new blog! book giveaway!

I’m ready to direct you all to my new blog at www.alisalibby.com/blog where I will be posting from now on. Yes, it looks just like this wordpress blog, but it is hosted by my website. The new blog also has a “follow” option that wordpress doesn’t offer. And right now, I have no followers. How sad! How lonely this little blog must be!

Here is where you can help me out. Click on the link above and click the “Join this site” widget in the right hand menu. Sign up to follow my blog, and you will be entered into a FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY! Here is what I have for you, so far:

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick
Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick (hardcover)

And, of course, signed copies of The King’s Rose and The Blood Confession.

Just go to www.alisalibby.com/blog and follow the blog. I’ll give these books (and maybe more) away to some lucky followers. And I promise to write informative posts about writing and publishing and the whole shebang. And if I’m not feeling entertaining I’ll post a muppet video, or some other nonsense. Anything to keep you happy. It’s a win-win.

Published in: on December 13, 2010 at 6:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

how to prepare for a revision

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed at the thought of re-reading and revising one of my works in progress. The good news is that I finally have some time off to work on this book, which is truly a blessing. The bad news: that means that instead of picking away consistently at the revision over the course of months, I’ll be attempting to crunch the entire revision into about two weeks. Not pretty.

You’ve all heard this story before: I get uber-excited about the stretch of time, then weeks later I’m disappointed with what I accomplished. Damaging to the fragile writer ego, I can tell you that much. So, how does one prepare for some hard core revisioning?

1. READ THE DARN BOOK. Before my break actually starts, ideally. Christmas week will likely be busy with family and friends, but I can still read, take notes, start my revision plan.

2. FIND MAGIC. Of the three projects I’ve had churning in my head all year, this one has been around the longest: it’s a YA contemporary fantasy that pulled me out of writer’s block and has already undergone major revisions. I haven’t looked at it since this summer when I shared it with my writing group. I really don’t know what I’ll find. This makes me nervous and anxious – but maybe it will be okay. This book has stuck around for a while. I just need to tap into the magic that made me want to write it, and rewrite it.

3. MUSIC & BOOKS. I need to get myself excited and motivated for this revision. Music is a great way to do that. (Listening the Bowie’s “Joe the Lion” at full volume, I feel like I can do pretty much anything.) Also, I’m reading other books right now to give my brain a break before forging into my own work.

4. WHEN IN DOUBT, BAKE COOKIES. A couple weeks from now I’ll be writing posts about focus and perserverence. But it’s still a holiday, right? I’ll need a break now and then.

And most of all, let’s try and have some fun with our writing, shall we? See here, a lesson in enthusiasm, courtesy of The Muppet Show:

Published in: on December 7, 2010 at 12:36 am  Comments (1)  
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ballerinas. fairy tales. love. madness.

Yes, that’s right! This post is very late, due to some technical blog issues. I won’t bore you with the details. We have more important things to discuss: ballerinas! fairy tales! love! madness!

Yes, indeed. This week I read Adrienne Sharp’s novel, First Love – a story of two 20-year old ballet dancers: Adam, his career soaring to fame and glory with the American Ballet Theater, and Sandra, a corp ballet dancer with the American School of Ballet, dreaming that the legendary George Balanchine choose her as his muse. Which, in the case of this fiction, he does. I would have liked more description of what this was like for Sandra: the transformation from background player (sometimes made to stand still for so long that her feet fell asleep) to  prima ballerina. But alas, I devoured this book – particularly the first two thirds of it – with relish.

It’s conjured up a lot of thoughts about art, and the creation of art. Do you have to dig deep into your emotional core for art – or do you steel yourself to emotion, distance yourself from that rawness, in order to perform? Or both? Oddly, this concept made me think of the Joyce Carol Oates novella Beasts, in which women in a writing class dredge up their darkest hours in a strange competition of truth and beauty in writing.

In First Love, everyone has their own version of reality: is art their real life, or an escape from it? “Their real life was lived in the theatre.” There is risk in this – losing family and human connection along the way, all sacrificed for the sake of their ambition. How do you find a balance, when – especially with an art form so all-consuming as dancing, and so fleeting – your art demands so much?

On that note, let’s enjoy a little Sleeping Beauty:

Published in: on December 4, 2010 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

must. stop. eating. turkey.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday – or a weekend, if you aren’t inclined to celebrating over a roasted bird. I had a fun day with family, topped off perfectly by a quiet night at home: Tom writing his Christmas cards while I read Volume 2 of the Buffy comic, No Future for You, with frequent giggling. I’ve also been devouring First Love by Adrienne Sharp – filled with addictive descriptions of pretty ballet dancers obsessed with their demanding craft. Gorgeous!

I’m also doing some blog work: I’m moving the hosting of this blog, so I will post when the address changes. Hopefully soon. At which point I hope to celebrate – perhaps with a book giveaway, just in time for the holidays!

