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I am afraid that clowns will take over the world and make it compulsory for everyone to dress like a clown and wear that hideous make up. Yes, I have coulrophobia. I know this will never happen. But WHAT IF IT DID?!
I’m afraid of accidentally punching my boxing instructor. Cause she for sure would sock me back and then I’d finally have that black eye I have never had. Oh, wait, that’s a real fear. Though I would kind of like a black eye.1
I’m afraid of being alone on a desert island with only Moby Dick to read. Or even worse the complete works of Henry Miller. *shudder*
I’m afraid that the next season of Bun Heads won’t be as good as the first. I know it has many flaws but I heart it. What if its next season is like the third season of Veronica Mars? Worst TV season EVER.
I’m afraid of Pants Too High. And every single guy I have ever been with has thought that it was the funniest thing in the world to stomp about the place with his trousers/tracky dacks/pants/slacks/pj bottoms/whatever-you-call-them-where-you-live pulled up way too high solely to torment me. Kind of like this:
As you can see it is an ABOMINATION. It is not funny, it is horrifying. No man should be allowed to do it ever, under any circumstances. It is the fashion crime that goes too far. Frankly, it should be illegal. It has to stop.
But the worst of my minor fears is this one:
I am afraid that as I get older my arse will fall off. Don’t laugh! I have seen this happen with many older people. Admittedly more men than women. They develop this weird baggy seat of their jeans thing where there’s air when there should be an arse. How does one go through life arse-less? Does it make sitting down really uncomfortable? It scares me.
Am I alone? Surely someone else out there fears their arse falling off? We’ve all seen those baggy old people jeans.
What? When I was little I thought black eyes were cool.
. . . I learn how to rewrite that whole manuscript.
. . . I get five/ten/fifteen/one hundred/etc rejection letters from real-life agents.
. . . I knuckle down and rewrite the book again. And again. And again. Etc.
. . . I get a request for the whole manuscript from a real-life agent.
. . . I get an agent.
. . . I get five rejections from publishers.
. . . I get ten rejections from publishers. (Would you believe twenty rejections? How about thirty? One hundred? One thousand? One million?)
. . . I start writing my second/third/fourth/fifth/etc book despite the fact that the first/second/third/fourth etc book hasn’t sold yet.
. . . I get an offer from a publisher.
. . . the deal is announced in Publishers Lunch.
. . . I get my first real editorial letter.
. . . I have my first hissy fit about my first editorial letter.
. . . I knuckle down and rewrite the book.
. . . I get my second real editorial letter.
. . . I have my second hissy fit about my second editorial letter.
. . . I knuckle down and rewrite the book. Again.
. . . (And repeat. Or not. Depending.)
. . . I get my first copyedit.
. . . I have my first hissy hit about my first copyedit. (Only robots speak without contractions! “Me and LJ” is how my character would say it NOT “LJ and I” because my character is not the FREAKING QUEEN OF FREAKING ENGLAND!)
. . . I get my first ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of my very own book with my name on the front and EVERYTHING. Oh my Elvis! It’s real, people. Book by me! *faints*
. . . I get my first page proofs and am overwhelmed by the urge to completely rewrite everything and make the book, you know, ACTUALLY GOOD!! (Also notice that I use the word “actually” way too much and that is BY NO MEANS the only word I use WAY TOO MUCH. Wonder if I have also overused CAPS and italics and exclamation marks!!! Consider getting publisher to cancel book. Actually.)
. . . I get my first good review.
. . . I get my first bad review.
. . . I get my first meh review.
. . . I am enraged by an eleven year old who enjoyed my book but wished it was as good as [redacted]‘s bestselling piece of [redacted] about [redacted].
. . . I get my first box full of my own finished actually TRULY REALLY book what I have written MYSELF!!!
. . . I open said book on a page with a typo of “actualy” and the CAPS and italics in the wrong places.
. . . I realise that it is the last book in the entire world I wish to read.
. . . I go to my local bookshop and there is my book in a real actual book shop.
. . . I get a query from my publisher wondering where my next book is.
. . . I miss a deadline.
. . . I miss two/three/four/five/etc deadlines.
. . . I get my first query from Hollywood which goes nowhere.
. . . I am sent on tour to promote my book.
. . . I bitch and moan about being sent on tour to promote my book.
. . . I am not sent on tour.
