Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Since today is the last day of work before CHRISTMAS, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for coming here (even when I have very little to say...*cough* lately *cough*). You're fabulous.

I hope you each have a wonderful holiday!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fall for Anything!!

Today...I'm pretty darn excited. FALL FOR ANYTHING by Courtney Summers is out in the world!

Y'all *may* know that I'm a huge fan of Courtney Summers' books. CRACKED UP TO BE stole my breath with its awesomeness (Go Parker!). SOME GIRLS ARE punched me in the gut with its truth, its glimpse into both sides of bullying.

FALL FOR ANYTHING, in the immortal words of Bill Cameron, punched me in the soul.

FFA is the story of Eddie Reeves, an enigmatic, sarcastic, complex mess of a girl--eminently relatable--dealing with the suicide of her father. Eddie wants more than anything to know why, and she thinks somehow if she can figure that out, the rest of life will make sense. Of course it's not that simple, and it hurts to be immersed in Eddie's head. But oh, readers--it is so very worth it. Once again Courtney jabs right to the truth of the world of this girl, this time the truth of grief, and loss, and mourning, and the terrible fact that life keeps going on.

Courtney's writing is spare and beautiful. Her characters are so real they live in my head for months after--even secondary characters. Milo, Eddie's best friend, is fabulous. And Culler...well, I'll let you find that one out for yourself.

The best way to summarize my feelings for this book is this: READ IT. PLEASE. And then we can talk. :)

I already gave away my early copy of FFA to a lucky Twitter winner (thanks to everyone for playing the #fallforanything contest!), but I'm heading out today to buy my for-real copy. Are you?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

How to Liven up Shakespeare

The title is a joke, because I'm a complete Shakespeare NERD and I think Shakespeare plays are pretty lively as they are. But last night, Child's school managed to make it even more interesting.

Her school did Twelfth Night for their Christmas play last year, and this year they tackled Midsummer Night's Dream (abridged versions, both--this is for 1st through 6th graders to act). I was thrilled when Child was given the part of Hermia. She's never tried a major part before, but that one's perfect for her. She's "petite" like her mother, so all the "little" lines totally fit.

Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? speak;
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes. 

The audience laughed loudly with the last line. She practically growled when she said it! AWESOMENESS.

Also, she was paired with her best friend who's a boy (sort-of "boyfriend" though that doesn't mean much at this age) as her lover, and Helena was played by her female best friend. The 4 of them in all those scenes have a great time together, and you can tell.

Anyway, the performance went fabulously, the audience packed full of appreciative parents and grandparents, until, in the middle of the second of the players broke the lantern, right in the middle of the stage.

Broken glass, scattered all over the stage. The whole parent-audience groaned as the play continued, the kids dancing over and smashing the broken glass. I don't think any of us were looking above the level of the floor at that point--we were all just watching where the glass was, spreading as they crunched over it.

But these kids had shoes, and they were okay. Some of us knew from dress rehearsal that the next scene was fairies. Barefoot fairies.

The quick-thinking narrator ran out and got a broom and swept the stage while delivering her lines, but she's 10 or 11 and didn't really have the knack of how to sweep glass. She dramatically swept the bulk of it off into the wings (with flourishes), but we could still see the remnants, lots of them, winking at us in the lights.

They'll stop the play, I kept thinking. They have to stop it and clean the stage. 

But the kids kept going, saying their lines perfectly. And then Puck--the oldest girl in the school, a sixth grader--came on, and stepped squarely, firmly, right in the glass, with her bare feet.

The whole audience gasped. One parent ran backstage, one ran back up the aisle to the teacher in the sound booth. Puck kept delivering her lines as we all wondered if she was cut, murmuring to each other. And then all the little kids, dressed as fairies, appeared at the back of the stage, their feet bare, and prepared for their dance--and we knew it had to stop.

The teacher ran down the aisle and jumped up on the stage, herding the little ones away from the danger area. They kept dancing, but away from the glass. Puck conveniently had to sweep the stage for her part then, and got the rest of it. Then she gave her speech, they did bows, and it was all over.

I'm pretty sure Puck did cut her feet a little. When my husband asked her in the reception line if her feet were okay, she winced. (The wife of the head teacher is a doctor, so I'm sure she also got fixed up quick if she did.)

But as it all came through okay at the end, we were able to appreciate the extra drama of the evening. My husband turned to me as we were waiting for Child and said "What do you think we should try tomorrow to top that? Boiling oil? Real swords?"

Probably not. But it did make the whole ending pretty darn exciting.

Friday, December 03, 2010


Hi all!!

It's Tiara Day again! This one was called in celebration of two things officially: the birth on November 16 of my beloved friend Tiffany Schmidt's twin boys (helloooo Asher and Bradford: welcome to Sparkle-Town!) and the new agent of the lovely Julie Butcher-Feydnich (@jimsissy on Twitter), who ASKED for a TD. :)

(It's also unofficially for a couple of OTHER lovelies who had good news last month, but I can't reveal those. You KNOW WHO YOU ARE.)

Now, you're probably wondering about that kind of funky tiara pic I've got going this time. It does look odd, yes. But there's a good story behind it. (I told this story before after the trip, but I'm REPEATING IT, okay?)

When I made my first trip to New York City in January last year, for the SCBWI conference, I got to meet up with the Fabulous Sharkly Agent Janet (of course). It wasn't the first time I'd met her in person, but the first time in her beloved city. I knew she had a couple of plans of where to take me. But when I saw her, she was practically giggling.

"You'd better laugh when you see this," she said, "or I'll disown you." She studied me. "Never mind, you're going to laugh."

She maneuvered me through my first subway trip, and stood me right here.

A tiara! On the wall of the subway station!

See me grinning my head off? Nah, she doesn't know me AT ALL.

Then she took me to a chocolate restaurant for lunch, Max Brenner's.

So in light of the fact that today's Tiara Day is half about an agent matchup, and that it's almost January again, it's the perfect Tiara Day avatar. Don't you think?

Hope you join in the celebration!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Walk Pics

Remember the whole "Daily Walk" thing I had planned way back in the summer?

Not so much daily. More like occasional. But that's okay with me, really. I have a problem with required activities, even if it's me that came up with them!

I had to walk across campus today with the big camera in hand, and decided it'd be nice to take a few shots of what it looks like now. Quite a bit different from those pics in summer.

(oh, and sorry I've been so long without posting, etc., hope you had a happy thanksgiving and holiday and ALL THAT. I have just been BUSY. And reading many manuscripts and writing, yes! It is all good!)

Mountains in the distance. I love the smell of these pines in winter.

Massive icicle. The scary thing is how many more of these there were on the ground nearby. (duck!)

Not much going on at the football field today.

It's snowing in the far mountains!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday, November 16th, ROCKS

Today has been incredible in my circle of friends. Lives were changed, hopes realized. All came out WELL.

Some of this news is sekrit, but I can share the biggest and the best:

WELCOME to Asher and Bradford Schmidt, the two newest members of Team Sparkle!!! They made their entrance early, but it still feels like we've been waiting for them forever.

Congratulations and Happy Birthday to their parents, Matt and Tiffany Schmidt. Tiffany is a CP, a confidante, and an AMAZING person.

I am so happy today.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The big SPLAT

Normally I am not one for the moral in a story, but this one just might have a moral in there. WATCH FOR IT.

