Wednesday, June 30, 2010

WriteOnCon The Vlog Part 2 (WARNING DANCING AHEAD)

Well, we might be a little bit biased, but we think this vlog announcing that WriteOnCon registration opens tomorrow, Thursday July 1st, is even funnier than the first one.

Of course, you don't have to take my word for it. Witness the American Idol-esque antics of one writer determined to get into WriteOnCon. 


Karsten, we hate to be the ones to break it to you, but registration is open to EVERYONE at http://www.writeoncon.com/ starting tomorrow. Stancing (stalking while dancing) is NOT required. In fact, it's discouraged.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Triumphant Tuesday

Okay, so the truth is, I'm not feeling even remotely triumphant today. In fact, I'm feeling hot, sweaty, tired, crabby and annoyed with life in general.

And yet, life is pretty freaking good.

I mean, read this post from our favorite Southern Belles over at Plot This. We're writers dammit, and we're lucky to be doing exactly what we love.

So, today I am making as solemn promise to myself to appreciate all of the amazing things in my life. I have a family that I adore, sisters who are my best friends, a job that I'm obsessed with and a DVR to record all the trashtastic summer television. Take that Tuesday!

So, you tell me: What's your triumph this Tuesday?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Giveaway: THE HEALING SPELL by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Keeping in spirit with THE HEALING SPELL (available from Scholastic Thursday), here are exactly 9 reasons why you need to buy this book. Now.



9. The author. Kimberley is maybe one of the nicest people we have ever met. She is incredibly supportive of other writers and has a great deal of wisdom to share because she's an old pro. Check out all of her other books here!


8. The blurbs. Um, hello Richard Peck of Newbery Award winning greatness.


7. The cover. After you read the book, the cover will have much more significance. The artist did a beautiful job capturing the spirit of the bayou and the tone of the novel.


6. The trailer. This speaks for itself. Show this to a room full of kids (okay fine, and thirty-something-year-old sister-writers) and they'll be begging to read. End of story.


5. The setting. Hello Louisiana. There's the bayou, the dialect, the gators, the pirogues. By the end of the book you'll want your own baby gator to hold while you lay back in your pirogue letting your fingers skim over the waters of the bayou with a belly full of crawfish. Trust me.


4. The culture. There are scenes in this novel that encapsulate the culture of the deep South. And the healing spell? I'll never forget it.


3. The secondary characters. Kimberley creates a solid cast of characters readers will fall in love with. A dad, sisters, an aunt, a cousin, the love-interest. They all work to thread the pieces and parts of the story together in a really rich and beautiful way.


2. The story. Middle schoolers everywhere will truly connect with Livie's situation whether or not they've ever dealt with a sick loved one. She's smack dab in the middle of two sisters (I feel your pain Livie), she idolizes her dad, struggles to understand her mom before the accident and feels nothing but guilt afterwards. Add in a confusing crush amidst difficult circumstances and you have the perfect storm of tension. Bravo!

1. Livie. Her voice rings so true to middle school. She tells the story with such heart that you can't help but fall in love. I was rooting for Livie all the way through and couldn't wait for her to find the strength she needed to come to terms with her mother's illness.

So, there you have it. THE HEALING SPELL stands out in the world of middle grade lit making it a must-have.

AND lucky for you, one reader will take home a SIGNED copy today. Become a follower, leave a comment with your email address and we'll let the random number generator decide!

Friday, June 25, 2010

What We Learned This Week: The Celeb Edition

Just because it's summer doesn't mean we can't learn a lesson or two. Thank God for celebs.

1. Pimping your kids out to the paps with Twilight props is just tacktastic.


There are so many things wrong with this picture. We're not quite sure where to begin.
  • Um yeah, we get it Twi-hards across the world are excited for the movie premier, but Edward/R. Pattz on a BPA free water bottle? SERIOUSLY? Well, I guess it kind of works in a way. His chilly skin would theoretically keep your water nice and cold.
  • You're showing your Edward the vampire water bottle to your 18-month old daughter. Pimp your kids out for the paparazzi much?
  • Wouldn't you just love to know what Tori is saying to her daughter? "Look honey, this nice man is Edward. He'll suck your blood and watch you while you're sleeping."


2. It's REALLY hard to walk with hooves.


Thank God I saw this picture before packing for my trip next weekend. I almost grabbed my hoof-like black platform boots. Thanks to Lady Gaga, I decided to pack a nice sensible pair of sneakers instead. P.S. Can you imagine what she went through to take those bad boys off for security? If there were flight delays in NYC last week, I think we all know who to blame.

