Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Room of My Own!

A lot of you know that I got all crazy over the holidays because we moved for the first time in 12 years. I'll spare you all the gory details, but we got the opportunity to move into a much larger house in the same neighborhood. This house is cool, not only because it's a lot bigger and I finally don't have to share 5 feet of closet space with the DH, or because our good friends live right next door and we share a backyard and subsequently all of the children, but also because I'm getting this:

That's right - my own office! Just a few feet from the back door. Okay, it doesn't look like much now, but give it a month or so. The left hand part is going to be a covered patio with doors on a rail that slide open and the right hand part is going to be my own perfectly tiny space.

The desk over there actually fits right into the little bay window in the front. I'm thinking the back of the space will either have shelves or a big ol' bookcase for the many, many books I seem to mysteriously acquire.

These French doors are going to open right onto a fab patio where I can work 'al fresco' whenever I feel like it.

I never really bought into the whole 'room of one's own' thing until recently. DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS was written partly in my kitchen and partly in a drafty gym waiting for my kid to finish gymnastics. While a person should be able to write wherever they are, a place that is designated for the job, away from the kitchen, the laundry and the little piles of dog hair that I always seem to spot under the piano just when I'm getting into a scene should make me a lot more productive. Or at least take away any last excuse I have not to be.

On Thursday, I'm blogging over at YA Outside the Lines on a subject not that far off of this one - go check it out.

On this date: In 1979, The Dukes of Hazzard premiered.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It's Portia's turn this week and her recommendation is....

LUCY THE GIANT by Sherri L. SmithAlright. I have a secret. A guilty pleasure if you will. I do indeed read the books that my 10 year old sister brings home for herself to read. I have read a surprising number of Candy Apple books. (5 graders have really cute problems.) My little sister has pretty good taste. She read Harry Potter, Series of Unfortunate Events, the usual. All the stuff her school library has, so not a whole tonna YA. When I picked up this book the other day, I was surprised to find out that A) it was a YA book, and B) it actually looked kinda deep and interesting. My kind of book.

Anyway, this book followed a girl named Lucy (she's 6 feet tall) who lives in Alaska with her alcoholic father. Lucy has to pick up her father from the bar multiple times a week because he'll pass out. Her mother left when she was a little girl. She has only one friend, and it's her dog, Santa Barbara. One day, Lucy just can't take it anymore. Her dog has died, and her father is the epitome of drunk and unloving, so she hops a plane and runs away. Once she's in a different part of Alaska, Lucy is free to reinvent herself, and forge a new identity and future apart from her father and her height as out of towner Barb.

When she gets a chance to join a fishing boat and crew--Geneva, Tracer, Don, and the captain, Harley. While on the fishing boat, Lucy works harder than she ever worked in her life, but for once, she's accepted. However, Lucy can't hide from her future forever, and she can't hide her true identity. What will happen when she's spotted by someone who knows "Lucy the Giant" from back home??

This was a change in books for me. I have never really read about a tall girl in Alaska who runs away and joins a fishing ship. I doubt most people have, actually. But it was a really good book, one that got me thinking how lucky I was to have 2 parents who love me, solid friends, and a home in California. :)g

Thanks Portia - another one to add to my reading pile!

On this date: In 1981, the Iran Hostage Crisis ended.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paperback Makeover!

The paperback of DLS is coming out in March and I just got permission to reveal the new cover:

It sounds ridiculous, but I particularly love the back - there are blurbs from Geralin Thomas, one of the organizers of the show Hoarders on A&E and another from Courtney Summers, an author I greatly admire and whose review of DLS I hold close to my heart.

Look for it in bookstores soon!

On this date: In 1908, the Grand Canyon National Monument is created.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The LitChicks - Beauty Rules by Bobbi Brown

Yes, it's LitChicks time again! Leisl asked last week if she could review an unusual book and I was in a good mood, so I said sure. Even if it's not YA, I love to see what the most voracious readers I know are thinking and reading.

Leisl's pick this week?

BEAUTY RULES by Bobbi Brown

This was the only book on my Christmas list this year and I was thrilled to open it! I was anxious to read it and after all the fun family festivities I grabbed a blanket and got reading. This was a fantastic book! I absolutely loved it. This wasn't a novel and I wouldn't characterize it as a self help's more of a guide to self love and fun beauty tricks/tips. I would advise it for all girls who love makeup or just want a good book to read. The thing I loved about Bobbi was that her main makeup philosophy wasn't covering up imperfections or hiding the things you don't necessarily like about yourself, it was highlighting the things you do love and "lovingly minimizing flaws."I liked that in all the before and after pictures throughout the book in all the captions she had something really nice and genuine to say about each girl. She would complement their skin or eyes…anything, and then she would show them how to highlight it with fun makeup. I learned that you should either have dramatic eye makeup or lips but not both. As a blue eyed mascara makes my eyes "pop" and that there is more than just physical appearance to being beautiful.

