Tuesday, November 29, 2011

4-hour everything

(If you're one of the readers who complained about my proselytizing The 4-Hour Body, you'll want to skip this one. I recommend hanging out here, where things are guaranteed to be hilarious.)

I'm back on the slow carb train and already down 4 pounds in 4 days. Thanks to Tim Ferriss, I'm starting to like the number 4 even more. My synesthesia is okay with that, as it's 2+2, 2x2, and 2^2. But, more importantly, he has a new book coming out. It's all about cooking, learning, and kicking even more ass.

And we'll be buying it. You can pre-order it now for discounts wilder than wild horses.

(You can pre-order my book, too. It's currently 20% off at the Simon & Schuster website, but it probably won't help you lose any weight, unless you decide to go on an all-blood diet. Those Bludmen are rather svelte, I tell you.)

Ahem.

If you're into slow or no carb, here's one of my favorite recipes.

*

UNICORN BLOOD

Heat 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Add 1 packet of 100% stevia. Steep a Celestial Seasonings decaf Sweet Coconut Chai teabag for five minutes and squeeze all the chai goodness out of the bag.

You'll almost believe it's a real chai latte.

*

Back to your regularly scheduled unruliness.


Monday, November 28, 2011

the sleeper has awakened

A long, long time ago, I was immensely pregnant and preparing for motherhood.

But guess what? You can't prepare for that. For what it does to you. Huge, hormonal, sleepless, weepy, and, let's face it... kinda crazy. And not in a good way, at least for me.

I still remember buying two albums that summer: Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Plans by Deathcab for Cutie. I listened to Tell Me Baby so many times and so loudly that it was the only thing that would calm my daughter during her first, freaky weeks on earth.

Forget You Are My Sunshine, lady. Gimme Anthony Kiedis.

And then a magical thing happened.

After my daughter was born, I forgot about music.

Seriously. I listened to the radio in the car. I probably put in a CD here and there. But I didn't buy music until 2009, when my son was finally old enough to let me get more than five consecutive hours of sleep.

Until I woke back up.

I was in the car with both kids on a Sunday morning, and I heard this song.


It was unbelievable. Like nothing I've ever heard, except maybe Ravel's Bolero, but it was gritty and poetic and powerful and filled with longing and fury and things I hadn't felt in years. And I waited for the deejay to tell me who or what it was, but THEY DIDN'T, and so I was also infected with that same longing and fury. I went home and googled what little I could remember about the lyrics.

Midnight? Something about midnight? Standing near a streetlight?

CRAP.

I couldn't find it. I went crazy.

And then, oddly enough, Facebook crowdsourcing saved the day.

That song was Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event.

I bought that album. And then I bought Mumford and Sons. And the Civil Wars. And Iron & Wine. And The Veils.

That first Airborne Toxic Event Album? That's also when I started writing.

When I woke back up.

Last night, I saw The Airborne Toxic Event at the Buckhead Theater in Atlanta. It was everything I hoped it would be. They were more than incredible. They rocked every bone I have, and I screamed the words and thumped my feet and had little goosebump tingles just rippling all over my skin.

I saw Morphine in Athens in 1999. And then I didn't see another live show until this year. Now I'm hungry for it, for the pounding drums and the lights and the fury and the energy and the excitement and the poetry. I'm hungry to be there, live, watching people create something so powerful and moving. I have no music skills, but when I'm at a show, screaming the words to my favorite songs, it's as close as I'll ever come to being part of the magic.

And so I say to you, in the words of Paul Atreides,

THE SLEEPER HAS AWAKENED.

*

Saturday, November 26, 2011

the turkeys take on Savannah



I always wanted to take a carriage tour of Savannah.

Okay. To be more honest, I wanted to take a carriage tour and leap onto the back of the Percheron and cut the harness straps and take off at a gallop.

But I didn't want to get my amazing brother-in-law and fabulous niece in trouble, so I stayed in my seat.

Most of the time.

It was marvelous, you know. I highly recommend the fantastic tour guides, comfortable carriages, and gorgeous horses of Historic Savannah Carriage Tours, and especially with the Dread Pirate Robert or his daughter Becca as your guide.

