Showing posts from 2010

December Rundown

A Text Message from My Sister, Secret Codename: Cordelia
I've decided we should make gingerbread people with the girls while ur here. We'll put down a tarp.

An Email from My Sister, Secret Codename: Apocalyptica the Flimflammer
For Christmas I am making Mom and Dad a present that involves seashells. Yesterday I went for a very long walk along the beaches of Swampscott that felt more like a safari than a walk, because my shoes were full of water and my nose was freezing off (clearly I've never been on a safari). I found a myriad of fantastic shells, and chief among my favorites were a bunch of empty mussel shells that had other smaller shells of various colors anchored to them, so that they looked liked fantastical hybrids. I brought them home, washed and dried them, and left them on my bathroom counter overnight. Today I spread twenty-five shells all around my work surface and started working with rubber cement. At a certain point, something moved in my peripheral vision and…

Some Links for a Nearly-Solstice Monday

I just wanted to let you all know that my blog break is going excellently.  (How would you know unless I blogged it?)

My publisher in Taiwan (Gaea) is releasing Graceling again with a new jacket that a lot of you will find familiar. Click to enbiggen -------->

I've been reading some good blog posts lately and wanted to share a few:
Tamora Pierce posting about a female blogger "who writes about and wears clothes that don't make her look like Snooki, Beyoncé, or Miley Cyrus. Leandra Medine wears clothes that aren't meant to draw the male eye." Read more here.Tamora Pierce (again!) posting about self defense from pervos in crowded spaces. "You know something? You have every right to stand or walk along, thinking your thinks, listening your music, without some s**tpoke waving his willie at you. If he's gonna ruin your day, don't you think you should do your best to ruin his?"  Read more here.Tamora Pierce (again again! She is unstoppable!  In addi…

Pop and Locking In Today...

...with an important song about friends.  Thanks to my friends, codename: B-P and the PBs. :o)

Also, best of luck to my favorite a cappella group on the show The Sing Off: Street Corner Symphony. Here they are singing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." (Kids? Don't even THINK about trying that at home!)

Okay, away I go until January.  I swear.

December: In Like a Stressed-Out Lion, Out Like a Stressed-Out Lamb

Oh, December. At least you're predictable.

Last year, I took most of December off from the blog. This year, I might as well turn it into a tradition. I don't know about you, but for me, December is always twice as much month as any other month, and I have a whole lot to do before I'm ready to get on an airplane and venture to a yet-to-be-determined location for Christmas. For example, I need to determine a location. :o)   Anyway, between trapezing and Bollywood, my last few posts were so long that some of you might need all of December to read them.

One note to anyone thinking about buying signed copies of Graceling or Fire as Christmas presents: I'm pretty sure I'm going to be 1,158 miles away from my local bookseller during the week before Christmas... *measures arm* ...way too far away for me to reach the title page with my pen, so get those orders in soon.

To those who have celebrated, are celebrating, or will be celebrating a holiday: peace and joy to you. For…

The Blog: Bollywood Edition

And now I would like to offer a few more movie recommendations for the uninitiated, from the only-recently initiated.  I've never been one for plot summary. Instead, I'll tell you a snippet about what struck me, while also trying to convey a little something about why Bollywood has captured my heart.  (BTW -- if you're only going to watch one -- skip to the end of the list.)

In no particular order:

Dil To Pagal Hai ("The Heart Is Crazy").  This movie contained a lot of silly stuff about fate, a very silly ending, and some spectacularly silly scenes of people frolicking in fields, including a few places where Madhuri Dixit throws herself to the ground with romantic abandon, except that every time, it looks like she just tripped, so you're worried, until you realize that she is prostrate due to being enraptured rather than injured. Despite all that silliness, three things in this movie charmed me completely.  (1) It's a movie about a dance troupe; conse…

A Teeny Randutiae Post for Friday

This week, I feel bloggy! So here's an extra post.

Thank you, Will Ludwigsen, for your beautiful post, Aid and Comfort. Readers, check it out -- this is a great little post with some spot-on thoughts about the kind of love and support a writer needs. It's also one of the nicest acknowledgement posts I've ever read.

