Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Giant SHIVER Giveaway & Book Trailer

And now for the contest! First of all, the lovely prizes.

1) Two ARCs of SHIVER, mailed out as soon as the contest is finished.
2) Two finished copies of SHIVER, mailed out as soon as I get my author's copies.
3) Two CDs of the music I wrote for SHIVER and LAMENT.
4) 15 minute live-chat with the author (that would be me) to talk about my books, your books, your dog, or whatever!

And the rules:

1) Watch the trailer I made for SHIVER below (it took me dozens of hours to make the hundreds of paper cut outs and then photograph the multiple frames per second)(Yes I am crazy).
2) Post a link to the trailer or embed the trailer online. Every unique place you post it counts as an entry. Sooo that means you can embed it on your LJ, post a link on twitter, post a link on your Facebook, and embed it on Myspace, and it would count as 4 entries.
3) Comment back here telling me where you linked it, numbered like so: 1. LJ, 2. Twitter, 3. Facebook, 4. Blogger, etc., with linkies, so I can spend my time writing more books instead of counting and verifying entries.

I will hold a Giant Drawing on Tuesday, July 7th, at 9 p.m., and post the winners here and on my Livejournal Blog.

Sound good?

Here's the trailer!

SHIVER Launch Party & Final Cover

Shiver Final Cover Okay! I have waited far too long to announce my launch party for SHIVER, but I'm going to make up for it by posting one million details today, including the final cover image! Also, right after this, I'm going to post a SHIVER contest, with a chance to win ARCs and finished copies and music and fun things.

First of all, here's the link to the e-vite. If you do think you might be able to make it, it would make me exceptionally happy (and you do like me exceptionally happy, right?) if you'd RSVP there. And now here is what the e-vite says:

Location:
College of William & Mary Bookstore, Colonial Williamsburg
345 Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185 US

When: Friday, August 7, 5:00PM to 7:00PM
Phone: (757)253-4900


I'll be signing books and reading from SHIVER (which may or may not involve me standing on a chair and/or reenacting scenes from the book with a guitar, depending on my caffeine consumption). There will also be drawings for two giveaways: one is a candy gift basket from Wythe Candy Shop, the candy shop that inspired one of the best-loved scenes from SHIVER*, and the other is a giveaway for librarians and teachers: win a free author visit for your library or classroom.

*one early review from a book blogger says "there's a scene in a candy shop that will leave you absolutely salivating. I dare you to read that one just once." It was also mentioned specifically in the offer letter from my editor. Said candy shop is a five minute walk from the bookstore where the launch is held. Coincidence? I. Think. Not. Don't miss it!

Refreshments will be in attendance. A play-doh and face painting station will keep kiddies occupied so don't feel shy about bringing them. (I have someone else lined up to paint faces, but, again, depending on my caffeine consumption, this may devolve into Maggie painting wolves on people's cheeks).

Please RSVP; the bookstore also recommends calling to reserve your copy of SHIVER (especially if you're planning on buying more than one) to ensure they don't run out.

You know you want to come. See you there?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Five: The Giant Edition

1. My Friday fiction is up at Merry Sisters of Fate. Our common prompt this week was an image of a giant, and I have to confess, it is very hard to be inspired by a giant when your chosen genre is Angst. Brenna and Tess had managed theirs on Monday and Wednesday, however, so I wrote mine about a giant and a Jaguar.

2. I have dates for both my SHIVER and BALLAD release parties. How early do you guys think I should announce these things? I'm torn between giving people time to plan and making it close enough to the event that it's relevant/ they don't forget.

3. I am rereading The Golden Bough (which for you muggles is about folklore and mythology) and there's a bit where they talk about kings and taboos and there's a bunch of beliefs about kings where you can't reuse the dishware that they eat out of, so they break it after he eats out of it. Have these guys never heard of reduce, reuse, recycle? All I can think is that "Corelle must do crap sales there."

4. I have been contemplating buying another set of bagpipes lately. It's sort of become my obsession since the weather got warm. I played them competitively in college and they were my life, basically, until I was hit by a drunk driver that messed up my teeth and made the pipes physically painful to play. In a fit of angst that I normally reserve for my characters, I sold my pipes a few years ago, so I wouldn't have to look at them knowing I couldn't play. Now, though . . . my teeth are obligingly dying at the roots (because of said trauma) and I'm thinking, maybe it won't hurt as much. I can play my practice chanter without too much twitching. I'm thinking, I want a set of pipes. I'm not really me without them. Hmmm . ..

