Saturday, February 26, 2011


I have lost my blogging mojo, so my plan is to get some sleep and stop eating desserts.  Ha!  Whatever.

Here are some things I've been wasting my time with on the interweb:

Back to the Future: I love this.  A photographer in Buenos Aires has a project where he recreates old pictures of people.  Like, exactly.  With those people as adults.  The school where I worked does this, as well, but this guy has truly got it down.

Love Carla from Top Chef?  As do I.  IVillage has a bunch of pictures up from her modeling days!  I always wondered what she looked like as a model.  That is to say, not wearing glasses.  I guess.  What makes a person look like a model, besides the obvious height and lack of weight?  Love Carla all the same.

The New York Times now has children's book reviews online, which will be more meaningful if they review one of my husband's upcoming books.  Seriously, this man has talent.  Check out his upcoming book with Lauren Thompson, Leap Back Home to Me.  It makes me choke up every time I read it to Romy.  You'll be hearing more about it when it's closer to release date, April 26.

In my laziness, I have not been keeping track of all of the wonderful (ie. inane) things I wanted to share from the internet, so I shall stop my list at three.  Today's goal is to use a Red Box for the first time and rent Winter's Bone.  Then I'll have most of the Oscar movies down before tomorrow night.  Monday, I'm speaking at a high school for their Writer's Week.  Hopefully I'll be out of my uninspired mood by that time.  I don't think the kids will want to hear all about how many Goldfish crackers I've eaten in the past week.  Or will they?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Election Day

I'm not talking about the Chicago mayoral race (although, I'm definitely interested in seeing what Rahm does for our city), I'm talking about the Chicago Tribune Comics Carousel.  I wrote about this a while back, when Broom-Hilda first came up for cutting.  It seems wrong to make a comic that has been in the paper for over thirty years compete to keep its spot.  The funnies are already tragic, seeing as they have turned into one folded sheet of paper.  I remember when they were two whole folded sheets!  I've been reading the Trib's funnies since I was a kid, and it would be sad to see Broom-Hilda go.  So here's the deal, help a witch out and vote:
The details say to vote by phone (312-283-7360) or online
I have nothing against Free Range, but I can't get behind it when Hildy is on the line.  You can be sure that if she goes, I will be writing the newspaper a nasty letter.  Read about Russell Myers, the artists behind Broom-Hilda, and how he has created a stockpile of comics in case something happens to him.  That's dedication!  Join me, won't you?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Last night we watched the documentary Lucky, made by the same brilliant peeps who made Spellbound.  Lucky is all about playing and winning the lottery.  It was crazy fascinating how each of the multi-million dollar winners spent their money and changed their lives.  And not necessarily in a good way.  Actually, almost all of them went downhill, except for one or two of them.  Interesting little lottery factoids were sprinkled throughout, and I really enjoyed it.  I think the point of the film, or at least what I got out of it, is that money, indeed, cannot buy you happiness and, in fact, may royally screw you up.  Be happy with what you have.  Another lesson learned was that I essentially have won the lottery.  I mean, not in the financial sense, because I have no idea, now that I quit my job, how long we can live the way we live without having to either a) change our "lifestyle" (which, totally, isn't a lifestyle, but more of just having things we have grown accustomed to) or b) me having to go back and get a job.  But otherwise, I sort of am living the lottery life in a weird way.  Quitting my job, doing what I want to be doing (taking care of my daughter and writing).  So, yeah, lucky.  I'm still allowed to be grumpy sometimes, though, right?

Speaking of grumpy, I updated my website a tiny bit yesterday.  It was a major pain in my ass, and Matt and I really need to get some less archaic web software.  That would require spending money on something we don't technically need, so, see above.  I changed up the links on the bottom of each page, changed a little on the home page, and added a page for my new novel, Don't Stop Now.  Nothing revolutionary.  I'm making a more interactive page for the book, with a map and links to all of the places the characters in the book visit, along with pictures from my own road trips.  However, with the way the web design is going, that may not happen until, well, I win the lottery.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Aussie Connection

