Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gateway Books . . .

In continued celebration of Banned Books Week, I thought I'd post a list of what I like to call "Gateway Books." You know, the ones that got you hooked on reading. The one's that might've taken you from a "reading is boring" mentality to the proud owner of a towering TBR pile.

This list, compiled by votes from First Book, which, by the way, is not only a rockin' charity providing books to children in need, but pretty much a 24/7 book-lovers-love-fest, contains many of my favorite titles, many of which, big surprise, have been banned and/or challenged!

While the first book I learned to read was HORTON HATCHES THE EGG by Dr. Seuss, my personal gateway book, the one that changed everything and turned me into a bonafide addict, was Judy Blume's ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET, which just happens to claim the number 62 spot on the Top 100 most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000 list because apparently writing about REAL issues affecting REAL girls is somehow dangerous.

Or something.

I can't quit grasp the ideology behind the pro-book banning argument. It all seems so--dumb.

All I know is that Judy Blume says this about it:

“[I]t's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.”

And I totally agree.

Any who, below is the list of gateway books, some of them deemed dangerous, some not. But what I really want to know is:


    Top 50 Books!

    1. The Nancy Drew series
    2. Green Eggs & Ham
    3. Little House on the Prairie series
    4. Charlotte's Web
    5. Cat in the Hat
    6. Little Women
    7. The Boxcar Children
    8. The Bobbsey Twins
    9. Black Beauty
    10. The Dick & Jane series
    11. Go Dog Go!
    12. To Kill a Mockingbird
    13. Goodnight Moon
    14. Gone With the Wind
    15. Heidi
    16. Anne of Green Gables
    17. Curious George
    18. Black Stallion
    19. Harry Potter series
    20. The Secret Garden
    21. The Bible
    22. The Pokey Little Puppy
    23. The Giving Tree
    24. A Wrinkle in Time
    25. The Little Engine That Could
    26. The Hobbit
    27. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    28. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
    29. The Hardy Boys series
    30. Hop on Pop
    31. Where the Sidewalk Ends
    32. The Velveteen Rabbit
    33. Are You There God? It's me Margaret.
    34. The Babysitters Club series
    35. Pippi Longstocking
    36. Amelia Bedelia
    37. The Hatchet
    38. Superfudge
    39. Ramona Quimby books
    40. Cinderella
    41. Island of the Blue Dolphins
    42. The Wizard of Oz
    43. The Outsiders
    44. Winnie the Pooh
    45. Treasure Island
    46. Horton Hears a Who
    47. Love You Forever
    48. Old Yeller
    49. Call of the Wild
    50. Twilight


Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Heart Banned Books!

Today marks the official start of Banned Books Week--a national celebration of the freedom to read! Over a thousand books have been challenged since its launch in 1982--many of which have a permanent home on my keeper shelf.

I can't imagine life without Judy Blume's FOREVER, JD Salinger's CATCHER IN THE RYE, Margaret Atwood's THE HANDMAID'S TALE, Stephen Chobsky's THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, (and too many more to mention!)--all books that have shaped me not just as a writer, but as a person!

Books are challenged in every state and in hundreds of communities--and they run the gamut of contemporary works to classic and beloved works of American literature. And according to the American Library Association, more than 400 books were challenged in 2007. The 10 most challenged titles were:

1. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3. Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes
4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
7. TTYL by Lauren Myracle
8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
9. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

So tell me, what are some of your favorite banned books??

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bye Bye American Pie (and dairy, and gluten, and . . .)

So the winners of this week’s Free Book Friday have been announced, and big congrats go out to: Jen, Jeanne, and Terra who won signed copies of Fly Me to the Moon, Cruel Summer, and Saving Zoë respectively! And be sure to stay tuned as Jessica has lots of amazing guests lined up—starting tomorrow! (Saturday!)

