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Nov. 21st, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

I've Joined the Twitterverse

For some time, I’ve been under pressure to Tweet. It’s apparently not enough to Facebook, blog, webpage, and email.
I resisted. I’m a fantasy writer. 140 characters is too small a space to turn around in.
The Twitterati persisted. “It’s really quick and really fun and really viral,” they said.
Really? I thought. Let’s just see who’s on there.
When I looked into it several years ago, it seemed like Twitter Literary was mostly librarians, language arts teachers, agents, editors, and writers avoiding their deadlines. Not so many teenagers, save the odd book blogger. 
“My audience isn’t on Twitter,” I said smugly. And put it into the old, “one day you’ll have time for this” file. Which usually means, “I’ll adopt this just as everyone else is departing for the next techstination.”
Facebook was like that. By the time I was on Facebook, your grandmother was pestering you with friend requests.  
While I dawdled, the Twittervirus sent its tentacles into every corner of my life. The cool writers became @libbabray, @sarahdessen, @realjohngreen, @neilhimself--even @SalmanRushdie--while I languished in digital darkness. 
I’d sit on author panels while everyone else—including my fellow panelists—tweeted away. I’d say something—anything—and hear people in the audience tapping on tiny keyboards. And I wondered—are they tweeting what I just said, or are they just checking email? 
So I’m at the World Fantasy Con, where @neilhimself is the guest of honor, and I’m hanging with awesome writers like @hollyblack, @cindypon, @malindalo, @kehealey, and @gregvaneekhout, and the topic of Twitter comes up. And I’m all, “That’s it, I’m going to do it, I’m going to get on Twitter.”
“You already are,” @cindypon says.
“No, I’m not,” I say.
“You have 80 followers,” @cindypon says. “@cindachima, I’ve been tweeting you all during the con.”
“Have not.”
“Have. @hollyblack has, too.”
Huh, I think. Maybe at some point in the past, in a frenzy of social networking guilt, I signed up.
“Um. Have I ever Tweeted?” I ask humbly.
“No,” @cindypon said.
“Oh, no,” I say. “You must think I’m stuck-up. Or I have nothing to say!”
“We just figured you were squatting on the site to keep anyone else from taking it.”
“Right. That’s exactly what I was doing. But now I’m really going to Tweet. And follow some people. And maybe create some tiny urls.”
I try every email and password I’ve ever used, and I cannot get into the @cindachima account. I keep trying until they lock me out.
I send a trouble ticket to Twitter. No dice. Unless I have the email address or password, I cannot access the account.
For over a week, every time an old password surfaces in my mental files, I hurry back to Twitter and try to get in. No luck.
Well, I think. I can always set up the @realcindachima account. And then tweet to whoever stole my @cindachima account. I’ll just give them a good scolding in 140 characters or less.
Then my agent emails me. He’s in LA, visiting with our film agent.
 Oh, by the way, Vince saw that @cindachima was available on Twitter, and he snagged it for you a while ago. Do you want it?
Oh.
So now I’m in. I’ve set up my profile, and I’m following a few people (always seems stalkerish, but I guess being followed is a good thing in Twitterworld. I’ve Tweeted, re-Tweeted, and created a tiny URL.
Hey! Where did everybody go?
I tweet @cindachima.
 
 

Nov. 14th, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

Now Autumn Burns

“Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods
And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt.”—William Allingham

