Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is Out

So, it’s finally that day: Blue Lily, Lily Blue’s release day. It has been a little over a year since The Dream Thieves came out, and what a year it has been.

Readers, thanks for allowing me another year of hunting for Glendower and Cabeswater all over the mountains I love.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 Events!


I’ve finally updated my event info for the rest of 2014.

10/16: Aberdeen, MD (I’ll have Blue Lily, Lily Blue bookplates here)
10/25: Arlington, VA (first event after BLLB releases)(I will be bringing the remainder of the Sinner sunglasses to this one)
10/28: Decatur, GA
10/30: Charlotte, NC
11/10: Kansas City, KS (with Tessa Gratton & Brenna Yovanoff)
11/16: Toronto Book Fair (with Deborah Harkness)
11/22: Miami Book Fair (days/ times TBA)

Here are the full details.
Here, as always, is the Shy Introvert's Guide to Book Signings.

Also, I drew three Raven Cycle tarot cards and now I've been pleasantly coerced into doing the rest of the Major Arcana by the end of the month. We'll see if I can pull it off.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue contest

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My publisher surprised me today by mailing me a box of Blue Lily, Lily Blue ARCs — I had no idea such things were going to exist, nor that I was going to get them, but now I intend to give them away. Here's how: Just post on your blog (blogspot, Tumblr, wordpress, whatever), Twitter, or Facebook one reason why you enjoyed reading the Raven Cycle, and then post the link to the status update (if you don't know how to do this, Google is your friend) into the Rafflecopter contest thingy.

THIS THING:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Because these ARCs were provided by my US publisher, they have to be sent to U.S. addresses. So you can enter if you're international, but only if you have a friend in the U.S. who can accept it for you. Posts on forums don't count, and you can only enter once. It's going to run for a little over 24 hours only. Is that it? Yes. I think that is it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue Excerpts

Behold! I'm revoltingly pleased to be able to share an excerpt from Blue Lily, Lily Blue. There's two ways to experience it. You can listen to the prologue, read by Will Patton. 

  
Or you can read the prologue and the first chapter here.
   
And a reminder that you can get special things, such as doodles & custom bookplates, if you pre-order before October 21st from certain bookstores. Info on that here.

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 Blue Lily Bookplate Small

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bookplates for Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily Bookplate Small 

Okay, I've finished the art for the Blue Lily, Lily Blue bookplate.

I try to make art every year to thank the readers who support me book after book, so please know that all of these pencil marks are my wordless (and now wordful?) appreciation.

The signed bookplates will go into every copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue pre-ordered from Fountain Bookstore before the release date of October 21 (http://www.fountainbookstore.com/autograph-maggie). They'll also come with this skull doodle.

skull 

UK readers can also get a signed bookplate with every copy of Blue Lily ordered from Seven Stories.

Canadian readers can order them from Mabel’s Fables.

And if you're an Australian indie who would like to take part, please let me know.

 If you've already pre-ordered from Fountain, you don't have to do anything special to make certain this will appear in your book.

Again, thank you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Artist & Thief (an excerpt from my SCBWI keynote for those who weren't there)

I used to think that my ideal job was to write. To make up stories. To lie for a living. Now that I’m in it, though, now that I’m comfortable in my novelist skin, it doesn’t feel that way at all. I observe for a living. I steal for a living. I stylize for a living. I find things in the real world, I take them for my own, and then I hammer them into a story-shaped thing. Writer? I am a thief and an artist.

One of my loves is mythology and folklore, and one of the earliest folkloric traditions I got into was Celtic fairy lore. Probably I can blame my mother for this. We were Navy brats and moved about all over, and one of the ways she would distract us children on long coast-to-coast moving trips was pointing out the window and saying LOOK! THERE! DID YOU SEE THAT FAIRY? BEHIND THAT TREE? The reasonable response would have been: No, mother, we did not, because we are traveling at 65 miles per hour and that tree is a thing of our now-distant past. But my mother was very persuasive, so instead, we always craned our necks and tried to see the fairies in between the trees or dancing on the lakes or hiding in the fog in the hills, etcetera, etcetera.

