Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Project Book Babe + Sacrificing the Unbook

A quick reminder: Project Book Babe is this coming Saturday in Tempe, Arizona. There are still tickets available if you might be able to attend. There will be music, authors, books, hijinx! When I say "hijinx" I mean to imply there will be some sort of embarrassment -- fun embarrassment -- endured by the authors. Embarrassment that requires . . . practicing. You don't want to miss this!

And, I'm pleased to announce that the online portion of the auction has begun! You can find the first listings HERE, including a signed copy of The Hunger Games and: having a character named after you in a future Lisa McMann novel! How cool is that? More items will be posted in a rotating fashion, so keep on checking. Some of the more fabulous items, such as Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse Prom dress, will be available for bidding only at the live event.

Remember: all proceeds go to the medical fund of Faith Hochhalter, bookseller, book promoter, book lover, all around "book babe."

* * *

Now, I have a confession to make: I haven't been getting very much work done lately. I plan to blame this entirely on "pregnancy brain" -- like I really need a further excuse for dithering about, seeming to look busy, all while getting very little work done! Sigh.

There has been a little bit of nesting interference, which I suppose can truly be blamed on pregnancy brain (sort of). The beginning of a remodeling project to create a wee nursery out of a bizarro unfinished "room" we've had hiding behind a large armoire for years. Old houses are weird, y'all. If you live in one, you should consider all space beyond walls as having potential hidden rooms or at least the space for them, because you really never know. Our strange hidden room (which I once dreamed had been the hideaway of a bed-ridden, invalid alien), has falling-down insulation and heating ducts that run across the floor, and tomorrow those heating ducts will be rerouted in preparation of the building of walls and a floor, and all this will soon become a very adorable little space for a crib, etc. Very exciting! I can't wait for the cute-making portion of events to come!

But anyway, I can't blame my lack of work-accomplishments of the past week entirely on greeting heating company workers or tidying up laundry rooms or assembling new bland storage furniture, or even going out to hear fun music shows and eating french fries. (OR on trying without success to track down a book that has no business being so elusive!)

No. It's just more of the usual: fear.

Fear of progressing into the deep unknown of the story. I hold this wondrous story in my head and it's as perfect and fragile in there as a crystalline sphere, and I worry that the sphere won't be able to withstand the harsh conditions of the actual world. Our Earth atmosphere will crush it. It's safest, really, to leave it right where it is, inside my head, where nothing can get smudgy fingerprints on it or threaten its perfection, least of all my inept meddling with words!

Yeah yeah. But it must come out, it simply must, deformed and imperfect or not. One of my favorite quotes about writing:

"The only way [the book can be written] is to set the unbook -- the gilt-framed portrait of the book -- right there on the altar and sacrifice it, truly sacrifice it. Only then may the book, the real live flawed finite book, slowly, sentence by carnal sentence, appear."
-Bonnie Friedman

God that's good. I looooovve the word "carnal" -- don't you?

So, in an effort to shake off my fearful dithering and sacrifice my "unbook," this morning I started writing the new section by hand in a notebook, with my computer and all its nifty wireless distractions (the universe at your fingertips! How awfully, awfully distracting that is!) shut tight, and it was good. The early morning hours, still dark, writing with a pen, a blanket wrapped around me, a cup of coffee. This is a good, good thing. The story must come out somehow -- sometimes coaxing works, sweet gentle coaxing. But other times it must be forced, dragged, inelegantly, unwillingly, its heels making skid marks on the wood floor.

This is the job: figuring out what works, day after day, and doing it.

We talk a lot about "process" as writers. I know I'm always hungry to learn some secret trick that will make writing easier. And I have learned tricks, things that work for me, but process is inconsistent. What works one day might not the next. I'm going to try this notebook thing for a little while, for as long as it is helps me drag the story forth into the light. I already know that at some point, likely soon, my persnickety brain will assert itself and demand I take some time to tidy up, make my new thoughts presentable. And that will be hard and rewarding in its own way, as this is now hard and rewarding in its way.

The dance steps are always changing, dammit. Stumblingly, I try to keep up.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weirdly limber sisters, 1944 + Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox

Check out this craziness -- but fast forward to the one-minute mark, because it's just singing until then, and then it gets a little wacky. That thing they do about 1:35 in? Whuuut? Aieeee!
Eek! Thanks to my dad, for emailing that link on the first day of his retirement :-)

I finished this book yesterday and immediately wanted book 2 (of two), Dreamquake, in my hands. Luckily for me, it is already published and the chances of my getting it today are very good. I'm just waiting till noon to see if the neighborhood children's book store (Portland's only independent children's book store happens to be a meager few blocks from my house) has it in stock.

Have you heard of the Dreamhunter series? The author, Elizabeth Knox, is from New Zealand, and this book takes a very original and mysterious premise, gives it a believable historical setting that feels like it could be of our world, and fleshes it out with terrific characters: two 15-year-old protagonists and their parents. In a nutshell: it's the early 1900s and Laura and her cousin Rose are two privileged girls raised together in a joint household by their parents, two of whom -- Laura's father and Rose's mother -- happen to be the most celebrated of all dreamhunters.

What are dreamhunters? Well, this world is a normal early-19th-century world except for one thing: there is a place, called the Place, where only a handful of people are able to go. The border is invisible, and you only know if you can cross it by attempting it. If you seem to vanish into thin air, you are one of the few. If not, you'll never, ever be able to access that mysterious place. Of those few who can, an even smaller number can become dreamhunters, meaning that when they go to sleep inside the Place they can catch dreams, bring them back out to the normal world, and "perform" them in dream palaces, which are like opera houses where everyone sleeps and lives the dreamhunter's dream along with them. (Not all dreams are performed in palaces; as the book unfolds, other, less socially acceptable dreamhunter niches are revealed.)

But what is the Place, really? No one knows, but Laura's father, the most famous dreamhunter and the one who discovered the Place, is on to something, something dark that the government wants covered up. And when he vanishes on the eve of Laura's "Try" (when she will attempt her first crossing and discover if she too is a dreamhunter), he leaves the mystery to her to solve . . .

. . . and by the end of the book, the mystery is still very much in play, which is why I must get Dreamquake today. It was a Printz honor book last year, by the way, and I hope and expect it will live up to the promise of book 1.

