Friday, December 11, 2015


Y'all!! I have waited so long for the moment when it was time to reveal the final cover for IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, which is coming on 5/17/16 from Soho Teen/Penguin Random House !!

But finally, I can show you and more. In fact, it was revealed yesterday in an exclusive on, with an interview that the brilliant E. Lockhart did with me and two sneak peek chapters! Yes, that REALLY HAPPENED!! Here's the link:

IWALT is Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars. Thriller. Murder mystery. Fairy Tale. Accidental Immortality. Star-crossed romance. A forever seventeen year old girl who won't give up the search for the boy she loves. Yeah, I know! Everything we love all in ONE BOOK!

The cover's in the EW piece but I can't stop looking at it, so here's the gorgeous cover:

I am so excited to introduce you all to Emma and Charlie and their wildly romantic story!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

That Time I Went to McAllen Book Festival

I don't know why I have never been down to what we in Texas call the Valley, but until this weekend, I hadn't. I didn't know what I was missing. I was missing amazing people and amazing food and landscape that was clearly different than where I lived. A library created in what had been a Wal-Mart- turning a consumer concrete jungle into a gorgeous space for people to read and create and research and learn and listen and even eat!

Let me say it right here: I love McAllen, Texas and all its surrounding cities! I had the best school visit at Fossum Middle School. I got to work and visit with amazing librarians, including Mary Rodriguez and Elizabeth Hollenbeck and Dawn Rapoza! And mostly I got to talk books, books, books, with adults and kids and everyone in between. Plus the best Mexican chocolate mocha latte I've ever had.

A few pictures for you:
Paneling with Jennifer Ziegler and Lindsey Lane

talking books with Lindsay Cummings and Chris Barton and lots of people!

A chamoy Margarita. 

Enchiladas Poblanas with mole sauce.

Fossum Middle School super librarian Mary Rodriguez

Even Gale likes reading FINDING PARIS

McAllen Library with Lindsay Cummings and Ray Villareal

Carolyn Flores teaches me and Lindsay how to draw a frog.

That time everyone wanted an arc of IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS! 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Five for Friday! And IWALT Bookmarks!

So Soho Press is still keeping the cover for next year's  IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS under wraps as best they can. ARCs are sneaking into the world to early readers/blurbers, and the come January to everyone else. But they approved these awesome bookmarks, created by my friend and writing partner Kristin Rae!

Yeah, they're pretty awesome and they hint so nicely at the cover while still not giving it away, so look closely! Very excited!

And in #2, a quick photo recap of last week's Texas Book Festival which was supremely awesome and such an honor to be part of!

Catching some sun with capitol behind us with me, A.G. Howard, Cory Putnam Oakes, Mari Mancusi, PJ Hoover

Our Blood is Thicker than Water panel in the signing tent: me, Heather Demetrios, Renee Watson

And yes, that is Margaret Atwood. 
Meeting fellow Soho author and all around awesome author and human and very tall guy, Adam Silvera

3. It is still summer in Houston. It should move on to Fall. Like NOW.

4. Looking forward to Comic Con Austin and then McAllen Book Festival and then some time to just write, write, write.

5. And between all the above and a brief jaunt to Florida to just hang on the beach in Ft. Walton where it's just you and the white sand and the birds and the sea turtles and it's heaven, I am also now getting better from strep throat/sinus infection. But yeah, it was worth it! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review: SAY WHAT YOU WILL by Cammie McGovern

As soon as I heard Cammie McGovern talking about her books at Houston's Blue Willow last week (she was touring with Julie Murphy), I knew this was an author who should have already been on my radar and somehow wasn't. It happens, I know. So many books; so little time. But I grabbed a copy of SAY WHAT YOU WILL, her debut YA title from 2014 and took it to the beach with me this past weekend and promptly devoured it.

