Journal 2010

December 23, 2010
Look What's Here!

The first paperback copy of Green, hot off the presses, with a celebratory bow from my editor:

Green by Laura Peyton Roberts, paperback edition

Be on the lookout for a contest coming very, very soon!

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


December 22, 2010
Spring Cleaning Starts Early

I wouldn't say I planned to wipe my primary hard drive in the middle of the busiest month of the year. In fact, I've been searching for a smarter way to fix my computer since June. But this week I realized that not only was being forced to restart Windows 7 every time I ejected a flash drive or any other type of USB storage device (which I do all the time) becoming an insupportable pain in the butt, the warranty on my computer was going to expire in a couple of weeks. Which meant that if restoring my hard drive to factory settings (thereby simultaneously erasing every other program, document, file, and tweak on it) didn't fix the USB problem, I was nearly out of time to take my machine back for free repairs.

When you work on a computer as much as I do, the sheer number of programs, documents, files, and tweaks accumulated can take literally days to restore. So, yeah, I seriously resisted wiping that drive. But the good news is, it worked! And since I had to do it anyway, I'm focusing on the added benefit—wiping a hard drive also cleans out a lot of unwanted and orphaned program files.

Good riddance to cyber rubbish!

So what am I doing now with my squeaky clean hard drive and newfound flash drive freedom? I am loving working with the free beta version of Scrivener for Windows. (And switching my project between desktop and laptop without all that Windows drama!) The corkboard function is awesome; it does everything I wanted plus more. You can import scans of handwritten notes, Xeroxes, photos, pdf files, and anything else you might want to use for reference, then pull them up later with a click—on a split screen with the document you're writing, if you like. There are all kinds of color-coding features, something I've had to use pencil shading or colored index cards for in the past. And you can work between your outline and your novel in split screen too, which is easier than looking back and forth to a copy stand. This program is not only going to be great for writing novels, it would be perfect for writing long nonfiction projects such as theses and term papers—just in case you know anybody who might ever have to write one. :-)

Meanwhile, I'm also excited about the fact that we've just passed through the shortest day of the year, which means we'll be seeing more daylight again soon. And is Christmas really only three days away? As a lover of Christmas carols who waited to do her shopping this year, I've been getting a kick out of this:

Wishing you all clean hard drives, long sunny days, and every joy the season can bring.
See you soon!

Laura


December 6, 2010
Tis the Season to Be Busy (Fa La La, Ho Ho Ho, Etc.)

December always gets ridiculously busy. You'd think "the holidays" would imply some actual goofing-off time—you know, like a holiday—but somehow it always feels like there's barely a moment to breathe between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. This year, though, I'm pretty excited about all the things I'm fitting in between turkey and the Rose Parade.

First off, e-book #6 of the Clearwater Crossing series just became available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com! I pushed to complete this one in record time because I wanted to have the first six e-books of the series all available this year. Mission accomplished!

Keep the Faith, a Clearwater Crossing e-book by Laura Peyton Roberts

If you've read the series, you know that a lot of plot threads get tied up in Keep the Faith (and if you've read the Cover Story, you know why), so I'm going to take advantage of this natural break in the series to work on other projects for a while. I do expect to return to Clearwater Crossing soon, though. Fourteen more e-books to go!

Now that Clearwater Crossing has been buttoned up for the year, what else is on my plate? I'm really excited to finally have the chance to explore Scrivener, a software program for writers that includes a corkboard function. I can't even remember how many physical variations of a corkboard I've rigged up over my career, so a couple of years ago, when I heard that Scrivener had a virtual one, I knew I had to have Scrivener immediately. There was only one (big) problem: we're fully PC here, and Scrivener was only available for Mac.

Imagine my joy, then, when I discovered that Scrivener was not only launching a PC version, but giving away the beta version as part of NaNoWriMo last month! I downloaded it immediately, but after twenty minutes of fiddling around reluctantly concluded that I was going to have to work through their tutorial—a new-software exercise I generally try to avoid at all costs. I finally had the chance to do that last week, though, and even their tutorial is good, a simple step-by-step explanation (as opposed to one of those cheesy and interminable learn-by-doing "projects"). My plans for the rest of December feature corkboarding my brain out (pretty literally, actually) on a new book that I'm writing.

What else? I make lots of tweaky changes to my Web site every December to prepare it for the coming year, plus I have a Journal entry or two yet to write. There's my Facebook page to keep updated. And the paperback edition of Green ought to hit my doorstep any day, heralding its January 11 arrival in stores. I'm so excited about Green's re-debut! When it gets here, should we have a drawing to give away the first signed paperback copy ever? I think we should!

And all that activity doesn't even take into account the extra cooking, visiting, and shopping that December always brings. Shopping is not my strong suit, so am I nervous about the fact that I haven't started yet? Yes. Yes, I am. But I'm going to spend the next couple of days painting a wall in my dining room anyway. After all, it's the holidays, right?

