Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Romeo & Juliet & Vampires is a Junior Library Guild pick!

Great news, everybody! The Junior Library Guild has chosen Romeo & Juliet & Vampires to be a selection for their new paperback originals group for teens. They are also featuring a piece on the book in their magazine, JLG Monthly. I am so thrilled!

The Junior Library Guild is a literary review and selection service for children’s and young adult books serving school and public libraries. JLG is currently used by more than 17,000 librarians nationwide. Of the more than 3,000 manuscripts submitted by publishers to JLG for consideration, only 360 are chosen each year.

What an honor! Thank you so much, JLG!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Before I was hot...

Okay, people. You need to check out this hilarious new site: And not just because yours truly is on it! (Click here to see the post.) The amazing awkward-stage photos are totally awesome in all their feathered-hair, braces, glasses, mullet, floral jams, and acid-washed jeans glory.

I know some of you would rather forget those years when your mom cut your hair or when you dressed like MC Hammer or when your teeth were as crooked at Bernie Madoff. But I'm here to tell you that embracing that version of you--and celebrating it on a website such as this--is a liberating experience.

This photo of me and George Takei (aka Mr. Sulu from the original Star Trek series) has been fan favorite among my family and friends since it was taken waaaaaay back in 1984. People love how ginormous my glasses were (my cheeks were exposed to more lens than my actual eyes) and that lame "Beam me up, Scottie!" t-shirt my mom made me wear (to make matters worse, my NAME was printed on the back of it, so you could pick me out of a Trekkie convention crowd, no problem). Other people just love George Takei and his unforgettable laugh (heard most often on Howard Stern's radio show).

Here's what I love most about it--that smile on my face seems pretty authentic, even though I didn't like being dragged to any ST convention within a five hundred mile radius of Binghamton, or having a boy's hairstyle. That's kind of what's incredible about being a kid: you have the ability to find joy in simple things. In this case, it was getting my picture taken with some dude who helmed a starship on TV. The smile on George's face feels very real to me, too. Not only did he greet me by name (like I said, it was printed on THE BACK OF MY SHIRT), but he talked to me for a few minutes and never treated me like a child. I think that genuineness comes through in the picture for sure.

This is precisely why I've posted this photo on various social networking sites, and made a holiday card out of it a couple years ago. It captures me at my most awkward and innocent and hopeful of times. And let it be known that while my mom stopped dragging me to conventions when I turned 15 (she would have to had done so with me in a body bag), I actually developed a true fondness for the entire Star Trek franchise, including the J.J. Abrams movie (sheer genius). 

Delving into my love for ST would take a whole other blog post. However, I will illustrate it with this Halloween picture from last year, when I was all about getting back to my convention roots.

Live long and prosper, give that awkward kid inside of you a hug, and don't forget to check out Before You Were Hot!

Friday, June 25, 2010

You had me at "Does this train go to Christopher Street?"

I love hearing about how couples met, don't you? Even when someone says, "Oh, we met," I want to hear all the nitty-gritty details: Who "winked" at who first? Where was your first date? Did he look anything like his picture?

Well, my boyfriend Ben's best friend Dru and his new bride Robin have an amazing "how we met" story. Apparently, Dru noticed Robin on the PATH train as he was headed into Manhattan one night. He tried to think of a way to approach her and wound up pretending like he didn't know where he was going so he could ask Robin for directions. The dude is smart.

Robin was reading, I think, and when she heard a male voice inquire if this train went to Christopher Street, she heaved a heavy sigh. Like a lot of us on the subway, she didn't really feel like talking to a stranger. But then she looked up, and there was Dru, all smiles and beaming. Robin was supposed to get off at the 14th Street stop, but she decided to stay on the train so that she could talk with Dru more. They both got off at Christopher street and before parting ways, Dru asked Robin if they could meet up sometime. Robin said yes and took his number.

Whaddya know? His little plan worked!

