December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's been an awesome year here at Wild About Words.

How to Survive Middle School came out April 13th, 2010, received two starred reviews and landed on the Texas Lone Star State Reading List. Yehaw!

I had the great pleasure of speaking to students at middle schools near and far, chatting with young fans at book signings, speaking at several conferences, Skyping with book club members both in the United States and in Canada, enjoying fun events at several wonderful independent bookstores and speaking at a bookfair hosted by the amazingly generous Arthur Levine.

2011 already looks exciting.

I start the year as a faculty member at the 10th annual Florida SCBWI Conference in Miami.

The new year will also find me speaking at SCBWI conferences in New England and Pennsylvania, as well as participating in a number of exciting book-related events here in Florida.

I have a couple new writing projects going out, and the blog will be exploding with new content in 2011.

Next week, look for a brand new 6-1/2 list from a dynamic writing/teaching duo.

And, of course, the annual list of books I read/listened to this past year will be posted. (Care to hazard a guess at the number?)

Wishing you a happy, HEALTHY new year filled with delightful surprises and exquisite moments.

With all good wishes,

December 19, 2010

Mini Writing Conference -- 6-1/2 Lists of Advice from Editors, Agents, Authors and a Really Cool Kid

We added a new feature this past year at Wild About Words -- 6-1/2 Lists of wise advice from agents, editors, pumpkin carvers, etc.

I've gathered the year's worth of blog posts here for a free mini writing conference. Hope you find something useful, inspiring . . . and fun.


1. Lauren Tarshis -- What Makes a Good Short Story (Lauren is the editor of Scholastic's Storyworks Magazine. Not only is she an excellent editor, she is also the author of several books, including Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree and the I Survived . . . series.)

2. Kate Messner -- How to Survive a Skype Visit (Kate is a teacher, Skype visit expert and author. Her newest novel is Sugar and Ice, which is an Amazon Best Book for December.)

3. Tina Wexler -- Ways to Impress and Agent (I'm grateful to call Tina my agent and my friend. She'll return to I.C.M., International Creative Management, in January, after her maternity leave.)

4. Cynthia Lord -- Secrets to Successful School Visits (This year, Cindy had 70 events to promote her TWO new books -- Hot Rod Hamster and Touch Blue. Cindy is a Newbery Honor Award recipient for her novel, Rules.)

5. Paul May
-- Funny List of Things to Do While Waiting for an Editor or Agent to Call (Paul is not only a talented writer, fun friend and fantastic family guy, he recently took on the post of critique group coordinator for SCBWI Florida. Thank you, Paul!)

6. Cynthia Leitich Smith -- How to Promote Your Book Like a Pro (Cynthia's blog, Cynsations, is a great resource for the children's writing and illustrating community. She's celebrating the release of her new picture book, Holler Loudly.)

7. David LaRochelle -- Ways to Carve a Fantastic Pumpkin (Besides carving pumpkins, David has TWO new books out this year -- 1+1=5: And Other Unlikely Additions and Minnesota's Hidden Alphabet. I'm a big fan of his novel, Absolutely, Positively Not, which won the Sid Fleischman Humor Award.)

8. Austin Towle -- Things I Wish Authors of Books for Kids My Age Knew (This post, written by a 13-year-old, received the most comments!)

I hope you enjoyed this mini writing conference. Look for more 6-1/2 Lists in 2011!

December 17, 2010

Season for Sharing, Day 5 -- Big Dog Ranch Rescue

If you are a dog lover, which I have been turned into by my pooch-loving hubby and son, you might want to support this place -- BIG DOG RANCH RESCUE.

We visited several times because it's so much fun to walk through the gate and be greeted by a ton of dogs lopping toward you. They come to visit because they are free to wander around and enjoy the large space on the ranch, that even includes a small pond.

Most of the dogs are weimaraners.

All the dogs need a good home, even though the Big Dog Ranch Rescue is a wonderful temporary home and the people who work there are so dedicated.

It's where we got our two bozos -- Teddy and Benji -- affectionately called Theodorable and Butthead!

Thanks for considering the Big Dog Ranch Rescue in your holiday giving or any of the organizations mentioned this week at Wild About Words.

May YOUR holidays be happy, healthy and filled with peace!

December 16, 2010

Season for Sharing, Day 4 -- Save Our Oceans with Edie Widder

My dear friend, Janeen Mason, introduced me to Edie Widder, President and Sr. Scientist at O.R.C.A. (Ocean Research and Conservation Association).

