Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bravo's New Show: Platinum Hit

Last night Bravo TV premiered the first episode of their new show Platinum Hit. It is a Top Chef/Project Runway-like competition for singer-songwriters. Jewel is the host and former American Idol judge Kara Dioguardi is the head judge. Here's the official season preview:

What I loved most about the first episode (and what I think I'll love most about the series) is that it's almost like a writing competition. Watching the songwriters create their lyrics, their hooks, their melodies, is almost like watching the writing process. I think it's as close to a So You Think You Can Write show as we'll get on television.

And a couple of the first episode songs were just amazing. Ah. Maze. Ing. I'm in awe of the process of putting words to music (my musical intelligence is definitely a weakness) and I hope the season lives up to the first show.

Did you watch Platinum Hit? What'd you think?



Monday, May 30, 2011

Graduation Week Winner

As promised, my post today will be to announce the Graduation Week Winner! But first, let me say how much I loved seeing the Buzz Girl high school graduation pictures and hearing memories and thoughts from those days.

The winner of the $25.00 Amazon.com gift certificate is:


So, 1110CG, if you will kindly contact me at admin@tinaferraro.com, we'll get that gift card on its way to you!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!


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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Libraries Lacking Personal Interaction

Quick note: As we wrap up our week of celebrating high school graduations, Tina will announce the winner of the $25 Amazon.com gift card tomorrow. Thanks to everybody who commented and good luck!

A few weeks ago, I was asked to be a panelist during the Utah Library Association annual conference. Here I am afterwards, dining at Rooster's in Layton with YA authors (left to right) Lara Zielin, Adam Selzer, moi, Sheila A. Nielson, and Emily Wing Smith. From what I could tell, the librarians and their colleagues were there to bond, inspire, educate, share, and improve. As a huge fan of libraries, I was honored to be included.

My local library, which is about 10 minutes away from my house, is in danger of closing. If it does, our closest library is about 30 minutes away. Why is it in danger? Reportedly, not enough people are coming in to check out materials. It has lots of wonderful programs, especially for children, but since the elementary school is no longer located right next door to it, it's seen a decline in participants. I admit I don't take my kids to as many activities now that it's not quite as convenient to get them there after school. However, I do take them there once every or every-other week and we all check out books.

Going to the ULA conference made me see that librarians really do enjoy their jobs and want to promote reading. But here's my thoughts on that. When I go to my local library, there isn't any interaction with librarians. I go to the computer to look up the book I want (not a very user friendly program, but I won't get into that now), locate it on the shelf, and then check it out at a self-checkout station. (Even if there's a librarian doing something at the desk, she'll shoo me over to the self-checkout station.) Sometimes I never lay eyes on a librarian, and if I do, they're usually in the back room. I'm not saying they're not working; it's just that they're not interacting with the people. Sometimes I try to strike up a conversation with a librarian, but I get the feeling that I'm bothering him or her. I've been going to this library regularly for over 8 years and I only know one librarian's name. She was a real gem and I miss her. (She moved to another library years ago.)

I remember being so excited to go to the library as a child. Why? Because the librarians would help me find books, and then suggest other books, and when I came back, they'd ask how I liked the books. It was like my own little personal book club, and their passion for reading was contagious. In a world where technology has all but erased person-to-person interactions, I wish we could recapture that wonderful, magical feeling of knowing just beyond the library's doors is endless shelves of books as well as a helpful, encouraging, knowledgeable librarian who is glad to see us.

Would librarians giving library-goers personal interaction change the world? Maybe! After all, it changed my world when I was a child! Now I'll hop off my soapbox and see what you think. Is your library all computers and self-checkout stands? Or do you get a personal touch? Do you go to the library or find you have no need now that we have the internet? Do you like having a librarian help you, or would you rather do it yourself? Tell me! :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Oh the Places You Will Go....

Sunday, May 29, 2011 will mark the twentieth anniversary of my high school graduation. TWENTY years!!!! I've changed so much since that day I strolled across the stage to get my well-earned diploma. I've achieved most of the things I had planned for myself and even some things I never would have thought possible.

(My friend and college roommate on our HS graduation day!)

There were some huge roadblocks along the way. And sometimes things didn't turn out at all the way I had planned. But the good thing about life is that sometimes something even better is just around the corner waiting for you.

My best advice to any new graduate is to dream BIG. You are usually the only obstacle standing in your way. If you can envision it and you work really hard, chances are you are going to achieve anything you put your mind to.

(This silly girl never would have dreamed she could be an author.)

Whether you come from a tiny graduating class or a huge one. A big city or a farm town. Whether you move away or stay right where you are. You are the only one who can measure the success of your life. Good luck graduates even though I know you will all make your own luck.

Don't forget to comment for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!!!



