Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pardon my Passion

I don't like being told to "calm down."

I cry during mushy commercials or TV scenes.

When I get angry, I'm sort of like the Incredible Hulk going from 0 to 60.

When I love someone, they're my favorite person. When I don't, I'd prefer if they moved to Mars.

It's hard to make "favorite" lists because my favorites tend to change by mood.

When I fly off the handle, I let everyone know exactly why I'm pissed - but, when the anger passes I mend bridges* and am ready to talk reason.

*FYI I'm not a feeling hurter. Like angry drunks, feeling hurters say things in anger they don't mean. Passionites (like that? I just made it up) only say exactly what they mean. No regrets!

Yes, my name's P and I'm a passionate person. A passionite, if you will.

I think my kind are misunderstood. Some people view us as over zealous or label us over re-actors. Neither are true.

For the record, I don't get people who aren't passionate. I mean, granted, I tend to be passionate about everything. I won't do it, if I'm not passionate about it. And boy, when I'm not passionate about something the quality of my work suffers.

I also lack the ability to be phony with people. If I don't like you, it's on my face. It's in my body language.

So yeah, I'm an extreme example. But everyone should have a passion for something. Those of you who haven't found at least one thing to be passionate about, quickly go find yourself now. Everyone else, stay and let's discuss the best way to handle the passionite in your life. They'll thank you (passionately, of course) for taking the time to learn to cope:

Rule #1
When your passionite comes to you, lost to all reason, ranting about how INSERT NAME/JOB or FRENEMY got on their last nerve, listen, nod and interject a short, but meaningful blurb of commiseration.

Some good choices are: "Man, he's always been a bastard, hasn't he?" or "Yeah that job never did respect your expertise. Screw 'em." or "Hey, everyone needs a bitchy friend - she's yours."

Rule #2
During above rant, if you're unable to muster commiseration remain silent. And for God's sake never ever ever ever utter "calm down."

The words "calm down" to a passionite are like flame to dynamite. It only enflames our passion more, except now instead of being mad at NAME/JOB or FRENEMY we're mad at you!

Rule #3
Roll with their mania.

Passionites tend to get very excited about opportunities to a point it may seem like manic/depression. I assure you it's not. But a passionite sees the value and merit to most things - disregarding the challenges that may pop up later. Give them time to get over the excitement before pointing out the hurdles. They may even agree with you. If nothing else, they'll appreciate that you waited for the right time vs. pissing on their parade.

Rule #4
Never question their dedication or excitement for something.

Look, just because you can express why you enjoy doing certain things or why you feel a certain way doesn't mean everyone can. Some people go through life "feeling" their way through. They don't always know why they feel something...they just do! It sets us up for quite a few emotional highs and lows, but hey who are we to question the great Creator on why they made some of us this way?

Rule #5
Never take a passionites rant personally.

Recall I said, passionites go through life "feeling" things around them...sort of like how a fly can taste through their legs. Okay eww, that's gross, but similiar nonetheless. In the "moment" they may express exactly how they feel in politically incorrect terminology (Beware feeling hurters, they are not passionate, just mean! True passionites never make someone feel bad just to get their feelings off their chest. Seriously. )

True, the reality of a passionites feelings may seem harsh but it's how they feel at that time...they could actually feel differently once they settle.

Rule #6
Never hold a rant against a passionite.

Remember, we tend to love hard and hate hard. But we're rarely grudge holders. So if you are and you're trying to be our friend/partner...umm, that's gonna be a tough road. Many of us know how to rant without hurting feelings. I'm not saying forgive them for anything they utter. Just saying, blaming someone for feeling the way they do is like getting mad at someone for breathing.

Now you're armed with how to deal with that person, who just yesterday you may have thought needed Prozac. Nah, they probably just need a hug.

Go forth and make peace with the passionite in your life.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Straight, No Chaser - Lara Zeises

Love or fame? Your career or your Boo? Which would you choose?

While some actually sacrifice one over the other, those who don't mind being insane simply try to balance them. Still, it's a choice that many of us have had to face at some point. So may as well start them out young dealing with it.

Lara Zeises, writing as her alter ego Lola Douglas, tackles the issue in More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, the sequel to True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet. In More Confessions a seventeen year old must choose between life in the glam lane or love in a small town.

Whoa. See, I'd totally choose Hollywood...well, unless he was really, really, really...really hot!

Cool side note: True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet was made into a Lifetime movie, premiering August 9th. Go forth and read then watch.

Hey, Lara dish with us!


Which cliché best describes you as an author?

LZ: I’m the Kathy Griffin of the YA genre. I’m totally a D-list author clawing my way up the ladder.

TLC Says: Aren't we all, Lara. Aren't we all.


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

LZ: I’m a total television addict … From my obsessive love of competitive reality TV shows to my appreciation for quality scripted fare like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and THE OFFICE, I could write the book on what to watch and when.