I don't know how much I've talked about my time living in Australia.  It was after I graduated from college, not quite sure what to do with my Women's Studies and Communications Arts (Radio, TV, Film) double major.  Australia popped into my psyche as a young child when I saw the cartoon Dot and the Kangaroo.  My family frequented an odd video store called The Video Joint, where you would tell the guy behind a counter the number of the movie you wanted, and he pulled a brown video box from behind him with your title.  More than once did my little brain remember the number incorrectly, and I went home with a porno by accident.  That's where I found Dot, and many other quirky, random movies (Pinocchio in Outer Space, anyone?).  Perhaps that video store led me to my film major.  Anyway, from there I always had a place in my heart for Oz, which expanded in high school when I started watching more Australian films.  The Year My Voice Broke also introduced me to one of major film crushes, Noah Taylor.  I still think he's amazing and wish he were in more films, at least those available here in the U.S.

So after college, I lived in my college town of Madison for the next seven months.  I quickly realized that staying in my college town was very similar to staying in college, and I was done with college.  So why not move to Australia?  I mean, what else did I have to do?  There's a big, long story of the visa application process and the waiting and the timing that's actually quite lovely and may someday make its way into an adult book I write, but for now I will just say that I got my working holiday visa (something they do not grant to Americans any longer, I'm told) and moved there. 

Aside: two more reasons I'm thinking about Australia a lot right now are that I just watched Animal Kingdom, for my Oscar rush, and I pulled out a bunch of my old journals to photograph for a Power Point I'm making to present at a high school next week.  One of the journals is of my time in Australia, and it's compelling stuff.  At least to me.

Long story way too short, I know that Australia and I will meet again in some major capacity.  My dream is that my books will become successful in Oz (first they'd actually have to be published there), and my family can move there for a year, traveling and promoting my books.  It's been thirteen years since I've lived in Australia, and ever so often, I feel a strong pull to go back.  I wonder what and when will take me there.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Guess What Chicken Fat

They may be predicting sixty degrees today in Chicago, but that won't last and we'll be stuck inside for at least another month.  Because of that, I feel bad that Romy isn't getting up and about as much as she should.  That's why I checked out this little beauty from the library:
I'm trying to find some pictures of the guy who leads this gruelling workout (when was the last time you did push-ups?).  He had on those lovely little shorts from the eighties with the built-in undies, which Romy and I saw up close and personal during the sit-ups segment. 
I took this off my TV.  Awesome.
Then there's the weird song that goes along with the program:
"Go you chicken fat go!"

Something about this video made me really sad.  I know it's a nice, healthy way to bring exercise into Romy's life without making it about weight.  It's good to move around and laugh, and it's great we do it together.  I want exercise to be something normal, but nothing that we HAVE to do or hate to do.  I'm trying my darnedest not to project the bullshit in my brain onto my sweet daughter.  But I have to say that I loathe the title of this video.  Why does it have to have the word "fat" in it?  There are several words that I don't want Romy to know yet, or at least not use.  Gun is one.  Hate is another.  Stupid another.  And fat.  I don't want her to even think that weight is something to feel bad about, to ridicule others about, or to acknowledge that it matters.  Just as I want there to be books and dolls in our house of various colors, I want there to be happy, adjusted images of people of different weights, too.

Man, being a parent is heavy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Writerly Stuff

My sleep has been so crap lately.  I took a Lunesta two nights ago, and it only gave me four hours of sleep.  What is wrong with my brain?  My sleep pattern is sleep a half hour, then I wake up.  A little maddening.  I am dreaming a lot, though, and the dreams haven't been too bad.  Last night I had one where I was wearing my wedding dress, and it was way too big on me.  Hmmmmm...

Here are some Julie Is an Author links:

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder has been nominated for a 2011-2012 South Carolina Book Award!  I find that very cool, especially because Matt and his entire fam are from S.C.  Side note: every year Matt's stepmom puts up a million blow-ups on their lawn for Christmas, and they have these Santa Clauses on motorcycles, each with an "SC" on the bike.  And every year I say to myself, "How cute that Santa has 'South Carolina' on his bike."  Then I remember it stands for Santa Claus.  Every year.

I am speaking at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans this summer about writing for reluctant readers along with, gulp, Walter Dean Myers!  (And others, of course, including Chris Grabenstein, but it is crazy to see my name next to WDM like that.)  I will also be one of the authors at the Coffee Klatch, which is chocked full of amazingness this year.  Yay for Gabrielle Zevin!  And tons more!

