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


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!