Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Book Trailer

I'm sure many of you remember the really cool trailer for The Dust of 100 Dogs. It was a gift from a friend who worked his ass off out of kindness and a want to make something cool.
As much as I loved that first one, I have to say this one he made for Please Ignore Vera Dietz is pretty kickass.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I AM A CHICKEN.

No seriously. I am. Check it out.

And stay tuned for a contest. I just cleaned out my office and found so many weird goodies. I think you should have them, don't you?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hi. How Are You? I'm fine.

Do you remember starting letters like that? I do.
Hi. How are you? I'm fine. 
Then I'd totally blank out on what to say next. Which is how I feel about writing a blog right now. I'm just here to generally update you that I am alive and well.

Last weekend, I lived through being interviewed by zombies for a cool TV show called Zombie Etiquette.
I wore a sweater that make me look pudgy, but I think I'll live. I eventually changed into a t-shirt because those lights are hot! And here's me talking Indiebound to the undead.

"But dude, even the undead can shop indie."
I also have some very cool Darth Vader boots on, but you can't see those so you'll have to take my word for it. If you're wondering how I outsmarted the zombies, I did it with yo-yos. Pagoda yo-yos.

ZOMG Zombies.
The show was so much fun, I will be back. Maybe as a zombie. Maybe as an innocent victim. (p.s. Dear Route 1 in NJ, I dislike you roughly.)

The next day, I headed up to New Hope, PA where I signed books at one of my favorite indie bookstores, Farley's Bookshop.  I've been taking a series of pictures from behind the signing table/behind the podium, and I really love this one from Farley's.

Signing at Farley's Dec 4th, 2010
Many thanks to all the cool people who dropped by to see me! Tim and Carley and Jamie and Carrie and also to Nicole, my new fan who took a chance on buying VERA DIETZ that day and who has since written to say she loved it! Woot! Thank you all at Farley's for a great event, as always, and for putting up that awesome sign outside! You guys ROCK.

Then yesterday, I went to another favorite indie bookstore of mine, Chester County Book and Music Company. This is a dangerous place because it is too wonderful for words. And ENORMOUS. Also, their art section is so good I actually have to cover my eyes when I walk past it. (Ask Josh Berk. I do cover my eyes.) (Here's Josh Berk. Doesn't he look like someone you could trust?)

The Awesome Josh Berk. Or J-Wo, as I like to call him.
Josh Berk (The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin--READ THIS BOOK!) and I were there to do our Dorks Rock! Writing for Young Adults workshop and we were met with all sorts of awesome bookseller love.

Sweet table

Snazzy photograph of our reflections
This brings me to: Dear booksellers,
Bookseller love is the nicest thing ever and authors really appreciate it. One sign is cool. Two is awesome. A table display is fantastic. Window space? Uh. Wow. So, Joanne & Co at CCBMC, THANK YOU for everything you did for me and Josh. That was wonderful. And those who came out on that yucky rainy day, thank you so much!

Bullet-pointed list of stuff that proves I'm alive:
  • I am hard at work finishing the copy edits for EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS. 
  • I might  have seen some close-to-final cover art on that and let's just say I have now won the cover lottery three times. 
  • I also have German cover art for VERA to show you once I get the nod from Germany. (Release there is Feb 2011.)
  • I have started the next two YA books and you're going to dig them. 
  • I have a super secret project too, which we will never speak of again. This sentence will self-destruct in ten seconds.
  • VERA got a KILLER AWESOME review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer this weekend which was pure awesome. Here's a link.
  • The weekend before, VERA could also be found in The Buffalo News. Linkage here.
  • And a huge, ginormous thank you to all bloggers, librarians, teachers and readers who are spreading the word. It's been an amazing ride and it's so sweet to see Vera doing so well! (Especially without the in-store support of chains.)
  • Oh! And I saw one of the new printings this weekend! Different back cover with three of those starred reviews, thank you very much...
 
My last in-person event for 2010 is this Saturday 12/18 at Doylestown Bookshop from 4-6pm, so if you live nearby and have anyone in your life over the age of 14 who likes to read, come in and I'll sign a book for them and it will be the best present ever!

Hey. That was pretty good for a blog that started Hi. How are you? I'm fine.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Boys! Boys! Boys!

