The Boss! Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"

The Boss! My favorite Christmas song of all. Yes, I will post this every year.

Jingle Bells--New Lyrics!

Jingle Credit Card Bills

Dashing through the store,
Credit card in hand,
Heading for the toys,
Last Star Wars in land.

Knock some ladies down,
Do it with great cheer,
You snooze, you lose, you've got to cruise,
Christmas Day is near.


Jingle bells, credit bills,
Ca-ching-ching all the way,
O what fun it is to buy
When you don't
Really have to pay.

Jingle bells, credit bills,
Ca-ching-ching all the way,
O what fun it is to buy
When you don't
Really have to pay.

Student Trailer for Violet Raines!

I stumbled across this very nice trailer by a student, posted by "mrsbwimmer" from an elementary school. Kudos and thank you! (There is a brief ad in the beginning.)

In the Twinkling

And today, a flash fiction for you.

In the Twinkling

When he’s done whacking us, our old man leans across our bed, his tattooed arms stretching out like spider legs. “Next time’ll be worse.” He straightens up and clenches his fists, daring us to make a sound. Don’t matter. Me and my brother agreed a long time ago we wouldn’t cry. Not in front of him, anyways.

He kicks our bed with his cowboy boot and stomps downstairs. We don’t move. I know my brother’s crying ’cause I hear him sniff, but he don’t say nothing.

“You okay?” I ask. It hurts to turn my head, but I need to look at my brother’s face. His right eye’s swollen; going to be hard to hide that tomorrow. Probably have to skip school till it heals ’cause he told us if they find out, they’ll put us in foster homes and we’ll never see each other again.

“I’m okay.” He closes his eyes and tears squeeze out.

Another thing we agreed on is we don’t call him Dad, even though he is. Mom never woke up after one of their parties and we buried her a few days later.

I try to take a full breath but something stabs my insides.

The screen door slaps against the frame. Voices float up with the smoke, and we hear the crack of beer cans. Music rattles the window. The walls vibrate. I struggle up from the bed, careful not shake my brother, and look out the window. Bunch of old cars in the driveway, another party, more people coming and him outside talking. He drops a beer can and crushes it with his boot. Then, like he knew I was there, he looks up and turns his eyes right on me.

My heart slams against my chest and I drop into bed. My brother groans. Something sharp hurts me inside and I hold myself trying to make it go away but then he’s there, in our doorway, his body bowed and tight like a coyote. He takes the room in two steps, grabs me up and slams me against the wall beside my brother. Pulling the back of our hair, he pounds our faces into the wall because we wouldn’t listen, that’s all he wanted, was it that hard to listen, you stupid bastards. He stops for a moment, but when we slide down, he clutches our throats and shakes us, throws us on the floor. His boot hammers my head, finding the soft spots. I stretch out my hand for my brother.

And then, like I been holding my breath too long underwater, I burst out and I am free. Light shoots from my fingertips. My brother is beside me, golden and beautiful. He throws his head back and laughs and his mouth is filled with light.

I wipe my eyes. Instead of tears, little white flames cling to my fingers. I gently blow them like dandelions and they float around us, feathers of light, twinkling with brightness.

The Untimely Demise of Wilbur, the Pig from Charlotte's Web

I once entered a little contest for which the prompt was to write an obituary for a famous literary character. Word limit: seventy-five words. Here's my entry, coming in just under the line at seventy-four words:

Wilbur, one terrific pig, has died. He was slaughtered--a case of mistaken identity. Wilbur is survived by Charlotte's grandchildren, some sheep, a goose, and a rat. Uncle Homer expresses his sympathy to all Wilbur's friends for the sorriest mistake he ever did make. Folks wanting to pay their respects are invited to the viewing and reception at Uncle Homer's house Sunday afternoon. One terrific ham will be served, along with all the trimmings.

Three Column Conversion!

Yay! I successfully converted my two-column blog into a three column blog. Tweaks are still needed, though--I've having all kinds of trouble with the header. I'm calling it a night. I must watch my recording of America's Next Top Model.

I'm on Twitter!

OMG! I'm twittering: @danettehaworth.

U2 Concert!

U2 in the house!

Last month, I went to see U2 LIVE! They brought the house down; Raymond James Stadium in Tampa will never be the same. The stage ensemble, known as the spaceship or the claw, was massive, the effects spectacular, and the concert only established what I already knew--U2 is the world's greatest rock band. Please notice: my ticket actually reads I M Fan.

Wait till you see the pictures--wait! Don't go yet! You will not believe how close our seats were! I could see Bono's eyebrows even without my binoculars! I could see so well that I saw Larry come to the stage and I yelled at my husband to get Larry on video.

"No one's even out yet," my husband said.

"Turn it on!" I didn't have time to tell him how right I was.

Then the spotlight grew brighter and the stage smokier and the beat of Larry's drums filled the air. Yeah! Larry! I remembered how Larry has carpal tunnel syndrome and gets specially made drumsticks because banging the drums is painful for him, he's been dealing with it for years--but no time to dwell on that, sorry Larry! because Edge appeared in a spotlight, then Adam, then BONO, then all HE!! broke loose and the screaming began! My husband doesn't scream, and there were no other women by me, so I had to do all the screaming for my section. Let me just say for the record, we were well-represented.

Here, for your pleasure, are just a few of the hundred or so photos I took of the concert. I hope you enjoy them!

These first two are from videos:

This bridge spanned the gap from the stage to the catwalk. A sea of hands stretched upwards, trying to reach Bono as he sang "Beautiful Day."
This photo is my favorite.

Check Out My New Website!

Same old address, brand new website! Please check it out!

Click here to go Danette Haworth.

I'd be grateful to hear any comments, especially if you encounter glitches of any sort. Hope to see you there!

Feeling Groovy today

"Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers-it's been stuck in my head all morning, the same two lines--O, black water, keep on rolling/ Mississippi moon won't you keep on shining on me. Yes, I should have guessed the name by that, and I did! After I googled the words, that is.

I give you the video now, so you may listen and get the song stuck in your head. Pay it forward!

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets to Appear on Cover of Publisher's Catalog!

My editor just sent me an email with this wonderful news:

Our Marketing department was so enamored of the Moonlight Secrets cover that they have decided that it will be gracing the cover of our Spring 2010 catalog! . . . Every bookseller around the country gets a copy of our catalog and Moonlight Secrets is the first thing they will see when they pick it up.

WOW! This day just keeps getting better and better!

Here's the Cover for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets!

I'm thrilled to present to you the cover for my new book, The Summer of Moonlight Secrets. Brandon Dorman illustrated the cover. Isn't it awesome! I know that's kind of like saying, Isn't my child cute? but I can't help it! I'm awed by the magnitude of his gift. I hope you like it too!

Random Stuff on U2 and Copy Edits

U2 played Friday to more than 70,000 fans in Tampa, and I was one of them! You would not believe how close our seats were! I'll post photos later.

