Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ha! Found it!


Found the image of the dutch edition. I love this; wish it weren't so small as well.

Carpe Demon Japanese Cover!



Okay, the cover is tiny, but isn't this a darling cover? This is for the Japanese edition of CARPE DEMON: ADVENTURES OF A DEMON-HUNTING SOCCER MOM

I also just received the Dutch edition, which I love, but I can't find it online. My scanner is broken, so I'll just have to suffer. Will post when I can!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chenchen's First Plane Ride

For those of you who were following our adoption journey over at Red Thread Chronicles, I'm continuing the story here ... after (ahem) quite a break!

When last I talked about the journey to Chenchen, I'd told the story of our visit with her to the SWI. Well, the next day, we departed Hefei for Guangzhou, the White Swan Hotel, and the final leg of our journey!

Here's what our hotel bedroom looked like that morning. (Set the scene: I am up and industriously packing. Here is the mess:















In the other room, this:











We left in the afternoon, and wrestled our eight million tons of luggage onto the bus and then through the airport. (Have I mentioned that we were going to ship some stuff home -- we WAY overpacked -- but the hotel was only set up for express mail and it was going to cost about as much as the rent on a NYC apartment? So we ended up schlepping to Guangzhou and shipping some stuff back by regular mail.) At any rate, it was a sweltering 80-something out, and after schlepping under backpacks, diaper bags and computer bags (not to mention a small child who refused to ride the the double stroller) we were tired and hot!

On the whole, though, the girls were doing well, though. While Michael went to get everyone's tickets, we stood around looking like a group being led by the hand through an airport (we were). Naturally, Chenchen decided she needed to go potty, so I schlepped her there and as we were leaving, I was chastized for not having her in a coat. Yikes! I was sweating like I'd just run a marathon!

At any rate, fashion police not withstanding, we got to the gate, got on the little bus, and got on the plane, all without losing our group or our hand luggage. At one point, we realized that folks were carrying on drinks and coffeecups and we experienced major remorse for trashing our bottles of water.

We got loaded onto the plane, and although our boarding passes didn't have us all sitting together (or even in our own little family groups) Michael had said he'd work it out on the plane by trading with people. We were okay, because I had 3 seats together, and Don was one up and over. Close enough, for a crisis (which, thankfully, we had none).

Catherine is a seasoned traveller, so once she was strapped in, she fired up the Leapster (thanks to Carla for suggesting this ESSENTIAL plane toy for the exuberant 5 yo!) and was good to go. I was still worrying about Chenchen, but I needed have (not yet, anyway). She was a little freaked about being strapped in, but after a moment, she settled in and had a great time. No reaction at all to the plane taking off, she looked out the window, she was a totally normal kid!

Here's a pic of her doing awesome on that first flight:
















And here's Catherine chilling on the plane:
















And, of course, here's Michael being cool right before he got into it with some rude guy on the plane (go Michael!). Alas, in Chinese, so we don't know the level of coolness, but I figure it must be high.













At any rate, Chenchen did awesome on the first leg of the flight. She "read" all the magazines, and when she noticed an ad with a woman in an evening gown with her arm up in a dance pose, she insisted that we tickle not only the picture (under the arm) but each other. All in all, a giggly, fun ride.

And then the plane landed. And then, we didn't get off. And that pretty much ended that. She got fidgety at the end of the ground time, figetier when the new passengers boarded, and positively inconsolable when we took off again (granted, it was late by this time, but urgh!). Thankfully, Scott had a few goodies to pass from the row in front of us, so after a bit, she was occupied, but never as happy as during the first leg.

By the time we arrived in Guangzhou, it was late -- past 11 -- and we were all exhausted. Catherine fell asleep on the plane and never woke up. And because of CC's then refusal to ride in the stroller, I was forced to schlep her all over creation, along with the luggage cart, since Don had the stroller (with its mucked up wheels, the luggage cart was easier while carrying a child). Not fun!

Finally we made it through the nearly deserted airport and into the bus. She didn't sleep, but she snuggled during the almost hour ride to the hotel.

And let me just say that the White Swan made it all worthwhile. Very nice hotel, very nice room, and very nice soft, big bed.

Yay!

Next red thread installment: Shamain Island and Medical Inspections

Saturday, January 27, 2007

New Air Conditioner in Chuzhou!


