Monday, January 31, 2011

Racing

Bling is sinking in.
I've been racing around these days trying to get myself into the office for the full February of writing. Just hit the 40k mark on the new book moments ago, so that's cool. (Even though I kinda want to stab my eyes out because middles are always eye-stabbing.)

Here are some things: First, a letter to myself at 18. A difficult letter to write but it was cool to close my eyes and imagine what I would really say to her--that young thing.

Second: Did I tell you guys that PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ is coming to audio? It is. Digital in March. CDs in April.

Third: I want you to see this review of VERA because the ladies at FYA are awesome.

Last: A great interview from a week or so ago at Bermudaonion's weblog.

I've been running random contests on Twitter. If you don't follow me, you should!
A.S. King on Twitter.

Also, it will soon be time to unveil the cover art for EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS. I'll post it first on my Facebook fan page. So if you want to see it first, join up! I never send messages to my fans so fear not the FB spam!

And last: My next event will be at the AMAZING WORD bookstore in Brooklyn on March 15th. In the meantime, my 2011 schedule is getting hectic with all these cool award events to attend. If you want me to come to your school or to speak at your event, let Carla know at events@as-king.com and she will hook you up with brochures and all sorts of other cool stuff.

See you all in March. Or earlier if something comes up.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winner Time!

First, every entry here was awesome. You guys make it very difficult to judge contests. Which is why I employ my judges and they often argue late into the night.These days it's tamer, though, since I gave up sugar and none of them are high on Mike and Ikes or Skittles. Can't do all that much damage while popping sugar free root beer barrels and diet ginger ale, you know?

That said, they did argue a long time between the entry about the Remington typewriter and the first kiss once they narrowed it down. In the end, the winner was:

The girl selected the old Remington because he possessed the stately interrobang. The typewriter pinged his return with glee; it had been twenty years since he last wrote, forty since he wrote anything worthwhile. The girl set the Remington on the table; his ribbon tingled with anticipation and then trepidation as the girl produced pliers and began to pull his keys out, letter by letter.

Cece: great three sentence story. You made me care about that poor typewriter and when the pliers came out, I was mortified for him. (I have two typewriter key necklaces, so this made me cringe especially hard.) And thank you so much for teaching me a new word! Anyone reading this who doesn't know what an interrobang is, that's the symbol there at the top left of the blog. A question mark and exclamation point all in one.

Weird interrobang fact thanks to Wikipedia: "The State Library of New South Wales, Australia, uses an interrobang as its logo." In fact, the whole history of the interrobang is kinda interesting. Go check it out.

Thank you all for your entries and you time and support. We will have another contest soon. A huge shout out to leigh_madrid for your entry. Sad/funny first kiss story! You poor dear! (Gavin was a fool.) Also, to answer your fiance's question, eyetalic, I play a four string run-of-the-mill electric bass. My husband plays the drums, so on Friday mornings when our youngest is in preschool, we rock out. I could play "Electric Funeral" all day long on the bass, or, sit me at the kit and I'd play LZ's "The Ocean" on drums until you dragged me away. I'm not all that great, but I feel like a rock star when I can actually manage Bonham's timing.

Random News:
Please Ignore Vera Dietz landed on YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults list last week. Go have a look at the list and see if you can find something you never heard of before. I have been urged by a trillion people to pick up The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith, so I'm writing to my local indie and asking them to order it for me tonight. It sounds AMAZING.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Edgar Nomination, Nostalgia and Me

Today has been a great day. It started with a phone call from Sara J. Henry (author of forthcoming (Feb 22) Learning to Swim--read this book, please. It's awesome.) who was out of breath. "Amy! You were nominated for an Edgar Award!" she said. "Do you know what this means?" I didn't know what to say. I think I said, "Wow. I had no idea!" or something like that. Sara was the first to point out that Please Ignore Vera Dietz is technically a mystery book, and many have echoed that thought, but I never thought I'd end up an Edgar nominee. Once I hung up with Sara, I sat at my desk a while and got very very verklempt again (see last several blogs) and I had a huge bout of nostalgia and rummaged through my photo albums to find the one picture that can help me tell this story. It's kinda disjointed, but I'm going to try to stitch it together for you.

Part One
I've loved mystery books since I can remember. We had an impressive Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew collection at my house. I have a great picture of myself the year I was hooked on Meg mysteries--around my tenth birthday. Then I discovered a very well-used book in our family bookcase--an Edgar Allen Poe short story collection. I adored it. The same bookcase held Stephen King's short story collection, Night Shift which I read when I wasn't reading the Poe collection. I think I read those two books a zillion times between 5th and 9th grade.

Part Two
I've mentioned in interviews that I knew I wanted to be a writer for the first time when I was 14. But I think I, like a lot of writers, had more than one ah-ha moment about this before I finally decided to do it. After 8th grade, the next time I knew I wanted to write was right before I left college (the first attempt.) Then, in art school in Philadelphia (second attempt) when I was working on my final portfolio, I was taking pictures and writing essays to go along with them. I didn't show anyone the essays. But it was a way to handle being a photography major when I really didn't want to be a photographer. I wanted to be a writer. I just didn't know how I was going to make that happen yet.

Part Three
I got married soon after college and ended up in Philadelphia again. My husband and I had started making "the plan." "The Plan" was simple. Save enough money to somehow move back to Ireland (he's from there) where we would start a new life and eventually buy a derelict farm and maybe live off the land and do what we wanted. (Let me repeat that part because it's important. Where we could do what we wanted.) No big job stress. No having to live without health insurance and be worried all the time. No more 8am-7pm days working for people who paid us peanuts, treated us like cattle and didn't appreciate our awesomeness. We lived in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia, just off Spring Garden Street, but we both worked more than 15 blocks east of there, so sometimes, when we' d walk home together, we'd go past this place.

Edgar Allen Poe Historic Site 7th & Spring Garden Street, Phila, PA
That's the Edgar Allen Poe House. Or National Historic Site. Or whatever you want to call it. (I think I'll call it Major Inspiration.) There I was, 22 years old, trying to wrap my head around actually being able to move somewhere where I could do what I wanted and walking by that Poe house, with all those amazing short stories still alive in my head since I was 11. It made me face what I'd known for quite some time. I really wanted to be a writer. I still didn't know how, but I knew I would. One day.

Part Four
I shared this "I want to be a writer" idea with Mr. King and he and I would talk about our future--gardening, chickens, goats. Me making quilts and writing books and him making awesome furniture and the two of us free from The Man. That's the nostalgia that hit me today. Those moments in life when you allow yourself to dream and plan things that might not come to pass, but you dream and plan them anyway. When you can look back and see those moments clearly knowing full well that you achieved every one of those dreams, that's some strong freaking nostalgia.
Mr. King & the typewriter
For my 23rd birthday, he bought me a surprise present. We don't do presents, so this was a pretty big surprise. It was a secondhand typewriter. I was very happy. I opened it and sat it on my drawing table/desk and I typed a few things and then, over the next week, every night when I came home from work, I'd look at it from the couch where I'd be splayed out, exhausted. It would laugh at me. Mock me. Bully me. Until finally, I told Mr. King that we had to return it. We were supposed to be saving money to escape, I said. How would we ever reach our dream if we spent our money on things now? I asked. I felt horrible. I didn't want to return his thoughtful gift. But I also didn't want $80 of our money going to a thing I couldn't use yet because I was too tired from long days in a darkroom.

I'm not sure why, but I took a picture of the day we went to the store to return the typewriter, and every time I used to see it, I'd get upset that I'd been stupid. I probably hurt his feelings by making him return it and I was probably just protecting myself. Because I wasn't ready to start writing yet, and I'd feel embarrassed if that typewriter was going to sit there in the living room watching me not use it. And every time I walked past the Poe House after that day, I'd get this horrible, messed up feeling like I was running away or denying something or lying or that I was just wrong. I was just plain wrong. I've never told anyone this part of the journey because this feeling of sheer fail was enormous. This is going to sound stupid, but I kinda felt like I was letting Edgar Allen Poe down.

