Saturday, April 28, 2012

Do You Know About Tom's?

Tom's ( is a California-based company, founded in 2006, that sells sunglasses and leather-free shoes.  Their guiding principle is "One for One."  For every pair of shoes you buy from them, they donate a pair to a child in need somewhere around the world (including Native American reservations in the U.S.).  For every pair of sunglasses you buy, they help give sight to a person in need, by paying for either prescription eyeglasses, sight-saving surgery, or medical treatment for eyes.  Plus: they have awesome merchandise.  See for yourself!  What better way could there possibly be to splurge on summer shoes?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's the Megatalented-Holly-Schindler Interview!!!!


I am THRILLED to be able to post my interview with Holly Schindler, the unfairly gifted author of YA novels "A Blue So Dark" and "Playing Hurt," as well as the forthcoming middle-grade novel, "The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky." 

Holly's debut novel

And here is Holly's second novel, Playing Hurt

Holly can be followed at many places on the Web, if you know where to look.  There's her website,;  her blog,  her Facebook page, ; her twitter account,  and her two group author blogs, one for YA -, and one for middle-grade -  After reading her books, I contacted Holly on her website and she immediately agreed to an interview.  Since then, she's been incredibly open, friendly, and generous with her time, and I love her thoughtful answers to my questions.  Here now, without further ado: our interview.

Friday, April 20, 2012

     Wanna know a YA author whose books I really, really like?  You do?  Cool.  I was recently at my library and stumbled across two novels by A.S. King: Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and Everybody Sees the Ants.  They both really got me.  One, I'm a sucker for twisted humor.  Two, I like books about teens who are struggling not only to figure themselves out, but also to figure out their own weird, flawed parents, and the unique mix of loving/damaging their kids that each one of them brings to the table.  Because, let's face it: I don't know one parent (and I'm totally including myself) who doesn't fit somewhere on the loving/damaging spectrum, and where each one falls on that spectrum can change from day to day, or even hour to hour.  Depends how much sleep we've had, what the traffic was like on the way home from work, how we're feeling about ourselves at the moment, whether something our kids said reminds us of something that somebody we don't like once said...  The list goes on and on.  Vera Dietz's mother took off for Las Vegas with her podiatrist six years ago, when Vera was twelve, and hasn't been seen since, unless you count the card and check that arrive from her each year on Vera's birthday.  So it's Vera and her dad, a recovering alcoholic who believes that high school students should hold full-time jobs in their spare time.  Lucky Linderman, the 15-year-old boy who thinks he's the only one who sees the ants, will tell you that his mother is a squid and his father is a turtle, and that's only the beginning of what's wrong with them.  Vera and Lucky both have complex relationships with other kids too, but the ways they handle those relationships are informed by the way they handle their relationships with the adults they have to learn to live with - or without.  And vice versa.  Lucky's most complex relationship of all is with someone he never met: his Granddad Harry, MIA in Vietnam before Lucky's father was even born, but who has been showing up in Lucky's dreams since Lucky was seven, and the bullying he was enduring became unbearable.   The dreams focus on Lucky's attempts to rescue his grandfather from jungle imprisonment, but through them Lucky begins to realize that Harry is not the only one in need of rescue.  I found both Vera and Lucky to be irresistible, and now I can't wait for King's next novel, "Ask the Passengers," which is about a girl who's focused on sending her love to the passengers flying in airplanes overhead.  A.S. King rocks, but don't take my word for it.  Read her books yourself.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Birdbrains, Baboons, and Coming Attractions!!

One of the characters in the YA novel I'm currently shopping around is an African grey parrot who serves as a sort of consultant to his owner, a very offbeat therapist.  So maybe I'm stretching reality just a bit, but the fact is that African greys can think, which no scientists had ever acknowledged until Dr. Irene Pepperberg came along and studied Alex (short for Avian Language Experiment).  I highly recommend her book, "Alex and Me," which is an informative, hilarious, and poignant memoir of their almost-40 years together.  Anyway, my point is: animals are so much smarter than humans have ever given them credit for.  Follow this link, and if you have ever called someone a baboon as a way of insulting his or her intelligence, you probably never will again.
     Keep your eye out for my forthcoming interview with Holly Schindler, the very talented author of YA novels "A Blue So Dark" and "Playing Hurt."  Keep reading!  Keep writing!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just Shoot Me

