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  • Written by Amber Kizer
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  • 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes
  • Written by Amber Kizer
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7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes

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Written by Amber KizerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Amber Kizer

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On Sale: April 05, 2011
Pages: 304 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89124-3
Published by : Delacorte Press RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Okay, so here's the deal: there are books about volcanoes erupting and meteorites hitting Earth and plane crashes where the survivors have to eat people—those are extraordinary crises.

That's not what this book is about. I'm more the ordinary catastrophe type. This second semester of my sophomore year, there are basically 7 KINDS OF ORDINARY CATASTROPHES: high school, boys, heartbreak, family, job, friends, and the future.

Well, I guess everyone's life is full of ordinary catastrophes. These are mine. Hi, I'm Gert Garibaldi. Welcome to my crazy life.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

One

Oh, Holy-Mother­of­High­Heels­and­Dropping­Balls, what does a girl wear to a New Year's Eve party?

Stephen and I have been dating for about eight weeks. We don't really go anywhere. Mostly we talk on the phone, sit together at lunch and meet at the movies. I'm not supposed to drive boys and he rarely gets the car. Correction: according to my mom, who watches way too many judge shows, I'm not supposed to drive any life­forms, including amoebas, who might be endangered by my skills. Fab skills, if I do say so myself. But she sees lawsuits and cardboard boxes in her future with me behind the wheel.

Tangent: sorry.

They don't believe me when I say the mailbox had it coming.

Back to Stephen: to hear him talk, our great­grandkids will be showing up soon. We've been dating eight weeks. Ish. Does that sound fast to anyone else? Seriously. That's like two months. I don't really know how it got to be eight weeks so fast. I mean, time flies when you're dating. Or seeing a guy. Or hanging out. Or whatever we're doing.

I. Have. Nothing. To. Wear. I move a pile of clothes off my bed so I can sit down and contemplate the disaster that is my closet.

Here's the deal: he wants to go to this party, and I'm sure the guy is hoping to get me drunk and take full advantage of me. I saw that on an after­school special. Those boys are all CIA operatives when it comes to planting the flag on virgin earth.

And if he's not planning on trying to get somewhere, I will be crushed. What's not to love about me? I'd want to do me.

I tug on an off­the­shoulder old­school sweater. I look like my mother's favorite throw pillow.

"Mom!" I scream out my bedroom door. I'm desperate. I need assistance.

She comes barreling up the stairs. "What? What happened? Are you bleeding?"

"No--"

She presses her hand against her heart and glances around. "I told you not to light candles in your room. The curtains caught on fire, didn't they? Where's the fire extinguisher I put in here?" She pushes past me into my room. "Gert, what have you done?"

Why did I call for my mom? What demon possession caused that brief and deadly miscalculation? There's nothing I can say that will get me out of a two­hour lecture about respecting my belongings and taking care of things that children all over the world, and down the street, would, and do, kill for.

"I don't have anything--" I stop myself. Not a good idea to be honest. Really bad idea.

"What is it?" She turns and looks at me. "I like that sweater on you. It's very grown­up and it reminds me of something."

Your throw pillows?

I think fast. "Um, my period started and I don't have enough stuff--"

"I'm going to the store in a few minutes, I can pick up whatever you need."

"Thanks." Crisis averted.

"But, Gertie, this is no way to treat things we've spent good money on." She starts picking up and folding my clothes.

"I know, Mom." Inspiration strikes. "I'm cleaning out my closet for a fund­raiser."

"Oh, that's lovely. What's the cause?" She beams at me, all expectant.

Cause? Crap. Think. Think. "Teen pregnancy."

"Good for you. I like my girl interested in making the world a better place."

"Yeah." I should feel bad about lying.

"When is your young man's father coming to pick you up? Should you nap before the party, dear?"

"I'll be okay."

