Take Two

IMG_20121130_132859This week I’m announcing the big news that I’ve been offered a contract by my wonderful publisher, Scholastic, for a second book. Hooray! This book will be a companion book to THE BOY PROJECT: NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS OF KARA MCALLISTER.  So I thought I’d talk a little today about the process so far. My editor, the fabulous Aimee Friedman, and I gave book two a lot of thought. We ultimately decided that Kara’s story has already been told, so I will focus on her best friend, Tabbi Reddy for this book. But readers like Kara, so she will be around a lot in this book too! I’m happy about this decision, since I also like Kara, and her voice came naturally to me.

Readers of the first book will remember that Tabbi has already had a boyfriend, so her journey will be different from Kara’s. Still, she hasn’t found the right boy, so this will be her focus. Like THE BOY PROJECT, this book will have plenty of humor. I’ve already gathered a lot of humorous situations (some courtesy of my 7th grade daughter, and some courtesy of my active imagination) to include. But when researching a book, you can never have too much information. So if anyone reading this thinks of a perfect middle school scenario that just needs to be included in a book, let me know! There will be graphics in this book too… which means I get to doodle, which is always fun. The working title for book two is THE BOY PROJECT TOO: NOTE AND OBSERVATIONS OF TABBI REDDY.

I’ll be sure to update everyone now and then on the process! Writing a novel under a deadline will be a new experience for me. I’m setting daily goals as we head into the holidays and hoping to keep them.

If you haven’t read the THE BOY PROJECT, or if you just want a copy to give to a teen or tween during this gift-giving month, check out Nerdy Chick Jocelyn Rish‘s blog. Not only did she do a post about THE BOY PROJECT which includes an embarrassing moment from my middle school years, she is running a contest to give away a signed copy! All you have to do is leave a comment HERE to enter.



The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Suze Orman

Suze Orman (b. 1951) is one of America’s top financial advisors. She is also a New York Times best-selling author and a promotional speaker. Suze Orman became interested in finances after she borrowed $50,000 to start a bakery and lost it. Since devoting her time to studying finances and subsequently working in finances, Suze has helped countless others manage their money and has brought her own wealth to an estimated thirty six million dollars. She has been named of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes Magazine.  We just begin to touch on her accomplishments here. Visit her website to find out more about this smart, savvy woman.

Suze Orman Quotes

  • People first, then money, then things.
  • In all realms of life it takes courage to stretch your limits, express your power, and fulfill your potential.. it’s no different in the financial realm.
  • We never had it as rough as the kids have it today, … Look at the price of a gallon of gas or a piece of real estate or a college education.
  • Each cent you apply toward diminishing your debt replenishes you.
  • Men and women both have an equal capacity to make money, but they want money for different reasons. Men want money for power and women want it for comfort, and usually not their own comfort, but the comfort of others in their lives.


Shannon Wiersbitzky: Author and Champion of Financial Literacy

According to family legend, Shannon was born with a day planner in one hand. These days that planner is always full. In the early morning, when the rest of the world is still sleeping, Shannon Wiersbitzky writes children’s literature. Her first novel, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, was published in July 2011 by namelos. Her second novel, What Flowers Remember, is due out in 2013.

During the week, Shannon is the Head of Institutional Marketing for Vanguard. In addition to her executive role, she also leads a program called My Classroom Economy (www.myclassroomeconomy.org) which enables teachers to create a mini-economy in their classrooms and teach children key life skills through experiential learning. Both inside and outside of work, Shannon is involved in efforts designed to increase the number of women getting their MBAs and ultimately attain corporate leadership positions.

I was so happy to meet Shannon at the SCBWI NJ conference. Once I found out she was not only a writer, but had brain for math as well, I knew we needed to interview her here. Keep reading to find out more about this wordsmith number cruncher!

