Sunday, May 24, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I'm packed (my bag is bristling with stuff that I know security is going to make me pull out)(I packed chocolate-chip blondies for the drive too, because cookie dough just wouldn't keep), prepped (found my only white bra, the one that feels like a squid is suction cupped onto each boob), and channeling Chicken Joe from Surf's Up in preparation for BEA ("dude, I am totally cool with talking in large crowds. Can I like, sign your ARC? Pretty clouds . . . ").

E-mail and blogging will be spotty until I get back the 4th of June. I will, however, do my best, however, to blog about BEA over the weekend.

This was going to be an intensely clever post but . . . suddenly all i can think is . . . it's here. It's really here. I've been dreaming of going to BEA for . . . I don't know how long. And when I signed the Scholastic deal for SHIVER last May, it became a distinct possibility in my future. My loooong distant future. I mean, I was looking forward to it in the nebulous way that you look forward to the next Timothy Dalton movie. You guess that it might happen someday, but who knows when. And heck, who knows if he'll still be sexy and snarky by then. That sort of looking forward.

But here it is. By this time next week, I will be sitting on a plane, thinking about how my first BEA went. Thinking about my two signing and my video interview and my talks and breakfasts and what it was like to see Central Park for the first time.

And that realization sort of makes me feel . . . feel . . . like i really need some Ben & Jerry's. Chocolate Fudge Brownie ought to do it.

catch y'all later, gator. I have a date with some ice cream.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Six Things on a Saturday

1. I am completely impressed by what Team Raving Pen (who won the SHIVER contest) is doing with the SHIVER review copies. They are each reading it and mailing it to the next person, and writing something in the front cover of the advanced review copy as they do. So at the end of the round, each review copy will have a ton of little notes detailing its journey! I think possibly that GoadingthePen may give me a run for my money in Future Queendom of America.

2. I have a launch party date settled on! It's August 7th and it will be in Williamsburg, VA. I'm going to spill much more details much closer to the date, but if anybody will be in the area and wants to RSVP, I'm trying to get a scope for the size of the thing.

3. Do not use taxpayer's money to clean your moat. I wanted a moat before I realized you had to clean it. Don't they make giant algae eaters for this purpose? Or whales or something?

4. I am getting insanely excited about BookExpo. Did I mention my signing times there yet? I'll be there both Friday and Saturday -- holy crap, next Friday and Saturday -- and my signings are both on Saturday. I'll be signing BALLAD ARCs at the 'Traditional Autographing Area' (I'm not sure if they have a non-traditional autographing area. Where you sign the books in blood and pear juice or something) from 2:30-3:30 and I'll be signing SHIVER ARCs at the Scholastic book from 3:30-4:30.

5. I have a goal to take 200 photos while I'm in NYC this time. Just because. I will probably inflict some on you.

6. I am slowly making my way through the crits for Team Raving Pen, I swear! I'm doing about 4 a day in the order I received them, so if you haven't gotten yours yet, know that I'm gettin' there!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Retreating is Not Always a Bad Thing

I am trying to avoid starting this post with 'so'. It is kind of you guys to not point out that I have been starting every post with 'so'.

So.

I have just learned really exciting news about someone else that is making me gleeful at the moment, but it's secret, so of course, I can't tell you. And I also have exciting news about myself, but it's secret, so of course, I also can't tell you. But I do have a third piece of information that is probably only interesting to the parties involved. But it's not secret. So I'm telling you.

I'm going on a writer's retreat! Me and eight other YA authors have rented a house in Savannah and we're going to hole up and work on Secret Projects we can't tell you about so that we can create more Secret News that we can't tell you about and then GLARGH


There is nothing more disgusting than the sound of a cat drinking stolen milk. Did you notice? There is something about the way it sounds when a cat is drinking out of a bowl on top of a table instead of on the floor or on the washing machine or other cat-appropriate places. That's revolting. Anyway. I have moved both cat and bowl, so I'm fine now. Where was I?

