Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015 It's Been Great!

Happy New Year!!
2015 has been amazing for me in so many ways.

Mostly because I have put everything on hold and spent thousands, literally around $16,000 on SCBWI events, conferences, workshops, the Highlights Foundation, plane tickets, hotel expenses, online writing classes with top people in the industry, all to make my goal of getting traditionally published in YA.

With that came working literally every single day on my novel-writing every single day without exception. That sounds easier than it is when you work full time, have a boyfriend, and a dog, and go to the gym, etc., but I did it!

This year and giving up so much time and money, was/is scary as hell, as I have basically only paid min payments to bills, and not saved a dime for taxes because every extra cent I have is going to my young adult writing.

When I decided to stop acting and go into animation, this is what I did. Yes I was offered a job by Disney at an audition from doodling on my call sheet-this is true, but I turned that down. I stomped out of the room, "I'm an actress!" ala Miss Piggy-style and forgot about it for two years. Then back in Los Angeles fearful I'd never make it in anything and a friend said, "didn't Disney offer you a job?" I drove over to Disney, and they turned me down flat, but told me how to get in. For almost two years I gave up everything to get in there. I took tons of drawing classes at the animation guild, and animation classes, and I didn't pay any bills. When you are in your twenties, this is way less scary than in your forties. It's like in your twenties people expect it, but in your forties, you get the "why don't you own property?" "You can't pay your taxes?" "get your shit together" and it's a bit harder to give up everything to reach a goal. That said, it's working.

I know it is. I am such a better writer than I have been in the past, not saying that I'm perfect in any way-just like any creative career we are always learning, but I'm so much stronger because I have sacrificed so much and I will continue to do this forever because it's who I am.

The plan is to pay off everything someday-hopefully sooner than later, and, of course, continue to grow as a writer.

Some of you know me and have known me for years since I was writing chick-lit under a pen name and pandering to the "trends" instead of following my heart, which has always been for teen novels. Some of you know me from TV and film writing-which I love both and haven't given that up, but now I'm just concentrating on my novels. I love writing novels, I always have. It's in my body and soul like being alive is.

I also spent a great deal of 2015 giving back by donating to a different charity every month, and also going to galas, events, dinners, etc. to help raise money for charities. I have donated time, writing and illustrations, and that felt great!

I don't believe in resolutions in any way-they just set us up to fail, but I do believe in goals, so I am going to share my 2016 goals, and or plans, and themes for the next year.

1) Continue to go to workshops, retreats and take online classes to become a stronger storyteller
2) Sign with a new agent (yes I'm finally sending out this year to only a few because I want the right agent this time)
3) Sell my first YA
4) Make my next YA stronger and better
5) Work on my personal business plans
6) Continue to give back, and maybe start something myself towards the end of the year
7) Keep drawing and working on my own art projects as well as get more work as the job I'm currently on is ending this summer.

These are general plans, ideas, hopes, dreams, etc.


On this page on my website, I have listed great resources for writing and drawing!resources/c1558

And I will say this. If you are writing for kids (any age) join SCBWI
For YA writing, I recommend (in addition to SCBWI events, workshops, conferences)


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Facts and Myths About Suicide

There are many resources out there in today's world. Here is just one article with facts and myths about suicide that I found in less than 5 minutes of searching...,,20507781,00.html 

I think it's important for people, especially in the days of social media to do some research before getting on the internet and stating things as facts when they are either completely wrong or just opinions. 

Suicide is one of the things that is so often stereotyped, and that is hurting people not helping them.

 For example, saying that all suicides are caused by clinical depression is wrong, it also makes people afraid to admit they have thought about it, or gone through a rough patch.

 The only fact about suicide is that when people do it they are doing it for one reason, and that is,  a way out, that's it. A way out of pain, a way out of a situation, a way out of a life they don't want.

 It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and while yes, some suicides are caused by mental illness, not all of them are.

If you are feeling suicidal PLEASE get help, if someone judges you, go to someone else. You are NOT alone, and people do understand and people will be there for you.

If you know someone who is struggling, instead of telling them that they are mentally ill, listen to them and then share links or numbers to someone who can help. If you are not a trained suicide specialist/therapist, know that you can't save them, you need help, they need help. Be careful of telling them that they are clinically "depressed" or "bi-polar" or anything like that. 

