A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013



My book trailer for DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE is blasting across the internet on 116 different blogs!!!

This is the kick-off event for the blog tour that will lead up to (and beyond) the official release of  DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE next week.

How YOU can get involved:

For easy entries for the Trailer Blast contest go to Book Nerds Tours. Or go to one of the blogs featuring my trailer:

If you live in Western Washington or want to come all the way here for a signed book and some really good cake you can come to my launch party at the Olympia Barnes and Noble at 7:00 on September 17th. (I promise the cake alone is worth the trip.)

While you contemplate the drive or look into plane tickets, you can celebrate with me by watching my trailer here or on one of the other blogs.

I'm so thrilled with how it came out! Thanks to my photographer and husband, David, the modeling talents of Annika, Sally, and Wyatt and the voice talents of Sabrina and Silem.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thank You Teachers

I've kind of fallen off the wagon as far as my thirty day blog experiment goes. I posted on Monday this week, but didn't write any posts Tuesday-Thursday. My simple (and not very good) excuse is, I was working.

It's been a while since I worked a non-mommy, non-writer, job a five full days in a row. It's been even longer since I worked at the same place for a full week. Doing that and then trying to handle anything writing related plus kid running around and church stuff left me totally exhausted. (And forget housework, cooking, or laundry, that just was not happening.)

I am in awe of any one who can write and hold down a another job. And any mom who works outside the home period. And especially working moms. There is a big cushy restful place in heaven for you.

I was working as a para-educator sub so I saw (as I have been seeing) the immense dedication and the huge amount of work that teachers (para-educators included) put in every single day. I was reminded of the huge amounts of  patience and love it takes to be a teacher. Wow.

Today is teacher appreciation day. I wanted to say a big thank you to all the teachers out there, the ones who inspired me, the ones who inspire my kids, and the ones who inspire kids all across our country. You guys deserve so much more appreciation and money and everything else.

It's sad that we live in such a backwards society; one that pays actors and athletes and politicians so much more that we pay the people shaping our future.

And while it's on my mind, thank you to some of my favorite teachers; Mrs. Reeves for being my first ever real teacher (kindergarten), Mrs. Kershaw, for just being a wonderfuly kind person, Mr. Peterson for making me feel like a grown up in sixth grade, Mr. Cook for appreciating my first poetry attempts, Mr. Angel for teaching me to be responsible and take pride in my work, Mrs. Mason for being tough and helping me with a subject I never liked, math, Ms. Leiniger for believing in me, teaching me to believe in myself, and opening my eyes to a wider world, Mr. Turnblom for teaching me to love music and understanding when I chose writing instead, Brother Johnson and Brother Thurgood for making me laugh and feeding my spirit, MS. WARNE, capitalized because she introduced me to great literature and the joy of writing, and because she put up with the most obnoxious all-girls yearbook staff ever. Also college professors, Kay Wilkins, Alan Bosard, and Bob Sink for introducing me to a world of stories and video that expanded my horizons in a direction I didn't know possible.

I know I've forgotten some (probably many), and I know I could fill another page with teachers who have inspired my children, but I'll save that for another day. 

For today I'll just send a grossly inadequate THANK YOU to all teachers for the love and dedication you show every day in the classroom!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Childhood's End?

When I got home today I was greeted by all four of my kid in swimsuits, jumping on the trampoline and shooting each other with water guns. I don't know how long it's been since I saw that. It kind of made my heart melt a little. 

Today was hot. Like 87 degrees hot. For Western Washington in May, that's almost unheard of. Actually it's almost unheard of for June through mid-July here. I guess it got all of us thinking about summer and what is to come. Seeing them all play together for the first time in a long time also got me thinking about how fast my world is changing.

In October of 2012 I sat down with my family to watch General Conference for our church. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons) General Conference is where our leaders from all over the world come to Salt Lake and hold a big meeting where many of them speak and give uplifting messages and council. This conference is broadcast all over the world and is absolutely my favorite Sunday of the year.

On that day, the man who we consider our prophet and the president of our church, Thomas S. Monson had an important announcement. He said that the missionary age for young men in our church was being changed from 19 to 18 and that the missionary age for young women was being changed from 21 to 19. I sat there stunned, with tears running down my cheeks. This announcement meant my son would be able to leave on his mission a year sooner.

I am so happy and proud that he wants to serve a mission. I am happy and proud that he wants to go as soon as he can, but ever since that day in October a clock has been ticking in my brain--eighteen months, seventeen months, sixteen months, and so on.

When I saw my little boy, my big seventeen year old little boy jumping on the trampoline in a swimsuit with his younger brothers and his sister I was again reminded of how many months we have left until my little family is no longer all living under the same roof.

