Thursday, February 25, 2010
I have people who send me emails to check up on me when I'm having rough days.
I have people who send me DMs to tell me they randomly thought of my book and how much they want to read it, or how they can't wait to see the cover.
I have people who send me care packages with various forms of chocolate.
I have people who give me killer pep talks, and people who put up with my rants, and people who offer endless digital hugs and support. (Nicole, Tye, Rachel, Scott, Leah, Tiff, Suze, Courtney, Daisy, Emily, Linda, the list goes on...)
This is one of those incredible people.
Vania Stoyanova is an incredibly talented friend and photographer, whose work you might have seen around the web. If you haven't come across it yet, you will. She did the book trailer for Beautiful Creatures, and for Prophecy of the Sisters, as well as The Body Finder and others. She also did that fabulous photo for The Near Witch.
Vania has always been a wonderful source of smiles and support.
A couple weeks back, Vania sent me this three massive prints from her Near Witch photo shoot and I giggled and bounced around. And then last week, she sent me a cupcake-themed care package, complete with an emergency chocolate kit. I almost cried. Not because I love cupcakes, which I do, but because this kind of support is something I've been lucky enough to encounter, not just from Vania (but man is she good at it :p) but from many people.
I was having a hard time of it the past couple weeks, between grad school drama (it looks like I'm not going for the MFA, enabling course correction now), and waiting on edits and a few other key pieces of news, and so many people stepped forward to make me smile. They're my cheerleaders. I don't know what I did to deserve them, but I'm thankful every day. Vania is just one of them, but she cheers so loud that I can't help but smile.
And thanks, everyone.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The fairy dance was in full swing.
Tye walked right up to the black-lipped fey, and crossed her arms.
“Child, child,” hissed the one who’d stolen Tye from her bed. “What do you wish for?” And this time the echo was in Tye’s head, and not aloud. What do you wish for?
The music swirled around her limbs, easing the strain of sitting by the tree all day, but Tye focused and formed the words.
“Turn me into a tree,” she said. “So I can sit with Rohan, and not grow stiff or hungry or tired.”
The black-lipped fairy’s smile tightened, and her eyes narrowed. The light glowed beneath her skin, and the air around her warmed. And then her face changed, and she was all sharp teeth with her broad black smile.
“How about a bird?” she cooed.
“Birds need food. And birds must fly. I wish to be a tree.”
“Be a bird or be a girl,” hissed the black-lipped fairy. “Fly when you must and see if you can find your way back.”
Tye frowned. “Very well,” she said, at last.
And with that the black-lipped fairy curled her hands around Tye’s shoulders. She kissed her forehead, and her nose, and her hands, and stepped back, lifting one long sharp hand.
“Shoo now birdy,” she said, slipping back onto her rock.
A sharp gust of wind cut through, forcing Tye back, and the up, and up, through the trees and over, until she looked down on the black forest in the black, black night.
Tye circled the woods until morning, and when the sun rose she ducked into the canopy and searched and searched for the tree with the red ribbon on its branch. When at last she found it, she crumpled onto the branch beside the swatch of cloth, exhausted. Fatigue crept through her feathers, and she embraced it. It was the best kind of tired in the whole world. And there as dawn spread, nestled between branch and trunk, tucked beneath Rohan’s red ribbon, Tye fell asleep.
The fabric fell away.
The world was burning.
Or so it seemed to Rohan’s unused eyes. A wash of orange and blue and black. As Rohan blinked seven years of haze away, he began to see the lines of trees, the orange sky filtering through every gap in the forest. He caught his breath. The world flooded in, brighter than it had ever been before, more beautiful. And for a moment Rohan was just a child, sitting on his family’s fence, trying to stretch himself wide enough to hold it all.
“Isn’t it worth it?” came Tye’s voice behind him. “Isn’t it better this way?”
He turned, half-expecting to see the black-lipped faery, smirking and victorious. But all he saw was a girl. The edges of her dark hair glowed in the sunset, and her eyes were a dozen different colors, but human, hazel, not alive with tiny fires like the fairies.
“It is,” he whispered, half-expecting to die right there. But he didn’t. He turned back to the sunset, and took several long breaths before Tye’s hands wrapped around his shoulders. She kissed the slope of his neck, letting her chin rest there as she watched the world burn with him. When the last light had bled away, the music started. Faint and far-off, the strands of it gathered, tangled, and the forest around him began to shift and change, glowing with moonlight and magic. Tye tipped her head in the direction of the dance.
“Do you want to?”