5. Song obsession for the week: Living Things' "Oxygen".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Maggie Speaks!

I'm listening to the Q & A and the excerpt that I recorded for Scholastic back in April, and it's not nearly as crawly of an experience as I expected. Those studios guys were GOOD.

In other news, Tessa Gratton, my crit partner, is writing a novel that I want to marry. I've never been this excited for a novel that isn't finished yet. I mean, that isn't mine.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sonnet to the Ants With Which I Co-Exist

O ants. Six-legged bearers of formic acid
You, everpresent, omniscient,
you watch me while I sleep.
Or so says Terminex.

O ants. Tiny men of nature marching under
a pennant of work ethic.
Driven from my walls,
you moved into my car.

O ants. Slight misunderstood metaphors
Bitty mandibles, fearsome warriors.
You bite like Dennis Leary.
Ouch.

O ants. Your eggs, countless possibilities
for brothers and sisters,
Laid in the door linings
of my Passat.

And my Camaro.

O ants. You fragile creatures, overly fond
Of these worldly things.
I see your death
in a Bottle of Chlorox.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SHIVER. And Play-Doh

So, I'm supposed to be working on revisions for my deadline tomorrow, but my mom couldn't babysit until 2. So, I decided to break out the play-doh with the kids.

And may have gotten carried away.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bring on the Angst, or Confidence: the B Side

So. Let’s talk angst.

My last post was all about confidence and making yourself into the person you want to be and being confident and basically telling the universe “sit, stay” and making it your pet.*

*pet being used here in the place of a much more appropriate word that would increase the PG rating of this post.

But there were some replies (I would link, but they’re now f-locked) talking about how such happy-happy-joy-joy posts felt dishonest and fake (not specifically mine, but the entire Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy genre of posts). That by not talking about the negative aspects of writing, I wasn’t showing the whole story, and was instead portraying a Disney-esque Pollyanna Dancing Through Fields of Sunflowers Tossing Rose Petals and Baby Puppies over Shoulders Image of Writing.*

*I paraphrase.

Okay. Gloves off. Let’s talk about angst. Let’s talk about self-doubt. Let’s talk about everything in writing professionally that is not daisy chains and pillow-top mattresses and glossy dust-jackets. No, it’s not all smiling at my ARCs and petting my final drafts and planning my formal tea parties with Maureen Johnson.

Here’s what it also is.

-It’s realizing that I have four months to write the sequel to SHIVER, and that it had better live up to SHIVER’s wild success, or I will be instantly transported to has-been status.

-It’s having two toddlers in a rural area without childcare and realizing that I, again, have four months to write the sequel to SHIVER.

-It’s being frustrated with edits; seeing a problem but not knowing how to fix it. It’s seeing edits but not realizing what they are trying to say. It’s seeing edits but having no objectivity after reading your own novel seven times.

-It’s waiting months for your initial advance check to come in and swallowing your humility to ask your parents to pay your rent. And telling your cat he’s going to have to start eating those song birds you told him to avoid.

-It’s getting fifty pages into a novel under contract, realizing you started it all wrong, and hitting delete. While the timer keeps ticking down.

-It’s turning down friends’ invitations to dinners, movies, and chippendale dancers because you have copy edits due.

-It’s staying up until two in the morning to get that rough draft done on time. And two in the morning the next night. And the next night. And the next. . .

-It’s finding out that those flashy lights and nausea you’ve been getting are called hormonal migraines, and you’re going to get them every month, and yes, they will floor you and make you unable to do anything but lay in your bed and listen to Jon Secada.

-It’s getting delayed in an airport while traveling to and from a book events and realizing, slowly, that this means a day of not eating because of your preservative allergy. Nothing. Except for apple juice out of a vending machine.

-It’s staring at page 75 of your work in progress and saying “I don’t know where I’m going with this. Holy frick, I have no clue what I was trying to say here.”

-It’s getting your first review of your favorite novel and it says it’s about dog sex.

-It’s waiting to go out and speak to fifty important people about your novel and feeling dizzy as you try to remember what you’re going to say. Something about dogs? and sex?

