hats off to today's GCC authors, Blossom Kan and Michelle Yu, the brains behind China Dolls.

Hey ladies! You're in the clique lounge, so kick back and relax.

TCL: What protag would you want on your Celeb Deathmatch tag team and why?

We would want Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada on our Celebrity Deathmatch tag team -- have you seen those stiletto heels?

TCL: Shoes say a lot about a person, what type of shoe are you? Choose your own or pick from these: high-priced heel, budget brand flats, caz Birkenstocks, comfy clog or athletic sneaks

I am definitely a wedge heel gal - I'm short so I need all the height I can get! Michelle, on the other hand, lives in her Pumas!

TCL: What type of writer are you: plot-driven or character-driven

We are totally character-driven. For CHINA DOLLS, we first came up with the characters and the themes we wanted to explore - the plot grew out of those decisions.

TCL: Word association time. What do you think when I say:

Best seller - NANNY DIARIES
Best Band Ever - GREEN DAY
Most rockin' author - NICK HORNBY (not sure why this came to mind - I
think I have High Fidelity stuck in my head)

TCL: Name the Top 3 books on your TBR List
1) Special Topics in Calamity Physics
2) Prep
3) What Came Before He Shot Her

TCL: If you had anything to do with it, what would the next hot lit trend be?

If we had any say, we would do away with the trends. We've personally never followed trends in what we read - for example, everyone may be saying that chick lit is dead, but we're still out there buying and reading chick lit.

TCL: What celeb would you love to see play your MC on the big or small screen and why?

Well, we're a little limited because our MC is Asian. So I guess it would have to be Lucy Lui or Zhang Zhiyi (the girl who kicked ass in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

TCL: Whether it's because you admire their work or adore them, who's your author crush?

I think our author crushes are Emma MacLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the writers of THE NANNY DIARIES. Michelle and I have gotten to spend some time with Emma and Nicola, and they are the two coolest, nicest, most interesting girls. They've given us a lot of great advice and we really admire them! Okay, I'll stop gushing now.

TCL: What TV show do you watch that you're ashamed to admit liking?
Michelle and I both grew up watching soap operas, so for me, it's GENERAL HOSPITAL and for her it's DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Michelle LOVES John Black!

TCL: SSP- Tell the cliquesters why the chance to read your book is among the top ten reasons for young readers to look ahead to reading up.

Our book is about 3 young women who are super-focused on trying to succeed in tough jobs that have traditionally been very male-dominated (sportwriting, lawyering, and investment banking). We tried to show how one can deal with the inevitable professional obstacles, along with the not-so-inevitable stereotypes and prejudices, and not let these things get in the way. Hopefully, young readers can be inspired and encouraged to keep chasing their dreams even when they're being stereotyped or treated unfairly because of their gender, race, ethnicity, etc.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

A Winning Trio

The earth is round.

I love macaroni and cheese.

Winter sort of sucks.

And the sound of the ocean makes me sleepy.

These are all facts.

Know what else is true?

These three ladies are the newest winners of the Teens Read Too So Not The Drama ARC Who Goes There? Contest:



Remember, winners, if you enjoy the book, feel free to say so on Amazon or within a blog comment. Show me and So Not The Drama a little luvin'. It does wonders for the universe.
Okay, okay, it does wonders for my self-esteem! I'm sure the universe benefits somehow.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Slaving Away

I'm in Don't Get It Twisted edit land. But that's not the reason for the blog's title.

Edits are actually going fairly smoothly. Sorry, no neurotic outbursts to amuse those who enjoy seeing me spiral slowly into madness.

I read two very interesting books earlier in the week, both revolved around the issue of slavery.
Do not ask where I found the time. It would require a math degree, some fuzzy accounting and admitting that something was left horribly neglected for two solid days. Lest my editor is reading this - certainly it wasn't the edits that were left undone.

Perish the thought!

No, more like I didn't cook dinner or forgot to pay a few bills. You know, small stuff.

Anyway, I read Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden (no thanks to my boy, D, who was supposed to let me read the joint nearly seven months ago) and the 2006 Coretta Scott King Award winning, Copper Sun by Sharon Draper. Reading these two books back-to-back made for some interesting internal struggle.

