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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Signs You’re Going to Be Killed Off Before the End of a Novel

When I was in college, I went to see the movie Scream twice in the theater. I loved it, still do. But not because I thought it was scary, because I thought it was hysterical. Some of the greatest quotes ever came out of that movie. You can recite them all day like, “There's always some stupid bullshit reason to kill your girlfriend. That's the beauty of it all! Simplicity! Besides, if it gets too complicated, you lose your target audience.”



Gotta love a writer who can poke fun at his own work, especially one who can also famously offer the “RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie.” If you’ve seen the film, you know that the rules include everything from remaining morally pure and virginal to insisting you never, under any circumstances, say, “I’ll be right back.” Because, of course, you won’t.

Now, if you’ve been reading my blog you should know that I’ve been slaving away (seriously, chained to a computer screen with minimal bathroom breaks) on rewriters of my WIP. The project is nothing like my Amor and Summer Secrets series. It’s way more complicated with spies, and history, and death scenes, and all that fun stuff.

And as I gear up to kill off yet another character today, I thought I’d steal a play from Scream’s guidebook and offer:

RULES That One Must Abide By In Order to Successfully Survive a Young Adult Spy Novel:


1. Don’t have sex.
It’s simple and pulled straight from Scream, but what can I say, they nailed it (pun intended). The promiscuous girl (or boy) in any YA novel is much more likely to meet a horrific bloody demise—usually immediately post coital.

2. Don’t know too much. It’s simple fact: if she needs you to unlock her mystery, chances are you won’t live to tell the tale.

3. Don’t believe a word our heroine says. This is an extension of Rule No. 2. But let’s face it, most heroines fight alone. That isolation leads to anger that leads to some serious butt kicking. The more you support our heroine’s theories, the more likely you’ll be ripped from the world she lives in.

4. Don’t be related to the main character.
Think about it, no one’s killing off the mailman. But if you’re a blood relative, the odds of you taking a dive off a steep cliff increase dramatically.

5. Don’t leave hidden clues in the event of your death.
Come on, if you’re stupid enough to leave a “do not open unless I’m dead letter,” trust me our heroine will end up reading it—at your funeral.

6. Never, under any circumstances, say those three little words. Because nothing gets a guy deader than saying, “I love you.” So squash those dreams of weddings, puppies, and picket fences until the end of the series, or you won’t live long past the debut novel.


POP CULTURE RANT: Fashion Police

Now, I’m all for analyzing every stitch of clothing worn on the red carpet. It’s our duty as Americans to tell beautiful women that “their boobs are too small for that halter” or that “their skin tone clashes with that shade of yellow.” But, if you’re going to go on TV and spout this crazy analysis, you better make sure you look good. Those weird guys that comment with Debbie Matenopoulos need to take a look in their own mirrors. Because if you come dressed to the set in the outfit that drugged up Mickey Rourke wore the night before, you don’t have much room to criticize. I’m talking to you, Jay Manuel, Peter Ishkhans and Christian Siriano, because you three look like a hot mess.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Nationwide Blog Tour, Bring on the Groupies

Wouldn’t it be cool if blog tours came along with roadies, groupies and a stage performance? Just to yell, “Hello, New York!” to a crowd at Madison Square Garden is an absolute fantasy of mine. But alas, blog tours are not as glamorous, but they are quite fun. And this week marks my first official nationwide blog tour.

In honor of the debut of Adios to All The Drama, the members of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit will be posting blogs all week featuring interviews with me.

I hope you’ll check some of them out, because you’ll learn everything from my favorite clothing item to my writing muse.

There are 18 total, and you’re probably thinking, “Man, I can’t read all that.” But imagine answering 18 sets of interview questions. Whew. At times, I almost felt like I was taking a personality test as I pondered whether I was “a gluer or taper,” or “who my glamour icon is,” or “if I could live inside any book which would it be,” and of course the all important “what’s your favorite type of chocolate.”

So take some time and delve into my wacky brain. You can find me on the following blogs. Interviews will be posted at various times throughout the week. Happy Reading!

Megan Kelly Hall, http://www.megankelleyhall.com/
Alyson Noel, http://www.alysonnoel.com/blog.html
Melissa Walker, http://www.melissacwalker.com/
Megan Crane, http://megancrane.livejournal.com/
Shanna Swendson, http://shanna-s.livejournal.com/
Lucienne Diver, http://varkat.livejournal.com
Jennifer Banash, http://jenniferbanash.wordpress.com/
Linda Gerber, http://www.lindagerber.blogspot.com/
Stacy DeKeyser, http://stacy-dekeyser.livejournal.com/
Teri Brown, http://www.myspace.com/teriwrites
Wendy Toliver, http://www.myspace.com/roxytoliver
April Henry, http://aprilhenry.livejournal.com/
Eileen Cook, http://www.eileencook.com/
Stephanie Kuehnert, http://stephaniekuehnert.blogspot.com
Sara Hantz, http://www.sarahantz.com/blog/
Carrie Jones, http://carriejones.livejournal.com/
Jennifer Echols, http://jenniferechols.livejournal.com/
Karin Gillespie, http://karingillespie.blogspot.com/
Amanda Ashby, http://amandaashby.blogspot.com/
Laurie Stolarz, http://www.livejournal.com/users/lstolarz/
Kelly Parra, http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/writerwords/


POP CULTURE RANT: The Last Templar

I only watched part of this, but wow, did the writing on this TV movie suck. First, you need to get past Mira Sorvino running in stilettos with a joust to knock some thief off a horse in Central Park. But if you can somehow get past that, you need to believe she yells out, “Hey, get back here! That’s doesn’t belong to you!” Seriously. And then, they go into the longest “As you know Bob” rants I’ve ever seen. By that I mean lots of lame background dialogue like, “As you know Bob, in the 1200s the Knights Templar…” It’s lazy crappy writing. And Mira Sorvino is not an action hero. At the very least they should have cast Sarah Michelle Gellar—because when all else fails, call on Buffy.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Day for America, and a New GCC Visiting Author: Teri Brown

We have a new president! It’s almost hard to believe given how long the election lasted. We’ve been watching two years of campaigning, stumping, interviewing, debating, and it’s now actually over. And, even more miraculous, our guy won! (Sorry, McCain supporters.) But when you live in Philly and you just watched the Eagles lose yet another NCF Championship (their fourth championship loss in eight years), you kinda get accustomed to disappointment.

I mean, please, we all remember the Bush-Gore fiasco—the hanging chads, the Florida recounts, and the Supreme Court rulings. Then when it was all said and done, we were left with WMDs, Katrina, Mission Accomplished banners, shooting people in the face, Abu Ghraib and our greeting as Iraqi liberators. Ah, memories.

This isn’t to say that all those problems have disappeared, magically resolved with the wave of an inauguration bible. But the country’s got a fresh start, a new leader with a new perspective and a new standard of what’s possible for school kids everywhere.

America’s got a clean slate, folks! And if you need any help wiping the last eight years from your memory, never fear. The Daily Show has stepped up to the plate with a little assistance:



But that’s not all that’s going on today. One of the GCC’s very own is sharing this day with President Obama. Everyone please welcome the amazing young adult author Teri Brown!

Her latest book, Read My Lips is on sale now through Simon Pulse.

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



Popularity is as easy as a good secret.

Serena just wants to fly under the radar at her new school. But Serena is deaf, and she can read lips really well—even across the busy cafeteria. So when the popular girls discover her talent, there’s no turning back.

From skater chick to cookie-cutter prep, Serena’s identity has done a 180…almost. She still wants to date Miller, the school rebel, and she’s not ready to trade her hoodies for pink tees just yet. But she is rising through the ranks in the school’s most exclusive clique.

With each new secret she uncovers, Serena feels pressure to find out more. Reading lips has always been her greatest talent, but now Serena just feels like a gigantic snoop….

Here’s what Teri had to say:

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

Teri: I'm super good at keeping secrets. I think as a Mom you have to be if you want to keep your children's trust. Especially when they are teenagers! When I was fifteen I discovered a family secret too, so I can empathize with your Main Character!

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

Teri: My favorite place so far is Chicago. I can't even pick what the coolest thing I did there was. Maybe sit in the House of Blues and listen to music? Go to the top of the Sears tower? Look at myself in the bean? It's just an awesome town!

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?

Teri: I have never been, and I don't think I would. I like surprises and I totally want my life to be a surprise. :)

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

Teri: My grandmother was a total europhile. We come from England, and she ferreted out our lineage and discovered that we are related to a line of rulers in England. And we have a town named after us... Peckham, I think it is. Other than that I am pretty much an American mongrel.

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

Teri: I was sitting at my desk, and my agent sent me the email. I cried. A lot.

