Snappsy is available!

February 4, 2016

Snappsy coverAs of February 2, you can buy my debut picture book, Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) wherever books are sold. Or check it out of libraries wherever libraries are librarying, even in other alternate dimensions. It’s true. Alternate dimension libraries ordered a lot of copies.

I think.

Hard to say anymore, because this week has been a whirlwind. I have been waiting for February 2, 2016 for so long, and then it was tomorrow and then it was today and now it’s two days ago. And it has all been amazing and great fun and boy oh boy you all are so nice! I know some people say the internet is mean, but not my internet. My internet is full of lovely readers who are happy to have another book to read, and it’s great. So thank you!

While I’m on the subject of thank yous, thank you to the team at Viking/Penguin Young Readers. A debut author, or any author, could not ask for a better team. It feels like they were like, “Hey, is it cool if we shoot Julie and Tim out of a cannon and throw confetti at them and then vacuum it up afterward while they eat cake?” I’d especially like to thank my editor Joanna Cardenas, who has made this process so dreamy what with the way she completely understands me and what I’m trying to write, her ability to send me an edit letter which is somehow a magical shining beacon that shows that the answers were hidden inside me all the time, and also her great love of books and cookies.

Danielle! My agent Danielle Smith! Oh my gosh. She took a chance on me (any agent takes a chance on a new client, I guess) but she also shot me out of a cannon (I’d like to clarify here that this is not a literal cannon, but a metaphor for some kind of publishing success cannon, and I wore a helmet, don’t worry). I am so grateful to have an agent who is supportive, kind, has big plans, and is my friend.

I need to thank Carter Higgins and Elizabeth Stevens Omlor. You know all that talk about the universe, and blah blah blah, and everyone says it so much that you don’t even register what they’re saying anymore (the universe brought you coffee? what?). But THANKS UNIVERSE for shoving me at Elizabeth and Carter. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, but we were somehow gathered up and (oh wait, I know) shot towards each other out of cannons. Writers, if you’re just starting out, listen: find your people. You only need one or two, but if you can find a writer who is at the same stage of writing/querying you are, and who writes stories you love, and who loves your stories, grab on and don’t let go. That very small group of best friends is going to be by your side through it all, and you’ll talk about writing and everything, and you’ll have a place to say the things which you should not even think about saying out loud on the internet.

And finally my family, who has put up with me so much. I have been maintaining a general air of cheerful insufferability for years now (oh wait — maybe it’s just my personality? huh) and they have been fine with it, as long as I keep making dinner. Let me tell you this: apparently the way to remain a “cool” parent is to write a book. With my kids, at least. We live in Maine. The definition of cool might be different from other places. In New York City, parents have to learn to fly to be cool. Good thing I could be cool just by writing a book. (Really though, Henry is 12 now, and was talking about how uncool parents in general are, because that’s what 12-year-olds do, and then he admitted that I was a little cool because “you have some degree of internet fame.” Do you know how hard it is to get your 7th grader to admit you’re not the most embarrassing person on the planet? It’s harder than getting a picture book published! And that’s hard!) (He’d still prefer not to be seen in public with me, however.)

