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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Go Ahead, Inhale the Latest Novel from April Henry: TORCHED

I’ve never seen the show Weeds with Mary-Louise Parker. Once we got DVR, we realized we didn’t need much more than basic cable to be satisfied (we record everything). So Showtime and HBO got the boot.

However, I imagine that if Parker’s character were to be arrested, one of her family members could end up in a scenario quite similar to TORCHED. GCC Member April Henry answers the question: if you found out your parents were hippy pothead marijuana farmers, how far would you go to save them? I don’t know the answer, but I’d definitely like to find out.

So everyone please welcome April to the blog to discuss TORCHED, which just debuted through Penguin Putnam this month.

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

When Ellie’s parents are busted for growing marijuana, the FBI gives her a choice: infiltrate the Mother Earth Defenders (MED), a radical environmental group, or her parents will go to jail. At first Ellie is more than willing to entrap the MEDics, but the more time she spends undercover—particularly with Coyote, the green-eyed MEDic that she can’t stop thinking about—the more she starts to believe in their cause. When talk turns to murder, Coyote backs out, but Ellie is willing to risk everything to save her family—even if it means losing Coyote and putting her own life on the line.

And watch the book trailer here.

Here’s what April had to say:

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

April: I am good at keeping secrets, if it’s clear they are not mine to tell. But I love gossip. Sometimes there is a fine line.

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

Two years ago, we went to Italy, France, and England on a vacation we had saved for years for. Our favorite places was the Cinque Terra [in Italy] – five little villages of layers of sherbet-colored houses leaning over the Mediterranean. You can currently see it in a camcorder commercial that quotes Fitzgerald and runs in movie theatres.

Side note: My brother-in-law and his wife are going to Cinque Terra in a couple of weeks. The photos remind me of Oia in Santorini.

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?

I would love to visit a psychic, and my daughter and I are talking about going together. I’m thinking I might be able to right it off as research

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

My great-great-great grandma was rumored to be Cherokee. I also think there might be some African American blood mixed in our family someplace. I think it would be fun to get a DNA test to see if we can learn more. At my old job, there was someone with the same last name as my grandmother’s maiden name: Satterwhite. Our families both had the same story about brothers coming over from England in the late 1700s. Only in his version there were four brothers. In mine there were three. Even though his family is all a bunch of blue-eyed Catholics and mine a bunch of brown-haired Protestants, I’m sure we are related. We call each other Cuz now.

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

April: I was at work, the place where I learned nearly all my good publishing news, until finally I got the best publishing news of all – that I had an offer good enough that I could risk quitting my day job. (My agent calls it sailing your boat out into the middle of the ocean and setting it on fire.)Since this was seventh published book, no photos, but I do have this photo of the impromptu party my old coworkers threw me in 1997 when I got my first contract.

That is the greatest analogy of quitting your day job I’ve ever heard! I may have to borrow that.

Thank you, Amanda! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Alumni Words of Wisdom: I Never Took Creative Writing

So I had a wicked good time in Boston this week visiting my alma mater, BU. It was a lot of fun with a heaping dose of déjà vu mixed in. I sort of had that feeling you get when you visit your old high school or grade school and everything seems smaller than you remember. This is a significant considering that Boston University has a campus large enough to hold 30,000-plus students—nothing’s actually small. Yet the sensation was oddly comforting.

As part of my two-day extravaganza, I stayed at the Hotel Commonwealth (built where the very classy Super Socks and Rathskeller grunge bar used to be). When I checked in the hotel gave me a warm moist towel and an orchid. And I had a view of Fenway from my room. Jealous?

Then I got a tour of the College of Communication (COM), my old stomping ground. It looks almost the same except for the giant antenna missing from the roof. It hadn’t worked in decades, but it served to help to differentiate the school on campus (like “Look, we’re a communications school! We have an antenna and everything!”) The coolest part was seeing some of the student’s photojournalism stills hung the walls. The pictures looked straight out of National Geographic (Iraq, the Presidential Primaries, you name it). Very impressive.

My event was hosted by COM and Alianza Latina, and held at the new Howard Thurman Center in the GSU. The space is very loungey and decked out with photos of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Fun Fact: Did you know that MLK graduated from BU? Yup, he got his Ph.D. degree there.)

