This Thing Called the Future Giveaway

One of my favorite things  (if not my VERY favorite thing) about being an author is meeting other authors.  I have more to say about this, but I'm going to save it for another post because I want this post to be all about my friend J.L Powers and her new book, THIS THING CALLED THE FUTURE.

I happen to love, love, love J.L, so much so that I am traveling to her Northern California home where we will be doing a few book events together.  And to prep for this sweet, sweet mini-tour, I wanted to post some stuff about this fine woman and her compelling, fascinating book:

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE BOOK J.L. Powers was conceived in northern Kenya, grew up in the big bad border town of El Paso, Texas, and eats jalapeños on everything—but that doesn’t mean she was able to stomach the fiery pepper of Mozambique known as the piri-piri! About ten years ago, she became so obsessed with South Africa that she got not one but two master’s degrees in African history. She’s so confused by now that when she tries to speak Spanish, she ends up speaking Zulu instead. This Thing Called the Future is her second young adult novel.

THE BOOK “This novel takes a loving, clear-eyed look at the clash of old and new through the experience of one appealing teenager… A compassionate and moving window on a harsh world.”—Kirkus Reviews

“… a compelling, often harrowing portrait of a struggling country, where old beliefs and rituals still have power, but can’t erase the problems of the present. Readers will be fully invested in Khosi’s efforts to secure a better future.”—Publishers Weekly

EWS: How did you come up with your protagonist Khosi? Did you base her on a specific person you met or is she a composite character?

When I first spent time in South Africa in 2006, I was on a Fulbright-Hayes to study the Zulu language. I stayed for a time with a family in Imbali township. One of the daughters was 14-year-old Khosi, a beautiful young woman, always cooking and cleaning and being a good daughter and granddaughter. But she startled me one day by revealing that she liked to go to parties where she was a V.I.P. and all the men paid attention to her. By men, she wasn’t talking about other teenagers—she was talking about men in their twenties, thirties, even forties. When we went walking in the township, the drunk young men wandering by and giving us the eye and sometimes making comments made me nervous—but she dismissed them without even thinking about it. They were hardly on her radar screen, they were so much a part of daily life for her. Obviously, she was the spark for the girl in my book, a 14-year-old named Khosi. But from there, my character had to take on a life of her own.

I did draw on my own thoughts and feelings when I was a teenager to write her, but I had to be careful. The life of 14-year-old-Jessica growing up in the U.S., even with religious parents who taught me and my brothers that there was an invisible spiritual world that was even more real than the visible world, was extremely different than the life of a 14-year-old Zulu girl, growing up with both Christian and traditional Zulu beliefs and navigating the very weird world of African belief systems nestled within the westernized world of education, medicine, and politics.

So I did a lot—and I mean a lot—of research.

EWS Can you tell me about your background in South Africa? How did you get interested in that country?

I’ve always had a morbid fascination with injustice. In South Africa, injustice was perpetrated on a daily basis against the country’s black majority. Once you start looking at the rich history of European immigration, the dynamics between Dutch and English settlers, the mixed race population, and the sea of Africans, you don’t have to look very far to start finding fascinating stories. And once I started visiting South Africa, it was impossible not to fall in love with people there and impossible not to get involved. You meet utter extremes of human depravity and supernatural grace every single day, it seems like.

For example, a couple of years ago, I received a surprise phone call from a South African woman I’d never met who was seeking asylum in the United States. She was hoping I would write a letter on her behalf to the judge who was overseeing her case. She was white, and she was fleeing her family, who belong to a notorious white supremacy group in South Africa known as the White Wolves. They were angry that she had adopted black children after 1994, when South Africa became a democratic country and blacks were finally allowed equality on a political basis. One day, they caught her as she was driving from her farm to Pretoria. By the side of the road, her own uncle disemboweled her and left her there to die, with her entrails and guts hanging out of her on the asphalt. Amazingly, she managed to recover, and she fled to the U.S., where she lived illegally once her visa ran out. She was afraid to return to South Africa because she believed her family would kill her. Unfortunately, the U.S. did not grant her asylum. She was deported to South Africa and last I heard, her daughter told me that she was moving to the Dominican Republic. I hope she made it there safely.

