Showing posts from January, 2010

When the Aliens Look Down on Us, What Must They Think?

Before I get to the alien question (and the dominoes) -- Cindy Pon, accomplished fantasy author and artist, just interviewed me for The Enchanted Inkpot. She does not pull punches with her questions; the interview is here.

And now:

The first piece of awesome, via my sister, codename: Apocalyptica the Flimflammer... I never thought I could get so stressed out about an armadillo and some dominoes.

Second, via Laura... maybe this is what publishers should do in lieu of book trailers!

Finally -- via a couple people, most recently my pal SMJ -- have you seen this yet? This happened at a train station in Antwerp and completely surprised all the travelers waiting for trains. (It was a promotion for a TV reality show in which contestants compete to win the role of Maria in a theatrical production of The Sound of Music.)

Sometimes it breaks my heart how much I love our planet.

In Which the Blog Gets Too Serious and Is in Need of Dominoes

You talk about keeping the faith while writing -- but how do you keep going when you can see that your manuscript is a total mess? How do you keep the faith?

Well... I don't know; maybe a combination of mulishness, arrogance, and self-delusion? :o) All underrated qualities, IMO. More seriously, I keep it because I have to. I mean, what other option do I have? Giving up? Is that really an option? If I keep going, mightn't the book fail? Yeah, it really might. But if I give up, there's no longer any "might" about it -- it will fail. Sorry, but that kind of failure seems to me like the least satisfying kind of failure. If my book fails, it will NOT be because I didn't try hard enough. I'm not going down without a fight!

I get a little annoyed when I hear people talking about the inherent insecurity and low self-esteem of "the artist." Art glows with faith even in its weakest parts. At every moment, writing is an act of self-confidence -- the she…

FAQ: Who reads your first drafts?

How do you choose your early readers -- the ones who give you helpful criticism while you're still writing and revising?

This is a really important question and is a process that can take some experimentation. Here's what I've decided I need in an early reader:
A person who reads books often and intelligently.
A person who is willing to tell me thehard truth.A person who, nonetheless, tells the truth with respect, i.e., delivers criticism in a way that fortifies me, NOT in a way that tears me down.Intelligence, truth, and respect. That's what you need from an early reader. The person who doesn't read lots of books? Might not have opinions that will be of much value to you. The person who tells you that your manuscript is perfect? Is either lying, loves you too much to see the flaws, or is not the discerning reader you're looking for. The person who laughs at your work, tells you you're stupid, and suggests that you're wasting your time? I advise you to…

Sending my Congrats into the Ether. Also, VOTE

I watched the Youth Media Awards webcast live with a second tab open to my library account so that I could put books on hold as they were announced. Congratulations are flying around the internet, of course, and I'd like to add mine. Especially to Rebecca Stead and Francisco Stork for When You Reach Me and Marcelo in the Real World, winners of the Newbery and the Schneider, respectively, because (1) I love those books, and (2) we three share an agent, so in some silly way, I think of them as my writer siblings. Congrats to my agent, too!

A list of the award-winners is here.

My weekend rocked (you did see the the trapezing shenanigans, didn't you?), and now that things are settling down, Bitterblue is tapping and tugging. I like activity, and then I like the calm and focus that follows the activity. Time for a winter writing blitz!

One last thing: Massachusetts Democrats, get your butts out and vote for Martha Coakley today. I mean it!

An ALA Special Report: When I Said Shenanigans, I Meant Shenanigans

See this rig?

See these authors?

Don't you think these authors should jump off that rig?

Well, anyway, they thought so.

Sarah Miller and I fly on the trapeze (S left, I right; click to enbiggen):

Sarah and I reach for the catcher.

The catcher snatches us out of thin air:

Not done yet! Here are videos (practice swings, sans the catch):

For those interested in trapeze lessons, check it out. It was SO MUCH FUN. In particular, the moment when you're flying upside-down like crazy and suddenly a swinging man appears, grabs your wrists, says, "Gotcha," pulls you off your trapeze, swings you back really far, swings you forward really far, and then flings you into the air: AMAZING.

Vids, Pics, and Leserpreis Thursday

While I was on my blog break, I gathered a little pile of videos/pictures I wanted to show all of you. They don't really go together, but they don't really go with anything else I have planned, either, so I thought I'd throw them at you all at once. Ready for some randomness?