Before we went to China, three of the families adopting from Chuzhou (including us) got together to buy an air conditioning unit for the kids. I recently got word that the transaction has been completed and the unit installed.

Yay!!!

The picture is the unit which, hopefully, will make the kiddoes that much more comfortable in the summer.

Great news!

March of the Penguins

YouTube - March of the Penguins

This video is a hoot!

More LWB fundraiser updates!

I recently heard that one of the kids -- Nian -- was taken to Anhui Children’s Hospital for cleft lip repair, and at that time the doctors discovered that he had a heart defect. His heart surgery had to be scheduled before the lip repair, and the poor little guy had to be treated for pneumonia even before that.

On Tuesday of last week, he had the heart surgery and it went well. As of the last update to me, he's in ICU and recovering. Please keep little Nian in your thoughts and prayers!

And remember, you can help by following this link to Love Without Boundaries.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A little too young to date?

A “my kid” funny from today:

We have a CD that I burned last April after I was surprised at a writing retreat with friends by how much fun I had listening to my friend Dee's fabulous mix of music on her computer. I included "bouncy" music since I only listen in the car, and that's what CEK likes. So we have a lot of Lone Star, Clint Black, Toby Keith, Shania Twain, etc. We haven't listened in a while, but after hitting the wall with the Mei Mei DVD, I put it in and -- thankfully! -- CC loves it. Yay! A change of tunes!

Today, we were taking turns choosing a song to listen to. This is necessary because Chenchen loves “Wanna Talk About Me” by Toby Keith, and would listen to it ad nauseum. It was CEK's turn, and she'd picked Shania’s “Any Man of Mine.”

So. She starts asking me “what’s she saying, mommy?” I dutifully recite the lines (Any man of mine, better walk the line, better show me a pleasing, teasing, squeezing kind of time ...) Very rote. Very non-explanatory.

She says, “but what’s she SAYING?” which I finally interpret as “what the heck does that mean, anyway?”

Oh. Well, honey, she’s talking about the kind of guy she’d be willing to have for a boyfriend. He has to be faithful to her and give her lots of hugs.

Oh.

But that's not enough for my kiddo. She inquires more. For some reason — I have no clue why, perhaps because I have too many historicals in my RITA pile — I explained further that she’s describing the kind of guy she’d let "court" her. Uh-huh. What’s “courting?” I explain briefly, ending with, “but you don’t have to worry about dating until much later. Like when you’re 16.”

And she says: “But Mommy, I’m worrying about it NOW.”

ba-dum ching! (Her dad will be so thrilled to hear that!)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Jennifer Barnes TATTOO -- on the GCC Tour!

Check it out! This books sounds right up my alley! And she loves Madeline L'Engle, so how cool is that?

Click Here to Order The Book




Four friends. Four tattoos. One ancient evil.


Bailey Morgan isn't the type of girl who shows a lot of skin, but somehow, she ends up in a dressing room at the mall with her friend Delia applying a temporary tattoo to her lower back. Never one to suffer fashion doubt, trendsetter Delia knows exactly where she wants her own tattoo: on her stomach, right where her shirt ends—can you say "midriff"? Annabelle, the quiet one, chooses the back of her neck, and tomboy Zo plasters hers on the top of her foot. The tattoos will last for three days, and Delia's sure that with them, the four friends will absolutely kill at the school dance.

Unfortunately, killing is just what someone has in mind, and Bailey, Delia, Annabelle, and Zo are in for the battle of their lives. Along with her tattoo, each girl receives a gift—a supernatural power to help them in their fight. As Bailey's increasingly frightening dreams reveal the nature of their enemy, it becomes clear to the girls that it's up to them to save the world. And if they can get Delia to stop using her newfound power to turn gum wrappers into Prada pumps, they might actually stand a chance.

