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Viewing Blog: Books, Boys, Buzz, Most Recent at Top
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YA Authors from Berkley JAM, Flux, Dutton, Puffin, Delacorte, HarperCollins, and Harlequin KimaniTru discuss writing, promotion, and of course, hot guys...
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26. Winner: The Clearing Farmhouse Prize Pack

Thanks to everyone who participated in the celebration week for The Clearing's RITA Award nomination! 

We picked a winner at random for the Farmhouse Prize Pack, which includes a signed copy of the book and some fun treasures.

And the winner is:

"donnas" who commented on Tera's Tuesday post.  I'll email you to get your snail mail address this week.



3 Comments on Winner: The Clearing Farmhouse Prize Pack, last added: 6/19/2011
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27. My most influential elders...

This week we're celebrating the lovely Heather Davis' RITA nomination (and probable win) of THE CLEARING. For those of you who have not been following along, THE CLEARING is the wonderful love story of star-crossed teenagers Amy and Henry who are hopelessly in love, but cannot be together. Why not? Grab yourself a copy and find out!We are discussing elders who have influenced us in positive way. In THE CLEARING, Amy's great-aunt is a wonderful shoulder for her to cry on during a big transformational point in her life.The elder who has influenced me the most have been my maternal grandmother. I have no picture to share right now (all of my pics are in Michigan), but she was a truly lovely woman who loved luxury, to have fun and above all, her family. I like to think I'm just like her... :)Please leave comments about influential elders from your own life to be entered into the contest!--Dona

1 Comments on My most influential elders..., last added: 6/20/2011
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28. And the Rita goes to....

Heather Davis for The Clearing!!! That's what I hope is said on that hotel stage in NYC in just a few short weeks. Even though I won't be able to cheer Heather on in person I will be rooting for her and refreshing the results every ten seconds until the winner is finally posted.

This week we are talking about elders who have inspired us. My grandmother, Patty, has always been one of the most special people in my life. I spent a lot of time with her when I was little. She is one of the one imaginative people I have ever met. Our days were filled with taking care of my dolls, racing down her stairs on pillows, playing board games, learning to tie my shoes, playing restaurant (we had tuna fish sandwiches and lemonade every single day because it is all I would eat). The most vivid memory I have is sitting on her back porch on a hot summer day making my first book. (My grandma is very camera shy so this isn't us, but it looks exactly like how we would have spent a day together.)

I think it was some kind of comic book, which seems weird to me now, but I can remembering grandma encouraging me to go around and sell copies to the neighbors. She swore it was that good. I never had the courage, but her faith in me stuck deep in my heart and helped years later when I started receiving rejection letters on my novels.

My grandma hasn't had it easy. My grandpa died very suddenly at a young age. Her oldest child managed to get control of almost all her money and gambled it away. She has also battled mental illness for most of her life. But you wouldn't know any of this from the smile she always shows the world. I know that without my grandma I wouldn't be the woman I am today.

At 79, my grandma is making new memories with my children. I know how lucky I am that my children are getting so much time with a great-grandparent and we try not to waste a second of it.

Is there a game or tradition you had with your grandparent? Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for Heather's prize pack!!


7 Comments on And the Rita goes to...., last added: 6/19/2011
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29. Perfect Love

A big huzzah to our very own Heather Davis, whose amazingly romantic YA novel, The Clearing, is a contender for the prestigious and coveted 2011 RITA award. As you might have already heard, Heather is giving away a fabulous prize package and all you have to do is comment on this or any (or all) of our posts this week to be entered to win. To read more about the prize, click HERE.

When Heather suggested we write about an elder who has in some way influenced or inspired us, I admit I had a hard time coming up with just one. I finally decided on my maternal grandmother, Mama Billie. The reason is two fold.

One, she helps me put things in perspective. For example, one day I was really upset because my brand-new dishwasher wasn't working. (I don't know about you, but doesn't it seem odd that the dishwasher and washing machine your grandma bought twenty years ago still work just fine and these new ones last fewer than three years!?!) I was seriously about to cry, and all it took was her saying in this angelic voice, "Isn't it wonderful that we live in a time where we have dishwashers?" She didn't launch into a "when I was a girl we had to walk 20 miles to school in a blizzard, uphill both ways" monologue. No, it was just a simple sentence that brought me out of my tirade and into peaceful, even thankful, waters.

The other thing I find so inspiring about Mama Billie is she loves people unconditionally. Now, to put this in perspective, a) She's a Southern lady, who as you might know, usually have very strong opinions about ... well, everything (haha!) and b) My family is WEIRD. Sorry, there's no other way of saying it. As a whole, we are about as imperfect as they come. I'm talking the stuff of Reality TV. And yet she loves each and every one of us as if we are perfect. So when I'm frustrated with people, I remember Mama Billie and it helps me forgive them their imperfections and love them.

