Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday Music Post: Linger, All The Music

YES. I am aware that it is not Friday.* I was supposed to do this on Friday, but I got distracted by MOCKINGJAY (and no, I am not telling you anything about it or about my feelings about it until more of the population has had a chance to read it.) So. This post feels sort of . . . weird to do, but several readers have asked me to post the full LINGER playlist, absolutely everything I listened to while writing the book, and also to post the list of songs that correspond with particular scenes, like I did for SHIVER.

Anyway, it feels weird to be doing something like this, because I feel like I am posting it for about twelve people who are both extreme music geeks and LINGER readers, but . . . as I am both of those things, I guess I will do it!

So now, without further ado (does anyone ever say: "and now, slightly more ado, and then, I'll get on with it"?) here they are. First, the Linger chapter list with music, i.e., the songs that I listened to on endless repeat while writing each section. If a chapter's missing, it's because there's no particular song associated with it; I was just listening to part of my playlist (which is also posted below).

Chapter 1: "Close Your Eyes" - Young Love
Chapter 2: "Concerto for Violins in B Minor" - Vivaldi and "Page 47" - Trevor Rabin
Chapter 4: Joshua Radin's album We Were Here.
Chapter 5: "Party" - Clint Mansell, "Technologique Park" - Orbital, and "Brooklyn is Burning" - Head Automatica
Chapter 8: "Her Morning Elegance" - Oren Lavie, "White Winter Hymnal" - Fleet Foxes, "Mr. Pitiful" - Matt Costa and "Daylight" - Matt & Kim
Chapter 12: "You'll Find a Way" - Santogold and "Twisted Transistor" - Korn
Chapter 13: "Hallelujah" - Rufus Wainwright, and The Last Samurai soundtrack in its entirety, but particularly "Spectres in the Fog," "Idyll's End," and "Ronin"
Chapter 14: "How Low" - Jose Gonzalez
Chapter 16: "Precious Lie" - Cary Brothers and "Unwinding Cable Car" - Anberlin
Chapter 17: "Any Way You Choose to Give It" - The Black Ghosts
Chapter 20: "You Know You're Right" - Nirvana and "Coming Undone" - Korn
Chapter 23: Three Days Grace's album One-X
Chapter 24: "Fairy Dance" - James Newton Howard and "Evacuating London" - Harry Gregson-Williams
Chapter 26: "Circle the Fringes" - Gutter Twins
Chapter 30: "Bother" - Stone Sour
Chapter 31: "Goodnight" - La Rocca and "Spaceship" - Jonas and Plunkett
Chapter 33: "A Message" - Coldplay
Chapter 36: "Coming to Terms" - Carolina Liar
Chapter 37: "9 Crimes" - Damien Rice
Chapter 40: "Winter" - Tori Amos
Chapter 41: "Almost Lover" - A Fine Frenzy
Chapter 46-48: "Wash Away" - Matt Costa
Chapter 49-50: "Lightning Strike" - Snow Patrol
Chapter 54: "Somewhere A Clock is Ticking" - Snow Patrol

Okay, and for the complete playlist, I'm going to try to embed a playlist from, because I've been assured after the Great ASCAP Kerfuffle of '10 that it is legal to post from AS ALWAYS, if you love a track, go and drop the buck on it on iTunes or wherever you buy music. I've had artists featured on my playlists actually email me and thank me for featuring their songs, because readers actually do go out and buy the music if they love it. Please keep it that way and thanks!

LINGER PLAYLIST - Songs from #25 and on are the Cole/ Isabel playlist.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Songs not available on but in the LINGER playlist nonetheless (my musical tastes are too cool for, apparently):

"Loneliest Girl in the World" & "Precious Lie" - Cary Brothers
"Coming to Terms" & "Simple Life" - Carolina Liar
"Talk it Out" - Yotokyo
"Spaceship," "Stole the Show" and "Everywhere" - Jonas & Plunkett
"Goodnight" - La Rocca
"Always to Keep" - Jeff Merchant
"Wash Away" - Matt Costa
"Color Bars" - Elliott Smith
"Rock of Ages" - Gillian Welch
"Out Come the Wolves" - Jacob Golden
"Technologique Park" - Orbital
"Merchant of Death" - Ramin Djawadi
"Any Way You Choose to Give It" - The Black Ghosts
"Duke" - Booka Shade

ETA: A lovely blog-reader took the time to transfer as much as the playlist as possible over to a more international friendly site. I hope this helps and THANK YOU!!! It's here.

*I know that I missed my brand-new Friday music post where I post all the music I've found over the course of the week so I'll do double the fun, like Wrigley gum, this Friday. If I do it in addition to the Linger music, this post will be epically long.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Professional Authors Never Procrastinate

or doodle when they should be writing. I don't know what you're talking about.

