Thursday, December 29, 2011

THE FUTURE OF US Book Tour

By plane, train, and automobile, Carolyn Mackler and I will travel from the East Coast to the West Coast in January to meet our readers and talk about The Future of Us. We'll visit 9 great bookstores across the country, and if we're anywhere near you, we'd love it if you came by to get a book signed, or just to say hi!


January 17 - Barnes & Noble; Princeton, NJ; 7pm
January 18 - WORD; Brooklyn, NY; 7pm
January 19 - Politics and Prose; Washington D.C. (held offsite at Bethesda Public Library); 5pm
January 20 - Little Shop of Stories; Decatur, GA; 7pm
January 21 - Books & Books; Coral Gables, FL; 5:30pm
January 22 - Blue Willow Bookshop; Houston, TX; 2pm
January 23 - Book People; Austin, TX; 7pm
January 24 - Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop; La Verne, CA; 7pm
January 25 - Once Upon a Time; Montrose, CA; 7pm

Bring a friend. Bring all your friends. And we'll see ya soon!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fisher-Face Toys

Slightly lopsided toothless grins are cute. Add a dimple, and it's adorable!

Am I talking about a certain one-year-old boy in my life? No. (But yes, his smiles are very adorable!) I'm talking about a few of that one-year-old's toys. Fisher-Price must've poured a lot of time and money into identifying the most inviting and playful smile, because that smile is plastered on all of their plastic faces.


This discovery was made by my wife while helping Isaiah open his second Fisher-Price Christmas gift.


Since these toys are for newborns and toddlers, I'm assuming that red dot on the cheek is a dimple and not a pimple. (For any of you reading this who have dimples, do you ever get pimples inside your dimples? If so, does it pinch when you smile? Just curious.)

Whether it's a caterpillar, a dog, the sun, or a music note, they all have the same smile.


It's cute. It's charming. And it's also a little creepy.

So now, whenever I see a person with a slightly lopsided toothless grin, I'm going to say, "Ah... Look at that Fisher-Face!"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Repeat the Sounding Joy

I recently asked my friends and followers (that sounds so cultish) on Facebook and Twitter to tell me their favorite versions of Christmas carols. Although I didn't reveal my own selections, the two songs they chose most often also happen to be my two favorites: Little Drummer Boy and O Holy Night.

Good job, friends and followers!

The most commonly selected version of Little Drummer Boy was sung by Bing Crosby and David Bowie in the 1977 TV special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas.



My personal favorite Little Drummer Boy was recorded by Bob Seger in 1987. Here's a live performance from just last month.



Six different versions of O Holy Night were mentioned. Since I couldn't choose a favorite among those, I went with another great version, sung by Josh Groban.



Finally, who doesn't love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! (Notice, there's no question mark at the end of that sentence. If you don't love Rudolph, I don't want to know about it.) My favorite rendition is a cover of The Temptations' version, which was animated for Will Vinton's 1987 special, A Claymation Christmas Celebration. Sing it, California Raisins!




MERRY CHRISTMAS

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Very Bookish Christmas

My favorite section of the house to decorate for Christmas is the bookcase in our dining room. One shelf, each December, holds nothing but Christmas books. It's not a large shelf (a half-box of these books remains in the garage), so it doesn't take long to decorate, but it is essential.

(Also included: a chunk from the first Christmas tree of our marriage,
and a photo from Isaiah's first Christmas
)


This year, we added two books to the shelf. Voices of Christmas by Nikki Grimes and Eric Velasquez, which beautifully and powerfully tells the Nativity story from the perspectives of those who were there. And A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck and Sarah Jane Wright, which I got activities for online and printed out for Isaiah.

Sometimes it's a good thing that I try new toddler-activities on mornings when JoanMarie sleeps in. It's not that I thought Isaiah would color inside the lines, but I thought the crayons would spend more time on the paper than in his mouth.

Maybe next year!


