Monday, January 31, 2011

Flutter and Porch Light -- more favorite Portland stores

Sundays of late have been family day, no work, only play, at least that's the plan. Last week, Jim was distressingly ill so there was no play :-(  Today the plan was to get out for a low-key "doing nothing with particular enthusiasm" day, starting at IKEA to scope out cheap white sofas for possible future purchase, and progressing to Mississippi Ave, one of our favorite Portland shopping-eating-strolling streets. 

And that is what we did, but the Mississippi part was very brief, so this isn't much of a "Portland neighborhood ramble" post. Not enough "rambling" occurred! We did get to catch up with a dear friend. And we did eat bland low-carb substitutes for our usual dish (the Che Guevara) at our favorite burrito place, Laughing Planet. And we did make it into two of our favorite stores.

AND made it out without buying anything. Which is both triumphant and sad. 

Here they are:

Flutter *a delightful disarray of found objects and clutter* is a crazy treat for the senses. The owner does the most magical and weird displays; it's not a huge space, but I could happily take pictures there for hours. Cabinets and bones, art books and tulle, jewels and antlers and bird cages, you never know what you'll find. Every time, it's a new experience. 

On this occasion, I found the taxidermy to be all dressed up and ready for the ball.

{keep reading below}

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Very Important Development

There has been a very important development in our house. Can you guess what it is?


Our very first pigtails!



Friday, January 28, 2011

Over the Atlas, and Our First Kasbah

After our night at Douar Samra, we were picked up for the five-day tour we had arranged over the Atlas Mountains to arid Southern Morocco -- the stretch between the mountains and the ever-encroaching Sahara -- known for its kasbahs and camels and date palm oases. It was a private tour, just us with a guide, Mohammed, and driver, Tariq. (This is pretty much how tourists see Southern Morocco; I considered renting a car but ruled it out from fear of the unknown. Now, having seen how good the roads are, and how relatively easy it is to find things, I wouldn't be afraid. However, the company of the guys, both Berber nomads from the Sahara, was great.)

I had worked with the tour company to put together an itinerary that I thought would be relatively Clementine-friendly. That is: not too much time spent in the car.

Best laid plans, and all that. Ahem.

The drive over the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass, the highest mountain pass in North Africa, is gorgeous. 




And we got to enjoy almost none of it. 

{keep reading below}

Thursday, January 27, 2011

First Pass Pages, and a peek behind the scenes, and some news!

Look what arrived on my doorstep yesterday: first pass pages for Daughter of Smoke and Bone!

First pass pages are the first typeset draft of the book, printed out as proofs. These pages are exactly as they will appear in the ARC, or Advance Reading Copy, which is sent out to booksellers, librarians, reviewers, etc. At the same time that the publisher is readying the ARC to print, they/we are also going over the book in this format one last time before the final print version is arrived at. So, though this is the way reviewers will see it, it is not the final-final-final draft.

In brief, here's the life of a book once the author finishes it and sends it to her/his editor (note: publishers do vary in their process, but this is pretty basic):


There are generally several rounds of revisions, during which quite major -- even massive -- changes might be made to the story, the characters, the ending, the beginning, whatever. At this stage, anything might still happen. The editor helps the author shape the book into its best possible self. This stage might take months, depending on the book. If the book was purchased incomplete, as was Daughter, this is time at which the publisher must formally "accept" the manuscript as fulfilling the author's end of the contract. 


After however-many revision rounds, when the manuscript is considered "final" in the eyes of the editor, it moves on to copyediting. This is done by a fresh set of eyes, maybe an in-house copyeditor, or a freelancer, or possibly another editor who has not been involved in the editing so far. Fresh eyes are so important! 

A good copyeditor is not just looking for grammar and punctuation (though that is a big part of their job), but also for inconsistencies that others may have missed. Like: it's nighttime in this scene, but then there's a mention of  sun glancing off the mirror. Also: continuity, logic, that sort of thing.

Authors' copyediting experiences vary widely. Some CEs (copyeditors) are major Chicago Manual of Style sticklers and mark anything and everything that deviates. Others are more flexible with the author's personal style, and work toward consistency in that style. The author has the ability to mark STET on the CE's changes, which is Latin for "let it stand." 

First Pass Pages

Then it's time for first pass pages, where the house and the author both give another read and try to catch anything they missed before. It's GREAT to see the book typeset, after having read it in manuscript form many times. (Typeset means how it will look in the actual book.) It is beginning to look REAL now. BOOK-LIKE. And here the author sees for the first time what font the publisher has chosen, and what kind of decoration or flourishes, if any, they are using for chapter headings, title page, things like that. 

