Sunday, February 28, 2010

Three Blogs Maggie Reads

I get a lot of e-mails asking me what blogs I read, and this is my opportunity to point anybody wondering to my links page (it's got useful stuff for readers as well as blogs that I read) and to pimp links for a few here. On Sundays, I don't write, which means I catch up on blogs, read novels (this technically counts as work, I guess), play an instrument or two, or draw. Or sleep. Anyway, here's three of the blogs that I read on Sundays.

1. Jacket Whys. It's a book geek's dream: a blog that analyzes YA book covers and trends. With lots of pictures. This week, she has a picture-filled post up talking about the myth that green covers don't sell. As someone who has a green cover coming out (sort of)(I mean, it really is coming out, it's just sort of green)(because it's sort of white, too, and there's other myths and legends about white covers too) I was more interested than usual.

2. PubRants. The blog of agent Kristin Nelson. I've learned a ton from her blog about the industry (especially since Miss Snark's blog closed for business). Recent posts? Why reserves against e-book royalties are stupid. And a break down of recent submissions and why they did or didn't work. And another one about a publisher who has stopped printing advanced review copies for their authors' works (this is why I get SO pissed off when I see people selling ARCs on ebay or adding them to library collections).

3. Gurney Journey. What, you didn't think I just read book blogs, right? This is my absolute favorite art blog. I always learn something new from James Gurney (fellow children of the 80s will know him as the illustrator of Dinotopia) and he always has plenty of visual aids for the slow among us (me). Recent posts include problems with the traditional color wheel and a great one on light and form.

And now I'm off to do something else I do on Sundays: eat.

(nom nom nom)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

NYC Teen Author Festival & Charlottesville

Okay! I finally have my schedule for the NYC Teen Author Festival. I'm really delighted to be a part of it, because last year I just ogled the participants and wished I could be there as a reader. Now I get to be there in a slightly more professional capacity (I say "slightly more" because there is no word that describes me less than "professional" in any situation). Anyway, here's when I'll be there:

Friday, March 19th, from 2:10-3:00, I will be on a panel "Using Genre To Tell the True Story of Adolescence" (I believe this means, why unicorns have better coming of age stories) with Judy Blundell, Sarah Beth Durst, Lauren McLaughlin, Diana Peterfreund, Sara Shepard, and Robin Wasserman.

And then on Sunday, March 21st, from 2-:245 I will be signing at Books of Wonder along with a helluva lot of other authors including Libba Bray and Judy Blundell. There will be even more authors coming in after that, for a total of something insane like 70 authors. So if you're in NYC and want to get an almost obscene number of signatures, this is the place to be. All the details are at the link above.

And then, a week before (I know I'm doing this out of order) on the 13th, I'll be at the Charlottesville, Virginia, Barnes & Noble from 1-3 p.m. Just signing and doing my thing.

For UK'ers, it's looking very much like I will be there in the UK in October of this year. And I will be touring for Linger at the end of July, and rumor has it the West Coast will be getting some loving. I will post other appearances as I get 'em and I'm updating my website appearances page too.

Friday, February 26, 2010

In Which I Advocate Caging Your Plot Bunnies

Okay, so I got this question in my inbox a little bit ago. My policy is to add answers to my FAQ if the questions are universal, but this one, both the question and the answer, were a bit too long for that. So I decided to answer it here.
I’ve been writing a novel for the past 6 months. I’ve completed a good 350 pages of it and an uncountable amount of handwritten pages still needing to be typed. I know every little detail of where this story will go and my characters are almost always somewhere in my head showing me their life together. BUT… it seems like lately completely new story ideas have been flooding my brain in abundance and all I really want to focus on right now is writing the story I’ve already worked so hard on.

So the question….

Does this happen to you? And if so, what do you do about it? I’ve tried to just ignore the new story ideas, but they literally feel like they take my brain hostage until I acknowledge them. I hate breaking from my current story, but I’ve found myself writing several chapters into these new stories just to try and free my mind. Sadly though, I think it’s just given those new stories more life then I’m ready to give them right now. It’s like writers block, but not at all at the same time because I know exactly what wants to be said, there’s just too many people talking at the same time that don’t belong together in my mind. Does that make sense?

