Monday, May 31, 2010

Winner of IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES!


Congratulations Myrna Foster! You were selected as the lucky winner of IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES! Hoorah!

Please send us your mailing address at lisa-laura(at)live(dot)com to claim your prize!

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

P.S.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for our rather surprising review of Sex And The City 2.

P.P.S.
On Thursday we'll be posting a review and giving away a copy of Lee Nichol's DECEPTION (HAUNTING EMMA). We LOVED this book, so be sure to stop by!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Very Sexy Friday



Tonight we'll be doing the exact same thing as 99% of boring suburban housewives across the country...GOING TO SEE SEX AND THE CITY 2.  Don't judge. We never claimed to be overly original.

I'm excited for the clothes, but mostly Italian dinner beforehand. Unlike the stars of the film, I have a healthy relationship with food, mainly, I eat it. Anyways, the big night has sparked an intense debate in LiLa Land. It's the age old "who gets to be Carrie?" argument. This time around we decided to mix things up a little bit and fight via Skype...

Lisa: So excited for tomorrow night!

Laura: I know. Garlic bread and impractical fashion.

Lisa: I sort of wish we could just watch the movie on mute. The first one would have been way better that way.

Laura: Yeah, Carrie was so whiney.

Lisa: Hey, don't diss my alter ego.

Laura: YOUR alter ego?

Lisa: Um, yeah. I'm Carrie, Stacey is obviously Charlotte and you're...Miranda.

Laura: You are such a bitch.

Lisa: You're practical! It's a compliment!

Laura: Whatever. I'm Carrie. If anyone is Miranda, it's you! I mean, you're the only one of us who's worked in corporate America and don't forget you had that really unfortunate dye job a couple of years ago.

Lisa: Do not even go there with the hair Ms.-I-looked-exactly-like-Miranda-my-freshman-year-of-college.

Laura: Really? You're bringing up my Felicity hair? That's a stretch.

Lisa: I'm way more adventurous with my fashion than you are and I'm a writer. Just like Carrie.

Laura: Are you kidding? Since when are yoga pants fashion forward? And you don't write books alone you slacker. Whatever, we can both be Carrie.

Lisa: No, way, I'm not sharing Carrie. You can be Samantha.

Laura: Seriously?

Lisa: Well, someone has to be Samantha.

Laura: That's like me telling you that you should be Stanford.

Lisa: That's the best you can do for a comeback? Did someone steal your computer? You're not even making sense.

Laura: Whatever. Let's just arm wrestle for it.

Lisa: Deal.

So, if you happen to be at Jimmy Dadonna's tomorrow night and you see two girls arm wrestling, pull up a chair. Or better yet, send over some Prosecco! Have a fab weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Interview with Lisa Schroeder and IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES giveaway!

I've had the pleasure of reading IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES and I have to say, it was a breath of fresh air. First of all, the book is set around a cupcake shop and if you don't love cupcakes, there's something wrong with you. Seriously. Second, Lisa Schroeder does a fabulous job painting a picture of the ups and downs that often accompany a dream (hello writers!)--in this case, a mother's dream of opening up her own cupcake shop. The main character Isabel is taken along for the ride when all she really wishes she could do is travel to exotic places outside of her small Oregon town.

I think this book will really appeal to readers who like to bake because an exciting cupcake flavor is assigned to each chapter offering a hint at what's to come. Also, actual recipes are included in the back of the book!

Lisa was generous enough to answer some of our random interview questions AND one lucky reader will win their very own copy of IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES. But word to the wise: This book is going to make you want to either preheat your oven or head to your nearest bakery. You've been warned.

Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.

12-year-old Isabel dreams of traveling the world, but is stuck in Willow, OR helping her mom get a cupcake shop off the ground.

Where did you get the idea for IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES? (As the official idea whores we have a vested interest here.)

I was driving home from work one day, ready to get started on a new project. It was in the winter of 2009, and I don't know if you remember what was happening then, but it was an ugly, scary time. Banks were collapsing, people were getting laid off right and left - it was all so unsettling, to a lot of people. I thought to myself - I really want to write about something happy! So I was tossing words around in my head, trying to think of something happy-making. And that's when cupcakes came to mind. That's how it started. I thought, how fun it would be to set a story in or around a cupcake shop.

