Archive for October, 2011

Writing YA Fiction for Dummies Giveaway Winners

Today is Halloween and it’s all about frightening and scary things.

picture from

And what could be scarier than waiting to hear if you’ve won a contest?

(I know, I know it’s a pretty lame segue—but hey, it works somehow, right? :) )

After the Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies Spotlight Week, in which I featured a Book Review of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies (WYAFFD), an interview with WYAFFD author Deborah Halverson, and a book giveaway.

The rules of the book giveaway were simple—participants of the contest simply had to leave a comment about why they wanted to win a copy of the book. If their comments caught my fancy, they’d get an extra point or two. If they shared the link to the book giveaway on Twitter, they get one more point. If they shared it on Facebook, they earn another point and so on.

Some participants earned as much 5 points, (which meant that they had 5 slips of paper with their names in the drawing bowl). Whether they won or not, I feel that these people deserve some mention for their efforts:

Kathy Stemke

Haley Whitehall

Christina Kitroeff


Billie L. Adams, who wrote such an imaginative and creative answer that many thought a novel should come out of it.

Last Saturday, I put all the participants’ names in my drawing bowl, mixed them all up and drew the giveaway winners.

My magic drawing bowl

Now, without further delay, I present the winners of the Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies Book Giveaway:

Drumroll, please!

Congratulations to;

Suzanne Purvis and Heather Meloche!


I know I said there would be only two winners, but  my magic bowl coughed and spewed out  another winner.


Congratulations you three! I shall be emailing you your EBOOK copies of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Writers shortly.

Thank you to everyone who joined the contest. I hope you never give up. One of these days, you’re going to win a blog giveaway. Christmas is just around the corner, and I am planning on giving away more awesome prizes, so be sure to drop in every now and then.

Again, thanks to all who participated.

Now get into your sexy/slinky/scary costumes and go trick or treating!

Happy Halloween everybody!

image from

4,744 total views, no views today

Jane Lynch Signs Happy Accidents at Vroman’s

I joined Bish Denham’s Halloween giveaway, and last Wednesday I shared with you my scary ghost story.

You can read about Priscilla, the lost ghost here. My family members who’ve had experiences with her have left their comments as well.

In honor of Halloween–which is just around the corner–giggling while it waits to jump out and scare the bejeezus out of us; the scary stories continue.

And what could be scarier than Sue Sylvester?

Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester, photo from

Last October 16th, 2011, Sunday, I dragged faithful best friends Maiko and Lena out to Pasadena to attend Jane Lynch’s book signing.

Maiko, myself and Lena with Jane Lynch’s Happy Accidents

We made sure we were at Vroman’s Bookstore by 1pm so we could get tickets for the book signing.  We thought we would be the earliest, but there was already someone there ahead of us.  We sat at the signing area for 3 hours, but we didn’t mind. Jane Lynch’s book Happy Accidents was enough to keep us entertained.

–That and a group of die-hard Gleeks.  With background music coming from their ipods and macs, they sang songs from Glee and began an impromptu concert.

Fans waiting for Jane Lynch

Some bookstore managers came in and asked them to quiet down, but at least we got a few minutes of entertainment out of it.

I also did some valuable research for my YA novel by eavesdropping on observing the teenage Gleeks behind us, as they passed the time.

Jane Lynch rolled in at 4:15 pm, and the gathered crowd erupted in applause. After one of the Vroman’s event manager’s introduced Jane, she immediately began her talk.

Jane Lynch waves hello to the audience

Jane said that if there was one advice she would have wanted to give to her anxious teenage self years ago, it  would be this: “Be in the moment.” She was so worried about so many things—what others thought of her, what she thought of herself, that she didn’t stop to appreciate all the good people and good experiences she had around her.

She talked about her life growing up as a teenage girl in the closet, her days in theater and TV and how she came upon the role that changed her life forever. Of course, all these details and more can be found in her book, Happy Accidents.

During the Q & A portion, Jane shared her wisdom on a number of subjects, almost channeling Sue Sylvester at times:

On Acting

“I knew I wanted to be an actress right out of my mom’s vagina! When I’m acting, I’m in the moment. It’s all about me and the person in front of me.”

Jane Lynch

On Glee

“It’s big for kids.”

On Whether She Has a Hard Time Playing Sue Sylvester

“I don’t. I am Sue Sylvester. She’s a product some years of I experienced growing up.”

On the actor/actress she loves to work with in Glee

“Matt Morrison. We have a lot of fun together.”

On the actor/actress she wants to work with

Jennifer Saunders. I don’t know if I necessarily want to work with her, but I at least want to shake her hand or something.”

Jane Lynch, photo by Lena Chen

On Coming Out

“Find your people in the world. Stay away from authority figures or parents for awhile, because it might not be safe to tell them about yourself. Sniff out like-minded others and find a support group.”

On What She Did Right

I said ‘yes’ to everything—except to porno. I had sense, I didn’t say yes to porno. Anyway, they didn’t ask me, I was pissed off.”

