Wednesday, October 31, 2012


... and ...

Five days till

awesome hamsa seal my sister had made for me for my birthday last year!

Hey! I've seen some great Karou Halloween costumes, and I've seen some cool hamsa drawings, and I thought it would be awesome to do a collage of hamsa hand photos. If you've already got a picture, or feel like doodling on yourself with some ink, send me yours! An indigo eye drawn in the center of your palm, however you want to draw it. I'll do one too.

Thank you!

Also, today I wanted to show you some amazing fan art from a high school student here in Portland, Oregon. It is seriously so good. I am blown away by it. Thank you, Lillian Coulombe, and I hope you are planning art as your career!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


~intermission from my countdown posts~

I think today, while a giant swath of our country copes with the storm aftermath, is a good day to announce loudly that:

(a lot)

I don't get the whole "shrink the government till it's small enough to drown it in a bath tub" sentiment. Really? Drown our cities, more like, on a day like today.


Where would we be without taxes?

Some of my favorite governmenty/taxy things: 

  • clean water out of the tap (yum!)
  • 911 response (thank god)
  • libraries (yes please)
  • low-interest federal student loans (still paying them off)
  • postal delivery (reliable! affordable!)
  • roads and bridges (duh)
  • federal disaster relief (TODAY)
  • sewage treatment (sexy!)
  • National Parks! (visionary)
Yay for all of those amazing things and so many more! Yay for civilization and people caring for each other! Yay for legislated compassion to balance out greed! Yay for leaders who aren't just trying to enrich their cronies, but to make life better for everyone!

I've never been very political. The first election I was of age to vote was Clinton's first presidency, and though I had grown up in a Republican household and even worked for the Republican party in high school, I am very proud that I voted for Clinton. And by the way, both of my parents, including my father, a longtime Republican and retired career Naval officer, are now extremely liberal, extremely well-informed, and extremely pro-Obama. The Bush years changed them, and they changed me and Jim too--not from Republicans to Democrats--we had voted for Gore--but from mildly disinterested to engaged citizens. I will never forget the stun of that election and its aftermath. It was an awakening. From the first grueling months of thinking, foolishly, that it couldn't stand, through to mobilizing for the next election, to the much greater demoralization when it happened again, we paid attention. 

And one of the things I do not understand is the vision of these people who want to Cut Everything. Who want to "drown the government in a bathtub," and end taxes. 


*baffle baffle baffle*

Because when I picture it -- a United States without government programs or tax spending -- I see disease and despair and poverty and collapse. I see hopelessness and joblessness and crime, the rich having to wall their compounds while everyone else scrambles to get by, no emergency rooms or ambulances, no public schools or parks, no police? Kind of post-Apocalyptic. And I know we like post-Apocalyptic books, guys, but we don't really want to live it.

On a day like today, when so many of our friends and family members and fellow citizens are helpless in the aftermath of a disaster, with an election scheduled for next week (what will we do??? Can it go on?) and one candidate who has long said he would do away with FEMA and make states cope on their own ... 

Who should be president? I think it's pretty clear.

Watch this, it's great:

Tell me: 
what's your favorite thing that government does for us?

Monday, October 29, 2012


Seven days till

(preorder here or here or here)

A little glimpse of my collection of resurrectionist's paraphernalia ...

Teeth, bone, incense, beads, candles, and more. A significant piece of equipment in missing though. I'll have to have some vises made next time I'm in Marrakesh :-) Ah, pain tithe. 

Speaking of vises, love this review from UK's Daily Mail: 

‘Plunges us into a world of beauty and horror… intricately plotted… it’s a book that flies between worlds on blood-tipped wings and grips like a magical vice.’



Saturday, October 27, 2012


Nine days till

(preorder here or here or here)

There's the first page.*

MEANWHILE. Have you seen Cloud Atlas??!!??!!

Jim and I saw it this evening, and oh my! It was fabulous! I just rewatched this extended trailer and it gave me chills and goose bumps all over again. Go and see it. Tomorrow. It is stunning, moving, exciting, heartbreaking, thrilling. Man, I love it when movies exercise the full power of the medium. And oh, bonus, there are a ton of good trailers, including The Hobbit, Les Mis, Gangster Squad, and The Impossible. So many movies! So many books! Aghhh! How to keep up with all the awesome!?!

*Want the first seven chapters? Available here if you want.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Ten days till 

(preorder here or here or here)

(You guys, I really want a countdown widget to pub day with the DAYS cover image on it, but the few sites I've tried have glitched as early as the account-setting up stage and I AM INCAPABLE OF BASIC COMPUTER THINGIES APPARENTLY. Tell you what, if you make me one, like, right now, I'll send you a book! Anyone?)

