Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wings and Whitney

How lucky am I to get the Halloween day post? It's only the best teen holiday of the year. At least it was back in the day. Halloween dances. those embarassing moments when you're dressed as a witch to scare trick-o-treaters and your high school friends randomly stop by. Yeah. Loved that. :)

I don't know if I'll actually dress up tonight, because I was decked out on Saturday. And my sister and I were determined not to do any of the "sexy" costumes that every other girl downtown had on. You know, sexy witch, sexy nurse, sexy schoolgirl. Use some imagination, people. It'd be much cooler to be rockin' a stegosaurus getup and look hot.

Anyway, with a little help from my sis, my fairy princess costume came together in fine style. I had the flashy strapless dress, the tiara, the wand, and the wings. Yeah, the wings -- not so great at a house party in case you're keeping track. I only bonked two million people on my way to the refreshments.

My sister dressed as Whitney Houston, complete with a grammy around her neck and songs belted out at top volume. She was a huge hit and somehow, while a bit washed-up still managed to look hot. See point above.

Another highlight of the party was a raunchy ghost, who was doing a grinding dance against my friend Alice in Wonderland. Um, ick, random ghost? Who are you? She insisted she could tell he was cute, but I was like, "Dude was wearing a sheet. There's got to be something to that..."

Anyway, I guess my point on this Halloween is that dressing up is fun. It still is. I mean, when else does a random ghost stand a chance with Alice in Wonderland? And when else do you get to go to breakfast the next day with sparkles still decorating your face? Halloween rocks.

And no... to protect the innocent, there are no pictures to post...

Heather Davis is the author of Never Cry Werewolf, HarperCollins 2008

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ethnic Women's Lit Author seeks Mentor...

I've only recently begun to understand the importance of having a mentor. My mentors at Microsoft are people I can turn to when I'm facing a work crisis and need someone to bounce ideas off of, learn from their experience, or when I just need someone to listen and tell me I'm doing the right/wrong thing. My mentors at work advise me on my technical skills, career-planning, and handling day-to-day work.

I'm starting to think I need a mentor for my writing as well. Someone to talk to about my relationship with my writing agency, writing young adult vs. adult, following the market, etc. This person would have to be someone who likes my work and thinks I have what it takes to "make it." This is the person I would thank on the top line of my acknowledgements for all their help and support.

I know a lot of people in the writing world have mentors. They are people writers talk to everyday or even once a month. They are people writers go to when they need honest, open feedback about the writing life. This field can be so lonely sometimes. I'm so lucky to have my wonderful crit partners and the Buzz Girls on my side, but I think it's time I looked to pursue a formal mentorship relationship.

I'm 4 years old in the industry with 4 books under my belt. What I'm looking for is someone with maybe 5+ years experience who is or is not published, but someone who is passionate about literature.

So what about you guys? How many of feel that you have what it takes to mentor a fledgling writer? How many of you feel that you could still use a mentor? What would you look for out of this relationship?

Dona Sarkar-Mishra
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Chapters & Chai - Read all about it

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Call Me Nutmeg Cabot

I’ve known for a while that an author photo shoot was in my future. Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress is being released on February 13, and I need a professional head shot for appearance promotions and interviews--and who knows what else?

But I kept putting it off, hoping I’d wake up one morning looking like Keira Knightley. Finally, I got real and started making appointments.

First up was a trip to my hair stylist friend, who streaked, cut and blow dried my hair. When she was done, she examined her work and said, “I think I’d call your color ‘nutmeg’.”

“Nutmeg,” I repeated. “Perfect for my pictures. Call me Nutmeg Cabot.”

She, and others around her, stared at me blankly. (Okay, lesson learned: hold the YA jokes for the YA audience.)

Next I went to my Mary Kay friend who did amazing things with foundation and smoky blue eye shadow. Then I grabbed the clothes my daughter had decreed somewhat cool and author-like. And finally I met my photographer friend in a park, where she posed me by trees and rocks, and was very patient with my incessant blinking and the fact I don’t know my left from my right.
With such a power team behind me, I suddenly believed I could do this (!) and started having fun. And lo and behold, when the photos came back, there were actually two I liked!

So here they are. Would you guys tell me which you’d think makes a good Author Tina impression? And maybe why? For simplicity, you can vote “pink” (for the fuschia/raspberry jacket) or “green” (for the teal/aquarmarine overshirt).

Much appreciated!

Top Ten Uses for An Unworn Prom Dress, Feb. 2007
How to Hook a Hottie, Spring 2008

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Triple header Saturday...

Happy October 28th! Not only is fall in full swing, Halloween around the corner and Daylight Savings “Fall Back” happens tonight, but it’s a big day for me. Three great things today:

First of all, since we’ve been talking about best friends this week, I’m happy to say that today is my wedding anniversary! Seventeen years...wow, can you believe it? We’re not actually celebrating today, though. Instead, we’re putting off the celebration until November 2nd when we leave for a week-long trip to Europe. We’re doing a cruise of the Mediterranean, seeing Barcelona, Marseilles, Nice/Cannes, Florence, Rome and Naples. Can’t wait! (So, if there’s no blogging for a couple of Saturdays, that’s where I am.)

Secondly, today is also my dear old dad’s 80th birthday! (Here we are at my cousin’s wedding last month.) Dad’s a navy veteran who fought in WWII and Korea and is now happily retired watching his war movie DVDs and reading the latest James Mitchner.

Finally, today is homecoming at my alma mater – The University of Alabama. (Can a girlfriend get a hearty Roooooooooolllllllllllll Tide Roll?)

Since my sorority sister series is set on a college campus, I’ve been deep into memories of my college days in Tuscaloosa. The quad. Denny Chimes. Bryant-Denny stadium. Bama is known primarily for its football program and this time of year is the absolute best on my campus. Fans, alums and students gather every Saturday to watch the Crimson Tide take on their opponent. There are parties and cookouts on the quad, a pep rally in front of the library and a parade through town. It’s not just a football game; it’s a religion. People take their Crimson Tide football seriously.

