Today was something of an ordeal.

On Saturday, I got an email from a South African Alera fan, asking if I’d sell him a 36″x48″ print of the map. My rational brain got hopped up on giddy juice at the idea of seeing the map that large, and I called my printer (Influence Graphics–excellent customer service and top-notch work, conveniently located on the same block as my job) and left a message inquiring about pricing. They’re closed weekends, so I knew I wouldn’t have an answer until Monday morning. On one level, I was aware that it would be a lot of redrawing work to QUADRUPLE the size of the map, but I was too swept up in the “How Do I Make This Happen?” in time to bring the extra-large posters to MarsCon.

If I were to have them for MarsCon, I’d need to have the art ready Monday morning. It takes a day for them to print a proof, then two days after approval for the full job. I was going to have to pick up the posters Thursday afternoon and tote them to a friend’s place on Staten Island that night, so the friend’s ride could pick them up in his car.

And then, like an idiot, I only started working on the art yesterday evening. Sure, my weekend was pretty packed with events with friends, including seeing Mummenschantz and nomming at Fred’s, but that’s no excuse for such an oversight. As the gravity of the endeavor sunk in, I resigned myself to an all-nighter. Finally, just past 5am, I realized that there was no way I’d finish in time to leave for work at 8:20. I didn’t want to half-ass something at the last minute–this needed to be a work of time and love, something worthy of taking up a wall.

So I went to sleep. Or at least, I went to bed. My brain was so thoroughly lodged in Must Stay Awake At All Costs mode that I tossed and turned for twenty minutes before the Sandman whacked me over the head with his sandbag. All in all, I got about 2 1/2 hours of sleep.

Needless to say, my brain was in a straaaaaaange place at work this morning. My Twitter provides plenty of condemning evidence.

Around midday, my eyes were so fried from staring at a computer screen that I had to go outside for a 15-minute walk, which was surprisingly refreshing. The day had warmed up somewhat from the morning’s Arctic blast, and nestled inside my big, puffy coat and fuzzy hat, I was quite comfortable. I want to go for 15-minute walk breaks more often. Other folks use more time for smoke breaks.

Finally, when the workday was over, I headed for Chris McGrath‘s apartment. In addition to being a super sweet guy, he’s also exceptionally talented. Chris is the cover illustrator of some of my favourite series: The Dresden Files, the Toby Daye books, and the Mistborn trilogy, to name a few. One of my friends ordered a print of one of his covers, and rather than worrying about shipping it in time for MarsCon, I volunteered to pick it up. We live five blocks away from each other, so it was no hardship!

I love New York.

We chatted briefly, which mostly consisted of him showing me awesome stuff and me making complimentary noises and trying to string together sentences in the proper order, thanks to the sleep debt collectors hammering at my mental doors. I was particularly entertained by the reference photographs he took for the Ghost Story cover. It was so surreal to see Harry Dresden looking down at an invisible grave from a variety of different vantage points and poses, surrounded by lamps and cords and other ungraveyardy things.

And yes, “ungraveyardy” will be a word until I have slept at least eight hours.

He also gave me a print of the Side Jobs cover art that had gotten a little smudge on the white border. It would have been covered by a matte anyway, but he couldn’t sell it. I win!

So for the tl;dr, I am tired, Chris is great, and megasharktopus-sized Alera maps will not be available at MarsCon. I will, of course, be selling the fabulous 18″x24″ posters, which Jim will be happy to sign for you. If you’re not going to MarsCon, you can preorder a signed and personalized map at my site store. Preorders end this Saturday at 3, so if you want a Jim-signed map, you have only five days to act!

And now I owe Jim and Seanan McGuire beta crits and Thematic Consultant comments on the latest pages from the Fool Moon graphic novel, but this blog post has taken all my words. I’m going to see if my eyes can stand the idea of watching Lie to Me and Castle in scintillating HD and hit the sack early. Hopefully, by tomorrow morning, “ungraveyardly” will have ceased being a part of my vocabulary.

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. I haven’t blogged in such a long time that my brain has decided my return needs to be grandiose and epic and cerebral, coupled with a vow to continue blogging every such and such per unit time increment blah blah blah. As a result, I’m thwarting myself before I even begin. Blogging should be fun, not an added stress. Let’s go from there.

So! Recap! For those who have been ignoring my blog in the absence of actual human communication, here’s what’s going on.


Let’s start with the day job! I’m still at Launch in NYC. We have some new faces in Asset Land (we fused Character and Prop Lands), and I remain second in command. Over time, I’ve slowly become to go-to girl for celebrities, and I’ve gotten to create representations of Robert Pattinson, Heidi Klum, Reese Witherspoon, Tiger Woods (pre-scandal, natch), Roger Federer, Jaime Lee Curtis, J.K. Simmons, Bette Midler, and a bunch of Nascar racers whose names I can’t remember, to name a few.

Just before the holidays, I was moved to a new seat, which is a source of frustration. My previous seat was in front of a window–a window ten feet from another building, but a window nonetheless. I could see the sky reflected in another window! I could kind of see the weather, if precipitation was heavy enough! It was great! My new seat is in the corner of a cramped, windowless pit. I have a whole laundry list of complaints, but it even makes me roll my eyes, so I’m not about to post it on the internet, for fear of being subjected to the world’s tiniest string orchestra.

So instead, I’ll focus your attention on the light amidst this darkness: coworker Erica brings her one-year-old Maltese to work, and every day around 5 I’ll declare “Puppy O’Clock” and indulge in some quality snuggling and petting time. While I’d jump at the chance to move to the shiny new 15th floor, with its ergonomic chairs, spacious setup, high-res monitors, brand-spanking-new Wacom tablets, and soaring picture window view of midtown Manhattan, I’ll make do with puppy love for now. Also, my coworkers are hilarious and have fantastic banter, and I hear it’s a lot quieter on 15. I guess it all balances out.


