Ode To Awkward Family Photos

I can’t believe I let someone talk me into allowing this photo to be taken. I’m the turkey that’s being held up if anyone was uncertain. Please note the ridiculous arm shelf and pegged jeans. Oh, and Brooke Shields called; she wants her eyebrows back.

Askward familyI could have saved this for Sunday since this is, I think, my junior or senior year of high school, but since the whole family’s involved I couldn’t help making a dedication to one of fave blogs, Awkward Family Photos.

Self-Deprecating Sunday (3)

Welcome back to the third edition of Self-Deprecating Sunday, where young adult authors come to celebrate their young adulthood. Today I showcase my eighth grade year when I was cheerleader. You gotta appreciate the socks and shoes coordination. I’d bet my fingernails were painted orange and blue, too. Wait…is that the school fight song coming back to me?  I think it is…

Guion jaguars, Guion jaguars
Win for orange and blue
Go fight, you Guion jaguars!
Weeeeeeeeeeee’re for yoooouuuuuu.

cheer 4

Another Tradition Continues

crybaby Sometimes family traditions are born out of moments which are not fond memories. Tonight we partake in a tradition created during a time that was pretty dark; but this is not a hopeless blog post. The 11-year-old tradition itself is actually a delicious one for our family: we are eating chocolate cake for dinner!

Tonight when Josh announced it, the kids cheered. He asked them if they knew why we did this?  Eleanor guessed, “because you love us?” Maggie said, “because it tastes so yummy?” Both answers are sort of right. But the more detailed account goes something like this…

When Eleanor was born, we’d just moved into a tiny apartment in Half Moon Bay, California. We were overwhelmed with the newness of having our first baby: the sweet smell, the tiny pink clothing, that fact that someone let us take this baby home without so much as even passing a test. Everything was sleeping and peeping those first few days, it seemed pretty easy. But then something happened. Something wasn’t right, and she began crying. She cried. And cried. And CRIED. She cried so much that we began to question our parenting skills. Then we questioned her health. We questioned the meaning of life. When no answers seemed to present themselves about why-dear Universe why-was this happening and more importantly why couldn’t we help our child, we became exhausted.

It was a kind of exhaustion I didn’t know existed, which is saying a lot considering I’d just delivered a huge baby. We were confused. We cried too. We couldn’t sleep. We finally couldn’t think straight. We argued. And through it all there was the incessant crying.  Our parents were thousands of miles away. We hadn’t made any friends yet. It. Was. Awful. On one particularly bad day, Josh came home from work and found Eleanor and I sitting on the couch right where he’d left us that morning. He said something like, “Let’s just find one thing we can accomplish today.  How about making dinner?”

I nodded. I could do that. I walked to the pantry and said, “The first thing I see when I open this door, is what we’re having for dinner.”

It was a box of chocolate cake mix.

We made that cake together, and it was good.

Eleanor, of course, disagreed. But just that once. In all the times we’ve served it since, she’s never shed a tear. I don’t know what the moral of the story is here; it’s not like we make the cake so we can sit around remembering how bad it was back then. I guess it’s just a celebration of how we all pulled through it and how it made us all grow up.

Who Would Play You In A Movie? (3)

Casting continues for the movie of my life. I realize I keep casting Josh’s family; I don’t know why they are so much easier to cast than my family and I promise I’ll cast my friends (Amythst Romero,  you’re next.) and possibly my bosses. But today belongs to Josh’s other sister, Heidi.

The family is pretty divided on this one, so I’ll be interested to see if they agree with my choice. Heidi has a sharp wit. She is a serious runner. And she’s going to be a lawyer soon! My choice for her is Rachel Griffiths.  (And credit goes to Kristin Rueger for suggesting this actress. She nailed it!)

rachel griffiths

heidi nowotny

If you missed the other two cast members, check out Josh and Kari.

Self-Deprecating Sunday (2)

If you missed the first installment of Self-Deprecating Sunday, then you need to start with this lovely post where I explain that I was basically pretty wackadoo in high school. It’s possibly not surprising I love to write for teens?

