Author of YA & Adult fiction
Elle Cosimano

Revision Advice From the Deep

I’m tired. It’s been a long day at the keyboard, and I think I have negative 342 words to show for it. So I’ll keep this short.

I call this segment “Revision Advice From My Six Year Old” — and I think it’s pretty damn brilliant.

Scene Opens with Mommy, head on kitchen table.

Thing 2:  Mom, are you tired?

Mom:  Yep.

Thing 2:  Are you sad?

Mom:  Maybe a little.

Thing 2:  [long pause] What did you do today?

Mom:  I worked on my book all day.

Thing 2:  Then why are you sad?

Mom:  [sigh] I made a lot of mistakes.

Thing 2:  [longer pause] You know, your computer is just like my DS. When I play Super Scribblenauts and I make a mistake, there’s a button I can push that makes the mistake go away.  And then I just fix it.  You can prob’ly do that on yours.

Mom:  [lifts head and smiles just a little]  Yeah?

Thing 2:  And you know what else?

Mom:  What?

Thing 2:  Sometimes, when I draw pictures of hard things — like Big Eye Tuna — I mess up the curvy part of the dorsal fin — that part’s really hard — and then it doesn’t look right.  So I use the eraser.  Sometimes if there’s no eraser left I just draw an X over it.  And if I run out of room for all the X’s, I just flip the paper over.

Mom:  Then what?

Thing 2:  Then I start again.  You can prob’ly do that too.

Mom:  So you’re telling me I should just keep fixing it until I get it right?

Thing 2:  Yep.  That’s just what you do.

Mom:  You know, you’re pretty smart, kid.

Thing 2:  [shrugs] I draw a lot of tunas.



Best Crit Group Ever
World’s Best Crit Group – and our tuna.


21, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |



Kid Versus The Volcano

Come find me. I’m blogging about conquering fear today over at Ink & Angst. There will be high-speed action and scary music. There will be screaming and FIRE!  So don’t miss it.

For those who don’t know, Ink & Angst is a group of talented and inspiring YA and MG writers. We met at a writing conference last winter. We blog together, we critique together, and we have fun together as we support each other through the daunting path to publication.

Stay tuned for some great new developments at I & A this fall as we prepare to roll out a series of interviews with some of 2012’s hottest debut YA and MG authors!


16, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |



Can't Take The Heat?

This is my mother’s kitchen. The woman cooks like nobody’s business, and this is where she creates.

Mom's Kitchen

It’s open. It breathes.

View From Mom's Kitchen

And this is Nana, my mother.

Mom with Croc

She looked at me one day and understood that I needed to breathe, so she made me a room with a writing desk in the jungle. It overlooks the Caribbean Sea. My father swung the hammer and built the walls. And when it was done, my mother took my children and sent me to that room to take my tiger by the tail… or maybe it was a crocodile. All I know is it had sharp teeth, but she made me do it anyway. She didn’t say “You can write a book.” She said “Go write a book,” in that pointed, inarguable way that only a mother can. So I did.

This is where I work when I need to breathe. When I want to create. Where I challenge myself to grapple with things that bite. When I want my children to see the best parts of me.

View From Roof Deck

And this is what I’m making for dinner tonight. It’s really spicy —  it’s got bite. It’s my mother’s creation. It reminds me to breathe.



Escabeche Chicken
An original recipe by Elle’s mom (adapted for ingredients available in the US)

1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 chicken thighs (skin on)
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup peeled carrots, thick sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion (chunky, not fine)
1 seeded fresh jalapeno, sliced thin (optional)
1 small can Escabeche peppers sliced (pickled jalapeno/rajas en escabeche)
1 small jar or can of mushrooms, drained and sliced
1 cup very strong Caldo de Pollo broth (or chicken bouillon, more concentrated than package directions – strong and cloudy!)
1 cup Tamarind Sauce
1 small can pigeon peas, drained (or chick peas — regular canned peas will not work)
4 white potatoes, cut length-wise
1 small head white cabbage, quartered
1 small head red cabbage, quartered

Saute garlic in oil in very large pan. Add chicken thighs to hot oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and lightly brown on each side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add chopped peppers, carrots, onions, and fresh jalapeno to remaining hot oil in pan. Saute until only slightly translucent. Add the drained escabeche slices and simmer together. Do not over-soften.

Boil 1 cup water and add enough chicken bouillon to make a very strong, concentrated cloudy broth (use a bit more than package directions). Mix in 1 cup Tamarind sauce.  Add reserved escabeche liquid, approx 1/4 – 1/2 cup (to taste).

