Kristin Cashore's Blog

February 10, 2016

The views while driving around Rwanda are extraordinary.
Stephanie stopped the car so I could get out. Dave took a picture of me taking a picture (the picture above) :o).
We drove to Butaro, in Burera District in the north, where Stephanie works as a doctor.
This is an out-of-the-way part of Rwanda we're lucky to get to see, generally not a tourist destination.
This is one of the Partners in Health residences, where we got to stay...
...with views.

I woke up at sunset to take some pictures. Dave was already up.
I worked on my revision outside...
with a view.
We walked to the hospital for a visit...
...with views on the way.
The hospital's beautiful. It's fun and interesting to travel with doctors;
normally I don't get to see hospitals in faraway parts of the world, but this is my second in Rwanda so far.

Then, we drove to Musanze.
The drive is along dusty, windy dirt roads built into the edges of the mountains,
and the views of Lake Burera are spectacular.
Look closely; there's a volcano in this picture. Rwanda's got lots of volcanoes.
Stephanie is an intrepid driver, IMO. To the left, beyond those trees, is basically a sheer drop.
One more lake view...
And finally, in Musanze, we reached the Hotel Murabura, where Dian Fossey used to like to stay.
Consider this picture a hint of what my next post is going to be about :o)
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Published on February 10, 2016 12:48 • 18 views

February 9, 2016

Akagera is a game park in Rwanda's east. I think that for the most part, the pictures will speak for themselves. If you're most interested in sub-Saharan African land mammals, skip to the end, but be warned that you'll miss the hippos. Also, please note that one of the bird pictures is actually a hippo picture. :o) Kevin, thank you for Fancy Camera!

This post of about 50 pictures contains a jump break to spare those of you who use certain kinds of blog readers. Just click on the little link that says "Read more" after the eagle picture to see the rest of the pictures.

These trees are full of cormorants and African darters. We saw them from a boat.
"Please," said our guide, "do not put your hand in the water, because crocodiles."
Purple heron.
Not actually sure what we've got here, but it's purdy.
This big guy is a monitor lizard.
Purple heron...
...purple heron.
Female African eagle.
Read more »
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Published on February 09, 2016 05:37 • 15 views

February 8, 2016

The view outside the plane window on the way to this destination...
...was variations on this theme...
...for about six hours.
The capital city is hilly...
hot and hazy...
with many bright flowers.
It's mountainous here.
Cows in a truck.
Rolling hills
and a beautiful sun
and geckos.
Maybe it's time for some direct clues. This is a Kenyan beer...
but I am not in Kenya. This is a Ugandan gin...
but I am not in Uganda.
I am not in Tanzania... but the hills in the backdrop of this picture are.
Maybe this license plate game will help.
This truck is from Tanzania; check out the license plate.
This car is from Uganda.
This truck is from the country I'm in...
as are these cars and motos.
If you've guessed I'm in the beautiful, mountainous country of Rwanda, you win. :o) The first three photos are the Sahara Desert from above, the next three the capital city of Kigali. Next up are pictures from the drive to Akagera National Park, and the picture with the hills of Tanzania in the background was taken in the park. My next post will be pictures from the park, where I was SO HAPPY to be in possession of Fancy Camera. Stay tuned! But don't hold your breath, because the Wi-Fi situation is a bit dire and I'm not sure when the next post will happen.
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Published on February 08, 2016 09:42 • 52 views

February 1, 2016

What is the author knitting?

