Friday, January 27, 2012

Hey! Lucky Made the Top Ten.

EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS made the 2012 top ten best fiction for young adults list. That's awesome.
Check out this great list as well as the entire BFYA list.

Thank you to the hardworking committee who made this happen.

Don't Stir the Rabbit.

I got this letter last week from a college student somewhere in America. It was a great letter. It was about writing and books and life and people. And it said:

What do you do with people who think that they're better than you?

Wow.
Welcome to my life.
Welcome to everyone's life, I think.

I just did my page proof reading of ASK THE PASSENGERS (Oct 2012) and I found this line in there that says something like this: "Everone is always looking for a way to be better than everyone else. In second grade, you're better than the first graders and in eighth grade, you're better than the seventh graders. It never ends."

I totally paraphrased my own book because I'm too lazy to go looking for the actual quote right now.
But you get the gist.

What do you do with people who think that they're better than you?

I have underlined the key word in that question.
This is all a matter of perception.
Isn't everything?

Being a writer is a funny thing.
For 15 years I wrote books without getting published, which is the average Joe's idea of 'success' in writing and so I met a lot of people who thought I was nuts, delusional, and wasting my time. I was freako Amy. People would talk to me about their real jobs and how much they made per year and I would have nothing to offer to the conversation but a few unpublished manuscripts, hours of volunteer literacy work and a farm full of next year's food.

The funny part: once I did get published, and once I sold another book, which proved I might continue to publish, suddenly I had to deal with a complete reversal of what others thought of me. This is the phenomenon I call The Perception Trap.

We are all at the mercy of other people's perceptions. Now that I'm published, for example, some people may think that I am no longer freako Amy who was what I was a few years ago. Now, depending who you talk to, I am 100 other Amys who don't really exist.

But really I'm still just me.
And all those other Amys live inside other people's heads.

People who think that they're better than you will never go away. They usually have time on their hands to think about this stuff. Try to make sure you don't. Get busy doing cool stuff that they don't have time to do because they're so busy sewing imaginary you and me dolls with their brains. (And most likely talking about those dolls with anyone who will listen.)
Get busy living.

Due to the Perception Trap, I've met some people who think that I believe I poop Hagen Das ice cream because I write books for a living.
This couldn't be further from the truth. (So far, I've written books for no reason more than I've written them for a living. The ratio for us math geeks is: 9:5)
I've always been kinda goofy and humble and I plan on staying that way. Egotism bums me out. Egotism is not saying "I rock!" to myself from time to time. That's self-esteem or positivity. It's not at all  related to "You suck!" or "I rock more than that other person rocks!"

Look.
No one is better than anyone else.
The trick is to make sure your brain isn't competing with perceptions vs. realities.
The trick is to stop competing all together.

They are plenty of people who think they're better than me. I get the added bonus of reading material to that fact--from hate mail to personally insulting blog posts masquerading as reviews of my books (none of these do I really read except the hate mail because someone has to.) There are fellow writers who wouldn't even say hi to me if we were waiting at the same taxi stand and we were the only two there.

Before I was a writer, there were people like this. When I was a photographer, there were fellow photographers like this. When I was a college student there were fellow college students like this. When I was in high school, there were fellow high school students like this. It never really ends because humans are weird.

Let them do what they want.

You just worry about you. Get done what you want to get done. Ignore who you need to ignore.

My personal feeling is: big heads are inconvenient. I feel sad for those people who have them. I don't feel better than them, though. I keep being freako Amy and the people who matter know me for who I am and not some messed up idea of me they made up in their head so they could dislike me.

Why would you try to reason with someone like that?

Dude. That's like trying to reason with Glenn Close while you're stirring your own pet rabbit in a pot.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This Is Why.

Did you know I'm into volunteering for my community?
If you didn't, then you know now.
If you did, then you know I'm slightly vague about it most of the time.
I didn't move to this town to become the vice president of this or the secretary of that. Sometimes, there are so few people to help communities run that some people have to say yes or else community services would die.
People aren't lining up to help out.
Believe me.



That's why I talk about community volunteer work online on twitter and stuff. I like to remind people that their communities don't run themselves.
All it takes is a little time.
Or maybe that base understanding.
Or a minute to really look at a thing and realize that there is no good time to do it...except NOW.

