Revenge of the Pet Rock Nerds

Argh, matey.

I’m struggling to finish a novel I promised to someone back in the fall when I was under duress to get out another novel–never a good time to make promises. So as I kept saying, yeah, yeah, sure, no problem on that deadline, I wasn’t thinking about the reality of turning in REBEL ANGELS in February and having to turn right around and pump out about 300-odd pages (veeerrrry odd pages, it turns out…) of something completely different in only two months. Quick! Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow! Yeah, that rarely worked on Dr. Who and it ain’t working here, either.

I look like Bill the Cat and probably smell that good, too, but hey, I’m 290 pages in, and I am really enjoying writing it. That of course makes me paranoid that it sucks. Writers. We’re a confident lot. I always felt that Terry Gilliam had the other half of my charm necklace, and it’s fun to indulge that very absurdist, weird side of me that I don’t let out of the attic when company’s around.

You know what I love? I love thinking I know what a book is about and finding out during the writing of it, that it’s not about that at all but about something totally different. I love discovering that I’m discovering and that it’s not so much about finding the answers as it is finding which questions I want to explore. Or, as it happened to me yesterday, I changed one punctuation mark and that completely ripped the novel wide open for me when I was feeling stuck. Ah. The power of punctuation.

Yes, I am that much of a geek. Question marks rule.

Okay, before I bore everyone into a coma with my Zen and the Art of Novel Writing epiphanies, I’ll just say that the paperback of BEAUTY hit the NYTimes bestseller list today at #7. Whoohoo! It’s actually in print this time, and I felt proud and happy and sort of unreal and a little sheepish when I opened up my paper and read the words, A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray right there. My name didn’t seem like my name but someone else’s. It was a truly happy moment. It almost makes up for the time in sixth grade when some mean kids stole my pet rock collection, and I was left to slobber into my attractive braces-and-rubber bands-combo, “Astrid! Rainbow! Charlie! Where are you?!!!” (Please be sure to envision the accompanying striped Sears polyester sweater straining over my beginner boobs, the delightfully fashionable “Huksy” sized jeans, and shoulder-length stringy hair. I know you want the full effect.) Oh, the pain, the pain.

Well, I think I will celebrate the joy of it all by eating some ice cream with stuff mushed in it while making new iPod playlists. Perhaps a Revenge of the Pet Rock Nerds playlist is in order, n’est-ce pas?

Oh, and thanks for all the birthday wishes–it was lovely.

28 thoughts on “Revenge of the Pet Rock Nerds

  1. I’m 290 pages in, and I am really enjoying writing it. That of course makes me paranoid that it sucks. Writers. We’re a confident lot.

    Thank you for this. I love reading it. Intellectually, I know things such as this are reality. But it helps so much while I’m swimming in my own suckage…it’s kinda like a snorkel, I can breath…a little.

    I changed one punctuation mark and that completely ripped the novel wide open for me when I was feeling stuck.


    I have a whole sack of polished stones sitting on the floor of my office. Would you like a new pet rock collection? Let the healing begin!

  2. yay for A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY being #7! You rock! Every time I walk into a bookstore and I see your book I wish I hadn’t read it because so I could enjoy it for the first time all over again! I can’t wait for the second book! Can we expect it soon? *prays*

    You should totally make your Revenge of the Pet Rock Nerds playlist! hehe


  3. Congratulations on “A Great & Terrible Beauty”! I am such a HUGE fan of that book, it’s not even funny. It’s the only book that I’ve ever read straight through, then upon reaching the ending, opened it back up to the first page and read again. Even my mom picked it up off my bookshrlf one day and adored it.

    Do you know when “Rebel Angels” will be available to buy?

    Thanks for reading this – you are a great inspiration to me!

  4. Congrats!

    On your 290-page progress. (Can’t even fathom…I was psyched when my wip hit the 100 mark.)

    On your paperback hitting #7. So cool!

    Loved reading about your writing process.

    (Pet) rock on!

  5. Lib Meister

    You are always an inspiration.

