Confessions of a tech weenie

A friend of my built my first house website. I absolutely love it. But it’s been  languishing for months. Years, in fact. The paint is peeling and the windows could use a wash.

Since I love wordpress for blogging, I made the decision to create my website here too. Soon. First I needed to 1)pick a template, 2)learn how to customize it, 3)purchase a font kit, 4)figure out how to transfer my domain, my domain email, etc.

Step one: choosing a template. There are literally thousands of templates online. After narrowing it down to a dozen contenders, I learned that only works with the ones they provide. So I picked one. Then I noticed a button called activate and clicked on it.

Big mistake. The new template “activated” on my blog, deleting all the customized images I’d uploaded. Everything was lost.

But rather than panic, I started creating my new website out of the ashes of my blog.

Instead of launching a beautiful website like I planned, what you see is a work-in-progress.

In the next few weeks, I’ll just slap on some paint new fonts, add new rooms pages as needed, and it will be as good as new.

But first, I need a tutorial on CSS. Ack!

Categories: Real Life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

My book has a cover!

Meet Erin. Smart student, great daughter, better friend. Secretly the mastermind behind the popular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. Totally unaware that her carefully constructed life is about to get crazy.

It all begins when her ex-best friend sends a letter to her blog—and then acts on her advice. Erin’s efforts to undo the mess will plunge her into adventure, minor felonies, and possibly her very first romance.

What’s a likely fortune for someone no longer completely in control of her fate? Hopefully nothing like: You will become a crispy noodle in the salad of life.

Categories: Miss Fortune Cookie | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Bad boys vs. Nice guys (please vote)

One day, I was eavesdropping in the courtyard of a little hotel in Bangkok where I stayed for a month while my sexy-geek husband studied parasites at a local hospital.

girl 1: He’s not too nice if you know what I mean.

girl 2: That’s the way I like them. Bad boys. Ha ha.

me: ????

Which brings me to confession–as usual, I feel out of step with popular culture. I actually like nice guys. And I’d rather not save my man from himself.

Yes, I found Jordan in My-So-Called Life swoon-worthy. But his behavior eventually wore on my one last nerve. In the last episode, I got furious with Angela for jumping in his car after Brian admitted writing the love letter, the most beautiful love letter of all time, imo.

But I can’t write a love interest that doesn’t appeal to me, leaving me only one option. Roll with it. That’s why Roz’s love interest in My Invented Life has bangs half covering his face, stammers, and flirts by throwing pillows. But he also cut a picture of Roz from the newspaper and tacked it up in his room. Romantic? I think so.

I adore geeks, and one of the two love interests in my latest novel Miss Fortune Cookie (fall 2012) totally fits into the category. When I describe him as a Filipino-American Legolas, the copy-editor wrote a note in the margin, “Is he supposed to be attractive?”

Um. Yes?

In my current WIP, I am experimenting with a bad boy love interest. He shop-lifts, cuts school, and has a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas because of his dead-beat dad. But guess what? he’s turning out to be NICE underneath. Arrrgh!

So I need to know if there is a fervent minority like me.


Or him?

Please vote in the comments.

Categories: Miss Fortune Cookie | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Thanksgiving never ends for me

I am
grateful for
heat from the sun
the  way my cat’s tail curls,
cool, clean water from the faucet
a car that hasn’t broken down yet
family, friends, generous people
my son performing in a play
clawfoot bathtubs
mountain air
and fun
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Librarian superhero unleashed

