If you thought you would've done more with your life by this year's birthday, here's a story to make you feel even worse. At 15, Flavia Bujor is a best- selling author and has been anointed the newest "international literary sensation," drawing comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. The Romanian-born teen, who calls Paris home, wrote her novel The Prophecy of the Stones when she was 13. A family friend submitted the manuscript to a French publishing firm, and before she knew it, Bujor had a book deal. Prophecy is a fantasy about Joa, an isolated, hospitalized girl who survives by imagining three young heroines -- Jade, Opal and Amber -- and their quest to use three stones against a menacing force that threatens the land of Fairytale. Soon after the deal, the book was on the French and German best-seller lists and published in 21 countries -- impressive for someone unsure if she even wants to write professionally. "I would like to continue writing, but I don't want to be solely a writer," she says. "I couldn't bear being isolated in front of my computer and only emerging into the real world to do the promotion."
But promoting Bujor is, for now. And she's settled, if somewhat begrudgingly, for being the teen queen of fantasy until she releases her next work. "I didn't plan to write about or for young people when I started working on The Prophecy," she says. "It just evolved that way. I think that my writing will continue to evolve based on new experiences." Bujor signs at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 13, at Murder By the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit www.murderbooks.com. Free. -- Steven Devadanam
Nothing sounds better than a trip to the beach, right? Once you're there, however, reality sets in: The sand is covered in tar, the water looks like your morning coffee, and you have to dodge dead fish all over the place. Duck the crowds and head to Palm Beach at Moody Gardens. At Sunset Rhythms, MG's Saturday-night shindig, you can chill to steel-drum music, sip cocktails and dive in the lagoons. Kids driving you nuts? Send 'em to the face painters, balloon artists and magicians who are on hand to entertain. Sure, it's a prefab beach experience, but the sand is white, the water is crystal blue, and the only dead fish are the ones being cooked at the nearby cafe. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays. One Hope Boulevard. For information, call 800-582-4673 or visit www.moodygardens.com. Free. -- Steven Devadanam
Riding with a squat, octogenarian actor on a trip through the Midwest in his 40-foot luxury bus isn't at the top of our list of things to do. But cult director Jeff Krulik (Heavy Metal Parking Lot) did just that for 1997's Ernest Borgnine on the Bus. In the flick, Borgnine talks about his movies and his life -- and has unstaged encounters with the folks he meets while manning the vehicle he calls the Sunbum. Also screening at Dean's is Krulik's King of Porn, about Library of Congress archivist Ralph Whittington and his huge private smut collection. Ernest Borgnine and porn -- what's not to like about that double feature? 9 p.m. Mondays in July. Dean's Credit Clothing, 316 Main. For information, call 713-868-2103 or visit www.aurorapictureshow.com. $5. -- Bob Ruggiero
ArtHouston lives up to its name
A brain-shattering 38 galleries are slated to participate in this week's ArtHouston event, with lavish openings on Friday and Saturday for artists new and established, local and international, encompassing everything from pen-and-ink drawings to avant-garde installations. The event is an opportunity for the local I-don't-know-art-but-I-know-what-I-like set to hone their subjective instincts. It's also a chance to do a little pigging out on the free snacks always present at art openings (perhaps one reason the legendary Starving Artist Syndrome doesn't result in more fatalities). Culinary freeloading aside, how often can you saunter casually from an opening of pre-Columbian, tribal and Asian antiques (Lowell Collins Gallery) to one where an artist utilizes wood, tea bags and beeswax to explore "Gardens and Ecosystems" (Koelsch Gallery)? Friday and Saturday, July 9 and 10. For information on participating galleries, call 713-522-9116 or visit www.arthouston.com. Free. -- Scott Faingold
For the Rest of Us
Seriously, you didn't think you were gonna score ducats to this weekend's All-Star Game without ponying up some major cash, did you? Cheer up: There'll be throngs of baseball fans in assorted jerseys packing downtown in honor of the biggest sporting event since February 1. So slide over to the Main Event party for two stages of live music and an open- container policy. And while you're root-root-rooting for the home team, check out local-boys-made-good Blue October on the main stage Saturday night. 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 9. Through Monday, July 12. Main Street (between Congress and Capitol). For information, call 713-658-8938 or visit www.deda.org. Free. -- Steven Devadanam