It’s a little dismaying when you think to yourself at the grocery store, Don’t accidentally buy vanilla Greek yogurt instead of plain!, and then you’re making a smoothie and you lick the spoon after thunking in some yogurt and it’s vanilla. I used to give my mum a hard time when she’s bring home the wrong flavour of whatever from the grocery store, and she must’ve been a decade older than me at the time! (Smoothie’s pretty darn tasty, tho, so…thanks, Brain!)
Admittedly my brain’s been in a thousand different directions of late. I went to London (and blogged a bit about it over at my other online home, LivSpencer.com). After the London Book Fair, I stayed with my super-pal Claire — fun fact: this blog was started way back when as a way to keep in touch with Claire after she moved to the U.K. from Canada and to keep in touch with my bro when he was on the first of many trips overseas to teach. Claire’s husband ran in the London Marathon (I was leaving that day so I missed the big event but happily witnessed the prep) and this Guardian article is worth a read. Admittedly, I never thought much about marathons or that the people running them are raising money for charity, but I certainly do now.
Other things on my mind: where I buy my clothes. Claire and I were walking about London, and passed Primark and she told me about how insanely cheap the clothes are there and how people emerge with bags and bags of them. What do they need all those clothes for? I am certainly guilty of the same habit: shortly before my trip, I went into Joe Fresh and emerged with three cardigans, not just one, because they were so affordable. But the massive loss of life in Bangladesh is a harsh reminder that there is a high price for consumer goods so cheap. I watched the Louis C.K. special Oh My God the other night, and he ends it with a point about ‘human greatness’ being built on the backs of oppressed people. The pyramids. Our iPhones. (The particular part I’m talking about starts around 2:50, but the comedy starts at 0:01!)
I vote for horses and candles and a little bit more kindness toward the folks on the other side of the world.
I recently read The Power of Habit, a book with a lot of interesting ideas about how habits form and function and how to change them, in individual, societal, and corporate contexts. I’ve been flailing around for a while trying to change my personal habits: what I eat, how many hours a day I’m sitting or lying down vs standing and moving (forget the word “exercise” for now), how I structure my writing time…. And I’m going to get more scientific to root out the cues, cravings, routines, and rewards of what I’m doing — the cookie habit video the author has on his website lays out the basics.
My mind palace is slightly less crowded than it was a few months ago, and that is thanks to Epic Projects Being Done! The thing about writing a book is that it takes longer than I think it will. Every. Single. Time.
But our updated edition of Taylor Swift — which I have to say is pretty awesome? It’s pretty and awesome — is back from the printer! It’s already available at Amazon and all sorts of retailers near you! Co-author Jen and I are going to the Red Tour when it hits Toronto in June and we will be dressing up, rest assured. I have a red polka dot dress for the occasion, and Jen is going traditional sparkles.
The other Liv Spencer book of the summer is Navigating the Shadow World — and it goes to print today! Today! That is crazy. This was a project where we just kept broadening the scope. Which is why our subtitle says it’s a guide to The Mortal Instruments, but actually it’s a guide to ALL THE THINGS. Namely The Infernal Devices. Like, how could we possibly leave out TID? We could not. (So…um…the book is a little longer than originally projected, but hey! same low price.) I’m really excited to see this one arrive back from the printer — and more than a little nervous! — and to get some cool ideas we have into action around the book. More info on that soooooon.
But what all that means for me is that I am now Vampire Diaries All The Time, as Vee and I write Love You to Death Season 4. Let me tell you that it is the best having Vee as a co-writer. The best. Kicking myself for not twisting her arm into writing one with me earlier!
I started a rewatch of season 1 last night, and oh man you guys they are so little and innocent, and for the first 5 episodes it’s strange how uncomplicated their lives are — and while the Gilbert kids have already experienced great loss, the others are remarkably untraumatized compared to their season 4 selves. TV nostalgia!
What will I do with myself when all the book writing is done? Suggestions welcome. Because if you don’t tell me what to do, I will end up writing another book, and I should PROBABLY take a break after this one.
Best get ready for work now.
I would like to be more like Jiro. Even just 0.005%. Very inspiring.