By the way, U2 fans, there are more than ten U2 references woven into the previous post--did you find them all?

Copy edits: French toast, French fries, but plaster of paris. Who knew?

It's a Beautiful Day! I'm going to see U2!

It's a beautiful day and I'm going to see U2--or maybe it's a beautiful day because I'm going to see U2.

Boy, am I excited! We bought our tickets as soon as Internet pre-sales opened months ago. Farthest away ticket--$75! We're talking a huge, outdoor arena in Tampa--you know, elevation so high you could get vertigo, don't get too close to the edge--look out! So the sweetest thing my husband did was take over the ticket buying. Now we have good seats. Don't ask me how much they cost.

Even so, this day in October will be out of control! I can't wait to see Bono! I'll probably have to use binoculars or look at those huge screens; some people think that's even better than the real thing because you can see their faces, but I prefer to watch the specks on stage because they are the real thing.

We don't have a GPS, so we'll use the old map. But parts of it are tiny, where the streets have no name. Guess if we get lost, we'll have to walk on. Hubby will navigate; I will follow.

I cannot wait!

Bono! I'm wearing my purple shirt!

The Comma: A Small but Mighty Foe

I've decided that I hate commas.

They don't know what they want. They're neither left nor right; they're ubiquitous. That is their power.

They used to precede the word too at the end of a sentence, but they've slacked off; the contemporary comma no longer sets off too and sometimes not even either.

Introductory phrase? Set it off with a comma! she barks. But wait! Look at the small print: introductory phrases are usually followed by a comma, if a pause is intended. Short introductory phrases don't require a comma.

She pounds her fist on the table. Subjective!

Oh no! Oh, no! Both correct!

I'm in copyedit mode. When I did this for Violet Raines, I felt like the success or failure of the book depended on if I deleted a comma or not. But I am wiser now, more experienced.

Still . . .

I hate you, Comma!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered!

The revised manuscript for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets has been delivered and accepted! YAY! Tomorrow, I'll receive the copyedited printout to go through--this is going fast!

Also, I've seen the cover, and it is absolutely beautiful. I couldn't have asked for or even imagined a better cover. I spent a whole weekend looking at it. Thank you, Brandon Dorman!

On Making Book Trailers

I'm absolutely in love with some book trailers I've recently discovered. I'd love for you to see them! After the jump, I've posted some links to sites with good instructions for making your own book trailer, something I'm going to try for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets.

The first two trailers were created by Maggie Stiefvater. The amazing thing about Maggie's trailers is that she created the art, composed the music, and played the instruments for both videos. Even if there were no books to stand behind them, these trailers are pieces of art.

SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater YA novel

BALLAD by Maggie Stiefvater YA novel

SOME GIRLS ARE by Courtney Summers YA novel (attitude and mood!)

Here are a few links I found that have a lot of good information on how to use Windows Movie Maker, where to find photos, music, and even videos.

Author Jill Elizabeth Nelson gives step-by-step instructions in this easy to understand post.

Megan Crewe provides lots of information, including plenty of links for images and music.

Lynnette Bonner posted a series on how she made her book trailer. Scroll to the bottom to start from the beginning of the series.

Courtney Summers guest posted on Summer Friend and gave us the how-to.

Enjoy and good luck!

Quick Post on Fame and seeing Margaret Peterson Haddix

Okay, yesterday I said my goal was to see Wendy Mass, Tim Green, and Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Missed Wendy by fifteen minutes; nix on Tim Green, BUT . . .


Here's what happened:

All systems were going down.

"Mary!" I said to my Scholastic rep. "Where's that Starbucks?"

She shook her head. "It's a long way. Head down the hall. You'll feel like you're lost, but keep going and then you'll find it."

"Thank you," I said, scratching my arm and those little pricklies across my scalp.

I beat it down the hall, the whole while scanning everyone's tags for that special color that would mean they were an author, i.e. Wendy, Tim, or Margaret. No go.

I hoofed it down the hallway, around a turn, past the lobby. Must have been half a mile by now. I needed that cappuccino.

"Lady--please!" I grabbed a woman by her shirt collar. "Starbucks!"

Sympathy flooded her eyes. She pressed a dollar into my hand. "It's a long way from here. Keep going that way, then go up an escalator."

I strode through the hallway on my hard heels--yes, I know, that's supposed to be high heels, but since they weren't made for distance, they'd become hard heels. I walked through four seasons and a different time zone before coming upon the moving stairs that would take me to nirvana.

"Double shot cappuccino," I hollered at the barista, "and throw some ice cubes in it. I need it now!" I had her toss in a piece of banana bread because my trek had depleted my energy.

Do you know how long the walk back was? I drank my whole cappuccino and ate the bread before I could even see the exhibit hall.

But what about Margaret, you ask. Ah, yes. Halfway through my journey back, I noticed people exiting a darkened ballroom with the slide show still illuminated.

Aha! says I. Someone important is here.

Slipping through the door, I saw a line that took up the length of the ballroom. Like a thick rope, it coiled around the corner. Seeing the line people all facing one way, I deduced where the author was, but I could not tell who it was, for around the table, people clustered ten deep. And they were all taller than me.

"Who is it? Who is it?" I said, jumping up and down to see.

"Margaret Peterson Haddix!" someone answered.

Right then, at the apex of my jump, I swear I saw the top of her head, dark hair, maybe even an eyebrow.

I looked at that line, I thought about my booth, and then I resumed my journey.

Another day, Margaret.

Later, I'll post about those rowdy Scholastic Book Fair people, Joe's parking technique, and photos!

I had a great time!

FAME in Orlando! (In Which I am a Groupie)

Tomorrow (October 1st), I'll be part of the Scholastic group at the FAME conference (Florida Association for Media in Education) at the Marriott World Center in Orlando. I'm to sign books and chat, but my secret mission is to meet other authors whose books I've read and get a photo with them!

My short list includes Wendy Mass, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Tim Green.

I have three pairs of black pants and I can't decide which pair to wear. How can that be so hard?

In any case, stop by and say Hi! if you're there!

Lizardy Kitchen

Having lived in Florida for a while, I’ve become accustomed to the beautiful sunsets, the gorgeous weather, and the lush landscapes. But I’ve never gotten used to the sight of those lizards clinging to my window screens.

I was on the phone recently with my next-door-neighbor when I saw a tail dash under the chair I was sitting on. I shrieked into the phone and pulled my legs up.

“What is it? What’s wrong? Are you okay?” my neighbor cried.

“Oh, one of those lizards is in my kitchen!” I said.

“I had one in the house the other day, too,” she said. “I pushed him out with a broom.”

I got off the phone and returned to the scene with my broom, prancing like an elf in case he darted under my heels. He was under the table. I swiped the broom under, not far—I didn’t want to smush him, just scare him out of there. He didn’t move. I swiped again, and finally I pushed the bristles gently against him. He was an expert at playing dead. He wasn’t leaving on his own; I was going to have to remove him myself.