She shuffles back down the stairs. We don't celebrate New Year's Eve in my family. My parents may have clinked glasses one time before 1960, but we go to bed early around here. Geriatric early. Then, religiously, they get up to watch the parade the next morning. They wake me up to see horses and flowers, and horses made out of flowers, at an ungodly hour. I'm told I love seeing it every year. That's good to know, considering how much I love sleep.

I have no clothes. None. They are all wool, plaid, strangely middle­aged. What happened on the hangers between the store and my closet? They morphed. Sex kitten to roadkill.

Must call Adam. He'll have an idea. Plus, he got a fun new cell phone for Christmas. Of course, I'm not speed dial one. His boyfriend Tim is. That's wrong. Really, really wrong. As the official best friend, I should be number one. Not two. Not six. One. Someday soon we'll have to discuss my sucky speed­dial position. Now, must put clothes on for party so Stephen can drool and forget what we're talking about.

"Yes, Gert?" Adam sounds like he has something more important to do.

"Why are you answering the phone like a snobby British receptionist?" He's too cute for his own good.

"Because I knew it was you. I gave you a ring tone."

Shakira? Rihanna? I won't ask. I'll be cool.

" 'Wild Thing.' " Adam barely gets the words out before cackling.

There's a loud thump. I hope the roof caved in. I am not a "Wild Thing" ring tone. I will not dignify that with a response.

He huffs back into the phone. "Sorry, I fell off the couch."

Break much? "Sure hope you didn't get hurt." I don't even fool myself.

"What's up, Gertie?"

"I said yes to the party."

"Good, you only live once."

"Oh, so you're coming to make out with your boyfriend in public?" Two can play this Hallmark movie moment.

"Nope, staying here." He doesn't even sound insecure about his choice.

Hypocrite. "What do I wear?" Please, I don't want to discuss Tim's assets again. I really don't want to have to--

"What do you want to say?" Adam must be doing crunches while we talk. There's grunting in the background.

"I can converse just fine--help me with clothing."

"Your clothes. What do you want them to say?" He acts like I'm the slow one.

"I am not writing on my clothes."

He snorts. "Gert, hello, wake up, anyone home?"

If I wasn't so desperate, I would hang up on his homo fashionista ass and pretend I'm starting a new fashion trend with whatever I pull out. Queer Eye need not apply. "My clothes must make a statement?"

"Yeah. Sexy? Party girl? Crazed sociopath? Cute? 'Do me'?"

"No sex tonight." Even the thought of sex with Stephen starts me shaking. I've seen the guy handle a stick shift; he's not a soft and gentle lover. I read that tip in Cosmo.

"Cute?"

I consider. "Cute is fine."

"Brows tweezed?"

"Yes, and I found out about this great new thing called deodorant. I thought maybe I'd try that, too."

"No need to get bitchy. Just trying to get your back."

"Cute. Yes. Fine." How hard does this have to be? Clothing. Put on. Go. Voilà!

"Pay attention. You might want to write this down."

"I think I can manage." He knows me too well. I have pen in hand with a stick­figure diagram, who looks nothing like me, drawn on a pink Post­it.

"The dark denim, the tank from the lime green sweater set and your black velvet bolero jacket. Bangles. Go big on the jewelry, and flashy."

Not what I would have chosen in a million years.

"Oh, and the strappy heels you wore to homecoming."

"With jeans?" Am I channeling mid­eighties Madonna?

"Trust me."

Hmm . . . "Perhaps." Need I point out I couldn't dress myself? Obviously, I trust him.

"Go dark and smoky on the eyes. Gloss on lips."

Who am I--New Year's Eve Barbie? "Yes, makeup maven. Anything else, maven?"

"What are you doing with your hair?"

Shaving it? "Kate Beckinsale in her last movie."

"Chase scene or the party scene?"

As if there's a choice. "Party."

"Works. Tim's here. I've got to go play host." Adam doesn't even try to make me feel as important as his boy toy.

"Your parents okay with this?" I'm dubious at best. They're into coldly ignoring Adam's gayness unless his mother decides to randomly slap him.

