September 29, 2010

Something Sweet

Every once in a while, a reader sends an e-mail with his or her response to a book I've written.

The other day, I got such an e-mail from Lily, who created Bubbe's Jewish Apple Cake, from the recipe at the back of How to Survive Middle School.

Lily is so creative that she changed the topping from powdered sugar to a lovely glaze.

And she was sweet enough to send photos that, with her mom's permission, I'm sharing with you.

Isn't that beautiful?

Thanks, Lily!

September 27, 2010

Be There or Be Square -- Upcoming Events

If you'll be in the neighborhood of the Legacy Place Barnes and Noble this Thursday, September 30th, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., stop by and say hello.

I'll be signing HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL in conjunction with the Independence Middle School Book Fair.

This Saturday, October 2nd, I'll be the keynote speaker at a wonderful conference for parents of middle schoolers -- Mapping the Middle -- A Parent's Guide to All Things Tween. It's a free event with experts speaking on a variety of topics. You can read all the info here.

Hope to see you soon!

September 22, 2010


Dan and I arrived in Austin this past Friday to celebrate Whole Foods Market's 30th birthday. We won the trip in a contest sponsored by Whole Foods Market. You can read all about how we won the contest here.

The weather was beautiful so we decided to stroll around town.

We visited the capitol building, which had beautiful architecture and paintings of each of the state's governors on the walls of each level.

Back at our hotel, we had a Whole Foods Market goody bag waiting for us. It was filled with organic popcorn, breakfast bars, fresh organic fruit, trail mix, drinks, gift certificates and this ...

Our badges got us into the many events Whole Foods Market planned for us, including the Meet and Greet, for which we were running late!

There, we met many of the people involved in making Whole Foods Market the amazing organization it is today, including Cheryl Galway, who planned and organized this wonderful 30th birthday party celebration.

We were treated to scrumptious food and champagne, wine, etc. and got to meet the other winners.

Then we were taken to some of the finest restaurants Austin had to offer. We ate at Taverna. Our main course was gorgonzola and pear filled pasta, walnuts, arugula and dolce latte cream sauce, which was as delicious as it sounds. Tiramisu for dessert!

I was too busy enjoying the food to photograph it, but here is a photo of our group . . .

(That's Cheryl on the left.)

Here's a picture from the other end of the table . . .

We met so many cool people who either won the trip or worked for Whole Foods Market.

One of my favorite things about Austin was a 13-mile trail along Lady Bird Lake. Against the backdrop of tall, glass-walled skyscrapers was this serene, people-friendly, pet-friendly oasis.

Both Saturday and Sunday mornings were spent on this lovely trail.

Finally, it was off to the amazing BOOK PEOPLE -- a fun, independent bookstore in Austin.

Dan and I were in nerd heaven with Book People on one corner, Waterloo Records on another and Whole Foods Market on the third. (Chicos was on the fourth, but for some reason, that didn't get us too excited.)

We met some amazing Austin writers at the Shoal Creek Saloon for lunch.

What smart, funny people! It was wonderful to finally connect IN PERSON with these talented authors! (And Jen has some amazing news on her blog.)

Whew! That's enough for now. More Austin details in the next blog post . . .


The best part of eating at the Shoal Creek Saloon was the character we met on the way to the bathroom . . .

Then it was off to the party at Whole Foods Market on Lamar Street, which by the way, is like any normal Whole Foods Market, except on STEROIDS. The selection they had was unbelievable! Here is a photo of one of their entrances . . .

There were bands playing, food and drinks being served and this fun birthday cake . . .

And this really happy couple . . .

After all the fun and festivities, we headed off to the largest urban bat colony (right under the bridge outside our hotel) to watch thousands of bats head off into the evening. Whoosh!

It was amazing! (And too dark to photograph. Sorry.)

Thanks to our new friends, Michael and Stephanie for getting us there in time and telling us about all the fun stuff to do in Austin!

After the bats, we visited the Museum of the Weird and hung out at Shakespeare's Pub with our new friends and listened to live music at a club. What a cool vibe. Friendly people. ("Where ya'll from?") Music everywhere. Interesting sightings. (One man stood on a street corner wearing nothing but a diaper and a cowboy hat.)

Sunday morning, Whole Foods Market treated us to the most amazing cooking demonstration. The food was delicious . . . and good for you!

Before heading to the airport, Dan and I walked around the funky part of town called South Congress. Lots of fun places to eat and shop.

Then we had to return home to responsibilities and reality. Bleh!

But this last photo will sum up how grateful we are to the Whole Foods Market family for working so hard to create this magical weekend for us . . .

September 21, 2010

And The WINNERS Are . . .

THANK YOU to the 29 teachers, media specialists and librarians who entered the Welcome Back to School Contest!

Because each of you shared a favorite middle grade or young adult title in the comment section, we all have a great list of books to look forward to reading.

Now, onto the good stuff . . .

The winners of personally autographed hardcover copies of HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL are:

1) SUSAN, whose favorite book is OUT OF THE DUST by Karen Hesse.

2) LIBRARY GIRL, whose favorite book is WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech

And the winner of the GRAND PRIZE of an autographed hardcover copy of HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL, autographed paperback copy of AS IF BEING 12 3/4 ISN'T BAD ENOUGH, MY MOTHER IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT! and a SKYPE visit is . . .

3) JEN MALPHY, whose favorite book is AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS by Gennifer Choldenko.

Winners, please contact me ASAP at dgep (at) hotmail (dot) com to claim your prizes.


September 6, 2010


Teachers, media specialists and librarians . . .

Win one of two personally autographed, hardback copies of HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL for your classroom or library.

Or win the GRAND PRIZE -- A SKYPE visit with the author up to 45-minutes ($200 value) plus a personally autographed, hardcover copy of HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL and an autographed, paperback copy of AS IF BEING 12 3/4 ISN'T BAD ENOUGH, MY MOTHER IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT! for your classroom or library.

To enter, share the title of your favorite middle grade or young adult novel in the comments section below. (I entered the first comment as an example.)

Annoying Rule:

1) One entry per person.

Annoying Request:

1) To reach as many teachers, librarians and media specialists as possible, please blog, tweet, FB, e-mail and send smoke signals about this contest.

HURRY! The contest expires at midnight E.S.T. Monday September 20th (which is my dad's 83rd birthday).

REMEMBER to check back a couple days after the contest ends to see who WON!

September 1, 2010


Whatever you're doing, stop and watch this video:

Chuck Dillon, my niece's former art teacher, was so excited about installing a new floor in his basement, he felt compelled to skate to "The Hustle." (Watch all the way to the end.)

When you're done watching, check out this man's blog. Why? Because he's funny. And because I said so. I mean, really, have I steered you wrong yet?

If Chuck Dillon's being funny, teaching my uber-wonderful niece and proving he's a really bad skater on YouTube isn't enough, he creates art for Highlights for Children and High Five Magazine. How cool is that?!

Thanks, Chuck, for providing today's entertainment!

Oh, one more thing. DO THE HUSTLE!