Advice to Others

“I’m just going to echo Steve Jobs. Find what it is that you do best, and do your best in it.”

After answering various questions from the audience, Jane got right down to signing books.  There were a lot of people  waiting, but since Vroman’s was so organized and had handed out tickets earlier, the line was easily managed.

Fans waiting to get their books signed

We were called by ticket numbers, and since we were on of the first ones there, we got to have our books signed quickly.  I asked Jane Lynch to sign a book for my sister Krystal, who was in Mali as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I told her that my sister had told me that all the Peace Corps Volunteers in Mali loved watching Glee and absolutely loved Sue Sylvester.

Me telling Jane Lynch about the Peace Corps Volunteers in Mali, Africa

Jane Lynch was so pleased to hear this, and she told me to tell my sister and the other PCV’s that she admired the work they were doing over there, and to keep on doing a good job.

Myself and Jane Lynch aka Sue Sylvester

Meeting Jane Lynch in person and hearing her talk,  was definitely one of the highlights of my week!

To cap off our glorious day out, the three of us headed to Bird Pick Tea & Herb House .

Bird Pick Tea & Herb House, Pasadena

We ordered some wonderful iced teas (I had the Lychee Oolong tea–my new favorite), ate Naan bread (leftover from our Indian food lunch) and talked about the awesome day we had.

Enjoying iced teas at the Bird Pick



The week is almost up my fabulous friends, but you still have the chance to win an ebook copy of Deborah Halverson’s Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies.

To join the giveaway, enter HERE. You have until tonight, as I will be drawing names from my magical drawing bowl on Saturday! I’ll be announcing the winners on Monday, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, have an amazing weekend!

3,892 total views, no views today

A (True) Philippine Ghost Story

To celebrate her 4th year of blogging, and her 300 followers, bloggerific writer Bish Denham is having a Halloween giveaway.

Congratulations, Bish!

She is giving away some awesome prizes: an ARC of Jessica Bell’s book THE STRING BRIDGE scheduled for release November 1st, DOGSLED DREAMS by Terry Lynn Johnson, AND a tatted bookmark made by Bish herself.

Naturally, I just had to join in the fun! The challenge is to write and post, in 300 words or less a real life Halloween/ghost memory or a fictional story. Working  the number four and/or 300 into the story would make it even more special!

So here it is–my ghost story.


Way back in the 80’s, my mom had purchased some land in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, a province in the northern part of the Philippines.

My parents fenced the lot in, and built a small bungalow, thinking it would be a great place to settle down.

Our land in Nueva Vizcaya

The two- acre lot had tons of fruit trees, fertile land for planting vegetables,  a small fishpond—and a resident ghost.

The locals called our bungalow “the white house”—not only because it was painted chalk white, but because they swear that a “White Lady” roamed our land.  (A White Lady is a type of female ghost, usually appearing in flowing dresses. They are often seen in rural areas associated with some local tragedy.  In the Philippines, white ladies are popular ghost topics).

During the Japanese occupation (1942-1945), an army of Japanese soldiers made their way to Bayombong. There, they took whatever they wanted—whether it was a house, land, food—or women.

The Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines

One of their victims was a young lady named Priscilla (not sure of this name), who lived a simple farming life. They used her, killed her family, and eventually hanged her from a tree.

The land my mother had bought was where Priscilla had been born, lived a short life, and died a violent death.

People who live nearby avoid walking by our house at night if they can help it. They say Priscilla appears around midnight from the giant mango tree in the back of the lot.

Giant mango tree in the back of the lot

She is a lost soul, roaming the night, seeking justice or maybe revenge.

I’ve never encountered her, but many guests who have stayed in our bungalow for a little vacation, have definitely seen her.

My uncle Warren was one of them. He got up one night to use the restroom. As he stood groggily over the toilet, a sudden chill came over the air, and his hair began to stand on end.

When he looked up, he saw a young lady in a white dress hovering two feet from where he stood. She looked like she was hanging from some invisible tree. She glared down at him with fierce eyes, and a slightly mad smile playing on her lips.

Swallowing a scream, he ran from the toilet back to the guest room, and prayed for the first time in so many years.

I grew up hearing many other stories like these. I’m not surprised that Priscilla would mostly appear to men, since men had been the sole instrument in her gruesome death. I hope her soul finds the peace she deserves, but as far as I know Priscilla still roams the night.

Picture from Supernatural TV series

7,964 total views, no views today

We’ve come to the end of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies Week.

But don’t worry, I’ve saved the best for last.

I’m giving away 2 FREE E-book copies of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies.  This means that if you win, you won’t have to bug the mailman and wait for the post to arrive. You’ll simply open your email and you can start reading the book right away. (You get to save some trees as well!)

If you have no idea what I’m giving away, click on this link so you can read the review I wrote on this fabulous book.

And if you want to know more about the book’s equally fabulous author, click here. You can read my interview with Deborah Halverson and learn all about her writing journey—and her triplets!

Oh, and Deborah wants me to share the WYAFFD Cheat Sheet link with you all, because she’s generous like that.

So how do you win a copy of this super helpful and fabulous book?

Simple, just Leave a comment below and tell me why you’d like a copy of the book.

That’s it. I’ll pick the winners based on a random draw.

But wait!

The more creative your answers are, the more chances you have of winning. If your comment/answer tickles my fancy, I’ll add another slip of paper with your name on it to my drawing bowl.

Why? Because I love encouraging people to unleash their imaginative and creative sides.

What? Your creative muse has gone on vacation? Aww…well, you can still increase your chances of winning simply by sharing the link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking sites you might have. (Of course, you have to share the link on the comment you leave here)

What if you’ve left a creative comment and shared the link everywhere? Well, then you must really, really want to win. Let’s say you’ve shared the link on your Facebook and twitter, and you left a creative comment, then you’ll have three slips of paper with your name on it in the drawing bowl.

I’ll announce the winners next week.

Good luck everyone!

8,183 total views, no views today

When I decided to buy a copy of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, I had no idea that months later, I would get to meet its wonderful author  Deborah Halverson in person.

I’d become such a big fan (and advocate) of the book since I got a copy that I would blab to anyone who cared to listen about this really great book for writing YA. I found the book so helpful to my own writing, that I actually used some of its exercises in my writing group session on Plotting.

Last June, I made a new writer friend, Sophia (you all should check out her blog :)), and at some point I had blabbed to her about Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies.

In August, Sophia and I went to the SCBWI Summer Conference here in L.A.—where she had signed up for a one on one manuscript critique session with none other than Deborah Halverson!

Author Deborah Halverson and Writer/Blogger Sophia Chang

Naturally, Sophia remembered me telling her about how I had used the book to teach a session on plotting, and she told Deborah about this. Deborah was so pleased that she asked Sophia for an introduction and the two of us met during the authors’ autograph session at the SCBWI Conference.

Author Deborah Halverson and myself at the SCBWI Summer Conference

I was so bummed that I didn’t have my book with me for her to sign. So I brought it the next day, hoping that I might bump into her again. I was beginning to lose hope that I would see Deborah. I mean there were 1,300 people at the conference!  But life has a way of making things happen, and while we were waiting outside the big conference room for the luncheon to start, I saw Deborah again.

She asked me what my plans were for lunch, and invited me to sit with her. I told her I had some friends waiting and if she’d like to join us, and she happily obliged. We sat together during the whole lunch hour and chatted in between listening to the speakers. When I asked her if she’d do an interview for my blog, she was more than happy to help.

So without further interruption, I present an interview with author Deborah Halverson:


The Marvelous Deborah Halverson,

author of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A successful strong woman. Pretty vague, eh? I didn’t have a specific profession in mind until early college, when I decided I want to be an editor for a trade publisher. Of course, there was that secret life-long yen to be a novelist—so secret that I barely admitted it to myself until I decided to give it a go in my mid-thirties. At that point, I had to know if it was a dream worth lugging around any longer, so I started my first novel, Honk If You Hate Me.

Q: What are some of your favorite books?

I love the character work of Karen Cushman and the world-building of Phillip Pullman. I marvel at M.T. Anderson’s ability to craft stories steeped in silliness and then spin on a dime to offer serious and tragic fare.

Q: You were an editor of children’s books for ten years, what prompted you change career paths and become an author instead? What was it like transitioning from editor to writer?

Three little fellas prompted me—my triplets. When they were born I could no longer report to an office, so I left Harcourt to become a freelance editor. That was around the time I’d begun experimenting with my first novel, Honk If You Hate Me. I revised that manuscript while my babies napped and then went on to write novel #2, Big Mouth, when my boys were about a year old. By then I was officially defining myself as a “writer and an editor” instead of just “an editor.” The transition had been, as fully as it would be made. I’ll never cease editing. I love helping other writers too much.

Q: What genre do you love to write? Why?

There’s a quirky side of me that cannot be denied, and it seems to call out for contemporary settings and circumstances. So quirky contemporary YA seems to be my place—at least for now.

Q: Why do you like writing for children? Would you ever write a book for adults as well?

In fact, I’m developing a thriller for adults. It’ll remain in that developmental phase, though, for a bit longer because other projects have bigger flames shooting out of them. I’m not aiming to try for a different category—it’s just that the story came to me and insisted on staying.

Q: How long did you work on your first book? How many rewrites did you do before you finally felt it was ready?

My first book, HONK IF YOU HATE ME, was a couple of years in the making, if we count the time when I first conceived it and experimented. A bit of time passed before I dove in completely, and then I revised after it was contracted. That’s something that new writers wonder about: How much revision will be necessary after contract? You can be guaranteed at least one round of post-contract revising.

Q: What do you think makes a good story?

A good story is one that satisfies its readers. A satisfying story connects with readers, makes them worry, wonder, and commit to the character’s fate.