Two years later, Dru proposed to Robin at the place where they first met--the PATH train! As they were boarding, Dru sneakily asked a fellow commuter to take their picture when he went down on one knee. Then he popped the question right there, in front of a subway car full of witnesses, as they crossed the New Jersey/New York state line.

Last weekend, Dru and Robin got married in Mount Olive, NJ, on this beautiful, green hilltop. Ben played the music for the ceremony, and Ben's father, who's the head minister at the Brick Church on Park Avenue, performed the ceremony. It was such a lovely, sunny day, and Dru and Robin couldn't have looked happier.

If any of you folks have a great "how we/they met" story, please feel free to share it in the comments section. Like I said, I can't get enough of them.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Please don't go, NKOTB!

In 2008, New Kids on the Block released a new album, aptly titled The Block, and went on a reunion tour. A bunch of friends and I went to see them at Madison Square Garden. It was undoubtedly one of the most fun nights of our lives. Which is why we went to see them again last week at Radio City Music Hall. Was the NKOTB magic still alive? To quote Sarah Palin (something I never do)--You betcha!

Before you roll your eyes or snicker or something, let me explain what happens when you are in a room with thousands of women and Jordan, Joey, Donnie, Jon, and Danny come running on stage. In a word: PANDEMONIUM! The kind that can only be caused by a large swarm of crazed 13-year-old girls. The sweet, sweet mob mentality takes hold of you and won't let go. Check out the demented look here in my eyes? Thankfully, my friend Michelle was impervious to the NKOTB madness (probably because she had seen them five times when she was a tween) or else I would have fainted and been dragged out of the balcony.

In all seriousness, though, the reason why thirty-something women like me are still going to NKOTB concerts is because it's the closest thing to a time warp that we'll ever experience. We step inside the venue, the band comes out, the screaming starts, and it's 1988 all over again. I could almost feel my hair transform into a spiral perm and my jeans morph into stirrup pants. And the same thing was happening to everyone around me, too. There was this uniform feeling amongst us all, that we'd travelled to a simpler time, when crushes on Joey McIyntre and Jordan Knight were the most fulfilling romantic relationships in our lives. Who wouldn't want to re-experience that youthful innocence, if given the chance?

This must have been the thinking of the NKOTB management team, because their shows have been selling out all across the country for the last couple years. Not only that, there was a NKOTB cruise--as in an actual cruise ship where the band performed for three nights. Yep, that sold out, too. I suppose there are some women out there who think that being on ship with NKOTB increases their chances of meeting them. Considering how well the guys have aged, I can't say that I blame them.

Just for the record, when I was a kid, my favorite NKOTB member was Joey Mac. As the youngest, smallest kid on the block, he just seemed so cute and adorable, especially when he sang Please Don't Go, Girl, wearing his smiley-face jacket and his signature hat with the top cut out. Now, he's wearing eye-liner and a tuxedo jacket minus the shirt and singing the Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) while a spotlight shines on his abs.

Well, I guess being a grown-up ain't so bad. :0)

(To see more pictures of the concert, click here:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A childhood dream come true--I met Nellie Oleson!

Yesterday was shaping up to be a typical Tuesday. I was at the office, filling out forms for upcoming cover meetings, reading writing samples, etc. Then came the news I had been waiting for ever since my favorite TV show went off the air, waaaaay back in 1983. I got a company wide email, promoting the book tour for Alison Arngrim (AKA Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie). She was going to be at the Time Warner Center Borders signing copies of her new memoir, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch.  My reaction went something like this: there was a long silent scream, followed by me jumping out of my chair and performing multiple fist pumps (with both arms!) into the air. Then I took several deep breaths and quietly sat back down, reminding myself that I was at work and if anyone saw me freaking out, people might think I was a lunatic.

The truth is, I am crazy--crazy for that wholesome heartland drama, Charles Ingalls's smoothly waxed chest, Nellie's bad wig, and Laura Ingalls's big buck teeth. But I am surely not alone. LHOTP-fanaticism is out there, folks--a packed special events area at Borders does not lie!

