Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Up and Running

Key West -- hope you had a merry day yesterday. My elves were hard at work and I'm thrilled to say the New Website is up and running under it's permanent name judyblume.com. Check it out and let me know (judyb@judyblume.com) what you think or if you find any glitches. Some pages, mainly in reference, are still Under Construction. (Love that page! I'll probably never get another chance to drive a bulldozer.) Our web designer, MarkTuchman, will be animating the Home Page after the holidays. Can't wait to paddle my kayak through the Sea of Words. None of us can believe that after all these years of planning, organizing, designing, proofing, programming -- this site is finally a reality! A million thanks to Larry, who spearheaded this project, to Mark for his brilliant design, Melissa for her programming, and to George who worked with all of us to get it on the web for Christmas Day. What a gift!

And thanks to all of you for reading my books and this blog!
XX Judy

Saturday, December 22, 2007

'Tis the Season

Wishing You All Very Happy Holidays!

Elliot sent me this picture of his cat, Keith, yesterday. They had another 7 inches of snow and are counting the days until they join us in Key West. Larry arrived here last night.
He and George have been "playing" with computers all day. This is how they have fun. George's latest is an olpc. I have to say, it's impressive. And so is the program, One Laptop Per Child (laptop.org). Check it out.

I know he'll be donating more computers. That's the thing -- there are so many great programs to support this time of year. It's hard to choose. I concentrate on those I really know, in Key West, on the Vineyard, and in New York.

My gift is being with my family for the holidays. I hope you get something you want this year, too.
Love,
Judy

Friday, December 14, 2007

Coming Soon!

Key West -- We are this close to launching the new website! This is how the Blog will look. We've been asked to wait another week before putting up the rest of the site, until the whole team has a chance to give their approval. I've been proofing pages like mad, while I should have been revising Going, Going, Gone! the third book in the Pain & the Great One series. Now I'll be working all weekend to get the changes back to my editor next week. But no complaints. I'm in Key West. The weather is beautiful, and the garden is lush and green.

In case anyone is interested, here's how I've been spending my time away from my desk:

1. Flushing out my nostrils with saline solution -- sinus problem caused by the flight down.
I could be a poster girl for this product, I've gone through so many cans since discovering it.

2. Physical therapy - twice a week for my shoulder, injured last May. My sweet PT assures me I'm making great progress, as I lay on her table writhing in pain.

3. Weight training at the gym twice a week with Bill Yankee, "Gym Teacher to the Stars." That's what we call him because back in Cleveland he was a gym teacher (also taught science -- and nobody is more fascinated by reptiles than Bill).



4. Interview with Stella Magazine, a Sunday supplement of the Telegraph, a UK newspaper.
Enjoyed the reporter and photographer so much we all went to lunch together. Wish there had been time to give them a guided tour of Key West but they were both flying back to NY.




6. Book signing at Voltaire, Key West's new indie bookshop. We all love having Voltaire in town.


Sorry to hear about the brutal weather around the country. I could feel guilty for being here -- but then I remind myself of what happened to this town two years ago when it was struck by four hurricanes in a row. So it's okay that's it's beautiful now and that I'm enjoying it, right?
More soon.
Love,
Judy

Monday, November 26, 2007

Goodbye Winter

New York -- The Saga of the Winter Coat Continues:
I was back in my new winter coat on Friday. George thinks it's so cool (actually, he used the word "cute" but that's embarrassing) he took a pix of me heading out to a restaurant to meet friends for dinner. If you promise not to gag you can see it. It's not a bad thing for your husband to admire you in your new coat. Especially after 28 years together (anniversary coming up next week!).

We had a lovely time with the family over Thanksgiving weekend. Here we are following brunch at Odeon on Saturday. I know, it's really hard to see everyone clearly. I promise to do better over Christmas in Key West.



For the record,we are: Randy, Larry, and next to me George, and Elliot. Amanda couldn't get away. She's the busiest person I know, running Bill Richardson's presidential campaign.

It's time to pack up for our flight to Key West tomorrow. I always pack too much, especially sweaters and scarves. But you never know -- sometimes we get temps as low as 60 in winter. Go ahead, laugh! My grandson does. He can't believe I sometimes wear socks and sweaters and even a leather jacket in Key West. I like to think if I pack it, I won't need it. It's my little game. The kind of game I learned from my mother.

Getting back to Key West means getting back to work. First I'll be revising Going, Going, Gone... the 3rd book in the Pain & the Great One series. Then I'll start thinking about the 4th book which I'll have to write over the winter. I like knowing what my winter writing project will be.

Hope you're all recovering from your holiday weekend. I just ate the last piece of Randy's apple pie. Yum!

More from Key West....
Love,
Judy
PS If you've been browsing here and wonder what's going on with the blog colors, we're getting ready for the launch of the new website (soon!) and are experimenting.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

New York-- and a Happy Thanksgiving to all! It's going to be 65 degrees today! Who knew? The new black winter coat will spend the day in the closet but I'm not regretting the purchase yet because tomorrow it's supposed to be freezing! Hey, I remind myself. Life is about more than the weather. When I was growing up in Elizabeth, NJ we went to the high school football game on Thanksgiving morning. I remember all kinds of weather but nothing like this. What a treat for those on the street, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, not to mention those who are marching in it. The parade passes by our building. Here's the view from our window.

I choke up when I hear a marching band. Don't ask why -- I've no idea. George looks at me as if I've totally lost it. Maybe it has to do with a childhood memory. Whatever, I cried several times while craning my neck out the window to watch what was going on 12 stories below. Couldn't tell from up here what this group in green represented but I liked the way they twirled.



Speaking of twirling -- when I was 9 I wanted desperately to twirl a baton. We lived in Miami Beach then and went to the Orange Bowl parade where I first saw baton twirlers up close. I was given a baton for Hanukkah that year and I practiced and practiced, throwing my baton up in the air and trying to catch it. I got hit in the head more than once. Never did get to twirl with a marching band but if you give me a baton (or any object resembling one) I'll do a couple of figure eights for you.

Now that the parade has passed it's time to get ready for the rest of our day. We're gathering at my former husband's house. Among the many things I'm grateful for today (and every day) is that John is married to the wonderful Myrna and that we've become one extended family. It means a lot to our grown children, to Elliot, and to us.

I know this can be a tough (and lonely) time of year for some of you who have written to me and I'm thinking of you today.

For those of us lucky enough to have friends and family to share the holiday -- enjoy!
Love,
Judy

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Autumn in New York

New York -- We flew to NY on Saturday to spend Thanksgiving week with friends and family. On Sunday morning it was so cold in the city I bought myself a winter coat! It's probably been 20 years since I've bought a coat. I'm only here for a week, I kept telling myself as I walked across the park, freezing. Yes, but it's a long week, I argued. And what's the point of being here if you can't comfortably walk everywhere? Finally, I convinced myself to go for it.