The knitters among you will recognize this as an i-cord.
Three needles, three stitches per needle... looks fiddly.
Seems to be growing...
And growing....
Basil is riveted.
If these last two pictures seem lots nicer than the others, it's because Kevin took them, with Fancy Camera.
For this picture, I stuffed the ball of yarn into the thing I'm knitting
to make it more recognizable what I'm knitting.
Now beginning to knit a flat back. Decreasing stitches,
more abruptly than I was previously increasing them.
Almost done with the back; almost time to add...
Fiberfill stuffing.
It's what you think it is.
And now I'm knitting the other one...
And now they are done.
So here's the thing: I have the coolest friends. Recently, a friend who was about to undergo a double mastectomy told me about Knitted Knockers, which are soft, comfortable knitted prosthetic breasts. Did you know that silicone breast prosthetics are hot, heavy, and expensive, and can't be worn until weeks after surgery? Knitted prosthetics, on the other hand, are soft, light, and pretty, and, thanks to the organizers at and a lot of volunteer knitters, they're free for anyone who needs them. I just checked out the order page on the website, and there's a drop-down menu that seems to allow for every country, so I think the organization provides these worldwide! Check out this website, it's the coolest thing. And if you're a knitter, all the resources are there for you to knit them yourself. The website accepts donations of money and of knitted prosthetics.

if you're an inexperienced knitter and find this project intimidating – before I knitted these, I had never knitted an i-cord, never used double pointed needles, never used more than two needles at once, and never increased nor decreased stitches. This was a great way to learn all of those skills :o). I did some searching for tutorials on YouTube when necessary, and it turned out that with the exception of the very beginning, when you're working with a lot of tiny, tight stitches on multiple needles, it was easy. It was really enjoyable, to be honest. My friend provided me with this beautiful variegated yarn, and if you're a beginner, I actually recommend variegated yarn. The constantly changing colors make it much, much easier for you to figure out which row is which and tell whether you've made a mistake or not.

Please pass on the word about to anyone who might benefit from it!!!
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Published on February 01, 2016 06:29 • 81 views

January 30, 2016

Kevin has a fancy camera, and he takes lovely pictures. He would say the lovely pictures are because of the fancy camera, but everyone has seen uninspired pictures taken on fancy cameras, so I call bullshit on that. He takes lovely pictures because he's good at it. Here's a photo he took of my most recent Halloween costume.

 I was the forest at night.
Next week, I'm leaving on a very (very!) exciting trip. In the past, when I've gone on exciting trips, I've taken photos on my iPhone, and really, considering the phone's limitations, I guess I can't complain. However, next week's trip is extra exciting, and deserves something more. So Kevin is generously sending me off with Fancy Camera.

Fancy Camera is much more complicated than other cameras I've used! Therefore, I've been practicing. This involves things like lining up some shoes on my living room floor, lying down on the rug, and experimenting with focal points and apertures and shutter speeds and other camera words.

If you're wondering how to achieve these amazing results, the answer is, Fiddling With Buttons. I also recommend Hoping For The Best. Please, everybody pray for me while I'm on this trip. I really want to take some pictures that will do my destination justice, and I won't have the time for all this careful fiddling.

Here are a few more random sights I've managed to capture around town while practicing.

 Happy birthday, Mom :o)
 Here in Cambridge, the bus stops are pretty fancy.
 Random hovercraft on my bookshelf.
This is an example of a picture that, while far from brilliant,
 would have been horrendous if taken on my iPhone…
Harvard Square intersection.
Stay tuned next week for pictures from my mystery destination! I promise that even if they aren't very good, they'll be more exciting than shoes on my living room floor.
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Published on January 30, 2016 18:36 • 89 views

January 22, 2016

This week I discovered that it's astonishingly easy for a person with minimal sewing skills to make a zebra out of socks.

Meet Basil.
It took me maybe two hours to make Basil, no more, no kidding. I used this wonderful sock zebra pattern/tutorial at The Sewing Directory by Caroline Short, with only minor alterations.

Here's how things looked partway through, though those who know Basil
personally may find this picture upsetting and, if so, should avert their eyes.
The quotient of adorableness to effort is very, very, VERY high.
Basil, incidentally, is a sock zebra from the planet Gallifrey.
Consequently he has two hearts, like the Doctor.
Basil likes having cousins. Maybe you should make a sock zebra, too.
The main thing I altered in the pattern is that I wanted Basil to have free arms, separate from his body. If you use tall enough socks (this pair went about halfway up the shin), you'll have enough sock material in the sock you use for the head to create both the ears and a couple of slender arms, which I then hemmed, stuffed, and attached to the torso.