If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be? Ditch the long hair sooner! (grin)

Actually, I’d sit my younger self down and say, “Never doubt your abilities. EVER.” I’ve spoken to lots of women, of all ages, and it seems we all have this annoying voice in our heads that says, “Maybe you’re not ______ enough.” Just fill in the blank….smart, thin, talented, driven, creative, loud, beautiful. We’ve all heard it, no matter where we are in our life or our career. When we don’t quiet that voice, it can cause us to miss the most wonderful opportunities. I try to remind myself that all the time, and then I remind other women as well. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way.

Great advice! (Except for ditching the long hair. Ha! My mom cut off all of my hair when I was five and it hasn’t been short since!) Your creative side shows in your writing, like your debut novel, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, which was a Crystal Kite finalist. (Hooray!) But  I bet your nerdy side shows in your writing too. What kind of research do you do for your novels? I definitely Google! For Hammers, I researched home building. I had stacks of pages and images that walked through each step. I also explored lightning, to better understand what it can and can’t do when it strikes. For me, research is fun. Is this my nerdy side showing?

While everything I learn doesn’t get used directly, it all impacts my thought process and therefore, helps shape the story. Sometimes I research one particular topic and happen to stumble upon something else that is exactly right for a story. I love when that happens. Plus, I learn so many interesting things!

Besides research, what’s something you like to do that might be considered a tiny bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? So I asked my husband what I do that’s nerdy and at first he couldn’t come up with anything. I felt flattered for about two seconds. Then he warmed up and I could hardly keep him quiet. Here is the one I agreed with most. I’m a total PowerPoint nerd. Taking information and turning it into something visual that can be easily understood? Love. It. Then sometimes I come home and talk (and talk and talk apparently) about my fabulous reports. Let’s just say my family doesn’t always appreciate PowerPoint the way I do.

Growing up, I was always the girl that loved science and math. In college I majored in Economics and was thrilled to talk about supply and demand curves. I’m sure there’s more than one person out there who thinks that’s nerdy too. But I loved it.

It sounds like you had a healthy, happy, nerdy past! Do you ever give nerdy traits to any of your characters? I honestly never think of characteristics as being nerdy or not. In Hammers, the main character, Delia, is good at math and has excellent penmanship, which some might consider nerdy traits. I think we need all types of characters, in books and in life, to make everything more interesting.

One thing about you that is both nerdy and wonderful, is that you are involved in establishing programs to help students achieve financial literacy. Can you tell us more about this? Sure! I initiated and lead a wonderful program at Vanguard called My Classroom Economy. Designed for grades K-12, it’s free to teachers and students, and enables any classroom to implement a mini-economy. Students each have classroom jobs that earn them a salary. They can also earn bonuses for great schoolwork. Students pay bills, including rent for their desk, and have to track everything using a budget. Savers have the opportunity to pay off their “mortgage” and spend money at monthly classroom auctions. If they save enough, they can even buy other desks and earn rent themselves.

As students get older, their bills become more complex. In middle school the program also introduces insurance and in high school, students can even invest their classroom dollars – picking one of five basic stock and bond allocations – and then watch it grow over the course of more than 30 years.

What I like most is that the entire program is experiential. Kids learn by doing and have fun in the process. The program also provides connections to the Common Core State standards, which is critical for teachers, as well as the National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education develop by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

I love the idea of this program. As a former teacher, I can absolutely see the value in it. Why do you think teaching financial literacy is important to our country?  Most states don’t require any financial education to graduate high school. If the subject isn’t brought up at home (and studies have shown parents find it easier to talk to their kids about drugs than money), kids can leave school not having even basic habits that can help them achieve financial success. It all starts with the ability to organize and track a budget, plan for future expenses, and delay gratification.

In the long run, as young adults, these same kids can find themselves with significant credit card debt, mortgages they can’t afford, and no real savings for retirement. We have to start early, so that by the time they begin earning a paycheck, the mindset of spending less than you earn, and saving the rest, is already a habit.

Can you share a success story about your work with these programs? My Classroom Economy is currently being used by schools around the country. We’re hearing from teachers that their students are really enjoying it. We recently saw this video from North Carolina, which does a great job of capturing the energy that is created in the classroom as well as the learning for the kids.

