Sunday, January 13, 2013

Unexpected & Awesome!

I want to thank everybody who read Sammy Keyes and the Showdown in Sin City this week. This book is a huge deal for me--the culmination of years and years of writing and plotting and planning and anticipating.

The thing about spending years and years writing and plotting and planning and anticipating is that the big deal you've blown a particular thing into may not be a big deal to anyone but you. I've learned that when the big day or event finally arrives, it's almost impossible for it to live up to the expectations you've put on it.

Critics can deflate you pretty quickly. "Really?" you think as you read. "You have a quibble over that?" As an author (or any creative person putting their work out there for the public to scrutinize) you have to develop a deflecting armor. You can't fire back--critics can say what they want and there's really nothing you can do about it--and you can't let those poisoned arrows pierce your heart. So if you're going to continue to be a creative person who puts their work out for the public to scrutinize, you have to tough it out through the jaded criticisms and believe that the people you work (or write) for (that's you), will collectively have a voice louder and with more sustain than paid-to-review critics.

Example: Someone sent me a post that a teacher had put on her blog about The Running Dream. She had quibbles. Whatever. But her students loved it--something she had trouble coming to grips with. Counter to where she chose to place the book, students kept shelving it back in her classroom's special MUST BE READ section--books students recommend to other students. With each new student who read the book, the enthusiasm for The Running Dream grew among the students until the teacher finally conceded that maybe they saw something she didn't.

Another example: There were critics who were lukewarm about Flipped.

Which sums up my point quit succinctly.

Anyway, I've developed armor and (especially necessary with a series, since, regardless of how substantive the books within it are, the titles get very limited literary respect) I've come to expect quibbles, or critics (professional or self-appointed) who just don't share the same sense of life I do and consequently don't "get" what I do.

So what was unexpected and awesome this week was the across-the-board positive reaction I received about Sin City. Obviously I loved the story and the plotting and the threads that have been weaving in my head for years, but  there was NO guarantee that other people would. So it made me so incredibly happy this week to read all the comments that came in (especially here, where it matters to me most). This was a "life's work" undertaking and to have it resonate with people who also feel very invested in Sammy Keyes...I can't even explain how wonderful it feels. So thank you for all your wonderful reactions--it really made my week!

Next week we move on to the VST (Very Strange Thing) that happened when I started writing the final Sammy. See you then!


51 comments:

Yusa said...

Well this book WAS so amazing. I'd like to see who's gonna try and criticize this! Almost impossible because it is so perfect. I have to admit i have been a little disappointed in one or two of the Sammy Keyes books more recently but this one was beyond all my expectations! It was everything and more. Can't wait for next weeks post!
--Yusa

gabrielle said...

Well everyone is a critic,that's just how it is. But I must say it would be difficult to point out any negative thins in Sin City,because,I love all the Sammy Keyes book,but this one was one of my favorites out of the series. Can't wait for next weeks post!! :)

Bella Honeydew said...

Yusa is right, I'd really like to see who is gonna criticize this! I finished re-reading sin city, and will now do what I did after Justice Jack, and Night of Skulls. Start at The Hotel Thief and work my way in order until I finish then, this time I'm gonna try and do it twice before Killer Cruise is out.=)
And I finished When You Reach Me, it was a great book I really liked it!!=)

Norma said...

I can't imagine that anyone could less than absolutely love your work. And Sin City? It was brilliant. As the culmination of years of labor, it was everything we could have hoped for. I remember groaning along with Sammy at each new piece of drama she had to deal with, cringing for her at every bad turn she took, and cheering, fist pumping, and absolutely reveling in delight with her victories. Not for one moment during that book was I anything less than completely enthralled. It's great to hear that everyone's enjoyed it as much as I did too. :)

Corazon Nunez said...

I've got these huge tests this week, so I've been super-busy studying, and no time to get the book. :( But I'm going to Barnes and Noble for a post-test celebration next week! CAN'T. WAIT!!!!

P.S. Wish me luck on the test. :)

Yusa said...

I looked back at the collage of places and now i get it! :) so much makes sense now... the oreos and everything

Kylie said...

I hate it when I work on something really hard and when I show it to someone they comment on how terrible it is. I used to get upset. I put my blood, sweat, and tears in to that and you are just going to tell me how terrible it is? But now I just ignore what they say because it doesn't matter because I like it, and I did the work for it. I am so happy that Sin City has had good reviews so far! I loved everything that happened. I can't wait for next week's post! I am so excited!

