Monday, August 31, 2009

Never Cry Werewolf Release Week!

To celebrate the launch of my debut YA novel, the Buzz Girls are posting this week about firsts. Each day you can read a new story about a first and then comment to win a copy of Never Cry Werewolf!

We will announce all winners on Sunday, September 6th, so comment as often as you like on any of the daily posts.
For my short, "first" story, I'll post below a picture of me signing the first copy of the book in NYC a week ago. I am in my editor's office at HarperTeen, and I'm barely holding back a wave of tears. I can't tell you how grateful I am to Anne Hoppe for championing Never Cry Werewolf and doing such a loving editing job on the book. Working with her, and learning from her has been the biggest gift of all of this process.

And of course it goes without saying none of this would have been possbile without my Eagle, agent Stephen Barbara. He is an amazing, wonderful friend and champion, too.
So, as you know, this is my first published book. I am getting my first reviews (gah!). I am getting a lot of request for interviews. People are talking about the book. This is all new, foreign soil I'm standing on.

When I was a little bookworm of a kid, reading voraciously because books were my only solid friend, I never imagined this time in my life to be like this. And when I was a grown-up, writing stories to spirit myself away from my very small life and dreaming of the day one of my books would be in print, I couldn't have pictured it turning out this way. It's different and better in most ways. Thanks to you, readers, and the Buzz Girls for sharing this time with me.
I hope you will check out Never Cry Werewolf (email me photos if you see it on the shelf!) and if you haven't read a snipet check out this link to HarperTeen, where you will find a chunk of the book.

To enter today's contest, in comments tell me about the first teen/juvenile book you read that really, really touched you. For me, I think it was Bridge to Terebithia. There is such a soul to that book- I still think about it years later. How about you?

Much Love,

Never Cry Werewolf - TOMORROW!
The Clearing - April 2010 HMH

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hey's (was) my birthday!

I thought this published last night, but I guess not!
That's right blogfans! It's my 29th birthday today :) The last one before the big 3-0 (which I've been waiting for since I was a kid. I have always literally been 13 Going on 30!).

Today I am celebrating with a Ladies Afternoon Tea at my house with a few of my girlfriends.

My husband gave me two gifts I am completely and totally in love with:

First, is any true Literati complete without the Kindle 2? I've already downloaded my favorite books like LITTLE WOMEN, THE SECRET GARDEN, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and much much more....

I am a boot FANATIC and fell in love with these Charles Davids a while ago. Aren't they lovely?

The afternoon tea was a wonderful way for me to spend some QT with my closest in-town girlfriends while enjoying some bite-sized treats and some good, hot tea! In the evening, my husband took me to dinner at one of my favorite Italian restaurants, Volterra. This was one of Rachael Ray's faves too!

All in all, it was hands-down the BEST b'day I've ever had!

So, who else has a b'day coming up? What's your fave way to celebrate?
Dona Sarkar

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Counting Down the Days...

I can't believe how quickly the summer has gone. Really, this one was fast. And we are now 5 days away from my first published book hitting the shelves. Holy crapola.

I was in NYC last week, where my editor presented me with a real, hardback copy of Never Cry Werewolf, along with a cupcake with a candle in it. "Happy book birthday," she said with a huge smile.

It's been a while since I sold the book, but that moment, this time in my life, makes the wait sooooo worth it. I don't know how I'll sleep on August 31st, knowing that the very next day the book will be reality!

I've been so lucky to have wonderful writing friends, like the Buzz Girls, to support me along the way. You ladies are amazing! And I want to thank the Buzz Blog readers, too -- your encouragement and enthusiasm for the book has made the wait seem somehow shorter.

Next week, we'll be giving away copies of Never Cry Werewolf each day on the blog - so be sure to comment each day on the post. We'll kick-off on Monday, so please spread the word. I can't wait to send the winners their copies and introduce them to the world of Camp Crescent and its dark, sweet hero Austin Bridges the III.

Much love to all you guys!

Never Cry Werewolf - Sept. 1, 2009 HarperTeen
The Clearing - April 2010 - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A little bit of a rant...

I wanted to get some perspective from my fellow Buzz Girls, as well as comments, feedback, and/or opinions from our readers.

