Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Blinking Day!

It's a brand new holiday. It combines the better features of Boxing Day (an event whose name I know if not its purpose) with Linking Day (an event I just created, because there's no point doing a blog entry of links right before Christmas- not even I in my most glorious egotism think anyone would be interested just then).

So put on your boxing gloves. I'll do the linking.

For starters, I'm going to be one of the authors at the USA Science And Engineering Festival and Book Fair Sunday, April 29 in Washington DC. There are going to be tons of writers there, all of whom know considerably more about science and engineering than I do. Actually, I know nothing about engineering, and not much more about science.

Being invited to such an extraordinary event has given me pause to think about whether my Junior High School science teachers are spinning in their graves or not. When you're 13, all grownups look pretty much the same age (old). But if they were 20years older than me, they could well be enjoying themselves without any thought of grave spinning. Even 30 years older, they could still be alive and kicking. But no matter how old they are, they would never have anticipated my being invited to talk at a festival devoted to science. Trust me on that (without links to my junior high school report cards).

A couple of interviews I gave have slipped past unlinked to. Well, we can't have that. In this first one, I talk about blogging, a dangerous thing to admit to on this my very own blog. In the second one, I list the three books I'd take with me if the world comes to an end, none of which, as it happens, I wrote.

Finally, while I don't have a link for this, I know you'll all be happy to hear that on my brand new computer my FreeCell winning percentage is a glowing 100%, and I intend to keep it that way. Failure is impossible at least in one tiny aspect of my life!

ETA: Whoops. I was visiting my mother when I realized I'd forgotten to mention that I got an email from my publisher saying the paperback of Blood Wounds will be coming out in the fall of 2012. It'll cost $7.99 (so much less expensive than $8.00), so I'm giving you at least 9 months to save the necessary 799 pennies (more if you have to pay sales tax).

My mother is fine and sends her regards!

Monday, December 19, 2011

In Germany, August Is Right Around The Corner

Only because the holidays are rapidly approaching, I'll spare you the long version of how my computer died so I bought a new one and the new one didn't work so I took it back to Staples which refused to believe it was the computer's fault, and made me bring in the new monitor I bought to go with the new computer, even though I told them repeatedly it was the computer not the monitor that was faulty, and then after I brought in the monitor, they attached a new monitor to the computer, and by golly, I was right and it was the computer, so they finally agreed and let me exchange the computer, but they thought I should get a new monitor to go with the new new computer so I got a new new (and slightly bigger) monitor, and ironically enough, the monitors cost the same, and but the computer was on sale this week, so I actually saved $40.

Trust me. That's not the long version.

Long or short, it's comforting to have a working computer. And two good things resulted from all this.

The first is I have a whole new new computer to play Freecell on, and since it doesn't remember the tragedy of my previous losses, I'm now at a 100% success rate, which will remain forever, since there's no reason to lose at Freecell, given I can erase any games I'm in process of losing.

In 2011 I wrote two books, neither of which will ever be published, so I'm particularly in need of a 100% success rate at something. I'm not fussy about what.

The second good thing has to do with my perfectly healthy morning ritual of checking my Amazon and Barnes and Noble numbers. So when I bought the new new computer, I had to find all those numbers to make favorites of them.

This was not difficult or time consuming. But because I'm internationally renown (at least in my fantasies), I also check the French and German versions of my books every morning. Therefore, I zipped over to Amazon France and Amazon Germany and put Pfeffer into their search boxes and located my books.

But while doing this, I discovered the German version of This World We Live In is available for pre-order.

I never would have found that out except for the new new computer, since the book isn't coming out until August and I wouldn't have thought to look for months. Silly me.

The German title for This World We Live In is Das Leben, das uns bleibt, which my beloved Google Translations informs me means The life that we are left, which is actually a good title.

I saw the cover when I was in Germany, and it's my favorite of the three German covers. And while it makes no sense for me to check the Amazon number for a book that isn't coming out for another seven and one half months, we all know I will anyway.

So join me. Here's the listing for Das Leben, das uns bleibt. What better way to start celebrating the holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Three, It Turns Out, Is The Best Number For A Trilogy

My publisher and I have mutually decided not to pursue a fourth moon book. I won't be writing any new versions of The Shade Of The Moon.

This decision was decided so mutually that I don't even know who mutually decided it first.

I've been a writer for a long long time, and during that long long time I've figured out what I can do and what I can't. I can do rewrites. I may gripe and complain about the process, but I've worked with quite a number of excellent editors who've helped guide me as I've tried to make my book better.

What I can't do is write to please someone else. It's simply not a skill I have. Even when I've written books pretty much just for the money, they've been stories I've enjoyed figuring out, with characters I've wanted to get to know better. For better or worse (and it can go either way), I write for myself.

Emily Bronte wrote a poem that has a couple of lines I've always loved.

I'll walk where my own nature would be leading:
It vexes me to choose another guide

I could devote the next few months of my life to trying to figure out an approach for a fourth moon book that would please my publisher, but frankly, I avoid being vexed. Therefore yesterday afternoon I dug through my file cabinet, found the unsigned contracts for the fourth moon book, and mailed them back to my agent. This wasn't a foot stomping whining tantrumy decision. It was simply an awareness that a fourth book wasn't going to work.

So if you want to know what happens to Miranda and Alex next, you'll have to decide for yourself. Maybe they'll be happier in your mind's eye. Maybe they'll be sadder. But either way,you'll take them where your nature would be leading. And that's just where they should go.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Crass And Commercial? Not Moi!

The New York Times had an article today about how bookstores are doing an excellent holiday business.

The article focuses on sales of adult books, and I don't write adult books (lacking, as I do, sufficient adult genes), but it still made me jealous of all those writers who get a holiday season boost.

I'm not totally oblivious to what it is I write, and I do understand that in my last four books, I've killed off all humanity in three and an entire family in the fourth. And while Christmas isn't my holiday, I have reason to believe books where all humanity and/or entire families get slaughtered may not automatically appeal to the holiday spirit shopper.

It's too late and I'm too lazy to rewrite all four books, so I've decided instead to give them holiday-appropriate titles. That way people won't notice all the suffering and horror.

Life As We Knew It With Santa

Sleighbells* Ring For The Dead And The Gone

This World We Live In At Holiday Time

Blood Wounds But Really Nice Gifts Heal!

I can hear those cash registers jingle with that happy holiday sound!

*Get the clever play on words? Sleighbells? Slaybells? Maybe it's too subtle for the harried holiday shopper.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Here's A Writing Contest You Might Be Interested In

I'm not giving you much notice, since the deadline is Dec. 12 (and I apologize for that), but if you're 13 or older, and you'd like to write an essay about a family gathering and you're willing to have me judge it,scurry to this link and find out all about it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

As Virtues Go, Patience Is Severely Overrated

Think about it. Have you ever heard a eulogy that includes the phrase, "And the deceased was truly patient." Or a politician saying, "I don't want to blow my own horn but I'm a lot more patient than the other candidates."

In fact, I don't even think we'd know patience was a virtue if there wasn't a cliche declaring it one.

Bad cess on patience. That's all I've got to say. Well, bad cess on patience and on the possibility of 2-6 inches of snow tonight, especially since just yesterday, I was bragging to a friend of mine in California about how mild a December this has been.

Way way back, all the way back to two full days ago, I patiently pointed out that no decisions are made in December about books or the suchlike, and I knew, because of how extremely and nobly patient I am, that I wouldn't hear anything until 2012, which is three weeks from now, if not more, given that New Year's Day is on a Sunday, which practically stops the new year from starting until Jan. 8 at the earliest.

Patient Griselda. That's what they call me. Except for the Griselda part. And the patient part.