[By the way, as a side note: people who accidentally buy a book twice because the UK or Australian edition has a different title than the US edition, don't take it out on the author by giving the book 1 star on Amazon. You idiot. It's not the author's fault, and it's not a scam to try to trick you into buying multiple copies. Foreign editions are often renamed, for all kinds of reasons, and duplicity is just not one of them.]

I recently read another book I really liked, this one middle-grade and not fantasy: The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy. It's about two 13-year-old friends who win a writing competition and are invited to partake in a summer writing program at UC Berkeley. Both girls come from imperfect homes, and the book traces how their journeys as writers helps them to understand their own situations, see their parents as people and not just parents, and really grow. An excellent book for young writers. And old writers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Your skin will inevitably betray you + Hear my voice, or not!

[The Sunday Scribblings topic this week is "Aging".]

Do you remember when it was still possible to scoff about aging? To laugh off anxieties about crow's feet, to tease your mother when she insisted you Photoshop her neck smooth in a photo? Maybe you're still young and smooth, haven't begun to experience the subtle, early ways your skin loses its tension and its glow. You can't yet imagine. Maybe you have not yet bought your first expensive moisturizer just for your neck.

You'll get there.

I don't mean that in any taunting, cruel way. Of course the young can't imagine. There are many things that I, at 37, cannot yet imagine. We are all as old as we have ever been, and for each of us the hope is that we will get much older. I want to live to be 106, be the spry old lady, taking long walks every morning with her even-older, equally spry husband, talking wistfully about their youth in the last century, how home computers didn't exist until they were teenagers!!! Think how prehistoric that will sound in seventy years!

I fear the other things I will be able to say in seventy years. Like:

"When I was young, there were still tigers on Earth."

To the kids of the year 2079, I'm afraid, this will sound like fantasy. Tigers. Real tigers, in real jungles!

When our grandparents were young, I think they imagined they would grow old to witness an age of flying cars and colonies on Mars. Now, we look forward to the end of all jungles, the melting of polar ice caps. The sci-fi of the 50s was shiny. Our sci-fi is post-Apocalyptic. Lovely.

But back to skin. Have you heard the word "senescence"? The dictionary describes it as simply "growing old, aging." Wikipedia is more cruel: "a process induced by evolution into our genetic make up so as we live to our healthiest until our reproductive age and die slowly and gradually thereafter." Sigh. We are dying slowly and gradually. I don't like that definition much. That is not what I am doing, thank you very much, wikipedia auteur! I prefer to call this: living.

But alas, we will senesce. Our skin is the first thing to betray us. Me, I have this nascent crease in my neck, this new, subtle looseness in the skin above my eyes. When I'm tired, there's sometimes a crease in my left eye lid. I have a tiny red age speck dead center in my forehead, which I suppose will continue to grow until it looks like a bindi. Perhaps I will give in to vanity and have it lasered away. Or perhaps I will begin to put sparkly stick-on jewels right on top if it. Who knows.

And then, of course, I get to have my years rubbed in my face these days because I am of "advanced maternal age." My eggs are old. Want to hear something CRAZY? My daughter, my in-utero daughter, who is 22 weeks along, has already formed every egg she will ever produce! How INSANE is that??? I knew all this from long-ago biology classes but had forgotten until several years ago when Jim and I decided we'd better consider begetting ourselves some offspring before it was too late. Too late for ME of course, not him. Men don't have to worry; they can keep sowing their seed until they're old feeble patriarchs!

Alas, this is just part of our journey as complex organisms. Single-celled organisms, apparently, do not senesce. But would you want to be a single-celled organism? Ehh, not so much. Huh, apparently lobsters and perennial plants do not undergo cellular senescence, but I wouldn't really want to be a lobster or a foxglove either. I'll be a human, and I'll keep an eye on my neck, stay out of the sun, eat my green vegetables, go for walks, and hope for the best! Oh, and I'll also keep my hair pink and wear silly T-shirts, and if people don't look too closely, maybe they'll think I'm as young as I feel!

* * *

Hear my voice?

By the way, not at all on the subject of aging, there is an interview with me -- my first phone interview ever -- at Next Chapter: 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women. I'm the last in a series of interviews conducted by the wonderful Jamie Ridler as part of her blog-based book group centered around Gail McMeekin's book The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women. I was honored to be included in a list of 12 amazing women, some of whom were the first bloggers I ever read. I was really nervous to be interviewed out loud, but Jamie was lovely to talk to, and though I have only listened to parts of it so far, I don't think I made an idiot out of myself! All the interviews, by the way, are going to be compiled into one CD that will be available for purchase. Jamie is sure to do more amazing groups like this, so stay tuned in over at her site.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I found this wristband in a favorite Portland shop last week, and promptly snapped it up for a certain 13-year-old I know who has developed an interest in the kissings. I'm not saying if she has or hasn't kissed, just that this, below, is to provide a safe alternative to an actual boy counterpart in the kissing process:

So he looks like a 9-year-old Soviet gymnast? Can't be helped! Ha ha ha.

On the topic of 13-year-olds and kissing, I'm not going to encourage it -- of course I, in my ripe old age, know it's better to wait a few years, but I can't be a hypocrite here. My first kiss was at age twelve, on an Italian beach circa 1984, and I thought it was GROSS and didn't attempt it again for several years . . . by which time I found that it had improved somewhat, though that might have been due to the techniques of the boys in question. The first boy was a Swiss-Italian orphan and a drummer, and he had an '80s rat tail in the back of his hair (the shame!) and I actually, literally squirmed right out of the kiss; the second boy was American, also a drummer, had long hair, and I'd had a crush on him for about a year. It was the night before we moved from Belgium to California, summer before 10th grade, and on the plane I'm sure I felt quite tragic about the whole thing. Finally I had kissed this boy, only to fly far, far away and never see him again.

Ah well.

Anyway, not all first kisses are gross, I'm quite sure. Do you have any wonderful (or terrible) first kiss stories to share?

Here's a lovely first kiss, all the more lovely because it would never have happened. Purists of Jane Austen and Mrs. Gaskell books were doubtless offended that the filmmakers took such an enormous liberty as to have two unmarried people kiss in public view in a railway station -- EGAD! The impropriety! -- but I'm just glad. Period films need more kissing! Purists be damned!

