Book Talk: How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Publisher: Scholastic
Date: 1st edition: October 2009
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 978-0545107082

Format: Paperback, 228 pages
Description: (from Goodreads)

New to town, Bea is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet loner who hasn't made a new friend since third grade. Something about him, though, gets to Bea, and soon they form an unexpected friendship. It's not romance, exactly - but it's definitely love. 
Still, Bea can't quite dispel Jonah's gloom and doom - and as she finds out his family history, she understands why. Can Bea help Jonah? Or is he destined to vanish?

First line: Goebbels materialized on the back patio, right before we moved to Balitmore, and started chewing through the wicker love seat.

The first thing I'm going to say about this book is something very important so you should pay attention. Are you paying attention? If you are looking for a book that goes like this: 

Boy meets girl. They hate each other. They kiss & fall in love. They fight. They share a great big moment of awww and live happily ever after. The End.
Then this isn't the book for you. Seriously. BUT if you are sick of all that stuff or don't care or want to read a well-written book with great characters and stands out in the crowd--then look no further. ROBOT is for you. 

Bea has just moved to a new place and she meets Ghost Boy, real name Jonah. (The people in his life call him that because he's pale and you never really notice him.) Bea notices him--or he notices her--and unlikely friendship is formed, bonded on being an outcast and a late night talk radio show. The whole story is their journey through the school year. The movement of their friendship from unlikely friends to lunches and dates (with other people). They deal with lies and truths and secrets and less-than-perfect families. They deal with pain and heartbreak, loss, fear and love. And don't forget the late night talk show. When it's thrown into the mix, things always get interesting.

I love many things about this book. I love the way their stories are so different, yet the same. Both have been kept in the dark about a major event. Both have “crazy” parents. Both are given nicknames they don’t like but end up defining them. (Ghost Boy and Robot Girl, if you wondered.) Both enjoy art. Both want something more than they have right now. These are the things that make them friends. That, and they are both so very lonely.

I love the way their friendship develops. It's full of emotions and laughter and inside jokes. It's a discovery that they go on together to figure out who they are individually. Life wasn't meant to walk alone--and until they meet each other, Jonah and Bea were doing exactly that. I love they find something they were missing in each other—and it wasn’t romantic. Everything is romantic, like people sometimes forget that teens can have best friends that are boy/girl and it doesn’t end in kissing.

This is an a-typical YA novel. There’s quirky talk show characters (whom I adore). The parents are around, even if they make big mistakes. The love is deep and real and platonic and you see it happen. Everyone grows together: parents, friends, crazy talk show character, Jonah, Bea. It’s all in different ways but it’s there. It’s lovely. As soon as I finished ROBOT I had to sit there. It was so amazing, and my heart was breaking. It was good kind of heartbreak, mixed with a bad kind. And when it was over, I wondered what was happening next but I was content with not knowing. I think that’s a really
great thing—the not knowing.

I have this new theory that I just developed yesterday (it’s still in development*). I’m calling it the Hororux-Reading Hypothesis Metaphor (or the HRHM.) The HRHM basically is this: Voldemort has horcruxes, items which he’s chosen to store a piece of his soul, and they keep him alive. Books are like a horcrux*. Really. We read a book that speaks to us (which is definitely not every book we read) and then it becomes part of us. It steals a little piece of our soul and whenever we open the book again, we’re alive. Whatever we were looking for is found in that book. HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT is one of my horcruxes; it will always have a piece of my soul.

*I realize this is not a foolproof hypothesis/metaphor, but all break down at some point. Just go with it.
 **Of course, there are other factors to this, like murder, which we luckily do not and should not participate in. Yay us! Maybe Voldy should’ve read.


I Think My Heart Just Stopped...

This is awesome. You just need to watch it.

Many thanks to Myra and Victoria for tweeting it---and the boy I nanny for sleeping even though I cracked up.

"I've already written the first page. It's awesome." Right? Right?!?

"I've got a gun in my car. I'm going to go get it now."


What do I do when I can't decide? A Love Interest Dilemma

I've been debated whether or not I would write this post, but things in my WIP have taken a turn and I need some writing advice. I've talked to my bff about it and she's no help on this one--each time I ask her she gives me an answer like this: "Kill them all. Everyone dies." That doesn't help me. And seeing as my beta & CP haven't read anything/aren't this far yet, I'm turning to you. Maybe you can help me figure it out. Now, sit back and allow me to vaguely explain the situation. *clears throat*

You know how some of the best YA has a Team? I'm rarely able to pick one. I mean, Team Edward, team Peeta, Lend and  Ron/Hermione easy enough back when but there are others I can't decide. (Team Will/Team Jem; Dimitri/Adrian, etc.I  can't even think of all my indecisions.) I never planned to write a book that had the option of a team.

