Category Archives: Random

Seven countries. Nine cities. One month.

A month abroad goes something like this:

Home → Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland → Oslo, Norway
Oslo, Norway → Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland → London, England
London, England → Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic → Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria → Heidelberg, Germany
Heidelberg, Germany → Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg, France → Dover, England
Dover, England → York, England
York, England → Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland → Home

In photos, it looks something like this:







Oslo sculpture garden












In words…well, I don’t have any.

There are no words for how I felt standing by the bonfire on Calton Hill during the Beltane Festival in Edinburgh.

No words for walking a character’s steps in London.

No words for the view of Prague from the top of the palace steps, or Vienna’s museum quarter with its majestic architecture.

No words for the cozy streets of Heidelberg, tucked into the hills, or the trains gliding through familiar France, or the strange stillness of the grey English channel.

There are no words for those things. Or if there are, I haven’t found them. I haven’t wanted to, just yet.

But in the months leading up to the trip, and during the month abroad, I’ve been asked one question more than any other: WHY. Why did I do this? Surely there’s a reason. In truth, there are three.

And since I’ve only given little snippets of an answer, I thought I would take the time to try and explain.

1. Wander.

If you’ve followed the blog for more than a month or two, you know I have wings tattooed behind my anklebones, both as a nod to Hermes and a reference to my persistent wanderlust. I have a very, very hard time sitting still. It makes me feel static and small in the worst way. Moving, experiencing, making wrong turns and right turns and seeing the world, it makes me happy. Much happier than buying clothes or shoes or a house or whatever else people use money for. I’m lucky in that right now I only have to worry about supporting myself, so I have the freedom to (scrimp and save and budget and plan to use) my resources for travel. Besides, I subscribe to the adage that you can’t write about life if you spend life writing. Yes, I spend a vast, vast amount of time writing, but I would rather do it on a boat or a train or tucked in the corner of a foreign cafe than sitting at my kitchen counter (though incidentally, after a month abroad, I am sooooo looking forward to my counter).

2. Wonder.

I’ve been thinking about moving to Scotland. Yes, really. One of the best things about my job—one day I will do an honest post about the pros and cons because both are manifold but today is not that day—is the geographic freedom it affords. I don’t have to live in a specific place in order to write books. Two years ago I moved to England for three months and lived in a shed in someone’s back yard (it was all I could afford) while writing THE ARCHIVED simply because I wanted a change of scenery. As a full-time author (a title I hold onto by writing multiple books a year, and one I don’t anticipate to last forever), and one without a husband/S.O/children, I can truly take advantage of the lack of locational confines. So I do. I first visited Scotland a couple years ago, and fell instantly in love. I wanted to confirm that I still felt that love, and I do.

3. Words.

The first two weeks of the trip, which were spent in Scotland with an author friend, were purely for fun (though I wrote a short story, a proposal, and more than 10k of a book, so, I mean, productive fun), the entire second half of the month abroad was actually a research trip for a new book. It took a great deal of careful planning and budgeting, and I’ll likely be spending the rest of the summer eating ramen, but it’s been totally worth it. As for the project itself, the only thing I’ve said about it, and the only thing I will say until it’s written, is that it’s about a twisted love affair between a French girl and the devil. It’s set largely in present-day Brooklyn, but the story is spread over three centuries in Europe, so…yeah.

That’s why I went to Europe.

I wanted to see things.

I wanted to try things.

I wanted to breathe and eat and drink and feel inspired.

I wanted to live in the future and look at the past and I wanted to jot notes on every scrap of paper I could find and feel breathless and remember that I love what I do.

And in two days, this weary little traveler will return home to her kitchen counter feeling all of those things and more.

And ready to write.

On Wandering and Wondering and Wings (the story of my new tattoos)


It’s no secret that I have trouble staying still.

In the last two years I’ve moved to Liverpool, then back to Nashville, then to NYC, then back to Nashville, and I’m now getting ready to spend a full month abroad again, first in Edinburgh (to see if I’d like to live there) and then on a whirlwind trip through Austria, Prague, Germany and France for research purposes.

I have a case of wanderlust. But it’s not limited to travel.

