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Viewing Blog: Sarah Prineas, Most Recent at Top
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Writer of fantasy novels and stories.
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26. Can you hear the whistle?

Okay, today I'm bringing this train into the station.

Some good words already this morning.

Not sure how many words left. The rest of the swordfighting scene (let's hope Conn doesn't actually cut his own arm off), and then the big confrontation with the bad guy, followed by the fall (literally) of said bad guy. Plus an earlier discovery and thievery scene to patch in, plus some more stitchwork between a couple of other scenes, plus a few of Rowan's journals to fill out.

It's do-able.

Update: Done with swordfighting scene. That was fun. Death to the shadowmen! Conn's on his way up the stairs of the sorcerer-king's tower. Showdown time.

Another update: And that's the showdown scene done. Phew. A little melodrama might have crept in, but I'll cut it out later with a hot knife.

Now a run with John and a sustaining bag of potato chips, and I'll start on the patches.

Update the third. Oh, it's raining, so the hell with the run. Just cracked 60K. On with the patches!

Not yet the last update. This is just completely nuts.

Not done yet. Almost.

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27. not dead yet

I'm just about to go make a big vodka tonic with lime, and man, do I ever need it!

Why, you ask? Marsha knows.

Because today we moved all our stuff out of the rental house and into our almost-remodeled house.

Yay! Before-during-after pictures coming soon, but not yet because we're not after yet.

We don't yet have a working shower upstairs (just one in the basement) because the tiling isn't done. The plumbing works. No kitchen sink, no kitchen countertop, no upstairs bathroom sink or countertop, half the staining and varnishing left to do, no doors on any of the bathrooms, the ductwork open for the cats to get into, patches of plastering left undone, dust everywhere despite the fact that I've dusted and shop-vacuumed, and swept...

And all this is going on while-and-at-the-same-time I am trying to finish Book Two for the Blue Heaven workshop, and the due date is tomorrow. I've written 5,000 words over the last week. About 5,000 left to wrap it up.

Bring on the vodka tonic!

And then I've got 2,000 words to write tonight.

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28. Various Book Neepery

This is all publication neep, not writing neep.

This morning I had a nice talk with my agent. I'd emailed to ask her about the option clause in my contract. HarperCollins has optioned a fourth book in the series, and I wanted to know what my...options...were. An option, it turns out, means that if I write a fourth book in the series, HC gets first look at it, and first offer. If I write another book, one not set in the Wellmet world, I am free to do that and my agent would shop it around, and HC would have to bid for it, if they wanted it. This is a very good thing, I'm told, because it puts us (me and my agent) in a better position when we're ready to sell a fourth book, whatever it turns out to be.

Other nice thing: This is a few weeks old, but my agent sent along the French marketing plan. When there's an auction, I've learned, part of the deal making is the advance, as you'd expect, but part of it is the marketing plan, which demonstrates the publisher's commitment to the book. The French publisher (Gallimard) is doing all kinds of cool things, including a website with games and a contest, and an actors' reading of two chapters for a cd, and point of sale stuff (bookstore displays), and a plan to sell a "pocket" version of the book in hypermarts (like convenience stores?), and 500 ARC's. My eyes bugged out when I read that in the email.

And one other nice thing: I've been asked to blurb a book! It sounds like a wonderful project, and I can't wait to read it.

And that is today's neep.

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29. A million words of crap

You’ve probably heard this writing truism: “you have to write a million words of crap...” before, I guess, “...writing something worth reading.” Or maybe “...writing something worth publishing.”

Really? Where does that come from, that bit of writing advice?

And what does it assume? That if you write for long enough, that eventually you will produce something publishable? That if you write a lot you will certainly improve?

What happens as you write that million words of crap? How does quantity of words help a writer to improve? How does thinking about your writing as crap help you to improve?

How long does it take to write a million words? Years?

Is this a gatekeeper saying? A way for ‘pro’ writers to dismiss people just starting out? “Well, you haven’t yet written your million words, so it must still be crap.” Or a way for newer writers to dismiss their own efforts? “Well, this can’t be any good, because I’ve only written 250,000 words so far.”

I haven’t yet written my million words, just so you know. How many words have you written, and what difference has it made?

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30. Why I love writing, #325

It's like...

