Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guest Nose: Cindy Pon

Today I'm happy to welcome Cindy Pon debut author of Silver Phoenix

this is from cindy pon's personal files. i think i was around 14 or 15 when i got a 2.5 inch gash on my forearm after scratching it against a wooden fence. i happened to read a teen mag with "beauty tips" and it suggested to apply pure vitamin e oil on scabs, to help it heal with little markings. so off i went to the drug store to buy the stuff, and proceeded to slather it on. imagine my horror, when a few days later, i developed itchy blisters all along my arm. my mom took me too a chinese doctor who asked about my SEXUAL activities. what? did i have arm herpes? (i had yet to kiss a boy at this age, mind you!) but it turned out to be just a skin allergy. i was beyond mortified, to say the least.

 About Silver Phoenix – Beyond the Kingdom of Xia

On the day of her first betrothal meeting--and rejection--ai ling discovers a power welling deep within her. She can reach into other people's spirits, hear their thoughts, see their dreams...and that's just the beginning.

ai ling has been marked by the immortals; her destiny lies in the emperor's palace, where a terrible evil has lived, stealing souls, for centuries. She must conquer this enemy and rescue her captive father, while mythical demons track her every step. And then she meets chen yong, a young man with a quest of his own, whose fate is intertwined with hers. Here is a heart-stopping, breathtaking tale for fans of action, fantasy, and romance--of anything with the making of legend. To buy your own copy click here.

About Cindy Pon

Cindy Pon was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and her family immigrated to California in 1980, settling in the suburbs of Los Angeles. She began writing stories before she was officially declared English proficient. She received her bachelor's from the University of California, San Diego, and also earned a master's from New York University. The author is a student of Chinese brush painting, and her love for the art is reflected in her storytelling. Cindy Pon lives with her husband and two small children in San Diego, California. Find out more about Cindy at

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Exercising, but not that kind

This time of year everyone is talking about exercise, you know, getting your body "bikini ready" whatever that means. Skimpy swimwear aside, exercise is important to keep your body healthy. But what about creative exercises? (And I'm not talking about weird yoga poses.)

I like to exercise my writing. It's a good way to stretch my skills, warm-up before attacking a blank page, come up with new ideas, and keep perfectionism at bay. No one ever sees my writing exercises, but I have turned some of them into sold magazine stories, novel scenes, or used them to develop characters.

Right now these are my favorite exercise books.

I have had so much fun with my Wreck This Journal. The tasks are sometimes crazy! But it's been a sanity saver as I wait to hear from my editor or agent or just plain worry about stuff over which I have no control. Last night I listed all kinds of "sticky" situations before dripping honey all over the page as requested. So liberating! Even my non-artsy daughter has begged for her own copy--not wanting to miss out on the fun. Here are a couple of other pages:

The other book I've really enjoyed is called The Write-Brain Workbook.

The exercises are short, but unique, plus there's a bonus refection exercise that asks you to think about your writing life in a unique way. Here's a sample:

Even if you don't consider yourself a "writer," try doing some creative exercises--in a no pressure, just for fun kind of way. We all need to exercise our creativity in some way, right?

How do you show your creative side?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Looking Forward to Shopping

I hate shopping for clothes (for anyone). And I'm not really fond of the mall--unless I'm hiding in the food court with my writing notebook eavesdropping on people and making up stories about them (someday I'll find a story for that Hot Dog On A Stick girl...). But today I'm kind of excited about going to the mall. I'm actually looking forward to buying my daughter a whole bunch of new clothes!

My daughter has bravely endured two spinal surgeries--one for a benign tumor, a second to correct a curve resulting from the first surgery. Last May she found out that the rest of her spine had started to curve. And she'd have to wear a back brace for 23 hours a day. Every day. Not the greatest way to start junior high.

The thick plastic brace acted like a corset, squeezing her stomach so she couldn't eat a full
meal, rubbing her skin red and raw, and, yeah, it gave her cleavage a nice boost, but finding clothes has been torture. Pants have to be bought a couple of sizes too big to fit around the bottom of the brace. T-shirts won't work. An undershirt has to be worn under everything. Most teen girls love to shop, but my daughter dreads it.

Until today! We got great news at this year's checkup. My daughter only has to wear the brace for 8 hours a day (at night). I'm so incredibly proud of the courage and grace with which my daughter has handled yet another physical challenge. So let's shop M&M!!!

See you this afternoon Hot Dog On A Stick girl.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman

Today it's my pleasure to introduce you to Cheryl Renee Herbsman's debut novel, Breathing. This is a great summer beach read with a make-you-swoon love story at its center. I really identified with this story because, like Savannah, the main character in my own love story has asthma.

I'll never forget taking my boyfriend to the college health center because his cold had gotten a lot worse and he wheezed with every breath. An hour later, he literally started turning blue and the nurses called an ambulance. He spent a week fighting for every breath in the Intensive Care Unit. So scary! (Cheryl's character Savannah is also hospitalized with asthma.)

But the worst part came later. My boyfriend had been an athlete, playing for the college soccer team, his fraternity's basketball team, and he loved to run. Asthma complicated all of that. I used to sit in the bleachers holding his inhaler, watching him play basketball until his skin tinted blue and he gasped for breath. But he just wouldn't give up all the activities he loved so much.

So often we focus on our physical appearance while taking our physical health for granted. Novels like Cheryl Renee Herbsman's Breathing remind us about the things that are really important in life: health, love, and happiness.