I struggle just as much to sit still in my skin. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder where I’d be if I’d chosen differently at any one of the dozen intersections over the last few years. Not a day goes by that I don’t fidget, or open a new word document and jot down ideas for a book I’m not writing, or click through the dozens of browser tabs on my computer, searching photos and music and any other stimuli I can find to calm my mind.

I say that I can’t sit still and be still at the same time. When my body is still, my mind is a tangle of limbs, tripping over itself. When my body’s in motion, it’s the only time my mind begins to still, and calm, and clear enough for me to think.

Because of this, I spend most of my life in motion. Propelled by the need to be both still and moving. Given the time I have been known to walk more than 10 miles a day (I would probably do more but the remnants of a childhood injury prevent it, and protest the distance I do go).

The last few months I’ve struggled mentally and a large part of it has been that I haven’t had the time to move–not travel, but simply get up and walk, run, swim–as much as I needed to. I was trapped in a chair, and my thoughts got too tangled.

Today I got two tattoos, wings both, one behind each of my anklebones.

The wings are of course a nod to the god, Hermes, messenger between the mortal and the divine, and protector and patron of writers (some believed he transported creators from the realm of the mundane to the inspired).

But the wings are also a reminder to move (as much as they are an acknowledgement of my ever-present, bone-deep need to do so). I feel compelled to move, but I also feel thankful for the compulsion. Without that constant motion, that desire, I do not think I would be a writer.

I need to move.

Moving and creating are, for me, inextricably tied.

And sometimes, I need a reminder.

Now I have two.*



*These are not my first tattoos. That fact seems to surprise some people. They are technically my third and fourth.

I got my first tattoo when I was 18 (that was the year I graduated from my all-girls school, got cut off all my hair, went skydiving, and got picked up for hitchhiking in France). My first tattoo is an eye of Horus (not the same thing as an eye of Ra).

My second tattoo I got two years later. It is aut viam inveniam aut faciam, which basically means “Either I will find a way or make one.” Except I was in a rush get this tattoo and it has a typo, the last word spelled facium instead. I could probably logic my way into the misspelling as thematically apt, but the fact is it was a mistake. Despite a perfectionist nature, I decided to keep it as a lesson to myself not to rush into things.

Which is why it’s been five years since I applied any permanent ink to my body.

Shenanigans (Late Night Edition)

I’m standing in my kitchen covered in flour and cinnamon and sugar after deciding to bake some bread.

I got back from laser-tagging it up (as you do) and thought, “Hey! You know what my life is lacking? Cinnamon raisin bread!” And then I got halfway through making it, which turns out to be two hours later, and I decided to finish it up in the morning, so WIN for Future V and BOO for Present V who has to clean up the kitchen.

And blog.

I felt like blogging.

So hello!

A few things of note.

Thing #1, in case you missed it!


Ooooooh, shiny. You can find the synopsis for the above shiny on its dedicated little tab above under BOOKS.

Which brings me to thing #2!

A new blog design! I was in the mood for a change, and couldn’t fit in a tattoo or a haircut so I thought, “Blog redesign!” I think it’s pretty swanky. And it allows me to sport BOTH of my names 😉

Which brings me in a roundabout way to thing #3!

The cover reveal for VICIOUS is nearly upon us! At first I thought it would be today but the powers-that-be wanted to do shiny things that take time so now it will probably be early next week! I see this as an opportunity to spread the awesome out a little 😉

Which in some way brings me to thing #4!

Redesigning the blog was actually a rather surreal experience, because as I was creating the little tabs under the BOOKS label I realized OMG I HAVE BOOKS PLURAL. And then I had a moment about that. Sometimes moments just kind of sneak up on you (like I did on 30+ children tonight at laser tag right before I PWNED THEM WITH MY SKILLZ)* and the act of listing my books, both those on shelves and those on their way was a punch to the gut, if punches to the gut came with pleasant feelings, too. I just had to sit very still for a few minutes and catch my breath.

Which brings me rather directly to thing #5.

