Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Piece Of News That Makes Me Very Happy

I am absolutely delighted to report that Emily Bauer who did such a wonderful job reading Life As We Knew It is the reader for the Listening Library version of This World We Live In.

I'm so happy about this I'm going to boldface her name.

I've been really eager to hear it, and now I'm even more impatient. I know she's going to do a great great job with Miranda and all the other characters.

Yay for Emily Bauer! Yay for Listening Library! Double Triple Yay for my great good fortune!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Nice Piece Of News To End The Old Year With

I know 2009 has been a very difficult year for most of America, but for me it's been pretty wonderful.

As penance, I spent most of yesterday doing tedious but necessary jobs. Post office/motor vehicle/bank/supermarket to use up about to expire coupons. And that was just before lunch. In the afternoon I went to the Village of Goshen town hall to renew my mother's handicap parking permit, only to discover her paperwork was at the Town of Goshen town hall. Lucky for me, the Village and the Town both have very nice people working there, and the necessary papers were faxed over and the permit renewed for another five years, at which point my mother will be 103.

I also made a number of boring phone calls yesterday to let various businesses know my charge card expiration date had changed, and I found out what to do about the dvd of The Dead I'd bought in November. The Dead, which is one of my favorite movies ever, is 83 minutes long, but the dvd was only 73 minutes long. Sunday's New York Times reviewed the dvd, and while I didn't much care for the review, it did say the manufacturer of the dvd had learned of its mistake, and had reissued it with the missing 10 minutes and here was the phone number to call. Which I did Monday, along with all those other phone calls and tedious errands.

If doing boring jobs qualifies one for sainthood, I should be polishing my halo.

Last night, as a reward for getting so many things accomplished with a minimum of whining, I bopped around the Google listings of Pfeffer "Life As We Knew It" . And it was a good thing I bopped, because I discovered that the state of Idaho has named Life As We Knew It as their 2010 Idaho Kids Read The Same Book teen selection.

Naturally, I am thrilled about this. But I waited until this morning to tell my mother. I figured she'd had excitement enough yesterday learning her handicap permit had been renewed!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What I Read In 2009

Scooter's only been reading for a couple of months now (and already he's picked up that nasty habit of licking a page before turning it), but I've been reading for a whole lot longer.

This year I kept a list of the books I'd read, something I hadn't done for decades. I don't remember what my reasoning was (maybe that I'd read more if I wrote everything down), but regardless of motivation, this was one resolution I stuck with (what a shame that eating too much and wasting time weren't resolutions, since I had great success with both).

There's a chance, of course, that I might read another book between today and Friday, but on the assumption that I won't or that it won't matter if I do, here is the Susan Beth Pfeffer 2009 Reading List.

(n) stands for non-fiction, (f) for fiction (I bet you would have figured that out all on your own). A handful of books on the list are rereads.

Oh- I did reread This World We Live In, but it's not on the list. I had intended to reread Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone first, but I'd gotten so impatient waiting for the ARC that when it finally came, I skipped straight to it. At some point in 2010 I'll reread all three in combination.

Another thing- this is not the most impressive of lists, in quality or quantity. Then again, it's not like you have any illusions about me.

Without further ado (unless I can think of something to ado over):

1 The Great Pretenders- Jon Bonderson (n)
2 Bone By Bone- Carol O'Connell (f)
3 The Associate- John Grisham (f)
4 Murder of a Medici Princess- Caroline P. Murphy (n)
5 Sins of the Fathers- Susan Howatch (f)
6 The Great Crown Jewel Robbery of 1303- Paul Doherty (n)
7 The Water's Lovely- Ruth Rendell (f)
8 Society's Scandals- Bridgeman and Drury (ed) (n)
9 Devil's Gate- David Roberts (n)
10 Nathan Hale- M. William Phelps (n)
11 Testimony- Anita Shreve (f)
12 Mistress of the Monarchy- Alison Weir (n)
13 Cashelmara- Susan Howatch (f)
14 The Killings on Jubilee Terrace- Robert Barnard (f)
15 Emily Post- Laura Claridge (n)
16 Pauline Bonaparte- Flora Fraser (n)
17 The Longest Second- Bill S. Ballinger (f)
18 Vanished Smile-Mysterious Theft Of Mona Lisa- Scotti (n)
19 The Murrow Boys- Stanley Cloud and Lynne Olson (n)
20 Bracknell's Law- Wallace Hildick (f)
21 Thunderstruck- Erik Larsen (n)
22 The Deceivers- Egon Larsen (n)
23 The Wrong Mother- Sophie Hannah (f)
24 Devil In The White City- Erik Larsen (n)
25 Children's Party- Arthur Lewis (f)
26 What The Dog Saw- Malcolm Gladwell (n)
27 The Sisters Who Would Be Queen- Leondra deLisle (n)
28 Into The Wild Nerd Yonder- Julie Halpern (f)
29 Hound Dog- Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (n)
30 Keeping Faith- Jodi Picoult (f)
31 Edge Of Evil- J. A. Jance (f)
32 The Hour I First Believed- Wally Lamb (f)
33 This Republic Of Suffering- Drew Gilpin Faust (n)

The most interesting of the books for me is Children's Party. This is a very short novel from the 1970s that I'd read a very long time ago (probably in the 1970s). It stuck with me (or at least the premise did), and I was thrilled to stumble upon it at The Friends Of Middletown Thrall Library Used Bookstore, where I used to volunteer (along with Marci and Carol, who still do). I took it home and kept planning on rereading it, until finally on one of my fall trips, I threw it into my pocketbook for an easy airplane read.

It's about a man who overhears the sounds of a children's party in a place where there don't seem to be any children. He takes it upon himself to solve the mystery, and in doing so, learns about people he'd known once and what had become of them. It's kind of a realistic gothic psychological traveling ghost story of its time, and it remains an effective and haunting (and perfect for airplane) read.

My goal for 2010 is to read 36 books, since that would average out to 3 books a month, which sounds better than 2.75 books a month. Of course I also want to read less fiction, since it almost invariably disappoints me, but fiction does read a lot faster than non-fiction, so I don't know.

Once Scooter finishes reading How To Take Over Teh World, by Professor Happycat and, he's planning to start Dickens. He's particularly interested in A Tail Of Two Cities!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Because Nothing Says Christmas Like The Dead And The Gone

I'm happy to report that Amazon has the paperback of the dead and the gone available for purchase and shippping.

I assume if it does, other places do too.

Scooter will be very excited!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The World Comes To An End In Two Languages

Things have been pretty exciting around here.

For starters, I got my copies of the dead and the gone in paperback.

As you can see, it is quite lovely.

I am concerned though that I may have to get Scooter reading glasses.

I also got an email yesterday from my agent's assistant about the German edition of Life As We Knew It.

Carlsen, the publisher, is doing a lot of promotion. Here's a link to the website. I was particularly excited to see Marci was given full credit for the picture she took of me (I had lunch today with Marci and my mother, and Marci was pleased with the credit also).

Carlsen also ran a two page ad plus a cover ad for it in a German bookselling magazine.

I got Google to translate "bestsellen" for me fourteen times, and it never came out as "best selling." I even had Google translate "best selling" into German on a what the hey basis, but it didn't come out "bestsellen."

Then again, what does Google know. In the international language of Susan, there's only one meaning to Bestellen!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New And Improved

I have a new computer and a new monitor, and since I got a new printer within the past month or so, you could say I have a new printer as well. So far, everything is working (well, I haven't tried the new printer with the new computer yet, because there's only so much so far I can take).

My mother got both her flu shots yesterday. I haven't gotten either of mine yet, but first things first.

Scooter threw up all over the apartment yesterday. I mean all over. I've had cats for decades, and cats throw up (it's not one of their more endearing behaviors, but it's part of the package), and I've never seen a cat throw up in so many different places. There are at least a dozen spots (all on carpet, of course). I dampened each spot with water and poured salt on them, and at some point I'll vacuum all the salt piles and see if the carpet has gotten clean. In reality, the carpet is filthy anyway, and I'd ask my landlord for new carpet except that would mean moving all the furniture off the carpet, and that seems entirely too daunting. Of course now that I have a cat that throws up everywhere, there's no point asking for new carpet.

Maybe I should ask the landlord for a new vacuum cleaner instead.

