Friday, July 30, 2010

The Skinny

Because life is just a little too complicated for my brain right now, today's blog will be a quickie with just a few updates.
  • I had an AMAZING time speaking at a school yesterday where the students actually read GET WELL SOON for their English classes.  I will blog about that this weekend.
  • I am now one of the authors of the fabulous Teen Book Festival on May 14 in Rochester, NY.  So cool!
  • Check out this picture of me, Matt, James Kennedy, Stephanie Kuehnert, and our moderator, Kate Hannigan on from the panel we did last Friday at 57th Street Books.
Happy Friday! 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Book Scares Me

I'm sure every parent has to deal with the fact that their kid is going to like books that they don't like.  Romy has recently become very opinionated about which books she wants to hear.  We have her standards: King Bidgood's in the Bathtub,
Little Beauty,

and, of course (and thankfully), Madeline.

We go to the library once a week, and I pick books and she picks books that she hopefully will like.  This week, one of us, in some crazy, jacked-up bad decision making moment picked this:

There is nothing really wrong with this book.  It's an author-devised elongation (that sounded fancy.  Or pretentious.  Or grammatically incorrect.) of the song "Rock-a-bye Baby," which is messed up in itself.  And while the rhymes in this book are a bit clunky to sing, they're not horrible.  But the pictures...

...are terrifying.  Click on this link to visit the author and illustrator's page (they are a husband and wife team).  There, you will find such pictures as this:
and this:
Scary, right?  I'm not knocking this book.  Romy really likes it.  Over and over again.  But there is something about the pictures that really scares me.  The realism, mixed with the way they sort of jump off the page.  Romy woke up this morning at 5:30 with a nightmare.  I'm not saying it's this book's fault.  But maybe that's why I didn't sleep very well last night.

[Funny aside: Romy did definitely have a nightmare over this book,
{look inside on Amazon here}
which I know because she was pointing at it in horror on her bedroom floor when I went in to see what was wrong.  I don't blame her at all.]

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Have you seen SLC Punk?  I love this movie.  I saw it in the theaters when it was out, with a friend and her date and his friend.  I don't think it was supposed to be a date for me.  Geez-- maybe it was.  I didn't sit by the guy or anything.  Or talk to him.  But the movie-- I was so pumped when I left the theater.  Matthew Lillard, probably best-known as Shaggy from Scoobie Doo (anyone remember him from SkateTV?), was brilliant.  The role was perfect for him.  Just like he was perfect as the reader of the audiobook for KL Going's FAT KID RULES THE WORLD (one of my all time favorite audios).  I have heard he bought the rights to make FAT KID into a movie.  That was a long time ago, though.  Anyway, I have a Roku player in my basement, which is a little machine that streams the Netflix movies straight to my TV.  It's cool because we don't have cable in the basement, but we can watch all of this great stuff when we're on the treadmill because of the Roku.  Actually, Matt doesn't do the treadmill because it's boring.  He makes up some workout using the stairs.  I haven't watched him.  Yet.  During my last three treadmill workouts, I watched SLC Punk.  And it's still amazing.  If you haven't seen it, you should.  It's a little juvenile and stylized, but the characters are well-defined and the acting is excellent.  Plus the music?  Soooo inspirational during a workout.  Or an ass-kicking. 

The GET WELL SOON sequel is chugging along.  Over 100 pages now.  I realized this morning that I may have an issue.  That is, I started writing the book (the first 100 pages, actually) in a similar format to GWS, in that it's first person and written in chunks of Anna's days.  But I don't think, coming up, that I want to include every single day of her life.  I want to skip some, to get to the more dramatic bits.  So can I change it up?  Is that awkward?  I am not even technically writing it as a letter or diary this time, so I'm not exactly sure how to acknowledge that it's a different day.  Or do I just say a few days later?  It will all work out, as it does, but it will be interesting to see how.  It may take me forever to get there.  This morning I spent an hour writing five pages about the outfit Anna was choosing to wear for the day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The TV Show Post

