Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Puppy Power! AND, GCC~Lauren Barnholdt!

Please forgive the absence! I have been puppified. Take a look at the photos of the new member of the family, Shana the German Shorthair Pointer-Australian Shepherd-Labrador Retriever Mix.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We got Shana from a puppy rescue shelter near Sacramento. If anyone in the area is interested in adopting a puppy, shoot me an email. They have a ton of puppies there eager for good homes. :o)

Shana's fun, but a real handful! They aren't kidding when they say a puppy is like adding a new baby to your home. However, having had twins... one new puppy seems fairly easy to me!

And onto the Amazing Lauren Barnholdt! Lauren's amazing for all kinds of reasons, but one of the most amazing things I found out about her is she got her first novel published at age TWENTY-SIX. At age twenty-six, I was changing stinky diapers every other moment, pushing a double stroller around, and deflecting continual TWIN QUESTIONS. (See bottom of this entry for details!) At the time I didn't think I would ever write again... and I didn't much care!

Lauren also sold her book on a PARTIAL. Do you know how rare that is for a new author? I only know of one other debut author who's ever done that... and I know a bunch of authors. Kudos to Lauren for following her publishing dream!


Lauren Barnholdt is a twenty-six-old writer who was born and raised in Syracuse, NY. Her articles and short stories have appeared in Elements magazine, Girls Life, and on mensclick.com. Lauren is currently under contract with Simon Pulse for her young adult novels, having set an unprecedented sale when she was signed for her first two book deal on just three chapters and a synopsis. Her first book for young adults, REALITY CHICK, will be released on June 27, 2006. Lauren currently teaches a popular online course called How to Write and Sell the YA Chick-lit Novel. She is also co-author of the book HOW TO WRITE AND SELL THE YA NOVEL, which will be released by Writer's Digest Books in December of 2006. Lauren now resides in Central Connecticut, and when she's not writing, she spends most of her time reading and watching lots and lots of reality TV.


All hour study fests.....all-night parties....

Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless of course your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world to watch. On uncensored cable.

Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking up on In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As if school isn't panic-inducing enough!) The cameras stalk her like paparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, old crushes, and learning to live on your own. Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares? Ally's got bigger issues -- like how her long-distance bf can watch her loopy late-night "episode" with a certain housemate...

Freshman year on film.

It's outrageous.

It's juicy.

And like all good reality TV, it's impossible to turn off.

"I could not put this book down -- it was hilarious! Barnholdt is a fresh new voice in teen fiction."

-- Sarah Mlynowski, author of Milkrun and As Seen on TV


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

I tried out for THE REAL WORLD once. I didn't make it, and all my friends were like, "It's because you're too normal!" And I was like, "That's exactly why they should pick me!" I thought it would be cool to see how a "normal" person does on one of those shows. So I decided to write a book about it. (A lot of the stuff that happens during Ally's audition in REALITY CHICK actually happened at my REAL WORLD audition. But I won't tell you exactly what, haha.)

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Don't give up! If you want it bad enough, you'll get there. The trick really is to keep writing.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

I tend to do better if I get an early start, so lately I've been trying to get up on the early side. I usually write with Diet Coke with Lime, or chocolate coffee. Caffeine keeps me inspired ;) Also, sometimes I let myself watch one episode of Sex and the City or some other show on DVD after I write a certain number of words.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?

The most exciting thing is definitely getting to see my book on the shelves! It's the most surreal feeling, this thing that was just a bunch of pages and words on a computer getting turned into a book and sent into the world. The most frustrating has been learning that you can't control every single thing about the process.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not,what else is in the works?

I'm not sure! I think it would be fun to write about what happens to Ally once the show is over. But we'll see. In the meantime, my first novel for tweens, DEVON DELANEY’S SECRET IDENTITY, will be out in May of 2007. It’s about a thirteen-year-old girl who goes away for the summer and lies to the local girls about how popular she is. She then has to scramble to recreate her “secret identity” when one of the girls shows up at her school. My second YA novel, ROAD TRIP, will be out next summer, and it’s about a girl who gets stuck driving cross country to college with the boy who just broke up with her.

Thanks so much, Lauren! Please buy her book at your local indy bookseller, or if you MUST betray your local business and the heart of bookselling in America, then try Amazon or Barnes and Noble. ***GGG*** I forgot to ask who Shana's pick to win Hell's Kitchen is... mine's Heather!

By the way, Lauren also teaches an online class on writing for teens. Check it out!

