Friday, December 19, 2014

News News News

It's been a very newsy week here at Casa King.
I'm going to dole out news in little tasty morsels, though, because I don't want you to eat too much at one time. That's why I can't eat bananas anymore. I once ate too many of them and now my body just says "No thank you" which is a real bummer because I really love bananas.

ANYWAY.

This sunday the New York Times Book Review will publish a review of Glory O'Brien's History of the Future written by Rick Yancey. But you don't have to wait for Sunday.

You can read it here.

If you're not the type to click on delicious links, then here's an excerpt.
"Maybe there are writers more adept than King at capturing the outrageous and outraged voice of teenagers, but it’s difficult to think of one. Her Glory is a wondrous creation, sarcastic, witty, sensitive, insightful, the kind of girl other girls (O.K., guys too) wish they were (or, probably more likely and more often than is the case, think they are)."
Now I will go eat Mexican food.

Hey Mom! I'm in the New York Times!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Okay, six really is a magic number

I don't get it.
I just sit here and write what comes out of my head and some people seem to really dig what I do. This is really cool. And I'm not sure why, but I'm unable to process this. Even though I record these sorts of events or milestones with you--here in public--I don't really let them sink in. I'm just a lady in a room typing what comes to me.

So if you dig what I do, thank you. I really enjoy doing what I do.
We're a perfect match.

In this week's good news department, Glory O'Brien's History of the Future landed on the Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014 list. That's always really sweet.

Also in this week's news was a sixth starred trade review for GLORY (I told you I'd get sick of typing that whole title) from the lovely people at The Horn Book coming in the January issue. I'll quote a tiny bit here for you.
✮ "King’s distinctive approach to fashioning a story of adolescent strife results in a book that’s not only thoroughly original but also uniquely compelling and deeply memorable."--The Horn Book
Six is a magic number because it makes a sort of constellation for a book. Because I can't quite process all of this, I can't tell you what the power of that constellation is, but I can tell you that it's a nice constellation and it keeps me humble and keeps me writing.

Since you last heard from me

I went to Arizona and to the awesome Changing Hands Bookstore and had a fantastic time, as always. I really do wish I could split in two and have half of me live in Arizona. Anyway, I took my kids with me and we had a fantastic time panning for gold, climbing the red rocks, and experiencing our first vortex.

Yes. I said vortex.

And it was real. Look:

Does this not convince you?
I can't describe what it felt like. I can't describe how it affected us. But whatever it was, it was something and I plan on visiting local vortexes in the future. (Math geek in me just cringed not changing that to vortices, but it's right, I swear to you.)

More soon. Upcoming events in the Exton, PA are and the Reading, PA area! Check my tour page!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Art & Freedom


Last night was the 65th National Book Awards. Ursula Le Guin received the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. I want you to watch her speech. I want you to listen to what she says about art. And freedom.



"Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write."

Dear Ursula Le Guin,

I promise you I will never be deodorant. Thank you so much for the reminder.

Love, Amy


Also, Jackie Woodson won the NBA for Young People's Literature for her book BROWN GIRL DREAMING. When she won, I jumped up out of my chair so hard I shook the house.

This book is one of the most beautiful books I've read in years. Woodson's verse lifted me off my porch swing as I read it.

Jacqueline Woodson is a national treasure.

Art and freedom. Art and freedom.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Quick Linkage Post

Glory is chilling out with some really great company over at the Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014. Click here to see the whole list, which is a fantastic list!

Other linkage:

A VCFA Faculty blog I wrote about encouragement is HERE.

There are a few bits of good news I cant share yet, but I figured I'd keep you updated because you're nice and I like updating nice people.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tour Picture Blog (Or: My Brain Is Jell-O)


My brain is mush. I just read and sent copy edits for 2015's I Crawl Through It to my editor today and I'm not sure I know my own name right now. But I promised you a blog, and so here I am.

First, good news!

Portuguese/Brazilian rights have been sold for five of my books. (Dreams come true!)

PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ will be published in Brazil [only] by Novo Seculo Editora
EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, ASK THE PASSENGERS, REALITY BOY & GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE will be published in Brazil and world Portuguese by Editora Autentica. These should start hitting shelves in 2015-ish.

Go Brazil!

GLORY LIVES!