So here I am, chugging along with my little blog here, getting way too excited any time I have more than 10 hits in a single day.  Patience, I counsel myself.  Give it time.  And I have heeded my own wise counsel, and for the most part, I have been content.  Well, 15 minutes ago, all that changed.  I learned that, while my daughter's best friend is away this week with the marching band, my daughter has been entrusted with the job of managing her blog for her.  Of what does this task consist, you might ask?  Why, it consists of posting pictures of "nature and parties." 
     I have been blogging for close to four months.  How many followers do I have?  Four, including my son, my husband, and my friend Julie, whom I begged.  How many followers does my daughter's friend Gianna have?  236.  I repeat: 236.  236 people who are evidently incapable of finding pictures of nature and parties without guidance.  When I expressed my dismay, my daughter, trying to be kind, told me that Gianna only has that many followers because hers is a "hipster blog."  My question, "Aren't I a hipster?," was met with tactful silence.
     Fine.  Being the mature middle-aged woman that I am, I know that hipsters are not born, but made.  This is America, land of opportunity, and if Gianna can have a hipster blog, so can I.  Observe:

(This is the nature picture)

(Which leaves....PARTIES!!!)
         Yeah, bring it on, Gianna!  Who's got the hipster blog NOW????

Friday, April 6, 2012

"Phantom Toll Booth" Author Looks Back

See this interview with Norton Juster, someone who got it about kids and reading long before the publishing world did.  And have a happy holiday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday question

YA Highway, a blog I just discovered and started following thanks to Yvonne Ventresca, has posted  a question this week for its followers to answer: "Who has helped you in your reading/writing/publishing journey?"  Wow, is my response.  So many people that it feels like I'm just being perverse and ungrateful by remaining unpub all these years!!  But the ones to whom I owe the most gratitude are the members of my critique group.  For the past 15+ years we've laughed a lot, shared fun outings, talked about books, families, jobs, friends, and pretty much every other conceivable topic, cheered for each other's successes, commiserated over each of our setbacks, and always been able to count on each other for honest, constructive criticism.  This group has served as my lifeline so many times - or, as my husband has called my fellow members, "the sisters you never had."  And my sister-in-chief has been the group's center and compass for all these years, Michele Granger.  If she thinks she can lose us all in two years when she and her husband retire and move from New Jersey to Massachusetts, ha!  She's going to have to think again.  I don't plan to be that easy to lose, not for someone who's enriched my life with her kindness, intelligence, and snarky wit the way that Michele has.  She's irreplaceable.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Forever and Ever In Your Favor

I recently discovered, much to my surprise, that my son had bought and read the entire Hunger Games trilogy, and, equally surprising, my husband had read them too.  So what choice did I have? I mean, who is the unpub YA novelist in this family?  Hint: not them.  (That's right, my 16-year-old daughter, the only one in the family who actually belongs in the YA demographic, isn't in on this.)  I took the first book, read the first chapter, put it aside.  Then one morning, I found I had a few minutes to spare before having to get ready for work, so I lay down on my bed and picked up the book again.  Two hours later, I was calling in to work and telling them I got caught up with something at home and would be in soon.  Over the next few weeks, I finished all three books in my own ADD way (actually read the first one straight through;  scanned the second and third for plot and character developments), and last night I saw the movie.  So.  It's a version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine.  Mankind has devolved into two distinct races, one beautiful, empty-headed and useless, the other unlovely, dwelling in darkness, carrying on the world's work.  The twist is that here, the Eloi/Capitol-Dwellers are the ones with the blood lust.  Rather than the Morlocks/District-Dwellers emerging from their underground lairs to eat the Eloi, the Capitolians take time out from the  perpetual party of which their lives consist, to "eat" - derive pleasure from the death and dismemberment of - the Tributes from the outlying Districts.  This tweak makes it easier to clearly demarcate the two races into Good and Evil, Hardworking and Decadent,  Technologically Superior and Morally Superior.  Simplistic?  Sure.  But not stupid.  Panem is not the world we inhabit, but it can sometimes seem disturbingly close to it.  Suzanne Collins has something to say, and we should be listening.