Friday, January 29, 2010

It's that time of the week:


(Every Friday I interview a different person and share that interview with you. Perhaps they will be a fellow-author. Perhaps one of my neighbors. Maybe the bagger at the grocery store. A member of my family. A follower of this blog. Maybe it will be you! Hey, it could happen.)

Today's guest is Tanya Parker Mills, author of 2008 Whitney Award finalist "The Reckoning." She can be found on the web at her website and her blog. A trailer for "The Reckoning" can be found on youtube.

Off we go!

SME: Welcome to INFF!

Tanya Parker Mills: Thanks. It's a real honor!

SME: I'm going to jump right into the deep, groundbreaking questions... Which do you prefer pudding or cookies?

Tanya Parker Mills: Definitely cookies!!!

SME: Me, too (although I am a sucker for tapioca). Cookies or cake?

Tanya Parker Mills: Still cookies...unless it's German Chocolate Cake.

SME: Life does present some tough choices, doesn't it? Alright--cookies or pie?

Tanya Parker Mills: Ooooh...still cookies, I think.

SME: Wow. A cookie devotee! I, personally, would pick pie. I have this personal creed--"If there's no pie in heaven, I'm not going."

Tanya Parker Mills: Sounds like my dad...his mom was a baker.

SME: And did anyone else in your family bake?

Tanya Parker Mills: My mom makes the best lemon meringue pie, bar none!

SME: Lemon meringue, huh? So, how can I go about becoming one of your mother's close personal friends?

Tanya Parker Mills: It's easy...email her, phone her, show up at her door...you will automatically become a close personal friend...invited to all our family functions. She has a Rolodex that rivals the first President Bush's.

SME: Those are the best kind of friends--the ones that are instant and lasting!

Tanya Parker Mills: Exactly!

SME: "Instant and lasting" -- sounds like a commercial for air freshener, doesn't it?
So... what's your favorite continent?

Tanya Parker Mills: Does Eurasia count? I'm so torn between Europe and the Middle East. Actually, I'd like to invent a new continent called Mediterranea. How about that?

SME: Wow. INFF is breaking ground on a very international scale!

Tanya Parker Mills: Is that good or bad?

SME: I think it's excellent. I like having friends with Big Ideas!

Tanya Parker Mills: Whew! I'm not sure how it'll do in your pie chart.

SME: Pie. Yum.
You and I met at last year's Storymakers conference. Both our books were up for Whitney Awards (which is a very reliable indication of our immense talent.)

Tanya Parker Mills: I think so.

SME: Tell us a little about your book "The Reckoning", which was finalist for a 2008 Whitney in General Fiction.

Tanya Parker Mills: It's about an American journalist who sneaks over the border into Iraq before the war begins, and gets imprisoned for being a spy. Over time, she begins to realize one of her captors is connected to the death of her father in a Baghdad prison years before when she was a child.

SME: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Tanya Parker Mills: I spent 5 years of my childhood in Baghdad and always wanted to write a novel based, in part, on my experiences. Then in January of 2003, before we invaded, I took part in a writing exercise while visiting my dad's writing group and basically came away with the first chapter. Or at least the seeds of that first chapter.

SME: That is so great.
Now, tell me honestly, how long did it take after we started talking at the Storymakers Conference for you to decide I was completely nuts? (For most people it's a matter of 1 or 2 sentences.)

Tanya Parker Mills: I never thought you were nuts...just a very savvy marketer...and witty, to boot!

SME: Sarah M. Eden marketing strategy: "Insanity sells."

Tanya Parker Mills: It often does. You are the Stephen Colbert of the writing world. Seriously, I'm not kidding. These interviews remind me of his show.

SME: As if to prove the unstable state of my mental health... I have a game.

Tanya Parker Mills: Okay, game on!

SME: You recently confessed on my website that you have always fancied yourself to be somewhat like Zorro. And so I have invented a new game.

Tanya Parker Mills: Oh no...

SME: "Z is for Zorro!" In this game I will ask you a question that has something to do with Zorro and you will have 3 possible answers from which to choose. Get them right and you are the champion!

Tanya Parker Mills: Gulp!

SME: #1 - The first Zorro story, written by Johnston McCulley in All-Star Weekly magazine in 1919 was entitled...
a.) Who Was That Masked Man?
b.) The Curse of Capistrano
c.) The Other 25 Letters Feel Neglected

Tanya Parker Mills: I'll go with b

SME: Ding, ding, ding! You are correct!!!

Tanya Parker Mills: Yay!

SME: #2 - Which of the following was an actual unforeseen result of the popular 1950s television program, "Zorro"?
a.) The "z" key on the typewriters in ABC's public affairs division began wearing out at an alarming rate
b.) A sudden increase in newborns being given names beginning with the last letter of the alphabet
c.) A sharp rise in vandalism involving "Z's" scratched into buildings and even the show's star's car

Tanya Parker Mills: I'll try C, though A is intriguing

SME: Right again!! Wow. You really are Zorro!!

