Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Writing Career Is Over

Charlotte The Kitten has taken over the keyboard.

My concern is she's writing her memoirs (or posting spoiler information about B3).
We found each other at the Middletown Humane Society Saturday afternoon, and I promptly brought her home (well, after filling out all the necessary paperwork).
vaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (Charlotte just wrote that).

Charlotte's interests include purring, cat food, sitting on my lap, and biting my right thumb (which may also shorten my writing career). She's seven or eight weeks old, and is a summa cum laude graduate of Adorable Kitten School (although she took most of her course work on line).

She bears a resemblance to Marvin The Martian from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, and Marsha was one of the many names I rejected before settling on Charlotte. Other names included:

Caper (short for Catherine Parr, the last and best of Henry VIII's wives)

Linzie (Phil Linz was one of my favorite New York Yankees, but I was concerned people would think her name was Lindsay, which would have been okay, since John Lindsay was one of my favorite New York City mayors, but it wasn't going to be worth the aggravation spelling it out all the time)

Ruffles (the white hair on her neck looks like an Elizabethan ruff)

Luna (my friend Pam's clever suggestion)

Daphne (because I like Daffy Duck)

Lawki (in honor of Life As We Knew It, in case you couldn't guess)

Twili (in honor of This World We Live In)

Jane (my friend Geri suggested that one, but I'd already decided on Charlotte, which is pretty funny, since my late cat Emily was named for Emily Bronte, whose middle name was Jane)

I also researched names of moon goddesses, but they were too complicated. Actually, I'd been hoping Daphne was a moon goddess, but she was nothing more than a nymph. No insult intended to any nymphs who might be reading this.

Charlotte and I are in obviously in those first magical infatuated moments, and I'm sure I'll come to my senses eventually (or when she starts rewriting B3 even while I'm working on it). Meantime, I'm putting off starting B3 (originally scheduled for Monday) until Wednesday, but that's because I now have a couple of things planned to do with and for my mother, Monday and Tuesday.

Besides, who wants to end the world when they have a kitten on their lap!

ETA to add a couple of pictures of Charlotte on the printer next to the computer screen showing the blog entry about herself.
Also, when I was talking to my incredibly tolerant friend Christy, I remembered some more names I'd considered:
Mrs. Pynchon (Lou Grant's boss and a great name for a cat, but not a kitten)
Miss Georgina (from Upstairs Downstairs, and a little too much of a mouthful)
Fleur (from The Forstye Saga, and definitely under consideration for about ten minutes)
Miss Lonelyhearts (a fabulous name for a cat, if you're feeling depressed)

Friday, November 28, 2008

And In Honor Of My 201st Post, I've Learned A New Skill

My sister-in-law taught my brother and my brother taught me
while we were at my mother's for Thanksgiving Peking Duck. I can now make links look cool and cute.
In case you have any doubts- look at the infamous right side of the blog. Look at all those neat, seductive links.

But I'll throw another one here right now, to prove to you (and me) that I can still remember how to do it. The New York Times had a depressing article about my publisher. I'm choosing not to worry, even though I have yet to see my contract for B3. I intend to start writing on Monday and hope for the best.

My plan is to write in the mornings, lead a normal (or what passes for normal) life in the afternoons, and exercise in the early evening. Usually I exercise in the mornings, but I like the idea of waking up and going to work. I haven't figured out yet whether I'll write for a set time or aim for a set number of pages. It probably doesn't matter. The guiding principle is not to go berserk, write for eight or ten hours daily, and get nothing else done. There is no need for obsession. None. Nary a need. Totally unneeded.

Of course for the first two weeks, the schedule is going to be at least partially ignored. I'm going to have dinner with my friend Cynthia on Tuesday, and with Todd either Wednesday or Thursday. So most likely I'll have to exercise in the morning. Then the following week I'm going to Illinois for two days of school visits.

I haven't even begun and already I'm off schedule. Le sigh. I also remembered today that after I finish reading American Eve by Paula Uruburu, I need to read Susan Cornish by Rebecca Caudill. Life As We Knew It is nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Award in Illinois, and I feel a strong obligation to read a book by her before going there.

I happen to own Susan Cornish because I collect books with Susan or Sue in the titles. Marci tends to find them for me. Susan Cornish will be the first of the books I'll actually have read. It actually looks pretty interesting.

But no matter how talented Rebecca Caudill was, I bet she couldn't make links look lovely!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Honor Of My 200th Post, I've Redecorated

Happy Upcoming Thanksgiving! And for those of you in retail, may all your Fridays be black.