It made me sad, but it also made me think about how often I let the little moments pass me by.

Later, when the kids decided to have dinner outside on the picnic table to enjoy the last bits of this beautiful day I sat with them, and I lingered. And I let myself forget about the messy house and the dishes and the laundry that needed to be done. I just enjoyed a moment with my kids and I hoped for many more.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hard Truths I'm Learning

1. You can only motivate or change yourself, and sometimes even that's too hard to do. (Set goals and change for the better anyway.)

2. You can only control the amount of effort, time, creativity, and learning you put into a project. You can't control how other people will react to it. (Put the time and effort into it anyway.)

3. Ultimately you can't fully protect yourself or your family from anything. You can only prepare yourselves and them and then be there when they need you. (Be prepared for anything.)

4.  No matter how hard you work, you will make mistakes. (Forgive yourself)

5. People you love will make mistakes. (Forgive them.)

5. People you love will hurt you. (Love them anyway.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What Motivates You?

As I write this, I'm sitting next to my 8-year-old son as he does his homework. This is generally a chore for both of us, because he has a tendency to get distracted. Tonight, in a stroke of genius, I decided to use a bag of chocolate chips as motivation. He does a math problem or writes down a word and then he gets a chocolate chip. It's been amazingly effective to keep him on task. (Except for a few minutes when he lined up the red chocolate chips against the brown chocolate chips and decided to have a war.)

Earlier this week a group of my Class of 2k12 peeps and I decided that we needed motivation  to get back into shape. So we started a "biggest loser" competition. (You can see where sitting next to my son, motivating him with chocolate chips might be an issue for that.)

If you've been following my blog, you know that I'm working towards running a marathon. So yeah, motivation has been on my mind.

I've thought a lot about what motivates me as a writer, (and a runner, and a mom, and really just a person.) For a long time I thought that selling a book and therefore deadlines and money would keep me motivated to write. It turns out I was almost less motivated by those things than I thought I would be. I was almost more motivated by a simple statement by my niece, "write faster" as she was reading my first attempt at a novel.

In his on-line article by that name, Michael Hauge says "The Number One Quality of Successful Writers"   is tenacity. I agree with this. The ability to just keep moving forward is huge. It may be the biggest thing that separate champions in whatever from the rest of us. So how do you come up with the motivation that supports the tenacity to succeed?

I'm afraid I can't answer that for anyone but me. (And sometimes not even for me.) I'll I can say is find it. Keep moving forward. Keep making it real.

If all else fails, try chocolate.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dumb Things I Do for My Kids

This morning I found myself blow-drying a pair of jeans at 5:30 AM while my husband walked around the yard in his pajamas, checking the bushes and behind the shed to make sure our seventeen-year-old son could make it from the house to his car without being shot by a Nerf dart. (long story involving a slow dryer and an on-going game)

Sadly, I don't think these are even the weirdest things we've done for our kids.

I'm pretty sure most moms would take a bullet for their kid, and all of them went through some kind of agony to get them here in the first place, but it's the daily, crazy, not-really-life-or-death-but-still-vitally-important-in-their-world things we do that show how much we love them.(Or how insane we are.)

Like the times when we drop everything and go running to the school to answer the inevitable call, "Mom, I forgot my ________ (lunch money, homework, 2 dozen chocolate dinosaur-shaped cupcakes, permission slip, $50 for the yearbook and it has to be in today or I won't get one and you wouldn't want me to forget my entire freshman year would you?). Oh, and by-the-way I told them you could chaperone yet another field trip to the state capital. (After four kids, cub scouts and Exchange Students I'm pretty sure I could give the entire tour verbatim by now.)

It's the late-nights we spend gluing foam balls on a piece of poster-board for science fair projects. It's the elephant costumes and hot-dog pinewood derby cars we allow ourselves to get talked into trying to create even though we lack sewing, carving, and any other artistic skills. (The hotdog car won by the way.)

It's the pets we feed and clean up after when our kids forget about or out-grow them in spite of the, "I absolutely swear, sealed with a kiss, ten things I will do every single day if you let me have a guinea pig" list that you found posted on your bedroom door three years ago.

It's the dress up like a princess, Lego space-ship, sleep-over with fourteen of your closest (and apparently loudest) friends, lengths we go to in order to appear to as a hero in our kid's eyes or to make their lives just a little bit easier, sweeter, or more fun.

It's being a parent. Yes, sometimes it's a bit insane. (I'm still waiting for the moment when my kids fall at my feet and thank me for the Halo costume that took me weeks to create and was abandoned for something out of the dress-up trunk on the way out to go trick or treating.)

