Friday, July 30, 2010

Random Answers

First, I want to thank everyone who asked questions. I've decided to split the answers into two parts: random questions and writing/story questions. I also want to thank Krista, Q, Sue, and Susan for volunteering information about themselves. I've never made a chocolate souffle, and now I need to watch The Return of the King - at least the part where Eowyn challenges the Lord of the Nazgul. But I'm getting distracted. I was about to give you some random answers.

Krista asked, "Who is your favorite Muppet?

While I post more videos featuring Beaker,

my favorite would be Gonzo.

Q asked, "If you were a kitchen utensil, which would you be?"

Our freshman year of college, we actually had a poster over our couch that featured our personified utensils. Mine was the whip. It's versatile, and nothing does sauce quite like a whip. ;o)

Storyqueen asked, "Cake or pie?"

Pie, especially now that peaches are in season, I love peach custard pie.

Jackee said, "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I've one: How did you meet your husband?"

This is actually a fascinating story (blood, ER, late-night card games, love triangles), but it's long, and I'm not willing to post the whole thing on the internet (because it involves people I want to still like me). To make a long story short, it all started with a dare (that involved me) and a passing flirtation (that did not). I became friends with Ben's cousin/roommate that night because he said something to me in Spanish as I was leaving, and I answered him. It's funny how something so small can affect your whole life. If Jeff hadn't said those six words in Spanish, we wouldn't have become friends, and I doubt I'd have ever met Ben. That would have been a shame. It's been almost 13 years since the night I met his cousin, and we'll have been married for 12 in December.

Sue asked, "Question for you is, since you like Coldplay, what do you think of Gwynneth Paltrow, the lead singer's spouse?"

I'm afraid I don't know enough about her to have an opinion. I'm terrible with most celebrities.

Emily asked, "So did you name your baby after Gwynneth Paltrow?"

No, Gwenyth is an old family name on Ben's side of the family. His mom's dad was Welsh.

She also asked, " come you are so amazing??!! :)"

Is this where I confess to stealing magical vegetables* from your garden? No, you may not have my first born, but you're welcome to borrow her. :o)

Al asked, "Did you think you would get any questions you couldn't or wouldn't answer?"

No, but I could have spent an entire post or more answering each of Jackee's questions. That said, I'm happy with the questions that were asked and grateful to all of you for caring. Thank you!

*Emily has an AMAZING garden with gigantic vegetables, but I don't have to steal them. She shares.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I've never dedicated a post to letting you ask questions, but I've also never added this many followers in so short a time. And while I'd love to think I impressed you with my fantastic interviews, I know most of you hit the follow button because you wanted the books (who wouldn't) and probably the Nutella.

So, if you're new or old to my blog, ask me anything (as long as it's G-rated), and I'll give you an answer. I'd also love to hear something, anything, about you.

It's easy. I'll start by telling you that I like Coldplay and Muppets. I even like them together.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Contest Winner and Nutella Recipe

First, Krista interviews agents on her blog every week, and this week's agent is Kate Testerman, the agent who signed Stephanie Perkins. It's a great interview. Krista also links to all of her past interviews in her sidebar.

Second, after my interview with Stephanie, I went looking for a banana Nutella crepe recipe. I haven't made it yet, but this one includes a recipe for Nutella. If you have a jar of Nutella, the rest of the recipe looks easy, but a recipe for Nutella. I know: focus, Myrna, focus.

But have you TRIED Nutella? The first time I had it, I was having afternoon tea with my cousins and their friends in Switzerland, the summer before I started high school. We spread it on Petit-Beurre biscuits, and this is still my favorite way to eat the spread. Though I can never find the french biscuits here, there are latino equivalents (or near equivalents). Our local grocery store carries Gamesa's Marias for less than a dollar a package. I also like Nutella with bananas.

I would love for you to tell me your favorite way to eat Nutella in the comments. Sil vous plait.

And now, the contest winner is …

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Molly gave me permission to use this twitpic she made. Isn't it perfect?

(But I have to tell you: all three of my children were intrigued by the amount of time I spent cutting paper into strips and writing names on the bitty entries today. They wanted to help, so I let each of them pick three papers, and then I picked the winner from the ones they picked.)

