Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday 5

1. Crises are over.

a. Bee remains dead, joined in death by his twin brother who is now at the bottom of my garbage disposal.

b. Highlighters replaced--no green, though; I prefer retractable highlighters (just like my pens) because I either lose the caps or, at work, they come apart in my pocket. So now BLUE is the new GREEN.

All my problems should be this easy to fix.


3. Had a BLAST this morning at I-Hop with Pam. Writer talk, face-to-face, a rare treat for us both. Oh--and food, of course...and no, I couldn't be happy with a mountain of eggs, bacon, and hash browns, plus a slab of French toast stuffed with cream cheese and drowned in blueberry topping. Oh, no-o-o-o-o-o! I also had to order a black cherry crepe covered in whipped cream and drizzled with frosting. Then Pam and I did our usual 60-minute-sit-on-the-curb-in-the-parking-lot-and-blabblabblab bit, planned our upcoming trip, caught up on stuff family/friends/more writing, why don't we do this more often, Pam??

4. Supreme Typo Queen of the Universe--aka moi--went through this big fat ms (I swear Shawna gained weight on her trip to NYC) and fixed a bazillion typos and dropped/repeated words. Now the real work begins because yes, Shawna does have a few flaws. Some teeny and clearly fixable. Others Quite Serious.

5. Prime the stomach pumps! I'm making dinner tonight.

Mayday! Mayday!

1. Personal crisis: a bee flew into my hair today. It didn't sting me so it wouldn't be such a big deal--except for the fact that it flew into my hair IN MY HOUSE.

I blasted it dead with a hefty squirt of wasp-and-bee killer. The problem is, it took more than one squirt--those suckers are FAST--so now my ceiling is streaked with bug spray and my whole house stinks.

2. Revision crisis: I lost my green and yellow highlighters. I had them at Borders last night. I'm *sure* I packed them away before I left.

I'm anal about the way I do my revisions. The parts I've already taken care of I highlight in YELLOW. The parts I have to go back and revisit I highlight in GREEN. I could probably do it with different colors (clutches heart) but I can't find one--single--highlighter in this cramped, cluttered, bug-spray-reeking house.

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"Help me! He-e-e-ellllp me-e-eeee!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Knock, Knock

And I open the door to find a fat manila envelope sitting on my stoop this afternoon. Yep, it's here. Editorial notes and everything.

I think I'd like a pint of Haagan-Dazs, preferably rum raisin or chocolate-chocolate chip. Sugar and fat always gives me the extra oomph I need to tackle a project. Instead, I'll take a double helping of stuffed French toast w/blueberry topping when Pammie and I meet up for breakfast tomorrow morning.

PAM, PAM, PAM! I'll be sooo glad to see you!

And here I was wondering, if I couldn't get "into" Shawna-2 or the Dogfather, WTH would I do in a couple weeks with my few days of pure, blissful isolation in a 1800s cabin with no toilet in the middle of nowhere?

P.S. I heart my agent. I especially heart that she tells it like it is.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday Ramblings

"You may feel overly capable of communicating your needs today, but following through might not be as easy as deciding what to do. It isn't the end of the world if you don't ultimately get your way. Carefully step around a potential emotional conflict, for it won't be productive now to lose your temper. You'll be better off if you can find a way to show your intent without being so dramatic."

Me dramatic? Me? MEEEEE????

OK--sometimes. I admit it.

Random babbling:

1. I've discovered these low fat-low carb green onion tortilla wraps from La Tortilla Factory--3 net carbs per wrap and these are actually EDIBLE! A bit pricey at >3 bucks a pack, but well worth it if you're watching carbs. Most of this low card bread-stuff is absolutely crap, but these are delicious!

2. It's bad enough when you have bill collectors calling your house re: unpaid bills. It's even worse having these idiots call your house in regards to someone for Grandma who, unfortunately, must have lived solely off her credit cards (unbeknownst--is that a word?--to any of us) for the past 10 years. What part of "Alzheimers-Medicaid-Now-in-a-nursing-home-and-NO-I-am-not-going-to-tell-you-which-one" do these idiots not understand? They call. And call. And callcallcallcallcall. Newsflash: I did not run up those bills. My name is not on the credit card. If you think I am paying this you are f$king out of your minds."

I totally burned off one collector's ears yesterday. TOTALLY. And guess what? It felt good. I am not a screamer by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, I can be dramatic, and yes, my voice projects--blame this on 3 years of high school drama classes--but I normally don't yell at people. I get "snotty", not loud. But yeah, I was loud yesterday and even though the dude (who gives me a different name every time he calls like he doesn't REALIZE I can recognize his voice by now) tried to talk over me (don't you LOVE when people do that?) I ripped him a new one (sans profanity, even) and slammed the phone. I felt cleansed and rejuvenated. I should scream more often.

3. Do you guys have any idea what a shock/thrill/moment of sheer unreality it is for a brand new author to actually see her name on a page right next to JOHN GREEN'S???

4. Somehow, someway, I intend to use this lady as a future character in a book. Or "character in a future book", even:

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Enforcing" Healthy Lifestyles?

Well, one place I'll never work at is the Cleveland Clinic. Not only do they test randomly for nicotine--What if a non-smoker rides to work with a smoker? What if you're trying to quit and wear a nicotine patch? I'd have to carry one in my purse for those special occasions when the armed guards hand me a plastic cup and march me to the toilet.

But now they've eliminated all the "good" stuff from their vending machines.

Good stuff meaning all your favorite JUNK FOOD!

"Current vending machine requirements have changed, and AVI, our supplier, is totally participating. Every choice in the vending machine now has to have less than 250 calories, less than 35 percent fat except fat with high monounsaturated fat content such as nuts or seeds, less than 10 percent saturated fat, less than 0.5 g of trans fat, less than 200 mg of sodium, and added sugars must be less than 25 percent of total calories."

Which means you are left with peanuts, Kashi bars, lowfat "baked" potato chips--a sacrilege if there ever was one--and possibly trail mix, though it seems to me trail mix may be pretty high up there on the fat scale (I don't know and I don't have the energy to check because I haven't yet met my daily requirement of 2,000 carb grams and 5,500 fat grams).