It's like a snarly tangled knot and you have to pick at it, and pick at it, and then you find the right end and pull gently and wallah! A piece of string.

Yes, I've finally worked out the ending of Book Two. I wrote the very last scene on Friday, on my day off, and it is just right, and it sets up really nice tensions for the beginning of Book Three (the Book With Dragons In It, as it will henceforth be known). But I still had a plot snarl leading up to that last scene to deal with. How to get protags from one place to another, with the bad magic doing its bad thing, culminating in big climax scene? I knew what had to happen, I just didn't know how, exactly, it was going to play out.

Maybe the subconscious has been picking away at the knot. I've been worrying at it, anyway, since January, and hadn't been making much progress. I was writing around the tricky bits, leaving them tangled. Then, last night, a blinding flash, and the tangle unknotted itself, and the last 10K of the book is laid out there, ready to be written. Yessss!!! At this point, it's just a matter of filling in the blanks.

I can't wait to get home from work today to write. Can not wait.

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31. Flying the flag

The Unnamed One is now set up (*loves Mac and the firewire cable and the instant transfer*).

My precioussss.

I took it home to show, and the Unbeliever laughed at it. I showed the nifty widgets. "Freak feature," he said. I showed the sleek remote control. "Freak feature," he said. Beautiful clicky keyboard, magnetic plug thingy, matte black surface, little camera, hidden speakers.

All freak features.

He and Theo also had a long discussion about whether the Black Adder reference should have been The Black Mushroom or The Black Vegetable. And he calls me a freak!

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32. StealthName

My stealthy black MacBook has arrived! Alas, the firewire cable has not, which means I have to be patient and not even switch it on until I'm ready to transfer everything from Heart of Gold onto the new computer.

Lo, the stealthy black MacBook is a beautiful thing! But it is yet unnamed.

Me: "John, help me think of a name for my beautiful stealthy MacBook!"
John: "What about...the Black Mushroom."
Me: "No, what about the Black Adder?"
John: "I know, let's call it the Black Adder!"

[that was just for E!]

John also suggested "The Black Hole," for it will suck me in...

Theo suggested "Ninja," but I pointed out that a ninja is not a name.

The Maud suggested "Nazgul," but lo, though it is stealthy and black, it is not evil.


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33. sallytuppence @ 2007-04-13T13:04:00

I know, this is two entries in one day, which is weird.

Two questions.

One is that I have that cool Google analytics tag on my website, so it shows where people are coming from who visit www.sarah-prineas.com. Why does somebody from Reykjavik, Iceland keep looking at my site? And who do I know in East Haddam, Connecticut? Anyway, the analytics tool is fun.

Two! Some of y'all were hugely helpful when I was picking out my laptop, Heart of Gold, because I know basically nothing about computers. My lovely tax person is advising me to spend money on writing-related things, so I'm going to get a brand-new laptop! Yay! I love the Mac, so I'll probably get another one similar to the Heart of Gold, but lighter and with a brighter screen. Any recommendations, o ye Mac users? Anything I should definitely include in the order? Should I consider something other than the iBook? Jessie, I'm looking at you, as you've just added a new member to your family... Read the rest of this post

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34. Room of Your Own

So my house is being remodeled, and has been for the last month, and will be for the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile my family and I are living in a tiny rental house a few blocks away. Our house is Our House, and the rental is Baby James's House (because a baby named James used to live there).

At Our House, I write on my laptop, Heart of Gold, in a comfortable chair with footstool in the corner of my bedroom. While I'm writing, the door stays open, so the kids can come in and chat with me, or sit on the bed and read. If I'm at a point where I can't be interrupted, I close the door and tell them to go away until I'm ready to deal with them.

(maybe I'll do another blog entry at some point on parenting and writing...)

The bedroom is always neat and tidy, the bed made, no clutter. I have a little table next to the chair for my teacup, with a shelf for writing-related books; there is a cozy blanket in case I get cold. The cat often sits on my legs. It is quiet--no music, no TV in the background--except for the clickety-click of the computer keyboard.

Altogether, it's a very good Room of My Own, even though it's really just a Corner of My Own.

At Baby James's House, I have no Room. We're all living on top of each other, and nothing is in its proper place, I don't have my own corner, and my head is all out of whack.

