- Still. working. on. it. (Though going well, on track I think, etc.) In the meantime, a few links.
- At the First Second blog, some reasons titles get changed.
- Writing fight scenes, advice from some experts: "The most common mistake is probably the one that cannot really be corrected. Most fight scenes with weapons go on too long. The saying in the Filipino arts that I do is there are only three good stick fights: thud; click, thud; click, click, thud. Anything else means you don’t really know how to fight. Since most of the time, stories are about extraordinary people with extreme skills, fights that last minutes–even a minute–are unrealistic."
- A profile of the divine Liz Hand.
- PW covers a panel on the YA blockbuster.
- I do love a missing (or imaginary) island.
- Fantasy heroines from the 1980s in art nouveau renderings; love these.
- Daniel Handler interviewed in the NYT: "You have to wonder if dictators muse about how scary they are to certain young generations. Nowadays, with social networking, you could actually just name somebody. That would be terrifying if you were a dictator and you said, “There’s no one I hate more than such and such,” an 11-year-old in Lincoln, Neb."
- Midori Snyder pulls out some of the Voynich Manuscript's most lovely pages.
- A nice Blackwood shout-out in Heroes & Heartbreaker's recent look at some YA and romance novels being adapted for the screen. (If you haven't seen the gorgeous first teaser trailer for the City of Bones movie, then what are you waiting for? It's also at that link. I. cannot. wait.)
- And another one among these recommendations from Suzanna Hermans of Oblong Books on WAMC–the one and only Libba Bray and I will be at Oblong at 4 p.m. on December 9. Come out if you can. (I'll also be in NYC briefly before and after.)
- With that, I'm back to work.
Three days off to concentrate, and one last act to revise (aka mostly write) of the new novel. Can it be done?
Techniques to be employed:
Now–armed with my golden coffee mug of truth and invisible typewriter–off to work I go.
(But as I said elsewhere: So much I'm thankful for this year and so, so many people I'm thankful to. That includes all of you who stop by here. Love to you guys.)
p.s. So far so good. Also, thing too cool not to share:
- Part one of Erin Keane's Gift Guide for Salon suggests Blackwood for the Suzy Bishops (from Moonrise Kingdom) in your life, featuring perhaps my favorite description of the book ever as "a weird book for weird girls." I adored Moonrise Kingdom and all Suzy's fake YA novels, so this is an especially happy-making thing. Lots of great suggestions, and I think the concept of theming the guide around some of the year's most iconic characters is what sets it apart from the usual and makes it so much fun.
My hugest thanks to you guys for the congratulations and excitement here, there, and everywhere about the Blackwood TV deal. I promise I will try not to be obnoxious about the BIG news, but because it was announced late Friday and many people spend the weekend away from the computron (freaks! I kid…because I'm a shut-in–at least until I finish this new manuscript):
Here's the Deadline story and my post about it from Friday night (see also: io9). It's wonderful to be able to share this news with all of you and stop being coy, and I hope you'll keep your fingers crossed for the project as it proceeds. I am obviously THRILLED.
And now a few other links:
- Locus put up my review of David Levithan's fabulous Every Day from this month's issue.
- "The Myth of the Fake Geek Girl" by Rachel Edidin (an Associate Editor at Dark Horse Comics) at io9.
- Most writers who know Holly Black also know that she is a book whisperer. Mette Harrison shares some of the magic after listening to the master at work at World Fantasy: part one and part two.
- A great interview with the delightful William Alexander at Publishers Weekly, following his wonderful middle grade debut Goblin Secrets' win at the National Book Awards in the young readers category. YAY.
- "The Dudes of YA, a 'Lit-Erotic' Photospread."
- Finally, monkeys riding a capybara. (Via Jenny D.)
MTV has put in development Blackwood, a drama from Lionsgate Television and Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Prods. It is based on the young adult book of the same name by Gwenda Bond, which was published this past September on the Strange Chemistry YA imprint of UK-based science fiction publisher Angry Robot Books. DC Comic book and television writer Peter Calloway (Brothers & Sisters) will write the adaptation.
Perhaps now my obnoxious secret-keeping can be forgiven? I AM OBVIOUSLY VERY EXCITED.
My hugest thanks to Brian Taylor (and everyone else at Grammnet, of course), Lionsgate TV, writer Peter Calloway, and to my faaaabulous agents Jenn Laughran of Andrea Brown and Nate Matteson of Gotham Group. And to MTV(!). You are all awesome amazing crazymazing. (Also, goes without saying but saying it anyway, thanks to Amanda Rutter and the rest of the SC/AR team.)
Before you ask: does this mean Blackwood will definitely be a TV show on MTV? Not yet, no, but certainly it is an excellent starting point for that to happen. I am beyond thrilled with the team behind this, and it's the perfect network, so I'm extremely hopeful and cannot wait to see how the development proceeds. What's been done so far has been fabulous.
You all know how much I love TV, so in short:
Look out, Snoopy, there is a lot of happy dancing going on here. I feel so incredibly lucky and grateful for this entire year.
