Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Okay, now that I've stopped laughing long enough to actually write...

I had no idea what I was going to blog about today. BEDA is kicking my ass. I ran out of topics fifteen days ago. Do the math to see just how fugazied that made me.

Then I came across The Happy Nappy Bookseller's rant about African American books being left out of the mainstream.

Oh to be a poet. ::sigh::

Side note: I've already prepared a post about my thoughts about her rant for Friday's Brown Bookshelf blog.

And after cruising the HNB blogroll, I found this lovely gem:
The Society for Librarians who say "Motherfucker"


I LOVE people who you don't expect to work blue to be so damned blue they're purple.

Thank you MOFO Library Society. You saved me from skipping this BEDA day, because I most definitely was gonna.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Practicing What I Preach

I'm always shaking the diversity-in-reading pom-poms. But I'll confess I haven't always practiced what I preach.

Not to make excuses, but here's why...

The two years I was writing my series, I barely found time to read at all and I was literally unable to read YA. I tried but I'd over-analyze it, making it feel more like work than pleasure. When I had a free moment to read (which was very rare during this period)I stuck to comfort reading. Adult suspense, thrillers and horror that were so far from what I wrote, it was truly a vacation from writing.

I didn't diversify my reading much because I wanted a "sure thing" for the rare weekend I reserved for reading. Sort of like how you choose a restaurant when you're really hungry. When you're really hungry and you go out to eat, you select the restaurant that has items you know you like vs. taking a gamble on an untested place.

Gradually, I've gained more time to read and my ability to enjoy YA without analyzing it has returned. So I've decided it's time to step up the diversity in what I read - at least when it comes to YA.

I'll remain selfish in my adult reading, for now. I've got to feel like I still have pure comfort reading where I can be as un-PC as I want. So I have no plans to venture beyond the thriller/suspense/horror adult fiction or true crime non-fic.

But for YA, I'm making an active effort to read everything from realistic fic to paranormal. I just finished Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. I'm currently reading Kendra by Coe Booth. (I tried checking out Shine On, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger and My Life as A Rhombus by Varian Johnson but they weren't in.)

The rest of my reading roster (must be finished by May 7th because they're lib books):

Haters by Melissa De La Cruz

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

There are a lot of great books out there and I plan on diving in. If you don't already,consider taking a diversity challenge and change up your reading habits. Diversity is broad - it can mean reading books about other cultures and races or simply reading outside of your usual comfort zone genre.

Do it. You won't regret it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

No Race Cards Here

My writer bud, Neesha Meminger, re-introduced a word to my lexicon a few weeks ago as we watched American Idol, "cultural affiliator."

As Anoop Desai sang his heart out, Neesha, who is also of Indian descent wished him well. Just as she'd wished a few other Idol contestants she was rooting for. But rooting for Anoop was different. No matter what, she couldn't help but identify with him as another person of the same ethnic descent and for that one but ultimately complex bond, she wanted him to hit it out of the park. Get a home run for the "home team."

And she admitted as much with a very simple "at the risk of being a cultural affiliator..."

And I immediately thought - yes, that's me. That's what my work with The Brown Bookshelf is about. I just hadn't really thought about it in those terms. Or at least, I'd never vocalized them.

People of color are cultural affiliators for their race and ethnicities, not because we want to be but because we simply are. Every day we relate to people because of a million other things - from the same neighborhood, went to the same high school or college, share the same publisher, write in the same genre...but there always comes a time when we identify with someone simply because of a shared cultural background.

Yes, religion, political ties...all those count too. But those are things you can choose not to share. Race and ethnicity...not so much. Race you wear on the outside. You're affiliating even when you're not saying a word. So sometimes it feels like someone is pulling the race card if they verbalize their cultural aff.

Everytime I find myself wearing the Hi, My Name is the Black Writer hat I'm always a teeny bit uncomfortable.

Will I remember my notes from the last "Black" meeting? Will I get our talking points right?

And when those worries creep, I then get a teeny bit frustrated because were the playing field totally level, there'd be little need to slap on that name tag at all. Well...Hi, I'm The Black Writer is in the building...

On Friday, a few lists from the Oprah Book Club were circulating. And boy was I disappointed to see that her YA list was totally and utterly devoid of any African American authors.

Wait. Stop.

I don't feel nor have I ever felt that Oprah should wave the banner for all things African American. However, I am constantly amazed and disappointed when I see any pop culture list of "great" booksmoviestvshowsCDs and they don't list one, not ONE item by someone of color.

