Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good: Tonight's episode of Survivor. I cannot WAIT. Last week's ouster of Randy was the most hysterical tribal council of all time. (Crystal is not my fave, but I was rolling when she intentionally made her "confessional" comments so loud that everyone at tribal council and on the jury could hear.)

I'm hoping that Sugar, Matty, Bob, or Kenny win it all. Susie wouldn't be so bad. Crystal would garner an eyeroll and heavy sighs. A Corinne victory would constitute a crime against humanity.

The Bad: Only one more episode left of my beloved Boston Legal. Last week's episode was laugh-aloud funny, so if you've ever seen this show and enjoyed it, do NOT miss the finale next week. Carl Sack and Shirley Schmidt are getting married! Denny and Alan are going to the Supreme Court! Jerry and Katie may actually go on a date! What more could you want? (Aside from another season, of course.)

If you want to catch up before the finale, check out online episodes right here.

The Ugly: Sadly, the "ugly" is my MacBook. I was online when the AOL froze. Couldn't force quit. Clicked over to iCal, which I also had open. No dice quitting iCal, either. So I shut down the MacBook and waited awhile. Went to turn it back on, and got a flashing gray file folder with a question mark on it. Not. A. Good. Sign. If you ever see this, know that it's quite possible your hard drive is dead:

I took my MacBook to the Apple store Genius Bar, where the guys tested it and concluded that yep, it was fried, and yes, it can happen to any computer with no warning whatsoever. They couldn't tell me how it happened (or, more importantly, how to prevent it from happening again.) However, since I wisely purchased AppleCare when I bought the MacBook, they're replacing the hard drive for free.

While having a hard drive crash is a major catastrophe for most writers, I am lucky enough to also have a desktop computer. Though I use it far less than the laptop, I had about 95% of my laptop info backed up to the desktop (and, being neurotic, I then have my desktop backed up to BOTH the Apple .mac server and an external hard drive every night.) Lesson of the week, kids: BACK UP YOUR WORK. Daily. Even when everything is working wonderfully. You never know when an ugly crash will happen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Boca Insanity

No, I'm not talking about Boca Raton or anyone living there. Nor am I saying that people who eat Boca products are insane. It's the folks at Boca who decided to discontinue my favorite breakfast wraps who are insane. Don't they know I need these things to get through the morning?

These lovely little wraps microwave in two minutes, are vegetarian, have a decent amount of fiber, and are DELICIOUS! What more could anyone want on a cold morning? (Well, coffee. But that's a given.) But now, not only has Boca discontinued their completely fabulous wraps, they have the gall to try to satisfy wrap addicts by posting a link to this recipe for a breakfast wrap on their breakfast products page.

Here's the thing: If I wanted to make my own breakfast wrap from scratch, I would. I bought the Boca wraps because I am LAZY. Not because I don't know how to make one. And I assume that's also the case for others who bought the wraps--they're either disinclined to cook in the morning or are simply too busy. So it's kind of insulting to come out with a yummy wrap, then yank it away and say, "You consumers could make these yourselves. Just be sure to use Boca meatless patties and chop 'em up first!"

Well, duh.

I am going to have to console myself in the mornings by watching TJ Holmes on CNN while I drink my coffee and eat cold Kashi. (Yes, I like Betty Nguyen, too. The woman rocks. But in the morning, sans Boca wrap, I'm going to need eye candy if there's any hope of being awake enough to write.)

In the meantime, if anyone knows of a store in metro Boston that still has Boca wraps on the freezer shelves, drop me a note. I'll add 'em to my stash.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Big Day

If you're an American over the age of 18, today's the big day. Please, please, get out and vote. If you haven't already, take a few minutes to read through the issues pages on the websites of both John McCain and Barack Obama. Think through your own opinions on who can best accomplish what our country needs: Intelligent foreign policy, first-class public education, a strong health care system with access for all, long-term support for our veterans, and a clean, forward-thinking energy plan. A president who'll make reasonable Supreme Court nominations is also vital.

(If you're curious, I've already cast an enthusiastic vote for this guy, because I think he's far better for our country on all counts. And if you don't want to know about how I voted, that's fine, too. A lot of people don't want to know how their fave authors voted. In that case, don't click!)

But...that being said, I do urge you to ignore the ads, ignore what the pundits say, even ignore what someone says you "should" do when you get in the booth. But do read up about the issues so you can make a thoroughly informed choice.

On a completely different note, guess who else is having a big day? Jaime and Erik of Survivor: China! I was soooo sure that Jaime was playing Erik during that season--even blogged about it--but I am happy to report that I was wrong. And apparently the two of them won an $80,000 wedding. Nifty, huh? Love those happy endings!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cheerleaders in Baseball

So I haven't blogged since the Red Sox lost to the Devil Rays--okay, okay, the RAYS, which I think is a silly name change--in the ALCS championship. Mostly because I had knee surgery last week (more on that later), which I think is a valid excuse. In the meantime, I've gotten a few e-mails asking me who I support in the World Series, or if I'm even watching.

I am watching. And I'm cheering for the Phillies. Not that I'm a Phillies fan or a Rays hater, it's simply that I have an aversion to the whole concept of cheerleaders in baseball, and the Rays have cheerleaders. If you watch the Rays' games, you'll see their cheerleaders dancing on top of the dugout between innings or when the Rays get a home run.

Am I the only one who finds this disturbing? I would NOT want to pay for primo, behind-the-dugout seats only to have to watch the game by constantly shifting in my seat to see around someone's knee socks.

Just as bad: Check out the Marlins' cheerleaders:

And worse, on the field here:

WHY? Who came up with this?? Is it a Florida phenomenon? If you're a Marlins or Rays fan, what do you think? Are you more likely to buy a ticket to the game if there are cheerleaders? I really want to know if I'm the only one who's anti-baseball cheerleader. (Not anti-cheerleader, just anti-cheerleaders-in-baseball. There IS a difference.)

As to that knee surgery: this was an arthoscopic surgery to fix a torn meniscus. As much as I'd love to blame it on the marathon (therefore making me look like I toughed out 26.2 miles through injury), it wasn't marathon-related. I've had knee problems since I tore my ACL playing softball while I was in law school. This is knee surgery #4 for me (three arthroscopic surgeries plus the ACL repair, which thankfully turned out better than Tom Brady's ACL surgery has so far.) And this time, I don't even know how I injured myself. However, I am probably paying for a very talented and kind orthopedic surgeon's children to go to college, so all is not lost!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wake Up, People!

To all of you who left Fenway early last night: Wake up, people! Don't you know your own team?

I loves them, I loves them, I loves them. I may be looking rather red- and puffy-eyed this morning due to a serious lack of sleep, but it is SO WORTH IT!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Leavin' the Laptop Behind

As promised, Korea pics! I left the laptop behind for the first time ever, but apparently I did not leave the guilt. I THOUGHT I had, since I made a conscious decision to make the Korea trip a total writing vacation. But then, as I was window shopping in Insadong, Seoul, I saw this:

I'm sure it says "Starbucks", but the instant I saw it, a little voice in my head translated it to, "Why are you shopping when you should be writing? In here? With a venti nonfat latte nearby and oodles of words flying onto the page?"

