On Packages and Space-Time Anomalies

Note: I’m not on Twitter. This is an automated tweet linking to my latest blog post. I will not see any of your replies. If you wish to discuss any of these blog posts with me, or anything else, leave a comment on my blog. I will respond.

I’ve been having a surreal experience with Australia Post. They claimed to have delivered a package from the UK to me last Friday. There was no package. There was no card in my mailbox saying to pick it up at the post office. Yet there it was on the tracking info: delivered.

The nice man at the post office, when he couldn’t find my parcel, helped me put in a missing parcel claim. When he looked up the tracking number at his end it said my parcel had an incomplete address: it was missing the flat (apartment) number.

Hmmmm, I thought, but the UK tracking has the flat number. Why would it disappear from the package on its journey from the Royal Mail in London to Australia Post in Sydney?

On the way home, a charming man from Australia Post rang to assure me that they were on it, and that most packages were found. I imagined a crack team of Australia Post sleuths on the case. I was vastly reassured.

I woke to an email from Australia Post letting me know that the package had been returned to sender. I wrote to the sender in London warning them my package might be on its way back. They were all, “But how? There’s no return address on the package.” This was somewhat perturbing.

An hour later I got an email from Australia Post saying my package was either in my mailbox or at the post office. I checked. It was in neither place. I was beginning to feel like Australia Post was gaslighting me.

Then an hour later, I got a generic email from Australia Post assuring me they were on the case and would find my package. I was not reassured. I was starting to lose faith in Australia Post’s sleuths.

I decided to phone them, to find out if the parcel had a) been returned to sender despite there being no return address, b) been delivered to a Justine Larbalestier in a parallel universe, or c) was in a happy liminal space about to be tracked down by the valiant sleuths at Australia Post.

After thirty minutes negotiating the endless, confusing phone tree, I got through to the delightful Tracy, who looked at all the info from my claim no. and spluttered “ZOMG! This is ridiculous. It says it’s been delivered TWICE! There’s nothing here about it being returned to sender. Where on earth did that come from? It says there’s no flat number. THE FLAT NUMBER IS RIGHT HERE! It can’t be all these things at the same time! And there’s an update saying it’s on a truck on its way to you now. How could that be if it was delivered last Friday and this morning? Ridiculous! I will sort this for you! I will make this happen!” she said, typing furiously.

I admit that I was half way in love with Tracy at this point. I hung up and did various chores before receiving yet another Australia Post email claiming my parcel had been delivered for a third time. I confess that, despite the fabulous Tracy, I doubted this claim. My buzzer hadn’t rung and there’d been so many false alarms. I trudged down to the lobby, with little hope. But lo and behold, my parcel–with my full address–including the flat number–was there in my mailbox.

Hilariously, the vintage eighties silk shirt inside was made in W. Germany: a non-existent country. Maybe that non-existence disturbed the space-time continuum and created intermingled timelines in which all parcels were in all states of delivery?

Thank you, Australia Post, and especially Tracy, for tackling this space-time anomaly and making my parcel reappear. I’m most grateful and the shirt from the non-existent country is gorgeous.

State of the RSI

Since so many of you have kindly inquired about how I’m doing1 I figured best to answer you all in a post. Also Sarah Zarr recently posted about her own trials and tribulations, which reminded me yet again of how common these injuries are.

Yes, I am still dealing with pain. My RSI2 has not improved, but it has not gotten worse, and I have learned to manage it by getting strong and fitter, with physical therapy, and by limiting keyboard time and making my work space totally ergonomic. All of that has had all sorts of other health benefits. I am in amazing shape,3 which really does make everything else easier and less stressful. Though the time & money involved in all of that is scary. I recognise that I am very lucky to be able to afford to deal with this. There are plenty who can’t.

However, probably the most important thing for me over the last year or so has been realising that this is forever. That if I don’t maintain my fitness and core strength and manage the pain it will get worse. But even if I do all that it’s not necessarily going away. Accepting that management was the best I could do was really hard and incredibly depressing. But once I did accept that it made everything a lot easier. I stopped waiting for the magic cure, stopping putting stuff on hold, and got on with the rest of my life.

Some days it gets me down. But mostly it doesn’t. I am especially feeling good right now because I am nearing the end of the first draft of my first solo novel4 since Liar which I finished writing in 2008. Long time between drinks, eh?

So that’s where I am at. For those of you who are starting to have the first little twinges of pain from writing—I beg of you—do something about it right now! Actually, for anyone writing long hours every day take frequent breaks,5 make sure you are set up ergonomically, take at least a day off writing a week, though two is better, get fit! Seriously, it will see you through to a long and pain-free writing life.

Which is what we all want, right?

  1. I appreciate it. Thank you. It really makes a difference to know that I’m not alone with this. []
  2. Repetitive strain injury. Basically RSI describes a whole host of different conditions that are caused by a repetitive action such as typing. But many others get RSI too: house painters, factory workers etc. etc. []
  3. If I don’t say so myself. *cough* []
  4. That’s right the real work is about to begin! Can’t wait. []
  5. Drink loads of water so you need to pee a lot. It’s an excellent way of ensuring many breaks. []

Team Human as an Ebook in Australia

I’ve already had a few people ask me why Team Human is not available via iTunes. My ANZ publisher, Allen & Unwin, does not yet have any books available for sale via iTunes but they’re working on it.

In the meantime my publisher says that Team Human is available for Apple devices via the Kindle app and the Kobo app.

Or you can purchase Team Human through Booki.sh where you can buy the ebook AND support your local independent bookshop at the same time! Readers whose local indie is Gleebooks (Sydney), Readings (Melbourne), Fullers (Hobart), Mary Ryan (North NSW/Qld), Avid Reader (Brisbane), or The Turning Page (Blue Mountains) can buy Team Human via the links provided.

I hope that helps.

My Books of Electrons! (Updated)

One of the most frequent queries I get is: “Are your books e-books yet?”

For a long time, they were not and I could only respond in the negative. This was never a very satisfactory reply. Not for me, because I dreamed of having books of electrons, and piteously begged my publishers to make it so.1 And certainly not for the would-be purchaser of said electrificated tomes.

“No, sorry they’re not,” I would say mournfully.

They would demand to know, “Why? What is wrong with you that your books are only available as piles of extruded wood pulp? Electrify your novels at once!”

This led to me having to explain how it’s beyond my control. They never believed me just as no one believes John Malkovich in Dangerous Liasions. No amount of talk of contracts and publishers reserving the right and blah blah blah ever convinced them that I was not being willful and obstreperous. Their eyes would glaze and they’d walk away.

They weren’t happy. I wasn’t happy. There was SO MUCH UNHAPPINESS!

But now, at long last,2 I do not have to have that upsetting conversation anymore because:

All of my novels are now available as e-books in North America and some of them are on sale right now.

Let there be rejoicing!

Yes, even the first book of the Magic or Madness trilogy, which is called, wait for it, Magic or Madness. Their wise publisher deemed it absurd to have the first book in the trilogy available when readers could just skip to the second and third book. But no longer! You can download all three in any format for any device you wish to purchase them on. Halelujah!

The anthology I edited with Holly Black, Zombies versus Unicorns, is also available on all devices. And is currently available for the bargain price of $3.99 which is ludicrously cheap. Love is Hell which includes my short story “Thinner than Water”3 is also available on every device known to humanity.

Meanwhile Liar and How To Ditch Your Fairy are available for Kindle and the Nook and I think other devices but only HTDYF is available via ibooks. They are, however, currently available for the low, low price of $4.79, which, BARGAIN.4

Team Human by me and Sarah Rees Brennan will be available in all formats going, which is how I like it.5 I don’t know when or how much it will cost. Though 3 July 2012 is the current publication date for the paper version in North America.

Some of you Australians and New Zealanders may be wondering, “What about us? Can we access these e-books?”

I am investigating and it looks like only Zombies versus Unicorns is definitely available in e-book form. You can get it from Readings and Read Without Paper. I hope that in the not too distant future all my books will be yours for the push of a button. We are living in the future!

So, how many of you actually consume e-books? I do. In vast numbers. Usually books that in the past I would have bought in paperback. When I truly love an e-book I tend to buy a hard copy. It has made a huge difference to travelling. I never run out of books now.

On the other hand, as a bunch of us were discussing on Twitter, formats becoming obsolete scares me. I have floppy discs from the olden days . . . So useful! So glad I backed all my early writing on those little babies.