Happy Holidays!
See you soon,

Laura


November 21, 2010
Clearwater Crossing Contest

Huge news! Amazon just made it possible to give Kindle books as gifts. Rather than send someone a gift card, you can now send them an actual Kindle book. This also means that I can give Clearwater Crossing e-books as contest prizes, something I had no way of doing before.

So let's do that!

If you'd like to win two Clearwater Crossing e-books, send me an e-mail with “contest” in the subject line or add a comment to this post on my Facebook page. I'll draw two winners on November 30 and give those people their choice of any two Clearwater Crossing Kindle editions. For people who haven't read the series before, I'd recommend starting with the first two books, but that will be up to the winners!

Here's my address:

Thanks for playing!
See you soon,

Laura

Update—This contest has ended, but we'll have another one soon. Thanks for playing!


November 18, 2010
NaNoEdMo

Lots of people are currently hard at work writing novels for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but so far this November has felt more like NaNoEdMo for me, because I've been busy scanning, coding, and especially editing Clearwater Crossing #5, Just Friends.

As I mentioned in a previous post, digital versions of the finalized Clearwater Crossing books were not kept—which means that producing e-books now requires making HTML files pretty much from scratch. I finally concluded that optical character recognition is the best way to do this, but believe me, OCR is not a perfect process.

It would be nice if my OCR program made no mistakes in translating scanned book pages to text code. Unfortunately, it makes hundreds. That program recognizes characters about as well as a nearsighted person reads an eye chart, generating spell-check-proof spelling errors (e.g., aim instead of arm, cheek instead of check) and punctuation so breathtakingly wrong that trying to spot every altered word, random comma, absent period, and mangled quotation mark is a copyediting nightmare. In the end, it's all worth it, though, because Just Friends is now an e-book!

Just Friends, a Clearwater Crossing e-book by Laura Peyton Roberts

I'm planning to code Keep the Faith next, and then I'll be leaving Clearwater Crossing for a while to return to writing new projects. Ironically, December is likely to become my NaNoWriMo, just as the current NaNoWriMo participants find that they've entered NaNoEdMo—or the even more dreaded NaNoRevMo.


Affirmation for December: Revision is part of the process.

 

In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving. I love cooking turkey dinners, and I enjoy eating the leftovers nearly as much—which is good, since there are only two of us. Plus dogs. And you have to count the dogs, because I have absolutely no doubt that Thanksgiving is the canine national holiday. Pets who eat too many rich, fatty leftovers can end up with life-threatening pancreatitis, so I have to choose treats carefully and space them out, but between Ziplocks and the freezer, not a scrap of our turkey will go to waste.

Disposing of leftover pumpkin pie is never a problem here either, although the humans take care of that. I'm thinking of trying a new recipe this year, one with a graham-cracker crust from Bobby Flay. Has anyone made that recipe? Is it good? I like graham crackers way better than pie crust, so it's hard for me to imagine how a graham-cracker crust can be bad . . . but I suppose there are traditionalists who actually like pie crust. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

Update 11/26/10In my opinion, the graham-cracker crust makes a huge improvement on pumpkin pie. My husband, it turns out, is one of those pie-crust-loving traditionalists. Two pies next year?


October 29, 2010
Happy Halloween!

I had so many things to do this month that I actually made a list titled "Goals for October." Of course, Halloween serves notice that October has officially bitten the dust, and as much as I love this holiday, that's not good news for my list. I'm going to opt for the cup-half-full thing and say that I knocked out most of my important goals—plus I still have two more days!

One of the biggest things I'd promised to do this month was complete the e-book for Clearwater Crossing #4, Promises, Promises. I'm happy to report that I got that done!

Promises, Promises, a Clearwater Crossing e-book by Laura Peyton Roberts

In Promises, Promises, the main characters continue their quest to buy a bus for a local children's group, and this time they're putting on a Halloween haunted house fund-raiser. It would be nice if I could say that the Halloween timing of this e-book's release was planned, but that was a happy coincidence. lf you'd like to read an excerpt from Promises Promises, or any of the Clearwater Crossing e-books, click here for links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, where you can download free samples to read via computer, cell phone, or e-reader.

Something I didn't promise to do this month but will probably do anyway is make Great Pumpkin Cookies. This recipe from the pumpkin can has been around forever, and (amazingly, given my love of both pumpkin and Halloween) I've never tried it. So in honor of Halloween, not to mention the end of the pumpkin shortage, I hunted it down for us.

Libby's Great Pumpkin Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • Decorating icings, NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, candies, raisins and/or nuts (optional)
PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets.

COMBINE flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Drop ¼ cup dough onto prepared baking sheet; spread into 3-inch circle or oval. Repeat with remaining dough.

