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night circus in south bend

south bend pin

We spent the first weekend in May in South Bend, Indiana for their One Book, One Michiana celebration of The Night Circus. The weather was perfection, the city is absolutely lovely, and I was incredibly impressed by how much enthusiasm and effort was put into every detail. They have the loveliest librarians and the most extraordinary library, I wanted to live in it.

From the pins and the programs (some of which had moving parts!) everything was so detailed and thoughtful.

south bend program

I have been in my writing cave for so long I was a bit concerned that I might not remember how to speak in front of people but everyone was so delightful and welcoming. All of the events were wonderful, there was delicious food and chocolate and it was a flattering if slightly surreal reminder that there are still people reading and enjoying and celebrating, even when I’m getting used to being at home staring at blank pages and trying to make them not so blank.

I wish I could explain properly how much fun it was. I didn’t take enough photos but there are lots over here. There were cocktails and fancy dresses and I had an excellent tarot reading (someone please tell Barbara the Gray Witch I did get a new pillow, she was right about my neck). The children’s section of the library had a tunnel made of vintage luggage, I was serious about wanting to live there.

My gratitude and appreciation to everyone in South Bend who put so much time & energy into creating a truly wonderful experience.

south bend library sign

Home now, back in springtime NYC and blank pages waiting to be filled. No more appearances for awhile, so this was a very good high note to end on.

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springtime

blooming

My apologies for the lack of blog updates. I haven’t had much to update about, I have been hibernating and writing and re-writing. Apparently writing a book entirely wrong the first time is just a thing I do. I think it is back on track now.

Months ago I said aloud (Twitter counts as aloud) that I wanted to have a draft finished by spring and here we are in spring and well… not so much.

But I have made a lot of progress. More than I have in a long time. Maybe I should aim for progress and not use the f-word. Art is never finished and all that. Still working. Still writing and probably re-writing. Not quite book-shaped but it’s getting there. It’s still surprising me, which is fun.

New York is turning blossomy and proper springtime-feeling when it’s not raining. I hope it stays this way for a while and doesn’t rush headlong into summer.

On May 1st & 2nd I will be in South Bend, Indiana for One Book, One Michiana with the St. Joseph County Public Library. There will be a reading/q&a/signing, a tiny story workshop & a circusy soirée (oh, how I love the word soirée). Detailed schedule can be found over here.

Given what’s been going on in Indiana I thought about cancelling but considering how much planning and preparation people have put into this event that didn’t seem right. I will be making donations to freedomindiana.org and the Human Rights Campaign with my speaking fee.

This is, at the moment, my only scheduled appearance for 2015. I should really figure out what I’m going to wear since I’ve been living in my yoga pants lately.

I’m going to attempt to blog more frequently over the spring/summer. I am still Instagraming & Tumlbring & I may be on Twitter periodically but mostly I will be writing (and re-writing) so the majority of my words need to be focused there. If there is news I can share, as always, I will share it but most of the time it seems things are either not shareable or not news. Maybe I’ll post ice cream recipes and things like that.

tulips

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winter wonders

madison square snowpeople

I’ve been hibernating. January went and vanished on me, but I think it almost always does, in the coldness and the snow. The February snow currently falling outside the windows looks like an aggressively shaken snow globe. New York in the snow is cold and magical.

I’ve been writing and then re-writing and then going back to blank slate and writing all over again. Someday I will make it out of word soup phase. Someday. But for now I am snuggling up in my imagination and trying to sort story-stuff into proper sentences.

I’ve been cooking a lot. We’re close to perfecting our whole chicken in the crock pot technique. While we were playing Dragon Age Inquisition instead of watching the Superbowl I made honey bourbon amaretto sours. Tonight I am making potato leek soup.

get in troubleTomorrow is February 3rd and that means Kelly Link‘s new short story collection Get in Trouble comes out. I had the pleasure of reading it last year and it is absolutely fantastic, in the most fantastical of ways. The lovely thing about Kelly Link stories is that while they are each so inventive and unique they are also distinctly hers. Had this collection arrived without an author name I still would have known they were Kelly Link stories. No one else writes such weird wonderfulness quite the same way. If you have never read her stories I highly recommend them, and you can read one of the stories from this collection right over here.

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2014 thoughts & favorites

I am trying not to say things like “this year flew by” or “where did 2014 go?” but I am thinking them, very hard.