Thursday, May 26, 2011

Decisions, Decisions... for the Graduate

We’re celebrating graduations this week on the Buzz Blog.  To do my part, I'm posting a few photos from senior year, including my prom pic with my best guy friend back then, Michael -- what a cutie!

For me, senior year was a little weird.  All of my best friends were a year or two ahead of me in school, so after they left, it was time to make new friends.  I spent the year hanging out with my peeps from my drama and art classes, or the kids (like Michael) I worked with at the local fast-food joint.  Yes, I was a drive-thru queen that year. 

It wasn’t a bad job.  The people (mostly from other high schools) were fun, and it was only embarrassing when the kids who didn’t have to have after school jobs came into the place or whizzed through the drive-thru.  It was great to have a little spending money and to get some work experience, even if it was handing paper bags of greasy food out a little window. 

I could tell you so many stories about the shenanigans that went on there -- The grill boys who blasted the song “Hell’s Bells” after closing to annoy the very conservative manager.  The night some guy said lewd things into the drive-thru speaker to the girl taking orders, making the high school football star that worked with us so mad he nearly crawled out the delivery window to rip the creep's face off.  The day an ex-boyfriend who’d unceremoniously ditched me rolled through on his Vespa to pick up a burger.

It was a YA novel in action all around me.

Anyway, when graduation rolled around, I set my sights on going to the local liberal arts college.  My dad was a single parent who owned his house, so financial aid was really limited for us.  I basically chose a school we could afford.  I had finished in the top ten percent of my class, was a National Merit Letter of Commendation winner, and got a partial scholarship based on my art skills and plans to major in film, but somehow though, when I learned that the boy who was right behind me in the class rankings was going to Dartmouth, I questioned why I hadn’t applied to any Ivy League schools -- that maybe I’d set my sights too low.

Through that summer, I thought a lot about the purpose of college, about wanting to learn in a focused and collaborative way.  My chosen school, The Evergreen State College, seemed like it was the right choice after all.  I realized it didn’t matter what anyone else was doing -- it only mattered what was right for me.  (Good realization, kid!)

When I arrived at Evergreen in the fall and took my first drawing, photography, and creative writing classes, I felt at home.  And later, when I started my film courses, I really dug in.  By the time I graduated college, I knew one thing for sure -- I was born to be an artist and to tell stories.  I have Evergreen to thank for that.

It’s a very weird time, high school graduation.  You have to make some choices based on a future you may or may not have.  You’re pointing your little boat out into the waters with only a little lighthouse of a possible career to guide you.  By the time you make it to the other shore, you may find it’s not what you thought it would be, that you’ve grown and changed as you navigated the currents.  It’s terrifying and exhilarating, and only the very beginning of your journey. 

I would love to know if you had any moments of doubt about the school you chose (or are choosing now).  How did you pick the right one for you?  Were you influenced by friends or family members who wanted you to go somewhere? 

Remember, if you comment on any of our posts this week, you’ll be eligible to win a $25 Amazon gift card!  Tina will draw the winner this weekend...

Congrats to all the grads and their families!

Wherever You Go - Harcourt November 2011
The Clearing - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Never Cry Werewolf - HarperTeen
Sometimes by Moonlight: A Novella - ebook original June 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hats off to the Class of 2011!

Congratulations to all of the graduates in the Class of 2011! I bet you thought you'd never get here. Hats off to you for your accomplishment and best wishes in your future endeavors where ever they may lead you.

I remember being in middle school and counting ahead to the year when I would graduate. It seemed so far in the future. Now, I look back and it seems so far in the past. Why, when I graduated in 1885...errrr, I mean 1985, the members of the class of 2011 weren't even a twinkle in their parents' eyes.

Even though Tera already posted a link to old photos of me, I'll go ahead and toss some up.

Here I am last year when I visited "the hill," where Pike Liberal Art School sits in Troy, Alabama. The campus has changed quite a bit, but there was still the same familiar feel on the soil that I walked for twelve years.


Here's my senior portrait. Keep in mind, this was back in the days when thick eyebrows and girl mullets were the fashion. LOL!


I had twenty-eight (28) people in my senior class. We were a really tight-knit group through our years together from first grade until twelth. It seemed as if our world would end being "busted up," but so many people have gone on to wonderful lives. Careers that include, the military, lawyer, policeman, several school teachers, nurses, and even a district judge! Then there's little old me...the published author. Who'd a thunk it? LOL!

Here's our senior portfolio. I'm on the top line because I was a class officer. This is hanging in the hallway at my alma mater, along with all of the other classes. (Check out the big hair on everyone!) Sadly, there's a prayer hand notation on one of my classmates who passed away.