. . . I bitch and moan about not being sent on tour to promote my book.
. . . I get my very first fan letter. Someone read and enjoyed my book enough to write to me! Best. Day. Ever.
. . . the fan letters I get make me cry because they are so moving.
. . . the fan letters I get make me cry because they are so illiterate.
. . . I get more fan letters than I could ever possibly answer.
. . . I become a New York Times bestseller.
. . . I am disappointed when my next book only reaches no. 8 on the New York Times bestseller list.
. . . I am not a New York Times bestseller.
. . . I think about killing those entitled bastards who whinge about their books only getting to no. 8 on the New York Times bestseller list.
I am hard at work in the writing-sequel-to-Team-Human, researching-the-1930s word & image mines, which led to watching “The Truth About Youth” (1930). Man raises best friend’s son (known as the Imp) after best friend dies and encourages a match between the Imp and his housekeeper’s daughter (Loretta Young). But the Imp is in love with wicked exotic dancer, Myrna Loy, and Loretta Young is in love with the guardian. (Oh no! How can they resolve such a mess?) It’s not bad by early talkie standards. (I.e. it’s bad by any other standards.)
The problem with casting Myrna Loy as a dancer, is, um, well, you’ll see.
Just so you know I do love Myrna Loy. The Thin Man movies fill my heart with joy. But the following? To say that she can’t sing or dance is to be kind. I suffered through it now you should too.
Due to boring circumstances beyond my control, I will not be online much in February. Fortunately I’ve been able to line up a number of stellar guests to fill in for me. Most are writers, but I also thought it would be fun to get some publishing types to explain what it is they do, teach you some more about the industry, and answer your questions, as well as one or two bloggers.
Sarah Cross is the author of Dull Boy, a YA superhero novel. She blogs intermittently, posts random videos on tumblr, and is hiding in a unicorn-and-zombie-proof bunker until this whole mess is over.
You may be wondering where Justine is.
And I am sorry to tell you that something horrible has befallen her.
She’s been kidnapped by unicorns.
Yes: these vile creatures.
You may be familiar with the zombies vs. unicorns debate, and the forthcoming anthology that was inspired by that eternal struggle. If you take a look at the anthology’s cover, you’ll see that the zombies and unicorns are engaged in an epic battle for dominance. It’s a gorgeous panorama of rainbow-colored destruction: severed unicorn heads, zombies impaled on pearlescent-yet-deadly horns, and corpses floating in a sky blue stream.
But one element has been left out of this struggle–and that, my friends, is the human element.
Members of Team Unicorn pose with their deadly mascot.
Humans will not emerge from this battle unscathed. They have been forced to take sides. (Vote here … if you dare.) Either you’re Team Zombie, or you’re Team Unicorn; and Justine, unfortunately, as the founding member of Team Zombie, has been targeted by her enemies: those sparkly, bone-crushing, rainbow-mane-shaking, marshmallow-defecating, zombie-impaling unicorns. From what I understand (I’ve been sent several encoded messages, written with a crayon that was rubberbanded to their leader’s hoof), the unicorns intend to hold Justine prisoner until she betrays the zombies and swears allegiance to her sparkly captors. Since we KNOW that will never happen … I was hoping to drum up some support for her release here.
Please, if you believe in fairies … er, believe the unicorns should release Justine, leave a comment here pleading her case. Personally, I believe that zombies, humans, and unicorns can get along. But some people are so frightened for their lives (or so passionate about unicorn domination), that they’re doing their best to disguise themselves as unicorns.
In addition to my Melbourne Writers Festival events—first one is tomorrow with Scott and Isobelle Carmody *squee*—soon I’ll be off on my second US tour. Pretty, exciting, eh?
I just added a few events to the appearances page. So far I have events confirmed (or close to) for Phoenix, Nashville, Memphis, Austin, Seattle, Portland and New York City. I’m especially excited about those first three cities as I’ve never been to any of them before.
Also: Memphis = Gracelands = Justine hyperventilating. For those of who don’t know, yes, I am a daggy Elvis fan. Goes back to when I was very little.
There will be at least one or two more cities on my tour. I’ll let you know which ones as soon as I know. Here’s hoping it’s your city.
