Friday, March 30, 2007

Right On!

You know what's hot?

Picking up a magazine that I used to read cover-to-cover religiously, as a teen, and seeing my book in it.


That is so HOT!

Now granted, reading it cover-to-cover was easy because the whole mag consisted primarily of glossy posters of teen eye candy. But there were articles...sort of.

Okay, okay there were lots of Q&A type interviews and advice columns. The format doesn't matter. What matters, is that teen pop mags are nothing short of entertainment bibles for young readers. And no, I will not engage in a discussion about how healthy (or un) that is.

Some people read the Wall Street Journal. Some people read Right On!

Oops, did someone say Right On?

Well, speaking of Right On!, So Not The Drama is a Crave selection in the April issue. As in, readers should crave these movies, CDs and books!

As in, Right On! is telling their readers that my book is a hot pick.


Why yes, as a matter of fact I am totally stoked about this!

It's Right On! magazine, people!

My publicist is the shiznet for getting this press hit. The absolute bomb.

My bedroom wall was plastered with this magazine's pages. My mother could barely stand to come into my room because she said it felt like New Edition, Kurtis Blow and that guy with the delicious body who was in The Last Dragon were staring at her.

Not to mention, I purchased my fair share of new music and other items (lip gloss and various other non-essentials but gotta haves) because Right On! said so.

And I'm fairly certain that Right On! and Cynthia Horner - the ed director of the mag back in the day and youngest editor of a nationally published mag when she took the helm (Yes, I'm a total geek for knowing that!) - are responsible for my pop culture addiction.

Me and my girl, Nick, would tear through the magazine looking for the latest posters and every single piece of minutae we could find on our pop idol crushes.

Right On! is single-handedly responsible for me knowing the birthdays and zodiac sign of every single member of New Edition. That was important stuff, back in the day and there was only one place (or two) to get it.

I've long forgotton those things now...wait...I know Bobby Brown's birthday is some time in February. But you know the ol' mind ain't what it used to be.

Cynthia Horner was the luckiest adult I knew, always up close and personal with the stars I would have sold my right arm to chill with.

She was the woman!

One of the first persons I recognized, even in my young mind, as a "celebrity" journalist. Honestly, she felt more celebrity than journalist, always cheesing in the photos alongside actors and singers.

But as the editor of Right On! she was a star in her own right because she was the keeper of the information.

Cynthia's moved on, of course. The new EIC holding things down at Three Tres Tres Seventh Ave, is Danica Daniel.

It's so awesome that Right On! is still holding strong. If anyone doubts the economic power of the 13-18 demographic, they're ignoring the longevity of these mags. I mean, who knew Tiger Beat, Teen Beat, Word up! and Right On! would still be kicking all these years later?

I've witnessed the birth and demise of about half a jillon women's lifestyle mags over the last four years, alone. All the while teen pop magazines live on.

So for one of them to touch So Not The Drama's binding with its golden sword, dubbing it "hot," is very...well, hot.

And good thing I bought two copies. Princess A immediately scooped it up and disappeared into her room. Not because mom's book was in it. But because, singer, Mario was on the front.


Boy, the really know how to ground you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stop! This means Me

Apparently, some reporters from the New York Times have been totally meddeling in my business and decided that it was high time someone kept me from self-destructing. This article, was definitely talking to me.

I proudly wear the crown of the multi-taskers. Most Multi-taskers do. We are never ashamed of our unique talent to send an email, talk on the phone and polish off that memo to fellow co-workers about being better at sensitive listening.

What? You mean everyone doesn't attempt to kill two birds with one stone?

Reading the newspaper and listening to voice mails?

Balancing the checkbook and my department's budget at the same time? What? It means I only need to crunch numbers once that day!

Well, apparently, multi-tasking - if done at all - should be left to the very young. According to the article, they can recover faster from distractions. For those older than twenty-five, too much multi-tasking makes your brain or explode or something like that.

I can't remember, because I was reading the article and on the phone.

Seriously, I've already recognized that I need to slow down.

The evidence for me is my memory.

I used to have a sharp memory. But now, not so much.

I'm willing to admit that it's likely due to over multi-tasking. During my annual physical the Doc's explanation was, "Well people's memory weaken as they get older."

I do NOT like that theory.

It's not like I'm 80!

So yes, it's the multi-tasking, definitely.

I think I've gotten a little better.

I try to check emails and such in one block then head back to work. And during my early morning writing sessions I don't open email at all.

And let me tell you, that is a huge accomplishment!

But fellow Multi-taskers, let's pledge to slow down our juggling acts.

We need an oath.

I'll take a crack at it.

We, who juggle tasks in an effort to be more efficient promise to...