SAY WHAT YOU WILL is about many things: Friendship. An over-protected but brilliant girl whose cerebral palsy traps her in a body that she accepts and tries not to let define her but which doesn't let her have the physical freedoms that would make life easier. A boy with OCD, whose fears and anxieties trap him as well. A star-crossed romance. The good, the bad, the ugly of living in this world -- of loving and losing and making mistakes and pulling yourself up. The difficulties of overcoming perceptions and fears. The terrible things we sometimes do to the people who love us, often because we don't love ourselves enough first. How hard and miraculous it is to find someone who truly 'gets you.' About how easy it is to mess up and miss opportunities to find your tribe, your people. And as main character Amy calls one of her favorite themes (and it's one of mine, too!): Oddballs finding each other. It is not by accident that Amy's favorite book, referenced more than once in the novel, is Tell Me You Love Me, Junie Moon, the story of three misfits who meet in a hospital.

This is a beautiful, beautiful book. It is gorgeously written, gentle and thoughtful. Amy and Matthew are as imperfect and damaged yet perfect and wonderful as any two characters I have ever read. Their story broke my heart, pieced it back together, then broke it again and eventually let me know that while a happily ever after might not in their future, their story is not over. First love is like that. It is often painful and intense and confusing and wonderful and awful all at the same time.

McGovern creates fully rounded characters in SWYW. The reader learns exactly what it is like to live with CP or OCD; their disabilities are deftly drawn in ways that don't always happen in novels. But be sure: this is not an 'issue' book, although in less capable hands it could be. It is real and heartbreaking and encouraging and one of the best books I've read this year, YA or other. I cannot wait to dig into McGovern's newest book,  A Step Toward Falling, just out from Harper Teen.

I'm sitting here looking for a quote to end this review and I'm feeling teary-eyed again in the best of ways just flipping through the pages of this wonderful, wonderful book! And here's your quote, from near the end, but it doesn't ruin anything, just gives you a sense of the words:
"They sat like that for a while, hands intertwined on top of the book. If he spoke, he knew his voice would betray him. It would crack and break and he'd start to cry. So they stayed just like that, as the light through the window drained from the sky."

For more about the brilliant Cammie McGovern, go to

Thursday, October 1, 2015



MY bonus Rafflecopter Giveaway is on for another few hours so scroll down and enter!

And as a bonus for stopping by this leg of the tour, I am giving away a set of my SWEET DEAD LIFE series!

Just enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below! I will let you know if you are the winner once YASH is over!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Coming on 10/1 is the FALL YA SCAVENGER HUNT!

To see the rest of the teams go HERE !

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fall Five for Friday

It's fall, although the Texas weather doesn't believe it. We're still in the 90s and although we had a taste of cooler weather a couple weeks ago, temps have hiked back up and now it's an endurance contest.

But in hopes of that still elusive blue norther, I give you five of my favorite fall things:

1. Sweaters, hoodies, sweat shirts, jackets. Yeah, I'm in love with outerwear. I really am. I'm having a love hate thing right now with the ponchos that have returned to the racks. I like them in theory. But it's an awkward thing to wear. Pretty if you're standing up. Meh if you're walking and it's twisting around.

2. Boots. I love boots. Moto boots and cowboy boots and tall boots and well, boots. It's no wonder that Jenna Samuels in my Sweet Dead Life series loved her red cowgirl boots.

3. Pumpkins in general, and gourds and leaves that turn color. Last year we actually got fall color here, which was honesty thrilling. But pumpkin spice everything? Including pumpkin spice lattes? Not so much. A real pumpkin. Yes. Pumpkin frosting and middles of Oreos? Nope.

4. Texas High School Football. Friday Night Lights for real. Absolutely nothing like it. Professional football pales in comparison. it really does.

5. The Renaissance Festival and cooler air and dare I say it? Being able to open the windows and have an actual breeze slip in.

