Tag 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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Filed under Blogging, Farewell, Thankfulness, Writing and Life

Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities: The Unofficial, Abnormal Book Trailer

When Mike told me that Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese *and* Pee Wee Herman were unavailable to film his book trailer, I jumped on the opportunity!

But some people think maybe I shouldn’t have.

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Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations

STUPENDOUS ALERT! GEEKS, GIRLS, and SECRET IDENTITIES IS HERE!

Go ahead! Do a happy dance! Rush outside and party in the streets! Because Mike Jung’s fun and funny book GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES hits the shelves TODAY (along with it’s birthday twin, LEAGUE OF STRAYS, that we celebrated all last week.)

And speaking of LEAGUE OF STRAYS, we have a WINNER!!!! Congratulations to Kelly Winningham, who will be receiving the signed copy from L.B. herself!

But back to GEEKS GIRLS AND SECRET IDENTITIES. As Publishers Weekly so aptly notes:

“Debut author Jung smartly balances adventure and comedy…. Jung’s fast-paced storytelling, filled with comics-inspired gadgetry and sound effects, makes the story’s action sequences come alive, and thanks to Maihack’s b&w spot illustrations, Vincent, Polly, and the others look like they’re ready to star in an animated series.”

But no need to wait for the animated series! We’ve got a week long party coming atcha,  with a whole, big, bucket load of goodies for you–in depth and thought provoking interviews with the illustrator and the editor, a critical analysis from young readers, and some heavy-duty investigative reporting, delving into the secret world of fan clubs.

And today, to get it started, we have Santa Duck and Zombie Buddy with an introduction to the book and its deeper central themes.  If you are a follower of Santa Duck and Zombie Buddy videos, you might notice some minor alterations to the production, but probably not. They’re minor, and we have adhered to the same level of high, ultra-professional quality you’ve come to expect from the fabulous Dead and Duck Duo.

Don’t you just love giant robots? Stick around all week to celebrate Mike’s fabulous new book!

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Filed under Celebrations, Reviews

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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Filed under Anxiety, ARCs, Celebrations, Colleagues, Happiness, jealousy, Satisfaction, Thankfulness