I am trying (not very hard) to get my schedule together.  But so far, no schedule.  Which is one of the reasons I am feeling a little off.  Another may be this insurance debacle, but I'm not going to go on about that again (at least not today).  So instead, here's what I'm watching on the tube these days.  As you may recall, I finally ponied up for the good cable and a DVR so that Matt and I can watch what we want when we want it and not have to have those pesky commercial interruptions.  The DVR truly is a brilliant invention.  Too had we use it for these not-always-impressive shows:

True Blood - Last night, Matt said True Blood made him feel unsettled sometimes.  I can understand that in terms of a TV show; when we would watch Deadwood (RIP), I almost always felt nauseated.  But I like the silliness in True Blood.  Last night was super gross (someone had their head bashed in!), but it didn't bother me.  Maybe that makes me unsettling.

iCarly - Matt and I watch the crap out of iCarly.  It's funny.  And light.  And I love that Sam, a GIRL, eats a ton of food and kicks ass. 

JONAS LA - I would not recognize a single JoBros song, but dang if I don't think their TV show is adorable.  The new LA version isn't nearly as Monkees-like as the original, which I am not digging.  And the DZ annoying surfer neighbor is awful.  But I'll still watch.

Cake Boss - Matt and I are going to see Buddy, the Cake Boss, live in the fall.  I'm not sure what he will be doing on a stage, but we are suckers for his Jersey-ness.

Bethenny Getting Married - I do not like Bethenny very much at this point.  She cracks mean jokes about everything.  And she keeps pretending that she didn't want to be pregnant- it just happened.  Lady, you are over forty, and as I recall were all blubbery when it came to the fact that you weren't married with children back in the ol' Housewives of New York days.  I think she takes a lot for granted.  Yeah, I watch the show.  Although On Demand, not on the DVR.  That's a statement of some sort, right?

Work of Art - I hated this Bravo reality show about finding an artist when we first started watching; Matt liked it.  Now it's the other way around.  Matt has a completely different perspective, being an artist and going to art school and stuff.  I can't stand the cast of characters in the same way I am so over arrogant, pretentious hipsters.  Matt keeps getting frustrated by the challenges because we're not actually seeing the artists represent their own style.  Whatever way you look at it, this show is very entertaining.

Top Chef - This season is insanely boring.  I don't know names, and I don't care who wins.  I still watch.  But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I think that's it.  Not a very exciting line-up.  Add to that Season 9 of 90210, with the ridiculous return of Dylan plotline (and the plotline that should happen but never will: the romance between Dylan and David Silver).  Perhaps the fall will bring more television excitement.  The biggest fall television news would be that they are filming a pilot for INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER.  No news on that yet.  All I can do is wait.  And decide when it is time for me to harass the TV people again about where we are in the process.  If anywhere at all.

Time to turn the TV off and start my day!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Robert Redux

I am still reeling from the total bag of ass that is our country's insurance situation (that is now affecting me veeeeery directly.   Although, really, it always has been affecting me, even when I had insurance through work because they were still picking and choosing what they would and would not cover, and were charging out the ass for it while doing so).  So, to lighten up this party, here is something I had been wanting to post but forgot about.  It is connected to my series of hilarious book cover posts, called "Julie's Most Awesome Book Covers" (see label category on the right side of my blog).  The book?  That Quail, Robert. 
See my original write-up of the cover here.  But what I really wanted to share was this brilliant review of Robert from Amazon:
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Quails are smart and lovable, March 24, 2002
This review is from: That Quail, Robert (Paperback)
That's what "That Quail, Robert" amply demonstrates. Although ornithologists apparently eschew the assignment of human thought and emotion to animals and birds, this book convincingly shows that quails are capable of love and having hurt feelings, and are in need of companionship, just like humans. Quails are also intelligent enough to play games and critique the slightest change in home decor! Of course Robert the Quail was very lucky to have "parents" as loving and doting as the Kienzles and benefited from the fact that they were a retired couple who enjoyed rearing a new "child" after their other children had long since...flown the coop. 

