Monday, August 31, 2009

Meme: Create Your Debut Novel Cover

There are a few reasons why me doing this meme is wretched and depraved.

1) I am supposed to be writing. I am actually in the middle of a very *spoilery* scene in FOREVER.

2) I already have a debut cover. In fact, my debut had two of them. I don't really need to design another.

3) I took this way too seriously.

4) This breaks about every single rule that I have ever written about not procrastinating.

5) Okay, so it was fun.


Here it is:

CREATE YOUR DEBUT YA COVER


1 – Go to “Fake Name Generator” or click

http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/
The name that appears is your author name.


2 – Go to “Random Word Generator” or click

http://www.websitestyle.com/parser/randomword.shtml
The word listed under “Random Verb” is your title.


3 – Go to “FlickrCC” or click

http://flickrcc.bluemountains.net/index.php
Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.


4 – Use Photoshop,

Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.
5 – Post it to your site along with this text.



And here is mine. Yes, I was a child of the 80s and read a lot of Crichton, what's your point?





I'm far too proud of the little metro map off to the side there.

I didn't realize at first that I was supposed to type into the search engine the fake name of my fake novel at first when I randomly generated an image. So I was a bit appalled that I pulled 'break' and then the first photo with a person was a little girl in a pretty blue dress. I thought it was a sign from the heavens that I should be working.

Luckily, I instead pulled a photo of a guy threatening a daffy duck mug with a gun. Far more appropriate. Hey, did you notice that it's a one word title? So feasibly this novel could be in my future. ;p

Bah, my conscious is calling. Says something about writing a novel . . .

Why Giving a Five Star Review is Like Getting Engaged

I have decided that, for me, giving a five star review to a book is like getting engaged to your boyfriend.

I have been thinking a lot about what makes me like a book and what counts as a good book. And I know the two things are not always the same, since reading is highly subjective (I was reading bad reviews of my favorite books this morning to comfort myself that some people aren’t careful readers tastes are subjective). But what I don’t quite understand is how sometimes they aren’t the same thing, even for me.

And this is where the boyfriend metaphor comes in. Because you know how you meet some guys and they’re just perfect, they say the right things, do the right things, fit the boyfriend mold . . . and leave you absolutely cold? And likewise, you’re dating your boyfriend, and you’ve been dating him long enough to know that his left eye puckers unattractively when he wakes up in the morning, he can’t read maps, and his left leg is marginally longer than his right* and still, you love him more than the KenDoll with no obvious flaws.

*these faults are only examples. Not real faults of Maggie’s Lover. Actual faults may vary. Please check your own Lover over carefully to determine what actual faults may be. Also, contents are sold by weight, not volume.

I find it’s the same with books. Some novels I will kick back with and find that it is perfect. It will have everything it ought to, like little checked off boxes were ticked.

_character flaws
_tragic backstory
_character hobbies
_conflict that will force character to a) abandon said hobbies or b) face said flaws
_a dog

And yet, I won’t connect. It’ll never speak to me. It's like reading a textbook example of what a UF novel should be, or reading a phD thesis on how to write a YA novel.

And then other times, I’ll read a book like HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, which is the next book out from Audrey Niffenegger (I was lucky enough to snag an ARC), author of THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE (yet another flawed book that I love to death). And I’ll see an incredible number of flaws and things that drive me crazy, and I will say “Oh, man, she could’ve done this better” or “this character needs to die because I hate her so much” and still . . . I’ll love the book.

I swear it’s exactly like dating. Where you think that the guy's hair is just completely unlivable and you just can't. do. goatees., and then next thing you know, you're talking marriage and forever.

Because that is precisely what happened with HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, a gothic-feeling ghost story with twins and graveyards and OCD. I savored it over about two weeks, and all the while that I was saying “wow, I love her writing style” I was also saying “This third person omniscient head-hopping is driving me to drink and reality TV.” And while I was saying, “wow, she’s so good at efficient characterization,” I was also saying “I hate this twin. So badly. I wish she would get killed in a freak propeller accident in the London Tube.” And while I was saying “Oh, the writer geek in me is just loving all these opposite pairs” I was saying “oh please, fewer people, please! This cast of thousands is giving me an ulcer!” And while I was saying “Ohh HO HO!! I see what you did there!” I was also closing the book and saying “What the hell just happened?”


And then thinking I am so reading that again.

LEIAIt is precisely like deciding your faulty boyfriend is the one you’re going to stick with forever. Why am I willing to overlook the flaws? Why do I love him? Is it because the good parts are that much better than the sterile perfect guy? Do I actually love the flaws? What is wrong with me? Do I need medication?

This weekend, I actually thought that I was going to write a post about why I loved HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, despite the things that I blatantly didn’t like. But . . . I still don’t know. I mean, I know I will read it again and I know that the second it goes on sale I am going to be buying a hardcover to replace my ARC. But I don’t know why. It remains as mystical to me as why I said yes to my husband after saying no to so many others. And why it seemed to have worked, for that matter. The books that I am the most conflicted -- the ones that keep me thinking (and sometimes fuming) about them for days -- are the ones that I love the longest. Why!? WHY!?

So what do you guys think? Am I the only one who seems able to love a book despite a ton of evidence to the contrary?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More Pretend Casting for Shiver Movie

Okay, I have film on the brain. I just saw Nanny McPhee and I have a new favorite actress for Grace -- Eliza Bennett. You can see it, can't you?

And I know no one will agree with me, but I think Jason Flemyng would be a great Ulrik.

I'm not sure why I needed to make this post so urgently, at 9 p.m. at night after watching Nanny McPhee. I just did. And now I have.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Final Critique Partner Love Connection

I get asked all the time if I will read my readers' unfinished manuscripts (the answer is no, I can't, not legally) or if I have suggestions on how to find critique partners, and how I found mine. I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again, because I've worked up a solution, I think.

