Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Die Welt Wil Wir Sie Kannten (aka Life As We Knew It) Wins The Buxtehuder Bullen Award!

This is a great honor and I am so thrilled I can't even describe how thrilled I am. Here's some basic information about this wonderful award.

See that bull up above? That's the award winning statue, inspired by Ferdinand The Bull. My brother (who's been helping me through all this German information)says it weighs 12 and a half kilos, and my mother, who is thoroughly enjoying the entire process (she said, among many other things, "I had to wait 100 years for this," and is now demanding one half of all the congratulations) wants to know if I'll need a bigger apartment to hold it.

The awards ceremony is part of a 40th anniversary celebration of the award, and it's going to be sometime in early September. My mother's extremely big 100 is also in early September, but my mother has already told me if there's a conflict in dates, of course I should go to Buxtehude, but I should tell them that only an honor such as this one would make me miss my mother's birthday.

Of course, I'll have to say it in German, but I'll worry about that in September.

The Buxtehuder Bullen Award gets a lot of publicity in Germany, which my brother discovered through clever googling. The articles are pretty much the same, but they have different headings (I admit to a partiality to the ones with Susan Beth Pfeffer in the headline), but this one is currently my favorite because it shows both the jury that picked LAWKI and the pretty picture of the tree and oops me too that Marci took.

I admit I've been way too excited to get any work done, since finding out yesterday afternoon about the award (they called me all the way from Buxtehude, which is 30 kilometers from Hamburg).

The end of the world is simply going to have to wait. Winning the Buxtehuder Bullen Award takes precedence!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Could Be Writing Or I Could Be Writing About Writing

Writing about writing is less work. I'll go with that (at least until after lunch).

I'm not opposed to work. In fact I totally support it for other people (pretty much my same attitude about marriage). Actually, once I start working (on writing, cleaning closets, most anything), I kind of enjoy it. Or at least I don't loathe it. It's the starting that's the tough part. Especially before lunch, which I'll be preparing for myself in a mere 18 minutes (a wholesome and nutritious salad, thank you for asking).

I just created the following scale. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 not feeling like work at all and 10 involving the sacrifice of vast amounts of remaining brain cells, here's how the moon books stand:

Life As We Knew It: 1. Okay, maybe 2 because I did have to figure some stuff out.

The Dead And The Gone: 5, maybe 6. 5 and a halfish. I'd pretty much figured all the stuff out, but it did take some brain cells to make the chronology work. And I don't know Spanish. Okay, more in the 6-7 range.

This World We Live In: Definitely a 9. I'm the only person who gives myself credit for the amount of brain cells sacrificed for the sake of a novel. Working on the assumption that there would be some people who came to TW from d&g and some more from LAWKI, I had to keep various things in LAWKI/d&g unmentioned in TW in case any of those people then went back to read the unread book.

I feel so emphatic about all this, I think I'll bold the numbers. That'll show you. And having done so, I kind of like that "halfish" which looks like half fish if you don't know any better.

Ooh, what book have I left out? What Moon title remains unranked?

Yes, it's The Shade Of The Moon (which won't get italicized until it's finished). The Unnicknamed One is easily a 9.75. Not because it's that hard (it really isn't, and it's an awful lot of fun to play with), but because of that ridiculous September 1 deadline. I really really really want the submitted manuscript to be really really really acceptable, because there won't be very much time for substantial rewrites, and even though my editor/publisher has a basic idea (based on a 12 page outline, as well as the brilliant 2 sentence synopsis) of what the book is going to be about, that doesn't mean they're going to like the actual version unless the actual version is really really really good.

My guess is they want LAWKI 2, and that's not what they're going to get, so I'd better do a tiptop job with Shade 1 And Only, so they won't feel let down.

Stress and pressure. Or as I like to think of it, stressure. Although, actually I don't like to think of it at all.

My intent is to know the book so well before I write it that I won't get stuck anywhere in the middle/end, because it'll all be neatly ironed out before I get there. That's pretty much how I usually work anyway, but not with a ridiculous September 1 deadline.

For example, a couple of days ago I figured out what big big thing was going to provoke the big big change in the action. Fine. This is what I should be figuring out. Only that particular big big thing had consequences, or more to the point, presequences all its own that had to be dealt with. If I were going to write X, did that mean I had to change T and U, none of which I've written except in my mind where I happen to be very fond of them. How could I keep T and U so I can get to X (which now that I think of it, is more in the vicinity of V or W). And T and U only make sense if R and S do, and somewhere things have to be set in vicinity of E-H.