I've done a speck of redecorating. I moved the list of places Life Has We Knew It has been nominated for awards in over to thirdmoonbook. My guess is there won't be a conflict between those of you who don't want to be spoilered and those of you who obsessively read the list. Frankly, I didn't want to have to spend the next few months editing out states and countries where LAWKI didn't win, so I listed everyplace, even those where LAWKI has already lost, for my own convenience.

I also moved over there what the critics were saying about the dead and the gone and added some juicy quotes from John Green's NY Times review over here.

Having cleared up all that space, I added links to six (count them six) blog entries I wrote over a year ago on writing and editing, just in case any of you are interested.

I also changed the look of the blog, to make the links on the right a little easier to see.

I'm off to find the John Green review (not that I'll have to look that hard to find it) and maybe play with colors.

Once again, happy Thanksgiving. And please know how thankful I am to all of you.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Eyes Of Texas Are No Longer Upon Me

My editor told me to bring my camera to NCTE. So I did.

Friday morning, I received a phone call telling me to go to the lobby and wait for a lift to take me to an 8 AM breakfast. That's what I sat on, while I waited. I assume the phone call was a clever scheme by jewel thieves to get me out of my room, so they could break in and steal my jewels. Alas for them and me, I didn't have any.

I went back to my room and ordered a room service breakfast, which I ate alone, considerably after 8 AM. That's what my tray looked like after I was finished.

Here's Mary Pearson, author of the extremely popular The Adoration Of Jenna Fox. We were on a panel together. Actually, we were the panel, since the other two panelist wannabes decided they didn't wanna. I bet they're sorry now, not getting to have their pictures on my blog.

And this is Edward T. Sullivan, who wrote the Harcourt Life As We Knew It discussion guide. It was an unexpected pleasure to meet him.

As you can see, the audience for the panel was large, enthusiastic, and mostly grey.

In between autographing (I forgot to take pictures) and the dinner Harcourt and Listening Library hosted in my honor, I went for a stroll on the River Walk. I saw tourists and ducks. Those are ducks.

The dinner was great, and I would show you all of us enjoying ourselves, but I was having too good a time to take pictures. This is the table, after we were finished eating and talking. Notice that none of us spilled anything worth mentioning.
My editor will probably never ask me to bring my camera anywhere ever again!
PS- I forgot to write the two good things I learned while I was at NCTE.
The first is Life As We Knew It the paperback is in its fourth printing. I have no idea what the print sizes are, but fourth is definitely better than third.
Secondly, B3 is officially in the Harcourt computer system for a Spring 2010 publication. That had been my hope, especially with the dead and the gone scheduled for Winter 2010 (January, I think). But now I know it's official.
Of course that means I actually have to write it, but that's a whole other issue!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Solution For The Nickname And Spoilering Problems

Don't you love one stop shopping?

After a great deal of thought, both on the exercycle and the treadmill, I've decided the blog nickname for This World We Live In is B3. That stands for Book 3, since it will, after all, be the third book of the trilogy. B3 is easy to type and will always be in good taste, even if by some chance This World We Live In changes its title between now and when it's actually published.

I tried to figure out spoiler tags, but Blogspot (which I'm very fond of) doesn't seem to want to make them easy. So here's the obvious solution to the spoilering problem.

Anytime I write a blog entry that is spoileresque, that discusses small or large plot details of B3, I'll put B3 in the title of the entry.

Let's say I write an entry about how I'm the greatest writer ever because I solved a particularly tricky plot problem with B3. If the entry is merely about my fabulous wonderfulness, then the title will be: I'm The Greatest Writer Ever. But if in the entry I explain what the problem was and how I solved it, then the title will be: I'm The Greatest Writer Ever B3.

If you see a B3 in the title, and you don't want to be spoilered, then say HA! and go elsewhere (the saying HA! is required).

While it is possible that in a B3 entry, I'll also discuss other things happening in my life, my life isn't so interesting that if you skip an entry or two, your life will suffer. Besides you'll have the thrill of saying HA! And if something interesting really does happen (like winning that Nobel Prize For Literature I've been eagerly anticipating), I'll be sufficiently thrilled that I'll forget about work and write the entire entry on whatever it was that happened. Not that anything is likely to happen. Except maybe a kitten (I really want a kitten).

I am now going to put a little note on the right side of the page (where, I'm sure you noticed, I added South Dakota to the list of states where Life As We Knew It is nominated for a young readers award)explaining about the B3 system.

You may now go and practice your HA!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm An Old Meany May Be The Real Reason

I had a wonderful time on Friday, visiting the middle and high school students in Pierce City, Missouri. Mrs. Corbett was in charge, and she did a great job.

