Friday, April 30, 2010

Linger Song & Purposeful Characterization

Okay, so it's Friday, and just over 11 weeks until LINGER comes out, so it's time for me to put up another song from the LINGER playlist (well, two, since I'm putting up one from the Sam/ Grace list and one from the Isabel/ Cole list).

Last week I yammered on about how I work with music when I'm writing, and why it's so important to me. I thought this week I'd blather about how the musical selections really emphasize how I've come to choose who my characters are. I'm going to try to be coherent, but it might be impossible. In my head, music and art and writing are really hopelessly tangled. I use principles that I've learned in one on another one all the time, and sometimes I can't remember where I learned it first or even figure out how to describe my thought process, since sometimes it's a sound or an image.

But, this: opposites.

When I was a portrait artist, doing my thing, one of the things that I learned way back when, while I was studying John Singer Sargent (<3), was that if you wanted to draw the viewer's eye to your subject, you made that area your point of greatest contrast. It's something you see in a lot of traditional portraits. A very dark background, dark clothing, and then -- suddenly, the face, brightly lit from the side. So you have pale, pale skin, and stark shadow next to it, any your eye immediately goes to that difference. And another thing that I picked up along the way is that the focal point gets the most attention, the most detail. And everything else gets blotchier and less specific the further away from the focal point. You want everything to shout to the viewer, look here LOOK HERE NO HERE REALLY!!!

And they do. I sort of use the same principle when I'm coming up with characters for my novels. The detail thing, first, of course. The reader knows far more about Sam and Grace than Sam's foster family or Grace's parents, or Grace's friends. In my head, the focus is drawn tightly in upon them. They are the detailed bit of the portrait. Everything else is just context.

And then, the contrast bit. (I am slowly, slowly bringing this back around to, you know, the point of this blog post) The point of greatest contrast being where you look. In my writing, I think of this as opposites. Complementary opposites. When I'm choosing a co-narrator, I want them to be quite, quite different from my original narrator. To emphasize the personality traits. To draw attention. To create instant tension. So where Sam is soft, Grace is hard. Where he is uncertain, she is certain. Where he sees beauty, she sees facts.

So. LINGER. (see, I told you I was bringing it back around). I knew I wanted another narrator, and I knew I wanted this narrator to show us things about Sam. By not being those things. Like standing next to a really tall guy on the subway and realizing, suddenly, that you are very short. I didn't want this narrator to be just interesting on his own. I wanted him to be interesting in such a way that he heightened the stakes and character of Sam. So that is Cole's baby origin story.

And I think the music reflects that. The playlists, I mean. They are night and day -- complementary opposites. Does that even make sense to you guys as readers and writers? Or is it only in my strange head that that works out?

Anyway, for this week's tunes off the Linger playlist, I pulled the ones that most embody Sam and Cole, respectively. The lyrics for both of them are really appropriate too (they aren't always -- I often have a song on the playlist just for the sound of it). Here ya go.

(as usual, if you love a track, please go buy it from iTunes, Amazon, your local indie music store that smells like old sweat pants, or wherever you buy music. show the artists some love.)

"A Message" - Coldplay

"Coming Undone" - Korn

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Italians Whisper, Not Linger

Italian Edition of LingerSo I'm pleased to be able to share the cover for the Italian edition of Linger!

They wanted to stick with the English titles (Italian SHIVER is still called SHIVER), but they said that most Italians wouldn't know what the word 'linger' meant, so they asked for suggestions. I let them know that in the early stages of its life, LINGER was called WHISPER.

Italian edition of SHIVER So here it is. It'll be hitting Italian shelves October of this year. What do you guys think? I think it matches the Italian Shiver pretty nicely! (and I would've never guessed pink in one million years)

I'm off to go work on the Linger trailer some more.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hi, I Suck.

