big talk

Small talk has never been my thing. Before I forced myself to get better at it so I wouldn’t die of boredom at cocktail parties where I didn’t know anyone, I totally dreaded any situation that would require the meaningless fluff and filler of small talk.

I swore that if one more person asked me the top two small talk questions:

“What do you do?”
“Where are you from?”

I would retaliate with questions that were meaningful and actually interesting to explore, thus encouraging some kind of genuine connection between us, like one of these:

“What’s your biggest dream?”
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how has your week been and why?”

These deeper questions aren’t serious enough to make people run screaming from me at parties, but are authentic enough to actually inspire a real conversation that isn’t a complete waste of time.

I didn’t want to make small talk anymore. I wanted to make big talk. But I didn’t know what to call it until Kalina Silverman gave a super impressive TED Talk. Kalina wanted to go out of her way to meet new people and skip the small talk, to have deeper conversations, and make more meaningful connections with them. So she created Big Talk, an initiative that inspires people to focus on what matters in this world. For her Big Talk video, Kalina asked strangers these big talk questions:

“What do you want to do before you die?”
“What would you do today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?”

The results were magnificent.

Spread the big talk love, friendly neighbors ❤

holiday magic from asteroid b-612

If you’ve seen any of my dorktastic YouTube videos, you might have noticed the one in which I fangirl over my Little Prince collection. The Little Prince is my favorite book of all time and I have been collecting all things Little Prince for many years.

Which makes this the best. Christmas present. EVER.

The Little Prince tote bag

A Little Prince tote with the text of the entire novel printed on it!!!

Dude. This bag is seriously ready to dazzle at my next book events. Hopefully I will see fellow YA author Nicola Yoon at one of them so I can share it with her. Nicola is also a Little Prince fan. Which you know if you’ve read her outstanding novel Everything, Everything. I had to rave about her book here. And that video I mentioned earlier? Was one of my Fun Fact and a Book videos featuring Everything, Everything.

So yeah. Lots of fun connections.

Wishing you holiday magic and a beautiful new year. xoxo

help wanted 5 – fear

TGIM! Here’s some Monday Motivation from me to you.

Is there a big dream you want to make reality, but fear is stopping you from following your heart? Do you want to break out of a bad situation you’re stuck in, a negative group of friends, a job you don’t like, or habits that make you feel worse about yourself? My Help Wanted 5 video is all about overcoming fear to create your dream life.

Fear is like an indicator pointing you toward a better life. Breaking out of your comfort zone will allow you to make the big changes necessary to improve your life immensely. Here’s how you can start turning your dreams into reality right now!


Stay gold, friendly neighbors ❤

rock the vote

I want to tell you about my first time.

My first time had issues with mechanics. I didn’t really know how anything worked. But there were instructions in explicit detail. So those helped.

There was too much background noise. It was hard to concentrate. Climate control was a problem. It was too hot…or maybe I was just nervous.

As part of the YA community’s #firstvote16 initiative, I made a video telling you all about my first time…VOTING.


Thanks to E. Lockhart and team
for organizing this fantastic Rock the Vote campaign! You can register to vote here and join the convo about your first time on Twitter with #firstvote16.

Do it. Share how you feel about someone special…with the whole world!

fun fact and a book – the outsiders

My Fun Fact and a Book video series continues with The Outsiders! You guys know that I worship this book in a godlike way. I slept with the original copy I show you in this video under my pillow in 7th grade, wishing for some magical form of osmosis to seep through the pillow into my brian so I could one day write a teen novel that would help other teens the way The Outsiders helped me. And if you’ve seen me on a panel at an event, you might have heard me mention that Ponyboy Curtis is my book boyfriend because he understands about sunsets and colors and things.

So yeah. Much love for this book.

The first Fun Fact and a Book video expanded on one of the fun facts in my Epic Reads author fun facts video where I share one of my collections. I collect a lot of things, but that would have been the whole video if I showed you them all. There just wasn’t enough time to share everything about each fun fact! So I decided to do this video series where I expand on one of the fun facts in the Epic Reads video, then connect it to a book. The fun fact I expanded on in this new video? The Knowing when I was a teen that New York City would be my true home. I felt like an outsider in my isolated small town, which is why I connected so strongly to The Outsiders. Here’s the whole story:


If you feel like an outsider like I did, I hope this gives you some inspiration. Visualize your place to belong. See it. Feel it. Your happy place is your true home where you will find your people. It is the place where you will not only be accepted for who you are, but appreciated, celebrated, and loved.

You matter. You have a purpose. And you belong.

book nerd beach problems

TGIM! Finally it feels like summer! Here in New York, this has been such a hot and humid summer that I haven’t really enjoyed the great outdoors. I have, however, very much enjoyed my central air, which I am celebrating as part of my 20th New Yorkiversary year. The ridiculous bootleg, garage sale, 99-cents store, low budge air conditioners I dealt with over the years before becoming a homeowner were scary at best. But that’s all part of the New York experience. Like one of my Pamela Barsky pouches says, New York is not for sissies.

In related be strong news, I am on deadline reviewing copyedits of the final City Love trilogy book, Forever in Love,  which will be out next year. I am having a really hard time saying goodbye to my girls. To the point where reading through this manuscript  one more time is kind of breaking my heart. So yeah. I am in the midst of all that. But I just had to take a minute to post this Epic Reads reading at the beach book nerd problem video.

It is classic. And it features City Love.

Enjoy the gorgeous summer breeze, friendly neighbors. Because despite what you might have heard, it’s still summer for one more month. ❤

top five, good vibes edition

Yay for cooler summer breeze! Here in New York, it has been so hot and humid and rainy under this heat dome that the past two weeks haven’t been the most exciting outdoor times. But now the good vibes of summer are back with the return of sunshine and highs in the low 80s. Even more good vibes: This Saturday, August 6 I will be at the Read Up book festival in Greenville, SC. It should be a total blast. Hope to see those of you in the area there!

1. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I am addicted to summer fruit. All the berries, melons, cherries…these are the days. So it makes sense that my refrigerator also LOVES summer. Especially since I am a vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian since college, for over 20 years, and it’s all about the fresh fruits and vegetables. That is why I ate an entire watermelon last week. A really big one. By myself. Addiction is a powerful thing.

Summer refrigerator

Oh how I wish my refrigerator could look like this all the time. Which just makes me enjoy this time with my fresh summer forage even more.

2. I have so much love for my readers I can’t even contain myself. But there is a special place in my heart for my boy readers. When Jenefer tweeted a photo of her student reading Something Like Fate, which was his choice bookstore purchase, it was one of the best warm fuzzies ever.

Something Like Fate summer reading

Summer reading feels!

3. Mr. Rogers was probably my earliest mentor. I remember watching him when I was little, like 3 or 4, and feeling like he was talking directly to me. I even ran over to my Gramp one time when I swore Mr. Rogers said my name to tell him that Mr. Rogers was saying hello to me! You know how I have this whole friendly neighbors thing? Well Mr. Rogers was the OFN (Original Friendly Neighbor). So naturally I am geeking out over this PBS Mr. Rogers remix.

There is also a Bob Ross remix, for all the “happy little trees” enthusiasts out there.

4. In other good vibes news, Apple is replacing their pistol emoji with a green water gun. And they are adding a pride flag. More reasons to love Shiny Happy Apple World.

5. My mantra for this week:

I choose to be happy

Choose happiness. Choose kindness. Choose love. ❤