More Self-Editing, NaNoWriMo Season, + Halloween Linkage

Wee James would like to thank everyone for their well-wishes. He's feeling much better! (Good enough to steal Jim Sturgess's sexy coat, obvs.)

Wowie zowie.

I had a lot of new visitors leave comments on my last post. Thank you, and welcome to my blog! I hope you all stick around for the pie. Big thanks to Kiersten White, Natalie Whipple, and Katie Anderson for linking to my post (and for being wonderful in general), and thank you to everyone who tweeted about it. I spent — ah hem — a LONG time writing it. It feels really, really nice to know the work was appreciated.

There were so many great comments, and I'd like to share with you the ones that held more self-editing tips.

Rachel Bateman said:

"One word I think all writers should have on their overused list is THAT. It seems to be one of the most overused words of all time. If I catch myself using it, I stop myself and think long and hard about whether or not I really need it. Then, at the end, I do a find to see how many I missed–most of these can be removed as well."

It's on my list, too! Though I must confess, the first time I became aware of THAT problem, I removed waaaaay too many, and the language became unnatural. So yeah. Watch out for "that" . . . but don't carried away, like I did.

Super Agent Daphne Unfeasible said:

"Regarding your advice to 'Keep a list of the words you overuse. (My list, among many things, includes: grin, smile, eyes, laugh, hand.) Every time you finish a new draft, do another "Find" search. Eliminate some of these.', Rexroth recommends creating a Wordle on your manuscript and using it to weed out the overused words. And I think Rexroth is very very wise."

Rexroth IS wise, because he married you, and you are fabulous! This is great advice. I've bookmarked Wordle so many times I've lost count, but I'll definitely hit it up on my next draft. Especially after seeing . . .

Valerie's follow-up comment:

"I second Daphne about Wordle but I think it works even better on a chapter by chapter basis. I find it's helpful to use on a chapter or scene sequence so that I can see if I'm using the same words over and over when focused on one topic or event. When you're doing your entire manuscript there might not be enough instances of a word for it to show up, but when checking out just that chapter you might find that you've used it way too much."

Excellent! Thank you!

Shelley said:

"I also think on your list of things to read and learn about writing a book is the Not For Robots site. Sooo much goodness there!"

YES. I credit Laini Taylor's Not for Robots site for helping me complete my first full, pretty draft. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Love love LOVE. If you've never read it, GO FORTH IMMEDIATELY.

Shelley also asked:

"You seem to be accumulating more boyfriends...is that allowed?"

Of course it's allowed.

As long as I keep my Only Full-Time Live-In Celebrity Boyfriend, Chris Martin, away from my brilliant-but-curmudgeonly boyfriend, Thom Yorke, everyone is just happy for the extra company.

The last time Chris and Thom were here at the same time, one of them enjoyed it more than the other.

Poor Chris. He's such a sweetheart.

Hmm, what's next? This whole post is a bit scattered, as things keep popping up, and I'm finding less and less time to address them.

Less time because . . . it's NaNoWriMo time!

♥♥♥ Huzzah! ♥♥♥

Which means this November, I'll be working on THREE novels — Anna, Lola, and the brand-new Third Novel.

It's a good thing I'm a professional. (Snert.)

Normally, I'd explain why I love National Novel Writing Month, and why you should try it, blah blah blah, but this year I'll just direct you to an interview I did about NaNo with Sarah at Bookduck. This interview was extra-special because not only was it Sarah's first interview, it was also mine!

[Sarah, I'm honored to have lost our interview virginity together. We're, like, legit now. BUT WHY HAVEN'T YOU CALLED? Didn't last weekend mean ANYTHING to you??]

And here's a link to last year's NaNo post. Good stuff there. Also, if you're interested in being my writing buddy, I'm naturallysteph in NaNo-land.

Okay. What's next?

[Steph consults actual, typed list.]