What do you do to stay on track when ideas run rampant in your head?

The answer is yes. Look, they're even in the urban dictionary, under Plot Bunny.

Every writer has them, especially as the first blush of Oh-I-Love-This-Story wears off and the writing becomes work. That's not to say that a novel in its middle stages shouldn't have flashes of euphoria -- if it doesn't, I think you've taken a wrong path -- but you have to work harder for them and there's more slogging in between. It's not all roses and chocolates and waffle houses anymore.

But I tend to think of them as good things. It means that I'll have something else to write when I'm done, already waiting for me. I always have a dozen ideas rattling around in there. When I was a teen writer, I used to write several novels at once (for me, this was a terrible idea) and I used to abandon novels as soon as a "better" idea came along.

It took me a long time to realize there aren't really better ideas. I mean, sure some ideas are more catchy, but it's really the execution and characters that sells anything. So if you're writing and currently entertaining jumping ship for a plot bunny that is "more salable," abandon that idea immediately. And get back to work.

Some people can write multiple novels at the same time. I can't. I can edit one and write on another, but not two rough drafts. And I need to float and immerse myself in the world of whatever I'm writing, so it's not a good idea for me to pick up one of the plot bunnies and examine it too closely. When one of them appears, I do one of three things:
1) Write a one paragraph summary of it, like the back of a book. Save it in a folder named "ideas."

2) Write a short story with it for Merry Sisters of Fate. That lets me play with the idea and release some of the pressure of it that's been building up. It also lets me see if I'm actually interested in pursuing it farther. If I have more to say about it.

3) Write a page long synopsis for it, with title, and save it in a folder with the idea's title as the name.

And that's it. I'm not going to let myself pursue it further before I finish writing my current novel, because it will only distract me. It won't "let off more steam" to work on it more. If it's a decent story idea, the only thing that's going to release all that pressure will be to write it to its finish, and I will never finish writing anything if I keep letting plot bunnies interrupt me.

Also, here's a little secret: plot bunnies don't have expiration dates. If it's actually a good idea that interests you enough to pursue it to completion, it will still interest you in two months. Or six months. Or however long it takes you to get to it. You're not going to kill your plot bunny through neglect. Not if it would've survived to adulthood anyway. I have a plot bunny that I came up with in March of 2008. In between other projects, I've written a few dozen chapters on it and I have a lovely synopsis. It still excites the heck out of me. I cannot write it yet -- I can't start writing on it again until at least September, because of other obligations. But I have to tell you that it still thrills me to think about it and I still get more ideas for that book all of the time. (Ask my critique partners -- they know exactly which novel I'm talking about). And I'm glad that I didn't write it back when I first got the idea, because I am such a better writer now. I could've never given it the nuance that it needed back then. Sometimes putting things away for later is the best thing you can do.

So my advice? Jot down the plot bunny. Give it a short story if you want to play with it. Then put it away and do the hardest thing any novelist has to do: finish your effing novel. Then scalp that next bunny.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Beautiful Creatures Casting and Promises, Promises

I have been instructed to post this as part of the Beautiful Creatures contest. I have sort of no idea what it means, but I assume it is relevant to those of you who are playing along. Later today I'm going to post an answer to a reader question about writing, but for now:

Each clue in the Beautiful Creatures: Unlock the Curse Contest involves a powerful or magical object, a talisman of some kind, found in one of six supernatural novels.  Solve each clue and complete each challenge to win Genevieve's locket - the powerful Civil War talisman that unlocks the mystery of the curse that haunts Lena Duchannes.
Still with us? Here is your fourth clue:

In SHIVER, Grace becomes attached to the wolf that watches her from the edge of the forest every winter. Grace doesn't know that when spring comes, her wolf, Sam, takes human form. One autumn, after Sam has taken wolf form, something changes him back in spite of the cold when he is attacked.  What sort of weapon was used?