Back when I was first looking for critique partners, I went through a stunning number of inappropriate matches. At first I didn't realize what an inappropriate critique partner was -- I thought I just didn't like critique, or I thought I was too egotistical to recognize their suggestions as valid, or I thought I was just getting annoyed for stupid reasons, like when someone moved a comma instead of commenting on stilted dialog.

But then I signed a deal with my first editor, Yoda, and his revisions were exciting, challenging. Plus, they felt like they had come directly out of my head. For the first time, I didn't feel like the edits were trying to make my book into something else. I felt like they were trying to make my book into a better version of MY book. It was like me, except objective, working on my own book.

I knew there had to be other people like him. People that critiqued in a language that I spoke. And what makes one critique partner editing gold to one writer can make them an anathema to another -- it's as subjective as writing and reading. So I set out on a critique partner dating process. On my blog, I put out an open call: I would read and critique the first 50 pages of anyone's manuscript if they would do the same for mine. We would exchange critiques, and if for any reason we weren't meshing, we could walk away, no questions asked, no feelings hurt.

I went through about a dozen before I found my two critique partners, Brenna Yovanoff & Tessa Gratton. They're absolutely right for me: we read similar things, we all like a no-holds barred critique, we don't line-edit, only edit globally. We were also very much at the same place in our writing careers and learning curves. (PLEASE note that this does not mean agented or published -- though I was both at the time -- as both were unagented and uncontracted at the time of our meeting, a fact which has since changed. It means at the same level of writing and the same general awareness of the biz, whether or not agents have happened yet).

Here's a place for others to meet critique partners in the same way (this is the one for 2013: I do a new one each year). 

Hope this helps! I promise you, a good crit partner makes all the difference in the world. I have two editors and an agent, and still, my crit partners see absolutely everything before they do.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shiver Launch: The Photographic Journey

I have been intensely remiss in not posting about my launch party details, but I was waiting on photos from various cameras not belonging to me. Now I think I have enough to go by!

The day began as a Friday (which, coincidentally, is how it ended as well). I was scrambling around all morning to make sure I had everything I needed, and also to make sure that my author friend Tiffany Trent had a place to sleep when she arrived. Worst case scenario: she sleeps in Loki. Best case scenario: the washer and drier conspire to make clean sheets available.

By the time she arrived, I had finalized her non-Loki sleeping arrangements, and off we sped towards Williamsburg -- two and some hours away. Much heckling occurs. On the way, one of my crit partners calls with insanely good but secret news that I cannot reveal. So I'm pretty much flying high as a kite by the time we get to Williamsburg. Tiffany uses her parking karma to find us a spot right behind the store (those of you who have visited Colonial Williamsburg will know that this Does Not Happen). And then we walk around the side of the store and find this:



A giant Window of Shiver!!! Please note, from left to right: Box of Shivers, Tiffany Trent, Maggie Stiefvater, GIANT POSTER OF MY COVER.

After dropping off the box of books, we meet up with Girl Reporter, Kelly Fineman and her two daughters, procure caffeine, and begin to explore. It is not a trip to Williamsburg without hitting up the toy store there, so I drag everyone in to admire the selection. I find a wolf puppet and cannot resist reenacting a Shelby moment.


Wolf: I want to kill your girlfriend!!! Me: Oooooh, bring it! etc.

I was not the only one who had been having fun with the puppets, it seems. Because turning around, I found that some secret twin of mine had already been rearranging things:




I did not encourage that dinosaur to bite that horse's butt. It was already in process when I got there.

So onward we went to Wythe's Candy Store, the one that I based the candy shop scene in Shiver off. I went in to pick up the $25 gift basket that I was going to raffle at the launch. I lean against the counter, trying not to goggle at the caramel apples, and the following conversation ensues:

ME: I'm here to pick up a gift basket?
CANDY SHOP GIRL: Are you the book person?
ME: *thinking oh God have I become a character!?*
CANDY SHOP GIRL: I mean, author?
ME: *palpable relief* Yes.
CANDY SHOP GIRL: *heaves up giant gift basket that looks like it may exceed Maggie's debit card limit*
ME: *goggles*
CANDY SHOP GIRL: This is about $75 worth of candy.
ME: *continues goggling*
CANDY SHOP GIRL: We wanted to donate it to you, because of all the great publicity you've given the store. In the newspaper, and everything.
ME: *will never stop goggling*
TIFFANY: *thinks "say thank you, Maggie"*
ME: WOW. Thank you. Thank you! I goggle!
CANDY SHOP GIRL: I see that.

Anyway, Tiffany attempted to then make off with the basket, but Girl Reporter tackled her and we made it successfully to the store in time for the signing to start.



Left to right: Tiffany, Kelly daughter #1 (name omitted for extreme youth), Kelly, Me, GIANT GIFT BASKET, Daughter #2, Girl Reporter

And um, there were a lot of people there.



No seriously. A lot. See?

Anyway, so Beau, the absolutely fantastic coordinator of the event, announced me and a ton of prizes that he had brought, including a stuffed Sam (in wolf form, not boy, before you get excited) which he hid in the store for a scavenger hunt. He was incredibly generous and incredibly organized and pretty much the reason why it didn't devolve into a mad, candy-grabbing free for all.

So I did a reading.




Me reading something pretty like "I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves."




Me reading something suspenseful like: "I thought she was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen, a tiny, bloody angel in the snow, and they were going to destroy her."

Note how weird and square my chin goes when I'm reading. Huh! The things we learn about ourselves.

Anyway, there were two surprises there for me . . . first of all, a fan arrived wearing a Shiver shirt she'd made herself (plus she'd driven HOURS AND HOURS to see me). I died of the awesome. And then asked for a photo.