Welcome to LIBRARIAN SUPERHEROES–modest defenders of books
Meet Rebecca Donnelly, Youth Services Librarian in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
I caught up with Rebecca minutes after she completed a dangerous mission, and asked her a few questions.
Flying vs. Invisibility?
Invisibility–I would be a klutzy fly girl.
Can you share a story of a librarian encounter from your childhood?
I have always hoped no one would ever ask me this question, because I don’t have any. I was a keep-to-myself kind of reader, and the greatest influence on my book choices was probably my grandmother. But I vividly remember the children’s room (house, really) at my childhood library. They had bought the house next door to the Carnegie library building and turned it into the children’s area, and a raised hallway was constructed to connect the two buildings. So going from children’s to adult was literally a passage. Not that I thought that poetically back then.
What is the best part of being a librarian?
Best part of the invisible side of the job = collection development. I love buying books for the library! There is great satisfaction in building a really good collection and seeing it get used. Best part of the public side of the job = reader’s advisory. Giving a child or teen the right book is a very special thing.
The worst?
The bureaucracy and inflexibility that comes with any government job.
What is on your TBR right now?
It’s a nice stack of middle-grade mysteries (Seventh Level by Jody Feldman; The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett; The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder) and a book about mystery writing; Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James. Also a book on alchemists; Perdido Street Station by China Mieville; Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (which I’m halfway through), and Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen (about a fifth of the way through). I’m also listening to The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai.
If you could say one thing to your patrons, what would it be?
You have more time to read than you think you do!
What books, in your opinion, still need to be written?
This is a tough one. I mean, there is almost every kind of book you could think of in YA right now. Jewish lesbian hip-hop in suburban Minnesota? Check. (Sister Mischief by Laura Goode.) Talll tales of Filipino-British basketball players? Check. (Tall Story by Candy Gourlay.) Stories of transgender teens (I am J by Cris Beam), hard-hitting stories about eating disorders, drug abuse, abusive families–these are the things we tend to think of when we consider what needs to be written. We all want books that speak to readers who are often ignored in mainstream culture, or who want a book that says that they’re not alone. This stuff is there, and I think the real challenge is getting it to the readers. Kids don’t come up to me and say, I want a book about one-legged jerks, bullying, self-hatred, and maybe a swim team, and at the end of it I want to cry. I have that book: Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher.
What is flying off the teen shelves of your library right now?
In addition to the things you’d expect to be popular (the Maximum Ride series, the House of Night series, Alyson Noel’s The Immortals series), I’ve seen D.M. Cornish’s The Foundling’s Take (formerly Monster Blood Tattoo) series go out often, and Eva Ibbotson’s recently repackaged-for-teens historical novels, like The Reluctant Heiress. And manga, lots of manga. Chibi Vampire, Vampire Knight, Fruits Basket, Antique Bakery.   
I definitely want to check out a lot of these books.
Thanks for appearing on my blog, Rebecca!
Categories: Librarian Superheroes | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teens spread love in the face of hate at Taos Pride

I wish I’d brought my camera with me.

Gay Pride in Taos in KCP was a colorful event–dogs in bright sweaters, a drag queen with a full length rainbow boa, and happy dancers on the grass. I went to catch up with friends and listen to the music. My son’s didn’t really want to go with me until they found out there would be extreme religious protesters present. Maybe they could do a sneak attack with squirt guns? My husband suggested water balloons with rainbow paint inside.


When we got to the event, though, the reality of the protesters was way too intimidating. They had congregated at one end of the park, wearing matching hats and T-shirts, yelling disgusting and hostile things through their mega-phones. Police were present. Anyone coming in or out of the park had to walk right by them.


That’s when I noticed three teen boys holding up hand-made signs, welcoming people who dared to cross the line of hate. I don’t remember what the signs said (and didn’t have my camera!), but the messages were all about love and acceptance. Inspired by this, my sons went home with their friends to create a sign of their own–Jesus Proclaimeth That Hate Achieves Nothing.

Categories: My Invented Life, Real Life | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How to alienate your family

Have you ever wondered what happens when a writer models a character in her bestselling novel on a family member? I’d imagine it goes something like this:

Yeah, Dad, you’re right. The dad in my book flies model airplanes like you do, has a mustache that twirls up at the ends like yours, and trekked across Tibet in his youth like you did, but my fictional dad is a jerk, which you are NOT. He totally isn’t you, okay?

I wrote about this today at YA Outside the Lines. You can read the whole post here.

Categories: My Invented Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Scholarship for 15 to 19 year olds!

I wrote this novel called My Invented Life because I wanted to. It turns out that the novel-I-wanted-to-write encouraged acceptance of lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people. Go figure.

In any case, have you done anything that encourages acceptance? I bet you have!!!