It was one of those stories that came about very organically - each character just appeared as I wrote, and I had SO much fun writing it. It's really what I needed at the time. Even though there's some conflict, I created a town I'd love to live in and characters who I'd love to have as my neighbors. And you know, every chapter begins with a cupcake flavor and a description of the cupcake, which also gives a tiny hint about what's to come in that chapter. Do you know how much fun it was researching cupcake flavors?? SO. MUCH. FUN!!

Someone has a pair of scissors to your head (oooh, SCARY!) and you have to choose: Awesome title or gorgeous book cover?

ACK! Please, don't!

I have to go with gorgeous book cover. I think a fabulous cover can do amazing things for a book.

When did you know you had to be a writer?

When I found out I was going to have my first picture book published five or so years ago now, I told my grandma about it, who I was very close to growing up. She walked over to this special, built in cupboard in her house where she kept everything important, and reached in and pulled out a plastic envelope-type thing with something inside. She said, "I kept this all these years, because I always had a feeling you'd be an author someday." It was a little book I had written and illustrated when I was eight or nine years old.

So you know, I've always loved to write. And yet, in high school and college, it's easy to lose sight of what you've enjoyed your whole life because you have so many people telling you what you should and shouldn't do. I majored in Business, had a career in Human Resources, then I had kids, and did various at-home businesses trying to balance work and motherhood. I was reading a book one day that talked about dreams and figuring out what your dream in life is, and when I got quiet, I heard this small voice say - write for kids, write for kids. And then, as the universe often does, things started happening that made me think I really needed to listen to that voice. I met a neighbor who was writing for kids and had all kinds of helpful things to tell me. And so, I just started. I started writing and I started learning everything I could about the publishing business. That was probably ten years ago now. And I haven't looked back since!

Twizzlers or M&Ms?

Mmmmm... candy. Thank you. I'll take the M&Ms please.

For a chance to win this tasty book, make sure you're a follower and leave a comment with your favorite cupcake flavor (real or imaginary). The contest will be open until 11:59 PM on Sunday, May 30th. Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Writing Advice from the Simpson Sisters

Yes, those Simpson sisters.

I know, I know, who knew that these two could possibly dole out valuable writing advice? After all, they might be the only celebs who haven't started a new series for young adults. (Don't even get us started on Tyra, Hilary and LC. Seriously. It will get heated.)

Anyways, thanks to Zoe Courtman's Caturday blog feature, I was inspired to use a celebrity picture to demonstrate a specific writing tip.

And now for some writerly wisdom from the Simpson sisters: Do NOT take writing advice/criticism from those who are not qualified to be doling it out. Also it's probably best not to ask people who secretly hate you and would like to destroy your budding writing career to beta read your manuscript.

I mean, just look at poor Jessica in this picture. Anyone with an ounce of fashion sense would have sent poor Jess hightailing it back to her ginourmous closet to find a more flattering dress (or perhaps one that wasn't designed by skeletor Victoria freaking Beckham). I mean the girl has a killer body. Why is she choosing dresses with hip wings and wonky strips of boob-hugging fabric?

And Ashely, Ashley, Ashley. Either you're completely devoid of fashion sense OR you're doing everything in your power to destroy your sister's "career." (I use quotation marks around the word for obvious reasons.) And considering the fact that your ensemble is generally inoffensive (albeit boring), I believe the latter to be true. Shame on you.

And so, dear readers, learn from the doomed J. Simp. Consider the source when accepting feedback on your writing. If your critique partner is writing the literary equivalent of a fugly dress, maybe take their crits with a grain of salt. Likewise, if the feedback is "go ahead and query agents without editing a thing because your book is totally perfect as is," (which, for the record, is literary suicide) put your guard up. WAY up.

Take it from the Simpsons, good critique partners, like honest fashionistas, are tough to come by. But once you've found the perfect stylist...er....beta reader, they're worth their weight in gold.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

Get ready because the gloves are REALLY coming off this week...

