Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist Cover!

Ta da! Since it's up on Amazon, it seems only fair I can show off the cover here!

Isn't it amazing! Kelly Murphy is THE BEST!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I totally fell off the reading wagon this month. Part of it was all the deadlines and presentation prep, but another part of it was that I was overcome by Restless Reader Syndrome—no book satisfied the reader in me. Even the ones I eventually managed to finish didn’t ring my chimes. I hate when my inner reader is that fickle.

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Here’s a tip: If you ever do Career Day at the local high school, know ahead of time that the military and beauty school will be the two main draws. Other occupations can’t compete with the testosterone-laden challenge of doing push ups for the military recruiters or the seductive allure of free makeovers.

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I need a laptop for traveling and running PowerPoint presentations. I’m looking at those mini-notebooks, the HP and Dell 10” models. Does anyone have one? Know if they can run PowerPoint? I would love something that small and compact and light!

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Boys headed back to school Sunday after a lovely, quiet Spring Break. I have cooked my fingers to the bone and enjoyed every minute of it. It’s such a mind-boggling thing—to get to where you can enjoy and relate to your kids as fellow adults. Disorienting, but great.

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Once more deadline on Wednesday then I’m free, free, free! At least for a couple of months. I am faced with the delightful quandary of what to work on next. I have two projects calling to me—one a magical realism middle grade and another a dark, YA fantasy. Decisions, decisions! We’ll just have to see which one is screaming loudest come Thursday.

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And yes, I really will get back to the setting discussion, but probably not until after I turn in my revision.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Let Your Fingers Do The Talking!

Check out these awesome fingernails! A reader in Austin gave herself an orange and green manicure (to match the Theodosia book covers?) then painted hieroglyphs on them. By herself! Using black fingernail polish! And for those of you who aren't well-versed in hieroglyphics, it spells out Theodosia, with the pinkie being dedicated to Isis. Love It!

Monday, March 23, 2009

How Much Do I Love Texas. . . ?


I’m back! At least in body, anyway. My brain, however, is still circling the airport. Hopefully it will land in a day or two and I’ll be coherent again!

I had the best time ever in the Lone Star State. Let me tell you, those Texans are Big Book Lovers—exactly my kind of people. And that good old time Texas hospitality is no myth, either. Everyone was as friendly and helpful as can be. (Including a big-a$$ed ol' bug that hitched a ride on my blouse Friday night, and terrified me and two other women in a tiny elevator. That was a little more friendliness in a bug than I prefer!)

Every single person at the Dallas Museum of Art was lovely and gracious, but especially Carolyn, Katie, and Helen. They were awesome! The museum has the most brilliant outreach program ever for kids; After Dark, where the museum is open until midnight once a month. Let me tell you, it was a treat to see so many families out and about with the kids just as excited about being at the library—as if it were better than Disneyland (which it totally is!)

Legacy Books in Plano was a gorgeous new indie bookstore. Wow. I could have spent hours in there. One of the highlights at Legacy Books was the amazing Josie and her friend, who showed up dressed as Theodosia, gloves and all! SO FUN! Her mom has promised to send me a picture and hopefully she’ll let me post it here on the blog. I also met a very knowledgeable and helpful publicist, Janet McLeod of Haute Tour Public Relations. We had a great time talking books and marketing.

And Book People in Austin lived up to its amazing reputation! Topher, Meghan, and Brandy were awesome hosts and dreamed up a hugely fun mummy-wrapping contest. One girl (whose name I've forgotten already) showed up in a way cool gold Egyptian wig/headdress that I covet. Another painted her fingernails with hieroglyphs--very impressive--and hard to do! And I got to meet a boy names Giles, who knows nearly as much as Theodosia does about Egyptian mythology. The lovely Cynthia Leitich Smith and her husband Greg were there, and I finally got to meet fellow author and blogger, PJ Hoover, who has two of the most adorable kids. Seriously, if they would have fit in my carry-on, I’d have brought them home with me.

Perhaps it was such a great trip because I had to run a gauntlet just to get there. Crikey! Every single airline let me down. One flight was canceled (my husband had to play Rescue Ranger and race me down to LAX to catch a flight that would get me to the museum in time), one flight was delayed, one arrived so late that I would have missed my connection if my connecting flight hadn’t also been late. Seriously the most jinxed travel experience I’ve ever had. And one airline, who shall remain nameless, had two airplanes with malfunctioning bathrooms, which made the entire flight smell of chemical toilets. Urgh.

