Sekrit Projects Mostly Revealed!

I’ve been working on some super top secret collaborative projects and generally sneaking around like a stealthy little ninja this month, so I figured it was time for an update!

Sekrit Project #1: fLiP iT fRiDaY

Bloggers work hard to spread the word about great reads through book reviews, contests, author interviews, and lots of other fun stuff. To show a little love for their tireless efforts, we’re flipping things around, shining the spotlight on bloggers for a change!

Starting May 1, every Friday at SarahOckler.com is fLiP iT fRiDaY, where we’ll get to know another YA book blogger as he or she answers pressing personal questions about daily life, favorite things, books, blogs, and of course, plans for the upcoming apocalypse. So far, we’ve got over 40 bloggers signed up! If you’ve got a book review or library blog for YA reads and would like to be featured on fLiP iT fRiDaY, contact me!

Sekrit Project #2: Operation ARC

Okay, getting advanced review copies (ARCs) is not that much of a secret, but it is kind of a mission. This week, after receiving the highly coveted ARCs for HATE LIST by Jennifer Brown, ASH by Malinda Lo, and FREAKS AND REVELATIONS by Davida Hurwin from T.S. of Must Love Books, I rendezvoused at Strand in NYC with the aforementioned T.S. and Sharon of Sharon Loves Books and Cats for a little more digging, coming home with these finds (I was relatively good. Sharon is a bad [I mean good] book-buying influence!):

  • BUSTED by Antony John – can’t go wrong with my agent brother.
  • TOUCH by Francine Prose – Francine has been involved with Lighthouse Writers Workshop, so I have the highest expectations for this one!
  • BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE by Thalia Chaltas – I’ve heard good things and I’m looking to expand my novel-in-verse collection.
  • THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams – highly recommended from Sharon.

Sharon with ARCs

Check out Sharon guarding our Strand loot and showing off the coveted Little, Brown ARCs at Union Square! Thankfully the cops I overheard nearby a few hours earlier had cleared out (“I got my gun and I’m wearin’ a vest so even if I get shot I’ll be fine. Come on, let’s do it.” is officially on my list of top ten things you don’t want to accidentally overhear from a cop standing a foot away from your own head, but that’s a story for another day!).

Oh, and moments after this picture was taken, Sharon saved me from getting hit by a bus, which prompted a whole conversation about selling author brains on eBay, but that’s a story for another day, too!

Sekrit Project #3: Singing in Public

Confession. During a reunion of family, old friends, and new friends at Japas 38 in Manhattan last night, the aforementioned T.S. cajoled/guilted/strongarmed me into singing. A song. In public. There may or may not have been multiple froo-froo drinks and a shot of tequila leading up to this unprecedented breaking of my cardinal rule about not singing in public (second in strictness only to my no public dancing rule), especially considering that one of our new friends was English, and I just kept waiting for him to give me the ol’ Simon Cowell “What the bloody hell was that” beat-down.

Thankfully he was distracted during my less-than-stellar performance of Matchbox 20’s Push, but it’s not something I’ll forget anytime soon.

Sekrit Project #4: Um, Still Sekrit

This one is still kind of secret, but details are coming very soon. For now, we’re on a need to know basis. And for now, you only need to know one thing…

There will be ninjas. Oh yes, there will be NINJAS!

*swish swish swish*

Okay, I’ve spilled way too many secrets for one blog post!

*Places tape over mouth*

Josh Berk Update (Hint: Date!)

Okay, I can only let people think I’m crazy for so long, even in the name of spirited author BFF mischief! Now that everyone thinks I’m an extremist militant vegan whack job with enough free time on my hands to stage a blog battle against free speech and a full-scale (albeit largely unsupported) protest against the sweet, unsuspecting, MC-Hammer-underpants-wearing1 debut author Josh Berk…

APRIL FOOLS!

Judging from the intense commentary here and on Josh’s various Web sites, this one was even more convincing than the circa 1987 prank in which brother #1 and I locked brother #2 in the basement and told him Freddy Krueger was down there. Poor kid still can’t watch Nightmare on Elm Street, and he’s 25 years old now! Thankfully Josh was in on today’s gag, so the momentary burden of my guilt at upsetting all of you can be equally shared.

Next, on authors behaving badly…

Since I’ve completely risked (and possibly ruined) my reputation as a mentally stable writer (*cough* oxymoron! *cough*) with this little stunt, I’d like to tell you all, if you can’t tell already, that I absolutely heart Josh Berk (almost as much as I heart veggie burgers). He’s one of the funniest authors I know, and I encourage all of you—regardless of your food orientation2—to check out his blog and watch for THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN in January of 2010. I’m hoping Josh will stop by for an interview soon, once he’s done mopping up the buckets of sympathy tears this post has earned him.

