Monday, July 19, 2010

Romeo & Juliet & Vampires book trailer!

I am thrilled to share the ROMEO & JULIET & VAMPIRES book trailer with all of you! My boyfriend Ben and I worked really hard on it, especially Ben--who composed all of the music. We're both very pleased with how it turned out, and hope you love it as much as we do.

Please stay tuned for a "making of" blog post, and share the trailer with anyone who might be interested in buying the book when it hits stores on August 31, 2010. You can also find the video here on YouTube:


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grease Sing-along!

The GREASE Sing-along was everything I thought it would be and more. First of all, it was awesome to see the movie on the big screen. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John were absolutely large-than-life, and looked so young! Secondly, the crowd was fabulous. Everyone did a great job singing the tunes we've all grown up with, loud and with pride! We even got up and started dancing around during the finale, "We Go Together." Yep, it was a total cheese-fest and I LOVED IT!

The best part, though, were all the graphics that were added to the movie. In addition to putting all the lyrics to the songs up where the audience could see them, there were purple heats floating in the air, pictures of Reddiwip cans in place of words they couldn't print on screen (hint: a choice line in the chorus of "Greased Lightning"), and graffiti on the school walls that read "For a good time, call Rizzo." It was very clever and I liked it.

I managed to take some decent screen shots during the movie. Hope y'all like them, and that the GREASE Sing-along comes to your town!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

(15) Girls (and three guys) Just Wanna Have Fun!

Last Saturday night was my friend Lindsey's bachelorette party, and it was filled with good, clean (mostly) American girl (+3 guys) fun. Lindsey had no idea what was in store for her all night, and we even made her a participate in a photo scavenger hunt, where she had to take pictures of certain things, like "You with a Yankees or Mets fan" or "Everybody jumping" or "You wearing a life jacket." It was super fun, and we all had an amazing time. Here are a few pics for your amusement! (But first let me say how much I love the purplish hue in this photo. It's like were Smurfs, sort of.)

6 p.m. -- So the group started off at a Mexican restaurant near Union Square called Los Dos Molinos. In a word: YUMMY. Lindsey had a spicy pork burrito that nearly burned through her tongue while I played it safe with beef tacos. There were some pitchers of ale and prickly pear margaritas, and lots of laughter, of course. I think I also said something lame like, "Whoa, dude. Marriage! Can you believe it? You and Jeff, FOREVER."

8:30 p.m. -- Party Boat, baby! We hopped on the 6 train to South Street Seaport, where we hopped on a Circle Line Downtown tour yacht to experience their Liberty Cruise. For two hours, we sailed along the open seas (a.k.a. the Hudson River) and enjoyed fantastic views of New York's most legendary landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. This voyage was a homage to Jeff and Lindsey, who got engaged on a similar kind of boat tour. Highlights included--dancing to lots of hip-hop songs that none of us knew; pointing to a part of the skyline and asking each other, "What building is that?"; and when Lindsey shouted "Shut up!" at someone in our group who interrupted her during an emotional "thank you for being my friends" speech.

11:30 p.m. -- Karaoke at the MK Lounge in Koreatown! Lindsey LOVES to sing, and she has an awesome voice, too (annoying, if you ask me), so there was no better way to celebrate the end of her life as a single gal. Because, let's face it, her singing days are OVER. (Kidding!) I happen to be known for picking terrible karaoke songs ("Buffalo Soldier", "We Are the World"--not kidding this time), but I didn't want to bring Lindsey down. So just stuck to the feel-good, easy-to-sing basics--"Bad Medicine" by Bon Jovi and "Material Girl" by Madonna. Highlights included--Lindsey's sultry rendition of "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles; Dave's thought-provoking take on "Radio Ga Ga"; and watching the ridiculous nonsense karaoke videos that go along with the music.

1 a.m. -- I got in a cab in went home (because I am weak--I admit it), but the party kept going on and on till the break of dawn. Lindsey and the group wound up meeting Jeff's bachelor party guests at a hotel for more tomfoolery. I am sorry that I missed it, because I hear they formed a human pyramid. What a jip!