Not good, obviously, as I'm supposed to have Book Two finished by May 6th for the Blue Heaven workshop. But I'm having a terrible time trying to find the headspace for writing when I don't have the physical space for writing.

What about you? Do you have a room of your own? What's it like? Is your writing headspace contingent on your physical writing space? And if you don't have a Room or a Corner or your favorite table at a coffeeshop, what do you do? How do you find the space to write?

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35. sallytuppence @ 2007-04-09T08:18:00

Theo, my sweet seven-year-old, is obsessed with pirates, ninjas, samurai--anything dangerous with a sword. So we're walking down the sidewalk yesterday, and he's sort-of sneaking along (while holding my hand).

Me: "Theo, what are you doing?"
Theo: "I'm walking like a ninja."
Me: "Ah, I see."
Theo: "Ninjas walk enjoyingly."

We have two cats, Sparkle and Feather. One is smart and the other is stupid; we call them The Smart One and The Stupid One. The Stupid One, you open the door for her and she goes over to the hinged side to get out. The Smart One wishes for opposable thumbs so she could open the door herself.

The mountain lion in a tree? Turns out it's a sculpture made out of knitted sweaters.

Why is it still winter? Why!?

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36. Friday!

On the way in to work this morning, I'm walking past the art building, and somebody put a stuffed mountain lion up on a tree branch right next to the path.

At least, I think it was stuffed...

The excitement of yesterday was that I printed out my book contract, signed four copies, and sent them back to the publisher. I was very happy to do this, but also felt a little trepidation, because it means I've committed myself to having books ready by certain dates, Or Else! My favorite part of the contract is the force majeure section, which stipulates that it's not the publisher's fault if the books don't come out on time because a meteor hits the moon, pushing it closer to the earth, resulting in floods and volcanoes.

I also sent pressies for my agent and editor, which I'd been holding off on doing until the contract was signed. That was fun. Chocolates and a cute round wooden box with a green crystal in it (which, if you've read the book, makes sense). I also learned that gifts like this can be written off, so I saved receipts.

This weekend's plans include piano lessons (Rachmaninov! Doom!), bulb planting, and lots of writing because the Book Two second draft is due to Blue Heaven soon.

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37. Virtual Lulu's!!

Your usual Sunday afternoon host, [info]jennreese, is on the road, so your virtual online coffeeshop writing and chat session is here this week. Usually Jenn and her writing group get together at a hip L.A. cafe called Lulu's Beehive, where they work on screenplays and other writing gigs, and drink coffee. The less hip version is at the House of Aromas here in Iowa City. I hope to be joined soon by [info]velourmane, [info]christophereast (go read his story in the April Lone Star Stories!), [info]diatryma, and possibly some others.

The deal is this: You're welcome to join us in the virtual coffeeshop. We write and chat. If you feel like it, do post your goals (!) for the afternoon. And your coffeeshop drink of choice.

My goal: to write 500 new novel words. Also to not get rained on when I walk home. My coffee: cafe au lait, one sugar.

Happy writing!!

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38. Random

This is one of those random catching-up-on-stuff posts.

We're under a tornado watch here. You may recall that last year, on April 13th, Iowa City was hit by a massive tornado that went right through the middle of town, about a half mile from our house. So we're a little anxious about the beginning of tornado season again...

I had a wonderful piano lesson this morning. The latest pieces are a Chopin waltz and a Rachmaninov prelude. You get to be my age, and you think you can't learn anything new. But I've made a breakthrough in piano during the last few months--I'm playing more expressively, I'm learning to relax more, and I feel like I understand the music on a deeper level. Very satisfying. Surely there's a lesson about writing in there...

The house remodeling continues. Dust, destruction and drywall, 'nuff said.

Book Two is due to my Blue Heaven colleagues in 38 days. Much work to do!

And in other writing related news, the usual host of Virtual Lulu's (online writing and chat group) is out of town, so I'll be hosting. Tomorrow, here, starting at 1:00 central time. Locals, that'll be at the House of Aromas.

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39. Setting Goals: A Machete Post

Way back in October 2006, my buddy [info]stephanieburgis wrote a blog post on goal setting.

Of course writers have goals. Every time we submit a story for publication, we do so in order to achieve a goal. Heck, every time we start a story we intend to finish it...