Not unrelatedly: thank you, Publishers Weekly, for including this teeny picture of my mother, father, and sister (secret codename: Cordelia) in your article about ALAN. It meant so much to me that they were at the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award reception, and I'm so happy to see them recognized.  I only wish secret codename: Apocalyptica could have been there, too.  I would not be able to do what I do without my family.  (In other news -- that big check in the picture?  It didn't fit in my suitcase, and carrying it through the airport was kind of hilarious.)

Next up: do you know the podcast Coverville?  I've recently started listening. The most …

Trapeze = Writing Therapy

Warning to the acrophobic (and to my mother): This post contains trapezey photos!

So, I really do think that trapezing is the perfect extracurricular activity for the writer -- for two reasons. One: trapezing is completely different from writing, and therefore, it's the perfect break. When I'm writing, I'm sitting in a chair, I'm racking my brains, I'm ALL in my head, thinking, thinking, thinking. I've got a great connection between my brain and my left hand, but beyond that, I'm kind of physically oblivious. I'm so out of touch with my body sometimes that I get mad when I realize I'm hungry (what, I have to feed myself AGAIN?). Or, I find myself in another room, and can't remember how I got there or why. Nothing could be more different from this than jumping off a platform, swinging through the air, leaping off the trapeze and being caught. As I've mentioned before, when I'm at a trapeze class, I don't think about writing, not once.…

Some Public Speaking Tips from a Shy Person Who Has Learned to Love Public Speaking

Some Tips for the Days Leading up to the Speech
PREPARE, PREPARE, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Nothing is more important than this and nothing will make more of a difference. I try to have my speech written at least a few days before I'm giving the speech, and if possible, a week or two.  This gives me lots of time to practice speaking it aloud. With each practice run, I revise the speech a little. And with each practice run, the speech becomes part of my speaking memory and my muscle memory.  I know from experience that if you have practiced often, calmly in your kitchen, the way you want to say a speech, then on the day of the speech, you can shake and jitter your way through that entire speech and still have it come out sounding the way you practiced it, so much so that people will come up to you afterward and tell you that they wished they could be so calm and composed while giving a speech.  (You should probably try not to burst into hysterical laughter when someone says this to y…

Some Yackety-Yacking for Thanksgiving

I wanted to share my acceptance remarks from the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award reception on Monday, but decided to backdate them so they're linkable but won't monopolize your blog readers. My remarks are here. It's basically a short speech about some of the place Fire came from. Also, Blogger, I am not impressed with your jump breaks. Readers, if you thought you saw a rawther long post from me on Tuesday and then it disappeared, I'm sorry about that, it was an experiment gone wrong. Curses!  But.  Hope y'all like the speech.

Also, I wish everyone celebrating Thanksgiving today a peaceful and stress-free time.  One thing I do: every year, I try to buy nothing on Friday.  Turns out that the Friday after Thanksgiving is a really lovely day not to go into any stores.  Try it!  It might be for you.  Actively choosing not to shop on Black Friday makes me feel centered.  Unless I've forgotten to do my grocery shopping beforehand, in which case, it makes me feel hung…

ALAN, Plus the World's Best Stage Directions

This morning I board a plane for Orlando, and late this afternoon, I'll be at NCTE-ALAN, receiving the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for Fire. My parents will be there, and also secret codename: Cordelia! How nice that this event is taking place near a branch of my family!

The other day, in my post about my editor, I mentioned that good editing is invisible, like the world's best stage directions. Giving credit where credit is due: that was my friend Becca's analogy, not mine. And one of the reasons I liked it so much when she said it is that I've recently been encountering what just might be the world's best -- or, at least, the world's most entertaining -- stage directions. Where? In the plays of J.M. Barrie.