But you know how it goes--the harder you have to work at something, the better it is, and this trip surpassed all my wildly optimistic expectations. My sincere thanks to everyone who helped make it so!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

C'est Magnifique!

I love this cover for the French edition of Theodosia and The Serpents of Chaos and just had to share! If you're just dying to read it in French, you can find it here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gah! I Did It Again!

Okay, I truly meant to come right back and post more about setting, but I got totally sucked into the Two Concurrent Revisions Vortex. Add to that prepping for my upcoming Texas trip and finalizing the details on another book contract, well, let's just say even my family wondered if I'd disappeared off the face of the earth.

But no. I didn't. Just got swamped. Again. I will try to post the rest of the setting discussion before I leave for Dallas, but I'm making no promises. I will however, leave you with this latest announcement from Publisher's Lunch:

Author of THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS R.L. LaFevers's third globe-trotting, action-packed installment in the forthcoming NATHANIEL FLUDD: BEASTOLOGIST chapter book series, entitled THE WYVERNS OF WALES, again to be illustrated by Kelly Murphy, to Kate O'Sullivan at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's (world), by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

And if you want to see how seriously awesome this illustrator is, check her out here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Setting: Your Character's Habitat

Setting can be a huge factor for some books and for others not so much. The way I like to think about setting is that it is the character’s habitat. Remember how in third grade we began learning about habitats? How habitat’s shaped organisms (and yes, for the purpose of this discussion people are organisms.) So while habitats in the animal kingdom might include desert, rainforest, savannah, and streams, human habitats are a little more diverse and subtle. Human habitats not only include the physical and geographical components of your characters’ world, but encompass mindset, religious tone, economic outlook, current social thought and mores, as well.

It’s important to keep in mind just how much habitat shapes organisms, from their diet to what they use for clothing, what they do for entertainment, how they interact.
Think how differently a society--and therefore its members--evolve when they live in a desert. Now compare that to a society that's developed on an island. Think how different their creation myths are, their diet, their feelings about rain, sun, what their pets are, the material they have available for building and making clothes. All of those details will stem from the world they live in.

And don’t make the mistake of assuming this only applies to historical or fantasy books. While more subtle, even the differences between urban and suburban and rural habitats in our own time can be significant and affect such things as:

• What kids do after school
• The sounds they’re used to
• How they might react to a stranger
• What they do for recreation
• Their attitude toward other kids

Other things to consider when dealing with a contemporary, realistic setting are, Is the world of your novel a dark and edgy place? Filled with hope and grace? Normalville, USA?

If your story IS set in Normalville USA, it is even MORE important that you make your town come alive by using specific, concrete details. Does your Normalville’s main street have two liquor stores, a billiard place and a bait and tackle shop or is it lined with antique stores with a strategically placed Starbucks or two? Both main streets conveys something different: poverty vs affluence, hope versus despair. What is the crime rate in the town? Do people feel safe there? How do the citizens feel about the weather? Is a bright sunny day cause for rejoicing (Pacific NW) or merely one more in a long string of drought filled days?

The point is to consider all the different ways a habitat (setting) affects people--helps form them--then incorporate select details that help bring your setting to life and make it feel absolutely real to your readers. As an added bonus, it will also add nice complex layers to your character.

Some of the first big decisions you’ll need to nail down are:

• Whether to use the real world versus a slightly altered world versus completely new and different world
• Set in current times, or in the past or future, or in another “age” altogether
• Within the world you choose, does the character live in a small town or city

Next up? Some important questions to ask yourself as you wrestle with these issues.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Monday Morning

For the last week I have been pulled in about eight different directions, but with two revisions due soon, and presentations to plan for, I really need to get focused. This weekend I finished up the wretched FAFSA forms. Any parent with college age offspring will recognize that dreaded name. For the uninitiated, they are basically the financial equivalent of a proctology exam.

Now that I’ve got all that done, I plan to crawl into my writerly hidey hole for the net two weeks and really roll up my sleeves. That means minimal cooking, stop reading so much dang news, which is very distracting right now with all the forecasts of doom and gloom, cut back on blog reading, the works. I do still plan to come back here though, and talk about setting, so stay tuned for that.

And here’s something I’ve been pondering today. Why is it that even when you have a song on your iPod and can listen to it any time you want, it is such a cheerful little boost to hear it on the radio?