Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Clever or Cruel?

I got really excited--and my heart rate picked up a bit--when I spotted this abandoned near the airport luggage carousel on my spring vacation (I love finding pennies, so this was a real coup!):

Looking around to see if anyone had accidentally dropped it--nope--I eagerly picked it up. And discovered that it was, well, not exactly what I imagined:

Yup. It was a business card. Soon we spotted those $100 teasers everywhere: sitting atop suitcases chugging around the luggage carousel, underneath men's loafers, casually lounging on nearby chairs. My daughters gathered several, and I kept mine. So all throughout our vacation, we looked like the kind of people who use $100 bills as bookmarks. And I'm sure we made more than one hotel employee feel incredibly honest as a casually left bill on the nightstand was moved to a more "secure" location.

But I'm still trying to decide if this is a really clever business card--or a cruel hoax. What do you think?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Contest Winner!


Sierra is the winner of Stacey Jay's hilarious zombie trio!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Advice From Miss Swoon (2)

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Dear Miss Swoon:
I've always had short hair because I do a lot of sports--and it's just easier, you know? But now I'm dating this guy who really wants me to grow my hair long. He thinks long hair is sexy and he's always pointing out cute girls with long hair when we go out together. Should I change my hair for my boyfriend? It’s only hair, right? –Wondering

Dear Wondering:

How do you feel when your boyfriend points out how sexy other girls are with their long, beautiful hair? Deflated? Put down? These are emotions to pay attention to when a guy you like has offered a "helpful" suggestion.

It's time to pay attention to those little hurts that you would like to ignore. It's time to think about what is actually going on. Your guy is trying to get you to change your very identity. He's not just trying to alter an annoying behavior you would be better off without (like slurping your shake). He's trying to change a decision you made about your life because it works for your love of sports. He's trying to get you to subordinate your life for his.

Your boyfriend is subtly testing you to see if you are willing to give up a part of yourself to please him. If you do decide to (just for this one thing), he will soon be asking you to skip practice to spend time with him. After all, don't you love him more than stupid, sweaty sports that aren't very feminine anyway?

These are the behaviors of a controller and they are huge red flags for a relationship. Control starts so small you hardly realize it and ends with you wondering how you lost yourself. In a good relationship your life is as important as your guy's and he'll be in the bleachers cheering you on, thinking, "Short hair is so sexy!" just because YOU have it. So, Wondering, it’s not really your hair, it’s your life. –Miss Swoon

Miss Swoon is a licensed psychologist who has a special affinity for her adolescent clients.
Do you have your own question for Miss Swoon? Leave a comment or send an email here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stacey Jay is back with another hilarious zombie tale, My So Called Death. Leave a comment and win the entire series! Here's her relationship advice:

1. What is the dumbest or smartest thing you've done after a breakup?

The dumbest thing I ever did was start dating my ex's best friend in a deranged attempt to "get back at my ex" for dumping me. It led to a bunch of horrid drama that was not worth the trouble. But my Scorpio heart is easily tempted by the idea of "revenge". It took me many years to get control of that particular personality trait.

2. It's your turn to play Miss Swoon--give us your best relationship advice.

Do your best to be the most wonderful person you can be and believe you are worthy of love. It's amazing how attractive confidence based in loving yourself and others can be to the opposite sex.

3. If you could go on a date with any fictional character, who would it be?

I can't answer that question. My husband is very jealous, even of fictional characters and imaginary friends ;)

Book Summary:
Just because you don't have a pulse doesn't mean you can't be perky.

One second, freshman Karen Vera's on top of the most fabulous cheer pyramid ever. The next, she's lying on the pavement with seriously unflattering cranial damage. Freakishly alive without a pulse, Karen learns that she's a genetically undead zombie.

Suddenly, Karen's non-life is an epic disaster. She's forced to attend a boarding school for the "death-challenged," her roommate is a hateful wannabe-Goth weirdo, and she's chowing down on animal brains every day to prevent rot (um, ew?). Even worse, someone is attacking students and harvesting their brains for a forbidden dark ritual. And it might be the hottest guy at DEAD High, the one who makes Karen's non-beating heart flutter!

Armed with a perky smile and killer fashion sense, it's up to Karen to track down the brain snatcher and save her fellow students from certain zombie death.

Author Bio:
Stacey Jay is a workaholic with three pen names, and a sick sense of humor. She loves creepies, crawlies, and of course, romance. What would a zombie novel--or any novel--be without kisses that make your toes tingle? Buy your own copy at

Stacey has been a full time writer since 2005 and can't think of anything she'd rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, and waiter. Find out more at

To win copies of You're So Undead To Me, Undead Much?, and My So Called Death, please leave a comment below by Sunday, April 25, 2010.
Open to anyone who fears zombies may be lurking nearby.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Contest Winner!


The Random Number Generator picked #12: ElissaCruz.

