Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday With a Side of Shame

Photo courtesy of
1. Damn you candy-filled plush pumpkin trick-or-treat bag. Now I'm going to have to lie to my daughter about where all her candy went and it's not even Halloween yet.

2. I hate you excercise bikes at the gym with your come hither seats and sweat-free settings. I'm sitting, I'm reading, I'm barely cycling, I'm not sweating. It's happening.

3. Go to hell crate of cleaning supplies mocking me from the linen closet. You too vacuum cleaner with a layer of dust on top. And I'm looking at you full dishwasher of clean dishes. You can all just suck it. SUCK IT.

4. Hey, screw you stove. How dare you judge me? So what if we've eaten out all week. It was kid's night at Donatos. Lydia had the time of her life. You just stand there all pretentious with your rows of burners and fancy buttons. The next time the power goes out, I'm not resetting your clock. Deal with it.

5. Thermostat? Yeah, you. It's 60 degrees out and it's kind of chilly in here. I'm too lazy to go upstairs to get a sweatshirt. Warm up my house, biatch.

6. Well, hello Microsoft Word. Yes, I know I'm supposed to be writing an outline and fixing our cluster of a WIP, but The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is calling my name. Smell ya later.

7. What's that you say, skinny jeans? Yes, I do realize two glasses of wine and carboloading like a marathoner isn't going to get my ass into you any sooner. And no, actually at this point in time I really don't care. There's nothing wrong with an elastic waistband, dammit.

8. Hi there, fellow preschool moms. Why yes, that handsome young man in the rock n' roll t-shirt shouting profanities into the pretend phone is my son. What's that? You want to cancel our playdate next week? Yeah, well your kid just stuck a straw up someone else's nose, so now might be a good time to dismount from that high horse of yours. You're welcome.

9. Good morning social worker from child services. Yes, I'm aware that it's frowned upon to scream like a lunatic while attempting to get three children out of the house fully dressed in the morning. No, I have no intention of changing my tactics at this point in time unless you count bribing them with Halloween candy? No? Guess we'll just have to agree to disagree then.

10. You know what sleep, you can just SUCK IT. Yeah, that's right. I have a newborn, I'm trying to write a book and I hate that we're involved in this crazy codependent relationship where I need you. I just can't quit you, sleep. But I'll try dammit. I. Will. Try.

Wow. We feel 10 pounds lighter and we didn't even have to pretend to break a sweat at the gym. Score.

Happy Friday guys!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


The Roeckers were lucky enough to bring Daisy Whitney's THE MOCKINGBIRDS to Hilton Head when we went on vacation in August. Almost every member of our family took turns with her book, all of us finishing within hours. Everything from the cover, a nod to the classic TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, to the pacing, pages FLY, was pitch-perfect. Daisy's debut will not only open eyes, but it could also be used as a valuable teaching tool for young adults.

Here's what the back cover has to say:
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--you fight for it.

Lila's Take:

Daisy opens THE MOCKINGBIRDS during the hazy aftermath of a drunken stupor. Alex learns quickly that the previous night has gone horribly wrong and while she desperately tries to hide the shameful truth, The Mockingbirds, a secret organization of students, are waiting to help her not only uncover it, but seek justice. While not everyone has been sexually assaulted, I think every person can relate to Alex's character. It's all very reminiscent and fortunately, Daisy's message is a powerful one. Being taken advantage of is not okay. With all of the controversy surrounding Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK, it's so important for writers to continue delving into difficult issues and Daisy does this with grace. Her author's note at the end of the novel will truly resonate with readers who have ever been victimized, sought justice and have fought to overcome.

Check out what the other Bookinistas are up to this week:

            Christine Fonseca is also raving about THE MOCKINGBIRDS
            Jamie Harrington is dying over CRESCENDO.
            Michelle Hodkin is loving on some book blogs.
            Kirsten Hubbard is gushing over ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.
            Shannon Messenger is amazed over THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA  
            Carolina Valdez Miller interviews the incredible Daisy Whitney.
            Megan Miranda is blown away by SHIP BREAKER.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Case of the Very Tired Idea Whore

So, we've been working with our kick ass publicist to dream up amazing contests for the Teen Fire Ning leading up to THE LIAR SOCIETY release in March. November was going to be epic. Until we found out that tag lines are a little too important to be subject to a popular vote. Who knew?

Bottom line, we need an epic contest for the Teen Fire site ASAP. We're trying to think of ideas that will make participants feel like they're playing an active role in the publishing process. The winners of our first contest named a couple of our secondary characters and won ARCs and all entrants were sent the first chapter of the book.

This time around we're going to be giving away a huge prize pack of books from some of the uber amazing authors who are blurbing the book and all contest participants will get the first and second chapters of THE LIAR SOCIETY. (Um, get excited about the books we're giving away. Some of them are ARCs that are in VERY high demand.)

