Contest Update

First, you guys are awesome. Thirty comments! Thirty! I had no idea I’d get this kind of response. The contest is still open, and you can enter more than once, you can tell your friends, you can re-state your case, whatever.

I’m easy.

So while we’re waiting for midnight Friday (like I’ll be awake, so I’ll be posting the winners Saturday morning), here are some amusing things you might have missed around the Interwebs:

1) This is a hilarious post by Intern, about how author contests have gotten a little ridiculous with the follows and retweets and Facebook announcements, and you practically need an advanced math degree to enter. (Mr. Berry, those might be right up your alley.)

On a completely unrelated note, does anyone else find it kind of telling that the only two teachers with whom I’m friends on Facebook are my high school Calculus teacher, and my high school Physics teacher?

Yeah, me too.

2) This is a very cool Flash thingie that plays music based on which boxes you click. Just start clicking boxes and sit back and enjoy.

3) My K Teen sistah, Erica O’Rourke, has a new cover. Go check it out and leave your opinion in comments for a chance to win an ARC of her debut, Torn.

4) There’s a school district in Texas that’s considering switching to four day weeks as a result of budget cuts. Until my job lets me work a four day week (something to which I’d not be opposed), I’m not really a fan of finding someone to watch my kids on that extra off day. What do you guys think?

All right, that’s all I’ve got. Keep those book recommendations coming!


So I need a book recommendation

Yeah, I need something to read. (If you’re just here for the contest, skip all this crap and scroll to the bottom of the post.)

But the problem is, I’m pretty picky. I always cringe when people buy me a book as a gift, because … well, it’s just weird. It’s like getting lingerie from a casual acquaintance. A book is going to be intimate. I’m going to spend long hours of the night engrossed in it. It’s going to speak to something inside of me. I need to have a connection to read a book.

My husband learned this the hard way. He once bought me a book, before we were married. I still haven’t read it.

Someone gave me A Million Little Pieces or whatever it’s called, the James Frey book, for Christmas a few years ago, because they thought I would like an Oprah book. (I have never in my life watched one minute of the Oprah Winfrey show. I have nothing against it, at all. It’s just that my mother never watched, and I’ve been working full time since I was 18.)

Suffice it to say, Oprah’s stamp on a book means nothing to me. (Though I really did like The Deep End of the Ocean. Oh, and that other one, Where the Heart Is. But for both of them, I saw the movie, then read the book.)

Anyway, I need something to read. I do listen to book recommendations, and I do read reviews. So help me out here, guys.

Here’s what I like:

Right now I’m reading a lot of YA. I love YA books about boys — but if the author is a woman, the voice has to be right on. I read the book Beautiful Creatures, and though the writing was great (there’s a reason it’s a bestseller, and you should check it out), I just kept thinking that it was written the way a middle aged woman thought her son would think/speak, not the way he actually would.

(So, hi, I’m clearly addicted to italics in this blog post.)

Yeah, like I said, I love YA books about boys and how they interrelate with each other, with girls, with adults, with authority figures. I loved The Things a Brother Knows (a guy comes home from the military, and is nothing like the charismatic idol his younger brother remembers), and Right Behind You (an eight-year-old boy sets his next door neighbor on fire and spends seven years in a juvenile facility, only to be released into the real world in time to start high school), and Breathing Underwater (told in the first person POV of an abusive boyfriend).

I’m also a fan of paranormal YA, but I’ve gotten really picky here. I can’t think of the last truly amazing paranormal YA I’ve read, which is saying something. Wait, yes I can. Hex Hall. Here’s the funny thing about Hex Hall. I picked it up at the library. For me to check something out of the library, I basically have to be pretty sure I’m not going to like it — because I buy a metric ton of crap on my Kindle. I was kind of over the witch boarding school thing, but so many people kept liking this book that I was like, “OMFG, FINE. I will try it.”

And I loved it. Read it.

Wait, I keep recommending books. I need you guys to recommend some to me.

