Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Signed and Doodled in FOREVERs.

I cannot believe that it is less than two weeks until FOREVER comes out. CANNOT. BELIEVE.

I also cannot believe that it is less than two weeks until I trust my health and safety to my '73 Camaro as I set off on my 3,700 mile road trip book tour.

But believe it or not, it is happening.

So, I think this is getting to be the last time that I can say that if you are not near any one of these dots (each of which represent a future Maggie present in that place some time in 2011)


and you want to buy one of these


With a front page I have done THIS to


now is the time to order your copy of FOREVER from Fountain Bookstore, my favorite local independent bookstore.

Every pre-order from Fountain Bookstore will be signed in and doodled on (this goes for pre-orders of THE SCORPIO RACES, too, although that doesn't come out until November 18th). At the very latest, I will be signing and doodling the FOREVER shipment on the 11th of July (depending on when they get theirs in), which means that you will get your signed, doodled copy only a few days later than you could buy it ordinarily.

Why do I do this? Well, first of all, because I know I can't drive everywhere on my tour (because my car might die, for starters, and because I might die, for lasters) and I know that not everyone can drive 17 hours to the closest Maggie signing to get their book signed. And second of all, because it makes a big difference to an indie bookstore to have all these pre-orders go through their doors. And both of those things make me feel good.

So if you would like to pre-order, their website is here: http://www.fountainbookstore.com/autograph-maggie

And they will ship overseas, but you'll have to e-mail them for that, I believe.

ZOMG July. Is. This. Friday.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shiver Audiobook Available for Free Download

Audiosync has put up the Shiver Audiobook for free download (no strings attached) until June 29th. That's here.

It's no secret, of course, that the Linger audio is my favorite, partially because of the new voice talent for Cole, and I have interviews with both him and the voice for Sam in the Linger audiobook coming up next month. Which is in, like, four days.

Which means it's only two weeks until I drive cross country in the Shiver-mobile.


Eek.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Which I Talk About Blood, Guts, the F-Bomb, & Your Mom

I have been thinking a lot about writing for readers in the past week.

This is for a couple of reasons. First of all, because I was on the This is Teen tour with Meg Cabot & Libba Bray and we got a lot of audience questions that set my brain going. And secondly, because I’m working on MagicalNovel (no, I cannot tell you anything about it, but I reckon you expected that) where guiding reader expectations has been a preoccupation of mine. And thirdly, because I have a very little time to write MagicalNovel before I leave on my Giant Road Trip Driving Tour for FOREVER, and that always makes me philosophize instead of working.

Anyway, a bunch of times on tour, I got asked by readers or interviewers if I changed my writing for teens, or for my readers in general. And my first response was to get all prickly and snarl in a bristly voice, just what do you mean by that? and then growl I have my integrity! and ultimately explode I WRITE FOR ME.

Of course, that was before I realized I was lying.

I didn’t mean to lie, of course, it’s just that I was interpreting the question in a rather filthier way than it really needed to be. In my head, the question became about chasing trends and putting in kissy scenes because you thought it would make the book sell better and making certain you followed a certain commercial formula.

And yeah, changing your writing for a perceived audience can mean those things, but it doesn’t have to mean only those things. Because the fact is, I am very aware of my audience when I write, and the more I think about it, the more I think every aspiring writer needs to be. In fact, I think you HAVE to think about how readers are going to interpret your words if you want the story in your head to be the same one they experience.

This was a big issue for me in THE SCORPIO RACES — actually, in LINGER, as well. Both Cole St. Clair and Sean Kendrick are characters who don’t lend themselves to instant sympathy: Cole because he is a massively self-involved jerk, and Sean because he’s remote, keeping people at an arm’s length. As the plot moves along, I reveal why they are the way they are, and that there is more to them than the first impression. But the reader doesn’t know that. At any moment, they could pitch the novel aside, disinterested in reading about these unsympathetic characters. This is where I realize that I think about readers a LOT. Especially when I have unsympathetic or difficult characters, I obsess about how readers are going to see them. I have to give my readers something to hang their hat on, some promise that they will later like this character, or another plot element to identify with while I buy myself some time to make that hard character softer.