-It’s watching your husband bundle the kids and extended family into the car for a day trip you can’t go on because you’re working. Probably to IKEA. Because you love IKEA, and missing it makes you sad. Tiny Swedish furniture turns you on.

-It’s lying in bed at night and thinking “why isn’t this plot thread working? what if my editor doesn’t like it? will this have commercial appeal? what if just am writing the same novel over and over?”

-It’s being gone for two days and coming back to 160 e-mails that all need to be answered in the next two days when all you want to do is sleep.

-It’s wondering if you’re too visible in the small town where you live; wondering if you need to worry about mentioning your kids’ names in your blog; wondering if writing will change your life.

-It’s worrying that writing won’t change your life.

-It’s piles of deductions and tax paperwork and enough receipts to surf on.

-It’s finishing that draft, hitting send, thinking “that’s done” and immediately opening up the copy edits on your other novel.

Sound bad?

It’s not.

It’s also doing what I love. Yes, there is tedium. Yes, there’s frustration. But there’s also wild highs and the excitement of opening up that draft to work on it and the little thrill of anticipation when you send off a new novel to your editor. It’s the getting to work without taking off my pajama bottoms or finding a bra. It’s deducting YA novels as a research expense. It’s seeing what I want and doing what I need to get there, positive and negative. I would say it’s 5% angst and 95% life.

Do I have self-doubt? Of course. Life is no fun without a challenge and the definition of a challenge is that it’s something you’re not sure that you’ll be able to tackle successfully. A challenge has doubt built right into it.

Do I have angst and worry? Yeah. Will checks get here in time to cover school? Will I finish this book on time? Will I be able to get a sitter for this conference? There’s plenty to worry about. In fact, I could spend all my time doing worrying. But I wouldn’t have time for those 160 e-mails then, much less going to IKEA to admire tiny Swedish furniture.

The fact is, the little funks and doubts and worries make it better. If you don’t see what the consequences would be of failing, victory isn’t as sweet. I think this is what Carrie was trying to say about insecurity. To a certain extent, I embrace the hard parts and the parts that make me smack my forehead against my keyboard. Lows make the highs higher. But the fact is that I’m too busy to give myself over to too much angst. If something happens, I cling onto my husband for two minutes and wail “I wish I was Queen Elizabeth” or something else evocative, and then I sit down and I get to work. If it seems like I don’t post about the down sides, it’s because I don’t really give them the time of day. They’re there, they’re a fact of life, you handle them.

Are they really a down side? Or are they just a different side?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In Which Maggie Muses on Self-Confidence

I know I blog a lot about self-confidence (or at least it feels like I blog a lot about self-confidence), but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I got back from the Gothic Girls retreat. I've actually been thinking about it so much that the word 'confidence' no longer looks like it's spelled right. For a lot of reasons. For starters, the Gothic Girls were a very self-confident bunch. Also, we talked a lot about ambition and what we would need to accomplish to feel we’ve “arrived” and what we saw ourselves doing in five years. (Me: "Taking my long-awaited position as Queen of America, reinstating That 70s Show, delivering all state of the union speeches in 30 minute claymation television specials involving hedgehogs, and continue making a living writing") All of this while revising LINGER, the sequel to SHIVER (which, as you might guess from my last SHIVER post, inspires NO pressure whatsoever), and generally standing next to incredibly talented and accomplished women.

And so my musings came round to three big points. Which I've made into a list because man oh man I love me my lists.

1) Self-confidence has absolutely nothing to do with your accomplishments. People in the writing world seem to think this more than other people. Part of it, I think, is trying to apply an objective value (getting an agent, landing a book deal, getting a tour, getting a manservant to oil your back and throw cheetos into your mouth) to a subjective pursuit -- writing, which is creative and subjective and difficult to quantify. We all work so hard to validate our time spent writing that we start to think that these milestones make us better people, better writers, whatever.

It’s not true. And it leads to huge let downs if you have poor self-confidence, because guess what? On the other side of that book deal, you’ll still have poor self-confidence. Because there’s always the next thing. The bigger deal, the more popular blog, the private waffle breakfasts with J. K. Rowling. You'll never get to that magical honeypot that makes you feel like a Real Person.