So I spoke to students and alums about the road to publication. I gave them my tale of woe (like the first book I ever wrote, which didn’t go on to sell). I gave them my inspirational tale (about the psychic who predicted I would write children’s books). And I gave them the fun bits (like how my book sold while I was at Mardi Gras in New Orleans).

Then I answered questions. I told them how the broadcasting skills I learned at COM helped me make my book trailer. I told them that my lowest grade was Intro to Environmental Science where the entire course was based on fill-in-the-bubble scantron tests (I suck at those). And I told them that you can enter the publishing realm from every discipline.

I was a reporter before I became a novelist. Many people don’t think those writing experiences are very applicable. But I disagree. YA authors strive to maintain the attention of teenagers, so you won’t find a lot of purple prose about how the cheerleader’s “flaxen hair sways like straw on a summer day in Iowa just as the sun is about to set, streaking with sky with ribbons of gold, yadda yadda.” We keep it simple. And in a way, this is similar to journalistic writing.

But I also told them that I’ve never taken a creative writing course. Ever. Not one. Not in high school and not in college. So this means that I’ve never had a teacher grade my creative writing. I’ve never been taught how to “properly” structure a novel. I’ve never been instructed on how to write dialogue. I’ve never even written a short story as an adult.

I just sat down one day and wrote a book.

Now I’m not saying these courses aren’t valuable. I didn’t intentionally avoid them. I just didn’t know I wanted to be author until later in life. Had I gone into college with that goal in mind, I probably would have taken the courses. But my point is, you don’t need official training to write a novel. There are no prerequisites. You just need to write well, write often, and write what you know.

And in other news, Go Terrier Hockey! We’re ranked No. 1 for the Men's National Title. Sieve, Sieve, Sieve, Sieve!!


I’m shopping for a new house, so it’s become inevitable that my life now revolves around watching programming of other people shopping for houses. This leads me to “House Hunters.” Have you seen this show? Because if you live in the Northeast or California, I’m guessing you find it as depressing as I do. I watched an episode where a couple was purchasing a place in Dallas in the $120,000 price range, where the homes included updated kitchens, four bedrooms and bonus rooms. Are you kidding me? For $120K in Center City Philadelphia I think you can either get a parking spot, or an apartment in a neighborhood you’ll get shot. And don’t even get me started on NYC. I don’t even think you’d get a hotdog stand for that price. I need to limit myself to only watching episodes from L.A. or San Fran where the home values make me feel better about myself.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Think Aliens Have Landed in Chapter 6

There are a few universal writing tips that most authors try to heed. Some signify lazy writing, like “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Meaning, don’t write he “ran quickly,” instead write “he ran/sprinted/darted,” you name it.

Another good tip is to avoid “As you know, Bob” dialogue as a lame way of working in background information. For example, it makes no sense for Obama to say, “As you know Bob, when I was running for president I won the Iowa Caucus.” Everyone on the planet Earth knows that, so there would be no reason for Obama to say it in a conversation. Nor would it make sense for a character to make similar obvious statements in his/her dialogue.

But my favorite writing tip is to “Never have aliens land in Chapter 6.” Now, that’s not to say I have anything against creatures from outer space beaming down into literature. It just means, if you’re writing a book about aliens, make it a book about aliens. The reader should know that from the beginning.

You can’t pen five chapters of a plucky every-woman romance set in New York City and then suddenly find out the boyfriend is an alien halfway through. That’s just weird, and not in a good way.

So that’s why when I saw the new Nicholas Cage movie, “Knowing,” I was laughing hysterically at the end to the point tears were streaming down my face. And it’s not a comedy.

So rarely do you get to see such a ludicrous “Aliens landing in Chapter 6” scenario.

I’m telling you, the ending was out there, completely disconnected from the movie, which for about an hour and a half was rather okay. It had this “The Ring” meets “The Da Vinci Code” feel with wicked special effects (like a plane crash scene that was way graphic). Then, wow did it get wacky.

I don’t want to spoil it for you (though you should really wait until it hits FX on basic cable to watch it). But the final image of the movie was so cheesy that after ten minutes of trying to stifle a laugh in a manner similar to trying not to laugh in church, I busted up so hard that people around me started laughing.

Seriously, it was one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time. Those “Scary Movie” people should send the creators a gift basket for doing their work for them.