And then the following happened. Cathy, one of the booksellers, took me aside for the following conversation:

CATHY: Your sister needs to see you. In the, um . . .
BEAU: The um, dorm section. Over there. That stuff. Books. And stuff.
CATHY: Yes, that's exactly it.
ME: Right now? During the launch?
CATHY: Yep. Indeed. For sure.
ME: Okay . . .
*journey to the dorm section
CATHY: I thought you might need a break.
ME: *thinking that i must look like crap or possibly had drooled during the reading without noticing* I'm okay?
CATHY: Oops, looks like your sister isn't here.
ME: No #$@t, sherlock.
CATHY: And actually, she never was. We just wanted to get you out of the party area. Because we have a little surprise.
ME: *please not a pony*

It was not a pony. It was this:


Which is a giant cake of my book cover. That was preservative-free and delivered from an hour away, just for me. Beau had even asked Scholastic for permission to use the image. In the history of presents for Maggie, it goes in the top five. It was absolutely brilliant.

Then we raffled the wolf loot, the candy basket, and a free library visit before going onto the actual signing. Dozens and dozens and dozens . . . actually, I think Beau told me it was 60 or 70. The number didn't really matter, though, because by this point I was so amazingly cheerful with the world that things like integers hardly seemed important.


And then my husband showed up with my kids -- he'd driven the two hours with them to come and surprise me -- and I was pushed over the edge of Very Happy to Insanely Happy. Off we all went with my family (parents and siblings included), Beau and his retinue, Tiffany, and Girl Reporter.

It was pretty much bloody amazing. I can't really say it any better than that. In between the launch and Jackson's video of/for me, I'm feeling like, karmically, it is time for me to do something cool for someone now.

Just as soon as I write a few thousand words.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Paper Bag Maggies & Interviews & Maggie Gets Sniffy

So, my friend Jackson Pearce, whose intensely fun AS YOU WISH comes out this fall -- well, practically this second, because I think it comes out in a few days -- anyway, she offered to interview me for my blog tour, but she wanted me to record my answers with audio. I thought this was very mystical but as Jackson does positively hilarious vlogs (also because I would do anything for Jackson, including having my cop husband hold up a bright pink poster board sign in uniform for one of her vlogs), so I did it.

And so she just posted this. And it made me laugh and then it made me sniffy. Which is really, really, really hard to do. I can't decide if I'm bitter about the sniffy or impressed that she has cracked my impenetrable shell. Anyway, here is the video.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Winner of the SHIVER Audio Book Contest

Onto the audio book contest. First of all, I clicked on everybody's links and looked at everybody's Sam and Graces. And people. Please! Tom Sturridge is far too edgy to be Sam (although I found the photo of him in a bathtub absolutely hilarious given the circumstances). Sam is an innocent bambi! Anyway. First of all, my picks for Sam and Grace.

For Grace, I'd always thought Dakota Blue Richards, because she'll be the perfect age. But then one of the Very Clever Commentors suggested Rachel Hurd Wood and I thought OH! WAY BETTER GRACE! I like her because she's pretty in a very approachable, plausible, non-Hollywood sort of way, and looks like she could take werewolves in stride.

Dakota Blue Richards (yes, I KNOW she's too young here):

Rachel Hurd Wood:




For Sam, it was harder, because I don't think of him as Hollywood-handsome. In SHIVER, I think I describe him as having a nose a girl couldn't pull off and floppy black hair. And I think I mentioned his heavy lidded eyes. I'm very big on the heavy-lidded eyes for him. Oh, and fuzzy eyebrows. So at first, I was sort of thinking Lee Pace, who is way too old (sorry, Lee, I still think you're very pretty. Just not jailbait age):


then I thought Jim Sturgess from Across the Universe captured Sam's Beatlesesque image, but still too old (again, no offense, Jim, your version of "Girl" still makes me want to remove layers of clothing):

And then I realized that if I made the easy leap from actor to rock star, I was golden. Because I think Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys is terribly Sam-like to me. See?

Example 2:

Example 3:




You're feeling it, right? Alex, call my agent . . . oh yeah, and don't get any older, okay?



Anyway. The randomly generated winner of the audio book (only one, there were 48 comments and slightly fewer than that entries) was wandren from LJ -- shoot me an email!

BALLAD ARC & Editor Critique Winners!

Holy smokes I always underestimate how long it takes do tabulate contest entries when you're actually being honest about it. You know what I mean? You have to count the total number of entries from both blogs and then random number generate and then count through and make sure you've gotten the right number assigned to the right person and . . .

yeah, I know. You get it.

Anyway. I have winners, and I'm delighted to announce them!


winner of a finished copy of BALLAD, to be sent when I get them: mela-lyn on LJ

winner of another finished copy of BALLAD: persianfire on LJ

winner of a frame from the animated video: Sheri Mills Cook (who posted on the LJ blog as anon but left facebook link)

winner of the editor critique from Brian Farrey of Flux: cathschaffstump on LJ

and finally, winner of the Ballad ARC:

Jessica Kennedy! (who posted here)


Congrats folks and MAN thanks for the links love -- the BALLAD video got posted in over 250 places in five days. That's . . . insane. And I appreciate it!!

E-mail me, winners, and give me your mailing addresses!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Behind the Ballad Trailer: A Semi-Coherent V-log

I wanted to do a behind the scenes post about the Ballad trailer, but I realized that it is better served by visuals. So, for your viewing enjoyment, first, four frames from the trailer, showing the line drawings and how they can make people cry. And then, my first ever official v-log about the music. So if you wanted to know more about the music or just wanted to see where I write, here ya go. Let me know if you want to see more of the art or know more of the process behind that.