On Monday morning when we woke up it was snowing! This is the view from our bedroom window. You can't see the snow but it didn't last that long anyway. The trees in the park are just past peak color but still beautiful. They're a month behind schedule. Usually by Thanksgiving, the trees are almost bare.
The city is packed with visitors from other countries. George and I were counting how many languages we heard while walking through the park to 5th Ave. The visitors are shopping like mad. Only they think the prices are affordable. Still, I'm glad they're enjoying our city.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving Day when I'll see Randy, Larry, and Elliot!
Love,
Judy

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Astro and Jazz

Key West -- I got an offer I couldn't refuse to fly down with some friends and their dogs last Saturday. I like dogs but I'm allergic to some of them. I get giant hives wherever they lick me. And once, when I was a senior at high school I rolled around on the floor with a standard poodle at the home of our family doctor. By the time I got home my face had swelled, my eyes were nearly shut, and I was wheezing. The doctor told my father, who was a dentist, to give me a shot of adrenaline. No one knew then that I have mitral valve prolapse, a benign condition that can make getting adrenaline dangerous -- and if not dangerous, frightening. My heart pounded, I shook all over, and I was scared out of my mind.

So the idea of spending three hours in a small cabin with Astro and Jazz was of some concern. But I'm happy to report the dogs weren't allergic to me and I had no trouble with them. They were excellent travel companions.




I'm so glad I decided to go for it. If I'm going to be locked up working for two weeks this is where I want to be. I love New York but I no longer like working there. When I look out the window I want to be outside. I feel as if I have to have some kind of mission every day to get me out of the apartment. In Key West I work at a desk facing a garden. When I slide open the big glass doors I feel as if I'm outside in the garden.

Did I say I was able to send my editor 4 stories from the third book in the Pain&Great One series (Going, Going, Gone!) before I left? That means I have to finish two more stories plus some words of wisdom from Fluzzy the Cat. I'm giving myself a week for each story.

The problem is, the first story seems to have turned into two. I'm not sure I want it to be two. So I'm letting it rest for a couple of days while I get going on the next story. In this one the family is visiting an eccentric grandpa who lives near the Everglades.

George once took me on a canoe trip through the Everglades. We camped out for a week. Never saw another human. But saw plenty of incredible birds and even a group of 3 alligators. I'd read a book about poisonous snakes in the Everglades the night before our trip began. Not smart! I had leather dress boots with me (low heeled I'm happy to say) and never took them off, not for 7 days and nights, not even to portage through thigh high gray muck because my book said snakes and alligators (I think it said alligators) can't bite through leather. So while the Pain&the Great One won't be on a week long trip through the Everglades, Grandpa Pete will surely take them out in his canoe to see the birds and....you never know what might happen. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Getting Back to Work

New York -- I took some time off after my book tour. October was such a beautiful month in the city -- every day as warm as the perfect summer day -- I spent hours walking through the park. George and I even had a couple of late lunches at outdoor cafes, something we never make time for. One afternoon, as a special treat, George took me home in a horse and carriage. I've done this maybe two other times in my life.
The driver didn't get it and tried to give us the tourist treatment, explaining the various park attractions to us. We finally had to tell him we lived in the city. He let us off at our corner. A real indulgence -- one we won't do again anytime soon.

Watched the baseball playoffs, rooting for Elliot's team - the Red Sox - since my team (the Mets) was already out of it. I hate to admit this but I've become attached to the Red Sox players so I'm glad I have a team to root for in the Series. Wish the games didn't start so late. I'm trying to stay awake until the end of each one but it's not easy. So far we're two games up!

Spent all day yesterday in the recording studio as Kathleen McInerney captured the voices of The Pain and the Great One and all the other characters in Soupy Saturdays on a CD. And guess who got to read the part of Fluzzy? Not easy coming up with the voice of a cat. Actually, I think Fluzzy will sound a lot like me. Kathleen recorded Cool Zone, too, so the CD will be ready when that book comes out next May (and yes, I'm Fluzzy in that one, too!) We had a director, a producer, and a sound engineer. Kathleen was amazing! We kept feeding her mashed potatoes and cups of water to soothe her throat (her choice).

Tomorrow George is going to Key West. I was planning to fly down with him but I still have so much to do in the city I'm going to have to wait -- maybe until after Thanksgiving. Now it's time to get back to work. I've promised my publisher at least two finished stories for the third book, Going, Going, Gone this week, and the rest of the stories are due by Thanksgiving. Help!!
I think the trick will be to clear my desk and no matter what, to get started writing first thing every morning -- no e-mail, no Blogging, no distractions -- until I've spent three hours at the computer. George says he'll come back and keep me company if I decide to stay for the extra few weeks. I've got drafts of almost all the stories and since rewriting is the part of the process I like best it shouldn't be too hard. (Remind me I said that! Thinking about it is always so much easier than actually doing the work.)

I'm reading Tom Perrotta's The Abstinence Teacher. Imagine my surprise at finding a reference to Are You There God? It's Me Margaret early in the novel! I really like his writing. Hope to finish the book tonight. I'm always guessing how a novelist is going to end his/her story but this one has me puzzled. And no, I never do what my friend Mary does -- read the last page first! It kills me when she does that. Well, maybe if I'm not enjoying the book and am just curious, but if I'm involved with the characters, never!

Hope I'll get to post another entry soon but at least you'll know what I'm doing if I don't.
Happy Halloween to everyone who enjoys Halloween!
Love,
Judy

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Banned Books & Bonfires

Massachusetts -- Just as I was talking about Banned Books on Friday night at Elliot's school, a huge bonfire was lit in the field in front of the library. I knew this was going to happen (it was part of Spirit Week). I just didn't know how dramatic it would be. I mean, there I was, standing in front of a floor to ceiling window in the school library, talking about what book banning means -- and right behind me is this perfect reminder of a time and place where books were thrown into a bonfire and burned. I hate to remind anyone that not that many years ago in America a couple of religious zealots actually burned books they had stolen from the library because not only didn't they want their children to read them, they didn't want anyone's children to read them.

For me, it was an emotional end to Banned Books Week -- with students and faculty filling the cozy library, celebrating the freedom to read. Thanks, Alison, for making it happen. And thanks to all of you who came.

Love,
Judy

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Soupy Tour --The Longest Night

New York -- Last Friday night beat the record. Arrived at the bookstore 5:15, left the bookstore close to midnight. You know my fear about nobody showing up for a signing? This was the opposite. I felt like Mother Hubbard. I can't imagine how JK Rowling does it. Thanks, guys, for a five hour wait. You are incredibly loyal readers! I also met teachers, librarians, grandparents, babies in strollers, people who grew up with my books, and a guy who waited for hours to bring home a signed book to his wife. I wrote a note asking her to be especially nice to him that night. But I admit, there were times when it all felt out of control. It probably did to those of you who were there, too.

Before the signing these young reporters interviewed me for Kidsday, a part of Newsday. Thanks for your thoughtful questions! You are all young Brenda Starrs ( I wanted to be "Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter" when I was a kid).

Somewhere around midnight we left the bookstore and Beverly and Christine (from Random House) took me to the Sweet Hollow diner for scrambled eggs and toast. By then I felt pretty much like toast myself. (Make that soggy toast.)