He dresses in character, knows all the best stories, and even brings a sidekick.


That's Noah.

On Thanksgiving, I got to chew on the toes of his brother, Oliver.

Or at least that's what it looks like.


Um, why am I smoking that parrot?

Anyway, the entire family enjoyed our private tour with niece Becca at the reins, which included a trip to Starbucks, a stop at a gourmet cupcakery, a quick drive-by of Santa's carriage, a complete tour of the settings in the YA book I'm revising, and a meeting with a mummified squirrel named Isaiah.

Yes, that's right. I ate CUPCAKES on a CARRIAGE with a PIRATE and his PARROT.


Pistachio cupcake with almond buttercream icing. Not my best photo, but I had just spent two days in the car and a hotel room with my children, so you're lucky fire wasn't billowing out of my nostrils.

Also, the kids had a fabulous time.


The boy wore his pirate hat and proclaimed it the BEST DAY EVER.

Of course, the night before, he proclaimed the walk to the hotel carrying his backpack the BEST THING EVER, so I wouldn't really trust his taste.

The girl was also over the moon.


And the views were gorgeous.

It was the perfect day. Perfect weather, perfect temperature, perfect company.


Hello, Spanish moss. Hello, pretty buildings.

Hello, people who gawked at the carriage full of pirates and parrots and laughing girls.


I figure we were a pretty good advertisement. Anyone who saw us would think we were having THE TIME OF OUR LIVES.

Which we were.

I was an only child, unless you count the Boston Terrier we got when I was 11. But now, I have a brother and a niece, and it is FANTASTIC, because they are SO COOL.


Not only did I manage to marry my favorite person, but I also married into a family almost as strange as I am.

So that's a good Thanksgiving.

I have a lot to be thankful for. But especially pirates and fine adventures.

*

Friday, November 25, 2011

best. day. ever!


See that?


Why am I with a pirate on a carriage?

It's a good story. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Cupcakes, parrots, and zombie squirrels feature prominently. Promise.

*

Thursday, November 24, 2011

a tree of turkeys

For Thanksgiving, I found 3 turkeys in a tree:


Today, I'm grateful for loving family, great friends, and a wonderful life.

Here's to living the dream!

Happy Turkey Day, y'all!

*

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

now we are 3


At this exact moment in 2008, I was the only ponderously pregnant person sitting in the theater for the opening night of a little movie called Twilight. Surrounded by screaming fangirls and one tremendously embarrassed boy, I began having contractions.

Unfortunately, my water didn't break during the movie and send them all running away, screeching.

Fortunately, the next day, this happened.


"It's okay if he's kind of an uggo," we said. "He'll grow out of that, right?"

Um...


Maybe?

Fast forward to three years later.

He's about to be three.

THREE.


Looks like he's out of that awkward phase.

*

Happy Almost Birthday to my favorite goofball,
the guy who gives the best hugs ever,
and who is also very strong because of his muscles.

When you were nine months old, I came out of my mom-coma and started writing. I haven't stopped since. Now I have a book coming out next spring.
Something tells me it's going to be a lot easier to push out into the world than you were.

Thanks for stretching my mind, son.

But most of all, thanks for the hugs.

*


Monday, November 21, 2011

on character


The sass. The double leopard print. The stance. The stare.

My daughter already has more style at 5 than I do at 34, and I love it.

I've been thinking a lot about character lately. I think it's been missing in a few of my books. I fall in love with an idea, and I frantically bang out the book, and I revise, and I juggle drafts back and forth with beta readers and my agent. And one problem keeps coming up.

The characters aren't real enough.

It doesn't matter how much you like the story if you don't love the characters. It can be the best road trip in the world, but if the person driving is boring as hell, who wants to go?

So I've started really trying to think hard about making my characters real. It's not enough to have blond hair and brown eyes. I need to know if their fingernails are square or round, how they hold their fork, what they think about reality TV, when they learned that Santa wasn't real. They need to be as real as people.

Part of the struggle, I think, is that I have always been so scared about being liked. As a child, I found it hard to make friends. I didn't want to be too weird or too loud or too smart or too this or too that, because I was afraid someone wouldn't like that about me. Only recently have I been able to more fully accept my quirks... and my faults.