Segue into part two...

So, okay. Sometimes people say weird stuff. And some time last year, I forget where, someone was writing about EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS and how the The Vagina Monologues is mentioned in it and said something (I am totally paraphrasing) like "The Vagina Monologues just evokes the image of a 50 year old white woman."

Not everyone knows about the V-Day cause, I guess. They may not know that Eve Ensler has raised over 50 million dollars in aid for girls and women suffering torture around the world through her V-Day organization. (Read about her work in the Congo here.)

But this isn't Eve all by herself.
A lot of people are V-warriors. There are tens of thousands of us.
All races, ages, genders and classes.

I usually save all V-Day talk for a little later in the year when there are shows in thousands of locations worldwide including the one in my town.

So why am I writing about it today?

A freshman in high school named James Damore.
(Clue: Not a 50 year old white woman.)

I woke up on Tuesday to a call from my mother. My mother always calls early in the morning when I'm in the local paper. Tuesday, there was a great review of EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS in the weekly teen section, called Voices. I picked up a copy of the paper on my way back from the preschool drop off and when I opened it, I saw that name in the byline.

James Damore.

I met James on the set of I Am an Emotional Creature. Considering the aforementioned gap in popular knowledge when it comes to Eve Ensler's life's work for women, I will link you here to this book: I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World which was released in 2010 and was a brilliant segue into the next generation of warriors who can fight the good fight to end violence against women. Our local V-Day put on the show last year as a companion show to The Vagina Monologues. I watched it every time.
I Am an Emotional Creature pretty much blew me away.

The script was amazing.
The actors were all fantastic.
The teachers involved were incredible.
But the thing that made my heart do that twisty thing during every show was this: All the actors were teenage girls.
And the crew were teenagers too.

And so... I met James Damore, V-man and crew, whose sister was in the show and who is quite an actor himself.

To see his name on the byline of a review of EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, for me, was one of those moments that an author doesn't get very often. I had no idea he had read the book or had written a review. This has nothing, really to do with a great review for which I am more than grateful. This goes deeper than that. I knew that James knew. 

He knows the deal.
He knows what V-Day is.
He has given his time to help women and girls.
Already.
And the dude is only a freshman in high school.

This is why.

It's why I ask you to go see the show.
Or at least look into the cause [before you badmouth it.]

It's why I ask you to serve in your community. I don't care how. If you use your community's resources then you should consider giving back. Most communities run on the sweat of very few volunteers. Becoming one of them gives a sense of pride and links you to where you live and the people there.


It's easy for me to be a V-warrior...long before I'm 50. I've been an active feminist since birth. I plan to go out swinging.
It was easy for James to be a V-warrior. He saw he was needed, he loves theater, and he said yes.

The more people out there who value another's hard work to do good in the world rather than judge them, the better our chances will be to succeed. The simplest answer is to act.

This is why.

Be a James. Don't let anyone tell you that volunteering is a pain. Or too much work for nothing. Or that it might take up too much of your time. I've done it in my teens, my 20s, my 30s and my 40s. With kids, without kids, with jobs, without jobs. I just did it.

The time is now to help keep your towns alive. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do. Find something you love and ask them how you can help.

This is why.




Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Introducing REALITY BOY.

Very excited about this sale and this book. It's almost done and I will be making it more and more perfect through the next few weeks. Behold! The tin foil hat book:

Printz Honor author A.S. King's REALITY BOY, in which an infamous reality TV child star, now a damaged teenage boy, meets a girl who forces him out of his angry shell before they run away and send their dysfunctional families a list of demands that must be met in order for them to come back, to Andrea Spooner at Little, Brown Children's, for publication in Fall 2013, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World English).

Celebrate with me.
And be reminded that a list of demands is never a bad idea.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stuff That Makes My Day.

Umm..

Stuff like this. Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King

And dudes. This. 

And this, too...from Women Against War.

Also, I am rereading Andrew Smith's The Marbury Lens and I want to say that I read this book at some point in 2011 and it should have been on my last blog. I never reread books (except for Vonnegut and a few classics and favorites). Oh snap. It turns out this one fits into classics and favorites for me. If you haven't read it yet, do. The sequel is coming later this year and is called PASSENGER.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Highlights & Random Pictures

2011 was an amazing year so I figured doing an end of year random picture post would be a good idea so I can remember 2011 and everything wonderful that's happened and celebrate, because I forget to celebrate sometimes. (Author note: I wrote this blog intro a week ago. I have since celebrated. I have proof at the end of the post.)

