Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ten Things on a Tuesday: The Pants-Less Edition

1. My publicist overnighted me preservative free cookies from across the country. I'm serious. If this is what bestsellerdom looks like . . . I'LL TAKE IT.

2. In between eating cookies, I am eating yogurt with a coffee stirrer in my hotel room, because I am too lazy to go downstairs in search of a spoon. Also, that would require putting pants on and that is not on the agenda at the moment. Working on FOREVER is.

3. Last night's book signing was so amazing. One of the readers sang a song she'd written about Sam and Grace. Also, the store had folded a million paper cranes and hung them everywhere. I was duly impressed.

4. I've discovered bad things about myself on tour. Like, I don't put pants on if I'm not going to leave my room. Did I mention this already? Also, I will do unreal things for preservative-free cookies while at home away from home, which is probably why my publicist decided to curb my more unreasonable urges with overnighted cookies. I am calmer now.

5. I'm in L.A. and it's very L.A. out there. For instance, there is an Oscar Meyer WienerMobile parked outside my hotel. No, it's not my ride.


6. Tonight, I have an event at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, CA at 6 p.m. And yes, I will sign as many books as you bring -- SO LONG as you buy at least one from the hosting store. And tomorrow -- TEXAS! I will find preservative free Tex Mex. I will. It just isn't an option.

7. I think I left my PJ pants in San Francisco.

8. Coffee stirrers are not good eating implements.

9. While flying, I am reading THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON MUSIC and I like it, because it makes me feel clever.

10. If you come see me at any of my tour events today through Thursday, I will tell you this: I will put pants on for them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

California! Part One: San Francisco

I have actually tried to find time to compose this post about five million times in the last five days, and have failed, miserably. First of all, if you are in the L. A. area and want to see me, I have finally landed and have two L.A. stops: Glendale tonight, and Montrose tomorrow.

Secondly, I wanted to post photos of my fantastic events at Kepler's, Books Inc, and the El Cerrito Barnes and Noble and realized that I spent all my time talking instead of taking photos. So I have photos . . . but they are of California, not book events.

But that's not gonna stop me from posting some. I went to Los Osos and Montana de Oro State Park before my tour began to poke around and look at cliffs as more research for Secret Novel. And it was pretty revoltingly gorgeous. Also revoltingly cold. Check this out.

Danger, Maggie! Stay Back!

Cliffs!

Cliffs at Montana De Oro State Park

Me!

Maggie on the water


After hanging in Los Osos for a day and going to the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market (ahhhh), my dad, sister, and I drove up to San Francisco. It was a four hour drive of wonder and beauty, however, I am forever scarred by seeing a sheep pasture containing two large, white dogs having their way with each other and then with the sheep. Is this a . . . California thing? I don't know. I don't want to know. Anyway, we stopped in San Jose to get Haagen-Dasz. They did not have the Belgian Chocolate Chocolate flavor, which was a crushing blow for morale. But I managed to rally in enough time to sign some stock at the Borders there anyway.

Then, San Francisco. It's quite nice how the whole outside of California is air-conditioned. I could live with that. Here's the Bay Bridge. FasTrack drivers paid $5 in tolls, I think. Regular passenger cars handed over their first born child.

Bay Bridge, San Francisco

Alcatraz! They say it's haunted. I'm going to do a book signing there some day and find out.

Alcatrez, San Francisco

Readers were . . . pretty darn awesome. They came from a million miles away, and they asked great questions, and they laughed at my jokes. They also brought me things like bracelets and bookmarks and cookies and, insanely, giant cakes (like the girls at Eve's Fan Garden). I was sad to have to tell people that I was allergic to preservatives so I could pretty much only eat the bracelets. But it's also the sort of thing that makes you feel so grateful for people's niceness that "thank you" seems terribly inadequate, too. I believe I need a word for "whoa I lack words."

Check out le cake.


