Thursday, April 26, 2007

Meet me in Pasadena!


I will be at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena on May 3rd at 7pm signing copies of A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss. If you are in the area, stop by and say hello! I can't wait to see you there!

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Dan Mathews, Committed: A Rabble Rouser's Memoir



Last year I interviewed Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA. She wrote a fantastic book called Making Kind Choices which made me stop and think about setting a good example for my kids. I began learning more about how animals are used and treated. Whenever I'm faced with an ethical animal related dilemma, I stop and think- what would Pam do?

Thanks to PETA I haven’t eaten at KFC in over a year (read more here), and am trying to make better choices, even if that means simply passing up a pair of J. Lo track-pants on clearance at TJ Maxx. She uses fur! How could anyone support that?

Dan Mathews, vice president and mastermind behind some of PETA’s craziest attention grabbing stunts, has written a book called Committed: A Rabble Rousers Memoir. I enjoyed every minute of it. He’s so funny and endearing. The book details his youth and adulthood, becoming an activist, working for People For Ethical Treatment of Animals. I would highly recommend you grab this book and check out PETA's awesome, very informative and friendly site. PETA may have pulled some pretty outrageous stunts but you know what? Those I have met who either work for or are PETA members are so kind and compassionate. They really inspire me.


I was teased so much- being tall, skinny, wearing braces and a headgear- that I still carry around the pain of my elementary/high school torture to this day. Does any of that chubby little boy still reside in the smart, handsome, extremely successful, grown up known as Dan Mathews?

Yes, definitely, the way you are regarded by your peers as a child and young teen is the way you always see yourself in many ways. I may have dropped 40 pounds when I turned vegetarian at 16 and found myself hustling the streets then modeling in Italy at 18 but I always felt like I was about to learn any achievment was some big mistake or a joke.

I still feel like the outsider in everything I do and I feel it's given me an edge, as I don't take anything for granted. I've always seen life as a black comedy and writing has always been an outlet in which I could make some sense of it.Describe yourself in five words...Spontaneous, reliable, fun, irreverent, and of course committed.


PETA has a reputation of being completely overzealous and wild. Are you ever worried that people judge you before actually meeting you?

I learned in grade school never to be too concerned about the way others see you or judge you. I don't blame people for thinking us PETA people are over the edge, because that's how we often need to act to get companies that test on animals or fur designers to take notice and change their ways. They don't do it out of the goodness of their heart, but rather because they are wary of our protests. Sometimes it really pays to have a bad reputation!

Have you gone to a high school reunion? There must be some satisfaction knowing that the boy who was ridiculed and teased is now a force to be reckoned with.

I did go to my 10th high school reunion just for laughs, and found that most of the cute popular kids had grown fat and bald, and they all asked me if I had made some pact with the devil to change my appearance from the punk whale I used to be. I told them it had to do with my diet: seitan, not Satan!


If more people knew how animals were treated, do you think they would stop eating meat or wearing fur, etc? Is the fur wearing public ignorant of how many critters die to make one coat or don't they care?


If slaughterhouses had glass walls most people would go vegetarian, and if fur wearers could see the the pathetic, flapping eyelashes of the raccoons taking their last breath after being skinned alive for a fashion whim they'd switch to fake fur or abandon the Bigfoot look altogether.

I like those who are quirky, upbeat, kind, and have a great sense of humor. What characteristics do you look for in a friend?


I look for people who are fun and honest, I don't care so much about their politics or if they understand animal issues or might be gay like me. I love the thrill of evolving from a contrary influence and seeing others evolve a bit from my influence.


What is it like to hang out with some of the biggest celebrities in the world? Do the rich and famous ever impress you?


I'm impressed not by who someone is but by how they treat people. I've been lucky to become friends with people like Pam Anderson, Pink, Paul McCartney, and Chrissie Hynde, who see their place in the world and want to use whatever power they have to help push society in a better direction. Selfless celebs are hard to find but they are out there.


If we cut down on our meat consumption, how would that have a positive effect on the environment?


Yes, the meat trade is the #1 polluter of the environment. Waste from factory farms contaminates groundwater, thats why places like the Chesapeake Bay, which is said to have looked like the Carribean a hundred years ago, now looks like a wasteland. Chemicals in the tons of chicken, pig and cow crap feed the waterways each year ruin bays, rivers and lakes. Learn more at GoVeg.com.


Let's talk about gay rights. What will it take for all people to be treated with kindness, respect, love? Are you involved with any groups like the Human Rights Campaign or GLAAD?


I became an animal activist as a kid when the bullies who gay bashed me began mutilating the alley cats behind our dumpy apartment house. I have always been involved in gay rights groups, especially GLAAD, which highlights important issues like coming out and being comfortable with yourself, and the way gays are portrayed in the media, which affects all of society. I'm not so into the gay marriage fight or the gays in the military debate. I consider it a privilege not to get married or fight in a war I disagree with. I think the issue of bullying is much more important to address and affects everyone.


When you meet people with opposing views, do you keep an open mind?


Sure, I understand not everyone was raised in the same way and everyone’s experience leads them to respond to issues differently.


What do you want readers to have learned after reading your book?


I hope they learn that you can live your dreams if you follow your heart in life, not just your wallet.


If every person reading his interview would commit to a cause they feel passionate about and encourage friends to do the same, then maybe we take steps towards having a better, cleaner, more peaceful world. What do you most want to see happen within the next few years?

I hope more people see that you can devote time to a cause and not become a complete bore! People need to take more chances and live life for real rather than as a voyeur; toss out your tv, shut off your computer and go out and meet interesting people - they are all around.


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Monday, April 23, 2007

Hip Tranquil Chick, Kimberly Wilson



This is the kind of book I like to page through with a cup of tea by my side during the silence of my day. At night I pull out a good novel or memoir but during the day I need the positive vibes and spiritually renewing energy from a book like HipTranquil Chick, A Guide to Life on and Off the Yoga Mat by Kimberly Wilson. I find that books like this keep me in a positive state of mind and helps to replenish my creative energy which burns like a candle due to all the responsibilities of being an adult. You know how it is!



What a calming, soothing, yoga filled treasure this is! Kimberly features adorable sketches of a hip chick doing yoga poses that you can do in the comfort of your own home. She suggests lots of music and books, inspiring quotes and tips ( plus "Omwork" at the end of each chapter) to nurture and encourage the reader.




When you have a bad day, how to you unwind and get in positive state of mind?


I jump into a hot bath, sip on some herbal tea, and take a moment to regroup. This, coupled with some journal writing or yoga, is my favorite way to let go and find some tranquility among chaos.


Why do people always do yoga without shoes or socks?

Yoga is done barefoot for good footing on a yoga mat. Also, the poses would be tricky with shoes, especially kitten heels, flip flops or your favorite stilettos. Finally, the feet are quite sensitive and, according to the art of reflexology, certain parts of our feet relate to certain parts of the body. So by giving our feet a work out on the yoga mat, you are also stimulating other organs.



Since doing yoga, how has your body and mind changed?

Considering I'm a Type A gal, yoga has had an amazing effect on my overall psyche. I'm calmer, able to connect more with my body, and have an amazing outlet for exercise. I've always been one to have "work out" on my to-do list but I struggled with making it happen as hitting the gym is not my cup of tea. Once I discovered yoga, that all changed as I crave the practice mentally and physically and feel so much better after practicing AND enjoy it while doing it - that is key. Yoga has also provided me with a sense of empowerment that feels amazing - as holding up ones body weight in a forearm stand is not for the faint of heart. By incorporating meditation into my repertoire, I've found my overall outlook on life to be more grounded and less reactionary. Yoga really does a body good!


You feature many inspiring quotes throughout the book. Which are most meaningful to you?

My favorite is the one by Anais Nin - And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. I am a huge Anais Nin fan and feel that this quote reinforces the importance of going after your dreams no matter how scary they are - as nothing is more scary or painful than staying in the status quo.


I love clothes! Tell me about the TranquiliT collection.

