Showing posts from 2015

Checking In

Greetings from the Worst Blogger Ever. I'm sorry I've been such an absent blogger lately! First it was because I was taking a much-needed work break, and now it's because all I ever do is work. I have a new book and I'm so excited for the day when I'm finally allowed to tell you guys a bit about it. For the moment, I'm working hard at it, trying to get it finalized. It's a strange book, and I don't know what anyone's going to think. That's out of my control, so I'm not worrying about it too much for now. I'm mostly just immersing myself in the experience of creating it. Once I'm allowed to talk about it, I think I'll have a LOT to say here about the process of writing it.

Soon I hope to be able to tell you what it's called, the premise, when you might actually be able to see it, etc…

In the meantime, I'll probably keep popping in now and then with more randutiae! Today I really, really appreciate Anna March's article…

Long-Overdue Randutiae (Yes, I'm Still Here!)

Lenny Kravitz's Dick Fell Out, and Women Everywhere Are Being Terrible about It. So. The gorgeous rocker and everyone's go-to Arena fashion designer had a wardrobe malfunction at a concert in Stockholm, and social media went wild, in a bad way. I appreciate this response, which is thoughtful about questions of consent, problematic double standards, and racism.Dear America: Here's Why Everyone Thinks You Have a Problem with Guns. From Business Insider. Charts, graphs, maps.I love these photos of endangered animals that lit up the Empire State Building in early August.And these nature/monument mash-up photos that are part of the National Park Service's current advertisement campaign.Seven Women Share the Pain and Joy of Pregnancy in Tender Photo Shoot. "With her 'Honest Body Project,' photographer Natalie McCain wants to help women of different shapes, sizes and backgrounds feel beautiful and empowered. "And finally, because, DRESSES, Vanity Fair's …

Lengthy Linky Randutiae. Also, Rainbow Nails

David Levithan and Billy Merrell are putting together an expanded edition of The Full Spectrum and are looking for essays about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning and other queer identities by writers under 21.  If you have a story you want to tell, go to for details on submitting.  Deadline is August 1st! I loved this: photos of the onscreen and real-life wedding dresses of 13 movie stars, in Vogue. Emma Thompson, Grace Kelly, Julie Andrews, Keira Knightley, etc.  If you have 15 minutes to watch a video: Sydney Opera House / Living Mural. "A global animation project by Universal Everything, collaborating with over 20 different animation studios worldwide to create a living mural on one of the world’s most iconic buildings." In other words: lights and pictures specially designed to be projected onto the Sydney Opera House. Pretty cool.From the Huffington Post: "Laverne Cox's Reaction To Caitlyn Jenner Reveals The I…

Dear Supreme Court, I love you, will you marry me?

The Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. States cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize these unions.


ETA: Check out the White House facebook page!!!

I have the solar system on my fingernails

This was pretty challenging, especially because in order for everything to line up correctly, the more complicated planets had to end up on my dominant hand. Turns out it is really hard to paint a tiny Saturn with a nail polish brush and toothpicks, right-handed!

I tried to represent their relative sizes correctly, more or less. Well anyway, I did my best, given my limitations of tools and skill. :o) And yes, Pluto gets to be part of my solar system!

Click to embiggen.

Thanks, Kevin, for the pictures. Somehow we failed to take a close-up of my right hand, so here's a bad iPhone selfie, just to share details:

My Lion and My Unicorn

Sometime last fall, I discovered the strange and beautiful work of Pete at The Builder's Studio. Pete creates his work by hand out of wood. I got in touch and asked him if he would consider making me a lion robot.

This guy showed up on my doorstep a few weeks later.

 I wrote back to Pete.  I said something along the lines of, "Pete, given that this is the most wonderful thing I've ever seen, would you consider making me a unicorn robot?"

A lot of time passed. I had given Pete a specific window of time for the lion, but I decided not to do that for the unicorn. As the months went by, Pete emailed me now and then to let me know how it was going. He was having trouble with the mane, he couldn't get various parts quite how he liked them. I wasn't in any hurry. I foresaw no emergency need for a unicorn robot. I told him to take his time.

Boy am I glad I did, because look what just showed up on my doorstep.