I love dark books, but it can’t be hopeless from the get-go. You know what worked about Living Dead Girl? (A book about a girl who was kidnapped by a pedophile when she was ten, and kept by him for years. The book opens when she’s 15.) The book starts when she sees a glimmer of hope at escape. The book doesn’t start with the kidnapping, when she’s got years of despair and hopelessness ahead of her. It opens when there’s the bare hope for escape. That’s what makes this deeply moving book so un-put-down-able. I read the entire thing in almost one sitting because I had to know if she was going to succeed in getting away from the most horrifying situation ever.

I’ve discovered I love romantic suspense, like Pamela Clare’s stuff. (I’ve loved every book of hers I’ve read.) I need more of that. Any recs?

I love adult urban fantasy, but seriously, if there’s a half naked girl with a weapon on the cover, I’m going to be hard pressed to pick it up.  I need a little femininity. (This is not a bash to the genre. Like I said, I love it. I think I own every Laurell K Hamilton and Kim Harrison book ever written. This is just me explaining what I’m looking for now.)

Paranormalcy Like Paranormalcy. You know what I love about the Paranormalcy cover? It’s perfectly feminine. You can tell she’s going to be a girl. But in the first chapter, she’s bagging a vampire with a taser. I mean, come on. That’s awesome.

I’m a little over dystopian. I have nothing against it in general, but I’ve read about four dystopian books back-to-back over the last few weeks, and I’m kind of done for a while.

Look, I said I was picky.

That’s what I’ve got. Any recommendations?

Hey, let’s make this a contest! If you can convincingly recommend a book to me and I choose to buy it, I’ll buy you one book I’ve mentioned in this blog post, or any other book of your choice, up to $15. 

You have until midnight Friday, and I’ll pick two winners. You have to convince me to buy it from your comment — no cheating and giving me a link to the Amazon page. It doesn’t need to be a full review either. Something like, “Two hot brothers are in a fight for the crown. The dialogue is awesome. No girls say the F word.” And I’m likely sold.

Ready, set, recommend!

On Vacay

So I’m in Las Vegas, on vacation before the baby comes. Really, I’m just here because Mike’s at a conference and I got to go along.

Here are some things that you’ve missed while I’ve been gone:

1) I got my first foreign rights deal. Holla, Indonesia! (Okay, in all honesty, I don’t even know what it means to say “Holla,” so I hope I’m using it right.)

2) I finished Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and it was amazing. Pick it up. (Especially you, Paperback Writer, if you haven’t already. I think you’ll love it.)

3) I set a goal to write 20 pages while we were here. I’ve written 4.

4) But I still have 24 hours left!

5) I won a poker tournament. A real one. Fifty people, $60 buy-in, the whole sche-bang. I even beat my husband.

6) I miss my little boy like crazy.

7) I watched my husband play a lot of craps. He’s very good.

8) I emailed the awesome fire chief with more questions, and he answered in like five seconds. I think the Kemmerer family will be making a nice donation to the fire house. 

That’s all I’ve got. What about you guys? What have I missed? Any good internet gossip? Any good news to share?

Clique Clack Boo

So, yeah, I’m going to talk about the YA Mafia.

I don’t usually jump into the middle of these things, because I’m busy, I’m pregnant, and I’m generally late to the party and my hair’s a mess. And most of the time, I don’t have a lot to say that someone else has said better already.

First off, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll sum up. There’s a bunch of talk rolling around the blogosphere and Twitter that cover a few different things. First, that there are killer cliques of YA authors who band together to smite aspiring authors. There’s also some talk about book reviewers getting blacklisted by YA authors and agents for things they’ve posted on the internet.

Here are some links, if you want to read what other people have said (or just to get a feel for the story).

Holly Black: YA Mafia and the Ruination of Careers

Justine Larbalestier: YA Mafias & Other Things You Don’t Need to Worry About

YA Highway: Field Trip Friday Special Edition: The YA Mafia

Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier are great writers, and both those blogs are worth reading, for more than just the YA Mafia stuff. I also enjoy the YA Highway blog, so check it out, too, if you’ve got time.

