Friday, July 31, 2009

YA Author Friday Questions!

I declare a new feature: YA Authors answer the ten questions of the Proust Questionnaire, aka the questions James Lipton asks on Inside the Actors Studio. I'm going to try and have a different author featured each Friday. So far I have one taker. I shall start with my own answers, and, dear reader, feel free to answer the questions below in the comments section! [Side note: I deleted all of the "labels" that I had throughout my blog because they wouldn't link. I added a search bar at the top of the blog, so you can go back and search for things if you wish.]

1. What is your favorite word? Toilet. At least when I'm playing Madlibs.
2. What is your least favorite word? Incompetence.
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Sincerity.
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Hipsters.
5. What sound or noise do you love? My daughter farting in her crib in the morning.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? Fire alarms in schools.
7. What is your favorite curse word? Turd.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Travel agent or hair stylist.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Doctor.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Nothing will be difficult from now on.

Look for another YA author's answers next Friday!

More Comic-Con

I'm going to send you over to my husband's blog (children's book writer and illustrator, Matthew Cordell!) to see our Comic-Con pictures. It takes forever to load them on blogger, and since he already did it, I figure why not visit him? I am also working on the label feature at the bottom of my blog. It always publishes with errors, but I'd really like it to work. Particularly because I'm concocting a secret new blog feature that will hopefully involve many excellent YA authors, for which I'd like a label so you can always go back and read the older posts. Stay tuned for many possible errors until I get this label thing to work! And enjoy Matt's blog.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

That's How I Write

If someone would have asked me two weeks ago if I were going to write a new book this summer, I would have answered, "Are you crazy? I have a new baby and I can't get my act together enough to write a book, let alone clean up that tiny piece of cat poo that has been sitting on the living room floor for a week!" But here I am, writing a new book. (I think Matt got to the poo.) Weirdness. So far I really like what I've got, and, as it's my third novel, it's really made me look at the way I write. Not in a way, like, I need to look at things and change them, but in just a way that's like, hey, I kind of have an interesting way of writing a book. Let me explain.

I often read or see writers speak about their writing process, which many can do in a very elaborate, researched, planned way. In my life, at least pre-baby brain, I would say I had been very researched and planned about most everything. Post-baby brain, I don't have the time or energy to devote to things such as, say, cleaning my house as I once did (oh, who am I kidding? I never devoted myself to that. I'm referring more to things like vacation planning, scheduling of activities, meals, etc.). What was my point? Oh yes, that I don't really plan my books. This book, which so far contains a vague plot and some vague characters and some possoble traveling, is coming out as I write. And I guess that's how I do it. With Get Well Soon, which had so much content that actually happened to me, I did much more planning. With my second book, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder (coming this fall to a store near you!), much less. This next one, tentatively titled Don't Stop Now (a reference to one of my favorite bands, Guided By Voices), just has a very lose outline. In fact, my agent asked me to write up a little description, and I was like, um, can I lie? It's very interesting to me that I can just sit down for an hour or two and write as though I am reading. That's the best way I can describe it. It's not like I know what's going to happen next, although there are random details that I want to include (certain foods people must eat, towns they must visit, kisses they must have), but otherwise, it's anyone's guess, including mine, what is going to happen on the rest of the pages. Which is why I enjoy writing. A surprise in every box!

I'm curious: what are some of the ways other writers out there choose to write? Or, don't choose, for that matter?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Comic-Con Recap

Man, what to say? I could tell stories of plane and baby stress and hotel room-shared-with-baby stories, which really made up the majority of the trip, but I’m assuming you’d rather hear more about the Comic-Con itself. I will only disappoint most of you who probably would love to hear about my rendezvous with Johnny Depp and the Twilight actors, but, no, I refuse to fly for over four hours just to wait in insane lines, only to have to camp out in a big ol’ hall all day just to see a person who does, well, nothing really except pretend (and some quite poorly, thank you very much) to be someone else on a screen and then most of the rest of the time just walks around having people think they are cool. Have you seen those pictures of the Twilight actors? Try a little harder, why dontcha? Anyway, here’s a recap:
-Walked the exhibit hall floors with way too many bags (Romy toys
and diaper stuff, plus our own food and things).

-Romy was a hit with her Leia hairdo. People were taking pictures of her. Let me know if you see any of these posted on the web.

-Saw a bunch of independent comic artists speak about their work, including Lewis Trondheim, Seth, and Richard Thompson. Scratch that. Matt saw a lot of them, I only saw pieces of their panels and then had to leave because Romy was freaking out.