Pop Culture References

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

LZ: My Starlet books are the Princess Diaries series meets LITTLE GIRL LOST (Drew Barrymore’s autobiography about her struggle with addiction)

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

LZ: Lindsay Lohan, naturally. Most readers think she’s who I based Morgan Carter on anyway, even though I use Drew Barrymore quotes at the beginning of each installment. The thing is, this generation only knows Drew as one of Charlie’s Angels. They don’t remember the Just Say No spokeskid having to confess to a drug and alcohol addiction.


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

LZ: It’s a good thing I’m not a stalker or else Alton Brown would be in trouble, because I am obsessed with GOOD EATS and I just want him to be my friend. And to cook for me. But mostly to be my friend.

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.

LZ: My book started out with me re-imaging Drew Barrymore’s life and ended up mirroring Lindsay Lohan’s.

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?

LZ: I should probably say my fiancé, but the truth is he’s kind of scatterbrained and would totally botch a rescue mission. And I couldn’t call my mom, because she’d burn all three minutes talking about herself before I could disclose my location. So I’m going to go with my best friend Candace, because she’s saved my ass more times than I care to count, and she wouldn’t stop until she brought me home safely. She’s really the best friend I’ve ever had.

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?

LZ: “You should be careful when using pop culture references in your writing – they date rather quickly!”

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

LZ: The Olsen twins. Because then I’d never have to see their fake, duck-bill pouty smiles ever again

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Feel Like Chatting?

I'm facilitating a Myspace Forum chat for The Brown Bookshelf at 9 p.m. eastern, Wednesday the 23rd (un-huh, tonight).

It could be me just me, Jenn Laughren of Books Inc./Not Your Mother's Book Club and Jaz Vincent, owner of RealEyes Bookstore shooting the gip about our triumphs and troubles as small fish in the big pond of publishing. But I sure hope others show up.

Here's the deal - hard to believe, but, Borders is having issues with their sales "model" and may be closing down a few stores. Hell, in a world where Starbucks are closing stores anything is possible!

Amazon is warring with POD companies and self-published authors about their right to only sell books they publish.

Libraries are cutting hours and budgets. RIP Sunday hours at my local branch!

People are having to choose between gassing up their vehicle and buying a gallon of milk.

So, the time is ripe to talk about independent bookstores and authors and our place in the world of book retail sales.

I see it like this - we've reached the ceiling on just how tough times are going to get or we're about to. Either way, the paradigm on how we spend money and what we spend it on is constantly changing. Where books are concerned, they remain one of the least inexpensive entertainment outlets - so despite those who think the economy will be a hinderence to book sales, I'm hoping the opposite.

Chat with Jenn and Jaz, tonight, to find out how indie bookstores and customers and authors can work together to keep themselves afloat.

Monday, July 14, 2008

That's What's Up! is Top Shelf

At least at Urban Reviews.

That's What's Up has snagged a five-star, Top Shelf, review from Urban-reviews, the site's elite honor. An honor also bestowed upon Don't Get It Twisted.

Urban Reviews predominately reviews adult fiction - heads up to those who click through. But I applaud their efforts to review YA, to guide adult readers to what's out there for the young reader.

Now, normally I don't make a lot of noise about reviews. Let's face it, they're totally subjective. And if I had gotten a bad one I wouldn't have bothered to mention it. I'd drown myself in ice cream and self-pity until the realization that it was simply one person's opinon sank in.

However, I always love when reviewers "get" what I'm aiming for in my books. Urban Reviews has reviewed all of the Del Rio Bay series books so far and they get it. While their reviews cover what each book is about, they also speak to the greater good of the whole i.e. they often shout out the fact that it's a series. By doing that they're helping the many adult readers of their site understand DRB may be a good choice for the young reader in their lives.

My fave quote of the review is the part signaling they get it:
"I truly love how Paula has meshed suburbia and the hood and came up with books that all teens can relate to."

Inclusiveness was my goal when I wrote it. I'm not mad at hearing that someone or a few someones believe I hit the mark.

Check out the rest of the review.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Yes, Virginia, Teens Do Read

YA authors face an inherent challenge that few others do - reaching their readers.

See, the writer of a children's book has parents purchasing for the reader. Adult readers are willingly led to new books by their desire to read, reviews or simply their thirst for fresh literary adventures. Plus, they have their own cheese to buy books.

Readers age 12 and up are a different creature. They're newly independent - so having mom or dad pick out a book is a no-no. While there is no limit to what's available out there for them, I'm not convinced reviews or even advertising really draws them in.

I'd bet my salary that many teens pick up a book because of the cover and purchase based on cover copy and a quick skim - reviews be damned.

There's also that little hitch, they typically need to have mom and dad along with them for a purchase.

On top of that there's the increase in homework and required reading that sometimes turns them off from reading for pleasure all together.

All that in mind, I'm so over the laments of - teens don't read. If I had a dollar for every time I heard it I'd be well-off, if not rolling in dough. A hobby of mine is proving the notion wrong, because I have this whole 'being right makes me happy' thing going on.