At first Rohan thought to pull away, to run to the farthest edge of the forest and close his eyes. But then, he nodded.
“I want to live. As much as I can, before it’s over,” he said. “I want to take it all in.”
And then Tye smiled, and her smile was as many shades as her eyes, sadness and contentment and something like fear but not quite. She wove her fingers through his, and led him toward the fairy dance.
Seven years had passed, but the fairy ring looked just the same.
The same wicked fey all spun and twirled and cracked and hissed and glowed like fireflies. The sounds changed when Rohan stepped in to the ring, a hundred pairs of faery eyes all finding him. Smiles grew longer.
“Young Rohan Black,” came a voice from a rock, and Rohan turned to find the black-lipped faery. Her voice echoed in his head. Tye’s fingers tightened on his, and the faery’s eyes found the girl. Her smile sharpened.
“Come dance, come dance,” she cooed, and leaned back against the stone.
And Tye and Rohan did. At one point Tye pulled him close, and said, “Let it in.”
And then she tipped her head back and they spun and the music seemed to fill him, all bread and honey and water and warm blankets. And Tye, like a cool salve in a burning room, soothing him. Her touch, her voice, it coated him against the world on fire. She laughed and it was a perfect sound, so unlike the fairies, so human. And Rohan ached for losing seven years, he ached because he’d missed the world so much, and now he had it back. Something filled him and it wasn’t anger, and it wasn’t fear. And he didn’t bother planting any hate against it. He just danced.
When dawn came near, the music faded and the faeries broke apart like dandelions, dancing into the waning dark. The black-lipped one was the last to go, and she only smiled and tipped her head, and vanished.
Tye and Rohan let their feet slow. Rohan felt fatigue brush over him, and he welcomed it. It was a wonderful, full kind of tired, earned by living. He felt his legs give way, and sank to the forest floor. It was the best kind of tired in the whole world.
And whether it was Tye, or the tiredness, or the fire touching the edges of the world, it was at that moment that Rohan’s feet began to sink into the soil. The tiredness spread as the roots did, slowing his blood, hardening his skin. Little by little the bark overtook him. Little by little, so slow and calm it felt like sleep.
Rohan’s eyes found Tye’s, and he managed to blink and smile before the light in his eyes went out.
Tye sat beside the tree for a very long time, running her fingers over the roots, tracing them up over the bark. She hummed to herself, a soft, slow song that no one knew but her, one she did not even have a name for. It was a song sung to her from her child’s bed, before the faeries stole her into the forest. It was a song that made her ache inside, the way Rohan’s stillness made her ache. It was the only thing she knew to do, since she couldn’t bring herself to leave him, despite his company of trees.
She sat beside him as the sun crossed the sky beyond the forest, and the shadows grew short and then long again.
Finally the night came, and Tye pushed herself to her feet, stiff and tired. She pulled Rohan’s blindfold from her pocket (she’d kept it as a token), and wrapped it around one of the lowest branches, so she wouldn’t lose him. And then she went to find the fairy circle.
[will post the final part tomorrow]
Monday, February 22, 2010
That night Rohan dreamed in color.
Emerald trees, and pre-dawn light, and worlds on fire. He woke up with his chest hurting, and the old sense of something breaking inside. The pain left a bad taste in his mouth, and his fingers shook as he tried to keep them from peeling the blindfold off and flinging it away. The fairy girl’s words had burrowed down into his cracking self. What kind of life is that?
He shook the words away, brushed himself off, and stood. His legs felt heavy, and his eyes pricked in a strange way, as if straining to see through the blindfold for the first time in years. He ached with want of color.
Rohan growled, the feeling shrank back, and he went off through the forest.
The day was warm, and as it faded he could feel the air cooling on his skin. I like this, he thought of that narrow frame of day when the air is just perfect. I like…he swallowed it, leaning back against his tree, his hand wandering up to his chest.
“Don’t look so sad,” came the fairy’s voice. Something in Rohan brightened, to his surprise, as if he’d been waiting, hoping she’d come back.
“You’ve ruined it,” he said to the girl.
“How so?” asked Tye, and this time her voice was inches from him.
“We plant seeds, and they grow. We plant them in the ground and get flowers. We plant them in the mind and get weeds. I just planted a question. You let it spread.”
“I was doing fine.”
“No you weren’t,” she said simply, her fingertips skimming his face. Her skin was cooler than most faeries. This time he didn’t shrink from her touch. He fought the urge to lean in, the way his mind kept leaning toward her words.