My sources tell me, however, they still have sugar sweetened soda (that'll probably be next to go). Oh! Oh! Oh! And a McDonald's off the main lobby! The fumes from that place alone can clog your carotids.

Sometimes the only thing that gets me through a shift, aside from 6-8 cups of Seattle's Best, is a couple of frozen Snickers bars (or Almond Joys or Twix or whatever happens to be handy) and a fistful of Twizzlers--okay, TWO fistfuls--to say nothing of ice cream.

My thoughts are:

1. Those poor nurses, deprived of fat and sugar, will undoubtedly deteriorate into stumbling zombies. Their normally sweet and sunny dispositions will take a major nosedive. These are the same people who, one day, will come into your room and jab you with needles at regular intervals. Do you want us to be unhappy? Do you wants our endorphin levels to sink so low that we have to find new and unusual ways to boost them back up again? Ask any serial killer what boosts their endorphin levels.

2. Black market goodies! OMG, I would make a killing in that place! Buy it in bulk from Sam's Club and sell it under the table. Of course there are probably Rules Against This. I'd have to be very discreet:

Pssst! Whatcha got today?

Mm, let's about a Musketeers. It's fluffy, not stuffy.

I don't want fluffy! I want substance! I got seven admissions coming in today, I haven't had a lunch, I'm surrounded by frickin' idiots, and--

Okay! Okay!
Glancing around... Shh...I have one. Snickers. Bar. Left.

Oh, thank God, thank God!
The poor thing is actually sobbing. How much?

Five bucks.

Pause... Five BUCKS? Are you nuts?

Points to vending machine. Why dontcha go buy yourself a carob bar? It's pasty. Not tasty.

Grumble, grumble But, b-but...willya take three-fifty? I'm trying to hold some back for the cigarette lady.



Four-twenty-five, and--
Long suffering siiiiiigh! --I'll throw in a peppermint patty.


3. Will they eventually spot-check for sugar? If you pee on a stick and it turns purple, does that mean you're fired? What about random BMI measurements? Breath-a-lyzers that pick up the scent of chocolate? A Goodie Gestapo to search you at the door? "Achtung! You vill now OPEN YOUR LUNCHBOX! Schnell! Schnell!"

4. Why IS that McDonald's still there? Think about it.

5. Is anyone ELSE sick of people trying to tell you how to live your life?

Monday, September 24, 2007



Yeah, I know. We lost to Oakland yesterday.

But this is one baby who's thrilled to wear the colors of our team:

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GO JULIANA! *smile*

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Continuing the Story

This is highly presumptuous of me, considering STW hasn't yet been submitted, let alone sold. And I'm not egotistical or clueless enough to be completely certain this will happen.

But what do you do when you wake up at 4:30 in the morning, strangely wired and unable to go back to sleep?

You wander the house. You make coffee. If you're a smoker, you smoke. If you're a TV watcher you might surf the channels (I'm not, and I didn't). You might blog, which of course I did. Then I sat outside and watched vapor rise off the grass as the sun slowly rose through the trees...

And then I went back inside and started a sequel.

Nothing may ever come of it, but I'm pleased with what I have so far. There are so many more directions in which Shawna could take me, or I her. Or maybe we can simply embark on a journey together.

The thing about sequels is, it's like reconnecting with old friends. You know their thoughts and desires, their likes and dislikes, their secret passions, flaws, insecurities, you know their whole freaking history. All you have to do is string the sentences together, add more goals, more conflicts, more situations, more ideas. This could prove an insurmountable task, or it could turn out to be surprisingly easy. Or somewhere in between.

I've toyed with the idea of sequel for Before/After many times. Readers have given me several reasons for this: 1. they felt the story needed more "closure" in regard to Martha's relationships with several people she loved, and 2. they genuinely want to know "what happened to her next." I've been reluctant to take her any further because life doesn't always have "closure" and I believe the end of the story makes people think. I'm happy with that.

Shawna, on the other hand...

I'm not going to make a firm decision until I find out if this novel will be published. This might not happen for quite a while. Obviously, it needs editing; no first submission is "perfect." I'm happy with that, too. To me, editing is by far more exciting than writing the first versions. It's amazing to watch the story comes together in way you never expected, to tweak and polish, to cut out worthless scenes that add nothing to the story, to add brand new scenes that draw the rest of it together. To sit back and say wow! To feel that incredible sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing you've created this world, these characters, and yeah--this works!

So for now I'm merely messing around. But the possibilities are there,. So is the excitement. :)

This doesn't apply to those of you who are writing or have already written trilogies, but how many of you are planning a sequel? How far do you think you can take your characters?

A (sad) Nursing Rant

For the first time since 1982 I'm considering looking for a new job.

I've been at my place of employment this long for 3 reasons:

1. the belief that every other hospital is equally bad
2. it's a small place, I know everyone, I have a lot of friends, and I'd truly miss it
3. I don't "do" well with change

The thing is, I am being worked to death. It's one thing to do this back-breaking floor nursing when you're in you twenties or thirties. Physically, it's devastating. Back injuries abound. You barely get to sit down, let alone go to the bathroom. Mentally, it's draining. Emotionally, it's frustrating--you can NOT give the most basic care to the patients who need it because the hospital refuses to adequately staff us. I did not go into nursing so I could ignore people's needs, which is exactly what I often have to do. This is depressing. Even a few years ago things were very, very different. I could leave out of there at the end of my shift still knowing I was a damn good nurse.

But worse than anything, I am sick-sick-SICK of being lied to by the PIPs (People in Power). I mean seriously, absolutely lied to, to my FACE. I know that part of the reason I'm lied to is because--as you all know--I'm not one to keep my mouth shut. If I feel the staffing levels are unsafe, or if I *know* the acuity of the patients calls for more nurses in order to adequately attend everyone's needs, I speak my mind, I argue, I rant, I demand a fair shake. So, for that reason, PIP have a tendency to give me "lip service"; in other words, tell me what they think I *want* to hear and then turn right around and do the exact opposite.

As a very honest person myself, it blows me away when I realize I've been flat-out lied to. In fact, I'd prefer to heatr the PIPs say to me, "Well, Jen, guess what? We're screwing you again! Yessirree, we are NOT sending you any help, we're gonna work you like a Hebrew slave once again and yes, your patients will suffer for it and there's nothing you can do, so have a nice day, toodle-oo!"