I'm an organic writer, which basically means I write stories and novels without much planning or outlining. They just "grow" until they have become what they are supposed to be. As such, I also approached my writing career organically; that is, I didn't set very many goals for myself, at least not long-term ones. Things would just happen when they were supposed to. So as I went along for the first few years, my goals looked like this:

Write a story and submit it to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Get a story published.
Get a story published in a pro magazine.
Get a story published in a pro print magazine.
Sell to the same magazine more than once.
Get an honorable mention in a Year's Best.

Pretty good goals, because they were attainable, and they made sense for a just-starting-out writer.

The next big goal to come up was this one:

Write and finish a novel.

Took me four years, but I did it. (That novel is now trunked; more about that in another post).

And then I did it again, and knew that the novel I'd written was good enough to sell. So my new, attainable goal became:

Get an agent

Which, serendipitously, I did. And then along came Steph's post. About not just setting goals, but setting big goals, five year plans--thinking about CAREER stuff. Dreaming, even. Well, this took me aback, because I'd always thought in attainable steps, and never dared to think beyond them. And with the new novel and the agent, it looked like maybe it was time to start thinking bigger. As Steph pointed out, "concepts shift from feeling like impossible ideals (which feel kind of safe, in a twisted way) to feeling scarily possible--which means they now have to be worked for instead of just daydreamed about..."

So I sent myself an email, listing a new kind of goal. Not attainable ones, but dreams:

(*takes a deep breath, because sharing them is scary, too*):

Sell Magic Thief and two sequels to a major publisher.
Write another book or two in that world and sell them
Go on a book tour (five year goal)
Do a reading at Prairie Lights and at the Iowa City Public Library
Be recognized as a writer in Iowa City.

Write a book NOT in the Wellmet world.
Be nominated for the Newbery Award (this way in the future).
Make the children's NYTimes bestseller list (holy crap, are you crazy!)

Dedicate a novel to [certain friends]
Make my parents and family proud of me.

Work halftime in order to have more time to write.

Continue to love to write.

Learn to deepen my characters, develop more plot complexity. Write a
third-person novel.

The parenthetical comments are part of the list. Looking at it laid out there like this is still weird and a little frightening.

I still have one big giant secret dream-goal which I'm not going to tell you about because I feel crazy for even considering it. If it ever comes to pass, I'll let you know.

So what about you? Do you set goals? What kinds? Do you feel weird about setting dream-goals? What happens when you achieve your goals? And what happens when you don't?

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40. How The Subrights Deals Come Down

I said this would be funny, and it's not, really, the deals just make me laugh.

Sometimes book deals are done for U.S. rights and then it's up to the agent to shop the book outside the U.S., which can involve contacting foreign rights agents here, or in other parts of the world. Complicated and work intensive for the agent. My deal with HarperCollins is for world rights, which means their subrights division does the shopping.

When we were first settling the deal, HarperCollins offered a U.S. rights only version, and a world rights version. After asking around a little and hearing about how "hungry" the Harper subrights division is, and talking to my agent, we decided to sign over world rights.

And boy, am I ever glad we did. First because the world rights advance was a lot bigger, but mostly because it meant we handed over the quest for foreign rights sales to the incredible Harper subrights division.

It seems to me that world rights are becoming more and more important in our globalized world. My editor at Harper talked about "synergy," which I take to mean that the book will do better here if it's doing well in other parts of the world.

The word synergy still makes me laugh, though.

So we did the first deal with Italy, a pre-empt sale to an editor at Fabbri who "fell in love with the book." It was an unexpectedly large deal, so my agent started to get excited and anticipated a "cascade effect," also known as a "feeding frenzy." She said that the subrights people would be on the phone immediately, talking to their contacts at publishers abroad, in order to generate buzz for the book.

Harper is all about generating buzz.

And that's apparently what happened. One deal has led to another, the buzz is building, the synergy is doing whatever synergy does...

The way it all appears on my end is this:

Me: No clue that any deals are in the works. Checking email. Find email from my agent.

Agent: See email below from Camilla [subrights goddess] for details of French deal.

Email from Camilla: Begins with excitement about deal, French publisher's love affair with the book (this is standard, I think). Also info about other publishers involved in auction (where applicable) and what they offered. Also info about the publisher itself (often described as "reputable.") Then details of French deal including advance, payout dates, royalties, royalty schedule, sometimes a bonus advance (if book does really well), publishing schedule (usually simultaneous with U.S. publication), some details about publicity/marketing campaigns, maybe a comment about the cover (art will change or art will be same as U.S. version), and sometimes a print run.