So imagine my surprise when they started forming. (What?!?! Yes. Oh, yes.)

I always planned for my MC to be with T. That was the plan. And then, the more I wrote X--the more that changed. And changed. And changed some more. It changed and developed so much that my ending fell apart. I always have an ending. Always. I love my endings. Then, I had an ending--a glimmer of an ending, a faceless ending. Just a boy saying a line and I have no idea which boy it is.

I keep hoping as I write the story, my MC will just pick one. That she'll have this overwhelming moment of "YES. THIS is who I want now gimme!"

She doesn't. She's confused and lost and not sure how she can love X when she loves T. It's damn annoying. I've tried things to help her along. I've steered her toward one over the other and she just turns around. Back and forth, back and forth. I love her but she's useless and has no idea who she wants.

This has gotten so frustrating that I even Googled. You know the yahoo answer things that pop up when someone has asked a similar question? Yea, I read about 20. I looked through some of the "Team" books and tried to figure out why I decided (the few times I did.) My conclusion: it was the obvious answer. He was the best fit for her. Great idea! But both fit with her--that's why she can't decide.

One is who she always expected to love--and who she always has loved. The other one is unexpected, yet when she looks, has always been there. Uh-oh. And, her indecision is completely understandable. I love them both, too.

I think it will all work in the end. Maybe as I write more, things will fall into place. Until then, I'm looking for insight, suggestions, advice how to solve this mystery. Anyone have any ideas so I can figure this out?


Thanks to everyone who entered the Thanksgiving ARC giveaway! Yay! I'm suffering from a Thanksgiving Food Hangover so I figured I'd tally the winners. 

My Fake Boyfriend: jessica b

Pathfinder: Jennelle S (sablelexi)

Started with a Dare: Rinchu

The Mockingbirds: Jacinda
Matched: Aurora M.

Winners, I'll send your books out early next week! Thanks for following and entering. :)


Book Talk: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Publisher: Dutton
Date: December 2, 2010
Series or Stand-alone: Stand-alone (but 2 more companions!!)
ISBN: 978-0525423270
Format: Hardcover, 371 pages
Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.

First line: Here is everything I know about France: Madeline, Amelie, and Moulin Rouge. The Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, although I have no idea what the function of either actually is. 

The story starts on Twitter. (Not ANNA's, mine.) It was one night in July when my friend Andye was talking about ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I said I wanted to read it, even though I really didn't know much about it. So, she sent it and I read it in about five glorious, glorious hours. Ever since it's been love.

Anna is shipped off to boarding school for her senior year. Away from her best friend and her little brother. Nothing good can come of being France. She doesn’t speak the language or know the culture and she doesn’t want to be there. The one good thing: the school her father chose for her is for Americans. It doesn’t take long before she makes a great set of friends, one of whom is Etienne St. Clair. (Everyone calls him St. Clair.) An American raised in England who speaks fluent French, St. Clair is everything she wants. He’s sweet, cute, funny—he also has a girlfriend. 

So, Anna shoves him to the “just friends” shelf, even though she hopes for more. Throughout this book, their friendship grows and develops on real levels. They connect over movies, their mutual friends, loss and they even argue. There are times I want to punch St. Clair for being a jerk. Stephanie does a great job of developing the characters in the story--more than only Anna and St. Clair. The friendships are real and grow together as the time passes between them. Each friendship faces challenges, resolutions and I like that. It's a very real story.

In all this though is the story of a girl and a boy. It’s not over-done or typical. Stephanie infuses LOTS of great qualities and real emotions.  It’s hilarious. It’s sad and frustrating. It's sweet and chocked full of internal thoughts and lively dialogue. If you are a girl, you have to read it! It’s one of my favorite books of the year. You will fall in love with Anna and St. Clair and Paris—and you’ll be waiting, hoping, wondering if Anna will get her french kiss from the boy who has her heart. (And mine. And yours, once you read this.) 

Final thoughts: Buy yourself a copy. Buy your friend a copy. It will not disappoint.


