Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tweens Read 2012!

Howdee, Houston! 

After bidding a fond farewell to my brother and his family (and stealing all their grapes) we left Dallas and hit the road for Houston.
Best photo I could get from the speeding Huh Huh Ruh of a gigantor roadside sculpture of Sam Houston.

This was my first time at the Tweens Read Festival, and something I learned very quickly was that the amazing people at Tweens Read and the Blue Willow Bookshop like authors to sign stuff and then they like to give us stuff.

 Poster I signed. Looks like sumbuddy has access to a laminating machine. LUCKY.

 Delicious cupcake with a tiny edible copy of The Rocky Road Trip on top of it.

 Greg and Raina with their Chronicles of Egg and Drama cupcakes.

 A bottle cozy knitted by a local librarian (CRAZY AWESOME FIBER ARTS REPRESENT!)

And a tee shirt! There may be a sizing issue.
Plus popcorn and tissues and chocolates and a bunch of other goodies. We were some spoiled authors.

I love going to festivals and conferences because it's great to meet readers, but it's a huge bonus to meet other authors. Heather Brewer gave the keynote address.

 Heather, addressing us, keynotedly.

I'd never met Heather or read any of her books, so I didn't know what to expect. I'll be honest--when I see a grown woman wearing a backpack in the shape of a plush bat, my inner pragmatist rolls her eyes because seriously, how much can you actually fit in that thing? I was also a little skeptical because she writes about vampires (bluh) and kept referring to all of us as "her minions" (I am not now nor have I ever been anyone's minion, thank you very much).

But Heather was AMAZING. She talked about how she'd grown up in a teeny tiny town with no money and no prospects, and how everyone in the town hated and bullied her. She took refuge in the school library, but even her beloved school librarian had no hope for her future. She talked about how she used all the pain and the rejection that she'd felt to write books for kids who were going through something similar, and she told all those kids that she believed in them and if she'd just had one person tell her that, she'd have become an author much sooner. By the end of her talk I felt like she could strap a hundred goofy plush stuffed animals on her back and that would be just fine with me (weird and probably a little uncomfortable, but Heather Brewer is fantastic and can do whatever she wants to do). She also badmouthed the Twilight series, so I'm more than willing to give her vampires a shot.

 Everyone listening to Heather going all keynotey.

After Heather's address we all went off to our panels. I was on a panel with Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, and Rachel Renee Russell called Going Graphic.

 R.R.R. and me. ME SO PRETTY!

I love being on panels because it's always interesting to hear how other authors answer the same question:

Kid: If you weren't a cartoonist, what would you be?

Dave: Dead.

Raina: What Dave said.

Rachel: An attorney.

Me: A superhero crimefighter.

And it's also interesting to hear what sorts of questions our readers come up with:

What were you like in high school?

Do you have any pets?

What was the first thing that you ever wrote?

What are your influences?

What is your favorite color?

After we finished our panels we signed tons and tons and tons of books. It was a great festival and a great time.

And now we're packing up and heading back home to chilly Philly! Here's hoping the cat doesn't hate us too much for abandoning her.

Nom nom nom hotel breakfast nom.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


 Mark and I are excited to be in Dallas! Anya has doubts.

I am writing this from my brother's house in a suburb of Dallas. That's Dallas, Texas, mind you, not Dallas, Pennsylvania, which apparently is a place that exists.

 Look, they have an official tee shirt and everything.

Yesterday we got up at the absurd hour of You Really Don't Want To Know O' Clock and made our way to the Philadelphia International Airport to catch an 8:30 flight to Dallas. Everything went surprisingly well, seeing how it was Anya's first time on an airplane.

 Philadelphia, as seen from a moving car at Stupid O' Clock in the morning. Still pretty.

 Anya does a little light reading on the plane.

You kind of expect for Baby's First Plane Trip to be kind of a nightmare, but we discovered quickly that snacks are the cure for the onset of fussiness. It also helped that the guy who was supposed to be sharing a row with us took one look at Anya, grimaced, and asked if it was possible to be moved to another empty seat so that we had the whole row to ourselves. Thanks, cranky guy!

This actually wasn't the cranky guy, this was my friend Jason who happened to be on the same flight as us and willing to make a goofy face for the camera. Thanks, Jason!

But we arrived in Dallas safe and sound and after wrangling the rental carseat into the rental car (this bright red...thing that we have named Huh Huh Ruh) we headed to my brother's house, where wackiness ensued.