On the other side, the side of grace, I met a Zulu woman named S’the Ndlovu. S’the was an HIV-AIDS worker and lived in Imbali township, the township that is the setting of my book. Out of her own small salary, probably insufficient to meet her own needs since she had two daughters and was single, she started feeding local AIDS orphans. By the time I met her, she was feeding up to 80 kids a day. I don’t know how she did it, but I can say that I meet generous, self-sacrificing people like her every day I spend in South Africa.

EWS: I was intrigued by the healing methods in Khosi's world, so different from Western medicine. How do you feel about traditional healing? Have you used it or had any experience with it?

Well, it turns out the answer to that question is rather complicated—and I'm writing a non-fiction memoir about it. We all know herbs can be efficacious, so answering that part is rather obvious—I think herbalism is fine, though it must be practiced by someone with knowledge since some herbs can be dangerous. The real question is about their spiritual powers. Among the Zulu, traditional healers consult their ancestors to seek the cause of your health issue (which includes disease but is not limited to it). I do believe some people have a gift for healing and that sometimes that gift is supernatural in origin. There are plenty of charlatans out there but I encountered many "spirit" healers (for lack of a better term)—not just of the African variety, I also came across a man practicing Native American shamanism in Cape Town, and I can’t tell you how many Christian prophets I encountered—and many of them seemed genuine. Some of them clearly spoke to my life in a helpful and healing way, and I respect their calling. Also, just about everybody you encounter in South Africa has a story that can make the hairs on your arms rise. Belief is not an issue there the way it is among Americans. I don’t think I could have written this book if I didn’t believe in it to some degree or another. On the other hand, if I had cancer, I’d go to a medical doctor.

EWS: What do you hope people take away from your book?

Americans are giving millions and millions of dollars every year to fund HIV-AIDS programs in Africa. The lion’s share of that money buys antiretroviral medications for HIV-positive people. This is a program started by George W. Bush called PEPFAR (The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). I was not a fan of George W. Bush but never let anyone tell you he didn’t do any good—the people of Africa are some of his hugest fans, even die-hard liberals. Anyway, those are our tax dollars at work. Because of us, there are literally thousands of people who are alive today who would otherwise be dead. Since we’re sending that money, I think we should meet some of the people whose lives we’re saving. And we shouldn’t meet them in a “you’re the recipient of my charity” kind of way. We should meet them on their turf, experiencing their life, and understanding their world. Africans are the most generous, hospitable people I’ve ever met—black, white, and mixed-race. My book offers people the vicarious opportunity to enter that world and to fall in love with Africans.

A NOTE FROM EM: This is a terrific, unique read, and I'm giving a copy to one lucky blog reader! To enter, leave a comment about one of your favorite YA books that helped you see the world in a new way. Oh, and if you spread the word about this contest via twitter, facebook, or your own blog, that's a second entry. Maximum two entries per person because otherwise I get confused.

Thank you, J.L Powers, and best of luck with the new book!

Thinking Of You On My Birthday

I think this title is appropriate because it sounds like something I would write if I wrote greeting cards, and then someone would point out that it's supposed to be "thinking of you on YOUR birthday," and I would walk out mad because I like it better this way and besides, I've always known I wasn't cut out for writing greeting cards. It's not my birthday, but it IS my book birthday. Today my book comes out into the world, but that's not what I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about the people who helped me write the book. Here's the super-sad news: through some kind of mix-up not entirely understood, my acknowledgments never made it into BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE. And I have a lot of people to thank! And I want to do it in public but really, this is the most public forum I have access to. Maybe someday when my cover band, The Barely Manilows, makes it big. But until then:



People ask me how  I wrote this book, and I tell them it wasn’t without help.  Thanks to the people who made Back When You Were Easier to Love possible:

Sara Zarr, Anne Bowen and James Dashner—the best writing posse a girl could have.

