April 14, 2014, 12.05 pm
Oof. Well, MrD's 2-1/2-week-long school holidays have started with nearly the whole family getting a Death Cold, in combination with various other complications. Sigh. Patrick has a major freelance deadline at the end of the holidays, so I'm trying very hard to make sure he gets enough writing time every day; as for me, though, I've mostly just been flopping onto the bed in my time off, these past few days...oh, and blowing my nose and moaning. Very decorative, as you can imagine! ;)
On the upside, I'm having strong urges to start reading historical nonfiction again, for the first time in ages, which is a big personal relief. History books - especially books on time periods that really fascinate me - have always been some of my favorite things to read, as well as providing the best story-inspiration ever. For a long time now, though, I've been so exhausted (Baby X still won't sleep for more than an hour at a time!) that I've had to cut down my reading to fiction only - and only very light fiction, at that.
(You wouldn't believe how many excellent books I've had to give up on reading just because I couldn't cope with their darkness - or the necessary concentration levels - when I was so exhausted. Of course, it doesn't help that I do most of my reading at night while Baby X is keeping me awake! It's not the best time for any reading that requires brainpower.)
So the fact that in the last few days, I've actually found myself really, really wanting to sink into some good new-to-me history books feels like a wonderful sign that I'm finally coming back to myself post-pregnancy and childbirth. Whew!
Right now I'm reading the wonderfully named The Secret Rooms: A Castle Filled with Intrigue, a Plotting Duchess, and a Mysterious Death, by Catherine Bailey, which is so breathlessly paced and full of intrigue, it's the best possible re-introduction to nonfiction. I've also got Wendy Moore's Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's Worst Husband Met His Match and Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future sitting piled by the big rocking chair in our living room, waiting their turn in the queue.
Oh, and I've finally - finally! - got a copy of Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent, a really fabulous-looking adult historical fantasy novel. I can't wait!
What about you guys? What books are on your personal reading lists right now?
April 9, 2014, 12.37 pm
Whew. After three long weeks, my chest infection is finally all gone - and on Monday (aided by my just-arrived inspirational Elsa figurine), I had my first real writing session in 3-1/2 weeks!
I am sooooo much happier this week than I have been for the last few, I can't even begin to express it.
Of course, I also feel REALLY far behind where I'd expected to be by now, since I'd been writing 5,000 words a week on my Kat novella ("Courting Magic") in the weeks before Baby X and I got sick. So, honestly, I'd been hoping to be nearly finished by now, whereas I'm actually only about a third of the way through - and since this is a 4-day school week for MrD, followed by two and a half weeks of school holidays, I don't think I'm going to be getting back to that 5K/week writing model any time soon!
Oh, well. I'm having an enormous amount of fun with the story, and that's what really matters most. I love reading it out loud to Patrick after each writing session, especially when he laughs at some character interaction. I totally live for that kind of laugh! And he's already bought the image that's going to be used in the final cover! I'm hoping to finish first-drafting the novella by mid-May, then send it out for waves of critiques, then proof-reading, etc., and finally put it online sometime in late summer or (more likely) early autumn. But if the cover is finished earlier, I will definitely post it here! Because I can't wait.
And in other news...well, if you're one of my Facebook or Twitter friends, you'll already know this, but: this past weekend, I FELL IN LOVE - head over heels love - with a movie: Frozen. I know, I know, everyone else in the world had already seen it! But with Baby X still so small (and without any available babysitters for him), I'd never managed to see it in the theater despite all the friends who told me (rightly) that I had to see it. (One of them told me in an email that it was "the ultimate Steph movie". She was so right!) So instead, I pre-ordered the DVD, it arrived last Monday, I used all my willpower to hold off and not watch it until I could watch it with MrD on Saturday morning...
...and it was just wonderful. Sisters and magic and love and guilt and drama and humor - oh, and fabulous trolls! It really couldn't have been more perfect for me. (Or for MrD, for that matter - he says Frozen is not only his favorite movie but also his second-favorite, third-favorite, etc. It's swept the ratings, for him!)
But it wasn't just fun to watch. That's what movies I like usually are, and I really enjoy them. But every so often - very rarely, honestly - I'll watch a movie that turns a key somewhere inside me and sets my mind buzzing with new creative ideas. The very last Harry Potter film did that for me - I loved it so much, it reminded me what I'm really aiming at with writing - how powerful and fabulous fantasy stories can be. Then Frozen did it for me, this weekend. Something went ting! inside me when I watched it.
Ever since, I've been buzzing with ideas for all sorts of stories - a new opening scene for my Family Magic rewrite popped into my head, for one thing! They aren't Frozen-linked ideas or fan-fic - but watching Frozen reminded me of how great a story can be, how hard I can fall for it, with so much personal connection AND fun, and it made me want to try even harder as a writer. Better yet, it made me want to play.
What about you guys? Have you had that kind of response to any movies? Which ones?
April 6, 2014, 2.48 pm
Over on the Girls Heart Books blog, I'm blogging today about one of the silliest and yet most effective writing aids I know: inspirational figurines!
You can read the full entry here (and I'd love to read any comments either there or here).
April 2, 2014, 4.16 pm
It's been a tough week, since my chest infection turned zombie-like (or maybe vampiric?) and Would Not Die. So, not much got done apart from coughing...
But look what came via Twitter and cheered me up immensely!
Sally Jane Thompson, one of my favorite artists (and graphic novel writer/artists!) sent me this sketch of Kat! It makes me SO happy every single time I look at it. :)
In other Kat news, congratulations to sapphireone, Jen Petro-Roy, and Colette, who all won Kat jewelry in my giveaway! If you guys could use my contact form to let me know your mailing addresses and jewelry preferences (ring, necklace, earrings, or charm bracelet - let me know first, second and third choice and I'll see what I can do!), I'll get your jewelry out to you as soon as possible.
And I wanted to link everybody to this beautiful blog entry by Anne Nesbet, Out of the Blue: Embracing the Unexpected, in Writing and in Life. It's worth reading for all sorts of reasons, for anybody, but as a writer, one of my very favorite bits in it was:
I think that one of the most important things we can do, as writers of children’s books, is to hold out our hands to kids and say, “Yes! You’re right! Life is hard and it’s amazing! You are not alone.” Every book is a hand held out to a child, welcoming them as fellow human beings, for whom life is so hard and so amazing.
Good books help us all through. They tell us we’re not alone. They give us ways to imagine things being Otherwise, when ordinary life seems just way, way too hard. They connect us to other people who understand how things are, even if some of those other people are spiders (Charlotte’s Web! James and the Giant Peach!) or dragons or guinea-pigs or hobbits...
But really, you should just read the whole blog entry. :)
March 25, 2014, 12.34 pm
Today Stolen Magic is finally out in paperback in the U.S. and Canada! If you've been waiting to read it until it was in a cheaper edition (and oh, would I understand that!), now is your chance. And if you've already read it, I would SO appreciate any online signal-boosting, shout-outs, or reviews left on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or elsewhere! (Indiebound doesn't do reviews, as far as I can tell, but I do highly recommend it as a place to buy the book!)
(You can also read the first three chapters free online here.)
Yay for Kat! And yay for Charles, who finally meets his own true love after all his earlier mistakes...and Angeline, who finally gets her long-delayed wedding (at least if she can survive the worst pre-wedding houseparty ever!)...and Elissa, who has her own new developments which are too spoilery to discuss here...and for the whole trilogy, all of it out in paperback now!
Alas, I'm pretty sure the fall-out from last year's S&S/B&N feud is that none of my books are being stocked in most B&Ns at this point (they got un-stocked during the feud and never re-ordered afterwards), so Stolen Magic can really use all the help it can get in terms of reviews and signal-boosting.
(But if you do see it on any bookstore shelves, or get a copy that you've ordered, I would absolutely LOVE to see a photo! I haven't gotten my author copies yet, so I'm desperate to see what it actually looks like in paperback!) (And I would looooooove to be proven wrong in my impression of what's going on with Kat and B&N.)
The wonderful news is that I have a whole box full of Kat jewelry (made by the fabulous Emily Mah Tippetts) for giveaway! Some of that jewelry needs to wait for the "Courting Magic" e-publication (in summer or early autumn) and the boxed set in October...but it's definitely time to break some out now.
I have Kat charm bracelets...Kat rings...Kat necklaces...and Kat earrings!* And all you have to do to enter is to signal-boost Stolen Magic's paperback book-birthday somewhere on the internet, or review it (whether it's a positive or a negative review - I really don't mind! I'm going to get Patrick to be the one who reads the reviews if I feel a strong need to confirm for the giveaway, so I won't even see them), then come back here, tell me you want to enter the giveaway, and give me a link to your signal-boost or review. If you do both a signal-boost AND a review, you'll be entered twice in the giveaway!
This giveaway is international and open for a week - until midnight April 2, 204 - and I'll give four winners their choice of jewelry from my box. :)
And on a totally different note: my frothy rom-com story "The Wrong Foot" is an audio podcast now on Podcastle! You can listen to it online now.
*I am going to post photos of all of these pieces of jewelry in the next day or so, but alas, right now I'm struggling with a high fever and a chest infection that WILL NOT DIE, so I'm giving up on making this the perfect blog entry by adding photos at the moment. Sorry!