Today I feature what I think is my junior year. Yes, when I was seventeen I carried around a Mickey Mouse lunch box. Except, it was NOT my lunch box, no no. It was my purse. That’s right. I was *that* cool. Wait until you see my graduation photo. The Mickey Mouse thing…I don’t  know…and I was still going through well into college.

And seriously, tube socks?????  TUBE SOCKS!

Mickey Pail.jpeg

Residency Update

Mugele, JoshJosh has now received two invites for residency interviews.

1. Lexington Kentucky

2. Ann Arbor Michigan

It’s still quite early in the process and some (most?) programs don’t begin invites until after November 1. So, this is a good start it seems to me.

Also, I’m still taking suggestions for nicknames to bestow on the good doctor Mugele upon his graduation. I’ve been trying out J-Doc. It sounds cool, but I think we can do better.

This is his official U of  M portrait that will haunt the halls of the Hospital for many years to come. He’s so cute, huh?

Self-Deprecating Sunday (1)

I didn’t mention this new feature in my last blog post because I just decided to do this after a telephone conversation with my sister. It started so simply with me asking if she had any photos of me in my ROTC uniform. (She did. Those will come later.) But while rummaging around for those, she found all kinds of other photographic goodies–and by goodies I mean I was a some crazy kind of eye-candy in my teenage years. Candy isn’t the right descriptor. The thing is, I didn’t belong to a group. I sampled nearly all groups. I was at one time or another each of the following: cheerleader, softball player, marching band geek, jazz band geek, ROTC nerd, Jesus freak, theater junkie, student council representative, Cinefile, and to top off all these things I had a bizarre fixation with Mickey Mouse/Disney World that exploded all over my clothing. Oh, and I should mention that my dad taught at my junior high school; he was my social studies teacher and the football/basketball coach. You can imagine the photo humiliation I can impose on myself. And I shall…

I start this self-deprecating Sunday off simply: a photo of the weekend version of myself, when I let my 1991 hair wall down to have a day at Kings Island with my friends and family. What you can’t see are the fluorescent orange Converse All Stars. But the glasses alone are humiliating enough. I bask.

Every aspiring YA author should showcase her teenage years, no?

Jody Sparks

UPDATE: I am submitting this post as part of a contest over on the Anne and May Blog in which they are asking for humiliating photos and stories from High School. Check out their new book, A Little Help From My Friends. (October 11)

Heading North

point_betsie_lgI’m heading north to my parents lakehouse this weekend for some thinking/writing time. I’m sad to be missing this year’s SCBWI conference. I always have an incredibly inspiring time; and it was a year ago that I met my agent at our SCBWI Michigan fall conference. For all of you attending, have a great time!

While I’m up north, I hope to put some pieces together for another book–a great way to distract myself from the impatience I’m starting to feel about the fate of the first one. Up north will be important to this book. Think: The Goonies meets Post Secret. The book is going to have something to do with those concepts.

I’m also going to be putting together some blog interviews, including my first YA author interview. But first I’m waiting for her book to arrive. Just ordered it and I’m excited because it too is a military-themed book.  Look for details later. Also, I’m going to start featuring interviews with soldiers and veterans, so I have some questions to put together for that. I’m very excited. So, look for those to be coming fairly soon.

Also, I’m hoping to finish HATE LIST, by Jennifer Brown. So far, this book is incredibly good.

I’m guessing I’ll only get about 1/4 of these started. But I’m happy about the potential!

Who Would Play You In A Movie? (2)

Last week I decided to cast the roles of my friends and family in case Hollywood comes a callin’; I mean, they would totally want my opinion on who to cast, right? I started with my adorable husband. Today I’m casting his sister, Kari. Unlike Josh, whose role took me years to cast, his sister is an easy one for me. Sometimes you look at someone and you just know who their actor/actress would be.  It’s not just about looks either; the actor has to you know, be able to *act* like them. For Kari?

The sweet and charming, Kirsten Dunst.



Kari lives in California and sometimes really gets asked if she’s’ Kirsten. Kari, is this annoying or flattering? Do you have any good stories? Please tell us in the comments.