(Josh, please tell them I’m not an issue-laden psycho… *whimpers gently as a kitten* *offers tofu hot dogs*)

Psychos and kittens (and psycho kittens who eat tofu hot dogs) aside, happy April Fools to all of you! Oh, you all know that the whole Gmail Autopilot thing is just a joke, too, right? 🙂


1. This part, I’m afraid, is not a fib. He really does have the MC Hammer undergarments. Ask him.

2. This post, this blog, and the author of such herein neither supports nor discourages the consumption of meat and neither endorses nor disparages individuals who consume meat. The author fully supports the individual right to chose meat or meat alternatives when planning his or her diet and also supports the books of Josh Berk as part of a daily reading regiment but would not force or vote for legislation to force readers to read such works. The author warrants that she received no compensation, direct or implied, for these statements.

Awards & Updates

Guess what? I’m now officially an award-winning author! Awards! Me! I know, right? My book isn’t even out yet! Doesn’t matter. Thanks to Yan at Books By Their Cover, I’m worthy. She’s bestowed upon me the highly coveted… Zombie Chicken Award!

Zombie Chicken Award

zombie chicken awardThe blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…

Thank you, Yan! Now, for my turn. I’m awarding the Zombie Chicken to:

  1. Sarah MacLean, author of THE SEASON, who’s as cute, smart, and hilarious as she is schooled in the ways of Regency and romance.
  2. Jennifer Brown, pub house sister and author of HATE LIST, who’s Jennifunny blog earns its name with every post.
  3. Josh Berk, my agent brother and author of THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN, who proudly wears MC Hammer Underoos and is never afraid to blog way TMI.
  4. AuthorsNow!, a collaboration of 2009 and 2010 debut authors who come together online to share book recommendations, contests, book world insights, and other fun stuff.
  5. Sarah Woodard, who blogs and vlogs about my favorite things (um, books!) at Sarah’s Random Musings and keeps freaky vampire hours like me. Sarahs of the world, unite!

Randomness Updates

In other news, well, TWENTY BOY SUMMER is out in 62 days. Gulp. Yes, now I’m counting. Book 2 is in the revision stage, which means I’m still not going to say much about it yet (hopefully soon)! That one comes out next year. And I’m working on book 3, as well as launch plans for book 1. It’s kind of funny that while my first book is being introduced to the world, I’m actually done with a 2nd and working on a 3rd. I like being busy, though, otherwise I’d give in to my natural tendency to move as little as possible and wait for my husband to bring me soup and chocolates and news of who got voted off Idol this week. It’s the life!

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish my dear friend Darling Rachel a very happy birthday! This time last year, we were saying our goodbyes to Rachel at Denver’s Wynkoop Brewery as we got ready to head back east. *Sniffle!* Anyway, happy birthday, darling. I hope your day is as fabulous as you are!

Darling Rachel

First Snow in Buffalo

First Snow

There’s always something magical about the first snow of the season — something that makes me nostalgic for winters passed. Something that makes me long for pink cheeks and sledding and hot chocolate with little marshmallows.

Something that makes it okay to go outside on the front porch in the middle of the night with my husband in fuzzy pink snowflake and blue polar bear pajama pants (mine, his, respectively) to take pictures.

The snow crept up on me this year. I’d been expecting it since September — this is Buffalo, after all, home of the Lake Effect and the Blizzard of ’77. But the weather has been relatively calm since our early October arrival. Balmy, even. Last week we were still in the 70s, sunny, happy, nary a cloud in sight. So I found myself both surprised and delighted when Alex (yes, Alex of the polar bear pants) interrupted my evening procrastination to tell me about the first snow. And it’s a good one, too — perfect crystal snowflakes floating and twirling to the ground like a thousand tiny ballerinas.

Frozen ballerinas with chapped lips and runny noses whose mothers should have made them wear pants under their pink tutus like mine would have done, but ballerinas nevertheless.

Winter is coming — my first in Buffalo in 11 years. And I can’t wait!