Now it's YOUR turn! Who in your life has a knack for getting you off the ledge and putting things into perspective? Comment because I know you want to win Heather's fabulous prize package, the winner of which will be announced on Sunday.

7 Comments on Perfect Love, last added: 6/19/2011
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30. A Moravian Moment

Congratulations to Heather! I'm so excited to celebrate the RITA nomination for The Clearing this week with another post about inspiring elders (and another chance to with the fabulous farmhouse prize pack Heather is giving away).

When I was in graduate school (studying Historic Preservation at Columbia University) one of our first year required classes as called Basic Principles of Traditional Construction. We studied things like brick recipes, house framing, and roofing techniques. The professor was a distinguished old (like 85-years-old old) Czech-born architect named Jan Pokorny. He wore a blazer and a bow tie every day and always showed up early for class.

I have a special connection to the Czech and Slovak people because my dad's theatre design mentor was also Czech. Actually, he was also Moravian, the area between the Czech republic and Slovakia. He once told my father that, when the country was still Czechoslovakia and they would play the national anthems at events, Moravia was the space between the two.

I really enjoyed that class because I love learning how things are built. I loved learning about the different kinds of siding used in Colonial housing and how to make different colored bricks by adding certain things to the recipe. The class also happened to be right after lunchtime, so I often got there early to eat lunch in my seat before the other students started showing up.

One day, Jan came in and started making notes on the board. Feeling a little awkward, I tried to make some small talk and asked him about being Moravian. When he saw that I knew what Moravia was, his eyes lit up. He asked if I was Moravian. I told him no, but that we had close family friends who were.

From that moment on I was his favorite student (well, it did help that I scored highest on the midterm test). He eventually made me T.A. for the class and was the faculty sponsor of our class trip to Prague before graduation.

Jan is no longer with us, but I can still picture his smiling round face, his quirky bow ties, and the neat and precise architectural drawings he used to make on the board. At 85 he still swam laps every day, still taught every semester, still designed and sat on committees and made a significant contribution to the world of historic preservation and the world in general. I am inspired to be as active as possible for as long as possible.

Okay, to enter today, comment with a favorite or inspiring teacher and why. Be sure to comment on all the other posts this week for more entries and check back on Sunday to find out if you've won!



10 Comments on A Moravian Moment, last added: 6/16/2011
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31. Confessions of a Confession Writer

In honor of its RITA® nomination, we are celebrating The Clearing by our own Heather Davis this week, with stories of elders who inspired us, with The Clearly Farmhouse Prize Pack (details listed in yesterday’s post) going to one lucky commenter!

I am delighted to talk about my maternal grandmother. She lived all of her 71 years in Moline, Illinois, and was lucky in love twice, first marrying a railroad worker (with whom she had two daughters--my aunt and my mother), and years later, following his death, a grocery store owner, a widower with four sons. Here she is around the time of her second wedding:

In her last years, she visited us in New York several times, bringing with her a stack of her favorite magazines. By 12 years-old, I was already reading my mother’s magazines like McCall’s and Ladies Home Journal. My eyes always went to the fiction, especially anything to do with romance, so when I got a look at what my grandmother was reading, I knew I'd hit pay dirt.

They were called Confession magazines, and while the titles were often sensational, the actual stories were mostly about love and self-discovery. Here’s a photo of a cover from back-when:

My mother did not approve of me reading these magazines, but my grandmother, bless her heart, slipped them to me secretly. I remember reading one issue in a walk-in closet with a flashlight!

Some years later, sadly, my grandmother passed away, and I went to Moline to help with the closing of her house. There I found a mountain of Confession magazines, which I poured over during the visit, and crammed into every available space in our suitcases. By then, my mother had given up keeping me from reading them. I was older, and I think she rather liked that her mother and her daughter had had this common obsession.

Little did any of us know that this would just be the beginning for me and Confession magazines. Because after college, looking to break into publishing, I decided to try my hand at writing them. I sold the second one I submitted, and at last count, I had about 80 publications to my name, many about first teen loves. Here’s a cover that features two stories I wrote: “Secret Love at a Summer Carnival” and “I Saved My Kisses for My Boyfriend’s Roommate.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my grandmother for a) passing on the roman

17 Comments on Confessions of a Confession Writer, last added: 6/16/2011
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32. The Clearing Giveaway Week!

So, you may have heard that my book The Clearing is nominated for the RITA award for Best YA Romance this year.  I couldn't be happier to see this little book get recognition from an organization I've been a part of for nearly a decade.  The ceremony will be in NYC on July 1st, and I'm already getting a little nervous. 

This week on BooksBoysBuzz, we're celebrating the nomination with stories about special elder people in our lives.  In The Clearing, Amy has moved in with her Aunt Mae in the country.  Aunt Mae's home is anything but glamorous -- it's a double-wide trailer.  The special part of Amy living there is the kindness that Aunt Mae shows her.  She tells Amy that she doesn't need a boy to tell her how special she is, that she should know that she is special already.   And then, of course, Amy meets Henry Briggs, the one boy who realizes how beautiful and amazing Amy really is.  The only problem is, of course, that he's living in the endless summer of 1944.