Also, food: I ate at Il Fornaio, which I think means: "The Cheese Eaters", and at Samovar, which I think means "Try the Scones" and both were amazing. I also had a bagel with homemade cream cheese with Heidi Kling, one of my author friends (hi, Heidi!). (Heidi also cleverly managed to find me more cliffs to look at while using creative navigation techniques best left to the experts). I had a perhaps unfair expectation of San Francisco food at this point, so when I got a few tacos from a place near my hotel and realized I could not tell what animal the meat had originally been, I was slightly more shocked than I should have been.

I think I also learned a lot about San Francisco. Basically, that everyone who lives there loves it. That every night, a monstrous fog rolls in and drops the temperature like a mass haunting, and everyone is cool with this. That they have high tolls on their pretty bridges. They have good food and steep hills that would not be good for driving stick shifts on. There is an insane number of VW buses and Porsches per capita. They are tolerant, friendly, drive better than East Coasters, and do not drink sweet tea. It was a good place. I liked it. A lot.

And now I am in L.A. There are cars and palm trees everywhere and my taxi driver, upon hearing that I came from a town of 1,200 people, intimated that we must date our siblings. I am looking at you, L. A., with one eyebrow raised. Don't make me raise the other one.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This is a Video That I Never, Ever Thought I'd Post

I recorded this video on a whim the day I left on my tour -- right between packing and panicking. I never thought I'd have to post it . . . but . . .




Um, so last night I had a fantastic LINGER release party (a totally different post to come on that) that lasted until 9 p.m. and then I headed to a hotel because I was flying out the next morning on a 7 a.m. flight for California. I knew that the NYT Bestseller list info would come in while I was in transit, and I was hoping that LINGER might debut on it, and I made sure editor MixTape had my cell number. Then my cell died. So from Chicago, I e-mailed him with my dad's cell number (my dad and sister are with me for the first two days).

Then we got delayed and all kinds of good stuff and eventually found ourselves on a 24-person prop plane heading to San Luis Obispo. We are flying over mountains. It is quiet in the small cabin.

The phone rings.

I think what dumb idiot left their phone on the plane when they told us to turn it off? 

It was my dad's phone.

It was Editor MixTape.

He says, "Are you ready to make a lot of noise?"

Me, looking at the stewardess who is looking at me on the phone, conspicuous as the single rule breaker among her charges: "Um . . . "

David: "Linger debuted at number one on the NYT Bestseller List."

The Stewardess then got on the intercom and, all the while staring at me, announced that all electronic devices needed to be powered down or we'd all die. (I paraphrase).

I was trying not to pass out as I realized that this, finally, was what hyperventilating looked like, while the people in front of me asked me what my book was because they could hear the conversation because after all, it was only a 24 person plane and everyone could hear everything. And my hands are shaking (they still are kind of weird because I had four glasses of sweetened tea upon landing) and my dad is going "you did it!!" and my sister is grinning like a lunatic and I'm sure I am too, or possibly I'm just looking gray from the passing out, and I honestly do not remember anything I said to Editor Mixtape or SuperPublicist.

I can't believe it. I just can't.

Thank you, guys. THANK YOU.

And . . . here's the sheet music I promised in the video.

Sheet Music, the Golden Woods


I CAN'T BELIEVE IT.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two Things on a Tuesday

1. Ohmigosh tour begins today. That means I should be packing, but instead, I'm blogging. Tonight I'll be in Williamsburg, VA, giving away the Shiver Sharpie Guitar. You know what, packing is probably secondary. First, I should probably get dressed.

2. Now that LINGER is out, out, out, out, officially out in the wild, I am getting many, many, many emails asking me to please write another book. I probably don't have to tell people who read my blog this but yes, the Shiver trilogy is in fact, a trilogy, which means there is a third book, as trilogies are wont to have. It's called FOREVER, I'm editing it at the moment, and you can't have it until summer of next year.

That is all. I am going to go panic, tour, and get dressed, maybe not in that order.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview with Shiver/ Linger Cover Designer

So ever since I got my cover for SHIVER, I've been agitating to interview Christopher Stengel, the man behind the mask. My cover designer. Such a thing proved more difficult than I expected, as cover designers apparently have packs of ninjas protecting their offices. It seemed I would never have answers to my probing questions: why silhouettes? Why blue? Can I have a pony on the third book?

