new book gorgeous cover hi how are you

argghhh I broke my own rule about posting monthly and missed June AND July! But it was a mad July with visiting and visitors and lots of work and ANYWAY.

The main thing, Danny, is two things (<---quote from a long ago play I was in): 1) my new book, The Radiant Road, has a gorgeous cover with art by Scott McKowen; and 2) there will be an audio version, recorded by the Listening Library, which does all the best young-reader books. To say I am psyched doesn't even.

Try to tell me that is not magnificent. I am the luckiest author with covers EVER.

Try to tell me that is not magnificent. I am the luckiest author with covers EVER.

It's about adventure and making art and finding courage and figuring out love maybe possibly? (or maybe just liking a lot?) and saving worlds and all that. Read all about it

In less giddy news, I've also written a couple more Cabinet of Curiosities stories this summer: one very short one about tiny creepy crawlies that are ALL OVER YOU! RIGHT NOW! called "How It Feels When They Come"; and another about hikers who don't get back before dark, like they were warned to do, called "Night Walkers."

And I'm working on some other stuff, and oh I just started rehearsing an excellent play called The Quarry, by Greg Pierce, which will go up at Hyde Park Theatre late next month.

But more on that and other things next post. For now let's all just sit around and stare dreamily at that cover.

 

 

a long haunting

Hey all, all three dozen of ya. How are you today? It's rainy here, has been rainy for weeks*, and I am feeling meditative today. Keep thinking about how fast life goes from this . . .

to this: 

In the case of those flowers, both of which are on my magnolia tree today, the process takes about three days. So I guess I should be grateful that the ones I love are not magnolia flowers or mayflies.

(BTW, I am talking about mortality. not loss of cuteness. Are you kidding me, I look fantastic in slowly-decaying brown.)

So anyway but good news! My second whole book (the Cabinet is only a quarter mine), a YA fantasy, long long long in the making, is now in copyedits. So it is real. And it has a title finally: The Radiant Road. And I hope to be able to share something or other else about it here soon, maybe even a publication date. [EDIT: no sooner posted than answered--my husband saw on Amazon that it's scheduled for January 19, 2016. The writer is ever the last to know! but very happy to know now.]

Also I wrote a Cabinet story this month called "What Caroline Said." It is based on a real newspaper story about a haunting--and I researched the real family, which was maybe kind of weird of me?--and then made up a bunch of lies to go with it. I like this one. Hope you do, too.

*Weeks of rain is good--we've been in drought for many years Also it's so pretty out, all that gray and soft light.

Spring Mishmash

I have so many projects, small and large, going on right now. It's splendid, but I keep intending to come back here and Comment Wisely on some current topic but you know what? Then I don't.

Also: spring is lovely in Austin but, as ever: ahhhhCHOO.

So this will be the typical listy mishmash of stuff, sorry. 

First off, I wrote a Cabinet story this month inspired by this Ralph Meatyard photo.

(Terrifying) photo by  Ralph Meatyard .

(Terrifying) photo by Ralph Meatyard.

I had also just come from visiting my father, where he lives in a cabin out in the woods, and that may have influenced this piece as well, which is more eerie and autumnal than EEK SCREAM FRIGHT.  

Anyway! Also the play I'm in here in Austin, The Christians, is still playing through March 28. We've been selling out, and it's a lovely, thoughtful show, about how we make walls and shields and moats out of our beliefs so that we don't have to open ourselves to other people. If you're around, come see one of the last three shows.

Also, for the Fusebox Festival's 100 Year Flood piece,  I've written and recorded a very short, odd little piece inspired by this site:

This is on the Lady Bird Lake hike &amp; bike trail in Austin, on the north side of the river just west of the Lamar pedestrian bridge.

This is on the Lady Bird Lake hike & bike trail in Austin, on the north side of the river just west of the Lamar pedestrian bridge.

Several other excellent local writers also did pieces, which you can (beginning April 1) download and listen to in that spot, if you like.

I am also now one of the Yellow Bird Editors and am really enjoying the work, so if you're a writer interested in critique or editing services, YB is the place. I recently wrote a blog for them about banishing stick-figure writing (and getting readers to feel your words in their bones) by using concrete sensory details. A lot of it I kyped from a workshop I taught last month for the Writer's League of Texas.

As usual I'll be blogging again for the Fusebox Festival (April 1-12)--it is absolutely one of Austin's Best Things, much more exciting than SXSW. Don't miss it.