I took a see-through container from the cupboard and turned it upside down over him. Sliding a thin piece of cardboard under it, I now had him trapped. He was scrambling inside and leaping against the walls. I screamed all the way outside, sure he was going to escape and crawl up my arms.

I made it to the front yard and let out a loud whoop when he popped out.

Throwing her second-story window open, my neighbor from across the street leaned out.

“Are you okay?” she yelled, phone in hand, ready to dial 911.

“LIZARD!” I hollered.

She snickered, then closed her window.

They tease me now about my squeamishness and I laugh right along with them. After all, I heard one of them scream at a snake last week.

This is Funny!

Oh my gosh! Trolling on YouTube and look what I found! Too funny!

Kim Kasch and The Kasch Family Players

I spent some time on fellow writer Kim Kasch's blog today and found some great stuff!

First off, thanks for the Kreativ Blogger Award, Kim! I will try to think of seven interesting things about myself and post them next time. In the meantime, I nominate everyone in my sidebar!

Secondly, Kim posted some useful tips on MS Word here.

And best of all, Kim and her good-looking family did a great video on using voice when writing:

New Brian Regan Clip

I said I wouldn't look Brian Regan up on YouTube anymore because I prefer to be surprised when I see him in person. And yet, here we go! Funny clip, new material--Brian Regan, you reign!

Blueberry is now Moonlight Secrets!

Major big announcement:

The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness has been retitled. The book is now called The Summer of Moonlight Secrets.

After revisions (which we're in the last rounds of), it became clear that the story had taken a path different from the proposal. We loved Blueberry, but we needed something that hinted more strongly at the mood and angle of the story. The hotel is still there, and so is the blueberry goodness, but now you know there's moonlight and secrets!

New Site with Writing Contests

Hi all! Kim Zook has opened a new site called The Motherhood Muse, which is set to not only have a bunch of great tidbits, but writing contests as well--with prizes! And yes, men are welcome to submit.

Check it out!

Is this True?

So I'm perusing my Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and I come across this one. (Writers, please sit down.)

The true writer has nothing to say. What counts is the way he says it.
Alain Robbe-Grillet

I staggered about my office, flummoxed and dizzy. Yes, yes, the way we say it--voice and all that--but having nothing to say?

It's true there's nothing new under the sun, BUT not all us have had the same experiences in life. We have stories to tell, secrets to divulge, mysteries to solve. And other times, it actually is the shared experience we wish to indulge in because it helps us to identify ourselves and to know that we are not alone.

In fact, I think that's one of the most important things a writer, especially a children's writer, can convey: you are not alone. Strong, fictional characters become our friends; readers become loyal to authors who can deliver that familiarity with genuineness. When I pick up a book by one of my favorite authors, I'm instantly all nice and cozy--they're such good hosts! (Then there are my favorite mystery/suspense writers who offer something entirely different. Instead of cappuccino, they toss me a gun and then there's all that running around and stuff. Still, I like the excitement.)

So, back to the quote: The true writer has nothing to say. What do you think?

Brandon Dorman is Illustrating My New Cover!

I'm thrilled to announce that Brandon Dorman has signed on to illustrate the cover of my new book, The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness. If you've seen the cover for Savvy or The Wizard, or The Slippery Map, then you've seen Brandon's work--it's awesome!

I can't wait to see what he comes up with for Blueberry Goodness!

Hello, hello, hello!

I'm typing the last page of my new draft for The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness! Celebrate good times, come on! Woohoo! Yeah! I'll have a few days off next week and I'll be able to visit you!

In the meantime, I just saw an ad for medical subjects with this qualification: If you see/hear things that aren't real, you may qualify for studies.

How would you know if you were qualified?

To me, this is like when the dentist asks, "Do you clench your jaws when you're asleep?" I don't know--I'm asleep!

Anyway, hope all is well! See you next week!

The Funnest Interview in which I Tell You I Descend from Royalty

I am related to a Romanian prince. At least that's what my grandma always said. Shari Green interviewed me for her blog, Shari Green, and that was one of the things I told her.

Shari's interview format is fun and breezy! Come on over and I'll tell you my nickname!

Bad Hair Day at the License Bureau

This story does not begin at the Driver License Bureau. It begins a few days before that, a few days earlier when I could not stand the bangs wisping all over my eyes, covering them. I chopped them off. I exercised no finesse, thinking only that I wished to see, I wished to be free. I even chopped the sides and had my daughter cut the back.

When the hair stopped flying, I looked in the mirror. "Oh, no," I said. "Jack and the Beanstalk."

"More like Willie Wonka," my daughter said. This would be the Johnny Depp version.

In the days following, I had to use my license a couple of times at the bank, only to be reminded that it was expired. Expired? Why those incompetents at the DMV!* I renewed by mail in January! I now realized I'd never received it. After several phone calls, it came down to this: I had to go in, stand for hours in line, and replace it.

So I did. And lucky me, after I settled in for the wait, a lady said if anyone was just replacing their license, they should leave the waiting area, bypass the line, and head to the counter. WOOHOO!

Then she told me to step up to the camera. SNAP! OH NO! I'm Jack and the Beanstalk for the next six years. Of course, I decided right then and there to not get any tickets for six years. And to always pay cash.

It was later, when I was in my room, I remembered I'd once written myself a note on the back of an unopened letter, sometime in January. The note's been sitting under my curling iron since then.

I leaped up, snatched the envelope, and tore it open. There, in full glory, was my renewed license, with the old, much more presentable picture.

Oh, happy day!

*my apologies!

Day by Day Writer

Today's the last of my blog tour! Samantha Clark is hosting me on her blog Day By Day Writer.

Day By Day is definitely a blog for writers. In other posts, Samantha discusses query letters, synopses, and time-wasters. I could relate to every word.

Check it out! I know you'll enjoy her blog, and I hope you'll enjoy the interview.

Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them!

Margo Dill is one of the contributing writers for WOW! Women on Writing, and today, she's interviewed me for her blog Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them!

Come visit! Anyone leaving a comment on her blog will have their name entered into a drawing for a free copy of Violet Raines!

The Divine Miss Mommy

The Divine Miss Mommy talks about Violet Raines today. This is a cool site, reviewing products and samples; check it out!

Courtney Summers tells us How to Make a Book Trailer

Hi, everyone! Courtney Summers here. I write YA novels and my debut, Cracked Up to Be, came out late last year. When Danette asked me to do a guest-blog about book trailers for Summer Friend, I was thrilled. I've been reading her blog since the beginning and I'm a huge fan of her entries, as well as her charming and extraordinary middle grade debut, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. I hope I can do her space on the web justice and offer y'all something helpful and interesting to read at the same time!