Now, let me clarify one thing before I tell you how awesome it was to chill with Nellie Oleson for an hour. I read all the Little House books when I was a kid, but the TV show had much more of an impact on me. It was one of the only things on TV I was allowed to watch without parental supervision, and one of the only things that made me feel like part of a close knit family. My mom and dad had a rocky relationship that ended in divorce, and LHOTP gave me the opportunity to leave that reality for a while and become a daughter to Charles and Caroline, and a sister to Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Grace. Michael Landon did an incredible job of portraying this family unit who could face any hardship and pull through it together.

I'm sure a lot of other girls my age saw themselves in Laura, too. She was spunky and a tomboy and a smart ass (sometimes) and had to work hard for her good grades and every other accomplishment she'd made. One of my close friends admitted to wearing her hair in braids and instructing her family to refer to her as Laura, which I would have done if my mom had let my hair grow past my ears.

As for Nellie, she was the girl that everyone loved to hate, and Alison Arngrim has totally embraced that, which I think is fabulous. In each episode when she appeared, I always waited in sheer delight for the moment when Laura would level her with a punch to the face. Arngrim played Nellie to utter perfection and the show would have been really boring without her (and of course, Mrs. Oleson, embodied by the fantastic Katherine MacGregor--who is still alive and well and driving her own car, much to the dismay of Arngrim).

With that said, I was not surprised that everyone and their brother came out to see Nellie Live! There wasn't an empty seat at Borders, and the crowd was really mixed--men and women of all ages and backgrounds, who brought along their kids and in some cases, their parents. When Arngrim came out to greet us all, she pulled out her iPhone and started filming the group, telling us all that this was her first book reading and she wanted to commemorate the moment. It was so endearing and un-Nellie like! I wanted to hug her more than slug her.

Then Arngrim read from her memoir, which is actually an adaptation of her one-woman show, and took questions from the audience. What was it like to work with Michael Landon? What is your favorite LHOTP episode? Are you and Melissa Gilbert really friends? Arngrim answers all these in the book so I won't go into it here. (If you're a fan, you should go out and get a copy now!) But I will say that she was extremely charming and funny and approachable. I was smiling the entire time, especially when I raised my hand to ask her a question and she said, "Yes, the girl in the pretty dress." (I just happened to be wearing the most prairie-inspired floral dress that I own. Coincidence? I think not!)

In case you are curious, here was my question:

"Did you keep any mementos from the LHOTP set? Because I would kill for that jacket you wore in The Cheaters episode in Season Five."

Okay, yeah, I own the entire TV show on DVD. SO WHAT?!

Anyway, Arngrim did not get to keep anything from the show, but fans make her stuff all the time, like paintings of Nellie and scale models of Oleson's Mercantile. God, I'm so jealous of her.

Then came the signing. I was twitching in line, that's how nervous I was. I had to plan out what I was going to say, and I had to be funny and smart and awesome so Nellie wouldn't think I was a loser and make fun of me. So when I finally met her, I told her that I knew all the church songs from the show by heart. And then we launched into a rousing rendition of Onward Christian Soldiers. I KID YOU NOT!

Afterward, I ran down the escalator like Melissa Gilbert runs down the hill during the closing credits of every episode, complete with the big skip at the end. I wish I had the power to freeze frame my glee, because it truly made the child inside me happy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In with the new...

A couple of weeks ago, my lovely editor Catherine moved to Hyperion, where she's now a Senior Editor. Honestly, I couldn't be happier for her. She is super talented and bright and has a keen sense for what's selling in the market. That's not all--she's a top-notch editor who supported me through every draft of ROMEO & JULIET & VAMPIRES. I couldn't have made it to the finish line without her.

Also, she and the design team at HarperTeen get a million bonus points for nailing the book cover. I mean, come on, have you seen anything cooler than this lately? I know I haven't! :)

Still, I gotta admit that it was hard to see Catherine go. Of course, I wish nothing but the best for her and her career, but I can't deny that I felt a little scared about what would happen to our project. As an editor, I've seen books fall through the cracks when there is a changing of the guard. It's unfortunate, and no one's fault, really, but nevertheless, it can happen. So I wrote up a little list of what I needed to do in the next coming months and made a lunch appointment with my editor in the interim, Erica. I wanted to do everything possible to keep the book on track, and for some reason, putting my ideas down on paper made it feel all official, even though it was written in red pencil on a subscription card from Glamour magazine. 