Oh yes. Savannah. Georgia. One of my chief requirements for this was that it involve Spanish Moss, so there had better be gobs of it. (These photos would suggest that there will be). Anyway, this whole idea of retreating and running rampant with other authors in our pajamas and split infinitives was actually 's idea, so I'm sad she couldn't make it. So instead, I'll be writing deathless YA prose on a Secret Project with Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff, Heidi Kling, Carrie Ryan, Jackson Pearce, Linda Joy Singleton, Dawn Metcalf, and Jackie Dolamore.

I am revoltingly excited about this, especially meeting my two crit partners in person for the first time. I'm not anticipating much sleep will happen. You can follow us on twitter at GothicGirls, too.

whoo hoo! anyone know any good indies near Savannah?


(images of Savannah from here and here)

Death to All Line-Editing: Maggie's Epic Critiquing/ Editing Post

Okay, first of all, Kelly Fineman interviewed me and that's up at her blog. I answer crucial questions like what the last movie I memorized lines from, my thoughts on urban fantasy vs. paranormal romance, and other fun things.

Second of all, As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a regular at the blueboards over at Verla Kay’s, and there’s a thread on being edited over there that caught my eye. Several authors there weigh in with their experiences, and I was going to say something about what I’ve learned now that I’ve been through the process four times with four books and four editors in various combinations and permutations (editors! collect them all!). But all I’ve really learned is that it’s different every time, for every book, with every editor.

I will say that with the best editors, the process is very much like the process I go through with my critique partners, and there is a very vague process. And since I’d been asked what my crit partners were like/ what made a good crit/ how to be a good critique partner, I figured I’d talk a little bit about it here.

I would to take a moment, however, to say

DEATH TO ALL LINE EDITING.

Not that I have anything against line editing. I’m a big fan of it, actually, because word choice and typos and grammar are all very important things. It’s something I see from a lot of beginning critiquers.

However, in the relative scheme of things, I would say that this is the least important aspect of editing. I know there will be shocked gasps and generally fainting and Victorian hysterics from the crowd at this statement, but it’s true. No one will care if your grammar is perfect and your sentences flawless if your characters are flat as paninis and you have plot holes big enough to drive Mini-Coopers through.

Personally, I don’t line edit my crit partners’ manuscripts. At all. I will point out awkward bits that pull me out if I don’t think that they will notice on their final read through or metaphors that make me snort tea out of my nose, but otherwise, I’m not really big on picking apart word choice.

My friends, there are bigger battles to wage. Like the battle against Egregious Pacing.


The Battle Against Egregious Pacing, Moth-Eaten Plots, and Silly, Silly Character Motivations


So, if not line-editing, then what? What I do do is examine things like character relationships, motives, pacing, plot, scene structure, and underlying meaning and tone. And I’m going to use my latest editorial phone call with Editor MixTape as an example of this. On the phone, he gave me seven areas to tackle with LINGER and I’m going to share them with you, with all spoilery elements scrubbed from the record. Hopefully they aren’t too generic! Here they are:

1. In early chapters, increase tension between Grace and her parents to better foreshadow the mumblemumblespoileryplotpoint. (pacing, tone)

2. Stronger consequence for one of Grace’s actions: add in a big fight, which will also better shore up and explain the mumblemumblespoileryplotpoint. (pacing, character motivation)

3. A bit more character interaction between Grace and another key character, especially in the early chapters. To increase tension and sense of fear for this character in the last third of the book. (pacing, character building, plot clarification)

4. In the middle of the book, increase Grace’s knowledge of a plot point that becomes relevant during the climax, to up the tension of the middle third (pacing, tone)

5. Find a better rationale for Grace withholding a certain piece of information from another character. (plot, character motivation)

6. Give supporting character more scenes describing his life in a Minnesota spring to establish what is “normal” in this book before we take it away. (tone, character building)

7. Tweak the mood of a scene where another POV character has the rug pulled out from under him; it’s a mismatch with what the plot has been leading up to. (plot, tone)

As you can see, they’re all very big picture edits. Before Editor MixTape saw it, the manuscript went through several rounds with my critique partners. Which brings me to the next section.


Critique Partners, or People Who Do Lots of Work for You & Don’t Even Get Paid

Critique partners -- I don’t know how I lived without mine for so long. It is not that they write the manuscript for me or that they change my work. It’s more like . . . you have a certain ideal destination, and you can take a car, or you can walk. You would get there eventually on foot (probably) but it would be a heck of a lot faster and painlessly in the car. Plus, air-conditioning. And depending on the critique partners, heated seats, sun roof, and third-row-seating.

I have deluxe crit partners.

It’s absolutely crucial for your crit partners to be on the same page as you. They should be critical readers of everything they read, and their reading tastes should be pretty similar to yours. They should, at the very least, be very well-versed in the genre you’re writing in, so they can shout “YOU CAN’T WRITE ABOUT ALL POWERFUL RINGS!” when needed. They should also be at least as good as you, which sounds terrible to say out loud, but it’s true. You’ll just frustrate both of you otherwise. You should also have them in duplicate or triplicate, so that you can compare their opinions. And also, because if you ever get together, you can finish off an entire pizza without any pesky leftovers. These things are important.


Useful Things That Crit Partners Do

Critique partners do things like point out where the pacing feels slow, scenes that feel long or short, misleading plot points, unnecessary side plots, character inconsistencies, and whether or not your tension is working. They also, sometimes, call you on the phone and tell you that your characters can not compare himself to Demeter.

Which is true. Objectivity is priceless.

I have saved that phone message for posterity.

For LINGER, my crit partners said useful things like “I did want X to try harder with Y, because I think people like that save up kindnesses, even when they seem to be rejecting them” and “it would make for tense scenes to use Z, but I don't see her advancing the plot” and “what feels missing to me is Y. i know he's all numb and stuff, but i think he needs to have a stronger reaction to X's reaction.”*

Clearly my characters are not really named X or Y or Z (I have not yet achieved that level of desperation), but you see the sort of statements that guide me.

*real excerpts from real chats with real crit partners.


And now I think this post has gotten far longer than I expected, just like the second Harry Potter movie. So I’m going to stop here and if you guys have questions or angry shouts or Victorian faintings and hysteria you’d like to do in the comments, you can do that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Things I Should Be Above Finding Funny

I told myself I was above this, but I was coerced. And baited. I fought the urge, but I couldn't. So.

New Moon Poster Real
I'm going to blame Angie of Angieville for this one.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fiction!

My short fiction for Merry Sisters of Fate is up here. It got distinctly more surreal than it was in my head.

Real writing post tomorrow! on editing, even.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Results are In!

First of all, I wanted to thank everybody for a completely unbelievable contest. You guys were incredibly enthusiastic and generous and I appreciate you spreading the word about SHIVER around the cyberspace. All told, SHIVER's cover and info got posted on over one hundred and fifty blogs in a week. Um. That is totally crazy!

Anyway, so thanks to all of you. I wish I could give something cool to all of you. For the runners up, I've decided that i'm sending the team leader a signed copy of LAMENT and doing 5 critiques of 5 pages for any team members the leader chooses.

And of course, for the winning team, the prizes doubled when they hit 50, so it's all the prizes you see on the right:

- 3 ARCs of SHIVER, signed
- 8 signed copies of LAMENT
- a critique of five pages for every team member on the winning team (that would be represented by my smiling mug in that image)

So a huge congratulations to Team Raving Pen, helmed by goadingthepen, ravelda, and annemariewrites! I'll need each of you to send me an address so that I can send an ARC and a few LAMENTs to each of you (team leaders will disseminate these as they see fit).