Good morning, and I hope you’ve recovered yourself from last night’s Vampire Diaries. I don’t think I have; I’m still a bit weepy. But I have something happy and exciting to report — well, two somethings really!
1) Love You to Death — Season 4 is happening.
2) I’m not going it alone this time. The brilliant and hilarious Heather Vee is writing it with me! You’ll get what you’re used to reading in a volume of Love You to Death but more! and smarter! and added silliness! and borderline inappropriate swooning over a certain Alpay! In all seriousity, I cannot tell you how much it’s already helped to have Vee on board with the book — she’s helping me step up my game, as well as bringing her smarts, her wicked sense of humor, and her TVD Super Knowledge to the table. (Or shared dropbox’d Scrivener file, as it were.) We have Big Ideas!
Wanna see the cover??
Things are a little different here too — it’s a new era of TVD, and a new era of LYtD! — and this original painting by the talented
Klaus Mikaelson Carolyn McNeillie combines elements of TVD’s past, the symbols of the present season, and the woman fighting at the center of it all.
The book will be out October 1, 2013 from ECW Press! (We even got an announcement in Quill & Quire — whoop!) Until then expect a lot of slightly incoherent twitter chatter between Vee and me (so, nothing out of the ordinary there).
Here’s the official description:
The fan-favorite Love You to Death series returns with an essential guide to the fourth season of The CW’s hit show The Vampire Diaries. The season 4 companion delves headlong into the twists and turns of each episode, exploring the layers of rich history, supernatural mythology, historical and pop culture references, and the complexities and motivations of the show’s memorable cast of characters. Add expanded chapters on the making of the show, the people who bring the world of Mystic Falls to life, and the intensely loyal audience that keeps it thriving, and you have a guide as compelling and addictive as the show itself.
Previous volumes of Love You to Death have featured exclusive interviews with executive producer Julie Plec, series directors and editors, guest-star actors, and fandom leaders.
I’m so thrilled to be able to continue writing this series (even though writing about “Stand By Me” will mean more tears shed per page than ever before) and am so thrilled that Vee said yes when I asked her to join me on this project.
Can’t wait for y’all to read it!
…I can’t go far wrong.
That used to be the ‘headline’ thingy on this here blog. I should know where I found that Virginia Woolf quote, best guess is one of her early years journals. It was her birthday recently, and JK and I had a little festival of fawning over Virginia. First novels we read, ones we like best, Jen’s idea that one year we should read her journals every day.
I’ve been reading a short story collection of hers, A Haunted House And Other Stories; one a night before I go to sleep. Some I’ve read before — I cannot see a mark on a wall without thinking about “The Mark on the Wall” — but some are new to me. Sometimes I feel a bit pretentious going on about how much I love Virginia Woolf, but I truly earnestly do. From the smallest word choice to the rhythm of her sentences to the unexpected turns she makes leading me to see something or feel something or recognize some bit of myself in something otherwise quite alien to me. Perfect paragraphs exist, and she wrote a good many of them.
There’s another life I used to imagine for myself: staying in university and studying Woolf, modelling myself after my excellent professor Melba Cuddy-Keane (even her name is cool!), and I could picture myself going to somewhere British and tweedy and reading and writing papers and — no, not lecturing. Too terrifying, that.
It’s nice though, having my shelf dedicated to Woolf — biographies and letters and journals and fiction and stories and essays. Two little apples, now shrivelled stolen from the orchard at Lewes by my fellow Woolf devotees, my boss Jack and Ms JK, sit on the window ledge by my desk at work.
To purple ink (her favorite), the benefits of writing every day, and the triumphant use of “higgledy piggledy,” whenever it suits.
I have two draft posts sitting in my little wordpressy dashboard: a 2012 in review, and a 2013 resolution post. Neither, it seems, will ever be finished. So instead this: the present, not the past or the future.
Tis a tradition of mine to blast U2′s “New Year’s Day” on New Year’s Day (and, yes, “November Rain” on the first rain of November; I am nothing if not into overly literal song moments), so here: have a listen and a look a little Bono (and his epic hair).
An auspicious beginning to the year so far. I was up at 6 a.m., as per my new REGIMEN of being more like Ben Franklin; I’ve done some writing, I’ve done some work at ecw, I’ve chatted with fam, and I’ve even eaten vegetables and fruits. My hair is still quite orange and red. So, you know, it’s all bright and sunshiney at the Calhoun Ranch.