Thank you. For everything you’ve done. For buying the books, of course, but also for sending me notes/emails/DMs/messages telling me you believe in me, or that X or Y or Z made you feel A or B or C, or that you follow me because of blank, or for any and all the things you say and do that make me feel good on bad days and great on good ones. Every bit of success belongs to you as much as me and I will never, ever, ever stop being grateful.

/Late night ramblings.

Catching up, Horn Book, German Near Witch, FAQ, and the Mum makes a video!!

Hi, lovelies!

35 days till THE ARCHIVED. Oh my. Oh my. Oh my. The next blog post will be the ONE MONTH GIVEAWAY and it is epic and might involve some of my favorite books of the year, ARCHIVED preorders, and a key worth signed books FOR LIFE. Just saying.

But we’ll get there on the 22nd. Let’s talk about now.

I emerged from the deadline cave this week, alive if not unscathed. I turned in the latest draft of THE ARCHIVED #2 a few short days ago. I not-so-affectionately refer to this book as SOUL KILL, and anyone who follows me online knows that it has lived up to its nickname in the past few weeks. I had a full hour (well, 45 minutes) of freedom before diving BACK into the revision cave for another book (the first of the chapter books I’m writing for Scholastic).

In other, far more interesting news, fun things happened during my (relative) return to the living!

First, Horn Book loved THE ARCHIVED!!!

From their review: “…both poignant and intellectually piquant…[Schwab] writes of death, sorrow, and family love with a light, intelligent touch and inventive vigor.”

Wooo!!! I’m still waiting on a few of the others, but I’m thrilled to put this one up there with the Kirkus love.



This is not my hand, but this is my book. The real, FINISHED book. I can’t wait to get my author copies so I can 1. roll around on top of them, and 2. take more photos/a video so we can all savor the material glory (also, the reason my name looks darker is because it and the key are both spot-glossed, so it’s harder to photo them evenly). ALSO apparently the endpapers inside are GORGE and ugh why is it not in my hands, lovelies??? SOON.

ALSO! I got my very first foreign cover for THE NEAR WITCH!

It’s the German edition (my German publisher, Heyne, will also be publishing THE ARCHIVED!) and I am mildly obsessed with it. The title is VERFLUCHT!!! It means CURSED.


Agh I love it. It’s so very different from the US cover, and so loud and paranormal-y and there’s a kid in the woods and ughhh yes.


Also! FAQ!

That section of the blog has been updated thanks to your influx of awesome, random, and awesomely random questions! Just click the little tab at the top of the page to go there and learn things. Topics include tea, narwhals, Doctor Who, and sword canes.


You guys, after FIVE YEARS of trying to coax the Mum to make a video, I finally convinced her to make one for my Making History series!!! Please, please show her some love! The wonderful Emily over at Emily’s Reading Room is hosting her video, as well as a giveaway.

To watch THE INFAMOUS MUM, click HERE.

And don’t forget to swing by the Youtube channel HERE and see the other histories. This week is #14!! Crazy.

And now…

And now, lovelies, I must retreat back into the revision cave. But I want to know how you’re all doing. ❤ Leave your thoughts after the beep.

Refueling the artistic well with a little Thursday inspiration.

Hey, lovelies.

I’m knee-deep (or really, chest-deep, with the water rising) in revisions for THE ARCHIVED #2 (I can’t wait to reveal the *real* title for that), and that means a whole lot of self-loathing and stress and fear and other un-fun feelings.

It really is a grass-is-greener situation. When I’m drafting, I can’t wait to get to edits and make the book better (I have to tell myself over and over and over that I can’t fix it until I have something on the page, just to keep myself from holding down delete). When I’m revising, I pine for the freedom and creation (as opposed to correction) of drafting.

The most important thing for me to do while revising is make time to be inspired.

Editing depletes me.

It drains my emotional batteries and my inspiration and makes me feel like a fraud, because even when I see the problems and the solutions I don’t feel good enough to execute them. So, when I’m revising, I make time to refuel my creative well. I’m constantly taking short breaks to listen to music (I can’t listen and edits at the same time) and look up art.

That inspiration doesn’t have to be book-specific, meaning I’m not looking up things to inspire me for the work I’m revising (the only thing that will inspire me when I’m in the depths of edits is FINISHING). I just have to remind myself that I love stories. And to keep the self-loathing and comparison to a minimum, I seek out stories in other forms, like songs, and paintings.