If you don’t believe me, let’s flash back seventeen years to Alexandria, Virginia. My wedding day. It’s about half an hour before I’m supposed to be dressed and at the church, but there’s one little problem. Alabama is playing Penn State on television and the Tide is barely ahead. They wouldn’t dare ruin my wedding day, would they? Penn State is driving and threatening our 17-16 lead. I’m in my slip with curlers in my hair. Two of my bridesmaids were still in school at Bama and looked the same as me. We gathered in front of the television, holding hands, praying, hoping. The two teams lined up and...oh, just watch it for yourself!

Yes! Thomas Rayam saved my wedding day and my dad’s birthday. As Dad walked me down the aisle half an hour later, he turned to me and said, “Roll Tide” and I responded with “Did you like your birthday present?” Now that’s a great dad, wedding day and university memory all wrapped up in one.

Do you have a memory that couples together several things you love? Please share!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Keep your friends close & your enemies closer or should it be the other way around?

Crush of the week: Barry Watson, star of What about Brian?

How hot is this guy? Are you guys watching this show? It started mid-season last season and I got hooked. I was scared it was going to get the ax, but it seems stronger than ever now. It deals with several themes: infidelity, infertility, but mostly deception amongst close friends. Here's a recap if you aren't watching.
Brian (played by hottie on the right) falls in love with Marjorie, who just so happens to be engaged to Brian's b/f/f/Adam (hottie from Legally Blonde, can't remember his name to lazy to google). Brian and Marjorie kissed last season and got emotionally tangled up in each other. Brian took off and Adam and Marjorie planned the wedding of the century. Brian showed up right before the wedding, made out with Marjorie again, and she ended up leaving Adam at the altar.
If any of you have read Emily Giffin's delicious novel, Something Borrowed, it's basically the same concept. Girl sleeps with her best friend's fiancee, etc.
Deception is so painful, but everyone loves to read and watch it. My worst betrayal happened when I was in high school. A girl I had been b/f/f's with since kindergarten slept with my boyfriend when I was in Hawaii on vacation with my parents. I didn't find out for almost a year. In between that time she had come to a surprise birthday party for me and sat by me in Economics and joked the entire year. When I found out, I was convinced she was the devil. Unfortunately, it took me a while to figure out it was really him that was the devil.
As I got older I realized that sometimes people get themselves into situations beyond their control. Sometimes I still have to remind myself that it isn't all about me. Two people could commit the ultimate betrayal and honestly not give the third party a thought until it was too late. I could never have understood that at 17 though. I was convinced the act was done purely out of spite, not lust.
What constitutes a betrayal anyway? Is it a betrayal if you see a friend's wife out with someone else and don't tell him? What if your best friends husband hits on you and you don't tell her? Even though you haven't done anything to intentionally hurt your friend are you still betraying them by keeping quiet? What's the worst betrayal you ever suffered?
So much for the light and fluffy posts this week, huh?
All that matters is what's inside...as long as your outside is wearing the tiara.REVENGE OF THE HOMECOMING QUEEN, coming from Berkley Jam in July 2007

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hump Day Hottie #7

Welcome to the most controversial edition of HDH yet! Not because the hottie in question is a controversial person who fills the tabloids or makes a political stand, but because his status as a hottie is frequently called into question.

Example: I told a good friend whom I was planning on posting this week. Her response, "Oh, no! Please reconsider." And appointed herself a mission to find a suitable replacement.

I've encountered that kind of reaction many times in the past. There are those who see him and think, "Oh yeah, I want him to shove me out of the way of a moving train... and then stop the train his with phenomenally built bod. And then we'll get to my other plans for that bod." But there are others, just as numerous I believe, who think, "Ew! He is just too ugly to love." I clearly fall under the first category.

What do I love about this guy? Well... He had a very interesting upbringing, being raised in an artist's housing project in Greenwich Village. He started acted at the age of seven and travelled through the New York acting ranks of repertory theatres and off-off-broadway shows. He was a bouncer! (And I picture him as the type who could get the creepy guy off your back in half a second and who'd volunteer to escort you safely to your car... mmmm.) He wrote, directed, and filmed his own short film--at a cost of $3000--which eventually showed at the Cannes Film Festival. This film caught the attention of Steven Spielberg, who cast him as the heroic Italian-American soldier, Private Adrian Caparzo, in Saving Private Ryan. He has been playing kick-butt heroes--and tormented heroes in bad boy costume--ever since.

Why do I love him so when others don't? Is it just his face that sparks the controversy--though I personally find nothing wrong with his face. We've talked about this before, on Buzz Blog, the idea of liking a guy for something more than appearance. Is that what this is? Are some women drawn to something deeper than his surface while other can't get past it? Or is there another reason why half the female population adores him and the rest are repulsed by him?

Thankfully for me, his returns at the box office don't seem to be affected by this controversy. As long as he keeps making action movies I'll go see them.

So, the Hottie Question of the Week is... Vin Diesel: Yay or nay?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


It's not easy to sparkle, especially in Seattle... in the fall. Everything here is brown and mucky already -- even after just two days of rain.

Which is why I broke out my sparkle-enhanced tennis shoes (otherwise known as sneakers to you East Coast folks.) They are black Steve Maddens with these fab sparkle stripes running up the sides and are looking fabulous with a pair of Levi's as I walk the streets of the Emerald Ctiy.

They didn't make shoes like this when I was in high school. No, back then, I don't think I'd have even been caught dead in a pair of athletic shoes. I wasn't exactly a jockette. Think Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice and you can pretty much imagine me and my friends. Except that I was one person who didn't wear just all black.

In fact, one lovely person on the fringes of my group used to call me Rainbow Brite. Yeah, before R.B. was all retro and cool and stuff! But I didn't care. I kept wearing what I wanted to wear because I was born to sparkle. In fact, I'm wearing sparkle eye shadow as I type this blog post. Take that non-sparkleys!

So, what do you wear that sets you apart? Do you dare sparkle on the autumn streets of your town?

