Mike Jung

It Is Once Again Time to Unleash the Winged Pigs of Joy

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm

I think luck plays a role in the publication process – a limited role, but a real one. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve invested massive amounts of time, money, thought, and energy into developing my craft and learning about the industry, and I know we can’t take advantage of opportunities that come along if we don’t make ourselves ready for them. I’ve done that. Doing the work is far and away the most important thing; the importance of luck doesn’t come close to equaling the importance of hard work, IMHO. I do think luck plays a role in terms of timing, however, and in that regard I’ve experienced my fair share. For example, I got acquainted with Arthur A. Levine on Facebook, met him in person at LA10SCBWI, struck up a genuine friendship with him right away, and gladly accepted his offer to publish GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES, all in the course of a whirligig eight-month period.

It was a heady time, and I felt like the stars were grinning cheerfully down at me for every moment of it. Arthur’s accomplishments as an editor and publisher are the stuff of industry legend, of course, but I was immediately struck by the impression that he’s also a warm, generous, vulnerable human being, and one of those rare people with whom I experience a nearly instant bond of fellowship. Time has borne out that initial impression; Arthur has proven to be the most trustworthy and steadfast of friends, one whose presence in my life I cherish to the point of thinking of him more like a brother than a friend.

My affection for Arthur shouldn’t obscure my appreciation of his professional brilliance, because again, industry legend, monumental legacy, continuing record of published brilliance – pick whichever career accolade floats your rowboat. There’s no doubt that his editorial acumen made my book worlds better than it would have otherwise been, and it’s more obvious to me than ever why he’s in the midst of a career for the ages. Arthur’s ability to help his authors define and give life to a story’s emotional center borders on the supernatural. and it’s one reason why I’ll always look back on my first book with an abundance of satisfaction and pride.

I couldn’t have asked for a better author/editor experience than I had with my debut, and the stars are apparently still yukking it up in my honor, because there will be an encore. I feel grateful, thrilled, and yes, exceedingly lucky to announce that I’ve accepted an offer of publication from Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, for my second middle-grade novel, Unidentified Suburban Object. Cue celebratory hooting, Muppetesque arm-flailing, grossly excessive doughnut consumption, etc.

Pico Ayer, Paddington, and me

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2015 at 9:02 pm

Mike Jung:

Hooray, Arthur’s blogging again! And expressing valuable points about the importance of diverse books to ALL readers.

Originally posted on Arthur A. Levine's Blog:

I so enjoyed reading Pico Ayer’s “Critic’s Take” column in The New York Times’ Book Review, titled PLEASE LOOK AFTER THIS BEAR.

(Here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/books/review/please-look-after-this-bear.html?_r=0)

In it, Mr. Ayer expresses the response to a beloved book that is remarkably congruent with my publishing philosophy. I’ve always said that what I want to publish are books that readers don’t just like, but that are deeply meaningful to them; books that they love so much that they would say, when asked “Oh that was my FAVORITE book as a child” and they would keep those books throughout their lives. In talking about PADDINGTON BEAR, Mr. Ayer says, “On the single shelf for books I have in my two-room apartment in Japan, Paddington sits next to Derek Walcott, V.S. Naipaul, and Graham Greene.” Exactly!

I too loved PADDINGTON BEAR, laughing appreciatively at what Mr. Ayer describes as Paddington’s attempts to “master…

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Hiking Shoes

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2015 at 9:00 pm

I, er, haven’t actually read the Marie Kondo book about how decluttering your home leads to magic carpets, pet dragons, and the ability to transmogrify lima beans into doughnuts, but my half-assed, not even semi-informed attempt at following its approach is definitely a good thing, even if it’s causing 35% more damage to my already messed-up rotator cuff. Today I finally dug deep and got rid of a pair of hiking shoes I’ve had sitting in my closet for over a decade without ever having worn them, not even once.

They’re perfectly good, high-quality hiking shoes that I probably spent $100 on back in the day, but I somehow didn’t like them – something about the way the laces tied. I later bought a pair of hiking shoes that I like much better, and even wear once every 36 months or so, but I hung on to the other pair. Every so often I’d look at them and think GAH THIS IS STUPID, JUST GET RID OF THEM, but then I’d think about how sorry I’d be if I ever needed a spare pair of hiking shoes, or if I were to go hiking with someone who’d forgotten to bring their own shoes and needed to borrow a pair, and I’d throw them back in the closet where they’d been hunkered down for 2, 5, 10 years.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that I’m just not the kind of person who’s likely to ever be in a situation where pulling an emergency pair of hiking shoes out of the closet at the last second. Self-understanding has come slowly to me, however, and on more than one occasion I’ve wished to be that kind of person – carelessly fit, radiating physicality, possessing an inner glow born of a deep love for life in the outdoors. I’m not, though. I’m the most indoorsy person that’s ever walked the face of this planet. I can barely justify owning ONE pair of hiking shoes – nearly all of my favorite activities involve sitting in a chair somewhere inside.

I donated the shoes to Goodwill, and I think that’s a good thing. Someone who’d probably struggle to pay the current retail price for hiking shoes of that quality will get a really good deal on my old, unused pair, and it underscored my own level of comfort and good fortune in being able to just give away a brand-new pair of shoes. In a way it felt like admitting defeat, I have to say, as if I was giving up on a long-held (if completely unrealistic) fantasy-based concept of the person I could be if I was, you know, a completely different person from who I actually am. Decluttering. It’s not as complicated as writing a book, but it IS complicated.


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