Monday, December 17, 2007

Survivor: Thinking Ahead

Watched all three hours of the Survivor: China finale. I thought for sure that Amanda would walk away with the million, which made me pretty happy. Of the final four, she's the one I wanted to win.

But no.

Amanda completely whiffed on her arguments to the jury. I wanted to shake the TV and tell her to spit out something along the lines of, "It was really difficult to vote out Denise, because I like her so much and I felt like we formed a bond. And she fought like mad to stay in the game, which I respect. But I went with Todd at the end--despite the fact that he's probably my biggest threat--because I gave him my word on day one. It was a huge risk to do that, but I hope that honoring my promise from day one earns me your vote. I also fought hard on every single challenge, helping my tribe win a lot of the immunities--that's what gave us all a fighting chance at the million." Her half-answers cost her a number of votes...and the million.

On the other hand, Todd didn't apologize for anything, and emphasized all of his accomplishments. His great presentation to the jury earned him a million. And Courtney, who couldn't even cut through a rope with a machete, managed to earn herself a few votes by focusing on her underdog status and keeping everyone laughing with her blunt comments.

Amanda, you had a shot, but you blew it. You didn't think ahead and plan out what you wanted to say (at least, it didn't seem like you did.) Just like my fave player, James, blew it by not thinking ahead.

Denise blew it a few weeks ago by voting out James. If she'd have warned him about Amanda's plan, the two of them could've flipped on Todd and Amanda, and they'd have gone all the way to the end. (Pretty nice of Mark Burnett to give her $50,000, though!)

Can't wait for next season..."Fans vs. Favorites" starts in February. Anyone else planning to tune in? Who do you want to show up on the "faves" team? I'm crossing my fingers that James will be there.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Question of the day: Should every record, award, or other accomplishment of those players named in the Mitchell report on steriod use in baseball be asterisked in the books?

Steroid use is cheating, plain and simple. It's no different than writers who plagiarize and blame deadline pressure. Or students who steal a test and argue that they didn't need to cheat, they simply didn't have enough time to study with extracurriculars, etc., so what's the big deal? (Hearing this from friends always pissed me off when I was in high school. And don't get me started on writers who plagiarize. My word choices would garner me an R rating.)

As with all cases of cheating, steroid use is unfair to the players who don't cheat. (Rely on talent and hard work alone to make the cut? Whatta concept!!) Many players named in the report say there's no tangible evidence of steroid use, and that the report is pure conjecture. Maybe their claims would convince a judge and/or jury, and maybe not, but Mitchell's report is full of cashed checks and notes from the players he names. It's enough to hold up in the principal's office.

No matter what happens to the players named in the report--or to the home run records and Cy Young awards they've picked along the way--huge props are due to George Mitchell and those who worked with him on the report for their focus on the future. I hope MLB adopts Mitchell's recommendations for testing, education, and prevention. The game will be far, far better in ten years if it's cleaned up today. And any accomplishments won't need an asterisk.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Say It Isn't So!

The big rumor here in Boston--at least according to the Boston Globe--is that the Red Sox, who've been talking trade with the Twins in order to get pitcher Johan Santana, have thrown Jacoby Ellsbury into the mix.

What are they thinking? The guy scored free tacos for the entire country, fer cryin' out loud!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Yes, They ARE Out To Get You

Color me thrilled with last night's episode of The Amazing Race and the ouster of Shanna and Jennifer. The pair claimed that they were a lot like the "Beauty Queens" team of Dustin and Kandice. Um, nope. Dustin and Kandice weren't my faves when they started out on the show, but they grew on me. They rarely argued (a tough thing, given the circumstances of the race), they knew each other's strengths and weaknesses, and they cheered each other on through the toughest days. Not so Shana and Jennifer. Talk about a whine-o-rama. The only thing these two have in common with Dustin and Kandice is hair color. Note to Jennifer: you wouldn't have made it as far as you did without Shana using that U-Turn, so you should've been thanking her for doing it. Remember that it's a game . You're supposed to get the other teams by using the U-Turn! It's in the rules and everything!

So glad I don't have to listen to them fighting again next week.

On the other hand, color me not-so-thrilled about James being voted out on this week's episode of Survivor China. James had the right attitude about the game (loved that he was able to simply shrug and say he blew it at the end, instead of storming off like many other losing contestants), but the wrong attitude about his tribemates. They were out to get him. They knew that if he stayed even one more round, the game was likely to be his. James's trusting, optimistic nature is what makes everyone like him, but it was also his downfall.

What I've have LOVED to have seen: Denise flip and tell James that the rest of the tribe was about to vote him out. I kept waiting for it to happen, but no dice. (Arrgh!) James was Denise's tightest ally, and I think that going along with the group to get rid of him will leave her adrift. She still hasn't figured out that she's dead last in the alliance's pecking order. But if she'd saved James's tail by cluing him in to Amanda's plan, they could have ousted Todd instead. James would owe her...and I bet the two of them would have gone to the end. Even if she couldn't beat him with the jury, second is better than she's likely to do against the rest of the group.