Tanya Parker Mills: No, I'm not...I'm Doña Tanya Parker Mills

SME: Ah, yes. Must protect your secret identity!

Tanya Parker Mills: I don't know what you mean. *wink, wink*

SME: Okay, this last question is a doozy.
#3 - Who makes the best Zorro?
a.) Guy Williams from the 1957 television series
b.) Antonio Banderas from the 1998 motion picture
<------c.) An as-yet unidentified champion of Right!

Tanya Parker Mills: I'd have to go with C cuz it's tooooo funny!

SME: Wow!!! You are 3 for 3!!! I hereby crown you INFF Champion!

Tanya Parker Mills: Gracias, gracias mucho!!!

SME: Now on to the part of the interview where I draw a portrait of my new friend. You!

Tanya Parker Mills: Now I'm really worried...

a masterpiece comes to life in the blink of an eye

SME: Tah-dah!

Tanya Parker Mills: Yay, I got the whole deal!!! Mask, hat, cape, and BOOTS! Nice job!

SME: I am quite the artist, you know.

Tanya Parker Mills: Yes, you are amazing.

SME: Hopefully this very realistic portrait doesn't blow your cover. Being Zorro is such a burden, I'm certain--all the secrecy.
That brings us around to the final question of I Need Friends Friday. Top 5 reasons this is the best blog interview you've ever done. Ready. Go.

Tanya Parker Mills: 1. I had a good reason to get offline from the Acer lady in India who was being a big pill about troubleshooting a problem with my new netbook.
2. I got to see myself as Zorro!
3. You gave me an idea for a title for my autobiography! (Just kidding...you can have that title)

(Before the actual interview began I shared with Tanya an idea I have for the title of my autobiography. A pretty amazing title if I do say so myself. Maybe that would make a good future post....)

Tanya Parker Mills: 4. I got to engage in witty repartee with the next best thing to Stephen Colbert!
5. I got to put off racking my brain to figure out the ending to my next novel...for at least an hour.

SME: So glad I could be of service. My Work In Progress has been giving me difficulties as well. Good luck sorting that out.
Well, thanks for stopping by.

Tanya Parker Mills: Thanks...this was a lot of fun.

SME: *cue exit music* Well, this has been "I Need Friends" Friday. Come back next week when I will make another friend!!

If you'd like to be interviewed for "I Need Friends" Friday, shoot me off an email: friends at sarahmeden dot com!
I am looking for anyone and everyone, whether or not you think you are interesting. You'll get a fantastic stick figure portrait of yourself, a little promotion (if you're looking for that sort of thing) and the opportunity to tell your friends and family that you've been interviewed by SME, er... by ME!


(Don't forget--If Tanya gets 5 or more comments, she gets an additional 2 entries in January's giveaway!)


16

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's Wednesday. Let's go walkabout.

(I'm bringing along a few of my mates as I wander through the vast wilderness of the publishing industry, learning the ins and outs, and having a grand adventure.)

Walkabout, Week 22:

I have heard that confession is good for the soul. My soul is about to get the hook up of the century.

As a writer, I am a complete and total dorkwad. I have quirks--frighteningly strange quirks--when I'm working. Brace yourselves, this will probably frighten you and make you wonder whether or not the public is safe while I am wandering around unattended.

Pre-writing Prep:
I must have within arms-reach:
  • a snack-sized baggie of Cheetos that will be consumed as I write (my brain does not function without the presence of processed cheese-powder)
  • several paper towels (because of the Cheetos)
  • three Mike and Ike candies (always three)
  • bottle of water (probably because I grew up in the desert where one becomes parched every time one opens one's mouth)
  • music and headphones (not so abnormal if you don't know how dependent I am on these two things for basic functioning)
While I'm Working:
I do strange things. Here's proof:
(yea. you're gonna want to click on "Read More!")
  • I read outloud (but kinda quietly) the things I'm writing or editing.
  • I read outloud in a British accent.
  • I read outloud in a lousy British accent.
  • I read outloud in a lousy British accent while acting out the things that I'm writing.
  • I read outloud in a lousy British accent while acting out the things that I'm writing while seated.
  • I tend to fall off my chair.
  • Sometimes I work in public places, like the Library. People stare at me.
After I'm Done Writing For The Day:
Yeah. I have rituals for that too:
  • I end each writing session with a "take that, in yo' face, oooohhh yeeeeaaaahhhh" kind of song. Yesterday's selection? Can't Touch This by M. C. Hammer ("bust them funky lyrics")
  • I tend to dance to the song. Again, public places. It's very awkward.
  • I get to eat the Mike and Ikes. They mock me all through the writing session and, pathetically, I am excessively pleased to get to eat them.

Whew!!! I'm so glad to get that off my chest. Confession really is therapeutic.

So, if you're in the mood to be thoroughly entertained, track me down at the library--just follow the snickering and the looks of utter disbelief.



PS-- January's Giveaway: There are over 100 entries in January's drawing! Dang people, you rock. Jewel and Rebecca Irvine are in the double digits for entries. Not bad, eh?

