Author Archives: Mike Jung

Enter the Dragon, Exit the Man in Spandex

NO, I’M NOT THE MAN IN SPANDEX – I’m talking about Captain Stupendous, the superhero in my book. Sheesh. Although I’m the one who’s exiting the blog, so I guess I am the man in spandex…? NO NO NO. No one wants that.

I was initially reluctant to join EMU’s Debuts, if you can believe that coming from an apparently rabid joiner-type person like me, but it’s true. “Oh no, what if it’s too much work, oh geez, I’m worried about stretching myself thin, oh man, I hear Jeannie Mobley has no shame when it comes to Photoshop…” I had all kinds of reasons to turn down Jeannie’s invitation. I’m so glad I put them aside and joined anyway.

Things have changed since the Original Eight EMUs launched this dog and pony show a couple of years ago, which was kind of the point, now that I think about it – we chronicled those changes as our books made the mysterious and sometimes nerve-racking voyage from publisher acquisition to honest-to-gosh marketplace availability, right? Expectations, challenges, roles, perceptions (internal and external), and insecurity triggers have all changed.

Have I changed as well? I suppose so. I’m not one of those admirable people who’ve spent the whole of their lives pursuing their biggest, boldest dreams – for years and years I seemed to lack whatever the requirements are for engaging in that kind of pursuit. Bravery, perhaps; confidence, probably; and discipline, most definitely. I’ve also grappled with that hoary old bugaboo known to so many of us, fear of failure. I guess it is a significant marker of change to say that I’ve learned to cope with those things well enough to start my career – I obviously wouldn’t have landed an agent and a book deal without working through those issues to at least some extent.

Stepping into a life of published authorhood has provoked other changes as well. The transition from aspiring author to no-longer-aspiring author has been eye-opening in some ways, if only because I’ve never been a genuine public figure before. It’s not that my movements are being tracked by paparazzi or anything, but it’s also true that I give more thought to my lunatic rantings before going public with them. It’s also true that I find myself in contact with all kinds of people who actually have no real pre-existing personal relationship with me – it’s rather startling to be approached by people who ONLY know me as an author. Does that change the way I interact with the world at large? Well sure, of course it does. Whether it changes it for better or worse is at least partly a matter of perspective, but it undoubtedly does change it.

I also changed in a way that’s entirely predictable in retrospect – sappy and melodramatic guy that I am, I grew attached to my fellow EMUs. These people are my friends, you know? We’ve shared a lot of experiences along the way, a noteworthy chunk of them at the EMLA retreat in July. They’ve had my back, and I’ve tried to reciprocate. Experiencing change is usually not easy, even when the changes are as exciting and longed-for as the ones I’ve been going through, but it’s definitely easier when you have comrades-in-literary-arms who are having similar experiences.

And now I’ve undergone the change which caps my tenure in the EMU’s Debuts blog community: I’ve debuted. My book is out there in the world. I’m a published author, babies. And this is one of those tricky statements to make publicly, because it clearly falls under the category of “problems I actually want to have,” but there are some teensy, tiny, bittersweet elements to this change. I’ll never have any of these experiences for the first time again, for example. Not exactly a dagger in the chest, but it is a genuine source of wistfulness. And I must leave the EMUs and make room for new arrivals like Josh McCune, whose Monday post clearly signals that the quality of the blogging around here will only get better.

I’m the last of the Original Eight to launch my book, which might be making me feel particularly drippy and sentimental, but by now that’s hardly a surprise to anyone reading this blog, right? It’s been a great two years, full of laughs, moral support, professional wisdom, and fun. This isn’t really the end of my relationship with the EMUs, of course – I’ll have emeritus status, I’ll certainly read and comment on posts from next-generation EMUs, and there are industry events and EMLA retreats to look forward to. Still, I’m having a big mush attack anyway. Thank you, my friends. It was an honor to be counted among your number, and being a part of this group has made the journey from deal to debut a little bit easier, a little more comprehensible, and a lot more meaningful.

Au revoir,
Mike

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It’s blastoff time for LEAGUE OF STRAYS!