Also. Um. Shiver just hit #3 on the NYT Bestseller List. This is . . . um. Surreal. In case you guys were wondering if you ever get used to it? No. You don't. I've actually gotten emails from booksellers letting me know that they are sold out and waiting for new shipments, because all the distributors are sold out as well. Also, I've been informed that it's available in Canada from Scholastic UK and will be available in Australia from Scholastic Australia in November. And that my head has just popped off.



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Brothers Crow & a Painful Way to Die

So today Thing 1, Thing 2, and I were watching out the window when three crows landed in the yard. One of them had a little broken foot that he limped on as he strutted around the yard. Because I am a novelist and compulsive liar, the following conversation then took place:

Me: Look at the three crow brothers. They probably miss being princes.

Thing 1 (arching her eyebrows in disbelief): They were princes?

Me: Yes. See that one's hurt leg? They were fighting a witch and she damaged his leg. The oldest brother's. Then she turned them into crows.

Thing 1: Why did she do that?

Me: They were trying to win their castle back from her. They were very brave, but her magic was too strong.

Thing 1: So why are they here?

Me: Because there is a princess here and they're worried about the witch finding her and turning her into a crow too.

Thing 1 (disbelief melting into pink appreciation of the flattery): Am I the princess?

Me: Of course. Look how they're guarding the house.

Thing 1: How long will they be crows?

Me: Until the witch dies. Or until someone kills her.

Thing 1: How long until she dies?

Me: A long time. Maybe hundreds of years. Witches can live a very long time.

A few minutes later, I hear her retelling the story to Thing 2 as she points out the window at the crows. I liked the ending, myself:

Thing 1: They will probably have to kill the witch.

Thing 2: How?

Thing 1: Pecking.



Ah, a girl after my own heart.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shoot! I forgot: WIN a Free Editor Critique!

Ballad Teaser Page I can't believe I forgot one of the prizes in the Ballad ARC contest. One lucky winner will receive a 5-page critique from Brian Farrey, Head Poobah Editor at Flux, the publisher of LAMENT & BALLAD. (Keeping in mind that Flux is also one of the few imprints that still takes unagented submissions as well).

So to be eligible to win this editor critique, the rules are the same -- go to the contest, get the link for the Ballad trailer, and post it on your blog, facebook, twitter, etc. And then make sure you comment back at this post or the contest post with where you posted it, because every link is an entry.

And here is a teaser page from the REAL LIVE ARC. (click to make it bigger).

Now go!

Monday, August 17, 2009

And the Shiver Audio Contest! The Movie Star Edition

Okay, and now the second contest. The promised contest for the Shiver audio books!

I've been asked approximately a million times who I was choose to play Sam and Grace if Shiver was made into a movie, and that inspired me to finally post this contest. This one is a lot simpler than the BALLAD contest.

I will give away one audio book for every fifty entries (so fifty entries means that I will randomly pick one winner, seventy five means I will randomly pick two, one hundred ten means I pick three, etc.), and you enter simply by posting a comment here saying who you would cast as Sam and Grace in a hypothetical Shiver movie. With links, pretty please, so that I can see!

On Friday, 9:30 EST, I'll pick winners through some mysterious means, and then I'll post who I would cast. Sound good? Go!

ETA: My crit partner, Tessa, informs me I sound incoherent with my math. I meant that I would give out 1 audio if I got 1-50 responses. Another if I got anything over 50 (50-100), and another in the next bracket of 50 (100-150). Etc. Savvy?

FINALLY the BALLAD ARC Contest

BalladOkay, so today I am kicking off two contests (in two separate posts) that I've been talking about forever. First of all, the contest for the coveted Ballad advanced review copy, of which I have but one.

The nitty gritty on Ballad: it's a companion book/ sequel to Lament, but it stands utterly on its own if you haven't read Lament. It's the story of James, a kick-a$$ bagpiper who's offered an irresistible deal by a dangerous faerie muse. There is nookie, slight gore, and of course homicidal faerie action. Also angst. And a king of the dead. It's good times.

The rules for this contest are the same as the Shiver video contest. There will be four prizes to four people:

1) One advanced review copy of BALLAD, mailed immediately upon end of contest
2) One finished copy of BALLAD, mailed when I get my copies (September)
3) One OTHER finished copy of BALLAD, mailed when I get my copies
4) A frame of the winner's choice from the video

To be eligible for the lovely prizes, you must post the trailer on your blog or Facebook or twitter. Obviously I'm happier if you embed the video (code below) on your blog or FB rather than just link it, but obviously on Twitter you have to just link. Every place you link it to is an additional entry. Places I'll accept as valid entries: Facebook, livejournal blog, blogger blog, wordpress blog, Twitter, Myspace (if anyone still uses the devil's playground that is Myspace). You can post it anywhere else (please do!) but those are the only ones I'm counting.

Please note this contest is also being mirrored on my blogger blog.

So: the video. I animated a storyboard for it with several hundred panels, and then my sister and I headed into the studio to record the jig I'd written for it. The tune will be available for free download on my site closer to the book's release date (October 1st). (The Shiver music is already available there.)

Here's the video:



Here is the code that you would have to post into your blog in the html window:

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ooq9ioOgcmY&hl=en&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ooq9ioOgcmY&hl=en&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>


And here is the plain old link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ooq9ioOgcmY


Shoot! Forgot to say, contest closes this Friday at 9 p.m. EST.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Signing at Short Pump B/N @ 1 p.m. tomorrow

So. Um. I have a signing at Short Pump Barnes & Noble (that's Richmond) at 1 p.m.

It was quite terrible because I nearly forgot it -- it was a reschedule from an event I was supposed to have back in March when I came down with The Puke.

Anyway, so this is how my memory was jogged.