[update: YAY! Thank you so much to @frootjoos for making me the lovely lovely widget. It is there for the grabbing now. Please take it and use it and spread it around. :-)]

So, where was I? Oh yeah. TEN DAYS! I think I shall have something fun to post here for every day, leading up to -- as soon as Powers That Be give me the go-ahead -- some fun announcements! So check back.

There will be snacks.

Please do have a cucumber sandwich.

So. Fun Thing o' the Day:

Hold up. I'm still reveling in this company:

Oh my goodness! 

*Happy Laini sigh.* It's almost like I'm standing next to Barbara Kingsolver ... No. Nevermind. By that logic, I'd also be hovering over Michael Connelly's head, and I don't think he'd appreciate that. Let's just keep it virtual. 

THIS IS SO GREAT! Sony Readers is launching a book club, wherein they will select 25 applicants to chat online with the author and fellow book clubbers each month. Meaning, to chat with ME and BARBARA KINGSOLVER and MICHAEL CONNELLY and MOLLY RINGWALD! AND you will also win an all-inclusive trip to Los Angeles for a book event with Michael Connelly!!! How fantastic is this? I am so so so thrilled that my book (DAUGHTER, not DAYS) is the inaugural book of this super awesome club. Thank you, Sony!!!

To apply, click HERE and check it all out. 
Apply and come join me in the book club! 

And now, for some random Halloween fun:

The mantle. Gives the impression we have done a lot of decorating, but this is mostly it. A witch here, a pumpkin ghost there, a quick arrangment of gourds on the dining room table. Sigh. Blogs and Pinterest do make one feel inadequate, like there is this lovely life being had by others, people with time to build tablescapes and such like.

But this mantle was fun. The bat garland was the work of about 15 minutes this afternoon, when the sitter called at the last minute with a cat emergency and I had to shift from work mode to Clementine-entertaining mode. Like: oh darn. (YAY!) More Pie, plus a craft opportunity! I googled 'bat garland,' and lo. Here was this, printable template and all. Couldn't be easier, and it looks so cute!

As for the little pumpkin bats, those are: mini pumpkins + black paint + googly eyes + black paper cut-out wings. Easy and fun. Clementine loved the googly eye placement. If you have small children and you do not have googly eyes on hand, get some. In the words of Crafty Chloe, "googly eyes make anything less boring."

It was around 3 or 4 p.m. that it dawned on me that Clementine was still wearing her pajamas and had not been out of the house all day. (This is not usual.) *shrug* We did puzzles and the Twelve Dancing Princesses matching game, and then, I thought I'd see about making some pom-poms. I recently added several sizes of pom-pom makers onto an Amazon order, with visions of pom-pom Christmas crafts in our near future, and they had arrived, so. And guess what? A huge hit! It turns out pom-pom makers are totally three-year-old-friendly. Yay! Clementine kept emphatically announcing, "This is fun!" and "I love this!" which was awesome.

We made all sizes of pom-poms, and then Jim came down from the studio and we had soup for dinner, and carved our pumpkins. It was a lovely day, and when bedtime finally rolled around, Clementine was still in her pajamas, ha ha! 

Happy weekend, all!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Eleven days till

(preorder here or here or here)

Yowza! I am so excited!!! 

So soon! I have some cool announcements and antics planned for the next week and a half, but for now, I thought I would mention Book 3, which as of yet has no name, and which I am working away on. Want to see my notebook?

Ever since I got serious about writing novels, I have been doing these notebooks, always hardcover Clairefontaine journals from France, and I like to collage the covers to sort of christen/dedicate them. 

Anyway, with much chaos last year, I never fully dedicated a notebook for DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT or did a cover, but as I got into the nitty gritty of planning out Book 3, I really felt the need for one, both for inspiration and organization. They somehow work as a sanity-holder during the early planning phases. I have lots of computer notes, but I can never find anything in those when I need to. The notebooks are tangible and flippable, they're sort of my permanent reminder of the process of writing a book, and my go-to for logging ideas as they come to me, and so much else. Lists of possible character or place names, notes on various things I look up, like mythology or science. Scene ideas. Etc.

Here is the stack of oldies behind my desk chair, in easy reach. (I leaf through them from time to time. There's stuff in these I'll likely be referring back to for the rest of my life.)

And here's the new one, nevermind where it says "tequila". I'll probably paint over that at some point. The book has nothing to do with tequila. Hm. So far ...

Main image from a postcard by Dave McKean, top image from a wine label. Hm. Tequila and wine? What is going on here??