You can't make stuff like this up.  Eschew.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Casting Call

I feel like some of my blog posts about writing of late have made me sound like the Richard Lewis of YA Lit, so I am going to move on to some lighter fare.  Behold: 

Head Over Heels: Literal Video Version - watch more funny videos

This is from Funny or Die.  The crazy part of it is that I was IN LOVE with Roland Orzabal (the dude carrying the books) when I was a kid.  What kind of kid is in love with that guy?  We're talking when I was like 9 years-old.  And here he is, in my all time favorite Tears for Fears video, professing his love to a librarian.  I'm a librarian.  Do you think subconsciously I became a librarian because someday I hoped Roland Orzabal would come in to my library?  The mind boggles.

This blog was originally going to be me trying to cast the potential INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER TV show, but I realized I don't have the first clue where to find a bunch of photos of young actors in order to cast them.  IMDB is just a bit random for this assignment.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  For cast members or where I can select my own?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Guilt of Writing

As I write this, my insane fourteen year-old cat is screeching his way upstairs.  My daughter is talking to herself over the baby monitor.  And my husband is, well, sleeping until I wake him up (a serious example of NOT a morning person).  My mornings are when I am supposed to be writing my book.  Technically, I could be writing while Romy takes her afternoon nap.  But by then I have been awake so long, I can't think enough most days to write coherently.  Plus, I love having maybe an hour to relax.  Or blog.  Or read.  Or watch TV.  But instead, I usually have the pangs of guilt because I didn't write enough before everyone in the house started to wake up (except my husband), and I should, therefore, also be writing in the afternoon.  That, on top of the guilt of not exercising in the morning, or at least, not exercising as much as I should or could, makes me a constant mass of guilt.  It's useless.  What does it matter if I complete everything I'm supposed to every single day?  And yet, I hate myself when I don't.  Yesterday Romy napped for over two hours.  I could have used the time to writewritewrite my novel, but instead I tweaked all of these little things on my webpage that have needed tweaking for a long time.  I sort of didn't feel guilty about it, but looking back, now I do.  My goal was to write ten pages a day on my novel, which I can do if I write for a little under two hours.  But I seem to be writing only one hour a day, which equals five to six pages.  Which means I won't be finished with the novel in six weeks, as thought.  Which doesn't even matter because no one is even expecting this novel in six weeks.  I don't even have the contract yet, and I am feeling guilty about not finishing in this non-existent amount of time.  What is wrong with me?  How do I exorcise this guilt from my body?

There is some sort of animal scratching its claws against my patio door.  I wish that were as freaky as it sounded.  Or maybe it's a zombie!  Now that would be scary.  Did I ever mention that I save clothes and other various things just in case there's a zombie attack?  Now that I do NOT feel guilty about.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm a Bargain

Instead of writing this morning (I know, I know, is all I do avoid writing?  And the answer is no, since I did end up writing that super hard chapter I was having a freak about yesterday), I bought a bunch of Bargain Books on Amazon for Romy.  I was all up in the Bargain Books' grill because, sniff sniff, INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER is in the Bargain Book sector!  I asked my editor why this is, and she said, I quote, "Amazon is a non-returnable account, which means they can’t return overstock. So, what they do when they find themselves with some, is they sell the excess copies to their bargain department who then sell it at a discount. As soon as the overstock has been sold down, the page will disappear (until/unless they have more overstock on this title in the future)."
Not quite sure what that means, but since so many good books seem to be in the Bargain sector, and then promptly get out once the Bargain editions are sold, I don't feel so bad.  I mean, Jay Asher's brilliant 13 Reasons Why is in the Bargain Bin, too.  After I saw that, I was like, I might as well do some shopping.  So I bought seven books for Romy.  If you are looking for any Hanukkah or Christmas books or books about God in general for kids, check out the Bargain Books.  I also scored a book that we have out from the library right now that Romy loves, Bunny Days, the follow up to another Romy favorite by the same author, Wonder Bear.  Buy 'em while they're cheap!  Or, you can still buy any of these books for the full price.  Is there something wrong with the Bargain Books?  I guess I'll see when my seven arrive.

I could dwell on the sad nature of the Bargain Book, but instead I will pretend that they are just making [virtual] shelf space for the paperback of INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER, which will arrive sometime in winter.  In the meantime, buy one!  Or two!  Give them as gifts!  Paper your walls with them!  They won't last at this price for long.  I hope. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Who are These People?