So on Saturday, Hubby, Child and I were lounging around purposeless, as you do on a Saturday, and decided to go see MEGAMIND. It was gorgeous and warm, so we walked. We watched, laughed, snarfed popcorn and Mike & Ikes, and headed back. It was twilight, with just a bite of cold in the air, enough that Child and I were talking about lighting pine-scented candles and giving her a warm bath. All three of us were laughing, happy. I actually thought to myself How happy I am right now.

Then Child said, "Let's race home!" and I was feeling so silly and giddy that I said "You're on!" and we took off. It was only about a block further.

She was ahead, going in the gate by the garage, and I thought "I'll fool her and go in the other gate and beat her," and just as I thought that,

the ground wasn't there anymore.

I was in the air, with nothing under my feet, and then I was on my face on the gravel, spread-eagled.

Being in the family I'm in, I popped RIGHT back up and started walking for the door as if nothing had happened. Yes, we're like cats.

But it HURT. Oh my GOD it hurt. The heels of my hands, my elbow, my left knee, all on fire at once.

"Are you okay?" Hubby yelled, behind me.

"No," I said, through gritted teeth, because I could get up, but I couldn't lie that much. But I kept walking to the house. I let us in, went straight to the bathroom, and rinsed off my hands with cool water. It was all I could think to do, to make it stop burning.

Hubby appeared in the bathroom door. "Are you okay?" he repeated. Demanded. "You tore your jeans."

I kept rinsing my hands. "My jeans are the least of my worries right now."

"What are your worries then?"

"My hands. And my knee. My knee hurts mad."

He looked at my jeans, at my face. "Show me your knee."

Yes, dear readers, it was a bloody mess. Is, though it's much better now. But that night, all of a sudden I was an invalid. I couldn't stand to have anything touching it. Couldn't stand to bend it, to move. Couldn't sleep for how much it hurt. I got up to go to the bathroom in the night and it was ten minutes before I could do anything but wait for it to stop hurting like that.

Of course I was also trying to be brave about it, so Child wouldn't feel bad. She'd suggested running, so she thought it was her fault.

But what was the moral that I kept thinking about all that sleepless night? How quickly things change. You're happy, oblivious, chugging along, and you make one innocent decision and BLAM. SPLAT.

I know, this was a minor oops on the grand scale, but I think most accidents, most life-changing oopses, are like that. Life is one way, and then it's not anymore, and all of a sudden you have to adjust to the new reality. Whatever that is.

Sheesh, you'd think I could fall without having major life epiphanies, but YOU WOULD BE WRONG. :)

(also, my other major thought was THANK GOD IT WAS ME AND NOT CHILD. But you parents knew that one already)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


AND THE WINNER IS, by random draw...LINDA GRIMES!!
This makes me laugh only because I think she's entered every one of my contests and never won. It had to happen eventually! :) Congrats, Linda!

To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout. Jem. Boo Radley.

Gregory Peck as the hot single-dad campaigner for justice.

Oh, I'm sorry, I got distracted for a minute. *shakes self*
Anyway. You loved the book and the movie, right? I even loved the play.

So imagine if you took the spirit of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD--the hard, cold edge of justice standing up to powerful forces, the complexity of crime and personal relations in a small community--and you infused it into a YA novel? With excellent, turn-the-page writing and strong, breathing characters?

You'd have Daisy Whitney's debut novel THE MOCKINGBIRDS, which came out yesterday!!

I had the privilege to read this book a while back, and let me tell you, it's good. It's strong, and brave, and very different from the rest of the books out there on the shelves right now. And I'd like to share it with YOU.

To win a brand-new, shipped-to-your-house copy of THE MOCKINGBIRDS, all you have to do is comment below, with:

--your favorite scene from the book or movie of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 
--OR the reason you want to read this book!!

Contest will close Friday morning at 8 am my time, and I'll buy the book and ship it off to you. North American entries only, I'm afraid. (yes, Canada!)

You want to win? Want to see what everybody's talking about? GO!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Democracy in action...

Conversation on the way into school today:

Me: I get to vote today.

Child: Oh, me too.

Me: What?

Child: We have school elections. *pause* I'm running for Senator.

Me: O_o
Me: Really?'t even know you were having elections.

(Child explains the complexity of the elections, the slates of candidates she has to decide from, and the rules. There are about 12 kids running for Senator (of 24) and 5 can be elected.)

As we pull up,

Me: Well, good luck then! That's exciting.

Child: Yeah, I think I'll need it. Everybody else has 3 to 5 signs up. But you have to make them during chapter book (a read-aloud period), and I'd rather draw. *shrugs* *runs in*

Not exactly an enthusiastic candidate, maybe. But still pretty darn cool, y?

Edited to add:

She won!! Her teacher told me privately that it was really a popularity contest, and "she's popular".

As a bullied, deeply unpopular kid at her age, this still made me happy. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tiara Day!

It's TIARA DAY again!!

Last time we sparkled against cancer. I am ALWAYS sparkling against cancer, but today's is more just about playing and having fun.

Also, kid-like. I am wearing my Mickey Mouse (Minnie Mouse?) ears with the tiara. I may or may not have bought this at Disneyland just for Tiara Day.

Okay, I did.

So to play, wear a tiara on your actual head, or slap one on your avatar for the day! Have fun and be silly!

Happy Tiara Day!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010



It's a stuffy, prim little word, isn't it? Like a proper old lady sitting in a brocade chair with her ankles crossed.

"Virtuous," she says, sipping her tea, nodding. "A lady must be virtuous."

THAT kind of virtuous I will never be, despite the efforts of proper old ladies everywhere. But over the past few years, I have learned the simple pleasure of bursts of virtuous.

I have bad habits, you see. I procrastinate, play solitaire, eat candy, sneak in reading or old TV when I know there are other things I should be doing, things that are important to me for my goals--or that make me feel accomplished. So when I actually do those things, I feel pleased. Proud of myself. Virtuous.

I feel virtuous when I:

not only get my writing goal in for the day, but surpass it.
actually do make lunches the night before.
exercise (hey, it's rare, but it does happen).
write a decent blog post.
cook an interesting, nutritious meal for my family (and they like it!).
clean the kitchen, completely, not in spots.
fold a load of laundry and get it put away in less than a day after starting it.
remember Child's increasingly complicated schedule and pack the right things
volunteer for something important to me.

You know that feeling, right? Kind of wow-I-am-a-successful-grown-up.

I guess it's an inner gold star.

What makes you feel virtuous?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eeee! The Near Witch cover.

I am so happy to be part of Victoria Schwab's Cover Release Extravaganza!!


"The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget."

Also NOTE: THE NEAR WITCH just became available for pre-order on Amazon, here:

Friday, October 01, 2010

The winner of ANNIE'S ADVENTURES is...


Congrats, Trisha! I hope you and/or your kiddos enjoy it. :)

I am not blogging more today because:

a) I have a horrible cough and I don't feel like doing much and

b) in spite of (a), it is Homecoming weekend and I have a zillion activities I have to do. So later, peeps!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sisters Eight Interview and Giveaway!

As promised, here's Child's* interview with Jackie Logsted about  her part in writing the fabulous Sisters Eight series. Jackie's 10, and Child is 8 (excuse me: 8 and a HALF!). Child loves to read the series, but I think she's also inspired by the idea that Jackie helps write it--she's started writing plays with her classmates at school. She also acts, just like Jackie!

