Sunday, September 30, 2007


I am in a cruddy mood. Most of it is too personal to blog about, but it sucks. I wish I could just be a happy person. I suppose if I were, I would never have a book coming out about my time spent in a mental hospital, but still. It must be nice to be a happy person.

Yesterday I spent all day in Naperville (an hour away, without traffic) at the Anderson's Bookshop Young Adult Author conference. It was fun being there as an author and a librarian. Copies of Get Well Soon were for sale (even though the official release date is not until Tuesday), and people bought it. I signed quite a few books. I really wanted to keep a running tally sheet, but I thought that might look weird. I wish I did, though, looking back. Do you think it would be absolutely tacky to call/email Anderson's to see how many copies I sold? Do authors do that?

I was also on a panel of newer authors with two other people: Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, author of The Shadow Speaker and James Lecesne, author of the forthcoming Absolute Brightness. They were very nice and fun to be with on a panel. James acted as the moderator, and he was very funny (and had on shiny silver Converse!). I have not yet read their books, but I definitely will. After I finish reading the two books I'm reading now. One of which I have been reading for at least two months. If only I weren't so tired all of the time...

I had two people come up to me for autographs and tell me that they, too, had been hospitalized. It's amazing how many people have. One woman said to me she hopes my book helps remove the stigma of being in a mental hospital. That's a tall order, and I almost feel too goofy of a person to have any real effect like that. I do hope people relate and laugh, but I don't think I could ever go on Oprah as a spokesperson for mental hospital stays. Not like Jenny McCarthy and her autism soapbox. I don't know what to think, O Lady with the Breast Implants. Kind of takes away from the whole authority thing, in my opinion.

Two more days until Get Well Soon is in stores!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Zoo Review

So the blog was not working for days, and now it seems to be working. I know you were all freaking out.

I had a bunch of things I wanted to blog about, but I forget. One of the things was this dream I had. In real life, I will be doing a reading of Get Well Soon at The Book Stall in Winnetka, IL on October 6, and I know a bunch of my students will be there. I am worried about reading the swears aloud and am debating censoring the reading. So the dream was that I was on Oprah, holding a copy of Get Well Soon that was filled with crossed out words. I did a terrible reading, stuttering and blurring all of the words. And the worst part is that it was live. It’s such a classic dream situation. No question about what I was dreaming about there.

In other news, I got another great review of Get Well Soon. First I just have to say that I got one lame review in School Library Journal. That makes two for two lames reviews in SLJ (my first book, Toby and the Snowflakes, was reviewed by a college librarian. Hello? Do you even read to little kids? How would you know what they like?). I wasn’t going to blog about it, but now that I am vindicated by three good reviews to one bad one, I feel OK about. I think the reviewer had some serious issues with therapy of her own. She commented on the relationship with the mother in GWS, which was so insignificant (deliberately, by the way, so I wouldn’t upset my mom) and something a teen wouldn’t even notice. And she said something about my swearing, like it was unnatural or gratuitous (I don’t feel obligated to quote the review directly, since the review suggests that perhaps the reviewer didn’t look very closely at my book anyway. Nyah.), and if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s swear. Whatev. Here’s my great Booklist review:

“I am a huge waste of life and space, and I’m tired of being alive and having to deal with it.” After a period of panic attacks, depression, and cutting school, Anna Bloom’s parents send her to Lakeland , a Chicago mental-health facility. In letters addressed to her best friend, Tracy, Anna recounts her three weeks in the adolescent ward. Debut author Halpern drew from her own teen experiences with depression, and Anne’s voice, filled with spot-on musings, sarcasm, slang, and swearing, is uproariously funny and authentic, whether offering vivid accounts of “Lake Shit’s . . . booger green and vomit brown” decor, bewildering therapy sessions, or the shock and pleasure of finding friends, romance, confidence, and belonging: “This place seems to erase all social stereotypes. There [is] absolutely no pressure to be cool or skinny or entertaining.” Many teens will connect with the vague anxiety that lands Anna in treatment as well as her subtle, realistic sense that her life is her own to value and shape.

— Gillian Engberg

My favorite line is “uproariously funny.” Love it!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's Almost Here

Well, Ladies and Germs, GET WELL SOON's release date is fast approaching. It sure has been a long wait. And then at the end of October, another long wait will be over-- seeing if my segment made it onto Antiques Roadshow. I will post more about that when the date gets closer.

For those of you in the Chicagoland area, I will be at The Book Stall at 2:00 on Saturday, October 6 signing copies of Get Well Soon. I will also do a little reading, but I can't decide if I should leave in the swears. My fear is that some of my students will be there, and I pride myself in not swearing in front of my kids. But it will be in a different context than school. Hmmm... I can't decide.

In cold update news, I have a sinus infection. I always seem to get sinus infections now. So annoying. I have been quite dizzy for days. The antibiotic hurts my tummy, although I am grateful there hasn't been any barfing. Matt cleaned the toilet for me the night I started the antibiotic. Isn't that sweet?

Excuse the randomness of this post. I think I will make an exciting poll that all two of you reading will answer. I do love making polls.

What would you like to read about in my blog? Check all that apply.
My books and writing
TV shows I am watching
Celebrity gossip
My colds
Britney Spears, all the time
Books I am reading
The Sims 2
Random stuff
Free polls from

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Boog Update

My cold is progressing nicely, and I thought it was pretty much over except that now I have a ton of pressure in my ears. I wonder if I have an ear infection. I never have, even when I was younger. The big suck that upsets me is that I will probably have to call my doctor tomorrow and see if I can even get an appointment, and then I have to jiggle my work schedule around, and then I'll have to wait two hours even if I get an appointment. Crap. I hate being sick. I hate going to the doctor. No matter what it's for, I always think it's going to be really bad and scary. I'm such a wuss.

Is anyone watching the new Tim Gunn show? I like it, although I haven't been able to watch any of the episodes more than once; they're a little depressing. The women seem so insecure, it makes me sad. At least they feel better at the end. I wish I felt better. My head feels worse as I type this. Cross your fingers that I can get an early doc appointment tomorrow.

Snotting off.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I am home sick today with a cold. I knew it was coming, since I've had a severe sore throat for days. My colds always start that way (maybe everybody's do). Plus, the kids have been sneezing and hacking up a storm. And they always throw their snot rags in the garbage can right next to my desk. Maybe I should supply a garbage can and label it "For Boogers Only."

It's too bad that I'm sick because yesterday a photographer from the Chicago Tribune came by my school to take pictures of me for an upcoming ____ in the Trib. I'm not quite sure what it is yet or when it will run. They said they may do an interview, and there will probably be a review. I just wish I felt better yesterday because I know I looked lethargic (ooh- like Britney!) and probably a little pasty. Oh well. I'm not super vain when it comes to photographs (although we'll see how I'm feeling when the thing actually runs). I'll keep you posted when I know more. Or, if you are a subscriber, you can keep me posted.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Last night we went to the Blind Faith Cafe for Matt's birthday. The dinner was OK- very vegetarian with brown rice and seitan. Not my favorite, but it was Matt's choice. My mom and I usually love their cornbread, but it was way burnt. I would rate the meal a B-. When we got to our parked car, the car we paid an absurd $9.00 to have washed earlier in the day (Matt somehow manages to always pick an expensive wash choice. He's really into the undercarriage wash), it was COVERD in purple and white bird poo. So nasty. Today we tried to blow it all off with the POWER CONE setting on our hose, but it wouldn't all come off. I had a blast spraying the little towel we were using to wipe off the poop. Matt would wipe the car with the cloth, set it on the ground, and I would wash the poop off the cloth with the hose. Except I kept leaving it on POWER CONE, and the cloth would just fly down the driveway. For some reason this was hilarious, and I did it many times. The end of this story is that we are going to go back to the same gas station and get the car washed again. Not for $9.00, though. I can’t imagine the birds pooped under the car.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy New Year!

I am sooooo happy that I have tomorrow off for Rosh Hashanah. Every time I thought about it today, I shivered with delight. I don't know why. Of course it's great to have a day off of work, but I am REALLY happy about it this time. So here are the things I am going to do on my day off:

1. Watch Whoopi on The View (too bad Hassleback hasn't had her baby yet, so I don't have to look at her annoying mug).
2. Play Sims 2 Bon Voyage.
3. Type for at least an hour and a half (editing my new book).
4. Try to get on the treadmill.
5. Try not to eat all of the chocolate cookies I baked for Matt's birthday.
6. Head to my aunt's house for dinner.

Things I SHOULD do tomorrow:
1. Actually exercise.
2. Not eat the cookies (I may ask Matt to hide them tonight).
3. Work on my mailing list for my Get Well Soon.
4. Type for more than an hour and a half.
5. Some laundry.

Wishing everyone a sweet, happy and healthy new year!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why Do I Care?

Why do I care about poor Britney Spears? I so wanted her to succeed at the VMAs. I don't even have MTV, but I woke up and immediately found the footage on the internet. Oy. She barely moved. And she couldn't stand in her shoes. I'm not so upset about the lipsyncing [i think I spelled that wrong](she's a performer, people, not a fabulous singer), but I hated having to watch other people watch her. How can she come back now? And that song is decent! Why, oh why, did that have to happen? I'm all broken up about it. Poor thing.

In much better performance news, I watched the movie Air Guitar Nation last night. It's a documentary about the International Air Guitar Championships that take place every year in Finland. I LOVED it! I couldn't sleep, I was so jacked up on air guitar excitement. It didn't help that the main "character"- C-Diddy- "played" the excellent "Play with Me" by Extreme (um, I had NO idea that's who played that song until I looked it up under the listing for Bill and Ted's Excellent Advneture soundtrack.), which is funny and rockin' at the same time. Click HERE to listen to it at YouTube. Listen to the beginning, then fast forward to 2:30 for the gist.I may have to watch the movie again tonight. It's the feel-good hit of the year! Sorry. I'm being a dork. Must be the Extreme combined with the whole air guitar thing. Now if I can only find my mullet...

Saturday, September 08, 2007


I received a haircut today (I originally wrote "got" instead of "received," but I am trying to sound fancier. Or correct, as it were. Is that correct?). I have been seeing the same hairstylist for ten years now, and we talked about how much we've changed and how many things have happened in our lives. It's pretty cool. We're the same age, so she could (god willing) be cutting my hair well into my middle age+. Wow.

In other news, I believe there is a shortage of Haribo black and red raspberry candies because the mall candy store was out (the bin only filled with the remnant black and red beads), and when I went to Walgreen's to buy a bag, they were out. Curious. So instead I bought a small bad of Autumn Mix. I am not one of those people who only likes to look at Candy Corn (because I know there are people out there who just sit around staring at candy all day. Yeah.). I truly enjoy it's mellow (HA! Because aren't they officially called "Mellow Cremes? Or is it mello? Whatev.) flavoring and happy, autumn colors. The pumpkins in the Autumn Mix are a bit much, and I find myself biting away at them with my front teeth. I normally just alretante between the chocolate and regular candy corn.

I have this weird (or not) feeling that I wrote about the exact same thing around this time last year on my blog. So after I publish this, I'm going to go back and check.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I wish I was more interesting these days. Work has sucked it right out of me. I think things will be better starting next week because they were already better today. Lots more kids, which makes it really fun. But I'm just tired. So tired. A little flaky. I'm dealing with some computer crap- which is lame because all of the crap is surrounding the fact that I never know if and how I should renew my Norton stuff, and the whole reason it's annoying me is that it's making my new Sims2 expansion pack- Bon Voyage!- way slow. I am such a Sims nerd. I actually bought a new computer last year because my old one was too slow for The Sims. But it does bring me such pleasure. I'll update you on my updates when they actually are updated.

New teen review of Get Well Soon at

Sorry for the continuous lameness of my recent blogs. I'll try to try harder.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

New Review!

Sorry my blog posts are sparse. I am exhausted from my first week back at work with kids. Not that I have seen many of them yet, but with last week and the beginning of this week (and the teachers who need their stuff NOW) I am pooped. It should calm down soon, and then people will be nicer. It's hard to remember that at the beginning of the year, though.

I got my second published GET WELL SOON review today from Kirkus Reviews. I have heard they are notoriously negative, so this is quite a good review. There's just a confusing (sort of negative, but more babbly) sentence toward the end, and the rest is good. Here it is:

Kirkus Reviews


Halpern, Julie

In funny, easygoing prose, 16-year-old Anna writes letters while spending three difficult, involuntary weeks in a mental institution. Anna’s parents placed her there because she stopped going to school due to panic attacks, crying jags and death wishes. Socially insecure and self-hating, Anna sardonically notes the hospital’s arbitrary rules and “sticky, slightly padded” walls. Very slowly, she makes friends and even manages a romance (despite a strict no-touching rule). The staff seems useless and harsh (responding to tears, her therapist says, “Shut up, and stop being such a baby”), but Anna’s immense improvement over the three weeks may imply that the doctors help more than she reports. Alternatively, the change could be from anti-depressants and time away from her parents. She develops from an overly obliging bundle of nerves to someone who gets angry. Muddled textual messages about attractiveness portray weight loss as both an unfair (and non-feminist) requirement and also an exciting accomplishment; otherwise, this is an appealingly comic cousin of Carolyn Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (2003). (Fiction. YA)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Tip O' the Day

If you want to impress someone with your fresh breath, don't eat Funyuns.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


I don't know why I'm still fascinated with Britney Spears. I used to like her (not in a major way, but enough) for her decent songs and way great dancing abilities. I even thought it was kind of fun when she had-not one- but two babies right in a row! And they are very cute babies, I must say. But why does she keep going crazy? Why must she continually mess with the press (for those who don't know, Brit has signed on for at least two major interviews and ditched out on both)? I am almost fed up with the girl. Now she has a new single out (although, why is it only available through Ryan Seacrest's radio show?), which is so-so (I will admit that they're all pretty so-so. I normally prefer her dancing to improve the song. I'm a sucker for choreography). Anyway, judge for yourself HERE (the song to click on is called "Gimme More."), and share with me what you think. I don't know how I feel about "It's Britney, Bitch." Who you callin' a bitch?

In slightly related news, I had a dream last night that J.Lo was filming a video for her new song (The new song was a completely made up song in my dream. Do you guys ever have dreams with entirely fake- and catchy- songs?) in a library. She was supposed to be a sexy librarian.