And the Gothic Girls (oh yeah I’m going to tie everything back to this retreat) were a perfect example of this, I thought. I mean, we were all a different spot in our careers -- from having just sold a debut, to having just signed with an agent, to having their debut just come out, to having 25 books under their belt. If self-confidence = what you’ve accomplished, this retreat would have been a certified mess. (Which I would’ve had an absolutely fabulous time photographing and blogging about. Just sayin’.) But every one of these girls had confidence in themselves, some sense of self-worth that existed quite apart from their writing. They were confident as people, and that meant that Tessa and Carrie or me and Dawn or Jackie and Jackson could have endless discussions on important things such as plotting and which bits of interior decorating we could use to play zombies without so much as a single raised hackle or wound licked.

And that’s important.

2. Self-confidence is not the same thing as ego. This is not to say that the two don’t (frequently) dance hand in hand down the street, pushing over old ladies in crosswalks and kicking baby kittens. But they are definitely not the same entity. Ego is thinking you have all the answers. Self-confidence is knowing you don’t have the answers, but being pretty sure that you will be able to find them. Ego is often related to accomplishments: I have a big book deal, look at my peacock feathers, I can barely fit my head through the door stuff. (again, I would have great joy photographing and blogging about this). Self-confidence is unrelated to accomplishments: I don’t have a book deal yet, but it’s a goal and I’m sure I can find the tools to get there in the end. Or: I do have a book deal, but you know, I’m not any different from the person I was before I got that book deal. Ego is also very transitory. It has to be pet and propped up and requires other people to bask in it. (I’m thinking like the king of the lemurs in Madagascar). There were no warring egos at the retreat, something for which I was eternally grateful. Because there was alcohol and small sleeping quarters involved. And I would not like to see Jackson and Carrie go to bat on a sleeper sofa using Spanish moss and Macbooks as weapons.

Okay, I lie. I would totally like to see that. But I didn’t.

3. Self-confidence is a very . . . internal thing. I was not a self-confident girl in college, despite being a successful competitive bagpiper, having a 3.8 GPA, leading a band that toured all over three states, winning writing and art contests, having exceptionally shiny hair, being Future Princess of America, blah blah blah. These were all things I did, but the only thing they really ever bolstered was my ego, which was temporary. While I was thinking about this, I was trying to decide how I made the leap to being a confident person and the weirdest thing is . . . I think I just decided I was going to be one. I’m a big believer in goals and the idea that if you say things out loud, you make them true. And so even though it sounds silly, I think that if you make the decision to be confident, it really makes it happen. Especially if you surround yourself with the trappings of confidence. That room that is just for you and your writing, because you are going to make it your living. The people you surround yourself with: confident, make-it-happen people, because you will always rise to the meet the expectations of the people around you, and you don’t want to be the one-eyed king of the blind.

Okay. So Maggie's Nebulous Thoughts About Confidence, paraphrased.
1. Don’t be bitter about other people getting on Oprah. Success in the book world is not like cheese dip, where one person will get the last dip and then it’s gone. It’s more like pinkeye. The more people who get it, the more there is for everyone else.
2. Don’t be a prick. Nobody likes pricks.
3. Make it happen. Surround yourself with cool people. Live your life as the person you’d like to be, and you’ll become that person.

Now . . . I think . . . I'm done. Anyone have any other thoughts?

Monday, June 15, 2009

SHIVER giveaway

Just FYI, Karin the Librarian is giving away an ARC of SHIVER.

The Gothic Girls Return!

Okay. So. Gothic Girls. Five days of absolute win (and hilarity, and some alcohol, as you can tell from our Twitter feed). For those of you just joining our broadcast, the Gothic Girls retreat was nine YA authors (Carrie Ryan, Jackie Dolamore, Heidi Kling, Linda Joy Singleton, Jackson Pearce, Dawn Metcalf, Brenna Yovanoff, & Tessa Gratton. And me) getting literarilly refreshed in Savannah, Georgia, a location chosen for its Spanish Moss (ooh pretty) and because I was dying to see if there was someplace more humid than Virginia (there is). I would assault you with photographs, only I brought my camera sans a memory card, which makes it . . . not work. So I got nuthin. Nada. The prettiful picture you saw yesterday was taken by a tourist holding Linda's camera.

