Saturday, July 26, 2014

RWA Report



I'm sitting in a San Antonio coffee shop. Not the main conference hotel one, which is full--even at this early hour--with my beloved fellow RWA members abuzz with the energy of the final day (and the prospect of the awards ceremony tonight). I'm taking a break, in this tucked-away spot, with a few local cops for company, savoring the relative silence before I jump back into the fray.

This has always been my favorite conference. I've attended for many years, long before I had ever published a book. I love the enthusiasm of the first-timers, the collegial kindness of veteran attendees. I love the generous sharing of ideas and advice and experience. I love seeing some of the stalwarts speak, seeing how their careers have taken twists and turns none of us could have predicted.

Any number of years ago, I developed a publishing crush on editor Abby Zidle, who struck me as the wisest and funniest person around. It would be another decade before we started working together, but a couple nights ago I got to sit with her on the Pocket/Gallery party bus (disco lights! tipsy authors attempting pole dances mid-transport!).


Another highlight was my signing. Gallery generously printed up some ARCs, but by the time I reached the signing room after my workshop, they were almost all gone. This is a far cry from my very first signing at RWA National, where the books somehow got lost in transport, or subsequent ones where I sat nearly hidden behind my stacks of books, unable to interest anyone in them. Nowadays kind readers seem more willing to take a chance on me -- and I'm hoping they enjoy MISSING PLACE.

Here's a photo of me with one of my very favorite RWA authors, Sheila Roberts. She embodies everything I love about this group: classy, funny, sweet and sassy. I'll be shipping her new book, along with a dozen other treasures, home today, so that when I get back to California and find the box waiting for me, the magic of these few days will last a little longer. (Yes, I realize I'm sounding a little Tinkerbell-ish, and you may be wondering where my cranky usual self has gone, but that's just how special this group of women is.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hey, Four-Eyes!

I've been a glasses wearer since I was a little kid. I have very few memories of me or my brother that don't include glasses, in fact. (Our younger sister was spared for a little longer; she's the least myopic of the three of us.)

Few of my glasses-related memories are good ones. My friend Gigi delights in her glasses and, as she told me this morning, can't understand why anyone *wouldn't* want to wear glasses if given the chance. My friend Jessie wore fake glasses in high school because she liked the way they looked.

Not me. I despised my glasses from the very first pair, a dreadful octagonal blue granny frame that my mother, for reasons I can't fathom, fell in love with. The eighties arrived and I had the enormous beetle-face frames everyone wore back then - but my prescription was so strong that they weighed about eleven pounds and constantly slid down my face. As soon as I saved enough waitressing money I bought contacts--but it turned out I have sensitive eyes. Contacts and I began a mutually antagonistic relationship that lasted for decades, until several days ago. My eyes were always red, irritated, teary, and because of my astigmatisms, not very well corrected. Clear vision was not one of my assets, but I worked around that by ignoring what the professor wrote on the board, guessing at highway signage, and wearing my contacts in inadvisable conditions like camping without fresh water and waterskiing and stumbling home from parties at 4am.

Insecurity didn't help matters. I now understand the very sexy allure of the right pair of glasses (and, lucky me, have amassed a stunning collection of reading glasses which I will wear for working), but as a young person I was convinced that any man, given the choice between kissing a bespectacled girl and one who was not, would never choose me.

so creepy!
Two weeks ago I had LASIK. Now I wake up and *see*. With uncorrected vision of 20/450, this is nothing short of miraculous. I'm thrilled. The procedure itself was creepy as hell, and so is my eye currently, but soooo worth it. I'm going to go to the movies, stay up all night, go camping, fall asleep with a book, wear too much makeup, borrow my friends' eyeliner--all the things I've never been able to do without miserable consequences.

And then I'm going to wear my very sexiest reading glasses on a date. :)

PS Thanks and love to Nurse Julie. How many hospital waiting rooms is that that we've almost been thrown out of now? Though I'm sure the nice lady across the room is still wondering what was so funny about "We Bought A Zoo."

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What's for Dinner?

You can ignore this post - it's really for Junior, who is working at her first job far from home this summer, and wanted to know what to make for dinner that was cheap and healthy. (But if you're my superfan and you're curious about what I have for lunch pretty much every day, read on!)


First things first: go to the store and buy a pre-cooked chicken, pasta, and some veggies. Any veggies will do, pretty much.

Start the pasta. Then wash and chop up the veggies. Do enough for two or three meals.

Now cut up the chicken. Use a sharp knife and a fork. (Chop the veggies first so you don't have to wash the cutting board.)

A chicken will be enough for at least three meals. Put the extras in baggies in the fridge.