So it started with the launch party at Aaron's Books in Lititz, PA. I love Aaron's Books. They served tacos. And cake. They were wonderful hosts, as always, and they gave me a lovely gift and treated me like a rock star even though I'm just a simple country girl. Friends, family and supporters who pre-ordered from Aaron's or came out to join us in the fun: Thank you. By doing this, you supported my local economy. You supported a family run business that cares about people, not shareholders.

Here's Todd packing up pre-orders a few days before launch.
Note: This is a tiny back room in a real live store, not a warehouse.
Your pre-orders helped keep the lights on for human beings.
Thank you. 

So, tour pictures. I was touring with Paolo Bacigalupi who was talking about his new book, THE DOUBT FACTORY. He told such compelling stories about the history of the doubt industry. You have to read the book to understand, but it's chilling stuff. Trust me.

First stop, Santa Cruz, CA

I have no pictures of Book Shop Santa Cruz, but it was a great event. The next morning we stopped at Aptos High School and this was where my unforgettable day began.

Paolo talking about some seriously heavy stuff.
The Aptos students were great. Librarian Cheryl was so warm and welcoming.
And when I asked her where might be a good place to stop on the
way to the city to hug redwood trees, she said,
"I have a circle of redwoods up by the library. That's where we're going now."
Day = Made.

Now, excuse me while I talk about redwoods.
They are magical.
Here are more pictures than you probably want. But one just wouldn't do it.

Cheryl called this a fairy circle of redwoods. And it was exactly that.
They were amazing trees and Yes, I did hug one.
I may have kissed it, too.
Don't judge.
I love trees. 

Me and trees. Best friends forever. 

Photo Cred: Cheryl
Proof that I did hug the tree.
I can't wait to go back to the west coast and hike in forests
of these beauties. And Sequoias.
Tree love-rant over.

So after much tree loving, we went inside Cheryl's lovely Aptos HS library and signed some books.


Photo Cred: Cheryl
Gandhi FTW!

Photo Cred: Kathy/Cheryl
Here we are before we took off in a car for San Francisco.
I love Paolo's shirt.


Next stop, same day, San Francisco. After many many many years of Maggie Tokuda-Hall and I wanting to get me into Books Inc. for a visit, it finally happened. I was so excited to meet her and to be part of San Francisco's LitQuake Festival. It was a great event for all kinds of reasons.


Reason #1: Someone drew this. 

Photo Cred: Maggie, I think.
Reason #2: This space is gorgeous, isn't it? The art rocked.
And there were tortilla chips. (Among other things, but all I ever need is tortilla chips.)
I had such fun reading from GLORY to this crowd and then talking
about everything else alongside Paolo. He's such a pro. 

Photo Cred: Lianna
Reason #3: VCFA
Maximum respect to the VCFA crew of the Bay area!
You coming out to see me that night made my day even better and
I HUGGED REDWOODS THAT DAY. So this is huge.
Thank you! Thank you!

Reason #4: A late night seriously awesome tour of San Francisco after
I said, "I've been in the city all day and I haven't seen one hill."
The lovely Lianna and Laura said, "You want hills? We can show you hills."
Bonus: they also showed me the Golden Gate Bridge, The Castro, Haight-Ashbury and
a ton of other really groovy stuff.
Random aside: Everywhere I went in SF, they were playing music I liked.
This never happens.
Take, for example, airports. Only once in my life (That's you, Portland, OR)
has an airport played music I like.
Anyway.
After the late night tour, I crashed because I had to catch a flight to Austin the next morning.

Next stop, Austin for the Texas Teen Book Festival.

Photo Cred: Andrew Smith
That's Andrew, A very tired me, James Dashner and the epic Gayle Forman.
We had a great night, but had to get to bed early-ish so we could do the festival the next day.


I love this picture.
This is Jen Bigheart and Andrew Smith right before our lunch panel.
At our lunch panel, Drew and I talked about how we golf.
Without golf clubs.
Why we're best friends and about a trillion other things.
Jen is awesome.
Drew is awesome.
The audience was awesome.
Later that day I was on a panel with 4 amazing authors, but I don't have a picture.
Trust me. I was there.
Then there was the post-festival bar time.
Photo Cred: Julie
Said post-festival bar time was a damn fun crowd.
Here's my favorite picture from the night--me and Drew with Julie Murphy who
ROCKS OUT LOUD.