Hold up...I should probably check this email.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Scene It: VA Book 2007

I had such a good time at the Virginia Book of the Festival.

The scenic drive and the mountains, which stared back at me from my hotel room window, were lovely reminders of my time at good ol JMU. As a young sorority girl, about this time of year I'd start slacking, choosing to gaze and mind wander on the quad rather than sit in a stuffy classroom, learning.

Kiddies, do not try this at home. It takes a delicate balance of cramming and creativity to slack accurately.

One of the things I enjoyed about my weekend in Wahoo-ville, was the fetivals structure. Although many of the events were held at the Omni, there were lots of events occurring throughout the town. So every corner you turned, there was another panel or workshop.

Talk about surrounding yourself with the craft. It was a writer's dream!

The panel, which I shared with authors Doris Gwaltney (lovely lady) and Sara Holmes(very sweet) and agent, Laura Rennert (love agents with a wicked sense of humor and Laura's got one) was held at the Gravity Lounge.

This place is super hip. Books everywhere, a nicely stocked bar (no teetotalers allowed), a stage, and the entire place appropriately lit - as in dim but not stubbing your toe dark. The only thing missing were the hipsters clicking their fingers showing their appreciation for the spoken word of the day.

Sara, Doris and I suffered no delusions. We were aware that many people showed up for the panel to hear from Laura. Which, wasn't a bad thing. Indeed many of the questions were more agent-friendly than author. But we got in our fair share of commentary about life as authors and the road to publication. It made for a healthy balance.

The panel was my only obligation. The hubster and I spent a lot of time walking around the town, stuffing our faces and taking naps.

Hey, we have two kids and anytime we can sleep uninterrupted...we do!

So, I come back home well-rested - there's something I can't say very often - and to great news from my editor. So Not The Drama received a good review from Publishers Weekly.

I am so digging this author's life stuff.

Yes, please feel free to point me to this blog post and the above statement the next time I come crying about the hardships of the craft. By all means!

Such reminders are necessary to keep us sane.

Oh and if anyone has an e-copy of the PW review, can they send it to me? I cancelled my subscription last month (figures).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Writing A Novel - 100 Words At A Time

I've been participating in a writing exercise, 100 For 100, with the ladies (and some gents) over at the Yahoo Teen Lit group. We all promise to write at least 100 words a day for 100 days, with only one built in day off.

This idea, brought up by the wonderful Alesia Holliday, is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm telling you, it's a marvel in action.

The mind is a scary and complex thing. It refuses to engage if you ask it to compute too much information. Which is why I shy away from the Nanowrimo contests. But if you whittle that info into small chunkets, the brain becomes an amazing and dangerous tool.

Being that I have a novel to turn in early summer, 100 For 100 came at a perfect time. I highly recommend it.

In honor of my participation, I feel the need to wax philosophical. So, here are:

The Top 10 Reasons...
Why writing a novel 100 words at a time is the bees knees

Yes, I said the bees knees! Want to make something of it?

10. Who in the frick CAN'T write 100 measly words a day?!

I can sneeze that many in my sleep, with one hand tied behind my back and the Princesses bickering at my side.

9. I'm finally getting one over on that crafty bastard of a brain of mine.

Oh, it thinks its so hot needing all these special arrangements to write well - pop music (no louder than volume 2, please), low level artificial light (sunlight is preferable) and a near Zen-like quiet. My brain has more requirements than a diva on tour! But for 100 words, I'm able to whip those out before it even realizes we've gotten down to work.

8. Once I begin, I've forgotten how much I'd rather be watching The Hills.

7. You never (okay, rarely) only write 100 words a day!

6. There's this little animal called, guilt, that is immediately fed and silenced.

Writers write. But sometimes we resent having to do it in place of family time or watching M*A*S*H re-runs. And sometimes that resentment leads to slacking. But once you check your 100 off the list, the sense of accomplishment is quite grand.

5. It's changed my writing clock (and that's a good thing).

I used to be a night-writer, you know, needing to meet all of my brain's requirements and all. But now, knowing all I've gotta do is dash off 100 words, I have no problem getting up early before the rest of the house awakens. I can always do more later in the day, if I want. But getting my words out of the way early is a boost for the day.

4. It's a routine without shackles.

Anything you write beyond 100 words is GRAVY. So, if you look up and realize you've been at it for a few hours, you can move on to other things (sleep!) without the aforementioned guilt monkey on your back.

3. Getting your daily fill is good for you.

Whether I write 500 or 2,000 words that day, it feels good just getting down to it. Writing is like exercise (at least for me) - something you know you need to do but aren't always hopping to do it. But I use the same trick for exercise by telling my mind I'm only doing 10 minutes. Three sets of ten minutes later, I've gotten in a decent workout.

