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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Have A Happy New Year With GCC Visiting Author: Carrie Jones

I’ve been taking a break from blogging the past two weeks to focus on the holiday festivities (Ho! Ho! Ho!). But never fear, I’ll be back next week with new blogs and new thoughts on the world of pop culture. In the meantime, I hope you all have a Rockin' New Year's Eve! Kick off 2009 with a bang and be sure to cheer on the Eagles this Sunday! Go Birds!

And as an added holiday treat, enjoy another awesome GCC interview with... Carrie Jones! Carrie's newest book, NEED just debuted in time for the holidays.

Here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal.
Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.

Here’s what Laurie had to say:

Q: In AMOR AND SUMMER SECRETS, Mariana discovers a hidden family secret. Are
you a good secret keeper?

CARRIE: I am an EXCELLENT secret keeper. In my family you have to be an excellent secret keeper to survive. If I told you more than that I would be absolutely blowing my secret-keeping skills. But… They are REALLY juicy and worthy of one of those memoirs about famous people.

Q: What is the favorite place you ever traveled to, and what was the coolest thing you saw/did there?

CARRIE: Urck. This is SO hard, Diana. I really liked going to the Pyrennes Mountains between France and Spain . The coolest thing I did was not vomit all over the place like everyone else I was with. They had too much sangria. They all passed out, and I got to be all by myself with this crazy bus driver as we were trapped in the mud on this dirt road we had to go on because the main road had been blocked off by a pig farmers’ strike.

I swear! It was so beautiful and magical and other than bus driver cursing, it was fantastic.

Q: I often tell the story of how a psychic once predicted that I would go on
to write children’s books. Have you ever visited a psychic?

Yes. My mom used to take me to psychic fairs ALL THE TIME. There would be people set up at tables and there was this one woman who looked so sad and cranky and nobody was in her line. I felt so badly for her that I went up to her. She looked at me and said, “You will go insane before you are 30 and be institutionalized. You are so scattered you have very bad grades but you are not stupid.”

And I thought, “Obviously, I am a little stupid since I came to you.”

Then I smiled and thanked her and went to a nice man psychic who told me:

1. Do NOT listen to anything that woman just told you.
2. You used to ride horses in France .
3. You are descended from Charlemagne.
4. You were a member of the resistance.
5. You are very smart.
6. You will be a writer.

Great story, Carrie! Love it!

Q: My character Mariana spends her summer in Puerto Rico connecting with her
father’s heritage. Have you ever researched your family tree?

Oh! This is so funny after the last question. I SWEAR I didn’t read this first. Well, I did research my family tree and I am descended from Charlemagne (this old French king) and Hannah Dustin (a colonist who has a VERY gory history that I talk about in my book, GIRL, HERO).

The problem with researching your family tree when there are famous people in it is that you suddenly feel very inadequate. I mean, seriously. There will never be a statue of me in a park somewhere.

What an interesting family tree, Carrie. And the psychic was right!

Q: Where were you when you found out that your book was going to be published?

I was in the Hancock County Democratic Pary office, which is this very small little place in my town. I was sitting at a table with a couple other volunteers when my agent called and I had to do the whole, “Oh, sorry. I have to take this call. It’s my agent.”

Then he told me and I screamed, startling all the volunteers. There was much political button dropping and then I ran out of the office and paced by the river behind our city library, totally psyched and incapable of making complete sentences. My poor agent. Those poor Democratic volunteers.

Thanks for stopping Carrie! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Welcome The Girlfriend Cyber Circuit, And My First Visiting Author: LAURIE FARIA STOLARZ

So I was recently invited to join a group of young adult authors called the GCC (Girlfriend Cyber Circuit). It’s an impressive group organized by Karin Gillespie (author of the Bottom Dollar Girl Series), and includes such fabulous authors as Melissa Walker (Violet on the Runway), Stephanie Kuehnert (I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone), and Alyson Noel (Cruel Summer), among many awesome others.

Once a year, each author in the group “tours” and gives interviews on the other authors’ blogs. And we all put together our own set of fun questions to keep things spicy. Now I haven’t interviewed anyone since I wrote for trade magazines (ahem, a few years ago), so I hope you enjoy my first swing at this!

