Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Maybe you didn’t know that as a kid, I was a Girl Scout, and then as a mother, I was a Girl Scout leader. And that my favorite activities at both times included selling (and eating!) Girl Scout cookies.

And of course, it’s Girl Scout Cookie time again. As usual, I will buy from neighborhood girls and my nieces, and yet I always seem to "need" an extra box or two from Scouts selling outside of the supermarket. (And Thin Mints freeze so well...)

But this week, I happened upon some startling cookie news: the Girls Scouts have decided to only sell six kinds, saying they are cutting back on variety to make their sales more profitable.

Here are the six types of cookies they are still selling:

Thin Mints
Lemon Chalet Crèmes

I am breathing easy because these six include my favorites. But gone are the chocolate chip, the vanilla, the berry, the sugar-free...and I am right in remembering something with gingerbread at one point?

So tell us, does this cookie list include your favorite? Are there some that you will miss?

What I’m Reading: Mini Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella


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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What Happens in Vegas and at Sundance ...

It's been a crazy-fun couple of weeks, starting with a trip with just my husband and I to Las Vegas. The first two days, we stayed at the Luxor (the big black pyramid casino on the strip) and I shopped while he was in meetings. Each night, we got to join his colleagues for fancy dinners like steak and seafood. Then we headed over to one of my favorite areas, Lake Las Vegas, where we stayed at a peaceful, luxurious hotel and went on long strolls in the sunny, 65 degree afternoons. Since I've never been to Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon, we took the short roadtrip and experienced both. Then we came home and played catch-up for a couple of days, until Sundance Film Festival came to town.

As you might have guessed, the Sundance Film Festival is one of my favorite events of the year. Last night, I got to go to a reception with some delicious munchies and then a big group of us "Valley Locals" rode down to Ogden (Utah) in a trolley. (Well, this year it was a Powder Mountain bus, but in the past it's been an actual trolley.) So, after having grabbing some chocolate to go, we rode the bus (it felt a lot like elementary school, with singing and carrying on-- good times) and went to the screening of "Like Crazy." It was about a cute, barely out of college couple, a girl from England and boy from the U.S., who struggle to stay faithful and question whether they're in love when an entire ocean separates them. A looooooong distance relationship story with lots of good conversation-sparkers. Did I love it? No. But I liked it. It was well done and not too cheesy.

Then my husband and I drove about an hour to Park City, where the awesome house deejay Kaskade was getting the entire club of Harry-O's dancing. Seriously, if Kaskade is ever in your neck of the woods, check him out. Fab-u-lous! (Marley would agree. We got to see him in New York.)

On Saturday night, we went to the late night showing of "Life in a Day," which was my number one choice of all the films to see this year. It's the result of an earthwide invitation for people to submit footage (via YouTube) of what was going on on a certain date, July 24, 2010. (Get it? 24-7) And then some really talented film people made a montage of these slices of life. I cried, laughed (loudly), got queasy, got a tickly feeling, felt warm--my emotions ran the whole gamut. I talked about it the whole drive home, and then thought about it all night and talked about it some more (to my husband's delight) this morning. Did I love this one? Heck yeah!

And to keep this perfect weekend going strong, I'm about to go snowboarding with my family!
So ... what have you been up to this weekend?

What I'm reading: Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Friday, January 28, 2011

I'm kind of a geek like that.

I'm just going to admit it. I like doing my taxes. There is just something about those forms, a couple of sharpened pencils, and the instruction manuals that weigh as much as a small dog that get me excited every year.
I used to think it was because I knew I would be getting a big check back. Then I realized that I just really enjoyed how cut and dry the rules are. There is no wiggle room. Either you are eligible for the deduction or you aren't. You have to double and triple check your work because let's face it, if you make a mistake in your favor, they'll come calling. But if you make a mistake in their favor, they'll consider it a tip and move on.

Most of my friends cringe when they hear that I don't use Turbo Tax or any software. But it just wouldn't be the same without the paper forms. I have a feeling that I'm going to be forced to file electronically within the next few years though. But for now I've got my stack of forms and instruction manuals piled high on my kitchen table.