  • There are still days where I feel like giving up.
  • But then I remember that I don't have any other dreams aside from being an uber successful writer who can tell all my frenemies to suck it. Well, unless you count my dream of eventually catching up on laundry, but that's just sad.
  • Bunk beds for a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old are a TERRIBLE idea.
  • I am SO OVER kiddie birthday parties. Does anyone remember when birthday parties meant keg stands and bad decisions? Yeah, me neither.
  • I hate everyone who is at BEA. SO jealous.
  • We've been living off of leftovers for a week. And it was a really gross-looking casserole. My husband asked if I would ever serve it to guests and I got mad. But he's SO right. Hell no, I wouldn't serve it to guests.
  • I'm 99% sure I was supposed to report to jury duty yesterday, but I lost the summons. Yeah. Fingers crossed that bailiffs don't google jurors.
  • Sometimes I feel like writers who we used to be friendly with are purposely ignoring us. And yes, I'm aware that this makes me both crazy AND hypersensitive. And just for the record, said writer was never a blog reader, so no one reading this has anything to worry about.
Yowsers. I told you we had a lot to get off our collective chests this week. Now it's your turn! What's your truth this Tuesday? Is it as whiney as any of ours?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sorry, Out on Lost-iday

Wow. Laura and I are still trying to wrap our minds around what really happened on Lost last night. Sadly, these mental aerobics require every single brain cell we have available, which leaves no part of our meager noggins left to write a semi-coherent blog post.

Instead we'll announce the winner of THE SUMMER OF SKINNY DIPPING....

Laura Marcella today is your lucky day! Congrats and please e-mail us your mailing address (lisa-laura(at)live(dot)com and we'll put the book in the mail ASAP.

As for the rest of you, two things you should do today:

1. Order THE SUMMER OF SKINNY DIPPING. I really, really want to hear your take on how it ends.

2. Share your Lost theories in the comments. I called Laura last night and was all WTF, but she had a genius theory that I'm totally on board with. Can't wait to hear what all of YOU thought. Goes without saying that the comments are going to be full of spoilers, so if you don't want to know don't comment.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Phobic Friday

Lisa has two (irrational) fears. House flies and pigeons.

[Editorial note from Lisa: Technically I'm scared of maggots, not house flies. I think we can all agree that there's a HUGE difference. I'm still haunted by that one scene in JULIE AND JULIA. You know the one.]


She once saw a swarm (or three) of flies in her basement, convinced herself one of the kids left something rotting down there that was now crawling with maggots and called an entire team of professional cleaning people to the rescue.

[Editorial note from Lisa: This is completely true. The cleaning company thought I was INSANE. They were probably used to cleaning up after hoarders who died in their piles of crap, but instead they were called in to clean up a basement with some toys laying around.] 

They didn't find anything rotting and probably led the flies out on their trip up and down her stairs.


[Editorial note from Lisa: But I slept REALLY well that night.]

According to Lisa, her fear of pigeons originated in London's Trafalgar Square. Tourists + hundreds of pigeons pecking, swooping, landing, pooping = 1 horrified Lisa. She calls them rats with wings and once almost overturned our restaurant table when one went pecking near her feet as we ate outside.


[Editorial note from Lisa: It was pecking at my feet! Do you have any idea how dirty pigeons are? And they have no fear. I'm pretty sure if  pigeon pecks your foot there's a 90% chance you end up with rabies or gangrene.]

Needless to say, this week's episode of Modern Family was written for Lisa. Well, minus the houseflies.



Have a great weekend everyone. And watch out for those pigeons.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: THE SUMMER OF SKINNY DIPPING


OK, so full disclosure, THE SUMMER OF SKINNY DIPPING by Amanda Howells is my kind of book. For me the cover + the title = a book I ABSOLUTELY had to read. And I wasn't disappointed.

THE SUMMER OF SKINNY DIPPING follows 16-year-old Mia to the Hamptons for the summer. Her cousins are NYC hipsters and she sticks out like a sore thumb in their glam crowd. Add a strained relationship with her mother and a boatload of body image issues and you wind up with a pretty realistic portrait of a teen girl. But when Mia meets the fearless Simon on one of her late night walks on the beach, everything changes and her miserable summer turns magical.

This book makes you long for the beach and a summer romance. I fell in love with Mia, Simon and even Mia's crazy family. I think this might be the perfect beach read. But this book goes deeper than your typical YA romance. It has more substance and style. Honestly,  I want you guys to read it so I have people to discuss the book with! There's a lot to talk about....