3. Botox is almost never a good idea.


Thank you, Kate. Before this, there was the slim chance we might have considered Botox. We can now safely say that day will never come. Do you think the Botox mixed with the venom in her blood to create the lovely cat-eyed look pictured above? MEOW.


3. The only excuse for jorts (the fugly offspring of jeans and knee length shorts) is....Crap, there isn't one. 


Yowsers. In the infamous words of Whitney herself, "Crack is whack." Beyonce, we don't know what you were smoking when you left the house looking like this, but please stop. You're gorgeous, and this...isn't.

4. Cameron Diaz is hot.


That bathing suit is not. Also Jim Carey was hilarious on In Living Color. We miss those days.



5. Every time Gwyneth wears something remotely unflattering, a fairy gets its wings. 

Okay, fine, this isn't really that bad. We just really wanted to say something mean about Gwynnie because the GOOP newsletter popped up in our inbox this week and it almost always inspires irrational Gwyneth hate.

So, how about you guys? What did you learn from US Weekly this week? Sound off in the comments about our horrible cattiness and have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are you ready to be a slush puppy?

We've been hearing a lot about the so-called "new era of publishing" where agents and editors don't exist and readers decide who will become the next J.K. Rowling.

Sounds awesome in theory, right? No more nasty agents and editors judging your work and telling you that your amazing-sure-to-be-bestselling manuscript sucks ass.

And there are tons of incredible books that started out as self-published and moved on to find success in mainstream publishing. (WE HEAR THE DEAD anyone?) These success stories certainly prove that there are some great books slipping through the cracks in the current system.

But, um, have you guys ever read slush? This Salon.com article tweeted by our uber smart publisher Dominique Raccah provides a really interesting perspective about the reality of the slush pile.

The truth is, we thought our first (doomed) novel was AMAZING. Truly. There was absolutely no doubt in our little heads that THE NORTH SHORE was going to be a huge hit. And you know what?

It sucked.

Bad.

I feel horrible that we subjected so many literary agents to that pathetic manuscript and thank God every single day that it NEVER found its way to readers. I get chills just thinking about it.

So, I guess I'm not sure that I'm ready for this "new era of publishing." As a reader, I don't want to read slush. I want to read really amazing stories that are going to make me laugh and cry and keep me up all night wondering if our work will ever be able to live up to what I just finished reading.

But maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WTF Wednesday

1. WTF is up with Ryan Cabrera's hair? Seriously, dude. That look didn't work in 1999 and it's STILL NOT WORKING.



2. I'm back to refreshing my e-mail every 5 seconds. Literally. Even the automatic refresh function in yahoo isn't satisfactory. WTF is wrong with me? What am I even waiting for? I wish I knew.

3. There is a LOT of flirting going on via Twitter these days. Have you guys noticed? WTF? Is Twitter the new place for swinging singles to meet up? Is it weird that Laura and I mainly use Twitter to argue amongst ourselves? Wait...don't answer that last one.

4. Speaking of Twitter wars, Laura totally owes me a case of Diet Dr. Thunder after losing a bet with me last Friday. WTF, isn't it time for The Lone Roecker to PAY UP?

5. Laura also tried to convince me that we need to make some kind of crazy ass pact to look at our book cover together for the first time. WTF, Laura? Have you met me? Do you really think all this e-mail refreshing is for my health? When that fateful e-mail arrives I'm opening it faster than you can say, "What Would Nancy Drew Do?"

6. We've updated our website to include the words "dicking around on the internet." WTF is wrong with us? Wait...definitely don't answer that last question. For the record, Laura came up with it as a joke and I argued that we absolutely had to include the term because if I ever read that on another author's website I would 100% buy their book.

7. WTF is up with LiLa and why haven't they commented on your blog lately? Um, yeah, we suck at comments lately and feel absolutely terrible about it. We're trying really hard to make our way through all of our unanswered comments, but we also like to do other stuff like write and sleep. So, don't hate us. We love you and read (and sometimes reread!) every single comment. And we will visit your blog someday very soon or respond via e-mail because we think you are all amazing.

Ok, your turn. WTF is bugging you this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere


After reading Sarah Wylie's post about two of her favorite recent reads, I immediately logged into the library and requested both books. Instead of actual books, I ended up with these cool MP3 player things with the audio book loaded into it. I lost my iPod last year so I was super-pumped to have something to listen to at the gym (even it was a tear-jerker of a book more likely to force me into the fetal position than burn calories). Anyways, ever since I began the book Friday, I've been walking around with earphones plugged in my ears. The sound of my normal life has been muted and I've been thrust into Lennie's world. And let me tell you, it's been heartbreaking.

