Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's Gersday!

I have winners from the last contest.
But I'm going to make you wait because I want to tell you about stuff first.

TODAY IS GERSDAY.

It's paperback release day for REALITY BOY here in the US and that makes me very happy. It's been nearly a year since the original release date for the book and Gerald's plight seems to resonate with readers. I know this because I get letters. Serious letters. I claim I'm a Vulcan but serious letters sometimes make me cry. There are so many people in the world struggling with their pasts. With abuse. With neglect. With unfairness. Sometimes I wish we could all stop and think about things like this because we'd make better world partners if we did. If we stopped to understand before we stopped to judge, the world would be so much nicer.

To those of you who have written to me to thank me for showing you, through Gerald, that you can change your life no matter what's happened to you, let me thank YOU. Not just for your letters, but for reminding me that change is possible in my own life.

Change takes guts. Change is hard. Change is slow. Change is important. Change is possible.

NAIBA

Last weekend I was at the NAIBA annual conference. NAIBA is a regional organization for independent booksellers. I'm pretty sure you know how I feel about independent booksellers. If you don't, let me say: independent booksellers were the first people to get behind my work and if it wasn't for their support, I'm not sure I'd still be publishing books. So when one of my books makes you write me a letter, technically it's a chain. You thank me, I thank you for reading and then I thank independent booksellers because without their support, I'd still be writing books that no one gets to read.

And that's what I did this weekend at NAIBA. I thanked independent booksellers for allowing me to keep my job as a lady who wants to tell the truth. I shared short excerpts of a few fan letters so they understand what they help me do. Since REALITY BOY is out today, now might be a good time to say: if you have an independent book store near you, go check it out. You will get to know the staff and they will help you find books you like to read. It's a personal environment. They will talk to you. It might take a bit more effort than clicking a button (if one is available) on a website, but that effort will support so many new writers of books that you might like as much as you like my books.

WINNERS!

Contests are fun. First I want to thank all of you who entered ESPECIALLY the teachers who used this prompt in their classrooms and ESPECIALLY the students who took on this challenge. That takes guts and I admire those guts. You and I (and my squirrel judges) know there can only be two winners in this contest. But because of your entries, we've increased the winner number to three. That's how great your entries were.

I know Honorable Mentions are a bummer to some because nobody gets a prize for an honorable mention. But I'm tossing two out anyway because my squirrel judges argued for hours over this. Also, if an honorable mention was from a classroom prompt, the HM's teacher gets the classroom box of books. So, that's a plus.

Honorable mentions:

Bill McCloud, I love fortune cookies and I agree wholeheartedly about the quality of fortunes these days.
“Legs give you propulsion, but heart gives you drive.” You know, I can remember when what you found inside a fortune cookie was a real honest to God fortune. Now it’s always some lame proverb, or obvious statement, or feel-good comment. A real honest to goodness fortune. That’s what I want. I want to know what lies ahead of me, around the corner, and over the hill. You can have your cookie back. False advertisement. Wait! Go ahead and give me one more. Well, good grief! “Enlightenment is disappointment to the ego.”
ryter222 dking, you get points for cannibalism and for using the word ego so well at the end of the piece. Our judges appreciate when the required words aren't shoehorned in.
“Legs or thighs? Come on. Make up your mind.”“Geez! Don’t rush me, Johnson. It’s not as easy as it looks.”“You wanna live or die? Choice is yours.”“But---she was our stewardess!” “Well, yeah, but now she’s your only ticket off this island alive! Make a choice, damn it!”“Leg! All right! I’ll take the leg! Reminds me more of a pig roast that way.”“Whatever---I deserve the thigh. I’m bigger than you.”We were hoping it wouldn't come to this, but the gravity of our situation grew heavier and heavier like Johnson’s ego. 

Again, honorable mentions, I'm sorry I can't send you a prize, but know that your work was entirely appreciated. As were your tweets and Facebook posts. 