What do you like about fall?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Five People I Love Today

Gonna be hard to keep it to five. But let me squoosh some together:

1. The guy who fixed my pineapple lamp (it was the socket) and made it work all spiffy again. I LOVE my pineapple lamp. And I was sad that it was all blinky. Now it is PERFECT. And the lady, in the same store, who waxed eloquent on the subject of bathroom lighting ("think of it as the jewelry. Pick your faucets first, then your mirrors, then your lights"). Well who knew? And so project master bath is actually moving forward and who knew I could be so excited about countertops?

2. Entrepreneur/author Bethenny Frankel because she is knows how to reinvent and knows her flaws and her strengths and even if you are reading this and scoffing about 'reality TV' let me say that she inspires me to get it done, to believe in myself, to pick up the pieces when I fail, to keep a keen eye on the world's absurdities, and  to laugh because laughter is awesome. 

3. Julie Murphy for writing DUMPLIN' and for telling the world that women can take up as much space in this world as they want or need to. 

4. Colleen Thompson, who writes kick ass romantic suspense (among many other genres) and who also does a lot to keep my head on straight and remind me to keep my eyes on my own work because that's the only thing I can control!

5. And all the team at Soho Press, with whom writing books is an honor and a pleasure. Soon they will start giving you sneak peeks at next year's IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS and I can hardly wait! Here's a little teaser description: Part thriller, part murder mystery, part fairy tale in the vein of Tuck Everlasting, comes a story of accidental immortality, star-crossed romance, and a forever-seventeen-year-old girl who won't give up the search for the boy she loves.

Yeah, you want to read that, don't you? Well it's coming on 5/17/16.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Texas Book Festival!

And the Labor Day Weekend starts with the ultra good news that I am part of the author line up at this year's Texas Book Festival in Austin! So excited, FINDING PARIS and I, both!!

For info and full author list, go HERE !

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Goodbye Summer and Other Stuff!

It's September now and almost Labor Day and this summer is officially over even if the calendar says it will linger a few weeks longer. Yesterday at Target they were already (already!) cleaning out the school supply section and moving in Halloween. I wanted some of those cheap two pocket folders but they were somewhere in an associate's shopping cart being moved and so that didn't happen. The world seems to be drumming its crazy drums a little harder as it always seems to do this time of year. The mall is filled with boots and sweaters and even though it's still 92 outside, I'm eyeing them and thinking, yeah. And let's not even talk about how Sbux has already begun hawking those pumpkin spice lattes…. because they have. They grocery store has pumpkin ceramic crap and Homecoming mums and holy hell, it seems to be fall.

In my little corner, I have finally finished IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, which is already up on Amazon and other places for pre-order and has a gorgeous cover that I can't show you for awhile but you will love, created by the amazing Christian Fuenfhausen, the genius behind the covers of many of your favorite books. (Paper Towns! 13 Reasons Why!) Mostly, finishing this book means that I have spent the past year writing furiously about immortality, star-crossed love, some clever bad guys, and what happens when you're stuck at 17. Plus America. Because there's always a sub text, you know. I LOVE this book. I can't wait to tell you more about it and as the fall progresses, I shall. And Soho Press will tell you, too. There's a whole plan involved and I loves me a plan.

Exciting news coming tonight and since I'm bad at secrets I will whisper Texas Book Festival and see if you figure it out.

Beyond that, I shall leave you with my summer highlights:

Hanging out in Chicago with family and friends and driving down Green Bay Road through the northern suburbs, Lake Michigan looming to the east and all those pretty houses and winding road and the mental classical music soundtrack that always runs through my head.  Eating the tomatoes I grew with my own hands! All twenty of them. Drinking vodka and pineapple. Some serious pool time once it finally stopped raining. Driving to Dallas and Austin, lovely road trips both. Spending a week living and teaching at The Writing Barn in Austin, sharing a tiny cabin with author Nicole Griffin and laughing our asses off at just about everything, plus getting up in the pre-dawn to write in our little spaces because when you live with another writer for a week and someone else is making your meals, all you need is coffee and a low light and you can just work til your fingers ache. Eating happy hour dinners at this place and that. Sometimes going to a weekday matinee and having popcorn for breakfast. (Okay, when you work from home, you can do that anytime, but somehow the summer seems the best time.) Fireworks watching on 4th of July. Finishing a book that I cared about deeply. (see above.) Finally figuring out how to write the other book I've been struggling with. Grilling burgers and sitting on the deck with a beer. (okay, in Texas we can do this almost all year long) Plotting the fall and spring because that's what I do.

