Showing posts from September, 2013

On Writing: Dealing with "I Don't Wanna"

Sometimes, while writing, instead of feeling like, "Gosh, this is really hard," I feel like, "Holy hell. This is AGONIZING." I expect this happens to most every writer. When it happens to me, I call it the I Don't Wannas, because, as it gets to be time for me to sit my butt in the chair and start working, every cell in my body is screaming, "I DON'T WANNA! I DON'T WANNA! I DON'T WANNA!" This can happen at any point in a project, but for me, there are particular circumstances under which it always happens. When I'm coming to the end of the planning stage of a revision, for example, and transitioning into the actual doing-the-work stage, the I Don't Wannas arrive like clockwork. I think it's because in that moment, I'm holding in my cupped hands the entirety of a finished draft that's not working AND an unstarted draft composed only of magic ideas, and it feels like the magic is dribbling away through my fingers. When

Penguin's Teen Author Spotlight. Also, Nail Polish

As usual, I'm a little behind the curve about blogging things, but this week, to celebrate the release of the Bitterblue paperback, I've been the author on Penguin's Teen Author Spotlight . Check it out if you want to see a short interview. Then scroll down and read about the other featured authors! Also, I painted my nails. I hope Piet Mondrian and Frank Lloyd Wright would like them. Y'all know I like to subject you to my nail polish , right?  Thank you, R, for taking this picture!  On my right hand, gold with a teal stripe and silver tips.  On my left hand, silver with a teal stripe and gold tips. By the way, this is a lovely beer: Trappístes Rochefort 6. Belgian, brewed within the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy . As long as I'm identifying the beer in the picture, I may as well identify my nail polish painting materials, for the nail painters among you: The gold is Orly "Luxe," the silver is Orly "Shine," and the te

Guest Post: Helen Lowe

Last year, I spoke with New Zealand-based fantasy author, Helen Lowe , about Bitterblue, an interview that has since been translated into both French and Chinese – probably because Helen asks good questions! Recently, Helen’s novel The Gathering Of The Lost, the second novel in her wall of night series, was shortlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award for epic-heroic fantasy. Congratulations, Helen! Authors can always get together and talk. But what if our characters talked to each other? Helen had the idea of writing a guest post for my blog that was a conversation between Bitterblue and her lead character, Malian of Night. The result, which you can read below, is a really nice introduction to Malian and her situation. Thank you for writing this conversation and letting me share it on my blog, Helen! * Bitterblue: Welcome, Malian, to Monsea. It’s wonderful to meet you. You know, in many ways, I feel our situations are similar: you've lost your mother and are estran

Afternoon Tea at Upstairs on the Square


Bitterblue for the Nook. Also, the paperback

Hi everyone. Just one more note about Bitterblue: if you're a Nook reader or read on an app that supports Nook books and have been considering buying the Bitterblue ebook, do it on Tuesday, September 17, when I understand Bitterblue will be the Nook Daily Find . I'm told it will cost only $2.99 that day. (Edited to add, Tuesday morning: There was some price confusion this morning, but it is, indeed, now available at that link for $2.99. My apologies for the earlier mixup.) Also, I got my author copies of the paperback edition in the mail the other day, and I have to say, the Firebird imprint at Penguin did a really beautiful job with the paperback. Included as extra backmatter is a printed version of a long post I once wrote about the process of (hand)writing and revising Bitterblue -- that post, for those with long memories, that had pictures from my notebooks, etc. Of course the paperback also includes all of Ian Schoenherr's beauteous art.