So, this Idea Whore is operating on about 4 hours of sleep and a reduced calorie diet that does not leave room for Twizzlers or ice cream (ouch). Help me. Please, for the love of God, HELP ME.

Here's what I've got so far:

Ok, I've got nothing. NOTHING. We could let people vote on two different bio options but that is SO freaking boring.

Have pity on this sleep and sugar deprived new mom, and post some ideas for us, okay?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top 5 Things That Are Always Funny

There are certain things that are pretty much a guaranteed laugh in LiLa Land.
1. Throwing the word "yo" onto the end of a sentence. Example: Just buildin' some street buzz, yo. We dare you not to laugh.

2. When Laura tries to type the phrase, "Eye-yi-yi." The spelling changes every time (Aye-yie-yie, I-yi-yi, Iye-yiy-yiy) and brings to mind the play West Side Story in the best way possible.

3. Mia. Lisa's daughter is unintentionally hilarious. She's constantly running into walls, clicks with her tongue and points when she doesn't know the word for something and regularly falls asleep during preschool music concerts. And, how could we forget the whistling? When Mia's embarrassed she does this cockeyed look and whistles at you. You can't not laugh when you're around her. I swear, we're laughing with her.

4. Awkward middle school pictures.

5. Chugging. Contrary to popular belief chugging is not only the act of drinking something rapidly, it's also a little known 90's dance move taught exclusively at Sharon's School of Dance in Twinsburg, Ohio.

Runners up include: the term "rode hard and put away wet," Sassy Gay Friend YouTube Videos, and this.

What about you guys? What's guaranteed to get a laugh out of you?

Monday, October 25, 2010

If you write YA, you need to watch this...

So, the buffalo roller skating post is on hold until we can obtain some vital photographic evidence...hopefully later this week.

For all the YA writers (and local news aficionados - I'm looking at YOU "The Regulator" Roecker) watch and enjoy...

PS: Don't forget to join us tonight as we chat with Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary. 9 PM EST at the WriteOnCon website. See you there!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cranktastic Friday

It's Friday and we're feeling cranky. The following bullet points about sent us over the edge.

  • According to Yahoo News (my favored news source), Parenthood, one of the best shows ever, is on the bubble. Must. Remove. Favorite. Show. From. Bubble. So, link arms with us and sway back and forth. If we all band together and set our DVRs we can save this show, dammit. I'm getting flashbacks of My So Called Life and we all know how I feel about Jordan Catalano.
  • I'm sure others have spoken out before us, but we just can't take it anymore. What is the deal with celebrities and their eyelashes lately? It's out of control. The Kardashian sisters are by far the worst offenders. They appear to have dead spiders attached to their lash lines. Every time I see them, their lashes get longer and I get the urge to stab them in the eye with a mascara wand.
  • Blogger has been putting bullet points in strange places, refusing to allow me to upload pictures (it sounds like I'm sending morse code when I try) and failing to save changes. It's being a cranky little biatch and I'm over it. Over it, Blogger.
For as long as I've known my husband, he's LOVED Halloween. In 6th grade, he and his friends came to school with nylons over their heads, dressed as burglars. Classy. I guess times have changed because the other day, he came hauling this into our house. More on this later, I'm sure.
  • I'm pretty sure Lisa had her last optimistic bone removed sometime during Ben's birth. She currently gives new meaning to the word cranktastic. Yeah, she's so cranky I'm making up words for her state of mind. I'm totally tempted to lace her Diet Coke with antidepressants, but I'm afraid she'll attack me with a cordless phone from the mid-90's.
We're going to try to rest up this weekend and sleep our moodiness away. We promise to write a much happier post on Monday that may or may not involve buffalo and roller skates. Get excited and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


The second I saw the cover for CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS I knew without a doubt that I had to get my hands on this book. It didn't hurt that Natalie Standiford also wrote HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT, which was unlike anything I'd ever read before (in the best way possible - if you haven't read it yet, you should). I was kind of dying to see what this extremely talented writer would do with a book about spoiled little rich girls who are forced to confess all of their sins to their crazy grandmother to avoid getting disinherited. 

I was not disappointed.

Here's what the back cover has to say:
The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . .and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless. 

Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year's Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it. 

And so the confessions begin.... 

Lila's take:
CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS is a highly entertaining peek into a family with blood so blue it might as well have a nail polish named after it. Some might write this book off as "bitch lit" based on the cover copy, but Standiford's quirky style and unique cast of characters make this novel stand out. Norrie, Jane and Sassy don't fall into any of the typical Gossip Girl-esque rich girl stereotypes and as a result, the Sullivans practically jump off the page. Each sister has a distinct voice and personality, and their grandmother, The Almighty, is fascinating. I'd love to read a book about her exploits as a young debutant. In fact, I think I'd love to read a book devoted to any of the characters introduced in this book. I want more Sullivans, dammit! But don't take my word for it. Check out Jane Sullivan's blog,, to get a taste of Standiford's genius. You can thank me later.