When we decorated the tree, I wrapped the lights around the trunk, as opposed to setting them out on the branches. Isaiah's a teething-aholic (obviously), and I didn't want to tempt him. The few ornaments on this year's tree were also chosen with his curious fingers and teeth in mind.

I tried to get him to sit for a photo with his favorite book (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), but the moment I sat him down, he picked up the book and brought it over to me...for its fifth reading of the day.


Thankfully, reading to him is often my favorite part of each day.

Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Paparazzi

A couple days ago, Isaiah celebrated his first birthday.


We put a bounce house in our backyard, and it often looked like every kid in the neighborhood was jumping around in there (I'm pretty sure a few were party crashers). And yes, after everyone left, I crawled in to get a few bounces of my own!


Taking after his mommy, this was the gift Isaiah played with the rest of the night.


The idea of a Smash Cake must be something new. Back when I turned one (Oh no! I'm starting to sound old!), we were given a small slice of the main birthday cake. Now, a lot of bakeries make seperate mini-cakes for the baby to smash into. And everyone looks forward to that! So I was a little suprised that Isaiah was being so cautious with his cake. It's like he knew people were watching him eat, documenting his every move.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Today (but in 2010)

Here is the beginning and ending of an exciting email that Carolyn Mackler sent to our agents at 9:24am(PST) exactly one year ago today. The title of the manuscript mentioned was later changed to The Future of Us (available now!).

Jodi and Laura -

We are thrilled to hand you the manuscript for our next YA novel, IT'S ABOUT TIME.

[Blah, blah, blah. Business stuff, business stuff, business stuff. Blah, blah, blah.]

Happy reading!

- Carolyn & Jay

PS Speaking of babies going out into the world, as we were doing our final tweaks this morning, Jay's wife went into labor!!

If you've seen me give my Powerpoint presentation at a school or library, you know that I waste a lot of time creating mock covers for my books. Here are two that I created for It's About Time.


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Santa's On His Way

Today was a day of firsts for Isaiah.

Of course, when you're still not a year old, I suppose most days can be described that way.

We took him to see his first reindeer at the Hopper Bros. Christmas tree lot in Arroyo Grande. They weren't Santa's reindeer (cuz those guys are probably in hardcore last-minute training right now), but it's my understanding that Yukon and Windsong are second-cousins to Blitzen...or maybe Dasher. One of those! Either way, since this is 2011, they even have their own Facebook page.


Then we took Isaiah to his first book signing. Oddly enough, his first book signing was his dad's book signing! He was a bit confused when people started handing me books to scribble in because he's not allowed to do that at home.

Most people were getting books signed for themselves, but a lot were getting them signed as Christmas gifts for friends, girlfriends, or sons and daughters. It's so cool to know my books will be someone's gift!

Here's my view of the front of the signing line...


And my gift to the first 13 people in line was a donut from SLO Donut Co., which is where I stayed up late editing The Future of Us. And yes, within that box was the near-legendary bacon donut.


Thank you to everyone who came out to my first hometown book signing for my latest book. And thank you to the SLO Barnes & Noble booksellers for putting on this event. I'm sure I'll see you in a couple days!

If you weren't able to make it, or you're driving through San Luis Obispo in the near future, I signed plenty of copies of Thirteen Reasons Why and The Future of Us before I left. So grab one for yourself! Or better yet, grab both! Or even better yet, don't just think about your own enjoyment, also grab a few as gifts for others!


If you missed my hour-long November 30th interview with Dave Congalton (local radio dude and fellow-author), you can listen to the podcast here.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Good Morning, December

I woke up feeling very excited this morning. I love December! I love Christmas! And I love JoanMarie & Isaiah (JoanMarie's birthday is December 25th, and Isaiah's is the 11th)!

Growing up, the first thing I did every December morning was mark the day with my Advent calendar. Usually, there was a small toy or piece of chocolate waiting for me. Maybe next year we'll go that route with Isaiah, but right now we're limiting his access to sugar-rushes and choking hazards.

But the traditions begin immediately!

Monday, November 28, 2011

One Big Family Circle

I walked into a supermarket today and bought the December issue of Family Circle magazine. I also bought a quart of milk and a Heath bar, but I've purchased those items many times without telling you, so why Family Circle?

Because they have great taste in literature!

(photo courtesy of my smartphone)


If that review has anything to do with my mom subscribing to Family Circle for many years, then thank you, Mom!

For those of you who live locally, Dave Congalton will interview me from 5-6pm on KVEC 920 this Wednesday, November 30. If you live out-of-range, you can still listen online and call in to ask me a question. For a short time in high school, I interned at KVEC, even delivering one on-air news report (thankfully, lost forever).

And if you live nearby, or happen to be traveling nearby this weekend, I'll be signing copies of The Future of Us and Thirteen Reasons Why at the San Luis Obispo Barnes & Noble this Saturday, December 3, beginning at 4pm. I worked at this B&N for a bit while writing Thirteen Reasons Why, but I mostly worked in the cafe where I messed up many drink orders. If you remember me messing up your mocha, latte, or iced coffee (I still blush over that one), stop by and I'll buy you another one.

And I promise to let the professionals make it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NCTE/ALAN 2011

If you've seen my last two posts, you know that Carolyn Mackler and I were in Chicago for a conference. This was the National Council of Teachers of English/Assembly on Literature for Adolescents conference, which means there were a whole lot of teachers who know their grammar. Which means I was constantly saying, "Sorry! That's why I have an editor!"

It was the first time we signed hardcovers of The Future of Us together, which was a moment we'd been waiting for! Our genius publicist (I don't think she sleeps), Elyse, is standing between us in this photo.


In terms of excitement, a close second to signing books and meeting readers is getting to meet authors for the first time. And NCTE/ALAN was great for meeting authors!

Ned Vizzini


Sarah Zarr


Michelle Hodkin


Megan McCafferty


That evening, Penguin held a delicious (delicious!) dinner, with even more authors.

Jacqueline Woodson


Stephanie Perkins


The next day, Carolyn and I attended a great YA author booksigning at Anderson's Bookshop. I think we should come up with a word to describe a group of authors. Something like a gaggle or a pride of authors. Not those, but something! Any ideas?

This signing featured the two of us, Coe Booth, Jeff Hirsch, Heather Brewer, A.S. King, C.J. Hill, Stephanie Perkins, Jackie Kessler, and David Levithan. David moderated the evening, asking each author very insightful questions. I would've attended this event even if I wasn't speaking/signing (thankfully, I was!). In a beautiful moment, after several authors expressed how difficult their time in high school was, David mentioned how supportive and warm the feeling is when YA authors get together at events like these. He commented on how wonderful it would've been to attend high school with each other, and all of us immediately realized the truth in that statement. Even if I only see these authors once every few years, they are my friends.


On our final day in Chicago, Carolyn and I spoke in front of a huge roomful of people about how we wrote The Future of Us and why we decided to work together. One day, hopefully soon, we'll speak in a town near you!


And now, I'm on my way to the airport to spend Thanksgiving with my family.

Hopefully my seatmate lets me sleep!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sweet Satisfaction!

Carolyn Mackler and I wanted to physically see The Future of Us on bookstore shelves the first day of its release (which, y'know, is today!). Since we're both in Chicago for a conference, our lovely editor (and fellow author), Jocelyn Davies, found a store only a few blocks from our hotel.

Because we also wanted to sign whatever books they had in stock, we first made sure they had copies so we didn't embarrass ourselves. ("We're here to sign copies of The Future of Us. Oh, you don't? Oh...okay...so... Have a nice day!")

But they did have copies. Lots of copies! Actual books. In an actual store! We flipped them open to also see the actual words. And then, much like how we wrote the book, we both wanted to monitor what the other one was doing.


Then we got down to business. Along with signing the new book, we also signed copies of Thirteen Reasons Why and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.


But then I decided, even though I already had several free copies of The Future of Us at home, I wanted the joy of buying a copy.


Shortly after purchase, I flipped it open and told the very sweet person on the other side of the counter (Remember us, Christine?), that the dialogue sounded awfully familiar. I felt like I'd read the book before.


Christine said that was probably unlikely. "The book just came out today." But I was sure I'd read it, so I wanted to return the book. Although a bit confused, Christine returned it and gave me back my cash.

And Carolyn hid her face in her hands.


The real reason I did this is because I didn't want anyone else to have the sick satisfaction of being the first person to return a copy of the book. I wanted that person to be me!


Carolyn and Jocelyn left for previously scheduled meetings, and I stayed to browse. Within five minutes, a woman approached me. She was a teacher visiting from Minnesota, had just purchased a copy of The Future of Us, and was told I might still be in the store.

So thank you, Jennifer, for balancing out the first day sales!

HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY!!!

I live in California. Carolyn Mackler lives in New York. By some perfect alignment of the stars, we're both speaking at a conference in Chicago on the same day that the The Future of Us is released.

And that day is...

TODAY!!!

A few minutes before midnight, I was almost ready for bed, wearing my pajamas and the cheetah robe that had been hanging in the closet. Carolyn called me down to join her outside the hotel where all of the Penguin authors are staying. It was time for the big countdown! Our editor, Jocelyn Davies, was there to capture the moment.

video

We're going to spend the morning hopping in and out of bookstores, signing any copies they have in stock. In the evening, we'll join some of our favorite authors at Anderson's Bookshop for a massive YA signing.

And throughout the entire day, I'm sure I'll have a giddy energy making me extremely hyper and happy. I know it'll be annoying to anyone within fifty feet of me, but...oh well!

MY NEXT BOOK IS OUT TODAY!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Future Friday #13: Winner

Before I announce the winner, I want to thank all of you who entered any of the thirteen contests in our countdown to The Future of Us. Carolyn Mackler and I enjoyed reading every one of your comments. You've given us great suggestions for things to read and watch and listen to, made us laugh a lot, and brought tears to our eyes much more often than we expected.

Thank you so much for sharing with us.

And now...

Congratulations to Sabrina for being randomly selected to win the thirteenth and final round of Future Friday giveaways! To claim your goodies, send your mailing address to EmmaNelson4Ever@aol.com. If you don't know who Emma Nelson is, you will when you start reading The Future of Us!

Heading into Thanksgiving, Sabrina is thankful for "all of the writing I've been able to do (and have published) this past year and all of the wonderful people I've been able to meet and network with."

For those of you didn't win, you'll get your chance to find out who Emma Nelson is (as well as her next door neighbor, Josh Templeton) when our book is released this Monday, November 21st!

Carolyn and I barely knew each other when we began working on this book, but we became great friends during the process. It was the best writing experience either of us have ever had, and we can't wait for you to read the story that came out of that experience.

When you do read it, please let us know what you think!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Future Friday #13: Thankful

To countdown the release of The Future of Us (November 21st...this coming Monday!), Carolyn Mackler and I have been giving away one autographed Advance Reader’s Copy every week. Along with that autographed copy (signed by both of us), we’ve been tossing in another goodie that's book-related.

For our thirteenth and final giveaway, we're tossing in six bonus items. Along with the signed ARC of The Future of Us, you'll receive signed paperback editions of all six of our previous books. (Yes, Carolyn's published a lot more books than I have. Lay off!)

That's seven books and eight autographs for the price of...nothing!

We'll randomly select one person who comments on this Future Friday post to receive all of those books. There’s no need to leave your email address, but do check back on Saturday to see if you’ve won.

Since our book comes out on Monday, and Thursday is Thanksgiving, we decided to break from what we've traditionaly done in these contests. We're not going to ask you about the past or the future, we simply want to know about the present. Right now, which is the most important time of your time, what are you most thankful for?

Here are our answers:

JAY: I'm thankful for my wife, who knows all of my dreams and refuses to let me think they're anything but possible realities. I'm thankful for my son, who has no idea how beautiful he makes my world. I'm thankful for my family and friends who know the complete me, including the not-so-fun stuff that I don't blog about, and still provide me with all the support and love I need. And finally, I'm thankful to any scientist currently working to prove that onions are the source of all evil and, therefore, should be wiped out of existence.

CAROLYN: I'm thankful for my family. Simple as that. I'm thankful that I have a wonderful husband who loves me, who supports me through tough times and cheers my successes. I'm thankful for my two beautiful boys who are, every day, miracles to me. I'm thankful for my parents, who love me fiercely. I'm thankful for my friends, who are family to me. I feel very lucky in my life to be surrounded by so much love.

JAY & CAROLYN: We're thankful for our readers!



While you wait to see if you've won, check out some of the cool press The Future of Us has been getting recently:
Los Angeles Times - review
New York Times - review
Entertainment Weekly - interview
Publishers Weekly - interview
MTV Hollywood Crush - blog post

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Facematch

When Carolyn Mackler and I had one week left to edit The Future of Us, we began to get a bit loopy. Too many late nights, too many donuts (for me), and too much staring at the computer screen was a little...too much!

One evening, during a late night barrage of back-n-forth emails with my cross-country co-writer, one of us had a fascinating realization. Our book is set in 1996. Our characters initially have no idea what Facebook is, though it magically appears on one of their computers. So, when they search for their friends and family members in the future, the profile pictures they see then would be the same pictures we'd see if we searched those names today.

Thus began an absolutely hilarious (especially when you're tired) email exchange, linking to the various Facebook profiles our characters would find. And sometimes, the pictures they'd find, which just might be their friends/family, would have freaked them out!

But you know what's making me loopy right now? Knowing that my next book comes out in just a few days!!!

Speaking of... If you haven't seen the EW.com exclusive yet, here's the official book trailer for The Future of Us.

Did you notice that little stuffed animal next to Emma's computer? That's Snort, a Beanie Baby that Emma could've actually owned. And how do I know its name? Because my parents still own it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The U.K. Edition!





(Reminder: The American edition debuts next week. Make sure you've got your copy pre-ordered today!)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Last School Visit as a Debut Author

This is my favorite time to speak at schools around the country. I get to see something that doesn't happen much where I live. The trees change colors and a whole bunch of leaves fall to the ground. It's crazy! It's beautiful! And for some ridiculous reason, I forgot to take any photos of it.

But you know what else is crazy and beautiful? A hotel decorated by the guy who created the Precious Moments figurines.


The hotel has a Precious Moments gift shop, and two Precious Moments paintings in every room. And while I do think those big-eyed toddlers are...well...precious, their images can be kind of scary to wake up to in the middle of the night. It felt like the beginning of a Precious Final Moments horror movie.

But when the lights were on, yes, it was a very nice hotel.

Carthage High School (in Missouri) was also very nice. And whenever I get to a school and see my name on the marquee, I get both nervous and excited.


My teenage self would freak out to know I fly around the country to speak at high schools about being an author. He'd think it was both cool and scary.

And it is!

But mostly just cool.


On my first full day in Carthage, I spoke four times at the high school. Here, you can see my first Powerpoint slide, which is the cover of Thirteen Reasons Why.


That evening, I gave a presentation open to the public, attended by students and book club members from private schools and surrounding cities. The next day, I was back at Carthage High School for four more presentations.

At some point, I realized that this was my last school visit as a debut author. The next time I give a school presentation, my second book will be out. And here you can see me telling the students about that book, The Future of Us.


And when I came home, after being gone only three days, Isaiah showed me a new skill his mommy had taught him.

video

Future Friday #12: Winner

Congratulations to Selenia for being randomly selected to win the twelfth round of Future Friday giveaways! To claim your goodies, send your mailing address to EmmaNelson4Ever@aol.com. If you don't know who Emma Nelson is, you will when you start reading The Future of Us.

Selenia's favorite romantic comedy movie is Kate & Leopold. I've been meaning to watch this movie for a while, so now I'll bump it up to the top of my list.