Side note: The hubster hates reading "slave" stories or watching them on TV. It makes him angry. I enjoy them, but found myself fighting that boiling anger that accompanies the reality of life and attitudes during the height of slavery.

Deep breaths!

Sharon Draper vividly portrayed the journey of fifteen-year-old Amari as she was brutally snatched from her village in Africa and sold into slavery in the colony of South Carolina.

Copper Sun is the story of struggle and triumph over adversity. Draper handles the issue of instituionalized rape on the plantation especially well. Keep in mind its YA. Sex, much less rape, is a pretty hot and controversial topic. Yet, I thought it was depicted with finesse.

I greedily lapped up every page of Copper Sun. I felt anger, anguish and pride mixed with the slight dizziness of confusion that goes along with the question - what is my responsibility to the black community as a writer?

By the way, I have no idea how to answer that last one.

It's one of those rhetorical questions that every African American asks themselves periodically. Not sure you ever answer it. You just do what you can to toe your part of the racial line.

And that's where Rhoden's book, which I actually read first, comes in - truly pressing the issue, exactly how much are we each responsible for when it comes to improving current conditions as not just professionals but black professionals?

Rhoden, a sportswriter and regular on ESPN's Sports Reporters, took on the issue of the rise and fall of black athletes. The title boldly asserts that despite their wealth, black atheltes are still akin to slaves due to their lack of power and control within the very sporting world which benefits from their talent.

This relates directly to the lack of black team owners, GMs and, in some cases, coaches in the land of professional sports.

Rhoden's book incited some real confusion, on my part. I was able to push beyond his voice, which, unsurprisingly, tends to ramble. He's exactly like that on Sports Reporters, often taking a long time to make his point. The book was also quite repetitious. Still, as he reviewed the history of black athletes, I found two points especially interesting:

1) The Jockey Syndrome - The act of the establishment changing the rules of the game when the competition begins to gain ground. A mechnaism Rhoden says has been used in American sports for many years to tilt the playing field.

Rhoden gave enough examples to show it's not some figment of the imagination.

Not sure there are any comparable goings-on in the publishing industry. If indeed the Jockey syndrome occurs within every profession, the publishing playing field is, apparently, not yet balanced enough for new rules to be necessary to tilt it.

2) Rhoden's round about assertion that black athletes need to "make a statement" through action even if it's to that individual's detriment.

I'm unable to agree with Rhoden on this. And it's very possible it's nearly impossible for us to see the issue the same simply because we see it from different angles. Rhoden is from my parents generation - a time when HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) were often the only choice for an African American to seek higher education.

My generations ability to choose whatever college they want was thanks to the struggles of our parents and grand parents fight for civil rights.

So when Rhoden laments that Chris Webber and the rest of his Fab Five compadres chose Michigan rather than a HBCU...well...I don't agree. If the Fab Five had chosen an HBCU, yes it would have certainly made for an interesting media story for that school. But would it have afforded Webber, Howard and Rose the chance to make it into the NBA, like playing for Michigan on national television did?


Should Chris Webber have shouldered that burden trying to change an entire system by choosing another school?

And would his decision have really changed anything?

Doubtful again.

HBCUs rarely have the wealthy boosters or TV contracts...that a Division I school has. The Fab Five attending one would have changed neither of those things.

And Webber admits as much in the book.

So, where Rhoden and I disagree is on how each individual needs to play his part in righting wrongs, gaining ground and pushing for progress. Rhoden seems to believe that a person should forgo some of their own ambition if it means a step forward for all.

And I believe that my own progress will benefit others behind me. So I don't agree I should attempt to make a decision based on what's for the good of "all" instead of the good of me.

Again, I'm fairly certain this is a generational conflict.

I've tried to see it Rhoden's way. But I'm a product of my generation just like he is of his own. We can probably meet one another half way - but I'd likely have no luck persuading him to my side, either.

It's likely that I'm naive and even that my view on this will change as I get older. But right now, I believe there's a way to change the system (albeit slowly) by working within the structure. And I do so hoping it will benefit others, not just myself.