The SIX:  Bree Despain, Brodi Ashton, Kim Reid, Sara Bolton and Valynne Nagamatsu—the best critique group a girl could have.

Utah writer-mentors Louise Plummer, who saw this novel in its earliest draft, and Ann Cannon, who saw it in its final one.

My family—Pops, Mom, Juliana, Reo, Holden, Ethan, Cami, Andy and Hannah.  And my family-in-law—Brent, Yoriko, Shannon, Mike, Josiah, Ha, Andrea and Brian.

Julie Strauss-Gabel, rock star editor; Abby Kuperstock and Lori Thorn , for their mad cover (and spine) design skills; Lisa Yoskowitz; Rosanna Lauer and the rest of the Dutton team.

Michael Bourret.  Not every agent would entertain the notion of attending a Barry Manilow concert with a client.  Michael would.  I am lucky to have him.

Daniel.  My hero.

And Sabrina--for being so much better than Ismene.

Thank you.


Being One

There was this poster hanging in my junior high:  The best vitamin for making friends is B1. You know how sometimes when you read something to yourself, it doesn’t sound the way it sounds when you read it out loud?  So the first time I saw it, I was thinking, “Seriously, B1 helps you make friends?  My diet must be completely B1 deficient.”  Junior high was a lonely time for me.

It didn’t sink in until I looked at the poster again, a close-up of two kittens in a feline-style embrace (because if my education taught me anything, it is that cats are the universal spokesmen, confirming everything from “hang in there!” to “I can haz cheezeburger.”)  Be one.

Each night I asked God for friends.  I told Him:  If I can make a friend, I promise to be one.

It was a promise I took seriously, but unfortunately, friends were not to be for years to come.  Plenty of people offered to be my friend, but suspiciously, all these people ended up changing schools or skipping town after only a few days of friendship.  Things were not looking good.

So I turned to books, as I’d done since I was a child.  In seventh grade I loved those novels about girls with life-threatening illnesses who had mere weeks to live.  I read a lot of those.  Because of my recent head injury, I was not a fast reader, as I had once been.  Maybe that’s why the slim volumes appealed to me, with their tales of characters who, like me, were no longer who they had once been.  It was all very pathetic.

But the truth was, it was healing, too.  Books have always been the friend I never had, which I think is why YA speaks to me so loudly.

Because now I have friends.  In fact, I have lots of friends—more than thirteen-year-old me would have imagined possible.  Sometimes even thirty-year-old me can’t believe it’s possible.  There are all these people in my life, and I love them all so much, and at night I pray as hard as I can:  Help me to be one.

And honestly, sometimes I don’t know how.  And sometimes I think that maybe the best way to be that friend is through books.  Because sometimes no one person is ever enough.  And I truly believe that books can fill that empty space where people can’t reach.

So tomorrow (Thursday, April 14)  is YALSA's Support Teen Lit Day.  And you can show your support by Rocking the Drop. Tons of YA groups are participating, including the readergirlz Divas and my own rad peeps The Contemps. Here's the plan.

1) Grab this banner, created by David Ostow, and add it to your website or blog.

This obviously isn't the most important part, but it's pretty darn cool looking.  Also, if you include it and link back to this  post or the Contemps or readergirlz or whatevs then we will all see how we can be this united force of literary friends.

2) Drop a book in any public place (bus seat, park bench, restaurant counter).  Wherever someone will find it.  Someone who just might have a space inside them that this book might fill.

If you want, you can put this bookplate in the front:

The good thing about including this bookplate is that hopefully people will open the book, see the bookplate, and  not worry that someone misplaced their book.  Because that would be my worry.  Then again, I worry too much.