A big thank you to Kelsey who sent us this ARC. You guys have to check out her blog. She reviews all of the best YA books AND she's (ahem) an actual YA. My 16-year-old self is insanely jealous of her. Ok, fine, my 32-year-old self is pretty jealous too.

Here's what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Thin Line Between Funny and Lame

Have you ever thought about the difference one word can make?

We have a line in THE LIAR SOCIETY that reads as follows:

"Liam shook his head back and forth, and Seth looked like he might poop his pants."

Our copyeditor helpfully pointed out that, gramatically speaking, it should read:

"Liam shook his head back and forth, and Seth looked like he might poop in his pants."

But, um, that's not funny. At. All.

Isn't it amazing how one two letter word can transform a sentence from a snarky observation to a Depends commercial?

For the record we ended up accepting almost every single change our copyeditor proposed (we're pretty sure she's some kind of genius), except that one. What can we say? We take the whole pants pooping thing very seriously.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday, random Tuesday

1. Scare Tactics, hosted by Tracy Morgan on the SyFy network is the most messed up show I have ever seen. Just take a second and imagine the following scenario. You're a temp (been there done that). You're working with a reporter. The story involves dead pigs in a barn. When you get to the barn, you're forced to describe said mutilated pig, which looks like a crime scene complete with a strange black circle mark on its back. Then there's a noise across the barn and some person dressed up in the most realistic alien costume I've ever seen darts around a corner. You grab onto the reporter and scream like a little girl until someone asks you repeatedly if you're scared and you scream, "YES" and they say, "Good because you're on Scare Tactics." This is my worst nightmare.

2. I have gotten to the point where every free moment I have (okay, the free moments where I'm not watching Scare Tactics) are spent reading. I listen to books in the car (which apparently qualifies me as a loser), have a book going on my Kindle at the gym and an actual book (usually 2) at home on my nightstand for before bed. I have to finish a book by Thursday, a new one by Sunday, another by next Wednesday and skim a book I've already read for next Thursday. Oh and I should be writing too. And probably sleeping. I might be in a few too many book clubs.

3. Lisa asked me if I could choose any celeb/influential person to read, love and promote our book who would it be and why. I said I'd love a shot of Lauren Conrad reading our book in Us Magazine. Lisa wants Selena Gomez on board. This is a fascinating question and we are adding it to our list of interview questions we always ask stat.

4. Lisa just stumbled across this here blog and we love it. Hard.

5. I spent all of yesterday holding Benny. Nobody can get enough. Lydia practically climbs on top of me when he's in my arms and repeats the same line over and over again. "Look at him, look at him, look at him." She's obsessed. I caught Jack and Lydia almost climbing in his crib where Jack had jammed his finger in Ben's mouth. To defend himself, Jack said, "He just likes to suck my thumb." Ben, I'd like you to meet my friend the Germ. Mia comes sprinting with the paci if Ben makes so much as a whimper and is ready and rearing to jam it in his little mouth. The only person who could take him or leave him is Will. Will is literally about to become a big brother any second and chooses to ignore this fact. Ben is only an annoying reminder.

So that's all she wrote. Got any randoms of your own?

PS: Thank you all so much for your opinions about our friend the DILF. We've managed to come to a compromise that doesn't involve cuddling up with a wet blanket or subscribing to Playboy magazine. DILF stays, but the line now reads...

Before I’d finished gathering my books, the door opened. Mr. Farrow (voted #1 DILF three years running by the fourth year girls), current CEO of Farrow Developers and president of the Pemberly Brown Academy Board made his way in. Now this was getting interesting.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Judgement Day

Okay, so the drama over DILF continues and we need your help. If you haven't been on Twitter, here are the cold, hard facts...

Laura is having some second thoughts about including DILF in the manuscript. Lisa is not. Laura is a wet blanket. Lisa's pushing to scandalize children.

Context: Kate, our MC, is about to have a conversation with Mr. Farrow, hot dad.

Before I’d finished gathering my stuff, the door opened. Mr. Farrow, current CEO of Farrow Developers, president of the Pemberly Brown Academy Board, and total DILF (please don't make me translate that) made his way in. Now this was getting interesting.

So, is Laura overthinking it (as usual)? Or is Lisa gearing up to spread filth? You be the judge...

DILF, yay or nay?
Yay! Hello? It's hilarious. DILF, DILF, DILF, DILF, DILF, D-DILF
Nay! It's crossing the line, yo. What is this porn? free polls

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Lisa!