But since I refuse to write by hand (it's completely illegible, even to me), and the laptop was a few thousand miles away, I marched right down the street and plunked down some Korean Won for a funky green pot to put on my desk. Then the next day, I visited the DMZ, which I highly recommend doing if you're ever in South Korea. It is the ultimate way to NOT think about whatever writing/cleaning/other project you should be doing.

Other trip highlights: Visiting three different Buddhist temples (one at 4 am so I could be there when the monks rang the morning bells), three different palaces, and two local markets (mostly so I could check out the food, which is sold by friendly people like this):

The highlight of the trip, however, was completely unexpected. While walking in Namdaemun Market, I was approached by a group of teenage boys who begged me to take a picture with them. So I did!

Yep, I'm the blonde one. Also, the only one not wearing Converse. Go figure!

Unfortunately, I came home to Fenway Park and witnessed a nasty game three playoff loss to the Devil Rays. Fenway sure didn't feel like Fenway with the Sox struggling from the get-go (even with the smell of Dunkin' Donuts coffee and Fenway Franks in the air.)

Here's hoping they can rally in game five tonight!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thirteen Dunkin' Donuts

Bathroom renovations continue at Casa Niki this week. It's ALMOST done! The toilet (very important) is going in as I type this, though there's still no countertop and no door (doors also being vital to a bathroom. Especially once the toilet's there.) Promise to post another pic soon.

In the meantime, I went to my last regular-season game at Fenway last night. Burned my tongue on too-hot Dunkin' Donuts coffee, but had a great time nonetheless as the Sox won. I'll miss some of the playoffs while I'm in Korea, so hopefully the Red Sox will still be in it when I get back. Of course, the end of the season means it's also the last week of the ESPN Baseball Challenge. It looks like I'll finish in sixth place in my group of 29 people. However, I'm in another group called Red Sox Nation (shocker, I know.) I'm currently in 309th place out of 4600 or so people. I'd like to finish in the top 300, but it may take a weekend miracle.

And...NOBODY tell me what happened on either Ugly Betty or Survivor last night, please! Had to tape 'em while I was at the game. I'll watch tomorrow (tonight is debate night, so watching tonight is out.) I am SO happy the new TV season has started. More Ugly Betty, more 30 Rock, more Dirty Sexy Money, more Amazing Race, and more Survivor! Once Design Star ended, I was stuck (gasp!) with nothing more to watch than re-runs of What Not To Wear. While I love Stacy and Clinton, watching them in re-runs just isn't as exciting. answer to the many caring questions I've received about the Jimmy Fund Walk: 1) Yes, you can still donate. Click right here to access my donation page. Any donations go directly to the Jimmy Fund to help fight cancer (the money does not come to me.) 2) Yes, I have completely recovered. I actually felt fine the next day (surprised me, too. I was expecting to be sore. Instead, I spent the next day cleaning out the garage!) 3) There are THIRTEEN Dunkin' Donuts locations along the Jimmy Fund Walk route (it's the 26.2 mile Boston Marathon route.) Crazy, but true. I counted. I did see a few walkers stop for Munchkins and coffee mid-walk, but I waited until I got home, as I cannot walk and drink coffee simultaneously. (Hey, I apparently can't even watch baseball and drink coffee without injury. I know my limitations!)

Have a great weekend, everyone! And Go Red Sox!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Last month, I blogged about the Jimmy Fund Walk. It's an annual event that raises millions of dollars to help support the research and care efforts of the Dana-Farber Cancer Center. I decided to tackle the 26.2 mile route, which follows the Boston Marathon course. Yesterday was the big event, and I'm thrilled to report that I made it! (I would do a happy dance, but I imagine it'd hurt.) It took me 6 hours and 13 minutes, including the porta-potty stop (ewww.) It sounds slow compared to Olympic runners, but was a decent showing for a walker. (Yay, me!)

The greatest news of all is that there were just over 8,000 walkers. That's a LOT of money to help fight all types of cancer. I hope that--no matter where you live--you consider participating in this event next year. If you're in the Northeastern U.S., you can walk any of four routes: 26.2 miles, 13.1 miles, 5 miles, or 3 miles. If you're not in the area, you can be a virtual walker (check out the official Jimmy Fund Walk website to learn more.)

In the meantime, I'm still collecting donations for this year. If you're interested, even $5 helps. It all goes to helping vital research so that we can see cancer conquered. Check out my personal Jimmy Fund donation page to make a contribution. You can do it to honor a loved one, in support of someone who's currently fighting cancer, or just because. Huge thanks in advance!

Friday, September 12, 2008

O Niki, Where Art Thou?

Check the date? Yep, it's been a solid month since I've posted. HORRORS.

So here's the scoop on where I've been since San Francisco:

1) Two weeks in Colorado, which included a Fish Episode (as in, I caught four trout plus a gigantic sucker, which is an ugly bottom feeder that slimed me when I pulled it out of the stream.) But I did take some great non-fish pictures. Like this one:

And my brother took this one of me, sitting at the one-mile mark at Coors Field for a Rockies/Reds game:

You know I couldn't manage to travel to Colorado without taking in a game, right?

2) Remodeling the bathroom. I'm not doing it myself--though the idea of knocking out the ugly old fiberglass tub enclosure with a large hammer held a certain appeal--but I still spent oodles of time picking out a new tub, faucets (who knew there were so many out there?), tile, and everything else. Construction got going in earnest last week as the contractor ripped everything out--the vanity, all the old tile, the cheap toilet, even the aforementioned ugly tub--and this week, stuff starts going in. A couple days ago was the new tub (hooray!) and today is floor day. Like the blue? The walls will be a pretty white tile, and a new white vanity goes in late next week. In the meantime, my garage has become a dumping ground of sinks, faucet parts, tile, and grout.

3) Getting ready to go to KOREA! My husband has to go for work next month, so of course I'm cashing in the frequent flyer miles so I can tag along. Though I'm pretty well-traveled (side effect of being an Army brat), I've never been anywhere close to Korea. I'm completely pumped--I'll have three and a half days to soak in as much of Seoul as possible. I've been immersing myself in guide books, online travel sites, and history books on Korea. I think I could easily find a month's worth of things to do, but I'll take the three days in Seoul. I plan to visit as many palaces and temples as possible, take a tour to the DMZ, shop, and eat all kinds of foods I've never tried before. (Thankfully, I've had kimchi and I like I'll always be able to eat that!) If any of you have been to Korea (or live there!) send me your must-do-in-Seoul suggestions. I'm up for anything!

I promise to post pics when I get back, so stay tuned. And when Korea pops up in unusual ways in my next book, you'll know why!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Adventures in San Francisco

I'm finally out from under the deluge of e-mail (and plain ol' snail mail) that accumulated last week, and I've properly assured Tipper the Wonder Poodle that I'm going to pay lots of attention to her this week, so time to post the San Francisco update!

Got in on Tuesday and quickly located Terri Clark and Lynda Sandoval, my partners in crime (and, with Ellen Hopkins, my co-authors on Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.) We went shopping, cruised over to Castro to see the neighborhood, then went back to the Ferry Building Marketplace for coffee and some decadent sourdough cheese wheels. (Lynda ended up buying a whole bag of cheese wheels to bring back to the hotel. Not that we mocked her or anything.)