EMO JEDI A couple of weeks ago, when I'd posted some sort of musical something or other on my facebook and blog, I got an email from a reader who asked, "How is it you're so good at so many instruments?" And I thought about it for about forty seconds and replied, "Because I am really good at practicing and staying focused while practicing." It's the same answer I've given for my writing and my art, too, historically.

Only, I now realize that it is not the right answer, for any of them. Because yesterday I posted that video of my playing my bagpipes for the first time in seven years, and it made me think about how I used to teach bagpipes to college students and middle school students. There was a huge rate of attrition for these baby bagpipers. Not just for me, but for all the bagpipe teachers I knew. Probably half of the students only took one lesson. Then you lost a few more after a month. Then you lost a bunch more at the three month mark. If you kept 'em for six months, they were yours.

And in thinking about this, I realized that it isn't about being good at practicing. It's about being willing to suck.

Let me describe to you how you learn to play the pipes. Briefly. I promise. You start out on something called a practice chanter. It sounds like a dying goose, because it uses a very easy reed and is much quieter than the real pipes. Mind you, it's still loud. If I practice in the house, you'll still hear me in most rooms. And it doesn't sound like a musical instrument. No one -- NO ONE -- will ever listen to the practice chanter for fun.

Then, after one to three months of learning fingering on that -- and the cross fingering is weird and challenging -- you have to learn how to manipulate the pipes themselves. Now you won't have good breathing technique, so you won't be able to play a tune, you'll just gasp and flap your arms and the drones will wail. And when you finally do try to play a tune, it will be awful (because you're still awful, remember), and not only is it awful, but it is at 100 decibels (for reference, a vacuum cleaner is about 70 decibels. A lawn mower is 90 decibels. A police siren is about 120 decibels. Sound ordinances start at 50 decibels.)

That means that everyone for two miles can hear you suck.

Well, blow.

*maggie backs hastily away from this line of dialog*

The point is that most people can't stand that level of humiliation. First, there is the shock that you are not good at it instantly. Then there's the shock that you aren't good at it in a month. Then there's the shock that you aren't even listenable at three months. At six months, you can play two tunes and you're proud of it, even though other bagpipers will still point at you and laugh. And all of this compounded by the fact that you have an audience for all of this, because you are loud, loud, loud.

And it made me think about how this is like writing, like art, like pretty much everything worth doing. So many times I have tried to teach art or music to someone and they will give up right away when they realize that they are not instantly good at it. It takes practice, yes, and most people get that. What they don't seem to understand is that it also takes the ability to deal with your own sucking. Because what comes out of those practices -- those early manuscripts, those wretched sketches, that horrible tune -- will not look wonderful. You might not even be able to tell a difference from one practice session to another. For months. You have to live with that.

So that's the real reason of why I can play so many musical instruments. I am willing to live with myself while I do things badly, and I'm willing to do things badly again and again. I don't get frustrated when things don't turn out well; I'm a patient creature, and I know what the other side will look like. I can live with the suck.

And I can live with it at 100 decibels. Can you?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Maggie Does Bagpiping

And proof of my bagpipingness. I have to twiddle with them more and geek out on the reed a bit more to get it the way I like it. And it's been seven years since I've picked a set of pipes up (how time flies when you're writing werewolf novels). But . . . Maggie piping, nonetheless. More impressive videos to come later.

There Goes the Neighborhood

Oh look what the friendly UPS man brought today.

Yes, I'm falling back into bad habits. (played these things competitively in college)

Helloooo, old friends.

Oh they are even louder than I remember.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Everybody Does Shakespeare

Just in case you ever wanted to see YA authors reenacting Shakespeare with kitchen utensils. More hilarity from New Orleans: Carrie Ryan, Jackson Pearce, Brenna Yovanoff, Natalie Parker, David Graham, and me with Tessa Gratton directing.

Things to watch for:

Carrie's name shouted across the stage.
Jackson performing a lovely crane.
Brenna's face when someone bites their thumb at her.
Natalie's head gesture when she pushes women against the wall.
David's tong action.
Tessa's head.
And my foot.

