and with writing before me…

I can’t go far wrong. That’s the Virginia Woolf quotation I used to have under the Tribune header up there, and it pops into my head almost daily now. Because all the books are written!

It has been a very busy year for me thus far: Jen and I wrote Navigating the Shadow World, and originally we conceived it as a companion to the first three TMI books, the upcoming City of Bones movie, and the story of Cassie and the fandom. That would fill a book! Then as we got into it, we just couldn’t stop. So three books swelled to five (to cover the TMI series thus far), and then how — how? — could we talk about TMI without talking about The Infernal Devices? We couldn’t. All to say: There was a lot of writing before me. But the book is finished and shiny and out in the world and it seems like people like it? TMI Source likes it — and that was huge for us.

And with the Swift One, our biography-plus (new type of book, since it is not a straight biography, as a Goodreads reviewer was kind enough to point out…) got an update and rewrite this spring too. Taylor Swift: The Platinum Edition is also longer than it was supposed to be — oh man, this is terrible; as an editor, I hate it when authors submit manuscripts that are too long, and here we go doing it every time — but it’s all Taylor Swift’s fault. She just kept doing stuff? And being interesting. Once that writing was finished up, and the book was off to the printers, Jen and I started writing fan fiction about Taylor. Which I can promise you I never imagined I would be doing this year — or enjoying it so much. The Taylor fans are so kind to us, and so happy to have a place to like Tay without people (or very many people) hating on them and her. Which reminds me how mean people can be. (Why ya gotta be so mean?)

I haven’t written fiction in ages and ages (like maybe since high school?), and as scary as it is to do it, and then post it where an infinite number of people could read it, I gotta say I was pat-myself-on-the-back proud to have done it. Same for writing this short piece for the Toronto Star about going to camp. It was my first time being published in a newspaper (!) and my first time writing about myself — not fan fiction, not non-fiction about somebody else or somebody else’s creation, but a This Happened to Me and Maybe It’s Interesting For You to Read? story. Eep! I just said yes, I’d do it, and then there I was committed to doing it, and so I did it. I think that’s the secret for me: jumping in before I think about it too much. (Baby, just say yes.) (There’s a Taylor Swift lyric for everything.)

So now that Love You to Death Season 4 is written (even the introduction which Vee and I put off to the very last second), and typeset, and (basically almost) off to the printers, what lies before me? What do I do with all my book-writing time?? I have my Taylor stories to write for the next month, but then………? So far, I’ve been filling all my spare time with TELEVISION. I watched all of Scandal. I’m two episodes away from finishing Orange Is the New Black. And it’s both refreshing and kind of sad that that series is so remarkable because it has countless characters in it who are women, the kind of women you don’t normally see on TV, the kind of women who have their own shit going on separate from their relationships to men (mother, wife, sister). You know, like men on most every other TV series. Le sigh. Anyway: refreshing.

8:42. I should get myself to work. This is the bonus of living one minute away from ECW HQ; I can look at the clock, see I have T-minus-18 minutes to get myself in order, and waltz into the office in plenty o’ time. Also the bonus of throwing my hair up in a bun every day.

À bientôt,

p.s. ha — i just looked at my previous posts, and saw I posted a ‘with writing before me’ entry a few short months ago. I guess I like it? will be more creative with next post title & content…..

Dracula: A Poem

I have a lovely sister, but she is not so much (okay, not at all) into the supernatural shows that I spend quite a great deal of time writing about, thinking about, tweeting about, etc. If, for instance, I mention how Love You to Death is ‘just finishing up and about to go to print’ (true story!), she’ll ask, Is that the VD one? And then I have to say TVD, not VD. (Since who wants to be known as a person who writes book after loving book about venereal disease? Not me.)

Vampires are not her scene.

So, imagine my delight when I came across this poem that my sister wrote in grade school. I proudly present it here (with permission); I have honored the punctuation of the original.

Please enjoy . . .


In this gray and dismal, stonemade haven

The only noises are from a raven,

Until those murky, midnight church bells ring,

And a horrid rasping, unearthly thing,

Begins to move its gnawing, blood hungry fangs.

His ice-white hand from the coffin it hangs

For now the “lid” of his bed is ajar,

His moans of hunger can be heard from afar.,

He quietly lingers out of his bed,

His eyes are like pools of fire, bright red.

He evilly glides over to the door,

With a sly grin he leaves to do a “chore”.,

As he wanders through the deserted street,

He spies a sleeping girl who looks quite sweet.,

As he approaches this blood-filled beauty,

He sinks his white teeth into the cutie.,

He drinks and drools until he is content,

And leaves the room without feeling resent,

His hunger for blood is finally fullfilled,

Back to his castle, for he has killed.

morning ramble.

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’d 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, 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.

TaylorSwift_smlBut 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.

Navigating the Shadow WorldThe 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.

Love You to Death Season 4But 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.


Announcing Love You to Death Season 4

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.

Love You to Death Season 4

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!

and with writing before me…

…I can’t go far wrong.

virginia-woolfThat 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.