This post brought to you by demonic voice recognition software. Apologies for brevity, wrong word choices, weird syntax and occasional incomprehensible swearing.

Update: All my Allen & Unwin books are now available on multiple platforms in Australia and New Zealand. Those books are How To Ditch Your Fairy, Liar, Zombies Versus Unicorns and Team Human.

  1. Or, well, okay, I begged my lovely agent Jill who in turn. You know how it goes. []
  2. Well, actually I think they’ve all been available for almost a year now. But what with my RSI problems and voice [mis]recognition annoyingware it has taken a long time to write this post. []
  3. Nope, I will not explain the title. Figure it out yourself! []
  4. I had nothing to do with them being on sale. How much books cost is yet another thing we humble authors are not consulted on. []
  5. Down with exclusivity! []

The Misery of Voice Recognition Software

I hates it.

Before I typed a lot faster. This thing slows me down and drives me crazy.

This software does not learn. Instead it tries to school me. I have had to change the way I speak so it can understand me. Slower, with more precise diction, like I am impersonating a robot. I do not feel like myself when I use it.

I never intended to use it for novel writing only for e-mail and blogging and twitter and the like. But even there this software destroys my natural voice. Who spells e-mail with a hyphen! It does not recognise any of the slang, abbreviations, or made up words that I use and, of course, homonyms are a mighty pain. When I use it I am forced to avoid my habitual language. I don’t sound like me.

It claims that you can teach it. I have spent many hours training it to recognise words I use all the time that are not in its dictionary. I complete the annoying and overly long task and begin dictating. Only for it not to recognise a single word I just taught it.

Here is a list of them. See if you can figure out what I was actually saying:

look glorious
just team/just Dean

It does not recognise the names of any of the characters in the books I am working on. Thus when I attempt to discuss said books with anyone else via IM or e-mail I spend most of my time having to spell those names out or just going with whatever word this software has decided I’m saying or turning it off and typing, which means unnecessary keystrokes and shortening the amount of time I can spend doing novel writing.

You also have to forget about editing, getting the cursor to go where I want it to go with voice commands has proved impossible. I am able to use it only for 1st drafts of non-fiction writing, for e-mails and chats and only with a great deal of frustration.

Even if there were none of these problems, I am a writer. I have been writing since I was little, typing since I was fourteen. My sentences do not come as fluently when I speak. I have never been as good at telling a story as I am at writing it.

On top of that I suspect that the software I’m using is somewhat buggy. Their are often long delays.1 I cannot get the command mode to work except to inadvertently delete great swaths of text. So using it for anything other than dictation is a waste of time. Forget doing research online with this thing. Given that my reason for using this software is to reduce keystrokes it’s more than a little maddening.

I know many people for whom voice recognition software is a revelation. I’m thrilled that it’s helping so many people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to write at all. I also understand that creating software that can deal with different accents and idiolects is really really hard. It really is incredible that it recognises anything I say. But at the same time I can’t help feeling that I have been sold a bill of goods. So many of the people I know who use it rave about it, say it is the best software they’ve ever used. Which meant I was expecting it to be like Harrison Ford in Blade Runner: ‘Enhance. Enhance.’ I expected it to be nigh on perfect. No such magic.

To be fair I have noticed that the latest upgrade is already performing far better than the version I loaded on my computer lo those many months ago. So those who have been using it for a long time really have seen remarkable improvements.

And yet I still hate it. In fact, I get angrier with it then with any other software I have ever used before. And I speak as a card-carrying Microsoft Word hater. Word has never caused me to throw headphones across the room. Word has never set me off on multiple 20 min uninterrupted2 vitriolic raging rants.

I have thought of myself as a writer for a very long time. Writing has been central to my sense of myself since I was a small child. Being forced to spend much less time writing has been extremely difficult. I suspect that part of my fury with this voice recognition software is not merely that it is so much slower and less accurate and less me then when I type but that it has come to symbolise the injuries that prevent me from writing with my hands on keyboards as much as I need to.

So, no, I cannot add my voice to the others praising this software. I suspect that would be true even if the software lived up to my expectations. My stories are written with my hands, not my voice.

I am very curious to hear if anyone else feels this way. I have only been using the software for 6 months. Does it get better? Does it ever come to feel like your voice?

  1. This is much better after latest upgrade. []
  2. I think Scott ran and hid. []

Last Day of 2010

This is my annual post where I sum up what happened in my professional life in that year and look ahead to what’s going to happen in 2011. I do this so I can have a handy record that I can get to in seconds. (Hence the “last day of the year” tag.)

For reasons I’ll explain in more detail below (but are mostly I was not online much) 2010 was ridiculously productive for me. I now have more than 100,000 words of my 1930s novel. Most of it written this year. And I declare those words to be good.1 I have not enjoyed writing a book this much in I do not know how long. I never want to finish. Which is fortunate because I suspect that I’m not even half way finished. Likely not even a quarter. Possibly not even a tenth. Ooops. I may well not EVER finish. But, hey, at least I’m having fun.

For those of you who actually like to read words I write do not fear! I also wrote (with someone sekrit) a whole other sekrit (but hopefully not for much longer) project about which you will hear much next year when we’re allowed to tell you. Writing it was just about the best fun ever. I adore collaborating it turns out. Or maybe I just got lucky with the smartest, wittiest, fastest-writingiest collaborator of all time. Whatever the reason the two of us finished that project and sold it in two different countries.2 And now we get to do it all over again. Colour me, excited.

Such a productive year was particularly wonderful because in 2009 I stopped writing for many months. In that year all I did was rewrite Liar, a few thousand words of the 30s book, and about the same on two other unfinished projects. It was my least productive year since I became a professional writer and it scared me. For a while there I was worried I wouldn’t write again. So, phew! Despite annoying injuries 2010 has been my most happy and productive writing year ever. Here’s hoping 2011 will bring more of the same.

But this is my what-happened-in 2010 report, I shall continue:

Books out in 2010

This year I had only one new book: Zombies Versus Unicorns which I put together with Holly Black. It was published in the US (Simon & Schuster) and Australia (Allen & Unwin) with one of the most perfect and gorgeous covers any book of mine has ever had. I cried tears of joy when I first saw it. Josh Cochran is a genius and so are the design team at Simon & Schuster. The book has had wonderful reviews and even won an award for the audio edition and sold way better than anyone expected.

It’s a publishing truism that anthologies don’t sell.3 Well, this one sure does. Yay! Thank you so much for reading ZvU, buying it, and telling your friends and librarians about it. Much appreciated.

There’s also an audio edition by Brilliance, which features me and Holly reading the introductions. Well, sort of reading, we got more and more ad-libb-y as the day went on. Let’s just say we had a great time. I would happily record audio books with Holly and the Brilliance team whenever they want.

ZvU also sold into France (Pocket Jeunesse), Germany (Bertelsmann Jugendbuch Verlag) & Brazil (Editora Record).

Liar came out in paperback in North America. It was also published for the first time in Denmark (Hoest), France (Gallimard), Italy (Salani) & the Netherlands (Mynx). I had the great pleasure of meeting the Gallimard Jeunesse team in Paris and they were all wonderful and work in the most gorgeous building complex I’ve ever seen. They even have a sekrit garden!

There will also be editions of Liar in Brazil (Editora Record), Germany (Bertelsmann Jugendbuch Verlag), Taiwan (Sharp Point Press), Turkey (Artemis, an imprint of Alfa Yayin Grubu) and Spain (Ediciones Versatil).

Reception of Liar

It’s been brought to my attention that some people don’t feel Liar has gotten the recognition it deserves. While it’s lovely that people feel passionately about the book I want to point out that Liar‘s gotten a tonne of recognition. Liar was more widely reviewed than any of my other books and almost all of those reviews were extremely positive. It also made a gazillion different best book of the year lists. Liar was shortlisted for eleven different awards and won four of them:

  • the Davitt Award for best Young Adult Crime Novel 2010, which particularly thrilled me because I deliberately wrote Liar as a crime novel and the Davitt Award people were the first to notice,
  • the WA Premier’s Literary Award, Young Adult Prize 2009. In Australia the Premier’s awards are a huge, huge deal and even come with a big old fat cheque,
  • the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) Christina Stead Award 2009, which is an award for best novel of the year regardless of genre—Liar was the first YA novel to win. I could not be prouder,
  • and the fourth award has not yet been officially announced but the 2009 Carl Brandon Kindred Award. When I found out I screamed. I think the wording of the award will explain why this means so much to me: “The Carl Brandon Kindred Award is given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity; nominees may be of any racial or ethnic group.”