Here's a bit about THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE:

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

Now, I'm a sucker for sad books, especially sad books mixed with romance. Add in a sister or two and I'm putty. But a warning to all writers. Jandy Nelson will make you feel like a total hack. Her sentences are poetic, each word carefully chosen, each line contributing to this beautiful, intricate, masterpiece of a book. It is exactly that: Art. And, it's her debut. As I was listening, I found myself loving it just as much (maybe even *gasp* a tiny bit more) than BEFORE I FALL. Here's a few reasons why...
  • I'm not quite sure how she did it, but Nelson had me crying (literally tears streaming down my face crying, at the gym mind you) and then laughing a few paragraphs later. Lennie's grief is thrust in front of the reader and it is real and authentic and raw. But her character still manages to shine through, granting you moments where you forget the great sadness. It feels like life.
  • Nelson's secondary characters shouldn't be called secondary. It's a crime actually. She builds characters with spider-leg eyelashes-Bat-Bat-Bat, booming thou-shalt-Ten-Commandments kind of voices and special laughs named Aunt Gooch because they arrive like an aunt with pink hair, a suitcase full of balloons and no intention of leaving (don't quote me on that, remember I listened to the book!).
  • Each chapter contains a poem written by Lennie that offers a window into the relationship she shared with her sister. A poet at heart, I loved these excerpts.
  • This book taps into the aftermath of losing someone--the fear that accompanies a loss because all of the sudden you realize the worst can happen and if it happened once, it can happen again. And the not knowing who you've become after that somebody is gone (obviously Nelson says this better, so forgive me). But everyone can relate to this.
  • Lennie's Uncle Big explains that the only way around this is through (again, much more beautifully said) and I hope this stays with me. I've always marveled at the strength of others as they work their way through tragedy--they must have had the same realization. I was inspired by this.
The bottom line? I loved the book. Absolutely, positively loved every word, every page, every scene. I will never forget it. Books like this make me want to be a better writer.

If  you haven't read it, grab it, if you have, what did you think?

Monday, June 21, 2010

LiLa Stages a Rebellion and CELEBRATES!

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to guest vlog for The YA Rebels on Saturday and this time we decided we needed a little help from some of our friends...

(Snarky commentary courtesy of Scott Tracey our ever-grateful YA Rebels sponsor)



Here are the links to our guest stars' fabulous blogs (Hint: if you're not following these peeps, crawl out from that rock you've been hiding under and HIT THE FOLLOW BUTTON. Seriously.):
And the best news yet? One of our extra special guest stars has some BIG news and a vlog of her own to celebrate.



P.S.
Um, feel free to watch our vlog over and over and over again. We have a not-so-friendly competition going with Karsten Knight (fellow YA Rebels Guest Vlogger) about who can get the most views on You Tube for their guest vlog. The winner gets a tiara, so we're counting on you guys.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Top 5 Things We've Learned This Week

5. The writing community is made of awesome. Okay, okay, we already knew this--but it was re-confirmed this week after all the support WriteOnCon received. We were seriously blown away.

4.  There is a hidden ingredient in the new Pretzel M&Ms. Crack.

3. Whenever I whip out my cell phone, I feel like Emma from DECEPTION. It's super old-school. And it won't charge unless you physically push the cord into the phone with a great deal of force. I'm eyeing the Droid, but am afraid of touch screens.

2. Apparently, we broke three super secret YA Rebel Rules in our guest vlog for them (which will be airing tomorrow). They seriously need to come up with an orientation packet for guest vloggers or something. If you're interested in hearing EXACTLY which rules we unknowingly broke, stop back on Monday for a behind the scenes look at our vlog.

1. My new favorite word is "slag." It's all Loretta's fault. I feel the need to work it into day-to-day conversation although I have the feeling that referring to the little girl that shoved my 3-year-old daughter at the playground as a "stupid slag" might be frowned upon.

Any lessons to share this week oh wise readers?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

You know you've gone too far when you reference LiLo...

As writers we all know that voice is probably one of the most important ways we can distinguish our work.  As you may have gathered from our recent tweets we've been hard at work on a synopsis for LIAR SOCIETY and, um, let's just say it was kind of a struggle.

