Thursday, May 24, 2007

Graffiti Girl

Have you ever sprayed graffiti? I am not telling whether I have or not. Some of my oldest, closest friends know the truth. What is cool about the best graffiti is that it is truly art. The artists are anonymous because, of course, defacing property is illegal. The graffiti created by me was never exactly beautiful, so I have a bit of an inferiority complex that way. Oops, I think I just told on myself.

Anyway, I was thrilled to hear that Young Adult author Kelly Parra had written a new book titled GRAFFITI GIRL. I must say I love the title. It is published by MTV Books. How cool is that? It is just the type of thing I would have picked up as a teen, so I was excited to find out I would get to host her as part of my blog co-op, The Girlfriends Cyber Circuit.


Kelly Parra lives in a diverse agricultural farm town in Central Coast California with her loving husband and two beautiful children. When not at work on her current novel, she spends her free time roaming book stores, surfing the blogosphere, and watching reality TV. Look for her first novel, GRAFFITI GIRL, with MTV/Pocket Books scheduled for May 2007.


Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble...

Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos--a senior track star and Angel's secret crush--taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.

That's when Miguel Badalin--from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte--opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.

"With characters as bold and exciting as the art they love, and an honesty that keeps them raw and real, Graffiti Girl shows us that the only thing better than discovering your talent is finding yourself along the way."
~ Jenny O'Connell, author of Plan B and The Book of Luke

"Graffiti Girl is a fast-paced story that boldly looks dreams and temptations in the eye. 16 year-old Angel Rodriguez steals your heart as she tries to find her place in the world--artistically, socially, and even inside her own family. Don't miss this one!"
~ Tina Ferraro, author of Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress

"Breaking into the YA market with the edgy debut novel Graffiti Girl, Kelly Parra will surprise readers with her hip yet mature voice."
~ RITA Award-winning author, Dianna Love Snell

"This book blew me away. Kelly Parra writes with the keen eye of an artist. Graffiti Girl is warm, gutsy, and true-to-life -- an unflinching, honest portrayal of young adults. A seamless and impressive debut."
~ Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Pale Immortal


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.

KP: Basically my love for art in high school and my friends who were into Graffiti art inspired me to write Graffiti Girl. When I was sixteen, I tried my hand at graffiti designs in what is called a "piecebook" but could never really do justice to the bold style. When I decided to write YA fiction, graffiti was the first idea to pop for me since I was familiar with art. However, I did have to do a lot of research on graffiti. From there it was an uphill battle to find the right voice and tone I wanted to write for teens. Once I was comfortable, I just wrote. I wish there was some formula I followed that I could pass along, but by the time I have finished the book I am in awe that I actually wrote it and that all those words came from my head. I really think it's a gift writers have to tell stories.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

KP: My advice is to read. Read the genre you would like to write in, but also outside your genre. Take on-line writing courses or classes whenever you can manage it. There is always room for learning and growing. And when you feel your book is at its best and ready to be read by agents or editors, learn as much as you can about the publishing industry and the dos and don'ts of the submission process.

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

KP: My typical day is to get up and ready my kids for school and get them out the door. Then when I return home, I refuel, check email and my numerous blogs, and that takes at least an hour. I can then settle into where I left off with my current book. I usually read the prior chapter to get back into the tone and scene, and that goes on with breaks until it's time to pick up the kids. Sadly, I wish I was more organized and just had more space in general to spread out. The only thing I often do, is right down a list of the things I must get finished that day. Otherwise who knows when I'll remember to get it done. :)

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

KP: The most exciting part of writing a novel is that after all the hard work you put into a book, you get to finally have the finished product in your hands. There is nothing like holding your own published book, knowing you created these characters from your head, that these are the words you wrote. :) The most frustrating for me is outlining a novel in advance. I'd rather work with the story as I go along. If I write to an outline sometimes that doesn't leave room for much creativity.

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

KP: There are no plans to write a follow-up to Graffiti Girl. My next novel in the works is another YA about a girl who can see psychic images or signs on her peers, and pieces the signs together in order to save them from unfortunate fates. It's going to be a fun project to finish!

