Friday, January 3, 2014

Hail And Farewell

I wrote my first blog entry on June 1, 2007 and began it by announcing that I had no idea what I was doing.

Six and a half years have passed and I still have no idea.

I woke up the other day in a semi-first-thing-in-the-morning-panic and said, I have no idea what's going to happen.

But then I realized what you already know. No one has any idea what's going to happen. Life can't be predicted. At best you have a sense of the rhythm, but even that can be disrupted by snowstorms and asteroids and phone calls.

Fortunately for all humanity, not all disruptions are bad. My life had fallen into its own specific rhythm nine years ago, when I wrote Life As We Knew It. A little less than two years later, there it was.

Not unexpectedly, there were additions.

But then the additions kept on happening.

Naturally, that inspired me to keep writing.

And now, here's what that one book has led to.

Along with the books, I've written this blog. I decided fairly early on that the blog would be about process. While I've always been happy to announce the good things (and there's been a lot of that), I also wrote about the failures and dead ends and general aggravation that's been an integral part of my career.

I've never been big on suffering alone.

But now my process involves retirement. I haven't written a book since completing The Shade Of The Moon a year and a half ago. That's the longest stretch for me since I began Just Morgan, well over 40 years ago. Shade is my 78th book to be published, and there's no round number I'm aiming for. 78 seems like as good a number to stop on as 80 or 90 or 100.

So just as I've retired from writing books, I'm retiring from writing this blog. 726 posts seems like as good a number to stop on as 800 or 900 or 1000.

I don't seem to be missing writing books. I don't know how I'll feel not writing this blog. As long as Blogspot allows me to stay here rent free, the blog itself will linger (and I'll try to remember to put updates over on the right side). Should something truly wonderful happen (which I don't anticipate), I'll post on Twitter that there's a new blog entry.

I've never been big on celebrating alone.

I wish I could explain how much you have meant to me. Over the course of these six and a half years, I've met maybe a dozen of you in person, and each time it's been a thrill for me. I am so grateful to you, those who have left comments, those who have emailed, those who I've never heard from but I sense your presence anyway. You've been a significant part of my life, and I appreciate you more than you can possibly know.

Always have hope.

Never lose faith.

Trust in tomorrow.

Accept the impossible.

And thank you so much.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Greetings

To A Budding Author, Allison, Anonymous, Anonymous Santa Fe, Another Susan, Barker and Jones Staff, Becky, bella, Beth @More Than True, Beth P., Bonnie Jacobs, Brandon, B.S., Caroline, Carolyn Watson-Dubisch, Cassie @ Knows Prose, Catalina L.L.,Chick, Christie Schaeffer, Corey, Crystal, Danielle, Ellen Cheng, Emergency Preparedness 911, Emily, Emma, Erica, Esther Pfeffer, Evan Gumas, exBFF, EZE, fans from Taiwan, Fear Death By Water, Felicity, Felicity G., Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller, Geri, Gia, Gia Vogel, Gigi, Gillian, Glen, Gretchen, grrlpup, Heather, Henry Hicks, holdenj, Ing, Jacob, Jen Robinson, jessiemc82, Jill Darwish, Jodie McNulty, jon, Jordan G., Joyce, Julie B, Kaitlyn, Kathy Mai, Kelly, Kimberly Gailey,Laura Holland,  Leeanna, leftwriter, Librarina, Lillian, Linda Jacobs, Lisa Mandina, lisa-marie jordan, Louise, LR At Random, Marci, Margaret S.,Maria Touet, Mary Stiffler, Matt, Morgaine, Mr. Cavin, Mrs. Ruit, Ms. Brenda,  Ms. Joplin, Ms. Yingling, M Touet, Nancy, Nicole, Nina Ruit, Nora Durbin, Owl Traveller, Ouachita Parish Public Library, Paige Y., paloa lopez, Professor Tech, Rashika, Rebecca, Rebecca Herman, Renee Carter Hall, Robert Slater, Robin Layton, ruitfarm, Ryan Vincent Jarabejo, sarah, Sarah, Sarah Jameson, Shannon Baker, Shauna, Sherry, Susan, Tara, Teacher 4067,Teresa Barrett, Tez Miller, Tori Bachman, Verity, W.S., and anyone else who wandered by my blog or sent me an email, I wish the happiest and healthiest of new years.

May 2014 sparkle for us all!

Monday, December 30, 2013

99 Books/12 Movies

I read (or reread) 99 books in 2013 and went to the movies 12 times. It would be 100 books, except tomorrow I'm going to go to the movies for the 13th time (to see Saving Mr. Banks), so I won't finish reading Marie Antoinette's Head until 2014.

I keep a list of the books I read, but it's never occurred to me to keep a list of the movies I've seen. My guess is I watched 150, give or take a few dozen, at home, and, thanks to research and the powers of the internet, I now know I went to a movie theater 12 times.

I always think I read more non-fiction than I actually do, because non-fiction books generally take longer to read than novels. So I spend more time reading them, even if the numbers don't show a marked preference. It feels like this year I discovered how really bad some fiction can be, although I'm sure I read my share of clunkers in years past. It could also be that my taste for bad fiction isn't as strong as it used to be.

I also don't remember as many Oh Wow! books this year. The two best I read in 2013 were The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (which I read for the third time and know I'll reread again) and Angel in the Whirlwind by Benson Bobrick, which I recommend to anyone interested in the American Revolution. I also very much enjoyed The Entertainer by Margaret Talbot.

Okay, here goes. I'll make one list for fiction and one for non-fiction. Try not to notice how many true crime books fall in the latter category.

Fiction  (in alphabetical order by author because why not)

Deadly Recall- Donnell Ann Bell
The Hiding Place- David Bell
Slipping Into Darkness- Peter Blauner
Mayday- Thomas H. Block
The Trinity Game- Sean Chercover
Caught- Harlan Coben
No Secnd Chance- Harlan Coben
Six Years- Harlan Coben
Stay Close- Harlan Coben
The Brass Verdict- Michael Connelly
Death Of A Unicorn- Peter Dickinson
Swift Edge- Laura DiSilverio
Category Five- Philip Donlay
The Good Soldier- Ford Madox Ford
Nightmare Alley- William Lindsay Gresham
The Racketeer- John Grisham
Damage Control- Denise Hamilton
The Lock Artist- Steve Hamilton
The Silent Wife- A.S.A. Harrison
Flowers Of The Field- Sarah Harrison
Cemetery Road- Gar Anthony Haywood
Dead Indeed- M. R. Hodgkin
Wool- Hugh Howey
The Murder Of My Aunt- Richard Hull
Final Argument- Clifford Irving
Mother Finds A Body- Gypsy Rose Lee
The Intimate Journal Of Warren Winslow- Jean Leslie
A Kiss Before Dying- Ira Levin
Missing Woman- Michael Z. Lewin
And To My Beloved Husband- Philip Loraine
The Instant Enemy- Ross Macdonald
The Lost Girl- Sangu Mandanna
The Husband's Secret- Liane Moriarty
Judas Child- Carol O'Connell
An Innocent Client- Scott Pratt
Shadow Of Guilt- Patrick Quentin
We Need To Talk About Kevin- Lionel Shriver
Sweet Adelaide- Julian Symons
A Fatal Inversion- Barbara Vine
The Legacy- Katherine Webb
Hush- Kate White
A Hundred Summers- Beatriz Williams
The Tabloid Murders- Clement Wood
Night Has A Thousand Eyes- Cornwell Woolrich
Into The Night- Cornell Woolrich and Lawrence Block

Non-Fiction (in alphabetical order by author for the same reason)

Caroline of Ansbach- R. L. Arkell
Why? Because We Still Like You- Jennifer Armstron
Mary And Lou And Rhoda And Ted- Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
A Song In The Dark- Richard Barrios
I Do And I Don't- Jeanine Basinger
A Woman's View- Jeanine Basinger
The World War II Combat Film- Jeanine Basinger
Sunday Nights At Seven- Jack Benny and Joan Benny
Seeing Is Believing- Peter Biskind
Angel in the Whirlwind- Benson Bobrick
Hello Goodbye Hello- Craig Brown
The Invasion From Mars- Hadley Cantril
Somewhere In The Night- Nicholas Christopher
Prince Of Pleasure- Saul David
Borrowed Time- Al Di Orio
Hollywood's Image Of The Jew- Lester D. Friedman
Rasputin- Joseph T. Fuhrmann
After Visting Friends- Michael Hainey
Bunch Of Amateurs- Jack Hill
The Girl Who Loved Camellias- Julie Kavanagh
Marmee & Louisa- Eve LaPlante
Catherine Howard- David Loades
Mary Rose- David Loades
Making Movies- Sidney Lumet
The Journalist And The Murderer- Janet Malcolm
Who Was That Lady?- Jeffrey Marks
Blind Faith- Joe McGinniss
Cruel Doubt- Joe McGinniss
Fatal Vision- Joe McGinniss
Bringing Down The House- Ben Mezrich
Jane Seymour- Elizabeth Norton
Murder In Little Eygpt- Darcy O'Brien
Winter King- Thomas Penn
Case Closed- Gerald Posner
Dickens' Fur Coat And Charlotte's Unanswered Letters- Daniel Pool
Popcorn Venus- Marjorie Rosen
Small Sacrifices- Ann Rule
American Idol- Richard Rushfield
Vagabond Stars- Nahma Sandrow
Running Time- Nora Sayre
The Bialy Eaters- Mimi Sheraton
Hollywood Goes To War- Colin Shindler
Drama High- Michael Sokolove
Is Heathcliff A Murderer? Can Jane Eyre Be Happy?- John Sutherland
My Beloved Brontosaurus- Brian Switek
The Entertainer- Margaret Talbot
Imperial Requiem- Justin C. Vork
Talking To The Dead- Barbara Weisberg
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap- Wendy Welch
The Dream Beside Me- Carol Traynor Williams
Shadow Of The Titanic- Andrew Wilson
Barbara Stanwyck- Victoria Wilson
The Hollywood Musical Goes To War- Allen L. Woll
A Mother's Trial- Nancy Wright

And for any of you who might be interested (and I'm very glad you can be both singular and plural), here's a list of the 12 movies I saw in theaters:

All Is Lost
Blue Jasmine
Frances Ha
The Great Gatsby
Hava Nagila
Inside Llewyn Davis
Kill Your Darlings
When Comedy Went To School

Friday, December 27, 2013

Past And Presents

A few days ago, I did something I hadn't done in a very long time.

I googled myself.

It's a tribute to how long it's been since I so indulged, that the most interesting place I found myself plopped into was an article from a year ago about a teacher winning a $1000.00 prize. If that very fine teacher had been holding a copy of any book other than Life As We Knew It, it truly would have been a dull day in Googleland.

I might have been inspired to self-goog because Twitter led me to a Huffington Post article that  mentioned Life As We Knew It. It's an article about YA science fiction books to make you interested in science. Here's the very nice thing it said about LAWKI:

Be fascinated by eco-disasters. Then be scared of them. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. The moon is knocked a little too close to the earth one day. The disastrous effect on the weather and society, and then the diseases that end up ravaging the pockets of society are so real and scientifically valid, your cells will shiver from fear.

Isn't that lovely? I would have sent the link to my editor except for a couple of things. First off, it's the week between Christmas and New Year's, and what with both of them falling on Wednesdays, we can safely assume the entire publishing industry is in hiding from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6. So it would be almost disrespectful of me to make someone look at anything work related during that time.

The second reason is wonderful though the mention is, here's the book cover they used to accompany it:

Don't get me wrong. It's a fine cover. And I should be grateful they didn't use the pink one. But still, it's the U.K. cover, and my American publisher would probably prefer if they'd used the U.S. one. So I'm not going to tell them.

I stopped exchanging holiday gifts a number of years ago, pre-LAWKI, when I moved from my big expensive house to my lovely but much smaller apartment. The only person I give presents to and receive from is my goddaughter. Among the gifts she sent me this Christmas were two of her cheeses. The Prix de Diane is already gone, but if you get here quickly enough, there might be a little bit left of the Morgan for you to enjoy.

She also sent me a handknit neckwarming thing (there's probably a technical term for it, but I'm not au courant fashion wise or most any other wise for that matter). Anyway, whatever you call it, it's very pretty and I'm sure it will keep my neck warm over the next couple of months.

That is, assuming Scooter will let me wear it. My goddaughter gave me strict instructions that her presents were not to be regarded as cat toys, but no one seems to have told Scooter that.

