Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mr. Darcy, Ron Weasley and Willy Wonka All Came Over...

What happens when I get asked to throw a virtual dinner party with my favorite fictional characters AND party games?!

My favorite guest post ever, that's what.

Check out my post on Stacked where you can find out what happens when I gather Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Ron Weasley, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Dolores Umbridge, Turtle Wexler, Harriet M. Welsch, Jamie Fraser and Willy Wonka for an unforgettable evening.

You can also read my twitterview to get my no holds barred view on the absolute horror of first drafts.

I am now off to figure out how I can take this party idea off the page and MAKE IT HAPPEN. Luckily, I have about 10 months until my next birthday.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Otherwise Engaged

Dear Blog,

You'll never guess what happened. Last week...I got engaged!

There was, like, a ring and--even--a golden snitch involved!

I think this might mean he like me likes me.

As you may know, Blog, Graig and I do things like:

Dress up as Cinema's Greatest Bromance.

Strike poses that belong in [what we for some reason think] Vanity Fair [publishes].

And generally act like complete idiots. 


I don't think I can recommend acting like a complete idiot with your future spouse enough.

Also, I realize this means I get to plan my greatest theme party of all: a wedding.

I have a vision. It involves a musical number.

And Muppets.

The bridal party will LOVE. THIS. Especially since you can totally shorten that Fozzie outfit and wear it again.

In short, Blog, I'm very happy, very lucky and very excited.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Birthday Bash #30: The Tridecade Tournament

I turned the big 3-0 this year, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to throw my biggest (and, by far, most complicated) theme party yet.

I thought long and hard about this year's theme but, ultimately, decided that there would be nothing so appropriate as one of the great obsessions that defined my 20s: I'm talking, of course, about Harry Potter.

But this wouldn't just be a Harry Potter party, oh no. This would be the Tridecade Tournament, featuring an elaborate game with rules of my own making (I told you it was complicated).

Now, the thing is, about half of my friends are really into Harry Potter and the other half (pour souls) have never read the books. My goal was to ensure that everyone had a magical time, whether wizard, squib or muggle.

So...first there was:

The Decor

Floating Candles

Appropriate Literary Imbibements
House Banners

Which, of course, gets us to the Sorting:

This is what it looks like when a Dementor gets sorted.

Everyone was sorted into one of the four houses, naturally. I, as the host, remained unsorted and therefore impartial.

You try brewing Polyjuice Potion in your second year and then you talk to me!

And then the games began!

Task One: Physical Challenge

I readily admit that I stole all of the ideas for these games from Minute to Win It.

Here they are attempting to stack 6 dice onto a popsicle stick.
There was also a whole box of Oreos that succumbed to a cookie-stacking-on-the-forehead challenge, and other tasks that involved a variety of items ranging from pantyhose to cereal boxes.

Task Two: Trivia

With categories like Name that Ging and Vocabulary Transfiguration everyone could put their noggin to the test! It should come as no surprise that Ravenclaw did pretty well on this round.

Name that Ging. And, no, I have no idea what face that is I am making. It might be after-effects of the Polyjuice.

Task Three: The Biggest Ham Round

We started off with a British accent challenge which I realized halfway through I could not actually judge because everyone was so good and/or hilarious.

And, finally, the costume contest which was voted on by all party attendants. The winners were:

Luna Lovegood
Wizard Chess Piece
And, for your viewing pleasure, here are some other fantastic costumes:


A witch trying to pass for a Muggle
Professor McGonagall's Patronus
And the ultimate Tridecade Tournament winner was...'re not going to believe this but it was Hufflepuff!!

That's right. The underdogs swept in there at the end by nabbing spots 1 and 2 of the costume contest. (Ravenclaw was leading for most of the game. Slytherin came in last because, as we all know, evil never prospers.)

I think, of all my theme parties, this ended up being my favorite. I really have my friends to thank for being awesomely good sports about all of my mad ideas. It made turning 30 a whole lot easier.

Now...on to figure out what crazy shenanigans I'll have going on next year. I sincerely hope no one thought turning 30 would stop me!

*Special thanks to my friend Julie who pulled a Colin Creevey and took most of the photos you see here (all the good ones are hers!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Love New York: Sleep No More

I moved to New York City when I was just shy of 18 to go to college. When 21-year-old me wrote a letter for 30-year-old me to open, one of the questions I asked myself was whether I still lived in New York. I knew then what I know now: that it's my absolute favorite place in the world and I can't imagine living anywhere else.

How I love New York; let me count the ways. I love that you can be as anonymous or as conspicuous as you want to be; you can even do it depending on your mood. I love that you can wear whatever you want, grubby or outrageous, and barely anyone will give you a second look. I love the history of it, knowing the sheer amount of fascinating people that have walked the streets I'm now walking on. I love its unique beauty, at once grimy and exquisite. All the song lyrics are true, really.

But what I love most is how much unique art and culture is going on around me at every minute of every day. I've sat in the front row as Alan Rickman performed Ibsen in front of me. I've sat in the back row as Daniel Radcliffe sang out to the rafters and I've seen a lot of amazing things in between.

And this is the world's longest intro to talking about one of those amazing things: the theater/dance/interactive art piece Sleep No More, which I recently attended.