Luckily for me, in addition to whatever I’m editing, there are always a few other projects in various stages of development (right now I have one on deck to be written, and two in the delightful brainstorming stages), so I end up searching for art/stories to inspire THOSE projects.

I have this one in particular (I joke that it will be years before it’s written) that I LOOOOVE collecting inspiration for, because it’s lovely and strange and scary, and so I thought I’d share a few pieces of art/music from that project’s file, in the hopes that it adds a little beauty to YOUR Thursday.


“My bones burned down
when I met her.
they are still
on fire now.”
—Gary Lilley, Meeting The Conjure Woman




[Thank you to my amazing editor, Miriam, for this one]


“There’s an opposite to déjà vu. They call it jamais vu. It’s when you meet the same people or visit places, again and again, but each time is the first. Everybody is always a stranger. Nothing is ever familiar.”
—Chuch Palahniuk


Is there anything new in YOUR inspiration folder?

This is your brain on books, telling “Jenga” stories, and a PSA on how to hug alpacas.

Things have been busy busy in Victorialand, and not (just) because I’m on a mission to watch every Tom Hiddleston interview on the internet.*

(Mmhmm, right, V. Riiiiight.)

So I’ve got these three books I’m working on right now, each in a different stage of development: one is VICIOUS, which I’m editing, one is the sequel to THE ARCHIVED, which I’m writing, and one is a sekrit, which I’ve been letting sit for a year or so now, percolating, and am now poking.

Anyway, I’ve developed this delightfully mad process of working on one of them in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. I love it, but it means living in three very different worlds (not including “reality”) on a daily basis, and that’s been a bit time/energy/sanity-consuming.

And in addition to the three books (oh, and how I love them all, these strange and different children), I’m trying to put together a grad school application list (whether I’ll be able to actually apply this fall depends on my pub schedule), figure out if I’m going to stay in NYC past summer (and where I’m going to go if I DON’T), figure out what kind of quarter-life crisis I want to have in July when I turn 25, and, well, basically, FIGURE OUT MY LIFE.**

This is all to say, I’ve been a bit erratic online. Not absent, no, as Twitter can attest, but not present long enough to post, either. Certainly not coherently.

And yet here I am! So forgive me if I become at any point less than coherent. In fact, let’s just embrace the fact that sh*t is about to get random.


As I said, I’m editing VICIOUS right now, and I’m realizing something about my evolution as a writer. I have become a creator of “Jenga” books. THE ARCHIVE is a bit of a “Jenga” book, and VICIOUS, as I’m discovering, is pretty much the most “Jenga”ish example ever. “Jenga” books, as I call them, are stories in which the narrative is fractured and then reassembled in an often non-linear fashion where short sections are combined in a precarious but balanced order. Whew, that was a mouthful.

Basically, I have lots of short scenes taking place at different points in time that make sense so long as they are kept in the right order. But every time you pull a block out, you risk toppling the whole structure. And editing is kind of necessarily taking out blocks (sometimes you get to put them back in the same place, but sometimes you have to put them somewhere else and hold your breath and hope to God that…). I’m becoming convinced that writing “Jenga” books is a seriously masochistic creative decision. Only, I didn’t make a decision. Not really. Which makes me wonder if my brain is like a “Jenga” tower. I find the thought mildly concerning…


My housemates believe I should write a picture book on how to resist over-hugging an alpaca. Because that’s a legitimate risk if you own an alpaca. Because they are cute and fluffy and they stand really still. I really have nothing to add to that right now. I can picture my agent headdesk-ing at the mere mention of this non-existent alpaca picture-book (I’m wearing her down on the narwhal book, though! Just give me five more years).


I want to direct your attention to someone who is blogging, and brilliantly. Beth Revis posted HERE about a term being used by many writers lately, the book of your heart. You should go read after we’re done here.


This is probably the only clue I will give about the sekrit book for a long, long time, because I like having sekrit things, and it’s not even really a clue in the “helping to solve mysteries” sense but there you go. CLICK HERE.