So. Let's talk book trailers! I should say right off the bat this guest blog is not going to question their usefulness--it's going to be about how to make one yourself. My personal opinion about book trailers is that they're great and why not? There are worse things to do than, you know, use a new and exciting medium to get word out about your work!

That said, here is the book trailer I made for Cracked Up to Be:

I love book trailers. I love watching them. The unveiling of a new book trailer for an upcoming release is comparable to a cover reveal because, much like a fabulous cover, a well-executed book trailer can get a reader totally amped for a book. That's an exciting experience for author and reader alike! I'm going to take you through the process of making mine and share with you some tips and tricks I learned along the way.

Shortly after Cracked Up to Be sold (September of 2007), I immediately started thinking book trailers. I didn't want my release date to sneak up on me and have nothing to show for it (well, besides the book), so I was teaching myself the in and-outs of Windows Movie Maker (the software that came with my laptop) as early as that October. That's my first tip: don't wait to familiarize yourself with the tools that are freely available to you. Do it as soon as possible. I ended up making A LOT of mock book trailers so I knew how to take full advantage of the program when it was time for me to really start cracking. Playing around on WMM also enabled me to get a sense of how book trailers worked in terms of pacing and structure etc.

After I had the program pretty figured out, I had to decide what I wanted my book trailer to feel like, what kind of tone it would convey. Cracked Up to Be was not a light read, so I wanted to aim for something a little gritty in sound, but "clean" in look (I'm a minimalist at heart and adore white space). A book trailer is a hook; a hint of what's to come. Don't think of it as a literal interpretation of your book--think of it as a teaser, a taste.

In the case of book trailers, I'm a firm believer that shorter is better. You don't have to cram in every bit of information into one. Immediately think of the most concise and compelling way you can get the essentials of your story across. Write the script for your book trailer first. Your script will inspire the other pieces needed to complete the final produce (visuals, sound). So before I started thinking on the visuals and the sounds, I opened up notepad and made up my script.

For Cracked Up to Be's trailer, I took this plot summary from the catalogue copy (written by my wonderful editor):

Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody--be totally alone--then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.

And turned it into this:

Perfect Parker Fadley isn't perfect anymore.
She's quit the cheerleading squad
dumped her perfect boyfriend
her parents are on suicide watch
and she's failing school.
But what no one knows...
the real reason for this whole mess...
isn't something she can say out loud.
A horrible thing has happened
and it just might be her fault.

What's the worst thing you've ever done?

cracked up to be
a novel by courtney summers
coming Janury 2009 from St. Martin's Press

It seems like a lot of text, I know, but I think it translated into a book trailer pretty well. If you'll note, it's broken up into three parts: 1) plot summary 2) the hook ("what's the worst thing you've ever done?") and 3) all the must-have information (title, author, release date, author website). The great thing about scripting your book trailer is it provides you with a HUGE launching pad in terms of figuring out how you're going to do what you're going to do next. How do you want this text to look? What visuals does it inspire? What kind of music would complement it? It will also help you figure out your pacing. Pacing (next to music) is crucial.

In my case, I looked at each line as a beat. I wanted to keep a steady rhythm throughout the book trailer with appropriate pauses for emphasis, building toward the space between "and it just might be her fault" and "what's the worst thing you've ever done?" Having a general idea of what kind of pacing I wanted the book trailer to have, I started to look for music and sounds that would fit it. Music. Is. So. Important. Music will drive your book trailer like nothing else and it will really give your audience an idea of how your book might make them feel to read it.

Getting permission for music or finding free/license free music is crucial--and not as difficult as you might think. In my case, I used a song that fit my end goals (it had a steady rhythm and great beats I could take advantage of) by Brad Sucks. He's a talented, Canadian based musician who encourages people to use his music in their projects for free.

When it comes to finding free/easily licensed music, there are many options out there. Google is your best friend. Look into Creative Commons licensing. Check out The Free Music Archie ("please visit the track page to discover what you can and cannot do with each track"). Is there a talented but little-known band whose music you would LOVE to feature in your book trailer? Don't be afraid to email and ask! You may let you use it under agreeable terms. Cross-promotion is beautiful thing.

And if you play an instrument, perhaps getting the perfect music for your trailer is as simple as sitting down and recording it on your computer. Also, if you're not interested in music for your trailer, think of how you can best use sound. While C.K. Kelly Martin incorporates guitar music in the trailer for her latest release, One Lonely Degree (watch it here), she also uses the sound of someone breathing to great effect.

I edited all of my audio in Audacity, which is a free digital audio editor, and one I found to be very easy to use (but I didn't wait until the last minute to learn how to use it! I played around with it a great deal of time before as well.).

Your script will also give you a great idea of what kind of visual cues to use. I could have picked very literal visual interpretations of each line of my script (perhaps pictures of pom-poms, a couple walking away from each other, a bottle of pills etc), but in the end, I decided to hand draw and scan images, which I felt helped support the kind of gritty feel I wanted to achieve. This approach worked for the first half of the trailer. For the second half, I knew I wanted to incorporate some photographs as well. If you have an eye and a digital camera, getting the perfect images for your book trailer could be as simple as taking them yourself.

While I dabble in photography, my general style wasn't really appealing to me for my trailer (although I did ultimately use one of my photos--the girl in the bathroom). Luckily, I'm blessed to know some very talented photographers and my friends, Kim Hutt (the photo of the girl holding her hair belongs to her) and Veronique Moisan (the party photos belong to her), graciously gave me permission to use their work.

When looking for images yourself, again, check out those that have Creative Commons licensing (but make sure to pay close attention to the type of license! Just because it says cc doesn't mean you can use it freely for every purpose). In fact, Flickr enables you to search specifically for cc works on its search page. Do you have friends who are into photography? Maybe they'd love to be involved in that part of your book trailer.

Once you have the script, the visuals and the sounds you need, it's time to put them all together in the movie making program that comes with your computer! And that should be reasonably easy enough because you've been practicing on it for fun all this time... right?

Happy book trailer making!

All this said, there are many fantastic people out there who will make a rockin' book trailer for you, for a fee. Circle of Seven Productions leads the pack when it comes to making book trailers and I am a great admirer of their work. But if you are unable to hire someone to do it for you, as I was, don't be afraid to DIY! The total cost of Cracked Up to Be trailer was my time. The end result is a trailer that I am incredibly happy with and that has been--thankfully--received very positively.

Hope this was a helpful read!

Thank you, Courtney! It was a very helpful read. Please visit Courtney's website and check out Cracked Up to Be.

Name Calling

Suzanne Kamata and I are doing a bunch of name calling at her blog Gaijin Mama. Here's the lead in:

Any of us who are parents know how important a name is. A name has the power to shape the impression others have of us before they even meet us. Would you ever believe that someone named Bill Bailey would be a rock star? What if his name was Axl Rose? Could Eleanor Gow rock the cover of Sports Illustrated? She did, under the name Elle Macpherson. Who would you be more interested in: Paul Hewson or Bono, Cherilyn Sarkisian or Cher, Mary Cathleen Collins or Bo Derek?

