Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I Did On My Winter Vacation

Is it really a winter vacation if I don't technically have a real job? I say yes, since I still have to deal with the insanity of the holidays, my daughter is off from school, and my husband actually took a week away from working on his books. So here's an exciting list of what I've been doing with myself (and others) for the last week or so:

Movies - I saw TWO whole movies in theaters! Sadly, I wasn't in love with either. Maybe it's that I see so few movies in the theater that when I do go, I want them to be spectacular. The first movie I saw was The Muppets. The expectations were too high, so it never could have been what I wanted. Or, maybe my haunches were already up, seeing as I read an article about the movie saying Frank Oz wouldn't play Miss Piggy because he didn't feel some of the material was worthy (not a direct quote). Even though I am of the age of the people revamping the Muppets, I still can only see them as a bunch of cynical hipsters that will never be Jim Henson. The other movie I saw was Hugo in 3D. I know I was supposed to be blown away, but, well, meh. My favorite pieces of the movie were Sacha Baron Cohen's performance and Chloe Grace Moretz's well-done British accent (she could teach many adults in the film world a thing or two. Although, check out her ridiculous IMDB photo. Oy.)
Matt and I also made an attempt to watch more than one movie in a month on DVD. I've started placing holds early on for new movies at the library, and they always come in in bushels. We watched My Idiot Brother (much cuter than expected), Crazy, Stupid Love (good, although I was disturbed by the way Ryan Gosling's abs looked. And not in a good way. I actually had a whole blog planned about it, but I have yet to find the angle), and I think something else but I've already completely forgotten. Which doesn't mean it wasn't good. It just means that my brain is filled with sprinkles.
Unfortunately, We also watched the hilariously bad Stephen King made-for-TV movie, Bag of Bones. This thing was so slow, every time we fast forwarded through the commercials on the DVR and I saw how much time was left, I was in shock. It picked up with a nicely laughable final twenty minutes. About as good as the rest of Stephen King's TV movies. I'll still watch them.

TV - With all of the movie watching, there has been little time for television. Unless you include Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  My most recent favorite television show (besides the usual fare) is Work of Art. I loved last season, and I loved this season. The Sucklord made great TV, and the three finalists were all very worthy. I'm looking forward to my next reality competition show, Project Runway All Stars. I hope it doesn't snooze me out the way the last season of Runway did. Oh, and did anyone watch Selling Spelling Manor about Candy Spelling selling her massive home? Definitely worth checking out! That woman is all kinds of hoarder crazy. She just had the money and space to do it neatly.

Books - I know, I know, this should have come earlier in the post. Bad author! Bad librarian! But when you spend so much time trying to watch movies and the rest of the time trying to entertain a three year-old, reading is the thing that really suffers. I've been on the same book for weeks, and it is not at all a reflection on the quality of the book. By the time I get another chapter read, I'm about to fall asleep. The book (which I have finally almost finished!) is The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson, the sequel to The Adoration of Jenna Fox. It's quite good, although I'm finding I want more romance. Not that there should be romance in this book, but I'd like to read something with a little romance. So then what do I end up reading in two short days? Something as far from romantic as possible: My Friend Dahmer, a graphic novel by Derf Backderf. Whoa. The teenage years of Jeffrey Dahmer written by a guy who actually hung out with him. Really amazing. I read an ARC, and I highly recommend getting the book when it comes out in March.

Culture - Ha! That's such a ridiculous heading. The family attempted to visit a Hanukkah celebration at a museum in Kenosha, WI, but it was so packed that we left and instead ate lunch at a really weird, empty restaurant (the entirety of Kenosha's downtown was empty). Then Romy painted a fish at a pottery shop, since we have been reading a cute book about the same thing called Polka Dot Penguin Pottery by Lenore Look. We still have to return to pick up the fish, which means another delightful trip into Kenosha's downtown. Hopefully it'll be more bustling on a weekday. We also visited Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Their special exhibit was about Dr. Seuss, and I hate to say but I was a little disappointed. Almost none of the works were original, and they did a ridiculous oobleck experiment to pretend they had a reason to exhibit about Seuss in a science museum. I loved the sculptures of fake animals, and Romy enjoyed the hands-on toys. The day was lovely, and we ate ice cream in the old fashioned ice cream parlor. Apparently, it was the busiest day of the year. Matt kept asking, "Why is the day after Christmas the busiest day of the year?" And I was all, "It's pretty awesome that this is what people are choosing to do the day after Christmas!" Next weekend we hit my favorite museum in the world, The Field Museum. They have an exhibit on whales, something all of the Halpern-Cordells love.

I could also report about the disgusting amount of presents received and given in our house and how I need to give up trying to get Romy to care about Calico Critters, but I'll save that post for another time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Latke Belly

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. We celebrated by frying up some latkes (admittedly the box kind, which I kind of LOVE). Um, why does spellcheck not recognize the word "latkes?" Oy. Anywho, Matt and I haven't exchanged gifts yet, but Romy is rolling in the toys already from her early Christmas visit to South Carolina. I may soon stop pretending that we actually have places to put things. Her first night of Hanukkah gift was a book (duh) and a remote control car. It went over very well. Full on hilarious commentary.

This morning I awoke with a stomachache. I think the box latkes are not happy. To remedy this, I ate three Hanukkah cookies. Thus ends my stomachache diary.

Damn, I'm having trouble thinking of blogging ideas! So I shall just wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah (even if you don't celebrate, just like all those stores that INSIST on having their workers say "Merry Christmas" when a) not everyone celebrates Christmas, b) it's not even currently Christmas and c) It is, indeed, currently Hanukkah), and let you know that if you feel like buying me a present it should be wrapped in this:


Friday, December 16, 2011

Corrections

I would like to further my blogging about my revision and note that I am NOT blaming my sweet copy-editor for all of the changes I didn't want to make! I know there are rules to follow, and these days those rules are being thrown out the window right and left with the world's texts and tweets. I don't actually want to be a person who encourages the demise of improper language, but I also want my book to look cool. Which sounds absolutely ridiculous. But for those of us who write (and those of us who read), there are things that may be wrong but may look more right to a reader. Did that make sense? So with my war on capitals, I feel like t-shirt should not be capitalized because t-shirts themselves are all laid back and wouldn't want to be all "look at me, all big and whatnot" in the middle of a sentence. And emails, since they are often not even spell-checked and take so little effort these days, do not deserve the distinction of a capital. To my copy-editor: without you, I would look like an idiot. Thank you for your red marks! And I truly don't mind the color red.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Long Call

Today I'll address a question raised by a blog comment from Teenage Librarian about the revision process. Yesterday I mentioned a phone call with my publisher, and TR asked if I normally did stuff over the phone. The answer is no. At this stage in revision, where I have my manuscript back from the copy-editor and it's covered in red marks telling me I need to go back to school for punctuation lessons, I usually type up an email to my editor with all of the little changes that need to be made. However, with my last book (Don't Stop Now), I felt rushed before the advanced reader copy (the copy sent out to reviewers) came out, and I didn't get in the changes I would have liked. This time around I decided I needed to take the time and read through every word of the book again, not just the copy-editor's marks, before it went to print for the ARCs. Maybe I've just been lazy in the past or haven't had time or thought I read the manuscript enough with all of my previous revisions, but Have a Nice Day (the current revision and sequel to Get Well Soon) only went through TWO revisions with my editor. That's how awesome I am. Um, yeah. But because of that, I didn't have that feeling where I knew every page and line and joke. This time, I needed another big read-through. For which my publisher gave me one week :) And the book is 362 pages (like, full typed pages. It will be even more when it turns into real book format). So not only did I have a sick kid and a trip to South Carolina, but I had to read through and tweak 362 pages last week. [I would just like to note that all 362 pages just fell off my desk. Assholes.] There were many tiny changes and just a few bigger changes, but there was no way I was also going to have the time to type an email to my editor with said changes. If I were to do that, it would look something like this:
On page 4, third paragraph, second line, cross out "no CDs" and replace with "no computers."

To do that with every single change would take me seventeen thousand years. So this time around I called the delightful Anna Roberto, Editorial Assistant at Feiwel and Friends, and for TWO HOURS AND FORTY-SEVEN minutes we went page by page together. Strangely, it was really fun (except for the sleeping butt I acquired). I am not one to show my work to many people until it's completed, so the only people who have read Have a Nice Day are my editor, my agent, Anna, and the art director, Rich Deas. Yet, I don't really know which parts people think are good or funny. Being on the phone with Anna, I heard her laugh at certain passages or received a nice word about a sentence here and there. It was great to have that feedback. Sometimes I write things that I think are hilarious, but I never know if anyone else is laughing along with me. Anna and I laughed quite a bit.