PPS--Tune in for I Need Friends Friday!! My new friend and I will explore the wonderful world of being a legendary hero. There are digitally altered photographs involved, and, quite possibly, the best stick figure portrait to date. Don't miss it!



11

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's that time of the week:

(Every Friday I interview a different person and share that interview with you. Perhaps they will be a fellow-author. Perhaps one of my neighbors. Maybe the bagger at the grocery store. A member of my family. A follower of this blog. Maybe it will be you! Hey, it could happen.)

I had something rather enjoyably spectacular planned for this week's INFF. It was going to be awesome. The comments would have reached astronomical proportions.
The Fates conspired against me!
Trust me, you should be thoroughly disappointed. Never fear, however! I intend to make another attempt at my ingenious plan at a future date.

Unfortunately, that means today's INFF is going to be lame. As my way of acknowledging the inherent lameness of today's offering, I am giving DOUBLE entries for comments. That's right folks, 1 comment = 2 entries in January's giveaway.

SME: Welcome to INFF! Today we are going to take a look back at the last 21 weeks of INFF interviews by revisiting the one question that cannot possibly be answered incorrectly:

What is your favorite continent?

Have you wondered where each continent ranks? Wondered why my INFF friends chose the continents they did? (You probably haven't, but I'm sort of banking on your curiosity here--or at least your cooperation.)

Here ya go:


Europe:
  • Rebecca Irvine: I served a mission in London and had the best vacation ever in Paris and London two years ago. Love it over there!
  • Rachel Starr Thomson: I love Europe for its history.
  • Rachel Rager: I've always been fascinated with Europe. I don't really know why.
  • Heather Justesen: After much debate, I decided it must be Europe because it's where I most want to visit.
  • Rachel Rossanno: So much culture in such a small space.
  • Aubrey Mace: They have cream cheese, right?
South America:
  • Marsha Ward: I lived there for two years. The avocados are HUGE! And, ya know, food is important when you're picking your favorite continent.
  • Andrew Turley: I believe South America received a shout out last week. I'll have to second that, considering my time spent in the Andes.
Australia:
Antarctica:
  • Liz Swick: It more than doubles in size during the winter because the ocean freezes. THE. OCEAN. FREEZES.
Asia:
  • Engelbert, age 8: There are a lot of styles of fighting here. Karate, Taekwondo, Jujitsu, Ningitso, Kungfu.
Africa:
  • Steve Busch: It has giraffes and, really, who doesn't love a good giraffe?
North America:
  • Hubert, age 9: It's the freest! *arms in the air*
  • Jean Henry Mead: North America, from North Pole, Alaska to Ensenada, although I love Hawaii and its people.
  • Rachel Starr Thomson: I love North America because without it, my life would be very different.
  • Edward Cullen: North America, I suppose. *crooked smile* That is where I met Bella, after all.
  • Bertha, age 6: North America. That's probably everybody's favorite.
    SME: Why do you think that?
    Bertha: Because I live there.
  • Miss Mae: This is the only one I've been on, so I'd have to say it's my favorite...North America.
  • Shantel Gardner: North America. I am boring. But I like to be at home
  • Penney: I've loved America forever! North America!
  • Ashleigh Miller: Gotta represent, ya'know.
  • SME: North America is great. It's definitely in my top seven.

SME: Hey. I tried.*cue exit music* Well, this has been "I Need Friends" Friday. Come back next week when I will actually make another friend!!

If you'd like to be interviewed for "I Need Friends" Friday, shoot me off an email: friends at sarahmeden dot com!
I am looking for anyone and everyone, whether or not you think you are interesting. You'll get a fantastic stick figure portrait of yourself, a little promotion (if you're looking for that sort of thing) and the opportunity to tell your friends and family that you've been interviewed by SME, er... by ME!


(Don't forget--DOUBLE entries in January's giveaway!!)

15

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's Wednesday. Let's go walkabout.

(I'm bringing along a few of my mates as I wander through the vast wilderness of the publishing industry, learning the ins and outs, and having a grand adventure.)

Walkabout, Week 21:

Proof That I Am Cool
by Sarah M. Eden

I have been invited to and/or am attending the following events for COOL authors:


Life, the Universe & Everything 28: The Marion "Doc" Smith Symposium on Science Fiction & Fantasy
February 11-13, 2010
Brigham Young University, in Provo Utah

This will be my first time attending LTUE and I am very, very excited. Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn Trilogy, the Alcatraz books and the new Wheel of Time books) will be there as a Guest of Honor. The classes should be fabulous. Oh, did I mention it's FREE!!





The 2010 ANWA Writer’s Conference
Saturday, February 27, 2010
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Dobson Ranch Inn,
Mesa, Arizona 85202-5699

I really wish I could attend this one. Last year's conference was fabulous and this year promises to be even better. The keynote speaker will be none other than J. Scott Savage (author of the "Farworld" Series). The conference is open to anyone and everyone!