Oh, and also it spreads the word about Rock the Drop.

3)  Then, snap a photo of your drop and email readergirlz AT gmail DOT com with the pic -- they'll be posting lots of pictures of drops happening all over the world.

I am totally planning to do this, because doing it will help me to be one.

But which book to drop?  And where?  Any ideas?




What You Don't Remember

Lately I've had a lot of time to remember.  Or just ruminate in general.   When I haven't been confined to bed, I've been somewhere much worse--the dental chair.  My itty-bitty baby bad tooth--right lateral incisor 7-- needed to be replaced.  Real  7  simply never showed up to the party that is my mouth, so it was the highlight of my life when, at sixteen, I finally got an implant (up until then I'd worn a retainer with a tooth attached.  Attractive).

Thing is, I'd always remembered the oral surgeon telling me the tooth would be good for thirty years.  Now I realize that I was heavily medicated at the time and what he actually said was that the tooth would be good until I was thirty years.   Of course, now that I am thirty years and my tooth has eroded to a nub, they no longer manufacture it.   So I have been minus one incisor 7 for the last six weeks with no end in sight.  For the meantime, I'm forced to wear a "tissue former" if I don't want to look like a slack-jawed gappy-toothed yokel (see above picture).  They call it a tissue former but that's stupid because a) it makes no sense and b) it looks remarkably like the retainer I wore for my entire adolescence up to age sixteen.

Meanwhile, there's a hole above 7 where there used to be an implant and there now is nothing.  The dentist protected it with a little cap.  A minuscule cap, invisible to the naked eye.  But that cap.  I feel that cap.  My tongue worries it over and over again.  And why?  It's just a cap.  Only I feel it and I feel something else, something I only just realized--I feel seven years old.  I feel my big tooth growing in.  I keep checking if it's getting bigger.  I didn't think I remembered that feeling but I do; my body does.

Lately I've had a lot of time to remember.  Or just ruminate in general.  And I am ruminating that maybe our most important memories are the ones we don't remember remembering.  The ones we only remember if we get down deep enough, past all the cerebral craziness into something realer; truer.

Try it.  Have a glass of the expensive orange juice you wanted to drink as a child but your mother only bought once, on your birthday.  Wash your hands with the same soap your Girl Scout leader kept at her bathroom sink.  Listen to the theme song from an old sitcom you've forgotten you loved (It's a little wild and a little strange...when you make your home out on the range...Hey, Dude.)  Something that will remind you of what you don't know you know.

Maybe you'll be surprised.


What You've Been Waiting For (Okay, Or Maybe Just Me)

It's just ONE MONTH until the release of BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE! So it's time for the launch of....

If that doesn't make you want to pre-order your own copy of the book, I don't know what will. P.S Along with trusty video editing from Animoto, I made this trailer completely by my one-handed self. I used stock images except in the case of Noah. Special thanks to my man Brigham Kmetzsch for filling in (and looking so good doing it).

Meanwhile, do you know what else this means? It means that it's officially time to extend this invite to anyone who wants to accept:


Thursday, April 28 7:00 p.m King's English Bookshop 1511 South 1500 East,  Salt Lake City

This is going to be a GOOD TIME, so mark your calendars now!

One last thing: Intrigued by my last post about the Writing for Young Readers (WIFYR) workshop? Enter this contest to earn WIFYR-cash and prizes!

What's Better Than Camp? Everything, But Especially This

I first came to the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference (WIFYR) the summer of 2000, after my freshman year in college.  I come back for the same reason people become counselors at their old summer camp--I want to share the magic, but I also want, in some way, to reclaim it. I remember that summer, and the summers after it once WIFYR became my tradition.  I remember feeling in turns ecstatic and discouraged.  I remember writing late into the night and hardly sleeping--hardly needing sleep.  I remember how my heart wouldn't shut up the day my instructor and classmates praised my work.  And I remember the day they didn't--I cried for three hours straight and my eyes puffed like hummus filled half-pitas.  I was invigorated while simultaneously overwhelmed; confident in my ability while entirely unsure I'd make it as a writer.