Anyway, a year later, the interview finally came to fruition. I have the first two questions here and then Scholastic's On Our Minds has the rest of the interview. Hope you enjoy!

1. So, Chris. You are an artistic demigod. I could ask you deep and probing questions about how you came to be a cover designer, but I'm pretty self-involved and all I really what I want to know about is how the Shiver and Linger covers came about. Talk to me about the process. How far in advance did start the Shiver cover process? Did you read the novel or just a description? For Linger?


At first, I began reading the manuscript and got a good feel for the characters and plot.  Before I finished, I wanted to get the creative ball rolling, so I had a few conversations with the editor.  By the time manuscripts come to me, the editorial staff has had a lot more time to spend with the content, so I'm always very interested to hear their thoughts.  Sometimes, a person takes something away from a story that you may have either missed or interpreted differently.

The editorial conversations did not end up leading to the approach for this particular jacket.  Obviously, the single word in the title evokes a cold feeling, and there was no question that an icy cold had to make its way into the design.  A number of special effects were discussed, but given the age range for this book, it felt appropriate to find something more interesting, tasteful, and different.  It took a while, but one lonely autumn evening, at a crappy roadside motel in Stockbridge, Mass, I found myself stepping out for a burger in town.  I opened the door out to the parking lot, and this is what I found...



HeartLeaf_to accompany designer Chris Stengel's blog post


... The gears in my head started to speed up and I immediately snapped a photo and made my way back to New York a few days later.  Once I was back in the office, I found some decorative branches that were abandoned in a vacant office.  Once again, photos were snapped and a jacket image began to take form.

As far as Linger was concerned, it seemed that everyone really wanted to see a "Shiver: Part II."  Once again, I met with the editor to go over plot points, however, this time, the schedule was a bit accelerated and I didn't even have the opportunity to read the manuscript!  After some time, we figured out the appropriate scene/feeling.  Since Spring follows Winter, I knew from the get-go that things had to be keyed to green.  It just makes sense!




2. A metric ton of YA covers these days are photo-based. Shiver's cover is definitely not -- it's clean, stark, graphically impressive. (Similar to the gorgeous cover of MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD, actually, which you also did). Is this your style in general, or was it a direction you went specifically for Shiver?

That's hard to say!  In this field, one of the challenges is to play the role of a commercial designer, however, at the same time you want to have some fun and put a little bit of yourself into the jackets as well.  Sometimes photography is the correct approach for a certain book depending on the age range and content, and other times, an iconic and graphic direction is needed.  It's a matter of picking the right tool(s) for the job, I guess.  While Shiver may be a YA title, it felt like it truly deserved to be set apart from the many photo-based covers on the shelves.



For the rest of the Q&A and for a revolting cool t-shirt giveaway, please visit: http://onourmindsatscholastic.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Final Book Tour Post!

Okay, so I've been asked to post my complete tour schedule again, so here it is. I'll be pretty much in travel mode on the 20th so expect frantic baking and sporadic posting from me in the interim. I'm revoltingly excited to go on tour and I'm also excited to go and poke around California cliffs for a few days beforehand.

The Second Sharpie GuitarA word about the launch party in Williamsburg. First of all, we're raffling off fun prizes. Such as the

- Shiver edition Sharpie-guitar, which I doodled on with a Sharpie in Shiver themes. (more pictures here.)

- These spiffy Linger tank tops that Scholastic just sent me.

- A few foreign editions, like French, Bulgarian, Portuguese, and Hungarian copies of Shiver.

- Barnes and Noble gift cards

PLEASE RSVP, however, if you're coming to the Williamsburg event.

And please, please, for all of these signings -- I'm happy to sign multiple books, but you must buy at least one book from the store where I'm signing. PRETTY PLEASE. It takes resources to put on a successful signing, and to not buy a book there makes it harder for them to justify the next event.