 … Molly!

The crazy thing: she made the picture, and I asked her permission to use it before I drew her name. And no, I don't know her at all. She just left a link in her comment.

Congratulations, Molly! Thank you, everyone, for entering and for your lovely comments about our interviews and the books. I hope you all read and enjoy them!

BTW - I won't be around the blogosphere much for the next week. My husband's little sister is getting married on Tuesday, and their parents are coming home from Prague for a week. We're exited to see them. And my laptop is having issues. I'm hoping to get it fixed soon.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kiersten White: Paranormal Creatures and Steph's Celebrity Boyfriends

There are only three more books coming out this year that I'm dying to read, and PARANORMALCY, by Kiersten White is one of them. I have a little over a month to wait (unless I win an ARC somewhere). Don't get me wrong: there are others that look interesting, and I'll read them, but …


Isn't this a great cover? I've never used an official book description on my blog before because I like to explain why I loved a book when I recommend it. However, seeing as I haven't actually read this one, I borrowed the following description from GoodReads.

Sixteen-year-old Evie's job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone--or something--starts taking out the vamps, werewolves, and other odd beasties she's worked hard to help become productive members of society, she's got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal. 

Normal is so overrated.

Tell me I'm not the only one who gets excited just reading the description. And to further tantalize you, I have a short quote from the book to help you get a feel for Evie, the main character.

"You aren't going to kill us?" the speaker asked, eyeing me suspiciously.

"Why does everyone keep asking me that?" Seriously, did I look like some sort of psycho assassin? Maybe it was the pink sneakers. Or the heart earrings?

Now you know why something pink and/or sparkly will be part of the giveaway. I just haven't found the right something yet. And to go with the pink and sparkly theme - for the interview - Kiersten's answers will be highlighted in pink.

What's the best part of having Steph for a critique partner?

Partnering with someone so much more talented than myself is an excellent way to stay humble.

Seriously though (which isn't to say that the previous statement wasn't serious), Steph is an incredible editor. She loves reading, and she loves teenagers, and she loves love and relationships and BOYS. She has an incredible talent for taking your manuscript each time she reads it and, no matter where it is, pointing out what needs to happen for it to reach the next level. She never tries to make it her own, just helps me figure out how to refine what I already have and somehow make it even more my story than it was before.

I fully credit her editorial advice with pushing me to the the point where I was good enough to get published. So if you hate my book, please blame her. It's all Steph's fault.

But aside from the fact that she is a brilliant writer and an incredible critique partner, Steph is one of the most genuinely kind and generous people I know. There is nothing about her that isn't delightful, and I don't know where I would have been without her friendship during these last couple of very crazy years. I feel very, very lucky that we found each other. And while I can't get a tattoo of her name for religious reasons, I may very well try and adopt her one of these days.

I know that Evie's favorite color is pink, but what's her favorite food?

You know, I'm not much of a food person. (I say, after desperately scouring the house for something--ANYTHING--salty, please for the love I need a snack.) I notice these gorgeous, food-related passages in other books, but I never seem to have any in mine.

That being said, Evie has a special affection for a certain pizza place's greasy, gooey cheese pizza, since she ate it on one of the best days of her life.

Does she have a favorite paranormal creature at the beginning of the story?

Absolutely! Although there's no love lost between Evie and vampires, she completely adores Lish, IPCA's main coordinator and Evie's foul-mouthed mermaid best friend.

Evie also happens to have a least favorite paranormal. That would be Reth, her faerie ex-boyfriend with some personal space issues.

Myself? I like Reth a lot more than Evie does...he's PRETTY.

How did you end up married to a part-vampire?

After living for two years in Romania and Transylvania, Hot Stuff came home with a few new...personality traits he was missing before. That first time I met him, when he looked up and his huge blue eyes met mine, that was it for me--that was all it took.

Thinking back on it now, I probably should have suspected something supernatural about it. No one should have eyes that enchanting! Still, I have no regrets, and our quarter-vampire children are incredibly beautiful and also sun-resistant. Although my son *is* slowly sucking the life from me by waking me up every single night in the middle of the night...