Monday morning.  Up early.  Trying to be a good girl and write the scene I am totally avoiding in GWS II (still not the real title).  It's the scene where Anna enters her new group therapy for the first time.  I don't know why it's so hard to write.  I think it may be because I have absolutely no idea where I am going with it.  Which wouldn't be unusual in itself with the way I write, but it feels unusual.  Why?  Is it because it's bringing back memories of my own post-mental hospital group therapy (which, truthfully, I barely remember)?  Is it because I have to think of a group of completely new people to write about, and I haven't a clue who they are?  What is it about this particular part of the book that's freezing me?  And now I hear Romy in the other room, awake, which means no more meaningful writing for me this morning (um, I'm not saying that I think my writing is super meaningful or anything, just, you know, it's hard to write when I hear Romy talking to her teddy bear, Gordy, over the baby monitor).  Matt thinks I will feel better if I write an outline, but that's just another form of writing, which will then be another form of anxiety.  No.  I would rather brave through these difficult times to eventually arrive on the other side with several new chapters in my hand.  Didn't I sound a little British just then?

Totally unrelated: Matt, Romy and I saw this guy:

Chef Rick Tramonto, at a suburban Corner Bakery yesterday.  This is funny because a) This guy was on Top Chef Masters (a show that I loooooove), b) He is a super famous chef who looks like a normal guy who decided he'd look really cool if he got mega tattoos on his arms announcing to the world that he is, indeed, a chef, and c) he was eating at a Corner Bakery.  It made my meal feel just a wee bit fancier.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Talk and a Death

Some of you may know that comics genius, Harvey Pekar, died earlier this week.  I haven't thought too much on it until reading my husband's blog (is it totally weird that Matt and I are communicating through blogs?) and seeing, then reading, the links to other comic artists' thoughts on his passing.  I am, and have been for much of my life, a comics lover [Um, did I mention I have been to the San Diego Comic-Con three times, the first time on my honeymoon?].  When I was a kid, and even now, I religiously read the Sunday funnies.  As a teen, I was heavily into horror comics, such as Tales from the Crypt.  Once in college, I branched out into all sorts of indie titles, such as Roberta Gregory's Naughty Bits, Jeff Smith's Bone, and anything by Lynda Barry.  Towards the end of college, I started working in a public library in Madison.  It was a delightful strip mall branch library with a devoted patronage.  It also had a hip librarian who kept the branch well-stocked in comics.  That is where I discovered Harvey Pekar.  I read all of his collected works, even though I couldn't quite tell if I liked the guy.  I even still have a grumbly voice for him in my head (which may or may not be anything like his real voice).  It's always weird that a death causes so many memories (as I write this, I'm watching a "Golden Girls" episode where they think Sofia is dying, so she tells them all sorts of things, and they tell her all sorts of things, and then it turns out she just ate something crappy.  That kind of relates to what I just wrote.  Yeah?).  Anyway, if you haven't read any of his autobiographical brilliance, I highly recommend heading over to your local library and looking him up.  And then making them buy some of his books if they don't have them already.

I also wanted to mention I will be on a panel with my husband, Matthew Cordell, and two other authors, James Kennedy and Stephanie Kuehnert, on July 23 at 57th Street Books in Chicago's gorgeous Hyde Park (Obama's Chi-Town digs!).  I don't know if the event is open to everyone or just members of SCBWI, but you can email the contact below for more information.  Here's the skinny, if anyone would like to attend: 

What if you're hosting a book event and nobody shows?

What if you've finally landed an editor, but she's moving houses?

Come one, come all to the next Hyde Park/South Side SCBWI event we're calling, "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" We're planning a lively panel discussion of worst-case scenarios and how to make the best of them!

Our panel of children's authors and illustrators will share their worst-case scenarios and pass along what they did to get themselves through it all. We'll feature James Kennedy, Stephanie Kuehnert, Matthew Cordell, and Julie Halpern, who together have piles of books and buckets of experience.

6 p.m. July 23rd (Friday)
57th Street Books
1301 East 57th Street in Hyde Park
"What's the Worst That Could Happen?"

Don't think this is a night devoted to commiseration in this time of industry upheaval. No, no, no. It is more like strategy building from a team of experts. Survival tips from folks who know!

