Monday, December 31, 2012

Grumpy Post

Our TREE. My Mom is one of those snazzy people who decorates her tree differently every year. Note all the dead reindeer and people hanging in the branches. Snazzeh.

So. Guess from whence shiny halls I was just released. . .

"Jail."

No.

"Lunatic asylum."

Nope.

"Rehab?"

NO, gah, the hospital.

Now surely you're like, "You were at the HOSPITAL? Were you sick? Did you die? Is that why you've been conspicuously absent from social media these past few weeks? Is that why you haven't been answering my texts, and why you cancelled that interview, and why you're behind in revisions, and why you twitter-snubbed me last Wednesday, and why you didn't come eat holiday-inspired cupcakes with us even though you PROMISED to eat holiday-inspired cupcakes with us?"

Yeah, that would probably be why. And I know, it's lame. It's so lame it makes me mad. Usually when I get behind in things, or find myself unable to do the things I know I need to be doing I'll just be all, "STOP BEING A LAZY DAISY, STEFAN" *cracks whip*

But this time when I tried it, it just went like. . .

*dramatic faint*
So yeah. I had a ton of stuff going on. I got sick. They shipped me off to Hospital. I lay in a state of delirium for several days and listened to the jabberings of the other invalids (Ohhh, those invalids. They are going to be put into books. Poor, unsuspecting invalids.)

ANYWAY.

I don't like being sick. I don't particularly like hospitals. I don't like having tubes stuck into my arms. Like seriously, how gross is that. IVs are disgusting. And I'm not sure I like doctors either.

Doctor: *shakes Stefan's hand*
Stefan: "I have the PLAGUE. I'm pretty sure it's the bubonic kind. You'll probably die now, too."
Doctor: *ignores Stefan*
Stefan:  "Or it might be faeries. Whadaya gonna do if it's faeries, huh?"
Doctor: ??

So narrow-minded.

I also got an ultrasound. From the pictures I'm guessing my child will weigh 242,000 tonnes and will feature a general store and a saloon and approximately 700 cacti.

Hahahaha.

You probably didn't think that was funny, but I did, so there. And just FYI, they do ultrasounds for other things than babies. Ya know, things like THE PLAGUE.

I also grew a beard out of sheer laziness. It's pretty impressive. Oh wait, no it's not. It looks my face is moldy.

...

Well, that was cheery! :D Seriously, though, happy New Years to you, and I hope you had an awesome Christmas, and yeah. *shuffles back to bed*

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book 2 Title Reveal! And Other Things!

This is just a very quick round-up post about things I've mostly already talked about on Twitter, but I'm going to be all cross-post-y and put them up here as well.


Oh, why, thank you. So:

- I have a signing in Switzerland. My very first one here. It's on December 9th at the Orrel Füssli English Bookshop, Zürich Bahnhofstrasse, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM. If you could come it would be smashing. :)

- The Peculiar was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of Year. This makes me happy.

- A nice kid contacted me and asked if she could set up a Facebook page for the book, and of course I was like YEAH, so here it is, and currently five people like it which obviously makes me feel like a huge success. If you liked it, you could make it Facebook offical.

- I've already given this away in various overseas interviews but The Peculiar 's sequel has a TITLE, you guys! It issss. . .  



Do you like it? Do you hate it? Do you not care particularly? Let me know, because it took us forever to come up with it and I'm dying to hear what you think. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TOUR RE-CAP - Best School Ever


Hi, peoplessss. I'm still not really back on a normal blogging schedule, but I think the interviews are mostly done and Book 2 is slowly getting to the place where it needs to be, so I really-really need to post this before I put it off again.

While on tour, I got to visit a school outside of Chicago, annnnd. . . it was pretty incredible. The kids decorated the school with Peculiar-related things, and made Peculiar-related food, and dressed up in Peculiar-related costumes, and my mind = basically blown. I kept telling the kids this, but I don't think they believed me. It's like they didn't even realize how awesome they were, and I was just like, "AHHH, THIS IS SO AMAZING."

I stupidly didn't get pictures of even half the things they did, or of the posters they made, or of the life-size doorways they taped onto the walls, which makes me sad now, but here are the pictures I do have:

Black feathers sprinkled around our parking lot.
Why, yes, they *did* make a giant replica of the book's cover and on the floor of the entrance hall. The ring of mushrooms is from the book, too. Very important. And I stepped on them by accident. I SORRY.
Part of the breakfast they made for us. The green drink is from the coffeehouse in Trafalger Sqaure, the stuff that Mr Jelliby ends up pouring into the gutter. And the lemon tarts are from Mr. Lickerish's creepy tea gathering. All of it was yummy, though, in contrast to the their literary counterparts.
A faery house. With a ribbon and spoon and crumbs inside, as is necessary for luring an industrious faery servants.
The menu. :)
The welcome committee! You guys were way too cool.
This is blurry, but the point is all the green in the background. SEE? They decorated the school library to look like the green library from Nonsuch House.
I love how the spines read things like "Dark Magic for Dummies" and "Kung Fu for Faeries" and then "PANDAS". I mean, what faery library would be complete without a book about pandas?
Clockwork bird.


