The #LakeUnionAuthors Giveaway Winners!!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in last night’s #lakeunionauthors Twitter party and entered my giveaway. It was fun to read about your teen-idol crushes!

I was so thrilled with the response that I doubled the number giveaway copies from two to four. The four winners are:

Terry P.

Aisha T.

Cori R.

Lee E.

If you’re a winner, please email me ( with your mailing address and which format you’d prefer — audiobook or paperback.

For those who didn’t win, I’m running another giveaway next month. To enter, simply “like” my Facebook author page (

Thanks again, and please stay in touch. Would love to hear about books you’re reading, authors you love, and book-related websites you visit!




GIVEAWAY! March 7th from 7:30 – 9:00 PM!

Hi All! In honor of tonight’s Live Twitter Chat with my fellow Lake Union Publishing authors and me, I’m giving away ONE FREE SIGNED PAPERBACK COPY AND ONE AUDIOBOOK COPY OF THE LAST DREAMER! 

Just leave a comment here (Click on the “bubble” above to post your comment) with the name of your favorite teen idol, past or present!

And don’t forget to join the Twitter chat this evening. Use the hashtag #LakeUnionAuthors to be sure the authors see your posts!

Good Luck!

Why Do We Love Teen Idols? (Hint: It’s Not the Talent)

Not too long ago, I happened to watch an Oprah interview with Rob Lowe, which coincided with the publication of Lowe’s second memoir, Love Life. At one point, Oprah asks Lowe, a one-time teen idol, what he thinks about Justin Bieber.

““I have tremendous empathy,” Lowe says. “He makes really good music, but I think he knows the dark secret. And the dark secret is that 80% of his audience doesn’t give a shit about the music. He knows it. It bums him out.”

He continues to say when the girls scream and sigh, “it has nothing to do with what he’s doing as an artist. He is the guy who is standing in front of them at a moment that they’re going through a developmental thing. And it’s natural, it’s all great, but if it wasn’t him, it’d be somebody else. Like it was me.”

I thought this was an incredibly honest and insightful realization — and I was struck by it because it dovetails with something I’ve been working on.

You see, I recently completed my first novel, which revolves around a journalist who is struggling to come to terms with events in her life, when she gets the chance to interview  the teen idol she once adored.

At one point, he opens up to her about the time when his popularity first started to wane. “You didn’t need me anymore,” he says, talking about her and all the millions of girls like her who once worshipped him. “You all just left me. Do you know how that felt?”

“We didn’t mean it,” the journalist tentatively explains, recognizing the absurdity for apologizing for a whole generation of females. “We just had to get on with our lives.”

Funny, we all think of celebrities as  the big winners in the celebrity-fan relationship. After all, they get the money, they get the fame, they get the applause, they get the ego-stroking. But the truth is, we — and by “we,” I mean anyone who ever got dreamy-eyed over David Cassidy, Davy Jones, Rick Springfield, Nick Carter, Rob Lowe, or any of the heartthrobs who came after them — we used them. We used them to learn about love and loyalty and passion. We used them to learn about ourselves and all we were capable of doing in pursuit of strong and wonderful feelings. And then we let them go.

No wonder they fall apart when we leave them. It’s like someone’s worst rejection — a gazillion times over.

So it’s nice to see that as he enters his fifties, Rob Lowe can look back with some perspective. He’s absolutely right about us. And I, for one, am grateful he was there.




Can a Good Writer Make a Story Out of Anything?

A few years ago,  I got a great assignment from the editor of a website devoted to religion. She had identified seven key ethical values — empathy, compassion, spirituality and a few others — and she wanted me to create a kind of grid showing how each of these values develop in children, with boxes for infancy, toddlerhood, preschool-age kids, middle-grades kids, and teens.

Now, it was pretty easy to find experts on and research about how children of all ages demonstrate values like empathy and compassion. Studies show, for example, that even very young babies will cry when they see another baby crying. But there was simply no evidence, no studies, no nothing – at least not back then — to show that babies can feel spiritual. I contacted child-development scientists and authors at major research universities and facilities, and got the same answer: Spirituality develops later.

So I finally called my editor, who dismissed my concerns. “Come on now,” she said condescendingly. “You know as well as I do that a good writer can make a story about anything.”

I was speechless. My first thought was that I couldn’t believe what she was saying.

My second thought was that she was right.

More recently, I took my daughter and her friend to a classical music concert at a local community center, and was approached by a reporter and cameraman from a local TV station. The reporter held the mike to my face and asked why I had decided to come out with young children on such a cold, dark night.

