Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking back on a WHIRLWIND 2011

At the end of the year I like to sit and reflect on the previous year (don't we all) but instead I'm too busy packing to think about it. If anything falls through with this house at the end I'm going to be like @#&%!!!! We've probably already packed a quarter of the house. I kind of have to because of my editorial letter on the way! No time for dilly dallying!

This year everything worked out exactly as I hoped and planned in my wildest dreams. I started writing Dark Metropolis in January, finished it in May, my agent sold it in June, I got paid in October and in November I made an offer on a house in Maryland.

I'm not really sure what to say except, thank you universe, I prostrate myself at your feet, if you have feet. This year has been amazing.

Last year was the year of travel and friends, lots of conferences and school visits and the like. This year was considerably more low-key, as I expected, but I still managed to fit some fun in. Well, sort of. There was:
--Branson retreat in Feb. Loads of cool people, but then I got the flu and we were almost trapped in the snow eating each other. We shall never speak of this again.
--Key Largo retreat in Feb. Unfortunately still in Florida, but otherwise lovely. Awesome people, food, manatees. Although I learned that staying in a house and quietly writing is NOT for me. The exhausting insanity of BEA is really my ideal vacation...
--Library visit in Dallas. Delicious laid-back meal with the librarian who invited me!!
--Summer visit with my friend Amanda (who also organized Key Largo), including inspiring trip to Flagler Museum.
--December trip to Asheville where I saw my parents in their new house, and hung out with super-rad Stephanie Perkins and Beth Revis.

I still felt a bit lonely and stir crazy this year. I've been too busy to hang out much or keep up with friendships, so I'm looking forward to the social festivities of the mid-Atlantic in 2012, although I might remain too house poor to do much for some time. Thank goodness Dade and I enjoy each other's company a lot.

It was a very productive writing year. Besides writing Dark Metropolis I wrote half of three other novels. And some other tinkering, as per usual.

My dream goal for 2012: Finish Dark Metropolis sequel as well as a middle grade and sell the middle grade!

Also, enjoy my new house and spend a lot more time in the sunshine and fresh air!

I'm excited for it, either way. This year saw the loss of Lisa Madigan and the first of my grandparents to pass on, and as I haven't experienced too much death in my life so far, it all hit hard, but also spurred me on to live boldly and not just stick with what is safe and dull.

Monday, December 26, 2011

An Odd Christmas

I hope you all had a lovely holiday. Thank you to all my friends who sent gifts and cards!

I have to say it was a pretty underwhelming Christmas on my end. The weather was so warm and muggy it was hard to feel festive, it was my first Christmas without my parents after their move to North Carolina, and being house-poor and moving I didn't want any presents, nor did I give any. I still got a few of course. And I really didn't want many presents. But it still feels a little odd. I also didn't buy a tree, nor did I bother to get out any decorations while I'm trying to PACK. But who wants to decorate when we've barely had a day all year that wasn't warm to hot? Apparently no one because the whole neighborhood is curiously lacking in lights and wreaths compared to prior years.

Oh, well. There were still some bright spots. The Science Channel ran an Oddities marathon. It's one of my favorite recent discoveries in TV, centering around the buying and selling of everything from taxidermy and pickled two-headed animals in jars to baby coffins and Victorian mourning jewelry in a small shop in NYC. I am not much of a fan of dead animals PERSONALLY, but the customers are so eccentric, artistic, and fascinating and the shop owners often go into their apartments and homes, crammed full with amazing collections. Also, the woman who works at the shop, Evan, seems like someone I would know and go junking with, and I'm totally crushing on the dapperly dressed employee Ryan Matthew Cohn.

Dade and I have been debating which of my characters he most reminds us of.

Besides watching DVRed episodes of Oddities throughout the holiday, I got "Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings" by Mary Henley Rubio, which has been utterly gripping. I've read all of L. M. Montgomery's journals except the final volume but Mary Rubio conducted many interviews and did a lot of research to show some different sides of her life as well as providing a terribly engaging summary of the events in her journals. I find LMM to be an endlessly fascinating personality. Proving that professional success doesn't necessarily bring much happiness, she had to deal with a lengthy lawsuit with her original publisher, a trouble marriage, bouts of depression, and many personal losses. Poor Maud. I read her when I need comfort. But I can hardly tear away from this book!

Finally, I heard from my editor for Dark Metropolis that my editorial letter is on the way soon. Despite some apprehension about juggling a 900 mile move and an editorial letter at once, I couldn't be more excited! I'm ready to dive back into this book!

(However, I don't think you'll be seeing much more of me for a WHILE.)

Also, it APPEARS that Junior Library Guild selected Magic Under Stone. Magic Under Glass was a JLG selection and I am terribly honored. I've also seen some Spanish bloggers report that Magic Under Stone was picked up by Magic Under Glass's Spanish publisher but I haven't had it confirmed yet. Foreign bloggers, we authors oftentimes depend on you to report the news, so keep on keepin' on.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I keep thinking I should blog more. But blogging makes you realize how boring your brain is. Or how...unshareable.

For instance, today I am busy thinking about the middle grade I'm writing. I love it! It's about witches and their familiars...well, okay, one unusual witch and one unusual familiar in an alternate witchy version of St. Augustine, Florida. Everything about it is tremendous fun. The idea started out as "Kiki's Delivery Service in a Gilded Age hotel" and then it turned into something else, but I've been writing it like a happy little writer bee. It took me a while to figure out how to write a middle grade I would enjoy. I love middle grade voice (and am often accused of having it even when I think I'm writing YA...) but I have always had trouble writing a book without romance.

Well, this time, no trouble at all.

But what else can I say about it besides that? I don't even know if anyone will want to buy it. I'll feel like I'm jinxing it if I talk too much.

My other thoughts: ZOMG NEW HOUSE NEW HOUSE.

BTW, I don't want to show you a picture of my house, because I have known writers who have been stalked, and that's creepy, but I did draw a ghetto picture of it for you with the computer mouse. I couldn't get the front part of the brick to color in right. But attempting to draw architecture with a mouse is fun, the same way Etch-A-Sketch is fun, like, "OMG, this is so frustrating that when I do get it look like SOMETHING I feel disproportionately accomplished!"

P. S. I do still have Magic Under Stone ARCs for giveaway. See my last post for details!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Magic Under Stone ARCs and moving!

First, I'd like to note that I signed copies of Between the Sea and Sky at the Casselberry Books-A-Million. They may still have some, if you're in the area and looking for one!

Second, EEEEK I think this moving this is really happening! My big beautiful Victorian house in Maryland! <3 Last February when I was on a writing retreat Jessica Spotswood and I were talking about our dreams for the future and she was like, "I'd like to sell a book and become a full-time writer" and I was like, "I'd like to move to Maryland, maybe somewhere around Frederick" and I think we both thought those were POSSIBLE dreams, but big ones. I am still flabbergasted that within a year of that conversation, her first novel will be OUT (she's already a fulltime writer now) and I will be IN MARYLAND. This was like, the year of dreams in hyperdrive.

It's been the strangest year, though, because my career has gone better than ever and yet because of the house thing, I am in super-belt-tightening budget mode. Despite reading a slew of real estate books beforehand, moving is way more expensive than I thought. I allotted money for closing, inspection, appraisal, blah blah, but then all these other things have popped up.

For one thing, it was precisely like an episode of House Hunters. The prospective buyer always says "Well, my budget is A, but I'd really like to spend less, more like B."

They always end up buying a house that costs A. And yep. So did I.

I was on a tight budget anyway, we saw over a dozen houses and the one I offered on was really the only one I could honestly see myself living in. It's hard to see yourself living in a new house. I tried to go in like "Just find something, be realistic, you can always change things over time, blah blah" but once you're looking, man, you want to fall in love. And you want the house you fell in love with to not have a huge crack in the foundation or something. Luckily, this one checked out pretty well even if it's killing my budget now.

SO, with that said, I have a lot of Magic Under Stone ARCs and I'm sending them to anyone (in the US) with reasonable credentials who can pay $4 for shipping, Paypal preferred. I'd rather not move with so many. If you've been yearning to find out what happens with Erris and Nimira, just email me at with a link to your blog, or tell me you're a YA librarian, whatever. Basically, it does cost my publisher money to make ARCs (more than it costs to make real books) so I don't want to abuse them by sending the books to people who are just going to read them, keep them, and not tell anyone. I reserve the right to turn down people with sloppy reviews or no followers, quantities are limited, blah di blah.

I can't wait to meet more readers in Maryland and its many neighboring states in years to come!