"They're at the casino for an all­night bash."

"They know Tim's coming over?"

"Do I seem stupid to you?"

"Just asking."

"I promised I wouldn't have a party or drink and drive," he says.

I understand. "And one person over doesn't constitute a party. Gotcha." Dealing with parentals requires omission. Don't ask, don't tell. Be honest, but only up to a point. Survival of the fittest.

"Right."

I have seen less and less of Adam since Tim became numero uno. "Thanks." I try very hard not to be jealous. Rarely do I succeed.

"Call me tomorrow."

"Sure." Maybe. Must ready self for sociality. I didn't even ask Stephen where the party is. Maybe I should have. Maybe Stephen's parents are at the casino and he defines "party" more intimately than I do.

I wonder what Lucas is doing tonight? Lucas is Tim's twin brother and the most deliciousness boy in the world. I drool at the sound of his name. Like Pavlov's bell with pecs and amazing shoulders.

Clothes on. Made up. Where's Sephora when you need its specialists?

Hair is so not Kate Beckinsale party scene. More like hostage on the twelfth day.

"Gert, Stephen is here," Mom yells up the stairs.

I spray on a last bit of hold­till­the­end­of­the­world hair spray. Tug. Tuck. Pinch. Heels. Must walk in heels like floating ballerina, not hippo.

Concentrate on stairs. Don't trip. Don't trip.

"Oh, hi." I try to act nonchalant yet completely put together. I think he buys it.

Oh, Holy­Mother­of­Old­Spice, somebody got cologne for Christmas.

"Ready?"

"Sure." I pick up my purse, which I've preplaced for optimal suave factor.

"Not too late, Gert." I can tell Mom's fighting the urge to scrapbook this moment.

And then there we are at the empty, parentalless car. Where's his father? I thought his parental was driving us?

"Where's the party?" I try to sound casual and slide into the car like Audrey Hepburn.

Stephen shuts the door and pretends he doesn't hear me. As soon as he turns on the ignition, the bass makes conversation impossible. How can he think with this much reverberation?

"Got new speakers from my brother," he screams in my direction. "Parents are out; Dad gave me the keys. No parents." He has the smarmiest look on his face. Does he think parents are the only reason we're not doing it like bunnies?

Good thing I'm adept at reading lips. I smile. Are we trying to break the speakers before MLK Day? 'Cause they're maxed out.

I buckle my seat belt while trying not to vomit. The boy pulls more Gs in this rusty heap­o'­metal than the space shuttle. I don't think cars are designed to do this. I hold on and pray. And try to look cute while keeping the vomit at the back of my throat.

Please tell me the party isn't too far away. I can't handle road­trip Stephen.

He's slowing down. Thank God. I wonder if I can roll down my window without him thinking it's because the entire bottle of cologne is asphyxiating me.

This looks like Jenny's neighborhood.

I roll down the foggy window. I don't care if it's cold, I need the view.

This is Jenny's neighborhood.

There are a ton of cars parked outside. It could be complete coincidence.

No. No, we cannot be pulling up here. He's kidding.

"You're joking, right? Messing with me?" I ask, but he motions he can't hear me over Fluffy Pete's acoustic rapping.

He brakes. Turns off the car. "This CD rocks. Did you say something?"

"Yeah, this isn't the party, right?" Please tell me you're really a serial killer. That works better for me.

He has the audacity to look perplexed. "So?" Now he's going to act all oblivious to the undertones of bringing me here.

"This is Jenny's house," I try to point out without screeching.

"So?"

Must I paint him a mural? "This is the party?"

He doesn't get it. "Yep. Let's go."

Is my reaction that hard to read? Could he possibly not know Jenny and I hate each other? Didn't I tell him before we ever started dating? I mean, I wouldn't put him up for a Mensa membership, but isn't it clearly defined in the school handbook that Jenny Cohen and I cannot abide each other? Stephen was in a group project with us; he knows.

I close my eyes and try to inhale.