What Critics Are Saying:

"Imagine the gang from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series with magic tattoos that give them each different powers... Spunky, fun-loving, and sometimes cranky teen-girl friendships and realistic dialogue propel this character-driven, fast-paced read."
-Booklist

"This chick-lit fantasy, similar to though not as dark as Neal Shusterman's fairy-tale retellings, is a fast-paced, fun read for Buffy and Charmed fans." -School Library Journal

"Fantastical, but with a reality check." -Kirkus

“In the end, readers will get a few good laughs from these sassy heroines.” –Publisher’s Weekly

"Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Tattoo is a page-turning thrill ride that incorporates Greek mythology with the supernatural adventures of four likable, wisecracking friends. Fun, entertaining, and a total reading pleasure." -Melissa de la Cruz, author of BLUE BLOODS

“I haven't met a greater group of friends since THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS… TATTOO is a unique story that is sure to satisfy any reader -- fantasy lover or not.” –Teensreadtoo.com

Here are Jen's answers to my standard GCC questions!

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL "WRITING DAY"?

My typical writing day usually starts about midnight- later on the
weekends. I try to write for a couple of hours most nights, and
usually end up going to bed between two and four in the morning. I
don't outline, and I tend to write in chapter-long chunks, so once I
start writing, I usually don't stop until I've finished at least one
chapter and reached what feels like a good stopping point. There is
often sugar and caffeine involved.

DO YOU RECALL THE KERNEL OF INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK?

For this book, I knew I wanted to write about four best friends who
acquire supernatural powers; I just wasn't sure how to give them the
powers, until one day, when I found this awesome temporary tattoo. It
was sparkly and this unearthly blue-green color, and just looking at
it, I couldn't help but think that it looked distinctly like it could
have magical powers. My brain connected the dots between this thought
and my characters, and the premise for Tattoo- four best friends get
psychic powers from temporary tattoos- was born.

PICK A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK AND TELL US WHAT TRAIT YOU SHARE (OR
COME CLOSEST TO SHARING) WITH THAT CHARACTER.

I share a few traits with my narrator in this one. One of the biggest
is my slight tendency towards being a teeny tiny bit accident prone.
Bailey tends to think of herself as klutzy, but I tend to view her
more as occasionally cursed by very, very bad luck. She's also really
loyal to her friends, which is something else I'd like to think the
two of us have in common.

IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND, WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A MAGICAL
TRUNK THAT GAVE YOU LIMITLESS BOOKS TO READ, OR A LIMITLESS SUPPLY OF
PAPER ON WHICH TO WRITE?

The paper. If I go too long without writing, I start to get a little
twitchy, and as much as I live and breathe reading, going completely
without writing would be harder.

BEER OR WINE?

Neither. I have noticed that this is an even stranger answer in
England, where I'm currently living, than it was in the US.

CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA?

Vanilla, though I'd take white chocolate over either.

WHAT'S YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK?

I tend to have favorite authors more than favorite books, and there's
no way for me to pick just one, but S.E. Hinton, Roald Dahl, Madeleine
L'engle, Meg Cabot, and Sarah Dessen all rank pretty high on my list.
http://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

****

About Jen

A Native Oklahoman, Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a recent graduate of Yale University, where she studied cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought). Jennifer is a 2006-2007 Fulbright Scholar in the United Kingdom, where she is currently doing autism research at Cambridge University. She wrote her first book, Golden, when she was a teenager and wrote several others- including Tattoo- while still in college. Her next book, Platinum, will be released in September of 2007.

Visit Jen online at her website or her blog!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bleah all around ....

Well, I guess I did jinx myself, as today was a major whinefest by both girls, both during school and after. Ugh! (Although Catherine did read all of Jack and The Beanstalk to me! And only needed help with one or two words: "giant" and "roared" -- Yay!)

And on top of that, I feel completely horrible. Tired and achy and sick to my stomach. How lovely is that?

So instead of the post I'd planned to do about Chenchen's first plane ride, instead, I'm posting my own whine.

WWWWHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAA

Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

THE MANOLO MATRIX -- Romantic Times Nominee!


Just found out that THE MANOLO MATRIX is a nominee for best Chick Lit book of 2006. Yay!!!!!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ah, Glorious Silence!

DH took the kiddoes to work with him today. For FIVE SOLID HOURS I had the house to myself. I worked. I organized. I relaxed.

Honestly, it was almost as good as a bubble bath!

The only regret? They bought Girlscout cookies while out and forgot to bring them home!!!!! Ah, well. A small price to pay, I guess.....

A great day in the old schoolhouse ...

Today was one for the record books. Dare I write about it, lest Monday go horribly awry? Am I tempting fate?