Winners:

Mollie, your "Thoughts of a Spider" was a real hit with the judges. Squirrels have four legs and get no respect either. They told me to tell you that. (Ms. Bentley, you get a box of books for the classroom!)
Thoughts of a SpiderLegs are extremely important. So how am I made fun of for having so many? Shouldn’t it be the cream of the crop for having eight? Humans think they’re hot stuff, but they only have two. Psh.
I get screams. I get newspapers, books, even flyswatters! The disrespect is entirely degrading.
Sometimes I do feel all big and bad, you know because humans are so afraid of me. But then I get the underside of another ratty old sneaker aimed at crushing my body and instead I feel the shame of my bruised ego.-Mollie 
Not sure who wrote this one, but it was hilarious and my squirrels love a good laugh. (Ms. Goncalves wins a box of A.S. King books for her classroom...and the winner gets a brand new paperback of REALITY BOY for cracking us up...which is entirely appropriate considering the material in this entry.)
Legs start shaking under the desk. Sweat drips down the center of my back. No, this can't be happening now; I took my medicine this morning. The teacher said I can’t leave the room during the test or I will fail. Lower abdomen seizes into a vice-grip cramp. Focus, focus, mind over body, right? Stomach churning and I don’t think I’m going to make it. Alright, I just have to raise my hand and go, abandon the test and my grade. Pzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Just another fart-bruise on my freshman ego.
Darden Avila, you got the judges with this one. The line "Mental catwalk wars with myself" really hit a target.
Legs that go on for eternities. A smile that’s both billboard and bedroom appropriate. Hair as impossible as fairytales. Clothes as shiny as your ambitions.
I used to look at you and your glow-in-the-dark universe and I wish you knew how many times I wished I had your life.
But I’ve forgiven you---and me, too. It isn’t your fault that you’re choking on corsets while I’ve nothing but skinny smiles, ribboned grimaces and mental catwalk wars with myself. Or that we live in a world where people remember you for your big boobs and me for my big ego.

Thank you all again for the great stories! Let's do this again sometime!
And thank you teachers for being teachers. Most important job in the world. Hands down.

Winners: I will need your mailing info (unless you did this project for school...read on.) Teachers, I will need your mailing info too, and I'll include the winners' books inside your box of books in a separate envelope. Send mailing info to asking (at) as-king (dot) com.


ONE LAST THING

On Glory O'Biren launch day, 10/14, there will be a twitter chat at 4pm eastern/1pm pacific time. Here's the info for that. It would be so great if you could join us! You can ask me anything!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Legs and Ego: Last Chance to Win Glory O'Brien ARC!

It's a month until launch day and I still have two (TWO) advanced reader copies of GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE left to give away. Twitter friends asked if I was going to have another contest and I said yes. And that's why we're gathered here today.

You can win one of these lovely ARCs no matter where you live and you have until Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 11:59 PM EDT to enter. You may enter as many times as you like, but please remember that quality matters. A lot.

  1. You have to write a story.
  2. You will enter by leaving your story in the comment section of this blog. NOTE: Comments are moderated. If you don't see your story immediately, that's fine. When my moderator wakes up she will post the story. 
  3. Your story has to be under 100 words. Preference: It should be longer than 50. 
  4. It has to start with the word "Legs"
  5. It has to end with the word "ego"
  6. Entries will be judged by a panel of small rodents with bushy tails and legs and egos. 



Rules are rules. 
If you choose to stray, that's fine except you can't win.

Bouns Points.
If you tweet, retweet or spread the news in other ways you get bonus points added to your entry. You can let me know how you spread the word in your comment.

Bonus Bonus Points.
The paperback of Reality Boy comes out next Tuesday. If your entry is amazing beyond words and/or makes my judges pee themselves laughing, you will also win a signed copy of Reality Boy in paperback.

Added Bonus Prize.
If your teacher uses this prompt as a classroom writing exercise and you (or your teacher) win, I'll throw in a free set of A.S. King books (one copy of each book) for your teacher's classroom library. Seriously. I will. I'm not kidding.