Confession time: What 'geeky' chore do you secretly enjoy?

ps-Taxes aren't due until April 18 this year, so you can put it off a few more days!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Watch what you say!

I ran across an interesting article online from the Wall Street Journal regarding things that are said in social media circles and how it can effect one's employment status. Check it out.

My dear old dad always told me growing up, "Don't put in writing what you wouldn't want the whole world to see." He's right. I've always tried to operate this way in my life. However, Facebook, Twitter, and blogging changed everything.

We are a society of immediacy. We drive through to get our food. We Red Box our movies. We file our income tax online. We don't like to think things over too long or wait for results. Has this resulted in stifling our own internal sensor as to what is and isn't appropriate to say?

(This teacher said she was fired because of a Facebook photo of her on her European vacation holding alcohol. Let's remember...she's of age and it's legal to drink. So why was she fired for that?)

My friend, Pam, is an executive recruiter and she tells me that not only do employers look people up online (website, blog, Twitter, FB) before interviewing them, but schools also look at potential students' sites to see what kind of addition they'll be to campus life.

Is this right? Is Freedom of Speech gone wild? Or is it an infrigement of your rights to have to be accountable for everything you say online.

Just because we CAN say whatever we want, does that mean we SHOULD?

Sure, we've all encountered the school beyotch who made life unbearable at times. We've all had the fat cat of a boss who manages you with a heavy hand. Is it appropriate to Tweet or FB every emotion related to dealing with these people?

It's a slippery slope and one that it seems the courts will start hashing out.

What do you think? What does your "digital" or "virtual social footstep" say about you?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Marley = )

Ghosts don't hang up their sheets after Halloween!
GHOST HUNTRESS series - The Awakening, The Guidance,
The Reason, The Counseling - available now!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Learning By Doing

Today I am filling in for my dad (who is sadly on his way, with my mom, to the arctic northeast) by teaching his set design class. My job: To help the students learn how to use Photoshop.

I have never taken a class in Photoshop or any other graphic design medium, but I am a self-taught Photoshopper. I design my own websites and bookmarks, I do the web designs and promo literature for my parents and occasionally help out friends with an ad or postcard design. I feel like I'm pretty Photoshop-proficient.

The main difference between being self-taught and professionally trained, I think, is the ability to teach others. If someone says "Can you teach me Photoshop?" or "Show me how to create a website!" I pretty much stink. I can't sit down and say "Okay, first thing you have to do is..." I can solve almost any problem, answer any question that comes up, but I can't just teach someone Photoshop.

I wonder if it is the same with writing. Although I learned to write from a series of fab and not-so-fab teachers, I learned to craft story all on my own. I read craft books and went to workshops and studied articles and analyzed the stories of others to learn from their art. I can answer questions that aspiring writes pose, but I've never sat down and tried to teach someone else, start to finish.

So tell me? Are you a self-taught master of ... something? What and how did you teach yourself? Do you think you could teach others to do it too? I'm curious.


Location:OSU Theatre Design Lab

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kindle and Me: A Love Story

Buoyed by the news of my first book being released in e-format, in November of 2007, I bought a Kindle. I soon learned I’d been “lucky” to get one for the holiday season, that they’d sold out much faster than Amazon expected.

But once I got it opened and downloaded a couple of books, whether I was lucky or not was up for interpretation. I found myself more focused on the e-reader than the books, which seemed to be defeating the entire purpose.

Three years have passed. I’ve downloaded the occasional book, particularly those available only in e-format. I’ve figured out the basics: how to move around, change the font, convert .pdfs, etc. But still, the Kindle would sit quietly for weeks and sometimes months on a shelf. Did I like it? Not really. But I didn’t exactly dislike it, either.

Now, I need to add that I’m a big Sophie Kinsella fan, and her book, Remember Me? was the test-case I had used on my Kindle. But as time has passed, I realized that I barely remembered the story at all, and last month, I decided to power the Kindle up and give that book another go. And was I glad I did. Without focusing on the nuts and bolts of the e-reader, I found the book absolutely charming!