Writing's hard. And it's even harder to write about writing if you try to avoid spoilering.

But hey. Why complain when it's time to make lunch. After some nice healthy nutritious salad, I'm sure work will feel like 9.99 on the fun scale!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Shade Of The Moon Game (Anyone Can Play)

It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that the heroine of The Shade Of The Moon (Mom's daughter Juliet) was an awfully fluent and talented writer, given that she'd hardly had any schooling at all.

I had two choices. I could either make her a near illiterate writer (which to me is similar to writing in dialect, and I hate reading dialect and therefore don't write it), or I could come up with an explanation of how Juliet got her literary skills.

I opted for Number 2, and wrote a nifty flashback scene (I'm trying very very very hard to limit flashback scenes, and I think this is the only one I've written and may well be the only one in the book once it's finished which it will be in time for its absurd September 1 deadline) to explain it.

It seems (cover your eyes ye spoiler hating readers) there was a library in the town where Juliet grew up and the library was closed and everyone in the town was allowed to keep one book. So Mom decided to get as many books as she could and connived accordingly and the family ended up with a fair sized number, which were then used to educate and enlighten Juliet and her half-niece Meggie.

We'll get back to this in a moment, but I want to interrupt myself to say I came up with a wonderful exchange of dialogue this morning (I think I was exercycling at the time).

Mom: I'm not afraid of dying.
Another character retorts: You want to live long enough to be able to say I told you so.

At first I had Alex saying that, and then I had Syl saying it, and then I had Miranda saying it. And the great thing is, Mom reacts completely differently based on who says it.

Also, to interrupt my interruption, I have the greatest end line for the book (which isn't going to get used, but I love it).

Mom (striking her forehead with the palm of her hand): What a fool I've been. The President was right all along!

Okay. Back to the library (I typed that as bake to the library; my typos are worth an entire blog all their own). It was up to me (on account of Juliet and Mom and all the others not really existing) to figure out what books Mom would decide should be taken to provide an educational base for Juliet and Meggie.

Here's what Juliet says:

We ended up with 31 books, a volume of all of Shakespeare’s plays, and a dictionary and a Columbia Viking 2 volume desk encyclopedia (I took one volume, Meggie took the other) and the complete works of Jane Austen, and The History Of World Art and Little Women and a World Almanac from the last year in the time before. 31 books. Only 1 made Mom cry. Miranda was supposed to take Alice In Wonderland, but instead she found a book Mom had written and took that instead.

The books were my school. I learned spelling and the meaning of words from the dictionary, and history and science from the encyclopedia and geography from the World Almanac. Shakespeare taught me about the beauty of language. Little Women taught me what families were supposed to be like. The History Of World Art gave me a way of escaping the dark ugly reality I lived in every day.

I told this to my friend Christy (aka St. Christy, since she listens to all my ramblings about The Shade Of The Moon), and she said she loved World Atlases. I'm not a big Atlas (just typed as Atlast- I told you my typos were fabulous) person, which is why I went with World Almanacs (I loved the Almanac as a kid, and it has maps). But her comment got me thinking (always a dangerous thing) and that's why I've invented the following game:

You have a library to choose from, and can take a half dozen or so books, in a desperate effort to educate the young and keep alive the memory of civilization. What books do you take?

Remember (as Mom and I did) that the longer the book, the better. That's why she took the complete plays of Shakespeare and novels of Jane Austen. Although I do have a scene later on where Mom is reading The Great Gatsby, which is nothing if not short.

Let me know what you choices are. If one pops up repeatedly, or if one strikes my fancy, and therefore Mom's, I'll put it in The Shade Of The Moon.

I should have enough time to do that before the absurd September 1 deadline!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mickey Mantle Was A Natural Righty With A Plunger

While it's true I'm spending every waking (and a few sleeping) hours obsessing over The Shade Of The Moon, other aspects of my life do slip in when I'm not looking.

For starters, Scooter is now eating the new shower curtain. This is my 3rd or 4th since he entered my life. He nibbles more towards the faucet side, but will chomp on the opposite end as well. I'm positive this is why my bathtub drain is so slow moving.

I had been particularly pleased with the current shower curtain. First off, it was so toxic I kept it opened on the patio for more than a week before its heinous new shower curtain smell wore off enough to hang it up. I was cautiously optimistic the scent would be bad enough to keep Scooter from devouring it. Well, that didn't work.

The other reason I was so happy is it's a shower curtain with a map of the world, and since the world has changed a great deal since my last map of the world shower curtain, I figured I'd finally learn where all those new countries I keep hearing about are actually located. I like educational shower curtains (although I saw one during sleepover weekend that was rules of grammar and I draw the line).

Alas, Scooter is now digesting his way from south of Tonga to the very border of New Zealand. Should this turn into a Twilight Zone episode, my apologies to everyone in Tonga and New Zealand. I really thought the toxins would keep you safe.

On a more (or less) literary note, I finally provoked my agent into letting me know what she thought of The Offering. No fool she, she had two other people in the office read it. They all basically said the same thing, some variant of Oh My Goodness! This, alas, is not the same as Oh You're Good! although I did try to convince myself they were practically identical in spirit.

They all suggested (and quite rightly) that my poor martyr of a heroine needs to suffer a tad less and that the romance needs to be stronger. They might have suggested other things I've forgotten about (like Put Down That Keyboard And Get An Honest Job), but I'm not going to think about it until after The Shade Of The Moon has made its merry way through the publishing process.

Oh, speaking of The Shade Of The Moon and my obsessing thereof, yesterday morning I came up with a whole new scene that I love (I love it so much I may even write part of it this afternoon, although I really should be assembling my new vacuum cleaner, since I plan on cleaning the apartment tomorrow morning). The great thing about this scene is it simplifies the motivation for something truly significant in the book. Before I thought of the new scene, this is how things went: A does something to B and because of C's response, A does something to D. That's a little clunky, so now it's B does something that provokes A to doing something to B and because of B's response, A does something to D. In other words, I leave C out of it, or I will when I get around to writing all that, which will be sometime in July.

Meantime, I'm back to being concerned about my lefthanded/righthandedness. I guess it was going to the Yankee game with Todd Strasser got me thinking about it again. I can never figure out if I'm a natural lefty or righty. This time I took a flat piece of plastic (the bag my new cable box came in), and grabbed the plunger that I always keep right by the bathtub because of Scooter's shower curtain issue, and set myself up. After multiple swings, I confirmed that at least with a plastic bag as home plate and a bathroom plunger as a bat, it's more natural for me to swing lefthanded than righthanded, although it's definitely more natural for me to throw a ball (not that I have one) or hold a pen (which I definitely do) righthanded. And no, I have no idea how that piece of personal insight will in any way improve the quality of my life.

Finally, on a more personal note, my brother found the most wonderful blog entry that mentions our father, and on Father's Day no less. It's about books that influence people's lives. I'm really thrilled my brother found it; it gives enormous pleasure to him, my mother, and me.

Alas, the only thing that gives Scooter pleasure these days is the chomping down of New Zealand!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Visual Evidence

I've been having so much fun writing The Shade Of The Moon that I've been forgetting to do things, like proving to you that Todd Strasser and I really did go to the Yankee game, even though Derek Jeter was on the disabled list so we didn't get to see him get his 3000th hit.

Of course I'd brought my camera with me, so here's proof we were there. Although it's hard to tell us apart, because we both wore pink baseball caps, Todd is the good looking one.

Sadly, that is the best of the three pictures Todd took of me, but I do like its two dimensional cutout of an fat old flushed freelance children's book writer stationed at Yankee Stadium look. I like the illusion of being merely two dimensional (although I'm sure on occasion my writing's been described as one dimensional).

The game was great, by the way, and Todd and I stayed through all 12 innings and the ritual pie ceremony. And people in the row ahead of us were very impressed when I said the Yankees would sacrifice the runner to second and then have Rodriguez pinch hit, which was exactly what the Yankees did.

Joe Girardi had better watch out. This fat old flushed freelance children's book writer can manage ballgames just as well as he can.

One thing I can do that Joe Girardi may not be able to is end the world in not one, not two, not three, but four (count 'em four) books. How I love ending the world. I'm having a ridiculously good time writing The Shade Of The Moon. I've learned a little bit from the writing of The Offering. I'm writing the scenes that are most on my mind, but I'm indicating in the document where the other planned scenes will go. In fact today, I think I'm going to fill in the very big blank I have, which is a set of scenes where Jon comes to visit. He's all grown up now, and a very fine person.

