Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spike versus Beethoven: a Poll

This is a long post. Don't feel pressure to read everything. But at the very least, I encourage you to listen, watch, and vote!

My FAQ post the other day lent itself to some Buffy discussion in the comments -- Spike quote-sharing, favorite and least favorite characters, etc. -- if you've seen Buffy, feel free to contribute. And I've started Season 5 and couldn't be happier. I'm thinking way too much about it, really, and want to talk about this show more here someday. And maybe particularly about Spike, because while I continue to love his humor, his insight, his large yet despicable heart, his twisted approach to relationships, and his reliably terrible decisions... I KNOW there must be some Spike dissenters out there who'd like to express themselves. HOWEVER. Now isn't the time to get into it, because I'm only on Season 5, so I don't have all the data yet. So. Maybe we could talk about Buffy more sometime in the future? :)

(NOTE: please feel free to comment now as much as you like! I know the plot of Buffy in general and Spike in particular all the way through Season 7, and I don't mind Buffy spoilers. [It's the only thing I don't mind spoilers for, actually!] All I mean to say here is that I don't feel qualified to contribute to the discussion myself yet. Knowing what happens is different from watching how it plays out. For example, I know the facts of what happens with Buffy and Spike in Season 6, and let me tell you, I'm prepared for the possibility that it's going to be fabulous OR the most horrible, creepy thing ever. -- Feel free to tell me what you thought.)

Now, stand back, because I'm about to geek out about Beethoven. (Again.)

Behind this link is one of the most beautiful movements of a piano sonata ever written, IMO: the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23, Opus 57 (the "Appassionata"). (If you want to hear the whole sonata, just click on the first movement and it will carry you all the way through.) What I love about the second movement is its simplicity. It presents a single melody, plays it through once, and then repeats it, faithfully, four more times, but in four beautiful variations. Listen for yourself. The melody is played through the first time in the first 1:40. You'll notice that it itself contains repetition: a simple melody; repeat; a second simple melody; repeat. Then, at 1:41, we start the whole thing over, with minor variations, and play it all the way through. The version that makes me want to die of happiness is the third go-through, which starts at 3:05. The fourth go-through starts at 4:18, and the final, which very much recalls the original, starts at 5:28.

Much of music is about repetition and variations on a theme... but, well, I guess I love how simply it's all played out in this lovely little movement. Plus, for me, with Beethoven, it isn't just the way he repeats and plays with his melodies and themes. I love the way he repeats notes within his melodies and themes. Have you ever hummed or whistled a melody and suddenly realized you've been humming/whistling the same note over and over again? This happens a lot with Beethoven; it's a thing you might notice now and then in the Appassionata. He is so good at repeating the same note over and over again and making it beautiful!

Oh my goodness. I just went off to find a youtube of the second movement of his Seventh Symphony, intending to try to explain what I mean in words -- so guess how excited I am that I found THIS?

Press play and watch along; it shows just what I mean about Beethoven repeating the same note over and over, while using other instruments to weave all around the repeating notes. It's characteristic of much of the movement, but the most glaring example is probably from 6:00 to 6:22 -- note the places where a single color remains stuck in a horizontal pattern, a straight or dotted line. Gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh! The Fifth Symphony has some other good examples. Especially go to 3:28 or 3:55 or 6:51 here.

Okay. Some of you have been very patient today, humoring me and the Beethoven squee. Others have decided to drop me from your blog readers. Regardless, it's now time for a highly scientific poll. In the interest of fairness, since I've stuck so much Beethoven in your faces, I need to stick some Spike in your faces before asking you to vote, especially for those of you who've never met him. Context: Buffy has just found Spike lurking behind a tree outside her house, and has punched him in the face.

And if you care to see the next part of the conversation:

And now, please vote! (If you can't see the poll, click here!)

Have a nice weekend, everyone :o). Coming next week: short posts!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thing 1 and Thing 2; or, Photos from the Tour

At Sirens, in Vail, Colorado, I learned how to wear chain mail and intimidate people. AARRRR! I WILL CRUSH YOU!!!

Thanks to Artemis for the photo :o)

Moving on, at stop three in the tour -- Seattle -- my dear friend, secret codename: T. Lovely R., took me to meet the Troll Who Lives Under the Bridge.

A tip to anyone going on tour: It will boost your morale if around stop nine you can arrange to wake up to the following:

And then it helps to bring thousands of family members to your bookstore events. Here are secret codename: Cordelia, secret codename: Apocalyptica, me, our mother, our father, and Cordelia's daughters, secret codenames: Phoenix and Isis! Joe, sorry you couldn't be there, but hope you enjoyed the brief man-cation. This photo was taken at The Bookmark in Atlantic Beach, Florida -- thanks, Rona!

