Greetings, from the Psychedelic Party Tunnel in Detroit!

None of these pictures were taken by me. I was too busy enjoying the JUNGLE MUSIC and the CANDY COLORS.

If you've ever been to the Detroit Metro Airport, you already know about the Psychedelic Party Tunnel. If you haven't, the only thing you need to know is that the Psychedelic Party Tunnel is THE GREATEST TUNNEL OF ALL TIME.

Seven hundred feet of strange music synchronized to sweeping color. Traveling on its moving walkways is something akin to accepting a boat ride from Willy Wonka.

It is more than enough to distract oneself from that whole Nigerian terrorist thing.

So here I am. In Detroit. With an eight hour layover. Doo dee doo.

Oh, by the way?


I'm renting a (teeny tiny) apartment on the Île Saint-Louis, one of two natural islands in the center of Paris. (The other is the Île de la Cité, home of my favorite Famous French Thing, Notre-Dame). Here's a description from About.com, because I'm too lazy to think of a better one:

"This small island is like an oasis from the rush of the city. It's almost as if someone dropped a small French village into the center of Paris, as it features markets, bakeries, fromageries and cafés. While much of Paris has modernized over the years, the ile remains romantically frozen in the 17th century."

Charming, non?

And I'll be living there for the ENTIRE MONTH of January.

Me. In Paris! Staying here:

Pictures of my new apartment are larger than real life.

After spending the last few years reading book after book on the subject, it's difficult to believe I'll actually BE there. Tomorrow. I'll walk where my characters walk, eat what they eat, see what they see.

I'm choking up — in this very public airport — just thinking about it.

My sister has graciously offered to accompany me the first week. This is because I am, in short, a Giant Weenie. And my sister is brave. So when I'm too terrified to leave the apartment in fear of offending someone with my heinous American ways (even when I know better than to think that!), my sister will kick my butt out the door. And when I'm too scared to say something in fear of butchering their beautiful language, my sister can botch the words for me. Ha!*

[NOTE TO MY SISTER: You did agree to this, right? Right??]

The second week, I'll be solo. Which will be . . . good for me. And the third and fourth weeks, my husband will be there.



I'm going to Paris.

Weird, huh? I mean, it's not weird. It's perfectly natural. People go to Paris all the time. But . . . it still feels weird. France means something different to me. The only thing I can compare it to is if C.S. Lewis got to vacation in Narnia. Even though Paris is a real, tangible place — one I've even been to, albeit years ago — it doesn't feel that way anymore. I've created something there. I have inserted false memories into its monuments, restaurants, and parks.

And I'm about to see those places.


If all goes according to plan, I'll be blogging and tweeting my adventures. Expect tales of pastries, cemeteries, and Famous Stuff! I will try my best to be brave for you.** Please send happy, warm, fuzzy thoughts my way.***

And HAPPY NEW YEAR! Feel free to leave bogus resolutions in my comments.


* The handful of people who have already read
Anna will recognize something in this paragraph. Yeah. Those first few chapters? The similarities are most certainly intentional.

** Seriously, you guys. I am really nervous. Did you know they speak FRENCH in France? Did you know that I do NOT speak French?

*** I mean, it's awesome, right? The going to France thing? So why can't I breathe? Should I take another ride in the Psychedelic Party Tunnel? When is my sister getting here?? WHEN DOES SHE ARRIVE???


Thank You, Dear Readers

Thank you, Paris. Our relationship has been as unexpected as it has been extraordinary.

To those who are new to my blog: Thank you for taking the time to say hello, and thank you for taking the time to say hello again. I love seeing you here. I hope we'll get to know each other better in the coming months, and I hope you'll stick around for the figgy pudding.

To those who have been reading my blog for some time now: Thank you for your continued support, your enthusiastic well-wishes, and your delightful comments. I love being a part of your life, even if it is this strange, tiny one. Next year will be big for me. I hope I'll make you proud.


Twitter Linkage + Writing Advice + A Gift from James McAvoy

A few weeks ago, I posted a video of Australian comedian Tim Minchin singing a Very Amusing song called, "If I Didn't Have You."

Last night, literary superhunk Neil Gaiman tweeted a link to this Minchin Christmas song:

I was surprised by how . . . beautiful it was.

Quite different from the majority of his work, though it still has a touch of sly humor. Here's another favorite, a poem called "Angry (Feet)," the sort of thing I'd normally expect from Minchin (R-rated language, for those who care). LOVE this one, as it's weird and creepy, and I am fond of weird and creepy:

Also on Twitter last night, editor Cheryl Klein linked to this fantastic post by novelist Jennifer Crusie about plot structure. If you're a writer, check it out! I liked it so much that I printed out a copy.

And to continue the randomness of this post — I am still not quite over the flu, so I'll blame it on that (but it's really just because I'm lazy) — here's a question from my friend Amber Nicole Brooks. Amber and I were in undergrad together, and she's a FABULOUS writer. She's also the first person I trusted to read my "professional" writing. [Which was really, really bad, you guys. So, a round of applause for Amber!]

