Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quick Time

I am on the third phase of writing The Sequel, where I print up my FINALLY typed manuscript and read it through for millions of tweaks.  After this, I just have to type in the changes and it's on to my editor!  Because of this, I don't have as much time in the mornings to blog.  It seems to me that people catch my blog in the morning, though, and when I blog anytime later in the day, not as many people read it.  Yesterday's post had a cool video, as well as an interesting question about quotes at the beginning of books.  I'd love to hear from more of you about that.  In the meantime, here is a poll.  You can choose more than one answer.  Now it's time to get the baby out of bed and refinance my mortgage.  Jealous?

What time of day do you read my blog?
Before work
During work- morning
During work- lunch time
During work - afternoon
Late night
I don't read your blog. Stop asking me questions!

Monday, November 29, 2010


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Mine was delightful, aside for my daughter's nasty cold that just keeps giving.  I am also still not fixed in the sleep department.  The sleep med I've been on for two weeks is making me crazy tired all day, so who cares if I'm sleeping through the night?  Right now I feel a bit jammed in the creativity department, and it took me until now to think of what I wanted to blog about.

How many of you notice the quotes in the beginning of books?  How many of you authors include them?  I must admit that I rarely read the quotes authors choose for their books.  Sometimes, I just feel confused, and other times I am completely turned off by the lame choice of band or musician the author happens to be quoting (this happened in a book I read recently.  And, no, I will not tell you which book.  And yes, I am a music snob).  I have only used one quote so far, at the beginning of INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER.  The quote: "I want to see movies of my dreams."  Or was it "wanna?"  Whatever.  A gorgeous quote from a gorgeous song by one of my favorite bands, Built to Spill.  Why did I choose that quote?  I don't know.  I think I thought it had something to do with my book, but I more just liked the quote.  Isn't that a lame reason?  Even lamer, I secretly hoped that the guys in Built to Spill, when asked for the rights to use their quote, would contact me.  Alas.  No contact.  So why bother?  I'm curious to hear people's thoughts on book quotes.  Because I haven't even written my next book (after the GET WELL SOON sequel), but I somehow thought this would be a nice quote to go in the front, "You're gonna make it after all."  Of course, that's a line from the Mary Tyler Moore theme song.  But I love it even more in this version by Husker Du.  (I couldn't figure out how to insert the umlauts.)  I used this song in my AWARD-WINNING (like, college award-winning) movie, "I Wanna Be a Freak."  Don't you wish you could see that movie?  Maybe some day.  Anyway, it was in a montage scene.  It's possibly the coolest song ever.  And a good quote, to boot.  Enjoy at maximum volume:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What to Watch Weekend: Scarier TV

Y'all know I am tepid about The Walking Dead, and now that Entertainment Weekly is all up the show's butt, I am even more turned off.  Not that I don't enjoy EW.  Any magazine that manages a way to insert Buffy into every list they create is alright by me.  But I just can't jump on the Walking Dead bandwagon yet.  So I thought for this week's edition of What to Watch Weekend, I would suggest the best scary television program of ALL TIME: Tales from the Crypt [note that The Twilight Zone is not considered horror in my brain, even though it may be in some of yours.  Meaning, I adore that show, but it's apples and oranges.].  Tales from the Crypt sparked my interest in horror comics when I was a kid, and there are so many memorable episodes I don't know where to start.  Who am I kidding?  Of course I do!  Here is a list of my favorite episodes of TFTC:

1.  "Dig That Cat...He's Real Gone" (Season 1)- Do NOT go to Wikipedia for descriptions of these episodes.  TOTAL SPOILERS!  Bastards!  That's the beauty of TFTC and The Twilight Zone-- the twisted endings!  For shame!  Anyway, I love any episode that takes place at an old time circus (and there are many), but this one it too brilliant.  The entire story is told from the perspective of a man who was buried alive as part of a circus act after he was given some gland from a cat that supposedly gave him nine lives.  Watch as he recounts each show-stopping death, and hear how he plans to spend the rest of his final life once they dig him up.  I turned this one into a scary story I tell my students.

2.  "Collection Completed" (Season 1) - This is a doozy about a wife whose taxidermy-loving husband won't pay her enough attention.  Perhaps predictable, except for how it looks.  Nasty!