Happy Thursday!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Five Years Later

Yesterday was the five year mark. Fifth cancer free check up. You never know if it's all going to hold, although you hope it will. It's the lesson I find filtering into so many of my characters: once you know for sure that bad stuff can happen randomly and can happen to you, it changes you. But it's also that knowledge you have to compartmentalize and shove down deep where you don't think about it every day. You can know it, but you can't controlled by it except to say that as Jenna does in The A Word, "So eat the damn birthday cake." (actually I'm not sure if this is an exact quote and I don't have a copy of the book near by, but if not exact, the quote is close.) Eat the cake. Do the things that scare you. Put yourself out there because tomorrow things could change.

So there it is. Five years ago, brilliant docs got rid of my thyroid cancer. (In case your only experience with this is through FIOS and John Green, let me say that there are many varieties and many outcomes and often they are actually really good ones for which I am very grateful) They cut stuff out and made me briefly radioactive and my metabolism wandered around and then it was over and I had a rakish scar that was so brilliantly done that if you didn't know me then, you probably have no idea. (You have a youthful neck, I remember the surgeon saying. I'm going to give you a little wrinkle. If you keep the scar out of the sun, it will look great. He was right.)

 Five years forward and here I am. I have lived my life and written more books and hung out with the people I love (and sometimes the people I don't) and good things have happened and some bad ones and the world has kept spinning in the also good and bad way it does. But yesterday, I went to make sure because that's what I will do every year for the foreseeable future.  They took a bunch of blood and scanned a bunch of things and I walked around with my temporary hospital wristband and ate mediocre but healthy avocado roll in the cafeteria in between appointments and chatted writing for a few minutes with my lovely friend Jenny Moss, a brilliant author and who happens to work in this same hospital. Even typing this I always worry that tomorrow it will be different. But in a few days that will fade to the background as these things do.

Today though, I'm happy to write a chapter in the book I'm working on and go look at new bathtubs and light fixtures and think about the brilliant and gorgeous cover for next year's IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS that the lovely folks at Soho Press just showed me. It's almost September. Fall is coming. (well, such as it does here in Houston.) It's Friday.

Five years later.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The End of the Tour

First let me confess: I have not read An Infinite Jest. I know of David Foster Wallace only through articles and reviews.  A gap in my reading, yes. Just so you know.

I have not even watched any live interview clips, so actor Jason Segal's portrayal in The End of the Tour, which I saw yesterday, is the first 'real life' experience I've had with Wallace. But there I was in the almost empty theater yesterday because I had promised myself a break once I finally finished and turned in a revised synopsis to my agent. (Yes, my afternoon work break consisted of going to a 2 PM matinee about an author who was brilliant, famous and ultimately took his own life.)

Since then, I've done a bit of internet reading, but I would hardly call it immersion and I'm still digesting and pondering, and this man's life is now swirling around with the other mammoth novel I'm in the middle of which is A Little Life, which also touches on the nature of art and life and fame (both desired and achieved) and suffering, among other things.

The back and forth between Jesse Eisenberg's David Lipsky, a Rolling Stone writer (and sometimes novelist) who's come along for the last leg of Wallace's book tour and David Wallace, who seems to both embrace and eschew his enormous fame, is what makes the film tick. That and Joan Cusak as the  Midwest media escort, a role she absolutely nailed and which alone makes the film worth seeing.