Saturday -- The next afternoon we were at it again -- this time at Bank Street Books in Manhattan. When someone in my life has a baby I call Bank Street and ask them to send a package of some of my favorite picture books as a gift. I love sending books to help build a new baby's library.

Also, my friend Mary who teaches K-first grade told me that I should thank Bank Street college for "The Breaf-kast Cafe" a story in Cool Zone, the next book in the Pain and the Great One series (due in May). They're the ones who came up with the first grade program used in Mary's school that culminates with running a restaurant at the end of the school year. I based my story on a visit to their Breakfast Cafe.

It was great to greet and sign books for so many readers! Also, had a surprise visit from my friend Rachel Vail and her family. Rachel is a great writer. If you don't know her work, check it out. I've known her since before her first book was published. I like to think of myself as one of her Fairy Godmothers. Not that she wouldn't have made it without me. My agent dropped by too, and Beverly, Christine and George were at my side. Also met many students from Columbia Teachers College which gives me hope for the next generation of teachers. Thanks to everyone who came, who waited on line on the street (lucky for all of us it was a beautiful day) and who were still in a good mood when they got to my signing desk.

Sunday -- Dozed through the humiliating defeat of my Mets. I can't even get into that and the disappointment it brought. How could it have happened?

Monday -- we were at it again, this time in New Jersey (no, not baseball -- signing books). Only instead of signing in front of my readers, I was taken to a room where I signed in advance. Since this book store event took place at a school I had teachers and the librarian for company -- and what good company they were! Brenda gave me neck massages as needed. Someone provided pretzels and candy bars. I'd filled up on pasta before leaving home having learned my lesson on Friday night -- but I did feel the need for one Nestle's Crunch just before I went out to do my program with the kids.

And would you believe, the very last question was asked by a girl in a Phillies shirt! (The Phillies smashed the Mets in Sunday's final game of the season.) I'm afraid I made her so uncomfortable about her shirt she tried to cover the letters across her chest. Sorry for that.

Met the grown daughter of my brother's high school friend. He's an identical twin and I had a mad crush on them when I was about 13 and my brother was 17. I once made them baked potatoes (the only thing I knew how to cook) hoping that would make them like me. But when they came to the house and I offered the potatoes, they said, No thanks! Sandy married Faith, who was two years ahead of me at school. She was a cheerleader. I never managed to do a cartwheel, a backbend, or a split so cheerleading wasn't in the cards for me. Here they are at their 50th wedding anniversary.
Happy Anniversary!!

And so, the official tour for Soupy Saturdays is over (though I'm hoping to do two signings in Florida before the holidays -- one in Miami and another in Key West). Will keep you posted.
The best part was meeting so many of you. And my publisher was happy when the book hit the best seller list. I'd like to say that doesn't matter but who am I kidding?

So -- on to other things, starting with a visit to Elliot's school tomorrow where I'm going to meet with a creative writing class and give a talk about Banned Books Week. Did you know -- this is Banned Books Week? So read a banned book! Talk about the freedom to read and how important it is to all of us. Check out censorship on my website and join National Coalition Against Censorship

Love,
Judy

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We Got Mortified!

Last night George and I went to the Mortified show in NY. We had the BEST time! We laughed until our sides ached. If you live near any of the cities currently producing Mortified shows catch one. (It's not a show for kids.) The audience last night was mainly 20-30 somethings. The couple next to us were married with three kids and having a date night. They loved it just like we did. I mean, we were all adolescents, right? And we all had those moments in our lives.

How I wish I'd kept my teen diaries with my secret code words so if my mother ever got her hands on it she wouldn't have a clue what I was writing about (Ha!). I even kept a series of rubber bands wrapped around it (it had no lock and key -- it was one of those freebies sent out by insurance companies at Christmas time -- but it did have a hard cover) so I would be able to tell if my mother read it. I'm sure she did though she never admitted it. If you've saved your diaries, poems, songs, stories -- you, too, have a chance to get mortified.















Here are some of the performers who shared their adolescent angst with us last night. Yes, there were also guys in the show but they didn't make it into this pix. Thanks everyone! Thanks, too, to David N. who started the whole thing and invited us to be his guests. Dave, we'll meet up one of these days!
XX Judy
PS Meg, you'd love it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Soupy Tour -- Pillows

New York -- back in our apartment and to tell you the truth, there was less stress on the road. On the road you know what you have to do, and you do it! At home you need to unpack, do the laundry, grocery shop, keep all the appointments that were set up before the road trip, catch up on work (or at least, look at it) -- well, it's real life. This is nothing new to any of you, I know.

The hotels we stayed at had the most luxurious pillows on the beds -- stacks of them. I loved sinking into them. I'm supposed to be allergic to feathers and down so buy only non-allergic pillows -- but I didn't have any allergies while we were traveling -- and last night, as I stacked up my own pillows (I sleep on three, angled so they don't hurt my neck) I found them, well, lacking. There's something about that crisp hotel linen and those stuffed pillows.

I remember my first book tour (16 cities) for Wifey, when my kids were 15 and 17 and we lived in Santa Fe. At my request my publisher flew me home to them every weekend. It's not easy to get in and out of Santa Fe. You have to fly to Albuquerque, then drive or take a bus up to Santa Fe (about an hour). I'd get home late Friday night and have to leave again on Sunday afternoon. I'd try to be Mom while I was home but I was so tired I'm sure I didn't do the best job. Traveling with George makes it a lot more fun on the road. And my grown children don't need me in the same way they did when they were teens. I can just call to say hello. Two weeks isn't a big deal to them. To me it feels as if I've been away for ages.

The doorbell is ringing...be right back...
Wow -- the most beautiful flowers were just delivered. No, not from my secret admirer, from my publisher, thanking me for getting through the book tour. Sweet.
Wishing you all something sweet, too.
XX Judy

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Soupy Tour -- Girlfriends

LA to Santa Fe --George and I had planned on going to the Get Mortified show on Wednesday night in LA but he was feeling too sick that night to leave the hotel. So I missed it again! But one of these days, maybe in NY next week, I'm going to experience the fun/angst/mortification of David N's show. I'm trying to get David to do a show in Key West, maybe at the Tropic Cinema. I know my friend Meg Cabot is a fan so between the two of us maybe we can make it happen.

At breakfast at our LA hotel we shared our space with these little guys.

Also got to meet (finally) my new movie agent. I told her I'd love to see a feature made of one of my books during my lifetime! But that's an ongoing story....

In LA I met with old friends Steve and Lin who started the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators For any of you who are interested in children's books you've got to check out SCBWI. It's the best. I only wish it had been around when I started to write. It's been ages since I've had the chance to have a Girls Night Out with Lin. We gabbed for four hours over dinner. What a treat! And at the end of the evening when Lin said she had to get up early to catch a plane to Albuquerque I couldn't believe it! We were on the same plane so the gabfest continued (George asked if there's a Guinness Book of World Records for consecutive gabbing?) Not only that, we're at the same hotel in Santa Fe. Lin is celebrating her friend's birthday and we're celebrating Amanda's 40th. Talk about coincidences!