EVENTS: (links are to Facebook event pages for each one, but there are links to the event info within those pages as well)

 
July 20th at 5pm

B&N Williamsburg VA
College of William & Mary Bookstore
Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185
Phone: 757-253-4900
Friday, July 23rd, 7pm

Kepler’s
1010 El Camino Real
San Francisco, CA 94025
Phone: 650-462-5506
 Saturday, July 24th, 7pm

Petaluma Copperfield’s
701 Wilson Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Phone: 707/579-8797
 Sunday, July 25 4pm

B&N El Cerrito,
6050 El Cerrito Plaza
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Phone 510-524-0087
 Monday July 26th at 7pm

Borders Glendale
100 S. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91204
Tuesday, July 27th at 6pm

Once Upon A Time Book Store
2207 Honolulu Ave.
Montrose, CA 91020
 Wednesday, 7/28 at 3pm

B&N the Woodlands
1201 Lake Woodlands Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77381
281-465-8744 phone
Wednesday, 7/28 at 7pm

Blue Willow Bookshop
14532 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079
(281) 497-8675 phone
 Thursday 7/29 at 7pm

BookPeople Bookstore
603 N. Lamar
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 472-4288 x 201
Friday 8/13

Reading Rampage
Williamsburg Public Library
Scotland Street
Williamsburg, VA

My complete up to date appearances list is here.

And then, because I'm often asked: I will also be in Daytona and Orlando in September and November, respectively, but I'm not certain about public events yet (I'll be at conferences). I'll definitely try to stop and do stock signings at least. I will be touring overseas for most of October. I'll be in the UK (and possibly Ireland) for the first week, then Germany. There are also rumors of Lithuania, Finland, and the Netherlands in October. In December I will definitely be in France, and looks like Hungary and Bulgaria are also in the works. I always get asked about Canada, and I'll say that it's a possibility for 2011, as is Australia, but nothing certain. And I get asked about other U.S. locations all the time too -- unfortunately, I'm just out of time for scheduling more travel in 2010, but I'll be out and about again for FOREVER in 2011.

And as always, if you want a signed book desperately but cannot come to a signing, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA, sells books that I've signed and ships them all over the U.S. and Canada.

For all of your guys making epic trips to see me, I appreciate it and can't wait to meet you all! WHOO. HOO.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ich liebe dieses Lied. Now, in English.

I'm terribly in love with this song. I can't stop listening to it over and over again.

And not just because I just got this in the mail today.



Yes, that's NACH DEM SOMMER, the German edition of SHIVER. I don't think I can explain how gorgeous it is -- it is shimmery and colored end-papery and attached ribbon bookmarky. And begins: "Ich erinnere mich, wie ich im Schnee lag, ein kleines, warmes Bündel, das langsam kälter wurde." In other words, just like the English version. But in German. (Here's the German microsite).


Anyway, so now I'm listening to this song over and over again while writing and revising FOREVER. I cannot believe that in less than a week, I'll be on tour for LINGER.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

LINGER IS OUT IN THE WILD!

So. Yesterday, LINGER officially came out in stores. I should have done my giant LINGER launch day post then, but in my defense, a) I was in North Carolina standing in the ocean and b) I really thought I'd have until next week to post something on my original release date, the 20th. So one day late. This is the one time a year when I say oh please if you are going to go buy LINGER at some point do it now because first week sales are like the first day of mother's breastmilk. Which is to say, the most filled with vitamins or whatever. I'm not sure where I was going with that metaphor. But . . . the point is, it's out nearly everywhere in the U.S. and gettin' there in Canada -- and will be out on the 20th in the U.K.

(I should also mention that I stopped at several stores on the way to Nags Head on Monday and Tuesday, and signed books, so if you're in those areas looking for signed copies, they have 'em. Borders and B& N in Newport News, Barnes and Noble in Chesapeake, Barnes and Noble in Hampton, and the Barnes and Noble in Norfolk. I feel I have forgotten a Borders in there somewhere . . . )

So I was not sure what I was going to do as my official launch post. Then I thought, you know what, we're gonna do a timeline (this is probably because I just created a timeline for FOREVER). From the conception of baby LINGER to its birth.



