Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Seize Your Life

This is a new lady design I've been working on this morning. I love this quote!

Here's another one I love but don't think would really connect with people as a "lady" -- "If you want to bake an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the Universe." -- Carl Sagan. SO awesome!! What is "scratch" anyway? Funny! I saw Cosmos on DVD at the store the other day and was tempted to buy it but did not ($$). Will Netflix instead.

Have a great Halloween!

Oh, and Alexandra has, shockingly, put up a new post. Read it HERE, especially if you are a single woman in the Boston area.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wordstock 07! (and robot pins, and knitting)

Hey you local yokels -- that is, Portland local yokels. Soon you will have a chance to come and hear me read choice passages from Blackbringer (and maybe from as-yet-unpublished works. . .) and. . . get a nifty "Not a Robot" pin! Never let it be said that I am above bribing people with 35-cent trinkets to come fill chairs at my events! They're cute though, no? Art, of course, by Jim. Oh, and even if you do NOT come to hear me read at Wordstock (Sunday, November 11, 2 pm on the kid's stage), you can still get a pin. Just keep a lookout for pink-haired chicks as you're out and about in Portland, and if you see one, approach and ask cautiously, "Excuse me, can I have a 'not a robot' pin?" If it's me, I'll give you one. If it's not, I'm not responsible for the looks you'll get. Oh, and it probably won't be me, since I rarely leave the house!

I did however, leave the house yesterday to meet a fabulous blog friend who had flown in from the extremely exotic location of. . . Ghor, Afghanistan. You all know her as "Frida" and I kept wanting to call her that, though (shhh...) it's not her real name. Here are Alexandra and I with Frida:

And here are Frida and Mel, a new blog (and local!) friend:

I've previously said Frida is kind of like Magpie's kindred spirit -- while the rest of us stay home snug in our houses and hometowns, she's out in Afghanistan (and previously Gaza), making the world better on a local level for people who really, really need help. I have plans to interview her at length. I want to know more more more. What's it like, that life? What's the world like? In the few hours we spent book-browsing and drinking hibiscus "mojitos" and eating "live fudge" I got in my share of naive questions, but I tried not to grill her. Let it just be said: smart, world-aware, compassionate, extraordinary, and beautiful woman. Find her words HERE and her photographs HERE.

(And, nerdily, I must share the exciting news that she knows kiwi celebs "Germaine and Brett" -- if you know who they are, {mwah}, kindred spirit. If not, nevermind. She knows them. They actually exist as real human beings outside of HBO (hint to you non-knowers) and are from Wellington NZ (further hint), just like Frida herself. I imagine (perhaps very wrongly, no idea) there must be some quality of "Portlandiness" to Wellington if all the cool creative people just know each other like that. MUST go there! Have loved every kiwi I've ever met while traveling. Time to go to NZ!)

And on into writing and knitting news--

Writing. Wrote an action scene today and it swept me away. They do that. It's funny that I've turned out to love writing action -- in my early snooty days as an English major I would never have guessed! But there's just something about it. Action scenes take on momentum. And it's in the language too. When I'm writing action, my syntax changes. My sentences get blunt. Fast. The prose hurtles. One things slams into the next. It's immediate. The words are short. Powerful. Things happen fast. And then. . .

A moment of clarity. Shock.

Shift. I catch my breath. That is, the book catches its breath. Stops to take in what shattering thing has just happened and changed everything. Dang, it's exciting. I do generally try to make the syntax relay the mood of the scene. Long languid sentences for long languid scenes [pardon me -- a child is apparently being murdered outside and while I type this, Jim is going to check what all the screaming is about. If he comes back and reports a child was indeed murdered I will, of course, delete this insensitive sentence. I doubt, however, that it is real murder --- No, it wasn't. Just screaming. Carry on.] and quick short sentences for action. Gosh, language is fun. Jeepers.

And now: knitting. At long last, my stripey scarf:
You can't really tell but it's really long. Here are my first stripes and my first ribs. Yay! Love it.

And, my alpaca blanket:

It is so soft. I love it. Of course, after months of knitting without any big mistakes (mind, I tore it out and started over three times, but this time), I got a hole on almost the last row. Can you believe it? It's like a loose tooth. I just want to stick my finger through it and scowl. Oh well.

I'm on to other things now, things that involve size 15 needles. Yum. Oh yeah, and they're turbo needles. Yes, you non-knitters, knitting needles come in regular and turbo. What kind of person are you, regular, or turbo?