Anyway, it was a fabulous night on the town and I look forward to Lindsey and Jeff's wedding on Saturday! Now I will leave you with a couple pics from Lindsey's photo scavenger hunt, which are particularly hilarious.

Lindsey in a life jacket.

Everyone jumping in the air. (Man, I got some good height! Gotta be the blue dress.)

Lindsey wearing some kind of hat (which belonged to the guy on the left).

The group doing what a sign says--in this case, "No Standing."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Author Photo Shoot Outtakes

Back in May, my college friend Eugene Prahin (and his beautiful wife Emilia) spent the day taking pictures of me near Columbus Circle and in Central Park. It was a lot of fun, yet somewhat exhausting. Euge kept asking me to "look/pose/act different" in every shot, and I just couldn't do anything but smile the same way each time. Tyra Banks is right--modeling IS hard!

Anyway, Euge did an amazing job and I had a ton of really nice photos to choose from. However, there were some pics that were not so flattering, and there were some I just couldn't use for one reason or another. So I thought it might be cool to share a few with you, plus add a teeny bit of commentary, of course. Okay, here we go!

I believe the direction here was "do something flashy." This is all I could come up with. Nice, huh?

I was told to "look like you wrote a sexy vampire book." Hmmmm....not quite.
This was my brilliant idea. I was supposed to be fish balloon. But instead I just appear to be mentally insane.
Okay, Euge actually asked those two breakdancers in the background if I could bust some moves on their dance mat. There was no music. I looked ridiculous and tourists started taking photos of me. Not cool, Euge. Not. Cool.
Euge said, "Pose like you're on the red carpet!" Just look at my natural elegance shining through! Watch out, world! (Seriously though, could my body be any more stiff?)
I look like I should be on a brochure for some community college.
This is dumb.
Even dumber (plus scary, too).
And then the heel of my shoe got caught in the planks on the bridge. Hence, the weird face.
I actually like this one, but it's a little too shadowy.
And this is my favorite! Just love the warm brown hues and the easy smile on my face.  :)
Thanks again, Euge, for a job well done! 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What do you suppose Clifford the Dog is thinking here?

My first guess is "Um, get this fangirl off of me."

My second guess is "Hey, somebody better tell this chick that I'm not real."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What's Doin' in July--An Abridged List

Want a peek at my July calendar? Sure you do! Here's a glimpse of what I'll be up to this month.

Tomorrow, July 7 (and every Wednesday night until August 25) -- Teaching an Intro to YA writing class at Mediabistro! Absolutely love getting neck-deep in the creative process with smart, talented, and dedicated people. I also have the honor and privilege of hosting marvelous guest speakers at my class. The line-up for this season is: Judy Goldschmidt, Chris Krovatin, Mandy Hubbard, Holly Root, Molly O'Neill, and Dan Ehrenhaft. I'll also be teaching another course in the fall, starting on September 16--click here if you're interested in signing up.

July 8 -- Lunch with Krista Marino, former colleague and Executive Editor extraordinaire at Delacorte Press. Krista edits a slew of bestselling YA novelists, including Carrie Ryan, Michael Scott, and James Dashner, and she is a kick-butt friend as well. We'll most likely catch-up over huge summer salads and talk lots of shop and discuss something pop culture related, like whether or not the world should totally give up on LiLo. Can. Not. Wait!

July 10 -- Bachelorette party for my good pal Lindsey Moore, who runs an amazing indie theater company called No Tea Productions. Her and her fiance Jeff (an actor/playwright in the company) are getting married after being together for a few years. I wish I could go into the details more--because they are, in fact, AWESOME--but it's supposed to be a surprise. So I will report back next week and tell you all about it, promise!

July 11 -- Preparing for more promotion of Romeo & Juliet & Vampires, via my blog and new website! I'm so thrilled with the redesign, and excited that in a few short weeks, the book will be OUT THERE. Okay, make that excited and scared. Eep!

July 15 -- Two words: GREASE SING-A-LONG! Mega props to my best bud Priscilla for finding out about this, because if I had missed it, I might never have been able to recover emotionally. Watch out, AMC VILLAGE on 66 3rd Ave--we are going to hand-jive the roof off the place!

