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Robin Hobb's Infrequent and Off Topic Blog

Different Day, Same Place

I should admit that I expected to be getting a lot of writing done. And I'm not.

But I have cleared all my raised beds of weeds, and today I plnated carrots, beets and turnips.

I write a lot, inside my mind. But somehow the days on the calendar pass very slowly, but the hours of work go by quickly. And suddnely here it is, 10:43 at night, and these are the first words I've typed today.

I've mentioned elsewhere that the Bee story I was working on featured, guess what? A plague that had jumped species. It would have looped back to connect to the Blood Plague. But now is not the time to write something like that. Or even read something like that.

 

But I haven't been reading much either.  I've been doing.  Lots of doing, of things that I know I'll be glad I did four or five months from now.  I've cleared and organized cabinets.  Weeded the garden, planted food.  It's satisfying work.

 

I know I will go back to putting words on the page.  I did some yesterday.  But for today, the writing was only inside my head. 

 

Some days are like that.

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My Dog Has Left Me

I simply couldn't compete.

 

My son's family joined us here on the farm to 'shelter in place'. They have squeezed into the little guest cottage. My 14 days of self quarantine are nearly up, but his family is only about 4 days into theirs.  So I am still 'no contact' with my grandkids.  I can watch them running across the pasture. I can light the campfire they built, and then retreat so they can enjoy it.  No touching.  Talking to each other from 8 or 10 feet away.  No sharing books or passing around cookies.

 

My dogs are both rescues.  Ginger from the Humane Society, and Molly, the younger dog was from a Belgian Malinois Rescue group. Ginger is older now but Molly is still all bounce and go.

 

Molly saw that they had brought Foxy the Border Collie, and Foxy is RICH!  She owns three teenagers and a six year old boy!  And she offered to share.  Five or six hikes down to the river a day! Numerous sticks and tennis balls thrown. Lots of chasing and rough housing.

 

A couple of times I called her back to me.  But the last time she cried.  I felt so mean.  They were doing night walks with a flashlight, and I was sitting in front of a keyboard.

 

I let her out and she was off like a shot to join them.

 

As it should be.

 

This virus pandemic is a terrible thing.  But even it has a silver lining for one dog.

 

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Robin's Rules for Working at/from Home

Robin's Rules for Working at Home And Actually Getting Something Done

 

We have all worked at home. If you made your bed, cooked a meal or swept a floor, you've worked at home. But now, perhaps, you are trying to do a different sort of work at home. In addition to being a writer, I'm the agent for a couple of family LLC's. That means a fairly constant stream of paperwork and phone calls to deal with, in addition to writing, housework, pets and family. By trial and error, I've come up with some things that work for me. They may or may not be helpful to you, especially if you are in a new situation.


1. Start organized. I didn't, of course, but organization has evolved. Not everyone has the luxury of a home office. You may be coping with half the kitchen table or the coffee table. Whatever you have, organize that space. And Start With Ergonomics! Best situation: You are sitting in a chair that supports your lower back. Your feet are flat on the floor. Your hands are level with your keyboard. Your screen is at eye level. (If you have only a laptop, I know you can't do this. So be aware that youa re tipping your head down, and take frequent breaks to stretch your neck.) Lift your eyes often to refocus on infinity out of a window. If you can't do that, at least look around the room. Stand up and stretch when you can.


2. Set attainable goals. You are not going to write a book today. But you can write a scene, or a chapter, maybe even two. Make your goal a measurable one. So many words or pages. Or X number of social emails handled.


3. This one helps me a lot. Do something visible. White board or print out document work. Sometime in the day, clean a window, bake a loaf of bread, weed a corner of your garden. Any task that you can look at tomorrow morning and say, 'Well, I got that done. What's next?" It's great for my morale to have an accomplishment I can see.


4. Allow for family members. In our current situation, you may have a spouse or kids racketing around while you are trying to achieve what you used to do in a work situation. Accept that you cannot duplicate that. If you have kids, set a timer or choose an hour, and do something that focuses on them. Turn on the radio/stereo and rock out with all of them. Play a game, bake some cookies, read a story. If little kids know they are guaranteed a chunk of your time, it helps them to be more patient. You will get more done despite taking family breaks.


5. Do it now. Whatever 'it' is. Start with email, perhaps. Sort, discard, and answer what needs an answer. If bills came in, pay them now. Face the revisions and get them done. Process and file any mail that comes in. Don't let anything stack up. If there is anything you hate or dread, make yourself do it first and get it over with.


6. This is the Mom lecture part. You will need to take regular breaks. Don't let it be an alcohol/nicotine break every time. It becomes a ritual, and it can greatly increase your consumption. Have a lovely cup of tea. Have a stretching routine. Take the dog out into the yard.