BAKE for 14 to 16 minutes or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Decorate with icings, morsels, candies, raisins and/or nuts.


 

A completely gratuitous bat picture. Why? Because (1) I like bats and (2) it's Halloween!

I hope you have fun plans for Halloween. I don't know yet what I'll be doing, but I'm going to try to enjoy myself—because come Monday morning, I'll be making a new list: "Goals for November."

Happy haunting!
See you soon,

Laura


October 10, 2010
Clearwater Crossing in Barnes & Noble (and Vice Versa)

When I started writing my Clearwater Crossing series, I made sure there wasn't a real town named Clearwater Crossing already in existence somewhere in the U.S. It's not particularly easy to think of a real-sounding place name that hasn't been used anywhere in the country; in the case of Clearwater Crossing, a name I made up myself, a search at the time revealed it was in use for a tiny little campground in Montana—three primitive overnight sites—and that was it. Clear name. Grab it! And I did.

Since publishing my series, I've become aware of a band named Clearwater Crossing (they seem to be gone now), a Clearwater Crossing RV park in Idaho (you'll find them on YouTube), and, fairly recently, a big new place called Clearwater Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana. As far as I can tell, this new Clearwater Crossing is a actually a shopping center, not a town, but it takes up a town's worth of real estate on the Internet. And you know what they have in Clearwater Crossing? A great big Barnes & Noble.

I'm excited to announce that the first three Clearwater Crossing e-books, Get a Life, Reality Check, and Heart & Soul, went on sale at barnesandnoble.com this week, joining the versions available through Amazon.com. Which means that this year, for the very first time, readers can actually buy Clearwater Crossing in Clearwater Crossing—assuming they do it online. Look for Clearwater Crossing e-book #4, Promises, Promises, coming soon, and read more details here.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


October 5, 2010
The True Harbinger of Fall

It's a myth that we don't have seasons in California—my driveway is currently buried under enough dead leaves to permanently disprove that. We not only need jackets in southern California, but occasionally even umbrellas. The days get shorter. Kids go back to school. But how do I know fall has truly arrived? Not by the leaves, or the sudden need for an umbrella, or even by the calendar. No, fall arrives for me the day I spot my first candy corn.

According to the Brach's bag (and Brach's is the only bag that matters), if the pieces of candy corn consumed by Americans each year were placed end to end, they would circle the Earth 4.25 times. I'm already eating my second bag, so I'm doing my part.

As much as I look forward to candy corn, though, this year we're getting a double treat because the pumpkin shortage is over too! Perhaps you weren't aware there was a national pumpkin shortage? My neighborhood grocery stores sure weren't—employees there looked at me like I was crazy every time I asked why they'd stopped stocking pumpkin. I could practically hear them thinking, Um, because it's Easter, genius. But you know what truly doesn't have seasons? Canned pumpkin.

I'll admit that pumpkin pie is mostly a holiday thing, but pie is far from pumpkin's only use. Pumpkin bread and muffins are good year round, not to mention that I feed pumpkin to my dogs sometimes. Yes, dogs. All kinds of animals love pumpkin, and it's good for them too (lots of fiber and vitamin A). I was thrilled to read about the end of the pumpkin shortage last week because it meant that 1) I'm not crazy, and 2) pumpkin is back on the shelves.

Or so they allege. My neighborhood store is still out of it.

If you like pumpkin bread too, here's an easy recipe to try. If you enjoy the way it comes out, you can even make a second batch. Or so they allege. Happy pumpkin hunting!

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


September 24, 2010
Okay, Now I Want One

I've been holding off on getting an e-reader, not because I don't see the benefit, but because I jumped on the e-book bandwagon so early that my first e-reader has already been obsolete for years. To the best of my recollection, the inventor of my device sold out to RCA, who sold to Gemstar, who went belly-up soon after, taking my "library" of e-books (and the only site where I could get new ones) with it.

   
My first e-reader: cutting edge in 2001 and still working—if I could get books for it.

Once burned, nine years shy. I wasn't about to get a second e-reader until a few things changed:

  • I want to keep my e-book library on my own computer, thank you very much.
  • I want to download free classics from Project Gutenberg and all those other free places.
  • I don't want to pay top dollar for an e-reader knowing that eventually I'll end up with yet another obsolete device on my handsplus I still have to buy the books.
  • I want to pay significantly less for e-books than I would for physical books.

This week I realized that, with the introduction of the new $139 Kindle, Amazon has finally met all my e-reader conditions. And yeah, I want one now.

Not only can Kindle owners back up their e-books on their own computers, the Kindle itself holds 3,500 books; I'm pretty sure I'll be on to the next technology before I need more storage than that. Free e-books can be downloaded from outside sources as well as Amazon. The $139 price tag is reasonable for something I'll probably only use for a few years. The price of e-books is coming down. And the Kindle battery lasts an entire month.

