Showing posts from February, 2012

On Blogging

A friend and I had a conversation recently about the concept of blogging -- or tweeting, if that's your thing, or being on Facebook -- about generally having a public internet presence. This is something I think about a lot -- what it means, why I blog, whether I should keep blogging.

These are surprisingly complicated questions, and I don't have the time/desire to touch on every consideration. But on the most basic level -- why do I blog?

A few reasons. My blog is a place for readers to go when they're looking for info about my books (which I'm not always the best at updating, but I try). It's a place for me to share cool stuff I've found on the interwebs -- because that's fun. It's a place to tell amusing stories, talk about writing, or rant about politics (because sometimes I can't help it). Sometimes it's a place for me to express deeper things -- feelings about life, and especially writing -- in the hopes that my words might resonate with o…

New (To Me) Music + Some Housekeeping

At the bottom of this post is some information about a way to buy certain foreign editions of Graceling and Fire if you're stateside.

Okay, I'm in a time crunch, but I'm giving myself 20 minutes to try to share some new music with you. First, for those of you who love Irish/Celtic music, I accidentally stumbled across the most beautiful, sad, LOVELY version of "The Curragh of Kildare." It's by The Boys of the Lough, on their album Lonesome Blues and Dancing Shoes. Sadly, it's not easy to find; I can't send you to it on iTunes, or even link to an illegal YouTube video. (You know, one of the ones where the uploader writes "NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED!!!!!" in the notes section. "But your honor, I didn't intend to break the law. It just kind of happened as a consequence of me illegally uploading the song!") I can tell you where I did find it, though. It was on the Thistle & Shamrock podcast, at the end of the "Dave…

TV Roundup -- It's All about Writing Character

The Dowager Countess: Wasn't there a masked ball in Paris when cholera broke out? Half the guests were dead before they left the ballroom.

The Earl: Thank you, Mama. That's cheered us up no end.

(From Downton Abbey)Spoiler warning: Assume that all the following sections contain spoilers for whatever TV show the section is about.

Downton Abbey.
This is not the same show it was last season. Characters I knew then, I don't know anymore… Like Matthew, like Edith, like Branson (would someone please punch him for putting down Sybil's nursing work?); I'm even a little bit lost with Mary. And it's not that characters can't change. It's only that we need to understand what made them change. Otherwise they stop being characters and become tools for advancing/manipulating the plot.

I feel like it's a little bit more soap opera-y this season. Lavinia dies of a case of "Spanish flu with broken heart complications," for example. Seriously? She learns t…

"The only thing that limits us is our imagination"

Erik Johansson, photographer of the impossible, concludes his TedTalk with that statement. I love all the photographs he shows in his talk (embedded below), but the one at 4:42 is the one that MADE MY DAY.

(If you can't see the video, go to my Blog Actual.)

I, for one (taking the question of imagination in a different direction) think lack of imagination breeds small-mindedness and cruelty, and imagination breeds compassion... I think our world is suffering from a crisis of lack of imagination, and in this country, at least, it shows itself in people's quickness to pronounce moral judgment on others -- which then has hurtful political consequences. I would say more about that except that I'm busy watching Downton Abbey.  Talk amongst yourselves. Go Sybil!  Whoo-hoo!


Also -- in other news -- easiest beef stew crockpot recipe ever:

1 can of Guinness
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed (or less, if you …

February 14: Pan-Universal Be Who You Are Day

Click my Indonesian cover to enbiggen. Hello to my new Indonesian readers! *waves* ------->

So, three years ago, I decided to declare February 14 Interplanetary Be Who You Are Day. If you don't have the energy to click on that link, don't worry, I'll explain. But first, I would like to announce that in the spirit of inclusiveness, I am changing the name to Pan-Universal Be Who You Are Day. Now, not only extraterrestrial and extragalactic people but also alternate versions of ourselves can join our celebration! (Listen. You go ahead and start a holiday and see how hard it is to draw lines.)

So, there are a lot of things I don't like about Valentine's Day. For example, the working conditions of the people who grow our flowers. The muddy, murky issue of conflict diamonds. The child labor crisis in the chocolate industry. (I'm not actually trying to be depressing here! Just honest. The reality is depressing. I'm also not suggesting I'm any more innocent …

Randutiae and a Cover

Guys, look what you can get at Crate & Barrel for only $400.



So, I recently realized that a problem in my house can be solved by getting a new bookcase. I'm very excited to have an excuse to get a new bookcase. It also gives me an opportunity to mention another local indie that I adore, and that you should check out if you live in the Cambridge area: The Door Store, at 940 Massachusetts Avenue, between Central and Harvard Squares. They're a small, family-run business, and can make certain types of wooden furniture to order. (They made my TV stand and the little table inside my front door to my specifications.) They also have a lot of beautiful handmade furniture lying around ready to be bought. The staff is made up of men and women who are carpenters and who know what they're talking about. Also, they won't charge you $400 for a mass-produced white rectangle.

Next, Tui has some lovely vids up on her blog. And I also lik…

Check Out These Links

In Atlanta, a series of fatphobic billboard ads have been targeting kids. At her blog Dances with Fat: Health Comes in All Shapes and Sizes, Ragen Chastain is raising the money to put up "billboards and print media campaigns from a Health at Every Size® perspective to show kids of all sizes that they are valued and respected." Click on the link to read more about it, and consider donating something. Donations as low as $5 can be processed online.

ETA: Apparently donations as small as one dollar can be processed online -- just follow the appropriate link. My mistake, sorry. Hopefully you're all paying more attention than I am.

Also, thanks to Tamora Pierce for writing the post "Shame on You, Komen Foundation!" My thoughts exactly, but expressed better and with really interesting links. It comforts me that so many people are angry about this.

On the Character/Writer Relationship

Earlier this week, an interview question got me thinking. It was a question about whether, just as I inhabit my characters' minds in order to write them, my characters return the favor and inhabit my mind.
The most straightforward answer is no. I don't think about my characters unless I'm writing, or thinking about writing. If I'm trying to make an important life decision, for example, my characters don't weigh in, nor do I ask myself "What would Katsa or Fire or Bitterblue or Po or Raffin do?" They don't insert commentary while I'm at the store or the movies or the art museum. If they're witty speakers, they (unfortunately) don't inspire me with witty things to say. Nor, except in rare occasions with one particular (pretty random) character, do I ever encounter people in my real life who look like my characters or remind me of them.
The truth, in fact, is that I tend to forget about my characters when I'm not writing them. I was having …