How did the character of Aunt Mae come to life?  I've always been close to the older people in my family.  From my grandmas to my great aunts, there were always elders who offered my father advice on raising us kids and shared their perspectives on life with us.  To date, all of my books have an older secondary character in them.  There's no way that's a coincidence!

 For those of you who haven't seen the field that inspired The Clearing, here it is in this photo from my old hometown in the North Cascades.  That's Rinker Ridge in the background, and the red barn belongs to my old neighbors, The Dellingers.  When the bad weather would come in, the barn would disappear in a curtain of mist.  One day I began to wonder if it was still there, if it really still existed when I couldn't see it, and what might be in its place if it didn't.  Pretty deep thoughts for me, right?  I imagined a family, trapped in the 1940's living behind that curtain of mist -- and Henry Briggs was born.  The Clearing ended up being the book of my heart.  It's so gratifying to get letters from readers who connected with Amy and her journey and wished for a Henry Briggs of their own. 

So, how about the giveaway?

Comment each day to be entered to win The Clearing Farmhouse Prize Pack:

Signed Copy of The Clearing
Assorted Fine Teas
Briggs Family Biscuit Recipe
Biscuit Cutters
Cool Fortune-Tellers Tea Cup

We'll draw a winner on Sunday, June 19th from all the daily comments.  US and Canada winners only.  No purchase necessary to win, of course!

Today's question:

Who has been the most influential older person in your life so far?

 Good luck!

16 Comments on The Clearing Giveaway Week!, last added: 6/14/2011
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33. Things that make you go Ha!

Most of the year I set my DVR for my favorite shows so that I can fast forward through all those pesky commercials. But now that most of my favorites have wrapped up I find myself aimlessly floating through the channels trying to find something interesting to watch.

I almost forget how incredibly funny some of the commercials can be. This one is my absolute favorite because it really resonates with me. For me, everything IS better on vacation. Even a FOUR dollar coke!

I'm also a big fan of the new Sonic commercials, especially the vampire one. I'm in awe of the writers of these commercials and their ability to produce such big laughs in mere seconds.

What is your all time favorite commercial?


2 Comments on Things that make you go Ha!, last added: 6/12/2011
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34. Buzz Girl In The Wild

Sorry for the posting delay today, but I'm on my way to Seattle and this:

And this:

Are a little more enticing than writing blog posts. :) Tune in next week when I'll be helping Buzz Girl Heather celebrate a very special honor.


2 Comments on Buzz Girl In The Wild, last added: 6/9/2011
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35. Bravo's New Show: Platinum Hit

Last night Bravo TV premiered the first episode of their new show Platinum Hit. It is a Top Chef/Project Runway-like competition for singer-songwriters. Jewel is the host and former American Idol judge Kara Dioguardi is the head judge. Here's the official season preview:

What I loved most about the first episode (and what I think I'll love most about the series) is that it's almost like a writing competition. Watching the songwriters create their lyrics, their hooks, their melodies, is almost like watching the writing process. I think it's as close to a So You Think You Can Write show as we'll get on television.

And a couple of the first episode songs were just amazing. Ah. Maze. Ing. I'm in awe of the process of putting words to music (my musical intelligence is definitely a weakness) and I hope the season lives up to the first show.

Did you watch Platinum Hit? What'd you think?



2 Comments on Bravo's New Show: Platinum Hit, last added: 5/31/2011
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36. Graduation Week Winner

As promised, my post today will be to announce the Graduation Week Winner! But first, let me say how much I loved seeing the Buzz Girl high school graduation pictures and hearing memories and thoughts from those days.

The winner of the $25.00 Amazon.com gift certificate is:


So, 1110CG, if you will kindly contact me at [email protected], we'll get that gift card on its way to you!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC's of Kissing Boys

4 Comments on Graduation Week Winner, last added: 5/31/2011
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37. Libraries Lacking Personal Interaction

Quick note: As we wrap up our week of celebrating high school graduations, Tina will announce the winner of the $25 Amazon.com gift card tomorrow. Thanks to everybody who commented and good luck!

A few weeks ago, I was asked to be a panelist during the Utah Library Association annual conference. Here I am afterwards, dining at Rooster's in Layton with YA authors (left to right) Lara Zielin, Adam Selzer, moi, Sheila A. Nielson, and Emily Wing Smith. From what I could tell, the librarians and their colleagues were there to bond, inspire, educate, share, and improve. As a huge fan of libraries, I was honored to be included.

My local library, which is about 10 minutes away from my house, is in danger of closing. If it does, our closest library is about 30 minutes away. Why is it in danger? Reportedly, not enough people are coming in to check out materials. It has lots of wonderful programs, especially for children, but since the elementary school is no longer located right next door to it, it's seen a decline in participants. I admit I don't take my kids to as many activities now that it's not quite as convenient to get them there after school. However, I do take them there once every or every-other week and we all check out books.

