So, at this stop on the blog tour, I get to share a little bit about myself. I started writing for teen magazines like Seventeen and Teen in my 20's - when I was close to my teenage years. Now that I'm far from my teenage years, I still write books about teenagers. I just love how that period of life is so crucial to who we are and who we become.
My first novel, Fingerprints, is loosely based on my own life. When I was a teenager, my mother remarried. Shortly after, my stepbrother and stepsister moved in with me, my mom, my stepfather and my biological brother. It was nuts. Let's just say that our household was anything but harmonious.
The first story I ever sold to Seventeen, the StepPeople, was about our struggle to "blend" our families.Years later, I realized I could help other families figure out how to merge by writing a novel about our experiences. But I needed another storyline.
Thankfully, my past provided more inspiration. Around the same time my mother remarried, I had started dating a guy who was verbally and physically abusive.
The two stories work so well together because the StepPeople scenes are hilarious. (We still recount those stories around the dinner table.) The comedy in Fingerprints balances the dark subject matter of abuse. So, while the reader may become aware of dating abuse red flags and warning signs, they don't feel horribly depressed as they read.
Savanna is the main character in Fingerprints. She has two best friends, Tally and Jane. So it only made sense to tell Tally's story next. Tally is sort of a forgotten child, left behind by two wealthy parents who are more concerned with their social lives than with their daughter.
Tally drinks. A lot. (They all do. So, if partying teenagers make you uncomfortable, these are not the books for you.) In her effort to be cool and "fine" through her desperate loneliness, Tally dances. At first, it's hip hop. Sexy, grinding hip hop. Usually on her stage of a kitchen island during one of her massive summer bashes. But when she ends up humiliated beyond her imagination, she goes back to her roots and seeks the structure and discipline of ballet.
I've just started writing Jane's story. Which I'm not going to spoil here. But I will tell you that the goal is to once again balance darkness with humor and hope.
We'll see how that goes.
Meanwhile, this Friday, two lucky commenters will be chosen to receive a free copy of one of my books. So, please comment for a chance to win!
As for the next stop on the Worldwide Blog Tour, I've got something for everyone. Next Monday, August 4, visit these fine authors to learn what they're up to!
Kelly Polark, author of two picture books, Rockabet and Hold the Mustard, a middle grade novel, Rock and Roll Princesses Wear Black and most recently, a non-fiction picture book, Words on Birds.
I recently injured my back. It kind of exploded, actually. Without warning, it went into crazy spasms. The pain was so intense that I couldn't move. I'd never felt pain like that. I didn't even know people could feel that kind of pain.
At the hospital, I was prescribed prednisone, muscle relaxants and pain killers. For two weeks, I was high. But I still couldn't move. I couldn't drive. I couldn't sit up for any length of time. I spent most of my time on my back crying. I'd figured out that a traumatic experience had triggered the event, but I didn't know what to do about it. I called the doctor and asked for help. But they told me the treatment was the steriods and pain killers.
My friends had been driving me to a trusted chiropractor who was helping me do physical therapy. Slowly, I started to move a bit.
After about six weeks, for the first time (other than doctor visits), I went out. I met with my critique group. The first hug sent me spiraling into tears. And one of my fellow writers said she knew a therapist who specialized in healing trauma.
I started seeing that therapist. She gave me a surge of hope. I then met with a chinese herbalist who mashed up a brew of herbs that controlled the crying, anxiety and stress and minimized the inflammation. Next, I visited a neuromuscular re-education massage therapist who's been working every muscle in my body every week since. Seeking some more hope, I got a psychic reading. Then I had my chakras and energy cleansed by a reiki master. Just a few days ago, I had my first rehabilitative Pilates lesson. I couldn't do much of a workout yet, but we did identify the areas we really need to work on.
I still can't sit up for long periods of time. But I can walk. I can do the dishes and I can drive. I'm not crying all day every day anymore. I have hope.
But what if I had stayed with the doctor's plan of prednisone and pain killers? What if I hadn't tried multiple types of therapies? Where would I be?
How do you feel about alternative healing? What types of nontraditional healing have you tried? How did it work out for you?
When I was younger, I loved scary movies. I still remember the night in 1984 when my BFF and I held onto each other screaming through The Exorcist. Throughout my teens, I loved the suspense of Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and every other spine tingling, terror inducing horror flick I could watch.
Now that I'm older, you couldn't pay me to watch that stuff. The real world is scary enough. Why would I want to add to it?
Last night, I saw a trailer for Into the Storm. I've never seen a tornado and I never want to. In fact, I'll take an earthquake over a tornado any day.
What about you? How do you feel about scary movies?
When I began drafting Fingerprints, one of my critique group members, Sarah, pointed out that I had used the word "bolt" 67 times.
After doing a "find" in Word, I discovered Sarah was right! My MC, Savanna, had bolted out of bed, down the hall, across the street, out of David's house, into the salon, into the ocean and about 100 million other places.
Since then, I've learned to use my thesaurus and choose my verbs very carefully.
This morning, I followed behind as a counselor led a group of little day-camper boys toward the bathrooms. As I maneuvered around them on my beach walk, I overheard him drop some serious wisdom on those kids.
"You take the first letter of your name and add 'eezy' or 'izzle' to it. Like your name is Brian, so you'd be "Beezy," the camp counselor said.
"Awesome!"said a little voice.
"And you, Will, you'd be Wizzle."
Wizzle said, "Cool!"
"What about me?" Another little voice asked. "Would I be Nizzle?"
I recently published a YA novel, Fingerprints. As a result, I was asked to write an article about my all time, top 10 favorite YA books for a parenting website.
Sounds like an easy task at first, but once I started thinking about it, I realized that weeding out thousands of books to identify my top 10 would be no easy task. I mean, how can I compare a blockbuster award winner like Looking for Alaska to a lesser known and seriously gritty favorite like Amy Reed's Beautiful?
How can I include the beach read fun of Gossip Girl (You know you love her.) on the same list as a haunting classic like Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes?
Then I thought, "Whatever. It's my list."
So, what book or books would you put on an all time favorite list and why?
PS - Yes, that is one of my bookshelves. And yes, I may be the biggest Sarah Dessen fan alive.
I've been cheating on you. Posting on another blog. Working on another project. Dialing in the questions. Until a couple weeks ago, when I decided maybe it was time to stop with the questions.
I recently launched Fantasydatinggame.com, a dating game designed to empower women to build confidence, take chances and find love. It works like other Fantasy Sports, in that players create leagues, set stakes and compete against each other to earn points. Then they earn points by exchanging number, receiving call and texts and going on dates.
The competition takes the desperation out of dating and replaces it with fun. Before they know it, women who considered themselves "too shy" are getting their game on everywhere they go. That means incorporating Fantasy Dating into their everyday lives by smiling and saying, "Hi," to potential dates at the supermarket, the dry cleaners and the carwash.
Here's how it works:
Pretty cool, huh? You know what's even cooler? This infographic was created by Adrienne Saldivar. And if you've been hanging around my blog for the last few years, you definitely know Adrienne and The Storyboard.
I've admired her amazing artwork since the first time I giggled at one of her comments and hopped through the blogosphere over to her blog. And I'm thrilled that we now get to work together!
Adrienne also created the guy and girl on Fantasy Dating's homepage. So, please come on over and take a look at my new website. I'd love for my bloggy friends to comment on the Fantasy Dating blog. There will be lots of questions to answer (and not just about dating - about life too) at my new pad.
Meanwhile, I ask one more question. What supercool connections have you made through the Blogosphere?