The experience takes place at a 5-floor warehouse that has been converted into the fictional McKittrick Hotel. Upon entering, audience members are given a playing card and a mask that looks like this:

For the duration of the 3-hour show, the audience must wear these masks. And then you are set loose upon the five floors, free to roam as you choose, trying to find and follow different actors who are performing various scenes all throughout the space. They are maskless and, mostly, silent (and wearing fabulous vintage garb that spans from the twenties to the forties).

It involves a lot of running around, opening drawers, sometimes being led into private rooms by the actors and more. (I should mention here that it also involves a lot of nudity so it's not meant for children.)

The story is very, very loosely based on Macbeth, which I brushed up on before going to the show. I can tell you that, for the most part, I still had no idea what was going on. But I loved every minute of it. It's such a unique, extraordinary experience...not to mention that my thighs got a great workout running up and down those stairs for three hours.

If you're in the New York area, I highly recommend checking this out. You likely won't see anything like it again!

Monday, December 12, 2011

All I Want for Christmas (Is Not a Macy's Commercial Disguised as a Mariah/Bieber Music Video)

The holiday season is upon us! Do you have a writer in your life that is in desperate need of a present? Here are some ideas for you!

1. This:
It is a well-known fact that writers like Snuggies. How else are we supposed to sit on the couch and type without our arms getting cold?

With this Snuggie, we can not only stay warm but feel like Wonder Woman as we get tortured by our own various neuroses, awkward sentences and characters who refuse to do what we want them to. I am writer, hear me roar. No, seriously, villain, hear me roar and STOP FINDING EXCUSES FOR NOT GETTING IN THE HERO'S WAY.

2. While we're on the subject of bedding:

So, apparently, this is something called the boyfriend pillow. I guess it's supposed to feel like you're cuddling up to your honey?

Romance writers can certainly use it for inspiration. Or mystery/thriller authors can use it for its semblance to a severed body part. I also like the Dexter-esque white gloves. It's a nice touch.

The rest of us can simply use it to sleep. That's that thing where you spend like 6-8 hours of your day not worrying about a deadline or a beta reader or a character arc.

3. This set of three posters:

Always good to remember as a writer  especially when the last chapter you just reread seems to signify the end of your grasp of the English language and plausible plot developments.

For those times when nothing short of magic will help salvage your WIP. Also good for torturing yourself with the realization that the Harry Potter books are so freakin' amazing. And what you just wrote...yeah...

I hate Dawn. That witch.


Obviously perfect for the aforementioned mystery authors but, trust me, any writer has someone they will need to pretend is this therapeutic pen holder that they can use to hold their pen. They can use it to hold their pen over and over again.


Feeling guilty about the whole pen incident? Tell it to Leonard Cohen, Sylvia Plath and Edgar Allan Poe. As crummy or sad as you may be feeling about anything, these three adorable pals can out-morose you anytime. Think of them as your own glum barber-shop quartet! (Morrissey was crying in the bathroom when this photo was taken.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Growing up with a name like Sarvenaz was...interesting. My classmates were baffled, substitute teachers feared me and, mostly, I just wanted to disappear into my chair and change my name to Mary.

I remember complaining to my mom about how hard my name was and asking her if we could change it. She told me no and then said, "Hey, if you ever become famous, you can teach people how to pronounce it. Think about Arnold Schwarzenegger. Do you think his name was easy? But now everyone knows how to say it!"

I'm definitely not famous but I recently did get an opportunity to record the pronunciation of my name for where they have pronunciation guides for all sorts of amazing authors (like Louis Sachar and Libba Bray)!

So, without further ado, if you ever wanted to know how to really say Sarvenaz, here is a very short recording of me pronouncing it:

Oh, and if you were ever curious as to how I got my name, the full story of that is here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

2012 Debut Books I Love: Remarkable, Love & Leftovers, and Under the Never Sky

Since I'm part of the Apocalypsies, I've been lucky enough to get to read ARCs of some of next year's (about to be this year's, oh my!) debut authors.

I really mean it: I've been lucky. Some of these books have completely blown my mind with their awesomeness and I can't wait for them to come out so that the rest of the world can love them too.

Book blogger The Story Siren is running her annual Debut Author Challenge in which she challenges bloggers and readers to read and review 12 YA or MG books that are debuting in 2012. Whether you're participating in the challenge or not, here are just three of my book recommendations.

Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley
1. This is exactly the type of book I would have loved reading as a kid.
2. This is exactly the type of book I love reading as an adult.
Laugh-out-loud funny, oh-so-clever and sneakily filled with so much substance, this story made my heart soar with pure delight.
You'll love this book if you love: Dr. Seuss's sense of the absurd; awesomeness

Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
This was the first novel-in-verse I ever read and, I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about being able to be drawn in by a whole book of poems. There was no need to be skeptical. I devoured this stunningly realistically romance in just a couple of hours. My heart loved, ached, and broke right along with the main character's.
You'll love this book if you love: romance with depth; quick, impactful reads

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
This might just be one of the most beautifully complex examples of worldbuilding I've ever seen that was only matched by the depth of its two main characters. Right from the very beginning, I was hooked on this stunning, page-turning story.
You'll love this book if you love: the action of The Hunger Games and the addictive qualities of Twilight.

And just in case you think I only read three amazing 2012 debuts, think again! I will be featuring more of my favorites on this blog in the coming months.

What do you think? Do any of these titles pique your interest? Or, if you've already read any of amazing were they?!