Heather Davis
Never Cry Werewolf HarperCollins 2008

Monday, October 23, 2006

An Ethnic Interruption

Saturday October 21st was the Hindu festival of Diwali. My family's not very religious, so we usually don't celebrate this but I got a chance to celebrate with my Hindu friends in Seattle this year. Diwali is known as the "Festival of Lights," and this holiday symbolises the victory of good over evil. Lamps and candles are lit as a sign of celebration and hope for mankind.

Diwali is celebrated for five consecutive days and usually occurs in October/November, and is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festivals in India. On Diwali day, people take a holiday, wear new clothes, eat sweets together and some states in India start a new year.

This year, I got dressed up in a gorgeous navy kurta (long tunic over loose pants) and went over to my friends' home where they had lit lamps and candles and had made Indian sweets. We did a small prayer to Laxmi, the goddess of money, for a year of prosperity (wishing for a book deal weighed heavily on my mind:). Then we had dinner followed by sweets and generally hung out for a few hours, gossiping and laughing.

It was really nice. A chance to start over in the middle of the year, make a few new resolutions. This was just the thing to completely pull me out of my writing/work slump and let me have a new beginning.

Are there any unusual or regional holidays you guys celebrate?

Dona Sarkar-Mishra
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Chapters & Chai - Read all about it

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Trekking through Connecticut...

Ahhh...New England...the chilly air, the leaves changing color, fall is in the air...and... time for a Spa-Getaway-Weekend for the girls!

My critique partner, Diana Peterfreund (left), and I said way back when that if (when) we sold our books, we were going to take off for a girl's weekend -- which we did this weekend.

We picked Stamford, CT (with me driving down from Boston and her driving up from DC) as our locale to coincide with a speaking engagement with the CoLoNY RWA chapter. Our talk was entitled: Networking 101: Getting Past "Hello...My Name Is..."

Check out the awesome poster the Harry Bennett Library made to promote our speaking engagement.

We had a great turnout, fun crowd and the chapter gave us these lovely, custom-made paper weights.

While in town, we spoiled ourselves at the Agora Spa in downtown Stamford. On Friday, we each had 80-minute massages (ahhhhh...) They had scented candles, lavendar water for deep breathing, the Relaxation channel from Sirius Radio and an hour and a half of attention to all of those knotted muscles in the neck, shoulders and hands from hours of typing. (Funny, both Diana and I had "tenseness" in our neck, shoulders and hands...couldn't be from all that writing, now could it be?)

Today, Diana endulged in the foot treatment with pedicure while I got the sea tonic body wrap. Let me tell you...every girl should splurge and enjoy such a weekend of pampering. Not only was it great to hang out with my friend, but we both got a lot of work done on our revisions, we spoke to a great group of people, hit a Borders so Diana could sign stock of her debut book, Secret Society Girl, and had a fantastic dinner at g/r/a/n/d of monkfish, beef tenderloin and amazing wines and sides (check out the truffel and gruyere mac 'n cheese).

Such a wonderful weekend!

So, what do you do to treat yourself?

Marley = )

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Jack...or Sawyer?

At 2005 National Romance Writers of America conference, my roommate, Cindy Munoz, turned me onto the TV show, “Lost”. Out-of-context, the plot was confusing, but the, uh...scenery...was enough to pique my interest.

I went on to watch the entire first year on DVD. And now I have also finished with season two. And oh, baby, I may never be the same...

For me, it’s more than an TV show, an adventure, a mystery, a paranormal fantasy. Or maybe I should say it is less. It is a single, burning question: Jack...or Sawyer? (Okay, Sayid fans...I agree he and some of the other guys are hot, too, but for the sake of argument, let’s stick with my main men.)

Jack: The doctor. Strapping. Strong, emotionally and physically. The island’s natural leader.

Sawyer: The cowboy. Total eye candy, from the stalwart chin to the six pack abs. Wounded, sarcastic, playful, bad boy.

How could Kate--the object of their mutual affection--even begin to choose? Does she make a list of their high points? (Including: Jack has access to the antibiotics in case I get a bladder infection; Sawyer’s got the guns.) A list of their lows? (Like: When we finally get off this island, Jack’s bound to return his obsessive career; Sawyer’s never earned an honest dollar in his life.) Or does she simply go whichever way the winds of her heart blow?

Okay, so my answer? It’s kind of cheating. I want both. Sawyer on the island (and yes, Steph Hale, I AM willing to fight you for him), and when we get saved, I’m switching to Team Jack. Because hey, it’s fantasy, so I can have what I want.

How about you? Is it Jack? Sawyer? (Or one of the others?) ‘Fess up!

And those of you who have never seen “Lost”? Enjoy the scenery, courtesy of the Buzz Girls!

Top Ten Uses for An Unworn Prom Dress, Feb. 2007
How to Hook a Hottie, Spring 2008

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Got Game?

Crush of the week: Board Games

I'm convinced that there are only two types of people in the world. Those who play board games and those who don't. By my crush you know where I fall. Some of my fondest memories growing up are the hours I spent playing Operation, Monopoly, Life, and countless others. I wonder if the tweens & teens of today are still doing this or are they missing out by spending time online/with video games/Tivo'ing their 300 channels of reality tv(not that I would ever knock TIVO). I really hope not because I think playing bg's are good for instilling a healthy dose of competition, a huge sense of accomplishment when one is the victor, and even the disappointment of losing eases children into the reality that we don't always win em all in life.

I feel that my love of board games is even weaved through my writing. When I was eight I loved spending endless hours in my b/f/f Debbie's family room. Mostly I loved going to her house b/c her parents bought pop and mine didn't so I would get totally loaded on sugar & caffeine. But they also had a huge array of board games where my family just didn't really get into them. We would curl up on the horrible, but very cool at the time, shag carpeting and pull out "the game of all games", my personal favorite, Clue.