As to the critiques, please send me an email by Monday letting me know that you will be sending me pages if you don't have the pages ready to send. Put CONTEST CRITIQUE and your story title in the subject line, so I know what it is (I get about 1800 emails a month, so this will make my life about two hundred times easier) and try to avoid using titles like MAKE YOUR MEMBER BIGGER or STOP BEING INTIMIDATED BY THAT MIDGET IN YOUR PANTS because they will go to my spam and be lost Forever.

Send everything to maggiestiefvater Aht gmail doht com. Except run it all together and obviously use @ and . I will tackle crits in the order that I get them.

Also, for critiques, I have three levels of burn. Let me know what's good for you when you send it your 5 pages.

1. I am a delicate lily. Point out my strengths and crit gently, please, so my petals don't fall off.
2. I am a petunia. I can take a lot, but if you step on me, dying is an option.
3. I am a dandelion. Lay it on me. I'll still be here when you're done.

Send the 5 pages either in the body of the email, as a .doc, or as an .rtf.

Phew. And without further ado, here are the members of Team Raving Pen (I think I got everyone, team leaders, let me know if I omitted anyone).

RAVING PEN

1. ravelda
2. goadingthepen
3. jessica_shea
4. britlitfantwin
5. shanasilver
6. music_lover3
7. eshakespear
8. edgyauthor
9. robinellen
10. juliakarr
11. lisa_schroeder
12. authorwithin
13. kbaccellia
14. latteya
15 eclectic_writer
16 carriejones
17 __bac__
18 sruble
19 gag01001
20 cyn2write
21 carrie_boo
22 afraclose
23 azang
24 inkbabies
25 kathys_shadow
26 crzywritermindi
27 veschwab
28 aliensplicer
29 dragonflame_05
30 brian_ohio
31 jeniwrites
32 denisejaden
33 tmthomas
34 coloradowriter
35 mandywriter
36 heatherkb
37 tamarak
38 janel_harrison
39 lillpluta
40 lalam
41 kristydempsey
42 miladyinsanity
43 elissadcruz
44 ecm_sketches
45 sixverstein
46 lux-st-clare.blogspot.com
47 aerinrose
48 pamm
49 lookingforalaskamusic
50 Bonibleaux Designs
51 learningtoread
52 arya_darcy
53 futuredoctor19
54 lindajsingleton
55 astres
56 confusedlook
57 zibeth
58 ebenstone
59 slushy_one
60 sarahlepstein
61 fandoria
62 bleauxleaux
63 sboman
64 bbovenguy
65 suzelle
66 sahm2
67 dawn_metcalf
68 queenofthefae
69 rosemaryinwheat
70 katharinethayer
71 sgchris
72 patesden
73 zhonghua2000
74 saffronlie
75 ladydaydream
76 rebness
77 pandorasblog
78 scrr

Thanks again to everyone for playing!!!!

Five Things on a Friday

1. Contest update. A reminder. This thing, which has become legend, ends at 8 p.m. EST tonight. I've decided that the runner up team will get a signed copy of LAMENT and 5 critiques of the first 5 pages of their mss. Right now, Team Raving Pen is at 61 and Team Babytoaster is at 46.

2. Yesterday, my brother helped me change my spark plugs on Loki for the first time. I've never done spark plugs before. The blister on my thumb is because I went for a V8 instead of a V6 - I swear it wasn't there until spark plug #7. You can see greasy evidence of my labors at write. These hands are skilled, baby!

3. I also mowed the lawn before I talked to my editor on the phone, which caused allergic snot. I don't know what I was thinking. Subconsciously, I must just like having a runny nose when I talk to my editors. Security blanket, I guess. Also, why is it that mowing is so much more satisfying than vacuuming? Anyway, so you'll notice that I look bedraggled but still smiley in the photo on the right. That is because I mowed in 80 degree weather, but I am filled with the glow that only 8 new spark plugs can create.

4. I have a book signing from 1-3 p.m. at the Barnes and Noble in Short Pump, VA tomorrow, which is near a giant mall that is near a organic pizza place. Guess which one I'll be hitting up after the signing? If you guessed the place that involves shoes, do not pass GO, do not collect $200. Anyway. Come see me.

