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The Timeline of Books–Past, Present, and Future….

Here’s a photograph that makes me very happy. Can you guess why?
Version 2

It’s a picture of all my books since The Cabinet of Earths! And those three little notebooks at the right end of the photograph….?

Well, those are the notebooks in which I’ve been plotting/planning the next three books!

I’m exceedingly fond of little plotting notebooks. Each project has its own, from the very earliest days (and usually more than one, as I make my way through all those drafts). I try to pick out notebooks that suggest something (to me) about the story gestating inside:

green dinosaurs? = a farm town long ago, as war approaches!
contour maps of hills? = shenanigans in the silent film era! (I KNOW, I KNOW: the connection is OBSCURE! But it works for me…..)
deep blue ground speckled with bumpy patterns of dots? = constellations and danger!

Not every notebook turns into a beautiful published novel–but every notebook MIGHT, so I’m giving them their proper place here, on the part of the timeline that whispers hopefully about the future….

Order CLOUD AND WALLFISH by September 20! Get a Special Un-Birthday Present!

My middle-grade friendship-and-spying novel, CLOUD AND WALLFISH, will be coming out from Candlewick very, very soon: September 20, 2016, to be exact! [UPDATE: September 20 became September 2, so it is out in the world, but we are celebrating this book’s un-birthday all this week, until “September 20″!] [[for more on “un-birthdays” see my post over at the Middle-Grade Mayhem blog: http://project-middle-grade-mayhem.blogspot.com/2016/09/alice-east-germany-and-un-birthday-of.html]

CloudandWallfishHiResCoverThe story: “Noah Brown’s ordinary, everyday life is smashed to smithereens the day his parents tell him his name isn’t really Noah, his birthday isn’t really in March, and his new home is going to be East Berlin, on the other side of the Iron Curtain. It’s 1989, and everywhere all around countries are remaking themselves, but in East Germany the air is full of coal smoke, secrets, and lies. It’s not safe to say anything out loud in the apartment. It’s not safe to think too much about where you came from or who you used to be. It’s also about the least likely place in the world for a kid from America with a lot of secrets of his own (and an Astonishing Stutter) to make a friend. But then Noah meets Cloud-Claudia, the lonely girl who lives one floor down with her terrifying grandmother. Something has happened to her parents, but what? Armed with a half-imaginary map and a shared fondness for codes and puzzles, Noah and Cloud-Claudia have to find their way in a world where walls–and the Wall–are closing in.”

School Library Journal: “A great choice for those looking for a thrilling historical fiction or coming-of-age tale.”
Publisher’s Weekly: “[T]he story’s heart lies in the friendship between Claudia and Noah, and in the lengths loved ones will go to in order to break down even the most formidable walls.”
Cloud and Wallfish is also a Junior Library Guild selection.

But here’s the most important point of all: Cloud and Wallfish is a book I would love for you to read!

So I am collaborating with one of our wonderful Bay Area independent bookstores, Books Inc., to bring you a special UN-BIRTHDAY OFFER! All prepaid orders before September 20 of Cloud and Wallfish through Books Inc. will come to you signed by the author AND with a little custom puzzle based on a photo I took when living in East Berlin in 1989!

Click on this link to order through Books, Inc: http://www.booksinc.net/book/9780763688035CloudandWallfishPuzzleBox
(Books Inc. can’t ship books abroad, though–sorry about that!)

P.S. Why a puzzle? Because it is over a jigsaw puzzle that Noah and Claudia become friends, at a moment when something unspeakably terrible has happened to Claudia’s parents. Sometimes, when words fail, a puzzle can “hold a small part of the chaos of the universe at bay, like a tent built well enough not to leak.” (See Secret File #12, “A Tip for Unspeakably Terrible Times.”)

P.P.S. Come to a launch party for Cloud and Wallfish if you can!
West Coast: Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at 6 p.m., at Books Inc. in Berkeley (on Shattuck Avenue).
East Coast: Friday, October 14, 2016, at 7 p.m., at Book Culture on Columbus (at 82nd Street) in New York City.

P.P.P.S. Thank you! :)

Giveaway for CLOUD AND WALLFISH!

