The Surprising Taste of Change (and NYC)

Did you know that if you rub essential peppermint oil on the soft middle of the bottom of your foot that you will eventually taste that peppermint in your mouth?
This was news to me. I heard this random tidbit in yoga class, and while I haven’t tried it yet, I keep thinking about that unexpected, surprising minty sensation (and also wondered if they make chocolate peanut butter essential oils).

 Emack Bolio's ice cream cones_opt

Surprising cereal and marshmallow coated cones at Emack & Bolio’s, New York City

2014 was a big year of change here at my house. Everything seemed to challenge my role in Life As I Knew It. My kids moved out, my mom got sick (thankfully she is better). Most of the change, like my kids moving out, I expected, even planned for, imagined. I knew there would be sadness, excitement, new freedoms and the like. But what I didn’t expect was to find myself constantly questioning my purpose the moment my kids left.

 

my kids

 Together at 2nd Ave Deli in NYC. 

For so many years, my family has been my priority. Everything else I did was “just work”.

It's only a play 2_opt

  Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, NYC

Sure that work was important, necessary, enjoyable, etc., but never assigned the significance of what I did for my family.

So this new questioning, it’s a strange taste, and it’s got me feeling pretty damn insecure.

central park rainy day_opt

 

 A misty Central Park, NYC

In many ways I feel like a teenager again. New independence, lots of insecurity, and even more indecision, but then there’s also an excitement that I can fill and assign priority to these wide open spaces however I see fit.

And sometimes that unexpected result is something sweet. I had no idea that the research I would do on art and doodling for my character Grace Callahan in my young adult book, The Art of Chasing Normal, would lead to my own drawing finding a way into a really awesome art book.

In the key of doodle north light books_opt

 North Light has tons of really fun and inspirational art books. Check it out!

With change, though, there’s a lot of heart work to do. I’m figuring it out, and I know there will be more strange and unexpected minty sensations along the way.

But for me, it helps to believe, that even when we feel vulnerable and stripped to the bone, there’s still something strong and fierce (in the best possible way) inside of  us.

T Rex AMNH NYC_opt

 American Museum of Natural History, New York City

Wishing you the best for 2015!

HAPPY NEW YEAR,

Jump at the Sun and Reach for the (Pie in the) Sky

jump at the sun quote_opt

 

For the most part, I am a feet-on-the-ground and Thanksgiving-at-home kind of girl, but I have to admit that opportunities can arise that call for some “jumping at the sun” time.

grand canyon ledge_opt

 This is a little too close to the sun if you ask me.

That’s some of my family at the Grand Canyon.  We broke from our routines and typical Thanksgiving traditions and flew with my husband’s family to Las Vegas.

From there we took a day trip to the canyon.

grand canyon jump_opt

 Jumping at the sun.

 

We all had a fun, and very uplifting time.

 

Expanding comfort zones on the Las Vegas zip line.

 

Yeah, that’s me up there.  Totally exhilarating.

Okay, so I have to admit that as I stepped on that platform, I considered the expertise of the kids trussing me up like a turkey and hooking me to that line, but I put that fear aside.  And I’d do it again.

Comfort zone . . . what’s that?  Waistbands weren’t the only things stretched this Thanksgiving holiday.

Although there was plenty of that too.

Finding pie in the sky is a tasty bonus.

 

Okay so I missed my usual Thanksgiving festivities like the parade and my mom’s turnip mashed potatoes.  And leaping from a platform that’s almost 7o feet in the air?  Well, that was a stretch for me (if you don’t believe me, check out my post on flying).

But, new experiences offer growth, confidence and in the case of a writer, research!  Plus, new stuff can offer a deeper appreciation for your regular routine and traditions.

Of course, some new things aren’t difficult at all . . .

That’s a TV and a bath tub.  Together.  What?

I hope you get the chance to try something new and awesome this week!

 

 

What new opportunities are within your reach?  Do you struggle with stretching your comfort zone?  Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon, or on a zip line?  

Tell me, I love it when you comment!

Have a great week!

Reader Paparazzi: An Interview with a YA Book Reviewer

It’s Reader Paparazzi time.

 

YA readers interview

It’s research, not stalking.

Reader Paparazzi is my Q & A series spotlighting YA readers (if you missed any previous interviews, click here or on the tab in the header above).  I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration, or to learn what holds a teen’s interest, or simply find a new book to read.

But it’s not only teens reading Young Adult novels.  The popularity of YA spans the generations.  Wikipedia says the typical age range is from ten to twenty-five, but I know plenty of adults are reading it.  Plus, the categories of New Adult or Upper YA throw off the typical range also.

More than half of the eighty books I’ve read this year have been YA.  Although I guess I don’t count since I also write YA–and because I’m just barely over twenty-five.

🙂

Anyhoo, today I bring you an interview with a college student.  Ancient, I know.  But Amanda is a prolific YA reader.  She blogs about the books she reads over at her site Born Bookish.  Check it out.  You can find great reviews and segments like Breathtaking Book Covers and Wordlover Wednesday.

 

 

A big Reader Paparazzi hello to Amanda!