James's ouster means I have to figure out which Survivor to cheer for now. Amanda is playing a smart game, so props to her. I think she's going to turn on Todd next...wonder if he's aware of that? If so, she's toast. Erik and Courtney are coasting. Peih-Gee is just annoying.

Guess I'll see who impresses me next week....

Friday, November 30, 2007


I subscribe to four magazines: Newsweek, National Geographic, Shape, and Self. When I'm going to be on an airplane, I treat myself to an airport-purchased copy of Lucky and/or Allure. Magazines are my guilty pleasure--their bite-size columns give me the ability to stop and start without losing my train of thought, as sometimes happens when I'm reading a book.

I hit the magazine jackpot at Thanksgiving, though--my sister-in-law handed me a stack of magazines she'd read on the flight from Minnesota to Colorado so I could read them on my flight home to Boston. I devoured Entertainment Weekly and US Weekly (which made me glad not to have paparazzi following me, hoping to get a shot of me tripping over a curb or with something stuck in my teeth.) But the most guilty pleasure of all was the "Sexiest Man" issue of People. Matt Damon was this year's winner. Kudos to the mag for making an out-of-the-box choice!

I was also glad to see Peter Krause and Seth Gabel from my newest fave TV show, Dirty Sexy Money. I'd be tempted to subscribe and feed my addiction, but I doubt that with all those magazines floating around my house, I'd ever get my writing done.

Normally I recycle my magazines, but when I finished this batch, I left them scattered in different seat backs so people on the next flight could do some guilty pleasure reading while airborne.

So what about you? What magazines are your guilty pleasures? And what do you do with them when you're done reading?

*** And a P.S. to today's blog, for those of you who do your guilty pleasure reading on the web: I'm featured today in author Cynthia Leitich Smith's popular blog, Cynsations. Thanks to Cyn for giving me the chance to chat about the creation of Goddess Games! ***

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Harlan Ellison Gets It

There's a fantastic short interview with author Harlan Ellison on YouTube. You can watch it by clicking here. Harlan explains--as only he can--why good writers need to be well-compensated.

I get frequent requests to write "for the exposure." As in, without being paid to write. And my answer is always no. I'm not quite as colorful in my "no" as Harlan, but people are shocked--shocked!--when I decline. It's not that I'm a Scrooge--I do plenty of things for charity--but no way will I ever write for free for any for-profit entity. And I don't think any writer should.

Think about Michelangelo. Leonardo da Vinci. Were they doing their work for free? Heck no. Not even at the beginning of their careers. They had patrons who paid for their housing, food, etc. If they gave away their work for the "exposure" or the "publicity," would it be so highly valued today? I don't think so. They knew what I wish every artist, writer, or creative person knew: You must value your own work before anyone else will.

I'm not saying I'm Michelangelo. Wouldn't want to be (I can't imagine he found the Sistine Chapel worth the backache in the end.) But I value what I do, and others must, too, or they wouldn't be asking me to do it for them. For PAY.

If someone finds what you do--no matter what it is--to be of value, make sure they give you something of equal value in return. If you do your job well, they'll be more than happy to do so.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thursday Three-fer

Three random things for which I am thankful this Thursday:

1) Ramen noodles. I would have been very, very hungry in college if not for Ramen. Money was pretty tight for me. I stayed in the dorm or my apartment during Thanksgiving and spring break, flying home only during Christmas. I shared textbooks with roommates, skipped cable, tutored athletes and did work-study. Anything to keep a positive balance in my bank account. Ramen tastes good (c'mon, admit it), fills you up, and--best of all--it's dirt cheap.

2) Tomato soup. Cheap, tasty, and a good source of vitamin A. The grocery store near my apartment used to have occasional 5 for a dollar sales on Campbell's Tomato. I'd get a ride to the store and pick up (gasp!) ten bucks' worth. It meant lunch for a month and a half!

3) Frozen veggies. Again, I was pretty darned poor in college, but I didn't want to live on an all-sodium, all the time diet. (Eating nothing but tomato soup and ramen probably had me slowly turning to salt.) But frozen veggies were cheap, frequently on sale, and meant I could get some variety in my diet. I could toss them into the soup or the ramen, eat 'em on their own, or spice them up.

Today, I made myself some tomato soup with frozen okra for lunch. Just because.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Seattle Recap, Award Predictions

Had a fabulous trip to Seattle this past weekend. Kicked it off by meeting a group of librarians from the King County Library System. If you live anywhere near Seattle, check out their website--King County is the second-largest library system in the country, and they've put together wonderful programs for teens and adults.

I did a booksigning alongside several other authors in town for the Emerald City Writers' Conference, which meant the trip allowed me the opportunity to network with writer friends. I spent a great deal of time with Leah Vale and Terri Reed, then had a to-die-for Italian dinner with Susan Andersen, Elizabeth Boyle, Christina Dodd, Rachel Gibson, and Laura Lee Guhrke. They even tolerated my rude behavior when I kept checking the Rockies/Red Sox score on my iPhone (which was semi-hidden under the table.)

On Sunday, after the conference wrapped up, I spent the afternoon with Elizabeth Boyle and her family. We sat on her deck and enjoyed the great weather, set up her new MySpace page, then watched the first half of game four of the World Series. We made a dash for the airport during the seventh inning stretch and I managed to catch most of the eighth and the entire ninth inning in a sports bar at SeaTac before flying back to Boston. (Thanks, Elizabeth!)

Needless to say, huge, huge congrats to the Boston Red Sox, and to Series MVP Mike Lowell! I thought the Colorado Rockies would pull off that last game (it was close!), but in the end, I do think the stronger team prevailed. However, the Rockies had a fabulous season, winning 21 of 22 games right before entering the World Series (including a playoff sweep of the Diamondbacks), so I hope that's not lost in the celebration for the Sox (probably one of the strongest lineups ever to take the field....thanks, Theo!)

Since today's a parade day here in Boston, I figure it's as good a time as any to make award predictions:

NL Cy Young:
• Who Should Win: Jake Peavy
• Who Will Win: Jake Peavy

-- Solid all year, and strongest in the NL with 19 wins.

AL Cy Young:
• Who Should Win: Josh Beckett
• Who Will Win: Josh Beckett

-- Biggest no-brainer of all. You go, Josh!

NL Rookie of the Year:
• Who Should Win: Troy Tulowitzki
• Who Will Win: Troy Tulowitzki

-- He's been amazing in the field and is a big reason the Rockies went to the Series. If he steps up with the bat, he could be the next Derek Jeter.

AL Rookie of the Year:
• Who Should Win: Dustin Pedroia
• Who Will Win: Dustin Pedroia

-- Made spectacular defensive plays and kept a high batting average all year. I kept waiting for him to fall apart (no rookie can keep hitting like that, can they?) but he never did.

• Who Should Win: Matt Holliday
• Who Will Win: Matt Holliday

-- Nabbed the NL batting title, was solid in the field and inspirational in the clubhouse. Go, Matt!

• Who Should Win: Mike Lowell
• Who Will Win: Alex Rodriguez

-- I'm Sox-centric. So shoot me. Lowell is Mr. Steady. Hope he has a blast during today's parade through Boston.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Autographed Books!

This is your chance to get an autographed Niki Burnham book (for yourself, or as a Christmas or birthday gift for a friend!)

Yesterday, I signed piles of books for the Borders store in Redmond, Washington. But if you act quickly, you can get an autographed copy sent to YOUR local Borders!

Here's what you need to do:

1) Go to your local Borders;

2) Tell them you'd like to order a book from Borders #0191 in Redmond, Washington;

3) Your store will call up the Redmond Borders and let you know which autographed copies are still available (I signed copies of Goddess Games, Sticky Fingers, and Scary Beautiful);

4) You pay for it at your local Borders; and

5) They'll call you when it comes in.

The Redmond Borders will only have these books for a limited time (the employees are probably tripping on them!) so if this is something you want to do, please act sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, thanks again for all your support (I think I have the best readers in the world!!) and be sure to check out my all-new website and bulletin boards.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dual Citizenship at Game One

First off, yes, I realize I should have posted this immediately following the game. However, immediately following the game I had to hustle home, get ONE HOUR of sleep, grab my suitcase, then drive back past Fenway to get to the airport to fly to Seattle. So I'm a little pokey on posting.

HOWEVER...I had a FABULOUS time at game one, despite the blowout (which is not so fun, no matter which team you want to win. Blowouts suck.)

I got to Fenway just as the gates opened. Instead of going in, however, I decided to walk down Lansdowne Street to the studio of WEEI Sports Radio to catch the pregame show. Glenn Ordway was taking calls, and of course everyone was talking about how the Rockies stink and the Red Sox are perfect. There wasn't a Rockies fan to be seen on the street.

I had on a black pullover, so I took my Rockies cap out of my backpack and put it on. Just because. As much as I'm a Red Sox fan, I thought the conversation was a bit one-sided.

Well, Ordway stopped the caller, pointed at me out the window, and said, "Wait a minute! I think we have Miss Colorado out here! She's actually wearing a Rockies hat!" (I'm telling you, there were NO other Rockies fans in sight. I was taking my life into my hands.) Ordway said something else about me maybe being on his flight to Denver on Saturday, and something about how he couldn't stop the show to do _____? I couldn't hear what he said, because the people around me were booing my hat. (Little do they know I'm also a Sox fan.) Wish I knew what he'd said!

After watching for a while longer, I decided to go around to Yawkey Way and see what was happening inside the park. As I went through the turnstile, Larry Lucchino shook my hand and welcomed me to Fenway Park. Must say, I felt really, really wrong shaking his hand while wearing a Rockies hat.

Once inside, I made my way past the Rockies' dugout to stand behind the Fox broadcast platform, just down the third base line. Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes was broadcasting alongside Kevin Kennedy and the rest of the Fox News anchors. But check out Eric's shoes:

Yep, he was wearing ripped up jeans and Vans. They were giving him a hard time pre-broadcast, and I loved every minute of it.

I counted a grand total of eight Rockies fans inside the ballpark (this was my count during the entire game), but one--who'd flown in from Denver--was down watching the Fox broadcast with me. I took a picture of him with his friend (a Red Sox fan), then he took a picture of me, just so I could prove I was there. (Plus, I doubt any Sox fans would have been willing to take my picture.)

The Rockies were catching balls in the outfield if they weren't in the batter's box. My next future husband, Matt Holliday (after Jacoby Ellsbury...but there's a whole 'nuther blog on that) was chatting with Brad Hawpe and Troy Tulowitzki as they fielded balls.

When it was Holliday's turn to bat, he walked my direction, saw my hat, and gave me a huge grin and a wave when I gave him a thumbs up (remember...the stands were a solid blanket of red-hatted fans, so I stood out.) I called my husband to let him know my Series was officially complete, because Holliday smiled at me. I suspect it was yet another moment he regretted giving me his ticket.

I watched Holliday take batting practice, made my way through the crowd (with much heckling), got a high five from Wally, the Green Monster, then hid in a bathroom stall (I know where the clean ones are located) to change into a red long-sleeved shirt, a Manny Ramirez jersey, and Red Sox hat. Before heading to my seat, I did pin a Colorado flag to the top.

I think I represented my home state well (hey, the Big O called me Miss Colorado on the air!) But at Fenway, after 8 pm, I was once again a member of Red Sox Nation. I got back to my seat just in time for team introductions. Took this shot of the lineup, but hate to guess what Manny Corpas was thinking here:

The shot of my two favorite managers, Terry Francona (best thing ever to happen to the Red Sox) and Clint Hurdle was better:

John Williams and the Boston Pops did the Star Spangled Banner, the first pitch was thrown by Yaz and the rest of the '67 Red Sox, and we were underway!

Josh Beckett threw a fantastic game, as everyone knew he would. Even Matt Holliday struck out in the first. (Sadly, I took a picture of that, too.)

Jeff Francis, unfortunately, had one of his worst outings of the year. Bummer, because I wanted both teams to play to the level of which they're capable. And I wanted to see how the Sox handled Francis when he pitched his best.

In the end, it was a 13-1 blowout (game two was much more balanced, with a final score of 2-1, in favor of the Red Sox, thanks to great pitching by Jonathan Papelbon and the super-cool, always underrated Hideki Okajima.)

On the way out, I spotted the coolest hat in the has Fenway Park, the Green Monster, and the Citgo sign on top, and helmets of all the AL teams around the outside:

Now that's a fan!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The "Ticket-Buying Experience" (With Bonus!)

Sounds like a Disney ride, or something Trekkers might see at the Las Vegas Hilton, but it is sooooo not.

Try staring at these words for, oh, THREE AND A HALF HOURS:

Please wait for the server to become available. The site is experiencing heavy loads at this time.

To improve your ticket-buying experience and to make it as pleasant as possible, this site permits entry to a limited number of patrons at a time.

This page will refresh when the countdown timer below reaches zero. When this happens, the system will automatically try to access the site again.

Do not refresh this page or you will be dropped to the end of the line. Thank you for your patience.

Here's what would have made "ticket-buying experience" (experience? they call this an experience?) "as pleasant as possible": If I could GET THROUGH.

Two and a half hours on Monday, then they announced a server crash. Then three hours yesterday before my screen told me that games three and four were sold out, and there were a "limited number" of seats still available for game five. A half-hour trying for game five, and it, too, sold out. (I'd originally been trying for game four.) And what's worse? That little line about not refreshing the page. What do you do when it freezes? You HAVE to refresh.

Some experience.

Same thing happened to everyone in my family (and extended family, and friends, nearly all of whom are in Colorado) who tried to get tickets. Not one of us got through, ever. Grumble, grumble. I *so* wanted to see a game at Coors Field to cheer on the Rockies. Apparently, however, they do not want me.

On the bright side, I'm going to game one tonight at Fenway. We have ONE ticket, and my husband told me six weeks ago (thinking he was making the safest promise ever), "If it ends up being the Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies, you can have it."

I'm still waiting for the planet to spin off its axis.

So I'm there. My husband is kicking himself. And the biggest surprise is probably awaiting the poor guy who has the other of our two seats for the game...we split our tickets six ways, and Jim has the other seat for tonight. I'm sure he's expecting to kick back, enjoy the game, and have a beer with my husband while he cheers on the Sox. Instead, he gets The Wife. And not only that, he gets The Wife Who Is Also A Rockies Fan.

That brings me to a big dilemma: What do I wear?!? If I'd snagged a seat at Coors for later in the week, it'd be easy...wear Red Sox gear at Fenway, Rockies gear at Coors. Cheer for each team in their home ballpark and enjoy the fact that I get to see my two absolute favorite teams in the Series. But I'm just not willing to shell out over a grand for Rockpile seats on StubHub so I can give a healthy profit to the jerk who managed to buy a ticket online yesterday with the sole motive of reselling to an actual (gasp) FAN.

Instead, I think I'll end up wearing my Manny Ramirez jersey over a Colorado State T-shirt, then pinning a Colorado flag to my hat. (Though which hat, I haven't decided yet. Probably a Sox hat, if I want to survive the evening in one piece.) I'll try to get online sometime tomorrow to post pics from game one (the camera battery is fully charged this time!) Maybe I can convince Jim to take a picture of me before some drunk fan rips the Colorado pin off my hat.