From the Hardcover edition.
Amber Kizer

About Amber Kizer

Amber Kizer - 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes
Have you ever played a game called Three Truths? Basically, it’s like a multiple choice test except you have four choices and one of them is a total lie–the others are true…The point of the game is to figure out which one is a total lie . . . what’s that? You wish you could play right now? Well, goody because I think that’s much more fun than a dry bio–plus you could win big prizes (that’s a lie), but you’ll have the invigorating experience of being right. And really when it comes down to it, how can a new car beat being right?

We’ll start off easy to get you warmed up. First set: 1) Amber Kizer is my real name; 2) I live on an island; 3) I have a rooster named Fabio; 4) I have parakeets named Chirp and Pecker

Think you know which one is false? Say it out loud, no cheating! Ready? I do not have a penname, which means Amber Kizer is, in fact, my real name (although, I have considered writing under the name J.K. Rowling, just because it has such a catchy ring to it). I do live on an island. Unfortunately, it’s not a gorgeous tropical island. It’s in the Pacific Northwest where gray skies and green trees (thanks to the rain!) are the most popular colors. I do have a rooster named Fabio. He is named after a very famous cover model for romance novels–the human Fabio is beefy, doesn’t own t-shirts, and has long blond hair he swings around seductively. The chicken Fabio isn’t beefy (tastes like chicken), doesn’t own t-shirts, and has long blond feathers, which he does indeed throw around like he’s in front of a wind machine. I do not have parakeets because I don’t like cages and in my mind having parakeets is one step away from wearing housecoats, lycra in public, and owning 50 cats, all named Sweetie.

It’s going to get harder . . . 1) I make wedding cakes for fun; 2) I love reality TV–especially dating shows; 3) I have four kids and am married; 4) I don’t miss a minute of March Madness basketball if I can help it.

Think you know? I do make wedding cakes for fun, and birthday cakes, and I love you cakes, and cakes of all kinds. I love to bake. If you want to see photos of cakes I’ve made just visit my Web site at AmberKizer.com. I do love reality TV–and especially dating shows, the raunchier it is, the funnier and the better it is. Please don’t hold this against me, I’m in therapy to break the addiction! I adore college hoops and try not to miss any of the tournaments–men’s and women’s. I’m not married and don’t have kids–I’m young and, while I do hope those things are in my future somewhere way down the line, they’re on the wish list rather than in the cart. I am, however, in stock and ready to ship.

All right, I’m done being nice to you. Here’s a hard one: 1) I read 15—20 books concurrently; 2) I quilt; 3) Roses are my favorite flower; 4) I collect amber jewelry when I travel.

I do read a huge, high stack of books all at the same time–it keeps it interesting. There’s too much to learn in the world to read one from start to finish. So I read a chapter, change books, read a chapter and so on, until whatever I’m reading is so compelling I have to finish the book. Pretty much any topic is game, but I stay away from math theory and computer programming because they just give me a headache. I do quilt–I love working with colors and fabrics. I don’t quilt as often as I’d like because these hands are usually wrung dry from typing, but yum, it feeds my creative soul to stitch fabrics together. Roses are a favorite, but my ultimate favorite flowers are lilies–Casablanca white ones, Stargazer pinks, any of the really fragrant lilies–the scent makes my soul smile. So that was kinda a trick one because, of course, I collect amber jewelry. I love it and it looks good with my coloring, so it’s a win win.

Now, to the super-duper difficult ones: 1) I’ve wanted to be a writer since I could talk; 2) I wrote my first book at the age of five called “Wiggle Me, Tiggle Me”; 3) I only write when my muse taps me on the shoulder; 4) I don’t have to do much editing; it’s usually close to perfect the first time around.

