Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Few More Days

*gasp gasp type type fret fret*

Oh man.

See you in a few days. Possibly.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Manic End-Is-Nigh Energy!

Hee hee hee. Clementine's sandwich today. 

When I posted this on Twitter it was suggested that I might be procrastinating but it isn't so! I had gotten home from writing at the cafe, high on a 2200-word morning, and Clementine was still napping. So I cleaned the kitchen and made lunch. Including the above. 

Our friend Chary arrived to hang out with C for the afternoon, and they made SOUP so halleluja there was dinner taken care of, and I wrote another 800 or so words, of which two selected at random are: neuter and apocalypse. Then dinner, then hide-n-seek, during which Jim took the art of the "bad hide" to new highs, then teeth-brushing (Clementine wanted to brush her teeth like "three nice monster sisters"), then bed which involved finishing reading OUR FIRST CHAPTER BOOK. It was Clementine and was Clementine's choice. We didn't expect her to want to keep at it but she loved it and we read several chapters a night and, you guys, she's 2-1/2! Holy attention span!

I'm on such a weird end-is-nigh HIGH right now. I love writing endings. Maybe because I spend so god-awfully long on beginnings, and also middles, and take so much time setting everything up and thinking everything through, my endings (*knock wood* SO FAR) have this momentum that makes them sort of roll downhill gathering speed, three 3000-word days in a row and no anguish or despair in sight. I feel wonderful! 

Or, I WILL feel wonderful once I write this New York Times book review that is due on the same day as MY BOOK. Ha ha! When I got asked to do it, it was sooo exciting, but the timing was so bad I actually wrote a "thank you so much but I can't" response but I could not make myself hit send. It's the New York Times! And it's a book I wanted to read anyway! So. I am going to try to pour some of my manic end-of-book energy into the writing of this book review. I am also going to pour some coffee into it. 

How was your day?


Monday, April 23, 2012

Dispatch from the Deadline!

Hi world! Above, presented by little friend, the days remaining in April to finish writing Days of Blood & Starlight, with two May days (mayday!) graciously provided by Alvina who will not begin editing until then. This is one of my tracking devices. I also have a print out of the sections remaining to be written, each assigned a day, with some grace days and a few days at the end for tightening before sending it off.

Right now I am in REALLY good spirits about the whole thing because the last few days have been great. Two 3000-word days in a row (a VAST LOT for me!) and the realization AT LAST of the scene that was the A-HA! moment for the whole book, way back when it was first germinating in my brain well over a year ago. And yesterday I was so ahead of my schedule I was able to take Clementine on secret errands for Jim's birthday and then go to bed at 10. Like, three hours earlier than usual.

Maybe I should have used the time to get ahead, but I don't like starting new scenes at night with muzzy brain. Also, Clementine was showing signs of a cough coming, so I thought I might need the sleep. Bless her, she slept the WHOLE NIGHT. Kiss kiss.

So, today back to the work schedule, another big scene to tackle. Here's been my plan of attack to try to avoid my usual pitfalls (of writing too slowly, working at a kind of sentence-level that should be reserved for revisions):

APRIL 23 (for example)
beginning word count: 
final word count: 
goat met? 

1st: write a plan for the day’s writing; get my mind around it.
2nd: write a 15-minute zero draft of the entire thing; don’t read, just highlight interesting things
3rd: get to work. Write the scene for real.

To tell the truth, I haven't been seeing (2) through because what's been happening is I start the zero draft thing then find my way into (3) and just go with it. Usually the zero draft (so rough it doesn't even get to be called a first draft) is an unsticking mechanisms, for idea generation, but if I don't need it I don't do it. Because it is no fun to write such unrewarding mess!

Okay. To the scene at hand, then. Here's me on the walk to the cafe this morning. Tall:

Portland thinks it's summer, but don't be fooled. It's a trick of spring meant to break our hearts when the rain returns. As it will.

Happy day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Drop-Dead Date

This is it. The moment I have been living in terror of for weeks. Months. My final-final-finalest deadline. The deadline that I cannot miss. The ninth-life deadline. What is known charmingly in publishing as ... 


That feels about right :-)

For the record, I have never tempted a drop-dead date before. I've never tortured an editor to this degree, or cut things so close, or ever had to know the term before. But this book is intricate and it is also biggish. (And still getting biggerish.) And it did not yield itself up to me on the first try or the seventeenth try. It was coy. It made me work for it. It made me do a lot of thinking, and a lot lot lot of putting myself in characters' shoes and asking, "What would I do here? What would I feel? What would I REALLY DO?" 