See ya next Friday for your very last chance to win a signed Advanced Reader's Copy of The Future of Us!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Future Friday #12: Romantic Comedy Movies

To countdown the release of The Future of Us (November 21st!), Carolyn Mackler and I will give away one autographed Advance Reader’s Copy every week. Along with the autographed copy (signed by both of us), we’ll toss in another goodie that's book-related.

For our twelfth giveaway, the bonus item is a time-warp clock.


Yes, the clock actually works. And because we're so generous, we'll install a fresh battery and set it to your time zone before we mail it.

We'll randomly select one person who comments on this Future Friday post to receive both prizes. There’s no need to leave your email address, but do check back on Saturday to see if you’ve won.

This week, since we already asked you to tell us your favorite time travel movie and your favorite movie released in 1996, we want you to tell us your favorite romantic comedy. Here are a couple of rom-com lists to get you started.

And here are our answers:

CAROLYN:
It has to be When Harry Met Sally. It's perfect. I thought it at 16 and I think it now. Funny, heartfelt, quirky. It still holds up!

JAY:
50 First Dates. I expected this movie to be funny, but I didn't expect it to almost make me cry. I said 'almost' because I don't cry at movies. I don't! It was...um...a piece of popcorn in my eye. Buttered popcorn.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Playing...I Mean, Working...In Las Vegas

The past few days, I've been at the Vegas Valley Book Festival. I know most of the following pictures look like I was running around Vegas having a lot of fun. And yes, that is absolutely correct. But I was also there to work.

My first night in town, I attended the opening keynote by Max Brooks. He's the author of World War Z and is extremely funny. The entire time he spoke, I kept thinking, this guy should be a comedian. It wasn't until I got back to my hotel and did my research that I found out Max is the son of Mel Brooks.


Then I checked into my hotel, which had a shark tank!


Obviously, there are more than just card sharks in Vegas. (HA! HA! HA! HA! *ahem*) And that tube running down the middle? It's part of the waterslide! I so wanted to go down the slide, but like I said, I was there to work.

Of course, right outside my hotel was Fremont Street, which had some really cool coverbands playing. This one, called Arena, played the best hard rock songs from the 80s. Pour Some Sugar On Me. Bad Medicine. Runnin' With the Devil. Awesome!


And then there was an 80s pop coverband. Great songs and cheesy dancing!


And yes, I also worked. I spoke at two high schools. First, I spoke in an auditorium at Chaparral High School with a few hundred students, then a smaller room at Rancho High School where almost everyone in the room had read my book. Both visits were very fun...but they're still considered work!

That night, a flock/herd/pack of YA authors who were speaking at the festival were given complimentary tickets to see Blue Man Group. If you've never seen them, it is such an energetic, hilarious, insanely weird show (including Twinkie spewage)!

Here I am post-show with...um...Blue Man Solo?


Here's a long-shot of Fremont Street later that evening. See those people hanging on wires? They're actually sailing overhead on ziplines. And yes, I did rock that zipline!


Okay, back to work. Saturday moring, I walked down to the festival hub, where I spoke on two YA panels. But first, I chatted with the amazing people representing the It Gets Better Project. I purchased a shirt from Ross and Stephanie, and then they threw in a smaller shirt for Isaiah.


On the first panel, we discussed writing realistic fiction for teens. From left to right are moderator Lindsey Leavitt, Emily Wing Smith, Daisy Whitney, Lisa Schroeder, Liz Gallagher, and me.


The second panel discussed fiction that included a paranormal twist. Since The Future of Us fits nicely into this category, I got to speak again! But I jumped off the stage near the end of the panel to take this photo of Crystal Perkins (who coordinated the YA author events), moderator Daisey Whitney, Cat Patrick, Suzanne Young, Lindsey Leavitt, and Heather Davis.


There were even more great authors at this event that I had the opportunity to hang out with, but I'm going to have to end the post here. Las Vegas wore me out. So now I'm going to get some shut-eye in the airport. Since I missed my connection due to weather, this place is my new hotel.

And while I am tired, if they had a waterslide that went through a shark tank, I would definitely ride it before bed!