Anyway, one of the traditions around fairies is that they live in grand underground worlds, ruled over by the powerful fairy queen. Stories talk about how humans descend to this underground world and are dazzled by the beauty and wonder they see. The most beautiful citizens, the most intricate of architecture, the most delicious of fruits hanging from enchanted trees. But they also talk about how the longer you are underground — the more canny you are — the more you begin to recognize your surroundings. Because the fairy queen, for all her power, can’t create anything from scratch. She can only observe beauty and wonder in the real world, then take it for herself and assemble it in different ways. She is a thief. An artistic thief, but a thief nonetheless.

Increasingly, I’ve realized that I am very rarely creating something entirely from scratch. Instead, I am a thief as well, stealing from everything I see, everything I do, everyone I meet. And then I’m an artist — choosing carefully how to stitch them back together.

For instance, I shall set the scene. A few years ago, I began bringing a sketchbook with me as I toured. I wanted to get better at sketching people in real time, and the only way to get better in just about anything is practice.

Here’s the annoying thing about people who are alive, though, something you, too, may have noticed: they move. They move even more if they get wise to the notion that you’re sketching them. So by this point, I had begun to choose my victims rather carefully. People reading books. People staring at signs. People dozing on their hands. People studying their lunches with distrust. In this case, I was on an airplane, traveling from a tour stop to a tour stop. Normally I didn’t sketch on planes, because all you can see are the backs of people’s heads, or your seatmate, who can definitely spot that you’re sketching them, and will definitely move around, even if he or she is distrustful of his or her lunch.

Also normally I write on airplanes. I very much enjoy writing on planes, but only as long as I am in the window seat with only one flank to protect. This is because of a flight when I was trapped in a middle seat and after I wrote a joke into my novel, the man beside me laughed. I asked him: why did you DO that? And he said SORRY, it was funny. And I told him: YOU HAVE RUINED MY LIFE. From then on, I only wrote in window seats.

On this particular day, I was in an aisle seat, so there would be no writing. The seat in the middle was empty. In my coveted window seat was a young man whom I hated for being in the coveted window seat. Once I got over my resentment that he had stolen my throne, however, I realized that he was an ideal victim for sketching, as he was sitting with his ball cap pulled over his face. He was so still that it was possible he was dead. PERFECT. Dead people rarely move! I would check him for a pulse after I was done.

So I sketched him with delight, and then, a half hour later, I heard a voice.  “Is that me?” He had this real soft Southern accent — the sort I’d grown up with back in the Shenandoah Valley — and it was audible because he’d removed his hat from his face and because he was alive. I showed him the drawing. He was pleased. I told him that I couldn’t write because I wasn’t in the window seat, and it was a long plane ride, so he might as well tell me his life story. It wasn’t long enough for his entire life story, but he did tell me how his hand. I had noticed it while I was sketching: it was oddly shaped, and I’d drawn it oddly shaped. When he noticed that I noticed, he told me the tale of how he’d broken it. It turned out that, although he assured me he was a peaceful creature, he’d broken it on someone’s face. He’d been in a minor altercation defending his sister’s honor. As he was telling me this story — which may or may not have been true — I was listening to him with my mind on record. I was getting ready to steal him.

I used to steal the surface of a thing. I would have stolen that story of the barfight, for instance, and all the details around it, wholecloth. I would have recorded it as truthfully as I could imagine and I would’ve been proud of myself for accurately transcribing the human experience. But that’s bad thievery. Shallow thievery. Copying, not artistry.

Now I know that when I’m stealing someone, it’s not their details I need. It’s their soul. I’ve learned to solve for x. To simplify to the essence. It’s not about the punch. It’s about why he threw that punch. No, it’s about why he threw that punch then and never any other time. It’s about how he’s telling me the story. How he includes his sister’s honor in this story of a single, crippling punch, because her honor adds a weight that the mere velocity of the swing does not. He can’t own that punch — that single punch — even to me, a stranger on a plane, without including the backstory of its purpose. It’s about how he wants me to know that he’s not bragging about a casual barroom brawl, this hand — this broken hand — he broke his hand for a reason.