That night, we donned our "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" T-shirts and hit McAfee Stadium to see the Oakland A's take on the Kansas City Royals. Check out our book on the big screen!

Wednesday was RWA's "Readers for Life" booksigning for literacy. Over 500 authors signed books, with all proceeds going to literacy charities. Check out Terri signing her first copies of Sleepless! The book will be in stores any day now, so keep an eye out for it. If you enjoyed Ter's story in Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, you'll love diving into Sleepless. She sold a ton of copies at the literacy signing!

Another major highlight of the night for me was getting to see Maryam Mehrkhast, who was my best friend in fifth and sixth grade (until I moved, thanks to my dad's Army career.) Maryam and I were inseparable in those days, and it was incredible to get to see her again. The way we were chatting, you'd never know it'd been so long since we'd seen each other. She's still gorgeous inside and out.

During the two-hour event, I got to meet a lot of readers and I signed a slew of books (when I wasn't catching up with Maryam!) She took this picture of me talking to readers while I signed copies of Goddess Games. (And, for those of you who missed the event, but want an autographed book, it's not too late! You can send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and request autographed bookplates to stick in the front of your Niki book(s.) Just tell me how many you want! All the info is on my site, right here.)

Thursday and Friday passed in a blur, and Saturday night was the Golden Heart/RITA Awards Ceremony and reception. Lynda and Terri and I got dolled up, though Lynda had to have very good posture or risk a Janet Jackson moment in her dress:

We let Lynda take this one, as she said she felt safer behind the camera:

Thankfully, all three of us made it through the night with no wardrobe malfunctions!

Monday, August 4, 2008

StubHub Redux

So I got an e-mail via my website from the Executive Customer Care Manager at StubHub, who I'm guessing has a Google Blogs notification that pings her when StubHub gets mentioned in a blog. She asked me to call her, which I thought was cool, considering that I had nothing good to say about StubHub in my earlier post, wherein I described my Great George Michael Ripoff.

Long story short, she apologized for StubHub's mistake (though it was really a long series of mistakes by person after person over five days that left me out $200+ in tickets) and credited me $100 at StubHub for a future purchase.

I wasn't expecting to get anything, and didn't ask for anything, so it's certainly better than a poke in the eye. Not sure I'll use the credit, though. I mean, someone would have to be able to properly LIST their tix first, right? And you can almost never get concert or baseball tickets for two people for $100, which means I'd have to shell out more $$ in order to use the $100. AND...if there's a problem, I'm not too keen on calling to get it fixed (though everyone I talked to was nice, no one actually fixed my problem. Which is a problem.) So we'll see.

Later today (or as soon as I get a chance!): An update on all that happened in San Francisco. Great pics to come!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hello, San Francisco!

I'm heading to California tomorrow for the Romance Writers of America's National Conference. Tuesday night I'll be attending the Oakland A's game against the Kansas City Royals along with two of my fellow Breaking Up Is Hard To Do authors, Terri Clark and Lynda Sandoval. Look for us on the big screen! (As a side note: The first-ever major league game I attended was in Kansas City, with the Royals playing the A's. Dennis Eckersley was on the mound for the A's that afternoon, so it was memorable!)

And speaking of Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: YA librarian Naomi Bates posted a review of all four stories on her blog today. Check it out right here!

On Wednesday, I'll be autographing books at RWA's annual literacy signing. Over 500 authors will be autographing books, with all proceeds being donated to literacy charities. If you're in the area, please take the time to come to the San Francisco Marriott, located in downtown San Francisco at the corner of Fourth Street and Market. The event takes place from 5:30 - 7:30 pm. Look for me alphabetically in the B's. (Yep, there are so many of us we fill a room and have to be seated alphabetically, or you'll never find the author you want!) It's an event that's worth the drive if you're a big reader.

Finally, on Friday, I'll be one of the official RWA Bloggers, posting a report about the conference to the RWA website. They gave me an official logo and everything! I'm scheduled for 10 am Pacific, so tune in to get the scoop on the conference experience.

Hope to see many of you there, and to see those of you who can't make it to San Francisco online!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

StubHub Can Kiss My...

business goodbye. Not that they care. I mean, I'm one person. But let me warn you: If you try to sell event tickets with them, you may get screwed. Consider going elsewhere.

Normally, I'm not a ticket seller. I don't buy tickets just to resell...I buy if I want to go. As many of you know from an earlier blog, I snagged George Michael tix back in May. I was soooo happy...the guy hasn't been to the US in seventeen years, and I'm a die-hard fan. (Laugh all you want. I do not care.)

But then I found out the Red Sox were playing the Yankees at the EXACT same time, and my husband already bought us tickets. Luckily, the Sox changed the game time to 1:05 pm, so I thought I was safe...until last week, when they changed game time right back to 8:05 pm, exactly the same time George hits the stage. On top of that, the friend who'd planned to go with me couldn't make it, and neither could my backup George Michael fan. Talk about heartbreaking! But since I obviously can't be in two places at once, and I had someone to go with me to baseball, but not to see George, off to StubHub I went, boo-hooing all the way.

I listed the tickets, but they were only up for two days before the "last minute" deadline crept up, which means you have to re-list using StubHub's Last Minute Services, which the site says is "quick and easy!" Well, here's the dirty truth about their Last Minute Services: It's not even StubHub who runs it. You sign up, tell them where your tix are, and they say they'll get back to you within 48 hours to give you a code to re-list the tickets. (And many places on the site even say within 24 hours. But we'll go with the 48, just to give them the benefit of the doubt.) Did I get contacted in those 48 hours? Nope. And repeated calls to customer service after the 48 hours were up didn't help. The first guy said he saw my request in the system, said I should've already been called or e-mailed, and promised to fix it "right away." No e-mail or call back. The next day I called again. A woman in customer service said, "My supervisor's right here...we'll get this fixed and call you back in 30 - 40 minutes. I'm so sorry this is happening!" Three hours later...nothing. So I call again, and the guy I get in customer service says, "Oh, Last Minute Services doesn't have to call you back. It's optional."

HUH? What happened to "quick and easy" or "24 hours" or even "48 hours"?

Nowhere on the site does it say that. And in the meantime, you check off a box that says you will not sell the tix elsewhere. In other words: you're giving them the right to sell your tickets...but they may or may not even let you LIST them. And you can't go elsewhere. Like to (hint, hint) Ace Tickets. Or, say, turn them over to TicketMaster for a possible re-sale to someone who really wants to see George Michael.

So finally, LAST NIGHT, less than 24 hours before the concert, I get an e-mail with the address to which I must send the tickets so they can be listed for sale. I send the PDF *exactly* as requested within two minutes of receiving the e-mail. An hour later, they send back an e-mail saying it's not a PDF. So I re-send, IMMEDIATELY, and make it clear that it's a PDF of the tickets. No response. No password or code or whatever to allow me to list them for sale now that they have the PDF. And when I called back this morning, they said, "We can't help you."

So I have NO tickets. NO listing. NO money. NO one to contact.

