Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If I Can Make It There...

Just got back from a whirlwind weekend trip to NYC. DH has been working out there quite a bit recently and I didn't want him to spend our anniversary alone, so I flew in on Friday and out last night, so that I could get in a quick trip to visit both editors for the first time.

I'd only been to NY once before, and that trip was all about kid-friendly eateries and where the nearest playground was located because of the one year old we had in tow at the time. This time, we were kidless (thanks to some impressive kid-wrangling by our fabulous friends and neighbors)and got to go and play in the city. So what did we do? Totally tourist stuff.

We went to Central Park:

and to the Museum of Natural History, although the kids all know it as that "Night At The Museum" place.

In the People of Africa hall, there was a display of Yoruba ceremonial costumes that brought back some terrifying childhood memories for DH, so of course, I'm thinking about making this shot into a poster:

We went to Times Square (I didn't notice the guy in the I heart NY shirt until today, but it looks like I meant to put him there):

and I got so freaked out by the sheer numbers of people that we had to repair to the top of the Penninsula Hotel for drinks. I then discovered that the higher off the ground you are, the more expensive the drink.

We did a lot of "running into stuff", which I guess is what NY is all about. We ran into some dancers in Central Park:

and a city-wide chess tournament by the fountain:

and the start of a mile-race that featured a runner named Lagat who is apparently quite famous and made DH very happy:

Unfortunately, we couldn't run fast enough to see the end. I got into taking pictures of the tiled subway signs because they are so cool:

On Monday, I showed up here:

which is where Walker/Bloomsbury is located. I got to spend time with my editor Mary Kate and Anna the publicist and then went a few blocks to Clarion/Houghton Mifflin to spend more time with my other editor Lynne and Jen the publicist. The whole experience made me feel like a real author talking books and stuff and stuff with the people in the biz. Plus I got to take some books with me (Jen Nadol's The Mark which is coming out next year has one of the best opening chapters I've read in ages). I was so jazzed to be there that I forgot to take any more photos. But it's a nice building.

The whole trip was totally worth sitting on the runway at JFK for two hours in the rain trying to get home last night. At least there was TV - go Jet Blue! Can't wait to do it again - spring break isn't all that far away...

On this date: In 1907, Gene Autry was born.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What I Did on my Weekend

Besides the fabulous book party that took place on Friday, Saturday brought another first - my first Book Festival up in Sonoma. The location of the booth was a bit "eh", the traffic was a bit "eh" but the day was fantastic because I got to hang out with fellow YAers Malinda Lo (Ash), C. Lee McKenzie (Sliding on the Edge) and Cheryl Herbsman (Breathing Lessons).

They all had books come out this year, so I pretty much spent the entire time picking their brains and learning from their experiences. The main downside was that I spent way more than I made buying signed books from them. My "to read" list just got a lot longer...

On this date: In 1846, Neptune was discovered.

Monday, September 21, 2009

So...How Was It?

Awesome! As you may recall, I was a bit nervous about the book launch party on Friday (anyone who saw me in the hours leading up to it, saw me muttering "I so don't want to do this"), but it was completely unfounded.

We had a great time, although it was a little like a wedding in that I remember seeing people for a few seconds, but really didn't get to talk to anyone for long. I was so touched that so many people came out to celebrate - there must have been somewhere north of 100 people.

The bookseller brought 50 books and sold out, saying he could have sold many more. We had munchies from some of the countries we visit in the book and the cake...well, you can see the amazing, TV-worthy cake for yourself. The top was Six O'clock and was double chocolate, and the bottom was a preview of Dirty Little Secrets and was vanilla/raspberry. When it came time to cut it, I was wincing at defiling the art, but the creator assured me that it was okay. And boy, was it.

The adults had fun, the kids had fun and the author had fun.

Special thanks go to Tim at Zocalo for the fabulous location (if you ever need a warm and wonderful place to throw a party, talk to Tim), Julie Durkee and Sue McDonough for the amazing cake, Jill Raimondi for donating said amazing cake, Kate Miller for keeping me sane and Kavita Lalwani for taking me to the Indian store for samosas. We had people from the North Bay and San Francisco - I can't thank them enough for taking time out of their Friday night to share such a fabulous moment.

I'd do it again in a minute. Oh wait, maybe we will in February!


I got a surprise today - I'm featured as a new voice in Cynsations, Cynthia Leitich Smith's amazing blog. SO thrilled!

On this date: In 1866, H.G. Wells was born.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Tonight is the official launch party for When It's Six O'clock in San Francisco. I have a stomach ache. Throwing parties makes me nervous - add in a book signing and lots of people and it is exponentially more stressful. Do we have enough food? Drinks? What if we run out of books to sign? What if nobody wants any? Will the samosas be too spicy? Ack!

Seriously, it should be fun and I'm sure it will be once I get there and get down to business. If you're in the neighborhood (Zocalo on Bancroft 7-9pm) stop by for some munchies and cake.

On top of the party stress, tomorrow is my first book festival in Santa Rosa at the Sonoma County Book Festival. I'll be sitting with some great SCBWI authors and selling books in space 88 starting at 10am.

Wanna bookmark? Postcard? Come see me and I'll set you up!