Somewhere in all of this festival day stuff I met a ton of epic readers, signed a lot of books, hugged fans, ate food, broke a tooth, called my dentist, and then went back to having a great time. (Man. My brain really is fried. I'd usually be more descriptive than this.) I highly recommend the Texas Teen Book Festival if ever you're nearby. It's well organized and powered by the best librarians on the planet and many volunteers who love reading.
So then I flew home.

I breathed for four days. I got my tooth fixed. I started the copy edits. Etc.

Last Thursday night I had an event at Children's Book World in Haverford, PA.
You all know how I feel about this bookstore, right? Heather Hebert is an independent bookselling goddess. We had a lot of fun and a huge shout out to the high school students who bused in to see me! That was AWESOME. I saw some superstars that night. Kate Walton was there, Sister Kim the mega-librarian was there (I'll be at the Little Flowers Festival in April), Jenn Hubbard was there, and Beth Kephart--who took the most amazing pictures, as usual. She has a magical camera. Let me show you.

Photo Cred: Beth
She always manages to catch me in the right light... 

Photo Cred: Beth
And whenever we get our picture taken together, we look like teenagers.
Seriously.
Beth rocks.
And if you haven't read any of her books yet, you must. GOING OVER from 2014 is brilliant, and all her
past books are equally brilliant.
Trust me.


Next stop, the Boston Book Festival.

Photo Cred: I completely forget, but thank you!
That's Scott Westerfeld (our second panel together in a week), Meg Wolitzer, and me
at the Emmanuel Church in Boston.
People who were in the crowd: WOW! That was some crowd! Thank you for coming!
Great discussion. Great Q&A and a great signing.

After the BBF event, I went to dinner with some stellar authors and then crashed for my early flight on Sunday morning.

Aaaaand we're done for a few weeks. Thank you for enduring the me me me tour post.
And thank you for all of you who came out to see me on my travels.
And thank you for all of you who read the books.
And my brain is officially fried now.

 Next up:
  • Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, NJ on Nov. 7th at 7pm. 
  • Reading Public Library, Reading, PA on Nov. 8th at 1pm.
  • Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe location, AZ on Nov. 21st at 7pm.
  • BONUS appearance: Changing Hands, Phoenix location, for a screening of e.E. Charlton-Trujillo's AT RISK SUMMER--a film that will blow you away, at 5pm on Saturday 11/22/14. I'll be there with mi hermana e.E. for Q&A after the screening. Proud to be a part of this project and its bright future pairing authors with facilities for at-risk youth. 


Placing objects in toilet may cause system failure.
As an ex-smoker I have to say: Why would anyone toss a pack of still-smokable
cigarettes down an airplane toilet?
I mean, I get tossing them. I did that a lot.
But why in the airplane?
Also:
DO NOT THROW SEVERED HANDS INTO THIS TOILET.

Remember: Badasses are kind to others. They do not shove on airplanes. They do not cause system failure in airplane toilets. They don't recline airplane seats. And they say thank you.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MORE TACOS!

I'm still gathering photos to show you from the tour.
I'll get to it, I promise.

Today I am stuck into copy edits here in rainy Pennsylvania. So this will be short. But it's exciting!


GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE got its FIFTH starred review today in The Bulletin! (If you read yesterday's blog, you're like--what? I thought yesterday was five?--but publishing is weird. It counts some starred reviews and doesn't count others. I won't stop you if you want to say six because it means more tacos for all of us. More tacos for all of us is good. Please add the drink of your choice and we will have a party.)

✭ "King continues to be one of the most original (yet accessible) YA writers today, and the magical realism element accentuates the humanity of the narrative by looking past people’s momentary selves to place them in times both past and future."--BCCB 



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tacos!

A starred review in Shelf Awareness for Glory today!

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

I have a big blog post coming with pictures to show you around my tour stops. But first, I have to work.

A drag, but you know. Has to happen.

This week's events: 
Thursday 10/23 at Children's Book World in Haverford, PA
Saturday 10/25 at the Boston Book Festival--panel with Meg Wolitzer and Scott Westerfeld at 4:15 at Emmanuel Sanctuary.

More soon.




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Glory O'Brien!

I've packed.
I'll be chilly in San Francisco, but I tend to stay indoors--except for when I find a few redwoods to hug. Then I won't care if I'm chilly. I've been wanting to hug a redwood tree for 40 years.

GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE comes out today.
Tonight is the launch party at Aaron's Books.
Tomorrow I will hop into a car at 5:30am to get to those redwood trees and beyond...from Santa Cruz to San Francisco to Austin, Texas for the Texas Teen Book Festival. All new places for me.
I'm excited.

I had no idea what to write on the blog today. But then I came across this poem. I rarely share poems. But part of this poem was written by Glory's mom, Darla O'Brien.

I'll most likely be back soon to post some links to cool interviews. There's a doozy coming soon from BookRiot and a really cool conversation over at Nerdy Book Club. Oh! And today at 4pm ET there's a twitter chat with me and Paul Hankins about the book. Don't miss that. I'm at @AS_King.

So here's the poem.

With Age You See the Passage of Time Ugly


1

With age you see
the passage of time ugly
as wrinkles tell stories
you were meaning to hide.

And now those tales gone,
like a generation of bards
killed by ancient plague
made their sons mute.

It must surely be madness
inventing technology
to make one young again
for youth is not knifed back.

But rather it is reclaimed
by the stories your face tells
when your tongue
is not making a sound.


2

With age you see
the passage of time ugly
as the images around you
grow prettier every day.

The girl on the wrinkle
cream ad on the telly
is barely sixteen and
computer enhanced.

It must surely be mockery
inventing this technology.
Engines roaring to
hate our very selves.

And death is mandatory,
unavoidable no matter
how good you may look
in your mirrored coffin.


--A.S. King 199?


See you on the road!

Monday, October 13, 2014

GO BADASS.

The AWESOME ladies over at Forever Young Adult and I are challenging you to go find the people who made you badass and thank them.

That's right.
We are asking you to join us in badass gratitude.
It's called, fittingly, THE BADASS GRATITUDE PROJECT.

You can see more here, where there's an interview with me and Mandy as well as my own video of thanking my favorite badass, my mom. 




And hey! If you missed it, there was a groovy interview over at the Barnes & Noble Blog last week.
Follow this link!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Four Days and Counting.

It's almost time!

If you pre-ordered from my local independent bookstore, Aaron's Books, than your signed book is on its way. I love this picture that they posted on Facebook.




Sam and Todd (and Aaron) at Aaron's have been huge supporters of my books from the very beginning and I can't wait for the launch party at their store on Tuesday night.

I've sent in my midterm reviews, paid the bills, cleaned up my desk, updated all of my calendars, backed up my computer and my phone. I've even cleaned the fridge.
Book release seems to push me into some sort of nesting mode.

I'm not packed, but I'm relying on the fact that I'm so used to packing I could do it in my sleep.
Although last time I did that, I forgot stuff and was forced to use hotel shampoo and "conditioner" which is really glue. I swear. Hotel conditioner is really glue.

Okay. So maybe I should make a list or something right about now.

Watch the blog this week for links to interview on a few of my favorite bookish websites!

To those of you who pre-ordered though Aaron's, Thank you for helping me support my community bookstore.

Oh! And don't forget the Twitter chat on launch day! 4pm Eastern.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Here we go.

It's ten days until the release of GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE. So the linking begins.

So here's a groovy interview that came out this this month's BookPage. 

More when I have it!


I'll see you all in a few days once I get my student work off my desk.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's Gersday!

I have winners from the last contest.
But I'm going to make you wait because I want to tell you about stuff first.

TODAY IS GERSDAY.

It's paperback release day for REALITY BOY here in the US and that makes me very happy. It's been nearly a year since the original release date for the book and Gerald's plight seems to resonate with readers. I know this because I get letters. Serious letters. I claim I'm a Vulcan but serious letters sometimes make me cry. There are so many people in the world struggling with their pasts. With abuse. With neglect. With unfairness. Sometimes I wish we could all stop and think about things like this because we'd make better world partners if we did. If we stopped to understand before we stopped to judge, the world would be so much nicer.

To those of you who have written to me to thank me for showing you, through Gerald, that you can change your life no matter what's happened to you, let me thank YOU. Not just for your letters, but for reminding me that change is possible in my own life.

Change takes guts. Change is hard. Change is slow. Change is important. Change is possible.

NAIBA

Last weekend I was at the NAIBA annual conference. NAIBA is a regional organization for independent booksellers. I'm pretty sure you know how I feel about independent booksellers. If you don't, let me say: independent booksellers were the first people to get behind my work and if it wasn't for their support, I'm not sure I'd still be publishing books. So when one of my books makes you write me a letter, technically it's a chain. You thank me, I thank you for reading and then I thank independent booksellers because without their support, I'd still be writing books that no one gets to read.