Everyone please give a warm welcome to Laurie Faria Stolarz.
Her newest book, DEADLY LITTLE SECRET (A TOUCH NOVEL) just debuted in time for the holidays.

Here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

Some secrets shouldn't be kept...
Until three months ago, everything about sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at an art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes far from ordinary.

Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe he's trouble, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. Instead she's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help – but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something...but he's not the only one with a secret.

And now my first ever GCC Interview! Here’s what Laurie had to say:

Q: In AMOR AND SUMMER SECRETS, Mariana discovers a hidden family secret. Are you a good secret keeper? Why or why not?

LAURIE: I’m the best secret keeper. Seriously, when you tell me something in confidence, it’s like locking it up in a vault. I feel flattered when people feel they can open up to me by telling me something private. I’d never want to betray that. Even if I stop speaking with the person, I feel it’s not my place to tell their secret or story.

Q: What is the favorite place you ever traveled to, and what was the coolest thing you saw/did there?

LAURIE: In college, I studied abroad in Cannes and Paris and had the time of my life. I backpacked across Europe with some friends, staying in hostels and sleeping on trains. It’s hard to choose the coolest thing I saw or did because it was all so amazing.

Q: I often tell the story of how a psychic once predicted that I would go on to write children’s books. Have you ever visited a psychic?

LAURIE: No, I never visited a psychic, but once when I was in TJ Maxx, Laurie Cabot, Salem, Massachusetts’ official witch, shoved a crystal cluster rock into my hand and told me the entire plot of my novel (one that had already been written and was sitting in the hands of my thesis advisor). She didn’t “sense” it was a novel, however. She pegged me as the main character and she told me my life was in danger and that I had 4 days to do something about it. She went on to describe the killer and told me not to go anyplace alone for one week. All the while she was talking to me, I just kept thinking: this is my novel. Blue is for Nightmares came out about a year and a half later. There’s no way she could have read the novel beforehand. Only some fellow classmates and my thesis chair and reader had access to it.

Very cool story, Laurie!

Q: My character Mariana spends her summer in Puerto Rico connecting with her father’s heritage. Have you ever researched your family tree? Or visited the place you parents/grandparents/etc. were born?

LAURIE: I’d love to go to Ireland and trace my grandfather’s heritage. Unfortunately, I never got there when I was in Europe.

Q: Where were you when you found out that your book was going to be published?

LAURIE: I actually got the contract in the mail before I even got a phone call. I thought it was a little odd, so I wasn’t really sure it was real.

Thanks for stopping Laurie! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Congrats To The "Adios to All the Drama" Text Msg Contest Winners!

You guys rock. I got so many entries for my Adios to All the Drama Text Msg Contest that I decided to give away an extra ARC. So there are now THREE lucky winners of an Advanced Reader Copy of Adios to All the Drama! And I can’t get over how many of you went the extra mile to send a text message for the Grand Prize Mariana Box Set. I was testing out a new technology, and you absolutely exceeded my expectations. Like I said, you rock.

So for those who don’t know, if you sent a text message to the number I provided, you received a Secret Question in response. To curb your curiosity, the question was:

“Who is coming to visit Mariana in Adios to All the Drama?”
Correct Answer: Alex

Everyone who entered got it right. (Hey, you read my books! Thanks!) So now, without further ado, the winner of the Grand Prize Mariana Box Set (selected via a random drawing) is….

Gina Rodenberg! Congratulations!

You’ve won a Mariana Box Set that includes:
• A personalized signed copy of Amor and Summer Secrets
• A personalized signed copy of Amigas and School Scandals
• A personalized signed copy of Adios to All the Drama
• Three Amor and Summer Secrets bookmarks

The THREE winners of the Advanced Reader Copies of Adios to All the Drama (selected via a random drawing) are:

• Ellie
• Sarah Bear
• B

Congratulations to all the lucky winners! Please send me an email via MySpace or the Contact Me form on my website with the address where you’d like your book(s) mailed and to whom you would like the book(s) made out to.

Thank you to everyone who entered! And Merry Chrismukkah from my house to yours!