And speaking of food (I know we weren’t but I couldn’t come up with a decent segue), yesterday, in the interest of better health, I visited a naturopath, sure that some of my health complaints were most likely attributed to my diet but wanting a professional to confirm it. So after a two hour session I learned that basically everything I eat is doing me in, which was really shocking as I was sure that my dislike and complete avoidance of fast foods and processed foods made me the poster child for healthy eating—but alas, it is not so. It seems my penchant for dairy and gluten based products is the true root of all evil. So, in a moment of insanity (and a dash of pioneering can do spirit) I agreed to give it all up, along with alcohol and tomatoes (no salsa pour moi!) for 3 weeks and note the progress—starting, um, today!

Though in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I already know it'll work since I've done this before, back when I lived in NYC and was on an extended disability leave from work (a hand injury that required surgery), where just three days in I felt better than ever—light on my feet—like I was lit from within! But the moment I returned to the polyester dress wearing, roller bag dragging, sleep-deprived life of a flight attendant, I regressed quicker than you can say, “Ready for Take Off Captain!” So, we'll see if this second go round really sticks!

And speaking of food (now that’s a segue!), I strategically scheduled my naturopath appointment well after this event. For those of you feeling especially click shy, the event is Savor The Season—an annual food feast benefitting Break The Cycle—an organization empowering teens to build lives and communities free from domestic and dating violence--(did you know that 1 in 3 teen girls will be in an abusive relationship??). So in the interest of empowering youth and promoting peace I ate this:

And drank some of those dry sodas:

Along with a whole lot of other stuff that didn't photograph so well. Though funnily enough, in a night that was all about food, the only pictures I took that actually turned out were of my friend Snarky’s new shoes!

And speaking of shoes—well, I’m trying to decide which shoes I’ll wear for the Debate Watching Party I’m attending tonight. Okay, I’m really not all that concerned with my footwear, I just wanted to mention that I'm going to a debate watching party!!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Interview on Writely So

Hey Everyone-

Just wanted you to know about a fun interview I did over at DeAnna Cameron's awesome blog-- Writely So.

Every Wednesday she interviews an author on The Business of Books, asking about their promotional plans, what they've learned along the way, what they'd recommend etc, and this Wednesday (um, that would be today), she's featuring moi. Though I urge you to bookmark it and check back as often as you can since there's a lot to be learned!

Thanks -- and have a great day!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Free Book Friday Podcast Interview!

Hey Everyone-

Amazing author of THE FIDELITY FILES and good friend, Jessica Brody, is featuring moi this week on her awesome new website-- Free Book Friday!

She put together a really fun (and very professional sounding, I might add!) podcast interview where I talk about which airplane stories were true in FLY ME TO THE MOON, the story behind the story in SAVING ZOE, and why I chose the blog- email-postcard format in CRUEL SUMMER -- and more!

Oh, and while you're there, I'm giving away signed copies of those books as well so be sure to sign up for your chance to win!

It's so easy-- all you have to do is click HERE!

Oh, and to subscribe on iTunes click HERE!

Best of luck and Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Free Books!!!

So, in honor of the fabulous Linda Gerber's new release, DEATH BY LATTE, (see last post for more details), she's throwing herself a major blog party and giving away all sorts of awesome prizes!

And since today's my turn, I'm blogging about LYING. So, please drop by, and leave me a comment about the last lie you told, or just how you feel about lying in general, for your chance to win a signed copy of my debut novel, FAKING 19, and my most recent release, CRUEL SUMMER.

All you have to do is click HERE!

Happy Sunday everyone!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

GCC Presents . . .Linda Gerber!!!

Hey Everyone-

I'm so thrilled that amazing author and fellow Teen Fiction Cafe patron, Linda Gerber, stopped by to chat with us about her new book, DEATH BY LATTE, released today! She has all sorts of fun planned for the launch, including a world class blog party you will not want to miss! Just click HERE for your chance to win prizes!

Oh, and even better, since there's a lying theme to it all, you'll also learn about some of the BIG FAT LIES your favorite authors have told- including yours truly!

