Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy Monday!


Yes, I do have a couple of errands to run. BUT spending 6.5 hours a day, Monday through Friday, for four weeks straight in La Jolla while Child #3 learned Spanish at summer school, taught me an important lesson: I'm somewhat of a homebody! Who knew?

Before I post a few photos of a nice beach in, of course, La Jolla, here's a quick reminder about the great fundraiser auction fellow Random House author Carrie Harris has going. ALL the money goes to the library at the University of Michigan's children's hospital. The library gives books to all the inpatients! Here's a link to the over 80 items up for auction. Everything is a really good deal!

Here's a link to naming the character in my current work-in-progress. Blogger AbaGayle asked for details about the character.'s pretty wide open! The book is a young adult mystery with a 16 year-old female psychic detective. Characters to be named include high school students (some nice, some not), the sister of the victim, a boss in a burger joint. I'll use the winner's choice of name + a personality detail or two. This auction item closes today, Monday, July 25 @ 4pm EST, which is just around the corner!

And onto the beach....

Marine Street Beach (thank you google photos for this picture)

As you can imagine, some of our beaches here in San Diego County are super crowded at this time of year. As in towel-room only. However, there is a really cute, sandy beach, albeit unlifeguarded, that is not crowded: Marine Street Beach in La Jolla. This beach is located at the foot of, you guessed it, Marine Street, about 4 blocks west of La Jolla Boulevard.

Friend + Child #4 at Marine Street Beach (Thank you blackberry for this photo.)

We saw several small crabs, a sea anenome, and a seal. The boogie and body surfilng is good here. As is the wave chasing. According to a local yokel, there can be a lot of seaweed on this beach, which attracts flies. This was not a problem the day we went.

We'll be returning later this summer to the Marine Street Beach, armed with our picnic lunch, sand toys and boogie boards! If you see us, come over and say hi!

Please pop over to the official My Town Monday blog for links to more posts about little corners of the world.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Name a Character in the Mystery I'm Writing

Want to name a character in the young adult mystery I'm currently writing?! (Random House, 2013) Your name? Your friend's name? Your ex's name?!

The awesome Carrie Harris, author of the just-released zombie book, BAD TASTE IN BOYS, has put together an amazing online auction where ALL THE MONEY goes to the library at the University of Michigan's children's hospital. This library gives books to every inpatient child!

Which means when you bid on an auction item, you're donating to A REALLY GOOD CAUSE.

Here's a link to the over 80 items up for auction, including critiques, signed books, other neat stuff.

Here's a link to naming the character in my current work-in-progress. This auction item closes Monday, July 25 @ 4pm EST.

And, now, back to writing that book...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Child #3: Summer School Draws to a Close

Hurray! Today is the 2nd last day of summer school for Child #3 (15 year-old son). You may recall this ambitious child of mine wanted to get a Spanish class out of the way and ended up enrolling at a swanky private school in La Jolla.

I don't think I've ever mentioned that this same child designs t-shirts.

This is his most recent design. He wore it to summer school today.

After dinner tonight, he whipped up a couple more for fellow classmates who are PAYING HIM FOR THE T-SHIRTS! (Not much. Only $5. But still...his mother thinks these t-shirts should be gifts. Child #2 thinks his brother should charge more. Child #3 is standing firm at $5.)

To make a template, he cuts the picture out of a file folder. For a while he was using some old signs Home Depot gave him, but I guess he ran out. Then he stretches the t-shirt over a swimming kickboard, affixes the template to the t-shirt and spray paints.

Last week, Child #3 convinced his classmates to split the cost of an entire pizza pie instead of ordering individual slices. This saved $1 per student per day. (Perhaps the pizza savings are going toward the cost of the t-shirts. ;) )

I predict this creative, quick-thinking kid will go far!

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Town Monday: Reptile Love in San Diego, CA

This Monday sees Mr. Conehead and Fat Letta, our male and female veiled chameleons, sharing a cage and some romantic time together.

They usually live in separate cages, sans date nights or any other type of interactive behavior. Veileds are solitary creatures, and it stresses them to hang out too much together. In fact, it can stress them to the point that they stop eating! I'm sure I can make some kind of comparison with my own past dating life, but will refrain. :)

So, you're perhaps wondering how we know when to pluck Mr. Conehead from his cage to let him wander the branches of Fat Letta's abode. For us, it seems to be more an art than a science.

Apparently, Fat Letta sends out some pretty powerful pheromones. Last week, someone forgot to latch the door on Mr. Conehead's cage. When I went to spray him with water the next morning, he was nowhere to be found! Eventually, I looked up, up, up. There he was--perched on the very top of Fat Letta's cage! However, when I opened her cage door to let him in, she hissed and gaped at him. When Fat Letta gapes, she lunges at Mr. Conehead, her mouth wide open and her eyes wild. It is not an attractive sight and is even somewhat scary. Her gaping lets us know she has zero interest in entertaining Mr. Conehead. When Mr. Conehead realizes he's not welcome in Fat Letta's cage and is being banished to his bachelor pad, he gapes at me!

