Thursday, October 27, 2011

First of the Season

Just popping in to report that after a day of drippy cold rain, it is now snowing.

New England, I ♥ you.

Stuff and Things

The mailman left me a package slip, and in the space where he was supposed to write down the name of the sender, he wrote "Poland." ...? Poland sent me a package? I'm guessing it's copies of Fire (see snazzy cover ---->) from my Polish publisher, Wydawnictwo Nasza Ksiegarnia. Can't think why he didn't just say so. :P

Philip Pullman is still fighting hard for libraries in England. "Philip Pullman has lambasted Brent council for its comment that closing half of its libraries would help it fulfil 'exciting plans to improve libraries', describing the statement as a 'masterpiece' which 'ought to be quoted in every anthology of political bullshit from here to eternity'." HA HA HA (Thanks, R)

As a freelance writer, I found this article about how to budget for an irregular income helpful... with the exception of the suggestion that one project one's cash flow based on one's minimum monthly income from the last 12 months. That one isn't going to work for a lot of writers, who may have many months in the year where they make $0. Maybe what we need is for someone to write an article about how to budget for an EXTREMELY irregular income. :-) (Thanks, J)

Here's an important post as we approach Halloween. It brought me close to tears and also made me think: "Open Letter to the PocaHotties and Indian Warriors This Halloween." Read it and pass it on.

Preparing for another trip, so that's all for now...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boats and Bartók

I promise I won't use my Bitterblue cover as my post picture for the rest of all time, but for now, I just can't help myself. I've been working on Bitterblue for almost four years, and haven't really been able to express how it's made me feel. Now that I finally have a cover to express things for me, I find I keep reaching for it. :o)

So, there's this piece of music by the Hungarian composer Bartók called Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin. If you're curious, you can listen to part of it here. I theorize that there's a relatively high potential for disaster when an orchestra attempts to perform this piece, seeing as even when it's played well, it sounds kind of shrieky and discordant. Imagine how it would sound played badly!

Yesterday, I listened to the Boston Youth Symphony play it magnificently. The whole concert was beautiful and I was SO IMPRESSED with these fine young musicians. It was kind of a delightful crowd, too, younger than the average symphony audience... I've never been in Boston's Symphony Hall before, but I've been to other snooty symphonies, and I'm guessing that generally speaking, people in symphony audiences don't scream and hoot out the names of performers who've merely come on stage between sets to organize their music. No doubt there are some highbrow symphony-goers who would frown on that kind of behavior. People like that need to get over themselves. I speak as someone whose family brought pots to my college graduation and banged them together when my name was called, even though the crowd had been instructed to save their applause until the end, which technically my family did, because banging pots together is a completely different activity from applauding.

Where was I?

The concert yesterday was fantastic; the memory of my graduation got me sidetracked. Although COINCIDENTALLY perhaps I should mention that my graduation also included a fantastic concert, because our commencement speaker was Yo-Yo Ma, who brought his cello.

OKAY SO now I'm going to pull some information straight out of the program to tell you about the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras: "Founded in 1958, the BYSO is an independent organization in residence at the Boston University College of Fine Arts. BYSO's mission is to encourage musical excellence in a professional and supportive environment by providing the highest-quality orchestra training and performance opportunities to qualified musicians, grades K-12, while making its programs accessible to underserved communities through financial assistance and outreach. ...BYSO has the largest operating budget of any youth orchestra in the United States today," and it shows. (That last part is me, not the program.) Most exciting of all, in March, they're going to perform one of my most favoritest pieces of music ever, Brahms's Requiem. I love it so much that I've mentioned it several times on this blog before, like here. I hope I'll be in town!

Here's the link to learn more about the BYSO, including their performance schedule.

Another nice thing that was happening in my neighborhood this weekend was this regatta called the Head of the Charles, which involves crew teams from all across the land swooping in with their beautiful long graceful boats and rowing them up and down the Charles River. In case you don't know, here in Massachusetts, the Charles River separates Boston from Cambridge. Today, I took the bus from Cambridge into Boston to get to Symphony Hall, and when we crossed the river, it was JAM PACKED with boats and people. Really very pretty. I love autumn in New England.