2010 - 7th Annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference
April 23-24, 2010
The Marriott Hotel in downtown Provo, Utah

I could go on and on about the amazing presenters and teachers and guests, but, let's be honest, the coolest thing is that I am teaching 2 classes. These classes will be entertaining, enjoyable and possibly even educational. In fact, I've been working on them this week as a means of avoiding the brick wall that was once my current WIP.

This is truly a great writers conference focused on improving your craft. Not to be missed!


I know what you're thinking, "Wow. She's SO cool!" Yes. Yes I am.


Okay, now for The Deep Question. I unabashedly stole this directly off of J. Scott Savage's blog. I did this for 3 reasons:
1. It was a really cool idea.
2. I was running out of things to say on my own blog.
3. Because I can.

The talented, forgiving and unlikely-to-sue-for-blog-post-plagiarism Mr. Savage posted a series of scenarios on his blog to which a person must decide which option they would rather have happen to them. For example: Would you rather be bald or be ugly. (That was my own example, but you get the idea). One scenario on his list really caught my attention. So I'm polling y'all to see what your answer would be.

"Would you rather write books that are very slow reading, but extremely thought-provoking, or quick reads that make people laugh and cry?"

So... which would you rather???




PS-- January's Giveaway: Leading in # of entries: Rebecca Irvine (last week's INFF guest). Wow, it sure seems like being an INFF guest pays off. Hint. Hint.
Right on her heels: Aime, Tanja and Jewel.

PPS--Tune in for I Need Friends Friday!! It should be... interesting. That's all I'm going to say.



(ignore "Read More!")

11

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's that time of the week:

(Every Friday I interview a different person and share that interview with you. Perhaps they will be a fellow-author. Perhaps one of my neighbors. Maybe the bagger at the grocery store. A member of my family. A follower of this blog. Maybe it will be you! Hey, it could happen.)

Today's guest is Rebecca Irvine, author of "Family Home Evening Adventures" (CFI 2009) and "Adventures with the Word of God" (CFI 2008). She can be found on the web at her blog and Facebook fan page.

Let's get to know Rebecca!

SME: Welcome to INFF!

Rebecca: Thanks! My pleasure to be here.

SME: As you know, I like to ask really hard-hitting questions. Today is no different. Hard-hitting question #1: What is your favorite dessert?

Rebecca: Good question for someone who is on Weight Watchers! I would have to say coconut cream pie from Marie Callender's.

SME: Yum. I haven't had coconut cream pie in ages!

Rebecca: I just reached goal last year, so maybe I could enjoy a piece now and then again.

SME: You have a book out through Cedar Fort, "Family Home Evening Adventures." Tell us a little about it.
(Just an FYI for those unfamiliar with the
term "Family Home Evening"--the basic idea is that one evening a week is set aside for the family to spend together bonding, having fun and learning/reinforcing the family's values and beliefs.)

Rebecca: Family Home Evening Adventures is a set of 12 FHE lessons based on monthly themes (i.e., for February and Valentine’s Day the theme is ‘Love at Home’). Each theme uses real scriptures and visual aids to teach doctrine in a hands-on, kid-friendly manner.
There are puzzles, games, a mobile, and other fun things to make the lessons interesting and unique. Each lesson also has suggested stories, songs, quotes, and treat ideas to go along with the theme.

SME: Do the lessons have hints for getting your kids to pay attention instead of giggling, pouting, hitting each other, or generally ignoring the entire thing? 'Cause that's how our weekly "adventures" tend to play out.

Rebecca: Actually, in the intro there are a few suggestions about that! But it definitely does not provide a full-proof solution. Even my kids still act up during FHE a lot.

SME: If you could come up with a sure-fire way to get kids to cooperate when they'd rather mess around, you would be an instantaneously wealthy lady! You do your own illustrations. I'm sure you've noticed I'm an artist, as well. (My stick figures are pretty much amazing). Have you always enjoyed drawing?

Rebecca: Actually, no. My brother is an amazingly talented artist, so I have always thought of my abilities as lacking in comparison. But I am enjoying it more lately.

SME: So this is a more recently honed skill?

Rebecca: I have taken a lot of classes over the years, but mostly I have improved over the last five years.

SME: Are there any stick figures in your books? ('Cause I could probably give you some pointers on that).

Rebecca: Some are pretty dang close! You could give me some pointers on shoes.

SME: I do enjoy shoes--drawing them, wearing them, buying them...

Rebecca: Me too! We have a lot in common.

SME: We were destined to be friends.

Rebecca: I think so.

SME: I hope you studied up, 'cause I have a very, very important question for you. What's your favorite continent?

Rebecca: I thought you might ask! I have only ever been on two continents, which narrows it down quite nicely. I would have to say Europe. I served a mission in London and had the best vacation ever in Paris and London two years ago. Love it over there!

SME: My INFF friends really need to quit mentioning the time they've spent in London because I really can't handle the surge of overwhelming jealousy that always follows.

Rebecca: SO sorry!