 We Ignatows are known for our majestic beauty. We try not to let it go to our heads.

My brother and niece show off their inexhaustible athletic prowess.

My brother's inexhaustible athletic prowess is undone by a sleepy, cuddly baby.

This morning I went to Coppell Middle School West to give a talk and sign some books. The librarian, Rose, was fantastic and we did so much chatting that I never got to take a picture of her. Instead I took a picture of a completely different person using a laminating machine.

 I want my own laminating machine SO BAD. If I had a laminating machine, I'd laminate pretty much everything and all of my friends would get placemats for every occasion. I begged Rose to laminate my Morris Arboretum membership card and she totally did. I told you she was fantastic. Now I want to take it outside and shoot it with a water pistol because I can.

How cool were the folks at Coppell Middle School West? So cool that they had a cake made with the image of The Popularity Papers 4: The Rocky Road Trip of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang on it. Amazing hospitality and fabulous readers.

 "Hold up the cake at an angle so we can see it!" Rose asked before taking this picture, and I was pretty sure that I was going to accidentally dump the whole thing on the girl in front's head. I think that she was a little worried about it as well.

But the cake survived!! And look how pretty it was!

After my visit to Coppell Mark, my brother, Anya, and I went out for real Texas BBQ at a place called Dat's Good BBQ. It was ridiculously delicious.

Anya ate her fill. The kid likes real Texas BBQ.

Tomorrow we head down to Houston for the Tweens Read Festival. I'm really excited to see some of my author friends (Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, Geoff Rodkey, and more) but it's been really wonderful to spend time with my family.

Anya swings with her cousin Sara. They're so cute together that they make my face hurt from all the smiling.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What Makes You Beautiful

These guys have a really impressive amount of hair.

Okay guys, I'm about to go on a RANT. This happens every now and then, and tonight as I was ranting my husband suggested that I put it on the blog because it's a rant that my readers might be interested in.

Earlier today an extremely popular song came on the radio. I'd heard it a few times before, but this was the first time I really listened to it. 

You're insecure
Don't know what for
You're turning heads when you walk through the door
Don't need makeup
To cover up
Being the way that you are is enough

Okay, I thought. That sucks for her that she's all insecure. But sometimes girls are. It's nice that these guys think she looks good without makeup (although if she wants to wear some because she likes that sort of thing, they'll just have to get over it). 

Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but you

I'd feel self-conscious if everyone in a room was all staring at me. Maybe she thinks she has some food on her face or something. 

Baby you light up my world like nobody else
The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed
But when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell
You don't know
Oh Oh
You don't know you're beautiful

So...she thinks she's ugly? 

If only you saw what I can see
You'll understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe
You don't know
Oh oh
You don't know you're beautiful
Oh oh
That what makes you beautiful

Wait...what? She's beautiful because she thinks she's a big bag of ugly? WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?

Look, I get it. It's attractive when a girl (or a guy) who doesn't act that they're God's Gift to your eyeballs. But the lads from One Direction (or their songwriter) seem to think that this girl is awesome because she has no confidence and doesn't seem to like herself very much.


But you know what? It happens all the time. Guys will go after girls who don't like themselves very much because it makes them feel great. When a girl is all, "Oh Strong Smart Guy, if it weren't for you I'd still be a pile of hideous, but because you saw something in me I feel great! And I owe it all to you!" Then the guy is a hero, hooray!

To get a little darker, some guys like insecure girls because insecure girls are easier to control.

I'm not particularly insecure. If my partner said, "Hey, Ig, do this thing you don't want to do because I say so," I'd say, "No thank you." But if I were insecure, I might think, What if I don't do it? Maybe he won't like me anymore if I don't do it. Maybe he'll dump me. I'd better do it. And some guys look for girls like that so that they'll always get their way, regardless of how the girl feels or what she wants.


I'm not saying that Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, and Louis are creepers who seek out girls that hate themselves so that they can control them (yeah, I had to look up their names on Wikipedia because I'm a billion years old). They're probably fine young men who don't give too much thought to what they're actually singing because they're making buckets of money singing it.

But who is listening to this song? The same awesome readers who like my books, and I want them to know that acting dumb, or insecure, or as if you don't like yourself isn't the way into anyone's heart. If you want to be with someone worthwhile, you have to be worthwhile. If you want to be with someone worthless... 