Characters have to be like that. An absence of traits doesn't make them more likable or inoffensive; it makes them bland, and the reader feels that lack, that place where the writer holds back. Characters have to have flaws, and they have to mess up. They have to be like us, like real people, a conglomeration of good and bad and strange and gross and annoying and funny. They have to have weird stories from when they were six and almost blinded themselves with a bullwhip.

There's a certain level of fearlessness involved, for the writer. You have to give up that fear that someone isn't going to like your character. Because guess what? No matter how great someone is, there's still someone out there that can't stand them. And the characters that I've loved best have been just as broken as the real people I love best.

So that's my assignment: Spend more time crafting characters with depth.

When I was younger, I thought I knew everything.

Now I'm pretty sure I don't know squat.

But that's part of my character, too.

*

Saturday, November 19, 2011

twinge


Guess which movie we saw last night?

That's right. The very erudite one about a king with a stutter who falls for a mute woman battling cancer on the brink of war.

It was awesome.

*


Friday, November 18, 2011

looking at my day




I think that sums up my feelings about today. Here's a rundown:

* wake up at 6:11

* grumble

* drink coffee

* moar coffee

* drive to bus stop barefoot

* deliver other child to preschool, where his Native American name for the Thanksgiving Feast
will be "Indian Bear" and decide it's not worth fighting about

* enjoy a cinnamon roll and coffee at a haunted restaurant

* send an email to a lawyer acquaintance requesting book research help on proper wording for legally killing debtors

* learn they have blocked Facebook on their wireless for being "inappropriate"

* get all pissy over censorship and vow to complain loudly later, on Facebook

* get a haircut to cut off all the green but then don't actually cut it all off

* pick up Indian Bear and have lunch with Grandma Indian Bear

* pick up other child at the bus stop, where she honestly and without irony asks me WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? NO, REALLY? NO ONE WILL TELL ME.

* return home to complain about censorship and do 1000 things

* only accomplish 2 of those things

* sit anxiously in front of the computer until it's time to go see... an intellectual movie about... not vampires

* realize that I have 1 book to beta, 3 books to revise, 1/2 a book to write, and a really fantastic book to read

* it's by Meljean Brook, and it's called Heart of Steel, and it's the sequel to The Iron Duke, a steampunk romance so fantastic I actually named my car after it

* decide to ignore all the other stuff and just go read

* also, I'm hungry

* and I forgot what this list was about

* so I'm sure that's a big surprise

*


New haircut:
It's the same as the old haircut,
but with half an inch of teal on the bottom.

*


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ohmygodineedthat


Hell has frozen over, and monkeys are flying out of Wayne's butt.

I saw a perfume ad in a fashion magazine and said,

OHMYGOD; I NEED THAT.


For the love of all that's holy, not the actual perfume, as commercial fragrances tend to smell like burning plastic and drunk baby whores to me.

I want her necklaces.

I'm actually kind of obsessed with them, with that look. Like when I was in middle school and thought that if I just found the right t-shirt, I would be popular.

I never found that shirt, which is why I NEED THOSE NECKLACES, PEOPLE.

I think Ive found the nuggety one, but the tasseled one with the stars is utterly eluding me. I've been all over Etsy, Modcloth, eBay, Anthopologie, Polyvore, Shopstyle, Free People, and Urban Outfitters, and I can't find it.

Any other places I haven't looked?

*

Monday, November 14, 2011

tumbling

Serendipity.

In one of those amazing moments where the universe aligns just right, I fell in love with five photographs on tumblr this morning.
The story is already forming in my head.
The next seed arrived early.

The next book is a YA, codename TUMBLING.








*

Sunday, November 13, 2011

in which I get very blue. blueish.


The problem with being terribly vain about your long, dark hair is that you spend your life being too chicken to do anything drastic with it. No crazy colors. No wacky strips. Nothing that involves-- GASP!-- bleach.

Until today.


Today, I went to Sally's and bought a Manic Panic bleaching kit.

