Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We spent last week chatting about my favorite holiday of the year: Halloween. And I'm not sure about where you live, but here in Utah, we pretty much celebrated it yesterday since it fell on a Sunday this year. Here's how I celebrated Halloween.

On Thursday our local elementary school had their parade and class parties, and since two of my kids are in school, I helped out with both of their parties. For my fifth grader's class, I got to dress up like a witch (above) and tell a spooky story about Boo Hags while making a brew (which was more like a trail mix). It was a blast and I have a feeling some of those kiddies had a nightmare or two! (The true sign of success, eh?)

On Saturday, I was honored to be part of Provo City Library's 1st Annual Teen Read Fest. I'm always excited to receive an invitation there because that library is, in a word, amazing. They totally know how to fill their beautiful historical building with readers and authors and proud parents. I got to do a reading, speed dating Q&A sessions, book signings, and hang out in the green room with my new BFF (though he might not know this yet) YA author extraordinaire Scott Westerfeld. Then, I came home in a rainstorm to homemade chili a la my husband and spent the night handing out Halloween candy to goblins.

By the way, can you guess what I dressed up as???
And if you dressed up, what did you go as this year?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cheesy scary movies

Do you remember the first scary movie you watched? Unless it was something like The Exorcist or Amityville Horror, you can probably watch it today and laugh about some of the same stuff that scared the crap out of you the first time you saw it. Here are a few examples of movies that gave me the creeps way back when.

1) Chucky- I think Chucky creeped me out so much because he reminded me of a Cabbage Patch Kid. The thought of being stabbed to death by a doll I still adored kind of freaked me out. Now I just think it is hilarious and would have loved to have been in on the pitch to the movie studio. "So we've got this awesome script about a doll who comes to life and starts killing people." And if a homicidial doll showed up to your house wouldn't you just kick it in the head and the whole thing would be over with?
2) Maximum Overdrive- I actually loved this movie even though it scared the crap out of me. I think it was because Emilio Estevez was in it and he was smoking hot. The premise, in case you missed this Stephen King classic, was that when the Earth passes through the tail of a mysterious comet it causes all the machines in the world to turn against humans. It is set to an amazing AC/DC soundtrack. I think this semi was the reason I was so scared. And it had a giant clown on the back. And everyone knows that clowns are just creepy.
3) Nightmare on Elm Street- Okay, this one still scares the crap out of me. But in one of these movies I was on a date when I was about a sophomore. One part of the movie was Freddy's face on a pepperoni pizza. My date then proceeded to take me to a pizza place afterward. I'm pretty sure I didn't eat a thing.

I hope you celebrate Halloween with your favorite cheesy scary movie and your favorite candy!



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Scariest Place on Earth

One of my favorite things about Halloween is trying to find ways to scare myself silly. The bad news is that I don't scare easily, so the bar is really high on the terrifying front.

I generally find that my imagination is way worse than anything a movie can show me. It's usually in the hours after a scary movie that I'm actually frightened enough to check the doors and windows, not during the movie itself. Like when I watched Dawn of the Dead the other night.
Zombies Eat Ur Brainz
I was totally fine through all the blood and limb eating and accidental chainsaw attacks. But when the movie was over, my mind started to wander. I started making my own plans for the looming zombie-pocalypse. (And really wishing my car was full of gas and parked in the garage, so I could get to it without venturing outside.)

Most "scary" movies affect me that way. The only times I can remember being truly scared during a movie were the remake of Cape Fear (which I watched with my best friend in high school, and I think her fear was contagious)...
Bobby DeNiro is pretty darn scary.
...and Signs (but the fear vanished when we finally got to see the aliens, because M. Night Shyamalan's vision of scary is not mine).
Hello, Mr. Alien
A book, though... that's a whole different story. Books have the ability to scare me like nothing else, simply because a book exists entirely in my imagination. The most terrified I've even been was when I read And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.
Even the cover is scary!
I made the mistake of reading this when I was home alone in the two bedroom apartment I shared with three other employees at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Halfway through the book I literally had to get up to make sure all the doors and windows where locked and that all the closets and bathrooms were empty. I think what makes this book so frightening is that there doesn't seem to be an explanation for how everyone keeps dying. (And boy do they keep dying.) Even my imagination couldn't guess the answer. Doesn't get much scarier than that.

