Showing posts from October, 2012

Austin Ceilings and Floors

As a writer, I'm a trained expert at anticipating what readers desire. This is how I know you've all been anxiously waiting for me to post pictures from the dome in the Texas Capitol building rotunda.

Also, the ceilings at the Driskill Hotel.

Notes from Austin

I'm highly suspicious of the JetBlue flight status page that tells me I'm going to be flying to Boston tomorrow evening.

In the meantime, some notes from Austin.

I was intrigued by this enormous and peculiar magnifying glass in the author reception area of the Texas Capitol building.

So I took an experimental picture of Jasper Fforde through it.

Perhaps I'll never, ever post a picture on my blog of an author you can actually see.

Okay, fine.

Here's me, author Cinda Williams Chima, children's editor for Kirkus Reviews Vicky Smith, and author Jasper Fforde. Our fantasy panel was packed with people and frankly one of the most fun panels I've ever been on.

Speaking of fun, you need to look at the Halloween costumes picture book artist Tad Hills makes for his kids.

It's Hard to Leave Texas (At Least, in This Dimension)

I mean that in the physical sense. Last time I was trying to leave Texas, I sprained my ankle. This time I'm trying to leave Texas and this mega-storm has pretty much canceled every flight to the East Coast until at least Tuesday.

I'm actually rather cheerful about it. I'm fortunate in that my only plans were to go home, then be at home, writing, having my normal life. Of course I have sympathy for everyone for whom this creates serious problems – it totally sucks (and seriously, why are flights canceled today to places where landfall isn't expected until tomorrow?). But I feel like I've been given this little gift of time, in a sunny place, with other stranded friends on hand, on some sort of plane (not the flying kind) outside my regular life.

One small thing was worrying me – I didn't bring my calendar to Austin, and without my calendar in front of me, I can never remember my plans or my to-do list. But my dear darling friend B just went to my house, unearth…

Dear Teen Me Panel update

A quick note to any readers who were hoping to see me or get books signed by me at the Dear Teen Me panel this evening: a conflict has come up and I'm no longer going to be able to join the panel. (The panel will go on; go see all the other great authors!) I will be signing books at my other events – a signing this morning and my panel this afternoon with Cinda Williams Chima and Jasper Fforde – click on my Appearance Schedule to the left for more details.

Pretty Drinks in Austin

David Levithan, Margo Rabb, Rebecca Stead, and me. Cucumber martini, Lobo Texas lager, pomegranate margarita, and straight vodka. I'll leave it to you to guess who drank what. (And just kidding about that vodka. That's a glass of water ^_^.) I wanted a picture of all the drinks, but David and Margo didn't want to be in the picture. This was their graceful solution.

We're all at the Texas Book Festival, by the way.

An Important Reminder

For those mornings when you wake up and find yourself wondering, Hmm, what strange thing happened to me overnight? Weirdness and worry, you are welcome in my day: come on in.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door, laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

- Rumi

It's Fall in Mt Auburn Cemetery

Many more behind this cut, but only click if you're okay with getting leafed out.  My favorite place to visit on a sunny day in October! Click on any pic to enbiggen.

These Are the People in Your Neighborhood, Part Deux

Action Katsa ---->

I wish that instead of being a random person who just went for a run along the Charles River, I were a videographer who just went for a walk along the Charles River with all my equipment. There was, of course, all the usual activity: backed-up rush-hour traffic; heavy foot and bike commuter traffic on the paths; bikers, runners, and walkers exercising; people walking their dogs; people doing tai chi; people sitting on benches, smoking pot; confused tourists; hordes of geese pretty much parking themselves wherever they wanted and biting anyone who lacked the wisdom to give them a wide berth. And, it was raining slightly, so: PRETTY UMBRELLAS. But also, ALSO, it's The Head of the Charles this weekend (that's this big-ass rowing competition), so there were hundreds of boats and thousands of rowers traveling up and down the river, practicing, while their coaches yelled at them from speedboats. There were brawny people putting up tents, vendors driving their …

More October Randutiae -- Including Something About Self-Exposure as a Writer

I like the funny political videos the folks at are creating. Rosie Perez sets Mitt straight on whether it's easier to get elected as a Latino; Sarah Silverman and Lizz Winstead agree with Mitt that people aren't people, corporations are people; and here's W. Kamau Bell, who hates science:

(Thanks, B.)


Sometimes, after doing a search for a particular song in my iTunes library, I take a look at the whole range of songs the search brought up and use that as my random morning playlist. For example, this morning, I'm listening to all the songs in my library that appeared when I searched for the word "heart." This includes "Sleight of Heart" by Aaron English (you should all be listening to the songs of Aaron English); "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young; "Empty Hearts" by Alison Krauss; "Learning to Fly" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; "Love Montage: I Saw Him Once/In My Life/A Heart Full of Love" fr…

JonArno Lawson's New Book of Poetry; Plus, Some Randutiae

JonArno Lawson doesn't see the world the way other people do, THANK GOODNESS. His most recent book release is Down in the Bottom of the Bottom of the Box, surreal poems decorated with the paper cuts of artist Alec Dempster.