So there you have it Liar is by a country mile my most successful book by whatever metric of success you want to use. It’s the best reviewed, won the most awards, generated the most fanmail and discussion,4 and has sold better than any of my other novels in Australia and the USA. On top of that it’s a book I’m proud I wrote.5 I’m stoked.

Read These Books!

My favourite YA book of 20106 was Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves. Dark, weird, quirky, full of unexpected turns, fabulous world-building, and gorgeous writing. It’s not like anything else I’ve read. Well, other than her second book, A Slice of Cherry, which comes out in 2011. I highly recommend both.

Onto next year:

Books out in 2011

    The paperback edition of Zombies versus Unicorns


and, um, nothing else . . .

That’s right for the first time since 2005 I have no new book out. But I promise you there will be something new (see above about my sekrit project) in 2012 and in 2013. Truly.

My Silence this Year

You might have noticed that this is my first post in six months. For someone who used to blog every day that’s a huge change. A weird one. Yes, I do miss blogging. No, this is not the beginning of me blogging frequently again.8 I won’t be blogging much for the foreseeable future. Sorry. But thank you so much all of those who wrote to let me know how much you miss this blog. You made me all teary, you did. As did you lovely people I met at ZvU events this year who told me ditto. Bless!

I spent the year dealing first with an acute injury that kept me from writing but that healed relatively quickly. Then I discovered that I had RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) i.e. shooting pains in my arms and neck because of having typed a vast deal for about thirty years.9 I still have RSI. I cannot type for more than twenty minutes at a time or more than four hours a day without pain. I spent 2010 learning how to deal with it.

I tried many, many, many different things but here’s what worked for me:

RSI management:

  • My computer is for writing novels. I only tweet or blog or IM or email or any other non novel-writing keyboard activity on days when I don’t write. I also make sure I have at least one or two days a week completely away from the computer.
  • Most days the internet is switched off on my computer. Ah. The calm and ease of concentration with it gone. I honestly don’t miss it.
  • I am very strict about writing only in twenty minute bursts with stretching in between and not for more than four hours a day.
  • I use an ergonomic split key board, two trackballs with writst rests—one for my left hand and one for my right, my screen is at eye level, and I sit on an exercise ball forcing me to use my core muscles at all times.
  • Weekly massage and physical therapy. Accupuncture has also helped. I have tried other therapies but those are the ones that have given me the best results.
  • I work out five times a week with a trainer.10
  • I do pilates once or twice a week.

So, yes, I am doing much better than I was—most importantly I’m able to write—but it’s a continuing thing for which there is no magic cure. I hope those of you at the beginning of your writing life pay attention and start developing good habits now before permanent damage is done. I wish I had! /lecture

Being offline a great deal of the time does mean I’m harder to contact than I was. My apologies. If you wish to contact me the best way to do so is still via email. If I don’t get back to you and you deem it urgent contact my agent, Jill Grinberg. (Her details are in the automatic reply.)

In conclusion

This time last year my writing was not going well. I was in a dither about what to write next and was working on four books at once. Obviously, see above, I concentrated on the 30s novel, which is not finished, and the sekrit project, which is.

I said my goal was to be happy writing and I was. That’s my goal for this year too. And for the rest of my life. I declare it to be a most excellent goal. I commend it to you!

Thanks everyone who wrote me letters of support and letters about my writing this year. Those letters were wonderful. I treasure them and I’m very sorry I haven’t been able to respond. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being moved by the different responses people have to my work.11

I hope 2011 shapes up beautifully for all of us.12

Happy new year!

  1. I’m sure when I re-read them I’ll be less thrilled but right now I think they’re fabulous. I’ll stick with that feeling, thanks. []
  2. Well, our agents did. Thank you, Jill! []
  3. Take that, smelly publishing truisms. I bet green covers aren’t the kiss of death either. []
  4. And, no, I’m not counting discussion generated by the cover controversy. []
  5. I don’t care what anyone says I think that’s the most important thing of all. []
  6. Not written by a friend or husband of mine. []
  7. And this was not, in fact, published in 2011. Current rumours are that it will be out April 2012. []
  8. You do not want to know how many days it took me to write this. []
  9. This is a very common condition. I know gazillions of writers in the same boat. []
  10. Yeah, I’m one of those people. Sorry! []
  11. Yes, many of your letters made me all teary. What can I say? I’m a sook. []
  12. Even the Australian cricket team. Not that I’m holding my breath on that one . . . []

Fighting Spam (Updated)

Okay, after yet another spam hammering I’ve had to switch comments and pinging off on many of the posts that were getting hammered. I’m really at a loss as to what to do. I don’t want to switch comments off. I love your comments. But right now I’m battling so much spam that loads of geuine comments are not making it past the filters while too much spam is. I’m only spending four hours at the computer a day so I cannot use most of that time dealing with spam.

Oh, how I hate spammers!

Anyone got any cool wordpress plugins or other suggestions?

Update: Forgot to say I already have Askimet. Which was working brilliantly.

Part of what is going on is dealing with really vicious trolls. Of which there has been a multitude since last year’s stuff around the cover of Liar. I have no idea what to do about them. And CAPTCHA won’t affect them alas.

I Say No to Wireless Devices

My wireless keyboard is not talking to my computer. It is a beautiful keyboard. I love it more than any other I have ever owned. (A Logitech diNovo Edge if you is curious.) Before I left it was in perfect harmony with my laptop. Upon my return, despite being fully charged, despite multipe restarts, despite being placed so close to the computer they are as one, my laptop will not have a bar of it. This is unhappymaking.

I have had many wireless mouses and keyboards over the years. None of them has been functional for more than a few months at a time. But my diNovo Edge worked for six months straight. But now after a few months of being idle it is without function.

So this is me declaring that I am finished. No more wireless devices. Most of them are battery chewers, anyways. From now on I will be plugging my laptops and mices into the USB port.

I suspect it’s like the fountain pen. Wireless devices will work perfectly in some far distant future when they’re largely redundant.

In conclusion: Grrr.

What Four Hours Means + Answering Some Quessies

As some of you know I’ve been dealing with an injury that means I spend way less time at my computer. I thought I’d say a little bit more about what that means as I’ve had a few people frustrated at my not responding to them.

When I’m at my computer for my scant four hours my top priority is my novel. After that I deal with the most important email (from agent, publishers etc) after that I tackle this blog. So far that’s pretty much all I get to. Which means I am not reading anything on Twitter and I have not read any blogs in a donkey’s age.

Thus I do not know what you’ve been saying about me. I’m not ignoring you, honest. I just haven’t read it. I do not know the latest kidlit gossip (unless Scott remembers to tell me). I have not answered your lovely email to me. But I have read it and been thrilled by it. Thank you.

To summarise: if you wish me to know something email me. But know that it will take me a long time to answer. My apologies in advance.

Which leads me to answering the questions I’ve been emailed lately:

Q: How is your injury going?

A: I’m doing much better. Thank you.

Q: Does that mean you’ll be online more?

A: For the time being no. Until I’m completely healed I’m going to continue the current no-more-than-four-hours daily-on-computer-five-days-a-week regime. Aside from anything else I’m getting a lot more writing done this way.

And when I’m not at the computer I’m getting a tonne of reading done. Most of it is research for my novel but I also recently read and loved Melina Marchetta’s Piper’s Son and Jaclyn Moriarty’s Dreaming of Amelia. I have also read two awesomely great novels by Sarah Cross. (Neither published yet. Sorry. But, trust me, you’re gunna love them.) I’ve been reading the serialised version of the third book in Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, which I am also adoring. (Though I am very impatient for the next installment. Aren’t I lucky to know so many great writers who let me read their books early?) I’m also buried deep in Pluto by Naoki Urasawa. (I also love his Monster and am about to get started on 20th Century Boys.)

Q: What is this novel that’s eating all your computer time?

A: It is the 1930s novel that I have been mentioning for some time. That’s right I finally settled down and picked just one novel to work on. It’s big and sprawling and set in NYC in the early 1930s and is written in a mixture of omniscient point of view and letters.1 I haven’t had this much fun writing in ages.