Kylie

Jessica said...

Bella, glad you liked "When You Reach Me."

Reading all these reviews was like watching all the previews for "Les Misérables." My hopes are now unabashedly high, but Les Mis exceeded my high expectations, and I trust that you all are correct about "Sin City." I've decided to just enjoy the anticipation.

(Speaking of Les Mis, I don't usually follow award shows, but I was very excited that Anne Hathaway won a Golden Globe for her role as Fantine -- she brought new depth to the role.)

Yusa said...

I've heard Les Mis was an amazing movie but i havent seen it yet.

Has anyone read the book Schooled?

Caria said...

I LOVED THE BOOK! It was so amazing! I can't believe that anyone would say anything bad about the book. My friends sometimes criticize my writing that I am most proud of, and make me feel like the whole piece was a waste of time. It's terrible, but it happens, and there is nothing you can do about it to change their minds. But that's just how it is.

Shaina said...

Every time I read a new Sammy book, I'm sure it's my favorite...but this time I'm REALLY REALLY SURE!!! I loved it! I kept cracking up, and earned a few questioning looks from my husband while I read and laughed aloud. THANK YOU for your wonderful stories! I love having a book worth staying up late for. :)

Jessica said...

The library sent me an e-mail notification that one of my items on hold was ready. Since the only one currently in transit was SK, I got super excited... until I opened it and it was the one that's been ready since last week! I already knew that! I'm going to go pick that one up today and nicely ask them which SK is mine, and if it hasn't shipped yet, whether I can go pick it up at its proper library.

Jessica said...

Back from the library. The librarian checked the system, and it was sent on the 10th (I knew that already). She said they usually get their big shipment of books from other branches on Tuesday, though it might come Wednesday instead. So I'm going to be stalking the library's website like mad tomorrow!

Isabel said...

I want to watch the movie Les Mis too Yusa, and if you say the book is that good I am sooo excited.

Yusa said...

Isabel: Umm girl you ain't even a teen yet i dont think you should watch it... i probably wont. And YES the book is THAT good! Everytime i play back what happened i get all excited again!

Jessica said...

Aaagggghhhh. Another item is ready at the library, but it's one that just went "in transit" yesterday. Hopefully SK will show up in the next hour or so.

Jessica said...

"Tomorrow, I love you... Tomorrow, you're only a day away..." Hope springs eternal. At least I know the book is on its way.

Isabel said...

Yusa: You make me crack up. Finally, it says IN TRANSIT! Oh yeah. Oh yeah, Oh Yeah, oh yeah....

Yusa said...

Yes i hope you guys get to read it soon! I really canr wait until we all read it so we can talk about it!

Jessica said...

8:30am. Not going to be here yet.
9:30am. Well, that's okay. Plenty of time.
11:00am. Still not here. What if it doesn't come today?
11:03am. Not here.
11:05am. This is getting ridiculous. *sets timer for 1 hour*
12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm. 3:30pm. Not here.
4:15pm. Still not here yet and the library closes at 5pm, drats, looks like I have to wait 'til tomorrow.
4:53pm. 2 items ready for pick up. *clicks* Sa... *stops reading, tugs on outside clothes, grabs car keys, slides into Birkenstocks, races down wet-leaf-strewn 150m hill of a driveway to car, tries to obey speed limits and not shout at drivers waiting properly at stop signs*

I screech into a library parking space at 4:59pm, race inside the door just before a librarian locks it. At the next door, the librarian who looked into the system for me on Monday tells me the library is closed. I explain quickly I just want my book off the reserve shelf. As I'm trying to scan it at the self-help desk, they announce the library is closed, but one of the librarians checks me out. She asks if I didn't want my other reserved item -- I said I'd come back another day but I *had* to have this one today, explaining that the series-long mystery will be solved. Thankfully, she's a librarian, so she understood and just smiled as she handed me the book.

I ran back to my car, leaping into the air, waving the book in triumph, totally ignoring the strange looks I got from the teens who were just strollin'. Yes, I'm 34 years old and jump up and down over getting my hands on a kids' book. If I ever reach the point where I can't derive pleasure from such a simple experience, I'll know I've forgotten how to live.

On the drive home, I sniffed it. Ah, new book, cover never been cracked. Now I've made myself a chocolate-strawberry smoothie (yay for FL strawberries finally being in season), and told you all that I have it, so now it's time to crack that spine. I'll be back when it's done.

