Monday, April 26, 2010

There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb

I wonder if anyone has ever written a paper about the wanton destruction of property and how it relates to the concepts of home and homelessness in the Buffyverse? Everytime I watch a "home" that I've grown fond of get torn up or chopped down or blown apart (for example -- spoilers! -- Buffy's living room; the library of Sunnydale High; Sunnydale itself; Angel's first L.A. office; various parts of Angel's hotel; Lorne's club over and over again), I think about it. It'd make an interesting paper. I'm not sure if there's such a thing as "home" in the Buffyverse.

And a more serious matter: I wonder if anyone has ever written a paper about how completely outlandish it is that Lindsey McDonald was voted number eight on the list of the Top 20 Sexiest Men in the Buffyverse. Eight? Seriously? I won't argue with Spike at #1 (even though I think of him as "generally fabulous" more than I think of him as sexy), and I can't be surprised that Angel came in second, even though he wouldn't have gotten my vote (I can deal with brooding, but brooding PLUS bonehead is too much, IMO), and of course Giles deserves to be high on the list, and Wesley is great, and I like Xander and Oz fine, but seriously, only eight? Lindsey is such a great character! And he can sing! And he knows how to wear those cowboy boots! And he has an evil hand!

So, all this is introduction to something you may have already noticed, which is that my blogging brain is full of cotton wool these days (....what is cotton wool, anyway? How can something be cotton and wool?). I haven't really had a chance to rest yet from my big trip; I'm buried under tasks (and under things I haven't fully unpacked yet); and I'm writing like crazy, which is good, but also exhausting. I have things I'd like to blog about (not all about the Buffyverse, either, I promise), but when faced with the choice between blog and novel, I need to choose novel. So, this is an official announcement that I'm taking a few weeks off from the blog.

My post title today is one of my favorite episode titles from Angel so far. (I've watched the first three seasons.) I need some time readjusting to my own home, settling, processing, cleaning, catching up, writing, resting. There really is no place like home, especially when you don't live above a Hellmouth, there are no portals into alternate dimensions under your couch cushions, and the only demons you're likely to encounter are the ones trying to convince you that the book you're writing sucks. Try somebody else, demon buddy. It won't work on me.

Happy spring to those of you in the northern hemisphere, happy fall to those in the southern, and to those who hang out around the middle -- stay cool. :o)

(And if you've got any demons visiting -- remember, they lie!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boring as Nails

There are times when I wander around feeling like I have way too many things I want to blog... and then, the more I think about it, the more I realize I'm wrong about that, because all those shiny topics basically break down like this:
  • 40% things that are too personal for blogging.
  • 40% things that would take up too much of my free time and sanity points (for example, a list of all the ways the Vatican blows my mind, seriously, WTF?).
  • 20% things that are boring as nails.
As you can see, I've chosen the boring as nails category for this post.

(Incidentally, not all nails are boring. For example, mine. Also, come to think of it, Spike's.)

(You see what we've been reduced to here on the blog?)

Truth: I don't have anything to blog today, this week, or possibly this eon. Except for these two little things I want to share:

1. Above is the cover of the Complex Chinese character edition of Graceling, published in Taiwan by Gaea Books and scheduled for May. Click to see it bigger (as I hope you did with Spike to better appreciate his nails). Like it? I do, very much. Gray Tan, my Chinese-speaking co-agent, was kind enough to translate the text for me. Basically, it says, "Some people are born with extraordinary gifts, as if they are graced by gods, and Katsa's Grace is to kill..."

2. Have you seen any of the photos of the volcanic eruption and things related? Stunning, and occasionally crazy. There's something creepy about deserted airport check-in desks, or the departure board at Charles de Gaulle showing just about every single flight canceled. My sympathies to everyone affected. Especially poor Iceland! Iceland deserves a break. And by that, I do NOT mean a broken economy or an enormous new crack opening up in its tectonic plates. (Just in case the gods are reading and decide to do some creative interpretation.)

That's the scintillating news for today. I'll blog again when I actually have something to say.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Home Is Where the Orchids Are

When I arrived at my sister's, secret codename: Cordelia's, house early last week, I very nearly kissed her on both cheeks.

When I arrived at my own door late last week and pulled out my keyring, for a moment I couldn't remember which key was the one that opened my door. I thought to myself, This is ridiculous, I've only been gone a month. Get with the program! --But I think it's more than the time away. It's having been to so many places, all so different from each other; it's learning how to say hello and please and thank you in so many languages; it's meeting and growing to like so many people; it's a series of extreme experiences.

