Friday, March 28, 2008

Sweet Mother of Anorexia

What was Random House thinking when they changed the size of the Sweet Valley High twins from a size six to a size four. And what on earth made them bother to highlight it in a letter to the press announcing the re-issue of Sweet Valley High?

Are there not enough images on television and in film of the ultra-thin? Now, books must also emphasize someone's size?

I was a first-generation Sweet Valley High reader. Loved those books to death. I never knew the size of the twins, much less would recognize a change in a re-issued version of the book. I'm completely clueless as to why it was an essential fact to "update." Or why it's worth noting in relation to what is otherwise a grand moment in the life of this series and teen literature.

Gossip Girl and my own Del Rio Bay series owes our debt to SVH - it's the mold from which all teen pop series were formed.

I met Francine Pascal at the SCBWI Mid-Winter conference in 2006 when I attended her workshop "Writing The Teen Series." I remember her saying she wrote SVH because she wanted to create a teen soap opera. And SVH was definitely that, right down to amnesiacs, evil twins and mysterious sometimes near-fatal diseases among key characters.

Pascal's plot lines were homages to the Guiding Light, Days of Lives and All My Children soap rage that personified much of the '80's. The SVH twins being "a perfect size six" wasn't a marketing angle. It merely mirrored the petite women of daytime soaps.

But what purpose does diminishing their size serve? And what the heck is wrong with being a size six?!

As the momma of an athletically-built, curvy teenager who hasn't been a size six since she was in the fifth grade, I'm disgusted that size matters. As a YA writer, I'm saddened that within all the words we writers put together to make a fun read, the one which bears the most significance, in this case, is a number.

See, this is why I'm not a numbers person!

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Heard You Died

At least that's what regular readers of any blog feels when their blog goes on unannounced hiatus only to come back out of the blue.

I am alive and well, thank you. But blogging is harder and harder to keep up with in between writing to pay the bills, working to pay the bills, helping to make bills aka family time and of course the ever present coaching - as you know cheer season runs the same amount of time it takes a woman to carry a baby to term. That makes me perennially pregnant for the last six years. Oy!

And I doubt I'll return to any sort of regular blogging schedule until something gives. This includes but is not limited to:

- Cheer season ends once and for all culminating in the most bittersweet moment of my life. I'll have to resume blogging to add meaning to my life - after all, isn't that what coaching cheerleading was about?

- I get a multi-million dollar book contract allowing me to become arrogant and big headed, leading both to a drinking problem that somehow enhances my ability to write the world's best prose and an obnoxious need to rub my new riches in people's faces via daily blogs outlining my new luxe lifestyle that may or may not involve a manservant named Chauffery.

- My boss at the FTJ decides for reasons only known to her that blogging is somehow an essential part of my job duties, regardless of subject matter.

- I decide to begin videotaping my family (secretly of course) 24-7 and launch my own Reality Blog show titled, "Meet The Hymuses," a hilarious but incorrect spelling of our last name according to some random junk mailer. Now the whole world can feel the pain of a mother caught in the maelstrom of both teen angst and toddler tantrums, as she and her husband raise a 13 and 3 year old.

- I decide writing for pay is for suckers and that the only writing with any true merit is speaking from the heart about random topics, grammar be damned.

- A publisher decides my blog entries are so witty, I'm forced to begin blogging again which immediately freezes my creative juices and earns me the title of a dried up has been. This would be crushing except for the immediate offers from the producers of Dancing With the Stars, Gone Country, and every other show on Vh-1 not titled something "of Love."

Should I start blogging again with any consistency, one or all or none of these things have happend.

So, how the hell have you been?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Straight, No Chaser...Carrie Jones

The good thing about friends is they love you no matter what.

I was supposed to tour Carrie a few days ago. But where does the flippin' time go?

Still love me Carrie? You better. ::wink::

Carrie is one of the sweetest authors I know - snatching bags from total strangers at BEA aside. Yet, her book titles scream scandalous. Tell me this title isn't scandalous, Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend or her latest, Love (and other uses for duct tape)

Un-huh. I've always heard that the quiet ones are the ones you've gotta watch out for, carrying around duct tape and things. So, Carrie, give us the real scoop on what's ticking inside ya' head.


Which cliché best describes you as an author?

CJ: I am going to say this one, eclectic Toni Morrison, because this is who I want to be. Is that cheating?


