Friday, January 31, 2014


At last! At last! This feels like the final piece of the puzzle. 


Isn't it gorgeous? Thank you, Hodder & Stoughton, for always coming up with such beauty! And there's more. Such fun! The secret signings I've been referring to? Here they are. Well, the first wave of them, anyway:

3000 signed title pages! 3000 might not look like so many, sitting there all innocent like that, but they took a while to sign. But it was a good while! It was just what my poor fried brain needed, in fact: a mindless activity that I could do while catching up on some movie watching. It was some kind of luxury. I watched a French movie, a German movie (reading subtitles while signing!), some episodes of some shows, a Bette Davis movie, a bad dance movie (but set in London, so bonus), Stuck in Love (which was cute and is about writers so bonus that too), and I don't even know what else. It was a fugue. 

So. These signed titled pages also have an illustration of Karou by me. It looks like this: 

These are currently en route back to the UK where they will be bound into 3000 copies of DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS. The first 3000 pre-orders of the UK edition of DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS will get this limited edition. Fun! After that, it will be just a normal title page, so pre-order now to get one of these!

"Our hands are our enemies even if we aren't." 

A quote from DREAMS. First sneak peek :-)

(For those of you in the US and Canada, there will be some special editions available here too. I'll show you what those are in a couple of weeks!)

Oh, and look what came today! The US paperback of DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT! 

It'll be out February 25th, and it has some chapters of DREAMS in it.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Journals, Travel, and the Great Daughter of Smoke & Bone Re-Read!

I found the most gorgeous journal yesterday at favorite store Cargo! Look, it's so beautiful.

It makes me want to travel and write, which in any case are my two burning desires this year. To write while traveling, travel while writing. With Jim and Clementine. In faraway lands. 

Dream dream.

It's mostly lined journal pages...

...but there are sections of moveable paper art throughout:

It's by fashion designer Christian Lacroix of all people.


This dude's coat opens to show a ribcage full of birds and flowers. (see 1st pic) Neat!

I've been wanting to do some journaling. At the end of a big project I feel this huge sense of possibility and also this sense of flopping around like a fish in the bottom of a rowboat. (Speaking of fish, at Cargo I also found the funniest kitschy wind-up, light-up fish toy that will drive my parents' cats wild.)

It's funny to me that I still haven't been able to settle down and process the finishedness and the new year that lies ahead. Seeing this journal, I grabbed it like it was a solution. Yes! This will help! I can write all the things in here! All the stories jostling for position can clear their throats and audition. All the travel destinations waving signal flags trying to get my attention, they can present their pitches. And all the other stuff in the looming wondrous year ahead. I can start to sort it out. Make plans. I like plans. Especially when they involve travel and new book ideas! (And chocolate.)

Say, have you heard about:

Sign up and either read or re-read it with us! It's just started! This week we're reading Chpts 1-14. Get on board. We'll have an online chat at the end (some time right around Valentine's Day) and I'll answer questions and stuff. I hope you'll join us and get ready for DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS on April 8th!

Remember this? Way back at the beginning, this is how it all started ...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Oh hello 2014

It's January 22nd, and I'm finally sitting down with the intent to think about 2014 and be all thoughtful and centered and what happens? I get hiccups. Try being thoughtful and centered when you have hiccups. 


Oh man, I love a new year. And this year feels especially sparkly and new, since finishing Dreams of Gods & Monsters wasn't just finishing a book, but a trilogy that has been my writing life since 2009. And it's done. That story is told. I keep waiting for -- hic! -- a sense of profound contentment to set in, but I'm feeling scattered and off-balance. Jim and I are both experiencing this altered sense of time, like: you're either working ALL THE TIME or not at all. 

Like, when I was hurtling toward the deadline, life became very simple: I wrote, spent some time with Jim and Clementine, then wrote some more. Nothing else. Sometimes I went on retreat and skipped the family time, and that was sad but productive. During this time of hyper-intense focus, I daydreamed of normal life. I would actually fantasize about being able to spend the morning cleaning the house! There were more rewarding fantasies too, like beach holidays and dinner parties, but even the humdrum and hassle of normal life was appealing. 

