My Ultra-Skinny Vietnamese Wedding

Okay, so this was not really my wedding.    I, as many of you know, am already married-- to a half-Japanese man with a half-Japanese brother who married a whole-Vietnamese bride over the weekend.

As one of the only Caucasian females at the celebration, I was forced to reflect on the sad disparity between I and my Asian counterparts.

#1:  Where there are Asian weddings, there will be cranes.  I could not fold cranes for my own wedding over seven years ago.  Number of cranes I can now fold?

Still a whopping 0.

#2: The Vietnamese have MAD style, yo.

I have no such style.  Even a trip to The Great Mall in fashion capital of the world Milpitas, CA, didn't help.

#3:  It's Vietnamese tradition to serve a full-course meal at every wedding reception.

This is a significant step up from the Utah-Mormon nut-cup-and-Sprite-based-slush combo.

#3:  In spite of all the food, every Vietnamese woman remains a size 00.

It's possible that the absence of size 00 in my life has less to do with my Whitey McWhite genetics and more to do with my habit of eating desserts like these.  But can I pretend it doesn't?

Congratulations, Josiah and Ha!

My Summer In Desserts

People have wondered where I've been the last...let's see...nigh unto two months.  They're worried about me, and my health.  As they should be.  While they may be referring to my (always suspect) mental health, my physical health will probably be suffering shortly.  Because where have I been this summer?  I've been eating! Last I updated, I was on my way to St. George to participate in a conference for the Utah Library Association.  I also participated in eating these cupcakes:

...I also talked, along with my buds Bree Despain, Sydney Salter, and Bobbie Pyron.  They were great, of course, but let's give top billing where top billing is due.

Next stop?  Wilmington, North Carolina to do research for my latest book.

The book is entitled:  How to Find and Eat Wilmington's Most Glorious Chocolate Desserts.   This is only a working title, since I haven't actually run the idea past my agent yet.

June brought with it the much-anticipated (by me) Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference!  And what a success it was.   Besides the phenomenal writing-related stuff, I got to eat sandwiches handmade by the extremely humble chef/writer extraordinaire, Sydney Salter.

Then I lingered over dessert (Deanna, that line was for you) with brand-new bff Brandon Mull, medium- long bff Lisa Mangum, and bffs-for-way-too-long The Six.  Conspicuously absent was Brodi. For whatever reason, she  thought traveling to Washington with her biological family trumped traveling to Sandy with her adopted family, aka The Six.   While we question her priorities, she remains in good standing with the rest of us.

The best dessert of the conference was the night the organizers (thanks, Lisa and Carol!) took the faculty to trendy downtown eatery the Copper Onion.

Some of us overindulged...

But despite the temptation to ask for seconds, I remained calm, cool,  and ready to hang with my workshop group one last time.

There's one other rad chocolate dessert I had this summer.  I even took a picture of it on my brand-new phone, which belongs solely to me, not shared-with-my-husband or formerly-my-brother's.    It's pretty swank, if I say so myself, and takes excellent photos (especially of one chocolate raspberry milkshake after a late-night showing of Eclipse).  Alas, I cannot retrieve the photo.  On a related note, if anyone has an LG Rumor 2 Touch and knows how to get the photos from it onto a computer, I'd love a heads-up.

So that more or less brings us to right now.  I have lots of exciting forthcoming-book-news to share, but I'll save that for next post.

Happy Summer!

Now That I Have Your Attention...

In honor of my spotlight on Nancy Bo Flood today, I wanted to start this post by displaying a picture of my delectable slice of Heath Mud Pie, per her request (or, okay, expectation).  Alas, I did not bring my camera to lunch that day, and I've not yet joined the rest of the 2010 world by getting a camera phone.   I tried to Google an image of this delight, but instead I kept accidentally clicking on myriad links telling me how many calories are IN said delight.  Hello!  I don't want to know!  I just want to see it again.  A picture is zero calories.   In fact, I probably burn calories by drooling.