6. Who are your favorite authors in the genre you write?

KP: My favorite YA authors are Sarah Dessen, Ann Brashares, and Laurie Halse Anderson. And the list is growing every time I discover a new author!

7. Music while you write or silence?

KP: I read a lot about writers working to music. I just can't. Good music is so distracting. Half the time I want to sing along or dance when I hear a great song. I work best in silence so that I can focus on the character and try to get better into her head.

8. Favorite drink while writing?

KP: It's usually water, unless I have to stay up late writing. If that is the case it's a cup of French Vanilla Cafe to keep me awake. :)

Thank you so much, Kelly! Check out her book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local indy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tragedy Close To Home

Today I had planned to post another Girlfriends interview, maybe some photos of the puppy, but some horrible news from my friend Barb Marche (she's the Canadian who wrote the essay on Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes for this blog... scroll through the archives if you're curious) has absolutely paralyzed me. As many of you know, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 in July of 2004. It has altered our lives forever.

Just over a week ago, Paul Beckwith, known as "Pumper Paul" to the diabetes community, went to bed along with his family. There was no one around to see or hear him as he slept. He suffered an extreme low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and fell into a coma. His wife discovered him the next morning, unable to rouse him.

Paul hung on in a comatose state for several days before he became yet another victim of this horrible disease.

In Barb's words: "He was an absolutely incredible human being who was looking forward to restarting his life with a new pancreas. He didn't wait for life to happen however. For close to 20 years Paul advocated for insulin pumps. Paul's legacy is the insulin pump bill in Ontario and the provinces that have followed."

Paul was 53 years old with two teenaged daughters. he had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 14. He said insulin pumping had given him his life back.

The scenario that killed Paul is known as Dead in Bed. Yes, this disease can kill those who use cutting-edge technology, who take vigilant care of their diabetes. It is my nightly terror. That cure can't come soon enough. INSULIN IS NOT A CURE!

You can send a notice to the family here.

Tribute to Paul Beckwith

They have also requested donations be sent to either the Canadian
Diabetes Association or Trinity Community Church in lieu of flowers.

The oher stuff goes in the blog tomorrow. I'm numb.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sorry for My Absence...

But the puppy has come home! She is an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Just coming up on 9 weeks old, tomorrow. One big ball of energy, fur, kisses, and oh yeah, puppy accidents. As you can imagine, she has happily consumed all our time since we got her one week ago! I will post some pictures when I get the chance. They are the BEST dog breed EVER!

It is with embarrassment that I post this overdue Girlfriends Cyber Circuit blog tour from Jennifer O'Connell. Interestingly, I just ran into one of Jennifer's novels at the bookstore the other day. Jennifer's new book is titled INSIDER DATING and has just been published!


Although she’s written about a reality dating show, a prescient pastry chef, and a woman who inspired an 80’s rock hit, Jennifer has not spent hours dissecting The Bachelor, she can barely follow the directions on the back of a Betty Crocker box, and she can only dream of a long-haired, guitar-thrashing rocker even giving her a second glance.

While she cringes at the thought of being called Jenny again after all these years, her teen books, PLAN B and THE BOOK OF LUKE, are published under Jenny O’Connell by MTV Books (March 2006).

Her days as a high school senior may be long behind her, but Jennifer did receive her B.A. from Smith College and her M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. A market strategy consultant, she lives outside Boston.


Recently divorced, top financial analyst Abby Dunn has learned the hard way that when it comes to relationships, there's no sure thing. But now Abby's decided to use her knack for risk management to change all that - and give a whole new meaning to mergers and acquisitions. She's creating a members-only club where women share the inside information on the opposite sex they need to invest their greatest assets: themselves. And she's got underperforming men running scared.

Only while Abby's busy hedging bets, someone is skewing her data and threatening to ruin her model. And Abby's about to find out that sometimes even the savviest market wizards can be headed for a crash.
While it may be perfectly legal, nothing good can come from insider dating...