Okay, I want one pretty bad.

As much as I love physical books (the groaning shelves and stacked boxes around here attest to that), I believe e-books are the future. For one thing, not everyone has room for the number of books I've collected. (I don't even have room for them.) Traditional books are heavy and bulky to lug around. They collect dust and, if you're unlucky, mold. They are easily damaged by fire, flood, and the chocolate you thought you'd licked off your fingers. I truly hope ink-and-paper books will be around forever—I'm sure not parting with mine and will continue to collect them—but there are plenty of books I'd like to own without sweating the storage. In fact, it's hard to see a downside to buying more books for less money and carrying them all in my purse. However, the single biggest reason I believe e-books are here to stay is that digital technology means backlist books can remain "in print" forever.

The harsh reality is that printing, shipping, shelving, and warehousing paper books costs a lot of money. There's only so much real estate for printed copies to occupy while awaiting buyers, and tens of thousands of new books are published every year, competing for space with their contemporaries as well as all the books that have come before. The logistics of this situation make the end result as unavoidable as it is brutal: A lot of good books simply bite the dust. Up until now, OOP (out of print) has been the book equivalent of RIP.

But e-books are already changing that, and here's my favorite example:

The Clearwater Crossing series by Laura Peyton Roberts

My Clearwater Crossing series was carried in the major chain bookstores when it launched and was popular enough with readers to succeed through twenty books. Even so, by the time the last few titles were published, the early ones were absent from most store shelves. Series take up room, twenty-book series take up lots of room, and with shelf space in constant demand for new books, it wasn't long after publication of the series finale that Clearwater Crossing was allowed to run out of print. I was sad about it, readers were sad about it, but with relatively few exceptions, that's SOP in the print marketplace.

Which is why I was so thrilled earlier this year to re-launch Clearwater Crossing in e-book format. Not only will the digital editions be available into the foreseeable future, I was able to price them at half of current paperback prices. Of course I'd still love to see Clearwater Crossing back on bookstore shelves, but I'm genuinely excited about the second life the rise of e-readers is giving my series—and thousands of other OOP books we might otherwise never see again.

Which leads me back to my first point: I totally want the new Kindle.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


September 10, 2010
What I Did on My Summer Staycation

As you may have heard, California didn't see its usual sunshine this year. In fact, San Diego set record cold temperatures all summer long. Combine this with the uncertain economy, and a lot of us stayed home to persevere through May Gray, June Gloom, the newly named July Cry, and an August that should have been called Aw, Bust.

So what did I do with all this at-home, non-sunshiny time on my hands? I threw myself into solving some of life's BIG PROBLEMS, and now I'm going to share those solutions with you!

1) Quiet clinking dog tags: San Diego law requires dogs to wear a license tag. Common sense requires dogs to wear a tag with their owners' contact information. And what is the result? Two tags that make a lot of noise banging together and eventually wear each other's engraving off. One well-known product solves this problem by velcro-ing the tags into a fabric pouch, but I wanted the tags to be visible. My staycation solution? Rubber O-rings (ten for $2 at Home Depot):

That's right! The same little rubber ring you find inside faucets works beautifully to quiet dog tags. Simply hang an O-ring between tags to create a rubber spacer that reduces noise and prevents intertag abrasion. (Intertag abrasion—now you know I had time on my hands.) Does an O-ring make dog tags perfectly silent? No. Does it render them quiet enough and reasonably well protected while still allowing you to see that cute designer nametag you bought? It did for me.

2) Make lemon cake without lemons: I like lemon cake. Okay, I like all cake, but lemon cake is especially summery, which could start seeming important when summer isn't going to visit you any other way. What I do not like is going to the grocery store—which is why it occurred to me that frozen lemonade concentrate contained everything I needed to avoid an extra trip. Using lemonade this way turned out to be too perfect not to have been thought of before, and I subsequently found lots of lemonade cake recipes on the Internet. However, all the ones I saw also called for lemon pudding mix, lemon jello mix, and/or lemonade drink powder, none of which I had on hand (or particularly like). Here's the good news: I solved it!

Laura's Easy Lemonade Cake

Boxed yellow cake mix calling for 1-1/4 cups water
oil
eggs
12 ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed)

Set aside 1/4 cup lemonade concentrate for the frosting. Dump the remaining concentrate into a big measuring cup and add water up to the 1-1/4 cup line.

Mix the cake by adding oil and eggs as directed on the box and substituting the lemonade mixture for the water. Grease and flour pans well (or line with paper) because this cake is moist and dense, with a tendency to stick. The layers stay fairly flat too (as opposed to doming up), but don't worry; flat layers are better for frosting. Cook as directed on the box until a toothpick comes out clean.

Laura's Lemonade Frosting

1 stick butter
1/4 cup lemonade concentrate
a 1-pound box of confectioners sugar

With electric mixer, beat together butter and lemonade. Add sugar and beat until frosting is proper consistency. (If frosting is too dense, add a few drops of water.)