I, too, have a passion for fashion, along with convenience. So, unable to combine the two and tired of running around in leggings (before they were hip again) and t-shirts, I created my own. I needed clothing that I could practice and teach in, run around town in, and head to a date or business meeting in - thus TranquilliT was created. TranquiliT began in 2002 with t-shirts and yoga pants, evolved in 2004 into four fabulous tops, and now we have an entire collection of tops, tunics, dresses, accessories, pants, jumpsuits, and more.

In 2005 I discovered bamboo fabric and was immediately smitten. Now we produce mainly with eco-friendly fabrics such as bamboo, organic cotton, and soon-to-be-added soy! Today a yogini from the studio stopped by to share with me how much she was loving her new tres tunic and how she was able to wear it to work, to practice, and out on a date. It's been fun to see the TranquiliT clothing line evolve into a collection that is also resonating with others. We hope to add a maternity and plus size line shortly.


You're in Washington DC, have any famous politicians come in to your studio for a few sun salutations?

Not yet.


How long did it take for you to learn all the positions and everything about the practice of yoga?

I'm continually learning something new each time I hit the mat. My practice and knowledge of the practice grows daily. To supplement my learning, I take one teacher training a year and am about to embark on a one-month one in upstate New York. There is so much to learn about this ancient 5000-year-old practice and I love absorbing Western teachers' perspective of this divine yogic journey.



How would you describe yourself in five words?

Entrepreneur, designer, teacher, writer, activist


What is the last book you read? What are some spiritual books that you could recommend to me?

I recently finished Julia Cameron's book A Creative Memoir. Oh, I love, love, love books and have my favorites listed here.

Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

Great question considering I just recently did my 5-year plan. It was odd to think about my life in 2012 but it was also insightful. Here are a few of my thoughts, I'd like to: have my second book out (still determining what this will be); have a larger studio space in Dupont Circle; be taking at least one day off a week; have a condo in the lower east side of NYC; have a tea certification and small, cozy tea house; offer more workshops nationally to expand the hip tranquil chick community; still be doing ongoing podcasts and possibly vidcasts; be happy and healthy and surrounded by positive pals.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron


The worst job I ever had was working at The Limited at Paramus Park Mall in New Jersey. I was positioned at the door as a "greeter" you know, the annoyingly peppy person who jumps on you as soon as you enter, saying something like this : "Hi! Welcome to the Limited! Do you know that our color block shirts are on sale today and that we have a special on stir-up pants? Let me show you where they are!"

After only a few months, I couldn't handle being the "greeter" for one second longer. I swore that was the last job I would ever get in retail.
Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Teiger and Barbara Barron is a fabulous book that helps narrow down what careers are not for you based on your personality type. For example, as an INFP person (introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving) sales are not for me. I could not be a mathematician either. Or a preschool teacher. Jobs that suit my personality type include artist, writer, novelist...we can stop there, I found my niche.

The book includes tips on Pathways to Success and Possible Pitfalls of each personality type. If you aren't quite sure where you fit in or if you want to learn more about yourself, check out this book. It will help you narrow down what you are good at and which careers will be a match for you.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Appearing Live! Nude!




Okay maybe not nude, but LIVE! I will be at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena on May 3rd at 7pm. If you live in the Southern California area, please drop by! I hear the store is amazing and I am so looking forward to the event.

The details, click here.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lisa Lutz, The Spellman Files


While I was on vacation, this book arrived on my doorstep. Our neighbor who was pet sitting, let my Great Dane, Lola, roam around the house where she found The Spellman Files looking irresistible on the kitchen table. Lola, being enormous, only had to rest her chin on the table in order to get this tasty treat (still in the packaging) for a mid afternoon snack. I returned home to this delightful novel minus about an inch of the spine. The side of the book has been nibbled but thank goodness not a page was missing!

I loved The Spellman Files from page one, it's a mystery and a comedy. You will laugh out loud in parts, her descriptions are so real. I totally get her humor- Lisa and I could be best friends because we would laugh and laugh. When I say this book is quirky, I mean it as a compliment. I love quirky and humorous.