Going to the ULA conference made me see that librarians really do enjoy their jobs and want to promote reading. But here's my thoughts on that. When I go to my local library, there isn't any interaction with librarians. I go to the computer to look up the book I want (not a very user friendly program, but I won't get into that now), locate it on the shelf, and then check it out at a self-checkout station. (Even if there's a librarian doing something at the desk, she'll shoo me over to the self-checkout station.) Sometimes I never lay eyes on a librarian, and if I do, they're usually in the back room. I'm not saying they're not working; it's just that they're not interacting with the people. Sometimes I try to strike up a conversation with a librarian, but I get the feeling that I'm bothering him or her. I've been going to this library regularly for over 8 years and I only know one librarian's name. She was a real gem and I miss her. (She moved to another library years ago.)

I remember being so excited to go to the library as a child. Why? Because the librarians would help me find books, and then suggest other books, and when I came back, they'd ask how I liked the books. It was like my own little personal book club, and their passion for reading was contagious. In a world where technology has all but erased person-to-person interactions, I wish we could recapture that wonderful, magical feeling of knowing just beyond the library's doors is endless shelves of books as well as a helpful, encouraging, knowledgeable librarian who is glad to see us.

Would librarians giving library-goers personal interaction change the world? Maybe! After all, it changed my world when I was a child! Now I'll hop off my soapbox and see what you think. Is your library all computers and self-checkout stands? Or do you get a personal touch? Do you go to the library or find you have no need now that we have the internet? Do you like having a librarian help you, or would you rather do it yourself? Tell me! :)

9 Comments on Libraries Lacking Personal Interaction, last added: 5/29/2011
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38. Oh the Places You Will Go....

Sunday, May 29, 2011 will mark the twentieth anniversary of my high school graduation. TWENTY years!!!! I've changed so much since that day I strolled across the stage to get my well-earned diploma. I've achieved most of the things I had planned for myself and even some things I never would have thought possible.
(My friend and college roommate on our HS graduation day!)

There were some huge roadblocks along the way. And sometimes things didn't turn out at all the way I had planned. But the good thing about life is that sometimes something even better is just around the corner waiting for you.

My best advice to any new graduate is to dream BIG. You are usually the only obstacle standing in your way. If you can envision it and you work really hard, chances are you are going to achieve anything you put your mind to.

(This silly girl never would have dreamed she could be an author.)

Whether you come from a tiny graduating class or a huge one. A big city or a farm town. Whether you move away or stay right where you are. You are the only one who can measure the success of your life. Good luck graduates even though I know you will all make your own luck.


6 Comments on Oh the Places You Will Go...., last added: 5/27/2011
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39. Decisions, Decisions... for the Graduate

We’re celebrating graduations this week on the Buzz Blog.  To do my part, I'm posting a few photos from senior year, including my prom pic with my best guy friend back then, Michael -- what a cutie!

For me, senior year was a little weird.  All of my best friends were a year or two ahead of me in school, so after they left, it was time to make new friends.  I spent the year hanging out with my peeps from my drama and art classes, or the kids (like Michael) I worked with at the local fast-food joint.  Yes, I was a drive-thru queen that year. 

It wasn’t a bad job.  The people (mostly from other high schools) were fun, and it was only embarrassing when the kids who didn’t have to have after school jobs came into the place or whizzed through the drive-thru.  It was great to have a little spending money and to get some work experience, even if it was handing paper bags of greasy food out a little window. 

I could tell you so many stories about the shenanigans that went on there -- The grill boys who blasted the song “Hell’s Bells” after closing to annoy the very conservative manager.  The night some guy said lewd things into the drive-thru speaker to the girl taking orders, making the high school football star that worked with us so mad he nearly crawled out the delivery window to rip the creep's face off.  The day an ex-boyfriend who’d unceremoniously ditched me rolled through on his Vespa to pick up a burger.

It was a YA novel in action all around me.

Anyway, when graduation rolled around, I set my sights on going to the local liberal arts college.  My dad was a single parent who owned his house, so financial aid was really limited for us.  I basically chose a school we could afford.  I had finished in the top ten percent of my class, was a National Merit Letter of Commendation winner, and got a partial scholarship based on my art skills and plans to major in film, but somehow though, when I learned that the boy who was right behind me in the class rankings was going to Dartmouth, I questioned why I hadn’t applied to any Ivy League schools -- that maybe I’d set my sights too low.

Through that summer, I thought a lot about the purpose of college, about wanting to learn in a focused and collaborative way.  My chosen school, The Evergreen State College, seemed like it was the right choice after all.  I realized it didn’t matter what anyone else was doing -- it only mattered what was right for me.  (Good realization, kid!)