Our first draft was pretty much a total nightmare. We'd managed to distill Kate's entire story into two single spaced pages, but we'd left out the most important ingredient of the book: our voice. Ok, so theoretically that's an easy fix, right? Just go back over your craptastic, dry as a bone synopsis and add in some voice.

Yeah...not so easy.

Some lines worked, like:

Just as Kate's wondering if Nancy Drew has some kind of 24-hour hotline to rescue girl detectives in distress, her mysterious (and ridiculously sexy) knight in not-so-shining armor, Liam Gilmore, saves the day.

Some...not so much:

She came clean, but Cameron turns everything around on Kate, so she looks about as trustworthy as Lindsay Lohan.

So, how do you guys walk the line on voice? How can you tell when you've crossed it?

P.S.
For the record, I stand by my LiLo line. Don't tell Laura, but I totally added it back in before sending the final synopsis back to our editor. (Ha! Do you hear that furious clicking noise? It's Laura frantically checking our sent e-mails to see if good old Linds made the cut. Good times.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cry Me a River

Lisa is crabby.

Evidence:
  • I didn't help with the blog post yesterday, so she felt the need to include an embarrassing photo of my butchered hair.
  • She sent me the last chapter of LIAR SOCIETY 2 last night after 1:30. The woman doesn't sleep.
  • She developed this insane schedule for us to complete LS2, forcing each of us to write two chapters a day for the last two weeks.
  • She gave me synopsi homework (it's like a rash, only more irritating) and almost cried when I returned it, dry as a bone and called on her to fix it.
  • Her Twitter feed makes me want to jump off a bridge.
Chin up, Lisa. Crank up the AC, go grab your Snuggie (pictured*), fix yourself a martini and watch an episode or two of the Bachelorette.



And remember. Jessica Simpson is almost always having a worse day than you. She is never going to live down that dress...

EDITORIAL NOTE:
Wow, even Laura's retaliatory blog posts are sort of nice. For some reason this makes me even more angry. 

Yours Bitchily, 
Lisa

*It turns out my stash of pictures sucks compared to Lisa's. This was the best I could do on such short notice and without access to a scanner.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

1. I'm beta reading a manuscript right now that's better than a lot of the published books I've read over the past 6 months.

2. We're almost done with the first draft of LIAR SOCIETY 2. I'm torn between excitement to type "THE END" and an irrational fear of what issues we're going to find when we start editing.

3. I still haven't had time to watch the True Blood premier. Stupid writing is getting in the way of quality time with my television. I also haven't watched a single episode of The Bachelorette. Think I can call it a wash?

4. My favorite thing about being on the WriteOnCon team is all the e-mail. Lately there's always something exciting lurking in our mailbox.

5. I get really excited when we get a new follower on Twitter or the blog. *Waves* But I also live in fear that we're going to scare them off...

6. Using emoticons makes me feel dirty.

7. I don't think I'm ever going to be good at writing synopsi. And yes, I know that's not the correct plural, but I hate them too much to look up the proper terminology. Plus I like that my plural makes them sound like a disease or eight legged sea monsters.

8. I'm supposed to be writing the final chapter in the WIP right now, but my so-called writing partner disappeared without even a mention of a blog post. To teach her a lesson, I'm posting this lovely picture of Laura post Freshman year Felicity haircut. #ThisIsWar

9. We have to film another vlog this week. I'm mostly including this as one of my truths so we don't forget.

10. As much as I LOVED the Glee finale, I can't stop thinking about Quinn Fabray's baby bump. She looked 5 months pregnant when she delivered. If you want to see what real pregnancy looks like, go watch Away We Go.

11. Since Lisa included my mullet in this post, I'm not sure I want to contribute my truth, but here it goes. I spent all of last night nursing a sick baby (no, not nursing-nursing (she's 2)--making her feel better), washing sheets and scrubbing floors. The blog was a distant memory.

12. Okay, I lied. I just went to bed early with DECEPTION by Lee Nichols (really, it's Lisa's fault because she gave me the book and now I can't stop reading). Again, the blog was a distant memory. When I woke up this morning, I panicked.

13. I miss the days of 8 AM post times. I wake up early, I could help with posts then.

14. Hey, Lisa changed the look of the blog without asking (which, okay fine, looks better), maybe I'll change the post times. #Thisreallyiswar Oh, and I don't have access to embarrassing OLD pictures, but I do have some NEW ones. Muwhahaha.

So how's that for random? What's your truth this Tuesday?