And for any of you cynical enough to think I wrote this entire blog entry to have an excuse to post that second picture, well, you just might be right!

Monday, December 16, 2013

If You Should Happen To Know My Future Plans, Tell Them To Please Call Home

One of the things I've noticed since my mother's death is how unable I seem to be to stick to a plan. I'll feel wildly decisive about something one day, and by three days later (if it takes that long) I'll have completely changed my mind. Within five days, I'm guaranteed to be wildly decisive about a whole other plan, with the same pattern reasserting itself.

Fortunately for me and the universe none of the plans I've been making are the sorts that absolutely have to be acted on right away or else disaster will follow. Well, maybe if I'd acted on my plan to buy a winning lottery ticket, I'd be wealthy right now, but not being wealthy isn't exactly a disaster for myself or the universe. Although both the universe and I would be happier if I were wealthy. I speak for all humanity, except maybe Republicans, when I say that.

Speaking of the universe, it has to take its share of responsibility for my wavering plans. I was absolutely committed to going to the movies tomorrow. Tuesday is old folks day at the movie theater, and it costs us $2.00 less, which for those of us who failed to buy a winning lottery ticket, can be regarded as big bucks. The only problem with going to the movies on a Tuesday is the theater is rife with other old folk, a generation that texts less but talks more. Still, two bucks is two bucks and plans are plans, except when they're predicting snow. Not a lot of snow, mind you, but all of it falling at the exact time I'd be making my way to the movie theater. So I may have to go Wednesday instead, and bill Mother Nature for those extra two dollars.

Among the plans I've been making and unmaking are What To Do About This Blog. I might as well capitalize it, since I've given it enough thought. My plan for quite a while (this predates my mother's death) has been to find something to write about in December, then write the list of books I read in 2013 (more than in 2012, because I've been working a lot less), and then do my annual New Year's Greeting entry with a seemingly casual but much thought out farewell.

There is nothing like starting the new year off with a whimper.

I'm still leaning towards this plan, especially since in early January I'll be joining 3 of my friends at the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in Boston, and the extent of my figure skating reportage is pretty much, "And then he fell." Which no doubt he, and any number of shes, will do. And after I get back from Boston, I'm not going to have much to say, because unless your career is zippity doing in January, there never is much to say. And my career doesn't look to have many more zippity doing days in store for it.

But I'm thinking that instead of saying hale and farewell come January 1, I'll say hale and hiatus. The blog itself won't go anywhere (thank you Mr. Blogspot for your excellent hosting). And if something worth mentioning happens, I'd be silly not to mention it.

Speaking of mentioning things, have I mentioned that in 2 hours I have a dentist appointment and my dentist is going to drill not one but two of my teeth, one on top and one on bottom, which means two shots of Novocaine?

Oh well. If I survive this afternoon, maybe my future plans will start making sense!

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Handful Of Actual Professional Announcements

First, I have to find my actual professional demeanor. I know I put it somewhere...

In the meantime, I'm pleased to announce that the Audible Book version of The Shade Of The Moon is now available for purchase. I confess, with a lack of professional demeanor, that I haven't had a chance to listen to it in its entirety, but what I have heard, I've liked. The reader, Matthew Josdal, has a pleasant youthful voice, and I have to figure The Shade Of The Moon must have been a nice change of pace for him, after doing the Audible version of Nicomachean Ethics.

While we're on the subject of alternate ways of acquiring my books, for those of you who've been holding off buying the ebook version of Life As We Knew It until you could get it for under
$4.50, Barnes & Noble Nook has it listed for $4.49.

And finally (hey look- I only promised you a handful), I received an email from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announcing that The Shade Of The Moon will come out in paperback Fall 2014. Since the other three moon books, and Blood Wounds for that matter, all came out in paperback a year after their hardcover publication, this particular announcement shouldn't come as a major surprise, but it's still good to know. Heck, it's good to know my publisher still has my email address on file.

Now if they'd only tell me where I filed my professional demeanor!

Scooter knows, but he's not saying

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Pre-Thanksgiving Thank You

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the comments here and on Facebook, the e-mails, and the cards I've received from you since my mother's death. Each one meant a great deal to me.

I wish you all a happy Chanukah and/or a happy Thanksgiving and/or a happy rest of the week!