This isn't the box for the 1972 edition that we played, but you get the idea. I had a hard time finding good pictures. Anyway, I could play the game for hours or at least until Debbie got bored and wanted to jam out to a Go-Go's record. I fancied myself a young Miss Scarlet. I'm not sure why b/c I'm not dark-haired, or sophisticated. I just saw her sucking on that long cigarette holder thing (not that my asthmatic ridden lungs would ever tolerate a cancer stick) and I wanted to be her.

I couldn't ever be persuaded that anyone other than the evil looking Colonel Mustard was responsible. I just knew the "old decrepit grandpa" look was a cover-up for a murderer! His choice of weapon? Always the candlestick. The room? Duh, the library! I loved marking down my guesses on the little brown notepad and pulling the cards out of the tiny confidential envelope for the reveal.

I'm still a sucker for a good mystery. That's why I try to incorporate at least a little mystery into all of my writing. If I get stuck in a scene I try to make a mental confidential file with all the clues inside. I try to think of what weapon (action) the suspect (my character) would use to and how they would use it (the room) to produce the desired situation (committed the crime). Does that make any sense? I'm a little tired tonight. For example, let's say that the dasterdly Colonel Mustard committed the crime using the candlestick in the library. So if my main character, let's call her Debbie just in case my bff tuned in to read this post, so Debbie(my main character/suspect), wants to piss her boyfriend off (the crime). How would she accomplish this? She could make out(action/weapon) with his bff(the room). Her boyfriends bff goes back and tells him and Debbie's bf is totally PO'd (Debbie's desired situation). Clear as mud? Anyway, it helps me when I get stuck.

So what was your favorite game? What helps you when you get stuck?
If anyone has the 1972 version of Clue in their rummage sale pile somewhere you can send it to me and I'll love you forever! :)

Happy Friday!

All that matters is what's inside...as long as your outside is wearing the tiara.REVENGE OF THE HOMECOMING QUEEN, coming from Berkley Jam in July 2007

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hump Day Hottie #6

There is a special place in my heart for Paul Walker. Not only because of his beautiful blonde hair and his brilliant blue eyes. Not because he was such a great bad guy in She's All That or because he was such a kick-a$$ good guy in The Fast and the Furious. Not because he's a fellow Virgo. (But really, all that helps.)

No, I love Paul Walker because he started my writing career. Okay, let me explain. Back in January 2003 I was living at home, working for my parents, and pretty much trying to figure out what to do with my life. I had been trying off and on to write a book so I could get published. (So I could get rich and move out of my parents' house!) I even had a plan.

First, I would start small by entering the 100-words-or-less on how your mother influenced the romance in your life Mother's Day contest from Harlequin. The grand prize was a trip for two to Puerto Rico... and I WON!

Second, I would enter the eHarlequin Writing Round Robin contest which consisted of writing a chapter of approximately 1,000 words for a continuing story... and I WON!

Next, I would submit a short story to a small press that published anthologies of holiday-themed stories of 5,000-7,000 words. I submitted one set on Father's Day... and I didn't win because the house shut down. =(

Finally, I figured, after working my way up from 100 to 1,000, to 7,000 words, I was ready to write an actual, full-length category (read: shorter) book. So, I set out to write CLUB SCENE -- the story of Destiny Kane, a nightclub promoter in South Beach who was running from her past and Vance James, a private investigator hot on her tail. (It sounds much better in this one-sentence distilled version than it ever did on paper.) In my head and in the photo pinned up over my computer, Vance James was Paul Walker.

Though I never finished that book (my attention drifted, with the discovery of Julia Quinn, to historicals and I wrote the story that became my Golden Heart finalist) I still feel like Paul Walker is my first and forever hero. =)

With today's eye candy, consider the question: Do you put "real-life" guys into your hero's shoes, picturing a movie star/model/athelete/musician in his role? (This goes for writers and readers!)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Simone's Book Arrives!

Yesterday it was such a thrill to pick up a copy of our own Buzz Girl Simone Elkeles's book How to Ruin a Summer Vacation at the downtown Seattle Barnes and Noble. I'd seen the ARC in Atlanta at the Romance Writers' Conference, but holding the real thing in my hot little hands and ponying up the cash to purchase it was amazing.

I met Simone last year in Reno at the RWA conference. We'd both finalled in the Chick Lit Chapter's Stiletto contest in the YA category (she won!) and had started emailing back and forth. It was lovely to find someone on the rise in YA who wanted to share the experience with me. This summer, we decided (along with the fabulous Dona Sarkar-Mishra) to blog and the Buzz Girls were born.

So now, imagine how awesome it is for me now to have Simone's book on my night table? It makes me dream about the day my own book will be out there in the universe. It will be a while, but the butterflies are already starting.

Anyway, I can't wait to crack open the first official release of the Buzz Girls and start reading! Yay, Simone! http://simoneelkeles.com

In the months to come, the Buzz Girls will have many more releases to celebrate! This is going to be so fun.

Buzz Girls Rock!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Life After the Fall

I'm sure we all recall last year Kaavya Visvanathan's Opal Mehta disaster. For those of you who need a recap: Harvard sophomore gets 500K book deal to write YA novel, she copies ideas, plot lines, and exact phrases from big name books such as Sloppy Seconds and The Princess Diaries. Girl gets busted, girl blames pressure from Alloy Entertainment and a photographic memory, her book gets torn off shelves, girl disappears.

Since that disaster, Kaavya has done an internship over the summer, and is now back at Harvard.

The question is, if you were in Kaavya's shoes what would you do next?
a. Jump into a profession completely unrelated to writing
b. Write a tell-all book about that period in your life
c. Write a completely original second novel
d. Seek a job in publishing.

I personally write in the same genre as Kaavya, ethnic YA, and was super-jealous when she got her book deal. There goes that genre, I thought, who can do it better than the genius sophomore.
Then she gets busted. Was I secretly smug? Yes, of course. Any human being would be. Was I terrified that maybe that genre was now a curse? That any author trying to get in was screwed? Yes, of course.

Am I giving up? Not a chance. Writing is my great love and this genre comes naturally to me. I ain't going anywhere, plagarism scandal be dammed.

So now I wonder about Kaavya. Will she ever be allowed into this industry again? Will she ever be anything but that girl who copied Meg Cabot?