But it's never boring.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting Back to Me

I have a phrase that runs through my head a lot, usually when I'm thinking about how much I need to lose weight. The phrase is, "I need to get back to me." In my mind "me" is the skinny, healthy 124 pound woman I was 7 years ago, the time when I considered myself to be in the best shape of my life. I ran a lot, and participated in a parallel bar workout three times a week at the gymnastics gym down the road. (An excellent core workout and I wish there was still a place I could do it.)

As I look back on that time I was proud of myself I was in control (of a few things) and I felt good. But there were things missing in that "me." I hadn't started writing for real yet, so I wasn't even close to realizing that dream, I wasn't Primary President, (head of the children's organization in my congregation), I didn't have many of the friends I have now, and most importantly, I didn't have the experience I have now.

In a heartbeat, I would take back the body I had then, but there isn't a chance that I'd trade that for all the experiences I've had in the last seven years.

Today I thought about "getting back to me" as I was doing my run. (On week seven of a twenty-six week marathon training schedule because I AM going to do this). What I realized was, I don't want to get back to the me I was seven years ago, I want to make the me I am now better. I want to be in shape, and in control, and have my writing and my Primary kids, and all the experiences I've had for the last seven years--even the bad ones.

Instead of trying to compete with the person I was back then, I'm moving forward and learning what I need to do to be the best me now.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words--Walking and Rocking 2

I woke up with a terrible thought this morning...I forgot to blog yesterday. I thought about it, I thought about it a lot, but in between a run and housework and writing and laundry I got to tired. I forgot about it and went to bed. So...is the thirty days blog experiment over?


I'll forgive myself and move on.

But, instead of just writing today, I'm going to post pictures from the "I'll Walk With You, I'll Rock With You" event that I wrote about on Thursday.

I'll say this much, it was an incredible event. The family reached their goal and beyond. We had a great time, and it was absolutely amazing to watch so many people come together to help one person and one family. I especially want to thank my author friends who donated books for two YA book baskets. None of them knew Bryden or the family, but they willingly donated books and swag when I told them about the benefit.

During the run yesterday, another stranger saw all of us in our T-shirts and stopped to ask what it was all about. When she heard about Bryden, she pulled fifty dollars out of her pocket and donated it to the cause.

People amaze me some times.

Here are some pictures so you can share the joy from two great events for one great person.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Time to Prepare

I've always been a writer, but there was a long time when I didn't actual write anything.

How does that work? Well, during the time when my kids were little, I didn't have...correction, didn't make the time to sit at a computer and force words onto paper (or at least onto the screen). What I did instead was write stories in my head, usually to entertain myself while I ran or when I had a long drive

Maybe it wasn't the most productive writing I've ever done, but in retrospect it helped me a lot when I finally had took the time to make the words shareable with other people by putting them down in a form they could read.

My daydreaming time gave me the chance to visualize what would happen in a scene. I even composed dialogue in my head. When I finally reached the season in my life when I felt I could confine myself to a computer, I was ready. I had plots and scenes and voices in my head. Writing them down wasn't easy, but the stories were there, waiting to come out.

Do I wish I had started putting the words on paper sooner? Absolutely. Do I feel like the time I spent as a non-writing, writer were wasted? Absolutely not.

My point is, if you don't have time to put the words on paper, use whatever time you have to do whatever gets you closer to actually writing. Be observant. Listen to conversations and watch people (note, I didn't say eavesdrop or stalk). Think about how you would describe a person or what kind of stories they might have to tell. Do the same for places and situations. Daydream. Talk to yourself (probably best to keep this one in your head or in the privacy of your home.)

All of these things are important. All of these things will prepare you for whatever time you will have to write in the future. Use and enjoy this time. Just don't let it last forever.

At some point your stories need to make it to a medium the rest of the world can enjoy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'll Walk With You, I'll Rock With You, A Special Benefit for a Special Guy

Bryden at Mormon Prom
Have you ever met a person who can make everything brighter just by walking in the room? Have you ever met a family that gives and gives and gives, literally wearing themselves out in service to anyone who needs anything? If you live anywhere near me in Lacey, Washington, or perhaps even Cache Valley Utah, you may have met such a person, and you may know such a family. (I know I do.)

Bryden Belnap, aptly nicknamed "Brydie" or "Brighty" is such a person, and he comes from such a family. Bryden always has a smile, a handshake, or a hug for me whenever I see him. He radiates joy and love and fun. He loves to be around the teenagers in our church congregation and at dances and sporting events. He even took up the honorary position of "assistant coach" this year to one of the high school wrestlers. He brings a wonderful mix of friendly competition, love, and encouragement with him everywhere he goes. He's just a great person to have around.

