Wednesday, January 27, 2010

All About 9 1/2

While cleaning out my writing room today, I came across a Creative Writing assignment...from 1985!

For this fourth grade assignment, Mrs. Pryor assigned each letter a word, and then we wrote something about ourselves based on each word.

I obviously had a crush on her.

I still hate going to bed. In fact, I think I'll stay up and post this at 10:30pm...on a weeknight!

In a few years, he's going to love loud & screeching rock & roll noise.

Notice that the apostrophe is right above the S. I still do that!

Just yesterday, I was looking at the bright green hills and thick clouds, wishing I could fly around them.

And now, I'm posting an assignment from that year on my blog.

9 1/2 year old me: "What in the world is a blog???"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Two Happy Clips (totally unrelated)

Earlier this week, as I hope you all know, the ALA gave out its book awards. I woke up at 4am to hear the winners announced live and was very pleased by the selections. As far as the books I'd never heard about (which always happens with these things), I am now happy to know about them!

I didn't post anything on my blog following the announcements because I didn't feel there was anything I could add to the conversation...and I was just too dang busy reading what everyone else had to say!

But today I found this clip, and I wanted to share it with any of you who haven't seen it. I was just so moved by how happy (and maybe slightly dazed by the whirlwind) Rebecca Stead and Jerry Pinkney looked during their Today Show visit. This was taped just one day after they received The Big News. Be prepared to share in their joy!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And now, just because this trailer for an upcoming movie has my still hyperactive inner '80s-child flipping out, I present to you...


Monday, January 18, 2010

King o' The Road

Today I finished reading the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. Later in the day, while reading The New York Times, something odd caught my eye...

As mentioned in a previous post, I absolutely love Stephen King’s EW column, “The Pop of King”. His latest column is called Decoding Movie Blurbs. He translates what it really means when an ad claims a movie is “Delightfully funny!” or “Fun for the whole family!”

Uncle Stevie also offers this translation:
“One of the best films of the year!” This is the Mother of All Blurbs, most commonly sighted on TV and in newspapers around awards season. TRANSLATION: “It’s not.”
Got it!

But now check out this ad from The New York Times:

(Yes, it is awards season.)

Several times, I have purchased c.d.s, read books, and seen movies based on Mr. King’s recommendations. And he’s been right every time!

But now...which Uncle Stevie do I believe?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Worth 3,000 Words...At Least!

Eventually, a paperback edition of Thirteen Reasons Why will come out. One day. At least, that's what I'm told. I just don't know when. But when it does, it'll include a brand new author photo!

Now, I love my previous author photo. It has served me well. But I don't have hairs on my chinny-chin-chin anymore (there are also a few less on my scalpy-scalp-scalp), and I don't want to be one of those authors who makes an appearance and you immediately see everyone turn to the author photo in their book. You know they're thinking, "When was this photo taken?"

Several months ago, I went down to the UCLA campus with my friend, Rita Crayon Huang. Rita is a photographer as well as an up-and-coming children's book star, which is why I thought it'd be cool to ask her to take my photos. So we wandered around the campus looking for nice settings with good lighting. Apparently, it's all about the lighting! We took hundreds of pics and I chose three that I liked, each to be used for various functions.

The first photo below will appear in black-and-white, taking up the entire inside of the back cover in the paperback...when there is a paperback. The other photos will be used for interviews and to promote author appearances.

So? Whatcha think?

Thanks for the great photos, Rita! I am very proud to have them out there representing me.

And for any of you California authors or illustrators looking to have some photos taken, definitely contact Rita. She comes highly recommended.

Monday, January 11, 2010


This is way too awesome to not tell you about.

Last week, my bro-in-law was in New Zealand attending Unicon XV -- the Unicycle World Championships and Convention. Corbin is now the unicycle marathon world champion!

Congratulations, Corbin!!!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

He was much more than a little green slab of clay

He was once a little green slab of clay.

You should see what Gumby can do today.

He can walk into any book, with his pony pal Pokey, too.
If you've got a heart then Gumby's a part of you.

In case you haven't heard, Art Clokey died Friday morning. Mr. Clokey created Gumby, one of my favorite childhood cartoons. His animation style had such an influence on me, I wanted to be a claymation animator for a while. In fact, for a seventh grade art project, I created a short claymation cartoon featuring a magician who pulled a rabbit out of his hat then turned the wand on himself to make himself disappear. One day I'll digitize that film and show it you. (Yes, I used old school 8mm film, which you edited by splicing the film apart and then taping it back together. Very awesome!)