Part Five
The garden at the farm circa 1999.
The next two years of my life were hard. But we executed The Plan. First, we downsized and moved into a one-room, roach infested kip in Center City (where I no longer had to walk past the Poe House and feel like a giant loser) and saved our money. Then, we moved to Dublin, where, after the long hard Irish winter of 1994, I borrowed my sister-in-law's Swedish typewriter and sat down at a table in my bedroom and wrote my first novel. Then, we continued with the plan. Bought the farm. Lived off the land. We did what we wanted.

And now, January 2011, I am here. Last week one of my books became a Printz Honor book. Today, the same book has been nominated for an Edgar Award. Something tells me that Poe would forgive me for waiting a little while longer to start. Now I can see that sometimes, it's not the right time to do a thing. And sometimes, it is.

A huge thank you for all the congratulations you've sent in the last weeks. Every kind word has meant the world to me. And a HUGE thank you to the Mystery Writers of America for this amazing nomination. I am stoked beyond belief.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Let's Try That Again


Okay--since last night's contest went so quickly, I'm back with something a little more traditional. (And I do hope you all forgive me for admitting that Taylor Swift makes me cry. I'm still ten feet tall and made of metal and I still play Sabbath riffs on my my bass guitar and am a 100% Hendrix fiend. Totally. Just Taylor is from this town. And it's nice to point to her and say to my kids, "Look at her! She's from here like you are!" And that song just makes me bawl like some sort of romantic wedding or something. It's a very strange phenomenon for this Vulcan. Don't judge.)

Story = Beginning + Middle + End Contest Challenge:

Can you write a story in three sentences?
I want to care about your character/s, go through something with him/her/them and feel like there is a reasonable conclusion. Are you up to it?

**Bonus points for using an obscure, rare or big word [correctly].**
**Negative Bonus points if above word feels shoehorned. You do not need a big word to win this.**
**Out of the box thinking, humor and wit are always welcome.**

Please leave your three-sentence story in the comment area - don't forget to leave your email address!
DEADLINE: Wednesday Jan. 19, 2011, 11PM EST 
PRIZE: A signed, personalized copy of Please Ignore Vera Dietz.

Good Luck and Thanks For Playing!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Contest of Sap -- ALREADY CLOSED.

I'll tell you this for nothing: It's be a wonderful emotional week. In this article in my local paper, The Reading Eagle, I was quoted as saying both, "It has been so exciting. It's just slowly sinking in. It made me instantly cry pretty amazing," and "When I got the news (of the Printz Honor), I just freaked out and started to cry."

Look. I've admitted that I'm a sap before, but I'm not usually someone who cries or cries "instantly." In fact, I haven't cried since Monday morning when I heard all you fabulous people cheering for Vera in San Diego. Not a tear. . . even though this week has been beyond fabulous.

Until tonight. When I heard a song that, EVERY SINGLE TIME I HEAR IT, makes me cry. Like sob. Like a huge, gargantuan sap.

UPDATE: Contest won in under 30 minutes by Sara. You rock.

Guess which song it is and win a copy of Please Ignore Vera Dietz,
Three hints:
  1. You might be shocked that I even know this song.
  2. Classic literature is referenced.
  3. It's a 21st century song. (As opposed to 99.9% of music that I listen to.) 

Contest ends when someone guesses correctly. First right answer wins!
Leave your guesses in the comments with your email address in spambot-proof format (you (at) here (dot) com.)
If my hints suck and none of you guess, Ill add more hints in a day or two. (Mr. King made me add this, but I have more faith in you, readers.)
Good Luck!

