Thursday, December 10, 2009

Good News

I have exciting news, people! I have received my very first industry review compliments of Kirkus Reviews:

“Choose your own adventure” meets fashion-magazine personality quiz in this lively, light story aimed at young teens. Employing second-person narration and a conversational tone laden with current pop-culture references, the book informs readers they are a 12-year-old girl who has been dragged to the mall by her friends to sleuth out tickets to a classmate’s exclusive Charlie and the Chocolate Factory–themed party. Though hoping to bump into her crush, she instead runs into a tyrannical model scout in need of an emergency replacement for a photo shoot taking place that day. To decide whether or not she’d like to participate, readers are prompted to take a short multiple-choice test to determine which direction the story will take, the first of many such divergent points. Gently skewed toward positive outcomes for the confident, there are still many satisfying story arcs for the meek. Jealousy, on the other hand, is discouraged outright. Girls who are eagerly anticipating their teen years will enjoy this breezy, reader-driven tale, however it turns out for them. (Novelty/fiction. 10-13)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Covers

Okay, here they are, my new book covers! What do you think? 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sorry it has been so long since I've written--a whole month to be exact--but I've been pretty busy over the last few weeks. For starters, I've been working on the second YOUR LIFE book, which is coming along nicely. My deadline is quickly approaching, so I'll be using this upcoming week's staycation of mine to finish it off. Wish me luck!

To that end, my editor has informed me that I now have completely new book covers. And I have to say, as much as I loved the last covers they came up with, these are really cute. I'll post soon as I figure out how to do that correctly. I tried to do it just now, but the cover came out all yellow and there were words missing. (??) Like I said, I'm a little technologically challenged, but I'm working on it. Don't judge me. You can see the cover on the YOUR LIFE, BUT BETTER Facebook page, though. So go check it out.

Also, during the month I was away from this blog, I received another review from one of my friend Tom's nieces. This one is from Valerie, who now says she's my number one fan!

My Review
~ I liked how at the end of each chapter there was a quiz with really great questions that led me to a new part in my life. I also liked how the main topic was something I could relate to because having someone come up to me and asking me to be a supermodel and trying to get invited to a party is something that could happen to me in real life. I enjoyed having the book be about my life and I liked how it was easy to follow along with the book, even though you take quizzes at the end and skip some pages. If I would rate this book (1-10, 1 being the worst, and 10 being the best) I would definitely give this book a 10 because it was fun to read and everything that happened in the book was something I could relate to because it could happen in real life. Great book!!!

Love always,
Your pal Val

Thank goodness. Another good review! I don't know if I can take much more of this praise. (Just kidding. I love it. I live for praise. Keep it coming, people!) Once again, I have passed muster with one of my first four reviewers. Phew! And you might think I'm too old to get excited about scoring a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. You would be wrong. The kid inside me loves getting high scores and pats on the back, and I'm definitely still a sucker for gold stars. Who isn't? They're gold and shiny, and you can put them on your forehead if you want to! Think I'm being silly? Well, check out a book review in a real newspaper or magazine. You'll find the ones the reviewer really, really like get--that's right--starred reviews. I'm just saying... It's not a coincidence. Anyway, thank you, Valerie! Your review was my gold star for this month.

I'm still awaiting one more review, so I'll let you all know when that comes in. Apparently, she broke one of her fingers a while ago, poor thing. So now I'm picturing her trying to type up my review with her big toe or something, which could take some time. My own niece, Jasmine, has also promised me a review now that she's read my book, so look for that soon too! (SPOILER ALERT!: She's already given me a thumb's up.)

In other news, I recently got another year older. Yep, my birthday just passed on October 2, and let me just say, it was awesome. My friends and family showed me so much love this year, I don't even know what to do with it all! It started on Friday, my actual birthday. I went to work (which isn't the exciting part), and there was a suprise party for me! Okay, um, it wasn't actually for me. It was for one of my coworkers who is getting married soon. But still, there were chocolate cupcakes that pretty much had my name on them. Then after work, some of my coworkers took me out for drinks, after which Stephanie took me to see that movie Whip It. (Good movie, by the way, with a great sound track.) Then the next day my mom surprised me with tickets for In the Heights, the Broadway show. (Loved it!) Aside from having to climb up into the stratosphere to reach our seats, we had a fantastic time. Then the next day, Dereeka, who has been my friend since we were twelve years old, surprised me with a roller skating party in Long Island! (Ahh, she knows me so well.) All my closest friends were there, and we skated our hearts out for a good three hours. Then we went out to dinner at a nearby Japanese restaurant and had a delicious meal, followed by even more delicious chocolate mousse birthday cake--and lots of presents. :)

