Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Out And About

Since it's summer and all, I'm out vacationing on other blogs. Check out my interviews on Frenetic Reader  as well as Cynsations

Having a great time--wish you were here! XOXOXO --Sydney

Monday, June 29, 2009

Homage to Michael Jackson

Friday night my husband came home from work, flipped through his old vinyl collection, and found Michael Jackson's Thriller album so we could pay homage to The King of Pop. We reminisced about various MJ-related memories, and he once again teased me about my poor musical tastes in high school (I should never have confessed my love of "Caribbean Queen" to him early in our relationship!). 

And then came the song: "Beat It."

Whoosh! The time machine of my memory swept me back to 1983, into my high school gym, at drill team tryouts, right as the kick routine started. 

Okay, here's a little backstory. Despite the fact that my dance training ended with fourth grade ballet, I decided that being a Reno High Huskiette would be really fun. Oh, and my mom was the drill team coach. 

Coaches are really busy during drill team tryouts. And easily distracted. I made the mistake of sounding too vague while asking her a question in front of a group of senior Huskiettes (hey, I was super nervous). Somehow my mom got the idea that I was having some kind of menstrual emergency and handed me two quarters! Exasperated, I gave up, slipped the quarters into the tiny pocket in my nylon shorts and sat on the bleachers waiting for my turn.

Three of us wanna-be Huskiettes stood on the gleaming wood floor to do the kick routine portion of tryouts. The now overly-familiar thump of "Beat It" commenced. I held my arms out, unsuccessfully trying not to flap like a chicken, and kicked like a show-girl, okay, maybe not so much. Clink. Clink. Kick. Clink. Clink. Kick. The quarters chimed in with each lift of my leg.

A few hours later when the Huskiettes passed out roses to the girls who made the team, I still harbored a tiny bit of hope (kind of like the hope that Thane Fisher would finally notice me).

I didn't receive a rose. And my mom thought the whole quarter debacle was hilarious. At least she took me out for a non-celebratory dinner.

The story has a happy, with-hard-work-you-can-do-anything kind of ending. I did make the team the following year. That journey started with enrolling my curvy self in dance classes with prepubertal girls, but I'll save those tales for another time.

Anyway, I cannot hear "Beat It" without suffering through that kick routine all over again! 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Guest Nose Mandy Hubbard

Today it's my pleasure to host Mandy Hubbard debut author of the very charming Prada and Prejudice. Like her main character Callie, Mandy has also struggled with her own fashion issues. Mandy says:

I was never a big risk taker in terms of fashion and beauty. I couldn't figure out mascara (let alone eye liner), and I was so tall that jeans were almost always high waters on me.

I do remember in 8th grade, taking a daring fashion risk: I wore jean shorts with nylons, tube socks, and combat boots. And I felt cute! My BFF definitely raised an eyebrow at me and wondered what I was thinking, but one of our more popular friends really loved the look. It still stands out in my mind—feeling bold and crazy for a day, walking down the halls. I wish I'd taken more risks instead of trying so hard to blend into the walls!

About Prada and Prejudice

Fifteen year old Callie just wants to impress the popular girls when she buys a pair of Prada heels on her class trip to London. She didn’t plan on tripping, conking her head, and waking up in 1815! Now she’s wearing corsets with her designer pumps, eating bizarre soups, and breaking up engagements. If only the nineteen year old Duke of Harksbury wasn’t so bloody annoying, she might have a little fun in Austen-Era England… Buy the book here! 

About Mandy Hubbard

Mandy Hubbard grew up on a dairy farm outside Seattle, where she refused to wear high heels until homecoming—and hated them so much she didn’t wear another pair for five years. A cowgirl at heart, she enjoys riding horses and quads and singing horribly to the latest country tune. She’s currently living happily ever after with her husband (who, sadly, is not a Duke) and her daughter (who is most definitely a princess). Prada and Prejudice is her first novel. Learn more about Mandy at http://mandyhubard.com

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Guest Nose Sarah Ockler

Growing up, I always had a bump on my nose. It wasn't a big deal -- no one pointed or laughed or shot me any horrified looks over it or anything. It just bugged me sometimes, like when I saw my profile pictures or spent a few hours before bed staring at it with a handheld mirror under all possible lighting conditions.

As high school progressed, I traded in my nose fetish for more important fixations, like single-handedly discovering the best big-hair products and cleavage-enhancing bras.

Fast forward a few years to my sophomore year of college. I was 19. I finally had awesome hair and pretty decent cleavage, sans push-up bra. And those old nose worries? Ancient history! I mean, who cares about a little ol' nose bump when I’ve got a C-cup, right? But then one stupid night, we were all goofing around in the dorm and suddenly... *snap!* My nose connected with someone's forearm! Oh, the agony! I was on my knees in an instant, holding my hands over my face, tears flowing, no sound coming out of my shocked-open mouth.