Here's the lowdown. I'm keeping it brief so that I remain vague and ambiguous: Isabel wants out of her family's PI firm. She is twenty- eight and still living at home, where nothing can be kept secret. Her parents and sassy fourteen- year old sister can listen in on conversations and track her comings and goings. Izzy has been working for her parents since she was twelve and just can't seem to leave. Just when she plans to quit working for her parents and move out, they ask her to crack one last case...

Check out Lisa's website here and The Spellman Files website which is awesome, here.



What were you doing last Tuesday night around eight p.m.?

If my memory serves me correctly, I was at my first book reading/signing ever. I was a nervous wreck. But it was also a lot of fun.


Your biography says that you are from Southern California. How evasive of you. Where exactly in Southern California are you from?

I’m really into being vague. I grew up in Los Angeles. That’s the city it says if you mail something to my childhood home. Considering how big LA is, it still seems evasive, I think.

The book is really funny, I chuckled, guffawed and giggled all the way through. Do you consider yourself to be a humorous person off paper? If we were to meet for drinks, would you have me rolling around, clutching my sides in a fit of laughter?

Thank you. That’s the compliment I crave the most. I’m not sure how funny I am, but people do seem to enjoy drinking with me. I’m more of an inside joke person. In fact, I see the humor in SPELLMAN as being about letting people into another world and in on the joke. It’s not the same as wit, which can exist without all that background.

How do you like to spend your time when you aren't writing?

I have NO IDEA. The day passes and I can’t for the life of me remember what I’ve done.


The Spellman Files is going to be made into a movie, you are living my dream. Not about the Spellman Files per se, but having my own book turned into a film. Who can you see playing Isabel, Uncle Ray or Rae? I adored the character of Rae, she was hilarious.

Other people think about this a lot more than I do. So I will say that at least four separate people have mentioned Zooey Deschanel to me as Isabel and I do think she’d be great. I think there are a lot of actresses that would be fantastic though. I think Uncle Ray would be the most fun to cast—Jeff Bridges, Alan Arkin, Bill Murray. Rae will be the hardest.


Did you ever document your ex-boyfriends parting lines like Isabel? What a great idea, if I had read this book twenty years ago, I would have begun journaling about all those exes and their lame excuses.

It’s not a habit of mine, but once after someone gave me a lengthy explanation for a “break-up” (that sounds more dramatic than it was), I reduced it to one simple line that I found very funny. That line is almost verbatim in the book.

Do you ever Google old boyfriends or classmates to see what, if anything, they are doing?

I Google everything and everyone.

Do you consider yourself successful? What does success mean to you- is it having a best selling novel, writing a screenplay that becomes a movie, having a family or lots of money in the bank?

I have always wanted one thing out of life. To make a living as a writer. I never even bothered being ambitious about anything else. So, yes. I do feel successful. I got precisely what I wanted. It was a long struggle and I feel like it would be really sad if I weren’t completely happy about it. And I’m freaking unbelievably happy.

Where was the last place you went on vacation?

It was last year. I took my first ever “family vacation” as an adult. My mom, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin and his wife all took a road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. It was the weirdest contrast ever. Sadly, after the decadence of Vegas, everyone started whining about the hotel at the Grand Canyon, which was pretty much a glorified log cabin. Nature is great, but if you’ve had every whim catered to for the previous 72 hours, you’re kind of like, ‘eh, big hole in the ground.’ It’s terrible, I know. We should have done the trip backwards.

What can we look forward to in the next installation of The Spellman Files?

The second book is about obsession. I know, I’m being evasive again.



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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Kristin Harmel, The Blonde Theory


Years and years ago, I went out with this guy named Michael Prince. He drove a white BMW, wore argyle sweaters and resembled Jimmy Neutron. After we went out to dinner and had nothing in common, he asked my best friend on a date and told her "Dumb blondes aren't my type." She was brunette. Draw your own conclusions.

In The Blonde Theory, Harper Roberts is a successful patent attorney who can't find a guy who isn't intimidated by her career. So smart and successful is Harper, that she begins to think her career is standing the way of her and a man. She and her best girlfriends concoct a plan where she will look and act like a dumb blonde to see if men are more attracted to the dumbed down version of herself. She dresses like a Las Vegas hooker and hopes for the best.