Friend on Facebook: So excited about meeting you tomorrow!

Me: Meet . . . me . . . tomorrow . . . ? *thinking: fans reaching new depths of stalkerness* *if they come to my house, they better wax my car*

Friend on Facebook: Yes! At your signing!

Me: My . . . signing? *thinking: one of us has wires crossed and I hope to holy hannah that it's her*

Friend on Facebook: Ruh-roh! (that is a direct quote) Wrong date? It's at Short Pump?

Me: *searching rapidly* *finding signing* *smacking forehead* I'm looking forward to meeting you tomorrow too!

So sorry for the short notice. I am profoundly grateful for said Facebook friend saving me from looking like an idiot. Now that I am renting my brain out, I'm considering asking booksellers to phone me the day before events to make sure I am actually still conscious of said event.

Friday Five: The UK, Fredericksburg and Beard Edition

For this Friday Five, I really have to mention the other bits of blog tour. I have this sneaking suspicion that I am forgetting some, but heh.

1. Blog tour (let me know if I missed you and I will add).

Blog Tour Wrap Up:

Interview about Maggie’s formative years

Interview about what I listen to while writing

Interview involving the one thing I will not eat

Guest post about why I think paranormal is so popular

Interview on what makes my novels different

and the contest to win SHIVER

Lori Devoti (blog), Interview, August 4, 2009

SGChris (blog), Interview, August 5, 2009

Shapeshifter Romance (blog), interview with Maggie Stiefvater in conjunction with blog tour, August 5, 2009


ETA: Guest Post on how I arrived at my take on the werewolf mythology

5 More Minutes with the fab Saundra Mitchell

2. Those of you in the Northern Virginia area and have/ are teens who want to write, I am heading a program for teens on creative writing at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg, VA, on August 19th, from 3:30-5:30. Please make sure you contact the library so they know how many to anticipate. Because I believe there will be Refreshments, and that's Important.

3. So I have finally booked by tickets for my UK publicity tour and mini-vacation. I say mini-vacation, because I'll be spending four days (October 14-18) doing Shiver related stuff in London and at the Cheltenham Book Festival. And then only two days doing Maggie things. I'm going to be visiting Whitby for weirdly metaphysical reasons. I had a dream, years ago, about visiting a church in England that was popular with tourists and had hundreds of stairs you had to climb to get there. It felt so intensely real that I felt compelled to ask my English artist critique partners if they'd heard of such a thing. And they had. Apparently, it's a very famous abbey in Whitby, and when I looked up photos, it was the same one as in my dream. Clearly the universe is trying to tell me something, so I'm going. I'll let you know if I explode into multiple Maggie-bits when I see it or something.

4. Shiver has been picked as #3 on the Fall IndieNext list. I'm blown away -- out of a list of sixty, I'm in the top ten!? *dies* I believe someone out there is doing some kind of literary rain dance for my novel. I appreciate it!

5. My current musical obsession. Actually, I had two other musical obsessions, including My Morning Jacket's "Librarian" and Feist's "Honey Honey" but the first had no pretty video and the second had embedding disabled (bad for publicity, Feist, just sayin'.) So Band of Horses' "No One's Gonna Love You" it is. I have been listening to it on repeat for the past three days, though, so it counts as an obsession. The beards also obsess me. Birds could live in them. Villages could be built in them.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In Which Shiver Moves Up and Thing 2 Moves Out

The following just happened in the Stiefvater household.

My friend Carrie: Do you know if you're still on the [NYT] list?
Thing 2, aged 4: I don't like this house.
Me: I don't know. It's not really time yet.
Carrie: Well sometimes it takes awhile to get through the house.
Thing 2: I would like to live at Nonnie's.
Me: Thing 2, you can't live at Nonnie's. We can visit her tomorrow.
Carrie: Tell me when you find out.
Me: I will.
Thing 2 (putting on his boots): I'm going to walk to Nonnie's.
Me: Thing 2, it's five miles. You will get smushed on the road.
Carrie: I can't wait!
Thing 2: I will walk on the grass.

*phone call*

Thing 2: I'm going to live with Nonnie forever.
Me: I thought you wanted a bath.
Thing 2: Nonnie has a bathtub.
Phone: Hi. Maggie? This is David.
David: *is Maggie's editor with superpowers*
Me (to self): OMG. David phone call = Catastrophes. Miracles. Moving up the list. Bunnies transmogrified into authors for the first time in a lab in South East Asia.
David: We're not going to call you every week, now, but . . .
Thing 2: I'm leaving now.
Me: !!!
David: How does number five sound?
Thing 1, aged 5: I'm going to miss Thing 2 when he's living at Nonnie's.
Me: *strangled noise* *possibly coherent statement?*
Thing 2: *opens door*
Me: *throws herself in front of door.*
Chorus of Publicists: This is awesome! This is amazing! You moved FOUR SPOTS!
Publicist 1: In the right direction.
Me: *possibly another coherent statement*
Thing 2: I need to go to Nonnie's RIGHT NOW! She's my NEW family! *breaks loose and runs into yard*
David: *has possibly been speaking for a minute without Maggie focusing on words* . . . we are so happy. Congratulations. #5 on the NYT List.
Chorus of Publicists: Congrats!!
Thing 1: Mama, Thing 2's escaped. I'm going to draw a picture of our family without him.
Me: Thank you so, so much.
Thing 2: *heading towards street*
Thing 1: You don't have to say thank you, Mama. I like to draw.