2. If I stick with the program, I'll have an entire novel finished by the end.

This of course, assuming I'm writing more like 1,000 words a day. Shh...don't tell my brain!

1. It turns writing back into a lifestyle vs. a job.

I write everyday anyway - for my FTJ or blogging. But I've gone days before without touching my WIP. Now, everyday I'm back in the world of Del Rio Bay with my characters, making me a cast member in the story instead of an out-of-towner who drops in now and then.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Sin of Validation

I could say that everytime I sit to write, I'm confident that I'm producing the best fiction I'm capable of.

I could say that, but I'd be lying.

On good writing days, I could say it confidently and honestly. But on bad writing days I'm guilty of a sin, one I hope afflicts others as I'd hate to be alone in this - it's a creeping, crawling need to be validated. To have someone say what you've written is good.

Think puppy dog waiting for a pat on the head.

The problem with needing validation is it never completely subsides.

I thought once So Not The Drama had snagged me an agent I'd be fine. Or at the very least confident that I could reproduce the same work each time.

Pssh, yeah right.

Today, as you may have already gathered, was not a good writing day.

Hate those days!

Bad writing days, for me, are when I know what I want to write - but it comes out stilted. It literally feels like my characters are slogging through the action, going through the motions.

Only, I can't blame them. I'm the one puppeteering.

On bad writing days, I desparately want to show the work to someone and have them hang on to every word and validate that it's good and that I'm simply a hopeless nut case too loopy to recognize my own brillance.

The good news is, there's always tomorrow.

Most likely I'll emerge from today with a better state of mind, ready to make those words pop.

The bad news is, the day hasn't ended yet and I'm torn between leaving the mss alone and tinkering it with it until it does what I want it to do.

I created these characters, dangit!

Why won't they behave?

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Monday, March 19, 2007

That's Mularkey!

I'm sure I'm not the only YA writer who, at some point or another, has heard the words, "A teen wouldn't say that."

Publishing industry gatekeepers are experts, no doubt. But no matter how similiar the teen animal can be, there's no real accounting for what may come out of an individual teen's mouth.

Disclaimer: Writers are stubbornly loyal to their words. Especially if we believe said words in question are true to our character. Translation: We can be wrong, aplenty!

I often wonder if my ability to talk "teen" is due to a level of immaturity I've retained. Make no mistake, I'm well aware I'm an adult. And should I forget, the regular slew of bills marked with my name are loud-mouthed reminders.

Inner teen or not, I'm around teens quite a bit. So, I hear their chatter in my sleep. God help me.

But anytime one of them says something my gut tells me the publishing industry would label "un teen-like"...well, I've gotta gloat, err... share.

Over the weekend, I initiated a hot game of Phase 10 with Princess A and her cousin, Lady T. One hour in and a swift kick to my overtly competitive ego later, the game was rolling along. The girls were on Phase 5 and I was stuck, pathetically at Phase 2. Okay, maybe 3. Either way, I was sucking up the joint.

So Lady T plucks a card from the deck, rolls her eyes and exclaims in this disheartened tone, "Okay, this is mularkey," before laying a big old SKIP card down...skipping yours truly.

But I was too busy cracking up over her utterly retro exclamation to care that she'd skipped me.
#1 I don't know what she was so upset about. I was the one being skipped!

#2 Mularkey?!

What is this?


But she said it, I swear. Princess A as my witness.

For the next 24-hours we proceeded to randomly shout out "Okay, that's mularkey," then fall out snickering.

Maybe you had to be there.

But the look of disgust on her face and the resigned sigh as if it hurt her to have to skip me, preventing me from reaching the next phase (again!) was snort inducing.

I have a point here...

Teens and kids say the darndest things. And now and then, they pull out old school phrases just for the hell and probably to exert some individuality among their peers who are all using the same slang.

Who knows.

But let me say this: S, if "mularkey" ends up in my next mss and you challenge it as an "un teen like" phrase I will be forced to have the girls enact this little scene for you.

It's gold, I tell you.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Prom's Come Early

Ahhh, Prom.

Sleek dresses, up-do's and...demons.

Maybe it's not like any prom you've ever been to - but my fellow Class of 2K7 mate and author, Rosemary Clement-Moore invites you don your best duds - long gloves and tiara optional - and try prom, her way in Prom Dates From Hell.

School Library Journal says "Sharp writing and a satirical portrayal of the high school social scene make this an enjoyable read in the vein of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

So, P's added another one to her growing TBR list, because there were definitely a few Prom Queens I wouldn't mind feeding to the hounds of hell. At least I can live vicariously through Rosemary's debut.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Doubletake Duos

Has anyone else noticed the delightfully odd new R&B trend?