Here, via my lovely pal and fellow writer Tui Sutherland, is How to Wrap a Cat.

(When I was little, one of our cats was just that mellow. She was the World's Best Cat.)

Next up: via my pal C, Target is selling the fabulous Yay scale, designed by Marilyn Wann, author of Fat!So?: Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size. Weigh yourself on this:

Next up: my favorite Itzhak Perlman segment from Sesame Street (I did warn you these were a little random, right?):

Next: my favorite dance from the most recent season of So You Think You Can Dance: Kathryn and Legacy dancing, choreographed by Stacy Tookey. I couldn't find a good quality shorter version; if you just want to see the dance, it st…

Movie FAQs

Has anyone optioned Graceling and/or Fire yet?

Who would you want to play the various characters? Do you have any movie ideas?
On rare occasions, I try to picture Katsa, and usually, I fail. Sometimes, however, Zhang Ziyi springs to mind, because she can be fierce. Truth is, I'd love to see Graceling translated into a Hong Kong action movie. It would be totally different! Not just translating from book to film, and from my vision to the film director's, but from an American genre to a Hong Kong one. Could it be done? I don't know, and the story might have to change a lot, but when I watch Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I find myself thinking about it.

When I saw The New World, I was blown away by the quiet emotion of actress Q'orianka Kilcher. She could pull off Fire.

Aside from what I've said above, I have no actor ideas for my characters, and no movie ideas. To be honest, it's really hard for me to picture what my characters look like... I don…

Shaking Up the Blog; an Article; a FAQ -- and Some Unputdownable Books!

So, after a lot of thought and some consultation with the wise, I've come to realize that I need to make a change on the blog. I'm so grateful to all of my readers for the enthusiasm you have for my books and my blog -- but the downside to all the wonderful discussion that happens here is that moderation of comments has becoming a consuming activity that cuts into my writing time. It's better for everyone if I spend most of my energy right now on Bitterblue -- so, NO, I'm not going to stop blogging -- but I am going to turn off comments. This is not necessarily a permanent change, it's just what I need right now to focus on my writing. I make this change with sadness!

This will be a shift for me, because I end so many of my posts with questions for you! I guess they'll tend to be hypothetical questions from now on. One nice thing about Blogger is that you can change settings on a post-by-post basis, so maybe now and then I'll have the time to open a po…

In Which I ♥ My New Year's Routine

Slovak cover of Graceling ------------>

So, one of my favorite tasks this time of year is The Changing of the Daily Planner (henceforth, ∆DP). ∆DP involves putting last year's and this year's planners side by side; going through last year's; and writing into this year's, in ink of significant colors, the things that happen every year (birthdays, bill-paying days, tax-paying days, etc.). It also involves writing into this year's planner all the plans for 2010 that I've already made.

I LOVE THIS TASK. This is partly because my daily planner is the Women Artists Datebook, which contains quotes at the bottom of every page, artwork every few pages, and poems here and there. While moving from the old planner to the new one, I get to review last year's favorite quotes and poems and peek ahead to this year's.

Today I'm going to share some of the joy of ∆DP 2010. :o)

A few favorite quotes from the old year:
... the job of the artist is not to resolve or bea…

Meanwhile, Back at the Blog

Hello, beautiful people! I'm back. How was your December? Mine was fabulous. I've been doing a lot of traveling... and I also received two intriguing packages:

(1) My Czech and Slovak Gracelings, published by Ediposs. The Czech cover is on the right. I would tell you what Výjimečná means, except that I don't know! The Slovak title is Výnimočná. If there are any Czech or Slovak speakers out there who'd like to educate me, please feel free to leave a comment! [ETA 6:42pm: both titles are the feminine form of "someone who is phenomenal or exceptional," more or less. Thank you to Marek from Slovakia for the translations!]

(2) A super surprise from my Book Blogger Holiday Swap Swapee, Heather from Tales of a Capricious Reader!

Heather was thoughtful and did her research. Courtesy of my somewhat awkward MacBook camera, here's my loot (starting at the top and going clockwise): pens; hot chocolate; a beautiful little hand-made journal with a Paris theme (per…