october silence

It's only silence because I'm not doing a Cabinet of Curiosities story this month--we're lightening up our schedule a bit so that we take two-at-a-time alternate months off. Look for some appropriate spookiness from Emma and Claire though.

It's not even really October here, because it's in the 90s all week (miserable pout, why do I live here, etc). Autumn's my favorite season and we get horribly little of it here, and mostly in December which feels all wrong.

Anyway! But this post is to put here something I've already posted on Tumblr:  The artist and photographer Anne Arden McDonald, whom I've never met but whose work I greatly admire,  likes Summer and Bird, which is already fairly thrilling.

But also, she also made this gorgeous cover for the book to give to her nieces.

So . . . worth mentioning on every social media outlet? I say YES. Check out her work if you're not familiar.

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!


fan art & podcasts & stuff

My niece Emma recently re-read Summer and Bird and made some art in response to it. Honestly if there is a better writing-related happiness than someone making something as a response to something you made, I don't know what it is.

Her beautiful version of the lovely back cover of the book.

Her beautiful version of the lovely back cover of the book.

This other one is a drawing of the inside of the red house, which is one of my favorite parts of the book. She even got the vines on the wall. HAPPINESS.

and the gray rag rug! SIgh.

and the gray rag rug! SIgh.

Okay, in other news. We Cabinet curators celebrated publication day with the #sharescary hashtag on Twitter--heard many fears and many creepy stories, and prizes are now flying out all over the world to participants. Two of mine are postcards with a custom scary story. Yeah NOW you wish you'd played.

There is also an ongoing giveaway at Cynthia Letich Smith's Cynsations blog -- get one chance to win a copy of the Cabinet of Curiosities just by commenting, or get four chances by leaving a 100-word scary story written to the prompt "visitors." That post also includes a really first class photo of my cat Adam, looking appalled, and one of Stefan reclined upon candy. Contest ends Sunday June 8!

Finally and perhaps most gloriously: we're doing a Cabinet of Curiosities podcast every week this month. The first episode is Claire Legrand reading her marvelous story "The Tin Man's Price"--you can listen to or download it here. Or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Stefan Bachmann composed eerie and splendid music for this thing, so you MUST give it a listen.

That's it I think! Thanks all, and thanks, Emma.


playing war and creepy trees

It's the second Wednesday of the month, so it must be my new Cabinet of Curiosities post. This one is almost all in the voice of an 11-year-boy who is quite upset, and with good reason, after a game of war near a creepy tree goes badly & weirdly wrong. It was a nice reach back to childhood for me (I LOVED playing war), and I hope I reached far enough.

I also hope it gives you major creeps.

I took this with some ominous filter in McKinney Falls, a non-ominous state park.   

I took this with some ominous filter in McKinney Falls, a non-ominous state park.


What else I'm doing is preparing--though how can you really prepare?--for the Fusebox Festival, the international time-based arts festival held in Austin each spring. I'll be blogging for them again this year, and linking to those blogs here, and I hope something I write sends you to see something at Fusebox. It's insane that some of the most exciting theater, dance, music, and visual and performance art being made in the world today converges here every April. Come get your mind blown a tiny little bit. There are a number of free and free-ranging events, as well.

While I'm here, can't resist posting these two recent beautiful reviews of Summer and Bird. One's from a website called Girls Underground that tracks books and art about girls who travel Down. The other is from the blog of the Butler Children's Literature Center at Dominican University. Both of them made me so happy.

reading aloud

This is not a proper post but I wanted to let you know that Penguin has posted a couple of MP3s of me reading excerpts from Summer and Bird on their website. These are just little informal recordings, nothing posh. But man I do love reading aloud, and reading my own book aloud is a much greater pleasure than I ever guessed.

I should have realized how much fun it would be based on the few times I've performed short plays I wrote myself. Any actor will tell you that being able to surprise a laugh out of an audience, or make them hold their breaths, is pretty much the best thing ever. But to be able to do that when you wrote the words--no, that is the ACTUAL best.

A couple of weeks ago I read aloud and talked with the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at the Girls School of Austin. The students were delightful, warm and enthusiastic and thoughtful. And when I read the first line of chapter 6*, and the whole room GASPED? For a moment I could not believe that this is my actual job, because it is the most splendid job in the world.

Oh! That reminds me -- this is not a reading, but it's a great cause, and chock full of writers more famous than me. Here's a triple play where you can do good, meet writers, and knock out some holiday shopping all at once on Saturday, December 8 at the Humanities Texas Holiday Book Fair.


See you there? Say yes.

It's at the schmancy Byrne-Reed House downtown and: free parking! I won't be reading aloud, do not fear, but I will be signing, as will Austin icon Sarah Bird, Newbery honor winner Jacqueline Kelly (with her new telling-forward of The Wind in the Willows), Texas Monthly editor Jake Silverstein, novelists Stephen Harrigan and Oscar Casares, and more. And home baked pastries. So please come!

*"The Puppeteer was full of dead birds."

past present future, but much less tense

LOOK AT ALL THE PEOPLE. Photo credit Pete Minda.

LOOK AT ALL THE PEOPLE. Photo credit Pete Minda.

I have kind and amazing friends, and BookPeople has a kind and amazing staff, and my book event Tuesday was a complete joy to me. Thank you, everyone.

