Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell to the Old Year(s)

Today, the last day of 2011, I look back on the past and appreciate what was, in order to look forward to what will be in 2012.

That's me and Dad at Bellows when I was nine, the year I learned to bodysurf.

How lucky I am to have gone to such a place even once. But I spent that whole summer there, and I go back every year.

2011 was a real rollercoaster. I got an amazing agent, who then sold my book in a two-book deal to an editor I love. After years of effort, I finally achieved something I've always wanted.

But there were big losses and stresses too.  I'm not going to dwell on them, but let's just say 2011 was a real rollercoaster.

How grateful I am to be on the ride in the first place.

I hope you can reflect back on 2011 with gratitude and compassion for yourself an others.  And here's to a new year full of new adventures, old friends, discoveries, and laughs.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top TV Picks 2011

So many delicious, complex, well written goodies inhabited this so-called vast wasteland. Now that wasteland has a lot of fecund, jungly pockets.

The weirdest, funniest, truest half hour of art/comedy you'll ever watch.

Game of Thrones
Based on one of my all-time favorite book series, this ambitious show takes its time to set up place, characters, and plot. Then it pulls your guts out. I knew it was coming, and still it wrecked me. Sometimes its even better than the books.

Complex southern characters plus Elmore Leonard's humor and humanity. Some amazing performances last season lifted this series to one of the best out there, ever. Deserving of way more Emmy nominations than it got.

The Borgias
Historical soap opera at its sexiest, bloodiest, and most gorgeous. I'm usually a stickler for history, but this show made me put down the textbook and revel in Jeremy Irons as a conniving sinner Pope.

Friday Night Lights
One of the all time great series ever on television reached its perfect conclusion this year. I have friends who still haven't watched the final episode. They keep it on their dvr like a hidden stash of gold, pretending the show isn't really over.  Only the best of the best could ever inspire devotion like that.

Parks and Recreation
This hilarious series also has one of the sweetest love stories on TV.

The show that made me keep my Showtime subscription, featuring amazing performances by Claire Danes and Damien Lewis in a twisty 'Manchurian Candidate" type plot that features real people instead of thriller stereotypes.

The Good Wife
Even with a few missteps this season (Eli Gold overdose, not nearly enough of Will and Alicia's trysts, annoying teen daughter Grace) The Good Wife has the most compelling ensemble of characters on network television. Kalinda Sharma alone could catapult this show into my top picks.

Hey look, teens who have sex, do drugs, make mistakes, and are hilarious. MTV makes the case for  its continued existence with this series.

Sure the storylines involve multiple worlds, but this show is really all about the relationships. Mix up mind boggling sci fi and thwarted true love and you'll get me every time.

The Vampire Diaries
Insane in the best possible way, the incredible pace of this show's relentless story plus its shamelessly hot batch of actors makes it the juiciest guilty pleasure out there. Doesn't hurt that Ian Somerhalder's the hottest vampire since Spike. Sorry, Sookie.

Coverage of The Breeder's Cup 2011
I was glued first to TVG, then to ESPN and ABC watching this series of races featuring the best horses in the world. Mighty European miler Goldikova made her last, valiant stand to no avail, and favorites Uncle Mo and Havre de Grace fell behind a last minute charge by Drosselmeyer, ridden by Mike Smith, who tried to make that same charge last year on (my favorite and one of the all-time greats) the amazing mare Zenyatta, and failed by a nose.

Also excellent: Doctor Who, Whitechapel, Boardwalk Empire (especially the last few eps of this season), Once Upon a Time, The Daily Show, Masterpiece Mystery.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Good Old Days

My Dad just sent me this awesome photo of himself (center, brown trunks) and our family friends Lee (left) and Joe (right) on Bellows Beach the summer I turned nine.

What a flood of memories this brings back.

I can feel the warm breeze coming off the water and hear the soothing crash of the waves. We had a flood of wonderful visitors that summer, and we spent nearly every weekend with them at Bellows. I'd race into the water (careful where the bottom dips down!) and dive under the oncoming waves, tasting salt, my long, frizzy hair turning into a smooth flow behind me.

