Saturday, January 31, 2009

NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL: Book Party on Feb 1!

Please celebrate my third novel, North of Beautiful today when it hits the shelves. What better way to celebrate than a party?

Where: Barnes & Noble in Bellevue, WA, 626 106th Ave. NE, (425) 451-8464

Why: North of Beautiful, of course!

When: Sunday, February 1, 3-5 p.m.

If you can’t make it to the party, but still want the book, pop into your favorite bookstore or order it from,, and Drop me an email at justina [at] justinachenheadley [dot] com by Feb. 14, and I’ll snail mail you an autographed bookplate.

Tell the world what True Beauty really means!

Just shoot a 90-second video describing what’s truly beautiful to you—your friends, your family, your world, your favorite book, yourself!

Load your video on YouTube and you could win great prizes, including a cool iPod Touch! PLUS, Justina will donate $10 for every uploaded video (up to $1,000) to Global Surgical Outreach to help fund facial surgeries for kids in the third world.

Here's what to do:

1. Shoot your 90-second video and post on YouTube.

2. Send a link to north [at] marthabee [dot] com and we'll upload it to the North of Beautiful channel.

3. Get your friends to vote on your video!

4. Check out all the rules on Justina's website!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sweethearts & Girl Overboard

Look at the Valentine's Day ad that Little, Brown Books created for Sara Zarr's SWEETHEARTS and my GIRL OVERBOARD. How sweet is that. Now, I just need to find the cookie on Sara's book cover.

Poetry Friday: I Didn't Know

I Didn't Know
by T.Y. Headley

I didn't know I loved the woods,
rustling and murmuring to me.
I didn't know I loved the streams,
bublling, whispering, and flowing.
I didn't know I loved the trails,
winding, circling, observing, guiding.
I didn't know I loved the wind,
running through the morning.
I didn't know I loved the animals,
scurrying through the undergrowth
curious to the last.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Find Beauty Challenge

So...I vowed to tie community service to every book I publish. In honor of the imminent release of NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL, I'm giving you a sneak peek at the FIND BEAUTY CHALLENGE.

You tell the world what's really beautiful to you.
In 90 seconds.
On YouTube.

You might win fabulous an iTouch.
AND you help a child in a third world country.

More soon...

A shout out to:

Monday, January 26, 2009


Please visit me on my Book Blog Tours for North of Beautiful.

Week One was coordinated by the Beautiful Mitali Perkins in the midst of her own book tour for Secret Keeper.


February 2: Kickoff at Mitali's Fire Escape

February 3: Shelf Elf, Kerry Millar

February 4: Archimedes Forgets, Sarah Rettger

February 5: Bibliophile, Jennifer Rothschild

February 6: Teen Book Review, Jocelyn

Week Two of my Book Blog Tour was spearheaded by Sara Easterly. Is she not glowing miraculously, especially given having just had a baby? (And if you like her orange baby bag, thank you very much! I claim that one: I special ordered that one for her, bugging the designer so that my girl got the FIRST one. Sara also coordinated the Seattle portion of my Girl Overboard tour.)

February 9: The Bluestocking Society

February 10: Mythbuster Beauty

February 11:

February 13: Stephanie's Books

Today I am thankful for girlfriends who say, "Justina, let us celebrate."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Numbers & Nibbles

A few weeks ago, I blogged about My Mountain--knowing what I want and how I'm working toward getting there.

As part of that, I hosted a workshop at my house last night: NUMBERS & NIBBLES--What Every Woman Needs to Know About Her Money. My girlfriend, Sherilyn Anderson, a VP of Goldman Sachs, shared her thoughts.

Here are the best tidbits of many, many:
1. Women need to be physically fit AND fiscally fit. Know your budget: what you have in the bank, what you're saving, what you're spending.

2. Save now for your future. That $3 latte could be $50 that you could have saved in the future!

3. Visualize retirement: what kind of life do we want to be living? (I want to be in a condo, still writing every day!) Know your budget for that retirement. Take that number and divide by 0.035. That's The Number you must have as your net worth to fund your retirement.