The elation always overshadows the disappointment.  That's why I come back.  I want to be a part of a place where that happens.

So I'll be teaching about writing the young adult novel at WIFYR this summer--specifically, June 13-17. And people are asking me to put on a bunch of bells and whistles for promotion purposes and honestly, that's not my job and I don't want to do it.

I'm sick of contests and giveaways and all sorts of bribery to get people to attend this workshop.   Because it's a great conference.  People should go.   If you are serious about writing, YOU should go.  It will help your writing and it will help you on your path to becoming an author.  But go because it's an amazing experience, not because I offer you free books or manuscript critiques or Girl Scout cookies.  If you're interested in incentives, there will be WIFYR contests on other sites and I'll link to them, and I hope it will motivate those of you who are on the fence.

But WIFYR is not something you do because there's a prize involved, or because writing is something you want to try on a lark and it's either that, or, say, Zumba.  WIFYR is an intense, life-changing week that turns writers into authors.

So do it.  Go forth and begin this amazing, heart-wrenching  journey.  Know other writers who want to take the journey, too?  Spread the word.  I'll be right there with you.

Registration is open for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers!

This popular week-long conference offers 20 hours of classroom critique, afternoon classes on craft, and plenary sessions by New York editors and agents.

This year's award-winning faculty includes: Sharlee Glenn  (Beginning Writer class) Trudy Harris (Picture Book class) Kristyn Crow (Picture Book class) Kevin Hawkes (Illustration class) Mike Knudson (Chapter Book class) Claudia Mills (Middle Grade Novel class) Emily Wing Smith  (Beginning Young Adult Novel class) Louise Plummer (Young Adult Novel class) Holly Black (Fantasy Novel class) Kathleen Duey (Advanced Novel class) Martine Leavitt (Advanced Novel class) A.E. Cannon (Boot Camp class)

Our amazing  editors are: Alyson Heller, Aladdin Books Lisa Yoskowitz, Disney

Our talented agent is Mary Kole from Andrea Brown Literary Agency

This year's keynote is by New York Times Bestseller Ally Condie, author of MATCHED.

Where: The Waterford School, Sandy UT When: June 13-17, 2011

For more information, and to register, go to For questions, email us at:



I Write Because Of You, Grandma

Grandma was educated in a different time, and maybe Punnett squares hadn’t been invented yet, because she was convinced we shared 100% of our genes.  “You write because of me,” she’d tell me, often, as a child.  “I’m a writer.”  It’s true.  She wrote people poems on their birthdays, and she wrote novels she’d print out and put into three-ring binders.  “My father wrote, too,” she’d add.  “We’d put on ward shows and he was always the one who came up with the ideas.” As I got older, I grew increasingly frustrated with these tales of why I was the way I was.  I wasn’t just a younger version of Grandma.  I was a real writer.  I would do more than write birthday rhymes.  I would do more than write church skits.  Yes, I was a brat.  If I could, I’d retroactively unthink these mean, bitter musings of a pre-teen me.

Or maybe I wouldn’t.  Maybe it was this very meanness, this self-important image I had of myself as a real writer, that kept me going on my fraught-with-disappointment path to publication.  Maybe I never quit because of that voice in my head saying I couldn’t; that if I did then the rumors were true, and I was a “writer” simply because of DNA and not talent.

When I published my first book, my grandmother invited me to speak at her book club.  Her book club formed long before such things were popular, decades ago when the members were all intellectually curious young moms looking for an outlet.  “There used to be more of us,” Grandma said as she served me ambrosia salad on a crystal plate, “but we started dying off.”

It was still a big group, one of the largest book clubs I’ve spoken to.  “This is my granddaughter, Emily Jane,” Grandma introduced me.  “Emily Jane is who I want to be when I grow up.”

