Monday, September 29, 2008

Guest Blog at Harmony Book Reviews!

Check out Harmony's site where I'm doing a guest blog for her on my work in Hollywood. If you've ever wanted to know more about what script supervisors do and why they're so important (or even if you've wondered why shots don't match in scenes in movies), go read it!

Thanks, Harmony, for letting me blog for you!

RIP Paul Newman

Such very sad news this weekend that Paul Newman passed away at the age of 83. For most of my life, I was in screen love with this icon of the film world. Talented, sexy, generous, Newman was a legend. He had the most piercing blue eyes ever captured on film, and a mischievous twinkle that made you wonder what all he had going on. He starred in some of my very favorite films with other screen legends like "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" with Elizabeth Taylor, "The Color of Money" with Tom Cruise, 'The Road to Perdition" with Tom Hanks, "Absence of Malice" with Sally Field and "The Sting" with his pal, Robert Redford. One of his earliest roles - and a movie that I saw in a 7th grade health class, of all things - was as boxer Rocky Graziano in "Somebody Up There Likes Me." Yeah, I probably fell in love with him then.

Of course there was all of his charity work, his Newman's Own products that pumped money into children's programs and his Hole in the Wall Gang organization. Yet he also raced cars alongside Tom Cruise. He was sugar AND spice, handsome and edgy. He was HUD. He was Cool Hand Luke. He was sexy from his earliest days long until he was an elder statesman of the movie industry. But he was also devoted to his wife, a legend in her own right, actress Joanne Woodward.

Paul Newman was simply one of those actors you thought would always be around. He always had been, right? For sheer joy, rent "Cars" just to hear his voice.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Friday

2 Fun Things to Do, 1 Very Cool Bit of Book News, and 1 Brand New VEE Review

1. Sunday, September 28, West Hollywood Book Fair. I'll be moderating (yes, me, that means I actually had to read everyone's fab books so I could ask them questions!) a YA author panel about writing about discrimination for teens. On the panel will be these 4 amazing authors: Lisa Yee (MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS and others), Joyce Lee Wong (SEEING EMILY), Janet Tashjian (TRU CONFESSIONS and others), and CG Watson (QUAD). We'll be there in the Fiction Pavilion at 1PM but come early and check out all the other fun stuff that's happening!

2. Saturday, October 4, Duarte Festival of Authors. I'll be hosting a table with my friend and fellow YA author, Liane Bonin (CELEBRITY SKIN) and later we will be on a YA lit panel, discussing our books and publishing and so on. You definitely don't want to miss us expounding on all that we know about that subject!

3. The magnificent author Eoin Colfer who wrote the super popular ARTEMIS FOWL books has been chosen to write the sixth book of the HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY trilogy, known affectionately among afficionados as HHGG. For those of you who only know the title as a pretty decent yet confusing movie starring Mos Def, the series was written by the late great Douglas Adams (who passed away almost a decade ago at a far-too-young age). I fell in love with these books when I read them originally and have since reread them about ten times each. I think of them as a literary equivalent of Monty Python comedy - funny and silly and very, very smart. But unbelievably funny. And amazingly silly. Colfer's novel will be published next year.

4. Reader Views Kids posted a fantastic review of ALL ABOUT VEE on their website (and cross posted very kindly on Amazon -thank you!). Check it out. I love how well-written and thoughtful the reviewer was and that she very specifically pointed out what she liked - and what she didn't like. I respect that as an author and I appreciate it as a reader. Thank you, Rachael and thank you, Reader Views!

And a P.S. Be sure to check out Harmony Book Reviews on Monday, September 29 for a guest blog by yours truly!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Knitting = Writing

I've been doing some rewriting recently ,at the same I've been working on some knitting projects and I realized as I ripped out my knitting for the third time in as many days, how similar it is to the writing process.

Both begin with a plan: an outline for my novel and a pattern for my hat.

Both usually go off the rails at some point and need to be pulled back in -but each one gets easier the more often you do it. The very first time I began a major rewrite, I was terrified I wasn't going to make it better but only worse. Same with knitting. I was afraid to pull it apart, afraid I would never get it together again. And in both cases, I survived the trauma to do it again. And again. And now, I don't even blink when I have to do either one.