The Human Being

Bombard its brain with cosmic rays.
redden its eyes with Mars --
set its tiny heart ablaze
upon a heap of stars.
Burning Hot Banana

I bought a burning hot banana from a bin in Indiana
with a burning hot and sticky splitting freckly yellow skin --
splotchy-rotten overripe -- thick enough to clog a pipe --
when I think of it today I sweat and sicken from within.
Some of these poems actually had me howling. There's one called "A Coarse and Common Carrot" and another called "The Alleycat Alley-Allocator Acting like an Alligator." Others just left me wondering, thinking, smiling, like the series about solar bears, lunar foxes and moonwolves. This book is gorgeously published by The Porcupine's Quill in Ontario and would mak…

Swan Neck Gourds

In the window at Nellie's Wildflowers in Davis Square (72 Holland Street). Awesome.

Why Cats Are Superior Creatures: A Photoessay

My thanks to Violet, Titus, Merry, Pippin, Julianne, and JD :o). Give us some dignity for the road, Violet?

This Never Happened When I Worked in Midtown Manhattan

Cantabrigians, how happy you make me on rainy days with your diverse display of beautiful, colorful umbrellas. I've lived in so many places where people think the only color for an umbrella is black.

It turns out it's hard to take pictures of people's colorful umbrellas (while also holding an umbrella and various other things yourself) without either freaking people out or dropping your phone into a puddle, so instead, I tried to take a picture of my own umbrella this morning... I think there was a mirror inside this establishment (see the square behind the black cabinet, which contains a tiny bright rectangle that is the reflection of me in the window? (THANK YOU JD FOR FIGURING THAT OUT)), so there's some kind of weird double reflection going on. To be honest, I couldn't figure out what was going on with the double reflection at the time. I couldn't see a mirror in there, and my puzzled peering seemed to be confusing the people inside, so finally I gave up. (…

Putting My Most Frequently-Asked Question to Bed

Warning: This post contains Fire spoilers.

Where do you get the inspirations for your novels?

There's are two fundamental problems with this question: (1) It contains incorrect assumptions about where a book comes from. The tiniest proportion of a book -- let's say 3% -- comes from inspiration. (2) It's also unanswerable. Where does that sliver of inspiration come from? I have no idea. Where do your ideas come from? Mine come from the same – unnameable – place as yours.

A few tiny, incomplete ideas come to me. A woman who secretly killed her own father. A green house and a big tree. Enemies who are trying to steal something from the realm, but the realm can't figure out what they're after. Okay, fine. Now it's time to sit down with a pen and paper and start working toward something I can use in a book. I start trying things; I start asking myself questions.

This morning I went digging through my files and was able to find some of the pages of my planning work …

Bicicletas and Biciclette

One night in Copenhagen, I was waiting for the hotel elevator, when two Danish men about my age stepped out of their room. One of them belched loudly as he stepped into the corridor -- then saw me, and was embarrassed. They both started chuckling, and speaking to me, both at once, in Danish.

"I'm sorry," I said in English, "I don't speak --." Then I stopped, because I couldn't remember what country I was in or which language it was that I couldn't speak this time. This happens when you keep crossing borders; a few hours ago, I'd been in Sweden; the next day, I was going to be in Spain.

"Oh, you don't speak that language?" one of them said, speaking English now. "It was a Danish word for --" and he went on to explain to me how his friend hadn't actually belched, he'd been saying something very intelligent in Danish. :)

The next day, when I told my cab driver in Madrid the address of my hotel, he began speaking to …

A Tale of Border-Crossing Mail

Over the weekend  I visited the NAIBA conference in Arlington, VA, to accept an award for Bitterblue along with Ian Schoenherr. Ian is the fellow responsible for the beautiful illustrations and decorations in Bitterblue: the chapter and part openings, the title page, the endpapers, the maps, the bridges, etc.

Ian and I had some trouble getting a nice picture together.

Matters improved when stupendous editor Kathy Dawson stepped in.

During my acceptance remarks, I told an anecdote about something that happened after Bitterblue was released, and I think I'll share it here. What happened is that Ian sent me my two favorite sketches from the process as a gift -- sketches of two fantastical bridges. And when they appeared on my doorstep, they had an effect on me that I doubt he anticipated... because here's the thing. There's a little bit of handwriting in Bitterblue.It's in the Appendix, in the "Who's Who" written by my crabby royal librarian, Death (rhymes …