The Lady in Plum! This girl was awesome. Also, she had one of the best questions from the entire tour.
Steampunk Victorian kids!
LOOK AT THE COSTUMESSSS. And the branches on that one girl's head.
So there it is! Best school ever. I feel reallyreallyreally-really lucky to have been able to visit it.

I don't know if any of these people read my blog, but if you do, thank you again, so much. :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ohhh. . .

OHHH. *distress*

You guys, I'm super sorry about not keeping up with blogging. I am. But see, I'm a very slow blogger and typing up a post can take me hours, and now that some European media thangs have heard of my book and apparently find it interesting, all the hours I used to spend blogging are going to giving newspaper interviews and radio interviews and wondering about things and talking to people I don't know on phones and I'm also revising Book 2 and I have classes and practice and rehearsals and I basically walk around like this all day now:


Minus the wig. I think. . .

So yeah! In consolation for lack of any meaningful output, we wrote you a poem. My friends and I. And we decided I should post it.

It's kind of masterpiece. I hope you're ready for this.

Hem-hem:

We think you're super clever
We think you're super cute.
We'd like you even better
If you had a mute. . .

Button.

Haha. Wait, huh? Not you, specifically. Fine, that was lame. Let's try another:

I shot my loved one
Through the heart
With a glittery plastic
Cupid's dart.
And then I realized
With a start
That it was not
A Cupid's dart

It was a harpoon.

:O


Aren't we talented? And not at all morbid? We thought so, too.


(Seriously, though, I'll be back to regular updates soon. I hope.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

TOUR RE-CAP - The Publishing People

I actually need to start this next tour re-cap with the authors I forgot to mention in my last post. (Ahhh! Stefan, how could you.)

I know. So:

Cynthia Leitich Smith, Lynne Kelly, Augusta Scattergood (I think we should take a moment to admire that name, don't you?), W.H. Beck, and the hilarious Amy Ignatow.

I do not have pictures with any of these people. *slaps self*

BUT! I have pictures with two other cool people who drove five hours in a bus for this newby author's book signing and then let me drag them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to admire Vermeer and suits of armor. They also gave my brother and me cookies. They are both writers, and their books sound fantastic so I suspect they will both be authors soon, too.

Caitlin R. O'Connell and Sarah Singer - Here's us looking picaresque in Central Park:


Now. Publishing People I met:

Sara Megibow and Kassie Evashevski - I met my agent! In the for realz. She's fantastic. Also, my film agent Kassie Evashevski flew all the way from LA to New York City just to have dinner with us. Needless to say, she's very glamorous. And super nice.

Sara, meee, and Kassie, in NYC.
Virginia Duncan - Editor of the stars (other people, not me. THESE people.) But seriously, she's kind of a big deal. She flew down to Texas to help me with the Houston leg of the tour, and she had fans, like, pouncing on her. Not even kidding. Also, she has a corner-office in the HarperCollins skyscraper and a box-full of covers that the world is not allowed to see yet, and we discussed Book 2 edits and I got to see Book 2's cover, which is so cool I can't wait to show it to you.

In FACT, I got to meet all the people at Greenwillow. That would be Sylvie, Lois, Martha, Tim, Paul, Virginia, and Tu Anh. And since for some reason I didn't take a single picture inside the Greenwillow offices, I'm going to cheat and post a picture they sent me back in August, right after the first finished copies of The Peculiar came in:

Greenwillow! I may be biased, but they're the best publisher.
While I was in NYC I also went to the famed Books of Wonder. I got to meet the owner, Peter Glassman, and the rest of the staff, and they were all great, but a special shout-out must go to Jay, who is a bookseller there and likes my book, so he has the distinction of being awesome.

At Books of Wonderrr. With my publicist, Casey McIntyre, who is an organizational mastah.
A whole bunch of nice Publishing People came to the Books of Wonder signing: agents Sarah LaPolla, Brooks Sherman, and Macmillan editors Vicki Lame and S. Jae-Jones. I don't know who bribed them to come, but they were all so nice and I was awfully flattered they did. Here they be:

From right to left: S. Jae-Jones, Julie Ann Grasso, Me, Brooks Sherman, Vicki Lame, Caitlin O' Connel, Sarah LaPolla
Julie Ann Grasso is not technically in publishing as far as I know, but she designed the ehmehhhzing t-shirts you see up there and down here, so it doesn't matter. Look:


Note the clockwork bird on the branch. And the feather on the ground. If you want it, you can buy it here. (And don't worry, I don't make any money off of it. But Julie does and I think she should, because the shirts are cool, not to mention that slogan is like THE MEANING OF LIFE.)

Anyway. . .

I met a bajillion people at HarperCollins. Alas, I only remember a few. There was a sales rep named Heather Doss, and a guy who knows all about websites and helped me with mine, named Alex Garber, and someone named Aubrey and someone named Margot and somone named Robin, and Sandee Roston and Patty Rosati, but that's all I REMEMBERRR. :( They were great, though, every one of 'em.

The evening of Comic-Con, Virginia and Martha of Greenwillow took Rae Carson and me to dinner with Rita Meade, librarian and funny blogger, and Monica Edinger, who reviewed my book for the New York Times. They were both very cool, and I wish I had been more awake for that dinner, because they were such interesting people and I was just like *props eyelids open with forks*.