I know, technically it takes three instances to declare a trend "official." But...fug it, consider it declared. Besides, it's the music industry. We already know that if it works for one artist, all the labels will be doing it in short order.

So, you heard it hear first.

For some reason, R&B artists are hooking up to sing. They aren't duets in the tradtional sense - more like a new twist on the remix.

It came to my attention when I was watching Young Joc's video for First Time. Both Marques Houston and Trey Songz - the sixth man of R&B - are in it. Trey came out during the windstorm that was Chris Brown and Ne-yo's debut and was instantly left in the...well, wind.

Now, he's trying to make a righteous comeback by playing "right time, right place." And it may work, because I like the track.

I don't get why Young Joc needed TWO R&B singers. But it worked for him.

Marques Houston pretty much owns the bulk of the song. But Trey does his thing, too.

Then, Omarion remixes Icebox by adding, not a rap segment, but Usher.


An R&B singer remixing his own song by adding another (wildly popular) singer?


Me likey!

I wasn't that keen on Icebox. Seeing Omarion perform it live at the Scream Tour 5 didn't help matters any. Think, way too much music and not nearly enough quality vocals.

But I like the joint with Usher mixed in. Not sure if O knew this, but Usher has a level of smoothness to his delivery that he lacks. Still, if it keeps the thing on the charts a few more weeks, I think that's an ego blow Omarion is willing to take.

I think this new duety-remix thing has a lot of potential. Here are a few hook ups I'd like to see:

Ciara & MJB
The Queen of Hip Hop Soul and the new Aaliyah (sorry, couldn't resist)...I think this would be hot! They would need a producer who's really good at melding sounds though. Dear God, not Diddy! Maybe Pharrell.

Chaka Khan and Erykah Badu
Erykah Badu sampled a Chaka song, once. It was only the underlying beat. But she performed it live on Dave Chappelle and that joint was fire! So I could definitely see the two of them getting down.

Erykah Badu and Jill Scott
Okay, I cheated. They collaborated when Dave Chappelle filmed his Block Party movie. Oh.My.God. I would buy the DVD just for this performance. Seriously. It's them on that Roots track, You Got Me. And there's history there. Apparently, Jill Scott was the original artist on that track. But the song came out before Jill was known to the public. Badu was already out. So someone - the label I guess - encouraged/made the Roots go with Badu for the track. So having them perform it live, together...whew. Nice!

Usher and Justin Timberlake
Look, let's all the Usher fans and JT fans make peace. Yes, yes, Usher came out first. And yes, JT's style is somewhat similiar. But let's be serious. Usher was begat by Michael Jackson who was begat by James Brown. So get over it. If you're an artist, there's almost always someone out there who influenced your style.

I'd like to see them do something along the lines of that Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson, The Girl Is Mine - a friendly duel within the song.

Ne-yo and Stevie Wonder
Ne-yo is fast becoming the songwriter to go to. Stevie Wonder has a catalog that can reach from here to Kalamazoo. With the right producer, I think they could make a really interesting love song.

I could go on. Bottom line, the key to these duos working is in the production.

But there are plenty of really good producers out there, right now.

So, I think someone needs to be on the horn.

Come on guys, have your people call their people and give the people what they want!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Pt 2

(I'll admit I'm at a loss on how to make the Kodak Gallery photos larger. Please send your vision bill to me after straining to see these. LOL)

So after leaving the Borders signing on Saturday, I went to my mom's for a few hours to max until party time.

Already, I was starting to feel the day come down on me.

Note to self: Don't work out at 6:30 a.m. on a day that you have two book promo events!

Admitedly, I was feeling frazzled by the time I got to the party. But, I still had a blast and here were my favorite parts:

* Watching the Hubster play Julie, the Cruise Director. Nothing like a man who can work a room.

* When the pastor blessing the books attributed them to my mom instead of me. Hey, mom, you're an author! I know I wasn't the only one in the room snickering.

* Seeing a sea of people mixing, mingling, wining and dining. It looked like a great party...too bad I never got any wine or dine.

* Meeting fellow 2K7 author, Laura Bowers and her hubby. So cool when people are willing to travel just for little ol me. Err, that's not Laura's husband below. That's Secret Society Girl, author, Diana Peterfreund.

*Speaking of traveling, several of my best friends came up for the party. Nise rolled down from the Dee dot Cee. My girl Karen from NC; my girl, Nick flew in from Tampa and my front Leia - heretofore known as Gayle - came up from VA. As Whodini once said, "Friends. How many of us have them?" Me, I do!!

* My cheer fam giving me a group hug when I became noticeably cranky. Sorry, guys, I was hella tired.

* Diana Peterfreund gave me an Advanced copy of her sequel, Under the Rose. I went all school-girl giggly like I tend to do around books. Oh, admit it, you're so jealous, people!