Sure, men pant after her padded bras, plunging necklines and short skirts but is acting like a ditz going to help find her true love? Kristin's book is humorous and fun. I read this on vacation and think it's a great spring read for those who enjoy fun fiction.

What is the craziest thing you have done to impress a guy?

Oh boy. Usually whenever I try to impress a guy, I fall flat on my face. Literally, in some cases! I think I’ve mostly grown out of the phase of feeling like I have to change myself to make a guy fall for me (I say mostly because I am certainly still guilty of doing so sometimes . . . I recently brought a guy I like on a short business trip with me, and I proceeded to chatter like a moron for the entire three-hour drive because I really wanted him to like me. Instead, I think I scared him away!). But in the past, I’ve done ridiculous things such as flying to the ends of the earth to see a musician I used to date (as if me coming to see him all the time would make him like me more).

Generally, my silly, impress-the-guy routine just includes me giggling a lot and chattering nonstop, mostly because I am nervous! I think that when I really like someone, I tend to try too hard. I could really learn a lesson from the main character in my own book!


Have you ever taken your blonde locks darker in order to be taken more seriously?

Nope. I’ve never dyed my hair. In a way, I sort of like it when people look at me and expect one thing – and I can surprise them simply by being me!


The book reminds me of Sex and the City combined with How to Lose a Guy In Ten Days. What inspired the book? And is there any movie talk yet?

Well thank you! I love Sex and the City, so that’s quite the compliment!
I got the idea for the book after having breakfast with one of my good friends one day a few years ago. She has a high-up, very successful position in a national sports organization, and she was lamenting the fact that it was very difficult to find guys who could look past her success and “threatening” job to see her as a normal woman they’d want to date. “Most guys don’t even try,” she said with a sigh.
As we talked about how frustrating it was to be rejected before a guy got to know us – as if we were being punished for pursuing our career dreams – I started to think, “Wow, this would make a good book.” Over the next year, I began to notice that this was a recurring theme in many of the conversations I had with successful female friends. What would happen, I began to wonder, if one of these successful girls tried to dumb herself down to attract guys? THE BLONDE THEORY was born!

As for movie talk, I have a fantastic film agent out in Hollywood, and he has been shopping the book around. My fingers are crossed that something will happen!


You live in Orlando. I was just there, we could have met up at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede! Have you ever been to Gatorland? What touristy things do you enjoy doing?

Cool! How did you like my city? Too bad I didn’t know you were here! I live about five minutes from Universal Studios and twenty from Disney World. I have annual passes to both Universal parks and all four Disney parks, and spend a lot of time visiting them.
My favorite is Disney’s Epcot, the theme park with a “world showcase” of pavilions from a dozen different countries. Each fall, they have an amazing Food & Wine Festival, where there are wine seminars and cooking demonstrations all day every day and concerts from bands from the 60s, 70s and 80s each night. During the festival, I’m usually there two or three days a week (for a few hours at a time) for wine tastings and concerts. Epcot also hosts a Flower & Garden Festival in the spring. It’s lots of fun too! Aside from that, I love going to the Magic Kingdom for the nostalgia, Disney’s MGM Studios for the rides and shows, and Universal’s Islands of Adventures for the rides.
I can see the Universal fireworks from my balcony, which is lots of fun, and I often meet friends at a great restaurant called Seasons 52, where we can see the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Sea World fireworks across a big lake. There’s also a Disney restaurant called The California Grill, which is on the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best view of fireworks in the world!


What are some of your all time favorite chick-flicks?

Ooh, great question! I love Love Actually, Notting Hill, Sliding Doors and Bridget Jones’s Diary. I also think that Finding Neverland, Titanic, Amelie, Paris Je T’Aime and About a Boy were great female-oriented films, but I’m not sure they all qualify as chick flicks. I just saw Music & Lyrics, that new Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore movie, and I really liked it too!

Which songs would you chose for the soundtrack of your life?