If you want a fuller review, try this one from the New York Times, which is as good a place to start as any:

Or a review that talks about how the film nails the both important and sometimes icky life of a reporter:

The questions the film raises are the ones I'm struggling with right now and so I have made them today's Friday Five:

  • What does it mean to be an author in our culture, so fame-crazed as it is? If you've made it to the top, if you're John Green on press junkets, you have to maintain that somehow and it is a thing beyond the work. If you're in murky middle and such things as media escorts or even regular mileage reimbursements are generally still pie in the sky, you can fantasize -- as David Lipsky does in the film-- about the wondrous thing of being so top tier that you have an expense account and people fawning over you and at least a momentary sense that you are smarter than the pack. The question of how long this remains a desirable thing, is another story entirely.
  • No matter who you are, or where your career is, at the end of the day it's still you and the blank screen, creating something out of nothing and hoping it says what you want and that it also says what others want to read, possibly hones into the current zeitgeist in some magical way that makes your career take off or maintain. (Unless you're James Patterson and you have a team of eager writers. That's its own thing, you know?) How do you keep sitting down and doing the work no matter what?
  • In the film, David Foster Wallace and David Lipsky both agree that a benefit of writerly fame is the easier possibility of getting laid. So of course I wonder. Is that what Wallace actually thought? How would that conversation have gone and been perceived if Wallace was a woman and had expressed this to Lipsky? Or if Lipsky was a woman? Does, say, Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life, mentioned above, hope for the same fame benefit? And if she does, and she says this in interviews, how is it perceived? Do women artists in general have a different set of goals for fame? Hmm… I say. Hmmm….
  • How do we handle the inevitable envy that comes with colleagues and friends getting what we're still striving to achieve? As the film opens, Lipsky is reading a gushing review of Infinite Jest which states that it will definitely win every major literary award and he says, "It's as though Paul Bunyan joined the NFL, orWittgenstein had on Jeopardy!"
  • How do we as writers/artists balance the ego needed to write with the ability to still live our life and not let the work consume us or, as was sadly the case with Wallace, who eventually and tragically took his own life, destroy us?
Have you seen The End of The Tour?
What do you think?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Five for Friday

Five things I'm passionate about today:

Drinking Sazerac cocktails. Because there's rye whiskey and bitters and some form of absinthe (although not the kind that rots your brain) and it's really pretty:

  • Eating in-season fruit: cherries and plums and grapes and nectarines. Just not watermelon. Unless someone has filled the melon with booze.
  • Going to baseball games. I grew up a few blocks from Wrigley Field in Chicago so I guess baseball is in my blood. The Astros have been doing well this year, although Minute Maid (which originally was called Enron until the Enron scandal) is not Wrigley, but it's an acceptable substitute and it has air conditioning which here in Houston is quite helpful.
  • Grilling. Okay, here in Houston we grill pretty much year round. Burgers. Steaks. More burgers. The occasional piece of fish. And beer. (to drink not grill) Plus it means the husband is cooking which I know is this totally sexist thing, all 'man/fire' but I am okay with it, you know?
  • Getting excited when the stores start stocking school supplies. I don't have a kid in school anymore, but there's just something about all that stuff that sets my heart aflutter. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Things

Somewhere back in elementary school, a teacher informed us that you spell Wednesday WED-NES-DAY and I swear that it what goes through my head every time I type it or write it.

In the middle of so much stuff on this middle day of the week. And so in no particular order:

1. It was 106 degrees here in Houston yesterday. Today it will only reach 99 and we're all thinking, "ooh… it's cooling down." All in the perspective, folks.

2. Have not yet seen the IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS cover, but my Soho Press editor told me the name of the cover artist and I think maybe I fainted with joy. (when your name is Joy, I guess that's like fainting with yourself?) Anyway! He has done covers for so many of my favorite books. Memorable, awesome, stick in your brain covers!! So I can hardly wait. More soon, I hope.

3. Speaking of IWALT,  it is done like dinner and moving on from copy edits to typesetting and galleys and then people will start reading advanced copies and I am so excited and proud of this book. A girl. A boy. In love and stuck at seventeen, until they lose each other in a terrible tragedy and the 100 year adventure that follows to foil the bad guys and find each other. Plus a bunch of other stuff.