What next? Perhaps a walk on the windy snowy boardwalk? Maybe a little reading? Maybe I should work a little more on the top-secret-but-not-for-long Liv Spencer book I’m writing with the wondrous Jen Knoch? (Between our Taylor Swift updated edition and two more bookish projects on the slate for 2013, I probably should be doing something writing related or else how will it all get done? Eep.)
I hope your new year is off to a good start too. Here’s to a banner year ahead.
That’s one secret that should never have been told. Did I enjoy the Gossip Girl finale? Yes. Does it make one lick of sense that Dan is Gossip Girl? No. Should Gossip Girl’s identity have been a plot point ever in this series? IMHO, no.
I felt that way back when I was writing Spotted, my book on Gossip Girl, and included this sidebar on the potential of revealing GG’s identity toward the end of my season 1 episode guide:
“And who am I?”
While it may be the one secret she’ll never tell, the question “Who is Gossip Girl?” is asked at the beginning of every episode. Her identity was never revealed in the book series, with Cecily von Ziegesar commenting, “Originally the books were going to be this unfolding mystery about figuring out who Gossip Girl is, but then the characters’ stories took over. And that became a behind-the-scenes mystery that didn’t really matter anymore.” Stephanie Savage gave an equally vague response to the question, saying with a laugh, “We are all ‘Gossip Girl.’ We all feed that chain, participating in that circle and circus of information, whether we want to admit it or not.”
From the first episode of the show, it became clear that while Gossip Girl has agency in the plot and affects the lives of these characters (spreading information, encouraging characters to take action, ruining Blair’s birthday party), she’s a narrative device. Period. She has the omniscient ability to see and know things no army of cell-phones-in-hands gossipmongers could tell her.
Exhibit A: in the pilot episode, Gossip Girl instantly knows that Blair and Serena have had a falling out before the girls have even talked to each other — Nate’s told Blair about the Shepherd wedding, and Chuck has confronted S, but the rest of the world has no way of knowing. Ah, but what if one of them is Gossip Girl? On to exhibit B: when Blair and Chuck start making out at the end of “Seventeen Candles,” Gossip Girl calls Chuck “the gift that keeps on giving.” (Ha ha! Ew.) How does she know they’ve hooked up before and are hooking up again? In the next episode’s home page story, she’s back to not knowing (“What did Serena see?”).
Gossip Girl is used well and to the writers’ convenience to provide snarky commentary and truisms, to drive the plot, and to raise the stakes, but let’s all cross our fingers that her identity is never revealed. It would be like asking the audience to pay no attention to the writers behind the curtain.
Ah well. At least crossing my fingers for Kristen Bell to make a cameo worked.
The end of Gossip Girl is upon us, and it’s making me all nostalgic for seasons past… Season 6 has not been my favorite, to put it kindly, but as the plot meanders and the characters spin in circles, one thing that has not wavered since the show’s premiere back in 2007 is how flipping good this show looks. So well made. I wonder how it will all end tomorrow…
I went to NYC a few weeks ago, and somewhat unintentionally it turned into a Gossip Girl Nostalgia Tour. First off, we were staying at the Empire Hotel (which I stayed at a few years ago), and just across the way is the Lincoln Center and the David H. Koch Theater (another GG location). Wandering around the city, it’s hard not to think of what’s been filmed there, and of course when we happened upon the Palace Hotel, it was mandatory photo taking time. Luckily, we ran into Maurice, the Palace Hotel employee who takes GG fans on impromptu mini tours of the hotel. He was the best.
He showed us the Gilt bar, the kitchen where Chuck had the grilled cheese made for Serena, the cotillion ballroom, the brunch room and the staircase S and N scurried down, the library — and every room is stunning. This hotel is well named, and built in 1882 as a private residence. Wander around the lobby if you get the chance. It is luxurious. [Sorry for the slightly terrible photos — we were moving quickly!]