That was more than enough for me, but my birthday month just keeps getting better. This past Wednesday, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Chelsea Clearview Cinema's had a screening of the classic John Hughes film Pretty in Pink. (If you haven't seen this yet, you should really get on that. It's Molly Ringwald at her finest.) Part of the proceeds from the evening went toward breast cancer research and programs, so I was happy to buy the pink cotton candy and donate money. But the real surprise came when it was time to reveal the winners of the raffle. Now, I've been a fan of the Clearview Cinema's classic movie night for some time. I've been there to see Xanadu, Niagra, The Best of Everything, and a few others, and never have I won their raffle. But this time I won! I couldn't believe it. And I got some pretty good stuff too:

*One Whip It sound track CD
*A Whip It T-shirt (that says Whip It: Be Your Own Hero)
*A Michael Jackson: This Is It T-shirt
*Two movie passes
*A silver compact mirror shaped like a purse
*The 50 First Dates DVD

Not bad, huh? I considered it all part of the birthday luck I'm having. And it wasn't even over yet! On Friday, a few of my friends who couldn't make it to the roller skating party took me out for an incredible dinner at Brazil Brazil, and then for dessert at Ruby Foo's. That was two days ago and I'm still full.

As you can see, I'm a truly lucky person, and I'm really grateful for all the wonderful people I have in my life.

That said, I lost my cell phone in the park last night and no one tried to return it. Bummer.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Here Comes the Rain Again

It's another gray, rainy day in New York. But unlike the rest of this summer when the constant rain felt like an unwelcome intruder, today it feels appropriate. I am, of course, talking about the anniversary of 9/11.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Reviews Are In!

About a month ago, I hung out at a restaurant after work with my friend Tom. It had been a long week, and we both needed to relax. But we also needed a bit of encouragement to keep up with our double life. See, not only do Tom and I both have day jobs, but we're both writers, hoping to someday make a name for ourselves in print. Anyone who writes knows that sometimes it's the most fun ever (you can make up anything you want!) and sometimes...well, sometimes it's just pure torture. Especially when you're faced with a blank page that refuses to fill up with words. Or even worse: There are words on the page, but you aren't sure if they're the right ones.

As it happens, I had both problems. The outline for the second book in the YOUR LIFE, BUT BETTER series was due (past due, actually) and I was hopelessly blocked. At the same time, I had completed the revised draft of the first book, and while my editor assured me it was good, how could I be sure? What if she was just being nice? Tom told me that what I needed were impartial judges. Readers who fit the profile of my potential audience but had never even met me and wouldn't be worried about sparing my feelings--people like four of his nieces, all of whom are avid readers and are 12 or 13 years old. The idea both intrigued and terrified me. Although Tom told me they were all really sweet and smart, he also described them as straight shooters who would be brutally honest--especially 12-year-old Hannah, who had once quizzed her older sister's boyfriend for close to an hour in order to assess his worthiness, giving him actual letter grades based on his answers and her personal observations. Yikes. These girls were no pushovers. I'd have to brace myself for the possibility that they'd all hate the book...and would tell me so. But I knew it would be a good idea, as long as they were up for it.

Well, before I even made it home that night, I got a text from Tom telling me that all four girls couldn't wait to read the book and let me know what they thought. No turning back now! So a couple of weeks later, while Tom was visiting his family, I packed up an early version of YOUR LIFE, BUT BETTER and sent it on it's merry way to Tom's parents' house in Wisconsin, so he could hand it off to my first four reviewers.

Since then, I've been sitting on pins and needles, wondering what the four girls thought, wondering if they had all gotten bored and decided to not even finish reading it. I pictured them making little origami birds or paper airplanes out of the manuscript pages. Or worse: sitting around together, writing a joint scathing review, the likes of which I haven't seen since I got my first English composition paper back as a freshman in college. (I got a C---, which I didn't even know was possible! In bright red ink, no less.)

I'm pleased to report that I couldn't have been more wrong.

