A visit from the Miami Herald

"Do the mosquito dance," I told Laura, the reporter from the Miami Herald, as we walked around the house where I grew up. "Let's move fast," I said. "Looks like it's going to rain."

"What kind of fish are these?" she asked, peering into the koi pond. I explained that they're all named after planets in the solar system. We checked out the old Indian well, hand-dug by a tribe of Tequestas, where I once tossed icky kitchen potions (the type I dared my friends to drink).

On the deck, I scooped up a waterlogged air plant. "Don't they look like tribbles from Star Trek?"

She smiled at me. "Um. I'm not familiar with Star Trek."

"Watch out. I'm a big dork," I told her. "You've been warned."

We couldn't fend off the flesh-eating mosquitoes so we ducked inside the house. Laura said that she’d read Total Constant Order in one day (I had just dropped it in the mail!) My cheeks burned. All I could say was, "Thank you!" We talked about Fin's blog and how the YA market is becoming more interactive—not to mention, more popular—even with "grown up" readers.

Laura scribbled in her notebook. She had come armed with loads of interesting questions. Since I used to work in the trenches as a freelance writer, I know that sometimes it's hard to pull stories out of people. I tried to give her as much info as possible. We spoke for two hours. It felt like talking to a friend. Then Laura packed up her notebook and portable recorder and drove away, just as the Herald photographer pulled into the driveway.

"The skeeters are wicked here," he said, fanning his face.

"Welcome to the jungle," I said.

Don't let anybody tell you that modeling is easy. The photographer plunked me in a chair and murmured advice (Thank goodness...because I had no clue how to pose). "Hold your left shoulder with your right hand. Now open the fingers," he said.

"Yeah. This is how I always sit," I said, rolling my eyes.

He asked if I felt like climbing a tree.

"I'd rather sit in a tree than a chair," I said, lacing up my Chucks.

He propped a ladder beside one of my favorite fork-shaped oaks (a tree house used to rest in its branches) and laughed when I scurried up without it (I thought the ladder was a prop!) "Now find the light," he told me. "Angle your face toward the sun." It sounded like something Tyra Banks would say. But Tyra was right. Although the sky was fleeced with clouds, I caught a sliver of sunlight and tilted toward it. When the photog gave me a sneak-peek of the picture in his Canon digital, I knew he had orchestrated the shot with an expert eye.

When he left, the house felt bigger, quieter.

Then slowly it began to rain.