    I love it when all that stuff happens. Things cracking open. Oh the Joy! The joy! I love the absurd notion of things. I can’t wait to hear about your new book. I hear you may contact me soon for the picking of my new genius friends brain. *squee*

    I can’t wait to show you my super secret absurd dangerous piece of writing at barry fest.

    hurrah! hurrah! sis boom bah!

  6. A gushing thank you (with even a little spittle, yes), for posting. There’s a hungry lot of us who love to read you. Of course this is no surprise, #7-on-the-NYTimes-bestseller list. You are consistently inspiring (important to me since my muse is out whirling around with some pimpy real estate agent).

    I’m wondering when you face revision if you put the piece down for a bit or if you get to the grooming immediately.

    Congratulations for not only making the list, but being in the top ten, no less.

  7. I have so much sympathy for you on the pet rock front. Except instead of pet rocks for me, it was a ducks head, and in the end it wasn’t actually stolen, I’d just left in in the back of my desk (and oh boy, that one was a fun discovery at the end of the year). But I think I was probably wearing the exact same polyester striped sweater from Sears, and in the end, isn’t that all that matters?

    Congratulations of the NY Bestsellers list! Also (belatedly) on your birthday, now that I think of it.

  8. Just now discovered that you indeed do have a livejournal. I flipped back an entry to discover that someone else on this planet knows what monkey bread is besides my family! Yay! I was surprised and delighted. By the by, I have possessed the hardback copy of Beauty for some time now (and am re-reading it at the moment) and cannot WAIT for Rebel Angels. Happy belated birthday!

  9. I have only just discovered your livejournal as well, and I wanted to comment even though I don’t have much to say. I really loved A Great and Terrible Beauty and I can hardly wait to read Rebel Angels.

    I think that you chose great names for your pet rocks. If I were a kid, I would have totally been friends with you (not to imply that you didn’t have any friends, that’s not what I mean, it’s just that when I was that age I was the kid who secretly wished she could have some pet rocks, and probably would have if it wasn’t for her deathly fear of the mean kids)

  10. 300 pages in two months?! Ohhh, Libba, Libba, Libba. You are a little too talented and productive for your own good. If you ever need lessons on how to waste time like a pro, I’m here for you.

    Congratulations on making the NY Times bestseller list!

  11. Argh matey!

    Hi Libba! This is Colleen from Ohio. I just thought I would say “you’re welcome” in response to your thanks on birthday wishes. Your birthday is four days before mine. I think your entries are REALLY amusing, and I’m sorry the sixth graders were mean to you and your pet rocks, whose names are really sweet! I’m in sixth grade myself, and I if some kids stole my pet rocks, me and my friends would take the satanic morons out. We’re really nice actually, but it’s really fun to see boys cry sometimes. Maybe that’s mean, but it’s funny how they think they’re all tough and they cry over the stupidest things. Boys are such wimps!

    P.S: I’m sure Rebel Angels is going to be SSOO AWESOME! I already ordered it from Amazon.Com. Just thought I’d share, you seem kinda pessimistic about it, I have a friend who’s like that.

  12. Curious

    I saw in the online interview that was on your site, that there was a movie. Has it come out yet because I have yet to find it.

    PS Do you have any advice for me? I love to right poems and stories but I feel as if i’m going now where.

  13. how odd this is.

    I bought Beauty a couple of months ago, Because I haven’t actually sat down to read in forever. I bought it and didn’t open it until a couple ddays ago and will be finishing it tonight. I’m amazed to find you have an LJ and I will be totally utilizing it for inside info LoL. I didn;t even realize how recent the book was I’m looking for sequels, movies other works you’ve written… I want, wait no, need more πŸ™‚

    I’m a sucker for historical Fiction and the added magic sent me right over the top. Huge fan πŸ™‚

  14. What ho there.

    I believe I am going to have to kidnap you and lock you in my closet. You’d have very good company… I’ve got a painter (Colin Firth!Vermeer of “Girl With a Pearl Earring”) and a deformed musicial genius (Gerald Butler!Erik of “The Phantom of the Opera”) in there as well.

    Oh, and Doran, but he comes out quite frequently because he’s my character.

    Anyway, I am here not only to tell you that you are the coolest person alive, but to also mention that appears to have lost it’s scrollbar. I’m terribly sorry to bring you this news, but I’d like to be able to see what’s on the site.