Ah, what the heck. Here goes: Today was a banner day in the world of homeschooling, both C and CC. The kids learned things, which is actually a usual occurrence, but we had enthusiasm in every subject, plus the every popular Getting Along and Minimal Whining. Both girls getting A++s in both of those categories.

For those who like the down and dirty details (and because I just have to write it down to memorialize this amazing occurrence) here's an outline of the day's events.

We got up at 7:30, which is something of a miracle in and off itself. (While CC is an early riser, with the ice, she'd actually been sleeping in until 9. And I could sleep until noon if left to my own devices, as could CEK).

The girls watched their standard 1 show -- Go, Diego, Go
since CC actually likes it too (a brief aside while I cheer -- loudly -- about the fact that she will now watch things on television other than the Mei Mei DVD). I drank coffee. Life was good.

At 8, the girls got to the table for breakfast and school. I had CC cut pictures out of a magazine for later pasting on cards (we're making sign language flash cards). I will have to go back and re-do all of that, but she had a great time with the kiddie scissors, and let CEK and I start Day One of Latin (Prima Latina). We discussed the pronunciation, expressed amazement that those wacky Romans could have an alphabet without the letter W, and then proceeded to learn our 5 vocabulary words for the week (which, really, is next week, but the materials arrived yesterday, and CEK wanted to start. Who am I to argue with enthusiasm?).

We listened to the CD for Lesson 1, went over the vocab again, and then moved on to "can we do math next, mommy?" Sure thing, kiddo. Whatever my baby wants.

So on to math. Which consists at this point of making addition stories within 10. But the kid's got it down. After yesterday's moaning and groaning, she zipped through today, easily figuring out that the blank in 10=_____+3 was 7. Go, Catherine! (By this point, CC has moved on to gluing. she's gluing anything and everything down to construction paper. Works for me!)

She did her workbook pages in record time, and later during the day when I wandered into the playroom, I found 5+3=8 on the magnetic board. Always nice to know she's playing around with numbers even without me or a workbook urging her on!

After math, she did her handwriting/copywork quickly and neatly (amazing). So then we took a break to do "school" with CC. We made cards with signs on one side and a color on the other. Four cards today: Black, Blue, Red, and Green. Then we took the same colored blocks and sat in the living room. I showed CC and CEK the sign for each color, and then we focused on Blue. I had the girls run around the house finding things that are blue and bringing them back to the living room. CC did great! (This evening at bedtime she wasn't quite as consistent, but she correctly told me and dh in sign that my mousepad is blue at dinnertime, so I think the tiredness factor works against her.) Tomorrow, we'll do blue and add in another color. (Oh, I forgot, she had her first speech appointment yesterday. More about that later!).

The signing is because of the cleft, obviously, but it also helps simply with the change from one language to another. For words with front-palate consonant beginnings, I'm trying to get her to say the exaggerated sound. Not much luck, actually, but Amy (at speech) will probably have better luck. Her surgery is scheduled for March 2, so presumably things are going to change with regard to speech and her ability to form sounds soon anyway. Mostly, we're just trying to increase communication at this point.

We also played "If your name is X" ... and if there was any doubt that Chenchen knows her name is Isabella, it's been erased. She LOVES to respond when "Isabella" is supposed to do something. And for the most part, she understands what she's supposed to do (hug sister, stand on chair, meow like a cat). Her comprehension of English is coming along like lightening! Her spoken English is becoming better, too. Though most is still inflection, we (or, really, me and Catherine and sometimes Don) can understand her. Today, for example, she said, "Where's Daddy?" Inflection and expression made the question clear (and since I ran to the sign language book to look up "where," the question should be even clearer next time!)

Throughout all of this, CEK had been asking when she could do her "experiment." Since I had no idea what said experiment was, I was reluctant to give her a specific answer, LOL! (She originally told me only that she needed a glass. Uh-huh, right. That gives me a warm, fuzzy, my-things-won't-get-broken kind of feeling). However, now she tells me that she needs a glass and water and food coloring. Okay! That I can handle. Experiment is scheduled for after lunch while CC is napping. And since it's getting on about that time, I let them play while I pretend to think about editing a manuscript. After perpetuating that hoax for fifteen or so minutes, I give in and make lunch, then call the girls. We do the lunch thing, and CC goes down for a nap ... wait for it ... without complaint. Wow. The planets must be aligned or something. Or I won the parenting lottery. Truly. Amazing.

