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  • I never thought so much would happen to that quirky little novel I was working on a few years back.

    I mean Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, of course.

    I had high hopes for my first novel, which maxxed out at more than a few thousand people buying it, not racking up too many scathing reviews, and being afforded the opportunity to write another one. But a funny thing happened on the way to the remainders bin, and the superlatives Miss Peregrine has racked up since it was published just over a year ago seem so absurdly overblown when compared to my modest expectations that I'm almost embarrassed to list them. (Almost.)

    The book debuted on the bestseller list, hit number one a few times, and has yet to be dislodged, 53 weeks and counting later. 20th Century Fox optioned the film rights and Tim Burton -- Tim effing Burton -- said he wants to direct it. I didn't get so many scathing reviews after all, and even several nice ones, in papers that aren't published in my hometown, which my relatives still clip out and mail to me when they appear. I've toured the country doing readings.

    Best, most astoundingly of all, are the emails and letters I get from readers. I'm knee-deep in writing the sequel to the book right now, and it seems like whenever I have a tough day of it (they happen now and then) I get a sweet, encouraging email from someone I've never met, saying how much they liked the book and that they can't wait for the next one, and all my enthusiasm comes rushing back.

    So thanks, everyone, for helping to make this one of the most unexpected and amazing years of my life. You've made me a happy mutant.

    Now -- back to the keyboard! Whip noise!

  • Amidst the summer's comic book and sci-fi blockbuster movies, Pixar has nestled what is sure to be a gem: Brave, the animated tale of an impetuous girl growing up in the Scottish Highlands during the 10th century.

    The film has been described as a fairy tale in the tradition of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. That's vaunted company to keep, but we wondered, what are Brave's Scottish literary forebears.

    To that end, here are 6 pieces of Scottish literature that we recommend to supplement your mid-summer viewing of Brave.

  • Sometimes, when you are hearing the same drivel about TPS reports for the third time, you just can’t take it anymore.

    Luckily, there are three ways to sneak out of an office meeting, according to The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Work, and we’re going to cover all of them so you can take your pick. Just remember to wear sunscreen once you’ve pulled your disappearing act and emerged into the sun.

  • 1. Carry a gun and shoot out the wheels of anyone who cut me off in traffic. Especially if they didn't use their blinker.

  • In honor of National Candy Month, we're posting some of our favorite recipes from The Field Guide to Candy by Anita Chu!

    Last week we had Tuxedo Strawberries. Today? Rock Candy! Mm!

  • Rosemary, basil, parsley, mint: all useful for summer cooking. Buying herbs can get expensive, so wouldn’t it be easier to just grow them yourself? It can be difficult if you don’t have a green thumb, but with these tips you’ll be sure to succeed.

    Use An Egg Carton: Planting your seeds in a paper egg carton is a good way to ensure that your seeds can germinate and get everything they need to thrive as a plant. Punch holes in the bottom, put in the soil and seeds, and leave the carton in a place that will allow lots of light. When you see sprouts, you can just bury the carton in the ground along with the sprouts (leaving them above ground, of course). You can also transfer the herbs into pots to keep by your window. The paper will biodegrade and your plants will continue to grow in your garden!

    Know What Herbs to Grow: Bringing a plant to life and keeping it alive can be hard if you don’t know what you’re doing. Some plants are tougher than others. You also don’t want to choose herbs that grow very wide or tall if you’re keeping them inside. Some good ones to start with are basil, mint, and parsley.

    Use Organic Fertilizer: Fertilizer is a good way to ensure that your plants are growing up healthy and strong. It can also exceed the lifespan of your plants if you’re forgetful about watering them (like I am). For a plant that you’re later going to eat, however, you don’t want to introduce any chemicals to them that you wouldn’t want in your body later. Use compost or store-bought organic fertilizer with your herbs!

    Choose the Right Time to Harvest: The best time to pick the leaves off of your plant is right before its flowers bloom. This gives them maximum flavor, whether you choose to use them fresh or dried. If you want to dry them, you can do so by hanging them upside down in a dry place or putting them in the oven at 150 degrees for three hours.

    Happy gardening!

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