Author friend James Preller has a site up about fathers modeling reading, which is awesome (although, I must point out that the picture of the father on the top bar is not a good example of how to feed a baby with a bottle.  If you feed them on their backs, that is a good way to give them an ear infection.  In case you were also looking at the site for baby feeding tips).  Here is a link to Matt and a picture of him reading to a tiny Romy.  I suppose we could have taken a newer shot.  Sometimes Matt isn't as organized as all that.

On a final note, I am driving myself insane inside about the Nerd television show.  I have heard nothing in months, and that is with an email and a phone call out to the producer (not at the same time).  I feel this may not be a good sign, but I can't help but hold out hope.  I wish they would tell me something.  Do you think they'd tell me if it were bad news, or have they just forgotten I exist and moved on?  I need closure.  Or a television show.  Preferably the latter.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Arts

Yesterday was a gorgeous day in Chicagoland, nearing a balmy 45 degrees (maybe warmer.  I am guesstimating).  We took Romy to the Art Institute.  It was her second time there, but the first she will probably remember.  Here is a picture of the two of us in front of the exquisite Marc Chagall windows (they moved them from their original, perfect, Ferris Bueller romantic spot, to a place that's very random.  The only cool side of it is that you can now see the windows from outside the museum.  Although, Matt and I were both like, "Are those real?" so I don't know if the impact was felt):
Isn't it lovely?  Right after this was taken, Romy and I got in trouble for sitting on the wood in front of the windows.  But the woman felt bad for telling us to move, so then she told me how cute Romy was and to have a good time at the museum.  A most excellent day.

Now I'm trying to decide if I want to take Romy to the Tripoli Shrine Circus in Milwaukee.  We've been watching (over and over) a Mr. Rogers where he goes to the circus, so I think she'd love it (plus, she is my child.  I don't know how many of you are aware, but I am quite the circus history buff.  Mainly of the sideshow variety, but I did extensive research on the topic for years.  Not that that has anything to do with this, except my love for the circus).  I am hesitant, though, because of the treatment of animals in the circus.  I wish I could find a fun circus that doesn't use majestic animals to perform tricks.  The Big Apple Circus looks like it could fit the bill, but that is, of course, in the Big Apple.  Not the big, um, cheese?  (Milwaukee, that is.)  The other thing that is putting me off about the circus is this (from their website):

Her name?  Ring Mistress Michelle Audrey.  That sounds a little skanky for a kids' affair.  Not to mention the massive, exposed cleavage.  I'm checking in with my Milwaukee peeps to see if they have any info on the circus.  Or that woman's boobs.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


The delightful news is that I do not have pinkeye.  Just, I don't know, something annoying going on with my eyes.  And Romy did not drop her gelato on the floor, which was also a good thing.  All in all, a nice day.  Matt and I went to see "The Fighter" in the afternoon in our quest to watch all of the Oscar movies.  It is going very well.  I loved "The Fighter."  And that makes me wonder: how do voters in such things as film or book awards really objectively choose the best?  Because, if the film you watch or book you read months ago was your favorite months ago, but then you see or read another one that you liked just as much, but much closer to the voting deadline, how do you refresh that feeling of wonder and excitement over the favorite long gone?  For me, when I saw "True Grit," I was like, "Best picture!"  But now I can't remember all of the things about it that made me think that.  Because I really loved "The Fighter."  Does it even matter, since I can't vote on anything anyway?

Pause to note the inconsistencies throughout my blogging of how I emphasize film titles.  Sometimes they get quotes, sometimes italics, sometimes bold.  The freedom of the blog.

Christian Bale is insanely good.  I was in love with him as a young teen and would watch "Empire of the Sun" and bawl my eyes out on a regular basis.  I had the soundtrack.  It's amazing how Bale was obviously born with this gift of acting.  There are very few actors who wow me.  I think it's one thing to become someone else, but it's another to do that and then really act from that new person.  I don't know if that makes sense.  Blah.  I took a sleeping pill last night, and I think it's still wearing off.  I he doesn't win the Oscar, then I will seriously believe it was out of jealousy from the voters.