Here’s some irony for you: when I first heard the term “YA Mafia,” I thought it was a new blog or something. Seriously, I thought, that sounds like a cool group name.

A lot of these posts and blogs talk about whether there is such a thing, whether there are YA cliques, whether powerful authors have the ability to blacklist authors, whether YA writers really do band together and talk smack about the little people. A lot of talk. Really.

Here’s my talk: who cares?

Ten years ago, I learned a fantastic piece of advice that has become my mantra. Sure, I learned it from a woman who was addicted to prescription painkillers who later accused me of sleeping with her husband in a stall in a horse barn, but don’t let that take away from the absolute power of her statement:

You can’t change others. You can only change yourself. 

Let me tell you, this is my go-to mantra. If I have a problem with people, I say it to myself. I might actually mutter it through clenched teeth while my fingernails are digging into my palms, but I say it. And it helps.

First off, I learned really early that there will always be cliques. Always. What can you do about it? Nothing. When you’re outside the clique (especially a clique you want to be in), it’s really easy to feel hurt and disgusted and imagine that the people in that group are all mean and hateful and devoting their time toward your personal ruination.

Guess what? They’re probably not.

You know what else? When people fail at something, a lot of times, we want to look for excuses. It’s a hell of a lot easier to say we were blacklisted by a big agent than to think, “Hey, maybe I should take a look at my writing.”

Or to think, “Hey, maybe I failed.”

Here’s the thing: you can’t stop YA writers (or anyone else) from making friends. Sure, I see authors sharing private cover art on Twitter, or talking sorta secretly about inside information, and I immediately get that little gut clench that says, “I wanna know! I wanna be in your circle!”

But then I realize that I have conversations on Twitter all the time with Sarah Maas, and people are probably thinking the same thing about us.

Actually, considering our last Twitter conversation involved Sarah taking my eyeballs and keeping them in a jar on her desk, people are likely thinking we’re disgusting.

ANYWAY. I digress.

There’s also some talk about a book blogger who was forced to take down her blog, because she’d heard that it was going to hurt her potential for finding an agent or selling a novel. I feel badly that she felt the need to do that, but she made the choice to do it. No one forced her to. She couldn’t change the way other people were treating her, so she changed her blog and stopped reviewing books.

Look, people, from a mother, here’s another mantra: Life is full of choices, and sometimes they’re hard.

Sometimes I want to blog about something that happened at work. I’m deathly terrified that I’ll lose my job, so I don’t. (Buy lots of copies of ELEMENTAL in 2012, and maybe I can quit my job. Then I’ll share all the stories you want.) Sometimes I want to blog about my family, but I don’t want to put my husband in a compromising position, so I don’t. (My mother, however, is fair game.)

Sometimes I read a book that sucks, and I don’t talk about it.

The only person who can make or break you is you.

Here’s a little story. I once saw this guy on the news, crying about the fact that he was losing his home and his business. The government was seizing everything he had, and he didn’t know how he was going to provide for his family. A family who was used to high-end cars, a personal maid and butler, a huge mansion of a house. The poor, persecuted man. The big, bad government was after him.

Because he didn’t pay his taxes.

I didn’t feel any pity for that guy. He didn’t pay his taxes! I mean, come on! You can’t complain about someone coming after you, if you do something wrong in the first place.

I hope I’m drawing a parallel here, but just in case: if you openly trash people online, and they turn around and refuse to support you (or even actively bash you in return), well, you can’t really point any fingers, can you? I’m not saying it’s mature, I’m just saying you can’t be surprised when it happens.

Remember: you can’t change others, you can only change yourself.

You can’t stop the YA Mafia (seriously, I love the name. I want to join.) if it even exists. You can’t stop cliques. You can’t stop people from being friends. As my husband likes to say, you make your own stress. If you don’t like seeing authors interact on Twitter, stop following them. No, even better, go make your own friends and talk to them.