Except that I don't lie--seriously.
Other than that last sentence. And this one that follows, I've a strict no  lying policy--I swear!

But first-- here's the lowdown on Linda's new book:

Following on the heels of this summer’s killer YA mystery, DEATH BY BIKINI, DEATH BY LATTE (Puffin Paperback; September 18, 2008; $9.99) is a modern-day romantic mystery/suspense in the tradition of Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr.
DEATH BY LATTE Aphra Connolly, who had been living a quiet existence on her father’s secluded island resort, until Seth Mulo turns up and steals her heart… and provides information that leads her to find her mom in Seattle. But the reunion isn’t quite what she expected. Aphra’s mom, Natalie, doesn’t seem happy to see Aphra, and Natalie’s boyfriend, Joe, insists that Aphra go home. Even worse, Seth shows up, only to ask her to return the ring he had given her that summer. At least Natalie’s good-looking neighbor is sympathetic. But when Joe is found dead at a nearby coffee shop, Aphra discovers her whole trip to Seattle has been based on a lie. And now someone just might be trying to kill her. . . .

Praise for DEATH BY LATTE:

“Great characters, plot twists, and non-stop action and excitement.”-YA Books Central
“Full of action, suspense, and mystery, Death by Latte is a thrilling edition to the Death by series!”-The Story Siren
“An entertaining Seattle joy ride that… teens will appreciate.”-Genre-go-Round Reviews
“Death by Latte is a compelling read for those who like mystery, action, and adventure with a little romance and humor thrown in for good measure.”-Purple Pens Reviews
“Enjoyed quite thoroughly!”-Critical Mass
“This exciting installment features non-stop thrills and leaves you guessing right up to the end.”-Presenting Lenore
“High action and suspense.”-Library Thing

Praise for the DEATH BY series:
“Will capture mystery fans.”- G. Engberg - Booklist
“Strong writing and plenty of plot twists.”-The Providence Journal
“Fast-paced, fun, and maybe just a little scary.”-YA New YorkJust “the right amount of intrigue, suspense, humor and romance.”-Flamingnet Book Reviews
“Five enchantments.”-Enchanting Reviews
“Refreshing read.”-Simply Books

And now, the same 5 questions we always ask:

1. Every story has a backstory, what's the backstory for your book?
A few years back, I had written a short story as an exercise for a writers' forum. I had so much fun with it that I decided to develop it a little more until eventually it grew to book length, though it was never intended for anyone's eyes but my own. Meanwhile, I
 had sold a couple of books to Puffin and - in a moment of utter insanity - I decided to take a chance and show my for-fun book to my editor. She liked it. DEATH BY LATTE is book two in a three-book contract I earned from that moment of insanity.

2. What's your work environment like? Any rituals, totems, or must haves? 
I'm a mom who travels, so I have to be really flexible with my work environment. I've written my share of chapters on the sidelines, in airports or on trains. Some of my fav
orite places to write: in Japan I had a desk in our living room that overlooked a stand of bamboo and a sakura tree. Sigh. In our current house I have my own office, but my favorite place to write is in an easy chair,
 looking out at the woods in our back yard. My mojo is a little sumo figurine I got in Tokyo. He stands on my desk in the office looking fierce and telling me to stop messing around on youtube and get back to work…

3. If you could live inside any book-- which would it be?
Oooh. That's tough because there are so many places to choose. I'd love to live in Ella's world in Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted. And I wouldn't mind living in that haunted bedroom in Meg Cabot's Mediator series as long as it came complete with the hot Spanish ghost!

4. What book rocked your world growing up?
I don't know about rocking my world, but the book I remember as the turning point for me where I became a full-blown book addict was As the Red Fern Grows. It was the first book I stayed up all night under the covers reading because I had to know what was going to happen next. That was way back in grade school, but still tear up thinking about that final scene with the fern between the dogs' graves. *sniff* And I've had many an all-night book affair since then!