I rather hear THAT than a line of bullshit--and frankly, that's all I've been getting these days. The old "oh yes, you'll be getting help tonight, isn't that wonderful" and then POW--"haha, just kidding, screw you."

So screw me outright. SAY you're screwing me and let me be pissed off. I will get over it. Lying ENRAGES me! I feel betrayed at best, manipulated at worst. Plus--and I sooo hate to admit this--it hurts my feelings. Yes, it does. Once I get over the shock, I'm like, why would you lie to me? I never lie to you! And then I feel all miserable and pathetic for taking it personally when, really, the PIPs don't *care* about my personal feelings, so why do I give them so much power over me? Like anything else, it's a business. They're in the business of making money and one way to do this is to cut the staff...and cut it...and cut...and cut it some more...which is why, if you're a patient--unless you're dying--you might be lucky to see your nurse twice a shift. It's not just a matter of not having the time to make you a cup of tea. If you're incontinent, you might be laying in a wet bed (or worse) for several hours before anyone has a chance to get to you. If you're screaming in pain, you might have to wait for a pain pill. If you just want someone to sit and talk to you for a few minutes, forget it.

The sad thing is, there really is nothing I can do about it.

So yeah, I'm looking around. I will never, ever do floor nursing again--I'm too old, too crabby, and no other other place will be any easier--but there has to be something out there for me.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Conflict, briefly

I've been giving a great deal of thought to the internal/external conflicts of my (new) characters.

OK,, this isn't "my" list--it's from this site and I don't believe I've seen this written in simpler terms. Well, since junior high, that is.


1. Conflict exists on two levels: internal and external.

2. Internal conflict is the battle between what the character wants to do and what the character must do.
a. Human nature wants to avoid difficult or unpleasant situations.
b. Conflict forces character to choose between the easy road and the hard road to achieve a goal.
c. Motivation determines what character will gain or lose by making the choice.
d. Characters must have a strong reason to stay in a situation they would rather avoid.
e. If they aren't in a situation they want to avoid, there is no conflict, and no story.

3. External conflict is the external problem that is standing in the way of the the character and his or her goals. The problem can be a natural disaster, loss of a job, death of a loved one, etc.
a. It must be a conflict the character can't resolve, can only deal with.
b. Goals must be so strong they cannot be abandoned in the face of this situation.
c. The external conflict can also be a collision of the hero and heroine's goals.
The Building Blocks of a Strong Plot by Pat Collinge

I need to play around with this as far as Dogfather is concerned before I write another word of the first draft. Conficts, motivations, choices...right now I can think of these only in the most abstract sense. Angelo's not very smart; in fact he may be officially retarded (apologizes to those of you who dislike that word, but it's a word that'll be used t/o the story). I'm playing around it now and no, it's not "Flowers for Algernon"-- he won't turn "brilliant" halfway through --and I swear im nt riting it lik thiz 2 mek it moor reyalistick.

For now I'm simply in Angelo's head, listening to his thoughts and occasionally writing them down. Writing in his voice is proving to be just as difficult as I'd anticipated..

Friday, September 21, 2007


Dear Jen,

So sorry to hear about all the recent anxieties/stessors/disapointments/things-that-generally-piss-you- off in your life. You'll be delighted to know we have no intention of breaking the trend! For that reason we are CANCELLING our fabulous Broadway production of CHICAGO and will refund the full amount of your tickets to your already maxed-out Mastercard which means you had no bloody business buying these exorbitantly expensive tickets in the first place.

We know how much you were looking forward to show. Goodness, it certainly sucks to be you. Therefore, we'd like to extend our apologies for any inconvience and add a heartfelt "nyah-nyah-nyah-NYAH-nyaaaah-nyah!" to one of our favorite customers.

Sincerely, The Management.

Friday 5

1. Melissa Marr of WICKED LOVELY fame had some wickedly lovely things to say about Before/After on her LIVE JOURNAL yesterday. Thank you, Melissa!

2. Lost my cell phone charger. Bought a new one.

3. Lost my camera thingy (ya know, to send pics to your computer?). Still looking for it.

4. Agent. Is Reading. My MS. At This Very. Moment! Okay, maybe not precisely "at this very moment" but she's about halfway through it. I forgot how nuts this submission stuff makes me. Like when you barely survive labor, convinced you're gonna DIE and will never-ever-ever have anything remotely related to sex again? Then, six months later you pee on a stick, a pretty pink line shows up, and you're like: YAYYYY!

Then you're, like: HUH-H-H-H???

5. Got my NEW dryer and my new washer--a Matching Set! Amazing: A dryer with a door you don't have to prop shut with a chair, and a washer with a real working knob you don't have to twist with a screw driver. Ah, luxury!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dogfather Progress

Oh, what the heck. Everyone else is doing it.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4,100 / 60,000

BIG SLICK: 2k7 Release

Huge congrats to Eric Luper with the release of his new YA novel BIG SLICK!

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Amazon description: "All in all, sixteen-year-old Andrew Lang has been dealt a pretty good hand in life. Sure, he has to spend his afternoons slaving away in the hellhole that is his dad’s dry-cleaning business, but even that’s not so bad with Jasmine, the seriously hot Goth-chick senior, working right beside him. So what if she’s got a boyfriend? Plus, Andrew’s got an ace up his sleeve – he’s good at poker. Very good. Unfortunately, all it takes is one bad beat at Shushie’s illegal poker club to turn Andrew’s bankroll from huge to nonexistent. And Andrew’s pretty sure that sooner or later his dad’s going to notice that $600 he “borrowed” from the register. Andrew thinks he may know how to get the money back, but it’s a little bit crazy, and a little bit dangerous . . .

"In this breakneck-paced novel about gambling and growing up, the stakes are high, and Andrew must ask himself: What does going all in really mean?"

Yay, Eric! Wishing you a rapid climb to the top of the list! :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Track Your Sales Record

"TitleZ makes it easy to see how a book or group of books has performed over time, relative to other books on the market. Simply enter a search phrase, book title, or author, and TitleZ returns a comprehensive listing of books from Amazon along with our historical sales rank data."

