Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Recap in Obscure and Not-so-obscure Pictures

Well, 2013 was a fine year all around. I got to see so many students and educators and librarians in so many schools/universities/libraries/conferences/festivals. I got to write a book or two. I released four, I guess, if we count the paperback of Ask the Passengers and anthologies Losing It and Break These Rules. Reality Boy saw great reviews, four of them starred, great articles in the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, and then there was that boss article in SLJ about partnering with schools and libraries to do community reads. I saw foreign sales in Spanish and two in Korea. And then last weekend's NYT review by John Green, and then, this week, discovering that Reality Boy got a FIFTH star in LMC, Library Media Connection magazine. 
"King offers a compelling look at possible long-term effects of reality shows. With snippets of Network Nanny episodes interspersed throughout the novel, readers clearly “hear” Gerald’s silent scream for help. An emotional and difficult read, this story is also thought-provoking and ultimately optimistic."--LMC (starred review) 
On a more personal side, I moved, sold a house (finally), and I now work at Vermont College of Fine Arts as a faculty member in the Writing for Children and Young Adults program, which is a great program and a fabulous experience. I went to the beach and saw a friend I hadn't seen in too long. My kids are a year older. I guess that means we are, too. 

The following pictures are the ones I never shared but always wanted to. Some are serious. Some are funny. Some may make you wonder why I am posting them, but that's what captions are for.



I did a year-long writer-in-residence at Conrad Weiser High School last year. On one of my visits to the school, I found myself surrounded by these silhouettes. Below is a close-up of what the paper says inside. 

As a V-Warrior and a lifelong survivor advocate and activist, seeing these messages in the halls of a high school warmed my heart. Especially during a year of many awful stories like Steubenville.
Want to do this in your own school? Do!
And don't forget to include the guys.
And please don't forget to talk about consent. 

I'm only adding this because it's a reminder of how EXCELLENT Addendum Books in St. Paul is.
Photo cred: Addendum Books.


Ms. Heather Brewer hanging out with a very large cat in Arizona in March.
Birthday weekend in Arizona FTW. 


This is what me finishing a book looks like.
This is Glory O'Brien's History of the Future and will be on shelves in early October 2014.


It's the night before the Vagina Monologues.
What has two thumbs, two computers, and no time for sleep?
This girl!

Only if you read Reality Boy will you understand that this picture shows just how far I go in the name of research.

Random sign.
My interpretation: Three men can go up. Three men can go down.


This is me and my awesome editor Andrea Spooner in NYC for the April Author Carnival.
Big editor love.
She is the coolest.

Texas Library Association. April.
Matt de la Peña and Lisa McMann are my spirit animals. 

You saw this picture before. It is Mr. King and me on our way to the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.
We are in a stretch limo and are pretty surprised by it.
At this point, I not only didn't know I was going to win, but I had no speech and had no idea I had a chance to win.
But then, later that night, I did win.
And so, this picture has become the visual reminder of one of the bigger highlights of my life.
Topher took video of my speech. It's fuzzy and a little shaky.
He was crying a little, I think, because he has watched me write books for 20 years and never got to see something like this. That or his shoes were too tight. You choose.
I never planned on sharing the video, but I will now in case you feel like watching it:


Random fortune.
I think this stands as my favorite of 2013.
EPIC FAN ART.
Student from Philly (I think & forgive me/correct me if I'm wrong) was wearing a Jimi t-shirt.
I explained that I am a Hendrix pervert and soon after I received this in the mail.
THREE SIGNS:

This is a sad sign.

This is a confusing sign.


This is an adorable sign.
I am sparing you the 12 pictures I took of pee on toilet seats in 2013.
But the mere fact that I have 12 pictures of pee on toilet seats is proof that some people are raised by wolves. 