I recently had a discussion with someone on Facebook who was saying on her page as FACT that everyone who has even thought about it is mentally ill. That is a problem, because it's not true. She sent me private messages saying that she has the right to her opinion, and while that may be true, what if she just made a statement that lead someone to hurt themself because they were just told that they have a mental illness? They may, but they may not. It's dangerous to claim opinions as fact especially if you aren't trained. 

As well, if you have a mental illness, that does not mean that everyone else does. Yes, it's great if you want to share your experiences to help others, but also know that not everyone has the same thing. 

The only facts are that some people who commit/ or attempt suicide have a mental illness and some don't. 

Please think before you judge others, especially those in need. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

AT LAST: *Press Release* RFP to Construct Suicide Deterrent on the Golden Gate Bridge‏

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District requests proposals from qualified bidders to construct a suicide deterrent on the Golden Gate Bridge.  The details of the RFP may be found here:
“This is an important and vital step in building the suicide deterrent,” says Chief Engineer Ewa Bauer.  “We have been in the planning and design phase of the project for several years, with a lot of work happening behind the scenes.  Today signals a change to the construction phase.  We are all eager to put this deterrent in place and diminish future tragedy from suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge.”
The bid process will take several months to complete.  Interested bidders must sign a non-disclosure agreement, submit identification for background checks, and tour the property with District staff.  After the pre-bid, information gathering time passes, the District will begin accepting bids in January.  The District will vet vendors based on several factors, including past work experience, current staffing, compliance with DBE and other regulatory programs, cost.  Per state regulations, this construction project will be awarded to the qualified vendor with the lowest bid. The bid will be awarded in the spring of 2016, following approvals of the selected vendor by CalTrans, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Bridge District’s Board of Directors.
The suicide deterrent design is a long, stainless steel net along the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, on both sides.  The cantilevered net will be located about 20 feet down from the Bridge sidewalk, extending out 20 feet, with a slight upturn at the outside edge.  The net is not soft, but rather, will be made of very hard and durable metal.  Anyone jumping into the net is likely to experience the sort of significant injury expected from falling two stories onto a steel platform.  Since such nets have been installed in various locations over the past decade, they have been very successful in preventing suicide attempts. 
The steel net and its supports will be manufactured off-site.  The public will begin to see installation activity in late 2017.  The contractor will install the net first along the east side of the Golden Gate Bridge and then the west side. The project is expected to take three-and-a-half to four years.
The Golden Gate Bridge suicide deterrent project is expected to cost at least $76 million, with $22 million through federal Local Highway Bridge Program (HBP) funds programmed by CalTrans, $27 million in federal Surface Transportation Program funds (STP) programmed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), $7 million of California State Mental Service Health Act Funds (Proposition 63), and $20 million from Bridge District reserves.
Here are some renderings to show what the suicide deterrent will look like, from two vantage points.  Please cite Courtesy of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District in your use of these images.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Do you want a GREAT YA novel about a truly sad, messed up kid dealing with overwhelming grief? Read NOT AFTER EVERYTHING by Michelle Levy
*I chose the above photo because to me, it says everything about the main character in this story. I found it on the internet, but here is the actual cover.
This book is the BEST book with a boy lead that I have read in years. I can say that immediately it reminded me of S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS, and J.D. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. I was obsessed with both of these books as a middle school kid going through more than any kid should-and they are why I became a writer.
When I opened Michelle’s book I couldn’t stop reading it. Although since I was on a plane headed to a workshop for writers, I had to. I picked it back up on the return flight and finished it. The day I finished it, I started again from page one and read it a second time. I rarely reread a book the same day that I finish it, but I wanted to savor every single word because it’s so authentic, gritty, raw and tragic.
To say that I love this book is a gross understatement. I beyond loved it. The reason? TYLER-the main character is so REAL that it’s scary. If I didn’t know Michelle personally I would swear this was written by a man because she nails the voice of a teen boy. I even have read passages from it to my boyfriend who agrees wholeheartedly.
*I also write boy leads from the POV of the boy, so this gives me so much inspiration to know that I can do it. Michelle is my female-writer-boy-POV-guru! :)
This book reminds me of Andrew Smith’s work. Andrew is the author of many teen books with male leads such as GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, 100 SIDEWAYS MILES, STICK, and my favorite WINGER (and now the sequel STAND-OFF). When I first started reading Andrew’s books, I was taken in immediately by the voice. Michelle Levy does the same thing in NOT AFTER EVERYTHING.
I don’t like reviews that give away everything in a story or rewrite a synopsis so I will spare you that. But I will say that this is a tremendous look into grief, heartache, pain, addiction, social bullshit that comes in highschool and financial hardship. TYLER has lost his mother to suicide before we even meet him. His plans for college and his future have been undone by the actions of his mother. He is struggling to find his way back throughout the book. He discovers a lot about himself through his new friendship with Jordyn-a goth girl at school, who he used to be friends with before he became popular and she became weird.
At the beginning of the book, he isn’t playing football anymore, and things with his girlfriend are falling apart. The only time they are together she is using him just to be seen helping the sad, sad, boy. Told in the first person point of view, the reader gets an awesome insight into the mind of this kid going through hell. When they break up, he is even more alone and depressed. Then he reconnects with Jordyn and she is the only one who isn’t pussyfooting around him, feeling sorry for him, or treating him differently. While it takes them a bit to connect when they finally do, it’s amazing.
There is a part in the book where he hooks up with a random girl who he meets at his job. I especially like this passage because the way he feels when she leaves is HONEST. He feels even more alone than he did before she came over, which is very real, even for guys.
Now onto the big issue his mother’s death by taking her own life. Suicide is a particularly hard thing to deal with, especially for a teen. Whenever we lose anyone in life, it’s hard. When the person is a family member, it’s really hard. When the person is a family member, and they kill themselves, it’s devastating. How we react is everything about who we are. How Tyler reacts to his mother’s death is tragic, hard to watch and yet beautifully sad at the same time.
This book was compared with a couple other books that I just don’t understand. If I were to say anything about where this belongs on the shelves, besides the TEEN BEST SELLER list, it would be with Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and Jennifer Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES. Not just because they are books that involve suicide and death because they are books that deal with the way characters handle suicide and death.
Or I would say, and am saying this. If you like Andrew Smith’s WINGER, and you like Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, you’ll LOVE Michelle Levy’s new book NOT AFTER EVERYTHING.
If it were a few decades back, I would say the same but replace the above books with S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDES and J.D. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.
Buy this book, tell your friends about it, because it’s deserving of it, and you will love it. If you really want to get inside the head of someone going through some tough times, read this book.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Yup, You Know You're A Southern Californian When....(I am)

