Saturday, February 4, 2017

Story Time!

Story time!

While other college friends would go bar hopping on weekends, my friend Mary Lou and I would go dessert hopping. We’d stop by a restaurant, order a single dessert, split it, walk to the next place, order another dessert…you get the idea. Maybe it was all the sugar, or maybe it was just that we tend to make each other laugh hysterically, but by the end of our tour d’esserts, I'm sure people who saw us staggering down the street laughing thought we were on something stronger than sugar.

This same friend and I would also entertain ourselves by playing a card game called (very appropriately) Nerds.

I don’t remember the rules, exactly, but it’s as physical a card game as there is - at least it is the way we played it.

It involved two decks and was something akin to solitaire, but you could put your cards on the other person’s field. We would fly through our decks, flipping through cards, arms jetting across the table, laughing hysterically. The goal was to unload all your cards (your entire deck). The first player to do that and shout "NERDS!" won.

Our roommates hated Nerds.

Or us nerds playing it, more likely.

Whatever. Cool people have their own code of conduct. I’m sure it makes them happy.

But not as happy as playing Nerds!

This relates to the dessert hopping story in that a king-sized Snickers was involved. We would slice the candy bar into about eight pieces, and the winner of the hand—or scrimmage, as it were—would get to eat one slice. Shuffle, shuffle, switch decks, go! That slice is mine.

You may have noticed that Snickers make cameo appearances in my books. If one of my characters is having  a candy bar, it’s most likely going to be a Snickers. (Or a Reese’s, but the reason for that is a story for another day.) (Although I must digress here to insist that Resee’s are best eaten quartered.) (Like a pie.) (Really.) 

Snickers are my go-to candy bar in stories because, well, authors write what they know, right? But also, Snickers remind me of Friday nights in college with a really good friend. Snickers have the power to make me laugh.

Which is why in The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, Lincoln has a thing for Snickers. The candy bar makes more than just a cameo appearance. The "Tattletale Toilet" chapter is all about the hazards of sneakin’ a Snickers.

Hey, since it's story time, do you want an excerpt? Oh, how fun. Okay! 

Diving into "Tattletale Toilet"...(h-hm)...


The next morning, Ma sprung my cage. "Lincoln!" she called from the bathroom. "Why are there bits of Snickers wrappers swimmin' around the toilet?"

I was in the middle of a dream, trapped inside the corner market by a decrepit old man who was trying to tase me for sneaking Snickers to homeless folks. His Taser was slick and could shoot from a distance, but his aim was all shaky and he was shufflin' along like a zombie in short red socks, wearing a hospital gown that was gaping wide open in back. "Don't you know it'll kill 'em?" he was shouting as I dodged him. "Send 'em straight into a diabetic coma!"

"Lincoln!" Ma hollered again. "What's a Snickers wrapper doing in the toilet?"

I was glad to shake off the zombie in red socks, but now my mind was dodging around for another escape route. How could there be wrapper left in the toilet? I'd seen it go down! And I'd used the toilet since! Had some pieces stuck to the sides? Had they made their way back up stream? How could this be?

"You sure it's not somethin' else brown?" I called back.

"Lincoln Jones, I know the difference between somethin' else brown and a candy wrapper." Her head popped out of the bathroom. "And I'm guessin' no 'No' means you got some explainin' to do?"


Having just typed this, I realize that it doesn't convey at all why the Bank Street College of Education just gave the book an incredible award. From that excerpt, the book seems like it's light and silly and funny. Which it is in parts...but in other parts it's weighty. And heavy needs a counterbalance. Especially for kids. 

And what also hit me just now is that the "Tattletale Toilet" excerpt is just like taking a break from the serious things in life to play a game of Nerds. Mary Lou and I are actually very introspective people. We have serious philosophical discussions, and help each other focus on what's important in life. But we also cut loose and laugh. Because the heavy stuff by itself can be crushing. All of us need some version of Nerds, some fun escape to fortify us for when we face off with the weightier things in life.

But back to Snickers! Or, more precisely, the reason dessert-hopping and Snickers made an appearance in this post to begin with. I didn't lead with PRIZE! because, hey, if you're just here to win stuff, go away.

But for you, my faithful bloggettes or bloglodites (or…can I hear a chorus of blogonerds!?), I'm doing a Lincoln Jones giveaway. And because Lincoln loves them, a king-sized Snickers is being added to the box.