Think you know? Ha ha, changed it up–they’re all LIES! LIES, LIES, LIES! Okay, so maybe that wasn’t fair, but it was fun. I always wanted to be a criminal prosecuting attorney and eventually a Supreme Court Justice. (Can you spell overachiever anyone?) But I played basketball fervently, and over the course of high school, I ended up with some fairly nasty injuries to my feet and legs. Those led to surgeries, which then gave room to a rare nerve disorder. I developed symptoms at age 18 and it totally and completely sucks (just telling it like it is). In the simplest of terms, the system that controls pain signals, temperature, circulation, and all that very important stuff is corrupted to the point that it’s wrong all the time–which means my legs hurt all the time and don’t always work for me when I ask them to. So this means my life has to be fairly fluid–I can not tell you how many plans I’ve had to cancel, how many shows I’ve given away tickets to, how many great ideas I’ve had to say “sorry” to. I know someone loves me when I say I’m hurting and they show up with ice cream and a video when we were supposed to go out. This also means that I can’t count on my legs to have a structured 9 to 5 job (although I’d love to do any number of things on a consistent basis), so I had to figure out a career that was flexible and that I could do on the good days, or from a horizontal position on the bad ones. A friend invited me to a workshop she was giving on how to teach writing to kids. I did all the activities, and I was hooked on storytelling. I came away from that six weeks with six pages of a story. I wanted to know the ending, so I kept writing.

Oh, and I should probably tell you that I started in adult romances. Yes, that’s right, I love romances and they’re completely a hoot to write–a hopeless romantic, I adore happy endings and who doesn’t like hot, steamy, monkey s---socks. Monkey socks. So I wrote one book, then another, then another. The whole time I was learning what I could about the craft–it’s like wanting to be a great artist you need to know the techniques and tools of the craft, and you have to practice. I also spent a great deal of time learning the business end of things–how agents work, how publishing works, what to expect, what to do right, and what to avoid doing at all costs. There’s so much to learn I’m convinced I will never know it all. But I worked my way up the scale from form letter rejections to handwritten notes to long, involved letters asking for revisions.

I was working on my fourth romance when a voice in my head started giving editorial input. “He put his hand where? That so wouldn’t happen . . . eeewww.” And on and on. Meet Gert. She had things to say and I desperately needed her to shut up, so I opened a new word document and went at it. I figured I’d let her go until she ran out of steam and then I could get back to the real writing. I guessed 20 pages tops before she ran out of things to say. That was 2005 and she’s still going. Nothing is off limits, she talks about everything–even the stuff parents hope their kids don’t know about. One Butt Cheek is the first in her series–the second From Butt to Booty comes out next fall.

I always edit. I always rewrite. And there are no such things as muses unless you use that as a synonym for discipline or perseverance.

My advice for anyone who thinks they want to be a writer is to hang glide. No, again that’s not the truth, but it sounds way more interesting than the truth, which is to . . . um . . . write. Also get good at surviving rejection because you have to. Because you have to put yourself out there all the time and learn how to shake it off and do it all over again the next day. You won’t get published if you don’t send it out. And you won’t get published if you send out crap that you haven’t perfected to the best of your ability. But it’s not easy, it’s not pain free and it’s not for the weak of spirit. It’s hard, competitive, and everyone thinks because they type out e-mails that writing a book can’t be much harder than that. Oh yeah, everyone thinks they could write the next bestseller without breaking a sweat, everyone thinks they’re a writer–just know that up front.

So here’s my advice–it’s really good practice to ask the cute boy out, call the girl who you’ve been crushing on since sixth grade, make yourself available and vulnerable. Because here’s the deal, they might say yes, they might have been enamored of you for ages, too. Because you could get the call that says, “We’ve got a contract offer on your book!” Or at the very least you’ll have some soul-wrenching real-life experience to write about and that, my friends, is the truth and nothing but the truth. So help me Gert.
Praise

Praise

Praise for One Butt Cheek at a Time:

“Readers will be cheering [Gert] along as she learns to follow her instincts instead of her illusions. A shot in the arm of an otherwise tiresomely formulaic genre.”—School Library Journal


From the Hardcover edition.

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