When I arrived at Evergreen in the fall and took my first drawing, photography, and creative writing classes, I felt at home.  And later, when I started my film courses, I really dug in.  By the time I graduated college, I knew one thing for sure -- I

6 Comments on Decisions, Decisions... for the Graduate, last added: 5/27/2011
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40. Hats off to the Class of 2011!

Congratulations to all of the graduates in the Class of 2011! I bet you thought you'd never get here. Hats off to you for your accomplishment and best wishes in your future endeavors where ever they may lead you.

I remember being in middle school and counting ahead to the year when I would graduate. It seemed so far in the future. Now, I look back and it seems so far in the past. Why, when I graduated in 1885...errrr, I mean 1985, the members of the class of 2011 weren't even a twinkle in their parents' eyes.

Even though Tera already posted a link to old photos of me, I'll go ahead and toss some up.

Here I am last year when I visited "the hill," where Pike Liberal Art School sits in Troy, Alabama. The campus has changed quite a bit, but there was still the same familiar feel on the soil that I walked for twelve years.


Here's my senior portrait. Keep in mind, this was back in the days when thick eyebrows and girl mullets were the fashion. LOL!


I had twenty-eight (28) people in my senior class. We were a really tight-knit group through our years together from first grade until twelth. It seemed as if our world would end being "busted up," but so many people have gone on to wonderful lives. Careers that include, the military, lawyer, policeman, several school teachers, nurses, and even a district judge! Then there's little old me...the published author. Who'd a thunk it? LOL!

Here's our senior portfolio. I'm on the top line because I was a class officer. This is hanging in the hallway at my alma mater, along with all of the other classes. (Check out the big hair on everyone!) Sadly, there's a prayer hand notation on one of my classmates who passed away.


Actually, when I left high school for The University of Alabama, I had planned on getting a degree in psychology and then going forward into medical school. That all changed after my freshman year at Bama when I my creative juices took over in my communication and writing classes and I longed to go into marketing/advertising/public relations. Now *that's* a switch!

That's the great thing about this time in your life. You can change your mind. You can try on dreams and ideas and see what fit. The only thing that matters is that you discover who you are...and who you want to be...and don't let anyone or anything hold you back from your dream, whatever it may be.

So...congrats to the class of 2011! I wish you success and happiness!

Marley = )

8 Comments on Hats off to the Class of 2011!, last added: 5/26/2011
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41. High School TLC

My senior picture.
This week we're celebrating high school seniors and graduation. High school graduation feels like forever ago, and I've done so many crazy things since then. On the day of my graduation, I planned to go to Columbia University in New York City to study architecture and eventually become a world famous architect like Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, or Robert A.M. Stern. But plans change. Here's what really happened:

Went to Columbia, University of Colorado, back to Columbia, SHSU, and Tufts. Lived in New York, Colorado, Missouri, Texas, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oklahoma. Wanted to become a lawyer, architect, environmental biologist, actress, muralist, scenic artist, teacher, professor and finally writer.

My graduation picture.
I often wonder what my friends have done since high school. I'm not in touch with most of them, but every so often I hear from one. Sometimes I try to track someone down on Facebook or something. I know my best friend is married with babies. Many of my friends are still in or around the town where we went to high school.

I always had bigger plans than my friends. I wanted to go farther away, do more exciting things, be a bigger name in the end. Maybe it's because I grew up moving around the country, so big changes didn't scare me. They still don't, obviously, since I'm about to move across the country again. (Seattle here I come!)

I've always been a planner, but I've also always been willing to let me plans change. And I'm definitely happy with how my plans are working out so far.

So, what are/were your plans when you graduate(d) from high school? Big or small? Close to home or far away? Did you/are you/will you accomplish them?


PS. If you want to see more embarrassing high school pictures, check out my post from High School Week back in 2008. Tina, Marley, StephHeather, Dona (sort of) and ex-Buzz Girl Simone shared, too.

42. High School Regrets

Happy graduation to all the high school graduates out there! As Tina mentioned yesterday, to help celebrate we will be highlighting a few things about our high school years. Should be fun! Plus, comment each day for chances to win the $25 Amazon.com gift card Tina is giving away!

This is me when I graduated high school. Sorry it's blurry. Anyway, I think one thing we can see from all these high school photos, regardless of how fuzzy they are, is that I had bad hair. I'm not sure if this is just the way it is, kind of like how no matter how hard we try to choose bridesmaid dresses that are actually pretty and can be worn again someday (yeah, right), or if it's just me. I slept in curlers or braids to give my straight hair more volume and oh, man, those bangs! Straight across and puffy, not a good look! Additionally, I sometimes wore a bow in my hair when I played sports (don't even get my husband started on that one).

In the next photo, you'll see the front of my alma mater, Araphahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado. I'm here with my friend, Amy, showing our school spirit. Yep, big hair. And I chose to share the (bottom) photo of us in our fancy dresses (big hair again) because prom is another huge highlight of the high school years. However, since I didn't have a boyfriend, my girl friends and I would grab a few guys from other schools and go in a big group. At the time, I was sad no one asked me, but now, I realize going with friends might've been more fun anyhow. So while I regret my high school hair-styling choices, I don't regret going to dances with friends.