Thanks, Teri! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Snakes, Snails, Puppy Dog Tails…Since When are Puppies a Bad Thing?

I’ve been conducing writing workshops at some local schools and I’ve noticed a trend, boys are pretty darn creative. And very clever. Now this shouldn’t come as a surprise to me. The bestseller lists are full of male authors (so is Oprah’s book club). But I guess since the young adult genre is so focused on adolescent girls, we sometimes forget the boys sitting next to them.

Case in point: my workshops center around a class creating an outline for a short story. The times I had boys participating in the class, the stories either turned very spooky (think dead bodies in the basement) or very funny (think pranks and jokes). When I had all-female groups, the stories leaned more toward the romantic and the “popular girls.”

Boys just think differently. Very differently. And I mean that in a good way.

For example, earlier this week, I asked a class of 6th graders to come up with an idea to start a story. It had be something true from their own life. We had lots of stories of broken arms, lost pets, etc. Then one little boy raised his hand and said this:

(I’m paraphrasing)
“One time I took a stick of butter and buttered my entire kitchen floor. Then when my brother came home, he walked into the kitchen, slid and went flying across the room. He almost broke his arm. It was awesome.”

It took every ounce of restraint I had not to roll on the floor laughing. I can’t imagine the parents’ reaction. You know you should be mad. Your kid could have seriously hurt someone. But he BUTTERED your entire floor! Come on, that’s comedy. And think of the patience and forethought that took.

It’s a good thing I don’t have kids. I think I’d buy him an ice cream cone for that one.

So these boys clearly have the minds to write YA, they’re very creative and they add a lot of spark to my workshops. Now if we can only get them to read the genre, maybe the publishing industry wouldn’t need all those layoffs after all.


POP CULTURE RANT: SNL

For starters, NPH (Neil Patrick Harris) was hysterical on Saturday. He rocked that episode, particularly the SNL Short of him playing the Doogie Howser theme song. But my favorite moment of the night, came at the very end when they ripped on the Burger King Whopper Virgins. Have you seen those commercials? They’re so stupid that you think the actual commercial is a spoof. For starters, BK is acting like the people of Budapest, Hungary live in isolation—they’ve got a population of 1.7 million and they have a Burger King and a McDonalds! Anyway, the commercials are dumb and deserve to be ripped on. I couldn’t find the original clip on SNL’s site, so I’m embedding the YouTube link. Hopefully it’s not removed by the time you watch this. ;)


Monday, January 12, 2009

Nobody Comes Into My House and Pushes Me Around!

I don’t want to jinx things, but man, ’09 is looking good. The Eagles beat the Giants! They’re going to the NFC Championship for the fifth time in eight years! And they didn’t even win 10 games in the regular season. This is a true Rocky saga if ever there was one. The veteran players considered down and out, rallying around their beleaguered coach and quarterback, proving they can go the distance…yadda, yadda.

Now, I’m sure a lot of my blog readers are not Eagles fans. And since most of you are female, I’m betting many don’t even like football. It’s okay to admit it. Football historically has a male-dominated fan base, at least until its players don spray tan and glitter and join the cast of Dancing with the Stars.

But I’m here to prove to you all why football is awesome, and how it’s very much like writing. Seriously.

My list of Top 10 List of Things Writers and Football Players Have in Common:

1. They both spend a lot of time banging their heads against things. Sure the head trauma of novelists is mostly, hopefully, metaphorical (except for those rare occasions when we do find ourselves literally banging our head against our keyboards—sad, sad days). But let face it—both hurt. You try rewriting a manuscript from scratch—it can make a defensive lineman seem preferable.

2. Both are hard careers to break into. Not everyone gets drafted, and not every manuscript gets agented (or sold). But hey, if you do make it to the NFL or a book shelf, take some time to recognize that even if you never make the Pro Bowl, you still accomplished something pretty damn cool.

3. Both are more comfortable in sneakers. Could you imagine playing football in heels? Yeah, no. And I can’t imagine writing in heels either. We’re lucky if we get out of our pajamas.

4. Both feature a colorful cast of characters.
You’ve got your villains (ahem, T.O.), your heroes (McNabb), your nice guys (Westbrook), your love interests (Jessica Simpson or that Girls Next Door Playmate engaged to Eagle’s Hank Basket), and your wise elders (Dawkins and Reid). Only most football players don’t talk to me while I’m sleeping, at least not yet. And that would probably freak my husband out if they did.