Anyway, the retreat was hugely productive. Not so much in the area of word count (though I think Tessa managed to post fiction over at merry_fates), but in these other areas, we ruled:

1) Meeting the other Merry Sisters of Fate in person. The world did not explode when I met Tessa, who is my literary clone. There was not even a tiny rip in the time-space continuum. I'm not sure if I was pleased or disappointed.

2) Plot brainstorming ("Maggie," observes Carrie, "You are doing that book all wrong.")(she was right)

3) Staying awake 20 hours at a time. ("Maggie," observes Tessa, "It is 3 a.m. We should sleep.")(we did not)

4) Talking about the business. And other writers. (Yes, we talked about you.)(Were your ears burning?)

5) Walking on dead people. ("Savannah is a necropolis," announces the tour guide, "Because there are people buried under the streets.")(Tessa: "Cool.")

6) Laying out our 5 year goals ("All I want is a Printz," Heidi announces.)

7) Talking about what milestones we need to reach to feel that we've 'arrived.' ("All I want is a Printz," Heidi announces.)

8) Graveyard walking. At one point, graveyard squirrels and Brenna were having some kind of stare-down fest. (Brenna *hushed*: "The tree is full of squirrels.")

9) Getting honked at while soaked to the skin -- note to self, you can always get wetter. (Does a honk mean "where's your umbrella?" or "you're hot when your clothing is pasted to your skin with rain" or "need a ride?" or just "stay in the crosswalk"?)

10) Making of awesome videos:

The SHIVER rundown post

It has been four days since I got back from the Gothic Girls retreat in Savannah, and I have finally, I think, caught up on lost sleep. While I was gone, weird and wonderful things happened, like one million positive reviews of SHIVER before it's even been released. Also Scholastic has put the first chapter up to read as well as to listen to (that would be me reading).

So I was going to do a long run-down of our trip to Savannah and everything that happened, but first, I'm going to post all the SHIVER stuff. Because there's, um, a lot.

First of all, I got to see the cover of the UK edition of SHIVER (October) and Scholastic sent me their trailer for SHIVER (I did one too, but that one's not appearing until July).

So here they are:

UK Cover for SHIVER

Also, SHIVER is now sold in 17 foreign territories (plus the UK), which is so weird. There will be a Serbian SHIVER. A Catalan SHIVER. A Finnish SHIVER. A Brazilian SHIVER. Millions of SHIVERs . . . Basically what it comes down to is that Scholastic could call me up and say, "Great news! We've sold a Lunar edition of SHIVER -- now sentient beings living on all satellites of Earth will be able to read SHIVER!" and I would believe them.

And SHIVER has been picked as Borders' Original Voices pick (*Maggie struggles to think of non-redundant way to rephrase that sentence and gives up*) for August!

I've also realized that it is less than 7 weeks away from my release date. That's soon. In two weeks, I'm going to hold another giveaway, so stay tuned.

And . . . I think that's it on the SHIVER front. I'm pretty sure. Next, onto the Gothic Girls post, involving fun videos . . .

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fly By Maggie Sighting

Okay, I'm home! Well, technically I was back this morning from the awesome (and trust me, it was awesome) Gothic Girls retreat in Savannah, but due to crap weather in Atlanta and Fate's desire to play make believe with airplanes, I didn't get back to my house until 2 a.m. (it was supposed to be 4 p.m. originally, lest you think I just have really horrible taste in flight times).

Anyway, end result is that I am far too tired to be entertaining, so the full run down and further public appearances of my prose are just going to have to wait until tomorrow. Until then, I will leave you with a photo of us in one of Savannah's many gorgeous squares. Until later, peeps!

Left to right (standing): Maggie Stiefvater (LAMENT), Brenna Yovanoff (FE), Heidi Kling (SEA), Jackson Pearce (AS YOU WISH), Jackie Dolamore (MAGIC UNDER GLASS), Dawn Metcalf (SKIN & BONES), Carrie Ryan (FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH). (sitting) Tessa Gratton (AWESOMESAUCE*), Linda Joy Singleton (DEAD GIRL WALKING).

GothicGirls

*where awesomesauce = just signed with agent.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Congrats!!

I know I've exceeded the proper number of posts for today, but I just found out that the deal of one of my two crit partners has been made public and I have to shout out to her!

CONGRATS !!!!