*As promised, here are a few of the twin-related q&a's I received at the time, and comebacks of the type you only think of a few days later... (thanks to the Cordes family for the reminders)

Are they Twins? (while looking at the babies)

  • No, they were just born at the same time.
  • No, they're monkeys.
  • One is a twin, and one isn't.
  • Yes they are.
    • "Oh, I didn't realize we had twins in the area." (A proposed California Law will require the parents of twins to put a 4 ft. high by 6 ft. wide sign in the front yard, warning the neighbors of the presence of twins in the area.)
    • How many are there? (My husband and I are each holding a baby)
    • They can't be twins, they aren't dressed alike.
    • Oh, how lucky and blessed you are!
      • Yes, I am really lucky.
        Response: I hope I don't get lucky and blessed!

Twins? What are they?

  • Human.
  • Babies.
  • $5100 in tax deductions.

Are they identical?

    If fraternal Boy/Girl...
  • Yes. (followed by rolling your eyes and walking away)
  • Yes, until we change their diapers.
  • They used to be, but they're getting over it.
  • Not below the waist!
  • No, but they have identical parents.

Are they Siamese?

  • No, we left the cats at home.
  • ???
Can you tell them apart?
  • No.
  • Sure, the girl is an inch longer than the boy.

How do you tell them apart?

  • We used to paint thier names on the bottom of their feet. But since that kept wearing off, we weighed them and found out that the boy is a pound heavier than the girl.
  • We call the Psychic HotLine and they can tell us.
  • Parents can always tell. At least that's what we delude ourselves into believing.
  • We're not sure yet.
  • They LOOK different!
  • It's easy, they have different names.
  • I don't know who is who, but I love them the same.

How do you KNOW they are twins?

  • I gave birth to them.
  • They aren't twins. They were born 3 months apart (its a scientific miracle)
  • No, they are not twins. One was born by my wife. The other by my girlfriend. Go figure - everyone gets along so well.

"You really have a great figure for triplets.

  • What's that supposed to mean? Is it good, period, or is it only acceptable when considering the fact that I gave birth to "triplets"? (Where'd the other baby go?)

How were your babies conceived?

  • Sex. Lots and Lots of Sex.
  • How did you conceive yours?
  • it was buy one, get one free day
  • I ate a lot of broccoli.
  • (look both ways, lean forward, and whisper in their ear) "Turkey Baster"

Did you have help conceiving them?

  • Yes, God.
  • no, my hubby just threw his pants on the bed....
  • Yes, but we promised them that we would keep their names out of the paper.

I heard you are having twins. I don't know whether to offer my congratulations or my condolences.

  • Congratulations would be prefered.
  • Congratulations for the twins, and condolences for the loss of your common sense.

Wow, Double Trouble (while first noticing the twins)

  • Nope, Double the smiles, hugs, laughs, and joy.
  • They are Angels. Why were your children trouble?
  • Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun, with the Doublemint Twins.

I don't know how you manage

  • Like we have a choice?
  • We manage just fine.
  • I don't know how you can call yourself a real parent, raising only one at a time.
  • We're not wimps, like all those parents of singles.

Do twins run in your family?

  • They are only 20 weeks old, they can't even sit up yet.
  • They do now!
  • Yes, they run up the stairs and down the halls!
  • First time blessing.
  • These two do!

You must have had those two very close together

  • Yes, try two minutes.

Were you taking fertility drugs?

  • If you'll forgive me for not answering, I'll forgive you for asking.

Boy, I'm glad that happened to you and not me.

  • We're glad it happened to us, and not you, also.

Twins! You sure must have your hands full!

  • Yes, we sure do, but better full than empty.
  • Yes, but not as full as our hearts.

Then there's the ones you never hear enough of...

  • How nice you were Double Blessed.
  • How precious, you must be very happy.
  • What a lovely family, you must be very pleased.
  • What Beautiful Babies, I'm so jealous...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Read Between...

Hi, blogland! Today I have the pleasure of introducing one of my favorite contemporary Southern novelists, Joshilyn Jackson. Joshilyn's first book, gods in Alabama, came out to rave reviews and achieved the #1 BookSense pick for the month it came out. In an amazing move, the BookSense gods again smiled on Joshilyn and her new book, Between, Georgia, is also a #1 BookSense pick! Here's a bit more about Joss and her work.


Joshilyn Jackson was born in the Deep South and raised by a tribe of wild fundamentalists who taught her to be virtuous and upright. Unfortunately, it didn't take, and Ms. Jackson dropped out of college to pursue a career as an actor. She worked in regional repertoire and traveled the southern third of the country with a dinner theatre troupe, but after a few years she realized that she preferred writing plays to acting in them.

She decided both virtue and an education were worth the work, so she went back to college to study English literature, focusing on Modern and Medieval Theater. She graduated with honors from Georgia State. She moved to Chicago and managed to recover from a near-terminal case of culture shock just in time to earn her MA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ms. Jackson taught English at UIC, trying to explain the function of the gerund and why Moby Dick is a great book to crowds of hung-over 18 year olds. In her first year of teaching, she won the Student's Choice Award for Best English Instructor.

