Do you have an account with skullsunlimited.com? I do! Why do I have a skull account? Well, though I wish it was in order to buy that awesome owl-monkey skull right there (can you believe those eye sockets??), or perhaps a freaky vampire bat skull, it is not. Skulls are expensive. I was only buying claws. To be specific, grizzly bear, polar bear, mountain lion, wolf, bald eagle, harpy eagle, barn owl, and red-tailed hawk. They're replicas, actually, but super-realistic.
Why, though? I'm gathering props for some school visits! There's more to the plan than claws. See, I have a few events coming up this spring where I will be speaking to kids younger than my book's target audience. At one local school I'll be talking to 200-some K-3 little ones, and I've been cooking up some fun things to do with younger kids that still touch on themes in my book. I have some really fun ideas, and they involve butterfly and dragonfly specimens, a suitcase full of pink wigs, and a carved, velvet-lined box full of claws. I think they'll really like it! I think that if I was a six-year-old I would think it was pretty cool to be named "guardian of the claws" for the day, and to be in charge of a fabulous carved chest full of claws! Don't you? Another cool thing I was thinking of doing is having my laptop and camera with me, with a Photoshop document all ready to go so I can import some kids' photos and show them what they'd look like with Rathersting clan tattoos on their face, or with butterfly wings. Yes?
I had so much fun brainstorming ideas this morning before meeting with some parents and teachers -- I almost let skulls unlimited.com get the better of me. I mean, for a second I almost convinced myself I needed an owl monkey skull! If you're wondering what owl monkeys look like with flesh, here:
Cuties, no? They're the only nocturnal new world monkeys. They pair for life, and the papa monkey helps carry the baby sometimes -- I don't know if that's unusual in monkeys, but it's cute.
Anyway, Silksinger update: my poor editor Tim has not yet been able to start reading it! I envision him partially buried beneath a mountain of paper, trying to claw his way out. (Maybe he needs to borrow my new claw collection. Or, maybe I need to order him some claws of his own. I know what kind he would want: wolverine claws.) But anyway, this is good for me, because the longer the break from it right now, the more refreshed my brain will be to get to work on the next draft! I'm beginning to get excited about it again, after feeling so burnt and weary of it.** The other day Tim asked me to write a synposis of it for a French publisher who may be interested in buying rights for Blackbringer and Silksinger. (Fingers crossed, please please please, oh beautiful French publisher, please Frenchify my book!) Here's the synopsis:
Whisper Silksinger is not a warrior like Magpie Windwitch. She is a defenseless young scamperer, a weaver of flying carpets, and the last keeper of her clan’s ancient secret. When a plague of devils attacks her isolated island home she is forced to flee alone into the huge, terrifying world, with nothing but a battered tea kettle and the ember that smolders within it. That ember -- her secret and her burden -- is none other than the Azazel, one of the seven Djinn who wrought the world, and Whisper must make her way over the world’s highest mountains to restore him to his throne. Along the way she will join a dragonfly caravan of hobgoblin spice traders, and meet Hirik, a young faerie mercenary with a dangerous secret of his own.
All the while, Magpie, Talon, the crows, and their grudging companion, Batch Hangnail, are on her trail, hoping to find Whisper and the Azazel before the devils do. It’s a desperate quest, because if another Djinn should die, the Tapestry of Creation will fail, and the world with it.
“Silksinger” takes place not in Dreamdark but across Asia, from the jungles of Borneo and the mysterious islands of Halong Bay, all the way up to the highest peaks of the Himalayas. It’s a world of fortune-tellers and silk, witch doctors and spice, superstitious hobgoblins, scimitar-weilding mercenaries, and of course, devils.
Whisper and Hirik are intriguing new characters whose powerful, unexpected magic will play an important role in the battles to come, as new foes rise and the devil armies of the Dawn Days are unleashed once more on the world.
When I was working on that, I started to get really excited about the book again!
If all this claw and skull business has made you want to start a collection of your own, check out skulls unlimited, and this wonderful site, acorn naturalists, an educational resource for teaching science. And speaking of teaching science, check out this cool post by my sister about her recent trip to an elementary school in California to share her love of snakes with the kids. Look at the delight on the kids' faces as they handle the snakeys! My mom was telling me today how my niece, when she was small, caught a baby garter snake in the yard, no bigger than a worm, and used it as a living necklace for her Bratz doll!! ha ha!
**This great post by Sara Lewis Holmes is about how "forgetfulness" is very helpful to the revision process. I agree!
And here are a few claws. Grizzly bear:
And golden eagle:
And you know what's crazy? They're almost the same size. Golden eagles' talons are huge for their body size, and strong enough to crush a human skull. WOW.