Friday, April 30, 2010


Natalie Bahm is one my dear friends and one of my most trusted writing partners. Megan and Marie complete my M-N-M superstar trilogy. Yesterday, Nat posted about a writer she beta reads for and congratulated her on signing with the lovely Jessica Sinsheimer of The Sarah Jane Freymann Agency. If you haven't read Nat's post go check it out and and congratulate Trisha Leaver.

I love being introduced to new fabulous writers. I especially love when they become friends.

So, Nat has inspired me to spread some writer love of my own. Most of you probably already know her, but just in case you're out of the loop, I'd like to you to meet the amazing and swoon-worthy Shannon Messenger. I'm a quote lover and this one fits Shannon perfectly...

"Of life's two chief prizes, beauty and truth, I found the first in a loving heart and the second in a laborer's hand. "
Kahlil Gibran

Shannon is beautiful--inside and out. (Beauty)
She writes MG fantasy and she writes it from the heart. I love her concepts, worlds, characters, and style. (Truth)
She is a great friend and is always there if I need her opinion, advice, or encouraging words. (Loving heart)
Also, Shannon isn't afraid to work hard on her craft. Poor thing has been eyebrows deep in revisions for weeks, but she is relentless and dedicated to strengthening the story she loves. (Laborer's hand)

Those are just a few of the many reasons she deserves to be included in the circle of love.

I have no doubt that she'll be announcing a book deal in the very near future. Go over and say hello, follow her fabulous blog, and congratulate her on her recent signing with her dream agent.
Shannon is represented by Laura Rennert of The Andrea Brown Agency.

What about you? Are you meeting other writers and making new friendships? Isn't it awesome to have friends who understand and support our love of books and writing?

Monday, April 26, 2010


Ten minutes from my house is one of Florida's largest independent book stores. Haslam's may not look super spectacular from the outside, but isn't there a rule about not judging a book by its cover?
Walk through the door and that smell hits you. Nope, not the coffee brewing in the cafe like at Borders and Barnes & Noble (and yes, I do love those stores too). I'm talking about the smell of books. The potpourri of used books, new books, old and worn covers and pages. 30,000 square feet of stories.

They have books in glass cases--the very old, rare, or expensive. You might even see a cat napping on top of the shelves, or a ghost strolling the aisles. Would you expect any less from a store that's been in business since 1933?

John and Mary Haslam opened their used book and magazine store during the depression.

Three generations have kept it going, and growing. It may have changed a bit over the decades, but when I visit I can sense the history of the store and feel all the love that kept it in business: the Haslam family, the loyal customers, the many tourists, the authors, and the readers. As I thumb through pages and gawk at the endless assortment of literature, time almost stands still, or at least rewinds a smidge. Even during the depression people knew books were important. Over seventy years later we're in a recession but books are STILL important.

Superstores may have changed the book retail industry. E-readers and the internet may be changing the world of publishing, but we adjust. The world adapts accordingly. Sadly, many mom-and-pop stores have gone out of business, but I LOVE that Haslam's has persevered.

A great story exists behind this store of stories, and I hope Haslam's continues for many more decades. Because sometimes--even though I do love me some coffee--I don't want the smell of brand new books and a cafe in a big chain store. I want to smell history, and remember that most heartwarming stories start with a dream and evolve with a lot of love and support.

Just like Haslam's.

Do you support independent bookstores in your area? I'd love to hear about others that have survived the changing times.

Haslam's is located at 2025 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, FL

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


First, let me say that I'm not a political type of person. When my friends start debating about health care plans, or government issues, I'm the one who stays quiet. Usually, I don't have much of an opinion because I purposefully ignore the news so I DON'T have to hear all the negativity about how craptastic our nation has become.

I know, I know, some of you are shaking your head and saying it's an ignorant way to live. I agree. But I like my style of ignorant bliss. I sleep better at night. Besides, if the news is important enough, I'll hear about it on Twitter.

If it's book news (which is the kind I DO care about) I will most definitely see it on Twitter. Just like this article:

This one hits close to home. I live in Florida. I know Lake County. I write YA. This bit of news penetrated my bubble, and my ears and eyes perked up with interest.

A 13-year-old's mother fought to have books like The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson put on a special shelf because it contained "vulgar content." The mother succeeded, and now she's casting a bigger net. She wants all the public libraries of Lake county to put warning labels on books that contain any sort of sexual, drug, or "vulgar" content.

In MY mind I'm thinking, "Um, we already have a label, it's called THE YA SECTION."

But apparently, that's not enough. Let's smack a bright flashing neon sticker on books that have any kind of mature content inside.

This reminds me of when I was a young teen and I started seeing warning labels on tapes (Gasp! Yup, I'm that old.) and CDs. This was created to protect kids from explicit lyrics. Ha. Those are the albums kids bent over backwards to get their hands on.

In a way, this woman bugs me, but I can also see her point. She wants to protect her daughter and other children from stumbling across unexpected subjects in their reading selections.
I get that.

In reality, kids are kids. These days, teens ARE dealing with sex. drugs, vulgar language, and many other mature issues as early as middle school. (Sadly, I've even heard it's in some elementary schools.) Do we genuinely believe warning them a book contains this kind of stuff will stop them from reading it?

Are we going to put a warning label on the hot delinquent that all the girls in school swoon over? Or how about the classmate that offers their friends pot? How about the friend that has an eating disorder or is getting abused by someone? Let's put warning labels on all the kids who aren't living an impeccable and perfectly righteous life.

