Monday, April 29, 2013

Scooter Picked The First Name And I The Other Four

The Bolivian Hat drawing of April 2013 is now history.

Okay, that's excessively dramatic, but I did want you to know the names have been drawn and the emails sent out.

I was pleased (and startled) to receive 85 emails. Thank you to everyone who contacted me. And know if I get any more ARCs of The Shade Of The Moon, I've saved all the names (they'll leave the hat in a moment and go into a sandwich bag for safekeeping) and will plop them back in the hat to see who comes out next.

Scooter will want to know too!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's A Bolivian Hat!

I could, I suppose, tell you all about the excellent time I had in San Antonio at the International Reading Association convention. I could show you pictures of the San Antonio Riverwalk, where the
flowers are blooming and late April feels like May and not March.

Yes, I could do all that. And maybe if I had a little more energy I would.

But instead, I'll tell you that at the convention, my very nice publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (who I'll love and cherish until I really go crazy waiting for my royalty check to arrive) gave me my very own Advance Reading Copy of The Shade Of The Moon.

Shortly after I came home, my friend the UPS man arrived, bringing me a package containing five more ARCs. Naturally I posed them in front of the forsythia Marci was nice enough to leave for me.
Just as naturally, Scooter came over to inspect them.

Since I already have an ARC and don't need five more, I've decided to offer them to you.

On the assumption that maybe more than five people will want one, I will choose at random five people to send them to.

Here's what you will need to do:

Email me over at and tell me you'd like one of the ARCs. If you are under 18, get your parent's permission to email me (a total stranger), especially since if you're selected, I'll be sending the ARC to your home, and we don't want your parent to be upset or concerned when the package shows up. If you're over 18, you're on your own.

Where was I? Oh yes. You email me, and then I copy your email address on a slip of paper and I put the slip of paper into the Bolivian hat, which my friend Christy bought me during our brief but memorable stay in La Paz, Bolivia.

Oops. It will work better if the Bolivian Hat is upside down.
I'll select five email addresses extremely randomly (I even close my eyes while doing so), and if you're one of the five, I'll email you and ask you for your home address and who you'd like to have the ARC inscribed to (along with the "Accept the impossible" part, which works pretty well, except it takes a lot of space, so I have to remember to start it closer to the left side of the page). And then off the ARC will go.
Since not everyone who reads this blog reads it the instant it gets published. I'll do the drawing on Monday, April 29, so if your email gets to me by then, it'll be in the hat along with everyone else's. And don't worry if you're from somewhere other than the USA. This drawing is open to everyone on the Planet Earth.
I don't know if I'll be getting any more ARCs (the five that arrived yesterday were a very pleasant surprise). It could be that after the American Library Association conference in late June. I might be able to scrounge a few more, in which case, I'll do a second drawing then. But don't count on that, so if you're interested, email me before Monday.
And if you're not interested, keep it to yourself. The Bolivian hat is very sensitive!
ETA because I just realized I should ETA the following: If you get selected, there's no cost. I pay the postage. And don't expect to hear back from me unless your email is randomly selected, in which case you will hear back from me when I ask you where to send the ARC.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sometimes The Lines Simply Aren't Parallel

This has been a very difficult week for many people and places in America, the bombings in Boston, the explosion in West, Texas, the NRA's ownership of the United States Senate. Terrible things happen in the world all the time, but they don't hit us (or at least me) in the face the way these events have.

But as it happens, this was a really good week for me. A lot of nice things happened, and I've been reluctant to post about them for fear of seeming insensitive. But I'm off to San Antonio tomorrow, and when I get back, I'll probably be excited and exhausted and this week will seem like a long time ago.

So I'm going to tell you about the good things. I'll start with the personal stuff and then move to the professional stuff. If you're not in the mood for my good news, then wave goodbye and I'll see you next week, when I hope things will be calmer in the real world.

Okay. Personal good news.

Mostly it's my mother. Things are better with her. Things are never perfect with a 101 with dementia, but the situation which had my brother and Marci and me so concerned has definitely changed for the better.

Also, I saw my doctor for my official Now I'm An Old Person Visit (the sole purpose of which seemed to be to give me a pneumonia vaccine shot), and I talked to my doctor about my late lamented thyroid. She said it takes 6 months for the body to adapt to the loss thereof, and if my weight is still a concern to me, I can talk to Dr. Thyroid about changing dosages of medication. So I feel better about that (she also very sweetly claimed she couldn't see the weight gain on me).

On a sentimental note, today is the fourth anniversary of Scooter's adoption of me. Notice what four years of Scooterhood has done to my sofa.
Obviously, he has worked out his escape route.
Scooter is the most difficult, demanding, insecure, noisiest cat I've ever had. But as you all know, I'm crazy about him.
Onto the professional good news.
I had a great time with the Kirkus interview. The young man who interviewed me had read The Shade Of The Moon. I realized that except for my editor, he's the first person I've had contact with who had actually read it, and my editor has never told me what she likes about it, just offered suggestions about what I could do to make it better. In a few months, any number of people will have read it (and, I hope, like it) but it was genuinely exciting to talk to a person who had.
I'm having centering problems here. I think the best thing to do is ignore them and hope you do the same.
I got an email from my agent's assistant telling me we had an offer for the audiobook rights for The Shade Of The Moon. I was delighted to accept. Audible will be the publisher and I'm curious already about how Jon is going to sound.
It occurred to me this week to check out the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's catalog page about The Shade Of The Moon and I was delighted to see what their promotion is going to be. I don't know what a "survival kit" is, but I must have one.
And, there's going to be a display unit. My recollection is I tried to find one of those for This World We Live In and never did, but I love the fact the publisher thinks it's worth doing again.
Finally, I got one of the nicest presents I've ever had the privilege of receiving this week, a truly beautiful painting by a young reader, inspired by Life As We Knew It.

I placed it where I can look at it all the time from my reading chair in the den.

I'm sure you think this is enough good news for anybody, and you'd be right. Besides, I have packing to do and a morning flight to catch.

I'll let you know how things go in San Antonio next week. In the meantime, I hope all your news is as good as mine, although without a mistaken for a scratching post sofa!

ETA: My editor just sent me the very first review of The Shade Of The Moon, from Kirkus itself, and it's a very good one!

Four years ago, a meteor crashed into the moon, altering the Earth’s gravity; the world is an ever-bleaker place in this fourth of Pfeffer’s gripping series.

Seventeen-year-old Jon Evans, the younger brother of Miranda, protagonist in two of the earlier novels, lives with his stepmother and half brother in an enclave called Sexton. After countless natural disasters and proliferating disease, humanity is now plagued by rigidly cruel class stratification, in which a person is either a respected “claver” or a disdained “grub,” a system so ingrained that Jon struggles to understand whether or not he thinks it is right. Featuring a plot that delivers twist after twist, this is a vivid take on the man-as-monster theme common to the genre. While the individual relationships depicted at times stray into melodrama, there is a persistent undercurrent of dread running throughout due to the novel’s realistic portrayals of mob violence and bigotry. Short, dated excerpts from Jon’s third-person perspective lack the immediacy of the epistolary style employed in the installments narrated by Miranda, but they do a fine job of illustrating a young man in a moral quandary.

Action-packed and completely unpredictable, this latest will be widely anticipated by the series’ many fans. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 14 & up)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Traveling Through Time

A couple of nights ago, a story idea sneaked into my brain, and I lost a fair amount of sleep working on it. Thanks to Scooter's morning effusiveness, sleeping in has become a lost art, but since I refuse to get out of bed before 7 AM, and since after his ten minutes of ecstasy, Scooter falls back asleep and I can't, I played with the idea some more.

Playing with an idea is completely different from writing a book. I've been playing with an idea for a book that wouldn't even be all that hard to write for months now, and I haven't noticed myself scurrying to the computer and setting up a brand new doc.

But I do love playing with ideas, so I've been letting myself enjoy this one. I'll tell you this much about it- it's a time travel story.

I love the idea of time travel stories. I can't say I've read many of them. Actually I'm hard pressed to remember any I've read. Now that I think about it, I haven't even seen that many time travel movies, Back To The Future and Time After Time and I think I saw the Bing Crosby Connecticut Yankee a long long time ago. Of course there was the Star Trek episode where they go back to the 1930s, and I've probably seen some others I can't remember anymore.

Here are all possible time travel variants with the main character doing the traveling:

The main character travels through time from the present to the future.

The main character travels through time from the present to the past.

The main character travels through time from the future to the present.

The main character travels through time from the future to the past.

The main character travels through time from the past to the future which could be some other time in the past but not the past for the main character to whom what we think of as the past is the future to that character if you know what I mean. And I suppose a different main character could travel from the future to the past which could be our future but would be the past to the main character if the main character lives far enough in the future that the past for the main character is still our future.

And yes, you will be tested on that.

My idea involved the main character traveling from the future to our present, or maybe a year or two after our present, but basically our present, which would be the main character's past.

One of the tricky things about plotting a story where the main character (hereafter to be known as MC) travels from the future to our present is that anything MC does could change everything that happens in the world afterwards, which is fine for you and me, since we're here already, but could really mess up MC's genetic code, ultimately rendering MC not MC. This is a variant of traveling through time to keep Abraham Lincoln from getting assassinated, which sounds like a good idea on paper, but who knows what happens to the good old US of A without the fabulous presidency of Andrew Johnson.

So if MC travels from future to present and swats the wrong mosquito, then MC would cease to exist, at least in the world MC originally came from. In which case, if MC has gone back in time for a specific purpose, MC can never return to MC's present (our future) to find out if the mission was successful. Which is a darn shame.

Now I'm not opposed to writing darn shame endings, but even I can see how frustrating that would be for readers, especially since MC could succeed in the mission and things could become much worse as a result, but we'll never know.

The story I've been playing with MC is definitely sent on a mission intended to change the course of history, so swatting the right mosquito is an absolute requirement. But swatting that mosquito would guarantee changing MC's genetic code, so there's no MC unless MC stays in the traveled to time. I suppose there's a way of transforming that into a happy ending, but to me it would feel like being marooned, since I really like being home where I know things are and can master new skills like cheating at FreeCell. Then again, my home is much nicer than MC's, so maybe readers would be happy for MC after all.

I sincerely hope you've followed all this, because it's getting very close to my bedtime and I'm not going to reread this entry. The odds on my writing the Saga Of MC are about 1 in a 100, but if I do, I'll let you know. In the meantime, it's fun to think about while Scooter is sleeping, which is what I intend on doing any minute now myself.

Good night, past, present and future!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Other Words Rhyming With Fall Include Stall, Crawl and Maul

I woke up Monday morning, and I said to Scooter (who was the reason I woke up Monday morning at 4:30 AM, 5:30 AM, 6:30 AM and 7:30 AM), "It's Monday morning. I wonder what good news I'll hear this week."

Scooter's idea of good news is, "The human is alive and going to feed me, and I only had to wake it up with my obsessive purring four times."

One of us is never disappointed. I, on the other hand, was forced to acknowledge that I hadn't had a single piece of good news the week before.

Now, by good news, I don't mean things that are actual good news for many, like an uptick in the stock market or the Knicks' 12 game win streak. I don't even mean Scooter forgetting to wake me up at 4:30 AM, although trust me, that's cause for celebration. No, I mean professional good news. Unexpected checks are the best of the best good news, but I'm not fussy. I gladly accept good news in small, medium or large formats.

I'd had a streak of one piece of good news each week for a few glorious and unexpected weeks. There was learning I was going to go to IRA and learning I was going to go to ALA and learning I was going to go to the Decatur Book Festival. There was learning my Chinese publisher was going to publish The Shade Of The Moon. Now that I think about it, those pieces of good news didn't exactly happen one week, then the next, then the next, and then the next. They were spread out, and maybe there were a few weeks without any good news at all, but I had the holidays to blame for that. And the weather. I can always blame the weather. It's almost replaced George Bush as my go to blame station, what with March lasting about 7 and a half weeks around here.

There were no checks in the mail on Monday (no bills either, which was good, since I'd spent many hours on Sunday paying bills and it would have been a tad aggravating if a brand new bill had shown up). I did get my hotly anticipated box of DVDs from my formerly beloved Deep Discount, who I reconciled with when I found its prices were lower than Amazon's for the DVDs I absolutely had to have once I found out they existed*), but a check would have been nice.

But before I had a chance to mourn the lack of checks in the mailbox (a Monday tradition), I found an email from my publisher. A good news email, telling me that Kirkus wanted to phone interview me next week for an article about 12 different writers and was I willing?

Willing? Willing to be interviewed for an article in Kirkus?

Yes, yes, I emailed back. Yes, yes, yes. I might have even thrown in a Yes! in my excitement. Here was my good news for the week, and on a Monday to boot.

But then I thought about it. Why would Kirkus want to interview me? Granted, I'm not the queen of modesty, but fabulous as I might be, I didn't see why Kirkus would be interested in me just now. Or ever, if you want to be technical about it.

So I emailed my publisher and said, Are you sure Kirkus meant me? I figured that was a good way to word it, in case what had happened was Kirkus had said to my publisher, "We want to interview that incredibly famous author ______ ______," and my publisher instead of hearing the incredibly famous author's name, heard mine, or maybe hadn't heard mine, but sent me the email meant to be sent to the incredibly famous author by mistake.

No, no, my publisher emailed me back. It's you they want to interview, along with the other 11 writers, because they're writing an article about the big books for fall.

That's what the email actually said, "big books for fall." Not "big books that fall" or "big books that fail" or even "formerly smaller book writers that bawl because they've gained 6 pounds since the tragic loss of their thyroid."

My good news for the week promptly doubled up. Kirkus wants to interview me and it regards The Shade Of The Moon as one of the big books for fall. And next week is already covered, because being interviewed is exciting and flattering and I'll be off to San Antonio for IRA that Saturday, and the week after is covered because that Sunday I'll be in San Antonio for IRA, and by the time I get home from San Antonio, it'll be royalty check season, and I'll have several weeks of obsessing over the size of the where is it already royalty check to keep me occupied.

Now, if I can only get Scooter to sleep like this at 5:30 AM, life will truly be perfect!

*Naked City 20 Star-Filled Episodes, The Man In The Net, Inferno, and Heaven With A Barbed Wire Fence

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'm Alive. Crazed But Alive,

I would have let you know yesterday except I haven't been able to get onto BlogSpot. I don't even know if this will post, but at least I got this far.

We can thank the fine folk at Road Runner and the even finer Marci for this level of success.

I'll keep things brief and to the point*. I'm here. I'm alive. Tuesday I went to the movies and saw Admission, which I definitely enjoyed. Yesterday I went to New York City and saw a preview of The Big Knife, which I definitely enjoyed (all the women in it were great, and all the scenery chewing guys were also great).

Today, Marci and Carol and I are going to have lunch with my mother. Then my brother is coming up and he and Marci and I are going to the quarterly Meeting About My Mother. Usually I go by myself to these things, because usually they're kind of routine. But we've had some concerns that we don't feel are being properly addressed, so we're all going to be there. My wildest hope is I'll keep my big mouth shut and let Alan (beloved son) and Marci (beloved friend) do the heavy shrieking. Given that neither of them are shriekers, this is putting a lot of faith in them. But we're all on the same side (my mother's nursing home isn't the enemy- they do a wonderful job- but we think certain things need to be handled differently, and I can't make the case without shrieking).

Earlier today, I uninstalled whole bunches of things from the computer (at Marci's suggestion), which I hope will enable me to keep this computer and my sanity just a little while longer. I don't know what's going to happen with the printer, since I slammed it a few (dozen) times, and it seems to have gotten into quite a snip over it. No Rhianna, my printer.

Last night, after gulping a sleeping pill or two, I came up with what I sincerely hope is the absolute final decision on what I'll inscribe in each and every copy of The Shade Of The Moon. Before then, I'd been favoring: Reach for your goals, which I kind of liked because Jon plays soccer, so there was a clever play on words there. The problem was multifold. First, it doesn't mean anything. Secondly, it sounds like "Reach for your gun". But most importantly, it turns out my small "g" looks like an "s" and when the "a" and the "d" and the "s" run together, it looked like "Reach for your soda" which isn't what I mean at all, and Mayor Bloomburg wouldn't like one little bit.

Anyway, this morning I remembered having come up with something last night, and because even under the influence of a sleeping pill, I know to write these things down, I found what I'd written and I still like it: Accept the impossible

It doesn't have enormous amounts to do with the book itself, but it's better than my fabulous generic Take time to dream, which is a really bad idea with this book, since all of Jon's dreams are nightmares.

But "Accept the impossible" covers all four of the moon books, and since the other three inscriptions involve hope, faith and trust, acceptance makes a lot of sense. And except for my "the" problem, which looks like "Xe" it should be relatively easy to read. So unless you hear otherwise, that's what I'm going with.

Tomorrow, assuming the computer is still working and the printer either forgives me or can be ignored (I don't print all that much), I'm going to clean the apartment and buy groceries, and do some final final final, I sincerely hope final, rewrites on The Shade Of The Moon which my editor emailed me about yesterday, only I explained that I was going to NYC to the theater and today was to be devoted to mother stuff. I didn't mention writing this blog entry, but I knew I wanted to, and now, I hope, oh how I hope, I've succeeded.

If you hear some Hall Of Fame shrieking from around here, you'll know I failed!

*It could be argued this has been neither brief nor to the point. But, if you think about it, believing that I will ever be brief and to the point is definitely accepting the impossible!