Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Collecting Characters

Summer vacation is here and that means a break from big chunks of quiet writing time. But that's okay because I plan to spend the next few weeks researching my next story; it's easier to squeeze reading between fun activities. But I'm still writing every day.

My challenge: collect 50 characters before school starts.

So far I've imagined a Starbuck's employee's tumultuous breakup, written a voicy piece about a rebellious teenage couple who actually have a really good relationship, and I stretched myself by seeing things from a too-curious Seeing-Eye puppy-in-training's point of view (I wish I had a photo of that cutie!). Last week I found a grocery list on the floor of my supermarket and wrote about the woman behind the ingredients. Here's the list so you can try it too:

Today I plan to write about the teen who wore her zebra snuggie to the pharmacy.

Is it wrong to take sneaky photos of strangers? Maybe. But I guess my friend gave me a "Careful, or I'll put you in my novel..." tote bag for a reason!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On The Go With Jessica Brody + Giveaway

Please welcome Jessica Brody, author of My Life Undecided. Leave a comment to win a copy!

1. You have been given your Dream Vacation. Where are you going and what are you doing?

Nice! My dream vacation would be a cruise around the world. I LOVE boats and I’ve always wanted to live on one. So for me, a cruise would be the ideal way to see the world.

2. What if you could travel to a different time period?

I would love to travel back to visit the court of Henry VIII. I’m obsessed with Tudor history.  I think it’d be fun. All the gossip and intrigue…and dresses! But my big, opinionated mouth would probably land me in the tower for some sort of treason.

3. Are you a planner or a seat-of-the pants traveler?

I can be both. My husband and I travel a ton and we’ve had trips that have been planned for months and trips we plan the day before we go. I’ve learned to be very flexible when I travel and to pack light. There’s something very exciting about traveling spontaneously, but I also love the build up that comes with a trip that’s planned a while in advance.

4. What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you on vacation?

When I was five years old I got pneumonia when my family was on vacation in Lake Tahoe. I don’t remember it all that well, but I do remember feeling like total crap! And feeling very left out when everybody was out skiing and I was stuck in the hotel taking ice baths to bring down my fever! Thankfully, nothing that bad has happened since (knock on wood!)

About The Book:


Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.

Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.

But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I’m gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else be the one to decide which book I read for English. Or whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich Maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: Chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!

Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever.

But don’t take my word for it, read the book and decide for yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. After all, it’s my life.

"Brooklyn is a sympathetic protagonist with whom teens will identify. Her journey is fun to read, and decision-challenged readers will learn an important lesson about self-acceptance along the way."
--School Library Journal

"Brody taps into a universal human desire...An amusing coming-of-age story with many funny moments...[Brooklyn's] flustered, off-the-cuff narration should keep readers as invested in her actions as her blog followers are."
--Publisher's Weekly

A few fun facts about Jessica Brody’s own life undecided:
  • Jessica was born in Los Angeles, moved to Colorado when she was twelve, moved back to California after college and now indecisively splits her time between both states.
  • Jessica graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts with majors in Economics and French because she was convinced she wanted to be an “important business woman.” After a brief stint as a strategic analyst for MGM Studios, she abandoned her business background to become a full-time writer. Now she uses her mad spreadsheet skills to build complicated outlines for her books.
  • Appropriately, when writing this book, Jessica couldn’t decide on a title. So she polled 50 of her closest friends to finally come up with My Life Undecided.
  • Visit her online at:

Coming soon:, where you can post your own undecided questions, poll the community, and get some answers.

If you'd like to win your own copy, please leave a comment by Wednesday, June 15, 2011! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Last weekend the weather finally warmed enough for our pet tortoises to play outside.

As I sat outside reading & watching Sunny and Sandy, I thought about my favorite tortoise quote:

"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." --Martha Beck, Finding Your Own North Star

I've been collecting turtle figurines on my travels for many years, but none are as charming as the real thing!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

U2: Creative Longevity

Last Thursday my husband and I went to the U2 concert in Salt Lake City, his eighth, my fifth. Many of our memories together involve U2--like the time we bought the Joshua Tree album, a bag of Doritos, and headed out on our first road trip together through the Mohave desert's Joshua trees (so cool!) on the way to my dad's house. A few years later we had so much fun seeing a U2 show in Tacoma, Washington that we drove to Vancouver, BC the next night to catch it again. Many years later, we caravanned to Denver with young kids-in-tow to see the band.

I'll leave it to my husband and his music-loving friends to debate the quality of U2's recent albums, I'm simply impressed by the band's creative longevity. How has U2 managed to connect with so many fans for so many years? Among the 50,000 of us who watched Thursday's concert were elementary school kids perched on their dads' shoulders, teens swaying with friends, and many of us sporting gray hair.

I think the answer is authenticity. Whether it's "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Bullet The Blue Sky," or "Walk On," Bono writes about issues that matter to him. And he backs up his words with political action.

As writers we receive a lot of mixed messages: don't follow are the trends. But I think we should learn a lesson from U2: write what matters to you, means something to you, and you'll connect with others.

And it doesn't hurt if you look good in leather pants!

Contest Winner!


Gaby is the winner of Elizabeth Scott's new novel Between Here And Forever.