Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ten Questions That Rock: GCC Style - Joni Rodgers

Is it Thursday aldamnready?!

I don't know what creature is eating up the time around here, but he needs to go on a diet. This week went by way too fast, not to mention the month of May.

P's heading to the Big Apple (watch out BEA) and while I always see many sights that inspire blogging when in the big city, I'd be lying to myself and you if I said I was gonna. But before I fade to black, let's welcome Joni Rodgers, author of The Secret Sisters.

Joni, can you hold down the fort while I do a little hob nobbing with the lit set?!

TCL: If you could enter your MC into a MTV-style Celebrity Deathmatch, what protag would you want on your Celeb Deathmatch tag team and why?

JR: I’d want to have the brash, tough-talking Lily on my tag team. Serving a long prison term for a drunk driving accident in which a little girl was killed, Lily adapts to her harsh environment and ultimately discovers in the prison library that her mind is still free to fly. I loved writing her potty-mouthed inmate dialogue. She gets to say all the things I don’t have the guts to say.

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

JR: Striding the streets of NYC, tromping the woods in Texas, or bumming on the white sand beach in Florida, I live in my multi-colored Crocs.

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

JR: It’s all about the characters. For me the plot is a vehicle for their inner journey.

TCL Says: A writer after my own heart. Power to the characterrati!

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

Chick-lit = legs on the cover
Best seller = PLEASE, GOD, PLEASE!!!!
Best Band Ever = Metallica
Most rockin’ author = Annie Proulx

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

JR: I’m on a quest to read every novel that’s won the Pulitzer Prize. Coming up, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

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

JR: Broad-minded books that inspire readers to be better people. (Oh, geez, I sound like a Miss America candidate quacking about world peace.)

TCL Says: Now wave pretty to the people and smile.

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

JR: I think Ashley Judd could perfectly capture the painfully fragile Pia, who surprises herself when she discovers an inner core of strength and sensuality. The brash, tough-talking Lily needs someone with both courage and comic timing. Sandra Bullock, maybe? Toni Collette would bring humor and humanity to totally uptight Beth. And as I was writing dialogue for the sly and sexy con artist Dalphine, I was hearing the honeylicious voice of Shohreh Aghdashloo.

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

JR: My first novel was up for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, and the brilliant Sherman Alexie was on the judging panel. When I met him a couple of years later at BookExpo, he told me how much he’d loved the book and gave me a big hug and…mmmmmmmy goodness. He is gorgeous and smelled great and I never fully recovered.

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

JR: I watch very little TV, and I hate reality TV especially, but my 18-year-old daughter and I have a standing date for the artsy Wednesday night shows on Bravo: Project Runway, Shear Genius, Top Design, and Top Chef. (And I would just like to say here and now that Sam was robbed on Top Chef last season. Robbed, I tell you! Rage on, Sam!)

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.

THE SECRET SISTERSwon't show up in any school libraries, because it has a lot of sexual content. But the message of redemption and a portrayal of strong women makes it a great book for girls who can handle the R-rated read. I read Erica Jong’s FEAR OF FLYING when I was in 11th grade, and it had a lot of impact.

What better time for a steamy read, then summer? You know what to do...

Friday, May 25, 2007


I'm not happy about my tendency to be obsessive compulsive about things.

Like, I freak whenever anyone asks me my "favorite" anything. Because I don't have faves as much as I have streaks of obsession.

Right now, I'm obsessed with Ne-yo's song, Say It and Facedown by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Once my obsession wanes, it doesn't mean I dislike those things. But they're added onto a huge pile of other songs I've obsessed over. Don't ask me to choose just one. It depends on my mood, the day, the time, the weather.

I'm also quite obsessed with Mocha Frappacinos. Mmmm!

I've promised to only have one a week. That's proving to be really hard to do. But I'm trying.

Where my OCD comes in handy, though, is for writing.

I just finished That's What's Up! the third in the Del Rio Bay Clique series. First, let me say how great it feels to not just finish, but finish ahead of schedule!

My deadline for getting it into my eddy was June 1. Hello, an entire week ahead of schedule?

Why, yes I am the shit.

No, seriously, it feels good to be finished.

And I'm not so sure about that self-imposed break I intended to take all of June. As I mentioned in another post, the idea for book 4 (Who You Wit'?)came to me last week and I've already started writing. This story has me in its grip and I can't see taking a vacation from it.

When you ignore a writing compulsion, you risk missing out on the emotion of the story screaming to be told. So no break just yet.

And typical of me - I'm done. So I should be lying back taking a nap, watching TV, reading for pleasure or something, right?

No, I'm blogging!

I have three words for you...


Ten Questions That Rock: GCC Style - Becky Motew

Yay, a long weekend!! Anyone besides me need this really really bad?!

Before you hit the beach or the mountains or wherever you retreat for a three-day siesta, check out my chat with Becky Motew, author of Coupon Girl. I love that title. I've been known to be somewhat of a...frugal chick, so I'm totally down with coupons.

