Interview with Debut YA Author Shari Green + Book & Starbucks Giveaway

1. Your debut YA book—FOLLOWING CHELSEA—just debuted on October 17th. Can you tell us about your road from starting the story to getting it published?

It was a long and winding road! (But that’s probably true of many stories.) I wrote FOLLOWING CHELSEA in 2008, signed with an agent and worked on revisions with her, but then ended up parting ways with the agent. I shelved the story while I wrote other things, but came back to it a couple times over the next few years. Then Evernight Teen put out a call for submissions, and FOLLOWING CHELSEA seemed like it might be a good fit. Turned out, it was! I’m thrilled it found a good home.

2. As a debut novelist, what advice would you give to YA writers who are hoping to get their first book published?

Keep reading, keep writing, find good critique partners, and don’t let the waiting get you down. ☺

3. I love this one-sentence description about your book: Walking in the footsteps of a dead girl isn’t easy. What did you learn in the process of writing this particular story?

I learned a lot about revising, for sure, but maybe one of the most helpful things was the importance of knowing the “story kernel,” the heart, the one thing that your story boils down to, even if you end up cutting or changing almost everything else. With FOLLOWING CHELSEA, that one-sentence description was something I could keep coming back to, and it would bring me back from wandering down tangents, keeping me on track with revisions.

4. What are some recent YA reads that you’ve loved?

  • Leila Sales’ THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE
  • Cat Hellison’s HOUSE OF SAND AND SECRETS
  • Jeri Smith-Ready’s THIS SIDE OF SALVATION
  • Tess Sharpe’s FAR FROM YOU
  • Eagerly awaiting A.S. King’s GLORY O’BRIEN’S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE (which I’m including in this list because I know I’m going to love it, lol . . .  I love all her work!)

5. Now that your first book is out, are there plans for a second book in the works?

Nothing under contract yet, but I’m working on another YA, and I have a MG verse novel that I’m kind of in love with—hoping it finds a home soon!

Shari has a great giveaway for readers. Thanks so much, Shari!

Giveaway: FOLLOWING CHELSEA’s main character, Anna, seriously loves her morning coffee. I suspect she’s not alone in her caffeine addiction, so I’m giving away a $10 Starbucks card along with a FOLLOWING CHELSEA e-book and signed postcard swag. Enjoy a latte-and-reading break on me! CLICK HERE FOR THE GIVEAWAY.

YA author Shari Green

YA author Shari Green

You can find Shari Green on Twitter at @sharigreen and her website.

My Favorite Vegan Eats in Portland, OR

Ah, Portland, I love you. The vegan scene in Portland is crazy. I ate all the time and still didn’t hit everything. Besides my love for Powell’s Books (THE bookstore of all indie bookstores), the city has a charm that I can’t resist. Maybe it’s the cute fabric stores with helpful saleswomen or the options of almond, coconut, or soy milk at most coffee shops, or just maybe it’s food. In all food porn glory, here are some of my favorite vegan eats in Portland, OR.

1. Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Portobello

Three Cheese Plate with Plum Compote and Toast

With the cheese plates, amazing homemade vegan pastas, and salted caramel ice cream sundaes, Portobello is the perfect date night meal, or going out with your girlfriends. They have fantastic cocktails and adorable atmosphere. The menu changes, but anything you get will be great.

2. The Sudra

Sudra

Kale Dosa Plate

I love vegan Indian food! The Sudra is a cute eatery located in the middle of a row of delicious-looking restaurants. The Kale Dosa Plate comes with a potato masala and a cilantro-lemon sauce that I’m still thinking about today. I want it.

3. Sizzle Pie

Sizzle Pie

I won’t bore you with my lament about good pizza on the West Coast, instead I’ll just implore that you head to Sizzle Pie and have a vegan slice of anything available that day. Because the crust is right on and the toppings are SO GOOD, you’ll be thinking, who cares about cheese? And shut up about your container of nutritional yeast that I can sprinkle on my pizza! Can we get married, Sizzle Pie?

4. The Cheese Plate PDX

PDX Cheese Plate

The Vegan Grilled Cheese

It was our last day in Portland. It was raining. I ate this scrumptious grilled cheese while Funny Face, starring Audrey Hepburn, played on the TV in this food truck. Everything was perfect.

5. Harlow

Hawthorne

Outlaw Scramble

This adorable new healthy eating cafe has a great breakfast menu. Try the Lemon Babycakes, the Outlaw Scramble, and the Hot Chocolate with coconut milk.

6. Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ

Homegrown Smoker

Reuben Special

Even though it’s not pictured here because we devoured it too quickly—the Macnocheeto Burrito is my favorite thing at this food truck. It’s filled with mac ‘n cheese and barbecue soy curls. Really. It’s a decadent burrito, but easily shareable with a friend.