Amanda, what book are you reading right now?

You actually caught me in-between books! I started The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore a couple of months ago but have been so busy with review books I haven’t been able to finish it. Next up, is Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday.

 

the rise of nine

I am a fan of The Number Four series! Of course, every time I go to your blog, I find new titles for my to-read pile!

Okay, now let’s get serious.  What did you eat for dinner last night?

Macaroni & Cheese. Not the kind out of a box, I actually went out to eat and got fancy schmancy Mac & Cheese.

 

Yum!  What was your favorite book when you were younger?

I can only pick one? Wow, that’s hard. I’m going to go with Abby: South Sea Adventures series by Pamela Walls.

 

What do you hope you will be doing five years from now?

I hope that I will have a job in the field of Graphic Design, one that I will enjoy doing everyday.

 

What are you most looking forward to right now?

My trip to London that I’ll be taking over Winter Break!

 

Sounds amazing.  London is definitely on my bucket list. 

What would you like to learn how to do—that you don’t know how to do?

So many things . . . American Sign Language is something I’ve always wanted to learn–and how to play violin.

 

What fictional character would you most like to meet and why?

I have to think about this one for a minute . . . Cammie Morgan from the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter because she is a spy, and what girl didn’t dream of being a spy when she was little?!

 

out of sight out of time

 

Yes, but all that intrigue can make a spy girl hungry!

So back to food.  What is your favorite comfort food?

Chicken and stuffing

 

Top 3 songs playing on your iPod?

Small Bump- Ed Sheeran

Red- Taylor Swift

The Writer- Ellie Goulding (I just bought concert tickets for an Ellie concert tonight! I’m SO excited!)

 

You have a great blog segment on book covers—how important is the cover to you when choosing a book to read?

So important! If a book has a great cover it is pretty much guaranteed that I will at least pick it up, read the synopsis and decide from there. If I dislike a cover I won’t even bother reading the back. I know that’s horrible, but it’s the designer in me. I just can’t read a book if I hate the cover.

 

If you could Skype with anyone—who would you pick?

Does Perry the Platypus count? No? Okay. Then I would choose Taylor Swift.

 

 

Quick fire fill in the blank:

I fear: Heights

I need: Chocolate

I love: Family

I am inspired by: Nature

Favorite word from your Wordlover Wednesday series: Lollygag

As in enough of. Got it. 

Thank you Amanda!

Now, because Reader Paparazzi gets me feeling extra stalkerish and curious, tell me, what did YOU have for dinner last night?

 

I did NOT have Halloween candy for dinner.  

Have an awesome week!

 

 

 

**If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive my new posts straight to your inbox.  Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.

 

Teen Interview: It Ain’t Over Until the Perfect Troll Face Sings

 

It’s summer–schools are empty, teens are scarce–on vacation, at camp, or watching YouTube videos working summer jobs . . .

but Reader Paparazzi ~ my Q & A series featuring teen readers ~ must go on.  I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration or simply if you want to see what holds a teen’s interest.

 

what teens read interview

It’s research, not stalking.

 

If you missed any previous interviews, click here or on the tab in the header above.

For this interview, I’ve cornered a teen close to home.

Meet Gavin, or as I have a habit of calling him, “G.”

G is sixteen.  He runs cross-country and track, sings in his school’s chorus and a capella club and is famous on the internet.

Well, sort of.

Have you heard of trolling, or better yet seen this face before?

 

gav perfect troll face t-shirt_opt

G is the number one image on Google for the perfect troll face.

 

perfect troll face boy

  A face only a mother could love . . .

but it’s hard to catch him NOT making faces:

troll face collage_opt

 I’m partial to this one:

g perfect troll face smiles_opt

A big hello to G!

So G, what makes you want to pick up a book to read?

It’s got to have something I can relate to.

What are you currently reading?

Moby Dick, for school.

Anything you relate to?

I don’t know, but reading this book is becoming AHABit.

I’m not sure if I believe you, but props on the pun.

What was the last book you read that wasn’t for school?

Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard

Do you ever re-read books?

Yup.  I like to flip through the Guinness Book of World Records and the World Atlas.

What was your favorite book when you were younger?

Captain Underpants and Harry Potter

Favorite subject in school?

Spanish

Least favorite?

History

What would you like to learn how to do—that you don’t know how to do?

Learn more languages—like Swedish and German.

Okay, I received some questions from YA writers curious about teen relationships (ie dating).  What do you think is the most challenging thing about relationships?

Being yourself.

What was the last movie you saw?

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Favorite tv show or movie you can watch again and again?

The Invention of Lying

Tell me three songs you’re listening to on your iPod:

The More I See You ~ Michael Buble

The Way You Look Tonight ~ Michael Buble

Flavour ~Bare Noize

What’s your favorite snack?

Veggie straws

What did you eat for breakfast?

Nothing because I’m fasting for the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’ Av, but yesterday for breakfast I ate Frosted Cheerios.  

I’m so hungry can we please not talk about food?

Okay, no more food talk. 🙂

Some quick-fire fill in the blanks:

I fear change.