Now it's your turn! (And don't be shy; there's $25 up for grabs!) If you've already graduated high school, is there something that at the time you were happy about but now you regret (like your hair) or something you regretted back then but now are happy about (like going to dances with friends instead of a boyfriend)? If you're still in high school, what about your junior high years?

7 Comments on High School Regrets, last added: 5/26/2011
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43. It's Senior Yearbook Photo Week!

The Buzz Girls are going to be digging deep into our yearbooks, drawers and pasts for our senior yearbook pictures this week, in celebration of high school graduations going on all across the land.

With a husky laugh and a roll of my eyes, I offer up mine:

This was scanned out of my yearbook, for a reason. If you were to look at the yearbook itself, you’d notice something pretty funny. My head is significantly bigger than anyone else’s. This is pretty odd, considering all the photos were taken on our auditorium stage, with the camera and the stool in fixed position. So how is it, in a class of over 500, I am the only one with the “big head?” It’s because someone decided to enlarge my photo to crop off my little bit of cleavage...

Too funny, huh?

Anyway, in celebration of high school graduations--and the fact that my son is among those about to receive a diploma--I am offering a $25 Amazon gift card to one random commenter this week. You can enter as often as you want, and the winner will be announced in my blog post next Monday, Memorial Day, May 30th.

Let’s start the comments/contest entries off with this question: do you like YOUR high school graduation picture? (I think you can tell I’m not real fond of mine!)


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC’s of Kissing Boys

12 Comments on It's Senior Yearbook Photo Week!, last added: 5/26/2011
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44. Reflections on Traveling...

I wasn't quite sure to expect of traveling alone to such a far away place, but I had a great time in Italy. And now, having put away all the laundry, stored the suitcase, and ordered the Italian stovetop espresso maker, I'm back to real life.

I learned a few things during my travels:

1) Most people who visit Rome don't bother to learn how to say, "Scusa signora, parla inglese?" if they need to ask someone a question on the street.  If you look like you know where you are going, they literally come up to you and start jabbering away in English without asking if you speak it.  I saw this happen to so many Italians, and it even happened to me.  Very weird.

2) It takes patience to be in Rome.  You might need to wait a looooooong time for a bus.  That bus might never come.  You might start walking and then see the aforementioned bus zoom by you.  Don't stress, just stop for some gelato.

3) A lot of people want to get their photos taken by cool stuff like fountains, statues, art, views, but they don't actually stop to take it all in and experience it.  In Rome and Florence, I saw things that literally astounded me, things that I had to walk around to see from other perspectives, like the Bernini statues at Galleria Borghese.  Thank goodness there were no pictures allowed in that gallery.  When I walked around the statue of Apollo and Daphne, I could almost feel the motion of the fabric, the rooting of her feet, her hands sprouting into leaves, reaching toward heaven.  It was a reminder to me as a creative person that details matter, that making your work shine from every angle is worth it.

4) It is possible to get lonely, even in the midst of a crush of people.  That was an old thing that I remembered from years before, when I'd sat at a Christmas Eve service by myself because an ex hadn't wanted to come with me.  On that pew, and in front of the Trevi fountain, I felt that aloneness.  How even surrounded by people, strangers or those you know, you can still be insulated, singular, on your own.  It was one of the few times that I felt a little sad on the trip.  I chucked my coins in the fountain and jetted right out of there, not so much feeling La Dolce Vita.

5)  But ---- aloneness is also a good thing.  When you travel by yourself, you can do what you want.  Eat what you want.  Go where you want.  There's no one else to please but yourself, and that's quite a nice perk of solo travel.  Also, you end up talking to more people on your own -- and so my Italian got a huge workout.   If you travel with someone else, you'll end up speaking English to each other much more than Italian to strangers and new friends.

5) History is all around you.  In Italy, here in America, everywhere.  There was something else that stood on the place you're standing.  Another story that took place before today's e

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45. In Memory of a Dear Friend

As I'm not going to have internet access on Sunday, I'm scheduling this post ahead of time. So for me, today is Friday, May 13.

I woke up this morning not feeling like myself. Something felt off, or maybe something was missing. Anyway, I went along with my morning routine of getting kids ready for school and driving 6 4 year-olds (yes, 6!) to preschool. Then I emailed a dear friend of mine, Kristen Harmel, who I've known online and through her books since 2007. I finally got to meet her face-to-face (or maybe her-face-to-my-chin because she's adorably teensy) at RWA Nationals in Orlando (where she lives) last summer.