Lexa Hillyer at Razorbill acquired the debut novel FE by Brenna Yovanoff at auction during BEA. The book tells the story of Malcolm Doyle, who seems like everyone else in his perfect little town, but he has a secret: he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby 16 years ago. Now the dark side wants him back and he must decide where he really belongs. Pub date is fall 2010. Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse Literary.


I've read that.

:)

Now, I promise no more posts until I'm in Savannah! You guys are all following our adventures on Twitter, right? twitter.com/gothicgirls?

Win Shivers! Tell me why I wore that shirt!

Just a pile of links here, for folks interested in winning SHIVERs. And also for those needing a kick in the pants to finish drafts.

Also, photos of me smiling like an idiot and signing BALLAD. That expression you see is a delicate combination of slap happiness and giddiness. Are they the same thing?

So. Contests. Lenore is giving away a signed copy of SHIVER, CATCHING FIRE (which I just read and it's so worth it), and LIAR (which I want very badly) here.

Laura is giving away two copies of SHIVER here.

And The Shady Glade is giving one away here.

No BALLAD giveaways yet -- people are holding onto those suckers. ;)

And finally, Anne Marie has a finish your draft contest going on here, absolutely nothing to do with SHIVER, but fun anyway.

And a pic of me with my publicist from Flux, Marissa, who kept my head from popping off during my signing. I'm not sure what I was thinkin' with that shirt there. It looks like one of those hidden picture things where if you stare at my boobs long enough, you'll see the sphinx, or something.

Maggie's Massive BEA Blow Out Post


This has been my longest trip away from home for at least a decade. And considering that I’m about to head off to Savannah in about 20 hours for the writer’s retreat, this will mean that I’ve spent more of this month away from home than at it.

I miss my teapot.

So through the beauty of the internet and uncensored blog posts, you get to hear all about it. Uncut, and with glowing technicolor photographs.

Monday - Leave the house with Lover and Thing 1 and 2 in tow. Drive six hours to Pittsburgh without anyone barfing, peeing in the car, running fellow SUVs off the road, or busting an artery. Through the miracle of tupperware, I manage to eat three meals consisting entirely of blondies and sweet tea.

So, I don’t miss home yet.

Tuesday - Three hour trip from Pittsburgh to Middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania where Thing 1 and Thing 2 assault my mother-in-law. Duffy, my mother-in-law’s little poodle (I keep wanting to type that as poddle, which is a far more interesting word anyway), provides constant entertainment in the form of playing fetch with toys larger than him, eating Thing 1’s toys when she doesn’t pick them up, and humping his favorite stuffed animal. I decide that Duffy would be very useful around our house, as a cautionary tale, if nothing else. He has given real teeth to my threat of “pick up your toys or something bad will happen to them.”

Wednesday - Day spent frolicking and milling in the middle of nowhere. As my blondie tupperware is now distressingly empty, I make chicken and rice soup. Turns out, chicken and rice soup made in Pennsylvania tastes the same as chicken and rice soup made in Virginia. So, I don’t miss home yet.

Thursday - With Lover, drive back to Pittsburgh to fly to New York. (I know, okay? I know). In New York, it is raining, because it is always raining when I come to New York. Attempt to check into Sheraton. Find out that we are in the incorrect Sheraton -- our Sheraton is across the road. Receptionist gives me a look like I am crazy, when they are really the crazy ones for naming one hotel Sheraton New York and the hotel 0.1 miles away Sheraton Manhattan. Note to self: take no lessons from Sheraton on branding.

We then head to Delmonico’s (inventor of Baked Alaska and Eggs Benedict)(I know, these things were invented? I used to think they had been merely handed down along with the Commandments. Two tablets for the Commandments and one extra with recipes for Baked Alaska, Eggs Benedict, and Cookie Dough on it) and had World’s Best Steak with friends who kept us from dying painful tourist deaths in NYC the first time we came. Friends order creamed spinach, which sounds like a vegetable police report but actually turns out to be amazing. Plus, it is only ten hours until BEA, which is what I’ve been waiting for my ENTIRE LIFE.

So, I still don’t miss home yet.