“I knew the music would be beautiful, and I wanted to enjoy it with them,” I said.

“Did you come to be part of the great community spirit here tonight?”

“No,” I said. “I just wanted to hear the music.”

“But would you agree that there’s a wonderful feeling of community, with so many people from town coming together?”

“I guess,” I said. “But we came for the music.”

Not surprisingly, when I saw this story on the local news the next night, I was not part of it. Instead, there were a bunch of people talking about — what else? — community.

As for my story, I went back to my old sources, found some new sources, stressed that I needed something, and finally was able to weave together a few vague sentences that linked babies and spirituality, albeit with the thinnest of threads. I never wrote again for that website.

Sure, I guess a good writer can make a story out of anything.

Just not sure I want to be that writer.

Writers and Daydreams

Last winter, we were driving along an endless stretch of highway on our way to the Poconos for a vacation, when my husband started asking me about some home repairs we were planning.

“Stop, wait,” I said, holding the palm of my hand up toward him. “I can’t talk right now. I’m working.”

He laughed and shook his head as he turned his eyes back toward the road. He knew exactly what I meant. I was working with some characters on a scene.

Specifically, I was watching what my main character was going to do with her cell phone to ensure that she wouldn’t answer it during lunch. You see, I had recently begun working on a novel I had put away for a few years ago, back when cell phones were still a novelty. In my original manuscript, my main characters sneaks off to New York for an afternoon to have lunch with a secret acquaintance, but comes back to serious consequences because her kids were not able to reach her. These days, however, they could just call her on her cellphone. So I needed to find a way she could still be unavailable.

In my head, I watched her forget her cell phone on the kitchen counter as she leaves the house. But no, I thought, that would be totally out of character, as she never takes it out of her purse. I watched her grab for a different purse for this special lunch–but then she’d have to transfer her wallet to the new purse, and she’d clearly transfer her cell phone as well. Could she accidentally turn her phone off? I gave that one a try — but when I watched her do that, it didn’t feel real. She’s a pretty intentional kind of person, and she doesn’t make careless, accidental mistakes.

Put it on mute? Maybe. I saw her stop in front of the restaurant, open the purse, find her cellphone, and purposefully turn off the sound. But why would she do that? She wasn’t expecting any calls, and if her kids were to call her, it would be because of any emergency, and she’d want to answer. Although… how about if she didn’t hear the phone? Say her purse was on the floor and the restaurant was one of those loft-type spaces with background noise, and she had a little buzz because she wasn’t used to drinking wine at lunch and she was really into her lunch companion? Now, that could work, I thought, as I sat back and watched her sip her Pinot Grigio.

The two-hour road trip ended in a flash, and as our car pulled up in front of our hotel, I put my character away. I wasn’t quite done with her, but that was okay. I would no doubt visit with her again before the day was over.

I daydream all the time. I’m constantly living in my head. Sometimes I do it on purpose, and sometimes it happens on its own. But either way, it’s far from a burden; in fact, I really enjoy it. When I’m watching TV and the commercials come on, I play a scene out. When I’m on line at the grocery store, I listen to dialogue. When I’m walking at the track, I’m writing an article, envisioning the anecdote I’m telling or just watching the words on an imaginary magazine page. I read them to myself, change a word here or there, and then read it over again a few times to memorize it, so I can write it down later (although it never sounds as good on paper as it did in my head).

At the gym last week while panting in step class, I watched a juicy scene from a new story I may write. I pictured a campfire burning on a warm spring evening when my heroine learns that the man she loves is engaged to someone else. I saw her lean against a tree and look into the night sky. I heard the guy walk up behind her and plead with her to trust him and give him a chance to straighten out his life. Is he persuasive? I watched the scene over and over, changing his words, lengthening his pauses, adding gestures that would make both my heroine and me believe that yes, he is worth waiting for.

I daydream sometimes when I’m having coffee with someone who’s launched into a blow-by-blow description of the fight she just had with her boss, mother, or Cablevision agent. I can do this, you see, because I’ve acquire the ability to snap back into the conversation when I sense that an important part is coming. Usually I’m pretty good at getting the gist of the conversation. I may miss the details, but at least my friend has gotten everything off her chest and I’m not jumping out of my skin.

I daydream sometimes when I’m supposed to be listening to my kids, nodding so they won’t catch on. But they do. They’re not fooled. They know I’m somewhere else. They get really mad.

My husband, on the other hand, just smiles and shakes his head and lets me be until I’m ready to rejoin him. Now, that’s gotta be love.