I hope your program continues to grow! And we look forward to your new book coming out in 2013. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with Nerdy Chick Rules!

Shannon lives in Malvern, Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, and four fish. She is hoping Santa brings her a new dog. You can find out more about Shannon by following the links below.

Giveaway Bonus! Shannon is giving away paperback copy of her first book, The Summer of Hammers and Angels. It is super-easy to enter. Just leave a comment below between now and November 30! This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

Learn: www.shannonwiersbitzky.com

Connect: Shannon Wiersbitzky’s Author page

Read: Handy link to Amazon

Share: Post a review on Goodreads

My Classroom Economy: www.myclassroomeconomy.org


Quotable Nerdy Chick: Clara Barton

Clara Barton (1821 – 1912) founded the American Red Cross. In these post-Sandy days, I think we know what a hugely positive influence she has had on our country, and around the world. Barton spent several years working as a teacher, then in 1854 she became the first woman to become a clerk in the US Patent office.  Later her position was eliminated due to protests over giving a female this job. It’s no surprise that later, when she met Susan B. Anthony, she became involved in the women’s sufferage movement. She also became an activist of civil rights after meeting Frederick Douglas. Barton spent most of her life helping others. Read more about her in this biography.  

Clara Barton Quotes

• I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.

• Everybody’s business is nobody’s business, and nobody’s business is my business.

• The door that nobody else will go in at, seems always to swing open widely for me.

• An institution or reform movement that is not selfish, must originate in the recognition of some evil that is adding to the sum of human suffering, or diminishing the sum of happiness.

• I have an almost complete disregard of precedent and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things always have been done …. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind. I go for anything new that might improve the past.

If everyone agreed with that last quote… oh what a future would lie before us! Onward we go…


During Picture Book Idea Month (or PiBoIdMo, as those in the know call it), participants are asked to come up with new picture book ideas. One of the best way to come up with picture book ideas is to find inspiration through reading other picture books. Therefore, in honor of  PiBoIdMo, we are doing a picture book giveaway!

Inspiration is an evolving thing, and what we can do with inspiration changes over time as well. So the prize here is actually a set of two autographed picture books: my first, Tightrope Poppy, the High-Wire Pig, and my last (or, at least, my most recent) Pirate Princess. Are you excited? Ready to be inspired? I hope so!

There are several ways to enter:

(1) Leave a comment telling me about the best picture book you’ve read in the last two years (just so every answer ins’t Where the Wild things Are)

(2) follow me on Twitter — mention that in a comment

(3) like my author page on Facebook — mention that in a comment

(4) follow this blog (right sidebar) — mention that in a comment

or (5)  follow fellow blogger Kami Kinard’s Facebook author page — mention that in a comment

So, that’s FIVE ways you can enter to win! Just make sure you tell us in the comments which types of entries you’ve submitted. We will select a winner on November 26 (*) so the contest will remain open until November 25. Good luck to everyone!

* Only entries from the US or Canada are eligible to win the autographed books

Dana Alsup: Co-Founder and first President of the Salisbury Quidditch Club

Dana Alsup is awesome. I’ve known that since the moment I met her, and now that I’ve interviewed her, I have empirical evidence. She is AWESOME. Listen to this: In college, she participated in a prison book club where she went to a medium security prison with other students to discuss philosophy and other topics such as race and even women’s rights. People talk about giving back to society in ways like that; Dana actually did it.

Thank you, Dana, for joining us today and being the newest Nerdy Chick. Let’s start with a speed round — tell us some awesome things about yourself.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in history from Salisbury University and a Masters of Library and Information Sciences from University of Pittsburgh.  I love libraries and think the world would be a lesser place without them.

Oh, we here at NerdyChicksRule.com definitely agree with that! But, do go on…

I have a very active imagination and am constantly creating scenarios in my head that will never happen.  Most are about how my skills as a librarian have been overlooked and every place that has ever rejected me as a candidate comes crawling back to me.

I’m a Mama’s girl.  I love my mom and think she’s the coolest lady out there.

My best friend and I dream that one day we’ll have a party planning business.