Lucky for you guys, I'm going to be giving away our ARC to one reader. All you have to do is make sure you're a blog follower and leave us a comment about your best summer vacation. The contest will be open until 11:59 PM on Sunday May 23rd. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WTF Wednesday: The Bieber

Is it just me or do The Bieber and this orca Beluga whale share a disquieting resemblance? I think it's the hair.


Please discuss in the comments. Also, WTF is up with Bieber mania? If anyone has an explanation that would be deeply appreciated. Similar to the Jo-Bros this kid kind of freaks me out. Then again, when I was eleven, I slept in a New Kids on the Block sleeping bag while wearing a Joey nightgown.

P.S.
OK, so after editing this post Laura sent me a link to the following video. And I have to say, even though I still find him slightly creepy, this is pretty funny. Well played, Bieber. Well played.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

  • Suzie Townsend linked to this blog recently and I've been forced to conclude that I almost always find it hilarious when people randomly say stuff in French. Laura and I used to have this bit where we would talk jibberish French to each other at inappropriate times. We laughed so hard we cried and then my mom made us leave church. Classy.
  • If I could live off of Dairy Queen twist ice cream cones with crunch coat, I would. I've learned crunch coat is regional--add that to the list of reasons why Cleveland doesn't suck. It may or may not be deep fried peanuts, but it's delicious.
  • I've come to the realization that my relationship with my 5-year-old son is eerily similar to my relationship with my college boyfriend. I'm humiliated in public when it becomes glaringly obvious that I have little-to-no-control over him, 99% of his jokes revolve around poop or other bodily functions, and I keep catching him with his hands down his pants. 
  • After my writhing daughter nailed me in the boob while changing her diaper, I seriously considered potty training. But then I remembered that with potty training comes public restrooms, inopportune accidents and incessant reminders. I'll just wear a padded bra for a few more months.
  • I'm preparing to give a speech at my best friend's wedding in three weekends and I already feel like I'm going to throw up. This does not bode well for the actual night.
  • I'm dying to finish the book I'm reading, but I left it in my car and it's raining. I like to pretend that I'm not going out to get it because I want to finish it on the elliptical tomorrow, but the truth is I'm just lazy.
  • When other people make jokes at the expense of one of my sisters, I sort of want to strangle them. Or at least send them a nasty e-mail.
  • I'm so tired my eyes feel like they're bleeding, but I really want to finish my chapter so I don't have to write during Glee or Lost tonight.
What's your truth this Tuesday?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Unsuccessful Recessionista: My Cable Bill

OK, so it's no secret that most writers aren't rich and sadly, we fall into the "most writers" category. JK Rowling we are NOT.

Anyways, the topic of the day in LiLa Land is how we can save money without sacrificing our basic needs (er...wants). According to lots of random bits of information picked up from years of half-watching Oprah and The Today Show I've learned that there are ways to save money without making any drastic changes in your day-to-day-life. These changes include:

  • Skipping Starbucks;
  • Dining in; and
  • Scaling back cable.

So, I've got one and two DOWN. I'm proud to say my Skinny Vanilla Latte habit is almost completely kicked. I'll grab a latte from Dunkin' Donuts once in a while, but my daily caffeine fixes are a thing of the past.

We're also pretty good about avoiding restaurants. The truth is, I actually sort of enjoy cooking, and eating out with two kids isn't exactly relaxing, so we've got that one covered.

But when it comes to my monthly cable bill, I'm literally being raped by AT&T uVerse on a monthly basis. In fact, I'm humiliated to publicly admit how much I pay for the privilege of watching all of my favorite shows. Suffice it to say that I'd be able to buy lattes for an entire small country with the money I spend on cable, internet and phone.

So, like clockwork, every few months I channel my inner Suze Orman and dutifully call my cable company to see what I can cut out to somehow make my cable bill less than the cost of the average American's rent.

And every single time I call they tell me that I can save $10 by cutting out movie channels except HBO. Ridiculous, right?

Now some of you recessionistas might be wondering why I don't just ditch HBO. Well, that's easy:

Suze Orman would HATE me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Things That Made Us Squee This Week

1. When Mandy Hubbard author of PRADA AND PREJUDICE and the forthcoming YOU WISH AND an up-and-coming literary agent (talk about a multi-hyphenate!) generously offered to blurb LIAR SOCIETY, we kind of freaked. Another author/agent was going to be reading our book. My mom asked us what we expected, I mean, the book will be on shelves next year and while we have thought about that, we hadn't thought about this. So, we frantically re-read the document before sending, wanted to throw up when we saw her tweets and felt like we were going to have a heart attack when she emailed. But, then we read this. And we squeed. Loudly.