I have been fighting, and not sure why, the idea that I have become a true Californian, and more importantly, a Southern Californian. I guess stereotypes exist for a reason, and that doesn't mean that I, or anyone, walks around saying "dude" or "like" all day long-that said, many do, and sometimes I do say like, but I rarely say dude.

It means that I have lived here so long that things that seem normal to me in everyday life, really aren't in the rest of the country.

I do belong to two gyms, yes TWO, most of my friends belong to at least one, and then go to a specialized yoga, zumba, piloxing, cardio barre or something. I belong to two that covers all that. OMG I am such a stereotype!

Recently I was at a week long writing workshop in the middle of the country, and not in the middle of America, in the middle of the rural countryside of PA. It was awesome, but Oh. My. God, It was so quiet, that it freaked me out.

Growing up in New England for the most part, even though I like to call myself a New Yorker, most of my childhood was spent in Southern Vermont. It wasn't that quiet because we were in a town, even in snow you could walk to a store, or something and there were street lights. The countryside was close, but not where we were. In fact the street I grew up on there was much like every suburb here in Los Angeles, except with just a little more land between properties, but even that, it was really like the burbs here, just with a main street full of quaint shops etc.

So at this workshop-which was awesome-things that made me realize how much of a stereotype I have become started to become apparent.

The one thing that I don't yet have is that, I don't think it's cold at 70. Oh how I wish that I did because my life would be so much better. I still have all my back eastness there. 40-60 is awesome. 70-80 is hot, 80-90 is nasty, 90-100 is beyond nasty, and 100-120 is evil. I don't like to be hot. I also don't like to be in the sun, and I don't live at the beach. I guess that's two things, but honestly SoCal is divided into two groups, the ones who love the beach & surf, and those of us who still need mountains, hiking and being surrounding by trees, I am the second kind.
Runyon Canyon

The San Fernando Valley

And we walk everywhere. The myth that no one walks here is just that a myth. Everyone walks everywhere, if they can. Meaning not in certain areas with known gangs, etc.. but everywhere else, yes we walk.

