Hubby and I spent a relaxing weekend on vacation. We were facing the ocean and boardwalk. (Technically, it wasn't a boardwalk because it had no boards. It was also touted as being three miles long, but a mile marker sign near the end said 2.5. Hmmm! It's just inferior to New Jersey.)

It was lovely to hear the waves crashing at night, and see dolphin fins in the water in the morning. There was a Jacuzzi in the room taunting me. Us preggo types can't sit in hot tubs, although luckily hubby was nice enough to take advantage of it for both of us.

I did briefly swim in the indoor pool. It feels good to have all of my weight floating instead of pulling on me...

We walked a LOT. Definitely good exercise, although between that and BEA on Wednesday, I have blisters on my foot now. I'll have to stay closer to home today.

Hubby also drove both ways, so kudos to you, hunky hubby!

Camera conundrum

My question: Why does higher ISO on a camera mean less blur?

I wonder if the 3-4 readers of this blog know the answer. Not that I need to know the ins and outs of this stuff, but well, I am curious...

My digital camera manual says that a higher ISO will mean less blur. I usually keep mine on 400 or 800 in case I want to snap a shot of something fast-moving. Technically, a higher ISO increases the camera's sensitivity to light and images, so in a low-light area or in a situation where you want the shutter speed to be faster, you'd want to increase the ISO to let more light register. Fine with me, but I don’t understand why that would mean less blur. If a higher ISO lets in more light and is more sensitive to images ("noise"), wouldn’t it show MORE blur??

The camera also allows me to decrease the shutter speed to let in more light, but not to increase it. If I want to let in more light, I can decrease the shutter speed, but I better not shake the camera. If I decrease the speed, the camera automatically lowers the ISO to decrease the sensitivity to noise and graininess. But then, there will be lots of blur. Why won't my camera let me increase the speed, though?

It seems to me in action shots, you’d want a faster shutter speed. But again, they recommend increasing the ISO instead, to cut down on blur. And again I ask, why would more sensitivity to light and other images mean LESS blur and not more? Wouldn't it make more sense to have a faster shutter speed to cut down on blur, than a higher ISO?

Maybe I'll ask my photo-taking friend Sarah about this, or someone at work.


note to self. wikipedia says:

"halving the shutter speed doubles the exposure (1 EV more), while doubling the aperture (halving the number) increases the exposure by a factor of 4 (2 EV). For this reason, standard apertures differ by √2, or about 1.4. Thus an exposure with a shutter speed of 1/250 s and f/8 is the same as with 1/500 s and f/5.6, or 1/125 s and f/11.

In addition to its effect on exposure, the shutter speed changes the way movement appears in the picture. Very short shutter speeds can be used to freeze fast-moving subjects, for example at sporting events. Very long shutter speeds are used to intentionally blur a moving subject for artistic effect.[2] Short exposure times are sometimes called "fast", and long exposure times "slow".

Adjustment to the aperture controls the depth of field, the distance range over which objects are acceptably sharp; such adjustments need to be compensated by changes in the shutter speed."

Update 2:

I got an answer to my questions on the net... here.

I am still a bit confused, though. Let's say I set my camera at a high shutter speed to capture a fast-moving image. I then set the ISO high to prevent blur and let in as much light as possible at that speed. Will setting it high cancel out the shutter speed to begin with? And will it not always make a diff anyway because there's only so much light that can be let in if the shutter speed is fast?


Thanks to the Chick Lit Club

If you like reading chick lit, they have a whole bunch of great features and reviews here.

Just got back from vacation, so a post on that later. We got a lot of exercise on a boardwalk with no boards.


Book Expo of America

I managed to get to the Book Expo of America in NY today. I got some great books, saw a few old friends, learned about trends in young adult publishing, and actually meet the editor who handled the new teen edition of Carrie Pilby. (I also finally got copies of the new edition in the mail - the cover and inside stuff looks great!!) In a future blog entry, I'll plug a few of the books and organizations I came into contact with.

One of the neat things about BEA is sometimes celebrities are there to sign their books, and it may be under the radar because so many other things are going on. For instance, I got a great seat to see a Spin Magazine guy interview Rick Springfield about his upcoming memoir. (As you can tell, I only went for the most intellectual events. No, seriously, Rick is talented, and what an '80s icon he was. Not just for the music, but the appearances on General Hospital!)

Below: some video of him talking about why he'll never let "Jesse's Girl" be used for an ad, or at least, not with the words changed. You get exclusive footage of him singing the never-will-exist Golden Grahams/Jesse's Girl commercial: "Where can I find a graham cracker like that?"


Very strange

Simon Monjack, the husband of late actress Brittany Murphy, was found dead Sunday night in his Hollywood Hills home, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. He was 39. The screenwriter was reportedly found by his mother-in-law, Sharon, in the master bedroom of the house he once shared with Murphy."The preliminary cause of death is natural causes," Sgt. Louie Lozano told the Associated Press.