Amber asked:

How do you stop yourself from re-reading, and re-reading stuff you've already written? (I mean stuff such as the prior chapters you've drafted for the book.) I like to do this, as some sort of punishment or procrastination.

Oh, man.



How to answer . . . how to answer . . .

Okay, the truth is this: I don't know. I honestly don't know. We're stepping into Achilles' heel territory here. I am pretty much one of the worst writers I know when it comes to re-reading work and not moving forward. I am a CHAMPION re-reader. WORLD-CLASS, A++ PROCRASTINATOR AND SELF-PUNISHER.

I loooooathe moving forward. Or, at least, I'm bad at it.

I enjoy tinkering. Tinker tinker tinker! I am an EXCELLENT tinker-er! If I could prettify and rewrite preexisting scenes all night long, I'd be a happy Stephanie. Unfortunately, scenes do not write themselves. And eventually it comes down to this:

Move forward or quit.

The only thing I hate more than moving forward? Quitting. So maybe you should post that above your desk: MOVE FORWARD OR QUIT! Unless you're prone to quitting things. Then it should read: MOVE FORWARD OR QUIT! Just so you know which option to pick.

Other ideas to try:

(A) A quick, ugly draft. Ask a friend to set a deadline for you. One that seems absolutely ridiculous. And then . . . power through it. Remind yourself again and again and again that beautiful writing comes LATER. It always comes later, because you don't know what you're writing about until you reach the end. You may think you know. But you don't. So it's best to let the early drafts be fast and ugly, because chances are high that you'll have to rewrite the entire thing anyway. Sorry.

(B) Bribe yourself. What do you want? Congratulations! Now you can't have it until you move forward. HA.

I find that a combination of (A) and (B) works best for me.

Anyone else have any advice to offer on this subject? My ears and blog comments are wide open!

Also . . . because I love him, and because several of you who read my blog also love him, and 'Tis the Season and all that, here's My Live-In Celebrity Boyfriend Chris Martin singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with
Conan O'Brien:

Oh, what the heck. I'm in a video-y mood. Here's another silly one, for Coldplay fans only. It was their 2006 Christmas message. The costumes make me so happy!

Oh. And Chris wants me to tell you that he's kicking Wee James McAvoy's butt in Clue right now. They've been very competitive with the board games this year.

And now he wants me to tell you — in case you ever find yourself playing Clue with him in the future — that he is always, always Professor Plum. And Wee James is Miss Scarlet.


Now he wants me to tell you Happy Christmas. So "Happy Christmas" from Chris Martin.

And now, of course, Wee James is shouting at me to tell you Happy Christmas too, but to make it in a LARGER PRINT than Chris's message. So:


He also wants me to include a picture of a pygmy goat. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it's Wee like him?

So there's your pygmy goat from James McAvoy.

And now I'm going to stop typing before Chris makes me post a picture of a juggling hamster or bicycle shaped like a pickle or something.


Takk, Kate!

Takk is Icelandic for "thanks." Takk to Sigur Rós, I know what takk means.

Fellow Tenner (2010 debut author) Kody Keplinger (who is EIGHTEEN, you guys — I do not even want to think about what I was [not] doing when I was eighteen) declared last Friday the first Agent Appreciation Day. What a wonderful thing to do!

I've had some intense on and off flu action, so I haven't had the brains to post until now. But. It's important to me that I do. Because there's no way that 95% of you reading this would be here if it weren't for Kate Schafer Testerman, aka Super Agent Daphne Unfeasible.

I love my agent.

LOVE. My agent.

For those of you not in the industry, or relatively new to the industry, who don't understand the full role an agent plays, allow me to explain:

Agents do everything writers do not want to do.

Like . . . tell editors how wonderful you are. Ask those editors if they've read your manuscript yet. Ask them again. Ask them again. Ask those editors for money. Ask those editors for MORE money. Negotiate the unintelligible, horrifyingly lengthy mess that is a publishing contract. Make sure you sign the correct lines. Make sure everything is mailed on time. Make sure that it's a DONE DEAL.

Then they make sure you're paid. They wrestle with taxes. And they make sure you're paid again, later, when it's time to be paid again. And if there's a problem with your publishing house or your editor, guess what? Your agent handles it! So you, the writer, will still look like the good guy.

Then the agent tries to sell your book AGAIN. Foreign markets. Film rights. Television. And they call all of those people you wouldn't want to call — and wouldn't know how to call or where to get their numbers — and they KEEP calling them.

And when you have a new book? They do all of this for you . . . yes! . . . again.

Then there's the other half of their job, the writer hand-holding. Agents have to be good at giving bad news. They have to give a LOT of bad news, and they have to make it sound like it's not *really* that bad. And they have to mean it! Good agents are always optimistic about your future. Agents are TEAM YOU. They want you to succeed, and they guide you (as gently or as forcefully as necessary) towards the goal.