Now, after two days in Santa Fe, George is feeling much better. He's been hiking in the mountains with Amanda and Jim. My old friend Helene (we met when we both lived in Los Alamos, the setting for Tiger Eyes) drove down from Aspen so we could spend time together. Also had a visit with Bill and Barbara, two of my first friends when I moved to New Mexico in '76. Dinner with Ruthy (Smart Women is dedicated to her) Paul, and Helene at a restaurant that used to be the Periscope back in the 70's. Loved telling the young staff that we knew it then. They looked at us as if -- Oh, these guys must have been wild once upon a time!

We dropped in to an independent bookstore in downtown Santa Fe -- Collected Works . Was so glad to see it's not only still in business but is thriving -- and they had 6 copies of Soupy Saturdays. Bought five copies to give to my friends' grandchildren (didn't want to buy them out!) Promised I'd come back some day and do a signing.

Santa Fe is so beautiful this time of year. We keep forgetting what a beautiful city this is. George is lobbying me to spend more time here. Ditto, our friends. And I admit, it's been wonderful spending time with them, and Amanda and Jim. A great break. Wish there were more time -- way more time.

Tomorrow's a travel day. Then three more book signings in the New York area next weekend. Hope to see some of you there!
XX Judy

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Soupy Tour -- Survived (So Far)

San Francisco to LA -- George has caught a nasty cold. I'm the one who usually winds up sick from flying around and meeting my readers but so far I've been lucky. (My mother would tell me to knock on wood.) Am Purell-ing like mad and flushing out my nostrils with saline and doing other things you definitely don't want to hear about.

San Francisco was the last official city on the road. Patricia, the make-up artist, worked her magic. I got to wear the blue leather jacket on two TV shows (I'd bought it in Miami last winter then saved it for the book tour -- nevermind that I saw it on sale at half price in NY in June -- oh well!) And the booksigning at Books, Inc in Alameda was the perfect end to the Soupy road tour. When we walked in an hour early for the 6:30 signing there were already people seated. One girl, maybe 8 or 9 called out, "Judy -- I have a question!" I stopped to listen and she asked, "Are you nice?" I couldn't help laughing. I mean, that's a first! I told her I'd let George answer her question and he said, "Well, she's nice to children!"

Allison and Fhay from Current TV were there. Fun to see them again. And Jeff (Geoff?) who was hosting the event had a great sense of humor and added to the success of the evening. I admit, when I came out from the office later and saw the crowd that filled this small store, I had a moment when I felt Uh oh! You know that feeling when you think there's no oxygen in the room and you're going to pass out? But it only lasted a minute and I don't think anyone noticed -- someone opened the door or turned up the air conditioning, or something, because suddenly there was a breeze and we could all breathe again.
video
During the Q&A a boy with purplish hair asked how old I am. It's usually a boy who asks that one, and it's usually a boy who asks, "How much do you make?" (though I haven't heard that question on this tour.) As for my age -- I always make it into a math problem. I tell them my birthdate and wait for someone to get it right. I've heard everything from 25 to 95 but this crowd was quick to come up with the answer. I did a few tap steps to prove that physical age doen't mean much. It's how you feel inside. (Good they didn't see how quickly the energy faded once the signing was over). I was at the store for almost 4 hours so we didn't get back to the hotel until after 10pm. Too late for a proper dinner but we did get some scrambled eggs and toast. Thanks everyone for coming out and for waiting so patiently! I love it when the store gives out tickets then calls the customers up by number -- Now serving numbers 130-175. It reminds me of a deli or a bakery.

Had a couple of interesting moments when a fox terrier (a real one) picked up a kleenex from the floor and started munching it. His owner wasn't part of the signing -- she was just a customer browsing and didn't seem at all concerned at her dog's antics, not even when he went after a stroller and I called out to alert the mom to keep an eye on her baby. The "baby" turned out to be two adult cats. No wonder the dog was so interested. The crowd loved it -- That's Alameda! they said. Reminded me of Key West.

The next morning I was at it again, signing 200 copies for the NCIBA (that's Northern California Independent Booksellers Assoc). How I wish I could have stopped at all the independent bookstores in the area.

No time to see the friends I'd hoped to see in the Bay Area though we did get to have lunch with Dave and Vendela, a real treat. In Double Fudge I paid homage to Dave by having Peter and Jimmy Fargo play a game of sock hockey. Later, when I let Elliot and his friend try it in our apartment, they used brooms instead of hockey sticks and a package of Lipton Soup as a puck. What a mess! The game ended in hysterical laughter -- the kind you know can quickly turn to tears because the kids are so worked up and the hour is late.

Had a tour of 826 Valencia
What a great place. Chatted with a group of 7th grade boys who are regulars, then a group of younger girls, all being helped with their schoolwork by a dedicated group of volunteer tutors. Inspired George and me to try to get something going in Key West.

Raced to the airport to catch our plane to LA only to discover I'd lost my Afrin. (I'm not "allowed" to fly without it because of my sinus problem.) My hero, George, left me at the airport and hopped a cab to a drugstore. We missed the 6pm plane but enjoyed the quiet time, reading, until the next one, at 8:15. Finished a very good book by Vendela Vida, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name. A different and haunting story, one I won't forget.

And now we're in LA for two days. George is asleep on the bed, though it's a gorgeous day. Poor guy -- he really feels bad though he'd never admit it. I'm on the computer, watching over him.

On Friday we go to Santa Fe to spend the weekend with Amanda and Jim. Then back to New York for three more signings. Check the calendar to find out if there's one near you. Hope to see you there.
Love,
Judy

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Soupy Tour -- From Hill to Hill

Seattle to San Francisco -- Opening night of the Seattle Children's Theater production of Disney's High School Musical was exuberant --with the most talented, energetic cast! It's been 20 years since I've been there and the new theater complex is a wonder. Like all non-profits, they depend on the generosity of the community. They have an amazing theater program for young people who are interested in performing, set design, and everything else that makes a production possible.

University Bookstore hosted my book signing on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies (the U of Washington football team) were playing at the same time, and the U. Bookstore is on campus. Need I say more? But my loyal readers somehow made it anyway. Thanks, guys! One of my favorite questions from the Q&A before the signing came from a grown up reader who asked -- How about a book where Fudge is grown up and has a child exactly like the child he was? (A kind of pay back, I guess.) I told her that wasn't in the cards. Fudge is never going to grow up, at least not in any book that I write. I explained that's one of the reasons I've created the characters in Soupy Saturdays. Then another adult asked for a sequel to Summer Sisters and I had to tell her that that wasn't in the cards either.

After the signing, Stesha, who's in charge of special events at the store, passed around her delicious home baked chocolate chip cookies, which got me through the stock signing. Thanks to Stesha and her staff for a great job.

Then we headed to the airport for the flight to San Francisco where I had an early morning call for a TV show the next morning.