I grew up swimming. At age three I was diving 15 feet down in our school pool to fetch rocks off the bottom. But Bellows was different. The waves were friendly, sure, but unpredictable. You had to stay on your toes, keep an eye on the horizon, and be careful after you caught a wave because another one might be looming right behind you.

Every wave was a possible adventure. I learned to assess the steepness of its face, its speed, its glossy texture. If it all looked good, I'd run/wade through the waist-high water, resisting the tug of the wave's tow, to what seemed the right place, turn around, push off, and one-two crawl strokes  - and you're off! If you've done it exactly right at the exact right time, the wave will pick you up like a swell of hot air picking up a balloon, and send you zooming toward the shore, water churning around your shoulders, body laid out like a surfboard.

My favorite sound in the world remains the hiss of the wave-foam buzzing around your ears at the end of a ride. My favorite place in the world remains Bellows Beach.

It was the summer this photo was taken that gave me all that. I look at my Dad in this photo and I weirdly see myself there. Sure, we've got the same nose, the same shoulders, but it's more than that. I don't think I took this photo, but I was in there somewhere. And I can still conjure the heavy heat of the sunshine and the powdery sand between my toes. I'm there now, and later too. And it's here with me.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Don't Buy Me These Things for Christmas...

...but I do love them.

Herewith a random list of things I've spotted during the holiday season that I might, in another life, want for myself. BUT DON'T BUY THEM FOR ME.  I mean it. Many of them are way too expensive. Others I just don't have room or time for.

But they are pretty cool....

For example. The only way you should ever have an animal head on your wall:

Savannah Story Bust from anthropologie. Also available in rhino, gazelle, giraffe, and elephant.

My cat doesn't particularly like to be up high. She's weird like that, but if she did, I'd get her:

The Cat Clouds Cat Shelf from

Not to mention the world's most attractive cat tree:

The Lotus Cat Tower. From the same store.

Again, I don't have room for this, but if I did I'd be sorely tempted. It's a gorgeous poster of a painting of one of the all time great race horses, whom you all probably know I've seen race in person:

Available in Zenyatta's own online shop.  Those Zenyatta Way Street Signs are also tempting. But I have enough Zenyatta stuff up already.

My next selection is so ridiculous that it's almost awesome. A slanket covered with... skulls!

It's a reversed blanket that will keep you cozy while you sit like a lump, but hey, it's got skulls on it, so it's BAD ASS, right? Wear this and you are one BAD ASS couch potato, bay-bee! Available at here.

I will never be able to justify buying this, given the expense. But oooh, yum:

 Laphroaig's 21-year-old single malt scotch.  Finally, a whisky old enough to drink.

You should never buy a pet as a surprise gift for anyone. And you should always adopt your pet from a shelter or rescue organization.  That said, since this is a fantasy post about gifts NOT to get me...

I ran into a gorgeous, sweetheart of a Newfoundland at the pet store the other day, and she won my heart. I've always loved bigger dogs, and this one was all huge webbed paws and "rub my belly please."  Newfies are smart, family friendly, and protective without being scary.  I'd never get a pet from a breeder since there are so many rescues out there.  But I do love me a big sweet dog.  German Shephards and other shephard breeds are also very high on my favorite list. But I haven't met a dog I didn't like.

Not sure how often I'd wear this, but it sure is lovely.

The Egyptian Lotus Necklace from the Met Museum Store. They have plenty of less expensive and still quite lovely things there, if you know someone who's a history/archaeology buff like me.

I'm not the type to ever own a bar or restaurant. But over the weekend I attended an event here:

The Wellsbourne on Pico in West Los Angeles. All old dark wood, shelves with books, shiny bar, and big comfy booths. I had a Pimm's Cup there (the cocktails are all old fashioned) which was delicious, and the tab came to me inside a hollowed out book. So if I ever were to own a bar, it'd be a place like this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Easy Way to Help Save the Tiger

The main character in my book, Otherkin, is a teen girl who discovers she can shapeshift... into a tiger.


'Cause tigers are so damned cool.

(Plus it helped me address themes of environmentalism, body image... oh who cares? The main thing is that tigers are the awesomest animal ever!)