In the morning, I fly out wicked early for Seattle. Come on over to Bellevue and see me, get an autographed book, tell me who you think will win the Series and feel free to make fun of my ticket-buying "experience."

There will be copies of Goddess Games, as well as at least a few other recent titles. This is your chance to ask me, face to face, anything you want about writing, my books, or whatever!

In the meantime, check out the "bonus" promised in the blog's title: The cover for my upcoming book is in! My editor sent it yesterday. Does it not ROCK??

I'm thrilled to be included with the fabulous Terri Clark (author of the upcoming book SLEEPLESS), New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins (author of CRANK and GLASS), and the ultra-cool Lynda Sandoval (author of WHO'S YOUR DADDY? and CHICKS AHOY.)

Look for BREAKING UP this spring!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lucky Seven

Game seven ROCKED. Got there early for batting practice, watched former Boston Red Sox player Trot Nixon (now a Cleveland Indian) hit, then talk with Peter Gammons.

Took some shots early in the game...first, of Kevin Youkilis prepping to smack one with Dustin Pedroia on first base, then a shot of Jacoby Ellsbury on third, waiting for the signal to go home.

Unfortunately, the camera battery went before Jonathan Papelbon stood on the pitcher's mound and poured his beer all over the AL Championship trophy after the Red Sox won 11-2. Maybe it's best not to immortalize that moment, anyway.

Made it home just before two a.m., then got up and made a run at buying Rockies tickets for one of the games at Coors Field. No dice...the system crashed. (There go two hours of my productive work time!) I'll try again when they re-post the tickets at noon. Wish me luck!

I think I'm in baseball heaven. I'll be at Fenway for game one on Wednesday night, then head to Seattle for a large group booksigning on Saturday night. If you're in the Seattle area, please hop on over to Bellevue and introduce yourself! There will be many, many authors signing their books, including Julia Quinn, Stella Cameron, Cherry Adair, Elizabeth Boyle, Jane Porter, and a slew of others.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Grand Slam Kind of Day

Oh, happy day!

On the writing front, I've just about wrapped up a new proposal for a YA novel. I'll be sending it to my agent early this week. As soon as I can share more details, I'll post them to my website. At the moment, I'll just say that it's a comedy, I've LOVED writing it so far, and it's set in eastern Nebraska.

In other news, as I've mentioned before, my husband and I have Red Sox season tickets, but they're split six ways. (In other words, we get to attend--roughly--every sixth game.) During the playoffs, we have a draft for the tickets. Instead of drafting games, we draft seats. (For instance, "I want seat number two to ALCS game one.")

As his first pick, my husband drafted a seat to game one of the World Series, which is great if Boston makes the Series, not so great if they don't. As his second and third picks, he drafted both seats to game seven of the ALCS. Again, risky, because who knows if they'll make the ALCS, let alone whether it'll go the full seven games. (His final pick was one seat to game five of the division series...a game that was never played.)

Well...guess what? Since Curt Schilling and J.D. Drew had phenomenal performances at Fenway last night, the ALCS is going to game seven...and so am I!

Never would have predicted that a J.D. Drew grand slam would do it, but whaddya know? If you're a member of Red Sox Nation, you just gotta believe.

Tonight's prediction: Sox take it 8-3.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Who's a Survivor?

Watched my TiVo'ed episode of Survivor: China. Must, must grumble for a minute. I thought Jaime was going to be a smart player, someone I could really get behind. She's been doing everything right--making friends when she got kidnapped, nabbing a clue to a hidden immunity idol through networking, and coaxing Leslie into sharing insider info about the other tribe.

But nope. This week, she ticked me off. Not only did she convince Peih-Gee to help her throw a challenge, she giggled about it the whole time. Just. So. Wrong.

I understand her basic thinking, that throwing the challenge allows her, Peih-Gee, and Erik to get rid of a member of the opposing tribe (who'd been switched onto their tribe), but sheesh. Have they EVER watched Survivor before? They made a whole bunch of assumptions--that the tribes wouldn't be switched back before voting (they lucked out on that one), that the merge will occur at a certain point in the game (that's still to be determined), that their own traded tribe members won't flip (also TBD), and that they won't need Aaron's strength in the future. (BTW...does Aaron remind anyone of Paul Walker?)

No tribe's ever been better off in Survivor for a visit to Tribal Council. Maybe there's more harmony around camp after a particularly annoying person is ousted, but the decreased numbers always come back to bite a tribe in the tail.

Aaron, you tried hard. I hope James fights on and finds a way to get Jaime, but good.

And Erik, a heads-up: I think Jaime's playing you. I hope future episodes show you being a little more cautious. (Hey, even Rob Mariano expressed doubts about Amber Brkich during Survivor: All Stars, telling the camera he thought she might be playing him. And he ended up marrying her.) There's a million dollars at stake and Jaime's known you for less than three weeks, Erik. Think about it.