His family is always doing something for somebody else. His older sister brought me dinner, completely out of the blue, when I was on a crazy deadline. His mom has mentored and mothered several women and kids who aren't lucky enough to have a mother or grandmother like her. His dad is always willing to jump in and help when there's a need. They are just GOOD people.

And now they need a little help.

Several years ago, Bryden's health forced the family to leave their beloved Cache Valley, Utah. Here in Washington, at a lower altitude, Bryden could be free of the oxygen he had to have. Utah's loss was Washington's gain. We have been so blessed to have them with us.

Lately, however, Bryden's health has declined and he needs oxygen again, and more frequently. This means he's stuck at home more often. An oxygen generator would make it so he can get out and do the things he loves; spending time with his friends and family, going to church, attending dances and sporting events. And then we'd all get to see more of him and be part of the light that surrounds him.

So really this is a selfish request.

There's a benefit tomorrow (Friday, April 26th) at 7:00 at the South Bay Grange in Lacey, Washington. There will be a silent auction and lots of fun entertainment and food. The silent auction has all sorts of cool stuff. I'm putting together a great basket of young adult books with donations from Marissa Meyer, Kiki Hamilton, Gina Rosati, Katherine Longshore, and AC Gaughen. On Saturday morning there will be a walk in Lacey and people from around the world are invited to participate and send in donations for Bryden and his wonderful parents.

I would love to see you there! The information is below:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Celebrating My Book-Iversary (And we have a winner!)

A year ago today, I realized a dream when my debut novel, BREAKING BEAUTIFUL launched. I celebrated with a fabulous launch party. I had cake and my friends and family were there and it was perfect.

In the year since the book released, I can honestly say my life has changed in ways I never thought it would. I've met a lot of wonderful writers and readers, both kids and adults. I've been crushed and buoyed up, dealt with rejection, bad reviews and good reviews. I've been given opportunities that I never dreamed I would have.

I've written and sold my second book, DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE, due out September 17th. I'm still writing and I have other projects in the works that I'm insanely excited about. I've learned to love and hate and then love again the writing process. I've learned a ton and  I know I'm still in the beginning stages of this journey.

Tonight I celebrated my one year mark quietly with my family and sparkling cider. It wasn't quite the event I had last year, but that's okay. I know I have a lot to look forward to and a lot still to learn.

AND in other news...

Using my highly unscientific and yet completely random drawing method (putting the entries in a bowl and having one of my kids draw it out) I have come up with a winner for the ARC.

The winner is...WENDY JONES!

I'll contact you to get the information I need to send you the ARC of DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE and maybe something chocolate.

Thank you everyone for entering and being interested in reading my book!

Thank you to everyone who has shared this year with me! I can't wait to see what the future brings.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Perspectives--Sometimes You Just Need to Spend a Day in Kindergarten

Today I was feeling a bit jerked around and betrayed by people I thought I could trust, so I did what any logical adult would do, I went to kindergarten. 

Not to brush up on my ABCs or coloring skills. (Although I could probably use help with both.) I went as a para-educator substitute, a job I started in February. Being a para-sub has been interesting and fun because I get to spend all day working with kids, in all sorts of environments. I usually don't know what I'm getting into or what I'll be doing when I accept a job. It's been a good supplemental income for me, and it's a good job for a writer because when I'm on deadline, I can just not accept any jobs.

But way more important than any money I've made, taking this job has been good for the way I look at life. There's nothing quite like the perspective you get when you spend the day with preschoolers, kindergarteners, with kids who have special needs, or with the people who have chosen to spend their lives helping them.

Nothing makes grumpy author, "I-can't-make-this-work, and the-publishing-industry-sucks-anyway," problems shrink like spoon-feeding a beautiful teenage girl who smiles at you the through the whole meal even though she'll never be able to feed or dress herself, much less date, go to college, or have a family of her own. There's no bad review, hellish edit letter, or rejection, that can't be softened (at least a little bit) when you get a hug from a person you just met, especially when they add, "I've missed you so much!"  

It's all about perspective.

With that in mind, here are some lessons I've learned or re-learned in the last few months being a para-sub. I think are pretty applicable to everyone:

Accept people as they are, but be willing to help them achieve more.
Keeping a sense of humor is HUGE.
Brain breaks, Fun-Fridays, and recess are important...no make that VITAL.
Be patient with yourself. Sometimes pushing too hard just makes things worse.
Be patient with other people. Everyone has their own challenges, everyone has to work at their own pace.
Give hugs, often.
Be loyal to your friends.
Sometimes helping isn't really helping. Everyone needs the chance to take pride in what they do for themselves, even if you think you can do it better or faster.
 There are certainly more, but one big one I like to keep in mind. :

There are a lot of people who have way worse problems than you do, and they're still smiling.


Monday, April 22, 2013

What Are You Afraid Of?

"And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door."--Human, by The Killers

Years ago a member of my critique group took me aside after our meeting was over and everyone else was gone. She asked me a hard question, "What are you afraid of? Success or failure?"

I didn't have a good answer for her then, nor do I now. But through the writing process, the mommy process and life in general, I've learned this, whatever you want to do or be, there will always be something to be afraid of, something that will hold you back if you let it. 

It could be the fear of success. Being successful opens you up to criticism from people who are still trying achieve what you've achieved or from people who just don't get what you're trying to do. Being successful means that when you fail (and at some point you will) you have farther to fall.

It could be fear of failure. Sometimes (often) despite your best efforts, everything blows up in your face and you have to start all over again, albeit with a better idea of what you're getting yourself into.

It could be fear of mediocrity. There's nothing like working for days, weeks, or even years on something only to find out that you still don't quite measure up.

Sometimes it seems easier just not to try.

And yet all over the world you see people accomplishing great things; surviving wars, accidents, crushing poverty,and horrible abuse, becoming Olympic athletes, scholars, and great leaders, even writing books and running marathons. 

Today I'm thinking about what might lie ahead for me, what the chances of success are as opposed to the probability of failure. And if do succeed, what sacrifices I'll have to make, and what criticism I'll open myself up to. 

I know nothing worth having in life is easy. That's true for the stories I want to write, it's true for the marathon I want to run, it's true for the family that I'm building, and it's true for other opportunities that I'm perusing.

The song that the lyrics above come from is one of my favorites songs to run to. My husband said once that he didn't get what the song was about. For me it's about rising above the part of you that's just human, just mediocre and finding the "dancer" inside--that part of you that can do great things. It's about letting go of the fear, whatever it is and moving forward.   

"Close your eyes, clear your heart
Cut the cord "-- Humans, by the Killers




Sunday, April 21, 2013

Why Mormon Prom?

...If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." --Thirteenth Article of Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Last night I had the opportunity to chaperone Mormon Prom, a prom for youth who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and really any other teens wanted to come.

You might ask why we hold a separate prom for the kids in our church? You may also ask what makes a Mormon Prom so different?

Its not that we don't allow our kids to a regular high school prom. (A lot of them still go.)Mormon Prom is about creating a good wholesome atmosphere for these kids to just be teens and to just have fun.

It's about getting away from the low cut, too short, too tight and how-sexy-can-I-be dresses and the-over-the-top limos, expensive dinners, hotel suite with sex, drugs, and alcohol after-parties that often characterize high school proms.

The tickets for Mormon Prom are free, pictures are free. Boutonnieres, corsages, and dinner are all  provided.

Anyone can come as long as they agree to adhere to standards of modesty in dress and standards of behavior during the dance. There is no spiked punch, no inappropriate dancing, no couples making out in the middle of the dance floor. No crazy after-parties. (Although we had a big group over at our house after the dance. They had sundaes and watched Napoleon Dynamite.)

But that doesn't mean no fun or even less fun.

If you're thinking Mormon Prom equates to Frank Sinatra all night, red punch and cookies, crepe paper streamers and a cheessy disco ball, you're wrong.

If you think it's about adult guarding dark corners, waiting to catch someone breaking the rules, or imposing unrealistic or outdated values on oppressed teens, you are also wrong.

The theme was "Alice in Wonderland" and I have never seen a prom more elaborately decorated. (With the exception of the ones in the movies and really, whose prom was like that?) There were giant flowers and butterflies all around the halls, the entrance to the gym was a key hole, the tables were covered with tea sets and more giant flowers, the picture area had a huge clock, benches and lots and lots of props for taking pictures. There was a "Queen's Room" that was set up with red roses and iron fences, playing card garlands and arches, cupcakes that said "eat me," and little bottles of water that said, "drink me."

Even the girl's bathroom was decorated. The counter by the mirror had flowers, little jars of mints, safety pins, and bobby pins to cover minor emergencies.

Dinner was soup, finger sandwiches, vegetable cups made to look like flower pots, and fruit kabobs. They even made us, the servers, dress like the cards. from "Alice in Wonderland."

The kids danced to Taylor Swift, PSY, Pink, Justin Bieber, and pretty much anything that's popular now. (Although  I did hear Vanilla Ice, which was barely cool at my prom.)