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”—Faith Baldwin
“Why is it always fire?”—Han Alister, The Crimson Crown 
  On Sunday, it was blustery and warm, so we decided to take a hike, reasoning, as we do on every fine autumn day, that it might be the last of the season.
We drove up to North Chagrin Reservation, one of the Cleveland Metroparks, to join a walk along Beechnut Fox Trail with Mindy, a Metroparks naturalist.
Along the way, we saw wooly aphids clinging to a tree—bits of fluff that wriggle in an uncanny, rather creepy fashion.
Mindy pointed out “hickory drops,” parasitic wildflowers that grow on hickory roots. And we spotted a large, rather obscene burl on one tree.
After the organized walk, we decided to hike further on our own. Mindy suggested the Sylvan and Overlook Trails, which wind through A.B. Williams Woods, a first-growth forest named for the region’s first naturalist.
We scuffed through beech leaves, threading our way between towering red oaks, past the ruins of a nature center struck by lightning decades ago. We spotted a doe grazing along the trail. She didn’t seem particularly worried by our presence.
As dusk grayed the greens and browns of the autumn woods, the trail angled along a peninsula overlooking a deep ravine.
We looked down, and saw flames—like an angry, infected wound in the dark flesh of the woods.
We stared, open-mouthed for a long moment.  The flames swept outward in a large circle, driven by the fitful winds. It mostly grazed on the leaf litter on the forest floor, occasionally sending sparks into the treetops.
Possibilities stumbled through my mind. Was it some kind of bonfire, or circle of bonfires? Druids? Wizards? Underage drinkers?
I pulled out my cellphone and called the Nature Center.
“Hi. Um, we were just on the autumn hike. And now we’re on the Sylvan Trail and there’s a big fire.”
I explained it all to Tracy, the other naturalist, and she called Ranger Dispatch. We hiked back to the trailhead to meet the ranger. Meanwhile, Mindy hiked down to where we had spotted the fire.
All the way back along the trail, the ranger kept saying, “How much farther is it?” and “Do you think it’ll go out on its own?”
When he saw it, he said, “I’ll go call the fire department.”
My husband and I hung out with Mindy at the top of the ravine, waiting for reinforcements, feeling helpless since we had no water, no foam--nothing to put it out with. When the wind died, the flames would crouch low, dying in the sodden leaves at the bottom of the creekbed. When the wind picked up, the flames would roar up the ravine. It expanded significantly while we watched.
A panicked squirrel raced past me, and I kept thinking of the forest fire in Bambi.
Soon, we heard sirens all around us, and Mindy updated the firefighters via her cell phone. We saw emergency lights flashing on Chagrin River Road, across the ravine. But nobody could figure out how to bring any equipment close enough to work the fire.
And then, blessedly, the wind died. By now it was full dark.
Eventually, we saw flashlights, and heard the crackle of radios as fire fighters worked their way through the woods toward us. 
“Are you all right?” they called.
“We’re fine,” we said. “We’re glad you’re here.”
It didn’t take long for the Willoughby Eastlake firefighters to smother the flames on our side of the ravine. They were still working the fire along Chagrin River Road when we left. The firefighters loaned us a flashlight so we could find our way back to the trail.
The firefighters suspected arson. There had been several suspicious fires in the reservation.

Nov. 8th, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

How We Celebrate Halloween Around Here: The Pumpkin Roll

After I moved to this quirky town, the natives told me about certain seasonal rituals. The spring Bacchanalia is known as Blossom Time—a three-day party that happens every Memorial Day weekend.
That first Memorial Day, I found out that this town knows how to throw a party.
The fall ritual is known as The Pumpkin Roll, and it happens—well—it’s a secret.
“What do you mean, it’s a secret?” I asked, instantly intrigued.
“Well,” my informant said, “It’s unsanctioned.”
“Unsanctioned? Why? What is it? Who does it?” I persisted.
She leaned closer. “On a secret night around Hallowe’en time, the junior and senior classes at the high school bring hundreds of pumpkins to the top of Grove Hill, smash them on the roadway, and then slide down on the pumpkin guts.”
“They do not!” I said.
“They do.  It makes a huge mess.”
“That’s awful,” I said, thinking, That’s awesome! “Um. Where do they get the pumpkins?”
“They steal them. They call it ‘pumpkining.’ Around here, you have to watch your pumpkins.” 

I needed the down-low, so I got online.
According to Wikipedia, the tradition began in 1909 as a “dump and run,” but has evolved into a more elaborate event, beginning with a party in a barn. In 2005, a record 22,000 pumpkins were smashed on the hill, which made me wonder who counted them. Police interference has had little effect over the years, though students caught stealing pumpkins are arrested. There’s considerable underage drinking, numerous injuries, but there have been only three deaths
It sounded like sort of a local “running of the bulls.” Planned by teenagers.
I am amazed, delighted, and appalled, all at once. How could such an event keep happening, at a time when helicopter parents drive their children to the bus stop?
Me, I was determined to be on scene for the roll.
As the trees turned to red and gold, I noticed that the local greenhouse offered “Pumpkin insurance.” If you bought a pumpkin from them, and it was stolen, they would replace it. Once.
At the annual October cleanup, the ladies on the Beautification Committee were already complaining about stolen pumpkins.
“They stole them right off my porch,” one woman said. “That’s twice now. I’m not buying more.”
“That’s terrible,” I said. “Um. When’s the pumpkin roll?”
They stared at me. “It’s a secret,” they said.
“How can I find out? I—ah—want to know when it’s safe to put my pumpkins out again.”
“Maybe you could ask somebody at the high school,” they say, edging away from me.
When I left for San Diego for the World Fantasy Convention, I warned my husband, “Keep an eye out for the pumpkin roll.”
“When is it?”
“It’s a secret.”
Naturally, the pumpkin roll happened while I was in San Diego. There was a photo in the local paper. Somebody tipped the media, obviously.