How are such vehicles consistently overpassed when these generic lists are being compiled?

So, my annoyance with the Oprah YA list being color-less has very little to do with her race. If the list had been compiled by Martha Stewart I would raise the same exact issue. Because I find it hard to believe that whoever put the list together hadn't heard of any books by a person of color or felt that there were none worthy.

Please, let's immediately get rid of the "none worthy" argument, because it's trash!

The Brown Bookshelf was started because when books for African American children are mentioned they tend to be by our trailblazers Myers, Draper, Flake. We wanted to make sure that readers knew there were more than three Black authors writing for children.

But when even the vanguards/award winners are overlooked, it's a sucker punch in my cultural affiliated gut.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Day of Silence

There's been much speculation about whether my character, Michael, is gay. And readers have clamored for more Michael. But the heart of my series was about the girls. So it wasn't until this last book, Flipping The Script, that I put Michael center stage.

So is Michael gay?

Personally, I don't think the answer is as important as what unfolds as the other characters go about dealing with whether he is or not. So imagine my delight when I became aware of Day of Silence, a national initiative to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.

Serendipity, I love thee!

So, the book is out (no pun intended).

The question of Michael's sexuality answered.

And homophobia among those closest to us, visited.

The icing on the cake - I had an opportunity to participate in FiveAwesomeYAfans Day of Silence campaign. FiveAwesomeYAFans takes my breath away.

Active teens ROCK!!!!

Thanks guys!

Check it out:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Rocked...and almost Dropped

I've been angsting over it for weeks and it's finally here.

Rock the Drop!

Herewith lies my adventure:

Book 1 - A copy of That's What's Up! This is a no-brainer. The cover features two girls, one a cheerleader wearing a blue, gold and white uniform. So naturally I get Princess A to drop it somewhere at her high school, because as fate and my requesting my editor to find these specific colors would have it, her school colors match the cheer uniform on the cover.

I just hope she didn't chicken out and get into one of those sulky teen moods like - This is so stupid and stuff it at the bottom of her bag. If so, me, her and a little can of whup ass are gonna have a little talk.

*mwah, momma loves ya' babe*

Book 2 - Operation Middle School. Another copy of That's What's Up! I know a lot of little cheer chicks at this school and they'll be cheer chicks at the high school soon. So, yeah, subliminal uniform message at work again.

They're renovating the school, so there were construction vehicles everywhere and I feared for the books safety. I start to drop it at the front door but then decided to head to the Media Center - which was actually just a ginormous portable classroom.The two librarians were very interested to hear about Support Teen Literature Day. So I dropped it at one of the tables and wished the book luck.

Book 3 - Now it gets a little challenging. I was too gun shy to leave the book in a book hostile area. So I stuck to book-y places. I decide to change it up a bit and leave a copy of Flipping The Script in the lobby of the local lib.

Even though I literally dropped this one, I still went inside and spread the good word about the initiative. It was nice to see the big "National Library Week" banner up and the librarian who checked me out (oh yeah, forgot to mention I picked up a few books :-) loved the concept.

Book 4 - It's now that I realize I only printed out four bookplates instead of five. So I've got to make it good. It's between a middle and a high school. On one hand, the last three books are more geared to older readers. But I created this series wanting a group of middle schoolers to start it and grow with my characters. So the middle school wins out - even though it's much further from my house than the high school.

Luckily the day isn't as crappy as yesterday. So...the grounds of this school felt endless and I was unsure where to leave a fresh shiny copy of So Not The Drama. Finally, I decide on a nice ledge near the front door then I run like hell, except that's not very fast because I have Princess Bea with me and she's already sick of this game of drop the book and is wondering when lunch will be. So she's purposely lagging behind, questioning me.

If the school security guard had come chasing, she would have been on her own. But we make it back safely to the car.


So, I have officially rocked the drop. I think next year, I'll do the same places plus add a few more. And although the last drop (and run) was exhilirating, I rather enjoyed singing the praises of the initiative - so I'll be stopping, dropping and yakking next year. That's way more fun.

P.S. I took pictures but they're refusing to load. Grr!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BoB Rages on

I'm enthralled by School Library Journal's Battle of the Books.

The all in fun competition has its critics. Some wish SLJ hadn't selected a battle between books that have already been knighted the "best." While others don't see the point in pitting books against one another.

Can't we all just get along and read ALL of them?

But critics are missing the point.

Unless you live under a rock or in Montana (sorry, Montana) you can't get away from talk of the lastest movie, TV show or what songs are rocking the Pop charts. But where can you find, honest and true, comprehensive insight into books, much less children's books?