Published in: on November 28, 2010 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

I’m taking music recommendations from Daniel Radcliffe. I have a problem.

I’ve got two busy days at work, and then it’s Thanksgiving break – one of my favorite holidays. Why? Because it’s all about food and family; no expectations of gifts to complicate things.

That said, what are my plans for this mini-break? Baking and cooking items of the orange variety, apparently – yams, sweet potatoes, maybe some carrots. And reading. Finish my re-read of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (so nice to savor it). Next: YA novels, books about writing, mythology, light holiday fare with ladies in pretty dresses, Buffy comics…a wonderful mess of things await.

And all the while, I’m conjuring. I’ve been resisting the urge to start working on my outline. If I submit to writing now, I might not get a lot of reading done. So many good books out there that I can enjoy, learn from. But even if I don’t sit at the computer, the wheels are still turning. It’s a good feeling – but I think I should develop the idea a bit more before I sit down and write. Until then, I have much to distract myself. Maybe I’ll go see the new Harry Potter movie (again – I’m sure I’ll blog about this at some point; I can’t resist).

Speaking of which, thanks to this American Libraries article with Daniel Radcliffe – http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/columns/newsmaker/daniel-radcliffe – I now listen to Florence and the Machine. Thank you, Daniel.

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain –and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Robert Frost

Published in: on November 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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conjuring

Conjuring, contemplating, pondering…writing is sort of like gathering the ingredients for a magic spell. Or a cake. But more like a magic spell, because you don’t really know what you’ll have when all the ingredients are combined. Like baking a cake and opening the oven and finding a cornish game hen in there. That’s sort of what it’s like.

Here’s what I’ve had in my head for the past week:

I find music hugely inspiring to the creative process. This song sparked something in regards to a new project I would like to work on (when I finally have the time). It’s not like I’ve figured out what should happen in the murky middle, or that I’ve figured out all of the plot points. Nothing that concrete. But I can see them, these characters, these kids, when I listen to this song. They are on a quest. To where, I do not know. But right now the sun is shining on their faces, and they are walking toward their destiny. They know as much about it as I do. We’ll take this quest together.

Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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a brief respite

My revision is, for now, done. Meaning: this stage of revision is done. The book is not done, nowhere near done. I have no idea how much I have left to do. As you’ve probably gathered from previous posts, this revision has left me utterly depleted. So what’s a weary writer to do?

Enjoying our new obsession: Sherlock on PBS, a contemporary reboot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels (the actor playing John Watson was also in the original British version of The Office). I’ve also been watching a fascinating show about the Big Apple Circus. And reading. The table in front of me is piled with books: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (must re-read and savor before seeing the movie); Folklore, Mythology and Legend; The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology (my favorite). Notebook and pen close at hand, and a list of books, a pile of books, and more books on request from the library.

While I am relieved to take a break from revising, I am feeling restless. I feel guilty when I’m not actively working on a book – but I need to allow time for things to percolate. PBS had better broadcast more Sherlock; in the meantime I’ll have to distract myself with John Watson’s blog.

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 11:28 pm  Comments (2)  
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it’s friday

It’s Friday, kittens. Time to get out our tamborines!

I hope that all of you brave NaNoWriMo souls are still typing away vigorously, showing that word count who’s the boss around here. I’m trying to decide if I should send some pages to my writing group…or perhaps contemplate said pages for a while. And apparently by contemplate I mean watch Stevie Wonder videos on youtube. But did I mention that it’s Friday? So it’s all good.

Published in: on November 12, 2010 at 8:26 pm  Comments (1)  

I can’t find a photo of the kid in the bucket. You’ll have to go the Peabody Essex Museum.

This weekend we visited the lovely Peabody Essex Museum. It made me hungry for another trip to the MFA in Boston. I was entertained by unformed novel ideas popping into my head as we looked at maritime portraits, merchants’ china, models of ships. (“Yes, you are a very intriguing beginning. But what happens next?” I asked these ideas. They had no answer.)

My favorite really enjoyed the Yin Yu Tang house, transported from China (click on the site – you can explore the house online!). The rooms were quite small, but people had fewer belongings back then so there wasn’t any clutter. Everything seemed very purposeful, thoughtful, designed according to feng-shui and spirituality, prosperity, all of those good things (as opposed to whatever is available at IKEA). But life wasn’t idyllic; in the audio tour, a new bride accounted being brought to the family and basically acting as a servant to her new in-laws. (Chamberpots here involved). However, they also had a genius contraption called a “child minder”. Basically a tall bucket in which you put your child while you tend to your daily tasks. Yup.

In other news, today’s First Page Panda is Freestyle by Monica S. Baker. It involves a dream portal and time travel. Awesome!

Published in: on November 10, 2010 at 5:24 pm  Comments (2)  
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