In other news, I owe people posts. I need to do a round up of the second half of the blog tour. And I need to do an audio book post. And I need to do a rundown of the launch. These things will happen. I swear they will.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Giant Butt-Kicking How to Write a Novel Post

I have been answering a lot of questions lately -- interview questions, article questions, questions in fanmail, questions from writers -- and there’s one sort of subset of questions that I get all the time, so I’m going to answer them here. It’s these:

“How do I start writing my book? How do I write my novel? How do I finish my novel? Do you have a daily routine? How much work do you do before you start writing your novel? Should I get a degree in English? Do you edit while you write? How do you get around writer’s block? How do you get past the “this feels silly” thoughts?”

All of these questions are really one question: “How do I write a book?”

And the answer, which I will explain in depth, is a simple two-parter:

1 - You decide to.

2- Butt in Chair.

Now, since I can hear the disgruntled sighs from here, let me ‘splain. First of all, my process will never be your process, because I am me and you are you. The most logical and best writing process is the one which most perfectly meshes with your personality. So for me, in all things, I want to know where I’m going but not too much about what I’m going to find on the way there. You’ll be different. Somehow. I promise.

Anyway, I can tell you, however, that those two principles stay the same.

I’m sure you guys are tired by now of hearing me harp on the fact that the spoken and written work makes your intention real. So if you say that you’re a confident person, you’re halfway there. If you say you’re going to write a novel, it makes it real.

Not this: “I have a novel inside me.”

Not this: “I will write a novel when I have more time.”

Not this: “I will write the novel when I figure out how to start.”

No. This is what you say: “‘I’m writing the novel. Starting now. Not only that, but I’m finishing it.”

And then you open up two things on your computer. First of all, the blank word document, where you type in a working title (ODDS BODKINS: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A HOMICIDAL FAERIE) and the date. And then you open up your calendar. And you find out which days you can carve out regular hours of time to write. It can be an hour. A half hour. A whole day. Whatever you can manage, as long as it’s regular and your brain can look forward to it. I wrote LAMENT while working full time -- every Wednesday night I wrote from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. until the novel was done. When I got closer to the end, I added Sundays from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. That’s not a lot of time.

I didn’t check my e-mails during that time. I didn’t browse the web. I wrote my novel. I thought about it all week long, and then I wrote because that was the only time I had. Those four hours a week.

Time is not what you need. Intention is what you need. I read somewhere that John Grisham wrote his first novel on legal pads between court cases (one wonders if his clients suffered when he got into plot snarls).

Which brings us to principle two. Butt in chair. You can tell people you’re working on your novel. You can tell us you have it all out in your head. You can tell us that you know everything about all of the characters.

Great. Fantastic. I’m happy for you.

Talk’s cheap, unless it’s dialog and it’s adding to your word count. If you want to write a novel, your butt has to sit in that chair. Do not angst about whether it sucks. Do not edit as you go along. Just do it.

Now don’t get me wrong, most people do need some form of organization. There are a very tiny number of people in the world who are true pantsers -- that can write by the seat of their pants, no outline, no synopsis, no plan. In my experience, there are far more people who think that they are pantsers. In reality, even the most spontaneous of people require some kind of structure (and I consider myself very spontaneous). This is where your personality comes in. How do you structure the rest of your life? As I mentioned before, I like to have ultimate goals but not a lot of structure on how to get there. So for me, it makes sense to have the idea, figure out the ending, and then write a two page synopsis that is very loosey goosey.

For others, they write detailed outlines that are ten or thirty pages long. Some make lists of scenes. Others do post it notes. Anything that gets you reasonably certain that you can travel happily through the plot on your way towards a logical ending. This is also when I put together my playlist, because I’m working out what sort of moods and themes I’m tackling during the novel. I spend a lot of time staring off into space. I also only spend a few days doing this. This process has to be finite, because while it’s important, it’s also not writing. It’s planning. It will never make a novel appear. Because while it looks like work, it is not really Butt in Chair.

I plan my plot. My characters, I keep in my head. Which is to say I carry a pretty dim view of character synopses and summaries and questionnaires. The only prep work I’ll do for my characters is to sometimes have them dictate a page-long history of their life to this point, in their voice, to help me figure out what they sound like.

The rest, to me, is just the procrastination before you really start writing. It’s not even really planning, because characters you figure out through their actions -- through writing. The character sketches and questionnaires and doing Facebook quizzes in their personality? It’s because you’re afraid the novel will suck. So you do all these little tricks and summaries and detailed descriptions of your characters’ hair colors and birthdates and drawings of the characters riding bicycles, and all of that is fine, I suppose, but you and I both know that it’ll never get the novel written. Trust me. I’ve been there. Learn from my years of bad not-writing behavior.

What gets a novel written is writing it. And feeling silly and feeling like it sucks and still keeping on writing it. Will it be rocky and uneven? Well, duh. That’s what revision is for. But you can’t revise until you have a finished draft. And you can’t have a finished draft until you write. BUTT IN CHAIR.

Be honest with yourself. I think most people know when they are making excuses and procrastinating instead of really doing proper groundwork.

So that was my grand novel-writing butt-kicking post.

I highly suggest you shut down the internet now and get started.


;)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Is YA just for Teens?

Okay. So normally I don't like to get drawn into online kerfuffles, especially when they're started by trolls, but this one was hit a nerve. It actually doesn't have anything to do with me, but everything to do with one of my favorite book bloggers, Kristi at The Story Siren. She's one of many online book reviewers who specializes in YA, and she's one of the classier ones. Snazzy blog, great book choices, thoughtful reviews. In the know. I appreciate that and read her blog frequently. (and not just because she likes my books).

But this week she posted her usual "in my Mailbox" where she talks about the ARCs that have come in during the week and what she's bought for reading. And got a blast of negative anonymous comments accusing her of hogging all the books, requesting too many review copies, and being "too old" for YA. The nasty comments (which she may or may not have deleted by the time you read this) continue on the next post, again claiming that she's taking review copies from publishers that would otherwise go to legitimately teenaged bloggers and saying again and again that she's too old. There was a lot of swearing, and not even in an interesting way.