As for Fandom-Land, last year, I created a map for the Codex Alera, which was published in First Lord’s Fury, the sixth and final novel in the series. It will also be included in upcoming reprints of the first four books! I still haven’t gotten over how awesome this is. Every time I visit a bookstore, I have to find Jim’s books, and if they have a copy, I have to open it to the map and be struck all over again with the fact that MY ART IS IN A #7 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING NOVEL and squee like a maniac. Yes, I am lame, but I have awesome-cred to back it up.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback and my fair share of criticism, but my favourite bit of praise came from the blog of a soon-to-be-published author, who was in the process of creating her own map for her fantasy novel. She was studying aspects of other fantasy maps to get her brain-juices flowing, and the three maps she gave particular attention were from the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and FIRST LORD’S FURY. One of these things is not like the other! I tell myself it’s because FLF was published more recently and was therefore readier in folks’ memory, but that’s some pretty flattering company. It’s one thing for folks to admire an illustration I created–it’s a whole different kettle of fish for it to inspire someone else!

I also made an artistic contribution to the upcoming Dresden Files RPG, masterminded by my friend Fred Hicks. It’s the Gruffs from Small Favor. I need to get back in the swing of doing art outside of work. Sure, the fifty-plus-hour work week makes me not want to go near Photoshop when I get home, but it’s the only way I’ll grow.

And another development since I last blogged: I actually wrote something! My disappointing entry to Yuletide 2008 must’ve rattled my confidence, because I didn’t post anything for ten months following it. Sure, I dabbled, but I never brought anything to completion. 5/6 of the way through the year, I did! I organized a Codex Alera ficathon in an effort to generate some fanfiction before the series concluded, and I wrote an Araris-centric fic called “Fading Away.” For Yuletide, I redeemed myself with “Looking Out,” a Spook story that appears to be the first non-crossover fanfic in the Mistborn fandom. Oh, pioneers! Then Kait did a Writing Chat Thingy and I wrote “Letters,” a highly amusing ficlet in which Tavi and Kitai confront the frustrations of grammar.


I started pitching in with my friend Lisa Spodak’s fundraising for the Avon Walk back in July, and over the following months, Lisa finally cajoled me into taking a much more active role in the charity. I’m going to walk in the D.C. event May 1-2, which I’m now training for. I’m so proud of myself; not only am I going to be raising money for a very important cause, but I’m also on an actual exercise regimen, something I haven’t been able to stick to in the past. It’s great to have a goal.

Back in 2004, Lisa created Project Teddybear, in which she collects autographs and photos of celebrities with an Avon Walks bear, which she auctions off on eBay, with all funds going to the charity. I’ve contributed to her efforts by collecting the cast and creator of The Middleman, Billy Boyd of Lord of the Rings, Jorge Garcia of Lost, Robin Thorsen of The Guild, Rick Holmes, and Jim Piddock.

Of course, because of my connections to geeky literature fandom, I’m branching out with Project Teddybear: Geek Lit Edition. (I’m still looking for a good name.) In addition to the photo with a bear, I bring a book for the author to sign–usually the first in a series or their most recent release. I’ve nabbed Jim and Shannon Butcher (The Dresden Files, The Codex Alera, a host of increasingly enjoyable, genre-crossing romance novels), Jane Espenson (Buffy, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, and more), Pat Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind), Jasper Fforde (the Thursday Next series, Shades of Grey), Lev Grossman (The Magicians, David Anthony Durham (Acacia), Brandon Sanderson (the Mistborn series, The Gathering Storm–also signed for PTB by collaborators Harriet McDougal and Maria Simmons), John Hodgman (Areas of My Expertise), Eoin Colfer (the Artemis Fowl series, And Another Thing), and probably a few others who have slipped my mind. At the most recent KGB Fantastic Fiction event, Ellen Kushner was eager to participate, but I didn’t have any of her books on hand, so it’ll have to wait until next month. I also hope to get Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, and guest authors N.K. Jemisin and Michael Shea.


In addition to my increased attendance at book signings, I’m also going to a lot of music events. Leading up to the release of her new album, Katy Pfaffl aka “Mighty Kate” held an abundance of gigs, many of which I’ve uploaded to YouTube, with her permission. I also saw Vienna Teng, Lenka, Billy Boyd’s band Beecake, Regina Spektor, Kristin Chenoweth, Jonathan Coulton with Paul and Storm, and… does a sing-along of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog with Joss Whedon count? How about a performance of Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead? Though I saw that a looooong time ago, so maybe not. I also saw a taping of Inside the Actor’s Studio with James Cameron, which is not even remotely close to a music event, but I didn’t know where else to mention it.

Hmm, what else has happened? I got my first-ever cavities! And I had a torrid affair with an ocelot, because NO ONE, NOT EVEN MY PARENTS, could possibly be still reading at this point. It’s more a historical document for myself. I also failed to blog about San Diego Comic Con, ConDFW (in which I moderated two panels, go me!), and my trip to D.C. for the Inauguration. I’ll see if I can dig up the half-written entries and finish them at some point in the near future. Or not. Whatever.

Don’t forget to floss!

The time is finally upon us! Check out the map I illustrated for Jim Butcher’s First Lord’s Fury, which hits stores November 24th. For those new to my mapsquee, FLF is the sixth book in the internationally bestselling fantasy series The Codex Alera. I’m so thrilled to be a part of it.

Download the map as desktop wallpaper in about every desktop size imaginable:


I’m eager to hear your thoughts. :D