P.S. Jim and I received an important contract in the mail today (Woo hoo!) and are celebrating. Cheers! Cin-cin! A votre sante! And all that stuff.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Spiral-Bound - a great graphic novel for kids

So, it's summertime and the kids of Estabrook are off to music camp and to sculpture camp, and to work for the town's underground paper. Cool summer. Oh yeah, and the kids are elephants and mice and rabbits and giraffes. The sculpture teacher is a humpback whale in spectacles who drives around in a big glass water globe atop a bulldozer. The underground paper really is underground, and utilizes a whole system of secrets passageways and amusement-park-style rail cars to get around down there. And then, there's the monster in the town pond, and that's a whole lot of trouble.

This is Spiral-Bound by Aaron Renier, a wild and crazy 178-page, kid-friendly graphic novel put out by Top Shelf Productions. It's not brand-new, but it was one our friend Brett gave us last week when we were at his place. I love it. Even though I'm in the middle of a very gripping novel at the moment, when I picked up Spiral-Bound to leaf through it, it grabbed me and I ended up reading the whole thing. It's serious fun -- and perfect for kids. . . I don't know -- age 7 and up? There are submarines and monsters and rock bands, secret tunnels, cool treehouses and creepy abandoned parks. And there are the little details in the drawings, like a bat rolling out clay with a rolling pin, and a mouse playing a stand-up bass, and a ladybug fry cook in an apron! I know librarians are often on the lookout for comics for kids -- no superheroes or guns or gigantic busoms -- and this is a perfect one to know about. Check it out!

P.S. Like all Top Shelf's books, the production on this is awesome. It has rounded corners and the spine is printed to look like a spiral notebook with a pencil stuck in it. The first few pages and last few look like notebook paper with drawings and a map, and it's overall just high quality. Really good paper, cool design, and endorsements on the back from, among others, Dav Pilkey and Lemony Snicket. Wow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bookstores, Horror Movies, Extra Coffee

"Aw, lookit the cute little critter. . ."
"AAAHHHHHHHGG! He ate my face!!!"

Ha ha ha. Sorry. That's a tarsier. I love weird animals. Always have. When I was a kid I collected books on animals and memorized the genus and Latin name and range and all that stuff. Books. I was one book-buying kid. I don't have the same recollections of libraries that some kids have, mainly because we lived overseas and didn't have English-language libraries. My sweet book memories are all of the bookstores -- even the Navy PX in Naples or the Army one in SHAPE -- Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe -- how daunting a place name is that? It's in Mons, Belgium. We didn't live there, but in Brussels, and there was an English-language bookstore in Brussels somewhere. As I recall it had mostly British editions of Evelyn Waugh and such. I probably picked up some James Herriot there. Ah, bookstores of my youth, they were not the fabulous, sprawling pleasure palaces they are today, with coffee and soft chairs and thousands of square feet of hiding places! They didn't even have public bathrooms. And I remember that clearly because bookstores were just about my favorite place when I was a little kid, and as soon as we would walk into one I would have to go to the bathroom. Honestly. My parents still tease me about it! It would just kill my pleasure. I would still manage to gather a stack of books and my parents, they might not have bought me every single book I wanted, but I did okay.

I remember staying home sick from school one day and reading The Trumpet of the Swan. I loved that book. I loved that day, with my flexy straw and 7-Up and staying in my nightgown all day. Funny to think: my days now involve pajamas, books, and flexy straws (in water, not 7-Up). Living the dream.

Huh. I didn't know I was going to write that when I sat down. It's early. Our hour of rising has been slowly creeping a bit later and later, upward towards 7:30ish. Yesterday and today I made a big effort to skimble out of bed at the first -- okay, second sound of the alarm at 6. Made the usual trough of coffee and then Jim said he didn't want any, which means -- yippee!! -- double coffee for me this morning, which I would never do on purpose but if it's there, you know. . .

Okay. Pushing Daisies last night: still loving it. The weird one-eyed aunt sewed a stuffed parrot's wing onto a maimed carrier pigeon and. . . it flew! There were diamonds hidden in a girl's wooden leg! There were love letters and pie and windmills and dancing on the rooftop in beekeeping suits! This show was made for me. And the bluish dead people with disfigured faces? Okay, that was kind of made for me too. I've always been a horror fan. I can take shards of glass sticking out of someone's face.