What do you guys think?

Dona Sarkar-Mishra
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Chapters & Chai - Read all about it

Sunday, October 15, 2006

What's Cooking?

At my house? Not much.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to eat. All you have to do is glance at my waistline for confirmation. (Special thanks to Meg Cabot for her book title, SIZE 12 IS NOT FAT.)

What I don’t love is cooking. Somewhere between finding the recipe, bringing home the groceries and taking out the pan, I lose all interest. I suddenly want to check my e-mails. Re-read the last scene I wrote. See if there’s any new comments on the Buzz blog. Pick up the book I’m reading...

Yet I also don’t want to raise my kids solely on Cup ‘O Noodle and Happy Meals, so for years I’ve managed “compromise meals”, recipes that don’t bog me down too much, but keep up nutrition standards.

This makes me an oddity in my community. The vast majority of my friends enjoy cooking. But interestingly, during a discussion on one of my writer’s loops, I found out I am quite normal--for a writer. It turns out many of us creative types share this guilty secret, and live by our easiest recipes.

So okay, for what it is worth? Here is my best no-brainer recipe, given to me by a terrific cook, I might add:

Throw a 7-bone roast in a slow cooker on low in the late morning. Sprinkle with onion salt. By early evening, it should be soft and shredded. Serve inside warmed-up flour tortillas and let your family/guests top with shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, chopped lettuce and tomatoes, guacamole, black olives and or whatever works for you.

And then sit back and take the praise. Because it’s good. And come on, you’ve cooked ALL DAY (while doing line edits, e-mailing with your critique partner, browsing MySpace, drafting up your new idea, etc., etc.).

So I offer this to one and all: if you’re like me and like to eat WAY more than to cook, what tricks or recipes do you use to ease the burden? Or if you happen to be an enthusiastic cook, please share your thoughts to help those of us cooking-interest-impaired writers keep our families fed--and our characters thriving.


Top Ten Uses for An Unworn Prom Dress, Feb. 2007
How to Hook a Hottie, Spring 2008

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Still crazy for you...

I loved Tera Lynn’s post this week about her crushes and it got me thinking. Now, I’m probably the oldest of the bunch, so my crush progression may cause some of our younger readers to lift and eyebrow and go ¿Quién? If you don’t know who anyone is, IMDb’em and you’ll be in the know.

My very first crush was Donny Osmond. Yes, those of you who read this blog already know this because I named my teddy bear after him. I never missed The Donny and Marie Show and I was definitely a little bit rock ‘n roll. (For those of you old enough...I know you’re singing the song now.) Following Donny, I fell hard for Shaun Cassidy, aka Joe Hardy of The Hardy Boys. Man, Shaun had me with those eyes and “Da Do Run Run.”

I then went into a musical swoon that started with Andy Gibb and translated to the Solid Gold dancer, Tony Fields.

Throughout the years, I dabbled with The Outsiders (C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze) more of the brat pack (Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson) and I just loved Christopher Reeve (Hello...Somewhere in Time!), Eric Estrada and many, many NFL players.

Then, in 1981 on a summer day, my life changed. I was watching MTV (a very new thing) and suddenly there was this amazingly gorgeous man with dark hair and hazel eyes singing desperately about how he wished that he had Jessie’s Girl. (Check out the video if you've never seen it.)


Hello Rick Springfield. Ohhh...and wait, he’s on a soap opera? He’s Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital? Goodbye watching Guiding Light and hello ABC. He had me from that first note and he still holds a major part of my heart today. My room was wall-papered with pictures of him from Tiger Beat and Teen Beat (are those still around?) and I got to see him in concert in 1983 and let me tell you what...a religious experience. I was first in line in 1985 to see his movie, Hard to Hold, and I was devastated when Dr. Drake left General Hospital.

But, I’ve followed Rick’s career ever since. He’s done a lot of made for TV movies, he’s had a couple of series of his own (Human Target, Nick Knight, High Tide) and he continues to produce albums (of which I have all of them) and tour. Three years ago, I saw him in concert (sorry the pic is blurry). Sat on the third row and screamed like I was still fifteen years old. And check him out, he’s held up pretty darn well to be in his fifties. (Oh, and he’s back from time to time now on General Hospital as Dr. Drake.)

I think my pattern is dark hair and light eyes. That just does it for me. And, I notice that most of my hunky heros I write are also of the same physical build. I guess that’s just how I’m wired.

So...who are you still crazy for and will be until your dying day? (Love you, Rick! -- don't worry, my hubby understands.)


Friday, October 13, 2006

Girl Friday knows there is lots of scrolling involved in this post..but you weren't working anyway!

Crush of the week: A nifty little website called Myheritage.com
Sometimes I just don't like to work, even though I know I should. Sometimes I just can't help myself from screwing around online and this website is starting to be one of my all time favs. I hope you enjoy!
Who does Darling Dona resemble?Dona also had Shirley Temple, Grace Kelly, and Lucille Ball on her list. And I'm pretty sure that's Alicia Keys in the last pic not Alicia Silverstone!
Here's me!
How about TLC?You also had Angela Lansbury on your list!
Hottie Heather?You also had Melissa Joan Heart and Jamie Lynn Spears!
Sassy Simone?
Tina Fabulous?
Marley-Queen of virtue?
Wasn't that fun? So what do you do when you should be working?
All that matters is what's inside...as long as your outside in wearing the tiara!REVENGE OF THE HOMECOMING QUEEN, coming from Berkley Jam in July 2007

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hump Day Hottie #5

Okay, I have a confession to make... I have an embarassing weakness for guys with dark, curly hair. The kind you can imagine (or actually) run your fingers through, giving it that messed-up-but-oh-so-sexy look. Mmmm mmmm good.

Today, in honor of my Achilles heel, I'm doing an Ode To Dark Curly Hair, highlighting some of my faves--and maybe finding out where this crazy weakness comes from.