Long ago when a friend of mine got published, she started obsessing over reviews to the point where she would often debate the reviews on her blog. I told her not to let them upset her and not to highlight reviews that upset her by blogging about it. I swore I would never do the same.

And let me state for the record that I will not do the same. LOL!! I am very fortunate in that both GHOST HUNTRESS: THE AWAKENING and GHOST HUNTRESS: THE GUIDANCE both have an average four-star review on and I'm beyond thrilled! I have nothing to take to task with any of the reviews and send out a hearty Thank You Very Much to anyone who has posted a review after reading the book.

My question is this, though...

A lot of reviewers are getting on to me for my "course language." This has both my editor and me shaking our heads. There is an occasional "$hit" or someone being referred to as a "b*tch" (mostly a "beotch") and my heroine likes to say "freakin'" sometimes when she's...well, freaked out. At no point in the books is there ever the F word and never will there be that. Is this seriously considered "course?"

I also find it interesting that teens who leave reviews have no problem with this. It's mostly parents. I certainly don't want to upset parents...but I do have to scratch my head over this one. I have read a lot of YA books that pepper the writing with much courser language and frequent use of the F word in character's dialogue.

What do you think? Do you consider this "course language?" Are you offended by this? How much reality is too much? Is is staying true to teen talk to use words that they use in every day life? For those of you who've read my books, what do you think? I'm fascinated by this and would love to know what people's opinions are on this topic.

Thanks so much!
Marley = )

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back To Cool

All across the country kids are going back to school. Maybe it was last week, maybe it's next week, but around Houston it's this very week. And I'm going to let you in on my dirty little secret: I'm jealous!

Yep. While grown-ups everywhere are celebrating the fact that they don't have to go to school anymore, I'm secretly a little sad.

Oh, there were things I hated about going to school, to be sure. The early mornings. The social politics. The bad teachers who made you wish you were the kind of girl who got in trouble just so you could get sent to the principal's office and escape the torment.

But there were good things too. Seeing your crush every day. Learning cool new stuff (even if you don't think you'll ever, ever in the entire future of the planet need to know how to apply the Pythagorean theorem). And, oh yeah, the supplies! How I love, love, love school supplies.

In the days before school each year I would make my annual trek to OfficeMax, Target, or (in college) the university bookstore to acquire all the pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, notebooks, scissors, markers, tape, staples, and countless other little goodies I might need during the school year.

As a writer, I still get to stock up on that kind of stuff year round--and it can be as pretty or girly or immature as I'd like because, really, who's going to see. I mean, besides the people at the coffee shop where I write?

But there's a part of me that wishes I was still back to school shopping....


OH. MY. GODS. (now in paperback!)
Get your goddess on. Join the Ning!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Was My Face Red!

I was in a comedic writing workshop recently, and as an exercise, we were encouraged to make a list of childhood moments that we found truly embarrassing. Not to share with the group, just for our own creativity, to see what could potentially give rise to humor.

It reminded me of a column that used to run in the now-defunct YM magazine called WAS MY FACE RED, where girls would write in with 50 to 100 word stories of utter embarrassment. I loved that column when I was about 12 and 13, turned to it first every month, and dreamed of writing an entry and having it published--but never had anything succinctly embarrassing to submit. (Or so I thought!)

So, to make my dream come true of "publishing" an entry under that column heading, here goes:

It was summer. My younger brother had some buddies in the backyard, playing baseball. I was upstairs in the bathroom, experimenting with make-up, as I so often did. Then I sat on the closed toilet seat to gaze out in the backyard, and idly watch the game. Only to have one of the players look up and point me out, and everyone, of course, thought I was USING the toilet, not sitting on it.

OMG, my life as I knew it was over! They'd all go home and tell their older brothers and sisters that I'd been...OMG...I'd never be taken seriously again. Never get a boyfriend. All my friends would dump me. OMG...OMG!!!

Okay, in truth, the story ends there. No ramifications, and I seriously doubt anyone but my brother and me remember it. And come to think of it, the story might have been a bit MUCH for YM. Probably would have earned me my first rejection!

Anyway, feel free to laugh at me for that story, and/or post an embarrassing childhood story of your own. (Let's continue to keep the kitten here amused!)


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC's of Kissing Boys

Friday, August 21, 2009

Better late than never?