But in the wild, tigers are critically endangered, along with many other big cats. Which is why you see a link to a conservation organization called Panthera on this blog. They are doing a lot to help save big cats in the wild.

And now there's a petition from UK organization Tiger Time, asking the Chinese government to stop legal tiger farming in that country.  It's a critical step in helping wild tigers for many reasons - like the farms are used as a smokescreen for selling wild tiger skins and parts.

You can find out more and sign the petition in a super fast, easy interface here.

It could really make a difference.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


This day before Thanksgiving I find myself very thankful for:

Fingers to type Book 2 (and another secret project) with
A steady job to pay the bills and stimulate my mind
My agent
My editor
That my book will go on sale next year (!)
Parents who love to read, and love me too
Friends who make me laugh and grow
Fellow writers who give me great notes and ideas and support
Bags of trail mix to keep me going between meals
Roasted brussell sprouts (yes, really)
The color forest green
A world that still has wild tigers in it
Writers like EB White, Charles Dickens, CS Lewis, and Jane Austen to inspire

Words, words, words

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Cutest Darned Birds of Prey aka...


My book Otherkin features a bird of prey, but it never occurred to me to have someone stroke his head and send him into a state of utter bliss. Hmm. I am writing book 2 right now...

The Week in Review

This week was a roller coaster.

1. My kitchen got rained on by busted pipes from my upstairs neighbor, who was out of town. My slumlord landlady could not be reached (the number she gave was a fax machine) and every building manager and repairman I'd ever been in touch with over the years had quit working for her. It took me three days of dogged detective work, pleading, and threatening to get her to agree to fix the pipes, get a repairman, and arrange for the upstairs neighbor (a great guy) to get his keys to the repairman.

It took the repairman (Gregory, also a nice guy) ten minutes to fix the problem.

Now I'm just grateful that my kitchen is dry. Simple pleasures.

2. I didn't sleep for two nights straight because of the very loud leaking pipes, my hatred for having something go wrong in my nest (er, apartment), and my lack of control over getting anything fixed because all power lay in the hands of my evil landlady. Other things I can't discuss were going on too. So I walked around like Queen Zombie until the leak was fixed and sleep konked me on the head.

3. I didn't get nearly enough writing done (see above), but I did come up with some great stuff in my head that I can't wait to get down on paper. Hello, weekend!

4. The cd player in my car broke, and I haven't had time to get a new one. So I've been listening to these things once known as "cassette tapes." Via these old compilations I rediscovered my love for "old" songs like 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins, Big Bang Baby by Stone Temple Pilots, and She Will Have Her Way by Neil Finn.

But I'm itching to play some stuff I just downloaded (The Decemberists latest, for starters) and can't listen in the car!  So a new stereo beckons. This one will have the capability to play mp3 files too. Though I still prefer the less compressed full sound you get from cds.

5. My friends kept me sane this week. Keep your friends close.

6. I've seen the cover for my novel. Can't share yet. But let's just say... tiger.

There is no cooler word.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"He's the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of." - Mae West in She Done Him Wrong.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Be Like the Bird

"Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings." -- Victor Hugo

Monday, November 07, 2011

Save the Snow Leopard!

If you go to SnowLeopard.Org and vote, you could help save not only snow leopards, but help people in nearby communities, and the ecosystems that support this top predator.

Check out the video below if you're wondering how that works, plus revel in some amazing footage of these elusive, magnficent creatures:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

Last night, the Saturday before Halloween, I went to a concert at the El Rey Theater here in LA to see Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley perform.

The crowd alone would have made it worth the $25. I saw everything from a Victorian chorus girl to a lady sperm, with an emphasis on lots of black, fedoras, and tulle skirts, on both sexes.

Then Jason Webley came out and made playing an accordian sexy. Later, to the strains of Thriller he climbed into and out of a giant red balloon.

I'm getting too old to stand in a dark room with strangers for over three hours, but then Amanda came on and showed us what passion is with gut wrenching renditions of songs like Astronaut and Ampersand. And I was very glad to be there.