After graduate school she ran for warmer climes, returning to her hometown and marrying the boy next door. She currently lives just outside of Atlanta with her husband, their two children, and a twenty-three-pound, one-eyed Maine Coon cat named Franz Schubert.

Her short fiction has been published in literary magazines including TriQuarterly and Calyx, and her plays have been produced in Atlanta and Chicago. Her first novel, gods in Alabama, was a bestseller and a number one BookSense pick. Her second novel, Between, Georgia, is the #1 BookSense pick for July and has already garnered starred reviews in both Kirkus and Booklist.

She is currently at work on her next novel, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, the story of a good mother who is visited by a drowned girl's ghost.


gods in Alabama NOW IN PAPERBACK!
When Arlene Fleet headed off to college in Chicago, she made three promises to God: She would never again lie, she would stop fornicating with every boy who crossed her path, and she'd never, ever go back to her tiny hometown of Possett, Alabama (the "fourth rack of Hell"). All God had to do in exchange was to make sure the body of high school quarterback Jim Beverly was never found.

Ten years later, Arlene has kept her promises, but an old school-mate has recently turned up asking questions. And now Arlene's African American beau has given her a tough ultimatum: introduce him to her family, or he's gone. As she prepares to confront guilt, discrimination, and a decade of deception, Arlene is about to discover just how far she will go to find redemption - and love.

Between, Georgia #1 BookSense Pick!
There's always been bad blood between the Fretts and the Crabtrees. After all, the Fretts practically own the tiny town of Between, Georgia, while the Crabtrees only rent space in its jail cells.

Stacia Frett is a deaf artist with a genetic condition that is causing her to slowly go blind. She's lost the love of her life, and when her vision goes, she'll lose her career as well. She's asking God why He keeps her breathing in and out, until the night fifteen year old Hazel Crabtree shows up on her doorstep brandishing a stomach swollen with a pregnancy she'd hidden for nine months. Stacia thinks Hazel's unwanted baby might be God's answer, and so the Fretts decide to steal it...

Thirty years later, Nonny Frett is a successful interpreter living in Athens, Georgia. She understands the meanings of "rock" and "hard place" better than any woman ever born. She's got two mothers, "one deaf-blind and the other four baby steps from flat crazy." She's got two men; Her husband is easing out the back door and her best friend is laying siege to her heart in her front yard. She has a job that holds her in the city, and she's addicted to a little girl who's stuck deep in the country. And she has two families; The Fretts, who stole her and raised her right, and the Crabtrees, who lost her and can't forget that they've been done wrong.

In Between, Georgia, population 90, the feud that began before Nonny was born is escalating, and a random act of violence will set the torch to a thirty-year old stash of highly flammable secrets. This might be just what the town needs, if only Nonny wasn't sitting in the middle of it...

(for Joss's new book... read praise for gods HERE)

In her accomplished second novel, Jackson sweeps the reader away to a place where gravel crunches underfoot and the smell of corn bread wafts in the air. Between, a tiny dot on the Georgia state map, is oversized when it comes to personalities. The plot is precise and sweet, and Jackson includes the perfect ingredients: quirky characters, a picturesque setting and ample surprises. Evocative and lovingly crafted.
- Kirkus *starred review*

After a great debut with Gods in Alabama, Jackson's follow-up poses the same dilemma for readers: you can't wait to finish it but don't want it to end... Jackson's got a winner.
- Library Journal

"Between, Georgia is a raucous novel, populated by wild characters, tenderly drawn. Joshilyn Jackson proves to be a wiley guide who writes with wit and warmth about the complex nature of family, while handing down a beautiful and fierce new definition of motherhood."
- Julianna Baggott, author of the national bestseller Girl Talk and, with Steve Almond, Which Brings Me To You

Jackson returns with a second quirky and touching novel about the South. Jackson has been compared to Fannie Flagg, and rightfully so; her characters are vivid and lovable, put in situations that are so hard to explain that it's just easier to pass the book lovingly along to a friend...A climactic ending with perfect story resolution makes this book tidy and uplifting, and even the most cynical reader will surely smile as the back cover closes.
- Booklist *starred review*

"What a charming, magical book, filled with everyday marvels! Jackson's inventiveness and attention to detail are dazzling, and her characters so quirky and true.
- Diane Thomas, author of The Year the Music Changed

"Funny, wrenching, and pitch-perfect, Joshilyn Jackson's Between, Georgia explores the ways people belong to each other and how far they'll go to keep what's theirs. I'll carry Nonny and her family-the whole tangled, fierce, devoted lot of them-around with me for a long, long time."
- Marisa de los Santos, author of Love Walked In