Growing up, Lisa and I had a very tumultuous relationship. We pretty much fought all the time and when we weren’t fighting, we were ganging up to torture poor Stacey. Good. Times.

If someone would have told me at 12 that I’d one day write a book with my big sister, I would have probably started crying. I was very sensitive. Plus, how could I ever write a book with someone who hit me over the head with a cordless phone? Who hit me so hard the phone broke. Who insisted I help her bury the evidence along the railroad tracks near our home. Who demanded I not crack a smile whenever our mom paged said phone and asked, “How could a phone just disappear?”

But today is Lisa’s birthday. And while there’s no way I can top the OTHER Roeckers' birthday post to her last year, I’m going to try to honor our birthday girl with a little trip down memory lane…

July 12, 1991: I began writing my diary under the pseudonym, “The Kerring” after Lisa read an entry aloud as my crush Brian listened on. If only I had been cunning enough to use the alias all along. #hindsightsabitch

February 22, 1992: Dear Diary, Yesterday was my birthday and Lisa wouldn’t let me borrow her clogs. I borrowed Emily’s leather Keds instead. She’s so mean! Love, The Kerring

September 13, 1993: Poem written in diary after an entry about a particularly nasty fight with Lisa:

Look in my eyes, see who I am
I am not you, I am me

I think different
You always yell, you always scream

Just try to think how I feel
Your screams put a bruise on my heart

I try to talk, but listen you won’t
The words that mean so much
Were never said.
My heart just waited, no more will I wait.

March 5, 1995: I wrote a story called “The Sister” for English class creative writing. It involves a fire and a sister, who *spoiler alert* dies. Teacher’s comment: My God, Laura, is this real? Yep. There was something wrong with me. I still must have been pissed off about those clogs.

But somewhere along the way, “The Kerring” signed her name for the last time, the angry poems petered out and the writing took on a new, slightly less alarming focus. Instead of fighting over the phone or brown, suede clogs, we’re fighting over including the word DILF in our manuscript or laughing till we cry over old pictures with triangle shaped hair, hand-me-down clothes and jacked up teeth.

Happy Birthday, Lisa. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but I’m so thankful to have best friends in both my sisters. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Ok, ok, I'm not officially back, but I'm getting there. I still spend about 75% of my day changing diapers and trying to protect poor Ben from his insanely enthusiastic and extremely clumsy older siblings.

Here's what I've learned so far on my maternity leave:
  • Best shows to watch during late night feedings: Cheaters and Jackass. They're always on at 3 AM and they're just as (if not MORE) entertaining without volume.
  • Baby blues are so last season, I've got baby bitchface: Yeah, so I've been a little crabby lately. This might have something to do with the fact that I'm operating on an average of 4 hours of sleep a night and I'm shoehorning myself into clothes that are at least three sizes too small. It's really hard to smile when the waistband of your yoga pants are cutting off your air supply. Anyway, Laura has been giving me a hard time and quickly responding to any and all e-mails that come in because she claims my negativity isn't productive. I'd argue that while my negativity isn't productive, it's at least entertaining.
  • This picture really makes me want to kill someone. Seriously, if I met Gisele in person at this point in my life I'd like to think I'd be able to snap her in half or if she manages to take me down with her sweet kung fu moves, at least force feed her a cheeseburger.
  • I'm irrationally angry with my husband. No good reason, really. He's just around a lot and it's kind of fun to unleash the brunt of my hormones on him from time to time.  It's my birthday this weekend and I've given him just enough rope to hang himself with. Anyone want to take bets on whether or not he buys me a pair of skinny jeans in a size 2 or a bikini? Based on his gift giving history this might end in divorce.
  • Ben's theme song has revealed itself: Ok, this is totally lame, but all of my kids have a theme song. It's a random song that brings back fond memories of me blasting it in the car in order to drown out their incessant crying. (Feel free to mail in my nomination for Mother of the Year right now) Without further ado, Ben's song*:
  • I'm thisclose to taking the blog back: Yeah, that's right Laura and Lisa Writes is going DOWN. Well, it's totally going down once I figure out how to type on my laptop and feed Ben at the same time. I swear I'm like a week off from getting my technique totally perfected. Watch your back, Laura.
So...that's what I've been up to the past couple of weeks. I miss all of you desperately and I can't wait to get back into the swing of things. Ben is gorgeous and I'm loving every second of my time with him, but I'm excited to get back to my old, compulsive self. Soon enough. 

In the meantime...I've got important business to take care of...

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

*Please note, we only listen to the edited version of this song while driving carpool. No need to call child services. Yet.

PS: Thanks for the interview, Katrina!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bookinistas: HALF UPON A TIME

First things first. Head on over to Twitter and follow @_JamesRiley_. You will not regret it.

