Friday, August 31, 2012

The Summer That Was: Part 3

Welcome to August 2012
(If you missed Part 1 click HERE. If you missed Part 2 click HERE.)

August proved to be the most stuffed--stuffed with awesome.

I was lucky enough to participate in four book festivals, which allowed me to hang out with friends, make new friends, meet readers and sign books.
Local Author Night at the Schiavo Library in Strathmere, NJ. Ten local adult and children's authors gathered for a lovely evening. I was even interviewed by a nine-year-old girl. She came prepared with hand written questions--even blank lines for my answers. Her enthusiasm bubbled over as she squealed and jumped and grinned. She was the highlight of the night for me. 
YA Fest 2012 at the Palmer Library in Easton, PA. Thirty-five authors gathered for a day of fun!
SCBWI's Festival of Books at the Chester County Book & Music Company in West Chester, PA. My husband snapped this one of me reading from CRACKED. The audience listened intently and asked great questions.
And lastly, the PAYA Festival (Bringing YA to PA) in West Chester, PA. This event had thirty authors participating, and was organized (for the 3rd time) by a seventeen-year-old phenom named Skyanne Fisher! I was lucky to sit next to the lovely Charlotte Bennardo, co-author of SIRENZ.

Books surrounded me in August, and I read two stunning novels.

By Gillian Flynn

My life stopped until I devoured this book. It's one of "those". The writing is superb. The severely flawed characters compelling. The pacing is fast, the twists as twisty as they get. It's one hell of a great read.

By: Beth Kephart

I adored the gorgeous prose in this novel, got lost in the Spain so lovingly described. It is the story of love and choices. It triggered multiple bouts of "writer envy" as well as tears. I love when I cry from a book and I LOVED this book.


The last summer adventures drew to a close with visits to two spectacular natural sites.

Saint Peter's Village
This used to be a working quarry.
 And Penn's Cave
My boys and I took the next boat into the cave.

Another boat passing us by. The photo can't convey the overwhelming scope and beauty of this cave. The tour was an hour long and the cave went on and on and on, each sight simply breathtaking.


In closing, while in Central PA visiting Penn's Cave, we stumbled upon the Grange Fair. It was everything you picture a true country fair to be: farm animals, tractor pulls, rides, and fried everything. My mouth still hasn't recovered from eating my first fried Oreo--100% pure decadence.
I love the tractor, the ride, the mountain in the distance and the setting sun. Country at its finest.
Thanks for traipsing through my summer with me. Here's to a Fall with spices and family, blankets and steamy mugs! What are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Summer That Was: Part 2

Welcome to July 2012!
(If you missed The Summer That Was: Part 1, click HERE : )

The center month of summer seemed to be a fantastic mix of adventure and work--reading and love. Here, let me show you.

Adventure and excitement filled July, in many forms. My husband and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary by spending the night in Philadelphia.
Nineteen years ago. What a day, what a man, what a life we've had together.
We walked the historic streets hand-in-hand, visited the Philadelphia Art Museum, and dined out in style. When we got home, we were greeted by this homemade sign that our boys and nephew made for us. Feel the love!


Excitement continued in the form of the Treepocalypse. We lost three trees this summer, two of which fell in July. Our fallen tree total for 2012 has hit TEN. Yeah.

Believe it or not, the trampoline survived. Unscathed.
This one used to have a tree swing on it. Thank God no one was on it when it crashed to the ground!

Even though this one fell in August, it fits in perfectly with this post ; ) And yes, that is our neighbor's yard and smooshed fence!

Moving on....

I took my boys on a really cool day trip. We drove three hours to Scranton, PA and visited the Lackawanna Coal Mine and the Houdini Museum. Both venues proved to be worth the drive.
We took a train-like contraption down, down, down into the mine, and then took the guided tour, 300 feet below the surface!
Yes, that is me up there on stage, dancing with Dorothy Dietrich. She called people out of the audience to help her during her magic act, and I was one of the "lucky" ones. We set things on fire and danced. For real.