SME: I'm better now.

Rebecca: Would it help you to know my first day in London I threw up all over my companion? (Jet lag.)

SME: Um, yeah. That would SO happen to me. Except I'd probably throw up out of sheer excitement. (Which is why I should probably travel alone.)

Rebecca: Alone is why my vacation there two years ago was so great.

SME: Well, if you're up for it, I have a little game for us to play.

Rebecca: Absolutely!

SME: It is entitled, "Which Resolution Did Sarah Break First?" I will give you a list of my new years resolutions from years past and you guess which resolution got flushed down the proverbial toilet first.

Rebecca: I always (wink) complete my resolutions, so I will likely stink at this game.

SME: Alright. #1-2008
a.) Exercise five times a week
b.) Write every day
c.) Get at least 5 hours of sleep each night

Rebecca: I would have to go with "a." Who likes to exercise that much?

SME: You. Are. Good. That one didn't last very long AT ALL.

Rebecca: Woohoo!

SME: Okay, #2-2009
a.) Exercise four times a week (Notice I decided to go a little easier on myself)
b.) Write something every day
c.) Get at least 5 hours of sleep each night

Rebecca: Hmmm... this one is tricky. I will guess "c" in case you had a baby recently. Did you?

SME: Nope. My "baby" is almost seven. In 2009, I flunked out on resolution "b" first, although "a" came in a close second, and "c" went up in smoke pretty quickly, too. Wow. This is kind of depressing.

Rebecca: My "baby" turns 7 in 2 weeks. So glad to have my sleep back.

SME: Okay, last but not least... #3-2010 [yep, already "fell off the wagon"]
a.) Exercise at some point each week, and basic housework counts [with age comes wisdom]
b.) Write every day, and Facebook posts count [age/wisdom thing again]
c.) Get at least 5 hours of sleep each night

Rebecca: I will go with "b" this time. I have no idea why.

SME: Oooh. Rebecca you were doing so well. The answer is c. For the record, this resolution is broken every single year at some point in January. It's just usually not the first one to go. Next year the resolution will be 5 hours of sleep each week. That oughta just about cover all the bases.

Rebecca: You poor thing! I can't function on less than 6 hours a night.

SME: I have a lot of practice (years worth of chronic insomnia have some benefits, I guess; but that's a post for a different day).
Rather than dwell on my tendency to make resolutions I historically can't keep and therefore set myself up for a very discouraging month of January year after year, what do you say we jump right to your fabulous portrait?

Rebecca: Maybe you should take a nap first. I don't want you to overdo it!

SME: Insomniacs don't nap.

Rebecca: Learn something new every day...

SME: Pitiful, I know.

*pulls out vast collection of Sharpies and draws to heart's content*

Rebecca: Oooo! Ahhhh! Such talent you have. I have been looking for shoes like those.

SME: I have a pair that I love and the heal broke on the left one. I suppose your portrait is something of a eulogy.

Rebecca: The death of a shoe only means it is time to go buy a new pair.

SME: I like it. That will have to become a mantra of mine.
This brings us to the final question of the interview: Top 5 reasons this is the best blog interview you've ever done. Ready. Go.

Rebecca: 1. You have great red hair that I envy.
2. We talked about shoes a lot. And found a reason to buy a new pair.
3. I didn't have to do my market research work while I was chatting with you.
4. Fun memories of vomiting re-lived.
5. I got to tell people about "Family Home Evening Adventures."

SME: I can honestly say no one has ever listed vomiting memories as a reason why their interview rocked. Obviously I am covering ground-breaking new territory here. Thanks for stopping by!

Rebecca: You are very welcome. I love reading this series every Friday.

SME: So do I! *cue exit music* Well, this has been "I Need Friends" Friday. Come back next week when I will make another friend!!

If you'd like to be interviewed for "I Need Friends" Friday, shoot me off an email: friends at sarahmeden dot com!
I am looking for anyone and everyone, whether or not you think you are interesting. You'll get a fantastic stick figure portrait of yourself, a little promotion (if you're looking for that sort of thing) and the opportunity to tell your friends and family that you've been interviewed by SME, er... by ME!


(Don't forget--If Rebecca gets 5 or more comments, she gets an additional 2 entries in January's giveaway. Help a girl out! [And you get entered just for commenting.])


27

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's Wednesday. Let's go walkabout.

(I'm bringing along a few of my mates as I wander through the vast wilderness of the publishing industry, learning the ins and outs, and having a grand adventure.)

Walkabout, Week 20:

My editor (still love saying that) sent me the cover for Courting Miss Lancaster! I won't go on and on and on about how excited I am. I'll just show you the cover.


I'm giggling. Yes, actually giggling. This is starting to seem real.


PS--As far as number of entries in January's Giveaway, Tanja and Aime are kickin' the chicken.
PPS--Don't forget "I Need Friends Friday" on Friday!
PPPS--Jacob Black is feeling sorely neglected. Check out his INFF interview. (Leave a comment and you'll be entered into January's Giveaway.)