However, I am beginning to sense a change in my horror-love. We couldn't finish 28 Weeks Later a few weeks ago. This has happened a couple of times, when we put on a horror movie (and we're discriminating to begin with -- we don't watch the greusome stuff. We like "scary," not "gory") -- as soon as the movie got started and the zombies started to attack, I had this weird feeling like I had no idea why I was watching this and I really didn't want to! We kept it on for a while but it was too gross. Had that same feeling of "Wait. . . why?" a while back watching the chic-horror-flic The Descent which turned out to be awesome and really, really fricking scary.

On Monday, we went to see a horror film I didn't even know was a horror film -- Sunshine by Danny Boyle (of Trainspotting fame and 28 Days -- but not Weeks-- Later. Jim wanted to see it on the big screen and it's almost out of the second-run theaters so we went to a late show on Monday night at the Laurelhurst, one of Portland's many awesome second-run movie houses with pizza and pints. This movie. Do you know of it? It kind of passed by unnoticed, and I think the trailer might have had something to do with it -- looked a little arty farty. It's a sci fi movie about a group of 8 scientist/astronauts flying an enormous nuclear bomb toward the dying sun in a last-ditch effort to reignite it and save Earth, which has been locked in a solar winter. We. . . loved it. I say it was a horror movie, and it was, but not like 28 Days Later or anything. It was one of the only times recently I've gone into a movie knowing almost nothing about it. Usually I've read reviews and know what to expect. Not with this, not really. That was cool.

As for writing: good writing day yesterday, which I partially attribute to the extra few morning hours. So important, as long as I don't blog them away! A new character popped up out of nowhere. That was fun. And in knitting news, with the very very few moments of knitting I allow myself, it is slow going but I am almost at long last finished with my soft as a cloud alpaca blanket. Yay! And I have found I have an unexpected hankering to learn some basic lace-knitting stitches so I can start doing cooler and trickier stuff. I found some patterns online, and once I'm finished with Silksinger I am going to start going to the Wednesday night open classes at Knit/Purl downtown and learn me some new things.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday at Powell's

Hey, Jay Asher, look what's at eye level on the teen recommended shelf at Powell's! The brand-new Thirteen Reasons Why, that's what! Pretty cool, eh? Here's another view:
And check it out, also well represented: Robin Brande!

I was so excited to see both of these books prominently displayed at Powell's yesterday! I've blogged about them both before, but if you missed those days, I highly recommend both of these books. Jay's book is about teen suicide, and the way things can snowball in a young person's head until it seems they have no other choice but to end their life. The quirk of the storytelling is that it is told in a series of 13 casette tapes that the dead girl has recorded to be listened to by her peers, one by one, after her death. Awesome book, and amazing the empathy Jay has for teenage girls -- his agent told him there must be a depressed teenage girl inside of him. Ha ha! And Robin's book is a totally fun & thought-provoking read about the issue of teaching evolution vs intelligent design in schools. I loved them both!

And of course, I was excited to visit my own book on the "new & noteworthy" shelf:
(That's it by my hand.) It was a warm-fuzzy trip to the bookstore for me -- right away upon walking in I caught sight of a woman browsing a well-stocked Laini's Ladies spinner rack and she had about ten in her hand like she couldn't decide! I couldn't resist talking to her and it turned out she was from Switzerland and had come back to Powell's before going home just to get some as gifts to take with. Yay! And then, to see a big stack of my books faced out on the "noteworthy" display. Yay!!!!!!

I [heart] Powell's Books. Being a shut-in lately, I hadn't been able to visit my book in any stores, so it was nice to get out and meet friends there yesterday. I've been wanting to add a regular feature to my blog called "Sundays at Powell's" as a way of keeping up on new releases and finding funky old titles too and just as an excuse to be at Powell's once a week. This might be the first! After doing a little shopping, Jim and I went with Amy & Sasha and Amy's mom Meryl and her husband Murray to the vegan cafe a few blocks away -- The Blossoming Lotus. We love this place. It's in the lobby of Yoga in the Pearl, and it's YUMMY. All vegan, organic, with lots of "live" options too, like live soup and pizza -- I don't totally know what that means, but it sounds pretty hardcore. And Woody Harrelson was eating there in the corner, mellow as can be and looking very cool. We don't see "celebrities" in Portland very often, so it was kind of exciting, though we all played it cool, like we see movie stars every day. ha ha.