Err...I'm probably taking this way too literally. So why don't I let Becky take the floor.

Becks, you're on!

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

BMo: I would have my character Jeanie challenge Scarlett O’Hara. She’d kick her ass (and she’d remember it tomorrow).

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

BMo: I like open-toed high heels, but not high-priced. Athletic sneaks would be second.

TCL says: You mean there are high heels that aren't high priced? I've been getting screwed!

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

BMo: Gosh, which am I? I think I am a plot girl because something has to happen, right? If there’s no story, there’s nothing to talk about.

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

Chick-lit: Chick-lit covers a lot of ground, some good and some not good. The best chick lit is really really funny and women will ALWAYS want to read about themselves and laugh. Chick lit may end up being called something else, but it won’t go away.
Best seller DaVinci Code

Best Band Ever Killers

Most rockin’ author Jane Austen

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

Dress Rehearsal by Jennifer O’Connell
Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson
Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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

BMo: Books about ex-nuns, like the one I'm writing

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

BMo: Joan Cusack because she has that wonderful empathetic quality and I think she could really portray a hangover.

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

BMo: John Irving. He’s deathly cute and a great writer. Also, my son was on the wrestling team so I could converse knowledgeably with JI about weight classes. Hey. It couldn’t hurt, right?

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

BMo: MTV Real World

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.

BMo: My character Jeanie is well shown on the cover. She is a girl who is going places by herself and having fun doing it. She likes guys and falls in love, disastrously sometimes, but she doesn’t NEED a guy. Her life rocks on its own terms.

So, it's a long weekend and a perfect time to catch up on some reading. Go to the bookstore, do not past go and get your copy of Coupon Girl.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What a day!

Every now and then, I have one of those marathon days - frantic from start to finish.

Hmmm...technically that's probably actually a sprinter day. Marathons are supposed to be run nice and easy, paced strategically. So no, yesterday was a 100 yard dash. But, it was like running the 100 over and over and over all day long.

When my personal life, FTJ and life as an author collide...whew, it ain't pretty. But it can't be avoided.

So in honor of yesterday (thank god it's moved on), a list!

The Top Craziest Moments of P's Day

Call of the wild toddler
Princess Bea turned three. We're having a birthday party for her, but not until next week. I always knew that was going to be a sticky wicket. You can't really explain to a toddler that, "Today's your birthday. But ahhh that party we talked about...not today. " And yes, this is my fault. I took too long to call the place. Sue me, I have a lot on my plate.

So we're all dressed, we're in good moods and I say, "Okay, let's get ready to go." I'm greeted with a quizzical stare. ME: Come on baby, you have school today." She screeched to the heavens and proceeded to cry for ten minutes. Sort of how I felt on my last birthday, too.

Bouncing Bullets
You always know it's gonna be bad when your boss sits down at your desk and says, "Remember that meeting we talked about?" I'd dodged a bullet on attending a symposium as her designee because I wasn't high enough on the food chain for the panel. Yay for middle management! But a family emergency was sending her away and guess who was back on as the department's talking head? Darn all those communication classes that honed my public speaking skills!

Annapolis + USNA Graduation = AAGGHHHHHHHH!
If you're from Annapolis there are two things you know out of the womb: MD crabs are the shiggity and never ever venture into Annapolis during Commencement Week! Now, being as how I work in Annapolis and am not going to burn five vacation days that early in the summer, I've learned how to work it so I'm at least avoiding the most crowded orifices of the city. And on graduation day I don't touch the city with a 10-foot pole. I'll burn a vacay day for that!

Yesterday, I had to drop off some signage to the Navy's stadium (an orifice to be avoided!). Thought I'd sneak in the back way through a private entrance. Nope. It was blocked off. I had to go through the Daily parking side and the line was every bit thirty cars long. Then when I finally made it to the area to place my signage, an ::ahem:: nice gentleman in fatigues told me I couldn't park my car there even though it was only going to take me literally 20 seconds to post the sign. I walked away muttering some not so nice things, but obliged.

Note to self: Soldiers are not sexy when they're giving orders.

Steph Hale's Book got me in trouble
Okay, Steph, you know I'm psyched for your book, Revenge of the Homecoming Queen, and all, but it totally got me in trouble yesterday. Here I am, speaking to a room full of middle school girls (shout out to the Reisterstown branch BCPL) and we're discussing the songs that match this summer's must-read books. Steph recommended Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend, a song I happen to like, by the way. So Girlfriend's playing and the girls in the group are chanting along, excitedly. But the A/C is really loud and my little piggie speaker can only go so loud. Literally, it's a stuffed pig that you plug your iPod to. One of the nice librarians graciously goes to turn the air down, so the girls can hear and bam, Avril lets loose with a serious four letter word. Oops!

Note to self: Take Steph to detention with me and next time never assume it's the clean version just because Princess A was the one who downloaded it.