Added Bonus Advice.
While I know that legs seem to be seen in a suggestive way by some, my squirrel judges aren't huge fans of the sexualization of body parts, so your chances are low if you go that route.

Go forth!
Tell people.
Enter.
It's fun.
I promise.


Friday, September 12, 2014

We make paper boats; we cannot control the wind.

First: A deal announcement. A new book from A.S. King is coming in 2015.


It was late February, 2013 when I quit writing. I didn't write an entry into my writing journal about it. I didn't announce it. I didn't tell my friends. I told my husband. He seemed to either take it well or know more about me than I do.

February for me means a deadline. February is the month when I have to get a finished draft of a novel to my editor. I'd delivered in February 2013. I sent in GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE and I breathed my small sigh of relief that it was gone from my desk and I probably had a drink that night in celebration.

If we're keeping count, that was novel #18. If you don't know much about me or my work, then you should know that 8 of those 18 novels live in my attic in a box. Three of them live in a strange limbo where they are written, not published, but there's something about them that keeps me from dooming them to the attic.

If you know me, then you know I'm not a particularly dramatic person. I'm human though I claim I'm Vulcan, but still, I approach things with logic more regularly than I panic or cry about things. I don't usually quit things or make grand statements. I consider myself very lucky to be a published author--very lucky--and though I've won awards and stuff like that, I still struggle to make ends meet. I see this as normal. I know a lot of writers. Most of us can't afford a nanny or a chef and that's okay. I know a lot of other lucky people in other professions and they can't afford nannies or chefs, either.

So what drove me to quit writing in late February 2013?
I have no idea, but I did.
I said, "I'm done. I quit. I don't want to do this anymore."
I decided I'd go work in a library and maybe go back to school at night.
I decided I'd do anything but write another novel.
Eighteen was enough.

I lasted two days.

Two days after I'd quit, I started writing another novel. #19. No title. No form. Just this chunky bare prose on the page that came slowly--not at all in tune with my deadline schedules. I didn't care if it ever turned into anything. I didn't care if it was delivered on time the following February. I didn't care about the business--if it would sell, what people might think of it. I just wrote it when it came. This is probably why my husband didn't falter when I'd told him I'd quit, I guess. He's known me a long time. Maybe he knows better than I do that I'm a writer and it's not just something you quit doing.

Back on the farm in the mid-1990's when I wrote for no one and had no deadlines except for planting and harvesting the year's food, I hit the same wall. The quitting wall. Whatever you want to call it. I stopped writing novels. But since I was a writer, I kept writing. In this case, I wrote poetry. For two years, I wrote poems whenever they came to me. I read a lot. I took more walks. I painted more. I didn't "quit" because there wasn't anything to quit. Writing wasn't my job. It wasn't a hobby either. It was my--I don't know. I don't know what it was. All the words that go here seem too dramatic a fit for me. Passion, vocation, calling all seem like the wrong words. Writing was what I did. Period. I'd written about 5 novels by then. But I wanted to write poetry, so I wrote poetry.

This was a good thing because eventually, my first published work was poetry. I wrote some good poems. I think they suck now and they're in that box in the attic. But some great university journals here in the States thought they were good enough to publish, and that was nice.

The point of me boring you with the poetry story was more to show the way of life for me when I was an unpublished writer. I could paint a still life one day in acrylics or take a whole fortnight and paint it in oils instead. I could go out back on the farm and smash things with sledgehammer. I did that sometimes. I could do farm chores. I could build a birdhouse. I could build a guest cottage. I could do whatever I wanted because no one was waiting on me to produce. Not poems, not novels, not anything. The only person demanding anything from me was me. I had to grow food. That was it. I had to grow food. So when I didn't feel like writing, I didn't. If I felt like writing poetry, I wrote poetry. Ta-da. If I was mad at the world, I'd write what I called fuck-the-world poems. I wrote them for myself. I thought fuck-the-world poems were best kept to one's self. Funny, because of my published poems, all were fuck-the-world poems.

In late February 2013, things were different. Very different. Not only did I now buy my food from a grocery store, but I was a lucky published novelist. I was also the person in charge of making money in my house. I traveled a lot and had kids and a husband in college. So when I didn't have it in me anymore, I didn't think about writing poetry or painting. I just thought about a kind friend's offer of an entry-level job at her library. But I never pursued the job.

Of course, I already told you that this....thing...only lasted two days.

Call it a crisis and I'll disagree. I was tired, yes. I may have been cranky. Sure. But I was dead serious. I quit. I was done. I'd never been so done before in my writing life. In those 48 hours, I was free. And then the world opened up and the words started flowing again with no warning or thought on my part at all.

The book that came out of me after those two days was a fuck-the-world book. No holding back. No censoring (though this book has less cursing than all of my books, so I don't mean censoring in the profanity way--I mean it in the brainwave way.) I didn't care about fitting into a box or onto a shelf. I just wrote in the same way I wrote that poetry back on the farm. I painted it like I painted those old canvases (which also live in my attic, but that's because I don't have any other place to put them.)

#19 sold nine months later. My agent and editor loved it. I delivered the finished manuscript in February 2014. This week, it was announced to the world and I'm busy writing novel #20, which started late after many months beating novel #supposed-to-be-20 which was really a dead book. Nothing like beating a dead book to remind one of one's place.

Last weekend, I painted a still life. This week, I wrote a poem. This weekend, I cleared out my garden and harvested peppers. For six years, I felt like a book machine. Now I feel more human. Human before writer. One must be human to write. One must know what ripe peppers look like and know the rule of fat over lean in oil painting.

Quitting writing was human. That's all.
Now I get to push another paper boat out onto the water and see if it sails.
The wind isn't under my control. Nothing, really, is under my control. I'm just a lady who makes paper boats. This one has I CRAWL THROUGH IT painted on the bow.
A fitting title, I think.

It will be in your local bookstore in fall 2015. There is an invisible helicopter and a walking digestive system in it. There is a man in it named Kenneth who Bill Murray would play if it were a movie. Kenneth is free, just like me. But he can't quit either.


Disclaimer: I was joking about the nannies and the chefs. I don't want either. I just want a future where I don't eat soup once a week for dinner. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2014 GLORY O'BRIEN Tour Dates!

Finally, I have GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE tour dates for you. Am I coming to your city? Come see me. I like people. 


NAIBA Sunday Breakfast 
Arlington, VA
September 21, 2014

PALA Annual Conference
Andrew Smith/A.S. King present Boxing With Friends
Lancaster, PA
September 28-29, 2014

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future Launch Party
Aaron's Books
Lititz, PA
October 14, 2014
7pm
RSVP Here! Space is limited. RSVP Now. 

Book Shop Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA
October 15
7pm

Books Inc. / Litquake Event
San Francisco, CA
October 16
Sports Basement on Byant
6pm

Texas Teen Book Festival
Austin, TX
October 18, 2014

Children's Book World
Haverford, PA
October 23, 2014
7pm

Boston Book Festival
Boston, MA
October 25, 2014

Lititz Lit Festival
Lititz, PA
November 1, 2014

Clinton Book Shop
Clinton, NJ
November 7, 2014
7pm

Changing Hands Bookstore
Tempe, AZ
November 21, 2014
​7pm

Barnes & Noble 
Reading/Wyomissing, PA
December 20, 2014
1pm

Hope to see you there! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Twitter Giveaway!

Win a yet-to-be-released paperback of REALITY BOY and an ARC of GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE by writing me a haiku about what pisses you off. Ends Tuesday at 11:59pm EDT. Enter all you want. All countries welcome. Just tweet it to me. If you don't have a Twitter, then the comment section of the blog will do. Go nuts.