When I got to the station I thought I saw a box of colorful candies sitting on the table. (Yes, I'd had a proper breakfast in the room at 7am). But when I took a closer look I realized it was pots of makeup. The guest before me, Rhoda, who's written an autobiography-- Rhoda, the First Ninety Years -- had brought her own makeup artist with her and she looked great. How come I hadn't thought of that? Getting up at 6am and trying to get on eyeliner and mascara without getting a blob of one or the other in my eye, isn't my idea of a fun way to start the day. Noreen, the Random House publicist who'd met us in Seattle (after Elizabeth had returned to NY) saw me looking longingly at the makeup. Well, I wasn't just looking. And I wasn't exactly begging but I did make a case for professionally applied makeup -- after all, they wanted me to look my best on camera, right? And look at Rhoda -- look how natural and healthy she looked. Noreen took pity and cut a deal with Patricia, the makeup artist, who "adjusted" my makeup. It must have looked okay on camera because Noreen arranged for Patricia to meet us tomorrow morning before the first of two shows. That means an extra hour of sleep.

Later, I did another interview with Current TV outside in the park. Walking up the hills in Seattle and now San Francisco has to be the best cardio exercise ever!

I loved the two young women, Allison, the producer, and Fay on camera, who worked with me. We started at a fountain where a very large dog walked up to me, sniffed, then walked away-- which cracked us up -- and wound up at a playground where 2 year old T. hung around. Eventually, he went down the slide with his Dad and it looked like so much fun I tried it too!
video
Okay, -- time to get the makeup off and get to bed.
Love,
Judy

Friday, September 14, 2007

Soupy Tour -- Connections

Seattle -- Cruised Lake Washington yesterday afternoon on a tour boat. What a perfect afternoon on the water. Later, stopped into a shop, Nubia, with intriguing windows -- I can't resist art to wear so dragged George into the store with me. He sat in a chair and read while I browsed. The owner suggested a jacket for me but I explained we lived most of the year in Key West and I didn't need anything like it. She told me her son had spent time in Key West, that he'd worked at a fabulous movie theater there, had fallen in love with film, and was now back in college in Seattle, studying it.

"Could it have been the Tropic Cinema?" I asked.
"Yes," she answered, "and my son raved about the guys who started it."

At that point I introduced her to George (Mr. Tropic Cinema). George remembered her son who'd been a projectionist at the Tropic for a few months. Is this small-world-stuff or what? I mean, we're in Seattle and the Tropic is in Key West, but we're all connected!? At that point I really had to buy something to commemorate the moment so I got this silvery shirt with uneven sides.

This morning I did a one hour NPR show. I wondered what we'd do for an hour but the time flew by. The host, Steve Scher, was great -- really fun and easy to talk to. Thanks to those of you who called in, and all of you who listened. Then a rush to make a TV appearance on what I thought was a news show but turned out to be more of a talk show with an audience. There was a yellow lab wearing a bandana in the first row (on the floor, not in a seat) and I had to resist the urge to keep looking at it. I half expected it to ask me a question.

Break for a manicure -- hey, I'm signing books again tomorrow -- can't have ratty nails! If any of you reading this are in Seattle, I'll be at University Bookstore at 1pm. Meeting my readers is always the highlight of any tour! So far I've heard from just two disappointed adults, both grandmas. One, because I spelled her granddaughter's name wrong when I signed her book (I've promised her a replacement, properly signed) and another -- whose granddaughter was the first child I met in Detroit at Borders. She was at the cafe, clutching a copy of Soupy Saturdays. I asked if we could take her picture for the blog, then forgot to post it. So here it is now. Sorry, Alex.

Off to opening night at the Seattle Children's Theater.
Love,
Judy

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Soupy Tour -- Pigs on Parade


Seattle -- All over town there are Pigs on Parade. Each pig is decorated by a different artist and all are for sale -- to benefit a good cause, I'm sure. This one is my favorite.

Did a couple of phone interviews this morning. One from a reporter who called back five minutes after the interview to say she realized she'd pushed the wrong button on her tape recorder and didn't get any of what I said. She confessed this was her first interview and asked if I would please do the interview again. At that moment I remembered another, lengthy phone interview many years ago, and how I just couldn't do it again. This time, the young reporter sounded so distraught we did a second, abbreviated interview. I'll bet she'll hit the right button from now on.

The other interview was with a reporter from a Dallas paper, focusing on the 35th Anniversary of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. 35 years! The Dallas Children's Theater is doing a production of Tales... which reminded me that that play originated here in Seattle at the Seattle Children's Theater in 1986 -- and that I happened to be here on a book tour on opening night. That was a real thrill! The play has made the rounds of children's theaters around the country ever since. When Elliot was about seven I took him to see a production at the Kennedy Center in DC -- in which Fudge was played by a 400 pound man (talk about non-traditional casting!).
Seattle Children's Theater is opening a play this Friday night based on High School Musical. Is Disney taking over the world, or what?

To those of you who observe Rosh Hashannah, L'shana tova.

XX Judy

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11

Seattle -- flying on September 11 brings back all those memories of six years ago. Not that I'd ever forget but it makes me think about the people boarding their flights that morning. How you never know what might happen or how or when. How random it all is.

We landed in Seattle on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Called our kids. Needed to connect.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Soupy Tour -- Gimme Writer's Cramp Any Time

Chicago -- after a Monday spot on the noon news, and a sandwich back at the hotel with George and General Petraeus (the latter on the tube) I decided to catch up on my Blog – which turned out to be a Big Mistake – because instead of resting up for the evening event, a book signing in Skokie, I tried to upload photos into just the right place in my post and kept getting everything wrong. (Where are you Meg Cabot when I need you? Meg's blog is my inspiration!) This can be very frustrating to a novice like me. Never mind time consuming. Two hours flew by and next thing I knew it was time to leave for an interview with B&N. I think it will be downloadable as a podcast from their website.

Judy, my author escort, reminded me that she’d met me way back in the mid-70's when she worked for Kroch’s (a bookstore) and I was on tour (probably for Wifey) and my marriage was falling apart and I cried my way through the city, trying to pull myself together for interviews, then falling apart again. I’d actually forgotten about that. Who’d want to remember? It was a hellish time in my life. I couldn’t wait to introduce her to George to prove I’d gotten it right this time. Lovely Elizabeth, from Random House, was also with us. She’d flown in to Detroit on Saturday to be with me at the signing and continued on to Chicago. By Monday evening we'd bonded -- that's how it is on the road. So, off we went to Skokie, in the rain, with Judy our author escort doing a fine job behind the wheel. Of course I was thinking, Rain!-- that means no one will show. (That old anxiety still cropping up.)

But it was a great crowd and a great mix of young kids, parents who grew up with my books, teachers, librarians, the curious, and those loyal 20-somethings who always choose Just As Long As We’re Together and Here’s To You, Rachel Robinson as their favorites. We did a Q&A, my favorite way to interact with an audience. After the 5th “Where did you get the idea for Fudge?” question we got down to the business of signing. Three hours later I was a zombie (stretching out my arm and fingers to avoid writer's cramp, which I've learned to do because I had it once, in Australia and I couldn't sign anything, let alone my name -- but George volunteered to sign for me, and you know what? -- no one minded at all. ) But in Skokie I signed everything, including one boy who went home with my autograph on his forehead – with his mom’s blessing. (Please don't ask -- I'm not doing that again!) I wonder if I was using a washable sharpie or the permanent kind? I guess he’ll find out.