LEAGUE OF STRAYS by L.B. SchulmanThe 2010 San Francisco North & East Bay SCBWI Conference was a pretty big deal for me – I got to meet two people who’ve become increasingly important to me since then. The first was my fabulous agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, of whom much has been said on this blog. The second was the author whose razor-sharp literary debut we’re celebrating today, Lisa Schulman, aka L.B. Schulman.

I knew I was gonna like Lisa right away, if only because she came right up to me and introduced herself – I like that, you know? Takes the heat off of introverted little me. I’d accepted Joan’s offer of representation mere weeks before, so it was very gratifying and just kind of cool to know that Lisa and I spanned the full chronological breadth of Joan’s list (which has grown since then, of course).

We’d both very recently landed our book deals, our books ended up sharing the same official release date, and of course we’re both among the charter members of the EMU’s Debuts blogging community. It’s been a privilege to have a comrade like Lisa during this journey,  and those of you who also know her are well aware how lucky we are to count her among our friends.

So, it’s my great pleasure to kick off this, our week-long celebration of the pyrotechnic explosion of YA excellence known as LEAGUE OF STRAYS. We’re dealing a full deck of thought-provoking discussion, examinations of craft, and industry insight. We’re also giving away a signed copy of LEAGUE, and it’s easy-peasy, yo: just leave a comment on any post this week and you’re in. So easy, right? We shall now begin with something brand-spanking new: a Zombie Buddy/Santa Duck vlog clip that features, for the first time ever, a guest star! Who is it? Hint: he has great hair.

Buy LEAGUE OF STRAYS at IndieBound, Book Passage (Lisa’s local independent bookstore, you can order a signed copy there), Powell’s, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

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And the winner is…

Nerve champions

Thank you everyone for participating in our blog on blog dare challenge last Friday with the FridayTheThirteeners. We had a blast and hope you did too. Now, you probably want to know which blog won this heated, epic battle. Well, wonder no more. After days spent in a smoky room with only Mountain Dew and Twinkies to sustain them, the High Council on Authors Making Idiots of Themselves could not break the deadlock, and hereby deem it a tie.

Although the overall challenge ended in a dead heat, we here at EMU’s Debuts wanted to take a moment to recognize our opponents and award the one we thought showed the most nerve in their dare.

  • For outstanding concept and production, and for inspiring their actors to dig deep for their performances: Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman!
  • For introducing a whole new generation of girls to He-Man’s hair bangs: Kasie West!
  • For showing us that great literature can make even sprinkles appear menacing: J.R. Johansson!
  • For rocking a foreign language and pig nose with perfect aplomb: Alexandra Duncan!
  • Finally, for donning orange makeup that probably left a tinge for days, and keeping a straight face while she scared us away from carrots for life, the video we feel took the most nerve was: Mindy McGinnis!

One last item to wrap things up. The lucky commenter who won a signed copy of NERVE is mfantaliswrites! (If your email isn’t accessible via your wordpress ID, please contact: jamr88 at gmail dot com.)

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Hooray for Kids Who Read!

A GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES book report tweet!

My crazed burst of enthusiasm about this may have frightened Cynthia’s son, but THIS IS SO GREAT!!

It’s two weeks until the official release date for GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES. The deal-to-debut journey has been…let’s just say it hasn’t been short. However, it’s also been incredibly eventful, and full of people whose presence in my life I’ve grown to treasure. I’ve shepherded my book into the hands of a whole slew of different communities – my critique partners, a gaggle of agents with varying levels of interest, MY agent, the stellar people of Arthur A. Levine Books, and finally, at long last, readers.

Actual readers! Holy cow! They are the whole point of the endeavor, after all. They’re also the ones who finally and irrevocably take the book all the way out of our hands, because after all these years of writing and revising and rewriting and editing and promoting and gnashing our teeth, our readers will be the first people to experience our books in a way that we, the authors and illustrators, have no active involvement in.