Here’s the thing: he could’ve been lying to me. His story could be completely fabricated, and then, if I stole that story, I’d be telling a lie of a lie. A copy of a copy, each version a bit less like reality. That would be bad stealing on my part.

But here is solving for x, simplifying for the truth, stealing the essence. Here was the truth, sitting beside me, a confession in the knit of his eyebrows and that soft Southern accent. Here was a boy who had lost his temper once, much to his shame, and here was a boy who had had to look at that moment every day since it had happened. Everything else was details. Just noise. But THAT was the soul: and that’s what I stole.

That boy became Adam Parrish from the Raven Cycle.

A boy who made a mistake and has to live with it every day. A boy who carries physical evidence of a moment’s anger.

Writer? I am a thief and an artist.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Shy Introvert’s Guide to Stiefvater Signings

I’ve gotten a lot of messages and asks about what to expect/ do/ not do at one of my signings, so I thought I’d do a big post about it. Many of them strike me as the questions of shy introverts — I could be projecting, as I'm still an introvert, and used to be quite shy myself, but I think not.Back in the day, I used to dread speaking on the phone and hated to go to any sort of social event where I might inadvertently violate some unspoken social code that everyone else somehow knew but I had missed. I’d do as much research as I could before the actual thing, and then, if I still couldn’t figure out if I’d feel embarrassed not knowing how to get in line or how to get a drink or where to park my car or whatever, I just wouldn’t go.

Readers are often shy people — that’s why they like books, I mean, is a novel going to LAUGH AT YOU BEHIND ITS HAND? No. Books do not have hands. So this is a guide for my shy readers (and perhaps useful to not-so-shy newbies).

1. Pack all of the books you want me to sign. I’m happy to sign copies of all your other books — just remember to buy at least one from the store sponsoring the event. If you have a lot of books and you feel awkward about it, feel free to hang back to the back of the line. You’ll usually find a handful of other people with giant stacks and perhaps you can bond over your large collection of novels written by people with the last name Stiefvater. Or, if you’re both painfully shy, you can just stand close to each other and avoid making eye contact.

2. Arrive at the event. If you want a seat up front or to be early in the signing line, you can get there early, but you don’t have to go crazy with the earliness. I sign for everyone who comes, no matter how long it takes, so you’re not going to miss out there. Last year, the events ranged from 20-200 people, so the worst case scenario is that you’ll be at the end of that line. Usually the events last two hours from beginning to the very bitter end of the signing line.

3. Buy the book. For the painfully shy, this is also a good excuse to ask any questions you might have about the event structure. Also, sometimes the events give out numbers to attendees to reward the people who arrive first and get them closer to the front of the line. Usually if they’re going to do this, you get one of these suckers when you buy a book. If you’re confused about the format, remember that everyone else there is probably confused too, because there’s no standard-issue-book-signing-protocol, so everyone is just playing along.

4. Poof — I arrive. I’m driving Loki my ’73 Camaro to all of the Sinner tour events, so I will manifest in a cloud of exhaust fumes and gasoline odor. I shall have my sister with me for all of the events through Omaha, and then in Denver I will pick up Brenna Yovanoff, and then for the Utah events all the way through L.A., I’ll have Tessa Gratton and Brenna stuffed in the car. I’m telling you this because if you also enjoy Tessa’s or Brenna’s novels, they will be loitering aimlessly in the store and will be happy to sign their books too, if you ask them or just wave the copies in front of them.

5. I talk. Probably for ten or fifteen minutes, I will say something enlightening about Sinner or the writing process, or perhaps just give readers a status update on my goats. Then I take questions from the audience for another fifteen-twenty minutes. I’m happy to answer questions about any of the other books, but if it’s super spoilery, it’s better to whisper it in my ear as you come through the signing line.