Music and the Working Girl

I have no idea what my blog post titles mean most of the time. It's a gift.

Today I'm am slated to post another song from the Linger playlist, as it's a Friday and as such just over 12 weeks until Linger comes out. (I edited out the scream I performed at this point of the post). I thought before I did, I'd actually blather about why music is so important to me while writing. And because I am in love with numbered lists, that's what's going to go down.

1. Focus. I've been told that if I was in school nowadays, I'd probably be labeled with something like ADD or ADHD or Brat or something like that. Really, I think most creative types have flighty brains, so it strikes me as more of a symptom than a syndrome, but that's another story. The point is that it's hard for me to sit down and focus at the computer, whether it's writing about werewolf love or writing this blog post. If I have music on, however, my butt will stay in the chair. I'm playing music right now, actually, so I don't think about going to put my contacts in or possibly making more tea or maybe I should go work on that tune for the Linger trailer or maybe I should package up some of my prize giveaways to mail etc. etc. etc. The noise inside my head is loud, but right now, the music is louder. ("The Mighty Quinn," if you're interested)

2. Mood. This is the biggest reason I use music in my writing, and the reason for the dedicated playlists. I think of my books like movies, and my favorites sorts of movies are the ones that have really pronounced mood. I'm thinking . . . Chocolat, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Snatch, Amelie, The Secret of Roan Inish, Big Fish, Danny Deckchair -- these are all movies where the mood that permeates is as important as the plot. The visuals, the music, the acting, the colors -- everything supports this overall mood. I want my books to read like those movies feel to me. So before I even start writing, I start compiling playlists of music. The songs are all closely related in sound and feel, and they remind me of what I'm trying to get to. It's a goal, at first. And then it's just a reminder. I will not write a scene that doesn't fit the mood.

3. Character. LINGER was the first book where I had three playlists instead of one, and at first, I thought that I was going insane (I mean, more than usual). Because the playlists were very, very different, and I thought my cohesive mood was going the way of Hanson's career*. One of these playlists was named Linger: Sam/ Grace. And the second was named Linger: Cole/ Isabel. And then there was Linger: all. The idea of having three of them hurt my soul (again, like Hanson). But I needed three of them, because I had more narrators in this book than I'd ever had before, and Cole as a narrator was nothing like Sam the narrator. Isabel was nothing like Grace. And to remind myself of that, to cement their voices, I needed a different playlist. And then the overarching playlist brought them back together and put my mood back into place.

I think it worked.

Is this getting too geeky? I think I'll stop while I'm ahead, and just post the videos. The first is a tune from the Sam/ Grace playlist: "Spaceship" by Jonas and Plunkett.

And the second is the first tune I've posted from Cole's playlist: "Party" by Clint Mantsell. If these two tunes don't tell you everything you need to know about Cole and Sam, nothing will.

Hope you enjoy!

(and as usual, if you love a tune to death, please go buy it on Amazon, iTunes, etc. and show the artists some love. thnxkbye)

*ETA: I stand corrected by a blog reader and by an author friend. Hanson is apparently still recording music, rendering my metaphor useless. They have also cut their hair and gotten older.**

**They still aren't my sort of music.***

***Sorry, boys.****

****men, now.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

okay, maybe just one post.

Okay, maybe I'll post one picture from New Orleans. This is what YA authors do on vacation.

YA Authors on Vacation

Left to right.

Jackson Pearce (author of SISTERS RED)
Carrie Ryan (author of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH)(also, a zombie)
Tessa Gratton (author of BLOOD MAGIC)
Brenna Yovanoff (author of THE REPLACEMENT)

In Which Maggie Is a Slacker with Foreign Covers

I promise I will have Actual Blog Posts with Actual Content soon, but I just got back from New Orleans and my brain is tapioca pudding. I did just get a lovely box of foreign editions from several publishers, though, so I thought I'd show them off.

They're Catalan, French, Hungarian, and Bulgarian, respectively. Do I have any blog readers who speak any of those languages?