Oh, yeah! This has already been Link-O-Rama Central, but here are two more, if you'd like to get in the Halloween spirit, in a famous writerly way:

Neil Gaiman's 30-Second Scary Story, halfway down the page = Genius (And, yes, Neil. You can read me to sleep any night. Every night.)

Diana Gabaldon's Real-Life Ghost Story = Fascinating

[Steph consults list again.]

Myrna-Foster-Finally-Has-A-Blog gave me an award for Sheer Awesomeness! Thank you so much, Myrna! I find you incredibly awesome, too.

[Steph consults list again.]

[Steph sees remaining list is answering more questions.]

[Steph dies a little.]

[Steph decides to answer them in the next post.]

Buffy and Spike. WANT.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Please eat forty-two Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and watch Sleepy Hollow. We'll talk again once we've calmed down from our sugar rush.


Scarf Weather + Answers! (Part Eleven: EDITING)

It's growing chilly here in the mountains, so My Celebrity Boyfriends are putting on their scarves. The bundled up cutie above is Gael García Bernal. If you aren't familiar with his work (Y Tu Mamá También, The Science of Sleep, The Motorcycle Diaries, etc.), you should fix that. IMMEDIATELY. Not only is he yum, but he's also one of the most talented actors in the world. His work is perfection!

Here's another picture of Gael wearing a scarf, because it's my blog, so I can do that:

Even here in small town North Carolina, Gael is BOMBARDED by autograph seekers.

Today I'm answering a question that ties-in quite nicely with something weighing on my mind. First, the question.

Corinne Bowen recently asked this good one:

Do you feel like it is a completely different novel now that the editor has his/her hands on it?

Um . . . no. Not really.

It's a BETTER novel, and it will continue to strengthen throughout the editing process (last month was about the bigger changes — cutting/adding/changing scenes, but we have yet to work on the language/sentence level), but Anna and the Boy Masterpiece is still Anna and the Boy Masterpiece. The characters are the same, the plot is the same, the heart of the story is the same. My editor is brilliant at focusing me on my goal — what I'm actually trying to say and do — and then helping me find the best, most realistic, and most effective way to get there.

In other words, we're trying to make Anna MORE like Anna, as opposed to something new and different.

If that makes sense.

Wee James McAvoy at the park yesterday. I snapped this while he was looking at the ducks. He mumbled something about knitting them a sweater, but it was probably the cold medicine talking. (He has a sniffly nose.)

So . . . I love revising. I do.

I've loved this whole process — sleepless nights, panicked meltdowns, and all — because I have a PURPOSE again. When I tear apart my work and puzzle it back together, it's the most satisfying feeling I get as a writer, because I know the end product will be better.

Our work can always be better, right? And don't we want to put our best work forward?

This is the issue weighing on my mind. Self-editing. Please allow me to first state that I don't consider myself an expert on this subject. It's something I spend considerable time thinking about, but I have a lot to learn. There's ALWAYS a lot to learn.

Okay, here's the deal . . .

Last weekend, I read a relatively new YA paranormal. (Sorry, I won't share the title.) And the same thing happened that's been happening over and over, again and again. This novel could have been great. Cool, interesting, and unique things were abound! But at least a third of the book had nothing to do with the plot.


For instance, I don't know how many times I read about the main character going to bed, waking up, and then eating breakfast. Going to bed, waking up, eating breakfast. Going to bed, waking up, eating breakfast. That's tiring, isn't it?

This mistake is common in first drafts, when a writer is working in that "This happens, then this happens, then this happens" frame of mind. And it's fine! I do this, too! In early drafts. But this is something that HAS to be fixed in later drafts. There's no point in telling me what your character does every minute of every day.

It's the equivalent of people who Twitter their potato chip consumption and their bedtimes. It's information that's not contributing anything important to the discussion.

This particular novel also described every time the main character stepped into a car. Just get her into the car and take her somewhere! I don't need to know how she sat down! Better yet, skip to the scene where she actually IS in the place Where Stuff Happens. Who needs the car at all?