Swag Rocks!
Speaking of my library visit, it went really well aside from the Avril uh-oh. The girls group has fifteen members. I was told that attendance varies based on the girl's schedules five could have shown up or ten. Well, all fifteen members showed up. It's a good thing I packed such a large swag bag. Naturally, the girls liked the cool stuff. But then, who doesn't like freebies?

Even when it ran out, we had a good time rocking out to the summer play list that served to give them nearly twenty books to add to their Summer TBR List. Thanks to all of the authors who provided me a song for their book! Even you, Steph. LOL

Why yes, I am Super woman
After all that, I still stopped at the grocery store to pick up ground beef and came home and cooked spaghetti for the little Princesses birthday dinner. This moment wasn't that crazy. I just felt like I deserved a little back pat for cooking!

Losing it!
So after bathing the Princess and lying her down with the hubster (they were both sleep in minutes) despite dragging, I went into the office to work. And I'm proud to say that I finished the manuscript for That's What's Up! No applause, please, just doing my job.

Now, as great as finishing the book felt, guess what? I fuggin' missed the Lost Finale. Man!

I'll tell you what threw me off - the American Idol finale. I didn't watch that either. But I had an extensive conversation about it with my friend and for some reason, despite knowing what day it was, I went into the office thinking - Nothing's on tonight, it's Tuesday and I don't really need to see Idol.

Thanks to the networks putting on new programming in the summer (albeit stupid shows) I may never see the Lost finale, now.

Long day. Full. But a good day.

And since I hear the starter's gun (the wail of the wild three-year-old), it means a new race has begun.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sheltering Your Characters

I started writing book 4 in the Del Rio Bay Clique series, today.

Yes, yes, I know that technically I still have book 3 to fine tune. But for whatever reason, book 4 was on my mind, today. And as I mulled over its direction, it occured to me that there's a very real danger of me sheltering my characters.

I don't want to do that.

Don't get me wrong, I also don't want to push them so far to extremes that they're going against character. But it's important to me that I find a happy medium, lest I suffer from Bell/Spelling Disorder.

Have you ever heard of that?

It's when the creator of a story coddles his heroine because their feelings for the character gets in the way of the character's growth.

Confession: I totally made up the name. I didn't, however, pull the name out of my...imagination.
William J. Bell and Lee Bell created The Young & The Restless and The Bold and The Beautiful. And of course, Aaron Spelling is the wunder producer of such great TV dramas such as Dynasty, 90210 and Charlie's Angels.

Wait...did I just say Charlie's Angels was a great drama?

Okay, anyway.

I'm not one to question the prowess of the Bells or the late-Spelling. But they both did something that annoyed me well before I became a writer - they sheltered the character closest to their creative hearts.

I used to watch Y&R, back in the day - basically from the time I was a tween until I graduated college. And one of the characters I despised the most was Cricket, played by Laure Lee Bell, daughter of the Bells...or at least one of them.

Cricket was this pristine character among a sea of bad assess on Young & The Restless. And when she dated rocker, Danny, it was all I could do not to gag. This guy was a rock and roller and yet he only had eyes for Cricket who practically had the words "I wear a chastity belt" tattooed on her head.

And therein lies the problem - Cricket was too perfect. It was like the Bells felt she was good enough to be in the show, yet wanted none of the show's usual soap opera dirt and drama to touch her. So while any other young person on the soap was a slut in training, Cricket was not about to lose her virginity unwed.

Same with Spelling. Aaron Spelling's daughter, Tori, was the squeaky clean one among a cast full of hormone raging teens on the loose. By the time Tori did lose her virginity it was not without a lot of teasing (the audience, not Tori's love interest) and morality tie-ins.

Now, of course Spelling and the Bells were related to these "characters" by blood. My characters are on paper and I have no such obligation to keep them squeaky clean.

Yet, as I plot out book 4 I'm finding myself afraid to go where my heart wants to because I don't want to muddy these characters. I love them and they're like my kids. I want them to always make the right decisions. I want them to rise above the usual teen temptations.

But if I did that I'd be going against everything I believe about YA fiction. Primarily, it's ability to edutain.

And I'd be falling victim to Bell/Spelling-itis.

You can't shelter your characters no matter how badly you want to. It's not fair to them or the readers.

Readers have to see series characters make and suffer the consequences of tough decisions. When you avoid those scenarios, series grow old. And while some may certainly say that I'm making them act contrary to "who they are," I'll pre-argue that by saying this...

My characters are teens. In So Not The Drama they're fourteen year old freshman. By book 4, Who You Wit'?, they're fifteen and sixteen-year old, rising juniors. It wouldn't only be a crime not to have them change, mature and face tougher choices, it would be unrealistic.

So here I go. I'm taking the plunge into deeper waters. But not without my heart tugging at me to keep the girls innocent and safe. It's just this time, I'll have to ignore my heart and listen to my brain.

Sorry girls. We all have to grow up, some time.

Cheer Love

Quick commercial...

So Not The Drama is in the June issh of American Cheerleader. It's one of the "Read Me" selections.