*I promised I would reiterate that her real name is not Child. Child is her secret identity. :) 

Here's the blurb about the Sisters Eight series:

It’s a good old-fashioned mystery with missing (or dead) parents, nosy neighbors, talking refrigerators, foul-smelling fruitcake (is there any other kind?), and even a little magic. Eight little girls, eight cats, and one big mystery—let the fun begin!

Stay tuned to the end of the interview to find out how you can win a hardback copy of Annie's Adventures!

Child: What part do you help with when you're writing the books?

Jackie: Well, me and my dad give tons of ideas, and the way I help is, I try to think of good ideas for my mom to write into the story, I tell her the ideas, and hope for the best.

Child: It's hard to pick because I like all of them, but I think my favorite sister is Durinda, because she's nice. What's your favorite character?

Jackie: It's really hard to pick, but if I had to choose, I think I'd choose Zinnia because, if you think about it, she doesn't lie, she's nice and she sticks to who she is. She's unique, and I like it.

Child: In the books, Jackie is funny and fast (like fast-as-a-train fast!). Are you like Jackie?

Jackie: Yes and no. Of course, I am Jackie, but I'm not fast. I'd even have to say that I'm one of the worst at anything sports-related in my class. I'm not sure if I'm funny or not. I'd have to say that I'm half like Jackie Huit. Everything else is all me. (Jackie's mom would just like to say that Jackie is very funny, whether she knows it or not.)

Child: So far my favorite adventure is Jackie's Jokes. What's your favorite?

Jackie: My favorite book would have to be Petal's Problems. It comes out in October 2010 and at the moment I'm writing this, it hasn't come out yet, so I can't tell you why I like it. I'll just say, I like it.

Child: If you could have anything from the Huit's house (like seasonal rooms or talking refrigerators), what would you have?

Jackie: I would have to say the Seasonal Rooms because if it was cold and I wanted to get warm, I could! If it was warm and I wanted to cool off, I could! I just think it would be fun and would come in handy.

Child: The sisters each have a cat. I have a dog named Daisy. Do you have a pet?

Jackie: I technically have a pet. In the past, I had two fish: Drink and Goldy. They both died. But a few weeks ago, I was with my friends Lawerence and Andrew and we found a newt! We keep it at their house, but it's technically both of ours, so I technically have a pet.

Child: (We had fish and they died too. That's just like me!)  I want to be an artist when I grow up. What do you want to be?

Jackie: Up until recently, I had no idea what I wanted to be, but about three weeks ago I finally decided. When I grow up, I want to be an actress. I just love to act! It's one of my favorite things to do. Thanks for interviewing me!

Thanks for joining us, Jackie!! And as she mentioned, Petal's Problems will be out in a few days. I know we'll be lining up to see what happens when it's Petal's month.

In honor of Jackie's Jokes, we're going to have a little joke contest here on the blog.

To enter to win a copy of Annie's Adventures (read it yourself, pass it on to your favorite middle grader, or donate it to your local library or school library!)--or just to join in--share your favorite knock-knock joke in the comments below. Just make sure to say if you want to be entered to win the book or are just playing! (to clarify: I'll assume you want to be entered to win unless you say different. Thanks!)

Contest will be closed midnight on Thursday. We'll do a random draw on Friday, October 1, for the lucky winner!

What's your best knock-knock joke?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another interview and giveaway! This one's for the MG-lovers.

I know I usually talk about--and give away--YA books. Even grown-up books every once in a while. Tomorrow I'm talking middle-grade, with a special guest star.

Child absolutely LOVES the Sisters Eight series. She begs to read them at bedtime, during bath...whenever she can. She's also fascinated by the fact that while Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the primary author, one of the co-authors is her daughter Jackie. Just two years older than Child, and already a published author.

What's not to be fascinated with?

So I had the idea...what if instead of ME interviewing Lauren (so DONE), Child interviewed Jackie?

Much more interesting.

We've got the questions and answers ready for tomorrow, AND we'll be giving away a hardback copy of the first book in the series, Annie's Adventures. You can read it yourself or pass it on to that fabulous middle grader in your life.

Please stop by tomorrow to read and comment on Child's first interview, and have a chance to win!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Inspired by Scott's short fiction today, I thought I'd post a little something something from my files. This was a piece I was just playing around with a couple years ago, for fun. Let me know if you post a snip too!

She stepped light down the road, this mother, her feet pat-patting on the soft, red dirt. The weight of the one child pulled on her back, a sweet, sleepy weight. The other walked beside, proud at being so big. The mother shaded her eyes against the morning sun to judge the land, to know how far until they should stop to drink, eat some of their hard-saved beans.

The land was wide here, a stretch of red and brown dust, rock, and scraggle-tooth trees far into the sky. Only this road brave enough to go through it, this road and this mother.

Another two days, she decided, to the grandmother's house. They could make it that long on the beans. The water was closer—with the little one still sucking milk, the mother's mouth got dried up sometimes. Not dry like the deer bones next to the road, but almost.

"See that rock pile there, way down if you squint?" she said to the big one. Ahadi, her strong boy. Skin the color of embers at night, dark with glints of fire. Cheekbones and eyes just like his daddy. She cringed from that thought, back to the boy before her. Here. Alive. "We stop there to rest. You make it that far?"

"Yes, Mama." He gave her a smile, slow and small. He was quiet since his daddy gone. No telling if he'd seen it. She didn't want to know.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I haven't talked about writing lately

Well. It's been a tough summer, writing-wise.

In June I sent off my manuscript with great optimism, thinking it was ready for the big show.

It wasn't. When I looked at it with all honesty, I hadn't given myself enough of a break between end of draft and revision (1 week) or end of incorporating revisions from crit partners and sending it out there (1 week). I was so dang excited about the concept and the book I didn't give it enough time, or room to grow and deepen. I didn't give myself enough time in any sense.

So that's what this summer has been about. On the writing front I was drained, and a little bit broken. So I took about a month and just filled the well. Read without guilt, spent time outdoors and on vacation with my family, watched movies, watched Buffy, all that good stuff. In the background, occasionally, I thought about the book--but not much. I let it be.

Then I took a month and went back and did research. I needed to add a lot more worldbuilding (in a contemp book!), so I read nonfiction stuff on the topic, first-person accounts, histories, newspaper articles, videos. When I finally felt stuffed with knowledge and restless to get started, I re-crafted the plot to reflect the research and my thoughts, and realized how very much of the book I wanted to change.

But you know...when you haven't really written in two months? It is HARD to get back in the saddle. Especially for a substantial rewrite. Your routines are gone. Your discipline is flabby. Your confidence--my confidence--was very, very wobbly. Is.

I'm finally getting it back, if still more unsteadily than I'd like. Along the way somehow I seem to have changed tense. (!) But I have a good, solid plan for how to make the book stronger, by far. The voice is still in my head. I am going to make this book work.

And if I make it work the way I see it in my head, I sincerely hope y'all will get to see this one someday. This book? It could be a kicker. Will be, I hope.

THANK YOU to Agent Sparkle Shark and Team Sparkle--Courtney, Emily, Linder, Scottopher, Tiffany, Victoria--for seeing me through this difficult summer. If y'all don't have a Team Sparkle to help you through the rough times (and in this business, I can guarantee there will be rough times), GET ONE. Writing friends are invaluable. They send you virtual cupcakes for the highs, but they also send you virtual whatever-you-needs for the lows. Encouragement. Confidence boosts. Chocolate.

