Treasure Hunting on Lake Erie

After a particularly vicious storm on Sunday (you know, the one I where stood outside watching the lightening?), Mom and I spent the following day hunting for sea glass along the shores of Lake Erie at Woodlawn and Hamburg Town beaches. Together, we came away with over 700 new pieces, plus a few interesting rocks and fossils, shells, ceramic tiles, and one dinosaur. That was Mom’s — the dinosaur. Something about abandoned toys really freaks me out, especially when they’re floating in the water, so I leave the creepy stuff to her and stick with what I know.

Lake Erie Gems

Looking for sea glass requires patience and skill — it’s generally quite small and can be hard to spot among similarly colored rocks, shells, leaves, things that crawl, and other lakeside debris. No matter how many times Mom and I walked back and forth over the same stretch of beach, heads down, eyes trained on the thin spread of rocks where the water meets the sand, we continued to find pieces that we’d overlooked just moments earlier. Often, we’d catch a shimmer in the wet sand as the tide pulled back the lake like a skirt, only to lose sight of it as the water again rushed forward. Other times, we’d spot a brightly colored blue or red square a few paces ahead only to scoop up a piece of old plastic. There’s also the tricky matter of avoiding fish bones and litter and separating genuine lake-aged glass from the just-broken bottle shards of last night’s party crowd. Dangerous work, for sure.

Despite the obstacles, the long search is always worth the effort. Genuine beach glass uncovered as easily as something plucked form a store shelf wouldn’t hold such mystery, like the rare red glass in TWENTY BOY SUMMER, or the amber glass largely created not by our modern beer bottles as I once thought, but by Prohibition-era rumrunners who smuggled cases of booze from Canada into Buffalo, dumping bottles in the lake whenever the police got too close.


As we continued our treasure hunt, girls chatted on blankets in the sand despite the post-storm chill and thrillseekers braved the choppy, muddy water to windsurf and kiteboard. On one beach, a bulldozer beeped and roared along the waterfront, clearing tree branches and other debris that washed ashore in Sunday’s rain. Not far from where the waves nipped at our toes, the windmills from Lackawana’s urban wind farm towered in the sky, shooting up like trees from the industrial remnants of the Bethlehem Steel plant.

Lackawanna Windmills

Here in the southtowns of Buffalo, despite greening efforts like the Lackawanna wind farm, a storm like Sunday’s is enough to flood area waterways and contaminate the lake, and swimming is still forbidden on certain beaches for the entire season due to pollution.


Oil Change


Still, for our walk up and down the shore, the sun shone warm on our backs and the rush of the wind-tossed waves dulled the sounds of civilization. As we combed the sand for hidden gems, it was enough just to be there, to hear the seagulls call to one another across the sky as we dropped tiny bits of amber and kelly green and aqua and white into our bags and wandered along the beach in search of more, a never-ending quest to unearth the buried treasures of the lake.

Treasures of Lake Erie

I’m a Danger to Myself and Others

6 Reasons I Need to Be Grounded

6. I’ve missed 2 fLiP iT fRiDaYs in a row. 1 for being on an all-day Amtrak ride from NYC to Buffalo. And 1 because I don’t remember why — I only remember the aching guilt. Guilt guilt guilt. Grounded!

5. I haven’t updated this blog in, like, forever. Lazy. Busy. Grounded!

4. I keep staying up way past my bedtime. So far past, in fact, that I’m now sleeping in the future, waiting for everyone else to catch up. Exhausted. Cranky. Grounded.

3. I was visiting my parents tonight and my Dad asked if there was anything sweet in the house, and Mom and I said no, which was a total lie considering the box of Dolci Bakery’s chocolate covered macaroons hidden beside me. And by macaroons I really mean macaroon — just the one — because I ate all the others. I was entering a Great Moral Dilemma (silently amongst myself) about whether to confess and pass over the last one, but by then, Dad was already in the kitchen digging out some cookies Mom remembered were in the freezer. There were 4. Cookies, not freezers. He offered to defrost and share 2 with me, completely oblivious to the macaroon non-admission. I would have eaten them, too, but then Mom found some more sweets. OMG I’m a horrible daughter! Ga-rounded.

2. There’s this crazy lightening storm going on at my parents’ house, the likes of which I haven’t seen since this one night in Denver where it was so intense, the midnight sky looked like daylight and Alex and I debated sleeping in the car in the garage. So what do I do? Go outside with my parents and the dog and stand in the driveway to watch. Um, what does it mean when your nose hair suddenly tingles and your mouth tastes like copper? It means you are dumb. Grounded.

And the number 1 reason I need to be grounded…

1. When I picked up my Mac laptop tonight, there was a rattling inside. Not like a light, tappy, Smart Food White Cheddar Popcorn kernel-rattling, which would be somewhat unsurprising given my propensity toward the cheesy treat as writing brainfood, but like a something-is-definitely-effed-up-in-this-piece rattling. Frantic, I opened it and booted up, but everything looked okay — no cracked screen or missing keys or buttons, and all the sounds and icons came on. Still, each time I tipped the computer, something obviously loose and foreign clunked around inside. I watched a bunch of movies last night so I thought maybe it was a loose DVD or DVD drive component, but nothing would eject (and I was certain I’d already ejected the last movie earlier today). I closed it up again, tipped and gently shook and shook and tipped and shook, and finally, out popped…. a quarter. A quarter! WTF!?! Note to self: Mac laptop is not a piggy bank. Or a slot machine. I don’t even know how it got in there or where it came from. The DVD drive isn’t even an open slot. God, the whole thing was very grilled-cheese-in-the-VCR, you know? How did I not blow myself up? How do I function? Idiot on parade. Grounded!