Nana Nana Nana Nana 
Nana Nana Nana Nana
Nana Nana Nana Nana

That part of the song is all right. RANT OVER. It's okay to be beautiful.

I can't even making fun of this, they look awesomely comfortable. If I had one of these outfits I would probably be able to nap standing up, which has always been a goal of mine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


WHUT??? New paperback covers?

Yes, surprised cat! New paperback covers! We thought it would be fun to do something that would distinguish the paperbacks from the hardcovers, especially since the paperback version of Words of (Questionable) Wisdom will be coming out soon. What do you think?




Also, just now I've learned that there are a lot of images of "shocked cats" on Google.

There are?!?


Friday, September 21, 2012

And now, a Guest Post from Maggie the Wonder Editor!

Hey, look, it's my editor, Maggie! I don't actually get to see her that often, but I'm pretty sure this is an accurate depiction of how she dresses to edit.

Hello! This is Maggie, Amy’s editor at Abrams Books. A few weeks ago, Amy and Publicist Overload Morgan asked me to write a little bit for the blog. I agreed right away before even stopping to consider that I didn’t have any ideas for posts. Ideas? Who needs ideas? Amy’s the one who comes up with the ideas and then sends them to me. That’s the way this whole thing works.

The Way This Whole Thing Works

A Popularity Papers book starts with an outline. Amy sends me a document that describes what Lydia and Julie are up to, who the new characters are, and some snippets of the funniest images and scenes. At this point, I look at how the book works as a whole and suggest any possible tweaks to the character arcs (how the characters change and grow over the course of the book).

Then Amy starts writing and drawing. She writes and draws for a while. During that time I’m waiting patiently at the computer, updating my email every few seconds, hungry for a glimpse of the book.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’m also writing catalogue copy for the book, creating factsheets, presenting the book at company meetings, working with the production department to find a place to print it the way we want to, making sure everything’s set with the contract, and brainstorming with the designer about the cover. And I work on other books, too, each of which need all that attention.

But I must admit it’s a very special day when the first draft of a new Popularity Papers book comes in. I am so lucky to be able to be the first person to know exactly what happens next. Lydia and Julie feel like old friends—or perhaps beloved nieces—and I read the new books with a huge grin on my face.

After that first joyous read, there’s a period of editing back and forth between me and Amy, then copyediting and proofreading (since the book is entirely handwritten, Amy has to make all corrections herself), and finally we ship it off to the printer and await proofs. We check over the proofs for any final mistakes or color issues, and when we’re sure it’s as flawless as we can possibly make it, it’s time for the book to print and ship.

The entire process takes about a year. Right now, we’re awaiting proofs from the printer for Book Five, and I’ve read the outline for Book Six. (So, yes—I know what’s going to happen! Shhhh… secrets…)

That’s a speedy review of what it takes to make a book. I didn’t even mention the pictures of Amy’s baby with food on her face, which is a huge part of our process. But if you have more questions, I will try to answer in the comments, or you can bug me on twitter at @maggielehrman.

Thanks, Amy!

Okay, wait a second. You don't actually just sit in front of your computer waiting for me to email you? You have other books by other authors to edit? WHUT??? 

Gratuitous baby eating birthday cake photo!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The 2012 Princeton Children's Book Festival!

 Actual readers reading my actual books!!!

Dear readers, if you are squeamish about things like phlegm you may want to not continue reading, because I'm about to tell you all about it. A LOT. There will also be descriptions of all the great books and authors and readers that I hob-nobbed with yesterday at the Princeton Children's Book Festival, but mostly I'm going to whine about how sick I was.

I'd like to believe that this blog is read by eleventy billion people from all corners of the world, so it's necessary for me to set the scene and describe what the weather has been like in Philadelphia so that you readers in Ulan Bator can understand why having a nasty headcold right now is the worstest ever. It has been muggy. Unpleasantly warm and crazy muggy, the kind of swampy mugginess that turns normally curly hair into a frizzy face-eating monster, and the sort of oppressive muggy that attacks you like a pack of large and extremely affectionate wet dogs with no sense of personal space. It's been disgusting. This is exactly the weather that makes colds worse; not only is it hard to breathe because your nose is plugged up with snot, but it's hard to breathe because you're also drowning in hot soggy air.

