Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From the desk drawer: MORE Tiny Stories

Hi! A couple more Tiny Stories found in the desk drawer!

(HERE are the others :-)

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From the desk drawer: Tiny Stories

Hi! Happy Tuesday!

I was clearing out my desk drawer the other day because I got a new desk and needed to make the swap, and I didn't have time to go through the mass of stuff in that drawer so I plopped it all in a box to go over one day while watching Cranford which I've finally bought off itunes but have not yet had the leisure to watch. But a few things in there caught my eye and made me think: must put on blog!

Here are some. From the archives of Laini's Ladies* that never were, a couple of Tiny Stories. I did these back in '06. Had such fun. Love them. Hope you like. More will soon follow. Cheers!

*Laini's Ladies: if you've never heard me talk about this and don't know what they are, for the past five years, until just the last few months, I created a licensed gift product line called Laini's Ladies. They were primarily ornaments and greeting cards, with other fun things thrown in, candles and notepads, stuff like that. The line has been retired now; all Laini's Ladies in the world have become "collectible" :-)  It was a hugely important phase in my creative life, the shift from making art by hand to having it made and sold in mass. It enabled me to write nearly full time and finish my first novel. Not to mention that it was fun and fulfilling in its own right. At its peak, we were sold in some 5000 stores across the country and in a smattering of other countries. The above line, the Tiny Stories, were never produced. You may guess by the roundness, I envisioned these as dessert plates. I wish they were. I would love to have these plates!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some before-and-afters

The last few days have sort of been lost in a black hole. The day before Thanksgiving -- Thanksgiving at which we were hosting 14 people -- Clementine came down with a stomach virus. Which made prep interesting, but guests were bringing many of the side dishes so we didn't have to do everything, and we managed, and Clementine got to feeling a little better, off and on. Thanksgiving was lovely, I was fairly useless owing to having an under-the-weather Clementine attached to my side, but Jim and my mother and our friend Andrew pulled off the cooking marvelously. Yum yum. And then, shortly after our last guests left, I started feeling ill. With, as it turned out, the same stomach virus. And then a few hours later: Jim got it too. So all of yesterday was a fugue. Clementine was now fully recovered, and Jim and I played "vomit tag" -- one of us would sleep, the other would watch Clementine until they barfed, and then we'd switch. Ha ha! And she was such a good kid all day, taking it easy on us, content to lounge, giving us lots of kisses to make us better, and asking us, "Are you okay?" in her precious, concerned little voice. Until, phew, around 6 pm when my parents and brother and niece came to fetch her for pizza and a sleepover, after which Jim and I slept for about twelve hours. And are now feeling much better. And still have Thanksgiving mess to clean up. Oy.

Anyway, you know how having guests always spurs a bit of housework, we had managed to pull some things together over here at the work-in-progress, so I thought I'd show you some before-and-afters. Fun!


Love that pea green! 

This was the first or second time we looked at the house. Our poor patient realtor brought us over at least a half dozen times as we tried to decide if we could really do it -- really do all this work.


We've only just begun to put things on the walls; there's a lot blank yet. But we have hung some pieces by our favorite abstract artist, Clementine Pie:


This one's the real doozy. The wallpaper, the carpet, the knotty pine!


And now I'd better stop avoiding cleaning the kitchen ...

Cheers, and happy weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

New York Times Notable Book!

Starry eyed ...

Yeeeeeeep! Such a thrill :-) 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone has been chosen as a New York Times Notable Children's Book of 2011, one of only five young adult novels on the list. Thank you, New York Times!!! 

I really ... I just want to say ... I don't really know what to say. So many wonderful things have happened with this book, the reception that it has gotten is mind-blowing and constantly amazing and I feel grateful all the time, every moment. Grateful to my fabulous publishers, Little, Brown and Hodder. To my best-anywhere-ever agent Jane Putch. To readers, for the emails, the tweets, the Amazon and GoodReads reviews, and for coming to signings so I don't have to be all embarrassed and pretend like it's not a big deal if nobody shows up (which, bless you all, never happened!). 

And Clementine, aged two, who climbed into a seatless dining chair today, standing right in the little hole in the middle, declared it her "writing room" and began to pretend-type. And who, later, hearing the staple gun from upstairs, raced to the stair railing to call out in defense of her new writing room: "No papa fix chair!" Ha ha. So, whoever gets the seatless chair on Thanksgiving, it's Clementine's fault. Dude, it's her writing room. Get off.