I blame Joshua Byers. No, he's not anyone you would know--he was my first grade crush. Yes, I had a crush in first grade (see, the boy-craziness started early). We used to play kissing tag on the playground and my BFF and I wrote I Josh on little squares of construction paper during math class. (In a side note, a few years ago I reconnected with him... and found out that he didn't remmeber me at all! Typical.) Anyway, he had that kind of dark curly hair, and I think that's when the obsession began.

Next came Joey Lawrence--my elementary school, TV show boyfriend. I used to watch him and his adorable smile and cute Philly accent on Gimme A Break every week. Then he was in Adventures in Babysitting--awesome movie, if you ever get the chance--and co-starred on Blossom as her dopey brother. Actually, he always seems to play pretty dopey guys. Maybe that's part of the appeal =)

Then came a dark time in the history of my dark, curly hair obsession. A period known as the New Kids on the Block Vortex. Yes, my name is Tera and I was a NKOTB-aholic. I even went to their concert at the Minnesota state fair. And it was all because of Jordan Knight and his magnetic dark, curly hair. (In retrospect, I think it might have been the pull of the hairspray--there was a lot of it involved).

In high school (okay, early high school) my obsession landed on Saved By the Bell. Mario Lopez, aka Slater, was the perfect package. He was a little bit of a tough guy--a wrestler who was ready to throw down... literally. He had the most amazing dimples a girl could ever ask to drool over. (I mean, just look at those! Those dimples could sell Pixie Sticks to a diabetic!) And he has that luscious dark, curly hair.

Well, I could go on forever about these guys with gorgeous locks, but I'll have to save some of theme for another day. I end here with two things: My Hottie Question of the Week and one last look at a few of my current favorites (Casey Affleck--Ben's little brother, Adrian Grenier--from Entourage, and Gavin Rossdale--Mr. Gwen Stefani). The question is... can you trace any of your little obsessions (or your big ones) back to early schoolgirl crushes? Clearly, I can.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Libraries Rock!

I'm writing this post from the most amazing library -- the Downtown Seattle Public Library to be exact. It's a modern highrise building of criss-crossed steel and glass. It feels like a freaking church of books.

And well it should be. The library is where is all began for me. I spent so many hours reading in libraries as a child. I was destined to be a devotee of words.

See, my dad taught at the local high school when I was a junior high student. That meant I drove to his school with him, then walked the five blocks to mine. I was there early -- with the teachers. Ugh.

My only escape was the dusty second floor library, which was populated with Agatha Christie and other writers I loved. Long before the first bell rang, I was poring through mysteries and adventures, bugging the libarian for more authors, finding comfort in the far away situations of fictional characters, putting myself in their shoes.

Someday I'm going to be on the shelf in that old library. Kids will be able to check out my books and escape with me to far away places. That in itself is a reason to write.

Who else can perform that kind of magic? Who else can take others on shared trips in the imagination? Only writers.

So, I can't be the only one in love with libraries...

What was your library like?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Street Smart and Irina Derevko

I've writeen 5 books so far (Oreos with Chai, Desi Divas, Oreos with Chai (complete rewrite), and How to Salsa in a Sari). The first four were adult novels, and the last one a YA. Now the central heroine for all 5 of these stories was an average looking, studious brunette with a great job (in the case of the YA, excellent grades), excellent friends, no love life to speak of, and major family issues.

Hmm...who does this sound like (barring the major family issues)? Most of my main characters so far have been strange versions of me. Book-smart, homebodies with average lives. Is this normal? My characters have been born in every major junction in my life and I see so many shades of myself in each of them.

Maya in Oreos with Chai was written when I was just about to be married. The whole story is about a girl who can't seem to commit and is terrified of marriage. In the end she realizes settling with one person isn't so bad.
Sejal in Desi Divas is about a girl who idealizes marriage and wants some change in her life. In the end she realizes that the guy isn't going to make all her problems go away. I was newly married, discovering life isn't all perfect, and terribly homesick during that period in my life.
Maya in Oreos with Chai II was about a girl who was avoiding marriage in a major way in spite of pressure from her parents to give up her career and focus on the marriage. In the end she realizes that just a career doesn't make a person happy. I was at a major crossroads in my career at the time.
Malini in Salsa in a Sari is about a girl who is fiercly possessive about her mother and is afraid of the new life they are moving toward. I had just started my new job and was wondering what the future was holding.

I have a feeling I know why I have so much trouble with characterization. Since all of my heroines are versions of me, I feel that they are fleshed out people. After all, I know myself. But I don't think their personality comes across on paper the way it does in my head.

The new heroine of my next book THE SARI SISTERHOOD, Zara, is calling for me to write her. She is street-smart, take-charge, and not afraid of using her sexuality to get her way. She doesn't love to read, she doesn't feel sorry for herself when things go wrong, and she sure as hell doesn't stay at home on a Sunday night with a cup of tea and a novel. She's the type of girl who will be at a rave all night, at work at 6 am the next day and drinks her coffee black.

For those of you who watched ALIAS, I have a vision of a young Irina Derevko (Syndey Bristow's mother, BY FAR the best character on the show) as Zara Taylor. Smart, sexy, cunning, and a very gray character. Nothing black or white about her. Totally the opposite of Dona Sarkar.

Zara is someone I admire the qualities of, but know I can never pull it off. Aspiring to be my heroine...this might actually be the secret to getting this book to be my best yet :)

What about you guys. Are you characters versions of you? Or are they what you wish you could be?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

When Did You Know?

It’s always interesting to hear when writers knew they were...shall we say...different.

Some say they’ve always written. Others say the desire was there, but left untapped for years. While others claim they came to writing from a more pragmatic head, through journaling or for a possible career change.

No rights or wrongs. Just good stories.

I am one of those “born that way” writers. I’ve always written, I imagine I always will. I don’t have to make time for writing--the need is so strong that I basically steal from other areas of my life (housework, cooking, sleep, etc.).

When I look back at my childhood, I can zero in on countless attempts at short stories and books. My Barbie imaginings went on for days with backstories and spin-offs. And I believed that the library--not Disneyland--was The Happiest Place on Earth.