I am sick because my daughter is sick. She is a baby and has no idea that it is considered uncouth to repeatedly coughing directly into someone's face. In the future when she understands words I plan to give her a good talking-to about covering up one's mouth in such situations (and also that it it inadvisable to smear one's snot on your mother's shirt, pants, arms, legs, neck, as well as your own hair) (BABIES ARE SO GROSS). So in addition to being sick, I am taking care of a sick baby, which means that my sleep is all jacked up and I feel terrible all the time.

Let's go to a book festival! After a sleepless night of depleting our garrison of tissue boxes I left poor congested Anya with my generous, loving husband, who is not feeling 100% himself (Anya is quite egalitarian about spreading her germs). Armed with a bag full of books, tissues, a thermos of water, a travel mug full of hot tea, a sketchbook, a ruler, and two cartoon vases of flowers made out of foam core because I didn't want to get stuck with another big, undecorated table like I had the last time I went to the Princeton Children's Book Festival.

Looking not at all like the Spectre of Death at the Princeton Children's Book Festival. Check out the flower arrangements!

But there was no need to worry--unlike in previous years, the authors came to find their tables full of books and displays that had been put out by the people at Jazam's (a book/toy store in Princeton). It's completely amazing to sit behind a table with piles of my own books, particularly now that there are FOUR of them. It made it a lot easier to hide my box of Kleenex and pile of used tissues.

Writing and illustrating is a fairly solitary job, particularly when you work from home (as I do). As much as I love being my own boss and keeping my own schedule (HA HA, who am I kidding, Tilda is my boss) I miss socializing. So when I get the opportunity to both work and hang out with cool people, I go a little nuts. It's so exciting to talk with readers and librarians and other authors that a little thing like having no voice and my whole head encased in a phlegmblob is no obstacle. And so talk I did! I said hi to author friends (Eric Wight, Michael Buckley, Bob Shea, Erica Pearl, Lee Harper, and Mônica Carnesi) and made new author friends (Matt Luckhurst, Katie Kelly), and chatted with everyone who stopped by my table, which happened to be in the middle of the entire festival where everyone had to walk by. By the end of the day I sounded like Tom Waits (and not a young Tom Waits). I drove through a torrential downpour to get back to Philly, dragged myself into the house, collapsed on the sofa, and spent the rest of the evening communicating with Mark via text message. SAD.

Eric Wight, who gracefully obliged to pose with his book after I used up a billion percent of my voice  yelling, "ERIC! HOLD UP YOUR BOOK! I'M TAKING A PICTURE OF YOU!" at him.
Matt Luckhurst, who was forced to sit next to me and listen while my voice sounded more and more like Morla's (the huge ancient turtle from The Neverending Story) (if you don't know what I'm talking about, go watch The Neverending Story RIGHT NOW)

But it was totally worth it--I met some great readers and had a fantastic time. Sure, today I'm a practically useless bucket of boogers, but WORTH IT.

Not to ruin your suspension of disbelief, but there was a human person inside this cat outfit. By my scientific calculations it was 748 degrees inside this suit, and if someone could please let me know that the luckless person wearing the suit survived the festival, that would be great.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Awesomely Awful Melodies have been UPLOADED!!!!!!

And this is what the computer saw while we were sending all the files to the book designers at Amulet!

Friday, August 24, 2012

And now, a Guest Post from Publicist Overlord Morgan!

Hello! Publicist Overlord Morgan here to say a quick HELLO (in a non-threatening, no-weapon-yielding-today kind of way) to Amy’s loyal blog readers. I think we can all agree that answering YES to Amy’s initial question, “To Blog, or Not to Blog,” was a great idea. (If you disagree, please let me know @moregan on Twitter as not to spoil the array of positive reinforcement Amy receives in her comments.)

I wanted to share one of my favorite moments in the first book of the series, The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang, which I read for the first time in the past month.

I love this excerpt because I’m big on the idea WE NEED OUTSIDE ADVICE, especially from the people who know us best. (Lydia’s mom and sister are great examples.)  I’m 24 years old and I still call my mom a couple times a week to ask her opinion on something. (I’m actually aware that my mom thinks I call too much for a 24 year old who lives on her own in New York City, but that’s another topic.)

Asking for advice—and learning to accept it—is a huge part of growing up, as well as creating and maintaining relationships. Interesting tidbit: When I first talked to Amy about blogging and social media her response was the following: “Very exciting! This is good. I need deadlines and to be told what to do…Thanks, and please push me!” Gold star, Amy, for accepting and welcoming outside advice.