The bottom line is that there is no place scarier than your imagination (okay, maybe Tim Burton's imagination) and if you want to frighten yourself silly this Halloween, then head to the nearest bookstore or library and find a book that will truly terrify you.

Today there are two audience participation questions.

  1. Which scare you more, books or movies?
  2. What book would you recommend for fright night reading?


Monday, October 25, 2010

It’s a Gleek Halloween!

Like many people, I’ve fallen like the proverbial ton of bricks for the high school musical TV program, Glee. And this week (actually, tomorrow night), Glee is running their Halloween special, their own rendition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I had a coming attraction video I had planned to post here, but the website has taken it down. So instead I offer up the songs they will be performing:

1. Science Fiction Double Feature
2. Damn It, Janet
3. Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?
4. Sweet Transvestite
5. Touch a Touch a Touch a Touch Me
6. There’s a Light (Over at Frankenstein Place)
7. Time Warp

As well as a TV Guide quote from actor Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt: "I’ve loved Rocky Horror since I first saw it when I was 12. There is no point to it except being crazy and having a good time.”

Which is exactly what I am expecting from the Halloween episode--a good time!

So...tell us, are you a Gleek, too? And is this week's Glee show part of your Halloween celebration this year?


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

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scary Movies!

You're in for a scary treat as the Buzz Girls host a whole week of Halloween-themed posts. If you know me at all, you know that Halloween is my all-time favorite holiday. I love the costumes, haunted houses, candy, meals (click HERE for 2 of my favorite recipes), parties, and movies of the season. Today I'm going to share some of my favorite too-scary-to-watch-alone-at-night movies.


These are the oldies-but-goodies that are just as scary the first time I saw them as the tenth.

1. The Shining -- especially because I'm from Colorado and have been to the Stanley, where it's filmed.

2. The Exorcist

3. Rosemary's Baby


These movies are disgusting and highly disturbing but I'm not one to turn off the TV or leave the theater just because I'm squirming.

1. Hostel

2. Seven

3. Saw


Sorry, but I don't really have any favorite slasher movies. Do you?


'nough said.

1. Silence of the Lambs

2. The Ring

3. Poltergeist (I saw this one when I was a little girl and I had a Bozo clown very similar to the one in Carol Anne's room so maybe it wouldn't creep me out so much now, but it sure did back then!)

Scary Cool

These flicks are scary, sure, but they're also really cool in execution.

1. Sleepy Hollow (the 1999 one with Johnny Depp) Tim Burton does a great job adapting this freaky old story.

2. The Corpse Bride (okay, not too freaky but again, Tim Burton rocks)

3. Coraline

Scary Funny

1. Shaun of the Dead

2. Zombieland

3. Ghostbusters (I saw this for the first time as a little girl so I wasn't quite sure whether to be screaming or laughing, but it's a classic for sure)

What are some of your favorite scary movies?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Teen READ Week

The Bee's are celebrating ALA's Teen Read Week. Teen Read Week started in 1998.

Every year teens vote on their Top Ten. How many have you read?

1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

2. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

3. Heist Society by Ally Carter

4. Shiver by Maggie Shiefvater

5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

6. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

7. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

9. Fire by Kristin Cashore

10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

You can also vote on next years theme here.
However you celebrate Teen Read Week, try and make it contagious. Make the only text you see this week, the text out of a delicious novel. Happy reading!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Teen Read Week!

It's mid-October and just week and a half from Halloween. Yay! But an even cooler celebration happens this time of year --ALA's Teen Read Week. To celebrate we're posting about it all week long on BBB.

