Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy New Years!

May 2009 bring you good health, good friends, and much joy. Happy New Year everyone!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Gifts

In the shameless self-promotion department, which I really stink at--most people who know me don't even know that I write books--I thought I should mention that if you are giving (or end up receiving) one of my books as gift this holiday season and would like it signed, it easy! Just send me an email at and ask for a bookplate.

A bookplate is a little square sticker (mine is from Random House) that you can paste inside your book. Just send your address, who it should be made out to, and how many you'd like. Then presto, a signed book.

Happy shopping everyone!

More later,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I about you??? The lines weren't long and everything was run very efficiently. Thank you to all the poll workers putting in long hours to make sure democracy works.

I hardly slept last night thinking about the election. This one feels so important, we are on the cusp of a lot of major events. I hope, as a nation, we steer ourselves in the right direction. So don't get left out, make your rights as a thinking, caring American count. Vote.

More later,


Monday, October 27, 2008

St. Pete Reading Festival part II.

Thanks for everyone who came to my talk on Saturday, it was a beautiful day in St. Pete, the kind that makes up for suffering through the horrible summer heat. Fall is like the rebate we get in the mail for sweating too much in the summer.

I had a great time talking about High Dive and answering questions. It was especially great to meet Allison who wore this awesome T-shirt she made for a class project. Pretty cool, huh? She got on A on it...


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

St. Petersburg Times Reading Festival

I've been meaning to mention for a while now that I'll be speaking on Saturday October 25th at the St. Petersburg Reading Festival in downtown St. Petersburg. It's an awesome event, even if you can't come see me. My good buddy David Liss will be there, so you know it's going to be a classy event.

Hope to see you there!


Friday, July 25, 2008

No fear

For all of you who came to my signings in Maine, Florida, and Virginia, thank you!! It's always scary for writers to have signings because what if no one shows up? It's like throwing a party with no RSVPs, you just don't know if anyone will come. So it was awesome to meet so many friendly people who were excited about High Dive and came to the signings. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And now you can really feel like glittering literati because check out this review of High Dive in the St. Petersburg Times! (Reviews are also something writers are often scared of. It's like a slam book that gets published in the Sunday paper...) But this one was nice.

Review: Tammar Stein's 'High Dive' a diamond in the fluff for teens

By Vikas Turakhia, Special to the Times
In print: Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fifteen years ago, I occasionally found a book that connected with me hidden among the Francine Pascal and Christopher Pike novels that dominated the library's teen shelves. Some of these stories resonated so strongly that I remember more about
them now than I do much of what I slogged through as
an English major.

Teens who come across High Dive, by Florida writer Tammar Stein, might experience a similar rush. Stein's narrator, 19-year-old Arden Vogel, grew up an Army brat, moving frequently. The only place that feels like home is her family's vacation house in Sardinia, but now, three years after Arden's father died, her mother, an Army nurse serving in Iraq, has sold it. During a flight to Sardinia, Arden befriends four seemingly carefree girls beginning a vacation. They invite her to join them in Paris and Florence, and Arden agrees, seeing an opportunity to delay something she dreads.

Arden's lingering grief over her father and the girls' inevitable conflicts give the story drama, and the descriptions of European sights will make readers consider booking a trip. Where High Dive scores highest, however, is in the voice it gives to families of deployed soldiers.

Arden provides a perspective few teens will find anywhere else. She notes, for example, the way people react to news of her mom's deployment "like something awful had already happened," conveying their "concern, pity, and that slight hint of distaste." Arden can't escape her anxiety. Even when she's transfixed by Michelangelo's David, her mind drifts to her mother's e-mails about the trauma she has witnessed, and Arden has to remind herself, "Be present in the moment."

I worry that a book like this will get lost behind the manufactured series about It Girls and A-listers that have replaced the Pascal and Pike of my time. With High Dive, Stein tackles weighty issues without being patronizing but, more important, she offers a timely story that will ripple for readers long after they jump in.

Vikas Turakhia is an English teacher in Ohio.

Friday, June 6, 2008


So hurricane season started on Sunday and so far so good. We did have the precocious Arthur forming before the season officially started, but he never got close to us. Still, I have cause for concern. You see, I've just read the storm names for the 2008 season and it's doesn't look good.

Last year, the B storm was named Barry. I knew I didn't have anything to worry about. Even when it arrived at Florida on June 2, one day after the start of the season, I didn't even flinch. How can you fear a storm named Barry? Puleaze. But this year, I'm scared. This year, the B storm is Bertha. Bertha! What the hell were they thinking? Bertha can do major damage. Cristobal could be bad. Dolly...I don't know. I just don't know. Edouard. Fay. Gustav. Hanna. Ike. Josephine. Kyle. Laura. Marco. Nana...

The experts are calling for an active storm season, so there's a good chance we make it O. If we do, we're all doomed. The O storm this year is...Omar.

Assuming we survive Omar, which I'm not counting on, we still have Paloma, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred.

Buy lots of bottled water. Keep your gas tank 3/4 full. And head for the hills when Big Bertha comes to town.

More later,


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Locational Worries

June first is the start of hurricane season, something we keep a close eye on here in Florida. The local paper published a special section with a color photo of a satellite image of Florida completely covered by a gigantic hurricane. The headline in huge letters announced: It Only Takes One. It was full of nice little stories of how babies get sucked out of their mother's arms and that we shouldn't count on any assistance for up to a week after a major storm. I love it how they're not trying to scare us or anything. But it got me thinking, I've lived in a bunch of places and each place had it own special disaster, just waiting to happen. So here are the things that have kept me up at night, in chronological order.

Germany: My husband and I lived in military housing in Germany right after 9/11. In the aftermath of our invasion of Afghanistan, we started getting regular protesters marching and waving signs at the entrance to the base. They were peaceful for the most part, though we'd get emails from the public affairs officer advising us to stay the hell away from them. As a Jew, with a grandfather who survived the holocaust and a 3 year aunt who didn't, I found these profoundly pacifist protesters highly ironic. But for the most part, I just worried they'd block the drive and I wouldn't be able to get to my apartment. My car was searched every time I entered the post, so I suppose that I worried about being a terrorist target. In helpful public service announcements, we were advised to try not to look "American" when we went out in the general public, because heaven knows what evil-doer is out there, waiting for a tender little American target to walk by.

Texas: Mostly I worried about floods, snakes, scorpions, and not drinking enough horchata.

Tennessee: Tornadoes. First time in my life I was glued to the television watching StormTracker keep tabs on all the tornadoes touching down in my county. Then the power went out and I was left in a house with no basement (bad) and no rooms without windows (very bad) in the middle of a tornado warning, trying to decide if spending the night crouched in the closet was a good idea or not. I decided to take my chances sleeping in bed.

Florida: Hurricanes I obviously knew about before I came here. But once here, I've discovered a whole host of things to worry about. Alligators (especially during mating season), snakes (especially the highly poisonous coral snake, remarkable common in my neck of the woods), poisonous toads, cement eating termites, tornadoes, forest fires, global warming (a serious problem when a house at 20 feet above sea-level is considered a mountain top home), fleas and ticks so strong and immune to repellent that my area is the testing ground for pet medicine, sink holes that can swallow up entire houses, sun stroke, old drivers (probably the most dangerous of all mentioned threats), shark attacks, and lightening strikes--which kill more people in Florida than any other state.

After exclaiming in horror over the poor woman who found an 8 and a half food alligator in her kitchen, the trainer at my gym said, "New York City has nothing on us. The worst someone might do to you there is shoot you. Here you might get eaten!"

More later,