Monday, June 14, 2010

WriteOnCon: The Vlog

As most of you know, we've been working on a top secret project with some writer-friends. Well today is the big reveal! So sit down, grab some Twizzlers and enjoy the show...


So, just to sum things up...

Conferences are expensive. Writers are poor. Now you have no excuse not to join Elana Johnson, Jamie Harrington, Shannon Messenger, Casey McCormick, and us (along with Jennifer Stayrook—our incredible web designer) for a FREE online kidlit writer’s conference!


Who? Any and all writers of YA
What? WriteOnCon, FREE Online Writer's Conference
When? August 10th-12th, 2010

Why? Because Steven Malk, Catherine Drayton, Michelle Andelman, Suzie Townsend, Mark McVeigh, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Kathleen Ortiz, Lindsay Eland, Dan Ehrehaft, Mandy Hubbard, Lindsey Leavitt, Josh Berk, Anica Rissi, Jodi Meadows and many, many more will be joining you.

To celebrate the conference launch and help spread the word, we've put together another contest. We're giving away your choice of a Query Letter Critique or a First Chapter Critique.

How to enter:

Follow our blog and fill out the contest form below by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, June 19th

For Extra Entries:

+2 for tweeting about this contest

+3 for posting or linking this contest on your blog/website/facebook

+5 for posting the conference Countdown Widget on your blog or website

+1 for each of my co-organizer’s blogs or websites that you follow

CLICK HERE to enter!

We'll see you all on August 10th-12th. Brace yourselves...it's going to be EPIC!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Giddy. Up. The Lone Roecker takes over the blog.


Watch your back older sister. If the above screen shot isn't clear enough, that's a picture of my white steed guarding the Idea Whore file. Do not be mistaken. LR does not stand for Lila Roecker any longer, but the Lone Roecker.

If you want control of the file once again, you must agree to the following terms:
  • Meet me at Nelson Ledges tomorrow with a briefcase (or envelope, whichever is easier) full of our ENTIRE advance from LIAR SOCIETY by LAURA and Lisa Roecker.
  • 5 unopened bags of regular Twizzlers and Twizzler Nibs.
If you fail to submit to my demands, I will delete the Elle1813 Gmail account and the blog will be history. MUWAHAHAHAHA.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tennerviews: NICE AND MEAN and SEA

We've got two fabulous author interviews posted over at The Elevensies.

Check out our interview with Jessica Leader author of NICE AND MEAN (which is available NOW! Order your copy here or here!)

 


And check out our interview with Heidi Kling author of SEA (which can be bought here or here!)


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Review: THE CARRIE DIARIES

You might remember our little review of Sex And The City 2 that we posted last week. If you didn't read it, all you really need to know is that we weren't all that impressed, to, uh, put it mildly.

So, when my friend loaned me a copy of THE CARRIE DIARIES (the prequel to Sex And The City by the author of the book the series was based on, Candace Bushnell) a week later I was a little skeptical. To be perfectly honest, I was feeling a little down on the entire franchise after seeing that travesty they tried to pass off as a feature length film.

And the first 50 pages or so were a little lackluster for me. They were entertaining enough to keep me reading, but it was still very easy for me to put the book down. But then Carrie got a boyfriend and started trying to figure out how to remain independent and happy with a guy in her life. She always put her friends first and she started to explore her life long dream of becoming a writer.

The book got good.

So good that when I read the last line I found myself wishing I had the next book in the series so I could read it right away. Bushnell did Carrie proud. She managed to take a self-assured sex columnist in her 40's and transform her into a 17-year-old girl trying to navigate her first real relationship. And there's so much for young women to learn in these pages. Like the HBO series, Bushnell forces the reader to think about whether or not landing the guy of your dreams is worth sacrificing your sense of self. I loved that this book is bringing SATC's celebration of independence and girl power to the younger generation.

Bottom line: Sex And The City fans, save the $10 it will take to buy a movie ticket and order THE CARRIE DIARIES on Amazon for 45 cents more. You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

