Tuesday, July 5

NYC and the RITA Awards

No, I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE did not win its categories, but the whole event was so incredibly special and the other writers I met so incredibly nice -- and fun -- that it was impossible to feel disappointed in any way.  Impossible.

I've heard -- we've all heard -- actors and actresses repeat that well-worn line around Oscar time:  "It's a thrill just to be nominated."  And I've thought yeah, yeah, yeah.  Click.  (That's me hitting the mute button on the Today Show.)

But then it was my turn to be nominated for an award described by Publisher's Weekly as the highest honor in romance writing, and 2000 people attended the formal ceremony in NYC, and the nominees' names were announced by category, and our book jackets and head-shots were flashed on two enormous screens, and music played, and Meg Cabot hosted, and I will say for all eternity that it was a thrill just to be nominated.

My husband accompanied me to NYC, but we approached the trip as a working week for me since between meeting my agent, publisher and editor and all the individual events for the RITAs, including the rehearsal, there was very little time left for sight-seeing.  But we did manage -- as we do everywhere we travel -- some marathon walks.  Miles each day just to see what we could see.

I'd been to New York before.  Couple times.  But I was young.  On one trip, I saw Yul Brenner on Broadway in the King and I and thought he was the most beautiful man -- in his sky blue silk costume and matching paisley-shaped eye make-up -- I had ever seen.  On another trip, I had tea with my mother in the Palm Court at the Plaza and wept continuously over my new and, at the time, entirely too short haircut.  I've seen the Statue of Liberty, taken a carriage ride through Central Park, attended the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show, eaten chestnuts from a street vendor, ridden in the jump-seat of old cabs, toured the wine cellar (a former speakeasy) at 21 and even looked out the windows at Windows on the World.  Oh -- and I saw a transvestite there for the first time when I was nine.  He was dressed entirely in pink, and I longed for a similar outfit.  Especially his shoes.  Pink Candies.  Remember those?

So while it had been quite some time since I'd been there, I had a notion of what the city was like.  But here are a few things I did not expect at all on this trip:

1.  That I would take the subway
2.  alone
3.  twice
4.  and not get mugged or murdered on it.
5.  Fresh fruit carts about every 2 blocks.
6.  Television screens in cabs.
7.  The relative ease of navigating the city.
8.  That I would agree to pay $6 for a bottle of water and a Diet Coke.
9.  Trees on terraces 40 stories up.
10.  The general chaos and sensory overload of Times Square.
11.  That I would try rice pudding, at my editor's suggestion, and really like it.
12.  That, in general, the people -- including the drivers -- are not rude, and there's no offensive "New York City attitude" so often portrayed on television.
13.  How quickly I lost the sense of intimidation I arrived with.
14.  How much I missed seeing green grass, making Central Park a soothing pleasure.

And now for the trip in selected pictures:
We arrived at 10 a.m., but our room was not ready until 3 p.m., meaning I was in the wrong shoes for the amount of walking we did that day, so this is me preemptively applying moleskin to my feet about 3 minutes after setting out to see the city.

Registering for the conference.
Tim in Times Square.
Irish pubs abound.  We didn't stop into this one, but I like the name -- if not how it's spelled.
Rockefeller Center. 
My first subway ride.  Tim took the picture.  The subway is NOT the place to hand total strangers your camera.
Little Italy.  We felt relieved to find it after getting slightly lost in Chinatown.
My outfit for the Champagne Reception for the RITA nominees, thank you, Ann Taylor.  Also, thank you, RWA, for the excuse to drink champagne in the middle of the afternoon!

Our first time to relax after 2 days there.  Dinner at Pane e Vino on the Upper East Side. 
Me in front of my publisher's building in Soho, the day after my meeting there with my agent and editor.  Tim had the camera that day, so I have no pictures. But we were in the neighborhood the next day, so I insisted on one shot in front of the building.

Tim in Greenwich Village underneath an awning that reads:  Red Bamboo, Vegetarian Soul Cafe.  We didn't dine there.

Classic.  Me, a writer, digging for a pen at bottom of my purse, which weighed -- I checked at home -- exactly 6 pounds.
The 59th St. Bridge.  As someone who listened to tons of Simon & Garfunkel growing up, I HAVE to do this . . .  bah dah dah dah dah dah dah . . . feelin' groovy. 

Tim and I right before the RITA Awards ceremony.

Me with YA author and last year's RITA winner for Best YA Romance Simone Elkeles.  Bad picture of me.  Good one of her.  She's a riot; her books are fabulous; I adore her!