I do keep whininess and personal disclosures to a minimum here, but I thought it was important that other writers see that there are struggles in every step, and you just have to keep going. So that's where I've been, and where I am. I'm ready to start climbing again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

DUFF contest winner!

Wow, this was fun. Thanks so much for playing, you guys! I loved reading your entries.

(and sorry for taking so long to get this up--I haven't even been near a computer.)

 Best twist on the phrase DUFF: Lori W. I love "Damn Unexpected Fine Female Attention"!

Best owning of the term with attitude: Linda G. "Screw you, skinny friends. Enjoy your celery."

Best OUCH moments (and we've all known those, especially in high school): Mairead S., squinto, and Latoya Alloway. They all made me cringe.

Saddest by far: Deb. You're killing me, Deb! :)

LadyGenette, I loved "spaghetti-thin arms". Perfect!

Mandy: Day-am. Those are some mean girls!

And the winner, because it made me laugh out loud and I loved the twist:

Samantha Verant!!

Samantha, please email your mailing address to susan (dot) adrian (at), and we'll get your copy sent off!!

Hope y'all had fun. I did!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

THE DUFF: Interview with Kody Keplinger and giveaway!

THANKS, guys!! Contest is closed. I'm swamped right now, but I'll get to this and announce the winner as soon as I can! 

(Also, I looked up international shipping rates from Amazon, and yep I can swing that. So all entries will be considered.)

Y'all. Without any ado, may I introduce to the stage the fabulous, talented...Kody KEPLINGER, author of THE DUFF!

(also, you can enter to win a copy of THE DUFF here! Details at the bottom!)

Obligatory question: Tell me about THE DUFF and Bianca. 

THE DUFF is, in my opinion, an edgy, sexy romance for teens. It’s about Bianca, a girl in her senior year of high school, who is informed that she’s the “designated ugly fat friend” of her group of friends. The word haunts her, but its not her biggest issue. She’s also dealing with a family that’s falling apart, and the only “escape” she finds is in a purely physical relationship with the school’s biggest womanizer. The same guy who called her the DUFF, in fact. But even cynical Bianca has to eventually admit that her feelings for the guy have gone farther than just the physical, but how could he ever feel the same about her when she’s the “DUFF”? 

I understand you first heard the term "The Duff" in high school. What was your reaction to it? How did your reaction compare with Bianca's?
Luckily, I wasn’t in Bianca’s shoes. No one told me that *I* was the DUFF. I thought I was, and when I heard the word I remember telling my friends “Wow, I’m so the DUFF of this group.” But had someone actually called me that to my face the way Wesley does Bianca? Well, let’s just say Bianca takes it better than I ever could have. 

Lucky for B, she’s smart, cynical, and pretty level headed. I think her cynicism is really what saves her from being completely crushed by this. If she was the romantic type, I think being called a “DUFF” would hurt much worse.

In the book Bianca comes to the conclusion that everyone feels like a Duff in some way. Do you think that's really true? (I know I feel like a Duff in publishing sometimes…) :)

Oh, I definitely think it’s true. There are so many incarnations of “DUFF.” You can be the DUFF at work, the DUFF of your friends, the DUFF in a classroom. DUFF doesn’t always have to mean the actually meaning, it can also just mean feeling like the least adequate. We’ve all felt that way, both physically and intellectually, I think. Insecurity is like the great unifier for women and maybe men, too. We all feel insecure sometimes. We’ve all been DUFFs. 

I was impressed with the realism of your dialogue. Bianca and her friends sound like actual, smart teens. Did you read it aloud to make sure it sounded realistic? Did you give it to friends to vet?
I read almost everything out loud, or have someone read it to me, just to make sure it sounds all right. With the dialogue, it was my favorite part to write. I always find the things my friends say funny and clever, and I wanted to capture that with Bianca and Casey and Jessica. Some lines of their dialogue are right out of convos I’ve had with real life friends. Others just kind of felt natural for the character. With dialogue, I just try to remember – these are the girls *i* know. Not adults. Not geniuses. Just normal teen girls. I know them, so what would they say? Its’ actually really fun! 

I think especially at high school age, we tend to set up ideals for ourselves—what "the perfect guy" should look like (as well as what we should look like as "the perfect girl"). I liked that Bianca didn't want to play into that romance ideal and yet she clearly had firm ideas of who she should and shouldn't be with (Toby and Wesley) and had to open her mind to different possibilities. Can you talk about fantasy vs. reality when it comes to guys?
I knew going in to this book that Wesley, though he was hot and clever and sexy as hell, would not be Bianca’s “type.” So I asked myself “Who would this girl crush on?” That’s how I got Toby. For those who haven’t read the book, Toby is Bianca’s long time crush. He’s basically this insanely smart, cute little political buff. To be fair, I think I’d have a crush on him, too.
I don’t have a lot of dating experience myself, but one thing I have found is that when it comes to guys, expectations and ideals are usually never as they seem. I once had a crush on a boy for MONTHS only to discover that, while we were great friends, he could really drive me up the wall and it was probably better that we never dated. Bianca doesn’t have that kind of realization with Toby or Wesley, but she does have to come to realize that boys can take you by surprise. The right guy can be the wrong guy for you.  It’s not always fun to learn, but Bianca’s journey to figuring out who is “right” for her, or if anyone is really, was fun to write for sure. 

And speaking of that (ahem), tell us about Wesley.
Oooooh, Wesley. *sigh* I had the most fun in the world writing about Wesley Benjamin Rush.  He was one of those characters that took me by surprise. He was intended to be a very different character and, instead, ended up in a very different and much better place.
Wesley is a hottie, and he knows it. He’s a charmer and a seducer. A “man-whore” as Bianca calls him. But he’s also unexpectedly smart – the boy has a taste for classic literature – and he has issues of his own. He’s not what Bianca expects, and writing him was fun because, as Bianca discovered who he really was, so did I. 

I was intrigued in looking at some reviews of THE DUFF that the only major criticism some people had was that Bianca was "too bitchy". I've been accused of that myself with my main characters, but have always felt it's important to not make a character too mellow in an attempt to please everybody. Can you talk about the fine line of "bitchy" vs. "too bitchy"?
I want to say upfront that, in my opinion, Bianca isn’t so much “bitchy” as . . . “negative.”  And while some people have had issues with that, others have approached me and said, “I WAS this girl in high school.” The fact is that one character can’t appeal to all readers. And that’s the beauty of fiction – it’s a different experience for everyone.
That said, there is a fine line to walk. The trick, I think, is to let the reader see the deeper core of the character. If the reader can see the reasons WHY the character is so negative, then they are more likely to sympathize. Bianca has a lot to be bitter about – she’s dealing with family issues, she’s still a little scarred from a first love gone wrong, and now someone is telling her she’s a “DUFF.” Who wouldn’t be a little bitter?
But, to be fair, I love cynical, sarcastic girls in YA. Even completely unlikeable ones. Because lets be honest, not all of us are always likeable as teens. 

After all that, a little bit of fluff. What's your favorite food? What would you hoard if you could only have one thing for a month?
Oh my God . . . favorite food is spaghetti, but if I had to, I could live – and live happily – on pepperoni pizza Lean Pockets. YUM!


So I was right--you want this, don't ya?

To win a brand-spanking new copy of THE DUFF, we're going to have a little flash fiction contest. Write me a story in 100 words or less, including the following elements, and post it in the comments to this blog post:

cherry coke
the DUFF
red Converse shoes

Contest will be open until Friday, September 10, at 8 am mountain time. Then I'll do a judgy-thing (enlisting additional help if necessary) and choose my favorite entry. Also, bonus points for tweeting/blogging/facebooking about Kody, The Duff, or this contest.

