Joanne Levy's Blog
September 18, 2014
Yes, I know, I haven’t blogged in a while and I probably wouldn’t have even written this post if not for the wonderfully awesome Philippa Dowding! I have to tell you how I met Philippa, because meeting her was just one part in the amazing Forest of Reading experience I had last spring! When I did the ‘near north’ tour, Philippa and I traveled together (through some crazy terrain and a heck of a storm, I might add) from North Bay to Parry Sound and we got to know each other and had great chats, as writers often do. I can’t tell you what we talked about (what happens on tour, stays on tour) but by the end of the trip, I was so glad to have met her!
Please check out Philippa’s post and her books and make sure you tell her I sent you. Make sure you watch the trailer for The Strange Gift of GwendolynGolden (Philippa even did the music for the video—could she be any more talented?).
Now, to the questions!
1. What are you working on?
Oh, okay, so let’s start this with the hardest question to answer! I hate talking about projects I’m working on, because inevitably, they don’t freaking sell and then people are all like, “Remember you were working on that story about the purple alien that fell in love with a crocodile who ate beets? When is that coming out?” and I have to tell them that the book will come out on the fifteenth of never. So I think I’ll play it safe here and tell you I’m working on a wickedly funny Facebook post.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Well, I wrote it, so that’s the most notable difference. Plus, my writing tends to be funny and honest. I try to mine the most embarrassing moments from my own youth (real or imagined) and project them onto my characters. Then, I manipulate those scenes to make them even funnier and work them into a plot. So yeah, there’s a good chance if you’re reading my work, you will laugh. I keep hearing there’s not enough funny books, so I’m trying to help fill the niche.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I have always looked up to authors who honestly portray the lives of tweens/teens and who write the books that everyone relates to. There are so many experiences that we all go through in some way or another and sharing those experiences is one of the great parts of being human. Dogs can’t share the story of a great romp at the leash-free park or describe the taste of a really delicious steak bone found at the bottom of a garbage can. The stories we share bond us to each other with no reciprocal hind-end sniffing required. So I write to share stories like that. ALSO, and maybe more importantly, I love to make people laugh and if I can do that with strangers I’ve never met, well, that’s the most amazing feeling ever. No, the second most amazing feeling—having a kid come up to me wearing a shirt with my book on it, that’s pretty much THE most amazing feeling.
4. How does your writing process work?
This is a very wide-open question, which I’m guessing is by design… Uh, I come up with an idea, and then I have four or five plot points in my head before I start actually writing. Then I sit down (or, actually these days, I go to my treadmill desk) and start writing. I don’t normally write to outline, so I make up the story and characters as I go. This means I need to do more editing/layering of details later as I learn more about my book and what/who it’s actually about, but it’s how I work. I’ve tried outlining and it just doesn’t work for me. If I need an outline or synopsis for a proposal, I pretty much have to write the book (or most of it) first.
Thanks again for tagging me, Philippa! And of course, one good turn deserves another, so I tag: Jocelyn Shipley! I know Jocelyn from #TorKidLit, a social group of writers from the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) that gets together monthly. I’m a big fan of Jocelyn and her work (particularly her HOW TO TEND A GRAVE that I couldn’t stop raving about when I read it) and I’m looking forward to her post next week.
Thanks so much for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment about your process.
May 10, 2014
I know it’s kind of crazy that after months of nothing, I’m posting twice in a week, but remember when I talked about going to Sudbury to do some school visits? (You can’t tell me you’ve forgotten, it was just a few days ago!) Well, I just got an e-mail with a picture of another poster made by one of the kids. How cool is this? So cool, I just had to share:
Thank you, Scott! This is one of my favourite scenes in the book, too. Great job!
May 5, 2014
First, let me start with the Oh, My! Has it really been this long since my last blog post? Wow. Yeah, I guess it has. I’d like to blame my lack of communication on being really busy and that’s part of it, but mostly I didn’t have enough cool stuff to share. Until now.
So. Where to start.
Cool Thing #1 – SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE has been named an Honour* Book by the fine kids of Manitoba in their Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards. Cool, right? MAKING BOMBS FOR HITLER by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch won, which is awesome and so well deserved, but my book was one of two honour books (with UNGIFTED by Gordon Korman). I can’t begin to tell you how amazing this is.
Cool Thing #2 – As you may know, SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE is a Red Maple nominee in the Ontario Forest of Reading program. Another huge honour for me and my little book about ghosts, boys and bras. So I was afforded the opportunity to do a little bit of touring last week up to North Bay and Parry Sound to celebrate at their Festival of Trees. I didn’t take near enough pictures, but here are a few. I always have a great time hanging out with book-lovers of all kinds and I have to say that this event made me feel like quite the rock star. Look at all those fans! Thank you to the Near North School District for making this happen. What a great couple of days!
And this isn’t even the whole crowd. I was told there were about 1600 kids there. Amazing!
Here’s a smaller crowd of SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE fans who came to my presentation and sat in the front row (check out their cool SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE buttons!). !
Here I am with fellow Red Maple nominees, K.L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr (LOKI’S WOLVES: THE BLACKWELL PAGES)
And a group photo with the rest of the authors (K.L. and M. A. had to leave early) and some of the event organizers. Thank you Near North!
Also, I was fortunate enough to do some school visits in Sudbury on my trip. Check out the cool artwork some kids did to tie in with my book:
AMAZING! Thank you so much to these great kids. I loved meeting you all and chatting about books.
There will be more Forest of Reading events next week and I’ll update again once I have more pictures.
Until then, thanks for making it to the bottom of my post. Here’s your reward, a dancing chicken:
*These cool things are happening in Canada, so I’ll be using my Canadian spelling here.
October 15, 2013
Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving and I have a lot to be thankful for, despite it being a tough couple of months. I’m not going to go into great detail here, but I lost my mom fairly suddenly in September and if you know me or follow me on Facebook, you know we were close and well, it sucks.
Okay, so that was some detail, but I don’t want to get all maudlin on you; I’m here today to talk about the things I’m thankful for*:
My husband, who makes a mean turkey
Family and friends who have been amazing these past weeks
Being shortlisted for the Fiction list of the 2013 Hamilton Literary Awards (which take place on my birthday–attention universe!). I’m in excellent company on this very small list of three and am amazed to be on there. Go Hammer!
That I was able to go to NYC last week and have a really good time, including seeing ANNIE! Check out Katherine Longshore’s cool recap because I’m too lazy to do one of my own (includes goofy dancing video–must see).
That SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE has been chosen to be on the 2014 Ontario Library Association Forest of Reading Red Maple list. This is one of those things that I crossed my fingers for, hoping it would happen, but didn’t dare believe it would. This is HUGE and to be recognized here at home in Ontario is so special. I’m honoured and in such great company with wonderful fellow Canadian authors that I really feel like we all win. I’m also so glad I attended the 2013 award event in support of my author friends, so I have a good sense of the impact of this program. I’m so, so, so excited and I know my mom is watching and she is, too.
This means more readers for SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE. So cool, right? My little book about bras and boys and ghosts and kissing. Still feels weird to me that people who are not immediate family members want to read my book.
There is a Chinese food buffet that we go to called…wait for it…RED MAPLE! I think it’s kind of the law that I need to go there and celebrate, right? Just as soon as I eat all of this turkey…
YOU. Thank YOU for being here and for supporting me and my book. Even though SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE came out last year, it’s still finding its way to readers and I’m so thankful for that. I wish I could hug you all, but failing that, anyone want a drumstick? Some turkey soup? Casserole? A turkey sandwich, perhaps? Please?
*As I finished writing this list, it occurred to me that I should note that these items are not in any order of importance.
May 13, 2013
So, it’s been a bit busy here with behind the scenes stuff and day job stuff and life stuff. So there have been a few changes that I should probably tell you about.
First, I have a sparkly new agent. I have mentioned it, but not really officially, so here goes: I signed with the lovely Caryn Wiseman over at the powerhouse Andrea Brown Literary Agency. YAY! *Dear editors who like my work, you know what to do from here…*
Also, I am SUPER excited to announce that SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE has been named as a nominee in the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards for 2014. I’ve never been to Manitoba, but am thinking I should consider some westerly travel.
Next up is some day job news. In that I no longer have one. As often happens in the corporate world these days, big companies restructure and move people and offices around, so I was given an opportunity to, um, not work there anymore. This has been one of those blessings in disguise that people talk about, as it has given me the opportunity to bring together two of my favorite things–authors and organizing–and start a business. That’s right, I am the JL in JL Author Services, providing administrative support to busy authors. For more info, check out the website: JLauthorservices.com.
I have other stuff on the go, too. You know, the writing thing and all the fun stuff that goes along with that writing. Now that my days are freed up some, I’m excited to be able to do virtual Skype visits and in the Hamilton, Niagara, GTA areas in Ontario, I am looking to book in-person school visits to start in the fall. These are handled by Authors’ Booking Service, so please get in touch with them to book me or for more information.
And if you are in the Southern Ontario area, I’ll be at the Telling Tales Festival on September 15th with a bunch of other cool authors, so mark your calendars as I’d love to see you up in Rockton!
I have some other stuff in the works for this summer, but you’ll have to stay tuned as I don’t have all the details just yet.
Also, as of the time of writing this post, the SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE e-book is still on sale at all online retailers:
Thanks for making it to the end of this post. Since you did, I’d like to reward you with this dancing frog. You know, just because.
March 16, 2013
Last night I stumbled on a SALE – my book is only $2.39 for Kindle right now. That’s right, $2.39. That’s like the price of a latte or a bunch of other things that are just not as fun or satisfying as a cute and funny e-book about a girl who gets hit by lightning and can then hear ghosts.
What else can you get for $2.39? I did the work for you and here’s what you can get:
But really, why do you need any of those things when for that money, you can get hours of entertainment and a scene where a girl shops for bras with a couple of dead old ladies? Right?
If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle Reader ap thingie and can read on your phone, tablet or computer, so if you’re reading this blog post, you can easily read the book. That said, if you prefer to hold a real book, it’s still a very reasonable price to get a copy for yourself or your tween.
p.s. The book is on sale RIGHT NOW, but I truly have no idea how long it will be on sale for, so A. act now if you’re thinking about it and B. if you miss the sale, please don’t blame me-I have nothing to do with the prices of my book.
Thank you to all of you who have spread the word about this sale – it means a lot to know so many of you support me and the book!
March 11, 2013
Hi again! If you’re familiar around these parts, you probably know that I went to Arizona last week for the Tucson Festival of Books and in doing so, participated in the ARIZONA ROAD TRIP OF AWESOME (ARTOA), but you may not have known about all the hijinks I got up to. So in the interest of entertaining you, here’s a little recap post with some fun pictures. It was an AMAZING trip and if you’re at all able to go to the festival next year, I highly recommend it, although hopefully the weather will be a bit nicer. Arizona owes me some sunshine-we Canadians don’t get near enough, especially in March, so I’m a bit sad that I didn’t get my fair share on this trip. That said, it was still a great time, as you can see below.
First, as on every good road trip, we had a great driver, the lovely and safety-conscious Lisa McMann. She’s a very good driver and not just on the driveway. After she picked me up, we also collected fellow road-trippers, A.S. King (referred to hereafter as ‘Amy’) and Heather Brewer.
All road trips require food and this one was no exception-we had a great dinner with some Phoenix area friends.
L to R – Heather, Faith, Amy, Robin, Me, Amy Dominy, Jim, Lisa
After the dinner, we headed over to Changing Hands where we sat with a full crowd for Amy’s event. She engaged the audience with her readings and great stories.
Then we tried on hats.
She’s a good egg. Get it? She’s got a chicken…never mind.
Never before has a flamingo been so regal!
Is there something on my head?
And as it turns out, someone was celebrating a birthday during the ARTOA
It’s the birthday girl!
On Friday, it was off to Tucson, but first, we made a stop at Casa Grande for some school visits. Lisa, Amy and Heather headed to the high school and I had the extreme pleasure of meeting up with the wonderful Jennifer Nielsen and we did two school visits together. For this newb, it was a high honor indeed to get to present with such a funny, engaging professional.
Jennifer presenting to a riveted crowd, while I sweat it out, waiting for my turn.
Reading from THE FALSE PRINCE
Hiding behind my book. Kids are scary! I’m just kidding. Kind of.
Don’t those books look good together?
And then we were off to Tucson. While Amy, Lisa and Heather jetted off to a swanky dinner, where I heard they had steamed burgers (that can’t be right?) Jennifer and I were joined by the lovely and hilarious Elizabeth Eulberg. We ate at this place that served the biggest bowls of food I have ever seen. Seriously, that was A LOT OF FOOD. Then we got freaky weird fortunes. I would share them with you, but I have since lost them, and anyway, what happens at Pei Wei, stays at Pei Wei.
Saturday was all about the Tucson Festival of Books. It was a cold, drizzly day, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the many book lovers who came out.
“This here itinerary I’m reading from is so awesomely detailed and helpful. Whoever put this together is clearly a genius.”
“Tomorrow’s my birthday and I hope to have a cake THIS BIG.”
I started my scheduled part of the day off with a signing at the Mostly Books booth with Lisa. Jody, Tricia and the other staff were great – thanks for hosting us! While there, I sat next to Hilary Davidson and through chatting, we realized we’re both from Canada – only an hour apart. Hilary now lives in New York, but still, how cool is that?
Yes, it’s dorky, but seeing my name up there on a cool sign got me all emotional. You know you’re special when someone puts your name on a sign that isn’t just a scrawled whiteboard. Anyway, the 1pm panel was great and very well attended. Somehow, Lisa got me to tell one of my most embarrassing high school stories. I’m not going to tell you what it was, because what happens in the Kiva Auditorium, stays in the Kiva Auditorium (thankfully). Our moderator, Gail, kept the questions coming and engaged the audience in Q&A-thanks, Gail!
Thank you to my author host, Maylan!
My second panel was all about writing humor. My co-panelists were Linda Urban and Elise Broach, two fine ladies I’d never met before. I do know Linda from Twitter, but it was especially nice to meet her and Elise in person. It was kind of weird meeting my co-panelists just minutes before our session, but very quickly, I realized they were professionals and we’d be great. We got many thoughtful questions from the audience and it went very well. Thank you to moderator Jennifer for the excellent questions and keeping everything running smoothly.
Linda Urban, Elise Broach and Me.
I also got to meet Tom Leveen again (we met very briefly at NCTE in November) and the lovely Erin Lange, a fellow Apocalypsie. We share the same publisher and even editor, so it was great to meet up. We didn’t have a lot of time to chat, which was a bit sad, but means I just need to return to Arizona again.
All in all, it was a great trip. I love author events where I get to meet colleagues and other book lovers and if you throw in some travel, well, I’m in. Thanks to everyone who made the ARTOA truly awesome.
March 5, 2013
Hi. I hope you’re doing great! I’m heading out for a ROAD TRIP OF AWESOME this week. What makes a road trip awesome, you ask? Well, let me share some cool stuff I’ll be doing:
Going to A.S. King‘s event at Changing Hands in Tempe Arizona on Thursday (if you’re in the area, you should absolutely come!)
Meeting my online friend, Amy Dominy
School visits with the amazing Jennifer Nielsen* (meep! I’ve never done school visits before – hold me!)
Going to the Tucson Festival of Books on Saturday – have you been to this? It’s AMAZING and while I’m there, I’m on panels with Lisa McMann, Heather Brewer, Jennifer Nielsen (hopefully she’s not sick of me by then) and my other online friend, Linda Urban. If you’re in Tucson and coming to the festival, make sure you find me and say hello – here’s the schedule.
This is just the busy, writer related stuff – I’ll also be doing some serious R&R and of course, book buying.
But before I go, I have to pack for the trip. Of course I only have so much room, but I have like a zillion Sharpies! How to choose? YOU are going to help me. Pick from the colors below and tell me why I should take that color of Sharpie to sign books with. Just leave a comment below and you’re entered to win a copy of YOUR CHOICE of SIGNED/PERSONALIZED book by one of any of the authors listed above (or you could get some extra brownie points and pick a signed personalized copy of my book, but if you don’t I understand. I mean, look at those other authors!).
Sound like the easiest thing ever? Yeah, pretty much. And if you tweet, Facebook or otherwise tell your friends about it, I’ll give you an extra entry, just make sure you let me know in your comment what you’ve done. Because I’m not rich, this will have to be a North America only contest (sorry friends from Norway and other lovely places abroad!). AND you only have until this Wednesday, March 6 at 23:59 EST to enter so I can pick a winner and organize the prize.
Here’s what you’re choosing from?
Left to right: bronze, Kermit green, black, teal, sky blue, purple, red, orange, indigo, pink, forest green. Don’t forget to tell me WHY you picked that color.
Okay, ready? GO!
*Jennifer also has an event at Changing Hands on Wednesday, which I will unfortunately not be able to attend, but if you’re in the area, go and say hi for me. Tell her I’ll see her Thursday.
February 14, 2013
Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been working hard AND enjoying a bit of down time, but I’m back today with a ONE DAY ONLY contest. It’s easy, though, so you don’t need to study or do much other than tell me about what you love.
Did you know that today is International Book Giving Day? It’s true!
And it’s Valentine’s Day. AND I’m going to see Lemony Snicket tonight! A VERY BIG DAY for me and full of love. So to celebrate, I’m going to give away THREE prizes today. All you need to do is leave a comment here, or Tweet @ me (@joannelevy) telling me your favorite Valentine’s treat. It could be anything, from a book to chocolates or hugs - whatever you love to receive. I will choose three winners at random to get:
1. A Lemony Snicket book of your choice AND
2. My book, SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE
That’s two books you could win, just for telling me about what you like to receive for Valentine’s. Not bad, huh? The only catch is, I need you to respond by 11:59 Eastern tonight – February 14, 2013. Winners will be announced tomorrow. This contest is open internationally (Canada/US/or wherever Book Depository ships).
Also, get extra entries for sharing (just let me know what you’ve done in your comment, so I can keep track).
Got it? GO!
(Also, in the spirit of International Book Giving Day – please pay it forward and give someone a book.)
November 30, 2012
It’s been a busy few weeks, to say the least. If you don’t know why, um, where have you been?
In addition to doing some signing events and going to NCTE in Las Vegas, Kate Messner and I headed up a fundraiser for Superstorm Sandy relief, for which we raised ***drumroll*** over $60,000! Round 2 alone raised $23,282. Pretty awesome, right?
I’m SO thankful for Kate and the rest of the people who made the auction amazing. We had a ton of donors who offered up their time, services and great stuff to help us reach this goal. Please check out the auctions (please note – the auctions are all now closed) to see who our donors were—SO MUCH talent and generosity—I’m honored that they all came forward to help out.
If you did miss the auctions or didn’t win one of the awesome prizes donated by publishing industry rockstars, the Red Cross is still collecting donations and the money is much needed, so please donate if you can*.
So now that’s over, I’m going to take a bit of a break to get back to writing. Hopefully I remember how to do that, because it feels like it’s been a loooooong time.
Wishing you all the best for your holiday season and remember, nothing makes a better gift than a book. Like one about ghosts. And bras and first kisses. If you agree, you can find SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE at your favorite book retailer (see my main page for handy links) or if you want a personalized copy, get in touch with my SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE Indie Bookstore Headquarters, Bryan Prince Books and they’ll set you up with a signed, personalized copy (they’ll ship anywhere, because they’re awesome like that).
AND it is the season for giving, so consider giving a book, ANY book to a children’s toy drive so we can all spread the joy of reading.