I ALSO MET TARYN ALBRIGHT. SEE, TARYN? HERE YOU ARE. She's an editor-to-be, and a publishing intern, and a writer, and my beta-reader, and she's so witty in real life that I was a little bit startled. I spent most of that afternoon laughing at everything she said, and the rest of the time obsessing over books. Also, we had ice cream.

I met HarperCollins sales rep Jenny Sheridan and hung out with her and our media escort Ron Murphy. Both great people. They took me to downtown Chicago for deep-dish pizza and I got the inside scoop on sales-repping and author escorting. And since I had no idea what either of these jobs were before getting published, I thought I might elucidate:

A sales rep. . . represents a publisher and pitches their books to chains/indies/online retailers in the hopes that the chains/indies/online retailers will stock them. Because if the chains/indies/online retailers don't stock them nobody will buy them. And then you starve.

A media escort. . . owns a car, which is practical because I don't, and even if I did I wouldn't know what to do with it. Media escorts take you to your events, keep you from forgetting your laptop at school libraries, and if they're as cool as mine was, will talk to you about books and music and politics and food and it'll be great because chances are you don't anyone in the city you're in and would be very bored otherwise. I gave Ron a signed copy of The Peculiar on our last day. I hope he likes it.

CLINCHER: apparently everyone in publishing is nice. Yep. More people should be Book People, I think. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TOUR RE-CAP - The Authors (in which I meet famous people)

Look at all the boooooks. I may have hugged the glass a little bit.
I thought I'd divide these re-caps up into the people I met, because tour is basically MADE UP of meeting people. And eating. But mostly meeting people. While eating.

Some of those people were authors.

Before this month I had only met one author in real life, and that was Marie Lu of Legend fame, and that was because we have the same agency and we were both at Bologna for the book fair. But then I came to New York, and aahhh, authors everywhere! *flails*

I didn't get pictures with all of them. In fact, I didn't get many pictures at all. But I'll post the ones I have. :)

So. Authors met:
  
Sir Terry Pratchett - I KNOW, WHAT?? And I got a copy of Dodger, and he has a copy of The Peculiar, and it's all a bit exciting.

See how I'm wearing an author button? See how Terry Pratchett has no NEED for author buttons? Igsakly.

Why, what a clever thing to write, Stefan. How interesting and unique. -.- Also, that "to" looks like a "b".
Tahereh Mafi - Ok, we didn't exactly meet. We were in the same elevator and I told her that a ton of people at my school had read Shatter Me (which, incidentally, is the truth) and she said something like, "Ehmmmm, great!" and that was that. But still. Author.

Claire Legrand - I've been dying to read The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls for a while now, and finally I found it and bought it and read it aloud to my brother while we were road-tripping, and it became my New Favorite Thing. It's creepy and funny and I love it, and so when I heard the author was going to be at the same event as me in Houston, I was EXCITED. She's just as cool in real life as she is online. You must-without-fail read her book.


Rae Carson - We have the same publisher (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, woooooo!) and so we were at the same places on the same days for some of the same things, and she was very cool, and a way bigger help than she probably even knows. There were days on tour where I would wake up and be like, "I can't dooooo this. I can't meet any more people, and I'm done perma-smiling, and I want to go home and, like, spray-paint a wall or something." And one of those days happened to be my first day in NYC and I was set to meet fifty bajillion HarperCollins peeps and do an impromptu video stream and meet my genius editor for the first time, and I was just like *curls up in ball and spazzes*

But of course I did the things anyway and it helped just to watch what Rae did and emulate, because she's definitely pro.

(Also, it should be noted that perma-smiling is pretty easy, because I'm convinced everyone within ten feet of childrens' publishing is nice. Seriously, no mean people on this trip. At all.)

This is the only photo I could find with both Rae and me in it. It shows us waiting for our signing to begin at NewYork Comic-Con.
Lynne Rae Perkins - Another Greenwillow author. She came to one of my signings in northern Michigan. My genius editor is also her genius editor, and Lynne is a Newbery Winner, and an artist, and supah nice.

I already tweeted the happy, official looking picture, so for embarrassment purposes, here's one where I'm looking inexplicably disgusted and bear-bellied.

Our Socks-of-Awesome.
Megan Whalen Turner - ANOTHER Greenwillow author, also edited by my editor, and also a Newbery winner. And supah nice. She came to our hotel in Cleveland and drank tea with us. We have the same spectacles.

SAME.
Matt Myklusch, Gordon Korman, Nils Johson-Shelton, Chris Krovatin - I was on a panel/signing at Books of Wonder in NYC with these authors, but I have no real pictures of us! Except this one where we are looking serious and signing stock after the event:

Peter V. Brett, Sarah Beth Durst, Peter Lerangis, Matt Bein and Joanne Bertin - These were the other authors with me on the NYC Comic-Con panel. Comic-Con, by the way, will possibly get a whole post to itself in order to ruminate on the Crazy. There was a lot of Crazy.