Not suicide? I just find this too much of a coincidence.


The Sex and the City movie

I'm looking forward to it because it's going to be funny, but I'm pretty sure it won't be as good as the last movie. If none of the women are dating (well, except Samantha), right away that kills some of the fun. Who wants to only hear about their babies and husbands?

What I'm really bothered by, without having even seen it yet, is this: From the previews, I don't think it will be consistent with the show. In the series, Carrie chose Mr. Big over Aidan, because Carrie is into superficial things like fashion, money, nightclubs, etc. Mr. Big is into those things too. Aidan is a "guy's guy" who likes nature and simple things. I'd definitely choose him over Mr. Big, but Carrie would not.

Carrie couldn't stand Aidan's house in Suffern. She walked his dog and the dog ran away. There was an episode in which Aidan wanted to sit home with his bucket of fried chicken and watch a fight on TV. Carrie wanted to go to a party at a gay bar rather than snuggle with him. They were two good people, but not right for each other.

So in the movie she's supposed to be bored with Mr. Big and then get excited because when she's vacationing with the girls, she sees Aidan. How are we supposed to believe this? Aidan represents everything she really is not attracted to: woodworking, country house, dog, stability. Carrie is New York City, nightlife, shopping rather than creating things, and no pets.

I may just have to suspend my need for consistency and laugh. I do miss those girls and their breakfast banter.

By the way...tonight was one of my favorite episodes on TBS - the one where Mr. Big has to bribe a horse-and-buggy driver to bring him and Carrie to the hospital because Miranda is having her baby. The ending is really sweet. It was the first episode of the new season after 9/11, and there's a little note of dedication to New York at the end. My kind Hubby watched the ending with me even though I warned him it would make me cry. It takes a good man to watch SATC.



This is how Google translates my book summary from the French:

Not easy to live your life when you feel a girl apart and found the hypocritical world. Constantly tired and disappointed to ask a thousand questions, though Carrie is definitely refuge under his blanket. However, a secret voice whispers to give a second chance ... engaging in some challenges. In particular, make an important meeting and say 'I love you' to someone ...


Ooh, ooh: French Carrie Pilby!

I found the French version of Carrie Pilby in the web! Harlequin Teen's French imprint chose it as one of the first four books they're releasing, which is so nice and exciting...I love the cover. Click the "here" link in the next paragraph and then scroll down on the page to see it. You can even click to read the first few pages in French, for all you who actually remember your high school French. (I don't - but I took Spanish.)

Does this mean that if she kisses anyone in the book, they change it to a French kiss? Anyway, check it out here.

Have I mentioned that you can order the new version (in English) by clicking on Amazon?

And that there's a Facebook group for the book, too? I'm also on Twitter under my name.


Thanks, Ned!!!

Ned Vizzini, whose writing I've enjoyed since he was penning screeds on being a nerdy high school student in New York Press when he was all of 15, mentioned the re-release of my book (and items about saving public libraries, etc.) in this wonderful blog entry today. He actually refers to something specific in my book; he has a great memory!

By the way, his second novel, It's Kind of a Funny Story, comes out as a movie in September. One of the stars is Zach Galasdlksdajfldsasflkadfkis. Can't wait to see that!
Quote of the day

"If he's a Yankee fan, we're going to push him back in." -- Anonymous member of my household on the baby

(Not mentioning names.)


Another mystery solved

I used to think that pregnant women walked around with their hands over their tummies & chests in order to bond with the baby. Now I know there is sometimes another reason: hearburn!!


Random stuff

Well, since I'm not really keeping my pregnancy a secret anymore (if you've seen my tum-tum, you'll know it's not much of a secret), I might as well mention some significant things:

1. On Monday someone at work gave me the first baby gift I ever got! I wasn't expecting anything, but she is the sweetest person and it was such a sweet gesture. It's a book called "Guess How Much I Love You" and it's a place I can record things about the baby, before and after birth. It's ADORABLE.

2. My elementary school friend Kathy blogged last year about the first random acknolwedgement of her pregnancy by a stranger - someone who said something to her about it in public. I can't seem to find the entry now, but I think it happened when she went to a store. Anyway, this weekend I was making the rounds at the "citywide gate sale" and a woman asked if I was expecting. (I think people are afraid to take the risk of asking, because if I'm not, I could potentially be insulted...) Anyhoo, she asked because she had some maternity jeans to sell me. I didn't buy 'em, though. I'm sticking with the two pairs I have.

3. I think I am feeling the baby move, finally. It's hard to tell the difference between him kicking me, and all the weird feelings I get after I eat.

