Monday, April 28, 2008

Straight, No Chaser...Megan Crane

If time were money I'd be broke and homeless. I'm forever running at a time deficit and because of that I'm on a constant quest to re-evaluate. This go round, my inner psychologist tells me that I need to seriously eliminate internet activities that don't result in 1) relieving stress or 2) increased awareness to my books.

Starting in June, I'm likely going to be dropping a few things from my plate based on that criteria. But no worries GCC, you will not be among them.

Granted, I'm two weeks behind in my GCC profiles. But according to my statcounter, GCC delivers on #2 of my internet musts.

I was fortunate enough to meet founder, Karin Gillispie during the RT Convention. Sweet lady and a fellow, take a book to dinner chick.

So Karin and GCC peers, forgive me for falling behind on my girlfriend duties. With no further adieu, I present to you Megan Crane giving us a little inside scoop.

Umm...does anyone have a craving to go out lip gloss shopping after looking at Megan's cover?

Meet you at Sephora!


MC: "Brooding Hemingway type" is what I aspire to, definitely. I'd love to swan about Paris , complaining about my friends who happen to be great literary luminaries, sipping absinthe and practicing feeling jaded. I do this in my apartment all the time.


MC: I’m a total hypochondriac. From my belief that each freckle is a time bomb trying to kill me to my obsession with WebMD, I could write the book on how to misdiagnose yourself and cause the most needless stress.

Pop Culture References

MC: Names My Sisters Call Me is Brothers & Sisters meets Ally McBeal. (And hey! Both involve Calista!)

MC: Oprah Winfrey is the perfect pitch person for my book. I just have this feeling that viewers would connect with her, and buy my book as a result. Call me crazy.

Note: Oh sure, if you like that sort of thing, being a bestseller and all! ::snicker::


MC: It’s a good thing I’m not a stalker or else Gerard Butler would be in trouble because... (I already kind of stalk him. Is that wrong? I feel that his beauty is one of the great wonders of the world, so that makes him a tourist attraction, practically.)

Note: Hmm...sounds like a pretty good defense to me. I'll have to remember it if I'm ever caught stalking Reggie Bush's abs!

History Lesson

MC: My book started out about first love vs. true love and ended up about self-love, family love, and what sisters can sometimes do to each other.

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?

MC: My husband. I like him a lot, but more important, he's kind of a ninja, so I'd expect him to come rescue me.

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?

MC: Its surprising insights into the human condition. (Why not??)

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

MC: Angelina Jolie. She could live off of her lips, and her bottomless self-regard. She offends me, deeply; that's why.

Note: Ooh joy, another Angelina hater. I'm so with you, sister! I'm still waiting for Brad to get back with Jen. ::sigh::

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Thinkie Thing's Tired

Some days I long for the days when I was in college, home for the summer waitressing. Not to glamorize it, because being the relative low gal on the totem pole of the food service industry is no joke. Long hours on your feet, demanding customers and that icky, food residue smell that saturates your clothes.

But what I enjoyed about being a waitress was how when my shift was over, it was over!

I went home, shed my smelly garb, showered and turned into someone else for the rest of the day - sometimes I was reader girl lounging in my parent's sunroom, other times I was date girl, hanging out with a guy friend at the movies.

Don't you love jobs like that?

I'd simply hang up my server's pad and pen for the day and didn't lose any sleep worrying about whether or not a customer received the right order or fretting if maybe I'd forgotten to refill all the ketchup bottles.

I haven't had a job where I could leave my work at the job in a long time, because though I rarely take work home from my full-time job, writing and promo are always there waiting on me.

In other words, my thinkie thing is operating at full-tilt eighteen hours a day. But that gravelly crunching sound you hear are my gears grinding to a halt.

In January, I already knew what my April and May would bring: travel to RT, a few local library visits, my cheer squad's final Nationals and a trip to Canada with Princess A's French class.

I also knew, that despite some of the activities being purely personal and fun, it would make for a very tiring two months. So I was doing my best to get as much writing done on my fifth, DRB series book, Flipping The Script, as I could.

Good thing I did because I've hit the wall.

Yup, right here at the very start of my busy period, P's thinkie thing has left the building. It's simply incapable of doing anymore deep thinking.

Don't get me wrong. I can handle the lightweight stuff. Hell most of my daily routine I can do with my eyes closed, though I wouldn't recommend doing that while behind the wheel in rush hour traffic. But where writing goes, I'm fooling myself to think it's happening until life has settled down to a more natural rhythm.

Too bad that's another 40 days from now!

You know what the hardest part of slowing down is? Admitting you need to.

I had a good time at last week's RT Convention. Had fun with some cool authors and networked with a good number of booksellers and librarians. Woke up every morning at 6:30, worked out, got a little writing in on Friday and was in bed fast asleep by 11:30 every night.