For a little more Swoon At Your Own Risk fun check out Book Chick's review, Robolobolyn's Universe of Books review, Janet Fox at Through The Wardrobe's interview, and Readergirlz Holly Cupala's interview.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why I Write Middle Grade

I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy Spring Break with my 8th grader, I'm just saying that if I could've made her wear a burkha in the hotel pool, I would have. I've also learned that last summer's bikini top should always be tried on before this year's vacation. Okay, enough about my daughter picking up a sophomore in the hot tub...

My point is this: I spent many moments feeling wistful about my 10-year-old as she skipped down hiking trails, fell in love with stuffed animals in gift shops, and relished every new experience with exuberance. Every now and then she'd stop to bump pinkie fingers with me.

I know it won't be long until she learns to roll her eyes, scoff with disdain, and attract the attention of boys at the hotel pool. Fortunately this came in the mail while I was gone:

A package of letters from 4th graders in Overland Park, Kansas! Dozens of adorable thank you notes with pictures. Several kids felt inspired to become writers, others loved Jungle Crossing, some "might" read it now that they've met me, a few can't wait to get older so they can read my teen novels. I learned about their pets, their families, the imaginative stories they love to write. One girl told me about her favorite books, but confessed that she occasionally checks out Captain Underpants so she won't look "weird." Aw!

I almost cried with relief at the realization that because I write middle grade novels, I will always be able to hang out with sweet, spunky, spontaneous 10 year olds!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Operation Teen Book Drop

Today I've joined the Readergirlz and 100 other authors in Operation Teen Book Drop 2010. The goal is to leave books in teen friendly locations. So where better than my daughter's junior high school. And I have to confess that I enjoyed the slight embarrassment she suffered photographing her mother in the school commons (now if only she would allow me chaperone a dance--think of the material!!!).

Next I headed to Burger Stop a favorite haunt for Layton High School students. The woman working thought I was insane, but she agreed to take a photo of me and my book, and then she started paging through it. So maybe I've found another reader...

Finally, I headed to the Starbucks near Northridge High School. Not only do plenty of teens head there during lunch and after school, if you bring your own mug on Tax Day, they'll fill it with coffee for free. Yay! But the best part is that I got to see Ashley, a barista who has been there through oh-so many of my cafe writing sessions.

To find out more about Operation TBD check out You can find out who is involved, join a chat, or maybe even find a book in your hometown.

Happy reading, everyone!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Breaking Up With Chris Eboch

Please join me in welcoming author Chris Eboch's take on breaking up. I'm also giving away her books so leave a comment!

The very words "breakup" suggests destruction, separation, loss. But sometimes a breakup is actually a renewal, a rebuilding. My best friend is a former boyfriend. The romantic relationship didn't work out, but once we acknowledged that, we could get back to the intellectual and emotional bond that had brought us together. The breakup also allowed us to move forward and find new romantic partners, new satisfying relationships.

In publishing, I got "orphaned" when the editor of my new Haunted series got fired. Most writers treat this as a tragedy, but I thought, Maybe he'll land somewhere else, and I'll have a new contact at a different house. In fact, he started his own literary agency, and asked me to be a client. I hope this new relationship will work out well for both of us, as the connection shifts but doesn't sever. Every breakup is a chance to rebuild, to figure out what you really want and where you belong.

Chris Eboch’s middle grade Haunted series follows a brother and sister who travel with their parents’ ghost hunter TV show. The kids try to help the ghosts, while keeping their activities secret from meddling grownups. The Haunted series includes The Ghost on the Stairs, The Riverboat Phantom and The Knight in the Shadows. Find out more at:

To win all three books in the Haunted series, please leave a comment by Wednesday, April 21, 2010.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Swoon At Your Own Risk Release Day Prize!

Time for presents--today is Swoon At Your Own Risk's official birthday!!!

Enter to win a BIG beach bag, a soft beach towel, a reusable water bottle, and a signed copy of Swoon At Your Own Risk. Of course, if you'd like to rush out and buy your own copy today, I won't try to stop you. You can also find it online at, B&, or Indibound.

Here's a review from Booklist:

Boy crazy in a house full of women, Polly is facing a summer nightmare of working a crummy water park job being supervised by an ex—and in a bathing suit no less! Hoping to learn from her advice-columnist grandmother, Polly swears off guys and tries to improve herself by following “Miss Swoon’s” affirmations and attempting to mend a rift with her best friend, Jane. Unfortunately, skater/poet (and formerly weird neighbor kid) Xander keeps showing up at the park to babysit relatives and catches Polly’s eye. Polly uses humor to deflect most real conversations, which makes her the life of the party but leaves her lacking in the serious-relationship department. What appears to be a frothy summer confection delves into some heftier emotions as the underlying issues motivating Polly’s actions, as well as those of her mom and grandma, are uncovered. Each chapter ends with snippets from Miss Swoon’s advice columns, Xander’s poetic observations about Polly, or entries from a coworker’s gossip blog. --Heather Booth (Booklist)

Leave a comment by midnight April 18, 2010 to enter!
Open to swimmers and readers everywhere.