December 2008: brainstorming begins having concluded edits on SHIVER.

December 9, 2008: I decide that Cole's character looks like Kurt Cobain.

December 10, 2008: Cole's character comes into focus. I want him to be Cole Saint-something. Tessa (Gratton) suggests "claire"

January 1, 2009: writing begins.

January 16, 2009: An 11 page draft features a tiny Cole scene, but no Isabel. The first chapter starts with "Day 90" as it was originally supposed to count down to the end.

January 19, 2009: A 17 page draft sent to Tessa. Subject of email “the latest suckfest.”

January 28, 2009: I decide that Cole's character looks like Henry Cavill.

February 21, 2009: Another draft sent to Tessa, this one 88 pages long. Entire contents of e-mail: “This will need to be edited SO DAMN MUCH.”

February 21, 2009: excerpt of chat with Tessa

me: especially since once again Cole is naked
 
 Tess: has he had clothes on at all?

 me: (with Isabel this time)
 
Tess
: heh
 
me
: He has worn clothing, twice.

Tess: good puppy


March 16, 2009: I decide Cole's character looks like James Franco.

April 16, 2009: A 70,000 word draft sent to both Brenna (Yovanoff) and Tessa. I note: “But on the other hand, there are massive massive massive holes in there that I already know of and need to go back and fill.”

April 18, 2009:  E-mail sent to Tessa. Subject line: “friggin . . .” Excerpt: “It becomes painfully obvious that I have built my snowman in the wrong order -- I have the head-sized ball in the middle.”

April 21, 2009: At 1 a.m. Finished draft sent to editor Mixtape (David Levithan), Tessa, Brenna, and my sister.

April 22, 2009: At 7:46 a.m., e-mail from my sister. “Oh Maggie. It’s. Perfect.”

May 14, 2009: Editorial call with David; edits begin.

June 22, 2009: Me, during edits, finally watching it come into focus. Excerpt from chat with Tessa:

me: awwww
  I'm awwwwing over my own damn scene
  I'm ashamed o fmyself.
 Tess: lol
 me: EmoPet rocks!
  well, fingerpicks his guitar
  but it's as close as he will get to rocking.
 Tess: awwww, yeah


July 6, 2009: big edit done, line edits begin

July 24, 2009: We receive the rough cover art for Linger (which you guys might see next week when I interview the cover designer!)

coffee potAugust 1, 2009: I receive a red coffee pot from editor David in honor of finishing the novel. (readers of Linger will understand why)

September 1, 2009: Scholastic Audio drops me an e-mail to ask if I'd like to be part of picking out additional narrators for the Linger audiobook, which is a question too obvious to answer.

September 9, 2009: Copy-edits arrive!

September 19, 2009: Copy-edits done!

September 28, 2009: I get a cover flat. It's green!

October 12, 2009: I get page proofs to look at -- basically, the pages set up as they will be printed, and my last chance to change tiny things.

November 19, 2009: ARCs! Just in time for my birthday.

February 12, 2010: Linger audio auditions go down. Dan Bittner, otherwise known as the sex-on-a-stick voice of Cole, was originally auditioning for the new voice of Sam, but I said whooooa nelly, that is Cole. And so he was.

May 10, 2010: I complete the Linger trailer.


My nest of LingersJuly 2, 2010: My author copies of LINGER arrive. I start panicking and making lots of baked goods to distract myself from my release day.

July 13, 2010: LINGER's release date!


I still am totally not ready for this. Ask me again on the 20th if it's sunk in yet.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I Want To Marry This Book: Blurb, anyone?

So today I’m going to tell you how blurbing a book is like getting married.

I honestly never really gave any thoughts to book blurbs, back when I was a mere muggle reading and writing in the stacks. I didn’t even know what a blurb was. For the record, a blurb is that line that goes across the front of many books. It looks something like:

“This book literally blew my shirt off in a public place; it’s just that good.” - Maggie Stiefvater, NYT Bestselling Author of Shiver.