And now it is now! The present! Past the big book event I could not see around for a while. The present has

  • Digging back into my neglected-in-the-past-week Book #2
  • Signing stock at BookPeople for all your holiday shopping needs HINT HINT
  • Incredibly lovely review in the Austin American Statesman, my hometown paper.
  • Cynthia Leitich Smith interviewing me for her Cynsations blog (see my office in all its random messy glory)
  • iTunes/iBook store naming Summer and Bird one of their Best Books of October HURRAH.

And soon it will be: the future. What now swims before my eyes blocking out all else is the Texas Book Festival October 27-28. Besides stalking my favorite writers at various panels and parties, I will also be

  • Signing books at the BookPeople/Penguin Booth (booth 314-315) from 11:30am-noon on Sunday, October 27.
  • On a children's lit panel called "The World Turned Upside Down" at 1pm Sunday. This panel is moderated by author and Writing Barn-runner Bethany Hegedus. The panelists are NY Times bestselling writer Lisa McMann, award-winning Austin writer of boy-friendly books Greg Leitich Smith, and NY Times bestselling AND award-winning writer Catherynne M. Valente. And uh, me! So how can it not be awesome, not to mention upside-down.
  • Signing books in the Children's Booksigning Tent at 13th and Colorado at 2:15pm Sunday, right after the panel.

So come stroll around the Capitol, bring kids, drop by the panel, or come to one of the booksignings--even if you don't need a book signed (you have to buy them there to get them signed there, FYI), come say hi, I will be glad to see you.

In: the FUTURE (cue theramin effect).

so close so close so close

So Summer and Bird comes out in four days aiiiiiiyyyyyyeeeeeeeee.


And a friend of mine has already bought a copy from some scofflaw bookshop in California, so it must be real. My own copies came as well:

In fact it's so real that I'm having a book launch in just over a week. If you're near Austin, please come join me at BookPeople at 7pm, Tuesday October 9 for a few tasties, some wine and champagne, silly bird decorations, a wee presentation and reading, a Q&A, and a book signing. I would love to see you there (and my event is the day after Rick Riordan's, so I need your help not to look too paltry in comparison).

(If you'd like to have a book signed at that event, it must be purchased at BookPeople, but you are welcome to come whether you're having something signed or not.)

In completely unrelated but also happy news, I've been nominated for a B. Iden Payne Award for my performance in boom this June. Sweet!

But lest you think my life is nothing but sugar-coated loveliness, I am still working on my second book, which gives me lots of opportunity for self-doubt and terror. Also, someone is playing the drums horribly badly very near my window, which is open for the first time in ages, because we are having a hint of fall (by "fall" I mean "it is under 80 degrees").

A hint of fall tips the balance -- my life IS all sugar-coated loveliness.

This blog is an excuse to post this image

Notice the changes here in the creaky, windswept streets of my website. Mainly, I have added a whole page for Summer and Bird. And mainly I did that to have an excuse to share two nice bits:

Summer and Bird got a starred review from Kirkus, which called it "A haunting fable inflected with mythological and fairy-tale motifs  . . .  languorously beautiful."

I was named one of IndieBound's New Voices for Fall 2012. They said of Summer and Bird "Lyric in its language and layered in its complexity, this is a book like no other."

Two more bits of news: I wll be reading at the Southern Independent Booksellers Trade Show in Naples, Florida on September 7, which is exciting. I think I will now refer to ths trip as my Book Tour.

Finally, I will be having a book launch for Summer and Bird at the splendid BookPeople in Austin, Texas at 7pm October 9. Please come! Please come even if you live in Maine!

But all of that is just an excuse to post my favorite of all the lovely, lucky things that have come my way recently. My agent David Dunton's daughter, Hannah Dunton, first read Summer and Bird in manuscript when she was 9. She recently turned 11, and is still thinking about the book, as evidenced by this incredibly awesome manga-influenced drawing:

Image by Hannah Dunton.

The blonde is Summer -- she is holding a notebook (EXCELLENT detail) and thinking about a little red bird who is very important both to her and the story. Bird is the smaller one, with the browner hair and slyer smile. The creepy face on the upper left is the Puppeteer, also known as The Bird Mask, because we never see her face. The other images are an owl holding a key (oh that's right you're wondering why; well, get the book!) and the rebus-like "picture letter" that is all their mother left them when she disappeared.

This picture is my new favorite thing. Thank you, Hannah.

summer and bird sneak in

Book Expo America is happening in New York right this second, and I'm stuck here in Austin doing a dumb old play.

(I'm kidding: it's a hilarious play that I am lucky to be in--boom, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb--which you can see through June 23 30 [Ed. note: we extended!] at Hyde Park Theatre in Austin. Buy tickets right now at the Capitol T Theatre website; or, if you like, read a rave review in the Statesman first.)

But even though I am not at BEA, Summer and Bird is. ARCs are being handed out at the Dutton Children's booth, and my gorgeous cover is blown up all big right next to John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, a book I loved to pieces and in tears:

So suddenly a few dozen people on Goodreads have the book marked to-read, which makes it feel very real and thrilling.

And on top of all that, the first review has been posted on the blog at Alamosa Books, a children's bookstore in Albuquerque. It's all way too exciting, and the book doesn't actually come out for almost four months, so I need to get off the nets and back into drafting mode for book #2. 

But if I may summarize: yay.