In a recent conversation with my mom, I was talking to her about my new-ish position at Abrams. I was relaying my jealousy of girls who get to go through middle school with The Popularity Papers as their guidebook. To this my mother replied: “Yes, as long as you don’t distract the author with your obsession with blogging, Twitter, and Facebook and give her no time to write new books…” We all need outside advice.

Amy here. First: AH HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Second, OH MY GOD, YOU'RE ONLY 24? When I was 24 I was hardly making rent by illustrating terribly written educational anti-drug cartoons:

Stephanie: Let's do lots of drugs!

Lisa: I don't think that's a good idea. I once knew a girl who did drugs and then she went crazy and killed a bunch of kittens and then fell off of a cliff and died.

Stephanie: That sounds bad. Let's never do drugs!

I have those old cartoons somewhere in a file, and THAT'S WHERE THEY'RE GOING TO STAY FOREVER AND EVER. Also when I was 24 I worked as an airbrush face and body painter for a guy who legally changed his name to Peanutbutter and always insisted on MORE GLITTER. So anyway, Morgan is a lot more successful than I was when I was her age, so I should probably listen to her advice. I'm not always going to take it, but I'll still listen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

And the title of the 5th Popularity Papers is...

Coming up with a title for a book is not easy. Not only does it have to sound good, and not already be taken, and make sense, but it also has to be agreed upon by approximately 784 people at Amulet Books, as well as my literary agent, my husband, and my cat.

THIS IS A LIE! NO ONE LISTENS TO ME. Close the shower curtain, I need to be alone.

Usually I come up with a bunch of ideas. Some of them are good, some of them are okay, and some of them are just terrible but that's what happens when you run out of good ideas (ex. The Popularity Papers 5: Can You Believe That We're On The Fifth Book Already with Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang?) Then my editor makes suggestions, my agent makes suggestions, the marketing department makes suggestions, some random people on the street make suggestions, and slowly but surely we come up with something that everyone loves. Or that everyone likes. Or that no one recoils from.

I'm excited about this one, so without further ado, the title for the fifth Popularity Papers will be...

(drumroll, pleez)

The Popularity Papers 5:
The Awesomely Awful Melodies of
Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang

Finally I can stop referring to it as PP5, until I get tired of typing out The Popularity Papers 5: The Awesomely Awful Melodies of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang and go back to PP5, but I'm pretty thrilled with the title so hopefully that won't happen for a while.

You heard it here first, dear blog readers! You are the first people to know, besides everyone at Amulet, my husband, and my dad (who was all, "THE AWFULLY WHAT OF THE WHAT? Oh. That's nice.")

The Popularity Papers 5: The Awesomely Awful Melodies of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang! Coming to bookstores next Spring...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

PP5 Progress Report (wee hours edition)

Emails from fans RULE. Really, if someone had told me a five years ago that I’d be receiving amazing fanmail from all over the world on a regular basis I probably would freaked out and screamed, “HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS? ARE YOU FROM THE FUTURE? African-American president? For real? TELL ME WHO WINS THE 2008 WORLD SERIES!!!”

But that time-traveler/soothsayer would have been right, and I’m still amazed every time someone takes the effort to send me a fabulous paragraph about how they’ve enjoyed The Popularity Papers. It’s really gratifying.

As of late most of the emails have been asking the same thing—

Is there going to be a fifth Popularity Papers book?

I sure hope so, or else all the work I’ve done over the past eight months will have been completely in vain. YES YES YES, there is going to be a fifth Popularity Papers book!!

Yay! Great!!! Now we are happy. When is it coming out?

In Spring of 2013.

Hooray! When in Spring of 2013?

I’m not totally certain.

How can you not be totally certain?

Because it’s stupid o’clock in the morning and my brain isn’t working properly.

You should really get some sleep. You’ve been looking a little peaked.

I know, I know.

Maybe some warm milk?


Hey, we were just trying to be helpful. So are you done writing the book? If we sneaked into your house and stole your computer and went through your files, could we read it?

I’m mostly done—there will probably be another round or two of edits to make sure that everything makes sense and that I’ve spelled everything correctly. Because the Popularity Papers is written entirely by hand every time I spell something wrong I have to correct it in Photoshop. It takes a while to make certain everything is perfect.

Also, don’t break into my house and steal my computer and go through my files.

Okay, we won’t. So what’s the name of the new book?

I don’t know yet.

The Popularity Papers 5: I Don’t Know Yet with Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang? That’s…a little weird. We probably have to read the book to understand it?

