Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Off To New York!

I'm packing my bags...

Trading in my ratty sweats...

For cute little outfits!


I'm attending the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators conference, having lunch with my editor, meeting with my agent, and signing books with some of my favorite authors at Books Of Wonder, January 28th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Please stop by if you're in New York:

Albert Borris (CRASH INTO ME)
Fran Cannon Slayton (WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS)
Ellen Hopkins (non-2k author of CRANK, BURNED, GLASS, IDENTICAL and TRICKS)

Please invite anyone you know in NYC too! Here is the link to our Facebook invitation: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=264346959027&ref=mf

And here is the link to Books of Wonder, for directions:

Any help you could give twittering or facebooking or blogging this event would be much appreciated - if you want to connect to our Facebook invitation, feel free!

I'll share fun New York tidbits with you next week!



Susan is the winner of Bobbie Pyron's THE RING!

Watch for a new breakup post and another giveaway next week.

Friday, January 22, 2010

2009 Debutantes Helping Haiti Heal

The 2009 Debs have banded together with The Leaky Cauldron Fansite to Help Haiti Heal. This weekend, donations will be taken for the cause, with prizes given away to random, lucky donors.

More information at the Leaky Cauldron's announcement page.

And the Helping Haiti Heal Website here.

If you're on Twitter, please mention the event and url:

"Help Haiti Heal - win fantastic prizes! Sat. from 2pm to 6pm EST! http://bit.ly/5603s6 #hhh"

(#hhh is going to be the TweetCode so that we stand a chance of trending)

Without further ado, here's the Contents of the Debs Massive Prize Package:

R.J. Anderson -- FAERY REBELS: SPELL HUNTER (signed hardcover)

Pam Bachorz -- CANDOR (signed hardcover)

Lauren Bjorkman -- MY INVENTED LIFE (signed hardcover)

Leigh Brescia -- ONE WISH (signed hardcover)

Jennifer Brown -- HATE LIST (signed hardcover)

Megan Crewe -- GIVE UP THE GHOST (signed hardcover)

Kirstin Cronn-Mills -- THE SKY ALWAYS HEARS ME AND THE HILLS DON'T MIND (signed paperback)


Deva Fagan -- FORTUNE'S FOLLY (signed hardcover)

Megan Frazer -- SECRETS OF TRUTH & BEAUTY (signed hardcover)

Cheryl Renee Herbsman -- BREATHING (signed hardcover)

Jennifer R. Hubbard -- THE SECRET YEAR (signed hardcover)

Jennifer Jabaley -- LIPSTICK APOLOGY (signed paperback)

Danielle Joseph -- SHRINKING VIOLET (signed paperback)

Malinda Lo -- ASH (signed hardcover)

Sarah Maclean -- THE SEASON (signed hardcover)

L.K. Madigan -- FLASH BURNOUT (2010 Morris Award winner) (signed hardcover)

Lisa Mantchev -- EYES LIKE STARS (signed hardcover) and PERCHANCE TO DREAM (advance review copy)

Neesha Meminger -- SHINE, COCONUT MOON (hardcover)

Kate Messner -- THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z (signed hardcover)

Saundra Mitchell -- SHADOWED SUMMER (2010 Edgar®-Nominated) (signed hardcover)

Jenny Moss -- WINNIE'S WAR (signed hardcover)

Sarah Ockler -- TWENTY BOY SUMMER (signed hardcover)

Jackson Pearce -- AS YOU WISH (signed hardcover)


Aprilynne Pike -- WINGS (signed hardcover)

Cindy Pon -- SILVER PHOENIX (signed hardcover)

Carrie Ryan --THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH (signed hardcover)

Sydney Salter -- MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS (signed paperback) and JUNGLE CROSSING (signed hardcover) and SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK (advance review copy)

Kristina Springer -- THE ESPRESSOLOGIST (signed hardcover)

Rhonda Stapleton -- STUPID CUPID (signed paperback)

Charity Tahmaseb/Darcy Vance -- THE GEEK GIRL'S GUIDE TO CHEERLEADING (signed paperback)

