Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gargoyle's week in review

The week in review, in no special order:

1. Happily gobbled The Last Olympian. It was just what I needed. Now I'm onto Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. I may be the last kidlit person in America who hasn't read it.

2. Got the downstairs squalor (I'm not kidding) cleaned, mopped, dusted, scrubbed, disinfected, baked a cake, shopped for baloonscandlesfavorschipsdipveggiesfruitgoodiebagsicecreametc and threw a 5-year old birthday party, start to finish, all in eight hours. The only thing I didn't get done before the guests arrived: shower. The first guest arrived, wrinkled his nose, and said, "This house stinks!" Grr.

3. Saw Star Trek. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Time travel logic flaws don't bother me much because I never even bother trying to figure them out. Terrific casting, juicy effects, and huzzah for the new James T. Kirk! I never expected someone could make his character so appealing. But what's with Ohura and Spock??? "I'm so sorry. What do you need?" (Breathless smooches.) Spare me! And I'm wondering if I'd have more allure if my skin was green. Still, great Saturday night movie fun.

4. Thanks to my dear friend Gladys, discovered these articles in Deseret News. A review of The Amaranth Enchantment, and an interview I'd done earlier this spring.

5. Had a wonderful author visit at a Boston elementary school, which I will blog more about later as soon as I get the pictures.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Chosen One, The Last Olympian

This picture is courtesy of Willow Books in Acton, MA, my nearest indie bookstore. This is the New Releases shelf. The Amaranth Enchantment sits right next to The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, which made me wriggly with happy joy. Carol is my dear, dear friend from the Cliffhangers class group at the Vermont College of the Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. We met there in July of 2006, when I was just starting the project that would eventually become Amaranth, and she was working on a draft of her polygamy project. She's been a lifeline of friendship, encouragement, and support throughout my writing journey. When we first met, she told me, "You will publish, and you should think about Bloomsbury." I read The Chosen One this week, and I was unfit for human consumption until I'd finished it. Most strongly recommended. Needed blood pressure medication afterward. I could hear her voice on every page. Her courage, talent, and kindness are boundless. Award committees, take notice!
Oh, and by the way, Amaranth also sits next to The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. He's an okay guy, too. :) Heard him speak last week at the Wellesley Booksmith event. A star, perfectly at ease and natural in front of ~800 middle schoolers and their parents. Thanks, Rick, for giving us Percy Jackson! And thanks, Bob @ Willow Books, for humoring a lunatic local author and snapping this picture on your cell phone.
PS -- I'm kidding about the blood pressure meds.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A huge thank you to the Fusion Group, and to the Orchard House

To the members of the Fusion Group who made me feel so welcome Friday night at The School of Philosophy, many thanks, and blessings on you. I enjoyed our evening together tremendously. I was so honored by both the invitation and your warm reception. I'm so thrilled that so many people were so eager to hear my thoughts "in defense of fantasy." Also, thank you for the generous gift certificate. Phil and I trotted right out Friday Night to Cast Iron Kitchen and celebrated your generosity. Yum!

A few things:

1. Several people have asked me for copies of the speech. It will take me a little time to clean it up and edit it properly (finish the bibliography, remove any incriminating details about people who might sue me, etc.). When I do, I would love to send anyone who was present a copy. Here's the hitch: I'll need to mail it to you. I don't want to put the speech online in any kind of electronic format, since that will squash any potential for me to give a version of this address again to another group. But if you'll email me your name and postal address, I will put a copy in the mail to you within a couple of weeks. Send it to julie at julieberrybooks dot com.

2. The books I talked about during and after my presentation were:

A Door Near Here by Heather Quarles, The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams (just out), Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Pope, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and Skellig by David Almond. A Door Near Here is the book I read from. When it's announced, within the next year, that The Chosen One has won gobs of awards, remember that I told you so. :)

3. If anyone took photos that came out at all, please send them to me and I'll post them here.

4. Can I join Fusion? I love what you're about!

Thanks again for such a rewarding evening. Please, keep in touch.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young, er, Man?

The miracle of Facebook has brought me this incriminating flash from my past (courtesy Laura Berry Cooke, no relation despite the name. I'll get you back, dearie.). This is me at, oh, thirteen or so, at a summer Girls' Camp near Buffalo, NY. Note the jaunty thrust of the chin, the cool, haughty sneer from underneath the mascara'd eyebrow. I ooze machismo, if an Anglo-Saxon like me possibly can. I made a hot Latin as a thirteen year old girl.
People were always telling me how much I looked like my brother, a hot ticket himself. I never saw it then, but I see it now.
This is the author as a child, thinking her deep, inspired, creative, authory thoughts. Like how many frogs might crawl into her underpants if she jumped into the pond at camp.
(And incidentally, I really enjoyed Joyce's Portrait Of ... . Does that make me weird? Then again, with photo evidence like this, does that point need further establishment?)

Monday, May 11, 2009

"In Defense of Wonderland" speech, 5/15 at Louisa May Alcott house

I'll be speaking this Friday, May 15, at 7 p.m. at the School of Philosophy at the Orchard House, 399 Lexington Road, Concord, MA (Louisa May Alcott's home). My subject is, "In Defense of Wonderland (and how one frazzled mother clawed her way in)." I'll discuss children's fantasy, its relevance and significance to me, the importance of creativity, and the imperative for humility. All in 45 minutes or so! Books will be available for purchase and signing. This is sponsored by The Fusion Group ( and is open to the public. RSVP is appreciated, though, for seating purposes. Contact me at for more information.

A pox upon me!

I intended, when The Amaranth Enchantment released, to chronicle the adventures of a first-time author on this blog. But it's been Swampsville! Nutty crazy travel, book events, and lots of crazy fun. It's been a two-month whirlwind. So I'm going to gradually attempt to fill in the blanks and turn over a new blogger leaf.

Book travels have taken me to Massachusetts, Utah, New York, and New Hampshire. I've presented to thousands of school children, hundreds of library and bookstore patrons, answered dozens of letters and emails and interview requests. I had no idea that this was what happened when a gal sets out to write stories. Much as the housework and yardwork and minutae of life are flagging, I love love love meeting readers. So it's all good.

Here's a happy-making review I saw today on

More to come! Incidentally, the photo is courtesy of