Okay, back to business. HALF UPON A TIME made me want to apply for teaching jobs again just so I could read this book aloud to middle schoolers. As I laughed out loud by myself, all I could think about was how much fun it would be to laugh out loud with a room full of eleven-year-olds.

Here's the synopsis:

Life’s no fairy tale for Jack. After all, his father's been missing ever since that incident with the beanstalk and the giant, and his grandfather keeps pushing him to get out and find a princess to rescue. Who'd want to rescue a snobby, entitled princess anyway? Especially one that falls out of the sky wearing a shirt that says "Punk Princess," and still denies she's royalty. In fact, May doesn't even believe in magic. Yeah, what's that about? May does need help though--a huntsman is chasing her, her grandmother has been kidnapped, and Jack thinks it’s all because of the Wicked Queen . . . mostly because May’s grandmother might just be the long-lost Snow White. Jack and May's thrillingly hilarious adventure combines all the classic stories—fractured as a broken magic mirror—into one epic novel for the ages.

Lila's Take:

HALF UPON A TIME has it all--voice (oh my gosh, what voice. Not that we're surprised. Hello? Twitter.), charming fairy tale characters with a twist, hilarity and an adventure-filled plot. Oh, and the end is totally unexpected and sets up the next book in the series seemlessly. It's like the book-version of Shrek (but better, obviously. I mean, come on, it's a book)--there's something for everyone and I can't wait to share it with my daughter one day.

Oh, and most importantly, this book is the perfect reminder that kids are never too old to be read to. Give it a try with HALF UPON A TIME.
And be sure to check out what the other Bookinstas are up to this week:

Elana Johnson is spreading the word about XVI.
Christine Fonseca is celebrating Cinders.
Shannon Messenger is inspired by Selling Hope.
Shelli Johannes-Wells and Myra McEntire can't get enough of The Near Witch cover.
Megan Miranda is excited about Monsters of Men.
Carolina Valdez Miller highlights the hottest November releases 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Get excited...

Our next WriteOnCon live event has been scheduled! Go ahead and get those calendars out...

 Monday, October 25th
at 9 PM EST

Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency, LLC

Sara has worked at the Nelson Literary Agency since 2006. For three years, her main responsibility was to be the first reader for all queries, sample pages and full manuscripts submitted to the agency. In 2009, Sara was promoted to Associate Literary Agent and is actively acquiring new clients. The Nelson Literary Agency specializes in representing young adult and middle grade fiction, romance, science fiction and fantasy, commercial and women’s fiction (including chick lit) and high concept literary fiction. Nelson Literary Agency is a member of AAR, RWA, SFWA and SCBWI. Please visit our website for submission guidelines, and feel free to visit Sara’s Publisher’s Marketplace site to learn more about her personal tastes and recent sales.

I know, amazing, right???

So be sure to join us October 25th at 9 PM with Sara who will be answering all of your most pressing pub questions.

We'll see you there!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Title Angst Continued - Yeah, they're THAT Important

Okay, so it has been fascinating reading your comments about our title woes. What's really interesting is that most of us make the assumption that our title will be changed once we sell the book to a publisher.

And that's definitely true.

But (and this is a big BUT...kind of like the size of my butt right now with 20 extra post-baby pounds) your title STILL needs to rock and here's why.

The first time Laura and I spoke to the amazing Dan Ehrenhaft after he'd acquired THE LIAR SOCIETY (aka THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN) the very first thing he told us was that the title needed to be changed. He said that the title made him think of some historical, gothic, Jane Austen inspired novel.

Yeah, not exactly what we were going for.

Even worse, he almost didn't bother reading the manuscript based on the title alone.


The thing about a good title is that it prepares the reader for your book. Our old title probably turned off a lot of editors because they opened the book expecting one thing and got something completely different. The right title is essentially a mini-marketing plan for your book, allowing agents to start thinking of editors and publishing houses that would be interested in your work or helping editors see how your book will fit into their list and how they'd eventually market the book.

Bad titles usually change once you have a publisher (if people even bother reading), but a good title should force people to pick it up and put them in a position where they can't NOT buy your book, right? Right.

And if nothing else, a title helps us avoid emailing back and forth a book called Document1. And our beta ninja usually appreciates it too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What's in a name?

As you know, Lisa and I began writing a brand spanking new book last week (shhh...), but unfortunately we've already run into our inevitable snafu. We suck, (suck, suck, SUCK) at titles. We've had five million okay, fine three titles for THE LIAR SOCIETY (GMAIL, FINDING GRACE, THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN). Our agent declared most of our titles inadequate and one "wet." Not sure exactly what it means, but context clues lead us to believe it's less than fabulous.