StubHub, you can kiss my...well, you know. (And if whoever at StubHub or Last Minute Services got my PDF file sits in my seats, or gives 'em to their buddies, StubHub, you are SO gonna hear it.)

George, I hope it's a WONDERFUL concert. I'd never sell your tix if I could make it. And I'll never, ever deal with StubHub again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

And We're Walking...

If you've ever been to Fenway Park, or watched a fly ball head toward the Green Monster on TV, you've likely seen this (or a similar) logo on the wall:

The Jimmy Fund supports cutting-edge cancer research and first-rate, compassionate care at one of the nation's leading cancer hospitals, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I'm a big supporter of the Jimmy Fund because the money they raise makes a real difference for those fighting cancer--of all types.

This year, to help raise money for the Jimmy Fund, I'm lacing up my Asics to participate in the annual Jimmy Fund Walk. The Walk covers several routes, but I am choosing to tackle the longest--the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon route, which runs from Hopkinton, Massachusetts all the way to Boston. I'm sure I'll come home with a mangled pedicure...and a huge smile on my face. I hope that you will help support my efforts to raise money for this fantastic organization--they save lives every single day, and the research they do could very well save your life or the life of a loved one in the future.

Check out my personal Jimmy Fund Walk page here or just type into your browser window. Every little bit--even five dollars--helps. You can donate anonymously, in the name of a loved one...however you want. What's important is that if we all work together, we can beat cancer!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Keeping It Clean

Blogged today over at the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies page about "Keeping It Clean" other words, what can happen when your basement floods and you're forced to get the place organized!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hope's Bookshelf

Forgive me and my delinquency, but I COMPLETELY forgot to post a link to an interview I did on the Hope's Bookshelf blog a few weeks ago.

Check it out right here.

(And thanks to Hope for the fun interview!)

Can't Miss Parks (and Niki in CT!) posted this great article today about America's baseball parks--three all-time classics and four "new" classics. I've made it to three on the list (Fenway, Wrigley, and Coors.) I don't think I'm going to get to see Yankee Stadium, sadly (though I've wanted to!) If you're a baseball fan, or just appreciate the history of sports and want to see a stadium while you're being a tourist, it's a great article to read.

In other news, I'll be in Connecticut tomorrow night--if you're in the area, come see me! Here's the official info:

Niki Burnham at the New Britain Public Library
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
20 High Street
New Britain, CT 06051

Niki will be talking about her books, what it's really like to be an author, doing a little show and tell (want to see the covers that didn't make it?), and answering all your questions (like why the ski poles are hanging on the side of the lift chair on the cover of Do-Over.)

This event is free and open to the public.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hey Now, You're An All-Star

Over the weekend, the MLB announced both the National League and American League rosters for this year's All-Star Game, which will be the last played at Yankee Stadium (as the ads on ESPN tell us over and over. And over.)

What do you think? Who belongs? Who doesn't? Though I'm a big Varitek fan, I have to admit that I'm shocked he's there. This hasn't been his best year. On the other hand, Mike Lowell, the Red Sox's Mr. Steady, didn't make it, and I thought he might. (Though with A-Rod as competition, it's tough.)

Cole Hamels and Aubrey Huff were pretty big snubs. Ditto Jason Bay. However, I can't say I was really surprised by any of those. And I did want to see J. J. Hardy on the list. The guy's been going gangbusters on my ESPN Challenge fantasy team for the last two weeks, ever since I acquired him. Turned out to be one of my best buys of the season (though with perpetually bad pitching, I'm now in fourth place out of the twenty-two competitors in my league. Overall in the ESPN Challenge, I'm at 88%. A nice B+ grade, though I'm shooting for that A.) But you can't fault the voters for going with Hanley Ramirez over J.J. Hardy. Hanley's had a killer year at the plate.

Personally, my favorite part of it all is the Home Run Derby. It's just fun to watch guys smack balls over the wall just to prove they can. This year, the fave seems to be Chase Utley , but I'm predicting a Dan Uggla victory.

What do you think? Snubs? Derby Predictions? Other thoughts?

I'll be catching one of the final games before the All-Star break tonight at Fenway. My brother lives in Minneapolis, so while I'm cheering on the Red Sox, I have a feeling he'll be calling my cell to mock me every time the Twins score. (Hopefully, the phone won't ring, given that Boston has Daisuke on the mound.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stuff To Win, Places To Go, and Important Info For Writers

Wanna win a book? Or five? Who doesn't?! Check out this month's Grab Bag of Books Giveaway on :

Yep, that's a copy of Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, which contains my novella, Last Stand. If you don't have your own copy yet, enter for a chance to win it (and some other wonderful reads!)

In the meantime, my calendar is filling with events. If there's one near you, please come and see me! Here's the official list (with more updates coming soon, so stay tuned!):

Tuesday, July 15, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
New Britain Public Library, 20 High Street, New Britain, CT.
I will be appearing at the library to discuss how a book makes it from a writer's laptop to a bookstore shelf, and to answer any and all of your questions. (Okay, maybe not ALL questions. For instance, not about my weight. Or about that time in ninth grade when I had to hide a pair of underwear in the trash--long story. But other away!)

Wednesday, July 30, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Romance Writers of America Annual Literacy Autographing, San Francisco Marriott, San Francisco, CA.
I'll be signing books alongside 450 other authors, with all the proceeds of the sales going to literacy charities. If you're in the San Francisco area, this is a great chance to meet and talk to me (and many other fantastic authors, such as Terri Clark, Lynda Sandoval, and Alyson Noël!)

Friday, October 17, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Henry Waldinger Memorial Library, 60 Verona Place, Valley Stream, NY (Long Island).
What would you ask an author if you had the chance? I will be meeting with the library's Mother/Daughter Book Club for a fun night of Q & A about my books, with a focus on Goddess Games.

Finally, some important info for writers: for whatever reason, over the last few weeks, I've gotten a TON of requests from readers/aspiring writers who want me to read their work, give their name to my agent, find them a publisher, etc. Though I'm honored that you trust me with your work, here's the thing: for a lot of boring (but important) legal reasons, I can't read your manuscripts. If you send one to me, I have to delete it unread. Plus, even if there weren't legal reasons preventing me from reading your work, if I started saying yes to one request I'd feel like I needed to say yes to all requests, which would leave me no time at all to write my own stuff. SO...please don't send me your novel-in-progress, or ask me if I will send it to my agent or editor. However, I don't want to leave you adrift! If you are an aspiring writer, I encourage you to check out the Frequently Asked Questions page on my website. There's a lot of info there to help you. Also, consider finding a few other writers and forming a critique group. Not to tear apart each other's projects, but to be give constructive criticism in a supportive atmosphere. A lot of writers find critique groups to be useful in their careers. You might find one useful, as well.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Design Star

Generally, I take time off from television in the summer. However, Sundays are now TV nights for me. And I mean that in the sense of, "Nobody bug me while I'm watching this show or I will go ballistic!"

I'm completely addicted to HGTV's Design Star. Anyone else been watching it? (If not, you can jump in anytime. It's not a show where you have to struggle to figure out what's happening.) It's totally feeding my television addiction now that my laugh-out-loud shows (Ugly Betty, Boston Legal, Dirty Sexy Money and 30 Rock) are on summer hiatus.