Q. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

A: As a freshman in college, I did a lot of driving back and forth across Georgia between Athens and Atlanta. I went down highway 78. I was a freshman at UGA and I was majoring in Beer with a minor in Dating, and I spent most of my time in Atlanta…I had friends there, and whenever I had a break, like, say, when my classes were meeting, I would go. 78 takes you right by the exit for Between, Georgia. There was a sign there that said something like “EXIT HERE TO SEE BETWEEN, GEORGIA, POPULATION 92” or somesuch. I never got off the highway and went to look at the place, but I have been imagining it ever since, mapping it’s streets, giving it a small, closed economy, and populating it with made up families. It took me until now, 20 years later, to find the story that had to be told in that town---a town with no identity, named not for what it is, but for what it is next to…

My main character, Nonny Jane, is by birth one of those trashy Crabtrees, but she is stolen and raised by the upright and respectable Fretts. The town itself is almost a character, and I love how Nonny’s circumstances gave me so much room to ask questions about identity---nature v/s nurture, and how our choices make us into who we are

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
A: Read everything you write out loud, multiple times. It will make you better.

Q: What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?
A:HAHAHHAHAHHAHA! Asking ME about how to get organized is like asking a monk how to truly pleasure a woman. Do you have tips for me? I would love to be able to FIND MY KEYS every now and again. I think I simply LOVE writing, love it, and so I always somehow find time for it. I MAKE time for it, the way some people make time to watch Survivor. If it’s your favorite thing…it gets done. If it isn’t, then I say go find the thing that IS, and do that. Life’s to short to waste your precious free moments on something that doesn’t make your little red boat bob up and down all happy in the water.

Q. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?
A:The best thing, bar none, is having my work out there. I love talking to readers, visiting book clubs. Once a book is published it belongs to its readers, not to its author. A book becomes a conversation between itself and its reader,and I have no place in it. Readers bring there own history and belief system to the experience of reading, and so no one reads the exact book I wrote. It’s a neat thing to witness and talk about with folks.

The worst thing, bar none, is having my work OUT there. It’s a strange and vulnerable feeling, and some days, when I get a letter from someone who doesn’t get or doesn’t like what I am doing, and who have to take it out on me, personally…yikes. Or when people make big assumptions about me based on the characters in the books---that’s uncomfortable, because I truly do write fiction.

Q: Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?
A: No. I am done with these people and this town…Of course, I said that about gods in Alabama, too, and now I am THINKING I might write about what happened to Rose Mae Lolley from that book. Or rather, what things Rose Mae CAUSED to happen. Not a passive girl, that Rose.

But right now, I am writing a book called The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. It’s about a woman named LeeAnne who is visited by a drowned girl’s ghost. She becomes obsessed with finding out how the girl died. She’s very intuitive – a high E.Q, and she’s married to a man who is all I.Q. I love how they react to each other. And then, very much against his wishes, LeeAnne and her crazy, theatre-owning, amoral sister begin an investigation in the present that reveals and illuminates their shared past. It’s my brand of humor and violence colored by my pervading interest in how grace works, how love works, and how we find redemption…and it draws on a LOT of my experiences working in small theatre—black boxes, traveling dinner theatre, and regional rep. I’m excited about it.

Thank you so much, Joshilyn! You can buy Joss's books at any good bookstore, or via the Internet at Amazon (gods, Between) OR Barnes and Noble (gods, Between). My personal favorite idea is this: Joshilyn's local indy bookseller will get you your own SIGNED COPY of either book--or BOTH!--if you click here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Which Muppet Are You?

Pretty accurate. As those who know me all too well will attest.

You Are Animal

A complete lunatic, you're operating on 100% animal instincts.
You thrive on uncontrolled energy, and you're downright scary.
But you sure can beat a good drum.
"Kill! Kill!"

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dogs4Diabetics and Killer Highlights

I can't believe it, but the house is empty. We sent Thing Two off to diabetes camp yesterday, and Thing One went to Girl Scout camp today. Wow! I keep feeling like I should be somewhere... but I HAVE NOWHERE TO BE! I AM BEHOLDEN TO NO ONE! WHEEEEEE!


I read that the Dogs4Diabetics guy is going to be at diabetes camp with Armstrong, his famous diabetic alert dog. Do you know that dogs can be trained on diabetic alert? Here is a bit of Armstrong's amazing story (by my friend Zoe Francis).

"It was five years ago, when Ruefenacht was traveling in New York with a puppy in training, when he got the idea for Dogs for Diabetics. The typically calm puppy awoke Ruefenacht in the middle of the night with his relentless pawing and nudging.

"When a frustrated Ruefenacht finally got out of bed, he realized that his blood sugar was dangerously low. The puppy had alerted his handler to what could have been a deadly situation.

"What started as the seed of an idea expanded as Ruefenacht methodically studied what had caused the dog to pick up on the handler's low blood sugar. After years of research, Ruefenacht trained another dog — a yellow Labrador retriever named Armstrong — to be his medical alert dog.