In the midst of all this chaos, my UK publisher sent me the designs for their upcoming reissues of Life As We Knew It and The Dead And The Gone.

I think the d&g cover is particularly striking.

Elaine Marie Alphin has written a lovely blog entry about reading and writing and friendships (and me).

It's been a while since I posted a Scooter video, but I love this one from a few days ago of him and his food bowl.

All right. I'm off to vacuum salt piles and light Chanukah candles and watch Adam Lambert.

Two out of three ain't bad!

Friday, December 11, 2009

You Have A Far Better Chance Of Winning Than I Do

As you can see, Scooter and I are hard at work in preparation for the holidays, but that didn't keep Google from letting me know about a couple of wonderful things.

First of all, the dead and the gone has been nominated for its first statewide young reader award. I'm delighted to report that it's my state, New York, that has put it on its teen 3 Apples Book Award list. I'm always thrilled to be nominated, and I'm even more thrilled when I win, but with this one, the nomination will have to be thrill enough. I'm just glad I'm not going against The Cat In The Hat.

Secondly, the Book Butterfly blog has a contest with two ARCs of This World We Live In as the prizes. There's a nice long interview with me there (I do like talking about myself) as well.

Scooter's already gotten his Chanukah present, his very first catnip toy. My Chanukah presents are my career, Scooter, and all of you.

We're both very happy and extremely grateful!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ah, But I Love Butterfingers Also

And Kit Kat bars. And Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. And Nestle's Crunch.

I spent part of yesterday answering seven interview questions for read-it-now. Question number five was what is my favorite candy.

As you can see, I had many options. None of which I have in the house. I've spent the past six months or so eating entirely too many sweets and, perhaps not coincidentally, I've gained a few pounds. Worse still, I see my doctor in a week for a checkup, and the odds are her scale will notice the weight gain. Whether my doctor will or not is a whole other question, but if she does, I know what I'm going to tell her, which is I'd been eating foolishly and I don't like gaining weight and therefore I am eating considerably less foolishly now.

Maybe she won't notice.

One thing you might not have noticed is I'm keeping track of the blog reviews of This World We Live In, and putting in the number over in its own little link area on the right side of the blog. It's up to six now, and if you follow the link, it'll take you to thirdmoonbook, and you can link to any or all of the reviews there.

I'd been holding a few copies of the TW ARC in reserve, and today I pulled five names out of the Bolivian hat and emailed the people to let them know. It's not looking too promising for more copies, but Harcourt knows I want them, and maybe a few will show up.

Chanukah starts Friday evening and I anticipate it being a fairly stressful holiday. Those of you who've been reading this blog since the getgo may recall that my late cat Alexander caught on fire from a menorah candle. Scooter has been quite intrigued by my Sabbath candles, and I'm concerned the menorah candles will be irresistible to him. They burn pretty fast, but so does cat hair. Chanukah lasts eight days, starting with two candles, and then adding one a day, so Scooter is going to have lots of opportunities to play Joan Of Arc (I figured I would cleverly switch religions).

For anyone out there who celebrates Chanukah, have a happy one, and I hope your pets don't catch fire!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Bet Tudor Family Reunions Were A Real Delight

I spent a delightful Sunday reading Into The Wild Nerd Yonder, by Julie Halpern. I won't tell you what it's about (because that would be spoilering), but its plot includes Dungeons and Dragons, sewing and sex. Not necessarily in that order.

Saturday, I finished reading The Sisters Who Would Be Queen. Poor Lady Jane Grey had her head chopped off (well you knew that), but oy, what happened to her sisters was almost as bad. Both of them fell in love and got married without that nasty old Queen Elizabeth's permission, and that nasty old Queen Elizabeth (who saw to it that her cousin Mary Queen Of Scots got her head chopped off) imprisoned them and their husbands, who they never got to see again (well, Katherine Grey spent one more night with her husband while she was in prison and got pregnant a second time and then never saw him again).

I'd explain to you how the Grey girls were related to Queen Elizabeth but I couldn't quite follow it myself. But they were, and I bet they wished they weren't. It's like their whole lives were Dungeons and Dragons.

I went to the library on Monday to return The Sisters Who Would Be Queen and resisted taking out a biography of Lady Jane Grey and one of Mary Queen Of Scots. Instead I took out Hound Dog by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, which is definitely my kind of book (big print, huge margins and lots of photographs, and not the kind that are all on shiny pages that don't count, but are interspersed with the big print and huge margins).

Scooter and I have the same taste in books- lots of pictures and very little text.

My computer is having emotional issues. For reasons best known to it, it refuses to go on until 10 AM. If it didn't go on at all, I'd accept that it doesn't work and buy a new one, which I'm prepared, albeit reluctantly, to do. But then, just when I've decided it's stopped working forever, it turns on. I have no idea why this computer, or any other, would want to be a late sleeper, an option I don't have, since Scooter wakes me up at 6:55 every morning to play Purr On The Neck.

Which reminds me. I had a very long weird dream last night, which I'll spare you most of the details of, but at one point people were shooting at Canadian geese in a suburban area, and the geese got very upset and flew into a house and demolished it with their wings. The house collapsed from goose attack. This may be the single best visual I've ever had in a dream, and I bet if Alfred Hitchcock were still alive, he'd steal it from me.

For those who are interested, a list which would not include Queen Elizabeth 1 or 2, Jane, Katherine and Mary Grey, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, or Alfred Hitchcock, I set up a section over at thirdmoonbook, where there are links to blog reviews of This World We Live In. Anyone who wishes to make comments about same is invited to, if they do so there and not here. All this is in deference to those who wish to remain spoiler free and yet are willing to read about what I'm reading and the suchlike.

In the beginning of my career, my books would get reviewed in newspapers and magazines right around the time the book was published, and then as my career went on and on, there were fewer magazines and newspapers to review the books, but what there was reviewed it right around the time the book was published. But now the reviews start months before the book is published and continue, as best I can tell, forever. I still see blog reviews of Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone. There'll probably be more of the latter in the months to come, with its paperback publication in January. And I still get a little nervous whenever I see a review, although not as nervous as I will be the next time I see a gaggle of Canadian geese!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Now Comes Naptime

Granted, for Scooter, naptime is pretty much anytime. And I'm not about to take a nap, because I have a library book (The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leandra de Lisle) due back on Monday, and I hate having overdue books (Lady Jane Grey is going to get married pretty soon, and not to that nice young King Edward either). So, instead of napping, I'm going to be reading.

But I'm through with business travel (or the road, as I call it). My last appearance was last night. My friend Cynthia accompanied me to Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Teaneck, New Jersey, where I spoke at the Decemberfest meeting of the Knightscapes Literary Magazine. I told them about how I got my first book published, a story I'll tell all of you someday when I have the energy.

In between trips to Teaneck, I've been going to the post office to send off ARCs of This World We Live In to the Bolivian hat selectees. I'm still waiting to get names and addresses from a handful of people, so there'll be another trip there next week (and I'm still begging Harcourt for more copies to send to you).

But basically I'm looking at a stretch of four months with next to no obligations. I'm not working on anything, my mother has no doctor appointments until the end of March, and I don't travel anywhere, for fun or business, until mid April. Starting this weekend, I'll be devoting all my time and energy to football, figure skating, and fandom.

Plus reading and naps. And playing with Scooter. And writing blog entries. And answering emails. And whatever else comes along.

But now it's time to read about the Grey Sisters, Lady Jane and Mary and Katherine, who I keep calling Agnes. I'm so tired, I'm getting the Tudors and the Brontes mixed up!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Look Who's Reading!

The ARCs for This World We Live In have arrived!

There are 180 names in the Bolivian hat. Scooter and I will be picking 30 at random, which gives each of you a one in six chance of getting an ARC.

I'll be sending emails to the names that get selected to ask for your mailing address. My plan is to do that this afternoon, and start making the trips to the post office tomorrow.

My guess is I'll have a few more ARCs to distribute over the next month or so. I'm holding a handful in reserve, and maybe Harcourt will send me some more, if they have any leftovers. So even if you don't hear from me today, you may still end up with an ARC.

Should you get one, there are only two rules. They're not for sale, and they're not to be put into a library system, in lieu of an actual copy of the book. Beyond that, they're yours to do with as you wish.