2011 Debut Author Challenge and a giveaway!!!

This will be first time and I'm excited! For what? The 2011 Debut Author Challenge! I'm really, really excited. I think my goal is going to be 24 books (because I don't do odd numbers) and I it shouldn't be so hard with so many amazing reads coming out. You can find more information about the 2011 Debut Author Challenge here!

Here are the books I know I'm reading...it's more than 24 but I've already read some of them.  BOLD means I’ve read it. ITALIC means I own it.

·       A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
·       Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Already read, doesn’t count)
·       Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
·       Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
·       Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
·       Clarity by Kim Harrington (Already read, doesn’t count)
·       Entwined by Heather Dixon
·       Falling Under by Gwen Hayes (Already ready, doesn’t count)
·       Hourglass by Myra McEntire
·       How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain
·       I Am J by Cris Beam
·       Illegal by Bettina Restrepol
·       The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
·       Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
·       Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
·       The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder
·       Lost Voices by Sarah Porter
·       Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
·       The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab  (already read, doesn’t count.)
·       Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
·       Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
·       Popular by Alissa Grosso
·       Possession by Elana Johnson
·       The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
·       Rival by Sara Bennett-Wealer
·       So Shelly by Ty Roth
·       Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell
·       The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
·       Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
·       Vesper: A Deviants Novel by Jeff Sampsen
·       Warped by Maurissa Guibord
·       Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
·       Wildefire by Karsten Knight
·       Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
·       Wither by Lauren DeStefano
·       XVI by Julia Karr

Woo! I'm excited. What are some books you're looking forward to?

Oh yea, now you want to win some stuff.  I thought so. Well, take your pick for an ARC and this contest closes on Friday at noon! Happy Thanksgiving.

  • SIGNED ARC of MATCHED by Ally Condie
  • Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
  • The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
  • As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Perkins
  • My Fake Boyfriend by Springer
  • It Started with a Dare by Rech

Also, I'm not on Twitter this week. SO if you tweet this contest, I'll give you 3 extra entries toward the book of your choice. Yup.  That's a true story. No requirements to enter except filling out the form. And, since it's for Thanksgiving, I'll be thankful for everyone and open this internationally!

Click HERE to enter. (Be sure to indicate which ARC you want to win or I'll just throw you into a random one.)

Don't forget to tell me what books your looking forward to in 2011! Maybe this will shape some future contests.


I just saw Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows and....

It was great.


Whatever, I LOVED it. Loved. 

The scene with Hermione's parents....I think it set the tone for the whole movie. From the opening scene you knew it was going to intense, sad, wow. 

I loved the scene when everyone comes to the Dursley's to get Harry, and turn into Harry. I love it because it's probably one of the last scenes with everyone together--EVER!

I loved the scene with the silver doe and the ice...and the locket horcrux. I thought that was better done than I imagined it in my head.

I loved Ron.

We finally met Bill, which was nice. 

I thought they added humor in all the right places. And that what they decided to do with Three Brothers story was unique. I don't know if I loved it but I don't know how else they could've done it.

The scene in the Ministry of Magic was pretty intense. Most of it was intense. It was dark, and funny. I have a feeling the next one will not be funny. I mean...no

The Ron/Hermione tension! Wow. (Yes, sometimes the Harry/Hermione tension was a little much but I love Ron/Hermione tension. and witty lines!) Speaking of Hermione, she looked so pretty. And also speaking of Hermione, she screams well. (I do wish they would've done the crucio better but yeah...I had chills.

Dobby!!!!! :D :| :'(

It was by far the best one to date. Man, oh man.  And yes, that's all I have to say. Why? Because I'm really tired and I want to know what you think of the movie.

So tell me!!!

Have you seen it? Did you like it/love it/hate it? Tell me everything.


If you like The Hunger Games...

Then you will LOVE this.

This morning Kelsey discovered this little baby and put it on Twitter. And WOW. Danielle Chuchran is going to make a GREAT Katniss. I really, really, really want her to get it!! Check it out. Prepare yourself because everyone who's seen it has cried. Wowzers!

What do you think?! Let's start the campaign to get Danielle Chuchran as Katniss!!!

Join the facebook fan page for Danielle as Katniss Everdeen!!!


Behind the Scenes: My NaNoWriMo story

Since we're halfway through NaNoWriMo....I'll share some info. It's not a synopsis but it's a little excerpt that kinda describes the story.

It's called SILHOUETTES.