Janeen is an artist who loves the ocean.

Here are a couple of the covers of books she's written and illustrated:

I love Janeen's brilliantly colorful artwork and I love brilliantly colorful her!

So when she asked me to come to her home to have lunch with some interesting people, I said, "YES!"

One of those people was Edie Widder, whom Janeen knew when Edie worked at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution -- a very cool place.

Edie studied bioluminescent sea life -- sea creatures who generate their own light -- and is an expert on the subject.

To watch a fascinating talk about bioluminescence, check out Edie's TED video: Glowing Life in an Underwater World . . .

When I met Edie, she was quiet and unassuming. You'd never guess she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, based on her work with ORCA.

But when she talked about what ORCA is doing to help the oceans and what is at stake if we don't all do something to help the oceans, I was captivated. I went home and made a donation.

If you'd like to donate to help Edie Widder and her team help our oceans, here's the link.

Thank you.

December 15, 2010

Season for Sharing, Day 3 -- Write On -- 826 Valencia, Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers is a work of staggering genius. He inspires me to believe there is no limit to the good work one person can accomplish when passionate about something.

Dave Eggers wrote these books (and many others) ...

He began an innovative literary magazine and publishing company -- McSweeney's.

And he created 826 Valencia -- a writing tutoring center and pirate supply store. Dave Eggers envisioned this place to be one where editors could work on McSweeney's while neighborhood students came in after school to do their homework, receiving one-on-one attention.

826 Valencia in San Francisco has evolved to more than 1,400 volunteers and a variety of locations both national and international.

The work done there is innovative, yet simple -- helping kids share their voices and learn about how much talent they have to offer.

To learn more, watch Dave Eggers give a talk about the program when he won a 2008 TEDPrize.

As an author, I donate to 826 Valencia because I believe good work like that spreads ... and should be supported.

December 14, 2010

Season for Sharing, Day 2 -- Six Families, J.A.M.ming and One Dog

Today's "Season to Share" is hands-on, local stuff.

If you live outside Palm Beach County, though, you can make a donation to help.

If you live inside Palm Beach County, there are THREE opportunities that need your IMMEDIATE attention.


Every year, the Palm Beach County school district identifies the absolutely neediest families in the area. This year, 70 families were choosen for the program.

Each year, our family adopts a family. We take our boys and shop for essentials (and I mean essentials, like food, clothing and bedding) and a few toys and books for the children. It's fun to have an excuse to shop for little ones.

Angela Feaman, an absolute angel, runs the program. Along with her full-time work, she drives all over the county picking up donations and coordinating efforts.

This year, it's almost Christmas and SIX families still haven't been adopted.

If you can adopt one of the six families or even make a small donation for Angela to do the shopping, PLEASE contact Angela Feaman via e-mail at feamana(at)

2) One year ago on Thanksgiving, a terrible tragedy happened where I live.

A mentally ill man brought a gun into the home of a cousin who invited him for a holiday dinner. At the end of the evening, this man opened fire, killing several family members, including a precious six-year-old girl, Makayla Sitton, who lay sleeping in her bed.

Makayla was a student at my dear friend, Sandra's music school -- Jupiter Academy of Music.

To honor Makayla, a scholarship has been created in her name. This scholarship allows students, who couldn't otherwise afford it, to receive music instruction and education. To donate and bring the gift of music to a child and to honor Makayla's life, click here: Jupiter Academy of Music Makayla Sitton Scholarship Fund.

To learn more about the Jupiter Academy of Music, where our son takes lessons, check out this video:

3) A dog.

My friend, Christina, who lives in Delray, found a dog in her backyard with no tags. Animal Care has the dog right now and the owners have not been located so far.

The dog is a Shiba Inu. If you can help, please contact my friend, Christina directly at herself(at)

Thank you.

December 13, 2010

Season for Sharing, Day 1 -- Camp Mak-A-Dream

Every day this week at Wild About Words, I'll share one worthwhile program to support during the holidays . . .


"One week can change a lifetime."

Camp Dream provides a week of FUN for children, teens and adults dealing with cancer. They also have a camp for siblings of ill children.

Campers stay in cabins, enjoy fabulous meals, ride horses, go on field trips, swim, enjoy guest speakers, create masterpieces in the arts and crafts cabin, shoot a round of miniature golf, enjoy archery, climb a rock wall, etc.