Did you ever see Stranger Than Fiction? I sometimes envision Emma Thompson standing at the edge of the building with her eyes closed, imagining jumping off -- she was trying to know what her character would really feel and do, and though I don't tend to get out of my chair or come near any edges of buildings (or in my case pick up any swords or trays of teeth), I *do* close my eyes and imagine. And I know too that I get a lot of weird expressions while I write, my face often mirroring the expressions of my characters, which is the worst part about writing in a cafe (that and all the delicious buttery smells of Things That Must Not Be Eaten). 

Anyway, the day approaches, and I am reduced to giggling hysteria. It's just so FUNNY that I really and truly must finish this book at last! When I look at what I've gotten written in the past couple of months, it's a lovely fat lot of writing, and I love this book, I love it so much, and finishing it will be the BEST. And there will be time for editing and revising after that, plenty of time for all the lovely futzing and perfecting that I adore, but this draft must go to my editors or I will DROP DEAD -- at least, I *think* that is what they mean by "drop-dead" date. Right, lovely editors? Impending doom? 

Well, whether I am literally going to drop dead or not, I'm not exactly relishing the next couple of weeks. (But I kind of am, too. The things one can do when one simple MUST? It's exciting!)

I'm spending tonight mainly in planning and mental preparation. I've put my IKEA Dignitet wires back to use. I think I mentioned this before, but maybe didn't show a pic?

That's the entire manuscript clipped up there for me to see. Some months ago I got to feeling like I couldn't hold the structure in my mind, I needed a visual aid, it was this nagging need in the back of my brain all the time, so this is what I did: hung these wires, printed out the manuscript, and hung it up chapter by chapter so I could see it all before me. It helped. When I got through that patch I didn't really need them anymore so I stopped using them until this week, I got that feeling again, that need to see it all before me, to better hold it in my mind. And it's so satisfying to see it! And I can put post-its up where I want to add a scene or switch the order around. And the best thing is I can print and hang each new chapter as it is finished. Alas, I'm already out of wire space. I'll need to squeeeeeeze those last few chapters in.

Anyway. If you wonder where I am in the next couple of weeks, I am there, in the above photo, hanging chapters up on a wire. 

And now, back to my mental preparation. Or maybe a shower? :-)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vote!? Thanks!

Hey guys! Look, a cool icon from my lovely publishers for the Children's Choice Book Award, for which Daughter of Smoke and Bone is nominated for Teen Book of the Year! Have you voted? Please vote before May 3. Thank you so much!

(However cool and flashy that looks, the image link isn't working, so click HERE :-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two New Covers!

First, from marvelous British publishers Hodder & Stoughton,
the UK paperback of Daughter of Smoke & Bone!

Very different from the hardcover, and just as beautiful and classic. 


It's not totally final; there will be some minor tweaks, but has posted it already, so I thought I would too! It will be out in August. (US paperback out in June.)

And now, the Italian cover, from Fazi Editore:

Lovely, no? Love Karou's tattoo! And the title: The Chimaera of Prague. Cool. 

Okay, back to work. So fun to show these! YAY! 

Oh, did I tell you? Four new foreign editions have sold: Vietnam, Estonia, Bulgaria, and Portugal.


That makes 30, and the thrill is HUGE. 


Monday, April 9, 2012

Invocation -- Ze Frank

No preamble. Just this. You must watch it.

Are you fired up? WOW.

My favorite lines:

"Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes, but he’s a little bit of an a**hole, and no one invites him to their pool party."

"There’s no reason to sharpen my pencils anymore. My pencils are sharp enough."

"And god, let me enjoy this!"

That's Ze Frank, who performed a daily web show called the show with zefrank for exactly one year from 2006-07. For a while back then, Jim and I watched him obsessively. Here is a favorite episode (it's about Scrabble.) Then I don't know, I kinda forgot about him (sorry, Zefrank!) until Jim sent me this link about ten minutes ago and MUST BLOG NOW started flashing in my brain. 

So here you go. Here are the archives of the show with zefrank; he has begun a NEW show, YAY! which can be found HERE


P.S. Hope you had a lovely weekend, and a lovely Easter if you celebrate Easter. I thought I might put up some Easter pics but this is quicker and more inspiring. Now, back to writing. You guys. I wrote a BIG SCENE today, lots of words, so exciting, and I got two IDEAS that I did not have before for the climax. 