Kristin and I met in an unusual way. It was because an ambitious, quirky, bright, beautiful, gracious, book-loving (I could go on and on) fifteen year-old, Anna, thought we needed to know each other. She introduced the two of us via MySpace and sent us signed books of each other's. Anna wasn't your typical fifteen year-old. She couldn't speak (no voice), but she made up for it by writing beautiful, tragic, magical poetry. She loved to read and review books. And whenever one of Kristin's or my books came out, she made a huge deal out of it, sending party favors, buying and mailing it to all of her friends, and priding herself in being one of the very first to review it online. I'll never forget the day she volunteered to be my assistant. She had business cards made and everything! If you're a blogger, you might remember her contacting you to see if you wanted to review Lifted. I can't even imagine how long that must have taken her, because her hands were very shaky and she had a hard time typing.

You see, Anna was very sick. In fact, she was told she wouldn't live past the age of 15. Anna proved those doctors wrong. She lived twelve days past her 19th birthday. Which is miraculous, is it not? As her sister put it, Anna rejoiced every morning she was still here with us.

Two days before Anna died, she wrote this poem:

I dream that the world will know my name.
Don't tell me if I'm dying
'cause I don't want to know,
If I can't see the sun
maybe I should go.

As soon as we heard Anna had passed away, Kristin and I talked on the phone. Anna was such an important part of both of our lives (I know she touched Tina's and Marley's lives as well, to name a couple you might know) and what's more, my inbox and Facebook messages are filling up with stories about Anna and how she brought people together. Would Kristin Harmel and I have met had Anna not insisted? Possibly. But as Kristin put it, "What a lovely gift that was, from her to us. Now, she'll always be alive in our friendship."

In loving memory of Anna Haze, May 1, 1992-May 13, 2011. xoxo

7 Comments on In Memory of a Dear Friend, last added: 5/16/2011
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46. Twitter Talk

I joined Twitter a couple months ago, and have been making attempts to post and follow others’ posts.

But what was confusing me was these conversations that seemed to be going back and forth between people. While I “got” that they were directing comments to each other with the @ sign, what boggled my mind was how they caught them all? Didn’t things get past them?

That’s when I found out about something called @Mentions. When someone directs a comment at you, it’s stored in a separate place. (I’ll bet you already knew that!) I went there and found a slew of people who’d asked me questions or directed comments at me. Yikes! I went into catch-up mode, and I think I’m good now.

So thought I’d throw it out to the online world to educate me in anything else “fancy” at Twitter that I might be missing.

And please feel free to join me there. I’m am known as:


(Apparently, the Tina Ferraros of the world beat me to Twitter, and I could not get any variation of my name.)


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC’s of Kissing Boys

4 Comments on Twitter Talk, last added: 5/17/2011
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47. Stranded in Texas

As much as I love my car, sometimes it's more trouble than it's worth. Like now. Last week I put in $1000 to make it trip-ready for my tour travel to Texas this month and then for the long drive next month. That $1000 included replacing the rear brake pads and rotors (what the brakes grip onto to stop your car).

All through the drive to Austin and San Antonio last weekend, I worried that there was something wrong with my engine, that it was working too hard for the highway driving I was doing. Plus, every time I stopped and got out of the car it stank of melted brake rubber. I thought it was just new brake pads smell.

Fast forward to Sunday night when I get to Rosemary Clement-Moore's house in Fort Worth. We decided to go out to dinner because it was late and I was starved. I put my foot on the brake before putting the car in gear and the pedal whooshed straight to the floor. I pulled out and drove a few feet and tested the brakes, which didn't grab until the pedal was all the way to the floor. When I pulled back to the curb, shut off the car and called my dad, I played with the brake pedal again and it built up so much pressure that it wouldn't move at all.

B2 Goes For A Ride

Suffice it to say that the next morning a tow truck came and took my car away to a branch of the repair shop that had done the work up in Oklahoma. Although they tried to argue the situation and make me pay for some of the additional repairs on the parts they "fixed" they are (hopefully--I'm writing this the night before) fixing my car this morning and bringing it back to me with no money out of my pocket. Fingers crossed.

What irritates me about this situation is not only did their repair cause a new problem and they tried to deny that, to blame it on my older car, but I worry about additional wear on the brand new rotors and on my engine because it had to work extra hard the whole trip. Not to mention the extra gas consumed.

Sigh. I hope this all works out and my car makes it back to Dallas next weekend and then to the west coast, but I'd sure appreciate and nice windfall of cash from the universe so I can buy a shiny new car with a shiny new warranty.

Have you ever had a horrible car breakdown story? Or an awful experience with an untrustworthy mechanic? Please share and make me feel not so alone in my car troubles.



7 Comments on Stranded in Texas, last added: 5/19/2011
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48. Signs that Summer is Almost Here

I look at the calendar and it tells me it's the middle of May. The middle of May? Seriously? Another school year is wrapping up, television shows are having their finales, and summer is just around the corner...literally.