7. I hope this is helpful to someone! As always, what works for me may not for you!

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Another Day in Self Imposed Isolation

And the truth is, I've been getting a lot done.  I think that work that busies my hands leaves my mind free to both compose part of books, or grasp the bigger picture of my life.

 

Today's busy work involved moving some onions that had survived the winter, and planting some experimental potatoes. I'm still getting hard frosts at night here, so they will either grow and be ready early, or freeze into mush.  We will see.  

 

I took my dogs for a walk on our acreage down to where I could trespass jsut a little and look at the Nisqually River.  We had floods just a couple of months ago, and the river has shifted in its bed, leaving more bank on my side, and some interesting gravel bars.  I saw deer tracks, what might have been elk, and the little handprints of a raccoon, but no wildlife in person.  Except a frog.  

 

I also paid all the bills today and changed my phone plan to include more data.  My younger daughter has borrowed my little 'hot spot' and is also self isolating where there is no internet.  According to my provider, her watching two movies consumed a gig of data!  Really?

 

And that was pretty much my day.  A much more pleasant day than most isolated seniors are having, I am sure.

 

 

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Letters from the Farm

Dear Friends,

 

While we are enduring the Covid pandemic here in Washington state, my new resolution is to post here once a day.  Obviously, I won't have anything compelling to say that frequently, but I'll offer updates and possibly some little family stories.

 

Here, as you might expect, Fred and I have self isolated at the farm.  I'm almost ashamed to say how much I'm enjoying this.  I am writing, or rather, Megan Lindholm is.  That part of me is pushing along an urban fantasy set in  Tacoma. 

 

I am doing things such as planning out where my native trees will go! Every year, I get native species from Pierce County's native plant sale.  They are so inexpensive!  So I have five Nootka roses, five oOrgeon oaks, five Sitka Spruce,and  five mock orange bushes to plant.  I've put my kinickinick in small pots.  I did set out five little sorrell plants, which my free range chickens have already reduced to two.  Rotten little dinosaurs.

 

Check back with me here if you'd like to see some updates.  I will close with two things my mother used to say in times of stress:

 

Keep Calm and Carry On.

 

Also:

"When in danger or in doubt,

Run in Circles, scream and shout."

 

I'm going with the first one.

 

 

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Missives from The Office Kat

It's Kat here, not Robin.  Robin is out of offices, dealing with her husband who she says had hip surgery.  I suspect they are sailing up and down the river and hiding out in tree forts with Ginger and Molly to avoid work but who asked me?  I am still in the offices.  

 

Oh the To-Dos I have To-Do today. You have no idea.  Megan Lindholm is being so utterly difficult.  I just want to Control-Alt-Delete her sometimes.  Robin has been out of the offices lately and Megan sits and eats salt water taffy and weighs in periodically. She always drinks the coffeepot down to exactly one half a cup of too black coffee and leaves it.  So not only do I get only ONE HALF CUP for my troubles I have to brew a whole new pot and then inevitably, she gets to the fresh pot first and gets the first cup, which everyone knows is like the first bite of an apple. It's the best one.

 

Speaking of apples, I look foward to summer so I can throw some at her head.

 

So.  In the world of Robin Hobb, who does not write books or stories about roadkill (ahem, Megan) we are happily preparing for the launch of ROYAL ASSASSIN.  What? Yes.  Of course this book came out a while ago, but this edition is the illustrated edition, with color plates by artist Magali Villenueuve, who, if you'd like to know, has a most excellent office cat and no alternate personalities that drink the rest of the coffee.  

 

 

So to celebrate, Penguin Random House (which let's be honest, begs to be called The Random Penguins) is runing a promotion Follow this link and it will take you to a voting page to pick your favourite illustration from the illustrated Assassin's Apprentice.  The winning piece will be made into an exclusive art print. Or if you like, review the images to the right of this post and vote using the widget on this page.  Voting ends on April 3, 2020.

 

This promotion is just for version of the book printed in the US, by the US publishers.  Every time we do this we hear about how mean we are that we aren't doing it worldwide.  Frankly I always want to invite the people over who think I'm being mean, and while we unload the 25 boxes from the storage unit (with proper lifting techniques) I would be able to show you each box relating to all the different publishers and explain that I am just the town crier and book lifter and if I had any say in it I'd be sending lovely illustrated books ALL OVER THE WORLD in exchange for worldwide chocolate and we'd all video chat each other and talk about how much we love books, and chocolate, but ... as it stands I am not Queen of the World.  Not yet.  Nor am I yet a worldwide publisher but who is to say what my future holds.

 

So.  I am not mean and I love all the readers and I am sorry it's a US only promotion but I will do as I can.

 

Oh snap!  Megan is back again.  Talk to you later.

 

- Kat

 

 

 

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Unable to Attend Emerald City Comic Con

I regret to say that I will not be able to attend Emerald City Comic Con in March of 2020 in Seattle.