4. Last night was the season finale of RHONY.  Enough of you, Ramona. Enough.

5. In my British and Aussie TV phase, I've discovered The Bletchley Circle. A group of British women who were code breakers during WWII, ten years later, with messy lives, who end up regrouped to solved crimes. It's delightful.

6. That new book I've mentioned, well, it has evaded me for awhile but which I think I may finally have figured out.

7. Did you know there is such a thing as Writer Police Academy?? Like this long weekend where you briefly learn the ropes so you can write about it? Yup. There is such a thing!

More soon. Especially about the end of summer and also about the dog, who today had to be coaxed off the driveway to go for a walk. Her basset hound nose sometimes does her in and she has to be nudged back into big girl bravery.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Once Ate Lunch with Edward Albee and other Monday Confessions

Why am I writing some random confessions? I'm not sure except that I hit a stopping point on the WIP but I didn't want to stop writing and my brain is floundering about as it does on a Monday when once again I'm on a mostly self-imposed deadline (okay, my agent has some control over it, too) and so--some things about me that I am sure most of you don't know.

1. Once, I ate lunch with playwright Edward Albee. Yes, THAT Edward Albee, author of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff and Zoo Story and A Delicate Balance and a bunch of other amazing plays. He used to teach playwriting at University of Houston one semester a year or so, and he was buds with the late, great, theater professor Sidney Berger. And my friend Wanda and I were teaching high school English and Edward Albee was also directing one of his plays at the Alley Theater. And the Alley Theater often has a program for teachers combined with a Saturday matinee. And so… we went.

It did not occur to me that somehow Wanda and I would end up eating lasagna and garlic bread on paper plates at a table for four which consisted of Edward Albee, Sidney Berger, Wanda and me. And yet, we did. I think Wanda told them about North Carolina, where she is from. Possibly I said the lasagna is yummy. I mean really, what does one say in these moments? Albee drank a Diet Coke. (These are the kinds of details I remember.) Had I already been published, I might have had something else to say, but probably not because that's how lame I am.

Once in a while when life gets dull, I remind Wanda that once we ate lasagna with EDWARD ALBEE. On paper plates. With Diet Coke.

2. I shook hands once with the late actor Jimmy Stewart. (He was alive at the time.) He was very kind and very tall and very tan.

3. The main thing I remember about meeting former President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn was that they were both very petite. (at least at the time)

4. I also once met actor Cary Grant. (He was also alive at the time) He was also very tall and very kind and very tanned.

Happy Monday.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Green River Soda and Other Friday Stuff

Back at the blog after a bit of a break to finish the final draft of next year's IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS. Something about that last push with a book when I'm struggling to get all the words right that just makes me feel like the only other things I have to say are "Hey! Did you know I'm still revising this book? Yes. You heard that right! Still. Been writing the thing for like a year now, on and off. I think it's done. Maybe. I hope."

But here I am and in time for a quick five things.

1. Absolutely in love with Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. It's an Aussie show and it's been on PBS but I've discovered it on Netflix, thanks to the rec of my favorite pop culture know it all, the very talented Jennifer Mathieu. 1920s. Woman private eye named Phryne Fisher. Melbourne, Australia. And oh, inspector Jack Robinson. Plus outfits that make me want to scour every vintage store in the world. Plus Dot and Hugh Collins and Mr. Butler the Butler and a bunch of murders cleverly solved. Plus airplanes and fast gorgeous cars and a bunch of other stuff.

2. It has finally stopped raining here in Houston. So now it's 97 every day. But I am finally using that pool pass.

3. The tomatoes spit out 6 last ripe ones before the plant gave up. Too much rain washing all the nutrients out of the soil, I think. But seriously, what do I know? Going to build a garden box next and some time next month I shall plant stuff for the fall and we shall see if I am a #patiofarmer after all.