That is a blurb. Ostensibly, blurbs exist for a couple of reasons.

a) they make the my fans pick up the book

b) they make even people who haven’t heard of me assume that the book’s good because I have “NYT Bestselling” in front of my name so clearly I know what I’m talking about

(There are also other, less integrity-full reasons that authors blurb books. It’s not uncommon for authors to blurb a book because they know said book will do well and writing a blurb for it will put their name all over several thousand covers out there in the world, thus acting as marketing for the blurber. But I pretend this reason doesn’t exist.)

Anyway, I never really used blurbs to aid me in my book buying decisions. And I sure as snot never thought I’d be asked for them. But, amazingly, I am, because, amazingly, people think my name holds weight in the YA book buying world. This is a fantastic and terrifying idea, as my idea of a good book is still A HOLE IS TO DIG.

Still, asked I get, and I’ve read dozens of advanced review copies of books at various editors and authors’ requests. And I just . . . haven’t wanted to blurb them. And this is where the whole marriage thing comes in. I liked some of these books. I had a good time with them. Some of them I even loved parts of or even most of. Some of them I even thought for the first half that this was the one, this was the one I was going to blurb, just don’t let me down or stand me up or turn out to be Pearl Jam fan. But in the end, I didn’t love them. Not that way. Not like forever. Not like I was sure that ten years down the road when someone waved a copy in my face and said, “I hated this book. Why did you blurb it?” I would still be able to say that I loved it and explain why I had blurbed it.

So . . . I haven’t. I’ve only blurbed two books so far, both that I watched grow into adult novels from literary infancy. For the record, the books are THE REPLACEMENT, by Brenna Yovanoff ("I loved this eerie and beautiful story of ugly things. It should be read aloud after dark, at a whisper.") and BLOOD MAGIC, by Tessa Gratton (“Reading this book is like having The Bravery sing to you while you eat fresh brownies and puppies frolic around your feet. In other words, the best day ever. Buy it.”)(okay, not really. Final blurb wording TO COME).

Why am I even talking about this? Because I have found another book to blurb! I just had a copy of STOLEN by Lucy Christopher put into my hands at ALA, and I was very cheerful to offer a quote for the paperback edition. It’s a YA novel about a girl who is kidnapped from an airport by a crazy guy and taken to a shack in the Australian outback. The novel features

1) crazy guy
2) camels
3) strong heroine
4) poisonous snakes! (did you know that Australia is the only continent where species of poisonous snakes outnumbers non-poisonous ones?)
5) hallucinating
6) kangaroos
7) psychological terror and thrillingness!
8) vehicular chases
9) did I mention crazy guy?
10) a supporting cast of chickens

It’s got a great sense of place and the character development is just fantastic (I love me some trauma), but the thing I liked best was that as Gemma, the main character, spends more time in the presence of her kidnapper, the author very, very, very skillfully messes with our brains just like Gemma’s brain is getting messed with. It makes for a very complex read with no easy answers, just like I like ‘em. I loved how all of the motivations were thoroughly grounded in past history; we get a profile of the kidnapper as a human, not just as a stick figure. As a teen, I would have adored this book even more. My only complaint? It reads a little long in places, but I think that may have been my deadlines speaking more than the book’s shortcoming. I know there will be many that say that this isn't how most kidnappings go down and tell you to go read LIVING DEAD GIRL instead, but I don't believe that books need to tell the most common story -- just the one most interesting to the author. Highly recommended!

Anyway. I’m working on my blurb. I’m thinking something like “The only thing that would’ve made this book better is a crocodile attack and some brownie batter during the denouement.”

Catchy, right?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Linger Release Date Moved. Also, Sam Sing-a-long

This post may be incoherent.