By the way, one of the first things I think about, when I'm starting a book, is what I want the prevailing FEELING of the book to be. I write about that to myself (in these notebooks), trying to formulate the general atmosphere of the story, the way (you may imagine, even if you haven't read it yet) DAYS is more grim than DAUGHTER, for example. So far, descriptions of the feeling I'm striving for in Book 3 include ... "rich, juicy, delicious" and "asskickery". Ha! Also: "Like a thriller, battle of wits, deception, layers, intrigues" and ... I like this one: "power anthem". 

Oh. And, you guys ...










Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A quote for readers

"Fantasy is, at its best, the purest access to storytelling that we have. It universalizes a tale, it evokes wonder and timeless narrative power, it touches upon inner journeys, it illuminates our collective and individual pasts, throws a focus beam on the present day, and presages the dangers and promises of the future."
-Guy Gavriel Kay 

That is all for today. Have a lovely one!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Autumn Sky

Below, the exact same stretch of sky over three days this past weekend:
(click first image for large slideshow, use arrows)

It's a few miles south of Newport, Oregon. My whole family rented a beachhouse for the weekend to celebrate my dad's birthday. (Happy birthday, Papa!) My sister and aunt were up from California, my brother and niece down from Washington. And also two dogs. It was wonderful. And man, fall and winter may not be the most popular times to go to the beach, but the skies are so much crazier than in summer. How much do I love having an epic ocean view? It just makes my heart pound. 

We met not a single person on the beach in three days. It was just us. Here's the view from our private bluff:

We look bundled up, and rain was pretty unpredictable, but it wasn't that cold. Around 50 degrees.

I love in this next picture how you can clearly seen the rain out at sea: those misty columns to the right? Rain. You could watch as they came nearer and nearer, sweeping in from the horizon to rain on you before moving along.

Sigh. I love the beach. 

It's like I can feel my spirit growing and stretching while I stand on those vast stretches of shore.


Look at this Instagram my sister took:

photo credit Emily Taylor

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Puy du Fou

France, Day 3

Have you ever heard of Puy du Fou? No? Well, I hadn't either. A chance mention of it in the Chateau de Brissac website that led to the discovery and my mind kind of fell open. Seriously? There is this, and it is a secret known only to France? 

You guys, a theme park without rides, it is all about thrilling historical shows. Jousting and chariots and musketeers and Viking ships and fire and spiraling birds and magic shows and dancing lights and theme villages and several thousand actors and WOW! Totally fabulous family entertainment.

Here are some of the shows. Click links to individual videos for a better idea.

The Secret of the Lance -- (Medieval) When the knights go off to liberate Orleans from the English, a young girl named Marguerite is left behind, and finds herself defending her home. Luckily, that kick-ass lady knight "Jeanne" gave her a blessed lance ... (Watch.)

The Vikings -- Vikings attack a peaceful fort; one ship glides down a hill into the lagoon, another rises from beneath the water, fearsome Vikings standing on its decks even as it emerges, streaming water. (This was crazy.) Mayhem ensues. View here.

But one of many cool things, throughout the day, overhead, was this contraption, spiraling around with its goose retinue:

The Ball of the Phantom Birds -- Sleeping Beauty awakes from her long sleep (alone, no kissy princy) to find her castle in ruins. "Where are my birds?" she asks. And her birds come out to find her. Oh, do they ever. You guys. The Academy of Falconry of France sponsors this show. Over 400 birds. Multiple bald eagles in flight at once, giant African vultures, maribous, swans, egrets, storks. A giant hot air balloon goes way high up and Peregrines are launched from it to dive-dive-dive and catch. They appear as a speck and dive so freaking fast. Oh wow wow wow. This show is jaw-dropping. The pictures really can't capture it. See here.

We saw the Musketeers show too, which had some really cool stuff in it but was very talky (all the shows are in French only) and very hard to understand. We missed the biggest of all, which is a Roman Amphitheater show with lions and tigers and chariots and gladiators (wow!) They also have a gigantic nighttime spectacle -- the biggest in the world, with 1200 actors (!!) -- that we passed on, having to drive that night. We were sorry to miss the smaller nighttime show, The Organs of Fire, which looks so very beautiful but wasn't on that night.

Really, really amazing. We will return with more time. And when we do, we will stay here, at Clovis Island, their Merovingian thatched stilt houses on the water.

Puy du Fou is out in the region of Nantes and Angers, toward the Atlantic coast of France, but the website says it's only an hour + 30 minutes TGV train from Paris, plus a shuttle bus. We drove, of course, and if you're thinking about going to France, especially if you're traveling with kids, I can tell you there are a million things to do with kids in this region! We will sooooo be back. Oh, France. Why so far away?

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