Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NCTE Roundup

I don't know if this is actually a roundup, but that's a funny word and I'm hella out of it from the trip to Philadelphia. All in all, a wonderful time in Motown Philly. Back again. Man I'm tired. Anywho, here's the recap:

Arrived in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. Flight wasn't too awful, with just tiny bouts of Romy crying until we got her to fall asleep (she fights it hard). People complimented us on our handlings of baby on flight. It's so nice that people do that. Will have to remember to do that in the future to others. Our cab driver was odd, but nice, and he originally had XM Radio's '50s channel playing, but switched it it some boring classical stuff. So I said, "Switch it back," and we had a rockin' and rollickin' ride into Philly.

Don't get me started on the hotel suite debacle (which wasn't a debacle, actually, because we did get a free suite upgrade, but were later told by some other hotel guy that you DO NOT ask for upgrades when you are being paid for in a group because that's favoritism. Um, suck it? Because why should I not ask? You have the rooms. Someone's going to get the free upgrade, so why not the people with the baby so that they can put her in a separate room and actually talk to each other and pee and walk around without fear of waking the baby??? And, what kind of manager says, "Next time, remember that we don't do that?" Next time, tell your cronies not to GIVE OUT THE FREE ROOM IN THE FIRST PLACE.). Geez. I guess I got started. We had a beautiful room, and then we walked to the Rosenbach Museum to see some Sendak stuff (they pulled out some original art from "Wild Things." Matt was freaked out. "What if someone sneezed on it?! It wasn't even covered!"). Oh yes, and we had a delicious lunch at a place with a name that I don't remember. Shocking, I know.

Then it was time for me to get ready for the ALAN Cocktail Party. I wore these shoes. They were beyond cute. So beyond cute that every person I met complimented me on them. Seriously. But I could not feel my toes by the end of the night. Seriously again. And my publisher had to call a cab for me (which I shared with two other people), just because I couldn't walk to the restaurant. I'm no diva. I'm just a tool who can't wear high heels. Is it worth it? Why do people love their high heels? I don't get it. Just some sick invention of men trying to slow us women down. I think. Moving on... The party was fun, and I mingled and smiled and said ridiculous things to many nice teachers and authors (although, Sarah Dessen must think I'm a lunatic. The last time I met her I was talking about breastfeeding. And there I was, chatting about breastfeeding again, my apparently go-to topic of conversation, with E. Lockhart, and who should come up to say hello? Sarah Dessen. I imagine the two of them sneaking off to talk about the breastfeeding-obsessed freak of an author. "What was her name? I forget, since she wasn't wearing a name tag [because they spelled my last name "Halperin," that's why. That kind of thing wouldn't happen to Sarah Dessen, no sir.]" Sigh. Then I journeyed along with my publishing peeps (thanks to Tim, Katie, Joy, Jeanne, and Lauren-- am I forgetting anyone? Am I spelling names wrong?) and some GREAT authors (Mary Pearson, David Klass, Paula Jolin, Danica Novgorodoff, and Chris Carlton Brown), and a slew of incredibly nice teachers for a fancy dinner. I sat with some super sweet and fun people and loved talking to all of them. If you're reading this: facebook me! I don't know all of your last names!

The next day was a semi waste, since the museums we wanted to visit were closed on Mondays. The weather was gross, but we ended walking mega far, and Romy slept happily in the stroller (BEST STROLLER EVER). We had quite the food adventure, though. There was a line of people waiting on a food vendor with a shiny silver cart, plumes of smoke puffing out. No signs anywhere, we asked the people what they were waiting for. Everyone in line proceeded to share their food tales, assuring us this guy was like the Soup Nazi, don't ask him any questions, and so on, but the food and the wait were worth it. We left, but decided why not, and came back to wait in line. While waiting, the guy handed out fancy bread slathered in papaya hummus. The resulting lunch was incredible, huge portions of flavory chicken breast (yeah, I'm not a food reviewer. Flavory is such a sad word choice. Yet hilarious.), salad, hummus, falafel, etc. Massive and delicious. Worth the wait and the experience. Then, with the rain and nap time approaching, we just went back to the hotel, each of us taking turns taking naps. Ruby Tuesdays for dinner.