How many of Steph's celebrity boyfriends have you met, and which one is your favorite?

Most of them have been by at one point or another, although they don't ever stay with us because they miss their custom bunk-beds at Steph's house too much. Also, we don't have a Nintendo 64, which means they all fight over who gets to play games on the computer, and of course my kids fight with them too, and it's a big mess that ends in me sending everyone to time out and then giving up and taking us all out for ice cream and the beach.

Anyway...James McAvoy was one of the first things Steph and I bonded over. He's really a lovely person, although he's constantly losing his passport and calling us in a panic. He stops by when he's in California and we chat about our mutual adoration of Steph. But don't leave any chocolate out when he's around, because he's a notorious sugar-thief. His emails are nearly incoherent, but we don't much care because we mostly just like listening to him talk.

So he's probably my favorite, but I'm actually prouder of Lee Pace--did you know I introduced them? Lee and I had been friends for a while (since I started watching Pushing Daisies and decided we had to be friends) and I kept catching him reading Steph's blog--for hours on end--and pouring over my emails with Steph, smiling that sweet smile of his over her funny things and getting really stressed out and worried when she was having a bad day. So finally I forced him to just get on a plane and go see her. He was so nervous! But of course all went well and he's blissfully happy to be part of the Celebrity Boyfriends staff.

Really, they're all lovely people, as you'd expect anyone who loves Steph to be. Except I'm kind of terrified of Thom Yorke.

Yes, Thom Yorke can be a bit intimidating. My favorite is Chris Martin. He had Steph send me butterflies from one of his concerts because he knew I was a fan. I appreciated the thought, and I appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions, Kiersten! I love reading your blog, and I can't wait to get to know Evie!

If anyone would like an extra contest entry, just leave a comment on this post. I'll make sure it goes in the drawing. And if you missed my contest post and interview with Stephanie Perkins, there's still time to read it and enter. The contest closes this Thursday, Midnight PST.

And I just remembered I have dinner in the oven. Be glad you're not eating at my house tonight.

Contest Clarification and Related Links

Thanks for all of your comments and for spreading the word about last week's contest. I know I shouldn't be amazed by the response (because Steph and Kiersten are that cool), but I can't help it; I've never had this kind of response to a book giveaway. You guys are awesome!

There have been some  questions in the comments and some comments that have made me realize I need to clarify a few points.

l.   The book portion of this contest is now open internationally (Thanks, Ruth and Stella!) to anyone living in a countries on The Book Depository's list of countries they'll ship to for free. The list is impressive, so I'm hoping it includes everyone. But I'm not shipping the Nutella, sparklies, ect. overseas. The books are the cool part anyway, right?

2. Two of these books aren't out yet. I know. I'm as bummed about this as anyone. I'm giving away pre-orders of PARANORMALCY and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. GOOD NIGHT, GOOD KNIGHT will ship immediately (as soon as I place the order), but PARANORMALCY comes out August 31st, and you'll have to wait until December 2nd for ANNA.

In light of this, I've search out contests where bloggers are giving away advance reader copies (because you all "can't wait" to read them. However, *giving you my sternest mock stern look* this does not excuse you from reading the interview I'll be posting with Miss Kiersten White, especially since I'll award extra entries to anyone who comments on said interview.

You have until July 15th to enter this one, but I'm sure you'll want to pop over now. In addition to a PARANORMALCY ARC, The Undercover Book Lover is giving away ARCs of NIGHTSHADE, by Andrea Cremer, THE ETERNAL ONES, by Kirsten Miller, HALO, by Alexandra Adornetto, and PEGASUS, by Robin McKinley. PARANORMALCY and PEGASUS? I'm SO entering this one. She's also giving away five packs of 5 gum: Zing (Bubble), Cobalt (Peppermint), Flare (Cinnamon), Lush (Tropical) and Rain (Spearmint). This one is open internationally.