I’m an avid crafter but never know what I’m doing.  Every sewing project I’ve ever done has been made up as I went along.  Yes, I have given those sewing projects as gifts before.

Christmas is the best time of the year and I start planning and buying gifts starting in August.

Can I join your party planning business, too? What? Now’s not the time to ask? OK, well, then…next question: if you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Hooray for high school crushes!

I think everyone thinks the same thing when it comes to talking to your younger self: don’t spend so much time worrying about what everyone else thinks about you!  I spent far too much time doing that and not enough time actually caring about school.  When I was a senior in high school I only went to school until 10:30 every day.  I told the high school I’d rather work than take more classes so I got an early release to go to my job…my shift didn’t start until 3 pm.  I wanted to look the rebel and fit in, but I am far from a rebel.  I’m the one that always has a band aid in her wallet just in case someone in the vicinity needs it.  (And a side note on band aids, I currently have Cynthia Rowley themed and The Muppets themed band aids in my bathroom).  I was always terrible at math, but I think if I had just put more effort into really understanding it, I wouldn’t be freaked out every time I have to give a tip or figure out how much those shoes would be if they are 30% off.  If I had to write a letter to my high school self, it would go something like this, “Dear Dana, You turn out awesome.  Forget what they think of your style and embrace your love of all things British, books, dinosaurs, and history!  Love, Dana.  P.S.- you end up dating your high school crush.  Yipee!”

Oh, that makes me smile!  How about this: do you have a personal “theme song,” perhaps one that speaks to your inner nerdiness?

I had three roommates in college and I love them dearly.  Whenever we would go to a party and introduce ourselves, I found that everyone would remember their names and never mine.  By the end of the night fellow partygoers would say, “Goodbye Lauren, Goodbye Sarah, Goodbye Corey, Goodbye….”  Then they would start guessing, “Diana?  Donna?  Dina?”  I did not like this.  I hate when people can’t remember my name.  It’s short and simple and two of the letters are the same.  So after a while when someone couldn’t remember my name I would say, “Forgettable Dana”.  I even turned it into a sad little tune when I would say it.  So it became my theme song.  I still sing it from time to time and my boyfriend enjoys teasing me about it.  We always say it would be the saddest sitcom in the world.

A real nerdy tune that always makes me feel good about myself is the Star Wars theme song.  I’ll put it on right now and explain how it makes me feel…I can take on the world!  To be more specific, the Empire.  It makes me feel good.  I really enjoy listening to it in the car because then I pretend that my car is the Millennium Falcon, which is the best!  I also feel like my brother is with me.  He’s a huge Star Wars fan and I can’t even count the amount of times we have watched the movies together.  So there’s a bit of nostalgia going on as well.

Here’s a secret: sometimes I pretend I’m on the Milennium Falcon, too. But usually that somehow involves Han Solo. But I won’t ask if that’s true for you, too…Let’s shift gears and get a little serious for a bit. You’re a professional librarian! What are your favorite things to read?

I am technically just trained to be a professional librarian.  My job title is Library Media Paraeducator.  No one knows what a “paraeducator” is outside of the school district I work in.  I’m the assistant in an elementary school library.  There is never a dull moment in an elementary school.  Nor a quiet one.


I love reading so many things!  But my favorites are nonfiction, specifically history and biographies, and mysteries.  I studied history as an undergrad, focusing on Colonial and Revolutionary American history.  This does not mean that I get all American history trivia questions right, but it does mean that I can yell about how Ben Franklin is not actually a good man at all.  Yes, yes, he did lots of good things, but my history friends and I like to claim that he invented adultery.  I once said this to a tour group visiting Ben Franklin’s gravesite.  They were not amused.  My mom and I snickered.  Back to books, my favorite series is Harry Potter.  Those books changed my life an brought my nerdiness to a whole new level.  Looking at my bookshelf right now, I see Junie B. Jones, Bossy Pants, Candide, The Journals of Captain John Smith, a Choose Your Own Adventure, Man’s Search of Meaning, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, and Sherlock Holmes.  Sherlock is one of my all time favorite characters.  He is just amazing and I like to pretend that I am him sometimes.  My favorite book is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I can never get enough of that book.  I also love The Great Gatsby.  I had to read that in high school and didn’t care for it at all.  Then I read it again in college for my 1920’s lit class and fell in love!  In my opinion, it is one of the best books ever written and I recommend it to everyone.