Today, I'm remembering my early teens, when books were the salvation and the escape from the horrible world of school life. My dad was a teacher at the local high school, which was only three blocks from my middle school. So, I would ride into work with him and then trek over to my m.s. on foot. I was often early, so I hid out in the library, working my way through a ton of mysteries and spy books. In the afternoon, I'd be subjected to riding home on the bus with the gross boys, bullies, mean girls, etc. But those mornings, when it was just me, the librarian, and a written world of escape, were precious.

I recently got a reader letter from a girl who'd enjoyed Never Cry Werewolf. She said that she loved the book because it helped her escape from the awful world of middle school. Isn't that cool and funny? That what I once treasured about others' books, this girl treasured about mine? I wrote back that my respite used to be reading in middle school, too - but now I used writing to find that same escape.

Reading is unlike any other activity I know. Readers and writers escape together in some way. We're both invested in the worlds we're creating in our minds and on the pages. I think that's a beautiful thing and it changed my life, starting in my teen years.

So how did you come to reading as a teen? What was or is your favorite place to escape with a book?

Happy Teen Read Week!

Never Cry Werewolf - HarperTeen
The Clearing - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Wherever You Go - Harcourt, Fall 2011

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Got the Beat

As Wendy introduced on Sunday, this week is the fabulous Teen Read Week™ sponsored by the ALA (American Library Association) and YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) and the theme for this year's week is...

Books with Beat @ your library®

As the Teen Read Week Wiki says, this theme is open to lots of interpretations. And, being a child of the 80s, my first thought is the Go-Go's (as interpreted by Kids Incorporated):

Now beats can mean a lot of different things. Heart beats. Music beats. Hoof beats. Bad beats (in poker). Beat downs (not such a good thing). Getting beaten (as in a race). Beat feet (to run away). Beat an egg (which I don't do anymore, since I'm vegan). And those are just the one that I can come up with. There are even more great theme ideas on the Teen Read Week Wiki.

Your turn. How would you interpret the 2010 Teen Read Week theme?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gearing Up for Teen Read Week

I love Teen Read Week! This year, I'm getting a head start by visiting 5 middle schools in my neighboring state of Idaho.
Then, on Friday, Oct. 30, I'll be joining a group of fabulous YA authors (Scott Westerfeld, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Sara Zarr, James Dashner, Bree Despain, Jessica Day George, Kristin Chandler, Carol Lynch Williams, Ally Condie, Ann Dee Ellis, Lisa Magnum, Sydney Saltar, Nathan Hale, Ann Cannon, Dene Lowe, Sheila Nielsen, J. Scott Savage, and Chris Crowe) at Provo City Library for Teen Book Fest. Click HERE for mo' info. If there's any way you can make it to Provo, Utah, you won't want to miss it.
What are YOU doing to celebrate Teen Read Week? And remember to stop by the blog all week to see what the other Bees are up to. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Finding a writing community

This week the Bee's are talking about the writing process. So far, we've discussed body language, inspiration, finding your process, and revising. All of the posts this week have been amazing and so full of information. If you haven't already, make sure you read all of them.

Writing can be a very solitary profession. Maybe you are the kind of person who can sit alone day after day, and not have it effect you. Maybe you are completely secure with your work and prefer not to have any feedback. I do not fall into either of these categories, nor do most writers I know. Most of us are completely insecure about our work, and crave companionship with others of our writer insecurus species.
Some people are lucky enough to live in an area where they can find a writing group or a local chapter of a writing organization like RWA, SBCWI, MWA, etc. For the rest of us, there's the Internet. There is a virtual group for any kind of writer, you just have to know where to look. I found my first group on Yahoo in 2005 (I think). I truly feel that this group is responsible for my success as an author. I found critique partners, agent and editor info, and networking through this group. If you are interested in writing YA, I highly recommend joining the teenlitauthors group on Yahoo!