(It's only a minute long; do watch, it's a lovely kiss.)
Nice, no? That's North and South by the way. Lovely, smoldery Mr. Thornton. Don't you just love the way he's looking at her the whole time she's talking, like he's just thinking about kissing her?

[Youngsters, may this be an object lesson to you. If you kiss now, it will be with a boy with a rat's tail and you will want to squirm out of it. If you wait until you are a grownup lady like the one in the movie, it will be romantic and perfect. See?]

There are three first kisses in Lips Touch, and they are definitely not like my first kiss, the sort of kiss that puts you off kissing for three years. (It really wasn't that bad, it just didn't inspire me to seek out more of same, for which, in retrospect, I am heartily glad, because no one needs to be chalking up kisses at that age.) Writing kisses is very fun, and the kind of kisses in my book are no ordinary kisses, but kisses with profound consequences, after which nothing will ever be the same. [Cue dramatic music.]

The book is up on Amazon, by the way! Yay! Still without that coy cover image, but it's there with the little description, which happens to be not the flap copy but the initial pitch I wrote for Arthur Levine when my agent was submitting it to him. Here, by the way, is not the elusive Lips Touch cover, but another piece by the same talented artist, which I love, love, love -- the way the lips are poised for the kiss. Isn't it scrumptious? I bet she doesn't squirm out of this one!

Exciting news about Lips Touch! I'm not totally sure what this means, but Lips Touch is one of just six books coming out this fall that have been selected for the YA Editor's Buzz Panel at Book Expo! Here's more on that at Publisher's Weekly. I can't tell you how AWESOME it is to see my book mentioned in the same breath with the word "buzz." I'm trying to maintain my usual dour demeanor (!) and not get too excited, because like I said, I don't really know what (if anything) this means, but it's thrilling that my book is being talked about!!!!!!!!!!

Yippeeeee! In parting, look, it's springtime!

Cheers! Oh, and I did design and order Rathersting facial tattoos yesterday. I should have them in a few weeks. There will be a giveaway :-)

Have a lovely day! Go kiss someone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Taxes, facial tattoos, and real live dragons

Ah taxes . . . No, wait. Don't go anywhere! I'm not going to talk about taxes. I swear. Just that I'm done with them except for finding out the painful sum of money in the bank that doesn't actually belong to us. I try not to get attached to it, knowing it will go away, but you know how it is. Money is so cuddly and adorable. You can't help but get attached! Anyway, my work there is done . . . for another year.

So today it's back to writing. Oh yeah, and as I just updated my Facebook status to read: "Laini Taylor is probably going to design a tattoo today. For your FACE." hahaha. True! I need to design a Rathersting tattoo today, which I shall get printed as a rub-on tattoo, which you can then put on your face and look ferocious and warrior-faerie-like. Fun, no?

Speaking of facial tattoos, when I do school visits I give the school the option of sending me some photos of kids ahead of time and I photoshop Rathersting tattoos onto their faces as a surprise. (If you haven't read Blackbringer, the warrior clan, to which the character Talon belongs, have fierce Maori-inspired tattoos on their faces, which I think is just SO COOL.) The photos are fun, harmless, no actual ink involved. No actual children are altered in any way. But the last school got a major complaint from a parent that their child had been desecrated. They demanded the photos be destroyed. Poor secretary, having to field that call, and poor kid, growing up in a world where that's a big deal! Sigh. Imagine what else is a big fuss on a daily basis!

* * *

News: Papua New Guinea is at it again: that is, making headlines for the discovery of new species! More than 50 new species, including tree frogs, geckos, and jumping spiders, have been identified for the first time by a Conservation International expedition. How cool is it to know there are yet unexplored corners of the planet teeming with critters never seen by the eyes of man? I don't know about you, but I have a total fascination for stories about old-time naturalists and their collecting expeditions to remote places filled with mist and spiny fruit and creatures that must have looked to Europeans like they just crawled out of spaceships. So cool to think there are still unknown critters!

On a grim note, an Indonesian fisherman was killed by Komodo dragons while trespassing on a remote island in their protected national park. Awful. You know, there are very few places on Earth where dragons are known to abide. Would you go looking for fruit there? Komodo dragons weren't discovered until 1910. Imagine being the first person to see this:
They grow to almost 10 feet in length, there's venom in their saliva, and they attack by stealth and go for the throat. You know what? Stay off their island, man.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New ARCs! German edition! Plus: Muse-summoning incantation

Yippee! I got a Fedex delivery from Penguin on Friday and inside were not only two ARCs of Silksinger (at last! at last!) but two copies of the new German edition of Blackbringer, Die Elfen von DreamDark: Krahenmadchen!

I have dreamed about foreign editions, and I dream of more--more languages, new covers. It's so exciting! I don't speak any German, but leafing through the book I see so many cool words and have no idea what they mean. Thank you again to translators Cornelia Stoll and Friedrich Pfluger. Anyone who reads the German, please report back on how it is!

So, last I posted I was planning a freewriting "suckstravaganza" and invited my irresponsible but exciting Bohemian muse to stop by and join me. I must report that, after about an hour of decently loose freewriting, it all fell apart. It was Jim's fault. He got this notion to . . . go out. And . . . do things that people do. Like: have lunch and browse in a bookstore and sit around at a cafe. What a notion! He's been pretty cooped up with deadlines for a while, and all that time he was daydreaming about flaking around, sitting and reading for hours, going to cafes, etc, and the time had come to follow up on the daydreams. So we had a lovely day. Crepes, Powell's books, a movie.

So the muse hasn't really shown up, but it's my fault. One must sit in one's chair and be working, or the muse will stay away. They don't waste their time stopping by if you're shopping or eating crepes! Nope, you must have your butt in your chair and your fingertips on the keys or it generally will not happen. It's like a magical muse-summoning incantation. Butt in chair, fingers on keys. And it doesn't always work, no. But the only way it has a chance of working is if you do it. Sit. Stay. Write.

Perhaps tomorrow. Right now, I delve into the glory of . . . TAXES. Sigh. Muse assured to not put in an appearance.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Laini's Ladies; Website Update; Muse Musings

Look, new Laini's Ladies! I designed these back in the fall and they're available now. I love them, and I especially love that two of the quotes come from children's books.