How do I know so much about this magical place that's all about friendship and fun instead of pain and suffering?


My dear friend, Cary, told me I had to go. After a couple years of persuasion, I finally went and met the most wonderful women and had the most amazing time. Our family will be supporting Camp Mak-A-Dream this holiday season.

Here's a photo of some of the adult campers, who were dealing with ovarian cancer. We were on a field trip to a beautiful park. Cary is holding up the T-shirt.

Won't you sponsor a camper this year to enjoy Camp Mak-A-Dream in Montana?

December 9, 2010

Last School Visit and Book Signing of 2010

A big THANK YOU to librarian Karen Marchetto for inviting me to speak to the 6th grade students at Jupiter Middle School.

The day began with Hammy the Hamster appearing on their morning news.

I then proceeded to embarrass myself in front of more than 400 kids by telling them about my dork days of middle school, including the fact that I was a proud member of my school's ping pong club. Clearly, it would be impossible to out-dork me during those braces-wearing, pimple-erupting daze, er, days!

The evening after the school visit, I met great students, parents and teachers at Barnes & Noble, where I signed copies of How to Survive Middle School and As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President!

One girl insisted her father buy her a copy of As If Being 12 3/4 . . . even though she'd already read it. Another girl asked me to recommend books I enjoyed when I was her age. Turns out, she'd already read and enjoyed Mr. Poppers Penguins, so I told her A Hundred Dresses might be another good choice.

I love meeting and chatting with young readers. It's one of my favorite parts of the job.

It's been a fun, busy year of school visits, book festivals and conferences and I look forward to even more in 2011, but for now . . .

I'm going to relish time to finish revisions for Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen. Can't wait till she makes her way into the world Spring 2012.

December 6, 2010

Book Signing & Fun Photos

My last book signing for 2010 will be at Barnes & Noble at Legacy Place in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Wednesday, December 8th from 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Big THANKS to Catherine Spinella, uber-awesome school librarian for posting these fun photos from my recent visit to West Essex Middle School.

Stay warm!

December 2, 2010

So You Want to Write a Novel

Funny, this is exactly how I sold my first book to Random House . . .

November 29, 2010

Books for People Who Love to Write . . .

What do we writers LOVE to get for the holidays? Other than a quiet space and time to write?

We love books about writing!

Here are a few suggestions . . .

For general writing, how about these two classics from Stephen King and Anne Lamott?

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

If you need to learn classic story structure, you can't go wrong with McKee's book. It's a thick book with everything you need to know about creating the form of a good, solid story.

If writing for children is your thing, try this annual guidebook, which is loaded with instructional articles, markets, contests, etc.

2011 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market

And for fun, try this PUNderful book by Avi . . .

A Beginning, a Muddle and an End (The Write Way to Write Writing)
-- Avi

Please take a moment to share your favorite book(s) for writers in the comment section below. That way, when someone asks, "So, what would you like for the holiday?" we'll have a great resource from which to draw.

November 25, 2010


Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

Let the eating, the sharing, the shopping and the laughter begin . . .

November 21, 2010

Adventures in New Jersey and New York

When Arthur Levine invited me to speak at the BK Book Festival in Montclair, NJ, I couldn't have imagined what a fun time I was in for.

The adventure began with a visit to speak to the 5th and 6th grade students at HBW Middle School in Verona, NJ.

This school is interesting because the front has a stately, traditional look and the back is completely modern.

Uber-librarian, Jen Kleinknecht, hosted my visit. She is TERRIFIC!

Then it was off to Watchung Booksellers, a small, warm independent bookstore. After buying a few books, I had the great pleasure of meeting, Margot, the owner.

Then it was off to Brookdale Park to crunch through leaves. Do you know how many years it’s been since I crunched through leaves?

I guarantee I looked like a little kid tromping through that beautiful park!

The next day, I was off to speak to the 7th grade students at West Essex Middle School. They certainly made me feel welcome!

Unlike in FL, where we have cafetoriums (cafeteria/auditoriums), there was a gorgeous auditorium with stadium seating.

After my talk, it was time to run a writing workshop in the media center with 25 enthusiastic students. We had sooooo much fun! The kids came up with funny, sad, touching writing to share. And the coolest thing was that the amazing librarian, Catherine Spinella, created recipes from the back of each of my books.