I have a good friend in this business--the awesome Lauren Baratz-Logsted--who told me from the beginning: Enjoy every minute. So, I do that. I enjoy every single minute. I try to concentrate on the positive things and I always--ALWAYS--have my eye on the next book and my future dreams and am working to make it a reality. I think that's the most important thing a writer can do...keep writing and keep dreaming.

2011 was crazy at times, and I mean crazy-good. And sometimes crazy-good gets in the way of writing all the time. It had me feeling a little behind for a while this year, but I eventually caught up, so I don't feel like I'm chasing anything impossible...at the moment, anyway.

So let's take a minute to recap a wonderful year.

January
Dudes. In January 2011, PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ received news of her Printz Honor and her Edgar Award nomination. WHAT A MONTH! Seriously. Surreal and crazy and all sorts of good. There were Vulcan tears shed--you can ask the Printz committee. 



Then it snowed a bunch of times.


AWESOME READ IN JANUARY: I'LL BE THERE by Holly Goldberg Sloan. What a great book! If you haven't read it, you really should.


February



I was able to share two awesome pieces of news...first, the cover for EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS. Then, news of the sale of my 2012 release, ASK THE PASSENGERS. Random picture: I went to NYC for Sara J. Henry's launch of LEARNING TO SWIM...it was awesome (the book and the launch party.) LEARNING TO SWIM is my Awesome February read. 



March



I wrote like a crazy person. There are no pictures of me as a writing crazy person. Also, the audio of PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ arrived around this time. (And I've forgotten pretty much which books I read when at this point...so forgive the lack of Awesome Book listings until fall.)


Random picture from March. We have signs like this in my town.

April


April started with the annual Vagina Monologues show and my annual post about being part of the solution.  Feel free to find a show in your area this year and occupy one of these seats and make a difference in the movement to end violence against women and girls. 


And of course, April is pool painting time. There it is. With my feet. That's lane three there to my left. Odd fact: Those shoes never fit me. They were always too small and they made my toes hurt. I have finally tossed them and replaced them in my size. I know you're all relieved. I know my toes are. 


I took the whole family to Washington D.C. and paid a visit to the wall and found the missing soldier I take with me everywhere on my POW/MIA bracelet.


April ended with The Edgar Awards in NYC, where Mr. King and I got all gussied up and had a smashing time. See? Here's us having a smashing time. Going to the Edgars was an AMAZING experience. It made me want to hang out with mystery writers more often. They're loads of fun. And the MWA is a great organization that blew me away with just how much they do for writers. 



May

My [kinda messy looking] office was featured at one of my favorite Tumblrs, Write Place, Write Time.


May is the time for the Rochester Teen Book Festival. Here is the AWESOME Terry Trueman posing as the poster child for the Creative Minds Club.


Then there are these two pictures from our local fair where I and the family hung out and promoted our awesome community pool. I think these are my favorite two pictures of the year. 



June


And then there was June. Crazy busy June. By June, I was in the thick of editorial letters for ASK THE PASSENGERS and was trying my best to fight back against the book-who-tried-to-kill-me. (That's its other name. But we've forgiven it now.) I got to go to Bryan High School in Omaha, Nebraska for the first time in 2011...not knowing I'd be back two more times in the same year. What a school! What a librarian! What teachers! What a principal. <---Best principal EVER. And I got to go to my annual writing retreat with the best writing pals ever. 

But the highlight of June, without a doubt, was my first ever American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. Holy shit, guys. What a trip that was. I got to hang out with awesome librarians. I got to hang out with awesome authors. I got to go to my first Caldecott/Newberry dinner and I got to participate in the Printz reception and make that speech...which made me cry, but I didn't care because it said what I wanted to say. Look. I can't really come up with the words to explain how lucky I feel on a daily basis since receiving that phone call in early January 2011. This picture, taken in the elevator ceiling the day after the Printz reception, might show just how lucky I feel.


July


Back to Bryan High School with the fantastic Heather Brewer and Jackie Morse Kessler. 

Photo cred: the awesome Rory!