Q: Do you write outlines for your stories, or do you just follow wherever the story leads?

I love the concept of outlining. How lovely it sounds to know exactly what’s supposed to happen in each scene when I set out to write it. And yet, I’ve tried outlining and discovered that it absolutely kills the project. I suspect that following a fully mapped path is just too stifling for me.

Q: What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

Most of my work day is spent editing other writers’ manuscripts. Then my boys come home from school and there’s no writing to be done then! So like most folks, I must force my writing into my schedule, which means nights, weekends, and the purposely blocked-out day slots. Writing time rarely lands in one’s lap, so writers must recommit to their endeavor every single day.

Q: Are you currently working on any other projects?

I’ve got the wonderful problem of having too many projects going on. I had to put my fiction on hold in order to write, revise, and promote WYAFFD, and now that I’m back at fiction, it’s hard to decide which thing to work on first. I’ve tinkered at a lot of the mss, but I think I’m ready to go all-in with a novel about a high school misfit.

Q: What inspired you to write Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies?

I find teaching extremely rewarding. I love it when a writer walks away from a speech I’ve given or something I’ve written and she’s thinking, “I’ve got to get to my WIP right now and try out that technique!” I love it when I remind a writer about something she’s forgotten. I love it when I spark an epiphany about her story or her writing or the publishing industry. Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies lets me do all of those things for a lot of writers—and it lets me pay forward all the wonderful lessons I got from the editors and authors whom I’ve met on my journey.

Q: Why do you think YA is so popular?

YA novels offer readers everything they could want in a satisfying reading experience: edgy storytelling, offbeat humor, strong narratives, intriguing plots, rich characters, and timeless themes. This makes it popular with both teens and adults, hitting two audiences with one rock.

Q: What advice would you give writers who are writing YA?

Join SCBWI, get yourself into a critique group, and attend writing classes and workshops. In this way you’ll learn the industry and marketplace, you’ll hone your craft, then you’ll get objective input from others who share your passion for writing beautifully for this age group and marketplace.

Q: What would you like to say to your young readers? Is there any advice that you would like to give them?

No matter what you plan to “be” when you grow up, be an avid reader, too. Books improve your ability to communicate, they enlighten you about the world, and above all, they can give you joy even on your least joyous days. Always, when you finish one book, have another at the ready.


Deborah Halverson was an editor at Harcourt Children’s Publishing for 10 years before she became the best-selling author of teen novels Honk If You Hate Me, Big Mouth and Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies.

She also founded the very helpful website for writers:, where you can watch her latest book trailer, and where you can win a FREE 20 page manuscript critique with Deborah.

Learn more about her at

***Come back on Friday for a chance to win a copy of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies!***

8,114 total views, no views today

Hello wonderful friends!

It’s time for another Spotlight Week, where I feature a book review, a matching author interview to go with it—and of course, a book giveaway!

This week I train the spotlight on another wonderful book I’ve discovered:

Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by the fabulous Deborah Halverson.

I had been writing and re-writing my Middle Grade Fantasy book for almost two years when I decided that it was time to set it aside and start working on another book.

This time I wanted to write a Young Adult Fantasy novel. I had a great story idea but I had no clue how to start writing a YA book.

I knew I needed help and I knew just where to find it. I began searching online for books about writing YA, and after comparing tables of content and reviews on several books I found, I decided to that Deborah Halverson’s Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies was the only book I’d ever need to help me write my first ever YA book.

And I was so right!

Product Details

Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (July 5, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0470949546

ISBN-13: 978-0470949542

Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

About the Author

Author Deborah Halverson

Deborah Halverson certainly has the skills and experience to talk about how to write YA books. (You’ll learn more about her in Wednesday’s author interview). She spent 10 years as an editor for Harcourt Children’s Books until she decided to try a hand at writing. She wrote the award-winning teen novels Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth. She also founded, a very helpful website for writers.

About the Book  (From the Back Cover)

The book’s back cover reads:

Your hands-on, friendly guide to writing young adult fiction

Are you interested in writing a young adult novel, but aren’t sure how to develop a style that appeals to young readers? Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies gives you tricks of the trade and proven tips on all the steps to write a marketable YA book, from developing an idea to publishing your manuscript.

Get ready to write — get the scoop on everything you need to know before you begin writing, like pinpointing your audience, finding an angle that’ll make your story stand out, and making use of outlines

What a novel concept — find out how to shape your plot, create teen-friendly characters, develop a convincingly youthful voice, write natural dialogue, and find techniques for connecting with your audience

Put on your editor’s cap — discover how to rewrite and polish your story to transform it from a first draft to a seamless, fluid final draft

Get published — find the right agent and/or editor, craft a one-of-a-kind submission package, and promote your novel once it’s published

Open the book and find:

  • Helpful sidebars from notable YA authors
  • Ideas for timeless themes
  • Four easy steps to writing a killer hook
  • Tips on writing believable characters, settings, and dialogue
  • How to edit and revise with confidence
  • Answers to the most common publishing contract questions
  • Common pitfalls to avoid
  • Advice on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing

Learn to:

  • Develop a writing style that appeals to young readers
  • Turn your ideas into a compelling manuscript through writing exercises
  • Submit your novel to young adult publishers

How the Book Helps Writers (Or My Review)

Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies is a gem of a find. I usually buy at least two books when I want to learn about a particular topic, but Deborah Halverson’s book was so comprehensive and detailed that I didn’t need any other book!