(ignore "Read More!")
12

Monday, January 11, 2010

As I promised last week, things are changing here at SarahMEden.com! My web traffic tracker shows there are a lot of you coming by, looking around, hopefully enjoying yourselves. Yet, I don't hear from y'all much. This makes me sad. And when I'm sad, I eat far too many empty calories. So, in the interest of my waistline and in acknowledgment of my need for constant validation, I've come up with an ingenious little plan.

I'm giving stuff away! That's right, folks. Giveaways!

Here's how it's going to work: Every month I'll have something new and fun to give away to my avid fans, aka my mother, and to the rest of you. And there are so many fantastic ways to enter the monthly drawing that you could, conceivably, be entered dozens of times each month. Isn't that great!?

So, both of the following gets your name entered once (and you can repeat these as many times as you want during the month):
  • Leave a "thoughtful" comment to a post sometime in the calendar month. By "thoughtful" I don't necessarily mean insightful, philosophical or thought-provoking. I mean, it had to have taken more thought than simply leaving the word "comment" or "okay" or something lame like that. Show me you mean it, folks!
  • Leave a comment or post on my facebook fan page!
Still not enough? The following gets your name entered twice!:
  • Post a link on your facebook, website or blog to a post at www.sarahmeden.com. (But you gotta let me know it's there.)
  • If you are an INFF guest and your interview gets five or more "thoughtful" comments, you get entered into the drawing twice for that month! (And past guests who received 5 or more comments will be entered twice into January's drawing!)
'Cause sometimes 2 just isn't enough, to be entered thrice:
  • Be an INFF guest! Simple as that. Do an interview, get a stick figure, get three entries. Wow, I'm generous!!
And the Big Kahuna! Wanna be entered FIVE TIMES for just doing one thing? Huh? Huh?:
  • Interview me on your website/blog, etc. and you'll be entered FIVE TIMES!!!

What is gonna be January's big prize???


Just in time for Valentine's Day, a gift certificate to the Cerreta Candy Company, makers of fine chocolates and gourmet candies for 40 years. Trust me, you don't want to miss out on this!!



24

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's that time of the week:


(Every Friday I interview a different person and share that interview with you. Perhaps they will be a fellow-author. Perhaps one of my neighbors. Maybe the bagger at the grocery store. A member of my family. A follower of this blog. Maybe it will be you! Hey, it could happen.)

Today's friend is with us all the way from the dreary, wet northwestern United States. He is best known for being the misused and overlooked member of the famous love triangle in Stephenie Meyer's best-selling Twilight series. He has inspired his own "team" and his character traits are constantly being pitted against those of fellow triangler Edward Cullen in arguments between tweenage girls the world over.

Here today by popular demand, Jacob Black!

SME: Welcome to INFF!

Jacob: Great to be here.


SME:
You sort of agreed to this on short notice. I hope I didn't inconvenience you.

Jacob: Not a big deal. I rearranged some things, rescheduled, completely messed up all my plans. That kind of thing.

SME: Wow. It's almost like you make a habit of accommodating thoughtless females who expect you to fulfill their every need even at significant cost to you.

Jacob: That's kind of depressing.

SME: And yet you're smiling.


Jacob: What can I say? I'm a happy person.

SME: You're sort of like my own personal sunshine right now.


Jacob: I try.


SME: Do you ever feel like underneath the optimistic persona, you're just a little masochistic
?

Jacob: Masochistic? Why would you say that?

SME: *pulls out both Twilight and New Moon* I took a few notes. Ahhem. You delivered a message to Bella at her prom telling her to break up with her boyfriend. Who was there at the time. And who is also a vampire. And who gave you the look of long, drawn-out death just for showing up.

Jacob: *shrugs* My dad paid me twenty bucks.

SME: Twenty bucks wouldn't even pay for the casket, buddy.

Jacob: I got to see Bella in her prom dress.

SME: As she walked into the dance with Sparkle Boy.

Jacob: Yeah. That kinda sucked.

SME: Like I said, masochistic. Exhibit B. *pushes New Moon in front of Jacob* This entire book.

Jacob: Helping a friend isn't masochistic.


SME: *rolls eyes* I can see I need to be more specific. *begins flipping through book, but abruptly stops, clutching finger* Paper cut

Jacob: *pulls off shirt and dabs at SME's bloody finger*

SME: Wow. You're kinda beautiful. And not nearly as moody as Edward was.


Jacob: Thanks. On both counts.

SME: I have a game! If you're up for it.

Jacob: Sure.

SME: Awesome. So, for this game I'm going to give you a hypothetical relationship scenario and you let me know how you would have handled it differently if you were the guy. I'm calling our game "Arguments in Favor of Team Jacob, by Jacob Black."

Jacob: Alright.

SME: Scenario #1: You realize that you are insanely attracted to, say, a cheeseburger, fries and thick chocolate shake--you know, something that you would eat in a heartbeat, day or night, 365 a year, in your sleep, without missing a beat. Do you start dating the value meal or do you make a discreet exit and leave the poor menu items to live out their life in peace?