Jessica said...

*I may have vastly under-exaggerated how often I checked the library website today.*

Yusa said...

Jessica: OMG I love that you are 34 years old and still love them! That is how i want to be. Never stop reading! Uggh the librarians at my library wouldnt let me in... but thats great that they let you in! Haha i know you're gonna love it! Enjoy it! So glad you finally got it!

gabrielle said...

I'm glad you finally got your book Jessica!!! Your gonna love it!!! :D

Isabel said...

I'm so happy you got the book Jessica! It is SUPER cool that you're 34 and still read SK, no matter what age you still stay young. Today was my teacher's birthday, we sang to her in the morning, then the 8th graders came in and we sang the 2nd time with them, and finally the other 6th graders came in and we sang happy birthday, AGAIN. It's so funny her room number is 16 her fave number is 16, her B day is 16, she also says her sweet 16 is on every 16 of every month. Her mom went alligator chasing for her. Our class is exotic.

On library account, OH OH OH OH OH OH OH OH OH OH I'm going to go get it. Later.

Yusa said...

Isabel: Dont forget her name rhymes with sixteen! ;)

Jessica said...

Finished. Wow. I haven't cried so much at a Sammy Keyes book since "Psycho Kitty Queen." And I haven't laughed so hard at one since... I can't even remember. So it was one of the saddest and the funniest? But also one of the happiest. Not quite a traditional mystery, and yet there were a few mysteries, some of which Sammy was just too busy to even pay attention to!

Now, out of respect for Isabel, I won't say anything else. I hope yours arrives tomorrow. And that the above isn't driving you too crazy.

Jessica said...

P.S. I read my first SK book when I was between 23 and 26 years old. My nephew had the first one on his bookshelf (he was ~10-12 at the time) because my sister saw "Edgar winner" and thought he'd like it. I often raided his shelf while visiting because a kids' book is quick enough to finish while waiting for everyone else to awaken during a visit.

In general, I like my books to have a lot of character development, so children's lit tends to be more enjoyable than adult fiction (especially formulaic bestsellers). And SK mysteries tend to be solvable but only if you pay close attention, without fitting a discernible pattern. But why am I explaining? You guys already all know how awesome SK is!

gabrielle said...

Isabel I hope you get Sin City tomorrow!!! And on an unrelated subject,(kinda) I just went on amazon and Killer Cruise comes out September 10!! I can't believe the series is coming to an end soon. :(

Jessica said...

I submitted an Amazon review. Since Amazon will take time to approve it, I've posted it on my blog, too (no spoilers): http://12in2012classics.blogspot.com/2013/01/sammy-keyes-and-the-showdown-in-sin-city-wendelin-van-draanen-review.html.

... And never mind, I was going to post that it has a perfect 5-star rating with 5 reviews, but when I went to the product page, mine was already up. So, 6 reviews, perfect 5 stars.

Jessica said...

Sorry for leaving so many comments. But I just went back and looked at the Sammy "Flat Stanley" post, and I could figure out all the pictures except the suit of armor. If someone's figured that one out, could you give me a hint? (Chapter number, maybe.) Thanks!

Yusa said...

Jessica: I know that book was so emotional and the mystery was different than others but it was amazing!

--Yusa

P.S. i was just wondering. Does anyone know what happened to Steph and where she went?

Kylie said...

Steph still here. She comments occasionally. She's busy being a senior in highschool. I don't think she has gotten the book yet.

Ky

gabrielle said...

I completely forgot about the suit of armor. I wonder where that came from... I know Steph doesn't get on her as much,but I knew she was probably busy since she is a senior in high school. I need to post a review to on amazon,I completely forgot to do that!

Isabel said...

Around page seventy and I started after school. IT IS SO EXPLAINABLE COOL SO FAR!!! And yes, Mrs. Dickstein DOES rhyme with 16! Nice memory Yusa! When the book came in my hand i I was trying So hard not to scream, cause we were at school, and the door to our van was still open...so it would have been awkward but funny if I did scream. Hope anyone who didn't read the book reads it soon! I'm not finished but it is so awesome so far!

Yusa said...

Yes! You got it!!! You're gonna love it so much... i feel like it was bad that i was jumping around so much when i read it! And i cant even start another book for the past week because im still inhaling this one over and over :)

gabrielle said...