So, yes, I am one of those people who bought the Twilight DVD the weekend it came out (actually, my husband bought it for me because he’s awesome). And of course I watched the bonus features. Have you seen the footage of ComicCon? It scared the crap out of me. Now I kinda get why Kristin Steward called the fans “psychotic”. Not that they’re actually crazy, but if you listen to the decibel level of 5,000 screaming fans who squeal after every sentence the actors say, it would freak you out too. I’ll have to remember not to scream if I ever run into one of the actors.

Friday, March 20, 2009

“Adios to All The Drama” Contest, Plus A GCC Interview with Jennifer Echols

Just as the buds are hitting the trees and the pollen is stuffing up our noses, I’m springing forward (okay, bad pun) with a new Adios to All The Drama contest! Right now, I’m giving away one free copy of Adios as part of my Ten Days with Diana Rodriguez Wallach Tour on Bronze World’s blog. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on one of my Bronze World interviews. A winner will be selected, via random drawing, next Friday. Good luck and happy reading!

And now, please welcome fellow GCC author Jennifer Echols to the blog! Jennifer is the author of the Simon Pulse comedies The Boys Next Door, Major Crush, and The Ex Games and is celebrating the recent release of her new book, GOING TOO FAR through MTV Books.

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

How far would you go? All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far…and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge—and over…

Here’s what Jennifer had to say:

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

Jennifer: I am an excellent secret keeper, but it doesn’t do me any good, because I’m always the last to know.

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

Jennifer: My favorite place in the world is Key West—no wonder my heroine Meg is dying to go there! While there I have seen something amazing: a perfectly calm ocean. You can hardly tell where the blue sky ends and the blue-green sea begins.

I absolutely love Key West. It’s one of my most favorite vacations ever. Sloppy Joe’s and Hemingway’s house, what more do you need?

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?

Jennifer: I have never visited a psychic, but I would love to. Whether it was good or bad, that experience would HAVE to come out in a novel sooner or later!

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

I am descended from the Howard family in England, who owned Howard Castle, where Brideshead Revisited was filmed http://www.miramax.com/brideshead-revisited.html). Katherine Howard was the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Clearly I am not directly descended from her, since she bore him no children and he had her beheaded. :(

Wow, your ancestor got the guillotine! That’s pretty cool (not for her, obviously).

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

Jennifer: In July 2007, I attended a writers’ conference in Dallas. Here’s me at the ceremony where my first novel, MAJOR CRUSH, was awarded the National Readers Choice Award. Around the same time, the sale of GOING TOO FAR was announced! It was a very good day.
Check out the photo of the exact moment:

Thank you, Amanda! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sure, College Kids Are Apathetic Because They Read ‘Twilight.’ Really?!

I know a lot of authors get fired up about the book sections in newspapers being racist, sexist, ageist, whatever. And while many of their arguments are valid, I’ve never felt compelled to join the blogging masses and toss my complaints into the fire. Until now.

The Washington Post ran an article recently criticizing young adults for making Twilight the number one book on college campuses, and somehow suggesting that this choice in “dim” literature suggests a lack of interest in politics and the world around them. Seriously. Read it for yourself.

Now, I have many qualms with this thesis. I know The Washington Post caters to an older audience, but the entire article comes across as elitist and blatantly out of touch with the collegiate culture that they’re criticizing. Maybe students aren’t speaking out by staging sit-ins and chaining themselves to trees, but they did speak out when it mattered—at the polls.

According to news reports, an estimated 23 million young Americans under the age of 30 voted in 2008's presidential election. Obama got 65 percent of the total youth vote, and the average age of a campaign volunteer was 23.

Since when does that equate to apathy?

Yet The Washington Post quotes Nicholas DiSabatino, a senior English major at Kent State and a campus tour guide, as saying, “he used to point out where the National Guard shot students during the May 1970 riot. But the only activism he can recall lately involved anti-abortion protesters and some old men passing out Gideon Bibles.”

The Post also cites Professor Eric Williamson, an English teacher at the University of Texas-Pan American, as saying that "the entire culture has become narcotized.” Adding that, “he places the blame for students' dim reading squarely on the unfettered expansion of capitalism… ‘There is nary a student in the classroom -- and this goes for English majors, too -- who wouldn't pronounce Stephen King a better author than Donald Barthelme or William Vollmann. The students do not have any shame about reading inferior texts.’”