This was so straightforward that I'm not sure why the world isn't overrun with sock zebras.

(Basil says that would be a good thing.)
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Published on January 22, 2016 07:37 • 120 views

January 18, 2016

(These links are by no means exhaustive, but each of them is worth reading, so I wanted to share. Thanks to Becca, Malinda, Sarah, Sarah, Anne, Nancy, and all my friends who keep me in the loop!)

Here's a link to the announcement at Scholastic. An excerpt: "Scholastic is announcing today that we are stopping the distribution of the book entitled A Birthday Cake for George Washington, by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and will accept all returns. While we have great respect for the integrity and scholarship of the author, illustrator, and editor, we believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn."

Here's a perspective from Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, whose research at the University of Pennsylvania includes representations of slavery in children's literature: Children's Literature About Slavery: The Struggle Continues.

Here's Paula Young Lee's perspective at Salon: Smiling slaves at story time: These picture books show why we need more diversity in publishing, too.

Here's Zetta Elliott in the Horn Book: The Writer's Page: Decolonizing the Imagination. (Clarification: this essay was published in 2010. It was not written in response to the recent conversations [unless Elliott is a time traveler, like some of her characters ^_^].)

And here are the thoughts of the book's editor, Andrea Davis Pinkney, who, in addition to being a VP and executive editor at Scholastic, is an African American woman and a Coretta Scott King Award-winner: A Proud Slice of History.

At 5:24 PM edited to add (thanks, Laya):

From Mitali Perkins' blog: WARNING: This Book Might Be Recalled. Read it Fast. Decry it Even Faster.
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Published on January 18, 2016 14:02 • 162 views

January 14, 2016

Here's my office wall....

And here's David Bowie, A Life in Pictures.

Rest in peace, Alan Rickman and David Bowie. You were taken too soon.
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Published on January 14, 2016 08:38 • 223 views

January 10, 2016

It's ALA Midwinter weekend and I'm eagerly awaiting a call from the Unreliable Blogger Award committee. Maybe you guys lost my number?

So, it's well past the point of apologies here on the blog, but I am sorry I've been so absent, I've missed blogging, and in fact, one of my New Year's resolutions is to ease back into blogging more often. I've been great, all is well, the work is moving along, the next book is on the verge of being scheduled. I have so much to say about it, but can't, until I get the go-ahead. Right now I'm in a stage that the writerly among you might be able to sympathize with: I'm working many hours, but with SO little forward progress. The work I'm doing right now requires intense identification with each individual character, combined with intense objectivity about each character, which is a tricky balance. It takes a lot of time and energy. The reason I'm doing this is to get a sense of whether each character rings true emotionally. So, I sink myself into each character emotionally to write a line. Then I become the outside objective reader and read the line I just wrote, in the hopes of getting an objective sense of whether it conveys the thing I was feeling while I wrote it. Because it's not enough for a writer to feel something while she writes it. The reader needs to feel it while she reads it, or else effective writing hasn't actually happened. This particular task involves a lot of backtracking, a lot of following one character through the story while ignoring the others, a lot of going back to the beginning. I suppose it's a good sign that this is where I am, because this only tends to happen in the later revisions. I certainly hope this revision will turn out to be one of the later revisions. :o)

I'll ease myself back into blogging today with a reflection on one of last year's New Year's resolutions: I resolved to bake bread once a month. "Bread," in this context, meant something that needed to be kneaded. I mostly baked traditional yeast loaves (buttermilk, potato, rye, etc.) and at one point I baked a soda bread. I baked bread every month – except December! December got away from me. So, on Friday night, I started an extra special bread to make up for my December folly: the better chocolate babka at Smitten Kitchen. Oh my goodness. This was definitely the winner for the year. If you're interested in trying the recipe but you don't have a standing mixer, don't worry, I don't have a standing mixer either and it was just fine (though I strongly recommend using room-temperature butter!). Very gloppy to knead (because of all the butter), but everything came together well. Thank goodness, I got some super-sharp knives for Christmas (thanks, Mom and Dad ^_^); I wouldn't have wanted to cut through the big tubes of raw dough with dull knives. If you make this bread, definitely follow the advice to stick the dough in the freezer for fifteen minutes before slicing. I left out the cinnamon and the nuts, checked them at 25 minutes and again at 30 minutes; they baked for about 35. Yummy! I suppose I should've taken more pictures in progress, but the ones on the website are lovely (and helpful). Here are the few I did take!