Speaking of laughs, it was hilarious to have to say things to Anna like, "On the top of page 127, can you change 'such shit' to 'a hairy anus'?" Ha! Man, if I can't say it aloud, though, I shouldn't be able to write it.

Something else you may find interesting about the copy-editing process is that there are the correct ways of doing things, and then there are the ways I'd rather do them. For instance, I do not like capitalization of letters in the middle of a sentence. So with words like t-shirt and email and v-neck, while they are supposed to be capitalized, I chose to have them lowercase. I just think it looks better. There were a bunch of deliberate incorrect changes I made, so hopefully people don't think either a) I'm an idiot or b) inaccuracies were not caught. Only time will tell. I can't wait until the book comes out! I think it's really good! Am I allowed to say that?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'll Take One of Everything

My family spent the last five days in Greenville, South Carolina, where Matt's family lives. This year Matt wanted to have our own Christmas at home, so we traveled early. We missed out on the holiday crowds at the airport, but Papa and Granny still provided a Christmas dinner, complete with a visit from Santa. I wish I could say it was a delightful trip, but Romy was sick the entire time so most of the trip was spent trying to get her to nap or trying to find a medicine that would stop her coughing. The plane flight and car ride home were extra special, let me tell you, and ended directly at the doctor's office. An antibiotic later and a semi-decent night's sleep (especially for Matt, who is under the spell of his beloved Nyquil), and all is well. I guess. Today I have a scheduled phone call with someone at my publisher where I will go page by page through my manuscript and tell her every single tiny change I made. The stack is 361 pages long, so this could be quite a phone call. Maybe I should limber up beforehand. As usual, I'm a bit sleepy. Romy woke me up around 5:30 and needed me to help her fall back asleep. I was in panic mode, knowing I still had several pages to read and small passages to rewrite on my book. It's now 7:20, she's back asleep, the book's complete, and I'm blogging. But, yeah, tired. Back to Greenville. I wanted to share this picture from their concession stand.
Can you believe the prices? I don't know about your zoos, but around these parts, they would charge at least five bucks for a PB&J. I almost considered ordering one of everything on the menu. Fruit snacks for a quarter? Unheard of! Ah, small town living. Or Southern living. Or really small zoo living. Not quite sure which factor made the prices so low. They almost made up for the creep who asked us if we saw the lions. "They were jumping up and scratching on the glass! It was awesome!" You know what would have been awesome, Mr. Redneck? If the lion broke through the glass and ate you with a side of really cheap corn dog. Um, I'm conflicted about zoos. Can you tell?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Revisions and Barf Bags



PS I never watch these vlogs after I record them, so I hope they're not too lame!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Husband Machine

Our house is running very oddly these days, and whenever there is a kink in our normal lives (the kink this time being my surgery) it's very obvious who does what and how we do it well. To add to the kinkiness, our daughter has a bad cold/cough, and was up several nights coughing. But my husband, the uber-talented Matthew Cordell, still has to work during the day, within the walls of the House of Kook, on his books. We do not have a large house. His office is one of our three bedrooms (and you all know how awesome my office is). Things are sort of calming down (I'm healing, although annoyingly slower than I'd like. Why am I not bionic?), and my mom has once again graciously taken Romy (probably to the damn Rainforest Cafe and on the mall train. The driver of that thing is insane. And thus ends my poem about the mall). But I still need to commend the hubby and give him a massive shoutout because of all of the great work he's doing, both as a family member and as an illustrator. Below is a list of only SIX of the SEVEN books Matt has coming out next year! Can you believe that?! I hope this means big things for the H-C family, and by big things I don't mean my butt (Who am I kidding? I would love a bigger butt!). I'll be sure to remind y'all when these book are dropping (we need to use that term more for books. Because, unlike with music, you can actually drop a book! Unless it's a stupid ebook, and then you'd be all upset because you dropped your precious ereader. Um, I mean that in a nice way).

We start the year off right with an author/illustrator one-two punch! Matt's second twofer, Another Brother (which already received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly!). 1/31/12

The rest of these titles I'm just going to list. Otherwise, I'll never get this post posted.

Itsy Bitsy Baby Mouse by Michelle Meadows 3/6/12

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems by Gail Carson Levine 3/13/12 (Yeah, that's right, GAIL CARSON LEVINE.)

Justin Case: Shells, Smells, and the Horrible Flip-Flops of Doom by Rachel Vail 5/8/12

Bat and Rat by Patrick Jennings 5/1/12

Hello Hello by Matthew Cordell! Matt ends his book party with another author/illustrator book! This one's a real beauty. I have no links for it yet. Fall 2012

Now it's my turn to work on my one measly book release for 2012, Have a Nice Day, the sequel to Get Well Soon. I received the copy-edited manuscript this morning, so it's time to get to work! I'll blog more about that next week.

Also, anyone thinking of giving my books as presents for the holidays? If so, I would be happy to mail out a personally autographed bookplate. Inside the U.S. only, please. Unless you want to send me stamps. Or money. Or barter candy.




Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Typing Tuesday

I totally missed Cyber Monday! What a bummer. You know why? Because I was having surgery AGAIN. I have had surgery three times in less than two years! WTF?(as the kids say, and I am obviously not a kid anymore. #bodyfail) This time was removing a cyst from my ovary (is that too much information? I feel like once I bring out the ovaries, it's all TMI, but whatever), and I guess all went well. The whole experience was rather undelightful, particularly the waking up and feeling like shit for way too long afterwards. I still can't even look at my stomach and may never look at it again, thanks to three little cuts. Ug. I don't want to make myself barf. ANYWAY, the point was that I was too under the knife to shop Cyber Monday. Which was probably for the best. I went a little cuckoo on Black Friday. Not that I spent too much (or maybe I did), but I totally got sucked into the spirit of it! And, actually, it was pretty fun.

I must start off by addressing the hullabaloo about Black Friday getting crazier and crazier that it now impedes on Thanksgiving. But, really? I don't know. Is Thanksgiving that sacred a holiday? It's mostly about eating a shitload and celebrating all things gluttonous, whether it be food or, say, taking lots of land that's not yours. And for that guy who started a petition because he'd have to work at Target at midnight and because of that would have to sleep all day on Thanksgiving and miss out just so he could be awake for work, I say this: seriously, dude? Just go to work all tired like everyone else does. It was probably ridiculously bizarre anyway that lack of sleep could've come in handy as a coping mechanism. Or at least an excuse.

My Black Friday began Thursday night. Gratefully, Toys R Us opened at 9 p.m. I would never had stayed awake until midnight to shop, nor will I wake up at an ungodly hour. The fun is shopping at times when you normally can't shop. I live about three minutes away from Toys R Us, and since this year they apparently listened to my complaints from last year (remember me griping about their great big CHRISTMAS catalog? Which then made me boycott them for the holiday season? This year they had a great big HOLIDAY catalog! So, all shopping was a go. I thought I blogged about that, but when I went to find the post for a link, I could not. Maybe I just bitched about it on facebook), it was on. I think I would have had more fun if I had a friend with me. I watched lots of people tagteam shop, leaving the winding checkout line to emerge with even more bargains with their place held neatly. But I still had fun. Outside the line wound around the entire back of the store. I stood behind a man and his son, probably nine years old. I chatted them up, told them my favorite Black Friday story (about the woman they showed on the news in a Wal-mart stampede who fell to the ground and her wig popped off, and instead of standing and getting herself out of the way she made sure her wig was on again perfectly before she stood back up), and we strategized about where to go first in the store. Then when we actually entered the building, there was a dramatic "Good luck!" as we parted. Hilariously, I didn't really have any big ticket items I planned on buying. There were a few things to add to the list (which is freaking huge, since we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas-- but to clarify, we're raising Romy Jewish. We don't believe you can be two religions), but they were more like "maybe another Polly Pockets set or Spiderman thing." I did get her a kid camera that I wanted to buy, and that was a Doorbuster at half off! But was it really about the purchases? I couldn't stop talking to everyone. I wanted to make it into an experience because if not, what was the point? I kept coercing people to let me pass them to quartered-off sections of the store, and once in line I convinced a woman who continuously left her friends in line to pick up that Polly Pockets set I mentioned. When it was my time to pay (I made it in and out of the store in under an hour), I kibitzed with the bouncer (seriously, they had a bouncer) who said that he had to work until three am and then was moving on to Sears! The next day, Matt waited in line with me as we returned several items (and watched inefficiency at its most annoying), so I didn't even really spend that much money! Oh, and when Romy woke up at 7 am on actual Black Friday, I got her dressed (and then she asked if she could put on her Spiderman costume, so I said sure), and we went to Target. All of the big 5 am deals were already gone (Blu-Ray and portable DVD players I didn't need anyway), so all we left the store with were some towels (that were a great price). Then we went out for donuts (which we do maybe twice a year). Quite festive. And you should have seen the joy Romy brought to the other kids being dragged about when they caught a glimpse of her in her Spidey suit.