Also, German readers can vote for their favorite cover here. I have my distinct preference for that one . . .

I'm also way behind on blog comment answering, something that will be rectified Very Shortly.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Song Two from the Linger Playlist

Okay, I am running out the door to a Thing 1/ Thing 2 production, and then straight onto the airport from there, but of course it is Friday and it is 13-ish weeks until Linger comes out, and that means it's time to post another song from the Linger playlist - songs I listened to while writing Linger.

Last week was "Close Your Eyes" by Young Love. This week is a twofer -- both Jose Gonzalez's "Teardrop" and the original by Massive Attack*. One was used during Sam chapters and another during Grace ones. Which do you like better?

(as usual, I have to say: if you love this song, get your butt to Amazon or iTunes or wherever it is you buy music and spend the buck to show you care.)

*Massive Attack does have an official video on YouTube, but because the record company is an idiot, embedding is disabled.

Thursday, April 15, 2010







Monday, April 12, 2010

Five Things: the New Orleans Signing & Car Licking Edition

Because I am now days away from my FOREVER due date, I'm pulling twenty hour days living with werewolves and have been I terrible blogger and emailer and wife and generally human being. I understand this and I promise I will make it up to you. So this is possibly the worst post ever and the only one you will get from me before the 15th. It's an itemized list:

1. I am totally excited to be going to New Orleans with the other Merry Sisters of Fate right after I turn in FOREVER. Because, baby, I will need it. The important part to remember is that if you are New Orleans inclined yourself, I will be signing books at Octavia Books on the 17th, from 4-6 p.m. The incredibly funny Jackson Pearce (AS YOU WISH) will be signing with me. And possible Carrie Ryan. It will be good times.

2. I need to write a review of Gayle Forman's IF I STAY, which came out in paperback this month. I read it months ago but haven't managed to write a fantastic review, because my thoughts on it are not well-ordered. Short story is, I didn't expect to like it. I loved it. If you liked SHIVER, I think you'll like it.

3. I am addicted to this song. "Walking the Dog" by Fun. It is like Dexy's Midnight Runners had some sort of love child with Paul Simon and then let the poor infant be raised by Barenaked Ladies and Modest Mouse. It's Monday, I know. But go on. Listen to that and don't dance. It's not possible. Your butt will at least wiggle in your chair.

4. Oh baby. Tis beautiful weather here in Virginia -- how about you guys? It is finally spring and you better believe that when I'm not writing FOREVER, the only thing I'm doing is driving Loki. Oh, and helping my kids use their new driveway chalk.


Yes, I love my car that much.
Loki and Me

5. I'm out until the 15th. Thanks for putting up with me. See you on the other side.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Numbers: le gasp

Last night at midnight I took a break from working on FOREVER (yes, we have reached the End Times on that novel and now I am working on it every second of every day) to work on my taxes (oh, you don't think that's much of a break?)(yeah, me neither).

I was adding up deductions/ expenses/ sheer crazy conducted with my bank account. Some ones of interest

- amount spent on books in 2009 (see, I put my money where my mouth is)

- number of miles driven for Shiver in '09 (this doesn't include any of my plane trips)

- number of cities I traveled to last year for Shiver

- amount spent on postage shipping off contest winners and book giveaways and books to schools and signed bookplates

le gasp. Somehow when you put them that way, it looks more dire.

I'm going to go write about werewolves and lawyers now.

Friday, April 9, 2010

First Song From the Linger Playlist

Okay, so it is a stunning 14-ish weeks until Linger's release date (yes, math, we don't do that sort of thing around here. I am still working out how to embed a playlist on here without bringing the fear and rage of ASCAP down upon me* but until then, I thought it would be Highly Entertaining to me (and hopefully to you guys) to post one song from Linger's playlist each Friday until the book comes out. I'm guessing this may culminate in a no-holds barred musical fiesta prize pack or something like that, but further plans about that will be announced after April 15th when I turn in FOREVER and get my brain back.