I HATE ending on even numbers. Like, I hate it more than I hate eggplant. Oh, oh, I have a hug list. It’s basically a list of artists, actors, writers, etc. etc. and instead of wanting their autograph, I kind of just want to hug them. I mean, they can sign something, too, but I’m in it for the hug. Which is a random way to end this post, but really, how can you go wrong with hugs.

If YOU could get a hug from someone, who would it be?

*My mum informed me yesterday that because Hiddleston like chocolates, we’d make a good match. Not because he’s tall, or talented, or anything. No. BECAUSE HE LIKES CHOCOLATES.

**LIFE = apparently a term that comprises everything that happens in “reality” and not in one of your three fictional projects. Who knew?

In which Tom Hiddleston takes over my blog.

Morning, lovelies.

It’s been a noisy couple weeks around here, between the deal announcements and the paperback release and the Cole story, so I thought we could just have a little sit-down and talk about the glory that is Tom Hiddleston.

Not only does he play Loki, one of my favorite villains, not only is he lovely in a magnetic way, not only does have an amaaaaazing accent, but he’s exceedingly intelligent, and articulate, and talks about vulnerability and complexity and the ways in which villains are heroes in their own eyes and all sorts of other musings that make me a little SWOONY.

And because I have a book to write, and because I seem to be somehow behind before I’ve even started, I thought I’d give you some lovely things to look at while I duck out for a week or so to get some words on paper.

  • An excerpt from THIS marvelous blog post Hiddleston wrote in defense of superhero movies:

    …Superhero films offer a shared, faithless, modern mythology, through which these truths can be explored. In our increasingly secular society, with so many disparate gods and different faiths, superhero films present a unique canvas upon which our shared hopes, dreams and apocalyptic nightmares can be projected and played out. Ancient societies had anthropomorphic gods: a huge pantheon expanding into centuries of dynastic drama; fathers and sons, martyred heroes, star-crossed lovers, the deaths of kings – stories that taught us of the danger of hubris and the primacy of humility. It’s the everyday stuff of every man’s life, and we love it. It sounds cliched, but superheroes can be lonely, vain, arrogant and proud. Often they overcome these human frailties for the greater good. The possibility of redemption is right around the corner, but we have to earn it.

  • [Click the picture to make him smile…]

  • An excerpt from THIS interview:

    “The one thing that I do every time is immersion. I completely immerse myself in the world of the play, the film, the story, the character and try and plaster the walls of my own imagination with extra knowledge and images and music and trivia.

    “I have a little office in my house and it is an absolute pigsty but I know exactly where everything is and there are little things stuck all over the walls, and papers in in-trays and files I have saved on my computer and playlists I have made on my iTunes – things that take me to a place that I think is appropriate…”

  • why yes, Loki. I should.


    Want to know what happens at a writing retreat?


    [They totally had to drag me out of my editing cave, cookie dough spoon in hand, to film this]

    A small quantity of shiny, pretty things.

    I like that quote. I’m thinking of starting my posts with quotes. There are just so many wonderful ones out there. You can’t really have enough quotes in your life, can you?


    I’ve been away on a retreat in the North Carolina mountains…

    …resting and thinking and hiking and editing (mostly editing).

    And now I’m back, and I come bearing a few baubles.


    So I was in the car with Carrie Ryan, on our way to a signing, when a friend sent her an email letting her know that the conclusion to her epic trilogy (The Dark and Hollow Places) had made the SIBA long list (SIBA takes in nominations from southern independent booksellers and their customers, then selects the top ones for its long list, and from there selects finalists and a winner). And then Carrie turns around and says, “Hey V, you’re on here, too!” And I was like “?” And so she sent me the link and I was so thrilled to see that Caroline of the incredible Malaprops store in Asheville nominated THE NEAR WITCH!


    This thing is epic. And really, what I mean is EPIIIIIIIIC. Except with, like, 100 more I’s, because I think there are about 100 more authors involved. And this year I’m lucky enough to be involved, too!!! To see the FULL list of events (because its epicness is of the scale that would break my blog, go HERE. But below are the events I will be doing!