No, don't answer that. Because you can find this information, but you must search for it. Always searching.

You won't find a slew of pop-up ads heralding most books, unless they've already been designated bestseller babies. You won't hear the radio DJ rhapsodizing about how she can't wait for the sequel to [insert the name of any book here].

And, nine and a half times out of ten, if you hear a book mentioned on the radio or within a television "all access" show, it's because it's been made into a movie. Books are the bastard child of the entertainment industry. Some are loathe to consider them entertainment at all.

So for SLJ to create a new avenue for people to get excited about books, yes even books that many people have already been excited about, is a good thing. Because it will likely produce copy cats who just may focus on the lesser-known books.

For those who don't know me, that's called foreshadowing because I'm already so on a mission to do a similiar book tourney for brown YA books. You heard it here first.

Hey, SLJ, imitation is the best form of flattery.

For now, let the battle continue.

Hooray for Kadir Nelson, making it to the next round!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Let's Chat

Or at least we will be able to soon.

I'm making good on my promise to re-imagine (hating that is actually publishers clearing house ::sigh::) which of course is Paula Chase Hyman dot com. I'm testing free live chats, today, and believe I have a winner.

The internet really gets on my nerves sometimes. But today isn't one of them. Whenever there's decent free software out there, you've gotta love that. In a society where it's blasphemy not to have capitalistic drive, getting something free gives me a rush - like I'm getting away with something naughty, sticking it to the "man."

I wish there were more good free things on earth.

Are there any countries that have managed to implement a more balanced vibe of capitalism and...struggling not to use communism, even though that's obviously the accepted opposite?

It's not that I'm against capitalism. I sort of like money. But there are some who are really into the money is the root of all evil thing to the point they're anti-earning an income doing what you love.

I once talked to a woman who was a producer for a lit talk show. She said she wanted me on the show because I wasn't writing to make money.

Umm...I must certainly am. It's called my profession. If I don't make money, where will I live? How will I eat?

She went on to say that authors who talked about "targeting young readers" turned her off because writers shouldn't be "targeting" anything. Her theory - you write from the heart and smile until someone decides they want to read your work.


Maybe it does sound crass and antiseptic to talk about targeting a certain reader. But who just goes off writing willy nilly without knowing who they're telling the story to/for?

In reality, I knew what she meant even if the way she presented it was a bit *out there*. There are some who write, whatever, specifically to turn a buck. I can't be mad at them. If you want to write to earn a living (novel concept) good luck. Writing is hardly a get rich quick, scheme.

But this woman was saying children's writers who were blatantly capitalistic offended her. She was a big time advocate for youth and the idea that young people were seen only as consumers offended her.

So I didn't totally disagree. My readers aren't dollar signs to me. Still, I'd like to think there's a road between starving artist and writing slut.

What this has to do with chatting, I can't be sure. But the chat feature is, as they say, coming soon.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rock The Drop Panic

Readergirlz Rock The Drop is Thursday.

Wait. What happened to all that time I had to mull over the cool ways I'd drop the books this year?

Blegh! Panic is setting in. I fear I'll either drop out or end up doing the lamest book drop ever.

There's the obvious route: dropping near libraries and schools.

There's the middle and high school down the street from my house, the one near my FTJ and a private school in the historic district.

But I wanted to be a bit more creative than that.

And what if I drop the books and then people trash them? What if someone picks it up and plays hacky sack or kick the can with it? And does anyone still play hacky sack, much less kick the can?!

Will the cop believe me that I'm doing it for a good cause when he stops me with a stern, "Ma'am, did you realize simply abandoning a book on public property is a misdemeanor?"

I love the idea of Rock The Drop. It's all very new age marketing like. But it's turned me into a blithering idiot incapable of making a simple decision: where to leave five books...without getting busted.

I had an easier time translating the directions to put up our last entertainment center, which was in all Korean.

*deep breaths*

Okay, I can do this.

I'm sure if the litter bug po-po come after me, Lorie Ann, Justina, Dia, Holly or Melissa will bail me out.

Right guys?


Friday, April 10, 2009

The re-imagining of PCH

I think I'm going to get a makeover.

I know, you're like - Oh you're far too young for that, P. You're perfect just the way you are. And I am *natch* I was talking about for my Clique Lounge page on the website.

I love my website. But I always had this vision for the Clique Lounge page that I never quite had the time to implement.