So when I got a call last week that my son had been in a snowboarding accident, in my rush to get to the hospital--and knowing there’d likely be a lot of downtime in my immediate future--I’d had the wherewithal to grab my Kindle.

And right from the first night, while he slept and I tried to stay calm and focused, that Kindle kept me company. I used the internet function to deliver a virtual bookstore to the hospital room. I looked over Top 100 lists, then at different authors’ books, occasionally pushing the “download the first chapter” button.

Over the next week in the hospital, as he grew stronger and my concentration improved, that Kindle stayed with me. During down periods, I read through those first chapters and purchased and read a humorous memoir by Nora Ephron (perhaps best known for penning “When Harry Met Sally” and “You’ve Got Mail”). I texted friends for more recommendations, and checked those out, as well. I re-read a Stephen King novella I’d downloaded early on (which I didn’t remember very well, either.)

The short of it being, when I needed it, the Kindle was there for me. Offering me the best of all distractions: a world of books.

Now we’re home and my son is doing great. While I am threatening to take an ax to his snowboard, I am also thinking of upgrading to the newest Kindle. Because while I know my love will never lessen for paperbound books, having a virtual bookstore at my fingertips in a time of great stress was “just what the doctor” ordered for me!

How about you? Have you "made friends" with your e-reader?

What I’m Reading: My Soul to Take, Rachel Vincent


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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Learning Something New

One of the great things I did for myself last year was to enroll in an Italian language class. I was writing my new book, Wherever You Go, which has an Italian grandpa, so I really wanted to know more about the language and culture - and I thought it would be a romantic, fun experience with my then boyfriend.

The boyfriend didn't last, unfortunately, but the Italian did.

One of the hardest and best decisions I made was to keep going, even though he had decided not to go anymore with me. And now, I'm working on plans to visit Italy sometime this spring - a trip I've always wanted to take.

It's very tempting to give up when plans fall through, when life presents you with a challenge you didn't expect, when things get difficult. But when you decide to do things that you want to do for yourself - that can be a game changer.

I love the sound of Italian. I love doing the homework assignments, word geek that I am. I love the people that I'm learning the language with and see each week. But most of all, I love that I didn't give up.

Have you studied a new language recently? What tips can you share to make it easier for a girl like me?


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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Crock Pot Saves the Day

For those of you who religiously read our blog here, you know that I'm a foodie, through and through, and adore cooking. But, when I'm on deadline for a new book (25 days to be exact!) and lock myself into the writing cave, how do people get fed?

In fact, a friend on Facebook asked me, "how in the world do you write and cook?"

The answer is simple: Crock Pot.

(My carnitas that was muy excellente!)

Okay, I'll admit that I was slow to jump on the crock pot wagon. My ex never wanted me to get one because 1) he didn't want something plugged in and on all day while we were away, and, 2) he didn't believe it actually cooked the meat to a proper temperature. While I agree mostly with the first point, the second point couldn't be more incorrect. Crock pots totally cook the meat to a proper temperature. It just takes...time.

And when I'm in the blood fever of writing my book, time isn't necessarily on my side. I'm the world's biggest procrastinator, so I'm always working my tailfeathers off to get the book done...always on time. Writing RADIATE is no different.

With the crock pot, I can toss something together in the late morning or early afternoon and then when us night owls are ready to eat around 9-10-ish, voila...a complete meal. LIke last night's beef stew!

So...if you're working hard on a book and don't think you can get a decent, nutritional, hot meal on the table for your family? Think again. Try a crock's no...crock. LOL!

Leaves me more time to write...with the help of my two new muses, Madi and Boo.

Would love any recipes anyone would like to share! This is a whole new world for me.

Marley = )

Ghosts don't hang up their sheets after Halloween!
GHOST HUNTRESS series - The Awakening, The Guidance,
The Reason, The Counseling - available now!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Plague Be Gone

Today is the first day I feel like I can be back at 100% after nearly two weeks (!) of being sick. I hate being sick--who doesn't, I know--but I resent it more than usual this time because I had such plans for starting the new year off on super productive foot. And now I'm two weeks behind.
Orange Juice
Mmm, vitamin C goodness...