TitleZ (for all you obsessive-compulsive masochists out there) is free for now. You just have to register.

Oh, no! Another toy!


Is this YOUR editor?

Bird Sitting

While Beth is in Vegas I've been looking after her bird.

I like birds. I'm not a HUGE FAN of birds, but birds are, when they're in a cage, or flying around outside. Not flapping around the room a mile a minute and then dive-bombing into your hair. But she lets this thing out every day for exercise and after 2 days I felt a bit sorry for it.

So I let it out.

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This bird dislikes me. Actually, I don't think it's *me* she totally dislikes; it's just that she loooooves Beth, and I am not Beth.

So I let her fly around a few times (as I covered my head) and then she sits on my shoulder, alternately nibbling on my glasses and trying to eat my necklace. There is something hideously disturbing about the sound of a bird beak chomping madly on a fourteen-carat gold chain less than six inches from your ear drum.

Then she flew down onto my keyboard which she absolutely adores for some reason. Talk about the original "hunt-and-peck" lol. Well, this was annoying. Although she's too light to actually "type" anything, she was definitely in the way. Plus I was afraid she'd crap on the keys. Fritos crumbs, this baby can handle. Bird poop, I'm not so sure.

So finally, after I picked her up off the keyboard for the 10th or 11th time, she settled back onto my pillow.

Then she crapped on the pillow.

Back in the cage, little birdie!!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wasting Time

How is it possible to waste an entire day?

Surprisingly easy.


1. Played around with signs like this one:

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And this one:

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2. Thought about revving up my chainsaw. I had the time. I had the instrument. I had the inclination and the weather was perfect.

And then thought, screw it. I'm not in the mood for an eye splinter. Besides, no one was home in the event of an unexpected kickback aimed directly at my face.

3. Reviewed my contract. Thought I heart my agent for the fifty-thousandth time. :)

4. Skimmed through a few pages of STW. Not the smartest thing to do when you're waiting to hear back. I found a typo. GASP! A typo? Me? Please.

5. Thought about going back on my diet. Really. I thought long and hard about it.

Then I:
A. Ate Crunch-n-Munch and a handful of chocolate cookies.
B. Felt guilty, so I went to the store to stock up on protein.
C. Boiled some eggs. Was informed by the supreme ruler of the household--which is not me by any stretch of the imagination--that if eggs stand up on end they aren't any good.
D. Ground said eggs up in the garbage disposal.
E. Ate more cookies.

6. Cleaned my fridge in a cursory, thirty-second way. Discovered an unopened pack of blue cheese. Not "Bleu" cheese. Actual BLUE CHEESE.

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7. Found out that Starbucks coffee at the grocery store is almost $10 a pound. Bought it anyway. Skipped toilet paper instead. We all have our priorities.

8. Tweaked my MySpace. Decided I'm tired of the layout. Browsed new ones for 5 hrs. Finally thought: Nobody looks at it. Who cares?

Wait, wait, wait! If nobody looks at it, how'd I end up with 580 + friends???

Pssst! Jen! They're not re-e-e-eally your "friends..."

They're not????

NO! They're just people who added you so it looks like they have lots of friends.


Jen. Seriously. Get A Life.

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9. Tried to think of something to say for an online chat tonight. OMG, OMG, what can I say that hasn't been talked to death? I'm winging this one. :)

10. Didn't write.

11. Made spaghetti.

12. Ate more cookies.


(Checking to see how long it takes this to show up on Google)

Just a Reminder

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Twisted Tuesday Thought

Thank you, OJ Simpson, for knocking Britney out of the news.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Long Overdue Nursing Rant

Patient From Hell calls to go to the bathroom. You go in and start to help her out of bed. Her telephone rings. PFH grabs the receiver: "Hello?"

You think PFH is going to say, "Hold on, please, the nurse is here, blahblahblah, I'll call you right back..." or whatever.

But noooOOOOooooo!!!

PFH: "Oh, hiii, blab blab! Blahblah! Blah blah blah! Blah blah? Ohh, blah-blah-blahhhh....!"

You silently steam, and wait, and wait. Hoping the the expression on your face is one of calm compassion. Happy as hell she can't read your mind at the moment.

PFH: "Yeah! Yeah! Blah, blah, blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, blah, blah...and blab, blab, blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaab...." with obviously NO intention of hanging up.

And not a single word to YOU, the nurse, who's two feet away. She doesn't acknowledge the fact you're in the same room and ignores your not-so-subtle hand gestures. When it becomes evident she has no intention of hanging up, you walk out and attend to one of the zillion other things you could be doing. Like taking somebody ELSE to the john who reeeally has to go. Like yourself, who hasn't peed in six hours.

Then--! That same P from H, highly indignant, calls you back to her room: "Where WERE you? Snap! Snarl! Gnash teeth! I thought you were coming RIGHT--BACK!!"

Why would she think that? It was never discussed.

You: "You were on the phone, ma'am. I figured you'd call me when you got off." (Translation: WTF? I'm supposed to stand there for 10 minutes listening to you blab-blab-blab?)

PFH: "Well! I've been waiting for TEN MINUTES! I thought you were never coming back." (heh, I should be so lucky)

You (silently): Oh, so it's okay for ME to wait for YOU to finish your conversation when I have other people who actually have to PEE RIGHT NOW?

Annoying, annoying, annoying, and RUDE. These people think I am at their beck and call every second. They also labor under the absurd delusion that 1 patient = 1 nurse. Or if they do realize they aren't the only patient on the floor, of course their needs are fa-a-a-ar more important than anyone else's. I mean, how dare I NOT stop to make you a cup of tea with sugar and "fresh lemon, please, if you have it" (they must think they're at Cedars-Sinai) when all I'm doing is passing ten thousand pills and hanging blood and IVs and changing diapers and trying to throw my back out by picking some old dude up off the floor who just fell out of bed?

So when a nurse comes into your room--unless someone just died, or it's the Lotto commission informing you of your winnings--please hang up the damn phone or at least offer to summon me back. I hate being treated like a servant. After 30 years it's reeeeeallly getting old.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


"You may not be able to get over the discomforts that push and pull on your heartstrings today. You allow yourself to get hooked by the dramas of life too easily. Fortunately, you have an inner strength that can save you. If you believe that you don't need to play by the same rules as everyone else, at least remember that honesty is still paramount."

