Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Fabulous Garden State Teen Book Award (Fiction Grades 6-8)

wasn't back from the framer's in time for the awards luncheon yesterday.

Very shrewdly, a box of chocolates was presented to me instead.

It was great to see John Green again (he was the luncheon speaker) and to meet fellow winners Ann Bausum and Bruce Degen. Ann's award was at the framer's also, but Bruce's was there for me to see and envy.

He, in turn, envied Ann's and my boxes of chocolate.

Do you know, I have no idea if it should be framer's or framers. I suppose if it's multiple owners of the framing store, it should be framers'.

Either way, I should get the award in a couple of weeks, and then (and only then) will I be able to finish the wall of ego. So my friends Joyce and Lew won't be able to see the new award when they visit this weekend, but they'll eat the chocolate, and that will probably make them every bit as happy.

What makes me happy is that I've been informed of yet another nomination for Life As We Knew It. It's up for the Maud Hart Lovelace Award, a young readers award in Minnesota. I keep the list of states over at thirdmoonbook, so the other night I counted, and throwing in a few nominations that aren't on the list, LAWKI has been nominated for over three dozen awards. I think that's astonishing. I currently have a winning percentage of .05, but if it goes down, it'll only be because LAWKI's been nominated for even more.

No one can take my Garden State Teen Book Award (Fiction Grades 6-8) or my Truman Readers Award away from me, even if I don't exactly have them to take!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Week In (P)review

I've gotten into the dangerous habit on Monday mornings of looking ahead to the week and anticipating what wonderful things might happen. Of course, there is a chance by Friday, that nothing wonderful will have happened, but so far my luck is holding out quite nicely.

This morning I had no problems guessing what wonderful things would happen during the week, since a couple of them are already scheduled. On Wednesday, I'm going to the New Jersey Library Association Book Award Luncheon, where Life As We Knew It will receive the 2009 Garden State Teen Book Award (Grades 6-8), which I will proudly display on the Wall Of Ego. Then on Thursday, I'll go to New Haven to speak at the Connecticut Library Association Conference.

Both these events will be more fun than taking my mother to the dentist tomorrow to get her two cavities filled. Although even that will be more fun for me than for her.

But this week started off very nicely on its own. For those of you who enjoy reading interviews with me (a select group consisting of my mother, to whom reading an interview with me is preferable to getting her cavities filled), there is a brand new one at Inkweaver Review.

And this morning, while doing my now once every two weeks or so Googling, I discovered that LAWKI is nominated for the Green Mountain Book Award in Vermont. That makes it 27 individual state awards it's been nominated for.

Speaking of awards, I received one yesterday as the Friends Of The Middletown Thrall Library Volunteer Of The Year. As it happens, I couldn't attend the luncheon, so Marci accepted for me. She said I got a certificate, so maybe the Wall Of Ego will have yet another thing to show off. And speaking of Marci, she came over on Saturday to meet Scooter. She agreed that he was very cute, but she says his beard makes him look like Maynard G. Krebs.

At some point in the not too distant future, the new editor will send me This World We Live In, with all kinds of notes and suggestions for rewrites (or as Maynard G. Krebs would put it- WORK!). But until she does, I can spend the week looking forward to all the good things that are going to happen, and watching Scooter chase his tail.

Now that's something Maynard G. Krebs couldn't do!

ETA: While I was answering comments from NathanKP and Glen, Scooter was proving very distracting!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two Pieces Of Good News (Neither Involving A Kitten)

Bonjour mes amis in Missouri.

Life As We Knew It is the first winner of the Truman Readers Award, selected by students sixth through eighth grade in Missouri. Notice how the link doesn't take you to some official announcement place. That's because I can't find an official announcement place. Actually, the place Google took me to last night was a blog by a librarian who didn't like LAWKI. So I waited until today to make the official (by me at least) announcement, by way of a librarian who is at least neutral on the subject.

I love that LAWKI is the first Truman Readers Award winner. It will always be the first (or last) book on the Truman Readers Award lists.

I hope students sixth through eighth grade in Missouri and elsewhere read French. Because my other piece of good news is that Pocket Jeunesse in France (bonjour France) will be publishing Life As We Knew It, The Dead And The Gone, and This World We Live In.

This is one tres excellent day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Scooter Is A Healthy Kitten

I took Scooter to the vet today, to make sure he was a healthy kitten, and indeed he is. He weighs 1 pound 4 ounces, has a normal temperature, and may be less than 8 weeks old, which would help explain his meowing whenever I'm not right by his side. Although I think he's meowing less (or else it's turning into white noise, I've gotten so accustomed to it).