Then, yesterday evening, it was my dad's early-birthday celebration, at which cupcakes made an appearance. And the hit gift of the night? From Alexandra, a three-pack of novelty eyebrows:
Happy birthday, Papa!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Laini's Ladies!

It's that time again -- the time to design new Laini's Ladies. It's a shift for me, both mentally -- from writing head to designing head -- and spatially -- from writing room to art studio. The lady above is at a halfway designed stage, but I saved a version just like this because I liked the simplicity of it. I did, however, go on to finish her dress and all.

So, four new ladies just hit the stores. These were a fun bunch for me, very bookish:

They also come as greeting cards, of course. Here's what those look like:

Laini's Ladies can be found in stores or can be purchased HERE.

So, our furnace installation is complete and -- WOW! The house is. . . comfortable. I feel a little stunned by this, I don't know why. I suppose I am easily stunned -- I am even a little stunned when eye drops work, or Tylenol takes my headache away. Kind of awed. The marvelous things that people have invented and discovered! Alexandra and I have had this discussion before, of what the world would be like if all people had brains like ours -- there would be no technology at all, only storytelling and cave painting! But anyway, that is one little spurt of boring "grownup stuff" that is over -- the furnace, the car (took it to the shop where it started right up and there was, apparently, nothing wrong with it at all!) and the dishwasher, which had been shutting itself off mid-cycle. When the electrician was out for the furnace we gave him a little $$ to fix that and it's all good now. Whew. I hope I don't have to do anything grownup like that again for a while. It's all so boring and expensive!

It's been an unusually social weekend for us, considering I have barely peeped my head out of the house in weeks! Friday we had dinner with California friends -- Amy, who I knew in highschool but really became friends with in college (she was "popular" in highschool, but she was one of the good popular people. Actually, though my school WAS in Orange County and typical of the schools you see on TV in so many ways, the upper crust of popularity there was not bitchy. And I say that disinterestedly because I was most certainly not a part of it.) Anyway, Amy is in town with her husband Sasha who she met while in Ukraine with Peace Corps and who now has his dream job working for the company that makes World of Warcraft! They have two beautiful little boys with Russian names and this is their first time away from them!

Then, last night, planning on really doing nothing, got a call in the afternoon from another friend, Lisa, who said their dinner guests had "boged" on them and they had all this food and could we come for dinner? Usually I am so not a last-minute invitation kind of person, but we love Brett & Lisa (and Lisa is an awesome cook) so we shrugged and said sure -- felt a little guilty because it's really our turn to have them over for dinner! The food was great, and we always have so much fun scanning Brett's basement office for new toys and books -- and we always leave absolutely loaded down with books because he is the publisher of Top Shelf Comics and he gives us lots of shwag!

And today we will be early-celebrating my father's birthday, so there will be a stop at Saint Cupcake on the way. Yay! And tomorrow I will get back to work on a) finishing Silksinger (phew!) and b) finishing the new Laini's Ladies line. Ay caramba! When it rains it pours -- and right at the time that there are finally good movies coming out that I want to see. Sheesh!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Some books are just more exciting than others...

There's this kind:

And then, there's this kind!

Ha ha ha. Seriously, go to for a good laugh. There are so many hilarious cat pictures, it's a little like watching America's Funniest Home Videos which -- I'm sorry -- is still funny after all these years! One thing you'll see here is that people never tire of setting empty booze bottle next to their sleeping cats. Good one, guys.

I had a dream last night that someone gave my book one star on Amazon and said it was boring! The weirdest part is that the dream was set at Sea World, where I haven't been in twenty years. {Shrug.}

Today is Day 3 of the great furnace installation. I won't go into details about why it has taken so long except to say that our house was built in 1924 and added onto over the years, and we really wish that a "captain's log" had come with the place because we just can't figure out what was original house and what was added on, and so much was sort of rigged together -- trying to do things NOW that are in accordance with code really taxes the imagination of workmen. We have decided that in the original house there was no bathroom. There must have been an outhouse! Can you imagine? Anyway, weirdness abounds, and the crawlspace is very shallow, which makes the duct work difficult (but no less boring, for all that) -- don't you hate crawlspace? Ick.