My general remedy for illness is sleep. When I start to feel myself getting sick (achy back, runny nose) then I try to drop everything, go to bed early, and get at least a few bonus hours of sleep on top of the regular eight. This time ... I didn't do that. I ignored the signs and my body made me pay for it. I won't ignore them again!

Anyway, my question of the day is: What do you do when you're sick? What's your favorite home remedy or guaranteed cure? Do you sleep a lot, down plenty of OJ and echinacea, or are you an over-the-counter meds person?


Friday, January 14, 2011

Me, Myself, and I.....

I have a dirty little secret. I like being alone. I mean I really, really like it. I'm just realizing this about myself as I am coming out of nearly six years of NEVER being alone. Both of my kids are in school full time now so I actually have a few hours a day without someone needing their butt wiped, their meal cut up, shoe tied, or nose cleaned. I say a few hours because my husband is still home most of the time that they are gone. So I do still spend most of the morning answering the question, 'What'cha doin?' about a hundred times.

I'm still not used to having any 'time off'. When I go and stroll around the mall, wandering aimlessly nowhere near the pet store or the playground, I feel sort of guilty. But excited at the same time. I can only equate it with my days as a teen when I would take liberties with my curfew. It felt awesome to stay out later but then I would hold my breath as I neared my house, praying that the lights weren't on.

Last week I set out on an innocent errand to drop a deposit at the bank. My husband was at home taking a nap (which he does everyday before work and I can guarantee you he never feels guilty about) and I had about three hours to kill. As I was dropping off my deposit, I noticed people going into the movie theater. I had forgotten that even though my kids had to go back to school some of the other schools were still off, and the movie theater was still showing early afternoon movies which they normally only do on the weekends.

(Wouldn't dinner and a movie be awesome?)

A guilty thought fluttered through my mind. That could be me. Seeing a movie that wasn't animated. Not going to the restroom even once. Sitting wherever I wanted. Not sharing my popcorn and drink.

I couldn't. What kind of a woman sneaks off to a movie by herself in the middle of the day? As I contemplated this, I parked my car in a place where no one would happen by and see it. You would have thought I was having an affair the way I dashed into the theatre. Armed with a small buttered popcorn and small drink, which cost as much as a week of school lunches, I snuck into the theatre. I was still a bit freaked out that I might see someone who knew me. I'm not sure exactly what I thought they would say but I still wanted to avoid such a confrontation.
I realized as I picked the perfect seat that I was completely alone. Not another soul had ventured out on this cold January afternoon to see The Tourist. I was nearly giddy as I had my way with my snacks. It was nearly two hours of bliss. For the first time in a long time, my mind was lost in the movie and not the worries and responsiblities of my life. Well, as lost as it can be while still gripping my cell phone (set on vibrate, of course) in one hand.

I felt refreshed after leaving that day. The movie was okay. Johnny Depp isn't nearly as hot as he used to be. And the theatre kind of smelled like pee. But I had done something for myself and I felt good about it. That's when I realized that I had absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. I'm constantly trying to make my kids, husband, and others happy but I hadn't done it for myself in a long time. Of course I still didn't really mention where I'd spent my day.....

How do you treat yourself? Are you comfortable going to the movies or eating out by yourself?

What I'm reading...just finished The Flappers: Vixen by Jillian Larkin


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Only Constant is Change...

Oh, how I miss summer! Here's a picture of beautiful Myrtle Edwards Park in Seattle, right on the Sound, on a sunny day in August. In the Northwest, we've just been through a brief snowstorm, like much of the country, and I'm pining for the warmth of the sun...

Thankfully, the seasons will change. Just like with everything in life, change is imminent. You wait a little and then boom, everything's different.

The new year has had a few changes for me already - my cover for Wherever You Go is undergoing a makeover, I'm looking at moving to a new apartment soon, things at my day job office are changing, I'm getting ready to launch a new author website. And who knows what else is coming my way? You can bet that the moment you think something is settled, it's so not. That's what makes life fun and frustrating in alternating amounts.

Anyway, spring is coming eventually, and many of the Buzz Girls will be headed to Los Angeles for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention to participate in the special Teen Day signing and festivities. That's one thing I'm really looking forward to this spring.

