Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Orleans, ALA & Let Me Tell You About My Mother

How do I begin to blog my first ALA?
How do I begin to explain what it’s like spending time with people who love books as much as I do? And—weirder still—who love my books, and who aren’t afraid to tell me about it?
Well, I’ll start here: Librarians rock.

In these days of shrinking budgets in the library and education arenas, I’ve had many opportunities to think about why these budget makers seem to be so shortsighted. My theories have gone from the idea that they have simply forgotten how they got to where they are (education) to the idea that they have begun to underestimate what librarians do (maybe they think they are simply alphabetizers and book putter-awayers.) Or, of course, the theory closest to what’s probably true. . . they are spending the money on other things that aren’t nearly as important when it comes to the future of our country, our communities and our people and just don't have enough left over. [translation: their priorities have shifted for one reason or another, which makes those first two theories a lot easier to use as excuses.]

And so, allow me to selfishly say that I am glad I get to spend time with librarians. I’m glad because I know what librarians do, and I understand and respect how important they are to a society and to every individual in every community they serve. Because I am an author, I understand how they turn children on to reading and  information early and keep them engaged with hand-picked selections for a lifetime. Because I am a library trustee, I understand how they do this on very small budgets on very small salaries.

Yes—I know it’s hard to believe, but librarians are not paid gobs of money.

Which means that they must love service to their communities more than, well. . . more than those people we elect who get paid a lot more who then cut library budgets. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that life these days is very like a science fiction novel, and SHIP BREAKER isn’t too far away.

Which is exactly what Paolo Bacigalupi’s speech was about when he accepted the Michael L. Printz Award on Monday night. As he spoke, I fell in love with his brain—even more than I already was—because like him, I grew up on science fiction and like him, I am seeing all those scary motifs in sci-fi come to life and it’s scaring the hell out of me because the pigs are walking on two legs, wearing pants, sleeping in beds and have changed the rules on the wall right in front of us.
Shoot. Where was I?
ALA. Librarians.
It’s hard for me to think about libraries these days without drifting into Orwell.
Sorry about that.

ALA Annual 2011 in New Orleans reminded me that even though the budget makers are doing their hacking, librarians still exist, and they still care about our families and our minds and our society and our communities.

So I'll end here: Librarians rock.

My schedule was so crazy I didn’t even get to Bourbon Street once. I know! I suck! I also didn't get many pictures, so a huge thank you to those who sent some to me, and I hope to be back later in the week and show you some others from the official press set.

Highlights:
  • All the awesome librarians. (I know—a given, but still.)
  • Walter calling me vixen on Saturday night (by accident, but who cares? Walter rocks.)
  • Beignets, the stifling heat, the scenery in the few parts of New Orleans I saw.
Beignets = why can't we have these everywhere?

  • Meeting my first editor, Andrew Karre, in person for the first time ever.
  • Meeting Blythe Woolston, author of THE FREAK OBSERVER who gave me maybe the coolest t-shirt I have ever owned.
  • Spending time with fellow authors and meeting a lot of new ones.
  • Signing ARCs of EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS for a huge line of people who were so kind to wait so long! Welcome to the world Lucky Linderman! We're going to have an interesting autumn!
The Little, Brown booth!
  • Seeing my old friend Heather Baker, who is a youth librarian in CT now, but who I went to summer camp and high school with when I was a kid. This was a huge highlight, actually. Heather has been so supportive and I'm not sure she knows how much that means.
  • All the awesome librarians.
  • Signing copies of PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ in the Random House booth.
  • Printz Day. All of it. 
  • Breakfast with Andrew Karre.
  • Printz Day—the lunch where I got to meet the Printz committee and thank them in person for such a great honor and tell them what it means to me.
  • Printz Day—the lunch where I got to meet Lucy and Janne and gush. I haven’t finished STOLEN yet, but I have read NOTHING, and I highly recommend it.
  • Printz Day—the reception where I got to talk to REVOLVER's Marcus a bit and everyone gave wonderful speeches.
Photo Credit: Heather Baker
  • All the awesome librarians.
  • Printz Day—the reception where I spoke to a really wonderful crowd which held all four of my editors, hundreds of awesome librarians, many friends (especially Heather!) and many authors, editors, and publishing professionals whom I admire greatly.
  • Meeting Paolo and telling him how awesome he is. 
  • Printz Day—where so many people came to me after the reception and said wonderful things about PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ and my speech. Thank you!
  • Printz Day—after the reception where I had a relaxing drink with awesome librarians and authors.
  • All the awesome librarians.
Me giving librarian love to Angie! (Photo credit to Angie)
  • Printz Day—when I got back to my hotel and couldn’t sleep because I was so completely stoked about it being Printz Day. So I packed at 2:30AM and enjoyed the last of the Printz buzz.
  • Meeting Snow-the-awesome-librarian in the airport on my way home and letting her guide me though my conference-brained departure for Philly airport (this included letting me know that I needed a real live boarding pass, waiting while the security people found a bottle of water which I stupidly forgot to take out of my bag as if I don’t fly several times a month these days, and then helping me pick out gifts for my kids.) (Snow, Dude—the flamingo ROCKED.)
  • Meeting Sophie from the Printz committee on my plane! And then librarian Erika at baggage claim.
  • Buying a Burger King kids meal from the drive thru from the back of a limo. (It was the NICEST bacon cheeseburger I ever ate AND there was a Transformer inside. Winning.)
  • Hugging my kids when I got home and showing off my Printz Honor.
I think this post is now too long. So I will leave you with this link to the School Library Journal article which has a link to their slideshow of the night. . . and a video of my Printz speech. HUGE thanks to Torrey Meeks, video genius, who made this video so much better than it was and to Alex from Random House for taking it! I will be back with more pictures once they trickle in. I have other tidbits of news, but will save them for the next post. Now. . . let me tell you about my mother:


If you had trouble with the slightly echoey audio on that video, you can always try this video from further back in the audience, which sounds clearer!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dude, It's nearly July. Lots of News Here.

I am on my way to New Orleans. And I have to be honest, I'm experiencing a bit of late-acting gobsmackedness. Like, I am about to go to the American Library Association Annual Conference and to the Caldecott Newberry Banquet and to the Printz Banquet the next night where I will make a speech and. . . and. . .

You know, it's still not really real. And so, I've written my speech and I have purchased my very odd dresses (plural, ahem) and I've extensively researched the pool availability times at my hotel so I can do some laps and feel normal. But no matter how many laps I do, THIS IS NOT NORMAL.
DUDES.
I am about to go to ALA to accept a Michael L. Printz Honor. This is about as amazing as it gets.
Like woah.
ANYWAY!
If you want to see me at ALA, I have two signing slots on Sunday, June 26th.
  • I'll be at the Little Brown Booth (#1129) from Noon-1pm signing ARCs of EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS.
  • I'll be at the Random House booth (#1215) from 3:30-4:30 signing PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ.
Again: DUDES. This is INSANE. I am a basement-dwelling writer with a rubber snake and a fuzzy stuffed sperm as office pets. Surely this is a dream. I will be back with pictures.

Some EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS stuff


There's an excerpt there, so if you got here with promise of an ANTS excerpt, click up there!

Second, here are a few blurbs from authors you may know. This isn't all of them. I still have to thank these wonderful people for taking the time to read the book and for saying such nice things. I've been so swamped, I haven't been able to arrange the herd of goats I owe each of them. (Mental note: send herd of goats to each of these authors. Or at least an email, Amy. These deadlines are starting to make you look rude and that's just not right. It's one thing to ignore your children, but not thanking blurbers is just wrong. You have one week to do this until you have to come back here and publicly apologize.)


"Everybody Sees The Ants is dark, funny, brilliant. A.S. King is a dynamic author, and a force to be reckoned with!"
—Ellen Hopkins, NYT best selling author of Crank, Glass and Tricks

"From the first line, A.S. King's unique voice is loud and so clear. Her compelling characters find themselves in incredible and yet oh-so-believable situations and it's one wild ride. I loved EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS."

—Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of I'll Be There
 

"A.S. King has become one of our bravest, smartest, and finest storytellers."
-Printz Honor recipient Terry Trueman, author of Stuck in Neutral

"Packed full of quirky characters, every last one of whom jumps off the
page with authenticity, this is a book I will read-and love-over and over again."
-Jennifer Brown, author of Hate List and Bitter End

"A psychological thriller full of magic and realism and hard won truth.
Funny and serious all at once in a way that only a great, enduring book can be."
-Francisco X. Stork, author of Marcelo in the Real World

"A terrific read.... Whip smart and emotionally touching."
-Gail Giles, author of What Happened to Cass McBride?

"Awesome. Hilarious. Brutal."
-Sean Beaudoin, author of You Killed Wesley Payne

"Do yourself a huge favor and read this book!"
-James Patterson, bestselling author of the Maximum Ride and Witch & Wizard series


PLEASE NOTE--anyone in the Reading, PA area!!

I will be talking to the Pagoda Writers Group at THE ACTUAL PAGODA on July 2nd from 1pm-3pm.



And hey Omaha, Nebraska. . .

I'M COMING BACK!
With Heather Brewer and Jackie Morse Kessler!

July 13, 2011 6:30-8:30pm
Free Books. Free Food. 



And Check out this AMAZING video review, please. 
Because it rocks.