After a good talk with my old editor - ooh Stace, you know I don't mean old as in age I meant old as first editor. Okay, hold on. *digging my foot out of my mouth*

So, I was talking to Stacey Barney, the lovely editor who acquired So Not the Drama for Kensington Books way back in the ice age of 2006 (better?) and she gave me some of her thoughts on cool web stuff. Made me look at my website through new eyes.

I always meant for The Clique Lounge page to be this like fun hang out type spot on the site. The challenge is that I have books to write and promo to do, appearances to make and blah, blah, yadda, yadda so keeping content fresh is like so whatever.

Don't you hate when your intent to do something really good and cool and meaningful is sidelined by life...and stuff?

Yeah, well that's what happened to the Clique Lounge page. So now, I'm determined to make it a more fun and interactive page because anytime I drop the ball on something it completely offends my competitive nature (yeah, even when it was my fault) and I feel the need to run faster and harder.

Sooooo, looks like I've got myself a project. Well, my webmaster does.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


As we enter Day 9 of BEDA I've decided I'm no longer responsible for the quality of my entries. Fettucine Alfredo, this is hard!!!

This concludes the griping portion of this entry, we now take you back to your regularly scheduled blog entry, which is already in progress...

The very first review of So Not The Drama by Booklist said that it included "fast, funny colloquial talk." Colloquial is a fancy term for - slang only some people understand. It also serves to drive copy editor's crazy because in some cases the english is broken on purpose - going against every fiber of their being and training.

I thought it might be nice to bring folks up to speed on the P'isms they're likely to see in my books or hear from my mouth:

Dag - No, this does not stand for David Allen Grier. The first time he was called that on Chocolate News, I was like - Who are they talking to? Dag is the term I grew up saying in place of "dang" or "darn." Eventually, because I got tired of explaining it, I changed it, in my books, to the customary "dang," despite really disliking that term.

I know, right? - For some reason, my lovely editor always wanted to change this phrase to "I know that's right.", just "I know, right?" The term itself is self-explanatory and it's used much like "I know that's right," but it's meant to be spoken in the form of a question. In other words, questioning the obvious/questioning something you agree with.

Example: Person 1: Man, that test was mad hard. Person 2: I know, right?

Shoot - This can be used in place of "dag." They mean the same thing and it also means that obviously I'm a little bit country when it comes to my colloquial talk. I myself am much more likely to say "shoot" or "dag," in place of "damn." I don't think I've ever said "darn" in a serious conversation.

Namp! - Far as I know, I made this word up. It just came to me one day when I was reacting to something I was fierecely against. It means "oh hell, no." Or for fans of Whitney Houston, "hell to da naw."

I also, to my husband's utter annoyance, have a habit of naturally shortening words. Perhaps I'm lazy. I don't know. But it's nothing for me to use:

vibe - as in someone's phone is "vibin" in place of vibrating

vom - short for vomiting, of course

Chipolts - my favorite mex fast food joint, Chipotle. And techinically that's not shorter at all, but ya' know.

Contrary to popular belief, I actually can have a conversation without colloquial talk, slang or abbreviations. In fact, to prove that my vocab is actually pretty extensive, I'm the reason my friends started the five-letter rule on weekends. No words over five letters is allowed or you get a penalty. I've had many a flag thrown on me just for talking the way I normally do.

So yeah, you guys can't have it both ways!

But short talk is infectious. Despite my husband's standard WTF look as he tries to deceipher what I'm saying (or the grocery list where I go mad with abbrevs), one day we were cooking and he goes "Okay well let me just get a spatch."

What's that now? A spatch?!

That would be a spatula!

Being the person that I am, prone to taking the high road, I immediately gave him hell for it.

Monday, April 06, 2009

18 Things...

Jordan, the official BEDA Coordinator (ooh that sounds so professional), had a he-larious blog about 18 Things You Should Do Before You're 18 as dictated by Reese's Puffs cereal.

Yeah, because Reese's is a known expert on living life to its fullest.

Well it got me thinking. A most dangerous thing in most cases. I think I've lived a pretty full life. That doesn't mean I could die happy tomorrow, because there are plenty things I still want/need to do. Hear that Gods of Fate!

Anyway, but because Reese's is a renown source on how to grab life's brass ring, I thought I'd see just how full my life has been. I'm looking at the list below both in terms of whether I accomplished any of these things before 18, which full disclosure was some time ago, and if I've accomplished them since.

