Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Friendship by Justina Chen on Polyvore.com
Joy is spending time with girlfriends who make a difference. For 7 years, a few of my friends and I helped non-profit organizations with business strategy as StrataGem. Tonight, we hit the town to watch The King's Speech together, which is a rich testament to friendship and faith (and Colin Firth). That's the hallmark of my Strata-gals...and this collage is for them. Thanks for dancing in the rain with me for all these years...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kerlan Collection

Just received the sweetest note from the curator of the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota where some of my papers have been archived: an early draft of GIRL OVERBOARD, research notes for NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES), and a few galleys of all my novels. I'm going to have to figure out an excuse to get to Minnesota some day soon! AND with any luck, I'll finish my forthcoming novel, RETURN TO ME, soon and can send the Kerlan Collection my very, very, very messy first draft.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vision Board 2011

Vision Board 2011
Vision Board 2011 by Justina Chen on Polyvore.com

My annual ritual: vision boarding with my intention for the coming year. Typically with girlfriends, always with hope. Here it is, Vision Board 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Goodbye, 2010!

Goodbye, 2010!
Goodbye, 2010! by Justina Chen featuring enamel brooches

"Maybe that is the power of True Love: that in Love’s strong sweep, the shards of the broken past can be brushed aside to herald a new beginning called Now." --RETURN TO ME

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Peridot by Justina Chen on Polyvore.com

Inspiration board for next, next novel..

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Novel Gift: readergirlz + First Book

BREAKING NEWS! readergirlz & First Book are giving away more than 125,000 brand-new books to low-income teen readers. 

They’re great books, too, donated by generous publishers. Among the three dozen choices are P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast’s HOUSE OF NIGHT series and Alyson Noël’s SHADOWLAND.

We need your help getting the word out about the A Novel Gift campaign. Right now! Right now! As in, now!

Let's get organizations serving these teens registered with First Book so they can be matched with inventory during the holidays.

Here’s what we'd love for you to do:

Post to Facebook and tweet your beak off about these books using the hashtag #novelgift.

Here’s a tinyurl link to their registration page: http://tinyurl.com/2a5mwpj.

Or you can link to this blog post: http://readergirlz.blogspot.com/2010/11/novel-gift-over-125000-free-books-to.html 

Then, get in touch with every group you can think of that works with young adults–schools, after-school programs, church youth groups, community centers, etc.—and let them know that these books are available now.

The five-minute online registration these groups can use is here:

First Book is also eager to answer questions, either by email to help@firstbook.org, or by phone at 866-READ-NOW or 866-732-3669.

If you participate, drop us a note at readergirlz@gmail.com to be included in our blog roll of thanks to run December 31.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Giving Thanks for Strength

So blessed this year with my children's sweet strength...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My first Polyvore collage, fierce and cute just like my protagonist in RETURN TO ME.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Walden Award

A humble thank you to the Adolescent Literature Action Network (ALAN) for naming 
NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL as one of the finalists for the 2010 Walden Award. ALAN's members are among the most influential (and rocking cool) librarians, reviewers, professors, and high school educators in the country. 

I am profoundly disappointed that I had to cancel my trip to Orlando for the Awards Ceremony on Monday...especially since this Award means so much to me personally. It's given for the three attributes that matter most to me as a writer:  a positive approach to life, teen appeal and literary merit.

Congratulations to this year’s winner, Kristin Cashore, for her imaginative work, and my other finalists, including:


Thursday, November 4, 2010

To Be Heard

My friends, Jim and Jill, have produced their first documentary...called TO BE HEARD.  Powerful...it's the film soulmate of one of my favorite all-time verse novels by my gifted friend, Nikki Grimes:  Bronx Masquerade.  I had to cancel my trip to attend their premiere. Profoundly disappointed but so happy for them and all the lucky viewers who have yet to be touched by their film.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Calling all Twilight fans who are enjoying this eve.  Check out this little something, something for you care of my gorgeous friend, Dia Calhoun, author and letterer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tasty Salty Pig Parts

My friends, Drew and Lisa, pointed me to the Ferry Building in San Francisco.  They told me about the yummy bakeries (oh, yes).  And about the shop that sold Tasty, Salty Pig Parts.  But what I wasn't expecting was the view above.  Just look at that gorgeous ceiling, the skylight, and those arches. I am seeing a middle grade novel set right here, don't you?