How about you? What are you looking forward to in the early part of this year?


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

P.S. This week for fun I am reading: Spy Games by Gina Robinson

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beautiful word: commitment

I'm busy, busy, busy working on my Spring 2012 book, RADIATE, and wanted to do a fly-by post. As I posted earlier, my sweetie proposed and we're getting married this year...that's an amazing commitment. And it gets even stronger as we just committed to a huge undertaking: kitty parents.

Meet Madison Leeny (Madi in back) and Smokey Farquar Booreguard IV (Boo in front), the newest additions to our family. We rescued them from Polly's Pet Shelter in Los Angeles, CA, after I read of their heartbreaking story online.

Madi and Boo were born to a feral mommy on Thanksgiving. A lady was watching out for the small family and leaving food out for them. She was going to wait until the kittens (three of them) were eight weeks old before taking them to the shelter. Sadly, when the babies were five weeks old, a stray dog attacked and killed the mommy and their sibling. Madi and Boo escaped unharmed, but were left orphaned. Fortunately, Polly's Pet Rescue took them in and simply by a pure miracle, I decided to look for kittens for adoption while we were staying in Los Angeles. It only took three days after the initial e-mail for the transaction to be completed.

Now Madi and Boo live very happily in the RV with us, playing and running, chasing each other, batting the balls around, and sleeping any time they want. They are an amazing addition to our family and we have fully committed to their health and well-being. They are vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and microchipped.

Commitment comes in many forms...and I'm pleased to dedicate myself to these two little bundly puffs of love in my life. I write RADIATE!

Do you have a new kitten or puppy in your life? Tell us about the joys of your pets.

Marley = )

Ghosts don't hang up their sheets after Halloween!
GHOST HUNTRESS series - The Awakening, The Guidance,
The Reason, The Counseling - available now!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Advice to Newly- and Soon-to-Be-Published Authors

(Blog topic by special request of soon-to-be-published Suzanne Lazear.)

There is nothing more exciting or more terrifying for a writer than the launch of her first book. It is the culmination of years spent dreaming, crying, and working hard hard hard. Other people (aka those not related or otherwise known to you) will finally be reading your words. For anyone about to venture down this path (or hoping to in the near future) here are my words of wisdom, based on my experience.


It's easy to get swept up in the idea the promotion will make a book a hit. As authors we control so little in this business, so much of our fate lies in the hands of others, I think we grab onto promotion as something we can do to direct our path. The hard truth is that there are two ways for a book to become a hit. Either it gets an astronomical push from the publisher (who can do more with their pinky finger than you could with your entire advance and every waking hour) or it builds by word of mouth. Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games weren't bestsellers out of the bat. They took time to build. People talked. Friends told friends "You have to read this!" And they did. The only way get word of mouth is to write the best, most compelling book you can.

You Can't Do Nothing

Okay, so it's true that an author is expected to do more than just turn in a well-written book. Very few can get away with the hermit life, completely shut off from the public world, and still expect to have a successful career. (And since you're here, reading this blog, I'm guessing you're not one of those people.) At a very minimum, you need to have a website or blog, with a way for readers, reviewers, librarians, and booksellers to find out more about you, your books, and how to contact you. It doesn't have to be super shmancy or crazy expensive. Just something clean, easy to navigate, and that reflects your writing voice.

Let Them Read Words

As I said in my first point, word of mouth is the best promotion you can get. And the only way to build word of mouth is to let people read something so they can talk about it. Whether it's posting an excerpt on your website, sharing a bonus short story related to your book, a regular blog, or just flat out giving books and ARCs away (I cannot count how many copies of my books I've given away in the past three years), give as many people as possible an opportunity to read your words. If the words are enough, they'll buy your next book and the ten after that. If they aren't... well, then make sure that they are in the next book.

