Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Flow

Sorry I haven't been blogging very frequently. We've had a gross plague going around the house, and I got it the worst. I always get it the worst. I am going to quote myself from one of my earliest blog posts: "If I were a Dungeons and Dragons character, I would have a low constitution. I think I'd be an elf. Probably a bard." Ha. I think that is one of the funniest things I have ever written. Or, at least, one that sticks in my head, which says a lot since my ears leak memories like my nose is leaking boogers (too much?). I have been juggling the kiddo, who doesn't start school until mid-September, my freakish desire to play Medieval Sims, my guilt about exercise (should I when I'm sick? Is it a good excuse not to?), and my fear over my upcoming novel-writing. As of now, I am almost finished typing up the first six chapters that I wrote over a year ago. My goal is to type them up, fix all of the names (for some reason, the characters' names keep changing), do a bit of a revision, and then actually send them off to my editor. I NEVER do this-- show my work to my editor before my book is complete. But this time around, and maybe because it's been such a long time since I started writing the book, I will show it to her. There are some technical details I want to run by her.But first I have to actually type it up. And fix stuff. And blow my nose. Again.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Getting Organized

When I speak on author panels, we are always asked questions about our "process." That question used to make me feel inadequate because I never felt I actually had a process. Which I eventually figured out was my process. People often wonder how writers organize their thoughts, do they make outlines, etc. I do not make outlines. Although, in my life I recall really enjoying making outlines for some time. Fun? The way I write my novels is to just GO. But with my next novel, (not Have a Nice Day, out October 16!, but the one I'm currently writing), I have more research to do than in the past. I actually spent many hours interviewing someone. That is quite researchy for me. I'm sure there will still be people out there who tell me I got it wrong. People love to do that. One of the biggest suckjobs of the internet. But at least I won't have this person's story wrong, and that's the best I can do.

The most fun part about having notes now is that I get to use one of my very special, rarely used Buffy binders. This is the one I chose for my new book:
It was originally made to house Buffy collector cards, but in the past I've used it to organize complicated road trips and now to organize my notes for the new book. And check out the paper I forgot I left inside:
(This picture does not do justice to the brightness of the pages.) Too awesome to write on, right? I like to just look at it and pet it. Ah, crazy school supplies. I will never stop loving you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Site

Over the weekend I updated my website and added a Have a Nice Day page. It's not so fancy, but it's official! Nice to have a starred review blurb to put up there. Keep 'em coming! My webpage is one of those things that took forever to make, and I know is rife with mistakes and needs major updating (little link problems here, an incorrect date there) but Matt and I use some archaic web program he has on his old Mac. It takes me twenty minutes just to change one picture. I guess that's why blogs are so popular: no muss, no fuss. I don't think I have ever typed the words a) rife or b) muss. A groundbreaking blog today, for sure.

In other news, I am adding some appearances for my upcoming Have a Nice Day Tour. I just made that up. It's not really a tour. Or, if it is, it's a very short tour, spaced rather far apart. Check out the "sightings" listings on the right side of my blog for upcoming, well, sightings. I'm stoked to be appearing at Anderson's Young Adult Literature Conference and the Sheboygan Children's Book Festival! I will also be selling handmade cards (Matt and I have a Gocco printing press that we used years ago to make adorable cards with Matt's artwork on them) at a craft fair in Chicago, along with my friend, Lillian, and her sweet kiddie barrettes. I'll post the dates and place for that when I remember to. Craft fairs are weird: when Matt and I first made these cards, we went to two craft fairs with them. At the first one, everyone seemed way more interested in the Dale Earnhart, Jr. pillows at the booth next door. At the second, I don't even remember what happened. Not very many sales, I tell you what. So Matt gave up on the craft fair scene, but I am having one more go with Lillian. It should be fun, right? As long as we're not next to a NASCAR pillow booth. Really, who can compete with that?

Friday, August 17, 2012


Yesterday I started re-reading the first three chapters for my next book (or my next next book, since it's not the book that's coming out on October 16 called HAVE A NICE DAY, in case you forgot), which I had typed up months ago. I am quite pleased with myself that they didn't suck, and they introduced the story and characters nicely. The only thing that really bugged me was the name I gave the main boy character. You ready for this surge of creative genius? His name was JAKE DILLON. Seriously, Julie? It's like I had been watching Sixteen Candles and 90210 (original flava) and thought the name sounded sexy. I am embarrassed that my brain even went there. Perhaps, and I'm just throwing this out there, since I actually typed those first chapters up (from my handwritten pages), maybe the computer changed the name. Because computers can do that. Global Thermonuclear War, you know. And the only winning move, of course, is not to play. Maybe I should change the character's name to Joshua. [Um, I hope someone out there got all of those references. Otherwise, I really sound cray cray.] Who's Johnny? [I know that last one was not from the same movie. But it seemed apropos.]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


It is official: Into the Wild Nerd Yonder has won the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award for 2012! I sort of knew about this months ago, but no one had actually told me I'd won. Which made me feel like I didn't win. The email finally came this week, so now I can envision the clothes I will wear when I accept the award. Although, will there really be an acceptance speech moment, or more of an "author giving a speech about her book" moment? Book life is never quite as glamorous as movie life. Which is fine with me because I can't walk in high heels. Yay winning!

Speaking of winning:

Yeah, that's Matt, me, and Luke Perry. He was chewing gum. And said (re: the narwhal on my t-shirt) that his son's favorite animal was a narwhal. Romy refused to meet him. I guess she has some sort of celebrity standard, like she'll only meet someone dressed in a costume. Like this guy...
...which gives me some great ideas for my acceptance speech outfit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

HAND Gets a Star!