Actually, when I left high school for The University of Alabama, I had planned on getting a degree in psychology and then going forward into medical school. That all changed after my freshman year at Bama when I my creative juices took over in my communication and writing classes and I longed to go into marketing/advertising/public relations. Now *that's* a switch!

That's the great thing about this time in your life. You can change your mind. You can try on dreams and ideas and see what fit. The only thing that matters is that you discover who you are...and who you want to be...and don't let anyone or anything hold you back from your dream, whatever it may be.

So...congrats to the class of 2011! I wish you success and happiness!

Marley = )

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

High School TLC

My senior picture.
This week we're celebrating high school seniors and graduation. High school graduation feels like forever ago, and I've done so many crazy things since then. On the day of my graduation, I planned to go to Columbia University in New York City to study architecture and eventually become a world famous architect like Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, or Robert A.M. Stern. But plans change. Here's what really happened:

Went to Columbia, University of Colorado, back to Columbia, SHSU, and Tufts. Lived in New York, Colorado, Missouri, Texas, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oklahoma. Wanted to become a lawyer, architect, environmental biologist, actress, muralist, scenic artist, teacher, professor and finally writer.

My graduation picture.
I often wonder what my friends have done since high school. I'm not in touch with most of them, but every so often I hear from one. Sometimes I try to track someone down on Facebook or something. I know my best friend is married with babies. Many of my friends are still in or around the town where we went to high school.

I always had bigger plans than my friends. I wanted to go farther away, do more exciting things, be a bigger name in the end. Maybe it's because I grew up moving around the country, so big changes didn't scare me. They still don't, obviously, since I'm about to move across the country again. (Seattle here I come!)

I've always been a planner, but I've also always been willing to let me plans change. And I'm definitely happy with how my plans are working out so far.

So, what are/were your plans when you graduate(d) from high school? Big or small? Close to home or far away? Did you/are you/will you accomplish them?


PS. If you want to see more embarrassing high school pictures, check out my post from High School Week back in 2008. Tina, Marley, StephHeather, Dona (sort of) and ex-Buzz Girl Simone shared, too.


Monday, May 23, 2011

High School Regrets

Happy graduation to all the high school graduates out there! As Tina mentioned yesterday, to help celebrate we will be highlighting a few things about our high school years. Should be fun! Plus, comment each day for chances to win the $25 Amazon.com gift card Tina is giving away!

This is me when I graduated high school. Sorry it's blurry. Anyway, I think one thing we can see from all these high school photos, regardless of how fuzzy they are, is that I had bad hair. I'm not sure if this is just the way it is, kind of like how no matter how hard we try to choose bridesmaid dresses that are actually pretty and can be worn again someday (yeah, right), or if it's just me. I slept in curlers or braids to give my straight hair more volume and oh, man, those bangs! Straight across and puffy, not a good look! Additionally, I sometimes wore a bow in my hair when I played sports (don't even get my husband started on that one).

In the next photo, you'll see the front of my alma mater, Araphahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado. I'm here with my friend, Amy, showing our school spirit. Yep, big hair. And I chose to share the (bottom) photo of us in our fancy dresses (big hair again) because prom is another huge highlight of the high school years. However, since I didn't have a boyfriend, my girl friends and I would grab a few guys from other schools and go in a big group. At the time, I was sad no one asked me, but now, I realize going with friends might've been more fun anyhow. So while I regret my high school hair-styling choices, I don't regret going to dances with friends.

Now it's your turn! (And don't be shy; there's $25 up for grabs!) If you've already graduated high school, is there something that at the time you were happy about but now you regret (like your hair) or something you regretted back then but now are happy about (like going to dances with friends instead of a boyfriend)? If you're still in high school, what about your junior high years?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Senior Yearbook Photo Week!

The Buzz Girls are going to be digging deep into our yearbooks, drawers and pasts for our senior yearbook pictures this week, in celebration of high school graduations going on all across the land.

With a husky laugh and a roll of my eyes, I offer up mine:

This was scanned out of my yearbook, for a reason. If you were to look at the yearbook itself, you’d notice something pretty funny. My head is significantly bigger than anyone else’s. This is pretty odd, considering all the photos were taken on our auditorium stage, with the camera and the stool in fixed position. So how is it, in a class of over 500, I am the only one with the “big head?” It’s because someone decided to enlarge my photo to crop off my little bit of cleavage...

Too funny, huh?

Anyway, in celebration of high school graduations--and the fact that my son is among those about to receive a diploma--I am offering a $25 Amazon gift card to one random commenter this week. You can enter as often as you want, and the winner will be announced in my blog post next Monday, Memorial Day, May 30th.

Let’s start the comments/contest entries off with this question: do you like YOUR high school graduation picture? (I think you can tell I’m not real fond of mine!)


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

Friday, May 20, 2011

On my soapbox...