Chris Martin polished off our Halloween candy this afternoon, so we sent him back to the corner store for more. He's currently working his way through the new bag of Kit-Kats.

And then . . . several hundred pages later . . . the book just ended. Mid-plot. No resolve whatsoever. And now I'm supposed to wait for two sequels, when really, if the pointless bits were cut, ALL THREE BOOKS could have been combined into one Super-Awesome Book!

Now, don't get me wrong.

I don't mind when a book leaves a few issues unresolved (sequel or standalone). It's when NO issues are resolved, that I get frustrated. There’s no satisfaction for me, as a reader, if I don’t get some worry eased. Consider The Lord of the Rings. The first two novels have sudden endings, but they both still have a climax and full story arc. It’s that full arc that's so often neglected in favor of now-you'll-have-to-buy-the-sequel-next-year!

I don't appreciate that.

I want to WANT to buy the sequel, not to feel like I HAVE to buy it. You know? So, for my sake, please consider your work in progress. Ask yourself:

• Does every scene, every paragraph, have a purpose? Do you see any repeating patterns in your story (i.e.
going to bed, waking up, eating breakfast)? Don't be afraid to cut! That's how you make a page-turner.

• Do you need to show your character getting from A to B, or can you summarize it in a sentence in the next scene?
(Cut, cut, cut!)

• Does your novel — even if it's part of a series — have a beginning, a middle, and an end? Is there a complete story told within those pages? The end doesn't have to be The End, but there should be SOME climactic scene that ends in SOME resolve, that will give your readers a sense of peace as they wait for your next novel.

Lee Pace is always smiling! It's wonderful when he visits. Too bad he doesn't realize that Wee James has just hidden all of his underwear. (I'm not sure if it was a practical joke, or if it was the cold medicine talking again.)

Anyway, as an outsider, it's impossible for me to tell whether this particular novel's faults (my opinion) were a result of poor editing on the author's end or on the editor's. Most likely, both. And I want to bring this to the attention of any aspiring novelists reading this blog, because it's important to understand that not every book published receives an in-depth editorial process.

I'm lucky. I have one! My editor, the fabulous Julie Strauss-Gabel, is AMAZING. She puts an incredible amount of time, energy, and love into each book she works with.

But not everyone will get a Julie.

The sad truth is that Julies are rare and, even if you're fortunate enough to have one, most of your novel's editing? Yeah. It's still up to you. (Also, might I point out that you're far more likely to get a Julie — or any editor! — if you take your time self-editing before you submit to a publishing house. I'm just saying.)

Do the best you can. That doesn't mean perfect, because perfect doesn't exist, but do the best you can.

Thom Yorke was soooo mad when I took this! He didn't realize I was watching him mess around in my husband's studio. Plus, he doesn't appreciate evidence that shows he visits my house. (Chris had to pop out of town last weekend, so Thom quickly popped in. And I'm not allowed to share any more details, because if I do, Thom won't answer my phone calls for the next month. And I like talking to my grumpy boyfriend. SO I AM NOT TELLING YOU ANYTHING MORE ABOUT OUR WEEKEND TOGETHER.)

I could go on about this subject all week, but I have more questions to answer. I'll wrap this up by listing a handful of my favorite self-editing tips:

• How-to write books. I'm serious. The more you read, the more beginner mistakes you'll avoid. My favorites: Stephen King's On Writing (great introduction, I always recommend people read it first), Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird (great second book, gets a little deeper), Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel (just plain good), Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones (exercises to strengthen), and finally — THIS IS A BIG ONE — Renni Browne and Dave King's Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.

• Cut the adverbs. You don't need as many as you think you do.

• Lose the "was -ing" phrases. Ex: "Was running" is weaker than "ran." If you can say something in fewer words, DO IT. Try performing a "Find" search in your document for the word "was" to locate them. Trust me, you can eliminate most of them! The worst offender is "was going to." For instance, this second sentence is cleaner, no?