How do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)?

Girls and women in literature today are amazing.  There are far more role models and characters featuring women then there ever have been before.  Working in a library I see so many books that embrace who women are and who they want to be.  I see many more children’s books than I do adult, but that’s where we need to start when it comes to empowering girls.  I love seeing books that show it’s okay to be the girly girl, like Fancy Nancy.  Nancy is an amazing character that loves being girly and fancy and expressing herself through using fancy words, mainly French words, and actions.  If you feel fancy, be fancy!

I love seeing books now that have groups of kids where girls are the leaders.  So many books show boys as the one who knows what to do and they will get it done and aren’t you lucky, girls, that he was here?  Harry Potter would have been dead without Hermione.  She did all the research and had those boys ready to go in case of an emergency.  I bet she also carries band aids in her wallet.

You are absolutely right — nerdy chicks do awesome things. How about you — what is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick?

Co-Founder and first President of the Salisbury Quidditch Club.  My friend Emilie and I started the club our senior year of college.  I had seen other colleges online and my brother said I had to do it.  It was the nerdiest thing I have ever done.  And the greatest!  It was amazing!  I would play again if I had a team to join.  It is just like the game in Harry Potter novels except for we never leave the ground and the snitch is attached to a person.  In fact, the snitch is a tennis ball in a tube sock hanging out of the back of someone’s shorts.  We run with brooms between our legs and try to get the quaffle through the hoops without being hit by a bludger.  I have my own broom still.  it hangs in my room above my closet.  I graduated college in 2009 and it is still a club.  It’s even on my resume.

Tell us a four-word descriptive phrase you would like people to associate with you.

Really Effing Awesome, Dude.

Umm, see above. Any other phrases?

Mrs. Justin Timberlake = Me.

Always a lady, sometimes.

Awesome answers, as expected. Now tell us this: if someone gave you $75 and you could only spend it on you, what would you do with it?

Shoes!  I love shoes!  I also have weird feet- I have bunions at the old age of 25 so now I have to buy expensive shoes that won’t hurt me.  I also buy shoes that are just for occasions where I’ll be sitting a lot, like gold glitter flats!

I’d buy shoes, too! I knew we were soul mates!  OK, last question. Are you ready? Yes?

Can you tell us one thing you buy at the grocery store that you cannot live without?

My first thought is tampons, but I can get those at Target, too.  The hardest part of the grocery store for me to walk by is the cookie aisle.  I love cookies.  Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster is actually based on me.  My favorite cookies are Lu’s Pim’s cookies, specifically raspberry.  I will not share them and they will be gone within 20 minutes of me having them.  I don’t even pretend that I can keep them for any longer than that.  It’s impossible.

Who doesn’t love cookies? And after this interview, who doesn’t love awesome Nerdy Chick Dana Alsup?

Thanks again, Dana, for stopping by. You get a cookie the next time I see you, unless of course I can’t find you or I forget. (Who’s nerdy enough to know the source of that quote?)

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Belva Lockwood

In honor of the upcoming election, this week’s Quotable Nerdy Chick is one of my personal favorites: Belva Lockwood. It’s sad to me how many people have never heard of Belva. She was such a fascinating woman that I believe she should be a household name.

In the United States in 1884, only men were allowed to vote. But Belva decided that she would take a bold but legal step: she ran for president! After all, the law only prohibited women from voting, not from getting votes. And, believe it or not, Belva got votes! She ran an effective campaign and actually convinced hundreds of men to vote for a woman for president. But don’t think they were sympathy votes! Belva’s run for office was based on experience and merit: unlike many women of the time, she went to college, then to law school, and even argued cases before the Supreme Court.

