Musings of a YA author throwing herself into the fray. Join me on the journey ...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Awkward Epi 7 Recap

Every spring at the high school down the street from my house they hold a mock DWI crash reenactment just before prom, with wrecked cars, police, flares, and ambulance. The whole bit. They send out notices to all the surrounding neighborhoods so nobody freaks out while they pretend to scrap some drama students off the pavement. Apparently it’s the new thing in DWI prevention at high schools these days. (In my day--which was a Wednesday, by the way-- they showed us some flick from the 1970s with a title like Blood Runs Red on the Highway. Dundundun.) Anyway this whole dramatic production is also the backdrop for this week’s awesome episode of Awkward.

Over My Dead Body - Summary and Review in 500 681 words or less (must write tighter!! sigh.)
The Least You Need To Know: Jenna is still determined to play hard to get with a guy (Matty) that’s hard to get.
The Set-Up: Auditorium. Crazycakes counselor, Valerie, is bringing the annual Drunk Driving Awareness production into the 21st Century with CRASH’d - Counselor’s Raising Awareness for Students Who (the W is silent) Drink. Tamara is jonesing for Ricky Schwartz while Jenna is pretending not to be jonesing for Matty who’s having a hard time not showing he’s jonesing for her. K, got it? Val casts Jake (Matty’s BFF and wanna-be luvah of Jenna) as Dead Johnny, and the role of Dead Stacy goes to Jenna. But since she’s the girl everyone already thinks tried to off herself it’s awkward.
Sagging Middle: On her way to Val’s office to give Dead Stacy to uber-drama best girl Tamara, Jenna is waylaid by Jake who still wants the sitch on her post-kiss feelings. Bullet point: just friends. For Jenna at least. Val pleads with Jenna to help her with CRASH’d and save her ass with the principal, but Jenna uses her parent’s sensitivity to her recent faux suicide as an excuse. All good, except Val makes house calls apparently. And seems playing Dead Stacy runs in the family: Lacey (Jenna’s mom) played the role in ’95, so she’s psyched. Jenna appeals to her Dad, saying people won’t stop talking about her being the girl who tried to kill herself if she plays the part of a girl who dies. Dad (who’s totally cute, by the by) counsels her then to change the conversation.
Despondent over another public humiliation to come, Jenna gets a booty text from Matty. He’s surprised when she shows cause he thought she wasn’t talking to him, and while shoving her tongue into his mouth isn’t technically talking, I guess, it’s clear she’s done playing hard to get. Spit swapping ensues until the other McKibben (hinted at in Epi 5) stumbles up the drive clearly UI. When he begins pawing Jenna, Matty forces him inside and tells her to go. She's pissed. (Honestly, other than the kissing, I didn’t like Jenna in this whole scene. A) She could play a little harder to get, and B) when it’s clear that Matty’s got family issues her whole concern is that he didn’t introduce her to his drunk brother??)
Next day at school, Val is dressed as the grim reaper “killing off” students every statistical 15 mins and Jenna has a plan to use Dead Stacy to “change the conversation”. But Jake, in Val’s office, still wants to talk about their kiss (Really? Cause 16 y.o. guys want to talk about their feelings all the time? When?) To make things more awkward, Val has them hold hands, waffle-style, so they seem like a real couple. Lissa (Jake's gf) freaks. Matty tries to apologize for last night, but Jenna gives him the ultimatum: figure out what you want or lose me forever.
Final Act: Tamara and Ricky S. are the drunk killer couple in the play. Matty is obviously not ok with his bestie and his undercover luvah together even as soon-to-be-dead Johnny and Stacy. Jake confesses his like like of Jenna. Tamara pretends to save Dead Stacy with a homoerotic liplock to much applause and male appreciation. Conversation Changed? Check. And a public hug from Matty. Best. DWI Awareness Day. Ever.
Best quote: “I’d love a Zima.”
Best Jenna/Matty Moment: The hug at the end. Awwww.

Contest Wednesday: What's in your wallet?

Or, in your purse?
Mine is a mess and I desperately need to clean it out. I think there's an entire box of animal crackers ground to dust in the bottom of my purse. (And if it's not animal crackers, then I don't want to know!)
What's the weirdest thing in your purse (or wallet) right now? I'll pick one person to win a five dollar gift card from Amazon.
Btw, someone reminded me that I never announced winners on like two other contests. So check back tomorrow and I'll announce the winners for all three.

Monday, August 29, 2011

iPod Shame

To say I am not a morning person is like saying Simon Cowell is just moody. If it were up to me nothing would begin before 10 a.m., certainly nothing so mundane as a job. Alas, the rest of the world does not share my owlish ways and I am forced from bed each morning at 6:00 6:10 6:20 6:30 (the snooze button is the devil). At the butt-crack of dawn there are only two things that get me going: a shower and music. These days the water must be warm, but not hot—it’s already too hot here—and the music must be fast and loud. I dock my iPod onto the speakers in the bathroom, hit shuffle, and get in the shower. Sometimes I’m awake enough to pay attention to the actual songs, sometimes it’s all I can do to keep upright and not drown. (P.S. If this ever happens, my love, please, please put some clothes on me before the paramedics arrive. Thx.) Anyway, today it was the latter, but apparently my guy was paying attention because he burst into the bathroom, laughing his head off.

This is on your iPod?”

“Uuuhhhh—yeah, I don’t know how this got on there, must have been on some old CD I had. I’d forgotten all about it.”

Lie. Straight up. I love this song. But, alone, in the car with the windows up, where no one can hear me sing it at the top of my lungs. This, my friends, is iPod shame: those little gems in our music list that we would deny to the death we love, while secretly putting them on replay for hours. Cheesy, overly sentimental, ballads and rock anthems alike. We know they suck, but something about them—the beat, a lyric, the memory invoked of that guy with the supersexy shoulder tattoo that summer after senior year—won’t let us send them to music purgatory where they belong. Whatever the reason, we all have them.

In no particular order—because they pretty much suck equally—these are my three (that I will admit to on a public forum anyway):

Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins-- This song is an over-the-top 80’s cheesefest, but when Phil croons the lines “when I’m in your arms, nothing seems to matter, my whole world could shatter, I don’t care” I swear my heart squeezes.

Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett—Need I say more? But it reminds me of hot summers with friends by the pool.

Straight Tequila Night by John Anderson—For this one, I have almost no excuse, other than I was young, this is Texas, and I loved to two-step. Ugh, seeing the video only makes me cringe more:

Tell me, what’s in your iPod Hall of Shame?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shut your pie hole

Last week I drove past a pie place with a big sign out front that read "Fill Your Pie Hole!"
Now, I know it's a completely innocent phrase (though it's always sounded vaguely dirty.) But it got my attention and stuck in my brain and now I'm hungry for pie. Or maybe it's just that it's the end of summer, which seems like such a pie time of year.
People don't make pies very often anymore. I miss pie.
My grandmother's generation made a lot of pies. And, man, that woman could bake. (She's still alive. Just doesn't bake anymore.) She probably ate desert every day of her life and in the time I knew her, she was never overweight. She just moved that much and ate enough good stuff to balance it out. Oh, and she never drank sodas. When we would visit, she'd send grandpa down to the basement to bring up a couple of bottles of "pop." They kept some generic brand of 7 up for when we were there, but they never drank it.
But back to the pie ....
She made amazing cherry pies and rhubarb crunchs. My other grandmother made fantastic lemon pies, that were so tart, you almost couldn't eat them without the meringue. To this day my dad won't eat anyone else's lemon meringue pie.
Baking a desert every other day is something that seems to have gotten lost between my grandmother's generation and my own, not just in my family, but all over. My mother always had gallons of ice cream in the house and store bought cookies. Now I have pints of Ben and Jerry's and Ghirardelli chocolate carmel squares. But not fresh pie.
Despite my craving for pie, I probably won't make one. We all try to eat healthier now. But I wonder sometimes if Cherry Garcia is any healthier than cherry pie. It probably isn't. It just stores better in the freezer.
So what's your favorite kind of pie?n

So So Sorry! Winner of Last Contest Wednesday!

Thank God for Shellee for continuing to blog as I am in a Tempest Unleashed panic!!!!!!!!!! So sorry I didn't post last week's winner... and it is Holly!  So drop me a line at with your snail mail and sometime soon I'll get the book in the mail (as soon as I finish Tempest Unleashed, lol).


Awkward Epi 6 Recap

Stepping in for our regularly scheduled Contest Wednesday (to return next week, pinky swear!). Plus, I need an outlet for my new TV obsession. And, if you're still not watching, why not??

Okay, here goes...

Episode 6: Queen Bee-atches-- Summary and Review in 500 620 words or less

The least you need to know: Jake (Matty’s best friend and cheerleader Lissa’s boyfriend) kissed Jenna!?! It was awkward…

The Set-up: In fair Palo Verdes, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge (okay, just since the beginning of school, but in teen years that’s ancient) break to new mutiny when Jenna’s mom forces her to “rush” the KnickKnackers—a junior league type mother-daughter charity org wherein, as Jenna so eloquently puts it, “mean girls don’t grow up, they just get older.” Of course, the event is at sadist Sadie’s (And wow, I just made the connection when I wrote that—wonder if that’s deliberate, because awesome. Character naming kudos, Lauren Iungerich!) house and her mom is the lead older mean girl who ultimately decides if Jenna’s mom makes the club’s cut. Ooooh, conflict.

The Sagging Middle: Not to fear, Matty is also present and accounted for, bartending. There’s a sweet moment when he tells Jenna she looks nice, but it’s all too soon kiboshed by Sadie and he never gets a chance to answer Jenna’s request to hang out. Jenna is concerned that Jake squealed to Matty about their kiss, but Tamara (Jenna’s BFF #2) assures her guys don’t talk. Except, dundundun, Jake is also working the party, and after seeing Jenna and Lissa at the same time, becomes a nervous wreck, blurting out his lip-lock indiscretion to an unsuspecting, and now charmingly flustered, Matty. Let the cock-blocking begin—on the dl, of course.

Meanwhile, Jenna and Tamara, convinced that Sadie is the author of the infamous “care-frontation” letter, snoop in her room and abscond with what they think is her diary, but turns out it’s even more personal: Sadie’s food journal complete with caloric intake, missteps and, more importantly, weight, recorded daily. Jenna’s dilemma: return it or take revenge on her nemesis, tit-for-tat styles.

Not surprisingly, her neurotic school counselor, Valerie, is no help, since Jenna is squeamish about blackmail, and prescribes a cat fight as the best solution, though off school grounds, of course. In the hallway, Matty is feeling out Jake for details on the kiss, but in a totally I’m-not-interested-only-trying-to-help-my-best-bro-out kind of way and convinces Jake to let sleeping dogs lie (lay? GrammarGirl, help me!) with Jenna. I love jealous Matty--though, this kind of serves him right.

Back at the ranch, Jenna and her mom have made it to the next rung of the KnickKnacker gauntlet. Then, in a rare moment of serious after-school-special drama, we see Sadie in a emotional confession to her non-sympathetic mom on the trials she suffers with her battle of the bulge. It’s actually quite a heartbreaking and revealing moment, but in the end she still deals with her pain by inflicting it on others. So after deliberately sabotaging Jenna’s mom, Sadie rightly deserves Jenna’s blackmail: KnickKnakerdom for her mom or the journal goes viral. (Also, Ashley Rickards pitch perfect imitation of “You’re Welcome” is amazing!)

Final Act: Sadie obliges and Jenna returns the journal determined to wield the power of kindness, instead of cruelty. Also, Sadie didn’t write the letter. Jake decides he might be into Jenna after all and a mad, undercover texting race ensues between him and Matty for a 1x1 request with her. Unfortunately for Matty, Jake’s the only one who gets a text back. Uh, oh. Powershift in the relationship. Dundundun.

Best Teen Speak: “Mo to the Fo”

Best Jenna/Matty moment: Although Jenna isn't in the scene, when Matty tries to convince Jake (but really himself) that the kiss with Jenna meant nothing and she probably isn't thinking about it or Jake at all. Right?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Boys of Summer

Over the course of the years I have become an author’s worst nightmare: the fickle reader. Between the magic-behind-the-curtain that daily life requires and my own writing, I have so much less time than I’d like to devote to reading. So, like a kindergartener with ADHD, there’s a very limited window of opportunity for a book to grab my attention and keep it. And because I’m a writer, it’s even tougher for an author to make me forget the mechanics of storytelling, to stop my inner editor from mentally rewriting sentences and picking apart plot holes.

A lot of writing books exhort the importance of the first five pages (there’s even a book called The First Five Pages devoted to it) because that’s about how long a writer has to hook a fickle reader like me. In May, I’d picked up a copy of The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han based on a blog recommendation (and because it sounded like a memoir about my fifteenth summer). The first few pages started out well enough, a breezy read, with a hint that some of my favorite elements (i.e. romantic yearning, an ordinary girl, lost soul hero) were involved, but nothing that was going to keep me turning pages till 4 AM. Until I got to, sure enough, the very last paragraph of page 5 and Ms. Han hit me with this:

Conrad was the older one, by a year and a half. He was dark, dark, dark. Completely unattainable, unavailable. He had a smirky kind of mouth, and I always found myself staring at it. Smirky mouths make you want to kiss them, to smooth them out and kiss the smirkiness away. Or maybe not away…but you want to control it somehow. Make it yours. It was exactly what I wanted to do with Conrad. Make him mine.

Hook. Line. Sinker.

People, I stayed up till 4 AM, hiding under the covers with my book light, until I’d finished. Got up, drove straight to my local bookstore on the way to work, bought the sequel, It’s Not Summer Without You, and stayed up again until the wee hours. Then lathered, rinsed, repeated the next day with the final, just-released conclusion, We’ll Always Have Summer.

This is what a great storyteller does: poses a worrisome question--will the ordinary girl make the lost soul hero, Conrad, hers?—and then dares you to put down the book until you know the answer. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read the series, but suffice it to say, this question worried me enough that I got only twelve hours sleep over three days. So worth it.

This series is superb. One of the best—and tensest—love triangles I’ve ever read. Seriously. I usually pick my horse right out of the gate in a love triangle, but this one had me rethinking my choice until about mid-way through the final book. So much so that when I had about thirty pages left till the end, I became so nervous and excited to know how it would turn out, I couldn’t take the anxiety and had to walk around the block before finishing it. I’m not kidding.

If you haven’t read the series, I dare you to pick them up and see if you can make it without skipping ahead to the end to know.

What was the last book you read that gave you goosebumps you loved it so much and stayed up all night to finish?