Drusilla was going to be easy.
Drusilla would be easy.

• Keep a list of the words you overuse. (My list, among many things, includes: grin, smile, eyes, laugh, hand.) Every time you finish a new draft, do another "Find" search. Eliminate some of these.

• Dialogue tags, "he said/she said." These are meant to be invisible. You don't want your audience to be conscious of reading them, because it takes them out of the action. This means:

— No fancy tags. "He said" and "he asked" is all you need, 97% of the time. Please refrain from peppering your dialogue with, "he exclaimed" or "he shouted" (the shouting should be apparent from either the content or an exclamation point).

— If it's clear who is speaking, don't use a tag at all.

— Look for sentences like this:

"I'm on fire!" Inspector Gadget said. He waved his burning hands as if he'd performed a magic trick, not arson.

And turn them into this:

"I'm on fire!" Inspector Gadget waved his burning hands as if he'd performed a magic trick, not arson.

• Don't have your characters "start coughing." They cough. Don't have them "start playing footsie." They play footsie.

• Be conscious of every time you use parentheses, an ellipsis ( . . .), a dash, ALL CAPS, italics, and exclamation points. I'm not one of those people who believes you should never use these things (obviously), but I do believe you should be careful with how often you use them. Scoot your chair back and look at each page. Not the writing itself, but the page. Those dashes and ALL CAPS and such will jump out at you. Eliminate some and vary the rest.

• In a similar vein, be careful of your paragraphs. Examine how many long ones you have versus how many short. Try to mix it up a bit. Think about the purpose of each paragraph. If there's action happening, shorter paragraphs can be helpful. Reflective passages often call for longer paragraphs.

• "Suddenly" is a dangerous word, usually unnecessary. I keep it on my Overused Words list and perform frequent searches for it.

• Whenever you use a simple verb like "walk," drag out your thesaurus to see if there's a more appropriate word. Notice the difference between:

J. Edgar Hoover strolled to the brothel.
J. Edgar Hoover stalked to the brothel.

• Nouns are similar. "Gouda" is more specific than "cheese." "Dahlias" is more evocative than "flowers."

• Sentences like this don't make sense: "Pushing the cauliflower aside, President Taft lunged for the orange chiffon cake."

He's pushing and lunging at the same time? Try this:

"President Taft pushed the cauliflower aside and lunged for the orange chiffon cake."

• Many writers/readers/editors/agents are calling for a halt in Edward/Bellas. But for me? No more Jacob Blacks. There are so many interesting ways to create a love triangle, and I'm frustrated by running into the Jacob character again and again and AGAIN. You know, the nice boy who pops up and is like, "I love you, but I'm okay that we're just friends, please please please just hang out with me." And the main character is like, "Whatever, I guess. You're nice." And you can totally hear him thinking "YESSSSS!!! I will wear you down. You will like me." And then he just becomes The Thing In The Way.

I'm tired of this character. Someone new, please!

(And I'm not knocking on Original Jacob here, who did his thing just fine in Twilight. I'm tired of the copycat Jacobs, who I find both boring and irritating.)

• Speaking of characters, do you have too many? One of my favorite tricks is to combine two characters to create one stronger character. It's important to have characters your readers will care about, and the depth that comes from combining characters/roles can help this.

Enough already. How about another scarf?



I'm blaming Jim Sturgess. He's the only Celebrity Boyfriend who didn't wear one last week. I asked him why, and he claims he doesn't need one, because he already has:

A hipster sweater.

This cool hat.

And the world's sexiest coat.

I'll let the scarf issue slide.

Happy self-editing, everyone! I wish you the most sincere good luck.


Ben Watson and the Return of Answers! (Part Ten: LIBRARIES)

Why yes, Ben. That IS my Flux Capacitor hoodie.

This photo proves how much I really, really like Benjamin James Watson. Because I cannot help but stare at it and think:

(A) It's beyond time to re-dye my blue streaks.