  • We have a LOT of secrets right now. All (okay, fine, most) will be revealed Monday when we post an EPIC vlog. Get excited.
  • Every time I sit down to read the book for our YA Book Club, my eyes roll to the back of my head. I'm pretty sure it's the result of my traumatic hair-mergency, a wedding weekend and being woken up by my 2-year-old before 7 AM for a month now with, "OPEN THE DOOR!" It may also be a little of what-the-hell-just-happened-in-this-book?!
  • A shiny package arrived in the mail yesterday at MY house and I know it's driving Lisa crazy. This makes me happy.
  • We've just passed the 50,000 word mark in LIAR SOCIETY 2 and we'd love to have our first draft complete within the next couple of weeks. Even better, we finally figured out the final plot twist. And it's pretty darn good. Now we just have to write it.
  • Unfortunately, all I want to do lately is read and watch crappy TV. Not exactly the most productive habits in the world.
  • Speaking of crappy TV, it would literally be impossible for me to be more excited for Pretty Little Liars. I predict it's going to be awesomely bad. 
  • I love when Lisa uses words like "Twitter handle" and "avatar." Twitter still scares me, although it feels like a public Skype conversation and I'm sort of digging it.
  • I'm still bitter about missing BEA. But all the giveaways are making me feel just a little bit better about the whole thing.  Enter Jen's contest to win all the great reading material without getting elbowed in the face while diving for an ARC of MATCHED or THE DUFF

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Winner of DECEPTION and Another Fantabulous Contest...

Congratulations Bethany Elizabeth! You're the lucky winner of DECEPTION chosen by the random number generator! Can't wait to hear what you think of DECEPTION, so send us your address so we can mail it right away! Lisa-Laura(at)live(dot)com.

In other news, are you as excited to read Ally Condie's MATCHED as we are??? We're practically drooling and sadly without an ARC...

Enter the fabulous Veronica Roth who's hosting a contest on her blog to win this much buzzed about book.  But she's going to make you work for it. In order to enter you have to "match" some YA protagonists. You can either match them according to compatibility or hilarity. Like: let me put together Katniss Everdeen with Edward Cullen. What would their relationship be like, in a few lines? You can write dialogue, or just describe it, or write a scene, whatever works!

We've decided to go with Alex from PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles and Nancy Drew, and not the updated, sexed up Nancy Drew, old school 1950's Nancy. Here it goes....

Alex: Hola chica, you lookin' for a clue? I've got one right here *grabs himself*

Nancy: You'll have to excuse me, but there's an old clock that needs investigating.

Alex: *moves in mere inches from her face* Wouldn't you rather investigate me?

Nancy: I'm not quite sure what you mean. I can't imagine that you'd have any clues. Besides, Ned is waiting for me at the library.

Alex: No seriously, I have your freakin' clue. It's this lame ass key. Just take it, already, I've got better things to do.

Nancy: Oh, well, that is actually quite helpful. I believe this will open up the safe hidden beneath the staircase which will reveal who has been blackmailing my poor elderly neighbor. Thank you.

Alex: Let me save you a trip, chica. It's the creepy old uncle.

Nancy: Yes, well that does make sense. It is almost ALWAYS the creepy old uncle, isn't it?

Alex: Si. Now get out of here before Brittany catches you. She gets mad jealous, Mamacita.

Nancy: Oh, er, yes, I can see how that might be an issue. You are quite fetching. Thanks again for all your help. Now Ned and I will have time to neck in the stacks.

END SCENE

Okay, now it's your turn. Head on over to Veronica's blog (NOW--the contest ends today) and write a fabulous scene with a couple of your favorite YA protagonists. And check out the other comments while you're over there because some of the match ups are pretty freaking funny. We can't wait to see what you come up with...happy Monday!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hair-mergency

If you've been reading the blog for a while, chances are you've heard Lisa talk about the time I decided to chop off all my hair like a boy and dye it red. Let's just say this was a bad idea...of epic proportions. I had a mullet for over a year during the grow-out phase and there still seriously may be traces of ten-year-old red color in my hair.

Anywho, I'm a little sensitive about the locks. The word "brassy" gives me nightmares and someone threatening to paint red hair dye on my hair would be the most effective form of torture I can think of. So, what better time to have a hair-mergency than before a huge wedding weekend where I am not only a bridesmaid, but the matron-of-freaking-honor? That's right, I had a four alarm hair-mergency.

9:00 last Saturday morning: Salon calls to cancel appointment I've had on the books for over a month because highly recommended stylist (HRS) has strep. Totally screwed up not only my day, but Stacey's, who stayed the night to babysit during appointment.

5:00: Appointment is re-scheduled, but shoved in. Consultation with HRS is rushed and rather vague. HRS is painting the top five inches of my hair only with some sort of mixed color and I'm feeling slightly nervous that the top and bottom won't blend. The words "multi-tonal color" and "totally natural" were thrown around and I had visions of walking out of the salon looking like my blonde, 2-year-old daughter.