This post was far too long (and I used the word "really" about 700 times), but I'm in bed and drugged and felt like chatting with myself. Anybody else out there celebrate the joys of Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Still kind of bummed I missed it. There is so much more crap I don't need that I wanted to buy! The spirit of the season is within me!

PS I want to note that on Small Business Saturday, I stopped by my local comic book shop, an awesome newly discovered restaurant, and an independently owned toy store! And, yes, I spent money at all three places. So, yay for shopping!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Radio

Sorry for my pity party post yesterday. I am not usually one for "oh poor me." I am more a "why does everything suck for everyone" type of whiner. Anyway, being Thanksgiving time and all, I am definitely grateful for many things. However, I am not going to blog about them right now. Instead I am going to bitch about the state of Chicago radio.

In my car (a glorious 1998 Honda Civic), my listening options are vast: I have a cord from my TAPE DECK that allows me to plug in my iPod, CD player (when I remember to bring batteries. And CDs), or XM radio (when I take advantage of their free trials. I used to have a subscription when I commuted, but now it wouldn't make sense to pay for it unless I bought an inside unit for my house. Which I really want to do because I totally miss the Elvis and Backspin [old skool hip hop] channels). I can also choose to listen to Chicago's shitty "array" (and I use that term lightly, since there are only a handful of actual music channels these days) of stations. Of course there is always the NPR option, which I do choose sometimes, but when I'm driving in the Civic that means I'm alone (Romy's car seat is in our other car) so I'd like to use that time to listen to music I want to listen to (instead of "Daydream Believer," which we are forced to listen to on repeat every time we get in the car with Romy.) Wow this post has a lot of asides. Yesterday, for the second day in a row, I had to drive an hour each way to the doctor's office for the second day in a row to get the skinny on my upcoming surgery. To add suck to the suckpile, the cord of my tape deck adapter broke. That meant no iPod, no CD player, and no XM radio (for which I'm in free trial time right now). Four hours left with Chicago radio. I guess I can see, what with all of our choices now for car listening, why radio might be struggling. However, if I drive North towards Milwaukee, they still have some excellent radio stations. Their oldies channel is outstanding (they play actual oldies from the 50s and 60s), as is their choice of hip hop stations. Chicago's radio has turned into a wasteland of random talk channels and Billy Joel. I swears every time I flip through the five music channels (I'm not counting channels that play country because I never stop on those), at least two of them have on a Billy Joel song. Or Elton John. Or John Melloncamp. Or that freakin' Adele song (how does anyone like that song anymore after hearing it 70 trillion times?). Chicago radio is one boring mush of lame. The "rock" channel was playing fucking Oasis yesterday. And the hip hop channels? Do they play ANYTHING other than Drake? I like Drake (that's Jimmy Brooks to you and me, Rusty), but where's the variety? I like my radio segregated: METAL, HIP HOP, OLDIES. Our oldies station plays 80s music! And not even good 80s music! All of this forced me to dig into my trunk and pull out the remnants of my cassette collection, which had me driving to such gems as Eric Johnson's "Ah Via Musicom," Rush's "Chronicles," the "Pretty in Pink" soundtrack and Special K's cassingle of "I Got a Man." Sigh. Last night I went to Target and picked up a new cassette adapter (thank turkey, they still sell those!). Not that I'll get to use it today. No, today it's a family ride in the station wagon. Time to get ready for two glorious hours of cold shaving razors and white knights on their steeds.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alexander was Right

This morning I woke up at 4:30 when my daughter yelled and cried and interrupted our sleep yet again.

When my cat came out of the basement, he threw up right in the middle of our front room.

I can tell it's going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I couldn't help myself from eating the chocolate-covered pretzel I bought for my daughter, and there aren't any good classes offered at the gym this morning.

And I have to drive another hour to a doctor I went to yesterday so she can talk to me about the surgery I'm having on Monday to remove a cyst from my ovary. That means another IV and waking up from anesthesia and having three little incisions on my stomach and maybe even losing an ovary and recovering while my daughter doesn't understand that her mom just needs to lay in bed and watch shitty TV.

It is definitely, abso-fucking-lutely, going to be a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

I think I'll move to Australia. Again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Troll!

No, I am not about to discuss the brilliant(ly awful) 80s movie, Troll, starring my purple buffalo-hunting beau, Noah Hathaway. Instead, I'm going to review the super awesome Norwegian movie, TrollHunter. I may be a bit biased about this movie, although I don't think that should diminish anyone else's enthusiasm for it. You see, I took Norwegian during my last semester of college. Hvorfor, you ask? Because it seemed like a funny thing to do. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there are many students with Scandinavian backgrounds, so many that the school has an entire Scandinavian Studies Department. I hung out with several people of recent Scandinavian decent (like, they had really Scandinavian names and spoke their native languages when I asked), and the kookiness/attractiveness of the languages and people led me to Norsk. The class was filled with other like-minded oddballs, and many a week would end with a wacked-out party involving Norwegian hard liquor and pop songs. This one in particular, which our TA made us learn:

What is this crap video?

TrollHunter (I'm not sure if I'm supposed to separate the words or not. The DVD box cover showed the title in a variety of formations) steals from the (at the time revolutionary) Blair Witch format, when a group of college students heads out to make a documentary about a bunch of bear (bjorn) deaths happening around Norway. (Yes, this is the type of thing on which Norwegians report. I so wish I had the hilarious news report our Norwegian TA shared with us where the reporter changed positions after each story, sometimes in a lounge chair, sometimes in front of a roaring fire. Who wouldn't want to visit Norway after watching that?) But instead of finding a bear killer, guess what they find... Troll Hunter!!! The troll hunter himself is so awesomely committed, both the character and the actor, to the seriousness of the troll hunting situation. The three college students (Two guys and a gal. Blair Witch again!) follow him on what they think is a ridiculous hunt, until they SEE their first troll! And let me tell you, that troll is awesome. I LOVE the trolls in this movie. They are cartoony in their weirdness but so real in the way they fit into the film and their environment. Really inventive.

TrollHunter is a movie that could only have been made in Norway. They have all sorts of troll lore references that were not a part of my childhood but were obviously very prominent in the Norwegian characters' fairy tales, such as trolls being able to sniff out Christians (I was floored by how readily the main characters were all, "No, of course we don't believe in God." Is that how it is in Norway?). As the film progresses, and the students discover trolls are real, they start to refer to the troll hunter as a national hero. Very cool. He was the only one who could do his job. Kind of like Buffy! But hairier and in Norwegian. The film itself is suspenseful, a little scary, and all around fascinating. I plan to watch it again when it comes back in at my library. Mostly because I want to look at the trolls some more. There is one that is as big as a mountain! And it totally looks like it!

The lost footage aspect (yes, they did that just like in Blair Witch) was hokey and not quite as believable as B.W. (there were too many camera views for only one camera to be at play), but if you can forgive that (which you can because, geez, it's just a movie) then this movie is pure awesomeness. I give TrollHunter five out of five troll bogeys!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Toasties

I'm sure my male readers feel left out when I post such fashionable clothing items from the Sunday paper, so today I have some hottttt pants for you!
I delivered, didn't I? I love that they are from the "Casual Joe" line. Wait- I just had a flashback to blogging about these same pants. Because they have so many features. Let me check. Ha! I did! It was just a little over one year ago! Note the man is different. And the price, too! Wow, Cargo Comfoters inflation. Times are tough. My other blog post is way hilarious and references Butterfingers. This one is not comparing.

And now I swear I also blogged about these, but I can't find that post:
Is it my fault the Sunday papers keep running the same clothing ads, or am I getting lame in my blogging ideas? Whatever. I was going to say that I am SO tempted to buy these boots! But how would my pants fit over the big, fluffy band? Or if I wore them over my pants, how hideous would that look? Too bad they wouldn't arrive in time for NCTE. I would be most impressive.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Softest Yet!