* The fact that Diana spent most of her day in Annapolis, because she also came down for the Borders signing. Have I said lately how much the YA community rocks? Have I? Huh? Have I? This pix below represents where I was most of the party.

* Having a very classic family moment trying to take a picture with my aunts and cousins. As they argued around me about where people should sit and stand, I turned to my one aunt, who helped me manage some book biz earlier and said "You're not managing this." And I don't know what she whispered to my other aunt but we were camera ready within seconds.

Told you, I was getting cranky. Not a good look. But this is a handsome shot.

* I heard the food was really good. So even though I didn't taste it, I'll have to say the food was still a great part of the night - taken care of by Three Harrison's Catering.

* My friend Meg must have snapped a bajillion shots as the day's official paparazzi. Did I mention she's a friend and we didn't pay her? And yet, she took photos at both Borders and the release party. Some things can still amaze me and friendship is one of them. Look, she managed to get into a photo!!

* My cousin Raheem did a little Hip Hop for us. He was such a good sport. We could't get the sound system to work. And you know us creative types - want everything just right for our art. Still, he winged it for us and did his thing.

* My special gift to my guests was a performance by Princess A and her friend, Lady A. I figured people would much rather hear from real teens than me reading a chapter. And the girls were great! We rehearsed once a week for a month and they really captured So Not The Drama's characters.

Our narrator, my friend, Mary, introduces...


& Mina

Tensions flare

* I got to meet Nova, he of the witty blog that cracks me up!

* We sold out another venue. Page's Bookstore was the night's bookseller and she sold 62 books that night leaving the crowd hungry for more DRAMA. Hopefully everyone who didn't get one will still go out and scoop up a copy.

* When a friend of my mom and her granddaughter came up to me excitedly to relay they'd both started So Not The Drama earlier that day and were enjoying it. The granddaughter was 13 and she asked if she could take a picture with me. Me? She had the brightest smile on her face like she'd just discovered the coolest thing in the world. The fact that, that "thing" was my book was...priceless.

* Bringing some closure to this part of the journey. I feel like I've sent So Not The Drama out into the world well prepared.

The road ahead is paved with book festivals and speaking opportunities. Oh, and there's the little matter of that sequel in December.

I've got a cover to share, soon!

Ten Questions That Rock - GCC Style: Melanie Lynn Hauser

It's that time again, cliquesters. P's hanging out with another author in the Clique Lounge. Melanie Lynn Hauser, author of Supermom Saves The World.

P's totally digging that title because she's been known to don the super mom cape now and again.

Melanie, step up to the mic, please!

TCL: Pick one: If you could enter your MC into a MTV-style Celebrity Deathmatch, what protagonist would you challenge and why?

MLH: Oh, definitely - Super Mom vs. Wonder Woman Celebrity Deathmatch! How hot would that be??

TCL: Shoes say a lot about a person, what type of shoe are you?

MLH: I'm a Born casual flip flop kind of a woman - not budget brand, a little expensive, actually - but stylish AND comfortable at the same time.

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

MLH: I used to be more character-driven, but I sense a shift in my writing, and I'm drawn now more to books with complicated plots. BUT - the character is still where I always start.

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

Chick-lit Bridget Jones
Best seller 8th Wonder of the World
Best Band EverFleetwood Mac
Most rockin’ authorStephen King

TCL Says: We second that vote for most rockin' author!

TCL: Name the Top 3 books on your To Be Read (TBR) List

MLH: "Hells Belles" by Jackie Kessler; "Broken for You," and "The Adventures of Max Tivoli"

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

MLH: There would be no one trend; people would start clamoring for books, all books, with the same fervor with which they search YouTube.

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

MLH: Can't say, because the first book was optioned for film. So I don't want to tick off whoever might eventually play her.

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

MLH: Um, I can't think of one! I've met too many authors, and while they're all uniformly nice, very few of them are what you'd call camera-ready!

TCL Says: Ouch!

TCL: What TV show do you watch that you’re ashamed to admit liking?

MLH: "American Idol." Sigh.

TCL: SSP: Tell the cliquesters why your book should be in their TBR list.

MLH: Because my book is about teenagers and their mothers, really; wrapped up in all the shiny, fun superhero stuff, you'll recognize yourself and your mom, I guarantee it. And you might even walk away with a better understanding of each other.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Photo Test


Debut Signing Pictorial

It started out as a typical Saturday morning - rising early to get my work out in.

Having a quickie breakfast.

Heading to the mall.

But then...

Me, so lonely

Hey...a customer!

How'd they sneak in?! They're never this quiet at practice.

Look...a line!

Author of Secret Society Girl, Diana Peterfreund came to hang out. YA authors rock!