Keep Looking Ahead

Besides making sure this book is the very best book you can make it, the next best thing you can do is write the next book. Whether it's a contracted sequel, something new in the genre, or something altogether different, keeping moving forward. You never know when you will find that magic spark. Ally Carter published two chick lit novels before finding her niche with her bestselling Gallagher Girls series. Suzanne Collins wrote a successful middle grades series before writing her phenomenal Hunger Games trilogy. Susan Beth Pfeffer wrote... holy cow, I don't know how many books before Life As We Knew It, but she's publishing her 77th this year! The point is, don't get complacent with where you're at. Always look for exciting challenges and new directions. Who knows where the next book will take you?

So, in summary, my advice for authors who want a career in publishing:

  • write the best book you can
  • make yourself accessible online
  • let people read your words
  • make the next book even better

Anything beyond this basic list (blogging, vlogging, bookmarks, Twitter, Facebook, whatever's next...) is bonus. Do them if you enjoy them. Don't if they make you cringe. It's as simple as that. Don't waste your energy on something you hate. Save it for the next book.

Others have given great(er?) advice before me. Kiersten White dished hers recently. I can't find specific posts, but I'm sure Diana Peterfreund and Justine Larbalastier have excellent ones buried in their archives. Take theirs and mine with a grain of salt, because we can each only speak from our personal experience, and there are always exceptions to every rule. But I've seen enough common threads in my path, the paths of my friends, and those that others have shared online to believe that these are true and universal.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Favorite Words?

Last week we talked about lists: favorites, to-do’s, resolutions. Today I have a list of another kind: favorite words.

This started the other day while musing my work-in-progress. I heard myself mentally use the word unbeknownst (“happening or occurring without the knowledge of someone specified”). And it sort of stopped my clock. I looked it up and found out its first known usage was in 1636. And that its more common synonym is unknown. Still, give me unbeknownst any day!

Anyway, this spurred me on to recall some of my other favorite words:

Doppelganger (“tangible double of a person living”)
Effervescent (“fizzy”)
Gleek (“to joke” or “to be a fan of the TV show Glee!”)
Popinjay (“talkative or conceited person”)
Smithereens (“fragments”)
Tchotchke (“trinket”)

And what do you know? Another list was born!

How about you? Any favorite words?


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

Sunday, January 09, 2011

"A Tragedy for our Entire Country"

That is what President Obama said about the shooting in Arizona yesterday morning. Here is one version of the story the AP released: CLICK HERE but I'm sure you've heard about it so I won't go into details. Basically, the gunman was out to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She, along with thirteen others, were wounded. Six were killed.

Of course there will be fallout about gun control, Democrats Vs. Republicans, the Tea Party, perhaps even smoking pot (as the shooter was known to do). Anything we can cling on to to try and make sense of why someone would go on a shooting spree.

The other day, my husband and I were watching Grey's Anatomy. It was an episode about a kid who went on a shooting rampage at a local college. Happily but unrealistically, no one died. The biggest conflict occurred when a patient in major surgery was identified as the shooter. Half of the doctors left, choosing to help the victims instead of the shooter. But two remained, taking their Hippocratic oaths to heart. Then it showed what was going on in the waiting room, which of course was filled with the friends and family of the victims. And the mother of the shooter. As she's waiting to hear if her son is alive or dead, the police take her away for questioning. Of course she is mortified. But she's still a mother. No one is sitting with her, not a single doctor is giving her updates on her son's condition. The woman keeps it together a lot better than most people in her shoes would, I believe. Then, as she's sitting there in her own private hell, a doctor approaches her (one of the ones who left the surgery room before) and gives her the news she so badly wants to hear: her son is still alive. At that very moment, that's all she cared about. Her baby was still alive.

I think a lot of times when we struggle to make sense of why such horrific tragedies happen, we look to other stories we're familiar with. Some are ground in factual history (Columbine), some might be Biblical, others are fictionalized accounts (like the Grey's Anatomy episode).

Personally, I'm not going to blame any one political view or a young man's drug habit. I'm not going to demand stricter legislation for guns. Not now. Right now, I'm praying for everyone involved, either directly or by association. I truly believe that's how I can make a difference.

Friday, January 07, 2011

To Do Lists, Sticky Notes, Post It's, Oh My!