For those coming to Chicago next week for the NCTE conference, I will be appearing (which makes me sound like a magician) on a panel called "No Vampires, No Witches, No Dystopias: Young Adult Literature Goes Back to Its Roots in the Here and Now." I just realized what a long title that is. Good thing we don't have to print it out as a banner on our dot matrix printer! Think how long that would take! Other awesome authors (which implies that I think I'm awesome. Sometimes I do. Shouldn't we all?) on the panel are Donna Freitas, Tara Kelly, and Andrew Smith. Come see us at the Hilton (um, vague, but if you're going to the conference you'll know where that is) on Sunday, November 20th from 8:30 - 9:45 am. After that, we'll all be signing over at the Macmillan Children's Booth #402 from 10:30 - 11:30. Don't worry- I'll remind you 700 more times.

The last time I was at NCTE, it was held in Philadelphia. I had a blast there and chose to wear ridiculous shoes for the ALAN cocktail party (to which I am not invited this year. LOSER). I just reread the blog post I wrote, and it is HILARIOUS. Well, at least the Boyz II Men reference made me laugh. To the point where Romy was like, "Mom, why are you laughing?" And I was like, "Because I was reading something I wrote, and I think I'm funny." Anywho, in the post I talked about the shoes and how they KILLED my feet.
High heels are fugged up. Which is totally why I am in the market for a new pair to wear to the Macmillan dinner party I'm attending on Saturday night! Totally an asinine (why does this word not have two s's?) decision, seeing as I am certain we will have to walk to the restaurant, and it will be cold, and I will be in pain. But I wear jeans everyday, so this is my chance to feel like a lady. Stay tuned for that debutante debacle.

Speaking of awesome clothes, check out these babies!
So many things to love about these. Like how they make that thin woman look all lumpy! And how they are "Wonder Warm." 100% washable! Because most of my pants are an average of 63% washable. And who doesn't love a pair of slacks? The ad claims they have "the warmth, drape and look of finest woolen flannel with all the modern advantages." I'm going to stop them right there. Flannel pants=pajamas. Modern advantages? Who is the awesome person who writes this stuff? I love them so!

This ad isn't as funny, but I love how these are the softest sweaters YET. Does that mean there are softer ones to come? That the old ones aren't quite as soft? They use a "lofty new acrylic." Sounds like a rash waiting to happen.

Hmmmm. Maybe if this author thing doesn't work out, I can get a job writing for Haband.com. But do I have the talent to keep up with these masters?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

My Glamorous New Digs

Since some of you (okay, I think one of you) requested more vlogs, here's a vlog about my awesomely impressive new writing space:

Friday, November 04, 2011

Defending Realism

First off, I have to give a shoutout to the awesome kids at New Trier High School, especially my old students, who came to see me during their writers' week. I had an amazing time and felt such love. Sniff. Made me question quitting my job. Just a little.
There were more people, but I only took this one lame picture. See how nice they look?

But now, I would like to address the issue of realism in realistic fiction. Again, I am talking to the doubters, those who like to write reviews where they say stupid things like THAT COULD NEVER HAPPEN. For fuck's sake: anything can happen! What kind of lame-ass existence do you live in where things can't happen? Sick bastards blow themselves up in the name of religion! Conversely, two week old babies are pulled from rubble alive! The world is a crazy place, good and bad. Just because your lives are uneventful in the kook department, doesn't mean everyone else's are. It certainly doesn't mean mine is. Here are some examples from my works of FICTION that actually happened TO ME:

Get Well Soon:
- I was in a mental hospital very similar to the one in the book, and, yes, the staff acted very similarly to the lazy, unhelpful characters.
-There was a Satanist, a girl who had seizures and spoke in tongues, and a roommate who had to carry around a fake baby.
-Parents can be that oblivious

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder:
This isn't so much about real vs. fake, but it pisses me off that this book was so lauded for the wonderful family represented, and when I wrote a book with parents who were absent (Don't Stop Now) people complained about that. Why? Because (I'm so sure) all parents and families are perfect? When I wrote it, I actually wondered if my Nerd family were so saccharine sweet, people would complain they were unrealistic! Diversity in characters is important, for both the readers AND the writers. It makes books more REALISTIC.

Don't Stop Now:
- I had a friend who faked her own kidnapping. At age 18. And I was the only person she told.
-I lied to the FBI about said friend faking her own kidnapping.
-My parents trusted me to make lots of decisions at age 18. They never visited me at college. I slept on people's couches in New York for a summer. Maybe you had over-protective, busy-body parents who were all up in your grills, but mine let me figure out things for myself. As, I'm certain, many others do. I don't understand AT ALL the complaints of reviewers that the parents in this book are too relaxed about letting two eighteen year-olds go on a road trip together.

And, lastly, it's just boring to think that people would really want everything in every book to feel 100% realistic. "I have to brush my teeth." "I had a graham cracker for a snack." "I have to poo." It would be like the world's worst Twitter conversation. Realistic Fiction is just what it claims to be: FICTION (i.e. stuff that is made up) but done realistically. And in my world, my books are very realistic. The fiction part comes because I have no interest in writing memoirs. Although, if I did, I think today's title would be: Grumpy Author Needs to Stop Reading Reviews.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Talk of the County

I subscribe to a semi-trashy local newspaper. It was a tough decision because I don't like to waste money (at least on some things), and the political lean of the paper made me uncertain. Not that I know its political lean, but they have a page every day called "Talk of the County" where people literally just call in and leave a rambling voice message about what they are thinking. Mostly, it's ignorant morons spewing hatred against the government and red light cameras. At one point, I was so fed up with the garbage that I called and cancelled my subscription. I also called the Talk of the County line and told them to stop publishing such crap. However, I was coerced into getting the paper again because a) I like to know about local happenings, b) I like the police blotter, c) they send out coupons on Saturdays, and d) I like this puzzle they have called "Wonderword." Plus, I missed all of the ads for The Shanty. I try to avoid reading Talk of the County when I can, although it silently calls to me. I am grateful for that, otherwise I would have missed this:
Hairy Men [They title each comment. All comments are anonymous.]
To the person who commented about all the football players having hair like women. What do you care what their hair looks like? If you don't like long hair, just be sure to keep yours cut. Captain America and Spiderman didn't have long hair, but He-Man did.

Holy buns, that's hilarious. I have laughed every single time I've read it. That's the entire comment. It ends on a He-Man note! Classic. It makes me wonder if the people who work at the paper are trying to find the most ridiculous, often ignorant, comments just to amuse people like me. They have the power.
 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In the Dark

Don't you love when you find a song on your iPod that you didn't even know existed? I check out Cds from the library and put them on my iPod, and then I don't listen to them. I discovered this perfect song whilst running the other day, and now I listen to it over and over while I run:

"In the Dark" by Tiesto. The song's a blend of romance and horror and The Neverending Story, no? I also found a rather dubstep remix of the Ke$ha song, "Tik Tok," the original of which I'm not really a fan. I'm dancing in my chair as I type this, by the way. I do have a question, though: is there really a guitar in "In the Dark"? Does it matter in the dark?

Anyone else discover any hidden musical gems lately? Not that this was hidden. Just, you know, skipped over when I flip really fast through my shuffle in order to find the one song I wanted to run to instead of just scrolling to the actual song. Who does that?

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Bestie, Zak Bagans

I don't consider weird to be a bad, or even exceptional, personality trait, so even when I do something that someone else may consider weird, I don't think much of it. But I did something that even I think was weird yesterday, and I'm still laughing at myself about it. It was nothing big, important, or anything that will register a blip in anyone else's world, but please indulge me. As I just indulged myself in some spice drops (complete waste of dessert time, but it was all we had in the house). My story starts on Twitter, which I only got into it in the last six months, mainly due to my Ghost Adventures fixation (all three guys tweet regularly, and it's fun to read about their shenanigans while they visit different towns while shooting their  show). I also follow, just to name a few, Ke$ha, Martha Plimpton, Neil Diamond, Queen Latifah, and Joan Rivers. For those who know nothing about Twitter, when someone tweets something you have an option of replying to their tweet, essentially like commenting on a facebook status except that it's not nearly as neat. The thing about Twitter is that you have to click on a certain tab in order to see things that people write about you [am I using that incorrectly? Should I be using which? I don't care.], and I'm guessing really famous people get a billion replies when they tweet their inanities. The lure of Twitter and the reply feature is that maybe, just maybe, one day you will reply to someone famous, and they will RT (retweet) what you said and also respond with their own cutesy response. Because that would mean that they actually, sort of, made contact with you! Kind of. I don't know how many lame-ass comments I've made to various people, none of which ever receive RTs (this doesn't include my actual friends on Twitter who RT my shiz in a polite, orderly fashion). Is this the new way stars are going to ignore my pathetic fan letters/book sendings? Read about my previous attempts here. But -ha!- No more can I grumble about how no one ever writes me back! Because last night I finally received an RT. And not from just anyone, but from my ghostly obsession himself, Zak Bagans. His original tweet was:
When these flight attendants give us the hot steamy towels why do these dudes take a bath with it? Jus wipe the hands off and chill bro
Hee hee. He said, "bro." Anyway, I decided it was time for another sad attempt at a reply from him, so I said:
I once witnessed a man wipe his armpits with the hot steamy towels.