I made the perhaps ill-thought-out decision to take Loki, my '73 Camaro to Northern Virginia today, and got stuck in traffic for several hours. In 100 degree weather. In the car with no air-conditioning*. It was, in fact, so hot, and I was, in fact, stuck in traffic for so long that I actually got a tan inside my car because the windows were rolled down. I have the lines to prove it. Don't try this at home, folks. There are easier ways.

Anyway. Three things.

First of all, and most important, the Linger release date HAS MOVED. From the 20th to the 13th of July. In fact, you can already find it in millions of Borders stores and a few Barnes and Noble stores. Things I also know: the Kindle date has moved. Amazon's date has moved. Indie stores' date has moved. Canada's date has moved too (supposedy). Audiobook date has also moved. The Linger launch party date is staying the same. Things I do not know: when Fountain Bookstore is shipping their signed and doodled in copies. And also, if the UK date has moved. I will report on such things as I discover them.

Second
of all. The Sam narrator actually sings Sam songs in the Linger audiobook. I don't normally like audio books (I was ambivalent about the Shiver one, even), but I gave the Linger audiobook a whirl because I'd helped pick the three new narrator voices (Cole, Isabel, and a new Sam) and I wanted to know how they did. First of all, the Cole narrator, Dan Bittner, sounds like sex on a stick. Second of all, the Isabel narrator is funny. Third of all, the SAM NARRATOR SINGS. Did I mention this? Yes. I did. The audio producers had asked me to record myself singing the tunes I had in my head for the songs Sam wrote, which I did -- though I am a musician, not a singer, thank you very much, and I thought they would laugh at the tunelessness of them. But . . . they used them. And Sam indeed sings. I had a small meltdown last night when I realized this. It was the best day ever.

Third of all, it's Linger music time. This feels a little silly as I am now totally out of Fridays since the book apparently comes out NEXT TUESDAY.

So I guess I will cut to the chase and post the song that I listened to over and over and over again while brainstorming for Linger; this is the song I used the absolute most to establish the mood I wanted. I've posted it here on the blog before, but here it is again. (as usual, if you love it, buy it legally and save a puppy).

"Wash Away" by Matt Costa. This is also the voice I picture Sam having when he sings. For the record.


I can't believe that Linger is finally here. I just can't. I'm going to go make more brownies. Maybe more cookies as well. I just bought a pie on the way home, too.

I can't believe it.



*despite my declarations that I would get A/C installed in it nearly a year ago

Monday, July 5, 2010

In Which I Benevolently Violate Copyright

for my daughter's birthday, which falls the day after Independence Day, which means she invariably gets her party on the 4th of July.

I was fearful of special requests, as last year she requested a castle cake, and the results were . . . less than . . . um . . . architectural. This year, however, she wanted a cartoon character with a mostly round head, so we were on much firmer territory. So an hour and one benevolent copyright infringement later, we were in business.

I'm just glad she didn't ask for IronMan or Doc Oc.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

6 Things on a Saturday: Linger Music & Panicking with Cookies Episode

1. I am panicking, just a little. Because I thought that I had until July 20th until Linger started getting into the hands of the public. I had 17 more days of increasing neurosis planned.

2. This is because I have been barraged by e-mails from readers who have pre-ordered copies of Linger from Barnes & Noble and have since gotten e-mails from B&N telling them that their copies of Linger had been shipped and would be getting to them on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

3. This sort of unexpected surprise always makes me high strung and more prone to baking, especially of the gigantic sort. When I found out that Barnes & Noble pre-orders had shipped, I got the urge to bake cookies. When I found out that you could buy and download the audiobook version of Linger on Audible.com, too, suddenly I decided I needed to make cookies the size of my head.

4. I listened again to the audio samples I'd been sent and discovered, again, that Cole's narrator sounds like sex on a stick. Back when they were casting for audio narrators (we still have the same Grace narrator, whom I love), they had me give my input into who I wanted for Cole, Grace, and the new Sam. So we have smexy Cole, cold Isabel, and Sam the hobbit. I hope readers -- um, listeners -- like them. Otherwise I will feel Personally Responsible and be forced to rend my clothing and make bigger cookies.