With HarperCollins author Peter Lerangis, who was cool and wore a toga for the entire day. If I ever go back to Comic-Con I'm dressing UP. If you have brilliant ideas tell me in the comments. ;)
The wholllle panel at NYC Comic-Con. Also, my agent Sara Megibow's head.
Geoff Rodkey, Heather Brewer, Shannon Messenger, and EJ Patton - We were on some panels at the Tweens Read Festival in Texas, and Heather Brewer (the one with the most interesting hair) gave a really great keynote address, and I have no pictures of us except for this flattering number:

I don't know what EJ Patton is saying, but Heather is not amused.
And I think that's everybody! I hope. I'll probably do Publishing People next. As in, agents, editors, booksellers, and other wonders.

What do YOU think? :D Also, just let me know if there's anything tour-related you're curious about and that I should blog. I will do eet.

Friday, October 26, 2012

General Announcements + speshul extra


Signing booooks at Petoskey Middle School!!! 'Twas a fantastic group of peoples.
Ok, the blog has been sadly neglected this past month. Sorry, you guys. But I'm back in Switzerland now, and I'll do, like, five posts to re-cap the entire exciting, tiring, crazy adventure that is book tour, and it will be INTERESTING.

Starting later, because right now I'm severely jet-lag-y. Right now I only have three very general announcements of the sort that make people un-follow me on Twitter.

Here goes: :D

- There's this amazing independent bookstore in Michigan called McLean & Eakin. They coordinated the above-seen school visit for me, and had me sign stock, and they send SIGNED copies to anywhere in the country for JUST 99 CENTS. *turns off advertiser's voice*

(But really, they're super good, and independent stores are the best, and I met the owner and he was cool, so how many more reasons do you need, golly. . .)

- I'm doing a live video chat with Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, and Rachel Hartman, author of Seraphina this Sunday, 28th at 2PM EDT. They're both huge NYT bestselling authors, and then there's me, so it's rather exciting. You should come talk to us.

All relevant info here.

- The Peculiar has a study guide. This makes it seem very clever and deep. You can read it here, but it's spoiler-y so you should probably only do so if you've already read the book.

And so all that was worth your while, I wrote some music JUST for you. SCATHING JELLYFISH EXCLUSIVE:



Anyway, bye! :) Re-caps soon.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

TOUR DATES - October 2012




Exclamation point. Or upside-down person. Whichever.
Guess WHAT.

I have tour dates.

The public ones are listed below. I'm doing TEN (update: make that twenty) school visits besides those, though, in Colorado (Denver area), Michigan (Petosky area), Texas (Dallas area), and Illinois (Chicago area) and was told those aren't announced, because they're not open to public. So that's sad. But if you know me, or we're in some way vaguely related, you can shoot me an email and we can discuss options of disguising yourself as a twelve year old and sneaking in just saying hey in the parking lot, if you're in the area.

Also, I've been getting quite a few emails and tweets from awesome people asking to come do a signing in a specific city or town, which is of course very flattering, but you see, the US is sooooo huuuuuge and I'm not going to every state. Sorry...

Anyway, here are the events that will be open to everyone, and if you're nearby you should COME!

Oh, and if you know me from this blog, you can say "Scathing Jellyfish" and I'll give you one of those Are You Peculiar? pins from BEA. (Which is actually special, because I don't have many left.) (Update: never mind, I have a ton now. So you can ALL have one! :D)

---

Monday, October 8th, - Charlevoix, MI
Book talk - 4:00PM, 220 West Clinton St
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Tuesday October 9th - Harbor Springs, MI
Autographing - 3:30PM, 152 East Main St. 
Harbor Springs, MI

Saturday, October 13th – New York, NY
Autographing – 11:45AM-12:45PM (Autographing Tables 2, 3, 4)

Sunday, October 14th – New York, NY
Books of Wonder – public event at 1PM
18 West 18th Street  
New York, NY 10011

Saturday, October 20th – Houston, TX
Tweens Read Festival – 9:30AM-4:00PM
Bobby Shaw Middle School
1201 Houston Ave.
PasadenaTexas 77502
Coordinated by Blue Willow Bookshop

Tuesday, October 23rd – Chicago, IL
Anderson’s Bookshop (Naperville) – public event at 7PM
123 West Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540


(There may be two or three more coming. I'll update this post accordingly.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

:)

Hi, peoples.

This post was going to be all about my schedule, and how I'll be at such-and-such places at so-and-sundry times, but instead it isn't.

:)

Instead it's not really about anything.

:)

If, by chance, there is a sudden, unscheduled post on a NOT-Tuesday *gasp*, it's because I have all the tour times and have posted them.

:)

By the way, that picture up there is there because this song becomes stuck in my head whenever I think about book tour. Which kind of cracks me up.

:)

I'm tricking you into thinking I'm saying worthwhile things by smiling all the time. That's totally how it works in real life, too.

:)

Ok, ENUF. I'm flying out on the 30th I think. Blogging may be a bit sporadic, even the self-promo-y blogging I warned about in the last post. I may take to twitter more often, though. Twiterrrr...

I have to pack now. I have to buy chocolate for Everyone Ever. And also, since my brother is driving me around in the US, I need to find some road-trip music that I like and yet that won't drive him insane. ("What do you mean you don't like mumbly acoustic brit-pop, and Norwegian indie singers of ennui, and wild contemporary cello solos. What do you MEAN?)