BEA, day one. Friday - The first official event of BEA requires me to meet my Scholastic publicist and several other Scholastic authors at 7:15. In the morning. After staying up late eating creamed spinach. It is physically painful to be awake that early, it’s raining, and I am filled with the awareness that I am going to a convention that will probably not have preservative-free food for me to eat. However, I am sharing a cab with Jane Yolen and so I feel no pain. I manage to avoid fangirling all over her and I’m hopeful that the experience has left her thinking that I’m Nearly Normal.

The first event of the day is the Children’s Book Author’s Breakfast (where breakfast = a basket of bagels and a bunch of plates looking forlorn.) I was told it would be an intimate event (where intimate = five hundred people). I am greeted by a ton of Scholastic types who are all exceptionally bouncy for eight o’clock in the morning. David Levithan, my editor, materializes next to me, also looking very chipper. I deeply suspect that they are all coffee drinkers, as that’s the only kind of caffeine being served at the breakfast. I feel a deep kinship with Jane, a fellow tea-drinker. We are marginalized people, tea-drinkers.

He introduces me to Maureen Johnson, who is the first person I’ve seen who looks like she might be feeling the early morning as much as I am. Sadly, I don’t think this is because she is a tea-drinker. I think she actually had the plague.

Still, I’m in no danger of falling asleep, because it turns out the guest speaker is Julie Andrews. In case you’re wondering, she still looks like Mary Poppins. Also, her voice is beautiful enough that she could read the phone book and I would listen eagerly. In fact, she may have. I only remember a deep sense of well-being and an appreciation for well-articulated words that end with ‘t’. After Julie Andrew, Peter Yarrow appears. As in Peter, Paul & Mary Peter Yarrow. Singing Puff the Magic Dragon. At 9 a.m. I lean over to Editor MixTape and ask him to confirm that I did actually wake up this morning. He confirms that yes, I am really awake.

It was a lot for a girl to take in before tea.

Post-breakfast, I am turned loose to frolic in BEA, which turns out to be difficult, because there are 10,000 other people attempting to frolic as well, and there are elbows and jaws and librarians everywhere. There are also many guys dressed like FBI agents sitting at tables in booths talking about discounts and buzz and other secret things, like where to find tea. I don’t think I have ever seen that many neck-ties under one roof before.

I frolic slowly through the booths to Flux’s booth, where I find my Flux publicist, Marissa, wearing an alien mask (this is a long story involving abduction). Behind her, there are giant posters of BALLAD and LAMENT’s covers and a stack of BALLAD galleys. Normally, these three things would be enough to send me into well-meaning hysterics, but since I’ve already braved Jane Yolen, Maureen Johnson, Julie Andrews, Peter, Paul, & Mary, and alien masks before 10 a.m., I am content to merely point and make goldfish faces in the direction of the posters.

Marissa: “There is a knee high stack of SHIVER galleys downstairs in the Scholastic booth. They’re in a big circle. It looks like a machine gun nest.”

Me: “I have to go.”

So I peel down to the Scholastic booth, finding more friendly Scholastic people and a giant light box of SHIVER’s cover in the Scholastic Audio section. But no galleys. Not one. I am feeling rather put upon until they tell me that the machine gun nest of galleys disappeared by 9:20 (while I was still listening to Julie Andrews read the phone book).

That’s a lot of galleys. I’m thinking of quoting Sally Fields.

But instead, I get to meet Susan Walker of the Midwest Booksellers Association and we chatted about my upcoming visit to the MBA conference this fall, and then I got to go have lunch with Liz, the Borders buyer. This was excellent for two reasons. Firstly, I got to pump her for information on Scott Westerfield’s new steampunk novel, and I also got to eat preservative-free food. Twofer! Oh, and we also talked about SHIVER. And mused about the $8 milkshakes on the menu. What makes a milkshake worth $8? We never found out, as they were out of them.

Then back to the hotel to shower to practice giving my talk for my meeting later. For the record, a hotel shower is the best place to practice speaking, for three big reasons.

1 - No audience, guaranteed.
2 - Unlimited hot water.
3 - Nice boomy, echoey sound to your voice. James Earl Jones must love speaking in the shower.

The meeting went off without a hitch -- I got to meet my Swedish publishers (!) and countless South Americans, all sporting beautiful accents. I also found out that SHIVER is now sold in 17 territories. That’s . . . so surreal.

Afterward, Lover and I head to the Strand and buy books, because of course books are so easy to carry and to transport back home, and then eat dinner at my favorite place in NYC, Spring Street Natural Restaurant. They have these spring rolls that are to die for, and homemade ketchup that I could (and did) eat by itself.