Devoted readers (and those whom my mother pays to pretend), will someone please volunteer to banish me to a place — a place that’s heavily padded — before I actually hurt myself?

Happy Birthday, Twenty Boy Summer!

Today is the official release date for Twenty Boy Summer. Though it snuck into many bookstores early, today is still a special, exciting, amazing day, as it marks the fruition of a dream come true. To celebrate, I’m taking a trip down memory lane with some of the retro posts that highlight my years-in-the-making TBS publication journey.


And finally…

TBS Birthday Plans

Other celebratory activities today?

  • Baking and decorating heart-shaped, TBS-themed cupcakes from scratch for tomorrow’s family book launch party, which will be another fun time in what’s quickly becoming a month-long bookfest.
  • Chatting with Nadine-Stella in 21 Questions on Starry Night and sharing the first ever sneak peek of Fixing Delilah Hannaford, my second novel, which comes out next year. Nadine-Stella is also giving away hardcover copies of Twenty Boy Summer to 5 lucky commenters!
  • For the first stop on a 10-day Traveling To Teens blog tour, learn more about the inspiration behind Twenty Boy Summer at Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf.
  • Awesome Sarah MacLean, author of The Season, hosts TBS main character Anna Reiley on Inside the Character’s Studio.
  • I might even take a nap later. 🙂

Feel the Love

Parties aside, I wouldn’t even be blogging about this if it wasn’t for the love and support of so many friends, family members, writing buddies, my amazing agent, and the whole team of people working hard at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. There are so many wonderful people who helped me along the way, and this celebration is as much theirs as it is mine. I’ve thanked many in the pages of Twenty Boy Summer, but there are a few more who deserve a virtual hug today!

  • Sarah Dessen. Without even knowing it, YA author Sarah Dessen inspired me to write for teens way back in 2004. Today, I get to thank her publicly as part of The Sarah Dessen Diarist’s Sarah Dessen Celebration.
  • The 2009 Debutantes. The Debs is a wonderfully supportive community of fellow debut YA and MG authors who are made of awesome. We laugh. We cry. We send chocolate.
  • The Word Ninjas. The Word Ninjas is a new collaborative of debut authors and YA book bloggers working together to introduce new YA reads to the world. The bloggers working on Twenty Boy Summer and the other ninja books are incredible and passionate and excited and it’s really been an honor to work with them. Watch for more fun ninja TBS stuff throughout June!
  • The YA Book Blogging Community. I have met so many amazing readers through the YA book blogging community that to name them all would take about a thousand separate blog posts! Every Friday, we introduce one of these bloggers on fLiP iT fRiDay, but in the mean time, I’d like to thank ALL of them for their viral-like support of TBS and other debut YA books. They’ve read and reviewed, hosted contests and interviews, shared books with their friends and family, stalked me in NYC (okay, I encouraged the stalking!), and honored me with things like Jordyn’s 2-week-long TBS Countdown, taking tons of pictures of TBS in the wild, and kicking off my release day with this heartwarming surprise:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you to all of the readers, librarians, booksellers, teachers, bloggers, publishers, and all those with whom I share my love of books and reading and storytelling. I’m overwhelmed by your support and encouragement and enthusiasm for Twenty Boy Summer and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this day than with all of you.

    Happy Birthday, Twenty Boy Summer!

Operation Book-Stalk: Success!

It seems the rumors are true. Twenty Boy Summer is on the shelves!


Twenty Boy Summer on the Shelves

Mom picked me up bright and early this morning (11 AM! Can you believe it? I was too excited to sleep! No, seriously. 11 AM is way early for us night shifters!) so we could book-stalk Twenty Boy Summer in the local Barnes & Noble stores. Being the professional, courteous stalker that I am, I called in advance to phone in my stalking so there wouldn’t be any awkwardness. I mean, other than my mom and dear friend Amy accosting passing customers, but who am I to deny their enthusiasm?!

I know I call myself a writer, but I don’t think I’ll ever find the words to describe the feeling of seeing my book on an actual shelf in a store, or the feeling of watching the manager carefully apply the little green “autographed copy” stickers after I signed them, or the feeling of hearing, “We’ve already sold most of them since yesterday – there’s only one left! We’re ordering more now!” or the feeling of seeing my 2009 Debs friends’ books on the shelves, or the feeling of watching customers defend themselves from the onslaught of the fan club otherwise known as Mom who would stop at nothing to sell a middle-aged guy a novel called Twenty Boy Summer with a big heart on the cover…

Well, okay, I could probably come up with some descriptive words for that one, if I really thought about it long enough!


*Secretly likes it*

And now, for the watch-the-slides-of-my-kids-on-vacation-aren’t-they-adorable portion of the show…

Hanging out with fellow Debs (Deborah Lytton, Cindy Pon, Sarah Quigley, Carrie Ryan):

Twenty Boy Summer with the Debs

Autographing the remaining copies:

Signing Twenty Boy Summer

Twenty Boy Summer Autographed

Operation Book-Stalk was a huge success. I got to sign my books, chat with the wonderful bookstore managers, and set a date for my first official signing (not counting the ones Mom keeps making me do for everyone on her gift list!). If you’re in the Buffalo area, please come! I’m bringing cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies?

Twenty Boy Summer Book Signing
Saturday, June 13, 1:00 PM
Barnes & Noble, McKinley Mall
3701 McKinley Parkway
Buffalo, NY

More local signings coming soon. Now, I must go run around in circles and do a funny little dance to burn off this hyper energy. 🙂