(B) Why haven't made that appointment for new contacts?

But enough of my vanity. I want to talk about my friend for a moment, and how AWESOME he is. If you aren't familiar with Ben, he's the author of the hilarious picture book in my hands, The Boy Who Went Ape. (His father — the very talented Richard Jesse Watson — did the illustrations!) It's about a troublesome boy, a troublesome chimp, and a teacher named . . .


Words cannot express how much I love this name.

I recently picked this up from my library to share with Coraline, Jane, and Jayne. We were delighted to discover that it was just as warm and funny as Ben! As I checked it out, the head librarian remarked that she's read it at several storytimes, and that it always gets a GREAT response from the kids. So if any of you have little ones (or even if you don't), I hope you look for it!

Ben's blog is one of my favorites. It's on a brief hiatus, so I hope this post encourages him to return sooner. Of course, I am not just saying that because he just-so-happened to dub me:

The HBM Connoisseur and Writer of Good Words

That is PURE COINCIDENCE, you guys.

He didn't sway me to his side by complimenting me in the most generous, kind way possible or by posting pictures of my two favorite men in the universe, Jarrod and Mr. Darcy.

Of course not.

Since I mentioned his name, I'm allowed to post one. This is his, "I hope Lizzy will love me after she reads this letter" face.

Sir Ben also dubbed my pal Jim Di Bartolo The Gentle Bad-Ass Bohemian Warrior Daddy, which is pretty much the most perfect dubbing ever. Thanks for being so cool, Ben! And thank you, internet,* for introducing me to yet another wonderful friend.

So speaking of libraries, kind of, this is the perfect time to dive back into my questions. Oh! You forgot about my questions? Those things you asked me LAST JULY? Cough. Coughchokewheezehackhack.

[Stephanie hangs head in shame.]

I only have a few left, so I'll try to knock them out by the end of this month. Which means I'd better learn the art of brevity.


He's forlorn, because Lizzy is telling him she did NOT like his letter!

Natalie asked, but surely no longer remembers asking:

What was your favorite part of being a librarian?

Definitely the librarians themselves. They were the smartest, coolest, most interesting people I've ever worked with! I was very sad to say goodbye to them.

Even though, er, I still see them several times a week, now from the other side of the desk.

Librarians are unique, because they're curious about everything and, therefore, can hold intelligent conversations about any topic. They can answer any question. They keep up with current world events, national events, and local events. And for being book nerds (I'm allowed to say this, being one myself), they're oddly popular, as judged by the insane number of regulars that stop by just to chat, and by the homemade cookies and cards and flowers gifted to them every week.

I LOVE librarians.

So he decides to call me! And I cheer him up, and we make plans for Friday night. What? You didn't know Mr. Darcy had a cell phone? Mr. Darcy has EVERYTHING.

Sarah asked, but also surely no longer remembers asking:

Why did you decide to be a librarian (before you started writing full time)?

It was a fluke! I'd worked for several years as a bookseller, and when my husband and I moved here to North Carolina, I tried to get a job in the local bookstores first. No one was hiring, so I got stuck in a really terrible retail job elsewhere. After only two weeks, I was desperate to get out, so I checked my county's job listings. I was thinking, I dunno, secretary! Or park cleanup! ANYTHING but my horrid retail job.

But there was a page position open at the main public library (for those not in the business, the page is the person who actually works the hardest, the person who shelves all those darn books), so . . . I went for it. I was ecstatic and incredibly surprised when I got it. I'm not sure why, but it hadn't crossed my mind before then to work in a library. I suppose I thought I'd need a library science degree. (Another note: Many libraries DO require the degree, although usually not for paging.)

I worked as a page for a while, then moved into a children's librarian position, and finally ended my career as a regular librarian. The children's gig was fun, doing storytimes and ordering books and such, but a LOT of work — including work I had to take home — and it took away from my writing time. So even though my first love is children's literature, I was much happier as a just-plain-librarian.