I KNOW I'm supposed to be working and taking my blog break (I might just pull that get out of BLOG free card and use it another time.) But I just got the most amazing letter. It's the kind of letter that makes me write books. It said:
Finished Vera Dietz and loved it but here's the really exciting thing. I handed it to my 14 year old son and he can't put it down. Says it's one of the best books he's ever read.
Do you know how hard it is to find books that boys will read? As a mom, a book lover, and an owner of boys, just wanted to say thank you.
You've heard me talk about this subject before...how books are often genderized like Happy Meals at McDonalds. (For the record, I always answer, "I don't know. Surprise me." when they ask. Bleh.) Yes, I know some books are "better" for girls than they might be for boys and I know some are "better" for boys than for girls. And YES, I took shop class all three years of Jr. High. And YES, I can wire your house. So, WHAT-EVER with these boxes! What matters is there books that grab a reader's attention and those same books mightn't grab another reader's attention. Why not just look for the good books that will grab readers rather than putting genders on them, right?

So--in case anyone out there thinks that my books are "for girls" because I own a uterus, please, open your mind. In case you think books with a protagonist who has a uterus can't be recommended to boys, PLEASE rethink this. 96.7% of my favorite books are written by men or have male protags. *shrug* I can't help this. It's just the truth. And my books can bake a pie OR wire your house. Just like me.

Thank you, letter writer for passing PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ to your son. Please ask him to spread the word to his friends. And thank you for letting me know he is loving it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Pirate's Dare Redux -- You Thought I Had Balls?

!
So, I got this letter back in October.

It started out mentioning my Pirate's Dare blog from a few months ago--you know, the one where I called digital pirates cowards and dared them to grow a pair and steal things old style, off shelves rather than act like five-year-old chickenshits? Remember that one? Yeah. So, some of the replies I got in relation to that blog were hater mail. (Nice contribution, guys! The world thanks you. Great job.)

But the letter I'm talking about today wasn't hater mail. To my relief, it was pure awesome. In fact, it was so awesome I have to share parts of it with you because this piracy battle seems pointless to a lot of us who lose our children's lunch money through it, so it can really bum us out. But this letter gave me hope, and I want to spread the hope.

Earlier this month you wrote a couple of posts about e-pirating. . . I'm writing [to you] about this line:

"I wrote this weekend's blog because of the millions and millions of people out there who are stealing right this very minute and either don't know it or don't care. I didn't write it because I think it will make them stop."

Particularly the last sentence. Your posts, they did make me stop. I feel like you should know that because maybe someone else who read it also stopped. And maybe if you authors and bloggers who are shedding light on this subject know that, even in small part, you are making a difference the battle won't seem so futile.

So there I was, after the hater mail, hateful tweets, and "copying isn't theft" propaganda tossed at me via the comment trail thinking: Amy why the hell did you write that post? YES, you don't have any money and it SUCKS to get robbed all the time and have people not give a shit about it, but you're a freaking hippy and you hate arguing and dude, you are too old for the drama and the bullshit. Go back to contests that involve pizza. Cute vlogs. Juggling. I was praying the hits on that blog would just go away. Seriously. I am not a lover of conflict. I have too much to do to have my brain all messed up with petty arguments about why stealing is okay. I grew out of that a long time ago.

So I vowed to never write about piracy or theft or stealing again. Oh sure, I'll write about rape and domestic violence. I do that all the time. No haters write me mail with intellectually stimulating reasons why these things are acceptable and really not illegal at all. Nope. Not one. But go off about stealing my kids' college educations? A lot of people want to argue with me about that because they have talked themselves into why it's okay. Which is exactly how all those other criminals talk themselves into doing what they do, too.

More from the letter:

When I read your post I thought really hard about what you said. Would I have the balls to walk into a bookstore and snag a book off the shelf? Would I rationalize that because I was only taking one book now and that I'd buy more books later it was acceptable? Would I be able to tell myself that there are people walking into stores everyday swiping things off the shelves and that I was just a speck of paint in the big picture? No, of course not. Because I know better. My mother raised me better. So why, then, would I ever think it was acceptable to do the same thing with the same material simply because it is online? What gives me that right? Nothing. Nothing gives me that right. I wouldn't steal from a store. I shouldn't steal online. Stealing is stealing no matter how you do it.