So I’m down at the salon and Hannah is cutting my hair and I mention the pumpkin roll.
“I was there!” she said. “It was awesome, because nobody got hurt this year. I always go and try and look out for the kids.”
“Have you…actually participated?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said. “When I was in high school. I got pretty badly hurt.”
“What?!”
“I was walking back up the hill, and these guys were coming down and wiped me out and I hit my head on the pavement and they had to take me away in an ambulance,” Hannah said cheerfully.
“And this is…a fond memory for you?” I ask cautiously.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “I was the only one sober. Doesn’t it just figure?”
It does.

Nov. 2nd, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

Meet Me at the Buckeye Bookfair This Weekend!


Meet me at Buckeye Bookfair in Wooster, OH This Weekend!

Buckeye Bookfair
November 5, 2011, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Fisher auditorium
OARDC/OSU Campus
Wooster, OH
www.buckeyebookfair.com




Hope you can come out for my last Gray Wolf Throne event before I buckle down and get me some writing done.

Oct. 23rd, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

Decaffeinated

My father was a truck driver—he drove thousands of miles during his driving career—maybe millions.
He knew that the road can be a scary, unpredictable place—a mental and physical minefield. He developed strong opinions about road food. There were truck stops and cafes he frequented, because he knew the food was good and the coffee was hot and black and served up in bottomless cups. He drove and drank coffee and smoked unfiltered Chesterfields, in an ongoing duel between nicotine and caffeine.
Me, I don’t use nicotine—but I’m like my father in other ways. Caffeine is important to me—especially when I’m on the road, and time changes and exhaustion require a boost from my drug of choice. I’m not someone to swill down energy drinks or stimulant pills—I prefer my caffeine delivered in coffee, iced tea, or Coke Zero. Diet Pepsi in a pinch.
To be precise—I mean fresh, high quality coffee with real cream or milk (no sugar,) brewed (non instant) unsweetened iced tea, and Coke Zero in a bottle (no fountain drinks, please.) When I’m in a hotel, I like a little refrigerator to keep my Coke Zero in.And I'd love to pour it into a real glass.
Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. 
Well, in at least one hotel I stayed in, it seems you can special-order a glass. 
I hate those hotel mini-bars that are designed to keep you from putting any of your own stuff into them. In case you don’t get it, they usually carry strident warning signs—“Don’t even think of putting any of YOUR stuff in here. And if you touch any of OUR stuff, you WILL BE CHARGED.”

You know they know what you want—that’s why they have that sign. And typically all the food in the mini-bar is laden with sugar, salt, and fat, and the beverages are too expensive.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Some hotels have figured it out.

I love having a coffee maker in my room—it allows me to take a caffeine hit before I meet the public—which is good for both me and the public. But sometimes you’re better off doing without.
I don’t care for Styrofoam cups—I can’t help but imagine the foam dissolving into my coffee, creating a chemical cocktail. And I despise those little condiment packs with the powdered creamer. Read the ingredients sometime if you want to make your heart go pitter-pat. Stir that into your coffee and the grayish scum result is hardly appealing.

Many in-room coffee-makers brew a cup at a time while producing a mountain of packaging debris. 
Want to heat up your coffee? You have to make another cup. They know it’s annoying—that’s why they have the little sign.
Does that remind you at all of this?
There seems to be a decaffeination trend in the Denver and San Francisco airports. Last time I was there, all the coolers in the gift shops and newsstands contained bottled water and fruit juice. 

Maybe it’s part of some kind of health initiative, but I noticed that the Ghirardelli and ice cream and deep fried food vendors were all still there. 
Never mind that the fruit juice is full of sugar and calories that I don’t need. I had to walk from shop to shop to shop to finally locate pop in bottles.
As if life on the road isn’t hard enough!

Oct. 19th, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

Sign Up Here For Email Updates About Me and My Books!

I often hear from readers who've missed some critical bit of news--for example, that I'm visiting their town. Or I've just signed a deal for two more Heir books. Or that there are actually FOUR books in the Seven Realms series instead of three. Or there's an opportunity to win free books or other swag. And people ask me, Couldn't you email me when your next book comes out?
Well, now I can. If you'd like to receive occasional updates (I'm thinking 3 or 4 times a month) about author events, honors, new releases, movie rumors--whatever--you can sign up for my Google mailing list.

You can visit my group and join it here.