In just a few weeks, NanoWriMo begins. For those of you who don't know what this is, it's National Novel Writing Month. It brings writers together in a forum for one month to inspire everyone to write a 50,000 word novel. There is just something about knowing that thousands of other people are working toward the same goal to motivate you. I am participating in Nano for the first time this year. You can friend other authors and keep track of everyone's word count and offer/receive encouragement.
I also love Verla Kay's blue boards, even though I don't get on as much as I would like.

As with anything, moderation is key. You don't want to spend so much time online that you are sacrificing your writing time. Other writers are some of the most giving, wonderful people I have ever met. I wish you luck finding an online community that supports you and your writing.



Writing Tips: Revision

This week, we bees are posting our favorite writing tips. So, if you or someone you love is crazy enough to want to write, send them here to get the scoop on how we do what we do.

My writing tips topic is near and dear to my heart. Revision - the ugly "R" word. Something a lot of people dread.

A lot of people will claim that their work is perfect as is - that they never need to revise. But if you really want to be an author, one of the most important jobs you have is to make your story better and stronger.

I spend a lot of time revising -- whether I’m writing a paranormal novel or something realistic. It’s an important way you improve the experience of your book (and your fictional world) for your reader. You want them to get the sharpest picture, the clearest image of what you’ve created.

Ok, so where do you begin? Whether you have completed a long short story or just finished a novel -- but the process is pretty much the same. Start by reading through the story and asking yourself some basic questions.

Does this make sense? Fiction has to make more sense than real life. You have to show why the characters do what they do. The choices they make in the story should be true to their personalities and motivations. If a character’s action seems unfounded, find a way to add clues for the reader - a line in a conversation, a small detail about the character’s environment - that back up the action. For example, someone who decides to become a ghost hunter might have paranormal research books in their room. Or maybe, they argue with a friend who doesn’t believe in ghosts in the first few pages of the story. You need to set things up so they make sense.

Are my characters likable? Remember that readers want to be rooting for your main characters. If your protagonist is always whiny, or feels sorry for herself, we are going to get sick of them quickly. Give them traits we can identify with, or show them doing something kind or noble. For example, maybe despite having a shy exterior your protagonist goes out of her way to defend someone in her class who’s being bullied -- okay, now we’re rooting for her.

Did I use interesting language and description? Check through the story for overused words and ditch them for more interesting ones. Get rid of some (not all) of the boring verbs like “walk” in favor of “saunter” or “stroll”. Make sure you’re including specific sounds (have you ever spelled “aaaaahhhoooooooooo!” for a werewolf?) and other sensory details your reader needs to imagine what you’re trying to tell us on the page. This includes the five senses, of course, but don’t forget in paranormals, we often need to feel that creepy foreboding -- something’s not quite right in the neighborhood anymore.

After you’ve gone through those questions, check for the regular stuff. You know what I mean here -- grammar, misspelled words, etc. It does make a difference, so if you’re not really great at this, ask a friend for help, check out dictionary and grammar sites on the web, or, crack open that dusty reference book on your shelf.

Get some Feedback. When you think the story is in good shape, you might want to show it to a friend or writing group you trust. Be brave! Get some feedback on the story from other storytellers. They will see things that you didn’t, and if you think they have valid points, you can use their feedback to tweak the story.

Be true to yourself.
Remember that this is your story. You are the artist. The things you’re trying to tell the world are important and real. Don’t ever change your story because of feedback that doesn’t resonate or make sense to you. Go with your gut, your heart -- and your sixth sense.

Do you love or hate to revise? Have any great revision tips? Share them in comments!



Never Cry Werewolf - HarperTeen
The Clearing - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Wherever You Go - Harcourt, Fall 2011

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Writing Tip: Find Your Process

Okay, so the title of this blog is kind of a misnomer, because I don't think you can actually find your one, single, absolute, perfect process. I've written a total of nine complete books at this point (not all of them published or publishable, obviously) and I've used almost as many processes.