I've done it many times as an adult. It's possible. Tiring, yes. But possible.

So I hope any strides I make in the YA field will open doors for future black authors on the rise just like Mildred Taylor, Sharon Draper and Dana Davidson's strides did so for me.

In the end, I can't cry too many tears for athletes. After all the book is called Forty Million Dollar slaves.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Thirteen Again

I'm not going to re-hash the Grammy's. It was neither the best or worst I've seen.

But I've been driving my family nuts counting down to The Police reunion that tonight's Grammy's brought.

I was giddy like a kid running to an ice cream truck when the clock struck 8:00. And I wasn't disappointed. The Police performed my favorite song!!!


Can I tell you how pissed I would have been if they'd played the maniacally mainstream, commerical favorite, Every Breath You Take?!

Nice song. But I'm glad they gave us a taste of something besides this totally overexposed diddy.

If you weren't a product of the 80's, I'm not sure you can appreciate the significance of The Police performance to me (and I suppose some one else out there must have been excited about it, like I was).

With MTV blasting music in our faces 24-7, 80's t(w)eens sucked up everything musically the station gave. And what they gave was lots of Rock and Pop bands.

It wasn't until much much later that I gave MTV a serious gas face for being so exclusionary in their video picks.

So yes, I loved The Police, Corey Hart and other artists like them. It's not like I owned any of their albums. It was about whatever single was played on the television.

Just so happens that I only like one Corey Hart song (I wear my sunglasses at night) while I like a hefty handful of The Police tunes. Plus, I love Sting's music in general.

Oh, and yes, I completely and thoroughly embarrassed Princess A in Wal-Mart, one day, when I lustily belted out Corey Hart's song as it played over the PA system.

It's just anytime I hear, what I've come to term MTV songs and any old school rap, it takes me back to a time when my biggest worry was whether or not my crush liked me or not. Music's powerful like that, you know?

So while I sat and watched the Grammy's in its entirety (while reading Forty Million Dollar Slaves by Willam C. Rhoden), I really only tuned in to watch The Police. It was worth the three and a half hours, just to capture 1983 for a few moments.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Busy Bee P

Even though I can balance my checkbook, math and I aren't friends. Still, I've been inspired by Ally Carter's equations, of late. Sometimes math truly is the best way to sum something up.

In the most basic math language, here's a look at my Saturday:

6 hours of cheerleading+ 1 First Place Division title (that's 3 for the season)

- 1 more inch from my waist (that's a total of 3 for anyone keeping track)

X 2.5 hours on a "Being Your Own Publicist" Panel/20 eager aspiring writers looking to take their writing public

+ A couple hundred calories for an early a.m. Mocha - Any calories I burned between 7 a.m. and 7:46 p.m. on the run between the cheer competition and my writer's panel - 2 princessess away at Granny and Pop-Pop's - $25 spent on a DVD of my winning Hornet Honey's team

+ 1 relaxed Hubster who spent half the day running after Princess Bea and the other watching college basketball

- An unspecified amount of money spent at Karibu books (because I just can't go into a bookstore and NOT buy something!)

+ one late night bowl of Spaghetti-O's gourmet style (let's just say it includes cheese and a secret ingredient or two) = One tired coach/author whose eyes were glued shut by 10:30 p.m.

Yesterday, was one of the longest, most fulfilling days I've had in a long time. I didn't realize, until I was sitting back talking to the Hubster, that I'd spent the entire day volunteering my time. First for cheerleading, then for writing.

Giving really does feel good.

Today, back to edits!

A sister's gotta eat.

Friday, February 09, 2007

We're All Winners...

Ummm...except those of us who didn't win.

But these two are winners.

Congratulations to the first two winners of the
So Not The Drama ARC Who Goes There? Contest
Happy reading, ladies!
Enter to win at Teens Read Too all month!

Racism, Racism...Where Art Thou, Racism?

Karen Scott is conducting a survey on racism. Initially, the focus revolved around the romance genre. But, if you think you're a candidate to spout philosophical about racism in the publishing industry (or at least your experiences with it), check out Karen's post below:

Racism In Publishing, How Does It Affect You?