Here's the "tag": Time is the race. Death is the winner. Life is the prize. Love is the cost.

Excerpt summary: 

I let his words rest on my mind. I don’t know if I want it to be me. I want, just for a moment, to go back to the girl in the Compound. The girl who dreamed of a boy and a mysterious world beyond the ocean. That girl was champion of nothing. She was safe and small. But she’s a silhouette in the sunlight. Gone.

It's YA. The MC is a girl named Neely. It's been such a fun story to write. Very different for me.

There's one more thing. This song.....it's such a HUGE part of the story. I didn't hear it until Saturday but I heard it and freaked to my BFF because it's my story. At least a part of it. So many parts of it!!

Haunted by Taylor Swift  (Acoustic Vesion)

She says this about the song: "Haunted” is about the moment that you realize the person you’re in love with is drifting and fading fast. And you don’t know what to do, but in that period of time, in that phase of love, where it’s fading out, time moves so slowly. Everything hinges on what that last text message said, and you’re realizing that he’s kind of falling out of love. That’s a really heartbreaking and tragic thing to go through, because the whole time you’re trying to tell yourself it’s not happening. I went through this, and I ended up waking up in the middle of the night writing this song about it.

:D That was a fun teaser, yes? lol.

Also, don't forget to enter to win FIXING DELILAH by Sarah Ockler!! 


If you're a writer, you MUST check this out.


Cover me! (1)

The last couple weeks have been cover reveal amazingness! I've put together a selection of a few (ahem) that I've noticed. Some are just beautiful and some I can't wait to read!

What do you think of them? Anything else you've seen that I missed? What are you excited about?

Speaking of excited...Leah Clifford's book A TOUCH MORTAL comes out in February and she needs help with a name for a guy character. It ends Wednesday at 12:59 PM. So watch the video and do what she says! Maybe you'll win the signed ARC, the praise in the acknowledgments and having a character in someone's book. Totally awesome. Enter here.


Book Talk: Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

Publisher: Little, Brown
Date: December 1, 2010
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 978-0316052092
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Description: (from Goodreads)
Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

First line: "Claire? It's Rachel. I'm afraid I have bad news."

I haven't read a lot of contemporary. It's a new piece of YA for me but I am quickly falling for it. Fixing Delilah makes me want to read more and more.  I wrote a letter to Sarah Ockler on twitter that read something like: Dear @sarahockler, you write pretty words. They made a pretty story w/a pretty boy & a pretty broken girl. I pretty much liked it. Mooo.<3

I think that covers it. Thanks for reading. (kidding)

Sarah Ockler captured the broken life of a separated family, a lost girl, and what it feels like to lose something you don't even know is important--until you realize that thing means the world. The story opens with a call from Delilah's aunt that her grandmother has died. Meanwhile, Delilah is in this world where she doesn't know how to fit or to get what she wants most. From the first pages, we learn that Delilah 's mother works too much and Delilah spends her time stealing, making out with a boy she doesn't really like, and living life just to get by. With that phone call, Delilah and her mother go back to their roots. The thing about roots is that you can't replant them as easily as you can pull them.

Delilah, her aunt and her mother are thrust into their past as they deal with the estate, talk around the important issues and ignore memories that are hidden away in a deep, dark cellar, covered in bubble wrap and taking up space. Delilah wants to know everything that's going on: why her family is broken, why they left Red Falls (her grandmother's home) when she was a child and never looked back, why her mother does what she does and how all of that affects her. She wants to know who she is, where she comes from, good and bad. Surrounded by the past that Delilah doesn't know and the boy that she hasn't seen since she was child, she starts seeking answers.

I like the raw emotions that happen in this story. It's called Fixing Delilah and it's from her POV, but it's about so much more than just her. It's about discovery,  how things affect us, how things shouldn't go unsaid. It's about love--in all sorts of forms. This was definitely a roller coaster. Things are high and glorious, things are low. A storm comes, tears apart everything that's good and then there's sunshine. 

Sarah does a great job of weaving these beautiful images and emotions into the sentences. There are some really gorgeous words and images that made this story work. There are some cliches in the story--but they work here and most of them didn't really bother me. The only thing I didn't love was the cursing. Some it seemed really out of place (with that said some of it worked!) And whatever happened, there was Patrick. He's the boy next door (literally) and while he's only part of the story, not even a huge part, he's important. He's dreamy. And he's really part of Delilah's journey but not her whole journey. I liked that. 