Like most of the For Dummies books, Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies is written in a style that’s simple and easy to understand. Deborah Halverson’s casual way of explaining concepts in the book isn’t only informative, but actually very engaging. It’s like having a one on one session with your favorite English teacher.

The book is divided into five parts:

Part I: Getting Ready to Write Young Adult Fiction, gives us the lowdown on on YA fiction. Here, Deborah helps us understand what YA Fiction is, and how and why it’s different from other genres. She also talks about how to face the challenges of writing YA, and how to exploit the unique opportunities that writing a YA book presents.

More importantly, Deborah discusses things we must know before we even begin to write a YA story. She gives great insight into the minds of the teens we wish to write for. She also lists popular themes that teenagers can relate to, no matter what generation they may belong to.

In Part II: Writing Riveting Young Adult Fiction, Deborah gives various techniques and exercises to turn our ideas into a solid first draft. She explains how to shape a plot, sculpt believable and memorable characters, develop a youthful narrative voice and natural teen dialogue, and manipulate setting to enhance all these elements.

Part III: Editing, Revising and Formatting Your Manuscript shows us how to assess the story we’ve written so far, identify problem areas and perform a plan to fix these storytelling/grammatical problems.  Part III also offers great tips and techniques for revising and editing our manuscript so that the story flows into a perfectly executed final draft.

Part IV: Getting Published tells us how to get our manuscripts out there. She discusses how to find the right agent and/or editor, craft a great query letter and synopsis, and create an enticing submission package. She also talks about self-publishing and other marketing tips and strategies.

And finally, in Part V: The Part of Tens, Deborah discusses other helpful topics such as common pitfalls in writing YA fiction, facts about book contracts, and ways to make the most of writing conferences.

Other important tidbits are sprinkled throughout the book such as important things we should keep in mind as we read onward, trouble spots we should watch out for, extra in depth technical information about writing, and exercises we could do to help us get out of writer’s block.

The book is incredibly well organized and can be read from cover to cover, or by part.

I found her chapters on Creating Teen Friendly Characters and on Building the Perfect Plot the most effective when I began writing my own YA novel. I actually shared some of the book’s exercises with my writing group members when I did a session on plotting and they all found it incredibly helpful.

I wish this book had been around when I first started writing.  Deborah’s tips, techniques and exercises apply not only to writing YA fiction, but also to writing any other kind of book.

Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies is the only book you’ll ever need if you wish to learn how to write great middle grade or young adult fiction.

Deborah Halverson is debuting her Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies book trailer this week. Go to to watch the book trailer.

To celebrate the release of her book trailer, Deborah is also giving away a FREE CRITIQUE of the FIRST 20 PAGES OF YOUR FICTION MANUSCRIPT. You can check out the rules of the giveaway HERE.


Stay tuned for the next post in the Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies Week: An Author Interview with Deborah Halverson on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

7,490 total views, 2 views today

I was listening to the news when I heard Ellen Degeneres was coming out.

Ellen Degeneres

I thought to myself “Well, that’s old news.” She came out to Oprah on National Television 1997, creating a nationwide uproar and paving the way for millions of LGBT people all over the world to finally have a spokesperson that people couldn’t help but like.

Of course, I hadn’t heard the newscaster’s whole report because I was brushing my teeth so loudly. I realized that he said Ellen Degeneres was coming out with a new book. I almost choked on my toothbrush with excitement.

If you’ve been living in a cave somewhere for centuries, then you’re probably a caveman vampire, and you most likely don’t know who Ellen is. Ellen Degeneres is an American stand-up  comedienne, actress and  host of The Ellen Degeneres Show. She’s also the voice of Dory, in Disney Pixar’s Finding Nemo.

Dory (Finding Nemo) voiced by Ellen Degeneres

Her newest book, “Seriously…. I’m Kidding” is just as hilarious, entertaining and inspiring as her two previous books “The Funny Thing Is…” and “My Point…And I Do Have One.”

The book is published by Grand Central Publishing, a division of the Hachette Book Group, and is filled with snippets from Ellen’s life, and tons of funny quips, tips, advice and stories.

Here’s an excerpt from “Seriously…. I’m Kidding”, in case you want proof of just how funny Ellen is:

Writing This Book

Over the last year or so since I decided to write this book, people have been asking me how I have the time and why I chose to write it. The truth is, last June I was driving through a tunnel while I was on the phone with my agent and my cell service was spotty. I said, “I just got a great Ikea table for my breakfast nook.” My agent thought I said, “I’ve got a great idea for my newest book.”

