Monday, September 28, 2009

Authors, Appearances, Anxiety, and Dropping One's Pants

I'm annoyed that my voice recognition software recognizes Ludwig Wittgenstein on the first try but doesn't recognize Miss Marple. Humph. (To be fair, it doesn't recognize Lord Peter Wimsey, either. But nor does it recognize Luce Irigaray. But it recognizes Jo March. But not Gilbert Blythe. AARGHHH!)

(Incidentally, my favorite VRS kerfuffle recently was when I dictated, "He dropped his pen suddenly and stood with eyes closed, massaging his hand," and my computer wrote, "He dropped his pants suddenly and stood with eyes closed, massaging his hand.")

So, I leave for Vail on Wednesday, followed by many cities in a short amount of time, and since I've never done a tour before, I'm not sure how much blogging time I'll have. Don't be surprised if you don't hear from me regularly for the next few weeks. (The tour ends October 15.)

There's an FAQ about being an introvert and dealing with appearance anxiety that I've been wanting to answer for some time. The thing is, I understand the question completely. I'm a tried and true scaredy-cat. But... I don't think I have anything profound to say. I have adjusted -- like crazy -- to a new way of living. This time last year I could not have done this conference followed by this tour. I simply couldn't have done it; I was too overwhelmed and frightened. Now, here I am, I leave in two days, and sure, I'm stressed out (I have a lot of laundry to do and I can't decide how many pairs of shoes to bring and I can't decide if one of my orchids needs a south-facing window while I'm gone and I think one of my speeches might be dumb), but I feel okay. I mean, what can I do? I'm prepared; I'll do my best; it'll be fine.

I think my answer to the "how does one deal with appearance anxiety" question is this: (1) When appropriate, prepare, prepare, PREPARE. (2) Do things, even though they're terrifying, and over time, you'll probably find that they get a lot less terrifying. And in the process, you'll learn which things you like to do and which things you don't; you'll learn how to say, No, I don't want to do that particular thing; and you'll decide what kind of author you want to be. You'll get to know yourself as an author, and even better, you'll come to trust yourself... and (*cue violin*) you'll learn that it's okay to just be yourself. :o) Roll your eyes, but it's true. And really, truly, it'll be okay. You can do this.

Here is a wise thing my editor said to me once: "Don't let fear make your decisions."

Here is a wise thing a dear friend wrote to me once: "Throw pleasing everyone out the window. Throw pleasing anyone out the window. Just do things for yourself. Just be you. There is no way on earth that just being you is not enough -- just being you is galaxies more than enough."

And here are a few lines I love from the movie Three Kings:

Archie: You're scared, right?
Conrad: Maybe.
Archie: The way it works is, you do the thing you're scared shitless of, and you get the courage after you do it, not before you do it.
Conrad: That's a dumbass way to work. It should be the other way around.
Archie: I know. That's the way it works.


Be well, everyone. Have a good few weeks -- I'll write when I can. And we'll see just how adjusted and courageous I'm feeling on Friday at noon, when I'm about to give a keynote speech ^_^. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rethinking the Blog

So, the blog posts I like to write are the ones that don't have anything to do with news. They're the posts about random thoughts, the poetry or poll posts, the posts in which I answer FAQs or talk about writing and life. They are NOT the posts in which I say, guys, here's what's happening to my books in the world. And recently I've felt overwhelmed by news in my own posts.... and that's why I've decided to make a link on the left for news, and put all news there. If anything spectacular happens, of course I'll mention it in a blog post (I'll let you know if I win the Nobel Prize in physics, make the Olympic figure skating team, or sprout an extra head, all of which are equally likely), but from now on, any news will be recorded behind my News link, and not here. Make sense? We'll see how it works.

This leaves me free to talk about the three most recent books I've read and loved!

So, I'm really terrible at writing book reviews, and I also happen to find it torturous, so instead I'm just going to blather.

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith (YA fantasy)
Crown Duel takes place in a medieval fantasy world of relative gender equality! *flops* It's a damn good read and it did the thing I love fantasy novels to do most, which is to help me rethink, and get re-excited about, the book I'm writing. My copy of Crown Duel is now packed with post-it flags and notes to myself about things to think about regarding Bitterblue -- things like how castles and governments work, how to convey emotion, and how to write a beautiful sentence.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (YA realism)
At the beginning of this book, I wanted one thing for Marcelo, but by the end, what I wanted for him had changed completely -- because Marcelo grew SO MUCH. What a beautiful coming of age story this is, and how I came to love Marcelo. I also felt like he was teaching me how to process my own stuff in my own life; this book was therapeutic for me ^_^. And beautifully written, and gentle, and the title and the cover are also perfect. One of my favorite 2009 books so far, if not my favorite.