Basically, it was the height of tacky. And the whole point behind it was idiotic anyway; Kristi gets sent books because she posts decent reviews on a regular basis and runs a great-looking blog. Teenaged bloggers often don't get books because they don't review often enough or don't have enough readers. Blogging well is practically a part time job and frankly, most people regardless of age aren't cut out to be great blog reviewers.

Okay.

But that's not what offended me, because Kristi knows all that and so does most anybody who is engaging all of their brain neurons.

The real thing that grated my cheese was this idea that a blogger ought to step down from YA lit because she's no longer a teen. Um, no. Actually, allow me to clarify:

HELL NO.

The average YA author is older than I am and all of us are older than our intended teen readership. Does that mean we ought to be writing adult fiction instead? That would be a lot of unhappy Twihards if Stephanie Meyer decided to write Twilight as an adult series. The thing about YA is that the kernel of it, the point of it, the entire theme of the genre is coming of age. Coming of age is something that we can understand at any age. It's being on the cusp of something new. It's making that leap, deciding what to do with yourself. It's doing anything for the first time. That's the point of YA fiction, and it's something that anybody can enjoy. Look at the success of TWILIGHT. Harry Potter. (and yikes, SHIVER).

To say that adults can't read YA because they aren't the same age as the protagonists is as ludicrous as saying that teens can't read adult books because they aren't yet adults. It's ultimately condescending, either way. Adult saying to teen: "you won't enjoy this movie/ book because as a teen, you haven't experienced loss/ cheating/ tax evasion/ other adult theme." Teen saying to adult: "you won't enjoy this teen movie/ book because it's been too long since you were cool." No. You cannot say that.

I'm sorry, but every single bone in my body protests against that. It's just as bad as someone telling me something is a "guy book" versus a "girl book." That sound you hear? The sound of my skin prickling.

At 27, I still read mostly YA -- is that wrong of me? I identify more with the character issues in a lot of YA -- the growing up, the jumping off cliffs, the newness -- than I do a lot of adult fiction, which deals with fatigue, mid-life crisis, marriage issues. Am I the only twenty something who feels this way? Nope. There's also thirty somethings, forty something, fifty somethings who prefer the genre . . . age is irrelevant when coming to reading. There's no "this is right for this age." "this is wrong for this age."

There's this: "This book is right for me." "This book isn't my thing."

That's the only truth there is in reading. As a reader and as a writer, never forget that YA is a marketing distinction. It's books placed in a certain section of the bookstore because they will probably appeal to teens. It doesn't mean they won't appeal to anybody else. And it doesn't mean that that's the only place in the store they could go. We write the best books we can about the characters we care about, no matter how old they happen to be. And I don't care who's reading my books. I don't care if it's grandmas with fake teeth or teens with ipods or toddlers drooling sippy cups on the pretty blue ink. I just care that they're being read.

So whoever it is that was posting anonymously on The Story Siren, you probably won't ever read this. But if you do, I hope you take away this. You can't tell people what to love. YA is for teens and anyone who's ever been one. I think that just about covers it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

An Open Letter to the Universe

Shiver window at Toad Hall BookstoreDear Universe,

I know we've had some rough moments in the past, but today you really came through for me. Putting my interests and good health before absolutely everyone else's in the world, the universe helpfully shut down livejournal, twitter, and most of facebook. You realized that I would never clean my house for my friend Tiffany Trent's arrival tomorrow or get my novel summaries done for my agent or get my stuff together for my launch down in Williamsburg tomorrow unless nearly every social networking site in the world was handcuffed.

So you made it happen.

For everyone else who didn't have deadlines or housecleaning to do, I'm sorry about destroying your source of entertainment and social interaction. It was all me. I apologize for that.

But universe, I gotta say you know how to take care of a girl. Thanks for that. A bit drastic, but sometimes, drastic is what I need.

Now, do you think you could help me out with coming up with titles? Because I'm making lists and lists and they're all so incredibly bad that the only sort of bad ones are starting to look good in comparison. With my titling talent, the next Maggie Stiefvater novel will be named SAVAGING BRADLEY or ODDS BODKINS: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A HOMICIDAL FAERIE or something equally appalling.

Please?

Sincerely, Maggie

Shiver window at Toad Hall Bookstore

Oooh, and thanks to Toad Hall Bookstore for sending me the photos of their SHIVER window!!!






















.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

LOKI IS GETTING AIR CONDITIONING

I . . . um . . . it's hard to type, because my right hand won't stop shaking since I heard the news from my editor. But, um . . . SHIVER debuted at #9 at the NYT Bestseller List. Um. So I guess that means Loki is getting air-conditioning. And he's getting painted. Red, from what I heard from readers in the last post (but let me know if you've changed your mind).

Um.

I am having a very hard time thinking.

I took a picture of myself right after I hung up the phone with David at Scholastic (with my wonderful publicist friends at Scholastic screaming behind him). You can see just how coherent I look.

Um.

This is making my hand shake again.

My husband is taking me out for chimichangas. I think this will help.

Oh my gosh guys. Just thanks for putting me there. It'll be in the 16th's edition of the NYT. OH MAN.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Author Chat with Maggie tonight!

The place: http://www.chatzy.com/811642710591

The time: 9 p.m. EST

The topic: anything and everything goes.

See ya there.

KINDLE

OH BUGGER ALL.

After all that, and I forgot to mention --

SHIVER is now available on Kindle!


NOW I'm done.