Lara Zielin -- DONUT DAYS (signed hardcover)

Michelle Zink -- PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS (signed hardcover)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

JE MacLeod's Thoughts on Heidi Montag's Surgery

JE MacLeod, author of Waiting To Score, posted a really thoughtful post about plastic surgery, body image, and self confidence on her blog today. Her inspiration were these photos of The Hill's star Heidi Montag who recently had several plastic surgery procedures done at the young age of 23. Here are the photos, but make sure you check out JE's blog post: http://jemacleod.livejournal.com/158148.html

I'll just add that it makes me incredibly sad to see beautiful young women obsessed with their appearance when so many other personal qualities matter much, much more. I've never known anyone who found happiness solely through personal beauty. My bet is that Heidi won't either.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things On My Desk: A Retrospective

Over the years I've kept fun objects on my desk to remind me to stay on track with my writing goals. When I first started submitting my work, these guys reminded me not to fear rejection:

Eventually, I learned not to feel "chicken" about submitting. As I got busier and took on the job of planning conferences and workshops for SCBWI, a friend wished me luck in keeping "all the monkeys off my back." So I couldn't resist:

I'm pretty good at staying organized now. Collecting rejection letters, working many, many hours--with little acknowledgment--toward publication inspired me to collect turtles. Slow and steady wins the race, I told myself.

Recently I discovered a quote from Martha Beck in Finding Your Own North Star:
"Turtles have everything a writer needs: tough shells to deal with criticism, soft, sensitive insides, the need to stick their necks out if they want to move forward; and the slow-and-steady patience to keep slogging away, day after day."

Exactly! I still collect turtles. But I may be getting carried away:

Technically, Sunny and Sandy (not pictured) are my daughter's pets, but I can't help loving these sweet little tortoises. Slow and steady wins the race--oh, and eat your veggies.

So now I'm a published author. And I've got this guy sitting on my desk. He's a green-eyed sock monster (From Othello: O, beware, my lord of Jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster that doth mock the meat it feeds on).
Turns out I'm 100% human (and I do sometimes feel jealous). So I've put this cutie in charge of worrying about Amazon rankings, book reviews, other people's big book deals, etc., etc., so I can focus on what I love best: writing.

I can't even imagine what I'll want to put on my desk next... So do you keep anything around to keep you on track or provide inspiration?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Breaking Up With Bobbie Pyron

Here's a great breakup story from Bobbie Pyron, debut author of The Ring. Leave a comment and win a signed copy!

It wasn't the first time I'd slashed someone's tires. I sat hunched beside one of his back rear tires and flicked open my Swiss Army Knife. I pushed the point against the rubber, took a deep breath and closed my eyes.

This was my first time in Mill Creek Canyon since he'd broken up with me back in the fall. He'd said those four putrid words, “I need some space.” Those words were quickly followed by that equally putrid, useless phrase, “It's not you, it's me. You're great.” Right. I sat beside him on the muddy bank of a stream in Mill Creek Canyon, every word he uttered to the sky a knife in my heart. The words to a Christine Lavin song looped over and over in my head. If you want space, move to Utah... And here we were. I couldn't breath and every part of me was flying away in a million little pieces.

Of course, I should have seen it coming. I'd spent the last six months of our one-year-old relationship convincing him he could indeed love someone other than himself. He'd call me at work and have these long, rambling discussions with himself about how he was probably incapable of love. I'd grit my teeth, twist and untwist the phone cord and calmly, rationally point out to him all the ways he had shown love. We'd eventually hang up, the relationship in tact. It was like talking a jumper off the roof. Still, he often declared to me and his friends that he wanted to go live in the wilderness with no contact with the modern world in a house the size of a storage shed. Kind of like the Unibomber.

So after we broke up, I went into therapy and stayed away from Mill Creek Canyon. I missed the brilliant changing of the aspen leaves and the long winter of skiing the canyon road. Staying away from it like staying away from the best part of my self.