"What if a database could tell you everything you might need to know about someone before you even met? INSIDER DATING asks just that with results that are both very funny and surprisingly heartfelt. I laughed out loud, I pondered, and I was ultimately thankful that such a database doesn't exist. Jennifer O'Connell's best book yet!"

Melissa Senate, author, SEE JANE DATE and LOVE YOU TO DEATH
"I'm crazy about Jennifer O'Connell's novels, and INSIDER DATING is another fun, smart and insightful treat!"

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 was finishing my third novel and knew I had to begin thinking about what I’d do next. Everything I saw or heard was fodder for a new idea. I had a bunch of ideas but no big “a-ha” moments. One summer afternoon I was out on our deck, flipping through People magazine. One of those blow-ins for the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes fell onto my lap and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a clearinghouse for men.” The idea for INSIDER DATING came immediately, that a woman could create a sort of clearinghouse that allowed women to share information in a members-only club. I mentioned the idea to my agent but we’d begun talking about writing YA, and so I focused on writing that proposal for a YA book and it sold. INSIDER DATING didn’t have a synopsis or anything for almost another year.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I’m not a good one to ask for advice, as I never really aspired to be a writer. I just enjoyed writing and happened to sell a book. Given that, I guess what I’d say is, write what you enjoy, know the business of publishing inside and out, and grow a thick skin.

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

No tricks. No typical day. I have a “real job” that takes up about 50 hours of my week, so I write when I can – but I always have a notebook to take down notes in. It can be ideas for scenes, dialog I hear, or anything. This way even if I can’t write, I can give myself what I need to jumpstart the process when I have time to sit down at my laptop.

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

The most existing for me is coming up with an idea that I love, that gets me (and my agent) excited. But even more exciting than that is getting the call that there’s an editor (or more!) who want the book. I only wish I’d realized that the thrill that comes from finishing a manuscript lasts approximately 32 seconds – and then the reality sets in: you need to come up with another book idea to do it all over again.

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

No follow-up to this. None of my books so far were conceived to last beyond the last page. I edited an anthology of essays by some fun, funny women writers, EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME, and that comes out in June so I’m doing promotional stuff for that. Then I have a non-fiction book about divorce, THE DIVORCED GIRLS SOCIETY coming out in October, and in between those I need to find the time to write the first book in my new teen series that’s being published by MTV/Pocket. No name yet, but it takes place on Martha’s Vineyard during the summer.

6. Would you ever belong to a secret society where women share information about the men they’ve dated?

That’s a tough one. On the one hand, it would save a lot of wasted energy on someone who is incompatible. On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t be married to my husband. Some other woman he’d dated would have let me know that he gets up way too early (I’m not a morning person), he hates to travel (I love to get away), he can’t type (I have a laptop perma-glued to my thighs), he recites lines to cheesy movies (if I hear one more line from Fletch I’ll break out into hives), and he doesn’t take advantage of airline miles when charging things to a credit card, instead choosing to earn “Red Sox points” on a card with his favorite team’s logo (I’m a “free” mile junky who can justify any charge because I know I’m earning a flight somewhere). Maybe it’s the things you can’t itemize that end up being the things that matter.

7. Who did you dedicate this book to and why?

This book is dedicated to my two best friends, Vicki and Vangie. We’ve been best friends since we met our first day of college, and when I was writing this book they were both going through divorces. Here I was writing about a woman who was divorced and my friends were going through it for real. Their circumstances were completely different from Abby’s in the book, but the idea that your friends are the ones who are always there for you is in the book, and in our real lives as well.

8. What was the most surprising thing that's happened to you since your book's been published?

I met Kevin Bacon when I was on a morning show in NYC. He was on for his band, and we were in dressing rooms next to each other. He was in there doing scales with his voice, or whatever it is they do, all serious and self-important. We stood right next to each other in the hall and he acted like he was Pavarotti. I was like, “Dude, you danced in a barn in Footloose, get over yourself.” So now I’m 1 degree from Kevin Bacon.