Heat oil on high or med-high on the stove. Here is how much to use:

While it's heating up, give the veggie scraps to a hungry beagle. :)

Saute the veggies that take the longest, which include green beans, peppers, onions, carrots. Just stir them in the oil until they begin to brown.

Next add tomatoes, zucchini, snap peas if you are using them and stir around for a while.

Turn heat to medium and add greens, like spinach. Put in lots! You won't believe how much they cook down.

While those are cooking, get out your spices and cheese if you like. (I use salt, pepper, herbes de provence that Julie brought back from france, and I shredded my own cheese because I am fancy. but you can use pre-shredded parmesan and Italian Seasoning.)

Stir the spices into the pan, then put on your cooked pasta, and sprinkle the cheese on top.

It's too hot to eat at first, so go ahead and put some hot soapy water in the pan. It'll be much easier to clean later!

 You'll have enough to share, so offer some to your roommate!!  (Love you, sweetie!)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Back From BEA

Junior in Georgetown
Actually, I'm not back yet - I'm enjoying a couple of days in Washington, D.C. where Junior is interning for the summer. Seeing one's little girl all dressed up for work at her first grown-up job must surely be one of the most bittersweet moments ever - but I'm so very proud of her.

Anyway!  BEA was a blast, both when I was at the Expo and when I was out prowling around the city. Wednesday kicked off the week with the Library Journal Day of Dialog where I was on a women's fiction panel moderated by my good friend Stephanie Klose. On the panel were wonderful authors I'd met before, including Lisa Scottoline (yes, she's as hilarious as you've heard) and Chelsea Cain (who manages to look elegant even with a broken knee and crutches, and then has you snorting your Diet Coke with her sharp wit)....and several lovely new ones: Lauren Oliver, Rainbow Rowell, and Pamela Nowak.  Tara Parsons of Mira spoke from the editorial side. Because it was a room full of librarians, it was fast-paced and funny and deep and important all at once.

looking back at Manhattan from Brooklyn


my favorite photo from my trip: right before it rained at the Yankees/Twins game

Chelsea Cain, broken leg up on chair :)
with Lisa Scottoline and Anne Spieth
view from McGraw-Hill Building, LJ DOD




I got to spend time with my agent Barbara and Editor Abby, of course, as well as dear friends Janet and Adam (my AFTERTIME editor) and Holly. Several after-hours libation-fueled brainstorming sessions have resulted in lots of plans, both sinister and salubrious--I always return from BEA with a slew of new projects, some of which eventually are realized.

Monday, May 26, 2014

PensFatales Day

I have the best friends in the world, it's true. Long ago, a number of us formed this little crew. We blogged, we worked, we talked about books, but mostly we shared each other's company, our ups and downs. Celebrations and tears. Today we gathered in Julie's garden.

I'll have to put this one in a frame, like I did three years ago the last time we took a group photo!




Monday, May 12, 2014

Hey NYTBR, Tear Down This Wall!

Ugh, I've bitched about it before but this week's By The Book column brings yet another reminder that the folks running it are decidedly out of step.

This week Gillian Flynn's on the block. I'm a big fan of hers for tons of reasons. I don't know her personally, but I've seen her speak and she's a delightful combination of giggly/creepy that feels like looking in the mirror.

Of course I was not surprised that when confronted with the two super-odious questions that the NYT folks insist on  including in the interview week after week, Gillian gave just-right answers.

Odious Question #1:
Any literary guilty pleasures?

Odious Question #2:
What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

Regarding the first question, the only appropriate response - at least, barring obscenities - is NO. Because if something contains words and is enjoyed by you, you should NEVER feel guilty. I don't care if its a Penthouse letter or a dime novel or a religious tract or one of my own novels - if you are enjoying what you read, you are practicing glorious literacy and you have NOTHING to be ashamed about. F#%K those who would have you believe that one form or genre is superior to another. There is superior writing (though even there you and I may politely disagree about what makes one piece better than another) but none of us on God's green earth gets to decide what type of writing is worthy of being read.

Regarding the second question - well, you can imagine what I have to say about that. I'll try to control my language and direct you, instead, to the delightful answers Gillian gave.

And to the anonymous constructor of the column, I have to ask...who made you feel so small that you have to go around constructing artificial scales by which to judge what you read? It makes me sad. I wish I could invite you to my house, where writers of all kinds of things often gather without shame, just to enjoy the community of people who love to read and write.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cover Reveal: INFECTED!

Delighted to share with you all - I've got a cover for my new young adult thriller, out next January from Delacorte. This one was so much fun to write!