Are you an African American author who’s been published for at least one year? If so Karen Scott wants to hear from you.

She’s conducting a survey based on the racism within the publishing industry, and whether or not it’s as prevalent as some believe. She’s looking for black or African American authors who have been published for at least one year.

She would like to know about your specific experiences within the industry thus far. She wants to know how AA authors feel about the current shelving policies, and niche marketing. She wants to know who you feel is to blame for the problems that you face. She also wants your suggestions on how things can be improved upon.

In all, there are twenty questions in the survey, and all that she asks is that people be as honest as possible. Confidentiality is assured if requested, but for the findings to yield more weight, she would request that she be granted permission to directly quote from the answers given by the authors.

She’s hoping to poll at least 100 AA authors, in an effort to ensure that a fair representation is achieved.If enough authors agree to partcipate, (and depending on the findings) the results may well be sent to representatives within media and press. No promises that Oprah will hear about it, but all efforts will be made to get the message out.

If there are AA authors out there interested in participating in this poll, please e-mail Karen at hairylemony @ gmail. com (without the spaces) with the subject header ‘Please send me the survey'.The deadline for the survey to be completed and returned to Karen is March 1st 2007

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lost again

You may be right.

I may be crazy.

But I'm watching Lost again.

Even though the first six eps shown in the Fall were horridly boring and without an ounce of action, here I am again. And I've brought the hubster along...against his will, I might add.

I don't like looking like a fool. I'd been telling the Hubster how good Lost was and he'd resisted watching because, truth be told, we have a really poor track record. Seems like everytime we get into a show like Lost, i.e. the type of show that requires you to follow the story lines closely, because they're all tied together - it gets cancelled.

Hello, Daybreak!

In order to beat this jinx, for the first two seasons of Lost, I watched only the first two episodes and the last two. True, I'm clueless about all the small conspiracy bits, but for the most part I'm well-versed enough to watch it without feeling...well, lost.

Thanks Entertainment Weekly!

Anyway, the first time I break this tradition, of course Lost sucked. I sat through all six sucky episodes. So I know. And I was very close to not watching last night. But EW said the pace would be back to the show's fighting form. So I gave it a try.

Glad I did. Last night was typical of the Lost eps of yore. Or is yor?

What struck me most about last night episode, besides it being really good, was it hit very close to home, writing-wise.

I'm in the midst of TWISTED edits. My editor has suggested we cut some chapters - and not just one or two, but about six. Being that I'm much less neurotic than I was during edits for So Not The Drama, I didn't bat an eye at this suggestion.

No, seriously.

When I read through the recommended cuts, I realized - really won't impact the story, much. Matter of fact, their absence indeed improves the pace.

There's some finessing to do, to make sure the information won't be missed. But for the most part, these chapters are very cut-able.

Well, the Lost writers need to talk to my editor. I'm sure she could have told them that five of the six episodes shown in the fall could have easily been left as trash balls in the writing room. Literally, last night's episode should have most, the fourth episode shown in the fall.

Would we have wondered why Sawyer and Kate were suddenly closer? Or what all the tension between Jack and Juliette was about?

Maybe. But I'm betting we would have lived without all the backstory the fall episodes provided.

Better yet, a lot of what took place in six episodes could have been condensed into three. Bottom line, the writers of Lost suffered a bit from Popularity Anxiety, I think.

P.A. is when you find yourself the creator of something wildly popular. In the face of the success, you try to hold on to it. So what do you do? You go and change the formula that made the vehicle successful, in the first place.

I've always wondered how Lost would keep us engaged. Let's face it, either the story becomes how they come to live happily ever after on this island (a la Gilligans Island) or, how many of them perish in attempts to get off.

Stephen King (a big fan) implored the writers of Lost, don't overstay your welcome. I agree.

The fall episodes smack of people about to overstay their welcome.

Thank goodness, last night went back to the formula - moving the story forward and pushing the characters to their fate - live there happy or die trying to get off.

As a writer, I'm hoping I can follow my own advice!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Vanity, thy name is P

I love my brown cords.

One, they're brown, aka, the hottest fall color known to mankind.