Put chicken, cabbage and potatoes in a VERY large covered baker (I use the deep covered baker from Pampered Chef — about 13 x 9 x 5.5 — and this recipe completely fills it, but any very large covered baker should do.) Pour veggies over top. Sprinkle on peas. Pour broth mix over everything.

Cover and bake for 3 hrs at 350 degrees.  Serve with tissues. You’re gonna need them.




14, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |



Guest Blogging: Write Mischief

Heading over to blog with my friends at “Write Mischief” today.  Drop by while we share quotes, pics and memories of our LA SCBWI Annual Conference adventure.  Inspiration abounds.


29, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |



Guest Blogging: Chicklets in the Kitchen

Today I’m guest blogging with the awesome chicks over at Chicklets in the Kitchen.  Stop by for the story behind my family’s favorite Sweet Onion Spoonbread recipe, with a little romance dished up on the side.  See you there!


29, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |



A Matter of Perspective

I took art class in 9th grade.  I don’t remember the name of the class or even the name of the teacher.  I just remember this one project.

The medium was pencil and the assignment was to illustrate perspective using a horizon line. Those were the only guidelines I recall.  I came up with a sort of contemporary fantasy — a dolphin jumping out of an ocean composed of Tron-like lines.  There were ripples in the grid where the dolphin breached the surface and mountains in the background. (Don’t ask why my dolphin was surfing the Rockies in outer space… I don’t have an answer.)

I spent weeks on the damn thing.  I agonized over the contours of the dolphin.  Was he precise in size, shape, and shadow?  Were my lines technically accurate as far as measurement and proportion?  I kept my pencil lines to a whisper, so I could fix mistakes without anyone knowing I’d made them.  When I turned it in, I was sure it was perfect.

The teacher didn’t agree.  I got a B minus.

I was crushed. (Yeah, I was one of those kids.  Total Type A Brian Johnson “…and when you pull the trunk the light was s’posed to go on. My light didn’t go on…” kind of kid. Doesn’t ring a bell?  Google it.)

When I asked my teacher why my project wasn’t good enough for an A, he told me my drawing was too light.  That I didn’t push hard enough with my pencil, and while it was technically accurate, my picture felt flat.  He pointed to it and said, “What you’ve drawn is a dolphin jumping on paper, but your assignment was to make him leap off the page.”

I walked away from the conversation never really understanding what he meant.

Fast forward twenty-three years.  I’m revising my manuscript for DEAD BLUE for the third time when Brian’s damn elephant light comes on!  I get it now.

See, when I was drawing that dolphin scene, I kept my pencil tip dull.  At the time, I told myself it was intentional.  That my light hand gave the picture a gauzy mysterious feel.  But in hindsight — this post is about perspective after all — I wasn’t being honest with myself.

I wasn’t pushing that pencil hard enough because I was too chicken-shit to take the risk. Deep dark marks are hard to erase.  They reveal mistakes, and I didn’t trust myself enough to sharpen the damn pencil and really cut in.  No part of my picture really scratched below the surface.  It lacked depth and contrast.  My teacher was right.  It wasn’t airy and mood-driven. It was flat.

And I think that’s what’s been missing in all these words on the cutting room floor.  Trust.  And maybe a little fearlessness.

It’s round three and I’ve got my chewed up pencil.  My eraser’s worn down to the metal and I finally sharpened the tip.  No matter which way I hold it, it’ll cut deep.

So thanks, Brian and your elephant trunk light.

What Makes You Tic? — Part I

Yesterday marked the beginning of Tourette Syndrome Awareness month.

I was sad to see James Durbin leave American Idol last week. His talent has opened so many eyes to Tourette’s, but I’m optimistic that he’s peaked some curiosity out there, and that his fans will take a step deeper into his world by learning more and spreading awareness.

If you know me, or you’ve followed my blog, then you know Tourette’s awareness has a special place in my heart.  I thought long and hard about the kind of contribution I could make toward TS education.  Book recommendations seemed like the obvious choice.

So this month, I’ll share a few of my favorites books featuring characters who suffer from Tourette’s (Children’s, MG, and YA), as well as links to organizations that provide resources for families, teachers, and friends of children suffering from tic disorders.

(Click on the blue banner below to learn more about the Tourette Syndrome Association.)

What Makes You Tic?