I'm so glad you got the book Isabel!!!! I really want to re-read it!! And i'm super excited for Killer Cruise now!! I have a feeling it's gonna be great! Well of course it's Killer Cruise gonna be great,all of Wendelin's book are!! :D

Isabel said...

OH. MY. GOD. So I finished the book at around ten. I was so breath taken!!!! THIS IS SOOO AWESOME!!! First I'm thinking her dad is this person, but then I hear about another person, and like around the 3rd chapter before revealing who her dad is I'm making choices, like it could be him- or wait, yes! Him! And when she finds out literally I am like...."Oh. My. God. I knew it. I knew it. I could not believe it!" ONE OF THE MOST BEST BOOKS I'VE READ!!! Truly, Wendelin, you have mind blown me! WOOW

Jessica said...

So glad you got to read it, Isabel! Is anyone else still waiting?

Most SK books make me want to reread a particular other one. Today I was at a writing seminar at a different library, and I decided to try to figure out at what age my library separates out "teen/youth" vs. "children's" books. Knowing Wendelin had written some in both categories, I checked out the V's in the teen section, and there was the SK book I wanted to reread! Yay! Now I can see if there was any foreshadowing in it regarding a really small plot point in Showdown. (Not saying which book or which subplot for anyone who hasn't read it yet.)

Yusa said...

Yeah i was wondering who else hasn't read it yet?

Millers said...

Man! You guys have no idea how jealous I am! We don't get Sammy Keyes here in Geneva because there are only two English bookstores and so there is not that much variety!
You guys are luckyyy I want to order it ASAP but I have to wait till I have a lot of other things to order because shipping is so expensive in Switzerland. Sigh. Can you guys enjoy it for me, then?

gabrielle said...

Isabel I'm glad you got your book!! And millers I hope you get Sin City soon!!!

Yusa said...

Aww those people that haven't gotten it yet i hope you do soon!

So anyways i was re reading it again and my brother was downstairs and he brought me into the Sammy Keyes series years ago so i was talking to him about it. He only read until CHC and then he kinda stopped caring about books in general because he got busy with High school and stuff and that was the latest one out at that time. I kept reading and so i was saying "Guess what happened, guess what happened" to him and bothering about it and then he took it from me and wouldnt give it back! I fought for it. He's like "You already finished it!" but i fought for it until i got it back. No one touches my Sammy Keyes book and gets away with it... no one... :)
--Yusa

Jessica said...

Aww, Yusa! Let the poor boy borrow the book after teasing him like that! I mentioned on a forum how happy I was that I got a book that I'd been waiting for, and someone asked, so I had to give a brief description, and a 30-something-year-old man's reply was "How did you just make me want to read a girly teen book?" :D

Miller, I hope you get it soon. Can't the bookstore order it for you and not charge shipping?

Yusa said...

Jessica: Haha no im sorry i explained that wrong. He wasn't going to read it. He wanted to keep it AWAY from me. He said something about ripping a page out from each chapter and BURNING it! Feel no pity for him now!

--Yusa

Bella Honeydew said...

BURNING IT!!!! Woooow, it's almost impossible for someone to say they wanna burn a SK book if they have read a few! I wish everyone in the world who follows SK and is waiting for this book to get it!=) =)

Yusa said...

No he liked them i was just irritating him :) He said he needs to read the others after CHC first but i know he wont

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Will you all please just move in with me here? You've made this the best week! I love having you around :) Thank you!

Yusa said...

I will pack my bags! :) You've made my week the best week ever with this amazing book! It's so good i cant get over it!

Isabel said...

YUSA: You are cracking me up here.
Wendelin: I agree this is the BEAST week every, might want a bigger house, 'cause LOTS of people will be moving in!
Jessica: It is SUPER cool you got a MAN into SK!
Millers: I am so sorry you have to wait for SK, but hey IT IS SUPER cool you live in Switzerland and are a fan of SK! Hope you enjoy showdown in sin city, you'll get it soon!

gabrielle said...

Haha!! Yusa that was a funny story!! But someone burning a Sammy Keyes book!? That would be absolutely crazy!!! If my sister EVER did anything to my Sammy Keyes books.... She'd be sorry!! I'm with Yusa,I'll go pack my bags!!! And it's been cool reading all the comments,everyone's excitement. Can't wait till tomorrows post! :)

Corazon Nunez said...

Ugh. Barnes & Noble is OUT of SK. I have to wait!!! :(