Find the typepad blog that corresponds to this challenge, (the URLs are all the same EXCEPT for the name of the featured novel: wickedlovely, tithe, etc.) fill in the name of the book as the user name, and the name of the clue object as the password: then you'll be able to unlock the fourth challenge.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Green Slime & Writers

I am sort of on crazy wild writing lockdown all this week, so e-mailing/ facebooking/ twittering is going to be sporadic. To the 356 readers who sent me emails in the last few weeks -- I have not forgotten you, I will reply! Ditto to the 548 FB'ers expecting answers!

I did want to post a link to Merry Sisters of Fate, because today, instead of a short story, Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Gratton and I talked about green slime and writer's block in relation to writing. Yes, that is a Howl's Moving Castle reference. Yes, rumor does have it there is a new Diana Wynne Jones book coming out this April. YES I WANT IT.

That is all.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Okay, as folks can tell from reading my twitter updates, it is now 23 minutes after midnight and I have been counting entries since 9:00 p.m.

First of all, I am incredibly humbled by all of you guys. If I'd known the contest was going to be this big, I may have come up with a better way to keep track of entries instead of counting them all at the end. If i'd known it was going to be this big, my head probably would've exploded. A huge, huge, huge thank you to everyone who's done this. I know it's a really great honor to have my book cover displayed on your blogs and facebooks and I really, really appreciate that.

So . . . just how many entries were there, you want to know? Well, between this blog and the mirrored version on livejournal, there were 2,892 entries.

Yeah, I know.

I had 64 pages of a word document with everyone's entries. And of course you guys want to know who won. And, um, I sort of want to go to bed. :)

So, without further ado, the winners of the LINGER ARCs (7 U.S./ Canada and 2 international)(if you recognize your username, email me with your address!)

1. sxswann
2. rainesire111
3. paisley cupcake
4. photogirl15454
5. feetbeneathsand
6. junestarr19
7. greenfaeriedust
8. lynseynewton
9. simonhayealer

And the winner of THE REPLACEMENT review copy is Southern Princess!

Winner of the matched set of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES is purplg8r.

Winner of the ARC of SISTERS RED is mdesmondobrien.

Congrats to all the winners -- I felt so incredibly bad about all the people who couldn't win. Thank you all again, so, so, so much. What a crazy and amazing journey!

The Tallying Begins!


I will post winners as soon as I calculate entries and do my random number generating thing. So, in other words, it will probably be QUITE AWHILE. As you guys can see, we're talking thousands of entries by the time all is said and done between this blog and the blogger version of this blog.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


First of all, I'm not really here. I'm on writing lockdown and am not answering emails or blog stuff until tomorrow at the earlier. But I needed to do 2 things

1) say that there is one more day to enter the GIANT LINGER GIVEAWAY. I don't think there will be another LINGER giveaway before LINGER comes out, so this is your chance, folks!

and then

2) Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the authors of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, are on their way to Seattle, Chicago & the Bay area for the second leg of their book tour. They are hosting a special contest in honor of the tour, and I'm part of it.  The winner of the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES: Unlock the Curse Contest will be win the magical object that brought Ethan and Lena together in the novel... Genevieve's locket.

Information from my book, SHIVER, will be used to solve one of the clues to unlock a challenge in the contest. Here is the complete list authors participating in the contest and their books, in the order in which the clues for their books will be given: WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr, TITHE by Holly Black, CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare, SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater, THE DEMON'S LEXICON by Sarah Rees Brennan, and RAMPANT by Diana Peterfreund.

So come back to this blog to find a clue that will help unlock one of the six challenges, and good luck Unlocking the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES Curse!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Book That Feed Me

It used to be, as a reader, that there were two kinds of books for me: Books I liked. Books I didn't.

The reasoning behind what put a book into either of these categories was and is still mostly mysterious and unpredictable, though it has something to do with subtle characterization and clever narration and pretty prose.

Nowadays, however, as a writer, I can split it down further. Books I didn't like. Books I liked. And within books that I like, books that feed me, and books that don't.