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church.  Tim and I stumbled upon it on our self-guided walking tour of the Upper East Side, found it was not only open but Liturgy for the Feast of St. John Maximovich was in progress, so we went in and stayed until the end. 

Andrew Carnegie's mansion.  Could not wrap my head around the idea that this was once a single residence.

Yes, Tim took a picture of our feet.  Mine are the two covered in moleskin!

Tuesday, May 10

Ohioana Book Festival

Couple of photos from Saturday's Ohioana Book Festival.  We had our own YA section, and I had a ball with Lisa Klein, Sean McCartney, Kristina McBride, Tricia Springstubb and Linda Gerber.  Sean's display for SECRETS OF THE MAGICAL MEDALLIONS was brilliant.  It's partially visible in the top photo -- a treasure chest with gold beads and lovely, shiny trinkets to catch the eye and the imagination.  I just enticed people closer with that giant salad bowl there of Starburst, an idea I swiped from Kristina from Books By the Banks in Cincinnati back in September.

Saturday, April 2

The Saturday Seven

My Week in 7 Words

Falling behind.
Pad thai dinner party

Friday, March 25

The Rita Awards

About 90 minutes ago, I learned that I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE is a finalist in two categories for the Romance Writers of America's Rita Awards -- Best First Book and Best YA Romance -- and my hands have not stopped shaking yet.

From their website:

The purpose of the RITA® contest is to promote excellence in the romance 
genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas.

The award itself is a golden statuette named after RWA's first president, 
Rita Clay Estrada, and has become the symbol for excellence in published 
romance fiction.

And in the words of the lovely Tina Ferraro, whose ABC'S OF KISSING BOYS was a 2010 Rita Awards Finalist, "This is top honors in the romance writing world."  So naturally I'm a nervous wreck.  A grateful one.  An overwhelmed one, but both nervous and a wreck nonetheless.  I think I have more to say about this, but since I'm fuzzy-headed at the moment from too much adrenaline flooding my system, I'll have to write more later.

Tuesday, March 22

My 2011 Reading List . . . So Far

1.  The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons*
2.  The Fall of the House of Walworth  by Geoffrey O'Brien*
3.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
4.  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
5.  Slaughterhouse Five (again) by Kurt Vonnegut
6.  Cheerful Money by Tad Friend*
7.  Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh

Reading Now:
1.  Two Girls of Gettysburg by Lisa Klein
2.  Archie and Amelie by Donna M. Lucey*
3.  Second Sight by Cheryl Klein*

On Deck:
1.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
2.  Daughter of Boston by Caroline Healy Dall*
3.  Scoop by Evelyn Waugh


Saturday, March 19

The Saturday Seven

My Week in 7 Words

midweek party
more workmen

Monday, March 14

Monday's Reader Question

"Do you have another book coming out?"

Finally, I am able to say yes!  I wanted to wait until the ink was dry on the contract, which it is, so it's official.

KISSING MR. GLASER will be published sometime in 2013, but since the world is going to end in 2012, according to the Mayan calendar, no one but my agent, editor and husband will actually ever read this book.

I'm so irked with the Mayans.  They ruin everything.

But in the event they or their interpreters are wrong, KISSING MR. GLASER will be out in 2013, which sounds like a long time to wait, but I waited almost exactly 2 years between signing the contract for I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE and its publication, and, in retrospect, that time -- like all time, I'm finding -- passed very quickly.

In the meantime, I'm working on a third and will write more about that when, like KISSING MR. GLASER, I have something official to convey.  I don't use the word convey very often, but I like how it sounds here -- stiff, lofty and in keeping with the formality of legal contracts.  And speaking of contracts, I asked for a 'pony clause.'  If I sell X number of copies, the publisher has to buy me a pony, but that didn't make it into the final document.

Every year for Christmas, when I was little, I asked for a pony.  And every Christmas morning . . . no pony.

Quick Synopsis of KISSING MR. GLASER:  Brainy 16-year-old Josie Sheridan falls in love with a guy who falls in love with her older sister who is engaged to a man Josie hates.  When Josie's sister appears to return the feelings of Josie's love interest, Josie finds herself armed with the ammunition she has been looking for that will stop her sister's wedding.  But emotions cloud Josie's normally logical mind, and she  struggles to balance her feelings with her sister's.  At the same time, she must learn what to do when the person she loves might never love her back.

(Pre-order before the end of the world, 2012.)

Saturday, March 12

The Saturday Seven

(My week in 7 words)

It's official.  Second book contract is signed!