Oh, so now readers are supposed to feel shame every time they pick up a book that isn’t deemed “important” by book critics or English lit professors. God forbid, anyone actually read for enjoyment. Because let’s not forget that Twilight isn’t only the most popular book on college campuses but in America. So does that mean adults are politically disinterested and “narcotized” as well?

I simply reject the implication that reading popular fiction, or “inferior texts” as The Post says, makes a person dim witted or less-than. Can’t a reader enjoy Twilight and Jane Eyre, Carrie and War and Peace? Since when does it have to be either-or?

Literature, film, music, what have you, is subjective. We’ve all seen it on rejection letters. And it’s true. I hated Napolean Dynamite. There I said it. Everyone I know loved that movie. I didn’t get it. I also hate Moby Dick and the Dave Mathews Band and the opera. But clearly there are millions of people who disagree with me—college students among them.

So you can say a lot of things about today’s young people, but after those 2008 elections, I think they earned the right to no longer be labeled with the moniker “apathetic.” Because many of those students are sitting on the quads of their college campuses blogging about AIG’s spending habits while listening to Beyonce on their iPods and purchasing new e-books for their Kindles.

It’s like Mike Connery said (whose quote was buried at the end of the article). Mike writes about progressive youth politics for the Web site Future Majority, and he stated that “he doesn't see a generation of vampire-loving boneheads. ‘Young people today express their politics in very different ways than they did in the '60s, '70s and '80s’… Yes, they love Meyer's Twilight series -- even his fiancee is "obsessed" with it -- but that's just for escape. ‘People don't necessarily read their politics nowadays. They get it through YouTube and blogs and social networks.’”

Kudos, Mike! Maybe if The Post spent more time trying to understand how the youth of today actually express their political opinions instead of criticizing them for not expressing them the way they used back when Coca Cola was only a nickel, they wouldn’t be struggling for readers the way they have been. Just a thought.


I love a show about a writer, so you know I was going to tune into this new ABC mystery drama. And I gotta say, it’s far-fetched but I kinda like it—especially the poker game in the pilot where mystery goliaths James Patterson and Stephen J. Cannell got to make cameos. My only complaint was the opening book signing where the author was being asked to sign women’s breasts. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to my share of book signings and I can’t say I ever see that happening. Like, ever. Really.

Friday, March 13, 2009

GCC Interview: Amanada Ashby Is One Awesome “Zombie Queen”

Don’t look now, but I think zombies are about to invade the literary world. Forget vampires. Zombies are the new black. And amazing GCC author Amanda Ashby is making a zombie prom sound like a whole lot of fun—even if a few characters may get eaten in the process.

This is why I’m thrilled to showcase Amanda’s latest book ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH, which just debuted through Penguin Speak.

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

Love spells gone wrong, boyfriend-stealing cheerleaders, and Zombies who want to eat you for dinner. In ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH by Amanda Ashby, love has never tasted—or rather felt—so good. Tomorrow is prom, and all Mia wants to do is cast a love spell on her date Rob Ziggerman to keep him away from cheerleading goddess Samantha and save him all to herself. But somehow she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class instead. At first Mia loves all the attention her classmates are giving her; treating her like a queen, compliments galore, and all the chocolate a girl could want. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up. Why? Because in twenty-four hours, Mia will be the first course in their new diet.

That’s what being the ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH means. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, especially when the alternative means that her classmates and teachers will be feasting on her bones. But in the meantime, she’s suggests that no one wear white to tomorrow night’s prom, because she has a feeling that things could get very messy.

Here’s what Amanda had to say:

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

Amanda: I’m the worst secret keeper in the whole entire world. Just ask my husband since I can’t even keep his birthday presents a secret. I don’t know why but I’ve always been a full-disclosure sort of person. It’s definitely not always a good thing!

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

Amanda: I’m originally from Australia but lived in England for quite awhile before eventually moving to New Zealand. However, despite having been to a lot of places I’m not really much of a tourist – especially when it comes to places like art galleries, but when I was in Paris I loved the Louvre so much that I went there two days in a row and I still didn’t see everything. It truly was an amazing place.

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?