I was so sad to hear the news last month that two soap operas that I used to love are being canceled. I'm sure you've already heard but All my Children is ending in September and One Life to Live will follow in January.

I have to admit that I haven't exactly followed the shows for quite a few years and it didn't really come as a huge shock. I'm sure that both of these soaps have a mostly female demographic, even though I bet a bunch of guys watch and just don't admit it. And let's face it, we women rarely have time to sit around and watch soaps anymore. But the news still felt like yet another cultural icon that technology has stolen from us. Dramatic, much? Sorry, I was channeling my inner soap diva there for a second.

Did you know that some of today's most famous movie stars started out on soap operas? David Hasselhoff (okay, I know Hoff isn't a major star but I can't help it, I love the guy), Jason Biggs, Alec Baldwin, Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei, and tons more. My favorite soap star to big screen in Josh Duhamel. He used to play Leo on All my Children and I adored him. So hot!
Cameron Mathison and Rebecca Buddig are two of my favorite stars still on All my Children. I'm hoping that they both find jobs doing what they love.

And who can forget Susan Lucci? She has played the character we all love to hate, Erica Kane, since the shows inception in 1970. I'm sure that the writers have some very dramatic endings planned and I, for one, will be watching!

Will you be sad to see soaps phased off television? Who is your favorite soap character of all time?



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here We Trend Again...

I got an email advertisement from Publisher’s Weekly the other day for Ashes, a dystopian YA which debuts this fall.  It seems there are still publishers wanting to put out books in that sub-genre, which surprises me since I think this push will be coming to an end.  Then again, with the long lead time of print books, this novel has, of course, been in the works for a while.

Agent Mandy Hubbard blogged a recap of her meetings in NY with acquiring editors and apparently, there were a few places still hoping to put out a YA dystopian novel before the wave ends. 

So what’s next?

Well, as USA Today predicted last week, mermaid stories are on the rise.  And it’s worth noting that our own Tera Lynn Childs was at the forefront of that trend, and before that she was writing about Greek mythology, another trend that’s cresting.  I think she must have a crystal ball.  Tera, 'fess up!

But really, it’s just amazing how the Collective Unconscious seems to work in the publishing world.  A few really great books on a unique subject get other people thinking and writing and then a new wave is born, I guess.

Mandy wrote that what editors hoped would be big (though they couldn't say it would be for sure) was more realistic fiction -- so you can imagine that I smiled at that one.  Just the other day I saw a table at my local Barnes & Noble that was marked “For Sarah Dessen fans” and featured books by Justina Chen, Sarah Ockler, and others.  I imagined that my books, though they have a supernatural element, could be on that table someday...

The main thing I know about trends and predictions and buzz is that nobody knows anything for real.  A great book, no matter the subject, is going to find a home.  And with the growing sales of e-books, authors have the ability to put those books out there on  their own now, too.

I think readers are smart, especially YA readers.  They can smell b.s.  They want real characters and compelling stories.  They want to be entertained.  They want to feel something.

That is the trend to watch.  The trend to write to.

What do you guys think?  Are you over dystopian fiction?  Are mermaids going to make an even larger impact this year?  Have you read any vampire books recently?



The Clearing - 2011 Rita Finalist Best YA Romance
Wherever You Go - Harcourt, November 2011
Never Cry Werewolf - HarperTeen

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Signs that Summer is Almost Here

I look at the calendar and it tells me it's the middle of May. The middle of May? Seriously? Another school year is wrapping up, television shows are having their finales, and summer is just around the corner...literally.

Here are some signs that summer is almost here:

People Tweeting about the prom: So many friends of mine have been posting about getting their son or daughter ready for the prom. Amazing how the girls love the shopping, picking out their dress, how they'll wear their hair and makeup, and the boys just complain that they have to stop playing video games long enough to take a shower and get ready. LOL!!

School's Out: There's no better feeling than the last school bell ringing to signify the end of a school year and the start of summer vacation. I remember that faithful bus ride home every year where people would celebrate by shaking up Coke cans and spraying them on each other. No one got off the bus dry. (I'm sure that's not permitted theses days.)

Picking up the boys at the airport: With the end of school, that means my fiance's son's will be joining us on the RV until they go back to school in August. They're flying up to Baltimore from Atlanta where we'll spend a few days in Gettysburg, then up to Boston, and then to Illinois and upstate New York for events and then down to Florida. We're planning on catching the VERY LAST launch ever of the space shuttle program.


Memorial Day: The official opening of summer! The campground is full of people with their grills and lawn chairs already set out. The pool will be open soon and hopefully, the sun will grace the east coast with its presence.

Good books to read: Well, my fifth GHOST HUNTRESS book, THE DISCOVERY, just came out and it would make excellent beach reading. So would any of the books from the Buzz Girls. Get them online, at the bookstore, or from us directly. Or, try downloading a digital copy for your eReader. Whatever the case, enjoy escaping into the story as you soak up the sun.


So what are some signs for you that summer is on the way?

Marley = )

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stranded in Texas

As much as I love my car, sometimes it's more trouble than it's worth. Like now. Last week I put in $1000 to make it trip-ready for my tour travel to Texas this month and then for the long drive next month. That $1000 included replacing the rear brake pads and rotors (what the brakes grip onto to stop your car).

All through the drive to Austin and San Antonio last weekend, I worried that there was something wrong with my engine, that it was working too hard for the highway driving I was doing. Plus, every time I stopped and got out of the car it stank of melted brake rubber. I thought it was just new brake pads smell.

Fast forward to Sunday night when I get to Rosemary Clement-Moore's house in Fort Worth. We decided to go out to dinner because it was late and I was starved. I put my foot on the brake before putting the car in gear and the pedal whooshed straight to the floor. I pulled out and drove a few feet and tested the brakes, which didn't grab until the pedal was all the way to the floor. When I pulled back to the curb, shut off the car and called my dad, I played with the brake pedal again and it built up so much pressure that it wouldn't move at all.

B2 Goes For A Ride

Suffice it to say that the next morning a tow truck came and took my car away to a branch of the repair shop that had done the work up in Oklahoma. Although they tried to argue the situation and make me pay for some of the additional repairs on the parts they "fixed" they are (hopefully--I'm writing this the night before) fixing my car this morning and bringing it back to me with no money out of my pocket. Fingers crossed.

What irritates me about this situation is not only did their repair cause a new problem and they tried to deny that, to blame it on my older car, but I worry about additional wear on the brand new rotors and on my engine because it had to work extra hard the whole trip. Not to mention the extra gas consumed.

Sigh. I hope this all works out and my car makes it back to Dallas next weekend and then to the west coast, but I'd sure appreciate and nice windfall of cash from the universe so I can buy a shiny new car with a shiny new warranty.

Have you ever had a horrible car breakdown story? Or an awful experience with an untrustworthy mechanic? Please share and make me feel not so alone in my car troubles.



Monday, May 16, 2011

Twitter Talk

I joined Twitter a couple months ago, and have been making attempts to post and follow others’ posts.

But what was confusing me was these conversations that seemed to be going back and forth between people. While I “got” that they were directing comments to each other with the @ sign, what boggled my mind was how they caught them all? Didn’t things get past them?

That’s when I found out about something called @Mentions. When someone directs a comment at you, it’s stored in a separate place. (I’ll bet you already knew that!) I went there and found a slew of people who’d asked me questions or directed comments at me. Yikes! I went into catch-up mode, and I think I’m good now.

So thought I’d throw it out to the online world to educate me in anything else “fancy” at Twitter that I might be missing.

And please feel free to join me there. I’m am known as:


(Apparently, the Tina Ferraros of the world beat me to Twitter, and I could not get any variation of my name.)


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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In Memory of a Dear Friend

As I'm not going to have internet access on Sunday, I'm scheduling this post ahead of time. So for me, today is Friday, May 13.

I woke up this morning not feeling like myself. Something felt off, or maybe something was missing. Anyway, I went along with my morning routine of getting kids ready for school and driving 6 4 year-olds (yes, 6!) to preschool. Then I emailed a dear friend of mine, Kristen Harmel, who I've known online and through her books since 2007. I finally got to meet her face-to-face (or maybe her-face-to-my-chin because she's adorably teensy) at RWA Nationals in Orlando (where she lives) last summer.

Kristin and I met in an unusual way. It was because an ambitious, quirky, bright, beautiful, gracious, book-loving (I could go on and on) fifteen year-old, Anna, thought we needed to know each other. She introduced the two of us via MySpace and sent us signed books of each other's. Anna wasn't your typical fifteen year-old. She couldn't speak (no voice), but she made up for it by writing beautiful, tragic, magical poetry. She loved to read and review books. And whenever one of Kristin's or my books came out, she made a huge deal out of it, sending party favors, buying and mailing it to all of her friends, and priding herself in being one of the very first to review it online. I'll never forget the day she volunteered to be my assistant. She had business cards made and everything! If you're a blogger, you might remember her contacting you to see if you wanted to review Lifted. I can't even imagine how long that must have taken her, because her hands were very shaky and she had a hard time typing.

You see, Anna was very sick. In fact, she was told she wouldn't live past the age of 15. Anna proved those doctors wrong. She lived twelve days past her 19th birthday. Which is miraculous, is it not? As her sister put it, Anna rejoiced every morning she was still here with us.

Two days before Anna died, she wrote this poem:

I dream that the world will know my name.
Don't tell me if I'm dying
'cause I don't want to know,
If I can't see the sun
maybe I should go.

As soon as we heard Anna had passed away, Kristin and I talked on the phone. Anna was such an important part of both of our lives (I know she touched Tina's and Marley's lives as well, to name a couple you might know) and what's more, my inbox and Facebook messages are filling up with stories about Anna and how she brought people together. Would Kristin Harmel and I have met had Anna not insisted? Possibly. But as Kristin put it, "What a lovely gift that was, from her to us. Now, she'll always be alive in our friendship."

In loving memory of Anna Haze, May 1, 1992-May 13, 2011. xoxo

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Naming Characters

I get emails a lot asking me where I come up with the names for my characters. Is there a specific formula or a particular way to do it? Absolutely not! LOL! Most of the time, I come up with my character names in the most peculiar ways. You want to make sure that your characters' names fit their role in the story...as well as fitting the overall theme of the story.

Here are some tips for naming characters:

1. Choose something that mirror's your character's personality. If your character is a science geek (like Celia Nichols in GHOST HUNTRESS), give them a name that fits their interests. My first manuscript was about a naive twenty-something working her first job in the tech industry, traveling to tradeshows, and unfortunately giving away a company trade secret. Her name was Vanessa Virtue. It was perfect for her. Could you imagine Thor with any other name? If he was Irving, it just wouldn't work.

2. The character's name should be pronouncable and easy for the reader to understand. Think of how the name sounds if you say it out loud. Is there a harmony or a ring to it? Avoid names that no one knows how to say. I respect all of the urban fantasy out there these days, but some of the names are just...unrecognizable. Being creative with a name is great, but not if you reader has no clue how to say it in their head.

3. Make sure the character's name fits the time period. You wouldn't want to write a contemporary YA and name the heroine...Ethel. (My grandma was Ethel...so apologies if I offend anyone.) If you're writing steampunk or historical YA, make sure to use names from the time period. I don't think anyone back then would be named Brittney. LOL!

4. Use the names of people you know...friends, family, colleagues. When I first sold my SORORITY 101 series, all of the guys at my sales office wanted to be in the book. So I put them in as random fraternity guys, teachers, and fellow students. I carried this tradition on with my GHOST HUNTRESS books. The character of Rebecca is one of my best friends (see below.) She's not a goth chick at all, so she loves reading her "alter ego." Be careful with this technique as you don't want to make anyone look bad or make the character reflect something you can get sued over. Always get the person's permission to use their name. Funny enough, the name Kendall Moorehead, the heroine of the GHOST HUNTRESS series came from an offensive lineman that played for the University of Alabama when I was in school. I always loved the name and wanted to use it. So I did.


5. Obituaries are a great place to find unique and personality-filled names. Now, before you throw rotten tomatoes at me, a LOT of authors do this. It's a tribute to the person in that their name carries on and, you can read a lot of about who they were in their obituary, and pay tribute to their life.

6. There are numerous online sources you can use for naming characters. If you're writing about someone that was born in a particular year, why not visit the Social Security website that ranks the popular names by year. Or, you can use any "name your baby" website. There are also name generator websites you can use, as well. Use a surname generator for your family's history or ethnicity or country of origin. Be creative and search to find that perfect name you're searching for.

7. Avoid using names in your story that are similar to other characters names. Look at the letters the names are starting with. Are you using a lot of "C" names? (Charles, Cathy, Christina, Callie) Mix it up a little bit. This makes it easier for the reader to keep up, especially when there are a lot of characters.

What are some memorable character names that you've come across in your reading?

Marley = )

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Essential Revision Supplies

I'm in the middle of my first past revision for the second book in the Sweet Venom trilogy, which is due in to my editor June 1st. Although my writing and revising process tends to change from book to book, there are a few essential supplies I must have in order to get through it.

Taking Notes1. Sticky Notes — I use these, in various colors (sometimes color-coded by type of comment, sometimes by character, like in Sweet Venom) to: mark my daily page goal, flag the first pages of chapters, and to add large sections (a sentence or more) to the manuscript. Right now, I'm using green ones for Grace's notes, orange ones for Gretchen's, and pink ones for Greer's.

The highlight of my day2. Highlighters — These are mostly for fun. I'll either highlight the chapter title (color-coded to which girl's POV I'll be in for that chapter), use them to mark up my countdown calendar (green for writing days, orange for revising, pink for days off when I can get life stuff done), or just to pretty up pages of notes in my book notebook.

Pens and pencils3. Pen and Pencil — These are for the real work. For marking directly on the manuscript page, I use a mechanical pencil (Pentel in .9mm lead, if you want to be specific) so that I can erase and rewrite (over and over again) as I'm trying to get the line just perfect. For longer additions on the sticky notes, I use a pen (Uniball Vision Elite in micro) so it doesn't smear when I smooth the sticky note into place.

009.365: Binder of DOOM!4. Manuscript — I feel like an eco-fraud every time I get my manuscript printed out for my revision pass. But I have discovered that my brain just does not process revisions in the same way on the screen as I do on the printed page. And I do get the manuscript printed on recycled paper, to offset the waste. I contain the manuscript in a big white 3-ring binder with a cover page that has the working title of the book.

So that's what I need to get through my revision process. Do you have any special supplies that you absolutely must have can't live without while you're writing/revising/doing homework?



Monday, May 09, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

There is an old saying that goes, “The mirror never lies.” In other words, you can think you look a certain way, can want it or wish it, but when you gaze into a mirror, you see the truth.

But do you really?

For the past 10 years, I’ve been a regular shopper at a women’s clothing chain near my house. I can always find something on their racks that I like, and when I model it in front of their mirror (situated outside the dressing room for all patrons to use), I usually get a shot of confidence, too...

Somehow the outfit makes me look sleeker...longer even...and maybe even a little royal. Like all I’d need is a big, silly hat and I could be taken for Kate Middleton’s American aunt.

But inevitably, back home, that magic is gone. Of course, I still like the clothing or I wouldn’t keep shopping there. But I know why I never got my royal invite.

I have cheerfully asked the sales staff if they realize their customers are looking into a Skinny Mirror, and their faces have gotten very tight. Apparently these are not words that earn you calls to special sales or discount coupons. But...whatever, right?

Then last month, I was on an airplane and popped into the bathroom. Only to immediately discover, with a glance in the mirror, that I’d suddenly grown a good two inches and dropped about ten pounds. Which definitely amused me, and drove home my belief that Skinny Mirrors exist.

Later I did some on-line research and found out that, quite simply, no two mirrors are the same, and if you were to visit a store specializing in mirrors, you could easily find them that distort in all directions.

So I stand by my statement that my local clothing store is using a Skinny Mirror. (And wonder if they have a higher-than-usual product return rate to “reflect” this?) Although I do think in the airline’s case, it was a fluke.

Have you ever come upon a Skinny Mirror? Any thoughts on all of this?


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

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Discovery Week Winner!

Since Marley is on the road today, I'm stepping up to announce the winner of her Discovery prize pack. Chosen from 58 comments by a random number generator, it is:


Donnas, please send your contact information to this address: marley_gibson AT yahoo dot com.

Congratulations, and thanks to all who entered!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Closing out Discovery Week!

We here at Books Boys Buzz have been celebrating the gorgeous and giving Marley Gibson's THE DISCOVERY all week. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about all the things we've enjoyed discovering lately and had a chance to enter our great contest!

What have I discovered lately that I love?

White Coffee - Has anyone heard of this? White coffee is basically coffee beans that are *very* lightly roasted to preserve most of the caffeine and not introduce too much acidity. The resulting coffee that's brewed is sweet, milky and amazingly good. This is the best thing for those "desserty" coffee drinks like mochas or caramel macchiatos. There's a li'l drive through near my place that makes this and is my new favorite way to start my day!

Early mornings - the aformentioned helps me get up and at 'em in a hurry! But seriously, now that spring is (kind of) here in the Pacific Northwest, I find myself waking up at 5 am every morning--no alarm needed! I love having those wee early hours of the day to myself to get some writing in, playing with the cat and just relaxing time. Yay for secret hours in a day!

Asos.com - this lovely British website has wonderful cutting edge fashion from across the pond at some reasonable prices! If you haven't seen it yet, definitely check it out!

Have a lovely weekend, darling readers! Please leave comments to enter Marley's contest and make sure to grab a copy of the wonderful THE DISCOVERY today!


Friday, May 06, 2011

Discovering a little bit of joy everyday

Congratulations to Marley on the release of the FIFTH (can you believe it?) book in her Ghost Huntress series. The Discovery is available now so make sure you get yourself a copy! You also have a chance to win an autographed copy along with many other great prizes just by commenting below.
I have the bad habit of going straight to Yahoo! the minute I turn on my computer every day. It took me a while to realize how all this instant access to news was affecting my mood. While not all bad, I would say at least seventy-five percent isn't exactly cheerful fodder for my day. I decided that I needed some websites to visit each day that would make me happy. I've discovered two that I love.

The first is called Jim's Pancakes. It isn't updated daily but is definitely worth waiting for. This creative dad spends his mornings making the most awesome pancake creations for his adorable children. It makes me insanely happy when Jim posts his brilliant new flapjack art! See for yourself at http://www.jimspancakes.com/.

My second favorite website is http://www.whenparentstext.com/. This site has some absolute gems that make my sides hurt from laughing so hard. My mom has not ventured into texting yet and I can only imagine what her texts would look like if she did. Some of them are also really sweet. Enjoy.