This book was something I could connect with. We all have something in our past or in our family that we talk around instead of fixing. We all have secrets and desires. We all long to find out who we are and where we come from. Sometimes things happen that leave us broken, things that are so old we can barely find the origin, things that destroy us and make us lose ourselves. These times are hard but the getting fixed, the moving past it, the growth and the strength--those are the things that we cling to. Those are the things that Delilah is looking for, too. The question is: where do you find those things?

Maybe Delilah will help you figure it out.

Want to win my ARC? Fill out this form and leave a comment saying why you want to read this book! For extra entries, tweet and follow the blog. This contest will end November 21st.

Click here to get the entry form.

Source: ARC from NEIBA


Sometimes You Need to Step Away

Have you ever started working on a project and said to yourself, "Self, this is the one! The ONE. It will be the best one I've done yet!"? This project is (whether it's scrapbooking or cooking or sowing or writing, the list is all-inclusive) takes up your thinking, time, energy. You plan the details, sketch it out, play out scenarios in your head and when it's time, you jump in, excited. Ready.

You start working. Gluing, cutting, threading, mixing, stringing words together into sentences. It starts out smooth and sweet. Nothing can surprise you. 

Until it does.

You snag a thread. Spill coffee on your page. Burn the cookies. Find a hole in your plot or send a character the wrong way and into the point of no return.  Everything is different now and not at all as you planned.

You want to fix it! You want to preserve, to keep going, to scratch off all the burnt edges, to delete the line and start the scene over. But maybe, you can't do that. You have to start over completely with a new batch of cookies. You have to print off new non-coffee covered pictures. You have to let the character down the alley, even if you don't have it planned.

For me, that requires I step away.

This happened with a scene for my NaNoWriMo story. It's, in all honesty, a project I've been "working" on since late-August. That's when the idea happened. Then I plotted, outlined, stopped, re-started. I had this incredible scene and nowhere to take it. I let the idea simmer and marinade and one day, there was a story. I wrote a little of it and then lost the outline because it wasn't going that way. But since NaNo has started, it's been smooth sailing. Until Saturday.

I struggled to bust out 1, 000 words. I did it, but they weren't very good. Sunday I wrote nothing. I went to sleep, discouraged and frustrated with the whole thing. And then yesterday happened. Yesterday, I woke up with an idea. A breakthrough! And I wrote. I wrote 4,500 words in like 4 hours.

Stepping away was the best thing I could've done. Now, I know where the story is going--and I have a brilliant new ending. There are still things  I don't know for sure yet but I know enough to keep writing. And I know, if I need to, there's no shame in stepping away.

Hear that? There's no shame in stepping away!  Sometimes, the best ideas happen from our mistakes and our failures. That's how we know next time not to burn the cookies. That's how we can make a better scrapbook page than ever before. That's how it's okay for my character to turn left instead of right. Maybe there are more options for her in going the other direction. Better options.

I'm not going to tell you what my story's about...but here are a couple teaser pics for you that kind of apply. 

How about you? Have you ever experienced stepping away and is it hard for you?


YAspooktacular Winners!!!

Thanks to everyone who was part of the YAspooktacular! It was SO much fun and we hope you enjoyed it. Come back again next year because are definitely doing it again.

Anyway, here are the winners!! If your name is here, make sure you email us your address so we can send you the prize! :) We've already emailed you.

Vladimir Tote Bag and ARC Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer---Julie Daly

Imogen Rose Prize Pack--Jane

Teeth: A Vampire Anthology--Chelsey

Intrisical by Lani Woodland and Deception by Lee Nichols--Day

The Mark, ARC of Dreams of the Dead, ARC of Gothic! and Spooky Swag--Jennelle S (sablelexi)

Signed copy of The Dark Divine--Katiefogle07

The Daughters Break the Rules: Lauren M


PRIZE PACK 1: Katie Tilton

PRIZE PACK 2: Lauren M   

TRICK 5: Cover collages (We drew two names from everyone who got all the titles correct and both are receiving a surprise book.)  Jennelle S (sablelexi)  and Emily aka WilowRaven 

Paperbackdolls (necklace)  ReadingTeen (Kiss Me Deadly) & GoodBooksandGoodWine (Nightshade ARC)  also hosted their own treats and provided the prizes. I don't have the winners for those so I'm sure they will contact you if you won!