Quotes from Belva Lockwood:

“If nations could only depend upon fair and impartial judgments in a world court of law, they would abandon the senseless, savage practice of war.”

“I know we can’t abolish prejudice through laws, but we can set up guidelines for our actions by legislation.”

“I am, and always have been a progressive woman, and while never directly attacking the conventionalities of society, have always done, or attempted to do those things which I have considered conducive to my health, convenience or emolument.”

File:Belva Ann Lockwood - Brady-Handy.jpg“The glory of each generation is to make its own precedents.”

“I have been now fourteen years before the bar, in an almost continuous practice, and my experience has been large, often serious, and many times amusing. I have never lacked plenty of good paying work; but, while I have supported my family well, I have not grown rich. In business I have been patient, painstaking, and indefatigable. There is no class of case that comes before the court that I have not ventured to try . . . either civil, equitable, or criminal; and my clients have been as largely men as women. There is a good opening at the bar for the class of women who have taste and tact for it.”

Learn more about Belva at the National Archives or check out my book, BALLOTS FOR BELVA.

Tara Lazar: Picture Book Writer and PiBoIdMo Creator

In honor of PiBoIdMo (you do know what that is, don’t you?), have we got a treat for you. The fabulously nerdy and brilliantly fabulous Tara Lazar is joining us today for a special bonus interview. Let’s hear what this Nerdy Chick has to say…


I’ve known Tara for several years through NJ-SCBWI. Not only is she a great writer and a super person, she’s also as into shoes and fashion as I am. Tara’s first picture book, The Monstore is forthcoming from Aladdin in June 2013, with two more picture books following soon after. She has inspired hundreds of picture book authors with a program she created called PiBoIdMo or Picture Book Idea Month. Visit her blog (http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/)to read more about it… or to join up!

Thanks for joining us Tara! We’ll start off with a question we ask everyone: If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be? Baggy pants and permed hair is not a good look.

I remember that look! At least we can say it looked better on the chicks than the dudes! You’re a professional writer – can you share some of your favorite things to read? I love short stories. I subscribe to One Story and I buy the Greatest American Short Stories anthology every year. But I also read a lot of novels, both for adults and kids. I prefer quirky stories with a sprinkling of magic—nothing too fantastical or surreal, just enough magic so it’s still plausible. And who can forget picture books? I read at least two hours every day.

Wow. That’s a lot of reading, but everyone says reading makes us better writers. Since you are so well read, how do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)? When I was growing up, I only remember Judy Blume books as speaking to me directly as an adolescent girl. Now there are hundreds of books aimed at young girls’ unique experiences: having an autistic sibling, losing a parent, wanting to excel in a talent, being a super-genius, coming from a poor family, dealing with bullies… The choices are endless. There’s a book to ease concerns over every embarrassing and mysterious dilemma inside every girl. She can feel confident knowing she’s not alone, giving her the courage to be herself.

I didn’t look so good, so Tara started grooming me — I can always count on her to have my back!

I agree. Thankfully, there are more books than ever for girls these days. Besides reading, what’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? Teaching! I love to teach new writers; I enjoy sharing my knowledge. I get a kick when I see their faces light up in an “aha” moment.

I also love studying rocks and minerals, Hubble space telescope images, literature of the 1920’s, and Discover Magazine. I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a teen. C’mon, discovering buried treasure for a living? Awesome!

Do you have a favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick? I was on the high school physics team. We even had a cheer: P-H-Y-S-I-C-S, physics, physics, yes, yes, YES! (OK, I didn’t say it was a good cheer.) I also scored leading roles in my HS plays and directed the senior year play. I was a drama geek, too. This was BEFORE “High School Musical” and “Glee”, when it was really uncool. But I didn’t care, I loved it.

Hahaha! There’s probably a reason the physics club isn’t the cheer squad, right? Thanks again for showing us your nerdy side! And may this be the biggest PiBoIdMo ever!

To find out more about Tara, visit her blog (taralazar.com), like her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/authortara ) or follow her @taralazar on Twitter.