I know, I'm such a party poop. No faery ball for me.

I honestly didn't feel tired until I woke up Sunday morning. Never underestimate how tiring being "on" is! I've been dragging ever since and the writing has suffered.

I pushed myself to write yesterday, got in two hours. The prose didn't titillate me, but I got it done.

However, today, as I dragged my butt to the post office for stamps (remember the rates go up on May 12th...don't get me started on the postal service and these near annual rate hikes!) trying to see ahead to what the next chapter would tackle, I realized my brain was muddled. So muddled, in fact, that even my desire to write can't help me produce something coherent.

Normally, I'd rather write drivel then write nothing at all. But if you don't re-energize the thinkie thing it goes on strike.

I need to stay away from my characters long enough for them to come looking for me. I love those times when they won't leave me alone, no matter how I try to block them.

Right now, they're seriously MIA.

If you see them, send them my way. I'll be the one poolside sipping a Seven & Seven.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Extreme Author Challenge: Village Learning Place

Do you hear that? It's the sound of the P promo train leaving the station, first stop The Village Learning Place, a private library in Baltimore.

Invited by Ms. Andrea, I was asked to do the author thing with their middle school group. I had a good time, a little rusty since I haven't done a visit since November, and the kids...well I think they enjoyed it. It's so hard to tell with middle schoolers. If it's not something they're currently obsessed with, you only register mildly on their radar.

But I think they had fun. Thanks to the tweens and teens who played along.

Ms. Andrea said something that really struck me - she said with this age group they know what they don't want but not really what they do. I think that's so true. Which is why exposing young readers to as many experiences as possible is key.

So thank you, Village Learning Place for having me!

I think the young patrons enjoyed making posters to promote their chapter more than they did creating it, but I've learned when it comes to young readers - take what you can get and be happy. If they're geeked to get your book - and they seemed to be - then Ms. Andrea and I did our jobs.

The point of the Extreme Author Challenge is to help young readers experience life as an author. They get fifteen minutes (a deadline) to write a mini-chapter as a group. Then they must promote their "book" within their library and encourage patrons to read and comment on their chapter (promotion).

So, leave a comment and let the young readers know you stopped by. They're far too young to experience the deafening silence that's the norm for authors.

Their chapter is based on Don't Get It Twisted.

The Set-up:
Mid-way through the book, Mina is warned by Brian, at a party, that she may not be too happy when she finds her crush/sort of boyfriend, Craig. Here's what the clique at Village Learning Place thought happened after:

Mina gets hit by Kelis, the girl Brian was secrety dating. So Mina punches her back. The neighbors called the police and cleared the area. Then Mina went home and told her mom. Her mom asked what happened for her to get into a fight. Mina tells her mom what happened and her mom says, "That was a very stupid thing to fight over." When Mina finished talking to her mother, she went up to her room and slammed her door. She found out Kelis was talking to a friend they met at camp. But Craig came over and he and Mina went to Mina's room. She found out he was cheating and Brian was like, "What I tell you?"

P's A Romantic

At least in the sense that I'm heading to the Romantic Times Convention later this week.

Let's just get it out, up front, that I'm none to happy about flying solo. Flying isn't exactly my favorite thing to do, in the first place, but flying by my lonely gives me more time to think about how much I dislike flying.

I know, I know, the flight's only an hour. Get over it, P!

I would have gladly taken the train, but Amtrak - for some unGodly reason takes eight plus hours to get to Pittsburgh. It's a four hour maybe five all day long, in a car, from where I live. Why Amtrak takes longer to get there is a mystery to me.

Not that I wanted to drive that far either because after commuting on the local beltways for a number of years - my patience for long car rides is little to nothing.

So I'm hopping a flight amidst all the issues of Southwest and American Airlines. Lovely.

Still, a few days to myself, a luxury I'm rarely afforded in the house of Hyman, is well worth the tiny flight. Also, I get to hang out on a YA panel with some lovely ladies who I cyber pal around with - Melissa Marr, Mari Mancusi, and Stephanie Hale.

And did I mention a few days to myself?

So, if you're in Pittsburgh or at the convention stop by and see me at the panel , Thursday evening or Saturday's book signing. Otherwise, I won't know what to do with all that free me time.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Two Plus Too Minus One

People are always asking how did I come up with the idea for the DRB Clique. Why six people? Why a mixed group? Why so many?

Because that's how big my tightest circle of friends was. The DRB Clique isn't a cover for my teen clique but an homage to them. Tiny pieces of our existence are intertwined everywhere in my characters - which is why no one character mirrors me or my friends exactly.