So, I’m still not missing home.

BEA, day two, Saturday - Yay, sleeping in! Yay tea! Then off to the Borders booth to film a video interview. If that sounds nerve-wracking, it was. They did my make-up, turning me into a girl for the occasion, and then we chatted about SHIVER. It was like any other conversation about SHIVER, except in this case all of my sentences were being filmed so that an audience of thousands could later view them and re-view them and pick them apart and wonder if I was having a bad hair day or if I always looked like that and . . .

But it went fine. I think. Only viewing and reviewing will tell.

And then to the most surreal bit of the entire weekend: the signings. First Marissa ushered me to the signing for Flux, which was in the general autographing area. (Where general autographing area = area that looks like airport check-in lines, times 30) I was sort of afraid no one would want any copies of BALLAD and I would be left making polite small talk with the line attendants and staring at Kathy Lee Gifford a few lines away. But instead, as soon as I got there, I could see down the empty aisle to the chain at the end, where there was already a line of people waiting to stampede down the aisle. For me. So I signed BALLADs until we ran out (90 or so of them), getting to meet a few bloggers that I knew and to hear from some people who’d read LAMENT and loved it (squee).

Then my SHIVER signing was right afterwards, but at the Scholastic booth. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect because it was at the booth instead of the autographing area, and plus I knew a bunch of people had already picked up ARCs yesterday. Well, so I get there, and ScholasticAlan (his name just looks better as a compound word) points to a line of about 100 people and says “That’s for you.” Then he riots them and they are all excited and clapping and I consider passing out. But I figure it would be bad form, so I instead walk somewhat unsteadily to my table and proceed to sign 300 SHIVER galleys in about 35 minutes, until they run out as well. I even sign ones for Megan Crewe and Cassandra Clare. There is gushing and emphatic noises and I smile so much my face falls off. Editor MixTape sits next to me for part of it (fielding random autograph requests), as does Andrea Brown, head poobah of my fantastic literary agency, ABLA.

And then it is done. I have met everyone who has ever read a book and signed galleys for half of them, and I have spoken to crowds and shaken hands with Important People and I Have Survived.

I stammer out a bunch of hopefully coherent thanks to Scholastic and Flux for making the entire thing plausible and possible and complete and take off with my husband to a brief dinner and then the hotel room, where I make it about three feet inside the door and fall asleep for two hours. I wake with a craving for cookies and so we prowl New York at 10 p.m. with my rabid desire for carbs overcoming my odious blisters and my husband’s yawning. We find brownies. They are substandard insofar as chocolate and carbs go and I am left dreaming of what wonders I could conjure in my kitchen, given enough cocoa and butter.

Now, I am missing home.
Sunday - Hotel swap! A day to frolic on our own means that we visit the Intrepid (which I mistakenly called the Enterprise at one point, which would be an enormously different kind of tour), then FAO Schwartz, where I'm tempted to buy a stuffed wolf to bring to my SHIVER signings just to be able to say I deducted a stuffed wolf on my taxes, then Central Park, and finally, back to our new hotel room at the Hudson. The Hudson prides itself on a “cruise ship feel” (where cruise ship feel = submarine feel), which involves dark gray paint on all walls, lights only over the door numbers, and hotel rooms with the size and charm of a college dorm room. Don’t get me wrong, I can rough it with the best, but I’m not used to doing it at that price a night.

I am still missing home.

Monday - Back to the airport, back to Pittsburgh, and then back to the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, where the kids still recognize us. No internet access. I am grimly aware that every day that I don’t take care of my e-mails, they will breed at the rate of 60-90 e-mails for every 24 hours.

Tuesday - A day spent critting contest pages, searching for non-preservative-laden food in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, and evading the water guns of Things 1 & 2. Still no internet. If I am quiet, I can hear the rapid, panting breaths of the thousands of unread e-mails now living in my inbox.

Definitely missing home.

Wednesday. A twelve hour drive home to the land of blondies, my teapot, hi-speed internet, my dogs, my cat, and my washing machine. I have about 20 hours to wash all my clothing, repack my stuff, save my Secret Novel onto my laptop, and take off for Savannah.

I’m so making blondies for that trip.

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