Our babysitter will be away for ten days, so no more movies in the theaters.  I don't know if I will go out of my way to see "Black Swan" when she gets back.  From what I've heard about it, it sounds campy.  Which I like under normal circumstances, but should it be compared to the brilliance of the other Oscar-nominated films I've seen?  And, interestingly, people are all crazytown about Natalie Portman and how she was so committed to her role, but what about Marky Mark?  He was fully committed to physically becoming a boxer.  Did you see those jumping rope scenes?  What's the diff?  Please, someone convince me why I must see "Black Swan" and that Portman deserves my attention.  Because I'm obviously getting a little too into this Oscar race this year.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Culture Day

I think I might have pinkeye.  I saw someone make a gross comment on someone else's facebook status about pinkeye and farting in their eye.  What?  If I have it, it's because Romy has had a cold for over two weeks, and I'm the one who blows her nose.  Also, she was rubbing her eyes a lot yesterday, so maybe she has it.  Ug.  Is there any other reason my eyes feel kind of sticky?  I am grossing myself out with this blog post.  That would suck if we had to go to the doctor today because today was supposed to be an exciting cultural day for me and Romy.  You see, today Romy was going to try gelato for the first time.  We have two books where people eat gelato, and instead of going to the Piazza San Marco (where Romy thinks we will be eating our gelato), there's a cute little place about fifteen minutes away from our house.  My only worry is that in one of the gelato books, "Olivia Goes to Venice," someone drops the gelato.  Romy keeps talking about how we'll drop our gelato.  Ruh roh.  No matter what happens today, it promises to be a sticky day.  Get it? 

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Oscar Race

I am enjoying this year's Oscar rush.  That is, the rush to watch all of the Oscar movies before the show. I have tried this on several occasions, and never once succeeded.  Mostly because I can't get myself to watch the depressing, heavy films that are usually nominated for Academy Awards.  This year's films are so much lighter and more pleasant to watch, that I may get through almost all of them (the one snag is that my mom is going out of town, and, therefore, we lose our trusty babysitter.  We still have at least two more movies we have to see in the theater, though!).  Here are my thoughts on the ones I've seen so far (note that these are not my Oscar predictions, just my take on the movies):
Toy Story 3 - I adored this when I saw it.  Matt and I both said it was an A+ when we walked out of the theater.  However, as much as I love and admire animated films, I don't know if one should be named Best Picture.  Because there are so many things that go into all around Best Pictures, including actors, costumes, lighting, etc.  Of course, those are things that they have to create in cartoon form, too.  What do you think?  I don't want to disrespect the genre at all, but I do feel it's almost comparing apples to oranges.
True Grit - This is my pick so far for Best Picture.  I loved the overall feel to it, the story, the acting, everything.  And Jeff Bridges totally reminded me of my father-in-law.
The Social Network - What a bunch of cocks.  Anyway, this was a very enjoyable movie to watch, if one could get past the ridiculousness of Harvard and their little societies.  How is that real life, people?  It's gross.  Gosh, the more I think about it now, the more disgusted I am with it all.  Rich, white people.  Ug.  Did you know that Natalie Portman dated some guy when she went to Harvard who was in one of these exclusive clubs, and she told the Social Network dudes all about it?  And I already was not a fan of the girl...  Anyway, I do recall liking this movie, even if it doesn't sound that way.  I think this should win for best screenplay.  Oh, and who does Jesse Eisenberg think he's kidding with his newly straightened hair?
The Kids are All Right - I expected to like this more than I did.  I think it was a little uneven.  Things were not tied up, and I don't necessarliy mean neatly, but too much was left hanging.  The character of the son was just wrong.  It didn't make sense that he played all of those sports, liked teams, and yet all he did was hang out with a freak who wants to pee on dogs.  Did anyone else feel like Annette Benning was trying really hard to sound like a lesbian?  Or is that how she speaks?  It made me think of Nicholas Cage's weird voice in Peggy Sue Got Married.
The King's Speech - A lovely movie all around.  Not much to talk about.  Colin Firth should win for Best Actor.
Exit through the Gift Shop - Up for Best Documentary.  I really thought I'd love this, but it was pretty slow.  And I wasn't into the whole, "was it real, was it fake, are we stupid?" thing.  I'd like to see more of the docs.  I have a feeling this will win to go along with the whole rich, famous people are suckers theme.
Inception - This is up for something.  I felt this movie had too much explaining going on.  It's like they made the movie really complicated, and then felt periodically that they had to explicitly lay out everything so people could understand it.  I enjoyed it, but I am not choosing it for anything.  Well, maybe best sets?  Is that a category?