5:25: HRS approaches my chair and tells me not to worry, the color will never come out as dark as it is looking.

6:00: Random girl washes me out and HRS comes to the sink to comment on how great the color looks.

6:15: Return to seat with wet hair and see the distinct glimmer of a brassy, coppery, auburny monstrosity painted around the top five inches of my hair. Die a little.

6:20: Get word that HRS does not have time to blow dry my hair and after he slaps a little product in, I am ushered to the front desk where I am told to pay $100. Abandon gift certificate from daughter for Mother's Day and pay the difference. Die a little.

6:30: Immediately call Lisa. Clicking can be heard in the background as she's sharing my nightmare with the world via Twitter. Die a little.

6:45: Dry hair and realize it's not as bad as I thought it was. It's WORSE. I have red roots and a blonde bottom. Leave panicky message with salon where I bumble about brassy hair, a matron of honor speech and broken dreams. Die COMPLETELY.

Conclusion? I had to spend an additional three hours today having bleach painted on my head in an effort to cut the red. The woman who was commisioned to fix the HRS' botch job did the best she could, but my hair is now orange instead of red and I am dead inside*.

Cheers!

*Okay, okay I know there are BIGGER problems in the world. MUCH BIGGER. But I have ugly hair and thus permission to be dramatic.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tag, you're it...


Want to change your avatar in support of Elana Johnson's upcoming release of POSSESSION on June 7th? Easy! Just right click on the above image and save in a place you'll be able to remember. You're now ready to exchange your picture with the new tag! If you have any questions, please email us and we'd be happy to help. YOU'RE OFFICIALLY TAGGED. GO!

The Top 5 Reasons you need to read DECEPTION (HAUNTING EMMA). Now.



1. Let's not bury the lead here, today we are GIVING AWAY a copy of DECEPTION (HAUNTING EMMA) by Lee Nichols. To enter all you have to do is be a follower and leave your best ghost story in the comments. The contest is open until 11:59 PM on Sunday June 6th. Trust me, you want to enter this contest and if you don't win, you absolutely need to order the book immediately. It's that good. Seriously.

2. It's a ghost story. And who doesn't love a good ghost story? I dare you not to want to read this book after you've read the following description from Amazon.com: When Emma's parents disappear she finds herself in the hands of a new guardian—her college-age "knight in J.Crew armor," Bennett Stern. But she can't shake the strange visions that are haunting her. She has memories she can't explain, and Emma doesn't trust anyone anymore—except maybe Bennett. But he's about to reveal a ghostly secret to Emma. One that will explain the visions . . . and make Emma fear for her life.

3. Emma ROCKS. I mean, I love her. She's so funny, fresh, independent and self-assured--all of the qualities so many YA heroines seem to lack these days. 

4. The romance. I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say that the romantic tension JUMPS off the page in this book. It's always fun to read a novel that reminds you what it's like to fall in love for the first time and DECEPTION definitely delivers.

5. You're going to want to know what happens next. DECEPTION is the first book in a series and trust me when I say you're really going to want to know what happens next. The ending of this book made me want to jump up and down and scream. And then it made me want to read the next book in the series. Immediately.

So, you've got your orders: 

1. Enter our contest to win DECEPTION by leaving a ghostly comment on this post and following our blog.

2. Check back on Monday to see if you've won.

3. If you don't win, order your copy of DECEPTION immediately.

4. Read the book and e-mail me so we can dish about it. I can't wait to hear what you guys think!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How to Be Perky by LiLa



Now, if that's not the definition of perky, I don't know what is.

Okay, let's face it, being perky, like Kelly Ripa perky, either takes a nasty cocaine habit (Lisa swears Kelly was one of Ted Casablanca's Blind Vices) or a step-by-step guide. Since cocaine is expensive and addictive (oh yeah, and sort of illegal), we consider the guide to be a bit more user-friendly with the added benefit of an especially low risk of jail time. And let's not forget the convenience factor! Now you don't have to waste your time asking this question or even this one. You're welcome.

LiLa's 5-Step Guide to Perky Power

Step 1. Take a shower. Yes, this may seem obvious, but it's hard to feel perky with greasy hair. And before you slip into those yoga pants, think again. Studies prove that getting dressed in street clothes improve perkiness by up to 97%. Just kidding, go ahead and pull on those comfy yoga pants. Being perky is a lot easier when you're wearing an elastic waistband.