I will never admit to how many slices of Jewish apple cake and lemon squares I consumed. But I will admit to having a FANTASTIC time! Thank you, West Essex Middle School!

Saturday, my buddy Elysa, met me in NYC, as did my agent and her new baby and my editor and her new baby.

After a scrumptious lunch at the Theatre Row Diner, made special by the scrumptious babies I held and cuddled, Elysa and I took in a Broadway Show – my first. Next to Normal was fantabulous and got a much-deserved standing ovation.

Elysa and I also saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Times Square, part of Central Park and Rockefeller Center. We wondered why they cleared the ice at the rink, except for one couple. Suddenly, the man dropped to one knee and put a ring on the young woman’s finger in front of hundreds of people. They skated a victory lap to a love song by Elton John. What a great day!

The next morning, I spoke at the B'nai Keshet Synagogue for the BK Book Festival in Montclair, NJ. A great group of kids and adults filled the seats. It was fun chatting with everyone after the event. One man had gone to the same elementary, middle and high school that I had.

I can’t thank Arthur Levine enough for inviting me to be part of the festival. And Margot, owner of Watchung Booksellers, for providing books, support and good cheer.

Arthur Levine, Margot Sage-EL, Donna Gephart

When it was over, I got into my rental car with my best friend – Lola – my GPS, and she got me back to the airport.

I had a wonderful time in New Jersey and New York and made some amazing new friends, but it was great to get home to my guys, my dogs, my cat and this . . .

November 16, 2010


My heart's still hammering. My thoughts are still racing. My face hurts from smiling so much.

Yesterday, this e-mail appeared in my in-box:

It is with great pleasure that I write to let you know that your book, How to Survive Middle School, has been selected for the 2011 Texas Lone Star Reading List. The committee considered many books and felt that yours was exceptional and would be perfect for the list.

This is the first time a book of mine will be on a state list. And Texas is one big state! (You can read the complete list on this blog.)

Thank you to Lori Loranger, Committee Chair, and to the entire Texas Lone Star Reading List Committee for this great honor. I am beyond thrilled!

Texas has been very good to us this year. It was only two months ago that Hubby and I had the time of our lives in Austin, TX because of a trip we won from Whole Foods Market.

In other state news -- Good citizens of New Jersey: Lock your windows and bolt your doors.

I'm coming to town. Consider yourselves duly warned.

During my visit, I look forward to meeting students and staff at a couple middle schools, where I'll be presenting and giving a writing workshop.

Then, I'll be speaking, reading and signing books at the BK BOOK FESTIVAL at Bnai Keshet Synagogue in Montclair, NJ, Nov. 21st at 10:45 a.m. This book festival benefits the Bnai Keshet Synagogue and indie bookstore, Watchung Booksellers. If you're in the area, please stop by and say howdy.

If you can't make it to the event and want to support Watchung Booksellers, please call 973.744.7177 to order a book. Or support YOUR local indie bookseller by ordering your holiday books from them. Check out Indiebound to find the one closest to you.

Thanks so much!

November 12, 2010

6-1/2 List -- Wisdom from a 13-Year-Old

Austin Towle is 13. He's an 8th grader at a middle school in Florida. He likes to play X-box, especially Call of Duty and has a sister, Sydney, who's about to turn 11.

When Austin's mom contacted me about her son writing a guest post on my blog, I thought it would be great to hear what he had to say. 13-year-olds don't always get a voice. I suggested he write about what he'd like authors of books for children and young adults to know.

And he did.

But Austin did more than that. He wrote with honesty and wisdom about what every parent, every person who works with kids should know. And he did it eloquently.



1. We don't like to be compared to other kids. When you compare us to little Timothy down the block saying how smart and well-mannered he is, it doesn't make us feel good. We like to be appreciated and complimented on our abilities. It may not seem like it but being complimented is one of the best things you can say to us.

2. We have our own sense of humor. You may hear us cracking up about something that doesn't even make any sense to you and you're racking your brain trying to figure out why it's so funny. But don't bother, we have our own sense of humor that sometimes doesn't make any sense. For example, I was with my friend, Pedro, and we started laughing and his mom asked us what was so funny and we explained it to her but she didn't have the slightest idea why it was funny.

