Tuesday, July 1, 2008

But I Didn't Tell The Newsweek Reporter To Ask My Editor

I had a terrific time at ALA.

I had four things to do on Sunday. To begin with, I had the "speed dating" "kaffe klatch" breakfast with the librarians event. There were a whole bunch of writers, and we were herded into the green room (which wasn't green but was a room) and held there for an extensive period of time. This allowed us to socialize with each other. I spoke with Gary Schmidt, Elizabeth Knox, and John Green, all of whom were extremely nice.

John Green said he knew someone I'd gone to high school with, and I replied, "Who, your grandmother?"

Writers are getting younger and younger, let me tell you.

Eventually they released us and we got to talk with (or at) the librarians. I started at Table 3 and ended somewhere around Table 12. Since there were well over 20 tables, that meant a lot of librarians were spared five to seven minutes of my presence. I didn't hear anyone ask for their money back.

I would have taken pictures of all this, but I'd put the wrong memory card in my camera and I needed a new one. My long suffering editor met me after the brunch thing and we raced around Anaheim looking for a memory card. We found one at a 7-11, and Harcourt paid for it (it's things like that that make a writer feel loved).

Here's a picture of my long suffering editor, taken with the Harcourt financed memory card:

When we got to the Convention Center, I met Dawn, who posts comments here regularly. I'd been looking forward to meeting her for so long, and I wasn't disappointed. Here she is,, courtesy of the Harcourt memory card.
I also got to meet Jen Robinson, who has a picture of the two of us on her blog. She's the good looking one.
My long suffering editor took me to the Harcourt booth for me to do autographing. There is nothing better for a writer's ego than autographing, unless of course no one wants your autograph in which case there is nothing worse. Fortunately for me, lots of people wanted copies of Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone signed. I was more than happy to oblige.
Note , if you will, my lovely pink fingernails. I had a manicure before I left, and spent much of the weekend obsessed with the pinkness of my nails. My recollection is I spoke of nothing else (yet another reason why my long suffering editor has suffered so long).
Any number of people (without my even telling them to) asked if there was going to be a third book. Every time one did, I told them to ask my editor. Hey, I don't know the answer.
Next on my professional obligation list was the interview for the podcast. The interviewer was a woman named Susan Raab, who I hadn't seen in years but had always liked. I don't remember much about the interview except my discussing why I was looking forward to being retired (books to read, dvds to watch).
Then it was off to the Scholastic booth, to autograph there. More people showed up at the Harcourt signing, but I stayed pretty busy for the hour at Scholastic as well. Several people asked why the Scholastic cover was so pink, and I responded that it was a long story and showed them my equally pink fingernails to distract them.
I finished at Scholastic at 4, give or take, and then walked around the exhibit hall with my friend Christy, who had driven down from LA. Harcourt had gotten her a pass (making me feel loved even more), and we had a fine time collecting as many free things as we could get. We then went back to my hotel room and went through the loot. I guessed I'd picked up 17 pieces of candy and Christy guessed 20, but it turned out to be 23. I also got 18 pens and pencils (my mother likes ballpoints, so it was her lucky day) and four Post-It pads, and four carrying bags, and a couple of books and a deck of cards and a panda and any number of other incredibly useful items. Here's a picture of most of the loot. Those two things that look like my bookplates are my bookplates. I took a hundred with me to hand out and ended up with two. I also got a water bottle and a backpack, but gave them to Christy for her collection. And I got a Smurf pen, but it turned out Susan Raab wanted it, so I gave it to her, but then I went back and got another one for myself.
Here's Christy displaying a tee shirt (we both got one, but I got the better deck of cards).
I got home Monday evening and have been unpacking and dealing with crises ever since. Emily seems to have survived her first time ever being alone (no me, no Alexander), in no small part because the cat sitter and my friends Marci and Bonnie visited with her and petted her and told her how wonderful she was. But then my computer died, so yesterday I bought a new one, which I'm still trying to master.
Yesterday morning, the reporter from Newsweek called. I'd figured she'd ask me why I thought teens like apocalyptic fiction, so I'd worked out an answer, and indeed she asked, so it was a good thing I'd come up with a response. She also asked if there was going to be a third book (without my even telling her to). We were on the phone for fifteen minutes, which was longer than I'd anticipated (I was especially aware of the time because I really had to go to the bathroom). She said Newsweek was doing a double issue this week and there wouldn't be an issue next week, so she might call me next week to check up on facts.
She's more than welcome to do so, but she can't have my Smurf pen!


Jen Robinson said...

It was great to meet you in person, Sue! I'm glad that you were able to find a memory card, and take a picture of those lovely pink nails. (I also laughed out loud at the part about knowing how long the phone interview was because you have to go to the bathroom - that is universally understood humor).

Dawn said...

Hey Susan!!

So exciting to have finally met you! I am bummed that you cut yourself out of our picture however I am still honored to be on published on your blog! Fancy stuff!!

It was super fantastic to meet you. I thought that you pink nail polish was very fun.

I will email you my pictures from your very long line at the exhibit hall and the one I have of the two of us.

Take care!

Dawn said...

I am posting a second comment to see if you can see my new photo which is of the two of us! :)

Paige Y. said...

I am so envious of everyone who got to finally meet you! I hope your long-suffering editor took notice of how many people asked about a third book. To go to ALA is a dream of mine that hopefully someday will be fulfilled. Next year AASL (the school librarians' division of ALA) will be in Charlotte and I'm planning to attend it.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to Jen Robinson, Dawn, and Paige Y-

ALA really was fabulous. I still haven't put away all the loot, but I'm devoting this weekend to straightening my apartment out (I admit, shamefacedly, that I haven't put stuff from my party away yet either). In particular, my den looks like a tornado hit it. I seem to have tossed a lot of things around in anger and frustration as I began mastering my new computer.

I could use a nice quiet weekend.

Speaking of this weekend, I forgot in my blog entry to wish all who celebrate it, a very happy Fourth Of July. It's one of my favorite holidays, even if I intend to spend this one liberating myself from chaos and clutter!

Anonymous said...


What a terrific weekend! It sounds like you had a great time, and thanks for sharing the photos...::chuckles:: Whenever I do anything like that, I end up with a lot of free stuff, too. If you mom ever wants ball point pens, feel free to send her to me. :)

-Kylen aka Jen

Linda Jacobs said...


finished d&g last night and am in withdrawal now!

Sometimes, when I finish one book I can just go on to another right away but not with this one. There is no way I can begin a new book until I've had time to digest this one longer.

Thank you for writing these two fantastic books!

BFD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Corbett said...

Sorry, I had to remove previous post when I realized I had accidently signed in w/my husband's user name "bfd" (Big Fat Dad) So, I will try again:

I would love to go to ALA too! One of these years...
Looking for Alaska is one of my all time favorite teen books. An Abundance of Katherines is great too. When reading them I was under the impression that John Green is ultra-intelligent. Did he hit you that way in person?

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Kylen (Jen), Linda Jacobs, and Mrs. Corbett-

ALA really was great, and not just for the free stuff (although I do love free stuff). I think my mother is supplied with ballpoint pens for a while.

I'd think for librarians ALA would be an incredibly stimulating experience. Lots of seminars, lots of fellow professionals to share ideas with.

Of course if writers ever got together, all we'd talk about is advances and royalties. Them that has would brag and them that hasn't would feel all kinds of envious. Take it from one who knows!

John Green and I discussed careers and the choices one makes. Do you flit around from genre to genre, or do you decide on a style and become easily identifiable. Both methods have pros and cons, we agreed.

Gary Schmidt and I talked about his six children, and Elizabeth Knox and I talked about her travels from New Zealand.

This afternoon, instead of cleaning the den (which I swear I'll get to as soon as I finish this endless comment), I reread the 75 page manuscript of The World We Live In. That's all I have, since the much revised version died along with my computer. At least I hope I revised it, since the printed version definitely needed polishing. But of course I loved it.

Next step is to see if Harcourt loves it. But first I'll clean the den.

Mrs. Corbett said...

Harcourt had better love it--I need to read more!