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!