3. One of the most important things, don't try to act our age. We don't think you're "hip" when you're saying cool, rad, or dude in every sentence. Just act your own age. We'd rather you ask us if we want to play "stickball" then you asking us if we want to go hit up the clubs. Another example, one of my mom's friends was with me and asked if I wanted to go shred down at the skate park. That is a prime example of overdoing it on the whole "be your child's friend kind of thing".

4. We don't want a lecture as a response to a yes or no question. You don't have to yell at us for five minutes about how bad or wrong that is, just say no. Oh and another thing, I'm pretty sure none of my friends would jump off a bridge and even if they did I wouldn't. So the next time one of us goes up to you and asks a question, just say yes or no.

5. Bullying is more of a problem than any adults can even fathom. The media blames schools or the parents, saying that bullying is a minor problem that is rising, Guess what? it's actually been a huge problem for a while. The problem is that most of the victims are afraid to speak up. Bullying occurs between everyone and happens everywhere. Guys bullying guys, girls bullying girls, guys bullying girls, and even girls bullying guys. Another thing, telling the principal and calling up the bully for confrontation is probably the worst idea ever. If you snitch, it will more than likely get remarkably worse. Trust me, bullies don't learn their lesson. They will keep at it until either you fight back or they are expelled.

6. Let us have our personal space. If we want to be alone, then let us be, it's not like we're plotting world destruction. I know some adults worry about their kids falling in with the wrong crowd or getting into bad habits, but you just got to have faith in us and have confidence in how you raised us. You raised us better than that.

6-1/2. It may seem like we don't want to be hugged or loved, but inside we do. We're just trying to act tough and grown up, but we always could go for a big ole' hug.

November 4, 2010

It's Not All Oprah Appearances and Whirlwind Book Tours, You Know

I once read that the average number of books sold at a book signing is three.

That's why I steer away from bookstore events, unless they follow a school visit.

But, when a local bookstore manager was looking for a middle grade author to do an in-store event, I said, "Yes."

To prepare for the event, I created a flyer, which I e-mailed to the manager. I spread the word via my Web site, blog, FB, etc. and I corresponded with the manager several times.

She made it clear I'd have to promote the event myself. All she could do was list it on their Web site and have a display of my books in the store.

No problem.

I had modest expectations the evening of the event. None-the-less, I dressed and applied makeup (I hate wearing makeup), packed my bag with giveaways, a stuffed toy hamster, etc. and drove an hour through driving rain to get to the store on time.

I did not expect what happened next.

There was a small flyer about my event on the front door as I entered the store.

Good sign.

I asked an employee, "May I see the manager?"

"No," the employee said.

Bad sign.

"She's on vacation this week."


"Well, I'm here for the author event. You have a sign up on your front door about it."

"Wait here." She dashed out of sight.

While she was gone, I checked the children's department. Not only was there no display, no signing table, no nothing . . . there was not a single copy of my book in the store.

The woman came out and said, "Um, did you bring your own books?"

I wanted to say, "This is a bookstore. Why would I bring my own books."

I couldn't speak, though. My lower jaw was dangling.

The woman explained that the store was closing after the holidays.

I told her I was sorry, but I'd prepared for this visit. I drove an hour to get here.

She apologized profusely, saying the manager handles all store events, and no one else was aware of it. She offered to buy me a drink in the cafe. (I declined.) She told me about how many people would lose their jobs and how she would have to drive an hour each way to get to her new job after the store closed.

Then she tried to cheer me up by discussing the demise of brick and mortar bookstores and books in general.

I waited around about ten minutes in case someone showed up. No one showed up.

By the time I left, the flyer announcing my event had been pulled off the door. Only a wad of tape remained.

Why didn't this bother me?

Was it because I thought about all those people who would lose their jobs in a market where too many people have already lost their jobs? Hmm. That put my inconvenience into perspective.

Sure, it would have been nice if the manager thought to drop me a quick e-mail to let me know.

But that's how things go sometimes.

Life's too short to get pissed off over things we can't control. And frankly, there's very little we CAN control. (I'll just be a bit more careful next time about saying "Yes.")

Instead of wasting time and energy getting upset, here's what I did:

I listened to Gordon Korman's SCHOOLED on CD all the way home. Very funny.

I thought about how glad I was to be getting home early to have more time with Hubby, and how we'd settle down to watch a new episode of MODERN FAMILY.

And I reflected on the good things that happened this past week:

1. We watched our older son and his eight fellow cast members get a standing ovation for their performance in the school play.