Have a good week, everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

O HAI

Hi everyone. I still exist. Apparently I am taking a small blog break! I didn't see it coming or I would've announced it. But I've been doing some more travel, I've been having work meetings, I've been recuperating, I've been working on various categories of things, and somehow haven't been feeling bloggy.

I think a lot of people's hearts have been bleeding a little bit on account of the National Book Award/Lauren Myracle kerfuffle. I very much enjoyed/appreciated/admired Myracle's own explanation of what happened, and agree with everyone else that she's a class act. Good on you, Lauren.

Here's a post I read recently and liked: "A 'Cowboy and Indians' party is just as bad as a blackface party," at Adrienne K.'s blog Native Appropriations. I also appreciated her more recent post, "Representing the Native Presence in the 'Occupy Wall Street' Narrative". There's always something interesting going on on Adrienne K.'s blog!

Okay, that's all I've got for now... but those photos of my trip out west are in the future. Also: If you ever have the opportunity, see the show War Horse. Here's a single moment that expresses only a tiny part of why this show is amazing: during a battle scene, one of the horses dies on stage (not a real horse -- a life-sized puppet operated by three AMAZING human artists whose work you also get to watch, in addition to watching the horse itself in action). When the horse's body finally goes still -- and I really can't express how dramatic and beautiful these horse scenes are -- the three humans roll out together, stand up, and back away, backing offstage. In other words, you watch the horse's spirit leave its body, in the form of the puppeteers. If I could re-see only one of the many Broadway shows I've seen, this would be the one.

Bye for now :o)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just Be Sure That Yours Is Not the One

In case you missed it, I made an announcement about Bitterblue on Thursday.

You know, I wanted to come here and try to express some of my thoughts and feelings about what it was like to write this book, tell some stories, and describe how it feels to be done writing it. But I don't think I can yet. It was the hardest work I've ever done, and now that my part of the process is mostly over, I'm grieving. It's a comfort to me that if I have to give her up, at least I can give her to all of you.

Randomly, my subject line is from a Neil Young song I can't stop listening to. (The link is to youtube.) If you've never listened to much Neil Young and are curious, I highly recommend the album Neil Young Unplugged as your introduction.

My recent trip took me to Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon. Wisely, I chose an excellent photographer as my traveling companion :o). I'll be posting some pictures here soon. I don't think I've ever seen so much, and such diverse, natural beauty in such a short period of time. Plus, we saw elk, bison, a cantaloupe --

*blinks*

... okay, in the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, grazing by the river, we did not see a cantaloupe. We saw ANTELOPE. But since that was one of the funnier dictation mistakes I've seen in a while, I thought I'd leave it there for you.

Where was I? We saw elk, bison, antelope, and a wolf. A wolf!

Scattered today, but I'll gather myself together and post more soon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Bitterblue News I've Been Promising

(Click to embiggen)

Bitterblue
will be released on May 1, 2012 in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. It will be released on the same day in a few other countries/languages as well; I'll supply that information when I have it.

A few reasons I love the (USA/Canada) cover above: It feels like Bitterblue (the character) to me. The colors have special significance. The keys are a highly appropriate icon (like Katsa's dagger on the Graceling cover). And, the keys look like weapons. :o)

Here's a link to today's press release in Publisher's Weekly, which includes a little bit of teaser information about the book. Thanks to Sue Corbett for the interview.

Here's where you can preorder on bn.com. Here's where you can preorder on Amazon. Ask your local indie bookseller about preordering, too, if preordering is what you want to do.

A lot of people have asked me why it took so long for me to finish this book. The answer is simple. It's not because I was distracted; it's not because I wasn't working my ass off; it's simply because Bitterblue is longer and more complicated than the other books I've written, and some books require more time than others. The book decides.

There's so much more to say, but for now, I'm just going to breathe a sigh of relief that I'm finally able to share the news and the cover. Enjoy, everyone!