Q: When will your new book be published?

A: I have no idea. I am writing the 1930s book without a contract. I’ll sell it—or, rather, my agent Jill Grinberg will—when I’ve finished the book. So your guess is as good as mine as to when that will be.

Well, okay, my guess is a lot better than yours. The book just passed the 40k mark and I haven’t even gotten up to the events in the proposal (which I wrote when we were going to sell it before I finished it). I think I’ve written about a quarter or less of the novel. I also think it may be more than one novel. But I have decided to write the entire story in one go no matter how long it is. Then and only then will it be sold. The soonest I can imagine this book being finished would be the end of this year. But that’s probably way too optimistic. Then Jill would have to sell it, then the publisher would have to find a place for it in their publishing schedule, which would be 2012 at the earliest. Again that’s a very optimistic guestimate. In short: do not hold your breath for my next novel to appear in bookshops any time soon.

Q: How has Liar been selling?

A: My Australian and USian publishers tell me Liar is selling better than any of my other books. But that’s all I know. (It hasn’t been published anywhere but Australia/NZ and USA/Canada yet. Though it has sold in a number of other countries.)

Q: How is your garden coming along?

A: Wonderfully well. Thank you for asking. All the plants are in! We’ve even used some of them in cooking. (Mint, bay leaves, dill, chillis.) Being surrounded by gorgeous plants has made us both happier and we spend much time doting on them (and then eating some of them). Here is a photo for your delectation:

This is what it used to look like (Well, actually, this is what it looked like after we got the deck sanded prior to garden going in. Click here for the pre-sanded version.):

Thanks again for the lovely letters. The ones in praise of Liar are becoming more and more frequent and never fail to make my day. I’m so pleased that book has meant so much to so many readers.

  1. That’s right, Justine goes for the most commercial angles yet again. []

Signed Books

Some folks have been asking lately how to get hold of signed copies of my books. And asking if I’ll sign a book if they send it to me. Tragically the answer is no, I won’t. This is not because I’m mean but because,

  1. I travel too much. Your book is unlikely to get to me in a timely fashion.
  2. I am hopeless at getting to the post office. If your book does land in the right country at the right time it will then sit on my desk for about a decade. I tried book plates and I was just as bad at mailing them. It’s a sickness.

So I have created a signed books page. See the link in the right sidebar under Books? There’s a list of the bookshops where I regularly sign stock in the two cities I spend the most time: Sydney & New York City.

At the moment there’s only two, Kinokuniya in Sydney—it’s my fave bookshop here because it’s one-stop shopping, every single book I crave plus manga plus grahic novels plus anime—and Books of Wonder in NYC, which if you haven’t been there, you should. Best kids bookshop in the city.

I recently also signed a few copies of Liar for Berkelouw Books in Paddington. And am happy to sign for any other bookshop in my area that wants my signature scribbled on their stock.1

Also before we left NYC me and Scott signed at a number of Barnes & Nobles and Borders in Manhattan. So you may stumble across some signed copies in one of those stores.

Not to mention that I signed many, many books while on tour in the USA in October and November. If you live near any of those bookshops there may still be signed books left.

Hope this helps.

And, yes, I should probably have posted this before xmas etc. Whoops.

  1. Of my books, obviously. I’m not going to vandalise anyone else’s books. []

Is This Thing On? *tap* *tap*

Well, that was a long break, wasn’t it? I return refreshed and ready to resume blogging activities.

First boring admin: I have yet to tackle my mail, given all the totally urgent work on my plate, I won’t get to it until the new year. Resend if urgent. I do try to answer all mail so if I still don’t answer in January could be my spam filters ate it.

And now some commentary over at the Misfits’ Book Club on the new covers of E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver books. It made me really happy for two reasons:

  1. It’s a very interesting discussion of covers. I’ve been working on a big fat post about covers for a while now. One of the things I talk about the divide between the way people who’ve read a book see the cover as opposed to those who have not. People forget that most covers designs are aimed at the people who haven’t read the book and haven’t heard of the author. Cassandra Mortmain’s1 discussion of the rejacketing of the Ruby Oliver books perfectly illustrates that divide. She’s unhappy with the new jackets but also hopes that it will bring in new readers. Her and me both.
  2. I’ve thought for ages that the Ruby Oliver books were being overlooked. Just because they’re fluffy and light does not mean that they don’t also have a lot to say about sex and gender in high school. It bugs me how often light books that tackle serious subjects just don’t register with many critics and award committees. For my money every one of the Ruby books should be garlanded with every award going. Cassandra Mortmain agrees with me. Most pleasing.

If you haven’t read the Ruby Oliver books. I strongly recommend that you do so. Rather than me explaining them, let Ruby tell you about the first book, The Boyfriend List:


In the same ten days I —

lost my boyfriend (boy #13)

lost my best friend

lost all my other friends

learned gory details about my now-ex boyfriend’s sexual adventures

did something shockingly advanced with boy #15

did something suspicious with boy #10

had an argument with boy #14

drank my first beer

got caught by my mom

lost a lacrosse game

failed a math test

hurt Meghan’s feelings

became a leper

and became a famous slut.

Enough to give anyone panic attacks, right?

I was so overwhelmed by the horror of the whole debacle that I had to skip school for a day to read mystery novels, cry, and eat spearmint jelly candies.

The Ruby Oliver book in order are: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, Real Live Boyfriends (out next year). Read them!

That is all.

  1. This is a pen name. For those of you who don’t know Cassandra Mortmain is the protag of the marvellous I Capture the Castle. Yes, my feet are in the sink as I write this. []

On the Road Again + Collaboration Quessie

Or getting in a plane again. This time to Istanbul, which is a city I’ve never been before. Am I excited? Yes, I am. But it does mean that blogging may not be as every single day as I like it to be. Might be a couple of weeks before normal service resumes. On the other hand, there may be kickarse wireless in the hotel and I’ll blog like a demon. Just to keep you on your toes.

Have fun in my absence—I know it will be hard—and patient with my slow response to emails and questions etc. If you do have any quessies for me the best way to get a response is to go to the FAQs and ask there. I check them regularly. Whereas questions asked on regular posts often go unanswered. Sorry bout that.

I have a question for youse lot though: What do you feel about novels written in collaboration? I’ve heard some readers won’t touch them, which I find really odd. But I’m curious to know if it’s a widespread feeling. You don’t see that many bestselling collaborations, though there are a few. (I’m excluding ghostwritten books.) I’ve always wanted to do one but the opportunity has never arisen.

Thanks for your answers.

More Questions About Liar & Other Things

I have created a Liar FAQ page on account of I’ve already gotten the same three questions many many times already and the book isn’t even officially out yet. If you have any more questions about the book feel free to ask them over there. And, yes, I have not answered the third questions in any detail that’s because I’m working on a whole post about it.

Some other questions I’ve gotten lately:

Q: Will you be posting a spoiler thread so that we can talk about Liar without having to be super careful about spoiling people?

A: Only one person has asked for this. If there seems to be a demand of more than one I’ll put up a Liar discussion post.

Q: Is your tour final? Is there any chance that other cities will be added?

A: It’s final, alas. Sorry!

Q: Will you be doing any new writing posts soon?

A: I have a number of writing posts in the works including one on writing dialogue and another on how Scrivener affected the writing of Liar. But I’m happy to listen to requests. Just check first to see if I’ve already covered it.

Q: Have there been any reviews of Liar yet?

A: There have been. You can find pull quotes and links to reviews here. I don’t blog reviews because I find it extremely dull. And if it bores me than I figure it will bore youse lot even worse.1

I’m happy to answer any further questions. But if it’s a spoilery question about Liar take it over to the FAQ.

Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday. (Or early Monday morning if you’re back home in Oz.)

  1. It’s blogging about reviews I find dull, not reading reviews. []

Electronic Readers, Post the Second

I has one. Back in May I mentioned that I wanted one on account of all the elecronic documents I read. I tried reading on my iPhone but it did not work out: too small and awkward.

After talking to friends and hearing what youse lot think I wound up getting a Sony 505. While it’s not perfect and lacks many features I want,1 it’s made a huge difference. While flying home to Sydney, I did not have to carry the usual 5 books in my backpack on top of the entire suitcase of books. All I carried was the eReader. My back thanks me. Profusely.

