Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Refuse To Blame That Third Piece of Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge

I had terrible fierce insomnia last night, most likely caused by entirely too much serious thinking about career alternatives, although houseguests and an unusually high calorie consumption might also have been factors.

In a failed effort to relax myself to sleep, I tried to name all seventy five of my books. I totally failed. I think I got up to sixty five at one point, but I'm not sure of that, since it's hard to keep straight in one's mind all those titles simultaneously (I'd remember one, then forget it, then not be able to remember if I'd remembered it in the first place). This morning I tried writing them down, unsuccessfully, and after my friend Joyce woke up, and I had access to the den, I looked on the shelves where I keep them all and tried to figure out which one's I'd forgotten (unsuccessfully). Then I went online, googling about until I found a somewhat complete list:

Between that and what I'd written down, I think I came up with all seventy five, although I may have hit seventy six by mistake.

I also remembered various books I'd written, gotten paid for, that never got published. There were five or six. In no particular order:

But Seriously Folks: I wanted to write a book about a girl who wants to be a standup comic, so I did. The only problem was the book was completely humorless. I find it incredibly difficult to be funny on demand. My recollection is the book was so helpless that I either didn't submit it, or merely informed my editor that she didn't have to tell me how dreadful it was, since I already knew. Things have to be really bad if I can tell they're really bad. Since I'd already gotten a contract, I wrote another book in its place. I think it was Truth Or Dare, which did pretty well, but maybe it was a different book. Whichever book it was, it did pretty well.

Dieting Is Just A Piece Of Cake: I liked high interest low reading level books, since my vocabulary level died in the middle of fifth grade. I wrote one under a pseudonym, and I'm pretty sure I wrote a second one which was going to be about dieting. But maybe I just meant to or talked to my editor about it and never got a contract. But I do have vague memories of writing it and getting actual money for it.

The First Future Forward- I wrote a book called Rewind To Yesterday about three kids who discover they can go back in time through their VCR. I got a two book contract, with the plan to write a book where they travel to the future. My recollection is there was a bracelet I really wanted to buy and that was why I wanted the contract (I still have the bracelet, although I almost never wear it). The original version of Future Forward, as best I can remember, had the boy character travel ahead in time to find out test results, and somehow, by book's end, he's passed the test and not gotten into any kind of trouble. Even I realized you can't encourage cheating, so I dumped the book and wrote one where he travels ahead of time to find out the winning lottery ticket number. I used to go to schools and ask kids if they thought that was morally wrong. All the kids did, and all the adults thought it was perfectly fine. I learned many lessons from those books, but the most important one is that books date much faster than you ever think they're going to.

By the way, I'm not the only person who remembers Rewind To Yesterday:

And, while I'm feeling nostalgic, I named one of the heroines Kelly Diane Forrest, so her name would be DeForest Kelley, since Dr. McCoy was my absolute favorite Star Trek character. I'm pretty sure I sent Mr. Kelley a copy of the book, but he never responded. I don't hold it against him.

Harry The Sofa King- Definitely my favorite. A picture book about King Harry, who lived in a castle filled with sofas. He tells everyone to bring all their money, and he sells them all his sofas. Then he walks around his kingdom and discovers sofas have become the currency and nobody in the country is happy, since they have to carry the sofas with them just to buy stuff like ice cream. He buys back the sofas, opens a used sofa store for the country next door, and in the course of all this makes friends with the ice cream man and discovers his cat had kittens. The publising house demanded an inordinate amount of rewrites for a three page long manuscript, none of which made the book better. Then they went out of business.

The Princess Of Never Never- Probably my favorite title. I wrote a book called Fantasy Summer about four girls who work as interns on a magazine. Girls loved that book. The plan was to write one book about each of the four girls. A second one, Getting Even, was published, but for some reason things stopped right there. I was looking forward to writing the fourth book, too.

Return To Sender- I wrote a popular book called Twice Taken about a girl who'd been snatched by her father and as as teenager is made to live with her mother, who'd had legal custody. You know me, I like to know what happened next. The publishing house changed its mind about wanting to know the same, so even though I wrote it, and they bought it, it never saw the light of day. I no longer remember what happened in the book, although I recall doing rewrites.

In case you're wondering if there's a moral to this story, it's probably watch how much fudge you eat and never think serious thoughts about your career when you're trying to fall asleep on an air mattress in your living room. Which will never make it onto a sampler, but still are words we should all live by.

Either that, or if King Harry offers to sell you a sofa bed, buy it!


heather t said...

Oh! Please revisit Harry the Sofa King - I see it as a picture book for elementary kids and have all the illustrations worked out in my head, just from your brief synopsis!

heather t said...

Ok, sorry, you SAID it was a picture book. I still have the illustrations for it (in my head tho).

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Heather T-

I could picture the illustrations also, but I'm afraid they'll have to stay in our minds. I sent the manuscript to my current agent a while ago, and she said picture books are a brute to sell and I should forget about it.

So all those countryfolk carrying piles of sofas on their heads will most likely never be seen.

Anonymous said...

This seems to be an abnormally heavy full moon. Note, that it is also on the 15th. I have yet to hear of any friend who hasn't had something heavy happen to them this weekend, or who has not had heavy thoughts. So, a heavily caloric moon?

Speaking of all of the above, it is also the worst time imaginable to watch the movie Walk On The Moon, which I am doing, because things must look up from this heavy place. I predict a wholly fine week after we get this moon stuff over with.

Try Nature's Way brand Nettle. One capsule. Nothing else. W. Slezak

heather t said...

Probably just as well - I can't draw anyway!

Phoo - I see such drivel touted as picture books. Surely they can make room for Harry!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous W. Slezak and Heather T-

I never blame anything on the moon. The moon is my friend. I look at it sometimes and thank it for everything it's given me, if nothing else, a wide circle of acquaintances named Anonymous.

Alas poor Harry The Sofa King. I've only had one picture book published in a long long career, and it would have been nice to have had two, since I was so fond of Harry and his sofas. But at least I know he almost got published, which is more than I can say for any number of other manuscripts I've written!