I am lucky.

Because not only does Kate do all of this for me — and with incredible gusto, enthusiasm, and style — but she's also really, really cool. Like, the kind of person I'd want to hang out with anyway. (Which is why I wanted her so badly for an agent!)

Kate loves Joss Whedon. Shoes. The Glee soundtracks and The Princess Bride. She bowls, MMORPGs, and agrees that Chuck's wardrobe on Pushing Daisies is, like, the best ever. She writes a great blog and is a fantastic tweeter. Kate once said in an interview that, "I love novels that get me (in all honesty) hot, horny, and laughing. That’s the trifecta."

YES. YES!! Me too, Kate.

She understands Anna — and she understands Anna's boy — and has done everything to ensure my novel is treated right. And she got me my not-even-in-my-dreams editor. (I am STILL not sure how you pulled that one off, Kate! You are truly magic.)

I am honored to be working with her.

And . . . I'm honored to be a part of her amazing client list. Because that's the other thing about Kate. Not only is SHE amazing, but her writers are too. The kt literary family is made up of incredibly kind, funny, and supportive people. I had no idea that when I signed with her, I would make so many instant friends.

Takk, Kate. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

And I wish everyone else a continued Happy Chanukah! I wanted to share my favorite Chanukah song, Beck's "Little Drum Machine Boy," but this non-embeddable clip was the best I could find. The song gets cooler after the clip ends. Of course. (At least you can still find it on iTunes!)

I forgot how cutie pie and well-dressed he is.

The song is from the Midnite Vultures era, perhaps my favorite of his. For those of you unfamiliar with Beck's music, that means nothing, so I will say this: IZ FUNKY.


Five Things I Love: December Edition

(1) Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson's "Relator"

I'm digging this boppy little song, even though some of the lyrics are from The Beatles "All My Loving," and . . . is it on purpose? Not sure.

STILL. Cute and addictive!

(The comments on the video are not mine. Just so you know.)

(2) Ash in Fantastic Mr. Fox


(Marry me, Jason Schwartzman!!)

Ah hem.

If you haven't seen the delightful Fantastic Mr. Fox yet, please do so immediately. Wes Anderson's latest (Marry me, Wes Anderson!!) is the most fun I've had in a theater this year. It's not often one can say that every second of a film is charming.

But. Every second of this film is charming.

The voice acting is actually acting (unlike most celebrity animation work), the stop-motion is fascinating in a dollhouse-detailed kind of way, and the story . . . it's Roald Dahl! (Marry me, Roald Dahl!! Except don't, because despite your awesome talent and interesting life, you were not-so-nice to your wives.)

Also, it was kidlit nerd-thrilling to see the cover of my favorite edition at the beginning of the film. Because as much as I love Quentin Blake, THIS is the real cover:

(3) Twizzlers Sweet & Sour Filled Twists

Reminiscent of Gushers fruit snacks, these puppies are FAR SUPERIOR to original Twizzlers. In fact, I've heard that the original Twizzlers are so distressed by the deliciousness of Sweet & Sour Filled Twists, that they've gone into hiding (somewhere in China) and are contemplating retirement.

Perhaps they will become tap dancers.

Sweet & Sour Filled Twists are the perfect treats to sneak into the theater when you see Fantastic Mr. Fox! Or to mail to me for Christmas. Either one, really.

(4) John Keats

Oh, hello. I write ravishing letters that ache with lust and longing. What do you do?

I am so thankful for cinema. If it weren't for Bright Star, I would have NO IDEA that John Keats was sexy. And I'm not talking about Ben Whishaw, the actor who played him. I'm talking about Keats himself.

(Marry me, John Keats!! I have a tuberculosis vaccine with your name on it!)

My high school English classes convinced me — via dull teaching methods — that John Keats was boring, so I did myself a favor and skipped Romantic poetry in college.


Because John Keats? Ohmystars, you guys. SIZZLING HOT. I've been reading his love letters to Fanny Brawne every night this week and positively swooning myself to sleep. My favorite letter is two gorgeous pages of aching obsession that ends with this:

"I will imagine you Venus tonight and pray, pray, pray to your star like a heathen."

The book I've been reading is this one, which was put together (I'm pretty sure) just for the movie. And now I am obsessed.

(5) Naga

In my last post, I said that if anyone could tell me what THIS was, I'd mail them a present:

Several hilarious mermaid-y guesses were left in the comments, but I think Falen nailed it when she identified it as a Nagin (a female Naga):

"The Naga is a race of semi-divine snake people and the nagin are said to be strikingly beautiful, but with the power to transform into a cobra, or to a half-snake, half-human figure. I believe that in the Chinese cosmology it is the Naga which creates mankind."

I kinda love how there's no way for me to check this, but it sure sounds right. And I learned something new, which I always love. So congratulations, Falen! Please email me your address at steph AT stephanieperkins.com, and I'll send you a present.

I have no idea what it will be. It will surprise us BOTH.

Tra la la! What are you guys loving this month?