There was a lot of blood. Stars. Piercing pain. And then a reallysuperfast ride to the local hospital, where I spent approximately 8 hours waiting for an intern to tell me that my nose wasn't technically broken, just super swollen. He said I should go back to campus and ice it up for 20 minutes every hour for the next few days. Um, okay. It hurt *really* bad, but this guy was finishing *medical* school whereas I could barely pass my world history class. I shut up. I nodded solemnly. I headed back to my dorm, ice pack pressed to my aching schnozz, tears still fresh in my eyes. Yep. Roomies, let the pity party commence!

Ten days later, I received a call from a nurse at the hospital who was looking over my files…

Warning. This story is about to get *really* ugly. If you have a weak stomach, you might want to skip this whole paragraph. And the next one. Okay? Ready? Turns out the intern misread my X-rays. My nose was in fact broken. And after ten days of icing, the bone had started healing wrong, forming an even bigger bump than the one I’d all but forgotten years earlier. I cried, insisting that I didn’t care, telling a new doctor that I would rather live with a lumpy, bumpy, ginormously crooked nose than deal with any more medical stuff. And this doctor, this sage, gentle, 30-something-year-old doctor, rested his warm hands on my shoulders, met my teary gaze, and spoke softly when he said, “Sarah Ockler, you are the worst patient I’ve ever had. I’ve treated eight-year-olds with more maturity than you. Your nose is broken. The bone isn’t healing properly. And the only way we can help you is to break it again and reset it. There are no other options.”

Between Doctor Tough Love and my mother, I ultimately lost the battle and submitted to the re-breaking, which involved 2 large men holding me down as the doctor jammed a giant needle between my eyes and pressed hard on my nose until the bone snapped while I tried to windmill-punch them all in the nuts, as hard as I could. I mean, I had to do my part in preventing these freaky white-gowned sadomasochists from ever having kids! Ugh!

After the re-breaking ceremony, I swear I cried for like a month straight. My face hurt so bad! Even worse – I had to go around campus with giant, cross-wise bandages over my nose like a washed-up hockey player or boxing drop-out or some other equally unattractive oaf! I tried, but girls? All the great hair and cleavage in the world couldn’t hide those big brown bandages!

Anyway. After enduring two months of excruciating pain and embarrassment, I finally had a straight nose. Despite my earlier insubordination, the break healed perfectly, and the original bump – the one I’d mostly forgotten about in the first place – was totally gone. Yay!

Fifteen years later, I’m slightly less obsessive about my hair, my cleavage, and my nose. But I’ll always be grateful that Doctor Tough Love refused to indulge my worse-than-an-eight-year-old temper tantrum, enduring my rolling eyes and violent threats and failed attempts to sterilize him, all in the name of fixing my broken nose.

Thanks, Doc.

And thanks, Sydney, for hosting my guest nose! 

About Twenty Boy Summer

While on vacation in California, sixteen-year-old best girlfriends Anna and Frankie conspire to find a boy for Anna’s first summer romance, but Anna harbors a painful secret that threatens their lighthearted plan and their friendship.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER is a debut YA novel that explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer. Buy the book at Indiebound here or at Barnes & Noble.

About Sarah Ockler

Sarah Ockler wrote and illustrated her first book at age six—an adaptation of Steven Spielberg's E.T. Still recovering from her own adolescence, Sarah now writes for young adults. After several years of wandering between New York City and Denver, she and her husband Alex now live in Upstate New York with lots of books and an ever-expanding collection of sea glass. Twenty Boy Summer is Sarah's first novel. Visit her online at www.sarahockler.com.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Charity Auction

I'm so excited to help fellow debut author Cynthea Liu celebrate the release of Paris Pan Takes The Dare by joining in her charity auction. So many amazing authors are participating and I'm happy to be donating a five-page critique of a middle-grade or young adult manuscript (or a synopsis and query letter). http://www.cynthealiu.com

Go bid! All the money goes to help children at a title I school in Oklahoma (Cynthea's home state). Click here to bid

Monday, June 15, 2009

Musing After My 1st Solo Signing

On Saturday I packed my book signing bag with my favorite pens, postcards for my next book (Jungle Crossing), chocolate kisses, SCBWI brochures, plus my cute new bookplates, and headed off to my hometown Barnes & Noble all by myself. Eeek!

First I have to say, if you're going to publish a book make sure you have lots of friends. Every time a familiar face came into the store, I felt a sparkle of gratitude. Everyone from my writing group stopped in to say hello. Friends I haven't spent much time with since our kids were toddlers bought books. And many, many of my husband's colleagues came (having a well-liked husband helps too).