I need clarity.

I hate homework.

I love singing. 

So here’s a tiny snippet of G doing what he loves:

Thanks G!

Do you have any questions you want answered by teens in future Q & As?  Or a question for Gavin?  Let me know in the comments. 

If nothow would you answer this quick fire fill in the blank?  I need _____.  (Seeing as it’s now Monday morning, I NEED COFFEE!)

Thanks! I love it when you comment. 🙂

Have a great week!

 

It’s Research, Not Stalking: Q & A with a Teenage Writer

 

I’m excited to bring you another Reader Paparazzi post–my Q & A series featuring teens. (If you missed the others, click here or on the tab in the header above.)

I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration or simply if you want to see what holds a teen’s interest (it’s not always sparkly things).

 

teen read interview

It’s research, not stalking.

This week our real YA is 17, a rising senior and an aspiring writer!

A big HELLO to Niki!

So, NIki, what book are you reading right now?

Right now I’m in a book frenzy! Especially with summer coming up! Right now I’m reading A Song of Ice and Fire and Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin as well as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark.

 

what teens are reading

 

What makes you want to pick up a book to read?

Reading has always been my favorite hobby. I’m a writer too, so any book that will help enhance my writing is a must.

What’s your favorite class in school? What’s your toughest subject?

My favorite class is AP Art History, and my toughest subject is AP Biology.

What is your favorite thing to do after school? What is your least favorite?

My favorite thing to do is read! Especially if I’m in the middle of a really good book. Also, I love talking to my best friend. She lives in Brazil, so I never get to see her. My least favorite thing to do is homework.

If you could Skype with a famous person who would that be?

I would probably want to Skype with Emilia Clarke. She plays my favorite character in Game of Thrones.

Top three songs playing on your iPod?

The Cave- Mumford and Sons
Rainy Zurich- The Fray
Enchanted- Taylor Swift

What was the last movie you saw?

On the Waterfront

What advice would you give your parents?

Probably to trust me more. They’re really great parents, but sometimes I feel that they’re a little overprotective especially my mom.

What is your biggest fear?

To graduate from college and not be able to find a job and pay off the ridiculously expensive student loans!

What are you looking forward to most right now?

Duke Young Writers’ Camp this summer! All of my best friends are there!

What is your favorite comfort food?

Probably a tie between Sweet Frog frozen yogurt and Sour Patch candy.

And lastly, what is something you would like to learn how to do?

Oh gosh! I would probably want to learn how to speak Greek. That’s where my family is from, and it would be nice to learn how to communicate better with them.

Thanks for stopping by Niki! It was great to get to know you better.

Thank you so much for interviewing me!

🙂

Do you have any questions you want answered in future Q & As?  Let me know in the comments.  

Or answer me this question: 

What do you still want to learn how to do?

 

 

YA Interview: A Teen Talks Books & Liam Payne

 

Since I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teenagers, I thought it might be nice to get a little perspective from the real world.

I decided it could be fun to interview readers.  Specifically teen (and tween) readers.  

 

teen interview series

 It’s research, not stalking.

 

So a big hello to Lydia.

Lydia is 16, plays piano, dives competitively and is on her school’s gymnastic team.  Would you believe she made me do a round off dismount off the balance beam before answering any of my questions?

I didn’t think so.

 

 

 Lydia also has an infectious laugh to go with that smile.

 

What book are you reading for school right now?

A book of my choice: Reviving Ophelia

What was the last book you read for fun?

The last Hunger Games book–Mockingjay.

So I have to ask . . . Peeta or Gail?  Peeta.

Okay so besides Peeta, what makes you keep reading a book?

When I get really into a book and forget about other things that are going on around me.

Reader Zen!

What was your favorite book when you were younger?

Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes.

What is your favorite thing to do after school?  Least favorite?

My favorite is watch TV or go running, least is homework.

What did you eat for breakfast today?

Krave cereal

Chocolate cereal.  Yup, it’s a fave in our house too.

Top three songs playing on your iPod?

More than this-One direction

Crash Into Me-Dave Matthews Band

Country Girl-Luke Bryan

What was the last movie you saw?

The Vow

If you could Skype with a famous person, who would you pick?

Liam Payne from One Direction

Excuse me while I Google . . .

 

 

skype with liam payne_opt

Someone looks good in Skype mode!

 

What’s your favorite class in school?

AP US History

Are you wearing nail polish right now?

Yes, silver.

What advice would you give your parents?

None, I think they did a pretty good job with me. 

*A collective “aw” for Lydia’s parents*  🙂

And last question: What do you hope you will be doing 7 years from now?

I hope to be finished with college and finishing the professional school of my choice (Grad school, Law school, Med school, whichever I decide).

Thanks so much Lydia!

 

So dear readers, I couldn’t decide which photo to use to represent these interviews–which one do you like?

1.  Reader Paparazzi (above) 

2. The Real YA of the EC

The Real Young Adults of the East Coast

3.  The Real YAs

 

 

I’d love your opinion! And if there any questions you would like to see answered in future interviews for YA/MG readers, let me know!