Here's the gist: A bunch of aspiring interior designers are given projects, a budget, and a deadline. (Writers: try to imagine what you'd do if given 30 hours, a laptop, and a writing parameter such as, "Give us a story about green." That's essentially the task facing the competitors on Design Star.) They come up with some phenomenal work. For anyone in the creative arts, or anyone who's simply interested in making their home/apartment/dorm room fantastic on a tight budget, it's inspiring.

The judges--fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, interior designer Vern Yip, and InStyle Magazine editor Martha McCully--go over the pros and cons of each person's work, and each week one designer is eliminated. The last person standing gets a phenomenal prize: a spread in InStyle Magazine AND their own show on HGTV. How cool is that?! The season one winner was David Bromstad (now host of HGTV's Color Splash.) Season Two's winner was Kim Myles (now host of Myles of Style.) Both were at or near the top of my "faves" lists those seasons. I don't have a fave contestant on season three...yet. But I do hope Tracee's out soon. (Yep, there's someone I DON'T want to win, mostly because I know I wouldn't watch her if she had a show on HGTV. How sad is that?)

Tune in tonight on HGTV. If you have even a tiny bit of interest in design, you'll love this show.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hard Work Pays Off

Check out this link to CBS-4 TV in Denver:

Moody on Day 3 of Ride The Rockies

That's my eighty-year-old great uncle, Harley Magee! If I could figure out how to download the video, I would, but it's giving me fits. (And I am so not tech-savvy.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ride The Rockies

If you're a cyclist, or you live in Colorado, you've probably heard of Ride The Rockies. It's a grueling, yearly bicycle ride that covers some of Colorado's prettiest--and highest--terrain. This year, the ride is 435 miles long, starting in Durango and finishing in Breckenridge. I'm proud to say that my brother, my father, and my great-uncle are all on this year's ride, which left Durango yesterday. As I write this, they've successfully completed day one, and are getting ready to take off from Cortez for day two's seventy-seven mile leg to Telluride, which means going over Lizard Head Pass, at a breath-stealing altitude of 10,222 feet. (Check out the elevation maps on the site to see just where it goes!)

If you live in Colorado or southern Wyoming, check out Greg Moody's daily reports about the race on Denver's CBS-4 Evening News. He's interviewing my great-uncle about the race! (So when you see Harley Magee on TV, you can say, "Hey! That's Niki's great-uncle!")

Go Uncle Harley! Go Joe! Go Dad! (Happy Father's Day!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Picture Day!

Two coolio pics to share today. The first was sent to me by the fabulous Alyson Noël (she wrote the books Cruel Summer, Faking 19, and Art Geeks and Prom Queens, among others!) While I've never made it to the beach in Santa Monica, apparently my books have. This was taken at the Barnes & Noble there:

Of course, I'm horribly jealous. It's just under a hundred degrees at my house today, and I am NOT a hundred degree girl. Not without sand, a shaded lounge chair, and the sound of surf. (A book or magazine would do nicely, too.)

Today's other great pic came to me from Jennifer, the YA Librarian at Otis Library. She's collected photos of authors and made READ posters out of them for the library. You can check them out on her MySpace--just click on her Pics to see them all. Here's the one she made of me. Isn't it fun?

Finally, it's not a picture, but doesn't Picture Day always deserves a prize?? (Maybe because I'm not that big on getting my picture taken, I figure it's a good excuse to give myself a gift!) Check out Book Chic's MySpace blog to win some great prizes, including a copy of Breaking Up (Is Hard To Do), which includes my story, Last Stand, as well as stories from Terri Clark, Ellen Hopkins, and Lynda Sandoval.

Happy Picture Day!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Brasil! Brasil!

Quick, where did I take this photo?!

If you say "Brazil" because you know that "Brasil" is the way Brazilians spell the name of their country, and you noticed that the ads are not in English, well, you are a smarty pants for looking at the title of today's blog. But you would also be WRONG! This was taken in the good ol' U.S. of A.

This past weekend, Boston's Gillette Stadium played host to a double-header of the New England Revolution vs F.C. Dallas, followed by a wickedly rowdy game between the national teams of Brazil and Venezuela. I was lucky enough to go (and had a fantastic time, once I actually got a parking spot.)

To give you an idea of how things looked before the game, check out the parking lot:

You could hear the music pumping out of loudspeakers and smell the barbeque from over a mile away. (And I got asked to dance three separate times just walking from my car into the stadium. Now that's a party!)

Those of you who read Sticky Fingers, which was set in the Boston suburb of Framingham, know that there's a huge Brazilian community west of Boston. I think ALL of them showed up to the game--the attendance was around 55,000. The stands were filled with Brazilian flags, yellow soccer shirts, and even green-and-yellow striped wigs. I think Mat (from Sticky Fingers) would have fit right in. The guys behind me even brought their trombones. (Seriously. I got the evidence!)

And I met this woman as I came in the gate. Had to get my picture with her and her Brazilian Statue of Liberty!

I did see one lone carload of Venezuelans. But this was about it for the entire night:

They were parked right next to the gate, I assume so they could make a quick getaway. Smart people: Venezuela won 2 - 0. Would you want to be on the other side of this crowd after they lost? (Especially since Brazil was heavily favored and has never lost to Venezuela?) I wouldn't, either!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Evil Star-Faced Villains

I was out doing yardwork yesterday when the dog went by me at high speed with this in her mouth:

I had to bribe Tipper with a doggie treat to get her to drop the thing. All I could think was, "What is that DEAD THING? What is with its sucker-y mouth?" It's now waaaaaay back in the woods behind my house, since after I took this shot, I played a game of fling-a-mole.

According to Google (and Google images), it's a star-nosed mole. (Translation = YUCK!) Even scarier: These things have been digging in my yard.

Of course, now I'm wondering how many more of these critters are lurking....

Speaking of moles, anyone watch the debut of the new season of The Mole? I actually enjoyed it, even without the celebs. Think I'll tune in again next week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oh, Indy!

Remember how Kate Capshaw's character, Willie Scott, was always saying, "Oh, Indy!" in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Sometimes the delivery was dreamy, be-my-baby. But other times it was frustration.

I was a lemming this weekend and went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Throughout the movie, I kept hearing Kate Capshaw's frustrated, "Oh, Indy!" in my head. As in, "Oh, Indy, what were you thinking?"

Granted, Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas will probably make a financial killing. But did any of them really believe this script was worthy of committing to film? I read the reviews and went with low expectations, but not this low. Yee-gads. Ridiculous, ridiculous flick.

I'm going to try to wipe it from my brain so it doesn't negate the positives of the earlier movies.

In other movie news, I'm sad about the passing of Sydney Pollack, who directed my all-time fave movie, Out of Africa (among many, many other great films.) Pollack also acted in a number of movies, usually playing the aloof best friend or adviser. He always had a look of wry amusement on his face, like he'd figured out the punch line to a great joke and was waiting for everyone else to catch up to him. Or perhaps he was simply entertained by life.