Instead, I sat on my therapist's couch once a week and cried. I wrote poetry, some bad some not too bad. I dreamed violent dreams, disturbing dreams. My therapist particularly liked the one in which I was some kind of wild canid—wolf, or fox, or coyote—who broke into his house, disemboweled his prized leather couch and peed on his bed. She said I was making progress.

Now the summer sun warmed my back as I sat hunched behind his rear left tire. I'd finally decided it was time to reclaim that canyon that meant so much to me. I was finally strong enough. So of course, life being the comical thing that it is, his car was in the parking lot of my favorite Mill Creek trailhead. I about choked the life out of my steering wheel as I sat there staring at his car and saying over and over, “damn, damn, damn.” I felt the familiar beginnings of a major anxiety attack coming on.

My dog yipped, pawed at the car door to get out. She was so happy to be back in the canyon—our canyon!

I scanned the trails from the parking lot. He could be anywhere up there. He'd probably been coming and going in this canyon for months without a thought, without memory as a knife in the heart.

I placed the point of my knife against the rubber of his tire. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Centering my weight behind my knife hand and locking my arms, I pushed. The knife went into the almost-bald tires easy as sliced bread. He'd always been a cheap SOB. Air escaped the tire with a satisfying hiss. I performed the same ritual on one of the front tires, then whistled up my dog, and got back in the car.

As we drove down canyon for a different trailhead, I thought about how satisfying that hiss had been. Almost as good as peeing on his bed. I didn't know when his tires would actually deflate. It might take two hours or two days. It didn't matter. I'd left my mark. The canyon was mine again. It wasn't the first time I'd slashed someone's tires, but it would be the last.

About Bobbie Pyron

Bobbie lives and writes in Park City, Utah. She's the author of The Ring (Westside Books) as well as the middle-grade novel A Dog's Way Home (Katherine Tegen Books, Spring 2011). Find out more at: www.bobbiepyron.com.

Here's a the book trailer for The Ring:

If you'd like to win a signed copy of The Ring by Bobbie Pyron, tell me whether you could ever get angry enough at an ex to slash his or her tires. Contest ends Wednesday, January 20th and is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Please leave your contact information.

If you're in Utah, Bobbie and I will be signing books Saturday, January 17th at the Murray Barnes & Noble.

Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Amy at Addicted To Books!

Amy won Alexandra Diaz's debut novel Of All The Stupid Things. Thanks to Alexandra for sharing her breakup story. If you'd like to share your story, email me at sydneysalter AT mac DOT com. If you're an author, I'd love to donate a copy of your book!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Could Frankenstein Pull Off High Heels?

OR She shook her long, shiny blond-streaked hair, and laughed with her friend. Her short gold dress hugged all the right curves, showcasing her long slender legs. And she wore glittering, strappy high-heeled sandals. Gorgeous, right? Almost...

She sounded like a Clydesdale clomping across the marble tiles in The Venetian Casino. Worse, she lurched like Frankenstein's monster as she walked with stiff legs and hips, thudding the toe of her shoes onto the floor.

She didn't know how to walk in high heels. Neither did her friend.

Now it would've been nice if we'd decided as a culture that fuzzy bedroom slippers were super sexy with evening wear. But we didn't. So women torment their feet with high heels, often struggling down the street in an awkward, tilting, wobbling or stomping gait.

If you're going to wear them, learn how to walk in them.

Step one: Heel, Toe! Just like you would walk in flat shoes, place your heel on the floor first, following quickly with the sole of your shoe, rolling your foot from the heel to the toe.

Step two: Point your toes forward. Otherwise you will waddle like a duck.

Step three: Swing Your Arms. Not only does it help with balance, you'll look confident and carefree--you know, fun.

Step four: Watch your posture: head up, shoulders back, stomach strong, legs straight yet relaxed.

Step five: Walk with smooth, even steps. You might have to shorten your stride.

Step six: Practice! Your family and friends might tease you, but when you're out on the town, trying to impress in Vegas, at the prom, on a first date, etc., etc., you'll look fabulous, confident, and, yes, gorgeous.