But what shines brightest is an episode from 7th grade. It was lunch hour, and someone mentioned our book reports due next period. I’d totally spaced, hadn’t done mine. But I read 3 or 4 books a week, so no real crisis, right? I grabbed some looseleaf and started writing. I’m not sure why (and where I got the nerve because I was totally a good girl rule follower) but I started making the whole thing up. The title, the author, the plot, the conflicts, the black moment. Then the bell rang, we went to class, and I handed mine in.

I thought I was very funny. Daring. Smart. Until that night. When I started to sweat. WHAT would I do if the teacher caught on and demanded to see the book? Would I end up with detention? Suspension? Expulsion?

How could I explain something I didn’t even yet understand myself? That regurgitating someone else’s words had become too frustrating when I had all these stories of my own to tell? And while I wasn’t yet capable of writing a publishable book, I had an intuitive grasp on what a book was supposed to sound like. And I just had to try...

A day or so later, the teacher passed the papers back. I not only pulled it off, I got an A. (Wow!) And believe me, I never tried a stunt like that again.

So how about you, writer-friends? Can you point back to a moment or event from your childhood that foreshadows where you are today?


Top Ten Uses for An Unworn Prom Dress, Feb. 2007
How to Hook a Hottie, Spring 2008

Saturday, October 07, 2006

********BUZZ GIRL BOOKSIGNING***********

Stephanie Hale and Simone Elkeles

Six copies of How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (one for each Buzz girl), a blue Illini baseball cap (for hubby), a 20 oz. Coke(for me), a 20 oz. Sprite (for the offspring), and the most adorable pink girly pen(total impulse buy at the register)-$93.21

One hour on the parking meter when only twenty five minutes were used because offspring wouldn't sit still any longer- $1

Burning half a tank of gas getting lost on the University of Illinois campus just as the homecoming football game was letting out while offspring were juiced up on Sprite in the backseat- $15(just guessing here) & quite a bit of sanity

Getting to spend time with a Buzz Girl at her alma mater booksigning and get my own signed copy- PRICELESS!!!!!!
Now get out and get your own copy! It won't be as cool as mine, because mine's signed by the uber-famous author, but I guarantee you'll still love it! :)

The eyes have it...

We’ve been talking a lot this week about eyes and how they attract us to another person. I’m all about the eyes myself, so I can identify with the mob rule around here at Books, Boys and Buzz.

So, this one time at band camp...

No, seriously...I was at summer music camp which consisted of concert band, chorus, a cappella choir and show choir. I was in all of the choirs, but was the youngest one there. You had to be in ninth grade or above to go to this camp, but my mother “fibbed” on my application so I could go a year early. (This from the woman who stressed not to lie...ever.)

Anyway, I was the youngest in age in the choirs, but I still got placed for solos and features ‘cause my voice rocked back then. (Vocal chords severely damaged freshman year in college by tonsillitis.) There were a lot of kids there from Dora High School in Dora, Alabama and I befriended a lot of them. And, I immediately crushed on the youngest guy of their bunch, Lee. (I can’t for the life of me remember his last name.) But he had The. Most. Gorgeous. Blue. Eyes. We’re talking candle melting. Butter melting. Knee melting. He was just sooooo adorable and those eyes. Man, let me tell you what...

Well, turned out, Lee and I got matched up together as a “couple” in show choir (for those of you who don’t know what show choir is...you sing songs and “act” them out as you’re singing – a lot of dancing and movement and stuff) because we were the youngest and the same height. I was quiet seriously wigged out by this (in a good way.) I got to spend all of this extra time with Lee, literally singing to each other. It was...magical. And we did this old song called “Them There Eyes.” We had to turn and face each other with our hands around our eyes like fake binoculars and then had to flash our fingers on the words “Them! There! Eyes!”

I felt like the biggest goober in the world doing this with him watching me. Staring into my eyes with those killer blues. Singing to me. Only me. Wow. What a memory. I can actually still see his eyes – all these years later – quite vividly.

And so the pattern began for me...all about eyes. After all, the eyes are the windows to our souls. So full of depth, color and emotion. I always tend to write at length about my hero’s eyes – so much that I’ve had critique partners say, “I get it...his eyes are green...move on.” LOL!!

So, what is it about the eyes? Why are we so drawn to them? Why do the eyes have it?


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rewind a bit


Yes, the little guy with stubby legs, a TV for a head and wicked antennae is my crush this week. Men, women, bands, and inanimate objects, no one is safe from my crush of the week. What can I say, I'm fickle.

But if you have TIVO, or a DVR, I know, you know, what I mean. Here we are in the honeymoon stage of fall programming. How is a girl supposed to write books, blog, promote herself online, and take care of her offspring without missing the newest episode of Survivor? I'm telling you I could never go back to TV without TIVO. Hate commercials? Just click that fast forward button three times and you whiz right through the millions of advertising dollars spent trying to get you to buy a bunch of crap you don't need anyway. Did someone have the nerve to call during The Class, you are watching this, aren't you? You can pause live TV. LIVE TV, PEOPLE!

So even though I was a bit miffed last week when TIVO didn't automatically tape Ugly Betty for me after I forgot to put it on my season pass when I pulled up my list and saw that TIVO had lovingly taped an old LIFETIME movie that I had been wanting to see again, all was forgiven. So it got me thinking...

Too bad life can't be more like TIVO. Wouldn't it be great to rewind the first magical kiss with your beloved? How about fast forwarding through all of those visits with your mother in law? Getting the call from your agent that your book sold, REWIND! Massive revisions, FAST FORWARD! Your wedding day, REWIND! The birth of your child, REWIND after you've FAST FORWARDED through the labor of course!

I suppose it wouldn't be healthy to keep reliving the past, but boy, it sure would be fun sometimes. What would you rewind or fast forward?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hump Day Hottie #4

How do I love Gary Dourdan, let me count the ways... Okay, so I can think of three good reasons to love Gary, best known for his role as Warrick Brown in the original CSI.