And last night, the teen participants at my Rosedale library visit didn't disappoint. Shout out to the members of God's Reading Stars Foundation for stopping in.

As usual, the librarian and I went through the obligatory conversation about our uncertainty of who, if anyone, would show up. After all, this wasn't just a typical "How I became a writer" presentation. I was offering a writing workshop for teens.

Everyone knows, teens don't read, much less want to show up in the middle of their summer, at 7 p.m. and have to WRITE something. What are we, nuts?

Crazy like foxes, apparently. Because nine - yes NINE young readers showed up. And not just wandered in because the Lib made an announcement, but they had all come out to the branch specificially for my workshop.


Who were these exotic creatures who would forsake chatting online, texting their buds and watching re-runs of Baldwin Hills to come hear some oldish chick talk about books?

Note my sarcasm.

The reality is - teens read! Some of them read a lot. Even if they have a crap load of required reading to get through, avid teen readers read whenever they can get their hands on a book.

So let's stop assuming teens don't read. Let's not give teens the impression that since "they don't read" it's okay to prioritize every other activity and entertainment outlet over books. Let's stop prematurely lamenting the death of literature's importance.

I have no idea if teens read less than they did 5, 10 or 30 years ago. Probably. But we've lost a lot of "traditional" ways since the industrial revolution - ya know? Regardless of any "decline" in the number of overall readers, there are teens who read and teens who don't.

Hmm...sort of like adult readers.

My focus, selfishly, are on teens who read - by choice, not force. I applaud the authors who write books for reluctant readers, because converting non-readers into readers is a win-win for the author and the reader. But my personal focus has always been to create work for young people who already know that the best escape is sinking yourself into a good book.

The young ladies who showed up for last night's event are the exact type of readers I write for. They were excited to talk books. They didn't groan when I made it clear they would be trying their hand at several writing exercises. And no one went deer-in-the-headlights on me when I asked them to read their paragraph aloud.

It was the most fun I'd had at a visit since my stop at the Cockeysville branch during Teen Read Week, where more than 15 teens showed up to talk books and writing. Okay and maybe the snacks didn't hurt to draw them in. But I digress!

Point is, there's a large population of teen readers out there. Every time we vocalize this belief that teens don't read, we undermine those who not only love to read, but manage to enjoy a lot of other hobbies and activities in addition.

Choosing to read doesn't doom you to a life of being solely a book worm. You can be a reader and still be outdoorsy, athletic, a social butterfly or whatever.

The teen reader is not extinct. Nor are they alien pod people. They're ordinary teens who love a good tale and they're among us. Here's to 'em, they're my favorite kind of folk!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Get Your Summer Reading On

OMG, this is the kind of contest that would have put me in a straight happy coma when I was a teen.

Teen Reads is running their Beach Bag Contest. Five lucky readers will bag 10 hot summer reads. And no, I'm not saying these books are hot simply because That's What's Up! is one of the ten books. Okay, maybe I am.

But the fact remains, this is a pretty cool contest. And you have until July 31st to enter. Simply read the excerpts of the books and say which one you'd like to read the most and why.

Now, I'm not trying to put words in your mouth. But you could choose That's What's Up! because:

- No one runs into more eye-raising drama than Mina and the clique

- Mina and Brian get a little *ahem* closer in this book

- Kelly and Angel do something that could cost them 20 to life...if you know what I mean.

- Calling all cheerleaders and people who have always been curious about cheerleaders- if you ever wanted a book that gave a good example of life at a National competition, well here you go.

- The green cover with the chick giving the death stare is cooly high, for real.

- You've already read So Not The Drama and Don't Get it Twisted...what else would you do with your summer but read the next book in line?

And finally,

- I don't write these books for my health, I write them so you can enjoy 'em man.

Check out the contest and enter.

Happy Release Day To Me!

Yup, it's release day for That's What's Up!

Nope, release days don't get any more exciting with each new book. It's still one of the most ant-climatic days in the life of an author because there's so little fan fare involved.

I mean where's the paparazzi outside my door?

Where's the grand book signing where a line of anxious and screaming fans await my sig on their book?

Don't know. But it still feels great to know that a new Del Rio Bay book is out there for readers.

I remember how I excited I used to get when my favorite series book came out. Heck, I still get that excited each time Stephen King releases a new one. For King and a limited number of other authors I'm one of those - hot off the presses buyers. So the thought that there are DRB series readers out there doing the same is actually pretty exciting.

And people are already talking.

Angelia Menchan of APOOO Books says:
"Ms. Chase has once again brought us the group from Del Rio Bay High school and it is as much fun as ever to see what they are up to and the lessons they will learn. "

And Julie Prince of Teens Read Too says:
"Things don't get much more "now" than the happenings in this clique of books... I'll be looking for the next book as soon as it hits shelves, because I know Paula Chase will be keeping it real! "

But don't take their word for it. Check out the latest in my Del Rio Bay series for yourself. If you like stories about frenemies and forbidden relationships, That's What's Up! is your cuppa tea.