7. Back to Eden Bakery

Back to Eden

The Vernon Sundae

Ice cream sundaes are kinda the best thing ever. If I wasn’t so full, I would’ve devoured the baked goodies and treats like the pumpkin cake covered in chocolate!

8. A.N.D Cafe

AND Cafe

Berry and Cream Waffle

This is a great place to go for breakfast. The sweet or savory waffles are delicious. There was a couple planning their wedding while having breakfast and I’m a sucker for weddings so maybe I teared up a little.

9. Departure

Departure

Banana Fritters Sundae

I told you I love ice cream sundaes, but really this was just the end of a great meal. Hat trick to Laura Beck for recommending the vegan menu at Departure, a rooftop pan-Asian restaurant that was the swankiest restaurant I’ve ever been to in Portland. You must try the BBQ Tempeh Buns, the Brussels Sprouts (trust me), and Gingered Mushrooms. While that might not sound like a lot of food, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.

Of course, I should mention a stop at the vegan mini-mall—which has Food Fight, a grocery store; Herbivore, a clothing shop, Sweetpea Baking Company, and a vegan tattoo shop—is a MUST. And the vegan bar The Bye and Bye.

I miss Portland already.

Leanne & me

That time I ran into Leanne, founder of Vaute Couture, before I left Portland. She’s the cutest & sweetest.

My October Challenge: The Gratitude Project / 31 Days of Thank Yous

Every October, I embark on a challenge—something that pushes me out of my comfort zone. It started with training for a half-marathon, then trying a 21-day cleanse, taking French lessons, and this year, I’m challenging myself to write a thank you note every day in October to 31 different people.

My friend Jaya inspired me to make a list of 10 things every day I’m grateful for and during our morning dog walks, Brendan and I share our lists. It helps to start the day remembering what’s good in my life, like having access to clean water and organic food and silly things like when my Labrador is happy to go for a walk.

So, I’ve made a list of people who I want to thank for being part of my life because I am really lucky to have great friends and family. In my notes, I mention the Gratitude Project and ask if people are so inclined that they write a note to someone they’d like to thank. My hope is that there is a ripple effect of gratitude to many people beyond my circle.

Will you join my challenge? If not for the whole month, why not spend a week emailing people who deserve your gratitude?

How to Use Pinterest as a Writer

I love this infographic about creativity, which is why I’m sharing it with you, dear reader. I couldn’t agree more, especially with #14.

Though I do agree with #4, there are some things I really love about writing on my MacBook Air. One of them is Pinterest. Pinterest is one of those fun things that I, like most people, pin a bunch of cute animals, recipes, and things I’d like to stare at later.

Lately, I’ve been creating secret boards on Pinterest just for writing books. What do I use them for?

  • Creating characters. I’ll pull photos of celebs, or every day people who I think my character would look like.
  • A collage of a character’s favorite things, like bands or recipes they might make (one of my characters is a chef wannabe).
  • Links to interesting articles that are good research for the world I’m writing
  • Clothing inspiration to decide how my teen characters would dress.
  • Photos of locations of settings in my book

I find it super helpful to have my secret board open while I’m working on my book so I can keep those images in mind as I write. While my husband is the writer who likes to turn off the Internet while working, I really like having the ability to research something the moment I’m writing it. For instance, I like to use Google Maps to find what street in a particular town this chapter will take place. While the Internet can be distracting, I do like the instant access to information that I need to make my book authentic.

 

 

My Favorite East Bay Vegan Eats

Even though I live in the Mecca of vegan eatery, I still miss my favorite vegan eats in Berkeley and Oakland, CA. The thing I love about the East Bay is that there is so much pride in the food scene, like people genuinely are happy when you enjoy eating at their establishment.

If you ever find yourself in the Bay Area, you must try these places.

1. Donut Farm

IMG_2271

No, seriously, that’s their case of fresh doughnuts. I’m not lying. Also, if you’re there when still have apple fritters, do yourself a favor and get one. Or five. And the breakfast burrito is a MUST.

2. Victory Burger

IMG_2272

This is the Veggie Arepa, and it is delicious. What’s that shake? It’s just a chocolate peanut butter coconut ice cream milkshake. And those are fries are hand cut perfection. My friends also swear by the Veggie Burger, but I can never seem to veer away from my tofu veggie arepa.

3. Gather

IMG_2282

FINE, Bay Area you have better pizza. You have vegan deep dish at Patxi’s and Zachary’s, and then this delicious cashew cream, olive, spicy tomato pizza with a bubbly crust. For this former New Yorker, this is the best and closest to a NYC pie.

4. Republic of V

Photo: Republic of V’s Facebook page

This vegan emporium has all sorts of good eats, cookbooks, handbags, and more. I was literally overwhelmed with the amazing selection. When we spoke to the guy working that afternoon, he told me I had to buy the best vegan candy bar. He was right. It was vanilla caramel toasted cashews in dark chocolate goodness, topped with sea salt. Everything I like in one bite. I only wish that Republic of V was open when I lived in Berkeley!