And my husband Dave, who has been my cheerleader and supporter in so many ways. You know authors don’t make a ton of money, right? I’ll admit it here: my path would have been very different (longer) if I didn’t have a situation where my partner had a job that allowed me to stay home with the kids and write. Everyone’s path is different, and there are many ways to make writing happen, but having a spouse with a job is a way that a lot of people are afraid to acknowledge. I know college me might be rolling her eyes and wondering if I still called myself a feminist (of course I do, 1992 Julie!). But I’ve searched around, and people don’t talk about it. You don’t make much money as a not-yet-published author. And I can tell you that it’s not like those throw-rug-sized lottery checks keep getting delivered to the house since my book came out two days ago (we did get a delivery of dry erase markers, but those aren’t really the same thing). I bet I’m not the only author who is supported financially by a spouse, a long-suffering spouse, a spouse who comes home to see the writer person bleary-eyed at the computer and so much dust on the floor that you can’t see the floor any more. THANK YOU, DAVE. Guys, my husband is like a superhero. He’s tall and handsome, he can cook without a recipe, he knows how to do electrical stuff and plumbing and small engine repair and large engine repair and he wears a cape. (Okay, the cape part is only true when Ramona announces “wear this cape!” and then he does it because he’s also an awesome dad.) It’s hard to be married to a superhero. You feel inadequate sometimes. He doesn’t hold it against me. Shout out to Dave and all the other partners who go to jobs where they get paychecks to support the writer people at home who are not doing the dishes. Or who are doing the dishes! Whatever we’re doing, it doesn’t bring in money (yet!) and you all are so very patient while we are waiting to get shot out of our cannons. Here! We made you cookies! Yes, instead of folding laundry. Yes, the rug needs vacuuming, we know. Leave the light off when you go into the bathroom, please. Cookie?*

It’s a really nice feeling right now to be able to say “yes, my book is out.” Many of you know how long it takes for a book to be published, but the people I only vaguely know that I run into at the grocery store don’t know. So they say, “Hey, is your book out?” and then you have to say, “It’s coming out in a year” which is totally normal but the person looks at you like, “wow, is she ever a liar.” So it’s nice to be able to say it’s really, truly, a book that you can buy and read.

You have been so patient reading all this! Here is a quick run down of Snappsy excitement extravaganza stuff that happened this week:

And now we’re getting reading to go to Books of Wonder on Saturday. Tim Miller and I will be there from 1-3 singing and dancing (metaphorically) and signing copies of Snappsy. If you’re in New York City, we’d love to see you there!

Edited to add: I wrote all this and then went for a run and it struck me that this might make us sound like we’re rich people who live in a mansion and have a butler and something called a livery stable even though we don’t eat much meat. We’re not. We scrimp and save and buy discount bread and used clothes and never eat out or go to the movies or do any kind of recreational activity that isn’t free. We are lucky in that we do have health insurance and enough that it made sense for me to stay home with our many children and work on my writing. But I don’t want you to think, “Oh, I don’t need to buy her book because she’s a dilettante hobbyist with piles of money.” Oh heavens, no. Please buy my book. If you can’t (which I get! books are expensive!) you can ask your library to buy a copy, and then we all win.

(2)

CATEGORIES: Snappsy

Snappsy Worksheets!

January 7, 2016

snappsy mazeI’m so excited about these incredibly awesome Snappsy worksheets! A dot-to-dot, a maze, a coloring page, a word search, and a make-your-own book-biter bookmark. Get your crayons and have fun!

(0)

CATEGORIES: Snappsy

First public Snappsy reading: achieved!

January 5, 2016

I had the honor of reading Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) at the South Portland Public Library’s “Noon Year’s Eve” party (which was on New Year’s Eve, but at noon, because little kids, and — oh, you can figure it out). I have mostly been reading to classes over Skype, which means I’m shoving the book up against the computer and doing fun voices to tell the story.

So it was super fun to read the book live in front of a (big!) crowd, when I could act things out a bit more. And wear a boa (thanks to the librarians for providing me with a boa) (boa’s are very important to authors).

Doing my best to wow the crowd.

Doing my best to wow the crowd.

This photo is a delightful mystery to me. I have no memory of spinning, running, or reading into a wind machine, but one of those must have happened.

This photo is a delightful mystery to me. I have no memory of spinning, running, or reading into a wind machine, but one of those must have happened.

Life imitating art. Not on purpose.

Life imitating art. Not on purpose.

If you missed it and you’re in Maine, come back to the South Portland Public Library on March 5, when we’re having a huge party to celebrate Snappsy, complete with crafts and food and books to buy and get signed.

If you’re in New York City, stop by Books of Wonder on February 6 from 1-3, when Tim Miller and I will read and talk and sign.

Less than a month until publication day!

(0)

CATEGORIES: Snappsy

Personalized Snappsy!