4. Working on a new book now. All I'll say for now.

5. Had a grand quick trip to Chicago and a lovely event at Book Stall with Ted Goeglein and if you are reading this and you came and helped fill the room, thank you! Book Stall is a wonderful indie in the Northshore suburb of Winnetka and if you are in Chicago, you must go buy a book there. Stopped on the way at a small indie grocery to buy some Lifesavers because CANDY, and saw a display of my favorite childhood soda pop, which is for some reason never sold anywhere but the Midwest. It's called Green River. And it is VERY GREEN. It looks like this:

Happy Friday, y'all!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday Stuff

Stuff I'm passionate about today:

  • Reading Katie Cotugno's blog. The girl can write. Her random observations about…everything make me want to fan girl her like crazy.
  • Speaking of which, she's doing a series on fangirl-ing and so I do have to say that I adore deep fandom. My last truly intense fandom was for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and after that, all things Joss Whedon. As in I knew the titles of every BTVS ep. I recorded years of them meticulously on VHS tapes (yes, this was the late 90s and I don't know if DVRing even existed or we were just too broke to have it, but I had VHS tapes by God!), labeling the titles and the dates. I bought the novelizations. I chatted with like-minded fans on line. I memorized favorite passages of dialogue. I wrote a bit of fan fic.  I collected various swag. Okay a lot of it, most of which I still have. And mostly, I learned to tell stories and from that came my own first novel DREAMING ANASTASIA. I've been a fan of other shows since then, but nothing has come close to the Buffy years, to the sheer crazy joy I felt about new eps, particularly in the first 3 seasons.
  • My tomatoes are still growing! 9 more that may even reach tomato adulthood!
  • Vodka and pineapple juice. 
  • Miss Fisher's Mysteries, which we began last night to fill the gap until season 4 of Call the Midwife gets itself to Netflix. Roaring 20s. Amazing clothes. Australia. Murders. Cocaine. Sexy stuff.
  • My new sandals from Lucky. Fake python, I tell you. Screams summer.
  • Avocado toast!! Smear a little green stuff on toast. Sprinkle with sea salt. Heaven!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Heart Amy Fellner Dominy and A MATTER OF HEART

Today I’m welcoming my friend and awesome author Amy Fellner Dominy, whose latest YA, A MATTER OF HEART, just arrived in May from Delacorte. Amy is delightful and funny and very smart, and I was fortunate to be able to hang out with her at TLA in Austin this past April. She’s also the author of one of my favorite books,  the award-winning, OyMG, about a Jewish girl who wins a scholarship to a Christian speech camp and the things that ensue, both comic and serious from there.

Here’s the basic premise of A MATTER OF HEART, which author Lauren Myracle calls, “A novel that will make your heart pound—anxiously, joyfully, triumphantly.”

Readers will happily sink into this emotionally grounded, contemporary young adult novel about the sudden end of one girl’s Olympic swimming dreams and the struggles she endures before realizing there are many things that define who we are.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to win the state swim championships and qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. Now Abby is forced to discover who she is without the one thing that’s defined her entire life.

Hopefully you are as excited to read this on as I am!

I asked Amy about her inspiration for A MATTER OF HEART, and here’s what she said:

What would you do if the one thing you love, the one thing you’ve ever dreamed of doing, the only thing you’re good at…is the thing that will kill you?

That’s the question Abby faces in A MATTER OF HEART. Abby is sixteen, she’s a swimmer good enough to compete for a spot on the Olympic team in three weeks when she discovers that she has a heart condition. One that could kill her if she swims.

So what would you do?

What would I do?

That’s how I usually start writing a novel—with a question that I can’t answer. Of course none of us wants to die. But how do you give up the one thing you’ve been living for? That’s the thought I had on the day I brought my kids to their high school for a heart test.

At the time both of my kids were varsity athletes. My daughter played tennis and my son played baseball. I’d read about a football player from their school who had died of an enlarged heart (the medical name is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy) and his mom had started a foundation to bring heart tests to schools across the country. She never wanted the same thing to happen to another student athlete.