Got it? DO IT!

And thanks so much, Kody. I loved THE DUFF.

(and if you happen to not win? Go buy a copy. Really.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Duff

Guys!! Did you hear that Kody Keplinger's THE DUFF was released into the wild today?

I love Kody. She's YOUNG, a good mumble-mumble younger than me, but she's a smart cookie, and the girl can write a damn good story.

A while back I asked Kody if she'd be willing to do an interview with me, and she of course was a rock star about it and complied. So heads up: I'll be posting the interview tomorrow. And...

giving away a copy of THE DUFF!!

You know you want it.

Come back tomorrow to play!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Disney


I am still refusing to accept the end of summer. Even though Child is back at school, even though the light is less and less each day, even though the mountains had snow on them again this week. No. Summer whipped by, and I'm not ready to let go of it yet.

One of the highlights of our summer was our epic, week-long trip to Disneyland at the end of August. We'd taken a few days out of a San Diego trip earlier this year to re-visit Disneyland, for the first time since hubby and I were kids, and WOW. It still held the magic. So this time we committed: we stayed just down the street, in a room with a balcony overlooking the fireworks. We bought a 5-day park hopper pass. We planned a few extra activities--a day at the Knott's splash park, a trip to the American Girl store for Child and doll pampering--but most of it was all about the mouse.

And you know what? Even though it was unexpectedly hot (94 degrees several of the days) and even though there were always crowds and bustle, it STILL held up. We had a blast on the traditional rides (Space Mountain and Matterhorn FTW!) and the more daring California Adventure rides. We zipped through Mr. Toad's Wild Adventure and Peter Pan. We all love Indiana Jones (I think it's my favorite). The World of Color light/water show was fan-freaking-tastic. Every day was fun.

But the best day by far was Monday. It was Child's half-birthday, and she'd kept asking if we could celebrate at Disneyland. She'd seen the birthday buttons and hoopla. I was skeptical. Half-birthdays didn't really "count", right? But we dutifully went to Town Hall first and asked.

"Absolutely!" the Disney guy said. "We count whatever you want! We count UN-birthdays even." He turned to the co-worker next to him. "It's my Un-Birthday!" he said. "Wish me Happy Un-Birthday!" and shook her hand. "It's your Un-Birthday?" she gasped. "Mine too!"

They grinned at Child, who giggled back. He made a "Happy Birthday" button for her, with her name decorated with Mickey Mouse ears (of course her name's not really Child, but we'll use Child for this post). He gave her a special phone, and she listened to a greeting from Mickey.

And thus the magical, Princess day began.

Nearly every Disney employee we passed or interacted with that whole day said "Happy Birthday, Child!" They said it as they buckled her in rides. They said it as they checked tickets. As they gave her food. They announced it over loudspeakers, and everybody on the ride clapped for her 8-and-a-half birthday. She BEAMED. About halfway through the day we started laughing at each mention, because it was everywhere. It made her feel royal.

In the evening, we headed over to make sure we got good seats for the Aladdin show at California Adventure. It's an hour-long, real Broadway-type musical production. We'd seen it the first day from a top row in the balcony, but we wanted to see it up close. We made it into the 4th row, right near the action.

It was wonderful. This time we could see EVERYTHING, right there. It was even cooler when they came to the "Prince Ali" song, and acrobats and entertainers started dancing and flipping around us, weaving through the orchestra section, leading Aladdin back to the stage on a huge (not real) elephant.

And then Aladdin was right in front of us, smiling, waving at all the kids. "Wave!" I said to Child, and she did, looking up at him.

He looked right at her, smiled, and mouthed "Happy Birthday, Child."

I SWEAR. In the middle of a show. In the middle of a SONG.

We all saw it--we all looked at each other, and burst out laughing. It was so amazingly COOL. She was giddy. We were giddy.

She told everybody she met the next day about how Aladdin said Happy Birthday to her ("From an ELEPHANT in the middle of a SONG"). I think she will remember that always.

Disney, thank you. That little thing--asking employees to notice and remark on celebrations--it seals the deal. You really do it right.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tiara Day winners!

Thank you all so much for playing! That was FUN. Hooray! We can all use a little fun now and then, y?

RE the winners...I should NEVER promise I will do something internet-related on the weekend. Weekends are practically internet-free at my house. For more than 5 minutes here and there, anyway. Instead of drawing winners this weekend, we had pancakes with huckleberry syrup, went to an Irish festival, mowed the lawn, barbecued, read books outside in the shade of our crabapple trees, played Wii, watched movies, and bought back-to-school stuff for Child and water shoes for me (for an adventure I'm having soon).

Not much time for drawing winners!

But here they are, better late than never:

A copy of DAY ONE, generously donated by Bill Cameron: Elizabeth Ryann
First dibs on books: Elisabeth Black
Second dibs on books: Rhonda Cowsert

Congrats, guys! Hope you had fun!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th Tiara Day CONTEST!

Hi all!! Happy Tiara Day!!

I'ts raining with a high of 60 today, so I am GLAD I called for the major sparkle patrol. I will need it to see what I'm doing over here. *murk*

So I've got some books to give away. Not ALL of them, but 2. Or maybe 3. There are only TWO things you can do to enter (I like simple contests):

  • Wear a tiara on your avatar or a pic of a tiara as your avatar today (Friday the 13th). Usually we play on Twitter (hashtag #tiaraday), but feel free to use it anywhere. Or wear one on your actual head and take a pic for me! Points only count once, though. Let me know through a comment here or an @ reply on Twitter (susan_adrian) that you're showing your sparkle. (+3 entries)
  • Spread the word about Tiara Day, via retweet or Facebook link. (+1 entry)
So the max entries you can get is 4.  But just by plopping a Tiara on your virtual head, you get THREE entries! I'll do a random draw sometime tomorrow and announce the winners this weekend. Winners get to pick their choice of any one of these books:

If you can't see them all, that's:

BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver
THE DUST OF 100 DOGS by A.S. King
HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff
THE PALE HORSEMAN by Bernard Cornwell (adult-type book for you non-YA peeps)
BITTER NIGHT by Diana Pharaoh Francis (I just realized mine is signed--I forgot!--so I will BUY one if you pick this. It's really good.)
IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

OOOH, and update!!! Bill Cameron, FABULOUS agent mate, has also thrown in a copy of Day One as a prize!!
So there will be at least 3 winners now. I wanna see some sparkle out there!!!

Contest closes at midnight tonight!
*Drat, I forgot to say North American entries only. That one time I mailed a contest prize to husband still talks about that. *cough*

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Announcement: Tiara Day Friday the 13th

Tomorrow is Tiara Day!! Why?

  • Because it's Friday the 13th.
  • To celebrate the coolness that has been WriteOnCon
  • To celebrate some sparkliness (good news) for Team Sparkle this week
  • To encourage the revisions I'm slogging through working on
  • Because I need one!!
Doesn't everybody need a Tiara Day every once in a while?

The twist this time: I'm going to give away a book or two.

All you have to do to play is dress your avatar (for Twitter, usually, but can be Facebook or blog or whatev) in a tiara, or use a pic of a tiara AS your avatar. Be silly and have fun.