It turned out that the incompatibility with my Mac was not a problem thanks to this fabulous software, Calibre, which is incredibly easy to use and is yet to fail me in any way shape or form. Bless you, Calibre.

As predicted I’ve been using it to read manuscripts by friends, books I’ve been asked to blurb, and public-domain research and comfort books. (I’m yet to buy an ebook.) My eyes don’t get nearly as sore as they do when reading onscreen with my computer and I can curl up with my eReader, which I can’t do with my computer even though it’s wee (for a computer).

So, yes, I’m very happy I bought an eReader. However, I’m still waiting for the iPhone to have its own native eReader which is not tied to any particular retailer. Because I would like to have my portable electonic needs—music, mail, podcasts, camera, ebooks, texting, phone calls (ugh)—in the one location. I want an iPHone that’s roughly the same size as my Sony Reader. When that happens I’ll start buying ebooks.2

In the meantime, being able to read Pride & Prejudice, My Brilliant Career, Anne of Green Gables, Alice in Wonderland, The Getting of Wisdom and Ivanhoe whenever I want to is vastly happy making. I’m off to go make a donation to Project Gutenberg for making that possible (and to Calibre as well). Bless!

  1. It does not produce mangosteens whenever I want them or set off fireworks. Honestly! []
  2. Though I’m not going to buy ebooks without being able to preview what I’m buying. There are still too many companies not providing previews. I’ve had several friends who buy ebooks report that are still companies out there selling ebooks that are poorly proofed scans. Sometimes of paper texts. Not good enough. []

Testing WordPress iPhone App & Praising Electronic Devices

I’m at Sydney airport, on my way to Melbourne for the Melbourne Writers Festival, and since it took way less time to get here than I thought1 I figured I’d test this here new application what Stephen Fry recommended.2 I am blogging from my phone without squinting or yelling. I count that as a big thumbs up for the wordpress app.

I’d also like to give a big thumbs up to my Sony reader 505. It’s not perfect—I’d prefer a touchscreen and a faster page turn on PDFs, I’d also prefer my iPhone to be larger and be a reader on top of everything else it does3—but just for reducing the weight of my luggage I hug the ereader to my chest. I’ve been a lot faster reading mss. than ever before. W00t! Oh, how I hate reading mss. on my computer or in paper form. I am liberated.

What electronic device is making your life better right now?

  1. 10 mins as opposed to 1 hour. Who knew? Other than Scott. []
  2. As you all know everything Stephen Fry says is golden unless it is about cricket. He supports the bastion of evil the English cricket team. Ewwww! []
  3. Next year I hear. []

Quickly Answering Some Recent Questions About Liar

Yes, the new cover means that it is unlikely possible that Liar will may not be available in US and Canadian stores on the announced publication date of 29 September. I don’t know what the new pub date is but it will definitely be in October. As soon as I know I’ll pass it on. Update: My US publisher says there’s still a strong possibility Liar will be available at the end of September as planned. (Note: this is the hardcover first edition of Liar I am talking about. There will not be a North American paperback until next year.)

There is no planned UK edition as UK rights have not sold. The English language editions, both to be published in October, are the Australian one published by Allen & Unwin and the North American version published by Bloomsbury.

There will also be an audio version read by the amazing Channie Waites (scroll down to see the photo of her) for Bolinda in Australia and Brilliance in the USA. I was able to sit in on part of the recording session and plan to blog about that incredible experience (with pictures) next week. (Short version: my work brought to life! OMG!)

If you prefer to read in languages other than English Liar will also be published in Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, and Turkey. I have no details yet on when those editions will appear.

I am hoping for a manga version, because I am always hoping for manga versions of my work. So far there has not been the faintest hint of a nibble in that direction for any of my books. Personally, I think How To Ditch Your Fairy would make the best manga series ever.

If you have any other questions fire away. I promise to answer them all even if it’s just to say, “Why are you asking me about stalactites? I don’t know anything about them. I can’t even remember if they’re the sticky up-y ones or the pointy down-y ones.”


The response to yesterday‘s post has been astonishing. I am overwhelmed. I received more mail in a single day than I normally do in a month. (I was already behind with my mail.) I’m going to try very hard to get to it all, but it may take some time and I have a novel to finish and leave the country in a couple of days. So bear with me.

Thanks so much for taking this conversation further. It’s crucial.

And the winners are . . .

It proved absolutely impossible for me to choose from among all the amazing stalker song entries so I got Scott to pick six numbers between 1 & 116. (That’s how many entries there were: one hundred and sixteen!)

Scott went to Random.org for the numbers thus they are truly random.

The winners are comment numbers 49, 49, 109, 98, 4, 25 and 114:

  • 49: Cristina:

    Faint by Linkin Park:
    “I am what I want you to want, what I want you to feel
    But it’s like no matter what I do
    I can’t convince you to just believe this is real”

    “Sin miedo a nada” by Alex Ubago [translated to the best of my ability]:
    “I die to beg you
    That you don’t leave my life
    I die to hear you
    Say the things you never say
    But I keep quiet and you leave
    I keep hope
    To be able someday
    To not have to hide the wounds
    It hurts to think
    That I love you a every day a bit more.”

  • 109: Zahra Ali:

    Oh no, someone told me I posted a song that was already posted. I don’t know if that’s allowed 🙁

    Just in case, I’ll post this one:
    OKaysions- Girl Watcher

    I’m a girl watcher, I’m a girl watcher…
    Watchin’ girls go by, hey, my my
    I’m a girl watcher, I’m a girl watcher…
    Here comes one now…

    I was just a boy when I threw away my toys
    And found a new pastime to dwell on
    Whenever I detects them there of the other sex
    I play the game I do so well on

    Mumble something female, my my, but you do look swell
    Could you please walk a little slower…
    Wonder if you know that you’re putting on a show
    Could you please walk a little closer…

    My second creepiest song. He’s FOLLOWING her, it freaks me out xD Hope it creeps you out too!

  • 98: Morgan Says:

    Does a parody song count? My friends and I made a parody of Stop and Stare by One Republic called “Stalk and Stare” The chorus goes-

    Stalk and Stare
    I think about you all the time
    I swear
    You are mine and I will never share
    oh oh ooooh

    Stalk and Stare
    When you are alone
    I am always there
    So tell your Boyfriend to beware
    oh oh ooooh

    Stalk and Stare
    I love the way the moonlight
    shines on your hair
    Without you there would be no air
    oh oh ooooh

    It keeps going and gets pretty crazy.

    But if it has to be song I would go with “Somebody’s Watching Me” By Micheal Jackson. This one of course is from the stalkee’s point of view. I want to know how no one thought of this song though!

    When I’m in the shower
    I’m afraid to wash my hair
    ‘Cause I might open my eyes
    And find someone standing there
    People say I’m crazy
    Just a little touched
    But maybe showers remind me
    Of Psycho too much
    That’s why

    (I always feel like)
    (Somebody’s watching me)
    And I have no privacy
    Whooooa, oh-oh
    (I always feel like)
    (Somebody’s watching me)
    Who’s playin’ tricks on me

    Then there is also “Kelsey” by Metro Station

    So take one word you said
    You put it in your bed
    You rest your tiny head on your pillow
    You wonder where you’re going next
    You got your head pushed to my chest
    and now you’re hoping that someone let’s you in
    Well I’ll sure let you in
    You know ill let you in
    Oh Kelsey, you.

    So don’t let anyone scare you
    You know that I’ll protect you
    now through the thick and thin
    Until the end
    You better watch it
    You know you don’t cross it because
    I’m always here for you
    and I’ll be here for you
    (I know x3) I know how it feels believe me
    I’ve been there and
    (I know x3) I know what it feels like
    tell me Kelsey

    And I’ll swim the ocean for you
    the ocean for you
    whoa, oh Kelsey
    and I’ll swim the ocean for you
    the ocean for you
    whoa, oh Kelsey
    (i hear you darlin’)

    Find More lyrics at http://www.sweetslyrics.com
    Now it’s gonna get harder
    and it’s gonna burn brighter
    and it’s gonna feel tougher each and every day
    so let me say, that i love you
    you’re all I’ve ever wanted
    all I’ve ever dreamed of to come
    and yes you did come
    i want you so bad (so bad)
    can you feel it too? (it too)
    you know I’m so, I’m so in love with you
    i want you, so much
    i need you, so much
    i need your, i need your, your touch

    and I’ll swim the ocean for you
    the ocean for you
    whoa, oh Kelsey
    and you never ever let me in (let me in)

    The entire song is full of stalkerish sayings!