5. Lest you all run out and buy books from Barnes and Noble & Audible, please remember to be kind to indie bookstores and that you can buy a signed copy of Linger anywhere in the U.S. or Canada by ordering from Fountain Bookstore. OR you can come see me on tour in California and Texas.

6. I completely forgot about posting Linger music yesterday, because I was saving my energy for flailing and panicking. So today I wanted to post something Completely Different. I don't just listen to singy music while I'm writing. I also listen to a ton of instrumental music, especially soundtracks, especially when a scene takes me a long time and I need something to fade back more. While writing Linger, I didn't really have a particular soundtrack to hang my hat on until my youngest brother gave me a copy of THE LAST SAMURAI for my birthday. It worked pretty darn well, much to my surprise.

So here's one of my favorite tracks from the soundtrack (though I recommend all of it if you like this one). (As always, buy these suckers legally, 'kay? Thanks.) This is "Spectres in the Fog" by the always incredible Hans Zimmer.



Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go eat 14 cookies the size of my head and flail my arms some more. Have a good holiday.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Death by Ham: Playing the Odds of Getting Published

I thought I'd blog today about getting published. Well, not the nuts and bolts of it. But the odds of it. I get a lot of despondent e-mails from teens who say that they want to be an author when they grow up, but they realize the odds are stacked against them, so they know it probably won't happen. So I went searching for odds, online. I found a bunch of unscientifically gathered ones that said that 5% of all books written were published, and then I found some statistics about how many books people had to write before they got published, and then I found Kristin Nelson's blog about literary agency statistics, which is the most scientifically accurate one, though not quite perfect.

Kristin Nelson is a literary agent and at the end of each year, she compiles statistics of queries read, etc. And she said that in 2009, her agency read 38,000 queries. Requested 55 manuscripts to read from those queries. And sold 15 books to publishers.

Basically, you stand a better chance of being killed by a blow from a ham sandwich than getting a book sold, is what that looks like.

And I think this is probably true. When you look at the numbers, I think it's probably true that the vast majority of people who put pen to paper never sell a book.

However.

I never said that what they were writing was good.

I also never said that these people researched the market, read Writer's Digest, and figured out how to write query letters and where to send them to. I never said these people were voracious and critical readers and worked constantly on honing their writing craft. I never said that these people sat down and wrote four books and then wrote a fifth book and said this is the one, this is finally getting good.

Because I would venture to say that if we were talking about the publishing odds of that population, those people who live in that paragraph right above this one, we'd be having a different conversation entirely.

And that conversation would go like this: if you write a good book and follow the rules of submitting manuscripts and stick to it, you will eventually find someone who loves that book and will put it between real covers. The statistics might not be 100%, but I'm going to go with at least over 90%. Good books get found. Good books don't languish in agent slush piles.

I didn't get published before I wrote LAMENT, though I wrote 30 other novels from the time I was in my teens (why no, I had no social life apart from bagpiping, why do you ask?) And this is why: those novels weren't ready. It wasn't a flaw in the publishing system. It wasn't people failing to recognize my genius. It wasn't that I would never be ready. It's that I wasn't ready right then. There is no "no" in publishing. There is "not yet." There is "revise that manuscript." There is "write the next one."

There do exist rare manuscripts that don't find a home because they're highly unusual, not quite commercial, too genre bending.

But guess what, your unpublished manuscript is not one of them.

I mean, it might be. But I think the odds are better of you being killed by a blow from a ham sandwich. Most of us don't have the genius book that defies marketing in us. Most of the time, we don't get published just because the book isn't good enough yet. And the sooner unpublished authors realize that they have the control, that they can make a difference to when they get published, that it's about making your novel irresistible instead of finding the secret code word that will get you a personal audience with an agent, the better off they'll be. Don't lament the terrible statistics. Don't look for magic formulas to getting published. Just write better. Learn everything you can. Write the next book. Get published. The odds are with you, Jedi, if you do.

Still, watch out for those flying ham sandwiches.
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