Particularly moving to me was a new song she said was about one of her major influences, writer Judy Blume. When she puts it on the web I'll post a link because it really shows why writing for kids is so important. It reminded me of how I felt when I first read Deanie, and why I write what I write.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Top Five Hawaiian Recordings

You'd never know it by looking at me, but I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii.  It was truly a wonderful place to grow up, and part of the fun there was Hawaii's unique melting pot culture.

So, to introduce you to some of the Hawaii I grew up in, below are my top five Hawaiian recordings . I say "recordings" instead of songs, because one is a comedy routine by the brilliant Rap Reiplinger. I'm curious as to whether the local humor translates to those who don't know the islands very well. But let me tell you, when we were kids, he was our comedy idol, and to kama'ainas (locals) he's both legendary and hilarious.

1. "Ulili E" - Gabby Pahinui
 There's no video of the late great Gabby Pahinui currently available doing this classic Hawaiian song. But just listen to what the man can do with a ukelele. It's in Hawaiian, but all you need to know is that it's about a bird, named in the title. Gabby's fingers on the strings and his voice do all the translating you need.

2. "Ku'u Home O Kahalu'u - Olomana
This is probably my favorite local song of all time. When I listen to it, I see the windward side of Oahu (where the town of Kahalu'u is), and I remember all the times I spent with my friends on the beach in Kailua, hiking Mount Olomana, driving the Old Dump Road at high speeds way past somebody's curfew, grabbing a shave ice, or bodysurfing at my favorite place on Earth - Bellows Beach. But this song perfectly captures the bittersweetness of memory, even if you've never been to Hawaii.

3. "Honolulu City Lights" - Keolo & Kapono Beamer

A prom theme many years running, a song we sung in choir, sappy and strong and sweet. I love Honolulu.

4. "Far Too Wide For Me" - The Peter Moon Band
I would listen to this when I was horribly homesick for the islands, far across one sea or another.  The "Cane Fire" album by The Peter Moon Band is one of my all time favorites.

5. "Room Service" - Rap Reiplinger

Just a classic. If you understand this, you understand the islands.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Official Author Photo

Is that really me?

Thanks to Joe Camareno for taking the photo, and to wonderful make up artist Ramona Doerning for her steady hand and with the blush.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How I Survived my Author Photo Shoot

Thank goodness for good friends with good connections.  That's how I found a terrific photographer to take the headshot I'll be using as THE photo on my books and all that kind of jazz.

I'm not an actor or performer, so I'm not the most comfortable person in front of the camera. The photo you see currently on my blog is one I took myself, in my own bathroom mirror.  I find that a much more comfortable way to get my photo taken than to pose for other people.

Okay, I can be a bit of a goofy ham when I feel comfortable. Which is why it was great having Joe shoot my photos, since he was so easy to chat with and told me to "flutter my eyelashes" at the beginning of the shoot.

Still, it took me awhile to warm up.  Later, as I went through the (over a thousand!) photos, I noticed how sort of squinty and skeptical I looked in the early shots.  Sort of a "Is this really necessary?" attitude.  Which isn't fair, since I set the whole thing up and yes, it is necessary, thank you very much Nina, you squinty skeptic.

It was kind of surreal, going through all those close ups of myself.  I re-noticed my grayish front gums (thanks to a bike accident I had when I was ten that knocked my front teeth out and lead to all sorts of traumatic dental fun over the years), and how I seem to like the left side of my face better than my right given how I angle it toward the camera pretty consistently. 

And ah, the schnozz.  It's a gift from my Berry forebears. My beloved Aunt Janet had this nose, until she got a nose job in her twenties.  No nose job for me, thanks.  I love my big schnozz, my freckles, my squinty green eyes, my weird gums, and tendency to smirk. It's easy to love beauty and symmetry. More a point of pride to love your own faults.  It's a struggle, one that will go on my whole life, I suppose, but I'm determined to keep at it. Beats hating yourself!

The main thing, as a redhead, is to wear green. I'm not kidding. For someone with my coloring, it's like a magic trick to make your hair look good, you eyes glow, and your skin say 'Thank you!"