POP CULTURE RANT: Britney’s Comeback

I’m a little late to the blogosphere with this one. But I did watch Britney’s “documentary” on MTV, For The Record. Personally, I’m rooting for the girl. I’d like to see her get some sort of happy ending. But I seriously doubt Britney’s undergone any serious growth since her meltdown; more likely she hired a better publicity team. Have you seen the photos they’re putting out? They’re so reminiscent of “One More Time” Britney that she looks like she’s aging backwards. And let’s face it, Brit’s depressed. She said in the interview that her life feels like “Groundhog Day.” If being a superstar is her idea of boring, than nothing will every excite her. Though I did feel bad that she needed a body double and an SUV full of guards just to go shopping. Here’s to a less crazy New Year, Brit Brit!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stepping In for Oprah on her Favorite Things

I don’t know how many of you watch Oprah. But even if you don’t, you should be aware that her “Favorite Things” episode is the hottest ticket in town. She once joked that Brad Pitt couldn’t get his mother seats to the gazillion-dollar giveaway show. But this year, Oprah cheaped out—something about how the economy was in such bad shape that she thought it was in poor taste to flaunt fancy gifts in front of her viewers that they couldn’t afford. Whatever. Like we can usually afford $90 face cream.

Anyway, for this year’s episode, Oprah offered viewers fun, homemade holiday gifts like boxes to decorate and stationary to fill. Okay, that can be cute (ahem, if you're 10). But with only eight shopping days left, who’s got the time? Let’s face it, you need a store-bought list.

And so I thought that this year, in lieu of Oprah, I’d step up to the plate.

Here is my list of Diana’s Favorite Things:

All Terrain Tripod. These things rock. My husband and I took one of these to Italy, and we were finally able to get photos of us (together!) without making the international miming gesture of ‘can you take our picture?’ to strangers who don’t speak English.

USB External Keyboard. I don’t know about you guys, but the keyboard on my laptop sucks. Sometimes when I’m typing, my thumb accidentally hits the mouse pad and moves the cursor against my will. And the “insert” button is actively trying to kill me (who uses that thing?). This keyboard attaches to your laptop via a USB port, and it allows you to raise your laptop to eye level and keep your hands in ergonomically correct position.

Kolo Catalina Photo Album. My husband and I travel a lot, and we don’t throw much away. Consequently, we have boxes of maps from Paris, coasters from Prague, ticket stubs from Italy, ect. And I don’t have time to scrapbook my life away. These new albums let you slide your photos in, and it gives you five scrapbook pages to quickly glue your memorabilia down. I use the scrapbook pages as dividers to show we’ve gone from Tuscany to Venice, and so on. Very awesome.

Panini Press from William Sonoma. My in-laws got this for us, and it has now officially replaced my Forman Grill. I’ll never go back. In addition to making delicious sandwiches (Classico Pesto Sauce makes any hot sandwich taste better), it also grills veggies, steak, chicken, you name it. And it leaves happy little grill lines when it’s done.

Sharpie Pen. It’s the perfect solution to every author’s dilemma. You don’t want to sign books with a Sharpie marker that makes the signature illegible. And you don’t want to sign with an ordinary pen that writes too light and won’t hold up over time. These pens are permanent and write just thick enough.

• Books! See my earlier post for specifics.

Macy’s. Yup, I’m giving it up to the entire store. First, because it’s Christmas and the Macy’s on 34th Street in Manhattan perfected the holiday. Second, because EVERYTHING is on sale at Macy’s. Always. It doesn’t matter what the ticket says, take it to the register. It’s on sale. Also, I have an endless stream of coupons coming in the mail like little presents everyday. And what’s even nicer is that the new Macy’s in Philadelphia is in the old Wanamaker’s building—the very same department store where the movie Mannequin was filmed.

And don’t forget to enter the “Adios to All the Drama Text Msg Contest.” All you have to do is leave a comment on my last blog for a chance to win an ARC this Friday, or send a text message for a chance to win a complete box set.