Updated to add:
- io9 on the news (Thank you, guys!)
- Let's get this link party started with a fantastic kickstarter I urge you to support. John Picacio–who's been nominated for or won every fantasy/SF art award under the sun, and deservedly so–is launching a new business. First up is the 2013 John Picacio Calendar, filled with amazing art and which you can snag exclusively via his kickstarter (plus other bonus goodies, depending on your contribution level). I've known John for years, and I suspect his world domination is nigh. And it couldn't happen to a more talented, nicer, or harder-working guy.
- Alexander McCall Smith on the allure of lady detectives in fiction, celebrating a new edition of the book featuring the very first fictional woman sleuth.
- Pyromaniac fun with candles just in time for Thanksgiving.
- Fairy wrens and secret passwords.
- The nine circles of Dante's Hell…in lego.
- I found this comparison of women's magazine covers when they launched and now fascinating. (That first Glamour cover!)
- Laini Taylor on independent bookstores, e-reading, and more. So much of this resonated with me. Yes.
- An editor's perspective on editorial letters at Pub Crawl.
- Truly excellent interview with Philip Pullman–I was surprised by his superstitions. Snippet: "This is the value for me of writing books that children read. Children aren't interested in the least about your appalling self-consciousness. They want to know what happens next. They force you to tell a story." Also: A His Dark Materials TV show really could be amazing.
- This post by Kathy at Stellar Four about YA novels where male and female characters work together as equals made me very happy, not least because it includes my Phillips and Miranda in its list of couples.
- And last, my KidLit Cares auction item ends tonight at 10 p.m. EST. I'm offering a 50 page SFF critique, with bonus spitballing or pitch help via phone or email if the writer so chooses.
- And now it's back to work. End in sight, deadlines swirling, etcetera.
- Happy Wednesday, because yes, yes, it is one. To celebrate, a collection of many links…
- An excellent Vulture interview with Callie Khouri about Nashville et things. Snippet: "We’re constantly looking for songs that we love, and then we write towards them. We go, “Here’s where we’re starting, story-wise,” and then as we go along, we get a bunch of songs that we know we want to record, and we record a block of them. Then we just start folding them into story at various points." (You are watching this show, right? RIGHT?)
- I've been remiss in not pointing to the indiegogo to help revitalize legendary and amazing children's/YA bookstore Books of Wonder. Go here for more info and to pitch in; they've got two weeks left and are less than halfway to their goal.
- The entire archive of Omni magazine is online.
- Also via io9: freaky dancing pig.
- The New York Times hit Kentucky's doughnut trail. Combine it withthe bourbon one, and you know you want to come visit.
- Getting ready to entertain for the holidays or need a great cookbook for a gift? I can't believe I haven't mentioned the FABULOUS Kim O'Donnel's brand-new cookbook, The Meat Lover's Meatless Celebrations, the follow-up to her The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook, which is a stand-by in our house. Here's a great review of the new one. (I believe we test-kitchened at least one recipe in here and it was AMAZEBALLS. Must get a copy and try the rest, stat.)
- The cat cafe culture of Tokyo at Messy Nessy Chic.
- Fascinating Slate look at the National Book Awards intrigue in 1962, the year Walker Percy's The Moviegoer won. (Semi-related: In Nancy Pearl's recent Locus magazine interview, she said The Moviegoer didn't hold up for her when she went back for a reread. Which has now made me afraid to read it again, since I loved it the first time around. Ah, here's a post from Pearl about her disappointing revisit.)
- Why Authors Are Crazy tumblr. (Hat tip to Malinda Lo for the pointer.)
- The most excellent Carrie Ryan has a brand-new book out, the second in the Infinity Ring series, Divide and Conquer.
- PW covered the KidLit Cares auction.
- Great post on showing and telling from Zoë Marriott.
- The always super-smart Beth Revis on why sometimes you have to delete to move ahead with a project…and why that is winning.
- Tie-in dolls from Twilight, LOTR, The Vampire Diaries, and others repainted to insanely realistic results.
Kate Messner's amazing KidLit Cares effort to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief is growing by the moment, with more fabulous stuff up for grabs all the time and people adding onto existing auction items. I'm kicking in a science fiction or fantasy partial critique, with some extras.
Still very much thinking of you, east coasters.
(And now back to getting actual writing done (!) — I know, I can't believe it either. Apparently the car crash I luckily walked away from on Friday scared the stasis right out of me.)
My thoughts and sympathies are with everyone hit so hard by Hurricane Sandy and her downward spiral into destruction this week. My agent sister Kate Messner (who is generally amazing) has started the KidLit Cares auction to raise funds for relief efforts. I'm currently trying to decide what to donate, but will post here once my contribution goes up in case anyone's interested in bidding.
And Happy NaNoWriMo to those participating! I'm not doing it, but I am finishing this revision this month, hell or high water, as they say, and plan to suck all that novel-y energy that's in the air right in. Annd another member of the household just might be officially word counting in order to novel finish, not novel start. (If you're hoping it's Emma the Dog, well, you'll have to wait a while longer for her opus, I'm afraid. She has no thumbs.)