Speaking of survivors, the Sox live to play another day, this time at Fenway. Here's hoping the series goes the full seven games! Josh Beckett, you rule.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Writing Emergency

I was scanning the shelves at Target (again) today, hoping they'd received a new shipment of Diet Cherry Coke. Just as I was about to give up, the Coke Man (in a spiffy red polo with the Coca-Cola logo) showed up to restock. I asked about the Diet Cherry Coke, and he informed me that it is, in fact, a seasonal item and no longer being stocked. Ditto the Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper.

I think this constitutes a writing emergency. How is it possible that I've never noticed this before? I wrote all through last winter with a fridge full of Diet Cherry Coke! Were my local stores stocking old soda or something?

I'd lobby Coke for a change, but if ever a company was too big to listen to one squawking author, Coke is it. If anyone has a Diet Cherry Coke source, let me know. I'm finishing up a new proposal, and it calls for Diet Cherry Coke fuel. There's an autographed book in it for you if your suggestion works!

In other emergency news, the Sox had better step it up tonight. Otherwise, my dream of seeing my two favorite teams in the World Series--the Red Sox in the A.L. and the Rockies in the N.L.--is over. (Paging Josh Beckett...tonight would be a great time to pull off a no-hitter!)

Red Sox Nation should quit listening to the pessimists on WEEI 850 and let Manny be Manny and say whatever he wants; a lot of baseball is a mind game, and comments like Manny's are expected. (Come on, does anyone really think Manny's given up? I don't.) What matters is rocking tonight's game at Jacobs Field, not what anyone says or does off the field.

I'm planning to TiVO both Survivor and Ugly Betty so I don't miss a single pitch of tonight's game. Let's go, Sox! I'll be nursing my VERY LAST Diet Cherry Coke while I watch.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Weekend in Denver

Remember how I said tickets on Stubhub to the Rockies NLCS games at Coors Field were so much less expensive than trying to get seats to see the Red Sox here at Fenway? Well....I ended up cashing in the frequent flyer miles, hitting up my parents for a place to stay (thanks, Mom & Dad!) and flying to Colorado to see Sunday night's game three. Total cost, including four tickets thirty-one rows behind the Rockies dugout, road tolls and airport parking? About $900. An equivalent seat at Fenway--one seat--will set you back the same amount or more.

As you might guess, I had a blast. Took this shot of the water-soaked field between innings with my cell phone, as the grounds crew worked to add layers of dry dirt to the base paths:

They did a great job given the constant rain. I lucked out, seating-wise. We were exactly two rows under the awning. The D-back fans two rows in front of us got soaked, we stayed (mostly) dry. My flight home yesterday got me in at 12:33 ET, meaning I had to race home to see the bottom of the eighth and top of the ninth inning of game four...and wow, was it worth it! Any team that can win twenty-one out of twenty-two games deserves to go to the big show. On top of that, they won an amazing seven straight postseason games, have a likely Rookie of the Year in Troy Tulowitzki, a possible Cy Young winner in Jeff Francis, and a (please, please, please) National League MVP in Matt Holliday.

Congrats, Rockies! Can't wait to see the World Series played in Colorado (hopefully without snow!)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Two Interviews, A Website, and Those Yankees

I'll attack the last part first. I saw a news poll on one of Boston's television stations yesterday afternoon that said 71% of Red Sox fans wanted to have the Sox face the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series, rather than face the New York Yankees. After last night's game, they're getting their wish. But I have to wonder why they felt this way. IMO, either team would be tough. I was just hoping the series between the Yankees and the Indians would go the full five games so the advancing team would be tired before arriving in Boston.

Last StubHub check: cheapest tix to the Boston/Cleveland game are running $293 for the nosebleed section of the bleachers. A good seat near the action is running $2718.

On the other hand, the cheapest tix to the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks first playoff game start at $40. Not great seats, but still. What a price differential. I think I could almost get the airfare out west and a game ticket for what it'd cost me to get one ticket to see the Sox. Insane.

However, I have tres coolio news! First, I e-mailed the revisions on my upcoming novella, Last Stand, to my editor this morning. (Did ya hear the woot-woot sounds?! LOVE when I have a project wrapped!)

Second, Joy Siegel of Working Palms Radio Magazine in South Florida has asked to do an interview with me. It will air down there on the following stations:

WLVJ - 1040AM
WFTL - 850AM
WMEN - 640AM
WFLL - 1400AM

As soon as I know the exact dates and times, I'll post 'em here. I'm also doing an interview with the fantastic Cynthia Leitich Smith for her popular Cynsations blog. Again, as soon as I know the exact date the interview goes live, I'll post it here.

Speaking of live, you've gotta check out Lynda Sandoval's new website, which re-launched today. I think it's one of the best I've ever seen. (And if you haven't read Lynda's books yet--either for teens or for adults--you're missing out.)

And a P.S.: Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me to tell me that Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper IS a seasonal release (I'll stock up next year!) and that Diet Cherry Coke is not. I'll go hunting for that Diet Cherry Coke now and hope they don't replace it with Cherry Coke Zero, which is way too sweet for me.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Hi Ho Cherry-O!