"I have always imagined Paradise will be a kind of library." -Jorge Luis Borges
"Talent is something rare and beautiful and precious, and must not be allowed to go to waste." -George Selden, A Cricket in Times Square
"Each thing she learned became part of herself, to be used over and over in new adventures." -Kate Seredy
"In this tangled world, what is there other than friends?" -Rumi

These can be ordered HERE, as hanging adornments or greeting cards.

* * *

And, I just did some website updating. The main thing is that I've added a Silksinger page, which includes a description and -- very exciting for me -- my first blurbs! This was such a nice surprise: I got unbound galleys in the mail last week from my editor Tim (and his lovely assistant, Shauna). Unbound galleys are basically the typeset book exactly as it will appear in the Advance Readers Copies (ARCs), but it's not in book format yet. So, the Silksinger galleys, I was delighted to see, begin with a really lovely letter to the reader from Tim, followed by four blurbs by librarians and other readerly folk who've ALREADY READ SILKSINGER!!! I didn't know anybody had read it yet! I mean, I didn't know any strangers had read it yet, so it was so cool to see these quotes, which are really really nice. You can read them at the above link. Tim is great. He really believes in my books and it's so terrific knowing that he's doing crafty things behind the scenes like send manuscripts, even pre-ARC, out to readers! (He is getting some cookies in the mail very soon!)

* * *

On the subject of my last post, that is, on the subject of enduring suck, I am planning an all-out suckstravaganza tomorrow. Freewriting! A big, messy, terrifying binge of it. This whole week I've been a very uptight writer, with my inner editor perched right on my shoulder pointing and snarking at every single sentence I write. I've managed two short chapters, verrrry slowly. Tomorrow is going to be different. That inner editor is getting stuffed in the freezer for a few hours AT LEAST while I unleash a volume of suck onto the innocent computer screen. I need some things to HAPPEN, I need some serendipity, some flow, some of that dancing-fingertip magic that only happens occasionally, when a story unspools, all silky and surprising, from who-knows-where. I think maybe I have two muses, and one of them has a perfect manicure and pursed lips, and she's reliable. She's around all the time, and I need her, but the best days are when the other one deigns to show up -- the flaky flambuoyant one who has tattoos in alphabets she can't even read. She pops by, fresh from hitchhiking in some gypsy caravan from Turkey to Romania, and she's got rings on her toes and hasn't combed her hair in days, and she's singing some peasant song she just learned from a blind revolutionary. And she's got a jar of honey given to her by a witch. She's fallen in love three times since I saw her last, maybe even married a fox prince and then decided the creature life wasn't for her. Maybe she got a fox tail out of the bargain, and swishes it with a mixture of dignity and coyness. And, oh yeah, she can dance, baby. She can dance.

I want her to show up tomorrow. Please?

Lastly, have you heard of Operation Teen Book Drop? It's a drive to donate YA books to teen patients in hospitals. The divine ladies at Readergirlz have teamed up with YALSA and 12 publishers to donate 8,000 books to 12 different hospitals. Click the link to see how you can donate too. This is what I'm doing with some of my stacks of leftover Cybils books. Oh, and here's a video announcement:
Good stuff.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

First Drafts: Surviving the Suck

[Note: if you feel like it, you might count the number of times I use the word "suck" in this post. I apologize in advance.]

I posted recently about a writing acquaintance who's very talented but plagued by self-doubt, and I posed the question: for those who find a way to finish their novels, how do they? What's the secret? I said then that it's not confidence you need so much as determination, and I stick by that. Now, as I slog through a quicksand section of a first draft, I want to add:

It's about surviving the suck.

[Incidentally, on Sunday night, Jim and I met a guy who'd been stuck in quicksand on Mt. St. Helens and lived to tell! Wouldn't that be a great party story to have? He was up to his waist and his dog was stuck too and they managed to squiggle their way out. We were highly entertained by this story, because what started the conversation was the observation that getting stuck in quicksand was something that happened in movies and TV all the time in the 1970s, but never happens now. Whatever happened to quicksand?]

So, "the suck" is like writing quicksand. There's no getting around the fact that first drafts suck much of the time. And writing suck is un-fun. Your spirits sorely dwindle. You can quite easily become convinced you've lost any iota of talent you may once have possessed. There are those writers out there who breeze through the suck, untroubled, supremely confident that they will rescue things by and by, but we ought never to compare ourselves to them because they are not normal. They may not even be human. It is quite likely that spilling a glass of water on them would put an end to them as surely as it would your keyboard (try it and see -- the robots, not the keyboard). So, factor robots OUT of the equation.

Humans hate to suck, and human writers must learn to suffer through suck. That is what enables us to finish first drafts. If you never learn to endure it, you may never finish a first draft. You might do what I used to do, which was write some awesome first chapters, revised to perfection, that lead nowhere. So far, working on my fourth book (if you don't count the thing I wrote in November, and I don't), the suck has not gotten easier to endure with time. It helps to know from three books of experience that good times lie ahead, but on a daily basis, the suffering does not diminish. The only way through is through. There are no shortcuts and no secrets. It's like losing weight, or like finding your way out of a jungle you've been dropped into from a helicopter. You can't FLY out. You're just a sad, wingless human so get used to it, heft your machete, and keep on thwacking!

Now, note: suffering through the suck doesn't mean you have to endure an entire draft of unmitigated suck. Personally, I can only put up with it for so long, which is why I revise as I go. I've tried to write a whole nasty awful first draft in one go and I HATED EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. It's not for me. It's okay to revise as you go, it's a totally legitimate process -- but you can't get stuck in over-revising to the exclusion of moving forward in the story. Me, I must alternate between the satisfaction of overcoming suck through revisions, and the misery of creating all new suck. That's just what works for me.

It might not be what works for you. Find what works for you. Just don't ever ever ever ever think that just because your first drafts suck or because you don't love every single second of writing them that there's something wrong with you. It's like that for EVERYONE. Almost. There are those terrible exceptions out there who exist sheerly to make the rest of us feel bad (you know who you are).

Anyway, go forth and suck. It's the only way. Endure. Then make it suck a little less, then a little less, until lo and behold, one day at long last it sucketh not. You can do it!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I have a great event to tell you about, if you're in the Phoenix area or if you're not but would get to the Phoenix area to attend it. It's Project Book Babe, on April 4, and it's a fundraiser for fabulous bookseller Faith Hochhalter, who is going through chemotherapy right now for breast cancer. Faith has done so much for YA authors over the past years, as buyer at the wonderful Changing Hands bookstore as well as helping organize author visits, doing extraordinary promotions, and spreading the enthusiasm of reading YA to teens and adults alike. So, her author friends want to help her out during this not-great time, and are throwing a whopper of a charity event.