Of course we considered ourselves a crew then, in the eighty's, because break dancing and what not was huge and break dancers ran in crews. So, fiends of pop culture followed suit.

That's it, though. That's the answer. Nothing more, nothing less.

I chose marketing and PR as a career. I'm a writer by skill. But everything isn't a concentrated effort or strategy much as my Type A personality would like it to be so.

Two Plus Too Crew was me, my girl Nick and our four best guy friends. I know, we couldn't count very well could we? 'Cause that's six people all day long. But it started out with four and just kept growing.

The crew actually had more than six, because we rolled mob deep in high school. But at its core, it was us six.

The "heart" of the core was Big Ed, named so because he was literally a big guy. But as luck would have it, he also had a big heart and was the friendliest person on earth. Eddie had this smile that immediately signaled he was up to something devilish.

And he couldn't lie. When he tried, his mouth would pooch up and his forehead would wrinkle like it did that time all the guys rode with him to me and Nick's cheer competition and never arrived.

We were so hot with them. They told an elaborate lie, the way guys do when they're in trouble...oh because I forgot to add that the original four of the crew were Nick, myself and our boyfriends (now hubbies). So they were the ones in trouble, and by association so were Rodney and Eddie.

Now that I think about it, Rodney and Eddie got into more trouble because of our BFs. They're probably the only two guys in the world who basically got all the nagging of having us as girlfriends and none of the benefits.

Man, that's so wrong now that I think about it.

Anyway, the other three told the lie easy - bad influences every one of 'em ('sup ya'll?) but Eddie's lips started to pooching and his eyebrows rising and falling making his forehead wrinkle. Nick and I were like - Alright ya'll lying! What really happened?!

They were like - Aww man, Ed you dogged us out.

But he didn't of course. He was just too honest for his own good, sometimes - or at least for their own good when they wanted to be up to no good.

Big Ed passed away, last year. It was the first time I'd ever lost a close friend. He was only thirty-seven. And honestly, using the term "only" is habit when referring to someone not old passing. The fact is, if I were sixty-five or seventy, right now, I'd probably still say "man, he was only..."

Because you never want to lose a friend.

This morning, though, I realized you never do.

Tomorrow is Eddie's birthday. He would have been thirty-nine.

I dreamt about him this morning, just as my brain shifted from sleep to waking. He was only in the dream for a few seconds. The dream wasn't about him. It wasn't about anything really, fractured thoughts from a tired, stressed out mind, mostly.

But right in the middle, when the nonsense was getting I guess too ridiculous for my mind to process anymore, there he was, sitting in a chair teasing me, covering his big laugh behind his fist like he used to do. And there I was giving him grief, pounding him good-naturedly with tiny fists that couldn't inflict pain on him even if I hit my hardest. He laughed it off, pretending to fend me off as we joked back and forth.

The way we interacted in the dream is how we always used to hang out and it could have been a scene out of one my books, because it's how the clique trips with one another - light barbs filled with affection.

I woke up, pleasantly startled and a little sad that he'd come to visit me so easily. Slipped into my dream so smoothly I never questioned why he was there or why he's no longer here.

There's no answer to the latter, but there is to the former question - it's his birthday, tomorrow, but he dropped by and gave me a gift, a reminder that he is still here.

Happy Birthday, Big Ed. R.I.P. and keep dropping into my dreams now and then.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Children's Authors of Color - Where Art Thou?

Kyra Hicks was Monday's guest blogger over at The Brown Bookshelf. She shared the annual numbers from the Cooperative Children's Book Center study on the state of children's books. The study is decent insight into whether, statistically speaking, the number of books published are up, down or holding.

Specifically, books by people of color are down. African American children's literature is down 12%.


Hungry for a few more stats?

* 42 Latino Children's Book Authors in 2007, just as 2006
* 56 Asian American Children's Book Authors in 2007, down from 72 in 2006
* 6 American Indian Children's Book Authors in 2007, down from 14 in 2006

Kyra asks if we believe these numbers will go up or down for '08. Give your .02 cents over at the BBS.

Here's mine...

My impression was that the number of childrens books by authors of color was rising. But looks are deceiving.

I was shocked at the '07 stats, especially since there was a definite flurry of YA among African American authors last year. Now I'm beginning to think that where there may have been an increase in YA, perhaps MG or Picture Books took a hit. It's not exactly progress if only one area is allowed a renaissance.

So here's the deal, money talks.

The only way we'll see a steady increase in books by authors of color is if consumers purchase them. So if you're looking for:

- books by and about people of color


- books that give a peek into a world readers may not necessarily think is like their own (but oftentimes is)

make sure you purchase or borrow these children's books and definitely request them at the store or library if they aren't carried.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

iTunes Ain't Right

Don't get me wrong, I love my iPod like it's one of my kids...okay, not that much, but close.