This is my car without a working brake system, up on a lift getting fixed.
I took this picture 30 minutes before I had to leave for this:

Mr. King in May, graduating with lots of bling. This was the halfway point.
Three more semesters and he will be a secondary English teacher, which is what he always wanted to be.
Twenty six years ago, he told me that.
Let this be proof that you are never too old to do what you want to do.
Also, let it be proof that my mechanic from the above picture is a miracle worker.

With permission from kid #2, I post FIRST TOOTH moment.
Blood and all. 

So, look. If you are a human being, you should see the doctor sometimes.
I know for me, that was difficult for years living inside a health system that I couldn't afford.
There are millions of us out there who aren't looking after ourselves 100% because we can't afford it.
But more specifically, I want to talk about lady parts.
GUYS! Don't leave! Read on. This is important because you have man parts that will also one day need looking after, and there's a good chance you might one day live with someone who has lady parts!

Ladies, you have to go to the doctor and make sure your lady parts are okay.
I wouldn't be here today writing this blog had I not gone for an annual pap smear in 1991.
I would be dead.
Thankfully, I am not dead and in 1991, there was a place for women like me--working our asses off, but still uninsured and unable to afford things like this.
I know none of this is your business, but if it helps one person get to a doctor, then I'm happy to share it.
ANYWAY.
Now, I am over 40 and I have to go for mammograms and ladies, if you're over 40, you have to do this too.
It sucks. SUCKS. But it's important.
I went for my first one 3 years ago. It's been a pretty bumpy ride ever since. 6+ more special diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds, and this picture is of me in June, going for a biopsy that turned out to be fine.
Did I have to pay out of pocket due to a high deductible and did it cost a lot? Yes. (Still paying it off.)
Was it worth it? Yes.
What use is money if one is dead?
So: this exceptionally long caption is for a good cause.
Humans: go to the doctor. Make sure your parts are okay.
More on healthcare in a minute...

Oh. And when you go to the doctor, make sure you remind the staff that you appreciate them.

This is Vermont College of Fine Arts. Isn't it gorgeous?
This was during my first residency in July.
Can't wait to see it in two weeks all snow-covered and icy. 

This was a message scrawled on the side of my wardrobe in my dorm room.
I travel a lot. I hear a lot of babies on planes in my travels.
I have kids, and so I have had babies on airplanes.
So my take on this is: Whoever wrote it will one day discover that the opposite is true.
There is a special awesome beach with free drinks for people who bring babies on airplanes. 

And since I am not one to write on wardrobes,
I want you to imagine a speech bubble from the panda's mouth that says, "What about pandas?"


I didn't go on vacation this year. But I DID get to go to the beach for 2 days.
Hello ocean! Hello sand!

Me and my posse. We will kick your ass.


SO THEN SCHOOL STARTED. 

Dear college bookstore who made this flier: Those are marijuana leaves.
You may have meant to do this. If so, kudos to you.
If not, oops.  

Birthday glasses! Kid #2 says hello.
Correction.
Kid #2 says HELLO!


Remember my awesome crocheted squid by Kim from Mercy HS in Rochester?
Here is her newest addition to my office.
The crocheted ninja. Thank you, Kim!
Which reminds me, I will be at the Rochester Teen Book Festival in 2014. Check my tour dates. All info is in there. I'll be presenting with Andrew Smith and will be suitably stoked to be there, as always. Best darn teen book festival in the USA. 


This year I moved a lot closer to my local independent bookstore.
I used to be 45 minutes away. Now I am 3 minutes away.
To say that this bookstore positively impacts my life would be an understatement. I wouldn't live here if they were not here. My kids wouldn't go to the schools they go to, and my life would be completely different were it not for an email I sent in mid 2008 asking if they might be interested in meeting me and reading an ARC of The Dust of 100 Dogs.
That book was their best-selling book of 2009.
They are also your connection for any signed or personalized books of mine.
This is Todd and Sam, and they are the heroes of Aaron's Books in Lititz, PA. They are my #1 supporters and I can never thank them enough. But they are very modest and say that they are just "doing their job." I say poppycock. They are special, wonderful, exceptional and I love them.
Come see them sometime. Also, there is a chocolate factory just down the road.
And a pretzel factory.
Mmmm. Chocolate, pretzels, and books.