Actually, I was chatting with my friend Carrie about plotting once, and she had a great way of putting it. She said that she always felt that an author started with a certain number of gimmee points, and every time you did something to shake the reader’s confidence, like a convenient plot element, you lost some points. Once the gimmee points were all used up, the book was tossed against the wall.

I have an imaginary list in my head of things that use gimmee points. Every element that might make a reader stumble: A tragic ending. A hard to pronounce name for the narrator. A character with a really unsympathetic past. Elvis impersonators. Intimidating number of pages. A cowardly main character. Gore. Swearing. Politically charged elements. Killing the dog. Unusual sentence structure, unfamiliar mythology, loads of place names, high body count.

Do I think that all of these things are fine things to put in a novel? Yes. Do I think that the inclusion of any of them will make the novel less universally loved? Yes. Do I think if you put in all of them, it's virtually only going to be loved by you and your mom? Yes.

This is the part where I have to say that I write mainstream fiction, not literary. This entire blog post is less relevant if you’re writing literary, which is full of readerly stumbling blocks for important reasons. I think it’s crucial, though, that you know which one you’re writing. (Somewhere recently I talked about expectations, and how lots of people write books with limited commercial appeal and then wonder why they aren’t smash bestsellers.) If you’re trying to write a novel with a broad readership, you need to know how many gimmee points you’ve used up. You have to choose your battles wisely. If you really want the tragic end, do you really need to strangle that character with his own intestines in chapter four? Do you really need to name your main character Peliphenorious?

Some writers might disagree, but I have no problem with changing Peliphenoriuous’s name to Bob, if it’s all the same to me, if I know that readers will prefer reading about someone named Bob. I also have no problem curbing a shockingingly gory scene if I want to preserve the reader’s good graces for the gory scene that I really want later in the book. I really don't mind taking out all the f-bombs if I think it will make the readers that I otherwise think will like my novel stumble. It's usually not about changing elements entirely — it’s about changing the way you write about it, to make it less of a bitter pill for the reader. And my point of compromise will not be another writer's point of compromise. The readers I imagine in my head for my novels might not be the readers you imagine in your head. Not everyone, for instance, wants to write books your mom will like.

I do.

I do have a problem with changing major plot elements to what readers want, because I have gone on record multiple times saying that readers know what they want but not what they need. The story has to stay mine, at its heart.

In the end, it does come back down to how an outside viewer is perceiving your book, which is why critique partners are so important to me. I need to know if I’m playing the balancing act well, convincing a reader to follow a difficult character or managing a contentious story element. I don’t think of it as compromising my stories, though. In fact, I think considering my readers’ feelings is what lets me tackle hard elements in my novels. Knowing they’re going to be a hard sell gives me the foreknowledge to package them in the most universally appealing way possible.


What do you think about this, as a reader or as a writer? Do you have an element that will always push you away from a book? Do you want the reader to be part of the writerly equation?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Winners of the Wolves of Mercy Falls Art Contest

I'm happy to be able to share with you the winners of the Wolves of Mercy Falls art contest. Thanks to EVERYBODY for entering and thanks to my secret family member and friend who judged. Thanks to everyone for giving me permission to share your art, too. Without further ado, the fifteen winners, in no particular order. (click to go to the artist's blog or site).

There were so many amazing things to choose from — songs written and dances choreographed and scenes acted out and passages illustrated and .. . . it was just awesome, guys. I know what it's like to be one of the entries not chosen in things like this, and I want to emphasize that I loved looking at all of them, and I'm really so glad I didn't have to choose between them. Keep arting.


































The Golden Woods from Katherine Robson on Vimeo.


I think I feel a goal assessment post coming on, by the way, now that it's halfway through the year. Just warning you.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

FOREVER Art Contest Winners!

It is the 18th and I'm finally back from This is Teen (wrap up to come on that!) and so it is time to announce the winners of the FOREVER art contest. We had 72 entries, and I was very happy that I managed to recruit a family member and friend to judge this for me, because if it had been up to me, I would've never been able to pick. I looked at every one of them and was blown away by the creativity, the hours of labor, and the sheer affection for the novels that I saw. THANK YOU to everyone for sharing that with me. I wish I had ARCs to give to everyone.