"Dogs are trained to detect the ever-so-subtle scent of low blood sugar by sniffing sweat and breath samples taken from people experiencing low blood sugar. "

I want a diabetic alert dog, I do I do I do! The waiting list must be years long, though... but I am PASSIONATE about the idea.

And... SEGUE!

I had the opportunity to interview fellow author Kyra Davis recently. Kyra is the author of the brand new PASSION, BETRAYAL, AND KILLER HIGHLIGHTS, a Sophie Katz mystery.

Kyra's another Bay Area chick! Here's a little about her:


Novelist Kyra Davis has spent her life in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, where she currently lives with her young son. Now a full-time single parent and writer, Davis previously divided her time between a career in the fashion industry and various artistic endeavors such as acting, singing and dancing.

Sophie Katz has just offered a man $12,000 for his services…is she desperate of just meshugeneh?

Considering the kind of disasters that usually befall the half-black, half Jewish mystery writer, probably both. Because the last time Sophie saw sexy P.I. Anatoly Darinsky, he practically danced a jig when she waved goodbye-a normal reaction for a man who’d nearly bought the farm due to her misguided attempts at vigilante justice. What are the chances he’d agree to take incriminating pictures of her sister’s philandering husband? Or that he’d let her tag along-you know…for research?

But when her brother-in-law turns up dead and her sister becomes the prime suspect Sophie’s priority is finding the real killer. With or without Anatoly’s help. Her brother-in-law’s secret life yields plenty of suspects, but the San Francisco police aren’t taking any of them seriously. So Sophie does what comes naturally to her: she stirs up trouble (to lure the killer out, of course).

But if her crazy plan works will everybody survive the outcome?

In the rollicking follow-up to Sex, Murder And A Double Latte, Sophie hones her irreverent humor and sleuthing skills to a sharp edge. Fans of Stephanie Plum or Kinsey Millhone will no doubt love Sophie and find her snappy comebacks and quirky cohorts as addictive as good coffee and a sexy dye job (okay, let’s stick with the caffeine).

…a high-octane hookup

--Cosmopolitan (Cosmo’s choice for July’s Red Hot Read)

For Me Magazine’s suggested read

Ebony Magazine’s June “noted book”

Davis's San Francisco-based saga will appeal not only to female readers but to any mystery fan who has an offbeat sense of humor. Davis effortlessly explores serious social issues -- racial discrimination, sexism, adultery, multiculturalism, etc. -- while keeping the mood light and laugh-out-loud funny. Additionally, the cornucopia of subtle symbolism throughout…is priceless. To borrow a line from the book: "Fabulous, absolutely fabulous!"

--Barnes & Noble Ransom Notes Reviews

Following hard on the red spike heels of 2005's Sex, Murder and a Double Latte, Davis's second whodunit delivers on the promise of the first...A cast of charming caricatures…round out a version of San Francisco in which racial politics are fun to play with and sex is steamier than frothed milk.

--Publishers Weekly


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

When I was three quarters of the way through the rough draft of Sex, Murder And A Double Latte it occurred to me that the book could be the beginning of a series. Since I had spent most of the first novel exploring Sophie’s relations with her crazy friends I figured that it would be fun to use the next book (Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights) to explore her relations with her even crazier family. Having her sister’s husband threaten divorce (and then wind up dead) seemed like a natural segue for a comical women’s murder mystery.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I’ve lost track of how many people have told me that they have a great idea for a book yet haven’t managed to even compose the first paragraph. Sometimes these people claim that they’re waiting until they have more time to dedicate to the writing process but that excuse doesn’t really hold up. If you’re unpublished you’re not under deadline and if you wrote one page a day you would have a 365 page manuscript by the end of the year. I think these would-be authors’ real problem is that they are afraid. They look at a blank computer screen and worry that whatever they could fill it up with would be subpar and thus they don’t write anything at all.

My suggestion to these people is to relax and just write something. Anything will do. If it’s crap so what? It’s a rough draft, it’s supposed to be crap. Just give yourself something to work with because a manuscript that needs to be edited or even rewritten is a lot less intimidating than the manuscript you're afraid to start.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

I have no tips for getting organized but if anyone would like to share theirs with me I’m all ears.

I am a single mom of an extremely active six year old boy who I homeschool so I write whenever I have a spare moment and those moments usually present themselves after my child goes to sleep (around 9-9:30ish). However my mother and/or stepbrother do try to help me out with babysitting periodically and I always take advantage of any child free time they can give me. Also if Animal Planet has a Planet’s Funniest Animal’s marathon I send up a quick prayer of thanks, plop my son in front of the TV and pull out my laptop.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?