Friday, March 11

My Editor's New Book


From the website for SECOND SIGHT

Whether you dream of writing a book for children or young adults, or you want to take a finished manuscript to the next level, it always helps to get a fresh point of view. Try a little Second Sight.
In this collection of talks, a professional editor offers insights from the other side of the publishing desk on a wide range of writerly topics:
+ Terrific first lines and how they got that way
+ What makes a strong picture book manuscript
+ Why the Harry Potter series was such a tremendous success
+ Finding the emotional heart of your story
Worksheets and checklists for building characters and bolstering plot
+ The Annotated Query Letter from Hell
+ And an Annotated Query Letter That Does It Right
With its wit, intelligence, and practical tools for analyzing and revising your work, Second Sight will be a first resource for writers of children’s and young adult fiction.

Cheryl has what can only be described as a stellar reputation in the publishing world, and more than once, when I've told another writer or aspiring writer that she is my editor, the response has been,  "You are so lucky.  I would love to work with Cheryl Klein."  Naturally, of course, I was completely intimidated by her reputation when I began working with her, but I quickly discovered she has the loveliest combination of qualities -- a unique balance of brilliance, approachability, humor and talent -- and I soon found myself saying,  "I am so lucky.  I love to work with Cheryl Klein."  And when she said she was writing a book, I knew I wanted a copy before I knew what the topic was.  Fortunately, it's not about lima beans.  (See my post Personal Dictionary K-O)  But even if it had been, Cheryl would have made it warm and wonderful in a way only she can.
My copy is fast on its way from My Book Orders, and when it arrives -- after I read it -- it will go on the shelf where I keep books by authors I know, books I show off to friends at parties here as my own version of,  "I'm with the band."  
I was never with the band, but I think this is much cooler.

Saturday, February 26

My Own Personal Dictionary: Z

zero:  the number of times I have:

~ had a beer;
~ played a video game or watched a movie on my phone or computer;
~ eaten Chipotle;*
~ gotten a speeding ticket;
~ read a vampire novel;
~ seen the latest Harry Potter movie;*
~ enjoyed baby-sitting;
~ been tan;*
~ had a flu shot;
~ had a massage;
~ found staff meetings interesting;
~ celebrated Arbor Day;*
~ watched kittens being born;*
~ made really good fried rice at home;*
~ volunteered my crime solving skills to the police or FBI;*
~ successfully trimmed my own hair;*
~ written 'a lot' as one word;
~ understood those Cialis commercials where people are sitting outside in bathtubs;
~ lied about where I am from (hee-hee, Queenie, this one's for you)!

*but want to

Friday, February 25

My Own Personal Dictionary: U-Y

under-dunders:  what my grandmother called underwear

Virginia or, as they gorgeously say there, Vuh-gin-yuh:  where my step-dad (pay attention, Queen of the Universe) was from; location of the single hottest summer I've ever experienced, and also the place -- specifically the family's summer home's pool -- where I was taught by a blind man how to swim.

Williamsburg, VA:  stop number two on our honeymoon.  Spent three days successfully navigating through Washington D.C.  Got lost every single day in Williamsburg, Vuh-gin-yuh.

X: chi, the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet, Greek being one of 6 languages I've studied.  Not my favorite of the 6 nor my least favorite.  I like Spanish and Hebrew the best.  Latin was boring; Japanese was not; and French . . . I just could not make the soft, round sounds without feeling softly, roundly ridiculous.

yellow:  I'm told it's the color of the sun, but since it shines in Columbus, Ohio, only twice a year, I'm currently unable to attest, from memory, to the truth of this.

Thursday, February 24

My Own Personal Dictionary: P-T

Paul Revere:  most under-appreciated hero of the Revolution.  I spent the morning and evening of my 40th birthday hanging out at his house.  I've been to his house a lot, actually.  If he were alive, I'd be his stalker.

Queen of the Universe:  a person I am related to.  No, it's true.  I'm related to the Queen of the Universe who angrily disputes, as only the Queen of the Universe can, where I am from, as if I do not know.   I wrote about it during last fall's blog tour in an interview I did over at Reading Addict.  The nutshell version -- hee-hee, I said "nut" -- is this:  I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Therefore, I am from Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Lived there until I was nearly five.  Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The place I'm from.  Are you getting this?  Because the Queen of the Universe is not.

When Facebook asked me for my hometown, I wrote Grand Rapids, Michigan, using this classic mathematical formula:  If A is from B, and B is Grand Rapids, A is from Grand Rapids.
Fast forward to last year.  The Queen of the Universe saw this on Facebook, turned purple with rage, I'm guessing, and sent me a really malicious piece of e-mail in which she wrote,  “You’re not even from Grand Rapids.” There was more to the nasty-gram.  Also a friend request.  Once I scrunched the bemusement off my face, I chose not to respond to either.  I don't know what she's been up to lately, but I do wish her the very great satisfaction of one day crossing paths with someone who fabricates her place of birth so that said fabricator may be soundly punished and wholly reformed by . . . the Queen of the Universe.

Revere, Paul:  see P

Simon:  my husband's and my new kitten.  He'll be six months old next week, and he is a character!
Here he is getting his face kissed on the third or fourth day we had him;

seeing what's for dinner;
wiping off the counters;
taking out the trash;
washing the breakfast dishes;
and helping me finish my latest manuscript.

terrarium:  a source of both boredom and horror in elementary school.  Boredom:  Again?  We did this last year.  Horror:  feeding live crickets to disgusting little lizards.  Again?!  We did this last year!

Wednesday, February 23

My Own Personal Dictionary: K-O

Kate Middleton: Best wishes to the bride-to-be, and, yes, I cannot wait to see what her dress looks like. (I, by the way, gave up my desire to become a princess when I realized they no longer wore those pointy hats with scarves dangling from the tops.)

lima beans: the topic of the novel being written by a woman I met at a party. It's not a metaphor. Her book is about lima beans. And because I was raised with Episcopal good manners, I stood there, feigning interest, as she described the entire plot, chapter by chapter, of her book about, I repeat, lima beans.

Men Without Hats: Canadian 'new wave' group of the 80s, whose one and only hit, The Safety Dance, is the first song on my 'treadmill' playlist.

Nathaniel Hawthorne: (sigh) brilliant, favorite author on whom I have a lingering crush.

This is me, Oct. 16, 2007, hugging the house in Salem, Massachusetts, where he wrote The Scarlet Letter.

orange: the color of my legs for the first two summers sunless tanning products were on the market. I preferred it to my natural fish-belly white,but it was definitely in the oompa loompa spectrum.

Tuesday, February 22

My Own Personal Dictionary: F-J

frumpiness: "Cured of frumpiness by a psychiatrist . . ." So begins the description of the 1942 movie Now Voyager, which my husband and I watched eight or nine years ago. It doesn't rank among our favorites, and viewed through modern sensibilities, it's just plain odd, but "cured of frumpiness by a psychiatrist" cracked us up then, and it cracks us up now. Frumpiness -- the leading cause of admissions to psych wards in the 1930s and 40s. Who knew? Bunch of plain women shuffling grimly up and down the halls, in pleated skirts, high-collar blouses and beige, soft-soled shoes.

George Washington:
"He was the father of our country,
leader of a brand new nation,
and he believed in liberty."
Am I the only person in the world who remembers this song from elementary school?

hair: I wear it short, pixie short, for a bunch of reasons, but the predominant reason is my grandfather. He liked it short, and I trusted him more than anyone else in the world.

Indian restaurant: a place where my husband and I met.

J. Crew: the clothing store that keeps me from going out naked at least three times a week, because, clearly, the choice is J. Crew or nudity.

Monday, February 21

My Own Personal Dictionary: A-E

I thought I'd write a personal, albeit abbreviated, dictionary this week. Today: A through E

anxiety: the only reason I'm thin

bread: I bake all the bread we eat in this house, from scratch, not with a bread machine, but since I'm not Ma Ingalls, either, I do rely on my nifty KitchenAid stand-mixer to do the kneading. But I turn it on. And select the speed -- so, yeah, there's work involved.

cinnamon swirl bread: see B; made this loaf yesterday -- first time!

Don Johnson: read my first novel; hated it, but I get so much mileage out of the story, so, thank you, Don!

Erin: I like my name. It may be a compulsion, but every single time I meet someone with my name, I immediately say, "That's my name, too." I'm usually more excited than the other Erin.

Sunday, February 20

The Saturday Seven -- One Day Late

My Week in 7 Words

long walks
beach . . . sigh
cooked for 6

Monday, February 14

And The Winner Is . . .

SPLIT by Swati Avashti.

Of course I'm talking about the Cybils. The winner was announced today, making this the most happily anticipated Valentine's Day I've experienced in ages.

My husband and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day -- not in an iconoclastic way, because we're not remotely opposed to the holiday. We just got out of the habit of celebrating it. No, I adore the heart-shaped hopefulness of this day along with the cheery pinks and reds everywhere I go, brightening and warming an otherwise grey and dreary time of year here in Central Ohio. And it's still fun to hear how friends celebrate the day.

My husband and I used to exchange cards, but a few years ago, we both got so absurdly busy that we never got around to it and ended up greeting the cardless day with a shrug. So we shook hands and made that our Standard Valentine's Day greeting. (We have a No Flowers policy in this house since our cat thinks, "Hey! Salad in a vase. All right!")

I should add that we have invented and institutionalized our own holidays which each has traditions that are fun to us:

The Day Tim Proposed

Our Anniversary

Our Birthdays

Grandma McCahan Day

Paul Revere/Lexington and Concord Day

Jug Day

and . . .

Piss on a Bastard's Grave Day (No, seriously. No one actually pisses on a bastard's grave on this day, but we, by which I mean I, do pause to remember that famous bastard John Hathorne, who sent 19 innocent people to their deaths in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. He was one of the judges at the Witch Trials. I descend from the first Puritan woman accused of witchcraft, who lived through the mania, and the result is I, her progeny, have issues with people wholly committed to their own erroneous opinions for no other reason than that the opinions are theirs, despite masses of evidence of their error. And I work these issues out every May 10th, the day John Hathorne croaked, with a moment of silence for his victims followed by a good long raspberry to his eternal memory.)

So we do celebrate holidays in this house other than Valentine's Day, but the run-up to today was truly thrilling. I have not yet read SPLIT but will because all 6 of the Cybils YA finalists are on this year's reading list, and I'd be happy for any of us who won. There is an attitude, for the most part, I've encountered in the YA author community of collegiality, a spirit of unity, the idea that we're all in this together, and there's room for us all. And in that spirit, I am very excited for Swati Avashti and equally excited that I was on the list of nominees.

So, congratulations, Swati.

Happy Valentine's Day, Friends.

And to John Hathorne -- an early pfffffffffttttttttt!

Saturday, February 12

The Saturday Seven

My Week (or day, in this case) in 7 Words

Wow! What a day. Grateful for it.

Saturday, February 5

The Saturday Seven

My Week in 7 words

contract coming

Friday, January 28

10 Things I Don't Have . . . Yet

1. a Twitter account
2. pierced ears
3. tattoos
4. a single vampire book
5. a small dog or baby as an accessory
6. a smartphone
7. satellite radio
8. any kind of video game station
9. an e-book reader
10. a friend named Madison

Of all these, I think I want a friend named Madison most of all, just so I can have coffee with her and thoroughly discuss the origin of her name, which I believe to be the 1984 movie Splash! That or the fourth president of the United States. In either case, I like the name and think it would be a happy addition to my life.

Tuesday, January 4

The Cybils

I found this out a few days ago -- Jan. 1st, actually, when someone sent me a congratulatory note on Facebook (and, by the way, thank you, Mitali, for letting me know) -- and I still haven't wholly accepted the reality of it. In fact, I keep asking myself -- or that invisible person in the room I forever expect to answer in the negative whenever I address him -- really?

But since no one, real or incorporeal, has said just kidding yet, I thought I'd mention some INCREDIBLY EXCITING news here.

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE is one of seven (7) finalists chosen for the 2010 Cybils --Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards -- under the category Young Adult Novels.

Now, I sit at my computer in blue jeans all day -- blue jeans and an equally casual top, which probably goes without saying, but I did not wish to scandalize anyone with the thought of my half-nude workday. No, I couldn't even go topless on a topless beach since my padded bra top is the only thing that gives me an actual bust. But my mindset at the moment makes me feel as if I'm actually one of those evening-gown-clad starlets with gorgeous hair, borrowed jewels and expertly applied make-up, posing on a red carpet and telling reporters, "It's an honor just to be nominated." Because I can now honestly say it is.

The privilege of being mentioned with the other six finalists, all of us chosen from a long list of incredibly talented authors, took my breath away and likely always will. And that alone is a gift for which I will be eternally grateful.

But . . . wait . . . really?

The Seven Finalists for the 2010 Cybil, Young Adult Novels
SCRAWL by Mark Shulman
SOME GIRLS ARE by Courtney Summers
SPLIT by Swati Avashti
STOLEN by Lucy Christopher

Monday, January 3

First Blog of the New Year

I probably should blog more this year. I'll keep a running tally. (No, I'll keep a sporadic tally.) So -- here's 1.