This one-winner giveaway will include: one (dare I say very cool) Lincoln Jones T-shirt (made and donated by one exquisitely nerdy librarian who, I’m positive, wants to remain anonymous), one autographed copy of The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, plus Listening Library's audio version of it (read by the wonderful JB Adkins), and one king-sized Snickers.

If you would like to enter the drawing—anyone in the USA is eligible—all you have to do is go to the Contact tab at my website and send me an email following these guidelines:

1) Put “Snickers!” in the subject line.
2)  In the body of the message include:
  • Your NAME
  • Preferred T-SHIRT SIZE. (There's a limited size selection, I will match as closely as possible.) 
The bonus is, I will stuff the box with other books because my excellent editor gave me the gift of prepaid (domestic-only) boxes for Christmas. (This may sound like an odd gift to you, but she knows how much I hate the hassle that is our local post office, so it's a great gift.)

Anyway,  I'm allowed to stuff in as much as I can in the box for no extra charge, so it'll be Lincoln Jones stuff plus a grab bag (or, you know, box) of other titles.

Get your entry in by Friday (2/10) and I’ll announce the winner right here next weekend.

That's it for this week. Next week I'm planning to do the Sammy Keyes new covers reveal. (I'm so excited to finally be able to share it with you!) 

Meanwhile, if you have some game or activity that you do with a friend that always makes you laugh, please share it with us in the comments. I'm sure we'd all love to hear (or, you know, snicker!).

Thanks for stopping by. See you in the comments! 


Tibbitoo said...

Dessert hopping is my kind of Friday night! I'm obsessed with sweets, and your story made me crave a candy bar (or snickers!) I'm a sophomore in college, and the time I spend with my sister is so much fun! We're both kooky in the same way, we love to read, and she always makes everything funnier. I'm introspective myself, and it's hard to find someone who I mesh with like you and Mary Lou can it seems. Do you guys still talk to each other?

The giveaway sounds so cool!!!!!! I just entered :)I'm a sucker for book merch, especially since you get to show off your favorite books! It's a great conversation starter too. I'm excited about the new Sammy covers! Will they be paperback or hardcover?

While we're on the subject of book covers, Wendelin (or anyone else who wants to respond), what's your favorite hardcover for SK, and what's your favorite paperback cover for SK?

I absolutely love the hardcover for Killer Cruise--when it was first released, I kept blogging about how awesome it looked. I think my favorite 'title' would be Art of Deception, because it sounds like an epic mystery movie title.

Can't wait to read next week's entry!


Jessica said...

Wow, congrats! I had to look up the award because I knew it by its old name. What an honor! It makes me want to read Lincoln Jones even more... And I'm sure the library will get it sooner than later now, so I'll be able to soon.

The story of your friendship with Mary Lou is so timely. I've been focused on weighty things lately, and last night I took a break to watch the Super Bowl with some friends. While cleaning up, another friend and I had one of the biggest laughing fits (the kind where you're a puddle on the ground and you can barely breathe). I'd share the story, but it was one of those you had to be there for (like Sammy and Marissa's "loopy noogies"... seriously, I've tried to explain twice, and everyone just shook their heads). It's been a long time since I've had one of those laughs.

I love the idea of a dessert tour. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to take a break and have a good laugh.

Shaina said...

What an amazing award--Lincoln deserves it! (and so do you). Congratulations! As for goofing off with friends, I love watching America's Funniest Home Videos and I Love Lucy with my best friend. We start laughing and joking around and it is side-splitting! We also enjoy going running together--a good running buddy is hard to find! It's not as easy to get together now that we both have kids and she moved to Nottingham, UK last year, BUT phone calls are still GOOD, and we switch back and fort between serious and joking almost seamlessly. That's what a good friendship is to me--the ability to know when to be serious and when we just need to laugh. I chuckled at your description of dessert hopping--sounds fun! LAUGHTER FEELS GOOD.

Yusa said...

Its nice to see these blogs again. Congratulations on the award I can't wait to read Lincoln Jones (if not the giveaway then definitely after I hit up the library!). I love this story, especially since I recently started college and have been working on making my own memories with my roommates and friends. Currently though, I should do some homework. Speaking of college, I really need to bring my SK books here. Keep some of that adventurous inspiration close. I'll be here every week if you will.


Kylie said...

A dessert tour is seriously a great idea! Why have I never thought of it? Now I know what I will be trying out in the next couple of weeks! Plus what a great way to end a hard week, with a bunch of desserts!

One thing that really gets my siblings and me laughing is watching/looking and old family movies/videos. They are just always so hilarious and it's great to see how we acted when we were younger.

I am going to school to become a teacher and in one of my classes this week we were asked what are you looking forward to as a teacher and the first thing I thought of was sharing my love of reading. I have kept a lot of my favorite books from elementary and middle school to go in my classroom library and I am really excited to share your books with my classes as well! When I introduced them to my nephew he loved them and they really got him reading so I know my future students will as well!

I am so excited for the cover reveals! I love the Sammy Keyes covers and I know I am going to love the new ones! I can't wait to see them!

I hope everyone has a splendid week!


Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Thanks, everyone for the comments!

Aubrey: The new covers will be for the paperbacks. (I can hardly wait to share!) My favorite HC might be Hotel Thief because of the various underlying textures. The backgrounds are interesting. Like, did you ever notice that the "bad guy" represented on the back is painted on a map? The highways look like veins. I also like the last two quite a lot--Killer Cruise for the individual pieces, Kiss Goodbye for the stylistic presentation. Killer Cruise is probably also my favorite in paperback.

Jessica: I knew it by "Children's Book Award" too :-) - I think they renamed it in part to expand the awards given. Now they have 3: the fiction, non-fiction, and poetry awards. Also, your reference to Marissa & Sammy cracked me up instantly! I'd forgotten! Yes, there's nothing better than laughing with a friend 'til the tears stream.

Shaina: We should all watch the chocolates episode of I Love Lucy...with a box of chocolates at the ready. She was so brilliant. Also, I hope you plan a trip to visit your friend - what fun that would be! One of the nice things about the internet is how we can stay connected. My Dutch relatives used to call once in a blue moon and the calls were so short because of the cost. It felt more like, Oh good you're still alive! rather than catching up.

Yusa: What are you studying in college? I do plan to be here every week. It's nice to have such longtime readers / contributors. Sammy covers this coming weekend. I'm excited...and a little bit nervous! Art is such a subjective thing...

Kylie: Family movies is a great thing to bring out regularly! We don't, and we should! I have photo albums that I was pretty good about keeping up when the kids were young. Connor, especially, likes going through those.

Thanks again for the comments - see you again soon!

Yusa said...

I'm studying a little bit of the Kensington family business. Trying to learn enough to pursue a career in 9-8-75-7-16-53-6-16.

I'm sure if the art reflects the spirit of the books, we'll like it. Im excited, the book covers for Sammy were always my favorite with the collage of important pictures.

-- Yusa

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Yusa: OMG -- that was wonderful! Beautiful! So much fun!!

Do the rest of you know what Yusa's studying in college??

Because I DO!!

Kylie said...

Yes! I didn't have my books on hand so it took me a second to remember but I did. Yusa, that's so cool (the code and what you are studying!)

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Right, huh? Not just using the code, but what it spells out. The whole thing has put me in such a giggly mood.

Yusa said...

Yeah it is really cool!!!
I wonder what Sammy would study ??? with that adventurous spirit of hers.

Mark said...

Yusa - good for you! (That's what my brother studied, and that was his career. He loved it. And his wife did the same thing - that's how they met.)

And come to think of it, Sammy might have an interest in that too! :)

Jessica said...

Yusa, that's neat! I was a 83-8-6-2-M-53-16-T-R-39/83-8-L-118-39 double major (and then I studied public health in grad school). I agree that Sammy might be interested in your field, too... But I could also see her as a cop or maybe a social worker.

P.S. I find it funny you can't spell the code's field with the code.

Gabrielle said...

I've missed this blog and everybody so much! I hope you all are doing well! And I absolutely loved the story about you and your friend, Wendelin! Being able to laugh and have and not take life too seriously all the time is very important.


Wendelin Van Draanen said...

This is such a happy reunion! Happy to see y'all back here!

Yusa said...

@ Mark -
That's so cool about your brother and his wife, I would love to know more about it! I hope I make it that far!

Also yes I could definitely see Sammy as a social worker, a cop, or an investigator of course!

Jessica, that sounds so interesting to study too!

Also, to all the familiar people, its good to be back,
to all the new people, welcome