Here's one more photo. Just in case I haven't gotten my point across.

I'm trying to exercise restraint on the blog when it comes to photos of the twins. Really. Have you looked at this post recently?


So. Just a few images from my trip. It's lovely to be home.

What are you reading these days? I've embarked on a spate of rereading, starting with A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I might move on to The Princess Bride next, and Beauty by Robin McKinley. I've got my eye on Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (the Tiina Nunnally translation), but at 1400 pages, that's going to take some commitment. Anyone out there doing any good rereading?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fill in the Blank, and a Promise

I don't _______________ enough anymore.

Fill in the blank. And here's a suggestion: whatever the thing is -- if it's possible -- make a plan to do it sometime soon.

My answer: I don't bake bread enough anymore, which makes me sad, because I love to bake bread from scratch, do all that kneading, and have the house smelling yummy all day. But I promise to try to make time for it sometime in the next few weeks.


(A friendly reminder that I don't see comments on LiveJournal, Amazon, etc.... I only see comments made on my Blog Actual.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some FAQs for a Chilly Monday

Hi everyone! As I write this, it's Sunday night, it's snowing (yAt!), I'm curled up drinking hot cider, and I'm writing a dramatic scene in which two people are screaming at each other. (double yAt!)

Some answers to some questions.

1. I missed your signings. How can I get signed copies of your books?
Good timing -- I've just set up an arrangement with my local indie. To purchase signed/personalized books, please place an online order at Harvard Book Store. Before you finish your order, a Comments box will appear. Please specify in the Comments box that you'd like the book signed, and to whom you'd like it personalized, if anyone. Kindly use the online ordering system rather than trying to order over the phone -- this will eliminate confusion at the store! All orders are pre-paid and non-returnable. These instructions are also available on my Contacts, Info, and Credits page.

(Note: Please DO NOT try to mail me books or bookplates to sign! I regret that I am unable to accommodate such requests, and I would hate for your books to get lost in the process!)

2. Will there be a Fire ebook?
The UK ebook is available at Waterstones. I suspect there'll be an American ebook too, and will update my Contacts, Info, and Credits page if I hear anything.

ETA 10/21/09: My publisher assures me that the Fire ebook is in production and will be distributed to ebook retailers shortly.

ETA 11/15/09: The ebook is now available; check Amazon,, or anywhere ebooks are sold.

3. What is your favorite Fire-themed widget?
Okay, no one has actually asked me this. But I just wanted to show you this cute movie widget Penguin has created. In anticipation of the question, no, I do not have a movie deal for Fire -- this is just for fun. So, have fun with it! (And vote for Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal! ^_^) Here it is:

4. How old are you?


5. Are you afraid of heights?
Actually, I LOVE heights. If the sun comes out sometime this week, I'm climbing a nearby tower to check out the fall foliage from way up high. But it's funny you ask, because you know who is afraid of heights? Bitterblue.

6. What's the best book you've recently read?
Zel, by Donna Jo Napoli.

7. Who's your favorite character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
Well, I'm just now wrapping up Season 4, and I love Willow in Season 4. However. Is it possible to love ANYONE more than I love Spike?

Have any answers of your own? Feel free to leave them in the comments!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In Which the Writer Returns Home

Yesterday morning I set out for the Mall in Washington DC, planning to walk the whole thing, end up at the Library of Congress or the Folger Shakespeare Library, and sit there soaking up the booky goodness. But then, just past the White House, I got distracted by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which was intriguing not only because workpeople were laying a new coppery roof but because they had an exhibit running called "Sargent and the Sea." I happen to love John Singer Sargent. So I went inside and ended up spending the day looking at paintings and writing in the cafe.

Here's the thing about John Singer Sargent: He did extensive sketches, even full oil paintings at times, in preparation for his larger works. So, you'll see a whole wall full of small paintings of individuals, and then you look at the next wall, and there's a large painting containing all the individuals together in a scene. When I first realized this, I thought to myself, gah, how boring and tedious for him -- he must have been the most patient man alive. But then I remembered that in my own writing, I'll write and rewrite the same scene over and over and over again, trying to get it to the right place, and no, it's not always fun, and yes, sometimes it's aggravating, but it's rarely boring. It's something I want to do, and need to do, and boring doesn't enter into it. Most of the time I'm writing something that is a path to the final product, rather than the final product itself.

Seeing his process was inspiring. May the gods grant me the patience, the uninterrupted time, and the focus I need to get to the place I'm trying to get to with Bitterblue. If you're working on something hard, may the gods grant you all those things, too.

Guess whose bed I'm sleeping in tonight? Before you get any funny ideas, it's my own ^_^. I'm home! And I know I announced recently that all news was going behind my News link, but I hope you'll excuse me for saying that Fire has hit the New York Times bestseller list for the week ending October 10. Graceling has also popped back on the lists. I wish I could thank everyone individually who helped make this happen. THANK YOU. You make me happy and proud!

(Finally, if you're interested in interviews, check out the five questions Roger Sutton asked me in this month's Notes from the Horn Book.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Not Dead Yet

So, am I insane if after traveling from Vail to Denver to Seattle to Palo Alto to San Jose to Austin to Houston to Miami to Jacksonville all in one week and doing lots of events and not getting enough sleep, I'm ecstatic that today I'll be spending the day in a very small house with my sisters (secret codenames: Cordelia and Apocalyptica), my brother-in-law (scn: Joe), my newborn twin nieces (scn: Phoenix and Isis), my mother, my father, two cats, and one flying squirrel?

In other words, it is Monday; I am in Jacksonville; my parents are here from New Jersey; Apocalyptica is bringing her flying squirrel all the way from Massachusetts; and I remember my pride. And tonight everyone will (tentatively) be at my event! BEST DAY OF THE TOUR.


In other news: I love the way Jay Smooth thinks, and I love the way he talks. This time, his subject is Roman Polanski.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Singing My Way Across the Country

Here are some song lyrics a friend emailed me on the day my tour began:

I never wanted to be a star, I never wanted to travel far
I only wanted a little bit of love
So I could put a little love in my heart
I never wanted to be la-de-da, go to parties avec le bourgeois
I only wanted to sing my song well,
So I could ring a small bell in your heart.

- from "I Never Wanted" by Cat Stevens

I've been carrying that around in the copy of Fire I read from. I like being reminded of the little love and the small bells. :o)

All's going well! And I'm even getting to do some sightseeing. Monday I was in Denver; Tuesday, Seattle; Wednesday, Palo Alto; and today I fly to Austin. I have no idea what's going on in the news (Cordelia had to explain the David Letterman thing to me via text message) and my email is out of hand... but things are going well.

If you're going to be in the Houston, Miami, Jacksonville, or DC areas in the next few days, please check my Appearance Schedule, because I'm doing bookstore events in those places. (Jacksonville! That means I get to see the twins!)

Happy Thursday, all.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Birthday to Fire

Fire, welcome to the big wide world!

Sirens was a wonderful time with wonderful people. I took a self-defense class that perhaps got overly enthusiastic (it's fun to defend yourself from someone trying to choke you), tried on mail (I may have pictures to share of this at some point), and hung out with great folk. *waves to the folk*

I understand that Sirens will happen again next fall, and I highly recommend it -- and any conferences produced by Narrate Conferences! Those ladies are AWESOME.

The tour for Fire's release starts today. My stomach is in knots, but hopefully I'll ease into it. Because my brain is jangly nervous jelly, I'm going to post something funny rather than trying to say anything intelligent. (Thanks, Jess, for the link ^_^)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Roman Polanski and WTF

If my subject heading doesn't make it clear, this post and its link are potentially triggery.

So, I'm in Vail, and the Sirens conference is about to start, and I know I'm supposed to be writing a post about how beautiful it is here, but there's only one thing I find myself able to blog about today, because of how deeply it pisses me off. It pisses me off so deeply that... *speechlessness* ...I can barely type.

Since the news broke on Sunday of Roman Polanski's arrest for a rape he committed 32 years ago, I have grown more and more stupefied by the public's response. Yes, I agree it was a while ago. Yes, I agree it's strange that they apprehended him now, after all this time. But it's not strange because they shouldn't have apprehended him. It's strange because they should have apprehended him a long time ago.

The man made some fantastic movies and clearly he's loved by many people. Newsflash: lots of people who do criminal, awful things also happen to be talented, charming, likable, lovable. In what galaxy does anything about Roman Polanski's personal qualities remove his liability for raping someone? In what galaxy does the passage of time change what happened? The reason so much time has passed is because 32 years ago, after he pleaded guilty to rape, HE RAN AWAY, and no one followed. And to those who insist that he's served his time because he's suffered... the mind boggles. First, find me someone who hasn't suffered, and after that, I invite you to notice that he hasn't served any time. That's the whole point.

Thank you to Kate Harding for this reminder that Roman Polanski raped a girl. She was 13 years old, below the age of consent, and by the way, SHE DIDN'T CONSENT. She repeatedly asked him to stop. He didn't stop. And nothing changes that.

ETA 10/2 11:32am: I have been informed that Roman Polanski did serve some small time before he fled. I apologize for the misinformation. My point still holds. He did not serve hard time, and at the heart of my anger is how lightly everyone seems to be treating rape.