More details on the contest and prizes tomorrow morning! I hope you join in and spread the word!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Math and Mortality

Last night I'd just settled down on the sofa with Hubby--Child safely tucked in bed--when we heard the shuffling of small feet.


That's my cue. It doesn't happen too often these days, but it used to be pretty common, when she had nightmares or was worried about something. I'm the one who gets up and sorts it out, as many times as it takes, until she's okay.

It feels like a parenting challenge, like I'm stepping up to the plate. What's wrong? Is she sick? Upset? Just not sleepy? Is it a curveball? Will I be able to handle it right this time? Will I be caring and patient?

I take her by the hand, walk her back to her room, sit on the floor in the darkness, and pull her onto my lap. "What's up?"

"I'm worried," she gulps, hesitant. "What if I close my eyes...and then I just don't wake up in the morning?"

Oh dear God. It's not a simple nightmare. It's MORTALITY.

"But you will, boo," I say. I stroke her hair. "There's no reason you wouldn't."

"There's no reason," she counters, "but it's possible. It can happen without a reason."

Ah, my logical girl.

"Yes, it can," I concede, because I can give her nothing less than the truth. I'm spinning for ways to reassure her that are truthful, that acknowledge the seriousness of the worry underneath without making the fear worse. "But it's very unlikely."

"But possible," she argues.

"Yes." I nod. "It's possible." I kiss her hair. This is not helping. Think of something helpful. Logical. "But like I said, unlikely. Think how many mornings you've woken up already."

She looks up at me, big-eyed in the dark, interested. Aha. A way to diminish the fear.

"How many mornings do you think you've woken up?" I ask. "Let's see...8 and a half years..." Oh someone help me, MATH. "Times 365." Simplify, simplify. "What's 3 x 8?"

She thinks for far less time than I would've at that age. "24."

"Cool. So 300 x 8 is 2400." I consider if I can do the rest of it in my head, and concede defeat. "Plus all those 65 days times 8. You're probably at like...3000 mornings." (Hey, I was close.)

"That's a lot of mornings." She laughs. We're doing well at fighting the fear demon. She's definitely more interested in the days now than in the possibility of not waking up.

"And what about me?" I ask. "I've woken up a LOT of times and everything's been okay."

"How many?" She bounces on my lap.

Math fails. " don't think I can multiply that high in my head."

"Let the calculator do it!" she says. It's something she can solve, now. "Get the calculator."

"If you get in bed," I say, "I'll get the calculator and we'll figure it out. And then you can go back to sleep, okay?"

She gets back in bed. I get the (magical) calculator. We figure out the *cough* high-ish number, and she is suitably impressed. Then I kiss her again, tell her I'd see her in the morning, and I love her more than anything.

Not hit out of the park, exactly, but I think I was on base.

It didn't work completely with the restlessness--I had to go in again about 10 minutes later, because she was hot and trying to open her window by herself--but we talked a little more, and shortly after that she really did drop off to sleep.

I never thought I'd use math to soothe my child's fears, or expected that I'd need so much creativity on a daily basis to try to figure out solutions to those everyday fears, struggles, issues. But then you never really know what it's like to be a parent, and face that challenge, until you're a parent, and suddenly it's THERE and you're the one responsible.

As I told her the other day, though: I highly recommend becoming a parent. In spite of occasional struggles, it's the most fun I've ever had.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Daily Walk Pics: August 5th

Daily walk pics for you!!

I love this church. It always looks gorgeous.

There's something about boarded-up windows, particularly the ones that have been bricked over, that intrigue me.

But this poor house is going a little overboard with the blocked-off windows. I wish someone would fix it up!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Camp Stories

I have been reading DaMomma's Briar Haven series with great interest.

It's so apt. Mare is almost exactly the same age as Child (I've been reading DaMomma's blog since they were both babies), and Child had her first camp experience last weekend.

The difference is we took a softer step first: Child chose the Girl Scout camp that only lasted 3 days, where I got to go with her.

Camp WITH Mom!

It was amazingly fun. We sang (lots and lots and lots of) songs, tie-dyed, made crafts, went on hikes, slightly burnt s'mores, learned to tie knots and build a proper Girl Scout fire, and had a little time for kicking back in the cabin besides. We roomed with a family with 3 girls (6, 7, and 9-almost-10), and Child made friends with them in the first 5 minutes. She spent many hours hanging out with the three of them, which made me only a tiny bit wish there was more Mom-n-me time in this Mom-n-me weekend, but mostly thrilled that she could make and enjoy friends so easily. She was quite upset that she had to leave them at the end.

My one and only camp experience was between Child's and DaMomma's. It wasn't awful, but I sure didn't enjoy it either. I clearly remember sobbing in the camp director's office that I NEEDED to call my mom and go home right now, though of course they wouldn't let me. I was the type of child then who targeted herself for bullies and mockery, so I was bullied and mocked even by strange new kids, almost right off.  But I do have a few good memories in there too, of a kind girl named Rachel in my tent, and a counselor I don't remember but I remember I liked.

I'm so glad the next generation (at least in mine and DaMomma's case) seems to be doing this better. :) Child definitely wants to go to camp again next summer...we'll see if she wants me to go along with or not!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Phase 2

...and the last couple days have been Illness, Phase 2. Both Child and Hubby came down with my virus at the same time. Fevers and the joys of stomach flu. So I was out of work again taking care of them...


STILL, both are nearly all better today, thank goodness. Just in time for Child and I to head out to the mother/daughter weekend Girl Scout camp we've been planning since April! It was touch-and-go there for a while, but I'm so happy we can go.

I'll be totally away from the internet for the duration, but hope y'all have a lovely weekend!!! See you next week, which I hope will be significantly more uneventful and more full of writing...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Daily Walk

Ha. I DID manage to go for a walk today! Victory.

It was cloudy and muggy, but I got a few interesting pictures all the same. Strangely today's seemed to be more about the past and decay...but I love stuff like that too.

We had a busy weekend at Evel Knievel Days. Nope, I'm not kidding. I even rode in a monster truck. :) FINALLY feeling almost all well...thanks for the get-well wishes, guys!

Today's pictures:

I admit, I don't know what this is. I just liked the look of it sitting there.


Brief moment of sun. Doesn't this look Greek or something?

This one does not look Greek. I'm still trying to puzzle out what used to be written on the door.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not quite so daily.

Well, my "daily" plan got blown out of the water straightaway...Tuesday night I came down with a 24-hour bug, which left me not really wanting to walk more than a few steps Wednesday or yesterday. Today I'm back at work, but still a bit "wobbly on my pins" as an old British woman might say.

Sometimes I channel an old British woman. Don't mind me.

Anyway, I will try to get back on my action plan as soon as energy levels warrant. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend!! And thanks for your loverly comments!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Daily Walk Illustrated

I KNOW. I haven't posted in forever. It's not like I forgot about you--it's been an item on my to-do list nearly every day--and it's not like there hasn't been anything going on. July is festival month 'round here, so we've had 4th of July extravaganzas and the last year of the National Folk Festival, and piles of goings-on in between. I just haven't quite gotten to it.

Today, though, I started a little possible side project, and thought it would be fun to share with you.

Hubby and I had been going for walks pretty regularly in the afternoon, 1-2 miles a day...until we didn't anymore. He got busy, it was too hot, whatever. We stopped, and my clothes are starting not to fit again. Today I decided just to GO by myself, and along the way to indulge another craving I've been having: photography. Lately I see everything in still images, and I've been itching to take the good camera out for a run.