2. And then, as if we weren't already floating on cloud 9, one of the girls from our YA book club came last night holding this:



We don't have a scanner, so I had to take a picture of a picture, so let me fill in the blanks. This is a cover she designed for our book. It features black and pink (of course), pearls, a star that says, "Emma's Fav Book Award" and a byline that says, "By the Bestest Authors Ever." Whenever we read a particularly terrible review, we're going to whip this bad boy out.

3. The Secret of the Old Clock: 80th Anniversary Limited Edition (Nancy Drew). Holy crap, you guys. This cover totally made us squee. Love the vintage feel!


4. Puck + Dancing + "The Lady is A Tramp = Me almost fainting. Watch this now. Seriously.

5. Our amazing bookish buds, Hilary Wagner and Kody Keplinger landed a coveted spot on Publishers Weekly BEA 2010: Kids' Galleys to Grab list. THE DUFF and NIGHTSHADE CITY are "Debuts to Watch." And we couldn't agree more. Cannot WAIT to get our hands on a copy of these books!

Hope you guys had lots to squee about this week. Please share in the comments and have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Watch your back Rachel...



My sister is the Rachel Berry of the literary world. Do you see the resemblance? She is chock full of ideas (really good ones, if you ask me), a total control freak, overenthusiastic, reach for the stars kind of gal. A blogging, vlogging, facebooking, tweeting, commenting, reading, reviewing, emailing, thinking, writing, planning, promoting, social networking force of nature.

She is determined, determined to succeed at this whole book writing thing even at the expense of sleep--after all, we have a strict 6 chapter a week schedule to uphold. Deadline from our publisher? No, just a schedule Lisa developed to get our butts into gear. She will stop at nothing. And she is single-handedly driving our agent and editor craaaazy.

But, seriously, if we ever make it in this crazy business, it will be because of her. I just write 50% of the books and wait for Rachel Lisa to tell me what to do next.

And I like it. I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way. It must be the younger sister in me.

How about you guys? Do you have a little Rachel Berry in you? If not, I'm thinking about renting Lisa out occasionally so her over-enthusiasm doesn't get us blackballed from publishing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Queen Bee (and her LiLa Wannabes)

Agent and YA Author extraordinaire, Mandy Hubbard, recently had a great Twitter debate about Queen Bees and whether or not they exist in real life. It's an interesting discussion because these mean girls have become a staple in young adult literature. And truthfully, we're sort of fascinated by the Queen Bee phenomenon and the girls that exist beneath their seemingly bitchy shells.

We definitely had a Queen Bee in high school. In our experience, she wasn't necessarily the prettiest girl in school, but the most confident. At our school everyone seemed to follow the whole Emperor's New Clothes philosophy. In other words, she thought she was hot shit, and because she thought she was hot shit, others did too. In retrospect, I sort of wish I'd had the balls to come forward and point out the fact that she was naked...er...not really hot at all, just mean. But I didn't. I just buzzed around and did her bidding like the rest of the drones.

So what about you guys? Did you have a Queen Bee? Were you brave enough to tell her to buzz off or did you just fetch her pollen?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Keeping it Real

Most people who know me in real life would *ahem* consider me to be a rather opinionated person. And they'd be right. I have lots and lots of opinions that I'm not terribly shy about sharing with anyone (and everyone) who will listen.

Okay, fine, I share my opinions with people who don't listen too. (Um, like my husband.) I'm the oldest sister. I'm bossy. It's just who I am.

And here's the thing, my opinions are really very consistent. In fact, if I had to boil down my philosophy on life into three words it would be as follows:

Keep it real.

I simply do not do fake. In fact, I've taken some pretty extreme measures to eliminate anyone with even a whiff of insincerity from my life. I simply can't deal with it. My rules are pretty simple. In order to be someone I consider a friend you must meet the following criteria:

1. You must listen without judgement when I fail as a mother/wife/sister/daughter/friend/human being. I make loads of mistakes and I'm not shy about admitting it. When Jack rolled off his changing table when he was 9 months old and had to get a CAT scan, I practically took out a billboard informing the world that I was the WORST MOTHER EVER. Or that time when I was forced to break into my own home only to be completely humiliated at Jack's preschool when he spiked a cupcake on the ground (um, maybe a delayed side effect of the fall from the changing table?), instead of pretending like I was mother of the year, I wrote a blog post telling the world how badly I suck. Bottom line: I'm not perfect and I don't want to have to pretend to be perfect. Ever.

