Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Austin Teen Book Festival

In the central Texas area? Love young adult literature? Well be sure to put the Austin Teen Book Festival on your calendar! The festival is Saturday October 1st from 10AM to 5PM at the Palmer Events Center in downtown Austin. This year the festival is bigger and better than ever with almost 30 authors! The authors are:

Scott Westerfeld
Heather Brewer
Jenny Han
Coe Booth
David Levithan
Maureen Johnson
Jackson Pearce
Alyson Noel
Gabrielle Zevin
Margo Rabb
Mary Pearson
Jessica Brody
Alexandra Ardonetto
Cristina Garcia
Simone Elkeles
Stephanie Perkins
Jennifer Ziegler
Christina Mandelski
Varian Johnson
John Cory Whaley
Melissa Walker
Geoff Herbach
Tera Lynn Childs
Sophie Jordan
Andrea Cremer
Jonathan Maberry
Brain Yansky
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Rosemary Clement Moore

The festival is FREE to everyone, no need to sign up in advance!

Parking at the Palmer Events Center is in their garage and is $7 a day, so remember to bring cash to park, or carpool!

Lunch will also be sold at the festival, so remember to bring some cash for that as well (or bring your own lunch!) and also remember to bring money to buy books!

To keep up with the latest info, be sure to follow ATBF on twitter at @AustinTBF or on their Facebook page.

ATBF is also looking for volunteers! Even if you're only able to give a few hours of your time, it would help them out so much. If you're interested, please email and they'll get you set up.

I, of course, will be there! Let me know if you'll be there too! And if you see me, please stop and say hello!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Those who follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook know I got braces (for the third time) last week. I was going to blog about it here, but I didn't think everyone would appreciate all the teeth talk and pictures, so I set up a Tumblr account to keep up with my progress. I'll post a picture of my teeth every Monday so I can see how they change over time. If you'd like to keep up with it (and aren't grossed out by teeth or annoyed by me complaining about how much my teeth hurt), my Tumblr is

And now my question for you is: Have you ever had braces? What's your story? I think we all have a braces story. If you'd like to read mine, it's the first entry on my Tumblr page, but I want to hear yours! Leave your story for me in the comments.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fired Up Friday

Hello and happy Friday to you all, dear readers! Here are a few things that have inspired me/got me fired up this week. Hope you enjoy! And please let me know in the comments what you've seen/read/heard this week that's inspired you.

Y'all know I love owls, and this one is just the cutest ever!

I found this fashion/makeup/hair blog and I love her, especially in this picture. I'm hoping to figure out how to braid my hair like this.

I love these nails, so much so that I even tried the polka dots on my own nails. I think they turned out okay considering it was my first try!

For a tutorial, click here.

And lastly, this video is a much watch for any Harry Potter fan. I won't tell you what it's about, just watch it. Trust me, you'll thank me later.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Camp NaNoWriMo

For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. In short, you write a novel (or at least 50,000 words on a novel) in a one month span. NaNoWriMo takes place every November, and I've never been able to participate because of the holidays and being out of town to visit our family.

Well this year they changed things up a bit and did something called Camp NaNoWriMo, which is the same thing as NaNoWriMo, just set in the summer (hence the summer camp theme). I stupidly decided last minute on July 30th that I was going to participate. Why? I honestly have no idea. I was a little over halfway finished with my second round of edits on the contemporary manuscript I was working on and wasn't planning on starting anything new until I got finished with that. But on August 1st I found myself starting a new story and putting my edits on hold.

This story flowed like no other that I have ever written. It seriously seemed to take over my thoughts, my actions, my life. I found myself writing much more than the daily quota needed to "win" at the end of the month. And I was totally okay with that. It was like I couldn't tell the story fast enough. Sometimes I'd check my word count at the end of the day and see that I had written over 4K for that particular day, but it didn't seem like I'd written hardly anything at all.

Last night I hit the 50K mark, thus "winning" my first NaNoWriMo. I am pleased as punch. I never thought I'd be able to write a nearly completed novel in less than a month. Never. This whole experience has taught me so much about writing, and about myself. I see how that I wasn't writing nearly as much per day as I could have been. Sure, I was still writing, but I never seemed to get anywhere with my story. I see now that it can be done, it can be accomplished, it just takes a lot of work and self discipline.

I took today off from writing after writing literally every day for 24 days straight, and it felt weird. I felt almost lost, like I had no idea what to do with my day. But I do think my brain needed a day off to rest. My new goal starting next week is to write (or edit) 2,000 words a day at least four days a week. I will take weekends off, because it'll be nice to have a break and I need one day out of the week to get all my errands/appointments done, but I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to write 8K a week. None. The only thing that has been holding me back was laziness and excuses.

So my question to you is, what's holding you back? What excuses are you making to not write that novel you've always wanted to write? Because I promise you, if I can do this, anybody can. Including you.

(Also a special thank you to my NaNo "cabin mates" Carolyn, Jackson, Kate, and Natasha. You have all been such an inspiration to me this past month, thank you for helping me stay motivated and keeping my tummy full on virtual smores.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fired Up Friday

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a lovely week and have an even lovelier weekend planned. It's quite hot here (high of 106 degrees today, YUCK!) so we'll be stuck inside as always.

Here's my Fired Up Friday for this week. Don't know what Fired Up Friday is? (Where have you been? Kidding, I won't judge you. Much.) FUF happens every Friday here on my blog. I post things that have inspired me over the last week, whether they're a picture, song lyric, etc. Here's the things that have inspired me the most this week:

I love these lamps!