Have a good night. Smiling in my sleep :-)

Some color around the house

There has been progress around the house. Here and there, bits and pieces.

Some library shelves arranged. By color. By a lunatic. *ahem*

Picture rails! I know, I know. Shut up about the picture rails, Laini.
(Ribba, from IKEA.)

Here's the one in my work-in-progress writing room:

(That carved wooden drawer piece was acquired at Cargo, to balance out the IKEA blah. 
I plan to commit the atrocity of, um, painting it. Aqua. The one I wanted was blue already,
the most gorgeous blue, the most excellent antique lacquer finish! But was realllly $$. So.)

(Adorable paper animal sculptures by Djeco.)

Ah. And the living room, finally, ART ON THE WALL!

This is just a random collection of stuff put up in a hurry, but I like it for now. 
I love the idea of books as wall art! And it will be so fun to change this up.

Also, a little project whose completion was spurred by Thanksgiving,
and the need for places for our guests to place their posteriors.


I eeeeched to a halt one day when I spotted these guys on the sidewalk. 

And this one.

Jim painted them some time ago, but they have remained seatless until now. Yay!

My dad helped out with tools; Jim cut the plywood bottoms.
A trip to Fabric Depot for foam and fabric, and some angst with the corner folds.
And voila. Sitting accomplished :-)

That's all for now. Hopefully more to show soon. 

When that pesky book gets itself written ...

Friday, November 18, 2011

German Daughter of Smoke and Bone!

This comes by way of my German publisher, Fischer Verlage, this morning. So cool to see! And that notebook, which was a promotion. Love it. And I think the catalog cover is very handsome too :-) German release is February 23; notify all your German friends :-)

Meanwhile, writing writing. My parents had Clementine overnight, which makes for a) all-afternoon, all-evening and late-into-the-night writing, and b) a sound night's sleep, c) morning coffee + writing right here at home. Yay, parents! Miss the little smeagol ferociously though. 

Also, have been enjoying a newly de-disastrified writing room, which I finally took the time to clear boxes out of and neaten up a bit. It's still a work in progress, I shall show pictures soon, but oh, how I love it. It has carved out this little calm place in my mind. I've put up some IKEA Digitnet wires for clipping up completed chapters all in a nice row, for satisfaction and gloating. My head was needing visual confirmation of efforts accomplished! Also, first picture rail is up, and I love it; I sense that it will be the first of many in the house. 

The long and short is that I wish I didn't have to skedaddle to cafes to write anymore. I just want to hunker in my lovely writing room with all of my things close at hand, with the radiator under my desk making it so cozy, with my chapters strung up like ornaments, and never have to get out of my pajamas. Alas, the situation remains unchanged: Clementine not conducive to writerly productivity. I shall use my space at night, after she is asleep. And also right now. Toodle-oo!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Flight of Angels -- SIMPLY GORGEOUS


Do you like art? Do you like stories? Then here you go, A Flight of Angels, a graphic novel from Vertigo Comics, written by Holly Black and four other authors, illustrated by the incredibly talented Rebecca Guay. Oh man, is this book beautiful. I wrote a blurb for it, and it is this:

“An angel falls to earth, and capricious fae argue his fate. A Flight of Angels is a dark and delectable weaving of folklore, enigma, romance, and suspense, and so beautiful I want to put it on my wall in a hundred picture frames.” 

The jacket copy can tell you more:

Guardians. Messengers.
Warriors. Fallen.

In A Flight of Angels, all these angelic aspects and more are explored in a riveting tale beautifully told in the tradition of The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales. 
A mysterious angel plummets to Earth and lands deep in a dark forest, where his dying body is found by the mystical denizens of this strange place. As the gathered fauns, fairies, hags and hobgoblins debate what to do with him, each tells a different story of who they imagine this celestial creature to be -- a hero, a lover, a protector or a killer. Once all the stories have been told, a final verdict is rendered and the outcome will leave you breathless.

I wish I could scan some pages to post here, but I have to make do with what I can scavenge on the net -- unfortunately not all of my favorite pages, but you can get an idea of how lovely this book is. Look at these, then imagine even more gorgeous, and page after page of it.

One of the coolest things about the art is that for each tale, Guay alters her style to reflect the time, place, feel of the story. You've got to see it.

For what I understand, Holly Black conceived and wrote the "frame story" of the angel falling to Earth, plus one of the tales, and the four other authors contributed the other tales, and the variety is really cool. I love the idea of a supernatural Canterbury Tales type collection. That Holly Black, always coming up with some new awesome thing. Have you heard about her forthcoming novel (with my publisher, Little, Brown, and my editor, Alvina Ling)? I'm so excited about this one. It's called The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, which is such a great title. Here's the press release:

NEW YORK, NY [October 5, 2011]—The vampire genre receives a refreshing and inventive new twist through the master storytelling of renowned contemporary fantasy author Holly Black. The bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Tithe and the hugely popular The Spiderwick Chronicles series, will publish her upcoming young adult title, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, it was announced today by Megan Tingley, the division’s Senior Vice President and Publisher. Acquired in a heated, five-house auction by Fiction Editorial Director Alvina Ling, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown will be edited by Ling and release in Fall 2013 as the first in a two-book deal for world English, electronic, and audio rights negotiated with Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary. Already eagerly anticipated abroad, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown will simultaneously release in the UK from sister company Orion in print, electronic, and audio editions.

Conceived of and originally published to great acclaim as a short story, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is set in the not-so-distant future, where the vampire population has surged, resulting in the establishment of Coldtowns, quarantined cities of vampires and humans where predator and prey coexist in a never-ending blood party of revelry. These isolated meccas of debauchery are the pillars of pop culture, with vlogs, live feeds, and YouTube videos constantly streaming from the endless parties at vampire mansions. Drawn into this bizarre and dangerous world is Tana, who willingly enters Coldtown with an infected ex-boyfriend on the brink of turning and a mysterious vampire with a tortured past intent on seeking revenge. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original vampire story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing. 

Holly Black! Vampires! YAY!

You can read the original story HERE!

And here's Holly's blog announcement, with Q & A.

She's also working on a middle grade called Doll Bones, another completely awesome title. This output. Seriously makes me want to up my game. 

Remember: A Flight of Angels, a nice idea for a holiday gift perhaps? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cast your vote?

Hello there! I have never done this before, but here we go. I feel a little like I'm in the hallway at school handing out campaign buttons (except that I never ran for office in school, but never mind!) Anyway, I am thrilled that Daughter of Smoke and Bone has been shortlisted for Goodreads Favorite Book of 2011 and Favorite YA Fantasy & Sci Fi! Thank you Goodreads! Goodreaders? 

Thank you!

If you would care to vote for Daughter, please go HERE and HERE.

Voting for the semi-finals goes until November 20, at which time there will be a culling down to ten titles, and then another voting period. Of which I will remind you :-)

Thanks again!

(How awesome would it be to be the Goodreads Favorite Book of the Year?????)

Might I introduce you to the God of Cake?

No. No. No, Chewbacca is not the God of Cake.

Why would you even think that? Sheesh.

THIS is the God of Cake. 

It has nothing to do with Chewbacca, nothing at all.
I just needed an image so the link-within box for this post won't pop up empty,
and hey, the message is good. READ!!

Enjoy :-)

(Do you know Hyperbole and a Half? Genius.)

(Chewbacca image from Casa Grande High School library in Petaluma CA, 
one of the best school visits of the tour. Which I *do* plan to tell more about!)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Congratulations, Christopher Paolini!

You guys. How awesome is this?
Christopher Paolini typing THE END at the end of the Inheritance Cycle:

A huge congratulations to him. 

YAY, Christopher Paolini! 

He looks sort of dazed, doesn't he? Dazed with joy to have completed something so epic, and I imagine there must be sadness too, to say goodbye to characters he has lived with for so long.

On tour, in my school presentations, I talked about THE END, and how the first time I typed those words for the first time (at the end of Blackbringer), even though I'd known they were coming and thought I was ready ... when I saw them in black and white, I burst into tears. And I am not a cryer. Jim calls me a robot for not crying in movies and stuff :-) But that was a big moment, something I'd wanted to do my whole life: FINISH A BOOK! And to finish a series is even more extraordinary.

I'm not quite there on the current book (or series, obviously), but seeing this video, I thought it was very sweet, and bittersweet, wonderful and sad and complicated. And that this journey began for him so young! Crazy. If you don't know, Christopher Paolini published Eragon when he was a teenager; he's 27 or 28 now. Can you imagine having accomplished something like this by that age? 

I wonder what comes next. Big things, I bet. More big things, that is :-)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just thinking about picture ledges

Yeah. Just thinking. We moved into our house in May, but have not yet put a single nail hole in the walls. Weird? Yes. But the stark bare walls kind of go with the cardboard boxes in the corners look, which apparently is our design aesthetic: "move-in chic". Har har. One of these days we will have time to nest!

In the meantime, daydreaming. I keep seeing pictures of picture rails, mostly these plain Ribba ones from IKEA, and I kind of love the idea. Nice and clean, and super easy to change stuff out and rearrange, books faced out alongside pictures, little oddities.

I love the look of a whole wall of picture books. Or a smaller section:

Or magazines:

Or pictures, of course:

(I like this idea maybe for my writing room, with the line beneath for loose bits of inspiration.)

Also, look how cute. This is in a spot behind a kitchen door where a deep shelf wouldn't fit:

Or for a simple spice rack:

Here's another simple idea from the IKEA Family Live site (love) and the blogger Yvestown, using a simple IKEA spice rack for cookbook display and a splash of easy-to-change kitchen color:

She, in turn, got the idea here:

So yeah, just thinking about walls. And, apparently, pimping IKEA :-)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

LISTS! LISTS! + Manuscript Awesome-izing

Yesterday was a mixed bag. On the one hand, Clementine and I were sick and I had to miss the Neil Gaiman/Amanda Palmer show Jim and I had tickets for. Boo.

On the other hand, and compleeeeeeeeeetely compensating for any amount of headaches (and then some), Amazon's Best Books of 2011 were announced, and ...

Daughter of Smoke and Bone made the

The above image is slightly deceptive. Daughter is #6 on the list, not #1. There's a previous screen I've already scrolled past. But you guys. NUMBER SIX. The only YA book in the top 10! I am totally swooning with joy! It means a lot to get on the teen list too. A LOT. But to get on the BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR LIST is the kind of crazy I never even wasted any time hoping for. 


(You can see the full list, and the category lists, HERE.)

And speaking of the teen list, Daughter did not just make the list.


It made #1.

This is so amazing. I want to just stare at these screens.

Also, I want to say thank you to the readers who have posted reviews to Amazon. That is one of those things I try not to look at too much but I can't help it, and I really really appreciate them. Saying that is a reminder to me to get busy and post some reviews for books I have loved lately like Chime and The Red Glove.

Okay. I feel like I'm gloating, but I have another awesome list to tell you about.

Daughter also made Publisher's Weekly
Best Books of 2011, Children's Fiction:


It's an amazing list of books, and includes Chime and another of my favorite books of the year, from months back, Where She Went by Gayle Foreman, and also How To Save a Life and Beauty Queens by my Little, Brown sistren Sara Zarr and Libba Bray, which I have not read yet but will soon, as I love love love their books.

I will also be taking a look at that sci fi/fantasy list. I'm sorry to say I'm not familiar with any of them. I feel like an ostrich these days. A reading ostrich. Randomly, look at this cover from that list. Love it:

Isn't that fun?

Well. I'm well enough today to get back to work, so back to work I shall get immediately. I have actually been ... rearranging the furniture ... in the new novel, which is something I do all along the way as I discover bit by bit what the book is *really* about. In the best of worlds, the pieces will reform without me having to ditch whole chapters, but only rewrite lightly, kind of like ... dusting. And that IS what is happening, thankfully. 

I was emailing with a writing friend the other day who has a similar process as me, and we both confessed to not really discovering what a book is "about" until it is almost done. I sometimes think of this as finding the "axis," the pivot point around which the whole story turns. At which point it must be revised, restructured. This might sound drastic and terrible but it is not. I have done it with every book and story, and it is actually a fun and comfortable procedure for me, the "embettering" of the manuscript, once the light switches on in my attic. I mean, the pieces are mostly there, but they need jiggering. The suspense threads need tightening, the character arcs need tweaking, the whole thing could stand a general awesome-izing. Which is kind of a fun name for a procedure.

I'm going to the salon to have my hair awesome-ized. 

That bit of dialogue could stand some awesome-izing. 

Ha, add another excellent technical term to my lexicon, along with my go-to: "cool."


Monday, November 7, 2011

Eye Candy Breakfast -- Let's go swimming with cool clothes on

I happened upon some underwater images last night and got mesmerized and thought:
Time for Eye Candy Breakfast!


A lot of these are from a photographer named Elena Kalis. It's her thang.

YA readers, does that look familiar? Wonder if it's the same photo shoot as this ...

Which became this ...

I haven't read it yet, but mean to. Ditto this next new YA also with an underwater cover:

Really love this too, from photographer Zena Holloway:

And here:


And last, from a real underwater sculpture garden, I think it's in the Caribbean:



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