 

My husband required a hip surgery that has impacted his ability to get around on the farm for the next couple of weeks.  So rather than leaving him attempting to feed animals and drive a tractor anyway, I will be staying home and taking care of things here.

 

I will truly miss seeing readers, editorial friends and other writing friends.  But there will be other conventions in months and years to come.

 

I hope you all have a wonderful time without me.  

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Illustrated Edition of ROYAL ASSASSIN - coming in June 2020

The three covers for the Illustrated Editions of the Farseer Trilogy
The lovely covers for all three volumes of the Illustrated Editions.  Assassin's Apprentice is available now, Royal Assassin can be preordered and Assassin's Quest will soon follow.

 The Illustrated Edition of Royal Assassin is now available for preorder!  This edition will match the Illustrated Edition of Assassin's Apprentice, and as before, all illustrations are by renowned artist Magali Villeneuve.

 

You can request either of these books  through any brick and mortar book store that you choose, and from many on line services.

 

Amazon remains the most frequently used online service for book buying.  Without endorsing it, I will still provide its link.

 

The Signed Page is an excellent choice for this book if you are a bibliophile who is seeking a signed first edition in pristine condition.  Here is the LINK for that location.

 

The University Book Store in Seattle Washington is your best bet for ANY book written by me, if you would like a signature or a dedication.  This includes paperbacks.  But of course, if you go HERE, you can pre order the Illustrated Royal Assassin, and request that I sign it for you. 

 

 

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Pre Order Illustrated Royal Assassin Now!

A red sailing ship on a black backdrop above the title Royal Assassin
Cover image for Royal Assassin, the hard back illustrated edition.  Interior art by Magali Villeneuve.

Greetings, readers!  This is just a quick reminder that you may now preorder the next volume of the hard back illustrated editions of The Farseer Trilogy.  

 

Assassin's Apprentice, in hardback with illustrations of Magali Villeneuve (an artist very well known for her work on Magic the Gathering cards) has been available for months now.

 

Joining that lineup is Royal Assassin in a matching volume. Each book has ten color plates by Magali, as well as lovely endpapers  

 

This set will be completed in months to come with Assassin's Quest.  This is the first time the trilogy has been offered in the US in matching hardbacks.  

 

Royal Assassin can be pre-ordered anywhere that you purchase books.  At your local brick and mortar bookstosre, at Amazon or any on line book service, and of course through The Signed Page.   The Signed Page offers a wide variety of signed first editions, painstakingly shipped to arrive in pristine condition.

 

If you would like your copy signed, or with a special dedication, that can be managed through The University Book Store in Seattle, Washington.  For specific directions on how to do that please seen the Questions Answered page for this site.  

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Changes in the websites or, To Write or To Be A Writer

If you have visited here before, you may note some changes we've made.  Some may seem unfriendly, but they are certainly not intended that way! And if you follow me on other social media, you've definitely seen some changes.

 

Being a writer these days creates a lot of tasks.  Answer email.  Have a lively social media presence.  Promote you own books. Attend conventions, conference and comic cons.  Review the books you are reading or listening to.  Be clever on twitter.  Post almost daily on Facebook.  Have an interesting blog.

 

Whew!

 

It used to be that 'being a writer' just meant that I had to try to write at least one book a year!  If I received a letter from a reader, usually via the publisher's mailing address, it was a remarkable occurrence!  Now an average day brings a dozen emails of various kinds.  

 

I've been trying to establish a regular writing schedule for myself, after slacking off for a number of months.  One of the things I used to do was open my email first and try to answer it all before moving on to other tasks.  It's nice to be in touch with readers, to hear stories of where they read the books or what parts they enjoyed.  Keeping in touch with readers and reaching back when they write to me is a big part of being a writer.

 

Unfortunately, these days, by the time I reached the end of the emails, checked Facebook, skimmed through Twitter, and glanced at Insttagram  the key presses in my fingers had been used up, and as a result the stories I've been working on have not moved forward. Nor have I blogged here at all lately!

 

So, I am trying a new pattern.  Kat and I have disabled the 'contact Robin Hobb' button. If you have 'official' business, you can still reach me via The Lotts Agency for literary stuff, and Rand Holston at Paradigm agency for everything else.

 

As I mentioned, this may seem unfriendly. It's not intended that way.  It's my way of pushing myself to get back to writing, rather than spending my writing hours 'being a writer.'   So you have seen less of me on social media and you will see even less now.  And while I've already said I'll be at Emerald City Comic Con, I only plan to drive up, stay one day, and then head for home, and the keyboard.

 

I think the vast majority of my readers would rather have a new book sometime in 2021 than see me dithering on line.

 

I hope I'm right about that.

 

I will try to do regular updates here at robinhobbcom   I hope you'll take the time to drop by.

 

Thank you!

 

Robin

 

 

 

 

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