Monthly Archives: March 2012

Happy Me Day to Me

I did my birthday right this year.  I informed my husband that I’d buy my own presents, told him what kind of cake I wanted (something fun made from Rice Krispie Treats) and picked the restaurant where we dined.  The end result?  I got exactly what I wanted.

But the best gift I gave myself was when I declared the Sunday before my actual birthday as Me Day, where it was understood by my husband and son that the day would be entirely centered on Me-related things—such as walking to the store (by myself) to get the Sunday NY Times, having the time to actually read the Sunday NY Times, working out on the elliptical, eating Nutella & banana crepes, going Spring skiing with my son, then cooking the kind of healthy dinner I craved, without the grumblings from the meat and potatoes guy I married.

Me Day was nothing fancy or monumental, but as a mom, just knowing I had the freedom to have an entire Sunday to do exactly what I wanted while still hanging out with my family felt like a luxury.  And by the end of the day, I was completely filled up.

Which made me realize how seldom we mothers do just that.  We let our cups run empty, claiming we’re too busy with kids, life, work, etc., to take care of ourselves, and then we end up feeling constantly depleted.

My family and I recently went to Aruba on vacation, which meant lots of eating out.  Personally, I was thrilled by the prospect of not having to cook every night.  But for my seven-year-old son—a boy whose average butt-on-the-seat time during dinners at home is about forty-three seconds—it was a challenge.  To his credit, he did surprisingly well.  Most of the time.  But I also recognized what a struggle it was for him to sit still for that long, dinner after three-course dinner, forced to constrain his constantly moving body with parental-imposed “restaurant behavior.” So, when dessert was over, my husband or I would bring him out to the parking lot and let him run around like a Tasmanian Devil.  Or on the odd occasion we ate in, we’d let him veg out in front of Cartoon Network while eating mac and cheese.

Basically, I just gave the kid a chance to recharge. But the funny thing is how little we mothers allow ourselves to do the same.

We either fail to prioritize ourselves, or when we do think about carving out some “me time,” it just ends up feeling like another line item on our Sisyphean to-do list.  Sometimes, the very act of trying to fill ourselves up can be depleting in and of itself.  It takes effort to find a babysitter, make a reservation, or schedule a weekend away.  But unless we mothers prioritize self-care, I truly believe everything else suffers.  Just like working out, it’s helpful to remind yourself how good it feels when you make the effort to do it and how much you like the results.

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Young Turks

The J. Geils Freeze Frame may have been my first album,   followed closely by Rick Springfield’s timeless masterpiece, Working Class Dog,  but Young Turks by Rod Stewart was the first song to completely rock my world.

It was the video on MTV that first got me hooked—Billy and Patti, two teenage lovers running away together through the gritty urban streets, followed closely by a troupe of their own personal back-up dancers.  What 11-year-old girl doesn’t have that romantic fantasy?  And let’s be honest—if there was a way to work back-up dancers into my present day-to-day life, I’d be all for it.

So moved was I by the Young Turks video that I was compelled to scrawl the words “Young Turks” in giant letters on the street outside my house with a stick of caulking putty I’d found in the garage.  When I left for college seven years later, it still hadn’t faded.

Young hearts, be free tonight.
Time is on your side.

Maybe the reason I loved Young Turks so intensely is because tweens feel everything intensely. Or maybe nothing can ever really compare to that very first time a song grabs you by the soul, even if that song culminates with Patti giving birth to “a ten pound baby boy.”  Ouch.

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, music, pop music, rock bands, teenage girls

I call it Goo-ku: My Google Search History in Haiku Form


Literary men

Deleting pages in Word

Apocalypse Now



“Crotch” in Korean

Mercury in retrograde

When is Passover?



Dwarf vs. midget

Lifespan of a grasshopper

Gods and demigods


And this one’s just a regular haiku:


Attention poets!

Got any Goo-kus to share?

Leave them in Comments.


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And the Winner of Shelf Awareness REUNITED ARC Giveaway is…

Congratulations, Jennifer S., you are now the proud owner of an advance reader copy of REUNITED!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and follow my blog or become a fan of my Facebook page for information on more great giveaways.

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, young adult

Truth or Dare: St. Patty’s Day Challenge

Think I wouldn’t dress as a leprechaun in public and ask people if they had any Lucky Charms?  Think again, kids.  😉

If you want to know why I’m doing this, I’ve got three words for you:  Truth or Dare.  For more info., see yesterday’s blog.

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Truth or Dare Challenge

Oh, Truth or Dare, why can’t I resist you?  From that very first game at summer camp, I was hooked.  I can still remember the go-to dare I inflicted upon countless girls during our sixth and seventh grade sleepovers:  pull down your pajama bottoms and run past So-and-So’s parents in the kitchen. Good times.