Thirteen Thursday with Daisy Whitney

Today is another round of Thirteen Thursday. I think this is one of the best interviews I've had---but maybe I'm biased because I love The Mockingbirds and Daisy Whitney even more. She's a great woman with lots of insight and encouragement; she's also a bazillion car loads of fun and has great shoes. 

So, let's carry on now....Welcome Daisy to Thirteen Thursday!

The world is about to be destroyed by evil yellow alien monkeys. You are the only one who can save it and you have at your disposal: a hanger, duct tape, a hammer, hairspray and a pair of 8-inch stilettos. What would you do? 
Duct tape them all together and call the authorities. Then I'd style my hair and spray it in place. Next, I'd use the hammer to turn the 8-inch stilettos into four-inchers and head out for a date with my husband to celebrate the world being saved and fashion living on!

You have one minute to save something out of your closet. What would you grab?
A box of memories I keep of a lost loved one.

 You have a lot of jobs: creator/host of “New Media Minute," host of “This Week in Media”, Advertising Age and The Hollywood Reporter contributor, and ad:tech and iMedia conference programmer. Oh, and that writing thing. Are you trying to take over world? But really, how do you find the balance to do it all?
I'm a big proponent of all things being possible with effective time management! I'm very good at segmenting my schedule and allocating time for my different clients, jobs and responsibilities, so that I have time for the most important things -- being with my family. As for fitting in writing, there is always time to do what you love and that often means  making the most of your time. I bring my computer with me to many places, so I can snag writing time in between appointments and meetings, during my kids' swim lessons, while on planes and trains and ferries!

When you look at what you have done, what are the thing that stick out for you as the most memorable or most life-changing moments?
I am most proud of my children, my marriage, my writing and of completing the Death Ride, a 129-mile one-day bike ride over five mountain passes with 16,000 feet of climbing -- I am not an athlete and I finished this ride on sheer determination alone.

Everyone has a different story. Tell us what your journey to writing has been like.

I've been a journalist for 15 years, so writing has been a natural fixture of my professional life. I've made my living as a writer since I was 23, so by the time I was ready to write novels I already had the daily discipline from reporting in place!

 I really want to talk about The Mockingbirds because I love it. A huge theme in this book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. How did this connection happen?   
To Kill a Mockingbird is the canonical story of justice, honor and doing the right thing. When looking for a name for the secret society in my book -- they are a student-run, underground justice system that rights the wrongs of their peers -- To Kill a Mockingbird was the natural fit for their name, inspiration and tactics.

 Alex’s voice is strong in this story, even when she’s not sure what’s going on with herself or what's happening around her. Where did she come from and how did you develop her voice?  
Alex clicked for me from the very first chapter. She is a natural observer and sees people and possibilities unspooling in front of her. When she describes events, situations and people, she very much sees them as images unfolding into various options. Knowing this about her, it was relatively easy for me to then see how she would regard and react to different circumstances.

This book is based somewhat off of a personal experience. What was it like connecting to a character who went through similar things as you? Was it easier or harder to write?

Like Alex, I was date-raped when I was a teenager. I was 18 and a freshman in college. I wrote this book nearly 18 years after that experience and my distance from it as well as the necessary and vital healing I went through made it possible for me to tap into what Alex would be feeling, without the writing of it feeling like a blood-letting for me. So, time, in effect was my best friend -- giving me the lens through which to look back and understand everything Alex was going through, but the emotional space so I didn't feel like I was reliving it. 

The Mockingbirds tackles a topic that doesn’t get discussed a lot in YA and is almost taboo in society. Why did you want to tell this story?

I believe in the power of speaking up and I wanted to show that speaking up for yourself can occur in many different ways. The prevalence of date rape is astounding too. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest 
National Network), 1 in 6 women will be a victim of sexual assault during her lifetime and girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Also, half of the reported date rapes occur among teenagers, according to the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. BUT, while adults want to believe a teen would come to them for help, teens are more likely to turn to a peer. According to a study conducted by The Northern Westchester Shelter, with Pace Women’s Justice Center, about 83% of 10th graders said they would sooner turn to a friend for help with dating abuse than a teacher, counselor, parent or other caring adult.


This post is for writers

Go read this warm-up post. Right now.

It's a warm-up post about rules.

Did you read it? Go read it.

If you read it...go read the next one. It's the most amazing thing I've ever read. And I love the author of it because she's so wise.

Amazing post.