Two of the reviews are in! The first came from Megan, who wrote:

In my opinion, I thought this book was good. It must have been difficult making all the different chapters and paths for everyone's own personality! I was able to relate to the story being a 13-year-old girl; any of that could have happened to me because it's all very realistic. The only thing that I did not like as much was that there were so many different choices for people that the story itself was not that long. Besides that I liked it a lot. One thing that I thought was cool and unique was the quizzes at the end of each chapter. I have never seen anything like that and it made the reading fun. Sometimes when you think of the books you choose your own path to you may think of little kid books, but this was different. I agree that this book is suitable for kids around my age. While I was reading this book, I never got bored, it was interesting to read all the way through finding out what would happen in the end. The book helped me personally. I did not realize that I would actually do some of the things that happened in the book. It helped me realize what type of person I am and can be when I am in a certain mood. Well I enjoyed reading this book and I hope my opinion helps you!!!

Wow! I was truly blown away by her well-written response. It is clear to me that she really gave this some thought, telling me both what she liked and what she didn't like, and how she related to the story as a teenage girl. The fact that she felt the book had helped her personally...well, that made my day. It seems I had passed muster with at least one of Tom's nieces. I immediately emailed her back, thanking her for giving my work so much of her attention, and I promised an autographed copy when the book finally comes out.

Having gotten one rave review, I felt a lot better. But I had yet to hear from Hannah, who I'd begun to think of as tough as nails. Well, today my wait came to an end. Here is review #2!

'Your life, but better' is a wonderful book that will change the way you think about happy endings. Maybe it will end up good or maybe it will end up bad. But you get to decide the path. Will it end up as a fairy tale after all? Or will it end up that you didn't get the thing that you always wanted, but still got the person that you always loved. With every chapter you discover more about yourself by taking a quiz that really makes you think about what kind of choices best suit your personality. By the end of the book I really felt like the path was "my life, but better."

Score!!! Hannah likes the book! And again, I find myself astonished and impressed with her maturity level. I'd like to think I was this composed at her age, but I doubt it. Winning her over definitely feels like a victory. And it seems like both she and Megan really got the point of the book, which is to help young girls figure out the kind of person they are and the kind of person they hope to be. Hannah and Megan: You rock!

I'm still awaiting two more reviews though. I'll keep you posted--even if the next two aren't raves. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law states that whatever can go wrong, will. Sometimes I think Murphy was specifically talking about weddings. The one I was just in was no exception.

Things That Went Wrong:
1. About an hour before I was to pick up Ericka, one of the bridesmaids, to head upstate for the rehearsal ceremony, she accidentally locked herself out of her house and had to drive 40 minutes to pick up a spare set of keys from her sister.

2. Half of the bridal party were late to the rehearsal because one bridesmaid, trying to do a U-turn in the driveway, got stuck in a ditch, blocking the entire driveway. The groom and his ushers had to shove big pieces of wood under one of the wheels to see-saw the car out of the ditch.

3. Number 2 on the list didn't entirely matter since the priest was about 40 minutes late to the rehearsal too.

4. The bride's brother and father missed the entire rehearsal because they were held up in traffic.

5. Traffic on the day of the wedding was so bad, a lot of people missed the whole ceremony.

6. That same traffic made the DJ late to the reception, which almost turned the lovely bride into the dreaded bridezilla. While the cocktail hour went on in silence and the bride fumed, I got on the phone with the DJ and told him to get here...NOW. Meanwhile, the bridal party contemplated putting on an impromptu talent show to kill time or use the few CDs in my parents' car and just play them over and over again.

7. During the rehearsal I was so busy looking around the church that I fell down one of the steps on the way down from the altar. For the rest of the day, everyone kept reminding me not to fall. ("Wait, so you're saying I shouldn't fall during the ceremony? Let me write that down...")

8. The wind was so strong by the house on the day of the wedding that every time somebody opened the door, the bride's veil would go flying along with her carefully done hair. We'd all scream, "SHUT THAT DOOR!!!"

9. The groomsmen's shoes all came in a half size too small and had to be exchanged the morning of the wedding.

10. The day after the wedding, when we were checking out of the hotel, my dad discovered his car had a flat, and we had to buy a new tire on the way home.