Today I am grateful for my friends who share their smarts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Purpose Driven Society

I loved what my brother, Dave Chen, wrote on his blog as he reflected on Inauguration Day. Just imagine that: our country, a Purpose-Driven society. That we lived by our old values of kindness. Empathy. Citizenship. That our public policy and foreign policy reflected that.

Obama won’t return our nation to its past glories, but he can do something even greater, and that is lead us to our next greatness.
as he has already said many times…and we may not be hearing him…we need to translate that hope into the true grit that gives us the resolve to tackle these very real, deep changes in big parts of our culture, society, and economy…all in the backdrop of a very much changed new world order and physical environment.
will he lead us into a “new” contract with americans…and the world. maybe to steal a concept from rick warren: will he lead us to build a purpose driven society

Today I am grateful for a new face for America, for hope, for our next greatness.

NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL: School Library Journal

This just in from my editor, Alvina Ling, who is celebrating with me over the School Library Journal review. Our favorite sentence:

"Headley's ambitious novel is written in a beautifully crafted style that flows seamlessly."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Justina Goes FanGirl!

It is never a good moment when I become a fangirl. First, there's my Minnie Mouse breathless voice. And then the sweat-beaded nose. Oh, like whenever I'm in the vicinity of David Levithan, for instance. What's the deal?

Anyway. Humiliation is a daily Justina experience, apparently.

Because...guess who I just met? Guess who I ate sushi with the other day? None other than Kim Swift--she of Portal fame. She of the rockstar game designer who swept the 2008 games awards!

That's Kim in the middle and her friend and Portal colleague, Realm. Now, there's a great character name for you. I'm expecting even greater things from these women than just making history in the gaming world. (i.e. I'm expecting them to write for teens next.)

Today I am thankful for how small the world is so that I'm constantly meeting the cool people who are changing the planet.

NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL: Kirkus Starred Review!

Those happy tears you're hearing? That would be me crying in disbelief over the starred review that North of Beautiful just received from Kirkus. Kirkus, people! Kirkus! For peeps not in the publishing world, this is like the Holy Grail of book reviews.

"The daughter of a verbally abusive cartographer attempts to chart the rugged emotional terrain of her life. Stunning except for the port-wine stain birthmark on her cheek, Terra lives in the shadow of her father's petty sarcasm. She creates collaged maps and endures rigorous workouts to cope, but nothing makes her happy. Then she meets Jacob, a self-assured Asian Goth boy with a cleft lip who invites peoples' stares and doesn't care about Terra's birthmark. A chance to travel to China with Jacob and his adopted mother becomes an opportunity for Terra and her mother to define themselves outside of Dad's narrow parameters and gain the confidence to map their own futures. This emotionally satisfying novel is replete with themes about the true meaning of beauty, the destructive power of verbal abuse and the restorative ability of art. Mapping and cartography terms are expertly woven throughout the text, adding yet another level to an already complex and deeply felt read. Look out, Sarah Dessen. You may have met your match in Headley."

(And have I mentioned that I've idolized Sarah Dessen ever since I read her truly wonderful book, THIS LULLABY? There couldn't be higher praise as far as I'm concerned.)

Today I am grateful for...good reviews! Aaaaahhhh.

North of Beautiful: It's Out?!

The Headley's are here! My in-laws came to town for the long weekend. I don't think they were fully expecting a weekend of photo shoots (I hired Jennifer Winter to take pictures of my kids with both sets of grandparents), geocaching, and loooong, cold walks through the Arboretum and around Green Lake. And what did they give me in return? An overnight at my sister's house and empty laundry baskets. My mother-in-law was the laundry fairy. I teared up! How lucky am I?!
I was kicking myself for not timing their visit better to coincide with my book party for North of Beautiful on February 1.

But then...

After claiming a cache in Seattle, we swung into a Barnes & Noble to warm up. I was so busy devouring my friend Nikki Grimes' lyrical new book, BARACK OBAMA: SON OF PROMISE, CHILD OF HOPE, I didn't look what was next to me until my daughter said, "MOM! They have your book!"

Can you spot it on the bookshelf?

And then! What do I find at Mitali Perkins' booksigning but an entire table of my books. May I just say that the jacket designer at Little, Brown--Miss Saho--absolutely rocks? I have been so lucky with my book covers, thanks to Gail Doobinin and her team of geniuses. Thank you!!!