The line-up:
Shannon Hale (The Goose Girl) (One of my favorite writers!!!)
Stephenie Meyer (Twilight)
Brandon Mull (Fablehaven)
Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars)
Janette Rallison (My Fair Godmother)
James Owen (Here There Be Dragons)
PJ Haarsma (Softwire series)
Jon Lewis (Revenge of the Shadow King)
Chris Gall (There's Nothing to Do on Mars)

I am so excited to be part of this, and so deeply impressed with all the hard work the organizers have put into making it happen.

Tickets are available in a range of prices from $25-$300, each level coming with different perks, including signed books. The event itself, in a high school auditorium, will feature live music and a panel discussion emceed by Shannon Hale who is a natural at such things. If you've ever seen her speak, you know what I mean. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, and I hear tell they're expected to sell out fast, so head on over to the Project Book Babe website and take a gander.

Besides the main event, there will also be an online auction of signed books from many different authors besides those above, and all proceeds will go to offsetting Faith's medical costs. I'll post more info on the online auction later; I'm not sure when that's happening.

* * *

Another cool thing: Blackbringer has just been named to its first state reading list, for which I am THRILLED and hope there will be many more! Thank you so much, fabulous librarians of Oklahoma! To see Oklahoma's Sequoyah Book Awards Master Lists for 2009-10, go HERE.

* * *

OOH! And yet another cool thing: I've been invited, for the first time, to contribute a story to an anthology!!! It's a YA anthology, and I probably can't say more about it now, it's still very much in the planning, but I'm very excited. In general, I am all-around very excited these days. Can you tell? Makes it a little hard to concentrate on writing, heh heh. No, I've been writing, and am having so much fun with my new book. My mind is all a-fizz with it, kind of the way my belly is fizzing with a baby (daughter!) squiggling around in it :-)

Friday, March 13, 2009

IT'S A GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'd try to make you guess, but so far everyone -- everyone -- even people I have never met in person, have guessed girl, and apparently they were right! Question: if I had blue hair, would you have guessed boy?

So it's a girl!!! As I said before, we had no preference at all. Just, you know, healthy and awesome, with a combination of musical genius and ninja skills. That's all we care about. So it's going to be a musical ninja girl and we're thrilled, and would have been equally thrilled if it were a boy.

I can start saying "she" now!!

The ultrasound tech called the gender within literally 5 seconds of putting the wand to my belly, and without any ceremony, just: "Girl." Of course, the gender is not the important part of the 20-week ultrasound. This was the visit where they look at every single organ and measure all the bones and the head and all that, and everything looks good! Apparently my placenta wraps around my right side, which is sort of interesting . . . to me . . . and surely not at all interesting to anybody else. The baby would NOT turn over though, so the tech couldn't get as good a look at the chambers of the heart as she needs, so we get to have another ultrasound at our next appointment; we'll try for the classic "profile shot" then too -- all our pics today look like moon geography or weather patterns.

Here I am, looking pregnant at last!
Being as how my belly has finally emerged, it was time for the first ever maternity clothes shopping trip! Jim and I stopped at the mall on our way back from the doc and I got a couple of pairs of pants. The weird elastic waist! And what a strange experience it was trying on a bunch of pairs of jeans that all fit. I recommend maternity pants for everyone!!! There are no buttons or zippers, people. Just a big elastic band. Woo hoo!

I also got a couple of pairs of shoes, being as how I'm not exactly known for my sensible footwear. Snort! Got some really cute Danskos that make me feel SHORT and some Sketchers that have a little wedge heel.

Oh, and this was kind of random -- unrelated -- today, and funny: Jim and I had lunch with the talented Johanna Wright (whose first picture book is coming out really soon!) and I got a pistachio macaroon, you know, the pretty French kind? We all three split it, and it kind of tasted like breakfast cereal, but because it was so pretty I was going to buy another one on the way out . . . but they were gone. I asked if they'd sold out already and the girl behind the counter got a weird and sheepish look on her face and -- not realizing we'd already eaten one -- said, "Oh. No. Something was, uh, up with those. We'll have more tomorrow."

"Um. What? What do you mean 'something was up?' What kind of something?"

"Oh . . . [hem haw etc] the baker just didn't [hem haw] . . . [mysterious weirdness, etc.]"

"But, they're not, uh, poisonous or anything? We're not all going to die soon?"

"Oh . . . no. I don't think so."

Okay, she didn't really say that last bit. I made that up. But I'm still wondering: what was "up" with the macaroons??? They tasted fine. If Johanna and Jim and I all turn green, or begin to experience strange psychic phenomena or speak only in rhyme: blame the macaroons.

Cheers, all!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Random Post About "Kohl"

Ooh, scary child! Scary child would be scary even without the kohl, but doesn't the kohl help?

What is kohl? It's a mixture of soot and other stuff that some South Asian and African people (and silent movie stars and young rock stars) wear to accentuate their eyes. It's been around since the Bronze Age. Egyptian queens wore it. It has been believed to have anti-bacterial properties, and, like the smears on football players' faces, it helps deflect the sun. The Prophet Muhammed supposedly applied it before going to bed. It's used even on infants. It protects against the evil eye. Some traditional recipes use heavy metals and can cause lead poisoning. Other ingredients might be lamp black, goose fat, frankincense, the soot of burned sunflower seeds and almond shells, and castor oil.

Tigers wear it.
And it's cool.

I've never worn it. I have no make-up bravery. I've been applying the same mascara, brown eye liner, and smudge of brown shadow for, er, I don't know, 15 years? Kohl eyes wouldn't really suit my pajama-esque housebound writer's apparel (not that pink hair does . . . actually, pink hair goes with everything)! But look how cool and exotic it is when worn by cool and exotic people, including men:

Incidentally, one of my characters is cool like this, which is why I am thinking about it at all.

It's good to be a writer. Your characters can be cooler than you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Movie Creates a Reader?