I'm thinking I'll go with Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack, but then again, Brother has something against repetition. I don't KNOW. Suggestions are welcome.

Bye!

:)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Tour + Website + Release Day


I kind of suspect this blog is going to get annoyingly self-promo-y in the next few weeks, but I have no CHOICE,  you see, because that's the only thing I'll have to talk about that's halfway interesting.

So.

Tour

I'm going on tour in October! To places! In the US! I'm excited. I don't have all the final events and times yet, but I'll definitely post a tidy list when I do. Right now it looks like I'll be going to NYC and Dallas and Chicago and various other places, and if you are near one of them you should commmmmme.

Website

I have a website. It's a very pyootiful website. So pyootiful, in fact, that I think you should go look at it.

Now. O_O

...

Did you look? Because of my hypnotic stare you looked. Great. I worked long and hard on my hypnotic stare. O-O

The website was designed by Marissa Hussey, who is a really great web designer and very patient with certain people who change their minds every three seconds, so if you are prone to being indecisive need a snazzy author website built I totally recommended her.

Release Day

It's today. But besides being Book Release Day today is also a Tuesday, and Tuesday means classes until nine in the evening, so I don't have a lot of time to dwell on things. Editor has already sighted it in the wilds anyway, and I suppose I've mostly gotten used to the fact that it's out there for strangers to like it, or not like it, or just be kind of "eh" about it. I dunno, maybe it just hasn't sunk in yet. Right now, for me, knowing that it's in bookstores is mostly pleasant and faintly worrisome.

But rule number one for newby writers is definitely, "Don't freak out over things you have no control over," so whatever. I wrote a book, I worked hard revising it with my editor (and went a little bit insane for two weeks, but that's a WHOLE 'nother blog post), I did the very best I could do at the time, and now the book is not mine, but other people's, and you guys's, and the long-lost friend's who I don't really want to read it, but who wrote to me a few weeks ago and was like, "EEK, I'M TOTES GONNA READ YO FAIRY BOOK, EEK."

That's just how these book-things works, I suppose.

I very much hope you like that one I wrote. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trailer Tuesday #9: The Peculiar

"But WAIT, Stefan, I thought you didn't do Trailer Tuesdays anymore, because they're out, or something."

Oh, but you see, a CERTAIN trailer was put on ze youtube, annnnd here it is:


SO? What do you think? Isn't it humble, declaring the book "one of the most anticipated of the year"? Yeah,  obviously I didn't write the copy. If I had, it would have said something like, "This is an okay book. It has creepy faeries. You could read it if you wanted to. Or not. Just whatever. . ."

But seriously, I think Harper made an awesommmme trailer, and I had tons of fun writing the music for it, and I hope you like it! I mean, doesn't it make you want to RUN to the nearest bookstore and buy ALL the copies? Yeah? Ok, maybe just one copy then.

Anyway. One more week, peoples. Like, literally, today in a week the book will be on shelves. I'm excited. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Harper, Harps, and Trailer Music

Muse Playing the Harp, by Antoine Auguste Ernest Hebert (Didja see, she has the whole, "I'm infinitely cooler than you," look going? Probably because of her superior hand posture.)

I don't know if I've mentioned this on the blog before, but The Peculiar is going to have a book trailer, and book trailers have MUSIC in them, and HarperCollins was cool and let me write the music for mine.

I can't show you the trailer yet, or the music, but I can show you the FAILS. There were many fails. Twelve, to be precise. Here's how they came about...

Wayyyyy back in the Spring I wrote to my editor and said something like, "Um, could perhaps, if it be ok, I write the trailer music, please?" and Editor said, "You may" and I said, "YaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaythankyouSOMUCH" and then, being all practical and time-efficient, I wrote twelve different trailer pieces before I had even seen the trailer.

Stefan composing. No really.
Of course, those twelve pieces all had to be scrapped once I got the actual video, because hello, you can't just write whatever you want, kiddo, and there are such thangs as mood and timing to consider. So the twelve music pieces were doomed to oblivion.

*movie voice* UNTIL NOW.

I'll show you three of the scrapped ones. The harpiest ones, since that's the title of this post. It's actually kind of a coincidence they all have so much harp in them. I was working with a new sound library, and the piano, which would normally be my go-to choice for the base-instrument, sounded awfullllll. So harp it was.

Below is my first try. It's kind of happy and drama-y, and it's played by an electronic orchestra which automatically makes it a little bit disgusting. But I like the 3/4 over 6/8. It gives it an off-beat without technically having an off-beat. Yes.



This next one is somewhat skin-and-bones. Not very polished. The theme is okay, and I think I might want to use it for a bigger piece someday.



 This one is only harp. No orchestra. Which really wouldn't have matched the trailer at all. It could maybe work for the super-sekrit-Russian-project's book trailer. :P But not so much for the shiny-gloomy book with the bird on it.



Did you like any of those? One, two, or three? I can put up some of the other pieces in later blog posts if you found that interesting. Or not. Let me know! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hardcovers!!! And Stuff!!!

Twenty-one more days till The Peculiar is out, AYE!

I AM PREPARED.

Haha. Ha. Hahaha. Um.