All of we debut authors are dealing with reviews, sales numbers, event attendance, marketing, publicity, and so on and so forth. Believe me, I’m thinking about those things as much as anyone else – I want this to go well. I want a commercially viable career, and I’m willing to do everything within my means to up the odds of having one. However, I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that all the business-oriented stuff is, in a very real way, secondary to the true endgame: that moment when a child picks up my book, opens the cover, and starts reading it.

Readers who aren’t children are vitally important too, of course. Parents owe it to their children to be informed about their reading choices. Teachers and librarians deserve our gratitude and praise every single day for getting books into the hands of their students and patrons. Booksellers are indispensable partners in building sustainable literary careers. And according to this recent article in Publisher’s Weekly, YA authors continue to reap the benefits of a vast influx of adult book buyers and readers.

I write middle-grade, however, so I feel no ambiguity about my audience. My core readers are kids. 9-12 is the industry-defined age range, but there’ll be some younger, and some older. Some of them, like 11-year-old Curious Cup Bookstore reviewer Eli or 11-year-old Porter Square Books reviewer Tony, will like the book, and even say so publicly. Others, like Kari Anne Holt’s son, will dismiss the book outright. And I really don’t expect many kids to do book reviews about GEEKS, but then again, Cynthia Olomolu’s son is! So you never know.

With any luck there’ll be a plethora of other kids too, kids who love love love it, kids who think it’s okay but not as good as WIMPY KID, kids who think it’s stupid, kids who find it so boring that they drop it on the floor after the first page…the reactions will be all over the map. But all of those reactions will be valid, you know?

If I ever hear about a child who reads my book and dislikes it, well, I probably won’t ENJOY hearing it, but I’ll defend that kid’s right to her own opinion with my dying breath. She’ll be the one who genuinely closes the circle on my journey to publication. That doesn’t happen when the release date arrives, or we throw launch parties (as fun as that is), or we first see our book on the shelf of our local indie bookstore or library. The circle closes when a girl or boy decides to read the flipping book. THAT is the moment we’re all truly waiting for.

I kinda want us all to go outside, raise our arms to the sky, and shout out our gratitude for all the amazing children out there who read books. At the 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference, legendary author Gary Schmidt said that we are called to service, and I couldn’t agree more. As the creators of children’s literature, our role is to cherish the children who read our work.

How lucky are we to have the opportunity to fill that role? We’re so lucky! Despite all the issues we face with literacy and education, despite how cruelly difficult this industry can be for its practitioners, we get to create work that ultimately ends up in the hands of readers!

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It’s the HENRY FRANKS Weeklong Launch Party Hootenanny!

HENRY FRANKS at the Flux booth at ALA12

Look at the publisher love for HENRY FRANKS at ALA12! They made a poster, for crying out loud!

Hey there devotees of the Emu, it’s time to launch another sterling debut book into the world – it’s Peter Salomon‘s creeptastic, Frankenstein-inspired, downtown-thrillville horror novel HENRY FRANKS! Henry, world, world, Henry. I got my first taste of Peter’s take on tampering with the laws of nature at the 2012 American Library Association conference, where HENRY FRANKS was prominently featured at the Flux booth, where I also heard a slew of enthusiastic talk about Peter and his book.

Among the book launchish delights ahead are interviews with Brian Farrey-Latz (a.k.a. Peter’s editor at Flux), Lisa Novak (a.k.a. the HENRY FRANKS cover artist), and Ammi-Joan Paquette (a.k.a. Peter’s agent, my agent, and the best agent in the world except for Erin Murphy and Trish Lawrence who are tied with Joan), and a post about Frankensteinish food. However, we’ve chosen to kick off the week’s festivities with the silliest and least informative portion, a new video clip featuring Zombie Buddy and Santa Duck. Err, sorry?

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Stages 2, or, That Part When Things Get Kinda Nuts

Well, ok, even published authors should avoid THIS kind of extreme.

Well, ok, even published authors should avoid going to THIS kind of extreme.

Lisa Schulman gave a very crisp, accurate breakdown of the 8 stages of a writing career up till the actual book deal. I’m going to be far less sensible and concrete about it by jumping ahead to later stages, like so:

Stage 9: That Stage When You Realize It’s Become a Lot Harder to Divide Things Clearly Into a Linear Sequence of Stages

The editorial process is a ginormous thing, of course, and it goes on for a loooooong while, but it’s also pretty clearly defined – editorial letter, line edits, more line edits, first pass pages, second pass pages, galley proofing, more galley proofing, etc. What’s on my mind is really the stuff that happens outside of and after the editorial process, and from my currently brain-dead perspective it seems like it all happens AT THE SAME FLIPPING TIME, AAAGH! So I’m going to boldly redefine Lisa’s stage structure.

Concurrent Stage 9A: Losing the “Don’t Be a Needy Twit or You’ll Never Get a Piece of the Action” Attitude

This was (and still is) a little hard. I’m pretty good at internalizing advice – perhaps a little too good at it – and I readily took in all the prevailing wisdom about not being entitled, demanding, or presumptive during stages 1-8. Didn’t want to blow my chances, you know?

But it’s all different now! I CAN ASK FOR STUFF! For example, I’m gonna print up one nifty little giveaway item for use at my launch party, and I actually asked if Scholastic would be willing to chip in on the expense. The nerve, you say! Money-grubbing punk! I understand, don’t worry – when you say “money-grubbing punk,” what you mean is SCHOLASTIC AUTHOR.

The thing is, I’m no longer yearning desperately to just get my foot in the door, and as a result I don’t have to worry about asking for stuff that I shouldn’t be asking for. At this point, it’s better for me to ask MORE questions and make MORE requests, about which I cannot lie – it’s awesome.

Concurrent Stage 9B: Booking and Attending Events Where You’re Gonna Do More than Just Hang Out and Drink

Psssst…I’m actually not much of a drinker. One’s pretty much my limit these days. However, I did just go to the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, and lo and behold, I did a signing! It was craaaaazy, dude. Big lines of people, galleys of GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES in a pile, wonderful Scholastic people like Roz Hilden showing me the ropes, hanging out with my beloved editor Arthur Levine…I loved it.

It definitely required a different mindset to sign books than it does to GET them signed, though. For the first time, I was at a big industry event as a working author, which meant interacting with people in a much more focused, wide-awake manner than I usually have at those things. I tried to be as gracious as I could be (a ceiling of debatable height) and to show as much gratitude as I genuinely felt (quite a lot, actually).

ALA was just the start, of course. October is when the fecal matter really hits the primitive air-circulation device, with five gen-yoo-wine author events packed together in close proximity. Mercy. Which brings me to my final stage…

Concurrent Stage 9C: Realizing that the Lazy Days of Spending Four Years Writing Your Manuscript Without All the “I’m Getting Published” Stuff Are Over

Just to provide a spot of clarity here: there’s a prevailing bit of wisdom that pre-published writers should cherish their ability to luxuriate in the writing process when it’s still free of contractually imposed deadlines and whatnot. I do think there’s merit to that idea, but I personally didn’t feel that way in my pre-published days – it felt like an eternally long slog, with no clue as to the finish line’s whereabouts. The new pressures and demands of published authorhood are very, very welcome, because they’re part of the fabulous grab-bag of publication.

It IS still an adjustment, though, and not a small one, because while I did a lot of research and networking in my non-pubbed, unagented days, I didn’t do anything like what I’m doing now, which includes event planning, online promotion, signings, talking with my publicist, talking with my regional sales rep, researching a new book, writing the book that I’m researching…it does feel rather like a piano’s been dropped on my head. A good piano, don’t get me wrong! A happy, sparkly piano carved out of ethically harvested baby unicorn horns!

There are more of these concurrent steps, of course – I haven’t even touched the question of reviews – but you get the picture. The stages, they get all bollixed up and mixed together! Chaos descends! It starts raining frogs! Wouldn’t that be messed up, if it started raining frogs?

Err, sorry, got distracted there – I just want to say one more thing before I go. I particularly like Lisa’s description of stage 8, because it contains a bit of advice that I think is relevant during every one of my so-called “concurrent” stages.

Celebrate. Celebrate EVERYTHING. There are so many things worth celebrating, so many moments to enjoy to the fullest, so much satisfaction and wonder and pure, high-octane joy to be had! Don’t let ANY of it slip through your fingers if you can help it.

m.

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When Humor and Sincerity Collide, KAPOW

At the risk of sounding overly fond of myself, I think I’ve established a bit of a reputation as a funny writer – Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities has gotten a few blurbs that mention it being funny, and humor’s one of those things I’ve gotten positive feedback about over the past few years. I’m comfortable with that, since I like books that are amusing, and I want to write books that I myself would like.

I AM trying to break your heart, in fact.

Geeks isn’t my only published thingie coming out this year, however – I also have an essay in Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves, the Zest Books anthology edited by kidlit stalwarts E. Kristen Anderson and Miranda Kenneally. When I wrote my original post for the Dear Teen Me blog, I got a few comments about “oh hey, I was expecting to read this and laugh, but instead you made me cry! DAMN YOU, MIKE JUNG, DAMN YOU FOR MAKING ME WEEP…”

Okay, I made up that last part with the all caps and stuff. But it was clear I’d upended some expectations about my writing style, and I was actually very happy about that because…well, I don’t want to be pigeonholed. Who does, right? It’s not that I plan to start writing emotionally wrenching contemporary realistic fiction tomorrow, of course, although I suspect I’ll give it a whirl one of these days.

Mike’s Favorite Book of 2010? SUPERZERO’s  a serious contender.

The thing which I’m working hard to figure out is how to keep humor and emotional sincerity in alignment with each other. A book that does this very, very well is Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich‘s 8TH GRADE SUPERZERO, a serious contender for Mike’s Favorite Book of 2010. It’s a profoundly meaningful book that explores questions of religious faith, social justice in both theory and practice, how we define our identities and self-worth, activism, and civic engagement. It’s intelligent, informed, and steeped in humanistic values, which could easily make for a book that’s didactic and overly earnest.

But SUPERZERO is also one of the most riotously funny books I’ve read in recent years, and its humor isn’t compartmentalized from its intelligence and sincerity. There’s a scene where the protagonist, Reggie McKnight, tosses off a flippant little statement that riffs on the topic of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – I literally laughed out loud when I read it, and thought to myself “HOW did she do that?” It was like a perfect synthesis of ideological meaning, personal history, and straightforward tween humor. I still marvel at the way Gbemi did that – she stirred up a laugh riot, but she didn’t compromise a single thing to do so.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE

The humor of HARRY POTTER is a bit underrated, isn’t it?

Another (and extremely obvious) example of the ability to weave together humor and sincerity is J.K. Rowling, whose books about that kid named Harry are masterful at provoking laughs AND being emotionally vulnerable. A lot of crazy bad stuff happens to Harry and his friends, but there are also a ton of funny moments along the way. Some of them are character-based giggles, such as Fred Weasley saying “Honestly, women, you call yourself our mother?” And then there are moments like when Harry, Ron, and Hermione defeat the troll in Book 1: “There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” Funny, but also sweet, and meaningful, and sincere.

It’s a hard thing to do. It doesn’t make it any easier that we live in a society that’s been marinating itself in irony for years. Snark and razor-edged wit are highly valued today. Sincerity, honest sentiment, and emotional vulnerability? Not so much. It’s not a completely one-sided situation, however. I feel luckier and luckier every day to have found my way into the children’s writing community, because I believe this IS one of the relatively few arenas where irony isn’t dominant, but is relegated to its rightful place as ONE aspect of the communicative arena.

This is the gold standard for MG humor right here, people.

The good news is that I have a book coming out that I’m told is funny (for some people, at least, and it’ll never be funny to EVERYONE but that’s okay), and I’m working with Arthur Levine, whose body of work exhibits a supreme ability to recognize those two aspects in a book and make them work together as a cohesive, powerful team. There’s Harry Potter, of course, but there’s also Lisa Yee, and David LaRochelle, and Dan Santat, and a towering stack of others.

Hopefully my little book isn’t just high-calorie, low-nutrition giggles – I’d love to know that readers also find it emotionally real, and a little sweet, and genuinely sincere. I hope the inverse will be true of my piece in the Dear Teen Me anthology too, now that I think about it – it’d be great to know that readers aren’t just walloped over the head with the emotional content (much of which is rather dark), but can also find a few grins scattered here and there amidst the remembrances of past struggles.

I suppose some may think it’s a little early to think about this kind of stuff, but I’m not so sure. I’m in this for the long haul, you know? And sure, I’m thinking about it in a very deliberate “how I want my career to go and how will I be affected by the perceptions of readers and critics” kind of way, but I’m also thinking about it in creative terms. I know I have a bunch of stories waiting to emerge from the fevered pits of my brain, and not all of them are as straightforward as Geeks. I’ll want to try new things, and write stories that challenge me, and expand my creative horizons.

I hope I can do it. I’m definitely going to try.
m.

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The Curious Phenomenon of Evolving Self-Perception

My AALB bookshelf - still the alpha shelf in Chez Jung, yo.

GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES belongs on the Arthur A. Levine Books shelf! Yes it does!

As the release date for Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities approaches, I seem to be going through some changes in self-perception. Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking – “Mike, you’re clearly a megalomaniac, which means you’re not capable of changes in self-perception!” Here’s a little secret: I’m not really a megalomaniac. I’m actually a quivery ball of emotional insecurity, which makes it a bit strange that lately I feel…good about my writing career? And not in a spoofy “I’m the king of the world” way, but in a “oh wow, THAT just happened” kind of way, or a “perhaps all this good stuff happening to me is justified” kind of way.

For example, I now have advance reader copies winging their way out into the world, and I was asked to whip up a list of suggested readers. I asked a bunch of people who I know to one degree or another, which was hard enough, but in a burst of uncharacteristic real-world bravado I also asked one of my very favorite kidlit authors if I could send them an ARC. Someone who I don’t actually know at all – no email, no Facebook conversations, not even a single-tweet exchange on Twitter. Nada. And that person said “sure, I’d love to take a look.” At which point my head suddenly – oh wait, I think it’s about to happen aga–

The ARC of GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES!

Oh man, ain’t that pretty?

*head explodes*

Uh, sorry. I’ll clean that up later… Anyway, the fact that this person is willing to read my ARC is FANTASTIC! It’s fantastic partly because it’s something that seemed so far out of reach three years ago, when I was scuffling through the query process and revising in what often felt like a state of intense psychological isolation. I have the best critique partners in existence, but it really isn’t the same as working with colleagues in the publishing industry the way I do now. I partially defined my writerly identity with terms like aspiring, up-and-coming, and just plain unpublished. And the word I’ve used more than any other is, of course, writer. But now I find myself growing increasingly comfortable with a different term, one that I’ve always perceived as having a certain air of untouchability: author.

Starred-review-collecting EMU J. Anderson Coats touched on this in her early post on how we answer the question “What do you do?” It’s funny how loaded one little six-letter word can be, isn’t it? Writer, author, author, writer, which one am I, oh I don’t dare call myself an author, etc. One of the things I appreciate most about the kidlit world is that people are clearly invested in living the self-examined life – logically enough, since it’s a prerequisite for the writing process. There’s a widespread awareness about how we project ourselves as public figures, assess our place on the continuum of children’s literature, discuss potentially sensitive topics, and affect the feelings of our colleagues and friends. I value this tremendously.

The thing is, I also struggle with this. I’ve struggled with it before, but now it’s happening differently, probably because the advent of my career as a published author feels so much bigger than anything I’ve previously experienced in my professional life. I’m struggling with the balance between being sensitive/diplomatic/cautious/humble and being expressive/optimistic/risk-embracing/celebratory.

I don’t want to be a jerk, you know? I’m entirely too capable of being a jerk. But I also feel really good about my place in the kidlit community, optimistic about my book’s prospects, and confident in my own abilities. Back in my pre-published days (which are still pretty recent), I started making a very informal list of things I wanted to happen during my journey to publication. They were things I thought I’d really love to experience and were contained within the big dream of publication, but they also qualified as dreams in their own right. And those things have actually started happening!