The effort that was put into the dance--all done by volunteers and all free to the kids, is a testament to me of how much their leaders love these kids, how far they will go to make things nice for them, and how important they feel it is to provide a beautiful and fun setting for the youth to enjoy themselves in the company of other kids who share their values.

I have never seen more beautiful and modestly dressed girls. I have never seen more respectful and handsome boys. (Yes, my son was among them.) I have never seen kids having so much fun in such a good environment. I was so proud of them.

Whenever I think about last night, my heart is full of gratitude to everyone who helped. It is full of love for these great kids. And it's full of  hope for the future.

So why Mormon Prom?

For me Mormon Prom is important because its a celebration of youth, and joy, and friendship, and goodness.

Instead of being about how much money you can spend, what your body looks like, how closely you can imitate the revealing styles of Hollywood, or how far you need to go to have a good time, it's about dancing and talking, being a little crazy, and just being with other kids who share your values and want to have a night to remember instead of a night they wish they could forget.

I'm so grateful to the youth leaders who spent months planning and preparing for last night. I'm so grateful to the kids who were there. Mormon or not, they showed themselves to be virtuous, lovely, of good report,

And most definitely praiseworthy.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bake Sales and Fun Fairs and Prom...Oh My!

It's been a busy busy Saturday.

I started the day by helping with a bake sale to raise money for my son's Cub Scout troop so they can go to day camp this summer. I'm happy to say, it came out great. We held it in front of the one of the Wolf Leader's houses, because her neighborhood was having a garage sale. Despite a cold wind and the constant (this is Washington) threat of rain, we made enough money for all the boys to go to camp. Hooray!

The people who bought the treats were especially generous when they found out the money was for the Cub Scouts. There were even a lot of people who came by and donated without taking any goodies. I appreciated the outpouring of support from strangers.

The second event was the fun fair for our school. At the last minute, one of my good friends offered to take my kids for me, and because of the craziness of the day I was thrilled to let her do it. However, I missed going to the school and seeing an event where so many people works together and have fun together, all to support the kids in their community. 

The last event of the evening was chaperoning Mormon Prom--a formal dance for kids who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'll write more about that tomorrow, but the two things that struck me about the evening was: there are some great kids out there, and there are some adults, a lot of adults, who love those kids and would do anything for them.

Today was crazy, but after the events this week in Boston, I was grateful that I got to see how generous people can be with their time, money, and talents and how bright the future of our country will be.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Eggs, Electronic Babies, and What to Do When Your Water Breaks in English Class

This week my 15-year-old daughter came home with a new addition to our family--an adorable baby boy that she named Bentley. Before you send out congratulations, criticism, or advice on dealing with a teen mom, let me explain. She's taking child development this semester. As part of the class she got to be "mom" for just under twenty-four hours to an electronic baby.

I didn't take any classes where I got to experience anything like this, but when I was in high school I remember kids carrying eggs around with them. They named them, dressed them, (as much as you can dress an egg) and tired to keep them from getting broken. Back in the olden days (when I was a teenager) this was considered a decent simulation of what parenthood is really like. And I'm sure it is, if you're a chicken.

Bentley however, is a full-fledged robotic infant, that has to be changed, fed, burped, and sometimes just comforted. While he was with our family, he cooed, breathed, and cried--a lot. He cried during homework, and dinner, and while my daughter was in the shower. I know because during that time, I got to play "grandma." A title I am NOT ready for, by the way.

And like any real baby, Bentley was no respecter of sleep. My already sleep deprived teenager was up with her electronic child no less than five times.Yes, she was late for school.

My daughter's best friend also got the chance to be "mom" for a night. Since she runs track, her infant, (Sophie) went to the meet with her. When my daughter's best friend won a race, she was congratulated by a member of the opposing team, "Wow, you're amazing! A teen mom and a great athlete!"

If being up all night with an electronic baby with an eerily real cry isn't enough, for extra credit, the kids in my daughter's class can wear an empathy belly. (I think these should be available to any women in her third trimester of pregnancy--to share with her husband.) An empathy belly is something that simulates what it's like to be in the seventh month of pregnancy. (Minus the heartburn, swollen feet, and insomnia.)

My daughter has yet to experience the empathy belly, but she did get to witness a guy wearing it during her English class. Apparently the empathy belly is full of water and somehow this one sprang a leak. The "mom to be" did the only logical thing a teenage guy with a pretend pregnancy and a leak could do, he raised his hand and said,

"Can I be excused? My water just broke."