-Walked out on an indie comic panel from someone who shall not be named, but let’s just say she was horrifically boring and didn’t try for an instant to be pleasant or entertaining, even though she was the spotlight of the panel. So rude.

-Got an autographed copy of the new Clique book from Lisi Harrison. She was really nice (Romy in the Leia buns always helps) when I told her my students can’t get enough of her books. I will be giving away the signed book for a contest at work. Have to think of contest idea.

-Loved watching all of the funny costumes. Sometimes it’s just fun to sit and people watch. However, it was SO CROWDED on Saturday that that became impossible. Will post pictures in another post.

-Best panel of the whole Con was the Spongebob one, where all of the voice actors did a live reading of an episode, answered tons of questions, and then debuted a new episode. It was so fun to watch Spongebob in a large group. Plus, Romy slept the whole time so I could enjoy it!

-I got to meet Alex Winter (Bill, from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, who I’ve loved forever), albeit for a much shorter amount of time than I envisioned. Here’s the one blurry picture we got:

-Saw Amber Benson. She was rather beautiful in person.

-Ate a gross, giant pretzel and some really good cookies.

I am now going to sound like a big, honking nerd, but Comic-Con is not nearly as much fun now that it is SO popular. Matt and I went six years ago for our honeymoon, and the attendance number was literally about half of what it is nowadays. Which meant we could get into things we wanted to see, like the Futurama panel, without waiting in lines, and it was just all around a nicer experience. Matt thinks the hoopla will die down over the years, and again it will become more of a comic-lovers place, not a fame-whore expo. I don’t know about that, but I can say that I don’t need to go to Comic-Con for a while. At least for another year.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Comic-Con Planola

We're heading out to the San Diego Comic-Con this week. It will be Matt and my third time (the first being on our honeymoon) and Romy's first. She's still nice and portable, so it should be a relatively easy trip (although, well, we'll just have to wait and see about that). Matt and I don't fall into the hoopla that goes on in HALL H (where all of the famous people are) because that's all about camping out in your seat and big, long lines, just to see famous people for famous people's sake. Instead, we find some of the nice indie comics people to see (this year's crop includes one-named Seth, Lewis Trondheim, and Richard Thompson), as well as some silly and random programming, along with TONS of time in the exhibit hall to shop and ogle. I love to get lost in the throws of nerdlings and comics! Below are some of the things I am most excited about seeing:
-The Futurama panel. This has been my favorite panel each year because they always have the cast speaking, and they are hilarious! The guy who plays Bender slays me. The annoying thing is that each year, as Comic-Con gets more crowded and popular, this gets more and more packed. Last year we had to wait in a long line, and who knows what to expect this year, which has already sold out? Still, it really has been my favorite, laugh-out-loud event both times I've gone, so this may be the one line we brave. Unless...
-The Big Bang Theory is having a panel, and I really like this show. It's not in Hall H, so maybe it's not expected to be as popular as something else?
-Alex Winter, of Bill and Ted fame, is directing something that I have no interest in. However, I am a big Alex fan. Loved his weird TV show The Idiot Box with Eddie the Flying Gimp as well as his movie, Freaked. Hoping he'll sign one of my Freaked dolls!
-1o Year Spongebob panel. Bringing Romy in her Spongebob outfit.
-A Glee! panel and showing. I don't know if it will be insanely crowded, though, which might push me away. Plus, maybe it will ruin the mystique of the show?
-A panel with Seth Green and Breckin Meyer. Just would be cool to see them.

There is more, I'm certain, but Romy's, um, attached to me at the moment and I can't get up to look at my schedule. I just hope that the plane and hotel go on without a hitch, so we can enjoy the insanity that is Comic-Con!!!

To relive some of the 2007 Con, click here. (Sorry about the super-slow loading.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Good Web Stuff and Bad Web Stuff

Good Web Stuff:
Scroll down for a picture of me and my family at ALA- even before pictures of Neil Gaiman! (How did that happen???)

Bad Web Stuff:
Scroll down to the review of the Get Well Soon audiobook.

For fifty points for your Hogwarts House, why is the above bad?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

ALA Part 2

Yeah, so, like I promised, I will now write more about my experiences at ALA last weekend. But what I really want to talk about is Harry Potter! Anyway, let's see... ALA. I'd like to thank the sweet group of BBYAers who waited at my publisher's booth before my signing and then took a picture with me (where is this picture? If you're reading this and you have this picture, send it my way!). Actually, that makes me curious as to where there may possibly be other pictures of me. Like, at the Coffee Klatch (I mean, they had a professional-looking photographer snapping away! Where are these pictures? And, come to think of it, I never saw the pictures from when I went to NYC to accept the NAMI award over a year ago. Another professional Photog. Maybe they just hire people to look like professional photographers so that people at the events feel special, but there really isn't any film in the cameras. What was I talking about?). Anywho, my husband, Matthew Cordell, had a very nice parallel post about ALA, so I'm just going to send you over there for the rest of the ALA info.

Now for Potter! I now truly believe that the whole reason they switched the Potter schedule and released the movie way after the fact was because if it came out when it was originally supposed to (November 21, 2008) I would not have been able to see it in the theater because Romy was born six weeks early (November 1). Because she is now able to eat solids and I can be away from her for about 3 and a half ours without my boobs exploding, I was able to see HP and the HBP on opening day! I was literally vibrating with excitement. I am always a little nervous at the movies because I don’t want the idiot audience to ruin my experience (what the frig is wrong with people anyway? Won't don't they revere movie theaters? Why don't they respect the quiet? Why must they be doing twenty things while watching a movie? Why do they SUCK?), but this crowd wasn't too bad. There was a turdish kid who had to keep speaking at full volume, and a family that brought a way too young kid along who was all whiny, and one dumbass in the back who whistled at random points, but all in all, not a bad crew.

Oh I loved this movie! It was so much better than the crappy Order of the Phoenix. Whoever that random screenwriter was (because it was the only film where they didn't use Steve Kloves), he sugged ass. Left too much out. But Stevie is back and he delivered! Oh, it was so good. Beautiful and powerful and sad. Right now, my favorite part of the film is when Dumbledore saves Harry in the cave and he's all waving his wand around and making fire and he just looks TOUGH. Dang that was good. I can't wait to see it again. And again. I can't wait until it comes out on DVD so I can watch it thousands of times!

I suppose I should really go outside and enjoy this nice weather. I think we are going mini-golfing now. Let me know if you have any ALA questions or comments, or if you'd like to discuss Potter. I may have to bring back the ol' Potter Question of the Day (that no one seemed to want to answer except me). Hmmm... Yup. Gotta do it.

If you had to bring a date (from the Potter-verse, of course) to Slughorn's party, who would it be?

You all should know my answer by now. I even mention him in Into the Wild Nerd Yonder!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ALA Chi-Town Part One

Wow. What a weekend! ALA was so fun that I think I forgot about most of it. It was really stressful, though, being a librarian, a mom, and an author. I don't think I did any of the three particularly well this weekend. No, I take that back. I think I did the mom piece really well. Romy was great and so comfy and slept perfectly, so I handled that. In fact, I think I may have mommed it up a bit too much sometimes (see Andrew Smith's post on our conversation with Sarah Dessen. I think I talked about breastfeeding with every person I met). Some-- and certainly not all-- of the highlights of my trip: a great dinner with some fabulous librarians on Friday night (where I managed to steer the conversation into Top Chef territory upon the arrival of some scallops as an appetizer), watching a swarm of librarians surround my husband for his book signing on Saturday, hanging out with a very cool group of book bloggers on Saturday afternoon, meeting and greeting the sweetest group of librarians at the YA Author Coffee Klatch, having a big ol' line myself on Sunday at my own signing. Since I have to go RIGHT NOW to take Romy to her Music Masters class, I will just leave you with some pictures until I can get back to blogging more specifically about people and events and such. There will be more words and pictures to come. Click on each picture for a larger version.

Me and Romy at the Feiwel and Friends booth, signing copies of Get Well Soon.

The whole family signing!

Me, Romy, and author Andrew Smith.

Romy and Mo Willems having a staredown!

Me, Romy, and Uri Shulevitz!

Monday, July 06, 2009

ALA Coming Right Up!

Ha ha. I am laughing at myself because of this post's title. Some of you (but probably not many) may recall my hilarious Cabbage Patch Kid Phase. If not, relive it here and here (the follow-up). What I failed to mention in the blog posts (I think. How could I have forgotten this?) was that after I gave away the original Stephanie Nancy, I devised a plan to buy a new CPK and name her Stephanie Nancy II. And then I made a song that went, "Stephanie Nancy II, coming right up!" Oh man. If you only had my brain you'd think it was really funny.

Anywho, soon I shall be donning my double-identities, librarian and author, all in the span of a glorious weekend in Chicago. Matt and I will both be appearing at the American Library Association conference in various forms. Well, I guess our forms will be the same, but, whatever, here's the scoop:

Matthew Cordell (husband and illustrator/writer of awesomeness) will be signing copies of MIGHTY CASEY and handing out f+g's of TROUBLE GUM and the super-cool F+F-produced TROUBLE GUM bubble gum packages on Saturday July 11, 11:00-noon at the Feiwel and Friends booth (#1813). Here's a sampling of the gum:

I will be doing a signing, as well, also at the F+F booth on Sunday, July 12, 11:00-noon, signing copies of GET WELL SOON and signing/giving away galleys of my forthcoming YA novel, INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER. I have some new secret goodies to give away (think small, round, and sharp), so I hope to have lots of booth visitors!

We are both guests at a F+F hosted blogger bash from 4:00–6:00 on Saturday in the Macmillan Children’s Publisher suite at the Omni Hotel.

I will also be one of the many authors of greatness (um, I didn't mean I was great, I just meant there are lots of great authors to be seen) at the YALSA YA Author Coffee Klatch on Sunday from 8:30 - 10:00 at the Marriott.

I look forward to seeing my librarian and author friends, new and old, at ALA Chi-Town!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Get Well Soon Audiobook Contest Winners!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the Get Well Soon Audiobook contest. I feel bad that I didn't respond personally to many of the nice blog comments. They got ahead of me, and I didn't know how to get back and make nice. I am baby disorganized for a good, long while. However, I was organized enough to pick the three winners (actually, I let Romy pull them out of a hat. If I didn't grab them fast enough, she also would have eaten them). Congratulations to
*Jake Lsewhere

I will send emails to everyone tomorrow, or, if you read this first, you can send an email with your address to me @

And now for a truly excellent Julie's Most Awesome Book Cover.

Hee hee. This book was actually in my library. Sick.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ode to Jacko

It’s my turn to write about Michael Jackson. I’ve been thinking so much about him lately, so why not? I cried when I found out he was actually dead (after all of the TMZ and Facebook chatter, is he or isn’t he, type stuff). Just a little, but I still cried. I don’t quite know why. Loss of life is always sad, thinking of his family, his brothers and sisters, of his kids. Remembering him from my childhood, feeling old myself, thinking how sad his true fans must feel. And then I thought back to all of the times in my life that were filled with Jacko. Here’s a list of random memories:

-When the video for Thriller came out, I was so excited-- overly excited-- sick to my stomach if I couldn’t see the full, extended version excited. I watched the video every single time it came on, loved the mix of costumes, great story, fantastic dancing, the song, and Vincent Price’s laugh.

-My friend, Beth, needed a belt for a school play, and all the store had was stretchy belts with Michael Jackson’s face on the buckle. This was in ’85, past the Thriller hype, so she covered the face with a rainbow sticker.

-I ate up every one of his videos because of the dancing, even when I was in junior high and too cool to be into him (I was getting into my “alternative” era, as they called bands like U2, The Church, INXS, and REM in those days.). “Smooth Criminal” was my favorite.

-In health class my junior year of high school, we had to practice CPR on a dummy whose name happened to be Annie. Every person had to shake the doll and say, “Annie, are you OK?” Smooth Criminal! I laughed every time and couldn’t get the song out of my head for days.

-At a house party in college they played “Wanna Be Starting Something,” and I couldn’t help but dance, and seeing everyone else dance, and thought, how cool that all of the hipsters and hippies are all loving this song?

-Somewhat recently, maybe three years ago, Matt, my sister and I went to one of those instant warehouse Halloween stores that pops up for a month or so and then disappears (this one never to return, which is a bummer because it was so huge). The store was packed, the weekend before Halloween, and “Thriller” came out of the ceiling. The whole store started dancing. Little bits at first, and then you could just see it. How that song made everyone groove uncontrollably.

-Most recently I was driving to work at seven in the morning, late spring, when it started to snow. Usually snow that time of year is insanely frustrating because it’s just time for it to go away, but as I drove, “Man in the Mirror” came on my iPod (for some reason that’s the only Michael Jackson song I have on my iPod, even thought it’s not my favorite). The snowflakes were falling in slow motion, and that beautiful song played. It made me cry.

I think I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and buy a copy of Thriller on CD. My cassette disappeared a long time ago with all of my parachute pants and crispy jackets. As wacko as Michael Jackson was for a good chunk of his adult life, and who doesn’t love a good freak show, he affected me, as I know he did others, with his music, style, and dance. I can’t wait to dance around my house with Romy when Thriller arrives. R.I.P MJ.

PS The Get Well Soon Audiobook Contest ends tomorrow.