Planning your summer vacation? Why not visit Square Butte, Montana, or Elephant Butte, New Mexico? If those don’t sound good, you can go to Hell—Michigan, that is, about an hour west of Detroit.

What's in a name and how do writers choose monikers for their characters? Well, come on over and tell us how you do it!

Violet Raines Speaks!

Well, it was bound to happen--my character has outshone me. Violet Raines is over at Joyce Anthony's blog today talking about her friends and what it was like to be in a book. I got in a few words edgewise.

Come on over!

Writers Inspired

Come visit me today at Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writers Inspired, where we'll be talking about--what else?--writing and being inspired!

Please join us!

A Good Blog is Hard to Find!

All of us who write have tools and rituals we consider essential to the craft of writing. Coffee, of course, is the main thing--the first thing!--and beyond that we have a world of books, social networking, and other opportunities that help make us better writers.

That's what we're talking about over at A Good Blog is Hard to Find. Come join us!

American Idol: And the winner is . . . what?

We had more than six inches of rain yesterday. Most people in Central Florida attribute this to natural weather phenomena, but those who will track this deluge will find the source to be the tears streaming from my eye sockets.

Adam Lambert did not win American Idol. It's true.

Oh, it started off pleasantly enough. Norman Gentle, I was glad to see him. Kris's journey, nice guy, good runner up. It had been raining all day here and lightning flashed in the windows behind me, giving the effect of strobe lights through the window. I hated the group songs; they just don't sound good together.

Then, just as they started to introduce Adam's journey, LIGHTNING TOOK OUT MY SATELLITE! The world spun crazily and I clawed my way to the phone. "MAC! MAC!" My sister, my only lifeline--she's on vacation, but I knew she'd answer for me. I clutched the phone. "What's happening? Who's Adam singing with?"


Oh, man! Stupid satellite dish. Desperately, my kids and I (and even my husband who hates AI but nevertheless thought Adam superior) tried to restore the signal manually, but to no avail. Then, just as suddenly, the signal returned--at the commercial break following Adam's performance.

Coinkidink? I think not.

Exhibit #1 Despite repeated dialings, I got only one vote in for Adam.

Exhibit #2 None of my text votes received confirmation notices (until the next day).

Exhibit #3 After not receiving confirmation, I repeatedly texted to 5705. That was my fault; I had never texted AI before and thought it followed the phone format. Still, I blame Idol.

Excitement surged through our little family, stirring us to our feet in the final moments. I wonder that I didn't fall to the ground, crack my head on the floor, and require emergency services when Adam's name was not announced.

As some of you know, this season was my first American Idol experience. I don't know if can withstand another.

It's still raining now; forecasters say it will rain all week. If only they would look more closely at their radars and see the tracks of my tears. It's such a mad world.

Mother Daughter Book Club

Cindy Hudson is hosting me today at Mother Daughter Book Club. We're talking about change and the trials of adolescence. Come on over!

New Author Debut Exclusive!

I've always thought I was dead.

With these words, our mystery guest opens his new story. Please join me in welcoming a budding author--my son!

My youngest son wants to write his own stories--funny stories and maybe comics. He's a voracious reader and an insightful boy. This is his rough draft; he plans on developing a full manuscript later. (If he doesn't, he's given me exclusive rights to use any of his words. I love the first sentence, so I'm not going to forget this promise!)

He wanted me to share the rough draft with you, and I am pleased to do so. (Click on picture for full-size image.) Enjoy!

Misadventures with Andi

I'm blogging today with Andi Fisher at Misadventures with Andi. We talk about growing up military, thoughts on creating a series, and whether or not to use a real setting in a novel.

Come on over!

Surprise Guest, Barnes & Noble, Alligators!

Hope you're having a good weekend! Please stop by this Tuesday when I feature a new author. He's written a story for middle-grade readers, and here's the first line:

I've always thought I was dead.

I love that line! If you want to read more, come back on Tuesday!

Also, St. James Cathedral School of Orlando put on a great book fair this month at Barnes & Noble. My bb, Sandy Nawrot arranged for me to come and sign books, and the pleasure was all mine! Such talented students! Chimers, guitar players, and more!

A few days ago, I traveled deep into the jungle and held an alligator. Okay, it wasn't that deep but it was Jungle Adventures, a twenty-two acre spread that includes a natural wetland, a spring, and a beautiful stream covered by duckweed. The facility houses lots of exotic animals, including Goliath, a 1700 pound male alligator. Though I didn't know that male alligators clamp their jaws shut with 3000 pounds of pressure or that females clamp with 1500 pounds of pressure, I did shout the correct answer for how many teeth alligators have--eighty. Ha! I knew that from my research for Violet Raines. But there was more about the teeth I didn't know: Alligators' teeth are like stacked cups; there's always another tooth growing under the visible tooth. The jaw produces teeth for every socket (unless the socket suffer infection or injury) for the duration of the alligator's life. So you'll never see a pumpkin smile on an alligator.

Here is Safari Todd with some of Jungle Adventures' toothy residents:

Don't try this at home!

Spotted at Chili's

After spending the day on a field trip and the evening at basketball games, I took my two little boys to Chili's, and while we were waiting, I saw this kid holding a book, the back of which looked familiar. I couldn't see for sure. After we were seated, I made one of my sons go to the other section and ask that kid what book he was reading.

Can you believe it was Violet Raines! It was his sister's book. A few minutes later, the brother and the sister appeared at our table, wanting me to sign the book, and I, of course, had bookmarks in my purse! I'm sure they'll never know it how thrilling it was for me to see them with my book in a setting outside the context of book signings and schools.

I need to call my mom.

Come Visit Me at Jillian Clemmons' Place!

Today, I'll be at Jillian Clemmons, hosted by Jillian Clemmons! Please stop by!

All Men Are Created Equal

All men are created equal, especially this man:

Yeah! Go Adam, Go Adam! Adam Lambert fans unite! Charge up your cell phones, hook up to DialIdol, do those finger exercises, 'cause next week we must give it our all!

Wash My Laundry or Write My Book?

Today, Anne-Marie Nichols is hosting me on her blog, A Mama's Rant. We're talking about the pros and cons of working from home in my guest post: "Wash My Laundry or Write my Book: How does a stay-at-home-writer do it?"

Come on over!

Friendly Book Nook, B&N, Scholastic

Climb aboard! The next stop on my blog tour is The Friendly Book Nook, hosted by Sally Riley. Sally provides an overview of the Violet Raines, then gives us her take on it. Check it out!

In other news, I met my online buddy Sandy Nawrot at the B&N book signing! We had much to talk about--books and our telephone-voting strategies to slip Adam Lambert into first place. Pictures and more in a later post!