Both require you to progress gradually. I've knit many of the same items over and over again: scarves and leg warmers in different colors and textures but they're still the same thing. And as with books, I've wanted to try different things, different projects, different yarns. But I can't move forward until I've done enough so that these feel like second nature to me, so I don't have to return to my instruction guide and figure out what a slipped stitch is or what it means to pass over yarn.

Similarly, with writing, I've been aching to branch out into other types of stories, with different characters and dialogue and situations - those, perhaps, that my previous books wouldn't have broached. But to get there, I had to go through what I did. I had to write a couple of crappy books in first person before I understood how to write in that POV. I had to attempt some other ways of writing, read more material by other people, before I could take the risk - albeit a confident one - and try something new. Short stories helped.

Eventually, both my writing and knitting projects must go somewhere else, to someone else, for approval - to be read or worn. Unless I want a pile of scarves on my floor - or a dozen manuscripts under my bed - I have to let them go. I've gotten to be a good judge of my writing and my knitting so I am pretty confident that whoever is getting what I'm sending will like it. But every once in a while, I'm surprised - in both good and bad ways.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Emmy? Who's Emmy?

This was the first year in a long time that I didn't have some sort of interest in the Emmy awards from a professional standpoint. Personally, sure, I had my favorites - some of whom won, some who were not even nominated. But since I haven't been working in broadcast television in over a year, I wasn't aware of all the nominations or hoopla or controversy (see WGA Strike of 2008) surrounding this year's ceremony - not that the network I worked for was ever in contention for any awards. LOL!!!

But I do know a winner! My friend from graduate school, Eileen Finkelstein, was an editor on a documentary called, "Autism: The Musical," which won two Emmys, one of which was for Best Editing. It aired on HBO and will air again so look out for it. I know I will! Congrats, Eileen!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Friday

The easiest and yummiest brownies ever!

My gift to you on this Friday morning is a semi-homemade recipe for brownie muffins. Ever watch that show on Food Network, Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee? I don't have cable but whenever I'm visiting my family or staying in a hotel, I'm always happy when her show comes on. She does things like making Turkey Tacos with Kraft Mac-n-Cheese or Corn Bread Stuffing with a bag of seasoned frozen veggies. Complete awesomeness!

Anyway, in that vein of food goodness, here is my very own semi-homemade brownie recipe:

1 package No-Pudge Original Fudge Brownie Mix
1 container Raspberry Soy Yogurt (smooth, no fruit bits)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 handful of raw pecan bits

--Heat the oven to 350 degrees (do NOT preheat the oven as this makes no sense; you either heat it or you don't).
--Spray muffin tin with butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray (like Pam or something).
--Mix up the ingredients in a large bowl until the batter is shiny.
--Spoon batter into cups evenly.
--Bake 25 minutes.

After cooling, the brownies will slide easily from the tin after you loosen them ever-so-slightly from the tray with a metal spatula. Enjoy warm or cooled, with ice cream or plain. They have a slight raspberry flavor and are supremely moist and chewy. HH loves them! The only thing I never liked about the basic recipe was that they were so difficult to cut into; the moistness actually prevented them from being sliced properly so using the muffin tin solved that problem! Just remember not to cook them for as long as you would a pan of brownies or else they will be too dry on the edges. Makes one dozen.

Happy eating!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

VEE's a Kindle!

Add a new incarnation of my book, ALL ABOUT VEE: the Kindle edition.

You can now read about Veronica May in trade paperback or library binding format, listen to her in audio on your iPod and now, stare cross-eyed at her on your hand-held portable reader device. Cool, huh?

The future is pretty much now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Author Reading: Claire LaZebnik

So what do authors do when they're fans of other authors? They go to their readings and take pictures!I'm a big fan of Claire LaZebnik and I love her books, KNITTING UNDER THE INFLUENCE and THE SMART ONE AND THE PRETTY ONE. And I was thrilled last Saturday when she came to my local bookstore, Book Soup, which is also apparently her local bookstore cuz she lives in LA too! Yay!

Knowing the inside scoop on readings as I do, I played that to my! Actually, it just worked out well. HH and I got there a little early and interrupted her and her family and friends as she was getting ready for the reading (she was sick, poor thing, nursing a cold, but she was charming as can be!). I introduced myself as having friended her on Goodreads. She remembered me, thank god or else that would have been hugely embarassing, and we chatted a bit about books and knitting and I just happened to be standing next to my book, LOVE, MEG.