Step 2. Make some coffee, shoot back a couple of No-Doz Jessie Spano Style, rip into a Perky Jerky or watch a few funny YouTube videos. By the end of step 2, you should be ready to either run a marathon or tackle your day feeling all perk-a-licious. (Making up new words is totally optional, but certainly can't hurt.)

Step 3. Use air quotes and other animated hand gestures as much as humanly possible. This step is not for the faint of heart and we wouldn't recommend it unless we were sure it worked. You'll know you're on the right track if people feel like it's necessary to keep a minimum of 5 feet between you and them. The key here is that you want to give the impression that you were once a cheerleader or maybe even in drama club. Big movements, especially jazz hands, if you can swing 'em, always help.

Step 4. Endorse something or someone. Kelly Rippa pimps washing machines, Suzanne Sommers has the Thigh Master, and we prefer to spend our time stalking...er...recommending authors who we love. I mean what's the point of being perky if you're not spreading the love?

Step 5. Take a nap. Let's be honest, all that perkiness is kind of exhausting.

So, the next time you wake up in the morning feeling all crabby and (gasp!) un-perky. Just follow our simple 5-step program and you too will be ready to host the morning news sans illegal white powder. Or at least crank out a couple of amusing blog posts.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

From Birkins to Burqas, SATC2 Sucked

Last week as I was sitting in the doctor's office waiting to be called, a woman and her husband sat directly across from me. Normally, I wouldn't have even looked up from my BlackBerry, but this woman was wearing a burqa.

I noticed.

I tried not to stare, but there's something fascinating and a little eerie about seeing only a woman's eyes. And it's not something you run into often in Cleveland, Ohio. I found myself sneaking little peeks at her, wondering what she was wearing beneath her black robes, wondering if her whole face was as gorgeous as her eyes, wondering if she was thin or heavy or maybe even hiding a baby bump.

The wait was long and the waiting room was restless. We made eye contact and shared a quick eye roll about another patient yammering on her cell phone. I smiled. It was nice to make a connection. Soon after, we both disappeared into exam rooms and I didn't think of her again.

Until Friday night when we decided to have a girls' night out to see Sex And the City 2. As you guys know we were excited to go see a fun, silly movie. And it was fun.

We had a great dinner beforehand and the movie started off ridiculous, but entertaining. Let's just say you don't walk into Sex And the City and expect an oscar worthy film. And I'm not a movie snob. I can sit through (and enjoy) just about any movie including Bride Wars. What can I say? It's a gift.

We had some laughs at the girls' expense throughout the film. The dialogue was forced, the outfits were ridiculous and their lives were completely unrealistic, but it was still fun. And then they went to Abu Dhabi and that's where things started to get uncomfortable.

The scene where the ladies observe a woman wearing a burqa at a restaurant and wait with bated breath for her to eat a french fry kind of worked. Their curiosity reminded me of myself in that waiting room. How would she eat the french fries? Was there a mouth hole in the burqa? The woman delicately lifted the burqa and put a single french fry in her mouth and Carrie quipped about her dedication to fried food. It was interesting to watch American characters deal with a tradition so outside our social norms. Especially characters who were created to embody sexual freedom and empowerment for women. I'll never forget that scene.

But things went downhill from there. The women took Abu Dhabi by storm, completely ignoring and at times, ridiculing, the culture of the country where they were guests. Samantha's racy encounter with a man at dinner would have been offensive just about anywhere, but in a Muslim country it was grounds for arrest. By the time we reached the climax of the movie (no pun intended) Samantha had almost been stoned to death in an outdoor market and the women were all running around in burqas like they were middle eastern clown costumes.

The tone was all wrong. Characters that I'd grown to love after six television seasons were ridiculing Muslim women and their beliefs. And no matter how repressive we find the burqa in America, it made me angry to watch American characters go to a foreign country and completely disrespect their culture.

I think a commenter at IFC.com said it better than I'll ever be able to:

"[SATC 2] is an accidental candid snapshot of the sick, dying heart of America, a film so pleased with its vacuous, trashy, art-free extravagance that its poster should be taped to the dingy walls of terrorist sleeper agents worldwide. More depressing and alarming than the movies themselves is the notion that a certain culture, a certain mindset, birthed it, without a pang of remorse or even apparent self-awareness, much less self-criticism. Ladies and gentlemen, this is why they hate us."

On my way home from the movie I couldn't stop thinking about the woman I'd seen in the doctor's office earlier in the week. Somehow the movie made me feel like I'd just paid $10 for the cinematic equivalent of spitting in her face.

So tell us, those of you who have seen the movie, are we taking it too seriously?