Broadcast News, one of the best movies of the 1980s

Really good movie, BTW.

In a scene from the old James L. Brooks movie Broadcast News, William Hurt’s character says, “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Albert Brooks’s character responds, “Keep it to yourself!” That’s not an uncommon sentiment, and I do want to be mindful of the pitfalls of excessive self-adulation. L.B. Schulman touched on this in her early post on “Spreading the Good News.” I know the danger of being perceived as a braggart is real – in fact, the danger of genuinely becoming a braggart is real. I’m both a writer and a library professional, so I spend a lot of time in the company of people who share my don’t-be-a-blowhard concerns, which I think is much more positive than not.

But.

There are times when these tendencies have inhibited me. There’ve been moments when I may have robbed myself of joy and satisfaction in the pursuit of diplomacy, and that by trying not to irritate people through excessive self-regard I’ve unnecessarily put myself down. That’s the last thing I want to do right now, because I have this extraordinary feeling that my professional life is metamorphosing into something that has more purpose and meaning than it’s ever had before.

I keep returning to the great warhorse in my stable of quotes, Marianne Williamson’s astonishing insight into our deepest fears, and realizing that I don’t want to play small. I want my light to blaze like the sun! I’m very happy, and I’ve tried to be open about expressing it. The infancy of my career has been more than a dream come true: it’s been an entire series of dreams come true. I’ve driven myself like a plowhorse to get here, and I’ll continue to drive myself as my career progresses. I’ve described myself as many things during the journey to publication. I’m a newbie! I’m a wannabe! I’m a dreamer, a writer on the verge, a burgeoning creative professional! Now I’m adding one more thing to the list, yes I am, right out there for the entire world to see.

Look alive, world. I’m an author.

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13th Century Wales According to Santa Duck and Zombie Buddy

IT’S LAUNCH DAY FOR THE WICKED AND THE JUST! WOOHOO!

Look, a photo that's been placed here for no discernible reason!

Look, a photo that's been placed here for no discernible reason!

Do I really need to explain this? Really? Come on, a duck, a zombie, and a rollicking good time in 13th century Wales – it’s self-explanatory.

Videographer’s note: the fact-checking on this vlog clip may have been, um, a bit spotty. And Santa Duck had a whole previous life as a toddler’s favorite toy, so he may be a bit rough around the edges as well – Santa Duck’s done some hard traveling. Zombie Buddy’s spent the majority of his life sitting on my desk, however, so he’s fresh as a daisy, at least as far as zombies go.

Buy THE WICKED AND THE JUST on IndieBound! And Amazon! And Barnes and Noble!

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Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations, Education, Research

The Slumbering Beast of Marketing and Promotion

I know, I know – what, Mike, are you gonna pretend you haven’t been doing that stuff all along? Well yes, OBVIOUSLY. But watch this YouTube clip anyway, wontcha? And please ignore the fact that I’ve once again managed to use the wrong orientation. Those black bars on the side of the clip are very decorative!

GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES is in the Fall 2012 Scholastic catalog!

Official promotional materials from the publisher, yo. Nice, iddnit?

So, yeah, I suppose that’s somewhat less than insightful, but it’s so cool just to see the stuff!!! I was also surprised by how much I actually wanted to read the whole thing – there’s all sorts of interesting little bits of detailed info in there. Some books have audio versions, others don’t. Some books get majestic, two-page spreads, while others get single pages (which is still pretty majestic, don’t get me wrong). Most books appear to be available as ebooks, but definitely not all of them. And in the back of the catalog are handy indexes organized by month, imprint, title, or author. And then, of course, the ordering information. A fascinating little glimpse at a different part of the publishing mechanism….

But anyway, I kept this particular vlog clip under 3 minutes, a new personal record!!! Congratulate me! Come on! High five! You can do it! Put it right…dude, why won’t you give me a high five? THE FACT THAT WE’RE NOT IN THE SAME ROOM IS NO EXCUSE

m.

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