I'm HOME. I managed to do a lot of writing while I was away. My orchids are thriving. My house is a bit dusty. My city is beautiful. My TiVo worked like a champ while I was gone but the three episodes of Chuck it recorded disappointed me. I need to do some food shopping. There were boxes of foreign editions waiting for me upon my return. I'm wearing my pjs. I'm eating European chocolate. I've signed up for my next trapeze class. I'm drowning in mail, email, voicemail, and other tasky items, but Bitterblue is my #1 priority. I have five weeks to write before I return to Europe (France this time). I miss my nieces. It's cold and rainy. I have so much processing to do that I may be a bit scattered for a while. For example, this paragraph.

Here's some randomness for a Sunday:

Two comics I saw recently and loved: an xkcd about one of my favorite language (mis)usages, and a Kate Beacon comic for Brontë readers. (H/t Amanda for the Brontë one!)

Do you know about the Guys Lit Wire book fair, which is growing the school libraries of Navajo and Apache teens in Cuba, New Mexico and Whiteriver, Arizona, respectively? If you're willing and able, please consider purchasing a book from either school's wish list. Follow the link for more information and instructions. The event runs through Wednesday the 24th (3 days from now).

That's all. I hope to return to my usual Monday/Thursday blogging schedule once things settle down.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Location: Florida

So, this is how it's done.

First, in one arm, you pick up the twin who's falling asleep in her bouncy chair. Then you crouch down and, in the other arm, pick up the twin who's being cranky on the floor. Then, babies crying, you shuffle over to the stereo on your knees and use your elbow to turn on the Cranberries. Then you sit down on the floor for a second and do some adjustments. Baby adjustments are difficult when you've got a baby in each arm and no free hands, but you saw your sister, secret codename: Cordelia, doing it yesterday, so you know it can be done. Finally, each baby in as comfortable a position as can be achieved while she's bawling and thrashing, you stand yourself up, go to the rocking chair, and sit. You rock, bounce a bit, and make shushing noises continuously for about ten minutes. The babies scream and kick. The moment one settles down and begins to fall asleep, the other yells, kicks her, and wakes her up. They take turns at this for a while, kicking each other and keeping each other awake. They're not doing it on purpose; it's not their fault; these are sweet-natured girls who are very, very tired but too little to understand how much better they'd feel if they'd just let themselves succumb to their sleepiness. The situation appears to be hopeless, but you've seen both Cordelia and secret codename: Joe do this before, so you know it's worth trying for at least a few more minutes. You attempt to shift them a little bit so that their kicks and punches don't reach each other. This is harder than you'd think with no free hands while rocking and jiggling and trying not to make any motions that will wake them up more than they already are awake.

Time passes. They begin to give in.

Suddenly they are asleep.

Now you have two warm, snuffling, sleeping nieces in your arms and nothing you need to do except for hold them, rock, look at them, and listen to the Cranberries. They have tear stains on their faces and their little eyelashes are clumped together. They are beautiful.

You are the world's happiest auntie.

That's how it's done.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

From Here You Can Almost See the Sea

The Italian cover of Fire, published by De Agostini. Click to enbiggen. The text means something along the lines of, "Her mystique is a gift as sharp as a blade." :D ------------>

My subject heading is a David Gray song (click here to listen) that popped into my head the instant I walked into my hotel room in Lisbon and saw the view of the river. (Lisbon is situated on the Atlantic, and on the Tagus River, which flows into the Atlantic, as per this map.)

I wasn't prepared for the beauty of this city. I've heard San Francisco compared to Sydney, but why have I never heard it compared to Lisbon? I can see the Sydney/San Francisco connection, which has to do both with attractiveness and with the progressive culture, but LISBON is a city of extreme hills and close knit buildings and colorful rowhouses like San Francisco's (though the buildings are older and more European in feel, naturally), not to mention a gorgeous reddish-gold bridge that made me blink when I saw it because it looked so much like the Golden Gate bridge. (You can see Lisbon's 25 de Abril Bridge, and read about its history, here.)

I'm not a travel writer and I don't have the touch for it -- or the time. I'll just say that careening through the cobbled streets of Lisbon today, up and around hills that require crazy and skilled driving, then walking on the handmade stone sidewalks, surrounded by buildings with pink and green and blue and yellow tile facades, trees and parks, views of the water from all the high places... I was stunned. So stunned that I'm giving Barcelona short shrift in this post, but I promise, it was beautiful, too. (The paella was also beautiful!)

Have I mentioned lately that book people are the world's best people?

On the train from Madrid to Barcelona yesterday morning, I saw teeny little towns built into steep hills -- beautiful old dust-colored buildings clinging to rock, the sort you enter at street level and then need to climb down three flight of stairs if you want to exit through the back door. The landscape reminded me of parts of California -- young, rocky hills that people who grew up in the old, gentle hills of the Appalachians (like I did) would call mountains.

This post feels all over the place, I'm trying to describe too many things too fast, but it'll have to do, because it's either this or nothing.