There have been so many exciting things about the publishing process. There was my first book deal, which was a pretty good one, the fabulous reviews in national and regional publications, seeing my book in one of the several languages it has been translated into and so on and so forth. Hell, I still get excited when I see my book on display in a bookstore! As for the most frustrating…for me it has been the fact that I’m so totally clueless about the business side of the publishing industry. As a general rule I like to feel like any decision I make in life is fully informed and not purely based on the recommendation of somebody else but when my agent, editor and/or publicist tells me that I should tour a certain city, package myself in a certain way or submit a proposal at a certain time I have to take it on faith that they’re right. I’m not entirely comfortable with taking things of faith.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?

I’m working on the 3rd Sophie Book (Obsession, Deceit And Really Dark Chocolate) now and it will be in stores in May 2007. In the interim another (non-Sophie) book titled So Much For My Happy Ending is being published in November of this year.

What do you think is the most common misconception people have concerning published authors?

There are a lot of people who assume that being reviewed in lots of glossy national magazines equates to an extremely large income. I actually had one friend tell me that now that I had been twice featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine it would just be a matter of time before I could put a down payment on a house in San Francisco’s prestigious Pacific Heights district. Cosmopolitan could feature my writing every month for a year and I still wouldn’t be able to afford a condo in Pacific Heights. I just feel fortunate that I’m able to make enough to pay the rent and buy groceries at Trader Joes. But that (as far as I’m concerned) is the definition of success anyway: being able to support myself doing something that I love. I’d rather be a happy writer and drive a 12-year-old Volvo than a miserable lawyer and drive a 1-year-old Porsche.

What do you want your readers to get from your writing?

Entertained. The Sophie books are a combination of comical woman’s fiction, suspenseful murder mystery and lightweight social commentary. I doubt that anyone is going to change their worldview after reading a book from that series. If that’s what a reader is looking for I suggest they pick up an Alice Walker or Amy Tan. But during those weeks or months when life just seems to be kicking their ass, when they feel like their world is coming apart at the seams and they are desperate for some kind of escape they can turn to Sophie and hopefully she’ll make them laugh. I think we could all use that kind of escape once in a while.

Are any of your characters based on you?

Everyone assumes that Sophie is me but that’s not true. Sophie is PART of me but so are her friends and all of her acquaintances. I’M the composite character, they’re the individuals. I often think about what my characters would think of this or that and there are times when I can actually hear them talking to me. I often think that being a professional novelist is kind of like being paid to cultivate mild schizophrenic tendencies.

Thanks for your words of wisdom, Kyra! You can buy Kyra's book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the bestest choice, your local independent bookseller.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Get That Box Outta My Way or I'll Kill You

With diabetes camp coming up I have determined it is finally time to do something about our son's basal insulin rates. I'm sure they need to be increased; we're seeing a ~50 point rise in blood sugars overnight, and highs throughout the day. Have you ever done a basal rate check on your insulin pump? I got this notion from a book called THINK LIKE A PANCREAS. If you haven't picked up this book and are dealing with Type 1 Diabetes... I highly recommend it. So much practical information!

A basal check is demanding, but from what I hear, SO WORTH IT. I hope you'll be thinking of us tonight as I test him at 11 PM, 1 AM, 3 AM, 5 AM, and 7 AM. He will be fasting from 7 PM - 7 AM. Once we get a good sense of overnight basals we can tweak the morning, afternoon, and evening basals similarly. Basically, you repeat the process, but start at different times. At least we'll have the overnight basals settled before he leaves for camp on Sunday. The rest can wait--he can bolus to correct if he's running high during the day. At night, not so much. The overnight basal check is murder though. And... SEGUE!

Today I had the privilege of interviewing author Sara Rosett, author of the new novel MOVING IS MURDER. (Great title--and I heartily agree!) MOVING IS MURDER is the first in a series of "mom lit" mysteries, published by Kensington.

Here's a little bit about Sara to get us started:

THE AUTHOR (in her own words)
I've always wanted to write novels. During elementary school I started dozens of novels, but never finished them. I loved beginnings and interesting settings, but I was a little short on plot! As a kid, I spent a lot of time trying to describe the world around me. Since I lived in the flat plains of Texas the clouds and sunsets became my first (and most frequent) writing exercises. I loved going to the library with my mom when I was a kid. We'd go almost every Saturday and I still remember walking to the children's mystery section and thinking, "Please let there be a Nancy Drew I haven't read." Obviously, this was in the days before the internet and on-line bookstores. I hadn't heard of Inter-library loan either. Once I transitioned to the adult section in the library, I couldn't quite find my niche. It certainly wasn't romance. I knew I'd never be able to write steamy love scenes and suspense didn't quite fit me either.