July 17 -- Lindsey and Jeff's wedding. Cue the harp strings and flying doves? Actually, more like cue the shadow puppets and interpretive dance. (That just means Lindsey and Jeff have their own unique, nontraditional way of doing things--for instance Lindsey's maid of honor is a man, and Jeff's best man is a woman.)

July 21 -- Vacation in Pentwater, Michigan. Ben's family has a beautiful cottage right off the shore of Lake Michigan. It's nestled on top of a sand dune and you have to take a tram to get up there. The views are spectacular, and the weather is fantastically mild in the summer.
I went there last year and we had an unforgettable trip. We went to a fish boil, held a party on a couple of pontoon boats, sang around a bonfire, and ate our faces off every single day. Counting the days until I get there!

July 29 -- SCBWI Los Angeles conference! This is my first time to the event and I couldn't be more psyched about it. Everyone says what great fun this conference is and FINALLY I'll get to experience it firsthand. You can find the schedule here, and of course I'll give you the skinny when I return. I'm sure I will have lots of inspiring and amusing stories to share!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Lovin'--Rating the Grease soundtrack

The other day my boyfriend Ben told me a story about a road trip that he'd taken with his mom Terri and younger sister Grace, where he was forced to listen to the entire Grease soundtrack from start to finish. He recollected the sing-along with no small amount of disdain and misery, but all I could think was, "Man, I wish I could have been there!" and "BUT. NOW. There's noooooo-where to hide, 'cept to push my love asiiiiide! I'm out of my head, hopelessly devoted to yoooooouuu."

Grease is the word, and that word never gets old, no matter how many times you hear the songs or see the movie. There are plenty of opportunities to do both, considering VH-1 broadcasts the flick almost every night (I think it's  their version of the evening news or something).

Everyone has their favorite scenes (the dance contest, the race at Thunder Road, the montage of Danny learning how to be a jock, the slumber party at Frenchie's house). Everyone has their favorite tunes (There are Worse Things I Could Do; Greased Lightning; You're the One That I Want). A lot of us associate the soundtrack with summer (except for my boyfriend, who associates it with Hell), and since summer is in full bloom, I thought it would be fun to rate the big hits off the Grease soundtrack. Hope you enjoy my commentary--and that you throw on the CD once you're done reading (although I've included several hyperlinks below, so maybe you won't need to)!

1. Grease - Frankie Valli -- Slow-groove disco never sounded so funky! Also, Frankie Valli's voice (and fashion sense in this odd American Bandstand-ish video clip) is as smooth as butter. Favorite lyric: There is a chance that we can make it so far, We start believing now that we can be who we are. Inspiring, right? I thought so. Score: 7

2. Summer Nights - John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John -- How many times have you heard the DJ remix at a club or a wedding? Exactly, around a million. But that never stops anyone from squealing with delight when they hear the unforgettable opening notes, and forming two groups to belt out all of Danny/T-Birds and Sandy/Pink Ladies' parts. The song is like crack in that way. Also, I L-O-V-E the acapella background vocals. Favorite lyric--He got friendly holdin' my hand, Well she got friendly, down in the saaaaand. Added bonus: Rizzo's Cuz he sounds like a drag line. Score: 8

3. Hopelessly Devoted to You - Olivia Newton-John -- I used to hate this song back in the day, but only because I was super jealous of ONJ. I mean, the woman's voice was incredible, she was ridiculously pretty, and she got to kiss John Travolta (which every girl wanted to do in the early 80s, but not so much now). How could I not be green with envy? But now that I'm older, I can see how Hopelessly Devoted is an amazing song. Musically and lyrically, it's like vintage Patsy Cline, and ONJ's vocals are so perfect, I hardly ever sing along because that would just ruin everything. Favorite line: My head is saying fool forget him, my heart is saying don't let go. We've all been there, haven't we? Score: 9

