Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Those wonderful folks at Simon & Schuster posted the MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE book trailer. Check it out and share with your pals, cats and cousins!

Monday, October 25, 2010


It was a wonderful fall night - not too chilly and not yet rainy, which was good because I had to schlep a lot of stuff from my car into Paragraphe bookstore in Montreal.

Eyeball brownies! And lots of them!!

It was so nice to share the night with author/friend PJ Bracegirdle, whose 2nd Joy of Spooking book, "Unearthly Asylum" was also celebrated. Seems we both have the Montreal goatee thing going on (but his mustache tips are waxed!)

Paul reading from "Unearthly Asylum"

Members of the Montreal Goatee Society

Friends came out to help us celebrate and it was so nice to get the chance to chat (even briefly) with all of the people who wanted to support us. Thanks to you all!

After Paul read from his new book - it was my turn to see if my audio/visual equipment was going to work. Sitting at the low table with the microphone aimed at me I felt like I was doing a gig at a piano bar. Lucky for all - the projector worked great and my apple mini-remote came through like a champ, which gave my reading the added kick of showing my cartoons as I read from Milo's "Halloween Party" chapter.

One of my fave pics - this girl reading along with me!

As an added bonus to the great night - I had been contacted by a young fan who wanted to come to the launch but said she couldn't because it was her birthday. I wrote her back and told her to have a great birthday - but if she did decide to come to let me know so and I would have a cake ready!

After reading my Halloween chapter - we all sang "Happy Birthday" and helped Kinneret celebrate her special day!

Kinneret and her (half-eaten) birthday cake!

Eyeball Brownies! Milo talks about the eyeball brownies at the Halloween Party, which were inspired by the brownies my son and I once made when he was in 2nd grade. So I decided if that was the chapter I was going to read - then I would bake Eyeball Brownies to add to the snacks at the party!
I almost forgot to hand these out - (Thanks Kalie!)

It was an exciting night for me to finally share Milo with the friends and fans who've been so supportive while I was working on the book.

Paul, author (and cafe-pal) Jill Murray, Kalie and moi

Carol Ann and Susan

So one more time: Thanks everyone for coming out and celebrating and for making me (and Milo) feel warm and fuzzy....and full of brownies!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Well it's official.

Tuesday, MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE had it's real-live book birthday and I couldn't just sit on my butt at home. No siree, I had to have visual proof that the book was actually IN bookstores. Besides, I was too excited to actually stay home and write and so I drove downtown and hit the trio of book sellers there.

First up, Indigo books - a huge chain of stores in Canada. I went to their "flagship" downtown Montreal location. This was my very first stop and I was filled with excitement...anticipation... and ultimately, DISAPPOINTMENT!

Like Old Mother Hubbard, I went to my bookshelf, careful to follow the alpabetical path to the "S" names. To my horror - "Silberberg" did not exist. I quickly accessed one of their nifty search kiosks and what I found was...."zero available in this store". Oh, fortuna how low you have spun me!

Lucky for me - another chain store was just up the street. And so, hat in hands, I trudged off to visit the equally huge Chapters bookstore (owned by the same company as Indigo I might add).

I walked into the basement level kids' section with trepidation. But what did I see? The familiar BLUE COVER and white lettering! Eureka - MILO EXISTED!

Now I'm usually a shy guy - but there I was gleaming at the bookshelf, camera in hand, and it wasn't long before a helpful bookseller asked if I needed anything. I told her I needed to wish my book a Happy BookDay and she eagerly obliged!

Not only did I find wonderful sales help - but while I was there (okay, because I was there and opened my big mouth) I was witness to the very first sale of my book. Technically, it was the first sale that happened in front of my own eyes, but let's not quibble over details. SOMEONE wanted to buy my book!!!

Soline was looking for books for her daughter and 12 year old son and I offered her a quick review of MILO. As it turned out she was also a therapist and immediately thought the book sounded like something she might be able to use with families dealing with grief and so, eager to give it to her son first - she bought a copy!

my FIRST sale! Thanks Soline!

Next up - the last downtown bookstore, Paragraphe. This is the store that will be hosting my book launch next month. On October 14th, Paul Bracegirdle and I will be having a joint launch party for our new books at Paragraphe. More details to come!

I love Paragraphe because it's a cramped space packed full with books and weaving my way to the kids' section was kind of like navigating a wild maze of books. And to my delight - I saw stacks of MILO. Yay! Again I needed some help and so got the fabulous book buyer to blow the streamer for Milo!
I pulled up a chair (gotta love those little kids' tables) and signed a few copies. Nothing cements that "I'm an author" feeling like inscribing books!

My search began with a big fat "zero" at the first bookstore but ended happily with one real-live book sold, a bunch of signed books, and then a hundred or so TWITTER BOOK PARTY tweeted messages.

Hey authors - are you a member of Twitter Book Parties? If not - why not? This brain child by author Mitali Perkins is genuis because it makes the usual lonely part of having your book come out turn into a joyful day of tweet "greetings" from all the members of the book party universe. Not only does it make you feel kinda sorta special - every tweet is also telling that person's followers about your new book. Social marketing and fuzzy feelings all in one click!

Later this week, I hit some of the smaller book stores in my area. Hey, I like to know MILO is in good hands!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


With one month to go until pub date (okay, 28 days - but who's counting?) - I wanted to sharethe latest great news about my new book, MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE.

Yeah - the book has gotten some rocking reviews; like this one...and this one.

But I can now officially let loose with the news that the book has been sold to the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. I also got word that Milo will be published in Thailand and Israel too. I wonder how they say "Freezie" in Hebrew?

I can't wait to share the international covers online, but that won't be for awhile. Not that I'm in a rush to see how awesome they'll look...

Way cool, huh?

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I have always marveled at the people who can point easily to the perfect days in their lives and say without pause, "That was the best day." I mean, I'm a writer. Ask me to point to a miserable day and I can deal out a dozen or so in a heartbeat.

But the game has changed because I now have that day, that PERFECT DAY, etched forever in my brain-box. It all began with a weekend trip to New York to visit with my editor, Liesa Abrams, at Aladdin. Apparently there were people in her office who had read MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE and wanted a chance to meet me. Cool, I thought. I'll just drive down from Montreal and take Milo with me on the one condition that I control the radio.

The weekend fun was kicked off by walking from our hotel through Times Square on our way to meet Liesa and her husband for a matinee of AVENUE Q. Times Square always smells like a hot summer day so it felt normal to be bombarded by the sights, sounds and smells of a 92 degree, humid summer Sunday.

After Milo and I sweated through clean shirts and baked under the July haze - we got to the theater and sat through the hysterical musical. Everyone says the puppets are "so racy" - but even Milo thought the show was kind of tame. I guess that's what watching so much SOUTH PARK will do to a kid's brain!

Had a lovely dinner with Liesa and James and as super-fantatstic as that Sunday was, it was just the precursor to the Monday that was to come. First I had to check-out of my hotel and though I had a minor freak-out that I'd lost my passport (found after a frantic search through the suitcase that then fell apart) the morning began slightly less humid and with a vente iced latte, so all was good.

Milo and I arrived outside the Simon & Schuster offices and he was immediately awed by the building.

We went inside and rode the elevator to the 4th floor. Stepping off the elevator the first thing I saw was this wall of MILO books. We both felt a surge of caffeine-adrenaline and posed for a picture taken with exquisite care by the multi-talented Liesa Abrams.

Not only is Liesa an incredibly talented editor and a great photographer - but she is the coolest person in the world because she loves all things BATMAN. This is a shot of a shelf in her office.

Now you have to realize that Liesa had tried to prepare me for what was to come by hoping that I'd be ready to "share the love" around the office. But I had no idea that Milo (the book) had so many fans already! I walked into the conference room and was met by dozens of people who had read and LOVED the book and it was probably the most overwhelmed I'd been in a long while. I had a chance to speak to the group and explain how personal Milo's story is to me.

Then I had Milo pose with everyone.

This was the first moment that my book felt like it was really out in the world and I made sure to bask in the feeling that it was a story that was touching people. Writing a book about parental loss and grief was an emotional journey for me and seeing that the emotion carries to other people touched me very much. Because the final book isn't ready yet I signed printed copies of several of the book's cartoons for people, which again just hit home how real the experience of publishing Milo felt.

The morning was made even more special because my wonderful agent, Jill Grinberg was there too. Thanks Jill!

Liesa, Me, Milo and Jill

Life is supposed to be full of great days but sometimes I've had a hard time finding them. I am so thankful to everyone at Simon & Schuster who was part of this incredibly special day for me. Of course I feel lucky just to have a new book being published - but to be able to feel the support and emotion of what my book is starting to mean to the people reading it is giving a new meaning to the BEST DAY EVER.

For me and Milo anyway.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

MILO Summer

It's getting pretty real. Milo's publication date is actually something concrete to me and not some distant date that has no meaning. Still - September is just far enough away and no one wants to start thinking about that season that comes after summer. (Shhhh...pub. date is Sept. 14) But I've got the date circled on my calendar!!

Also want to give a shout out to Fuse8 over at School Library Journal, who not only gave Milo his first review - but it's a pretty GREAT one at that! (Thanks, Betsy!)

So summer is sizzling and Milo's just doing what he should be doing...hanging out!

Saturday, July 03, 2010


seen from the road in Rumford, Maine

I recently went on my family's annual trip to Maine, where not only was I greeted with spectacular scenery...

kayaking at sunset

But I also had a package waiting for me that looked like this:

Seeing a Simon & Schuster logo on it could only mean one thing: I was finally getting to hold a copy of my MILO ARC!!! I knew the ARCS existed - I just hadn't actually held one yet and let me tell you in case you haven't had the pleasure of seeing an advanced reader copy (ARC) of the book that you spent the past year and half slaving over - actually getting your paws on a facsimile of what your real book is going to be like is better than a year's worth of s'mores (which we indulged in aplenty while in Maine!).

MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE (the full title) tells a very personal story for me and being able to share the book with my family was especially meaningful because the book tells the story of my mom's death when we were all kids. I was so proud to be able to have my sister read the book while we were in Maine (yes, she loved it - though tissues were used).

Here's a shot of my sister Debbie and me posing with the newly arrived book.

The week was beautiful and I was able to NOT write at all, which was hard for me because I always feel like this escape into the beauty of the Maine Coast should be a "writing retreat" for me. In truth, it is a writing retreat because I am letting my brain toss and turn all the ideas of my new book while I kayak, bike ride, and relax with a good book.

Me, Zeus and a good book

One of my weirdest images from the week is this bizarre sight found while on a great 5 mile seaside bike ride I took with my son. (folk art or crazy cousin of an Ent???)

Most delicious memory of the week: Pizza night!!!!

As happens every year - the week speeds by in a blur and we all frantically pack our cars on Saturday morning and go our separate ways - but the memories are so strong and tangible that I'm already counting the days until I get to return!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I may not win the award for most frequent blog posts - but I do hope to snag a blue ribbon when it comes to having great guests drop by for a little one-on-one chat. Jill Murray is not only a friend and fellow Montreal author she is also the voice and code behind the wonderful kid-lit writer site Y-Eh!

Jill's first YA book, BREAK ON THROUGH was followed by the recently released RHYTHM AND BLUES, a "thoughtful and glittery young adult novel about a teenage girl's quest for - fame, love and self-identity". I loved this book and think Jill has this amazing sixth sense for capturing the voice of her main character, Alya.
I was lucky to get some time with Jill, who not only is rumored to make her own ice cream - but is busy getting ready for a big trip to do research for her next book.

And now - without further ado - give it up for Jill!

Jill: Wow. The applause is deafening.

Me: I know. If a blog article was posted in the woods would it make any sound?

Let me jump in with my first question. When I started writing MILO; STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE, the book was going to just be a silly story about a kid in junior high. As the pages added up, I realized that I was writing something deeper. I was telling my own story - a story of parental loss at a young age and the writing experience became a different journey for me.

How important do you think it is to "write what you know"? Or are your own works of fiction totally made up?

Jill: I adore hands-on research. Before I started writing Break On Through, I’d been very amateurishly trying out breakdancing for a few years, so I had a good sense of what it was like to try to break dance, and what the atmosphere is like at a battle, and how b-boys behave around each other, and a lot of little details like that. All the stuff about being confident and knowing you’re going to win— that was totally made up, ‘cause I am not like that at all, especially not about dancing, especially not in front of people.

For Rhythm and Blues, I had some past experience working with indie music, and I’ve played a bunch of instruments throughout my life, but voice wasn’t one of them. So I took singing lessons with pop-jazzy Montreal chanteuse Amanda Mabro, because I wanted to be able to get across what it feels like to learn to sing.

Finally, you may also note that my protagonists, Nadine and Alya, are black and hispanic, but if you check out my headshot, I, the author, am clearly descended from the blog-dwelling peoples of northern someplace-English. This was a case of wanting to represent the people in my neighborhoods and my life, and give some airtime to interesting voices.

What can we conclude from all this? Writing is an exercise in empathy, and “what you know” may be an emotion or a truth or a value. It’s not necessarily as constricting and literal as it may at first appear. You may know more than you give yourself credit for!

ME: In my book, not only does Milo struggle with the fog that settles in whenever he feels uncomfortable – he is in love with Summer Goodman, the prettiest girl he’s ever seen. Of course it’s a one-way crush and she’s never even spoken to him. I remember my own unattainable crush from Junior High (Janet Grenier why didn’t you like my poems?). Did you have a one-way crush back then – and how did you deal with it?

JILL: Wait. Hang on. Are you telling me there are also two-way crushes?

In the junior high years I dealt with crushes in the same way that I dealt with everything else: I hid in my room and waited to be 20. I have to say, it didn’t really work, and I’d recommend that kids today try something else.

ME: Good advice! Here's a question about your own writing process.

Because MILO borrows moments from my life, I relied on balancing the fiction of the story with things I remembered. The awful smell of hospital visits. The kindness of neighbors who wanted to help me. Waking up and then remembering how different everything then was. The memories became an important part of my palette. What role does memory play in your own writing experience?

JILL: I know I just told you that I make a lot of stuff up, and that I study new things to give life to my writing, but also, I think it’s worth pointing out that memories tell you what’s important enough to bother writing about. If a memory is still with you, chances are there’s something about it that needs further exploration or that if you share it, other people might relate to it too. Bottom line, it’s going to get its job done much better on the page than in your head.

ME: As awkward as Milo feels at his new school he is thankful he finds Marshall, an equally odd kid who likes the same movies that Milo likes and shares a passion for freezies. Friends are so important at that age. Milo would be even more lost without Marshall. Who was your junior high best friend and what was the one food thing that you both loved?

JILL: Friends are important at any age. Like right now, I have friends who share my love of onion rings, olives, summer drinks on balconies, indian food, coffee, vegan ice cream sandwiches, avocados and oatmeal. But maybe this is more about how much I love to eat. When I was Milo’s age, my best friend had moved away, and it took me a really, really, REALLY, long time to find another one. There was an incident in high school where a friend and I spent an hour daring each other to go ask the elderly couple at the next table if we could borrow a french fry “just for a minute.” But we were too polite to actually follow through.

ME: Sitting in the right cafe….curled up with the dog on my lap….tucked away at a book store with people reading all around me. Those are some of my favorite places to write. Where do you like to write?

JILL: As you well know, I like to write at Cafe Shaika, in Montreal, across the room from either you or P.J. Bracegirdle, so I can peer over the top of my laptop at you and wonder if you’re being more productive than I am, and then interrupt you if it looks like that might just be true. I also like to write on trains, and on my front balcony when it’s warm but shady.

ME: Selfishly I always like to hear how other writers deal with the dreaded “writer’s block”. I have days that seem impenetrable when it comes to being creative. When I’m stuck I like to doodle or read a book…or do laundry. What do you do when the muse just won’t show up?

JILL: That slackerly muse! It’s so hard to find good help these days.

Actually, I don’t have a muse. It’s all “writer’s block” to me. Uphill, everyday, dragging the heavy burden of unwritten manuscripts.

I took a creative writing workshop with writer Kent Nussey once in the early ‘00s (I like typing it that way because it makes me sound like I’m 130 years old.) and he’d spent a lot of time worrying about writers block, and ultimately decided that it’s really just “failure of the ego.” By that, I think he meant that it’s not that you can’t write, it’s just that you think you ought to be having better ideas than you actually are, and that embarrasses and disappoints you, and so you don’t write.

That’s how I decided to take it. And I simply can’t have anyone thinking my ego is defective, so I just imagine I’m some kind of donkey or workhorse, and I put on my yoke and drag the till endlessly across the field, feeling sorry for myself as I write embarrassing, disappointing things. Eventually, in revisions, everything starts looking up again, and I remember that no, actually, I am awesome.

ME: In revisions, thankfully - we're all awesome! Thanks for taking time out from your crazy schedule. One last question: So we can all be jealous - what flavor ice cream did you recently make?

JILL: Mint chocolate cookie dough.