All right. I know better than to expect my editor or my agent to let me know how wonderful my story is, since it would take them at least 5 minutes to read it (maybe 7 minutes if they sneeze in the middle and don't have a tissue on them). Add another minute to write me an email to say how wonderful it is, 2 minutes if they need to use the thesaurus for additional awe inspired adjectives (sure, I know marvelous and fabulous and the greatest thing ever written, but editors and agents might need a little extra help to come up with them). Fine, 3 minutes, if they need to pick and choose, and there's always a chance that they get so involved in the subtle differences between fabulous and marvelous that they forget who they're sending the email to, and have to look it up.

Seven minutes with sneezing and three minutes with searching and forgetting, and it still adds up to ten minutes, which the last I saw, was a mere 1/6th of an hour, and not very much time at all.

In reality (stop giggling; I know what reality is), I don't expect to hear any words of praise or loathing (I'm accustomed to both) for a while, especially since it is December, and nothing happens in December. But I'm a tad peeved that neither my editor nor my agent has bothered to send me an email to say they got the story and summary. That's a one minute event, even with a sneeze (assuming they have a tissue on them).

So if you should happen to run into my editor or my agent, could you suggest to them that they email me to say the story and summary arrived, and it's positively breaking their hearts that they won't get a chance to read it until 2012, and possibly even 2013, given the Olympics and the election and other time consuming events, like having to buy a box of tissues?

Severely Patient Griselda would appreciate it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Scooter, Guardian Of The Spoilers

I tidied up my Alex story and wrote a one page summary of what I intend The Shade Of The Moon Short Story Version to be, and zipped them off to my editor and agent.

Now it's up to my publisher to decide, and given that this is December, a month where no decisions are made, I doubt I'll hear anything definitive in 2011.

But I've done my part, and can resume obsessive playing of Freecell (my winning streak at a tidy 606) with a clear conscience.

For those of you who are curious, I'm going to put the one page summary here. For those of you who might regard the one page summary as a spoiler (although how it can be a spoiler when there's no guarantee the publisher is going to say yes, and even if the publisher says yes, who knows what changes might be made between now and when I write the book, and then it'll take at least a year before the book is published, by which time you will have surely forgotten every single word of the summary except my name, which I trust even a year from whenever you'll remember and know how to pronounce, like Pepper only with "F"s, I don't know).

But for the sensitive to spoiler ones amongst you, I'm going to put a brand new taken for just this occasion picture of Scooter. If you want to be spoiler free, or you just don't care to read anymore, then say hello to Scooter and leave my blog behind (at least until the next time I have something to blog about!).

The Shade Of The Moon Short Story Collection
Susan Beth Pfeffer

Ever since the publication of This World We Live In, I’ve received daily requests for a fourth book, one that tells what becomes of Alex and Miranda.

I want to know what becomes of them also. But it’s very important to me that any fourth “moon” book be different in structure, if not style, from the other three books.

What I’d like to write is a volume of “moon” stories, focusing on four teenagers, Miranda (from Life As We Knew It) , Alex (from The Dead And The Gone), Lark Frasier, a British girl left stranded in the United States, whose life intersects with Alex, and Shawn Delaney, a boy who has had to fight for every moment of survival, that Miranda meets through her friend Sammi.

The book would be chronological, with each story indicating who the main character is and when the action takes place. The stories will be independent of each other, but the volume will interconnect, leaving the readers with a strong sense of what the world has become, and what Miranda and Alex’s future will hold.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Story Is Written! It Is! It Is!

No amount of dawdling kept me from writing the sample Shade Of The Moon short story. And believe, me, I'm top notch at dawdling.

It's an Alex story and it takes place a few months after the end of This World We Live In, and it would be nice if it had a title, but currently it doesn't. I'll polish it on Monday and send it off, and maybe before I do, a title will come to me. Something better than Alex Story.

Then again, almost anything would be better than Alex Story. That's a label, not a title.

I know you won't be shocked to hear I love the story. If you know me, you know I love everything I write, at least for the first ten minutes after I've finished. But this one I'm going to still love on Monday.

After that, it's up to my editor and publisher to see if they love it like I do!