Just so you know, I don’t pick where I go. The wonderful publicists at Bloomsbury make those decisions and it largely depends on which book shops, libraries and schools want me to come to talk to them. It could be that I’m not going to your town because no one there asked my publisher to send me. So get mad at your local book shops, schools and libraries, not at me!1
What will I be doing on tour? Talking about Liar, how I came to write it, my thoughts on lying, and the many other things that shaped the book. I’m also happy to talk about my earlier books, especially How To Ditch Your Fairy which comes out in its brand new shiny paperback edition at the same time as Liar debuts in hardcover. In fact, I’ll talk about whatever you want me to talk about. Last year, at one school event all they did was ask me about food. Oh, and to tell them vomit stories. I live to answer your questions.
Here’s hoping I’ll get to meet some more of you over the next few days and months. It’s my favourite part of touring.
Kidding! Book shops, schools and libraries never do anything wrong.
Our study is being painted so we had to move the furniture out. This particular couch is a millions years old chesterfield that used to belong to my parents. I grew up with this couch. Curled up on it to read, tormented my sister on it, watched tellie from it, and apparently played jacks on it.
Here’s what fell out when we moved it:
I’d forgotten I ever played jacks. Now I’m remembering being a wee bit obsessed with the game. But a Marlon Brando in The Wild One badge? Really?
Update: The hair bobble was my sister’s. Sorry, Niki for forgetting to mention that.
Sydney winters are not particularly harsh. But in the spirit of doing things properly, we do what we can to make them seem colder. Hence the lack of heating to be found in so many Sydney homes.
Last night I was toasty warm in bed but my nose was ice cold and getting up to go to the loo was an ordeal. The temperature? 10C or 50F. Go ahead, laugh. But in a flat that’s got no heating and more importantly that’s been designed to stay cool, that’s cold. My nose turned red. It could have fallen off!
I could solve this problem by getting a gas heater but perversely I enjoy it. The days are warm, the nights are cold. That’s how winter should be.
Plus it means I get to wear my toasty warm uggies,1 fuzzy pjs and dressing gown.
INSIDE. People who wear uggs outside are barbarians.
Most politicians and journalists would rather spend time arguing about total trivialities than important stuff. No, I do not care about ute-gate. Not any of it. Could you please get back to governing and how about actually doing something about climate change?
In the Heights is every bit as wonderful and entertaining as people have been saying. Especially when seen with Robin Wasserman. Musicals make me so happy!
Never go anywhere with Maureen Johnson where cockroaches may show up. She told a story about dining with me and Scott and our good friend Alaya Johnson. The way she tells it is very operatic and entertaining but not exactly how I remember it. A cockroach landed on Scott’s shirt, I leaned forward to flick it off, and then something terrible must have happened because MJ started screaming. Alaya leapt up, me too, our hearts pounding, looking in the direction that MJ was pointed, while still screaming so loud my hearing is probably permanently damaged. There were no zombies shambling towards us. It took several seconds to realise that she had screamed down an entire restaurant over a cockroach. Mental note: no camping with MJ. EVER.
Sarah Rees Brennan and Diana Peterfreund do not know how not to spoil books and tellie and movies. I’m thinking of starting up a spoilerer re-education camp for them. Perhaps I will use MJ’s screams as part of the aversion therapy . . .
I’m in a ranty kind of mood. Here’s what made me ropeable today:
Hearing all about an explosive and insane blog post after it’s already been deleted.
People who spoil books for me. Especially when I’m only a few chapters from the end. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
Ditto for movies. Some of us haven’t seen the latest Star Trek movie yet.
Friends who tell me they have Top Sekrit news but won’t tell me what that Top Sekrit news is.
Not having any Top Sekrit news of my own.
Being told that my genius promotional plan for my next book, Liar, of telling lies all the time until it’s published would just annoy people. Even after I’ve explained that they would be funny and amusing lies.
There being no hot water when I have just gotten back from the gym and am covered in sweat.
Anything annoying you lately? Feel free to rant about it.
Annoyances shared are annoyances, um, well, shared, I guess . . .
On Tuesday we went to the Extreme Mammals exhibition. It was good. There were very big mammals and very small ones. I liked the ones with the really big eyes best. Weird. It was a good day except for when we walked through Central Park afterwards and my juice box exploded.