I'm sharing these photos because I don't know wha…

The Book Group

Some industry news: my marvelous agent, Faye Bender, formerly of the Faye Bender Literary Agency, is forming a partnership with three other fabulous agents, Julie Barer, Brettne Bloom, and Elisabeth Weed, to form a new literary agency. They're called The Book Group. ((1) Isn't that a great name, and (2) how was that name not taken???) Together, these four women represent a broad diversity of literary interests, including fiction and non-fiction, literary and genre fiction, and middle grade, young adult, and adult literature. Check out some selected titles. And here are their submissions guidelines.

And, children's writer Rebecca Stead will be joining them as an agent! Faye and Rebecca are two of my favorite people so it's hard for me to be all objective and reporty about this. You will have to take my word for it that it's going to be GREAT. Aw, look at this picture of Faye and Rebecca. *melts*

Here's one of the press releases. And here is the agency's new …

Q&A at Write the World

Write the World, a global online community for high school-aged writers, is currently running a fantasy story contest for writers aged 13-18, writing 400-1,000 word stories. Go check it out if you're interested, and take a look around their website while you're there! To coincide with the fantasy contest, I've just done a Q&A for their blog.

Cindy Pon's Serpentine Cover

There are a bunch of things going on that I really want to blog about, but work is very consuming right now. I keep telling myself I'll just wait until I have a long moment, then blog them all at once, but I'm finally accepting that this is not going to happen. So instead, I'll do what I probably should have done in the first place, which is blog each of them separately when I can…

The first is the beautiful cover for Cindy Pon's new book, Serpentine, coming out in September!

Um, sorry about that enormous blurb covering her hair, which actually makes this a somewhat embarrassing cover to post on my blog (because it feels self-indulgent)! If I'd known they were going to do that, I would've given them one of those one-word blurbs. "Awesome." But putting that part aside, isn't it a lovely cover? You can read more about Cindy's new book over at her blog. An excerpt from the description there: "Serpentine chronicles the tension and struggle am…

Rainy Tuesday Randutiae

Apologies for the broken link in my dresses post from May 5... the link was working for a while, then it broke, and I can't for the life of me find that page anymore. Agh! Here's a slideshow of dresses from the Met Gala, from another source entirely.From NPR, Here's What People Are Saying About the Waco Shootout and Race. Why such a relaxed-looking police presence in Waco compared to Baltimore and Ferguson?I liked the Google doodle for Inge Lehmann's 127th birthday. Lehmann was a Danish woman who discovered that the earth had both inner and outer cores.Don't forget that while you're catching the bus or feeding your kids or trying to calm your mind so you can fall asleep (or avoiding your book plan), far away on Mars, lonely rovers are crawling around, taking pictures of the sunset. (Thanks, B.)

Discouraged writers, join hands and repeat after me: BOOKS ARE JUNK

Today I took my plan for the revision I just finished down from the wall and put the plan for the book I'm drafting back up on the wall. I moved all the books, papers, and notebooks for the finished revision off of my desk and piled all the stuff for the new book in their place. I pulled all the notecards and pictures down from the blinds and put up all the new notecards and pictures.

Then I spent the next several hours stomping around the house with a storm cloud over my head, checking email, sending texts, playing Splash on my phone, reading the news, knitting, eating rice pudding, worrying needlessly about any unrelated thing that came to mind, and basically doing anything I could to avoid having to look at the book plan for the new book. I JUST DON'T WANT TO KNOW. I wrote in an email to some friends, "I truly don't understand why I ever thought writing a book was a good idea. BLECH BLECH BLECH. BOOKS ARE JUNK."

I have three published books, two contracted boo…


A friend of mine, Anindita B Sempere, was a teacher in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's middle school. Now that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death for his participation in the Boston Marathon bombings, Anindita has written a reflection piece, called "Monster," that you can read here. (For the Walter Dean Myers readers among you, the title is, in part, a reference to Myers' book.)

Speaking for myself, the piece is helping me articulate my own sadness and confusion on the entire oppressive topic of the bombings, manhunt, trial, and sentencing, so -- thanks, Anindita.

Some Dresses to Go With Your Hats

I just finished a massive revision. I am celebrating by lying on the couch, staring at the ceiling, and occasionally taking bites out of a cheeseburger. It is THE BEST.