Considering how easy this cake is to make, I think it's pretty good. I'd give it a 7.5 out of 10. That frosting is a 9, though. I could eat it right off the spatula. (Fine, I did eat it off the spatula.) When life doesn't give you lemons, use lemonade.

3) Eliminate too-sour orange Starburst from your life—and your lip balm: Okay, this is more of a found solution, but orange is always the last Starburst flavor to be eaten around here. In fact, I buy various other weird Starburst assortments specifically to avoid that incongruously sour orange. But this summer, I hit the mother lode: Starburst FaveREDS. All red, all the time! And what could make this discovery even better? Mars teamed up with Bonne Bell to produce LipSmackers assortments in FaveREDS flavors. I go through a lot of lip balm and assortments always have at least one flavor I could pass on—if not something outright disgusting—so this multipack is a winner. Hurry and stock up before some genius adds orange.

 

So there you have it: three big problems solved! I hope you had a productive summer too—and saw a little more sunshine than I did.  :-)

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

PS—I also started a Facebook page. If you're in that neighborhood, stop by and say hello!


August 23, 2010
Summer Questions . . . and Contest!

Summer always inspires me to ponder life's big questions. For example, why does a 20-gallon trash can require a 30-gallon bag? Why can't the hair on my head grow as fast as the hair on my legs? Should I be eating raw cookie dough in the middle of an egg recall? Why even put DO NOT CONSUME RAW on the cookie dough package when that's the only reason anybody buys it? And since half the country IS eating raw dough, can't they just pasteurize it? How do they de-salmonella-ize the dough they put in ice cream? Do I spend too much time thinking about cookie dough?

The other thing that's always on my mind this time of year is heading back to school. I haven't attended school in quite a few years, so you'd think its start date would be off my radar, but no. The horror that is back-to-school stays with you for life. I've barely stopped having nightmares about forgetting my locker combination while finding out there's a final for a class I've been skipping all semester and can't remember the room for.

There are some good things about going back to school, though, like meeting up with friends you haven't seen all summer, checking out the crush you also haven't seen all summer and have been obsessing about constantly, and, of course, cafeteria food. (Kidding! Unless the food's good at your school, which I'm pretty sure breaks some law.) And let's not forget that before any of this happens, we still have two more weeks of summer to savor to the fullest. Got plans? If not, I'd like to suggest reading something fun in a comfy place beside your favorite body of water. And I'm here to help with that!

CONTEST: If you'd like to win a signed copy of one of my books, drop me an e-mail with "contest" in the subject line between now and September 5: . I'll draw two winners on Labor Day, notify them via return e-mail, and give those people their choice of one of my hardcovers or the first four paperbacks in my Clearwater Crossing series.

(Okay, so I've just realized the winners' books won't arrive before school starts, but outdoor reading weather stays good well into September, right? There's always weekends!)

Have a great end of summer!
See you soon,

Laura

Update—This contest has ended. Thanks to everyone who entered.


August 7, 2010
Clearwater Crossing #3; The e-Book Is Finished!

Clearwater Crossing #3, Heart & Soul, has been digitized and is now available as an e-book!

Heart & Soul, a Clearwater Crossing e-book by Laura Peyton Roberts

In related news, I now know more about Optical Character Recognition, HTML code, and creating mobi docs than I ever imagined I would.

One of the coolest things about being a writer is that I end up doing all kinds of other, unexpected things in addition to writing. These things are frequently a lot of fun (for example, making book trailers), but they can also turn challenging fast when I don't know how to do them. If you're thinking of pursuing a career in writing, I strongly recommend learning to love messing around with computers and figuring out new software by yourself.

I (mostly) enjoy these challenges, not least of all because I generally come away with the skills to conquer their tasks again anytime I need to. In the case of digitizing Heart & Soul, I'd like to think I've got the OCR situation (mostly) under control now, which is (semi-)sure to make my job easier when I move on to the e-book for Clearwater Crossing #4; Promises, Promises. I'd also be willing to bet that somewhere down the line I'll end up using OCR for some other project—something I haven't even dreamed up yet—and I'll be smiling when that day comes.

In the meantime, please check out Heart & Soul and my other Clearwater Crossing e-books on Amazon.com. Did you know that you can download Amazon's e-book reader software for free, so that even if you don't own a Kindle you can read "Kindle" e-books on computers and cell phones? Did you also know that you can download a pretty big chunk of any Kindle book to see if you like it before you buy? Most importantly, did you know that there are usually quite a few cool Kindle titles being offered completely free? Big publishers sometimes offer free e-books as a way of promoting upcoming releases by their authors, especially authors in the middle of series. I've picked up some extremely popular YA novels that way, not to mention a slow cooker cookbook. You should definitely click here and see if any of the free books appeal to you.