Whatever it was that amused him, the guy made fantastic movies. Think I'll pop in my Pollack-directed Tootsie DVD tonight to black out the mental images of Indy 4.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hit By A Pitch

My Baseball Challenge team has been struggling of late. Like many managers, I can't seem to get a reliable pitching staff (made the mistake of picking the Mets for their doubleheader against the Braves. Ouch.) I finally had to let go of Rafael Furcal, even though I acquired him on the cheap and he's been earning me a ton of points, because he's simply been injured too long. Filled his SS slot with Yunel Escobar only to have Yunel get injured. Now I have Derek Jeter. (Yes, I have a Yankee in my lineup, despite being a member of Red Sox Nation./) What are the odds that Jeter will get injured tonight, simply because he's in my lineup? All the injuries compelled me to rename my team last week. I've gone from being "Nic's Basement Dwellers" to "Hit By A Pitch."

Maybe I'm pessimistic because I'm still stewing over Survivor. Going into the final episode, I was cheering for Cirie. I think she'd make smart choices with the money, and she strikes me as a nice person. When it got down to Amanda and Parvati, I figured it was a no-brainer for Amanda. But she whiffed with the jury, exactly the same way she did last season (check my earlier blog about that.) You just can't argue, "I stayed true to my alliance" and leave it at that. Parv made a case so strong that even Eliza ended up giving her a vote. So Parv got the big $$ (though Amanda did walk away with Ozzy.)

Guess I should stay away from Survivor Fantasy Leagues. Apparently I'm incapable of picking a winner!

In the meantime, good things are afoot on the book front. The just-released anthology Breaking Up (Is Hard To Do), which features my story, "Last Stand", alongside stories from Terri Clark, Ellen Hopkins, and Lynda Sandoval, has gotten some fantastic reviews!

Publishers Weekly said: "these four stories about love gone wrong...are likely to go over big with teens in search of solace for their own romantic misadventures." And: "readers will enjoy the stylish scenarios, projecting themselves into situations they can only wish were true."

Anything that says "go over big with teens" makes me do a yippy-skippy dance.

Now, to see if my rock-steady third baseman, Chipper Jones, and the Red Sox pitchers can get me out of my Baseball Challenge jam tonight.

Oh, wait. Chipper got hurt last night. Hit by a pitch! Well...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Oh, Happy Day!

I have a not-so-secret secret: I am a huge George Michael fan. Most of my friends tease me about this, but whatever. I am who I am. So when I saw that George is coming to the U.S. for the first time in seventeen years, and that Boston would be one of the stops, I did a squealy-girly happy dance. The instant tix went on sale, I snagged two, even though I knew my husband would not go (he can't stand George Michael) and I'd have to take a friend. And, naturally, I did another squealy-girly happy dance.

That is, until I realized it's also the night I have tickets to the Red Sox/Yankee game. OUCH. (My husband laughed his head off.)

I'd relegated myself to having to sell off one set of tickets, boo-hooing all the while. But then as I was checking out the updated
Red Sox schedule, I noticed that the Sox/Yankee game was moved to 1:05PM (and George isn't on until 8!) Oh, Happy Day!

You may now feel free to mock me for being a George fan. I won't care. I'll be busy singing Freedom '90 while I celebrate another Sox victory.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

No One Consulted Me

...or one of my fave shows of the fall, Journeyman, would not have been cancelled. I wish this show had been given a chance. The writing was great, the characters wonderfully flawed and multi-layered, the acting superb. (Plus, I cannot possibly get a Kevin McKidd fix from watching him in Made of Honor. That movie does not look good.) I sure hope NBC brings Journeyman back.

...or grocery stores would not make Boca Breakfast Wraps nearly impossible to find. These things are DELISH. Two minutes in the microwave for one of these--easy to zap while I'm making my morning coffee--and I'm a happy girl. I hoard these when I can find them.

...or the marketing gurus at Pfizer would never have put this lady in their commercial for Lyrica. Something about her gives me the creeps every time I see the ad. (Probably why a new Lyrica lady has popped up in recent days and on the Lyrica website.)

...or the Angels wouldn't have had such dismal pitching against the Oakland A's earlier this week. My Baseball Challenge team started the week by giving me a negative twenty points. (The Angels pitchers actually got a negative thirty...I only finished with a negative twenty because my position players pulled me partway out of the gutter.) Here's hoping the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff does well tonight, now that I've traded away the Angels. I need the help.

On the bright side, wasn't last night's Survivor the best? While I did like Alexis, (and believe she's watching these episodes at home shocked by how evil and nasty her "buddy" Natalie is), and I'm really bummed about James (my fave!) having to leave for medical reasons, the episode was one of the most entertaining in a while. We got to see James's dad, we saw the look of horror on evil Natalie's face when Alexis was ousted (because Nat knows she's next on the chopping block. And hallelujah!), and Erik winning immunity was priceless. (I think now that James is out, I'm rooting for Erik. What about you?)

They're Out There

Happy May Day! Huge celebration at my house. Not because it's finally spring (though that's certainly reason enough!) but because TWO new Niki books are now available everywhere.

First, check out Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, which includes four stories (one each from me, Terri Clark, Ellen Hopkins, and Lynda Sandoval) about--shocker!--breaking up. Some bookstores are displaying the book on tables, while in others it's shelved--usually under "Burnham" but sometimes under one of the other contributor's names or with other anthologies--so if you can't find it, ask!

If you want a preview of my story, just click here to read an excerpt. "Last Stand" tells the story of Toby Maitland, an average guy who's scored an amazing girlfriend (as in, she's cute, funny, and stacked.) But when Amber goes ballistic in the middle of a makeout session, Toby has to decide what it is he really wants from the relationship.

And...drumroll, please...the paperback edition of Goddess Games has been officially released! I'd heard reports of it popping up in a few stores last week, but this week it's in stores all over the U.S. and Canada. I've been getting e-mail from readers for months asking when the paperback would be available. To all of you who've written, huge thanks for your patience. (Seneca, one of the main characters, would give you an air-kiss and tell you that you're "just the best!" Then she'd probably ask why you wear your hair that way. She's whacked like that.)

For an excerpt and behind-the-scenes info on Goddess Games, just go here.

In the meantime, I'll be watching tonight's episode of Survivor. I'm worried about my man James. I was dying for him to approach Jason ahead of the vote last week to let him know that the girls were going to blindside him. James could've said something like, "Look, Jason, I know you think the girls are supporting you and they're telling you they want to get rid of me. The thing is, they want to get rid of ALL of the guys. You first, which is why they have Natalie telling you you're safe and trying to convince you not to play the idol. They want to get you the same way they got Ozzy. Then they're getting rid of me and Erik. I'm voting for Parvati tonight, 'cause if you play the idol, then the second-highest vote getter is out. If it's Parv, we can break up the girls' alliance. If you play the idol and it turns out I'm wrong, what's the harm? But if you play the idol and if I'm right, I just saved your bacon. And you'll know exactly who your allies are. Think about it."

But if he said anything like that, they sure didn't show it. Naive Jason went down without playing the idol, and now James and Erik are on the chopping block. I'm afraid they missed their chance. I'd have thought by now that James--of all people--would know what happens when you don't play the idol at the right time. He needed to convince Jason that last week was the right time. AND that it was the best possible time to break up the girls' alliance. I'll cross my fingers that he redeems himself tonight. I hope he and Erik both somehow manage to have immunity.