After you've read the ARC (assuming you do read it and don't just use it for a doorstop), if you want to comment about it, please do so at thirdmoonbook. I'll be setting up a comment zone there. Should you forget and comment here, I'll move your comment over and erase it here.

You can also write about it on your blog or at anywhere that might be interested. I'll trust your discretion not to give away the fabulous ending (or anything else fabulous you bump into along the way).

I want to thank all of you for your interest in This World We Live In and for your patience. I am extremely grateful for both.

Okay. If I can get Scooter away from his book, we'll start on the next step of this process. Bolivian Hat, here we come!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The ARCs Are (Gonna Be) In The Mail!

I started Tuesday morning off with a well placed whine/kvetch email, and was told that the carton of ARCs for This World We Live In will be sent off today.

Today is not as good as last week or two weeks ago or October, but hey, it's better than next year.

Meantime, Scooter has decided to use the Whole Language approach for learning how to read. He's selected the book of interest to him, probably because it has lots of pictures of his distant relatives.

I'll let you know when he starts reading it or when the ARCs arrive, whichever comes first!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Times They Are (Not) A-Changin'

I am pleased to report The Times of Trenton, New Jersey had an editorial about the Allentown High School "One School One Book" program, where they are reading Life As We Knew It.

I'm not, however, pleased to report that I've heard (from a genuine eyewitness) that there were no ARCs of This World We Live In available at NCTE last week. Apparently they didn't get printed in time.

I know the ARCs exist (at least in very small numbers) because I was sent a sixth one. A good thing too, since Joyce took ARC #5 home with her. My mother will get the newly arrived #6.

But the Bolivian hat is getting more and more crowded, and I'm getting more and more impatient. I do understand that this endless wait for the ARCs is more irritating to me than to you, but nonetheless I've put up a poll on the subject.

Feel free to editorialize!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rumor Has It The ARCs Are In The Mail

My editor emailed me about something else and said they were.

At this point, I'll believe it when I see it.

Of course, what I should be seeing is the dust cloth in my hand. I haven't begun to clean the apartment, and Joyce and Lew will be here in less than 24 hours (some of which, Scooter permitting, I intend to sleep through).

If the ARCs show up tonight along with my UPS person, I'll scurry back here and make the official announcement. Were I you, I wouldn't hold my breath. Then again, you're probably not holding your breath waiting for me to start dusting, and I absolutely swear as soon as I publish this post, the cleaning will begin.

Or maybe in a couple of minutes. But it will begin. And end. Really it will.

But before I begin the cleaning, let me wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and tell you, in case you didn't know, that I am thankful for each and every one of you. There's no way I can express how grateful I am to you for the interest and the caring you've shared with me over the past few years.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This will be the world's quickest ARC report since I'm running off to NYC in a minute to see my goddaughter who's there on vacation.

I used the Star-Ledger article as an opening to whine and kvetch about the lack of ARCs in my life.

The very nice Harcourt person who responded said she'd ask another very nice Harcourt person what was happening with them.

And that is the beginning, middle and end of the report.

In case I don't have anything more fascinating to tell you between today and Thursday, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. My friends Joyce and Lew are coming up and we're grabbing my mother and taking her out for a fancy restaurant Thanksgiving luncheon.

Food, family, friends and no aggravation. I hope your holiday is as wonderful as mine promises to be!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Time Consuming Being Semi-Famous

It's probably even more time consuming being rich and semi-famous, but that's not likely in my lifetime.

As you know, Google and I have an intimate relationship, but sometimes it forgets to tell me things. This morning, for reasons I will never fathom, I decided to check Google News for mentions of me, and by golly, there was one.

Fresh off the pages of the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, an article about Allentown High School using Life As We Knew It for their One School One Book.

Ordinarily, such a discovery would be exciting, but not necessarily time consuming. Only I live just close enough to Newark that I could buy actual copies of the Star-Ledger, if I was willing to devote two to three hours to the search.

Of course I was willing. I ate breakfast, hopped in my car, and drove to the glorious Garden State. I found the Star-Ledgers in the fifth place I stopped at (let's hear it for ShopRite. Hip hip hooray!). I bought three, one for me, one for my mother, and one for Harcourt, just in case they'd like one.

I now know of five states that have schools that have used LAWKI for One School One Book, and yes, I can name them- New Jersey, Florida, Texas, California, and Massachusetts. It's a good thing not all of them have had newspaper articles about their schools. I'd hate to drive to California on a whim.

If you're in the mood, read all the nasty comments (and the one nice one) that follow the article. My favorite is Comment #10, that refers to Life As We Knew It as third rate. My guess is she never read LAWKI. If she did, she'd probably think it was fifth rate!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Long And The Shorter Of It

Well, the ARCs definitely exist. I was sent a package with five of them (and a good thing I kept two). That's the front and the back up above. One of the ones I kept is my very own copy.

In fact, when they arrived Tuesday night (my UPS guy comes after 6 PM, which makes every day suspensefilled), I read it from beginning to end. Have I mentioned how fabulous the ending is? I would relay to you my emotional response, but I don't want to spoiler anything.

The other three copies went (in case you were curious) to my friends Janet (to whom The Dead And The Gone is dedicated) and Christy (who was the first person to hear the fabulous ending) and my cousin Ellen. Copy number five I'll give to my mother, who seems to be insistent on getting one.

I've been promised a lot more than five copies, and my guess is the package was sent to me because I've been whining and kvetching about these ARCs for more than a month now. At some point, I'll either get the box(es) with more ARCs, which I will then send to the people whose names get pulled out of the Bolivian hat, or I'll really whine and kvetch. I would do so now, but everybody I'd be whining/kvetching to is at NCTE right now, handing out ARCs of This World We Live In to anyone who is interested (which could be no one, for all I know). I may do some whining/kvetching on Monday, but with Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, no one may be around to ignore me. Or maybe the UPS guy will bring the box(es) this evening. I live in constant hope.

Two other pieces of sort of news. I bought a printer today that can actually scan. The last one couldn't, even though it claimed it could, and then it stopped feeding paper, and it really got upset when I pounded it with my fists. The new one is black and chic and at least it scans. I'll find out if it prints some other time.

And Amazon has changed the date on when TW will be published. No more April 1. Now it's March 31. I see this as good news/bad news. The good news is I won't have to listen to any more April Fool's Day jokes. The bad news is the counter on the right side of the blog, which took me a long time to set up, is now officially wrong.

Hmm...Maybe I should pound on it. Worse comes to worst, it would just ignore me!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The End Of The World Comes To Taiwan

I've been sitting around much of this evening, staring out the window, willing the UPS truck to arrive and bring me advance reading copies of This World We Live In (not that I know they're coming by UPS, but when I stared out the window watching the FedEx truck, it didn't bring me any) and reading What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell, because it's due back at the library on Monday, and it's just the kind of book to read when one is staring out the window, willing the UPS truck to arrive.

What a sentence. I feel like it should then go, "When suddenly a shot rang out."

Instead, I rang out to the computer to check emails and the suchlike, and found one from my agent's office, telling me we've sold the Taiwanese rights (Complex Chinese for those who understand such things, a group of people that does not include me) to Life As We Knew It, The Dead And The Gone, and the aforementioned This World We Live In (have I mentioned lately that my father was a lawyer) to Sharp Point Press.

Not only am I absolutely delighted, but I'm also convinced the ARCs for the Taiwanese version of TW will arrive sooner than the American ones.

All right. It's back to Malcolm Gladwell and window staring. If there's any movement on the ARC front, I'll certainly let you know!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Last Chance At The Bolivian Hat

Scooter and I are both totally exhausted from my trip to Lake Placid to see Skate America. He has the nap thing all worked out though, while I'm playing catch up with emails and laundry and mini-mother-crises.

One of the emails I got said the advance reading copies for This World We Live In actually do exist and my batch was sent to me on Friday. I should expect them sometime this week.

So if there's anyone out there who hasn't gotten around to emailing me at a chance at an ARC, do it now using the link on the right. Once the ARCs arrive, I'll be pulling the names out of the Bolivian hat. My guess is I'll be mailing the copies out early next week (maybe Friday this week if the ARCs come soon enough).

