My Life in Words
When I talk at schools or libraries, budding young writers often ask, “Did you always want to be a writer?” I don’t say no outright because it’s clear that there is only one thing the person wants to hear: “YES! I always wanted to be a writer JUST LIKE YOU DO! And if you work hard, someday your name will be on a book jacket, too!”
I understand the longing to be a writer — I didn’t just wake up one morning to discover I had written a bunch of novels — although I never considered trying to make a career out of it until long after I’d finished college. But does drive matter most, or is it all about innate talent?
I recently discovered a cache of my old journals. I’ve already destroyed most of them, so don’t get excited, but I will share a few excerpts from a diary begun when I was twelve years old and in the seventh grade. Did my sophisticated prose and astute observations foretell a future writing career? You be the judge.
DIARY ENTRIES BY CAROL SNOW, AGED 12
Wed, Jan 4, 1978: Today my book bag broke. My books were falling out of it. I left my lunch at home. Chris F. gave me ½ sandwich. I was thirsty. Davitta J. told me she thought my hair was cute, but she liked it better the other way.
Thurs, Jan 5: Today was Mom’s birthday. When I got home from school I gave her the picture of the TV room. She liked it. We got a cake at the bakery. Sue made onion soup. Dad got home late with no present. Mom was mad.
Fri, Jan 6: Went in early this morning to English to work on verbs. In English, I was one of the people furthest, so I got a mint. Dad sent Mom flowers. Asked Tom about broken tape recorder, and he said it just needed new batteries.
Sun, Jan 8: Went to church. Saw Jonathan G. We ignored each other. When we got home I did my homework and my speech for Speech and Drama on cartoons. My ear is infected and I can’t get my earring on. I am worried about it. I called Betsy about it.
Mon, Jan 9: Only got 4 ½ hours of sleep last night. Was very tired this morning. Don’t have to give speech in S&D till tomorrow. After school I went down to Somer’s Jewelers with Mom. He said it was only a scab. He took it off and put my earrings back in. My ears had started to close up and it hurt. The roads were icy so C.C.D. was cancelled.
Tues Jan 10: Did speech. No one paid attention to mine or anyone else’s.
Consider this. At age twelve I:
1. Went into school early to work on verbs.
2. Had already formed an association between cranking out the most words and getting snacks.
3. Couldn’t figure out whether a mechanical device was broken or just needed a battery.
4. Was a bit of a hypochondriac.
5. Kept a diary.
A future writer in the making? I think it’s obvious.
Hello from Orange County, California, where neither I nor anyone I know has contracted the measles! I am back from my nine-month adventure in France (full disclosure: I’ve been home a while). No one got the measles there, either.
As long as we are (at least sort of) on the subject of shots, here’s how you get a flu shot in France — at least according to an unnamed source, whom we will hold responsible for any inaccuracies: 1. Go to the doctor for a prescription. 2. Go to the pharmacy to get the vaccine prescription filled. 3. Take the prescription back to your doctor, who then administers the shot.
That had nothing to do with anything, but I think it is so hysterical and so French that I had to share.
Anyway! If you are visiting my website, you probably want to know about my books. (But not necessarily; thanks to my non-book-related posts, I have inadvertently become a web expert on Canadian yogurt, cross-dressing, and clams.)
On the Young Adult front, this fall Scholastic Book Clubs released a special book club edition of Bubble World. It has the nifty Scholastic logo on it and everything. Also, the book has been featured in both Scholastic’s middle school and high school fliers. As a former Scholastic book order mom, I consider this placement a tremendous honor. Being featured next to rubber glow-in-the-dark bracelets makes it even better.
My next YA book from Henry Holt/Macmillan, The Last Place on Earth, is about to go into production and will be in stores in February 2016. Why so long? Well, because a good book is like a fine wine. Only not liquid. Or alcoholic. Also, it has a lot more words. But otherwise they are just exactly the same.
For those of you who have asked, “When are you going to write another adult book?” (at which point everyone giggles because that makes it sound like I write naughty books, WHICH I DON’T) the answer is: now. Yes! I am currently working on a book-for-adults, and it will be out in … I have no idea. A long time from now, presumably; see “fine wine” reference, above. But the manuscript is living and growing in my computer, and some day it will work its way out into the real world … which makes it sound like a horrible disease (see measles and flu references, above), but I like to think it will evolve into something nicer than that.
In the meantime, if you really want to read something new from me, you can check out Here Today, Gone to Maui … in Polish! (They call it “Hawaii Alibi” because it turns out that godawful puns don’t translate.) Or — you can just read a book by someone else, because there’s lots of great stuff out there (here are some of the books that I’ve been reading). And let’s face it: Polish is an even tougher language to master than French.
Bubble World is still a couple of months away from making its way out into the big, bad world, but Kirkus Reviews (which has a reputation for being kind of, um, mean) has some nice things to say. I mean — “nifty” and “spunky”? It doesn’t get much better than that.
From Kirkus Reviews:
Freesia lives on a seemingly magical island where every whim is answered in this nifty sci-fi comedy.
On her island world, Freesia needs only to place an order in her portable bubble device to get her perpetually smiling mother to serve her breakfast, to choose from the hundreds of outfits she owns, or to communicate with friends and watch her enemies. She orders her teachers around, never bothering to study any subject. Foreign-language classes focus on food instead of the language, which is never taught. Everyone on the island, including Freesia, looks beautiful and goes to parties every night. Yet glitches occur as the program generating this virtual world begins to crash, sending Freesia back to reality, where her parents and sister appear to see her only as annoying. Thrown into her local high school, Freesia does no work and can’t connect with her former best friend. Finally, she tries to return to the virtual world, but this time, she knows it’s only a computer program. With constantly clever comic writing, Snow disguises her serious examination of the dangers involved in immersion in fantasy and living by whim. Freesia uses an aggressively vapid, too-hip vocabulary, in which something really good is “de-vicious” and a kiss is a “face link,” to heighten the fun.
Freesia’s plenty spunky, and so is this hilarious book.
THE YA FOR NJ AUCTION IS NOW LIVE! TO SEE A LIST OF ALL AVAILABLE BOOKS, GO HERE.
Here in Southern California, it was seventy degrees yesterday, and my daughter was complaining about being cold. So, I know how easy it is for those of us outside the New York area to forget about the devastation that Sandy left behind. (I also know how wimpy California kids can be about weather.) But I’ve also heard so many stories of heartbreak from families and friends in my native New Jersey that I’m honored to be a part of Kieran Scott‘s fundraising effort, YA for NJ.
On November 30, personally signed books from over 200 young adult and middle grade authors will be up for auction on eBay. All proceeds will go to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. The auction will run till December 6.
So, if you’re a fan of young adult or middle grade fiction … or if you know a fan of young adult or middle grade fiction … or if you’re looking for a holiday gift for ANYONE between the ages of, say, eight and sixteen (no, thirty) — please consider bidding!
So today we’re going to talk about Search Engine Optimization, otherwise known as SEO. Woo hoo!
In case you don’t know, SEO is how good a website is at getting traffic from searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing and the like. Good SEO is achieved when the fairies that fly around the World Wide Web sprinkle pixie dust. Poor SEO can generally be attributed to fungus-munching gnomes that live in underground tunnels. Of course, the full process is more complicated and technical, but that gives you the basic idea.
I don’t know what kind of blood pact the good people at FSB Associates made when they designed carolsnow.com (if you think fairies are all giggles and glitter, think again), but my SEO is so good it borders on creepy. See, I use a couple of programs that tell me what visitors to my site typed into search engines. The programs also tell me how long people stayed on the site, how many pages they viewed, and other stuff that I don’t pay much attention to. It’s all intended to help me be a better marketer. Because pretty much everyone who goes into fiction writing secretly wishes they were doing PR.
Most people come here after typing in “carol snow” or “carol snow author” or one of my book titles. That’s nice and good and what I hired FSB to do. Less expected: for almost a year, I have been a foremost web expert on clams. No, I’m serious. See what happens when I type “how to cook steamers” into Google? The internet fairies offer almost four million results, but my steamers blog post comes in at number four, and a whole bunch of those people click through to my site. Sunday I saw a spike in traffic, presumably as dads across America requested steamers for Father’s Day. And do you know how many of those people went on to read my books? Probably none. But I kind of don’t care because I think it’s so funny.
Other posts that have generated a surprising amount of traffic include my ground-breaking report on Skotidakis yogurt dip (in which I revealed that it tastes good), my Halloween costume suggestions, and my holiday series, “Gifts for People You Don’t Like.” (Related Google searches: Gifts for people you don’t really like; Gifts for family you don’t like; Best wine for people you don’t like; and — shoot me now — Gift books for people you don’t like.)
As pleased as I am with all those web hits, I understand how they happened. Less expected search terms that led people to my site include: What (13 hits); What? (1); Babies (26); Baby (13); and Yeah You Heard Me (1).
Let us all pause to consider the aimless souls who have nothing better to do than Google “What.” Did they follow up with Where, When, Who, or Why? What in the world did those people hope to learn? Then again, vagueness may not be all bad. At least “what” and “yeah you heard me” aren’t disturbing. Like, say, these other search terms that landed people on my site:
First date white shirt see thru black bra
Adult baby torture devices
Bad lip injections
Sequin Klingon dress
Sick and wrong costumes
I gotta say: The Unintended Nudist would make a heckuva book title, though I don’t think I’m the person to write it.