Here are some signs that summer is almost here:

People Tweeting about the prom: So many friends of mine have been posting about getting their son or daughter ready for the prom. Amazing how the girls love the shopping, picking out their dress, how they'll wear their hair and makeup, and the boys just complain that they have to stop playing video games long enough to take a shower and get ready. LOL!!

School's Out: There's no better feeling than the last school bell ringing to signify the end of a school year and the start of summer vacation. I remember that faithful bus ride home every year where people would celebrate by shaking up Coke cans and spraying them on each other. No one got off the bus dry. (I'm sure that's not permitted theses days.)

Picking up the boys at the airport: With the end of school, that means my fiance's son's will be joining us on the RV until they go back to school in August. They're flying up to Baltimore from Atlanta where we'll spend a few days in Gettysburg, then up to Boston, and then to Illinois and upstate New York for events and then down to Florida. We're planning on catching the VERY LAST launch ever of the space shuttle program.


Memorial Day: The official opening of summer! The campground is full of people with their grills and lawn chairs already set out. The pool will be open soon and hopefully, the sun will grace the east coast with its presence.

Good books to read: Well, my fifth GHOST HUNTRESS book, THE DISCOVERY, just came out and it would make excellent beach reading. So would any of the books from the Buzz Girls. Get them online, at the bookstore, or from us directly. Or, try downloading a digital copy for your eReader. Whatever the case, enjoy escaping into the story as you soak up the sun.


So what are some signs for you that summer is on the way?

Marley = )

4 Comments on Signs that Summer is Almost Here, last added: 5/19/2011
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49. Here We Trend Again...

I got an email advertisement from Publisher’s Weekly the other day for Ashes, a dystopian YA which debuts this fall.  It seems there are still publishers wanting to put out books in that sub-genre, which surprises me since I think this push will be coming to an end.  Then again, with the long lead time of print books, this novel has, of course, been in the works for a while.

Agent Mandy Hubbard blogged a recap of her meetings in NY with acquiring editors and apparently, there were a few places still hoping to put out a YA dystopian novel before the wave ends. 

So what’s next?

Well, as USA Today predicted last week, mermaid stories are on the rise.  And it’s worth noting that our own Tera Lynn Childs was at the forefront of that trend, and before that she was writing about Greek mythology, another trend that’s cresting.  I think she must have a crystal ball.  Tera, 'fess up!

But really, it’s just amazing how the Collective Unconscious seems to work in the publishing world.  A few really great books on a unique subject get other people thinking and writing and then a new wave is born, I guess.

Mandy wrote that what editors hoped would be big (though they couldn't say it would be for sure) was more realistic fiction -- so you can imagine that I smiled at that one.  Just the other day I saw a table at my local Barnes & Noble that was marked “For Sarah Dessen fans” and featured books by Justina Chen, Sarah Ockler, and others.  I imagined that my books, though they have a supernatural element, could be on that table someday...

The main thing I know about trends and predictions and buzz is that nobody knows anything for real.  A great book, no matter the subject, is going to find a home.  And with the growing sales of e-books, authors have the ability to put those books out there on  their own now, too.

I think readers are smart, especially YA readers.  They can smell b.s.  They want real characters and compelling stories.  They want to be entertained.  They want to feel something.

That is the trend to watch.  The trend to write to.

What do you guys think?  Are you over dystopian fiction?  Are mermaids going to make an even larger impact this year?  Have you read any vampire books recently?



The Clearing - 2011 Rita Finalist Best YA Romance
Wherever You Go - Harcourt, November 2011
Never Cry Werewolf - HarperTeen

2 Comments on Here We Trend Again..., last added: 5/20/2011
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50. On my soapbox...

I was so sad to hear the news last month that two soap operas that I used to love are being canceled. I'm sure you've already heard but All my Children is ending in September and One Life to Live will follow in January.

I have to admit that I haven't exactly followed the shows for quite a few years and it didn't really come as a huge shock. I'm sure that both of these soaps have a mostly female demographic, even though I bet a bunch of guys watch and just don't admit it. And let's face it, we women rarely have time to sit around and watch soaps anymore. But the news still felt like yet another cultural icon that technology has stolen from us. Dramatic, much? Sorry, I was channeling my inner soap diva there for a second.

Did you know that some of today's most famous movie stars started out on soap operas? David Hasselhoff (okay, I know Hoff isn't a major star but I can't help it, I love the guy), Jason Biggs, Alec Baldwin, Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei, and tons more. My favorite soap star to big screen in Josh Duhamel. He used to play Leo on All my Children and I adored him. So hot!
Cameron Mathison and Rebecca Buddig are two of my favorite stars still on All my Children. I'm hoping that they both find jobs doing what they love.

And who can forget Susan Lucci? She has played the character we all love to hate, Erica Kane, since the shows inception in 1970. I'm sure that the writers have some very dramatic endings planned and I, for one, will be watching!

Will you be sad to see soaps phased off television? Who is your favorite soap character of all time?



3 Comments on On my soapbox..., last added: 5/20/2011
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