And now, I’m ready to pull down my own pajama pants.  Metaphorically speaking, that is.  Or maybe not.  That’s right, people, I’m inviting YOU to give me a truth or dare challenge.  Here’s how it works.

In the comments section, write, 1 question for me to answer truthfullyand 1 dare, and just like in the game, I promise to do one of them.  Any dares I attempt will be documented with photographic or video proof.

And if I chicken out, my punishment will be to post a chicken pic on my blog for a week.

Why am I doing this?  Because it’s the mandatory hazing if I want to join teamTEEN author and have REUNITED be a part of their very cool ARC Relay!  TeamTEEN author is the brainchild of Julie Cross, author of TEMPEST, and she’s put together a great group of teen book reviewers (known as The Perfect Ten) to read and review YA.

So basically, I’ve succumbed to peer pressure and self-degradation in order for the chance to hang with the cool kids.  But just like in junior high, it totally seems worth it. 😉  Plus, I’ll get this nifty virtual medal.  So go ahead — give it your best shot.


Filed under book blog, books, movies, YA, writing, favorite books, friends, friendship, teenage girls, young adult

My biggest surprise as a first-time novelist?


Filed under book blog, books, movies, YA, writing, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, writing, writing advice

#1 Reason to Let Your Child Watch “Cake Boss”

the headlights are Smarties leftover from Halloween.

Behold, the Pea-Pod–the pea-green ’76 VW camper bus the girls in my book (REUNITED, Simon & Schuster) drive on their cross-country road-trip.  Only in birthday cake form.  According to the makers of this masterpiece (my husband and 7-year-old son) the idea came from  the younger chef.  How sweet is THAT?  He  also advised me not to eat the Lego wheels, just in case I was tempted. 😉

My son was only six when our family went through what can only be called a “Cake Boss Phase,” and at the time, I wondered if I was being a bad parent by letting him watch a show with bleeped swears.   In hindsight, it was a f%$#-ing awesome decision.  Best birthday cake ever.

My very favorite kind of birthday cake: made from Rice Krispie Treats.


Filed under book blog, books, movies, YA, writing, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, young adult

Writing Characters People Love: Why Andy Bernard is No Michael Scott (Or, Why It’s Easy to Love a Shmuck With High Ideals)

Oh, The Office, how did you let this happen?  With all the build-up over who would succeed Michael Scott as boss, you picked the wrong man.  Don’t get me wrong, Andy Bernard’s insecure and obliviously unself-aware dork is often amusing.  And Ed Helms has absolutely nailed the stiff-legged physicality of Andy’s pastel chino-wearing White Guy.  But ultimately, Andy Bernard’s a shmuck.  And audiences don’t want to root for guys like that, unless, of course, there’s something underneath the schmucky exterior.

Take Michael Scott for example.  The guy was the very definition of a jerk—egotistical, self-absorbed, immature, with a self-perception that bordered on (and often crossed into) delusion.  But the thing about Michael Scott was that we loved him despite all that.  Or maybe even because of it.  Wherein lies the very reason Michael Scott was such a brilliant character—because his greatest flaw, his total ineptitude, also doubled as his greatest talent.

Interestingly, Andy Bernard and Michael Scott share many personality traits.  Yet, I find it impossible to care about Andy Bernard’s downtrodden goober, whereas I rooted for the highly flawed Michael Scott right from the get-go.  And here’s why.  When writing highly flawed characters—and all of your character should have flaws—it’s important to give readers (or audiences) access to that character’s vibrant inner life.  What do your characters think about in bed at night when they’re all alone?  What makes their heart sing?  And which of their secret innermost desires breaks our hearts, even just a little?

Michael Scott wore his grandiose delusions on his sleeve.  And even though we laughed at them, the unabashedly bold scope of these ridiculous dreams was always something to admire. Andy Bernard, in contrast, has no high ideals.  Yes, they’ve tried to make us root for him by tossing him the unrequited love plotline with Erin.  But the poor guy’s inability to admit his love for the woman he wants makes him come across as more of a sad sack than a tragic hero.  Why?  BECAUSE WE NEVER GET TO SEE ANDY SEE HIMSELF AS A HERO.  Not once have we been allowed to see Andy picture himself as the man he hopes to be.  And even if he’ll never step up to become his higher self, the hope that he will, however repressed or foolish, NEEDS TO BE THERE.

The whole reason human beings love to root for the underdog is because we see that small glimmer of promise twinkling in a character’s eye.  But sadly, we can’t root for our characters to overcome their miserable lives unless they first imagine it for themselves.

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Book Spine Poetry

I totally stole this idea from the Teen Librarian’s Toolbox who got it from Creative with Kids.  Below is my first official book spine poem, made up entirely of non-kids books & entitled “The Wonder of Boys.”   If you love this as much as I do, please share some of your own.  –Hilary

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