Agent: May we say yes to this deal?

Me: Indeed, yes.

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41. Neep the First

Well, okay. Sounds like writing neepery is on the menu. Some of this is surely going to be uninteresting, but what the heck.

So these are the writing-related things I'm working on this week, with comments. Note that few of them involve actual writing.

1) Sword & Sorceress. I'm tweaking a story before submitting to this anthology on Friday. Story has swords and swordfighting kickass babe and magic. I like it, but don't know if it's sellable.

2) First 50 for Blue Heaven. Again this year I'll be attending the Blue Heaven/Kelley's Island novel workshop. The partial is due to the rest of the attendees this weekend. Which I didn't realize until today (that'll larn me to read my emails more carefully). So lots of tweaking coming up. The first 50 is in pretty good shape already, but I'm absolutely certain that it's not quite right yet.

3) Locus. My agent prompted me to send the subrights deals to Locus for publication in the data file. Did that yesterday.

4) My editor emailed with this: Link to Publisher's Weekly article about "hot properties" at the Bologna book fair. Seeing my book listed with Jenna Bush's makes me want to fry my feet and eat them too. Though hearing that a UK deal is in the works is nice. Maybe I'll do another post about how these subrights deals come down. It's actually kind of funny.

5) The Cricket Problem. Lo these many moons ago, after finishing the first chapter of my novel, I sent it as a short story submission to Cricket magazine. They asked for another chunk of story to make a two-parter with its own arc. Which I wrote and sent in. Then they had all kinds of editorial upheaval. I queried (again) last week, was told the story is still under consideration (!!). I told 'em the book has sold. They said to ask editor if Harper would be okay with it published as story. Today HarperCollins editor says she will check with legal eagles to see if this okay. All very nice, fine. But jeez, I submitted the story in October 2005!

6) Contracts. That's right, I still haven't signed the contracts with HarperCollins. Agent says this week! I'm told this kind of wait is not unusual, but I'll be glad to have a signed contract in hand.

7) Taxes. Fortunately, I've found a very good tax preparer (who may wish to remain anonymous...). But along with the amazing windfall of selling the books comes a lot of complicated financial figuring-out, and financial stuff is so very much not my thing...

8) Best New Fantasy Romance. Printed out contract, signed it, sent it in to editor. Juno does pretty books, so I look forward to seeing this story ("Jane") in reprint.

And actual writing. Yes. It's only Wednesday, right? Plenty of time.

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42. To Neep or Not

So in the past two weeks I've gotten three emails plus two board comments suggesting that I blog more about the writing and publishing process.

As I said recently to my mentor, [info]melissa_writing, it's great to have somebody hacking a path through the jungle that is publishing, shouting directions over her shoulder. Up to now, this blog has been mostly a way to keep in touch with friends, but I'm thinking it might be fun to pick up the machete once and a while.

So what do you think? Do you want more writing/publishing neepery? What kinds of details do you want, exactly, about the writing and/or the publishing? You want me to tell the agent/publisher search story (a lot of those entries are friendslocked at the moment)? What sort of 'insider' information would you find helpful to know (not that I have much...)? What sort of writing-related posts would you find interesting?

Of course, I'll decide what I think is appropriate, but what do you think is appropriate to share, or not?

Heh. And if nobody comments, I'll just assume nobody's interested!

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43. sallytuppence @ 2007-03-20T08:01:00

What does my drawing say about me?

That I'm a sucky artist, that's what.

Spring break is over, alas. We had a lovely time in Florida, lazing on the beach, sailing, going for long walks, visiting the marine specimens lab (squid in a jar!), relaxing, eating scallops and things with butter and cream in them (the less said about the bad shrimp episode the better, however).

Now we're back. We visited our house. It's full of dust. The kitchen is stripped down to the studs, no ceiling, no floor (we can see the basement through the slats). Both bathrooms are the same. Several interior walls have been knocked down, and wow, does it ever seem light and open in there. We've moved into the rental house for the duration. Supposedly the house will be move-innable in three weeks. Hmmm.