I was just musing on this the other day, because I often tell people that I must read while I'm drafting, otherwise my creative well dries up and gets carpet beetles in the bottom. But then I went through a period of angst where I picked up and put down about fifteen novels from my to be read shelf. It wasn't that I didn't like them -- some of them I could tell I was going to really like, actually. But they weren't helping me any. To write, I mean. I couldn't figure out if the intrinsic natures of books had changed overnight or if possibly there was something incredibly wrong with me psychologically. The latter is always a safe bet.

Anyway, in a fit of ennui, I tried picking up some books to reread. Ones that had inspired me in the past. And . . . guess what? They still worked. So I went madly through my stacks finding the books that "fed" me versus the ones that didn't, and this is what I discovered.

The authors of the books that fed me are better writers than I am.

They may not be better at everything, but they are definitely better in ways that I want to be better. They zig when I would've zagged, keep a character alive when I would've killed them, put exposition when I would've put dialog. They make me go oh man I wish I had written this. They hit very specific problem areas or areas of interest to me, and they hit them really well. So that means that the books that feed me might not feed another writer.

So what is it that that does it for me? Well, turns out it's usually the same things that make me like a book -- subtle characterization, clever prose, excellent pacing. What surprised me is that it was almost never plot. I love a good plotty book -- THE HUNGER GAMES wooo! -- but it would never help me write when I was stuck. Right now, I have two books on my desk to read on my lunch breaks.

One of them is THE GIANT'S HOUSE, by Elizabeth McCracken. Example of why I love it? I don't even know if these examples will make sense to you guys, out of context. Or even in it.

The book was opened flat on the table in front of him, and he worked his hands in the air according to the instructions, without any props. His fingers kept slowly snatching at nothing, as if he had already made dozens of things disappear, rabbits and cards and rubber balls and bouquets of paper flowers, and had done this so brilliantly even he could not bring them back.

Then Caroline started to sing. Perhaps she'd been waiting for Mrs. Sweatt to wake up all afternoon, so she could sing inside her house. I imagined her stepping out on the back porch to sing now and then, like a polite smoker. She had the voice of a dancer, I mean like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, someone who has such grace at another art that the grace suffuses their voice, which does not quite match the tune but instead strolls up to a note and stands there right next to it, that slight difference so beautiful and heartbreaking that you never want to hear a professional sing again. Professionals remember all the words. Caroline's song was patched together with something something something.

and then the peculiar and magnificent BEL CANTO:

There were those who believed they would be killed, who over and over again saw the movie of themselves being led out the door at night and shot in the back of the head, but Roxanne Coss thought no such thing. Maybe there would be a bad outcome for some of the others, but no one was going to shoot a soprano.


They climbed the long set of stairs to their row, bowed and begged to be excused by every person who stood to let them pass into their seats, and then they unfolded their seats and slipped inside. They were early, but other people were earlier, as part of the luxury that came with the ticket price was the right to sit quietly in this beautiful place and wiat. They waited, father and son, without speaking, until finally darkness fell and the first breath of music stirred from someplace far below them. Tiny people, insects, really, slipped ou from behind the curtains, opened their mouths, and with their voices gilded the walls with their yearning, their grief, their boundless, reckless love that would lead each one to separate ruin.

There is something elegant and effortless about them. Even scanning them now for passages that make sense by themselves, I'm dazzled and inspired. Do I want believe BEL CANTO to be perfect? No, there are parts of it I despise. Do I believe it's perfect in many ways? I do, and those are what I want to learn.

As an artist, I know that one of the most time-tested methods of learning how to paint is to sit down and copy the works of the great masters. I did this once, actually (only I put cat heads in them, I'm afraid, and they were tiny, 2.5 x 3.5"). It was amazing how duplicating and studying the masters made them offer up secrets that you couldn't get from just looking. I'm thinking it must be the same ways with these books. I don't want to paint the Mona Lisa. But I'd really love to know how to underpaint that color of her robe.