Still, iTunes runs afoul of me anytime I can't find a song I'm truly feigning to hear. It's almost always some obscure, old-school jam that I haven't heard since my teen days. But they seem to carry every tune on earth, so when I run up against a song they don't have, I take it personally.

Okay, so last year I went searching for Pop Goes My Mind, one of the first hit singles by LeVert. If you're unfamiliar with the group you're likely not an R&B fan. If you're unfamiliar with the single, you likely only know Gerald Levert as a solo artist. And you know how P feels about musical history lessons. Check the links and catch up, I'll wait.

Moving on...

iTunes has this odd habit of only carrying the "successful" albums of artists. And by successful I mean the mainstream stuff. Levert didn't really take off until late 80's, early 90's so Bloodline, the album with Pop Goes My Mind didn't make the cut.

I cursed iTunes out for a good week when I couldn't find it - which is ten days shorter than my blast when I found out I had to buy the entire Sheila E. album to get my jam, Love Bizarre. Don't even get me started!

Last week, Sean Levert, the younger of the Levert brothers passed away. The tragedy was impacted by the fact that Gerald died late '06. I can't imagine their families pain at losing them both, so early.

These are young guys we're talking here -both in their late thirties/early forties.

I'm doing all I can to keep my mortality hypochondria at bay, just talking about it!

Anyway, so the hubster and I morbidly joked that now that both had passed maybe iTunes would make all their tracks accessible.

Honestly, I was only kidding.

But I went to iTunes tonight and what did I find? Each and every album Levert ever released.

I got the track I wanted and now I can reminisce about 1986 for hours on end. The year me and the hub started dating.

Awww, that's cute, isn't it?

Still, iTunes you ain't right!

I have no idea what politics are involved with how artists and labels release tracks to iTunes. So it's probably not even iTunes fault. But they're the messenger, so who else am I gonna blame?

Hmm...although last I heard Sheila E. was alive and kicking, I better check just to make sure iTunes hasn't released that death grip on Love Bizarre.

That's my jam!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Straight, No Chaser...E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart has this way of eliciting the strangest information from me. Thanks to her, now people know exactly what type of groupie I'd be (you know, if it weren't for that whole husband and kids thing) and that apparently, I'm a raging feminist. Who knew all that male-bashing I've done in the past had an actual politically correct purpose?

But now I get to delve into E's mind and find out a little bit about her latest book, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.


Which cliché best describes you as an author?

Brooding Hemingway type
Eclectic Toni Morrison
Candace Bushnell Zeitgeist

EL: I think I write literary fluff, or maybe fluffy literature. So maybe Eclectic Brooding Zeitgest?

TCL says, only use fluffy literature when throwing books at people.


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

EL: I am a total Brooklynite. From my crammed apartment to my blue-painted toenails, my intimate knowledge of the subway system to my massive consumption of bagels, I could write the book on Brooklyn.

Pop Culture References

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

EL: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is the love child of Dead Poets Society and Mean Girls.

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

EL: I would want novelist John Green to pitch Disreputable History. Does he count as a celebrity? Maybe in the world of YA literature.

Why? Because John actually likes my books (I wouldn't believe it if Cher said she liked my books, you know? Though I would enjoy having Cher, just because she's, well, Cher, and maybe I'd get to see what her real hair looks like). Anyway, John actually likes my books, he writes novels that are extremely awesome and kinda similar to mine but get more respect; he's funny, and librarians love him. He makes great video blogs.


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

Example: or else Reggie Bush would be in trouble because I’d be hiding in his shrubbery trying to get a photo of those abs!

EL: Okay, I am a big dork but I had to google-image Reggie Bush.

HelLO, abs! Those are incredibly serious, Paula!

Honestly. I don't know. Even when I was 12 I was never one to have like pictures of Sean Cassidy up on my wall. (Yes, Sean Cassidy. I am that old, okay?)

But I did have a dream once that I was friends with Liz Phair. She really thought I was cool. Which in real life she probably would not.

TCL says, shame on E for not knowing Reggie Bush's abs. Gah! And I never thought I'd EVER say this, but I'm jealous of Kim Kardashian (the Abmeister's GF).

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.

EL: Nice question! The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks started out as a book about kids playing truth or dare, and ended up a book about feminism, old boys networks and secret societies.

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. Whom do you call?

EL: I call my home. The people I live with.

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?
EL: Women don't have full social equality yet, even though we have equal rights. Hello? Let's get on that.

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

EL: I am deeply annoyed by many celebrities, but I would never want any of them dropped in the desert, because I get so much enjoyment out of The worse the celebrities are, the better Go Fug Yourself gets, so let them live on in their crazy outfits!