1. Those EYES! Along with the majority of commenters from last week’s post, I’m an eye girl (okay, and eye and hair girl, but we’ll get to that later). Gary’s eyes are this light green that just seem to glow when the light catches them just right. Those eyes could make you forgive and forget just about anything.

2. His hair. Not the hair from the early seasons, but how he has it now with all those cute little curlicues bouncing out all over. I just love that whole “squiggle drawing” look. This may have something to do with the fact that dark brown curly hair is my downfall, my Achilles heel.

3. That crinkly forehead thing. Omigod, I love that! If a guy can crinkle his forehead I think that’s just one of the sexiest things ever... maybe because my own forehead has zero crinkle capability. I think this goes along with the whole “sophisticated, worldly man” thing that Sean Connery and Harrison Ford have going for them. The kind of thing that just gets better with age.

4. This may be the biggest one of all: Intelligence. No, I have no idea whether Gary himself has two thoughts to rub together, but Warrick is wicked smart. Intelligence is such an attractive force. I’m not talking about that super-geeky, “all I have to offer is an academic knowledge and I’ll be happy to prove how smart I am at any opportunity” kind of intelligence. More like intelligence born of confidence and experience. Again, that whole “sophisticated, worldly man” thing.

Which all leads me into this installment of Hottie Question of the Week:

Have you ever fallen for a guy who would otherwise never be your type just because of his intelligence/talent? (I include talent because sometimes, especially in creative fields, “intelligence” for that particular art is often labeled talent.)

Although I often find myself falling for intelligence/talent over my own best interests--translation: the guy’s a jerk but I can’t help it--there was the case of my senior crush in high school. There was this guy who was pretty much a jerk, tall but scrawny, and not particularly attractive--yet because he was one of the smartest guys in our class I wound up with a huge crush on him. Does this happen to other girls, or am I a freak of nature?

Meanwhile, enjoy the Gary Dourdan eye candy...he’s well worth the cavities.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The First Date (with your agent that is!)

Do we all remember the first time we met our agents in person? You've been talking on the phone and emailing for ages and now there is no procrastinating it. You need to meet in person. The getting ready, the preparing how you're going to greet them, the whole "I hope they're just as cool in real life thing"... so much like going on that first date with a long-distance significant other.

My first date with Ms. Sha-Shana Crichton went something like this:
She was in Seattle for the Northwest Pacific Writing Association Conference in 2004. Though I was a member, I couldn't attend that year due to a work crisis. I live about 20 minutes away from the airport hotel where it was being held. At this point, she had represented me for around three months and we were working on a new project to shop around.

We'd already spoken on the phone and sent email and decided we would meet at the airport hotel on the Saturday night at 7, after her appointments were complete.

I nervously slipped into my favorite Express black wrap-dress and pink sparkly sandals. I checked the directions to the hotel three times, forced myself to wait till 6:30. Then I started my drive. I had all these visions of what she would be like. On the phone, she had the most awesome Jamaican accent and was all business.

I arrived at the hotel right on schedule and called her on her cell-phone. No answer. Oh damn.
I tried again after 5 minutes. She answered breathlesslessly. "I'm so sorry, my last appointment is going over. Could you give me 15 minutes?"

Hell yea I would!

I sat down in the lounge and watched as the very faboulous Katie McAllister practically ran from the hotel after being mobbed by vampire teenager loving fans. I watched groups of nervous writers chattering as they went over the agent requests they'd gotten.
Then Sha-Shana arrived like a vision. She wore a sleeveless blue dress and a green pashmina and greeted me with a fierce hug. "Let's get out of here!"

I had not planned for this.

I lead her to my car and we stated driving. And driving. We discussed her flight, the past two days, the overall feel of the conference. And we kept driving because I couldnt think of a single place to go for dinner near the airport. :)

Finally we arrived at Dennys. We talked about the book for around 20 minutes as we waited for my sandwich and her salad to arrive. As soon as our food arrived, all work talk stopped. We discussed Indian culture, Jamaican culture, what it means to be a parent, life, weight-loss, men, just every topic you could think of. We spent over an hour sitting there in that cramped booth, untouched coconut cream pie in front of me and just go to know each other. It was fantastic. She was fun, creative, fun-loving, and extremely extremely cool.

I loved her.

And then i drove her back to the hotel and made her promise to come back the following year :)

So that was my first date with Ms. Sha-Shana. Since then we've attended the Golden Hearts dinner in Reno together, taken a nap on the couches in Atlanta, and will be meeting again this weekend in Seattle for the Emerald City. She is more than an agent: she's a good friend and I feel very lucky to have her in my life.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Guilty as Charged

I suspect a picture of me is taped up in the employee lounges of my local bookstores. With warnings to watch me for nefarious and suspicious activity.

And it’s true. All of it.

I am guilty of skulking through the aisles to the Young Adult section, studying the shelves, scanning the area for employees and people-without-lives, and waiting until the time cost is clear. And then--

Whamo! My hand strikes like a coiled snake at its prey. I grab a stack of faced-out books, slide them forward ‘til only their spines show. Then I stop. I glance around. I take a few side-steps ‘til I’m in front of a friend’s books. I scoot other books down to make an empty space.

Then I strike again. Moving my friend’s books to the preferred face-out position so that her cover can be seen and enjoyed by all.

(And okay, I admit it: what a rush!)

Big Name authors, my apologies. Yours are the books I turn in. Because you’ve already got a strong reader base, and your readers are going to find your books whether they jump out at them or not.

What I’m hoping for is the impulse buy, that the reader who came in for a Big Name leaves with a New Name, too. (Preferably a book written by a Buzz Girl, my critique partner, or another of my friends.) That the shopper learns what so many of us already know, that there’s a wealth of new talent out there, waiting to be discovered.

So far, the Book Store Police have not detained me. I continue to strike in the name of new authors (who double as friends). I’ll let you know if this ever changes. In the meantime, starting next February, if you happen to see my book on a shelf appearing only by its spine? Well...I’m not going to ask you to break any laws, of course. But you know what to do.

Are any of you equally guilty?