2. You live by the golden rule. Know when to tell the truth and when to lie like a dog. Okay, so it's a little different than the traditional version, but it works. I'd want to know if I had a huge chunk of lettuce in my teeth. Or if I was way overdue for an eyebrow wax. Real friends are honest when you need them to be. More importantly, they lie when they realize the truth can only hurt. Yup, that's why your real friends will tell you you're "glowing" when  you're only 20 weeks pregnant and look like you could theoretically pop out a 9 pound baby at any second.

3. You absolutely must be able to laugh at yourself. This might actually be my single most important rule. I can't stand people that take themselves too seriously. We all suffer day-to-day humiliations. Your kid pees in the check out line at Target. Your first attempt at writing a novel gets more rejections than you even thought possible. (Seriously, I didn't even know there were that many literary agents in the publishing industry.) You publicly obsess over boys who portray high schoolers on popular television shows. Innocuous comments from your husband reduce you to tears. Instead of sweeping it all under the rug and pretending you're perfect, LAUGH. And guess what? Your real friends will give you a hug and laugh right along with you.

So that pretty much sums up why I'll always choose the Tina Feys over the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world.



P.S.
Please go congratulate our friend (and agent mate!) Stasia Kehoe for landing an agent AND a book deal in 10 days. Holy. Crap. We can't wait to read AUDITION! 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lisa FTW*

OK, so I really only had two goals on Mother's Day:

1. Go to the gym.

2. Write a chapter of LIAR SOCIETY 2 in the afternoon so I could spend my evening eating ice cream and dicking around on the interwebs.

Yeah, I like to dream big.

I'm proud to say I accomplished both things. I was particularly proud of my chapter because I managed to make it all about dodgeball. And really, who doesn't love dodgeball? I sent it off to Laura feeling very smug and titled the e-mail, "All yours! Happy Mother's Day BIATCH!"

You see when we've really hit our stride with a WIP the manuscript becomes a little like a hot potato. I love it when it's Laura's turn to write because it means I can watch TV and Tweet completely free of guilt.

So, imagine my surprise when I got the following e-mail sent back to me a few hours later:

"Your chapter is awesome, seriously. Dodgeball? Genius. But, you wrote it in present tense. Ha."

Yeah, for the record our manuscript is written in PAST tense. I'm an idiot. Please, please tell me you've done something this stupid when you've been swept up in your writing? I mean how does that even happen?

Onto more exciting news, cue the drumroll because we're ready to announce the winners of the signed copy of BEFORE I FALL and the copy of PICTURE THE DEAD....

Icy Roses (aka the gorgeous XiXi) you win BEFORE I FALL! Congratulations and send us your address! Hoorah!

Stina Lindenblatt (as you already found out on Saturday...) you've won PICTURE THE DEAD. This is probably old news for those of you who following us on Twitter or for those of you who have friended us on Facebook. As for the rest of you why aren't you following us anyways? We can be pretty entertaining in 140 characters or less. What's that you say? You don't Tweet? Well, just friend us. It's all synched up, baby. That's just how we roll.

Happy Monday everyone!

*Note to my Mom, Grandma and any other non-Tweeting, non-texting anti-acronym readers: FTW stands for "for the win." See, you really do learn something new everyday. You're welcome.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mothers of the Year

TV for breakfast, you pick the cartoon,
stuck in the Water Cycle all afternoon.

Juice boxes thrown on the floor in a rage,
bite marks on cribs like you’re trapped in a cage.

Hot dogs and macaroni for dinner again,
swallow back swear words and try to be zen.

No biting, no hitting, no spitting out food,
no whining, no crying, no being rude.

Pick them up, drop them off,
please don’t tell me you have another cough.

To the doctor’s, to grandma’s, to the library and back,
to the park and the playdates, don’t forget snacks.

Mommy has work, let me check this blog,
play behind the couch while I finish this vlog.