5. Neither one can rely on the trick plays alone.
Sure a fake punt or double reverse is nice once in awhile, but it’s the steady run game and screen passes that get you into the playoffs. Same is true for your novel. An occasional twist and turn gives spark to any manuscript, but no one wants aliens suddenly landing in Chapter 6. Keep it simple.

6. Both require a lot of pep talks.
Writers really should have a locker room. Because wouldn’t it be nice to get a passion-filled, inspirational speech before you have to write that big scene? “Nobody comes into our house and pushes us around!!”

7. Both include a lot of bad hair, and I’m not only talking about the helmet hair. Have you seen some of the mullets, beards and mustaches these players are sporting? They look like writers on a deadline (minus the facial hair if you’re a girl, at least I hope).

8. Both need to rally after halftime.
It doesn’t matter how good your team is the first two quarters, you need to control the whole game. And likewise, you can pump out a sloppy mess of a rough draft as long as you focus on the revisions. Because who couldn’t use a fourth quarter surge when closing in on that final manuscript polish?

9. Both require a lot of practice. Obvious, but true. Your first novel is rarely your best, neither is your rookie season. They’re both hopefully jumping off points to launch a lengthy career.

10. Both have fans.
Though I really think more authors should be carried out of book signings on people’s shoulders. Why don’t all of us get together once a year and do this for each other? We can set a schedule. Sunday afternoons, anyone?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

“Adios” is officially on shelves, and GCC Visiting Author: Eileen Cook


It’s official! The final installment of my young adult series is on shelves now! Adios to All the Drama debuted last week, and I hope all of you Mariana fans will rush out to see how her saga ends. (Just a hint: Alex isn’t the only teen who will be visiting the Ruizes. Expect some major drama, romantic and otherwise.)

And if you liked Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals, and Adios To All The Drama, please swing by Amazon and leave me a nice review. It would be much appreciated!

But without further delay, I’d like to introduce you all to another amazing young adult author in the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit!

Everyone please give a warm welcome to Eileen Cook! Her latest book, What Would Emma Do?, hit shelves on December 30th through Simon Pulse.

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




Thou shalt not kiss thy best friend’s boyfriend…again…

There is no greater sin than kissing you best friend’s boyfriend. So when Emma breaks that golden rule, she knows she’s messed up big-time. Especially since she lives in the smallest town ever, where everyone knows everything about everyone else….and especially because she maybe kinda wants to do it again. Now her best friend isn’t speaking to her, her best guy friend is making things totally weird, and Emma is running full speed toward certain social disaster. This is so not the way senior year was supposed to go.

Time to pray for a minor miracle. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time for Emma to stop trying to please everyone around her, and figure out what she wants for herself.

Here’s what Eileen had to say:

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

Eileen: I'm good at keeping secrets provided that no one questions me too much. I am a terrible liar. I blush, I stammer, stupid comments fly out of my mouth at a remarkable rate. This means I can never go into the international spy business. The only way I can get away with writing fiction is that I do so at home alone without anyone watching me come up with things.

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

Eileen: I was lucky enough to live in Europe for a couple of years when my husband's job moved us over there. We lived in downtown Brussels, Belgium so I have a soft spot for that place. We did a lot of travel when we were there, and my favorite place we went was Eygpt. Everything there was cool. You start seeing so many cool things that you have sensory overload. After about a week we would see a solid gold tomb covering and be all "meh, seen a lot of those- what else do you have?" I would advise staying away from anything with the local water. I ate a salad one day that must have been washed in local tap water. I won't go into details, but let me say the outcome wasn't pretty.

Ohh, Egypt. I’d love to visit there, despite the water story. Hehe.


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? If so, did any predictions come true? If not, would you ever visit one? Why or why not?

Eileen: My first book, Unpredictable, is about a woman who pretends to be a psychic. I did a ton of research for that book including meeting with a skeptics group that showed me how it could be faked, and then I went to over a dozen different psychics. I haven't had any "really out there" predictions that were true, but I know some people that have had some strange experiences. I'm not sure if psychics are true or not- but if you get a prediction you like, I say go for it.