Things That Went Right:
1. Everyone in the bridal party was there and dressed on time. (That may sound like nothing, but we're talking about six bridesmaids, six ushers, two brothers, one father of the bride, one mother of the groom, and a bride and groom, people. This was a miracle!)

2. The flowers arrived on time and were lovely, labeled, and ready to go.

3. Nobody got lost on the way to the church.

4. Nobody got stuck in a ditch.

5. Despite it having rained almost every single day this summer, the weather was perfect: a gorgeous 81 degrees with no humidity, no rain, and barely a cloud in the sky.

6. The DJ, afraid of what I might do to him if he didn't show up pronto, put the petal to the metal and got there in record time. He kept us dancing all night.

7. The bride looked beautiful and the dress was a perfect fit. And the groom was handsome and looked like he couldn't wait to get hitched.

8. The best man and I didn't fumble the readings at the church. (Phew!)

9. The food was incredible. (Seriously, garlic shrimp never tasted so good.)

10. Two people who really love each other got married.

There were a lot more things that went right--everyone on both sides of the family got along perfectly, my parents danced all night like they were newlyweds, breakfast at the hotel the next day was delicious, I didn't fall flat on my face in my floor-length dress, even with our fake nails on Ericka and I were able to successfully bustle Maria's dress so that she wouldn't fall flat on her face--but the really important one is number 10.

Congratulations, Maria and Jason!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

All Aboard!

Say what you want about New York, but you have to love a city where you can take a four-hour party cruise featuring three levels of food, music, and dancing for only $10. And there was no sign of this unfriendly New Yorker stereotype when a group of girls and I boarded the Queen of Hearts to celebrate my friend Maria's bachelorette party this past Saturday night. In attendance: three of her future sister-in-laws, Rachel, Jessica, and Jen; her boss, Shelly (who is a total riot); Ericka, her best friend from high school; Yezi, Ericka's sister who has become a sister to all of us; and yours truly, the maid of honor.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Welcome to My Blog!

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but this is my first ever blog. I know, I know... What rock have I been living under? It seems I'm always a little late to the technology party. I was the last of my friends to get an iPod, the last to switch to DSL over dial-up, and I still don't have a GPS. I probably would have gone my whole life without ever venturing into the blogosphere, content to keep all my thoughts to myself in my very old-fashioned journal (That's right. I still pick up a pen and write!), had I not had some pretty exciting things happen to me lately that I actually want to share with the world.

For starters, my friend Stephanie Elliott, who happens to be an amazing book editor, gave me the opportunity to write a couple of young adult books for her, which have become the Your Life, But . . . series! I can't even tell you how excited I am that the first book, Your Life, But Better, is coming out soon. It was fun to write, but I really can't wait to see it on the bookstore shelves--or preferably in a reader's hands. But in the meantime, I'm getting to enjoy the whole process.

This past Sunday I had my first official author photo shoot. Dan Elliott--a professional photographer and a good friend--did the honors. Dan, Stephanie, and I went to Central Park and took pictures on the bridge, on the carousel, near the lake and, my favorite, barefoot in the fountain. (I wasn't going to do that last one, but a very bossy tourist from California insisted that I get in and that I would love it. She was right--although I did have to walk around for the rest of the day with slightly wet jeans.) Dan was a great director, telling me when to tilt my head to catch the light or move away from it, when to smile or keep it serious. And as he shot, passersby kept checking me out, clearly wondering who I was and why I was getting the star treatment. Even though I'm nowhere near famous, it was pretty fun being a model for a day. Afterward we went to lunch and toasted to a successful day of picture taking. And just like that, I'm one step closer to seeing my face and bio in a book that I wrote. Without getting too cheesy, this really is my dream come true. 

One other exciting thing that happened to me this summer is that I moved into a new apartment that I love. I finally have hot water, lots of windows, a parking spot, a big bedroom, and best of all, an office where I can do all my creative stuff. It's perfect. Especially now that I'm working on the second Your Life book.

So now that I've joined the 21st century and started a blog, I'll try to update it as often as possible. Sometimes I'll tell you how the writing is going, sometimes I'll just tell you about my day--especially when something out of the ordinary happens. Sometimes I'll check in just to tell you about a cool quote or poem I heard--basically whatever comes to mind. And you can feel free to add your own comments or ask me questions. Monologues are okay, but I prefer conversations.

Thanks for reading!