We’ve got this, no problem, it’s in the bag,
we’re proud, we did it, it’s time to brag.

Pop the champagne, crack open a beer,
cheers to all of you Mothers of the Year.

Happy Mother's Day to all the other moms out there!

PS: Head over to Matthew Rush's The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment today to check out his take on our query for LIAR SOCIETY! He's doing some really cool things over in that corner of the blogosphere...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How to Procrastinate Efficiently

1. Open up the document in which you are supposed to be weaving a magical story.

2. Stare at it for a while.

3. Decide you have the burning need to Tweet about your love for a certain Glee star with a mohawk who Kody Keplinger and Lynne Kelly mistakenly think they can steal from you.

4. Begin a tweet war about who will fight harder for Puck's affection.

5. Get discouraged when Kody plays the age card. Damn teenagers.

6. End up striking a deal with Scott Tracey that involves you and Puck doubling with Scott and Patrick Verona.

7. Congratulate yourself for going over Kody's head. Wisdom comes with age bitches.

8. Stare at the document.

9. Make a few unnecessary word changes to the chapter Laura has written.

10. Refresh your e-mail praying someone will write with some urgent/amazing news.

11. Eat some gelato to get over the crushing disappointment of an empty inbox.

12. Stare at the document.

13. Fix the chapter numbers.

14. Decide you can't possibly write without a brand new Pandora channel based on a Tweet from Hannah, Sarah Wylie's mysterious non-blogging sister.

15. Re-read Sarah's blog for the day because you remember it being funny and you have a strange fondness for the word "obvi."

16. Stare at the document.

17. Open up your awesome outline.

18. Mentally congratulate yourself for having such an awesome outline.

19. Cut and paste words from your outline into the document.

20. Admire the words. So pretty.

21. Refresh your e-mail at least 20 more times for good luck.

22. Check Facebook only to discover no one has updated anything that wasn't already on Twitter.

23. Curse the efficiency of social networking.

24. Stare at the document.

25. Write a time consuming blog post about procrastination that involves lots of links and spending an inordinate amount of time searching for pictures of Puck and Patrick Verona on the interwebs.

26. Stare at the document.

27. Start typing.

28. Repeat until it's 1 AM and you can barely see straight.

29. Send the cursed document to Laura and laugh maniacally when you think about her having to edit your chapter tomorrow.

30. Continue to edit your blog post until you have an even number of procrastination techniques. OCD is a bitch.

Think you've got me beat? Let's hear your best procrastination techniques in the comments.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Book Giveaway and Guest Blog: PICTURE THE DEAD

Today we’d like to welcome two-time National Book award finalist Adele Griffin and best selling author/illustrator Lisa Brown. Their illustrated novel PICTURE THE DEAD is available NOW. Go buy it. Seriously. Or just leave a comment on this post and make sure you’re a blog follower and we’ll enter you in a contest to win a copy!

And now let’s hear from the amazing authors about how they collaborated on this “gripping novel” (Shelf Awareness) and the “fanciful daguerreotype reconstructions [that] accompany the spookily ethereal story, cunningly providing clues to the puzzle” (Kirkus).

PICTURE THE DEAD is the culmination of years working on something—even though that something wasn’t always this book. We’d worked for about eighteen months on a story called BOOK OF HUMILIATIONS—sort of HEATHERS meets The Salem Witch Trials, with a dollop of HARRIET THE SPY.

As much as we adored that project, we needed to get very deep into it before we began to recognize some of its pitfalls and potholes. It was an ambitious venture, and while we didn’t see it to publication, we learned so much from it. We walked away from HUMILIATIONS knowing that the core of that idea held something cool, that our process was sound and organized, and we wanted to keep challenging ourselves. And so we embarked in a new direction, an illustrated paranormal thriller ghost story for young adults.

PICTURE THE DEAD is a ghost story and a mystery that’s set at the end of the Civil War. Jenny Lovell (our protagonist) must unravel the secrets behind her fiancĂ©'s death—and discover how to put his tortured spirit to rest. The story took shape through extensive historical research for both the plot and the illustrations. Each character, illustration, and setting was based on actual photographs and places.
Outlining and writing a book that is told partly with words and partly with images is a challenge. Add to that the fact that we live on opposite coasts, and you’ve got a full-on capital C Challenge. We sent a lot of email, and were on the phone a lot more than we usually want to be. But really, we went about constructing our plot together much in the same way that we would have alone.