I don't care what the fashionistas say is hot, year to year. For me, brown and orange are the two best fall colors. And my wardrobe has plenty of both.

Second, I purchased said favorite pants from the junior department.

The JUNIOR department.

Yes, this makes me very Carly Simon, you're so vain I bet you think this song is about you. Name me one woman who isn't a little vain when it comes to wanting to look nice in her clothes.

I mean, have some respect for the enormity of this - the Junior department!

Here's the hitch. The pants have never zipped well.

More specifically, the zipper would constantly slip.

The pants have one of those shortened zippers and they're low waist. So they're zipping around the most voluptuous part of my bod. Still, it wasn't that I couldn't zip them or had to fight to zip them. Just that inevitably, the zipper would end up...unzipped.

I've always convinced myself the zipper's constant habit of slipping throughout the day was the whole short zipper thing.

And for anyone asking, of course they fit!

But ya' know I've been doing this new exercise (2 inches lost in the waist and counting) and yesterday I zip the pants and ::gasp:: they stayed that way all day.

So, okay, maybe the zipper slippage was less the short zipper and more because my hips are so hipalicious. I'm admitting that now ONLY because I've finally gotten concrete evidence. Otherwise, I hadn't planned to cop to that without a scientific study and/or a lie detector test.

On another note...

It snowed last night. Not exactly the white out I'd like to see at least once a winter. But schools are closed today. So I'm home with the girls.

I bought them those thin rubbery sled thingies. But the snow is really soft. Not really sledding material.

Still, it's one of those nice, wintery days where shame on you if you don't maximize it - do a few fun indoor craft things, mess up the nice, neat whiteness in the yard and then have a healthy helping of comfort food. Now, that's winter!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Good Reviews Rock...Bad Reviews Roll

Veteran authors say, eventually you'll pay little attention to your book reviews.

I can see that.

There are so many elements to writing that an author juggles, ensuring the book gets reviewed among them, it's not strange that taking time to absorb a review would be a low priority.

But, I'm not a veteran author. I have, however, managed to go into the whole review aspect with a healthy dose of, "I can't control it, so..." and then you can fill-in-the-blank.

So, I'll...

*Rejoice over the good ones
*Lick my wounds if a review stings
*Move on to the next project

So far, so good.

Booklist said So Not The Drama was too long. Well, it's too long compared to the average teen lit book, true. But it's not longer than Harry Potter or War & Peace. So...I can live with that observation.

If the worst thing, so far, is its length, I'm doing good. Because, Booklist also said the dialogue was fast and funny and that it was a good friendship story.

That ain't a bad review by a long shot.

But, recently I received a genuinely all-good review from Little Willow over at Bildungsroman.

I'm starting to see that good reviews are like eating chocolate. You want to gorge yourself on them, even though you know you shouldn't. After all, too much of anything makes you an addict. And far as I know, there are no 12 Step programs for authors feigning for a good review.

Bad reviews are like a vegetable you don't care for. You don't want to eat it, but you'll close your eyes and stuff it in your mouth, anyway.

Besides, nothing keeps you grounded like someone pointing out your weaknesses - reminding you, "Ay, you're not so perfect, Miss Author Lady."

As long as I learn to live with the good, bad and ugly I just might survive in this industry.

For now, a big fat woo-hoo to Little Willow who totally got what So Not The Drama was all about.

It feels great to be understood.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ouch, that smarts

I was stalking myself…I mean reading one of my Google Alerts and it took me to G-Blog, the
Girls Life blog.

First, it’s really really…really, really weird to see people commenting about my book. I mean, really, really…really, weird.

The comments were interesting to read. It was fun and exciting to see readers defend their taste in books, recommend alternative reads and proudly announce to the world that reading is something they love to do.

But there was one comment that had my emotions churning. It said that DRAMA sounds like a The Clique novel.

Emotion one:
Pride - It's awesome that there's room at the inn for all types of books. If there weren't we'd be doing a huge disservice to the millions of readers out there.

Emotion two:
Hopeful - Many comments reinforced that every single book out there has its audience.

Emotion three:
Disappointed. And also, I couldn't help feeling a little...shoot, let me just say it, offended.