ANYWAY! I have five things to tell you:

- I got a finished hardcover. It's so pretty. So-so pretty and shiny, and has rough-cut pages and looks like this:

It's not actually 500 pages long, by the way. It just looks like it because the pages are floofed-out.

- I marched myself into Zürich to meet up with RACHEL. (Hi, Rachel!) We talked about books for many hours and did a great deal of walking for no particular reason in order to get to no particular place. We also went into a Starbucks and then went out again without buying anything and got bottled water at a super market. Because we're cheap.

- I did an interview with Smack-Dab-in-the-Middle, which was fun. You can read it heaaaahhhhh.

- It was announced that The Peculiar is one of the Top Ten books of Fall 2012 on the Indie Next List. I hope I'm allowed to say that. Bookselling this Week has it up, so I assume it's ok for me to put it up as well? Yeah? *glances around nervously for HarperCollins ninjas*

- I re-watched Gosford Park. The first time I watched I was like, "Eh, iz ok." Now I'm like, "Ohhh, iz so clever and scathing."

- I got new blog followers! I don't know where they came from, but HI!

That's kind of all. That was exciting. Bye. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SHORT STORY: Gentlechild

School started again. Boo-hissssss. This means much running to and fro from Zürich with instruments and notebooks, and having to change shirts twice a day because it's stupid hot.

It also means I have no time for anything, so I'm going to be a lazy blogger and post another short story from ye olde days.

This one is a bit newer than the last one. I think I wrote it around the time I started The Peculiar, which was... ages and ages ago.

Anyway, tell me if you like it, tell me if you hate it, tell me if you think it's meh, or just leave a smiley. I like smileys. :)

Death, Gustave Doré

Gentlechild

 by Stefan Bachmann

Death was in the house. He sat in the wine-coloured wing chair in front of the fire, his scythe across his lap, great black wings drawn up behind him like horns.

“The Countess will be down in a moment,” Mrs Orangetree said, trying to sound friendly, trying to sound conversational. “I'm sure you'll understand. She's out of sorts.” Mrs Orangetree smiled weakly. Her hands were at her side, bunching the velvet of her skirts into fists.

The figure in the wing chair said nothing. He continued to sit, very still, the firelight dancing across his grinning teeth. Bone fingers stroked the handle of the scythe, slowly, producing a dry, ugly sound.

Mrs Orangetree bit her lip. Rather loudly she said, “You must be quite exhausted from your journey. Shall I have a tray brought in?”

Again no answer.

She peered at the spectre, half-frightened, half-wondering. There was the faintest smell of ink about him, she thought. Ink and old paper. His cloak was tattered, and all the shadows in the room seemed to fly to it and nest in its folds.

Several minutes passed. The clock on the mantelpiece ticked. A bird flurried against the window in the winter sunlight. Then a pounding of feet sounded in an upstairs hallway, and Mrs Orangetree started.

“That will be the Countess,” she said, sitting up straight and folding her hands in her lap.

Death did nothing at all.

Skirts swished in the stairwell. A hand gripped the doorknob, and Vera Fitzwatler, Countess of Nowhere-Very-Imporant, sailed into the room like a great fat warship. Her eyes were red from weeping, but not quite so red as her mouth, which was painted thickly and sloppily.

“Oh, thank heavens you've come!” she exclaimed. “They all told me it was futile. 'Your letter will never get there' they said. 'The road between Birmingham and Hell is quite blocked,' they said. 'Impassable and impossible,' they said. But did I listen to them? No! And now here you are! Oh, I will be your grateful servant for ever and ever.”

The Countess went down on her knees before Death, and with much dramatic panache, clasped his hand in her own thick fingers. “You will save my dear Edgar won't you? Oh, you will save him? I absolutely insist that you do.”

Mrs Orangetree looked on from her chair. Her mouth gave a little twitch. Death remained perfectly still. He did not even turn the black pits that were his eyes to look at the Countess. His gaze was fixed firmly on the flames flickering in the hearth.

The Countess blinked at him. For an instant she looked slightly taken aback that her speech had produced so little effect on him. Then she cast down her eyes and gave a heartbroken snuffle.

“I suppose you will want to see the child? So delicate. So frail. Made for the angels, we always knew. The physician says he has only the breath of a chance.”

Still nothing. But Mrs Orangetree did notice that Death's hand had fallen still, no longer sliding over the handle of the scythe.

The Countess did not see. She carried on valiantly. “Ah, but of course! You want to know what your reward will be! What's in it for you, eh?” She gave the skeleton a grossly provincial nudge with her elbow, and winked.

Mrs Orangetree thought she heard bones rattle.

“I wondered a long while about that,” the Countess said. “For days and days while Edgar was down in the City for his electro-therapy. In my letter to you I wrote only that I would make it worth your while. You will forgive me, I didn't know what else to say! I was quite stupid with grief then.”

Then. And now. Pretty much always, Mrs Orangetree thought, but she didn't say anything.

“But I think I've come up with something. Something you're bound to appreciate.”

Mrs Orangetree went very still. Oh dear. What would the silly goose promise? Ten years of her life? The key to her soul, and her blood-red heart in a small white box? Mrs Orangetree scolded herself for not speaking with the Countess before the meeting. Left to her own devices, the great lady would almost certainly have come up with something dreadful.