  • 4: Remula:

    Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Catch You

    One of my favorite stalker songs, haha. XP

  • 25: Erika:

    Definitely Helen Hunt by Hank Green. Hahaha

    Um… Plain White T’s are very stalkerish… Hey there Delilah, You and Me, Write You a Song, and I could go on…

    You Found Me by Kelly Clarkson, kind of the other person is the stalker here. I mean just read the chorus:
    “You found me
    When no one else was lookin’
    How did you know just where I would be?
    Yeah, you broke through
    All of my confusion
    The ups and the downs
    And you still didn’t leave
    I guess that you saw what nobody could see
    You found me
    You found me”

  • 114: Tom Says:

    There is a song called the stalker song by the Australian comedy group Tripod. It sort of misses the point a bit because it’s meant to be a little (read: a lot) creepy. It is pretty funny, though.

    Check it out:

So. Man. Very. Creepy. Songs. So glad so many of you realise that stalking is not a sign of love!

The first four get a signed Love Is Hell plus a signed Liar sampler and the last two get a Liar sampler.

Winners please go here to send me your snail mail address. Or direct message me on Twitter.

Commenting with an Ad for Your Book is Spam

This is for the people who have been spamming my last post with ads for their boy-friendly books.


I am well aware you only landed here because you googled “boy books” and are looking for somewhere to post your spam. I don’t accept paid advertising so I’m certainly not going to let you advertise for free.

The comments on this blog are for discussion. By all means recommend a book that you think is relevant to the discussion. I’m all ears for passionate recommendations of books people love when it’s relevant. But do not comment with an ad for your own book. It’s tacky, it’s boring, it adds nothing to the conversation, and I will delete your ad. If you do it again I will ban you from my blog.

That is all.

Combating Spam (Updated)

Update: I have Askimet already. It’s the false positives, i.e. comments landing in moderation and spam filters that’s the problem.

Lately there’s been a huge increase in spam here. The result of my current methods of combating it is that heaps of your comments are winding up in the moderation queue. As I have a very heavy work schedule at the moment I’m often not getting to those comments for hours at a time. Not good.

I’m thinking of installing one of those anti-spam word thingies where you have to type in a random word or grouping of letters to prove you’re not a spambot. However, I kind of hate them when they’re on other people’s blogs. They definitely put me off commenting.

How about youse lot?

Would you hate it if I added such a plug-in? Would you be okay with it if the words it generated were amusing and/or related to this blog? Like “quokka” or “mangosteen”?

Anyone got any other brilliant spam combating tactics?

Stop asking me for ARCs! (updated)

It says that I don’t have ARCs on the contact page. You know, the same contact page you have to go to in order to write and ask me for the ARCs I do not have. *head desk*

Let me put it another way:


The contact page also tells you who does have ARCs. Yes, right at the top of the contact page.

But please remember: publishers don’t give ARCs out to everyone. There’s only a small number so they have to be selective. It’s one of those “while supplies last” things.

Bloomsbury will be giving more away at IRA, ALA, and BEA.

Sorry to sound snippy but I’m getting way too many of these requests and I don’t have time to respond. I’m busy! I’ve got copyedits to check, 1930s research to do, my next novel to write, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped!

I am thrilled that so many people want to read Liar. It’s truly wonderful. I can’t wait for you guys to read it either. I’m really enjoying hearing people start to talk about Liar and argue about what really happens. THOUGH DON’T SPOIL IT FOR OTHERS. If you really are bursting to talk about it but no one around you has read it: write to me. I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s hoping this enthusiasm to read the book is still going strong when the real proper book version of Liar publishes in October! Only six months away! How did that happen?

*Goes back to copyedits.*

As you were.

Update: Since there seems to be some confusion, I have attempted to clarify here.

Answering your letters

I just finished going through and answering all your letters. *mops brow* Thanks so much for writing to me. I hope my responses arrive okay. But alas there were some bounce backs.

Because the volume of letters has been going up in the last few months, and I’m not getting any faster at answering, 1 I’ve decided I’m going to respond to questions asked on this website first. Especially the questions asked on the FAQs. That way the answer will be available for everyone and not just the people who email me. That’s fairer, right?

Currently I have four FAQs:

  • There’s the Personal one: Where you can ask any questions that don’t have to do with particular books or writing. But let’s not get too personal.
  • The one about Writing: This is where I answer all those tricky writing questions. I’ve answered many already so before you ask yours check that it hasn’t already been asked and also have a squizz at the posts on writing.
  • About the Magic or Madness Trilogy: This is where you can ask questions about the trilogy. Don’t read if you don’t know the books. It gets VASTLY spoilery.
  • And lastly there’s one for How To Ditch Your Fairy.

Before too long I’ll add a Liar FAQ. And I may add a publishing one. Though at the moment those questions are under writing.

Thus endeth the admin message. As you were.

  1. Unfortunately, writing my books and responding to my publishers has to be the top priorities. []

In Houston

Me and Scott are in Houston for TLA (Texas Library Association). Tis much warmer than NYC. W00t! Also we’ll get to hang out with many teen librarians.1 Always a good thing.

Another w00t worthy thing: I have just learned that the ARC (advances readers’ copies) of Liar have made it to TLA. Yee hah!2 I have not actually seen it myself. So I’m eager to get my hands on a copy. Well, not eager so much as afraid. I know I’ll just open it up and go, “Crap. Typo. Also that section really doesn’t belong there. I need to move it. Another typod. Also I’m not sure this minor character’s got the right name. Perhaps I should have called them Rexford? What was I thinking! Crap. Yet another typo. And another.” Etc.

But I’m excited that people who aren’t my agent, friends, or publishers will soon be having a squizz at it. Liar is unlike anything I’ve ever written before and especially not like How To Ditch Your Fairy. Thus I am dead curious to see how people respond. I hope no one throws things at me.

Admin note: Sorry for everyone whose comments were held up in moderation yesterday. Wifi access was sketchy. I believe I have set everyone’s comment free at this time. Let me know if you still can’t find yours.

  1. To be clear, I mean librarians who specialise in books, manga, anime, etc for teenagers, rather than librarians who are teenagers. []
  2. I am in Texas, after all. Though maybe it’s not spelled “yee hah”. That looks wrong. []

Quick Admin Note (updated)

There’s something wrong with comment moderation at the moment. Currently WordPress simply will not allow me to approve a handful of the comments. So if your comment disappeared into moderation never to re-emerge that’s what’s going on. My apologies! Me and my genius tech staff are working on it! (Well, mostly them cause I have no idea how to fix the damn thing.)

Update: Looks like all comments trapped in moderation have now been released. Here’s hoping that’s the end of that problem.


I’ve just added six more categories:

As a result of all the extra categories, I’ve gotten rid of the “writing and publishing” category, which was pretty much useless, and amalgamated the MorM books under one category: “Magic or Madness trilogy”.

Wow. I feel so organised. First new year’s resolution is now off the list!

Note to livejournal people

Please stop writing and asking me to resume blogging. I never stopped.

For some reason the lj feed of my blog is broken and has no posts after 18 December. So while I have blogged every day since then none of those posts have shown up on that feed. I have no idea why and no idea how to fix it.

Perhaps one of you lj people knows how to fix it? I’d be much obliged.

Sadly, though my writing about this here is completely useless given that lj people rarely venture outside the world of lj. Oh well.

In which I am naughty

I have a mountain of work, admin, packing, and correspondence to catch up on, but instead I am reading through my new favourite blog, Cake Wrecks, which I discovered via an old favourite blog, Jenny Davidson’s Light Reading. I’m sure all of you have been enjoying it for years. What can I say? I am slow.

So far it has led me to many pleasures but few top the delight of the world’s worst Dalek cakes. I confess that I laughed so hard I cried.

Then it led me to this. The making of the most incredible cake I have ever seen:

Apparently it took twelve days to make. Wow. Just wow.

All fixed

All the problems of the past two days appear to have been resolved. Sorry for the inconvenience. Especially to those of you who had your comments eaten.

Thanks for chiming in on last post. I no longer feel like I have lost my mind. Just my website for a couple of days. And, praise Elvis, may it never happen again.

We can now resume normal blog activity.