As of now our new book is named "Document1." Creative right? Despite being in the car for over 10 hours this weekend, I'm still coming up lame. I listed out the themes in our work in progress, tried to draw inspiration from music on the radio and even called upon my husband for help. Still nothing.

So tell us, dear readers. How do you title your manuscripts? Beginning, middle, end? What do you use for inspiration? Do you change your title multiple times? Does it drive you crazy until your title is absolutely perfect? Do you know when it is perfect?

Titles are the first clue readers get for what's to come, they're part of the reason people pick up a book and maybe even part of the reason they buy it. So what's your secret?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Five

1. Lisa had her first official drop off at school with all three kids. Apparently it involved a whole lot of lollygagging, screaming and "shiny eyes" (/sh-eye-nee/ ahy-s: adjective, noun, plural 1. When Lisa's son's big, old brown eyes gloss over with unshed tears after internalizing angry words from his mom.) There goes her shot at Mother of the Year.

2. One week shy of giving birth, Lisa and I created a new document and wrote chapter number one. It's a hot mess of like 10 different ideas we've had over the past 6 months. This should be interesting. Just don't tell her husband. I'm not supposed to encourage her.

3. Parenthood is one of my favorite shows. The music is amazing, the story lines are tight and the acting top notch. When I sit down to watch TV, it's the first show I cue up on my DVR. Even before Glee. There, I said it. Now go set record. 

These just in from Lisa via phone:

4. I'm reading CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS and it rocks. Hard. Review coming soon. And can we talk about the cover? There's no way I'd see this at a bookstore and not pick it up. It's like this book was written and marketed for me. Well, a 16-year-old version of me. 
5. I've officially booked my first post-baby outing. I'm going to see The Social Network on Sunday and I could not be more excited. Okay, full disclosure - the friend I'm going with has been known to smuggle wine in water bottles into movie theaters which may or may not be contributing to my excitement levels. Hey, don't judge, it was a LONG 9 months.

Have a fab weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Bookanistas: XVI blog tour and giveaway!

I tried to convince Lisa to fork over Julia Karr's XVI before she went to the hospital, but she refused claiming that she'd need reading material while she was waiting around to pop out a kid. I laughed at her thinking there was no possible way that anyone could read while in labor.

I was wrong.

Lisa finished the whole damn book over the course of her 48 hour hospital stay. I'm not sure if that's a testament to her stubbornness or the amazingness of XVI, but I'm leaning toward the latter. Lisa phoned in her review and said, "It's sort of like a sexed up 1984. I literally could not put it down! I can't wait for this one to be released so we can all talk about it."

Luckily, Julia invited us to be a part of her 16 weeks of XVI blog tour so we get to talk about the book right now. For each of the 16 weeks of the tour, Julia's going to talk about a specific aspect of her book.

Week 16 - Julia's favorite things about Chicago (where the novel is set)
Week 15 - Julia answered 15 questions about vegetarianism (her main character is a vegetarian)
Week 14 - Julia discussed banned books, which feature in her novel

We're lucky week #13 and Julia has graciously answered some of our questions about how protest music of the 1960's contributed to the themes in XVI.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write XVI?
XVI was a NaNoWriMo novel. The whole idea behind NaNo is "no plot/no problem!" Well, a few days prior to the start of NaNo, I had this image pop into my head of a sort of Manga-looking punk rock girl, just trying to make her way through the day in a city full of noise and homeless people. The book grew organically from that vision.

2. Were there any specific "message songs" that inspired the book?
Not really. Although I can certainly look back and see connections with certain songs. "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield is probably one of the most connected.

3. A lot of those songs are from the 60's, do you think there are parallels between 1960's Chicago and the Chicago portrayed in XVI?
I do. In the 1960's, the first Mayor Daley was running the city. A person could feel pretty safe, if they knew how to maneuver through the system. Of course, there were lots of things wrong with that system - but it's the way things were. You learned to live in/with it - or you left. Of course, in XVI, Nina doesn't have the choice of leaving.

4. Chicago has a fantastic music scene, did you have any specific clubs or venues in mind when you wrote the concert scenes in XVI?
Funny you should ask that. Yes. Yes, I did. When I lived in Chicago there was a little all-ages club called Like Young. Definitely the place to be. It was kind of dark with utilitarian tables and just enough room to dance until close. My friends and I practically lived there on the weekends! (And, I still love to dance!)

5. Do you think "message songs" are dead? Are there any current bands or songs that come to mind?
I think message songs will always be around. The arts are a great way to say things with relative impunity. (Although there is that ugly-headed beast known as censorship always lurking around!) Currently - Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, R.E.M., and Tom Waits,  are keeping the "messages" alive. I know there are others - perhaps some commenters will name a few!