By the time we figured out our hilarious misunderstanding I had signed a whole bunch of papers (who has time to read all those words?!) and I was under contract to write a book. Similarly, a few years ago, I told my agent, “I think I got some fudge on my lapel,” and he thought I said, “I want to be a judge on American Idol.” Since then I got a new phone. And I found out my agent’s name is Marvin, not Blarvin.

But the real truth is, I’m glad I decided to write this book. I love writing and I do feel like I’ve learned a lot about life and love and other “L” words since I wrote my last book, and there are things I want to share with the world.

– Ellen Degeneres, from her book “Seriously…I’m Kidding.”

See how funny she is?

So when I heard she was having a book launch at Barnes & Noble, The Grove (where all the famous stars and big authors have their signings), I told my booksigning buddy Lena, who is also a big fan of Ellen. Big book signings like these is one of the perks of living in Los Angeles. We decided that this was one event we didn’t want to miss.

Event wall at Barnes & Noble, The Grove, L.A.

October 4, 2011 Tuesday

Since Lena had 70+ hours left of time off, and since she needed a break anyway, Lena decided to take the day off so she could be one of the first people in line to get a wristband for Ellen’s book signing. (We’d learned our lesson from Rick Riordan’s book signing last Sunday, and didn’t want to miss out this time).

Lena got to the Grove at 7am and there were already 20 people waiting in line to get into Barnes & Noble. When it opened at 9am, Lena used my Barnes & Noble membership card and purchased 3 books (there was a limit on as to how many you could buy for the event.)

Since I was a B &N member, and since she had bought 3 books, Lena got 3 Silver (priority) Wristbands. Naturally, I invited Bon and his mom Ludy to come and join us for the signing. Lena also drove to another Barnes & Noble in the area to buy 6 more books so that we would have 3 books each to get signed.

Ellen’s signing was at 7pm, but we arrived early at 5:30pm and got in line. Since we had silver wristbands, we were part of the priority queue. We stood closest to the signing stage and we were actually 10th in line to get our books signed.

Waiting in line with Lena

Waiting in line with Bon & Tita Ludy

The area was quite calm when we first got there. There were a couple of security people near the stage and a few B & N employees managing the line.

Signing area at Barnes & Noble before Ellen Degeneres arrived

Ten minutes into our wait, the line got longer and longer. It snaked all the way down to the second floor of the 3 storey B & N building.

Barnes & Noble, The Grove

It was all very quiet–that is, until Ellen Degeneres arrived. The crowd started screaming and clapping and calling out to her.

Ellen Degeneres waltzes into the signing area

Ellen had on her trademark suit and smile. She looked out at the line of people  waiting to see her up close.

Ellen Degeneres looking out at the line of people

She was probably trying to figure out how she’d be able to sign at least a thousand books in one night.

She got her game face on,

“Wow, there’s more people than I thought.”

Sat down and took a long drink,

“I can do this. I can sign a thousand copies in two hours.”

And got to work.

“All right, let’s get this over with.”

“I hope that photographer’s getting a good picture of me signing this book.”

As soon as Ellen sat down, camera crew, photographers and security people swarmed around her like bees.  Bon had taken up the role of photographer since he was the tallest of us (and we had only 3 wristbands).

Ellen Degeneres being swarmed by people.

Even with Bon’s height, he couldn’t get a good picture of each of us getting our books signed. The line moved fast and Bon had 3 seconds to snap a fuzzy picture of me getting my books signed:

Me getting my books signed by Ellen

The four of us had waited in line for an hour, and we were out of there  five minutes after Ellen arrived.

Ellen couldn’t personalize the books because a lot of people were waiting in line. By the time we got downstairs, we saw that the line had snaked up to the second floor.

We only got to see her for a few minutes, but it was worth it.

I love Ellen Degeneres. She is a constant ray of sunshine.  I DVR her show (because I can’t exactly watch TV while I’m at work) and watching it always brings a smile to my face. She’s genuinely lovable and her humor is just an innate part of her.

The thing I really love about her stand up acts is that she is never offensive. Most of her jokes are based on things she observes from real life (such as how people try to fix wedgies while they’re walking and try to hide it by taking great strides or making funny movements). She makes fun mostly of herself, or of people she personally knows would forgive her anyway (like her wife Portia De Rossi or her mom Betty Degeneres).

Getting to see her in person was indeed a great treat.


As an added bonus, we got to see actor and musician Jack Black .

Jack Black and some friends

He and musician Stephen Stills had a concert to raise awareness for Autism the same night at the Grove.

Jack Black and Stephen Stills Concert to Raise Awareness for Autism

Jack Black certainly had fun rocking out on stage that night.

Jack Black rocking out

5,637 total views, no views today

October 2, 2011, Sunday

When I heard that Rick Riordan, author of the popular Percy Jackson series was going to be in town, I immediately dragged my ever patient booksigning buddy Lena with me to the Grove.