“A cameo brooch,” the Countess said, and beamed at Death. “It was given to me by the ruler of Russia. The pope, or whatever he's called. And it's made of silver and rubies and has a skull etched into it, which I happen to think bares a striking resemblance to yourself. I'm sure you'll agree with me.”

Mrs Orangetree stared. The Countess waited expectantly, still smiling. The shadowy figure in the chair said nothing.

Again, the ticking of the mantel clock came, sharp and slicing, amplifying the silence. The Countess's smile began to creak at the corners, like a table heaped with too much food. A log collapsed to ashes in the grate.

Mrs Orangetree was about to do what any good companion does when there is a lull in conversation and a child is on the very brink of expiration – speak of the weather - when another commotion shook the upstairs. Screaming and wailing and hurrying feet. An instant later a maid appeared at the door, curtsying profusely and begging the Countess to come up to the sickroom at once.

The countess sprang to her feet with a little scream and made for the hall, dragging her crinolines behind her. 

As soon as her tittering had receded up the stairs, Mrs Orangetree spoke up sharply. “You really must be patient with Vera,” she said. Her voice was scolding, which was not entirely fair, for Death could not have been more patient with the Countess if he had tried. “In fact, you may just want to leave now. I'll tell her you changed your mind, that nothing can be done. She'll set up a terrible row, go into paroxysms of despair, and faint straight away, but I dare say she'll get over it. It's better than you leading her on so. If it's the boy's time, it's his time. Anyway, he's not really worth sparing, is Edgar.”

A childish screech sounded from upstairs. Mrs Orangetree's eyes widened, then narrowed into slits.

“Think me horrid if you like, but he is quite the beastliest child you'll ever meet. You mustn't believe what Vera says.” Her voice became shrill, imitating the Countess. “'Poor Edgar! So delicate! So frail!' Ha! Catslippers. He may be ill, but he is not delicate. He's a proper oaf, and if he doesn't get his way he cries and screams as if the house were about to fall on him. I do declare, he wants everything he sets eyes on, and he treats the servants something dreadful. Slapping and punching and shouting the ghastliest names. And it's not as if the boy doesn't know better. Blame it on his foolish mother if you will, but there's no child that can't tell right from wrong. There are only those who have learnt not to care. Why, if I were his mother-”

Death never found out what Mrs Orangetree would have done were she Edgar's mother, for in that moment the boy's real mother, the Countess, swept into the parlour, her eyes bright with happy tears.

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” she said, clasping her hands together with each ecstatic 'Oh'. “The fever! It's gone down! Three degrees, the physician says, and Mr Mumblethorpe – he's the chemist, and he's upstairs, too - he says it would be safe for Edgar to take some laudanum again. Oh, how I do adore you, sir! Dear little Edgar! Dear little Edgar boogally-boo. He's going to get better. He's going to live!” She spun on Mrs Orangetree. 

“Olivia, he's going to live! How can you just sit there?”

Mrs Orangetree stood up hurriedly and made a few joyous remarks of her own. “This is quite remarkable, Vera dear,” she said, and other things, and the Countess flew to her and embraced her warmly.

“Oh, isn't it? I knew Death would do it for the cameo. Who wouldn't do it for the cameo? Why, it's from the pope of Russia!”

“Brilliant of you, I'm sure.” Mrs Orangetree extricated herself from the Countess's arms and stole a look at the figure in the wing chair.

He had moved. His head had turned, and the black eye-sockets were now fixed on the two women. His neck was twisted rather too far, like an owl's. The picture was somewhat frightening.

“Oh! Oh, my goodness, hello!” the Countess said, as if he had just walked into the room. “You're healing him aren't you? You're sparing my little boogally-boo. I knew you would. I just knew it.”

And then the Countess said “Oh!” again, which seemed to be her favourite word of late, and picked up a china monkey from the side table. She looked at it absently for a moment, pondering. Then she said, “Well, I do wonder. . .”

She stepped toward the phantom in the chair. He was still sitting with his head eerily twisted, watching them.

“Now that we are on the subject of Edgar. . .” the Countess said, and her voice went syrupy sweet. “It wouldn't be too much to ask, would it, if - how shall I say it – if you made a few improvements on him? Just a few little things to make him even more perfect. Perhaps I could throw in my pearls, too, and that dear little box from Japan. I wouldn't ask for much.”

Death gave no answer, but the Countess had long since given up caring whether he replied to her or not. As long as he listened. She sat down on one of the wing chair's arm rests, like a school girl by her favorite uncle, and began listing all the things she thought could be improved on Edgar boogally-boo.

“He has charming eyes, really very- very enigmatic! But I dare say they look a bit dull in a certain light. They're grey, you know, from his father. So I was thinking he ought to have blue eyes. Don't you agree? A most startling pair of big blue eyes. And his teeth need whitening too. All that sugar. . . Turns them yellow. I'm afraid I spoil him a little.” She giggled. “I might like him a little gentler, too. He is so forceful at times. So wilful. All great men are, but it's not an attractive quality in children. Perhaps you could take it away, and then give it back to him a little later. I do so want a gentle child.”