On Thursday we went to the school days pre-season New York Liberty game. That’s basketball in case you don’t know. It was good too. There were six thousand of us primary school and middle school and high school kids and some grown ups and we yelled A LOT. My favourite part was everyone dancing to Beyonce and when the cheerleaders fell down from being balanced in the air and when the Liberty won. We yelled EVEN MORE then. It was so loud my ears exploded.
Then we went to our dance lesson. The teacher was nice. She says I stick my elbows out and take too big steps but my knee bends and hand holds are good. There were lots of mirrors and we were sposed to look at ourselves in them. I was too embarrassed. We had to say slow-slow-quick-quick a lot. Scott had to learn to spin me. The music was bouncy. It was hot. We sweated. Afterwards my foot hurt exploded.
Today I am engaged in very sekrit business, which I cannot tell you about so don’t ask. That’s what “sekrit” means, people. Something so very very secret and important that if you even ask what it is there will be dire consequences.
I think the most important thing you can do today other than, you know, getting the workers’ revolution going is to buy a copy of Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett. It’s Maureen Johnson’s funniest book to date and is now appearing in the eminently affordable paperback edition.
A most appealing heroine: I hug Scarlett to my chest!
Romance gone wrong!
Romance gone right!
Romance gone in between!
New York City as you’ve never seen it before!
The shabby gentility of a crumbling hotel!
A crazy Broadway lady!
A unicycle-riding, prat-falling, seriously hot older brother, Spencer!1
I urge you all to go forth and buy it! If you’re broke and cannot afford it right now I urge you to encourage your library to buy a copy. Or bully your richer friends into buying one so you can borrow theirs. This tends to only work for books. I tried to get a richer friend of mine to buy a Vivienne Westwood ballgown in my size. She did not and now she isn’t my friend anymore. I’m not sure what went wrong . . .
Other things you could do on May Day:
If you’re sick you could lie in bed and shiver or sit on the couch coughing up a lung.
If you’re well why not prank call your enemies from a different enemies mobile phone?
Ever since I showed Maureen Johnson the US cover art for Liar she has taken to pushing her hair across her month and making her eyes go wide.
So I took a photo. A very bad photo. Then I thought it would be fun to make it look like the Liar cover and post it here claiming that my publisher had decided to change the cover. Sadly, I does not have photoshop on my computer so I gave it to Scott to do.
He ignored my instructions and invented the new Maureen Johnson book Weasel. Naughty Scott!
I laughed my arse off. Then I sent it to Maureen for permission to post. She said, “plz!” Then I posted, hoping you’d all enjoy the joke as much as we did.
My apologies to anyone who thought it was for real. Honestly we did not intend to trick anyone. Was solely for the giggles.
Oh noes! Another lying Maureen Johnson cover! She must be stopped!
And in late breaking news I have found the perfect way to stop her. Maureen Johnson has just publicly declared that if her next book: the paperback edition of Suite Scarlett (which comes out in cheap cheap paperback on 1 May 2009) hits the bestseller list she will GO TO TRAPEZE SCHOOL.
I encourage every single one of my readers to buy Suite Scarlett on 1 May. Even if you were thinking of buying one of my books. Don’t! Buy hers instead. I want her to suffer. I need her to suffer.
I don’t know if any of you have noticed but there are quite a few covers in YAland that look alike. Lately there have been so many covers with girl’s faces that I admit I’ve been a little concerned that the US cover of Liar will get lost. But people have been reassuring me that it’s different to the other girl face covers, that it will pop.
Then someone anonymously emailed me the image you see below. Apparently it’s the cover of a forthcoming Maureen Johnson book.
Am I being oversensitive in thinking it looks more than a bit like the US Liar?
You can be honest with me. Do you see any similarities between this:
What do you think?
Are they the same? Could it have been done on purpose? Or maybe the two designers just happened to use the same stock photo?
Some of my writer friends are going barking mad waiting for their books to come out. Especially the newbies. I have decided the only solution is for the world’s mad scientists to drop whatever they’re working on1 and instead invent a brain patch that stops the thinking-bout-next-book-coming-out part of the brain.
Could you do it now-ish, please? Some of my friends are OUT OF CONTROL.
I, of course, am completely sane and rational as I wait for Liar to come out.
Turning us all into twitttering pod people, taking over the world’s supply of mangosteens, turning the lakes of Canada purple etc. etc.
Firstly, the polls: I thought you all should know that the result of the poll was that Nevada is our chosen smoking state of the US of A. Closely followed by Wyoming. Hope you’re happy, Mr Williams!