Early tests show that this furnace is a HECK of a lot stronger than the relic we just removed, so we might be -- gasp! -- warm this winter. AND it's high efficiency, which is nice. One more thing off the house checklist. Next up: complete update of the electrical. ALL of it. BLUH. I'd so much rather buy furniture and cake stands and stuff, but this is more of the whole "grown up" ordeal!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A few studio days

So, while the furnace installers are here clanking around right next to my writing room for a few days, this seemed like a good opportunity to finish designing my new line of Laini's Ladies for Spring '08. So I'm spending a few days in the studio, which I haven't done in a while!

When I'm working in the studio I am much more world-aware than when I am in a writing haze -- I listen to Air America and various downloads with Jim all day, rather than existing solely in my Dreamdark dreamworld. I learn about such things as the new candidate for attorney general (you know you're living in bad times when it comes as a shock the new attorney general is -- gasp!! -- anti-torture!!! WOW! I have been more "out of it" politically than I like to be, but in a couple days I will right back to that Dreamdark dreamworld with very little news getting through. Jim keeps me posted, though.

Again, last night, Pushing Daisies was brilliant and sweet. SO sweet! It makes you go, "Awwwww. . ." but it is weird enough and with enough dead people and darkness to not be cutesy. If you watched it: the plastic wrap! Awwwwww. . .

While in the studio yesterday I took the opportunity to do a step-by-step journal cover collage demo I've been meaning to do. You can see that below.

And here's Jim, drawing away:

How to collage a journal cover -- step by step

Ever since I started dreaming up the "Dreamdark" world, I've kept all my thoughts and notes in a series of journals -- they have to be Clairefontaine hardcover journals from France, which I buy at Powell's Books. They're sturdy, lined, and have a good weight of paper. They're great. But their covers are BORING. So I collage them. I've been asked about that process enough that I thought I'd put up a step-by-step here. Here you go!

You will need:
-- journals
-- collage papers
-- exacto knife and straight edge for perfect cutting
-- acrylic matte medium
-- some pieces of cardboard (or heavy paper will do)
-- some craft paint
-- big cheap foam stamps
-- rub-on transfer designs & letters

Here are the journals "before" in their naked boringness:

1. Choose papers. I am in love with papers from Basic Grey and My Mind's Eye (which I think might actually be the same company). Cut them to just the right size.

(Since these papers are fairly thick, I cut them just a fraction smaller than the cover so the corners won't stick out at all and want to peel back in the future.)

2. Apply paper to cover using matte medium. I use this process rather than just spray mount or something because it is makes a totally permanent, sturdy cover that will never peel, that is essentially waterproof and that will last forever.

Applying the medium is the main part of the collage process and you have to do it just right. It's messy and you have to do it fast so there aren't air bubbles, so roll up your sleeves. First, stick a piece of cardboard inside the front cover, so if the matte medium drips (it will) it doesn't get on the pages and stick them together!

Okay, now, apply matte medium LIBERALLY to both the back of the paper and the surface of the journal. Put it on thick -- use more than you need. You want to be sure there isn't even a small space without medium, or you'll get air bubbles. Here's an example of first a strip of paper and then a whole piece:

Then, put the paper in place -- get the corners lined up just right -- and with your fingertips settle it gently but firmly in place. NOW -- get a big gob of matte medium on your fingers and gloop it right on top of the paper. See, this cover will be sealed with matte medium. That piece of paper will essentially be platicized. By having lots of medium on top, you can start smoothing the paper down. Start in the center and work outward, pressing it down. You want to a) squish out all air bubbles and excess medium (there should be a lot; I scoop it right back into the jar and use it again), and b) get the top of the paper fully and evenly covered in medium.

You need to press pretty hard and very thoroughly squish out all the excess medium. Get it as smooth as you can with your fingertips. Then, using more medium if you need to, worry about smoothing out the surface of the medium. I actually just use my fingertips during this part, because I like having a little texture. When I apply paint (next), the texture makes it look more interesting. But you can use a very soft paintbrush if you want it very smooth (just wash it off thoroughly after or the medium will turn it into a chunk of plastic!)

Now let it dry completely. Make sure you've cleaned any excess medium off the sides, and then prop the cover open so there's no risk of it drying shut.

Drying might take a while. Go make some tea and read a book. (hee hee)

I should specify: do one cover at a time. Don't try to do the back and front at once. And I also like to cut a small strip for the spine. I do that separately too.