There was any number of things that made my trip special. Four of the high school students enacted a scene from the dead and the gone (the girl who played Bri coughed so convincingly that even I worried about her health). There was an extraordinary box of every kind of brownie you might ever dream of waiting for me at the hotel. Some of the students prepared a complete and sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner for lunch on Friday. And I was given a Pierce City High School Book Club tee shirt.

The students asked excellent questions, not a bad one in the bunch. One of the classes of middle school students was particularly interested in why I did various things in Life As We Knew It. Why did Megan die? Why did Mrs. Nesbitt die? Why did Peter die?

You would think that since I got 10 out of 10 answers correct on the internet LAWKI quiz, and since I spent the time on the flight to Springfield, MO rereading LAWKI in preparation for writing the third book (still in need of a nickname), I would know why all those characters died. But I had to think about it. Megan was so that someone Miranda's age would die. Mrs. Nesbitt died because of her age; it just made sense that she would.

But as best I could figure out, Peter died simply because he'd served his purpose. He brought news of the outside world to Miranda and her family. The news was always bad, but at least it was a connection. And I didn't want him around to provide medical assistance when Miranda's family needed it the most.

I like Peter. What a shame he turned out to be a plot device.

I really liked LAWKI as I reread it. I'd still change the first and last sentences if I could, but I'd pretty much keep the rest as is. It's funny the way things date unexpectedly. Since Mom expressed her distaste for Fox News, most likely she'd approve of the incoming president and not call him an evil jerk (which turns out to be such a Sarah Palin thing to say).

There wasn't much that surprised me as I read (it's been almost two years since I really looked at LAWKI, but I used to reread it all the time, so I know it pretty well). The parts about Horton the cat made me sad though. There was one throwaway bit of business about Horton sniffing Miranda's face to confirm it really was her that almost got me crying. Emily my cat used to do that.

I want a cat so much it hurts. But I can't figure out if I want a cat or if I just miss Alexander and Emily. Cats have their own personalities, and even if I get one, it will be different from them.

No matter what, I won't even think about getting a cat before next week, because this week I go to Texas. What remain of my brain cells are engaged in trying to figure out what clothes to take. I'll be doing a school visit on Thursday, then NCTE on Friday- a panel discussion and autographing, followed by a small, very high class, dinner in my honor, cohosted by Harcourt and Random House (the latter being the publishers of the LAWKI/d&g audiobooks). In addition, it's supposed to be 37 degrees in New York on Wednesday, and 70 degrees in Texas on Thursday.

Not that I want it to be 37 degrees in Texas. But 70 in New York might make things easier.

So that's where things are right now. The next couple of days will be devoted to running errands, packing and repacking. Life as I know it is complex indeed!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Insomnia Has Its Purposes

In lieu of falling asleep last night, I created a possible new character for This World We Live In. I've just written up my thoughts on the character as a second blog entry over at thirdmoonbook. So if you're interested, use the link on the right to find out what cost me over two hours sleep. Scroll to the bottom of the post where it says Newer Post and press that magic button.

I apologize for continuing to sound heartless and insensitive, but remember, no comments about the work in progress there, here, or in emails to me. Please.

I don't see why I can't be equally creative at 2 in the afternoon, but I had noticed I wasn't thinking about the third book nearly as much as I would have thought I'd be at this point. Instead, when I vacuumed yesterday, I pondered the reconstruction of the Republican Party, a fascinating topic, but not one that will leave me prepared to start writing Dec. 1.

While I'm chatting away, let me announce that I got an official congratulatory email from the OneBookNewJersey people, saying that Life As We Knew It won as the teenage selection in a landslide. I emailed back to confess that I'd voted once myself, even though I live in New York, so if the landslide consisted of one vote, they might want a recount.

Also my brother called to say people at his law office found the New York Times review of the dead and the gone all by themselves. Clearly a high class law firm.

I need to do a little more tidying over at the right side of the blog (the poll results are now gone, but I would like to put in something about LAWKI's landslide victory), but most of today will be devoted to preparing for my trip to Missouri tomorrow. I still don't know what I'm going to wear on Friday when I make my school visit. I'll be rereading LAWKI on the flight, taking care to hold it upright so everyone at Newark Airport can be tempted by its cover to run out and buy a copy. I learned that trick from all other New York Times best selling authors, except maybe a few who were dead. The dead ones had other tricks to teach me.

ETA: It turns out I like the thirdmoonbook blog as a way of writing down thoughts as quickly as I can, so the second entry now had an additional bunch of stuff added to it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Only Thing Spoilered Is The Food I Threw Out

Let me start with the most important thing. My beloved is having its semi-annual sale of dvds. In honor of the pathetic economy, this time they're taking 25% off. Just type in the word DEAL when it asks for the promotional code. The sale ends sometime before Thanksgiving. Here's the link to the dvd page:

A friend of mine is especially interested in the Howdy Doody collection, but I recommend the MGM dvds, each now under five bucks.

Now onto my favorite topic, me. I was Gawkered. Or at least the Times review of the dead and the gone was Gawkered:

I'm delighted to report there is now a Life As We Knew It quiz. I'm even more delighted to report I got 100% (there are a couple of trick questions that almost got me):

As you know, because I've been kvetching about it for weeks, I cleaned my apartment. Don't believe me? I got visuals to prove it.

I didn't turn my refrigerator sideways. I just don't know how to get the picture to turn upright. Oh, the little white gift box towards the back of the second shelf? It holds a piece of candle wax that fell off one of my Sabbath candlesticks, that looks exactly like Topo Gigio. At some point I'll sell it on ebay and make enough money to retire in style.

Another thing I don't seem to know how to do is get pictures previously posted to move over to this entry, so here's a link to the one that had pictures of my den, so you can really be impressed with how neat and tidy things are now:

It's probably best I don't do this blogging thing for a living!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Here's For Having One's Cake And Eating It Also

The polls have closed, the recounts are underway, and 53% of you voted that you want me to hold nothing back about the upcoming third book. Of course that leaves 47% who would prefer at least some discretion on my part.

I admit I'm surprised that so many people voted (thank you, all 77 of you) and that there was a majority choice.

For the past week, I've given a lot of thought to how to handle the discussing/non-discussing of the book, and I came up with a solution, which will please me, if no one else.

I created a new blog. As of the moment, there is one entry, which is a synopsis of where the third book is at this point in my brain. Please keep in mind, I haven't begun to write it, and things will change many times before the book sees print, hopefully in the spring of 2010. Even the title has changed a few times, going from The World I Live In, to This World I Live In, to This World We Live In.

Which reminds me. Before I give you the link and all that, I need a nickname for the book. My editor came up with LAWKI for Life As We Knew It, and you decided on d&g for the dead and the gone. This World We Live In could be called TWWLI, but you got to admit it lacks magic.

Where was I? Oh yeah, blogging. What I'm going to do is blog about how the writing is going, no doubt describing various parts of the plot, right here. Then I'll move the entries over to the other blog, but this is my primary blog, and writing this book will be my primary activity for the next few months. So there are going to be many spoilers here. But if you don't want to know everything, you won't have to.

Now here's the other important thing. I don't want to know what you think about the synopsis. Maybe you'll like it or maybe you won't, but I'm a lot better off if I don't know. Lets say for the sake of argument there are 4 billion people on earth. If 4 billion people minus one should post comments saying the book is potentially the most brilliant thing ever written, I'll obsess over that minus one person. I'm going to be a lot happier if I can simply imagine everybody adores it, and not have to worry that maybe someone out there doesn't.

I've set the alternative blog up so comments can't be left (I hope; at least that was my intention). But I don't want you leaving comments, not positive, negative, or neutral, here. None. Comment on how clever I am to have come up with a way that people who wish to know all, can, and those who don't, can avoid much of it. Comment (please) on potential nicknames. But no praise, criticism, or suggestions on This World We Live In. If I want them, I'll ask for them, and most likely I will, since I'm never shy about asking you for help. But this is the most vulnerable time for me and I need you to be kind and let me make my mistakes on my own.

Boy, I talk a lot.

Here's the link. I hope you enjoy it (just don't tell me!):

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We Interrupt The Election For The Following Report

About a month ago, April Henry (, author of Shock Point and Learning to Fly, was kind enough to email me to say she'd heard that John Green (, author of An Abundance of Katherines and Looking for Alaska, would be reviewing the dead and the gone, along with The Hunger Games, for the New York Times Sunday Book Review section.

I didn't want to say anything about it until I knew for sure that there really would be a review and that it really would be favorable. A week or so ago, I found out there really would be a review (to be published Nov. 9), and today I found out it really would be favorable.

Because of perfectly reasonable copyright restraints, I can't quote the entire section about d&g (we have to save something for the Times, after all). But here are some lovely quotes (I'm going to leave out the quibbly part, but it precedes the "But" in the review, in case you couldn't guess):

What makes “The Dead and the Gone” so riveting is its steadfast resistance to traditional ideas of hope in children’s books—which is to say this is a dark and scary novel... Pfeffer subtly explores the complexity of believing in an omnipotent God in the wake of an event that, if it could have been prevented, surely would have been... But the story’s climax and resolution feel achingly right. Pfeffer subverts all our expectations of how redemption works in teenage fiction, as Alex learns to live, and have faith, in a world where radical unfairness is the norm.

What a good day it has been (at least so far!).