I used to be a very organized person. I never forgot anything and I never had to rely on lists or notes to remember birthdays, chores, or grocery store staples. I blame technology (all those passwords and user names floating around in my head that I refuse to write down) and raising kids. I used to only have to remember MY stuff, now I have to remember my husband's and my kids stuff. After getting home from the grocery store yesterday and realizing that I had bought yet ANOTHER package of tortillas when I already had FOUR brand-new packages, I realized it might be time to stop being so stubborn and start making lists.
(I hope I won't ever need this one but I thought it was hilarious!)

It's not that I'm totally against making lists, I actually do it all the time. The problem is I usually either leave the note at home or have no idea what I was trying to tell myself because of my creative shorthand that I'm just sure I'll remember at the time I write the note but that I NEVER, EVER do.

I had a wonderful suggestion from someone on Facebook the other day when I complained that I had forgotten where I parked my car when I went to the mall (and if you knew how small our mall is, you would realize how pathetic this really is). She said that she always takes a picture of her car's location with her cell phone. I'm going to start doing this. I'm just hoping I don't lose my phone!

Do you have any suggestions on getting organized or tricks on improving my memory?

Have a great weekend!



Thursday, January 06, 2011

A New Year!

Thank goodness it's finally 2011. I swear, 2010 had some good things and bad things in its suitcase, but I could not wait to see it out the door!

Harper Lee and I have been busy getting the apartment cleaned of holiday stuff (though I've yet to take the wreath down because it's so pretty) and I'm finally working on my new story, which I hope will be my 2012 book. It's about sisters, one of whom has left the family -- and how the remaining sister deals with facing her first real heartbreak alone. No explosions or car chases, but there is an unrequited love and touches of prophecy throughout. So excited to dig into a meaningful story!

The beginning of a year is always a great time for lists - so here's mine.

Things to remember in 2011:

  1. You can only control what you do, feel, & think. You are the captain of your own ship.
  2. Family and friends can make a huge difference in your life, so treat them kindly.
  3. It's important to "pick a point" on the horizon. Decide where you'd like to go before you leave.
  4. Help others - especially with their dreams and goals.
  5. You deserve a clean house, efficient workspace, good appearance, a home cooked meal. Take care of yourself as you would for others.
  6. Leave room for spontaneity and fun in your plans.
  7. Life is short so don't put off doing the things you want to do.
  8. Trying is never stupid. Not trying is ridiculous.
  9. Continue to be courageous, honest, and open - even if it means you sometimes get hurt.
  10. "Stay golden, Pony Boy."

Do you have any thoughts to remember for 2011? I would love to see what you're holding in mind as we start the new year...

Love and light,

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

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Attacking the never-ending "to do" list

I'm a "to-do" list person. I have lists on my computer sticky notes. I have lists in my notebook. I have lists in my BlackBerry. Do this. Do that. Don't forget that. Don't forget this. And, of course, I shuffle and hussle and most things don't get done.

To me, everything is a "to-do" item. I learned once that if you put things on your "to-do" list that you know you'll actually do and can cross off, it'll make you feel like you accomplish things during the course of the day. Like blogging today. I know I'm going to do it, so "blog" goes on the list because I know I'll cross it off. But where's the prioritization?

That's the problem with me...I'm a reactionist, if that's even a word. I react to what I need to do at that moment, or where my monkey mind (a Buddhist term meaning "unsettled") thoughts take me. You know, those random thoughts that come to you during the day that you have to stop everything to Google the information before you lose the train of thought.

Okay...maybe that's a 44 year old thing. LOL!!

In my attempt to become more organized, less reactionist, and less of a do-it-at-the-last-minute person, I read a fantastic book called THE WAR OF ART: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. It's a brilliant book that's changed my life.

It talks about what keeps us from our art is Resistance. Resistance is anything that keeps us from our art. Resistance comes in many forms. Resistance is there to keep us from reaching our potential and seeing our dreams fulfilled. Resistance is self-doubt, procrastination, focusing on the wrong things, getting involved in television shows, online games, Facebooking, or anything else that keeps your attention away from your art. It takes the form of your relationship, your friendships, your job, your chores, anything. It's evil and you have to overcome it. Resistance keeps you from your artistic potential.