“Who are you?” he asked, his voice quieter, almost soft. “You’re not like the other fairies.”
“I’m not a fairy. Not really. They stole me away when I was a child, and gave me treats and trinkets, and bid me stay.”
“And you just did? Just gave up everything?”
Her fingers fells away.
“You of all should know, turning away faeries isn’t so simple.”
A drop of water touched his ear, but then he realized it was a kiss.
“Take off the blindfold,” she whispered. “It isn’t worth it, like this.”
It isn’t worth it, the words echoed.
“How can I trust you?” Rohan asked.
“What does trust have to do with it?” she asked, and he could almost see her expression, in his mind, young but pensive. “It’s not my life, it’s yours. But the sunset tonight is so pretty. It looks like the world is on fire.”
The thing in Rohan broke. He brought his shaking fingers to the knotted fabric, but couldn’t get the knot undone.
“Help me,” he whispered, hoping that by keeping his voice so low he could hide the fear and excitement blossoming on his tongue.
Tye’s fingers found their way up his neck to the knot and deftly undid it.
The fabric fell away.
[To be continued...]
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Rohan Black lasted seven years.
He came to know the world by touch. His hands skimmed the trees as he passed through them, fingers dancing over the bark. And he reminded himself that he hated the roughness, just a little. Rohan had learned to keep a kernel of hate in him, for every little thing, so that he would not grow to love it.
At night he’d hear the fairies snicker, and in the distance, the weaving music of the dance. He’d head the other way are as far as he could without leaving the forest. He could find it in himself to hate this place, the woods that drew him in on fire, that were the reason for his curse. But Rohan feared that out there, in the world he’d left, there would be too many things to love. Love, the word made his chest tighten. A wicked word, or at least a word made wicked.
One day at dusk—he could tell by the smell, and the way the forest sounds shifted, and darkness felt different on skin, like dew—he heard a voice.
“What kind of boy wears a blindfold?” It was a girl’s voice, or so it seemed, neither quiet nor musical but loud, with a kind of electricity.
“Who are you?” asked Rohan, tipping his head in the direction of the voice.
She didn’t answer right away, instead began to move in a circle around him. The girl had a way of walking, seeming to touch the ground only with her toes, skipping over the surface of the world the way rocks skip over water. Rohan could tell, just by the sound of her movement, that she wasn’t human.
“Fairy,” he said, “don’t toy with me.”
“So harsh, your tone,” the girl chided, dancing in a circle around the boy, her fingertips skimming his shoulders, his neck. Rohan straightened. Her fingers brushed against his blindfold, and his hand shot up and closed around her wrist.
“Not that,” he warned. The fairy flexed her hand in his, and he let go.
“Why would anyone blind themselves in such a gorgeous place?” she asked, but there was a hint of something in her voice, a kind of bitterness, as if she could think of several reasons.
“Take it off,” she said.
“If I do, I’ll die.”
“If I take it off, I’ll see things. Eventually I’ll love them. And then maybe I’ll fall in love with them. And then I’ll die.”
The girl shifted her weight.
“A curse?” she asked.
“So you keep the blindfold on so you won’t fall in love with anything.”
“You keep it on to stay alive.”
Again he nodded.
“But what kind of a life is it?” She took a few steps back, and he could feel the weight of her eyes on him. “I don’t think you’re living, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Take it off.”
“You’re trying to trick me, Fairy.”
“I’m not,” she said, “and my name is Tye.”
“What do I care a Fairy’s name?” he spat.
She gave a half-choked laugh.
“What do I care if you live or die?” And with that he heard her turn and trudge off.
Rohan took a deep breath, and let it out as the night settled around him. Tricks, all fairy tricks, he thought, and found a large smooth rock to settle on. He sat on the edge and tried to find a seed of hate for Tye. For her voice, and her skimming touch, and the way her steps sounded like rain drops. He took each thing he knew of her and make sure he hated it, just a little. And then he went to sleep.
[to be continued...]
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The black-lipped fairy smiled.
“Why me?” he asked, his chin tipped up defiantly between the fairy’s fingers.
“We are wicked things,” the fey said, “and we like to be amused. Whether you last a day or a week, this game shall certainly amuse us.”
“What game?” asked Rohan, feeling smaller as the fires of the fey grew tall and towered over him. The black-lipped one came close, the heat dripping from her touch. But when he tried to step back again the ground shifted and saplings grew, up around his legs and held him fast. The other fey became a rustling wall of “game” and “play” and other murmured words repeated menacingly.
