1. My boyfriend and I started out as platonic roommates before we got together. It took about a month. Now we’re approaching six years together. Good thing it worked out or that could have been an uncomfortable situation.
2. In high school, I filled at least ten notebooks with song lyrics I wrote. Yet, I was never in a band.
3. I have an irrational fear of fish. I had some traumatic fish experiences growing up, but they’re not really the kind where someone could sympathize with why I’m afraid. I don’t eat fish, and I have to close my eyes when I see one on TV like on Survivor. I constantly worry I’m going to have to animate a fish for my day job. I think I’d have to quit.
4. I’ve attended all kinds of camp, each for several years. Day camp. Sleep-away camp. And Travel Camp which is like a combination of teen tour and day camp. We always went on a trip, some were daily excursions to boardwalks or great adventure, but we also went on overnight trips ranging from two days (Canada) to a full week (Atlanta Olympics). Then I became a camp counselor for several years and ultimately achieved my dream: Color War general. I was notorious for painting the most breathtaking plaques, which are still proudly displayed in the lobby. I even painted the plaques when I was a camper at sleep-away.
5. My dad is an eye doctor and sometimes I think that makes me an expert in eyes as well. I often try to diagnose people when they complain of an eye ailment.
6. In high school, I was CEO of my own web design company called Webolutionary Design. I did all the graphics and some of the coding. My friend Jeremy helped with the coding. And my dad got us clients by displaying an ad in his office. We got paid well. Much better after-school job than flipping burgers!
7. I also compiled several e-zines devoted to my favorite bands (Bush and Veruca Salt) while I was in high school. I had over 40,000 subscribers at one point, and Veruca Salt once dedicated a song to me at their concert because I gave them a scrapbook of one of the issues including drawings I made. The lead singers still remember me today when I go to their concerts (though one is more involved with babies than music these days).
8. When I was really little, I had an imaginary friend named either "Mandie" or "Melissa" depending on which day you asked me. She had some magical powers, but most importantly she could walk through lava. Which, let me tell you, was incredibly useful growing up in NJ where no volcanoes exist.
9. In high school, I won a statewide poster contest (including a scholarship) for Harrah’s casino and warning against underage gambling. I painted a jail cell and inscribed the words, "Free complimentary room with underage gambling." Do you see the error there? My mom proudly displays a photocopy on the wall, but I cringe every time I see the repetition.
10. I had braces until very late into my Junior year of high school. I kept very quiet and didn’t really smile while I had them because I was embarrassed. As soon as I got them off, it was like movie magic. You know in She’s All That where they remove the glasses and the pony tail and the girl is hot? That happened to me. Boys suddenly paid attention to me, I earned the nickname "smiley" because I didn’t stop, and all the confidence I lost magically returned.
11. I’ve changed my name three times already, and I’m looking to a fourth time when I (hopefully) get married. Shana is my middle name. I went by my boring first name for 18 years and decided to change it on a whim during college orientation. My parents still call me by my first name, which often gets confusing when they discuss me with my boyfriend, since he calls me Shana. The third time was the make my last name easier to spell for pen name purposes.
12. I was in a sorority in college, Delta Gamma. I know sororities get a stereotypical bad rap, but I seriously adored mine. I’m still really good friends with a lot of the girls, and though the sorority had our fair share of drama, I don’t think my college experience would have been the same without it. At Syracuse, a huge percentage of the students were part of the Greek system, which really made it a requirement. I did end up deactivating at the end of my senior year, btu that was because I didn’t have time to complete my extensive senior graphics project and participate in rush. Plus all my best friends were a year older and had already graduated.
13. I wrote my first novel when I was 17. It was full of existential ponderings and lacked a cohesive plot and character names. Luckily, I had the good sense never to revise this, though I did force my poor Mom to read it. (She loved it, but I think she was lying). After that I accidentally wrote a novel in college. It started out as kind of autobiographical, and I worked on it in my classes. Eventually I cut all the autobiographical stuff and the characters and kept only the setting (sorority). I got a lot of requests, but no agent. Then I worked on a really terrible story about tweens in camp that never saw a second draft. Thankfully after that, I wrote The Art of Selling my Sister, which did get me an agent and is currently on submission. I wrote Rhythm & Clues next, and that’s currently chilling with my agent. Now I’ve got two simultaneous WIPs going on. Both had complete first drafts I wrote in November/December. I’m revising/rewriting the first now and will work on the other one when I’m done on a rotating schedule.