Next up, I will see The Fighter.  If I have time, Black Swan.  The others I am going to try and watch on DVD.  I'm bummed I won't make it to The Illusionist, since I loved The Triplets of Belleville

All in all, this is a fun year for the Academy Awards.  My balcony is closed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Hott Stuff

Busy, busy morning of errands (library, grocery store, post office) and afternoon (an appointment, dinner with a friend, County Fair Chocolate Cake), so not much blogging time.  Except for this:

An obvious must have.  It even claims to have EVERYTHING YOU WANT IN A BRA!  But I never even made a list!  My very favorite part of this ad is the triple boob effect.  Click on the image to get the big picture.  And act now to get the SURPRISE GIFT. What could it be?!?!?

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Big One

Today I wanted to write about my yearly attempt to see all of the Oscar nominated films (and this year I will get closer than most years, thanks to the accessible nature of the films), but I have been meaning to talk about my big Decision. So here goes.  Last Friday, I officially quit my job as middle school librarian (which may confuse some, since I am taking the year off from that job.  It was a year off to be with Romy, with the job guaranteed for me next year).  It was an incredibly difficult decision to make.  Before I had a child, I assumed that I'd always work.  That even after I had Romy, I'd be heading back to work and bringing home the bacon.  But I have changed.  My priorities have changed.  My goals have changed.  Did you know I have won awards for being a librarian?  Maybe they're just grants, but the American Library Association made them feel like awards.  Either way, I was damn good librarian for ten years.  I'm not going to go into my resume and pull out all of the things I've done (wouldn't THAT be an interesting blog post?  No.), but I think I have a right to be impressed with myself.  That's one of the reasons this decision was so hard to make.  So much of my identity the last ten years has been as LIBRARIAN.  And that's a pretty cool identity.  Truthfully, I think it sounds a lot cooler to say "I'm a librarian" than "I'm an author" when people ask me what I do.  Maybe that's because I still feel more legit as a librarian than as an author.  Or maybe it's because I was so confident that I was good at it, as opposed to the constant self doubt of my authorness.

It was also very difficult to leave my current school because of how much I wanted to be there.  It's in an amazing district, and I have many friends who work there.  Did I give up my chance to comfortably retire from a great school?  That was a hard choice.  I sort of felt like I was screwing my family out of the comfort and stability of a regular, solid income for the rest of their lives.  My husband keeps telling me that's ridiculous, since I can go out and get another job if I need to.  All I can think is: really?  Aren't people having trouble finding and keeping jobs?  Especially with libraries losing funding and closing left and right?  That thought still makes me shudder.

The easy part of the decision had to do with the whole reason I left my job in the first place: Romy.  Romy Romy Romy.  I can't miss out.  I can't leave for work every day before she wakes up, and I can't get home with only an hour or two to see her at night.  That does not work for me.  As I may have said before, I don't really have any regrets, at least not big, important ones (more like stupid little ones, like not handing Joss Whedon one of my books when I met him at Comic-Con), but this would be THE regret.  And what a terrible one to have.  So Romy's stuck with me for a while.

I though there was going to be a sign, letting me know that I made the right decision (this was back before I told my school I wasn't returning).  My big hope was that the TV deal for NERD would come through, so I would be financially stable at least for a year or two.  That didn't happen.  So I made my decision, made my appointment to talk to the vice principal, and then... the blizzard happened.  I had to wait two days, which made me think maybe that was a sign that I made the wrong decision.  But instead, I chose to believe that since I still felt so strongly about my original decision, that was the sign the blizzard was giving me.  Because, of course, we had a blizzard in Chicagoland because of me.

So that's the news.  Believe it or not!  I have to go.  Romy's calling me over the baby monitor.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


I completely missed that my last post was my 600th!  It seems like only yesterday I posted my 500th post.  Ah, the memories.  Since it's the weekend, and I never know if I should save big posts for the weekdays, I am just going to do a random stuff post.
  • I made the big, huge decision, and all is well.  I'll tell you more about that next week.
  • Did you watch the D&D episode of Community?  It made me want to play D&D so badly!  It also makes me hope that the TV producers who optioned INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER see the potential for D&D on TV and make my show happen.
  • Don't forget my husband's contest for his newest book on his blog.  It ends Tuesday.
  • One of my favorite activities is watching plows go by and seeing how much they mess up everyone's driveways.  Make your own fun, winter style.
  • This is absolutely my favorite Ke$ha song.  Not a real video.