I have a three-year-old son, and I’m constantly telling him, “Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. Worry about what you are doing.” I used to teach riding lessons, and I would say it all the time to those teenagers, too. “But, Miss Brigid!” they would cry. “So-and-so is jumping three feet! Why can’t I jump three feet??” Then they’d make snarky remarks about the other girl. She’s nasty. She abuses her horse. Her parents buy her everything. She thinks she’s so much better than everyone.

Yeah, because being a bitch is going to get you to jump three feet.

Wrong. Riding better is going to get you to jump three feet.

When I sold my book to K Teen, I immediately went to see what other authors had been acquired by my editor for the same line. Did I look at their badass cover art and squish up my mouth and talk smack about them? Hell, no. I sent Erica O’Rourke an email and said, “We need to be friends.”

(And people, you need to put her book on your to-read list ASAP. It sounds insanely hot. One of the love interests is the main character’s bodyguard. I actually might need to break into Erica’s house and steal the page proofs.)

(Don’t tell her I said that. Just in case someone actually, you know, breaks into her house and steals page proofs.)

I know I’m dissolving into rambles. I just hate when people get fired up and get their feelings hurt online. Take a step back. Repeat that first mantra to yourself.

I can’t change others. I can only change myself.

It’s powerful. It helps.

Now go out there and make some friends of your own.


P.S. – I’m on twitter and Facebook. I’d love to be your friend. We can talk about extricating eyeballs all day.

The most fun non-writing writing-related thing I’ve ever done.

Ever play The Sims?

Yeah, I think it’s boring, too.

Then I decided to create a family of the characters in my novel.

Meet the Merrick brothers:

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to create twins before, but it’s tough, since each Sim starts with a random face.
Meet Nick and Gabriel.

Chris, the youngest brother, was swimming. Michael, the oldest, wants him to get dressed. There’s work to do.
But Nick and Gabriel convince everyone to play video games.

There’s a good chance I just made myself even more dorky.

I really didn’t think that was possible.

What’s the weirdest non-writing writing-related thing you’ve ever done?



When I was in grade school, I used to cheat on tests.

Wait, you’re getting the wrong idea. I didn’t cheat off of other students. I was a straight A student myself; I didn’t need to look at anyone else’s answers.

I let them cheat off me.

See, we moved every year. I went to a different school for every grade from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Every year. I was always the new kid. I never knew any differently.

Yeah, you’d think military family, but that wasn’t it. My dad ran nursing homes, and he was the kind of guy who would go into a nursing home that was close to failing state survey, he’d clean it up, hire people, fire people, get it in better shape, and then move on to the next one. Now that I’m in my thirties, I’ve heard some stories (from my now divorced mother) about how my dad just wasn’t happy anywhere and he just kept wanting to move, but I’m going to keep my illusions about the nursing home thing, thank you very much.

Anyway. Back to the cheating.

So you know what happens to new kids, right? They never have a best friend. They never have real  friends, period. I remember being in fifth grade, and starting a fledgling friendship with this one girl. We were eating lunch together, and we learned that our birthdays were one day apart.

I got all excited and said, “Isn’t that cool? Maybe we could have a birthday party together! My mom said I can have an ice skating party this year, and–“

She cut me off and said, “Yeah, I really don’t like you very much. I was just eating with you because the teacher said I had to be nice.”

I don’t think I ever talked to her again.

So when you don’t have any friends, and you feel like no one likes you, you can go in two directions. You can do what my brother did: spend your grade school years with a chip on your shoulder, full of knee-jerk reactions and defensive attitude. Or you can do what I did: anything you can to possibly make people like you.

When you’re a straight-A student, people want to cheat off you.

So I let them. All the time. Copy homework, look at my test, whatever.

Did this make me any friends?

Nope. But it bought me some refuge from the normal new-kid crap.

I did have sorta-friends while I was growing up. I mean every kid finds friends eventually. But mine were always the one-offs. The kids who were already outcasts from their class, so I naturally fit in with them. Maybe they were relieved to have a friend, too.