ME: Yum!! You truly are awesome!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I recently wrote about being a Facebook newbie, and to be honest I'm still pretty green when it comes to poking, friending and deciding whether I want to comment on someone else's decision to like "Big Bang Theory" or "100 things I never want to eat".

Still as all my writer friends continually urge me - Facebook is just one of many places we need to put our best word forward and shout about our books, school visits, favorite book stores and what we had for lunch (tuna sandwich, very tasty). I know everyone is hungering to know what is happening in my oh-so-exciting life, which really boils down to doing a lot of laundry and asking the dog if he needs to pee.

But with a new book about to be published I have to face the reality that we writer-types have to do whatever we can to tell anyone with ears that we have a new book coming out. So here I go: MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAINFREEZE is being published by Aladdin on September 14th. For all you BEA attendees, drop by the booth and pick up an ARC. Tell them, Alan sent ya!

For everyone else - be forewarned: I am on a Milo mission and even though I am usually a pretty reserved guy, I will stop at nothing to mention him. Heck, Milo's even got his own Facebook profile. So if you need a new friend who is 13 years old and has a passion for Freezies - check him out there! You'll not only get to know him - but you'll also meet some of his friends.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


First the good news: Yes, I wrote the Disney Channel movie, DADNAPPED. Now for the bad news: No - there aren't really any Tripp Zoome books. Bummer, right? Because if you were a fan of the film you'd probably be a fan of the books that the main character writes.

If you don't know the film (and if you don't have kids or aren't already a kid - then why should you?) Dadnapped is the story of a famous writer whose main character is a popular teen, super spy named Tripp Zoome. Tripp is smart and clever and can get in and out of trouble using everyday stuff, kind of like a MacGyver character - except he uses a lot of dental floss, preferably minted!

I first came up with the idea for this film after spending the night in a horrible motel in Miami where there was a huge fight going on in the room next to mine. All I could think about was how I wished I could get another room and when I opened the phone book - a matchbook fell out with a phone number handwritten on it. Really - that was all I needed to start the ball rolling in my head.

I knew the dad in the story would be a famous author (and this was years before I even considered writing books) and wanted his creation to be larger than life - a teenaged James Bond. The name Tripp Zoome fit perfectly - it has a sophistid feel as well as a sense of cartoony fun. He needed to be larger than life with a bit of a wink to how fake everything about him is.

I hope this answers some more questions about Tripp Zoome and Dadnapped. If not, feel free to email me or post your questions in the comments section!

Sunday, May 02, 2010


I used to be an early adopter of all things tech but have to admit I was resistant to joining Facebook mainly because the last thing this attention deficicient writer needs is something else that I can check up on and obsess over.

But alas, I didst succumb to the siren's song. (Okay, the siren was my editor and marketing exec at Aladdin - and their song was more of a pleasant chat). So here I am on FACEBOOK. Yay. And yes, I am wasting all sorts of time, thankfully avoiding building farms or becoming a hit man - but still I am now watching my wall grow and staring at the stream of comments from people I know, or sort of know, or know someone I know or once knew. Phew...

I know we writers are supposed to be the leaders of our own PR parades and that's why I jumped in. With MILO just a mere 4 months away from pub date I know that I need to be doing everything I can to be visible. And as much as I kicked and screamed about social media - I am having lots of fun posting and linking and commenting and counting "friends" like a growing number of jellybeans in a jar (which is always within reach of my wandering desktop mind).

So if you're reading this and want to know what I'm thinking and linking to - come on over. But if you expect me to link to a Twitter account I'm still resisting that one...this week.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Blue Metropolis Festival

Montreal has so many wonderful things from the best bagels I've ever had to smoked meat sandwiches that could clog 1,000 arteries. Of course there are countless other jewels that don't relate to food - and one of them just completed its 12th year. The BLUE METROPOLIS LITERARY FESTIVAL is a wonderful mix of workshops, panels and speakers; toss in the shmoozing and book signing and I'd say it's a festival that can't be beat.

I had the fortunate experience 2 years ago to speak to a group of 250 kids as part of the Blue Met's Children's Festival and this year I was asked to be part of a panel called "Breaking Into the Red Hot Kid-Lit Market". My fellow panel members Jill Murray and Joyce Scharf and I got to speak to a roomful of aspiring writers of all ages and hopefully we didn't bore the pants off of anyone (in either language). We had the pleasure of being guided through the hour by Raquel Rivera, who had her hands full navigating the questions.

It was a wonderful event and I look forward to next year's festival.