 

not for the cool

I had a revelation about social media the other day--I realized that none of the truly cool people I know are any good at Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr. Usually they are too cool even to try--they would never expose themselves so casually, or be so unconsidered, or waste their time so obviously.

And maybe this is the GREAT THING about social media--cool people don't get it! So it's the happy playground of the uncool: the slightly excited, the earnest, the nerds and geeks, the goofy jokers, the hearts-on-their-sleeves.

Myself at age 7-ish, being massively uncool. Already a potential social media genius!

Myself at age 7-ish, being massively uncool. Already a potential social media genius!

I am just glad all the cool people haven't tried to come and ruin it for us.

In other news: I am about to open another play, called The Christians, by Lucas Hnath. It runs February 26-March 28 at the tiny Hyde Park Theatre, which we're turning into the smallest megachurch in North America for the occasion. It's a beautiful play that I feel lucky to be in, but it's been a long time since I did back-to-back shows and I. Am. Tired.

Also I wrote a new Cabinet of Curiosities story, about a school with an urban legend about a dangerous gift. This is one of the creepiest ones I've done in a while, and I am pleased with it. I borrowed the name and personality of one of my own sisters, and then gave her a terrible fate (what is wrong with me? good question).

But guess what? She'll never know, because she is too cool to read blogs or Twitter etc. WINNING.

a happy bloody beginning

Selfie as Clytemnestra&nbsp;at the Long Center, mid- Deus Ex Machina . You get tousled slaughtering your husband then swanning off with your psychopath boyfriend.

Selfie as Clytemnestra at the Long Center, mid-Deus Ex Machina. You get tousled slaughtering your husband then swanning off with your psychopath boyfriend.

For me the new year began with a nice bloody smash in the play Deus Ex Machina, a quite mad updated choose-your-own adventure version of the collection of Greek tragedies known as the Oresteia. The audience directed us like puppets and it was scary, hilarious, and fun.

And I just got some nice news: my second novel is headed into line edits--it doesn't matter what those are, just: YAY.  It will definitely be on the Dutton Winter/Spring 2016 list. And it still doesn't have a dang title.

I also wrote a story for the Cabinet of Curiosities--we're definitely back. This one traces my curator's adventures monster-proofing a spooky window that hangs from the sky, feeding nightmares into the world. It was inspired by this photo I took in Austin's Hyde Park neighborhood a year ago--whoever you are, lovely & creative homeowners, I regret killing you off so unpleasantly in the story. 

new year and it will be new, it will

Hello my all. I've broken my own "at least monthly" rule here, sorry for that. My life's been a bit mad and a bit seasonally sad*; but now it is almost the new year, and I will begin all new and brave and calm.

My resolution, in case you're counting, is to stop myself when I reach for the anxious response. It's like reaching for a bow & arrow every time you hear leaves crunch in your front yard. My arms are getting tired, and anyway it's usually just a cat.

Meanwhile two other things. First, The Cabinet of Curiosities was chosen as one of the New York Public Library's 100 Best Children's Books of 2014. YES, that crazy little muppet monster of a book chugs on.

We've neglected our Cabinet storytelling in the latter half of the year, but plans are afoot to pick back up next month. Meanwhile Stefan Bachmann wrote a perfectly lovely holiday story last week--I really urge you to read it, it will fix what ails you, with humor and sweetness.

Fuzzy selfie as Clytemnestra. She's in a bad mood! You'd be too under the circumstances!

Fuzzy selfie as Clytemnestra. She's in a bad mood! You'd be too under the circumstances!

Also: one of the things keeping me busy has been the craziest theater project I've ever worked on--a choose-your-own-adventure version of the Oresteia, in which the audience votes at crucial moments to turn the story in entirely different directions. It's funny, it's tragic, the design is fantastic and full of surprises, it's UNBELIEVABLY BLOODY, I kill and get killed in multiple ways, depending on how the audience votes -- lots of fun. 

So if you're in Austin, please come see Deus ex Machina--it runs at the Long Center January 3 through January 18, 2015.

More next month. Yes.

*As I have written in the past, I think the sadness so many people feel around Christmas and the solstice is part of the point of the holiday, so I don't mind it, but it takes up a lot of mental space.

boiling hot at the edge of icy cold

My wee Hyundai and I drove 3300 miles earlier this month, up to Yellowstone and all around Yellowstone and back. While I was there I also did a lot of hiking, looking around, and bothering rangers with questions, because I am playing around with a book set in a big, strange wilderness like that one.

Not that there's any place like Yellowstone, really--except, I've heard, parts of Iceland.