Several years ago, I had the chance to meet Mr. Clokey in person because he was a friend of a friend. I was so nervous -- starstruck! -- that I couldn't find the courage to ask for a photo.

But I did bring my Gumby for him to sign.

My signed Gumby is a permanent fixture on my writing desk, leaning against the foreign editions of Thirteen Reasons Why, with his arm around the topper of my wedding cake.

Who Will be Tangled Everafter?

The winner of Carolyn Mackler's Tangled, Amy Huntley's The Everafter, and a signed copy of Thirteen Reasons Why is...

Amanda Hewer

You were chosen, thanks to the good people at, to receive these three books. Congratulations, Amanda!!! (I sent a message to your MySpace account to get some shipping info from you.)

For the rest of you almost-winners, there will be more giveaways in the near future. Now go buy yourselves a copy of those Mackler and Huntley books immediately!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tangled Everafter

Here’s all you’ve gotta do: Leave your name in the comments section by 11:59pm on Friday night. One name will be chosen at random to win three free books, so check back on Saturday to see if the chosen name is yours.

Yes, it’s that easy!

So which three books are you hoping to win? One is an autographed copy of Thirteen Reasons Why (I’ve got connections). The other books, Tangled and The Everafter, weren’t written by me, but I loved reading them both and would love to share those reading experiences with you. In fact, I enjoyed the books so much that their jackets contain miniature fan letters written by me (otherwise known as blurbs).

The first book, The Everafter, was written by debut author Amy Huntley. I first cracked open this book on a cross-country flight and was instantly intrigued by the concept. But I felt there was no way the originality of the premise would hold up through an entire novel. I was totally wrong! It’s a very creative and satisfying book and I stayed on the plane a few minutes after it landed and everyone else got off just so I could finish it.

Jacketflap copy for Amy Huntley’s The Everafter:

Madison Stanton doesn’t know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this—she is dead. And alone, in a vast, dark space. The only company she has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things Maddy lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that with these artifacts, she can re-experience—and sometimes even change—moments from her life.

Her first kiss.

A trip to Disney World.

Her sister’s wedding.

A disastrous sleepover.

In reliving these moments, Maddy learns illuminating and sometimes frightening truths about her life—and death.

This is a haunting and ultimately hopeful novel about the beauty of even the most insignificant moments—and the strength of true love even beyond death.
I began reading Tangled, by Printz-honor winning Carolyn Mackler, while aboard a plane, as well. But that flight was a shorter one and they wouldn’t let me stay in my seat after we landed to keep reading, so when I got to my hotel I immediately ordered room service and stayed up until I finished the book. Ms. Mackler is the Queen of Characters. I would read one of her books simply to fall in love with the people she writes about, and the four stories tangled together in her latest book are just as real and captivating as the characters who inhabit them.

Jacketflap copy for Carolyn Mackler’s Tangled:

Paradise wasn’t supposed to suck.

Not the state of being, but a resort in the Caribbean.

Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all there for different reasons, but at Paradise their lives become tangled together in ways none of them can predict. Paradise will change them all.

It will change Jena, whose first brush with romance takes her that much closer to having a life, and not just reading about those infinitely cooler and more exciting.

It will change Dakota, who needs the devastating truth about his past to make him realize that he doesn’t have to be a jerk just because people think he’s one.

It will change Skye, a heartbreakingly beautiful actress, who must come to terms with the fact that for once she has to stop playing a role or face the consequences.

And it will change Owen, who has never risked anything before and who will take the leap from his online life to a real one all because of a girl he met at Paradise….

From confused to confident and back again, one thing’s certain: Four months after it all begins, none of them will ever be the same.

Free books! Free books! Free books!

(Notice: Don't worry if your comment doesn't appear right away, it will go up. I just have to approve it manually. That's why a couple of the people who've already left comments thought they were the first. When they left their comments, I hadn't approved any yet. Oops!)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Book Drop

Since mid-November, my writing room has been stuffed with presents, wrapping paper, luggage, and furniture (temporarily stored here to accommodate a tree in the living room). But all of that stuff is finally gone!

So why does it still look so messy in here?

As many people have told me, "It's the books!"

On my desk, I've got my inspirational writing books, like Stephen King's On Writing and Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing, as well as the foreign editions of Thirteen Reasons Why. On a stand to the right of my desk are my Harry Potters. On a shelf beside the stand are a whole bunch of advance reader copies for upcoming teen novels (a few of which are going to be huge hits).

On the floor to the left are our yearbooks. Beside the yearbooks is a bookcase with five shelves packed tight with autographed children's books. It's hard to pull out one book without a few more falling to the floor. The top shelf has pop-up and picture books. The next two shelves are hardcover novels, followed by two shelves of paperbacks.

The bookcase on the opposite wall has eight shelves. Four shelves contain unsigned children's books, and the rest hold various adult fiction and non-fiction titles.

And then there's the closet. Inside, two shelves hold books two layers deep.

And then there are the scattered piles in front of the bookcases, near the desk, and beside the guest bed. Those piles are made up of books I've read parts of and plan to get back to, just bought and haven't had time to crack open, or need to return to the library. I'm pretty sure it's the piles on the floor that are causing the problem, but I simply have nowhere to put them!


I've decided it's time to do something drastic. It's time to get rid of some of them. I'll donate some to the library, some to the homeless shelter, and take some to a used book store. Getting rid of books is something I've never done before.

What if I suddenly find time to read The Historian?

What if I want to read All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten again?

What if someone comes over who's never read Growing Up Brady?

But it's time. Yes, it's time. It's time! (Sorry, sometimes I have to say it over and over because I start to rationalize why I need to keep every single one.)

It'll probably take me the rest of the month to slowly weed through the books. I'm guessing thirty minutes a day is all I'll be able to handle emotionally. How do you tell a book that it's wisdom will never be needed again...ever!

So wish me luck.

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you about the six boxes of books my mom and dad were storing in their attic. Yep, I'm going through those, too.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Welcome to Whatever-you-call-it!

We just got home from ringing in the new year at Yosemite National Park. The big question at the New Years bash regarded how to pronounce the brand spankin' new calendar year.

Two-thousand ten?

Twenty ten?

What are you calling it?

JoanMarie and I honeymooned at Yosemite seven years ago, and we'd always wanted to go back during the winter. Of course, that meant putting chains on the tires of our car, which is something I wasn't totally excited about since I'd never done it and it's kind of an important task that you want to do correctly. The second tire was a lot easier than the first.

If you've ever been to Yosemite, you know how breathtaking that first view is when you come out of the tunnel. If you've never been, this photo does not do it justice. Please do yourself a favor and check it out in person!

The snow covering the ground and accenting the trees and valley walls was absolutely beautiful and magical. That's El Capitan, the world's largest granite monolith, behind the trees.

The view in the summer is just as inspiring, and you can't climb Half Dome in the winter (which is something we did on our honeymoon).

I almost bought a hat featuring Half Dome from the gift shop, but my self-conscious side wouldn't let me open my wallet. See, if your hairline is receding and you own a Half Dome hat, it just seems like you're begging for someone to crack a joke.


Bridalveil Fall is the first waterfall we came to, and I used that stop to fill up my canteen.

JoanMarie decided to drink straight from the source.

Any guesses what this spot, where JoanMarie is taking a timeout for some yoga, is called?

Answer: Mirror Lake. Betcha can guess why!

After a timeout to just admire the beauty, then it's appropriate to have an all out snowball fight...but be sure your camera's waterproof first.

I have no idea why, but neither of us got the hang of cross-country skiing. Going uphill, for some odd reason, is easier than going down. Were we doing something wrong?

At least I never fell while ice skating. And skating outdoors at Yosemite, I'm sure, has ruined all other outdoor skating sessions for me. Especially when the full moon lights up the gigantic rock walls all around.

The main reason we went to Yosemite this particular week was to welcome the new year. The big gala took place two floors below our room at the Ahwahnee Hotel, which is almost as impressive as the God-created architecture around it.


But before I show you the photos of our costumes...I mean, our formal wear...does anyone know how to use soap like this? It's a lot more difficult than I assume the designer intended. It almost makes as much sense as cross-country skiing.

And here we are, heading into dinner, feeling like we finally got to go to prom together.

One moment which made me feel like a total rock star was when, upon giving my name to the photographer, the woman behind me asked, "Are you Jay Asher the author?"

JoanMarie thought it was just as cool as I did!

Then we ate. We danced. We ate. Then we danced. And then we did all of that a few more times.

When midnight came, confetti rained down, and an ice sculpture was illuminated outside.

And just to be a rebel, I've decided to call this year Two-hundred-one zero.