For my first book, I plotted out a very specific and elaborate outline. For the next three, I knew my characters and their situation and just dove into the mist. Then I got an editor and she kinda wanted to know where things were going, so I started then next book with the end in mind. In the middle here I wrote an unpublished book that required a very specific structure, inherent to the story, and I had to walk a very strange and specific line in plotting.

Then my editor wanted to know even more about where things were going, so I broke out the big guns. For the next two books I used Michael Hauge's six step screenplay structure to plot my books ahead of time.

That worked pretty well... until I got to the latest book, the first in my Medusa series. I cannot count how many hours I spent trying to figure out how to structure this trilogy. I have three girls. I have three books. Each girl has an arc in each book. The girls have an overall arc that spans the trilogy. It's ten books in one. When I tried applying the Hauge structure to this mess my brain nearly imploded. In the end, I had to just start writing a train-of-thought synopsis, starting from the point where the book opened and guiding myself through ten pages of "and then this happens."

If I've learned anything in my several years and several books of writing it's that as soon as you think you have something figured out, it'll change on you. And you have to be open to that. You can't waste time trying to hammer an unruly story into a process that doesn't fit. If the Hauge structure works for this book, great. If it's better with Randy Ingermanson's the snowflake method, then try that. Or Chris Vogler's the hero's journey. Or Aristotle's three act structure. Or the monkey poo method of plot development.

(I don't recommend that last one, but, hey, if it works...)

The point is, each new book is a different world (and, honestly, you're a different writer) so you can't expect it to conform to the process that worked for any previous book. You're best bet is to just chuck everything you knew before and start fresh. Plot this book in the way that suits it best. It'll thank you in the morning. Hopefully with a nice, juicy publishing contract.


Monday, October 11, 2010

When the Words Stop Flowing

We are talking this week about writing tips, and I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring about the hard times, when the words stop flowing.

While there is no easy answer to days when the voices simply aren't there, here's a few tricks I try to get back in the game:

--Walk away. Do errands, take walk, a shower, cook a meal. And do NOT think about the book. For me, what often happens is the book slips back into my thoughts on its own.

--Turn to sugar and caffeine (a nice mocha latte?) which often jump starts my body and brain.

--Go read a book. Sometimes one I love--as well as one I don't--will inspire me to return to the keyboard, reminding me why I love to do what I do.

--Re-read what I've written so far, and do a little clean-up editing work. Just being in the story often helps me make new connections.

And when all this fails for me? I remind myself of Nora Roberts' famous quote (that I carry around on my keychain): "You can't edit a blank page." In other words, just get SOMETHING on that paper or computer screen to work with and from, even it seems horrible.

So now I'm calling out to other writers. What do you do when the words stop flowing?


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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Writing Tip: Use of Body Language

This week's topic is Writing Tips, and my tip is how and why to add body language into your writing. When done skillfully, your readers will find your characters are more interesting and your overall writing is more believable. Body language (or nonverbal communication), paired with a character's words (verbal communication) and thoughts, adds another layer to that character's personality. In essence, it helps bring the character to life in the mind of the reader.

Does a character's body language agree or disagree with what he's saying?

As a Speech Communication/Broadcast major and an actor, I'm always paying attention to how people's posture, gestures, eye movements, and facial expressions portray what they're REALLY thinking at any given moment. Sometimes their body language goes along with what they're saying. For example, a character yawns and the reader understands that he is bored or tired. On the flip side, certain movements can contradict what a character is saying. Some signs of dishonesty include: averting one's gaze, touching one's face, biting one's lower lip, blushing, fidgeting, twitching, scuffling feet, twirling one's hair, scratching, blinking (either more or less than normal), etc. As a reader, I think it's fun to try and figure out, based on what the author gives me, whether or not a character is being honest.

What movements are believable and interesting?