In college I majored in English and graduated summa cum laude. That's also were I met my husband, an Air Force pilot, and we've been on the move ever since. We've lived in central and southern California, Washington state, Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia. Hopscotching around the country gave me a checkered resume. I've been a credit processor, a staff reporter for two Air Force base newspapers, and a researcher/writer for a travel company. As we moved from one Air Force base to another, I'd hit the base library and local libraries, always searching for a good book. I discovered a new type of fiction was emerging, mysteries with female protagonists who lived in America and did everything from kick-butt PI work to catering. This was a type of fiction I could write. And it had a plot so I could finally get past my opening scenes! I'd found my niche, so after years of thinking and dreaming about writing a novel, I finally decided to give it a try. Moving is Murder is the result.


Air Force wife Ellie Avery is an ace at moving. A professional organizer, she plans ahead, packs efficiently, and even color-codes the boxes. But nothing in her bag of tricks could prepare her for the secrets that shadow her new neighborhood…secrets that drive one of her neighbors to murder.

Moving four times in five years has honed Ellie’s considerable skills. But moving with a newborn daughter and husband Mitch in tow, a record-breaking heat wave, and the realization that their dream neighborhood is known as Base Housing East is enough to make her turn to chocolate for comfort. Now half of their neighbors are with the 52nd Air Refueling Squadron. Forget privacy.

Forget peace of mind, too. Driving home from her first squadron barbecue, Ellie finds neighborhood environmental activist Cass Vincent dead on the side of the road. The police call it an accident—Cass, fatally allergic, was stung by wasps—but Ellie’s not so sure. And when it looks like Mitch’s best friend might be a suspect in the murder, Ellie starts snooping in earnest. What she finds shocks her—and when suspicious “accidents” start happening in her own backyard, Ellie realizes she’s getting closer to the killer…maybe too close!


Packed with helpful moving tips, Rosett's cute cozy debut introduces perky Ellie Avery…an appealing heroine, an intriguing insider peek into air force life.

—Publishers Weekly

A cozy debut that'll help you get organized and provide entertainment in your newfound spare time.

—Kirkus Reviews


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

I’d finally decided I was going to get serious and try to achieve a dream I’d had since I was a kid. I wanted to be a writer. I was a really good reader and I’d been doing some research on the publishing aspect of writing. I found out I had to have a hook, something that would interest agents and editors. Lots of books I loved had hooks: Diana Mott Davidson (cooking), Carolyn Hart (mystery bookseller) and Rett MacPherson (genealogy). I could go on here with authors all day, but I’ll stop at three. I thought about my life and tried to come up with a compelling hook. I found out I was a boring person. No rock climbing or knitting or even an interesting profession on my resume! Then one day friend asked me all sorts of questions about what it’s like to be a military wife. (Did I worry when my husband flew? How often did we move, etc.) I realized that I did have a new angle, a hook, for a mystery: the life of a military family. I love writing about the military lifestyle. I get to take the ridiculous things (arrows on the floor of the grocery store!!) and the great things (the friends you make in the military) and blend them into my stories.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Find out everything you can find about the publishing process and the craft of writing. Contests associated with writing conferences are a great way to get feedback on your writing. I entered several and the comments I got from published authors helped me revise my manuscript. I love writer’s conferences, too. Find a general writer’s conference in your area and go! You’ll get to meet editors and agents, practice your pitch, and learn about the business of writing. Conferences are also great for making connections with other writers.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

Funny you should ask for tips on getting organized. My main character, Ellie, is a military spouse and a professional organizer. Let me say right here that I’m not organized. I think writing about a professional organizer is a bit of wish fulfillment for me! I love to research the tips and talk to professional organizers, but I have to say, I probably won’t ever be super organized! My writing day is wedged into the rest of my life pretty much whenever I can work it in. During the school year, I get my kids off to school and then I do publicity in the morning. I take a break to go for a walk and do errands during lunch. In the afternoon, I write and revise. That is the plan, at least. During the summer, all schedules are off and anything goes!

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?

The most exciting thing to me is knowing my book will be in libraries. Libraries seem more permanent than bookstores. I love that my book is in bookstores, too. And I’m a very good bookstore customer, but I like knowing that a couple of years from now that my book will still be on library shelves where someone can discover it. That’s cool! The most frustrating: following up on press releases. I don’t like being persistent, but I do like it when I get an article in the paper.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?
Yes, MOVING IS MURDER is the first book in the Mom Zone Mystery series, so there will be at least two more adventures with Ellie. I’ve just turned in the second book, STAYING HOME IS A KILLER, and once the kids get back to school in the fall I’ll start the third book. I have some ideas for totally different books, but I have to get the third book going before I start on something new.

6. What research have you done for this book?

Well, since I am a military spouse I used my experiences as a kind of backdrop for the mystery. It’s actually been very therapeutic because dealing with the huge bureaucracy of the military can be so frustrating. Now when those crazy things happen, I know I can put them to good use in another Mom Zone mystery. For the professional organizing aspect, I did some internet research for a professional organizer in my area and then I called her up and asked for an interview. She was great. We met and she gave me the scoop on organizing and we even did a bookstore event together. I talked about my book and she gave organizational tips. I had to research the Office of Special Investigations, too. That’s the office that handles investigation of crimes that occur on Air Force bases. That was a little trickier. No one really wanted to talk to me there and I can’t say I blame them. I was an unpublished author asking about what happens when someone is murdered on-base. I’m probably lucky they didn’t investigate me, too! I finally found a retired OSI agent. I asked him my wuestions via email.