Amanda: I’ve always been incredibly interested in psychics; however, before I sold a book I was always too scared to go to one in case they told me that I might never succeed in my dream (did I mention that I’m also a firm believer in denial??). However, despite never having gone to one I have read loads of books on how it all works and also how to increase your own psychic abilities (right now, I’m working on my mind control so that I can make people buy my book. I think I need to fine tune it a bit better though!).

LOL! I think all us authors could use that type of mind control.

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

Amanda: My parents were both from New Zealand but moved to Australia before I was born, and even though they both loved Australia I never did. In fact, I hated it and couldn’t wait to leave. Then when I was in my mid-twenties I visited all my relatives in New Zealand. I immediately fell in love with the place and felt more at home than I’d ever done in Australia. It was a weird and unexplainable feeling. My husband and I lived in the south island for six years and even though the cold weather eventually drove us out, we have still ended up in another part of New Zealand, and I definitely feel like I’m a Kiwi not an Australian.

I would love to visit both Australia and New Zealand one day. Definitely on my ‘must see before I die’ list. Sounds like a great place to live!

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

Amanda: I was living in England at the time and with the time difference between the UK and New York I think I got the news from my agent at about 10 at night. It was actually just an email and it was pretty matter of fact. She forwarded on the publisher’s offer to me, and I just stared at it blankly for a long time before the screaming kicked in. Then I rang my cps and there was some more screaming while my poor husband desperately tried to get a glass of champagne into my hands. It was definitely one of the most surreal moments of my life!

Thank you, Amanda! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Bad Economy Has Officially Hit Philly…Unless You’re a Tattoo Artist On South Street

Interestingly enough, Philadelphia hasn’t been all that slammed with the housing crisis plaguing the rest of the nation. Trust me, I would know. I wander through open houses on Sundays like other people wander through the mall. Recently, my husband and I have actually been looking to move. But we’ve been known to walk into any house with a bunch of balloons just for kicks.

And since we live in a city that was built 200-plus years ago, new home construction is a rarity. If you find one, you actually get a 10-year free tax abatement for buying it (yup, that means you pay NO property taxes for 10 years just because you bought a new home. Strange, huh?). So with the lack of new McMansions, we’ve also got a lack of foreclosures.

But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to economical woes. No my friends, we’ve been hit. Hard. Cosi has closed. So has our gourmet grocery. And the three-story Kildare’s Irish Pub. Where are we supposed to go now for our $6 Guinness pints, our $4 espressos, and our $6.99/lb organic grapes (not kidding about that price).

You mean I’m expected to visit one of the seven other Irish pubs within a three-block radius of my house. Are you serious? How can our community not be able to sustain all eight? (Or course, Kildare’s has already been converted into another bar that looks exactly the same, but still. It’s not Irish).

Are you saying that a Starbucks and a Cosi can’t peacefully coexist within two blocks of each other? What about the other four coffee shops—you know the Turkish one, the loungy one, the one with hookah pipes that’s always empty, and the one in Fabric Row? It’s blatant sacrilege. Surely my neighbors and I downed enough coffee and salads to sustain them all. I know I did my part. But I guess I’ll have to buy my Chicken TBMs someplace else.

And now Chef’s Market? So their produce prices made me contemplate growing a vegetable garden in my flower boxes, but at least they gave me an alternative to Superfresh. When you needed a loaf a challah, they were there. When you suddenly decided to make Italian for dinner—who had your back with both hot and sweet sausage (which they’d gladly take out of the casing). Now I do still have an organic (read: even more expensive) grocery a few blocks away, but they’re all “green,” and tofu, and miso-like. There’s no meat counter.

The neighborhood is changing, folks.

Of course that doesn’t mean Philadelphians are staying home and refusing to spend money on non-essential items. Oh, no. You see, I also live in the land of tattoos. Within a four block radius of my house you could be inked or pierced at a number of lovely establishments (you could also buy crotchless underwear and a studded dog collar). This would explain why over 1,000 fans turned out on Saturday to see Kat Van D of Miami Ink sign copies of her latest book at the Borders on Broad St.

I think my husband and I were the only two people there who had no idea why the place was surrounding by teens with Manic Panic hair carrying cameras and clutching a coffee-table book. It took me awhile to even realize who she was, but man did she bring in the crowds. Props to her. Autograph seekers were being called to her table by letter: “Everyone with the letter ‘J,’ can now get in line. Now serving the letter J.” That same intercom man also reported that it was the store’s biggest signing in history.

