Thursday, April 24, 2008

You Know You're Tired When You Can't Even Come Up With A Title

I considered Yawn but decided against it.

I'm back from South Portland, ME, where I had a great time, meeting many smart likable independent bookstore owners and managers. Matt Tavares, the illustrator of Lady Liberty A Biography also gave a presentation, which reminded me that no one works harder in children's books than the illustrators. The book is absolutely beautiful (I took a copy when no one was looking), and it was fascinating to hear about his process.

Sadly, I had not brought any of my artwork to get his professional evaluation.

I did bring GPS Thingy, after giving it the winter off. We had a lot of heated discussions on the drive to Maine, but once I got to my hotel room and had a chance to hear its side of the story, things calmed down. It helped me get to and from the hotel several times, as well as getting me back home last night. And since I didn't have to worry about when to make the right turn and when to make the left, I got to think a lot about The World We Live In (aka the third book). I am firmly committed to multiple viewpoints, but beyond that, everything shakes and shifts.

Meanwhile, the dead and the gone has gotten its second official review. This one is from Kirkus, which has a long history of hating my work. So that makes this review all the sweeter:


Seventeen-year-old Alex, the son of a Puerto Rican New York City working-class family, attends college-prep Vincent de Paul on scholarship. An after-school job and chores assigned by his building superintendent father keep Alex focused on a better future, with ambitions of attending an Ivy League school through study, hard work and a little faith. But when his parents fail to return home after the catastrophic environmental events following the moon’s altered gravitational pull, Alex suddenly faces the reality of survival and the obligation to protect his two younger sisters. His moral and religious upbringing is continually put to the test as he finds himself forced to take action that is often gruesome if not unethical—like “body shopping,” to collect objects to barter for food. As in the previous novel, Life as We Knew It (2006), realistically bone-chilling despair and death join with the larger question of how the haves and have-nots of a major metropolitan city will ultimately survive in an increasingly lawless, largely deserted urban wasteland. Incredibly engaging. (Fiction. YA)

Among the many things I like about this review (okay, the thing I like the best is the "Incredibly engaging" part) is that it doesn't spend most of its space going- moon/tsunamis/earthquakes/volcanoes. Most of the Life As We Knew It reviews were litanies of disasters, which didn't leave much space for descriptions of the actual story. But now that LAWKI has been out and about for awhile, all that worldwide bad stuff can be shortcutted. Which is fine by me.

Speaking of LAWKI, although I have yet to see a copy of the paperback in a store anywhere, there have been sightings, and I know of at least four copies that have been sold. Okay, I only know of four copies that have been sold, but it's always possible another one has I just haven't heard about. Maybe not likely, but possible.

I'm off to finish unpacking and begin preparations for a weekend visit from my worldly and sophisticated friends. Or maybe I'll just take a nap. An incredibly engaging nap sounds good right now.


Marci said...

Hmmph! It's gotten so I have to hear about your travels on your blog.

My GPS doesn't talk back but it keeps recalculating the route and trying to make me go in a circle at times. Sometimes I know better than it does. And it doesn't understand that.

Congratulations on the GREAT Kirkus review. That ought to sell a few books!

Take a nap. Your worldly and sophisticated friends will cope.

Bethel said...

I have bought the paperback copy of 'Life As We Knew It' last night and I am almost finished today. It is amazing. So there's that other sale you didn't know about.

I love how real and raw this book is. It's so realistic and gives a harsh reminder of how easily all this that we count on could disappear.

One thing that struck me most in this novel, is one of the entries in which she said was a perfect day.

The electricity had come on for a few hours, the phone had actually rung with news from her father, air conditioning had come on (I'd die or kill someone else if mine disappeared forever.), they'd eaten fresh bread and watched sitcoms.

How much longer can we take all this for granted?

-- another fan and (hopefully) future author

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Marci and welcome Bethel-

I'm always thrilled to hear about people's reactions to LAWKI (especially if they're favorable ones!). When I wrote the book, I loved it so much, I was sure other people would feel a real connection to it. What I didn't realize was I'd get to hear about it via the internet.

I've always loved being a writer, but now I love it a whole lot more.

I went to the Galleria yesterday with my worldly and sophisticated friends (they love going there; it's a regular part of their occasional visits), and while they were buying themselves clothes and the suchlike, I scurried over to the Borders bookstore, and found five copies of paperback LAWKI, on a YA display table. This was very exciting for me, but I intend to take the mature route and not rush to Borders on any sort of regular basis to see if the pile gets smaller.

Maturity R Us.

By the way, Marci babysat my cats while I was in Maine, and did a wonderful job. She is a true friend.

Bethel said...

I always love to hear back from famous people, if only to know that they read what I wrote. :) Thank you for encouraging me by letting me know you heard.

Anonymous said...

That's cool, that you had such a good review, (though im sure The Dead and the Gone deserved it!)
I always wanted to be a writer and thats the thing that always scares me most is getting a bad review. (I dont even like it when my teachers don't like my creative writing work -- though that's yet to happen).
And i have a paperback of LAWKI, which i bought about a month and a half ago. But then i'm not from the U.S...
Oh and i'm curious, do you have ideas for any other survival-type books after your third?

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Bethel and Leah-

I love hearing from people who like LAWKI or anything else I wrote. Or who like my chocolate chip cookies, which happen to be very good (my goddaughter, when she was very young, wrote a report about me for school, in which she suggested that most of my popularity was the result of my chocolate chip cookies).

My books may get bad reviews, but my cookies rarely do!

As far as other survival books go,I still have to figure out the infamous number three. My guess is even if Harcourt publishes it, I'll stop ending the world. It's not like my chocolate chip cookies. After a while, I think people would really get tired of me if I stuck to the sme theme (much as I might enjoy it).