When I got to high school, I knocked that crap off. I went to a private, all-girls Catholic high school. It wasn’t like a feeder school, so everyone was new. There were all kinds of ice-breaking activities and Freshman orientation, and being a good student was a good thing, not something to make you an outcast. I had friends. Lots of them. We were geeks, sure, but we were friends.

And the funny thing was, I didn’t have to do a damn thing to get them.

I still don’t have dozens of friends. I’m not one of those people who goes out with a big group of girls for every occasion. I’d be hard pressed to come up with a big group of girls, honestly. I didn’t go to college for very long (that’s a story for another day), so I don’t have sorority sisters to hang out with. All my high school friends went off to college after graduation, and I started a corporate job, so our paths diverged somewhat.

I don’t want this to sound depressing. I’m a pretty resilient person, I can change gears on the fly, and I can get along with just about anyone. Really, anyone. It makes me very good at my job. I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for anything. I have an incredible mom, and I’m married to an amazing man.

When I sold the book and had my first conversation with my editor, she said something like, “You have a full time job and a toddler — how do you find the time to write books, too?”

I laughed and said, “I have a really supportive husband, and I don’t really have much of a social life.”

She laughed and said, “Well, you certainly have an active imaginary life in this book!”

I started writing in late grade school and early high school. I used to tell people that I couldn’t find enough books to read, so I just started writing my own.

But once my awesome editor said that, I realized maybe it was something else.

Maybe I started writing because I needed friends.

I mean, that paid off, right?

That chick who was “just being nice”? She can suck it.



All kinds of blogger fun

If you saw the redesign last night, you’re now seeing an entirely new one.

I just couldn’t deal with that much red. I’m more of a blues and greens kinda gal.

And in my first book, the main brother (Chris) can control water! Win-win.

So I finally gave up on using my Mac to create a website. It was just too confusing for me.

But hark! Blogger now lets me create pages! Look up there! ^^^

No, seriously, look. Now I have tabs! I don’t have a whole lot to say, but there are tabs up there. For reals.

(Why do kids say that? Why?)

I also registered a domain name. You can now locate my blog at If you already have me linked under the Blogspot address, have no fear. Google is here. (i.e., the links will still work.)

Like people link me all over the internet.

For months I’ve been thinking it would cost me an arm and a leg to register a domain name. Seriously, I thought it would cost hundreds of dollars to get a functioning, decent looking website.

You want to know how much this cost me?


That’s right. Ten bucks. I can drop that on lunch. I did yesterday.

(Shh. Don’t tell my husband. This guy in my office asked me to pick up lunch, but then I was 40 cents short, and I had to use the credit card, and…)

Look, you guys don’t care.

Anyway. New site name, new look … it’s almost enough to make me want to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe.

OH! When I bought the domain name, I lost all my sidebar links. I had to go recreate them manually. If I used to have your blog in my sidebar and it’s missing now, give me a smack on the wrist. Once they were gone, I had to go by memory to find them again. I’m not dealing with the most lucid mind right now (now I sound nuts), so forgive me if I left you off.


I hope you guys have a great day.

Personally, I’m counting down the days until I get to ride on a fire truck I get to do thorough novel research.


Can we say, “Life in flux”?

Hey guys, sorry for the recent absence. I know you’re desperate for bad internet dating stories, like the guy who wouldn’t remove his shirt (EVER.) or the one who proposed to me on IM, or the one who asked me if I wanted to step into the men’s room at The Melting Pot (I was 19 and naive and very much like, “Um, you mean like as a joke?”).

But those stories will have to wait until later.

Right now my life is in a huge state of flux. I have so much going on I’m not sure what to lead with.

So I’m going to have to keep it all to myself right now.

Dudes, can you go “Like” me on Facebook? Look! There’s a link right there! —>

(If that arrow doesn’t line up, pretend it’s someone else’s fault.)

In the interim, check out these awesome links:

This is just frigging hilarious and has nothing to do with writing:

This is why you need to be good at revising (even moreso than writing):

This is the dumbest name for a serial killer I’ve ever heard:

This site is a great place to get news, in a funny way:

And finally, I love this video so much, and it will mean even more if you’re married: