Wednesday, September 28, 2011

May We All Have A Happy And Healthy New Year

Tonight begins Rosh Hashanah for the year 5772.

Speaking only for myself, 5771 was a complicated year, certainly filled with its share of joy and celebration, but maybe a little more difficulty and aggravation than I would have cared for.

You'd think after 5771 years, they'd have worked out the all pleasure no pain concept.

But until they do...have a wonderful new year, filled with good news, good ideas, and good times!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Discussion Topics For Life As We Knew It, The Dead And The Gone, and This World We Live In

When I was writing Life As We Knew It, I fantasized about its being used in book discussion groups. To my delight, after it was published, I found that to be the case.

I thought it might be interesting if someone were looking for book discussion topics about any of the moon books to get some ideas from their author (aka Me). So last night I worked on it, and came up with 5 discussion topics for each of the three books. Feel free to use them or to use them as starting off points or to refuse to use them because your own ideas are better!

Life As We Knew It

1. Does Miranda's family do enough to survive? Is there anything else you can think of to do that they didn't?

2. Matt, Miranda, and Jonny are all athletes. Do you think that helped them? If so, how?

3. What everyday thing would you miss the most? What would you be most worried about?

4. How would things have been different in Mom hadn't made them stockpile all the groceries and supplies on Crazy Shopping Day?

5. Did Miranda skate with Brandon? What do you think the author thinks?*

* The author thinks they did skate. She was actually surprised when she learned some people thought it was a fantasy. Then she reread the book and discovered Miranda wasn't so sure herself!

The Dead And The Gone

1. Alex has an older brother Carlos who is in the Marines. How would the book have been different if Carlos were still at home?

2. New York City was being kept alive so valuable books, paintings, and documents could be saved. If you could save something that represents the world you know, what would it be?

3. Would you have sent Bri to the farm? Would you have let your aunt and uncle take Julie?

4. Alex learns there are places rich and powerful families can go to. Do you think there's a way of saving everybody in such a disaster? If not, who would you protect?

5. Are Alex's parents still alive? What do you think the author thinks?**

** Sadly, the author thinks both Mami and Papi are dead. She was actually surprised to learn some readers thought one or both might still be alive.

This World We Live In

1. Miranda learns that Dad and Lisa wanted her to go with them when they made their abortive trip out west. What might have happened to her if she'd gone?

2. Electricity comes on long enough for Mom to play some music. If you hadn't been able to listen to music for months, what would you play?

3. How would the book have been different if Matt hadn't brought Syl home?

4. Miranda takes on the responsibility of what to do with Julie. What would you have done?

5. The book ends with the characters starting their journey to Tennessee. What do you think happens to them?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yay! An Excellent Review For Blood Wounds

My editor forwarded this review to me just now, and I love it!

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books - Oct. 2011

Pfeffer, Susan Beth Blood Wounds. 
Harcourt, 2011 256p ISBN 978-0-547-49638-2 16.99
Reviewed from galleys  

R r. 8-12

"We’re a happy family,” states Willa’s stepfather, Jack, and Willa agrees. Or she thinks she does at the time, but soon her blended family is thrown into chaos: Budge, the father that sixteen-year-old Willa barely remembers, goes on a murderous rampage, killing Willa’s never-met half-sisters and finally being shot dead himself by the police. Willa horrifies her family by traveling back to small-town Texas for the memorial and to learn about the relatives she never knew, and in the process she finds herself questioning the price of her seeming family happiness.

Pfeffer’s had some interesting science-fiction explorations lately (Life As We Knew It, BCCB 12/06),but this is a return to her classic form, with headline-worthy melodrama a vehicle for exploring family dynamics widespread even in more ordinary households. Willa’s dawning understanding that she’s been “Quiet-Never-Make-A-Fuss Willa,” going along with her mother’s acceptance of the fierce inequities of her household in order to keep the family together, unfolds subtly but effectively.

Pfeffer avoids reductivity, however, making it clear that Willa’s mother and stepsisters have paid their own price for the family bargain, with unfairness being spread around so thoroughly the situation almost comes back around to being fair. There’s also the looming tacit reminder, in Budge’s truly horrific crime, that there are worse things than having fewer advantages than one’s stepsisters.

The sheer drama of the plot will draw readers, and they’ll stay for an insightful exploration of the way families go both right and wrong. DS

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's Done Is Done And Cannot Be Undone (Except When You Play Free Cell)

Not having heard yet from my editor about The Shade Of The Moon (notice how I cleverly avoid beginning this blog entry with a certain pronoun I'm unduly fond of) I (there it is) have been keeping busy with jobs that must be done.

The most important of said jobs (am I in a classy mood or what) was clearing out my mother's apartment. Fortunately for me, and thanks in part to the power of my whining, my brother and my friend Marci did more than their share (well, Marci didn't have to do any, but did because she's a good and true friend). Thursday morning I'll officially turn the keys over. Then I'll go to my mother's room and swap her clean clothes for dirty ones. Apartments come and go but laundry is forever.

I've also spent a certain amount of time marvelling at my goddaughter Allison's new business. Allison is a national award winning cheese maker, and already quite a number of restaurants and gourmet shops are carrying her Ricotta.

When I'm not doing my mother's laundry or cheering Allison on or winning at Free Cell (thanks to the Undo button, I have a 281 game winning streak), I've been cleaning out the outside storage closet (aka The VCR Burial Ground). One of the things I took from my mother's apartment was her paper shredder, and for a while I was shredding old electric bills and the suchlike. Eventually I got bored with shredding and simply dumped all the old bills at the neighborhood recycling center (for any of you interested in stealing my identity the papers are on the bottom of Bin Number 2).

But in the midst of all the old bills, I found my even older account books. I recycled the pages devoted to how much I spent on electricty, but I kept the ones that had the records of my (pathetic) earnings. Here's how I did in 1977-79:

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to find out I'd earned royalties for Whatever Words You Want To Hear. As you can see from its current one cent pricetag, it wasn't the most successful of my books.

Let's hope my current books do a tad better. I enjoy being able to spend money!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blood Wounds Is Now Published

Today is the official publication date for my newest book Blood Wounds.

I read a blog review that said Blood Wounds is a love it or hate it kind of a book. Personally, I love it and I hope you'll at least like it.

Amazon likes it. They named it one of their best YA novels for the month of September.

As my way of showing my appreciation for your support, I had new bookplates created just for Blood Wounds. If you'd like one, for yourself or your library or your bookstore, email me with your name and mailing address (and if you need multiple ones let me know). I'll sign it and off it will go.

It's an exciting day for me. But I am kind of sorry to say goodbye to the countdown clock!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Dead And The Gone Is Alive And Right Here

I'm pleased to report that my copy of Chroniques De La Fin Du Monde L'Exil arrived the other day.

I have every reason to believe it's a Poche Roman. Which kind of sounds like it should be a character on Happy Days.

Thanks to the back of the jacket, I know what the French version of This World We Live In will look like, a stress reducer right there.

Naturally all the versions of The Dead And The Gone decided to get together. I did what I could to help them along.

Scooter did his part as well.

For a book with such a sad title, these are happy days indeed!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September First Fell On A September This Year

I am very impressed with September's ability to fight off August's efforts to appropriate a few of its days. Bravo September, plucky 30 day month.

September is always a significant month in the Pfeffer family, since it hosts my mother's birthday (100 years of birthdays to be celebrated Monday Sept. 5) and my brother's birthday, and my parents' wedding anniversary. In addition, my father had emergency open heart surgery on Sept. 7 and regarded that as a second birthday. I used to spend a lot of money in September on gifts.

Speaking of my mother and my parents' anniversary, my job for September is to clear out my mother's apartment. She has made the official move to the Health Center, where people look after her and bring her three meals a day and comment regularly about how cute she is.

Clearing her apartment out is a good stress reducing job for me, since it distracts me from thinking about my editor reading The Shade Of The Moon. My editor had been under the impression that August had an extra 5-7 days attached to it, so she was taken by surprise when the book arrived on schedule.

My new term for The Shade Of The Moon is domestic dystopian, and my new excuse for anything my editor might object to is, "It's all Princess Summerfallwinterspring's fault!" I always like being blameless.

Back to my mother's apartment, which is where I'll be going back to soon enough. We have 30 days minus 2 at this point to clear it out. It's not that bad a job, because my mother had done a great deal of downsizing throughout the years, so it's not like an 8 room house with a hundred years of memories. And there are the hidden treasures that make this sort of job worth doing. I have found over $1.57 in loose change already (I think it was $1.58, but I didn't count the pennies too carefully). We found some kind of silver coin collectible that my brother priced on the open market, and if the market is open enough, we stand to make at least $12 from it. And my mother has an extraordinary collection of slipper socks from her various stays in hospitals. Green and grey are the favored colors.

What I did find are my parents' ledger books from the time of their engagement and marriage. Apparently they wrote down every penny they spent on groceries. Boy, did they use a lot of butter. My mother said she gained 20 pounds that first year of marriage, and now I know why. The ledgers were kept in marble composition books, full of useful information on the back. The English pound sterling was worth $4.86.65 and 24 sheets of paper=1 quire. Who knew?

Here's a list of purchases my parents made to set up their kitchen. Notice how they bought two different kinds of can openers and a flashlight. They knew someday their daughter was going to write Life As We Knew It, and encourage those kinds of purchases to people around the world (granted, not including their daughter, who waited about five years after the publication of her novel to buy a flashlight to call her own).

Now if only I could find that 10 cent square grater. I'm certain it could bring in at least 2 bucks on eBay!