- 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.
Happy Monday! If you're in the path of uber-storm, please stay safe. Here's hoping this is another one that won't be as bad as expected–though looking at the scary satellite photos makes that seem unlikely. Here in the Bluegrass we don't expect much except some moderate wind and rain (with snow in the mountains), at least at this point. Which means if you are in these pleasantish environs you should DEFINITELY come out to Joseph-Beth tomorrow night for my pre-Halloween event there.
The details: Tuesday, October 30, at 6 p.m., Joseph-Beth Lexington, me discussing and signing Blackwood. Be there or be square. (Should you be attending the Walking Dead creator event at UK, I think you'll still have plenty of time to get there. Do both!) In addition to talking about Blackwood and taking questions, I plan to tell at least one ghost story and I might, depending how things go, read a short scene from The Woken Gods.
(If you can't make it but want a personalized copy or want to order one if you're elsewhere, then I'm sure the store would be happy to hook you up. Here's their contact info.)
A couple of other quick things:
- Last night I participated in the groupwatch/live tweet of The Flowers in the Attic movie that Leila put together. She has now storified the results over at Bookshelves of Doom. It was fun, and hopefully we'll do it again with another movie soonish.
- And I'm guest posting over at Sons of Corax today about names in Blackwood, their significance and how I came up with a few of them.
And yes! I'm still waiting for the big news to be share-able, which should happen anytime. Keeping secrets is hard. But soon. Soooon.
- At io9: 8 Alleged Resting Places of the Ark of the Covenant.
- A truly must-read interview with the fabulous Cassie Clare at RaceBending.com. Snippet: "As long as the idea that “white is mainstream” remains endemic in the media I think this will be a problem. Individual writers who are lucky enough to have some say over their covers can fight it on an individual level. But most writers are not that lucky."
- Claire LeGrand on debut author anxiety.
- A good post about conquering "spinach scenes" at YA Highway.
- Kiersten White on the secret to getting published. (Note: There is no secret.)
- Cheryl Klein makes some changes to her plot checklist.
- There is Flowers in the Attic BUSINESS AFOOT at Leila's.
- Movie Star Makeover has been doing a wonderful series of posts on Edith Head. The latest.
- A photo journey through Roswell and Area 51 at the Awl.
- As part of the YALSA Hub's month-long series on the next big thing in YA, Erin Daly proposes one of those is more Fringe readalikes, books I admire are discussed and Blackwood is mentioned. (Miranda would be pleased.)
- Speaking of very nice shout-outs for le book, I was delighted by the three for Friday rec last week from a bookshop I hope to someday visit, Mostly Books in Abingdon-on-Thames. (Especially since I also adore Sara Zarr's How to Save a Life and am very much looking forward to reading the Raven Boys.)
- And one last little Blackwood-related piece of geekery. The Kentucky Reading Association people (who are absolutely fab) had arranged for table centerpieces at the author luncheon, specific to the author at that table's book. Here was mine:
There's even FREAK graffiti on the car! I was allowed to take this home and it now lives–slightly rearranged–on the mantlepiece in the office. And it was such fun hanging out with the lovely attendees and getting a good chunk of chatter time with Bethany Griffin and Saundra Mitchell, whose table displays were also super-cool. (And Saundra and I managed to get signing tables next to each other after lunch, which enabled us to both pimp each other's books and gab-gab-gab). Suffice to say: yay.
- I haven't actually gotten a chance to read all today's links yet, but I had too many open tabs…so I'm stashing them here to read later. In fact, I fear I'm going to have to mostly disappear for a couple/few weeks, because I really, really, really want to get this draft in shape sooner rather than later, but it's scary and so I need to get rid of Time Frittery. Filed under, the dangers of fragmented attention and shiny (or matte) distractions when inhabiting draftville. (And I'll break out of revision jail if SECRET NEWS becomes share-able, of course.)
- Chuck Wendig did a MARVELOUS interview with Margaret Atwood yesterday. Let's make mauve happen, mauve it.
- R.L. LaFevers on "The Seven Stages of Publishing Grief (or Hello Darkness, My Old Friend) at Writer Unboxed. Along the same lines, Rachel Gardner on "Big Dreams vs. Realistic Expectations." (This BondGirl confesses that she usually expects the worst and then is pleasantly surprised.)
- The Top 10 Essays Since 1950.
- Dutch museum art heist. I can never resist a heist story.
- Two of my favorite io9 pieces this week: "7 Scientific Facts That Will Ruin Movies for You" and "How to Stop Nightmares from Destroying Your Sleep."
- Study finds that young blood can reverse some signs of aging. A dystopian in the making…
- A new and excellently creepy Genevieve Valentine story at Nightmare, "Good Fences" (which I can vouch is excellent because Christopher read it on her behalf at WorldCon).
- The portal fantasy discussion.
- Six tests of a solid story premise.
- Amy Rose Capetta on theme.
- Nashville! Please watch this show–it's by far my favorite of the new ones and looks like it could be truly wonderful if it gets the chance to live. Even if you don't like country music, if you like good writing, complicated situations, and well-drawn, interesting characters, check it out. /TV PSA
- And, last, on Saturday I'll be at the Kentucky Reading Association's annual conference as a guest at the author luncheon. (At which I'll finally get to meet the fabulous Saundra Mitchell and fellow Kentucky author Bethany Griffin in real-live personhood, as they're also guests.) I'm very much looking forward to meeting the educators, librarians, and others there (book people, I love you), and if any of you out there reading this happen to be going, then please do come and say hello.