Now that I'm done with the book, and even the copyediting and proofs are behind me (it's going to be an actual book soon!!!) I can do those normal things! Mysteriously, I'm no longer so keen to clean the house! And I am doing them. Breakfast with friends. Dates with Jim. Crafts with Clementine. Family days. Straightening up the office. Back on the treadmill. Planning and cooking healthy meals. And it's great! But it feels impossible to fit even a small amount of WORK into it! Like it's either all one or all the other. 

This too will pass. Everything is phases. This year will be different from last year. There will be a lot more travel, both for fun and for book promotion. That will make it even harder to wedge work hours in. Exciting but scary. It will, no doubt, pass far too quickly. I feel like I need to grab onto it. Like I'm waiting at the side of the road for something to race past and I'm supposed to jump on. Like, to a speeding train or a rampaging dragon. Or else I'll just be breathing dust and sulfur in its wake, and the year will be OVER. That minor sense of desperation. 

I have this half-formed idea haunting me lately that the internet gives us weird expectations of life. (I know, categorize this idea under D for Duh.) Pinterest, blogs. It's like: beautiful, organized people are flaunting their ... lack of flailing ... in our faces. 

Look at my beautiful home and my artfully presented meal. And now I'm going to show you how perfectly I pack for a weekend getaway to our second home on a Swedish island, built with timber we milled with our own hands. (Scandinavians, I'm looking at you, with your beautiful homes and smiling faces! :-) After I arrange the library by color. 

I know, I'm totally guilty of doing this! (well, the library thing, not the milling timber or island home thing.) I'm infected with these urges! I want an effortless beautiful life too! But life RESISTS. There's real life and there's "Pinterest life", and of course we all KNOW that "Pinterest life" is a lie, that those people's houses don't always look like that, and that they come home from work tired too, and have to actually spend time achieving those organized closets, etc. But knowing this is fantasy doesn't diminish the desire to achieve it. Like, I know there are no dragons, but I still want one. I know there is no perfect, rich, organized, effortless life, but I still want it. Damn you, internet! 

Do you know what "sprezzatura" is? I learned this in a Renaissance lit class and it made a big impression on me. It's the term that expressed the appearance of effortlessness that courtiers and courtesans strove to achieve. Effort was gauche. Everything had to seem come to one with ease and elegance. You might stay up nights composing sonnets and memorizing them, so that you could pretend to come up with them at the spur of the moment the next day. (Those courtiers must have been tired!!) So, lifestyle blogs and Pinterest are 21st Century sprezzatura. People never change, right? 

Like I said, these thoughts are half-formed, because even as I shake my fist at these smug blog folk, I think that striving to achieve beauty and order in our lives and environments is a worthwhile pursuit, creatively, for pride and enjoyment, if not quite for peace of mind. What am I saying? I don't know. The usual refrain of: THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME! I want three hundred years of hundred-hour days. Is that so much to ask? 

So what about the 11 months remaining of 2014, 24-hour days, the roughly 8,200 hours that remain of this year? Focus, Laini. (My hiccups are gone, by the way; I can't use them as an excuse anymore.) I just don't know. I know that there are groceries to put away. After that, maybe I'll have time to ponder!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What we're reading around here...

That's my mom's cat Fia, or Fifi, or Feefs, short for Fiammetta, who was the muse of Boccaccio. (My mom's other cats are Dante and Beatrice, and none of them have tails.) Anyway, that little stack of pages she's sitting on are the page proofs for DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS. Whew. Which I have to read yet again. It's always hard at this point to do all these re-readings in short order. My brain wants to switch off.

Below, this larger stack is a suitably brainless activity that's allowing me some movie watching time while I sign secret pages, heh heh heh, about which I shall tell you at a later date. These are the first 1500 of 3000. There are 8000 of another thing, and then an additional 1500 of yet another thing to sign. That's a lot of movie-watching, for which my tired brain says thank you. As for my hand, it doesn't mind at all. I love signing books. Could do it all day :-)

Well, I still haven't managed to think any New Year's thoughts. I have, however, started exercising and also eating better, a big component of which is planning and cooking more, and being more centered in this world versus Eretz :-) Maybe there will still be thinking and pondering and new-yearing. Maybe not. Right now, I mostly just wanted to show you some of the kids books we're reading around here.

This one is a hoot. BEAR DESPAIR by Gaetan Doremus.

We chuckle our butts off every time we read it. Well, "read" it, as it's wordless. 