There’s a great opportunity to win a scholarship from Shooting Star Mags if you have. I’m too old *sniff*, but if you’re 15 – 19, you might want to give it a look.

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researching on youtube

Youtube is a great place to spend a lot of time do research for a novel. Just the other day, I needed a song for Erin in Miss Fortune Cookie–something slightly embarrassing for her to sing when she thinks she’s alone (but isn’t). Mwaahaahaa. I spent a very enjoyable hour, and added a whole dozen words to my manuscript. Very productive!

Not exactly.

But Nrrd Grrl by MC Chris totally cracked me up. I want to write about her. She’s perfect.

Categories: Miss Fortune Cookie | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The answer to paranormal overload

I asked a Maria, a fabulous librarian blogger, to write a guest post about her favorite contemporary YA novels. Read on!

Reading contemporary fiction is a fairly recent thing for me; my reading has always skewed towards fantasy, except for my great love of the Baby-Sitters Club and Judy Blume books. But, there are only so many books about vampires, werewolves and other assorted paranormal creatures a person can read before they need a break. Contemporary fiction is the perfect antidote to what I like to call “paranormal overload.”  All of the books on this list were published in the past three years and can be easily found at your local bookstore or library.

A very recent favorite is Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, in which Audrey breaks up with her boyfriend, he writes a song about their breakup, that song rockets up the charts as it becomes super popular. It’s ultimately about the fallout of sudden fame and what happens to Audrey, her friends and family. Filled with music and extremely funny moments, it was hard to put down. I found myself wanting to jump into the book just so I could be friends with Audrey, James, Jonah and Victoria. Audrey, Wait! is just such a fun book; I dare you not to smile at least once while reading.

For a double dose of music, I would pair Audrey, Wait! with Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron. A much more quiet book than Audrey, Wait!, Jon Skovron still packs a punch with Sammy, Jen5 and the stress of rehearsing for the “Battle of the Bands.” Throw in a grandfather-grandson relationship and the hope that a friendship could be more, and you’ve got a great, funny yet poignant story. I wonder what would happen if Audrey and Sammy ever met.

Who resist the call of a trip to the beach? Especially during the summer and when it comes with a pair of brothers like Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher. The Summer Trilogy by Jenny Han (The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, We’ll Always Have Summer) is Belly’s story, from awkward little sister with a huge crush on Conrad to something more. What I love about these books is that Belly is instantly relatable, she could easily be your sister or best friend, someone you could giggle over guys with, just don’t go after Conrad or Jeremiah and everything will be great. Jenny Han has created such great characters, that it’s so easy to imagine that you’re at Cousins Beach with them. I’ve included the third book here, even though I haven’t read it, because I can’t imagine that it would be any less wonderful than the first two.

Another book that’s set, at least in part, at the beach is Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. This time the reader travels to Zanzibar Bay, California with Anna and her best friend Frankie. Both of them are grieving the sudden death of Frankie’s brother Matt. What Frankie doesn’t know is that Anna and Matt had started dating before he died. Twenty Boy Summer is an emotional roller coaster of a book, it tore at my heart in a way no book has done before. I wanted to hug Anna several times as I was reading and I wanted to tell Frankie to grow up, plus I cried – several times. A book that elicits those types of reactions from a reader needs to be shared.

This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one John Green book. In my opinion he is the king of contemporary YA. And while I’ve liked all of the John Green books I’ve read, Looking for Alaska holds a special place because it was my first John Green experience. Set at a boarding school, it’s the story of Miles who is looking for the “Great Perhaps.” At his new school, Miles finds friends for the first time and meets Alaska Young, who will change his life in ways he never thought possible. I love that anyone who reads Looking for Alaska can put themselves in Miles’ place. He’s a character that a lot of people can relate to. The key to this book is that John Green knows how to write characters that are so real it feels like you could meet any one of them in your own life. I would pair his books with books by Maureen Johnson, Rachel Cohn, Elizabeth Scott and Jessica Warman.

I’m sure there are lots of authors and books that I forgot to mention. So, what are some of your favorite contemporary reads?


For more great reviews, visit Maria’s blog, The Serpentine Library.

Categories: Real Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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