- For the NaNo-ers, a helpful post from Sarah MacLean.
- How old is that bourbon? Why it probably doesn't matter, and may even be better younger.
- Famous writer maladies revealed! (My favorite book like this is the excellently titled Boswell's Clap and Other Essays.)
- Creepy Wikipedia entries.
- Real-life Island of the Blue Dolphins cave found?
- The delightful Sarah Rees Brennan talks cliffhangers.
- A great post from Robin LaFevers on creating character, which invokes Michael Hauge's theory of identity vs. essence, and other really helpful things.
- I loved Robin Wasserman's post about what scares her. Yesss, amorphous evil. My favorite kind.
- The one and only Beth Revis is running an ENORMOUS giveaway, a library of about fifty signed books from everyone she's done an event with this year, to celebrate the upcoming release of the last book in the Across the Universe trilogy.
Last night's event at Joseph-Beth was a great deal of fun–especially since I fully expected to be talking to my parents and Christopher, given cold, miserable weather, but ended up with a good-sized crowd filled with a few familiar faces and more unfamiliar ones. So thanks to all of you guys who came out and, of course, to the wonderful Joseph-Beth crew, as ever and always. MWAH.
Anyway, as promised, I told a little ghost story, which I had to preface with my general ghost story disclaimer. Which is, the ghost stories I tend to tell people come from my family members–primarily my grandmothers–and like most such stories that come from people relating their own personal tales of spooky happenings (or those of people they know/knew well), they tend not to really be story-shaped in the general way we think of stories. They aren't so much about an arc, a beginning-middle-and-end, as they are about an experience that happened to someone. If there's a revelation or overarching meaning, it's usually on the part of the person who experienced it. But, often as not, it's just a shared incident, a "this happened to me and it was strange and now I'm telling you about it" or "here is a seriously weird thing someone told me happened to them." Not to say there aren't masterfully shaped ghost stories that are stories, but they aren't usually the ones I tell. And I find the open-endedness of these ghost vignettes, let's call them, can be satisfying in an entirely different way. (And, in this sense, I believe in them the way I believe in all stories.)
SO, I thought I'd tell one here in honor of Halloween.
The one I told last night is from my paternal grandmother, and happened to her when she was a kid. It involves seeing a long table laid out with a sumptuous feast and people eating and drinking (but without sound she could hear) in the middle of a usually deserted field while she was on the way to feed the cows. I'm not going to tell that one here, because you can read a probably-more-satisfying version of it in Kelly Link's fabulously creepy "Two Houses," in the Ray Bradbury tribute anthology Shadow Show. (Bonus: There's also a borrowed creepy story of Christopher's in there, too.)
But here's another family ghost story, which I've dressed up a little for the occasion, but not too much…
There was this two-story house way back in the woods, off a certain ridgeline. It's abandoned now, but she remembers when people lived there. That was a long time ago, when she was a little girl. The family was tight-knit, but not from around the area originally. They moved in from somewhere vague, and never really fit in. After a few years living there, someone in the family died–maybe more than one someone–but no one can ever remember who it was. It might have been the older brother, away fighting a war, or the mother from some lingering illness. Maybe it was even the little girl. But the death devastated the family. They lost their money. They lost the house.
They left. The house was in an isolated area to begin with. It was a place that only became more and more isolated as roadways got established elsewhere. The road left to it was basically a deserted dirt track. No one else ever moved in, and no one knows who owns it, if anyone does. The bank might, if they bothered to claim it. The unmowed yard grew up all around it, and the trees kept watch. But mostly it was a forgotten place.
(photo courtesy of JanZio, not actual house in question)
Except, of course, not entirely forgotten. After a few years, there were some teenagers who remembered the family had lived there, and thought they'd go check it out. She was with them. One of them claimed the younger girl in the family told him a ghost story about the house. There's a single wide chimney that runs along the far side of it, two fireplaces stacked on top of each other–one on the first floor and one on the second. The girl told him that if you took off your shoes and put them in front of the fireplace on the top floor, then went back downstairs, your shoes would be waiting for you in front of the bottom fireplace. But only if you do it by yourself.
It seemed harmless and silly to try it. So, she said she would. She went in alone while the rest waited outside. She comes out ten minutes later, just as they're starting to worry, holding her shoes dangling from her hands and laughing. She swears to them that she went upstairs and put her shoes in front of the dusty fireplace, then picked her way down the rickety stairs to check. She swears it felt like someone was watching her as she found the shoes waiting there, just as promised, picked them up and came outside. But here she is, fine, holding her shoes.
No one else goes in to try it. Maybe they believe her, maybe they don't. I went and found the house with three friends when I was in high school, many years later. It was still standing, but barely. There were empty beer bottles on the porch. We dared each other to go upstairs and leave our shoes, but no one would go in alone. It was too dark that night, even with our flashlights.
And I don't think I'd have had the guts to try it anyway. I've always wondered, what happens if the house decides not to give them back?
Happy Halloween, everyone.