I am terribly ashamed to admit that only recently I joined the ranks of recyclers. In my defense, there wasn't really a service available until a year of so ago. I thought I was doing my part by stuffing all my plastic bags away and reusing them as liners for my bathroom garbage, rummage sales, etc. We have always recycled our cans though.
Then my six-year-old learned about recycling at school and started nagging me about it. I kept calling and calling to get a tote from our local recycler and it finally got dropped off a few weeks ago. I called to ask them what exactly they would take because I was completely clueless. Everything. They take everything. Okay, not everything, but my mind was completely blown when I realized how much was able to be recycled. Guilt swirled around in my gut as I realized how quickly just our plastics added up. It has become nothing short of an obsession for me. I feel so insanely good knowing I'm actually making a difference. I used to have to take our garbage out once a day. Now I'm down to about once every four days unless I cook something smelly. Now I really am doing my part. I have to admit I am still taking those devilish plastic bags home from Wal-Mart because I always buy so much. And they don't seem to have a bin to bring back your old ones. So how about you, what are you doing to save the Earth?


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Advice from a Contest Judge

Hey everyone...remember me? So sorry I've missed posting for several weeks. This summer has been...topsy-turvy to say the least. I was busy putting the finishing touches on GHOST HUNTRESS: THE REASON - the third book in the series. (My editor loves the story!! Whoo!!)

I just finished judging some YA entries in a contest and thought I'd share some tag along on what Tera posted about contests. I've judged so many contests over the years and have found a lot of patterns. I gained a lot of knowledge as an unpublished writer entering contests and I want to "pay it forward" to those of you who may be sending your stuff out to be judged.

Here are the things I’ve discovered as a contest judge that writers can improve upon:

Don’t hold your heroine at arm’s length - this was one of the biggest problems for me as a reader. The writer had a great premise and an interesting situation, but I never really felt like I knew the heroine. It seems writers can be more generous with their secondary characters and showing their actions/reactions, but oftentimes it seemed as if the heroine was just walking along through the scenery and as a reader, I was never really set in her head. The heroine is the most important part of your book. Your reader will want to identify with her and feel that she’s walking in her shoes. Give her quirks, special features, items that let the reader know her soul and what’s deep inside her.

Avoid long, drawn out prologues - General rule of thumb is a prologue should be short, serve a purpose and share information that the reader wouldn’t otherwise know from reading the story. I read one entry that had a 47 page prologue that had nothing to do with the rest of the story. On page 48 when a whole new set of characters were introduced, I felt cheated with a bait and switch. A prologue should be an introductory to the story, the characters or the situation. When a writer goes on for (in my opinion) over eight pages, it’s no longer is a prologue, but rather it’s now a chapter. Make sure whatever information you need to reveal in a prologue is more than just back story, but relevant to the overall plot.

Starting the story in the right place - Another common “mistake” I found was starting the story in the right place. Often times, the writer is chugging away, really telling a story, introducing characters and situations, but then in chapter three, it takes a totally different direction. Or, better yet, I’ll read a synopsis where it says “The story starts when heroine goes to a party...” and the party didn’t start until page 58. In these circumstances, the writer has told me, the reader, that even she knows the previous fifty some odd pages were unnecessary and pure back story or lead up. Readers want action. Drop the heroine into the poo and watch what happens. Someone at RWA-Dallas said, “Stick your heroine in a tree and start shooting at her.” It’s a “cut to the chase” sort of thing. You’ve got to pace your story so that it’s interesting and relevant and information is revealed at the proper times to keep your reader interested. If you’re writing a mystery and the dead body/suspicious event doesn’t happen or get hinted to in the first sixty pages, chances are you’re going to lose the agent or editor readers attention.

Misspelled words - this is a real peeve for me as a writer and a reader and particularly as a contest judge. Typos, to me, are a bit inexcusable in this day and age. Word processing programs offer spell checks, as well as translators, thesauruses and other writing tools. Also, the Internet is a great resource with Google at your fingertips, as well as If you’re going to have your heroine ordering tiramisu for dessert, please take the time to look it up and not write it out phonetically as “tearamasue.” (Not kidding.) You lose credibility with your reader when you have such blatantly misspelled words. Sure, mistakes happen, but when you refer to a heroines “high heals,” it’s excused the first time. The second and third time it’s spelled that way, it makes the writer look lazy for not checking grammar and spelling. Also, take a refresher course in grammar if you’re having problems distinguishing between “it’s” and “its,” “to” and “too,” “you’re,” and “your” and other words. Take the time to show that you’ve done your research, proofed your work and have mastered the language.