3. The "technical" part is over. Now you can decorate! Here, do whatever you like. Use your own collage style. Here's what I do for my Dreamdark journals -- I'm keeping them fairly basic. I add a little paint and some stamping, and some rub-on transfers, and that's about it. Here's the first step with a cheap foam stamp and some cheap craft paint:

Below, I didn't use stamps but I added some paint:

I like to add text, often with transfer letters. I also have some cheap foam alphabet stamps:

That one's not finished yet -- there are still things I want to do to it, like put a big embossed dragonfly in the middle and paint over it and stuff. But you get the idea.

And then, lastly, when everything is completely dry again, I transfer on some swoopy patterns and letters. I love these transfers. LOVE them. There's a great variety availble now at scrapbook stores and they add SO much to a simple design. See:

So, that's basically it. That's how I collage my Clairefontaine journals. You can use the same matte medium technique to collage anything that needs to be fairly durable. I have covered picture frames in mulberry paper using this technique. You might practice first on something un-precious, just to get the hang of squishing out the air bubbles and getting a smooth application.

Have fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Knitting on the Telephone -- & -- I don't want to be a grownup anymore, please

With the new TV season being such a [blessed] drag, I'm not left with much time to knit. That is to say, I started knitting to have something to do with my hands while watching TV -- I cut out Laini's Ladies for so long when I used to make them by hand, that now, idle hands really do feel like the devil's. . . wait, how does that proverb go? The devil's workshop? Tools? Playthings? Anyway, the knitting has progressed very slowly. I've been working on a small alpaca blanket for about 6 months, and I recently finished a long stripey scarf that took me longer than that -- but I use the term "finished" loosely because I still haven't woven in the bazillion-jillion loose ends -- it's a very long, very stripey scarf! In fact, I do not have a large eye-needle for the purpose of weaving in ends, and so the scarf is sitting in a shaggy, endy heap, waiting for me to leave the house and go anywhere in the neighborhood of a knitting shop. It should not hold its breath.

I don't leave the house much these days. These are Silksinger days. But I do knit when I'm on the phone, which isn't often. I started this striped alpaca scarf for Jim. So, there's my knitting update: slow. Some time in the post-Silksinger future, I need to go in for a second round of knitting classes and learn some new tricks. But this will do for now.

So, this morning I called my mother and told her I didn't want to be a grownup anymore, please. Judging by her snorting laugh, she doesn't exactly think I behave too terribly like a grownup anyway, but I mean it. I'm through with this new-furnace monkey business, and this tow truck malarkey. I mean, who needs it? I would like someone to bring me macaroni and cheese at noon and make sure I take a nap, and draw a bath for me and test the temperature of the water, and cut the crusts off my sandwiches. And buy me a new furnace, and a new starter for the car. Yes. The car!! When the car wouldn't start yesterday, my shock was probably a bit comical. My disbelief. I am not accustomed to cars not starting, and our car is like a calm and sedate robot being. It doesn't do things like this. It's mature. Responsible. How could this be?

Ah, my poor husband. If it were up to me, right now, with my complete disregard of everything not-Silksinger, I would, if left to my own devices: a) not get a furnace, but wear fingerless gloves and twelve layers of clothes and if things got too bad, go to a coffeehouse to write (isn't that how JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter?), and b) I would have to walk to the coffeeshop, because I couldn't be bothered getting the car fixed. I would eat every sad, unsavory can of unwanted food in the back of the pantry before going in desperation to the store -- "Ah, honey, chick peas and heart of palm for dinner again??" -- and I would not change light bulbs, or my socks, for weeks. Thankfully, my sweet husband does things like call tow trucks and go to the grocery store. He even went to the post office for me last week, so if you received something from me, you really have Jim to thank. I do, however, change my own socks.

The furnace guys are supposedly installing tomorrow. We'll see how that goes.

Waaaa! Where's my binky? I think I'll go bake cookies.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My beautiful daemon

Is this not one of the most beautiful things you've ever seen? I was just looking up some fox images on google to see what their eyes look like (yellow, with feline vertical pupils) for a new character in Silksinger, and I found this. This is my daemon. I'm naming him. . . hm. I was going to say Ezmeril, which is the new character's name, but she's a she, and my daemon would of course have to be a he. So I'm going to say Jagjabal, which is the name of a not-nice character in Silksinger, one with lots of legs, but I dig the name. It is a bit wicked-sounding, but who's to say my daemon wouldn't be a bit wicked? Who's to say I am not a bit wicked? If you don't know what I'm talking about when I say "daemon," then get yourself HERE immediately -- IMMEDIATELY, I say -- and order this book and read it. Sheesh. Where have you been since 1995???