I think Scooter has the right idea. Why should cats have a monopoly on catnaps!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Passing Along Two Requests And Stating One Thank You

I received emails yesterday that I'm using my blog to pass along.

The first came from a business associate whose brother is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Here's what she says about it:

We urgently need to increase the size of the bone marrow registries. To be a donor, you need to be between the ages of 18 and 60 (and not have had chemotherapy).

If you can’t be a donor yourself, please urge others to register; we need big numbers to make an appreciable difference. Though the odds are long to help my brother now, you could potentially save someone’s life now or in the future.

Two ways to do so: 1. The best (fastest) is to get tested in person. It just involves an oral swab and some paperwork, not even blood. If you live in the NY area, see attached for area donor drives in Manhattan, on Long Island and in Westchester. All are at no cost. And if you go the Gift of Life web site (see below) you can find list of drives elsewhere around the country.

2. Arrange to get tested on line, by asking for a kit to be mailed to you. Do so through Gift of Life, a U.S. based Jewish registry, who’ll take everyone—but my brother is more likely to find a match with someone who’s Jewish. If you use this method, please hurry—to allow time for mailing and for analyzing your sample. To register with them, go to:, click on “Register NOW as a Donor” and use the code SAVEALAN when prompted. Instructions for collecting the sample and mailing it back will be included with the kit. They will contact you now or in the future if you are a match for my brother -- or one of the many people needing transplants whose lives you could potentially save.

The second email has to do with an online literary magazine for yuong adult readers that is looking for submissions:

Kerri Majors, along with Shannon Marshall and Colleen Oakley, have founded YARN or the Young Adult Review Network. This online based literary magazine's goal is to publish the highest quality creative writing for young adult readers, ages 14-18, and those in other age groups who enjoy young adult lit. Published quarterly, YARN will feature short fiction and creative essays, poetry, and an author interview. Our interactive sections will allow for discussions about published work, as well as reviews of recent YA books. We seek to discover new teen writers, and publish them alongside established writers of the YA genre.

YARN, a new online literary magazine for Young Adult readers, is seeking fiction, poetry, and essays for its debut issue. Writing should be of special interest to 14-18 year old readers, but can be written by writers of any age or background. Submissions by teens are especially encouraged. YARN’s mission is to publish the highest quality creative writing for everyone who enjoys young adult lit. Published quarterly, YARN will feature short fiction and creative essays, poetry, and an author interview. Our interactive sections will allow for comments on stories, as well as reviews of recent YA books. We distinguish ourselves from other teen lit mags by seeking to discover new teen writers, and publish them alongside established writers of the YA genre. Issue 1 will go live in Winter 2010, but a little taste of our site is currently available at (where you can also find our submission guidelines).

On a personal note, while the ARCS have not yet arrived, my royalty check did (and will go in the bank before I go to Lake Placid later this morning). I'm delighted to announce that Life As We Knew It has passed the 100,000 paperback sales number (and thus its royalty rate has gone from 6 to 7%). My thanks to all of you who have helped make LAWKI and the dead and the gone successes beyond my wildest dreams.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Noah Waited Less Time For His Ark

I have to admit I like the search button over on the right. I typed in "growl grump," and found I'd growl grumped a mere twice, in all the semi-many years I've written this blog.

So here's one more time: Growl grump growl growl grump.

I remain, in case you couldn't tell, ARCless. No lovely exciting This World We Live In advance reading copies cluttering my doorstep.

I was originally told they'd be out Columbus Day. It is now Veteran's Day. In the amount of time it's taken to discover America and fight two world wars, they haven't been able to print the ARCs (or if they have, they haven't gotten them to me or let me know they exist).

Hold on- I feel some more growl grumps coming this way.

It had been my not irrational hope to get as many mailed out as I could before going to Lake Placid for Skate America. Which I'll be doing in 48 hours. I'd hoped to give an ARC to my friend Janet (to whom the dead and the gone is dedicated) and one to my friend Pam, because I could hardly give one to Janet and not give Pam one, and maybe even drop one off at my mother's, since I'll be stopping there Thursday to change her channel to 162 (she's having problems getting the remote control that high), and, oh I don't know, keep one for myself to paw at and admire.

My guess is I won't be getting any today, because it is a national holiday. Maybe they'll show up tomorrow and I'll just store them until Monday, when I'll pull names out of the Bolivian hat.

Or maybe they'll never come. Maybe my entire career is over and nobody's bothered to tell me.

We will not discuss how my weight keeps going up and my royalty check has yet to arrive and how Scooter has demolished my shower curtain and I'm going to have company who might not find that quite as amusing as I do.

I know I'll feel better if I actually get something done, and I have a lot to do, since I'll be meeting Janet and her husband at the Hideous Mall In Nyack tomorrow at noon, for lunch and a movie (Coco Before Chanel), and then I'll take Janet home with me, stopping off at my mother's to change her channel, and then Friday morning Janet and Pam and I will get a nice early start to Lake Placid. So it would behoove me to stop whining and start cleaning and shopping and packing.

Growl growl grump.

Anyway, if there's someone out there still wanting a chance at an ARC, feel free to email. The hat remains open, apparently indefinitely.

If you need me, I'll be shopping for an unripped shower curtain!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Dead And The Gone Is Now Available (Nearly Almost) On Kindle

Happy Monday Morning!

Out of the many zillions of books that exist out there, The Dead And The Gone is one of a mere over 360,000 books available to be kindleized.

Of course over 360,000 could mean zillions. It could even mean many zillions.

But I don't care. I'm pleased that d&g joined its best buddy, Life As We Knew It, in the ranks of the Kindle elite.

ETA: Okay, I just read the small print and d&g won't be available on Kindle until Jan. 18, the same day as the paperback comes out.

Well, I'm still excited to know that it will be kindleable in the foreseeable future.

ETA(2): For such a little entry, I've edited this thing over 360,000 times. This time is to mention that I added a new gizmo to the right side of the blog (it's down there somewhere). It's a search this blog thingy, which, my guess is, will be of more use to me than anyone else, but what the hey- blogspot offered it and I took them up on the offer.

ETA(3): I've been feeling cranky all day, but I just reserved the room for my mother's 100th birthday party in Sept. 2011. Now I'm in full party planning mode and feeling much jollier!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bolivian Hat Update (Or Lack Thereof)

Before I forget- stupid stupid stupid Giants.

That's to indicate how well rounded I am. And polite. Because compared to what people are going to be saying on sports radio stations tomorrow, I'm being extraordinarily compassionate.

And to continue with this well rounded theme, my tee shirt wardrobe has increased by one. I am now the proud possessor of an extremely handsome 27th World Series Champion NY Yankee tee shirt. I looked at every style available at Modell's before finding the one I really liked (as opposed to willing to settle for in the heat of the moment).

I bet I won't be buying a Giants Super Bowl Champions tee shirt on Feb. 8.

Back to the Bolivian hat. I got an email this evening asking if Scooter and I had done the drawing yet. The answer is no.

I did write out all the email addresses so I can put them in the hat, which I'll do when the This World We Live In ARCs arrive. That could be tomorrow, or Tuesday or a week from now or when the Giants actually win a game again. Okay, that may never happen, but the ARCs pretty much have to, because Harcourt wants to give them away at the NCTE conference and the NCTE conference starts Nov. 19. Which isn't to say I'll get my ARCs before Nov. 19. Just that the ARCs will most likely exist by then.

Stupid Giants.

When the ARCs arrive, I'll blog here and at thirdmoonbook and announce that the ARCs are here and I'll be drawing out the names. Or maybe I'll draw out the names and blog that I've done it (that makes more sense, which is more than can be said for the stupid Giants' stupid play calling).

Either way, and Giants notwithstanding, when I've drawn out the names, I'll email the people whose email addresses I've pulled out, and ask them to send me their mailing addresses. I've already bought the mailing envelopes, and I'm sure Scooter will be a great help when it comes to addressing and packing.

Meantime, if you haven't emailed me to be put in the hat, and you still want to, go ahead and do it. And I remain cautiously optimistic that after I've sent off the first batch of ARCs, I'll locate a few more for you. Although my mother has said she wants one.

At least she doesn't want my beautiful NY Yankees 27th Championship tee shirt!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yankees Win! Theeeeeee Yankees Win!!!!!