[I swear it was a mere coincidence. We were in the teen section at the time and I was literally right next to it. It's not as if I went searching for it and thrust it at the writer whose reading I had suddenly invaded. Claire was super sweet and even suggested it for her young daughter who was there helping her out.]

She had lots of friends and fans and I was lucky enough to score a seat. After reading a passage, she took questions from the audience and then signed books. I love, love LOVE her books and hope everyone will check them out!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Life for an Old(er) Interview

Woman Tribune has been so very kind to my books and now, they're being kind to ME!

Check this out: Holly's put up the Connie Martinson interviews on WT right here!

I had such an amazing visit with Connie and I loved talking to her about my books and about writing. I hope people will also take a look at Connie's other great interviews at her website.

Btw, how many other YA authors can say they've been interviewed by someone who also interviewed a presidential candidate? Not many, I'm guessing. LOL!

Thank you so much, Holly and Woman Tribune!

[You can measure my happiness by the extreme usage of exclamation points in this post!]

Monday, September 15, 2008

FYI Duarte on DCTV

That's Duarte, California, the site of the 6th Annual Festival of Authors which will be held this year on Saturday, October 4th. I will be there with my friend, author Liane Bonin, sharing a table and a panel and hoping people come chat with us! Ray Bradbury will be a featured speaker, as will be the prolific Stephen J. Cannell andDJ MacHale, author of the popular Pendragon series.

To publicize the event, author Phyllis Gebauer (Hot Widow) and I talked with Mary Barrow on her show, FYI Duarte, a local cable show in Duarte.

Talk about fun! First of all, Mary totally did her homework about Phyllis and me, figuring out the cool stuff we have in common, which would seem to be nonexistent based solely on the titles of our books.

Here are Phyllis and me with our books as we sit on the set, relaxing after our grueling interview.

Phyllis' Hot Widow is a memoir about her life after her husband passed away and no less a literary figure than Thomas Pynchon suggested the title! How awesome is that!

Here we are on the set with Mary.

We had a total blast talking about writing and books and marketing and why we're both so smart! Since the show is only local for Duarte residents, my Ninja Webmaster will get a copy of it and post it on the website.

You have got to check out my hair, which is seriously the best part of the interview for me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Friday

The perfect storm of fat-positive publicity...

1. Rebecca Rabinowitz posts on Shapely Prose a list of children's and YA books that emphasize positive images about weight - and she promises to read VEE!

2. ALL ABOUT VEE is mentioned on Amazon's book blog, Omnivoracious, as part of its YA Wednesday post re: fat-positive teen books.

3. The AP reports that models on the 2008 Fashion Week runways are size 2-4, instead of size 0.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

The "One Year Ago" Game

Do you play this...

One year ago, I was working ----. I was seeing -----. I was writing/reading/watching ----.

I think everyone does, particularly on occasions that are marked publicly, like anniversaries and birthdays and holidays, and events like September 11th remembrances. It's hard to believe that horrific tragedy happened 7 years ago. So much has progressed in that time - around the world and in my own personal life. Probably yours too.

I am definitely one of those people who marks time: a week, a month, a year. And I confess to long sessions of navel-gazing on some of the bigger days like "big" birthdays and New Year's. Sometimes the game is fun, as in, "A year ago I was coming back from a fantastic trip to Hawaii." Or "A year ago, I had just published my first novel."

But so often, it's merely depressing because inevitably you're looking back on a time when you were younger and had fewer responsibilities. I think that's especially true on a day like 9/11. We were all younger then and I don't mean simply seven years younger. We were more naive, blissfully unaware of the events to come, the wars to come. Our responsibilities as a nation and as individual Americans were personal ones. Were any of us thinking about our presence around the globe? The concept of a global economy was still very much a bright and rosy future; no one was anticipating the kinds of layoffs and outsourcing that would happen in 7 years' time.

The hardest part about growing older is the increased responsibilities you have in your life. You no longer have time to memorize every song on the Billboard Top 100. You don't have time to be totally current with your fashion sense and hair style and the purse that you're carrying. It's time we recognize that as a country. We have to accept we have certain obligations in this world, to carry our weight and be part of a team effort for global responsibility.