And in a weird act of serendipity so is Camp Rules by Jordan Roter and A Non-Blonde Cheerleader in Love by Kieran Scott. Serendipitous, because Camp Rules is listed with So Not the Drama on Amazon as one of the "better together" features and Non-Blonde Cheerleader is listed on my Amazon page as one of the books purchased when someone bought SNTD.

Pretty darn cool, to me. American Cheerleader really gave out some serious cheer love to the literary set, this month.

We love ya back, AC!

So, back to our normally scheduled program...

Why are cheerleaders given such a hard time?

I'm tired of the portrayals of slutty cheerleaders, snotty cheerleaders and the generic view that cheerleaders are the mean girls of the high school set.

Okay, first of all, I know there are some cheerleaders that are those things.

There are millions of cheerleaders in the world. I'm sure some of them are promiscuious or down right bitchy.

But, on average, I do NOT think cheerleaders are those things.

And yes, I'm biased. I was a cheerleader. I coach cheerleading and my main character is a cheerleader.

But I think those things also give me a little more insight into cheerleaders than someone who isn't.

When I was a cheerleader, I wasn't bitchy. I was confident, assertive, friendly and no more snobby than the average teen. And honestly, I don't recall any girls on my high school squad being outwardly catty.

Now, that has nothing to do with what we may have said about other people when we were all together doing the group-think thing.

But geez, we were teen girls. That's what they do!

The little girls I coach are cheer divas to be sure. But they're divas on the competition floor. Any cattiness among them is the same level of bickering and nit picking that I've seen among most other girls their age.

And yet, I've heard people make comments about girls from our organization in uniform using a broad-based stroke of generalization. These are adults who have displayed outright disdain for these little girls for no other reason than the girls were cheerleaders.

It's like cheerleaders are to blame for all the social scarring some adults endured as teens.

And yet, I've not run across any cheerleaders like this, personally.

However, I have run across plenty of other like this who were class presidents, sorority girls, on the chess team, debate team or athletes in some other type of sport, etc...

In other words, teens can sometimes be snotty. God willing, they grow out of it. But the arrogance of youth sometimes makes them unbearable people to be around.

It just annoys me when people act like snottiness is some disease borne unto the cheerleading species.

My character Mina is a cheerleader. And I've portrayed her to be like cheerleaders I've known - a little cocky, slightly obsessed with being in the spotlight but generally a well-liked person who people wouldn't mind being a friend.

She's no angel. But her flaws, blemishes and not-so-great traits have nothing to do with being a cheerleader. They're who she is. A teen changing as her world deems she needs to.

I traded a few emails with the AC editor, who reviewed So Not The Drama. A former cheerleader and quite the cool chick, if I may say so myself.

One of the things she said was, she was glad to see a cheerleader portrayed as a little insecure, a little full of herself but mostly just a normal teen who has the same fears as other teens. One who understands that it's a privilege to wear the cheer uniform, yet still has dreams of catapulting to a new level of popularity.

And that's the thing - most cheerleaders understand that they're doing something special by being spirit leaders as well as competitors in their own right. But it doesn't mean they think they're the shiznet.

Yes, they've got to have a certain level of confidence about them to get the job done in their sport. What athlete doesn't?

They come in all sizes and shapes, they get zits like anyone else, they get dumped by boyfriends, have fights with their best friends, get bad grades, have problems at home and all the other things that any other student goes through.

But when they get out on the field or court, their job is to be the first line of spirit - smiling, happy and rooting their team on through the loss and the win. And if they're competitive cheerleaders, they've got their own struggles on the floor to combat to bring home a win.

What I wonder is, do cheerleaders sometimes get a bad rap because they're simply out in front and easier to push off a pedestal?


Or, perhaps it's like with other things that are primarily female - people are so quick to discount heavily female professions or sports as "catty" simply because women are notorious for being that way with one another.

Well, I'm not discounting those who fit the bad stereotypes. But I've gotta defend my peoples.

Cheerleaders rock!

They're athletic.

They're spirit leaders.

They're good will ambassadors.

But if you get on our bad side, we make a darn good gang.

Oops, did I speak that last line outloud?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Watch out Bowie Barnes & Noble...P's coming

Tomorrow, May 19th I'll be at the Bowie Town Center, Barnes & Noble at 2 p.m.

And because I know that young readers love swag ( do adult readers) I've made a little deal with the Bowie Town Center Limited Too and Claire's.'s completely on the QT.

But I'll be giving away Limited Too and Clarie's Gift cards along with a few of my Got Drama? baby doll tee shirts to lucky readers who cop So Not The Drama.

Now I ask you, is there anything better than getting more for your buck?

What is cooler than buying a book (that's pretty good, from what I hear) and getting a tee shirt or a few bucks to spend any way you want at Limited Too or Claires?

Come on, I dare you to find something cooler than that!

Hope to see you tomorrow or else I'll have to use these gift cards myself. And I'm gonna look pretty darn silly trying to fit into a Limited Too outfit. But don't think I won't try!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ten Questions That Rock: GCC Style - Kelly Parra

I roll in some pretty cool circles, if I should say so myself. Kelly Parra, author of Grafitti Girl, and I see each other quite a bit, slacking err...lounging in a few YA author cyber clubs. If I told you which ones evvvverybody would want to come. So we'll keep that on the hush.