One thing you can be sure of, this photo will NOT be my author headshot. Though I love it for obvious reasons:

I'll post the official photo when it's ready. Meanwhile, am treasuring the ugly/goofy/crazy face photos too.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Book's on Amazon!

I'm on vacation, typing away here in on my bed in my motel room, with travel buddy Wendy on the other bed doing the same, and she just casually says - Otherkin's on Amazon.


So yeah, it is.  Here.

No cover. No info. But HOLY DINNER PLATES! 

There's, like, a release date and everything.  I had no idea.  July 31, 2012.  Sounds good to me.

Who are we kidding?  Sound great to me!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Maine, the first day

View from our window, Maine. That's our deck, with chairs, and the dunes and Atlantic beyond.

Then once I get to the beach, I'm out there with no one but a lone surfer and a friendly gull for company. I find a huge empty blue gray shell, and then sit on a bench to breathe in the ocean and sky.

Back at our motel, Wendy and the Teddy on my bed enjoy their books.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

King's Chapel and Burying Ground

Boston. One thousand bodies. Only 505 headstones.

I'm weird. I love cemeteries.


You've got to love a town where the last stop is Wonderland. Yay for Boston.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What's on My Wall

I found this at a Polish photography studio called Stereolit and had to have it and two others.The photographer, Piotr Vasco Wasilkowski, titled it "Bloody Skeletons and Wolves Howling."  I framed the photos, then grouped all three in a vertical line down the wall. To me they tell a different story every time I look at them. Sometimes this photo is the beginning of the story, sometimes the middle, and sometimes... the end.

If you're in the mood, visit Kasia and Piotr on Stereolit's website. They made it very easy for me to buy the photos online, and they arrived very quickly, in perfect shape.  I just love them.

What's on your wall? And why?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Happy Birthday, John Lennon

Dreaming of a world where John Lennon still lives. Dreaming of a better life. Dreaming of his dream.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cover Copy

My latest learning experience as a soon-to-be published author has been in writing/editing cover copy for one's own book.  The lesson is this:

It's really fricking hard.

My fabulous (truly, she is wonderful, so colloborative, insightful, nice...) editor sent me her company's first stab at the copy for the front and back cover of my book, and invited me to give her my thoughts.  Now, I work in Hollywood by day, where writers get no say in the taglines for their TV shows.  Vast publicity and marketing departments determine how a film or show will be presented to the public, and as a writer you just sit there and are grateful you got paid to write the script.  So this was rather revolutionary to my way of thinking. Asking the writer's opinion?  On anything?  As a writer I have to say - Huzzah!

I liked a lot about the copy they sent me but because I'm so close to the material, I, of course, had opinions. Hey, I'm an opinionated person about most things. But about my book?? Puh-lease. I try NOT to think of it as my baby, but you get the idea...

I wrote them down. I tried to be more clever than the copy they sent. I read the back covers of tons of other books.

Okay, maybe not non-fiction books like this, but you see what I mean. I rifled through my library, focusing on YA books. Hard backs didn't help me much, since they often don't have any copy on the back. Also, everything on my Kindle was pretty useless for these purposes.  (Poor Kindle users don't get to see the pretty pretty covers or read the blurbs we writers work so hard to get!)  But fortunately for these purposes, I'm a total book hoarder.

But really, that wasn't very useful because there were infinite ways to approach writing back cover copy. Do you tell a bit of the story, naming the main characters, and being very explicit about the main conflict?  Here's the text of the back cover of the UK copy of GAME OF THRONES:

In the game of thrones, you win or you die.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must. . . and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split, and there is treachery at court. Worse, a vengeance mad boy has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities beyond the sea. Heir of the mad Dragon King deposed by Robert, he claims the Iron Throne.

Or do you show the conflict, but emphasize mostly emotion? Here's the back of Stephanie Meyer's YA blockbuster, TWILIGHT, with what I think is a masterful pitch on the back cover.

Or do you tantalize and tease, hoping to ensnare folks with just enough of a mystery that they want to find out more? Check out the back cover copy for Karsten Knight's new YA book, WILDFIRE:

I am the fieriest depths of hell

I am the surface of the sun.