So. The deal on my playlists is that I listen to music constantly while writing -- stuff that is the mood that I have in the book or want for the book. And that way, when I get distracted or I'm out of town, I can just put on my playlist and instantly get back into it. They get kind of unwieldy -- I have 3 hours of music on the full Linger playlist, for instance -- so I'm going to present the Essence of Linger Playlist -- the ones that got the most play.

*currently, I've found that I could become an iTunes affiliate and embed sample playlists that way, but that would give me a portion of profits each time someone bought a song that way, and it makes me uncomfortable to bring money into it.

Anyway. So. Week One. Song One. Here it is.

(as usual, I have to say: if you love this song, get your butt to Amazon or iTunes or wherever it is you buy music and spend the buck to show you care.)

"Close Your Eyes" by Young Love.

I'm going back to the FOREVER draft now. I was dreaming about Ulrik last night. This is getting bad, guys.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Linger, with a posh accent! now has the cover up for the UK edition of Linger! And yes, I will be over there in October to tour.

Insert smiley face here.

(smiley face with a stiff upper lip)

real linger uk cover

ETA: whoops, that's the real cover.

In Which Maggie Climbs on Her Soap Box And Screams

I know I’m not normally soap-boxy on this blog, which is the way I like it. But I’m afraid I’m about to get up on my soap box for a few moments and shout, enraged. I swear it will be a long while before it happens again.

Those of your who read my blog and Twitter feed regularly probably are aware that I’m insane about music. Music is a big deal to me. When I’m driving, I have music playing. When I’m writing, I have music playing. When I’m cleaning my toilets, I have music playing. When I don’t have music playing, it’s because I’m playing a musical instrument. I had bands in college and I write songs for my books still (available for free download on each book’s page here).

I know. You get it. Music = Maggie.

Almost as good as finding a song that makes my day is giving someone a song recommendation that makes their day. For every single book I write, I end up with a playlist several hours long, which I then condense into a shorter list. And then I post it on my website for readers to see what I was listening to. And then I got these fantastic emails from readers saying that they’d gone and bought a bunch of tracks off the playlist after hearing them on the website, and nothing made my little black heart warmer than that. I love being able to give possibly not as well known artists some listeners they might not otherwise have.

Or at least, I did.

Astute readers will have noticed that the clickable playlists on my website have disappeared, replaced by just a list of the titles and artists.

This is because, a few weeks ago, I was contacted by ASCAP. That’s the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. They said that they’d noticed I had playlists on my website and that I needed to either take them down or pay a $340 licensing fee to have them on my website. The licensing agreement they sent me also let me know that that fee could go up, depending on traffic to my site, and that I’d need to let ASCAP have access to my records and that I’d be fined if I underpaid my licensing fee.

I would like to point out the amount of money I make from those playlists. ZERO.

The playlists were mirrored from my blog, where they had big notices that said: “If you love these artists, please go out and support them by legally downloading their music.”

And now I was being asked to pay $340 to play music that listeners could easily find for free on YouTube. I was supposed to pay $340 for the privilege of promoting the musicians I love. I let ASCAP know that I thought this was pretty silly, as I derived no profit from the music and that in this case, the player on my website was like a fantastic, pointed advertisement as readers were very likely to buy tracks off it later. I might have mentioned that I got 90,000 hits to my blog and website in February. And said something about 131,000 books sold in 2009 and that being a lot of readers and, by extension, listeners.

ASCAP was not impressed. They wrote back:

As someone who creates both written works and
musical compositions, I know you can appreciate the importance of
protecting copyrighted works -- in this case so that our songwriter and
composer members are able to make a living from their art.

This, I’m sorry, is bullshit. Appealing to my sense of reason as a composer and author is not going to fly. If I thought for a second that my playlists removed a single dime from those artists’ pockets, I would have taken them down in a heartbeat. It’s called viral marketing, ASCAP. It’s what people who have grown up with the internet do. It’s called using online media to your advantage instead of fetching the torches and pitchforks. I like to think I have some experience with this with my music and trailers and blogging.