Black Stars in a White Night Sky by JonArno Lawson (poetry)
Some of these poems are silly, some are just plain beautiful, and all of them play games with language. Why don't I just share a couple to give you an idea?

Bigger and Better

I'm going to do something bigger and better,
bigger and better
and bolder, but first,
I'm going to do something
smaller and worse.

Are You Worried?

Are you worried you're not
like everyone else?
Your worries will only worsen
when you find
that the path to conformity
is different for each person.

What are you reading these days?

Monday, September 21, 2009

In Which Schmetterling Is My New Favorite Word

The discussion of favorite and least favorite words has been delightful. I've learned that Schmetterling is the German word for butterfly -- isn't it beautiful?

So, do you ever feel like you need a good cry -- not necessarily because anything terrible has happened, but just because you need to clear out your system and process things? What do you do in times like that? I do things like listen to sad music (like Barber's Adagio for Strings -- here's a gorgeous choral version), or meditate, or watch the My So-Called Life episode where Sharon's dad is in the hospital (that one gets me weeping every time!). My sister, secret codename: Cordelia, used to be very accommodating when I needed a cry and couldn't seem to get started -- she would offer to give me a good kick or something. (Cordelia is a therapist. Real good with that emotions stuff. ^_^.)

I've been a little overwhelmed lately, and I haven't had time to arrange for a good cry. But in the meantime, here's one thing I've been able to process: one of my orchids is white, but the backs of the petals have some pink in them, so when sunlight shines through the petals, the petals glow pink. Oh my goodness, I love it. Here's something else I can process: I will get to see the babies for a day on my tour!

What little things do you love?

Happy (late) Rosh Hashanah to any of my readers celebrating the New Year :o)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Which the Author Is So Grateful She Falls Over. Also, Here's What to Do if You Have a Few Minutes

Today I'm starting with a thank you to my readers. THANK YOU for making Graceling a bestseller in Germany, and THANK YOU for putting the American paperback of Graceling on next week's (Sep 27) New York Times bestseller list! I am overwhelmed. I am staring blankly like a slow loris. And giggling.


So, how much time do you have?
  • If you have an hour today, listen to last week's This American Life, on the subject of frenemies. Here's the description from the website: "This week we bring you stories about friends. Or wait, enemies? How about both? Tales of estranged sisters, BFFs breaking up and making up and breaking up, and how reality stars walk the fine line between making friends and making a name for themselves." I LOVED this episode. Why do we continue relationships with frenemies? David Rakoff's poem, just past the halfway point, pretty much summed it up for me.
  • If you have 20 seconds today, watch the beautiful and lovely Roger Federer make a SICK shot in the semi-finals of the US Open. If you have 2 minutes, watch it in replay a couple times. (h/t, colorwheel, for the link ^_^)
  • If you don't have time (or the connectivity) for any of that, check this out: the cover for Volume 2 of the Danish Graceling. Click to make it bigger; I used the Volume 1 cover above in case you want to compare. (I also posted about the Volume 1 cover back in April.) My lovely editor at Tellerup says that "Bedrageren" means "the imposter." Thanks to artist Bent Holm for another beautiful cover! What do you all think?

Thanks again, everyone. Happy Thursday :o)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Two Reminders and a Question

Hi everyone! I'm sneaking in a Wednesday post just to remind y'all about my live chat at readergirlz this evening at 9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific. The chat will take place here and last an hour; feel free to stop by!

Also, the blog tour has begun; the schedule is here if you're interested in following along.

And now, the question. First, some context: I'm preparing for the Sirens conference in Vail in October, and am thinking a lot about language and identity. Do you have a favorite word or words? If so, will you share it/them with me in the comments, and explain why you love that word or words? And if it's appropriate, may I incorporate your comment into the speech I'm writing? I will, of course, cite you. ^_^

ETA: What about least favorite words? Please feel free to share/explain them, too!

Please remember that I only see comments posted at my Blog Actual. (Although I'm not sure this even matters at the moment, because livejournal feed syndication seems to be broken, so no one on lj is getting my posts this week anyway! AAARGH!)


Thanks! Tomorrow I'll return to my normal M/Th blogging schedule.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Poll About True Love. (And Slow Lorises ^_^)

Everyone, please feel free to vote in today's important poll of importance! (If you're reading this post somewhere other than my Blog Actual and cannot see the poll, please click here.)

Never seen a slow loris being tickled? Well, here you go:

Happy Monday, everyone.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blog Tour News

Hi everyone!

So, next week I start a three-week blog tour. The theme of the tour is "Getting to Know the Characters of Fire," which means that at each stop on the tour, I'll introduce a character (or characters) from Fire. My character intros have been carefully screened by a team of experts (read: my patient and generous friends Deborah, Sam, and JD -- thanks, guys) to ensure that they're accurate (*ahem* for example, Sam pointed out that I was calling a character by the wrong name) AND not too spoilery. Each of my host bloggers will be giving away a signed finished copy. So -- if you're curious about Fire -- or interested in checking out a bunch of cool book blogs -- or if you'd like 15 chances to win a signed copy -- check it out. The schedule is below.

I'll close by sending a big thank you to my host bloggers. Thanks to each of you for letting me visit! I'd also like to thank Jillian Laks, the wizard at Penguin who organized the tour!

The schedule:

1. Monday, 9/14 - The Compulsive Reader
2. Tuesday, 9/15 - Pop Culture Junkie
3. Wednesday, 9/16 - Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
4. Thursday, 9/17 - The Page Flipper
5. Friday, 9/18 - Reading Keeps You Sane

6. Monday, 9/21 - Presenting Lenore
7. Tuesday, 9/22 - In Bed With Books
8. Wednesday, 9/23 - Melissa's Bookshelf
9. Thursday, 9/24 - Shaken & Stirred
10. Friday, 9/25 - The Frenetic Reader

11. Monday, 9/28 -
12. Tuesday, 9/29 - The Book Smugglers
13. Wednesday, 9/30 - Fantasy Book Critic
14. Thursday, 10/1 - Hope's Bookshelf
15. Friday, 10/2 - The Story Siren

I'll be blogging here, as usual, during the blog tour. I'm hoping to cover a few more FAQs... plus, I have a poll taking form in my mind. It's about desert islands and slow lorises. (And true love. ^_^)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Welcome, September

It's been a while since I've lived in a place where September marks a true change in season, so the weather in Massachusetts lately has been making me beside myself with happiness. In Florida, the weather didn't dip below the 80s (I mean, even at night) until maybe November. In my excitement, I've been dressing too warmly. Autumn, you are welcome!

Those of you who've been reading my blog for a while know I used to walk along the St. Johns River almost every day. Well, now I walk along the Charles River... no pelicans, but there are geese, and crew teams in long, graceful boats. It's lovely. And one of the windows in my new home faces the rising moon :o).

Anyway... September. So, Bitterblue is, by nature, a slow write.... and the last few months have been full of distractions (moving, beautiful babies, you name it).... and the next few months are going to be even more distracting (the tour, other work-related travel). But right now I have September. September is going to be a month free of travel and relatively free of distractions, and I am going to write a whole lot. TRY TO STOP ME AT YOUR OWN PERIL.

So far, it's going well. ^_^

A teeny bit of business:
  • I now have an Indonesian publisher, Gramedia, and a Swedish publisher, Semic. yAt! Thanks to my new publishers for taking on my books.
  • Have you checked out readergirlz this month? Among other things, you can listen to the playlist I assembled for Graceling, which, I admit, was not an easy thing to do. Graceling will be discussed at the readergirlz blog all month -- I'll be there commenting -- and feel free to join the live chat with me on September 16th, at 9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific... where I assume everyone will learn what a terrible typist I am?
  • Go vote for your favorite fantasies at 101 of the Best Fantasy Books. Graceling is on the ballot, as are hundreds of other books. Voting closes on September 14. Note that there's a box at the bottom for write-ins.
Happy September, everyone.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Letter to My Readers

Dear Readers,

Last week, I flew to Florida to meet two new friends.

We had lots of fun! We did some eating....

We did some writing....

We hung out.

We also had dance parties.

Do you realize how many songs lyrics are secretly about babies? For example, "I want a girl with a short diaper and a LOOOOOOOOOONG blanket." Or, "If I had a boat, I'd go out on the ocean, and if I had a baby, I'd bring her on my boat."

Also, sometimes we howled.

And then, maybe later, we felt a little better.

Despite appearances...

 new friends don't sleep that much. Frankly, the rest of us are a bit boggled by their stamina.

Seriously. Everyone is boggled.

Now I'm back in Massachusetts. It's quiet here, far away from my new friends.

Quiet and lonely.


How was your week?