In Which I Want To Make Out With PBS

The Where the Wild Things Are trailer is out! EEK!

Pant pant pant.

I luffffff you, Spike Jonze.

In other important video news, if you missed the first episode of last Sunday's Little Dorrit (MR. DARCY MR. DARCY MR. DARCY), you can catch up on the Masterpiece website.

Thank you, PBS!

I thought it was fantastic. So many delicious characters and romances and mysteries. Claire Foy makes a charming, likable heroine, and Matthew Macfadyen was . . . perfect. PERFECT. It's kinda cheesy to admit, but I really appreciate nice characters. You know? I think it's a lot harder to create a solidly "good" character -- that readers/viewers will NOT want to kick in the shins -- than people realize. (Remus Lupin is my all-time favorite.)

So kind! So concerned! So yummy!

Ooo, and how sweet is Maggy? I loved her! And the gatekeeper! Adorable! And I was so excited to see Eddie Marsan as Pancks. If you've seen Happy-Go-Lucky, you'll know him as Poppy's insane driving instructor. He's a GREAT (and frightening) character actor.

(Mr. Darcy's purty blue eye courtesy of this lovely site.)

Unfortunately, I have not yet read the novel, so I'm curious: Any Dickens fans out there? What do you think of the adaptation so far? (And pretty pretty please, no spoilers in the comments. I realize it's weird to ask for no spoilers on something written in 1855, but there you have it.)

So speaking of awesome things . . .


I was shocked -- SHOCKED! -- upon discovering last week that Trix is no longer fruit-shaped. This has been a serious concern of mine for, I dunno, the last fifteen years.


Because once upon a time Trix was my FAVORITE CEREAL IN THE WORLD. It was fruity and puffy and made the most satisfying crunch underneath my tongue. But then, one day, the brainiacs at General Mills thought it'd be cute to make the little round balls (that make such a satisfying crunch) into these oddball fruit shapes that did NOT make a satisfying crunch and instead just got all nasty and mushy and disgusting.

I have been unreasonably bitter about this for a very long time.


It's like a bowl filled with rainbow.

However -- despite my joy upon seeing the new box -- I was hesitant to make the purchase. I'm not exactly a sugary cereal kind of girl anymore. My breakfasts generally consist of organic, plain whole milk yogurt and buttered whole wheat toast. So I prepared myself for serious disappointment.

But you know what? They actually still taste good.

Huzzah! Trix is back!

(Cough cough. Almost. Now if only they'd go back to three flavors, then we'd really be in business.)


Tweet tweet!

There have been several Twitter announcements in blogland this week.

Allow me to be the latest.

Follow me here (if you'd like).


In Which I Surprise You All By Talking About Shakespeare. Sort Of.

How much do I want that shirt?! It's from my favorite online comic, Married to the Sea. You can see the full Shakespeare comic here, which is even more awesome (but naughty and therefore unpostable).

So. Yes. Shakespeare.

I'm surprising myself too. Truthfully, he's the kind of writer that makes me squirmy inside. Because he is SMART. Which makes me feel dumb. So in a generalized kind of way, I avoid him.

(I like Shakespeare. I respect Shakespeare. I just rarely read Shakespeare.)

Because the other thing about him? Depressing. I'm sorry, but no one will ever convince me that a thirteen-year-old girl in a suicide pact is a love story. Interesting, yes. Romantic? NO!

Don't do it! He's not worth it!

[SIDE NOTE: Did you know Romeo and Juliet was a preexisting story? Matteo Bandello (c. 1480 – 1562) was probably the original author, and then it was translated from Italian into a narrative poem called "The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet" in 1562 by Arthur Brooke. Shakespeare most likely wrote his version between 1591-1595.]

Anyway. I much prefer his comedies -- The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, and, my favorite, A Midsummer Night's Dream. And I've begun to appreciate his sonnets with age. And after seeing today's post at Jane Austen Today, I have an EVEN BETTER appreciation.

Because check it out, you guys.

Mr. Darcy reading Sonnet 29!



My favorite voice ever, Rufus Wainwright, singing it.

(The video happens to be set to Pride and Prejudice footage, which is a lovely bonus. Though I know you won't believe me when I say this, but I'd actually prefer just listening to Rufus, whom I passionately worship and adore. Still. If I have to look at SOMETHING...)

His voice is so beautiful! I had the honor of seeing Rufus two years ago, and it was one of the best shows I've ever attended. He's the only musician who has moved me to tears, during a gorgeous -- and microphone-less -- rendition of an Irish folk song called "Macushla" (translation = heartthrob).

Sadly, this is only part of the song, but you can get the idea:

Rufus's latest project is a French opera called Prima Donna, which will debut later this year. I'm so thrilled! I'm not an opera buff, but I'm interested by it. And I love this quote from him: "Opera seems to have been hijacked by intellectual elements. For a long time I wanted to make it a little less intellectual and have more emotional engagement. You have to remember it was a populous form, like the bandstand of its time."

Opera for the people! Cool!

But going back to Matthew MacFadyen for a minute -- because why not? -- he also recorded two additional poems for this DVD, including my very favorite poem (I seem to have many favorites in this post, but they're all true), "This Is Just To Say" by William Carlos Williams:

AND . . . Mr. Darcy will be in Little Dorrit on Masterpiece Classic starting this Sunday the 29th through April 26th. Yippee!

The costumes alone are enough to get me to watch.

Will you tune in?


Second Novel + The Punktuations + My Boyfriend Never Told Me He Was a Zombie

Remember when I said Second Novel wasn't sexy yet?


Last week, Second Novel blossomed. Or, at least, the buds have begun to open. But they're pink and beautiful and smell of hyacinths and honey.

I've waited ages for this moment. The moment my friend Laini calls a "snick" -- when the pieces of the puzzle make that satisfying snap together. My new pages have life. The protagonist took action, strutted off on her own, and surprised me in a way that's perfect. It gives purpose, adds tension, and ties in brilliantly with another major story arc.

Happiness! Bliss! Huzzah!


"Marry me!"

But there was one downer. While I was writing these pretty new pages, I missed out on all the fun! The fun related to MY OWN BAND.

That's right. I'm in a band.

We're called The Punktuations, and Kiersten White is the singer/lyricist and my husband, Jarrod, is playing all of the instruments. Which means I am basically just dancing around in the music video.


I could also provide a (weak) left-handed rhythm guitar OR some sweet action on the vibraphone.

I can rock a vibraphone for reals, you guys.

If you don't already read Kiersten's hilarious blog, here is her first post about our band (including lyrics to a Very Clever song about adverbs), and here is a follow-up interview about our first album, HYPErbolic.

Every song on HYPErbolic is destined to be a Top Forty Solid Gold Hit! It features seventeen soon-to-be-classics including: "Born to Run-on," "I'll DIE if You Don't Love Me (The Hyperbole Song)," "Passive Was Our Love," and my personal favorite --

"My Love for You is IN ALL CAPS"


But the thing I love most about our band is that we can change our name depending on our mood. So when we're pumped on adrenaline, we're The Punktuations! And then when we get confused about our next career move, we'll be The Punktuations? And then we'll go emo, and we'll call ourselves The Punktuations...

[Kiersten, darling, you're a genius.]

Soooo, speaking of My Boyfriend Chris Martin, the three of us -- Jarrod, Chris, and I -- were lounging around last night watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (episode: bird's nest soup with frog ovaries and rooster balls on a stick), when suddenly Chris was like, "You know, that kind of reminds me of the makeup I wore in Shaun of the Dead."

My husband and I froze.

"What?" Chris asked. "Those frog bits. They're all pale and ooky."

Jarrod cleared his throat. "Shaun of the Dead?"

"Yeah, you know." Chris waved a hand around vaguely. "When I had that cameo."

"You were in SHAUN OF THE DEAD?" My eyes bugged. "How could you NOT have mentioned this before?!"

He looked startled. "I thought you knew. You guys watch it every Halloween."

"NO, I DIDN'T KNOW!" I said.

"Dude," Jarrod said. "That's awesome."


"Pretty decent. I had a couple scenes." Chris sat up and stretched his legs, accidentally kicking over the footstool. Then he frowned. "Wait. How could you not know I was in it? They practically interview me in the end!"

I blushed. "I don't believe you."

So he grabbed the DVD, and we popped it in. And guess what you guys? My boyfriend WAS a zombie in Shaun of the Dead! How cool is that?

(The lanky zombie on the right.)

One says ZOMBAID, the other ZOMBAD. Tee hee.

So now I feel terrible. Because, sure, anyone could miss the zombie cameo. But ZOMBAD?

How embarrassing!

(And now I have to make it up to him with extra dish washing and dirty socks cleaning and sugar cookie baking.)


Wild Things, Cupcakes, and WHITE PANTS

Yes!! I have cupcakes!

My friend Sara and I went to the Howard Street Handmade Indie Craft Fair today, hosted by the yummy new bakery, Short Street Cakes. Asheville is packed with artsy craftsy folks, but our street fairs -- though we have many -- are generally high dollar. It was great to have a smaller show. I hope a lot of people came and spent money, so they'll do it again!

We did our part to support the cause. Sara bought some fabulous earrings, and I picked up the cute birdie mug (pictured above) made by Courtney Murphy. And then, of course, we ate cupcakes.

Many, many, many cupcakes.

But could YOU resist Blueberry Lemon Cream? Raspberry Almond? Triple Chocolate Ganache? Vegan Lemondrop with cream cheese icing? Or how about the Strawberry Short Street or the Georgia Hummingbird?

I thought not.

Also excellent was the fact that Sara and I showed up both wearing green shirts with white polka dots. This isn't the first time we've arrived at an event in the same outfit. We both have these awesome red coats that we wore everywhere this winter, and last Halloween we wore matching (wrinkled) silver bridesmaids dresses.

I think this is True Friendship, no?

At least I'm not challenging her to duels over these coincidences. It turns out my Jane Austen action figure has a nemesis! Apparently Jane and the Lone Ranger both have the same cell phone, and he keeps picking hers up and taking it to work. (You know. Ranging alone. Or whatever he does.) So Jane keeps missing all of these important calls from her publishers!

Don't worry, I separated them before anyone got hurt. I had to remind Jane that the Lone Ranger has guns. And even though fencing is far more entertaining -- as evidenced by Jack Sparrow, Robin Hood, Aragorn, the Count of Monte Cristo, Westley, Max Fischer, etc -- when it comes to duels:

Guns > Swords.

And I realize it's dangerous to keep giving them weapons, but since Coraline took over the whip, Jane's been really bummed. This is more her style anyway. Classier.

Let's just hope someone teaches her how to hold it.

It's not a bracelet.

In one hundred percent unrelated news, the poster for Spike Jonze's new film, an adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, was released this week. Yippee!

Spike is one of my all-time favorite directors, and it's been years since he's had a major project. He creates fantastic, weird, independent goodness. Perhaps you're familiar with his films, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, but he's also made several music videos -- including The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" and Weezer's "Buddy Holly" -- as well as the skateboarding videos for Girl and Chocolate.

(If you aren't familiar with the world of skateboarding, you'll just have to trust me on this. They're AWESOME. And unlike anything else in the industry.)

Anyway. Where the Wild Things Are! Lots of buzz, but not a lot of info. But have you seen the images that have been released?

Gorgeous! I'm insanely curious to see what Spike does with a book of so few words and such iconic imagery.

So to bring up the rear of my random parade ("rear" -- what a horrible word!), I just downloaded music from two new-to-me French bands: Les Shades and Rock & Roll. Loving it all so far.

Les Shades

Only the French would be so bold as to wear matching white pants. Je t'aime!

[Note to Sara: Do we need white pants?]

Happy rest-of-the-weekend, everyone!


I (Heart) Ireland!

I love St. Patrick's Day. My Irish ancestry may be a few generations back, but I do get my red hair honestly.

And, yes, I am a redhead.

I realize the blue stripes often make the rest of my hair look brown, so I offer proof in the form of an old photo:

See? My hair is so red that the orange sunglasses sitting atop my head blend in! (Look closely.) Plus, I have death-white, burn-to-a-crisp-in-seconds skin. Can't get more Irish than that.

Extreme Hair Close-Up

Anyway, I can't resist a celebration. And because I am a nerd, and therefore enjoy Learning Stuff, here are some cool factoids:

Perhaps you've heard the tale of St. Patrick — the patron saint of Ireland — banishing the snakes from Ireland with only a wooden staff. But did you know snakes aren't native to the island? So the "snakes" he banished are a metaphor for pagan ideals.

St. Patrick is also most likely the creator of the Celtic cross. He placed the sun (a powerful symbol of the Irish pagans), onto the Christian cross so that the symbol would feel more natural to them.

Sneaky, sneaky man.

And did you know that leprechauns had nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day until 1959, when Walt Disney released Darby O'Gill & the Little People? And now that you know that, it probably won't surprise you that the cheerful leprechaun is purely an American — Disney — invention! Traditional leprechauns are cranky and use trickery to guard their treasure. They're also in charge of mending the other faeries' shoes. (While they're guarding treasure, I assume?)

Darby features a young Sean Connery. NOT Irish.

And now for some desk-chair travel . . .

Isn't it beautiful?

And, well, it wouldn't be me if I didn't follow that up with the beautiful men of Ireland.

Do you know how hard it was to find a non-creepy photo of Jonathan Rhys Meyers? I mean, granted, that's kind of his charm. (But honestly.) Here are my top three JRM films:

(1) Bend It Like Beckham — Sweet and young, plus excellent application of the accent.
(2) The Tudors — Okay, not a movie. But sexy, period-costumed goodness.
(3) Velvet Goldmine — Glittery and glam rock.

Also, anyone out there seen August Rush? Do we like? Should I watch?

His very Irish name is pronounced "Kill-ian," if you didn't know. And I've yet to see a film with Cillian Murphy that I didn't enjoy, so here are five of my favorites:

(1) Sunshine — Danny Boyle, Danny Boyle, Danny Boyle!
(2) Red Eye — Kinda embarrassed to rank this one so high, but I love it. So there.
(3) Girl with a Pearl Earring — Had a small but memorable role in this gorgeous film.
(4) 28 Days Later — Danny Boyle, Danny Boyle, Danny Boyle!
(5) The Wind That Shakes the Barley — Solidly Irish. Fantastic acting and cinematography.

Also, um, how fab is his belt?

I'm just saying.

What?? No, I'm not using my blog to post pictures of Cillian Murphy again. Though that last one is adorable. I didn't realize how rare it was to see him full-on smiling.

Ah hem.

So if you've never seen Once, today is the perfect day! Glen Hansard is a cutie Irishman who plays the guy — the characters are never named — who enlists the help of Markéta Irglová (born in Czech Republic, lives in Dublin) to record an album. That's pretty much it, but you'll be wowed by the quiet intelligence of the story and the phenomenal music. It's truly the best soundtrack in recent years. If not ever.*

Glen also fronts the Irish rock band, The Frames. If you aren't familiar with their work, may I suggest iTunes-ing "Pavement Tune"? You will like it. I promise.

(Unless you don't. Then I'm sorry about the $0.99.)

Glen and Markéta used to date, but I was sorry to hear they recently broke up. So sad! Because look how cute they were when they won their Academy Awards for "Falling Slowly":

Love them.

Glen and Markéta also win the prize for the most sincere Oscar speech of all time. (The video is disabled for embedding, but please click on the link! It's inspiring for ALL artists. Plus, you'll hear Glen's lovely accent.)

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah! The holiday! Well. I've gotten a bit off track, and I smell a cup of Irish breakfast tea waiting for me in the kitchen. So allow me to end with a quote from my very favorite Irishman:

"I can believe in anything, provided that it is quite incredible." — Oscar Wilde

Oscar's statue in Dublin.



*Speaking of Cillian Murphy (cough cough), he was originally cast for the lead in Once, but dropped the project because of a scheduling conflict. Glen Hansard — who'd already signed on to write the music — stepped in, but it took quite a bit of convincing from the director. Glen was concerned about playing someone who is, essentially, himself. Can you imagine how different the movie would have been with Cillian? As much as I admire him, I'm thankful it was Glen who did the job in the end.



There are eight billion reasons why my husband is my favorite person on the planet.

This is just the latest.

These were taken (I'm sorry, I don't remember by who -- I snagged them off Facebook) at last week's ginormous Hallows and Horcruxes Ball in Kansas. Lots of love in the air. Wish I had been there.

Look at the hands!


In Which I Ramble About Characters and Hope It Makes Sense and/or Helps You

I did NOT just put my picture between Diana Gabaldon and JK Rowling. (Except I totally did.)

I've heard that most writers can be split into two groups: those who begin with plot and those who begin with character.

I start with the characters.

Allow me to back up for a moment. Almost two weeks ago, I turned in my latest draft of First Novel. Very, very excited about First Novel. Think First Novel is gorgeous and sexy and want to pour maraschino cherries and dark chocolate across its pages and eat it in bed with a golden spoon.

I'm also very excited about my new project -- Second Novel.

[Which is technically First Novel, and there have been Several Novel Starts in between, but let's not go there. We'll pretend there are only two novels involved -- First and Second. And that's the order they were written.]

But Second Novel? Not so sexy.

Second Novel has had a few incarnations, the latest being last year's NaNoWriMo draft. Which was helpful. I threw out (more like threw up) every idea and whim and question that rattled in my brain, hoping for some of the bits and pieces to click together. Hoping for the story to present itself. And, for the most part, it did. The NaNo draft boldly highlighted what worked and what did not.

Which is a pretty good starting place, if you ask me.

But now I must turn this tangle of old working ideas and newly brainstormed ideas into Second Novel. I have to make it twinkle and hum and twirl. And make sense.

It would be really helpful if the book made sense.

So how does one begin again? Well . . . with how one always begins. With whatever one is most comfortable with. And, for me, that's character.

I LOVE creating characters. LOOOOOOVE.

Everything I've ever written has started with a character. Someone who has popped into my mind, strutted around, and captured my attention. Someone who made me think, "I want to know his story."

[Shameful confession time. I say his, because it's true: all of my stories start with The Boy. ALL. OF. THEM. I know, you'd never guess this about me.]

So how do I turn that idea, that hint of a character, into one that walks and talks and kisses and farts? Into someone who waits until the last moment to file their taxes, is aroused by the smell of laundromats, and can't remember a time when they didn't have the lyrics to R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" memorized?

By asking questions.

Many questions.

I ask questions about every single person who walks across my page -- from the protagonist to the guy walking his poodle. And let's talk about that guy walking his poodle. Who is he? Has he had a good day or a bad day? Does he come here often? Why or why not? I never stop asking questions for information that will never ever ever appear inside my novel. So why do I do it?

J.K. Rowling.

My absolute favorite thing about the Harry Potter series (I have MANY favorite things, but this easily wins above all else), is that every character matters. Every. Single. One. Not only did Jo create one of the most remarkable protagonists of all time -- someone likable but flawed, someone we relate to despite his extraordinary circumstances -- and not only did she create some of the greatest side characters (a fact confirmed by how deeply we felt some of their deaths), but it's truly the little guys who get me. What am I talking about?

Most people who have read the series will recognize these names:

Cormac McLaggen: Hermione's arrogant date to Slughorn's Christmas party
Sir Cadogan: the little knight who lived in a portrait and challenged people to duels
Eloise Midgen: who never appeared in a scene, but we all knew had unfortunate acne

Despite the fact that these are some of the most minor of minor characters -- in a series OVERFLOWING with names -- I know all three of them. Absolutely.

How many other authors can do that?

Diana Gabaldon comes to mind. What I love so much about her Outlander series is that she's given all of her characters history. When Claire travels back in time to 18th century Scotland, she doesn't just run into a bunch of people who help her Do What She Needs To Do. No, she's dropped smack dab into a preexisting conflict, one that has absolutely nothing to do with her. The characters she meets have back story, relationships, heartaches, triumphs, and silly stories -- all things completely unrelated to her.

How many authors do this? How often do you read a story where the minor characters don't simply exist for the sake of the main character?

This is what I strive for. And I'm not claiming that I actually DO it, but I sure as heck try. I want everyone to matter. Which doesn't mean I spend twelve pages -- or even a full paragraph -- on Poodle Guy. But there's something about him. Something I should know. Something my protagonist should notice.

So what is it? What's the guy with the poodle's point?

Of course, I don't waste all day working on Poodle Guy. That would be ridiculous, and just a few minutes of brainstorming is (usually) sufficient. The majority of my attention needs to be focused on my main characters.

Specifically, that character who started it all.

Now -- and I realize this is REALLY SPECIFIC to how I write, but perhaps some of it might be helpful, and that's why I'm sharing (even the embarrassing bits) -- because my novels start with The Boy, and because my protagonist is actually The Girl, this leaves me with a bit of a dilemma.

Who is The Girl?

More often than not, I figure out who she is by figuring out who he is. Again. Always start at the beginning. It's that simple. What made you want to write the story in the first place? That's where you'll get your answers.

So questions. Lots and lots and lots of question. And now we're talking about laundromat arousal and lyric memorizing. Big things, little things, and everything in between.


Start with the basics. Appearance. Where they live. What they do. Who their family is.

And then, ask yourself every other question you can possibly think of. Then think of twenty MORE questions to ask. How would they react to X situation, to Y situation, to Z situation?

The fantastic thing about all this -- if you are like me, and not-so-hot with plotting -- is that by learning everything there is to know about your character, you'll also learn:

(A) What they want (the story!)
(B) Why they can't have it, and what they're trying to do about it (the plot!)
(C) Who else is involved with the wanting/can't having/trying to get.

And if you're like me, (C) also means . . . The Girl.

Hurrah! I've found her!

And once (C) is found, the process is repeated, this time for The Girl. The basic questions, then the harder questions. And then the process is repeated again, for each of the important minor characters.

And now I've got a story.

So to bring this muddle of thoughts back around again, yes. I'm working on Second Novel. I've marked the bits that worked in the last draft, and I'm asking new questions. And I'm finding the story.

And if you're still looking for your story, might I direct you here, to this list compiled by Nick Malysz? I don't know who Nick is and, sadly, the original link has disappeared, but this is the character questionnaire that helped me write First Novel, and the modified version (this one was made for an adult novel, so I tweaked mine for YA) is now helping me discover Second Novel.

Good luck.

And I hope this made some smidgen of sense.


Also, two announcements. The most gigantic huge thanks of all time to Lilie for solving my Blogger text and comma problems. You are amazing!

And as I worked on this site last weekend, something else came to my attention. Something important. I am no longer most frequently discovered in searches for "James McAvoy images."

It's true! I swear!

I'm proud to announce a new winner . . . me!!! The majority of my blog hits now come from searches for "Stephanie Perkins Writer." I'm flattered and humbled that so many people have discovered me, and are interested in learning about --

What's that? I'm lying? What makes you think I'm lying??

Oh fine.

Congratulations to the REAL new winner, "Jim Sturgess images."


Together, we worked hard -- many long hours under very exhausted working conditions -- to make this happen. Here are some pictures from last night's awards ceremony:

". . . and I'd like to thank Julie Taymor for casting me in Across the Universe, without which Steph might've never discovered me. But, most of all, thanks to my beautiful girlfriend, who uses any and every excuse to publish my image on her blog. I love you, Stephanie. I can't wait to see you this weekend. And tell Chris Martin to stop borrowing my shampoo, because I'm tired of finding my bottle empty."

I'm so proud of you, darling. See you soon.


Done (ish) with Updates: Dull + Sparkle

I'm the one about to fall in the trash can.

I've finally succumbed to the wiles of Facebook.

I know it's Helpful for My New Career, but I held out because social networking sites always make me feel like I'm competing in some twisted high school popularity contest. (Which I will lose. Every time.) So please, please, please come be my friend.

I am nice! You will like me!

And thanks for being patient while I tweaked and prodded my Blogger template. Most of the changes you won't even notice, they were just minor things irritating me. Unfortunately, to correct them I had to upgrade my Blogger account, which I'd been avoiding because I knew it'd erase the hard work I'd done on my old template.

Which it did.

I had to fix nearly EVERYTHING. I try to keep my blog fairly "clean" looking, which oddly requires more work than blogs filled with oodles of gadgets. Go figure. (I could make a writing metaphor from that, but I'm feeling too tired and frustrated right now.) So I've been working for, I dunno, twenty-four plus hours on this thing?


Anyway. I fixed most of my old issues and received a few new ones in return. Not so pleased with the font in my sidebar. Haven't figured out how to change that in my template yet. This is what it used to look like:

Anyone with Superior Computer Smarts know what that font was and how to get it back? (Where to edit it in my html?)

And while I'm asking, might as well throw out this question:

I added labels to my posts (the most time consuming aspect of this upgrade), but for some reason, even though I type them in the "Labels for this post" section as this:

Film, Books, HBM

it comes out looking like this online:

Film , Books , HBM

Does anyone know what's up with that extra space between the commas? It's a little thing, but it's reaaaaally bugging me. Also, if you notice any broken links or misspelled blogs in my sidebar, please let me know. (Or if I used to link your blog, and it's suddenly missing!)

But enough of the boring stuff.

We need sparkle!

But I'm just not feeling very sparkly after two days of wrestling Blogger. Time to bring in reinforcements. How about a video?

Today on En Route, the lovely Lilie posted three different -- and all equally amazing -- versions of one of my favorite songs, Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World." Anyone who has seen Stranger Than Fiction knows the song as the one Will Ferrell sings to Maggie Gyllenhaal. And if you've never seen Stranger Than Fiction, then:

(A) Go rent it. NOW.


(B) Watch this clip. It's one of the most romantic (kissing!) scenes ever filmed. Any time it airs on television, I have to see this part:

Hmm. But I'm still not feeling sparkly. Need more videos. How about a funny one? Here's my favorite song from this season's Flight of the Conchords, "We're Both In Love With a Sexy Lady":

So am I sparkly yet?

Not quite.

Hmm . . . I did romantic, and I did funny. What else is there?

How about something beautiful?

If you've never had the pleasure of seeing the Sigur Rós video for "Glósóli," you're in for a treat. This is probably -- no exaggeration -- the most gorgeous music video ever created. Their music is slower but filled with sweeping crescendos and achingly perfect buildups, so please be patient.

(I know it's hard to be patient in this day and age of clickclickclick immediate gratification, but honestly. It's SO WORTH IT. Don't skip ahead. Watch the whole thing, and fall in love.):

Ahhhh. There it is. Sparkles.

I hope you all have a dreamy rest-of-the-weekend. I'm off to bed. No Internet for me tomorrow! I need a rest.


Pardon My Ugly

Cleaning up my template, so things will look ugly here for a while. Kinda like this nasty pumpkin that sat on my porch for way too long and rotted.

(Yes, Jarrod and I photograph rotten vegetables. We are Those Kind of People.)

Anyway, please forgive my mess. N/A will be pretty again soon!


There's Something I Haven't Told You

Eek! Isn't my new pin the COOLEST? I can hear the deep voice now, announcing the start of the show: Spaaaaace Tweeeerp!

It would make a good cartoon, wouldn't it? I'd watch it.

The pin is part of an EXCELLENT package I received in the mail yesterday from Laini Taylor. (I know! Another package! I am so freaking lucky to have such amazing friends.) Laini, amongst being:

(A) An awe-inspiring writer
(B) A hilarious emailer
(C) A genius advice-giver

is also

(D) An intuitive gifter

Anyone who reads her blog knows the care she puts into her Christmas presents, but seriously, all of her gifts are awesome. Check out the rest of yesterday's package:

Pretty stationary, delicious candy, a Portland travel guide (is that a hint?), an adorable "watch," and . . . what's that in the middle? Oh yeah. Homemade chocolate chocolate chip cookies. But wait! There's more! See that jar in the back? Wanna know what's inside?

Lavender caramel sauce.

Let me repeat that.

LAVENDER CARAMEL SAUCE. Which was heated and poured over vanilla ice cream for last night's dessert. Yuuuumm. Also, there may have a bit more candy and a few more cookies before this picture was taken. Maybe.

And . . . (Yes! Even more!)

Laini's super duper rockingest stupendously fun husband, Jim Di Bartolo, added in some new tunes for my playlist AND a print of this:

Which I have hardcore coveted ever since he posted it on his blog. I LOVE it, and I can't WAIT to hang it in my writing room. Isn't Jim talented?? I'm not the only one who thinks so. Last night, I sent Thom an email of the drawing. This was his reply:

To: stephssecretemail@popculturewhore.com
From: thisisnotthom@radiohead.com

not bad.


Which, coming from Thom, is a huuuuuge compliment. Yay Jim!

But . . . okay. I'm avoiding something here. That thing I haven't told you about? (You know, the title of this post?) That's the reason I received this package in the first place. And it's something I've wanted to tell you guys for a while, but I didn't know how. It's Big News. Good News. But in light of this crap economy, it makes me feel uncomfortable and guilty and squirmy inside.

So I haven't told you.

Until now.

Because, really, I can't put it off any longer.

Except if I space out a few more lines like this.

Or this.

Or even this.

Thom Yorke is my boyfriend!

I bought blue nail polish to match my hair!

Sharp cheddar cheese is better than mild cheddar cheese!

(Oh get it over with, Stephanie.)

I quit my job.

The package was a congratulations gift for my new status as Official Full-Time Writer. As of two weeks ago, I am no longer a librarian. Which is simultaneously one of the most joyous and terrifying things that has ever happened to me.

Let me back up a bit.

My husband and I have had an agreement for the last few years. A Very Simple Agreement. When I got an agent, I could quit my job. Please allow me to make it clear that we both fully realize that agent does not = published book and a fatty paycheck. We are fortunate to be okay financially. We are not rich (so don't ask me to borrow a twenty, because I will laugh), but thanks to my husband's job, we do just fine thank-you-very-much. We're lucky not to have debt (apart from that pesky mortgage thing), and we're notoriously thrifty.

So anyway. Why when I got an agent? Because, to me at least, it's the first major step towards publication. And I know it might not happen with this novel, and maybe not even the next, but I DO feel good about it. Really good. And I have a GREAT agent. And having this first industry professional on my side is like my first gold star. It means: Hey. This is good stuff. With hard work, you might have a career here.

Notice that phrase? Hard work? Because that's what I'm doing. What I HAVE been doing. Working my butt off, day after day, night after night. I've been working two full-time jobs, and now that I have a reason to hope, and since I am financially secure, I have quit one of them to pursue the other to the best of my abilities.

Which, like I said, is terrifying. And thrilling and wonderful and vomit-inducing and cartwheel-producing.

And I have felt enormously guilty and hesitant to tell you because I know so many of you are struggling right now. And despite my hard work to get here, it feels really unfair. I have close friends and family who have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts or are in jeopardy of losing careers they've held for twenty years. And here I am, basically throwing away a paycheck.

Please believe me when I tell you that this wasn't an easy decision. The plan had been for me to quit the day I signed with an agent, but as it turns out, it didn't go down like that. We agonized over this. We watched our finances and balanced budgets and threw out dire scenarios and all sorts of scary stuff.

And we decided that the time was still right.

What it comes down to is this: If I didn't take this risk, I would always wonder. And that "what if" would slowly eat away at my soul for the rest of my life.

Now, I am not a risk taker by nature. I order the same thing every time I go to my favorite restaurants. It took me a dozen years to grow the courage to dye my hair. I love travel shows, but I let my passport expire because I am terrified of embarrassing myself in another country.

But THIS "what if." This one is different.

This one is my dream.

And I am so sorry for everyone struggling out there right now. And I wish with all my heart that the economy turns quickly. But I also hope that you can see this was the right decision for me, at this time in my life. No matter what happens -- good or bad -- it was the right decision.

That's what I keep telling myself, at least.

Now, if you pardon me, I'm going to go stress vomit.


NO SHE DID NOT! (But she totally did.)

OH MY STARS, you guys.


The "she" in my title is Kiersten White, and yes -- she sent me the Coraline in her polka dot jammies doll! Which I didn't even know existed!

(I only hoped existed.)


Okay, maybe not you just die, but me just die TOTALLY.

I am still in shock. This was a complete utter total one hundred and ten percent surprise. There was a tremendous amount of shrieking, dancing, and creative swearing upon opening the mystery Amazon box.

Um, Kiersten? I love you. Someday I am SO BUYING YOU A PONY. Or a giraffe or a goldendoodle, whichever you prefer. I'm flexible.

Coraline and I have been hanging out all week, getting to know each other. Here we are reading a good book:

And I have to show you this, because it's the best part:

SHE HAS SOCKS! Seriously, guys. How many action figures come with removable socks?

I am so charmed.

Finally, here's Coraline at her new home on my writing desk. Jane is showing her how to use the whip:

She's a natural. I love her so much!

OH, and one last thing. Get this: Not only did Kiersten give me this FANTASTIC gift, but she also just wrote this really really really nice post about my novel. Which starts with one of the top ten best compliments anyone has ever given me.

Thank you, Kiersten. I am so happy and overwhelmed.

And I'm serious about the pony.