Need a visual? Here's a video about walking in heels:

Other than watching too many young women struggle to walk in their cute high-heeled shoes, I had a wonderful time in Las Vegas. I spoke at the Nevada region's SCBWI conference and met so many wonderful, talented writers and illustrators. Keep plugging along, everyone!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Is it me or the glasses?

I was admiring the wide-nosed, catlike, blue people in Avatar, thinking that maybe big noses might be "in," when my husband turned to me and said, "[silly nickname]*** in her glasses." And then he chuckled. I think he laughed at my 3-D glasses three more times during the movie. It wasn't mean-spirited at all, more like he found me charming, you know, in a funny-looking way.

He looks good in glasses, any glasses, a theory that has been tested many times. He even looks good in those 3-D glasses. But the whole situation got me thinking, would I ever want to go on a first date to a 3-D movie?

I like to think I'm more confident, more evolved now. But my teenage self? Never would've seen a 3-D movie with a guy--even one with beautiful wide-nosed characters. What about you?

***I cannot reveal my silly nicknames. Too embarrassing. Let's just say that I refuse to let anyone call me "baby" and my husband dislikes "honey" as a food product so I can't call him that. We've gotten creative...maybe too creative.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Breaking Up With Alexandra Diaz

Welcome to my new feature: break up stories. My main character in Swoon At Your Own Risk has a problem collecting ex-boyfriends so all throughout 2010, I'll be hosting guest authors, various kinds of professionals, and others who have experienced a breakup.

Today I'm excited to introduce debut author Alexandra Diaz. Her first novel, Of All The Stupid Things (Egmont USA), has just hit the shelves. Leave a comment below and enter to win a copy!

Here's what Alexandra has to say about breaking up:

While some people might have great stories about one break up or another, in my experience there are two kinds of breaks ups.

The first one starts off with me assuming that everything is going fine. I enjoy his company, he seems to enjoy mine. But then he stops calling. Or doesn’t return my calls. The paranoid side of me wonders what I did wrong and checks to makes sure everything is ok. His silent treatment continues and I get frustrated and angry. I scream in my head that if he wants me, he can make the effort to contact me himself. He never does and eventually I take the hint that I’ve been dumped by the silent treatment.

The second kind of break up is often a mutual decision, though more often then not suggested by him, because we’re moving apart personally, emotionally, or geographically. These are the breaks ups where we end up as friends, or at least that’s the plan. I find myself hoping he moves on quickly because the break up is more painful than I anticipated though I know getting back together is not the solution.

It’s always hard finding myself in these situations, after all no one like rejection even if it is a mutual or necessary decision. I just have to keep reminding myself that the break up is ultimately for the best, but also accept that things might take some time, and that’s ok too.

More About Alexandra:

Alexandra Diaz is a Cuban-American spending her time between Bath, England, Santa Fe, NM, and the rest of the world. She has an MA in Writing for Young People and has led various workshops since she was fourteen. As a result of being homeschooled for most of high school, she's fascinated by teenage school life and the drama that occurs in those quarters. One of the reasons she writes is to experience life in someone else's shoes. She is a "jenny of all trades" having worked as a nanny, teacher, film extra, tour guide, and dairy goat judge (seriously) among several other jobs. In addition to traversing the world, she enjoys hiking, swing dancing, and the prospect of flying. Find out more at: www.alexandra-diaz.com

About Of All The Stupid Things:

When a rumor starts circulating that Tara’s boyfriend has been with one of the guy cheerleaders, the innuendo doesn’t just hurt Tara. It marks the beginning of the end for three lifelong friends. Tara’s training for a marathon, but also running from her fear of abandonment from her father. Whitney Blaire seems to have everything, but an empty mansion and absentee parents leave her looking for her own value in the wrong places. And Pinkie has a compulsive need to mother everyone to make up for the mama she’s never stopped missing. Then the new girl arrives in school and Tara starts to feel things she’s never felt for before for a girl. Can the girls’ friendship survive when all the rules have changed?

To win a copy Of All The Stupid Things leave a comment. The contest is open to anyone in the world, but it closes on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 (please leave contact info).

If you have your own breakup story you'd like to share, email me at sydneysalter AT mac DOT com.