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Wintry Mix

Originally published at Jacqueline West. You can comment here or there.

Freezing rain and fog here in Minnesota, with the roads so treacherous that schools are closed. I’d much rather have an actual blizzard…but a flurry of words and links and news will have to do.

First things first: The advance reading copies of The Books of Elsewhere, Volume Four: The Strangers have arrived at my house in their excitingly heavy box!  If you (or someone you know) is a book blogger or reviewer, and you would like an ARC of The Strangers, contact me in the comments or email me at jacqueline@jacquelinewest.com.  Obviously, quantities are limited, but I will guarantee a copy for the first three reviewer-respondents.

(For now, this offer is for bloggers/reviewers only.  I will very likely do a giveaway for readers in a few more weeks, so stay tuned!)

Speaking of book bloggers, two great reviews of The Second Spy appeared on Book Nut and Book ‘Em! Huge thanks to everyone who is spreading the word in this way.

I learned that The Second Spy was nominated for the 2012 Cybils Awards, as well as for the Minnesota Book Awards.  It isn’t a finalist for either, but both awards have been very kind to The Books of Elsewhere in the past, and truly fantastic books are on both lists.

The Second Spy also got a mention (and its picture!) in Publishers Weekly, in an article on holiday book sales.

My spring travel schedule is about to get really crazy, with more events being added all the time.   Keep an eye on http://jacquelinewest.com/appearance-calendar.php, if you’re interested.  This weekend, I’m off to booksALIVE! in Panama City, Florida.  So long, freezing rain.  Hello, Emerald Coast.

 

Volume Four

Originally published at Jacqueline West. You can comment here or there.

Here it is The Books of Elsewhere, Volume Four: The Strangers.

“It’s Halloween. But not for Morton, who’s trapped in Elsewhere. Good thing Olive has a plan: Swallowing her dread of the McMartins, she sneaks Morton out and takes everyone trick-or-treating. But when they’re followed by a creature who’s not all he seems, they’re in for a surprise—something, or someone, is living in Mrs. Nivens’s abandoned house. Yes, strangers have come to Linden Street. And though they claim to be her allies, Olive has a bad feeling. She returns home late Halloween night to discover something worse: Her parents are gone.

Desperate to get them back, Olive strikes an unbalanced bargain with Annabelle McMartin and loses something incredibly valuable in the process—something that could mean doom for the house, and for Elsewhere itself. Turning to her uncertain allies, Olive attempts to sever the McMartins’ power at its root, unleashing a flood of darkness and terror that could overwhelm not only her, but the house and everyone in it. To mend her mistakes, Olive must determine who to trust. Will she put her faith in her own worst enemies to save the people and the home she loves?”

Release date: July 16, 2013.

(You can pre-order it now from Amazon.  I’ll post links when pre-order is available on IndieBound and other venues.)

More cool news: Audiobooks of The Strangers AND The Second Spy will also be released on July 16, 2013, in downloadable format (no CDs this time).

And now, the wait.  Good thing I’ve got Volume Five to keep me busy.

The multi-talented Matt Myklusch (of the Jack Blank trilogy) and I are both lucky enough to be clients of agent Chris Richman.  Matt and I recently chatted for his podcast, The Other Side of the Story, which is rich with behind-the-scenes info and anecdotes.  You can listen to our conversation here.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is coming home to a huge pile of mail.  Here are two of the best things that were waiting for me on our return from NYC: A thank-you card fr0m readers at Fairmount School, and my Cybils Award for The Shadows, a gorgeous fountain pen in a carved wooden case.

 

 

 

Vagabond Shoes

Originally published at Jacqueline West. You can comment here or there.

We spent Thanksgiving in New York City with Ryan’s family.  It was Ryan’s first visit, and my first non-book-whirlwind visit, so we had time for some sightseeing and bagel-fueled street-wandering: The Metropolitan Museum, Central Park, the Museum of Natural History.  Since coming home, we’ve been playing the game of watching our favorite New York-based shows and squealing “We’ve been there!” whenever something familiar appears on the screen.

One of my favorite stops was the New York Public Library, naturally.

Finding my third book in the Children’s Center.  The first volume was checked out, which made me even happier.

With the stuffed animals that belonged to the real Christopher Robin and inspired A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories.  You probably can’t see it, but I am crying.  (How small the real Piglet is!  And how shirtless the Pooh!)

Now I’m back in my own very quiet house, hard at work on Volume Five.

A very sweet new review of The Books of Elsewhere can be found here.

And if you’d like to take the reviewer’s suggestion and get some (signed!) copies of The Books of Elsewhere for the readers on your holiday list, I’ll be at the Thank-You Celebration at the Red Wing Public Library from 5:00 – 6:00 on Friday, December 7, selling and signing The Shadows, Spellbound, and The Second Spy. (Of course, if you already have copies of your own and just want them signed, you can bring those too.)