Anyone know if Diet Cherry Coke is a seasonal thing? How about Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper?

I try not to drink too much soda as I write, but when I do, these are my top picks. In the last month or so, they've become harder and harder to luck at Stop & Shop, Hannaford, Star Market, or even Target (which I can always count on for replenishing my soda stash.) Is there a cherry-flavoring shortage when the leaves change? Help!

In better news, I heard back from my editor about my novella, Last Stand. (She's speedy! Of course, it hits the shelves in May 2008--in publishing time, that's pretty quick--so she needs to be speedy.) She liked it and had only a few suggestions, all easy to work into the story. I promised to get it back to her by Tuesday or Wednesday.

I may be forced to delve into my limited supply of Black Cherry Propel water as I work.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Dangers of Salad Dressing

I spent the last forty-five minutes or so sweeping out and then vacuuming my garage. I'm a neat freak (as you may know from past blog posts) but not to the extent that I vacuum my garage. The only garages that should be vacuumed are those that are more like car museums (think Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey.) My garage is of the standard cement-floor, stuffed-with-sports-equipment variety. Worthy of the occasional broom cleaning, but not vacuuming. Not until this morning.

Tip: When taking salad dressing bottles to the recycling bin in the garage, be careful not to drop them. The glass goes EVERYWHERE. Under the car, into shoes, you name it. I managed to drop not one, but two glass bottles. I swept out the glass the best I could, then vacuumed. I got most of it before I backed out the car (thinking, please, please, do not let me have missed any glass under the tires) then swept and vacuumed some more.

So much for saving time by carrying as many bottles and cans as possible.

I suspect it's because last night I uttered a sentence that's never before passed my lips. I actually said, "Both the Rockies and the Red Sox won their playoff games!" Jeff Francis had an outstanding outing against the Phillies and the Red Sox pitcher, Josh Beckett, threw a shutout against the Angels.

It's giving me a spooky feeling, like something really, really bad is about to happen...I'm not used to having both my teams win, let alone win in the playoffs.

Wonder if this means I'm going to end up with flat tires tomorrow, thanks to the glass in the garage? Something's gotta give.

On another baseball topic: For those who're interested in the finances behind professional sports, I came across this article on CNN Money about how much teams stand to lose financially when their teams are expected to make the playoffs, but don't. Somehow, I doubt Mets ticket sales drop off drastically in 2008. Mets fans are die-hards.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

You Know You're A Writer When...

You know you're a writer when you have an entire conversation with your keyboard as you're doing a post-book deadline cleaning.

Me, prying off the space bar with a letter opener: You're disgusting!

Innocent Apple keyboard, speaking in my head: It's your fault. You're not supposed to eat while you work.

Me: Book wouldn't get written otherwise.

Keyboard: But chocolate rice cakes? That's sticky. And crumbly. I don't like the way the fluffy parts feel when they're lodged under my F-D-S-A keys. (And have you checked the option keys at the bottom?)

Me, prying off option keys: Oh, yuck! What's the green?

Keyboard: You tell me.

Me: Hey! Where'd the D key go? You throw it somewhere?

Keyboard: You flipped it across the room when you used the letter opener to pry it off, idiot girl.

Yep, I officially have a wild imagination. I also have a clean keyboard now, which means it's no longer talking to me.

If you can't tell, I'm a tad loopy after staying up late Sunday night to give my novella one final read-through, then staying up again last night to watch the Rockies and Padres game. I missed with my 7-5 Rockies prediction; the game (finally) ended in thirteen innnings with the Rockies winning 9-8. There was a blown home run call in there, as well as a questionable home plate tag at the end. But all in all, a fabulous, hard-fought game--the kind baseball fans love to watch.

I feel awful for Padres fans...the team looked great for a long time, and to have a slow slide at the end (and then lose in a tiebreaker) is disheartening. But I do think they'll be back strong next year. (Have faith, Padre fans!)

In the meantime...I looked up seat prices for the upcoming Red Sox games on StubHub. You could sit down near the field this Friday night if you were willing to shell out somewhere in the neighborhood of $3500 a ticket. Twenty-four hours ago, those same seats were $1280. Talk about inflation.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Rock Me, Baby!

Most writers say their happiest days are those when a new book hits the shelves. Not me. I'm all about the day I turn in a book to my editor. Today's one of those days. (Happy, happy, joy, joy!) This latest is a novella titled "Last Stand" that will appear in a collection called Breaking Up (Is Hard To Do) . The other stories are by Ellen Hopkins, Lynda Sandoval, and Terri Clark. Needless to say, knowing the story's now in my editor's hands has put me in a fabulous mood.

Now, to do my usual post-deadline routine: clean the house, get a haircut, and work off the snack food consumed at my desk over the last couple of weeks. I'm also off and running on a new book, set at a high school in the central U.S. It's a project I'm excited about, so I'll be posting more on that another day.

The other thing making me over-the-moon happy today, aside from the fact it's a mere thirty days until Halloween: The Colorado Rockies. They played a fantastic game against the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday at Coors Field to finish the season dead even with the San Diego Padres. The game was actually on television at my house (go figure!) I was jumping up and down yelling every time the Rockies got a hit or made an out. When they got the final out, I cheered so loud I think I scared the dog.