Also, I spent fifteen minutes in heaven yesterday--oh, wait! I spent a few hours at the Scholastic Book Fair office yesterday and had a great time! Photos and more in a later post. Scholastic people are wonderful!

Muffins, Alligators, and Come Visit Me Tonight at Barnes & Noble!

Busy morning:

  • Fired up cappuccino machine and watched Adam Lambert sing "Whole Lotta Love."
  • Ate a carrot nut muffin.
  • Made lunches; drove assorted people to school.
  • Spotted alligator skimming through unfenced pond near elementary school. Rolled down window and shouted, "Hi Allie!"
  • Cleaned up kitchen, made beds.
  • At my computer by 9:30.
  • Performed research for current manuscript.
Time for another cappuccino.

Tonight I'll be signing copies of Violet Raines at Barnes & Noble in the Colonial Plaza Market Center (2418 East Colonial Drive, Orlando). My appearance there is just one small part of the book fair for St. James School. St. James students will be putting on the real show; student performances include a juggling act, chimes players, and a foot-stomping ukulele group! Come on out if you're in the area!



Now I have to get back to voting!


Come Visit Me at Zook Book Nook!

Kim Zook is hosting me at her blog, Zook Book Nook. I know, great name, right?! Kim's interview centers on the relationship between Violet Raines and nature. I loved answering these questions!

Please come!

Interview at WOW, Blueberry News, American Idol

Happy Monday!

Today I'm a guest over at WOW! Women on Writing. Jodi Webb interviewed me and we're holding a Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning book giveaway! Come on over! You don't even have to be a woman to win!

Blueberry news: Last Thursday, I turned in my rough draft for The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness, and Friday morning, my editor sent me an email saying this: I was blown away by the story. Hooray! and YAY! Revisions are next.

In other news, I had an epiphany over the weekend: American Idol is not a contest of who sings the best. It's a contest of whose fans dial in their votes the fastest and are willing to do so for the full two hour voting window. Adam Lambert fans, we cannot have a repeat of last week.

With this in mind, I have been doing finger push-ups and thumb squats, twenty reps, three times a day. Timed drills on my land line and ATT cell phone prove that my speed is improving. LOOK OUT, NON-ADAM fans--I'm feeling AMBIDEXTROUS!

Sandy N., MAC, AprilGarden, AnnaG.--I'm talking to you! Team Adam has been mobilized!

I Have Events!

If you live in the Orlando area, I would love to meet you! Thanks to Sandy Nawrot, bb extraordinaire, and Geoffrey Shoffstall of B&N, I'll be doing a meet-and-greet book signing at Barnes & Noble in the Colonial Plaza Market Center (2418 East Colonial Drive, Orlando). Please come!

Other events include an interview May 4th at The Muffin, WOW! Women on Writing blog, followed by a blog tour. Please visit me at some of these wonderful sites:

May 5th ZookBookNook

May 8th FriendlyBookNook

May 12th A Mama's Rant

May 20th Mother Daughter Book Club

May 22th A Good Blog Is Hard to Find

June 4th Read These Books and Use Them

Hope to see you there!

Overheard at Target

"Well, there's fifty-six dollars in two plastic bags."

From the Email Bag

I have the best readers! They buoy me on hard days and make good days even better! Here are a few snippets (don't forget to check out the pics at the end!):

Dear Danette Haworth,
I am Violeta. I love Violet Raines Almost Got Stuck by lighting, it is now officially my favorite book. My favorite part is the chemistry between Violeta and Eddie. Danette Haworth when are you going to releasing your next book? Now you're officially my favorite author.

I just finished reading it and loved it-- I wish I could meet Violet. Her struggles and angst are so typical of a girl her age. . . .Your book will be one I will remember when moms and daughters come in looking for a good book.
~Nancy, librarian

My favorite part was her conversation with Eddie about the bra.

Guess what i read the whole book in one day thats how good your book is. . . . I think you should make a second book in this one it should be Violet in middle school and how she gets along. . . . Thanks alot for writing such a good book.
Love your #1 fan

Thank you so much for coming in and presenting! The kids loved it and so did I!
~ Pat, 4th grade teacher

Dear Ms. Haworth,

I just wanted to tell you that I just finished reading Violet Raines and I thought it was an amazing book. . . . Are any of the characters in the book based on your family or friends?


Hi!! I just finished reading your book,"
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by lightning". It is now one of my favorite books along with some of the books you listed on your blog. I was wondering if were planning on making another book? I think it is a very interesting book and it is a brilliant write. Please write back or take writing another book into consideration. Thank you for your time. ~Vanessa :)
P.S. It

Please write another violet book. I would love to read about her 6th grade years

I feel just like Violet of course i never got struck by lightning, but i have people like Melissa at my school and i have friends like Eddie and Lottie! . . . i did a book report on your book. . . . If you write back that will be great but if you cant ill understand.
~ Tiffany

P.s. I think you are really pretty.

hi Haworth!

I finished your book in a day it was the best book i`ve ever read! Can you please make a series about Violet Raines please. i wanna know what happens to them when they are in junior high. here are some ideas:::::::::::maybe all of them might run in to problems in there life's-----maybe all of them might find someone special well, i have more ideas but i dont want to get struck by lighting!

~ CC

I just finished reading Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lighting and I was wondering if you were planning to write a sequel to the book because I love it .

~Tori ;-) P.S I'm you're new biggest fan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Mrs. Haworth, how are you? i'm fine, I absolutely love your book "Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning"!!!!!!! You know I tried to find a director and suggest making your book into a movie!!!!!!! I couldn't find one so.......anyways i'm emailing you, hope you liked my letter!!!111
~ ur #1 fan, Cassie

In another email from Cassie: The dog is sable and the cat is Izzy

Hello, I'm Back! Awesomeness Happens: U2, Chimney Rock, Adam Lambert!

Hi everyone!

I'm back from the Smokies and hard at work on the keyboard. The deadline looms for The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness; I'm kicking it into gear to finish the first draft.


I have lots of other stuff to tell you, but these days I feel like I'm already late for something, so here are the highlights:

  • Our cabin was so high in the Smokies, we had to look down to see clouds. (Some were above too, but wow!)
  • I alone discovered the bear track not far from our cabin. This made our hike back much more exciting.
  • Chimney Rock--awesome!
Finally, I watched American Idol right until they introduced Adam Lambert and cut him off. Excellent, chilling, Adam Lambert is a star.

Vacation, Interviews, Adam Lambert, and a Dream about The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness

I am going to the Smokies today for spring break! HOORAY! The cabin we rented is extremely remote--it's the only cabin in a 200-acre spread set on a ridge in the mountains. I can't wait! I'm bringing my camera in hopes of capturing mountain wildlife (with telephoto, not too up-close-and-personal).