One of my all time favorite quotes, from Walt Disney

Don't you love this tree?

I got the Christina Perri album this week and I've been listening to it on repeat pretty much every day, all day. Here is a video of one of my favorite songs from the album called The Lonely. Both the video and the lyrics are beautiful and haunting. I especially love this line:
Broken pieces of
A barely breathing story
Where there once was love
Now there's only me and the lonely.

I have a character in the manuscript I'm currently working on that's going through a very similar situation, so this song speaks volume to me at the moment.

Well that's it for me, what's inspired you this week? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries (Yam Fries?)

So today while perusing my local Whole Foods, I saw they had yams on sale. I do love me some sweet potato fries, and although I've never made them I didn't figure they'd be very hard, so I bought a couple and went on my merry way.

After I got home I got to thinking that the label specifically said "yams" and not "sweet potatoes." I didn't think there was a difference, but I Googled it and apparently there is. Thought there isn't much of a difference, they are still two completely different foods. (I won't go into explaining them, if you'd like to read more see the Yam and Sweet Potato entries on Wikipedia.)

My sweet potato/yam fries (I'll just call them sweet potatoes from here on out, though I'm still not sure which if that's what they were) were very delicious, so I thought I'd share my recipe with y'all. It was very simple!

Things you will need:

- Sweet Potatoes (I only used 1 1/2 for me and Husband and we had leftovers)
- Olive Oil
- Salt
- Pepper
- Paprika
- Cutting Board
- Sharp Knife
- Bowl

I didn't peel my potatoes because there's lots of nutrients packed in the skin. If you wash them before hand make sure you dry them really well, otherwise the oil won't stick to them as well.

Cut your potatoes into wedges (I like mine thick, so they were about half and inch to three quarters thick) and put into your bowl. Coat with olive oil (a couple of table spoons) and shake in the bowl. Then add the salt, pepper, and paprika (I usually cook by eye so I can't tell you exact measurements. I'd have to guess a couple of tablespoons each of salt and pepper, and a light dusting of paprika.) and shake until fries are fully covered.

This is what they should look like

Arrange on a baking sheet (allowing some room in between the fries) and pop in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. After that's up, turn all the fries over and bake for another 10 minutes.

Before going in the oven

All done!

So whatever they were, sweet potatoes or yams, they were quite delicious and turned out a lot better than I thought. Next time I may try dusting them lightly with brown sugar at the 20 minute mark, but that might defeat the "let's eat sweet potatoes because they're healthier" meaning behind all this.

Have you ever made your own sweet potato fries? What do you do differently? I'd love to hear about it so please comment! I'm all ears.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fired Up Friday

I started doing this about a year ago and stopped for some reason. I don't really remember why, I missed a week, and it turned into two and so on. But now I'm starting it back. :)

Fired Up Friday is basically a blog post dedicated to things that have inspired me over the past week. Whether it's a photo, a song, a quote from a book or a poem. Anything that caused any sort of spark in me, I'll post it for y'all to see and maybe get some inspiration off of, too. Most of the time I doubt I'll post why that specific thing inspired me, because let's face it, it's hard to put into words why certain things inspire us. And even if we could, it may not make sense to anybody else.

So without rambling on any further, here is my Fired Up Friday for the week. Enjoy. :)

Mini eggplants

I took these photos when I was in Mississippi at the beginning of the year. I loved them so much I framed them and put them above our couch so I always feel like I'm home.

Candles in old churches. (This picture was taken at the St. Louis Cathedral when I was in New Orleans for ALA this summer.)

I think that's all for me for this week. What about you? What's inspired you this week?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Firefly + Charity = One Awesome Event

Those who know me know I'm a Browncoat (and for those that are already confused, Browncoat is a term used to identify fans of the Firefly series). Every year the Austin Browncoats group has an event called Can't Stop the Serenity, where fans of the series come together and watch a showing of Serenity at the Alamo Drafthouse. My husband and I have gone for the past three years and not only is it an amazing event, it's a charitable one as well. Last year we raised over $32,000 for the charity Equality Now,a charity that seeks to stop violence and discrimination of women and girls around the world.

Nathan Fillion (who plays Mal on Firefly) along with YA author PJ Haarsma co-founded a charity called Kids Need to Read. KNTR is a program which brings books to classrooms and libraries all across the country that otherwise wouldn't be able to afford new books. To date the charity has brought books to over 73 schools.

So you're wondering what all this has to do with me, correct? This year I will be helping the Austin Browncoats with a book drive at our CSTS event. For every new, children's or young adult book you donate you will receive one raffle ticket for a chance to win some Firefly and Serenity themed prizes (some valued at over $100!). The person who donates the most books will also receive a prize.

The event will take place on September 10-11 at the Lake Creek Alamo Drafthouse and tickets should be on sale soon. To keep up with the latest Austin Browncoat news, follow them on Facebook and Twitter. (Edited to add: Tickets are now on sale as of 8/17! Click here!)

If you don't live in the Austin area or can't attend but still want to donate books, please email me at and I'll let you know how you can still help. Please remember that all books must be new. For a list of books the charity would like to receive, click here.

I also urge you to find CSTS screenings in your area. It's for a great cause and you get to see Serenity again on the big screen!

I'm so excited to be helping the Austin Browncoats and KNTR with this project. Reading and putting books in the hands of children and young adults is a cause that's close to my heart, and I hope it's close to yours as well.