The book signing was at 2pm, so we left at around 12, thinking we’d get there at least an hour and a half before the signing started. Of course, we totally forgot about L.A. street traffic and got there an hour before instead.

We lined up at Barnes & Noble only to find out that all the wristbands for the event had been given away. That meant, that although we could watch the book signing events from afar, we couldn’t line up to get our books personally signed by Rick Riordan.

So I did what any fan would do, and instead, I just bought signed copies of his books, which were still thankfully available. Then, we went outside to the lawn in the middle of The Grove, where a stage had been set up for the event.

Lots of people had gathered to see Rick Riordan, many of them young fans who’ve faithfully followed Percy Jackson’s adventures.

The crowd gathered to see Rick Riordan

There was a booth on the side where ladies wearing togas were dressing kids and adults alike in togas and gold wreaths. Anyone who was interested in dressing for the occasion simply walked up to them and asked for a costume.

Ladies giving away togas

Even the gods of Olympus had set aside their busy schedules to help Rick Riordan promote his new book. Aphrodite, Athena, Hades, Ares, Hephaestus, Poseidon and Zeus went on stage to address the crowd.

The Greek Gods of Olympus

Zeus, did most of the talking as usual.

Zeus & Vincent Martella, voice of Phineas in Disney’s Phineas & Ferb

He even introduced young actor Vincent Martella, who does voice for Phineas in the very popular Disney Cartoon – Phineas & Ferb.

Disney’s Phineas & Ferb

A loud cheer went up as author Rick Riordan came up on stage to briefly say hello and thank everyone for coming.

Rick Riordan and the Greek Gods

The gods then lined up on stage to do a reading from The Son of Neptune, Book Two of the Heroes of Olympus Series.

The Greek Gods reading from the Son of Neptune

The gods received a big applause when they had done, then Zeus re-introduced author Rick Riordan, who took over the stage for his Question and Answer portion.

Rick Riordan greeting the crowd

Rick told us a little bit about himself and about how he got started writing during the Q & A portion. He told us the true story of how he had kept his very first rejection letter, and of how his mother had framed it so that he would see it every time he walked by the living room.

He also told us that when he was in college, a fire had raged in his mother’s house–and everything got burned down except for the rejection letter!

He doesn’t mind it so much now that his mother had placed the rejection letter next to a copy of the New York Times Best Seller list.

Rick Riordan, author of the popular Percy Jackson Series

Hades and Ares went around the crowd looking for kids who were interested in asking Rick a question.

Hades assists in the Q & A portion

One of the children asked Rick how he got started writing the Percy Jackson series. He said the idea came to him while he was teaching. I was surprised to find out that he was  a middle school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area for years before he wrote Percy Jackson. I wasn’t surprised to find out, however, that he taught English & History and had a particular love for Greek mythology.

Several children wanted to know what happens to their favorite characters and Rick told them that they would have to wait for the next book to find out.

The Q & A soon ended, and Zeus announced that all those who had wristbands should line up for the book signing. I was a bit sad that I couldn’t talk to Rick in person, but I was also quite happy that at least I had gotten to listen to him and get signed copies of his books.

Lena and I left the Grove. We were already looking forward to the next book signing event we would be going to in a few days–Ellen Degeneres.

5,206 total views, 1 views today

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” [Steve Jobs, The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993]

Steve Jobs, courtesy of Frum Forum

I was in the midst of month-end reports and number-crunching yesterday when the news came that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had died.

Ignoring the glaring calculator, I put down my pen and started surfing the web for news of Steve Jobs.  I felt an enormous sadness wash over me as I browsed through his pictures and read articles about him.

Apple’s homepage displayed a simple black and white photo of him, with the year of his birth, and the year of his death. It was simple, sleek, elegant. An understated yet efficient design that Steve Jobs would certainly approve of.

I wanted to tear up, only I couldn’t because I was at work and my boss would get suspicious if he saw me crying over a ledger of numbers.

My reaction is funny, considering I’ve always been a PC person. I’ve never owned a mac, or an ipad. I never even had an ipod. But the news of his death still affected me greatly, and I had to stop for a moment and try to figure out why it did.

Reading about his life story and all his accomplishments made me understand why I and many others mourn the loss of Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs, courtesy of Wired

Steve was born on February 24, 1955 to two University of Wisconsin grad students. Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, gave their unnamed son up for adoption because apparently, Simpson’s parents didn’t approve of her marrying a Syrian. Later on, however, love prevailed and the two eventually married and had a daughter, Mona Simpson.

Perhaps it was fate that they had given up their son, and that Clara and Paul Jobs adopted him and gave him the name Steven Paul Jobs. Clara was an accountant, and Paul was a Coast Guard veteran and machinist, and the two lived in Silicone Valley, which would later on become the leading hub for high tech innovation and development.

Paul Jobs showed his son how to take apart and reconstruct electronics in the family garage. This hobby certainly instilled not only mechanical prowess in young Steve, but also a love of electronics and innovation.

Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon after 6 months. He was more interested in taking creative classes. He later on  said, “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”

Before he became a technician at Atari, Steve met another Steve, who became his friend, and later on his business partner.  Steve Wozniak was an electronics hacker, and he and Steve Jobs created Apple from Jobs’s garage.

In 1984, following a slump in the once booming sales, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. He went on to create NeXT computers in 1985, and the following year, he bought the Graphics Group from George Lucas. Later on this company would be known as Pixar, and would partner up with Disney to produce some of the most memorable animated films on the planet like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Up.

In 1997, Apple bought the floundering NeXT Computers, and Steve returned to his Job as Apple’s CEO. Steve Job’s second coming to Apple proved to be the driving force that changed the company’s luck forever. He came out with ingenious products such as the iMac, which caught every consumers eye with its simple yet stylish designs and its powerful branding campaigns.

Steve also pushed digital music and cellphones to a new level with the release of the iTunes store and the iPhone. And most recently, he once more pushed technology forward with the release of the iPad.

Steve Job and his Ipad, courtesy of

Yesterday, after a long battle to Pancreatic Cancer, Steve Jobs passed away peacefully in the company of his loved ones.

After reading about Steve’s life and times, I finally realized why I felt an enormous sorrow at his passing (despite my lack of iphones or macs).

Steve Jobs was not only an excellent CEO and entrepreneur. He was an inventor and innovator like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. More than that, he ushered in a new era of possibilities and changed the world one innovation at a time. By example, he dared us to be passionate about our work, to challenge the rules, to think different, and to live our lives to its fullest potential.

I own no macs, no iphones, but I do own and love several Pixar movies—none of which would be possible without Steve.

Steve, you did one heck of a Job. I thank you for all the technology you have spawned, and even encouraged in other companies. We will remember you for your jeans and turtleneck shirts, your quirky quips, your technological savvy. But most of all, we will remember you for changing our lives.

Tribute left to Steve outside an Apple Store in London, courtesy of Yahoo

Another brilliant light has gone out in the world with his passing. We could only imagine what other dazzling innovations he might have come up with if he had lived longer. He will truly be missed.

His legacy will live on in every Apple product. But I think the best way to honor his work isn’t really by buying all his products, but by taking into our hearts his words:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

Apple Headquarters switches off their Apple logo in honor of their leader, courtesy of Yahoo

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Think Different, narrated by Steve Jobs

courtesy of Apple

More Articles about Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs Earned His Place in the American Business Pantheon

The incredible legacy of Steve Jobs: From the mouse to the iPad

Steve Jobs Biography

Steve Jobs Wikipedia Entry

A Collection of Inspirational Steve Jobs Quotes About Life, Design and Apple

Steve Jobs’s Best Quotes

5,830 total views, no views today

Blog Awards!

Last month I received two Blog Awards from some dear bloggy friends.

Thank you Julie Flanders for the Seriously Cute Blogger Award. I must be seriously cute as I’ve received this award twice. :)

I’m passing the Seriously Cute Blogger Award on to the following bloggers:

1. Damyanti at

2. Carla Jansen at Carla Jansen’s Writing World

3.  Jennie Bailey at Garden Full of Lily

4. Sophia Chang at Sophia the Writer

5. Elizabeth Briggs at Liz Writes

6. Jennifer Shirk at Me, My Muse and I

7.  Lynda Young at W.I.P. It

8. Bobbie Pyron at Bobbie Pyron

9. Laurisa White Reyes at A Thousand Wrongs

10. Bish Denham at Random Thoughts

Another bloggy friend, Carla Jansen, has gifted me with the 7 x 7 Link Award. Thanks, Carla! :)

The rule is that I have to post 7 links from my own blog which correspond to a specific category:

Most Beautiful: Stonehenge Special Access Tour

Most Helpful: Income Tax for Writers

Most Popular: Just Haven’t Met You Yet (A Song for My Future Agent)

Most Controversial: Envy into Energy

Most Surprisingly Successful: Lauren Kate Book Signing

Most Underrated: The Bully Archetype

Most Pride Worthy: Author Advice (West Hollywood Bookfair 2010)

I’m passing these awards on to the following bloggers:

1. Theresa Milstein at Theresa’s Tales of Teaching Tribulations  & Typing Teen Text

2. Rosalind Adams at Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain

3. Hilary at Positive Letters

4. Medeia Sharif at Medeia Sharif

5. Karen Strong at Musings of a Novelista

6. Alex Cavanaugh at Alex Cavanaugh

7. Cynthia Willis at Laptops and Lattes

8. Veronica Singleton at Thursday’s Child

9. Kristen Kittscher at Sleuths, Spies & Alibis

10. Susan Oloier at Memoirs of a Writer

These are all amazing, wonderful bloggers and you just have to drop by their websites and say hello!

Okay, I’m off to congratulate all these seriously awesome folks.

894 total views, no views today