    Also; 300 pages in two months? EEEK! I did 100 pages last January… nearly killed myself. Of course, my schoolwork slacked because of it and I kept writing pages out at work when I was supposed to be feeding the puppies or something. Now I’m putting that aside to work on (Insert Blatant Self-Promotion Here) The Backer Street Fanfiction Academy which I am terrible about updating, but is my most snarky project at the moment.

    (Oh, come on, click the link and read it. It’s got a boarding school set at the turn of the century, mini-Hounds of the Baskervilles, a scary Coordinator and Headmistress who calls herself Miss Juliet and is my Blatant Self-Insertion Character, and paragraphs like:

    One slightly dark (it was a full moon) and not-so-stormy (but extremely muggy) night millions of people sat down at their computers and attempted to log on to the Internet. Some checked their email, others went in search of cheat sheets or a pre-written essay to hand in at class the next day, others stared at their screen waiting for anyone to sign on to their buddy list so they could annoy them to death, and others banged their heads on their keyboards waiting for their stupid computers to connect to the internet and mutter about how much they hated dial-up.)

    I believe it is time to end this extremely long comment and go about my buisness. Have added you to my friends list even though I don’t really live here anymore. I moved over to greatestjournal ’cause it’s free and I can do cooler stuff with my journal. I’m inkforblood over there if you’re ever amazingly bored and want to look me up.

  15. πŸ™‚

    I am DYING for Rebel Angels. I read beauty AGES ago (before it was published, ARC’s rock baby) and I am YEARNING for more. DO YOU HEAR THAT LIBBA, YEARNING πŸ˜‰

    Congrats on the #7 spot. Awesome. Not suprising, but awesome.

  16. Idea

    Have you ever thought of having a message board for your book(s)? Where we could post, talk about stuff, et cetera? It would be fun, a lot of fun. And, I’ll mod, because I have no life.

  17. *extremely audible gasp heard halfway around the world to china* You.Have.A.Livejournal.

    Is it just me, or is it strange to find that my literate-hero has a livejoural, and I have access to more than just the overly entertaining interviews I can find online at 2.30 am on a school night? . . . Maybe it’s just me.

    I am a die hard fan of A Great and Terrible Beauty, and now have a huge urge to read your wonderful materpiece (kiss-up? not me…) again, but my friend borrowed it, got in trouble for reading it when she was supposed to be cleaning, and now it is in the hands of her mother – who promised to return it to me months ago and since then I have visited her house multiple times, and it is still not returned to me. That’s what I get for letting it out of my sight.

    A thousand congrats for making top ten (no surprise here – 7 must be a lucky number or something, that’s why it wasn’t higher), and have a very merry Un-Birthday today!

  18. congrats!

    I have to say, I bought Great and Terrible Beauty 2 days ago, and i finished it last night.I couldnt put it down. Sucha good book, i love how in depth the characters get. Can’t wait for the next one…..STILL WAITING! once again congratulations. πŸ™‚

  19. Love the first book

    I love reading! I was in need to read another book, and I thought the cover of beauty was interesting and sat down to read it… I couldn’t put it down! I finished like a half hour ago, and might read it again. I can’t wait till the next one comes out! My friends are all in line to borrow it! where did you come up with the idea to write this book?

  20. hey libba! loved the book!

    hey libba!
    its a funny thing, i just finished a great and terrible beauty about…oh no more the 6 minutes ago haha. it was amazing! today my friend erika and i(erika lended me the book after reading it for the 12th time) were talking about how there is a sequal to a great and terrible beauty! and we were all happy and such haha.i’m 13 yrs old now and love to read, so far this books my favorite, kep writing, your awesome at it, and i cant wait until your next novel! whoo hoo!

  21. i think that your writting is great and can’t wait for Rebel Angels to come out this summer. one thing though that bothers me is your commenting ono George bush

  22. I read Zen and The Art of Novel Writing, actually.
    I didnt know what to make of it, except that Bradbury’s How-to on Novel writing, is alot like his books… you only truly understand it if you’re more than 60% insane. Which could possibly be true for most writers, (and well, me) anyway.

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