Interviews: Sandy Nawrot is an Orlando writer who read Violet Raines, and--drumroll, please--she recognized the bridge in the book! Yes, Sandy not only recognized the bridge, she has actually walked across it! I, on the other hand, was too scared and sailed under it in a canoe with my husband. Please check out the interview at Sandy's blog: You've GOTTA Read This! Also, MG/YA writer Jennifer Blom interviewed me for her blog Jen K Blom. Both writers were fun to work with and I hope you'll check them out.

Adam Lambert: YES! What else is there to say? I actually voted. Ten times. Was it just me, or did Smokey have tears in his eyes?

My dream: I dreamt about The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness last night! (My new manuscript, yay! Due 2010 with Walker Books.) We were trying to get a room and there was so much trouble that my husband got frustrated and just bought the hotel. I was thrilled because now I could legally sneak into all the abandoned floors and the tunnels below. The living suite was opulent, reds and dark cherry furniture, a little too formal for me; I wanted to sleep in the Honeymoon Suite, which, in the dream, was set up like a porch room with one wall of windows that were thrown open to the glorious smell of summer. (In my dream, it was not hot.) Then I started to think my sister would need to quit her job and help me, and my husband would have to quit his job too, because I can't run this place by myself. The dream ended with me telling my sister, "And we get to eat the Sunday brunch FOR FREE!"

Okay, I've got laundry to do and all kinds of packing! If you're going on spring break, too, have fun. For now, Danette has left the building.

The Book Deal: An Inside View of Publishing

Thanks to Verla Kay's blueboards, I've discovered an excellent blog for writers. Alan Rinzler, Executive Editor at Jossey-Bass Publishing, puts out The Book Deal: An Inside View of Publishing. Tips, articles, interviews--Mr. Rinzler's blog is a primer for writers at every level. Check it out!


Ignore the fact that SCBWI Miami took place in January--I've finally downloaded/uploaded my pictures, and I want to post them. (Click to make them larger.) I was not only an attendee, but I also appeared as a speaker on the First Books Panel, along with Marjetta Geerling and Debbie Reed Fischer.

Linda Bernfeld, SCBWI Regional Advisor of Florida, (on the right) is ready to party down after months and months of planning! It paid off, Linda! From left to right, the other conference attendees are Lynne Hansen, Shannon Hitchcock, me, and Angelina Dunbar. Lynne writes YA horror and gave me great tips on how to drum up book signings. Shannon and I had some great conversations, and Angelina was my conference buddy.

I'm standing next to Marjetta Geerling, Alex Flinn and Mindy Weiss. Marjetta wrote Fancy White Trash and signed my copy with a fancy pink pen. She told me YA doesn't have to be depressing and she was right! I read her book, loved it, and saw positive themes throughout the novel even in the midst of serious subject matter. Alex Flinn is the author of many books and the recipient of many awards. Go Alex! Mindy is a Blueboard friend and it was nice to meet her in person.

The great Lisa Yee! What can I say? I loved Millicent Min! Don't let Lisa's small stature and cuteness fool you--she's sharp as a razor and really funny (very quick texter, too).

Gaby Triana worked behind the scenes for months to get the conference going. Not only is she the author of several award winning novels and a nice person to boot, she's hot, too!

Donna Gephart wrote As If Being 12 and 3/4 Wasn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President! My daughter snagged this book from me when I got home and she loved it! Donna and I had exchanged a few emails before the conference, and I was eager to meet her. She is a warm and caring person, and I love her for that.

I had a blast hanging out with Debbie Reed Fischer. She introduced herself as a military brat like myself, and said we had much to talk about. The author of Braless in Wonderland and Swimming with Sharks, Debbie is quick, funny, and just as pretty as the models she writes about.

This is what it looks like when children's writers party! Kimberly Lynn constructed all the decorations, and she did a fantastic job!

American Idol Quickie

Time to break out my new American Idol favorites. (Oh, we're so fickle, aren't we?) Megan Joy sang "Walking After Midnight," and I loved her raspy take on it. I also love that little shimmy she does, and wow! She looked so pretty last night! So, I'm moving Megan into my number two spot.

Adam Lambert--OMG! Adam's "Burning Ring of Fire" was strange and disturbing and it was the only song I thought about long after the show was over. I felt like Mowgli being hypnotized by Kaa. Adam's got it; oh, the way he slides his voice up and down the notes, yet he never seems to be taxed by the effort. I've not heard a wrong note yet. And he looked fantastic! Adam is still my number one! Go, Adam!

I'm Irish! No, really! Plus Adam Lambert, Jonas Brothers, and SNL

I'm Irish. And I'll pinch anyone who says I'm not. Out of four grandparents, one was pure Irish, my maiden name is Irish, and I have freckles, reddish brown hair, and I used to be a seal.

So you know I'm probably related to Bono and he should totally give me free tickets to the new U2 concert.

Have you heard U2's new CD? I have. I'm not totally sold on it; it's a different sound from their last few CDs. But I'm totally in support of them, being Irish and all.

Entertainment recap:

  • It's Adam Lambert night, I mean, American Idol night! Hooray! I can't wait to see what Adam will sing tonight. My second choice is still the red-haired Allison; coming in third is that Justin Timberlake guy.
  • The Jonas Brothers 3D movie rocked the theater. (Kevin is my favorite.) Those guys were pumping with energy, and the stage dynamics--wow! The brothers rose high above the audience on different types of risers. Very impressive, but what a neck-kill if you're in the audience. Once again, 3D doesn't bring it for me in a concert movie. There's nothing about a concert that can fully use the 3D quality, except for bringing to life that annoying feeling of having heads or hands in my way.
  • Tracy Morgan hosted Saturday Night Live recently. It was the best show in a long time (the first half, anyway). I couldn't wait when I heard Steve Martin and then Alec Baldwin were hosting, but those shows fell flat. Tracy was up on his game. Did you see the opening? Ha!
Anyway, you know what I'll be doing tonight. Make sure you look around today and pinch everyone not wearing green.

In Which I Give You Tips for Spring Break in Orlando

Ah, it's that time of year; the annual migration of snowbirds is upon us. Should you, dear readers, be one of them, I want you to be prepared. Here then, is my top ten list of Tips for Your Spring Break in Orlando.

10. You will be fiercely hot and sweating like a pig. Water is $2.75. Accept it.

9. Best Ride at Disney--My personal favorites are Splash mountain and that thing they used to call the WedWay people mover, but now it's called TTL or something. Also be forewarned if you haven't been there in a while: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride has left the building.

8. Best Water Park: Blizzard Beach, hands down.

7. The best Beach Pier is in Daytona. Ride the rickety, old sky lift that dangles you over the ocean.

6. For the true Ron Jon's experience, you must visit the Ron Jon's in Cocoa Beach, not one of those branches in a mall where they try to recreate the whole ocean experience.

5. It's in the high eighties; bring shorts. And we've had some cold fronts, too, so bring pants and maybe a long sleeved shirt, especially if you want to walk on the beach at night. Ladies, bring a sweater and leave it in the car everywhere you go, because no matter how hot it is outside, every restaurant has the thermostat set to Chill. Oh, and it might rain. Be prepared.