Rohan tried to peel himself back, to lean away from the fairy’s touch, but the binds grew up his back and over his shoulders and held him fast. The black-lipped fairy drew close, close enough to kiss him.
They say the fairies can look into your eyes and know what you want most. And that is why if you ever find yourself so close, you must never look at them straight on. But poor Rohan. His eyes found hers, and she smiled.
“This world is beautiful,” said the fairy, and this time her voice didn’t echo. This time the line was loud and clear and sharp enough that Rohan winced.
“This world is filled with things to love.”
And then she kissed each of his ears.
“Love yourself, or love another.”
And each ear.
“Or love the ground, or the sinking sun.”
Then his lips.
“Love until you fall in love.” And these words she said with her lips on his. “Until you feel you’ll break apart from loving…”
And when her eyes, small lights dancing in them, found his again, she said, louder now for the group of chanting fairies to hear:
“The first thing you fall in love with, be it the sun through the trees, or the vibrant and always changing leaves, or a girl, or a day, will be your last. And you shall be a tree in our forest.”
The fairies hissed and cracked with joy. And the black-lipped fairy stepped back, smirking, her head tipped to one side
“How long will you last, Rohan Black?”
The sapling binds vanished. A faint glow poured into the forest, the first sign of a far-off dawn. With the snap of a twig, the faeries disappeared.
Rohan felt something crack inside him, a strange pain that had nothing to do with his aching body. He slipped to the forest floor. The light began to shift and spread, tinting the forest with soft color. The day was just beginning to warm, that lovely air just cool enough to remind you of the magic at the seam between night and day. Young Rohan noticed all these things, and then remember the words in the fairy’s game. Could one really fall in love with the world? The crack inside him deepened. And behind it, something hard, a child’s stubborn will. He would not lose the fairy’s game. He would last.
Rohan took one last look at the moss, and the trees, and the first signs of day. And then he tore a strip from his shirt, a dark red cloth, and bound his eyes against it all.
[to be continued]
Friday, February 19, 2010
The World on Fire
(A short story for Tye Cattenach created at odd intervals and with little logic but much whimsy, by Victoria Schwab).
Rohan Black was just a boy when he wandered off.
He was a passionate child, and he spent most of him time just trying to take the world in, as if he could open his eyes wide enough, or listen close enough, and stretch himself to hold it. And so one evening he sat on the fence by his family’s home, watching the sun sink down the edge of the sky. It seemed to set the nearby trees on fire, grazing the tips of every leaf, and haloing the woods. The world looked like it was burning. Young Rohan could not bear to sit still in the middle of the blaze, so he hopped off the fence, and headed straight for the forest.
Rohan tumbled through the places between trees, his bare feet sliding over moss and wet earth. Again and again he stumbled, all because he could not bring himself to look down. The forest around him and above him was as green as emeralds, flecked with sunlight, a world so alive and glittering that the young boy could hardly bring his eyes to settle on a single place.
And so he stumbled and tumbled and crawled deeper and deeper into the forest.
Now, the forest fey are wicked things.
The woods brim with life and fuel their spirits, and their dancing, and their mischief. And all who live by the forest know never to follow the sounds of music that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere. If you get caught on a thread of it, you must hurry toward quiet, and light, and sparser trees. For once it wraps itself around you, like the shimmering colors it draws you in, draws you deeper, into the darker parts of the forest.
It was growing late, and all the colors crept towards shadow, and Rohan was tired and lost, and so it is not surprising that when the music found him and began to weave around his arms and legs, he did not think to turn away. The music made colors behind his eyes, and it began to drag him through the trees. But to the small, lost boy the thicker woods seemed warmer, more alive.
And so he followed.
He followed the forest to the fairy ring.
Set in a circle of trees, on a floor swept clean of stones and sticks and paved with moss, the faeries all were dancing. The world around was dim but each wicked fey glowed with their own strange light, one that wound beneath their skin like fireflies. Poor Rohan watched, and found his body loosening, unraveling. His joints grew soft, and his eyes grew heavy, and he found himself slipping onto a rock and watching the dance. He was so hungry, and the music seemed like bread and honey and water and warm blankets all at once.
For the second time the world was on fire, this time with magic. It was a moment Rohan would have liked to last forever, but it stopped short when a stick-thin faery danced over to the boy, and laid her lips, without a word, on his. Rohan meant to pull back, for he didn’t like girls, was still too young to crave their touch, but before he could the fairy’s lips slipped away and he found himself looking into mischievous eyes. Eyes that were a dozen colors at once.