Man, oh metal man, does that stuff reek.

But now I have teal hair.

In the immortal words of Sterling Archer, JUST THE TIPS.



It's a little more teal/less green than it seems in the pictures.

I'm not sure what possessed me to do it. Much like the Great Nose Ring Debacle of 2009, I just decided it needed to be done and did it. That was green, too, now that I think about it.

I've always had an impulsive streak, and I very rarely regret the things I do... just the things I wanted to do and didn't.

Now, I wish I had played with odd hair colors years ago.

Now, I'm just thankful to be at a place in my life where I don't care all that much about being judged for wearing a silly hat or a dramatic cape or putting teal streaks in my hair.

Now, I'm going upstairs to read a steampunk YA book I've been waiting to enjoy.

Now, if you like blue hair, you should go read DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor and then head out to Sally's. What have you got to lose?

They have purple and pink, too.

*

Friday, November 11, 2011

author pic outtakes



So I thought I would share some of the outtakes of my author photo shoot. Not the really, seriously awful ones. But just the ones that crack me up. Like when I was rolling my eyes in a graveyard.

Like, OMG, GHOSTS. WHATEVER.



Or cracking up against a column.

That's what I look like in real life, most of the time.

Except for the column. It's not like I carry it with me for special occasions.



Or maybe I do. But where are my shoes?

WHERE ARE MY SHOES?


Whoa. Too much gum. Way too much gum.

But putting my elbows on top of freezing columns makes me SO HAPPY.

Seriously. It was about 30 degrees and windy, and that shirt was made of... um, fake silk. Like spiderwebs. Bright purple spider webs. Next time, I need to wear a cape.


More laughing. I mess up lots of shots by laughing.

I'm supposed to be serious and important, right?

Someone suggested I borrow a spaniel and a turtleneck for author photos.

But have you ever tried to get a spaniel into a turtleneck? IMPOSSIBLE.



I think that one's my favorite. Weird monkey toes. bad angle on the shirt that makes me look pregnant. Apparently giving a speech about something.

FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN THINGIES AGO, STUFF HAPPENED. WANT TO KNOW MORE? BUY MY BOOK. IT INVOLVES VAMPIRE RABBITS AND CARNIVAL FREAKS.

THE END.

*



Thursday, November 10, 2011

PIGBOTTOM!


All day Monday, my son carried around a pink rubber pig from the Dollar Bin at Target.

"PIG BOTTOM SHOW YOU HIS BOTTOM!" he would shout, shoving the pig's pink bottom in my face as I did work or wrote on my book, pretending to be very serious.

"AWESOME," I would answer. "PLEASE TELL PIG TO TAKE HIS BOTTOM ELSEWHERE."

I told Twitter about this phenomenon, and Twitter responded as expected.

Pics or it didn't happen.

So my reputation was on the line. I had to find him.

He was gone.

We spent two days looking for the elusive PIGBOTTOM.

me: Son, where is Pigbottom?

son: He is napping. He is HIDING.

me: Yes, but where is he napping and hiding?

son: Pigbottom does not know where he is. It is a secret.

me: Yes, but do you know?

son: NO. He won't tell me.

Etc.

So what appeared in my face this morning?


PIGBOTTOM.

"Where did you find him?" I asked.

"He find hisself," son said.

"Where, though?"

"Behind the bookshelf. Where he live. Pigbottom like books."

A pig after my own heart.

*

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

sometimes, I get frustrated.





That, followed by this.



50k into the WIP, a YA early dystopian called PAYBACK.

I will now fight my frustration with words.

*


Monday, November 7, 2011

PSA: dirty pool at JustFabulous

You guys might remember these fabulous skull shoes by Iron Fist-- scroll down to drool.

I love them. I love almost everything Iron Fist produces. And that's why I joined a boutique deal site called JustFabulous. They had Iron Fist shoes for about 50% off.

Of course, the first round sold out by the time I got there. Yet, oddly, all of those Iron Fist shoes are still listed on the site, despite being totally gone. Frustrating, right?

When a new selection popped up, I bought the sugar skull heels immediately. Shipping was quick, I had a first-timer discount, and I was super happy with my shoes.