September 17, 2015

Remember back in June when I told you that you could pre-order a copy of Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) from my local independent record store/bookstore Bull Moose, and I would sign it?

Guess what? I can personalize it for you! (Only if you want. Totally cool if you don’t want it personalized.) So if you have been holding back on ordering because you really most of all want a copy of Snappsy inscribed, “To my dearest Pookums, we’ll always have the rutabagas, with much love, Julie Falatko,” now I can make that happen.

All you have to do is:

1. Pre-order a copy of Snappsy from Bull Moose.

2. Reply to the confirmation email, or send an email to bullmooseonline AT gmail dot com.

3. In your email, say you ordered the book, what your order number is, and what you’d like the inscription to say.

Easy!

(0)

CATEGORIES: books, Snappsy

Charles Santoso to illustrate my second picture book!

September 11, 2015

Hi everyone! I am beyond thrilled to announce this news:

santoso2

 

(click to see in full-size glory)

Listen. It’s fairly nerve-wracking to be in the spot of having labored over words (and believe me, there was a lot of laboring over the words in this particular book), and being happy with the words, but also being a wordsy author-type, so I think of the story almost without illustrations. The characters speak in my head. I can hear them. But I can’t quite see them. I can a little, but it’s foggy.

The problem with that, as a wordsy author-type, who also maybe sometimes get a bit anxious about the worth of the words, is that I worry the story is not illustratable. I worry my editor is going to call me and say, “I’m sorry. I just can’t find anyone who can do anything with this. We’re taking back the advance and producing it as a community public access radio play.” (Is there even community public access radio? There should be.)

So I get nervous. And emotional. And so far I am 2 for 2 for crying when my editor Joanna told me who my illustrator was, first with Tim, and now with Charles. (The difference with her telling me about Charles is that I wasn’t home so she told me via email and then I made the poor choice to call and leave her a sobby-happy voicemail, which just goes to show that you can be a human in this business and they’ll still let you make books.)

Now go to your local independent bookstore or library and get these Charles Santoso-illustrated books: I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell, Peanut Butter and Brains by Joe McGee, and Spy Guy by Jessica Young.

 

(0)

CATEGORIES: books

Snappsy F&Gs!

August 10, 2015

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)  is one step closer to being a real thing. I just got F&Gs!

What’s an F&G, you ask? It’s an acronym for “folded and gathered” and it’s the book, but unbound (sometimes also called a “floppy copy”). The pages look just like they will in the bound book, but they are only folded together and put in order.

What this means is it’s just like the real book, but much more fragile. The rule in our house is that you can’t touch an F&G unless you’re in a clean room wearing a hazmat suit and promise not to sneeze or breathe. Other people maybe have better methods for reading F&Gs, but they have a habit of exploding on me.

It’s so weird to see my name in actual print on the cover of a book, after a lifetime of writing my name in crayon on a cover I drew myself and stapling it to the words I wrote. It’s like finding your name in the phone book, multiplied by one billion.

So here’s a sneak peek at the F&G! (Click on any of the images below to make them bigger.)

It has a cover!

DSC04458small

And a hilarious front flap (and endpapers!).

snappsyfrontflap

And a title page! With my name on it! And Tim’s name! And Viking’s name! Plus that gorgeous blank page opposite where I’ll sign my name when you come to a book event or pre-order from Bull Moose. (That color has now been named Snappsy Green and my family is getting a weensy annoyed by how many things I insist we buy in Snappsy Green now — nail polish…oven mitts…couches.)

DSC04460small

 

And a back flap with a drawing of me by Tim! (And a drawing of Tim by Tim.)

snappsybackflap

 

And, special to the F&G, a back cover with blurbs. I am so awed and lucky and grateful to have gotten blurbs from Ame Dyckman, Adam Rex, and Bob Shea. The bound book will have a different back cover, but I love this one, too!

snappsyfgbackcover2

 

(1)

CATEGORIES: books

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!

(0)

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.

(2)

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.)

(0)

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.

(0)

CATEGORIES: class visits
1 2 3 65