I am the belly of a volcano.
I am the unstoppable force that
has formed new islands, and the
same unstoppable force that has
brought cities to their knees.

I am the volcano goddess who has
survived a thousand years.

I am Ashline Wilde, and I may
not survive another thousand
years, but I'll go down in flames
before I go up in smoke.

Intrigued?  That's what they're hoping.

I pretty much tore my hair out over the weekend trying variations of all three approches.  I reread most of my book, hoping to pick out useful quotes.  I consulted my critique partner, doubted everything I'd ever written, then kept going back to the thesaurus to make sure there wasn't a better word in there for "power" or "lurk" or "prowl." I ended up going for the more mysterious sort of copy.  My editor approved, but cleaned it up and made it much better, much less awkward. Now we think we've basically got it.  

Is it perfect? No.

Will you get to see it here right now?  Nope. Sorry. Not yet.  (Told you we went for the more mysterious/tantalizing type of copy.)

Will I think of a dozen other ways it could have gone?  Yep.

But I really do need to get to wrapping up my outline for book 2 so I can write the darned thing.  Can't dwell on stuff too long, or you go crazy and never get anything done.

But hat's off to the publicity and marketing folks who come up with this stuff. 'Cause it ain't easy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

'Ware the Apocalypsies!

Thanks to the brilliant Gretchen McNeil (have you read her book POSSESS yet? You must!) I've just joined a group of YA authors called The Apocalypsies, all whom have debuts just before and during 2012, the year to end all years...

Yet another example of how stunningly supportive and nice the YA writing community is. Seriously, the writers I've met (and editors, and agents) have all been nothing but kind and nice and all those words that sound so boring but are actually really great.

The writers are all really funny and talented too, but you already knew that.

My info's not up on the site yet, since this JUST happened. But I'm psyched!  I'll get to meet fellow writers as well as support them.  It's not very apocalyptic, but this is how I feel right now:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

National Feral Cat Day Coming Up!

Did you know that if you catch and kill all the feral cats in an area, that area just fills up again with cats?

But if you trap, neuter, and return those animals to that area, the population stabilizes, no new kittens are born, the lives of the returned, neutered cats are improved, and behaviors like yowling, mating, and fighting stop.

Yep, cats have been in the wild, living near humans for over 10,000 years.  They deserve to be respected as much as any other animal. Killing them doesn't work. Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR does. It's been well documented.  Don't believe me?  Check out Alley Cat Allies and learn.

This October 16 is National Feral Cat Day, promoting compassion for cats.

Oh, and cats aren't responsible for the lower numbers of songbirds and other resident species.  Human beings are. We need to use these big brains of ours to make the world safe for birds, cats, and people.  Together we can do it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vonnegut on Stories

A funny bit of writing advice from one of my favorite writers.

I'm outlining book 2 right now. This made me think perhaps I'm overthinking things a bit...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Giant Rubber Bunny Suits or What Not to Put in Your Biography

So I have to write my bio today, that thing that describes me on the back of my book.  Somehow, as soon as I heard that, my mind went completely blank, as if I knew nothing about myself.

Serious or silly?  Short, for sure. But just how boastful or loony should I be?  What, if anything, in my life, is really relevant?  What would folks actually care about?

This is a good problem to have, don't get me wrong. It's thrilling to think that info about me will appear on a book by me.  It's mind-boggling, in fact. But I find it hard to describe myself.  Tall, red hair, prone to using a long word when a short one will do...

A friend on Facebook suggested I do a bio from the POV of a tiger.  Very cool idea!  However, after writing something like: "Nina Berry smells like cantaloupe and single malt scotch," I thought better of it.

Another friend offered to write it for me. But I've known her since sixth grade, and she knows waaaaay too much about me.  I mean, we used to sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" after French in the most hideous high pitched tones and imagine certain teachers who shall remain nameless dressed in giant rubber bunny suits, for crying out loud.

Sigh.  Off to try to find a balance between giant rubber bunny suits and "I went to college in Chicago."  Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yes, it's September 11, ten years after, and I'm not going to turn on the TV.  I didn't watch much TV ten years ago either.  I went to work and worried.  I'm worried still.  I'm not even going to stay on the internet much longer. I need to write and move on and be present, not past.