This was supposed to be a picture of a decoy chocolate dessert I had on a cruise with my grandmother, but instead it is a picture of us with the Neil Diamond impersonator onboard.  I am not going to find the replacement photo because I've wasted too much time already.  Also, I'm not sure how to delete this one.  And why would I want to, anyway?

But back to Nancy Bo Flood  and her book, Warriors in the Crossfire. Just so you know, I've always used all three names when addressing Nancy Bo Flood, and it's a habit I can't seem to shake.

Even if Nancy Bo Flood  wasn't my friend, I would still think this was a great idea for a novel.  The story takes place during the final months of World War II, in the tiny South Pacific Island of Saipan.  I know I was fascinated with WWII when I was younger, and most of the ten-through-thirteen-year-olds I know have been at some point, too.  But I think most of them are as clueless as I was about Saipan's role in the war:  it acted as a buffer between Japan and the American troops.  Saipan was caught in the crossfire, as is Joseph, the main character in this book.

Add to that the beautiful, poetic language I've long admired in Nancy Bo Flood's work, and you have a story with everything--adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat, and good writing to make it a read to remember.  Here's one of my favorite reviews:

"Nancy Bo Flood's novel casts a bright light on one of the forgotten shadows of World War II, the near total devastation of Saipan and the native people who lived there. Joseph's story forces us to pay attention, to see war itself as an event that affects more than the opposing forces and illuminates its darkest corners."

--Kathi Appelt, author of  The Underneath, finalist, the National Book Award, Newbery Honor Book

That's high praise, friends, especially considering the source (oh, mighty Kathi).

Want a copy of this book?  Go buy one!  Just kidding.  I mean, you should buy one, but if you can't swing it right now, never fear!  Leave a comment on this blog and enter to win Warriors In The Crossfire.  Twitter/ facebook/blog about it and get an additional entry for each!  Don't wait--do it now.

And have a top day!

The Happiest Post on Earth

Awhile ago, back when I was feeling semi-confident in my ability to maintain a weekly blog, my buddy Nancy Bo Flood emailed me.   I've been told I overuse BFF, to the point that when people find out I'm actually friends with said BFF, they're  surprised.  So Nancy is not my BFF, but it sure seemed like it as we brushed our teeth together in a dorm bathroom  at Vermont College, where we were both getting our MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Now Nancy has written a YA novel, Warriors In The Crossfire, just out from Front Street Books.  And I promised to do an in-depth, cool profile of her/ her piece de resistance.  Then I forgot to blog.  So this post is a pre-post to Thursday's blog, a professional, awesome post (unlike...well...the posts up to now).  This way I'll have time to spread the word about Nancy, and the post won't have only one reader.

Also on Thursday:  there will be prizes!  So tell everyone you know.

To prep myself for writing an actual blog with, you know, information, I decided to start with something easy:

Don't you hate it when something that is supposed to be easy is actually NOT easy?  That's how it was with this picture.  But it was worth it, wasn't it?  I mean, check out that Chocolate Cheese Pie.  It, along with its cousin, the Heath Mud Pie, were two of my favorite things about our Disneyland vacation.

This was the other one:

Yep.  Disney-wrapped chocolates at turn-down every night!

There was more, much more,  to the trip than chocolate.  But really, how can anything  follow that?

See you Thursday.

What's Your Love Language?

Happy Post-Valentine's Day Post!  I hope everyone is feeling adequately loved, or at least adequately comforted by chocolate.  These cupcakes were made by my oh-so-talented sister Juliana and they rest upon an old-school Strawberry Shortcake paper plate.   Remember old-school Strawberry Shortcake?

I so don't get why they made Strawberry Shortcake look all different now.  She had a good look going.

This Valentine's Day was unique because I had  conversations with various friends about  their "love language."