No, no, no, I mean that I haven’t come up with a name for the book yet.

So you don’t know exactly when the book is coming out and you don’t know what the book is called. Are you sure there’s actually going to be a 5th book?

Yes! I promise. I’ve been working really hard on it and I’m really excited about it, and trust me, I will post it to this blog the moment that I’ve decided on a title.

Well, if you promise. You should try to go back to sleep now.

Okay, I will. Do you think warm rice milk will taste okay?

Go to sleep!

I love my fans. You guys are the best.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lydia and Julie's Thoughts on Summer (sort of not really)

August 5th
“Guest post” from Lydia and Julie about the summer

So this blogpost suggestion from Morgan sounded like a really good idea when she sent it four days ago at 1:35 in the afternoon. But now it is 4:51am and I’M FREAKING OUT.

There are several problems. The first, most pressing problem is that I’M AWAKE AT 4:51 IN THE MORNING, and in order to be sitting here at my computer means that I’ve been awake for a while and finally just gave up on sleeping. This is what happens when I drink coffee on a Saturday—awake at O-dark-thirty on a Sunday morning, because my body is unused to caffeine.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Starbux at the Steamtown Mall? I texted our good friends from Syracuse who were meeting us in Scranton. When we got there we’d been in the car for over two hours, and I’d been up since O-dark-thirty because of anxiety about forgetting the billion and one things that I thought I had to bring in anticipation of Anya’s every need (What if my ten-month-old’s bladder magically turns into some sort of thoroughbred horse peeing machine’s bladder? PACK MOAR DIAPERS!!!) Coffee seemed like a fabulous idea, especially because you can buy it in iced form with floaty bits of caramel that you can suck through a straw.


Maybe the coffee alone wouldn’t have done me in, but having that late-afternoon cola in the car was basically me telling my brain, “We are getting up EARLY!” And now we’re up and my brain is all, “Guess what??? I’m sleep-deprived and I can’t think of one good thing to write about what Lydia and Julie think about summer! Hope you enjoyed that Coke Zero, doofus. Now Morgan is going to drive to Philadelphia and repeatedly hit us in the head with a frying pan.”

Morgan seems really super nice and not at all like the sort of person who drives two hours on a Sunday just to bean someone in the head. She might not even have a car. Or a frying pan. But it’s really early and I’m given to hyperbole.

The second problem is that just because I can’t think of one good thing to write about what Lydia and Julie think about summer doesn’t mean that I can’t think of a bunch of boring things to write about what Lydia and Julie think about summer.

Lydia: You know what’s great about summer?

Julie: Everything.

Lydia: Everything is great about summer.

Julie: Sometimes it’s too hot.

Lydia: Everything is great about summer except for when it’s too hot.

Julie: Yes.

Lydia: This has been a fascinating exchange, we should do it more often.

Julie: Let’s do so.

When people think that writing is hard, they’re really wrong. Writing isn’t that hard; writing stuff that people want to keep reading is a different story all together.

But please keep suggesting blog topics, Morgan and everybody else! One of these days I will prove that all your good brain-thinking is not in vain…

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To Blog, or Not To Blog: It’s a Question

Okay, so I think we all know the answer, and that is to blog, because obviously I am blogging RIGHT NOW, and also my blog is all fancy and new-looking. But bear with me, because I’m still asking myself The Question: To Blog or Not To Blog?

Up to now this blog (formerly known as The Yellow Car Chronicles) has been mostly about my adventures in touring, which is why there are a huge amount of blogposts from the summer of 2010 when Mark and I drove to Denver and back, and very few blogposts during the summer of 2011 when I was ginormously pregnant and spending every day holed up in my studio working to finish The Rocky Road Trip before giving birth (and with my editor Maggie as my witness, I handed in the final edits at the last possible minute before heading to the hospital). So the blog has been, at best, spotty.

“THIS IS TERRIBLE!” My new publicist screamed at me while brandishing several medieval weapons, “You are a super-inconsistent blogger! THIS WILL NOT STAND!!!” Her name is Morgan and she seems like a smart and lovely person, but for the sake of my own amusement I’ve decided to portray her as a screamy potentially violent madwoman. “BAD AUTHOR! BAD AUTHOR!!!”

“But I don’t know what to write about!” I whimpered while cowering in a corner that was no doubt dungeony and full of spiders. “All I do all day is write and draw and take care of my baby and listen to National Public Radio and talk on the phone with my dad. Please don’t hurt me.”