Once the broad strokes had been completed, Adele created a rough draft, with Jennie’s character emerging as a haunted Alice navigating a gothic Wonderland of clues, letters, and ghostly intimations. From there, Lisa reworked the draft so that whatever could be told visually could be extracted from the text, and reconceived through Jennie’s all-important scrapbook, which would appear in loose pages throughout the text. Lisa also inlaid the text with a deeper historical context. The project succeeded because there was so much for each of us to do that played into our different strengths.

The old adage “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” holds really true for this book. All the writing that Lisa had done in the past has been for picture books. Everything short and repetitive, tiny prose poems for folks with a very limited vocabulary. For her, this project was a crash course in novel writing. For Adele, the crash course was learning accountability, the “why” behind every decision, knowing that it would have to be explained and—with Lisa’s keen ear for logic—justified. But with both of us assembling and deconstructing this story, we brought a different creative and editorial scope.

We are so excited to share PICTURE THE DEAD with the world and we’d like all of you to join us for a special event on May 6th at 7:30 PM PST (10 PM EST) when we’ll be hosting a book launch for PICTURE THE DEAD at the Booksmith in San Francisco. Lemony Snicket spokesperson (Daniel Handler) will be reading a statement of introduction!

You can attend in person or (if you’re like Laura and I and you live across the country) you can attend virtually via UStream. We'll also be on the Teen Fire Chat discussing the event live. Join us!

And don't forget to become a follower and leave a comment to be entered to win a copy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday...

It's only Tuesday and we're already feeling blah. Time for some good old fashioned truth telling...
  • I'm REALLY sad that 10 Things I Hate About You got cancelled. I'll miss all the snappy, completely unrealistic dialogue. And Patrick Verona's abs.
  • My 5-year-old thinks terms like "diaper head" are the epitome of hilarity and it sort of makes me want to staple his mouth shut. It's not the potty humor that bugs me, but it's just really not funny. I mean I can get on board with raunchy humor, but lame jokes? Annoying.
  • I've decided to begin freaking out about people actually reading our book. The idea is terrifying and exhilarating at the same exact time.
  • My patience is shot lately with my 2-year-old. Between bouts of screaming on the airplane this weekend, swatting at me throughout the day, running away when called at the post office and throwing herself on the ground in the grocery store, I feel like calling in sick.
  • I'm more than little excited for summer TV. Mad Men, True Blood, Friday Night Lights, Real Housewives of NJ. Who needs a social life when you've got cable television?
  • It's my turn to write and I've been staring at a blinking cursor for forty-five minutes.
  • I'm not sure if that's how you spell "cursor" and I'm too tired/lazy to look it up.
  • We have YA book club this Thursday at 7 PM at Joseph-Beth and we're discussing IF I STAY by Gayle Foreman. If you're anywhere close to the Cleveland area you MUST join us! We're so excited to meet writer friends in person and dish on a fabulous book. 
Have at it in the comments. It's therapeutic.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spread the Awesome (and win a signed copy!) BEFORE I FALL

Before we get into our review of BEFORE I FALL, can we all agree that Elana Johnson is a genius? Yes? Good. Thank you Elana for having this amazing idea and for bringing over 60 writers together to celebrate their favorite books. For those of you looking for a good book to read, click here and take a look at the following incredible book reviews.

OK, so as soon as Elana told us she was planning this event we staked our claim on BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver. We simply fell in love with this book. The writing is gorgeous, the characters felt like old friends and we literally could not put it down. Our YA book club declared it their favorite book of all time. They raved and gushed and reminded us exactly how great books are supposed to make you feel.

The girls in our book club initially chose the book because of this trailer. They could not stop talking about it.



So, we knew we absolutely had to vlog about our love for BEFORE I FALL.




Here's the deal. You've got one week to enter to win the signed copy of BEFORE I FALL. Just make sure you're a follower and leave a comment on this post about the one thing you absolutely have to do before you die. We'll announce the winner next Monday May 7th!

In the meantime, head over to Emily Benedict's blog to hear all about why she loves Deanne Gist. And don't forget to spread the awesome. Write a review of your favorite book, send some fan mail (just not the creepy kind) and buy a book for a friend that you know they'll love. Happy Monday!