3.  "For Cryin' Out Loud" (Season 2) - An obnoxious guy in the music industry does something bad, and as a result hears voices.  Loud voices.  We're talking so loud you want to jab a pencil in your ears.

4.  "Four-Sided Triangle" (Season 2) - Patricia Arquette and sex with a scarecrow.  That's all I'm saying.

5.  "The Ventriloquist's Dummy" (Season 2) - Do I need to tell you anything else but the title?  If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you don't know what I'm talking about.

6.  "Lower Berth" (Season 2) - The origin of The Cryptkeeper!  At an old time circus!  Holy crap this one's weird.

Alas, I am out of time.  You can see this list might go on forever, if I already have six episodes from only the first two seasons.  If anyone shows interest, I can continue my list another week.  For now, hahahahahahahah! (That's supposed to be the Cryptkeeper's show-ending cackle.  Not as scary in type).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Sappy Thanksgiving

It's a gloomy looking day outside, and I have a headache.  But I am so thankful on this Thanksgiving for everything I have.  For my husband and daughter and cat, and for being able to see them every day and be home together.  Yesterday, with Romy's cold, we all snuggled into the big bed to watch some "Winne the Pooh."  Romy kept looking at each of us, side to side, and repeated, "We are all together."  I don't know specifically where she got that one, but I it was wonderful that she got that.  I am thankful for the rest of my family, for their love and support, and I can't wait to see some of them tonight while we dine at Aunt Gloria's (I'm bringing two pies.  From Baker's Square.  Maybe someday I'll bake a pie, but for now, French Silk it is).  I am thankful for my publisher and my editor and my art designer and my agent.  All of the wonderful folks I work with at Feiwel and Friends, who are like my little publishing family.  They are so wonderful to me and believe in me and make the whole writing process fun.  Otherwise, why would I want to do it?  I am thankful for my friends, some of whom I rarely see but think about on the silliest and most random of occasions.  I am thankful for my job and being allowed to take a year off from work to experience life with my daughter before she's old enough to go to her own school.  And, I hope this doesn't sound cheesy and Grammy Award-winning, but I'm grateful for YOU, all of the people out there who I don't really know or who I am just starting to get to know who read my books and my blog.  Without you, I wouldn't be able to stay home like this with my daughter, or know that what I have to say can actually help others or make someone else laugh.  So thank you to everyone out there reading this.  I hope you and yours have a wonderful, safe, pie-filled (even if it's not homemade) Thanksgiving!  And tomorrow: Black Friday!  Should I or shouldn't I?  And how many of you participate in Buy Nothing Day?  I like to go through all the ads and circle things, and then not buy anything.  Not because I'm really making a statement.  Because I don't want to go out with all of the crazed shoppers.  Or do I want to be one of the crazed shoppers?  Does any of it matter?  Because all I can think about is the pie.

And here's a cartoon from my friend, the brilliant cartoonist Richard Thompson to get you in the spirit (I swiped it from his blog, so I hope he does not mind).  Click to enlarge:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Finished! Pie, Please.

Yesterday, with the babysitting help of my mom, I finished typing up my 397 page manuscript for the Get Well Soon sequel.  I felt great when it was over, but then there's always the feeling that I'm still not finished.  The next step will be to print up the pages (something I used to do easily and quickly when I was working, but something that is iffy and slow at home) and read them over.  I will make lots of little changes throughout, but I don't think I need to make any structural changes.  At this point, I'm quite good at creating a solid foundation for my books.  I have a few sections that I'm not sure about.  I feel the ending could either end at one line, or continue on through the next couple paragraphs.  There was a kiss that I took out, but I'm not sure if I should have.  And then there are all the bits that I'm afraid aren't consistent with the original book.  The problem with that is I am too lazy and slow of a reader to go back and re-read Get Well Soon again just to find that one little spot.  Of course I will, because how lame would that be if I were that lazy?  For instance, I can't remember what I named the parents.  Or if Justin had a last name.  Or if a certain person left the hospital in the original book.  Those are important things to remember when writing a sequel.  And truthfully, trying to figure those things out wasn't very fun.  As much as I would someday like to try my hand at historical fiction, I don't know if I have it in me to stick with research and be historically accurate.  It really messes with my creative process.  It's an interesting thought, though: will I write contemporary YA fiction for the rest of my life?  How much will the YAs change during my career?  How can I keep up?  Always another thing to think about.