1. Ride the world's biggest roller coaster.

I was deathly afraid of roller coasters until I was about thirteen when my father forced me to ride one in Myrtle Beach. I was hooked, immediately, but riding the biggest by 18? No.

Kingsdominion and Six Flags were the closest parks, within driving distance, and while you risked whiplash on most of KD's rickety wooden coasters, none of them stood at record-breaking heights.

However, I did ride Six Flags' Superman coaster about five years ago, well beyond the 18 mark and it occurred to me that very day, as I rode up the ninety degree incline, that I was too old to be trying to conquer bigger and faster coasters.

Thanks Six Flags for curing me of my roller coaster obsession!

Verdict: Half a check for braving all of the coasters within my reach.

2. Bungee jump!

Yeah right! Look, bungee jumping looked stupid when it came out and it looks stupid now. Come to think of it, I don't even know if bungee jumping was invented when I was eighteen. It may have been something that came a few years after, when I was in college. Either way, didn't do it, never would do it, ain't gonna happen Reese's.

Verdict: Pffft!

3. Score the winning goal/basket

I love *watching* basketball. I adore ballers who look all sexy running up and down the court with their strong, muscular calves and broad shoulders. And I have seen many (some I even dated) make the winning basket. That's gotta count for something.

Verdict: Half a check for dating ballers with skill!

4. Win an award, trophy, or prize.

Check! I've won plenty, some even for stuff where I beat someone out for the award.

And, the streak continues. I got a Top Shelf award just last year...well, my book got it.

5. Learn an instrument.

Pah! My musical prowess is as strong as my balling skills. But wait, it didn't say master it. So yeah, okay, there was the recorder in the fourth grade. I learned that with eight more years to spare on the expiration.

Verdict: Woo friggin' who, I was a prodigy based on Reese's standards.

6. Go back stage at a gig.

Did you not read April 5th's blog? Oh crap, but wait, I was a sophomore in college, so I missed the requirement by one year. Bah!

Verdict: Half a check. Sorry I wasn't a road raging, hip hop groping groupie a year earlier, Reese's.

7. Meet your idol.

I'm not easily star struck. As a matter of fact, I define star differently than most. For as obsessed as I am with pop culture, I simply could give a rat's behind about celebrity. Therefore and thus I don't know that I've ever idolized anyone, to put it bluntly.

However, a few years ago I met Francine Pascal, creator of the Sweet Valley High and I was definitely giggly like a school girl because I'm a total book nerd. Does that count?

Verdict: Stuff it, Reese's. Not every teen has a perpetual crush on anyone the media says they should adore.

8. Play a part in your favorite TV show.

I don't even remember what my favorite TV show was, back then. But I do know I've never played in one so...

Verdict: Goose egg

9. Meet someone with your own name.

All the time. I've met plenty Paula's.

However, it wasn't until I went to register my domain name that I realized Paula Chase was taken by someone who is a folk singer. I didn't meet her but she is the reason my website is Paula Chase Hyman and not Paula Chase, like on my books.

Verdict: Thanks Reese's for an easy one. Way to throw us a bone and only half way through the list, no less.

10. Make a discovery.

Ummm, like something significant to mankind or like discovering that the path between my now husband (and then boyfriend's) house and the next cul-de-sac was primo for making out? That was a discovery and some might say a significant one.

Verdict: Gotta go with check here.

11. Get away with the perfect practical joke.

As in, like the perfect murder where no one knows you did it? What would be the point in that?! Half the beauty of a practical joke is that people know you were the one who pulled it.

Verdict: Reese's explain!

12. Own a pointless collection.

Err...ummm...I collected stamps once, but only ended up with a few. So it wasn't so much a collection as a few random stamps that couldn't be used to mail anything.

Verdict: Check!

13. Invent a word that makes it into the dictionary.

Oh that's so establishment. Look, I've invented plenty words or at least have found multiple uses of my own for existing words. I don't need Websters to validate me. And not for nothing, once the dictionary christens it, it loses its edge. RIP Bling!

Verdict: Check, for inventing "cutty sark" as a term for your best friend. Do I care that it was the name of a whiskey first? No..

14. Conquer your biggest fear.

Dying? I'm still working on that.

15. Raise money for charity.

Yup. Another easy one for me. Well, does it count that my parents actually did all the selling of tickets and wrapping paper and candy for the charities "I" supported?

Verdict: Half a check. Must split honors with the 'rents.

16. Pass your driving the first time.

Yeah, thanks for bringing up one of the single most humiliating experiences of my life, Reese's. No, no I did not pass my driving test the first time. Geez! And I ask you, why do you have to parallel park to get a license?! What does parallel parking have to do with driving?!