I usually take July, August and September off to write a new book, so this was my last big trip before being at home for a while and chilling in my lane...




August


I spent August writing and swimming my little buns off. And the first starred review for EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS arrived from Booklist.


AWESOME READ IN AUGUST: GUY LANGMAN: Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk. Hilarious book coming in 2012. Loved it.

September


Two more starred reviews for EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS arrived in September...on the exact same Monday. And then, on the same Friday, another starred review came in from SLJ. How's that for amazing? Dudes. 2011 was amazing. Then I took off to Atlantic City for the annual NAIBA conference which I love because I adore independent booksellers who might occasionally make signs like this for my signing table:


DEAR BULLY, the anthology which I was a very small part of, was released in September. It's a great book and huge kudos to Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones for putting it together.

I took my mom to Chester County Book Co. to meet Ellen Hopkins! Woot! I love Ellen. I might propose to Ellen one day in another life. Even if we both come back as dung beetles, I'd do it.



Also, at the end of September was Banned Books Week and I got to read aloud from one of my favorite banned books. (This was taped in New Orleans in June, though, which explains my 98% humidity hair.)



AWESOME READ IN SEPTEMBER: BOY 21 by Matthew Quick. Out in March 2012. Do not miss it.

October


October 3rd was EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS launch date and things got so crazy-good and crazy-busy, I'll just point you to the post where you can get an idea of what the next few months held. Wow, right? I was all over the place and loved every minute of it. There was a great podcast interview on Read, Write, Think.  There were a lot of signings and school visits and I met so many awesome students, teachers and librarians and just...you know...people. I saw this view a lot:



I was named an honorary roller derby girl for the Shotgun Shirleys out in Phoenix and that just made my year in the I am a badass department. Thanks to The BookBabe for that awesome honor. 


So much happened in October, I'm not going to go overboard. But I can't thank the whole world enough for welcoming Lucky Linderman and ANTS the way they did. Thank you!

AWESOME READ IN OCTOBER: DEAD TO YOU by Lisa McMann. Coming in Feb 2012. The perfect read. Seriously don't miss it.

November


November started off with a freak snowstorm that knocked my power out for almost a week. It was kinda hardcore, but we all lived. In the meantime, EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS made the American Booksellers Association's ABC Best Books for Teens catalog.

I did a lot of writing on a new book (the tin foil hat book) that I'd worked on during those summer months, when I wasn't taming ASK THE PASSENGERS. I also admitted here on the blog that I am a badass quilter.

Then I went to my favorite conference, which is the ALAN Workshop. I'm a member of ALAN and have been for years and I can't urge you enough to join if you are at all interested in the teaching, reading or writing of young adult literature. Before ALAN is NCTE and I managed to drop into the booth to visit my starry book mere seconds before the booth's destruction.



Then, as if October and November weren't amazing enough, news came in about another starred review for EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS and then...ANOTHER ONE. Which brought the total to six starred critical reviews for that book. Which is just insane and amazing and it was one of those dreams that if I'd ever said it aloud, someone would have told me to never even dream of it because it was impossible. Anyway, add two more shiny guys to that picture above.

December

That's Dom Perignon, truffles and tacos. Yes. Tacos. 
(Author's note: I wrote the December entry two weeks ago.)

I just wrote 25,000 words in a week. I have secret news I can't share right now, but it's good news. (No, it's not a movie deal, but one day, maybe...one day.) My family is all well and we're all happy and it's the day before Christmas. There's a bottle of Dom Perignon on my desk (Sent by the best BFF ever) that has not been opened yet because all that stuff you just read hasn't really sunk in yet and I am making it sink in this week. I am going to celebrate. Feel free to celebrate with me. (Okay, that's now past tense...so I hope you celebrated with me.)


AWESOME READS IN DECEMBER: FEED by MT Anderson. Holy shit. If you haven't read this yet (it's 10 years old) stop everything you're doing and read it now. And CATCH AND RELEASE by Blythe Woolston coming in March 2012. An incredible book. Read it. 


FINALLY! This blog post is over! 

Thank you for reading, writing to me, telling people about my books, being librarians and teachers--the most important jobs in the world. Thank you for your support and your celebrations with me throughout this amazing year.

To 2012! May it bring many more words, great books to read and lots of corn.