Oh, but wait. Two wonderful things discovered on Ze Frank's site. First, the Tutu Project, a beautiful, poignant fundraiser for breastcancer. Read more about it here; here's a peek, photos of/by Bob Carey. I find them very moving! 

So great!

And then this:

Hm. Cool pattern in the snow. How did that get there? 

Oh, it's really BIG. Now I'm intrigued.

Footprints? What do you mean footprints?

This guy, Simon Beck, makes these incredible artworks by walking on snow.

I've walked on snow, and it never looked like that.

I love artists. Man, the things people do.

Yay, people! More of that, less of the mean stuff, please :-)

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Oh my god. You guys. Look.

Favorite line? "I didn't mean to be a children's author. It was a horrible accident."

Love you, Simon Pegg :-)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bunnies Gone Wrong

Did you even know that this was a thing? Inadvertently creepy Easter bunny photo ops? I had no idea, no idea AT ALL of the very many ways that a bunny can go horribly wrong. Behold.

But at least the little girl is happy!

This girl says: What the--???

Get back here!

I think this kid is really a ventriloquist dummy.

Just ... weird. Space alien bunny vibe.

More inexplicable bunny evil

Weird resemblance here, no? Picture the baby with a mustache.

Oh geez. I just don't know what to say.

Again though, happy enough kids, considering.
Or maybe the boy is thinking, "One day, I'll get you for this."

Look at my carrot! My carrot! Look at my carrot!

Childhood trauma.

But there is one of these pictures that really stands out. 
You may have seen it before.
Is it a hoax? I don't know. 
It defies belief that someone could have created this costume for anything but TERROR.















Someone rescue that little boy this INSTANT.
Bad parents! BAD!

I hope you have enjoyed this little episode of Bunnies Gone Wrong. It's the tip of the iceberg.
There is a world of bunny wrongness out there.

People. *shakes head*

Monday, April 2, 2012

Portland With Kids part I: Grilled Cheese & Books!


What could be better than A REALLY GOOD GRILLED CHEESE?

I'm glad you asked. 


Welcome to The Grilled Cheese Grill on Northeast Alberta St. (at 10th) in Portland Oregon.
(there's another location in a double-decker bus!)

I thought I'd start a little occasional series on all the awesome things there are to do with kids in this wonderful city, starting with something less obvious than a museum or a kid's concert. Sometimes you just want to get out of the house for a little while, you know? Try Alberta, for a grilled cheese followed by kids books!

But wait. It gets better. The tables are all old school pictures, and ceiling is a huge mural.

Yeah, it's a little creepy. Creepy-awesome. (by Eatcho & Jason Graham).

You know what was really fun at the bus? When we ordered, I put in Clementine's name, and then I started to notice that all the songs playing had "Clementine" in them. They did that! A phone app. It was the coolest.

And did I mention books? 

Just a few blocks away on NE Alberta at 16th: tiny, adorable Green Bean Books!

Let it be said that I love all bookstores. But I love independent bookstores most. And Greenbean is a perfect example -- it is such a labor of love, so many delightful unique surprises. That yeti in the window above? Handmade by the owner, Jennifer. (I want it.) And look how cozy:

And there are secret boxes, also made by the owner. I wonder what's in here ...

I'll just open that up ...

Tableaux, always changing. Another box:

Did I mention the repurposed vending machines? This former cigarette machine now contains critters ...

Need a mustache?

Or maybe you'd like a baby. The Miraculous Baby Machine!

There's an original Carson Ellis picture on the wall. 

There are green beans.

And I have kind of a fixation for these tiny teddy bear breakfast food collectibles.

Tiny teddy bear-shaped pancakes and flans! GAH!

Not well-represented in these photos is how truly wonderful their book selection is. My bad.

Anyway, there you have a couple of hours of fun with munchkins in Portland, Oregon. Also, Grasshopper is right down the street at 18th Ave, a great toystore that carries tons of EEBOO stuff (LOVE) and its own line of handmade kids dresses and stuff. And nextdoor to THAT? Pastries abound at Le Petite Provence. Or there's always honey-balsamic-strawberry-with-cracked-pepper ice cream at Salt & Straw at 20th Ave. Or, dear god, pear with blue cheese. 

Go play!

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