5. Saturn Cafe

IMG_2283

Maybe you notice a pattern. I like milkshakes and French fries. Saturn Cafe is the perfect place to hang out late at night. The vegan cheese fries and milkshake combo is ideal. (Don’t worry I really do eat vegetables most of the time!). While Saturn isn’t 100 percent vegan, most of the menu items can be veganized.

6. Souley Vegan

Photo: Veggie101.com

I saved the best for last. Souley Vegan has the best BBQ tofu you will ever eat. And their crispy tofu. And the mac ‘n cheese. And the biscuits and gravy. Basically everything is great. This mouthwatering restaurant review from Veggie 101 pretty much says it all!

 

I should note that I wasn’t able to hit all of my favorites like Ike’s Place or Zachary’s. There’s even a new vegan joint in Berkeley called Sanctuary Bistro.

 

9 Simple Tips for Writing Clearer & Cleaner

As an editor and writer, I understand the importance of having someone else edit your work. As an editor, I often see the same mistakes—writers trying to sound writerly and the wild misuse of punctuation. After editing countless articles and copy editing manuscripts, here are some common things I see writers do all the time.

1. Don’t use italics, bold, or underline to say your point.

Instead of using the right words, some times people heavily use italics in dialogue or prose. Don’t go crazy with CTRL + I, CTRL + B, CTRL + U—just use your words.

2. Exclamation points and quotation marks should be used sparingly.

Why does every sentence need to end in an exclamation point? Quotation marks are for dialogue and indicating a song or poem. You don’t have to use them for every single word in your manuscript.

3. Simple is better than fancy.

I’ve seen some sentences where every adjective is stuffed into one awkward phrase. Simpler is often better and cleaner.

4. Read your work out loud.

If your sentence doesn’t make sense when you say it out loud, it doesn’t make sense on paper.

5. Don’t use the same word over and over (and over and over) again.

I’m guilty of this! Just keep an eye out for it and vary your words. Make friends with a thesaurus.

6. Ellipses are meant for missing phrases.

Ellipsis indicate that portions of the dialogue or sentence are missing. That’s all. I once had a writer turn in articles with ellipses at the end of every sentence. I asked her not to include ellipses. She wrote back, “What is an ellipses?” I stopped assigning her articles.

7. Learn how to use a comma.

I’m a devotee of the serial Oxford comma because I think it clarifies sentences so much, but not everyone uses them. At least learn the basics of using this often misused punctuation mark.

See this example.

8. Don’t capitalize or use all caps for everything.

This isn’t AOL instant messenger. Don’t capitalize everything. It’s distracting and annoying. If you’re using it as a literary device, fine, but don’t go crazy capitalizing or using all caps.

9. Your, you’re, there, their, they’re, peek, peak, and pique are all different words.

Please just learn what the difference is between all of these words. I don’t want a sneak peak peek! This doesn’t peak pique my interest!

 

Please don’t commit word crimes. Thank you. For the best answers on all of your grammar questions, check out Grammar Girl.

 

7 Things My Pug Has Taught Me

My adopted blind pug Bessie is hilarious. Over the almost two years we’ve had her, I’ve taken a million pictures of her. What can I say? She’s too cute!

But most importantly, she’s taught me some great life lessons. Like—

1. You Can Sleep Anywhere

backpack sleeping sleeping on crate

I have no idea how sleeping on a backpack or a carrier is comfortable. But Bessie thinks everything is a bed until proven otherwise.

2. Always help others.

scrabble

Assist your dad with his super hard Scrabble game.

editing

Help your mom with her writing. Clearly, that paragraph was not working for Bessie. She’s a tough editor.

assisting

Pitch ideas for dad’s script rewrite.

3. Find Time to Hang Out with Friends

chill in packs

Bessie’s boyfriend, Sampson Dworkin, and Bessie chilling while their moms work.

4. Take Time for Vacations

chilling at beach

Bessie on vacation in Mendocino, CA.

5. Safeguard Your Belongings

holding antler

Bessie safeguarding her antler chew so her Labrador Retriever brother doesn’t steal it. (He didn’t.)

6. When It’s Not Sunny, Make Your Own Sun

heat lamp

Bessie loves to sleep in the sun. On the rare days when it’s not sunny in LA, she likes to sit in front of a space heater to stay warm.

7. Show Off Your Silly Side

belly rubs

Our pet sitter captured Bessie begging for a belly rub. Who could resist?

Aren’t pugs the best? Pugs and their silly personalities make me want to jump into a ball pit and go crazy.

OH, this guy beat me to it.

Click on the GIF for the original video.