(BTW...did you realize that Parvati's last name is Shallow? I find that so funny.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Arbor Day Thirteen

Three holidays in one week--Patriots' Day, Earth Day, and now Arbor Day.

In honor of both Earth Day and Arbor Day, I'm posting a list of thirteen easy suggestions for greening up your world:

1. If you're looking at cars, consider a hybrid. Not only do they save gas, they have much lower emissions, which means better air quality for everyone. (I'm proud to say that both my husband and I drive hybrid cars, and we do it as much to keep the air clean as we do to save $$ on fill-ups.) In the short term a hybrid might be more expensive. However, if more people drove hybrid cars, the costs of production would go down, and so would the price of hybrid cars. And if you're like me and keep your cars for years and years and years, you'll certainly save $$ in the long run since you'll save on gas.

2. When you're running errands, combine trips to cut down on your total driving. Walk or ride a bicycle when you can, or use public transportation. (I ride the T in Boston, the light rail in Denver, and the subway in New York--the three cities I'm in most often.)

3. Use cloth grocery bags. I keep mine in the back of my car and use them all the time. Try them and I bet you'll prefer them. They're stronger than paper or plastic, so they hold more and don't rip. If you don't use cloth grocery bags, go for paper--they're easier to recycle and re-use. Re-use any plastic grocery bags, and any Ziploc-type bags. (Especially those thick, gallon-sized bags. They wash out easily and can be re-used for all kinds of things.)

4. Put a filter on your kitchen sink instead of buying bottled water to cut down on your use of plastic. Ditto on buying economy sizes of the items you use most often (one big bottle is less plastic than two or three smaller bottles.) Then recycle those bottles you do use.

5. If you must dry clean clothes, search out an eco-friendly dry cleaner. When you're shopping, go for washable clothes, linens, curtains, pillows, and rugs rather than those that must be dry-cleaned. Then use an eco-friendly detergent, like Seventh Generation or Method (tip: you can get great prices on all Method cleaning products at your local Target.)

6. Save on air-conditioning by being smart about shade. I had UV film put on the windows of my house, and it stays much cooler in the summer. I also placed my patio umbrella to keep the morning sun from heating up my house. If you live in a house where you can plant trees, consider planting for optimum shade on the house. (Arbor Day's the perfect time to plant a tree, you know!)

7. Save on heating bills by insulating your house or apartment as best you can. Check windows for leakage and get weather-stripping (it can make a huge difference!) for drafty doors and windows. There are some great tips for insulating your house at this government website.

8. Recycle your batteries. Many cities and towns have a place you can drop off batteries. My local Whole Foods has a bin right by the exit where I take all of mine.

9. Recycle your computers and electronics instead of tossing them. If there's not a local organization that can use them (a school, day care, or senior center, for instance), contact the company from which you purchased the item. Hewlett-Packard and Apple both have recycling programs. (I've written all my books on Apple computers and I love their recycling program. Thanks, Apple!)

10. If you're shopping for new electronics or appliances--whether it's a dehumidifier, a laptop computer, or even a fridge--look for the Energy Star label and/or check the Energy Star site before you buy. These products are the most energy-efficient, so they'll save you money, too.

11. Don't put paint, stripper, or other chemicals in the trash. Ditto fluorescent lightbulbs, thermometers, or anything that contains mercury. Check with your local community recycling center--most have special days where they take these items so they don't end up in trash dumps (which may allow those chemicals into our air and into the water supply.) If your community doesn't offer this service, ask them to do so. Get your friends and neighbors to ask, as well. Letters do matter.

12. If you have a lawn, try to use the most eco-friendly products you can. Don't overwater (lawns really don't need as much water as you think!) If you have an automatic sprinkler system, consider installing a rain gauge that will shut off the sprinklers if you've gotten rain in recent days.

And finally, a lucky number thirteen: When you do your spring cleaning and come across items you no longer use, don't dump them at the curb. Instead, check out Freecycle. Most communities in the U.S have Freecycle lists, and they're also in certain places in Canada and Europe. Freecycle is an easy way to give those items you no longer need a new life so they don't end up in a dump. Clothes, books, toys, electronics, old furniture, plants, you name it, you can Freecycle it. You list the item, and someone local who can really use it comes and picks it up. (You can usually leave items on your porch, etc.) If you find Freecycle's not for you, remember that groups like the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Salvation Army, Goodwill and local senior centers and homeless shelters may be able to use your items, too. It's far better than throwing them in the trash.

These thirteen aren't expensive suggestions--they may actually save you money. And they'll certainly help save the planet. Happy Arbor Day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Patriots' Day

Yesterday was a government holiday that's little-known outside of Massachusetts. The third Monday in April is officially Patriots' Day. I always think of it as a sports holiday, even though--despite the name--it's not the day on which Bay Staters celebrate the New England Patriots. (You'd think with all the Super Bowl wins...assuming one ignores last year's fiasco...but no.)

Rather, it's the day of the Boston Marathon, and all 25,000-plus runners go by Fenway Park while the Red Sox play a home game. I drove in early, and counted 110 buses full of runners making their way out to the starting line in Hopkinton. (The runners mostly stay in Boston, then take buses out to the start the morning of the race.) Lots of cars on the highway had their windows rolled down to wave at the runners and cheer them on. Pretty cool.

Being a holiday, it was a perfect day at Fenway. I got there early and spent some time hanging around on Yawkey Way. The team is raffling off a World Series ring to raise money for the The Red Sox Foundation, so they were letting kids try on the rings (near the 2007 World Series banner, of course. Gotta show off that banner!)

After ring-ogling, I watched NESN's Tom Caron doing his pregame show from a perch alongside RemDawg's, then stood in line in Autograph Alley to meet the über-cool 1967 Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg. (BTW...I rate Lonborg particularly high on my personal cool meter because, after he finished his baseball career, he went to dental school and became Dr. Lonborg. Realize, though, that both my dad and one of my brothers are dentists, so your cool mileage may vary.)

He was kind enough to sign both a ball and a photo for me, and no, they will not be appearing on eBay.

However, the best part of the day was the game itself. Have I mentioned how much I love my seats? Fenway is one of those places that feels like a second home. I know which of the Aramark guys are generous when handing out mustard for the Fenway Franks, which guys are quickest with the peanuts, and which are most accurate when they hurl the Cracker Jack across two sections. And then there's the view. Took this shot of Jacoby Ellsbury at the start of the game:

Then snapped this photo of David Murphy and Gerald Laird just before the Sox took the game from the Texas Rangers, 8 - 3:

I've gotta say it again. I love my seats. I feel extremely lucky to have them. Of course, apologies of the day go out to my buddy, author Geralyn Dawson, who happens to be a Texas Rangers fan. (They'll win their next one, Ger!)

After the game, I walked along the Boston Marathon route to cheer on the runners. The winners had already finished, but at the 4 - 5 hour mark, there were still plenty of people making the last push along Beacon Street toward the finish line:

Congrats to all who entered the race. Running a marathon is a huge accomplishment, especially the Boston Marathon with all its hills. Hope that, in the end, your Patriots' Day was as enjoyable as mine!