Whatever you might feel for Twilight: deep abiding love, disdain, jealousy (if you're a writer), or whatever, you have to consider the possibility that it is, indeed, serving as a "gateway drug" to further reading. So there's that. The movie may even be responsible for getting people to pick up books. Robert Pattison himself may be responsible! Such is the case with my thirteen-year-old niece, who has been an indifferent reader up till now. My mom took her to see Twilight and she was smitten. Bella (as my niece happens to be named, though I still call her by her kid name "Izzy") turned to my mom during the final credits and said in a kind of hushed whisper, "Nona, that was the best movie I've ever seen." (i.e.: "Nona, I [heart] Edward Cullen.")

And then she read the book. And then the next one. And then the next. And yeah, then Breaking Dawn. Which, all told, probably surpasses her sum total pages read to date. In one month. And that's awesome. And what's more awesome? She's now, reportedly, reading the books I gave her for Christmas (Dream Girl and How To Ditch Your Fairy) because, you know, she's run out of Twilight!

I lovvvvvve hearing this, not just because I adore my niece and the only thing that could make me adore her more is her becoming a reader, but because I had wondered if this might be happening. I had wondered if Twilight made readers, as reportedly Harry Potter did. I've had conversations in the supermarket line with grown women who've read the books 5 times each but have not, then, taken the next natural step of seeking out more YA (just as too many adult Harry Potter readers don't go on to read other YA/MG fantasy). I didn't know what the story was with teens. Are they rereading Twilight to death, or are they picking up other books? (Librarians and parents out there? Any anecdotal evidence?)

There is one more thing I want to mention that ties in here, albeit in a sucky way. Having drinks recently (my good old fizzy water cocktail!) with some writer friends, I heard something very unsettling: a book by an author I don't know has been pushed by her publisher from this year to next, which is something that happens sometimes. Books get pushed. The reason this one did is because Barnes & Noble didn't pick it up. You may or may not know this, but Barnes & Noble is god and devil to writers, because: there is basically one national buyer for each category, and if they choose not to buy your book . . . well then, the chances of your book finding its way to readers diminish sadly. With the domino-like disappearance of independent bookstores, writers are increasingly dependent on chains to sell their books, and we are deeply, deeply grateful when they do. However, with one buyer for all the stores, and limited shelf space, there are books that get left out on a much larger scale than if an indie store here or there doesn't order it. There's no inherent evil at work: chains are certainly not out to stifle writers, but there's no getting around it: the death of independent book stores means: less choice for browsers.

But the reason any of this old news is relevant is that in this particular case, the rumored reason that B&N did not pick up this title was because they only want dark, edgy YA, a la Twilight. Eeeeek!

Okay, this is total gossip-hearsay. I may have it all wrong. It may not be true. There's room and desire for every kind of book, right? Light humor romance, heartfelt historical, contemporary lit fic, sports books. Whatever. We need it all!! But if the story of my niece is an epidemic, if there are hundreds and thousands of teen girls who've run out of Twilight and need more, and they're going into bookstores and libraries asking what to read next that's like Twilight . . . maybe bookstores are responding to that.

It's a trend-driven business. Of course. It's the readers' fault, not the bookstores', right, at the root of things? The stores are only responding to demand. Publishers are consistently valiant in the way they go on publishing untrendy good books as much as they possibly can, though I think they often have no choice but to put their promotion dollars toward the trendy "hot" titles, which nowadays seem to be the dark, edgy, supernatural YA. (I ought not to complain about that trend just now, as Lips Touch fits that description!) Thank goodness for libraries, who will support a wide range of titles. But publishers and writers can't depend just on library sales, and besides Amazon, B&N has to be the single biggest book channel out there, yeah? I think?

Anyway, this is all just interesting as a good news/bad news scenario. Great that new readers are being "minted" as teens, too bad that trends make or break good books. I suppose that's nothing new, but in our increasingly corporate, chain-store world, perhaps trends have more influence than they ever did before.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Where I send you off on a scavenger hunt through the internet

In my last post, I pushed you right out the door to read someone else's blog, and today I must do the same. It might be considered lazy blogging, and it might even be considered rude ("thanks for coming, now move along!"), but really there are just things one must see and read, things not by me. Maybe it's better we think of this as a scavenger hunt! Ooh, fun. Okay, meet back here in 20 minutes with: some Dave McKean awe, some Joni Sensel advice, and some sniggering behind your hand at me and my marketing *skills.* Ready? Now . . . scatter!

First, Jules and Eisha at 7-Imp, who always put up the most amazing illustrator interviews complete with art (writer interviews too), have completely outdone themselves this time with their awesome Dave McKean interview. Dave McKean. Sigh. You might know him from his Neil Gaiman collaborations (like the Sandman covers, The Graveyard Book cover and illustrations, picture books like The Wolves in the Walls, and the gorgeous film Mirrormask, among other things). You may be of the comic-book-nerd persuasion and know him as the God he is in that sphere. But even if you know all that stuff, there is So. Much. More. This is what I think of Dave McKean: there is talent fountain in the place where souls are minted, and most souls are allowed only a sip--if any at all. But Dave McKean's soul snuck in after hours when the night watchman was snoozing, and he drank and drank and drank and drank some more. All night he drank. Talent tastes pretty good, after all, and he was thirsty. Seriously, check it out. Dave McKean makes my head explode, and if all the art isn't enough, he has to go and be all clever and nice, too! GREAT post, Eisha & Jules! (The above McKean image, though, I just pulled off Google Images.)

Next, some terrific advice from author Joni Sensel (pronounced "Johnny") on revising, specifically: cutting out the boring. All of it. And then some that isn't boring too. When Joni was at work on her just-released The Farwalker's Quest, she planned it as two volumes, as the manuscript came in at 120,000 words or so. However, her editor wanted it to be just one book, and her editor said, "Get a'cuttin'." (Okay, I'm paraphrasing.) How is an author to cut 30,000 words from a manuscript??? That's, like, a whole BOOK! Well, Joni has some ideas for ways to get the trimming started, and they are very clever! Since I am currently tussling with enjoying every moment of a w.i.p. that has delusions of trilogy-ness, I found this Very Helpful.