    Thursday, March 29:
    The NYC Big Read – Brooklyn (Brooklyn Public Library, central branch, Grand Army Plaza)
    Kate Ellison
    Gayle Forman
    Melissa Kantor
    Barry Lyga
    Michael Northrop
    Matthue Roth
    Victoria Schwab
    Melissa Walker

    Friday March 30
    Symposium (42nd Street NYPL, 2-6)

    3:50-4:40: No Ordinary Love: How to Create a Satisfying Love Story and a Satisfying Supernatural World at the Same Time

    Andrea Cremer
    Melissa de la Cruz
    Jeri Smith-Ready
    Victoria Schwab
    Margaret Stohl

    moderator: Barry Lyga

    Sunday April 1
    Our No-Foolin’ Mega-Signing at Books of Wonder (Books of Wonder, 1-4)

    Melissa De La Cruz (Lost in Time, Hyperion)
    Alyssa Sheinmel (The Lucky Kind, RH)
    Jennifer Smith (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Little Brown)
    Jeri Smith-Ready (Shift, S&S)
    Jon Skovron (Misfit, Abrams)
    Victoria Schwab (The Near Witch, Hyperion)
    Mark Shulman (Are You Normal?, National Geographic)
    Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Chaos, Little Brown)
    Arlaina Tibensky (And Then Things Fell Apart, S&S)
    Siobhan Vivian (The List, Scholastic)
    Melissa Walker (Small Town Sinners, Bloomsbury)
    K.M. Walton (Cracked, S&S)
    John Corey Whaley (Where Things Come Back, S&S)
    Alecia Whitaker (The Queen of Kentucky, Little Brown)
    Maryrose Wood (The Unseen Guest, Harper)
    Natalie Zaman and Charlotte Bennardo (Sirenz, Flux)

    You guys, that little signing list above is like 1/5 of the number of authors that will be at BoW.

    I’m going to have to go save all my money. And then make some more money, so I can buy ALL THE SHINY BOOKS. *digs under couch cushions for change*

    3. THIS SONG.

    It’s like a lullaby for my bones.


    4. IT’S MARCH.

    Like, THE THIRD MONTH IN 2012.

    I just needed to get that off my chest.

    But March is cool, yo. And on the 15th, I’ll be able to share my second NW paperback secret!!

    I guess that’s all I have to share today.

    I was going to finish up this post here, but I felt like it could use a little more cowbell. But when I looked up photos, all I got was Will Ferrell in a too-short shirt, so I thought I’d give you this instead…

    Sunday is for sharing songs!!

    I have a few “real” posts I’m working on, but I’m finishing up edits over the next couple weeks, and am thus in my cave. But since Sunday posts are usually made of less articulate stuff anyway, let’s roll with this 😉

    I’m normally the one asking for music, so I thought today I would share some instead.

    This lovely winter Sunday morning, I am sharing my running mix.

    Why, you ask, as opposed to say, a sanity mix, or a writing mix? Because running mixes aren’t just for running. They are for bolstering souls, they are the mixes that make me want to get up and move. The mixes that make me forget I’m in edits.


    Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That — Robert Randolph & The Family Band
    No One Knows — Queens Of The Stone Age
    Rolling In The Deep — Adele
    Rehab — Amy Winehouse
    You Ain’t Know — Birdman & Lil Wayne
    Barton Hollow — The Civil Wars
    Burn the Witch — Queens of the Stone Age
    Here Comes the Sun (Live) — Dan Fogelberg
    The Rake’s Song — The Decemberists
    E.T. — DJ Cookiecutter
    Like a G6 — Far East Movement
    Kiss With a Fist — Florence + The Machine
    Deliver Me — Robert Randolph & The Family Band
    99 Problems — Hugo
    Capsize — Karen O and the Kids
    Counting — Korn
    Love Is the Only Way — Robert Randolph & The Family Band
    Holy Roller Novocaine — My Terrible Friend
    Fresh Azimiz — Bow Wow
    Top Back — T.I.
    Lola — Superbus
    Get Over It — Ok Go

    That’s all the songs on this particular mix!

    Hope you have a splendid Sunday 🙂