Anyhoo, the day continues on its rosy way, with CEK reviewing sight words at lunch. We've been doing OPGTTR, but I'd found a set of 100 flash cards for sight words, up to and including words from typical 3rd grade lists. I thought I'd just see what she's picked up from going through her readers, and while I'd expected her to know more than where we are in the phonics instruction, I really wasn't expecting her to do so well (brag alert: she only missed 4!). Yay, CEK!

After that, she got to do the experiment, which consisted of her mixing colors in a variety of beer glasses. Somehow, she always got to black (this is the same kid who cannot keep colored Play Doh; it all turns brown). But she was having fun and learning and that's what counts even if it did look nasty in the end!

At one point, I watched her stir and said "double double toil and trouble," which sparked a whole conversation -- what was I saying, what did it mean, who was Shakespeare, what's a cauldron, could I read the whole speech?

And I did. We read the whole speech about 3 times (learning in the process that "chaudron" means, basically, "guts"), and CEK decided that she wanted to learn the chorus part. After that, she proceeded to label the food coloring as things like eye of newt, zombie hair, dragon wings, and my personal favorite, mouse chaudron. Yum.

Our science experiment concluded, we moved to the couch for reading with Mommy. We're reading the story of Joseph (and the dreamcoat) and once finished, we have the animated show and the Donny Osmond version waiting at Netflix. I've never seen either, but I saw the musical on Broadway in teh 80s, and loved it. I have no idea if CEK will like it or not. We'll see! We also did some geography reading, and she was totally into it, and even begged for more (shock and awe!).

After that, we moved on to the Animals book from some Childcraft volumes I picked up at a library sale. These books are old, but fabulous! Well illustrated, simply written, yet interesting. We read about animals and how they move and eat (and CEK discovered with fascination that SHE is an animal, too!) and she proceeded to tell me that I didn't have to tell her about the butterfly's tongue, because she already knew that from Go, Diego, Go. She also knew about sponges from Spongebob (a fact which I met with some wariness, but, in fact, she had picked up on some basic concepts, particularly as involve Sandy needing her helmet for air, and SB needing water). Later, she flipped through the book, stopping at the microscopic section and informing me that she knew about plankton from The Magic School Bus. At least she's retaining information, LOL!

Finally, we ended with a few of the tasks of Hercules (from the Usborne book). VERY simplified, but clearly right at her level. Even more gratifying, she begs for more when I finish!

And thus endeth school. We did watch an episode of Meercat Manor (we have several Tivo'd, and I'm fearing for Flower. Don't tell me!) while the girls made airplanes out of boxes. The day ended with PE, also known as "leaping off the couch onto cushions," a popular pass time around these parts.

All in all, a great day. Ya gotta love it.

(And, yes, in the evening I even managed to get some real work done. Truly, a miraculous day!)

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Rooster Song ...

Earlier, I posted about being trapped inside because of the ice. Here's what can happen: your kids can shove stuffed cats into their clothes and then run around the house singing the rooster song from the Mei Mei DVD. Be warned! It could happen to you!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's a Miracle!

I finally updated my webpage with upcoming books. It's not complete yet, but those of you who've written in concerned that there are no more demon books in the works, rest assured that's not the case! Demons Are Forever will be out this summer, followed by Deja Demon in 2008!

Here's the link to see everything coming up between now and the summer. It's a lot! No wonder I'm tired.....

Julie's Webpage

Love Without Boundaries Fundraiser -- Update!

I'm so excited to be able to post this update! As those of you popping over here probably already know, I recently sponsored a fundraiser for Love Without Boundaries, a wonderful non-profit that provides help to orphans in China. We raised over $8,000, and LWB asked me how that money should be spent. In honor of Isabella Chenchen, I asked that 25% be used for the benefit of kids with cleft lips/palates, and the remaining go to kids with the most need as determined by LWB.

I'm happy to say we've been helping a lot of kids!