Ode to Kennell

Outside Branner Hall...where I spent my junior and senior year on staff for the largest all-frosh dorm at Stanford. Our resident fellow, Professor Kennell Jackson, occupies a special place in my heart.  Though he is gone, I can still hear him whenever I fret about driving since I am quite possibly the worst driver on the planet:  "Remember, your car is your freedom."  But the best piece of advice I ever got from Kennell who possessed one of the most creative and curious minds of all:  "Always ask questions."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reunion + Research

Back at Stanford for my college reunion over the weekend...and I thought fondly of my friends...and of NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES), which was set on campus.  There, on the back wall of Memorial Church (better known as Mem Chu), Patty buildered...and was almost busted by security. I cannot confirm or deny that I conducted firsthand research on any sandstone walls at Stanford.  Mum's the word.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Turtle Power

Out on a walk in the Japanese Tea Garden with a dear friend, we came upon turtles doing what we were doing:  basking in the beautiful Seattle sun.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Readergirlz Love Letter

A video love letter to readergirlz everywhere, care of Lorie Ann Grover. Love this.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Music to My Ears

To be honest, I have a soft spot for my sophomore novel:

So when the blogger of Black Teens Read 2 emailed me today, pointing to her way-amazing review of GIRL OVERBOARD, I literally cried--healthy, happy tears.  She even picked out my favorite scene to highlight in her Spoiler Alert.  THANK YOU, Ari!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Birch Paperie

Calling all fellow paper obsessed! I have found my new all-time favorite stationary store in Seattle where I decimated the pocket notebook display for various writing projects.

Birch Paperie
5605 B Keystone Avenue North
Seattle, Washington

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Teen Read Week!

Thanks to Holly Cupala for creating this poster for readergirlz! Now grab yourself a YA novel this week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fantastical Thinking

These colors make me want to dive right back into my fantasy novel...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good News!

So a day after my agent told me that Writers House had sold even more foreign rights for NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL (this time to Hungary!), I found this message in my Facebook from a reader:  

"Just wanted to tell you I like you better then I do Twilight, and that's saying a lot. :)"

THANK YOU! My heart is full of gratitude.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Reviewing my research notes from my trip to Santa Fe and Taos this summer. Love finding little details to weave into my next novel, RETURN TO ME.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wistful Thinking

Dear Beloved Car,

Why are you still not in my garage? Could you be any cuter?


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Herbs 'R Us

My research for RETURN TO ME took me to an herbalist where my daughter and I learned how to mix lotions and potions. Look at the five different kinds of mud we finger painted on ourselves to draw out toxins and brighten our skin. You know what? The green mud from France is fab.u.lous. Check out: Herban Wellness.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Laini Taylor on readergirlz

Look who we're celebrating on readergirlz this month: Laini Taylor, National Book Award finalist. So mark your calendar for 10/20!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Vision Board

With every new novel--and heck, to kick off every new phase in my life--I turn to my vision boards. These collages ground and guide me, reminding me of what's truly important. What I need to focus on. Here, my good friend Lorie Ann Grover created a collage for me on our new fave site, Polyvore! Can you decipher all the symbols? I can. And that's a sign of dear friend who knows my heart.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Wedding Belles

Loving this photo with my friend, Dawn Rutherford, teen librarian extraordinaire, at our friend's wedding.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wedding Belles

A posse of friends at Jackie Parker's wedding. Here we are, readergirlz all.

Back row: Holly Cupala (Tell Me a Secret), Colleen Mondor (Guys Lit Wire), Lorie Ann Grover (On Pointe)

Front row: Martha Brockenbrough (Things that Sic), Rachel (librarian-roller derby girl), and moi

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hiking Buddy

Meet Teddy, my new hiking buddy. He's up for anything...even an early morning start time. No grumbling, just panting, as we ran through Cougar Mountain. (Okay, and Mindy is a pretty fabulous hiking buddy, too.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hang Gliding

Gorgeous day...so I ran up to Poo Poo Point (what's with the name?) on Tiger Mountain. There, the hanggliders were taking to the sky. I love the sound of air filling the parachutes--WHOOOOOOOOSH! If joy had a sound other than laughter, then this has to be it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Celebrating Tell Me A Secret

Remember to join us tonight to celebrate Holly Cupala's debut novel on readergirlz!