So my plan: go for a walk as often as I can, by myself or otherwise. Daily if possible. Bring the camera, and document interesting stuff. And post a few on the blog! Why not? It's exercise, creative, AND fun.

So here are a few pics from today's adventure, for your enjoyment! All copyright me, because I took them. :P

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Love Day Thursday

I haven't done one of these for a while, so here we go!

Love day is celebrating what you love RIGHT THIS MINUTE. I love:

  • The sunshine and 70-degree weather going on outside my window. I'm hoping to have lunch on a deck somewhere today.
  • My writer friends, and all the new people I've met over the past couple of days!
  • Agents and editors who are awesome (most, in my experience) and respond to emails and posts right away even though I know they're busy people.
  • The Lindt Dark Chocolate with A Touch of Sea Salt bar I've been snacking off of all week.
  • My husband, who just called me with two grammar questions in a row.
  • Paychecks.
  • The first day of the month, when I get to turn the new page on the calendar.
  • The prospect of taking Child to the library this weekend to discover new books.
How about you? What do you love?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Envy follow-up

Wow. I have been overwhelmed by the positive response to yesterday's Envy post, both publicly and privately.

You guys are AMAZING. Thank you!

Also, apparently you all have the same issues I have. :)

I had to clarify that I'm not in a bad place right now--I'm happily working away on research for a big revision on SALVAGED, and it'll be a little bit before I'm on submission again. It's probably because I am feeling secure that I could write about it, actually. But obviously it's enough of a universal issue that it's important to recognize and discuss.

Thank you all for reading and discussing!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


This post is going to be brutally honest. I hope you don't think less of me at the end of it. But I think this is an important thing to write about, because I swear all us writers experience it whether we admit it or not, whether we want to or not.

Sour, stomach-twisting, soul-sucking ENVY.

I've been doing this writing thing off and on for 10 years. I've been doing the trying-to-get-published thing hardcore, with agented submissions and revisions and resubmissions, for more than 2. I've gotten close. I have high hopes for the novel I'm working on now. But I haven't yet quite made it past that hurdle, and it's been an emotionally drenched up-and-down run.

The writing community--especially the YA writing community--is close, a tangled knot of interconnected writers, where everybody knows and supports each other. I spend my days surrounded online by YA writers I love. I cheer with them, joke with them, read their work and blogs and emails. I feel that most of them are friends tangentially at least, and many are good friends. I adore these people. I truly want them to succeed.

And yet--and yet.

Still it kicks me in the gut when I read about another 3-book deal with an editor we submitted to. Still I have to take a breath before I smile when I hear someone's book went to auction in the first week of submission. Still I flinch when I see writers half my age sell their fourth book, see people who went on submission long after I did showing their covers or their release dates. Sometimes it's hard to be surrounded virtually by success at something you want so badly, but haven't managed. (yet)

But here's the good news, in my opinion. That horrible envy, those moments of selfishness? They're OKAY. It is perfectly normal and natural to feel a moment of bad for yourself in the midst of feeling glad for others. It's human.

The tricks I've found to feeling that way and still going on, without falling into the suck:
  • Allow yourself to feel bad, but NOT FOR LONG. Put a time limit on it. You can feel sorry for yourself for--oh, an hour. Max. And then you get the heck over yourself and you realize that person, that friend, has felt this way too, has had their own struggles, but they've finally made it. And now is their time to celebrate, and your time to HELP THEM CELEBRATE. They need you to. It's okay to feel the envy pangs--it is not okay to wallow.
  • Never allow your personal issues to show (erm, outside of this blog post). Envy is personal and private, and okay in that context. It's *maybe* okay to share with a close, trusted friend. It is never allowed, in my opinion, to let any sense of envy dictate your behavior: to say rude things or bring anyone down.
  • Realize that everyone feels this way at some point. Even if they seemingly sailed to this achievement, be absolutely certain they've had issues you have no idea about, that there's more behind the scenes. 
  • Don't let up. Continue to focus on your work, on improving, on things you can control. That is how you will make it to the celebration stage yourself. 
In short: feel it, but don't let it bring you down. Use that envy to up your efforts. If you have work you're excited about, it's so much easier to truly be happy for others.

And all my dear friends who have succeeded, are succeeding: don't be afraid to share your good news with me! I promise that even if it makes me hurt for a second, that is quickly overwhelmed by my happiness that you really have done it.

And hope that if you can, if I keep pounding someday I will too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

10 Weird Things about Montana

Because I've been a transplant for 7 years now, and I think it's time I confessed:

Top 10 Weird Things about Montana
(From a California perspective, with great affection. In no particular order other than how I thought of them)

  1. People say "crick" for "creek". Really. It has two ee's in the middle. How do you get an "i" out of that? I may let my child say "pop" for soda (even though it makes me shudder a little), but I will not ever let her get away with "crick".
  2. On the public radio station they interrupt to announce lost dogs.
  3. Speaking of dogs, they wander around on their own or in packs, all over the place. It is very, very common to have traffic stopped on the main street to let a dog pass. Though now that I think about it, that might just be in this town.
  4. The air sometimes smells like mountain scent air freshener, naturally.
  5. They just don't use toilet seat covers. Anywhere. In CA they were *everywhere*.
  6. They not only accept checks for everything, they EXPECT them. Even in the drive-through for fast food. Though god help you if you're not a local, because only local checks.
  7. Everybody seems to like their coffee sickeningly sweet. From drive-through coffee stands. With straws in the hole of the to-go cup. Why would I want to sip hot coffee out of a straw and scald my mouth?
  8. It is *always* okay to be dressed in jeans. It is perfectly acceptable for a woman to wear jeans to a wedding.
  9. Maybe this isn't weird, but there is a huge loyalty (and discrimination) based on being FROM here, actually born in this town or at least in Montana. If an article is written about you in the paper, it will always say whether you are or are not a "native". This is one of the first questions asked in every social setting.
  10. I live in a town of about 35,000 people. And it's a big town for Montana. I love that.
I do love it here. In spite of the winter and all the differences, it's gorgeous, and I can be in the mountains in 5 minutes--and it's a great place to raise a child.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I like cycles. As I get older, I see that much of life is cyclic, and somehow that makes me feel better. When I'm in a low I know I'll come out of it again, and when I'm in a high I ride it for as long as possible.

One of my more mundane but obvious cycles--and probably yours too--is groceries.

It starts out like this:

Hmm, I think. I need to go grocery shopping.

*Note: this image is a LIE. Even when my refrigerator is empty of useful food, it is still crammed full of sauces and jars of jam you'd have to scrape to get anything from and forgotten jars of purple cabbage stuffed in the back.

I love grocery shopping. It makes me feel all hunter-gathery.

Or Tartar-Warrior-ish. Like that.

Have I mentioned that I want to take archery lessons?

Anyway. I like to make lists based on weekly menus and go attack the store. I load up, always optimistically thinking OH and we can eat that!, sometimes buying too much for the week.

Generally I buy so much fresh stuff--fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, bread, juice, milk--that I have to cram it all in.


I feel happy and satisfied. I can make ANYTHING I WANT! LOOK! LOOK AT THE CHOICES!

This lasts for a day.

Then I start worrying about the food. How are we going to eat all this before it goes bad? It doesn't help that my husband, every time he opens the fridge, says "How are we going to eat all this before it goes bad?" :)

So we start in with the meals, eating our way through all that good fresh stuff. And about 5 days later, I am relieved. We've done it. The meals have been good, we've eaten it all. Success! But there's a little problem...