Wasn't it amazing? It was. I'm glad you read them.

Now tell me, what do you think about she said? Because I think there has been nothing truer I've heard in months.

Happy writing, writer friends.


YA Spooktacular 2010

The YAspooktacular 2010 is over but it was so much fun! Thanks to everyone who participated. We look forward to next year. You can read the stories in full just by clicking on the titles. 

Read Darkness
featuring writing by:
Heather Brewer
Kimberly Derting
Courtney Allison Moulton
Chad Kallauner
Jennifer Archer
Ariane Mandell
Kevin James Breaux
Lani Woodland
Christina Ferko
Amanda Hocking
Danielle Bunner
Christine Johnson

Read A Soul Laid Bare
featuring writing by:
Moni Enderli
Bree Despain
Jen Nadol
Danielle Tauscher
Jordan Deen
Myra McEntire
Samantha Rowam
Saundra Mitchell
Kelsey Dickson
Heidi R. Kling
Amber Skye
Jennifer Murgia
Lee Nichols

A tie-in story by Anastasia Hopcus

Book Talk: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Publisher: Little, Brown
Date: November 2, 2010
Series or Standalone: Book 1 in series
ISBN: 978-0316090537
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way–the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds–a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl’s struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone–especially yourself.
First line: Three things I know this second: I have morning breath, I’m naked, and I’m waking up next to a boy I don’t know.

I’ve started this review about six times now (the last because it was deleted) and each time I fail at figuring out what to say. I’ll say that I honestly didn't know what The Mockingbirds was about. I knew secret society type of thing but I didn't know. I never read the back when I got it because I had heard so much about it that it didn't even matter.  Now, after reading the book, I can probably tell you that the reason I didn't look at the back is because I never would have read it.

It would have scared me and I would've walked away. And the story wasn't what I assumed it would be based off the cover--which goes to prove the age-old mantra of not judging a book by its cover. This one blew all my minuscule perceptions out of the water, and I like that. I believe in purpose behind everything and as cheesy as it sounds, there's a reason I got this ARC and there's a reason I didn't read the back. And there's a reason I read it.

What can I say about The Mockingbirds? It’s Brave. Hard. Real. Beautiful. Paralyzing. I think it will inspire MANY people to step up and speak out. It's raw and insane yet completely understandable. I could sit here and pull out line after line after line and tell yall how beautiful the prose is--and how powerful the story. But I won’t because you have to read it for yourself.

Alex’s voice is so strong and vivid in this story. She is a real, complex character who is struggling. You see the struggle within her dialogue, her frustration, her schoolwork and her withdraw from music. How do you be yourself after you’ve been date raped? This one incident can define her life or rob her of all things that mattered. Her choice—to take this guy to the Mockingbirds for justice or ignore it all—will change her whole future.

There was actually a point that I was crying in this book. Really crying. I had to put the book down so I could breathe because I was crying so hard. It was many things, all very real. It even stirred up emotions from my own childhood abuse. I got this story. It was different than my situation but I got it. I felt some of the same things Alex did.

I think this story was really brave. I think it's really beautiful and honest and that it is going to change lives and minds. Yes, it deals with the subject of date rape in an honest, heartbreaking way. And it shows girls the importance of standing up for themselves and fighting for what's right. But it's so much more than that. This is a story about taking back your life. Though Alex is never going to be the same, she is able to heal. She plays music again. Loves again. Feels safe. Takes a stand. She uses this to make herself stronger.

Source: ARC

 It's out TODAY! Buy a copy now.... 



Is underway! I'm about to die. I think this month will overwhelm me, chew me up and spit me out. BUT I'm thinking positive...positive...positive.

Here are my goals:

-Being ready for each day by 9 am
-Writing 1,660 words a day
-Reading/editing 10 pages a day for CP
-Reading about 20 pages a day for fun

I know it's supposed to be all about writing but this way I'll be sure to get it all done. Plus, I'm working so it's going to be a hard task! Hence, the waking up each morning earlier than I need to. Since it's on my blog, everyone can make sure I'm doing it!

I should say, I'm not being strict with this. For me, I'm working on a novel that I've been working on for months so if I don't finish it, that's ok. I feel like this challenge is making me work on it and not giving me any excuses to not do it. Yes, I'm going to try to get all the words done but if I don't, that's okay too! I'm excited about it.

Add me.

What are you doing for NaNoWriMo?