When Mrs Orangetree excused herself at four thirty, the Countess was still thinking up possible betterments for Edgar.

At five o' clock the Countess left briefly to powder her nose. When she came back Death was gone and the room was filled with smoke. The fire had gone out.

Later, a maid claimed to have seen through the keyhole a tall, gaunt figure in black fly away up the chimney. The footman was convinced he had spied Death step into the rococo mirror above the sofa. As it turned out, the butler had let him out through the front door, but whatever the case Death had left, and he had taken the Russian cameo with him.

***

Little Edgar woke the next morning very much better. His fever had disappeared overnight, and the horrid  cough that had been lodged in his chest all the past month was gone, too. 

The Countess was overjoyed. She showered him with presents and kisses, and though he was very cross to her, she took no notice. But after several hours of this perfect bliss, Edgar fell into a deep sleep. He slept for twenty-seven hours. And when he woke again he was. . . different.

His teeth were white. So white that when you looked at them they hurt your eyes, and if he opened his mouth for more than a few seconds, the chairs and curtains nearest him burst into flames, so he couldn't properly scream any more. His fingers turned to glass, and he could never knock against anything or do anything savage for fear of breaking them into little bits. But the oddest change that came about was the one that came over his eyes. He woke with the most startling pair of big blue eyes. They were so pure and clear, a bright, cold blue like an arctic sea. And like an arctic sea, they were made of water, and sloshed about inside the boy's head. Whenever he opened his eyes the water fell out in ropes, all that beautiful blue water, so he had to keep his eyes closed most of the time and was somewhat blind. And even with his eyes were closed, the water dripped out of the corners so that it looked like he was always crying, even when he had nothing to cry about.

As for the Countess, she died the very next day.

And that was the end of that. Little Edgar boogally-boo became quite the gentlest child you can possibly imagine.

*

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Conundrums

This is post will be SHORT, yet RAMBLY. So you know.

Four things:

  • I was supposed to be writing a saxophone/string-orchestra-concert-piece-thang over summer vacation, and I was kind of working on it, but not really, and now I'm down to my last week of semi-freedom and everything is dire, and I'm listening to the piece below while frantically trying to write something one teeny tiny fraction as good. Inspire me, Shostakovitch.


Piece is genius. So much drive.

  • I started outlining a new book. It's probably not the smartest book to work on now, as it isn't a childrens' book, and it isn't fantasy, and it's so complicated that I'm not sure I can even write it. But it's the book I really want to write, and the only one of my ideas that I'm actually into right now, so I have to at least start on it. I don't want to say what it's about exactly for fear I'll never actually finish it, but research includes re-reading War and Peace and The Cherry Orchard, and spending way too many hours on Wikipedia looking up the Austro-Hungarians and the Romanovs and the convoluted Royal dynasties of 19th century Europe. Which are fascinating, ACTUALLY.

  • While researching above-mentioned stuff I stumbled across a gallery of colour-photographs taken over a hundred years ago. It's weirdly demystifying seeing history in colour. Look:


You'd be forgiven for thinking this a contemporary picture of rural Kyrgyzstan, except maybe you wouldn't be because why are you picking on Kyrgyzstan, yo? Anyway, the picture was taken at some point between 1905 and 1915. In Greece. Also, the gal up front looks skeptical of this photo-taking contraption.

You can view the whole gallery here.

  • I'm desperately searching for titles for Book 2, which has now been read by FIVE PEOPLE, you guys. (The scariness.) The first book seemed way easier to find a title for. I'm at the point where I just want to call the second one THE PECULIAR: PART TU, GRR.

I made a list of lame titles. They were lame. I sent them off. Editor nixed them. I'm now making a second list, and in a few days I'll excitedly send them off, and Editor will be like:


Noh capes.

Joooooke. My editor is much nicer about these things than Edna.

Bye. :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Scottish Highland Festival + STEAMPUNK

As the title of this post *may* have completely given away, we went to a Scottish Highland Festival last weekend. And it wasn't just because we had watched Pixar's Brave the day before. Even though that movie? Was great. I liked it lots. My Mom liked it well enough. My little brother thought it was the funniest thing ever, which equates with liking it lots.

Anyway, Scottish Highland Festival. It was nothing like Brave.

Picture dump below:

Following the Scottish-looking peoples. They were going to the Highland Festival, too, imagine that.

Doggy Retta being adorable, and my sistah.

STEAMPUNK DRAGON. (And I have no clue what this had to do with the Scottish, or highlands, or festivals, but it was there and it was awesome.)

STEAMPUNK BERSERKER.
STEAMPUNK LION + STEAMPUNK PREDATOR.

STEAMPUNK WALL-E.

STEAMPUNK- Oh, wait, bagpipes.

There were lots of odd and interesting people running around.

There was a ginormous creepy dog.

There was axe-throwing.

There was archery.

There were weird competitions apparently designed to embarrass the contestants.

There was palm-reading, which I assume is like book-reading only with palms.

There was pole-climbing. . .

. . .and pole-falling. . .

. . .and bell-bottoms. (But don't laugh, because according to Mom these bell-bottoms were traditional woodworker's outfits back in the day.)
So there you have it! Not like Brave. All very interesting, though. :)