It's a post from a few weeks ago; I missed it when it was "fresh" and then I wanted to wait until I finished reading The Farwalker's Quest which I did last night, so I can now recommend it! It's a middle-grade fantasy adventure set in a vaguely post-apocalyptic world, some time after the Blind War changed the face of civilization. Humanity has shunned the technology that led them to such cataclysm, and folks live simple, pastoral lives. The thing that saw them through the terrible times after the war was the existence of people with simple magical gifts: healing, tree-speaking, wind-talking, and the like.

Now, when children are 13 they must take their apprenticeship tests, and those few who have inherited these magical gifts try for those positions; others become fishers or reapers. Young Ariel and Zeke are both nervous on the eve of their Naming, Zeke because the tree that has always spoken to him has suddenly stopped, at this worst of all possible times, and Ariel because of a vague unease that she may not actually be a healer like her mother. Then, the very day before the ceremony, they discover something with profound consequences: embedded in Zeke's tree, a "telling dart," a magical dart used in olden times to send important messages over great distances. The problem is, no one knows how to send them anymore, much less read them. so, where did it come from? And then, hard on its trail come two not-so-nice men with the gift of Finding, and nothing is ever going to be the same again . . .

Joni sets up a great mystery right away, and puts her characters on a dangerous quest. It's a thoroughly enjoyable story which, as you might guess from the drastic trimming she did on it, moves along at a terrific pace.

Last link of the day, writer/marketing guru Shelli at "Faeriality" has an interview with . . . ME! It's about my, erm, um, marketing prowess. Ahem. While struggling to answer the questions, I discovered that perhaps marketing is not a natural strength of mine. Heh heh. Seeing as how it's a big year for me, with several books coming out in various forms, I need to be working some marketing wizardry, but alas, what I really want to be doing is writing the next book!!! Writing's hard enough, and then comes the part where you have to, you know, persuade people to read what you have written. And not just read it, but hopefully even buy it. Some writers have natural-born marketing juice in their veins--maybe there's a "marketing" fountain next to the talent one in that mystical soul-mint, and some people drink of both (like Shelli?), but most only one or the other? Anyway, without further ado, HERE are the tales of my, ahem, marketing genius. Thank you, Shelli!!!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Unspeakable Rites of Librarians, As Observed by Writer James Kennedy In the Form of an Extrasomatic Miasma

I'm not even finished reading THE MOST HILARIOUS BLOG POST I HAVE EVER READ -- I felt such a powerful compulsion to rush over here and tell you to read it too. Oh my god. I'm reading this post the same way I read James Kennedy's amazing debut novel, The Order of Odd-Fish (which I reviewed HERE) -- which is: agape, and wishing I was reading it with someone so we could be agape together. I think that is the ideal way to read James Kennedy: in pairs or groups, so you can exclaim, "Listen to this!" and "Oh. My. God," and, repeatedly, "How did he think of that?" and there is somebody there to agree with you. I think it would be very satisfying.

I should say, just in case you read the post and feel a troubling sense that perhaps James Kennedy does not adore librarians as much as he should (umm, I don't know why you might think that) -- and I hope I'm not spoiling anything by giving this away -- James is actually married to a librarian, and expecting a half-writer, half-librarian stork delivery some time, I believe, quite soon.

Anyway, if you didn't heed me before and read The Order of Odd-Fish, now's your chance. The book is hilarious too! Okay, now I'm going to go back and finish reading the post. Cheers!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Wonderful mail

I received something very awesome in the mail yesterday: a little package from a 14-year-old reader (whose blog can be found HERE). It included, among many fun things, an adorable hand-crocheted elephant for the baby, a drawing of Magpie holding a human-size chocolate bar (remember: Magpie loves chocolate!), and a brilliantly written piece of fiction entitled HOW THE LAST PAGE OF THE DREAMDARK SERIES IS NOT ALLOWED TO GO. IF IT GOES LIKE THIS I WILL DROP IT IN THE BATHTUB. There follows devastating imagining of the conclusion to my series in which the forest of Dreamdark is laid waste by marauding humans and Magpie sits numb over Talon's dead body. Then turns him into a tree. Which then burns down. (!!!!!!!) Did I say it was brilliantly written? It fills me with complete glee. There is, at the end, a hand-written plea to not kill Talon. I loved this entire package! Thank you so much, Lexi. It completely made my week! Month!

(Lexi, by the way, was one of the winners of my Silksinger early-draft "contest" -- she read and gave feedback back in the summer before I did a new round of revisions.)

In other package news, funnily enough, at the same time that I mailed some cookies and other things to Stephanie, she mailed some cookies and other things to us! They reached their destinations one day apart, as if they were a planned cookie exchange, but in fact it was a total coincidence! Thank you Steph! (And for the baby's very first board books, too!)

Bloggers are awesome package-senders, and I got a terrific one a little while back from the queen of all blog-friend gift-giving, Heather, who famously (to me), knitted a doll version of me complete with pink hair and a tiny copy of Blackbringer! Included in this new package, along with stationery and goodies and coolness like a little book about zombies on picnics, was: a gorgeous hand-made baby blanket! Now, the thing is, this was before I told anyone I was pregnant!!! I mean, I was pregnant, but I hadn't said so. Heather has pregnancy telepathy!!!!

Thank you lovely gifty ladies. I [heart] blog-friends!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Complicated relationship to "romance"

You know what I'm not too keen on in romance story lines? Long, melodramatic separations, where lovers are *ripped apart* and must live their lives without each other for years and years -- marry other people (miserably). Pine away and grow thin and pale. And why? Maybe because one believes the other is dead, while the supposedly dead one is busy being supposedly dead because of some dumb misunderstanding. Or maybe one of them is just an a**hole (which I thought was totally the case in Eva Ibbotson's A Song For Summer which completely put me off, though I love some of her other books.) Anyway, however many drear years later, once they're not young and cute any more, they get to be together. Ick!

I was reading this fat, fat historical by a writer of an award-winning YA novel, and I was somewhat surprised to discover that her adult novels are not so *award-winning.* I mean, they are guilty pleasure books. And there was pleasure, until there wasn't. The historical part was interesting, there was some nice spiciness and she's a good storyteller, but I started sensing a *ripped apart* coming on, so I cheated and skimmed ahead, reading a little here, a little there, and piecing together the terrible maudlin un-fun-ness that was to come. Really. Lies, murder, having to marry a maniac so one's lovechild will not be born out of wedlock when one's true love is off being supposedly dead. And by the time the lovers are reunited, he's "gaunt." Where's the fun in that? I couldn't finish it, knowing what was coming.

The worst case of *ripped apartness* I can remember is [SPOILER ALERT]: Corelli's Mandolin, which I thought was really gripping up until the utterly miserable ending. Talk about the hero becoming an a**hole! Anyone else read that? I didn't see the movie, but I'm guessing they changed the ending, because man did Captain Corelli turn into a suckhole.

I have an uneasy relationship with romance because: I LOVE romance in a story -- in my opinion, any book is better with a dash of spice and yearning (yes, any book; try me) but I HATE goopy icky sentimental shmaltz. It makes me embarrassed for the writer, and for myself. I love the elements of a romance novel -- exotic settings, big feelings -- but I want it to be smart and unembarrassing, with real characterization (well, you know, sort of real. I don't mind them all to be pretty and just a bit more clever than they ought to be!) and a strong plot and an interesting world, be it historical, contemporary, or fantasy.

And I do not want the heroine ever ever EVER to be named something absurd like "Preshy" (short for Precious.) GACK BLAAAGH!!! I came across that in an Amazon review when I was looking up something to do with Italy. I did NOT read the book, nor was I looking to, I swear. It was a random link. Preshy!!! I think I just threw up a little, in my mouth.

The thing is, I DO like guilty pleasure books, sometimes a LOT -- I loved Company of Swans even though the it was a little embarrassing and the heroine was shiningly and perfectly GOOD. And I devoured the totally guilty Black Jewels Trilogy, blushingly, because man, I should not have liked those books. But I DID. And I learned some things about storytelling from them, because guilty and embarrassing or not, Anne Bishop knows how to never give you a place to close the book. Ever. Until the end. That's a skill to study up on, wherever you find it.

Anyway. I haven't really explored my *smart romance* options too much because I denied to myself for oh so long that I like romance in a book. I denied fantasy too. Being an English major can teach you to deny fun in reading! Maybe one of the reasons YA is so awesome is that it mingles elements like this so effortlessly, and without going overboard into the land of embarrassment. Well. I don't know. I just thought of some obvious exceptions to that premise. Maybe it's not true!

Thoughts on romance? Any total pet peeves? Examples of delicious absurdity? Recommendations?

Some books I loved that have romance in them are:
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (YA, cross-over)
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (YA, fairy tale)
Ever by Gail Carson Levine (YA, mythic)
Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling (YA, very teen)
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson

I'm sure I'm leaving out some major ones. This was mostly gleaned from skimming my Goodreads or just the few on the tip of my mind. I want to clarify that I don't read "romance novels", not bodice-rippery things, that's too much guilty and no pleasure. For me. Outlander-type books are about as guilty as I get, and yes, that's a romance novel, but it's not a churned-out one. It even had a *ripped apart* as I recall, and maybe that's why I didn't read the second one -- I think I read the beginning and lost the will to continue. Anyway. Others?

And for fun, I just randomly found these, um, altered covers, on the web. Funny!

P.S. Forgive me for being too lazy to put in links. Any of the above books will pop up on Amazon if you're interested.

[Oh! And my belly has been fizzy as a fish tank today. Not in any way I've quite felt before, so I can only assume it's a little someone swimming around, but I can't be sure. It's gurgly and burbly. So odd! Is it Small Human doing this?]

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Some thoughts about determination versus confidence

I'm not quite sure why I got started thinking about this today, but I did. I have an acquaintance who is a very gifted writer but suffers crippling self-doubt that has, so far, prevented her from achieving her dream of writing -- and publishing -- a novel. She soul-searches a lot and goes in cycles, up and down, and the ups are beautiful and full of epiphanies, the kind of epiphanies out of which beautiful writing blooms. Just, so far the ups have not been sustained long enough for an entire book to make its way into the world. Doubt rolls back around and derails her.

I suffer cycles too. Really, every writer I know has them: the peaks and troughs of good writing days versus bad ones. Euphoria to despair and back again.

For those of us who have made it through and finished a book as well as we possibly can . . . how did we? I was thinking about this acquaintance, rooting for her and wondering what it might take for her to pull it off, and the word "confidence" entered my mind.

But no, I thought. That's not it. Confidence is not what it takes to finish a book. I mean, it's great if you've got it, but you don't need it. What you do need is determination, and that's something that's easier to come by. I think, anyway. Confidence is this kind of full trust in one's abilities, and I most certainly did not have that when I was writing Blackbringer. I did, however, have a mulish determination to do it. It wasn't that I knew I could do it, it was that I really really wanted to. I mean, really really. Really.


And that, as it turned out, was enough. You don't have to believe in yourself all the time; you don't have to read self-help books and fix your self-esteem problems before you can succeed. You just have to be stubborn and keep on and keep on. Instead of the Little Engine saying "I know I can, I know I can," you can, to be cornball, instead be the Little Engine that says, "I won't quit, I won't quit." It's kind of easier. For me, anyway.

So that's what I was thinking about.

Now, today I began a new-old regimen of getting up at 6 to write for a few hours before breakfast. It's a small change; lately I've been getting up at 7:30-8. But back when I decided to get serious (and mulish) about Blackbringer and really write the sucker at last, I started the 6 am thing and it worked for me -- the quiet morning dark, and just the sense it gave me that I was doing something with a strong sense of purpose. But I have let that slide, and for this month at least, I'm getting back to it -- just to renew the sense of purpose and hopefully have a kick-ass writing month. I did have a good writing morning, yay, and so the month begins.

Just to confess a little something, even though I love my w.i.p. and want to smother it with kisses, I still got tempted to start something else last week! What the hell??? It has GOT to be evil gremlins! Temptation-imps? An anti-muse? I don't know, but it's bad, bad, bad. BAD. Temptation averted, I am back on track. But geez. Really? I even placed an unnecessary Amazon order for books related to the evil new idea. I've shelved that interloper-idea before the order even arrives. Ha ha!

I read on somebody's blog that these interlopers can be called "slutty new ideas," tee hee hee. Stephanie and I call them "newts," which comes from NWT, or New Weird Thing. The thing is, my w.i.p. is a newt! Seeing how IT started life as a temptress and lured me away from another perfectly decent novel, how can it ever trust me to be faithful to IT? It's a conundrum! But it needn't worry. I'm not going anywhere. I'm writing this book. I am DETERMINED.