To this day I only parallel park if there is absolutely zero other alternative and that's pretty darned rare.

Verdict: No check and the bad memories of that disappointing day now linger. Great!

17. Complete a road trip coast to coast.

What am I, insane? I hate driving, which BTW has nothing to do with why I failed my driver's test. It has to do with commuting daily as an adult.

But prior to that, the longest drive I ever took was from Maryland to Alabama then to Orlando and it FELT like driving coast to coast.

Verdict: No check, but I'm not shedding tears over this one.

18. Reach 18 years of age.

And how does one reach the age of 18 prior to turning 18, Reese's? Huh? How?

Verdict: Still feel my life is quite fulfilled despite scoring only 8 before I was eighteen. Perhaps I need some Reese's life counseling. Off to buy a Reese cup, now. I hear it holds the secret to living forever.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Unbelievable but true...

Life is stranger than fiction.

People who read certain passages in books and think "that could never happen," are usually wrong. When you read something in fiction that doesn't ring true, I'd venture to guess that ninety percent of the time it's because the author has dropped a ball or two in setting up the character so you'd believe HE or SHE would do or say that - because people, in real life, are capable of doing and saying just about anything.

So in honor of the odd, bizarre or just "hmm, that's interesting" I call this little blog segment unbelievable but true things that have happened to me.

I had breakfast with Flavor Flav.

I was a sorority chick in college. And no, there are very few suburban cliches that don't describe my upbringing - so there. One of my sorors had a cousin in Public Enemy who was the complete and utter shit, at that time.

She managed to hook the campus up with a Public Enemy performance. Now this was nothing short of manna falling from the sky because I went to mid-sized vanilla college in the boons of the Shenandoah Valley. Getting a Hip Hop group to perform there, much less one of the most popular and radical, was a feat this side of amazing.

Because of my connections, my friends and I were invited to the "green" room after the show.

#1 Groupies are real! There was so much jock riding that night, I immediately understood why guys in bands get so much tail.

#2 Some people try too hard to make conversation with "famous" people. I'm standing in a small circle of folks talking to Chuck D (and if you're too young to know PE outside of Flavor Flav, get up to speed here). This one chick gushes, "I really liked what you said about staying in school. That's such a powerful message."

And Chuck D looks at her with the straightest face and says, "I didn't say stay in school, I said get out that mother fucker and do something to make the world a better place."

Her face fell a little, but Chuck wasn't trying to embarrass her, he was merely clarifying. So the conversation went on without a missed beat.

#3 You need only be minorly connected to the band to get groupie love. Everybody from the dude who touched a spotlight down to the body guards were lining up their hook ups in the green room.

Anyway, after the deep, stay in/get the hell out of school topic was over, Flavor Flav interrupted and inquired about local eating places. I think his exact words were, Where does somebody get something to eat up in this mother fucker? Or something to that effect.

Oh #4, rappers tend to curse quite a bit. ::shrug::

Harrisonburg is a sleepy town, literally. At that time, everything except the Hardees and Waffle House closed by 9 p.m. So Waffle House it was.

I don't remember much about the dinner table conversation, that night. There's nothing especially profound or gossipy to share. We were just six hungry people crowded into the overrun Waffle House.

What I remember is that Flav was a really down-to-earth kind of guy. If stardom fed his ego, I couldn't tell from that one night. And years later when I saw him on Surreal Life tenderly helping Brigette Nelson when she got sick (or was she drunk? I don't recall) it rang true.

Although he became more and more outrageous on Flavor of Love, outrageous is as outrageous does. These shows want you to be caricatures and archetypes, so hey, he was getting his Reality TV on and I'm not mad.

I know a lot of people have looked at Flav and questioned how he ended up getting a dating show. But ya' know, first impressions are lasting ones. And he struck me as a nice, genuine guy with a crazy side. I've met more handsome guys who were also total douches. So, it balances in the end.

I used to have a photo of us that night but I gave it to my uncle who, at the time, was a huge PE fan. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm terrible at keeping mementos and such anyway.

But that was one of my celeb encounters. Breakfast with Flav. Yeah boyeee!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

No I Didn't Skip A Day - BEDA 09

For those wondering why there's been a sudden and significant increase in my blogging, I'm participating in Maureen Johnson's Blog Every Day in April challenge (BEDA 09).

Yes, I'm insane. But it's doing wonders for my writing state-of-mind.

And I didn't skip today, but I'm also blogging over at the BBS.