On this date: In 1994, skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked in Knee-Gate.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dirty Secret by Jessie Sholl

I hate admitting things that don't make me look so great, but sometimes you just have to. I found out about Jessie Sholl's memoir DIRTY SECRET because of a snarky comment I made on Twitter. I was searching for my book on Amazon and stumbled on her upcoming book in the process - I think I tweeted something like "Just found a book called DIRTY SECRET about hoarding. Can you say check titles?"

Sometimes you forget that everything you say online is public. That if you say something snarky about someone else's book they're likely to see it. And send you an email.

Lucky for me, Jessie is very nice and sent me a message that she didn't know about my book when they titled hers and would I be interested in seeing an advance copy? As she also told me that she'd read and loved my book, I was sufficiently shamed and said that I would love a copy.In the months since, we've become online friends, realizing that any confusion about titles is probably good for both of us - she even interviewed me for her blog.

So enough about how we 'met'. What about her book? In short, it's great. Her publicist sent me a copy of DIRTY SECRET: A Daughter Comes Clean About her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding a few months ago and I tore through it in a matter of hours. To me, it felt eerily like my character Lucy was all grown up and had written her own book about dealing with her mother as an adult. DIRTY SECRET gets into the details of what it is like to grow up with a hoarder and what the secrets do to you and how the situation morphs as both parties get older. There are many of the same elements in this book that are in my story - piles of belongings, 'collections', rationalization and denial. To top it off, Jessie's book has lots of teeny tiny bugs - you'll close the cover itching. Throughout the book you experience frustration as she has to deal with her mother's decline but also the compassion that she feels precisely because it is her mother. And there is a great and honest epilogue.

DIRTY SECRET came out on December 28th. You can buy it here or here or head down to your local bookstore and ask for it. If you're interested in hoarding - or complex mother-daughter-relationships - you won't be disappointed.

Find out more about Jessie on her website.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Upside of Offline

If I haven't said it to you personally, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year. Oh, and Happy Birthday if it applies. Yeah, I've been gone awhile.

If you're familiar with the blog, you know by this post that my work life basically stopped on November 13th. When my friend's son landed in the ICU, all of us rallied around trying to support them as they went through a difficult time. I've said recently that it was a lot like the feeling you get when you're riding in an airplane. We all know it won't make a difference, but it seems that just by concentrating and wishing hard, you can keep the plane in the air. Or keep your friend's son from dying.

Well, whether it was the cumulative brain power of all of their friends and family or (far more likely) the amazing efforts of the hospital ICU team, I'm happy to say that RJ's tumors are gone and he's currently at home recuperating before his next round of chemo. He feels icky, but he's actually doing really well and the prognosis is very good.

As things eased at the hospital, we moved to our new house and painted, fixed up and rented our old house and the holidays became a blip in the rear-view mirror (yes, I'm one of those people who wants the tree down on the 26th - family pressure kept it up until yesterday) I started to wonder what was going on in the rest of the world. Since mid-November I haven't really blogged, tweeted or Facebooked and it's been an interesting experience.

My lovely and talented friend Daisy Whitney dropped by the other day and in talking to her, I realized just how unplugged I've been. Morris Awards? The nominee list came out? Really? Who made the bestseller list last week? Editorial Anonymous is coming back? John Green loved Anna and the French Kiss? I didn't have a clue about any of it.

Sure, I've been feeling a little guilty about not being around. The three of you (okay, I know it's really four, but I try not to count my mom) who regularly read the blog must have been really bored seeing the same post week after week. I felt so bad every time I'd get a new follower on Twitter - they probably unfollowed this mostly absentee writer before the day was over. And I didn't get to congratulate several friends whose books came out in the past month.

I started paying a little more attention the past couple of days - getting on Facebook and Twitter and Google searching my name. I found some great new reviews and my book on several end-of-the-year lists. That was all cool. But then I found something that I'd blissfully forgotten about. Namely, that pit-of-the-stomach disappointment when my book didn't appear on a certain list or in a blog post about the reader's favorite 2010 books. The tinge of the green-eyed monster that tends to show up when someone loves a book that doesn't happen to be mine. That sense of unworthiness and self doubt I start to get when I read about someone else's amazing book. And Lord, let's not talk about the ill-fated foray to Amazon.

Yeah, I realized that I didn't miss any of that at all. I've started to wonder if there is such a thing as a happy medium. Can I go online and interact with my friends and readers and keep up with news of the writing world without getting all wrapped up in the self-indulgent stomach-clenching comparisons it usually brings? I honestly don't know.

If I were a resolution making person, I'd probably resolve to not go online so much. But soon the kids are going back to school and I'm going to get my real life back. Sitting here in my kitchen all by myself gets lonely and Twitter and Facebook make me think that there are other people out there. Basically, I need the interaction. Maybe I can just change the way I react to online news.

But I doubt it.