We'd also like this to be a bit of a summer mixer as well. We'll be serving light fare like our world famous brownies, sandwiches, wine, and beer.

Please RSVP to so we can get a headcount. 

 Hope to see some of you there! 

Was this a somber blog post?  It's gray outside.  Not my fault.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Do Not Feel Insured

Two stories that give me stomachaches:
The battle for GET WELL SOON to be retained in Theisen Middle School has finally come to a close (although I have said that before).  The school board finally stepped up to bully Ann Wentworth and told her enough was enough.  The article (which actually quoted my blog!)  "Some of the requests being asked for are for an unattainable solution to problems that you perceive," said school board president, Eric Everson.  I love that he said they were problems she perceived.  The sad thing is that it sounds like the school district may still be considering some sort of selection policy shift, or at least a way parents can use the library's automated system to keep tabs on what their children are reading.  Instead of, you know, talking to them.  I would love to speak at the school this coming year (the librarian asked me, and I hope the offer still stands!).  What a unique learning opportunity for the students.

The next story if one of woe and insurance.  To all of the people out there who do not believe we need some sort of insurance reform: you are out of your bleedin' minds.  Right now, my family is trying to get private insurance for the year I am taking off of work to be home with my daughter and write.  Noble reasons, both. And even if they aren't noble, so what?  I deserve health care for my family without stress of the worry of being gouged.  I am afraid neither option is possible.  If I wanted to keep my family on my work's insurance, Cobra, for a year, I would pay over $23,000.  A reminder that my husband is a children's book author and illustrator, a freelance job, so my school job is where we normally get insurance.  To start an individual family policy, we had to fill out a mile-long application.  Fair enough.  But the phone rang yesterday with a "nurse" on the other end, and after over AN HOUR later, both Matt and I had to speak to this woman and tell her our entire sordid medical history.  Even though we filled out an application.  Even though we are just trying to get our insurance from the same company, who should already know everything about us already.  Even though the woman had all of the information right in front of her but lied to us and said all she had access to was our application.  Let me explain.  She asked if I would disclose information about a recent appointment I had for my shoulder.  I forgot to even put anything on the insurance application because it was no big deal, and all I have to do now is exercise my shoulder at home.  No follow-up.  But the phone nurse asked me if there was anything that happened recently.  Which meant she had the records in front of her.  So why the hell ask?  Because if I didn't tell her, I was lying?  The audacity of these questions, about my mental health and fertility history, was degrading and infuriating.  I felt completely used and abused and ashamed and dirty after I got off the phone with her.  I wish she knew that.  How does one sleep at night knowing that they are a part of this restrictive, discriminatory, and completely unhelpful system?  Oh, the irony of insurance.  I'll let you know in 7-10 days if we're approved.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chat Me Up

As of yesterday, I am on a new writing schedule, which is actually my old writing schedule: Go to sleep by 10:30, wake up by 7, putz around for a bit, eat some breakfast, and write until about 9:30 when Romy wakes up.  That way, I don't have any guilt about not writing for the rest of the day, plus, well, there's the whole I'm actually writing my book and I like it thing.  I hope I can keep it up!

If you are interesting in reading more about my writing process, join me starting today for a week of author chat on the Barnes and Noble Community Board. Click HERE for the direct link to my thread.  I'm not quite sure what it will be like, but I know you can ask me questions about writing and I will do my darnedest to answer.  I hope to see lots of you there!  Virtually, of course.  Let me know if you stop by.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Give it up, Wentworth

I have been a bad sleeper for years, and lately have acquired a completely new, horrid sleep pattern.  Someone suggested to me that maybe it's because I am going to bed significantly later than I did during the school year, and my body has a window where it needs to fall asleep.  If it doesn't fall asleep during that window, then I don't sleep well, period.  So last night my body said I needed to sleep around 10:07, even though I was in the middle of a perfectly mediocre Season 9 episode of 90210.  It may have worked.  But now here I am, up before 7 on a Sunday morning.  I promise myself that after I blog (and check all my emails just one more time) I am going to work on The Sequel.  That will perhaps contribute to a better night's sleep, as well.