Top 10 Things I’m Most Excited About for Winter in Buffalo, 2008 Version

  1. The annual driving ban when we can enjoy the neighborhood on foot (snowshoes optional) as all traffic is suspended due to 4 feet of snow with nowhere to go.
  2. Aforementioned hot chocolate, now with ginger, spicy hot pepper, and other secret ingredients for an added kick. Bailey’s may or may not be one of the secret ingredients, but since it’s a secret, I can’t tell you! Shhh! *hiccup*
  3. Our first ever family Thanksgiving hosted in our home. By us. With family members attending. Extra Bailey’s — check.
  4. Annual Thanksgiving weekend Lord of the Rings trilogy extended version movie marathon, in which Alex (yes, Alex of the polar bear pants) and I watch all three films back to back, eating nachos and drinking wine the entire twelve or so hours.
  5. Watching kids in the neighborhood fall down in their puffy, immovable snowsuits, which I’m pretty sure Buffalo invented. The snowsuits, not the falling down. Speaking of falling down, bartender, more Bailey’s?
  6. Silk Soy Holiday Nog.
  7. Christmas carolers — a singer I am not, but I do hope we get some. Do people still carol? If not, could someone please come to our house, ring the doorbell, and sing?
  8. Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider. In New York State, they use real apple cider and not just apple juice that they heat up and call cider.
  9. Saving a snowball or two in the freezer and not looking at it again until summer, and of course —
  10. Christmas music! I loves my Christmas music! It drives Alex (yes, Alex of the polar bear pants) crazy, but not me. I love it. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Etta James do Silent Night.

What are you guys looking forward to this winter?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Six months ago, we packed up our lives1 in Colorado to move back to New York City. But maybe that old saying about how you can’t go home again is true, because in eight days, we’re packing it in (er, up) and heading for greener (er, snowier) pastures.

End of the World

NYC to Us: “Why You Want To Leave Me?”

Okay, you know that guy that in high school who’s like the hottest guy ever and when he looks at you your insides start turning inside out? And one day when he smiles at you and says hi and actually uses your name instead of just doing that stupid what-up man-nod that boys always do when they’re around their friends your whole heart is about to explode right out of your chest? And then one day you find yourself innocently making out with him behind the school and you don’t even care that everyone is watching, or that in one day this guy knows more about your undergarments than the sales girl at Vicky’s?

But then you stop kissing long enough to get to know him and it turns out he’s about as dumb as a box of hair and he’s mean to his little sister and he kicks puppies in his spare time and also, he hits on your best friend? But he’s still really really hot and he brings you a rose and a little white bear on Valentine’s Day and you kind of forget about the best friend thing until naked pictures of her show up on his MySpace page, and even then you kind of laugh it off because he’s still really really hot and the other night in the Taco Bell parking lot you were shivering so he gave you his favorite black hoodie that you sleep with now because it still smells like him, even though the whole school is talking about those MySpace pics?

Yeah, that guy.

Anyway, that’s kind of why we’re moving. Not that NYC kicks puppies or anything, I’m just saying. Home is not what it once was for me – for many reasons. Did you get that from my clever (albeit quite-a-stretch) analogy?

Right.

Where To?

In 8 days, Alex and I are wandering up to Buffalo. Before you say anything, let me assure you that any rumors you’ve heard about Buffalo are probably true, but feel free to ask if you have any questions or curiosities. We’re excited to spend some quality time up there, especially since we work from home and therefore don’t have to shovel snow. Our neighborhood has everything we could ask for — a farmer’s market, an independent bookstore, Greek diners open all night, multiple coffee places, multiple veggie restaurants, a kick-ass library, close to Wegmans2, and my baby brother who is as funny and talented as he is adorable (not that I’m pimping him or anything, but ladies, he’s single AND he’s not afraid to cry over girly YA books…)!

Expect lots of dispatches from the Queen City as we get settled into our new place in the coming weeks… just in time for fresh orchard apples and real cider, Halloween, and probably the first of many blizzards3. I’ve also heard rumors that a rabid squad of 20-somethings4 is conspiring to turn me and Alex into a couple of beer-drinking, bar-hopping, goal-post-climbing Buffalo Bills fans (among *cough* other things), but like I told aforementioned baby brother, we are the grown-ups in this operation, damn it, and we’re not above going all After School Special on the lot of ’em!

*cough* Kids these days!

So you’ll have those stories to look forward to. See, I told you after my long blog absence I would make it up to you! Well maybe I forgot to tell you, tell you, but I was thinking it, and now you’ll reap the bounty of my Buffalo-bound babbling all winter.

In the words of Napoleon Dynamite… “LUCKY!”

P.S. No puppies were harmed in the writing of this blog post.


1. By we, I mean me, Alex, our friend Criptoper, and two of Helicopter Pilot’s finest, who helped us drive 2,000 miles with severe hangovers and only to get grounded from Omaha, but we’re not bringing that up again!

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See? Aren’t the adorable? And hard-working, too!

2. For those of you unschooled in the glory that is Wegmans, see here. My first real job was as a Wegmans cashier. They had all these tracking systems so they could time how long it would take us to complete an order, even if it wasn’t our fault that the customer was digging in her purse for change or coupons or her club card. It was very high-stakes for a grocery job. Anyway, Wegmans is much cooler now than when I worked there, but they probably still time the employees.
3. This is not an exaggeration. Ask anyone to share childhood memories of Halloween in Buffalo and you will undoubtedly hear words like “snowsuit” and “frostbite.”
4. Yes, your honor. That’s them.

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