Other books that feed me? CROW LAKE. THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. SAVING FRANCESCA. OF BEES AND MIST. They'll probably sound familiar to you because they landed on my top twelve books of the year post.  I never get tired of them, because they're always offering up some secret puzzle to me.

So what do you guys think? Do you have books that feed you? Do those passages say anything to you? Or are you one of the many writers that can't read while you're writing?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Arcane Cat Conversations

I'm thinking they are talking about American Idol.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Just two things . . .

After yesterday's epic post, just a quick post to say that

1. I was down in Richmond yesterday and signed some SHIVERs and BALLADs at the West Broad Borders and the Chesterfield Town Centre Barnes and Noble. At each location, I signed all the copies and left one of them both signed and with a drawing of a wolf in it. So for those in the area interested in a bit of scavenger hunt . . . there's also one BALLAD at each location with a drawing of the king of the dead inside.


2. then of course I feel I must link, for those who were out frolicking yesterday, back to the GIANT LINGER ARC GIVEAWAY which is currently running, and will be accepting entries until next Sunday.

That's all. Back your presidential activities.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Giant LINGER Giveaway (& a sappy story)

So it is Valentine’s Day. The day of love. Also, the day that the Giant Linger Giveaway begins. In honor of this charming holiday long since sullied by 17 billion dollars of chocolate, jewelry, Shrek Valentine’s cards, and flowers, I thought I’d share the story of how me and Lover first met.

You should know that I was a cynical teenager. I was in a bagpipe band and spent pretty much every weekend with men, so I knew for a fact that they were pretty much assholes. I mean, they were good for friends. But I'd had enough married men hit on me to get the moral of the story: Men should be someone else's problem.

So I turned down a lot of offers. Not to imply that I was swamped with suitors . . . just that a girl in a kilt was a bit of an oddity, and when you are at a Scottish festival, drunk, and looking for someone to share your haggis with, I seemed a likely target.

Anyway, there's the background. Fast forward to when I was 19. I was working at the Made in Virginia store, selling large hams to tourists who, like Lindsay Lohan's various boyfriends and girlfriends, would later wonder what had happened. Lover came in and began poking around in the bumper sticker area. I continued reading my book. I probably said "let me know if I can help you with anything" because that's what I did. But I didn't really want to help. I really wanted to read my book. Anyway, I would later find out that Lover was actually supposed to be working that day, but something had come up and the shifts had gotten moved. And I was actually covered for someone else myself, so I should've been home too.

So Lover arrived with a bumper sticker and he must've commented cleverly on something. Next thing I knew we were talking about roadkill, driving too fast, and both of us were laughing. Lover asked if I wanted to go out.

I said, "Give me a good reason."

He promised that he would and left. The next day, he reappeared with a single pink rose bud and handed it to me.

I said, "I prefer yellow, actually."

He vanished again. A few days later, when I was working again (because I wouldn't give him my home phone number), a bush of yellow roses staggered in the door, supported by a delivery guy. I was cheerful. And I agreed to go out with Lover for ice cream. Not dinner, mind you, because that would be too much of a commitment. And I wouldn't ride in his car, because if he turned out to be a homicidal maniac or a Pearl Jam fan, no way did I want to be in the car with him. So I followed him over to the ice cream shop.

We ended up spending two hours talking over melting ice cream. I regaled him with stories of hitting already dead raccoons with my Jetta (yes, my car had seen a lot of action). He made Betty Boop jokes. When we finally left, we were holding hands. I'll never forget what he said as we headed out to where our cars were parked: "When we're married, I'm driving."

We were engaged a month and a half later, and got married when I was 21. That was almost ten years ago. Now I always think back on that first marriage with a kind of . .

No, I'm totally kidding. We're still married.

Anyway. The GREAT LINGER GIVEAWAY. I have NINE advanced review copies to give away. I also have an advanced review copy of Brenna Yovanoff's excellent THE REPLACEMENT. Oh, oh, oh. And also, a matched set of Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES. And you say, wait, that's not enough. Of course it's not. So I am also giving away an advanced review copy of Jackson Pearce's SISTERS RED.