So I went to the Monday night game against Cleveland. People care so little about the Browns here (sorry, Cleveland) that my hubby and I were able to buy the tickets from a broker at face value. That’s practically free in Eagles World (where the entire season sells out in an hour sometime in the early summer). The game was great (they won!). But I have to question the sanity of Andy Reed after he had DeSean Jackson (a wide receiver) attempt to throw a touchdown pass from the seven-yard line. Seriously? That play was pathetic, and the entire team is lucky the Browns didn't shove it in their faces. But a win is a win! Go Birds! Two more games!

Friday, December 12, 2008

“Adios to All The Drama” Book Trailer, Plus A Cool Contest

I swear I feel like every time I turn around lately, I’m launching another book. Crazy, right? I’ve had three books debut in five months. Even I’m at a loss as to how I pulled that off. Whew.

And as the holidays approach, I’m happy to report that the final installment of the Amor and Summer Secrets series is ready to hit shelves. Adios to All The Drama will debut January 2nd. To celebrate the launch, I’ve created my first-ever video blog/book trailer combo, and a very cool contest using the latest in text messaging technology. Aren’t I a techie geek?

So for a sneak peak inside the final book in Mariana Ruiz’s saga, check out my (slightly schizophrenic) video blog. Enjoy!

And I know there are tons of you out there who are not done your Christmas shopping. So let me lighten the load a bit. Leave a comment below (via blogger or my MySpace blog) for a chance to win an Advanced Reader Copy of Adios to All the Drama. Simple, right?

Two winners will be announced on Friday, December 19th.

But don’t stop there!

I have an even better holiday present for you! Enter the Adios to All the Drama Text Msg Contest for a chance to win a complete Mariana Box Set.

Here’s what you need to do. Send a text from your cell phone (don’t worry, your information will be kept private and won’t be put on any lists) to 77950 with “Diana Contest” as your message. In response, you’ll receive a (fairly simple) secret question about Adios to All the Drama and a URL (or just click here). If you go to the designated page on my site and enter the answer, you’ll be entered to win a complete Mariana Box Set.

Mariana Box Set includes:
• A personalized signed copy of Amor and Summer Secrets
• A personalized signed copy of Amigas and School Scandals
• A personalized signed copy of Adios to All the Drama
• Three Amor and Summer Secrets bookmarks

The winner of the Adios to All the Drama Text Msg Contest will also be announced on my blog on Friday, December 19th. So you have one week to enter! Get texting! And happy reading!

POP CULTURE RANT: General Hospital

OMG, is that Sam McCall? I mean, the original Sam McCall? The danger junkie with a heart? Because it almost looks like her. Only I thought the writers shredded her up with last year’s junk mail. I haven’t seen in her so long, I almost didn’t recognize her saving a baby rather than kidnapping one. And wait, is that Jason remembering he was madly in love with her? I thought his brain damage had wiped that clean—guess not. Good to see the writers finally resurrecting this much-abused character. Go Team Sam!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The 12 Books of Christmas, and My First Review For “Adios to All the Drama”

My husband is a huge fan of commercials. In fact, he often requests that I rewind the DVR to watch one that caught his eye (he’s in marketing—it’s a sickness). So I’ve come to appreciate a good ad. And when you’re sitting at a bar on a Friday night talking about an ad you saw recently, you know it’s good. So kudos to IndieBound.org for putting together this fabulous ad:

Let’s face it--how many times have you visited someone’s house and pick up a Yankee Candle? I know I’m guilty of purchasing “Home Sweet Home” for a housewarming, or “Wedding Day” after a couple gets married, and let’s not get into all the scents they have for Christmas. But this year—no offense to Yankee Candle—I’m asking you all to think outside the scented gifts. Give a book. It costs the same amount (cheaper if it’s a paperback), and it carries a lot more meaning than the “Scent of the Month.”

So to get you all started, here are my personal recommendations.

The Twelve Books of Christmas

For Infants:
1) Urban Babies Wear Black (Board book)
By Michelle Sinclair Colman
I’ve given this as a gift several times. It’s THAT cute, and perfect for a New Yorker or any urban mom.

For Ages 4-8:
Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
By Gene Barretta
I recently gave this as a gift to two of my nephews. Even I was unaware of some of Ben’s inventions (did you know that he invented scuba flippers?).
FULL DISCLOSURE: This author is from Philly, and I did an event with him. He’s super cool, and his brother is a Muppeteer who did the voice of the Swedish Chef (if I’m remembering correctly).