If a character doesn't care, she might shrug or turn her back on someone else. If a character is excited, he might actually jump a little and his voice might get louder. You can also think of movements that aren't quite as common (or cliche). Perhaps the character is in a windstorm and the entire time her boyfriend is breaking up with her, she's preoccupied with the futile task of keeping her hair looking nice. (Hmm, I kinda like that scene. Lots of intrigue. Might have to use it someday! LOL) Or think of other ways to describe some of the more common body language. Maybe a smile can be described as a wry grin? A sexy smirk? A wolfish sneer?

When deciding what body language to use for a character, there are many things to consider so it comes across as believable. Here are a few things to get you thinking along these lines:

1. Gender. If your 40 year -old male character flutters his eyelashes, he will come across as feminine. How characters sit, stand, and walk can also suggest that they're masculine or feminine. Be careful not to go over the top, though. For example, if your male character is always grunting, spitting, and grabbing his crotch, you need to ask yourself if guys REALLY do that stuff, at least so often.
2. Age. Younger people typically express themselves more enthusiastically and with less inhibition. For example, a three year-old wouldn't think twice about jumping up and down and shouting, "I gotta pee!" for the whole restaurant to hear, whereas an adult would probably (hopefully) excuse him- or herself discreetly.
3. Attire. A woman in stilettos will trudge through the woods with more difficulty than one in hiking boots. Conversely, a woman who's used to wearing stilettos will be more graceful in them at the ball than a girl who's only ever worn hiking boots.

Of course, this is just a short list, but basically you'll need to know your characters well to keep their body language believable.

How can body language help a writer "Show, Don't Tell"?
Adding body language is a great way to obey the "Show, Don't Tell" maxim.

a) "Please don't go," Bertha says sadly. (Telling)
b) Bertha wipes the tears off her face. "Please don't go." (Showing)

a) Casey was infuriated. (Telling)
b) Casey clenched his hands into fists and his face turned crimson. (Showing)

a) Penelope wasn't happy to see fried chicken on her dinner plate. (Telling)
b) Penelope took one look at the fried chicken on her plate and hurled it across the kitchen. (Showing)

In the above examples, the same (or at least very similar) information is being shared, yet the second examples (b) are more interesting and offer new insight into the character.

Does your character have a signature move?
In addition to weaving body language into your writing, you might want to invent a signature movement for your character.

I remember when one of my friends told me he'd seen me standing in the parking lot from his dorm room some fifteen stories high. My boyfriend and I had just been in a wreck and the emergency personnel was checking out my boyfriend to make sure he was okay. My friend could tell it was me way down there because of the way I held my right arm straight down and grasped my right forearm with my left hand. It's what I always did whenever I was nervous about something, he'd said. I'd never noticed it before then, but he was right. It's one of my signature poses, and if a writer were to write a story about me, he or she'd want to describe the position of my arms when my character is nervous.

Maybe your character, a 16 year-old female cheerleader, is always smacking her gum. Maybe your newly turned vampire is constantly touching his fangs. Perhaps your Victorian-era duchess is prone to giggling when she's in the presence of her crush. Maybe your 800 year-old alien blinks his single eye verrrrrry slowly when he's trying to comprehend English, or your grandmother character tends to dab her nose with her deceased husband's handkerchief when she's thinking of him (her late husband, not the alien).

Giving your characters signature movements is a great way to help your readers get to know them.

What are some easy and effective ways to fine-tune your character's body language?

Sure, there are many books you can read to learn more about kinesics, the study of body language. But even if you just observe people in their natural settings, you'll see what kind of movements they do and under what circumstances. Then you can transfer those gestures and movements into your writing.

You can also pay attention to a talented actor in a movie or on a TV show. Some movie characters that are excellent examples of how body language can help develop a character are: Cap'n Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean (his walk), Bridget in Bridget Jones' Diary (her fidgeting), Kevin McCallister in Home Alone (his scream-face), James Bond in various Bond movies (his posture and poise), and Shrek in Shrek (his charmingly bashful smile).