5. If you could visit any time, place, or person- what, where, or who would it be?
I'd go back to Los Angeles the 20's and hang out with my Grandpa, Leo Cowan. He was really cool and had a great sense of humor when I knew him (he died several years ago) and from the stories he told, he was kind of a rebel when he was young. It would have been a kick to know him then.

Linda recently returned to life in the Midwest after four years in Japan, where she served as the Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She currently lives and writes in Dublin, OH, blissfully ignoring her husband, four kids, and one very naughty puppy.

Where to find her:
Facebook: http://www.new.facebook.com/profile.php?id=518643863

Friday, September 12, 2008

Free Book Friday!

Free Book Friday is the brainchild of the amazing Ms. Jessica Brody. And all you have to do to play is click HERE and then leave a comment for your chance to win!!

Have a fun weekend everyone!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Entourage is back!

Last night was a great night.

Not just because I got to stay home and get reacquainted with my couch after a weekend of running around including my BFF's community gala on Saturday night-- but also because it just so happened to mark one of my favorite things:

The season premiere of ENTOURAGE!!!!!!!!!

It also introduced me to one of my new fave things:

The premiere of True Blood.

For me, ENTOURAGE is a no brainer. Hollywood + Hi jinks + Hottie cast= 30 minutes of Hi-larious fun!

As for True Blood, other than a passing reference over a year ago by my hair stylist, I was completely unfamiliar with Charlaine Harris' vampire series. But when I learned that Alan Ball, genius writer of my all time fave movie, AMERICAN BEAUTY, and producer of one of my all time fave shows, SIX FEET UNDER, was once again, at the helm- I knew I had to watch--and I'm so glad I did. It's dark, campy, and fun, and I can't wait to see where they go with it!

Though I have to admit, the second Sookie started hearing everyone's thoughts but the vampire's, I looked at my husband, and he looked at me, and at the exact same time we said:

Oh my gawd! (okay, the OMG part was just me, but what follows was in unison, I swear)
That's just like Ever and Damen in EVERMORE!

Because just like Sookie, Ever (the EVERMORE protagonist), hears thoughts. But she also sees auras, gets life stories by touch, and talks to the dead. And speaking of EVERMORE, I just received a few ARCs the other day, and this is what the back cover copy says:

Since the horrible accident that claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year old Ever can see auras, hear people's thoughts, and know a person's entire life story just by touch. Going out of her way to suppress her abilities has branded her a freak at her new high school--but everything changes when she meets Damen . . .

Damen Auguste is gorgeous, exotic, and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head. The problem: She doesn't know who he really is--or what he is.

The awesome Kelly Parra is running a contest in October, to celebrate the release of her own paranormal tale, INVISIBLE TOUCH. So be sure to stop by her secret fates blog for your chance to win an advanced reading copy of EVERMORE among many other cool prizes!

So what about you? Which TV shows are you looking forward to?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mark it Up!

So, add this to the BRILLIANT IDEAS file:

The good people over at Shooting Stars Magazine and The Page Flipper are hosting an auction to benefit First Book, an organization that provides books for children from low income families, and I'm thrilled to be part of it!

I'll be donating a marked up copy of SAVING ZOE (see above) stuffed with all sorts of post it notes, little known facts, a few odd asides, a notation or two (or five or six), the story behind the story, and more (lots more!).

Tons of authors will be participating, and the auction will run from Oct-Dec, which is just in time to start buying those holiday gifts, no?

So start saving those pennies now-- it's all for a wonderful cause!

I'll post more info as I get it!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Save the date!!

Hey Everyone-

Just wanted you to know I'll be signing copies of my books on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008, at 6:30 P.M. at:

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
26751 Aliso Creek Road
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Win a copy of CRUEL SUMMER!

To celebrate the release of her debut novel, SUCKS TO BE ME, Kimberly Pauley is having one heck of  a blog party-- and, as it happens, today she is giving away a copy of CRUEL SUMMER!

For your chance to win-- click HERE!

Happy Labor Day everyone!