Now, I know I said I was going to give away three ARCs but I scrounged around my house and found 15, so we are going to have 15 winners instead. If you're one of them, shoot me an e-mail with your mailing address so I can send you your copy of FOREVER! If you're interested in letting me feature your winning piece on the blog, let me know.

And now, in no particular order!

PipAnimation
Miss Page-Turner
tanianault
bamboozerz
Taylor Ackerman
Cristina Escalante
Chelsea Pro
Katherine (Dreamingofrain)
Cim (chaex1)
Bandana1
Greta is Erikasbuddy
Rina  (icklefruit)
Kusanar
MaeganisaWizard
kyo31

PLEASE email me by the 24th, or I will have to award your ARC to another winner. Congrats to all and THANK YOU AGAIN!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Maggies are Not Good House Pets

I have had 10 cups of tea. I have a This is Teen event in Chicago later this evening. I am not good at waiting in hotel rooms.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Giant Maggie Appearances List - Updates

All right, this is going to be a monster of a post, and if you are totally disinterested in coming to see me at a bookstore or library or random popsicle stand, I apologize. Because what this is is an updated list of every place that I'm scheduled to be in 2011 at the moment, ESPECIALLY for my Giant Road Trip Tour for FOREVER in July and my This is Teen with Meg Cabot and Libba Bray (those four events are in blue) (only because I read somewhere that blue is calming).

Just yesterday I was telling someone I felt like my summer and fall was going to be insane, and that I felt like I'd never be home. Then I did the math (I was a history major, so my version of math involves me opening a calendar and laboriously counting each day by hand) and discovered that, indeed, I only had 90 days left in 2011 that I would be home. Thank goodness I'm taking my kids on some of my trips, and Lover on others, and my car on still others. The only things I'll miss are the dogs and the cookie dough.

This is what happens when you drive all over the world to have Capers and Shenanigans.

And here is where those Capers and Shenanigans will be happening. (full list is always updated first on Facebook).

Monday, June 13 — 7:00 PM
Books Inc. Opera Plaza
601 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, June 15 · 7:00pm
Anderson's Bookshop
Wentz Hall - North Central College
Naperville, IL
630-355-2665

Thursday, June 16 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Wellesley Books
Wellesley Middle School, 50 Kingsbury Street
Wellesley, Massachusetts
781-431-1160

Sharpie Guitar #4Tuesday, July 12th—7 PM
B&N 2238: Tyson’s Corner
7851 L Tyson's Corner Center
McLean, VA 22102
For more information call: (703) 506-2937
**Will be raffling a Sharpie Guitar at this event - Also, live music by Sulaiman Azimi**

Wednesday, July 13th—12-1 PM
Children’s Book World
17 Station Road
Haverford, PA 19041
For more information call: (610) 642-6274

Thursday, July 14th—7 PM
Barnes & Noble 2908: Dewitt
3454 Erie Boulevard East
Dewitt, NY 13214
For more information call: (315) 449-2948

Saturday, July 16th—12:00 PM
Chapters Oshawa
419 King Street West, Unit #1135
Oshawa, Ontario
L1J 2K5
Canada
For more information call: (905) 438-8593

Saturday, July 16th—6:00 PM
Indigo Yorkdale
3401 Dufferin Street Unit #29
Toronto, Ontario
M6A 2T9
Canada
For more information call: (416) 781-6660

Sharpie Guitar #4Sunday, July 17th—2 PM
Chapters South London
1037 Wellington Road,
London, Ontario
N6E 1W4
Canada
For more information call: (519) 685-1008
**There will also be a Sharpie guitar given away at this event! (details to come)**

Monday, July 18th—7 PM
Borders Novi
43075 Crescent Blvd
Novi, MI
For more information call: 248-347-0780

Tuesday, July 19th—7 PM
Anderson’s Bookshop
123 West Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540
For more information call: 630-355-2665

Wednesday, July 20th—7 PM
Barnes & Noble 2720
7433 Mineral Point Road
Madison, WI 53717
For more information call: 608-827-0809

Saturday, July 23 · 7:00pm
Books & Books
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL
305-442-4408

