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.

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.

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.

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.


dolls that bite

Wow I just realized that dolls with teeth are becoming a theme in my work. Artistic exhaustion, or secret obsession? I am actually NOT one of those people easily disturbed by dolls, but there are a lot of you out there, and every single one of you should go read my new Cabinet story. Now! Hurry, hurry! The people who aren't all that freaked out by dolls are politely letting you go first, but they look impatient to me.

I forgot to note where I stole this awesome image from. It was a review of this doll. My apologies, doll reviewer!

I forgot to note where I stole this awesome image from. It was a review of this doll. My apologies, doll reviewer!

In other news, The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief and Sinister will be released this Tuesday, May 27. We the Curators are all kinds of psyched, and have various guest blogging and twitter hashtaggery planned to celebrate--oh and a podcast, yes you heard me. More as it happens!

Meanwhile, though, Greenwillow is running a great Cabeinet-themed contest on its blog --here's the latest, but I think they post a new one today and another next week.


birds in cages and a happy star

Cannot believe I forgot to post here about on of my favorite Cabinet stories I've written in a while, plus some happy news.

The Cabinet story is called "Ariel" (which is a tiny private . . . not joke, exactly: what do you call a private joke that's serious?). Our theme is birds this month, and I'd recently been obsessively web-stalking the artist William Kentridge, so my story was inspired by one of his drawings for a production design for The Magic Flute.  

So that. But then the happy star is that The Curiosity Cabinet--which began as this crazy little web-project, just for fun--besides now having a pretty glorious jacket and illustrations (Greenwillow did a gorgeous job with the package), also has a Kirkus star. Six hundred hurrays to THAT.

To celebrate publication, we've got a lot going on, including a 36-day countdown in which we tweet a line from one of the stories each day, do several giveaways, and more stuff currently top secret. Stefan Bachmann is doing a quite splendid world giveaway right now, so if you're interested in winning all kinds of books, check that out.

 Book comes out May 27, 2014, in hardback and paperback, so just GET READY.


windy day

Not today so much, but a couple of days ago, when I wrote my latest Cabinet story, it was crazy windy--a speaking wind, you know, the kind that mutters and howls and woooos. And our Cabinet theme for March is wind (I know, original right?). IT WAS A SIGN.

My story is a perversion of that strange and lovely George Macdonald classic, At the Back of the North Wind. As a child I read that book over and over. I wanted more books like that, dense and rich and not always fully parseable, at least to me as a child.

Not everyone feels that way of course, as a child or an adult. I wonder if that longing for the unparseable, for gorgeous spots of opacity and ambiguity, is inherent or learned or what. Either way, I'm always so glad when I find someone else who feels the way I do. Secret Society of Negative Capability y'all!

This week's Cabinet story is PLENTY parseable and straightforward, believe me. Poor Ruby, adopted as the new Diamond by a North Wind driven mad by loss. That's not gonna end well.