For those unfamiliar with the love language concept, a brief synopsis.  When Daniel and I got married, we received two copies of this book called THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES.  According to the author, everyone speaks one of five love languages.  So, to truly show love for someone, you must determine what says LOVE to them, and then act accordingly.  I have to admit I did not read this book, but I think the languages are: gifts, acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation and something else.  I don't know, look it up--supposedly this is a very popular book.

Because I am obviously anti-love, this book, and the concept never spoke to me.  I think Chomsky would say I lacked the "love language acquisition device" early in life. Case in point:


1.  THE WAY HE LIVED got great reviews from the fine bloggers at Fire and IceWriters Butt Does Not Apply to Me, and Reading List of A Book Pusher.  Every time a reader connects with my book, it feels like the first time ("It feels like the very first time").  Someone gets it.  I've been able to touch someone as an author, which has been my dream for as long as I can remember.

Not to mention the AMAZING review I got this week at  The Internet Review of Books. In her essay, fiction editor Julie McGuire lists THE WAY HE LIVED as one of her top 10 favorite YA books.  Ever.  Like, on the same list as John Green and Laurie Halse Anderson and Neil Gaiman and Suzanne Collins and even--wait for it--Sherman Alexie.  (I was going to link to one of my other posts about my obsession with Sherman Alexie, but which to choose?).

Me, sharing space with Sherman Alexie?  Feel the love.

2.  When he learned I was having trouble finding the sock drawer organizer I wanted, Daniel made me one!  While  I was online, trying to decide whether or not to pony up the $9.99 (plus shipping), he constructed a similar organizer from a cardboard box.  He knows how much I hate to spend money and thus hate traditional "gifts."  So this was like an act of service/gift/quality time hybrid.  As love languages go, I guess this was like speaking Esperanto to me.

3.  I get nightmares.  Every night.  And I wake up screaming, and Dan has learned that, much like a three-month-old, it is rare indeed for me to sleep through the night.  I remember my nightmares.  Vividly.  I also remember that some people have happy dreams, because why else would we call "dream come true" a "dream come true?"

I wanted a happy dream.  And this week, I had one!

If you haven't read about my awesome encounter with Sabrina, the current girlfriend of my high school crush Adam,  you must check it out, because in addition to it being the best story ever, it provides background for this dream.  So, for some reason I was back in high school, but this time it was chill, because for some reason I was happy to be there, and I was just walking along and I saw Adam and Sabrina (in real life, I don't know what Sabrina looks like, as we've never met).  And they were like, "hey!  Do you want to organize the prom?"  and I was like, "Heck yes!"

So for the prom the high school held a dinner, which was a traditional Sedar, because, you know, there's a big Jewish population in suburban Utah.   Afterward we had a dance, DJed by a rabbi who taught us a bunch of traditional Jewish dances.  In the dream, I was an excellent dancer, and I also knew the difference between left and right.

This is my love language, right or wrong.

Missing Vegas, Chocolate, and Barry

I haven't even been back a week yet, and already I miss Vegas.

This picture, taken outside the lovely Mandalay Bay, was one of the last ones I managed to squeeze out of my camera before the battery died.  I have nary a photo of the chocolate desserts I ate on this trip.  And believe me:  I ate MANY  a chocolate dessert.

For anyone who wants to read a great synopsis of the trip from the POVs of three pretty darn funny writers, check out these entries by  Brodi, Sara B., and Valynne .

I'd offer a synopsis of my own, but I have a grand total of three pictures from the trip, and one is just of Brodi's hand.   Now, I did ask my friends to take pictures in my stead.  And they did, because they rock like that.  But then they didn't send them to me.  How can this be?  I know when I get home from a trip the first thing I want to do is email my friend approximately 3 gillion gigabytes of chocolate cake photos.

Now, a word about Barry Manilow:

For those who might not know, my dream is to see Barry Manilow perform before I turn 30, on October 14 of this year.  And it turns out there are more people than I though who actually would want to go see Barry, too.  Thus the Barry Committee, headed by me, is making plans for a Barry Pilgrimage, of sorts, in which we all convene at his new showroom in the Paris, Las Vegas.   Time and dates are TBA, but chime in here in the comments if you'd like to join us.  It will be a rollicking good time, I guarantee it.  Even if nobody plays a single penny slot.   But I probably will.

