Friday, June 12, 2009

I Found a Garden

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know what I wrote in my last novel: Mother Nature trumps gardens. Well, I was wrong. Hello, Kathy Fries, the Picasso of gardens.

So yesterday my kids and I dropped by Kathy's house with a gift for her husband who helped me recently. (Ed is a legend in gaming!) What do you give a legend? Well, my friend, Ben Boos, autographed a copy of his beautiful book
for Ed and his family.

To say Ben autographed the book is a bit of an understatement. I sign my name and call it good. Ben? He drew an elaborate, detailed dragon...and then signed the book.

As a total unexpected treat, Kathy took me and the kids on a tour of her gardens, which have been featured in magazines and the book I've been coveting:

See, I love, love, love small homes and cozy sheds. I dream about having a tiny little shed dedicated as a writer's studio. Absolutely fantasize about walking a meandering path from my house to studio. Small and snug, it would have room for a desk and a chair and that's about it. So Kathy gave me a copy of her book, plus shared her homemade rhubarb sorbet with us. YUM.

Today I am just so grateful for all the cool, talented, generous people I am so lucky to meet. This is something I want my children to learn: every day, every day is a miracle waiting to unfold. There are magicians out there--whether gardeners or gamers or illustrators. You just have to look.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mrs. Magoo + North of Beautiful Contest

Pop on over to Mrs. Magoo Reads and enter her North of Beautiful contest. All you have to do is watch the trailer she made for my book and leave a comment on her blog!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Books in Beijing! be called the modern-day Judy Blume is high praise. But to be called that from all the way over in utterly amazing. Here's an interview with me in this month's Beijing Kids Magazine.

Thanks to Eveline Chao, the wonderful reporter who asked fantastic questions.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Truth: I Heart Chicago Public Library

Oh, let's just get it out there: I will play favorites when it comes to the Chicago Public Library. This was one of the first library systems to get behind my debut novel in a big way--inviting me out to meet a bunch of their libraries, sending me to local schools, especially the ones in the inner city, asking me to speak at their conference where I proceeded to CRY onstage!

Anyhow, Chicago Public Library also has this amazing Teen Volume program where teens enact scenes from books. For the last couple of years, they've included Patty from NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES). They just took her to a conference in the last week or so.

And then Mrs. Magoo just reviewed the book on her blog.

Today, I'm so grateful to people who are keeping my first novel alive and well. Thank you.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Nothing is stranger than being someone's homework assignment. Really. Nothing. Some authors are surprisingly blase about this: "Justina, you'll get used to it." I don't think so.

I am homework.
I am someone's grade.
This is weird.

A librarian sent me this student's work:

So, students, I promise to update the FAQ on my website this summer so that finding info is easier than ever. And remember: the picture of me getting my hair washed in China from an earlier blog post was purely for informative purposes. Not for reports. I will be horrified if anyone uses that photo in a report. HOR-RI-FIED.

Incidentally, to the above student: A+

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Manuscripts in a Library Collection!

Holy guacamole! The University of Minnesota just asked for my manuscript materials to house in their Kerlan Collection. This is so extraordinary to me since I remember trolling the libraries at Stanford, looking at the manuscripts kept there. There was magic in those manuscripts; I could feel the novels taking shape, version after version.

While I can't imagine a single instance where a researcher would want to look at my research notes and scribbled upon manuscript pages, this is still so...surreal...and cool.

Today I am grateful for curators like Karen Nelson Hoyle who relish young adult novels. Thank you.