Wednesday, December 9, 2015


I'm thrilled to announce the new title for the novel I've been working on all year! You may recall, when it was initially announced, that the title was given as "The Muse of Nightmares." Well, I still love that title too, and am happy to say that it will serve as the sequel to this book, which has morphed, in the writing, into a duology. A duet. A pair. A one-two punch. 

I should have known from the outset. Any story I come up with has a way of stretching its borders in every way possible. Prompts grow into novels. Novels spill over from one book to another to another. But after finishing the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, a standalone sounded really appealing! 

So much for that. This is a story that's been growing quietly in my mind for years, and it was never going to fit itself meekly into one book. So here we are!

I think that all I said in my initial announcement was this:

There was a war between gods and men, and men won. The few surviving children of the gods have grown up in hiding, dreading the day they know must come: when humans find them, and end them. 
That day is at hand.
Wheeeeee! You'll find an expanded description, plus an explanation for this new title over at NOVL, the awesome sight for book lovers produced by my publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers. 

I'm super excited, guys. I really love this title, these characters, this world, and I sincerely hope that you do too!


Monday, November 16, 2015


I'm going on retreat tomorrow! Not to the above island, which is waaay too distraction-filled. It'll just be me in a hotel room with nothing to do but write write write. (Well, I might possibly wander into the Plot Labyrinth, but not if I can help it!) Always such excitement and trepidation pre-retreat: big hopes of big productivity, and big fears of face-planting. 

Stupid fear. 

But excitement too! I'll be back soon!

(more of my thoughts on writing retreats here.)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Paris is always a good idea." - Audrey Hepburn

(weird cool mirror sculpture in above photo, if you're wondering!)

A little slice of Montmartre:

Some random Paris:

(At Parc de la Villette, hard to tell the scale, but that mirror ball has an IMAX theater inside, so: it's big!)

We reallllly loved Les Invalides/Napoleon's Tomb/the war museums. 

The Palais Garnier (Opera House); one of our favorite places:

(Jim in a crown of light :-)

Heh heh, I bought a coupla these sweaters...

Another favorite place in Paris that we never miss: Passage Jouffroy!

One of the fabulous Belle Epoque covered shopping passages (the best one in my opinion). In addition to the wax museum (Musee Grevin) it has this amazing toy store, Pain d'Epice, where I could spend hours, and as luck would have it, a graphic novel bookstore right next door where Jim could spend hours. How convenient!

And across the passage, the perfect spot for tea & cakes...
Le Valentin, chocolaterie/salon de the.

We tried out a handful of smaller museums for the first time on this trip, notably: 
Musee Gustave Moreau, where here you see Clementine's halberd in the umbrella stand...

Isn't this the best staircase in the world???
This museum is in the lifelong home of the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau, and has a huge collection of his paintings. Do you think anyone would mind if we moved in?

More later!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pierrefonds, France -- the best kind of castle

From Paris to the Ardennes, we went by way of Pierrefonds Castle, about an hour, hour and a halfish northeast of Paris? If you watch the show Merlin, I guess it's filmed here? I haven't seen it, but now I want to. This place is gorgeous.

It has a cool history. Though originally built in the 12th-14th Centuries, it had become a picturesque ruin by the 19th. Then Napoleon III came along and hired architect Viollet-le-Duc to rebuild it. So what it basically is is a medieval castle reimagined in the 19th century, with theatrical flair. 


As an aside, we'd been to Versailles a few days earlier, and this might sounds appalling, but it really left us cold. For one thing: the crowds. But that's not all. It's just the style of the place, it's so symmetrical and elegant. Give me crenelations and gothic arches any day. This is my kind of castle. 

Viollet-le-Duc was a full-service designer, and did up the interior too, as well as designing furniture. It was never completed, alas, because some pesky war came along and ended Napoleon III's emperorship. 

There was a really cool exhibit of costumes and armor going on, and true to the spirit of the castle, they weren't genuine either, but were theatrical reimaginings of medieval and Renaissance costumes from various operas. Bonus for crazy imagination.

(Clementine must have taken this pic, as Jim and Alexandra and I are all in the background!)

The village at the foot of the castle is really stunning too. We were wishing we had a couple of days to linger and stroll to Compiegne through the woods and peddle boat on the lake and just enjoy the tranquility. Another time! But then, who knows? Maybe not. Because there are just SO MANY CASTLES AND BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN FRANCE that we may not ever get back to this one, but just see as many as we can and STILL NEVER SEE THEM ALL.

 Oh, and see the castle below? Just some other castle that somebody lives in. No big deal.

The town hall, with the castle in the background:

What's this? We must, you say? Well then, all right. If you insist.

if anyone's looking for a cool property with a castle view...

Village doggie says bye! Have a nice day!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Festival of Marionettes, Charleville-Mezieres (Oh, France...)

