Snappsy cover reveal!

June 12, 2015

It’s finally time to show you the cover for Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book). I love this awesome cover so much.

You’ll have to head on over to Mr. Schu’s blog to see it, but trust me, it’s worth it!

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CATEGORIES: Snappsy

Pre-order a signed copy of Snappsy from local indie Bull Moose!

June 5, 2015

I am so, so excited to be working with local independent bookshop (and music shop, and games shop, and toy shop) Bull Moose to be able to offer you a non-giant-conglomerate option for pre-ordering. You can pre-order Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) now, or regular-order it after February 2, 2016, and Bull Moose will ship it to you. And! As an added bonus, I will sign it before it ships to you!

Note that it will be sent to you by a human. Not by an actual moose.

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CATEGORIES: Snappsy

New post on Nerdy Book Club: The Alligator at the Door

June 4, 2015

I have a post on Nerdy Book Club today, about how weird it is to have an idea I came up with while cooking dinner turn into a book that people will be able to read.

Here are some bonus fun facts about Snappsy and the Nerdy post!

Bonus Fun Fact #1! The Snappsy illustrations included in the Nerdy post have never been seen by non-Snappsy people! In fact, I hadn’t even seen them until two days ago!

Bonus Fun Fact #2: Snappsy was originally pitched as “Stranger than Fiction” meets Chloe and the Lion.

Bonus Fun Fact #3: It was surreal to see drawings of Snappsy, but not a huge surprise. I mean, I already knew he’d be an alligator. It’s right there in the title. But I wrote about a narrator too, and I didn’t say who or what the narrator was. It was exciting and nerve-wracking to see the first illustrations where the narrator shows up, and to see how amazing illustrator Tim Miller imagined him. I love who the narrator is. (I’m not telling.)

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CATEGORIES: writing

Free 30-Minute Skype if You Tell Me What You Need from an Author Visit

May 26, 2015

What do your students need to know about (2)Now that the publication of my debut picture book is less than a year away, I’m starting to think about school visits. I love talking to kids about writing. I’ve talked about this before, but when I was a kid, I thought all my favorite authors lived in mansions with butlers, but were now dead. If I had known authors were living, ordinary people, I think I would have pursued writing seriously as a career twenty years sooner. Author visits are important.

I am working this summer on developing a program/presentation for school visits, and I have been thinking a lot about this great Nerdy Book Club post by Polly Holyoke: Teachers, Librarians, and Authors: Let’s Work Together to Make More Author Visits Happen. So, not to steal this concept too directly from Polly Holyoke, but: tell me what you need. I would love to come to your school and talk to your students, but I’d love it even more if I knew that the program I was presenting was helping you too.

If you are a teacher or school librarian, would you consider filling out this four-question survey for me? It’ll help me develop an author visit program that fits in best with school needs. To show my thanks, if you fill out the survey by July 31, 2015, I will do a 30-minute Skype with your class sometime during the 2015-2016 school year.

So far, teachers I’ve talked to seem to want real examples of how writing and revising work for a grown-up author. I could talk about this all day, so if that’s what most of you want, then that’s awesome. But I also want to know if there’s a specific curriculum need (especially in Maine, where I live) that you think I could help with. Do students need to be able to write plots? Vivid characters? Stories about bunnies? I can help.

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CATEGORIES: class visits

Snappsy: Things are Happening!

May 23, 2015
Ramona enjoying the color illustrations in Snappsy.

Ramona enjoying the color illustrations in Snappsy.

Writing and publishing a book is a strange test on your perception of time. I spent 2013 working with my editor to make Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) the best it could be. I spent 2014 working on my bunny book with her, and not doing much on Snappsy. And now! Suddenly! All at once! Lots of Snappsy things are happening. It will be published February 2, 2016, which sounds far away, but at this point, to me, seems like it’s tomorrow.

Last week I saw all the illustrations in color for the first time. I’ve been loving the black-and-white sketches I’ve seen, but OH WOW seeing it in color was amazing. Tim Miller is a genius illustrator.

And now, if you’re so inclined, you can add Snappsy  to your Goodreads to-be-read list, and even pre-order it on Amazon. It’s not on Indiebound yet, and I’ll let you know when it is. And you can walk in to your local independent bookstore, ask about it, and buy a few more books while you’re there (I recommend I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty and illustrated by Mike Boldt, Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea, Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, In Mary’s Garden by Tina and Carson Kugler, Faraway Friends by Russ Cox, Goodnight Already! by Jory John and illustrated by Benji Davies, Tricky Vic and Templeton Gets His Wish by Greg Pizzoli, and Home by Carson Ellis.)

 

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CATEGORIES: books

World Read Aloud Day with Mrs. Lussier

April 20, 2015

Cosmo likes to Skype too.Way back in March, when snow was still on the ground, I Skyped with a few classes for World Read Aloud Day. It was so fun. Anyone who thinks you can’t make a connection with students over Skype is just wrong. I love reading to students over Skype and answering all their questions.

I had a particularly great time reading to 1st and 2nd graders in Connecticut. I met their librarian, Mrs. Lussier, at nErDcampNNE in January. Those students are lucky to have such a passionate reader leading them — and go read her post to see the HUGE number of Skypes she did for World Read Aloud Day! I’m seriously impressed.

Reading I Don't Want to Be a Frog to Mrs. Lussier's libraryAnd I’m grateful that she said “Julie is enthusiastic, kind, passionate and clearly loves kids and children’s literature” and “Julie is terrific at reading aloud!” and “If you get a chance to have a school visit or skype with Ms. Falatko, you will enjoy every moment!” I swear I didn’t pay her even a little bit of money to say those things. But you should probably listen to her. She’s super smart.

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CATEGORIES: books, class visits

Best Books Ever (so far in 2015) on the Let’s Get Busy podcast

April 12, 2015

Best Books Ever #LGBpodcastHi everyone! I’m excited to be part of a new segment on Busy Librarian Matthew Winner’s Let’s Get Busy podcast, where my best pal Carter Higgins and I talk about what books we love that came out in the last three months. We had so much fun talking about books, and as soon as we hung up, I thought of about twelve books I forgot to mention, so we’ll definitely have to do this again.

If you’re not already listening to the Let’s Get Busy podcast, you should be! Well, only if you’re interested in hearing children’s book authors and illustrators talk about their books. Matthew is a terrific interviewer, and I always, always, come away amazed, inspired, and impressed.

You can listen to me and Carter talk books here, or see the giant book list here (you should print it out and bring it to your library!).

(On a side note: I had only had one cup of coffee and was coming down with the flu when we recorded this, so if you listen and think, “I thought Julie would sound more awake and also be able to put nouns and verbs together more succinctly,” that’s why.)

 

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CATEGORIES: books

Ellen Conford

March 23, 2015

When I was a kid, I didn’t realize authors were real people. I read all the time, but the books were my friends, not the authors. The characters in the books were so real to me, it didn’t make sense that anyone actually made them up.

My Holy Trifecta of Authors when I was in fifth grade was Paula Danziger, Norma Klein, and Ellen Conford. They wrote stories where the things that happened to the main characters were things that might happen to me. The girls in the books were a lot like I was. Maybe their parents split up, or they liked food a lot, or they only knew how to face life’s chaos with humor and exasperated shrugs.

Ellen Conford’s books especially resonated with me. Her characters seemed like teased-out versions of me and my friends, threads of similarity pulled out and woven together into a book. And I learned things too. I learned about shaving my legs in Hail, Hail, Camp Timberwood. Me and the Terrible Two made me appreciate being an only child who lived on a corner with no other kids around. The Luck of Pokey Bloom sent me scheming with various moneymaking adventures (none of which made a cent). And To All My Fans, With Love, From Sylvie, which was the closest thing to a horror novel I read as a kid, mostly put a healthy fear of strange men in me, and made me very, very glad for my normal suburban life.

But most of all there was The Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations. This book! Not only did the main character and her friends seem so much like mine, but her name was actually Julie. Julie and her friends were hilarious, their life at school was ridiculous and real, and — probably in no small part because of our shared name — it seemed like Julie’s reactions to situations were exactly what mine would be. It was like reading about myself in an alternate reality.

As I got older, I understood in a vague way that children’s book authors were the ones who wrote the books, but a huge part of me still couldn’t grasp that the characters in the books weren’t real. Because they were. I see that now, that when an author creates someone well, that character is real to them, and becomes real to the reader. It’s magic though, trickery, wonder, and a very difficult concept for a 10-year-old in 1981. Or a 30-year-old in 2001.

When my oldest, Henry, was 4, we enrolled him in preschool. At Cottage Road Neighborhood School they studied music and cooking, put on plays every other week, and had a reading room piled with pillows. Henry loved it. I was in library school and reading huge piles of children’s books (for school! so fun). The couple that ran the school, Gloria and Michael, got pregnant, and their doctor told them that maybe Gloria shouldn’t shlep huge bags of books from the library to the preschoolers every week, so I volunteered to get the books for the rest of the year. Why not? I was in the library all the time anyway, and it’d be good librarian practice.

I was on the phone with Gloria talking about this, talking about the books I’d gotten on my initial runs, talking about how much I love children’s books. Gloria said, “Actually, Michael’s mother is…” and the name on the caller ID suddenly flashed in my memory. CONFORD. Michael’s mother is…Ellen Conford.

I burst into tears.

It was so weird. Ellen Conford was a real person? Not only was Ellen Conford a real person, but she had a son, and he was teaching musical theory to my 4-year-old?

Michael told me his mom had based a lot of the characters on him and his friends and I almost had to breathe into a paper bag.

Something shifted in me. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always loved children’s books. But it wasn’t until that moment that I really realized who children’s book authors were. They were real people. They were alive, and had families, and played Scrabble.

I could do it.

I never met Ellen Conford. I don’t know what I would have done. Fainted or thrown up on her shoes, most likely.

Ellen Conford died on Friday, March 20.

Thank you, Ellen Conford, for writing about real children. And thank you for being a real, human writer, so I could become a real, human writer too.

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CATEGORIES: books

Excited to announce more books!

October 29, 2014

I am so, so excited to tell you all that I got two more picture book deals! Here is the official announcement:

BunnyRooster

Joanna Cardenas is the same editor I’ve been working with on Snappsy, and I am beyond thrilled to be working with her again. She is a genius editor, and we have similar taste in books and in words, which makes the whole revision process a total joy. I like revising anyway, but when there’s someone who suggests a new direction that cracks open a great new road for your story to go down, it’s magic.

Being a writer is so weird. It is still strange to me that these wacky stories are going to be out there in the world. But I’m super duper excited about it, too.

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CATEGORIES: Uncategorized

Snappsy Updates

July 1, 2014

Work on Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) continues to move forward. I am so excited at every step of the way! I just really feel so super lucky that I’m in this spot. My story about a normal alligator and a meddling narrator will someday be a real book that you can all read (and buy! you should buy it.).

Tim Miller is doing amazing things with the illustrations, and believe it or not we’re nearing a point where Things will start to happen. Things like cover reveals and the ability to pre-order (when I say “nearing a point” I mean “within the next nine months” but that is amazing to me — so close! really!). I’ve seen some of Tim’s illustrations and every one of them makes me scream, “I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!” I’m hoping I stop having this spontaneous reaction by the time the book comes out, or reading it aloud to classrooms and bookstores is going to be weird and time-consuming.  Fall of 2015 is getting closer every day!

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CATEGORIES: books, Julie, News
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