And that's what I did this weekend at NAIBA. I thanked independent booksellers for allowing me to keep my job as a lady who wants to tell the truth. I shared short excerpts of a few fan letters so they understand what they help me do. Since REALITY BOY is out today, now might be a good time to say: if you have an independent book store near you, go check it out. You will get to know the staff and they will help you find books you like to read. It's a personal environment. They will talk to you. It might take a bit more effort than clicking a button (if one is available) on a website, but that effort will support so many new writers of books that you might like as much as you like my books.

WINNERS!

Contests are fun. First I want to thank all of you who entered ESPECIALLY the teachers who used this prompt in their classrooms and ESPECIALLY the students who took on this challenge. That takes guts and I admire those guts. You and I (and my squirrel judges) know there can only be two winners in this contest. But because of your entries, we've increased the winner number to three. That's how great your entries were.

I know Honorable Mentions are a bummer to some because nobody gets a prize for an honorable mention. But I'm tossing two out anyway because my squirrel judges argued for hours over this. Also, if an honorable mention was from a classroom prompt, the HM's teacher gets the classroom box of books. So, that's a plus.

Honorable mentions:

Bill McCloud, I love fortune cookies and I agree wholeheartedly about the quality of fortunes these days.
“Legs give you propulsion, but heart gives you drive.” You know, I can remember when what you found inside a fortune cookie was a real honest to God fortune. Now it’s always some lame proverb, or obvious statement, or feel-good comment. A real honest to goodness fortune. That’s what I want. I want to know what lies ahead of me, around the corner, and over the hill. You can have your cookie back. False advertisement. Wait! Go ahead and give me one more. Well, good grief! “Enlightenment is disappointment to the ego.”
ryter222 dking, you get points for cannibalism and for using the word ego so well at the end of the piece. Our judges appreciate when the required words aren't shoehorned in.
“Legs or thighs? Come on. Make up your mind.”“Geez! Don’t rush me, Johnson. It’s not as easy as it looks.”“You wanna live or die? Choice is yours.”“But---she was our stewardess!” “Well, yeah, but now she’s your only ticket off this island alive! Make a choice, damn it!”“Leg! All right! I’ll take the leg! Reminds me more of a pig roast that way.”“Whatever---I deserve the thigh. I’m bigger than you.”We were hoping it wouldn't come to this, but the gravity of our situation grew heavier and heavier like Johnson’s ego. 

Again, honorable mentions, I'm sorry I can't send you a prize, but know that your work was entirely appreciated. As were your tweets and Facebook posts. 

Winners:

Mollie, your "Thoughts of a Spider" was a real hit with the judges. Squirrels have four legs and get no respect either. They told me to tell you that. (Ms. Bentley, you get a box of books for the classroom!)
Thoughts of a SpiderLegs are extremely important. So how am I made fun of for having so many? Shouldn’t it be the cream of the crop for having eight? Humans think they’re hot stuff, but they only have two. Psh.
I get screams. I get newspapers, books, even flyswatters! The disrespect is entirely degrading.
Sometimes I do feel all big and bad, you know because humans are so afraid of me. But then I get the underside of another ratty old sneaker aimed at crushing my body and instead I feel the shame of my bruised ego.-Mollie 
Not sure who wrote this one, but it was hilarious and my squirrels love a good laugh. (Ms. Goncalves wins a box of A.S. King books for her classroom...and the winner gets a brand new paperback of REALITY BOY for cracking us up...which is entirely appropriate considering the material in this entry.)
Legs start shaking under the desk. Sweat drips down the center of my back. No, this can't be happening now; I took my medicine this morning. The teacher said I can’t leave the room during the test or I will fail. Lower abdomen seizes into a vice-grip cramp. Focus, focus, mind over body, right? Stomach churning and I don’t think I’m going to make it. Alright, I just have to raise my hand and go, abandon the test and my grade. Pzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Just another fart-bruise on my freshman ego.
Darden Avila, you got the judges with this one. The line "Mental catwalk wars with myself" really hit a target.
Legs that go on for eternities. A smile that’s both billboard and bedroom appropriate. Hair as impossible as fairytales. Clothes as shiny as your ambitions.
I used to look at you and your glow-in-the-dark universe and I wish you knew how many times I wished I had your life.
But I’ve forgiven you---and me, too. It isn’t your fault that you’re choking on corsets while I’ve nothing but skinny smiles, ribboned grimaces and mental catwalk wars with myself. Or that we live in a world where people remember you for your big boobs and me for my big ego.