ASCAP had an answer for this too:

I recognize that you feel that your website provides "promotional value" to
the music that you have posted.  But authorization directly from the
copyright owners or their representative, such as ASCAP, is still legally
required to play this music publicly over the Internet.

She forgot to add “and $340 in licensing fees a year” after “authorization.” If it was just about the authorization, I might be feeling a bit more sympathetic. But it’s not about getting permission. It’s about the licensing fees. When I told ASCAP I thought that this was ridiculous and short-sighted, they said:

While we believe the use of music enhances your website, we of course understand and
respect your decision if you choose to remove it.

Well, that is damn decent of them. ENHANCES? Does ASCAP even have any knowledge of what my website looks like? The playlist was not on autoplay, and it was halfway down the page on each book’s page. It was not the point of the website. It had to be sought out -- and sought out it was, because I have literally hundreds of emails, tweets, and blog comments from readers who told me they went and bought tracks after hearing me mention them.

Here's what it comes down to.

I am a musician and an artist. I think it’s damn hard to make a living in this market, where illegal downloads of books, music, and movies are so easy to come by and when a lot of teens don't understand how a free download hurts the artist. I think it’s damn hard to make a living as an indie musician when you don’t get a lot of radio play. And I know that sometimes the hardest step is getting heard that first time. One of the things I really, really loved about having such a widely read blog was that I felt like I could make a small difference and pay back these musicians who provide the soundtrack to my life.

But not for $340 a year. I’m sorry, but the playlists came down. Now, in order to hear samples of the music, you’ll have to dig them up on Youtube or MySpace or perhaps another blog or website ASCAP has yet to harass.

It’s hard not to believe that this is why the music industry is a dinosaur.

Oh, and right after I got the last email from ASCAP, I looked up my iTunes receipts since I started writing FOREVER. You know how much I spent on music tracks for my playlist while writing?

$340 on the nose.

Long live the establishment and the paperwork it lives in.

Monday, April 5, 2010

On Young Love & All That Jazz

So the question of the Hour: Do Boys Like Sam Really Exist?

Minus the werewolf bit.

This is a question I get asked a lot at school visits and in my email, and I decided, it's time to talk about it. Young love, I mean, in general, and Samlike guys in specific. Because it seems to me that when you write romances aimed at teenagers and up, you need to be sure of what you're talking about before you write them. I don't think it does any good to send out a falsely rosy picture to teens. So. Here it is. My views on Young Love.

First of all, I think it does exist. I met my husband when I was 19, and I knew. Let me tell you, I knew. We were engaged in a month and a half. My parents were understandably unhappy about their previously non-dating daughter suddenly getting engaged and were very dismissive of my declarations of true love. They didn't believe me, and this created a huge rift. Do I think that every relationship started when you're a teen is The One True Love? No. Do I think it's entirely possible? Yes. Depending on how mature you are, if it's the right time/ place -- why not? The only important thing, as I see it, is that you've become that core person of who you're going to be. You're no longer easily swayed by the world's external influences: parents, friends, peer pressure. You've become you. Some people are that person at 17. Some people aren't that person until they're 30.

Second of all, Sam. I put out feelers in my Twitter and Facebook, asking people if they believed that Sam-boys existed in real life. After a few cynics pronounced that Sams were gay, and some other doubters who just didn't think that boys like that existed, period, we started getting into the good stuff -- piles of people who had met their husbands when they were Grace's age, people who knew Sams, girls who were dating Sams, people who had loved and lost Sams. I wasn't surprised because I based Sam on a variety of people in real life. Maybe they didn't all read Rilke and play guitar and turn into werewolves, but they did similar things. They were creative, sensitive, thoughtful, shy. Loyal, loving. What breaks my heart is to read the replies from girls who say that they wished that guys like Sam really existed -- guys who were crazy about the girls they love. And they do. It makes me sad that people would settle for less -- both guys and girls.

