Sunday, February 24, 2013

Red Carpet Fantasies: Part II

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I get very excited to watch the Academy Awards each year. Not just because I get to eat my traditional pint of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby, but because I'm also a movie freak!

And one of my not-so-secret fantasies is to one day write an Oscar-nominated screenplay. Something just as exciting would be to have one of my novels turned into an Oscar-nominated adapted screenplay.

If either one of those things happen, hopefully I'll get the chance to walk down the red carpet. Of course, the question then becomes What will I wear? Or What shall I do with my hair?

So, with the help of InStyle's Hollywood Makeover, I decided to try on some hairdos of the nominated actresses (and one nominated singer) of 2013...

Amy Adams for The Master:

Adele for Skyfall:

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty:

Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables:

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook:

Naomi Watts for The Impossible:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Favorite Bad Review

I don't (usually) mind bad reviews. I don't!


Sometimes I even love bad reviews (but not very often). That's especially true when the review is for a book I didn't write, but which some people think I did write. That can happen when there's another author named Jay Asher. It's even more likely to happen when Goodreads tells people that the same Jay Asher who wrote Thirteen Reasons Why and co-wrote The Future of Us also wrote Love in Progress.

(He didn't.)

Here's my favorite review of the other Mr. Asher's book:
Not Jay Asher's best work. It felt sloppy and full of typo's. I don't know if this was released before 13 reasons why, but it felt a lot looser in terms of writing and story arc. I know he was trying to broach the subject of lesbianism, but I feel like he fell flat of the mark somewhat, as I kept imagining Jane as a male, not a female. A lesbian still thinks like a female, and I think that is the mistake Jay makes - her thoughts are frank and non-descriptive (although, kudos for researching some labels, though I doubt lesbians who describe themselves as Butch would care). Sorry Jay, I still love your other books.
That final sentence makes the entire mix-up (mostly) worth it!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

You're Retired From Valentine's Day, Charlie Brown!

This week, I officially became the child of two retired parents. (I feel so old!) On Tuesday, to celebrate my mom escaping...I mean, exiting...the workforce, a limo picked our family up and took us to dinner at the Madonna Inn.

(from left to right, in relation to Isaiah:
Grandpa, Daddy, Self, Grandma, Mommy, Auntie Sarah, Uncle Nate)
Isaiah loved sitting at the back of the "big car" in his carseat, where he could see all of our faces the entire time.

And congratulations, Momma!!!
On Valentine's Day, we had a potluck dinner at our house for friends and family. Appellation Bluegrass Band (featuring JoanMarie!), played in our living room.
The band usually plays in a pub, so Isaiah and I don't get to see them perform very often. It's not that I can't go into a pub, I'm just usually watching Isaiah during the gigs. (But that's awesome that you thought I might be under 21! Unfortunately, like I said, both of my parents are retired.)

On Saturday, JoanMarie and I went to a local production of God Sees Dog: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead at The SPOT. If you've followed this blog for a while, or heard me give an author talk, you may already know what a huge Peanuts fan I am. This play imagines what might happen to the Peanuts gang when they reach high school. There are definite reasons the writer had to come up with creative ways to avoid actual character names from the comic strip. With swearing, substance abuse, sex, and suicide (four Ss the Snoopy gang managed to avoid), I'm sure the estate of Charles Schulz wanted to stay away from endorsing this. And as a Peanuts aficionado, I was nervous.
But because the theater owner (and this show's director), Jake Liam McGuire, personally invited us, and because I love supporting local arts, I almost had to go.
And now for the verdict...
The acting was wonderful! Everyone was so natural and perfect in their roles. And while it was unnerving to see what becomes of this version of the Peanuts gang (which is totally not what really happens!), if I pretended it was a play about teens I didn't know, it was intense and sad and funny. But how was it if I couldn't let go of the fact that I will always be a Peanuthead? It was still sad, and also darkly funny because of in-jokes, but at the very very end, it becomes astoundingly beautiful!
It was great to meet you, Jake! We can't wait to check out your next show.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Teens Know Best

On my first trip to Minnesota, I spoke at a college. Second trip, I spoke at a library. Most recently, this past weekend, I spoke in a church. (Being an author is so weird.)

This visit was part of their Teens Knows Best author series. If you live anywhere near the Twin Cities, you must check out their upcoming YA authors: Steve Brezenoff, Lauren Myracle, Jordan Sonnenblick, Neal Shusterman, Andrea Cremer, Tamora Pierce, and Barry Lyga.

The view from the stage is always great. What's not to love? Everyone in the audience is there to hear me talk about writing! (Even when only four or five people show up, it's still fun.) But sometimes the location itself provides an inspiring view.

Speaking from a pulpit for the first time, it would've been cool if I'd thought to wear a flowing white robe, but I just went with my traditional Author Attire.

Addendum Books in St. Paul (a children's and YA bookstore!) provided the books for my signing.

They also brought a lampshade for me to sign, which had already been signed by several other authors. Why a lampshade? Because it looks cool when lit up in their store, and also lends itself to a very cool metaphor.

Of course, as a huge Charles Schulz and Peanuts fan, being in the Twin Cities is a time to reflect on the man's awesomeness and influence on me. Sparky (that's what his friends and wannabe him) was born in Minneapolis and raised in St. Paul, and there are reminders of him throughout the area. For example, in the airport you can find the World War I Flying Ace himself!

(Mr. Schulz passed away 13 years ago today.
A moment of silence, please...)

Minnesota was also a place I got to have some fun with another creative project I've been working on. In fact, it's something I began working on in junior high. And if this thing comes together like I hope it does, I can't wait to tell you all about it very soon!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

It Starts With Me: Journey of Hope

When I was trying to write funny books for young children, I never would have imagined I would one day be speaking at conferences dealing with suicide and bullying. Within the past several days, I spoke at two of those conferences, and it was a huge honor to participate.

First, I spoke at an event at Cuesta College. It Starts WithMe: Creating a Community Without Bullying was an all-day event. Some speakers shared personal stories of being bullied, most gave tools to address and combat the issue, and a lot of time was spent just trying to define bullying.

I gave a breakout presentation focusing on Thirteen Reasons Why. It was the first time I shared my reasons for writing each chapter in the book.

Then I gave a presentation to all of the attendees, having to stop to keep the tears in check more than I ever have in one of these presentations. Mostly, that was because I could see tears being wiped away by several people in the audience. Feeling so connected with them over an issue I care so much about is overwhelmingly beautiful.
(Okay, you're right, they don't look like they're crying in this photo.
It was taken when I was being introduced!)
Three other authors who spoke were JodeeBlanco, Trudy Ludwig, and Kathryn Otoshi. Getting to meet or get reacquainted with them during our lunchtime book signing was a definite highlight.

Yesterday, I gave a presentation at New Life Church for Journey of Hope 2013, put on by Transitions-Mental Health Association. This conference raised awareness about suicide, with over 30 organizations represented in the lobby, places people can turn to if they needed help, or where they can find help for others.

The stories shared on that stage brought so many people to tears. Because I was speaking near the end, I was just glad I wasn’t wearing mascara. (And yes, that was the first thing I said when I stepped in front of the microphone. Sorry, it just came out!) After my keynote, they played my wife’s recorded version of Soul Alone, which also plays at the end of the Thirteen Reasons Why audiobook. The lyrics to that song make up Hannah’s poem in the book.

The woman sitting just to the left of the podium in the first photo is Wendy Thies Sell, the event’s emcee. At the very end, we both went back onstage for a fun Q&A. 

After the program, I sold out of both Thirteen Reasons Why and The Future of Us. So I came up with a plan and met several of the attendees at the Barnes & Noble a few cities over for an impromptu book signing.
Thankfully, I didn't know KSBY was filming my presentation earlier that evening. Knowing 500 pairs of eyes were on me was plenty!