When I did the various outlines for the book, I was worried that I didn't have enough beginning (I knew the plot would zip along once I got to the middle, and while the ending is a little underdeveloped, it's not for lack of possibilities). But the beginning is starting to look not unlike its creator, at least in the (ahem) plump department (not in the old and flushed and two dimensional, I hope). Fabulous scenes I never thought of have seized control (by the way, and totally off subject, if you ever need to know the exceptions to the I Before E rule, just remember this sentence: Neither the foreigner nor the weird financier can seize leisure at its height. I have no idea who figured that sentence out, but it's been a useful part of my life forever).

Now I know any number of you (at least one, maybe more) don't care for spoilers or those who spoil, but I love my first page so much I'm going to share it with you. Also it will prove there is a first page. Since I still haven't mastered scanning, I scanned it twice. Those who don't like spoilers might prefer the first version.

According to my clock (and why would it lie) it's time to make lunch. Oh well. The return of Jon will just have to wait a few minutes longer. But even with a Sept. 1 deadline, there should be time enough for the world to end at least once more!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's Genuinely Semi-Official

My editor and my agent and I exchanged emails over the past couple of days and I told my agent to accept the only slightly insulting offer that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt made for The Shade Of The Moon.

I figured I'd sacrificed so many brain cells to working out its plot and characters it would be a folly not to accept.

In a total fit of what the hey, I started writing yesterday. I know I must really be committed to the concept because I edited out about four pages I wrote and will edit out another four pages when I get back to it (the first four pages because they were about sex, which I have yet to figure out how to deal with in the book but realize I shouldn't deal with in the first ten pages, the second four pages because they were all explanatory of why things were the way they were, which fascinates me almost as much as sex, but unlike sex, drags the story down).

Also I got so involved in writing I didn't have supper until 8:30, which simply will not do. I've got to work out a schedule that allows me time to eat and breathe and talk to friends and family (talking to friends and family yesterday afternoon was why I didn't finish the four pages I will be dumping until 8:25).

If you can read between the lines (or under them or on top of them or on the lines right smack there) I have every intention of making the Sept. 1 (or as I think of it, the Sept. 6) deadline, so the book can be published in the Fall of 2012 (and let me tell you, if I make the deadline with the fabulous manuscript I intend it to be, and HMH dawdles so it doesn't get published until Spring 2013, the screeching and whining from these quarters will be heard on the moon).

Speaking of the moon, while I skipped the eclipse, I did gaze lovingly at the beautiful full orange moon in last night's evening sky. I love me some moon. In fact, I was thinking that if you can buy the naming rights for a star, you should be able to buy the naming rights for a moon (there are plenty of them out there; even poor sweet much maligned Pluto has a moon of its own). Somewhere there's an unnamed moon waiting for me to adopt it.

It's the least I can do, since the moon has been so incredibly generous to me!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Announcements And Assumptions

I'll start with the announcements.

My car passed its annual inspection.

Granted it's only a year old, so the odds were in its favor, but one should never take anything for granted.

[I just got distracted by seeing a deer eating outside my window. It used to be deer were a lovely, unexpected sight, but now with so much Lyme disease going around, they're the enemy of the people.]

And when I got home, and needed some kind of overshirt (it was 98 degrees less than a week ago, and 68 degrees this week), I found one in my closet I have no memory of buying. Ordinarily this kind of discovery can cause great waves of guilt to roll over me, but the price tag said $14.98, and no doubt I bought it on sale for even less, so the guilt subsided and I put the shirt on.

Sadly, the shirt looks better on the table than it looks on me.

As far as professional announcements go, I have none. My editor sent me an email saying if I needed more time to write The Shade Of The Moon then of course I should take as much time as I need. And my agent emailed me to say she was doing what agents always do (she didn't word it that way of course), which was to ask for better terms (presumably more money, since that's what agents always ask for).

Ironically (ooh, two sentences starting with adverbs in a single blog entry), I spent several days last week whipping the material for Shade into shape, and was sufficiently satisfied with my work that I typed up a two page outline of all the scenes I wanted in the book.

And it's at a point now where the characters are talking to each other in my brain all the time (or at least all the time I'm not distracted by other things), and the step after that is usually writing at a frantic pace (if for no other reason than to get the characters to stop talking to each other in my brain). I even worked out a writing schedule that wouldn't (probably) kill me, and then I figured what with Labor Day being on Sept. 5 (aka my mother's 100th birthday) and my editor most likely not even thinking about reading the manuscript until Sept. 6, well, why not get it done in time for a Fall 2012 publication?

But since I haven't officially (or even unofficially) agreed to anything, there's nothing to announce.

Meanwhile on the assumptions front, my agent hasn't said anything more to me about The Offering, so I have a choice between two things to assume. Either she hasn't finished reading it or she's read it and doesn't like it and doesn't know how to tell me. I love that "doesn't like it" euphemism. What I mean is "hates it with every fiber of her being." I always assume that when I don't hear from someone past the point when I should have heard from them (that point usually being 7.3 minutes after I've sent them the manuscript). I picture the entire publishing industry whispering, "I really hate that manuscript by Susan Beth Pfeffer with every fiber of my being, but I don't know how to break it to her without destroying her frail delicate sensibilities. Oh, I know. I'll send a deer over and she can catch Lyme disease and that will distract her."

Meanwhile, Todd Strasser and I have tickets for the Thursday afternoon Rangers/Yankee game, previously known as Derek Jeter's Last Best Chance To Get His 3000th Hit At Yankee Stadium. Last year, Todd bought the tickets for the game we went to, so this year I did, and it was fun fantasizing about my investment increasing in value. But now that Jeter has an injury, the odds are Thursday's game will be just that, Thursday's game, and while Todd and I will have a great time (especially if the Yankees win), the likelihood of my selling our tickets for vast amounts of money so one of us could retire immediately and run off to Tahiti has diminished substantially.

Oh well. It's probably too warm to wear my new shirt in Tahiti!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

501 Is A Good Number For An Announcement

This is my 500th blog entry, which sounds like entirely too many, but over 4 years, that pretty much averages out to 2 a week, a socially acceptable number (or at least so I tell myself).

I had thought I'd hold off on Number 500 until I had an official announcement concerning The Shade Of The Moon, but I'm pretty much in control of when the official announcement will come, and I'm not quite ready to announce.

My publisher, the mostly lovable Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, made an offer for The Shade Of The Moon on Monday. It was, as offers go, only slightly insulting, which, my agent assures me, in this market is to be expected. So okay. I was only slightly insulted, and heaven knows, in my multi-decade career, I've been a lot more insulted on many more occasions.

The real problem (and it is a real problem) is that HMH, having taken over two months to read my two sentence synopsis (not even two sentences with big words, since I don't know any big words) thinks it would be best to publish The Shade Of The Moon in Fall 2012. And to do that, they'd need to have the manuscript in by September 1, 1011.

In other words (not the shrieking cursing kind of words, just the quietly sardonic kind), they take 2 months to read 2 sentences, and then expect me to write 300 pages (at more than 2 sentences per page) in less than 3 months.

A woman could shriek and curse. Both of which I did.

Here are the two problems with writing a 300 page book in less than 3 months. The first is I had other plans for this summer. I was going to read movie star and TV star memoirs (okay, I can probably do some of that, although I always read less when I'm writing). I was going to clear out the outside storage closet (forget that; I never do big jobs when I'm writing). I was going to wean myself off my beloved sleeping pills (totally forget that- writing gives me really serious insomnia). In other words, there goes my summer.

The other problem is that if I'm going to write a 300 page book (all right- maybe 270 pages) in such a short time, I have to know exactly what I'm going to write. It was a lot of fun doodling about with The Offering (which my agent hasn't finished reading, so don't ask where that fits into all this because neither of us know), but I wrote The Offering to distract myself from things I needed to be doing, and it didn't matter if I wrote page 116 thirty seven times (or page 37 one hundred and sixteen times- I've lost track). But with an actual already looming deadline, page 116 had better get written once, and then polished once or twice, and that's it.

Now I admit I've given The Shade Of The Moon a great deal of thought over the past couple of months (not enough thought though on what to nickname it- I guess Shade will do for the time being). I don't lack for material. Indeed, the problem is too much material, too many possible storylines, and way too much backstory. The book takes place 17 years after This World We Live In, and while I may be intrigued by every social and political development of those 17 years, that doesn't mean readers will be. Because they won't. I've learned that much over my multi-decade career.

So I have to clear out the backstory, but weave enough in so that what's going on makes sense. An incident that Juliet experiences at age 8 (to be arbitrary about it) becomes an incident Juliet witnesses at age 16.

I also have to figure out how much of the stuff I just love but doesn't really have anything to do with the book, I can use. My brain has come up with dozens of pages about Gordon Industries (one of the few businesses that has made big money off the end of civilization), but since Mom would never ever let Juliet work at Gordon Industries, what difference does it make?

And we won't even go into which important character is going to die 2/3 of the way through the book and how, because I simply don't know yet. Just that one will.

So all the material has to be absolutely clear in my mind before I agree to the slightly insulting offer. If I don't have absolute control of the plot and characters before I begin writing, then I'm not going to begin writing.

What I have been doing, to determine my control level, is writing out summaries of scenes I have in mind. I did a bunch yesterday and a few today, and intend to keep working on it, before I let my agent know whether the answer is going to be yes or no. I know some of you hate spoilers, but I figure if you go to the effort of reading any of these pages, then you deserve to be spoiled.

As it happens, Scooter loves spoilers. He takes after me that way.

So that's where things are or aren't. I'm going to do some more thinking work today and tomorrow if I need to and the weekend if I need even more time. I think I'll also start reading Sheldon Leonard's memoirs, since I may not have a chance to this summer.

When I'm ready, I'll tell my agent what I've decided. You and my publisher will find out from reading Blog Entry Number 501!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hope Is A Thing Without Calories

I just spent a wonderful, albeit fattening, weekend with three close friends, a mini-vacation in Amherst, MA. We stayed at the Black Walnut Inn (which was really nice and very comfortable and served delicious breakfasts), and we saw sights, the first, and best of which was Emily Dickinson's house (and her brother's conveniently located right next door house too). I have had some wonderful docents in my day (since I like going to historical houses, and that's where docents tend to be found), but the one we had was perhaps the best docent ever. He was articulate and knowledgeable and happy to answer questions and he even answered more of our questions in the gift shop (of course it could be he was dazzled by our charm and beauty, as we were with his).

For someone who wore white all the time and did a lot of baking, Emily Dickinson lived in a hotbed of sexual activity. Granted, it wasn't her hotbed, but it sure made learning about her a lot more interesting.

We also went to the Smith College horticultural gardens, where I practiced my flower photography skills.

I really like this picture I took of peonies, which has a real "A peony is a peony is a peony" quality to it.

The most expensive thing I bought was a pair of socks (the pair I had on kept slipping), but we did some window shopping, although when it came to ice cream and candy we smashed the metaphorical window and actually shopped.

It was great to spend time with friends and get away from home and reality for a couple of days, even though it meant I couldn't see Rafael Nadal and his rippling muscles win the French Open. And Scooter has been even more of a lunatic than usual since I got back. And the scale broke when I stood on it this morning.

I noticed when I logged on to Blogspot that this is the 499th entry I've written on this blog. I think I'll wait for something to announce for #500. My agent is reading The Offering and my publisher has been reminded a few times that they really should make up their mind about The Shade Of The Moon, and you never know what might happen that's worthy of a blog entry.

So in the meantime, thank you again for answering my birth order poll and for all your comments about birth orders, and for committing to memory all previous 499 blog entries, starting, of course, with the first!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Things One Thinks About at 4:35 AM

Are, it turns out, the things one thought about at bedtime five hours earlier. In my case last night, I was thinking about birth orders.

There's very little I really believe in, but I am a near fanatic on the subject of birth orders. Personally, I am a youngest (of two), and that wouldn't mean all that much to me except that out of about a dozen or so close friends, ten are first borns or onlies. A handful have asterisks, older or younger half siblings that might have affected family dynamics in ways I'm not privy too.

But I figured a while ago that it couldn't be coincidence so many first borns and onlies liked me, or that I selected them as friends at many different points in my life.

I respected birth order in the moon books. Miranda in Life As We Knew It and Alex in The Dead And The Gone are both middle children. I very much wanted Miranda to have a big brother she could turn to (as I turn to my big brother), and I favored the idea that she wasn't the youngest (although as the only girl, she had a different relationship than she would have as the middle child in a family of three boys). For Alex, it was really important that he wasn't the oldest. He found himself thrust into the position of being the one responsible for his two younger sisters, when that had never been his place in the family (which was to be the best and brightest, the one his mother pinned all her ambitions on).

Somewhere around 4:47 AM, I decided it would be interesting to find out from all of you what your birth order is. Polls are so cheerfully anonymous, and I don't expect to find any trends whatsoever, but I'm curious anyway. If you have any birth order comments you want to make, please do. But with or without comments, I'd love it if you place your birth order in the poll, so I can see if I'm hanging out with oldests and onlies here as well as in "real life!"