bride of the tornado cover dare to know cover order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


Gingerbread Palaces! Masquerading Aunts! Fewmets Haiku!

December 17, 2008

The Belgian Prankster sign

In my last post I wrote about the amazing fan art I’ve seen for The Order of Odd-Fish. But what about fan art you can eat? Over the weekend, my niece Freya and nephew Theo, along their friends Georgia and August, pulled off a bold project: a gingerbread version of Aunt Lily’s ruby palace!

Gingerbread Ruby Palace

They populated the ruby palace with Odd-Fish characters. Below are closeups of Sefino fulminating about the latest Eldritch Snitch, Aunt Lily dancing on the roof, Jo wandering the garden, and Colonel Korsakov skulking under the eaves.

Sefino Aunt Lily
Jo Colonel Korsakov

Fantastic work — and delicious! Freya and Georgia showed me the gingerbread ruby palace on Sunday, after I did a reading and signing at Oak Park’s Magic Tree bookstore.

Reading at the Magic Tree Bookstore

Another mouth-watering surprise of the evening: our friends Jennifer and Jay’s chocolate chip AND BACON cookies.

Doesn’t sound like it should work, right? But it did. Like a dream of a dream.

Sandee and Marissa

As you can see, my own family is not to be outdone. At Thanksgiving, my aunt Sandee and cousin Marissa dressed up as Aunt Lily and Sefino and did a dramatic reading from Odd-Fish. It was a hoot! (I never before realized how similar Aunt Sandee is to Aunt Lily.)

They were going to perform this as a surprise for my book release party (with Sandee’s friend Frank as Colonel Korsakov) but had to cancel because of an emergency. I was tickled to finally see it. I’m lucky to have such an enthusiastic and creative family!


The last week or so has a whirlwind of readings, including the fun Proximity magazine release party and an appearance at the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend. The above picture is from Lindsay Hunter and Mary Hamilton’s hilarious Quickies! reading series at the Innertown Pub. The premise is that “each reader has five minutes to read a complete work of prose. No poetry. No excerpts. No cheating.” If you read for over five minutes, Lindsay and Mary whistle you off the stage; if you persist, they physically remove you.

Long story short: I played to lose.

A Wind In The Door Cover

Another fun event last week — I got to judge a haiku contest! It was for, a website for JETs who are writers, interpreters, and translators. (They ran an interview with me back in November.) Contestants were required to use a special word of my choice in their haiku. The prize was a copy of The Order of Odd-Fish.

I chose the word “fewmets,” a term which should be instantly familiar to any Madeleine L’Engle fan. Rusty? Take out your copy of A Wind In The Door, then, and turn to the scene in which Charles Wallace shows a mysterious feather to his eleven-year-old twin brothers Sandy and Dennys:

“Hey, this is most peculiar!” Sandy touched the base of the feather. “I don’t think it’s from a bird.”

“Why not?” Charles Wallace asked.

“The rachis isn’t right.”

“The what?” Meg asked.

“The rachis. Sort of part of the quill. The rachis should be hollow, and this is solid, and seems to be metallic. Hey, Charles, where’d you get this thing?”

Charles Wallace handed the feather to his mother. She looked at it carefully. “Sandy’s right. The rachis isn’t like a bird’s.”

Dennys said, “Then what –”

Charles Wallace retrieved the feather and put it back in his pocket. “It was on the ground by the big rocks in the north pasture. Not just this one feather. Quite a few others.”

Meg suppressed a slightly hysterical giggle. “Charles and I think it may be fewmets.”

Sandy turned to her with injured dignity. “Fewmets are dragon droppings.”

I always loved how Sandy doesn’t miss a beat, that he just automatically knows what the word “fewmets” means (not to mention “rachis”).

Wikipedia teaches us that the strict definition of fewmets is rather broader (“the droppings of an animal by which the hunter identifies the prey”), but that is only quibbling. I received many exquisite haiku about dragon poop, and after sifting and considering I finally chose a winner and two honorable mentions. You can read the winning haiku here, along with my commentary.

Finally, I must note some of the fabulous notices The Order of Odd-Fish has been getting! I woke up today to this marvelous review by Veronica Bond in Gaper’s Block. A review like this is, frankly, a writer’s dream come true. More great reviews came from Leaving Shangri-L.A. and Curled Up With A Good Book. I’m delighted, honored, and humbled!

Sometimes these reviews can lead to friendships. About two months ago author Laini Taylor wrote a great review of The Order of Odd-Fish. After reading Ms. Taylor’s review (and exchanging some emails), I got hold of her excellent first novel Blackbringer.

Blackbringer Cover

What a treat! Magpie, a faerie girl, travels the world hunting devils with her posse of squabbling, coffee-drinking, cheroot-smoking crows, collecting and preserving the scattered scraps of the world’s fading magic, but she gets in over her head when she discovers an unholy darkness that is unraveling the very tapestry of reality. The story is strong and satisfying, but what put this book over the top for me were the details: for instance, the way Magpie wheedles the most powerful god in the universe not with some unthinkable sacrifice, but by making him his favorite whimsical cake. Or the fast-paced, nail-biting devil-fighting scenes, which are cinematic in the best sense. Or her world’s carefully worked-out creation myth, which I must not ruin for you, but is tied very cleverly to Magpie’s own origins and the gripping, oh-my-god-how-is-she-going-to-get-out-of-this climax. Best of all, there’s a sequel on the way!

Laini Taylor also has awesome pink hair, updates her blog more often than I do, and creates her own line of faerie-inspired crafts. It’s nice to be friends with another YA fantasy author, but frankly, she makes me feel lazy.

Very well, Ms. Taylor. My new year’s resolution: to step my game up to Laini level.