4. For a while I was sure I had a gallstone problem. I have had pain after eating right where the gall bladder is. But I got checked out and there was no evidence of stones or liver problems. I guess it's just really bad heartburn that occurs right where my gallbladder is. I even get the pain after I drink water! As a gastrointerologist said, if I'm going to have pain after I drink water, I might as well eat whatever I want, because it's all going to cause me pain. But the truth is, so far I found something that doesn't cause me pain: Hummus. I don't know why, but hummus on pita doesn't bother me. As a result, I'm eating fairly healthily. I'll have to see if I can find some other things that are ok. I'm probably going to eat grilled chicken tonight and I think that should sit well.

Anyway, as for other things...Hi hubby, if you're reading this. Thanks for being patient with what must be a very boring blog entry for you...

Also, I guess I should plug the new edition of Carrie Pilby again, since it's coming out this July 1 in time for summer reading. I sent a lot of emails to people over the weekend who had e-mailed me five or more years ago, after they read the original. I still have their emails, but a lot of them were on aol or hotmail and are no longer at those addresses. Not to mention, many people are not still at the same jobs they were at back in 2003-2005. Oh well! If half of those people get the emails, at least that's something. I'm checking my webpage to see who actually clicks on it. I've emailed people on Facebook who mentioned my book, too. I feel a bit icky wearing the hat of a publicist, but that's what we authors must do.

So far I got into something called Park Place, a publication of NJ Monthly, whom I sent a release to. The story isn't on the internet though.

So that's all the stuff I wish to share publicly on the internet. How's YOUR life goin'?!


Chick lit: Dead or 'undead'?

So there's been an ongoing debate for several years over whether the chick lit genre of women's fiction is "dead." I find it a little silly - There will always be readers for a well-written, good book about a twentysomething/thirtysomething woman's attempts to find her place in the world, but the key is GOOD. What, then, separates a "chick lit" book from women's fiction? Some say humor, some say a focus on dating, some say just a first person voice in women's fiction alone makes it chick lit automatically. Well...

With any genre, a really good book will transcend a simple categorization by having more depth and shading. If you write a book about a woman dating, DON'T just make it about all her bad dates. The reason chick lit is being called "dead" is that there were a million books like this released in the first half of the decade, some very well nuanced and others not so much. Some were great, and some latter ones were copycats that sold to take advantage of the trend. After all, if Bridget Jones did well, publishers had to have their OWN Bridget Jones knockoffs. The glut of those books is what led agents and publishers to suddenly say they weren't going to publish them anymore.

So the marketing term of "chick lit" is not widely used anymore. However, books about confused women post-college can still be written and published. I just read a novel called "Falling is Like This" by Kate Rockland, who lives in my town, that St. Martin's just published. It's a really good book, and it's still in first person and about a woman in her early twenties navigating her romantic relationships.

Here is a point/counterpoint on the whole "chick lit is dead" issue.

Jenny Bent, an agent who has handled a lot of the genre, has heard many times from publishers and book buyers that it is 'dead'.

But the women at a blog called chicklitisnotdead.com, feel that it's not...well, that's obvious from the title!

Anyway, have I mentioned that my book (published by a chick lit imprint in 2003) is coming out again this summer for teens, this July, in fact? By Harlequin Teen. Read more about it and see the new teen cover by clicking HERE!



People keep telling me I don't look like I've gained much weight, being prego and all.

I have a solution for that!

We moms are so willing to sacrifice for our little ones.


Eatin' and readin'


Hubby and I did some eatin' on Friday night so I can write a food review (well, more like a restaurant profile). Here's a photo of the "pound cake French toast" for dessert. I had never heard of this item, but it was delicious. Apparently there are recipes for it on the 'net, as well. I told my dad about it, as he's a big French toast fan. Maybe I'll be able to lure him up for some.

That's heavy cream and hazlenut ice cream in the middle, which I largely skipped.


Most of us unfamous writers know that it's very rare for your publisher to do a lot on the publicity side - they are busy with many books. It's important for the author to promote his/her book him/herself, even if bold self-promotion is not the hat we're used to wearing. (Most of us prefer to stay inside looking out the window at the other self-promoters.)

I've finished working on a press release for the new edition of Carrie Pilby, as well as a publicity kit that goes with it, including an excerpt from the first two pages, some articles, and even Carrie Pilby Post-It notes. I bought fluorescent blue and yellow envelopes to mail it out in. Even if one person is looking at the release on the bus, someone else may see it over their shoulder. And who knows who that next person may be?

Today I sent out four packets to four major consumer mags. It's not like I'm gonna spend a ton of time on this, but now's the time to spend a little bit, so I'm glad I got these out.



Blizzard warning today!!!*

*...on planet Saturn
Puppy wub

This gigantic dog, whose name is Sophie, just plunked herself down on the sidewalk today so she could get a belly rub. I think the Basset got jealous!