Here's some information I've received from the great folks at LWB:

These are the first two kids with clefts that LWB has been able to help: "The first child, Xu Hui, is a one year old boy who lives in Jiangsu Province. He has a rather wide unilateral cleft lip and palate and you will be sponsoring his lip repair. He is such a cute little boy and I know he will only get more handsome with his lip healed! The second child is a beautiful 5 year old girl names Yi Hua from Jiangxi Province. She has had her lip repaired but really needs to have a palate repair before she gets much older. This will help improve her health her speech."

Isn't that great! I'm especially excited about Yi Hua -- five years is a long time to live with a cleft palate. I had no real conception before we got CC of just how little these kids are able to say. CC, for example, has a few gutteral vowel sounds. Most of her words are based on inflection. We get some "M" and some "D" but not much. The palate is just so essential to the formation of words and the development of speech! I know that her inability to communicate often frustrates her, and since Catherine is 5 -- and a nonstop talker -- I can imagine how difficult it must be for Yi Hua. I'm so excited the repair will be done and she can begin to learn the skills for speech!

Here are their pictures:






I later received info about the third child: "Your 3rd sponsored child is named Xiang and she is from Anhui Province!! {Chenchen is from Anhui!!} She is 7 month old and needs to have her lip repaired." This is so wonderful! Feeding these kids is so difficult, and once the lip is repaired, she'll be able to get much better nutrition!

Isn't she a doll? And very special in that she was moved to the hospital for the surgery on Christmas day!



And the last child (so far!) that we've helped is Lei. He "is just a little over one year old. He is from a rural orphanage in Anhui Province and will be having his palate repaired." Here he is. What a cutie!



Thanks to all the participants who donated time, talent, books and more! And thanks to everyone who bid in the auction! You've done a world of good for some deserving kiddos!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

GOOD GHOUL'S DO -- got the cover!


My editor emailed me the cover today for GOOD GHOUL'S DO (which is out in October and is the sequel to THE GOOD GHOUL'S GUIDE TO GETTING EVEN, which comes out in April). I LOVE it!!!

Ice Days ...

Trapped.

Trapped. Trapped. Trapped.

Days and days of icy roads and no driving. Five days of stir crazy children and a husband at home.

Trapped.

Okay, maybe that's a bit melodramatic. It is true that we've been iced in (as my agent says ... "in Texas?????!!!!!"). Yes, in Texas. Central Texas, to be exact, where the only ice days I recall lasted one day, and even then you felt guilty about not going in to the office by oh, say, noon, because the ice has melted and the roads are more than passable. Not so this time. And this is also the first time I've been housebound with two children plus spouse. It's been ... interesting.

Actually, it hasn't been all that bad. Since the public schools (and the private ones, for that matter) have shut down, we shut down, too. (Except for sneaking in a bit of reading by making CEK read the chapter headings for various Magic Tree House books). And if I had any doubts that CEK and CC had bonded as sisters, I'll have to say that's passed. They're sisters all right. Playing, hugging, loving, smacking, walloping, screaming, whining sisters. We've had meltdowns because CC (age 3) won't do what CEK (age 5) wants her to do (and never mind that, oh, she's 3 and maybe, just maybe, doesn't have the English yet to figure out what the heck CEK wants her to do. Or, for that matter, maybe just doesn't WANT to do whatever). But mostly we've had tons of fun play. Everything from "leaping onto the highest pyramid in Egypt (aka a pile of pillows beside the couch)" to CEK giving CC piggyback rides to CC sneaking into my study and reprogramming my computer (well, not really, but close) to singing and dancing with the Disney Princess piano that Santa brought for Christmas.

This afternoon, we made a candle with paraffin, ice cubes and crayones -- it looks good! Plus we played Lucky Ducks, which was the first semi-board game we've played with CC. She did great! Took turns, knew the shapes she was looking for, and congratulated the winner every time! Yay CC!

CC has also been making great progress with the sign language and the interaction. I really can't believe it's just been 2.5 months that she's been in the U.S. She's gotten over the zoning out when she does something wrong and refusing to apologize. Now, she understands time out (10 seconds, facing a wall with mommy), she hugs her sister (b/c she usually gets in trouble for hitting her sister) and she says "I'm sorry" with words and sign language. Such a smart kid! She's also a total scamp and a silly-willy. Her silly side has really come out these last few days, and she's bonded even more with Daddy, using sign language to say "I love you" to everyone at the table, and when we say it back, saying (quite clearly) "Awwwwww."

