A childhood dream realized!

I’m a couple of weeks behind due to travel, so I’ll use this week’s Gratitude Sunday to catch up on all the goodness that has happened.

I do have to make special mention of one event that was truly extraordinary. I got to meet one of my childhood/adolescent heroes at the SCBWI LA conference – Henry Winkler, a.k.a. The Fonz. I’m sure, after all Henry Winkler has accomplished as an actor, director, producer and now children’s author since the end of Happy Days, it’s a bit frustrating for him to have fangirls like me who still can’t get over him in that role. But, in my defense, it is not an exaggeration to say that show got me through my wrecked middle school years. In the midst of some very unhappy days, I’d watch marathons of Happy Days reruns in syndication in order to get me to Tuesday night when the new episodes would air.

PLUS, Night Shift is one of my ALL TIME favorite movies. I swear one summer my brother and I watched that movie on tape so many times we could recite every single line from memory. “Hello, this is Chuck to remind Bill to SHUT UP…” and “I’m alright. Fortunately the ground broke my fall.” 

Now he writes the Hank Zipzer series with none other than Lin Oliver, SCBWI Executive Director. Hank is a humorous series that features a 4th grade boy with dyslexia, a learning disability Winkler himself suffers from. I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for him to grow up with dyslexia before parents, educators and doctors really understood the condition. What an inspiration for children with learning disabilities to have a hero in a book series who’s like them.

I could go on and on, but I’ll end with this. I was a bit embarrassed because I practically tackled him as he was on his way on out the door at the end of the book signing party. I apologized up and down, but I simply could not let the opportunity to meet him pass me by. He looked me right in the eyes and said, “Don’t apologize.” We took the photo, and then he rubbed my back and gave me a hug. *Picture me melting now*

I was trembling for a full 30 minutes after he left. Luckily, that’s exactly how long I had to wait in Jon Klassen’s line to get Extra Yarn signed…

When I showed the picture to my daughter, she wasn’t immediately convinced of Winkler’s status as an iconic hero. So I had to play a few Fonzie clips for her on YouTube and now she is more than convinced. I’ve included one at the end of this post for your own enjoyment. Aaaay!

Quotes on Gratitude

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The gratest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” — Seneca

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” — A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Gratitude list for the week ending August 11

  1. I went to San Francisco the day before the SCBWI LA conference to stay with my college friend Erica and got to right a 20-year wrong – the fact that we had to leave Les Miserables early as poor study-abroad students in London. We saw the 25-year anniversary show at the Orpheum Theater downtown – all the way to the end!
  2. Although I took pitifully few photos at the conference, I got to meet many friends who up to this point had only been virtual – Carter Higgins, Kirsten Larson, Miranda Paul, Jan O’Neill, Christine Alemshah, Mira Reisberg, Karen Cheesman, Sue Fliess, Lori Degman, Tammi Sauer, Debbie Ohi, and Emma Dryden.
  3. Getting a chance to thank agent Steven Malk for two very personal, very helpful rejections (yes, rejections). In an industry where “if you never hear anything from me that means no,” I think it’s very genteel and classy that he takes the time to respond.
  4. Tony DiTerlizzi’s keynote speech. I swear he transforms into Robin Williams on the stage. He could easily play at the Improv.
  5. Getting my eBook on Submissions finished! For a long time I’ve wanted to offer a free gift to people who sign up for my newsletter, and now I can.
  6. Two amazing books by Robert Hellenga, which kept me great company on my travels – The Sixteen Pleasures (a re-read) and The Italian Lover (a sequel of sorts). Now I’m reading The Fall of a Sparrow, which features a character from The Italian Lover. Next up is Philosophy Made Simple, which features the father of the female protagonist in The Sixteen Pleasures. Brilliant!
  7. The Brain Burps About Books podcast episode I was in, talking about apps, came out this week.
  8. My kids both got the teachers they most wanted for the upcoming school year.
  9. My mom’s amazing fried chicken and the company of my aunt and cousin to enjoy it with
  10. Sleeping to the sound of crickets at night

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Books, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Self Publishing, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. “and then he rubbed my back and gave me a hug” This made me gasp, and then shriek a little. And then wonder why the next line isn’t, “And I’m never washing this shirt again.” And I love how you look exactly like a giddy 12-year-old standing next to him.

    • Argh! I’ve already washed the shirt!!! I never even thought of that – LOL. And I WAS a giddy 12 year-old while I was standing next to him. 🙂

  2. Julie, I’m grateful that you made me aware of the incredible book, “Wired for Story.” My copy is already becoming dog-eared and highlighted, and I’ve only had it a few days.

  3. What a fantastic gratitude list this week! After hearing about your wonderful weekend at the SCBWI LA conference, I am inspired to make it next year. It will be my first. At least I have time to save up for it.
    And what a great picture with the timeless Fonz!

  4. Wow! Meeting the Fonz… you are currently getting two thumbs up, and a heartfelt “Ayyyyyyyyy!” from me. Wonderful gratitude list! This week I’m grateful for the lovely lunch I just had with my friend Wendy, that Wendy’s willing to read my MG novel and go over it with a fine-tooth comb, for the way a couple of writing projects are coming together, and for people like you who remind me to take time for gratitude.

    • Getting someone to read your whole novel is huge – congrats! So glad your writing is going well. You’re an inspiration!

  5. Loved your gratitude list and bowled-over-awed that you got to meet the Fonz in person! For the rest of your life you’ll be able to tell the story of how you met, spoke with, and actually touched the Fonz himself! Totally awesome 🙂

  6. Sounds like a wonderful time. I worked with Steven Malk last year at SCBWI, and discovered he rarely reads PB and passes them along. He gave me a great crtique and suggested I submit to a specific House. I really liked working with him. Loved that you thanked him for his rejections — great!

  7. I always love your Gratitude Sundays, Julie…they point out that we can be grateful for many things, both great and small. 🙂 Love the pic with “The Fonz”…we loved watching Happy Days with our kids…it brought back many of our “Happy Days”. 🙂
    After reading Daniel’s comment about “Wired for Story”, I’m watching the mailbox even more anxiously…can’t wait to check it out!

  8. Very cool to have met the Fonz! I remember watching Happy Days as well!

  9. That’s cool! Love Henry Winkler and have read some interviews with him on children’s writing.
    Can imagine you brought back some gold for us from SCBWI and know you’ll share what you learned. So, I’m grateful, our dear Julie, for eager anticipation.

    • Damon – As we speak, I’m consolidating my lessons learned from SCBWI to send out to my mailing list. Your comment is very sweet. Thanks so much!!

  10. Wow Julie you actually got to chat with the Fronz! I accidentally ended up in his session last year when I was at SCBWI LA. It was wonderful listening to him talk about the many situations that you can find humor in to write. At the end he read from one of his books he writes with Lin Oliver.. inspiring guy!

    • I wish I had been able to hear him talk about his books. I think he just came in for the signing.

  11. Loved the list, Julie, and that you got to meet Henry Winkler. The clip brought back SO many memories! Sounds like you’ve had a fantastic week, but I think the most miraculous thing on your list is that both your kids got the teachers they wanted! I know how unlikely that is, and it will be a blessing for them all year.

    The biggest thing I”m grateful for this week is that we’ve had a good amount of rain! Green grass again, and the corn looks better as I drive by, but I think it’s too late to help the crop. Also had a great brainstorming session to fix a problem with my MG novel.

    • It IS miraculous that the kids got the teachers they wanted. It also makes the last couple of days before school MUCH easier.

      Glad you enjoyed the clip and here’s to your continuing success with your MG novel!

  12. LUCKY!!!!! The Fonz is cool!!

  13. Julie, and I was so happy to meet you and all the 12xers as well. You all have been such an inspiration this year, and I know I would never be where I am without you. As for the Fonz, I saw him, but didn’t get a photo. Lucky girl!

  14. LOVE the Fonz video and your story photo with him!!! And your new hairstyle, Julie… Looks GREAT! Wish they did shows like Happy Days nowadays…. Thanks again!

  15. The Fonz–that is so cool! Of course my son only knows him as the guy who wrote the Hank Zipzer books–awesome Julie 🙂

  16. I think I would squeal at meeting the Fonz too! I have also read some of his Hank books. Thanks for sharing your experience. Love the pic!

  17. HOLY COW! How special was that! I’m glad you had such a wonderful time, Julie. 🙂

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