I have never downloaded any of your books illegally - If I had, I think I'd be feeling really guilty right now over the possibility of depriving your daughter of an opportunity to walk out of her college experience without the weight of giant student loan debts. But I have downloaded books by [other authors]. Obviously, I am an adult now so my mother isn't marching me to my inbox and making me apologize to these authors for violating their copyrights and stealing their work. But, yes, there is a little bit of her in this apology, a little bit of that day when she taught me that stealing has consequences in this apology. To all of these authors whose hard work I have cheapened by my ignorance, I humbly apologize.

I have deleted all of the illegal files from my computer and plan to, when I can, buy those books to make up for taking them illegally.

Well, Letter Writer. Damn you. You had balls to write me this letter and tell me that people who highlight this issue can help, and now I have to ante up and have balls to keep writing and talking about it.
So.
Last week, I was at a school career fair and I looked deep into the eyes of every kid in the room and explained quite clearly to them and their teachers that stealing books or videos or music off the internet is no different than shoving it down their pants in Target. I asked them to raise their hands if they wanted to go to college. They raised their hands higher when I asked if they hoped their parents could afford to help them pay for it. And when I explained to them that stealing books off the internet meant that their favorite authors' kids maybe couldn't get that sort of help from their parents because people stole their books all the time? That a last year's illegal downloads alone stole the equivalent of the first semester of my kid's college tuition? Their eyes got SO BIG! But what surprised me most was that SO MANY teachers didn't know about this. They were very happy to learn about it so they can spread the word to parents and students. Fellow authors, I urge you to mention this at your school visits. A lot of people do not know this is going on!

I will also tell you about my last bit of correspondence with the "safehouse" where I found NINE more copies of my book (ooh. Make that 11. I just found two more) last month. When I went through the now-usual process to remove all the files, they wrote back to say:
Hello,

Thank you for letting us know. We have deactivated the links to the illegal files mentioned in your e-mails.

If you know any other illegal use of our service, please let us know. We will do
our best to remove the files as soon as possible.

Thank you!

In the interest of full disclosure, I replied with this:

"If you know any other illegal use of our service, please let us know. We will do our best to remove the files as soon as possible."

If I know of any other illegal use of your service?

Are you kidding?
Your site is used for illegal use 99% of the time! Nearly all the files up there are of copyrighted material!
But seriously. Thanks for taking care of mine again.
I'm sure you'll hear from me again next week...and the week after and the week after. Infinity.

Amy
I then found the page of one of the pirates who'd had my book and scrolled down her page. She had every popular YA book--all up-to-date. HUNDREDS of them. Since they asked me to report "any other illegal use of their service" I wrote back to the kind customer service rep and provided the member's screen name and link and said that I'd read the site's rules and this member had 100% illegal copyrighted material on her page and that by the site's rules, she should be booted immediately. The reply?

Please provide a link to each illegal file that you own the copyright to.

I won't lie. It feels pointless and futile. If I showed you my sales numbers vs. my illegal download numbers from last statement time, you'd throw up a a little, I bet. I've had to stop caring because even people in my own business [who are no longer feeding their children soup for dinner] are coming up with great reasons for why piracy is GREAT for authors. I can't argue with them. Seriously. I'm not arguing at all. I don't have the time or energy to argue. I just wanted to stop and share this hope with fellow authors, bloggers and people who care about copyright laws and how they protect artists and their future careers.

To the people who talk about piracy, we are reaching people. Or maybe just one person every once in a while. But that's a start.

And Letter Writer? Thank you for writing to me. It was nice to see a mature, logical person understand my point. What you did by writing that letter to me was a true act of kindness and I really appreciate it. And quitting the habit of illegal downloading ? Is awesome. Thank you. I know how hard it is for me some days to drive by gas stations full of cigarettes, but I do it. Just because they're there doesn't mean I have to smoke them. And a special thank you to Ms. Jupiter, considering Letter Writer mentioned both blogs, that means you helped too, and I sincerely thank you for that. You are AWESOME.

Here's a great vlog author Jackson Pearce made about three weeks after my Pirate's Dare post went up. Enjoy it.