Another great question! I think it would include Here Comes The Sun (The Beatles), Something (The Beatles), All You Need Is Love (The Beatles), the Superman theme song (I was obsessed with that movie as a kid, and it still gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it . . . plus I’m still looking for my Superman!), 100 Years (by Five For Fighting – what a moving song!), Maybe I’m Amazed (by Paul McCartney – it’s such a sweet, simple love song), Change Your Mind (by Sister Hazel – a great song about why you should always be yourself), Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper), I’ll Be (by Edwin McCain – I’d love to be loved that way) and Ironic (by Alanis Morissette – because sometimes my life is pretty darned ironic). It would also have to include Can’t Behave (by my friend Courtney Jaye) and I Can’t Stop You Now (by my friend Ben Bledsoe). I’m sure there are several more songs I’m forgetting!


Do you think (generally speaking of course) that women try harder to impress men rather than the other way around?


Hmm. I think it really depends on the person. I think that in general, men and women try to impress each other in very different ways. I wish that we could all be comfortable being ourselves without feeling like we had to jump through hoops to impress people. I’m guilty of doing that myself, of course. But wouldn’t life – and dating – be easier if we could always be ourselves and thus attract the right people?

In the book, you mention one of my favorite cosmetic brands, Tarte (check out my http://www.hellodollface.com/ site if you like makeup). What are some of your favorite cosmetics?

Ooh, I love Tarte! That’s why I had to mention it – I use their products all the time! Don’t you love their cheekstains? They also have awesome bronzer and amazing lipglosses. Their names are the cutest!
Their lipglosses come in pairs and have famous couple names. Some of my favorite shades are: Jake & Samantha (formerly called Carrie & Big!), Lois & Clark, and Daisy & Gatsby. Plus, do you know the story of their founder? She’s pretty amazing . . . Her name is Maureen Kelly, and she’s just in her early 30s. With her husband’s encouragement, she left her career (psychology) in 2000 and, with no experience in the industry, decided to strike out on her own to found a cosmetic line, something she had always dreamed of. “Life is too short not to do what you love,” her husband Mark told her. He didn't know at the time just how true his words were. A year later, he was one of the victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Maureen briefly considered giving up her dream, but she knew that it would be a way in which she could honor his memory, so she stuck with it and worked through her grief. Now, Tarte is growing exponentially, and Maureen donates a very high percentage of the company’s proceeds to charities, many of them benefiting post-9/11 New York. Isn’t that amazing?

My other favorite cosmetics include Bare Minerals (for light mineral foundation), DiorShow mascara, concealer from The Balm, Nars blush in Oasis, and Vincent Longo lip stain in Liquid Kiss. I usually put on a bit of lip stain under the Tarte glosses. I discovered Yves Rocher Rehydration moisturizer on a recent trip to Paris and use that every morning and night now too!

When you were a little girl, what did you think you would be doing as an adult? Is your life what you thought it would be? And where will you be in five years? What's the five year plan, Kristin?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. Well, actually, first I wanted to be a singer. Then I realized that the fact that I couldn’t sing might stand in my way. So writing has been my career goal for as long as I can remember. I also write for magazines (including People and Glamour), and to be honest, I thought I’d still be doing that full-time at this stage in my career. I’m thrilled to be writing books too! (pssst, I found this article written by Ms. Harmel)
As for the five-year plan, wow! Well, I hope to still be writing books – hopefully two a year. My first YA novel comes out in January, so I hope to do more writing for teens in the future too. I hope to continue writing women’s fiction, and I’d also love to try my hand at screenwriting, but I realize that it's a very different craft that I will have to learn.
I can tell you that next year, I have my first teen novel (When You Wish – from Random House – Jan. 2008) and my third women’s fiction novel (The Art of French Kissing – Warner Books/5 Spot – Feb. 2008) coming out, and in 2009, I have a second teen novel from Random House scheduled. I also have an idea for my next women’s fiction novel that I hope to pitch to my editor at Warner Books soon, so hopefully I’ll be scheduled for the next two years! I would also love to write middle grade mysteries – along the lines of the Nancy Drew series I grew up loving – so perhaps I’ll be able to branch into that at some point too.
Check out www.KristinHarmel.com to stay updated on what I'm doing! I just love to write and feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do this for a living!

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