Because that position allowed me the time to finish Anna.

And, therefore, that position allowed me to bow back out of the library.

Lizzy, in GOB from Arrested Development voice: "I've made a huge mistake."

Have a fabulous day, everyone! (Why don't you visit your library?)

*For regular blog readers, the lowercase spelling indicates THE WINNER of recent my Internet/internet poll.


In Which Laini Taylor's Silksinger and Lips Touch Bump Into Each Other On My Office Floor

Why yes. That IS my cat's ear sticking out of the trash can.

SILKSINGER: Hey, you! Love the new hardcover. Man, I haven't seen you since you were an ARC.

LIPS TOUCH: Speaking of haven't-seen-you-since. Last time I saw YOU, you were nothing but a stack of Xeroxes on Stephanie's desk. Talk about lookin' good.

S: [blushes] Well, thank you. I'm quite pleased with how everything turned out.

LT: Seriously, have you been working out? Your cover is beautiful, you're the perfect size and weight for hand-holding, and — sniff — you smell fantastic! New book. Why don't they make "new book" air fresheners?

S: Your scent is fresher than mine. How long have you been available for purchase now?

LT: Since October first. You?

S: Since mid-September.

LT: WOW. And why haven't we been on Stephanie's blog yet?

S: Got me. She claims to be busy catching up with everything she neglected last month during Anna revisions, but yesterday I saw her crashed on the couch with Chris Martin, watching an Ace of Cakes marathon and eating an entire box of Cheddar Bunnies. So I'm not sure we can trust her.

LT: Her Live-In Celebrity Boyfriend is finally back?

S: Tour ended a few weeks ago. He's been lying low — sleeping a lot, helping her husband cook dinner, eating chocolate truffles and such. I just snapped this picture in the living room with my camera phone:

S (cont): He's actually talking to Steph, who is upstairs. They're THAT lazy.

LT: Hmph. He could've at least stopped by to say hello.

S: I wouldn't worry about it. They're both pretty exhausted.

LT: Well, enough about them, tell me more about you! I mean, what are you about?

S: I'm Laini Taylor's follow-up—

LT: LAINI TAYLOR?? OMG. Laini wrote me, too!

S: No way! Does that mean you're also illustrated by her husband, the fantastically talented Jim Di Bartolo?

LT: Lemme check. [Opens pages.] YES! LOOK! LOOK HOW PRETTY!!

S: Ooo. Them's some sweeeeeeet pic-tures.

LT: [scratches pages] Who are you, and what have you done with Silksinger?

S: Sorry. I just saw Zombieland, so I feel compelled to talk like Woody Harrelson.

LT: It's okay, I interrupted you anyway. You were saying . . .?

S: OH! So I'm Laini's second Dreamdark book, the follow-up to Blackbringer. I'm about a faerie named Whisper Silksinger, the last guardian of a powerful Djinn, who helped create the world. Whisper is on a quest for the city of Nanzeen to restore him to his temple, but bloodthirsty devils are hot on her trail, and there are others interested in the Djinn, as well. Like Hirik, a mercenary — a totally delicious mercenary —

LT: Excellent, me likey, go on—

S: —with a dangerous secret. Not to mention . . . Magpie and Talon.

LT: MAGPIE AND TALON! As in, the main characters from Blackbringer??

S: Yes! And there's also Bellatrix and Batch Hangnail —

LT: Do they kiss?

S: Bellatrix and Batch? EW!


S: [pause] You are far too obsessed with kissing.

LT: It IS my thing.

S: Ack, I'm sorry. Tell me about your thing! I've been all, "Blah blah blah, I'm sooooo thrilling and impossible to put down," hogging this entire conversation—

LT: No worries! You sound AWESOME. I'm actually three stories in one, that all revolve around a magical kiss.

S: So you're . . . a kissing book?


S: Does Stephanie know?


S: Did she faint when she found out? Was an ambulance required?

LT: No, she made more of a . . . screaming/squealing noise. A squeam.