Since I am most certainly the terror of the breakfast table, I'm also going to tell you about a dream I had.  John Green and I were at a party.  I was starting college that day, and I was trying to be on top of what classes I was taking, but also part of me in the dream knew I was 35 and not needing any more college than I already have.  I also needed to look for a new apartment, which was stressing me.  John Green was being really aloof and mean to me at this party, and it sucked.  Plus, I had to pick up all of my twenty-sided dice that fell on the ground.  Wha?  This is the second John Green dream I have had in my life.  I don't even know the guy, and I can't imagine what he represents in my dreams. 

That was not very interesting.

And now to the title of my post, which is thoroughly interesting:
You may all recall that GET WELL SOON was challenged in a middle school in Fond du Lac, along with three other books, by a very serious parent who thinks she is doing GOOD for her (probably mortified) daughter and the rest of the children at Theisen Middle School (can I just tell you that I love that the middle school's name is a 90210 cast member's last name?).  GET WELL SOON and the other books (being Sonya Sones' WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN'T KNOW and Ann Brashares' THE FOURTH SUMMER OF THE SISTERHOOD) made it through with flying colors.  But now this person, Ann Wentworth, is wasting the town of Fond du Lac's time and money to appeal their decision for my book and the SISTERHOOD book.  What gives?  The librarian and superintendent went to bat for my book, and I thought my points (in the letter I sent to be read aloud) were incredibly valid and made the book worthy of staying in their school, not to mention that these students should have the right to read what they wish.  This parent represents so much that is upsetting to me about certain types of people in this country, full of hate and a warped sense of purpose, who believe their way is the ONLY way.  She needs to go have her effin' tea party by her lonesome because her voice no longer deserves to be heard.

Friday, July 09, 2010

We're in the Basement Part VII: The Final Chapter

Here we are-- the last post about my basement.  Just some odds and ends and more odds from the stinkiest room in my house (except right after a poopy diaper in Romy's room).

You know what these are?  Just some of the 100 copies of my picture book, TOBY AND THE SNOWFLAKES, since the book went out of print.  I bought 100 of them, dirt cheap, so that I will have them to give as gifts until I turn 100 myself.  So sad when good books go out of print.  If I do say so myself.

I told you about my Grandma Sylvia's clown pictures yesterday.  They are hidden away (clowns are scary, you know) in my crawl space, so this is the only picture I could take without actually touching the things:
Um, and it is sideways.  But I think it says a lot.

The final piece is something that needs to be opened to truly appreciate.  So I will do that another day as to get this blog finished before Romy wakes up.  But here it is in a box:
I do love me some 90210.  In fact, I am absolutely giddy at the fact that Ian Ziering is going to be at the Chicago Comic-Con this summer (next month!!!).  So are James Marsters and Nicolas Brendan.  Will they actually show?  People always seem to cancel at the Chi-town Con.  I'll have more on that as the event gets closer.  Anyway, this box is for a Twister-like game, where instead of stepping on colored circles you get to step on Brenda's face!

In NON-BASEMENT NEWS, during one of my many searches for my name or book titles, I found THIS.  It's a MySpace music page for a rapper called Lil Walt.  If you scroll down (or do a page search) you will see GET WELL SOON by Julie Halpern listed under this guy's "influences".  Really?  If so, how cool is that?  I wonder in what way it influenced him.  Random.

Starting next Tuesday, I will be featured on a Barnes and Noble discussion board for aspiring writers.  If you create a login, you can join in the week-long thread and ask me questions about writing.  Here is the link to get to the board.  I hope I don't look like an idiot.  At least Lil Walt has my back.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

We're in the Basement Part VI

I'm not sure the first vlog was a success.  I realize it was shaky, so I won't hold the laptop on my lap next time.  And it was really quiet because I was trying to be quiet during Romy's nap.  I'll do it again sometime, but I'm going to try and finish this basement series.  For those of you who couldn't watch the video (like my mom who still can't get sound on her computer), the nub and gist of it (as Georgia Nicolsen would say) was that I am not sleeping well, partially due to mosquito bites, and INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER now has a TV option, which I guess doesn't mean too much at this point, except that not here is a tiny grain of possibility that it may become a TV show.  Since so many books are optioned, it has a very slim chance of getting written, turned into a pilot, picked up by a network, and then aired.  But everything sounds really good, and I think it has been taken on by the right people who know what they are doing.  I may go insane with the waiting, though.