Hi! Back from France (and Sweden and Norway and Denmark!) and straight back into manic writing, so it's hard to make time to sort photos, but here are some. Too many! It's impossible to choose when it comes to this amazing event: the Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionettes in Charleville-Mezieres, in the Ardennes region of France (on the Belgian border). 

Last winter some time I saw a cool picture on Pinterest of some puppets (I love puppets!) and followed the link and within minutes was emailing Jim and my best friend Alexandra to say: WE HAVE TO GO TO THIS. Meanwhile, Alexandra had discovered it randomly on the same day and was preparing to email me to say we must go to hereIt's held every two years and takes over the town. Puppets in every shop window, puppet shows in the streets, and in theaters and churches and everywhere they can fit. 

I didn't totally believe we'd do it, that we'd actually GO, but we DID. Yay, us!

Here's the 17th-century Place Ducale in Charleville:

And here's the Place Ducale with the Pied Piper and his rats:

Rat meets dog. (The dog was FREAKING OUT.)

And here's the Place Ducale with the "King of Paper" who told stories with the aid of cardboard figures magnetized to his epaulettes. Here he's telling Clementine the Orpheus legend as rain lurks in the background:

Rain: not the best thing for the King of Paper. Jim assists with the umbrella:

But then something AMAZING happened:

It was a gasp-out-loud rainbow. I've never ever seen such a perfect rainbow. Then it doubled

Just a little slice of street:

The poet Arthur Rimbaud is a native son, and that's his museum at the end of the street.

It's right on the river. Literally:

The church was pretty magical. 

The stained glass reflecting on the pillars. We stood in it and had stained-glass baths, which, of course, impart magical abilities.

But back to puppets!

Shows in the streets, hither and thither, day and night:

This window opened to a different brief mechanical show every hour:

The shop windows!

The posters!

The puppets for sale!

The nougat wizard!

This guy looks dangerous:

And MAN. So many pics already and I haven't even gotten to the two big spectacles yet! 
First, the opening ceremonies. Think: Cirque du Soleil over the 17th-Century town square.

High, high in the sky, out of the black of a night misted by intermittent rains, this lady appears.

She floats, she sings, she swings. She is lowered into the square.

And disappears between the petals of an immense flower.

Queue this curious parade!

Marching! Fanfare! Stilts! Drums! Giant rubber ducks and seahorses and strange, strange things!

They watch the great blossom, waiting for something to happen...

And something does! It...blooms.

Creatures emerge.

It unfurls. It unfurls musicians

The creatures climb ropes as the petals take flight. 

There's our girl.

Singing. Soaring.
(Don't you love her hair? :-)

And then, because, you know, not enough, the glowing sea serpent is born.

One last glowing fish parade and that's it. 

Our stars disembark, giddy. 

Here's the thing. There was a good crowd gathered, wasn't crowded. We're standing in this glorious square and the stars climb off their petals right in front of us, and there's room to breathe, room for glowing fish to swim, and everything's just right there. Absolute magic. 

Whew. BREATHTAKING. And through all of it, the mist of rain hanging in the air, and unbelievably, there are short heavy showers before and after, but for the show itself, the skies have mercy.

Spectacle the Next: The Unreals

In the square, beside the carousel, throughout the day, a circle of pavilions is being constructed.

Each one very beautiful and very different. Each one the home of a different "Irreel." The "Irreels," the sign tells us, are beings that are fragile, silent, and sensitive. (Thank you for respecting them.)

They don't show themselves, however. That night, the rain keeps them at bay.

Is that a bunny in that cage?

A really creepy bunny.

The next morning, though, they're there, inhabiting their wondrous environments...

 for sadly too brief a time before the rain, once again, drives them to shelter.

Even their retreat was magical though. Their slow, silent, elegant movement through the crowds.

I would have loved to have a good hour at least to walk round the pavilions of the Irreels. We had to leave to get back to Paris at midday and so couldn't await their return. DRAT! I didn't even get to see them all, and one assumes that the chance will not come again.

The festival will come again, however, and if at all possible, we will be there. For more than 1-1/2 days next time!

By Compagnie Creature. See their site for more magic. And here's a better sense of the Irreels in life:

A marionette or two may have made it home with us. This little guy would delights and bewilders Parisian dogs when he accompanied us on our morning boulangerie runs :-)

Don't you think Zuzana would be right at home at the Festival of Marionettes?

The great Ardennes boar, Woinic, charging on a hilltop:

We stayed about 30 minutes away at a fortress in a town called Sedan. (Here.) The entrance was this spectacular arch in this massive wall:

We arrived late at night, and it was all so dark, and I was puzzling over where to park and where the actual hotel was when I realized you actually drive through it. Doy!

And THIS is inside...


There was a classic car race of some sort going on. All these sleekster vehicles headed someplace.

And that's all! Such a long post! Don't you want to go to the festival in 2017?? 
Plenty of time to plan :-)

Next time: Pierrefonds Castle, part medieval, part theater, all wonderful.

(new family portrait, XO!)

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