Happy reading!
See you soon,

Laura


July 15, 2010
Like Black Cherry Jell-O, Only Evil

There's an alien invasion in San Diego Bay this week. Our shores are being taken over by scary, amorphous creatures exactly the color of black cherry Jell-O. Guesses?

Yes, they're jellyfish, and they're ready for their close-up:

These are not delicate little creatures we're talking about. The one in the top photo is probably three feet long. The dome on the lower one is more like a platter than a dinner plate. And I counted 36 of these guys along a stretch of shoreline only about a mile long.

Do they sting? I'm guessing they do. Does it hurt? I'm making it my personal mission not to find out. Because you know what you have to do for a jellyfish sting, right?

Meanwhile, last night our local TV news reported a rash of stingray attacks on ocean-facing beaches (as opposed to beaches facing the bay). Attacks. While all those people soaking injured feet in buckets may not agree with me, I don't believe it's an "attack" when you have to step on a creature's back in order to get stung. If I were a stingray, I'd not only plead self-defense, I'd probably accuse my "victim" of breaking and entering, too.

So even though we have a jellyfish invasion, not to mention stingray "attacks," I don't want you to get the impression that San Diego is a dangerous place. We haven't had a big earthquake here for eight days, and the local couple who were attacked by killer bees this week are completely fine now too.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


June 28, 2010
Now It Can Be Revealed. . . .

Deep in the middle of summer, publishing is planning ahead to January. Actually, publishing is planning ahead two Januaries, but while January 2012 is still shrouded in mystery, January 2011 is already going public—so public, in fact, that the new paperback cover for Green has begun appearing on bookseller sites.

I loved the hardcover jacket, but Green's new paperback look might be even cooler. Ready?

Green by Laura Peyton Roberts, paperback edition

Look, it matches the book trailer!

One of my favorite things about publishing is the hardcover/paperback schedule. It's exciting enough to have a hardcover come out, and seeing it re-released in paperback is almost like a twofer. I'm always just as thrilled about the paperback as I was about the hardcover, and in a couple of ways I'm more thrilled. Why?

1.  Lower paperback prices make the book affordable to more people, and
2.  Paperbacks tend to get stocked in more stores than hardcovers do.

Both of these reasons lead to more readers, making paperbacks the classic win-win situation.

The paperback edition of Green won't be out until January 11, though, so there's plenty of time—and a whole lot of holidays—between now and then, starting with Fourth of July this weekend.

Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. It may actually be my second favorite, next to Halloween. After years of wondering why I like those two so much, I finally made the connection: the best parts of both holidays happen at night. Love Halloween candy, love fireworks, love not having to lift a finger before noon. . . .

The great thing about Fourth of July in California is that it tends to involve the beach. After a full day of boating, swimming, boogie boarding, sunning, paddling, picnicking, sand castle building, or whatever, there's nothing prettier than fireworks over the water. My husband and I usually putt around in our inflatable boat to see what everyone else is doing; if the weather is extremely warm, we might even get into the water. I hope you have something fun planned too—and if you spot us out on the bay be sure to wave!

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


June 3, 2010
Huge Clearwater Crossing News (and Book Trailer)!

I'm so excited! Can I get a drumroll, please?

Ta da!      

Clearwater Crossing e-books by Laura Peyton Roberts

The first two titles in my Clearwater Crossing series have just been released as e-books!

Please click on the banner to read all about it.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

 

Update 6/12/10In honor of the e-book launch, there's a new Clearwater Crossing book trailer!

 


May 6, 2010
Wild Horses

I've been out of town for a couple of weeks, brainstorming my next project and taking in the scenery around Santa Ynez, California. I'd been to Santa Ynez before, many years ago, but I'd forgotten what it looked like. The short description is, beautiful.

I caught the front edge of a three-day rainstorm driving up and my windshield got pounded through much of L.A., but here's how that same storm looked on my first evening in Santa Ynez. It's almost worth putting up with the rain when it ends in a sight like this!

Living in coastal southern California means that I am rarely surrounded by open space. All of the land in my usual haunts has been subdivided to the point that even the rich people rub elbows (and knees) with their neighbors. What a joy to be reminded that there are still large, undeveloped properties in my home state! I wish that land could stay open forever.

Of course, property values in California being what they are, undeveloped rarely means unused. Those brown and white specs in the photo above are grazing cattle. There are vineyards and ranches all over the place (including a "ranch" you may have heard of called Neverland). And there are horses. Lots and lots of horses. Which put me in mind of these lines from Tennyson:

Dosn't thou 'ear my 'erse's legs, as they canters awaäy?
Proputty, proputty, proputty—that's what I 'ears 'em saäy.