The Rockies' win forces a one-game playoff (tonight at 7:35 ET on TBS) to see which team will grab the final playoff spot in the National League. I predict the Rockies win it, 7-5. They've been on an upswing, winning 13 of their last 14 games to get to this tiebreaker, while the Padres are 8-6 over the last 14.

But we'll see...I'm no sportscaster, just a writer in a good mood.

Friday, September 28, 2007


When I talk baseball, it's usually about the Boston Red Sox. It's natural, since I live in Boston and have season tickets (they're split with friends, though, or I'd be broke.) Plus, there's always plenty to write about the Sox. But my National League team is the Colorado Rockies. I can't watch them on television here in Boston (grrrrrr) but every night for the last month, while I've been typing away on the novella I have due on Sept. 30, I've had the ESPN live baseball scoreboard running in the background, letting me keep track of how my Rockies are doing. I've been cheering each run scored, hoping against hope that they'd stay above .500.

Now, not only are they going to finish the season well above .500, they just won their eleventh game in a row and are just-this-close to grabbing a spot in the playoffs. I'll be watching their remaining games closely...if they sweep the Diamondbacks, they'll either clinch a postseason berth or will have to play a tiebreaking game. I predict their win streak goes from eleven to fourteen, but even if it doesn't, I've loved watching them this summer. They've beaten preseason predictions (Google the words "national league 2007 preview" -- without the quotes -- and you'll see what I mean), and they and continue to ignore naysayers to play good, solid, optimistic ball.

There's always one team to watch during the last week of the regular season. This year, I'm thrilled that it's the Colorado Rockies.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Fall TV Shows

The fall season is here! I'm looking forward to my faves: Survivor, 30 Rock, Boston Legal, and Ugly Betty. I usually check out at least a few of the new shows, too.

Here's what I've seen so far:

Survivor: So far, so good. But I have to wonder if they intentionally chose contestants who've never watched prior seasons? Tip for those who are considering being contestants: Don't wear high heels, wispy tops, or heavy denim once you leave home, because you never know when the game's going to start.

The Big Bang Theory: Eh. The actors are doing the best they can, but the script hits the nerd jokes way too hard.

Journeyman: Heard buzz about this, so decided to tune in and check it out. Wow, wow, wow! LOVED the first episode. Great writing, great acting, and a storyline that's like Quantum Leap in high gear. Very excited to see more of this one...highly recommended!

Then there are the new shows I'll be checking out:

Cane: Starts tonight, and I soooo hope it lives up to the hype. The storyline (a drama about the contentious Duque family, who own a rum/sugar operation) sounds fabulous. Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondo, Rita Moreno, and Nestor Carbonell star.

Dirty Sexy Money: Again, I'm hearing a lot of buzz, so I'll check this out. (Frankly, I'd watch Donald Sutherland or Peter Krause sit down and read a cereal box.) Crossing my fingers that this is a winner.

And some old faves I can't wait to see again:

Boston Legal: Everyone else on the planet expected James Gandolfini to win the Emmy, but I was really crossing my fingers for James Spader to get it. Gandolfini is great, no doubt, but I just luurv Spader as Alan Schorr. He gives the role so much depth. I'm dying to see this season. Probably my favorite show on TV right now (though 30 Rock, Ugly Betty, and The Amazing Race are right up there.)

Ugly Betty: Every single character on this show has me in stitches. Absolutely hysterical!

30 Rock: Always witty and irreverent. Jerry Seinfeld's guest starring (as himself) on the first episode.

How about you? What are you excited about? What have you seen so far that rang your chimes? What's left you cold?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

In Praise of Jacoby Ellsbury

Last night, while watching the Sox play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, I told my husband that I'd figured out the identity of my next husband. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "I believe I've found the next Mr. Nic."

Him: "Uh-huh." (The fact his gaze didn't leave the screen was an additional clue that he wasn't taking me seriously.)

Me: "Any guesses?"

Him, after a pause: "Is your book finished yet? Isn't it due at the end of the month? That's not far off."

Yeah, I let that go. But a few plays later, in the fifth inning, rookie Jacoby Ellsbury made a fantastic catch, racing to the left field line, tripping over the bullpen mound and taking out a folding chair in order to catch a Greg Norton foul ball.

Me: "That's the guy."

Him: "You go for it, Nic." (Again, he just doesn't take me seriously. Smart man.)

What gets me with Ellsbury isn't simply that he's making plays so spectacular they end up on SportsCenter. It's not that he's good-looking (though he is), or even that he's both articulate and interesting when he's interviewed.

What I appreciate about watching him play is that he exhibits a true passion for baseball. He's an in-the-moment player, approaching each game as if it's his one night in the majors. He's completely focused when he's at the plate; when he's in the field, his eye never leaves the ball. Determined athletes like Ellsbury reinvigorate the players around them. They get their teams into the playoffs. They make kids believe that with a lot of hard work, they too can do something great.

I hope he stays in the majors a long time.