Most people avoid a book selling author like a communicable disease. My psychologist mother says I'm projecting, but I swear people wonder what's wrong with a book that has to be babysat by its author. But there were plenty of people who did stop by to ask about the book, talk about writing, and buy books. That was pretty exciting! 

One guy did ask me for directions to the bathroom. I thought he was joking. He wasn't. Awkward! But I should've known. He was the same guy who came up to me and said, "You're not Dan Brown" after seeing my book advertised next to the bestseller on the store's front door. I'd thought he was joking then too. Scary thought: maybe he wasn't. 

Two hours into my signing, I realized that I could cast the characters for a trilogy--in any genre--just using the folks shopping in the store (I'm talking to you, dude, with your pants around your thighs, screaming out, "People who read for fun make me sick!").

But the best part of the day--I saw SO many people buying books, all kinds of books. Entire families crowded the store, groups of teen boys came in together, giggling girls, couples of all ages... All of them leaving with bags of books (some of them even included mine).

I'll be signing again--with friends--at the Orem, Utah Barnes & Noble on June 23rd and for Girls' Night Out at The Purple Cow in Tooele, Utah on June 25th. 


Another chance to win a fabulous 2009 Debutantes gift bag!

Find Out What's In The Bag And Win It Today

Monday, June 8, 2009

On The Radio

I woke up early this morning, exercised, ate my Cheerios, and primped--for my very first radio interview. I know, I know I could've done it in my pajamas, but I felt really nervous--about my nose. Crazy, huh? No one sees you on the radio. 

Blame it on a Seattle DJ. 

Back when my husband (then boyfriend) was a ramen-eating grad student, he supplemented his non-existent income by winning radio contests. He won concert tickets, CDs, and lots of cash. Every day he called into the "Use Your Noodle" contest on KXRX. He's a smart guy with a great memory and probably played too many hours of Trivial Pursuit, but it paid off in radio contest wins. 

But they wouldn't let him win every day or even every week. So he'd make me call in. 

DJs have to be funny. I understand that. And the easiest way to be funny: make fun of someone else. 

I don't remember the Use Your Noodle question. I don't even remember if I got it right. All I remember is the witty female DJ laughing about my voice and saying something about "nose timber." Now she might have meant "timbre" (the sound or quality of a voice). But I envisioned my nose stuffed with Giant Redwood trees. 

My Big Huge Nose stuffed with the world's largest trees and making me sound really, really, really bad on the radio.

And it has stuck with me all these years. It didn't help that I woke up sniffling with allergies this morning. Nose Timber!!! But I have to say that the radio interview turned out to be fun. I love to talk about writing. And Rachel Hanel at KMSU in Mankato, Minnesota conducts a very nice (and friendly) interview. 

Now that I've taken an axe to my fear of nose timber, I'm actually excited to do it again sometime.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Five Things

Here are five things (not people) that I wouldn't want to live without:

1. chocolate

2. books

3. cats

4. down pillows

5. a diary

What wouldn't you want to live without? 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Guest Nose: Aprilynne Pike

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Aprilynne Pike, debut author of Wings--and I would tell you how much I loved her book, but my teenager swiped it and disappeared with it for hours and hours, emerging starry-eyed only to feed. That's a pretty high recommendation at my house!

Aprilynne kindly shares one of her beauty Do's (Or a beauty ouch, if you ask me!)

I have always been a bit of an eyebrow plucker, but in college (yes, it took me that long) I discovered waxing. Ah, it was a glorious day! After trying it on a few less conspicuous areas, I decided to do my eyebrows. I did pretty well, got a nice curved line, but I forgot about gravity. Specifically the force that pulls the melty wax downward and onto your eyelashes. So after I was done waxing my eyebrows I had to get it off of my eyelashes without pulling THEM out! I managed to leave at least half of my eyelashes intact using a bunch of baby oil. From that, I learned to wax whatever else I wanted to, but to get my eyebrows done professionally. :)

About Wings

Aprilynne Pike's WINGS is the first of four books about an ordinary girl named Laurel who discovers she is a faerie sent among humans to guard the gateway to Avalon. When Laurel is thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she's torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to both worlds. To buy your own copy of Wings click here.

About Aprilynne Pike

Aprilynne Pike has been spinning faerie stories since she was a child with a hyper-active imagination. At the age of twenty she received her BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found at the gym; she also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and working with pregnant moms as a childbirth educator and doula. Aprilynne currently lives with her husband and three kids in Utah, and dreams of warmer climates. To find out more about Aprilynne see http://www.aprilynnepike.com/