High school is so much more interesting than it was when I was there. You can't make this kind of stuff up. And yes, that's going in a book someday.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rock the Drop 2013

To support Teen Lit Day Readergirlz has again organized another book drop. I participated last year, but nearly missed this year. Thanks to my friend J. Anderson Coats  author of The Wicked and the Just who dropped a copy of BREAKING BEAUTIFUL and then tagged me in her Facebook post with a picture of her cat in a suitcase, (???) I got the news just in time.

I decided to drop one of my DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE ARCs After a short Facebook poll about where I should leave it I chose my drop location.

I'm insanely curious about who's ends up with it. I'll let you know if I find out.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

WE HAVE ARCS (And you could win one!)

On Friday I got my ARCs (Advanced Reader's Copies) for DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE. I wasn't really expecting them so it was amazingly cool to open a package that I thought would contain my next round of edits and find a book with my name on it.


It's funny, I anticipated and fretted over every little step with with BREAKING BEAUTIFUL, but some of this second book process has snuck up on me, but guess what? Getting a bound copy of a book you wrote is just as cool the second time. Maybe even more so.

For me, this second book represented a lot more sweat and tears than the first one did. Part of it goes back to being busy with the launch of book one, part of it is because I know what it's like to have strangers (and even people I know!) read and review something I've written, and part of it's because when the book sold, I had 50 pages an outline and a glimmer of what it would become.

Despite trying to be more on top of the story this time; keeping notes on things like tattoos and scars and making copious oultines throughout the whole writing process, the story surprised me a few times. I hope it surprises you.

As a general rule, I don't like give-aways, but since I have a few advanced copies of this book, and because I'm so excited to share it, I'll make an exception.

Here's a little about the book:
Rachel died at two a.m . . . Three hours after Skyler kissed me for the first time. Forty-five minutes after she sent me her last text. 
Jaycee and Rachel were best friends. But that was before. . .before that terrible night at the old house. Before Rachel shut Jaycee out. Before Jaycee chose Skyler over Rachel. Then Rachel is found dead. The police blame a growing gang problem in their small town, but Jaycee is sure it has to do with that night at the old house. Rachel’s text is the first clue—starting Jaycee on a search that leads to a shocking secret. Rachel’s death was no random crime, and Jaycee must figure out who to trust before she can expose the truth.


Entering is easy. Just put your name and a way to contact you like an e-mail into the comment box. Next Wednesday I'll do a random drawing from the entries I received. The winner receives a signed ARC of DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE, some swag and maybe even a little chocolate.

I can't wait to share my newest child of paper.

DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE is out officially on September 17, 2013. If you would like to review it, you can contact me and I will direct you to the right people at my Walker/Bloomsbury, my publishing house.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Running for Boston

Boston, taken by my husband when he was a missionary there. 
copyright 2013 David Wolf  
In February of this year I turned 39. (I know, a real woman never reveals her age or her weight, but we're getting honest here. Don't hold your breath for the weight thing though.) One of the first things I thought of when I realized the big four-zero is looming was "I haven't run that marathon yet."

In years past, I've called myself a runner. I've ran 5ks and 10ks and I've even ran one half-marathon in what was as close to a monsoon as we get in Washington (pretty darn close).Unfortunately, its been a long time since I ran regularly. My too-often used excuse is/was, "I don't have time to train."

So, sealed with a Facebook promise, I decided this would be the year. That I WOULD run a marathon before I turned 40. Then, like too many times before I got busy.  There was the new para-educator sub job I was starting, there was the option book I had to finish, there was the "possibly really cool thing that's really exciting, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up about." (which BTW I have a conference call about today, so prayers and positive thoughts that way would be appreciated.) And then there's my house, my family, and my church kids, all vying for a piece of my time.

It was easy to let the marathon thing go. Again.

Then yesterday happened.

Boston is dear to my heart because I have friends there, because I visited there as a junior in high school and fell in love with the city (and the three guys
who got on the elevator in the hotel and referred to us as "ladies" but that's another story), and because my husband served a two-year mission for our church in Massachusetts and he lived for part of that time in downtown Boston.
I was also struck by the tragedy because I know two of the runners who participated in yesterday's race. They are parents to a couple of great boys who have been my son's friends and teammates. The mom has been my aerobics instructor and inspiration more than once. As soon as I heard the news about the bombing, I thought of them. I ran to Facebook to see what they had posted. They're both okay, they'd already finished the race, but they had watched the explosions from their hotel room.

What happened at the Boston Marathon was an absolute tragedy. No one's going to debate that, and no one is going to debate that we've had too many of those man-made absolute tragedies lately. While I looked at the shootings in Sandy Hook as a mother (and I still can barely think about that without crying) I look at the Boston Marathon bombing as a runner (and also as a mother because I can't ever separate that from who I am).