And on that subject, swoony swoon, check out this trailer for the movie:

Oh. my. god. Can't wait!!!
(Yes, I think the snow leopard is a good daemon for Daniel Craig!)

What's your daemon?

Here are some more fox pictures, just because they're so awesome:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Robot T-shirts! And, when good novels misbehave

Awesome Not a Robot apparel is now available at Jim's Cafe Press store. I love them! They come in a bunch of different styles, so check it out. (Jim says the "heat transfer" ones are best.)

Meanwhile, the Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is "First Job, Worst Job, Dream Job" so if you have something to say on that, hop on over there and link up. It's a great week to start scribblings if you've never done it before.

Thoughts on writing this morning as I flex my fingers and gear up for a day of hammering out new scenes (swimming upstream!) I belatedly discovered this post by Patry Francis, who was one of my first blog discoveries. Her first novel was coming out a few months before my own this past year, so I hungrily read about her experiences in advance of my own, and though she's not blogging as much as she used to, I find we still have much in common. We are both slaving over our third books, and find we have not joined the secret "writing is easy once you're published" club. It's still hard. It's still really hard. Novels misbehave. They're wayward teenagers; you think you've got them on their path, and then they up and join the circus, or a cult, or something! Okay, this metaphor not so good, because when it comes to a book that's veered wildly off course, the thing to do is let it go and start again, and I suppose the answer to a teenager who has joined a cult is not necessarily to let them go and have another baby. Not necessarily.

I've been hearing a lot of writers admit lately that it is only due to mulish stubborness that they finish their books. So keep that in mind if you're working to finish your first. Plus, according to Patry, muses like to eat blueberry pie, so you might try to keep your muse happy with food. Me, I would eat my muse's pie myself and then she/it (I think my muse is a goat with wonky assymetrical horns and a nonplussed look on its cud-chewing face) would head-butt me and tell me to get back to work already with my blueberry-stained teeth.

Quote, found on a new blog discovery:
"The real writer is the one who really writes. Talent is an invention like phlogiston after the fact of fire. Work is its own cure. You have to like it better than being loved."
-- Marge Piercy

Er, I had to look up "phlogiston" and it's really cool: it was, in the middle ages, a "hypothetical inflammatory principle" believed [falsely] to exist in all combustible matter. It was, like, an imaginary gas assumed to be an essential principle of fire -- the way this imaginary thing "talent" (or whatever) is assumed to be essential to writing. I do believe in talent, but I believe it's something we build while working. So, off I go to work. It's devils on the menu today. Wicked, wicked devils (and one sweet one). Tally ho!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

the cutest couple on TV

The cutest couple on TV comes from the best new show on TV: Pushing Daisies. If you haven't seen it, it's a quirky, beautifully produced kind of gothic fairy tale romance thriller about a pie maker who can wake the dead by touching them, but only for a minute, or else someone else will die in their place. So what happens when his childhood sweetheart is murdered on a cruise ship? Watch and see. I just love the weird tone, bright colors, awesome production values (it LOOKS like a movie, kind of Tim Burtony, and reminds me even a little of Babe: Pig in the City, lookswise), awesome writing, and total sweetness. Ned & "Chuck" are just the cutest, and their yearning for each other is easily the most romantic thing on TV.

Here's the trailer for last night's episode:

And here are some pics. Look at the colors!

There have been 2 episodes so far, and if you haven't seen them you can download them at, somehow -- don't ask me how. Oh, and teeny tiny adorable Kristin Chenoweth from Wicked is on it, and also Swoozy Kurtz, who plays a mermaid who lost an eye to flying cat litter. It's that kind of show -- in a good way!

We tried to watch a few other new shows, like Bionic Woman and Reaper, but they didn't take. They were pretty lame, actually. We've even forsaken all but two old shows we were watching, including Heroes, which has gotten super boring and lame (See Jim's interpretation of this season's Heroes here.) So now all that's left is: The Office, 30 Rock, and Pushing Daisies. I hope it stays good, and ABC better not cancel it!!! By the way, the star of Pushing Daisies was the brother in the awesome-but-canceled Wonder Falls on Fox. If you haven't seen that, I would Netflix it even though it was canceled -- they managed to wrap up a satisfying story arc before going off the air and it too was so weird and yet sweet. I love that!