The new poll is on fashion atrocities. I’m a bit cross that no one has voted for espadrilles yet. Oh, how I HATE them! Soles of shoes are not supposed to be made of rope! It’s UGLY, people! Are you all blind?! (Poll is to your right.)
But posting daily on my struggles or successes in the writing coal mine? Nah. Too close to the bone. I feel like I’ll come across as a massive whinger (Oh my Elvis writing this book is killing me! Why are leopard ballet sequence so bloody difficult?! What was I thinking?! I’m a hack! A talentless hack!!) or the most conceited self-satisfied writer in the universe (Wow, I am a genius! I am the Lord Barham of writing! Look at these pearls of unspeakable genius that I crafted today! How could perfection such as the crystalline words that coruscate from my fingers exist in this oh so imperfect world?! It astonishes me!). So I confine such thoughts to myself.
Oh, hang on—wooops!
Look over there: Leopards dancing! Flying giant woolly squirrels playing badminton with quokkas!
I had an argument with a friend recently, you know, cause I’m an argumentative kind of a gal, about whether he’s an extrovert or not. He’s an extremely social, bubbly, chatty guy. He denied that he is an extrovert on the grounds that he’d be just as happy to stay at home, that he likes being on his own and therefore is fairly introverted.
I called rubbish and said that he is, in fact, a lazy extrovert.
Just like me. I loves hanging out and chatting with the peoples. I also love being at home in my pjs, reading and hanging out and not going nowhere. Because I am lazy and when I’m home I just want to stay there. Getting up, and actually going somewhere is an effort, even though almost always when I go out I has a most excellent time. Like tonight when I saw the New York Liberty crush the all-star lineup of the Seattle Storm. Women’s basketball is fun! People are fun!
Now I am home. I could happily stay here forever. And not just because I has a book to finish. So, I’m extroverted. It’s just that I’m really lazy about it.
Some of the folks on the not-driving thread seem to think that driving a car is an essential skill come the apocalypse. I think they are wrong. Even if the apocalypse isn’t caused by a petrol-eating bacteria, the days of oil-fuled cars are numbered. And once civilization breaks down there will be no more drilling for the little oil that’s left. Cars will only be useful to sleep in or to scavenge for spare parts to make something that’s actually useful.
I reckon genuine survival skills include:
Being fit and strong
Knowing first aid and/or being a doctor
Knowing how to find food (i.e. knowing what’s edible) and water in even the least promising circumstances
Being good at making and fixing stuff
I’m also unconvinced about the usefulness of guns. For starters they’re really really really LOUD. If things turn heap big awful bad, keeping a low profile to prevent the marauding nasties from finding you will be a high priority. One shotgun blast and that’s your low profile gone. It’s much more useful to know a martial art. It keeps you fit and teaches you how to look after yourself. It’d also be useful to know how to use quiet weapons like knives, or bow and arrow or, best of all, the mighty crossbow. Similar range to many guns but much much quieter.
By my own critieria, I’m pretty much buggered. All I got is that I’m reasonably strong and fit, but I fail on everything else even if my surname does mean “crossbower.” Unless there’s a big demand for storytellers, someone with a lot of Elvis trivia, and the ability to roll their tongue.
How about youse mob?
Update: I has added related poll. Look to right hand sidebar. Top of page.
I have a mountain of work, admin, packing, and correspondence to catch up on, but instead I am reading through my new favourite blog, Cake Wrecks, which I discovered via an old favourite blog, Jenny Davidson’s Light Reading. I’m sure all of you have been enjoying it for years. What can I say? I am slow.
So far it has led me to many pleasures but few top the delight of the world’s worst Dalek cakes. I confess that I laughed so hard I cried.
Then it led me to this. The making of the most incredible cake I have ever seen:
Apparently it took twelve days to make. Wow. Just wow.
I hate to be the one to say it, but my dear friend, John Scalzi, is telling lies. He claims that authors aren’t machines.
So, not true. We’re all robots. Every single one of us.
Especially Maureen. She is one of the screaming author models.
Scalzi, himself, is one of the lazy author models. I know this because I am too. Once or twice we’ve gotten through cons by swapping out parts. (There’s not always time to get a tune up in the middle of a busy con.) It’s one of the bonuses of hanging out with same prototype robots.