And now to the basement!
This funky lamp belonged to my Grandma Sylvia.  It works, although there is burnt paper around the bulb hole (technical term, of course), so I am afraid to use it.  To carry him, because he is so heavy, you have to lift him by his crotch.  I also was the lucky(?) heir(??) to take my Grandma's handmade clown pictures, each about four feet tall and made entirely out of colored stones.  I have not taken pictures of those.  Let me know if I should.  My grandma also sold wigs for a living and worked as a carny in her youth.  She certainly was a character, and now my basement houses some of that legacy.

Speaking of carnies:
Yeah, I kind of had a mad fascination with the ol' circus sideshow, particularly during college.  I even made an (Award-winning!) movie called "I Want to Be a Freak" about a girl who becomes obsessed with a guy with no arms.  Oy.  Anyway, this masterpiece is a result of my obsession.  In case you can't tell (although you can always click on the images to enlarge them), it's a lamp shade decoupaged with sideshow folk that I made all by myself!.  That was side a.  Here's side b:
Note that it is sitting on a box of audiobooks.  This is just a meager portion of the audiobook bounty I received when I was on the YALSA Selected Audiobooks Committee.  Here are the rest (of ones I still have.  Hundreds have already been donated to libraries):

But back to the lamp shades.  There is a partner shade. I failed to take a picture of it, but you get the nub and gist.  I was considering holding a contest so that people could win one of them, but that seems like a pain.  Actually, I just got rid of a bunch of freak memorabilia, which probably would have also made a good contest.  Maybe I should try to get those back.  If people are truly interested in the shades (like, a lot of people), then I will set up a contest.

I have just a few more morsels to share before we complete the amazing journey that has been my basement blogs.  Check back tomorrow.  And stop weeping, please that it is almost over.  You can always reread the previous posts.  Calm down, everyone.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Vlog of Wonder!

Here's my new YouTube Channel:
You can subscribe and everything!

And here's my first vlog:

We're in the Basement Part V

This is the last of the decorative shelves around my basement.  I do have other wacky items to share, so don't get all sad or anything about the loss of such a fabulous (and loooooong) blog series.

Behold the glorious Bone (by Jeff Smith) shelf.  On it is a smattering of the Bone toys Matt and I own.  Upstairs in Matt's office, we have a giant Kingdok.  We do not own a Thorn, however.  Just never got around to buying her.

Here is the left side:

Here is the right side:

The coolest thing on this shelf is a hand-drawn note from Jeff Smith to a comic book club I ran when I worked at Francis Parker School in Chicago.  The kids each wrote Jeff a note, and he sent us this picture!  Yes, I took it home.  Because I don't work at that school anymore, the kids are now in college, and there was no comic book club without me. Does that sound egotysitcal?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog, where you can see all of the creepy, strange, and random things I have in the basement.  I will leave you with this taste:

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

We're in the Basement Part IV

Back to the basement!  This shelf is the sort of random travel shelf.  Behind the shelf is a glorious welcome mat, purchased at the (duh) International UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico.  I am surprised that I had the forethought to buy such a magnificent item.  I can see myself hemming and hawing at the museum shop, and ultimately not buying somthing like this.  But here it is!  I must have been moved by the full-on alienness of Roswell.  Here's a closer look:

On the left side of the shelf, we have one of my two figurines from the Alex Winter movie, Freaked. In front of them are just a small part of my Mold-A-Rama collection.  For those of you who don't know what Mold-A-Ramas are, I feel sad for you.  They are these crazy, LOUD machines at zoos and museums where you stick in some money, watch hot wax pour into a mold, and out pops your animal or dinosaur or Lincoln head a few moments later.  Hot.  You have to hold them upside-down until the wax dries.  Pure genius.  To learn more, click here.  I am sooooo jealous of that guy's collection.
In the front right is a tiny piece of Acoma pottery, a sleeping cat, that we purchased from someone at the Acoma Sky City.  Behind the blue triceratops is an empty bottle of Sioux City Sarsaparilla, purchased and drunk at South Dakota's Original 1880's Town (can you tell I plan awesome road trips?).  So chosen because it was mentioned in "The Big Lebowski."