Getting back to our snowboundness: The girls also bundled up and went out to play in the "snow" (aka, white stuff that fell from the sky and immediately turned to ice. They wanted to go out in dress-up shoes, but we finally got them bundled up, and they tromped around for hours, coming back in only for Kleenex and Graham Crackers. Definitely made for an easy bedtime!

And after bedtime, D and I have been watching the DVDs of Buffy Season 4 (not the greatest season -- which is an understatement, but I've never seen the college years, and we thought we'd start), plus As Time Goes By, and, of course, the season premier of 24. Go Jack!

Right now, the girls are singing "Chenchen's Song" to the tune of "Ni Hau Mama Baba" ... it's loud around our house these days.

All in all, it really has been fun.

But I still think D will be happy to be going back to work tomorrow ...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I LOVE YOU TO DEATH -- GCC TOUR!


LOVE YOU TO DEATH (January 07, Red Dress Ink)
By Melissa Senate



Abby Foote’s worst exes are on someone’s hit list. Who’s going around shooting men who broke Abby’s heart? And why?

First, a former boyfriend (who dumped Abby in the most humiliating way possible) is found murdered the day his engagement is announced. Then two other exes report attempts made on their lives right after breaking up with her. Coincidence? A very hot detective from the Portland Police Department doesn’t think so. Neither do Abby’s friends, family, coworkers and former boyfriends dating back to kindergarten, who are all shaking in their shoes as though the Abby they know and supposedly love to death is capable of, say, poisoning their Diet Cokes. Is someone trying to frame her? Do her some kind of warped favor? Abby, with that delicious detective on her trail, is about to find out.

“Readers will cheer Abby every step of the way as she tries to clear her name and find her prince for whom the glass slipper will finally fit.” –Publishers Weekly

Here are Melissa's answers to my GCC questions:

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL “WRITING DAY”?
A: Ah, every day is the same, thanks to my alarm clock: my four year old son. After I drop him off at preschool at 8:45, I come back home and head to my writing desk, which is a gorgeous mahogany old-fashioned secretary with all my favorite things on it. I answer emails, take care of administrative stuff, read blogs and online newspapers till 10, then write steadily till 2. I wish I could write at night after my son goes to sleep, but I’ve found I can’t. I need a fresh brain that has slept on the previous day’s work. If I get stuck while writing or can't figure something out, I'll do some housecleaning. The answer usually presents half-way through the dishes.

DO YOU RECALL THE KERNEL OF INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK?
A: One day out of the blue I wrote in my idea notebook: “Jerk exes on someone’s hit list.” I have no idea where this came from! Yes, I have my own collection of awful ex-boyfriends, but I’ve never wished harm on even the very worst of them. Really. No, really.

PICK A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK AND TELL US WHAT TRAIT YOU SHARE (OR COME CLOSEST TO SHARING) WITH THAT CHARACTER.
A: I’ve long shared Abby Foote’s problem of falling for . . . the wrong guy.

IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND, WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A MAGICAL TRUNK THAT GAVE YOU LIMITLESS BOOKS TO READ, OR A LIMITLESS SUPPLY OF PAPER ON WHICH TO WRITE?:
A: Limitless books to read. I can make up my own stories in my head, but I can’t make up other people’s.

BEER OR WINE? Good red wine, but I’d really rather have a Diet Coke with lime

CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA? Chocolate! But when it comes to ice cream, my fave is coffee with chocolate chips

WHAT’S YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK? Anne of Green Gables. “Anne with an E!”



Check it out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/0373895461/ref=s9_asin_title_1/002-5612484-7534434 (but ignore the attached excerpt because it’s not for Melissa’s book)!

Visit Melissa’s website: http://www.melissasenate.com for more info and to read an excerpt

Bio: Melissa Senate is the author of six novels, including her best selling debut, See Jane Date (the cute TV movie version is available on DVD), and one (so far) young adult novel, Theodora Twist. Melissa contributed an essay to the newly published anthology It’s A Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths About Life In Your Twenties and to the forthcoming anthology Everything I Needed To Know About Being A Girl I Learned From Judy Blume. A former book editor (romance novels, Mary-Kate & Ashley tween novels and Sweet Valley), Melissa now writes full time from her home on the southern coast of Maine, where she lives with her young son and his toys.