About Breathing
What if the guy who took your breath away was the only one who could help you breathe?

Savannah would be happy to spend the summer in her coastal Carolina town lying in a hammock reading her beloved romance novels and working at the library. But then she meets Jackson. Once they lock eyes, she’s convinced he’s the one—her true love, her soul mate, a boy different from all the rest. And at first it looks like Savannah is right. Jackson abides by her mama’s strict rules, and stays by her side during a hospitalization for severe asthma, which Savannah becomes convinced is only improving because Jackson is there. But when he’s called away to help his family—and seems uncertain about returning—Savannah has to learn to breathe on her own, both literally and figuratively.

This debut novel has it all—an endearing, funny, hopelessly romantic main character, lots of down-home Southern charm, and a sunny, salty beach setting that will transport you to the Carolina coast. Buy your own copy here.

About Chery Renee Herbsman
Cheryl Renée Herbsman lives in Northern California with her husband and two children, but she grew up in North Carolina and often spent summer vacations at the Carolina coast. Like Savannah, she fell in love as a teenager, and like Savannah and Jackson, she and her boyfriend carried on a long-distance relationship. They are now celebrating their twentieth wedding anniversary. Read more about Cheryl at

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vomit Karma

Lately I’ve read a few debut novels with very memorable vomiting scenes. So why would I focus on something so, well, gross? I have bad vomit karma. If one of my daughters’ friends has a woozy stomach, I’m pretty much guaranteed that she will hurl on my carpet. Oh, and she will have recently eaten something red or orange. My dog also regularly upchucks under my desk (I try not to take that too personally or symbolically).

So why the bad karma?

Come back with me to junior high (why did everything traumatic happen during those brief years?!?). My mom’s friend had just purchased a brand-spanking new Camaro with plush baby blue seats. She drove over and offered to take us out for ice cream. Yum!

I flopped into the curvy bucket seat, already knowing what flavor I’d order: pink bubble-gum. I quickly snarfed down an oversized single cone (we did not eat in the car). On the brief drive home, my stomach started flipping and flopping. I vomited. Pink ice cream, decorated with bits of dinner, splattered the baby blue interior like a really bad abstract painting. Good-bye new car smell!

The humiliation! The word “sorry” just doesn’t cover pink bubble-gum ice cream chunder on baby blue car interior. I think about this incident every time I’m cleaning up someone else’s vomit. And I always feel worse about that car than I do about my carpet.

If you’d like to read some humiliating (and hopefully fictional) vomit scenes check out: Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne (three cones), Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley (two cones), and Freaked by JT Dutton (five cones). I recommend all the other scenes in these books too!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Guest Nose: Danielle Joseph

I'm happy to be hosting Danielle Joseph today. I spent the weekend reading Shrinking Violet. The book made me laugh, but also really made me think--especially about the shy girls I knew in high school. Some of them were so pretty and smart, but entirely unnoticed. I love the way Shrinking Violet shows how a shy girl uses her passion for music to find her own unique voice. The book is full of other great thinking moments, but I'll let you discover those on your own. This book seriously belongs in your beach/pool bag!

Here's what Danielle says:
In Shrinking Violet, Tere has a lot of insecurities about her looks. Much of this comes from her mother who wants Tere to be a "popular girl". Tere is much more comfortable in jeans and her fav band tee. Throughout her life she has struggled with self image but as she finds her voice, she begins to take more risks with her outer appearance without compromising who she is. And her biggest fashion embarrassment is when she has to dress as Helen Keller for a school assignment.

About Shrinking Violet
For high school senior Teresa Adams, every day is an ordeal. She’s so painfully shy that she lives in dread of having to speak to anyone in the hallways or answer questions in class. But after school, in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks—doing mock broadcasts for Miami’s hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up, Tere surprises herself by working up the nerve to ask her stepfather to give her a chance—and finds herself The SLAM’s newest intern on one of the station’s most popular shows. Behind the mike she’s Sweet T, her sexy, confident on-air persona. To everyone’s shock—especially her mother’s—Sweet T is a hit. Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ’s awesome taste in music, making Tere wonder if it’s possible to be jealous of yourself. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest—and a prom date with “Sweet T” is the grand prize--Sweet T’s dream could turn into Tere’s worst nightmare. . . . Buy your own copy here!

About Danielle Joseph
Danielle Joseph was a college DJ for five years on the Gyroscope, a world music show. She also interned at several top Boston radio stations while earning her BFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Marketing Communications and Advertising from Emerson College. She has taught Creative Writing and English to Middle school students.

Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Danielle now lives in Miami, Florida with her husband and two young sons. These days you can find her cruising around with the tunes blaring and her internal DJ hard at work. Read more about Danielle: 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Beauty Faux Pax

I've committed a beauty faux pax: in my writing. My curly-haired protagonist in My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters would never brush her hair so much, according to reader and blogger Underage Reading

I had no idea. See, as a straight-haired person, I've always envied those with curls. I watch them emerge from swimming pools looking like Venus, while my hair dries plastered to my head in a gargoyle-like fashion. I've watched them bunch wild tangles into cute ponytails at slumber parties while I slick my greasy hair into a scrunchie that overwhelms my thin hair (and did I mention, greasy?). I refused to listen to their complaints. 

But I've learned my lesson! I guess we all manage our hair with various tricks, whether it's lots of conditioner and little brushing, or little conditioner and lots of brushing. As a writer, I vow to do better beauty research too! 

Now, what beauty faux pax do you hate to see when you read?