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

Eileen:
My dad is a huge family history nut. He and my mom planned this elaborate trip back to Ireland so that he could connect with his roots. He spent a whole day trying to find the old family home. He stopped at a gas station to try to get directions and discovered that the house had been torn down to make room for the gas station. In our family photo album we have pictures of my mom and dad in front of the gas station with the gas station owner. Since my heritage is Irish, I would like to think I am somehow related to Bono of U2, but so far I haven't been able to find a connection.

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

Eileen: Is there a better feeling than hearing you'll be published? I was at home sick from work. I was bundled up on the sofa watching bad daytime TV when my agent called. I had to celebrate with Dr. Phil until my husband got home. Thankfully since I was wearing my so-old-they-are-nearly see-through flannel jammies with no make up there are no pictures.

Thanks for having me on your site!

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Shoes Have Predicted The Future

A belated happy new year to all of you! I hope you all had fun rockin’ it in with Dick Clark, aka Ryan Seacrest. And while I’m a little sad to see 2008 pass (It was the year I published my first novel! And the Phillies won the World Series!), I must say that I think 2009 is off to a good start. Why? Well, it all comes down to a pair of shoes.

You see, I’m a shopper—in every aspect. I pull the catalogues out of the mail so I can immediately peruse items I’m not in the market for while leaving the “important stuff” for another day. I love to window shop, walk down Walnut Street coveting items that I can in no way afford but like to look at anyway. I am an excellent coveter. (Essentially, because I’m also financially responsible. So while I may look at expensive items, I rarely buy them.)

But on one such excursion through the shops in Philly, I fell in love. With a pair of boots. They’re beautiful. They have Nike Air insoles so the heel doesn’t hurt your feet. They’re made of leather so luxurious that every other leather item I own looks like plastic in comparison. And they’re Cole Haan.



Now, if you know anything about shoes, you know that Cole Haan is up there in the stratosphere of pricing. They’re out of my league. They wouldn’t even talk to me at a bar if we met. So I was content to covet, worship from afar. Once in a while I’d visit them, say ‘hi.’ But we both knew they were too good for me.

So I began to accept reality.

And then, the day after Christmas, my husband and I were at the King of Prussia Mall, and I decided to swing by the Cole Haan store—just give the boots a quick, “Merry Christmas.” But they weren’t there. Apparently, the rest of the world also liked my boots, only they had the money to afford them. The shoes were gone. It was a sad end to 2008. The dream had died. Until…

This past weekend, I visited some friends in Manhattan. And on the way home, we decided to stop off at the Short Hills Mall. My husband insisted that we go to Bloomingdale’s, which is not typically my scene (I’m more of a Macy’s kind of girl). But we went. And low and behold there are my boots hanging on the discount rack.

They’re 66% off.

There are only 3 sizes available. One of them is a size 8.

I swear the lights in the store shone brighter as a strobe light descended down from the heavens illuminating my boots as an angel sang in the distance. They were my size. They were perfect. The box the saleswoman brought still had the shoes wrapped in plastic with the little paper balls wedged inside. They were untouched.

Needless to say, I bought the boots. But my story is not about the boots. It’s about “signs.” I think the boots are an omen that 2009 is going to swing my way. Already, the Eagles won their first playoff game. My husband bought the car of his dreams (with all the fixings) at a price we could afford because of a sale that lasted three weeks during the exact time that our Volvo started dying.

Then when I came home from that shopping trip, I felt compelled to fix my work-in-progress. I’ve been kind of procrastinating lately. I knew I needed to make changes, but I was resisting doing the work. I think part of me didn’t want to let the old version die. But now I’m back in the game, ready to start 2009 with a fresh manuscript. I know what’s wrong with my book. I know how to fix it.

And it’s all because of the Cole Haan boots in my closet. They’re magic, like those Sisterhood pants. I should invite you all over to try them on because I think they’d fit, no matter your size. They’re that special. The Magic Boots of 2009.


Pop Culture Rant: E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!

Bring on the Giants, baby! Now I know the Birds squeaked into the playoffs after an act of divine intervention (like I said, ’09 is swinging my way). But if we could pick any team to play in the next round of the playoffs, I’d pick the Giants. Sure, they’re Super Bowl champs. Sure, they’ve got an all-star team. But I’m telling you, those guys have lost their mojo. Maybe that bullet in Plaxico’s leg ripped it out of them. The Giant’s have lost three of their last four games. The Eagles have won five of their last six. If we have any shot, it’s being the underdog against a team we know well. Just ask the Cowboys.


Copyright © 2008 Diana Rodriguez Wallach, All Rights Reserved