FOOD!! Okay, years and years ago I went to visit my sister in New Orleans, pre Katrina, pre Andrew (or whatever that other big one was in 1998), and pre it becoming one of the trendy culinary cities that it is now. We went out to eat and the choices for salad were "houses" salad and "mixed" greens. Being from L.A. I ordered mixed greens. I was so excited! They brought me; iceberg lettuce, one tomato slice, on slice of cucumber and a carrot. I said, "Sorry I didn't order the house salad" only to be horrified that there a mixed greens salad was iceberg lettuce mixed with one tom, one cucumber and one carrot, and my sister saying, "sorry she's from California". SIGH. (It's much better now, and New Orleans has great local foods, that I basically filled up on when there-most of it blackened and most of it rice and beans).

So at this workshop, I was really in a state of shock at the food that they thought was healthy. Here's an example. Putting out romaine lettuce and oil & vinegar and calling it a healthy meal is strange to me. That was the salad-the only salad. I CRAVED veggies & beans. It was weird to me. They are awesome at this place and really try to make everyone happy. I realized quickly that it was where I live that was the problem. My issue, not there's. They were GREAT. I just want to make that clear. 

People were like, "what do you eat?", and I'd say, "I eat healthy" only to get perplexed expressions of complete and utter confusion back.

When I said that I ate a lot of rice and beans with veggies, people were really confused.

Here is what I eat normally: avocados, eggs (they did have eggs for breakfast and sometimes slices at lunch, so I ate a lot of eggs there), cucumbers, tomatoes, red-yellow-orange-green peppers, onions, (at least three or four different kinds) garlic, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, (like three different kinds) black beans, rice, plantains, cashews, broccoli (which they did have once or twice), french green beans, chick peas (as hummus and plain), corn, kale, spinach, arugula, romaine, etc.. all the salad mixes, fresh herbs, sometimes pasta, rice-especially with beans. Salmon, and tuna sometimes. Fruit smoothies, tons of green juices. Meat usually twice a week-sorry vegans, my body needs it. And, this is just off the top of my head. I follow the Blue Zone diet-it's a healthy way to eat. I am not extreme in either direction.

Oh and like once every two weeks, salad pizza. Which is a pizza base, no sauce, some kind of cheese with fruit, and then a salad on top-I know this is super California, but it's awesome.

I don't eat, processed cereals, chips, cookies, etc.. that they had out. I found myself starving. Out of desperation, I grabbed a trail mix at Walmart, (cuz a few of us needed things and that was 8 miles away) and ate Kashi cereal in the morning, with whole milk that I had to ask for. I guess back east people still think that low-fat milk is healthy, it's not, it's heavily processed.

Everyone else loved the food-well there were a few of us who by Thursday talked in our own little group about how starving we were, but since everyone else was happy with it, that was as far as it went.

The things they had that I did eat, and do eat in real life, just not every day, was cheese, and tuna. They made a great tuna salad with white beans one day at lunch that was amazing, it didn't have mayo or anything and I loved it, but it was only once.

I lost 8 lbs, and was sick every night on a non planned fast/cleanse, and was craving real food. I lost eight pounds in a week.

About midweek, I realized. HOLY SHIT I'M A CALIFORNIAN! I guess I thought that everyone eats this way. They don't. I honestly believe that here there are staple foods; red-yellow-green peppers, onions, black beans, red beans, rice, corn, cilantro, tomatoes, etc..and then all the greens, we eat a lot of greens here, and AVOCADOS! Yes I eat them every day, I do. Someone actually said, "you eat those every day??" Like I was from Mars. Yup, I do. I missed them.

It's okay, I'm embracing my new realization, and I will be more mentally prepared next time I leave my little world here. Unless I go to a city, I will plan to eat differently.

I am happy that I lost 8 lbs, it's nice to come home to my clothes being a little looser. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Social Media Blunders

Sometimes social media can be difficult, mostly because people do a lot of things that they wouldn't do in an office or social event.

For example:

Last week a long time FB friend deleted and blocked me, since I have known her for a while, I asked her why via email, and she said. "you posted about the confederate flag and.. yadda yadda."

I replied "Nope that wasn't me, I never posted about it on my page or replied to a comment on someone else's."

She said that it was on her friend's page-someone I don't even know. I replied back telling her that, and she said, "I don't have time to deal with this, I'm not even reading it." so.. now guess what?

 She deleted the wrong person. It doesn't bother me, but my suggestion for people who do this kind of thing, be sure you are paying attention to who you are deleting etc. This kind of behavior causes unneeded drama. Now I don't care, whatever, it's her life, but what if she did that to someone who is not as nice as I am?

Another thing to avoid is complaining on your page about your agent, editor, boss or peers. This happens all the time, it's a real problem.

Cyber bullying or stalking someone.

Etc.. so just remember DO UNTO OTHERS.