And looky here! My first book sale to a teen reader--none other than Sarah, a devoted readergirlz member who spoke so eloquently about the power of books while she recovered from all her surgeries on KING 5 when we celebrated Operation Teen Book Drop back in April '08. I couldn't think of a more beautiful girl to hold my first book sale.

Today I am grateful for teens who thrill in the power of story. And booksellers who work so hard to get books into the right hands.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Celebrating Mitali & Secret Keeper!

Mitali Perkins--author, blogger, readergirlz scout, and all-around wondrous woman--swung through Seattle on her book tour for SECRET KEEPER. She wasn't able to make it to our photo shoot for the readergirlz READ poster masterminded by YA librarian Darcy Brixey of KCLS. So we made up for it this weekend.

Kicking off The Day of Mitali, Brenda Gurung at Barnes & Noble greeted the standing room only crowd.

People lined up eagerly to get their hands on Mitali's many novels. I just love the Secret Keeper cover (and I'm not-so-secretly coveting the cover model's eyelashes.)

It seemed like the entire world of writers turned out to laud Mitali, including readergirlz postergirl, Jackie Parker, as well as diva emeritus, Janet Lee Carey. Is it just me or do they look like sisters of the heart?

And here's me with my Jackie girl. I've decided that I want Jackie to dress me and that I would follow her wherever she goes, GPS or no GPS. She is THAT smart.

Holly Cupala--she of the talent behind the North of Beautiful invite--is giggling because we are all salivating for the Indian dessert she made in honor of Mitali.

Today I am grateful for writers like Mitali who bring so much meaning to the world.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

North of Beautiful: Book Party!

Look at what my dear friend, Holly Cupala (A Light that Never Goes Out, 2010), created as a gift for me: a beautiful invitation for my upcoming Book Party!
Today I am thankful for friends who share their talents so graciously with me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Martha Stewart, I am not

There are certain things I can do well. Like...hmmm. I'll get back to you on that.

However, food presentation? Cooking? Anything to do with the kitchen? Not so much.

Here is the cheese platter that my friend, Miss Margaret threw together:

And now I give you Exhibit A: Justina's food offering:

Which would you rather eat? Is there really any choice? Isn't it amazing what a little presentation does for a platter?

And now I give you Exhibit B: Why You Should Never Eat Anything Justina Prepares.

In case you were wondering, Crock Pot bowls should NEVER be used on the stove top. I needed to brown onions for soup that was going into crock pot for all-day simmering. Being efficient and eco (okay, lazy), I thought: heck, why not save myself washing TWO bowls and brown the onions in the crock pot. Yeah...three minutes later, CRAAAACK! The entire bottom fell out.

Today I am thankful for children who don't care what I make; they just eat it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Celebrating Teachers

My kids' first grade teacher is a warrior, battling another round of cancer. We wanted to let her know how beloved she is and had a few peeps over.

Let's hear it for teachers, especially the ones who teach kids to love learning, to treat one another with respect, and to live with zest and honesty.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reason 1 Why I Write for Teens

So I overheard one fellow YA author dismissing the teens we write for, and I swear, I wanted to reach over and bop the author on the head. Hard.

Here's why I write for teens... I give you Exhibit A, a message I just received on Facebook:

"I finished reading Girl Overboard a few days ago, and it's by far one of the most inspiring books I've ever read. I'm in love with Syrah! She's just such an amazing character, and I'm totally inspired by her ideas.After reading the book, I decided to make a difference too. Of course I can't do things the Syrah Cheng Way (though Ride for Our Lives was a cool idea!) but I'll still try. I've decided to volunteer for World Vision and try to help the kids in Africa suffering from poverty.Anyway, thanks for being such a great author and writing an inspirational book!"

This reader--this teen reader--took ACTION based on a book. She inhaled the words and exhaled change in the world.

What other group does that with so much enthusiasm and abandon? With so little self-doubt?

THIS is why I love writing for teens. I love their watch-out-world mentality. I am so proud to write YA!

Today I am grateful for teens who read, reflect, and reach out--the readergirlz way!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Out of this Wordle!

Welcome to one of my obsessions: Wordle.