This is the dough's second rise. This bread isn't a big riser, so don't freak out if not a lot seems to be happening!
Out of the oven.
Ready for the feast :o)

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Published on January 10, 2016 15:07 • 320 views

September 25, 2015

Greetings from the Worst Blogger Ever. I'm sorry I've been such an absent blogger lately! First it was because I was taking a much-needed work break, and now it's because all I ever do is work. I have a new book and I'm so excited for the day when I'm finally allowed to tell you guys a bit about it. For the moment, I'm working hard at it, trying to get it finalized. It's a strange book, and I don't know what anyone's going to think. That's out of my control, so I'm not worrying about it too much for now. I'm mostly just immersing myself in the experience of creating it. Once I'm allowed to talk about it, I think I'll have a LOT to say here about the process of writing it.

Soon I hope to be able to tell you what it's called, the premise, when you might actually be able to see it, etc…

In the meantime, I'll probably keep popping in now and then with more randutiae! Today I really, really appreciate Anna March's article at Salon, "Stop calling Pope Francis progressive: You might love his pastoral style, but don’t fool yourself on Vatican substance." YES YES YES. "Progressives should require that Pope Francis, or any leader, meet a minimum standard — to support equal opportunity regardless of race, gender, sexuality, class, disability and migrant/refugee status. To fail in any of these categories is, quite simply, to fail. And Pope Francis certainly fails. Progressives can do better than to laud this man. Progressives can be intersectional in our approach." Please read this article – and please stop calling Pope Francis progressive.

For fun: At the Guardian, "Saint Étienne's urban doodler with a sense of humour." A street artist named Oak Oak makes site-specific art. Love the walrus, the tight rope walker, and the little guy escaping from jail.

I appreciated Kate Harding's article about Susan Brownmiller at Cosmopolitan:  "When a Feminist Trailblazer Turns to Victim-Blaming, It's Time to Let Go of a Hero."  Excerpt: "If, 40 years from now, someone asks me what I think about young anti-rape activists, I hope my ego will allow me to profess admiration for whatever work they're doing to better the new world they've grown up in. But honestly, there's just as good a chance that I'll respond like Brownmiller, carping about kids' lack of historical awareness and respect for their elders, then adding a bunch of crap that sounds hopelessly outdated to anyone pre-menopausal. Either way is fine with me, really. If I get to the point where I have no idea what young activists are on about, or why they don't seem concerned with what most concerns me, it will probably mean they've taken what they needed from my generation's feminism and left the rest behind. I'm pretty sure that's what progress looks like."

Loved the pictures in this tiny slideshow of "The World's Most Iconic Skylines" in Elle Decor (there are only nine).

I love Flipboard's "Pictures of the Week," which bring me the rest of the world on a weekly basis. Every week, the range of topics is stunning. There are so many things going on every day in the world that I don't have the slightest clue about! Lately, I notice that the pictures keep coming back to Syrian migrants and refugees trying to make their way to safety, and I really appreciate the way the photo editors are doing it. Sort of like, "Yes, there's a parade in Mexico City, yes, people are praying in South Sumatra, yes, there are devastating fires in California and Porsche has released a new model... and here's what's still happening to the Syrian people."

Finally, for the pure glamour and weirdness that is New York Fashion Week, here is "New York Fashion Week Goes Glam: Pictures," at Flipboard's Photo Desk.
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Published on September 25, 2015 08:54 • 691 views

Kristin Cashore's Blog

Kristin Cashore
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