A final note
Now that I've hopefully got you thinking of ways you can weave body language into your writing, make sure you use it sparingly so it isn't too overbearing. A good way to check is to read your scene out loud or have someone else read it for you. Remember, integrating physical movements into your writing is meant to add to what's being said or thought, not take attention away from what's being said or thought. Writing is something you'll get better at the more you practice, and using body language is a great method to get your readers into your story.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Hot for Teacher

Yesterday I had my Parent-Teacher conferences for both of my sons. I basked in the glow of all the wonderful things that both their teachers had to say about them. And thanked God that they didn't behave at school like they do most of the time at home. :)

My sons attend the same school that I graduated from. I got to thinking about how much things have changed since I was in school. One of the biggest changes of all is the teachers themselves. When I was in school, all of the teachers were ridiculously old and grouchy. I'm not kidding. I think my second grade teacher was like ninety. I was a shy bookworm, so I fared just fine, but some of my more rambunctious schoolmates met with the wooden paddle quite often (can you believe this was ever allowed?).

(I got straight A's twice in fifth grade. I'm kind of proud of that. )

While I browsed the halls yesterday I realized how ridiculously good-looking a significant amount of the teachers were. Seriously. It is like a smorgasbord for the eyes around those halls. And each and every one of them is patient and kind. You even see some of them on the playground at recess with the kids. And yes, they do get paid extra for this, but they could stand there doing nothing just making sure no one impales them self on the playground equipment, but instead they actually "play" with the kids. This has given my children an opportunity to see their teachers as people and not just teachers. Sure, they still act like freaks if we see their teachers at the mall, but I truly believe it has made them better learners. A mother can dream, can't she?

Did you have crush on a teacher in grade school?



E-Books Controversy Strikes Again

On Tuesday, the NY Times had an article about the price of E-books on Amazon. Best-selling author Ken Follett’s new book had a hardcover price of around $19.39, but the Kindle electronic version was $19.99.

The fallout was dramatic, with readers actually slamming Ken in the reviews of the book because of the outrageous e-price. But in fact, the publisher sets its own price for electronic versions, so it really wasn’t the author’s fault. Add to that the cheaper price on the hardcover (which Amazon sets) and you can see why readers were confused and incensed.

I know more and more teens who read on Kindle. It’s bringing more kids to books, which is a great thing. That said, making it more expensive to enjoy a book is a terrible idea -- both for readers and authors.

Do you use a Kindle or E-reader? I don’t. I’m not saying that I ever won’t, but for right now, I’m still in love with the old fashioned experience, no batteries required. Plus, I spend all day on my computer, so I don’ t want to have more screen time when I read for pleasure. I know people who love their Kindles, but I love the sound of turning book pages, the smell of the ink, the way you can read for hours if you want.

There is room for both, of course, providing the books are affordable for everyone. This kind of crazy pricing makes no senses -- especially when publishers don't have the expense of paper, printing, shipping, etc. It's digital for a reason, remember? Physical books at the library are free -- you may have to wait a little while, but the price is worth it. And if you buy a physical book, you can read it, love it, and either pass it on, or keep it on your shelf to enjoy again.

The future is not so far away, though -- can you imagine your local library loaning limited-time Kindle downloads as if you were checking out books? I’m sure it’s only a matter of time...

Would you pay $19.39 for a e-book? I really want to know.

Happy Reading,

P.S. Pug/Kindle photo taken by amazing author Alyssa Day and starring Daisy.
Never Cry Werewolf - HarperTeen
The Clearing - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Wherever You Go - Harcourt Fall 2011

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Is it seriously already October?

Hey, hey, hey!'s October already. Where has this year gone? Wheeeeeeeeee!!!

You must forgive me as I'm wicked busy this week planning events and booking travel. As you can imagine, October is "Christmas season" for us ghost we're in great demand!

So, while I'm busy RSVPing to invitations to speak and such, I'm gonna let you win a copy of my "Halloween" book: GHOST HUNTRESS: THE GUIDANCE.