Third of all, Sam again. I get emails from folks who are 12-15 and they say that their boyfriends are unhappy with being compared with Sam in SHIVER. Or they say their boyfriends aren't like Sam. Well, they won't be. All the things that make Sam Sam need time. The thing that girls seem to like most about Sam -- his devotion -- shouldn't be expect in a 14 year old, in my opinion. Sam is 18 going on 19 and he's also a very old 18 because of his life. He's ready for commitment and knows who he is far more than someone four or five years younger. SHIVER couldn't happen if Grace and Sam were 14 and 15. It shouldn't happen. Dating is wildly different when you're that age -- independence makes a big difference.

Fourth, would you know a Sam if you saw him? When I wrote SHIVER, I wanted it to portray a love that could actually happen, between a normal girl and a normal guy, not a super-sexy-hot-werewolf-who-also-bench-presses-hundreds-of-pounds-with-his-pinky-finger. So Sam was meant to be understated, loyal, uncertain, unsure. Grace says when she first met him she might have walked past him in the hall without thinking. Love makes people beautiful to us. I see a lot of girls dating guys based purely on looks, when the sweet, loyal, perfect guy for them is right there -- but without shining Prince Charming locks or maybe he's wearing a faded Metallica t-shirt or maybe he's just a little chubby or possibly he is really, really trying hard to get rid of that acne. Looks change. The heart stays the same.

Fifth, and wow is this getting long, belief. I think true love comes if you believe in it. If teens get nothing else from SHIVER, I hope they get this: that if you are open to love and are willing to settle for nothing less than someone who is completely into you and just you, who respects you for who you are, who is happy with your boundaries and interested in keeping you happy, you will find it. I want every teen who reads SHIVER to settle for nothing less than a relationship with that kind of equality and respect. Because you'll get what you demand, and if you go into it knowing that sort of love is possible -- well, you're a heckuva lot more likely to get it. It kills me when I meet teen girls who are dating some jerk who is less than respectful of them or who is making them do things they aren't ready for or who is disinterested or condescending. Real love lets you be the person you're meant to be. It makes you a bigger person, not less of one.

Sixth. So this. Yes. My answer is yes. Sams are out there. Young love is a real thing. It is not for everyone, but it's also not a rare thing only found in novels. This is the reason why I write YA romance. Because real teens are falling in real love every day, and someone ought to tell their story.

I was one of them.

/ maggie out.

ETA: Me and mine in Bologna, Italy, last month.

Bologna Castle laugh

Saturday, April 3, 2010

15 Things I Learned in Italy

In lieu of actually trying to summarize the actual book fair (which I'm happy to attempt if any book geeks out there want specifics) I figured I'd do a cheater photo tour of my Bologna/ Florence trip. I will do a cut for obnoxious levels of photography. Here are a few things I learned while overseas.

1. In Italy, they have giant light boxes at the Random House booth, and one of them is of my crit partner Tessa Gratton's debut! This is my first photograph of the trip.

Bologna for Tessa

And this was the second.

Bologna for Tess

2. In Italy, they also have lightboxes for me. Like this pretty one for Linger.

Bologna floor lightbox

3. And also this giant ten foot long one. I think I may get one installed in my bedroom. Mood lighting. Those are my fantastic foreign rights people, Lisa, Rachel, and Janelle.

Bologna Floor The Gang

4. Thirty-two foreign publishers is a lot, especially when it doesn't include Canada, UK, and Australia, which are all covered by Scholastic. And when you put most of those publishers under one roof for a dinner party just for you, it suddenly gets a heckuva lot more real. There were so many people absolutely crazy and passionate about Shiver -- it was literally like a dream.

Also, they fed us multiple courses until 11 p.m., and then we rolled back to our hotels to have more food six hours later.

Bologna Silvio Dinner3

And of course a few Shivers with accents were in attendance.