Thank you all again for the great stories! Let's do this again sometime!
And thank you teachers for being teachers. Most important job in the world. Hands down.

Winners: I will need your mailing info (unless you did this project for school...read on.) Teachers, I will need your mailing info too, and I'll include the winners' books inside your box of books in a separate envelope. Send mailing info to asking (at) as-king (dot) com.


ONE LAST THING

On Glory O'Biren launch day, 10/14, there will be a twitter chat at 4pm eastern/1pm pacific time. Here's the info for that. It would be so great if you could join us! You can ask me anything!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Legs and Ego: Last Chance to Win Glory O'Brien ARC!

It's a month until launch day and I still have two (TWO) advanced reader copies of GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE left to give away. Twitter friends asked if I was going to have another contest and I said yes. And that's why we're gathered here today.

You can win one of these lovely ARCs no matter where you live and you have until Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 11:59 PM EDT to enter. You may enter as many times as you like, but please remember that quality matters. A lot.

  1. You have to write a story.
  2. You will enter by leaving your story in the comment section of this blog. NOTE: Comments are moderated. If you don't see your story immediately, that's fine. When my moderator wakes up she will post the story. 
  3. Your story has to be under 100 words. Preference: It should be longer than 50. 
  4. It has to start with the word "Legs"
  5. It has to end with the word "ego"
  6. Entries will be judged by a panel of small rodents with bushy tails and legs and egos. 



Rules are rules. 
If you choose to stray, that's fine except you can't win.

Bouns Points.
If you tweet, retweet or spread the news in other ways you get bonus points added to your entry. You can let me know how you spread the word in your comment.

Bonus Bonus Points.
The paperback of Reality Boy comes out next Tuesday. If your entry is amazing beyond words and/or makes my judges pee themselves laughing, you will also win a signed copy of Reality Boy in paperback.

Added Bonus Prize.
If your teacher uses this prompt as a classroom writing exercise and you (or your teacher) win, I'll throw in a free set of A.S. King books (one copy of each book) for your teacher's classroom library. Seriously. I will. I'm not kidding.

Added Bonus Advice.
While I know that legs seem to be seen in a suggestive way by some, my squirrel judges aren't huge fans of the sexualization of body parts, so your chances are low if you go that route.

Go forth!
Tell people.
Enter.
It's fun.
I promise.


Friday, September 12, 2014

We make paper boats; we cannot control the wind.

First: A deal announcement. A new book from A.S. King is coming in 2015.


It was late February, 2013 when I quit writing. I didn't write an entry into my writing journal about it. I didn't announce it. I didn't tell my friends. I told my husband. He seemed to either take it well or know more about me than I do.

February for me means a deadline. February is the month when I have to get a finished draft of a novel to my editor. I'd delivered in February 2013. I sent in GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE and I breathed my small sigh of relief that it was gone from my desk and I probably had a drink that night in celebration.

If we're keeping count, that was novel #18. If you don't know much about me or my work, then you should know that 8 of those 18 novels live in my attic in a box. Three of them live in a strange limbo where they are written, not published, but there's something about them that keeps me from dooming them to the attic.

If you know me, then you know I'm not a particularly dramatic person. I'm human though I claim I'm Vulcan, but still, I approach things with logic more regularly than I panic or cry about things. I don't usually quit things or make grand statements. I consider myself very lucky to be a published author--very lucky--and though I've won awards and stuff like that, I still struggle to make ends meet. I see this as normal. I know a lot of writers. Most of us can't afford a nanny or a chef and that's okay. I know a lot of other lucky people in other professions and they can't afford nannies or chefs, either.

So what drove me to quit writing in late February 2013?
I have no idea, but I did.
I said, "I'm done. I quit. I don't want to do this anymore."
I decided I'd go work in a library and maybe go back to school at night.
I decided I'd do anything but write another novel.
Eighteen was enough.

I lasted two days.