Jacob: Wait? What do you mean I'm "attracted to" the burger and stuff? That doesn't even make sense. Why would I be attracted to something I want to eat?

SME: It's hypothetical.


Jacob: I'm pretty sure I wouldn't date a Happy Meal.

SME: *rubs chin, deep in thought* Very interesting.
Scenario #2: While at a party with your girlfriend--let's just say it's a birthday party--you pick your girlfriend up and toss her across the room, leading to a significant amount of blood loss and a great number of broken decorations. Whom do you blame for this unfortunate series of events--your girlfriend, yourself or the wrapping paper?


Jacob: What does wrapping paper have to do with--?

SME: Never mind.
Scenario #3: You are deep in a dark and mysterious forest with your girlfriend who has just received a pretty significant shock--something akin to being dumped by a guy she is unhealthily obsessed wi
th--and, knowing she doesn't deal well with pretty much anything, do you leave her in the dangerous forest all by herself or do you make sure she returns home safely?

Jacob: Why would I leave someone I care about in a forest? There are wolves and stuff in forests.

SME: *nods in approval* Last scenario, and this one is tough.
Scenario #4: If you found out your girlfriend, in your absence, had hallucinations of you when she was being incredibly stupid and, as a result, started doing even more incredibly stupid things and very nearly got both of you killed in extremely unpleasant ways... what do you do?

Jacob: That girl sounds like a complete nut job.


SME: Yeah. Think about that, okay? It'll significantly simplify your life.

Jacob: *look of confusion* Sure.

SME: I drew a portrait of you. Wanna see?

Jacob: Sure!

*drawing*

SME: There ya go.

Jacob: Did you just draw a stick figure with muscles?

SME: Like anyone would recognize you if I didn't.

Jacob: Good point.

SME: Alright, final question. Top five reasons this is the best blog interview you've ever done. Ready. Go.

Jacob: 1. I got to talk about Bella.

SME: I'm gonna puke. Did you not pay any attention to the game we played?

Jacob: What does that have to do with Bella?

SME: Never mind. What is #2?


Jacob: 2. I got to take my shirt off. Oddly enough, I find this a strangely comforting thing to do. It's almost as if it is something I do so regularly that it has become habit.

SME: Honestly, I didn't even know you owned a shirt until you showed up with one on.

Jacob: 3. I got to talk smack about Edward.

SME: He reads this blog, you know.


Jacob: I can take him.

SME: *rolls eyes* That's such a guy thing to say.

Jacob: 4. I got to demonstrate the little-known "in case of emergency, remove shirt" first-aid technique.

SME: The finger is much better, by the way.

Jacob: Works every time. #5. I never once referred to myself as a monster.

SME: Something I appreciate more than you can possibly know. Well, thanks for stopping by, Jacob. This was a lot of fun.

Jacob: You're welcome!

SME: *cue exit music* Well, this has been "I Need Friends" Friday. Come back next week when I will make another friend!!

If you'd like to be interviewed for "I Need Friends" Friday, shoot me off an email: friends at sarahmeden dot com!
I am looking for anyone and everyone, whether or not you think you are interesting. You'll get a fantastic stick figure portrait of yourself, a little promotion (if you're looking for that sort of thing) and the opportunity to tell your friends and family that you've been interviewed by SME, er... by ME!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's Wednesday. Let's go walkabout.

(I'm bringing along a few of my mates as I wander through the vast wilderness of the publishing industry, learning the ins and outs, and having a grand adventure.)

Walkabout, Week 19:

Before I get to Friday...
  • My computer seems to have made something of a miraculous recovery. I have been able to reattach all of li'l Byron's keys except for the letter "i." Some diligent research led to a neat-o trick for getting rid of the error message and the subsequent "blacking out." Everyone knock on wood and cross their fingers.
  • My busted-up finger has also improved this week. I can bend it almost all the way without wincing too noticeably. Only a little bruising remains. Wahoo!!
  • The kids not only feel better but are back in school. (That's right, I sneaked them in the back door at their new school!!)
  • I'm not 100% recovered, but am loads better than I was.
Whew! So glad I gave y'all that update. I could feel the collective anxiety building out in cyberspace and the pressure that put on me was nearly unbearable. *wipes brow*

Okay. So, Friday....

No, wait. One more thing to share first: On Monday I am making an earth-shattering announcement about changes coming to www.sarahmeden.com! Well, maybe not earth-shattering, but pretty cool, I think. Don't worry, the essential things aren't changing.
  • I'll still be a goofy moron
  • Walkabout Wednesday will still be coma-inducingly boring
  • INFF isn't going anywhere (unless I don't get more people to volunteer to be interviewed. Hint, hint. HINT!!)
  • Just cool changes, I promise!
Alright. Friday!