That should be the end of a happy story, a satisfying online purchasing experience.

But it's not.

Today I received an email saying that I had a credit for $39.95.

My initial thought was, "Yay! Maybe a friend signed up or something. I earned a credit!"

Further investigation revealed that they had simply charged my credit card as if I had purchased something. Now, one frustrating Facebook conversation and a few lame Twitter messages later, and their sneaky tactic is revealed.

If you don't go to their website in the first five days of the month and click a mysterious little box that says "Skip This Month," they automatically charge your card.

Granted, you have an entire year to spend that "credit". And it's frightfully easy to show up and click that button, once you've found it and provided you remember to do so during the first five--and arguably most busy-- days of the month.

But up until the email, I had NO FREAKING IDEA that in purchasing one pair of shoes, I had signed up for this "credit" service.

I DON'T WANT IT.

There was never a chance to opt out. I never read any message about it. And of course, as they keep telling me, it's there in the FAQ. But honestly, should I have to go read a FAQ to purchase a single pair of shoes? Did I give them permission to retain my credit card number, something I *never* do when online shopping? The answer, in my mind, is an unequivocal no. There was no box to check or uncheck; me giving them my credit card number became my unwilling compliance.

And that is not cool.

JustFab, you can tell me again and again to read your FAQ, but the point isn't that you're right and I'm wrong. It's that you use a sneaky trick against your customers, and now I don't want to do business with you.

Intead, I want to tell all 1500+ of my Twitter friends and 380+ of my Facebook friends about my bad experience.

Much like the BMG music scam that made my life hellish for three months in college, I became a victim because I didn't read the fine print and just assumed I was buying shoes. Fool me once, shame on you. You won't fool me twice.

And that's why I'm going to quit being furious about being taken advantage of and go write my book about what would happen if the fine print you sign for credit cards gave the bank the right to kill you.

They make fine print impossibly small and hard to decipher for a reason, folks.

*

Update: They called to apologize, further explain the FAQ, and offer a refund. I accepted the refund. I still do not agree with the business tactic, but I appreciate their attempt to make things better.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

we interrupt this picspammery with toilet humor


me: Son, why are you throwing pretzels in the toilet?

son: To keep my poops company.

me: Buddy, there aren't any poops in the toilet.

son: They coming soon. They waiting for the pretzels to get there, first.


*

me: Hey, Goose!

daughter: DON'T CALL ME GOOSE. I AM A SWAN.

me: Hey, Cygnet!

daughter: I AM NOT A CIGARETTE.

me: No, dude. A cygnet is a baby swan.

daughter: You can't prove that.

*

son: One day, I will put you on a hook and the crane will take you up so so high, and then you cannot come down.

Krog: Why would you do that?

son: So I can rescue you.

*

Back to picture ogling and whatnot. I said I would decide tomorrow.

Eep.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

zoom out


This choice?

IMPOSSIBLE.

Monday. I'll decide Monday.

Because I'm PROCRASTINATING.

Until then, here are the full-color, uncropped versions
of the images between which I'm trying to decide.

1.


*
2.


*

3.


4.


5.


*

Now I just need to write a book awesome enough to get my pic in full color. =)

*

Friday, November 4, 2011

so this girl walks into a graveyard...


...and has her picture taken.

Can you help me decide which one to use as my author photo?

These are all cropped down small and would appear
in the back of my book in black and white.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Which one should I choose?

1.

*

2.


*

3.


*

4.


*

Thoughts?

*

All images courtesy of Simon Effendi of Artistic Moments Photography in Roswell, GA. He does fashion, head shots, weddings, and family photos. Highly recommended!

*

Note:
#4 was kind of bothering me. It was pretty... almost too pretty. So I compared it to the original, and it's been doctored to make me, to be honest, prettier than I really am. Simon is super talented, because I'm just not that smooth and young.
So I wanted to put up the real #4, which is more honest and raw.
More me.

*
ANOTHER NOTE:
Replaced the beautifully airbrushed versions of 1 and 4 with the real me.
I... like my smile lines.
And Simon's photography is just phenomenal.