Don't forget Marley is giving away several great prizes like a signed copy of her new book, two beautiful bracelets, a dousing pendulum, and an incense burner. All you have to do is comment on each blog post this week. Tell me what website always makes you smile.



Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A Continued Celebration of GHOST HUNTRESS: THE DISCOVERY

We are so excited to be celebrating the release of Marley Gibson's Ghost Huntress: The Discovery this week, and in doing so, each of the Buzz Girls is writing about discoveries. As for me, I like discovering new things about where I live: new things to do, new sights to see, new people to meet. I have a good friend named Meredith who lives in AZ but has a second home about 10 minutes away from where I live, here in UT. So every time she's here, we go to fun places for dinner, hit the lake in the summer or go skiing in the winter. As you can see in the photo, we accidentally showed up at Snowbasin with the same ski clothes. (People wondered if we were on the Swiss Ski Team!) She likes to go snow mobiling, but as you can read HERE I am banned from that particular sport so I have yet to join her. I really love it when she's in town because I get to vacation right here at home!

This summer marks the second time my family is having a big reunion in my town. We rent out a B&B and in addition to boating, hiking, biking, and fishing, we go to a petting farm and a crazy store called Smith & Edward's (where we took this photo), explore the a couple of hot pots at the base of the canyon, dip our toes in the Great Salt Lake, and do other random/silly/cool things together. I'm really excited to discover new things to do when they're all here come July.

For a chance to win Marley's fabulous prize package: a signed copy of THE DISCOVERY (Yay!), a dowsing pendulum, incense and an incense burner, and two awesome bracelets, leave a comment telling something you've discovered about where you live.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

DISCOVERING New Vegan Recipes

Hooray! It's another release week celebration here on the Buzz blog. Five cheers for Marley on the release of the fifth book in the Ghost Huntress series, The Discovery. As part of our week long celebration, we're talking about discoveries.

Since I became vegan more than a year ago (wow, has it been that long?) I've had to cook a lot more of my own food that I used to. Vegan options aren't always plentiful or tasty. So I'm always on the lookout for great new recipes. I have a few key sources for trustworthy ones.

Do you cook a lot or are you more of an eat out kind of person? Would you rather drive through, sit down, or stir up something on the stovetop? If you have a great source for recipes (vegan or otherwise) please share.

Marley's giving away a very cool prize pack this week. Comment on my post (and every post this week) to enter.



Monday, May 02, 2011

DISCOVERING New Favorite Authors

We are talking about discoveries this week, in celebration of the fifth book in Marley Gibson’s wonderful Ghost Huntress series, The Discovery.

Here she is, with a handful of her books!

Seeing Marley with her books, and thinking about discoveries, made me reflect on some wonderful moments with my kids when they discovered favorite new authors. Authors such as J. K. Rowling, Gordon Korman, John Green, Stephenie Meyer and Gary Paul. What a joy it was to know I was passing along my love of reading, and have them, in turn, share their new favorite authors with me!

In celebration of Marley’s release, she is hosting a week-long giveaway of an awesome gift pack which includes a signed copy of THE DISCOVERY, a dowsing pendulum, incense, an incense burner, a hematite and jade bracelet, and a homemade "I <3 Ghost Hunting" bracelet.

To be entered, simply leave a comment here, telling us the name of a favorite author you have discovered!

Congrats to Marley on her release, and good luck to all who enter this giveaway!


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

Sunday, May 01, 2011

It's Release Week!

Please forgive the late post. I've been traveling today and then at a friend's wedding. Just now getting to post an awesome announcement and giveaway for the week.

Today is release day for my new book, GHOST HUNTRESS: THE DISCOVERY! This is the fifth book in the series and I'm so excited about it! Kendall and her friends are back for more adventure and mystery. After some time off, Kendall’s ready to begin ghost hunting again. But her life is still in flux. She misses Patrick, her new love. She needs to find a photographer to replace Taylor. Plus, she may have discovered who her real father is, but to be sure, she has to convince his family she’s not a fake. And then there’s a certain doll that seems to be out to get her and her friends. A doll? How could that be? Unless, perhaps, it’s not just a doll. Maybe it’s a vessel containing the soul of a man so evil in life, not even death could stop his reign of terror. This could be Kendall’s most terrifying and deadliest encounter yet.

And to celebrate release week, I'm giving away an awesome gift pack including...a signed copy of THE DISCOVERY, a dowsing pendulum, incense, an incense burner, a hematite and jade bracelet, and a homemade "I <3 Ghost Hunting" bracelet.

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To be entered in the week-long celebration giveaway, just leave your name in the comment trail letting us know about a discovery you have made in your life. Join us all this week for the celebration!

Marley = )