Big news about Volume Four to follow very soon…

 

Hey, Winona! (Not you, Ryder.)

Originally published at Jacqueline West. You can comment here or there.

This Sunday–November 18th–I’ll be a guest at Kids Day, part of a special open house event at The Book Shelf in Winona, Minnesota. If you’re in the area, or if you know anyone who is, please spread the word! (Now would be a great time to stock up on holiday gifts from a fantastic independent bookstore. Just saying.) I’ll be reading, signing books, chatting, and bringing supplies for some Books of Elsewhere-related art and writing projects. The event goes on all weekend, but I’ll be there from 10:00 – 11:30ish on Sunday only. Or, to put all of this another way:

I’d love to see you there.

“Under the Bed” had its premiere and its closing in quick succession (that’s how it goes when there are only two performances), and I got to attend both.  The students, staff, and families who helped out with the production at Twin Bluff Middle School did amazing work, and the audience seemed to love it, and I’m still hearing nice things from people around town.  I didn’t take any photos of the set or of the cast in costume, but if I can find someone else who did, I’ll post some images here.

And while I’m talking about past events, another huge thank you to the kids, teachers, and volunteers at Mosinee Middle School, who hosted me last week.  It was a joy.  Same goes for the kids at Fairmount School in Downer’s Grove, IL, who I got to visit with via Skype yesterday.  I’m one lucky writer.

I should have some big Books of Elsewhere news to share in the very near future, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, if you’ve been enjoying the books, please consider writing a review at Amazon.com (or Goodreads, if you’re a Goodreads-user.  A Goodreader?).  This kind of individual recommendation can mean a lot.  It certainly does to me.

Originally published at Jacqueline West. You can comment here or there.

Behold: This year’s jack-o-lanterns.  We carved them with friends on Saturday, and mine is already starting to look a bit backward-leaning and droopy (it’s the one that appears to depict a cat crossed with a chubby lizard), but Ryan’s creepy face just gets creepier as it shrivels.

If anyone’s looking for a last-minute literary costume, check out Books Together.  There you’ll find step-by-step instructions for assembling your own Olive Dunwoody costume, and links to several other book-based costume ideas.  (You can also enter to win a set of seven fantastic Halloweeny books published by Penguin, including The Shadows!  Go!  Go NOW!)

Speaking of giveaways: the Facebook All Hallow’s Read giveaway ended this morning, and I’ve contacted the randomly selected winner.  (I asked entrants to name the fictional character they’d least like to encounter in real life, and there were a slew of great responses: multiple mentions of Cthulu and Count Olaf, as well as votes for Randall Flagg of Stephen King creation, Commander Woundwart from Watership Down, Eric Cartman (I agree–he’s terrifying), and Snooki.)  Thanks, everyone.

Poetry news:  My poem, “Wendigo in the 21st Century,” was a finalist for this year’s SFPA poetry contest.  You can read the winners and see the full list here.  The SFPA is also hosting a Halloween poetry reading; visit their Halloween page to hear me reading my Rhysling-nominated poem, “Escaping the Dawn” or to listen to other great poems and poets.

And, finally, my super-cool new t-shirt:

(Here’s the local paper’s write-up.)  Two days until showtime…

Originally published at Jacqueline West. You can comment here or there.

Behold: This year’s jack-o-lanterns.  We carved them with friends on Saturday, and mine is already starting to look a bit backward-leaning and droopy (it’s the one that appears to depict a cat crossed with a chubby lizard), but Ryan’s creepy face just gets creepier as it shrivels.

If anyone’s looking for a last-minute literary costume, check out Books Together.  There you’ll find step-by-step instructions for assembling your own Olive Dunwoody costume, and links to several other book-based costume ideas.  (You can also enter to win a set of seven fantastic Halloweeny books published by Penguin, including The Shadows!  Go!  Go NOW!)

Speaking of giveaways: the Facebook All Hallow’s Read giveaway ended this morning, and I’ve contacted the randomly selected winner.  (I asked entrants to name the fictional character they’d least like to encounter in real life, and there were a slew of great responses: multiple mentions of Cthulu and Count Olaf, as well as votes for Randall Flagg of Stephen King creation, Commander Woundwart from Watership Down, Eric Cartman (I agree–he’s terrifying), and Snooki.)  Thanks, everyone.

Poetry news:  My poem, “Wendigo in the 21st Century,” was a finalist for this year’s SFPA poetry contest.  You can read the winners and see the full list here.  The SFPA is also hosting a Halloween poetry reading; visit their Halloween page to hear me reading my Rhysling-nominated poem, “Escaping the Dawn” or to listen to other great poems and poets.