*

YET ANOTHER NOTE, BECAUSE I'M ALL ABOUT REVISION:
Here's #5. I didn't put it in because it was all handsy, but it's growing on me.

5.


WHY IS THIS SO HARD?
That's what she said.
*

Thursday, November 3, 2011

confessions from the bar(re)

I once dreamed of growing up to be a ballerina.

And that hope died when someone told me, at a very young age, that I didn't have the right body type, which is a nice way of telling an eight-year-old that she's overweight. Thanks, Jean!

But I got over it. Still, one of my favorite rainy day movies is Center Stage, which chronicles the lives of young ballerinas at the American Ballerina Academy in NYC.

Can I relate to most of what happens in this movie?

HELL, NO.

Being thin, being an amazing dancer, going to a special school in a magical city, riding on the back of a handsome stranger's motorcycle, hanging out with Zoe Saldana on a ferry... not my life.

But I had a needlessly difficult day today, the kind where you doubt yourself and doubt the world and end up devouring your kids' leftover Halloween chocolate and thinking, "WHY DO I CARE SO MUCH? I'M JUST SUPPOSED TO WONDER AROUND, EATING FRUIT OFF OF TREES AND KILLING SMALL ANIMALS TO MAKE A SHIRT. I'M JUST A DAMNED DIRTY APE WITH AN ENORMOUS HEART, AND NOTHING IS ACTUALLY WRONG, AND THIS IS RIDICULOUS."

And the same thing kept coming to mind, every time I started the downward spiral. This quote, from Center Stage, which I haven't seen in a year, since my VCR broke.

"You don’t like him very much, do you? I don’t blame you. He’s impossible. Headstrong, egotistical, arrogant as all hell. The thing is, you’d be hard pressed to find any choreographer or company director who isn’t like that.

The unwise dancers blame them; “He didn’t like me, she was unfair, I should’ve had that part.” The smart ones know where to look when things get rough.

It isn’t there. (Lays hand on barre) It’s here.

No matter what happened in class, in performance, last week, five minutes ago. If you come back here, you’ll be home."


And so I came home, to my barre, by which I mean my writing. I've written 8 pages today on the newest book, a YA quasi-dystopian. Writing is my escape, my comfort, my drug. When I'm making up stories, I'm not worrying or overthinking or feeling sorry for myself. I'm being the root of who I am, and it feels good.


I'll never be a ballerina, but I can dance with words.


*


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

a few of my favorite things


I had author photos taken last Saturday by long-time photographer friend Simon Effendi of Artistic Moments Photography in Roswell. Simon has been shooting me since 2005, and he never ceases to amaze. Although I just got the disk today and he hasn't had time to perfect the shots, I just had to share the photo above.

It will never make it to a book cover, but it includes three of my very favorite things: my sugar skull heels, my lucky owl necklace, and my beloved car, The Iron Duke, named for the steampunk romance by Meljean Brook.

No wonder I'm smiling, even though it was about 30 degrees and my nose was falling off.

*

In a couple of days, I'm going to count on you guys to help me choose which photo to use. And, if you're lucky, I'll show you a couple of the hilarious outtakes, although I don't think Simon caught the one where I knocked over a tombstone.

*


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

take cover!


No, really. Take one. They're like tarot cards.

Except that they all tell the same fortune.

And I can't tell it to you until next March.

*

These are cover flats, which I didn't even know existed until I learned that they were beautiful, shiny, and on their way to my house. They are basically a replica of the exact book cover, down to colors, words, ISBN, and the deliciously raised-up letters, and they are often used for marketing purposes. I'll definitely be taking them to a few of my local indie bookstores.

But what to do with the rest of them?

First, I snuggled them.

Then, I took the above picture and put it on my Facebook author page.

Then I thought about placing the cover flats in the bathtub and rolling around in them naked, like Scrooge McDuck.

Then I thought about how I would inevitably have to take pictures of that or no one would believe me, and the pics would get around to my family, and I would have to clean the bathroom first, and, yeah, NO.

Then I thought about making a dress with them. I nixed that when I remembered about paper cuts.

So I ask you guys: What do I do with these cover flats?

*