 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

#winning

Everybody Does See my Pants
So, I have a winner in the Everybody Sees my Pants contest. But before then, a newsflash or two mixed with periodic outbursts of dance.
  • PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ will have a Turkish version, which is way cool.
  • She's also a nominee for the TAYSHAS High School Reading List, which we're totally stoked about.
(Random dancing.)
    In loud voice, kinda rabble-rousing: IF YOU LIVE NEAR OMAHA, NEBRASKA YOU HAVE TO COME AND SEE THIS ON WEDNESDAY! (That's TOMORROW): June 8, Bryan HS, Omaha, NE 7-9pm with Lisa McMann, Coe Booth, Ellen Hopkins, Matt De La Pena and me. Free books, free food, open to the public and more random dancing.
    * * *

    OKAY! On to the fun stuff. To the entrants of this contest: ROCK ON. I nearly peed myself a few times with some of these entries. I loved all of these and thank you all for entering. Here's our list of top eight (but really top ten...wait for it...)
    1. Everybody Pees Their Pants & Sequel: Everybody Pees Their Pants: Part Poo ~Michelle
    2. Everyone Sneezes Aunts & Sequels: Nobody coughs uncles, Some hiccup Cousins ~Geeky nerd
    3. Everyone Hears the Mosquitoes: First Blood. ~EJ (You know I love my Rambo references.)
    4. Please Ignore Vera's Tweets ~GinaRosati
    5. The Lust of 100 Hogs & Sequel: Please Ignore Vera’s Pork Diet ~Gem
    6. Everybody Sees Your Implants, a sequel to The Bust of 100 Dogs. ~Skye (In The Good Books)
    7. Everybody's Worn Those Pants ~kourtneyheintz
    8. Everyone Can See Down Your Pants ~Courtney Krieger

    And the winner is MARY CASHMAN, who gave us these three gems, any of which could be the winner:
    • Everybody! Seize the Ants! Sequel: What Do We Do With All These Ants?
    • The Stud of 100 Dogs, and its prequel: 99 Problems and a Bitch IS One of Them.
    • The prequel to Everybody Sees the Ants: Nobody Admits Spilling the Kool Aid
    Mary, I've emailed you! I'm on the road until next week, but I'll get that in the mail for you ASAP!

    Now, don't get used to this regular blogging thing. After Nebraska things are going to get REALLY QUIET until ALA in New Orleans at the end of June. I have this book that I have to write. And then in July & August, the beginning of another. So you may see me flash my Get Out of Blog Free card.

    But you can always picture me here:
    And know I am creating more characters with every stroke.

    And while I'm gone you can always go over to StoryCasting.com and cast Please Ignore Vera Dietz. You can also cast The Dust of 100 Dogs AND Everybody Sees the Ants.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    About that "article" (opinion piece)

    I heard a great quote a few weeks back that went something like this: Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

    So when I read that "article" (opinion piece) in the Wall Street Journal  (no I'm not linking it) about how YA books are disgusting, horrible things that are ruining our youth, I refused to respond with arguments. Instead, I did what I usually do when faced with a person I don't know who is acting a way that perplexes me. I wondered what made the author tick. I tried to find motive and figure out what sort of person would make wide judgments about what my children  should read--about what I should  feel and do as a parent. I treated her like a character in one of my books and I did what all my editors have asked me to do. I dug deeper into the character and I dug deeper into the story and found holes. But I didn't argue. Because for me, arguing with this person is no different than arguing with those lunatics who protest our annual Vagina Monologues  which raises money for rape victims. So far, their picket signs have not made rape victims go away, and I have bigger work to do than to point that out to them.

    Then this morning, I found Liz B.'s response over at her SLJ blog and I was so happy she found the same plot and character holes I did. So I made a comment there--of which I want to quote a portion here as my only response to that "article" (opinion piece.)
    What I found most disturbing was the recommended reading list–which was made of books which are plenty dark whose authors would likely disagree with the article. The bizarre need to genderize it was the perfect irony. If our society would stop being so obsessed about sexuality, gender and sex roles maybe we’d have some time to talk about and work on the real problems which cause real darkness in 1 out of 3 people’s lives. And maybe the WSJ would print articles about the startling teen rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence statistics that our country boasts. 
    Or, we could just ignore it and you know, go back to talking about bedbugs and the weather.
    Go add to the discussion at #yasaves on Twitter. Make sure to hug your well-informed librarians and booksellers as soon as you can. I will also hug my open-minded parents today. Until then, I'm going to go work on my next dangerous piece of fiction. Because I have letters around here that prove that telling the truth in YA books saves lives. And I am damn proud to be a part of that.

    Adding this late: Here's a response from my good friend Jackie Morse Kessler, whose book was mentioned in the article (opinion piece) that I think is just awesome.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Emer, Saffron & a free copy of D100D

    I totally forgot to steer you to Candace's blog yesterday. She's posted a great interview with Emer, Saffron and me which includes the NEXT SCENE of The Dust of 100 Dogs after the final page. She's also hosting a giveaway of a copy of the book. Go check it out!