I keep neglecting the poor blog. It sits here gathering digital dust and I feel bad about it but there is actual dust to be dealt with in my house (most of it is Vesper fuzz) and “update blog” keeps slipping down the to-do list and now here it is September again so I’ve collected a bunch of little things and links and wonders to put here.

The Starless Sea is now available in beautiful new paperback editions in both the US and the UK. Translated editions are beginning to appear in German and Slovak and Spanish and French (I don’t have a copy of the beautiful Italian edition yet) and there are more on the way.

You can get The Starless Sea in hardcover or paperback from bookshop.org & help support indie bookstores, or even better: order directly from your local indie or a far-flung indie, many independent bookstores will ship & stores that I went to on tour back when I still wore shoes and left my house may still have signed copies.

You can still order signed and personalized books from The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Massachusetts. (Personalized ones will take awhile but they usually have signed copies in stock.)

There’s a list of some of my favorite story-heavy video games over on Penguin UK. (I have been playing a lot of Ghost of Tsushima lately. It has great story structure and also slaughtering Mongols is very therapeutic.)

Paul Semel interviewed me recently about The Starless Sea and also Vesper.

The official playlist for The Starless Sea can be found with explanations for each song choice over here via Largehearted Boy. I went through a lot of different versions through the years it took to write but this is the definitive one.

Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi comes out on September 15th and it is a treasure.

Some circusy things as we roll into autumn, which is, of course, circus season:

Le Cirque des Rêves candles are back at Frostbeard Studio

If you are looking for official Night Circus merchandise there are fantastic collections at both Storiarts and Out of Print

The Night Circus will be 10 years old when autumn rolls around in 2021.

I have no concept of time anymore. There are crows in the yard, too scattered to count, and the air is starting to get that crispness around the edges. The leaves are thinking about falling.

I’m working on something and I’ll need to lock myself away with it soon so I can listen to it whisper. It is currently bits and pieces and cherry blossoms and secret histories and closed doors and lost time. Eventually it will be a book, someday far, far in the future.

I will likely be away from the internet for most of the autumn/winter with occasional photos on Instagram or Vesper’s Instagram or both. Probably both. I will be mostly away from Twitter but if there is anything worth mentioning I will mention it there.

At some point in the foreseeable future this entire website will need a proper dusting and update so it might disappear for a bit and reappear again a short time later, like magic.

It feels like it’s been forever and a day but The Starless Sea came out less than a year ago. Thank you for supporting this book in this long, strange year. Thank you for sharing this story about stories. Thank you for sailing the Starless Sea.

May you always find that which you seek.

It is officially spring and we are still buried in snow. Confused little flowers are trying to bud in the yard and the sun feels spring-like sometimes, coercing things to melt. Slowly.

Adam took some photos of me mid-blizzard last week. We got two feet of snow. Most of it is still here. There are paw prints near the trees that might mean our fox is visiting again.

snow day march

There is an interview with me up on Haute Macabre today. I have not been doing interviews of any sort as a general rule but I made a single exception for Jess because I’ve followed her work at bloodmilk for years. I adore & collect her jewelry, I’m wearing her naja owl talon crescent moon in the photo above. It was a pleasure to be interviewed by her, even though I’m a bit out of practice with the whole interview thing.

(It’s always strange to re-read interviews awhile after I gave them. The more recent reading list includes The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel & The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.)

We spent the weekend running around caves and caverns with our dear friend Kim Liggett. It was like being underwater, so many beautiful deep dark things. One of them turned the lights off so we could not-see how darkest dark cave dark is. (It’s really dark.)

caverns

Home again and snow again and back to revising again. Getting through the deep dark unseeable parts. Finding my way toward the end.

happy bookaversary

lots-of-circuses

The Night Circus was first published five years ago today.

It’s been a wonderful, strange, emotional roller coaster since then and I am still so very grateful to everyone who embraced and supported the book and visited the circus.

Thank you.

I have been a bad blogger this year. I have been very deep in the writing cave and I really did have a blog post half-drafted that was a summertime check-in of sorts around my birthday but now it is September and beyond the point of summertime check-ins.

This is not a proper check-in. This is just a quick September bookaversary internet hello before I crawl back in my cave. I might grab a pumpkin to autumn-up the cave decor while I’m here.

I am fairly certain there will be news of varying sorts to post here in the foreseeable future. I might even be allowed back on Twitter sometime soonish. Lots of things are afoot and busy and buzzing like bees.

 

nanowrimo time again

nanowrimo2015-design by eric nyffeler

I have realized it’s been quite some time since I wrote a proper National Novel Writing Month post. I pseudo-participated the last 2 years and might do the same this year just because I’m trying to finish a draft and I do so love a wordcount graph, but this post is mostly a refresher about NaNo and me and my opinionated opinions.

First, info & links:

Some refresher points regarding The Night Circus that usually need to be cleared up around this time of year:

  • The Night Circus did indeed begin as a NaNoWriMo project.
  • To be specific: The Night Circus began as an unplanned tangent in the middle of a different NaNo project. I got bored & sent my characters to a circus. The circus was much more interesting than anything else that was happening.
  • I then spent an additional two Novembers worth of NaNo time on what eventually turned into 100k+ of long, sprawling, very rough first draft.
  • When I say rough I mean rough. I mean those rocks you use to scrub the dead skin off of your feet rough. I mean it had no plot and Celia wasn’t in it.
  • That NaNoWriMo version of The Night Circus bears little resemblance to the finished book. It was heavily revised and rewritten both before and after it was sold.

My NaNoWriMo profile informs me that I’ve been a member for more than 12 years which is making me feel both nauseated and old. I skipped a few years and I can’t tell you which ones because the site doesn’t believe in keeping my entire history anymore, but of those 12 Novembers I’ve probably participated during more of them than not.

I didn’t really write much before NaNoWriMo. I thought about writing, which is different than actually writing. (This is one of the great lessons of writing: you have to get the words out of your head and onto paper or screen.) I would write a page and hate it and stop, which is not a good way to get better at anything. I’d write little scraps of things and bury them under self-doubt and insecurity.

NaNoWriMo helped me get better. It took awhile, my first several NaNovembers worth of writing are terrible things that will never see the light of day but the later ones have some good bits here and there that could potentially be excavated. You learn a lot writing page after page after page and not having the time to go back and worry over how awful that one particular page was because there are so many more to write. It’s also probably one of the reasons I’m a binge writer and not a write-every-day writer, but that works for me.

NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. That’s okay. I still maintain that the word “draft” should be involved somewhere. It can be a very helpful first step but there are plenty of other steps. That “the world needs your novel” on the top of the official site that I’m pretty sure wasn’t always there raises my skeptical eyebrow. I’m not sure the world needs your novel but I think maybe you need to write it, if you want to. When I started NaNo-ing back in the dark ages it seemed (to me) much more of a personal challenge and not a means to a publishing-based end. Really I think it’s a writing tool. A crazy, autumnal whirlwind of a writing tool that you can use however works best for your own writing or not use at all. There is no one way to write, after all.

To those about to NaNo, I salute you. I wish you electrifying ideas and caffeinated beverages and I hope you discover things before November 30th that you didn’t expect to find on November 1st.

 

flower

My brain does not like summer in general and this one in particular. It is too hot and too bright. I’m tired at odd times of day and I forget to buy almond milk for my coffee.

I was already planning on curling up into my sweaters and my head in the fall but I think I shall start the curling early, even if the sweaters have to wait. I’ve been mostly neglecting the internet anyway but for some reason making it official and giving myself rules works better for my brain. And it seems more polite to announce than to simply vanish.

Starting August 1st I will not be on Twitter (I will tweet if there is particularly tweet-worthy news or information to be shared but I will not be reading my @ replies.)

I will blog if there is blog-worthy anything, though there usually isn’t because right now involves a lot of things that are still incubating and not sharable and not a lot of news. My day-to-day news of late is usually the not-blog-worthy type of things like “got new red lipstick” or “made blueberry pancakes” and “still in Dragon Age withdrawal.”

I will be on Instagram & Tumblr occasionally. Lipstick & pancake related news might turn up over there.

I don’t know how long this particular hiatus is going to last. I am planning on crawling into my head and not coming out again properly until I find the end of this book, which I know at this point seems like it has been a very very long time coming. I threw out everything I had in January and started over, so really it is going quite quickly and I have so much more of it figured out even if I haven’t convinced the words to cling to the pages in the right order just yet. It is much less like word soup now than it used to be but it is still a word soufflé and I need to be careful and quiet with it so it doesn’t collapse.

So I’m going to step away from the internet (mostly) and figure out how to get from soufflé to whatever the next stage of this analogy is (probably cake) and someday there will be a proper book and hopefully someday is a lot less far off than it used to be.

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.

 

blank pages

notebooksFor as long as I can remember, blank books have made me anxious.

I love them, though it’s maybe a bit strange to love something that makes you anxious, but I do. I love crisp paper and fancy bindings and the clever little elastics to keep them closed. I particularly love the ones that have pockets in the back though I rarely put anything in the pockets.

I used to get blank books and journals and fill a few pages and stop, having ruined them with lousy handwriting and messy thoughts. And then I’d feel bad about letting them languish and didn’t like having long gaps of time between pages so the rest of the pages would stay blank.

I can’t even count how many once-blank books I’ve owned. I can count the ones I’ve filled cover-to-cover on one hand.

You would think, after all the time and all the words and all the writing, they wouldn’t make me nervous anymore. But they do.

I don’t have the same anxiety about blank pages when I type. Maybe it’s the mutability of a file, the possibilities of a blinking cursor are a more flexible sort, easily taken away again with a few additional keystrokes. I spelt additional wrong on the first try, easily fixed here.

And I type faster than I write longhand.

But I like writing longhand, even though it makes me feel slow and awkward and uncertain. I loved this piece that the lovely Daniel Kraus did on Booklist about writing longhand.

I suspect I just need to do it more, but there’s that horrid feeling of ruining something pristine mixed with too much possibility.

I have a couple of notebooks going for the novel-in-progress and pages upon pages on my computer, but I just pulled out a new blank book to work in and it’s making me nervous. Compounding the nerves that are already there from being back to the writing phase that’s just me and the world in my head and the pages to fill.

I’ll figure it out. I’ll spell things wrong and spill ink and hopefully this will be one of those books that gets filled cover-to-cover, and I’ll be able to make something of what’s inside.

 

nanowrimo 2013 in review

November went and flew by like a flying autumnal whoosh of a thing and I am sitting here looking at December somewhat skeptically. But I did have a just-barely successful NaNoWriMo, and I am impressed with myself considering how long it’s been since I’ve participated and how many days I had to skip entirely.

I stayed more on-pace than any other NaNo I’ve done before, mostly because I just didn’t have time to get my standard head start. I had lofty goals of maybe doing more than 50k but I ended up right on target. This is a screencap of my day-to-day handy chart from the NaNo site:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 2.07.16 PM

 

I had planned at the outset to be all NaNo Rebel and work on two different projects but I didn’t really do it the way I intended. I spent the first half of the month working on a new thing and then thought about going back to the other novel-in-progress but decided to work on the new thing more instead.

I write out of order, which is good for me but not necessarily the tidiest way to approach a draft of something. So in the middle of all the bits and pieces I started some other pieces and I somehow ended up with about 15k worth of stuff that does not belong in this particular new thing. I think I accidentally wrote background mythology for an entirely different thing, but I don’t know what that different thing is yet. I like those bits, though, so I will keep them safe and fed and watered until I figure out what they want to be.

The rest of it is… not a novel. It’s not even a draft of a novel, it’s 35k of stuff that I might be able to polish into the beginning of something that could maybe someday be developed into a novel of some sort. It all needs a great deal of work. I haven’t re-read any of it yet but I’d guess that maybe half of it is useable. There are individual scenes and moments that I like a lot. I’m going to put it away and go back to the other novel and then when I have more time I’ll pull it back out and see what works and what doesn’t and figure out what I can play with further. 2013-Winner-Vertical-Banner

It was fun, overall, though I am out of practice and it was harder to get out of that self-critical headspace than it used to be, but at the same time I think I trust my instincts more. My favorite part was still there, too: the finding of things I wasn’t expecting, in that whirlwind of imagination exploration.

So, hurrah for NaNoWriMo, hurrah for those of you who participated and won, hurrah for those who participated at all no matter the result because you have more words than you might have otherwise, and hurrah for all the non-November words to come.

 

I probably don’t have to tell you all that November is National Novel Writing Month.

And you probably already know that The Night Circus started life as a tangent in a NaNoWriMo novel and was then further developed through subsequent NaNo-ing. (It very likely played a part in the circus itself being autumnal, since I was always writing in November. Also, autumn is my favorite.)

But unless you follow me on Twitter you may not know that this year I’m participating again, for the first time since 2009.

2013-Participant-Vertical-Banner

I am cheating. Oh wait, no, I am a “NaNo Rebel” which is a nicer word for cheater. One is supposed to start fresh and write a new novel and I’m not doing that. I’m working on not one but two projects, my already started novel-in-progress and a secret new something. My goal is to get 50k of shiny new words written between the two of them before the end of the month.

This is the most I’ve been writing in bulk in awhile, for a number of reasons, and it’s weird to get back into it. I am already failing at one of my old standard NaNo practices of getting a head start. I would always try to bulk up my word count on day one or two so I’d have that extra buffer of comfy words but I’ve been staying more or less right on pace through this first week, I only managed to pull a teeny bit ahead of daily average today.

I’m mostly working on the new thing, to get my brain into non-editor, no self-criticizing, just-keep-writing NaNo mode and so far it seems to be working. I’ve come up with several bits that are not completely terrible in amongst the stuff that is completely terrible but led to the not so bad stuff. (And one particular thing which is so delightful that I am far too pleased with myself and pretty much assures that I will try to turn this into something salvageable someday if only for that one fantastic thing that should really live out in the world and not just in the demented part of my brain that it sprang from.)

Here’s the part of the post where I show off my little wordcount widget:

And here is where I link to NaNo-related things.

This is the official NaNoWriMo site.

This is my official NaNoWriMo Pep Talk. It includes my best advice and tips and a tangent about a taxidermied marmot.

This is a post I did with other links and informative NaNo-related things last year.

This is a quote from that post, regarding people inevitably saying and posting disparaging things about NaNoWriMo that I think deserves to be restated:

I cannot fathom disparaging anything that encourages storytelling.

Get into the nuances of the issues or problems with it all you want, and I will be first to say don’t dare start contacting literary agents on December 1st, but disparaging the entire endeavor makes me growly. Grr.

And this is an Instagram photo of me and NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty.

 

flax-golden tales have been pre-written and prescheduled for the month (the one from the first of the month is, of course, for all the NaNo-ers), in-between blog posts will likely be photo heavy or NaNo progress updates.

This is, by the way, the tenth anniversary of my very first NaNoWriMo. I failed that year. Didn’t fail the next year. I feel pretty good about this one so far, but it’s only the 7th. We shall see.