I Swear I Will Stop Posting about SHIVER soon

Me in Fountain BookstoreI swear my next post will not be a SHIVER one. I swear it. But I need to post the millions of links that I have for the blog tour already, because if I wait until Friday, the list will go on forEVER. Also, on my release day, we took my family out to my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world and then went searching in Richmond for evidence of SHIVERs in the wild. And found them -- both at Barnes & Noble and at Fountain Bookstore, the indie that is holding my launch party for BALLAD in October. Good stuff!

My sister was kind enough to snap photos of me observing SHIVERs in their natural habitat.

Also, I found out two things today.

1) Flavonoids are in tea. And they are good for you, apparently, even though they rhyme with "android."
2) SHIVER got a starred review in Publisher's Weekly. These are also good for you.

And here is the list of places involved in my blog tour this week. I've mentioned if they're doing giveaways, so you can try to score a copy of SHIVER or some art or something else fun. There is also >gasp< a giveaway for a BALLAD ARC in there too.


http://angieville.blogspot.com/2009/08/shiver-blog-tour-interview-with-maggie.html
Interview & giveaway. on what it was like seeing the hardcover for the first time.

http://sixverstein.livejournal.com/71129.html

interview and giveaway for a piece of SHIVER art by moi.

http://yankeeromancereviewers.blogspot.com/2009/08/shiver-by-maggie-stiefvater-interview.html
interview. on lessons to be learned from SHIVER, or not. win a signed finished copy of SHIVER

Me in Barnes & Noblehttp://fabulousfrock.livejournal.com/331666.html
writerly interview where I answer what the strangest clothing is that I’ve ever worn.

http://www.eclecticbooklover.com/2009/08/interview-maggie-stiefvater-author-of.html
interview where you find out one thing that I WILL NOT EAT

http://patesden.livejournal.com/56311.html
interview. on branding yourself as a writer.

http://www.thestorysiren.com/2009/07/contest-of-awesomeness.html
Contest of awesomeness- win signed SHIVER and a signed BALLAD

http://seaheidi.livejournal.com/151889.html
rather funny interview asking which about why wolves. instead of bears, for instance. and what’s up with the one word titles?

http://lindajsingleton.livejournal.com/131503.html
interview on which came first, writing, music, or art.

http://ibteens.blogspot.com/2009/06/maggie-interview.html

interview which asks how I survived being a teen and what some of the ideas were that didn’t make it to the page.

http://magicalwords.net/specialgueststars/special-guest-friday-maggie-stiefvater/
blog post on how Scholastic and SHIVER made a clean, non-swearing girl out of me.

http://universitychic.com/article/career-qa-ya-author-maggie-stiefvater
interview and giveaway on writing as a career and how to get there.

http://alanajoli.livejournal.com/109946.html

guest blog post on how there are one thousand ways to write the same plot.

http://writingraw.com/
Interview about the writing process

http://cleanwriter.livejournal.com/34474.html
Interview about how I got to be the weird way i am.

http://lushbudgetproduction.blogspot.com/2009/07/mini-interview-with-sam-and-grace-from.html
Interview with Sam and Grace

Let me know if I've left anyone off this list and I'll catch you on the Friday round up!


Saturday, August 1, 2009

SHIVER Playlist, Red Coffee Pots, and Audio Books!

coffee pot First of all, IT'S SHIVER DAY!!!!!

Second of all, look what arrived with perfect timing!? Editor Mixtape at Scholastic told me to keep my eyes open for a package in the mail; something to celebrate my release day and getting LINGER off to production. I had to open it in the post office parking lot and then proceeded to laugh like a crazy person.

In case you can't tell what it is, it's a red coffee pot.

It's not even used.

In order to understand the significance of the red coffee pot, I'm afraid you will have to read SHIVER and then read LINGER. And then you will come back to this post and laugh at David's cleverness.

Until then, I'm afraid you will just have to take my word on it that it is very, very amusing to me.

Okay. So, secondly! I promised I would post the playlist for SHIVER today, and indeed I will. I made one on playlist.com, but unfortunately they were missing a few tracks. So I'm going to give it to you straight, then embed the one that playlist had, which you can actually listen to. Savvy? Yes.

So, here it is:
1. "The Ocean" - The Bravery (the general thematic song)
2. "Sundrenched World" - Joshua Radin
3. "Run" - Snow Patrol
4. "Cemeteries of London" - Coldplay (hunt scene)
5. "Make This Go On Forever" - Snow Patrol
6. "Matroshka" - Dredg
7. "Underwater" - Vertical Horizon
8. "Star Mile" - Joshua Radin (making quiche)
9. "Set the Fire to the Third Bar" - Snow Patrol
10. "Jeremiah" - Starsailor
11. "Bug Eyes" - Dredg
12. "Everything'll Be Alright" - Joshua Radin (bookstore scene)
13. "Hide and Seek" - Imogen Heap (car scene near end)
14. "A Clock is Ticking" - Snow Patrol (Jack scene near end)
15. "Peter Returns" - James Newton Howard (final scene)
16. "Wake Up, Open the Door, & Escape to the Sea" - Blaqk Audio (ultimate nookie scene)

I'm very sad that I can't find an online version of "Peter Returns" because DAMM it's perfect.

Basically, I listened to Snow Patrol, Joshua Radin, and Imogen Heap nonstop. Also, Blaqk Audio, although I doubt this will evoke a very Shiver emotion in anyone else. I'm not sure why it worked for me -- I felt a little silly including that one that I used to write the nookie scene, but in the interests of full disclosure . . .

Actually, it's funny to see how varied the playlist for LINGER is in comparison, because of the influence of iTunes and how I could buy individual tracks. Huh. There's an anthropology paper in there somewhere, folks. A boring one, but one nonetheless.

Anyway, the playlist:


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones


And finally, I have several audio books of SHIVER that I can giveaway in various contests or drawings or something. Do I have reader interest in such things?
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