Complete this sentence: I’m a total….from my BLANK to my BLANK, I could write the book on being BLANK

CJ: I am a total Postum drinker. From my ability to mix wheat grain and molasses into a liquid mix to my blueish hair love for cats, I could write the book on drinking liquid beverage cereal.

Pop Culture References

Using either television, film or literary references, give us the one or two sentence pitch you’d give film agents:

CJ: LOVE (AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE) is High Fidelity folk-girl style crossed with Dawson 's Creek.

If you did an informercial for your book, who would be the perfect celeb to serve as the pitch guy or gal? And why?

CJ: Dar Williams would be the perfect woman to pitch LOVE and TIPS. She's got the same folk-music activist feel as Belle with this sexy, feminine side that makes you believe she could cuddly a kitty.


Complete this sentence: It’s a good thing I’m not a stalker or else INSERT NAME OF CELEB MINOR OR MAJOR would be in trouble because

CJ: It's a good thing I'm not a stalker or else Sherman Alexie would be in trouble because I'd be totally Spider-man stuck to his ceiling trying to read his poems before he even printed them out.

It's a good thing I'm not a stalker or else Stephen Colbert would also be in trouble because I have this thing for comedians with their own hair and I'd be waiting under his anchor-man desk with a roll of duct tape trying to figure out how I could permanently attach myself to his shin.

History Lesson

A lot of times, authors start a book with one concept in mind (especially us pantsters) and end up with a totally different story. For your most current book tell us where you story started and ultimately ended.

CJ: My book started out about death and ended up about sex.

Eek. What does that say about me?

NOTE: See, I told you you've got to watch out for the quiet ones.

Those crazy desert Island Questions

You’re on a desert island with a cell phone. Miraculously it has two bars and enough battery life to make one three minute call. Who do you call?

CJ: The guys who write/produce LOST. I mean, come on... They know all about this stuff about getting off islands and how to zap a little more energy into batteries ala Sayid, and how to make story. I could learn so much in those three minutes.

If someone were deserted on an island and came across your book washed ashore, what’s the one thing they’d take from it and want to share with the world once they got back to civilization?

CJ: Possibly the fact that said book can be:

1. Eaten for fiber.

2. Used for toilet paper.

3. Burned for heat.

Oh, you mean the theme? That love can touch us one time and last for a lifetime and never let go until we're gone. Wait. No, that's the song from Titanic. Darn.

Which celebrity would you like to see put on a bus and dropped in the desert? And why?

CJ: Oh, that's so mean. That's really mean. I could never... Um. Okay. I'll play. I don't really want to call these guys "celebrities" but probably Glenn Beck or that guy on Fox News... Bill M-something. I am tired of extremist hate mongering and shout-down soundbites just to get ratings. It's the spreading of inflammatory ignorance that doesn't even come close to getting to the depth of issues that bugs me... really, really bugs me. Could we put them on a bus and drop them into space, actually? Please?

The Buzz on Love (and other uses for duct tape) & Tips

"The story is honest, earthy, and appealing." - KLIATT

"Jones offers an atypical perspective of the coming-out story by legitimizing the love that is not lost, but changed, when young people grow up and apart." —School Library Journal

Thursday, March 06, 2008

AI7 ain't the best, but...

David Cook's rendition of Lionel Richie's "Hello" was a serious breath of fresh air.

I'm not sure how much they're paying Ryan, Simon, Paula and Randy to keep slinging that mess that this is the best season of American Idol contestants they've ever seen. But I ain't buying it.

The last few seasons, I've found myself checking out of American Idol earlier and earlier. This season, I topped myself by checking out after only two weeks of live performances. The girls bored me so bad last week, I didn't bother to watch them this week.

Even if I'd bothered would I be able to tell them apart? I mean nearly every single contestant is blonde!

However, I happened to peek in on the guy's and was glad I did because David Cook - who honestly I have no recollection of prior to Tuesday night, reminded me what Idol should be about: folks taking existing songs and truly making them their own.

Chris Daughtry did it.

Fantasia did it, during her season.

But Idol shouldn't be about one person's ability to do this. At this level, with all of America watching, all of the candidates should be talented enough to do that.

At this point, I honestly don't care who wins.

I mean, David Archuletta is a cutie pie and decent vocally. But two teen Idols in a row?

The rest of the candidates are, to coin Simon's term, "utterly forgettable."

But this, right here? It could totally be a smash.