4. That's not a tan you're getting; it's a sunburn. When you go back up north, you will look like a lobster and all your friends will tease you. Use SPF 50.

3. Do not use your turn signal--it only alerts the other drivers to speed up and not let you in. I share with you now the method I have perfected: Keep your face forward while relentlessly scanning all your mirrors for an opening. When you see one, crank the wheel and BAM! slide in. You have now executed the Orlando lane change.

2. The SunPass lanes on the toll roads are not the same as a Fast Pass at Disney. We O-towners paid for these little boxes that sit on our dashboards and drain money from our bank accounts every time we speed through the gate. Go through the cash or change lanes. Tip: You can run through a couple of tolls without being fined. After that, the gate cameras take pictures of your license plate and a nice little ticket will be sitting in your mailbox, awaiting your return.

1.All the main streets here are referred to by numbers and names. Even the finest tourist with the latest GPS will find herself at a gas station for directions. Let me give you a rundown. (Cut this part out and keep it in your pocket.)

  • Highway 50 is Colonial Drive.
  • 441 is Orange Blossom Trail, also referred to as OBT.
  • 17/92 is Mills Avenue.
  • 441/17/92 is also Orange Blossom Trail or OBT, but it is not Mills Ave., nor does it merge or in any way connect with said Mills Avenue in Orlando proper.
  • Sometimes, Mills Avenue is called Orlando Avenue.
  • 436 is Semoran Boulevard, but in some parts, it is called East Altamonte Drive.
  • 417 is the Greenway.
  • 408 is the East/West Expressway.
  • 528 is the Beachline. It used to be the Beeline and had a cute bee on all the signs, but some marketers must have gotten a hold of it and thought, Hey, it runs east and west, let's pump it up and call it the Beachline, dude.
  • I-4 has a lot names. Not printable.
Very Important: Most major streets have signs giving you directions to the airport. Look twice, my friend. Is that an arrow telling you to go straight, or is it the internationally recognized symbol for airplane? The arrow, which is the thing you need to follow, is on the right hand of the sign and sometimes points in a different direction; the plane always points forward, causing even seasoned O-timers to go the wrong way. (Not, ahem, that this has ever happened to me.)

Enjoy, and say hello to the mouse for me!

U2 ALL NEXT WEEK! Plus American Idol Stuff

March is going to be so good!

U2 releases No Line On the Horizon next week! And Bono and Edge will play sidekick to David Letterman all week long! Can late night get any better? I think not.

I, of course, will not be watching U2 live--it's past my bedtime. But I will be thinking of you, Bono, and recording you of course. Leave eighteen tickets for me at the box office when you come to Florida.

In other TV news, scrap yesterday's post! Allison Iraheta and Adam Lambert blew me away. Allison reminds me of Kelly Clarkson; I love those rough voices. Adam Lambert--come on! He looks like Elvis! Oh, those smouldering eyes, and I loved when his forelocks fell, covering his face. (That happened to Elvis all the time. You know how bald guys have that one long strand they wind around on top for cover? Elvis had long hair--it was the only way to fashion his trendy pompadour.) Adam nailed "Satisfaction"; he's definitely a frontrunner.

And I have a wildcard; guess who it is?

Norman Gentle!

Who are you voting for?

American Idol--Resistance is Futile

Let me state for the record that until last year, I never watched American Idol. Most of what I knew about it came from The Soup. ("Some people weren't liking it.") But last year, my sister forced me to watch excerpts of AI featuring David Cook.

I have been assimilated.

My DVR is set to record all new AI installments. I'm down with my new finalists; I've seen Tatiana. Maybe it's too early to say, or maybe it's because I'm an AI newbie, but so far I haven't seen anything that compares to last seasons finalists. I loved David Cook's smoky rendition of "Billie Jean," and with his raspy voice and Jimmy Fallon hair, he captured me every time he took the stage.

This duet with David Archuleta is haunting. I love it. Before you go, send yourself a reminder: American Idol's on tonight.

Resistance is futile.

Violet Raines Wurde Fast vom Blitz Getroffen!


My editor has informed me that Walker BFYR has sold Violet Raines to Carlsen, a publisher in Germany.

Violet Raines Wurde Fast vom Blitz Getroffen--If you said, "Wow! That looks like German for Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning!", you are right!

We're looking forward to seeing if there will be any design changes. Won't that be cool!

In the meantime, Schönen Tag noch! (That's the closest I could get to Have a good day!)

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers’s debut novel, cracked up to be, is everything it’s cracked up to be! The first three sentences, graphic but darkly humorous, hooked me immediately and set the tone for the rest of the story. I loved Parker Fadley’s sarcastic quips and witty observations. She’s a smart girl with a sharp edge, and I liked her.

Summers’s prowess as an author is so subtle, I didn’t realize how far I’d been pulled in until wham! Near the end, she blindsided me with something I didn’t know was coming, yet made perfect sense. It was the stroke of a master.

There are so many quotable lines in this novel. Here are the lines that open Chapter Four: “I’m a fantastic crier. Everyone’s on suicide watch.” You can see how sardonic Parker is about her own condition; it’s as if she’s an observer as well as the actor. And though Parker indicates the crying was a deliberate act, I couldn’t help but wonder if this quipping was indeed the part of a slightly unreliable narrator—that maybe Parker is a little more scared than she’ll even let herself know.

Summers lands the book on a solid ending. I recommend this book for YA readers, especially fans of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.

And I can’t close without urging you to view the trailer for cracked up to be (online at It’s awesome!

Snow and Book Signing at Barnes & Noble

December 13, 2008, the impossible happened: It snowed in Winter Garden, Florida. True! No matter this snow was trucked in and laid in place to form a marvelous slide for kids to play on. The snow was part of a Reading Reindeer book event, and I was invited to sign at Barnes & Noble at Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves.

Look at what the good people at Barnes & Noble did for me! I know this photo is a little blurry, but can I tell you that happiness and awe rushed through me when I saw this display.
Inside, I spoke with Kathy Aber, of The West Orange Times, who helped arrange my appearance at B&N.

I met a lot of great girls and a lot of moms too!

And one thing I learned from reading JA Konrath's blog is that you don't have to stay behind your table. I circulated the store, passing out my bookmarks and chatting with people. I even helped one lady find Twilight.

I did a short reading and discussion bit, and most of the girls I met are also budding writers. They had good questions and they were just so interested, it made me want to give them as much as I could.

I could give you some tips on book signings, but if you've been good enough to read this far, I am going to tell you the Super Secret to Selling Books. The casual reader will look at the photo below and assume I don't know how to use red-eye reduction in Photoshop. Not so, my writerly fiends, I mean friends. Look closely. I am using my gamma ray powers to sell a book. Notice how I waited till the mother looked away. Mwahaha.