Holy (fill in the blank)!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Still Rambling

Horoscope: "Think before you speak; it may be better to wait before making matters even more complicated.


Beth is packed and *I* am exhausted!

For those of you (like me) still struggling with html, I found a great COLOR CHART. I'm working on a MySpace for a friend and it's come in handy.

More reviews listed on my website which is currently being updated by my brilliant webmaster Judah Mahay. Something else I've been putting off, like a haircut, like bills, like trimming my toenails and cleaning the ten thousand empty Dasani bottles out of my car and peeling the stale Twizzlers out of the glove compartment. Like w-r-i-t-i-n-g?!?!?

I finally got my copy of CARPE DIEM so I'll be posting an interview with author Autumn Cornwell as soon as I can, which means as soon as I finish reading it. So far I love VASSAR SPORE--isn't that the coolest name??

Meanwhile, postcard to agent...

Check one:

________ Sucks

________ Doesn't suck

Saturday Rambling

I've had a headache for 2 days. This is not good. I just broke down and took 2 pain pills and I am buzzed beyond belief. I hate this. PLUS I have to work today. I hate that, too.

On the bright side I:

1. Bought a washer to match my new dryer. I am in debt up to my nostrils.

2. Bought a chainsaw. YES--a chainsaw. A little electric jobbie so I can hack down the bushes growing wild around my house. Seriously, I would not want to live next door to me. We have a big yard and aside from mowing it every now and then, we do little else. I plan to weed this week. I'll do before-and-after pics if I can find the cord to my camera.

Hubby: Why did you buy a chainsaw with a box written in SPANISH?

I'm sure there is English on there somewhere. Anyway, how hard can it be to figure it out?

Hubby: Why did you buy an ELECTRIC chainsaw?


1. I couldn't even LIFT the gas ones.

2. I didn't particularly want to spend another $200.

3. I've been asking for a chainsaw for 3 years. Since I had to buy it myself, I bought what I wanted, dammit!

Today I'm going to crit a chapter for a friend, finish packing for Beth (who is off to Vegas tomorrow and has to work all day long) plus iron her dresses and double check everything, do some last minute running around for her (she's never traveled alone before) and then head off to work myself, yippe-yi-oh. This means I have to miss Lydia's birthday party at Chuckie Cheese' if my head could tolerate all that racket today. I'll make it up to her. She's my baby.

It's not Positive Saturday, thank goodness. I don't think I have the energy to be totally nice for eight hours. :)

I am sooooogoing to miss Beth!!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday 10

1. Every appliance in my house is falling apart. Everything in my HOUSE is falling apart. Gutters. Plumbing. Half my outlets don't work. The foundation has been caving in for the past 20 years. Why do I live here? Oh, I know! Cuz who'd every BUY this POS?

2. I sent out 2 arcs to reviewers over the past week. I know, right? You'd think after the book's been out for two months I'd be finished with this but enough is never enough. Are all writers this obsessed with themselves? I am down to one ARC. Should I auction it off?

3. I'm thinking about Christmas. And how broke I am.

4. I'm thinking about my roots. And how broke I am.

5. I saw a car driving along the sidewalk the other day. Huh?

6. Beth is going to Vegas on Sunday with a group of friends from work. My BABY is going to Vegas! *I've* never been to Vegas. I might've flown over it once on my way to CA. I do watch CSI. Does that count?

7. I got the sweetest note from a reader: "I just read your book. Wow! What a powerful debut!! You are a great, great author. I really loved your writing. Your characters were so real I keep thinking about them..." OMG, this totally made my day. :) Thank you, dear reader.

8. I'm currently awaiting a copy of Autumn Cornwell's CARPE DIEM so I can interview her for the CLASS OF 2k7. Why-y-y does Amazon take so long??? I'm dying to read it. I'm also finishing up an interview with Shirley Harazin. It's coming, Shirley! I promise it's coming.

9. My "baby" brother was the first one to listen to my stories. Now he's writing one of his own. YAY!

10. I should be writing.


Crap. Now my WASHER broke!

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday Thanks

I'm thankful I didn't:

1. Complain about anything in particular. Wow. No wonder I'm dizzy.

2. OD on coffee, which I think is finally eating a hole through my stomach. Plus for the past two nights I only got about 3-4 hrs of sleep.--so much for guzzling Seattle's Best at 11:00 p.m. every night. I did indulge in a double cafe mocha, though. God forbid my gall bladder should feel left out.

3. Have to clean anything, cook anything, or do one single constructive thing other than write.

Which brings us to what I *did* do today:

Completed 3200 words of The Dogfather. Totally unplanned, totally out of the blue (please do not use the O word in my presence). The hardest part is hauling myself out of the head of a smart, college-bound seventeen-year-old girl and into the head of a not-very-bright fifteen-year-old boy stuck in the eighth grade. I don't know where this thing is headed, if anywhere. Time will tell.

In the meantime, Shawna's in New England--being read! :)

Now there's nothing for me to do except wait...

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...and wait... find out if Shawna is HERE:

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--or HERE:

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Magic or not, Shawna'd never wear those shoes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thanks for Nothing

I walk up to the elevators at work. Two dudes standing in front of the doors.

Me: "Hi."

Dude: "Hey, howya doing?"

Me: "Fine, thanks."

Other dude smiles and nods hi. I smile, step back, and wait.

And wait. No elevator. The guys--two smelly, disheveled, can't-wait-to-get-outta-here-and-back-to-the-bar types--are blocking my view of the button. They continue to yadda-yadda-yadda...nothing interesting, nothing I need to save for a conversation in a future scene. I half-listen strictly out of habit, tapping my foot...

No elevator.

Finally I peek around Doofus and Goofus, and guess what? The elevator button isn't even lit! That in itself may mean nothing at all. Those suckers can be burned out for decades before anyone replaces them.

Me to the guys: "Did you press the button?"

Dude: "Oh, no. We're waiting for someone."