See, Bear is having a nap with his teddy when Wolf comes along and snitches it!

Other animals get involved. 

Let's just say: one shouldn't snitch teddies. There are consequences.

It resolves well, unlike I Want My Hat Back, which I found vaguely troubling. Anyway, we love this book. Something in the characterization is hysterical to me.

We found it at Green Bean Books. I'm not sure if they ship. 
Orderable here.

Same day, we found HERMAN AND ROSIE by Gus Gordon. Love.

Herman and Rosie live in neighboring buildings in Manhattan. They don't know each other. 
But they obviously should.

With a shared love of music and Jacques Cousteau movies, they're clearly soul mates. 
Watch their paths wind and eventually cross. So sweet and satisfying.

It's wonderfully New Yorky.

We also find great books at Cosmic Monkey comics, the best comic book store anywhere. More and more they've got a great selection for kids, which is awesome. 

Here's THE STONE FROG by David Nytra.

It's published by Toon-Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press, that does four reading levels, from early learners to competent readers. And the books are fabulous. The Stone Frog is the highest reading level, which is still an "easy to read" comic, and not very text-heavy. I really really love their art and design sensibility, and of the books we've read so far, the content is perfect for young children, not too scary or edgy, as is a risk with crossing over into graphic novels that tend to be for slightly older kids.

Brother and sister Leah and Alan awaken in an enchanted forest. Their adventures follow. The art is exquisite. Clementine declares it "the best white and black book she's ever had."

Here's an explanation of the reading levels:

We have a few others, including this level two:

Check out their catalogue here
We love The Big Wet Balloon, and don't those two new titles look awesome?

So that's it for today.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Portland, early 2014

The book is done.





I don't even know what to say. It's a new year and the book is done. And copyedits are done.


I'm still processing, so until I figure out what to say about it, here are some Portland pictures! Jim and Clementine and I have been relishing our kicking-around time, slowly easing back into normal non-deadline life. It's delightful. We've hung around a couple of our favorite Portland neighborhoods: Sellwood, which is in far southeast Portland on the river, known for antiques stores and the little Oaks Amusement Park. One of our favorite restaurants, Jade Bistro, is there. We hit Jade:

These tapioca cakes for dessert were awesome. They have amazing bahn mi and hum bao here. Oh man. I could eat them EVERY DAY. Great tea selection too.

Speaking of tea, haven't been here (it used to be a bookshop, so sad it's not any longer!) but love the look of it:

Our actual reason for going to Sellwood was to get some birthday gifts at Cloudcap Games (great game store!), but they were closed for vacation! DRAT!

We made up for it though by going to Wells & Verne, Portland "Neo-Victorian Shoppe for Ladies & Gentlemen". You guys. A steampunk store! It's GREAT.


Gents of Portland calendar, anyone? :-)

Jim found an amazing pendant for himself here that is the symbol of his forthcoming book (which I have not yet mentioned here because I'm waiting to do a more substantial announcement when his publisher will allow some art to be shown. But I can't WAIT to tell/show you! I will say, it is co-authored with Kiersten White and it's AMAZING.) He also found a dress shirt with an enbalming fluid logo on it, because everyone needs one of those, and I *may* have found a giftie that was crying out to be owned by Stephanie Perkins :)

That's all for Sellwood. 

We also spent a morning on Alberta St, which I've featured here many times (click HERE for all my Portland posts). I wasn't very camera-happy that day though. Too bad! 

Here, the cute holiday roof at my favorite clothes store, Frock:

And since the weather has been so lovely, we took a stroll on the Eastbank Esplanade, a cool pathway built over the water facing downtown Portland:

Did you know that Portland's nickname is Bridgetown? There are 11 bridges linking the east & west sides of town over the Willamette River! 
Above: Hawthorne Bridge; below: Steele & Broadway Bridges.

Lovely city :-)

Lastly, we finally saw the amazing Samurai exhibit at the Portland Art Museum (only a few more days left!). It's all from the private collection of a Texas couple. It's GORGEOUS!

Can I tell you how much I want this helmet??

And, oh, have you ever seen Portlandia? Here she is:

I thought she was old, but she's not (1985) and now I don't know why I thought that, since this building is obviously not historic. Oh well. She's cool!

Love my city.

Happy day. Happy New Year! I'll be back!

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