For Ages 9-12:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
by Jeff Kinney
I gave this book to one of my other nephews (I have many). It’s hysterical, and there’s now an entire series with fun tie-ins.

By Laurie Halse Anderson
FULL DISCLOSURE: I ordered this and haven’t had the chance to read it yet. But just the first chapter has me riveted. When do you get to read about slavery from a child’s perspective?

Young Adult
There are so many to choose from, my head is going to explode. But here are just a couple to get you going.

For the girl who loves the Princess Diaries
First off, buy the final installment, Forever Princess, which debuts January 6th.

But if she loves Mia, then she'll love Georgia:
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (series)
By Louise Rennison
This British series is so funny, I was laughing on a city bus. Plus, there’s a movie in the works, so get a jump on the frenzy.

For the girl who loves Gossip Girl
Violet on the Runway (series)
by Melissa Walker
The Violet series is tons of fun, and very high glam. Teens will love it!

For the girl who loves the Amor and Summer Secrets series (come on, I had to plug my own books)
Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies)
By Justina Chen Headley
Any multicultural teen will relate to this funny and heartwarming story.

For the girl who loves Twilight
A Jane Austen gift set
I’m going back to the classics here, but if your teen has fallen in love with the noble Edward than she might be prone to love Mr. Darcy as well. Give it a shot. After all, Bella reads the classics.

For a college student
The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Another oldie but a goodie. This is probably my favorite book, and I read it whenever I need a bit of pick-me-up. I think college kids are the perfect age to get the meaning in this classic tale.

Adult Fiction

For your girl friend who loves Jennifer Weiner
Dirty Girls Social Club
And it’s sequel, Dirty Girls on Top
By Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
It’s smart, witty women’s fiction at its finest. Trust me, you won’t be able to put these books down—and don’t we all have a little bit of “Lauren” in us?

For your girl friend who loves romance novels
By Stephenie Meyer
I know Stephenie doesn’t really need any sales help from me, but I’m surprised by how many of my adult friends shied away from this series because they thought it was for “kids.” Trust me, if your friend loves a good romance, then she’ll love Edward.

And of course to plug my own novels even further (hey, it’s my blog), I’ve got some great news to share.

First, Amor and Summer Secrets was selected as one of the Best Books of 2008 by Latinidad. I feel very honored. Check it out here.

Amor was also recently featured on Justine Magazine’s website, with two glowing reviews from teen readers. Read the reviews on Justine Magazine's Spark website.

Also, I have a new interview up on author Laura Bowers' website (author of Beauty Shop for Rent). If you ever wondered what I looked like in 8th grade with a perm, I'd check it out. I don't release photos like that lightly.

And Adios to All the Drama has received its first review! And it’s positive! Read what Harriet Klausner (Amazon’s No.1 Book Reviewer) thinks:

The cast is solid and the subplots involving Teresa, Madison and Emily add to the overall teen angst, but no question there is only one star in Diana Rodriguez-Wallach teen series, Mariana, who first hand understands the Loving Spoonful’s prime question of the universe (and not that of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy): Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?. ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA is an interesting look at teen decision making, information gathering, and especially drama queen angst.

The whole review can be found here.


I’m sad to see this show go. But I gotta give it up to David E. Kelley for writing the show’s cancellation into the plot. How often to do you see actors argue in court about why their show was cancelled? And how there aren’t enough TV shows featuring actors over 50? It was very tongue-in-cheek and fun to watch. Plus, I was surprised to learn that I have the same viewing tastes at my parents’ 50-plus community. I mean, who doesn’t love a good closing argument?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Look Inside My Work-In-Progress Meltdown

I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately for my young adult series, Amor and Summer Secrets. The second book, Amigas and School Scandals, debuted last month and the final installment is set to launch in January. That’s three books in five months, which means a lot of words and a lot of interviews.

Typically I’m asked what new projects I’m working on. And because I’m a bit superstitious, I usually try to be vague—only mentioning that it’s a new YA project about spies and that it’s set in Europe. But in recent weeks, I’ve been having a bit of a writing crisis—one of those miserable times where you start to question everything and think of scrapping the whole darn novel. And now I plan to spend my holidays (Ho! Ho! Ho!) trying to figure out what to do with the manuscript I love so much.