Four year old Lev Mickey, who knows all the Fudge books by heart, and is on his way to knowing every word in Soupy Saturdays agreed to a photo with me. I told him, “You are really special!” And he answered, “I know.” Everyone around us broke up laughing. I’d like to meet him again in twenty years (okay, make it ten).

And here’s how an author spends her time following a three hour signing. (Actually, I signed stock earlier, and I'm thankful I did because at that point I could barely stand up, let alone sign more books). But, hey – I loved every minute of it! Thanks to all who came out to meet me. I know it was a long wait. I know you were hungry and tired by the time it was over. I got to eat a bowl of pasta at 10pm. It was SO good! Hope you went to bed with full tummys, too.

Special thanks to the team at B&N in Skokie, especially Mary Anne. It couldn’t have been better!
XX Judy

PS I read that Junot Diaz was reading from his new novel Monday night at the Chicago public library. I said to George, “Let’s go!” Then I remembered that I had a book signing at the same time. Sorry, Junot. He’ll be joining us in Key West in January at the Literary Seminar.

Sunday in the Park With Laura

Chicago: If you're lucky, every now and then you get to have a perfect day. That's how I feel about yesterday. The weather in Chicago, where we landed the night before, was perfect -- sunny and warm -- and I got to spend the day with Laura and her family. Laura has recorded several of my books , including Margaret. (I'll add a link to her recordings and the story about how we met on the new website). You might know her as the voice reading the Kevin Henke picture books. She's the perfect Lily. I'm a huge fan of Laura's and of Kevin's picture books.

I got to meet Laura's two young kids. We enjoyed Millenium Park together. Here we are with Camille in the "bean," one of the park's attraction. When her husband took the kids home, Laura and I sat down for a "girls' lunch," catching up on two years of everything!

Later Peter Sagal, the host of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, the NPR show (where I came up with the wrong answers to all the questions on the quizz) brought two of his girls to the park for ice cream. Peter gave me a copy of his soon to be published The Book of Vice, and just from peeking at the very beginning I can tell it's going to be very funny. Can't wait for the long plane trip to Seattle to read it through.

Still later, George decided he had to see Death at a Funeral. He can't stand it when something is playing at the Tropic Cinema in Key West (his baby) that he hasn't seen -- especially when it's a huge hit -- and this one has been pulling in the crowd for several weeks. So off we went to catch the 5 o'clock show. Definitely a fun movie!

Did I say that Sunday was a day off? I guess you can tell.
XX Judy

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Losing Madeleine

Sad, sad news. Madeleine L'Engle died. She was another of my heroes. We served together on the Authors Guild Council. In the 80's when both our books came under fire -- hers for "teaching new age-ism" (if you can believe that!) we once went on a TV show together. I loved her for being so open, so honest, and so completely taken aback by these challenges to her work, written long before anyone ever heard of new age-ism. Of course her books will live on. A Wrinkle in Time will speak to kids of generations still to come. Madeleine had a great sense of humor about our predicament. At her 80th birthday I was seated next to someone who would become a dear friend. I like to think Madeleine knew this would happen. She'll be missed.

It's been a season of losing dear old friends. Barbara Hersey, also 88, died over the summer. Married early to Charles Addams, the cartoonist and creator of the Addams Family, it's said that she was the model for Morticia. She was beautiful, witty, charming, and was later married to the writer John Hersey, the great love of her life. They had a daughter together and at 84, Barbara became a first time grandmother. I never knew John. He died just before I met Barbara. She lived on the Vineyard and in Key West so I was lucky enough to spend time with her in both places. She was the toast of every dinner party. My grown children were so fond of her that last summer, when she wasn't strong enough to come to our house for a meal, Randy prepared a dinner and we took the party to her. Even though I knew how frail she was her death was a shock to me and my family. Key West won't be the same without her.

Grace Paley, the writer, also died this summer, at about the same age as Madeleine and Barbara. I only met her once but she was warm, funny, and generous. Her stories about women spoke to me, and I've no doubt they'll continue to speak to anyone interested in the most important relationships in life.

Three great women. Three times the loss.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Soupy Tour -- Pink Casts and Author Quilts


Detroit: Fun Q&A with my readers, followed by a signing. Yes, I also signed books!



You know those Author Quilts -- the kind where they send an author a square and ask for it to be signed or, better yet, illustrated? I've been signing squares for years but this is the first one I've ever seen put together in person. The illustraters sent in fabulous work -- most of the authors just signed their names. My square looked so bleak, so pallid, with just my name and a little heart, and the year, 1998. Even though Beverly Cleary had done exactly the same thing (and she's my hero!) now I had the chance to remedy the situation. I couldn't resist all those brightly colored markers. So 9 years later I added "Oh how I wish I could illustrate!" And then I added "Maybe I can learn. It's never too late, right?" And then I starting messing with the original heart and then --- they took away the markers before I messed up the whole thing.

Thanks to the team at Borders in Novi, especially Nicole. And thanks to all of you who came to this event. You gave me a great start to my book tour.

Soupy Tour -- Meeting Jason

Detroit: Dinner with Jason was wonderful! He corrected me -- he first wrote when he was 14 (1986) which makes him 35. The young teen has become a man (a very tall man -- I was on tiptoe in this pix). He and George and I yakked for 3 hours. He said he was nervous at first and wondered what we'd talk about. I was nervous, too, but we found we had plenty to say. Here we are after dinner in front of the fireplace in the lobby of the Townsend Hotel. So many roses around we started to sneeze.

More about Detroit later....Chicago coming up...

Friday, September 7, 2007

On the Road with Soupy Saturdays

Hello from Detroit, first stop on my book tour. I was tired before I began from pouring all my potions into 3 oz (or less) plastic bottles, then stuffing them into the quart size baggie so airport security wouldn't arrest me (or take away my absolute necessities). I swear, a quart of milk is way bigger than that baggie -- no way would a quart of milk not overflow. Or maybe it's a dry quart? Is there such a thing? Say, a quart container of strawberries? Since George doesn't need any beauty supplies, nor does he have any allergies (he doesn't believe in allergies -- don't get me started on that one!) I got to pack up his quart bag with my extras! After all that, security didn't even care about my perfectly organized 1 quart bag. They didn't ask to see anything! They didn't care about all the lipsticks (and lip balms) I'd stashed in secret places.

The driver who picked us up at the airport thought we were in town for the Big Wedding. He didn't know who was getting married but he knew a lot of guests were flying in from NY. He told us he'd once driven A-rod, and Cindy Crawford (but not at the same time).