So there you have it, America. The ultimate recession-proof business is apparently the life of a celebrity tattoo artist. So sign the kiddies up for art classes now. It could be the start to a lucrative new career.


I read for my first Jodi Picoult novel last week, The Pact. I really liked it. She’s definitely a page-turning storyteller, though it took me awhile to get used to the point of view switching every two pages. My one complaint? Clichés. She must have used the phrase “turn on his heel” at least four times. I know I’m guilty of them too. But for some reason that phrase was a road block every time I hit it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Dream of Doing Nothing: My Mental Vacation

So I’m back from my weeklong break from reality—and no, I don’t mean that in the padded cell kind of way. It was merely my gift to myself for working like a crazy person to complete the latest draft of my new novel—a five (business) day mental vacation. Think of it as my Office Space “dream of doing nothing.”

Office Space:
PETER GIBBONS: What would you do if you had a million dollars? …I would relax. I would sit on my ass all day. I would do nothing.
LAWRENCE: Well, you don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin: he's broke, don't do shit.

God, I love that movie. One of the cinematic triumphs of our time. And in honor of it, I’d thought I’d share with you…

Ten Things I Did On My Mental Vacation:

1. Sleep.
I didn’t get up until I felt like it. Once my cat had to get in bed to nudge me.

2. Started reading my first Jodi Picoult novel. Picture me, a blanket, a glass of wine, snow outside the window and a book. Just because of that setting alone, I don’t think it’s fair of me to compare this novel to others I read while eating a bagel and thinking about work.

3. Starbucks. I got gift card for my birthday, so I gorged on nonfat Caramel Macchiatos and Skinny Vanilla Lattes. Yum.

4. Looked at houses on realtor.com. You can’t spend that much idol time in your house without wishing you had a bigger one. Only when you live in the land of our forefathers, it’s hard to find a home under 100 years old. I’m just thrilled if the kitchen isn’t in the basement (like mine is now—seriously).

5. Went to the gym.
I decided to give my fingers a rest from typing because it got to the point that I was writing so much, I’d wake up at night with hand cramps. So I hit the gym to focus on my legs and the elliptical machine. The result? I pulled a muscle in my foot. Great.

6. Watched “Changling” on OnDemand. Now, personally, I’m team Jen. But putting that aside, I thought this movie was very Law & Order like—in a good way.

7. Answered emails. If you sent me something during my “I’m writing and only responding to emergency emails” phase, you should have finally gotten a response last week. Sorry.

8. Watched a lot of HGTV. This corresponds with the aforementioned house hunting. I think I might kidnap Candice Olson to design my next place.

9. Spoke at my niece’s Catholic school. I know this isn’t vacation-related. But I had this event scheduled before I knew when my novel would be complete. So last Thursday I spoke to two classes of third graders. They were very cute, though I had to get used to constant flow of questions.

For example:
Me: “My name is Diana Rodriguez Wallach.”
First raised hand: “My mom’s name is Diana.”
Me: “I went to college at Boston University.”
Next hand: “Do you like the Red Sox?”
Me: “I write young adult novels for teenagers.”
Next hand: “Do you have any pets?”

You get my drift.

10. Went to the Philadelphia Flower Show. We got ten inches of snow on Monday, so my hubby took a snow day and we went to PA Convention Center to soak in some tullips. This year’s theme was Italy, and one display actually had a real gondola. Bellissima!

So now I’m back to reality: blogging, writing, stressing. The same-old, same-old. At least until my next vacation. Thanks Uncle Sam for that upcoming tax refund! I can’t wait to spend it on an island in the Caribbean. Ah, palm trees…


Jon Stewart’s been dogging on Twitter lately. And while I too think it’s nuts that politicians were sending Tweets during the State of the Union. I also think it dates Mr. Stewart to have no idea what the technology is about. Isn’t his target audience college students? Because I’m guessing they all have twitter accounts. Come on, Jon, get with it! Send out some Tweets, and let us know what you’re doing “right now.” I promise I’ll “follow” you.

Copyright © 2008 Diana Rodriguez Wallach, All Rights Reserved