BUMPER STICKERS THAT ARE JUST WEIRD.


This is a panda...um..doing it with another panda. 

I saw this one two blocks from my house.
I have NO IDEA why anyone would want to advertise this on the back of a car.
I have no idea what else to say except: WTF?


FILE UNDER: WORDS THAT NOW MEAN SOMETHING ELSE.

Postal is probably not the word to use here.
"Post Office Customer" would have probably worked better.
Unless they actually mean that people who have gone postal, who are also customers, can park here. 


This is me in front of Violet, my 1997 Dodge Neon.
I loved that car. This was the day I traded it in for a car with headlights that work.
Headlights are good.

I'VE BEEN WRITING A NEW BOOK.


This book I'm writing has something to do with helicopters.


It also has something to do with quality letters. 

HERE'S THE BOOK I'M MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2014.

This book is the best book I've read in decades.
Look for it in February 2014.

This has something to do with the above book.
It's also graffiti I found a mile from my childhood home when I was driving through earlier this year.
Made me happy when I saw it.



This isn't a political statement.
This is a human being statement.
I knew applying to the Marketplace for health insurance options was going to require patience. After all, I lived most of my adult life in a country that had a universal healthcare system and I understand that these things take time.
My case was kinda exceptional. About 40 calls. Six applications filed in total before I could actually get results.
A lot of these "the system is down at the moment" pages.
For most people, it is not this difficult.
Each time I called, there was no wait on the phone. 99% of those who answered were courteous and wanted to help me get through the process and succeed.
And yesterday I finally finished and enrolled after 3 months of working on it between touring travels.
And do you know what?
In 2014, I will have $350 extra dollars a month with which to feed my kids.
AND I will actually have a plan that COVERS MEDICAL EXPENSES.
It will take years for this system to get into place and function well, so expecting miracles out of the gate isn't realistic. If you haven't done it yet, or are waiting because you're scared, just do it. Have patience with it. Try to understand it. Try to remember the end result for your family and forget the politics.
TWO RANDOM PICTURES FOR 2014:

Let there be more roller skating!

If I squinted at you at all in 2013, or didn't recognize you until I got closer, I apologize. I finally got new lenses.
I can see you now. And you look great!

Happy New Year to all of you! 
May 2014 be the year of transporters. 

Photo cred: Wikipedia 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How in the hell do I title this post?


Short version: "Holy shit."
Shorter version: "Wow."
Even shorter version: "Um."

TODAY REALITY BOY GOT REVIEWED IN THE NEW YORK TIMES BY JOHN GREEN AND HE SAID STUFF LIKE THIS:

"A.S. King is one of the best Y.A. writers working today. She captures the disorientation of adolescence brilliantly. . . “Reality Boy” is very smart in the way it goes about capturing the reality of teenage life, “when everything is possible and yet nothing ever happens.”"

Or stuff like this:


"...it’s nice to see someone subtly parody the over-the-top young adult adventure stories that dominate so-called contemporary realistic Y.A. “Reality Boy” is obsessed with real reality, and shows us — for example — what happens when you actually run away with the circus."

Or stuff like this:


"“Reality Boy” is much more than a simple indictment of reality TV. Yes, production companies (and parents) exploit the King Curtises of the world. And yes, we are all complicit in that exploitation. But “Reality Boy” is finally a novel about whether you are fated to the life the world expects you to have. . . .  In short, it’s real."

I am not sure what else to say.
I started writing novels nearly 20 years ago in a damp flat in Dublin. I am presently (coincidentally) writing my 20th book. I never thought this kind of thing would happen to me. I tend to fly under the radar and slip in and out of schools to talk real-life with students and then come home to my family and then write more books. Repeat. Etc.

I'm trying to stop today and really appreciate this.