Five things to share today, so a quick update. I’m knuckling down on the second half of this revision and staring down the barrel of jury duty later this month, with more revising of a different project coming soonish…so probably this will be a season of less frequent updating. (But if anyone has requests or suggestions for a particular topic for a blog post, then let me know in the comments or at twitter or via email and I’ll do my best to work it in.) Also, hello lovely visitors by way of Vampire-Diaries.net. *waves*
- First things first:
Received confirmation this morning that barring mega-earthquakes, volcanic explosions, or other large-scale protests from the Earth, the release month for The Woken Gods will in fact be next July! (Which means there will probably soon be an official description and maybe preordering type links. Cover discussion has tentatively begun. In the meantime, if you want to know more there’s this.) Cue *nerves*. Not that there is going to be time for them.
- Second things second:
Are you in Kentucky, particularly near Lexington? Then you should come out to the fabulous Joseph-Beth Booksellers on Tuesday, October 30, at 6 p.m. I will be discussing Blackwood and telling a scary ghost story or two in honor of Halloween and taking your questions and I might even share a little snippet from the new book, time permitting. (Signed copies of Blackwood make a great stocking stuffer–and Christmas will be here before you know it. Just saying!) I dropped by the store last Friday and was a bit woozy to see that I have a table display and an event banner:
This is particularly cool and surreal because this is the bookstore that first taught me what a wonderland bookstores could be. It was basically my favorite destination as soon as I discovered it in high school, having before only had access to a WaldenBooks (which was itself an hour away). And the team from Joseph-Beth has been absolutely wonderful to me. *draws hearts in air* This one should be fun. So, cooome out, okay? Okay.
- Third things third (you see how this is going, right?):
New audiobook review from Bob Reiss of the excellently named audiobook-focused blog, The Guilded Earlobe: “Blackwood is a strong YA tale with themes that permeate the label but are done in a unique and engaging way. The strength of this novel is in its characters. Bond created two engaging protagonists, and a slew of secondary players that are well developed.”
Want to sample said audiobook? I thought you’d never ask. The folks at AudioGo have just put up a youtube clip for your sampling pleasure.
- Fourth comes fourth:
Two things absolutely made my day yesterday. The first was a review from Delaney, age 12, in the October issue of the Sacramento Book Review. Snippet: “Blackwood was an amazing book! … This book was an excellent mystery, full of romance, ghosts, ancient curses, historical figures, betrayal, and so much more. I loved how the already intriguing mystery of the Lost Colony was given some unexpected twists and turns. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery and magic.” (Thanks to the one and only Bookalicious Pam for the pointer.) *beam*
- Fifth and final:
The other thing that made my day was this photo from Ballou High School:
— Colleen Mondor (@chasingray) October 15, 2012
You can see another photo of books arriving and read more about the impact the Ballou High School book fair has over at Guys Lit Wire. To whoever sent my book to Ballou, my love to you, kind soul. And if you haven’t sent a book via the Powell’s wishlist yet, there’s still plenty of great ones left to choose from.
Annd that’s it from me today. Have a great week, everybody.
- So I blogged almost every day this week AND I've gotten a lot of writing and other things done. Mercury must be in whatever the opposite of retrograde is. (Though I'm still a leetle behind on email; tends to happen when the writing is going well. Feel free to ping me again if it's something you need a response on right away.)
- This weekend I'm getting around to packaging up Blackwood bookmarks for those who requested them. This is the last call (for now, at least) for booksellers, librarians or teachers who want some. Just get in touch and let me know how many you'd like sometime before Sunday. More details here.
- Speaking of bookmarks, the fabulous Megan Miranda has some available for her forthcoming Hysteria if you're interested.
- Two wonderful Lois Lowry-related links: the one and only Robin Wasserman has a great review of Son in this weekend's NYTBR (fancy!) and the singular Kate Milford wrote a fantastic post about Lowry and the importance of dark stories (prepare to tear up).
- A reminder that Christopher has a brand-new story up at Eclipse Online, "The Contrary Gardener," featuring some of my favorite robots in recent memory and a trip to the Derby of the future. Perfect weekend reading.
- I know you've heard all about the Humble Bundle already, but here's another pointer to it.
- The Atlantic looks at the fascinating things Coliloquy is doing with reader-directed stories, including many comments from the lovely Holly McDowell and Heidi Kling.
- Worried about your Amazon author rank? Worry no more! Instead take a look at Annalee Newitz's "7 Signs We Are Heading for a Mass Extinction." Now that's something to worry about. (See also: Scalzi being sensible about the rankings.)
- The Smithsonian has a must-read piece about "The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson." (Via Colleen.)
- Jason Pinter on why books don't have to earn out for publishers to make money, particularly with big deals like Lena Dunham's.
- A typically wonderful and wise piece from Alexander Chee, this time for the Awl on lies writers tell themselves.
- The Awl also had a nice look at Ursula Nordstrom and Maurice Sendak's editorial relationship this week.
- And one last reminder, I'll be in Louisville for the Writer's Block Festival tomorrow for a YA panel at 1 p.m. featuring Katrina Kittle (Reasons to Be Happy) and Kelly Creagh (the Nevermore series) and moderated by Matt Jaeger, and around to sign afterward. Hope to see some of you there.