Happy DRAMA customers

Hanging out in the bookstore on a Saturday...whodda thunk it?

Cheer love! Okay, girls, no push ups until September.

My last reader of the day.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Pt 1

So Not The Drama is officially, officially on its own now.

On Saturday, I had my debut signing and launch party to introduce the book to friends, family and curious passersby in Annapolis Mall.

I promise, pictures are forthcoming.

Until then, picture this...

Tiny table off to the right of the Borders cash register.

A table of So Not The Drama copies.

Me, sitting behind it, waiting.

But before I had the chance to wonder if I'd be sitting there for a full hour, alone, a little lady came to the table and introduced herself. She was a classmate of my daughter's. We chatted a bit and she went to purchase her book.

Next thing I know, MADNESS thanks in very large part to my favorite t(w)eens, my cheer squad.

To say that my cheer squad drew attention is an understatement.

One of my fellow coaches had organized the girls and made sure they all arrived at the same time. So as I'm signing a book (believe it or not, of someone I didn't know) they're silently lining up off to my left.

How you can line up nearly 20 t(w)eens silently is a mystery to me. But it was done, because when I looked up from signing the book ::SURPRISE:: they were there.

It was the sweetest sight my eyes ever did see!

Chaos ensued, shortly thereafter.

But in the midst of chaos, I was thrilled to meet LydaP from the BlueBoard and Diana Peterfreund, author of Secret Society Girl swung through.

And why? Because YA authors rock!!!

Borders was not prepared for the unknown debut, YA author to cause pandemonium. But with my girls giggling, chatting and milling around the tight area of the register, things escalated to a minor stir.

My apologies to the poor Borders customers who weren't there for DRAMA. In the confusion, my girls were heading to the register in the wrong direction.

Soon, people passing by in the mall were looking through the windows of Borders wondering what the heck was going on.

In addition to my girls, other people began showing up for me. I was speechless.

My girls, I was prepared for.

But I had half a dozen teen girls, who I didn't know, buy the book. It floored me! It also felt pretty darn awesome.

Borders ran out of books.

They had 31 copies in stock and no doubt figured they'd end the day with 21. But they ended up having to buy books from me.

Now, that felt sweet!!!

Final total: 55 copies of So Not The Drama sold and one elated, but growing sleepy author.

And the day was nowhere near over...

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's A YA Thing...Try and Understand

So, I've had time to sleep on the whole miscoding thing. And I'm...still angry!

Wait...okay, first the sweet thoughts.

I HEART the YA community. This is a community of writers so supportive, so willing to circle the wagons around "one of their own," it's an awesome experience.

Two years ago, I discovered the Teen Lit Group. If it weren't for them I'd still be wandering the publishing desert in search of an agent. I'd still be dealing with ups and downs alone without cyber hugs and virtual chunky monkey ice cream.

More than a year ago, I discovered the Blue Board. If it weren't for that cozy nook, I'd be without a comprehensive resource tool to get insider info on different editors, publishing houses, processes or a place to talk about who I don't heart on American Idol.

When Borders miscoded So Not The Drama as African American, it didn't just inhibit my ability to reach my young readers (and that's HUGE) - it also distanced me from a place I call home, YA.

:: this is DRAMA waving to its peers from across the bookstore::

My book can be cateogrized a lot of things - juvenile, humor, social issues, teen lit, fiction, contemporary, soap lit. I don't care which one of those you pick as long as it remains a Young Adult!

A book that sits among the adult fiction titles will never be seen as YA to any adult who may consider So Not The Drama for their young reader. And it won't be SEEN at all by a young reader because, well, those crazy kids, wouldn't you know it, they roll right to their own section of the bookstore when they're looking for books.

Go figure!

What in the world will we do with kids today? They're just too smart for their own good, looking for YA in the YA section!


Over the the last two years, I've given my fair share of advice to aspiring writers. One of them is - don't fret over categorizing your books, leave that to the industry. They'll get it right. They'll know what to call your book.

Man, do I have egg on my face.

This advice, apparently, does not apply to everyone...namely me.

Nonetheless, thanks everyone who has:

*Shouted out a kind word to me.

*Reminded me that despite this, it's a wonderful thing to have So Not The Drama on shelves (albeit in the wrong section).

*Vowed to secretly move the book to its rightful spot on the shelves (you go, rebel authors!).

* Felt my anger, confusion and bafflement

Thanks everyone who are:

* Purchasing/have purchased a copy

*Booktalking So Not The Drama and sharing it's tale.

* Educating booksellers where DRAMA isn't or is shelved as African American that the book is first and foremost a YA

* In the struggle alongside me and understand that no matter whether we're WWB (writing while black), we're YA writers first.