Hey Mom! I'm in the New York Times!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Win Two Free Books on Twitter!

Do you want to win a copy of REALITY BOY and (AND) a bonus A.S. King book?

All you have to do is follow me, @AS_King, on Twitter, and tweet this:
RT to win a copy of REALITY BOY & a surprise bonus book from ! http://bit.ly/18xJ2Ay 
The winner will be announced on Twitter on Christmas Eve.

Also! If you missed the awesome Live at the Lounge with Holly, Margie, Kami, Megan, Lisi and me, you can find it archived here.  We had fun and shared our gingerbread men and I made my publicist blush by telling her a TOTALLY INNOCENT New Year's Eve tradition. Someone commented that it was TMI, but soon the conversation spiraled into hot identical twins, so come on. A married couple drinking champagne and eating chocolates in front of the fireplace on their 26th New Year's Eve isn't really all that bad, is it?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Come party with me!



One lucky attendee will win a FREE eReader with our books already loaded.
It's a win-win as far as I can see.
Also, I believe there will be cookie decorating.

Click here to RSVP or join us on the night!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Everything in one blog with pictures

It is impossible to tell you everything in one blog. Everything is a lot of thing. 
And I am short on time.
So this will be a blog-in-captions.



School window, Portland, OR. 

If you remember last year, then you know about the birthday glasses.
I was home for the kid's birthday and it means a lot to be home for the kid's birthday.

My other kids looking very pretty at NCTE thanks to the Little, Brown team.

Secrets revealed: REALITY BOY was named a:
School Library Journal Best Book of 2013
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013
Which is really awesome and I ate tacos and you should eat tacos, too.



So, I take the picture on the left at a random library. But then, after that event, we go to a restaurant and I see one of the staff coming out of the bathroom as I'm going in and when I get there, the paper towels he threw into the toilet are still floating and haven't fully gone under yet. 

Yes I took a picture of a toilet. 

But after all these signs I post from bathrooms, we ask, "Who would throw paper towels in a toilet?" and then I got to actually see a paper-towel-in-the-toilet-person. There was a trash can an arm's reach in the other direction. It wasn't full. Something makes paper-towel-in-the-toilet-people throw the towels into the toilet and not the trash can. 
I need more information about people like this. Help me understand them. 



______

NCTE is a very awesome conference and the ALAN workshop is one of my favorite places on Earth to be. So many dedicated teachers and professors and literacy advocates and authors in one place, I can't list them all. This year, in Boston. I post pictures on Twitter and stuff, so these are outtakes. 

Laurie Halse Anderson probably doesn't know that meeting her in Bethlehem on a snowy night years ago
inspired me to do what I do and keep doing it. I am forever grateful. 

Word Up!
From talking back to the common core on a panel of educators I admire to getting a few minutes to talk to the membership and tell them how much I appreciate their support and the Walden Award's positive approach to life for adolescent readers, ALAN was a great time.


This is Ken Dietz's Face Your Shit Flowchart in the Turkish translation.
Huge thanks to Michelle and Kelly at Knopf for this.
I can't wait to see what the Korean version looks like. 


INFINITY?
I ask anyone to explain to me how wearing a pad could ever be radiant.
Or infinitely radiant.
But.
INFINITY?
I should hope not. 

In mall in Boston.
We have three choices.
I choose bacon. 

The amazing Paul Hankins wearing a wonderful Amelia Walden Award t-shirt at ALAN.

This is an apple pie I baked. Happy Thanksgiving.
I talked to Parade.com about what book I'm thankful for.
Also, on Thanksgiving, this fantastic article appeared in School Library Journal about my love of community read projects and other cool stuff. 

And now I go finish the 2015 book.
I have about 30,000 words to write in a month.
Then Vermont College January residency.
Then back to the desk until there's a sniff of spring.
I hope the winter is good to you!




Bonus end-of-blog video. The first of many Answer-your-question videos for students who send me letters with questions.