Thank you so much, Jennifer! Check out Jennifer's book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your best choice, your local indy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Secrets and More Secrets

Looks as if I'm going to have to put a little hold on my discussion of the literary life, because the literary life has come up and bit me in the tail! I'm a bit overdue in welcoming fellow GCCer Lauren Barnholdt to the blog! Lauren is the author of the new novel for "tweens," THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY.


The Official:

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.

What You Really Want To Know:

Hi. I’m Lauren. I tried writing this bio in third person, but it
seemed weird. I’m twenty-six. I write books. Here are some things
about me:

* My favorite reality show is Newlyweds. I know, Nick and Jessica broke
up, whatever. I still love the show.

*One time I tried out for a reality TV show, and I didn’t make it.

* When I told my boyfriend I was writing a section of my website that was
“what you really want to know” he was like, I CAN WRITE IT! Um, no.

*My favorite book is CATCHER IN THE RYE.

* I say the word “scandalous” a lot. It appears all over the place in
REALITY CHICK, and my editor made me cut a lot of them.

* In real life, I am not scandalous at all.

* I have two sisters. I’m the oldest.

* My favorite drink is Diet Coke with Lime.

* My favorite color is pink.

* I love the New York Yankees. I plan on marrying Derek Jeter. As soon
as I have the chance to meet him, this plan will be put into action.

* I love college basketball. The Syracuse Orangemen are my favorite

* I love pop music. I don’t care if this makes me a dork. I also love
Gavin DeGraw, Vertical Horizon, Nine Days, Matchbox Twenty, Lifehouse,
and The Goo Goo Dolls.

* I refuse to dance in public, but sometimes I have dance parties in my
room, by myself, while listening to previously mentioned pop music.
Destiny’s Child and Christina Aguilera are favorites.

* If you want to know anything else, you can email me and I’ll probably tell you.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Launching the new Simon and Schuster MIX line for tweens comes THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY by Lauren Barnholdt….

Mom says karma always comes around to get you, and I guess it's true. Because last summer I was a total liar, and now, right in the middle of Mr. Pritchard's third-period math class, my whole world is about to come crashing down…..

That's because while Devon was living with her grandmother for the summer, she told her "summer friend," Lexi, that she was really popular back home and dating Jared Bentley, only the most popular guy at school. Harmless lies, right? Wrong. Not when Lexi is standing at the front of Devon's class, having just moved to Devon's town. Uh-oh.

Devon knows there's only one way to handle this -- she'll just have to become popular! But how is Devon supposed to accomplish that when she's never even talked to Jared, much less dated him?! And it seems the more Devon tries to keep up her "image," the more things go wrong. Her family thinks she's nuts, her best friend won't speak to her, and, as if it's not all complicated enough, Jared starts crushing on Lexi and Devon starts crushing on Jared's best friend, Luke. It all has Devon wondering -- who is the real Devon Delaney?


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 my friends and I were in junior high, we were dating this group of guys from another school. So we made it seem like we were super popular at our school, and that all the boys wanted us. Which wasn’t even close to being true. One night some of the guys we lied to played basketball against some of the boys from our school who supposedly wanted us, and I just kept thinking, God, I hope none of them talk. And that was the inspiration for THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY. Only, unlike in my situation, poor Devon’s lies catch up with her.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Here are my top three tips for aspiring writers: 1. Don’t give up. 2. Don’t compare yourself to other writers – everyone’s path to publication is different, and what happens to one person is not necessarily going to happen to you. Don’t worry, you’ll get there. 3. Enjoy the process. Sometimes it’s so hard to enjoy writing when you’re getting rejections or things aren’t going well. But remember that you’re working toward a goal, one that’s worth it. And be thankful that you’ve found what it is you’re passionate about – not everyone can say that.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?
I try to get up early, because I find it’s easier for me to be productive if I feel like I’m getting a jump on the day.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?
The most exciting thing is definitely seeing my book on the shelves. It’s definitely surreal. Also hearing from people who have read and enjoyed my books. The most frustrating is probably learning to let go of the things you can’t control – the rejections, the negative reviews, etc.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?
I would love to write a follow-up to Devon Delaney! Right now, though, my latest YA book, TWO-WAY STREET, will be out in June, and I’m working on a new tween book that will be out next year.