Some sort of large annual horse event/gathering was being held while I visited Santa Ynez. And there was this:

I wish I had a person in this photo for scale, because these are the miniature horses of Quicksilver Ranch. Check out this link to see adult horses next to humans. The fence the horses are standing in front of here is only about as high as my waist and its top isn't even showing!

In Green, leprechauns use dogs to pull their wagons, and Lily equates the size of leprechaun dogs to Labrador retrievers. These baby miniature horses are smaller than Labrador retrievers! I'm not exaggerating—this little filly is only a few days old and was about 21" tall at birth. I could lift and carry her, no problem. Meanwhile, there's a Lab in my extended family that weighs over 100 pounds.

Because it's spring, the ranch had lots of babies in its fields. And like babies everywhere, it turns out baby horses are cutest when they're sleeping:

No, really. Look at those little teeth!

It's enough to make a girl wish she had a property big enough to keep one on. Although, realistically, if I had that kind of land, I'd probably have a dog ranch instead. Baby horses are cute, but they can't hold a candle to puppies. Still, if I had enough property—say Neverland-scale property—I could have dogs, miniature horses, and some zebras too.

What? Did I forget to mention the zebras?

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


April 17, 2010
A Different Kind of Green

Thursday, April 22, is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

You can join the people pledging to help the planet at the Billion Acts of Green Web site. Or you can start your own movement and make an earth-saving pledge with yourself.

Plant a tree, ride your bike, or maybe just recycle something. It all adds up to green.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


April 6, 2010
April Foolish

Okay, so I missed posting on April Fools' Day this year. That's probably because the most serious prank I encountered all day was Google replacing its site name with Topeka. And that didn't even register on me as a prank until much later because let's face it: Google does what Google wants. I try not to pay attention.

I have not always been so fortunate in the April Fools' department. If you want to read about the worst prank ever played on me, here it is. I'm quite happy to have escaped drama-free this year.

It turns out we saved the drama for Easter. There was a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Baja on Sunday that was felt very clearly here in San Diego. Having lived in southern California all my life (and also studied geology), I tend to take earthquakes in stride, but I was actually starting to think about getting out of my chair for this one when the shaking finally stopped. The most surprising thing about this quake was how long it lasted, and the longer the earth keeps rolling, the more the buildings sway. My neighbor had water slosh out of his pool, and he wasn't the only one.

 

Given the large magnitude of this earthquake, there were very few injuries and relatively minor damage—and faults need to slip a little now and then, or else that pressure builds up until it releases as something stronger. Looking at it that way, a quake like Sunday's can actually be viewed as a good thing. That's not much comfort to people with injuries or damage, I know, but the outcome could have been much worse overall.

And finally, on the e-book front, we have this:

 

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


March 17, 2010
It's Saint Patrick's Day!

Wishing you all a happy St. Patrick's Day! And in case you're looking for a leprechaun book to help you get in the mood today, I just happen to have a suggestion. :-)

          

We also made the Daylight Saving Time change this week, which is a lot less fun than St. Patrick's Day. I've covered the evils of Daylight Saving Time in previous posts, so I won't go into it all again—but I will add two new reasons why America (or at least California) needs to ditch DST with all possible speed:

1. Turning the clock forward causes heart attacks. Seriously. Heart attacks! And you don't have to take my word for it; you can read about it here.

2. Many people believe that Daylight Saving Time has a negative effect on the stock market. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but since we've pretty much proven DST doesn't save energy, why take chances?

Human bodies aren't clocks; our government can't reset us an hour and expect us to tick along without glitches. I hereby promise to vote for the first person of any party to actually figure that out (assuming he or she is not, you know, crazy).

In the meantime, though, it's St. Patrick's Day:

Eat a green doughnut for me!

See you soon,

Laura


March 1, 2010
Ice Dancing: Not Nearly as Lame as It Used to Be

I love the Olympics, and I especially love the Winter Olympics because figure skating is my favorite sport. I don't skate anymore myself, and I was never very good at it, but I skated enough to appreciate how extremely hard it is, even when the best skaters make it look easy.

The undisputed pinnacle of figure skating is ladies' singles skating, which may be another reason I love this sport. Figure skating and gymnastics are the only sports I can think of where there is more interest in the women's competition than the men's. (And not just on my part; TV ratings back me up.) How people value the competitions after ladies' singles probably varies, but for me, the next best thing is men's singles. (Congratulations, Evan!) Pairs are a distant third. And ice dancing isn't even on the map. At least, it wasn't, until this year.

My opinions of ice dancing were formed, for better or worse (okay, for worse), in the 80s. That was the decade when what ice dancing lacked in jumps, spins, lifts, and throws (pretty much everything), it compensated for with ridiculous, over-the-top costumes and tortured facial expressions. It was all so very dramatic. And lame. I didn't think there was anything that could make me watch ice dance again.