It's a beautiful day here in Los Angeles. The gold sunlight is filtering through the vines that creep over my living room window. And because I'm in a bit of a mood I can't help remembering how Natalie loved those vines, and how Max used to bask in the puddles of sunshine. They're both gone now. And I'm here appreciating it for them.  Not much else we can do for those who have died and left their mark on us.

Back to work.

Friday, September 02, 2011

My Book's on Goodreads!

The news came to my Inbox thanks to a Google Alert, looking like this:

Web1 new result for "Nina Berry"
Nina Berry (Author of Otherkin)
Nina Berry is the author of Otherkin (0.0 avg rating, 0 ratings, 0 reviews, published 2012)
You can imagine how quickly I clicked on that link.  I have no idea how this happens, but my book just appeared on the Goodreads site, and people have already signed on as "to be read."

*Nina's Head Explodes*

God, I love the internet.

I have no idea if I should be doing anything to fill out the author info or anything.  I shall do my research.  Until then:  WOO HOO!

Nina Berry
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing


0.0 of 5 stars 0.00  ·  rating details  ·  0 ratings  ·  0 reviews
Nina Berry's OTHERKIN, in which a girl discovers she can shift into a tiger and is introduced into a world where people and objects aren't what they seem.
Expected publication: August 2012 by K Teen

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Evocatively Moldering

After reading about writer Ransom Riggs's blog Strange Geographies, with its fascinating photos of forgotten places, I googled "detroit photo abandoned" to find again a photo essay I'd seen awhile back of shots of abandoned buildings in Detroit.

Turns out a couple of French photographers, Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, shot the photos, which were picked up by Time Magazine, which called the subsequent photo essay Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline.

The photos really are remarkable:

They evoke strange, twisted feelings and longings and half-stirred stories inside me.  You can almost feel the ghosts brushing past you.

I tried to write a short story in college called "Evocatively Moldering" after I took Art History and was taken with that phrase, uttered by my professor, to describe how the Romantic painters of the 19th century liked their buildings.  They liked ruins clutched in vines, rotting, empty, suggesting a semi-forgotten past now merging with encroaching nature.

Looks like our own cities are now becoming something the Romantics would like to look at. Not to live in, of course. They had cozy homes stuffed with trinkets for that.

What is it about the sight of decay that inspires stories?   Do you want to tell us how that empire declined?  Is it nostalgia?  Or perhaps it's knowing that one day we too will be gone, and probably forgotten, just as the people who once dwelled in these ruins are.  By making up their stories, we can pretend we are also preserving ourselves for just a little bit longer.

Editors Rock

I have long known that the folks involve in writing for kids are wonderful.  As soon as I joined SCBWI, I found myself in the company of many generous, kind, funny, smart, supportive people.  I've heard that it's different in adult publishing - more cutthroat.  I don't know.  But in kid lit, most people are just, well, nice. My agent, Tamar Rydzinski, more than proved it in all of her dealings with me - so fair, kind, perceptive, and intelligent.

This whole appreciation for the niceness/wonderfulness/general awesomeness of KidLitters rose to a new height this week after my first chat with my editor, Alicia.  Not only was she Queen of Nice, she really really GOT my book.

Those of you who write alone in the dark, wondering if you're insane to try to be a writer will have a glimmer of understanding of just how wonderful this is.  While you're typing/scribbling away, you secretly fear that no one will ever truly understand what you're going for on paper.  And you secretly dream that at least one person will read it one day and go - aha!

The dream part of all that happened to me this week while talking to Alicia.  She understood the whole subliminal body image issue I tried to sneak into my book.  She loved that a group of friends plays a crucial role in the story.  She "grokked" my world building, big time.

Can I just say - this is the way to my heart?  Read my stuff, love it, get it, tell me all about it, and I'll love you forever.  I'm easy like that.

Sure, she had notes.  She'll have more.  What notes she did have were so on the money it was scary.  I can't wait to see her line edits.  Seriously!  There's nothing like taking a manuscript you love and  making it  better.  It satisfies something way down deep in my soul.