We are not "us" and the rest of the world is "the other." We are all on this planet together.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Bed With Books Likes Vee!

This is a fantastic review from Liviania at In Bed With Books. I have always enjoyed her reviews because they're insightful and unique. I never feel like I'm reading a rehash of a bunch of other reviews. She seems to find the nugget of truth within a book and reveals it for all of us to see.

Her review of VEE is just as special. I adore this review, not simply because it's a positive one, but because Liviania really got the book. She understood the important relationships in Veronica's life and that Veronica was not simply trying to find a job as an actress. And I especially love that the book surprised Liviania, that her assumptions at the beginning were challenged.

Not-so-positive reviews, I should mention, can also get the book but simply not enjoy it. When the two come together - the comprehension and the appreciation - as in this one, it really makes me feel good, like I've written a good book. And really, that's all you ever want as an author: to write a good book.

Thanks, Liviania, and thanks for the picture of the leg warmers! They look fabulous on you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bogged down by Blogger

It starts so want to follow a blog so you list it on your dashboard. You get updates every morning and don't have to search it out. You think, That's nice.

So you add another. And every morning, there are 2 blogs you look at. Gosh, that's nice too.

Then another is added and a fourth and a fifth and pretty soon, Blogger has a huge list of blogs you read, just waiting for you to click your little mouse on them and load them into a bunch of new Firefox tabs. And the next thing you know, an hour has passed. Aw, crap!

In the blink of an eye, you have spent sixty minutes reading other people's stuff and your own stuff has languished.

How can it be only Tuesday and I'm so far behind?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mark your calendars

Personally, I always use a RL calendar that has little squares in it and I can write in them and cross things out and the whole month is there for me to see. I just can't do it electronically. I have tried to do the Yahoo thing and I even had a Google widget for my desktop that was connected to my calendar but that meant I had to keep the computer on all the time just to check my availability on a particular day.

Plus I like flipping pages ahead to see what's coming up. I sort of feel like, "surprise!" when I use the widget because it just tells me what I'm doing that day.

[Does it really astonish no one that I write incredibly long books and then cut them down? I mean, my whole life is one long draft...]

Upcoming this fall:

--Thursday, 9/11, 7PM: Appearance on a Duarte public access television show to promote ALL ABOUT VEE and the Duarte Festival of Authors. Yay, television! Check it out if you live in the area that receives this station and tell me what you think.

--Sunday, 9/28, 1PM: West Hollywood Book Fair, West Hollywood, CA. I will be moderating a panel of fantastic YA authors (Lisa Yee, CG Watson, Joyce Lee Wong, Janet Tashjian) and then signing VEE at the Barnes & Noble booth. I love this fair so much and have attended and/or participated every year since it began!

--Saturday, 10/4, 10AM: Duarte Festival of Authors, Duarte, CA. Along with Liane Bonin, I will be on a YA author panel and we will also have an exhibitors' table all day. Please stop by and say hello if you're in the area! Ray Bradbury will also be there!

--Saturday, 10/25: SCBWI Conference, Oakland, CA. With CG Watson and others, I will be on a panel to discuss young adult lit.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Friday

5 Selfish Things

1. My episode of Connie Martinson Talks Books was on in the San Francisco area Thursday morning, which is very cool and means that other parts of the country may eventually see me trying really hard not to look into the camera while simultaneously attempting to impress Connie.

2. The LA Triathlon is this Sunday which means...virtually nothing to me except the road closures may threaten my dance class which is down in the Wilshire/La Brea area. That would totally bum me out, much as I appreciate other peoples' interest in running, biking and swimming. I wonder how many people entered after being inspired by the Olympics.

3. Speaking of Olympics, I had an AMAZING *gold medal* celebrity sighting on Thursday morning. Check the Lite Snacks page of my website for more info.

4. I want to add knitting to the things I wish could help me earn a living.

5. Another round of thanks to all the people who entered last weekend's contests at the Page Flipper and YA Fresh. I loved every single comment that was left at the blogs and was really touched so many people were interested in winning my book.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fall in LA

For those of us who grew up on the east coast, particularly New England which has four distinct seasons at consistent times of the year, fall has always been marked by Labor Day. Even if the new season doesn't officially begin until September 21, we have always known summer ended with that last long weekend. School starts up again, Halloween decorations are in the stores, and wool is a key ingredient in everybody's clothes.

Yeah, we used to sweat a LOT in our new school clothes. And when I was a cheerleader, we couldn't wait for cold weather to make us more comfortable in our heavy uniforms.

But here in LA, as it is in many southern and southwestern cities, fall is only a concept. The daytime temperatures don't change much, even when you flip the page of the calendar not once but two times, especially in the Valley where you are still using your air conditioning until long into October.

I love that the warm weather lasts for most of the year here. I love that I don't wear wool. But I kind of miss the autumn of my youth: the smell of apples from the orchards up the street, the cool crisp air in the mornings before school began, the colors of the leaves changing from green to red to orange. I never liked snow much (unless I was inside at the time) and I don't like being cold and bundling up in layers but I loved, loved, LOVED fall.

As an aside, when I read books by Ray Bradbury, I always think of fall. He writes in a certain melancholy that I identify with the season: Something Wicked This Way Comes in particular comes to mind.

I wonder, though, how much of that is merely my romanticizing my younger days. Just as HH and I were longing for New York City when we were watching "Ghostbusters," perhaps I'm longing for a fall that no longer exists. We couldn't return to NYC and expect to have what we had when we were 10 years younger and living in our tiny apartment in Brooklyn, nor can I expect to have the same sort of fall if I were to return to Connecticut.

That makes me even more melancholy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I am so thrilled to be sending out signed copies of ALL ABOUT VEE to Vanessa who won at The Page Flipper's contest and Hope who won at YA Fresh's contest. Each one drew a TON of entries which was so awesome! I LOVED reading all the comments! It made me wish I had a hundred more books to give out.

I will sign and send those copies out ASAP and I really do hope Vanessa and Hope will let me know when they've read the book. And here's my plug to them: please post a review!

Love it? Hate it? Doesn't matter! Your opinion counts!

Many, many thanks to Chelsea and to Kelly and Tina at YA Fresh. I'll be back at The Page Flipper in a few weeks for a live chat (loved the last one!!) so definitely stop by for that!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Paula Yoo at readergirlz!

My friend Paula's terrific book, GOOD ENOUGH, is being featured on the fab readergirlz website as the book of the month for September! And Paula herself is the featured author. Check out the very cool roundtable discussion about the book and see here for more info about Paula and her books.

And of course, if you haven't read it yet (you haven't????) go get it!

Great interview, Paula! Great choice, readergirlz!

TRT Newsletter & Star Trek in Vegas

What do these two things have to do with each other? Absolutely nothing except they are the big topics on my mind this morning.

Bad news first: "Star Trek, the Experience," which is 2 rides and a very cool exhibit, is leaving the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas where it's been for over a decade. Ninja Webmaster and I went to this about 4 years ago and had a great time, although one of the rides was broken when we were there so we could only do the one. As I recall, they gave us a couple of passes to come back. Alas, we never did. And now it's too late.

This is making we wish I had some Star Trek episodes in the queue.

Now some good news: if you're fans of Teens Read Too, like I am, you probably get the awesome newsletter Jen sends out. So check out the latest edition: I've got an article in there about writing called "Is it any good?" Here's the link to subscribe. And it's free!

And they have so many other great things there that are also completely free of charge: books reviews, author interviews, a reading club, contests and much more! Gotta love free stuff...

Live long and prosper~

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cheshire Public Library Podcast #19: Me!

Wow, this has been whole bunch of blogs about me and my books and my interviews: first the contests last week (The Page Flipper and YA Fresh both end today so get your comments in!), then the interview at YA Fresh, and the great reviews at Teens Read Too and on Harmony Book Reviews and now...

A podcast!

Take a listen over at their on Episode #19!

Now don't be afraid when you hear the music at the beginning...I come on right after that! And then there follows some singing and a poem and many other cool things so it's not all me. Just the first fifteen minutes are me! LOL!

Thanks so much to everyone involved in the podcast, especially Loan Le, the fantastic and wise interviewer with the terrific questions and Sarah Kline Morgan, the fab librarian from whose creative brain all these things flow.