I believe this is Big Cone, unless it is Fishing Cone. It's a geyser right at the edge of a vast, icy lake. I'm mad for this picture for some reason.

I believe this is Big Cone, unless it is Fishing Cone. It's a geyser right at the edge of a vast, icy lake. I'm mad for this picture for some reason.

It's hard to take a bad photo there, even if you are a pure amateur armed with a mighty iPhone and ancient Powershot point-and-shoot.

Upper Falls and its rainbow. I was hiking right along the edge of the canyon.

Upper Falls and its rainbow. I was hiking right along the edge of the canyon.

ANYWAY. Worth the drive. And it was so gloriously cool, and I'm so tired of the heat.

In other news, I wrote a Cabinet of Curiosities story about keys, and what they might unlock. It's called "Little Doors of Blood and Bone," and it begins "The first thing Ida unlocked was the cat." If that sounds appealing (or: TERRIFYING), please check it out!

doors opening all over the place

Three nice things! It's really only kind of two but let's call it three.

I have a new Cabinet of Curiosities story up, about a door in the woods at summer camp that leads to many other worlds. (That's the sort of  thing they provide at summer camps, right? I've never been.) Story is scary, or meant to be. Go read!

Two is that the Polish version of Summer and Bird came out in May. It's called Lato i Ptaszynka, and I found a review that Google awkwardly translates as saying, among other nice things, "Book Summer and Ptaszynka is one of those novels that are read in one breath." Hurrah Poland.

Three-ish is that the German edition of Summer and Bird comes out in September. In German it's called Vogelherz, meaning "birdheart," which is lovely.

And both editions wisely kept the loveliest cover of all time. I can't wait to hold them in my hands.

In other news it is 101 outside, which is too hot. 

oh no I forgot to post

I've been finishing up (like it is ever finished up) a big revision, and that's been making my brain all faint and easily confused. So I forgot my July blogging, which meant I didn't even mention my Cabinet of Curiosities story about maps. It is called "X Marks the Spot" and in it we learn that sisters are not all bad; ditto brothers; also, if you find an old map on which someone has written in blood DON'T GO, consider not going.

I was obsessed with maps and treasure maps in particular (OBVIOUSLY) as a child.

I was obsessed with maps and treasure maps in particular (OBVIOUSLY) as a child.

What reminded me to blog is that I wanted to say that today Summer and Bird comes out in paperback, hurrah! Hurry, stock up!

Also, we have had a couple more awfully nice reviews for The Cabinet of Curiosities. Booklist says "While a few [of the stories] contain lessons that can be learned, the majority exist simply to give readers a fright or chill. And this they do quite well. Not for the faint of heart, this curious collection of stories will haunt and, at times, horrify and are best read by flashlight."

Quite right! I often enjoy killing off the children at the end of my stories. OR WORSE.

Horn Book said "The stories are remarkable both for their uniformly high quality and for their distinctness from one another; the abundant atmospherics, including occasional stark black-and-white illustrations, provide a unifying sense of dread. The framing device—the curators send letters from the field introducing their latest discoveries—adds depths of mystery, danger, and idiosyncrasy to a book already swimming in each."

Woot! So that's happiness.

Meanwhile, doing some arts pieces for the Austin Chronicle while revision percolates.

Oh and! I'm in a play that opens next week--it's one of two one-act adaptations of Chekhov short stories produced by Breaking String Theater. The one I'm in is based on "The Fiancée," as adapted by Eliza Bent (and wittily called "The Beyoncé"), but the whole piece is called We Play Chekhov. Only two weekends, get your tickets now!

 

whisper in your ear

I am rather proud of my podcast version of my Cabinet of Curiosities story, "Dark Valentine." Whole thing is under 14 minutes so it will make a lovely, chilling little commute listen. Let me whisper scariness into your ears!

The very microphone!

The very microphone!

Also quite marvelous are Claire Legrand's somewhat longer, Texas-inflected reading of her "The Tin Man's Price" and Stefan Bachmann's cold and mega-creepy reading of his "Plum Boy and the Dead Man." Emma's is out next week! Be safe and subscribe to all four in iTunes.

Podcasting and book launching and other stuff has thrown us all off our normal schedule, so no stories this month, but we'll be back in July. Oh The Cabinet got a lovely review in Shelf Awareness, hurrah.

Meanwhile I am still revising like mad on my second novel, a YA. This revision is due August 1. This may be the first time--in my long life as a cold-and-wet-loving person inexplicably living in the South--that I have looked forward passionately to August.