Monday, July 25th—2 PM
Dakota County Wentworth Library (hosted by Red Balloon Bookshop)
199 East Wentworth Ave
West St. Paul, MN 55118
Please contact Red Balloon Bookshop with questions: 651-224-8320

Monday, July 25th—6 PM
Wild Rumpus
2720 W 43rd St
Minneapolis, MN 55410
For more information call: 612-920-5005

Wednesday, July 27th—7 PM
Unity Temple on The Plaza (hosted by Rainy Day Books)
707 W. 47th Street
Kansas City, MO 64112
Please contact Rainy Day Books with questions: 913-384-3126

Thursday, July 28th—7 PM
Pudd’n Head Books
37 South Old Orchard Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63119
For more information call: (314) 918-1069

Sunday, July 31st—3 PM
Nashville Public Library
615 Church Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37219
For more information call: 615-862-5800

Monday, August 1st—7 PM
Little Shop of Stories
133A East Court Square
Decatur, Georgia 30030
For more information call: 404-373-6300

Tuesday, August 2nd—5 PM
Quail Ridge Books & Music
3522 Wade Ave
Raleigh NC 27607
For more information call: 919-828-7912

Friday, August 5th—7 PM
The College of William & Mary Bookstore
345 Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185
For more information call: 757-253-4900

AUGUST 25-SEPTEMBER 10
Australia dates to come. I'll be at the Melbourne Writers' Festival, Brisbane Writers' Festival, and it also looks like I might be in Perth and Sydney to boot.

Week of September 12th.
Germany! I don't have locations yet, but will update when I do!

October
A few dates (west coasters, take heart!) being firmed up

November
UK!! Second week, details to come.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Maggie's Glamorous Life, the dog edition

I just removed A from B. By hand.

Stripping Ginger

I need cookie dough.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Duh duh DUH

Look what came in the mail! It matches my lips. Also, my tongue. Also, my head is really big? I can't believe it's almost here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The FOREVER Contest is Dead, Long Live the Contest

So I have winners from the Facebook and Twitter FOREVER contests! And I have one last one to announce, running until the 18th of June.

First of all, here are the winners of the last contest:

The twitter winner: @xox_eziii_xox

The facebook winner: Rae Lutsky

And now, the new (last!) contest. Three lucky winners will each get a signed ARC of FOREVER. However, since the last one was easy, this one is hard.

It's a Wolves of Mercy Falls art contest. Any sort of art is acceptable — photo, computer, hand-drawn, paper cut out, play-doh, singing a song, doing a dance, throwing an impromptu Shiver skit on the steps of Town Hall and video-taping it — BUT it must have zippo copyright infringements. That means if you use anyone else's photos or material, they must be available through Creative Commons (and no, I will not explain Creative Commons. You should google it, because everyone should be familiar with it). You may quote lines from the book. But, it means if you were thinking of re-doing the cover with M&M's on your kitchen floor, you should reconsider and do something original. Well, actually, that might be cool . . .

This is NOT a random contest, it is a judged one (though possibly not by me. I might ask one of my friends who will not be biased in any way).

1. To enter, the art has to be visible to third parties. That means it has to be on a public blog (like Blogger, Livejournal, etc.) or on DeviantArt or something like that. Facebook and Twitter don't count on this one.

2. Somehow label that sucker as art inspired by the books — if you want to link back here, that's cool, or to the books, doubly cool, but you don't have to.

3. Then go to this website and post the link for where the judge can see it: https://contestmachine.com/hosted/promotion/QOCDWZMACR

DO NOT POST YOUR ENTRY AS A COMMENT TO THIS BLOG


I feel I have to make that large and black. Otherwise I always have to end up disabling comments and people don't know how to ask questions then.

Okay, what else? Because of publishers' ARC rules, it is international, but ONLY if you have a U.S. address for me to ship to. It runs through June 18th, 9:15 a.m. EST.

Go!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How To Sharpie a Guitar (In Just Under Four Minutes)

This video is the camcorder disaster of which I spoke on Twitter last night. Technical problems too long and boring to relay plagued the making of this video, but finally, it is done.

This summer, as I have mentioned before, I am going on tour in July for FOREVER, in my car, (blue)Loki. It is a 3,700 mile trip of splendor (no, really, it is, check out the map)(all of the appearances are listed here).