Some End of Revision Randutiae for you, dear readers:
Fancy dresses from the Met Gala. Some of these dresses are actually beyond my powers of comprehension, but Lily Collins looks great. [ETA: I've become aware that the link no longer works, but I've been unable to find one that actually does! Sorry!] French artist Thomas Lamadieu takes photos of sky spaces between buildings, then makes art.  Finally, here's today's Google Doodle, which honors the 151st birthday of journalist Nellie Bly.

And now for something different...

The hats of the Kentucky Derby, in pictures.

In other news, it's supposed to be near 80°F today (26°C), and I can't remember how to do that. What do I wear again? Do I bring a layer? Should I open the windows? What's going on?

Only a few days ago, there were still piles of snow…

In Baltimore

The (familiar and simple) story the mainstream media is telling us about what's happening in Baltimore doesn't match the on-the-street stories of the regular people who are describing what they're seeing and experiencing.


Here are a few tweets of people describing their experiences in Baltimore today:

And here's an interesting article from the Baltimore Sun, dated September 28, 2014, about their police department's use of undue force (with upsetting photos):

Thanks, B.

My Prey


Event, Sunday, April 12, Pittsburgh

Dear Pittsburgh,

Please come see Joshua Bellin and me on Sunday, April 12, at Carnegie Mellon University! Joshua's workshop (11am) requires advanced registration. My lecture (2pm) does not and is free and open to the public. More information is at the Parsec website. I'm not completely certain, but I think I'm going to talk about failure. (This gives me an out if my lecture is a complete failure, right?)

x's and o's,
Your Friendly Authoress

Okay, One More

Kishi Bashi at SXSW in 2014.

Also, yesterday it snowed all day, but this happened on my writing desk:

A Song for You and an Upcoming Pittsburgh Event

A Friday night song for you: Kishi Bashi, a violin, and a loop pedal in the park!

The song is "Manchester" and it's from his album 151A. Thanks to my brother outlaw Darren. :o)

Also -- on Sunday, April 12, from 2 to 3 PM, I'll be at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh talking about my work. Then I'll be signing for about an hour after that. The event is free and open to the public. I will provide more information soon about this, but in the meantime, I just wanted to get it on people's radar!


It is RAINING NOT SNOWING. Today I wore SNEAKERS NOT BOOTS. It's all of 36°F (2°C), but there was only one possible choice of umbrella.

Event Reminder, Thursday, 5 PM, MIT, and Here Are Some Directions (ETA: And Parking Info!)

This is your friendly reminder that on Thursday, from 5 to 7 PM, Marah Gubar, Kenneth Kidd and I will be speaking about darkness, dystopia, and trauma in YA literature at MIT. Should be pretty cheery. Please join us. :o)

The MIT campus can be a bit bewildering for outsiders (possibly also for insiders), so here are some directions to the event at 66-110 on the MIT campus:

66-110 stands for room 110 in building 66. Building 66 (also called the Ralph Landau Building) is on Ames St in Cambridge. The street address for the building is 25 Ames Street. If you're coming from Kendall Square, walk away from the Longfellow Bridge (keep the Kendall Hotel on your left and the Marriott on your right) down Main St. until you see Ames St. Take a left on Ames (the Koch Institute is right on the corner) and walk 2 minutes until you see the MIT List Center on your left. Across the street on your right is building 66. The side of the building that you'll enter comes to a sharp point (66 is shap…

Warm Day Randutiae

In the category of It's All Relative, it's 41°F (5°C) and raining today, I was just outside, I was wearing a light long-sleeve shirt and jeans but no coat, no hat, no scarf, no longjohns, and it was GLORIOUS. It's not supposed to snow again until tomorrow. :D?It turns out I was wrong about two things about the event last night. First of all, it was totally snowing. Secondly, it was also snowing in New York, which meant that poor Marie spent an hour or so sitting on her plane on the runway before they finally canceled her flight. Marie was not able to make it to last night's event. Waaah! I did my best to read from The Winner's Crime and talk up her beautiful series. Happy book birthday, Marie. Here in Cambridge, we miss you. Thank you, everyone, for coming out on a snowy night!Via Rebecca Rabinowitz, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/CFIDS/ME has a new name: SEID, systemic exertion intolerance disease. It's also the focus of some new attention. This is wonderful news fo…

Event Reminder

This is your friendly reminder that tomorrow evening, Tuesday, March 3 at 7 PM, Marie Rutkoski and I will be at the Harvard Book Store for a Q&A and signing. Marie will read briefly from her new book, The Winner's Crime. I think I'm going to read (VERY briefly) from Fire. Then we will brilliantly pepper each other with brilliant questions before turning it over to the brilliant audience. We will all be very smart and incisive. You don't want to miss it. And at the moment, it's not even snowing, nor is it supposed to be snowing Tuesday evening. Hope to see you there!