From a runner's perspective, someone took a moment of absolute triumph and turned it into a tragedy. That's hard to take and hard to comprehend. When I think of all those people who trained and trained and worked so hard to get to the Boston Marathon only to have the memory destroyed for them, I want to (and I do) cry. When I think of the spectators who stood by to witness and celebrate this triumph and became victims of this horrible event I cry some more.

But when I think of all the people who ran to help despite the danger and despite being fatigued and scared I want to (and I do) cry with joy.

The world is full of bad people who derive power and pleasure from other people's pain. Thankfully, most of us aren't like that. I believe that most of the world is still made up of people who work hard, and triumph (even in small things), and who are willing to rush in to help when someone is in need.

I believe the real message for our country and for the world is found in the people who ran yesterday, even if they couldn't finish the race, even if they didn't wear a runner's number, even if they did or didn't wear a first-responders uniform.

It's with that spirit that I ran today.

I don't have delusions that I will ever be a good enough runner to compete in something as prestigious as the Boston Marathon, but maybe if I work and train and complete my own marathon, in some small way I'll be standing up to the evil that happened yesterday. 
Me and my dear friend Christie, eight years ago, after running the half-marathon in the monsoon.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The 30 Days Blog Project--Getting Honest (Mostly)

Confession time, (although its not really a confession) I haven't written anything on this blog since October. That's easy to see if you go back to my previous post. My second confession might not come as a surprise either, I've never really liked blogging. For me, it was a lot of pressure. As an author there's this idea that you need a PLATFORM to blog about. The whole idea of a platform got me hung up. What am I supposed to write about? What shouldn't I write about?  It felt like everything I wrote here would translate into either book sales or people deciding they would never read a word I wrote.

Don't get me wrong, I loved finding and writing about teens doing great things, writing books, and reading books, but there was always this pressure to sound professional. I fell back on my journalism background and felt like I had to have quotes and pictures and interviews and all of that took time away from my other writing and my family and other things I love to do.

Also there is the pressure NOT to write certain things. Talking about the publishing industry in anything but a favorable light is frowned on. Honestly reviewing books meant possibly saying something bad about another author, someone you might work with eventually and definitely someone who has been through this often hellish process. Politics and religion were taboo. Putting your kids on your blog meant you were exploiting them or putting them in danger or just boring the world with your mommy stories.

For me, this left precious little that was important to me or relevant in my life to blog about.

So I'm making it harder and easier on myself.  For the next thirty days I will blog every day. I won't force myself to make it long or pretty. I will just write.

I will try to be as honest as possible, although there are things I still can't do. There are some big writerly things going on in my life that I cannot talk specifically about. I just can't. If I bring it up, I may refer to it as the "possibly really cool thing that's really exciting, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up about."

I won't rant about the publishing industry. It's incredibly tough sometimes, and I think anyone who thinks this is a cakewalk business is extremely lucky, delusional, or hasn't really been in it long enough. However, I know that I am extremely blessed to have a book published and another one on the way. Besides I work with people who have my back and are willing to listen to my rants. I don't need to rant here.

I despise politics almost as much as my husband gets into them, so I most likely will not talk about politics.

Religion is a huge part of who I am, so that will probably come into the picture. If you don't want to read it, you don't have to. 

I may review books just enough to say what the author is doing right and what I admire and love. Like everyone else I love many books and dislike others. As an author, I'm both more critical and more appreciative of what I read. I might bring that out, or I might not.

I will talk about my kids. They are by far the biggest thing in my life. If this blog only serves as a record of what is going on in our lives, then it will be successful IMO.

I will mention kids and teens that I see doing great things. There is far too much written about kids who do bad things. I want teens to know I have their backs. I think by and large they are great people who are intelligent, energetic, and can accomplish things that jaded, too-busy, too-old, and too-tired adults can't.

I will do my best to keep this blog positive. There are too many negative things in the world. 

One more bit of honesty, I have another book coming out in six month, DEAD GIRL'S DON'T LIE.
YAY and YIKES. Yes, that is one of the reasons I've resurrected my blog. I still want it to be a marketing tool. There will be more about that tomorrow because I got my ARCs (advanced reader's copies) on Friday. SQUEE! I may even do a giveaway, which is one of the other things I didn't like about blogging.

After thirty days I figure I will be in the habit of blogging again. I will love it, or I will hate it. Maybe I will keep going, and maybe I'll give myself permission to stop blogging altogether.

A small disclaimer: What I write here is my own words. It doesn't reflect the views of Walker/Bloomsbury publishing, Nelson Literary Agency, the LDS church, or even the Wolf or Shaw families. Any blame, hate or love mail should come directly to me.

Thanks for listening.