S: Squeam. That's good, I'll use that sometime. But tell me more!

LT: I think it's best if I share my STARRED REVIEW from Booklist:

"Taylor's three novellas form a triptych of beautiful fantasy writing reminiscent of Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman—"


♥♥♥ NEIL ♥♥♥

LT: I know. I freaked out when I read that. It gets better:

"Kisses are the unifying theme, with each story offering a different sort of locking lips, from giddy seduction to harsh power play. In 'Goblin Fruit,' misfit Kizzy meets a fascinating new student, an unbelievably gorgeous young man—"

S: Mmm. Unbelievably gorgeous.

LT: "—who ignores the popular girls to seek her out . . . 'Spicy Little Curses Such as These'—"

S: That's, like, the best title ever.

LT: "—is set in India and offers intriguing and culturally respectful glimpses of both Indian religion and British colonialism. 'Hatchling' reveals a fully-realized world of sometimes malevolent immortals who steal and raise human babies as their pets. Present-day teen sensibilities blend with artful allusions to mythology and magic, pulling the reader into rich fantasy realms . . . Di Bartolo, Taylor's husband, provides skillfully detailed pen-and-ink illustrations that are a fine match for the lyrical, romantic text."

S: You know . . . *I* got a starred review, too. Kirkus called me, "another ripping yarn, once again taking readers into an uncommonly well-articulated world . . . where the fairies are anything but the sugarplum sort."

LT: That's so cool! But, well, I don't mean to brag, but I actually got another starred review.

S: You . . . did?

LT: Publisher's Weekly said my love stories were "mesmerizing" and called it a "masterful, elegant work."

S: Well, did you know that School Library Journal called me "series fantasy at its best"? Because they did. Say that. About me.

LT: Yeah, but did you hear THE NEWS?

S: [pause] What news?


S: [jaw drops]

LT: [beams]

S: Congratulations. Jacksmoke, CONGRATULATIONS!

LT: Thank you. My phone's been ringing off the hook since the announcement, so I'd better go. It was wonderful running into you again.

S: Thanks. It was great to see you, too. And, um . . . if you don't mind, will you give me a mention when you accept your award?

LT: I haven't won it yet!

S: You will. Steph and Chris have just assured me you will.

LT: OF COURSE I'll mention you if I win.

S: Hey . . . I'm sorry if I sounded a little jealous earlier.

LT: Are you kidding? I'm the one who is jealous. You and Blackbringer hanging out all the time, being all exciting and page-turny without me.

S: I imagine you'll be less lonely with the fancy new medal on your cover.

LT: This is true. Pretty, no?

S: Very.

LT: Bye! And to anyone reading this, PLEASE buy Silksinger. Dreamdark is an astoundingly great fantasy series and more people need to discover it.

S: And please buy Lips Touch. It's the most stunning, romantic, creepy, exotic, wonderful book of the year. You'll squeam.


Sparkle Sparkle Fresh

Why, hello there!

Things look a bit different around here, no? If you're looking at this on your RSS feed reader, please take a moment to pop on over to my real blog, so you can see what I'm talking about.

(I will wait.)



You know how I said that I've been a terrible emailer this last month? Well. That's not quite true. There's one person with whom I've exchanged a LOT of emails. Manning Leonard Krull, my website designer!

I met Manning through Josh Berk, a fellow 2010 debut author (and an awesome, hilarious, and very generous guy to boot). I'd been searching for a designer for months, but the moment I saw Manning's website, I KNEW. I mean, look at his homepage, you guys. How could I not want to work with him?

Not only was I ex-treeemly impressed by his portfolio, but . . . he likes monsters! Halloween! Dinosaurs and skeletons and cemeteries! And yet, his website is HOT PINK. I knew he was someone who would understand the kind of site I wanted — girly meets Edward Gorey.

(Not an easy task.)