The reasons I’ve never felt comfortable writing about my daily life are:

A.     It could be super boring
B.     It could also be super duper boring
C.     It could be crazy embarrassing to my daughter in thirteen years (ex. Yesterday she pulled down my shirt, shoved her face into my chest, and barfed)
D.    Without guidance, I could easily just write down a series of ridiculous conversations with my dad where he yells a lot (not because he’s angry, but because he’s just naturally really loud)

I’m also always a little worried about coming off like kind of a butthead. Hey, read what I wrote, I’m a Big Important Author so my thoughts are like precious jewels. Come gather round and be dazzled by my sparkling jewel-thoughts!

But Morgan has been working really hard to make the blog pretty. She’s helped me to come up with interesting blog topics, and also she can shoot lasers out of her eyes, so I’m going to make a genuine effort to blog on a regular basis. Here are my rules:

1.     I’ll try really hard not to be a butthead.

2.     I’ll try not to blather on about my kid too much, because she has a right to privacy, even though it’s really tempting to post a picture of her every day because she’s seriously crazy cute.

3.     I’ll try to be a really good blogger and write good posts because my readers are worth it.

To do all this (particularly #3) I need help. What would you like to know about? What would you like me to blog about? This is interactive! LET’S DO THIS THING.


(That’s a word, right? It is now.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

What's round on both sides and HI in the middle?

 Demonstrating the important skill of drawing a bathing hamster in love
with a roll of toilet paper at the Hudson Library and Historical Society.

Ohio! Here we are once again, back in Mark's home state. We've traveled somewhere around 800 miles so far, from Philly to Pittsburgh to Hudson to Grandpa's Cheese Barn to Oberlin back past Grandpa's Cheese Barn to Dayton, where we are relaxing in a luxuriously air-conditioned room on a glorious king-sized bed.

 Ah, Grandpa. Thank you for your wisdom and your cheese.

 Gross, Grandpa.

It's a welcome change from the last two nights, which were spent in room 327 of South Hall, one of Oberlin's dormitories. Not that it was a horrible stay by any means, it's just that there's nothing to make you feel the weight of the ten plus years since graduating college like sleeping in a muggy dorm room and having to walk down a hall with your towel and toiletries to go to the shower.

Our time in Oberlin reaffirmed that Mark is a genius, as he insisted on buying two cheap fans at a Target before we got there, and it also taught us that dormitory bathroom sinks are not ideal for bathing babies. Anya didn't seem to mind, but it took a bit of maneuvering to get her clean. Cleanish. But Mark's reunion was very fun, Anya charmed everyone, and the only thing that marred our weekend was the discovery that the Oberlin College Book Store DOES NOT CARRY THE POPULARITY PAPERS.

Oh my stars!

What's up with that, Oberlin College Book Store? Come on! Oberlin is mentioned in The Rocky Road Trip! Maybe they did carry The Popularity Papers, but they ran out because it was so popular. Right? Anyhoo, if anyone happens to be in the Oberlin College Book Store, feel free to mention to them your deep need to buy The Popularity Papers there.

In the The Seeley G. Mudd Center in Oberlin.

While we were in Oberlin we took a picture of Anya in one of the college's famous Womb Chairs and then put it up on Facebook. Almost immediately an old summer camp friend who also happened to be an Obie recognized where the picture had been taken and quickly emailed me to ask a very strange favor.

I have a special mission to propose while you're there, which you can feel free to turn down, since it involves graffiti (albeit on a wall or door already covered in graffiti) and takes time.

How could I resist? And the next thing I knew, I was sitting on a floor outside of the walk-in fridge in Fairchild Hall dulling one of my Sharpies on painted cinderblock while my friend Andreas dictated Deborah's tribute to the walk-in fridge and the Jabberwocky.

Well of course I had to draw a little monster as well.

And so, yet again, life imitates art--as Lisa Kovac graffitied up the Girl's Bathroom to help out Lydia and Julie, so I graffitied up a hallway in Oberlin to help out my friend. The neat thing is that I met Deborah in summer camp when we were thirteen--right about the same age that Lydia and Julie will be in PP5, and here we are, ten billion years later, still causing mischief. Real friendship lasts.

Wishing everyone a happy and thoughtful Memorial Day, and I'll be at Cover to Cover Books in Columbus tomorrow at 4:30!