On this date: In 1994, my nephew was born - Happy Birthday Con-Man!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Changing the Hes to Shes

The first novel I wrote had a boy main character and had race as a central theme. Like most first books, this one has a big place in my heart and it's always been a bummer that we haven't found a home for it. All of a sudden, someone is interested in it, although it will likely mean changing the boy main character to a girl and changing it from middle grade to young adult.

Does that bother me? Actually, less than you might think. I'm funny in that I really love revisions (first drafts are another story) and I don't mind changing things radically if it serves the story better - after all, in this day and age, you can always delete the new version if you don't like it and go back to the old one. So I'm basically starting on page one and changing the main character to a girl and it's working out a lot better than I thought it would once I made the mental adjustment. I've also discovered a few things, namely that a strong girl main character can be a skateboarder and can enjoy things that other girls might find disgusting. She can have a boy as a best friend and be a bit snarky while underneath being a bit insecure. The best part is that now other threads are wrapping up even more nicely than before - in some ways, it makes more sense going from Tyler to Taylor and I can write in a romantic thread that I couldn't do before (apparently, I can't write romance from a boy point of view).

And if I don't like it, there's always the Delete button.

Note to self: When youngest son says that his tummy feels funny, don't feed him pea soup right before bed. It's been a rough couple of days.

On this date: In 1963, four black schoolgirls are killed in Birmingham.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Went outside to walk the dog this morning and the harbinger of change (also known as the oak tree in front of my house) sez that summer is almost over.

While part of me is grateful that the kids are in school and I might actually get some work done, the other part is not ready for the decline into the winter. As any parent knows, Halloween is the beginning of the end, so I've got a little over a month before I can really start kvetching.

In other news, I got a really amazing message from someone who read an ARC of Dirty Little Secrets the other day. There are a few ARCs out there (I've been told by my publicist that more should be going out in the next few weeks), but it is still startling to me to have someone who's not related to me/paid to read it, reading the book. I've been holding my breath about readers who have had hoarding touch their lives and their opinion of it. This reader had amazing things to say about it and what a raw experience it was for her, dredging up all sorts of emotions. I'm hoping that readers who will personalize the story find it an ultimately positive experience, but even more, that it opens the door for discussion about this all-too-familiar secret.

Have a great weekend!

On this date: In 2001 (was it really 8 years ago?) the World Trade Center was attacked.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This N That

Mostly because I can't think of anything inspiring to say today, I'm directing you to my guest blog over at Author's Now! I'm doing this the 8th of every month and so far I haven't forgotten once. Check it out...

Lately, I've been watching Hoarders on A&E, Mondays at 10pm (sometimes 9pm too if they're running an old episode). One of my biggest fears is that Dirty Little Secrets is going to be viewed as exploitative, which was never the intent. The book is just one girl's story of living with hoarding in her life. So far, I think A&E is doing a pretty good job of balancing the incredible living situations with information on the disorder as the experts try to help the people with the disorder. My biggest complaint so far is that they make it look easy - come in, clean up the house, problem solved. As anyone with any familiarity with hoarding knows, problem not solved, maybe not ever. That said, anything that gets the disorder out into the light and gets people talking is a good thing, and they have some resource information at the bottom of their website.

For me, the first and best option for hoarding information is the Children of Compulsive Hoarders website. Unfortunately, the forums got too big for the servers recently, so it has been turned into a read-only site, but it's still amazing.

Oh, and I'm goin' to NYC! Yay. The hubs has been working out there, so I'm going to see him, spend some time in Manhattan, meet my editors/publicists for the first time and get a tour around both Walker and Clarion. Can't wait. Now, what to wear....?

On this date: In 1966, Star Trek premiered.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Eeny Meeny Miny

I'm faced with an abundance of choices and it's driving me crazy. My kind of writer's block isn't that I sit down and nothing comes. It's that there are so many possibilities for a story that I can't decide which version is the right one.

Just sent off a follow up to When It's Six O'clock in San Francisco (fingers crossed everyone), my freelance work is cleared off my desk for the next few weeks so I now have time (and no excuse whatsoever) to focus on the new YA. Problem is, I'm not sure how it goes.

When I write, it's like a movie playing in my head (I've heard other writers say this, so I'm pretty sure I'm not totally insane) and that movie can start pretty much anywhere. Right now I'm trying to decide what the opening scene is for my movie. Does it start at her parent's cocktail party? On the beach during the day? At the bonfire? Somewhere else altogether? Ack! What if I pick one and it's the other that is really right? These are the choices we face and it can be stultifying.

Times like this I wish the fickle finger of the God of Writing would come down, point to the correct option (even if it's D - none of the above) and say "That one! That's it right there." We'd all be ever so grateful.

On this date: In 1875, Porche is born.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Teacher Guide

For all you teachers out there, we just posted an amazing teacher guide for When It's Six O'clock in San Francisco on my website. Created by the uber talented teacher/writer/friend/sometimes roomate Cassandra Whetstone, it has fun leveled activities for kids grades K-6 that correspond to most curriculum requirements. Cassandra rocks because she makes me look much smarter than I am.

Look over on the top right hand side of the blog. See where it says "resources"? Click there and it will take you to the teacher guide PDF. Download it, print it and use it as much as you want.

On this date: In 1985, the wreck of the Titanic is found.