Thank you, Lauren! Please take a moment to check out Lauren's book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your bestest bet, the local indy retailer near you.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Literary Life Continued: Writing Friendships

This is a continuation from the blog post from the other day. I think non-writers, or new writers, might erroneously think I hang out with ONLY authors of dark, edgy fiction. I may look down my nose at authors of chicklit, YA, picture books, or genre romance. That may be true of other authors; I don't know. But for me, as my literary life has evolved, that simply hasn't been the case.

Interestingly enough, I have author friends who write ALL DIFFERENT genres. Because guess what? Our struggles are pretty much the same. Getting a book done, finding an agent, selling a book, surviving the angst until the book hits the shelves, all of that. Getting stuck with a cover you hate, or learning your book will come out in trade paper when they promised you hardback. Or your agent taking too long to read your book, or a promised blurb not coming through. Hearing that your genre is oversaturated right now (which has happened to chicklit authors lately). Or whatever! This is the life of an author, and it is pretty similar whether you write chicklit, military thrillers, or haute literature.

There are authors to whom I owe a lot of my career who write in a different genre than myself. The aforementioned Becky Motew and Melanie Lynne Hauser, Elizabeth Graham, Jill Morrow, Karen Abbott, Danielle Schaaf, Elizabeth Letts, Carrie Kabak, Kristy Kiernan, Karen Dionne and Sara Gruen are published writers who, when we all started out, weren't even published. Time has gone on and NOW--all of them have books out (Elizabeth Graham and both of the Karens have coming out very soon). Some have multiple publications--Sara Gruen's latest, Water for Elephants was ever a bestseller, and she just made the most gigantic deal I ever heard of for her newest book, Ape House. I met all of these women online, and I have had the pleasure of meeting both Sara and Melanie in person. I hope to meet more of them someday!

What I want to emphasize is, these are all very different writers. They all explore a variety of different topics. Yet along the way, all of these wonderful women offered me a variety of support.

I'm just looking at the list now and I see several chicklit authors in the list, some authors of women's fiction, a pair of authors of nonfiction (one about nuns, the other about whores--no kidding), some of literary fiction, the author of a thriller, and some authors who write in a combination of these genres. Current author friends whom I see in person quite a bit include Cornelia Read (mysteries), Rebecca del Rio (poetry and literary fiction), and Diane Conway (nonfiction/inspirational).

Did I chose this lengthy list of women as author friends/support because of their genres? NO! Yet I would go to the mat for any of them. I don't really give a sweet damn if they write chicklit or cookbooks or erotica.

From providing critiques to standing in the cheering section, these authors have enriched my life in so many ways. Though I'm far from the perfect author friend, I hope I've been of service to them as well.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Literary Life: Reading Relationships

Great news! Blogger tells me I can blog in Hindi now. This should DEFINITELY be useful! All I have to do is learn Hindi and I'll go from there!

I was thinking about something lately: the literary life. As I am wont to do, I began typing and typing and typing and well... what I wrote turned into something far too long for one blog post. So I've broken these ponderings into a 3-part series, to be posted over the next several days.

Do you remember awhile back there were some very angry words flying between women writers of "chicklit" and women writers of books that were not "chicklit"? I am pretty sure this was around the time Curtis Sittenfeld, when reviewing Melissa Bank for The New York Times, said that calling a woman a "chicklit" writer was like calling her a slut. Then, Sittenfeld proceeded to call Bank's book chicklit (therefore, I guess, calling Bank a slut). This is intriguing since I have heard Sittenfeld's books (PREP and THE MAN OF MY DREAMS) described as a variety of things, including: literary, coming-of-age, Young Adult, and yes, chicklit.

Chicklit, what is it? Ah, the eternal question.