September Fall, September Spring

On a recent morning, I left my house early to meet a friend for breakfast, then had to go back inside for some arm warmers. The shadows are growing longer here in Massachusetts, the light grows more yellow, the mornings are chilly and crisp, and a few of the very earliest trees are starting to change color – fall in New England approaches. My favorite season! That same morning, I had an email from writer Helen Lowe , who lives in New Zealand. Here's what she said: " does feel very nice to be getting into spring, although we tend to get bright days with cold winds (easterly, off the southern ocean) so lovely in a sheltered spot, but otherwise you do have to rug up when venturing the great outdoors." Thanks for letting me share the start of spring in New Zealand on my blog, Helen. Readers, I'm pleased to inform you that you'll be hearing more from Helen here soon, as she's working on a guest post for my blog. On my way home from breakfast, I acquire

Bitterblue Paperback, September 17

By the way, the Bitterblue USA/Canada paperback will be released on September 17, which seems to be next Tuesday. Boy did that ever sneak up on me. In case anyone's been waiting for that, just wanted to pass on the word. It's open for preorders at various book buying sites – and don't forget to support your local indie!

Simply Trying to Hear It

This video by "recreational mathemusician" Vi Hart, called "Twelve Tones," is half an hour long, in addition to which, once you watch it, you'll want to watch it again. It's so worth it. I'm not sure how it'll be to watch if you have no music literacy whatsoever, but in case it's helpful, here's the Wikipedia page about the twelve-tone technique . (Personally, I think you can get a lot out of the video even if you don't understand everything that's going on – and it may make you want to go out and learn new things! It did for me.) (Thanks, D!)

A note to anyone who's been trying (and failing) to watch those dance videos –

I just discovered that Fox has started posting the SYTYCD dance routines on YouTube and enabling embedding, so I went back and revised all the links in my earlier post. I also embedded a few of the dances so you can watch them right on my blog. So, if you wanted to see them but Fox's website has been making it impossible, try again!

Money Memories. (Also, Dancing.)

When I was a little girl, probably six or seven, my mother sent me to school every day with my lunch and a quarter to buy milk. At some point, I figured out that if instead of buying milk, I saved my milk money for two days, I could buy an ice cream, which cost 45¢, instead. It was a magnificent discovery. I can't remember what I did with the extra 5¢, but as I was an arithmetically-inclined and goal-oriented child with clear priorities, I'm guessing that every 9th day, I added that day's 25¢ to the 20¢ accumulated over the last eight days and used it to buy an ice cream . I wish I could remember where I kept the money. I have a vague memory of a little oval green plastic change purse that opened like a fish's mouth when you squeezed the edges. Then one day, one of my sisters caught me eating an ice cream she knew I wasn't supposed to be eating, and ratted on me. She ratted on me! What a lack of foresight. I'm sure it felt good to rat on me, but not nearly

Cavalia's Odysseo

I went to see Cavalia's Odysseo , which is this beautiful show involving horses, trainers, acrobats, riders, aerialists, and musicians currently taking place under an enormous tent here in Boston (Somerville). One of the acts involves four aerialists doing a silks show up high on a spinning rig that's being spun by four white horses below. It made me so speechless that I confess I barely clapped for the next act, not because it wasn't amazing, but because I couldn't move. In case you're having trouble imagining what a show involving horses, trainers, acrobats, riders, aerialists, and musicians is like, here's a little video. :o) (You can watch the silks show for a few seconds around 1:59.) My absolute favorite parts of the show, by the way, were those moments when all these unsaddled, unbridled horses would be running en masse across land or water in graceful formation and suddenly one of them would be like, "Meh, I'm not into this. I'm going to

Sunday Randutiae on the Fly

Just taking a few minutes to say a few things on this busy Sunday… My dear friend Amanda MacGregor has a new website called Cite Something! where she's providing research and writing advice to high school and college students. Plus, she has a sense of humor. Go check it out, look around a bit if you're interested. Amanda and I were grad students together at Simmons College's Center for the Study of Children's Literature and I am deelighted by her new project! In case you live in Cambridge and love cookies, you should know that the workers at Insomnia Cookies are currently on strike . They are fighting for a living wage, healthcare, enforced breaks, and the right to be in a union. I'm very grateful to the friend who told me this (thanks, B!), because otherwise I might have accidentally crossed the picket line for a cookie! Now I'm telling you, so you can avoid the same error. Support the strikers! Reject the cookies!  The news about Jane Austen on E