7. What’s your best moving tip?

Pack an “Open First Box.” This has saved my life several times! When I first became a military spouse I thought that if they loaded certain boxes on the truck last, those boxes would come off the truck first. Wrong! If your shipment has to go to storage then they take everything off and store it a couple of weeks (or months) and then reload it in random order. I finally realized if I put everything we’d need for the first couple of days into one box and label it, “Open First,” it would be easy to find it no matter where it was loaded it. Our “Open First” Box usually has a phone, an alarm clock, sheets, towels, paper plates, cups, and tools to connect the washer and dryer.

8. Do you write in other genres?

I write essays. I like the short length. It’s a relief after dealing with the masses of text in a 300-page manuscript. And it’s nice to write a slice-of-life piece instead of fiction, at times. I’ve had essays published in several anthologies, including two in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE MILITARY WIFE’S SOUL. So far, my fiction has been in the mystery genre, but I have an idea that won’t go away and it’s more romance/humor so I’ll have to see where that goes.

Thank you so much, Sara! Sara's book is available in your local store, or check Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or your local indy bookseller.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name

I hope one and all had a happy 4th of July!

We went to San Francisco for fireworks… finally found parking in some merciful lot near Fisherman’s Wharf.

We were very grateful, until the time came to pay $17.50 for parking… when half that time was spent WAITING TO GET OUT OF THE PARKING SPACE, ughhh!

The best kept secret in San Francisco as far as fireworks viewing is concerned is A. Sabella’s restaurant on the Wharf.

We went there, sat at a nice table, had appetizers and desserts, and saw the show right from the window. Of course, you pay through the nose for the privilege of eating there, but what amazing shrimp cocktail! What fantastic crème brulee! What a sad day it was this morning adding it all up in the Weight Watchers journal!

Do you know one serving of crème brulee has approximately 555 calories and 48 grams of fat? No, I didn’t either.

It was delicious though. But still... I woke up this morning feeling like the lowest scum on earth for having sucked it down. Even the chocolate cake dripping with sauce and covered with ice cream would have been a better choice.

On the author front, I have created a MySpace page for the purpose of communicating with readers and friends. If you're on MySpace, I hope you'll visit me on my page there. Already I’ve linked up with many of my favorite authors, and even several readers!

There’s a space for a blog at MySpace. I’m thinking I’ll constrain that one to blogs about reading and writing. The personal stuff will go here, in addition to the blogs about the biz, which will appear in both places. Let’s see how that goes. *GGG*.

TITLES are my current frustration. I don't know why, but I completely suck at coming up with titles. I wanted to call The Bitch Posse WHITE ROSES RED, after a line from the book. It's an Alice in Wonderland reference, of course. But it's not quite as grabby as The Bitch Posse.

New writers angst a lot over titles. The truth is, the title you sell your book under most likely won't be the one that appears on the cover. I know an author who had a great title for her novel about horses: HORSE POWER. I liked this title a lot! It suggested a strong, powerful woman who gathered her power from the animal she loved so much. However, the publisher didn't care for the title so it became RIDING LESSONS. Jennifer Weiner talks about an agent who wanted to call her first novel BIG GIRL instead of GOOD IN BED. Can you imagine? Would you ever have even bothered picking up a book called BIG GIRL?

I did a little digging to find more books that would support my theory that it doesn't matter if my title sucks. (Actually, SUCKS wasn't the exact word used by my agent. She simply said, "It's a good title. Can you think of a great one?" She puts things so nicely.)

Here are some original titles of famous books. What do you think?

All's Well That Ends Well - War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Stephen Hero - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Incident at West Egg
Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires
Trimalchio in West Egg
On the Road to West Egg
Gold-hatted Gatsby
The High-bouncing Lover
Under the Red White and Blue - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Tomorrow is Another Day
Tote the Weary Load
Ba! Ba! Black Sheep
None So Blind
Not in Our Stars
Mules in Horse Harness
Bugles Sang True - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Catch-18 - Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Well, the upshot is, I'm trying not to angst too much over my lack of a title. Some of the above titles are quite terrible, and the books speak for themselves. Why get too worked up over the title at this stage? In fact, I think I'll email my agent this morning, and tell her I've renamed the book yet again:

Something That Happened (original title of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men).

Monday, July 03, 2006

Featured Story Today*~*

Check out the featured stories today on the StemPAC site. And I encourage you to poke around the StemPAC site some more--lots of valuable info, and action alerts.