I promised Scooter if he did something sufficiently cute, I'd post a video along with this report. I put one of his toys out for him, but naturally that was of no interest to him.

Instead he found two other things to play with, neither one of which would have been my choice. The bag was a gift from one of the schools I visited this fall. The mini carnation was in a vase on the dining room table. Soon Scooter will be knocking over vases, and I won't think he's nearly as cute as I do now!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Scooter In The Kitchen

I promise I'm not going to post endless look at Scooter photos and videos. But this one, which I took about half an hour ago, shows what a little meower he is.

The ticking sound in the background is the toaster oven.

Scooter is now climbing on my back and purring. He's really a sweetheart, but a very noisy one!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Named Him Scooter

I have a kitten on my lap. After an acquaintanceship of a mere two hours, Scooter understands how important it is to sleep on my lap.

As you can see, he's black and white and has a beard. It makes him look slightly Amish.
Thus far, he's expressed no interest in food or kitty litter, but he sure does love telephone wires. And my lap.
He knows how to purr. And to kvetch, which he did non-stop on the trip home. So maybe he isn't Amish. Maybe he's Chasidic.

If he were wearing a stovepipe hat, he'd look like Abraham Lincoln. But I refuse to believe he's a Republican.

Then again, I find it hard to believe any Republicans would want to sleep on my lap!

ETA: I've added the official portrait to the top of this entry; it has the best view of his beard.
My cousin Fran expressed surprise (perhaps even concern) that Scooter was named for Scooter Libby, which would truly make him a Republican kitty. I hadn't even thought of Scooter Libby when I decided if I got a boy kitten, he'd be named Scooter. He's named for Phil Rizzuto, who may well have been a Republican, but more importantly, was the shortstop and broadcaster for the New York Yankees.
Scooter the cat has discovered the food bowl, but still hasn't explored the delights of the kitty litter. He does love my lap though, and gets agitated when it's in another room without him on it.
He'd better learn to live without it. I'm taking my mother to the dentist tomorrow, and he's not invited!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Extra Credit

I love movies, old and new, and one difference I've noticed between old and new is the length of the credits.

It used to be the credits were short and sweet: Produced, Directed, Written, and Starring Orson Welles.

Nowadays the credits run forever, and include all kinds of jobs and responsibilities I never associated with movies (second assistant greensperson and the suchlike).

So while I continue to wait for a kitten and a rewrite, I thought I'd give the credits for my upcoming production of This World We Live In (all these credits, by the way, would be identical for Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone).

Harcout Houghton Mifflin And Susan Beth Pfeffer Present

Susan Beth Pfeffer's


Written And Directed By: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Produced by Harcourt Houghton Mifflin
Executive Producer: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Edited By: The New Editor And Susan Beth Pfeffer
Copy Edited By: The Copy Editors
Assistant Copy Editor: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Cover Design: The Cover Designer
Titles: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Research: Google, Wikipedia
Head Researcher: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Marketing And Promotion: Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, Susan Beth Pfeffer
Catering: Lean Cuisine, Not Just Bagels, Susan Beth Pfeffer
Second Assistant Greensperson: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Electricity Provided By: Orange And Rockland Utilities Inc. (Bill Paid By Susan Beth Pfeffer)
Best Boy: Definitely Not Susan Beth Pfeffer
Best Mother: Freda Pfeffer
Special Thanks to:

The Moon

No Animals Were Hurt In The Production of This World We Live In. However, Any Number Of Trees Sacrificed Their Lives For The Sake Of This And All Other Books.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lady In Waiting

I had a wonderful realization about an hour ago, that spring still has at least two months left, which means I have at least two months before I need to think of spring cleaning as summer cleaning.

My plan, really truly, is to begin cleaning practically the minute I finish this blog entry. I have a date to have lunch with my friend Hilarie on Friday, so I'm using that as a deadline. Of course, I've used quite a few other dates and obligations as deadlines, and none of them seem to have taken.

I may not be much of a lady, but I certainly am waiting these days. While I'm waiting for the Garden State Teen Book Award to hang up, I've been redecorating the den. Yesterday, I devoted a great deal of time to what I now call The Wall Of Ego. Mostly I put things where there were already nails, but it's looking pretty impressive anyway.

Can you see the drawing to the left of Groucho Marx? It's a certificate my goddaughter made me when she was seven years old. It says (and I quote with great pride): Susan Beth Pfeffer is a very good person. But tonight she was a very, very good person.

Right below it, is a proclamation from the town of Winfield, West Virginia of Susan Beth Pfeffer Day, which turns out to be April 30, by which point I will certainly have my spring cleaning done.

See the letter matted in blue, under the Sequoyah Children's Book Award (in the shape of Oklahoma)? It's my very first acceptance letter, from Grade Teacher Magazine, for a poem I wrote in fifth grade.

Oddly enough, I never framed my first rejection letter, although I could easily paper The Wall Of Ego, the rest of my apartment, and Buckingham Palace, with all the rejections I've gotten.

Another thing I'm waiting for is a kitten. I would have taken one home on Saturday, except the one I wanted (an extremely cute calico) had already been adopted. I was told some black and white kittens will be showing up on Sunday for adoption, and I intend to get there early this time. I bought a kitty litter pan this morning, and I'm hoping it will be getting some use by Sunday afternoon.

By which point, of course, I will have finished spring cleaning.

Finally, I'm waiting to do editor requested rewrites on This World We Live In. The editor originally assigned to the book couldn't work it into her schedule, so a new editor had to be found. Last week my newest editor requested a blurb/summary of B3 for the sales and marketing people. For those who are interested, I've posted what I sent her over at thirdmoonbook.

Although switching editors has slowed the process down, B3 remains on target for a Spring 2010 publication.

By which time, I'll definitely have finished my Spring 2009 cleaning!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tips For Young Writers

I've gotten a few emails lately asking me for tips for young writers, and since I'm generally asked for those kinds of tips when I make school visits, I thought I would devote a blog entry to them. Feel free to share my thoughts with any young writers you know in your school, at your library, or in your family.

Read A Lot: There's no easier way of absorbing writing skills than by reading. Don't limit your reading to novels. I used to read plays all the time in junior high and high school, and learned a great deal, without realizing it, about dialogue and structure (I learned a lot also from watching old movies). Poetry teaches you style and vision. Biographies (which I read a lot of as well) teach you about how people, and not just famous ones, behave and grow. Newspapers, magazines, and the internet, show what people are interested in.

Write A Lot: Not just the stuff you have to write for school. Write for your own pleasure. Writing is the same as skateboarding or playing the piano. You get better through practice. William Shakespeare knocked out a lot of plays before he could write King Lear.

Learn Grammar And Spelling: They're boring, but essential. And don't count on the computer to know everything for you. A sentence like: There, they're their own worst enemy, can give even the smartest computer a migraine. For that matter, so could: It's its own worst enemy. So don't be your own worst enemy, by trying to get away with mistake ridden manuscripts.

Pay Attention To People: Watch your family, your friends, your teachers, anybody you have contact with. Ask yourself why they behave the way they do. The better you understand people, the easier it is to create characters. And even if you decide your life work is to write textbooks about rocks, people will be your target audience (so few rocks read these days). The best non-fiction writers know how to make their subject interesting to people, just the same as fiction writers.

Listen To Praise And To Criticism: You can learn from both. Don't assume all praise is accurate or all criticism is. But don't reject praise or criticism automatically. I've learned from people who like my writing, and I've learned from people who don't.

Try To Get Published: Getting published doesn't necessarily mean getting your novel published by a big time publishing house. That's hard under any circumstances, and big time publishing houses these days are struggling, the same as many other industries. But if your school has a paper or a magazine, or your local newspaper has a teen section, or you know of a magazine (print or online) that is looking for submissions by younger writers, go for it. There's something very encouraging about seeing your name in print.

Write About What You Like Best: If you love to surf, then write about surfing or surfers or ocean waves. If you love fashion, then write about fashion or people who love fashion or people who don't love fashion. If you're like me, and what you love best is figuring out how families would behave during hard times, then write about families in hard times.

Write About What You Know Best: Maybe what you know best is surfing. Maybe what you know best is fashion. But maybe what you know best is how sisters or friends or parents fight. Maybe what you know best is how you feel when you fight with your sister or your friend or your parent. You can know feelings just as well as you can know facts, and they're both great starting off points for writing.

Be True To Feelings, Not Facts: When I was a kid, I was scared of going to the dentist. When I was a grownup, I wrote a book called What Do You Do When Your Mouth Won't Open, about a kid who was scared of speaking in public. I've never been scared of speaking in public, but I understood irrational fear. So I took feelings I'd had and gave them to my heroine. The great thing about fiction is you can put your characters wherever you want them, but wherever you do, you must be sure their feelings will seem real to your readers.

Have Fun With Your Writing: I always tell people, I'm my own biggest fan, because I write the stories I would most enjoy reading. There's not much point being a writer if you don't have fun with it. But if you do have fun, then it's a wonderful job, or hobby, or stepping stone to whatever the next step in your life will be.