Leave a comment in the trail about what you plan to go as this Halloween...or, if you're not dressing up, then tell us the best costume you've done in the past. For me, it would have to be when I went as a Navy Blue Crayola. LOL!!

Winner will be announced next Wednesday!

Marley = )

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Why I Still Go To Conferences

This weekend I attended the terrific Emerald City Writer's Conference in Bellevue, Washington. Technically, this is a joint trip to speak at the conference and to hunt for potential apartments for my upcoming move. But even if I hadn't been apartment hunting I'd still attend this and other writing conferences.

Now, since I'm a multi-published author with an agent, an editor, and various deadlines, you might think that I don't need to spend the time and money to go to conferences anymore. And, in one regard, you'd be right. I don't need to attend for the same reasons as when I was first writing. I don't need to pitch my book to agents and editors, desperate for someone to love the story as much as I did. I don't need to learn the basics of publishing, craft, promotion, market, and all those other things that are so important to a writer's education.

Conferences have other things to offer, though, beyond the networking and educational opportunities. Things that you couldn't buy with all the money of a New York Times bestseller.

  1. Inspiration -- Keynote speeches never fail to make me cry, even the funny ones. As I sit there and listen to how writing or reading has affected the speaker's life (Barbara Vey) or what obstacles the speaker has overcome to reach this point (Alyssa Day) or even research and anecdotes about the power of belief and courage and creativity (Brenda Novak), I can't help feeling that the work I do is important. That I'm very lucky to be on this path in the career I love so much. That I'm proud of the work I do, of the people who help me do it, and of the readers who help me keep doing it.
  2. Motivation -- Maybe it's because I'm an extrovert, but something about being around dozens (hundreds) of other writers just fills me with writing energy. When I attend a workshop with new tips on time management or a clever new way to plot or first-hand insights on writing forty-seven books a year, I walk away super motivated to put that new knowledge into practice. Right now I'm chomping at the bit to start on Secret Project IW--but I have to wait until my revision is done, darn it!
  3. Shared experience -- Since the very first writing conference I attended, when I heard one of my favorite, ultra-bestselling authors stand up and say that at the end of each writing day she thought she'd produced the worst pile of poo ever written and that soon the world would realize this and take away all her contracts and bestseller titles and she'd never write again. Then, the next day, she reads it over and thinks that it's not so bad, but the next pages... To know that every writer at every stage and at every level of success suffers the exact same fears and doubts that I do just makes me feel... better.
I guess my point is that there are some quantifiable benefits to writing conferences (like meeting agents and learning craft) and others are unquantifiable. Others aren't as tangible, but just as important. So no matter what level I reach or how many books I write or how busy I get, I'll always make time for conferences.


Monday, October 04, 2010

A Quarter of a Century!

I don’t do many personal posts here at the Buzz Girls’ Blog, but this past weekend, my husband and I celebrated a landmark--our 25th wedding anniversary--and I want to share!

Here is a picture of us, “back in the day,” on October 2, 1985, in Arrowhead, California:

To celebrate, we’re going to spend a romantic week in Hawaii-- but not just yet. Between his work schedule and making sure our kids and cats and home are properly attended to, we need to hold off a bit.

So as we anticipate our “silver anniversary” trip, perhaps some of you could help us with “silver”, “the silver light of the moon?” Anything else come to mind?


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

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

While Andy Williams might argue with me, I think early autumn is the most wonderful time of the year.

Where I live in Utah, there are all sorts of trees covering the mountains, so they are spectacularly multicolored come late September/early October.

Here are some other things I love about this time of year:

Footall season (Go Broncos!)

Seasonal foods and drinks like soup, pumpkin rolls, spice cake (with cream cheese frosting), red wine, and hot tea

Fall fashion (especially boots)
Halloween (costumes and candy, what's not to love?)

Warm days, chilly nights (perfect for snuggling up with someone you love)

What's your favorite time of year, and why?