Wednesday, June 25, 2014


     Perhaps, unlike me, you are not older than dirt, and do not remember the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks sketch.  If so, I pity you enough to provide the link for you here:

     There, now that's taken care of.  Well, what reminded me of this sketch very recently was my brand-new, hot-off-the-press Volunteer Assignment at the New Jersey SCBWI Conference this coming weekend.
     Let me explain.  I've been attending this annual conference for the past umpteen years, and for the past five or so, I've offered to fulfill volunteer assignments.  This has worked out great.  It makes me feel like I'm helping, but it also serves the crucial function of giving me something to do other than obsess about the critiques of my manuscripts I'm about to receive.  A win-win, you might say. 
     But then last year, something strange happened.  In addition to my ordinary volunteer jobs, I was also given the task of serving as a Conference Liaison to two of the author faculty members.  But what exactly does a Conference Liaison do??  The instructions I received were rather vague, but did seem to suggest that I not only remain constantly available to my liaisees throughout the two-day conference, but that I also call them on their cell phones five or six times during the course of the day (in case, I suppose, they needed me desperately but were too shy to initiate the contact)  just to make sure they were happy and well-tended.  Evidently, I was expected to function as a Helicopter Liaison. 
     In my perplexity, I brought this problem to my critique group.  After all, I was there at the conference to network, attend workshops, and receive critiques.  Was I really going to be expected to respond to a call from a liaisee instantaneously, no matter what else I happened to be doing at the moment?  And once I DID drop everything and race at superhuman speed to my liaisee's side, what exactly was I to be expected to do for them?  There seemed to be a consensus among my critique group members that if I were summoned to respond to a liaisee's life-threatening emergency, my lack of medical training would prove a distinct handicap.  To be blunt, all of us doubted I'd be able to prevent their bleeding out right in the middle of presenting their workshops.  As to what other circumstances might require my assistance...  well, my group and I had a lot of thoughts on the subject, many of them centering around moist towelettes (as my friend Michele was kind enough to remind me this morning).  As in: "Hello, I'm your Conference Liaison, and I'm here to meet your every need.  May I offer you coffee?  Tea?  Whiskey? Cocaine?  Bootleg CDs?  Penicillin?  Breath mints?  Or perhaps a moist towelette?"    As for our discussions of Conference Liaison Bathroom Etiquette, they will not be repeated here because some of us actually still care about our reputations.
     But you have to admit: it was a silly volunteer assignment.  It was like I was being pranked and someone was waiting to see when I would realize it.  But I never let on I knew, so this year, the volunteer coordinators have upped the ante.
     Oh, I'm still a Conference Liaison, don't you worry.  But this year, in addition to that as well as my more traditional assignments, I have a brand new title.  At this very moment, you are reading the blog of a MEAL TABLE FACILITATOR.  Yup, you read that right.  I'm an MTF at not one, not two, but three different meals.
     So, the biggest FAQ that we MTFs get asked is: "Excuse me, please, O Honorable MTF, but could you possibly be willing to abase yourself to explain to a humble non-MTF like me what it is that you do?"  And here is my reply: "Why, certainly.  I may be an MTF, but that doesn't mean I've lost the common touch.  I remember back three days ago when I was (hard as it is to believe) an ordinary non-MTF just like you.  So yes, my dear supplicant, I will take a moment out of my busy and important schedule to explain to you that prior to each meal, the MTF is provided an Official List of the non-MTFs who have signed up to sit at his or her Assigned Table, along with one or two faculty members.  And as the non-MTFs seat themselves around the circle, the MTF is entrusted with the supremely important task of ascertaining the identity of all the non-MTFs, checking them against the Official List, and if they do not appear on said List, assuring their... departure, shall we say.  Yes, let's call it "departure."  That sounds so civilized, does it not?

     What's that you say, humble supplicant?  I can hardly believe my ears.  Did you actually dare to utter the phrase "glorified bouncer?"  That was quite a foolish move on your part, I must say.  No, no, I won't hear of your leaving.  Stay right there.  There are some people I'd very much like for you to meet....


Saturday, June 21, 2014


     but I have some really excellent excuses!  Allow me to demonstrate one of the excellentest ones:

That would be my baby, before leaving for her high school graduation two nights ago.  GO AMY!!!And she actually allowed us to take a few more backyard photos too:

                                                      Amy & her brother

                                                         Amy & her dad

                                                       Amy & her mom, a.k.a. me
                                                          Amy & her boyfriend Nick
And then here are some of Amy just being Amy:

     So as you can see, there's been some stuff going on.  Not that all of this amounts to a decent excuse for not writing, but it does give me something to blog about and provides me with an opportunity to share some adorable pictures.
     Someday, somehow, I will get back to writing again.  But to be honest, it probably won't be before the NJSCBWI Conference next weekend.  On the other hand, the Conference will give me plenty to blog about anyway, so I'm not going to feel guilty about continuing to lie fallow for another week.  After all, I raised a high school graduate, didn't I?  That has to count for something!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


     I am very happy to report that my contest winner, H.T. Leung, did contact me and give me her mailing address so I can send her the book.  Which means that I was able to release all of the minions I had employed for the sole purpose of standing by (without eating, sleeping or using the bathroom) awaiting her reply.  Which means that she now has their eternal gratitude.  And in case you're curious, this is how it looked when I told them all they could leave their posts:

     Yeah, they got a little excited.  But not as excited as me and H.T.!!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014


     The time has come for me to choose the winner of my book giveaway contest, and that winner is: htleung716!!  [Cue tears, screams, and happy dances] 

     Thank you to everyone who participated, and please keep stopping by here because I do book giveaways fairly often.  I chose htleung because 1. I liked her comment, and 2. I see that she's just begun her very own reading/reviewing blog,, and I'd like to support a fellow reader just starting out in this book-blogging biz.  3. also, I liked her review of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS - even-handed, I thought, which is something it isn't always easy to be when discussing a juggernaut of epic proportion.  So, ht, congratulations!  Send me an email at muranosb(at)gmail( with your email address, and I'll get the book out to you pronto!  And by the way: I like to offer my book contest winners the opportunity to do a guest review on my blog after they've finished reading the book (certainly not mandatory, but kind of fun, no?)  Okay, ht, here are just a few of the people I  hired in the last ten minutes to monitor my email 24/7 until your response is received:

     As you can see, I don't mess around.  So email me immediately!!!  You wouldn't believe what these people are charging me!  The rate would have been a little lower if I allowed them to go to the bathroom once in a while, but this mission is far too serious for that kind of frivolity.  I can assure you that if you hurry up and get back to me, these folks will be very, very grateful.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


     It's all become clear to me, Noha.  1.  That's not your real name, and 2.  You selected a pseudonym that would slyly inform me that you don't find me funny.  No ha.  Okay, I get it.  And you leave me no choice but to move on.  Aloha, Noha.
     So is there anyone else out there that wants this free book?  E. Lockhart is a fabulous writer, and WE WERE LIARS has gotten some dynamite reviews.  Meg Rosoff (of whom I have often babbled) was not completely taken in by the story, but the book has over 9,000 Goodreads ratings and close to 3,000 reviews, and it has a very respectable four-out-of-five-stars rating overall.  Isn't that good enough to take a chance on, people?  Perhaps the problem is that I didn't adequately define the phrase "free book."  I will do so now:  it means "book (in excellent condition) that I will mail to you at my own expense with no financial obligation of any kind on your part."  Any questions?
     I was advised by a helpful commenter to one of my previous book giveaway contests to use Rafflecopter.  It was one of those excellent suggestions which would have been perfect if I had just been a different person than I am.  Technology is so not my thing, and I feel like: why should I have to torture myself by learning some alien technology when all I want to do is GIVE AWAY A FRIGGING BOOK???  Does that seem fair to you?  It doesn't to me.  What seems fair is that I should just have to make the offer and wait as the responses flood in.
     Okay.  So we're going to try this again, but this time, I will keep my inner control freak in check.  I'm not going to tell you what kind of comment to leave.  Leave any comment your little heart desires.  Then, when I'm good and ready, I'll pick one of the commenters according to my own purely subjective standards, and I'll send that person the book, and that will be the end of it.
     Have I made myself clear?  Good.  Then let's stop screwing around and get to work, shall we?  The book and I aren't getting any younger, ya know.

Friday, June 6, 2014


     Noha?  Noha Agogg?  Hello?  Can you hear me?  You won a copy of WE WERE LIARS in my contest!  Now you have to come forward to claim said book, or I will be forced to choose a runner-up.  Come on now, don't be shy.  I don't care if you're operating under a pseudonym!  I just want to give you your book!  You won it, after all.  Now come get it.  I'm serious.  Look how serious I am:

     Yeah, that's me.  I usually look a little different, but that's only because I'm usually not so INTENSELY SERIOUS as I am right now.   And if you don't answer me, Noha Agogg, I will have no choice but to get even more serious, and then I will remove my glasses and look like this:

     Do you want me to look like this, Noha?  Is that the kind of person you are?  I sincerely hope not.  Look into those serious eyes, Noha.  Is that what you want me to become?  Even if you do think the very worst of the WE WERE LIARS protagonist, I still believe in my heart of hearts that you do not despise the human race quite that much.
     Justify my faith in you, Noha.   Justify my last shred of belief in humanity. 
     No pressure or anything.
     I'll be waiting. 

Monday, June 2, 2014


     Here's a little verse to bring a close to this misbegotten giveaway contest:

     Okey-o dokey-o;
     The hell with Pinocchio.

     By which I mean to say: I give up.  I declare the winner and poster of the most interesting (i.e., twisted) comment to my contest post to be Noha Aggog, if by some chance that's her real name, or even if it's not.  Okay, Noha!  (Are you perhaps related to Greta Ha?)  Come out, come out, wherever you are!  Shoot me an email at muranosb(at)gmail(dotcom), tell me your mailing address, and I'll shoot you the actual, non-e, hopelessly traditional, turn-the-pages book.
     And I have to say that I'm deeply disappointed in Jiminy Cricket, who wasn't really much help at all in generating interest in this contest.  Moral of the story: if you're looking for a life coach, and the only applicant to show up is an insect in formal evening wear, smile and  keep looking.

                                                           Hey! Just hold on there!

Yeah, Jiminy.  I mean you.