My first recommendation this month is an outstanding fictional novel for young adult (and adult) readers.

Jerk California

JERK, CALIFORNIA by Jonathan Friesen– Available from Penguin/Speak

Winner, ALA 2009 Schneider Family Book Award~”Best Book for Teens”


“Sam Carrier is one confused kid. The high-school senior has Tourette’s Syndrome messing with his body, Naomi Archer messing with his heart, and a dead dad messing with his mind.

Sam takes off on a road-trip to California looking for some peace. Each stop brings Sam and Naomi (yep, she comes along) closer to a truth Sam doesn’t want to face, but can’t run from anymore. It’s the adventure of a lifetime, and his last chance to find out whose he really is.”  —

I’m not going to spoil the book by revealing too much of the plot, except to say that the author takes his character on a remarkable and inspiring journey of self-discovery.  Sam Carrier’s cross-country search to uncover his family history mirrors an internal journey as he grapples to understand and come to terms with his Tourette’s.

There are two reasons I love this book. First, Sam’s symptoms are woven into a broader plot arc. His tics (and all the baggage that come with them) are part of him, as they are part of the story.  But they are neither all of him, nor all of his story.  There is a greater overarching story than a boy overcoming the challenges of his TS. It’s about families and love, secrets and acceptance. Sam’s character and his journey are layered deeper than you might expect.  The same is true of people with TS.

Which brings me to the second reason I love this book.  Sam’s voice is compelling and believable. The author drew me straight into his character’s mind and heart.  Too often, people recognize Tourette Syndrome by what we see on the outside.  But so much of TS happens on the inside.  Friesen takes us, through stunning prose and poignant memorable scenes, into Sam’s head — his obsessive thoughts, reactions, frustrations, and shame.  Not just the physical pain, but the battles inside as he struggles to find happiness and sense of belonging. Through them, we discover a bright, courageous and likable young man… who happens to have Tourette Syndrome.

Jerk, California is high on  my list of favorite YA novels. It’s thoughtfully crafted, emotionally evocative, and tells a beautiful story.

Some Kind of Wonderful

“I think Carson might like me,” my son says. “I paid Blake fifty cents to ask her. She said she needs some time to think about it.”

“Do you like Carson?” I ask.

“Yeah, I think I want her to be my girlfriend. Everyone tells me I should. She has blue eyes, just like me.”

Thoughtful pause.

“Mom, if someone has eyes that are brown and green and gray, all mixed up, what’s that color called?”

“Hazel,” I reply.

Another pause.

“Grace’s eyes are hazel. I think they’re really pretty. And her hair kind of shines in the sun. Yeah,” he smiles, “hazel is my favorite color.”

I scratch my head, trying to keep up.

“Are we talking about Grace or Carson? Which one is your girlfriend?”

“Carson might be my girlfriend. Grace is just my best friend.”

“Grace sounds pretty special,” I say.

“Yeah, she always likes me and she’s always my friend, no matter what. She makes me laugh. I have a lot of fun with Grace.”

“What about Carson?” I wonder, fighting back a smile.

“I’m not really sure. She’s not sure if she likes me or not. Sometimes she’s nice… sort of.” He shakes his head. “I don’t really understand girls.”

“Yeah,” I say, “I guess we can be tough to figure out.”

I consider pointing out the obvious truth.

But I don’t.

He’s only nine. He’s got plenty of time to fall in love with girls who won’t love him back… and to finally understand what it is about those hazel eyes that makes them so beautiful.

He’ll figure girls out on his own.

It’s my anniversary. We’ve been married for thirteen years, though we’ve been together for nearly twenty.

My son asks, “Why did it take so long for Dad to marry you?”

I shrug and say, “I don’t know. I guess boys can be tough to figure out.”

He laughs and surprises me when he says, “I bet Dad’s favorite color is brown.”

Yeah, he’s only nine. But he just might have this all figured out.


02, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |



Special Guest Post: Do What You Love



By Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple

Authors, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding  Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood



We have both always known that we feel most alive when we write.

Which isn’t to say that the words always come easily, or that they sing the moment they hit the page, or even that they’re all destined to sing. Sometimes, we struggle. No—often we struggle, as individual writers and as a team.

But in a good way. A really good, energizing, soul-nourishing way. This may not make sense, but putting our thoughts into words, and then editing and tinkering until they say exactly what we want them to say, is a blissful sort of pain. And it sure beats the other kind of pain, the one that we feel when we pour our energy into something that isn’t, well, us.