So go there now and read about the perks of being last vs. first.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Teenage Love Affair

Sitting there watching Taking the Stage, I had an epiphany - one of the reasons I write YA is the teen love angle. And I could say it's because of the innocence of first love or something else goopy romantical. But I'd be lying.

I like the angsty, confusion and pure schizophrenia of teenage love.

Is there ever a time in a person's life where love is so new and awesome yet so horribly confusing?

Don't say your twenties, because you know damned well what you're doing in your twenties. Most of us just fight common sense dating men who are bad for us or wrongly assuming the dude who only calls you at three a.m. is doing so because he really enjoys "holding you."


Once we experience love for the first few times, everything else after is working to stay one step ahead of the game. And believe it or not, I don't mean that in a cynical sense. You're literally trying not to get your heart stomped even as you make moves to hand it over to someone.

But teen love is very new and curious. Willing yet cautious, but cautious because it's new, not necessarily because you expect heartbreak. Quite the opposite, I believe.

I watched tonight's ep of Taking the Stage with my heart scrambling to make a run for it. The trailers indicated that Mia would be crushing on Tyler.

Mia, nooooo!! Are you not aware he's with Jasmine, the cutest little black ballerina since Jasmine Guy fluttered across the screen in It's A Different World in one of those filmy, short ballet skirt thingies?

Lord, don't these kids gossip at all in this school?!

I prayed against all good sense that the trailer was merely building something out of nothing. Then bam, Tyler goes to a party and makes out with Mia. This after he so cutely asked Jasmine what was up between them.


What I loved:

- Realizing that Jasmine's best friend caught him red-lipped locked with Mia, Tyler came clean to Jasmine and asked for her forgiveness.

- He didn't just say "My bad" which for all intended purposes is not the same as "I'm sorry." But he uttered more important words. "I messed up." There you go, take responsibility, little dude.

- Jasmine was heartbroken. Now normally that would be an odd thing to love. But it was so endearing. She really likes this guy and his infidelity (?) indiscretion (?) tore her up. The pure emotion of it touched me. And no, it doesn't take much to make me cry, but whatever.

- Jasmine did NOT blame Mia. It's not Mia she was committed to, it was Tyler and her anger or disappointment was directed squarely at him. Thank god! I'm sick to death of girls who blame the "other" girl. When this age old ignorant mentality dies I will be a happy woman. Just praying it's with my daughter's generation!

Okay, but here's what I didn't love so much:

- Next week's trailer indicates that Jasmine and Mia will have a confrontation. ::groan:: Ladies, ladies, ladies. If you must confront, do so with the guilty male species person involved so he's forced to stick to ONE story. Must I teach you guys everything?

- Mia (in the trailer) says that Tyler told her that he and Jasmine weren't a couple. ::double groan and a moan:: Tyler, did you do that? Dude, no player on earth has ever successfully played two women. One of them is going to leave you and I have faith in this new gen of young it's more likely that both will leave you. Ladies, Tyler's a cutie but there are other fish in the proverbial sea.

This show is refreshing because, even though we all know reality tv is more like reality-ish, I heart a show that highlights kids who are purusing a dream. There's the usual high school drama (which, confidentially speaking I adore), but already these kids know what they want from life professionally speaking, so there's a new dimension to their awareness that's very inspiring.

Taking the Stage reminds me of my own books. I don't mean that in a braggy way. But the daily trials and tribs of teen life is what I chronicle in my fiction. So watching TTS is like watching one of my books come to life.

And even though I've only spent three episodes with the real life "characters" of the show, I feel like they're my kids just like my DRB babies. I'm rooting so hard for them to make good choices.

So TTS cast, here's Miss P's wisdom, from my finger tips to your eyes:

Love is a tough gig. Dating won't be much different from the audtions you'll go onto after graduation - you'll face a lot of rejection before you get the gig you love best. So hang in there!


Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Teen-less Twitterville

I love Twitter. But I can see why a lot of teens wouldn't.

My daughter tried it as did my neice, because they were curious about all the hype. But after a solid 24-hours, the declaration was "Twitter is boring."

Ahh, youth. So succint when they think something sucks.

Twitter isn't boring, but here's why I think they might think so:

Enough of their friends aren't on Twitter.

So they're left wandering Twitter town looking for people to follow. Well, they get enough of that follow crap in high school - follow directions, follow this crowd, don't follow that crowd, blah blah order and organization blah.