I’m excited to say the first ever Goodreads giveaway is running now for CLOUD AND WALLFISH, my middle-grade friendship-and-spying book set in East Berlin in 1989. The winner of this giveaway will receive a signed advance copy of the book, so go ahead and toss your hat into the ring (in other words: click the clicky thing)!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet

Cloud and Wallfish

by Anne Nesbet

Giveaway ends June 11, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

ROYALLY FUN READS Book Tour, Part 1: Berkeley, SF, Marin County, Los Angeles

WrinkledCrownAnneComboI am quite delighted to be going on book tour around California next week with two fabulous writers of books for kids, Kristen Kittscher,KittscherTiaraCombo author of THE WIG IN THE WINDOW and THE TIARA ON THE TERRACE, tween mysteries with heart and thrills galore, and Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, author of THE GUARDIAN HERD: STARFIRE and THE GUARDIAN HERD: STORMBOUND–adventures with flying horses, folks!AlvarezGuardianHerdStormbound And I, of course, will be talking about THE WRINKLED CROWN. We’re calling this the “Royally Fun Reads” tour because–you guessed it!–there’s a CROWN, and there’s a TIARA, and winged horses are just naturally ROYAL, and we promise this is going to be FUN.
Where & when, you ask?
1. On Wednesday, January 13th at 6 p.m., we’ll be at Pegasus On Solano​ –see event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/468421903355906/.PegasusOnSolano13January2016

2. Then on Thursday, January 14th, at 6 p.m. we will be moving the party across the bay to the Books Inc. in Laurel Village in SF (3515 California Street, SF, (415) 221-3666.BooksIncLaurelVillage

3. Prefer a Marin County venue? Come to Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 94925, on Friday, January 15, at 6 p.m.! http://www.bookpassage.com/event/jennifer-alvarez-et-al-royally-fun-reads.BookPassageBookstores

4. AND if you are in Los Angeles, please oh please come say hi to Kristen Kittscher and me when we appear on SUNDAY, January 17, at 4 p.m. at Chevalier’s Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90004 (323) 465-1334. http://chevaliersbooks.com/2015/12/21/talk-signing-with-popular-middle-reader-authors-kristen-kittscher-and-anne-nesbet/ChevaliersBooksLarchmont

Next month: PORTLAND!! Stay tuned!

Voices Around the Table: Singing All the Stories

I love Thanksgiving, because it means wonderful people from many different parts of our life gathering joyfully around a single table.ThanksgivingSepia It also always means music, because the extended family is decidedly musical. An inventory of the instruments present in our house as we feasted on turkey, stuffing, and pies should give you an idea:

2 banjos
3 guitars
1 viola (but several violists)
0 mandolins, but that was only because the beloved mandolin player had to cancel at the last minute,
4 violins
1 cello
1 piano
1 lourka*

*The lourka was fictional.

*The lourka was fictional.

So this year, the day after Thanksgiving, we went over to San Francisco, to see some hundred-year-old paintings, to eat a large number of dumplings, and–because I nagged and nagged and nagged and insisted–to go hear music coming from a bunch of speakers in a huge room looking out over the Bay. !! But you see, I KNEW THESE SPEAKERS. Here’s how:

Once upon a time–in 2011, long ago–I turned a corner in the Arsenale, Venice’s enormous brick armory-turned-exhibition-hall, because I heard humming.

Around that corner, what did I find? An oval arrangement of speakers in an enormous room, with the pale October Venetian sun slipping in through windows and arched doorways. Venice2011SpemInAlium

The humming wasn’t just humming, as it turned out. It was made up of forty distinct voices singing from forty speakers: a sound installation by Janet Cardiff of Thomas Tallis’s “40-Part Motet,” Spem in alium.

I was completely moved and awed and flabbergasted. The music is beautiful, on its own. (The King’s Singers have recorded an absolutely gorgeous version of Spem in alium, which I heartily recommend.) But what Cardiff has done is to make it possible for us to inhabit that music. By walking around past the speakers, I soon figured the trick out: each singer had been separately miked, and each of those voices then had been linked to a separate speaker. Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.08.33 AMStanding close to any single speaker, you hear not just that particular line of the music, but everything that makes that singer a human individual: the throat-clearings, the notes that break a little in the middle, the entrances into the harmony and the silences when the other voices are singing. Before the voices start singing, Cardiff recorded the minutes when everyone is waiting for the session to begin–the children joking with each other, some of the adults testing their voices, people chatting and just generally being alive.

And then the music takes these very disparate voices, no one of them perfect, all of them so human, and weaves them into something tremendous.

You can walk into the center of the oval, and the music washes over you from one side, from the other side, sometimes from everywhere at once.

That is what I wanted to show these people I love so much, my favorite very human musicians. Eight of us went, ranging in age from eight to on-the-way-to-eighty. Outside the great Fort Mason windows, the sun melted into gold, sank toward the sea, slathered the world with one last intense distillation of light.SunsetGoldenGate The voices sang. The grandchildren snuggled in their grandfather’s arms. The rest of us, mothers and grandmother and cousins, wandered through the music, listened to all the different voices. Sometimes we shut our eyes and basked in the music. Sometimes we looked around to find the people we loved, to bask in their presence as well as the music.

It was like our table, the day before: all the different voices, each one so human, each one with his or her own story to tell, not always agreeing, sometimes in outright dissonance, but willing to sing our separate human parts together.

And that, for me, was and is Thanksgiving.CardiffFortMasonMotet