So, for me, my goal in 2011 is to beat the crap to of Resistance. For me, that includes not wasting time, not getting sucked into online dramas on Facebook, or spending way too much time trying to beat my high score in Bejeweled Blitz. I will stick to the "to-do" lists...doing what is IMPORTANT and not what is URGENT (as the book recommends) and focusing on my art. Manuscripts, proposals, new ideas, new characters, new words. That's what matters.

What is keeping you from your art? What is your Resistance?

Marley = )

Ghosts don't hang up their sheets after Halloween!
GHOST HUNTRESS series - The Awakening, The Guidance,
The Reason, The Counseling - available now!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Lists of Lists

I like making lists. A lot. I'll make lists for anything. Grocery lists, to do lists, Christmas lists, wishlists. If it's listable, I've probably listed it. I'm not sure exactly why I like lists so much—maybe it's the feeling that I have control over whatever I put on the list. (Note: this is very much not true, since I often spend more time making the list than doing the things on it.)

Day 092/366 - To Do List
Shave the cat. Really?

Today, though, I'm going to go above and beyond my normal, average, everyday listmaking. Today, I'm going to make a list of lists I want to make. Pretty twisted, right? Well, that's a Virgo for you.

  1. Bucket List—The obligatory list of things I want to do before I die. This list will be so long, though, that I'm not sure I could ever finish. I want to do everything, from visit every continent to read every work by Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and  Agatha Christie.
  2. 1001 Things in 101 Days—A list of 1001 things to accomplish in 101 days. That's almost three years. I could do a lot of amazing things in three years. Write books, travel the world, move three times, train for a marathon... The possibilities are endless.
  3. 100 Things—I'm very attracted to minimalism, the idea of living with as little as you need. There is a movement within minimalism to keep personal belongings to a maximum of 100 things. I'm not sure if I'm ready to live with just 100 things, but I'd love the challenge of figuring out what those 100 things would have to be.

And, of course, it goes without saying that making the New York Times bestseller list is definitely on my list of lists. If only I could make that list as easily as I can make the others.

Have you made any of the above lists? Do you want to? Are you a right-brainer who runs screaming from the room at the very idea of making a list?


Monday, January 03, 2011

End-of-the-Year Lists!

Yesterday Wendy talked about how she loves end-of-the-year lists. I am a list maker, too, which is why I almost always have a To Do list going...which could include anything from “pick up dry cleaning” to “decide what color eyes to give to main character.”

One list I never make, though, is New Years’ Resolutions. I prefer the idea of “goals” instead, not necessarily breaking old habits, but forging ahead in new directions. But when I saw on Facebook that Baskin-Robbins (my absolute favorite ice cream store) thinks that 2011 New Years Resolutions should include eating more ice cream, I changed my mind.

So for the first time ever, here is a list of my New Years Resolutions, starting with the obvious:

--Eat more Baskin-Robbins ice cream. (And throw out bathroom scale.)
--Wear my favorite suede jacket whenever the mood strikes. (Heat, humidity, rain, snow--who cares?)
--Play the Drive the Car on Empty Game and see when and where I run out of gas. (Oh--and opportunity to start a new list!)
--Buy more cute shoes. (Putting "cute" ahead of perfect fit, comfort and price.)
--Get less sleep. (More time to play Facebook Scrabble.)

Haha! Now it's your turn...what can you add to this list?


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

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Making the List

One of my favorite things about the end of the year is all the LISTS that are put together on every subject imaginable, from the best songs of 2010 to the craziest celeb moments of 2010.
And of course, since we're all book lovers here, some of my favorite lists have to do with YA novels.
Sure, I like the straight forward "Fave Books of the Year" lists, like the YALSA Top Ten, but I also love lists that have a creative twist to them. For example, check out some of the topics for which The Mod Podge Bookshelf rates books. (And she gives a shout-out to Heather for The Clearing so she clearly has great taste!) Click HERE.

And I love how Bloggers Heart Books tapped into a large group of bloggers to get their personal favorite YA books of 2010. Check this diverse list out HERE.
Have you run across or made an interesting 2010 list? Do share!