Facebook allows them to just be them in front of folks they already know. Twitter is like forcing them to attend a mixer and walk around the room introducing themselves to strangers, all night.

Twitter connects you with like-minded folks and/or keeps you updated on your favorite topics of interest.

In other words, it requires interaction.

Facebook, on the other hand, allows users to say "what's on their mind" *natch* then proceeds to let people start groups surrounding topics/issues near and dear to them. Which in reality would be a great way to network except folks are rarely active in FB groups. But us old fogeys are missing the point.

It's not about interacting with the group, it's just about joining it! If it were about interacting, how do you explain the ginormous amount of folk who joined Heath Ledger Should Win a Posthumous Oscar for The Joker group? There's nothing to discuss. If you disagree, just don't join the group.

The group itself is the statement and joining it shows how you're aligned.

Take that Twitter, with all your talking and linking and re-tweeting!

What? I've got to click through on stuff? Namp!

You upload a photo to Facebook, it's there for you and everyone even vaguely connected to your network to see. Put a tag on it and I think you can see FB photos from the space shuttle!

Twitter isn't as immediate. You've got to click through on a link to see photos or other web pages. Dude, that like takes time.

So I can see the disconnect for some young social networking fiends.

Now, now teens who tweet, don't go getting your panties in a bunch. I didn't say no teens tweet. And God forbid anyone should think Twitter un-hip simply because the 16 and under set hasn't christened it the shit. But, I think with Myspace, Facebook and Twitter reigning as the most recognizable social networks (this hour), it's safe to say the line has been drawn in the sand and folks are choosing sides.

Me, I straddle the fence.

Facebook is for the people IKRL. Ninety percent of the time my status is whatever lyric happens to run through my whirling mind. Yet it somehow still manages to sum up my state-of-mind, near perfectly. And with a quick comment here and there, I'm able to keep up with people I don't have enough time to see IRL. Ironic, I know. But I'm fine with that.

On the flip side, after a year of self-imposed social networking restriction (cut out all my blog reading and blogging and most of my forum participation in '08) I'm finally back in the YA loop, chatting with my writer friends. As an added perk, I get my pop culture/publishing news/entertainment gossip fix by following organizations and people in one spot vs. crusing the 'net all day hunting for it.

I'm sure the boss at my FTJ would be proud of my time management skills. See kids, Twitter is actually an organizational tool disguised as social networking.

Hmmm...that's probably not going to do much for increasing interest is it?


Wednesday, April 01, 2009


So, Varian Johnson, Coe Booth and I were talking about blogging or rather our lack of blogging regularly. One could surmise, from our very random and incredibly unstastical focus group, that authors simply don't have time to blog. But then all you'd have to do is look over our shoulders and see that plenty of authors manage to blog, if not everyday, way more regularly than the three of us have done in the past year.

I have no idea how they do it or what they sacrifice to do it - I'm thinking cheese sandwiches for dinner and semi-clean laundry for the kiddies (no stains? no odor? It's clean). Regularly blogging authors feel free to drop me a line to your secret.

Or, maybe I'll discover it myself during this month-long blogging boot camp known as BEDA - Blog Every Day in April, started by Maureen Johnson.

It's that damned competitive streak in me that has me doing this. I'm like Fred Flinstone when he hears the word "bet."

Bet? Betbetbetbetbetbetbetbet!!!

I can make anything a competition. The fact that this came up, just as I'd already admitted how difficult it is for me to blog daily was an affront to my competitive nature.

You no say, P can't blog everyday. I'm in!!

The second I committed I realized it was probably a mistake.

I have a manuscript due to my agent by month's end. April contains several key, personal dates that can't be ignored for writing unless I want to end up single again. The weather's warming and who wants to be chained to the office - because, oh BTW my lap top is acting completely ignorant. And, I did mention I haven't blogged regularly since about...oh, I don't know early 2008?

But here I am, day one of what I have a feeling will be 30 days of pure blogging hell as I attempt to keep it fresh and witty and on days I can't, I'll still have to keep it informative as I'll alternate blogging over at The Brown Bookshelf to fill my quota.

So ride with me. And if I begin talking gibberish or if blog posts begin to resemble things like my grocery list, know that I gave it the ol' college try.

BEDA 2009. It's so on!

The official BEDA Pledge
I commit to this idea and am determined to create something EVERY DAY in April, including weekends. Every day, I will find something to say. I embrace the reality that there is always something to talk about, if you are willing to take the time to look for it.

I _Paula Chase Hyman_ promise to blog every day in April.

So it's written. So it shall be!