Finally, I presented on a panel with Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones. Nobody told me that when you are on a "panel" with people at NCTE, it means you don't actually have to have anything to do with those people! I was so panicked, since our books are SO different. But I spoke, and then they spoke, and that was that. I signed some autographs, went back to the hotel and snuck around until Romy woke up from her nap, went to the airport (fourth super-nice Philly cabbie, btw), endured the stressful plane ride (I don't know how anyone travels on airplanes with babies without breastfeeding. Sorry, Sarah, had to just say that.)--with more baby-handling compliments!--, and made it back. Today and the rest of my break will be spent unpacking, doing laundry, and trying to finish typing up my new novel. End NCTE roundup.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Proust Questionnaire Thursday! Today's Special Guest: Kimberly Pauley

Kimberly Pauley is a YA author (Sucks to Be Me and the forthcoming Still Sucks to Be Me), though she is perhaps better known as the YA Books Goodess from YA Books Central. You can learn more than you ever wanted to learn about her at

The following questions are based on James Lipton's questions from Inside the Actors Studio, which, in turn, are based on the Proust Questionnaire. One of the questions is about swearing, so please excuse our French. And, once again, the spacing and stuff is all weird.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Kimberly Pauley!

1. What is your favorite word?

Epiphany (though, you know, this changes all the time.)

2. What is your least favorite word?


3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Random Connections.

4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?


5. What sound or noise do you love?

Little Max giggling.

6. What sound or noise do you hate?

That awful beep beep beep sound that construction vehicles make when they back up.

7. What is your favorite curse word?

Um, probably "Dammit!" Sometimes followed by "Janet"

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Artist. Any kind, really.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Anything corporate. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, hated it.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

You know, you were right. (Then God would poke me on the nose with his/her finger and giggle.)

Next week is Thanksgiving, so we'll skip the Proust. Until the next week!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

D&D and Me! And a contest!

The cold has hit the whole family. It's on it's way into my system, and I hope it would hurry up and get here so it can hurry up and leave before I have to fly with the family to Philadelphia for NCTE/ALAN. Sigh. Or should I say, sneeze?

There's an interview up with me on the Wizards of the Coast website. The interview was done by the awesome Shelly Mazzanoble, author of Confessions of a Part-time Sorceress: A Girl's Guide to the D&D Game. Want to win a signed copy of Shelly's book plus a nifty dice bag? Just go to the Wizard site, read my interview, then send me a message @ OR just post a comment here on my blog. It doesn't even have to be about the interview! Just say something nice. Niceness is good. I'll pick two names from the entries. You have until Thanksgiving to enter. Oh! And you can enter to win a copy of my book, INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER at the Wizards site! Us D&D folk gotta stick together.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back to School

I'm watching Back to School starring Rodney Dangerfield right now. This movie feels very different to me than it used to. I feel old. I relate more to Rodney's character than to his college aged soon (although, truth be told, I have always thought that "young" actor looked WAY OLD. I still do.). So is life.

Next weekend I'm traveling with the fam (always with the fam; never again without. That is my vow) to Philadelphia to hang and speak at the NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English) conference, specifically at the ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) Workshop. I am super nervous, but not about the conference stuff. Maybe I should be, but traveling with a baby trumps all nervousness of any other kind. What will I have to remember to bring? What will I forget? Will she fuss on the plane? Will she get Matt's cold just in time for the trip? Will I? That, on top of heaps of booktalks at work this week, is making me a loon. And to top it off, I just can't decide on which pair of shoes to buy to go with my dress that I plan to wear to the conference cocktail shindig (where all of the authors at ALAN will cocktail about). This is making me batty. Like, I can't stop buying shoes just in case they are the right pair to wear. I need the PERFECT pair of shoes. But why? Why does it matter anymore? Ever since I had Romy, I have such a guilt about spending money on shoes for myself. And now I have one week to choose the perfect pair. Or... or what? None of this addresses the fact that I have to present on a panel about writing humorous stories. But that's not until Tuesday morning, well after the cocktail party where I must wear the correct shoes to attend. Now that I think about it, what shoes will I wear to the panel? Will people be able to see my feet?

Update: Romy has a cold! Which is good because it will hopefully be gone by next weekend. But the question remains: when do I get mine?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Proust Questionnaire Thursday! Today's Special Guest: Nina Hess!