I was sick a lot this year. I had my wisdom teeth removed. In a lot of ways this year was about taking better care of myself and I’m not sure how well I did so hopefully that will be a continuing theme for 2015.

I had a comparatively quiet year but it was filled with a lot of things. I have a new niece. I learned to play croquet. I met Tori Amos. I turned 36. I saw Macbeth & King Lear. I redesigned my website. I celebrated Margaret Atwood’s birthday with some of my favorite writer people. I got to be Quentin Coldwater. My go-to Manhattan bar closed. I went to Vermont and Toronto and I’m typing this in Florida. I wrote a lot but not as much as I would have liked. It’s not book-shaped. That’s okay.

Most importantly in 2014, I got married.

I’m looking forward to 2015. I’m not big on resolutions but I really like Chuck Wendig’s 2015 Resolution for Writers.

2014 Favorites

Books.

bookends

I had a low volume reading year. There are so many books I accumulated this year but didn’t get to. I read less when I’m writing & I didn’t read much when I was sick and when I sorted through what I did read the list of books I really loved was particularly short. Though I think that’s partially because they are books I really, really loved. (The short list pictured with new favorite bookends, holiday gift from my darling editor.)

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Stoner by John Williams

(Honorary not pictured mentions to The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld because it came out this year (I read it last year) and Get in Trouble by Kelly Link which I read this year but is not out until next year.)

Music.

Favorite new (or new-to-me) albums this year:

Lana Del Rey‘s Ultraviolence, Taylor Swift‘s 1989, Agnes Obel‘s Aventine, London Grammar‘s If You Wait, & Birdy‘s Fire Within.

Thought a lot about song of the year. Was tempted to go with Taylor’s “Shake It Off” for fun but went personal instead. (Someday, when I finish this book, this choice will make more sense.)

Movies/TV.

I didn’t see enough movies to warrant a movie section. I’m including it to make myself feel guilty and hopefully I’ll see more movies next year.

The only tv show we keep up with anymore week-to-week is Game of Thrones, which I am conflicted about but will probably watch week-to-week next season anyway. We also started watching all of Fringe which I never saw when it was on but is far more enjoyable than I’d expected, we have about a season and a half left. Also looking forward to more Orphan Black.

Games.

Of the video variety: I feel silly saying my favorite game of the year is Dragon Age: Inquisition because we literally only started playing it less than a month ago but I’m a little bit obsessed.

Of the tabletop variety: We started getting into tabletop games this year and by far my favorite is Pandemic.

Other media.

I am late on the Serial bandwagon but we binge-listened to the whole thing the other day and it is absolutely fascinating both on an investigation level and as a narrative.

 

(A minor resolution for next year: keep better track of books & such for end-of-year favorite list.)

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happy birthday margaret atwood, the slightly belated event

Last night this happened.

atwood birthday

Me, Chuck Wendig, Lev Grossman & a surprise Neil Gaiman celebrated Margaret Atwood‘s 75 birthday at the 92nd St Y and it was magical and amazing and I think I managed not to appear quite as nervous as I felt.

For the occasion I composed 75 Imaginary Birthday Cakes. I only read about 50 of them, but all 75 were hand written on cards and placed in a little box and given to Margaret Atwood.

Here’s a sneak peek:

atwood cakes title

atwood cakes

atwood cakes box

 

(The box smells like cake, scented with BPAL’s Eat Me: three white cakes, vanilla, and red and black currants.)

Someday I’ll share the whole list but for the moment I’ll let them remain mysterious.

Still can’t really believe I got to be a part of this marvelous event with such fantastic people. Grateful & inspired & delighted.

 

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nanowrimo 2014

I’ve been doing pseudo-NaNoWriMo this month, adding 50,000 words to the project I’ve been working on. (Calling it a project and not a novel sounds much more appropriate, it is, unsurprisingly, still not novel-shaped. I will probably not consent to calling it novel-shaped until I have to actually let it go out into the world and be a grown-up book.)

I hit the 50k mark yesterday, mostly because I wrote 7k yesterday. I’m not sure how I managed that and also today my brain is tired.

Here is my NaNoWriMo 2014 word count graph:

nano 2014 word count graph(I believe the orange days are when I hit 5k, 10k, 25k & 50k. I had a busy first weekend.)

I make a point to not re-read anything I write during NaNo so I’m really not certain how much work it needs but some of it was redrafting older bits, so it might not be completely terrible. I’m guessing it’s 35-40% terrible. I am going to go back over all of it soon to rectify some of the terribleness. (I over-use the word “slightly” like it’s my job.) But there’s stuff that works in there, and stuff that I probably wouldn’t have come up with if I hadn’t been digging deeper in odd corners of backstory to make that little graph go up. I am, as always, a sucker for progress in graph form.

I’m delighted that I managed to get to 50k now with so much of November left. I have several other things on the to-do list that I’ve been putting off that I now have time for.

Winner-2014

To those of you still NaNo-ing I wave little flags of encouragement for you. You can do it! There’s still a lot of days left!

At the moment, though, I might need to take a nap.

 

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happy birthday margaret atwood!

Today is Margaret Atwood‘s 75th birthday but on Wednesday, December 3rd I will be at the 92nd Street Y with a number of other lovely people to help celebrate this illustrious occasion.

I have been locked away in my writing cave and declining event invitations but I said yes to this one because Margaret Atwood. I am delighted to be a part of it. And also my friends Lev Grossman & Chuck Wendig will be there, so it is bound to be a fantastic evening.

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happy hallowe’en

clue

 

Happy Hallowe’en, Blessed Samhain & a Merry NaNoWriMo Eve!

I am taking a somewhat Twitter-specific internet hiatus for the rest of the year, though I won’t be around much elsewhere, either. I will blog if there are blog-worthy things and I will do an end of the year post in December.

I am sort of doing NaNoWriMo myself. I’m going to attempt to add 50k to the draft I have. It’s probably going to involve word count math to get my progress bar to work properly. There are links to NaNo-related things in my post from last year. To those about to NaNo, I salute you.

I cut off most of my hair yesterday, shorter than it’s been in awhile. My head feels lighter. Maybe it will make it easier to fit more ideas in there.

halloween haircut

I realize that this is likely not that dramatic because most of the pictures of me on the internet involve equally short hair but it really is much shorter than it was yesterday. (Owl talon moon by bloodmilk, of course.)

So tonight I am going to have bourbon and mini Butterfingers and watch Hitchcock films and tomorrow I am going to retreat into my lighter-feeling head for a good long while so I can sort out what’s in there and figure out how to translate it into words.

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october things

pumpkins

The end of September went by very quickly because my new niece decided she wanted to be a September baby and not an October baby as scheduled so she was early, but she is also adorable. I have already started buying her all sorts of books.

One of my very favorite authors from when I was young passed away yesterday, Zilpha Keatley Snyder wrote a great many books but my favorites were The Headless Cupid and The Egypt Game. I loved The Egypt Game so much I used to build temples in my backyard. I should do that again if I ever have a backyard.

I will be at New York Comic Con this weekend but I am not doing anything official. I will be flouncing around in a corset and wandering aimlessly and looking for the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab booth and possibly buying comics. If you see me, feel free to say hello.

This upcoming Monday is October 13th, which is of course the anniversary of opening day of the circus. To celebrate I thought I might do something I rarely do over on Tumblr & retumble some of the gorgeous circus-inspired stuff that’s floating around over there. (True confession: I never look up circus things because it makes me weirdly shy and also just looking turns up good things and bad things and for every thing I’m glad to see there’s usually something that makes me sad so I just don’t do it. But I peeked the other day and there’s really too much gorgeous not to share.) So all day on Monday I will be retumbling circusy things on my tumblr page. I’ll try to remember to tag things, I’m bad at tagging.

I haven’t been apple picking yet this year. I shall have to rectify that soon. Mostly I am writing a lot and wondering why this year insists on going by so quickly.

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station eleven

STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel comes out today in the US & Canada, and I believe tomorrow in the UK, which makes this both STATION ELEVEN Day and STATION ELEVEN Eve depending on location.

I loved this book.

LOVED.

I have post-apocalypse fatigue and I still loved this book, because it’s so much more than that. I don’t want to tell you too much about it, because simply describing it would never do it justice.

This is going to be one of the stories I carry in my imagination for the rest of my life. It will come to mind again and again and again in theatres, in airports, in Toronto in the snow.

Please read it.

Once in a very long while a book becomes a brand new old friend, a story you never knew you always wanted. STATION ELEVEN is that rare find that feels familiar and extraordinary at the same time, expertly weaving together future and present and past, death and life and Shakespeare. This is truly something special.

– Erin Morgenstern

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