4. You're the One That I Want - John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John -- First things first: I've always wanted to be in a situation where I could say, "Tell me about it, Stud." It has yet to happen, but I will wait patiently until it does. Now, onto the song: gotta love the unforgettable bass line and piano, and all the sassy attitude that Sexy Sandy displays. But I must admit, I've never really dug this tune. It's kind of repetitive and dare I say boring? Okay, I said it: boring. Favorite lyric: If you're filled with affection, you're too shy to convey, meditate in my direction, feel your way. Oh sexy Sandy, you are such a hoot! Score: 6

5. Beauty School Dropout - Frankie Avalon -- I don't want to upset any die-hard Frankie Avalon fans, and yet I don't think there's any way to avoid it. Even though the scene in the movie is really cute--Frenchie with pink hair? Adorable!--IMO, if this song dropped off the face of the earth, I would not miss it at all. That may sound harsh, especially since Frankie Avalon is a 50s icon and deserves all of our utmost respect. Nevertheless, I have to stick to my guns, and my guns want to shoot this song and put it out of it's misery. Favorite lyric: Baby don't sweat it, You're not cut out to hold a job. Better forget it, Who wants their hair done by a slob? Score: 3

6. Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee - Stockard Channing -- Let's just get this out of the way: Stockard Channing stole the show in this movie. All us goody-goody Sandra Dee clones desperately want to be foul-mouth, self-assured, "getting her kicks while she's young enough to get them" Rizzo. To this day, when I'm not feeling daring enough, I think to myself, What would Rizzo do? Then I climb out of my friend's bedroom window and hop into Kenickie's car. But I digress. Love, love, LOVE this song because of the lyrics. There are so many gems, but my favorite has always been Keep your paws off my silky draws! Would you pull that crap with Annette? Score: 8

8. Greased Lightnin' - John Travolta -- I dare you not to fall for Danny Zuko and his sweet, hot car talk. We'll get some overhead lifters, and four barrel quads, oh yeah. Mmmm...keep talkin', whoah keep talkin'. Fuel injection cut off, and chrome plated rods, oh yeah. See what I mean? Totally irresistable. I wish all men were this sensitive and poetic. The only problem with this song is that it's charisma is lost if you don't do the little arm movements when he sings, Greased lightning, go greased lightning! Well, that and the song kind of objectifies women a little. But it takes place in the 50s! Cut the dudes some slack! Score: 5

(I'm going to pause for a moment and pay tribute to Sha Na Na aka Johnny Casino and the Gamblers. The dance contest scenes are some of the most well-loved in movie history and that's a testament to their classic 50s sound. Could you imagine the movie soundtrack without Rock 'N Roll is Here to Stay or Born to Hand Jive or Tears on My Pillow? Yeah, that's impossible. Also, Sha Na Na became so popular after this movie, they were given their own variety show, which my dad used to watch a lot when I was knee high to a grasshopper. Here's a clip of them singing Blue Moon--

9. There Are Worse Things I Could Do - Stockard Channing -- Okay, this song is a perfect 10 and here's why. A) Everything is spectacular when it's done by Rizzo; B) It's the most authentic 50s sounding tune on the entire soundtrack; C) The context--Rizzo is the subject of some terrible high school gossip, and is trying to convince herself that there are worse things she could do. I must admit, when gossip spread about me as a teenager, I wasn't half as strong as Rizzo was. Still, hearing this song makes you feel really empowered and like you can take on the world, despite the BS of mean girls everywhere; D) The song title--awesome; E) The lyrics--double awesome. My favorite: Even though the neighborhood thinks I'm trashy, and no good. I suppose it could be true, but there are worse things I could do. So true, Rizzo. So, so true.

10. Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee - Olivia Newton-John -- Can you think of another movie that touts the message, "Just change who you are to nab the man you love!" Me neither. But who cares! It's Grease, my friends, and the important thing is that ONJ is in tight leather pants at the end. 'Nuff said. Score: 7

11. We Go Together - John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John /Cast -- I think someone will take you away in a flying car if you say that you don't love Grease's big finale. And that someone will be me. The dancing! The prancing! The singing a bunch of nonsense words that don't mean anything! It's all one big flaming ball of magic. Favorite line: Remembered for ever like shoo bop shoo wadda wadda yipitty boom de boom. Don't ever forget that piece of wisdom, okay? Score: 9

Rydell High forever!