So, future novelists/writer - I want you to know that editors rock.  Yes yes, self publishing/epublishing are flourishing and more power to those self-propelled successes.  But, for one, am so damned glad I have an editor.  I want my book to be as good I can make it.

Friday, August 05, 2011

I Love Los Angeles

People who've never lived in LA love to diss it. I've had very good friends and relatives look at me like I was nuts when I said I loved living here. They talk about the traffic and the smog and the earthquakes and the supposed lack of culture. They look down their noses at folks who live here. I hope it makes them feel good.

Because they're wrong.

I grew up in paradise - Honolulu, Hawaii, that is. I know a great place to live when I see one. Hawaii is a great place to live.

So is Los Angeles.

Yes, LA has some traffic issues. Hell, I was here for the gigantor Northridge Quake in '94. I know it's not perfect here. Nowhere is perfect. I'm not going to go into how San Francisco also has traffic and quakes, or how Hawaii has vog (volcano smog) and higher expenses, or how NYC is way too pricey or Chicago has winters that can freeze your lungs with one breath. Every place has good things and bad things. I'll cop to traffic and earthquakes, with occasional side dishes of wildfires.

But those who love to try new things or just want to find like-minded people to hang with, LA is a wonderland. I was just talking about this at lunch today with fellow denizen Amy, and she pointed out that she ran across a group in Long Beach that gets together to sing sea shanties.

You can do anything in LA.

Want world class art? Try the Getty or LACMA or MOCA. Want to play hockey, eat Ukrainian food, then hit a jazz club? Come to LA. Hit the ski slopes (in winter) in the morning, then have dinner by the beach. Watch an old movie on the big screen at the Egyptian Theater, then have dinner down the street where Thai Elvis sings. Watch people from every walk of life take the metro or get their photo taken with Spiderman on Hollywood Boulevard. Or take yoga from a world class teacher on Montana Ave, then ride the ferris wheel on Santa Monica pier. Take a lesson in trapeze while you're at it.

You can be anything, watch anything, eat anything, try anything. It's a rich life in Los Angeles, even if you don't make a lot of money. And the weather? Let's just say it's August, and on the westside it's about 75 degrees at Noon.

And it's beautiful here. Yield to the loveliness of LA. Watch the video below.

LA Light from Colin Rich on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wednesday - Embarrrassing or Not? Confession

I had a huge crush on Captain Kirk from Star Trek.  Particularly the season one Captain Kirk, still trim, young, and manly.

I watched the show obsessively (it was in reruns), and even at that age I could see the difference between the Kirks of season 1 and season 3.

Season 1:

Season 3:

Not that I would've kicked Season 3 Kirk out of bed for eating Fig Newtons. By the time we got to the movies, the feeling had waned. But I was watching a few moments of Season 1's "Conscience of the King" with my Dad last night, and he actually said, "William Shatner was a handsome man."

And yes, my Dad is straight. He's just secure enough to make offhand remarks like this. And I agreed with him. I told him now, as I couldn't as a teenager, that I'd had a crush on the young Captain Kirk.

Amazing how there was NO WAY I ever would've said that to my Dad when I was 13. You can't talk to your fricking Dad at that age about anything to do with boys.

But now - why not? He's my friend as well as my Dad. Lucky me.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


My brilliant writer buddy and critique partner Elisa Nader took this screenshot of the announcement of my book deal in Publisher's Marketplace.  (It's a bit small here. You can click on it if you actually want to be able to read it.) The site requires a subscription to see stuff, so a screenshot is the only way for the outside world to see proof.

As my friend Diane said, they published that I'm going to be published.

Which means it's all real.


Monday, August 01, 2011

I Have a Book Deal!

I can now officially announce the BIG NEWS.

I have a two-book deal with Kensington Books with their K Teen imprint.  Let the dancing commence!

The books are part 1 and part 2 of a YA paranormal series. The title of Book 1 is currently OTHERKIN (subject to publisher approval), and it'll be out August or November next year.

All hail my agent, Tamar Rydzinski at Laura Dail Literary!

All hail Kensington Books' K Teen imprint for saying they love my book!

Still so much to do. But I had to share.  Life is sweet.