Thanks to all those who came to Authorpalooza on Saturday!  It was great to see old friends, meet new ones, and see the amazing amount of literature coming out of Utah.  This is the place, dawgs.

Why I've Never Wanted To Be A Dog; The Summer of Chocolate And Writing

Apart from the obvious ( I'm allergic to dogs, thus would be allergic to myself),  myriad other parts of being a dog don't appeal to me.   The lack of privacy when relieving oneself.  The ticks.  The assumption that since I am man's best friend, I must therefore be every man's best friend (Pure ridiculous.  How can you be best friends with all mankind?) Of course, the worst part of being a dog is the lack of chocolate.  Or so I thought until reading this. A dog who loves chocolate lives to be twenty-one.  Coincidence?  I think not.

On Friday night I attended a picnic thrown as an alternative to the high school reunion.  Of course, it wasn't an alternative to my high school reunion, but no matter.  I went anyway.  I saw a classmate from junior high who I'd recently friended on facebook and met her children.  "So what's up with you?" she asked.  "All I see you post on facebook is writing stuff."

To which I replied, "Uh, yeah.  What else is there?"  But only in my head.  Because in a well-rounded life there's more.  In my life, which is decidedly not well-rounded, there are only two things:  writing and chocolate.

So I bring you this:

2009:  The Summer of Writing  And Chocolate


June 11-- Delicious brownie sundae at the TGI Fridays in Provo, UT, enjoyed after a hard day's work at the BYU conference (photo courtesy of Sara Bolton and her iPhone).  Even Edward Necarsulmer IV couldn't resist a bite!

Ten stars out of ten.


August 10--Cupcake from the bakery at the swank LA mall near the hotel where we stayed and played at the SCBWI conference.


Same cupcake after it had been "warmed up" as per the counter guy's recommendation.

Perfect ten for presentation pre-warm-up; four-point-five afterward.  Taste?  Out of this world!


August 22--Chocolate cake batter ice cream with brownie mix-in from Cold Stone Creamery after a night living it up with Utah book bloggers (and some authors, too).  This flavor combination is a nouveau classic!

Maximum stars.


August 29--Tres Leches Cake from the Sonoma Grill in Ogden, UT, where some of us refueled after an exhausting yet exhilirating day at the Writing for Charity event at the Treehouse Museum.

In fact, here we all are at that magical event:


Don't we look hott!?  Yep, all this was donated to help kids in Ogden schools get books (there was money donated, too, not just our extreme hottness.  That, of course, is priceless).

All in all, I deem the Summer Of Writing And Chocolate a success!  How would you synopsize YOUR summer?

Desserts I Have Known

I am back with my sister/scribe Juliana to help me!  That is why this post has pictures galore! Remember my last post when I mentioned my trip to Las Vegas?  Remember my 25 Things list when I mentioned my hobby of eating/photographing chocolate desserts?  Well here, in no particular order, is a sampling of the chocolate riches that are Las Vegas buffets. At the Monte Carlo:



At Paris (technically this is breakfast, not dessert--but I'm sure this pastry had enough calories to qualify):


More Monte Carlo (we had not one, but TWO buy one/get one free coupons to this buffet, courtesy of a generous woman we met in the New York New York food court.  Coupons rock my world!):




They tasted as good as they look.  Including the one with the weird blue "feathers," which I had my doubts about.  BYU fans, take heart!  This blue dessert is for you.

On another note, I returned from Vegas to see this good news!  Yep, I won $100 book gift card  for the spotlight I wrote about The King's English bookstore.  Thanks, Shrinking Violets!

Happy first weekend of June, everyone!  A special shout out to everybody who finished school this week, too.  Hope you celebrate hard core and if you are so inclined, tell me about it in the comments!