“Lookie you,” she said, and without another word she pulled him to his feet and took him onto the moss floor. He wanted to protest, to say that his legs were too tired, his arms were too heavy, but somehow all of it vanished from his lips and mind. He let her sweep him around the faery ring.
Just as he was sliding into the rhythm, the same way he had slid into the haze of it on his rock seat, again he was wrenched away. Away from peace and bliss and magic, as the fairy girl stopped hard and fast and Rohan ran into her, and winced. The stickish girl felt as if she was made of stones, heavy, sharp edges that dug into his skin. He rubbed his shoulder and looked up to see why they had stopped.
“How fun, how fun,” said a larger fey with painted black lips. He looked around but the fairy who’d danced with him was nowhere to be found. The music was louder and the night darker, so that every fairy glowed twice as bright, their edges blurring. His head swam.
“What’s this, what’s this,” said the fey, and Rohan couldn’t tell if she said everything twice or if he heard the echo in his head.
“A game, a game!” said the fairy, smiling her black-lipped smile. Suddenly there were others gathered round, and Rohan felt very aware of the fact the he was the only one not glowing.
“Let’s play, let’s play.”
“Play what?” he asked, finding his voice for the first time all night.
“With you, with you.” And when she said this Rohan took a small step back. He felt warm and he realized that the fairies were circling round, all glowing like match tips, and for the third time he felt like the world was on fire.
[to be continued tomorrow]
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
This week I'm taking on the topic of "Hardest Scenes to Write" over at the YARebels. As usual, you can see the video below or via the link.
But I'm also curious to hear your thoughts. Our Monday Rebel said major climaxes, Tuesday said the quiet, in-between scenes, and I say scenes involving death/loss.
What are the hardest things for YOU to write?
If you can't see the video, you can go HERE.
Friday, February 5, 2010
So, my week in NYC was a crazy mix of work and fun and awesome and a little stress and a TON of sugar!! I was lucky enough to be there with three of my closest writing buds, Tiffany Schmidt, Susan Adrian, and Emily Hainsworth.
There was much play, from the Empire State Building at 1am, to Dylan's Candy Bar, to fun lunches and drinks night, and cocktails with pub friends, to Hitchcock and Rainbow Brite viewings, and converting the closet into a phone booth, complete with chair. We even kidnapped the wonderful author Nova Ren Suma, and made her signed books in there!
I was also lucky enough to have an incredible high tea with a friend who is fast becoming one of my favorite people. And I got to meet Alex Bracken, who is ADORABLE! I also met Sonia Gensler, Shana Silver, Kim Harrington, Jen Hayley, and many, many others!
And after SCWBI, my mom flew up and we played for a few days. We took morning walks in Central Par, ate most of NYC's sushi, drank pear martinis, went to the Tim Burton exhibit, and saw West Side Story on Broadway!
And I got to see my agent, Amy! AND my editor, Abby! I call these two my A Team, and they've totally earned the title. Neither has a Mohawk, or a giant silver chain, but they rock just as hard. I am so incredibly lucky to have them. And they put up with my constant sugar high speak, which is admirable :p
NYC by the numbers!
Cupcakes consumed: 4 (+ 3 mini ones)
Times to Dylan's: 2
Chocolate bars bought: 14
Times to the Strand: 3
Books amassed: 12 (9 bought, two given by editor, one given by tea friend)
Times I saw agent: 2!
Times I saw editor: 1! <--first time!
# of hot chocolates consumed with said editor: 1
Pieces of news to share: 1
So, my little piece of news isn't terribly exciting, but I found out my pub date. I can't give you the date yet, but I needed to make a correction. I had said before I was a WINTER 2011 debut, and I am now a SUMMER 2011 debut. Originally I believed Winter to be at the BEGINNING of Hyperion's year, but actually it was at the end, so I wasn't pushed back, I was bumped up! Anyway, wanted to clarify.
My mom jokingly said "You've finally found your people," in reference to all the wonderful bookish people I got to see and share my time with, and I couldn't agree more.
So now I'm home, and trying to detox and not think about how much I'd love to still be there, in the city, sipping cocoa and walking for hours and finding new worlds within slices of city. At a time in my life where I feel very much up in the air, where I feel like I could just change or morph or wander off at a moment's notice, it was hard to leave. I am sure that the city's strange gravity will draw me back.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
If you can't see the video, click HERE.
All right, I suppose I better get dressed! There's a city out there.