This side has more Mold-A-Ramas [note Lincoln head number two], plus a silly little Ben Franklin toy to the right (why I bought that, I'll never know), and my autographed figurine of Alex Winter's character from "Freaked."  You may recall my story of how I waited for him at last summer's Comic-Con just to get an autograph, and then we only took one blurry picture.  Sigh.

So that's the basement roundup for today.  I also have some super exciting book news, but I don't know if I'm allowed to share it.  And I don't know if it really means anything anyway, but I'm still jazzed and completely too unfocused to possibly work on my next novel because of it.  Hmmmm....

Monday, July 05, 2010

Clean as a Whistle

For some reason, Romy thinks it's hilarious when I make her teddy bear, Gordy, say, "Clean as a whistle!" after she takes a bath.  I guess that is pretty funny.

Since most of you probably have the day off today, I will continue with my basement blogs tomorrow.  For today, I thought I'd talk about why I don't really talk about other people's books in my blog.  Or maybe I do, but why I don't talk about books I don't like.  See, I am both a librarian and an author.  I want people to read books.  As a librarian, one of the primary pieces of my job is finding books that match my students' preferences.  That means giving them books I didn't personally like, but I think that they might.  That's what makes a good librarian.  I'll own up to kids if I haven't read a book, but it is the rare instance when I will actually tell them I didn't like a book.  Because then they won't pick it up.  And maybe that's one less book they will read in their lives.

My authorly reason for not talking smack about books on my blog is twofold.  Number one: I don't like when people say poopy things about my books, so it would  be hypocritical for me to say turdly things about theirs.  And number two: I may someday have to see some of these people at a conference or wherever, and what if word got around that I talked snot about them?  I should probably, technically, go back through my blog and see if I ever did say nasty things about books.  I have been doing this for four years, after all.  Please don't go back and do it for me.

Why am I even blogging about this?  Because since my summer began, I have started reading at least four books and didn't like a single one of them enough to finish.  They weren't awful, but they weren't giving me anything that compelled me to finish.  I'm talking one hundred pages in, at least.  Do I waste my time and finish them?  I feel like I should.  But I also feel like there are so many other books out there I want to read that will command me to finish them.

Do you always finish books?
Oh, and my new author picture:

Friday, July 02, 2010

We're in the Basement Part III

[Published one day late because my internet was down.]
Before I step back into the basement, I wanted to let you know that due to my blog readers' encouragement, I called the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom today.  I talked to the assistant director, Angela Maycock, who was incredibly nice.  She is going to get back to me next week after she does a little recon (not her words).

Today we have two shelves, both featuring lovable characters from films and TV shows.  Once again, behold:
The complete Aardman Shelf!  You know what's sad?  I actually had to look up the name of the movie of the characters on the left.  As much as I love these guys, I guess my brain has not retained their identities.  The toys sure are cute, though!

These Wallace and Gromit--The Curse of the Were-Rabbit toys are full-on(that's what my neighbor used to say about everything when I lived in Australia)!  Romy always wants to hold the giant bunny.  But we've all seen what she did to Hank Hill.

If you click on the above image to enlarge, it will be blurry.  But it's either that, or I have to go back to the basement to re-shoot.  And I'm not getting off the couch.  These are the "free" Happy Meal toys from "Flushed Away."  I say free because Matt and I don't eat McDonald's, so we had to pay for them.  Actually, we spent a great deal of time going from McDonald's to McDonald's to gather our collection.  Well worth it, obviously.  That's a movie I can't wait to show Romy.  When we allow her to watch movies.

This next shelf is the glorious Futurama shelf.  I wish we had more of these.

To the left, some nice figurines.  To the right, a wind up Nibbler and a Gender Bender!

Blurry, I know.  In front, little metal figurines!  And behind, a special Comic-Con 2007 Mating Season Zoidberg!  Wow I sound like a dork!

There's more basement to come.  Have a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone!