Thursday, August 30, 2012


LOOK! In book form for the first time! Days of Blood & Starlight! 

This is the UK advance copy (on left) and the UK sampler (right), finally arrived to my porch after an interestingly long lull, perhaps in Customs? There is just ... I cannot articulate the magic of finally holding one's own book in BOOK FORM after so many unruly stacks of manuscript pages. There is this wonderful realness, this bookness at last. AT LAST! And when it is so beautiful, well, that only makes it better. Isn't it beautiful? Gorgeous gold glinty letters and all. And hefty! 513 pages, my longest book so far. 

Yes, November is still far off, but it will go so fast! And I will be here petting my ARC and cooing to it until the hardcovers arrive some time in October ...

Okay, not really. I will be writing book 3! 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Popsicle stick puppets

Clementine and I made popsicle stick puppets on the front porch today
and I'm kind of in love with them.
If it looks like I did most of the drawing, I did. But not all. And she did a lot of the coloring. 

I am deeply in love with Berol Prismacolor colored pencils. The BEST.
Forget crayons. Prismacolors are so much more rewarding. C's hand-eye skills are crazy, and I think it's partly from drawing and coloring with colored pencils.
(And playing with teeny stuff in her dollhouse from when she was wee.)

I totally want to make more! 

Here's the back. Nothing fancy.

We've started doing more crafts, and this was a quickie. I hope to use more of her original drawings next time, if I can keep her interested.

Oh yeah, and there's this guy, dragonfly bunny auntie :-)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Giants, Blue Aliens, New Noses

What with the new eyes and all, I thought I should have a new nose to go along. What do you think? Good choice? Or maybe I could trade with Jim ...

Don't now if the fuzz-stache would suit me, though.
Suppose Clementine would let me borrow hers, at least until she grows into it?

Love those, nose cups. Much giggling :-)

We were at Trek in the Park yesterday, a genius thing in its fourth season, in which episodes of Star Trek are acted out in Portland city parks. So fun! Here's the venue this year, Cathedral Park in North Portland, under the St John's Bridge:

Some of the action:

Local creative-folk and real-life married couple Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett played Spock's parents

They are the creators of the cool Boilerplate and Frank Reade steampunk alt history books:

They were also good actors!

The Trek episode was Journey to Babel, a glimpse of it here:

Hee hee. 

Last night, Clementine stirred in the wee hours wanting a drink, and as she fell back asleep, she was murmuring about "the blue guy." Then, first thing this morning, she started telling us how the blue guy with two antennae wasn't a bad guy, but the one with one antennae was. And Jim and I just stopped talking and stared at her, because she was right, but I would not have thought she could have grasped that, since our seats weren't that great and we couldn't hear all that well and ... well. She was totally watching. And processing. All of it. Kid astounds me. 

We've been talking her to live theater since she was pretty little, being blessed in Portland with both the Northwest Children's Theater and the Oregon Children's Theater, not to mention traveling productions and any number of other smaller theater and puppet companies. ([Heart] Portland) And she loves the theater. And she loves getting to meet the actors after. 

... One actor in particular. She first saw him as Willy Wonka. Then as the lemon tree in Rapunzel. As Lowly Worm in Busytown and the evil mayor in El Zorrito. She's been to his storytimes at the Children's Museum. She has a bit of a crush on John Ellingson. And so it was that we found ourselves at the Powell's Book 41st Anniversary block party on Saturday hunting down ... the BFG.

The Northwest Children's Theater is opening the season with Roald Dahl's The BFG (the Big Friendly Giant) and we will so be there (they are also doing Peter Pan, Seussical, and a tap dance Cinderella, and we will miss none of them). So. We found the giant in question. He was easy to spot. 

I love the look of stun on this little boy's face as he shakes the giant's hand:

Chuck Palahniuk was there too, with a long signing line. 

Just another weekend in Portland :-)

Oh! And next year, Trek in the Park: The Trouble with Tribbles!!!!! Can't wait :-)

Friday, August 24, 2012

the Foretold Anthology is almost out!

Look what came this morning! Real books of Foretold! Full title: Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy & Prediction. The awesome anthology which is also that first anthology I have ever been in, yay! Thank you, Carrie Ryan, for inviting me, and folks at Delacorte/Random House (especially Krista Marino) for publishing it, and with this gorgeous cover! I love it. 

My story is called Gentlemen Send Phantoms, and it is the first one in the book!!! ... which elicited some squeaks from me when I found out. I don't know why, but it did :-) 

This story was so much fun for me to write. It began back in -- I think -- 2006, when I had finished my first novel (Blackbringer) and was supposed to start on the sequel (Silksinger) but was afraid to, so I wrote short pieces instead. I started a writing blog with a blog friend in England, in which we posted weekly prompts, and then linked to them, and anyone could play. It's still going, though I dropped out after Clementine was born, finding I couldn't remember to do ANYTHING beyond feed the baby (and myself. Especially cheese and chocolate. Me, not the baby. Not directly, anyway.) So anyway, Gentlemen Send Phantoms was one of the stories that came out of those prompts, as were the three tales that made up Lips Touch, as were some of the key ideas in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, like the idea of a trader in teeth and wishes. 

I loved the "Gentlemen Send Phantoms" story so much, but it was only about 1000 words long, a wee little insubstantial thing, and it stayed that way for years. So when I was invited to contribute to an anthology on prophecy & prediction, I thought YAY I CAN EXPAND GENTLEMEN YAY YAY YAY! And I did, to a hefty 10,000ish, and loved every second of it. It's probably the sweetest thing I've ever written. It's kind of a lollipop, and it begins ...

Once, when the moon was younger than it is tonight and not as plump, three girls gathered by a hearth to bake a dreamcake.

Baking a dreamcake is a St Faith's Day ritual to glimpse the phantom of the man you'll marry and "know some of what life holds in its basket for you." The problem: these three friends all hope to see the same phantom, the one belonging to Matty Blackgrace. Will any of them be so lucky? Read and see!

I must confess to not yet having read the other stories in the collection (I got my ARCs not long ago) but I am so excited to read them! So many fabulous authors! I hope you will check it out.

Since you aks, it comes out TUESDAY and can be found ...

a) at an indie bookstore near you
d) Amazon


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Some more painted stuff, some book fretting

Hi! Guess what. I'm going in for LASIK tomorrow and letting someone take lasers to my eyeballs. I'm so excited! Next time you see me, I will be glasses-less after more than twenty years of the infernal contraptions! 

And guess what else. Review copies of Days of Blood & Starlight are in the world. There aren't a lot, and I don't have any myself. In the UK they've printed paper ARCs, but in the US they're sending limited e-galleys to librarians, reviewers, and accounts. I don't know how many, all I know is: 

The book is in the world.

Which is terrifying. By pushing my deadline to the breaking point, I unwittingly bought myself time and peace of mind in the form of: since there were no advance copies available at the summer conferences, no one was reading and/or reviewing my book! I didn't have to worry about it! But now it is out there. I've heard from a few people, and it's all lovely, I really am excited to get feedback. Sweet pizza, I am so proud of this book. But you know, the moment a book "gets loose" and goes out to explore the world (like my wily, dear deceased Siberian husky) ... it's a big thing. 

You guys. Someone could be reading it right now.

*hides eyes*

So enough about that. More about paint! Book? What book? Tra la la!

Painting things is good. It gives them new life. I [heart] paint! When we moved into our house last year (which itself needed much, much paint, so very much white paint), our bedroom was NOT one of the rooms that got attention or new furniture or any sort of cuteness. It was an atrocity, and I really wanted it to be the serene lovely space I knew it could be. The first thing that had to happen was: storage. This house was built in 1885. It has weenie closets. And this cheapest-of-the-cheap IKEA pine armoire below was both ugly AND way too small. So we got a much bigger and prettier (still IKEA) sectional armoire set-up (LOVE) and we painted the below white, gave it new handles, and shifted it to Clementine's room.

(Note also the dark bedpost in the corner of this photo.)

(oh the bluh blahness of a few short months ago! How did we stand it??)


Painted white with pretty handles. I'd planned to paint a cute pattern on it, perhaps inspired by Mary Blair, but I really doubt the likelihood of that happening now. I'm so done with projects. Ugh. But goodness, how vastly less ugly is this thing now? And it's great storage in C's room, which has NO closet.

Then, our bed. I kind of wanted a new one. I was in an "I want" mood. You know those. They're terrible, and cunning. Wanty wanty wanty feels so much like needy needy needy, it will trick you. Bt painting, painting will save you! I love this old bed now. Creamy glossy marshmallow white. This room is going to be pretty, with very little in the way of new purchases. Yay!

That's all. (For now. There's this linoleum floor we painted I still have to tell you about.)

Carry on.


A Tale of Two Birthday Cakes

There were two birthday celebrations for a certain little pastry's 3rd birthday (3rd birthday!!!! *head spins*), one on the day itself, the other for the party a week and a half later. Both were delicious freaking cakes, both sort of essential recipes, so I thought I'd share the eevil. Both are from, and I substituted yoghurt for almost all the oil in both and they came out great.

(Both cakes poorly and inadequately photographed due to frazzledom and forgetfulness. Me, forgetting to halt everything to take pictures? Weird.)

First, basic chocolate cake, a super easy (one bowl), relatively non-eevil (frosting notwithstanding) option that was de-freaking-licious. This is now my go-to chocolate cake. 

(The little mushrooms! Got the candles at that adorable little cupcake shop on Primrose Hill in London; the others were recently brought back to me from Belgium by my darling best friend.)

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

I used lowfat strawberry yoghurt instead of oil (a splash of oil to top off the measuring cup) and you'd never have known it. Trying to recall where I got the frosting recipe, because it was amazingly good and perfect consistency. Thinking, thinking. It's after midnight. This will have to wait.


Second, carrot cake. Oh lordy this was so good, and also relatively un-eevil. I'd never made carrot cake before, but oh, I will again. And probably pretty soon. Oh, bad photo, you make me sad. This cake was so cute I kept opening the refrigerator to look at it. Those meringues are from Trader Joe's.


  • 6 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and the walnuts. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.

I heeded these two notations in comments:

Before I decided to try this cake I read every single review, paying careful attention to those who did not like the cake very much. Though the overwhelming majority, of which I am now a part, liked this cake very much I understand that you learn a lot more about something by learning what people did not like about it. So, after having made the cake I have a few suggestions for those who didn’t like the cake. Most of the complaints where that the cake was too heavy or that it was too moist or “pudding like” A solution to this might be to strain the carrots and pineapple more before adding them in to the cake batter. I know the recipe doesn’t specify but I strained the carrots and the pineapple until they where almost dry and added about 2 – 3 tablespoons of the strained liquid back in. I also hydrated the raisins a bit by letting them sit in a cup of warm water while the carrots sat in the brown sugar. Also I made 3 - 8” rounds instead of the recommended 2 - 10” rounds. This will shorten the bake time to about 30 -45 mins. and may also help solve any underdone cake problems… I thought this cake was very good and well worth the effort. Everyone I have served this to has loved this and I certainly plan on making it again.


2009 edit: Use cheesecloth to strain the carrots! Wrap 1/3 the carrots in a cheesecloth pouch, twist it shut and squeeze. I've finally figured out how to make this moist without sogginess. My family loves carrot cake so I’ve made this recipe many times since I first found it. First, do what you can the night before and store ingredients in ziplock bags/tupperware. Grate the carrots, strain the pineapple, sift the dry ingredients, etc. The only things I added: 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves, added 1.5x the vanilla and cinnamon, ½ tsp baking POWDER, and the zest of one lemon. I nuked the raisins in equal parts of the drained pineapple juices and rum. The raisins absorbed most of the liquids and were really plump and delicious. Save a few tablespoons to add to the cake. I didn’t want to risk a dry cake so I compromised. I drained the carrots BEFORE I added the brown sugar. After the carrots sit for an hour, there will still be some liquid; add all of it. My cake ended up moist, flavorful, and TALL. Don't over-mix or let your cake sit too long. Baking soda reacts immediately so if you over-mix or leave it around, the gas will escape and your cake will be flat. Use the good pans. Line the bottom of your layer pans with wax paper or parchment paper. Better safe than sorry! To make a bundt, bake at 325 for 75-90 minutes. Use a cream cheese glaze: beat 4oz cream cheese with 2tsp vanilla and 2c powdered sugar. And 1-2tbsp milk/rum to get spreading consistency.

Also, I like tall cakes, so I used three 9-in pans for three thinner layers (baked about 32 minutes), which provided more area for frosting, which is totally the best part of carrot cake, right? For frosting, I used this recipe, but increased it to 3 packages (lowfat) crm chs, 3/4 cup of butter, 3 cups sugar, healthy splash of vanilla:

  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Such. A good. Cake.

That'll be it for cakes for a while.

But as for pie, you know, every day around here is Pie day :-)

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