5. An LJ'er has told me that some of the entries to the contest seem a little squiffy. As in, they are posted on new LJ's with no other posts or friends, or on LJs that have been dead for a year, or otherwise sketchy circumstances. I'm not sure what to do about this, as I didn't really specify "don't invent LJs for this contest" or "play nicely, my pets" in the contest rules -- I didn't really expect it to accomplish this scale, at the beginning. So for now, I'm just thinking upon it -- I haven't gone back and looked at every single link yet. The suggestion of foul play makes me Displeased, however, and Displeasing the Future Queen of America has never boded well. Bad things happen to small villages and countries with names people can't remember when the FQoA is enraged.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Um, Contest . . .

Unbelievably, Team Raving Pen now has 49 comments!!!! One more post for Team Raving Pen will double the prizes and . . . heck, I'll throw in more random fun stuff as well into the box.

Three Things on a Thursday

1. Contest update! The two front-runners are still Team Raving Pen and Team Babytoaster. They are neck in neck with 37 for Raving Pen (I keep wanting to type RavenClaw I have no idea why) and Hufflepuff . . . I mean, Babytoaster, is at 34. I really think one of them might make it to 50 to double the prizes! The deadline is tomorrow, so if you feel like playing, the link is above.



2. I just got off the phone with editor MixTape, talking revision stuff for LINGER. Thank goodness, he loves it. He said it was a "worthy successor to SHIVER." I think I must have been vibrating with nerves for the past few weeks, because I feel so utterly relieved now. His suggestions were the best sort of editorial suggestions: the ones that feel like they came out of your own head, if your own head was completely objective and intensely clever. Time to celebrate! Caffeine and revisions for everyone!



3. My cat Moose fell into our aquarium today. This is how it went down:

ROOM: *CRASH*
ME: What the . . . ?
MOOSE: *inside aquarium* *observing fish without concern*
FISH: We're going to die!
ME: I think you're right.
MOOSE: *getting waterlogged*
ME: *removing cat and putting outside*
FISH: We're suing.

Apparently, Moose was sitting on top of the aquarium, staring at the fish, and his fat butt busted the plexiglass top, plunging both butt and top into the aquarium.

Moose is unapologetic. Also, he smells like a fish tank.

I have taken the liberty of populating this post with art I have done of Moose and Moose thinking of himself as art.

(Moose gets away with a lot, by the way, because he has paid my rent many times over. Back when I was an artist, he was a model for a lot of my pieces.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Contest Update!

Okay, so there is much craziness going on with the ARC contest! I thought I would post a brief (unofficial) update.

These are rough numbers, if they look wonky to you, and on the last day of the contest, I will be going back through every single comment, tallying again, and checking the entries to make sure they indeed have the cover and a link to the pre-order page.

But I figured I would do a shout out to our three front runners (and the only ones that by my count have so far gotten the five entries needed to qualify):

Steph Su has managed to get 5 friends to post!

babytoaster has 14!

And Team Raving Pen has 24!

So right now Raving Pen is in the lead (and 26 commenters away from doubling the prizes) but as the contest runs until the 15th, it's still anybody's game.

And a weird, weird game it has turned out to be! whoo!

Again, this is a mirrored post from my Livejournal blog. I'll stop saying that now.

Welcome & All That Rot

This is just a post to start things off, because I have to say something. I am Maggie Stiefvater, author of a young adult urban fantasy about homicidal faeries, LAMENT (Flux '08), its sequel, BALLAD (Flux '09), and a forthcoming YA novel about werewolf nookie and first love, SHIVER (Scholastic, '09). LAMENT hit bookstores in October '08, quickly receiving 3 starred reviews from Booklist, KLIATT, and Publisher's Weekly. It is available in Barnes & Noble, indie stores, and online at Amazon. This blog mirrors my Livejournal blog, which chronicles my struggles in writing and becoming Queen of America.
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