Over the years, I have gotten to know a lot of writers of what's known as "chicklit" (a term which covers an ever-broadening range of books, I think, though they do tend to be light and entertaining). Some of them I know rather well and got to know them before our literary careers even began. Some of them I met via my blog touring co-op, The Girlfriends Cyber Circuit. You'll often see these gals buzz through here with interviews when their books come out. Many (though not all) of the Girlfriends write "chicklit" or its older cousin,"momlit."

I sometimes wonder what these women thought when they heard I was a member--the author of the book pegged as "anti-chicklit." (!) However, since I am not sure what "chicklit" is, I am not quite sure what "anti-chicklit" is either. Silly me, I thought I had written a literary thriller with a sexy edge! Still, this wouldn't be the first time an author didn't know what she had written, at least in the publisher's eyes. I have a friend who thought she had written a work of urban fantasy and it got tagged as paranormal romance!

Anyhow, when my book was published, my publisher floated a few notions by me. The first one was that they wanted to pitch me as Chuck Palahnuik for the ladies. While I respect the man's writing and found the comparison flattering, I wasn't nuts about that idea. Does any woman really want to be known as the "female" version of ANYTHING, no matter how good? I'll bet Margaret Thatcher did not want to be known as the chick version of Winston Churchill. And I am sure Cecilia Bartoli does not care to be considered Luciano Pavarotti for girls. How about Nancy Pelosi; do you think she sees herself as the female reply to Tip O'Neill?

I don't think so.

As discussions went on, my publisher decided to package my book as the "anti-chicklit." At this I only shrugged. I definitely believe my book is more than just NOT something else, but I accepted that in the big bad publishing world, a book has to stand out. The Bitch Posse had to be packaged as SOMETHING, and I preferred "the anti-chicklit" than to be known as the girl version of a lone male author.

Despite this anti-chicklit banner I seem to have tied to my arm, I have actually enjoyed a variety of chicklit books. Oh, sure, not all of them. There are a lot of copycat chicklit books out there, and those bother me. And for awhile, it seemed every publisher wanted nothing but chicklit, 24/7. My character Rennie, also a writer, expresses this frustration throughout The Bitch Posse. (From what I hear, though, publishers' love affair with chicklit is cooling.) But I'm willing to give almost any type of book a go because to me, books are like food. And I looovvvee to eat.

There used to be a restaurant at the corner of 19th Avenue and Golden Gate Park that had dim sum. The menu was printed entirely in Chinese characters. And the waiters never, EVER translated the menu. They just looked at you expectantly and, if you a dolt who couldn't read the menu (like myself), patiently waited for you to point to it. Whatever you got would surprise and delight you, but it always would be totally different and unique. You might be presented with a many tentacled sea creature, or it might be some kind of dish made with, no kidding, tree moss. Then again, it might be a puffy pork dumpling, or some kind of dessert. You just never knew what you would get. Once in awhile I would get the mood to go there and be surprised.

So my reading life is like this restaurant. I will point to different spots in the menu and get completely different things, but I will enjoy them all for different reasons (even the moss). Sometimes I want to have my head opened up and put back together in an odd and interesting way. At those times I may pick up the work of the late, great Kurt Vonnegut. Sometimes I want to be disturbed and that's when I will reach for something by Mary Gaitskill or Jon Clinch. At other times I'm yearning for an edge-of-your seat thriller, and I'll grab a book by Lee Child or Donna Tartt. And once in awhile I want to do some great reading on spirituality and recovery and that's when Anne Lamott's latest or a classic by Melody Beattie fits the bill.

But sometimes, I want a light read for the bathtub or airplane. And that is when I may reach for chicklit. Some chicklit authors I have enjoyed include Becky Motew, Helen Fielding, Melissa Bank, Melanie Lynne Hauser, and Lauren Baratz-Logsted. These books are enjoyable. FUNNY as all get-out, mainly. Often the heroines are likeable fuckups. This reminds me of me. At least I hope I am likeable. Mostly. I have torn through these women's books at breakneck speed. Sometimes they even save me from having to consume extra chocolate. They're fun.

My Reading Life is like the rest of my life: varied. My moods are in every color, and that's true of the books I read, too.