Over the years, we’ve both done work that inspired us, and we’ve both done work that most definitely didn’t. Both types have given us good days and bad; even work that inspired us has, at times, made us feel frustrated and lost.  And the soul-sucking work has had moments that didn’t completely … suck.

As a result, it’s taken us some years to figure out what truly makes us happy professionally; it isn’t always obvious. After all, there are an awful lot of messages out there about what should qualify as success.

But we each found our groove writing Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (Harlequin, April 2011). As we delved into how critical it is to define our own success as mothers and professionals — to write our own rules, to reject ideas of greatness that don’t fit our own priorities — we each found ourselves on a journey. We became more sure than ever that the only way to live is to pursue our dreams.

And that’s what this book is to us: a dream. The passion we felt for the topic swelled within us as we wrote — and, somehow, that made the sacrifices less painful. It was easier to balance family life and writing because we were driven by a purpose other than “It’s my job” or “I’ll feel guilty if I don’t.”

That purpose fueled us in the same way that other jobs have drained us. Hollee was able to pull herself out of bed each morning at 5 a.m. to write; Becky (who’s more of a night person) would sit down after the kids went to bed at 8 p.m. and write until 2 a.m.

We couldn’t have done this if the topic and the writing didn’t stir something inside us, if the process didn’t nourish us along the way.

And that’s the greatest lesson of the New Perfect: Do what you love.


Good EnoughBecky and Hollee’s new book, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, is available at . They blog about parenting and work/life balance at









Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood

This is not a book about settling.

Women today earn more than half of all bachelor’s degrees, hold more managerial positions than men, are earning higher and higher salaries and doing all of this while having families on their timeline.  It would only make sense that this generation of girls born to Have It All would be the happiest in history. So why is it that study after study shows that women’s happiness levels have been decreasing—and what can they do about it?

Based on exclusive data, more than 100 in-depth interviews, and the latest research, Good Enough Is the New Perfect builds on the growing “anti-perfection parenting” movement by being the first book to present empirical evidence that this philosophy offers an advantage. Drawing on their groundbreaking original survey of 905 working mothers, authors Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple have discovered a paradigm shift in motherhood today: More and more mothers are losing their Never Enough attitude and embracing a Good Enough mindset to be happier, more confident and more successful.

Some surprising findings from the authors’ survey, which included working mothers  from a broad range of professions and from nearly every state in the nation:





Told through the inspiring stories of real moms—executives and entrepreneurs, doctors and lawyers—Good Enough is the New Perfect blends expert advice and solid research to offer a true roadmap for the incredible balancing act we call motherhood.

The book will be released by Harlequin Nonfiction in April 2011.


About the authors

Becky and Hollee are the work/life balance columnists for the ABA Journal, the nation’s premiere lawyer magazine. Both graduates of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, they first worked together in the early 1990s, when Becky was Hollee’s first editor at The Daily Northwestern. Like so many of the working mothers they interviewed, they forged non-linear career paths, taking detours in their quests to balance work and family. They blog about work/life and parenting issues at

Becky is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Chicago Sun-Times, The Detroit News, USA Today and the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y. In 2001, while on staff at the Sun-Times, she co-wrote a groundbreaking investigative series on “failing teachers” that led to statewide reforms in teacher testing and a crackdown on teacher quality in the Chicago Public Schools. The three-day series, which began one week after the birth of her first child, gave Becky her first experience at balancing motherhood and career. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Pete, an employment litigator, and their two daughters.

Hollee is a journalist-turned-lawyer-turned-professor at West Virginia University College of Law. After graduating at the top of her class with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Hollee headed to Duke University School of Law. She graduated in 1999, and then began a four-year stint as a litigation associate at an international law firm. After her first son was born in 2002, Temple returned to her firm on a part-time basis before joining the WVU faculty the next year. Hollee lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, with her husband, John, an author and journalism professor, and their two sons, Gideon and Henry.




18, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |


1 comment

Drop Everything!

teen lit day

Drop everything!

It’s Teen Lit Day!

In celebration, readers everywhere will be “dropping” donated YA books in random public places. Book plates in the front cover will let you know if you were lucky enough to find a donated book.

HINT: I’m dropping FOUR books at the King George Family YMCA today.

Look for the bookplates inside!

Will you be lucky enough to find one?

If you do, post or send a pic of yourself with your new book and respond with the title of the book in the comments.

Read the book and tell us how you liked it.

Then pay it forward by passing it on.


14, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |