Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thank You

I just want to thank the 217 people who voted in the poll (far more than I ever thought would) and the 60 or so people who were kind enough to leave comments. If I'm ever feeling blue about my life or my career, I'll reread those comments and cheer myself right up.

I emailed my editor a couple of mornings ago to let her know about the poll, and she responded very quickly to say how impressed she was at the number of people who had voted and who had left comments.

An idea for a possible fourth book has been floating around in my mind. If Houghton Mifflin Harcourt indicates they're interested, and if the idea stops floating long enough for me to work it through, I'll certainly let you know.

Thank you again. I know how fortunate I am to have you interested in my books, and I am very very grateful.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Should There Be A Fourth Moon Book?

Personally, I have no idea.

So I've set up a poll to learn what you think. It's pretty simple- you either vote Yes or No.

Then again, if not many people vote, that's kind of a No in and of itself.

Either way, I'll let my editor know how the vote goes. And thank you for your thoughts and opinions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Paperback Of This World We Live In Has Arrived!

In my apartment, at least. Ten copies last night by way of UPS.

Like all proud (yet humble) authors, I immediately pulled out my contract to see what my royalty rate is. I get (or will get is a tad more accurate) 7% on the list price of $8.99 (writers are among the very few people in this world who actually like inflation). Out of deference to my limited mathematical skills, I round $8.99 to $9 and times it by .07, and the next thing I know, I anticipate getting at least 63 cents in royalties (I mean someone is going to buy a copy someday somehow probably).

63 cents will buy a can of cat food for Scooter with a couple of cents to spare. That's all he cares about.

Anyway, I love how the book looks, and I especially love the front cover which includes my ever favorite designation: The New York Times Best-Selling Author. And I super especially love the quote: "The Ultimate Dystopian. A Very Exciting Read!" credited (quite properly) to Good Morning America.

No new arrival is complete without a family get-together, so here they are, the hardcovers and paperbacks of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt editions of Life As We Knew It, The Dead And The Gone and This World We Live In.

May they all earn me at least 63 cents. Scooter has a very big appetite!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Get A Life (As We Knew It)

Recently, one of the many anonymous souls who leave comments on this blog (and I love each and every anonymous one of you)suggested, not unkindly, that I get a life.

I gave this some thought and decided I wouldn't know what to do with a life if I got one. Or worse yet, what if the life I got wasn't as good as the life I sort of have.

Not that this past week's life has been particularly easy. I had printer problems and computer problems, and had a glass bottle in my bathroom shatter into a zillion dangerous pieces (the bathroom being a place both Scooter and I walk around barefoot in). Speaking of Scooter, he has now figured out an extortion racket. If I don't play with him and his new favorite toy, he attacks me until in self-defense I get the toy and start playing. Since Scooter can play with this toy (and me) for an hour straight, and since it involves the use of my right hand, it's getting very tricky to get work done on the never ending Hart manuscript. Which I would really like to end. I'm expending far too much energy on a book that may never see publication.

Hey, with all that energy, maybe I could get a life. There's got to be a fun one around somewhere.

On a considerably cheerier note, Jason's Bookstack was kind enough to interview me. And I got my copy of Chroniques De La Fin Du Monde Au Commencement, and learned, just as I expected, that Lisa est enceinte.
As is my wont, I brought the newest LAWKI over to meet its family.

And as is Scooter's wont, he decided to help with the reunion.

Now if he would only help me get a life!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Think Of It As Free Advertising

There's a Supermoon coming on Saturday.

Let's hope it inspires lots and lots of sales of Life As We Knew It, The Dead And The Gone, and This World We Live In.

Okay. I may be the only one hoping, so I'll hope enough for all of us!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Three And A Half Questions You Alone Know The Answers To

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about writing, and in the course of the conversation I came up with three and a half questions that I think might be helpful to anyone working on a writing project (book, story, script, etc.).

My friend liked the questions too (or at least she likes me and pretended to like the questions). So here they are:

1 and 1/2: Who is the person you picture reading your book and why is that person reading it?

2: If you were pitching your book to a movie producer, what is the one scene you'd use to sell the idea?

3. What was the Wow! I Want To Write That moment when you were working on your story?

I can probably answer all these questions about all my books (at least my books I remember writing, which at this point is no longer all of them). For the moon books, par example*, I pictured a young teenager reading the book for the fun people get from living vicariously. Any of you who aren't young teenagers or who are reading the books because they're homework assignments or who care deeply about the characters are simply wonderful bonuses as far as I'm concerned.

As far as pitching a scene goes, I immediately thought of the Yankee Stadium scene in The Dead And The Gone.**

Finally my Wow moment with Life As We Knew It was the immediate rush I felt at the concept: What would it be like to be a teenager living through a world wide catastrophe? For d&g, it was all of that with the additional twist of not knowing if the people you love most are alive or dead. And for This World We Live In, I felt an enormous sense both of Wow and relief when I realized Alex could show up in Miranda's home, rather than trying to work out a way where they'd meet on the road.

So there they are, my three and a half questions. These are all just focus questions, but it's really easy to lose focus when you've been working on a writing project for a long time.

Have fun answering them about your own work!

* Notice that little bit of French? It allowed me to avoid using the word "for" twice in a single sentence. Not to mention how classy it is.

** Pitching a scene about Yankee Stadium is a tres clever play on words.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The French Have Two Words For It

I'd been wondering why CHRONIQUES DE LA FIN DU MONDE Au Commencement had gotten off to such a strong start on French Amazon. Even though it has an absolutely gorgeous cover and a very sexy title, if you don't know the book exists, you're not going to shop for it online.

Well, thanks to the miracle of modern post office technology (the mail being delivered on Saturdays) and to my courageous willingness to get dressed on Sunday and walk over to my mailbox, my questions have been answered.

My new favorite publisher Pocket Jeunesse put in a two page, front and inside cover, ad for their French translation of Life As We Knew It (known forever more as La LAWKI in the French daily giveaway Direct Matin on LUNDI 7 MARS 2011.

Naturellement, je suis tres heureuse (at least I hope that's what I am)!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'll Take Suffering Succotash for 400, Alex

Google, bless its little heart, was kind enough to send me this after the fact writeup of the Morton Grove, IL Life As We Knew It book discussion avec Jeopardy event:

How Annuities Work | Calendar10 hours ago by Admin

R.E.A.D.: Read, Eat, and Discuss, a teenager book deliberation will examination Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer at 7 p.m. Feb. 28. Share your thoughts on the book, fool around Jeopardy and suffer food and drinks. ...

Trust me, nobody suffers like I suffer, but I don't want any of you to suffer (who needs the competition), so I posted the fabulous LAWKI Jeopardy game on a different site. I hope this one will work for all of you.

Did you notice that subtle bit of French up above? That one year of high school French has made it much easier for me to follow the French version of LAWKI over at Amazon France. Of course by the time you hit that link, it'll probably have an Amazon ranking of 1,922,472,183, but it's been delightfully under 1000 for most of today (it made it into the 200s this morning, which I think is the best ranking any LAWKI in any language has ever had).

Okay. Now that I think about it, I don't have that much worth suffering over. But that's never kept me from trying!

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'll Take Disasters For 800, Alex

When I was writing Life As We Knew It, not knowing if it would ever be published, I fantasized about book clubs using it for discussions. It just felt like a book clubby kind of book to me, which given that I'm not a member of any book clubs is further proof of my fervid imagination.

Then LAWKI got published, and indeed book clubs did start using it. Local book club discussions I heard about because I was local (I still am local as well as being loco, but alas, I'm not low cal). For information about book club discussions in the rest of the world, I depended, as I so often do, on Google.

Recently Google was kind enough to inform me that the Morton Grove Public Library in Morton Grove, IL would be discussing LAWKI, complete with snacks and Jeopardy.

Well, snacks I'm used to. But a Life As We Knew It Jeopardy game sounded too wonderful to miss. So I googled around until I could find an email address for the Morton Grove Public Library Youth Services Dept. and when I did, I emailed and begged. Okay. I begged for snacks while I was at it, but mostly I begged for the Jeopardy questions. I used as my chief begging points the fact that librarians and teachers do drop by here on occasion, loooking for ideas, and I knew they'd love a LAWKI Jeopardy game. Just maybe I mentioned I'd love one too.

The Young Adult Librarian was extremely kind and generous and sent me the Jeopardy questions. I played the entire game and only got a couple wrong.

I bet I would have done better if I'd had a snack.

Anyway, here is Life As We Knew It Jeopardy.

Eat your heart out, Watson!

ETA: I have now loaded the game onto Twitter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The American Idol Mute Button Hart Outline

Taking Hart

Much to my surprise I'm back at work on Hart.

Well, work might be overstating it, since I think I'll go to the movies today and tomorrow my friend Cynthia is taking me to look for eagles and Thursday my mother and I go visit Dr. Thyroid. But yesterday I actually did some writing, and I guess that constitutes work.

When I decided to take a break from the book, I kind of figured the break would be permanent. But within a couple of days, my brain was back to trying to solve the problems, and now I think maybe I have.

What I knew worked about Hart was the basic premise and roughly the second half of the book. But I also knew I had one big problem and two very big problems that were killing the first half and weakening the second.

The big problem had to do with character motivation. Hart has a non-reality based premise, but even so, the characters are human beings for the most part, and have to behave in believable fashion. It is always a bad sign when I have to convince myself that the characters are behaving realistically, and I found I was doing a lot of self-convincing. Much of last week's brain process was devoted to making sense of what the characters were doing, and I think that's pretty well taken care of.

The lesser of the very big problems was a logistical one, and frankly it's not totally solved yet. There's an enormous amount of backstory. Rachel, my heroine, knows things the readers don't, and Hart, the love interest, knows things Rachel has to learn. Mostly people find out stuff from other people telling them, and that means a lot of talky scenes. Now I adore writing talky scenes, but editors aren't so crazy about them.

The other way readers learn things that characters already know is through flashbacks. Once again, I adore writing flashbacks, but editors aren't so crazy about them. And even if you use flashbacks, you have to find a way to weave them into the story. Otherwise they're just giant chunks of interruption.

I am now limiting the flashback scenes to three parts, all of which should be either scary or upsetting or both. I'm still having a little trouble with whether to reveal them chronologically or go from worse to worser to worsest. If you think of them in alphabetical order, that's CAB, as opposed to ABC for chronological or even CBA for reverse chronological. I need to work that out.

As far as Rachel learning things from Hart, as of the moment Hart's going to have to tell her. Maybe I'll be able to do something more with the sacrifice in the woods scene, or maybe Rachel could have a dream/vision (she's good at that), but even so, Hart's going to have to confirm stuff. Oh well. I'll worry about that when the time comes.

The biggest very big problem is that Rachel is for the most part a victim, and it's surprisingly hard to write a book from a victim's point of view and have the readers care about the main character. Victims are very irritating. You want to yell at them to shape up, fight back, don't take it anymore. One reason the end of Hart works is because at the end Rachel does fight back (in a delightfully noirish way), but she suffers entirely too much before she gets to that point. And the suffering that takes place in the first half weakens the suffering that takes place in the second.

So I have to have Rachel in a place where the readers understand that she's been forced by her life into accepting unacceptable things, but still show the readers that she's capable of feeling pleasure and excitement and anger. In effect, Rachel's been brainwashed, but the book has shown too much of the wash and not enough of the brain.

So that's where things are now. I'm giving serious consideration to watching American Idol tonight so I can do yet another outline. You can get a lot of work done during American Idol, especially, if like me, you mostly watch it with the sound off.

I should be all right. Just as long as I can hold off the Simon Cowell flashbacks!