Are you frenzied? You should be frenzied. I'm frenzied. Of those prizes, TWO of the LINGER ARCs will be eligible for international entries. And ONE of the runner up prizes (t'will be a random selection). Everything else is US/ Canada only. 

Winners will be chosen randomly from the entries. This is how you enter.

1) By posting the LINGER cover and description on your blog or facebook (must include link back to the blog and to pre-order to count). This will get you TWO entries for each place that you post it. That means if you post it on your Facebook and on your LJ and on your group writing blogger blog, that's six entries. You can cut and paste the html at the bottom of this post, because I'm nice that way. What counts as a blog? Your LJ, Blogger, Wordpress, etc. Open communities. What does NOT count? Blogs started just for the purpose of this contest. Don't make me be mean, okay? Try and stay in keeping with the spirit of the contest, because otherwise, the karma bear will come and bite you while you sleep.

2) By becoming a follower on our short story blog, Merry Sisters of Fate. You will have to click here and click on "Watch." That counts for another entry. It helps if you read some of the short stories, but that's not required.

3) By changing your Facebook or Twitter or Livejournal default profile pic to the LINGER cover, for the week. One entry for each of those changed (has to be up when I tally the votes).

4) By posting a link to the contest on your Twitter. (another entry!)


I think I've made it possible for nearly everybody to enter no matter what blogging platform or social networking thingy you use, but let me know if you want to enter but can't because of something I've forgotten. And there is some hope for international bloggers.

DEADLINE: This runs until next Sunday, February 21st, at 9 p.m. EST.
Give me another hour after that to tally the entries and randomly pick an entry with my handy dandy Random Number Generators. Prizes will be mailed out at the end of the month. I'd ask the folks who receive LINGER ARCs to not review it with too much detail on their blogs until closer to the release date. :)

And without further ado, here is the html.

<a href="" title="Linger Cover Large by Telltale Crumbs, on Flickr"><img width="257" height="400" align="right" src="" alt="Linger Cover Large" /></a><em>In Maggie Stiefvater's </em><strong><i>Shiver</i></strong><em>, Grace and Sam found each other.&nbsp; Now, in <strong><i>Linger</i></strong>, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.&nbsp; And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.
 At turns harrowing and euphoric, <strong><i>Linger</i></strong><i> </i>is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.</em>

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. <strong>Pre-order </strong><a href=";s=books&amp;qid=1258569951&amp;sr=1-1"><strong>here</strong></a><strong>. </strong>

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, <a href=";s=books&amp;qid=1266164034&amp;sr=1-1"><em>Sisters Red</em></a>, <a href=";s=books&amp;qid=1266164052&amp;sr=1-1"><em>The Dead-Tossed Waves</em></a>, and <a href=";s=books&amp;qid=1266164072&amp;sr=1-2"><em>The Replacement</em></a> on Maggie's <a href="">blog</a>.

And here is what displays when you post that in your html part of your blog:

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

Now -- happy contesting!!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Six Things on A Saturday: The HellCat and False Rumor Edition

1. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or on Facebook already know this, but Unique Features has hired a screenwriter to adapt SHIVER for film! Info on that is here. (no, I wasn't involved in the decision)(no, I don't know how he's doing it)(yes, for now I am cool with that).

2. Those of you who follow me on Twitter also know that I deleted 20,000 words on my latest novel on Thursday and I'm feeling pretty chipper about that decision. Sometimes, as Jason Statham has discovered in most of his movies, you just have to kill them all.

3. I was emailed by the ladies at The Crooked Shelf, a rather pretty and active Shiver fansite that supports my vision of Alex Turner (call me, baby!) as Sam, and they asked if rumors of there being a fourth Shiver novel, mysteriously entitled AFTERLIFE, were true. The answer is, um, no. First of all, if I was writing it, clearly it would be called AFTERLIFER. Secondly, I said there were three novels in the series, and I meant three. Three is a good and mystical number. I'm all over it.