Anyway, we're at the hotel now and in an hour we're meeting Jason for dinner. He starting writing to me when he was 12 and we've been in touch ever since. Now he's -- well, probably close to 30. We've never met. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to because meeting someone you only know through writing can really change the relationship. But he was up for it.
I'm already hungry. All I've had to eat today was my usual breakfast -- Total cereal and banana. And while waiting for the plane George surprised me with Rice Krispies to go -- and another banana (he couldn't find a bagel). I feel like Seinfeld.
More tomorrow --
XX Judy
PS Look what I just found on top of the mini bar!

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Last of Summer


It's the end of summer for George and me. We're packing up, getting ready to fly to New York tomorrow. And just when I was getting in the groove. If I had three more weeks and I could stay focused, I'd finish my book -- I'm sure of it! Easy to say, right? I feel this way around Labor Day every year. I'm sad to leave because it's the most beautiful time of year on the Vineyard. Yesterday I took out my kayak for the final row of the season.

We had a busy weekend. Our friend Alice was here. Bruce, Larry's oldest friend, came for the day with his family. I've known Bruce since he was a baby. And Randy had her friend, Jana, visiting with Kayla, her six year old. Randy made a yummy vegetable lasagne for dinner and invited everyone to stay. It was a lively group! The kids were great. They watched what Kayla calls the Blah Blah Blah movie (Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great) while the grownups ate.

Yesterday we learned that last week a neighbor's dog had eleven black lab puppies. So this morning we took Kayla to see them. Good thing they weren't ready to come home. Kayla already has two dogs and two cats. Randy is starting a new job tomorrow so this isn't the time to take on more responsibilities. And George would have -- let's just say a black lab puppy isn't in my immediate future. And I know he's right. But still, they were pretty hard to resist.

Our neighbors own both the mom and the dad, a chocolate lab. They say they're very mellow. For more info send an e-mail message to my guest book. Oh, there are 8 females and 3 males.

I probably won't get the chance to post on my blog again until I start my book tour for Soupy Saturdays on Friday, September 7. (My NY To Do list - between tomorrow afternoon and Friday morning - is so full it's looking impossible!) I hope I get to meet some of you on the road. And I hope you (and your kids) like the book.

If you're back at school, have a great school year! Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, check in with me again. I really like keeping in touch this way. And let me know if you're enjoying my Blog. I'm still a beginner at this -- as you can probably tell.
Love,
Judy

Friday, August 31, 2007

Turkey Brain

Last night I was a guest on the NPR show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I love that show. If I didn't I never would have exposed myself to the humiliation of the on air multiple choice quizz. After all, I'm probably the only person ever to take the SAT and fill in all the little circles at random. Really, I did that! And I was a good student, graduated with honors and all that -- but when it came to standardized tests I panicked. Dry throat, sweaty palms, thump thump thump in my chest. All the words on the test page blurred into an unreadable, unsolvable puzzle. I vowed never ever to take another test like that. And I haven't. Somehow I made it to college, graduated, and here I am. So why why why did I agree to do this show? Well, for one thing, I knew I wasn't supposed to get anything right. I mean, when Salman Rushdie was a guest his quizz was on the subject of Pez Dispensers. And Madeleine Albright was asked about the history of Playboy Magazine. Both of them wound up with a score of Zero right answers. So I shouldn't feel bad, right? I shouldn't feel like a total failure. Like a Turkey Brain, as Peter would say to Fudge. But I do. (This is just one of several flocks of turkeys who hang out at our summer place. Now I can relate to them -- sort of.)

When the phone rang, I didn't panic. I wasn't even that nervous. Until Peter Sagal told me the subject of my quizz would be the TV show, The Price Is Right. My first thought was, Is that the show with the three doors? I know I must have seen it a couple of times, probably in the 70's. Not that that helped. I'll only tell you that when the question had to do with themes on the show -- I choose Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice in an RV instead of the correct answer which had something to do with sauce. Sauce! And when given the choice between a contestant who was so excited when she was selected, she ran up to the stage and promptly lost her tube top, or a contestant who ran up to the stage, looked out at the audience, totally freaked, and ran out of the theater -- I chose the latter. The topless contestant was the correct answer. Who knew?!

The show will be broadcast this weekend. Check your local NPR station for the day and time. Where I am it airs on Saturday at 11am. When I hear myself I may be sorry I told you about it. I take that back. I know I'll be sorry I told you about it. But aside from my humiliating moment, it's a very funny show.
XX Judy

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Soupy Signing



Yesterday was the official pub date for Soupy Saturdays with the Pain&The Great One and I was as anxious as ever. Had stomach pains before my book signing at Bunch of Grapes, the great independent bookstore in Vineyard Haven. I'm not going to write about my publishing anxieties again but for anyone interested you can read more than you want to know by clicking on Anxiety Diary. Some things never change.

But once I got started, or maybe once I
realized people were going to show up -- and I'm sure this goes back to my first book signing in 1969 when no one came except my mother with my two small kids -- I was okay, even excited. Because a lot of people showed up. Lots of parents who grew up with my books and lots of kids. What could be better? Or sweeter?

I started signing at 4pm and somewhere along the way they cut the line because they knew I had to leave at 6pm. Here's a video George took at 5pm - halfway through. I'm demonstrating how to avoid writer's cramp. Lucky for me my injured shoulder is my left, and I'm right handed. The crowd was so patient and lively, even after standing on line for an hour. I wish I'd had lemonade and cookies for them. Next time...
video

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The "Bourne" Plumbers


On Saturday night we had 19 to dinner. Our last bash of the summer. On Sunday morning we discovered the dishwasher had flooded the basement (again) -- and not just any part of the basement, but Larry's "gym." Yes, Larry has built a gym, with a spiffy blue rubber floor, machines that clang and bang (one of them was too tall to fit so the same team you see at work here, on the dishwasher, cut a hole in the basement ceiling to make room for the "too tall" machine. In case you don't recognize them, it's George and Larry, our in-house fixer guys). There are weights and benches and cushy mats in our gym. George has put up one mirror (so far, though a second is still sitting there waiting -- have no idea why--but I know better than to ask.) Even I've been working out in the basement gym this summer. It beats fighting the traffic to get to the gym in town. My trainer, Ann, comes twice a week. George and Larry have a different trainer, Eddie. George and I work out at the same time. He and Eddie like to listen to opera while they train. They turn the volume way up and sometimes Eddie sings along. Ann and I roll our eyes but let the guys think they rule.
I'm disappointed in my workouts this summer because I've got an injured shoulder. Here's what I can't do -- hook a bra in the back. Here's what I can do -- kayak. Guess which is more important to me! I have an appointment to see an orthopedist when I get to New York next week. What a pain (literally!)