Writing's like that too: new idea! Play play play! Hate. Love. Edit edit edit! Send to people. Accept crushing feedback, rejoice in fabulous feedback. Regroup. Edit edit edit! Send to more people. Repeat of above. Edit edit edit! Let go. New idea!

Everything's a cycle. Right now in food I'm at the last image. In writing, I'm at the brain-break-before-editing phase.

It's all good. You've got to relish each part of the cycle--or get through it, if it's a bad bit. Or make do with the food you have on hand.

I think that's enough mangled metaphors for today, don't you?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Poetry Friday

It's been a difficult, tumultuous week.

Interestingly, after difficult times I find myself thoughtful, introspective, and appreciative of what I have. I seek inspiration and hope everywhere, whether fishing (I caught 7 trout Wednesday night, hurrah!) or reading, hugs or emails.

For Poetry Friday I choose this one, celebrating something that I love.

by Billy Collins
(borrowed from The Writer's Almanac)

From the heart of this dark, evacuated campus
I can hear the library humming in the night,
a choir of authors murmuring inside their books
along the unlit, alphabetical shelves,
Giovanni Pontano next to Pope, Dumas next to his son,
each one stitched into his own private coat,
together forming a low, gigantic chord of language.

I picture a figure in the act of reading,
shoes on a desk, head tilted into the wind of a book,
a man in two worlds, holding the rope of his tie
as the suicide of lovers saturates a page,
or lighting a cigarette in the middle of a theorem.
He moves from paragraph to paragraph
as if touring a house of endless, paneled rooms.

I hear the voice of my mother reading to me
from a chair facing the bed, books about horses and dogs,
and inside her voice lie other distant sounds,
the horrors of a stable ablaze in the night,
a bark that is moving toward the brink of speech.

I watch myself building bookshelves in college,
walls within walls, as rain soaks New England,
or standing in a bookstore in a trench coat.

I see all of us reading ourselves away from ourselves,
straining in circles of light to find more light
until the line of words becomes a trail of crumbs
that we follow across a page of fresh snow;

when evening is shadowing the forest
and small birds flutter down to consume the crumbs,
we have to listen hard to hear the voices
of the boy and his sister receding into the woods.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

These are a few of my embarrassing things...

Tawna Fenske started it.

Actually, maybe Linda Grimes did.

And then @BostonBookGirl reminded me of a good tale of my own.

Ah, those shining moments of embarrassment, when you truly wish the floor would swallow you up, because whatever monster is wriggling under the floor is CLEARLY better than where you are. Visible. Hideously exposed. Not only not-perfect-and-cool, but a mockery of humanity.

Or just klutzy.

When people ask me my most embarrassing moment, up till now my mind has always flown back to those agonizing two minutes freshman year of high school, when I slipped and slid--facedown--across the slick floor of the hall...and then the bell rang and everybody in the known universe poured out to find me there. But that's just high school. There are MORE.

Sixth grade. My teacher sent me somewhere--don't remember where, but I was pretty much teacher's pet at that point, so it's not surprising he'd send reliable me on a mission. Except I got easily distracted (then, as now) and didn't look where I was going. I slammed my forehead full-force into the metal pole standing outside the classroom. In view of everyone. Oh, yes. Knocked myself out for a couple seconds, and had to be helped by one of my less-distracted, eye-rolling classmates to the nurse's office to check for a concussion.


Seventh grade, English class. We were doing a word-search contest for some reason, which I usually won (still teacher's pet and always a word nerd). Problem: I had a really bad habit of sucking on the back of my pens while working. Bigger problem: this exploded. In my mouth.

So I had to decide: try to hide this incident, and possibly die from ink poisoning? Confess, spit, get help?

I trotted to the front of the class, my mouth bursting with ink, blue-black dripping from the corners like I was a vampire dining on octopus. Nurse's office. Spitting. Reputation oh-so-cool.

Geez. It's a wonder I survived at all. I'm sure there's more, too--that's just what I can think of right now.

How about you? Wanna keep me company with some fun tragic episodes of embarrassment?

Friday, May 28, 2010

The best liar of the day is...

Laurie Lamb! Laurie, send your address to susan (dot) adrian (at) so I can bundle off your copy!

Thank you all for playing along! I had such fun reading these, and I had a tough time deciding. Honorable Mentions go to:

--Bill Cameron, Patrick Lee, and CKHB for their lies about Sean Ferrell and each other. Because everyone loves to lie about Sean Ferrell.

--Linda Grimes (bff) for starting it off and shamelessly pimping the contest all over twitter.

Jenna, Amy Jo, Karla, Morgan, Carina, Sterling, Charles, Kristin, Nikole, Scarlet, I loved reading yours!!

Why did Laurie's win?

Because I wished it was true. And the whole thing made me laugh. Here's her lie:

Susan Adrian has compiled a nude calendar featuring notable people from her writing/twitter world. Highlights include: Miss January—Janet Reid swigging gin while ringing in the new year, Mr. March—Jeffrey Somers with his pussy cats, Miss May—Suzie Townsend and her puppies frolicking through a spring meadow, Mr. June—a sweaty Bill Cameron showing off Skin, and Mr. December—a snow-covered Sean Ferrell looking NUMB. Get yours! On sale now!

The Bill Cameron and Sean Ferrell lines are brilliant. Congrats Laurie!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

BEA Sympathetic Swag Contest: Day 3

The winner of FALLEN is... Natalie!! Congrats, Natalie! Email me at susan (dot) adrian (at) with your address, and I'll send it out!

Today, we're gonna have a little more fun. Today, I'm giving away a copy of Justine Larbalestier's fabulous and brain-twisting book, LIAR.

From Justine's website: Liar is a psychological thriller set in New York City told from the point of view of a compulsive liar.

You guys, I had such fun reading this book, never knowing what was truth and what wasn't. I've always loved unreliable narrators--they mess with you so! (It makes me want to write one. Okay, not quite yet. But someday.)

So believe me (ha) when I tell you that you want to win this one. But I'm going to make it a little more challenging.

To win this book, you've got to lie to me.

Post in the comments with your best, most outrageous lie. Bonus points for making the lie about somebody in our crazy cast of characters writing/twitter world (*cough* Janet Reid, Suzie Townsend, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Sean Ferrell, Bill Cameron, Victoria Schwab, Linda Grimes, etc..., but really anybody you want or anything you want. Make it a good lie.

Tomorrow I'm actually going to judge my favorite lie (extra judges brought in if necessary) and award LIAR to the winner! Contest closes at 8 am tomorrow.

So GO! Lie to me!

UPDATE: THE CONTEST IS CLOSED. Thanks for playing! 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BEA Sympathetic Swag Contest: Day 2

Thanks for playing yesterday, everybody! The winner of a copy of RAMPANT is...

Derek Molata! Congratulations, Derek! (You're on a good news roll...) :)

Today's swag is slightly newer, still YA (of course): FALLEN, by Lauren Kate. It's gothic and romantic and intriguing.


Some Angels are Destined to Fall
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

Want to read it for yourself?

For today's contest, I want you to go to today's BEA schedule of author signings. Pretend you're there, and find 5 authors you'd want to go get a signed book from. Even Rick Springfield and Neil Sedaka are there today!

Then post your 5 chosen authors in the comments field. Contest closes at 8 am tomorrow, when the final one will open!