In an effort to thank my readers for coming sometimes considerable distances to see me, I'm applying my Sharpie markers to two guitars and raffling them away at two of the locations. One of them will definitely be at the launch in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. The other will almost certainly be at one of the Canada appearances.

Anyway, the wonders of technology means that as I sat down yesterday to Sharpie one of the guitars, I set up a video camera. And now I shall make it look like you, too, can do it in four minutes.
 





That's a lyric from FOREVER on it, by the way.

Now, I am getting away from my blog because I have blogged 24 times in the last 3 days, or at least that's what it feels like. Away, away, away!

Jealousy, Part Two: On the Fairness! O the Fairness!

Last night, while grappling with software and cursing over a Freak Camcorder Accident for a v-log, I dashed off a post about jealousy and writers. And I’ve been seeing some interesting comments to the post, and I think what they mention is worth bringing up.

And basically, it is this: the thing about working hard to become a writer is that the amount of work you put into it rarely correlates to the amount of success that you have. Some folks work for 20 years and never get published, and some people dash off a manuscript in four months and sell it for six figures. And this strikes many as unfair. I even said that in a reply to a comment: “well, the business isn’t fair.”

But then I realized that I don’t really believe that. I just don’t think it’s fair in the traditional, ethical sense, where good people get to go to the front of the line and friendly dogs always find homes and good writing becomes a successful.

I do think, though, that in the most basic sense, publishing is very, very fair. The fairest thing out there. Because all publishing cares about is that you sell books. It doesn’t matter how long you took to write it, how well it’s written, what it’s about, if you’re a great person . . . publishing, as an over-arching being, just cares about how many copies it will sell. It’s not subjective, and that’s as fair as you can get, right?

I hear a lot of griping about celebrities writing books. They didn’t do the time! They can’t write! I bet someone else wrote it for them! But for me, this is the easiest formula to understand. Even if a memoir by the latest teen star isn’t my thing, I can guarantee you that it will be hundreds of thousands of other people’s thing. A lot of them will be people who don’t ordinarily pick up books. For a publisher, this is gold.

That’s fair.

I think a lot of unhappiness comes from a lack of self-awareness, as far as our writing goes. So many people want to write bestsellers, but, really, most books just won’t be. It has nothing to do with being well-written. There are loads of well-written books. Imagine how many books you like. Imagine how many books your sister likes. Imagine how many your father in law likes. Now imagine how many books you all three like.

That’s a bestseller. What are the odds?

And this really isn’t a negative thing, or a condemnation of books that aren’t bestsellers. I have this theory that most people’s favorite books never appear on the bestseller list (mine certainly don’t. Two of my favorites, KETURAH AND LORD DEATH and FIRE AND HEMLOCK, are so far from ever appearing on a bestseller list that is a little sad). The bestseller list is made up of books that a whole lot of people can LIKE, but they don’t have to LOVE them. Just like them enough to recommend them to their mom and their dentist. Well-written does not equal bestseller.

A lot of people are unhappy with the size of their debut deal or with their midlist career, plugging along selling a few hundred books instead of a few thousand, because they wanted to be a bestseller. I think you have to try to judge what you have in your hands. I love my first two faerie books. They’re precisely the sort of books I loved as a teen. I don’t think they’re bestsellers. I think they’re genre books with a limited appeal. Maybe not as limited as other fantasies, but still, the fantasy element is written in such a way that it will narrow the readership. And I’m okay with that.

So this all trickles down to aspiring writers and jealousy and all that. Really, my main hope is that before aspiring writers so willingly ascribe their fates to chance and luck and subjective things completely outside of their control, they’ll consider what is in their control, what is objective, and turn any negative feelings into kick-ass character development in chapter three.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On Writerly (NAY! All Creative!) Jealousy

Earlier today, I tweeted a link to this article on writerly jealousy, over at The Rumpus. It seems a lot like something I would have thought about and written — the question asker is very jealous of her writer friends, to the point where it is like “swallowing battery acid” when something good happens to them. Sugar, the blogger, dishes out an answer that would fry eggs, talking about how jealousy is only as powerful as you let it be and how the original asker’s point of view came from a false sense of entitlement.