For whatever reason, was blocked in China. So I was Wordle-deprived for a few months. Ah, just one more joy of being back home in the states. (But my #1 reason why I'm glad to be living back here? Can you say, clean porcelain toilets? Ha. Sort of.)

Now that I'm coming down from my Vision Boarding kick, I thought I better affirm my goals in another visual way. (Can you tell that my 2009 needs mucho spiritual reinforcement?) So here are some of my hopes for the next year. Tell me! Which Wordle do you like best?

Wordle A.

Wordle B.

Today I am so grateful for the guy who created Wordle and shares it freely with the world.

Vision Boarding 101

So many people contacted me about vision boarding. I thought I'd do a primer on them to encourage more of you to create your own. What better time than the beginning of a New Year to figure out what's important to you, how you want to grow, and what you really need to do by year end? (And if you really procrastinate, don't worry--there's CHINESE New Year at the end of the month.)

What's a Vision Board?
For me, a vision board is a collage of symbolic words and images. It's a visual prompt that reminds me of what's important.

Why create a Vision Board?
Before I begin any novel, I spend a week creating a vision board that expresses my character: her dreams, her fears, her story arc. This collage of character set before my computer enables me to sink into my story quickly...important when there are a hundred billion other things competing for attention. Say, the unpaid stack of bills. Or the wedge of brie cheese in the fridge.

Almost every year, I also create a Vision Board to capture what's important to me personally: how I want my family to be, how I want to grow, what I want in life, where I want to commit my time and energy. Since I seem to have a predisposition to saying YES to everything that is asked of me, I've found it's easier to say NO with a visual reminder of what's on my "A" list...and what's not. These boards are my soul's gatekeeper, vetting the opportunities that come along. Making sure that my YESes are the commitments that lead me to my Mountain, rather than take me astray to pretty meadows that go nowhere.

How do you create a Vision Board?

1. Braille the world for imagery. I pillage cards that people have sent me. Catalogs. Magazines. Photographs. My kids' art projects. My own scribblings. Collect, scavenge, reuse.

2. Find a sturdy board.

3. Get glue.

4. Paste images down.

5. Hang up Vision Board in a prominent place.

Let me know if you make a Vision Board! I'd love to hear!

Today I am grateful for people who don't think I'm crazy or too woo-woo or complex. (Vision Boards rock!)

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Patch: Spreekt u het Nederlands?

The very first book I published was a picture book, a Valentine for my daughter, called The Patch. My publisher, Charlesbridge, just sent me a letter informing me that they had sold the Dutch rights to the book! That means that little kids in the Netherlands will be able to read the book in their language. I love that. It's an amazing feeling to know that children across the world may hold my words and Mitch Vane's awesome illustrations cupped in their hands.
Today I am grateful for publishers who work ceaselessly for books they love. Thank you, Charlesbridge!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Neil Gaiman: life sage

As usual, Little Willow found the perfect quote to match my current dilemma. What am I going to do next in my life? Here is wise advice about careers and life from Neil Gaiman, pulled out of the Prince of Stories, a biography about the writer by Golden, Bisette, and Wagner.

This is what Neil told his daughter: "I tried to explain to Holly, recently, because Holly is off in London right now. She wants to be in film, film production, and she gets offered jobs, and sometimes, she genuinely doesn’t know which job she should pursue. The only thing I can tell her is that I was in her position, wanting to write comics, and wanting to write fiction, now making a living as a freelance journalist. I say to her, look, I used to think it was a mountain, a thing I wanted to do, a thing I wanted to be, and as long as I was walking toward that mountain, it was okay. I told her she needs to figure out what her mountain is, and you can sort of judge these things by – does it take you away from the mountain?"

I've been pondering this exact question these last few weeks: what is my mountain? And is my next step going to take me away from my mountain or closer to my mountain?

The beginning of a New Year, I think, is perfect timing for all of us to ponder that... Are we growing? Developing? Reaching our potential? What is that potential? What do we want from life today? Tomorrow? Twenty years from now? And are we making progress to get there: to our beautiful, glorious mountain?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Poetry Friday: Rumi

Another wonderful rumination by Rumi...

You must have shadow and light source both.

Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.