Fully describing the story from start to finish in the synopsis - The synopsis is an important tool for you to sell your story. Once you become lucky enough and sell that first story, you’ll be able to submit proposals with a synopsis of your planned story. You need to be able to describe how the story pans out from start to finish, from the opening to the happily ever after. Many a synopsis I've read, the writer left teasers at the end. Or, if there was a mystery, it was never explained how it was solved. You want to fully describe the main thread of your plot, how it unfolds and how it is resolved. Don’t leave your reader (editor or agent) hanging because it will make them put the story aside. Get your hero and heroine’s goals, motivations and conflicts upfront in the synopsis the best you can. Always tell the ending.

Watch your dialogue tags - Many of the entries seemed to either be afraid of using dialogue tags or overused them. Some would go on for pages with no “he said” or “she said” and I felt, as a reader that I was yo-yoing through the I was reading a screenplay. Other times, the lack of dialogue tags had me unsure of where the characters were, what they were doing or what they were feeling. Then, on the opposite extreme, I saw many instances of dialogue being “smiled” or “cried” or such things you can’t actually do with dialogue. Most of the time, simple “said” or “asked” works just fine. Don’t take away from the reading by overuse of tags.

Don’t summarize. Let the reader “hear” what’s happening - Oftentimes, I found some writers summarizing too much. Especially during crucial scenes in their manuscript. The reader wants to “hear” what’s going on. They want to share in the conversation, listening to the words, the inflection, etc. When writer summarizes too much, it sucks the action right out of the story. Action is what propels the reader forward, it’s what keeps the editor and agent turning the pages. If you summarize too much, you run the risk of the reader skimming and wondering how that particular passage is important. Use dialogue and the here and now as often as possible to convey your plot and story.

Forcing a story into the YA genre - Okay, need to climb up on the soap box a little. We all know how hot the YA genre is -- and we certainly appreciate that here at Books, Boys, Buzz! -- but not everyone should be writing YA just because it's what's selling. I read no fewer than four entries that I had previously read in other contests as romance stories or chick lit that have now been targeted for YA. To me, this is forcing a story into a genre that it wasn't originally intended. Look...we all want to sell...believe me, I know that! I tried this trick myself and it usually doesn't work. More than likely, you're taking something you've written a long time ago and just changed the characters to teenagers. It doesn't always work. If you truly want to write YA, go for something fresh...something that hasn't been done to death and something that can really showcase the YA voice. Don't force an old story into the YA slot. If I can figure it out as a contest judge...image what an editor or agent will think. Don't be afraid to be creative and put yourself out there and really enjoy writing for teens.

Proper targeting of the contest/genre - When it comes to contests, take the time to fully research it and don’t just throw a manuscript in “because.” There are a lot of RWA chapter contests out there that are very specific in what they are judging: first chapter, last chapter, synopsis, query letter, sex scene, chick lit, first kiss, etc. Don’t enter a contest unless you’ve read all of the rules, understood the categories, find some use in the final judges. Don’t throw your romantic suspense into a chick lit category. If you enter a first kiss contest, make sure your characters actually kiss. Don’t put your 100K manuscript into a short contemporary category. Have some respect for the judges who will be giving their time and feedback, but who are also working with in a regimented set of rules and score sheet requirements. If your manuscript doesn’t fit a particular contest, move on to the next one. You don’t have to enter every one. Believe me, everyone involved will appreciate it.

I hope my insight as a judge is helpful for you as you’re looking to enter your manuscript(s) into contest for this new year. Always have a goal for what you’d like to get out of a contest and then do your part to make sure the judges have the most professional, well-written, best stab from you as possible. The better prepared you are as a contestant, the better the feedback will be. Good luck to you!