And then I saw this (okay, a version of this, since NBC is still monopolizing the Olympics performance video and rudely requiring people to load Microsoft Silverlight in order to view it):

 

Ice dancing goes Bollywood? Wow, that's actually . . . cool.

U.S. ice dancers White and Davis went on to win the Olympic silver medal. The Canadian team who took gold was also interesting and classy and . . . cool. So what's up, ice dancing? You haven't left the bad costumes completely behind (I could name names there too), and while the so-fake-they-come-in-a-can facial expressions are also still favored by a few, I saw more interesting moves during this Olympics than ever before—not to mention routines that not only held my attention, but made me watch them twice. Next you'll be getting rid of those tired old compulsory dances (remember compulsory figures? Neither does anyone else) and joining the modern world.

The day that happens, I might have to change my headline to "Ice Dancing: Not Lame At All Anymore."

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


February 5, 2010
Enforced Productivity

The universe might be trying to tell me something, because last weekend I got my super-fast new computer up and running approximately 24 hours before my satellite TV crashed. And I do mean crashed. After a trip to the roof and three calls to my provider, it was determined that the solution was for them to mail me a new receiver/DVR, which would take three to five days to arrive. Three to five days. You know you're too dependent on TV when news like that seriously annoys you.

Now, granted, losing TV for three to five days is far less horrifying than losing the Internet for that amount of time would be. But I do think it should be noted that the Internet has never tanked on me in the middle of Demons, the BBCA show that makes me ask, "Hasn't Joss Whedon already done this?" and answer, "Yeah, but Philip Glenister is in it, so who cares?"

The good news is that my new DVR arrived Wednesday afternoon, it only took two more calls to my provider to get it running (mostly) right, and the episode I missed is re-airing this weekend. The other good news is that with all that TV-free time on my hands I read two good books and a great one, made a bunch of performance-enhancing tweaks to my new computer, and cleared up the piles in my office, some of which had bottoms dating back a few months. I'm feeling pretty good about all this—and like I should probably watch less TV even when it isn't broken.

Of course, offsetting my newfound productivity is the fact that my new, much faster computer plays YouTube videos without beginning to max out its muscle. And since I missed the Grammys I was forced to turn to YouTube when I discovered that Stevie Nicks had performed. Which led to the discovery that YouTube is full of Stevie Nicks videos . . .

It's always something, isn't it?

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


January 12, 2010
Launch Day!

Green came out today. Woo-hoo!

I have been asked in the past what authors do on launch day. In my case, the boring-but-true answer has been that I go about living my normal life like on any other day. It's not as if a limousine shows up with champagne corks popping. (Sadly.) There is no congratulatory proclamation from the President. Oprah doesn't call. I don't think I've ever even gone out to dinner.

So today I am changing all that! Well, not the limo, Presidential proclamation, or Oprah part. But I am totally going out to dinner. And while I'm out, I'm going to order a green drink. (And I'm really hoping there is a green drink other than a grasshopper, because . . . ew.) And finally, I'm going to do this dressed completely in green, because if a thing's worth doing, it's worth taking over the top, right?

Okay, so I'll let you know how the celebrating goes. (And whether I get sick from the green drink.) What I already know for sure is, this is one launch day I won't forget!

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

PS—If you want to watch the ALA Awards (including the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz), this year's live Webcast is on January 18 at 7:45 am EST. Or you can read the press release at 9:30.

Update—The Green Iguana:

Way better than a grasshopper.


January 1, 2010
Happy Green New Year!

If you watched the ball drop in Times Square last night, you may have noticed the 2010 sign was green. Granted, it looked white, but the new diode bulbs it was lit with supposedly saved 36 trees. While I'd be interested to see the math on that one, I still accept the general premise that green is good.

Obviously:

 

It seems green is cropping up everywhere lately. That's because green is the new black.

And not just around here. The green movement has caught fire nationwide in the area of reusable shopping bags, but did you know it's also important to keep green in mind when planning your Kentucky Derby hat? (You'll want to check that last link if only to find out how "she dazzled the backside yesterday" ends up in a sentence.) Green influences our food choices, travel plans, major and minor purchases, home energy usage, and just about everything else now. For example, in 2009, being green in San Diego meant letting yards go brown. We've had enough rain since the water restrictions went into effect, though, to hope green will be the new brown, too.

So what am I personally doing to make 2010 my greenest year ever?

Besides the obvious,

 

I'll be making the following green resolutions:

1) Actually use some of those reusable shopping bags people keep giving me;

2) Recycle even more vigorously; and

3) Eat more vegetables. (And, yes, I'm going for "green" humor here, but eating plants truly is better for the planet than eating meat. Not to mention better for the animals.)

 

Wishing you all a green year too!
Thanks for visiting,

Laura

Update—Just finished the traditional watching of the Rose Parade, on HGTV this year. Couldn't help noticing the Green Street sign behind every band and float. (Yeah, I'm a little obsessed.) 


 

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