That night, we went to Sleep No More, which you may remember from last season, at the suggestion of my friend who does not even watch Gossip Girl. I could pretend like I was just super cultured and into experimental NYC theater and that’s why I knew what she was talking about. It was creeeeepy. At first, I was giggling under the mask that I wasn’t allowed to take off (and no talking!) but then I got into it. The “hotel” is huge and full of all the nightmarish things you can think of. You just wander around, you can follow the performers if you like, or open up drawers and peer inside. Sometimes it felt like being in a live immersive episode of So You Think You Can Dance — the performers don’t really speak (they make some grunting noises at times) but they dance the scenes. I think you could go multiple times and see different stuff — we didn’t follow the performers around too much (it can get a bit crowded with other masked audience members) so I’m sure we missed some of the Macbeth-ish action. (Tho we did see the King killed!)
All to say, that trip made me wistful about Gossip Girl. It was the first show I ever wrote seriously about. My book on the first two seasons of the show was a huge undertaking for me, one I was not sure I was capable of, and it set me off on a path that I didn’t know was ahead of me! I loved writing about Gossip Girl; I loved talking about GG with Angela and company on TGAD; it’s the first fandom I was a part of and the first show that introduced me to awesome people online with whom I became friends.
Gossip Girl gave me a crash course in classic American film, in fashion, in New York. It led me to discover people like Norman Buckley, who I think the world of, and it paved the way for other series I adore like Pretty Little Liars. (It also gave me a go-to Halloween costume for a couple of years: my B was only 100% less elegant than Leighton’s.)
So it’s with a heavy heart that I bid Gossip Girl adieu, and I know I’ll be busting out my DVDs for rewatches time and again when I have that Upper East Side nostalgia for waffles, Cedric, gossip bombs, the steps of the Met, the lobby of the Empire, hairbands, summers in the Hamptons, cotillion, Thanksgiving hijinks, trans-borough pop-bys, Chuck’s limo, B hollering for Dorota or her spot to feed the ducks in Central Park, but, most of all, for the Non-Judging Breakfast Club.
To read more gift ideas for our dear Mystic Falls friends: #TVDChristmas. And winners, please email me your mailing address and your choice of Love You to Death: season 1, 2, or 3? crissycalhoun [at] gmail [dot] com.
[And if you're stuck on gift ideas for that TVD-loving person in your life, might I humbly suggest that the Love You to Death companions make excellent presents? (Also good for indoctrinating those new-to-the-series! First companion guide + season 1 DVDs?)]
good morning… i am having a properly sleepy, brain-won’t-flicker-on type morning, but there are a few things I’ve been meaning to post about here on this old dear bloggy.
I went to Iceland after my Frankfurt Buch Fair trip, and it was literally the best trip of my life. I may have taken over 1,200 photos. Oops? The thing is, with that many photos, it’s turned into this thing that I have to take care of — to sort through them and post the bestest ones, and to remember how to spell the name of the crazy-beautiful place we were in. So I am moving at a glacial place (to bust out one of my favorite Iceland times jokes). So stay tuned for pictures of me looking super happy next to glorious landscapes. Or getting some attention from a friendly roadside Icelandic horse:
An interview at Ain’t Nothing But Music — Pat asked me some great questions about writing the Love You to Death series and my thoughts on TVD and why it is so freaking good.
My alter ego Liv Spencer has a new home! That’s where I’ll post about Pretty Little Liars when it returns, as well as other good stuff along with partner-in-crime Jen Knoch. (In this case, “crime” = “writing.”)
I’ve updated my archive of TVD posts with links to my Vampire-Diaries.net “in review” posts for this season. (I know. You were like drumming your fingers, waiting for this.)
I cannot wait to read the follow-up to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I finally picked up the other day: Days of Blood and Starlight. I also (finally) read Holly Black’s second book in the Curse Workers series, Red Glove, and now I’m in that funny spot of wanting to read the last book desperately and wanting to stave off the end of the series. In that vein, I still have not read the last book in Gail Carriger’s Alexia Tarrabotti series because I will miss her so. So many books, so little time. Cuz I’m watching the telly so much.
Speaking of, I enjoyed the first few episodes of Nashville, but hmmm. It’s already getting a little tired for me. But I do love the songwriting duo of Avery and Scarlett and their beautiful duets: I will download whatever they release on iTunes. Fact.
Otherwise, listening to: Red, Red, Red.