4. Tomorrow I am announcing the rules and start of my GIANT LINGER GIVEAWAY. I have many copies of LINGER advanced review copies to give away, and it will be disgustingly easy, slightly international, and full of fun fun fun. Stay tuned.

5. Strange and beautiful deer.

Monkey is a fan of vintage U26. My husband believes that one of our two cats, Monkey, is a hellcat. When Lover builds a fire, Monkey sits two inches away from it and stares into it for hours.

"Missing home," Lover observes.

Also, she's a big music fan. She has learned how to turn on the boom box and adjust the volume. The other day I came into the room to find Audioslave belting at volume 38 and her rubbing against the speakers.

Yep, sounds like a goth cat to me.

P. S. I'm totally charmed to actually have false rumors about my series. Somehow, this feels like I've arrived.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words in Miscellaneous Languages

One of the things that has been most revoltingly exciting about SHIVER is the huge amount of foreign interest (doesn't that make it sound like an oil spill?). There are over thirty foreign editions of SHIVER slated to come out in the next year, and I love seeing what they do with the covers. There are also a handful of foreign LAMENT and BALLADs coming out. It occurs to me that I haven't shared these in awhile, so here we go:

Bulgarian edition of SHIVER

Bulgarian. LOVE.

Spanish Edition of SHIVER

Spanish. Check out that blood spatter. That's an important artery, right there.

French Shiver Frisson Cover

French. They managed to work pink in there, which I think only the French could pull off.

Italian edition of SHIVER

Italian. I've shown you this one before but I love it too much not to show it again. Check out the GRAAWLSNARL SCRATCHES!

Swedish edition of SHIVERHungarian edition of SHIVERDutch edition of SHIVER

Swedish. Hungarian. Dutch. Because sometimes you just can't improve upon perfection.

German Edition of Ballad

German BALLAD. I really love the light colored doodli-doos in the dark areas.

Spanish Edition of Lament

The biggest version of the Spanish cover for LAMENT I can find. It looks cool and stabby, no?

A full list of foreign editions is here. And if you happen to spot any foreign covers that I haven't posted yet, I always appreciate getting sent the link! :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Final Adventures of The Sharpie Guitar

The Sharpie Guitar - detail of houndOkay, the Sharpie Guitar is now done, I think. Some folks had requested detail pics, so here they are . . .

For those just tuning into the program, yes, this is my old $400 Fender guitar that I've had since college. The one seen in this video. I used three Sharpie markers (they didn't so much dry up as go wonky) and two evenings. First evening, I was roasting my butt by an open fire after writing a lovely and angsty scene on FOREVER. Second evening, I was watching one of the early Harry Potter movies, with commericals, and adding the horse.

I did it freehand, because I'm wild and crazy that way. Also because I believe that in a lot of creative aspects of our lives, we overthink things and can really just dive in.

Sometimes (and this is when I'm giving meaningful eyeballs at Several Members of the Viewing Audience here, of both the writing and drawing variety) you just need to trust yourself and GET STARTED.

That is all.

The Sharpie Guitar - detail of horse

The Sharpie Guitar - detail of harpist

The Sharpie Guitar

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sharpie, Meet Guitar

Two nights ago, I had a new package of Sharpies and my guitar and then I had an idea.

Last night, Lover made a roaring fire and I had just written, in my opinion, a fine and kick-ass angsty scene for FOREVER, so I rewarded myself by doodling.

What do you think? Am I done? Or should I cover the whole d#$% thing?

Guitar, Meet Sharpie

ETA: I gave in and worked on it a bit more tonight. NOW I might be done. Maybe. Possibly.

Further Adventures of the Sharpie Guitar

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dude: Teen Voice, My Problems With It, & Obi-Wan

Today, all of my part of Virginia is holding its breath as we wait for The Snowstorm to End All Snowstorms to arrive. The net effect, so far, is that everyone now owns a snow shovel and the sky is petulantly gray. I’m still waiting for the snow that was supposed to have started two hours ago.