  • I think my body has rejected my antiperspirant.

    • Thursday, February 03, 2011

      Cover Story

      We have made it through "The Blizz" (as my friend, Katie, called it), and the sun is shining.  It's one of those frightfully freezing days, but the sun helps me not feel like I'm trapped in an underground tunnel thanks to the snow filling half my windows.  But enough about the snow.  Let's talk book covers!  I always like when authors show the different incarnations of their book covers.  Dana Reinhardt showcased about twenty different covers for her latest novel, The Things a Brother Knows, when I saw her speak at a conference recently.  My upcoming novel, Don't Stop Now (coming June 7!) is going through its own changes.  Here are the three so far (although there have been more; these are the same ones the public has seen.  I'm  not allowed to show the incomplete ones):
      This was the ARC of the book.  I think it's cute, but I wasn't sure if it was show stopping.  Plus, it's the wrong car.  People can get worked up about that type of thing.
      This was the cover that made it into the Spring catalog.  I like the lettering and shadows, although there is no exclamation point in my vision of the title.
      This is the ALMOST finished version that has made its way onto Amazon.  I've been told there will be some changes.  I'm hoping the "friend or boyfriend?" goes away because I don't think that's really the point of the story.  But I know sales has a huge influence on book covers these days, and they don't always care about the content of the book vs. what's on the cover.  I LOVE this one, though.
      Next week I'm finally going to post an interview I did one hundred years ago with the brilliant art director, Rich Deas.  He has lots more to tell us about the cover designing process.

      Wednesday, February 02, 2011

      And.... It's Still Snowing

      Blizzard pics.  I must admit I have some major anxiety about not being able to go anywhere.  I did not factor this in to the awesome blizzard equation.
      This is the view out to our deck. 
      Another deck view.  It sort of looks like an aquarium.  Made of snow.
      The view from our front porch.  We lucked out that the snow is blowing from the back of our house to the front.  Our neighbors across the street had it at least five feet on their garage.  Luckily, they are very tall.

      The mailbox pictures.  The space in between our mailbox and the neighbors mailbox is where the street should be.  I cannot imagine the insane snow mountains that will form once the plows come through.  If they come through.

      Tuesday, February 01, 2011

      Blizzard 2011! And a contest!

      I'm just sitting here waiting for the blizzard to start.  It's been snowing all morning, but the actual blizzard won't start for another hour or two.  A blizzard, vs. a massive snowstorm, is the wind combined with a lot of snow.  So we will have close to 20 inches of snow but also 40 mile an hour winds that make conditions truly hazardous.  It creates ginormous snow mountains.  I'm stoked.  The last blizzard here in Chicagoland was the winter before Matt moved from South Carolina, so it will be his first.  I have a funny memory of the last blizzard, where my parents were out of town and my sister and drove to the airport to pick them up just as the snow was starting.  I wasn't living at their house, but was helping pick them up.  Then the blizzard hit, I stayed at their house, and we had no food since they had been out of town.  My sister's boyfriend at the time, Dino, drove over in his crappy old Civic, and the two of them skidded and slid their way to the grocery store to get us some grub.  I also remember the genius parking spot war in my the neighborhood where I lived in Chicago.  People dug their cars out, so, naturally, they reserved the right to park in their spots again when they got home from work.  In order to make that clear, people used all sorts of furniture to mark the spots: lawn chairs, couches, dinette sets.  If I have one regret in life, it is not taking pictures of all of the furniture on the streets of Chicago during the blizzard of 1999.  This year, I am full-on suburban and have a garage.  Maybe I'll put out the couch for old time's sake.

      If you're looking for a great read for a 7-10 year old girl or your own youthful pleasure, pop on over to my husband, Matthew Cordell's, blog.  You can win one of three arcs for his new illustrated novel, Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, written by Julie Sternberg.  Go!  Now!  Before the blizzard hits!