Two days after I'd quit, I started writing another novel. #19. No title. No form. Just this chunky bare prose on the page that came slowly--not at all in tune with my deadline schedules. I didn't care if it ever turned into anything. I didn't care if it was delivered on time the following February. I didn't care about the business--if it would sell, what people might think of it. I just wrote it when it came. This is probably why my husband didn't falter when I'd told him I'd quit, I guess. He's known me a long time. Maybe he knows better than I do that I'm a writer and it's not just something you quit doing.

Back on the farm in the mid-1990's when I wrote for no one and had no deadlines except for planting and harvesting the year's food, I hit the same wall. The quitting wall. Whatever you want to call it. I stopped writing novels. But since I was a writer, I kept writing. In this case, I wrote poetry. For two years, I wrote poems whenever they came to me. I read a lot. I took more walks. I painted more. I didn't "quit" because there wasn't anything to quit. Writing wasn't my job. It wasn't a hobby either. It was my--I don't know. I don't know what it was. All the words that go here seem too dramatic a fit for me. Passion, vocation, calling all seem like the wrong words. Writing was what I did. Period. I'd written about 5 novels by then. But I wanted to write poetry, so I wrote poetry.

This was a good thing because eventually, my first published work was poetry. I wrote some good poems. I think they suck now and they're in that box in the attic. But some great university journals here in the States thought they were good enough to publish, and that was nice.

The point of me boring you with the poetry story was more to show the way of life for me when I was an unpublished writer. I could paint a still life one day in acrylics or take a whole fortnight and paint it in oils instead. I could go out back on the farm and smash things with sledgehammer. I did that sometimes. I could do farm chores. I could build a birdhouse. I could build a guest cottage. I could do whatever I wanted because no one was waiting on me to produce. Not poems, not novels, not anything. The only person demanding anything from me was me. I had to grow food. That was it. I had to grow food. So when I didn't feel like writing, I didn't. If I felt like writing poetry, I wrote poetry. Ta-da. If I was mad at the world, I'd write what I called fuck-the-world poems. I wrote them for myself. I thought fuck-the-world poems were best kept to one's self. Funny, because of my published poems, all were fuck-the-world poems.

In late February 2013, things were different. Very different. Not only did I now buy my food from a grocery store, but I was a lucky published novelist. I was also the person in charge of making money in my house. I traveled a lot and had kids and a husband in college. So when I didn't have it in me anymore, I didn't think about writing poetry or painting. I just thought about a kind friend's offer of an entry-level job at her library. But I never pursued the job.

Of course, I already told you that this....thing...only lasted two days.

Call it a crisis and I'll disagree. I was tired, yes. I may have been cranky. Sure. But I was dead serious. I quit. I was done. I'd never been so done before in my writing life. In those 48 hours, I was free. And then the world opened up and the words started flowing again with no warning or thought on my part at all.

The book that came out of me after those two days was a fuck-the-world book. No holding back. No censoring (though this book has less cursing than all of my books, so I don't mean censoring in the profanity way--I mean it in the brainwave way.) I didn't care about fitting into a box or onto a shelf. I just wrote in the same way I wrote that poetry back on the farm. I painted it like I painted those old canvases (which also live in my attic, but that's because I don't have any other place to put them.)

#19 sold nine months later. My agent and editor loved it. I delivered the finished manuscript in February 2014. This week, it was announced to the world and I'm busy writing novel #20, which started late after many months beating novel #supposed-to-be-20 which was really a dead book. Nothing like beating a dead book to remind one of one's place.

Last weekend, I painted a still life. This week, I wrote a poem. This weekend, I cleared out my garden and harvested peppers. For six years, I felt like a book machine. Now I feel more human. Human before writer. One must be human to write. One must know what ripe peppers look like and know the rule of fat over lean in oil painting.

Quitting writing was human. That's all.
Now I get to push another paper boat out onto the water and see if it sails.
The wind isn't under my control. Nothing, really, is under my control. I'm just a lady who makes paper boats. This one has I CRAWL THROUGH IT painted on the bow.
A fitting title, I think.

It will be in your local bookstore in fall 2015. There is an invisible helicopter and a walking digestive system in it. There is a man in it named Kenneth who Bill Murray would play if it were a movie. Kenneth is free, just like me. But he can't quit either.


Disclaimer: I was joking about the nannies and the chefs. I don't want either. I just want a future where I don't eat soup once a week for dinner.