We loved having Mark, Michelle, and 2 year old Sam visiting. Here we are on the little beach across the pond. Notice my yellow kayak.
And yes, Mark and I had a good meeting about progress on the new website. Our new launch date is no later than Halloween. Did I mention my new deadline for book #3 in the Pain and the Great One series is Thanksgiving?! That's better than Labor Day since I've got to pack up and be ready to leave here on Tuesday and I'm still on the first draft of the book.
Stay tuned...
XX Judy

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hair Cuts and Hair Balls

Yesterday I flew to NY for a haircut. This is embarrassing -- that I'd fly anywhere just to get my hair cut. But it's true. When I called to make an appointment I learned that Robert, my hair cutter, was going to be away the week after Labor Day. That meant he wouldn't be able to cut my hair for my book tour. And let's just say I needed it -- badly. I'd starting wearing a baseball hat everywhere. Hat hair was looking better than unhatted hair. Robert has a tiny neighborhood salon on the Upper West Side. He's been cutting my hair for 13 years (ever since I read an article Susan Orlean wrote about him in the New Yorker). I trust him. So off we went for a day in the city. Did I mention that Robert also cuts George's hair? It was freezing in the city yesterday. I expected hot and humid because that's what it's supposed to be in August. But it was colder there than on the Vineyard. I bought a big, warm black sweater with great buttons then decided to save it for the book tour and shivered through the rest of the day in my jean jacket.

On the plane coming back (delayed 2 hours) there was a little boy, maybe five, in the opposite row ahead of me. His mother set him up with her computer so he could watch a movie. High School Musical (Two?) I missed it on TV last week so this was my chance (I confess, I've never seen HSM One either). Of course I had no sound and the little boy kept going back to his fav basketball numbers, but at least I got an idea of what all the buzz is about.

Randy and Elliot will be here tomorrow, with Keith, their cat. He's a sweetie. He's the best guest anyone could ask for -- except when it's time to leave he's been known to hide. (Most of our human guests leave on schedule.) But we know Keith's favorite hiding places. At least we think we do!

And Larry's college buddy is coming with his wife and two year old. Since he's also the designer of my new website I'm sure we'll be spending time on the nuts and bolts. Maybe then I'll have a better idea of the actual launch date. Should be a fun weekend! Never mind deadlines, right?
XX Judy

Friday, August 17, 2007

Where the Wild Things Are

I guess this is the season for state fairs, county fairs, and on the island of Martha's Vineyard, the annual Ag(ricultural) Fair. Every year the farmers on our road pack up their animals for a 4 day stay at the Fair. One of their pigs, Hilda (which was my mother-in-law's name so I'm very fond of her) gets trucked up to the Fair in her own pickup. That's how big she is! She is one impressive pig. One year the pigs got loose and came to our place for a visit. Have you ever seen pigs root? Have you ever seen the damage they can do to a lawn in a couple of minutes? Sometimes the cows get loose and come to visit, too. And this year 5 horses dropped by. They all leave something behind. (Though when you have 20 wild turkeys hanging out morning and evening, you get used to piles of poop.)

But George's favorite year was the year of the duck. Don't know why these two white ducks (with fancy names) decided to cross the road and summer at our place, but they did. George found an egg one of them had laid (no nest, just dropped in the grass). As it turned out that wasn't the only egg -- but it's the only one George decided to eat. I tried to dissuade him but he cooked it anyway. He described it as very rich but delicious. These are the perks of living across a narrow dirt road from a farm. But, don't get me wrong -- we love it!

So when my daughter, Randy, came up for the weekend I convinced her to go to the Ag Fair with me. I used to take my grandson every year but he's not here this weekend and anyway, at 16, he's not going to hang with me or his mom -- how embarrassing would that be!

Since I'm writing a story about Jake and Abigail (the Pain and the Great One) at the Fair, I needed a couple of details -- how much were they charging per ride this year (an unbelievable $5 worth of tickets!) Was the Gravitron still there (No). Were they using Porta-Potties (Yes, but there was also a rest room inside the Ag Hall.) At the "water gun" game -- you know the one -- where you compete with others, shooting a stream of water at a target and whoever's marker makes it to the top first, wins a prize -- I convinced Randy to play (that game may be in my story). And much to her surprise and embarrassment, Randy won! (Randy is a grown-up.) She got a blue and white stuffed pony as her prize.

"What am I going to do with this?" she kept asking. "I have to find a little girl who'd like it." So she waited until the next game, and when a little girl, maybe 6 or 7 didn't win, Randy offered her the pony. The little girl couldn't believe it. You should have seen her face as she looked to her mom, then her dad, then back to her mom -- and when they said, Yes, she could have the pony, she was thrilled! We had a camera along for just such a moment but neither of us remembered to use it. Oh well. So now I have all the answers to my questions about the Fair and can finish my story (except, of course, I'm writing in my blog instead! I suppose I'll get the hang of this and only blog after my work day).

This morning, right outside my writing cabin was this yellow bird. I'm going right up to my bird book to find out what he is.

Hope you're having a wild August, too.
Love,
Judy

PS The little yellow bird is an American Goldfinch. And the funny thing is, when I found his entry in the birdbook, there was a handwritten note --summer of 2002. So I'd looked him up five years ago! So much for my bird memory.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Master of My Blog

This is what George (husband, electronic guru, webmaster) tells me I am. Sounds impressive. We'll see. Can't believe I actually have a blog but here I am. I've promised I'll keep my readers more up-to-date (last letter from me on this website was January '07. This is bad, or sad, or something).

I'd hoped to launch my new, redesigned, everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know website on August 28, pub date for Soupy Saturdays with the Pain&the Great One -- even though Mark, the talented designer, says my site is like an onion, a big onion, and since he and the programmer have full time jobs and Mark also has a two year old -- well, it's taking longer than expected. But it will be done, and soon! As for the blog -- I've been inspired by my friends, like Meg Cabot, who have blogs on their sites. I have good intentions this time. So stay tuned.

I'm really excited about Soupy Saturdays. As I wrote on the New York Times Papercuts blog: I've never done four books in a row about the same characters. I've never done four books in a row for the same age group. I like the challenge of writing about forty year olds, then writing about four year olds (not as different as you'd think). This summer I'm working on the 3rd book in the series (the 2nd, Cool Zone, is finished and will be out next May). I have a Labor Day deadline but I'm still on the first draft. First drafts are pure torture for me. I dread first drafts. So I think this baby is going to be late. More at Papercuts (scroll down for my entry)

This month I've been dropping in to BN.com to join the bookclub discussing Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume. I have to say, when I first learned of this book I wasn't happy. I mean -- I'm still alive and well and writing and it struck me (and George who put it best) Aren't you supposed to be dead before they publish a tribute to you and your work? Anyway, I had nothing to do with the book. The publisher never even let me know about it (which was especially unsettling since the same publisher has published many of my books over the years). But then I read the essays and well -- how can you be anything but appreciative about so many moving, generous, and even funny stories about your own books? I've been dropping in to answer questions and chat.

Now that August is more than halfway over, I'm finally in the groove -- the writing groove, that is. So I'm lamenting the short time left. Because if I could stick with my schedule and focus on the stories I'm writing... But we have to leave the Vineyard the day after Labor Day to gear up for the coming book tour. I've posted the tour schedule on the Soupy Saturdays page. I hope to see some of you at my signings. And your kids, too. Or your parents -- whichever fits.

More soon. And since this is my first entry I just have to say thanks to all of you for reading my books, caring about my characters, and being so supportive over the years. It means everything!
Love,
Judy