Most of all, thanks to people who understand that it's a YA thing!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Season-less Look

I'm a fashonista wannabe.

I don't follow trends, I just like what I like. And if I think an outfit looks nice, than it's hot to me. I don't care what anyone else thinks.

Fashion is as subjective as writing!

For the last two years I've been big into the season-less look for Fall and Winter. You know, when you maximize your wardrobe throughout the year by re-working traditional summer/spring pieces with traditional fall/winter items.

It's not only a good look, but smart.

So, I'm all about defying Mother Nature by wearing exactly what I want, when I want to. But let's get a few things straight...there's season-less and there's out of season. Allow me to ponder the differences.

Season-less: Capris, flood pants and gauchos

Rock them with boots when it's cold. Hook them up with cutesy sandals (heel or flat) once the weather turns.

Out-of-Season: Any of the above worn in the winter with any other shoe except a boot!

Season-less: Boots. Yes, practically any boot can be worn all year round with the right combo of mini skirt, short-shorts or baby doll dress. Ummm...except maybe suede. Just thinking of wearing suede in July makes me sweat.

Out-of-season: Flip flops anytime of year outside of summer, spring or cheerleading competitions. Sorry. I just think it looks insane to wear flip flops when it's twenty below, outside.
Season-less: Tees. I love tee shirts and short-sleeved tops. But when it's cold they must be layered! Respect winter and allow it it's time in the sun, so to speak. Warm weather states are exempt from this rule.

Out-of-season: Walking around with no sleeves (or jacket) or God forbid a tank top in the dead of winter.

Season-less: Several layers that can be easily peeled off. I hate wearing coats! Blegh! That's why I'll wear a long sleeved tee, layered with a short-sleeved, a cropped jackt of some sort, a scarf and the fingerless gloves (love these!). For where I live, this is enough to get me through most winter days. If I'm wearing a coat it must be hella cold (like Tuesday).

Out-of-season: Wearing no protection from the elements. While you may look cold, you don't look cool walking outside in 20 degree weather wearing a thin cotton jacket or no jacket at all with a scarf. I know the "bare" look is in. But, it's winter. It's okay to cover up.

Season-less: Socks. Have you checked out the sock section lately? There's some really cute footwear out there. Knee socks, footie socks, tights. Even for the person who hates wearing socks they've created the footies to cover only the toes and the liner, whose sole job is to cover the bottom and just the edge of your foot. It's barely a sock! There's on excuse for not wearing socks with these options at your disposal.

Plus, you can have so much fun with socks. I've been known to wear dressy black slacks with a bright pair of yellow socks that have "What?!" all over them in baby blue and hot pink. The pants are too long for you to see them. But it brightens my mood to know I have on a silly pair of socks.

Out-of-season: No socks. Winter, people. Winter!

Here's the thing, at the end of the day you have to do you. I'm just saying, it's so easy to break rules of fashion and still look good doing it. So why not?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Heaven! Or...when reviewers "get it"

The other day, I received an email from, Amber, the teen reviewer of YA Books Central. She admitted that she'd enjoyed So Not The Drama more than she expected. Like many people who see the pink cover, hear the word "clique" and read the book summary, she went into reading it thinking it was "just another clique-y" novel.

She's the second person (at least who has told me, directly) to admit - it's not.

And I love when DRAMA exceeds people's expectations of what it is or may be.

Her feedback was priceless, because she's a member of the audience So Not The Drama was intended for. Actually, she's a bit older, which is even better.

There's something about a positive review from a young reader that...the feeling is indescribable. But it's somewhere between ecstasy and downright giddiness.

I wrote the book thinking it would likely appeal to middle schoolers - solely because industry standard says your reader will be about 2-3 years younger than your protagonist.

Amber's positive review of DRAMA proves that industry standard is guesswork at best. And it reinforces what most writers already know - the reader that likes your story is the reader that likes your story. There's no profiling system to tell you who that may be.

We wish there were. It sure would make promotion and marketing easier. But it's a creative art not science.

But I digress...

I'm having fun hearing people's (surprise?) reaction to the fact that DRAMA isn't anything like they thought it was going to be.

I love that readers are "getting it." And by that, I mean simply, they're opening their mind and hearts to the characters and realizing (just as my characters do) that you can't - honestly can't judge a book by its cover.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

My Girls!

Okay, so I'm supposed to be fulfiling my 100 for 100 today.

It's a writing exercise I'm doing with a bunch of writers from the Teen Lit Group. We all promise to write at least 100 words a day for the next 100 days. If I do it and do it right (i.e. actually write at least 1,000 words a day) I should be able to get That's What's Up! (book 3 of the DRB Clique series) done.