Wait. You two are WAITING for someone? Couldn't you have mentioned that instead of letting me stand with you for, oh, say, a solid minute and a half? Did you think I was trying to bond with you two? Admiring your stunning (not) muscular (not) masculine (can't deny that--phew!) physiques? Two words: Right Guard!

Couldn't one of you have enough of a gentleman enough to ask, "Up or down?" when I walked over? You even could've pressed the button for me. That might have turned out to be the biggest thrill of my night.

No. Just let me stand there like a dummy and breathe in your BO and wonder, wonder, wonder, why the elevator's so slow.

Anybody else annoyed by perfect strangers yesterday?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday Memory: Nana

My grandmother, in her later years, had breasts the size of watermelons and a belly to match. That never kept me from crawling into her lap while she sat in her armchair in front of the TV. When I was very small, I'd crawl under that same chair and watch "Wagon Train" from between the carved wooden legs. I'd pretend I was a rabbit living in a hutch.

I still have that chair.

I remember:

Spending every Saturday night with Nana, sucking Mountain Dew through a black licorice straw, watching "Gunsmoke" and "Leave it to Beaver" and sometimes "Alfred Hitchcock." I wanted to be Beaver with his perfect parents, perfect house, perfect neighborhood, and understand teachers, none of which I possessed. My own homelife was uneasy at best, chaotic at its worst.

Going to church with her every Sunday morning, how her clear shaky voice sailed above all the others as she sang "The Old Rugged Cross," her favorite hymn. Once she snuck me a piece of a Host because I was too young for Communion and felt very left out. It taste like nothing and stuck to the roof of my mouth. I kept it there as long as possible, waiting for magical things to happen.

Nana chasing my sister and her fiance out of the house with a broom when they announced their engagement. Nana wasn't too fond of the fellow, haha. She slammed the kitchen door hard enough to crack the window (another scene used in Before/After).

Nana telling me how beautiful I'd be "as soon as you get those teeth fixed." How she promised me many boyfriends, none of whom materialized.

How she let me read everything and anything I could get my hands on, even True Confessions magazines and "forbidden" novels like "I, the Jury" and "Peyton Place." How we'd sit on the front steps on the Fourth of July and eat crackers and jelly and watch the fireworks. How I'd curl up in her living room after school and read, and read, and read, and read. How we'd discuss the books, and anything else that came to mind.

How she adopted an elderly mutt and named her "Dolly" which, coincidentally, was her nickname for me. Dolly was soooo sweet! I'd dress her in a bonnet and take her for walks. She loved me, she loved my grandfather, but it was pretty obvious she loved Nana the best.

I remember the guilt I felt when I realized *I* too loved Nana the best. Yes, it was true: I loved my grandmother more than I loved my parents. I remember the burning shame that filled me, how I wished it weren't true, how I was powerless to change it, how I was sure to be punished.

One night as I was getting ready to leave (I lived only four houses away from her at the time) she hugged me tighter and longer than usual. "I love you, dolly!" We were never shy about saying "I love you"--but she held me for so long, it struck me as odd and more than a bit disturbing.

"See you tomorrow!" I'd said.

The next morning I was over there by eight a.m. Nana wasn't yet awake--very unusual for a woman who religiously got up with the birds to drink coffee, mutter over the newspaper, and fry up an artery-clogging breakfast. Dolly greeted me at the door--and you know the expression on a dog's face when they know something is wrong?

Dolly had that "look."

I followed the dog through the house, calling "Nana! Nana!" and found my grandmother still in bed, tucked neatly under the covers as if she hadn't moved all night. When I pulled the sheets down, her skin was mottled blue, hard and cold to my tentative touch.

Dolly whined, and stared at me expectantly. But what could I do? I was eleven years old.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sears Service Center Sucks Salami

How's that for alliteration?

Now when Mr. Sears (or anyone else) Googles "Sears Service Center" they will happen upon this letter.

Dear Mr. Sears,

When my dryer pooped out, I set up an appointment for Thursday, September 6. I specified MORNING because I work in the afternoon. I save lives for a living. Yours may be the next.

I waited all morning, till 1 p.m. Because 1 p.m., per tradition, is technically no longer "morning" I called to ask why you hadn't shown up. You informed me that the serviceman was running a bit behind (a BIT?) and was still planning to come. I informed you that it's too late, I have to go to work, and could we please reschedule. You asked what would be convenient for me. Well, TODAY would have been very convenient, thank you very much. But since you blew that one, buddy, we made it for Saturday, September 8.

Saturday came and went. Did you show up? Does my dryer work again? Do I have ANY CLEAN CLOTHES aside from the ones that are hanging all over my family room like flea market rejects? The answer to these questions is a resounding NO.

Oh, and by the way--I DID try to call you around 2 p.m. on Saturday when it occured to me you might not be showing up YET AGAIN. Did anyone answer the phone after multiple tries? No. Where the hell were you guys? Out fixing dryers? Oh, wait--I guess that's another big fat NO.

Then I tried your toll-free number and this is what I got: "The number you have reached is either out of service or has been disconnected."

The service number is out of service? This is kinda funny in a tot-ally pathetic way.

Newsflash: My time is actually pretty valuable to me.

It occured to me you might not be showing up to fix my poor old dryer because you're hoping I'll give up and simply buy a new one. So guess what? You succeeded!

I BOUGHT A G.E.! And I didn't buy it from you.


Jeannine Garsee, who is finished with Sears for the rest of her life.

P.S. I should have learned my lesson with that hot water heater of yours.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Saturday Mutterings

Horoscope: The pace of your daily life has been too intense for too long. DUH! You are tired of trying to keep up with all the responsibility. Ya think??? Even though Saturn has finally left your sign, Venus lags behind to hold you to your past.

I'm not sure about this "hanging onto my past" thing. *BUT* I'm toying with the idea of resurrecting my paranormal. It's only half-finished--and what is finished needs a l-o-t of work. I printed out what I have this morning so I can read it over and then decide. What's different about this one is that it's written in third person, not first, and it's not a YA. Ma-a-a-ybe if I go through it and work out an outline (I don't dare say that word out loud) it might have possibilities.

...mulling it over...

