Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On six, the Ingalls, New Jersey with a bonus creep round

On Six

I did something new today. I was in my local library working on something library-board-related and these two teenage boys were walking around trying to find something to read. One was telling the other one, "You don't read novels." The other one answered, "I do so." The other one said, "Let's just get a DVD or some shit."

I was sitting at a table, the YA section to my left, and when they wandered back my way I said, "If you need me to get out of your way, just tell me."

The one kid said, "Nah. He doesn't read novels."
The other kid said, "I read novels. I read everything James Patterson ever wrote."
I said, "You like James Patterson?"
And then I did the thing I never did before. I reached up into the stacks and pulled out my own book. I handed him Everybody Sees the Ants and showed him James Patterson's blurb on the back and said, "James Patterson liked this one. I bet you would too."

At this point they were both looking at me like I was nuts. All my library policy papers were scattered on the table behind me. My leather jacket was half hanging on the chair, half lying on the floor. I admit, my hair was messy today. I may have seemed crazy.

So then I told them that it was my book. They were pretty freaked out by this.
And then I told the kid who was holding the book that he didn't have to get it today. No pressure. But that it was there if he wanted to read it. I told him it was set here in this town and about a kid that might live here just like he does. I did not tell him that it uses the word vagina over 20 times.

I'm pretty sure that would have freaked him out more, but it may have also guaranteed that he would come back for it.

Anyway, I never did that before. I don't recommend my books to anyone. Instead, I recommend other people's books to people. It's easier because even though it's all you see me do here on the blog, I don't ever actually talk about being an author in real life.

Seriously. It takes a lot to get me to admit what I do for a living to strangers. Usually I say I'm self-employed. That's not me being coy. It's me being shy. Or modest or something. It's just how I am. It's also me avoiding all those odd questions people tend to ask once they know you're an author. (Offshoot: Why do people think it's okay to ask authors how much money we make? That's so weird. I have never asked anyone how much money they make.)

Anyway, where am I going with this?

The six stars. And what it's like to be me this week with all this good news.
Only so many people know me.
I think that's true of most of us.
I was surprised last week when someone I consider a good friend referred to me as a social person.
I am equally surprised when others here in my town say the opposite of me.
Fact: I am both. I am neither.
Some people in my life tell me I need to be more positive/celebratory while others are so damn sick of me being a celebratory, taco-eating optimist that they want to strangle me.

Here's the deal.
I'm a realist.
I like the truth.

And the truth was, last year when Everybody Sees the Ants got six starred reviews, which is a rare thing, my agent and my editor and I all said the same thing.

This will never happen again. Do not get used to it.

This wasn't negative thinking. It was realist thinking. It's the kind of thinking you do when something spectacular happens to you and you have to continue working on new books.
But now here we are.
We were wrong.
This is the nicest I've ever felt about being wrong in my life.

> > >

I was watching Little House on the Prairie the other day and I realized that I am a pretty simple person. I have only ever bought myself about three nice splurge-y things: A stained glass lampshade that hangs above my kitchen table, a pair of red Spanish boots, and a really special painting by a favorite artist. It doesn't take much to make me happy. I lived a long time without a penny and I wanted it that way. I am often in the company of people who do not understand that idea at all, the same as I will never understand those who actually enjoy shopping for clothing.

Anyway, about those stars. I feel grateful more than anything. What an outcome! From a book that I thought wasn't going to make it. From a book that had to have a third of it replaced. From a book about love and compassion and no-labels in a world full of judgements, snark and labels. From a book that made me worry about how I would handle it never happening again. 

What I've realized is: Inside my head, I will always be Caroline Ingalls married to Charles Ingalls. We will work hard, will probably not have much and we will be happy regardless. And when we get good news we will celebrate with our family and dance like fools in our kitchen. We will get a lot of splinters.

> > >


Clinton Book Shop Saturday, Dec. 1st, 7pm.

Come chill out (and boogie down) with us at Clinton Book Shop this Saturday. We always have a great time and Rob has promised to turn down the holiday music and crank up the funk in my honor. I'll be reading a bit from Ask the Passengers and since it went down so well in Haverford, I plan on reading a little bit of 2013's Reality Boy as well. 

Come into town early! Christmas shop. There are so many great family owned and run stores in Clinton. In case you need a reminder of how shopping locally improves the economy and community, here's a great piece about it. 

See you then!

> > >

And for fun, I figured I'd toss these out. Just a sampling of the winners I get on Facebook, still. Remember, I'm 100% non-searchable and private on FB. If you're a stranger, you can't find my personal page unless you're trawling. So those of you with kids on FB, remind them that these creeps are out there and want nothing else but a reply in order to hook a fish. If you think a smart kid can't get snagged, think again and read my original blog on this subject and the accompanying book. (Sarah Darer Littman's Want to Go Private?)

Angels on earth. Dude. Also, you are so not from Dublin, Ireland.
But my day was blessed, so thanks.

You don't know me well enough, but if you did, you'd know that
multiple punctuation marks really annoy me.
Your fishing isn't going to yield much with bait like this.

Oh Clark. You are smart.
I bet plenty of girls and women answer you, too.

Remember to check your  kids' "Other" folder from time to time in their message area. Facebook is pretty good about detecting spam. But remember, this isn't any old spam. These people are out to pick up girls/women/boys/men. Facebook has made their reporting system a bit more vague and lame since I first reported this situation in the above blog, but remember to report these creepers anyway. That way they can't stay lakeside (under that account, anyway) and catch another mother's fish.

Thank you!

Anyway. Today I finished the library policy book I'd been working on since July. Now to finish a secret project. Then, tomorrow, to get back to Max Black.

Adding: Wow. How many times can I start a sentence with Anyway?


Liviania said...

I'm so happy I don't get these weird messages on my (private, unsearchable) Facebook. Perhaps because my picture is me biting into a miniature loaded potato? (My vanity is strange.)

A.S. King said...

I don't think it has to do with my picture. People being creepy are the sole responsibility of...those creepy people. Maybe this goes back to my name coming up early because it's an initial and an A.

I need to reiterate this one thing, Liviania, so don't think I'm going off on you here, but I need to make this clear and you've given me a perfect way to phrase it. xoxo

The thing I want to stress--especially after meeting the [very smart] girl who likes to talk to these creeps as a fun game, and especially after reading Sarah's book.

If your kid is on the internet, you have to make sure this stuff is understood. No type of picture or profile will automatically make them immune. If we believe this is the case, we will build a false sense of security and forget to check in on the subject. (i.e. if my kid's FB picture is of Grover from Sesame Street, no need to ask her if anyone strange tried to get her to meet him at the local Taco Bell.)

We are a blame-the-victim society. Too many are waiting on the sidelines to say, "She shouldn't have posted a real picture of herself." Or, you know, "She shouldn't have been wearing that short skirt."

The message is: Receiving creepy trawling messages from weirdoes is not my fault for being on the internet, no matter if I posted a picture of myself in a bikini. If they hit send, then that's their issue, their motivation and their action.

Which is why I post about it a few times per year.

RobinReads said...

"We will work hard, will probably not have much and we will be happy regardless." Something to which we all can aspire.

Also, thanks for reminding people about Internet Safety - so important!