For those who missed the post that was only visible to a handful of you for most of the day there’s a sneak preview of my latest published effort.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to share their concern about the absence and/or weirdness of my site today. It’s nice to know you care.

Can you see this post?

If you can could you comment? And tell me what browser you’re using.

I’m getting lots of reports of posts not showing up and people not being able to comment.

Yes, the site was down

And may be down again while it’s upgraded to a dedicated server.

Today has not been a happy justinelarbalestier.com day. I hate to be separated from my blog for so many hours. And it went down right in the middle of my putting up a teaser for my new story in Love is Hell. Wah!

If anyone can recommend a reliable new host I’m all ears. Or, you know, eyes . . .

There are already some suggestions over here. Thanks, Scalzi! I’d be curious to hear what others think of those suggestions.

Quick note

Things are busier than busy here. If you took busy and sent it down a coal mine where it was forced to put its nose to the grindstone while flat-outing like a lizard, well that’s me. Right now. Seriously. I am the headlless chook. Or the chookless head. I can’t be sure. I have major deadlines, minor deadlines, pestilent deadlines, zombie deadlines. I have every kind of deadline. This means everything else is being ignored or given a big fat no.

I recently said NO to several antho invites. To Lauren Myracle’s fabulous Halloween dare. Not to mention doing an appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show.1

Remember, how I got my mail down below 100? *Sigh*. Already they head back to scary out-of-control territory. I doubt I’ll be able to catch up until December at the earliest. Sorry!

I will attempt to keep blogging. You know, in order to stay sane, and delude myself that I’m actually communicating with real live breathing people, and not just communing with Scrivener and all the people I’ve populated it with. Plus, well, I’m kind of a blogging addict . . .

Thank you all for continuing to read and comment here. In the midst of this insanity it’s lovely to hear your voices. Bless!

  1. Okay, not really. But a girl can dream, can’t she? []

Happiness is . . .

Well, okay, a vague sense of satisfaction is . . . reducing your inbox from over two thousand to 93.

I have answered all my fanmail. Hallelujah! I am up to date with the universe! (If I didn’t reply to you—write me again. Your letter may have been accidentally deleted or misfiled or something.)

Er, 94. Someone just sent me a letter. Crap. Ninety-five. Why are people replying? The whole point of the exercise was to reduce my mail! Not generate more. Stop it! Don’t write to me!

Um, never mind.

Look over there: irradiated mangosteens mutating into killer monkeys!

FAQ updated + good news

Thanks to everyone for all the questions. I have now updated the FAQ by incorporating the new quessies and dividing it into four sections:

Magic or Madness Trilogy
How To Ditch Your Fairy

If you have more questions feel free to ask them over there.

There are spoilers in the MorM FAQ but they are at the bottom under a spoiler warning. There are no How To Ditch Your Fairy spoilers. Aren’t I good to you people?

Speaking of which, I just found out that HTDYF is a Junior Library Guild selection. This is quite the honour as they have a reputation for picking books that go on to be award-winners and bestsellers. If you look through their book selections you’ll recognise many fabulous books.

There was also a gorgeous new review over on the Ravenous Reader Reviews. I’ve never had so many reviews and comments and fan mail about a book before it was even published. I could get used to this!

Though publication is very soon: 16 September in the US of A. That’s nearly almost two weeks away!

Notice anything different around here?

Why, yes, my site has had a redesign. Isn’t it gorgeous? The fabulous Stephanie Leary has remade it so that it all fits neatly in WordPress.1

My request for the redesign was pretty simple:

  • Make it look as much like the existing blog as possible. Only, you know, better.
  • Keep it clean and simple and easily navigable.
  • Set it up so I don’t have to turn to a designer every time I have a new book to add.

Stephanie succeeded on all fronts. I love it. SO MUCH.

Not only is it beautiful but there’s loads more stuff such as:

The musings, which were my pre-blog blog, have been added to the Archives so they’re much easier to access than previously. They stretch back to 2002. Some of them are quite revealing and some embarrassing. A few I’m very proud of.

I was sad to leave my old site behind. It was a gorgeous design and I’ll miss it, which is why I have this page to commemorate the old site and thank its designer, Deb Biancotti, for all her work.

Please have a bit of an explore. Let me know what you think and report any typos, broken links, weirdnesses that you find. I wants it to be perfect, I does!

Here’s hoping you like the new look as much as I do.

  1. I never have to deal with Dreamweaver again! My happiness is huge. []
  2. Yes, all my novels come with glossaries. []
  3. It’s better than a DVD! []

Fixing my FAQ*

I’ve been meaning to update my FAQ for ages. I’m thinking of dividing it into different subject areas like Diana did on her blog: such as, my various books, writing, publishing, whatever else you want to know.

So if you have any questions about writing or publishing or my books or anything else that isn’t already answered on the FAQ fire away.

*Is it just me or does that sound vaguely obscene?

Brief note to the lurkers and newbies as well as general excuses

In the last few weeks there’s been quite a bit of delurkification as well as some new commenters. Ordinarily I would respond in the comments and welcome you personally but, well, I has deadline. And book for deadline is scary and complicated and not genre and I may be out of my depth and um,


But I hate to be rude and I love to see new folks here. So,


To everyone else: sorry for not responding as much even though I read all your comments,1 also for being months and months behind with email, for not having done that thing I promised I’d do for you, and for generally being as slack as, um, a very slack person.

Book comes first! Before hygiene, friends, nutrition, changing polls, health, admin and pleasure. Is just how it is.

  1. Except for the ones about USian gridiron. Boring. []

Email backlog etc

I am still very behind with all my email. As I have a book due soonish and much much much more work to do on it, I suspect that I will not be getting through that backlog any time soon. For which my apologies! But, you know, my publisher pays me, which helps keep roof over head and rent paid and food in mouth—so they’re my priority.

I will continue to keep blogging daily and as much as possible responding to comments here. Cause if all I do is write all day I’ll go insane.

Anyway what I’m attempting to say is if I haven’t gotten back to you it’s not because I don’t love you but because I’m working my arse off.

Back to the book . . .

The great photo quest continues

The reason for which are posted most indiscreetly on Scott’s blog.

I’d just like to share with you my favourite photo so far:

Kevin Dunn (science guest of honour) plus me and me old man at High Voltage Confusion in Detroit.

Why pirate hats you ask? If I told you I’d have to kill you.

And, yes, if you have any other photos of us we’d love to see ’em.

Thank you so much everyone for all the photos you’ve pointed us to. We REALLY appreciate it!

Urgent: photo help

We are in desperate need of photos of me and Scott together—preferably with other people, but no worries if you just have the two of us. If you have such photos online please include the link in the comments. Or you can send them to me at jlATjustinelarbalestier.com (replace the AT with @). If you could say where and when they were taken that would be extremely helpful.

You’ll be doing us both an enormous favour.

Thank you!

Yes, there are CAPS

Some of you have expressed surprise and dismay that I abandoned my archy and mehitabel policy. They wants to know why and if it’s merely a bout of temporary insanity.

The why is easy: I was bored. It was get rid of the no-caps or find a new template. The one takes seconds, the other days. Not a difficult choice.

The no-caps rule lasted quite a long time. To be precise: from 25 May 2005 up till 8 Jan 2008. More than two and a half years. That’s AGES.

I don’t think the no-caps will return. Been there, done that. By all means continue to eschew them in your comments as homage to the way Things Used to Be. I’m all for stubborn nostalgia. I like it almost as much as I like change.

Scrivener (updated)

Many of my writer friends have recently switched from WordToolOfSatan to Scrivener. Since the always trustworthy Holly Black and Lili Wilkinson recommend it so strongly I decided that I would give it a go.

I’m here to tell you that I am in love. Scrivener is the first writing tool for computers that I have ever fallen for.1

Before you race off to get a copy here are two key points about Scrivener:

  1. It’s only available for Macs. It’s now available for PCs too.
  2. It is not a word-processing program; it’s a program designed specifically for drafting long documents (such as novels).

Continue reading

  1. I’ve had some really beautiful pens. []


Sorry about the silence of the last week. I did something very bizarre: I went on holiday. A real holiday with no laptop and no internet access. Totally off the grid! Let me report that five days of no internet is bliss! I plan to do it more often.

In other news Diana Peterfreund got me addicted to free rice. Improve your vocab while being virtuous!