I bought 60 bucks worth of boxes so I can pack up all the stuff that's accumluated over the past year. I also need to finish painting (remember that paint job I started almost 2 years ago?) along with a dozen other long-delayed projects. I hold no fantasies that this house will ever be "clean"; I just want to be able to walk from one end of it to the other without breaking a toe.

Sears never showed up the other day (duhhhh!) so I rescheduled for today and guess what? Still not here, and when I called the number to find out a time, no answer. COLOR ME SHOCKED!!!!!!

Goal for today: To NOT be royally pissed off about, well, anything.

Dear Pope...


Year: 1981

1. Prince Charles got married.

2. Liverpool crowned soccer Champions of Europe.

3. Australia lost the Ashes tournament.

4. Pope Died.

Year: 2005

1. Prince Charles got married.

2. Liverpool crowned soccer Champions of Europe.

3. Australia lost the Ashes tournament.

4. Pope Died.

Lesson to be Learned:

The next time Prince Charles gets married...someone warn the Pope.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

5 For Friday

1. I looved Cherie Priest's list of Things I've Learned Since My First Book Got Published.

2. I've been officially invited to participate in AuthorPalooza at this year's OELMA Conference--and GUESS WHO'S gonna be there???

3. I'm having a major meltdown thanks to my last locked posted, so I decided to get up off my butt, buy some boxes, and clean the living hell out of my downstairs. Maybe I can burn off some of this negative engery.

4. I gave away the last of Max's cat food to the neighbor next door. It was a sad, strange, monumental moment.

5. I wrote 3 pages of my new wip. Meh. A Shawna sequel is pricking at my brain, but until I know for sure somebody wants it, it seems kind of presumptuous--and idiotic--to start a sequel. Then, of course, there's my half finished paranormal... Ah, what to write, what to write!?!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful the dream I had last night was only a dream. Needless to say, I'm feeling a bit stressed.

Right now I'm alternately waiting for the Sears repairman to show up and look at my dead dryer, and shoveling out my health-hazard disaster of a house.

This is not the way I particularly want to spend my morning. Especially since I have to drag my lazy ass into that hell-hole work today.

You all think I exaggerate when I tell you how dirty my house is. This is NOT an exaggeration. I'm not proud of it. But the truth is I can't WORK and WRITE and KEEP MY HOUSE CLEAN. Something has to go...and since it's financially impossible to quit my job, and mentally impossible not to write, guess what goes to the bottom of the priority list?

I found a beetle in the laundry room which is not really a "room" just a closet with a washer and dryer stuffed into it. I'm glad I saw the beetle before Mr. Sears showed up. This sucker was easily the size of my thumb and I've never seen anything that huge in my life. WFT? What was it living on, lint? Cat litter?

About the dryer:

Sears: What's wrong with it?

Me: It doesn't work.

Sears: Did you check the breakers?

Me: (?) Of course.

Sears: What make is the dryer?

Me: (??) Kenmore. I think...

Sears: How old is it?

Me: (???) Um, around thirty.

Sears (???????????) Thirty years?

Me: (No, thirty days, you twit) Give or take a year.

Yah, I know: BREAK DOWN AND BUY NEW ONE! Considering it's $59 just for them to walk through the door, this might not be a bad idea. If I had the money. Which I don't.

In the meantime:

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"But, but, but--! I just wanna know if she READ it yet!!!!!"

Farewell, Luciano

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Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincerĂ³!
vincerĂ³, vincerĂ³!

Vanish, o night!
Set, ye stars!
At dawn I shall win!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Happy Birthday to my Big Sis!


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The Wait Begins

I have to admit, I forgot what it's like. Ya know, when you send off a submission...and then you have to wait?

And wait.

And wait.

I mean, c'mon, people--it's already been a whole day!

To take my mind off this madness, I've composed a couple of lists.

What I NEED to do:

1. Clean my friggin' house! It stinks. I have apple-scented candles burning at the moment but all this does is stimulate my appetite. Not good.

2. Find my office. I know it's here somewhere. I wrote STW entirely on my laptop but I'm sure I have a PC around here, too.

3. Weed my yard. Actually, I need napalm at this point.

4. Get rid of Grandma's junk car which has been sitting in my driveway for a year and a half. Too bad about that family of mice living in the engine.

5. Get my hair done. I look like a hag.

What I am NOT going to do:

1. Check my email every sixty-seven seconds.

2. Veg out in front the news and smirk over the fact that my life is so much better than 99% of everyone else in the world.

3. Check my email every sixty-seven seconds.

4. Live in my favorite writers' forums.

5. Check my email every sixty-seven seconds.

What I'd LIKE to do:

1. Read. I have TONS of books waiting for me including Triptych by Karin Slaughter--I met her at the BEA and omg, who could imagine such a sweet, darling little thing could write this stuff??? I got to the end of Part One and absolutely shrieked out loud!--and Bad Girls Club by fellow 2k7er Judy Gregerson whose MC's mom makes Martha's look like the Happy Days mom.

2. Write. Yeah, reeeellly??? Working title of next WIP--Dogfather. Why not? At least it's not as eyebrow-raising as Dead Lesbian Mother. "Serious" working titles seem to evade me.

3. Catch up on 2k7 stuff. I'm hopelessly behind.

What I've done SO FAR:

1. Wrote one full page of Dogfather.

2. Drank coffee, smoked cigarettes, gloated over the news, blogged, and posted on forums.

3. Checked my email every sxity-seven seconds.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


CONGRATULATIONS to Sara Aronson and the release of her YA novel HEAD CASE:

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"Frank Marder is a head, paralyzed from the neck down, and it’s his fault. He was drinking. He was driving. Now Frank can’t walk, he can’t move, he can’t feel his skin. He needs someone to feed him, to wash him, to move his body. Now he must learn to deal with his lack of independence, his parents, his sister, his friends.

"Will he ever feel like a whole person?

"When you're a head, do you ever get to forgive yourself?

"But if you ask most of the people who post on www.quadkingonthenet, he hasn’t been adequately punished. Two people are dead because of him. Frank should go to jail. Only “Anonymous” disagrees.

"A powerful and heartbreaking debut novel about a guy who had it all… until he drank that one last beer and got into the car. Head Case will make you consider how we judge each other. And how we can move beyond our mistakes—with honesty, compassion, and even humor."