On the day of the heart test, I met the mom, Sharon Bates. The story of her son, Anthony, really affected me. It started me thinking and imagining and questioning.
The result is A MATTER OF HEART and I hope it’s a story that will touch your heart, too. Abby’s not just dealing with her health and the pressures of competition, but she’s also got parents she wants to please. A boyfriend who also swims. And then there’s Alec…well… you’ll read about him.

This is Abby’s story and I hope none of us will ever have to make the decision that she has to make.

But what if you did?

For more info about Amy Fellner Dominy and her books, you can visit her at
Or follow her on Twitter: @amydominy

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why I'm totally devoted to DEVOTED by Jennifer Mathieu!

My friend Jennifer Mathieu is also one of my favorite writers. Actually favorite doesn't quite cover it. The woman can WRITE! She has this steady, understated style, simple yet layered, each moment building to the next, the character's emotions driving the action along with the external plot elements. And I think it comes not only from her understanding of the craft and her ability to mold it to her needs but also her understanding and thoughtfulness and endless curiosity and dark humor about the human condition, about the things we do and the things we want and the things we need. It is no surprise that she started as a journalist before she turned to the English classroom and the writing of young adult fiction. Just google Jennifer Mathieu and Houston Press and you can read her columns which are irreverent and funny as hell and make me adore her even more. Like this one, in which she discovers that Gwynnie Paltrow has a lifestyle website called Goop. (which in full disclosure, I must say that I subscribed to so that I could mock it and it's worked out swimmingly)

Jennifer occasionally asks me mentor-ish questions and I mumble some answer but in truth I need to be asking her because her career has rocketed off and she is handling it like a champ.

But to DEVOTED! It's her latest YA novel, out just a week or so from Roaring Brook, and it's a brilliant sophomore book, following the equally brilliant TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, which was on everyone's TBR list last year and which is important and gorgeous and moving and hits the nail about high school and girls and slut shaming and finding who you are even amidst people who would rather spread lies about who you are not.

DEVOTED is the story of Rachel Walker, who has been raised in what essentially is a Quiverfull family-- an ultra-fundamentalist Christian movement which places the man as the head of everything and women are raised to be helpmeets and modest above all else. (think the Duggar family--which Mathieu says inspired this novel, at least in part--but without the scripted cuteness, such as it is, and with whatever is actually under there that has been hinted at with the recent sexual abuse scandal) And then, of course, Rachel begins to have doubts. Not about faith in God, but about THIS faith and its effects on her and the life she is hoping to lead.

What I love more than anything about DEVOTED is the way Jennifer balances Rachel's journey. Rachel does not stop believing in God. She does not go all wild girl rebellious crazy. But she does move slowly, painfully, and in some cases with such frightening tension for the reader, toward a personal revelation that there are other ways to live, that they are not wrong, and that she will suffer more from staying than from escaping. (Seriously, I know no other author who could build such nail-biting tension into a scene where essentially the character is sitting and reading some emails!)

Jennifer just debuted the novel at Blue Willow Bookshop, one of our wonderful Houston indies, so here's the link to that page so you can get your own copy:

Want to find out more about Jennifer Mathieu and her books? Visit her here !

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Real Life View into FINDING PARIS and Leo's Las Vegas World!

When Leo and Max go searching for Leo's missing sister Paris, they find themselves on a scavenger hunt through Vegas and beyond. Here are some of the real views of where the journey takes them!

Fake Eiffel Tower at Paris Hotel!

Looking for notes from Paris! Do you see any?

Maybe she left a note up there!

When Max gets kicked out of the casino, here's what Leo sees.

More fake Eiffel Tower!

Of course since it's Vegas, there's a bar.

And oh! Is that the Bellagio across the street? Is Paris over there?

FINDING PARIS is out now from Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins!
Need some road trip survival tactics? #EPICREADS  and I created some based on FINDING PARIS!