Well, today's she's hanging out here in the Clique Lounge.

KP: Hi, Paula! Thanks for having me on your blog. :)

De nada! Let's cruise...

TCL: Pick one: If you could enter your MC into a MTV-style Celebrity Deathmatch, what protag would you want on your Celeb Deathmatch tag team and why?

KP: Well, this is tough. I'm going to go with tag teaming with my bud, Tina Ferraro's character in Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, Nic Antonovich because since me and Tina are buddies our characters would have to be too! :)

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

KP: I'm a good pair of worn in ankle-high converse. Comfy and a little rough around the edges. :)

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

KP: The plot usually helps me get the book going, but I love trying to create unique characters. I'm not totally 50/50, so I guess I'll go with plot driven.

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

Chick-lit: Jenny O'Connell since she's one of my fave chick lit authors.
Best seller: Ann Brashares
Best Band Ever: Jon Bon Jovi since I mention one his songs in Graffiti Girl.
Most rockin’ author: Caridad Ferrer because her first MTV novel was about rocking music!

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

KP: E. Lockhart's Dramarama, Elizabeth Scott's Bloom, and Allison van Diepen's Street Pharm.

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

KP: Good suspenseful YA books! I'm a big fan of suspense novels.

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

KP: She's playing adult roles now, but I see Jessica Alba in her Dark Angel days as the perfect fit for my character Angel in Graffiti Girl. She can play attitude like there is no tomorrow and still have that soft side of vulnerability.

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

KP: My latest author crush is on Antonio Pagliarulo because the guy is a marathon writer. He has his new Celebutantes series coming out this year, as well as writing a YA thriller and working on a thriller for adults. *sigh* I want to be like Antonio when I grow up. :)

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

KP: Actually, I'm not ashamed of admitting I like Gilmore Girls, Ghost whisperer, NCIS, and Heroes. All my fave shows!

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

KP: Hey, Cliquesters! Graffiti Girl should be in your TBR list because it's a fast-paced read about art, graffiti, and finding where you belong and believing in your talent enough to be different. Check out my website for an excerpt!

Okay, the tag on the Clique Lounge wall reads "Cop this joint," so you know what to do.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Listening Party

I've been teased because of my tendency to like songs based on very minute things.

I'll choose five seconds of a song that I love and it will be the only reason I like the entire song. But it's because I listen to music with my entire being.

Sorry, I don't mean to be corny. But it's true. It's why I can't just listen to a song to determine if I like it.

If someone plays a track and says, "What do you think about this?" most likely I'm not going to like it because I'm concentrating too hard on listening to it.

But let it play while I'm otherwise engaged in conversation or whatever and if I like it, I'll stop what I'm doing to pay closer attention.

I'm like that with many things. Things have to speak to me - clothes, music, movies...whatever.

But back to the music. I listen to it with my entire body and my emotions. Because of that, my taste in music is broad. I never know what will appeal to me in a song.

As an example, my On-the-Go playlist (the list where I mix and match based on the latest songs I'm obsessing over) includes:
Keith Murray
Jamiroquai (for real!)
Chris Brown
Angie Stone

Which makes listening to it fun for me, but an exercise in WTF? for most other people. The only mood it sets is mine.

Today, my morning commute was rockin'. Literally, because I decided to listen to only rock music on my way into work. As each song played, I asked myself why I liked it since I know if the hubster had been in the car with me he would have wondered.

Home by Daughtry.

I love the line, "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it all. You just might get it all...and then some you don't want." The words hit so close to home because that's how being an author is for me some days.

That line hooked me! It gives me goose bumps.

I liked this song the moment I heard it played on American Idol as the background for the "exit" montage. It was so fitting as these contestants who probably chanted, "I want to be on American Idol" in their sleep had gotten their wish but in a cruel twist of fate probably also got a lot more than they bargained for. Including an early trip home.

It's not over by Daughtry.

Funny, I'd be lying if I said I was a Daughtry fan. Yet, they've managed to get $1.89 out of me for these two tracks. Again, it was a single line that reeled me in. The angst in the line, "this love is killing me, but you're the only one," reached out of the radio at me. It's a near perfect description of how love feels sometimes.

Face Down, by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

Now talk about an extreme. The Daughtry songs hooked me with lyrics. But, I don't know a single lyric of this song! Not the hook, chorus, nothing. I'm not sure I've ever paid any attention to them because it's the drums I love, in this song. There's not even anything spectacular about the drumming. But it draws my attention and earns the song a spot in my earhole. I probably should learn the words though. People may look at me odd when I walk around singing "dunt...dunt...dunt, chh, chh, chh, chh."

The hubster and my mother sometimes ridicule my taste in music. Which I don't get. What is it about people that we have to understand someone else's likes and dislikes?

My husband and I have known one another since fourth grade. But, if my iPod is hooked to the speakers blasting and I'm not playing my Smooth Grooves (R&B) or Head Bangers (Hip Hop) playlists, the look on his face is like he's never seen me before a day in his life.

We like a lot of the same music. But evidently some of my selections are just too "out there" for him.

My daughter gets me though. She already listens to music with more than her ears. Though she may not realize it. I can tell, though, based on her playlists.

And I think that ability to be completely "in" your surroundings versus them being fed to you via one or two senses effects how we see other things in our lives.

Quick example:
Princess A has a crush on R&B artist, Neyo.

Now, Neyo isn't traditionally handsome (in my opinon). His eyes are narrow and wide at the same time. And one of them may be slightly crossed. And he has a really big forehead that he tends to hide behind caps and hats.

I'm not being mean. But I don't think this is a brother you'll see on the street and do a double take because of his cuteness. Still, she has a massive crush on him.

I have a theory why - he's an excellent singer/songwriter who has managed to capture a young, vibrant R&B flavor in his and other people's music like, Irreplaceble, which he wrote for Beyonce.

We saw him in concert and he exudes a cool, playfulness. Just a really carefree, fun guy and it comes across in his music. He'd be the guy that would get you to laugh or smile without having to tell obvious jokes. The guy you'd find yourself wanting to be around because time passes so easily when you're with him.

He was in the movie, Stomp The Yard and everytime his character came on screen Princess A had to compress a squeal. It was hilarious.

But his character exhibited the same traits as his concert persona. Says to me, a lot of his character/stage persona are just him being him.

And somehow, even at 12 she's picked this up and she's attracted to it via his music. If he came out with a CD singing the McDonald's menu, she'd buy it.

Which I think is not only cool, but a good sign that one day when the time is right, she'll be able to detect the right qualities in a future spouse.

I mean eye candy is cool, but you know what gorging on candy does for you.

The Good, The Bad and The Tired

Ain't life a B.I. when it gets in the way of your blogging?

Okay, so here's what's up with me...

The Good

* That's What's Up! is done...kind of. I've crafted the ending and everything in between. But there are many potholes to fill. Filling pot holes, tying loose ends and smoothing out the story is always interesting because I've never been good at puzzles. And no doubt, that's what it's like.

Oh sure, I can put together the kind with the ginormous pieces. But so can a two-year-old. Throw one of those 30 piece or God forbid 300 piece puzzles at me and I'm toast. Seriously. If you ever want to knock me a down a peg, ask me to do a puzzle with you.

* I've had a book promo event every weekend this month. As I do these events, part of me thinks - can you really ever reach bestseller land by selling five books here, ten books there? But then another part of me realizes how infectious an appearance can be. And a slow burn is better than no burn at all. Am I right?

* We're getting a new patio. Never has there been this much excitement in the Hyman household...well, except upon the arrival of Princess Bea. We've been talking about getting a patio for years. But you know how home improvements can be. Some things aren't worth doing until you're able to do them right. We can't wait to christen it with a good ol' cookout.

* I have a writer's assistant and I'm getting an intern at my FTJ.

I won't out her, here. But blogging can lead to some wonderful opportunities. CD is helping me keep all my DRB facts straight by creating some sort of character map. I'm so psyched about this!

And my FTJ would be pure hell-like without a summer intern. I can't wait for her to start.

* Summer's almost here. I may not get an eight or nine week break from work, but having the kids off from school definitely takes the rat race down a level.

* Cheer tryouts are soon. I enjoy my downtime from cheerleading. But I always miss my girls in the off-season.

The Bad

* Construction continues behind our house. Grr!! First, it was this stupid retail building that's only 50 feet off my backyard (hey, I never said our patio would have a good view). Now they're repaving the highway, at night. There's a perpetual humming that persists through the night caused by the machinery. It's so annoying! You never realize how quiet the night is until that silence is broken.

* Things are hella busy at the FTJ. Man, nothing sucks more than when they make you earn your keep.

* Multi-millionairism continues to elude me. Even single millionairism. What, burning the wick at both ends is not good enough? What does it take to make some real scrilla in this country?! Calling Donald Trump. He always has good, generic advice on making it.

* Summer's almost here. Ya' ever hear people talk about dry heat vs. humidity? Well, Maryland heat is all humidity, meaning you can't hide from it. Sit in the shade in dry heat and you get a modicum of relief. Try that in Maryland and you still feel like you're breathing under a wool the shade.

* Cheer tryouts are soon. Have I mentioned lately that cheer season is insanely long (9 months)and requires wrangling lots of tiny details? Try doing that with two full-time jobs and a family and I dare you to stay sane. I dare you!

* Prices of summer camp options range from ridiculous to obscene. Honestly, it's enough to make you send your kid to work in a sweat shop just to earn their keep.

The Tired

* That would be me.

I have never looked forward to June the way I am, right now.

June means:

the first draft of That's What's Up! is done and turned into my editor.

only a few more weeks of school

my much needed beach vacation!!!!

sleep, preferably uninterrupted by Del Rio Bay dialogue

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Respect the POP

This is my kind of guy.

If JMU offered a course on Pop culture I missed it. And if they offer one now, I may re-enroll for a semester just to take it. Many universities understand the importance of minutae to our country's (and the world's) inner psyche.

And now, pop culture is finally getting some respect up in this mickey flick.

Pretty much everyone knows about my obsession with pop culture. What Bob Thompson, prof at Syracuse University, does that I don't is make a darn good living analyzing and dissecting the origin of the aluminum lawn chair.

Who knew you could get paid for this stuff?

Well pop culture fanatics, that's who.

I'm proud of my "mindless" trivia. And professors of Pop prove that an interest in pop culture doesn't equal lack of intelligence. Nor does it mean it's the ONLY thing you can discuss. Although in truth, so much around us is pop culture that the real question may be - what's wrong with people who aren't up on their PC?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ten Questions That Rock: GCC Style - Jennifer O'Connell

Where did the week go?! I thought months with 31 days were supposed to be long?

Look, while I try to figure out where the last ninety-six hours went, hang out with Jenny O'Connell, author of The Book of Luke, in the Clique Lounge.

Take the reigns, Jenny, I have some number crunching to do....

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

JOC: I’d enter Vanessa from my first teen book, THE BOOK OF LUKE. She’s not afraid to defend herself and she’s very smart.

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

JOC: I think I’m a brightly colored flip flop, something fun, functional and with a little pizzazz.

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

JOC: I’d say I fall back on being plot-driven but I’d rather be character-driven. I work harder at being character-driven.

TCL Says: if we put your plot skills with my character skills we could come together like peanut butter and chocolate and create a book as yummy as a Reese cup. Mmmmm....Reese Cups.

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

Chick-lit critics need to lighten up

Best seller please!

Best Band Ever Led Zeppelin

Most rockin' authorNorma Klein

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

JOC: Have to be honest, I’m so busy working and writing I don’t have any on my TBR list right now. I have TBWs! (to be writtens)

TCL Says: Good, so I'm not the only one. I always feel so lame when I look up and realize that some of my TBR books have been waiting TBR for a year. Yikes!

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

JOC: That women could write what they want to write without everyone feeling the need to criticize it as inferior.

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

JOC: I think Emma Roberts would make a good Emily.

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

JOC: I love Alison Pace, we email all day long and crack each other up. And I absolutely loved Sonya Sones book WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW – so much so that I emailed her to tell her just that.

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

JOC: Dr. 90210

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

JOC: Because I keep getting emails from people who really liked reading it (many have even said they LOVED it)– and that’s the truth!

Well whaddya need P to tell you go cop it for when Jenny already has bonafide fans willing to attest to her book's total cop-ability? Go forth and read.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Sometimes the best way to sum up a weekend is to look at the numbers.

Roll stats!

3: very giggly fifth-graders escorting me to the author's lounge at the Annapolis Book Festival. Sorry to tell you girls, but you led me to the seminar hall. Oops.

45: minutes spent strolling the campus of the Key School, including a trip to The Magic School Bus. Talk about cool. We met Ms. Frizzle.

1: hour spent talking books and writing with Mary Louge and Priscilla Cummings, two really nice ladies with much more experience in the book biz than I.

20: people in the audience interested in our insight

6: copies of So Not The Drama signed after the panel

20: copies of DRAMA left to snap up by the festival attendees (wonder if they sold by day's end?)

30: minutes spent cat napping before the Kentucky Derby

9: the number of the horse I chose to win because I liked his name, Liquidity. Umm...I think he came in like 14th.

7: hours, about the amount of time dedicated to pre-Derby hype

2.5: minutes, the length of the Derby

36: number of hot wings purchased to nibble during the DeLa Hoya v. Mayweather fight

7: number of people who joined us for fight night

1: slab of ribs eaten by the Princess and her clique. Gotta respect young girls with healthy appetites.

8: on a hot meter scale of 10, the spiciness of the fresh salsa from Chevy's

6: people who braved the salsa and couldn't get enough

3: number of ribs I stripped to the bone

4.5: rounds of the fight I saw before my eyes went on strike

10: seconds of the last round that I saw in time to see DeLa Hoya battling back. Had he fought like that the whole time he could have won.

2: a.m. when the last guest left

30: seconds it took for me to fall asleep once my head hit the pillow

0: number of words written for That's What's Up! on Saturday

2,400: number of words written on Friday to compensate, in advance, for Saturday

I think the numbers show, it was a good day.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Off to the Annapolis Book Fest

Tomorrow marks the first of my four, count them, four book events for May.

Recall, I was trying to keep myself to no more than two per month to maintain my sanity. But each one is a great opportunity and who am I to turn down an chance to talk books and sell a few while I'm talking?

I'll be at the Annapolis Book Festival with, according to The Capital, a few thousand other people.


That's cool.

I'll be on the panel with two other authors including Priscilla Cummings, author of the Red Kayak at 1 p.m. in the performance tent.

Now, you'd think I'd be getting my literary thoughts together. But right now, I'm trying to figure out what shoes to wear. And if you don't think this is important, you've never sat on a raised platform, with your legs practically eye level to everyone in the audience.

Forget note cards, giveaways and breath mints, proper shoe selection is essential.

The weather's supposed to be nice, tomorrow. So I'd love to wear something open-toed. But the old footsies are still working on a four-week old pedi.

Which leaves my really cute, black ankle boots. Never a bad selection. I'm simply ready to move on to a new shoe.

I have shoe ADD.

This is nothing a quick shoe spree wouldn't fix. But honestly, who am I fooling thinking I'll have time to do that tomorrow before the festivities?

Oh, but I digress.

So tomorrow's going to be an exciting day - full and busy.

There's the book festival.

The Kentucky Derby. I feel so sorry for the Belmont Race when there's no triple crown contender. What's exciting about the race if one of those baby's isn't gunning for the crown? ::shrug:: But the Derby and Preakness - right here in my own backyard - make for exciting times in May.

And the DeLa Hoya vs. Merriweather fight.

I've been watching the HBO fight prep docs and all hype aside, sounds like it's going to be a good one.

I'm torn. Merriweather is a beast with his speed and endurance. But, mentally, Oscar isn't carrying a bunch of bullshiggity into the ring with him...and I think Merriweather is when you take away all the boasting and bragging.

So yeah, against everything I hold holy, I'm going to lay out the $50 for the fight.

Friggin' pre-fight docs...I've totally bought into the hype!

Okay, no one call me on Sunday. I'm so going to be in a coma.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ten Questions That Rock - GCC Style: Shanna Swendson

The GCC tour is hopping.

Today, Shanna Swendson, author of Damsel Under Stress shoots the breeze with me about comfy shoes and why you'd be crazy not to pick up her latest book.

Let the wild ride begin!

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

I think it would be fun to pit my main character, Katie Chandler, against Bridget Jones (of Bridget Jones's Diary fame). Katie would probably win because even though Bridget probably outweighs her, Katie has three older brothers, so she's learned to fight dirty.

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

I'd probably be budget brand flats -- a little classier than sneakers, comfortable and practical, but still cute. And wouldn't you know, my closet is full of ballet flats from Target! I have them in almost every possible color (though I do have one awesome pair of high-priced heels).

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

I can't really separate the two. For me, they feed off of each other. I do usually come up with a story idea before I develop characters, but then once I develop characters, that does a lot to shape the plot.

TCL: Word association time. What do you think when I say:
-- fun reading!
Best seller -- me, maybe someday (I hope!)
Best Band Ever -- the Glenn Miller Orchestra (yeah, I'm kind of an old-fashioned dork when it comes to music)
Most rockin’ author -- right now, JK Rowling. I guess you could say she really has it going on!

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

Wicked by Gregory Maguire -- I've had it on the TBR pile forever, and I just saw the show again, so I think it's moving to the top of the stack

The Flamenco Academy by Sarah Bird -- I got it at a booksigning last summer, and I haven't had a chance to dig in and read it.

And ack, I can't think of anything else right now because by the time I get to that point, it will be at least a week from now, and I have no idea what I'll be in the mood to read by then. My reading is really mood-driven. I never know what will inspire me to suddenly need to read a particular book.

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

Funny fantasy with a chick lit voice, of course. :-)

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

Jenna Fischer (Pam on The Office) is perfect casting for Katie (the way she looks in real life, not the way she looks as Pam). In fact, one of the reasons I started watching that show was that I saw her on the promos and thought she reminded me of Katie, so I wanted to see her in action on the show.

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

JK Rowling. I'm sure if we met we'd be best friends. :-) Actually, from what she says in interviews, it does sound like we have a similar outlook on life and would probably "get" each other. I also admire how her career has progressed and the way she's handled all the extreme success she has.

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

I'm really not ashamed of much of anything I watch. I fully embrace my geekiness and dorkiness! I guess the one I most often have to explain by saying, "No, really, it's good!" is Supernatural. With that one, I also have to insist that I really like it for the plots and not for the cute guys.

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

It's perfect summer reading for unwinding after finishing up the school year. Plus, you could read the whole series so far as something to keep yourself occupied while waiting for the new Harry Potter book.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

And The Winner is...


After a little prompting, finally the Twisted Color guesses began to hint at orange. Well, it's only P's favorite color, after all.

The winner of my cutesy pink Got Drama? tee is LJ friend,Walkwrite.

::applause:: ::applause::

So there she is, the cover of Don't Get It Twisted. Or rather, there HE is.

I love the way it hints at the fact that boys play a larger role in the story line.

And darn-it if iPod doesn't give me some kind of endorsement, now that their lovely music player has played front and center in a second cover of mine, I may have to pay a visit to the Apple HQ.

Just jokes. Don't go getting all antsy, Steve Jobs.

Walkwrite, we've got to trade some essential info so you can get your tee!