Looking ahead, my MIT Communications Forum is March 19. I'm happily doing some reading and rereading in preparation for that, as well. At the moment, it's Andrew Smith's Grasshopper Jungle. Next up, Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now.

Tax Season, Semi-Frozen Waves, and Beethoven

Today my friend B linked me to these beautiful pictures of semi-frozen waves in Nantucket, taken by photographer Jonathan Nimerfroh. And now I'm linking you.

In other news... it's been a while since I geeked out about Beethoven on the blog. In recent days, the symphonies have been my background music. A few days back, I listened to the seventh intentionally, because I needed to calm down and I knew the peaceful repetition would help (as opposed to the strident repetition of the fifth, which I knew would not help!). Then, when the seventh came to an end, the ninth began playing automatically. I have this problem wherein once the ninth starts playing, I need to listen through to the end. It doesn't matter what other thing I was supposed to be doing; now I'm listening to Beethoven's ninth. When it ends, I certainly do not feel that I've wasted my time. My chosen recordings are Christoph von Dohnányi and the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus.

Have an hour and thirte…

On Writing: The more complicated and unusual the book, the more the little things matter.

The book I'm revising right now has an unusual structure and an unusual narrative voice. For the reader who isn't looking for a puzzle or a job, it has the potential to be a bit offputting. My job is to help that reader wherever I can. I want that reader to feel grounded, pulled in, and welcome in this book; I don't want any reader to feel frustrated and confused!

The unusual structure and the unusual narrative voice are integral to the book, so neither is something I'm willing to abandon. But I find myself doing a lot of other, little things throughout – things that happen on the sentence and word level – to help the reader wherever I can. I'm not sure if these things are working as well as I hope they're working, but I thought I'd share them, just in case any other writers out there are in a similar situation of trying to help the reader get a hold on a weird and complicated book.
When faced with the option of using either a pronoun (he, she, it, etc.) or…

"Mom, It's Time We Had the Talk"

Go listen to my friend Amanda MacGregor and her eight-year-old son Callum talk about sex on the podcast The Longest Shortest Time. It's twenty-two minutes long and wonderful. Amanda and Callum, I salute you.

In case you were wondering, at this exact moment, it's not snowing, but it was snowing earlier and I have no doubt it will snow again momentarily. It's difficult to get around as a pedestrian – there is no footing or visibility, often you need to wade through a small, slushy river, and, because of the snow mountains, you basically have to walk into the street in order to figure out if there are any cars coming – and the drivers are MAD. They are mad all the time, at everyone. I'm thinking perhaps the city should set up seated massage stations at every street corner to help with the frayed nerves. Parking is impossible and everything is getting cancelled. Jamie told me this morning that the Boston Globe recently tweeted something along the lines of, For the foresee…

Five Emails and Several Pictures on the Topic of SNOW

It's becoming difficult to take pictures that convey the absurdity of the situation here in the Boston area. The pictures just don't do it justice (and it's hard to get a full view of anything, because backing up quickly puts you against a snowbank). It's not unusual to walk down a badly-shoveled sidewalk with walls of snow to either side that are taller than you are. I would say that on any given street where parking is allowed (which isn't many streets), 60% of the cars are mostly covered with deep snow and 20% of the cars are so deeply buried that they're invisible. The icicles are, um, LARGE.

First email today from Becca:
This poor dude is standing on top of a snowbank right outside my window and trying to scoop/shovel down into it. His face looks very perplexed. I can only assume that he knows that somewhere inside that snowbank is his car. The snowbank is way too big to show any hint of it though. I wonder if he’s positive this is where his car is or if he…