If they curse, smack a sticker on them. If they've already lost their virginity but haven't yet graduated, crazy glue that warning label to their forehead. Let's make sure the "good" kids don't go anywhere near the "bad kids."

Because, you know, we need to protect the "good ones."
(Insert eye-roll here.)

Here's an idea: TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. Acknowledge these issues are real. That's why most authors write about them. These ARE the issues kids and teens are facing every day. If parents won't discuss them, their children are going to find friends, or books, who will help them understand what's going on and how to cope.

And guess which books they'll seek out? Yup, the ones with the big flashy warning label.

So go ahead, mark them. Put them on the highest, most visible shelf with a built-in flashing light. Make them stand out in the sea of library books, like a lighthouse guiding kids towards what they're searching for. Because they'll know, inside, is a story of something or someone they can relate to.

Feel free to speak your mind in the comments. I see both sides of the argument. You'll find no judgment from me, only a love of books.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Last month, Rebecca at Diary of a Virgin Novelist posted about her writing area. Along with pics of some other great bloggers' spaces. I kept meaning to post pics of my own but things were just too chaotic and I kept forgetting. Today though, I remembered!

For those who don't know (or have never read the side bars revealing my location) I live in Florida. Many of us Floridians have screened in porches, or lanais--if you want to get fancy. I'm lucky enough to have a second living room that's practically outside. And, when weather permits, I like to write on my porch/lanai/semi-outside living area.

Check it out.
Don't be jealous of my fancy sofa slipcover (aka sheet). I have dogs. Plus, I tend to spill my wine and/or coffee a lot, so it makes for easy cleaning. Outside of those lovely French doors is my garden...

Cute huh? Some flowers are starting to bloom, but it will be much more colorful in a month or two. For those of you who are really bored, how about a little Where's Waldo? Can you find:
1.) The yellow birdhouse. 2.) Bamboo Wind chimes 3.) Kneeling goddess statue.
Okay, enough of that. It's not like I'm giving away a prize or anything.

Check out why I say this ain't just a screened porch...

Yup. A fridge AND microwave within a few steps of my sofa. This means no long trek inside the house if I need popcorn, wine, or to reheat my coffee. A TV is there too, but I can honestly say I rarely ever turn the thing on. And for those of you with superpower sight, yes, that IS a picture of a mermaid hanging on the wall. Go figure.

Not too shabby, eh? It's no Taj Mahal, but I like it. One day I hope to trade it in for a view of the ocean, but until that significant or major deal happens, I am happily content with my little oasis.

What about you? Where do you usually write?

Friday, April 9, 2010


I realize millions--many millions--of people write a book (or several) in their lifetime. The saddening statistic of how many people actually get published is minimal.

To the few people who have read my books and stand proudly in my corner, cheering me on and assuring me this dream is possible, thank you (times infinity).

To the others who haven't read my books but STILL support me, my blog, my silly rants, and my lofty dreams, thanks to you as well (times infinity).

Because after all is said and done, whether or not my stories ever get published, I WILL remember those who were there for me. I've got a great memory but I've got a bigger heart, and someday in whatever way life affords, I will hopefully be able to show my gratitude instead of just expressing it.

Thank you. With all my heart.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I tweeted this earlier then realized it would make a good blog post.
I want 2 douse my synopsis in gasoline, flick a cigarette at it, then strut from the fire like a badass, wearing sexy boots & cool shades.
I can't take credit for this vivid scene. I've been wanting to reenact my own version of this moment of badassness ever since I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (He used a spark from hitting his metal adamantium claws against concrete, but I don't have claws so I'm improvising.) Love me some Logan. Mmm, mm.
I do really want to set my synopsis on fire though. I'm a pantser. Not an outliner. The systematic thing has never worked well for me; neither has structure, or organization. I like chaos.

I like flying by the seat of my pants. Heck, I wrote most of my college papers the night before they were due and I got A's. Twice I tried taking my time and really "organizing and planning" my project and I got a B. See, I know what works best for me.

I know I should learn to love my synopsis. Maybe even try to become an outliner. If an agent or editor makes this request of me in the future, I will try. Until then, I'd truly love to go all renegade and throw my overly organized piece of methodical malarkey into a gasoline tanker, light a cigarette, and flick.

Too bad I don't smoke. Or have access to, and permission from someone to blow up a gas truck. THAT would make a great Vlog.

Are you a pantser? Or do you love all those organization tools people say are so good for us writers? I hope I'm not the only one with pyromaniacal daydreams.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Some of you have asked about it. Here it is, live and in action.
The best bedtime story ever!

It's called Bedtime Stories.
You can check it out and learn more at this website:
If you want to order your very own you can email:
(Tell Claudia I said hello.)

Just for clarification, no one at this company has paid me, or asked me to endorse their product. I just love it, and had to show it off. I'm posting links to save myself from the deluge of emails or comments asking where and how you can get one.

Some details:
~Pages contain the Grimm Brothers version of Sleeping Beauty.
~It's even better quality than I expected. I thought the pages would be thin, like a sheet, but they're puffy and thick, and fabulous.
~It cost me about $230 total (and worth every penny). Shipped (fast) from the UK to Florida.
~They'll give you a quote if you send them your address.
~My bed is a queen but I think it would fit a king.
~I haven't checked it for spelling or grammar errors yet, but it sure does look nice.

Here are some pictures for those of you who won't or can't view the video.

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