I found myself nodding along and going YEAH! WHO ARE YOU TO BEGRUDGE THOSE PUBLISHED AUTHORS ANYTHING!?

But then, as I tweeted the link and talked back and forth with folks on Twitter, I realized that I wasn’t the fairest person to be talking about writerly jealousy. I know y’all are thinking it’s because I’m sitting in a very lovely writerly place now, and I am, but that’s not the reason. The reason is that I’m just not a jealous person (and I realize this sounds very egotistical, so bear with me as I explain). As a non-jealous person, me giving advice on how not to be jealous would be like me giving advice on how not to gamble — something else I’ve never felt the remotest affection for. I have my vices, like an addiction to sweet tea and an obsessive-compulsive streak. Both of those would be valid things for me to write about, but jealousy? No.

And that made me start wondering why I’m not generally a jealous person. Because I do seem to remember, once upon a time, knowing quite a bit about being jealous. I was one of five kids, and monsters of the green-eyed variety tended to arise when one sibling got to ride in the front seat and I didn’t, or when someone got to stay up late and I didn’t, or someone got an extra present at Christmas (oh yes, we counted).

This is where it starts to click for me. Really, the reason why I got jealous as a kid is because I didn’t understand why my brother or sister got something that I wanted and I didn’t. It was out of my hands, a benefit gifted by a capricious, inscrutable parent, a surprise windfall that landed in someone else’s lap instead of mine — all because they happened to be standing closer to the prize than I. Everyone should have had an equal shot, but that didn’t matter when they were handing out the goodie bags.

Sugar, over at the original article, tells the original asker that she thinks jealousy stems from entitlement. “A large part of your jealousy probably rises out of your outsized sense of entitlement. . . There are a lot of people who’d never dream they could be a writer, let alone land, at the age of 31, a six figure book deal. You are not one of them.”

But, the fact is, I’m 29, and I will have six novels published by the end of this year. Richelle Mead is 34. Lauren Kate is 30. Stephanie Meyer is 38. There are a lot of authors who have become wildly successful by age 31, so it’s not really an impossible dream, to be published by 31, not anymore. That dream isn’t just a product of entitlement.

I think this is why jealousy is such an issue among writers. The dream seems more achievable than ever and still, it doesn’t pan out for everyone. It’s like being one kid in a family of five of them — why did SHE get to sit in the front seat this time!? There’s really this sense that luck rules the publishing industry. There’s this idea that someone got published because they met the right editor at the right conference. They had the right idea when a trend was hot. They submitted a manuscript right before an agent had a vacation in Aruba and the agent signed them because forever their work reminded her of beaches.

But if you believe that, it will eat you alive, wondering why it couldn’t have been you who hit that lucky strike. Why did the publishing gods gift that deal to someone else?

I think this is why I’m not a jealous person, as an adult. Very early on as a teen, I decided to take complete control of my fate (actually, being a control freak is one of my vices). Mostly, I wanted to be able to take credit for my successes (and oh, was I determined to have them), and if I believed that luck was guiding my hand, that meant I had to give luck the credit. But taking ownership of my destiny meant that my failures were my fault as well. My query was sloppy. My characterization was lax. My concept wasn’t commercial enough. The fault was mine, but I was okay with that — because it meant that when I fixed them, success was inevitable.

That’s right. I believed it was inevitable. I remember telling my husband when I was 19 that I was a poor history major at the moment, but one day, I’d be a rich and famous author and would keep him in the manner to which he’d soon become accustomed.

So I guess, as a non-jealous person with no right to dole out advice on jealousy, this would be my advice, nonetheless: take ownership of your destiny. Own your faults and your successes, and let others own theirs. It’s hard to be jealous of someone who you know worked for what they got. Harry Potter’s a great example — Ron’s always a little jealous of Harry, because his scar and his status was an accident, outside of Harry’s control. But no one’s ever jealous of Hermoine’s skill in magic. We know she fought for it.

As mystical and uncontrollable as this business seems from the outside, I can tell you from the inside that most everything happens for very valid reasons, and most of those are totally within your control. It’s far more about attending those potions classes than it is about being around when Voldemort rings the doorbell.

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