I am so, so happy with what he created. A beautiful website that's also practical, that I can fiddle and tweak with to my heart's content. I'm excited to add even more pages soon, most notably to my On Writing section, and I have tons of cool things planned for next year, when it's closer to Anna's publication date.

And aren't Manning's illustrations amazing? This telephone! I LOVE this telephone.

Le sigh!

And I love the details on my masthead, things taken from my real writing desk — the books and teacup and scraps of paper, of course, but also my beloved Pilot G2 pens and my mushroom (which is actually a rubber stamp that reads Bonjour!). And the typewriter is modeled after the one I inherited from my grandmother.

Of course . . . there's one more Very Important Thing you should know about Manning: He's an American living in Paris.

Yes, Paris.

As in, that city I set Anna and the Boy Masterpiece in. You know, that novel I spent ALL OF SEPTEMBER revising?

So not only did Manning build me a perfect website, but he also answered an obscene number of questions about France AND in extremely helpful and thorough detail! I'm still in a weird shock by the timing of it all.

The universe is funny like that, no?

Thank you, Manning. Thank you for being so kind and generous with your time, thank you for being so much fun to work with, and thank you for my BEAUTIFUL NEW WEBSITE!


Weekly Status Update: Yes, there's a pulse!

For the love of Lennon, I'm tired. About one more week of crazy deadline no-sleep editing, and I'll be back here on a regular basis. Thank you for your patience!

This will be rather scattered . . .

• First of all, how awesome is the Internet? It took me, like, two seconds to find five pictures of John Lennon (the original HBM!) sleeping.

• How do we feel about capitalizing "Internet"? It used to be standard, but it seems to be falling out of practice. Not sure what to do about this, but it's been bothering the perfectionist in me for some time now. What do you think? Should I stop capitalizing it?

Okay, the important stuff . . .

• Belated, thrilled congratulations to the lovely Katie Anderson, who signed with an agent! She wrote a book about kissing, so you know I'm psyched about it. Also, huge congratulations to my new kt literary sister, Sara Raasch! (Sara, you will LOVE Agent Kate.)

• I had a day off last week, so I sneaked out to see Bright Star, the new film about John Keats and Fanny Brawne. And OHMYSTARS, you guys. THE KISSING!!! For serious, if you enjoy period films, add this to your must-watch list. The cinematography was some of the most beautiful, sumptuous work I've seen in years.

Check out the trailer to admire the pretty:

I have no idea what makes a tragic poet so deliciously appealing to women, but there you go. The stereotype lives on. Huzzah!

• An extra-special, humbled thanks to Sarah (a.k.a. Bookduck), who recently bestowed the Great Look Award on me. This is so flattering! Thank you, Sarah. Your blog is beautiful, too!

Incidentally, I find the timing of this award quite amusing, as I am — Can you keep a secret? — very, very, VERY close to the launch of a new website. Ha! And also . . . yay!

• I joined The Tenners. The Tenners is a Livejournal group of 2010 debut authors. You can read my bio here. (Note: I have a new, teaser description of Anna and the Boy Masterpiece there! Check it out!)

• I'm also on Goodreads now. I'd be honored if you became my friend, marked my novels to-read, etc etc etc. (I cannot list anything else, because I still haven't figured out the site. These things take time, which I do not have in abundance. BUT SOON.)

• Like I've mentioned, I've been thinking about fun posts for this blog, so please keep checking back. I feel especially bummed to be this busy right now, because I've had so many new commenters lately. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to say hello. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

• One final mention, for my fellow Ashe-villains: Jarrod's (non-Wizard) band, Lewis, is having a record release party for their second album, Revealing Secrets, at West Asheville's Rocket Club tomorrow (Friday, which — coincidence/Beatles nerd alert — would have been John Lennon's 69th birthday. And it's actually his son Sean Lennon's birthday, too! Sean will be 34). ANYWAY. It starts at 9:00 pm. We'd be honored if you came!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous October. *sniffs the air* Ahh. Don't you love autumn?