With Lips Touch especially this was crazy-exciting, because Lips Touch was printed in two-colors, and is a gorgeously designed book. I think Jim and I did some jumping up and down when we first saw it. Well, Jim will deny any such behavior. Maybe I am the only one who jumped up and down. While he leaned against a wall and smiled, all cool. 

For some reason, seeing your words in this book-looking typeset way makes it easier to give it yet another read, and also makes typos pop that you may have glossed right over on a billion earlier reads. 

First pass pages are cool. And fat. And heavy. I did not bring it with me to the cafe this morning, where I am now, just about to start writing. (Freedom, prepare to be enabled.) That work will be reserved for evenings. Mornings are for new words :)

What's next?

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, covers are being designed, which is very very exciting! I have seen various roughs from Little, Brown, and they are onto a very cool concept right now. Can't wait to see how it turns out! My UK publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, sent me their ARC cover, and it is gorgeous. Interestingly, unlike here, they usually use a different cover for the actual book. In any case, I will show all these fun fun things once I am given the go-ahead.

I can't speak to the many things the publisher is doing at this stage. Many-many. It's all them now. It's one thing to write a book, and quite another to make it a book, and get it into people's hands, hopefully lots of hands, to draw the attention of passersby, to persuade reviewers to check it out. There is a reason that publisher's get 90%, people. I do not begrudge them a nickle of it. 

One thing I *think* I will be able to share soon is the flap copy. And let me tell you, shoooooeeeee. Writing flap copy may be harder than writing the actual book! 

Some extreeeeeeemly exciting news (to me):

This blows my mind. My tiny brain people* do ecstatic dances whenever I think of it, and then they  kind of wander around in a daze bumping into each other going, "Can you believe it?" "No. Can you?" "No. Can you?" etc.

*tiny brain people are the native fauna of your mind. They work all the gears and levers. Duh.

It's this: last I heard, Daughter of Smoke and Bone had sold in 18 foreign territories. Eighteen. That's eighteen versions, eighteen languages, eighteen different covers.


I [heart] foreign editions. A longtime component of my writer daydream, along with the "Back to the Future box"**, is this: a shelf with foreign editions of my books all lined up. 

I am going to have The Shelf. 







Sorry. Tiny brain people just swooned en masse, leaving my mind unmanned for a couple of seconds. 

I have a few foreign editions so far, of my earlier books, and some in the works, but I'm afraid that my Dreamdark publisher has forgotten about me, as I have not been sent copies. Wah! I got a google alert for the Brazilian Blackbringer (yay!) but have only onscreen proof of its existence. Which does not feed  The Shelf. 

Anyway, all is well-beyond-well here. Now, to get to work on the current book!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

** Back to the Future box: when George McFly (Crispin Glover) gets a box of his new book from his publisher? Most writers I know remember that scene from the movie, while most non-writers seem not to. Funny, no?

By the way, speaking of covers, Stephanie Perkins forwarded me this interesting link on YA fantasy covers for the coming year. Thankee!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writing is hard

Writing is hard.

It's hardest when your daydreams are demanding. 

Or when you are hungry. 

Or tired. 

When your routine gets thrown off.

And the universe isn't aligning for your optimal working pleasure.

It's so easy to be lazy. Watch TV or read a book. As long as I can remember, though, I have had this consciousness that you can create entertainment or you can consume it, but you can't do both at the same time. At the current time in my life, there is next to no TV. It's pretty easy to stop watching, actually. I don't miss it. Jim and I sporadically download a few comedies and get caught up. The Office, Thirty Rock, Parks & Rec. We don't see many movies. I do miss them, but it's less of a big deal than I'd have thought.

The harder thing to shun is the internet, because some evil genius had the idea of making it instantly accessible via my work tool, that is: my computer. This is really a horrible horrible idea, and I often fight a losing battle against it, as evidenced by my being here right now, instead of deep inside the Scrivener doc I can see open behind this blogger screen. (hellooo there, novel!)


I have Freedom. I just need to have the will to enable it. I'm working on that right now. Not now-now, but in my life in general. Meanwhile, now-now, I'm tired, so I will probably climb into bed and read a few pages of book and then doze off. 

From downstairs, the cereal is calling to me in a tiny voice, trying to convince me now is a fine time for an ultra-early breakfast. Oh, how I wish I could. Cereal, I long for you too. But we just can't be together right now. It's not you. It's me.

Sometimes, a good reason to go to sleep is: in order not to eat! Then, when you wake up, it is magically time, like a time machine straight to breakfast! 

With that, good night!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eye Candy Breakfast -- er, more like lunch this time

Assorted eye candy gleanings from the inspiration folder this (late) morning. I love this tree-indoors look, plus this winter-white photo is so pretty. It looks like a bare tree in a snowscape. Frosty and dramatic. Driftwood hunt at the coast, anyone? I know the perfect beach :-)

It's a weird day around here. Jim is sick, so the schedule is off, and I have the munchkin all day. Usually on a Monday morning I would suit up with my backpack and toodle down to the cafe to write. Today I couldn't shake the habit, so instead of my computer on my back was Clementine, all bundled up like a sky-blue puff. She got to play with trucks and pet a giant dog. Good morning, and now we're home and she's snoozing. Poor Jim too.

Oh, and my writing cafe has a Monday chocolate chip cookie with drink giveaway, but I did not indulge. Because I am gearing up for Saturday treat with Hoobubby, if rewards are merited again :-) (See last post.) (Also, have you read Room? Saying Saturday treat made me think of Sundaytreat, which creeps me out.)

But back to eye candy. I LOVE this button wall paper from Studio Ditte (they're in Holland, I think). Isn't it sweet? 

I can't see myself actually using wall paper -- isn't it a pain? I don't know. I thought it was only for frumpy old frumps until the movie Amelie. Do you remember her apartment? You know what might be cute? An empty picture frame framing real buttons stuck on the wall. Or is that just a dumb idea? I don't know. Sticking stuff on the wall can be pretty sweet. Look at this Christmas tree from All the Luck in the World. I love this so much, it makes me want to start a wall-tree trinket collection:

(She's got a darling post up right now of random shots around her house. Check it out. She's in Holland too. What's with the Dutch inspiration? :-)

But back to wallpaper. Another one I lovelovelove is this one from Studio Violet:

It also comes as a poster. It's called "Friends of Violet." Isn't it the cutest? 
It makes me want to draw and paint!

More little friends, and here, I'm afraid, I can't find or remember the company or link!

[updated: thanks Aranel13 for the info on TinEye, 
through which she found that this work is by Zoe de Las Cases.]
Not to swipe her idea, but this would be super cute to do with your own photos of your munchkins.

And here. I so want to make one of these for Clementine's second birthday. It's a cake topper. Isn't it awesome? I could see making them as dollhouse dolls too, if you're into that sort of thing :-)

 It's by i make stuff, where I also got the idea for Clementine's first birthday hat.

(bib hand-embroidered by the fabulous Stephanie Perkins, better known for writing wonderful kiss scenes. As well as wonderful entire books wrapped around wonderful kisses!) For fabric, I spent all this time at the fabric store and got something or other, but then ended up just cutting up a table napkin that I liked better!)

Ooh! And how about some wooden spoon friends? I don't remember where I got these guys! What an idea, though. Anything can be art, huh?

That's all the candy for today. Have a lovely Monday!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Portland Neighborhood Ramble: North Williams edition

Got out of the house this weekend for a little ramble to one of Portland's many small destination neighborhoods. But first, I got the morning started off right with an entirely counter-intuitive rewards system. That is: 

The reward for weight loss is CAKE!

Alexandra and I, to celebrate a double-fabulous Weight Watchers week, went straight from our meeting to the supermarket, where bought ourselves two slabs of cake, split them in half, and ATE THEM ALL UP. It was wonderful. I think it might have been my reward idea to start with (forget dangling a carrot; dangle cake!) but Alexandra really took it over. On the way down the aisle to the bakery section, she was so single-minded. I was trying to tell her a story, and she couldn't process it. Her mind was on a loop like this:


Halfway through eating the cake, I paused my devouring long enough to tell her another story (like: the plot of my current book!), and while I was talking, she finished her cake, and I did not. I still had half left, and Alexandra commenced to eyeball it a ruefully.

I didn't plan it, I swear, but I'm told that when I was little, one of the few strategies I had for getting the better of my older (bigger, stronger) brother, was to tease him in just this manner. When we would get a treat, he would wolf his down straightaway, and I would savor mine, just so I could gloat it over him when his was all gone. Ha ha! I had a friend who had done the same thing to her younger sister only it backfired. When her mom caught her mid-taunt, she forced her to share her remainder. Ha ha!

Anyway, cake was had by us, and it was low-brow supermarket cake, and it was awesome.

After, we went up to North Williams Ave, this sort of new stretch of shops and cafes in majorly gentrifying North Portland. (It's near Mississippi Ave, which will be the focus of one of the neighborhood rambles soon!) We only went to a few places, so this is a short ramble. First of all, check this out. It says: Lodekka: double decker dress shop. How awesome is that? A dress shop in a double decker bus!!!

{more below!}

Friday, January 21, 2011

Douar Samra, High Atlas Retreat

photos by Laini Taylor

Hello there! We're back to Morocco today!

Picking up where we left off . . . 

After five days in Marrakesh, it was time to move on to our next destination: the village of Tamatert in the High Atlas Mountains, about an hour and a half from Marrakesh and just upslope from Imlil, a (larger) village that is the center for trekking on Mount Toukbal, North Africa's highest peak.

Tamatert is tiny. Teeny-tiny. I'm afraid I have a sad failure of photography -- a hire car brought us, and another picked us up, and what with Clementine fussy in the car seat, I didn't ask either driver to stop for a panoramic shot. Sigh, alas. And as for the village itself, there was the matter of not wanting to be the big a-hole sticking a camera in everyone's face. 

Our precise destination was the guesthouse Douar Samra, owned -- indeed, built -- by Jacqueline, the Swiss woman who owns (and restored) the Riad Samsara in Marrakesh, where we stayed. Douar Samra is an altogether different experience. Samsara was all elegance; Samra is rustic-cozy. So cozy.

Remember I mentioned the coziest room I have ever been in? Well, here it is, the lounge at Samra.

How fairy-tale is this room? *Swoon swoon love.* I couldn't get enough of it!

It made for excellent Clementine exploration, too.

{keep reading after the cut!}

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pinking Day

Every couple of months, this day rolls around. Pinking Day. Sometimes the pinking takes two hours, sometimes three. Today was the short day, which is when Dayna my stylist only does the roots, and doesn't repink my whole head. My whole gigantic head. (Actually, my head is pretty average-size, so I'm thinking Clementine's 90th percentile head must come from Jim :-) 

People ask me a lot, so here it is. Yes, my hair, which is medium brown, has to be bleached before it can be pinked. Only the new growth is bleached each time. I would never attempt this myself, at home. Chemicals, best left to the professionals! 

The bleach stage always reminds me of sherbet, the faded pink up against the new yellow. It's kinda pretty in its way.

I don't even know what this is a picture of, but I like it!

What I see: 

What Dayna sees:

Dryer time.

By the way, speaking of my hair, I wasn't sure how it would be received in Morocco -- I needn't have worried (well, not that I was worried, more like curious). There was nothing to it. I got lots of "Nice color!" while walking through the souks. And I didn't catch any horrified or appalled glances, either. I'm not saying that Moroccans liked or approved of it, just that they didn't show outward sides of hating it.

Italians, now . . . concealing their opinions is not part of the national character. To put it mildly, they were not keen. Youngish women tended to be the most rude. In fact, the first words I heard on setting foot in Italy, barely one step off the airplane, were from a stewardess waiting to board, and they were, "Fa male!" or: "It hurts!" The accompanying gestures made it clear she meant that my hair hurt her. And she was just the harbinger of things to come.

I was actually practicing in my head saying, "You know, you're much less cute when you make that face," because of all the grimaces. Ha ha!

Anyway, it's bedtime for Laini. Happy Pinking Day! And question: have you ever done anything *weird* to your hair?

And this just for cuteness. Later in the day, Clementine and "Beebee" cruise Trader Joe's. SO CUTE!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eye Candy Breakfast

photo via sunsurfer

How about a little eye candy first thing in the morning? Like, maybe, four courses?

* * * * * * * * *

You know how I said last time that I was loving the industrial metal look? 
One thing I love is Tolix chairs, from France.

sorry no photo credits :-(

I was looking at this photo last night (from *design inspiration folder*, probably pulled from beloved Decor8 blog), and wondered what that style of chair was, so I googled around and found out. Some day, I would love to get some, to pair with a lovely wooden table and white linens in a dining room. Probably white, though they come in all kinds of colors and bare metal too.

Mixey-matchey is cute.

Just curious about prices online (they're expensive, alas), I found that they often sell in big batches, presumably as cafes get rid of their old stock. One place is currently (drool drool) offering 100 of these gorgeous blue ones.

[Heart] Tolix.

* * * * * * * * *

And hey, remember when I posted about those books we got in Rome? Well, I said how I couldn't find a website for illustrator Aurelia Fronty. It's um, Ha ha! Also, by pure coincidence, a few days after that post, I happened to buy some Djeco stickers (*love*) for myself and Hoobubby, one of which was this one:

by Aurelia Fronty!

Also apropos of that post, thank you to Sandra Price for emailing to let me know that actually, at least one of those books is available in English. It is The Secret Lives of Princesses, illustrated by the awesome Rebecca Dautremer, published in US by Sterling. Thanks, Sterling! And Sandra for the info.

* * * * * * * * *

Okay. And how about this?

Photos by French photographer Alain Delorme, found via Anahata Katkin. Wow, huh?

I don't know if they're real or staged or photoshopped. Do you?

* * * * * * * * *

And then, in ultimate eye candy, there's Sunsurfer. GORGEOUSNESS. 
A compilation of dreamy and gasp-gorgeous photos that make you go, "Can that be real?"

Beware. Once you fall in, it's hard to get out!

Have a beautiful day!
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