The Portuguese edition of Graceling should be released in late May.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Madrid Miscellany

¡Hola amigos!

Here's something I saw written on a wall inside a building today in Madrid:

I have sometimes dreamt that when the Day of Judgement dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards -- their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble -- the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without certain envy when he sees us coming with our books under our arms, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have love reading.”

-Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), from How Should One Read a Book?

Some random thoughts today...

When the weather outside is frightful, the weather is even more frightful at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

On the weekend in Paris, I ordered a crepe on the street with ham and cheese, and accidentally also ordered it with egg -- perhaps I tripped and cried out "Oeuf!" while I was ordering? Such are the perils of trying to communicate in a foreign land. That's all right, I like egg.

While standing in line at the Eiffel Tower, I started a great book, which I have since finished, called Finding Violet Park, by Jenny Valentine. I met Jenny in Amsterdam because we both have the same Dutch publisher, Moon. She's lovely and her book really is exceptional. Look into it, if you get a chance. Here's a favorite line, in which a girl is looking at a house: "I think I stared at every inch until it became as familiar and alive as someone's face, paintwork the pale colour of a leaf's back and shedding like skin, pipes and wires a network of veins, each window reflecting a different light, including me in the ground floor ones, looking in."

On this trip I've taken the city bus in Bologna, the city tram in Amsterdam, the high speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, and several city buses and metro lines in Paris. All get high marks in my book. I ♥ clean, comfortable, and effective public transportation. The Paris buses, in particular, were among the only city buses I've ever taken that did not make me even slightly worried about getting off at the wrong stop or getting lost. Such good signage and communication!

Correction to something I said the other day: In the Spanish version of Fire, Fire is indeed named Fuego, even though it's a masculine word. This pleases me.

The other day, Firefox was trying to get me to choose a "persona," that is, a cute little design to decorate my browser and make it look nifty. Some of the samples they showed me did, indeed, look cute, so I followed a link that asked if I wanted to see all 35,000 possible personas, which of course I didn't, because I have way better things to do with my life than browse through 35,000 personas deciding which one screams "me" so I can feel emotionally connected to my browser, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to look at the first few pages..... and then the first page loaded. Here's a screenshot, which you can click to see bigger.

Lovely, Firefox, lovely. Three mostly-naked women in just the first two lines? And this is only page 1 of 2,402? Where are the mostly-naked men? All I'm asking for is equal representation here. Suddenly I feel like Safari is a perfectly good browser after all.


That's the randutiae for today. Madrid is beautiful! Wednesday, to Barcelona, and Thursday, to Lisbon.

Friday, April 2, 2010

In Paris, Remembering Bologna

Is it possible that Bologna was only a week ago?

The following photos were taken by Federico Borella, who kindly gave me permission to display them on my blog. Thank you, Federico! (And click the pictures to enbiggen.)

The sword-fighting took place in a courtyard adjacent to the Piazza Maggiore in Bologna's center.

Sword-fighting experts showed off their stuff (and their snazzy Fire tunics).

Not only can they fight, they can teach! Federico (not the same Federico as the photographer) was awfully patient with me and my giggles. (And my bizarro foot placement? Doesn't it look like I should fall over?)

Next, the translator of my books, Claudia Resta, happened along.

We had a score to settle. Claudia keeps changing my character names because they sound like swear words in Italian. And I keep writing really long books that she has to translate! Everyone knows that the best solution to any disagreement is a duel.

Do you notice, in the following photo, that two people look highly competent and one person looks like if this were a serious duel, she would already be lying on the ground in a pool of blood?

Claudia won the duel, but I'm going to keep writing long books anyway. :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Paris Fo Shizzle

Fire cover for the French YA edition, published by Hachette Jeunesse (click to enbiggen) ----------->

Hi everyone! It's my third country in a week and my third language adjustment. Luckily, I never managed to learn much Dutch, so my Dutch is not interfering with my mangled attempts at French the way my Italian is. Do you think the cabdriver minded when I left him with an enthusiastic, "Merci, signore!"?

I am in Paris. You know all those things everyone always says about Paris? Turns out they're true. One thing I know for sure about Paris is that after I leave, I intend to come back. (I felt the same way about Amsterdam, btw. Though these are two very different cities. For starters, Paris is huge. But Amsterdam is just beautiful! The architecture -- the tall, skinny houses along the canals -- so pretty. I took a canal cruise with my lovely editor during a free moment; it was perfect.)

I have no book events in Paris. I'm here because I needed a place to park myself for Easter weekend, during which, understandably, none of my publishers wanted to schedule anything. While here, I have four tasks: (1) Rest. (2) Write. (3) See a few sights. (4) Get over this cold in time for my journey to Spain, where I will have book events.

That's the news from here. I hope to include some sword fighting photos in my next post.