I don't think I'll be getting much work done, except maybe the printing, over the next couple of days.  I hear Romy sneezing again and again over her baby monitor, which I was afraid of.  She has a cold.  I hope we can still go to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night.  She is all excited about eating mince pie.  Not that we'll eat mince pie.  But it was mentioned in a book, and she likes to pretend she's eating it while we read it.  We even rented "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" from the library.  Her favorite is Peppermint Patty.  I hope it's only because she has a funny name.  Not because she's rude.  She's better than Lucy, I suppose.

If anyone reading this blog got their hands on a copy of Don't Stop Now, I'd love to hear from you!  Someone posted on facebook that they were reading it, so that means somehow there must be copies out there.  I heard from someone at my publisher that the blogger review copies aren't being sent out until after New Year's.  I'm disappointed to hear that because I would love to have them out there NOW.  I'm not the most patient person.  If I can get my mitts on some more copies, I'll hold another contest.  In the meantime, I must go wrestle with my printer!  And my daughter's boogers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things I Loved and Things I Missed from the Deathly Hallows

Since I am only thirty pages away from finishing my manuscript typing of The Sequel, here is a quickie Top Eleven list of all the things I loved from HP7.  For those who haven't seen it and haven't read the books, there may be spoilers below.  Beware!:

1.  Bill Weasley - How awesome to get to see another Weasley brother!!!  And a fine-looking one at that.  Too bad he has obviously bad taste in skinny, snotty women.

2.  The cartoon of "The Three Brothers - SO incredible.  I could watch that portion on its own a thousand times over.

3.  Seeing the movie the Monday after its release- There were only five groups of people in the theater, so aside from the idiots that felt they could speak aloud in reaction to everything (really, why do people think that's what you do in a movie theater these days?  Especially when nothing you say is at all interesting.), it was a rather comfy, private viewing.

4.  Ron's hideous pants- Why were they so short?

5.  The little dance scene with Hermione and Harry - Sweet and awkward, just the way I like 'em.

6.  Luna's jumpsuit.

7.  Kreacher's nose.

8.  The scene in Bathilda's house looked EXACTLY how I envisioned it while I read it.

9.  Hermione's bag never ceases to amaze me.  And I loved that little jacket she wore when they first changed clothes.

10.  Bill Weasley.  Um, yeah, I said that already, but how much do I love the Weasleys?  Will we finally get to see Charlie in the next movie?

11.  The ending - It totally gave me chills.  And made me smile.  BURN, Voldey!

Three things that I missed from the book:
1.  The touching goodbye between Harry and Dudley.

2.  The mural in Luna's bedroom of her friends.

3.  Am I wrong, or did they make a headstone for Dobby in the book that read, "Here lies a free elf."  And was there a sock involved?  Sometimes I think I just make things up about Harry Potter.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Busy Pants

Sorry for the lack of blogging.  There is just too much going on right now, and my blogging is one of the the things that has to suffer.  Romy is not napping well, and I am still not sleeping well, which means much less typing time.  I am happy to say I am on page 361 of 397, so the end if very nigh!  And I am LOVING the last 100 pages or so.  What that says about the first 300 pages, I'm not sure.  I'll be so happy to finish the typing, but I have realized that this is my life as a writer forever.  There is no way I can write a book directly into a computer.  So every book for the rest of my life will have this torturous typing stage.  Things could be way worse, no?  I could have to wear THESE:
I think that guy on the right is dreaming he's a lumberjack, but he didn't have an ax so he's shouldering a shovel.  I am sickened by the fact these are called "denims."  Get 'em while they're HOT!  It's your LAST CHANCE.  Man, I need some sleep.  I hope I don't dream about these pants.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Still working on the sleep regulation.  Last night I took half a pill, so my sleep only sucked half as badly, as does my current state of day sleepiness.  I'm not pleased, and it is causing me to eat far too many Frango candy cane chocolates (which makes me a disgusting Marshall Field's traitor, I know).  I just got my phone call from the doctor's office with my glucose results, and the one number was actually HIGHER (eff me), but some number that she didn't refer to previously is lower, and apparently that is all good.  So, what does that mean?  I guess that I can keep eating dessert, but not every day, and I still have to stick with the whole grains for cereal, bread, rice, etc.  Huzzah!  My vitamin D is still crap, however, so expect me to be a hunchback any day.