Marley = )

GHOST HUNTRESS: THE AWAKENING (Available Now! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
GHOST HUNTRESS: THE GUIDANCE (Coming September 2009, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
GHOST HUNTRESS: THE REASON (Coming May 2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
THE OTHER SIDE: A TEEN'S GUIDE TO GHOST HUNTING AND THE PARANORMAL (Coming September 2009, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
CHRISTMAS MIRACLES (Coming October 2009, St. Martin's Press)
SORORITY 101: Zeta or Omega? (Available from Puffin Books)
SORORITY 101: The New Sisters (Available from Puffin Books)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To Contest or Not To Contest

Sometime, around seven years ago, I decided to become a writer. I didn't know anything about writing or the business of being an author. I just knew I loved books and that I thought I had it in me to write them. Since, up until that time, all I'd ever been was a student (and a temp, but let's not talk about that) I did what I knew best: I researched.

One of the first resources I found was the Romance Writers of America (an amazing organization that I always recommend to any aspiring author, romance or otherwise). I quickly learned that one of the best ways to both get feedback on my writing (desperately necessary, since I'd never met another writer) and get my writing in front of agents and editors was to enter a contest.

By the Fall of 2003 I had (finally) decided on a manuscript. I had about 50 decent pages of a Regency set historical. I entered it in the West Houston RWA's (my new chapter) Emily contest and the Golden Heart, RWA's national contest for unpublished manuscripts. (The major benefit of the Golden Heart was that you had to have a complete manuscript to enter, which meant I actually had to finish my very first manuscript.

I got the results back from the Emily contest about a week after I sent off my entry into the Golden Heart. The results were mediocre at best. "Oh well," I thought. "Guess I'm not supposed to be a writer."

I quit. I stopped writing altogether. Seriously. I'd like to think I'd have come back to it eventually, but instead fate intervened. It was late March. I was sitting at my dad's computer in the living room, he was relaxing in his recliner (aka waiting for me to get off his computer) when my phone rang.

"May I speak with Tera Childs please," the caller said.

"This is Tera."

"I'm calling to let you know that Summer Sapphire has finaled in the Golden Heart."

I was speechless. I'd quit writing. Shelved it along with so many other fly-by-night dreams. But now I'd finaled in the most prestigious contest available to unpublished romance authors. Suddenly my career was back on track (and I haven't looked back since).

Now people might have differing opinions on contests, but here are the reasons I think contests are an excellent opportunity for aspiring writers:
  1. Feedback -- You'll get plenty. And, no, not all of it will be good. Anyone who's ever been on the contest circuit has some crazy judges' comments to share. But almost as important as the good feedback on your writing is learning how to differentiate between valid criticism and the kind that needs to get thrown in a blazing bonfire.
  2. Tough Skin -- As noted above, you'll get harsh comments. Some of them will be ridiculous, but some of them will be spot on. And, as hard as it may be to read about everything that's wrong with your entry, you'll get comments just as tough (or worse) from agents and editors down the line. Might as well learn how to cope now.
  3. Opportunity -- Agents and editors get hundreds (thousands?) of queries and submissions every week. Most of the time you have a few sentences to get them interested in your book. But, if you final in a contest, you have a guaranteed read of at least the first chapter or two. My own critique partner got both her agent and her first book contract thanks to contest finals, so they do work. (Although, in full disclosure, I never got a single request from a contest until after I'd sold Oh. My. Gods.)
So, are you sold on contests? If so, here are a few you might think about entering:
  • Southern Heat -- Sponsored by the East Texas RWA (and coordinated by a good friend of mine) this contest has a specific Young Adult category. And, bonus, not only am I one of the initial round judges (no, I'm not judging every entry, so it's just as likely you'll get other judges) but my fabulous editor is the final round judge. Cost: $20-$30. Deadline: September 1.
  • Emily -- This is my home chapter's contest and, although it doesn't have a specific YA category, you can enter a YA manuscript in the appropriate category. (I entered Oh. My. Gods. in the paranormal category before I sold.) The Emily has a terrific reputation and some great final round judges this year. Cost: $20-$30. Deadline: October 7.
  • Golden Heart -- Yep, that very same contest I finaled in back in 2004. It's one of those shot-in-the-dark contests (as in it's very tough to final) but if you do... then it's a pretty awesome credential to add to your query letters. Cost: ??? (not posted yet, usually $50, I think). Deadline: November 16 (entry form and fees)/December 2 (material).
Anyone know of any other good contests for aspiring Young Adult authors? Or have any tips for contest entries? (I might blog about that in the future, if y'all are interested.)


OH. MY. GODS. (now in paperback!)
Get your goddess on. Join the Ning!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Celebrity Tell-Alls!

I love a good celebrity autobiography. “Good” being the operative word. One with a strong narrative voice, interesting stories, and life-reflecting insights.

I usually read two or three a year, although for some reason, I find this mildly embarrassing to admit, like celebrity autobiographies are not "real books." In fact, if you asked me last month what I was reading, odds are I mentioned Linda Howard--not Carrie Fisher--even though both authors had books on my nightstand.

But I’ve realized I'm being ridiculous, and to follow the example of some of these these celebs and go full disclosure! With no further adieu (other than totally cute pictures of two of these celebs from their younger days), here are some celebrities whose tell-alls I have enjoyed in recent years:

Judith Jacklin (John Belushi’s wife)
George Burns
David Cassidy
Carrie Fisher
Michael J. Fox
Kathy Lee Gifford
Marilu Henner
Magic Johnson
Cynthia Lennon (John Lennon’s first wife)
Tatum O’Neal
Gilda Radner
Geraldo Rivera

How about you? Call out some celebrity autobiographies that you’ve that I know what to pick up next time I need a fix!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tastes like summer

Summer to me means flip-flops everyday, swimming (when I can crash somebody's pool) and shaved ice (blueberry, coconut, and pineapple, please). It also means a few of my most favorite tasty treats like homegrown tomatoes and pumpkin blossoms.
I completely gross my kids out when I devour my first homegrown tomato of the summer. I usually just sprinkle it with salt and eat it like an apple. Truly there is nothing better.Another favorite summer treat is pumpkin blossoms. To get the best blossoms, you usually have to get up pretty early to pick them. As with any worthwhile endeavor there is some danger involved (read:bees). After the blossoms are picked, they are washed throughly, dipped in egg and flour then fried and sprinked with salt. If you haven't tried these summer treats you really should. What is your favorite in-season food?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Busy Bee Returns

As you might have guessed from my oh-so-long absence, it's been a wild summer. I've spent most of it in travel, hitting America from coast-to-coast. (Literally. I've been from New York to California and most places in between.)

But I'm back. Well, my brain might not be entirely back, but I'm working on it. As part of my re-entry program, I want to share with you some photo highlights from my trip. Enjoy!

First, my parents and I drove cross-country from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas in a mini caravan...

...then I flew home to Houston to do a few book signings for the release of Goddess Boot Camp.

Next, I flew back to Las Vegas...

...and took in some shows.

After a brief stopover at home, I flew to Washington, DC, for the RWA national conference, where I won the RITA award for Best First Book. (Omigod, squeeeee!!!)

With RITA by my side, I took the train to New York, where I did not go to the Met, because it's summer, people, and there are like billions of tourists in the city. (I walked down Fifth Avenue to the Frick instead. Much better.)

After that I flew back to Vegas for the last week of my parents' summer program (the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas), which was about stage makeup.

Then, after many more grueling hours of driving (in which I listened to the Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey--amazing) I finally made it back home to house, where my apartment complex was a different color than when I left.

So that's it. My summer life in pictures. Hopefully by next week my brain will have returned in full and I'll be able to write a real post.


OH. MY. GODS. (now in paperback!)
Get your goddess on. Join the Ning!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sharing the Wealth

I got my nails done the other day, and sitting down the row from me were two friends who--from the chit-chat that filtered down my way--hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks. But I didn’t get even remotely interested in eavesdropping until I caught little snippets about “Edward” and “Jacob” and realized they’d moved on to discussing the Twilight books.

For it thrilled me to know that book characters were such a part of their friendship that “where they were in the series” and “what they thought of the events” was part of their catch-up.

And it made me think of some of my friends, and how whether or not we’ve read the latest Stephanie Plum novel (by Janet Evanovich) is something we’ll discuss upon random meet-ups in Starbucks or pushing a supermarket cart.

(Incidentally, here’s a photo of Janet and me, taken by her daughter at the 2009 Romance Writers of America, and which I downloaded from Janet’s Facebook page--which explains why I get the last name and she doesn’t. And how fantastic is it that SHE’D feature ME, huh?)

Anyway, I swear, the only thing better than a great book is a great series! And what better way to celebrate friendships than to “share the wealth?”

Are you Twilight crazy, too? Wild for Stephanie Plum? Or maybe it’s Alyson Noel’s Evermore series? Be a friend and dish!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

OMG, it's August...

We’ve just finished a massive heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, where last week temperatures were in the 100’s. I found myself jumping in the lake as often as I could and slathering on the sunscreen just to walk to my office. Totally out of my routine, it was hard to do much of anything besides trying to stay cool. We just don’t have much air conditioning out here…

But now that the heat has passed, I’m like…. wow – it’s August! That means that the release of my debut novel Never Cry Werewolf is less than 30 days away. Holy crap.

It’s funny when I think back to writing the book during a cold winter a few years ago. My life has changed so much. Back then, I was still living in the country with my ex-husband, and some of the book I wrote on an Alphasmart, a little word processor I could take in the truck. In particular, I remember writing a scene in the camp counselor’s office when Austin and Shelby get busted for straying from the camp bus. We were driving through the town of Arlington, Washington – crossing the big river flat used for farming and the sky was threatening snow. I wrote the descriptive sentences about the office having a stuffed fish trophy and the desk with the massive brass eagle statue on it. I was cracking myself up as usual, describing the crazy camp counselors, especially Cynthia Crumb, who loved to play songs about lunchmeat on her guitar.

So, anyway… now, here we are with less than a month to go and it feels a little surreal. Publishing a book isn’t nearly what I thought it would be. The journey has been a little long for me, and a little winding, but I really can’t wait. Some good things are happening. A lot of teen bloggers have loved the book. A distributor called Brodart has interviewed me for their featured author article in their newsletter. HarperTeen has built a super cute author site for me on their publisher site. I’m starting to get some dates scheduled for booksignings, etc.

But it somehow doesn’t feel real yet; maybe it won’t until I see the book on the shelves. And then I will know that my childhood/adult dream of being an author has finally come true.

So… obviously, I can’t wait for September 1st - release day.

What are you excited about this fall? School? New books or movies coming out? Or, do you hate to see summer go...? Tell me what you will miss about the end of summer, or what you love about the coming crisp days of fall…


Never Cry Werewolf ~ HarperTeen Sept. 2009
The Clearing ~ HMH April 2010

Monday, August 03, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

I used to really, really love cake.

Until I went into birthday cake overload:

--first at my office job, where it always seemed to be a co-worker's birthday (and in fact, SEINFELD did an episode on this very topic, and how sick Elaine got of it, too);

--then as the mother of little kids, who were constantly being invited to birthday parties, and whether or not I attended the shingdig, inevitably at pick-up time, I got handed a piece.

I got to the point that the mere sight of icing made my teeth hurt.

But that was then, and this is now. The years of office parties and little kid birthday parties are behind me...and I really, really love cake again. It's a huge treat that I actually find myself anticipating now. Like if I get invited to a wedding or baby shower, I start immediately thinking cake.

And after years of trying just about every flavor, texture and dimension--most of them quite tasty--I've come to the realization that I'm actually a wheat and sugar purist: you can send me to the moon on white cake and white butter cream frosting. Preferably with a chunk of rose and squiggle of HAPPY BIRTHDAY writing.

How about you? Love or hate cake? And have a special type that always does it for you?

* * * * *

And along the lines of cake and celebrations, allow me to congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Mark Wahlberg for tying the knot this past weekend!

And what do you bet at their reception later, they served totally great cake?


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC's of Kissing Boys

Saturday, August 01, 2009

After a long hiatus...

How is everyone's summer going? Late nights, lots of ice cream and some great summer movies? I don't know about you guys, but I am DYING to get into an air-condioned theater and catch some of the fun looking movies coming out.

First, is there anyone cuter than Gerald Butler? This looks like a modern rom-com and exactly the kind of movie any Girls' Night would need!

I really liked the book and am looking forward to the movie...the SFX in the movie look really awesome and I do love me Eric Bana!

I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan (gasp, I know!) but I hear the latest movie Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is just wonderful!

I just want to see the new GI Joe movie because a part of it is shot in Paris and I love seeing the city (even if it is being destroyed!)

500 Days got amazing reviews and I am really excited to see it!
I will post reviews as I see these movies...what about you guys? What movies have you seen? What did you love? What did you think was overrated?
Stay cool!
Dona Sarkar-Mishra