Monday, August 16, 2010


One of my favorite parts of writing has got to be primary source research: interview with cool people. Like Cindy Edens, one of the foremost female builders in the Northwest. Her corner office with a full-on view of Elliott Bay was to die for. But her story? My goodness, she is my hero.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where Ideas Come

People always ask where ideas for books come from. Some authors get annoyed with this question. I don't mind it at all. My ideas come from everywhere, everyday. Like this image of a red wagon set beneath the wild Taos sky. Tell me that you see the fantasy novel taking shape. I do.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Inspiration a la Rafting

Finally! I went white water rafting after years of wanting to try it but never finding (making) the time. This is SO going into my next novel, RETURN TO ME... Major shout out to my friend, Mark Kroese, for making my dream come truuuuue.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Filling the Creative Pot

In the throes of my rewrite for my upcoming novel, RETURN TO ME, I'm finding that I need to constantly replenish my creative pot. So the readergirlz co-founders, Lorie Ann Grover (l) and Dia Calhoun (c) and I hit the Triple Door downtown for a fabulous concert with Lucy Woodward. Oh, yes, her lyrics were yummy as was the bass player.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Writing Retreat in the Methow

How could not write for hours with this as your palette? Thanks to my very dear friend, Dia Calhoun (readergirlz co-founder and brilliant fantasy novelist), I had my own personal SPOT in my beloved Methow Valley where I could create RETURN TO ME. Of course, let's not forget the inspiration that hearing a cougar growling can inspire...

Sweetheart of a Gate

I want this gate for my home. A heart to remind me of what's important in life. Hot chiles for living life passionately. This is a gateway to luuuurve.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Really...the cutest car. Ever.

Truly, I could almost care less about the car I drive. It's just a way to transport me around. But this... this...

I am coveting you. Why aren't you in my garage?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

readergirlz logo-rama

The amazing Dia Calhoun--fantasy novelist extraordinaire and logo designer--created a new mark for the co-founders of readergirlz. Here's mine.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

We're celebrating our very own Holly Cupala's debut novel over at readergirlz this month. So mark your calendar for her LIVE Twitter chat on 8/18.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mineral Springs

On the way back from Taos, I heard about Ojo Caliente, one of the oldest natural mineral springs around. Well, then. I had to check this out for my next novel. Really, it was all research. And...I unexpectedly fell in love. A couple of dipping pools--try arsenic, anyone? A mud bath. Gorgeous red rock cliffs. AND baby soft skin after marinating yourself. This almost beats out the Korean naked spa. Almost.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Collage Inspirations

Anybody who comes to my house knows immediately that I love collage. Love it! So the other day, I interviewed Josh Brevoort and Lisa Chun of Zero Plus Architects and stopped midstream...because there by each of their workstations were trays laden with items. A visual collage, changed by whim and informing their work. And this is precisely the type of collage Twyla Tharp creates as she choreographs new dances. And what I do before I write a single word of my novels. Collage as a way of getting to know my characters. My story. My ideas. I love the creative process.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Atop of the World

My trip to Taos may have been weeks ago, but I still long for the desert scenery. The wide open spaces. The sunlight. My gosh, the sunlight.

And then this: the Rio Grande. How utterly weird to drive for miles in complete flatlands...to encounter this gouged out piece of land from an earthquake. I can't imagine the power that created this crack. And the hike along the edge? Heaven. You bet this is making the cut in my novel somehow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ode to Waterfalls

I love waterfalls--natural or manmade. Here, I found one in Taos constructed out of an industrial-looking mechanism. Then the water ran under a footbridge and spilled into a zigzagging waterway that ended in a koi pond. I want this in my frontyard.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

North of Beautiful: Walden Finalist!

YAY! I am so humbled by this bit of recent news...and so thrilled that I have an excuse to shop for a new frock to wear to the awards ceremony in November!

NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL has been named one of the finalists for the 2010 Amelia Walden Award given by the Adolescent Literature Action Network (ALAN). ALAN's members are among the most influential librarians, reviewers, professors, and high school educators in the country. The Walden Award celebrates books that show a positive approach to life, teen appeal and literary merit.

This year’s winner was FIRE by Kristin Cashore and the other finalists were:




Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Toast to Taos

Now this is the picture of cuteness. I am tempted to pack home Jake who literally bounds with joy here at the B&B I'm staying at in Taos.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inspired in Santa Fe

Here I am in Santa Fe and Taos for a few days, researching my next few novels. Every single moment seems to be inspiring me with unbelievable bouts of synchronicity. From the Southwest Weaving store with skeins after skeins of gorgeous hand-dyed yarn...to a dish so delish at The Compound that I'm tempted to learn how to cook beets for myself...to the cutest SmartCar on the planet.

Ideas are every where I look.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Going Goth For Eclipse

The premiere of Eclipse two weeks ago meant pulling out my Goth-ish get-up. Which is something one of my characters in my work-in-progress novel, RETURN TO ME, would do. Whatever it takes to get me to write these days, I'll take. Even if it means being the only person in the entire theater complex to dress up. Really.