Following Mr. Conhead's escape, every couple of days or so, I hold him near Fat Letta to gauge her reaction. Eventually a day will come when she has no reaction. (Fat Letta is not the most demonstrative of women.) And that's when I place Mr. Conehead on a branch in her cage, then latch the door on the lovebirds.

If you look closely, you will see some beautiful turquoise spots on the lovely Letta. This is another sign that she's interested in spending time with Mr. Conehead.

I added some mood mist to the cage. Just kidding! It's just the mister which increases the humidity.

Wish us luck in our quest for a clutch of fertilized eggs.

I'm this week's hostess. If you throw up a My Town Monday post, let me know here or on the official My Town Monday blog, and I'l link to you on both. Have a great day!

Please check out these posts from other My Town Mondayers!

In celebration of this week's 42th anniversary of the Apollo moon walk, Jim Winter posts about Cincinnati's Neil Armstrong

From Dayton, OH, Jeannette Marie Powell posts about the BEST potato chips!

Clare2E of Women of Mystery has some fun menu items from a Mamaroneck, NY Mexican restaurant

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Child #4 and the Rancho Santa Fe Library Visit

The Rancho Santa Fe library visit went super well. This is a library that goes to a lot of trouble to put on a great event. I mean, just look at the sign. Too cute!

I took Child #4 (11 year old daughter) along with me. She took the photos. And helped me find the library (because she actually has a sense of direction!). And she helped with the technical junk (setting up the projector, speakers, etc.). Basically, the kid is indispensable. (Read the end of this post for her words of wisdom on the visit.)

The library put out a red carpet runway, decorated the room and tables, and provided glam sunglasses and other favors for the participants. Teen volunteers acted as servers and paparazzi. There was a raffle with lots of prizes.

You can see why I want every book I write to be celebrated at the RSF library!

I did a powerpoint and chatted about writing I SO DON'T DO FAMOUS. Since I visited Hollywood three times (my life is so hard!) to research this book, I have lots of photos and Hollywood/Beverly Hills stories.
This is a shot of one of the tables. I really enjoyed meeting readers and parents. It's quite the kick to meet in real life a tween who's been emailing about Sherry and gang. (Hello Maysen, Joy's granddaughters and Jim's wife and Clara). A special thank you to the people who drove from my town all the way to Rancho Santa Fe. And a huge thank you to Maddie for all the hard work she put into this event. Also, Librarian Debbie, you will be sorely missed (although we hope you enjoy your retirement)!

Conversation with Child #4 as I'm Tucking Her In That Night

Me: So, did I do okay today at the library?

Child #4: Yeah. You were good.

Me: Is it weird seeing me up there, talking in front of a crowd.

Child #4: It is weird.

Me: Weird embarrassing or weird cool?

Child #4: Definitely weird cool. (She pauses.) But I kind of wanted to say, "That's my mom. Why do you want her autograph?"

Tomorrow: brunch in La Jolla with the delightful Cindy Pon, YA author of SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX.

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Town Monday: Great Egrets in San Diego, CA

I planned to regale you with another post from the lovely La Jolla, CA where Child #3 attends Spanish class for 6 1/2 hours at a posh private school and Child #4 attends a variety of half-day summer activities. The mornings find me writing in a library or a coffee shop. During the afternoons, Child #4 and I browse the shops and/or buy our lunch at a local restaurant or bring a picnic for the beach.

HOWEVER, I was in LA all weekend at a water polo tournament with Child #3, and, after I dropped off the kids, I headed back home. Yes, it was a waste of time and gas, but I wanted to be in my own house with the dog and the chameleons.

We have a lot of birds in San Diego County. I took a picture of this egret from my backyard. I belive it's a Great Egret, not the Snowy Egret. When I zoomed in on the head, I could see a blue patch between its bill and eye, a marking of the Great Egret. The Snowy Egret is yellow between the bill and eyes. It's definitely not a Cattle Egret, which are not usually found close to water. You can't tell from this photo, but a creek runs nearby. You can see Cattle, Great, Reddish and Snowy Egrets in and around San Diego County.

A lot of our Great Egrets are merely visitors, but I've seen the one in the photograph several times now, so perhaps there's a nest of sticks lined with grass high up in a eucalyptus tree, maybe even one of our trees. I've also spotted several Great Egrets at, of all places, the industrial park where I pick up crickets for the chameleons!

Great Egrets mate for life and have developed an interesting parenting technique. The parents allow their chicks (there are usually three in a brood) to KILL each other! Yes, if there's a squabble over food, the parents let the kids duke it out, often resulting in death for the weaker chick(s). This would be like me exiting the room after tossing the last package of Girl Scout samoa cookies into the fray called my children!

In addition to dealing with negligent parenting, the chicks have an alarming habit of climbing out of the nest and plunging to their death! Quite frankly, it's a miracle I see any Great Egrets at all! Few of the chicks even make it to 6-7 weeks (when they're called fledgings).

Hope you had a great Monday! Down here, 7-11 stores give out free Icees on 7-11!

Edited to add: Thanks for all the emails about how the comment button wasn't working. Hopefully, she's good to go now. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Book Review Club (July 2011)

Good Wednesday morning to you all and welcome to the 31st meeting of The Book Review Club! It's been warm and humid here in So. Cal. Instead of the usual coffee and cookies, we're serving chilled fresh fruit salad and sparkling lemonade. Please note that Scott Parker is reviewing an adult western novel by our own David Cranmer writing as Edward A. Grainger! And, in attempt to mix things up a little, I'm turning today's review post over to Child #4 (my 11-year-old daughter) and her good friend, J, who both loved the following book.

THE CUPCAKE QUEEN by Heather Hepler

From When her mother moves them from the city to a small town to open up a cupcake bakery, Penny's life isn't what she expected. Her father has stayed behind, and Mom isn't talking about what the future holds for their family. And then there's Charity, the girl who plays mean pranks almost daily. There are also bright spots in Hog's Hollow - like Tally, an expert in Rock Paper Scissors, and Marcus, the boy who is always running on the beach. But just when it looks as though Penny is settling in, her parents ask her to make a choice that will turn everything upside down again. A sweet novel about love, creativity, and accepting life's unexpected turns.

The girls answered the following questions while...munching on cupcakes! This review is short and SWEET! :)

What did you like about this book?
J: It was my favorite type of genre--realistic fiction. I liked how it ended and came together.
#4: I liked how the characters interacted with each other. The book was very detailed, and this made me feel like I was in it.

What was your favorite scene in the book?
J: The mean girl's birthday party because her mom got splattered with watermelon and cupcakes.
#4: Ditto.

How does it relate to your life?
#4: I bake cupcakes. Also, the town Penny moves to reminds of where my grandparents live.
J: There's always a mean girl who thinks she's all that.

Both girls own The Cupcake Queen and plan to re-read it. And that's a great compliment!

And, now, onto the wonderful reviews prepared by our wonderful reviewers. Please click through and enjoy!


Jody Feldman: JEREMY BENDER VS. THE CUPCAKE CADETS by Eric Luper (middle grade)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: FAIRY BAD DAY by Amanda Ashby (young adult)

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness (young adult, entire Chaos Walking trilogy is reviewed)


Beth Yarnall: YOURS TO KEEP by Shannon Stacey (romance)

Kaye of the Road Goes Ever Ever On: THE WINTER SEA by Susanna Kearsley (historial)

Patti Abbott: THE PACK by Jason Starr

Kathy Holmes: AN INCONVENIENT WIFE by Megan Chance (women's fiction)

Scott Parker: ADVENTURES OF CASH LARAMIE AND GIDEON MILES by Edward A. Grainger (western)

Linda McLaughlin: SILENT IN THE GRAVE, SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY, SILENT ON THE MOOR by Deanna Raybourn (3 Lady Julia Grey historial mysteries)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: SPIDERWEB by Earlene Fowler (mystery)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Town Monday: Supporting the Locals in San Diego, CA

What does San Diego have in common with Seattle and Portland?

We have a bunch of microbreweries!

And what does Via Moto, the new Italian restaurant that opened June 15 in my neck of the woods, have in common with Seattle and Portland?

They serve a bunch of microbrewed beers!

SEVEN of the beers on tap at Via Moto are brewed locally. And the restaurant offers samples. So, if you don't know if you want a beer from Mira Mesa versus a beer from Escondido, well, you can take them both for a test drive (taste drive :) ).

The food was yummy, and the prices are good. I had a roasted-veggie salad. But next time I'm going for the thin-crust Marguerite Pizza. I'll be choosing the whole-wheat option. Also, it's a casual restaurant and kid friendly. You can dine inside or on the patio. You can order at the counter or sit at a table for full service. Rumor has it live music on the patio is in the future.

Here's a bench (one of several areas) studded with tiles decorated by students at local schools. Too cute!

Via Moto is at 9331 Mission Gorge Road, Santee, CA; (619) 328-0434. No one paid me to write this post. I was just impressed with the restaurant and figured I'd use the blog for good instead of evil on this glorious July 4th. :)

AND SPEAKING OF SUPPORTING LOCALS...I'll be at the Santee Public Library, my home library (9225 Carlton Hills Blvd, Santee, CA 92071, 619-448-1863) tomorrow July 5th from noon to 1pm. There'll be an entertaining authors' panel with yours truly and Cindy Pon (and you know how much I love that Young Adult author!), fellow Delacorte Press author Kirsten Hubbard (whom I'm dying to meet), Adult and Middle Grade author Greg van Eekhout (whom I've "author-paneled" with before. He's hilarious.) On top of all this, the library is providing a FREE lunch! And, yes, books will be for sale.

Please click here for links to more My Town Monday posts! It's always fun to see what's going on in other corners of the world. Happy Fourth!