And, finally, my super-cool new t-shirt:

 

(Here’s the local paper’s write-up.)  Two days until showtime…

 

 

Originally published at Jacqueline West. You can comment here or there.

It’s time for my favorite new gift-giving holiday!

If you aren’t familiar with the coolness that is All Hallow’s Read, click here.  If you are, I hope you’re already on the hunt for creepy, wondrous books to give to your favorite readers for Halloween.  Last year, I hosted a giveaway on this blog.  This year, I’d like to try something a little bit different: If you visit my Facebook page, you’ll find an All Hallow’s Read thread, in which I’ve asked readers to share which literary character they would be most terrified to meet in real life.  On October 31, I’ll pick a winning commenter at random, and he/she will be sent a signed hardcover copy of THE SECOND SPY.  (And if you share the giveaway link, you’ll be entered twice.  Got to get around that new “promoted posts” malarkey somehow.)  Go!  Comment!  Win!  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jacqueline-West/112573782122159?ref=sgm

Last week, I got to attend another rehearsal of “Under the Bed.”  The actors now have their lines memorized, and getting to see and hear words that I wrote coming out of REAL people’s mouths, without any papers or print between us, was truly something special.  Plus, the kids are smart, and heartbreaking, and so, so funny.

Here they are, being bullied by big sisters/being bullying big sisters and getting trapped by fear-collecting spiders.

I’ve also just learned that THE SHADOWS has made the list for the 2013-2014 Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award, which makes me very,very happy.  Thank you, young readers–Hoosiers and non-Hoosiers alike.

Halloween Giveaway

Originally published at Jacqueline West. You can comment here or there.

I’m leaving in just a couple of hours for the Waupaca Book Festival, and I still have to pack and put on grown-up-person clothes (I’m currently wearing my writing uniform of black pajamas and giant fuzzy socks), so this will be brief.

From now until the end of the month, you can win a free copy of The Books of Elsewhere, Volume One: The Shadows through Freado’s Halloween Book Festival (check the CoverMatcher page to see the available books–there are some great ones!).

I’m also planning an All Hallow’s Read giveaway for this year… Details to come very soon.  Stay tuned.

 

A condor, or a picture of a condor

Originally published at Jacqueline West. You can comment here or there.

I like to record things.  I write.  Preserving events and impressions and experiences in words is just what I feel compelled to do.  So I get the compulsion to record things in other ways–with phones, with cameras, with all those fancy and increasingly tiny gadgets.  But for the last few days, I’ve been thinking about the times when maybe recording isn’t quite enough.

Last week, we went to First Avenue for the final show of Amanda Palmer’s Theatre is Evil tour, which was packed with one amazing act on top of another.  And one of those amazing acts was Neil Gaiman, in person, telling a story. He’d just finished a storytelling tour, and that’s what this was: Not a reading, not a recital, but a meant-to-be-told-aloud-by-the-person-it-happened-to STORY.   In the car on the way home, we talked about the story–about how it was very, very different in style and structure from Neil’s written work, and about how dependent it was on the voice and inflection and charm of the teller, and the audience’s reaction, and Neil’s timing and facial expressions, and about how if you put those spoken words on paper they wouldn’t have quite the same life.   They might not work at all.

The funny thing was: All around us, people who were hearing this meant-to-be-told-aloud story were recording it.  They were watching it through screens, even though the real thing was happening ten feet in front of them.  They couldn’t clap, because their hands were busy.  After the storytelling was over, they compared the clarity of their shots and the timing of their starting points.

I wonder how many of them have gone home and watched that little video again.  I wonder if it has the same life.  I wonder if it works.

(WARNING: NORTHERN EXPOSURE DIGRESSION.) In one of my favorite episodes of Northern Exposure, “Things Become Extinct,” would-be filmmaker Ed starts to make a documentary about Ira Wingfeather, the only person around who remembers how to carve traditional wooden courting flutes.  But after filming, Ed realizes he doesn’t just want the living picture of the thing; he wants to preserve the thing itself.  He goes back to the old man and asks to learn how to carve the flutes.  When Ira wonders why, Ed asks him, “Would you rather see a picture of a condor, or a condor?”  and the old man answers, “A condor, no question.”

I don’t want condors to become extinct.  I don’t want photographers of condors to become extinct, either.  I’m not sure the real version of a thing is necessarily better than the recorded version of a thing.  My life revolves around recorded versions of things.  But I try to remind myself that sometimes it’s good to stop recording. It’s good to simply listen, and watch, and participate with your full consciousness, and let the moment end without attempting to preserve it.

Then again, here I am, recording all of this.