Because the thing is, I’m not having this crisis because I don’t believe in the book. I do. Trust me. I’m completely in love with it, which might be the problem. I may have lost perspective.

But because I love it so much, and because I don’t know what will ever happen with it, I’ve decided to post my first ever teaser. I’ve never participated in “Teaser Tuesdays.” In fact, I’ve never let anyone aside from my agent, her assistants and my family read any of my books before they hit the shelves. So while this teaser thing may be old hat for some, it’s a big deal for me. I just want to know that a piece of this book, in its current form, is out there somewhere.

So here goes, an excerpt of Anastasia Phoenix. I’m not gonna give you much of a lead-in aside from telling you that the excerpt below currently appears in Chapter 2. Enjoy!

I rocked silently on a kitchen chair, a blanket wrapped around my shoulders. Police filled the apartment. Voices rang in my ears. It was happening all over again.

“We’re so sorry for your loss…”
“We have to ask you a few questions…”
“Is there someone you can stay with…”

Radios squawked on the hips of the officers. The sound cranked the hysteria raging in my head. I kept rocking, trying to drown them out.

“Ma’am. Ma’am!” someone shouted.

I felt Charlotte shake my leg, snapping me out of my stupor. She gestured to the detective glaring down. I dizzily swung my head toward the forty-something African American woman in the dark pants suit. I could see in her sad brown eyes that she felt uncomfortable dealing with me. She probably had kids of her own.

“Ma’am, I need to know if your sister had a history of mental illness,” the woman asked as she quickly averted her eyes to study the cheap blue pen she held poised above a notepad. She didn’t want to look at me while I spoke. It was clear that this was hard for her, though I guessed by her age that she probably had many years on the force. Some people weren’t equipped to handle tragedy.

“History of depression?” the officer continued softly. “Maybe from the accident…”
My jaw tightened. “Gee, what makes you think that?” I snorted.

The woman briefly glanced at me, her eyes hardened by my tone. “It’s a reasonable conclusion…”

I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. “Look, I know what you’re all thinking,” I snapped. “And, yes, our parents were killed by some rotting-in-hell drunk driver. And, no, my sister was not singing the Sound of Music when she had to drop out of school to take care of me. But, trust me, she was not depressed.”

“Mm, hmm.” The officer nodded.

“She wasn’t depressed! She did not kill herself! She was alive when I left! I heard her whispering…”

“Yes, I know. You said that—”

“Yes, I did!” I screeched, my body beginning to shake. “But apparently you aren’t listening! Some dirt bag was in her room this morning! I left for, like, less than an hour and when I got back, I find him gone and my sister dead. For the love of God, if you don’t go out and find that psycho, I will find a gun and—“

“Anastasia!” Charlotte interrupted, slapping her hand on my chest. “Shut up.”

My fists curled into heated balls as I shot my friend a look. Charlotte’s frizzy hair was pulled in a perky high ponytail that looked ridiculously pep-rally-like given the situation, but her gaze was lifeless. For a girl as smart as she was, for the first time, I saw nothing behind her dark eyes. They were empty.

“I know you’re upset,” Charlotte choked as the tears flowed. “But this isn’t helping…”

There was a buzzing in my ears. I knew I should try to stifle my emotions to make it easier for everyone else to look at me. But I couldn’t do it. Not even for Charlotte, and certainly not right now. “Oh then, what would help? Tell me! Should I sit back like the obedient relative and listen to the big bad police tell me that they know my sister better than I do?”

“Ma’am we are not saying—”

“Stop calling me ma’am! Do I look like the first lady?” I snarled at the officer.

“I’m sorry, Anastasia,” the woman corrected, softer now. “But your sister’s wounds…her wrist, her neck…I mean, they were self-inflicted.”

I closed my eyes. All I could see was red.

Copyright © 2008 by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Little Black Friday Retail Therapy and a Twilight Review

I love Black Friday. I really do. I go out shopping every year. And not to any old store—I go to the King of Prussia mall. A shopping mecca so large that Wikipedia claims it’s the biggest in the country.