14. Okay that’s not technically true. Technically, I "wrote" my first non-fiction book when I was about six years old. It was called Bloopers, Bloomers and Grandma and it chronicled all the hilariously funny things my klutzy/forgetful grandma did like the time she dragged us to the flea market to buy a Sammy Davis Jr. cassette she needed to have and then when we got in the car to listen, she already had the same tape in the player. Or the time she said to us, "I’ve been eating this week like it’s going out of style" and then she proceeded to pull out a donut from the fridge. My mom transcribed what I dictated to her, and we had grand plans of trying to get it published but apparently I didn’t have the patience to sit and revise and turn it into a real book. But the book was all my idea. (Oh the Bloomers part came in because the key story involved something hilarious with grandma’s underwear.)
15. All my novels include a character who changes their name at some point for whatever reason. I’m sure this comes from my weird obsession with names and how I changed my own several times. I seriously cannot start a story without solidifying the names of the major cast of characters, but I usually end up changing several names by the time I get to the 2nd draft, though not usually my protagonist.
16. I have a minor case of OCD. It manifests itself in things like an obsession with moisturizer. I hate dry skin, it makes me feel skeevy, and I go through a bottle of Jergen’s Ultra Healing about every other week. But the OCD makes me superstitious. Like I can’t hang up a phone without telling my family members, "I love you" and hearing it back in reply. This sounds good in theory, but I’m in such a habit of saying it, I often say it to the wrong people like receptionists calling to confirm a doctor’s appointment. I know one day I’ll accidentally say it to my agent or a work client or something, and then I’ll be incredibly embarrassed.
17. I’ve never watched a horror movie, and I don’t plan on changing this. If something is too violent, I will walk out of the theater or turn it off. I often close my eyes while watching Grey’s Anatomy.
18. I type insanely fast. Faster than most people. I’m freelance so I bounce around to lots of offices, and at every single one, someone comments on how fast I type. I also have a talent of being able to type without looking at the screen. I’ll know if I make a typo and can go back and fix it equally as fast. This results in me often writing while watching TV or even while talking to someone else. In 3rd grade, we used to have these contests where we’d have to use only specific letters (like the home row keys) and come up with as many words as possible in sixty seconds. I kept winning so eventually the teacher made me a judge to let all the other students get their chance. This is how I can bang out over 1000 words during my 10 minute subway commute on my alpha smart.
19. I also have a photographic memory. I can remember every places I sat in every class and where all the other students sat as well. I can remember what outfits I wore through the entire year. But I also remember details of books I read years ago, especially character names (even minor characters). When I read my manuscripts, I can see the words that used to be there. This often leads to me overlooking typos because I end up memorizing the text and can’t really focus on the individual words anymore. (I do have my mom who used to be an English teacher go over it for me at the end so I don’t accidentally miss something). But also, this makes me a very good critique partner because if I read revisions from my fellow writers, I can compare and contrast their original draft with the new one for them without ever going back and looking up the old one. Also, it helps if I need to look up something in a book I once read for research. I can usually flip right to the page without trying to scour through the book. (Example, a few days ago I was struggling with a scene where my protagonist got angry with someone, and I wanted to keep her sympathetic. I just pulled all the books off my shelf with scenes like this, analyzed how the authors handled it, and that gave me inspiration for my own book.)
21. I have a tattoo of two purple flowers on my back left shoulder. My mom took me to get it when I was 17. She said I couldn’t get anything besides my ears pierced, but a tattoo would be acceptable. I ran with that. We worried my grandmother would freak because it’s technically against Jewish religion. But my grandma LOVED it. Now a decade later, I never remember I have it until someone points it out (or I write notes like this).
22. I’ve played a lot of instruments, but none of them very well. This is due to my major lack of rhythm and also the flaw of being tone deaf. I’ve played violin for about five minutes, flute for two years, guitar for three years, and piano for about seven years. I’m not sure I can even read music anymore, but I can still play Somewhere Over the Rainbow on piano and Tearing Up My Heart by NSync on guitar.
23. The roads are safer now that I don’t drive. I was an eighty year old woman trapped in a seventeen year old body. I refused to go over the speed limit, which made my four hour drive from NJ to Syracuse very long. I had a parallel parking spot in my sorority and the other girls would rush out to help me when they saw me coming because if I parked myself, it would have been disastrous. I’m still traumatized by that one time I had an accident with the basketball net in my driveway. I swear, it came out of nowhere.
24. I once broke my toe when I fell off a balance beam about an inch off the ground. You might say I rival Bella Swan in klutziness. Just when the toe was close to healing, I re-broke it by dropping a hammer on it because I’d stupidly signed up to help build a GaGa court at camp. Clearly my judgment needed repairing too.
25. It is impossible for me to talk in a quiet voice. My range goes straight from inaudible whisper to screaming. My mom says she has to hold the phone away from her ear when she talks to me. This is why I can’t ever audition for a reality show. If I made an alliance with anyone and they wanted to strategize with me, there would be no way to keep my words secret. And I’ve been told by several people that I should go on a reality show. Apparently I’m an interesting character or something. Or maybe they just want to see me face my fear of fish to hilarious results.