6. How do you use music in your writing?
Well, I have to have it QUIET when I write. Otherwise, I just can't concentrate. But, when I know I'm heading for a marathon writing session, I spend some time filling my head with songs I listened to when I was a teenager. Why? Because it puts me back in that time of my life and I can remember exactly how I felt. I think that's one of the amazing things about music, at least for me - I identify certain times and events of my life with certain songs and music groups. As in - I cannot hear Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys without thinking of Oak Street Beach in Chicago. Or, Black is Black by Los Bravos without being taken right to the outside of a little coffee house in the basement of a church just north of Old Town in Chicago. And, Groovin' by the Young Rascals - Lincoln Park on a sunny day. So - although I don't have playlists or listen to music as I write - I couldn't write without music. Heck, I don't think I could live without music!

Here's a list of 13 "Message Songs" from the 1960's. Unfortunately, they are mostly still relevant today!

Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan / Peter, Paul & Mary
Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire
Let's Get Together - The Youngbloods
Fortunate Son - Credence Clearwater Revival
For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield
Abraham, Martin & John - Dion
Imagine - John Lennon
Everyday People - Sly & the Family Stone
Vietnam - Country Joe McDonald & the Fish
Ohio - Crosby, Stills & Nash
I Am Woman - Helen Reddy
One Tin Soldier - Joan Baez
War - Edwin Starr

In order to be eligible to win a CD by one of these amazing artists (winner's choice), be sure to leave a comment. The contest will end next Thursday at midnight! Even if you don't win this week - you'll be eligible (and entered) in the GRAND PRIZE drawing on 1/6/11.

So - comment - and then go out and stand up for something right!

And be sure to check out what the other Bookinistas are up to...

Kirsten Hubbard gives props to Between Shades of Gray 

Shannon Messenger brings us Cover Love and a Teaser for Desires of the Dead 
Elana Johnson is a fan of HER AND ME AND YOU 
Christine Fonseca is enthralled by GIRL, STOLEN 
Shelli Johannes-Wells gives us a Paranormal Preview 
Myra McEntire shares some Trailer Love
Carolina Valdez Miller adores NIGHTSHADE CITY 
Jamie Harrington is awed by ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Michelle Hodkin gives props to LIKE MANDARIN

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WTF Wednesday: The 'How Did I Graduate?' *Edition*

It's been pretty gloomy around these parts and I've been a bit lonely with my boss out on maternity leave. What better time to take a trip down memory lane than on these long, cold days?

If you're a regular reader, you might remember that I dabbled in a little poetry back in the day. Well, you should know, I'm also a force to be reckoned with when it comes to random, completely unacademic research. That's right...I pulled down the old writing files and found another gem. Here are the facts...

1. It's an I-Search paper
2. Written in *gasp* high school (I'm hanging my head in shame)
3. The topic is...wait for it...wait for it...JARED LETO
4. I was stalker-level-wall-covered-with-magazine-cut-outs obsessed with Jared Leto in high school, as you will see...

Okay, so as my classmates were researching normal things like countries where they were born and their hobbies, I was researching a character from my favorite TV show. Reach for the stars, Laura. As much as I'd love to share the entire report (because it is truly riveting), it is six pages of nonsense long. But let me just share a little taste. Here's the hook.

"My heart came to a halt after being mesmerized by his wondrous blue eyes that touched my soul."

BAM. Try not reading on.

And the thesis statement: "I have recorded every episode of the *plagiarism alert* acclaimed but short lived television series "My So Called Life". I recorded it, one, to live everyday in my world with my love, and two for the outstanding entertainment benefits this show brings to its audience. This is what promptly inspired me to research my infatuation: Jared Leto."

Now that's a strong case.

In my "Want to Know" section, I had some pressing questions about Jared. "I want to know what religion Jared practices, and if he is active. Not that this point makes much of a difference, but it would help to break the mystery of his thoughts if I could touch upon what he was thinking." Teacher marked this one as "awkward." In fact, this is the only word she uses throughout the paper. I think she was trying to tell me something.

Here's where it gets interesting. Apparently my Details magazine featuring Jared Leto could only take me so far. I needed to dig deeper, to locate a living breathing source. Enter Lori, 24, a student at Slippery Rock University. I remember finding Lori through an AOL profile search. Jackpot. Lori is a wealth of knowledge on all things Jared. "I asked Lori if she believed the rumor about a new CD being released by Jared was true. '"I think Jared loves to play, but I think if he did decide to do it full time it wouldn't be for a while. To tell you the truth, he is way too eccentric to make it in Hollywood. He'll crack under the pressure..."'

Lori's got to be eating her words right now.

After covering all my bases, I presented readers with a killer conclusion. "Writing about something or someone I love comes very easily to me, every new piece of information makes my heart skip a beat. I absolutely love discovering new things, especially when I discover them myself. This paper has defeated every goal I attempted and wanted to defeat."

