Thursday, September 14, 2017

Night of Cake & Puppets is in the world!!

It's here! Happy book birthday to Night of Cake & Puppets! 

If you're in the Portland area, come by and have some cake with us :-)

We also have some art and stuff to give you.

I'm so happy this beautiful edition exists!
Thank you, Jim, for the beautiful art.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

NIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS!!!




I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!!

Sometimes it happens that there are stories you want to tell that just won't fit in your novel. Maybe  they're outside the timeline, and not really relevant to the present, or maybe they're about secondary characters. The novel needs to stay true to its primary narrative. It isn't free to indulge in the fun little cul de sacs that you might wish to glide into and while away some sweet moments. Well, from the earliest days of writing Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I was really invested in Zuzana and her "violin boy," and I wanted to fit their romance into my novel somehow. But Daughter of Smoke & Bone wasn't their story, and I just couldn't, so it had to happen backstage.

In Days of Blood & Starlight, clearly I was still trying. There's this moment where Karou tells Ziri a little about Mik and Zuzana's first date. It was as much as I dared allow myself, and you can be sure that early drafts of that scene were longer! Again, it was indulgence. I had to stay focused on Karou's story, and Mik and Zuzana are a really important part of that, but there was no way to justify writing their romance the way I wanted to. 

So I made it a novella!! It was such a joy to write! This was four years ago, and that novella was released in e-format only, but NOW IT IS COMING TO YOU AS A BOOK-SHAPED OBJECT! WITH PAGES! AND COVERS! And ohhhh the pages and covers are beaaauuuuuutiful, because this is a GIFT EDITION, and it is illustrated by the wonderful Jim Di Bartolo, who is super talented as well as awesome, and who I had the wisdom and good luck to marry sixteen years ago!

You guys are going to LOVE IT. 

Our idea was that it would look like Zuzana's sketchbook, and that the drawings would be "done by her," so there's a lot of humor as well as gorgeousness. What I love is how the book feels like an artifact from the story itself, with the polaroids, diagrams, and notes all recreated, as though you're holding them in your hands. It's just so much fun. And the design! It's amazing. I'll have more to show you in the coming weeks. Wait till you see what's under the jacket! 

(Is this not the best cover EVER???)

Night of Cake & Puppets comes out September 12,
and you can preorder it now from your preferred vendor! 


Some sample art:





I couldn't resist taking a few snaps of the layout in my hands. (These are from the ARC; the finished copy will be even more gorgeous!)









Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Which godspawn are you?

I've always loved these "which character are you?" quizzes, so I'm especially thrilled with this one! In Strange the Dreamer there are five blue-skinned characters, half-human, half god, each with unique abilities, and you can find out which one you are...


(scroll down the page just a little to get to the quiz)

And because you only get to see the character you are, here's the art for all of them, by the amazing lesya blackbird ink! 

I LOVE THESE!!!

Minya

Sparrow, aka Orchid Witch

Feral, aka Cloud Thief

Sarai, aka the Muse of Nightmares

Ruby, aka Bonfire

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Strange the Dreamer tour!

It's almost time :) It seemed like the day would never come, but Strange comes out in ONE WEEK!
I hope to see you at one of these fabulous bookstores or festivals:


US tour



Oh, and if you come to one of the events you can get this limited edition sticker, the 2nd of four collectibles (get the 1st one by preordering!!)





And I'm coming to the UK!!!




Wednesday, March 1, 2017

One month till STRANGE: pre-order info!



It's getting real. STRANGE THE DREAMER is getting close! The finished books are in, both the US and UK editions, and they are the most gorgeous books I've ever seen. I mean, look at thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis...




So shiny! It's like a mirror!
And an embossed gold moth under the jacket!




Last week I went to the massive Hachette warehouse in Indiana (where 85 million books live and you have to drive around the huge hangars in carts) and signed some stacks:






And the UK editions, swoon!
I don't have mine yet. I've only seen these pictures:




Here's the signed (printed signature) illustrated title page from the first edition,
which also has blue sprayed pages :




And the back!





And another gold embossed moth!




The Strange the Dreamer shelf in my library is filling up. My heart is full :-)




Oh, and see that one in the middle? FROM THE GREAT LIBRARY OF ZOSMA? That's an awesome ARC wraparound Little Brown made. I'm a complete fool for things that are like artifacts from my fictional worlds. This makes me so happy.





(There are all these myths and stories within stories in Strange, and I want to mock up fake covers for them all and add to this collection :-)








So, preorder campaigns! There are two.

FOR THE US EDITION:

Basically, preorder it wherever you like, and upload your receipt at strangethedreamer.com, and you'll get shwag mailed to you: a signed bookplate (not a printed signature but a unique signature. I still have to sign these! Eep!) plus the first in a collectible set of 4 character decals illustrated by the amazing Lesya BlackBirdInk!





Look at Lazlo. Isn't he beautiful?? 






For the UK edition:



Anyone who preorders the book from a UK bookseller or site will receive the special first print run, which includes the gold foil, the blue sprayed edges, and the illustrated title page. Stores will have these too, until they run out and are replaced by the second print run, which will be less fancy. Go to Hodderscape for more info.

You want the Lazlo decal in the UK too? There will be a drawing for those, which you can enter HERE.


I think that covers everything.

I'm so excited!!

Check back in a couple days for full book tour info
(plus a peek at the 2nd collectible character decal!)



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Writing Question: how do you keep going when you feel like you have no idea what you're doing?

Tim Walker.:
photo: Tim Walker


So I got this great question in an email, and it felt so universal to me that I thought I'd answer it here. It's been a while since I posted about writing. Here you go! 



My question is this: how do you keep going when you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing?

I’m working on the second draft of a MG novel I just finished. I loved writing the first draft – as difficult as it was to do – but now, everything I do seems wrong. The writing seems terrible to me and I can’t figure out how to get it right. I feel like I’ve lost my character’s voice and I suddenly have absolutely no idea what in the world I’m doing.

I’ve seen a lot of writers talk about what to do when writing the first draft, and most of the advice is along the lines of “Don’t worry about the quality of the first draft, it’s meant to be crap, and you can always fix it later!” But I hardly see any good advice on how to “fix it later.” What do you do when the manuscript you spent a year or more of your life on seems like a putrid mess… but you can’t give up on it? What do you do when you feel as though you can’t ever make your piece as good as you want it to be? 

So, in essence: what do you do when you’re hopeless?


Hi Rosie!

I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling hopeless. Please know that you are not alone! Let’s focus on the positive: you finished a draft! That’s HUGE. So many would-be writers never make it that far. I really think that finishing is the hardest part, especially the first time. If you have it in you to finish a draft, I think you’re going to be okay. 

So, what to do now?? 

First, I need to tell you: for me, first drafts are 90% misery, 10% blinding joy. 90/10. So I can’t relate to your loving writing the first draft. If only! And yes, the prevailing advice on first drafts is indeed: don’t worry about quality. Just get the story down, then make it better.

Doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried it. I keep trying it because it sounds great! Even on my current book, my eighth, I made a plan that sort of involved a fast first draft. I haven’t been able to stick with it. (Well, I did once. For NaNoWriMo years ago I forced myself to write and finish a fast first draft and the exercise murdered all interest I had in that book.)

Fast first drafts don’t fit my brain. It’s like trying to shove an American plug into a European outlet or something. Like: you can try to force it, but nothing good will come of it, and you might even hurt yourself. I need to love every chapter before I can move on. As soon as I sense that something’s gone wrong, I need to fix it. It can feel crazy slow, but the result for me is that my “first drafts” are much closer to a finished draft, and the revision process is the great, fun work of taking something you love and making it stronger, versus the hard, daunting work of turning a “putrid mess,” to use your words, into a book. 

I’m not saying that you should work the way I do. If you really loved writing your fast first draft, that may indeed be the right method for you, and your second drafts will be the place, maybe, where you’re 90/10 misery/joy. It just might be that way. As much as I would love it if writing were a generally fun and delightful pursuit, for me it mostly isn’t. I’m sorry to say it. The 10% is really, really great though, and the satisfaction of the finished book makes up for everything. So if any of your hopelessness is predicated on the idea that it’s supposed to be easier and more fun, dispel that. For some of us, it’s just not. But it’s still worth it. 

This still doesn’t tell you what to do. I can’t really tell you that. A fast first drafter might have tips for you on how to tackle those kinds of revisions. But it sounds to me like you could use a break from this manuscript. Put it away for a while. Write something else. If this sounds defeatist, it isn’t. I always advocate putting a first draft away if you can possibly can, to give yourself distance and be able to come back to it with a fresh perspective. 

Also, you know what happened when I put that NaNo draft in a drawer and wrote something else? Daughter of Smoke & Bone.

So yay! I mean, I had a good outcome because I ended up writing a book I was passionate about and that was successful, but the crucial thing is this: beginning something new revived my passion for writing. Morale was really low after that NaNo draft (my “ballerinas in space” book!). Writing felt like such a chore. I could no more have tried to revise that thing than…[insert terrible unpleasant labor here, something involving outhouses maybe]. So I set myself the challenge of writing something new and fun, to try to fall in love with writing again. On my blog at the time I called it the “new, weird thing.” It worked. That book brought me joy. It wasn’t 90/10, even. Maybe more like 50/50. I wish it was always like that!

So: 
—Put your draft away for a while. Maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months. 
—Write something for fun. A short story maybe. Or a new novel. What do you have to lose? 
—Go back and look at your draft later. Read it like somebody else wrote it. What’s working? What do you love? When writing a second draft from a messy first draft, you may end up picking out the good things and starting mostly from scratch, versus “revising” what you have. That sounds hard and horrible, but it’s also freeing. Revising is the opportunity to make something more awesome. Embrace it. 

You can do this. Just keep going. Figure out what works for you. If it feels like it’s harder than it should be, don’t despair. Adjust expectations and keep working. Consider finding a critique partner or group. Joining an organization like SCBWI can help you build a community (and if you possibly can, go to their conferences!)

Good luck!!!



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

STRANGE THE DREAMER - 1st trade review!!

⭐AND IT'S A STAR!!! ⭐

Thank you, Booklist!!! 






(here's the text in case the image is hard to read)

By now, fans of Laini Taylor know what to expect: beautiful prose, strange and whimsical fantasy worlds, sympathetic monsters, and wrenching, star-crossed romance. Her latest, first in a two-book set, certainly delivers on that, and there’s something quietly magical at play here. Lazlo Strange, an orphaned infant who grew up to be a librarian, has had a quiet first two decades of life. But Lazlo, reader of fairy tales, longs to learn more about a distant, nearly mythical city, called Weep after its true name was stolen. When a group of warriors from that very place come seeking help, Lazlo, never before a man of action, may actually see his dream fulfilled. Weep, though, is a city still reeling from the aftermath of a brutal war, and hidden there is a girl named Sarai and her four companions, all of whom have singular talents and devastating secrets. What follows is the careful unfolding of a plot crafted with origamilike precision. This has distinct echoes of Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011), though ultimately it’s a cut above even that: characters are carefully, exquisitely crafted; the writing is achingly lovely; and the world is utterly real. While a cliff-hanger ending will certainly have readers itching for book two, make no mistake—this is a thing to be savored.




Thursday, November 10, 2016

Venice! (from summer)



Hi there. *shy wave* It's been a ridiculously long time since I posted anything. I really fell into a writing pit and spent the better part of a year digging myself out of it. I want to write about writing Strange the Dreamer, but I feel like I have to work up to it. Not to mention that I never posted pics of our summer trip to Italy, so I'm going to do that first, while I gather my wits.

Starting with Venice, because: Venice.




We stayed in the Castello district, which I highly recommend. Venice is such a mob in the main tourist thoroughfares, but get just a little outside of it and that totally falls away, revealing a real city where people live and work. Above is our neighborhood, only a 5 minute walk to San Marco, but very few tourists to be seen--and in the afternoon when it got hot and we'd had enough trudging, we'd take the vaporetto a few stops and be on the beach island, Lido! Below is the apartment we rented on airbnb. It was the office of a pair of French boatbuilders at one time. 




From the outside: 




It's directly on the fondamente; below pic is just in front of the house. 
That spire above Clementine is St Mark's.




Here's the nighttime view:
















































Look at these colors. Doesn't it look like a postcard from the 70s or something?

Venice is...unreal. Even as you're seeing it, your brain is denying it, a little. Mine does, anyway. Cruising down the Grand Canal on a vaporetto, I look around and it's all SO RIDICULOUSLY MAGNIFICENT that my brain kind of slips into this weird mode like it's seeing something fake and refuses to be impressed. I have to keep going: no, it's real. Believe it. The only other place I've had that reaction is the Grand Canyon.




Jim and I got engaged in Venice seventeen years ago, on a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs. Here's a selfie Jim took of us *on* the Bridge of Sighs <3




And the Bridge of Sighs at night: 



Next time: Tuscany!




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