I usually go with my mom and my sister. And the weirdest part is that none of us is shopping for anything in particular. I mean, it’s the day after Thanksgiving. We haven’t had much time to contemplate what to buy those on our lists. We just like the crowds, the sales, and—quite simply—the shopping.

You see, you know how Oprah talks about “eating her feelings”? Well, I could easily shop my feelings. I enjoy looking at pretty things. I feel happy when I buy something (on sale!). And I love wearing a new outfit for the first time.

This isn’t to say that I’m financially irresponsible. I have zero credit card debt. That’s because I don’t fulfill my shopping cravings as much as I’d like. But man, if I ever win the lottery….the things I’d buy.

This is why I don’t begrudge Sarah Palin on her wardrobe. How many times do you get to run for Vice President? If the RNC let me loose with $150,000 in Neiman Marcus, I’m sure I could spend it just as fast. It’s not hard if you consider that one pair of Christian Louboutin shoes costs more than $1,000.

So, I go out annually on Black Friday and covet. And now, I also go to the movies. My mom, sister and I are proud to admit that we were the oldest people in the theater during the 11am showing of Twilight (though not as proud as the men who were also there).

And not to delay the suspense any further, here are my thoughts:

I liked it. I didn’t love it, and it certainly wasn’t as good as the book, but it was well done. Definitely worth the money if you’re a Twilight fan. If you haven’t read the book, I can’t imagine it would have the same appeal (seriously, drop me a comment if you fall into this camp, I’m curious how it comes across to newbies).

Things I loved:

-Kristen Stewart. She was the perfect Bella. She was witty, and not nearly as needy as the character seems in the book. And I loved how you could hear her breathing heavy every time Edward was near.
-Edward in sunglasses. I wish this scene was longer, because it was a great look for him.
-Esme cooking Italian food. I thought this was a cute added scene to give us a sense of the Cullens. And the house they live in is sick.
-Cam Gigandet as James. I thought this guy was PERFECT. Very creepy.
-The Kiss. It was different than the book, but better in that the film version was more passionate. It gives me hope that if more movies are made, we’ll see more on-screen sparks (for example, the love scene that was yadda yadda’d over in Breaking Dawn).
-The Ballet Studio scene. Well done! I even loved the montage of Bella’s life flashing before her eyes. I also loved the unexpected graphicness of the big fight (like the sound of bones cracking—nice touch).
-Edward Sparkling. This is a cheesy thing to capture on film, and I think the director did as good as could be expected. It was kinda like a “Dancing with the Stars” sparkle on crack.
-The Baseball Game. I loved Alice’s pitching and Emmett’s fielding. Nice Cullen moment.

Things I have mixed feelings about:

-Robert Pattinson. I hate to say this. Because he’s hot, and he definitely looks the part. And he was excellent as the brooding, moody Edward. But I didn’t believe him when he was trying to play “angry.” The scene where he smells Bella for the first time didn’t seem threatening at all; I barely felt anything from him. And other scenes, like rescuing her in Port Angeles, seemed rushed and over-the-top.
-The Courtship. This moved WAY too fast. All their interactions felt chopped so short that it was hard to believe it was “true love.”
-The Editing. It felt like MTV edited the first half of this movie (this ties into my complaints about the courtship). It felt as if Bella and Edward would say three lines to each other and then—POOF—new scene, new day! I think the movie could have benefited from a slower pace in the beginning. Maybe cut the amount of location changes, and extend some of their dialogue so the romance would evolve more naturally.
-Edward jumping/running. Someone needs to hire the special effects people who did the X-Men movies, because Edward’s super powers could use some work. Moviegoers were actually giggling.
-Their skin tone. I know the Cullens are pale, but wow. If someone with Carlisle’s skin tone was walking around in the real world, he’d be undergoing medical tests for a vitamin deficiency. Their paleness was so extreme, it was sometimes distracting.
-Jasper. What was up with him? He had a freaky, silent Edward Scissors Hands vibe that I don’t remember from the books.

So, that’s my take. Did any of you guys see Twilight? What did you think? Share some thoughts if you’re so inclined.

Copyright © 2008 Diana Rodriguez Wallach, All Rights Reserved