It’s the last vivid memory of her I have.

Grandma was a very old woman, one who seemed to eagerly anticipate death.  She was constantly asking me which of her effects I’d like after her passing.  So at her funeral last week, I did not shed a tear.

People spoke of her life and I heard the expected stories: of her strength and determination; her compassion for children, family, total strangers.  Then, a friend of hers read from one of Grandma’s legendary poems, a thank-you note of sorts for the gift of a hamburger.  It was your typical ode to delicious food.  But that was not all—she included clip-art.  A hamburger.

“P.S,” my grandmother wrote, “I put the paper into the printer wrong so the burger is kinda crooked.  Also, I ran out of the other colors of ink so it is all blue.”  And the kicker:  “Oh, and sorry it’s upside down.”

Grandma, thank you for the quilts, the dishes, the artwork.  But that is not your legacy.  Grandma, you are who I want to be when I grow up.  You are who I already am.

Because It's The Best Part Of Having A Brain Injury

After an Internet hiatus to end all hiatuses (hiati?), last week I re-entered the world of things-I-don’t-really-need-to-know-but-feel-ignorant-if-I-don’t.  Who should welcome me back but some chap named Amis, whose name means “friends” but ironically didn’t seem at all friendly.  His claim that the only way he’d write for children is with a brain injury got me thinking.  Mainly about how Amis seems to be seriously misinformed about brain injuries.  But also about other things.  Deeper things. I have a traumatic brain injury.  Two, technically.  When I was twelve years old I was hit by a car and sustained some fairly intense damage to my frontal lobe.  A CT scan later revealed I had a pre-existing brain tumor in my cerebellum.  After growing for who-knows-how-long, the tumor was the size of a grapefruit when they completely removed it a few days after the accident.

I also suffer from a host of mental health issues.  I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was five years old—around the same time I began getting headaches so strong I’d put one hand above each ear and squeeze until I was sure the evil inside would come seeping out.  It never did.  Years later, when the evil inside was determined to be a tumor, I knew I should rejoice.  But by then I was sullen; jaded.  I was a girl who’d been sick longer than she’d been well.  My mental illness and my physical illness have been inextricably linked for as long as I can remember.

Disabilities like mine are the easiest to hide.  No one sees the brain tumor that’s no longer there, or the mass of mis-wadded tissue in the front of my skull.  No one else feels the shaking above my eyes or hears the voices in my head.

Invisible illnesses are easy to hide but hard to treat.  Which explains my hiatus.  For months my headaches have been increasing in frequency and severity; the dizzy spells more common, the voices louder and stronger and more intent on promising me I’ll never get better.  Not for lack of “taking care of myself.”  Not for lack of hard work and inner strength and etc. etc.  But because with a brain injury, these things happen.

Around Christmastime,  I became unable to sit upright without getting “woo head” (a brief etymology—woozy head became wooze head became woo head).  With my computer time limited by necessity, is it any wonder blogging was the first to go?

The thing about blogging: with it we can, to some extent, create our own persona.  We can choose if we want to write happy stuff or sad stuff.  We can choose if we want to post only the pictures that make us look pretty or if we want to show the world what we look like the other 99.9% of the time.  I don’t want this blog to be a representation of a pseudo-life.  I don’t want it to just magically pick up where it left off.

I can say my life is Taylor Swift concerts and writing retreats and rock-star friends.  It’s true.  But my life is also physicians saying to me, “Yes, your head is messed up and no, there’s nothing I can do.”  My life is physical therapy appointments where I watch eighty-year-olds progressing faster than I am.  My life is writing longhand, impressing people for being old-school, when the reality is that because of my brain injury I only type 17 wpm.

In my mind I’ve been going over how an injury like this can be related to writing for young people, and I still can’t find a connection.  Then again, I am brain damaged.  But writing for the under-twenty set is all I’ve ever loved.  And if my injury is what led me to this life?  Then it’s worth it.