And thanks again for your genuine kindness this week!
Oh! And if you want a great laugh, you need to follow the tumblr of Will Work for Prom Dress author Aimee Ferris. Here's a feature in today's GalleyCat. Can you guess who that is? (And speaking of sappy, check out the caption.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pictures That Make Me Smile

Still pretty speechless here. I mean, other than saying thank you to everyone for their wonderful reactions to this news. It's been a really humbling experience to say the least. I can't tell you how much your kind words have meant to me! No really. I can't. I'm still speechless, remember? So I'm posting pictures that people sent me in the last few days that made me smile.

These two pictures from ALA are thanks to Alyson Beecher:

Vera with her jewelry on. 


Vera with more jewelry on.
This next one is thanks to Katherine Fergason who thought to take a screenshot while books took over twitter for 15 minutes yesterday! (Go books!) I think my excitement over "Vera Dietz" trending on Twitter proves without a shadow of a doubt that I am an enormous dork. Can't say I'm surprised. I do lock myself in a room and write books for a living. What could be dorkier? (Answer: Computer camp in 1980. I did that too. Trust me, I know what dorks look like.)

Books Trend on Twitter! Go Vera Dietz!
We took a long family walk to the mailbox after I got my phone call from the Printz committee on Sunday afternoon. I call this "Sunset on a Very Freakin' Good Day"

Don't worry. I didn't chop my hair off again. It's tucked into my coat. It's cold, man.

And finally, the goodies. Flowers from some very kind people in the publishing world and a pizza cookie from a close friend. If you all lived closer I would share the cookie. Promise.

That is a chocolate chip cookie pizza.

I'll be back soon with real things to say. For now, I need to go finish this synopsis for book #4. The thing I was supposed to be working on instead of creating this blog. Oops.

.

Monday, January 10, 2011

PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ wins a Michael L. Printz Honor

What does a person say when her dream has been realized?
I have no idea.
I'm not big into crying, but I admit I've cried quite a bit in the last 22 hours since I heard.
Random A.S. King Fact: I always tear up a bit during the Candice Bergen "Put Another Log on the Fire" skit on the Muppet Show and that's what I was watching when I got the call.



My poor daughters are so sick of me saying, "Girls, there are still a lot of men out there who think like that. You need to remember this when you get older and start dating boys, okay?" Seriously. I say that every single time we watch that episode. The eye rolling on their part is getting more and more animated. That said, they both cheer when Candice shoots the door open and bares her awesome t-shirt. I will never be able to explain to them what the world was like in 1976, when that was filmed, but every time they ask, "Why does she shoot the door?"

Anyway, I had just said that line to my daughters when the phone rang and I picked it up and someone introduced herself as part of the Michael L. Printz committee. Which, if you consider the content of Please Ignore Vera Dietz, is ironic timing.

I'm not sure how to explain it to you, but I always considered VERA a book that can show readers what a good man looks like. I don't know how to back up that assertion but for a long time I was going to dedicate it to my daughters because I wrote it for them--so they could see what happens in real life and see how abusive people are made from shame and silence. I know Ken Dietz doesn't look like a good man to some readers, but in comparison to so many in the book, he is an amazing man. He can change. And that's a very hard thing for human beings to do. I think that's as far as I can go to explain why the Candice Bergen skit and Please Ignore Vera Dietz fit together in my head. They both illuminate the "norm" and both feature women who break out of it in their own ways. And I want my daughters to know that it's easy to fall in love with the wrong man. It happens all the time! What's difficult is breaking out of the relationship because when you discover you've landed under the control of another, shame and embarrassment can prevent you from getting out.

Vera knew right from wrong. So does the character in the Candice Bergen skit.

Consider this blog the sort of babbling one does upon getting news like this. I just don't know what to say, really.

So I'll end here: A huge thank you to everyone who has ever supported me and to my good friends who understand that I am, like Vera Dietz, the kind of person who points to the elephant in the room and says, "Hey! look at that big honkin' elephant!"

And a HUGE congratulations to all winners today--and a special shout out to Blythe Woolston, author of The Freak Observer who won the Morris Award! Woot!