Kiersten White is also giving away an ARC of PARANORMALCY (open internationally), along with some other highly coveted ARCs and goodies (not open internationally). I also intend to enter this one before the July 24th deadline.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone giving away an ARC of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. Hopefully, people will be more likely to part with their copies as they get closer to the book's release date.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments. I'll have my interview with Kiersten up in the next 24 hours.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Boy, I Mean Book Recommendation and Giveaway

Set in a boarding school in Paris, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS made me think of college almost as much as I thought of high school. Though, mostly, the humor reminded me of friends from high school. It's interesting how some books bring up memories and get me thinking about decisions I've made in my life. This was one of THOSE books. 
Anna and the French Kiss
Anna has already garnered happy blurbs and reviews, and I agree with what authors and book people have said so far. You DON'T want to miss out on Etienne St. Clair, the laugh out loud humor, or the characters. Oh, how I fell in love with these characters, especially Anna, Etienne, and Mer. The writing, character depth, imagery, and the honesty with which Stephanie Perkins handled *mature content should make this novel literary, but then there are so many fun parts that had me belly laughing and reading out loud to my husband. I've never read a book that made me laugh and ache for the characters of a story the way this one did. 

To better acquaint you with the author (because, seriously, Steph is a riot), I asked her some questions. My questions are still in black, but I've colored her answers blue. :o)

How long have you had blue stripes in your hair, and is there a story behind them?

Two and a half years!  There's not a story-story behind them, but they arrived in my life during a time in which I found myself asking on a daily basis, "If not now, then when?"  Blue hair was something I'd long admired (Clementine in Eternal Sunshine, Billie Joe Armstrong in the Dookie days, Gwen Stefani), but redheads (my natural color) are so DEFINED by their hair, that I was too afraid to change it for years.  But one day it hit me: it's just hair.  It'll grow back.

Not surprisingly, this "If not now, then when?" period was the same time I finished my first full-length novel, which was Anna.  Perhaps I can chalk everything up to a mid-twenties life crisis.

How many years did you spend researching HBM (Hot British Males) to come up with THE BOY?

Oh, man.  How much do I love this question?

I suppose my interest in HBM . . . exploded in early high school, during the two years in which the only music I listened to was The Beatles.  "Obsessed" does not properly do justice to how I felt about them.  It turned me into an Anglophile, and after that, there was no looking back.  I have watched a LOT of BBC programming.

Étienne St. Clair was a surprise.  He came to me in a dream — French name, English accent, American school — and I was extremely thrown that this FRENCH thing had been tossed in!  Why on Earth was I dreaming about FRANCE?  I'm pretty sure my subconscious gave him an English accent, because it knew I would have dismissed the dream without it.  But he arrived fully formed, and the story grew organically from what I knew about him, so . . . yeah.  My years of HBM research had finally paid off!

What is your favorite place in Paris?

THE WHOLE CITY.  I have happy memories in all of the neighborhoods!  But it's probably a tie between two places featured in Anna — the Panthéon, because that's where my idea for the story began (THE BOY was sitting on the steps), and Point Zéro (a star that marks the center of France), because that's what tied everything together.  Both places have become rather spiritual for me.  But the *coolest* places in Paris are Père Lachaise, a gigantic crazy beautiful cemetery, and the catacombs.  One made it into Anna, and the other is in Book Three.

Your favorite food?

To keep with the Parisian theme, banana Nutella street crêpes!  Delicious melty goodness.

And (since I'm giving away copies of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and PARANORMALCY) how did you become critique partners with Kiersten White?

We met after I signed with my agent, Kate Schafer Testerman.  Kate keeps a fantastic blog [] and had announced me as a new client.  Kiersten followed Kate's link, and my "I have an agent!" post made her laugh.  She commented and made ME laugh, and we probably commented back and forth on each other's blogs a dozen times in the first day or two of knowing each other.  Dozens (now thousands) of emails rapidly followed, and it was just one of those instant, easy friendships.  I'm often reminded of this really sweet White Stripes song in which Jack sings, "I can tell that we are going to be friends."

It was like that.  We could tell.

Being critique partners followed naturally.  I feel lucky that I met her while she was working on Paranormalcy, because it's such a hilarious, romantic, special story!  The bulk of Anna was done — it was waiting for my editor's touch — so Kiersten's influence has been greatest on my second novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door.  There is absolutely no way I would have finished it without her.