Meanwhile, my March deadline is starting to eyeball me in that funny way that grocery store cashiers do when they see that you’re writing a check instead of just swiping your card. But I think I’m going to take a momentary breather to wait for the snow and blog about something that’s been annoying me lately. It’s about the narrators in YA. I get most of my reading suggestions from reviews on blogs and Goodreads, and I’ve seen something crop up a few times that I strongly amazingly incredibly disagree with and here it is:

Teen Voice.

There are several different versions of this complaint that I’ve seen in reviews, but they generally go like this: “I really didn’t think that the main characters talked like real teens. They sounded like adults to me. Real teens don’t speak like that. Wow, what’s up with the SAT words in their vocabulary? Dude.”

This bothers me on about three different levels. No, four. Let me see if I have a bulleted list in me. Oh, I do. Here it is:

1 - Teens are not a foreign species of alien. It always makes me really itchy to make broad assumptions and generalizations about teens, because they are people, and people are wildly different. So when someone says: “They don’t sound like teens” I want to immediately shout “that’s like saying ‘Maggie doesn’t sound like a Virginian.’ “ I am a Virginian, whether Virginia likes it or not, and while there is a Virginian accent, I don’t have one. Does that make me a . . . Marylander instead?

2 - I know you’re going to say “but there is teenspeak.” Oh, am I ever aware. Thank you, cellphones, for making the abbreviated chatspeak fanmails in my inbox possible. I know that there is hooking up and getting up in grills and things that are tight and OH EM GEE. For every teen that says those things, though, I can point you to a teen that doesn’t. I was never a slang sort of girl growing up, and only one of my friends was. Were you?


(oh! snow! it’s snowing!)

3 - Date me, baby! You want to give a book a shelf life (pun so not intended)? Seems to me a great way to date a book is by using teen speak and teen slang. Today’s “teen speak” will sound as strange to readers down the road as characters nowadays busting out “radical!” or “what a bohunk” or “tubular!!!” I don’t know about you, but I’ve got my eye on my books being somewhat relevant five or ten years down the road.

4 - On behalf of all teens, I am phenomenally insulted by adult readers doubting teen vocabulary. Again, maybe not all teens out there know the meaning of words like “piscatorial.” But there are a lot of teens that have great vocabularies too. I, for instance, knew what piscatorial meant when I was 11, because that was when I read my parents’ Encyclopedia Brittanica in alphabetical order.


I think what it comes down to is this: are we writing about teens in general or one teen character in specific? Are characters supposed to be averages, the entire teen experience rolled up into one person, or are can they be quirky individuals you wouldn’t run into every day? From my clever loading of that question, I think you know what my answer is.

I never used slang growing up. I loved big words. I had weird and quirky habits that most teens didn’t, and my friends were the same, with their own weird, quirky habits. None of us were “normal.” And I happen to think it’s okay to write about that teen who is not normal. Because there are as many not normal teens as “normal” ones -- the difference is that because the unusual are all different, they don’t make such a coherent focus group as the slang teens. I also happen to pretty much hate reading YA novels that feel too much like those teens I avoided growing up -- the ones that “sounded like teens.”

I think that concludes my rant. Are you convinced? Or does a “non-teen” voice pull you out of a book?

Monday, February 1, 2010

In Which Maggie Acquires Another Cat

Not so much to fill the empty space in her heart from Moose but rather to sort of plug the edges.

So a few days after Moose died, I took a trip to the local SPCA to see what there was to see. There was much to see. 300 cats to see. I played with cats until my nose ran and then I said, "How about this one? Murphy?" And he got into my lap when he heard his name. So Murphy it was.

Anyway, for those of you wondering how I am coping with my Mooseless state, here is the answer:

Murphy 1

Murphy 2

Murphy 3


1. When surprised (by, say, a terrier named Ginger), he releases a tremendous stink that Google tells me is a vestigial response to fear having to do with the words "glands" and "anal." Use your imagination.

2. He sits on my head.

3. He likes to eat unattended breakfast cereal.


1. He is cuddly.

Murphy is snuggled
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