Ha! Thing is? I never saw a man do that. Why did I even type that? I can't stop laughing as I am typing up this blog. It's so ridiculous, to lie on a tweet reply. But it totally paid off because I received my first RT ever back from Zak:
Did the flight attendant use the tongs to get towel?
Mission accomplished! Even if I had to make up a story to get there! I am still a bit baffled by the exchange. Why did I make up such an inane story? Why is that the one tweet Zak replied to? Why did the story continue on in my brain as some lurid tale of a man who also stuck the steamy towel down his pants? Don't worry; I didn't say anything of the sort to Zak. I wrote this weak reply:
I think the guy stuffed it in the back of the seat in front of him. 
Um, why did I even write that? Understand this all happened in a matter of minutes. Albeit a hilarious, action-packed, lie-fueled matter of minutes. Funny thing is, I thought that when I finally received an RT from Zak, I'd feel all satisfied and like I got what I came for. But nooooooo, now I feel like he's my bud, and I continue posting dorky replies to his tweets. So is the life of a stay-at-home mom who is avoiding very much writing her fifth novel. Even though I think about it all the time.


Something about this post is reminding me of Roger Ebert's fixation with the New Yorker's cartoon caption contest. I love him! I have been reading up lots on him lately and do so enjoy all incarnations of his movie review shows. I, too, entered a New Yorker caption contest once! Those fools didn't even put mine in the finals. Here's the pic:
My caption: Send in the clowns.

That is still totally hilarious! And what did they choose?
My wife will be here any moment. She's loading herself into the cannon as we speak. 
Are you fucking kidding me? What is wrong with those people over at the New Yorker? How could they NOT have picked mine? It was GENIUS. Sigh. Maybe I should ask my friend, Zak, and see what he has to say about it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Weighty Issue

I thought of this post in the middle of the night after I woke up at 3 a.m. to pee and somehow couldn't fall back asleep even though I took a sleeping pill at bedtime (was that a mega run-on sentence?). Thanks to the unfortunateness of late (ug, and there is more stuff that has to be sought out from my innards in the coming weeks. I love my body!), I gained five pounds. That really isn't a ton of weight, but for someone who a) has weighed the same for the last two years and, therefore, has clothes that finally fit her again due to recent shopping and pants sizing, and b) is not all that big to begin with, so five pounds makes a difference, and c) had weight issues, particularly in high school (for all y'all who read GET WELL SOON, you probably know that already), gaining weight sucks. Not to mention the unrealistic, blahblahblah boring skinny models/actresses/expectations the media puts upon us (which I am blahblahblahing because I think I am mostly over that. Because I have no interest in being an actress nor being grossly skinny. Those bitches would be snapped like twigs in a zombie attack, while I could use my actual muscles to fight and get away. It always comes back to zombies). I don't think I am going to lose all of the weight, since I'm not really changing my eating habits and I'm exercising as much as I was before the debacle. Only time will tell. But it made me think about when I did lose weight, from when I was my heaviest in high school, and how I did it. And now, dear readers, I am going to share my sensible, easy-to-use, realistic weight loss tips for you! In case you want them. This is how I did it, anyway. I'm not a doctor (thank jebus), but nothing I'm telling you is unhealthy. That was my disclaimer.
  1. Stop eating red meat. First, because cows are awesome, and second, because it's a good way to lighten up your meals fat-wise, as well as a handy way to stop yourself from eating evil fast food.
  2. Leave one bite of each item you eat on your plate. Just one. That way, your brain learns that it has a little control, and you feel all good about yourself for stopping before your plate is clean!
  3. Eat dessert. My current "diet" is to not eat desserts during the week and then eat a decent amount of desserts during the weekend (preferably without guilt). This works in a few ways: it gives you a confidence boost if you make it through a week without eating desserts, it makes desserts taste way better when you don't eat them for a few days, and you get to plan what desserts you want to eat which makes weekends double great!
  4. You totally don't want to hear this, but you have to exercise to lose weight. Garbage in, garbage out, you know? (Did anyone else perform "The Geigo Effect" in elementary school? Because, that's what I was referencing. There is nothing on the internet about it ANYWHERE. Children of the 80s, where are you?) I started my workout journey with a classic Jane Fonda vid. You can read my blog post about it here. I don't know how to encourage people to exercise. I don't think exercising itself sucks, but it is time consuming, messy, you have to change your clothes, and if you do it in a gym other people might watch you. My current workout regime? Running/walking on the treadmill in my basement while I watch "Ghost Adventures" but listen to music (in the style of Ke$ha). Sometimes I imagine I'm at a dance party with the Ghost Adventures guys. Shut up. ANYTHING to get you through the workout! That's the attitude you must adopt.
  5. Don't reward your awesome weightloss or exercising with food. Instead, buy some shoes. Because the shittiest thing about trying to lose weight is that it doesn't happen right away. Like, it should melt off when you exercise and all that sweat comes out, right? And you do all those sit-ups and you feel it in your abs, right? But then you stand up, and your stomach still feels all mushy. That's the worst. And why shoes are the best choice! They are fun to buy, come in a variety of shapes and colors, and will always fit you no matter how jiggly you still may be!
I think that's all I want to say about weight loss. This is only if you want to lose weight. Not if you love yourself and whatever shape you are in. We don't all need to be the same shape and size. Just like shoes! Now go jogging. And then buy some shoes. Pick some up for me while you're at it.

PS Check out my running shoes. I love them so much, sometimes I want to run just so I can put them on. Although, that doesn't happen very often.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Newbie

I started writing a new book today. It's a tiny piece of a book. I don't even know if I can call it a start, since I usually write 10-15 pages at a time, and this is a measly four. It's not YA, although a teen could read it. And it's not fiction (I believe the term is "non-fiction"). I feel like it's a bit hearkening back to my zine-writing roots. I have a lot of possible content, a story and arc, but the question is: do I have the drive to write another book? I am still dealing with some serious depression after the D&C. Questioning whether or not to go on meds. Taking sleeping pills to turn my head off at night. Trying and failing to be a good mom when my daughter throws a tantrum (which is more frequent when I am in mess mode). Four pages is peanuts. Tiny, wee, microscopic peanuts. Will they grow into long, fulfilling, coherent peanuts? Or will they stay encapsulated in their mini peanut shells? Only time will tell. Why do I suddenly feel like going to the circus?

[Trick question. I ALWAYS feel like going to the circus.]

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Celebrity Life

With all of the shit going down lately, I am making an effort to remember all of the things I like about me. Because I think I seriously hurt myself (on purpose) the other day, and that's got to stop. Think of the children! Or, at least, my child. Anywho, somehow I started looking through all of the videos and pictures I've posted of me meeting famous people. This stemmed from a cute blog post I read about a girl (woman? I'm still confused where I stand in that arena) who loves Ghost Adventures, but would not have sex with Zak Bagans if she met him (the post isn't as lurid as I made it sound. Ha! I used the word lurid). Bagans, the actual man (dude? Why is being in our thirties so complicated?), retweeted the article, which means he read it, which also got me thinking about how I feel about him. Lord, this sounds stupid. But I've been thinking a lot lately about my obsessive fan past, mainly as a teenager, and revisiting the idea of how to insert that into a novel. I was VERY obsessed with many different people and bands in my teen life (hell, it started back in fourth grade with Noah Hathaway), so obsessed that I remember my freshman year of high school having a "peer counseling" group (TOTAL bullshit). I asked one of the "peer counselors" if it was healthy to be obsessed with people on TV (what kind of a dorky freshman would ask a senior that question? Yeah), and the guy shrugged and was all, "I don't know." Peer counselor my ass! What I know now, of course, is that it is fantastico to be obsessed with people you will never meet because then they can't disappoint you!

Wait, is that healthy?

So here I am as an adult, sort of still an obsessive fan-type person (we all know my feelings for Rupert Grint, right? Like, how many more books can he get mentioned in, Julie? Um, as many as it takes for him to acknowledge me, thank you very much), but what does it mean to be obsessive as a married mother of one? Does it mean I think Rupert Grint will fall in love with me when he meets me, and I will leave my family and start a new one with Rupe? That sounds so hilarious as I type it. What if I were famous, and this blog post was quoted somewhere out of context. Oy. The answer, obviously, is NO, I do not think or want that. So why be obsessive? It's almost as though I'm writing new books in my head when I'm obsessing, but instead of fictional characters, I am the main character, along with random famous people I pretend to actually know. It motivates me to do different things. For instance, I might buy a nice lipstick with the thought, "I wonder what ____ would think of this." Not in a serious way, but in a happy, silly way. Also, Zak Bagans and his in-shape-ness motivate me to exercise. I don't know why a big muscular dude motivates little me to exercise, but I like the idea of being in shape, so whatever it takes, right?

But what happens when obsession and reality collide? I have had numerous opportunities to meet members of the Buffy cast (at various Cons), but I have no interest. I only want them to be their characters. Maybe that is one thing I love about Rupert Grint so much: he essentially has proven and admitted that he is Ron Weasley. I think meeting an obsession works best when I am long over the obsessive period and can reflect on the happy memory. Shall we relive the Atreyu-meeting moment? Lord knows I have.

Thank you for making my dream come true, @IamNoahHathaway!!! on Twitpic

Perfection. That is how all obsessive fan-meetings should end. Or what about this meeting with Ian Ziering, where he asked me  to dance with him:

See? I am normally a star charmer! That's why it was so weird when I was at Scarefest and actually met Zak Bagans. I pretty much said nothing to him. Even though I watch his show(s) every time I run on the treadmill, every Friday night (and sometimes Saturday, too) and practically planned my trip to Scarefest for the sole purpose of meeting him, I didn't get anything out of meeting him. Perhaps it was nerves. Or maybe it was that I was reeling from the prospect of having a D&C two days later, and I was still dealing with evening sickness because pregnancy hormones hang around even when the baby doesn't. I wasn't charming, I wasn't energetic, and I had no game plan. This is pretty much all I got out of the meeting:


Not bad, but you can't really sense the Atreyu glow from either of us. So was it him, or was it me? Should I be disappointed or be grateful that I at least didn't make a fool out of myself and he seemed like a relatively nice guy (one who didn't look directly at me or remember that he just signed my book when I asked if I could take a picture, but nice enough)? I don't blame Zak. In his book (the one I'm holding) he wrote about his social phobias (which, I think, are maybe long gone), so I'm going to pretend that was it. Or maybe I repelled him with my creepy aura of dead baby. He does have those ghost senses. Whatever. I think I have learned a lesson to stick with celebrities who I liked back in the day, as well as those not in their fame prime. That way, they appreciate my enthusiasm. When I have it. I foresee a horror convention, twenty years from now, when I meet a still buff but wrinklier Bagans, and I charm the pants off of him. Or, at least the shirt. Because that would make a great picture.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thank Yous

Wow. I am overcome with the kindness and love from you guys. That is one thing that has come out of this: really seeing that there are great people in the world who care about others. So, I am going to pretend I just won an award (which, apparently, involved throwing up all night last night) and thank some people.

First, I must thank my husband who was so mellow and loving and has been taking care of me throughout this whole thing. We brought his laptop to the hospital, and during all of the waiting we watched a rented DVD of "Bridesmaids." So, I also must thank the amazing women of that movie for keeping me distracted and laughing out loud when I could have been panicking.

I need to thank my mom for picking up my slack and sickness in the mom department for Romy. She is downstairs as we speak, probably trying on one of Romy's 700 costumes (this kid gets a new costume every single day, I swear. Hilarious side note: when shown this crazy expensive costume catalog that came in the mail, Romy chose the one she liked best. Mind you, the catalog was filled with fancy princesses and butterflies and all sorts of pretty costumes. Romy selected this one:

Makes me laugh every time.)

I also want to thank my friends who talked me through this, those who have had the same experience and those who just made me feel better.

This next thank you is one that was so pleasantly surprising, I tear up when I think about it. At the hospital yesterday, every single person was nice to me, particularly the nurse who had to put in the IV. That has never happened! (Although, the anesthesiologist was SO WEIRD and definitely inappropriate in a socially awkward way. After he asked why I was there, which is what they have to do, he then started complaining about his knee. Dude, I just told you I'm having a dead baby taken out of me. Then, he asked what movie we were watching, and when I told him "Bridesmaids," he was all, "Um, okay." As though I was supposed to be watching a sad, dead baby movie or something.)

And finally, I need to thank my friend, Tracy, who escorted me to Scarefest and kept my mind off of things, let me nap when I wanted to, ate when I wanted to, and allowed me to watch one and a half "Fast and Furious" movies.

Hopefully my blogging will resume with some normalcy, in both regularity and content. Thanks again for your kindness!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm a Mom, I'm an Author, and I'm Pissed

I've been writing this post in my head every night for a while now. It started out as very bitter, turned angry as hell, and now it's a combination of the two, with an added dash of relief and perspective.

So why did I stop blogging? For all two of you who noticed or asked? The first answer was that I was pregnant. Pregnant and nauseous and tired and trying to be a good mom to my daughter while I could barely keep my food in my stomach. That's the long-term answer.

But there's more. I also stopped blogging because I wasn't enjoying what I was finding on the interweb. Particularly having to do with YA literature, and most specifically my YA literature. As an author, I once found it fun to do a google search of my name and read reviews. However, there has been a rash of, how shall I say it, dumb as fuck, poorly written, useless reviews that I am forced to look at if I also want to happen across the good ones. I will not give you specific examples of actual reviews or reviewers because I have no interest in revisiting crap or wasting what little time I have on their negative bullshit, but I will rehash a few of the choice suggestions of these reviews. The first is the delightful notion that some reviewers have that they could write my books better than I could. I would have written the ending this way... Oh yeah? Fuck you. You would not. Because YOU ARE NOT ME. I write in my voice, my style, with my chosen words. You would never have written the book I wrote, so how do you suppose you have any right to write the ending the way you want to write it? Secondly, I love the all-encompassing I liked the book until [blah blah blah], but then you included a TERRIBLE MESSAGE FOR TEENAGERS so now your book sucks. Oh, because it's my job to write advice books for every single teenager who reads my novels? Because teenagers are so stupid that they can't possibly recognize characters, as, oh, I don't know, human beings with flaws? Also, as an author, it is riveting to sit around for months at a time writing books containing the smartest people in the world doing all the perfect things that real people do. I apologize that I screwed that bit up. Lastly, to reviewers who haphazardly write unhelpful (to writers and readers)shit about books, anyone's books, I have this to say: Go write your own fucking book. I'll wait. Don't worry. I'm sure all of your reviews will be glowing. It's a shame that I have no desire to read reviews of my books anymore because there are many thoughtful, well-written reviews, even ones with (constructive) criticism, by smart, creative, intelligent reviewers. Maybe I won't care so much at some point in the future, but unfortunately, all of my previous caring has made me stop caring at all.

Now for the final reason I haven't blogged: my pregnancy, at around nine weeks, ended. Well, it didn't quite end, but the baby stopped living. In fact, I just got back from my D&C at the hospital, and boy is my uterus tired! All is fine, or at least as fine as it can be when I count up the number of babies I've lost (three, if you're wondering). I am not bitter about that due to the fact that I have the most wonderful human being on Earth (and beyond) as my daughter, but it certainly does wear on a person. Not to mention I had to have, you know, surgery and all. Because the surgery went so well, and it is over, I don't have quite the rant that ran through my head night after night. I do, however, have a collection of ironies I must share. The first ironic bit: this past weekend, as a magical respite from my terrified brain, I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to attend Scarefest with my best friend from high school, Tracy (of Get Well Soon fame). It struck me as a little humorous that here were all of these people dressed as the living dead, and here I was with, well, a dead baby inside of me (cue the hilarious cymbal smash). The second bit of irony: My insurance does not cover maternity, but I applied for and received an Illinois government program to help with the birth costs. The card arrived after the baby was no longer alive, and for some reason the card was on my kitchen floor. My daughter, who had her first bout of stomach flu yesterday, projectile vomited (in a delightful spray of orange) all over that insurance card. Which was perfectly fine, since I won't be needing it anymore anyway. The final bit of irony, and, really, the scariest and funniest of them all, is this man dressed up at the Scarefest (standing next to Freddy Krueger):

Yes, I was terrorized by a giant baby all weekend. Oh, God, you are so fucking funny.

Maybe this post was too random. Maybe it was too brutally honest. But it's been a while since I've blogged. Perhaps I'm just a little rusty.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Neverending Celebration

It's time to celebrate! I am on the final step of the GIGANTIC revision of the Get Well Soon sequel (which, may or may not, finally have a title)! All I have to do is type up the little changes I made (okay, there is one scene that I left open and need to write when I get to it. Damn me!), and then I send it out to my editor. I will be free! For a little while, anyway. So, in honor of this joyous occasion, here are some more pictures from the Chicago Comic-Con. Thanks to Harrison for taking these and posting them!

I wonder what I was saying here. See how he humored me?

I'm so charming! Look at him laugh!

My nose looks weird in this picture. I couldn't resist. I am a huge Planet of the Apes fan! I think I made the wrong expression. Wish I could go back and do it over.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Get Well Soon Sequel Help!

Dear Readers,

Home stretch here on sequel work, and I'm looking for a few fave moments from the original Get Well Soon, especially between Justin and Anna. Doesn't have to be anything major, but I would love to reference two or three actual events from the book (and I am too lazy and time-crunched to re-read it AGAIN). If you have any scenes that you consider favorites, please shoot me a quick email (and if you have the page numbers, even better): julie@juliehalpern.com.

Thanks for your help!
Julie

PS I don't know why I wrote this in the form of a letter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fall Fashion

I know what I'll be wearing this fall!

Now, how to choose between Oatmeal and Taupe...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Scary Quickie

Just a quickie morning hello before I get the babe out of bed to report I am more than halfway through reading my revision. That means, once I finish this step, all I have to do is type in the small changes and it's off to the editor! Do I hear a huzzah?

I also have to report that I will not be appearing at this year's Anderson's Young Adult Literature Conference as previously planned. I hope the folks at Anderson's don't hate me (and they might, since I haven't heard back from anyone after I sent them a sincere apology email). You see, that weekend I will be attending Scarefest in Lexington, Kentucky. I am going with Tracy, the friend in both Get Well Soon and the sequel, to bring back my love for horror films that was so prevalent in my teens and twenties life. The main character in my next book, which I started then stopped to work on the Get Well Soon sequel, is a horror movie connoisseur as I once was, and I am looking to the Scarefest to bring back a lot of those warm, gory feelings I had about horror when I was younger. Should be interesting! I'm just sorry I had to choose which event to attend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What I'm Watching: Summer 2011 Edition

I don't know why I'm having so much trouble thinking of things to blog about. I would think the world would have commented at the top of its lungs about Atreyu, but, no, one comment. So what are people looking for or expecting from me? Is it just that I don't have blog readers who like to comment? Ah, sweet mystery of blog.

It's been a while since I typed a What I'm Watching post, so here's a list of what's currently rolling around on my DVR:

1. Ice Loves Coco - This one officially ended last week, but I promised a shout out to this surprisingly sweet show. I have always had a place in my heart for Ice T (the man was in Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo),

but Coco has fascinated me since I saw a picture of her butt. Who knew there was more to her than that? She is so cute and funny, and Ice really does love her. Can you believe they've been married ten years? Right on!

2. True Blood - I know people are mixed about this season, but any season that has less Bill and more Eric is fine by me. Poor Tommy. I'm not loving Lafayette's hair, and I am very confused by the scary baby doll story line. Tara looks awesome, no? I'm enjoying it.

3. State of Georgia - I adore Raven-Symone. I think she's a comic genius with brilliant timing and execution. The show is still a little confused about what it wants to be, but I'll keep watching. Last episode of the summer season is on tonight. And now, please enjoy my favorite scene ever from That's So Raven (skip to 57 seconds for the best part):

The skeleton dance is masterful.

4. Paranormal Challenge - This doesn't compare at all to Ghost Adventures. I'm feeling a little like Zak's head is getting far too big for his already huge body, and this show isn't helping. Looking forward to fall when new Ghost Adventures episodes are back.

5. Project Runway - I'm not overly committed to this anymore, but I'm watching. There's sort of a bare spot on the DVR lately, so I'm filling it with mediocre, relaxing fare. Heidi Klum looks grossly skinny this season, so I'm enjoying that. Tim Gunn is totally phoning it in.

6. Whisker Wars - Okay, I haven't watched this yet, but it's ready to go on the DVR. Maybe tonight, if I can force myself to stay awake past 9:30.

7. Tia and Tamera - I just started with this one, and it's a little annoying - Tia (or is it Tamera) is such a snot to her sister. Still, I do love a set of twins from the 80s. This is one Matt's making me watch alone.

I stopped watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, even though the new season just started. Larry David has always disturbed me, but now that he is a swinging single on the show and somehow dates beautiful, young girls every week, I'm done. He is so lecherous, and I know he's trying to gross me out with those sex scenes, but that doesn't mean I have to watch them.

I'm not sure if I forgot anything. My DVR is only on my bedroom cable, and I'm on the couch right now.I am very impressed with how I stretch my viewing across a variety of cable channels. Comcast should reward me somehow for that.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Day I Met Atreyu

This past weekend (last weekend? Why do I always struggle with that?), the whole family went to the Chicago Comic Con (or Wizard World. I don't know which is the official title). Matt and I have been going to this con for about ten years. What's sad is that when we first started going, there were tons of comics vendors. Now, there were very few. Matt says this may not only be an indication of the way things are headed for comics; he read somewhere a while back that the company that books this convention pissed off a lot of comics vendors, thus making the number dwindle. All of a sudden, the Chicago Con is looking a lot like a mini San Diego Con: fewer comics, tons of celebrity guests. A lot of them were rather high caliber (Patrick Stewart was there-- charging $100 for a picture! Wha???). Still sad for the comics buyers, but it did make for a crazy fun weekend.

The first day, Friday, Matt's mom, brother, and sister-in-law flew into town. I really, really needed to get to the Comic Con, even though we had the plan of the entire family attending on Saturday. But, you see, I needed to go NOW (then. You know what I mean). The urgency came for two reasons: 1) I feared if I didn't go on Friday, somehow I would miss the two people I really wanted to see (Noah Hathaway, AKA Atreyu from "The Neverending Story" [Do I have to keep writing that? I feel like I've been blogging about this forever at this point] and Aaron Goodwin from "Ghost Adventures"), and 2) I felt weird having these crazy star sightings with my il-laws. I love them, but maybe they don't need to see me in all my wacked-out, fangirl glory. Luckily, one of my favorite students of yore, Harrison, agreed to meet up with me at the Con, so I had a partner in crime to film my exploits. [Side note: it was so much fun hanging out with Harrison! Other side note: I have never sworn so much in front of a student. But that's what happens when I'm nervous about meeting famous people!]

The second I met up with Harrison and we walked into the convention hall, I could see Noah Hathway's table. I wasn't ready! So I paced around for a few minutes before I got up my nerve. And then, this happened:


[For those folks who don't know what we're talking about: in the movie, Atreyu tells someone, "I'd be happy to go back hunting the purple buffalo." Because he was a kick ass child hunter.] You cannot possibly know how many times I've watched this. Could it BE more perfect??? He was so sweet, so huggy (the fourth grade girl inside me was like, OMG!!!), and totally game for my ridiculous request. And don't we both seem so happy? I'm floored by my interaction with Noah. Yowza. Seriously, one of the pinnacles of my starstruck life. Certainly, the one I've waited for the longest. And then he signed a picture and wrote this:
How much do we all love Noah Hathaway now?

Next up was Aaron Goodwin. He was not at his own booth but the booth of an artist who is painting pictures of his nightmares (intriguing, no?). There were only a few people in line to meet him, and when he saw me wearing one of his Big Steppin' shirts, he gave me a friendly acknowledgement. When it was my turn to talk to him, I was so happy he was as awesome as I expected him to be. I have two blurry pictures with him because I like to turn my flash off for more natural lighting, but that was a mistake. Harrison has more pictures of the day, so hopefully I'll get those from him to share.


I'm sorry, but could I look any cuter? You can really tell when I'm having a genuinely happy time. On the flip side, you can also tell when I am annoyed, pissed off, bored, sad, etc. My face is an open book! I don't know why I put an exclamation point on that. I guess because it sounded funny, seeing as I'm an author.

The following Con day, Matt's family, my daughter, and my sister joined the Comic Con adventure. I actually introduced Matt and Romy to Aaron, and added my sister when revisiting Noah. We were all old friends by the end. In addition to dancing with the stars, we saw a couple panels, one with the original kids from Willy Wonka, and bought a whole lotta crap. Good crap, of course. Like a Beetlejuice doll for Romy to play with, complete with shrunken head underneath his real one!

I can't wait until next year's Con, although I don't see how it could possibly top this year's!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Counting Down to the Purple Buffalo

5:30 am. That is the time I woke up today because my brain will not shut up in its harassment about needing to work on my book. So I awoke, turned on the computer and began typing. And you know what? I actually accomplished what I wanted: I finished typing in all of the changes I made to the original manuscript before my in-laws arrived for the weekend. Now, all I have left is to type twenty-eight new pages (not as bad as I thought!), print this sucka out, and reread the whole thing to make sure the changes are good, make sense, and didn't screw up the awesomeess that was the previous draft.

In celebration, I am going to the Chicago Comic con twice this weekend! Once today with a couple of my old students, and once tomorrow with my family: mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, daughter and husband. I couldn't possibly meet Noah Hathaway (Atreyu) with the entire family in tow. Mortifying, for sure. At least the students I'm going with have seen me both play Dungeons and Dragons AND do karaoke. Yes, that was the kind of library I ran.

Hopefully, I will have hysterical video footage of my Atreyu encounter. If I don't, then something is truly wrong with this world.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I See the Light

It's almost over. Not really. I still have SO MUCH WORK to do on the sequel. It is truly plaguing me now. I have never been this stressed about a book, and I can say that with certainty. Yesterday, I found a place where my notes told me to move some text to the WRONG spot. I knew that was going to happen. I just wish I could get to the part where I can print the pages and start to read through everything I changed and added. I'm hoping then I can breathe a sigh of relief and see that it's not so bad. Unless it is so bad. Holy hell, this sucks. Strangely, I slept for six straight hours last night. Unheard of. I guess I needed it.

This weekend will be an enjoyable respite, as my in-laws are coming to town and it's finally time for the Chicago Comic-Con. We all know what that means: Julie meets Atreyu! It will be a monumental (momentous?) occasion for all involved. All, being two of my old students (who I now consider friends), me, and, of course, Atreyu. I hope he isn't afraid of me. But Atreyu is afraid of nothing. Or, actually, he wasn't afraid of The Nothing. Ha! This is a horrible blog post. Forgive me. My brain should return sometime in the next few months.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

What's Done

This morning, I finally finished rewriting the draft of the Get Well Soon sequel (possible title: Have a Nice Day. Which I sort of hate.). I have no feeling of relief, though! I think it stems from knowing how much I now have to type up, and how it is still a work in progress. After everything is typed-- all of the additional pages I've written in the last month (over 100) and all of the changes I've made to the existing pages-- I have to reread it at least one more time before I send it back to my editor. Then she has to read it and send it back to me again. All of this has to be done by October 1, which is crazy scary. That's when the copy editor gets it, and if I keep making big changes after the copy editor see it, who knows what the book may look like? Also, I hate to make significant changes after the book has been printed as a galley because reviews are important, and yet the most important version is the final version.

Blah! This is boring! I hope this does not at all reflect on the book. Oy.

On to more important things: I don't know which day to go to the Chicago Comic-Con! I'm frustrated because Matt's family is coming in this weekend, and although I think they would enjoy going to the Con maybe even more than one day (like I would), Matt is all fuddy duddy about the whole thing. I now want to go Friday instead of Saturday, since that is when Aaron Goodwin of Ghost Adventures will be there all day. He will only be at his booth on Saturday from 12-2, which means that there will be more people in that concentrated amount of time. However, none of this will matter if I get the go-ahead about my trip to The Scarefest, another convention where Aaron will be. This is all probably not making sense, since I woke up before the buttcrack of dawn, have already written too much this morning, and am slightly delusional. My point is that I want to meet Aaron, but I don't want to wait in a big long line to do so. The only person at the Con who I shall wait in a long line for is Noah Hathaway (Atreyu from the NeverEnding Story). He better be there, or heads will roll. At least mine will.

Is it too early to swim in a vat of ice cream?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Absent

So sorry for the absence. I am in full on defcon 80 panic mode on The Sequel. This morning, I wrote a chapter. But I still have several chapter to go, and then I have to type them all up. I want to get this to my editor ASAP, since she said it has to go to copyediting in October. I want a BIG read through still after this round. I have written over 70 pages of new material(!!!), which brings my notebook count to 8 for this book. I am also worried that adding so much after what I already wrote will ruin the flow of the book, take away the tension I had already built. Ug! There are so many things I'm worried about. So that's why I haven't' been blogging. All of my work time is going towards this book. I'll be around, but my posts will probably look like this one. Although I did start writing one about Ice Loves Coco-- finale tonight! Hope you'll stick around!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Processing

Here's a look into my revision process (for this book anyway. It may differ with each book. I don't know. It's been a while since the last revision). To recap from earlier posts, my process is this:
1. Write a book. I do this by handwriting into a series of notebooks. Click here to see my tools. I always write straight through. Never look back! I do not outline, although I often keep a list of characters and a calendar-esque list to help me remember what has happened where and when something else should happen.
2. Type all that stuff up. The suckiest part of the process. I also revise as I type it into my computer.
3. Print the manuscript, read it, revise it on paper, type up the new changes.
4. Send it to my editor.
5. Wait.
6. Lose my shit.
7. Get back manuscript from editor. Hopefully find my shit.
This is where the Get Well Soon sequel is already different from my first three novels. This time around, my editor didn't send me a marked-up copy of my manuscript. Normally, it comes back with all sorts of scribblies. This time, all she sent was a two page letter with thoughts on what to add, move, or change. She said she only had a few mark-ups in my manuscript that we can tackle in the next round of edits. Because I'm that awesome. Or something.
8. Print up last version of manuscript and read through, all the while changing little things, adding things, moving things, and straightening things out. Let's take a looksee:

A perfect page, with nothing changed:

A simple page, with only a tiny edit:

A page that requires me to turn it over, so I can type in the new words I wrote on the back:

A page requiring so much new/changed stuff that I have to go to my handy dandy notebook to write it:
Yes, I spelled separate wrong. That's what happens when I'm writing really quickly. And other times. Sometimes I write notes telling me where to move stuff. This is when my brain feels like it might explode. What if I can't figure out my notes later? What if I misplace my pages or forget to include something?

My floor after I start typing in my changes. It's very satisfying to throw the pages when I complete the edit:
I may have mentioned that my editor wants a new ending to my book. It's not that she didn't like the ending, but the character said something big was coming up after the end of the book and Liz, my editor, said I MUST include that scene. Because of that, I not only have to write that specific scene but everything chronologically leading up to it. I am figuring about fifty more pages. This morning, I actually managed to write the first new scene, plus a list of all of the scenes I will need to get to the end. I feel a little more sturdy about the whole thing. But I still have to do it. In a relatively short amount of time. Pressure's on.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Revision

I don't normally fret about a revision as much as I am fretting about the Get Well Soon sequel. Okay, that's a crock of shit, but this one's been particularly hard. Technically, the difficulties have come from a lot of page shifting and trying to expand one plot line, which then made it move all over the book in a variety of tweaked ways. Did that make sense? But guess what-- I finished going through my draft that was returned to me by my editor! That should be a huzzah, right? Normally, yes. All I'd have to do now is type up my changes, reread it, and send it back. But this time around my editor would like me to attach something on at the ending. I don't want to give anything away, but what I now need to add could potentially mean writing another 50 pages. Or 10 pages. I have no idea. What's complicated about it is that I am a writer who writes straight through, from beginning to end. I already did that. Now, I have to write another end, and the momentum of writing from beginning to end that I had eight months ago is definitely lacking. I don't doubt I can do it, but I am certainly putting it off, eating my cuticles, and generally freaking out about everything else going on in my life as a result of this piece not being completed. My  mom is coming over this afternoon to babysit, so I can work. But she came over yesterday, too, and what did I do? Exercised, went to Target, had a giant Oreo sundae at Dairy Dream, and then went to the grocery store. Did you see any writing going on in that list? Me neither. Can I do it today? Only time will tell. I better get to it soon, or I may be out of cuticles.