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for some news about Have a Nice Day (out October 16!), and the first review has finally arrived! And it's a star from Kirkus! An awesome one at that (I mean the review is awesome. I don't know if the star looks any different from others, although I'm pretending it's gold and fancy and glints when you turn it the right way in the sunlight). Here it is:

Biting wit makes this quest for suburban normalcy in the face of depression and anxiety both laugh-out-loud funny and immensely intelligent.
In Get Well Soon (2007), Anna spent three weeks in a mental hospital, unwillingly. Now she faces her first three weeks back at home—Dad retaining his “classically trained dick” attitude, Mom riddled with “wuss issues”—and back at school. She’s insecure about where she’s been and fears the in-class panic attacks and bowel symptoms that plagued her earlier. She postpones writing to hospital romance Justin, unsure what to say. Instead, Anna focuses on art class, funky clothing and her peers in outpatient therapy. Her first-person narration brims with humor and raunchiness: “The dark wood that made up the library’s d├ęcor screamed 1976 academia, but the dainty sentiment of ‘EB sucks cock’ scratched into the wood brought a modern feel.” As life improves, she questions sharply which aspects of treatment—or life—are really helping. Anna finds Holden Caulfield (Halpern employs layered and alluring Catcher in the Rye references); boys find her. Characters and observations are impressively original. The only staleness is relentless textual insistence that Anna’s weight loss—born of “crappy mental hospital cafeteria food, depression, [and] anxiety”—is crucial to, and the same thing as, her recovery.
Aside from the too-anxious-to-eat valorization, fresh as a daisy and sharp as a tack.

What's hilarious is how I laughed at my own lines from the book. But so did the reviewer, so, right on! I better go work on the HAND webpage now. That was my plan for the day, and now I have something great to post! Huzzah! (Does that make me sound all Renaissance Faire-y? I meant to sound more Dungeons and Dragons-y. And, yes, there is a difference.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Last weekend I had my 20th high school reunion. I have been thinking about how to blog about it for days, but I don't think I can. I have such mixed feelings, and people on my personal facebook page have been so reunion obsessed. Therefore, I shall write about a different reunion of sorts: Me and my pen. In less than a month, I will begin writing my fifth novel. That's not entirely accurate; I started writing the book a while ago. My writing pattern has been this way for most of my books: write the first several chapters and leave them for a time. I hadn't realized until, well, right now, that I had that pattern.  Because my advice about writing is always to write straight through, and don't stop until you finish. But I guess I don't actually subscribe to that. In the past, I started many of my books during my students' ISATS testing (those are the Illinois Standard Tests). The tests went on for many hours and many days, and all I had to do was proctor them. It was the perfect time to write the beginning of a book. But after the tests were over, I was still working full time, which meant I couldn't continue with the rest of the book until the summer. This time around, I wasn't technically working full time, although my mom job is way more full time than my librarian job ever was. At least when I was away at work, I could have more than two minutes in a row to think about something. Not now. Somehow I found the time to write the beginning of this new book, but then I got REALLY distracted. It will be interesting to see what I think of the beginning of the book. Will I change much? Will I scrap it? (Unlikely, because even though I don't remember much about it, I do remember I already had a really strong character going. Although, the love interest may end up looking different based on what movie star infatuations I have now vs. what I had when I originally wrote it). Will I finish it in the minuscule time I have left to write it? Time will tell.

That's all the blog I have time to write. There's a small person next to me interrupting me again. Something about needing food in the morning...

Thursday, August 02, 2012


I wish the Olympics were over. I am so tired. I normally turn the TV off by ten o'clock because I have all sorts of sleep problems, and any sleep specialist will tell you that one step to a good night's sleep is going to be at the same time every night. And then there's that whole thing you learn when you have a kid that if they pass the point when they need to fall asleep, they may never fall asleep. I'm like that, too. But is there any point in watching the Olympics if you don't get to the part where you find out who wins? I am very much considering scrapping the Olympic-watching and going back to Battlestar Gallactica. Or not. I do love the gymnastics. Why do the American gymnasts look like they can rip all of the other gymnasts in half with their mitts? I also love the synchronized diving (who knew?). Those tiny bathing suits are cray-cray.

Sorry my posts are so blabby and random lately (lately, Julie?), but that's because I'm in book limbo. That's the period all authors write about when they have a book coming out, but not quite yet, and there isn't anything going on having to do with said book. Thank goodness for the awesome teen who sent me an email about HAVE A NICE DAY, the book in limbo (the sequel to GET WELL SOON, out October 16!). Remember the HAND ARC tree? That's how she read it. She (I'm not naming names, since I didn't ask if I could. And if I don't finish this blog post now, I'll never finish it) said the nicest things in her email, and it made me feel all warm and wonderful. Here's what she had to say, "Anna Bloom is my favorite. I just want to go up to her and hug her and ask if I could be her best friend, even though she'd probably think I'm crazy." Isn't that a great, quotable quote? She said a lot more, too. Thank goodness because being in book limbo is stressful and boring and makes me forget that I spent months writing a book, a process I completely enjoy, and instead makes me wonder why I write at all if nobody even knows my book exists. So, thank you wonderful, teen girl for emailing me and validating my existence. As an author. My actual existence doesn't depend on emails. It depends on whether or not I manage to go a day without my daughter arguing with me about wearing a jester costume to the grocery store. They should have an Olympic event for that.