Oct. 12th, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

New Interview and Free Writing Workshop in Chagrin Falls

Here I'm interviewed by Bill Kenower of Author Magazine at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA.

FANTASY WRITING WORKSHOP
CHAGRIN FALLS LIBRARY

Chagrin Falls, OH
October 20, 2011 6-8 p.m.

There's still time to sign up for a free fantasy writing workshop at the Chagrin Falls Library.

More info is here.

Sep. 30th, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

The Tour Is Over--But More to Come in October!!

Well, the official Gray Wolf Throne tour is history. The laundry is in the hamper, and the suitcase is back in the closet for now.
I had great intentions of blogging/posting every day, but some of that foundered on the rocks of reality. Many nights I returned to the hotel at 10 p.m., sat down at the computer, and immediately fell asleep in my chair.  
It was wonderful to see so many of my online friends in person. Thank you to everyone who turned out along the way—you rock!! You’ll find photos of many of the events on my website here  (scroll down to past events.) Thanks to the Webmaster for getting everything posted up so promptly!
I have some exciting events coming up in October—from local gigs in Ohio to appearances in Spartanburg, SC and the San Diego area. Hope to see you at one of these!
           
Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library
Magic on the Page: Writing Young Adult Fantasy
Tuesday, October 4, 2011, 7 p.m.
3512 Darrow Road Stow, OH 44224
330-688-3295
OELMA Annual Conference
Ohio Educational Library Media Association

October 13-14, 2011
Columbus, OH Convention Center
http://www.oelma.org/Conference.htm
Spartanburg Teen Reading Festival
Teencentric 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011
http://www.infodepot.org/zTeen/SCPLteencentric.asp
Cuyahoga County Library Chagrin Falls Branch
Writing Workshop: Worldbuilding, Elements of Fantasy Writing
October 20, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
100 East Orange Street
Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022-2799
phone 440-247-3556
Books by the Banks Bookfest
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Duke Energy Convention Center
http://booksbythebanks.org/
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Oceanside, CA
Author Reading and Signing Event
With Cinda Williams Chima, Garth Nix, and Sean Williams

Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
El Camino North Shopping Center
2615 Vista Way
Oceanside, CA 92054
760-529-0106
Diversity in YA Signing Event
with Cindy Pon, Holly Black, Malinda Lo, Greg van Eekhout, Paolo Bacigalupi and Karen Healey
Thursday, October 27, 2011, 7 p.m.
The Poway Library
13137 Poway Rd.
Poway, CA 92064
858-513-2900
Library website: http://sdcl.org/locations_PW.html
Diversity in YA Website http://www.diversityinya.com/
World Fantasy Convention
October 27-31, 2011
Town and Country Resort and Convention Center
500 Hotel Circle North
San Diego, CA 92108
http://www.wfc2011.org/html/mainmenu.html

Sep. 18th, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

ON TOUR IN WICHITA!!

 HOST: WATERMARK BOOKS & CAFE

 WHEN: Monday, September 19, 6 p.m.

 WHERE:  471 E. Douglas Av., Wichita, KS

 CONTACT: (316) 682-1181 



















I am on the ground in Wichita. I've already taken a walk along the
river, and I'm looking forward to hanging out with book-lovers here.
Cover, Enchanter Heir

The Revised Website: Take A Walk Around!

In collusion with the Webmaster, I’ve been making changes to my author website, based on reader feedback. I’ve added lots of new content, geared to the kinds of questions I usually get. Hopefully this will make it easier to find answers to questions, whether you are an interested reader, or you’re working on a book report or school project.
I hope you’ll like what you see. Let’s take a look!
Reminder: you may need to refresh your screen in order to see the changes.
<>·<>
Anthologies/Nonfiction: I’ve added a page specific to Anthologies/Nonfiction to showcase my shorter work. And taken down the links to my nutrition articles. 
Contact Page: reorganized with links to content that will help you find the information you’re looking for
FAQ: The FAQ pages has been reorganized and the questions grouped and linked so you can actually find the answer, if it’s there. 
Signings and Appearances: Want to know where I’ll be? Questions about inviting me to your school or library? You’ll find all the information here. 
Help for Writers: Expanded, including a FAQ for Writers page. Many of the questions I get are about the writing process, publishing, etc. Hopefully this will be a resource for my present and future competitors. 
Teachers/Librarians/Students: I also get many questions related to book reports, school projects, academic competitions, and the like. I’ve posted a new section including FAQ for School Projects, discussion guides for the Heir Chronicles, and an extended bio for those for whom the brief bio just isn’t enough!
I hope you like the changes—as always, let me know
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