Wise words by high school Laura.

*Addition Thanks to my new editor, the Regulator. That misspelling on purpose.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

1. I might have deleted our entire inbox. Twice. That's the last time Lisa asks me to do a mail merge.

2. We made dinner for Lisa's fam as an excuse to see Ben last night. The entire drive over, we discussed the importance of not overstaying our welcome and definitely not eating the food we specifically made for them. Even if they insisted (which I knew Lisa would) we would stand our ground and leave before dinner so they would have leftovers. We stayed (of course), Lydia and I ate (of course) and John lectured me the entire ride home.

3. Scheduling blog posts without Lisa's edits gives me an ulcer.

4. Sending emails without Lisa reviewing makes it double in size.

[Editorial note from Laura: I've opted not to correct the typos in Lisa's truths added via her DroidX. Somehow they're funnier this way.]

5. i was desperate for Laura to stya for dinner last night. Theres only so much you can discuscs baby poop without breaking down and begging for your macbook.

6. i'm scared of turning into a mommy blogger. theres about 10 times every day i loko at ben and want to tweet a picturoe of him. sad, but true.

7. i might have started writing in a notebook. just to keept he wheels greased.

8. imiss oyu guys. desperately. maternity leave is for suckers. or people who enjoy discussing baby poop.

9. it's taking every ounce of my willpower not to add a picture of ben to this post.

10. i'm kind of crushedthat lone star was cancelled. that guy was really hot.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thank You

Three years ago if somebody would have asked us if we ever thought we'd make an actual friend on the Internet, we would have said no. We also might have referenced Date Line's "To Catch a Predator" and suggested that online friendships are creepy. We were still scarred from our AOL days when Stacey was caught instant messaging with some sketchy old dude.

But that was before we were welcomed into this incredibly supportive and loving community of writers. Not only have we met amazing beta readers, congratulated friends on snagging an agent, selling a book, starting a new project or completing an old one, but we've made real, live friends. Friends who know more about us than most of the ones we've grown up with.

Thank you so much for all of your well-wishes on Friday. We feel so lucky to have met such wonderful people and hope we can thank you to your face one of these days.

P.S.: We also feel confident that you guys might dissuade us from hitting up a club heading to a book signing dressed in this number.

And for that we are eternally grateful.

Editorial note from Lisa - Am still not allwoed to touch my Mac. Been hidden by evil husband. BUT i have figured ot how to add to posts via my fancy phone. MWA HAHA. Er, probably shouldnt laugh that loud considering this is most likely riddled withy typos. Just want to thank all of you for your comments last week. Ben and I are doing great and we're completely blown away by your well wishes. And holy crap, Laura is totally showing me up, right? It's pure evil. I never should have allowed it. I'll be back. As soon as I cna figure out where my husband hid my damn laptop. XOXO

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's a Boy!

Benjamin Michael was born September 30th at 7:22 AM and weighs 8 pounds 7 ounces!
Dear Ben,

I wanted to write this letter to you while I still had the chance. Soon, your mom will be back full-force and I won't have any control over the blog again. Who knows, she might even try to change the password on me after my blog title adjustment stunt. And, I wouldn't be surprised if she edited this post. Her new phone does all sorts of fancy stuff.

First of all, welcome to the family. I've already informed your mom that I'm going to call you "Benny" because I think that is just the cutest nickname and I once heard your mom call Lydia "Lid" (not cute). After holding you for five minutes, your Auntie Stacey and I declared you to be the best baby ever. You made all of these little purring noises and even smiled a couple times. Keep up the good work.

I might as well tell you now because you'll find out soon enough, but you're expected to be laid back. As the third child, it is imperative that you go with the flow. I know, I know, it doesn't seem fair. But your older brother and sister are in school, so there's going to be a lot of running around. Plus, your mom is a writer, which means you'll have to do some of your eating and sleeping at Starbucks. If you need a few tips, just ask fellow third child, Auntie Stacey--she has laid back down to a science.

Finally, Benny (it works, right?), take your time. Don't go all growing up quickly or anything. You were pretty active in utero, making your mom's belly move in all sorts of crazy ways, but now that you're here you have my permission to slow down. Enjoy your time as a baby because soon your mom and dad are going to be saying things like, "Ben, that's 1 and 2...if I get to 3..." and "Clean up, clean up everybody everywhere..." Go ahead and get your nights figured out, take all sorts of long naps, gurgle and be happy.

Welcome to the world!

Auntie Laura

PS: Oh, and I hope you don't mind the spotlight. I'm sure there will be many Ben-inspired blog posts of the future...

Don't call this a comeback

So it’s been a minute. Or 10. Or truthfully more like 2,102,400. At least we think that’s how many minutes there are in 3 years, but let...