Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Never Write. I Never Call.

Life is just summerish around here. And unless I have a real reason to work in the summer, I tend not to.

So I've been hanging out with friends and reading a lot and visiting my mother and playing with Scooter and trying to keep up to date with emails and scolding myself when I don't.

But to be honest, I don't even scold myself all that fervently.

At some point, something noteworthy will happen, and when it does you'll be the second to know (presumably I'll be the first).

In the meantime, I think I'll use Scooter as a role model and take a nice long nap!

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Gun Is Quick But Google's Quicker

Now that that Harry Potter dame has confessed all, and the sales of her "Oops, I never meant for you to find out" mystery novel have skyrocketed, the time has come for me to admit that I, Mickey Spillane, better known as the feared, and let's face it, venerated tough guy author of Kiss Me, Deadly, have been masquerading as children's book writer Susan Beth Pfeffer for the past 45 years.

Yeah, it was me, the feared, and let's face it, venerated, author of I, The Jury and The Girl Hunters, who wrote Evvie At Sixteen and Meg Makes A Friend.

At first, the deception was easy enough for a feared, and let's face it, venerated tough guy author such as myself. I picked the name of some going nowhere NYU student, and began to write Just Morgan. Just Morgue is more my style, but what you think is a joke ends up being a secondary income you come to depend on for those little things in life like private jets and acting lessons.

But as the years progressed, the lies piled on top of lies. It wasn't enough to be some NYU grad with no past and not much of a present. I had to flesh my creation out. Not that kind of girly voluptuous flesh I'm used to creating either. More like nearsighted and dumpy with hair that goes nowhere. Just to keep from going crazy, I added a few details. 101 year old mother. Grandfather who was a rabbi in Transylvania. Make believe friends with funny names like Marci.

The giveaway was the phony cat Scooter. An homage, as my French worshippers, would say, to my gal pal Ayn Rand.

Not really a cat

 By now everybody knows she spent 1941-1956  (with a little time off for WW II) playing shortstop for the New York Yankees under the moniker Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto. "Aynie sweetie," I said to her once. "Why shortstop? Why not center field?"

She lowered her seduce me eyes. "Even an Objectivist dame needs to lay down a sacrifice sometimes," she moaned.

I hadn't counted on that Booklist reviewer being on the one to blow my cover. But when she called The Shade Of The Moon "brutal," it was game, set, and murder. You google "Mickey Spillane" + brutal, you got 289,000 different places to call your own. "Susan Beth Pfeffer" + brutal nets you less than half that. Anyone with a search box and a gat was going to know.

Oh well. 45 years was a good run.  'Course I'll never match the Marquis de Sade's record of 145 years masquerading as Louisa May Alcott. The old kinkmeister always liked his broads little!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Another Good Review For The Shade Of The Moon

It comes from Booklist Online (well, technically, it comes from my editor who took it from Booklist Online).

Booklist Online requires membership before you can read their reviews, so I won't put the entire review up here, just the nice complimentary part*:

  Shade of the Moon.
  Pfeffer, Susan Beth (author).

  Aug. 2013. 304p. Harcourt, hardcover,      $17.99 (9780547813370). Grades 7-10.
REVIEW. First published July 3, 2013 (Booklist Online)

The pampered and weak Jon is not a particularly likable character, but in some ways that intensifies the story, as the moral choices he makes become successively more complicated. Pfeffer’s well-written take on what life might be as it returns to “normal” is sometimes brutal and always depressingly real. — Ilene Cooper
Of course, I don't think of Jon as weak or even all that pampered, and I like him, but then again, he wouldn't exist without me and if I don't like him, who will (don't answer that).
Anyway, I'm pleased the book is "well-written," and since "brutal" and "depressingly real" are terms no one who knows me ever associates me with ("cuddly" and "absurdly optimistic" are more often bandied about), I am very pleased with this review, and hope is the second of many such.
*The rest of the review is pretty much plot synopsis. I didn't leave out a single negative word.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Always Thought Bloodsucking Was The Publisher's Job

The other day, having nothing better to do, I googled my grandfather, Grandfather Rabbi Pfeffer. Much to my delight, I found an entry about him in Orthodox Judaism In America: A Biographical Dictionary And Sourcebook.

Now I knew Grandfather Rabbi Pfeffer was an important rabbi and Talmudic scholar. Once or twice, I've been asked if I were related to him, even though he was dead more than a decade before my birth. But what I hadn't known was that my father, the last of the Pfeffer children to be born in the old country, was actually from Bitchkov*, Transylvania.

My father always said he was born in Hungary. He never said Transylvania.

My brother scoured Wikipedia, and assured me that Transylvania at that particular point in history was in Hungary. But still. You think you know a man, and he ends up coming from Transylvania.
Not to mention that this makes me one quarter Transylvanian. I remain uncertain which quarter, but I do like my hamburgers really rare.

Now if I were into genealogy, as many of my friends and relatives are, I could have found this Transylvania stuff a long time ago. No doubt Grandfather Rabbi Pfeffer is in Who's Who In Bitchkov, or Great Transylvanians I Have Known And Loved.

But while I really understand the appeal of genealogy, I've never been particularly curious about my ancestral geography. Bitchkov, Transylvania, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, it's all the same to me. Neither of my parents ever expressed any interest in returning to their birthplaces, so they don't have much aura of mystery to me.

However, the having nothing better to do is of interest and concern to me. I've been thinking about my life a lot lately, and it's occurred to me that I'm in need of a hobby.

As it happens, I have a lot of interests. I'm always reading articles online about new dinosaurs or ancient burial grounds. But an interest isn't a hobby. An interest is when you read an article. A hobby requires actually doing something. Maybe even leaving the house to do it.

Only I can't think of any hobbies that I really want to spend time (and possibly money) on. So I decided to turn to you and ask if you know of any good hobbies. Maybe one of your suggestions will be perfect for me. Maybe it'll get me thinking about something I've never considered before.

So do me a favor, and tell me about hobbies. Your hobbies, your friends' hobbies, some bizarre hobby you read about once. I'm open to all possibilities, except for those that involve spending a lot of time with the undead!

*My father never met a pun he didn't love, but I don't know how he would have felt about being called a son of a Bitchkov, which is why I'm putting this as a footnote.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Hair Held Up Better Than My Tire

I had a great time at the American Library Association Conference.

You expected anything else?

There were no thunderstorms in either direction on Thursday and the flight was smooth and easy and on time. I took a shuttle bus to the hotel, where my room was waiting for me. I ate the world's most expensive room service hamburger for supper and made phone calls and read and relaxed.

Friday I ate an equally expensive breakfast, then took a shuttle bus with one of the many helpful and really nice Houghton Mifflin Harcourt people. We got to my panel discussion early enough that I could say hello to the librarian son of one of my best friends.

Then I got on the panel. Here we are:

Cory Doctorow, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Marie Lu, Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dressen


After we finished paneling, I convinced Mr. Doctorow and Ms. Lu that they were willing to have lunch with me. We scurried over to the Hyatt Hotel restaurant (nothing like eating local). Mr. Doctorow and Ms. Lu discussed working for Disney, gaming, and fighter piloting. I waited my turn, then regaled them with the story of Mrs. Fitzherbert and George IV, and the exact circumstances of Queen Victoria's conception. Oddly enough, Mr. Doctorow and Ms. Lu left almost immediately thereafter.

I then found a cab and asked the driver to take me to the Art Institute Of Chicago. He refused. It seems that having a parade with over 2 million people in attendance affects which streets can be driven on in Chicago and which cannot. So he left me about a half mile away from the Art Institute and told me to keep walking straight. The Art Institute would be on the right, and there'd be statues of two lions to let me know I'd gotten to the right place.
I hadn't expected the lions to be hockey players, but in Chicago that day, everyone was a hockey player or a librarian. Those were your only options.
The Art Institute is a phenomenal museum, which I would have enjoyed even more if my feet hadn't hurt from having to walk a half mile to get there. But the weather was beautiful and the walk was fun and I saw paperweights and miniature rooms and pictures of naked people and famous Impressionist paintings, and the Art Institute is the kind of museum where you can't possibly see everything and everything you do see is well worth the seeing.
Saturday was my big autographing day. First I went to the conference and walked around looking for free stuff. I mostly limited my free stuff to carrying bags to put the free stuff which I didn't take in. I don't know why I was so carrying bag obsessed, but I brought home about a half dozen of them, none of which I've put away, since I don't exactly know where to put them.
But then came the autographing, which is one of my all time favorite things to do, and which was even more fun than ever before because I got to meet Ing and Nora Durbin and Mr. Cavin. Ing had already begun reading The Shade Of The Moon, so I tested her on where she was in the book, while Mr. Cavin put his hands over his ears so he wouldn't hear any spoilers.
You have no idea how exciting it was for me to meet people who read my blog. You guys are legends to me, and it turns out  at least three of you are actually real.
I autographed for a tad longer than I was supposed to, because I'm prone to chatting with people who tell me they like my books. Also it takes a while to write Accept The Impossible and Susan Beth Pfeffer and June 29, 2013 in books.
But eventually the fabulous people of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pushed me out of there, and I promptly got a cab that took me to the airport. My flight left a little late, but got to Newark on time, there being no thunderstorms to deal with. I carried my suitcase and all the empty bags to my car, and within fifteen minutes of arrival, got a flat tire.
If you ever have a choice between spending three wonderful days in Chicago, meeting authors and librarians and people who read your blog and going to a museum and eating expensive room service meals or sitting in your car at twilight on the side of a highway where everyone is whizzing past you at 70 miles per hour while you wait to be rescued, choose the former. Trust me on that.
But eventually I did get rescued and I drove home safely, where Scooter greeted me by telling me repeatedly how glad he was that I was there.
He wasn't alone. My time in Chicago was wonderful, but I was just as glad to be home as he was to see me!