Friday, April 18, 2008


Ouch. Anyone watch all six hours and sixteen minutes of the Rockies and Padres game last night? I gave up at 1 am ET, about the middle of the eleventh inning, but did get a kick out of seeing the twenty-first inning stretch on SportsCenter this morning. Both teams are in transit today. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

On the bright side: Not only did the Rockies finally win thanks to Troy Tulowitzki, I had the Padres pitching staff on my ESPN Baseball Challenge roster. (Thankfully, I dumped the Detroit Tigers pitching staff awhile back.) Between the long game in San Diego and my current third baseman, Chipper Jones, doing some serious damage with his bat, my fantasy team earned ninety-one points yesterday. Sadly, I'm still in sixth place out of the (you guessed it) twenty-two players in my Challenge league. But the season is long, and I have the Cubs pitching staff tonight. I'm planning on a slow and steady climb.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


BOLO being cop-speak for "Be On The Lookout."

The official release date isn't until May 5th, but guess what Terri Clark spotted in a Colorado Barnes & Noble?

Breaking Up (Is Hard To Do) is showing up in stores! I've also had reports of sightings in California and around Seattle, and the book is now listed as shipping from, Barnes & Noble online, Books-A-Million, and dozens of great independent booksellers.

Breaking Up features stories from Terri Clark, Ellen Hopkins, and Lynda Sandoval, along with yours truly. You can get more info and read an excerpt of my contribution, "Last Stand", right here.

We just learned that the April 15 issue of Kirkus gave the book a fabulous review. It's long, but here's a highlight:

"Although the focus is breakups, each (story) leaves protagonists and readers with the hope of a new and better relationship to come...Often frankly sexy and peppered with teen-friendly references (hip slang, IM conversations), this box of candy for the lovelorn satisfies."

Nifty, eh?

In other good news, the paperback edition of Goddess Games is going to be hitting the stores any day. It has a new, bright blue cover I adore, so again, BOLO!

As always, all the details (a quickie blurb, an excerpt, and some fun behind the scenes info) are right here, on the official Niki site.

And if you see either book in a store, snap a pic on your cell phone and send it in. ( Just be sure to use a good subject line in your e-mail so it doesn't end up in the spam folder, and let me know where your shot was taken.) Your photo might show up here on the blog!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Secret to Productivity

Any writer with a new baby understands that their productivity takes a nosedive as the diaper pail fills. However, what (dumb, dumb) people often don't realize is that the same thing happens when you bring a puppy into your house.

I knew a puppy would be a distraction when I brought Tipper home last summer. I just didn't grasp how much. Not only will she chew shoes, she chews door frames, the stairs, cupboard knobs, and even the WINDOWS. No, not the window frames, but she actually tries to chew the flat glass. Don't ask me why.

The upshot is that I'm constantly distracted. Today, however, I found the secret to increasing my productivity:

Yep. Bribery in the form of a meaty bone. Trust me, it works. (At least for dogs. I don't recommend you try this with an infant.) The new bed and the meaty bone are presents she received for her first birthday last week. Turns out they were gifts for me! She even cast aside her favorite donut toy (on the right side of the picture), which NEVER happens.

However, once you give your pup that treat, don't try to take it away. This is the look you will get:

It says, "Don't. You. Dare."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I have a serious Diet Cherry Coke addiction. (One I've blogged about before.) Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper is a close second as far as writing fuel goes. Since I learned (to my dismay) that both of these are seasonal items, I have been scouring the store shelves, waiting for one or both to reappear. I finally found a twelve-pack of Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper on the store shelf a few days ago. ONE. Of course, I bought it. Then next to it, I noticed two twelve-packs of this:

I stared at it longer than anyone should stare at soda, thinking, This could be hideous...but what if it's not?

Since I might never see it on a shelf again (a lesson learned when the Diet Cherry Coke disappeared), and I have no idea when I might be able to replenish my Diet Cherry Coke/Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper stash, I grabbed both.

Utter foolishness. It is NASTY.

Anyone want 23 cans? This has to be an April Fool's Day joke.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day

Most MLB teams play their opening day games today. Anyone else in the mood to sing a little Take Me Out To The Ball Game?

After watching the Nationals game (and oohing and ahhing over their new stadium), I celebrated the beginning of the 2008 season by joining ESPN's Baseball Challenge. If you like the idea of playing fantasy baseball, but don't have the time to commit to a draft or following stats/trading players each day, this is a great way to go. Join up and see how you's not too late, and it's very easy. You get $50 million to spend on a team, then you pick and choose from a list of available players. The pitching staff is something you select in its entirety...instead of picking individual pitchers, you would, for instance, nab the Tampa Bay pitching staff for one low (low, low) price. I opted to go for the Tigers pitchers. Let's hope they were a good buy.

(And no, I did not create an all-Rockies and Red Sox roster of position players, though I did snag Matt Holliday for center field.)

Let's hope my Baseball Challenge team fares better than my Geek Pool entry for the NCAA tourney. I'm now in 20th and 24th place with my two entries. Talk about sheer suckage. I don't think even a Kansas-Memphis final could pull me out of the basement now. So if anyone has tips on creating a first place baseball lineup--under that $50 million salary cap, of course--please let me know. I need to redeem myself!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Brackets

Happy Easter to all! I'm spending mine inspecting/picking up the yard, doing a bit of housecleaning (Easter is all about renewal, right?) and enjoying the bright spring sunshine.

Of course, I also have a stash of Dove chocolate at the ready, most likely to be consumed while watching the NCAA basketball tourney. For the last twelve years or thereabouts, I've participated in what my husband calls the "Geek Pool." A group of around 40 - 50 of us make our selections every year, but instead of making out brackets, we number each of the tourney teams from 1 - 64. You put 64 on the team you think will win it all, and a one on the team you feel is most likely to go out in the first round. From there, it's all a bunch of spreadsheet fun. For the first time EVER, I'm leading the pack (thank you San Diego and Siena!) It's unlikely to hold up past the first round, but I'm going to enjoy being in first place while it lasts. (In the interest of full disclosure: I submitted two entries this year. Nic #1 is in first place, Nic #2 is in 40th. Out of 45. That's far more indicative of both my college basketball expertise and my math abilities.) If Kansas wins it all, taking out Memphis in the final, I might actually have a shot at the whole thing. But I'm not holding my breath.

In the meantime, I'm celebrating another rite of spring. The Sox are about to play their season opener! They're taking on the Oakland A's in Japan after both teams play exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants. (Wouldn't it be a blast to attend a game in Japan? Kick back with some sushi, listen to the fans singing songs for their teams and going nuts when a ball makes it over the wall...whoo-hoo! Going to see baseball in Japan is on my must-do-before-I-die list.)

Back in the USA, our group ticket draft is tonight--we split our season tix six ways, and have a "draft night" once a year to determine who gets to attend which games--and I can't wait. Fenway, here I come!

Have a wonderful Easter holiday, first week of spring, MLB opening week, and NCAA Tourney! (And gooooo Jayhawks!)