So far, I'm on track getting in my 100. And of course I'm writing more than 100. But the words aren't flowing today. Grr!

Then, one of my cheer parents sent me photos from Nationals.

Yay, a good distraction.

So I had to post a few.

Check out the little ladies that take up a lot of my time and thoughts, nine months out of the year.

Aren't they cute? A little team bonding before we hit the stage.

The Coaches are mighty relaxed before the big moment

They make me so proud! How come it never looks this pretty at practice?!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

GL Giving Away DRAMA

The So Not The Drama ARC Who Goes There? Contest may be over, but there's still a way to score a free copy.

Girls Life Magazine is giving away five copies of DRAMA. But hurry, the contest won't be around long.

Head over and enter today. It's the last contest on the page.

My fave part?

The contest code is Diva Drama.

Oh, that's so P!!!

I'm Late But They're Still Winners

Gah! I meant to post this earlier today.

But I forgot to forward the winning names to my Yahoo address.

I contemplated asking Jen to re-forward them to me. But why put more work on her because I forgot to do something?

Then I thought I'd ask Magee to forward them back to me (because, ahh, I was the one who originally forwarded them to her).

Keeping up with me?

Again, I hate making someone else work because I was zipping around too fast to get it done, properly.

So I said - well I'll do it when I get home from work.

Except, once I left the house this morning at 7:40 I didn't get back into it until 8:55 tonight.

Caught a few minutes of the NAACP Image Awards.

Got caught in the web that is email, website updates and my favorite blogs.

Finally, ready to head to bed and...hello, P, you forgot to announce the last two winners of the So Not The Drama ARC Who Goes There? Contest.

The voices in my head are no joke. They may not always send reminders when I need them...but they always send them.


Congratulations to
The final two winners of my very first contest!!
::confetti:: ::balloons:: ::horns:: ::celebration:: ::jubilation::
Thank you, Teens Read Too for hosting the contest. Jen, you're a gem!
And special thanks to everyone who entered the contest. I hope you enjoy So Not The Drama. And remember, if you do, head on over to Amazon and drop a short review.
Remember what I said about the positive karma being good for the universe? It's a beautiful thing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Saga of Length

Many of you know that I've struggled with the length of So Not The Drama.

What started out as a 65,000 word book grew to 100,000 during the editorial process. (Don't Get It Twisted stands at a balanced 83,000). I nearly cried when I saw the copy edited version, because it was so long.

I won't call the issue of length a sore topic with me, but it's definitely a sensitive area. I smile graciously when the length is mentioned, while bristling every so slightly inside.

My editor assured me that thanks to Harry Potter, length of YA books isn't nearly as monumental a deal as it once was. She also said So Not The Drama flows and thus, the book doesn't read "long."

So I've come to terms with the size of So Not The Drama and I take some people's initial reaction to in stride. Still, you always feel like you have to defend yourself or, at the very least, explain how the book turned out so large.

So here goes:

- That's how many words it took for me to tell the story. DRAMA is the first in a series. It's the story of how the Del Rio Bay Clique is formed and it sets the tone for the rest of the series.

- I wrote DRAMA with the avid reader in mind. For the reader who loves books to the point that curling up with one for hours isn't just a regular past time but one of their favorites. Fair warning, based on size alone, So Not The Drama, may be intimidating for a reluctant reader.

- I'll use one of my all-time favorite authors (that's right, "the" King) who in defense of verbosity says "I think that in really good stories, the whole is always better than the sum of its parts." King goes on to say, "It's the journey that counts, and if it takes a felled rainforst to get there, so be it."

Now look, I'm NOT Stephen King. Not close. Not comparing my work to his. But I agree with his defense.

I've never balked at the size of a book - not now, not when I was young. But I'm an avid reader. Long books (long, good books) are manna from heaven.

I'm no longer worried about DRAMA's thickness. Good thing since I can't control it, now!

But I'm hopeful a few reluctant readers may tackle it. And here's why...

My aunt called last night. She received her copy of DRAMA. Her usual book flavors are biographies and other non-fiction. She admitted being intimidated by DRAMA's size, despite acknowledging that if it were a non-fic she'd relish the thought of jumping into it. After spending the bulk of her day avoiding opening the book, she finally gave in.

And guess what happened?

She found herself pulled into it.

We talked for a half hour about what she was enjoying about it and how she hoped her granddaughter (my cousin) who is the perfect age for the book, would try and see past the size.

I hope so too.

I understand that not everyone likes long books. It's what separates the occasional reader from the regular one.

So, my encouragement to reluctant readers is- the only way to know if you'll like a book is to start reading it. If you ever utter "this book is too long," while you're in the middle, it means the book isn't holding your interest. Because if you're enjoying a story, you want it to go on and on...and on.