I also read to fantastic books in July, both of which I would highly recommend.

I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga
It's Jasper Dent's story. Jasper (Jazz) is the teenaged son of the most notorious serial killer in US history, which means he was privy to unspeakable acts while growing up. I HUNT KILLERS lets you crawl around inside Jazz's mind as he wrestles with dark and light, good and evil, all the while, hunting a copycat serial killer recreating his father's gruesome murders. It's a fascinating read - well written - fast paced - twists and turns.

EVERY YOU, EVERY ME by David Levithan
This incredibly unique and haunting novel is told partly in verse, partly traditional narrative, but also with photographs every so often. The photographs either added to the mystery or propelled the story further. The fascinating thing was, Levithan got the photos from photographer Jonathan Farmer, one at a time, and would build the novel based on the latest photograph. Levithan had no idea what the next photograph would be. It's the story of Evan--very alone Evan--and how he's dealing with the aftermath of his friend Ariel's death.

The work part of July took the form of writing workshops that I conducted for PAWLP's summer programs for teen readers and writers. I was given the opportunity to be the visiting author and run four writing workshops. Meeting the teen writers, sharing the craft of writing, answering their thoughtful questions, all proved to be highlights of July!

What was your favorite part of July? Do tell....

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Summer That Was: Part 1

Hope everyone reading this had a wonderful summer, and by wonderful I mean filled with family and moments to remember. For me Summer 2012 was packed with lots of "wonderful"! I'm going to break things down into a three part blog post titled: THE SUMMER THAT WAS.

Welcome to Part 1!

June 2012

My large and incredible family got together, as we do every June, for our week at the beach. Over one hundred of us descend upon a tiny beach town in Southern New Jersey. We meet on the beach each day and sit together in one big gathering. Talking, laughing, reminiscing. There are parties and traditions and it all adds up to one thing: a magical week.

Photo courtesy of my sister Meghan : ) And this is only PART of the family!

Our living room makeover project finally drew to a close. We couldn't be happier with how it turned out.
The new bar and cabinets were built in a once useless corner that housed a dumb table and chasable dust bunnies.

The new bookshelves we had built brighten the entire room, and moving our TV to above the fireplace opened up everything.

And lastly, the Apocalypsies signing event at the Philadelphia Barnes & Noble turned out to be a fun day, meeting new people and hanging with good friends.
Me with Elisa Ludwig (PRETTY CROOKED), E.C. Meyers (FAIR COIN), and Eve Marie Mont (A BREATH OF EYRE)
Hope you tune in to Part 2 on Wednesday!

Do share your favorite moment from summer in a comment. I'd love to read all about it....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Words of Encouragement

This week I conducted two workshop presentations to teen writers, all through the incredible PAWLP organization. It was not the workshop part that inspired me to write this post, it was the Q & A part at the end, when the kids asked me about being a writer and my book. Despite the workshops taking place in different towns, the questions were similar. One question in particular was the catalyst for today's post:

Was it easy to get your book published?

Anyone out there working towards a dream--no matter the dream--knows the answer to that.

My mother always says, "Nothing that's worthwhile doing is easy." She has said that since I've been a little girl, and she is so right.

I looked out into the sea of bright, hopeful teenage eyes, and I gave them an encouraging, yet realistic answer. "No, it wasn't easy. It was years of hard work and close to a 150 rejections, but I wanted to see one of my books published, so I never gave up." As much as I believe in positive thinking, I also believe in hard work. Dreams don't come true without both parts.

My words of encouragement today:

Learn from disappointment. Parse through the pain and find ways to grow towards your goal. Don't allow yourself to get stuck in the heartbreak. The choice you make right here, at this crucial moment, to power onward amidst the dark clouds of doubt, is what separates you from those who achieve their dreams and those who don't.

This is the hardest part - believe me - I've been there. 

Finally, make sure your hard work is the right hard work. Continuously ask yourself, Is what I'm spending my time on really and truly helping me towards my goal?

Never stop moving towards your dreams.

A little Zen for the dreamers out there.