And MORE CONGRATS to Suzanne Selfors and HER new release, TO CATCH A MERMAID:

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From Amazon: "Boom Broom doesn't think his life could get any worse. Ever since his mother was swept away by a twister, his family has gone crazy. They refuse to leave the house and Boom and his sister Mertyle are looked after by Halvor, the Viking descendant who rents the room over their garage.

"When Boom finds a baby mermaid who seems to grant unlimited wishes, he thinks his luck has turned around. That is, until his sister is hit by the curse of the merfolk. Now Boom and his best friend Winger must find a way to return the merbaby to its mother and save Mertyle before it is too late."

YAY, Sara and Suzanne! xox

Monday Memory: Innocence Lost

I was traumatized by a wax museum when I was 10. Seriously. It was at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. To be fair, my parents may not have realized what was in store for us. Once inside it may have been impossible to back out again.

The was a "house of horrors." I wonder if it said that on the sign. If so, my folks should've been shot.

Picture a 10-year-old living at a time when you weren't even allowed to say "damn" on TV. If you saw blood on TV it was a Very Big Deal. Slasher movies didn't exist; the most blood I'd seen at one time before this was when the kid next to me in school jabbed a scissors through his finger and hit an artery. In that case, I was more impressed that the female teacher rushed him into the BOYS' bathroom than the fact that the whole row of kids ahead of me got sprayed with blood.

The museum consisted of wax figures posed in replicas of real-life murder scenes. And, yeah--they looked REAL. People chopped-up bodies, beaten to pulps, hung, shot, stabbed, macheted, tortured, sliced-and-diced--you name it, I saw it. I wandered throught in awetruck terror, staring at the scenes and reading the terrible stories behind them. I was "fine" once I walked back out into the blazing sunshine, although my day was totally ruined.

And then night fell.

I didn't sleep for days. I thought about it for weeks and months and yes, seriously, years! Looking back, I should've been in therapy! I was obsessed with death and murder and dismemberment and torture.
Eventually I got over it and yet here I am, decades later, still remembering my horror and disbelief at the unwelcome knowledge that yes, people do these terrible things to one another!

Now I'm a true crime buff. *shrug* Go figure. If I'm ever arrested for a crime and the police see my reading material, I'll be convicted for sure.


How YOU spent your Labor Day holiday:

Grilled outside, visited with friends and neighbors, swam, played with your kids and pets, enjoyed the sunshine, and consumed phenomenal amounts of calories in astonishingly short periods of time.

How I spent Labor Day:

I labored, i.e. I went to work. Well, I also did the last thing on that list: I probably hit a solid 5,000 calories between all the candy, sandwiches, Coke, ice cream, fried rice w/shrimp, chicken, and broccoli, plus cookies, pop, and carrot cake, not to mention a hamburger on top of the Chinese. Believe it or not I ate all of that during a single 8 hr shift and found time to do my usual nursely duties like pass pills, plump pillows, clean dentures, jab needles into people, and yes, give an enema and of COURSE I remembered to wash my hands, how could you think such a thing???!!

I wonder if the word "enema" will throw my whole blog into some twisted cybernetherworld? Next thing I know I'll be getting emails from that pasty-faced dude in your neighbor's basement who only comes up to grab his SS check out of the mailbox and pay the pizza delivery guy. Or, like Boo Radley, catch him a squirrel every now and then.

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If Boo had a computer, he wouldn't be out there stuffing toys into a tree--he'd be writing the next Next Great American Novel and posting queries on Writers Net.

Wait. I think he is.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

2k7 Release: CARPE DIEM

Sorry this is late (I'm so glad I'm finally out of my cave) but CONGRATULATIONS to Autumn Cornwell for the release of her YA novel CARPE DIEM!!!

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Amazon Description: "I’ve got my entire life planned out for the next ten years — including my PhD and Pulitzer Prize,” claims overachiever VASSAR SPORE (16), daughter of overachiever parents, who in true overachiever fashion named her after an elite women’s college. Vassar expects her sophomore summer to include AP and AAP (Advanced Advanced Placement) classes to propel her to a 5.3 GPA and Ivy League fame. Surprise! Enter long lost bohemian GRANDMA GERD (60s) who sends her plans into a tailspin: she blackmails Vassar’s parents into forcing their only child backpack with her through Southeast Asia.

"Vassar freaks out – her entire academic career is at stake! She can’t believe her parents are insisting she go and that they refuse to reveal the Big Secret. But, being a Spore, Vassar soon transforms the negative into a positive by turning the trip into an extra credit novel for her AAP English class.

"Vassar tries to immerse herself in her novel. But what starts out as research turns into a series of misadventures from Malaysia to Cambodia to the remote jungles of Laos. She sweats, falls in love, hones her outdoor survival skills — and uncovers a family secret that turns her whole world upside-down."

Yay, Autumn! :)

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Didja miss me?

The MS has been tweaked to death and if I tweak one more thing my monitor will explode. Many thanks for my crit group for finding a zillion typos.I humbly wear the crown of the Typo Queen of the Century.



Genre: Contemporary YA

Word count: 85K

Length of time to write the first draft: 4 months

Original word count: 125K

Length of time to edit: 6 months

Subject matter: self-esteem, family violence, gay/lesbian issues, teen sexuality, friendship, family relationships, grief, suicide

Number of migraines: too many to count

I'm letting it simmer over the weekend and will send it off next week.


Michelle Zink: FABULOUS NEWS!

Yes, I have been DYING to post this but I had to wait for the official OK from MICHELLE ZINK. Yes, I know this brilliant author. I'm sooo proud of her!

From Publisher's Market: "Nancy Conescu at Little, Brown for Young Readers has preempted world rights to The Prophecy of the Sisters, a YA gothic thriller trilogy by debut author Michelle Zink; Steven Malk at Writers House made the six-figure deal. The first book in the trilogy, which blends supernatural elements with romance, is scheduled for spring 2009, with books two and three to follow in spring 2010 and 2011."

This is like one of those "fairy tales" you hear about because yes, this happens to be Michelle's FIRST NOVEL!

Remember this post in a couple of years when Prophecy of Sisters hits the bestseller lists. You heard it here first! *squeal*