I had a “Thoughtful Thursday” guest post go up yesterday at Fantasy Literature on Weathering a Dearth of Ideas. They’re giving away print copies of Seraphina and Shadow Scale (US and Canada only), details in the intro paragraph. I don’t know how long you can enter, so get over there right away if you’re interested.
If so, there’s a Seraphina event you could go to:
The Spanish first edition has already sold out, apparently, so this is a celebration of the release of the second printing. It will also feature a very short video of me speaking Spanish (five sentences I wrote myself; my very kind translator helped iron out some grammar wrinkles). I am twenty years out of practice, so I was a little nervous, but I think it turned out pretty well, considering.
I wish I could be there for this! It sounds like fun.
Oh yes we do indeed.
Sometimes you gotta. Couldn’t be helped.
Yesterday I went and spoke at my good friend Susin Nielsen‘s class. I’ve done this before; I go in and she asks me a few questions and I tell the convoluted tale of my road to publication. It was nothing I’d usually be nervous about, but I must have been a little bit worried because I had an anxiety dream the night before.
It began as the most hackneyed of all anxiety dreams: the one where you suddenly realize you have to take the final exam but you haven’t been attending the class. Maybe you forgot. Maybe you hadn’t realized you were enrolled. Whatever the reason, it’s too late now, the final is here and you’re going to flunk it.
In this dream, however, I was able to go talk to the professor beforehand. Lo and behold, the professor was John Oliver! So I thought to myself (in the dream), “Y’know, I’m not completely ignorant of World History. I might be able to fake my way through this exam. And he’s a comedian, so if I write really funny answers, maybe he’ll overlook the lack of facts.”
Then I thought, cheekily, “After grades are in, I wonder if he’d go out with me?”
Alas, the dream ended there, so I never did get to find out whether Professor John Oliver would go out with undergrad me. It’s probably just as well. What really strikes me about the whole thing was that I walked into a classic anxiety dream and then turned it on its ear. I was going to boldly bluff my way through the dreaded exam and then, ye gods, the gall of me.
I sometimes feel like I move in circles. Here I go again, toward another book launch; Brian’s comment on yesterday’s post made me realize that I’m coming toward it from a different mental angle than before. Maybe the dream was about my Shadow Scale tour, and not about Susin’s class at all.
One of her students asked a relevant question, about how to avoid feeling discouraged when a story doesn’t turn out as beautifully on paper as it seemed in your head. I gave her my mother’s analogy, how writing is like portrait painting: you have to compose very generally at first, figure out the basic shapes and where everything goes. Then you add greater detail with each subsequent pass, and only at the very end do you add the finest details, like eyelashes. The key is to be patient, and to remember that you will be going over the whole thing again and again, making it better each time.
Circling back around. This time you see more clearly; this time you understand more about what you’re doing. It’s very Groundhog Day. We get chances to do better all the time.
And so here I am, also, working on the first draft of the next thing, trying to roll with it and not worry. It really is a question of being patient and trusting that it will work the way it has always worked, and even if it doesn’t, that I’m capable and can fake my way out in a pinch.
It’s still hard to be patient, though, even when you see the point.
I thought I was immune to this kind of excitement, but I opened the package and squealed like a little piggy:
So there it is, my friends. The hardcover. It comes out two weeks from tomorrow. Did you think the day would never come? Me, too, darlings. Me, too.
But there is more news, by golly! There is a party happening at Kidsbooks and you (yes, YOU!) are invited. March 10th, 7pm. Here are the relevant details.
I am also finding out a number of exciting things about the upcoming tour. March 13th I’ll be at the Provo Library in Provo, UT. March 14th I have a signing at Barnes & Noble in Orem, UT. The 16th I’m at Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA, and then it looks like the 17th I might be at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor. Toronto on the 20th! I will add these to the Appearances page soon, but I wanted to put them here first because more people see this page.
So exciting! So busy, ugh. More soon.
So this week I am enjoying the heck out of Spock’s Beard. My darling husband got their album Day for Night for Saturnalia, and I’ve been listening to it while doing all kinds of annoying chores. “Gibberish” is my favourite song so far:
It’s like YES and Kansas had a big goofy baby. In fact, there are a few sections, first at 0:26 and a couple more times after that, where they seem to be blatantly quoting Kansas (instrumentally) (I’ll go find the Kansas song, if you need me to, although it might be more than one, kind of mashed together, because I can’t immediately put my finger on it).
Anyway, enjoying it immensely. I’m not well acquainted with most latter-day prog rock, so it’s fun to hear and know that it’s still a thing. And here’s a question for the people: do you know of any female prog rock bands? The don’t have to be all-female; a vocalist would do, or a couple band members. I was just thinking about that this morning: I’ve know of more female cookie-monster-voiced death-metal singers than female prog rockers. I’m happy to believe this is my own ignorance, because I haven’t gone looking for them, but I’d really like to be corrected on this point!
… and it’s exactly one month until Shadow Scale comes out.