I have to say, I was a bit nervous meeting with Erica. Although I know her from the office (when I'm wearing my editor hat), I had the same concerns every author has when their editor has been replaced. Are we going to click? Is she going to be invested in the book as much as my former editor? Will she even like the book at all?

Thankfully, there was no need to be nervous. Erica and I had a great lunch! Not only was she excited about my book, she was excited to get to know me, which felt fabulous. We have a lot in common--an obsession with the TV show Friday Night Lights and a deep love of Sushiden on 49th and Madison, to name a few. I didn't even need to pull out that Glamour subscription card! The conversation came so easily to us.

So Catherine was absolutely right--I am in good hands. Now I can exhale and start doing some of the stuff on that list, like creating a book trailer!

To be continued...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Back in blog-ness!

I really can't remember the I last time I blogged. Maybe it was almost a year ago, and if I'm not mistaken, the post was about how bad I felt about not blogging more often. 

I do have some good reasons for being MIA. First of all, I was pretty burnt out from writing the IN OR OUT series. I don't know if you're aware of this, but I wrote those four books in 18 months. I went to my day job at Delacorte Press from 9 to 5, worked on my writing from 7 to 11, and on the weekends, I would spend almost all my time with Nola James and Marnie Fitzpatrick in Poughkeepsie. The amount of energy I had left over after the books were all finished went toward sleeping and TV watching. Oh and eating my face off.

And then something amazing happened at my day job--I fell in love! Believe it or not, my Mr. Right was sitting in a cubicle on the other side of the 9th floor. I remember the day I first saw Ben so vividly. I was at my desk emailing someone, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a gorgeous guy passing by my office--blond hair, hazel eyes, tall, incredible smile. I think I may have even got up out of my chair and watched him walk down the hall! Anyway, Ben wound up asking me out at our company Halloween party and we've been together for a year and a half. I must admit, I've invested all my heart in the relationship and a lot of my time, too. So blogging about my life didn't seem as important to me as actually living it, know what I mean?

And then something horrible happened at my day job--I got laid off! It was sudden, it was unexpected, and it was heartbreaking. I loved working at Delacorte and had built many friendships there. I also had to leave behind projects and authors that I adored. I was so disappointed and hurt that I kind of dropped off the face of the earth for a while. I guess I was feeling rejected and doubting myself, wondering if I hadn't been meeting people's expectations or if I wasn't any good at being an editor. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling up to writing about my life, because I was kind of seeing myself as a failure. Who wants to read about that?!

I eventually realized that there's a blessing in every life lesson, though. For six months, I lived as a freelance editor and writer, supporting myself just as well as I did when I was at Delacorte. I edited mystery novels, I wrote sitcom pilots, I did temp work, I ghostwrote a book in a long-running series for tweens, and I taught a course on how to write a YA novel. Basically, I never turned down a job opportunity, and boy, did it pay off. I really got my self-confidence back and showed myself that not only was I good at what I do, but I had the skills to pay the bills! I didn't need a full-time job to validate me, I could do that all on my own.

And then serendipity struck in November 09--the moment I realized that I could work independently and continue to thrive, two huge opportunities came my way, both of them through HarperCollins. I was offered a book deal with HarperTeen AND a Senior Editor position at Katherine Tegen Books--within two weeks of each other! I spent the next few months writing the novel and developing new teen series for KT Books, so blogging wasn't something I could fit into my life.

And now here I am, settled into the new job, finished with the new novel, still deliriously in love, and ready to chronicle my adventures again online! Not only do I have more time, but I have more drive, inspiration, and energy than ever before. 

I'm so excited to give you all a glimpse of my little nook in the world, now that I'm exactly where I want to be. Stay tuned...