On to the winner of the Don't Stop Now ARC giveaway contest!  Thank you to all who entered!  I hope not winning won't prevent you from wanting to read the book someday (out May 10th!).  The winner is...

Molly!  Who said she would run away to "London where no one knows my name. Because I already live too close to Boston and that's where everyone goes."  Please send me an email, Molly, at julie@juliehalpern.com with your address!

Now for something I found rather hilarious, if only because I do love the Potter gang (Weasley is my king):

Movie Trailers - Movies Blog

How awesome was Malfoy?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grumpy Beans

Today was a blur of bluck.  I started a new sleep med last night, and I could barely get out of bed today.  I felt more tired and groggy than I ever do when I don't sleep, so what's the point?  And I was really mean and grumpy.  I tried to overcompensate by taking Romy to the Jelly Belly factory nearby (yes, I live less than twenty minutes away from the "factory," actually a warehouse with a little train tour.  Whatever, you still get free jell beans).  It worked until I felt like my teeth were rotting, and the grumpies came back.  I'm blogging to remind myself of all the good things from today:
  • I got to page 300 on my manuscript typing!  That's only 97 pages to go!!!
  • Romy had her first jelly bean.  And second.  And a whole lot more.
  • Romy got a Jelly Belly hat.
  • I bought my favorite socks in the world.  (Seriously.  They have the best socks at the Jelly Belly store.)
  • C-Diddy accepted my friend request on facebook.
  • We're going out for Indian food for dinner.
So really not a bad day.  Just a bad me.  Maybe I'll just take half a pill tonight.  And be half as grumpy tomorrow.

Don't forget the contest to win my ARC of Don't Stop Now!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Corn in the Nose

Yesterday I only managed to type up four pages of The Sequel.  Why?  Because during the time that was supposed to be reserved for typing (Romy's usual naptime), I was at the doctor's office with Romy dislodging a piece of corn from her nostril.  The doctor told me to make a seal with my mouth around Romy's mouth, plug her free nostril, and blow hard directly into her mouth.  I did it, and the corn flew out of Romy's nose and directly onto the doctor's sleeve.  It was a beautiful moment.  But also an exhausting, time-consuming one.  So is parenthood.  Speaking of, you may be wondering what we chose for our first television program for Romy.  It ended up being an episode of Sesame Street, and she enjoyed it.  We've watched a little here and there, until tonight when I brought out season one, episode one of The Muppet Show.  Yes, that included the perfection of Mahnamamnan (or however you spell it), but the best part was when Romy watched this:

She was glued.  And then she became unglued and danced and danced.  Over and over.  We played it at least seven times.  Romy is going to be a wonderful dancer.  And that was the meaningful TV moment I was looking for.

Don't forget to enter the contest to win the ARC of my new novel, Don't Stop Now!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finnish Fantasy

As you know (since it's all I've been talking about lately), I can't get enough of Air Guitar Nation.  This would certainly not be the first time I couldn't get enough of it.  I think I'm on my third cycle.  This time around I get to share C-Diddy with my daughter, who requests to watch his contest-winning clip daily.  How much do I love my kid?  But now here's the wacky bit: The World Air Guitar Championships are held in FINLAND.  Where INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER was recently published!  How crazy is that?  Maybe not that crazy to you, but I am always looking for signs.  What is this a sign for?  No clue.  But I thought I would tie it in to my contest for the ARC of my BRAND NEW NOVEL!!!  As I said on Friday, I just received the ARC for DON'T STOP NOW in the mail.  It is the story of platonic best friends, Lillian and Josh, who hear the call of the road after their (pathetic, weird, sort of ) friend, Penny, may or may not have faked her own kidnapping.  Will they find Penny?  Will they find more than friendship?  And what do cheese, corn, and Elvis have to do with it all?  Read my new novel, DON'T STOP NOW to find out!  (Like how it's in bold AND caps?  I am so confused.)
Don't they look cute together?

The contest is this: today through Thursday, comment on this blog post and tell me about a secret place you would run away to if given the chance.  As of now, my place has got to be Finland, no?  I'm thinking book tour timed perfectly with the Air Guitar Championships!  On Thursday, I'll pick a winner.  Due to financial and time constraints, I can only ship within the U.S. Please include your email so I may contact you if you win!  (I just added that on Tuesday, so don't freak if you didn't include it.  Just make sure you keep reading my blog!)

Happy travels!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What to Watch Weekend: Another Doc!

Last weekend I recommended Air Guitar Nation, and I'm so glad I did because I just watched it again (yes, I own it) and the brilliance did not dim one ounce.  The best part, and one of my proudest moments as a mother, was when I showed Romy C-Diddy's United States Air Guitar Championship-winning performance, and she air-guitared right along with him.  It was beautiful.  If you haven't yet taken my advice, perhaps this clip will entice you. 

 This week's suggestion may be difficult to get, since I don't think it's out on DVD.  But if you like funny documentaries, this one can't be missed.  It's called Hands on a Hard Body, and it's the story of a group of people who enter a contest to win a hard body truck somewhere in Texas.  The challenge?  Whoever can keep their hands on the truck the longest wins.  I love the different theories people have to prolong their standing, including eating only Snickers bars.  Good stuff.
It would seem that I only watch documentaries (well, that I watch two documentaries), and that makes me sound stuffy and pretentious.  I hope you all know by now that I am neither, and the documentaries I recommend will always be of the happy and funny kind.  I would not hesitate to call Air Guitar Nation the feel good film of the decade! 

What are you guys watching this weekend?

Friday, November 12, 2010

The ARC is here! You are not.

I am sad that only one person replied to yesterday's picture book post!  I worked really hard on that!  Is it because it was Veteran's Day?  Is it because you all only read YA books?  Is it because the task was just as daunting for you as it was for me?  Whatever the reason, it made me feel like poo.

Therefore, I am going to wait until NEXT WEEK to unveil my contest for (Get ready...Here is comes...Now!):
The Advanced Reader's Copy of my brand new novel!!!!!!!!  DON'T STOP NOW is the story of platonic best friends, Lillian and Josh, who hear the call of the road after their (pathetic, weird, sort of ) friend, Penny, may or may not have faked her own kidnapping.  Will they find Penny?  Will they find more than friendship?  And what do cheese, corn, and Elvis have to do with it all?  Read my new novel, DON'T STOP NOW to find out!  [I totally just wrote that little summary.  Was it lame?  Should I work on that some more?]

So, if you're feeling all guilty now that you didn't give me even one picture book title, you have this weekend to redeem yourself.  On Monday, I'll make the official ARC contest announcement, and all will be right with the world again.

Did I mention I'm going to see Buddy from "Cake Boss" tonight?  And maybe Santino and Austin next week when they come to Chicago?  Neither of those have anything to do with anything, but I thought you should know.  Have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pick Your Picture Books

Talking about picture books (two days ago.  Yesterday I talked about zombies) reminded me that I wanted to post a link to my husband's list of top ten picture books.  Sergio Ruzzier asked a whole bunch of picture book peeps for their top tens, and Matt's happened to be the very first list posted (that's probably because Matt's so on top of things.  Except vacuuming.  I kid!  Not really.  Love you, Honey!).  It got me thinking about what my top ten would be.  A very difficult list to make because of my multiple book personalities: Julie as a child, who enjoyed picture books; Julie as a librarian, who read many picture books aloud to her students; Julie as an author; and my newest book life, as a mom who reads at least ten picture books a day to her two-year-old daughter.  How do I choose?  Do I go for nostalgia?  For the best read-alouds?  For my favorite reads with Romy?  Tough call.  The list that follows is by no means a final edition.  I chose these ten books because they have been with me through some, if not all, of my book incarnations.  The second I publish this post, I'll think of another title and regret not including it, but so is the drama of the list.  Not in any particular order:
  1. Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel - This is my all time favorite book.  Of any and all genres.  Lobel was a master of art and story and sadness and joy.  "And what nice, new feet you have."  Best line ever.
  2. Madeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans - I loved this as a child and asked my mom to recite the final page to me when she closed my door ("Good night little girls.  Thank the Lord you are well.  Now go to sleep...").  Now that I read it to Romy, I realize how brilliant the artwork is.  And so you know, I recite that same page to Romy every night when I put her to sleep.
  3. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina - Such a clever story!  Such funky pictures!  Makes me want to speak in a funny accent.  A really fun read-aloud.
  4. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant - I could not be more of a fan of Stephen Gammel and his illustrations for the Scary Stories books by Alvin Scwartz.  But this book has such a different and cozy feel.  I love this family and all their togetherness.  I'm so sad every time they have to leave.
  5. The Snowy Day  by Ezra Jack Keats - This was an obvious influence on my book, Toby and the Snowflakes.  My love for snow and snow books meld together into perfection The Snowy Day.  I'm sure you know that already.
  6. The Amazing Bone or Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig -  I don't know.  I couldn't decide.  These are both my favorites.  Pearl vs. Sylvester?  I don't think so.  I cried when I saw an exhibit of the original artwork at The Jewish Museum in New York.
  7. The Blanket by John Burningham - A tiny book about looking for your lost blankey.  Done with subtlety and sweetness, a zillion times better than any modern picture book on the subject.  And yes, I had (okay, still have) a blankey.
  8. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arelene Mosel - I loved saying his name over and over again.  Still do.  The adult characters are kind of mean, kind of funny, but still obviously care.  And what kid doesn't want to eat rice cakes after reading this?
  9. The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone - This book is hysterical and beyond clever.  I think some very popular picture books of recent years completely ripped off this idea.  That's all I'm saying.
  10. Portly McSwine by James Marshall -  James Marshall is the master of fat animals.  How is this book out of print?!  What kid can't relate to the story of a worry-wart pig who has to throw a party?  The ending kills every time.  When I was little, my aunt and I did a puppet show version of this at one of my birthday parties.  Someone needs to reprint this NOW!
Well, damn, that was tough.  I am absolutely certain you will read another post from me very soon with my *oops!* missed titles.  
    And of course, now it's your turn.  Give me a top ten.  Or a top five.  Or your all-time fave.  Go on.  I triple-dog dare ya.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    The Walking Dead Dilemma

    I would like to take a moment to discuss the new AMC series The Walking Dead.  Everyone is all over this zombie show, according to how many people seem to be posting about it on Facebook.  But I am not feeling it yet. I am a zombie lover.  You already read my take on the brilliant Dead Set, but it started way before that.  Zombies are the the only things that actually scare me in the realm of scary movies.  I keep flashlights and old long underwear around just in case, you know, the zombie apocalypse happens.  I once had a disagreement with a woman because she had the ridiculous idea to pack a pair of flip flops in her zombie escape kit because, as she said, they were light.  Um, you're not getting away from a swarm of zombies in a pair of flip flops, you fool!  Anyway, maybe it's because it started airing so close to Dead Set, but The Walking Dead isn't impressing me.  The zombies aren't scary, and I don't give a crap about any of the characters.  How can I feel sorry for a guy who misses his wife when his wife is such a skanky bitch?  You may say, the show has only aired twice.  Give them time!  To which I say, Dead Set had me rooting for characters I knew and loved and/or hated within the first ten minutes.  Not that I'll stop watching The Walking Dead.  I mean, there are zombies on TV every week!  But if my poor attitude towards the show doesn't change, it may go the way of Glee.  Hmmm... Zombies on Glee?  That I'd watch.

    Tuesday, November 09, 2010

    The Life and Death and Life of Toby

    Last night I read Toby and the Snowflakes to my two-year-old daughter for the first time.  For those who don't know, Toby is my first published book.  It's a picture book about a boy whose best friend moves away, and he finds solace in the friendly snowflakes that fall.  It is also illustrated by my husband, Matthew Cordell.  A very important book for both of us.  Our only book together.  My only picture book.  The book that started it all, really.  It was surreal to read it to my daughter.  Matt and I started the book before we were married, albeit we were living together.  I remember the day we got the phone call that it would be published-- we were leaving the next day for Italy, Matt's first overseas trip.  You want to know how much they paid us?  I'll just say that together, meaning for both me and Matt, we received less than either of us has received individually on a book since.  We didn't have an agent, we didn't negotiate, and we took it.  Without much push (why should Houghton Mifflin push a book they paid peanuts for?), the book didn't sell very well (although it did receive a starred review in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books) and tragically went into remainder recently.  (Upside?  We were able to buy as many of the several hundred copies for about 80 cents each.)  I hadn't read the book in a while, so it was fun to revisit my work.  It's a great book.  It's sweet and funny and a little sad and definitely pays homage to my beloved snow.  I'm curious to know what Matt would say about the artwork, since I know it's hard for him to look back at his different styles.  Romy was incredibly curious about the book- there was a "What's that?" on every page, which isn't her usual listening style.  At the end of the book is a picture of me, Matt, and our cat, Tobin.  You can find the picture here on Amazon if you click on the "Look Inside" feature.  The first thing Romy said when she saw it?  "Tobin!"  I hope Romy will add it to her pile of preferred books someday.  And I hope Matt and I will again work together on a book.  Writing picture books isn't easy.  I mean, it is easy to just sit down and write one, but it isn't easy to write one that doesn't suck.  Even though Toby was banished to the remainder pile, I can say with confidence that it definitely doesn't suck.

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Sunday Magic

    How weird is the time change?  I think it's extra weird when a) you have a kid and b) you don't go to work every day.  How are Romy and I supposed to adjust?  Will she forever get one hour less of sleep each night?  Will I forever get one hour less of work each day because of it?  I have no answers, only wondrous Sunday ads:

    This is what I'm getting all y'all the holidays.  You see, I get three with each order, so think of how cheap each gift will be!  Who wants the bone one?  Anyone?

    These are ice cream cakes, which always fascinate me.  These, however, are disturbing.  That shiny turkey one?  Really?  Who the eff wants their ice cream to look like a turkey?  Strangely, I feel compelled to buy one. 

     Glad to see hideous Sunday clothing isn't discriminatory against animals.  Not that these are so hideous.  They're doggone stylish, in fact!

    Sunday wouldn't be Sunday without hideous clothing.  How long is this woman's crotch?  Wonder warm!  Crotch!  Happy Monday!

    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    New Feature: What to Watch Weekend!

    I am taking a cue from my author buddy, Brian James, and his weekly blog feature (his happens to be the Weekend Music Roundup), and making my own weekly weekend feature!  Since I don't think people read blogs as regularly on the weekends, this will be a nice, light blogging exercise for me.  Each week I'll recommend a movie to watch over the weekend, randomly picked from my brain.  This week I'm going back three years to one of my favorite documentaries, Air Guitar Nation, about the world International Air Guitar Championships.  You can read a couple of my blog posts about it here, and learn how much this movie ROCKS.  Sadly, the film's website seems to be dismantled, but the spirit of the film can never be! (dismantled, that is)  Warning: Do not watch this movie before bedtime, or you will be too riled up to sleep!  Second warning: there is a penis in the film.  Yeah!

    Friday, November 05, 2010

    Page 164

    I am on page 164 out of 397 in my typing of The Sequel: Why is It So Long?  And I'm feeling poopy about it.  Not the content, but the length of the process.  I calculated how long it should take me to finish this, and it came to just under twenty-four hours.  Which sucks.  That's SO long.  So many hours!  It may not sound like much-- one entire day!-- but when the typing is excruciating at some moments, both in terms of the anxiety it brings me and the pain in my carpal-tunneled hands, it's playing with my mind.  I can only manage about an hour at a time, and those hours are sparse with the mommy thing I've got going.  I don't think I will make my Harry Potter game goal.  Dang.

    So, blog readers, can you help me out with a few words of encouragement?  Just something nice or funny, even if it has nothing to do with my typing up my book.  I need a smile and to know there are people out there that will eventually want to read this beast.

    Ah, Romy's awake.  Time for the mommying part of my day to begin...

    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    Magic as Motivator

    That final revision of Don't Stop Now threw me off, but I'm back on track now with the typing of Shazzam!  It's a Sequel!  And I have a new motivator: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows game comes out November 16!  Actually, it comes out a week earlier if you want to play it on a platform other than PC.  But I don't have a platform other than PC.  No, wait, I do have a Playstation 2.  I forgot about that.  I bought it in order to play Dance Dance Revolution and Buffy: Chaos Bleeds.  And then I put it in the basement. 

    The Potter games are fantastic.  Maybe not always as far as game play, but the last two games (based on the movies that arrived at the same time) made it feel like you were actually at Hogwarts, navigating through the nooks and crannies of the castle.  And who doesn't want to be at Hogwarts?  The biggest downfall in the games was that they made Ron Weasley look all zitty and ugly.  And short.  He looked short.  And he had dorky shoes.  Anyway, it will be interesting to see what the new game is like, considering almost none of the final book (and probably very little of the first installment of the two-part movie) takes place in Hogwarts.  Another great aspect to the Potter games is that they use many of the actual film actors' voices.  Sadly, not Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson (what?  You guys are too good for video games?  Same went for the Buffy game and  no show Sarah Michelle Gellar.  People can be so disappointing.), but my dearest Rupert Grint was there, as were several others.

    The point of all of this video game blathering is this: my new goal is to type as fast as I can so I can play the video game during the times of day when Romy sleeps and I currently have to type up my book.  That means I need to type about 25 pages per day, if my 5 a.m. estimate was correct.  Which is a lot for me.  But if anyone can motivate me to type faster, it's Ron Weasley.

    Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    Where's the Funny?

    Perhaps it's the revisions, or all the zombie stuff I've saturated myself in, or the dismal elections, but I am trying hard to think of ways to blog the funny.  Maybe this Sunday clothing sample I never posted will help:
    Oy.  It tells me where my head is at when I look at these pants and think, lots of pockets are good when you're on the run from zombies!  But at the same time, these are essentially sweatpants, right?  So the second you put items in your pockets, not only will the entire world see the outline of that Butterfinger you were trying to conceal, but the weight of said items will drag those stretchy pantaloons right off.  I do enjoy how they are emphasizing "That's like $8 off!"  Does that even sound tempting?  And Big guys get the same low price!  Sick.  I just read the line about "Extra Deep 'Hand warming' Pockets."  First off, why is "hand warming" in quotes?  Second, eeeeewwwww?  And eeewww again to the Easy Access Zipper Fly and the Fortified Seams.  These pants are seriously disturbing.  They are all that's wrong with America right now.  Well, not all that's wrong.  Wouldn't it be lovely if all that were wrong with America could be blamed on Cargo Comforters?

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    Downright Despondent, Disturbed, and Depressed

    Sorry for the absence.  Halloween reared its crazy head, and somehow Romy knew that, and, therefore, refused to nap.  Trick-or-treating was fun, albeit odd.  Seeing inside my neighbor's homes...  Then came Romy's second birthday(!), which brought much mirth and more sugar.  All in all, good things.  Except for the book.  I have been on hold typing up my handwritten manuscript for the Get Well Soon Sequel ever since I received the pages for my Spring 2011 book, Don't Stop Now.  Normally, this part is a snap.  The pages are laid out all purty, looking like real book pages instead of a Word document.  The galley should be out in a month or so, so all I needed to do was make small tweaks for the final printing.  Which I did.  On almost EVERY SINGLE PAGE.  Nothing huge, but significant nonetheless.  Every changed word does something for the pacing or fills in a gap or clarifies something that wasn't there before.  Which means that all of the reviewers who receive Don't Stop Now, in its current form, won't read it with the million tiny changes.  That is why there is that message on galleys stating that this is an uncorrected proof.  But how much do and can reviewers really take this into account?  Will they be like, oh, there's a hole in the plot here, but I'm sure she fixed it in the final edition?  That doesn't happen, does it?  So now I'm fretting.  Fretting fretting fretting.  And election day doesn't help matters.  Instead of hope, I just feel anxiety about the ignorance and misunderstanding of so many citizens out there.  It hurts my stomach.

    And you know what's weird?  For the life of me, I can't remember what picture book my blog title is from.  Help!