Nina Hess and I met years back when I was doing some freelance writing about reluctant readers. We hit it off famously and have been buds ever since. I wish I could see her more than less than once a year (or whenever we happen to be at a conference at the same time). Nina will be my guest of honor when Rupert Grint invites me back to his lair, I mean, to Hogwarts. Nina is the author of the most excellent A Practical Guide to Monsters, as well as an editor extraordinaire. Read all about her monsters here.

The following questions are based on James Lipton's questions from Inside the Actors Studio, which, in turn, are based on the Proust Questionnaire. One of the questions is about swearing, so please excuse our French. And, once again, the spacing and stuff is all weird.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Nina Hess!

1. What is your favorite word? I can’t pick just one so I will say: Thesaurus
2. What is your least favorite word? No
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Smart, funny open-minded people and great books
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Negativity
5. What sound or noise do you love? Silence
6. What sound or noise do you hate? Loud clangy music in public places
7. What is your favorite curse word? Poo!
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Elementary school teacher in a place that actually pays a living wage for teachers
9. What profession would you not like to do? Accountant
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Go home!

Next Thursday's author: Kimberly Pauley!

Friday, November 06, 2009

My Interview with Rupert

Well, it's not an interview with Rupert, but it is an interview with me on a Rupert Grint fansite! I am both excited and a little, what's the word? Not embarrassed, but more like, exposed, I think. As much as I have shared my obsessions with my blog and book readers, this feels so much more out there than I have been since high school as a fan of anything. Maybe not. Maybe people who know me well are like, Julie, you've always been a fangirl of some capacity. We are not the least surprised that you have a poster and Peeps of Rupert Grint in your library (the Peeps were for a contest! All the kids made dioramas of books! It wasn't just me sitting around making Weasley Peeps! I swear!). Anyway, here is the link. One of the commenters called me weird. To what story is she referring? Anyway, I am going to put a cap on the Rupert blog posts for a bit. At least, until he calls me to thank him for the plug. {Fantasy sequence begins: "Your ticket to Hogwarts awaits!" End fantasy sequence.}

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Proust Questionnaire Thursday! Today's Special Guest: Jill S. Alexander!

Jill S. Alexander is the author of the delightful THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY. I say delightful, although I have not yet read the book (I will! I swear it! I'm a school librarian and am always 2-3 season behind in my reading. But I promise I will!), because the cover is delightful and Jill herself seems delightful. Enough of that word. She has a great looking website,, and a wonky blog (her word, not mine) called "Welcome to the Wonky Tonk," where she muses often about Southern things. I look forward to reading more and hearing more from Jill. (if she ever speaks to me again. I was being sincere about wanting and planning to read the book.)

The following questions are based on James Lipton's questions from Inside the Actors Studio, which, in turn, are based on the Proust Questionnaire. One of the questions is about swearing, so please excuse our French.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Jill S. Alexander!

1. What is your favorite word?

2. What is your least favorite word?
Booyah! Time to stop with the BOOYAHS, folks.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Music inpsires me.

4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Whining. I don’t do whining.

5. What sound or noise do you love?
I absolutely love the sexy rumble of a ’69 Mustang Boss 429 engine.

6. What sound or noise do you hate?
The monotonous drone of a treadmill.

7. What is your favorite curse word?

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
In my dreams, I teach country and western dancing. Two-step, Waltz, Swing, The Slide, line-dancing – the whole HonkyTonk package.

9. What profession would you not like to do?
Chris Brown’s publicist

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
You hear that? That’s your grandfather leading the Hallelujah Gloryland Full-on Gospel Choir, and he’s been expecting you.

Next Thursday's author: Nina Hess!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

My Mind is a Blur of Rupe

Love this review from the Grintastic webzine:

As ICM announced back in August, the main character in Julie Halpern’s new book “Into the wild nerd yonder” would be a huge Rupert Grint fan.
Julie Halpern herself had left a message in our comments: “Thanks so much for mentioning my book, INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER, on your page! I’m a big Rupert fan, and the main character of the book has pictures of him hanging around her bedroom”.
So, of course we made sure to check out the book, which has only been released on 29th September 2009.
I tried to keep the spoilers out so you can all enjoy the book yourselves, and therefore this review turned out to be pretty short. ;)
The plot itself is simple:
Jessie Sloan has just started her sophomore year. Her two best friends, Bizza and Char, decide to become punks, and one of them goes after Jessie’s long-term crush Van. Jessie’s brother Barrett, in his final High School year, gives up his life as punk because of his budding romance with the homecoming queen. Which leaves Jessie to figure out who she is, who her friends are, and: What makes someone a nerd?ITWNY (2)
With Jessie as the narrator, the story is told in a funny, witty and somewhat sarcastic tone and describes typical teenage situations everyone can relate to: your best friends seem to be way cooler than yourself, the girl sitting next to you in class is just weird, and unlike you, even the nerds manage to find a boyfriend.
Instead of the “typical” teenage books, Jessie is not the school’s beauty queen, nor is she the outsider who will turn into the beautiful swan who gets the most handsome bloke ever. She’s a normal girl with normal problems. And with a crush on Rupert Grint.

So, what about Rupert? First off, Rupert Grint only gets mentioned four times. Beware, though, as these are moments where most of us will almost cringe because the situations are very well-known to every proper “Roupie Groupie”. ;)
website16However, the entire book is peppered with little descriptions that will make you think of our gorgeous red-head or his film characters : A bloke called “Van” (we all know Rupert’s most famous vehicle), another guy with too-short jeans and far-to-white sneakers. The main character sharing the names with a co-star from HP and the stills photographer from Cherrybomb. The cool big brother (coincidence that his punk hair is orange?), funky t-shirts and a guy whose fringe keeps covering his eyes; and jealousy over a BJ…

So, yay or nay?
Definitely a big YAY! :) The book is easy to read, and I needed only one day to finish it. It is very funny and witty, and it is easy to feel with Jessie, who is a normal teen instead of the classical “teen-novel character”. Not to mention that Rupert (or what might be interpreted as hints to Rupert) keeps popping up in the most unexpected moments.
How much Rupert is there really? The more you know about Rupert and his films, the more you can pick up, laugh about, cringe at and agree to. If you only know his name and link him to Harry Potter, it’s not that much. If you know characteristics of the characters he has played, his co-stars, Rupert’s behaviour and interests, it’s quite a lot.
But maybe I only found that much Rupert because I’m a nerd.
And nerds can be pretty cool, too…

I wonder how much I actually subliminally did write about good ol' Rupe. I love how there is a photograph of his name on the page of the book. I had no idea when I wrote the book that I would reach Rupert fans. It's such a cool, unique fanbase. Thanks to The Ice Cream Man site for spreading the word about NERD!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Radical, Dude!

For some reason, this post has all sorts of weird fontness going on.

The title of this blog is because I have some radical items to discuss, and because some of my students dressed like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Halloween. Still? The cool-as-pizza news is that I have a few excellent interviews coming up. I don't know exactly when, but just know that one is associated with Dungeons and Dragons and the other is associated with Rupert Grint. Just those enticing details should have you all panting for more. I know I would be, if I weren't already.

Other grand news is that INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER will appear in Indiebound's Winter 2009-2010 Kid's Indie Next List --- "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers." It's not out yet, but it's quite a good thing, fer sure. I'm bringing that back, by the way. Fer sure. Fer sure, radical, dude, and maybe even a little gag me with a spoon. I'm bringing 'em all back.

And now for another great NERD review! This time it comes from Booklist. There may be a few spoilers, so don't read it if you want to be REALLY surprised. I kid. Or do I?

Jess loves audiobooks, sewing skirts, and the first day of school. She even gets along with her family,
including Barrett, her rock-god older brother. She is, in short, a nerd, and feels immediate dread when she
starts to grow apart from her two best friends, Bizza and Char, who underwent a punk makeover to fit in
with Barrett’s band. After Bizza goes after Jess’ longtime crush and winds up with an STD, Jess ends the
friendship. Karma, like Bizza, can be a bitch. With no clique to hang out with Jess is lulled into the
clutches of the Dungeons & Dragons crowd—and finds herself falling for one of them! Halpern (Get
Well Soon, 2007) realistically writes about teens coming to terms with their coming-of-age. Jess waffles
anxiously about embracing her inner nerdlinger, but emerges from the transformation secure in her self
worth and seeking out the people that will support her. Reinvention is rarely so delightfully nerdy.

That's five great reviews out of five! Outta sight! On second thought, I'm not bringing that one back. Fer sure.