We work well together, because our writing styles are complementary.  Kiersten is the fastest, smartest thinker I know.  She writes novels quickly, and she's a great plotter.  I'm nitpicky and detail-oriented.  It takes me a long time to write a good draft.  So Kiersten is great at moving my stories forward, and I'm good at building her stories up.

My husband has joked that one day I'll get a tattoo of her name.  He's not that far off.

Thanks for such awesome questions!!  It's ALWAYS a pleasure talking to you, Myrna.

Thanks for answering my questions, Steph, and for writing such an amazing book! You can learn more about Stephanie Perkins at her website. I've been fan-girling her blog for a few years now; the girl, she makes me laugh, and I love her taste in music, movies, art, and books.

And now for the giveaway part: one lucky commenter will win pre-orders for ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, by Stephanie Perkins and PARANORMALCY, by Kiersten White. 
I will also throw in one of these lovely ANNA bookmarks, 

a jar of Nutella, something pink and/or sparkly to go with Kiersten's book, and GOOD NIGHT, GOOD KNIGHT, by Shelley Moore Thomas, because it's a great book, and I'd rather pay for another great book than shipping.
Good Night, Good Knight (Easy-to-Read, Puffin)
The contest is open until Midnight PST on Thursday, July 15th. I'll post the winner on Friday. You don't have to be a follower to enter, but do let me know in the comments. Also, I'll throw in three extra entries to commenters who leave a link to their blog post, FB, or Twitter about this contest (for as many links as you leave for me to check out). Capiche? Yes, I know that's the wrong language, but Mer would approve.

Thanks for reading my very long recommendation/fan-girly-gushing. I love finding books that make me want to gush. I'll be posting Kiersten's interview next week, but she has a great blog post up today, if you'd like to know more about her.

*I'm squeamish about swearing and well, anything that would give a movie a Restricted rating. If you know me, you know this already. When I say mature content, I don't mean offensive content; I mean realistic content. Steph's book doesn't skirt around the way teenagers interact with each other or the consequences of the characters' actions. I liked that. I also liked that I didn't have to feel guilty or dirty about reading it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sprouting, Stop Animation, and Addition

I agreed to post a picture of the snake and dragon sprouts (mung bean and lentil sprouts) I mentioned in a previous post, so here they are. Fierce looking, aren't they? 

As for instructions, you need a mason jar, some cheese cloth to go over the opening, and a rubber band to keep it in place. You can pick up organic seed to sprout at most health food stores.

Soak the seeds overnight. Rinse and drain two or three times a day, and you can start eating them in a few days. I keep mine right by the kitchen sink to remind me to rinse them, and I haven't had any problems with mold. But then, I live in an extremely dry climate. Good luck!

I'm not qualified to teach anyone how to do stop animation, but I saw this video over on Laini Taylor's blog and had to share it.

And how many of you doodle on your numbers and letters until they turn into people or creatures? It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one who thinks the number four has a really big nose.

BTW- I'll be discussing and giving away a pair of exciting debut novels this month, hopefully within the next week. :o)

And I have no idea why two paragraphs of this post have a white background or how to get rid of it. It's never happened before, but I'm not sure I can blame it on Blogger (I left the computer unattended for a bit, and I do have three kids). If any of you know how to get rid of the background and would like to help me out, I'm all ears. Thanks!

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's Raining Cupcakes

I won a copy of IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, by Lisa Schroeder, from Lisa and Laura a while back, and it warrants a recommendation. This middle grade novel is a delicious combination of baking, important relationships, art, and wanting. The main character wants to travel, and she wants her mom … well, I think I'll let you read that part. I loved the characters. The plot was flawless, and it's been kid tested and approved by Robyn and two of my nieces.

I haven't tried either of the recipes in the back yet, but I will. I'm thinking the author should write a companion cookbook because each of the chapters has it's own cupcake, and then there's, THE recipe. You'll know what I mean, if you read it.

Anywho, I'm not willing to give up my copy of IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, but Shannon Messenger is giving away a signed one on her blog.