Imagine, as a set designer, being given this:
"There is a piece of carpet that has been beaten into nothingness, but is still a carpet, there is a hearth-rug of brilliant rags that is probably gratified when your toes catch in it and you are hurled…

Let's Raise a Glass to Quiet Geniuses

My editor has a particular Grace that I'm often aware of, but can never quite quantify. Here's an example of how it manifests: I send her an email about how I cannot possibly write the book, the book is too much of a mess for me to wrap my head around, the book is eating my brains, I cannot even bear to look at the book, the book is haunting me, the book is threatening me, I am a disgrace, my life as a writer is over, I'm going to take a boat to Antarctica and prostrate myself on a glacier and wait to die like that guy in "To Build a Fire," except not really like him, because at least he was trying to build a fire.

My editor will wait a few beats. Then, she'll send me a very calm email in which she will (1) not point out that I am being melodramatic and maudlin, (2) not tell me to get over myself, (3) not tell me to please stop sending her ridiculous emails because she is an extremely busy person and doesn't have time for this, and (4) gently suggest tha…

Hard Things

Writing is really, really hard right now. I am in a vortex of doubt and I am clinging to a mustard seed.

Writers out there, don't let go of that mustard seed; don't let go of that teeny, tiny shred of faith. I know what you're going through. I know how hard it is, and I know how courageous you are. You can do so much more than you think you can. It never ceases to amaze me but it's true: that teeny little seed of faith is all you need to get yourself through. Just DON'T LET GO.

(Here is the pep talk I wrote for National Novel Writing Month last year, about self-doubt and fear. And here is a longish post I wrote once about fear -- and trapezing, so be warned, there's a trapezing photo there.)

On the subject of making oneself vulnerable, stripping oneself down, sad and difficult things -- everyone needs to go to this section of Regina Spektor's myspace page, click play, and listen to the song "Samson." It's just beautiful. Thank you to my f…

A Few More Things I Love...

...because, well, they just keep rolling in, and I don't feel like waiting for my Monday post.
This cartoon, starring a little fellow many of us know and love. (Look at the cartoon before you click to the little fellow.) Thanks, C.This picture slideshow, 25 photos long, of signs seen at the recent Rally to Restore Sanity. Thanks, Jen.Dance sequences filmed atop moving trains. (From the 1998 movie Dil Se, directed by Mani Ratnam, shot by cinematographer Santosh Sivan, choreographed by Farah Khan, danced by Malaika Arora, Shah Rukh Khan, and team, to the song "Chaiyya Chaiyya.") I find myself hoping that Patrick Swayze saw this before he died. Dirty Dancing fans, don't you think he would have appreciated it?
Tamora Pierce's post in honor of Veteran's Day.Have a good weekend, everyone.

A Few Things I Love

"So, I started hanging out with Rayanne Graff. Just for fun. Just because it seemed like if I didn't I would -- DIE, or something." I love the way the TV show My So-Called Life begins. It's a lesson in writing, actually: Angela is already breaking away from her best friend, Sharon; she's already started hanging out with Rayanne. The show plops us directly into the middle of Angela's new friends, new confusion and new experimentation, Rayanne's dangerous messy life, and Sharon's pain -- rather than showing us the drawn-out saga of Angela and Sharon happy together, then Rayanne luring Angela, then Angela and Sharon splitting up. Writing lesson: jump right into it. Start with the action, start with the meat of the matter, and let any necessary explanations trickle out as you move forward. (For the record, these are not my original thoughts. Thanks to Becca and Jess for the conversation we had about this -- I can't remember which of you point…

And Then, South Bend

In my signing line at Saint Mary's College, a few people expressed surprise that I'd come to South Bend to do an event. The explanation is simple: I have family there. And family tradition: a LOT of people in my paternal family are alums of Notre Dame or Saint Mary's, and a few of them work there. We've actually been planning this event for some time. It even turned into a mini-reunion, with my parents and a few other family members coming to join us :).

Join us to do what? Go to a Notre Dame football game, of course. I won't get into my feelings about college football, which are complicated, nor will I get into my feelings about Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish, which are beyond complicated -- instead, I'll merely report that surrounded by enthusiastic loved ones and by random strangers screaming "Go Irish!," I felt very... well, Irish. And I cheered loudly for Notre Dame, despite all my threats beforehand to cheer for the other team,…