'Tis The Season For Massive Hair Loss And Re-Gifting Writing Tips

Some of you know that I grow out my hair to donate to Locks of Love.  And it was getting to be that time again, the time when the beater brush on our vacuum cleaner no longer spins because it's coated with my hair.  So last week I went from this...

Hmm.  Remember how last time the picture rotated by itself?  Oh well, moving on, this was me before, and this is me after:

My hair is actually still sorta-long (enough so that I can put it in the ever-important ponytail) (and avoid getting stuff in it) (stuff = food).

Next:  tomorrow night, which is Thursday, December 16, is an important day for all those who love The SIX (the writing group of which I'm a part).  Why?  Because at 9:00 P.M EST we'll all be participating in a conference call and it's sure to be filled with hilarity and inspirational tips.  Although I'm not really sure at what ratio.  I'm pretty sure that EVERYONE loves The SIX, but if you don't, you should still call in  if you're an aspiring writer and want to get some free advice about all things YA-writing-related.

Here's what to do:

1: At the appointed time, dial 1-218-862-7200 (long distance charges may apply, depending on your phone plan)

2: Enter the Conference Code: 245657

3: To raise your hand and ask a question, dial 5*

4: To Mute yourself, dial 4*

For more information, visit

Call in and learn our secrets (Brodi has good ones that she's dying to share).  In fact we all, each and every one of us, live to give.

Happy Holidays from The SIX!

The Post I Forgot To Title

A few weeks ago, I had the truly enchanting opportunity to talk books with writers Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, on tour for their new book BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS (a follow-up to their mega-success BEAUTIFUL CREATURES) (not that BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS isn't a mega-success in its own right).

Here's us talking about collaborative writing, favorite series (BSC shout-out, baby!), and where we purchased our shoes.  Not necessarily in that order.  And with a lot of other stuff in-between.

Here we are afterward, at the signing at the King's English.  Margy and I are on the bottom row, then it's left to right Bree, Valynne, Kami, and Brodi.    I love this picture because I look like I have a disproportionately large face, and Brodi looks exactly the same as she always does.

To those of you who inquired about whether or not I'm actually going on the Taylor Swift cruise,  I ask:  would I lie to you?  Never.  Would I embellish?  Possibly.  But in this case I am neither lying nor embellishing.  I am frantically memorizing Taylor Swift trivia, so if you have any factoids, send them my way.  Also, if you know how to turn me into a willowy 5'10 blonde with curly hair, let me know that, too, so I can win the look-alike contest.

On the writing front, I am near 46,000 words on my book and I'm done.  Not done like finished--there are still several scenes I envisioned writing.  But I'm kind of over it.  I just figure I'll let the reader fill in the blanks and my work is complete.  Anyone think this idea will fly?  Anyone?  Anyone?

And as far as unusual appointments I've had lately:  I was having back problems, so I went to the massage therapy school by the really good Chinese restaurant for my first-ever massage.  Turns out the fact that I look at the keyboard when I type  is not a good thing, especially considering the amount of time I spend typing.  It also turns out I have about 30% fewer bones in my back than I thought.  What I thought were bones were actually muscles knotted so tightly for so long I just assumed they were bones.  It's a good thing I couldn't see the massage therapist's face when I said "Wow, how'd you make one of my vertebrae disappear?"

I went to get my eyebrows waxed, because you know how that goes.  "Wow, you have such great eyebrows," said the New Lady.

"Thanks," I said.  This is kind of a strange compliment, but I've given stranger, so no big.

Then she's like, "These will be so great to shape.  You have no IDEA  how some people think their eyebrows should look."

I was like, "People think their eyebrows should look a certain way?"  I mean, they're EYEBROWS.  There should be two of them.  You shouldn't look like you're constantly unhappy.  Otherwise,  eyebrows are just there, right?  Apparently not.  And I thought I had problems.