My offense has nothing to do with The Clique novels being good or not good. They're very popular. So good or bad are relative, anyway.

But I've read a The Clique novel, before, and they aren't my cuppa either - and for pretty much the same reason the commenter doesn't like them - the characters' wealth is almost like a character itself. The shallowness of the characters and the fact that designer brands and how many zeros are in mom and dad's income are huge factors in the book didn't appeal to me.

That's just me, though.

Still, if DRAMA ends up really being like that, I've failed at a "balanced" portrayal.

The comments are good insight into whether or not you can really judge a book by its cover...LOL or even its tag lines.

The clique in So Not The Drama is key. But, unlike The Clique, Drama's story doesn't only center around how important it is to be in the clique. It's about the paths of the friends and how they intertwine and sometimes tangle.

In the end, every book speaks for itself to whatever readers it appeals to. And DRAMA is on that journey now, waiting to find a home among some readers' hearts.

Hey, GL posse, keep reading...whether it's So Not The Drama or something else.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Curvy is the new thin

Everybody say it with me....Hallelujah!

Tyra Banks has gained thirty pounds since her Victoria's Secrets days. And Jennifer Hudson, who was a size 10 to start, had to gain weight in order to play Effie White in Dreamgirls. Weight she's since lost, by the way.

Yes, ladies, curvy is the new thin.

Now, can someone seriously make some jeans (affordable) for those of us with junk in our trunk?!

And for the record, size 10 isn't that big. The average black woman is probably a ten, if not a twelve.

Umm, that's not an actual stat. I have no friggin' idea what the real average is. All I know is, I was an eight when I had my first daughter and my body was bangin'! We shan't speak of my high school size - that's ancient history.

I'm a fourteen now. Getting to a size ten would be hella alright with me.

I was glad to see Tyra get snippy with those poking fun at her weight gain.

I mean, let's be serious. The girl is an amazon (5'10") and spent most of her life on the runway. Imagine the challenge it was for her to stay bone thin, that tall. I bet the second she retired, she had a buffet waiting for her, glad to finally eat as much as she wanted.

But it's not just Tyra and Jennifer who represent us normal sized women.

I watch The Hills and I've noticed that Lauren is quite hippy. She's thin up top, but her bottom is wide and a little thick.

And Beyonce has a body that says, I'm one biscuit short of being fat one day.

I'm not dogging her. She has a nice body. But B is thick as hell in the hips and thighs. And always has been. Check out those old Destiny's Child videos - you'll see what I'm talking about.

Hollywood may still be in love with the pencil thin. But it's good to see that more and more real-sized people are showing up on screen.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's Alive!

Today's the big day!

I finally switched from the old Blogger to the new.

Okay, Blogger made me switch. I went to sign on and it basically forced me to this new page that said, create a google account or die.

Oh, wait. That wasn't today's announcement. This is...

Today, Teens Read Too will open the contest for those who have said - I can't wait until Feb. 27th to get my DRAMA on. I need it NOW!

Remember, 10 lucky winners will get a copy of DRAMA throughout the month of Feb. If that isn't a good reason to get over TRT then maybe these are: they have a list of interviews with some really good authors, quizzes (the kind you wish they'd give in school) and lists of award-winning YA.

So, get thee to Teens Read Too and enter the contest.

Entering sounds so formal considering all you've gotta do is:

Send your name, mailing address, and email address to

Oh, but the January contests on TRT just ended yesterday, so don't be surprised (disappointed?) if the contest isn't up until later today. It's coming.

Okay, totally off the subject. But, can I say how psyched I am that this new blogger allows me to use color fonts again?

I know, I know. The old one did too. But without the tool bar, I'm hopeless. The only thing on the old toolbar was BOLD, ITAL, LINKS and a few other things I never used. I've been doing basic HTML for a long time now. But I don't use it everyday, so it's really easy to forget how to work that stuff.

And yes, I resisted changing over to the new one. In my defense, when I upgraded Yahoo mail it sucked. And I upgraded to the new I.E and I'm not loving that, either. So I was reluctant to face disappointment once more.

But, so far, so good.

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