Bologna Silvio Books 2

5. In Italy, they like to drink sparkling water and look at you funny if you don't. They ask when you sit down, "Gas? No gas?" and this does not mean what you think it means.

Most of these bottles in these photographs are water. Some gassy. Some not. Also, some of the people in this photograph are Dutch. Some not. (I love my Dutch publishers by the way. I believe in this photo she is explaining to me what is living on the plate in front of us).

Bologna Silvio dinner

6. When they say "Scholastic cocktail party at the castle" they mean a real castle. I feel warm/ cozy about being a Scholastic author at this moment. I barely restrained myself from reenacting any of the scenes from Anastasia.

Bologna Castle

7. It is cold at night in Italy in March. I brought my husband to stay warm.

Bologna Castle lips

8. They have a lot of vehicles I would like to have intercourse with in Italy. I want this Land Rover like WHOA. (technical term)

Florence Rover

9. My husband has weird ideas of what constitutes picturesque tourist photos. We are alike this way. He took this photo in Venice.

Bologna Venice Workman

10. They have cops in Italy. Some of these cops where helmets large enough to store sandwiches in. I'm not sure if they do actually use them for this purpose, however. (I would) If they did store sandwiches in there, they would be ham, because ham sandwiches are all the Italians eat between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Unless it's fish paste. They also eat fish paste.

Florence cops being coply

11. They have copies of Shiver in Italy. When I tried to explain to them that I wrote this book and I would be happy to sign their stock copies if they liked, they explained to me they have no English copies. When I finally convinced them I was Maggie Stiefvater, through a series of pictionary clues, mime activities, driver's license photos, and finally, English-speaking bystanders, the manager read the bio in the back of the book and said only, "You have a Camaro named Loki?"

Also, this was when my eye started turning red. Can you tell?

Florence Shiver in situ

12. In Florence, they had a lot of violent statues. Like, people chopping off Medusa's head.

Florence Perseus

And people raping Sabine women. (yes, I realize that is only her butt cheek. I wanted you to see how amazingly realistic it was in real life, with the fingers pressing into butt cheek. I was impressed).

Sabine's Butt

Also, there Florence had a small but active clubbing scene.

Get it? Get it? Oh, I kill myself with the funny.

Clubbing in Florence

13. In Florence, they had living statues because they just didn't have enough not-living ones per capita.

Florence Living Statue

14. If you take a photo of a living statue on their cigarette break, they will show you Italy's version of the finger, which takes a lot more arm muscles. And looks really impressive if you happen to be painted in all gold.

Florence Living Pissy Statue

15. And finally, in Italy, they eat kraken.

Florence tentacles

I just realized that this was possibly the least informative post ever. However, I'm not changing it. I'm going to go not eat squid.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Decade of Letterheads

I am going to post about Bologna later on today after I've finished a few more scenes, but I just had a really weird little moment and had to blog about it.

I have one thousand things on my desk right now, and one of them is a small stack of books from an editor who's hoping I'll love one of them enough to put a quote from me on the front. And on top of this stack is a note on that imprint's letterhead saying "thanks! hope you love them!" or something to that effect.

Anyway, looking at that note and just catching the letterhead out of the corner of my eye gave me a weird squeeze of nerves in my stomach, just like it used to when I was a new bambi writer, sending hopeful manuscripts off to publishers. I'd include an SASE for both the manuscript and for just a letter in case they loved it. Seeing that letterhead just now reminds me of those days of getting a slender envelope back from publishers and sitting breathlessly in my little half-dead Audi in the parking lot of the post office and opening the envelope, hoping against hope it would say anything better than "Dear Author, thank you for thinking of us, but no dice."

There was always that tight moment of anticipation and hope as I slid out the reply on publisher letterhead.

And now I have one of those coveted letterheads sitting on my desk under a stack of books that an editor asked me to look at. And it was such a strange reversal that . . . I dunno. Life is weird. I wish I could've gone back and told that 18-19-20-21 year old Maggie opening letters that one day, it would be like this.
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