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6. Giveaways. At the first event and last event of the tour: Charlottesville, and Los Angeles, the store will raffle off one of the electric guitars I doodled on. You have to be there to be eligible for those, and they’ll hand out the raffle tickets there — probably when you buy a book. Sometimes the stores have other giveaways, too, but they’ll all sort of go like this.

book wrappers

7. Book wrappers. Everyone who buys a copy of Sinner at the tour events will get the custom book wrapper I did — you don’t have to do anything special to earn one, and you don’t have to ask for it, and probably they will be set up on the table beside me for you to just take one. Before you ask, you can have one for every copy of Sinner you buy. So that means if you want one for a friend, you’ll have to buy her a copy of the book as well. That’s just fair to everyone else who bought a book in order to get one. (and for those of you who can’t get to a tour event, do remember that if you pre-order a copy from Fountain Bookstore before July 1, they will send you one of the book wrappers).

8. Post-it notes. While you stand in line, the booksellers will often ask you your name so they can write it on a sticky note. This is not because they want to call you later. It’s for the personalization in the book. It’s often loud, and names are hard to hear, and this makes it easier for me to not write a really embarrassing spelling of your name in your book. It’s totally okay if you don’t want your book personalized, too. Sometimes people ask me to write something long and complicated in the front and I stare at them, not because I think their face is weird, but because it’s hard to think of something clever on the spot.

9. Meeting my face. I know this can be the nerve-wracking part. Dread slowly seeps through your bones as you get closer and closer to the table where the author sits like a hulking vulture. Trust me. I know it. People often get flummoxed or embarrassed or sometimes they just stare into the middle distance as I sign. Here are some things that I like to hear if you can’t think of anything else: a) which of my books you like the best, b) where you first read my books, c) things you’re hoping I’ll write about some day. Or, if you don’t want to say anything, that’s fine, too. I will not think that you’re socially awkward. The painfully shy can always just smile and avoid eye contact and possibly slip an index card with a song recommendation on it over the table. I’m sorry that this moment is sometimes anti-climactic, too. Because it only is a minute or two after standing in line.

10. Photos. I’m always happy to take photos with readers, so long as the flash is off. Usually there is a bookseller who can take it for you, or you can ask the person behind you in line. I have never seen anyone in line be annoyed about having to take a photo for someone else, so don’t feel bad about this.

11. Giving me things. Sometimes readers want to bring me things. I am very flattered by this, but it also makes me feel strange to accept gifts when I am giving you nothing in return but books that I hope will make you cry in public. Also, I’m always traveling by small car or plane, and so drawings and whatnot usually get crushed. And ever since I heard the story about what a deranged reader once baked into author brownies, I won’t eat any food that’s brought. So if you want to bring me something, just write your favorite line from a book, song, or poem onto a slip of paper and give it to me. That’ll be more than enough. I just like your shining faces.

12. Ta-da! It’s over! You have signed books. You have heard me talk and possibly asked me a question. You possibly have made eye contact with several other readers. You have totally survived. Does that answer all of the questions? Here are the tour dates in July, in their entirety. You can see that I drive from right to left across the country.

7/2: Charlottesville, VA, 5 p.m. NOTE: this is a guitar stop!
7/3: Baltimore, MD, 4 p.m.
7/5: Pittsburgh, PA, 4 p.m.
7/7: Chicago/ Naperville, IL, 7 p.m.
7/8: Chicago, IL, 12 p.m.
7/8: Milwaukee, WI, 6:30 p.m.
7/9: Madison, WI, 7 p.m.
7/10: Iowa City, IA, 7 p.m.
7/11: Omaha, NE, 4 p.m.
7/14: Denver, CO, 7 p.m.
7/19: Salt Lake City, UT, 7 p.m.
7/21: Reno, NV, 7 p.m.
7/23: San Francisco, CA, 7:30 p.m.
7/24: San Francisco/ Menlo Park, CA 7 p.m. NOTE: This is a group event with Brenna Yovanoff & Tessa Gratton — we'll be talking about working together as critique partners.
7/28: Los Angeles, CA, 7 p.m.
7/29: Los Angeles/ Montrose, CA - 7 p.m. NOTE: this is a guitar stop!
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