In publishing news, the French auction concluded last week, a very nice deal with Gallimard. We also did a deal for Finnish, the publisher Tammi, who published Harry Potter in Finland. Sweet!

And I'm drinking a small cafe au lait, just to see what happens... Read the rest of this post

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44. Friday Night Roundup

Jeez, I haven't written a word all week, since virtual Lulu's. Been sick, that's part of it. At the mo', I have an earache and can't hear much. An earache! Good grief.

This will add a special challenge to tomorrow's fun. I'm playing in what my music school calls "Musical Achievement Week," which means instead of our lessons, Maud and I play in a recital. She's playing Bach and will play perfectly, I'm sure. All the piano faculty are there, like a panel, and they say only positive, reaffirming things, and after the recitalists play we get candy.

So last year, my kind and affirming comments from the piano faculty were: "Oh, we hadn't heard that piece before" (quite likely), and "Nice recoveries!" (argh!). Then I got a tootsie pop.

This year I'm playing a Chopin mazurka in A flat minor, the opus 59 #2. A few tricky spots, but I'm keen and I've practiced the hell out of this piece. In order to deal with the shaky-hands nervousness that overcomes me at these things (audience! panel of teachers! ack!), I have broken the piece down into small sections. At each section, I have a specific thing to remember--a tricky chord, a place to remain 'free and relaxed,' a big jump to nail, a little accent note. Hopefully all these little things will distract me from the big picture freakout and counting how many times I mess up.


In other news, I made lovely, colorful soup tonight. Eight beans, veggies, onion, whole cloves of garlic, chorizo cooked up in olive oil, broth, and I splashed in some red wine. A separate pot sans sausage for the vegetarian in the family. That with bread and red wine, and we're all set for dinner, nrrrrm.

So local Iowa Citians, are we on for real Lulu's this weekend?

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45. Quicker than a squirrel!

Did you realize that Tarzan of the Apes ends in Wisconsin? And that Tarzan doesn't get Jane at the end? He swings through the trees (in the forests of Wisconsin) to save Jane from a forest fire, but Jane's betrothed to John Clayton. He could reveal that he's Lord Greystoke and have Jane for his own, but he doesn't because he's the Noble Savage.

Or so I'm told. J just finished reading it to Theo. Who said, "Mom, can you get the next Tarzan book from the library?" After listening to J read about half the book, my answer was an emphatic NO!

Is it still February? I'm ready for it not to be February any more. Grey-grey-grey, cold-cold-cold. We got more snow this week and expect a little more today, and I still have an earache and sinus infection.

Hardly any writing this week; instead the kids and I have been watching Fruits Basket, which I thought was funny and cute.

Today The Maud and I (at her request) will attend a piano recital at the University. Our recital last week went well, and I have a new piece to learn, a Brahms waltz, and coming up (Steph, check it out!) a Haydn sonata.

In other news, John tells me his physics has kung fu. (Context: he was comparing his lab's results to another lab's work: "My kung-fu is better than his kung-fu.").

You see why I haven't been updating? It's all random!!

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46. A Thousand Words for Sleet

I'll get to the weather report in just a second...

First some good news this week from the amazing subrights division at HarperCollins. Foreign language rights sales for Magic Thief and its two sequels!

World Dutch rights, in a pre-empt, to Gottmer (Netherlands).

Danish language rights, in an auction (!), to Borgen (Denmark).

World Spanish rights, in a pre-empt, to Random House Mondadori (Spain, with divisions in Mexico plus South America).


Now the weather. Scary! We're under a winter storm warning, with an ice storm tonight and into tomorrow, accompanied by 40 mph wind gusts and, Sunday, 3-11 inches of snow. The plan for the weekend: stay home.

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47. Norton Award Ballot

The jury members for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and
Fantasy were impressed by the number of outstanding books published in 2006, far too
many to give all of them their proper due. We found that many of the books marketed to
young adult readers were not only appropriate for that age but also satisfying in every way
to us as old adult readers. We considered well over a hundred novels total, and even our
first short list contained almost twenty books. Although we eventually narrowed our
choice down to three books, in addition to the three excellent novels already on the ballot,
we want to point out that the Young Adult category of fiction is currently rich and varied,
and includes some of the best science fiction and fantasy books being published for any
age group.