I have more-or-less emerged from my state of blissful numbness following my I Need Friends Friday interview with Edward Cullen. I have pondered in the weeks since that extremely exclusive interview the advice I received from Edward (did I mention we're on a first name basis now?) on another interview I've been hoping to conduct.
I pulled a few strings, made a few phone calls and am about to share with you yet another total hook-up in the world of interviews.
So, prepare yourselves Team Jacob. This Friday, everyone's favorite werewolf will be in da house!!!



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Monday, January 4, 2010

"Twelfth Night" by David Teniers the Younger (1634-40)

Tomorrow is Twelfth Night. Did you know that? Chances are you have no idea what I'm talking about. (If you've read Drops of Gold, you might remember that Layton and his daughter celebrate Twelfth Night together.)

Let me explain. No, it's too long. Let me sum up. (Can you name the movie that line comes from?!?)

According to The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Twelfth Night is "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, [Twelfth Night is also known as] the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking."

Twelfth Night is celebrated with a feast--one reason why I like it so very, very much. At our house we create a menu of traditional British cuisine. This year?
<---Toad-in-the-Hole (sort of like Yorkshire pudding with sausage and onion and gravy) Bangers and Mash ---> (more sausage--are you noticing a pattern--served with mashed potatoes.)
Yum!!


Wassail is consumed in massive quantities. Some traditions include wassailing apple trees to bring a good harvest in the coming year. This involved soaking bread in wassail and flinging it up into the branches. We're skipping that part: 1. No apple trees. 2. I would feel stupid.


A Twelfth-cake or Kings cake ---> is served with a bean baked into it, and whomever finds the bean is crowned king or queen for the night and is given the right to dictate the evening's festivities. My kids are desperately hoping to find the bean this year. (And, no, our cake won't be this fancy. I don't have that much skill, or patience, or time.)


Twelfth Night celebrations included Mummers' Plays performed by traveling groups of "mummers." They were generally masked and often performed in pantomime. My kids have prepared their mummers' masks and are working out their performances even as I type this.

Twelfth Night was all about merrymaking. It marked the end of the Christmas season and the last opportunity for holiday revelry. There will be music and dancing and silliness at the Eden household.

Ah, I love Twelfth Night!


5

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's that time of the week:

(Every Friday I interview a different person and share that interview with you. Perhaps they will be a fellow-author. Perhaps one of my neighbors. Maybe the bagger at the grocery store. A member of my family. A follower of this blog. Maybe it will be you! Hey, it could happen.)

Today's friend is my 9-year-old son. As per the official policy regarding guests who are minors here at www.sarahmeden.com, my little guy has been given a codename: Hubert. Enjoy!
SME: Welcome, to INFF Hubert.

Hubert: Okay.


SME: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Hubert: Mint chocolate chip.

SME: Why is that your favorite flavor?

Hubert: Because whenever I have mint, my mouth sort of goes crazy, and I like that.

SME: Do you have a favorite ice cream topping?


Hubert: M&Ms

SME: Do M&Ms make your mouth go crazy?


Hubert: *gives me a look of complete disbelief* No.

SME: Did you have any New Years resolutions last year?


Hubert
: Play more wii.

SME: Nice. Are you going to make any New Years resolutions this year?

Hubert: Probably not. I like how I'm doing right now.

SME: What New Years resolution should I make this year? *suddenly regretting that question*

Hubert: Maybe eat more pizza. You've only eaten a little bit lately.


SME: What's your favorite continent?

Hubert: That's a weird question.

SME: Pretty typical around here.

Hubert: Um... North America.

SME: Is there a reason it's your favorite continent?


Hubert: It's the freest! *arms in the air*


SM
E: What do you want to be when you're grown up?

Hubert: I've got a few things I'm thinking of. An engineer, a mathematician or a scientist.

SME: What kind of scientist, do you think?

Hubert: An astronomer.

SME: Why's that?

Hubert: I like to look up at the stars and stuff.

SME: Very cool.
I drew a portrait of you.

Hubert: Cool.

*another masterpiece takes shape*

SME: There ya go.

Hubert: That's a really good drawing, Mom.

SME: Thanks.

Hubert: You're welcome.

SME: Top 5 reasons this is the best blog interview you've ever done.

Hubert: First of all, it's the only one.
Second of all, um... *obviously thinking hard* it's indoors.
Third of all, *thinking even harder* it's short.
Fourth of all, my sister isn't in it.
Fifth of all... The fifth is the hardest one. Let's see. Is the fifth always the hardest for everyone.

SME: A lot of people have a hard time coming up with five.

Hubert: I can't think of a fifth one.

SME: Fair enough.
*cue exit music* Well, this has been "I Need Friends" Friday. Come back next week when I will make another friend!!

If you'd like to be interviewed for "I Need Friends" Friday, shoot me off an email: friends at sarahmeden dot com!
I am looking for anyone and everyone, whether or not you think you are interesting. You'll get a fantastic stick figure portrait of yourself, a little promotion (if you're looking for that sort of thing) and the opportunity to tell your friends and family that you've been interviewed by SME, er... by ME!

(ignore "Read More!")
2

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