Also Maureen Johnson is stirring revolution on Amazon. Go, Maureen!

Hope your holidays are going as well as mine. Normal blogging will resume soon. Honest.

Web stuff

So I finally got Scott’s new look blog up and running. What a hassle that was! I always think it will be just an hour or two. Hah! Try several days of hassles. Especially as there was a migration of his site to a new server. Why is it always so hard?

Anyways . . . It’s up and I think it looks great. Go take a squiz and tell me what you think. Though if you have any complaints tell Scott, not me!

All praise to Sadish Balasubramanian who designed the very nifty and flexible SeaShore template.

I was planning a redesign here to go with the new book but the very thought of going through that again makes my head explode. Plus deadline is not yet met.

Right then, back to work.

Oh and have a new poll.

Deadlines, polls, a question answered etc

My deadline is still not met. Many obstacles keep piling up to keep me from it. I will not list them all since they are boring as well as annoying but one of them involves my webmistress duties.

Until the deadline is vanquished there will be only sketchy posting here. I will also continue to not answer email, the phone, courier pigeons, or smoke signals. Sorry! Though if you do hear from me and I haven’t achieved deadline vanquishment you should yell at me to get back to work.

I will try to put up an occasional poll so you don’t all die of boredom. Feel free to complain about them in the comments. Yes, I am referring to you, Mr Eric Luper. Which reminds me to mention that I can see when someone votes from multiple machines. Nice try, Eric. Your jerboas still lost despite half their votes coming from you!

The latest poll may reflect this Aussie girl’s state of mind on finding herself far from home not long after a momentous election in weather colder than anything she ever experienced at home in Sydney. I would sell my left knee to have a meal at Spice I Am right now . . .

Regarding the previous post some people wanted to know whether not having an oven is de rigeur in New York City. I have seen flats here that have no kitchen at all and yet I still believe most flats in New York City come equipped with ovens. However, some of those do not work. One such is the oven in this flat. The oven does not work, nor does the grill, but three of the burners on the cook top function. (Mostly.) I suspect this may be typical of New York City flats . . .

For those who are annoyed that my “How To Rewrite” post still hasn’t gone up. A quick tip: when thinking about structure some writers find Shakespeare’s five acts the way to go. Or you could try the standard Hollywood three-act model. Or you could just wing it.

For those annoyed that I haven’t written about manga lately. I endorse The Drifting Classroom.

New Poll (updated)

Because Eric Luper had the temerity to suggest that quokkas are not the cutest animals on the planet I have devised a new poll. It goes up exactly a day after the last one which I successfully managed not to break—so you were all wrong. Yay, me!

I like having polls but I definitely need less buggy WordPress compatible software.

The “How To Rewrite” post will go up as soon as I, um, finish, the book what I have to rewrite . . . And the manga/manhwa/graphic novels one not long after that. Promise!

Update: Eric Luper jinxed me into breaking the poll! Oh noes. Oh well, at least the quokkas were ahead. But I had planned to leave it up for a few days. And I am too deadline addled to come up with a new one. Stupid crappy poll software! Stupid deadlines!

And now it turns out the poll is not broken. That’s it! I’m backing away from the intramanets, leaving the polls alone, and becoming a rabbit farmer.

Polls (Updated a lot)

So that I can better get to know what you, the reader, thinks, I have added a poll thingie to the sidebar.1

The first poll is about winter because I need to know if the total darkness before 5PM and constant cold and the only decent fruit & veg being apples and pumpkin is bumming out anyone other than me.2 Tell me I am not alone!

That it’s December and I’m still stuck in the Northern hemisphere fills my soul with despair.

Here have some more quokkas:

Lucky quokkas living far away in sunshine and warmth. Oh, how I envy them!

More sunshine & quokkas. Look what the peoples wear! Lucky, lucky bastards.

Okay, that didn’t make it warmer or lighter or less depressing here . . .

Update: I have just learned that creating a new poll instantly replaces the old one. I’d planned to leave the winter poll up for awhile but I done killed it. Thus there is a new poll, which I will not tinker with until next Sunday. This is my punishment for futzing about with the blog3 when I should be nosegrinding towards my deadline. I am bad.

Update 2: I don’t even know how I broke the poll this time. I am turning the internets off and stapling myself to the grindstone.

Update 3: Stupid poll software. I kick it.

  1. This was in no way a work avoidance measure. It is serious research! []
  2. I should be clear: it’s only Northern hemisphere winters I hate. Sydney winters are lovely. []
  3. I also added blog stats (Look! I done writed almost 250,000 words of posts! Fortunately that is still less than my published words. Phew!) and a tag cloud []

I hates paper

Especially when it’s a manuscript intent on giving me paper cuts or in the form of a card.

There. I’ve said it: I hate Christmas Cards. Do not send me any.

To be honest I’m pretty much against anything that shows up in my mail box that isn’t a cheque or a contract or a magazine I subscribe to.1 And really why can’t all of these be done electronically? Why do banks charge wire transfer fees? Transferring money from account to account is now one of the simplest processes in the world. Why can’t I sign my contracts electronically? Why can’t I subscribe to all the magazines I love in non-dead tree form? Why do people keep sending me postcards? I hate ’em and they go straight into recycling.2 I’d much prefer to see jpgs of your holiday—you know photos you actually took yourself.

I hate the endless catalogues that I never signed up for, the entreaties from political parties, and furniture companies, and car dealers and all the rest of them. Junk mail is a blot on the landscape, chewing up whole forests of trees.

I love trees! Keep them in their non-paper form!

I hate junk mail even more than I hate the spam that attacks my inbox. At least there are filters I can employ to keep the number manageable. I have contacted certain catalogue senders multiple times asking to be taken off their list. It makes not a lick of difference. If I manage to get rid of one several more are there to take its place.

I no longer give my address to anyone if I can avoid it. I will no longer join any organisation that insists on having my snail mail address. If they can’t communicate with me solely by email then I am not interested in being a part of their antiquated tree-killing organisation.

I travel a lot and no postbox in the world is big enough to be left to its own devices while I’m away. Thus complicated arrangements have to be made to ensure the postbox does not overfill and explode. If people didn’t send me mountains upon mountains of paper I didn’t want those arrangements would not be necessary.

The only truly acceptable use for paper is the making of books. Those I love. But as soon as there’s an integrated iphone-like device that works as a really good ebook reader I’ll be using that to read while I’m on the road. At home I’ll be snuggling up with a good ole dead-tree product book like I have since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. No ebook reader will ever smell as good as a book.

Stupid paper. I kick it.

  1. I’m okay with parcels though. Especially in their Krug champagne form. []
  2. Though obviously not the ones my mum sends. Those are all precious and wonderful. []

comment deletion

Okay, I’m not quite sure how I did this but I just accidentally deleted some of your comments. So, if you notice a comment you made has gone AWOL that would be me. Sorry! Feel free to re-comment. The technologies they mess with my mind!

Political blogging

When I started this blog I was very definite that I wasn’t going to blog about politics or religion. I’d seen too many flame wars, too many blogs overrun by indignant trolls. My blog, I decided, was going to be sweetness and light and avoid incendiary topics.

But then the John Howard regime finally fell and I couldn’t contain myself. And, you know, what? I’ve gotten not a single troll. The discussions generated by my political musings have been thought-provoking, fun, and, most unexpectedly, my traffic is up. Who’d’ve thunk it? I love youse all!

I now feel free to blog about whatever the hell I want to blog about. If any trolls show up I’ll just nuke ’em.

That said, I’m facing a whole series of dread evil deadlines over the next month. So my promised posts on how to rewrite1, curing insomnia, my favourite manga, manhwa and graphic novels will prolly all have to wait.

In the meantime I’ll try to keep posting but may not be as substantive as I’d like.

So here, have another quokka:


  1. which has just gotten yet another request []

Are your comments being eaten? (updated)

I’m getting reports that my blog is eating some people’s comments. Could you let me know if this is happening to you and exactly what it was my blog would not let you post. Preferably by way of the comments. But if that’s not working:


To make the address work substitute @ for AT and . for DOT

So far it seems to have something to do with posting HTML and URLS.


And if any wordpress users have had this happen to them and have solutions—fire away! I have nothing blacklisted.

Update: I’ve been trawling through the spam filters and found quite a few comments which I’ve now marked as non-spam. Please let me know if my spam filters eat your comments and I will set them free!