The three novels we added to the ballot are:

DEVILISH - Maureen Johnson, Razorbill (Penguin Young Readers Group), 2006

THE KING OF ATTOLIA - Megan Whalen Turner, Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), 2006

LIFE AS WE KNEW IT - Susan Beth Pfeffer (Harcourt), 2006

The jury was charmed by Maureen Johnson's DEVILISH, a contemporary fantasy set in a
Catholic girls' school in Providence, Rhode Island, surely a place where weird and
supernatural things seem likely to happen. Jane, the narrator, is a smart girl who is not a
cliche. She has a sharp and compelling voice that is a pleasure to read from the very first
page. The pervading sense of weirdness sets up the escalating revelations of the fantastic
without ever losing the elements that keep the novel grounded. We also liked what the
novel has to say about the nature of evil, despite being so much fun to read.

THE KING OF ATTOLIA is the third book in Megan Whelan Turner's trilogy that began with
Newbery Award winning THE THIEF (1996) and continued with THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA
(2000). It's a riveting story full of twisty characterizations, action, romance, political
intrigue, and the meddling of the gods in human affairs. At the center of the books is Gen,
the Thief of Eddis, who is both an obnoxious boy and a brilliant political player in
countries that are gearing up for war against the Medes, who have imperial ambitions. Gen
is a wonderful character: he's irascible and conniving and smart, and he's completely
compelling. Turner shows exactly what can be done with YA fiction by trusting her
readers to be smart. This is a book that will reward rereading.

Susan Beth Pfeffer's LIFE AS WE KNEW IT is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel about
the effects of a meteor strike that drives the moon closer to earth's orbit with disastrous
effects for the climate. It stands out for us because it features a parent figure who isn't
absent, incompetent, or stupid. Equally significant, Miranda, the main character, isn't
someone with amazing special powers or even someone destined to save the world, but
just rather an everyday person who learns that she can survive a catastrophe. Along the
way she makes sacrifices she could never have imagined and grows in ways that resonate
far beyond the surface of the page.

Submitted on behalf of the 2006 jury for the Andre Norton Award:

Charles Coleman Finlay, co-chair
John G. Hemry, aka Jack Campbell, co-chair

Jury members:
Tracina Jackson-Adams
Sandra McDonald
Victoria McManus
Sarah Prineas
Guy Stewart

[posted quickly, before the power goes out again.]

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48. February was so long...

...that it lasted into March.

Grey, grey, grey, cold, cold, cold.

This is the time of year when I find myself listening to Dar:

And then the snow,
And then the snow came, we were always out shoveling,
And we'd drop to sleep exhausted,
Then we'd wake up, and its snowing...

Except that I haven't bothered to shovel the driveway, and it's covered with snow and crusted ice.

On The Plus Side!!! Spring break is next week, and we're going to Florida, a visit to my uncle and aunt's beach house at Shell Point. Last year I finished Magic Thief there, on the balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, and when I'd typed "The End" my uncle brought me a vodka tonic and we all celebrated.

I'm hoping to finish the as-yet-untitled Book Two there this year.

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49. Wow.

German auction for the books. Is done. Bertelsmann. Lead title, spring 2009. More than my U.S. advance.

It's a bit...





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50. Dooooooom

I feel like Theoden, up on the ramparts of Helm's Deep. What is it he says again? "And so it begins."

Our house remodeling project starts today. We're gutting the kitchen and both bathrooms, taking out a big closet in the middle of the downstairs and also a bunch of walls. Supposedly the "demo" team will be working today--I don't know what I'm going to come home to. Dust and destruction, I expect. Maybe a dead orc or two.

Theo keeps talking about how they're going to bring in a wrecking ball.

Our house is fairly small (1700 square feet) and it's fairly old (built in 1926). The current (as of 8:00 this morning) layout is small kitchen, big underused closets, small dining room, tiny bathrooms with big unused closets next to them. The space feels compartmentalized and inefficiently used. So we're just ripping it all out and putting it back together so it's more open, with smaller closets. Plus the kitchen and its ratty old linoleum and flimsy cupboards and scary 40-year-old stove desperately needed updating.

We're going to try to camp out upstairs this weekend, then we go on spring break, and when we get back we're moving into a tiny house down the street for 4-6 weeks, until the project is done.

I will post some before and during pictures soon.

Also doom: I have had no coffee for the past three days. Ow, the caffeine headache.

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