It's hard to imitate a radio broadcaster in a blog. But that's what Yankee broadcaster John Sterling sounded like last night.

I know because I was listening to the radio version of the game while watching it on TV. One great advantage was the radio broadcast was a couple of seconds ahead of the TV one, so I knew what was going to happen before it did.

Those of us who like to know the future are very grateful for any such advantages.

Meanwhile, the Yankees owe their victory to me (and I'll expect a ring). I bought a roasted chicken and prepackaged salad at Hannafords last Thursday, and discovered that the days I ate it for lunch or dinner (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday), the Yankees won. Monday, I didn't eat it, and they lost.

So I skipped Tuesday and ate it for supper last night, and the rest is history.

Scooter feels somewhat responsible also, since he's named for Yankee great Phil Rizzuto (all Yankees are referred to as Yankee great, except for a handful who didn't turn out so well). If I were the kind of person who did this sort of thing, I'd buy a little Yankee cap and put it on him just for a photo. But Scooter's great good fortune continues, since I don't do that sort of thing.

I was up until 1 AM celebrating, and Scooter took it quite well when I threw him off the bed at 6:30 (when he thought it was time for the morning Purr On The Neck ritual). He actually let me sleep until 7:30, for which I am very grateful.

I'm also very grateful the Series didn't go for seven games. My nerves couldn't have taken it.

On a totally different subject, I'm pleased to report people who live in Missouri don't have to worry so much about earthquakes. Having killed off most of the state in Life As We Knew It, I'm glad to see my powers don't extend quite that much.

Speaking of powers, I don't have the power to make the ARCS for This World We Live In appear at my doorstop (or anyplace else for that matter). If they come before Wednesday, I'll try my darndest to get as many of them to the Bolivian Hat winners as I can before going to Skate America that Friday. If they show up later, then they won't get sent off until Evan Lysacek has landed his final triple axel there.

Ooh ooh, the doorbell just rang. That's my friend Hilarie. She's driving through my part of NY on her way to PA to a Highlights Foundation Writing Non-Fiction For Children Workshop, being given by Barbara Kerley, and we're having lunch.

I may not be able to predict the future, but I can predict I won't be ordering roasted chicken!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

If You'd Like A Chance At A This World We Live In ARC

There's been a delay in the printing of the ARCs for This World We Live In, and most likely I won't be getting my copies until next week.

My original plan had been to suggest people email me after the copies had arrived, but I've gotten impatient, so I'm switching the order. I think I'll have a couple of dozen copies to distribute, maybe a few more, and I'll send them out just about as soon as I get them. If I get more, right away or later on, I'll keep on sending.

Here's the deal. Most likely more than two dozen people are going to ask for an ARC. If there are more requests than ARCs, I'll use a lottery, as I have in the past for ARCs of The Dead And The Gone (I didn't know any of you when I got my ARCs for Life As We Knew It).

If you want to be in the drawing, then email me, either using the email address at this blog or at the other (but not both). Leaving a comment won't do it, because what I do is copy everyone's email address and put them in the Bolivian hat (currently residing on the bathroom wall) and pull out names.

If yours is one I pull out, I'll email you back and ask for your name and address. So you don't have to include them in your Bolivian hat email.

Some of you have already emailed your request. I've kept all those emails in a special folder, so you don't have to email me again.

I think when I get an email request I'll email back saying "Thank you," just so you'll know your email arrived.

Oh, I pay for the envelopes and postage and all that. So don't worry about it.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment. But again, if you want a chance at an ARC, a comment won't do it. I'd tell you what would, but I've used the word email so many times in this blog entry, I'm tired of typing it!

Posted by Susan Beth Pfeffer at 11:17 AM

Thursday, October 29, 2009

But His Speciality Is Onomatopoeia

I spent Tuesday in Houston talking to high school students about Life As We Knew It and The Dead And The Gone (and I told them stuff about This World We Live In, because I can't resist).

The students and faculty were absolutely wonderful and I had a very good time.

The only problem was the students were better educated than I am. That's not surprising, given the quirks of my education, but when people are better educated than I am about the books I write, it can be a problem.

Several of the students asked me about the foreshadowing in LAWKI.

Who knew there was foreshadowing? It was news to moi (see, that one year of French still comes in handy).

In TW, there's a lot of stuff I think of as echoes, which I guess is foreshadowing only in reverse. Backshadowing. Anyway, one thing happens and then later on something else happens and if you think about it (and I did) you can see that there was something earlier in the book that wasn't exactly like it, but kind of sort of like it. Give or take.

But I never thought about that in LAWKI or d&g. I just wrote them.

Scooter, on the other paw, knows all about foreshadowing. He's the kitten king of foreshadowing, as you can tell by this photograph.

While I had a great time every single place I went to the past six weeks, after trips to Virginia, New York City, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas, I'm happy to be home.

I think Scooter and his shadow are happy about it as well!

ETA: This piece from Publishers Weekly on what teens read and why and how is so interesting, I'm providing a link. I'm sure Scooter won't mind.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'll Be Sitting In The Corner Munching Some Doritos

I spent much of yesterday at Ocean City High School, in Ocean City, New Jersey. The ocean in question is the Atlantic (and a fine ocean it is).

As I was doing my presentation to a group of pleasant, well mannered, highly intelligent ninth graders, I got kind of woozy. I mentioned, in passing, that if I didn't sit down immediately, I would pass out, and one of the ninth graders suggested I sit in an actual chair, which I did (I was sufficiently woozy that I didn't think I could perch on the side of a table and remain conscious, but not so woozy that I was incapable of checking out seating alternatives).

As I burst into a cold sweat and turned grey, I mentioned that given I was at a school, someone really should call for the school nurse.

It turned out they already had called for the school nurse. She had just arrived in time to admire how awful I looked.

So in front of all those ninth graders, she gave me an examination. First she commented on my grey complexion and clammy skin. Then she checked for my pulse in my left wrist. Unfortunately she couldn't find one, which I explained to the students meant I was dead. She switched over to my right wrist, where apparently my pulse had migrated. It was slow or weak or something but it was there.

Then she took my blood pressure. She murmured the number 80, then said she didn't like that blood pressure machine and I should go to her office and have my pressure taken there later.

I had explained to the students that my temperature is always a little lower than normal, so when it comes out normal, that means I have a fever. The nurse took my temperature, declared it normal, and all the students said, "That means she has a fever."

Now if I'd been a student, I would have been sent home. I mean I was grey. They don't keep grey students in school (or at least they didn't when I went to school, which is why I used to try my hardest to be grey, so I could go home). But because I'm a grownup now (and have been for countless decades), I kept saying I was feeling better and better and no one even hinted I should go home. Of course home was 191 miles away, and it wasn't like my mother was going to go to school to get me.

So I went back to presenting, although sitting down in a chair while I did. After the session ended, I went to the nurse's office and she took my official blood pressure, which was 90 over 60. She told me to keep drinking fluids and have some protein at lunch (so I had a chicken salad sandwich, and a pumpkin cookie with cream cheese icing).

By the end of the school day I felt fine, although this afternoon I did take a two hour nap just to be on the safe side. When I woke up, I figured I should find out if I had something fatal, so I went to Dr. Google, and typed in my more attractive symptoms: Cold Sweat Clammy Skin Low Blood Pressure.

Sure enough, many websites offered diagnoses. I picked one, and it turns out that low blood pressure is indicative of low blood pressure. But there was an actual name for my condition, something with three initials, most of which I've already forgotten (I think there was an N in there somewhere).

I have low blood pressure brought on by standing. This mostly affects young people, but maturity has never been my strong suit.

The treatment is simple enough. Don't stand for long periods of time and eat more salt.

That sounds easy enough. I'm glad I didn't search No Pulse In Left Wrist though. I'd hate for Dr. Google to tell me I'm dead!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Report

Oooh, I just noticed this is my 300th blog entry here. Let's party. You bring the refreshments (I'll eat them).

I'm off to New Jersey in an hour or so, and I haven't packed yet, so this will be a short 300th post. But since I discussed earlier what I'd be reading, I felt I should provide an update.

On the flight to Chicago, I became totally engrossed in the latest issue of Films Of The Golden Age, and pretty much only read that. What an issue! It had a great article about the dog who played Asta (did you know the dog who played Asta on The Thin Man TV show was the original Asta's great-grandson? Me neither), and an absolutely wonderful interview with the assistant director of Dracula Vs. Frankenstein. I am not kidding. It was a great, fascinating read.