2. Our younger son had his first drum performance in front of an audience. (And he didn't vomit, lose a drumstick or faint.)

3. Three different local schools contacted me about setting up author visits.

4. And one library.

5. I got the delightful news that I will be on the faculty at the NESCBWI conference this May, giving two workshops about writing humor and creating quirky characters. (This is especially exciting as they are celebrating their 25th anniversary.)

6. And Random House let me know yesterday that HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL just went into its FIFTH printing.

So, you win some. You lose some. And then you go watch MODERN FAMILY with Hubby.

November 2, 2010

I'm too old to have this much fun on Halloween . . .

Strange beings invaded our home and our neighborhood . . .

(Oy vey!)

(Scariest costume ever -- teen at the computer.)

(Looks like they've lowered the drinking age in Florida.)

(In your future, I see a trip . . . to the dentist.)

(Too cute to be a mad murderer.)

(See what happens when you insult the wife's cooking?)

(Where am I and where did I get all this hair?)

(This is how I look most mornings before school . . . and after school.)

(Look who responded to the personal ad this time.)

(Last seen terrorizing small children and stealing their candy.)

(In sickness and in health and in last minute Halloween costumes.)

(Greek Gods? Nah! Geek Gods!)

Hope you all had a Halloween to dismember!

October 30, 2010

And the Winner Is . . .

Thanks for sharing your good news on this blog post.

As promised, I used a random number generator to choose one commenter to receive a signed copy of How to Survive Middle School to donate to a school, library or organization of his choice.

Why did I use the pronoun his in that last sentence?

Because the winner is David LaRochelle!!!

What a coincidence; David has provided the most amazing guest blog post for tomorrow -- Halloween. Wait till you see what he has to share with us!

Thanks David and everyone who shared good news. It was great fun to read everyone's wonderful comments.

October 25, 2010


Do you have good news to share?

Have you heard from an agent? Sold a book? A magazine article? Has your child actually remembered to hang up her wet towel?

Whatever your good news . . . it's time to shout it from the rooftops or, in this case, the blogtops!

Post your good news in the comment section below. Let's read and celebrate each other's good news.

On October 30th, one comment will be selected at random, and that person will receive an autographed copy of HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL . . . to donate to the school, library or organization of his or her choice.

Let the good news roll . . .

October 20, 2010


1. If you know of a library that can use a HUGE collection of children's books or YOU would like to donate a new middle grade book, take a gander at this amazing post from the wonderful folks at From the Mixed Up Files.

2. The fine, funny, thoughtful Libba Bray posted a long letter to a young reader who has big dreams, but struggles because her father has different ideas about her future. Libba's response to this young women put so many things into perspective, including understanding our place in this mixed up world. Libba's wise words can benefit ALL of us. Read the teen's letter and Libba's brilliant response HERE.

3. And now for a few funtastic photos from my Skype visit with some very cool students from Maryland.

Thanks a bazillion to Ms. Etchison for coordinating the visit!!!

October 14, 2010

The Great Hamster Mishap

Sometimes, a young reader responds to one of my books in a delightfully creative way.

Some have baked cakes, others have made a YouTube video and still others have made posters or T-shirts.

But only one person (that I know of) has ever sculpted characters from my novels out of clay.

Elyssa, my friend's daughter and an avid reader, sculpted Hammy the Hamster from How to Survive Middle School. And when I visiting Pennsylvania, she gave it to me.

This clay hamster was so detailed. It had a pink nose, puffy cheeks and a microphone.

But there was one problem.

Hammy had to travel on a plane all the way back to Florida. How to do that? Well, I stuck him in a days-of-the-week pill holder, of course. Hammy resided in the Thursday slot during the ride.

When I got home, I discovered, to my great horror, that something terrible happened to Hammy.


I screamed bloody murder. I dialed 1-1-9. (I'm dyslexic.) I ran for the Krazy Glue.

After countless minutes -- two -- Hammy was back together again.

In fact, he already made a new friend.

I should have known this would have happened. Elyssa knows there have been mishaps in the past when it comes to Sculpey clay. Seniorita Meltypants was our previous disaster.

But all is right in the world now. And little Hammy keeps me company next to Miss Vanessa Meltypants on my desk.

Thank goodness Hammy and his microphone are back in working order. I mean, how else could he possibly star in his very own video? Thanks, Elyssa!