There was also a good interview with Van Johnson. Oh heck. Even their article about Allene Roberts was interesting.

My flight back was delayed, so I had lots of time to read The Devil In The White City. I made it about halfway through and really enjoyed what I read. But when I got home, I discovered a book I'd reserved from the library had come in- The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah. So I scurried to the library and read it Monday and Tuesday (now I can return it on Friday for the next person who's reserved it).

Those kinds of books always sound better than they pan out to be. It was a good read, but it took what felt like 40 pages to explain who did what and why. I can forgive most of an implausible plot, but I like the solutions to be a tad speedier.

Also when I got back, Google informed me of this question on Yahoo. I really feel for this kid, because there are no physical descriptions of the characters. I hate writing descriptions, so I almost never do (and with a diary format, I didn't have to).

What I do have to do is pack. I'll be taking The Devil In The White City along with me, although I won't have much time to read it or anything else this evening. And my trip to Houston was cut short, so I'll just need something to read on the flight there and back, but nothing for long lonely nights at the motel.

Happy 300th. Maybe 301 will be about the arrival of the This World We Live In ARC. Now that's something I know I'll like reading!

Monday, October 19, 2009

ARC Update

The ARC update is there is no update.

Or more to the point, there are no ARCs. At least not yet. My editor tells me they may come in this week. Which doesn't necessarily mean they'll be on my doorstep (let alone inside my apartment) this week. More like they may come into existence this week.

When I get them, I'll let you know.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Feel Like I'm In A Runaway Balloon

But actually I'm just hiding in the attic.

Things feel chaotic right now, although my guess is that's mostly self-imposed. The Grand Prix figure skating season has begun, so I'm watching skating on There's going to be a point this afternoon where there'll be skating on the net, skating on TV (the Universal station- my mother just got a cable box so she can watch also), and the Phillies/Dodgers game (Go Phillies! What can I tell you- I've got a fierce crush on the Phanatic).

Oh, and I'm going to be on the road for the most part for the next couple of weeks- trips to Illinois (that one is tomorrow) and New Jersey and Texas.

I've had a cold for over a week, an annoying one too, just enough of one so I know I have it, but not so bad that I can't do stuff. Yesterday Marci and I had a theme park day- we went to the Bright Star Diner for brunch and then went to see Bright Star, the movie about John Keats. It was a very pretty movie, but I gotta tell you, I was coughing a lot harder than he was.

I didn't know any of the stuff in the movie (I even thought Keats was 26 when he died, but he was 25), but it reminded me that I went through a stage of reading biographies of the romantic poets and their extended families. I've read biographies of Shelley, Mrs. Shelley, Shelley's mother-in-law, Byron, Mrs. Byron, Byron's half-sister and Byron's daughter. I think I read a biography of a pal of Byron's also, and while I've never read a biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe, I have a vague recollection of how she fits into all this.

I've never read any of their poetry. I don't particularly like the romantic poets. I just like their lives.

Speaking of reading, I'm going to be flying to Illinois and Texas and therefore need stuff to read on the planes (I sometimes think I only read on airplanes). I have four books to choose amongst: The Republic Of Suffering- Death And The American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust, Notes On A Scandal by Zoe Heller (I saw the movie), The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson (I read another of his books while flying somewhere) and Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart (a loan from Marci). And I'll have to buy this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly because it has an article about my favorite Adam Lambert.

So basically the moral of this story is like most Americans, I'm overwhelmed by too many choices.

The advance reading copies of This World We Live In have not yet arrived. When they do, I'll put up blog entries here and over at thirdmoonbook inviting anyone who is interested to email me. I'm 99.99% sure that there'll be more requests than I'll have ARCs, so I'll almost definitely use the lottery system, as I have in the past, to determine who'll get one. Thank you everyone who voted on the polls. It's given me a good sense of interest vs. availability.

Okay. Pairs is about to begin, and I love one of the French teams, so I really need to return to the Grand Prix. When the ARCs arrive, I'll let you know.

In the meantime, stay grounded!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

There's A New Poll Up

I'm still uncertain how many ARCS I'm going to get and when I'm going to get them, but I thought it might be helpful if I had a sense of how many of you might want one.

So I put up a poll last night with several options (including the traditional Go Away Leave Me Alone choice, albeit more tactfully worded), and this morning I scurried to see the results and no one had voted.

Results so far were zero.

A woman's feelings could get hurt.

But then I figured out if no one knew about the poll, no one would respond. So consider yourself informed.

Oh, and I'm not asking yet for emails or anything like that. I won't until I have the ARCs in hand. This poll is just to give me a sense of whether I'm going to need to save some for you or if I can build a playroom for Scooter with them.

ETA: Sorry for the confusion. The other poll is the same poll basically on the thirdmoonbook blog. Some people read one blog, some people read the other.

Friday, October 9, 2009


It has come to my attention that some silly scientists over at NASA have blown a hole or two in the moon for no other reason than to bother me.

They claim they were looking for water, but for that all they need is a kitchen sink. Or if they're really fussy, they could buy some bottled water at the supermarket, and give me the little plastic rings (they're Scooter's favorite toy).

I don't approve of messing with the moon, and I especially don't approve of it if it means the end of life as we knew it. Besides, if they intended to mess with the moon and kill us, they should have done it on Wednesday. I cleaned the apartment on Thursday, and I'd hate to have wasted my time and energy if we're about to be amongst the dead and the gone. Who needs a clean apartment if this world we live in doesn't exist anymore?

In case you think I'm the only one to be concerned about all this (well, I am the only one to be concerned about having cleaned my apartment, but all this covers a lot more than all that), here's a link to the library in Normal, IL, where they understand how worrysome the whole business is.

I am now going to eat an entire bag of chocolate chips. That'll show NASA!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Letters And Emails

I found a one and a half page well written and neatly typed letter from a high school student in Washington State in my mail today.

The only problem is, the date on the letter was January 20. It took over nine months for my publisher to forward it to me.

At the end of August, I got a batch of letters that were sent in March and April. In that case, it was a different publishing house that took forever to forward the mail.

I answer all fan letters that I get, and I do so reasonably promptly, just as I do emails and comments on my blog. I appreciate the time it takes for someone to write me.

The problem with the letters though is the publishing houses don't send them as soon as they get them. I don't know why they don't, but they don't. They just don't.

And I hate the thought of someone (especially a kid) waiting to hear back and not getting a response.

I understand that letter writing is a nearly lost skill and that teachers think writing letters to authors is a good way to practice that skill. I understand that emails aren't the same as letters; they're just not as formal.

But if you're a teacher or a librarian who works with teachers or a parent who speaks to teachers, please get the word out. Letters don't necessarily get to the writers, or if they do, it can be months after the letters were originally written. Months. In the case of the letter I got today, close to a year.

If it's that important that the letter format be used, then email me and we'll discuss what can be worked out. Otherwise, please have your students email me. That way I can respond within a couple of days, and there won't be a disappointed kid in Washington or Florida or Idaho.

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Exercise: Good For The Body. Good For The Mind

I had lunch with my mother yesterday and happened to arrive right before the physical therapist did. The government is giving my mother four sessions of physical therapy, with the last one scheduled for Friday.

Since my mother's idea of exercise is napping, I'm all in favor of her being forced to move her body around. My mother claims she's been doing the exercises on her own, but I have my doubts. I have even more doubts that she'll continue with them.

However, she is 98 years old, so whether she exercises or not, she's done all right for herself.

After I visited my mother, I got an email from my brother, saying that someone we'd known many years ago was working in Afghanistan and had converted to Islam.

I googled the name and found the job part easily enough. My brother must have done some more research to find the conversion information, which, of course, made the whole story considerably more juicy. When we'd known the (no longer) young man, he'd been a practicing Catholic, living, I think, in Connecticut. Maybe New Jersey. Wherever it was, I could spell it without spell check.

Inspired by this story, I decided to give you some homework. Don't worry. You won't be marked, but you might have some fun with it.

Think about an enormous change a person can make. Seriously enormous, like converting from Catholicism to Islam. Ending a bad marriage. Quitting a job. Changing one's name and growing a mustache and leaving the country (a personal fantasy of mine).

Then take that concept of enormous life change and see if you can use it for a kid/teenager. The change would make perfect sense to your character because they've been living their life, feeling their feelings. But to someone they haven't confided it, even a good friend, it could be a real shock.

Dropping out of school maybe. Choosing to live with a non-custodial parent. Breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Quitting the debate club or the football team. Trying out for the debate club or the football team. I tend to think in teen terms because I've been writing YAs lately, but my guess is there are middle school or even younger equivalents. Relinquishing a pet (it really isn't a good idea to keep a boa constrictor in the bathtub). Becoming a competitive speller. Whatever it is, it has to be big, seemingly unmotivated, and enough to shake up a viewpoint character.

So that's your homework. You have a choice between exercising your mind or doing ten leg lifts and walking to the other end of the assisted living facility, like my mother is supposed to.

I'll get my exercise by strolling to the freezer and removing two of those peanut butter cookies I took home from lunch yesterday. Just think of it as exercise with benefits!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

And I've Eaten Godiva Chocolate

Last week was very busy, and I'm spending today resting and recovering (tomorrow I'll spend fasting, which will help me recover from all the crazy eating I've done over the past few days. Make that weeks. Oh heck, make that months).

It was really a great week, even if it was a tiring one. Last Sunday I went to Virginia and stayed overnight at my friend Renee's, who I haven't seen since we went to the World Figure Skating Championship in LA last March. Renee is very worldly and sophisticated, and I live in constant hope that some of that will rub off on me. It never does.

Renee is doing genealogy, both for herself and her friends. She located my mother's father (and my Great Uncle Joe) online as they got off their boat and landed in Baltimore. I'm not a big genealogy person, but I did like Renee's story of how she worked out the family tree of a friend of hers and discovered that friend was a direct descendant of Lady Godiva.

Monday, I spoke at two schools as part of Fall For The Book, and I had a good time at both of them. Very nice students, very nice adults. Then I drove home, discovered the first pass whatevers waiting for me, and spent Tuesday reading This World We Live In and making the smallest of changes.

I may have also done some kvetching around then.

Wednesday, I went in to NYC and had lunch with my UK publisher. I wore my new black sweater with ruffles, which I showed off to my publisher ("See? See the ruffles?"). She was unruffled herself, but I didn't hold that against her. It's possible, after all, that ruffles are an American thing.

In spite of her lack of ruffles, my UK publisher is a totally delightful person. She showed me very rough drafts of the new covers they're going to have for Life As We Knew It, The Dead And The Gone, and This World We Live In. Very different from what they had before and very different from the US covers. When the cover designs are finalized, she'll email them to me, and if I can get my blogging skills to do it, I'll post them here.

My UK publisher mentioned in passing that she's a direct descendant of Charles Dickens. As it happens, although I didn't feel the need to tell her, I am a direct descendant of someone who once read a novel by Charles Dickens. Under ordinary circumstances, I probably would have let that drop oh so casually, but she was overwhelmed by the ruffledness of my sweater, so I kept the info to myself.

Thursday morning I mailed off the first pass whatevers (which I didn't have time to mail on Wednesday and besides, it turned out I didn't have an envelope in the apartment big enough for them, so I had to buy one which really added to the amount of time it took), and then I drove to Sandwich, MA to speak Friday morning at Sandwich High School, where Life As We Knew It and/or The Dead And The Gone were their summer reading books.

My ego may never be the same. I even got to see homework assignments based on my books.

In addition to the basic ecstasy of being in a room with people who've actually read what I've written, the people themselves were incredibly nice. It was a wonderful experience, a perfect ending to a really great week.

The only professional news I have is kind of anti-news. Listening Library has postponed the publication date of its audiobook version of This World We Live In from January to April 13. -*69++++++++++++++++++ (Scooter just walked over the keyboard to climb on the printer and eat whatever he could find and I kind of like his addition so I'm not backspacing it out).

I always thought it was a little strange to have the audiobook come out three months before the real book did, so I'm not complaining. I bet Harcourt isn't either.

Clearly it's lunchtime for Scooter and for me as well. I need to eat everything in the house today to make my fast tomorrow easier (there'll be no temptation to eat if there's no food in the house!).

Here's to a new year where we all write as well as Charles Dickens and dress even better than Lady Godiva!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Should I Atone? Should I Kvetch? Should I Atone About Kvetching?

Oh let's get real. I'll kvetch about atoning.

The days between Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur are the most solemn on the Jewish calendar. They're devoted to self-examination and atonement for all the wrongs one has committed in the past twelve lunar months (thirteen lunar months in a leap year).

Alas, it turns out that atoning doesn't necessarily coincide with forgiveness. The two people whose feelings I hurt have both let it be known they haven't forgiven me.

Well, where's the fun in that? Ideally, one should apologize and the other person should say, "That's all right and I forgive you and I can tell guilt has been eating you up inside so let's get hot fudge sundaes. I'll treat."

It's not like I'm asking them to say, "And it was all my fault anyway." I don't push my Yom Kippur fantasies that much.

Now that I think about it, you can make it two people and a kitten who aren't going along with this whole atoning business. I was in Virginia Sunday and Monday, and when I got home last night, Scooter was a maniac. An even more than usual maniac. Marci and Bonnie had both visited him on Sunday, and Julie the cat sitter came over Monday, so he wasn't alone (and he sleeps all afternoon anyway). But once he was certain I really was there, Scooter never stopped biting my ankles, my feet, and my legs. I guess he needed to taste me to confirm it was really me.

And he didn't offer to buy me a hot fudge sundae either.

Things are going to get worse, at least for Scooter and me. Tomorrow I'm going to NYC to have lunch with my UK publisher (I like saying that, although since nothing in my life is easy, it's supposed to be 80 degrees, and I bought a brand new black sweater with ruffles that I'm absolutely determined to wear no matter how unseasonably warm it might be), and then Thursday, I drive to Sandwich, MA, where I'll be talking to students on Friday.

Just because nobody suffers like I suffer, I found a package waiting for me yesterday from my US editor. I knew it couldn't be anything good, but I opened it anyway. It was what's called the first pass rough pages (I didn't know that was what it was called until I read the cover letter, and even having read the cover letter, I still think first pass rough pages sounds like something from a western).

What first pass rough pages turn out to be is (are?) the first printed version of This World We Live In. Which would be almost as yummy as sundaes except I'm supposed to read it and look for things to correct. Which means actually read it, as opposed to seeing how lovely the copyright page is (and it is lovely). Then I have to mail it back to my editor, who doesn't know that tomorrow I'm going to NYC and Thursday and Friday I'll be in Sandwich, MA, and Saturday is the sabbath so I try hard not to work, and then Sunday night into Monday is Yom Kippur, which I spend fasting and atoning and fantasizing about ice cream and whipped cream and hot fudge.

My mother, when I complained to her about all this, said, "When you're successful you have to work a little." Of course when I was a failure, I worked a little too, so it's better to be successful and work than a failure and work. But you'd think there'd be a happy median where you get by and don't work.

Oh well. I'd better start reading those first pass rough pages before the Lone Ranger shows up.

Maybe if I'm really good, Tonto will treat me to a sundae!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Things Are Looking Up

This morning I mentioned to my mother that we should try to find her a nice 99 year old boyfriend, and she said, "I'm not really into that kind of thing yet."

So with the future in mind, she and Scooter and I wish all who happen by a healthy and joyful new year!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Mother Is Home

I brought her back to her apartment around 11 this morning.

She called my brother. She wrote a couple of emails (well, she dictated; I did the typing).

She went for lunch in the dining room.

She is fine and well. And I intend to take a three hour nap!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Offical Unveiling of This World We Live In Cover

I asked my editor if I could have a picture of the cover of This World We Live In that I could put on my blog in a better than I printed it on typing paper and pinned it to a chair with needles and took a picture of it with my beloved digital camera format. Something a tad more professional.

And I got one! The super great thing about this is they changed the cover. I'd test you except the version that I originally posted here is so pathetic you can't see the change. But instead of it saying: SUSAN BETH PFEFFER BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR OF LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, it now says: SUSAN BETH PFEFFER THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR OF LIFE AS WE KNEW IT

I asked for that change, and it's good to know they listen to me.

So without further ado (we've had enough ado to last us), here is the Official Unveiling Of the This World We Live In cover.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

One Book, One Boone. One Big Ego Boost

William R. Boone High School in Orlando, Florida selected Life As We Knew It for their One Book, One Boone 2009 summer reading choice, and LAWKI is being woven into various classes this year.

As if this weren't enough to make me happy, the teachers were also asked to have pictures taken of them reading LAWKI this summer, and I was given the honor (well, I think I demanded the honor) of judging the photographs.

I was sent a CD with scores of photographs. Oddly enough, I loved them all. I took the CD to Target and printed up about a dozen of them and put them in frames, so I can look at them whenever I feel like it (which seems to be all the time).

I asked for permission to put some of the pictures on my blog. So with many thanks to the staff at Boone, here are some fabulous teachers reading LAWKI!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's All Labor Day Weekend's Fault

And yet I wish you all a happy Labor Day Weekend.

My mother is doing great, but she's stuck at the health center a while longer because of Labor Day Weekend.

Before they'll spring her, she has to do what's called a home visit. Basically that means she visits her home, while we all watch her (I'll be joining the crowd). Because of the holiday, the home visit can't be scheduled until Wednesday morning.

Then, after my mother breezes through the home visit, there have to be some more meetings to discuss what will happen with her once she leaves the health center. And that will add a few more days to her stay there.

So even though as far as my mother and I are concerned, she could go home today, she'll be stuck at the health center most likely for another 10 days or so.

Curse you American Labor Movement! Okay, I don't really mean that (sorry, Samuel Gompers), but I do wish Labor Day were either earlier this year or much much later.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Get Mentioned In The New York Times (And Nobody Tells Me)

The New York Times has a front page article today called Students Get New Reading Assignment: Pick Books You Like. It's a very fine article and is currently the most emailed article from today's Times.

The article doesn't mention me, but it's worth reading anyway.

Here's where The Times does mention me. There's a list of one class's favorite books and one of them is Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (that's me).

Okay, technically they call it Life as We Knew It, but it's still me.

Now it's not exactly the same as winning the Pulitzer, but a mention in the New York Times is a mention in the New York Times, and that happens to me, well, not very often. This is the first time in 2009, I'm pretty darn sure. The second, maybe third, time this century.

So you'd think people would congratulate me. My agent. My editor. My former editor. My brother. Any of my New York Times reading friends and family. One of you. Google. Somebody.

Ha! If I didn't read the Times myself, I still wouldn't know.

The only person who came even close to congratulating me was Todd Strasser, who sent me an email that said "Congrats." But since I hadn't read today's Times then, I had no idea what he was congratsing me for.

Now I know. And in my opinion, the century has definitely taken a turn for the better!

Friday, August 28, 2009

This World We Live In ARC Update

I've been harassing those nice people at Harcourt for information about the status of This World We Live In advance reading copies (aka ARCs), and now I have some (information, not ARCs).

The ARCs will be published circa Oct. 12 and they'll be sending me a box of them that week.

From the sound of it, I'll be getting more ARCs than I'll need, and if that's the case, I'll be sharing the extras with people here. Assuming, of course, that people here will want one. If not, I'm sure Scooter will be more than happy to shred them all over the apartment.

When the ARC box arrives, I'll let you all know. Well, all of you except Scooter!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summertime And The Living Is Easier

Somewhere in the vast publishing industry that is known as The Vast Publishing Industry, some work must be getting done.

But if it is, nobody is telling me about it. Not that I'm asking.

My mother, brother and I met with the staff at the health care center, and we all agree that my mother's place is back in her apartment. The staff wants her to stay at the health care center another week or two, to make sure she's 100% strong and stable when she returns. Or it could be they want her to stay a bit longer because she's so nice. Either way, she'll be going home soon, maybe in time for her 98th birthday on Sept. 5, or maybe a day or two later.

I'll be celebrating her birthday with a trip to New Paltz Crafts Fair, even though I have no room for anything new in my apartment. Somehow that never stops me.

Scooter is pushing into 6 months old, and as you can see from the new picture on the right side of the blog, he's been doing a lot of growing. He's at the rip everything into shreds stage, which I hope he'll grow out of sooner rather than later. For some reason, toilet paper is of no interest to him (toilets certainly are; fresh flushed is his beverage of choice), but everything else is fair game. This morning, for reasons I hope I'll never understand, he ripped and ate the shower curtain.

Five years ago, when I sold the big big house that was far too big for me or my money, I went through every book I owned (which was quite a lot) and sold or gave away the vast majority of them. Then when I moved to the apartment, I unpacked all the books I'd kept and shelved them. Sometime during the past five years, I've dusted every book. When I downsized the den last spring, I went through all the books again and gave away a whole bunch more. Then I reorganized and reshelved all the books. And, of course, I've been known to look at the books I own, maybe even take one off the shelves if the mood strikes.

So how is it I didn't realize until this morning that I owned two copies of The Twilight Zone Companion? Both second editions too.

Oh well. I'll give one away (don't tell Scooter), and then I'll have more room for whatever I buy at the Crafts Fair!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Catchup Day

I'm taking a couple of days off from visiting my ever healthier mother, and today I'm playing catchup, which includes paying a visit to my blog (hi blog) and letting everyone else who visits here (hi everyone else) how things are going.

We'll start (that's the regal we) with my ever healthier mother. She can get out of chairs all by herself and use her walker to get around and generally seems to be in fine fettle. There's an official talk about her future meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning, and I'd be surprised if the consensus isn't that she should return to her apartment and her life. That's certainly what I want the consensus to be. When I was visiting her yesterday, she got a lovely little present from my goddaughter and her mother in the mail, and an unexpected visit from Marci, who brought beautiful flowers.

My mother asked me to thank all of you for your get well wishes, here and in emails. She's really appreciated all your good thoughts.

I have a small amount of career news. First off, Life As We Knew It has passed the 100 Amazon review mark, making it all the way to 101. The little stars of approval have been going down though, so I haven't read the past few reviews, taking pleasure in the quantity if not the quality.

Speaking of LAWKI, I learned earlier this week that the German audio rights have been sold. My share of the advance goes to lower the book advance, so I won't be seeing any Euros from it (at least not directly). But this is the first time a novel of mine has been recorded in a language not my own, so I'm naturally quite excited. And since Pfeffer is a German word, I'm not concerned about mispronunciations (although now that I think about it, they could screw up Susan and Beth. Le multilingual sigh).

I got an email yesterday from my editor saying that whoever makes these decisions (not her, not me) has agreed to use the scene I want as the tease for This World We Live In in the paperback of the dead and the gone. I posted that scene over at thirdmoonbook for any of you that are curious.

I have a very busy autumn ahead of me, with trips to Virginia, Massachusetts, Illinois. Texas, and Connecticut (plus a family weekend in South Carolina) in store. I am a very small part of the Fall For The Book event in Fairfax County, VA. If any of you live around there, you might want to go to some of their many programs.

I went to the movies for the first time in forever and saw Julie and Julia. I really enjoyed it, more for the writing a blog part than the cooking up a storm part. My idea of cooking is to put frozen fish in the oven and frozen vegetables in the microwave and have them both for dinner (I did that last week, a personal best). But I guess the cooking part of the movie inspired me also, since I bought new dishes (which turned out to be a celebratory German audio rights purchase, only I didn't know I'd sold the German audio rights when I bought the dishes, so I guess it was a prescient celebratory purchase, which is practically the best kind). The only problem with my new dishes is they're bigger than my old dishes and too big to fit into my kitchen cabinets as they're now arranged, so I have to rearrange my cabinets, which I've been meaning to do ever since I'd had the revelation that the vast majority of my spices are over five years old and never used and thus taking up a lot of unnecessary cabinet space, which is how I differ from both Julie and Julia, who most likely wouldn't have bought little jars of spices from the supermarket anyway so what do they know.

So now that I've caught you up on everything (except Scooter, who is extremely cute, and has gotten much better about letting me sleep in the mornings, although he still does like to attack my ankles and drag my underwear around the apartment and rip papers on my printer), I'm off to throw out unused spices and see if I can get the new dishes to fit in my cabinets.

Life certainly is easier without crises!