Actually chat between Professional Writers who were supposedly working:

Brenna: but people can own it and mine it and stuff?
 me: yep.
  except for 1/4 of it.
  which is the Boundary Water Canoe Area  OH!
 Brenna: hahahaha
 me: Wolf Canoes' hit single "Yes, I'm F*ing Endangered" climbed the charts this week . . .
  of course it becomes more indie when you make it Wolves in Canoes
 Brenna: that's automatically obscure
 me: then their single becomes "Thirty Percent Conifer"
 Brenna: and it's only ever on the charts in Belgium

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Seven Steps To Starting a Novel

I get asked a lot about starting novels. The questions come in via e-mail, facebook, twitter, in person, library visits, vet appointments, and at the post office. Everyone has a novel in them and everyone wants to know how to start it. The idea’s too big, they say, or it’s a funny shape and they can’t see the outlines of it to get it down there. They don’t know if it’s the right idea. They don’t know if it’s an idea that is sellable. They wonder if they will get better ideas later. They wonder if they should put kissing in it, because kissing sells books. There are millions of potential authors out there and ever so slightly fewer reasons why those potential authors cannot start their books.

Here’s the thing, though. Well, here’s the several things. I have said some of these things before, but I’ll say them again.

1) Anyone can write a novel.

No, it’s true. Really. I say this a lot. You might not have GONE WITH THE WIND or THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER or THE GREAT GATSBY in you, but I’m quite certain you have a serviceable novel that won’t embarrass anybody in you. This is because

2) Novel-writing is a learnable thing like painting, penmanship, and making play-doh snakes.

That means that anyone can learn to do it. Again, you might not make the best play-doh snakes out there, and your first one will be lumpy and have that annoying seam that sometimes happen when you work with Play-doh on a dry surface, but with practice, they’ll be lovely and even and rainbow colored. Your friend Stephanie Meyer may be able to make them longer than yours, but still, you’ll be able to make play-doh snakes acceptable for playing with in most circumstances. But that doesn’t change the fact that your first play-doh snake is going to look like ass. This is because


That means that the trick is not just cunningly putting your pen to paper and coaxing that brilliant novel out of you with gin and Teddy Grahams. It means you need to learn. A lot of would-be writers I encounter seem to . . . gloss over this aspect. The aspect of suck. And oh yes, my dears, your first novel will suck. Don’t take it personally. You, like everyone else on this planet, including artistic geniuses, need to practice. Van Gogh didn’t paint masterpieces before he learned how to mix colors. My artistic beloved, John Singer Sargent, spent years learning from a master. You don’t get into a car for the first time and expect to tear donuts around the parking lot (though that is why you learned to drive, right?). Everything else in the world requires sucking and practice -- why are people surprised when that first paragraph comes out and it looks like someone sat on its face? You know what we call those people who write a sucky paragraph, follow it by 1,200 more, and then start all over? Novelists. You know what we call people who think of a brilliant idea but never actually write it down? Everyone else. Is that not mean enough? I can do meaner. You know what we call people who think of a brilliant idea, write down thirty pages, and then stop? Everyone else. You only get points for starting, middling, and finishing a novel. There is no second place for almost finished. Which is why the advice you will see all over the internet is the same and its

4) Just write the damn thing, folks.

As I’ve said before, it’ll suck. Don’t let yourself get sucked into preparation. Yes, prepping is important, and plotting is important, and character development is key. But every writer does those things differently, every author has a different process that works for them. A process that develops over several novels. If it's your first novel, you don't know what works best for you. You don’t have a process -- you’re inventing the process as you go. The most important skill you will learn this go round is not character development or pacing or how to write a beautiful line about the best sunset ever. The most important thing I learned that first time round was how to finish a novel. So, that said, the practical version of #4 is

5) Make a routine, and stick to it.

Write a sentence every hour on the hour. Write a chapter every Wednesday night for two hours (that's how I wrote LAMENT). Write every afternoon from 2-4 p.m. Write on the subway. It doesn’t matter what the routine is, just that you make the decision to write, and you do. And then keep it up, even after the flush of that first passion wears off and other insanely better ideas begin waving and offering you skittles. And remember

6) No more excuses.

You don’t need to do more character profiles. You don’t need to do more research. You don’t need to know how they get to the reactor in Chapter  11. You’re good. Really. You’re good. What’s that you say? You don’t feel safe? Secure? You feel silly? Yeah, it’s going to be that way. More prep-work isn’t going to make that go away. There's always revising for the stuff that isn't perfect. Which will be everything. So you might as well get started. Oh, and one last thing.

7) Find a new beginning.

Actually, find as many as you can. Sit down at your computer. Get a stack of your favorite books. Read just the first page of each and see how they get you into the story. Close the books. And start your own.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Positively Every Interview, Ever

For LINGER's release, I did a lot of blog interviews. If, for some reason, you wanted to spend an entire afternoon reading about the life and time of Maggie, I figured I would put all the recent ones in one place. If you did an interview or guest blog post with me and it's not on this list, lemme know and I'll add it.

The Trades
Elle Girl
Devourer of Books
Presenting Lenore
She Knows
On Our Minds
A Good Addiction
A Life Bound By Books
YA Reads
Tattoeed Books
Paperbacks & Postcards
Reality Bypass
Princess Bookie
DJ's Life in Fiction
Girls in the Stacks
Pure Imagination
Alison's Bookmarks
Behind Yellow Eyes
First Novels Club
Book Whisperer
Edwards Meadow
The Dark Phantom
Mayra's Secret Bookcase
Red Pen of Doom
Book Woman Reads YA
The Book Vault
Read This Book
Lavender Lines
He Followed Me Home
Rayment's Reading Rants
The Nerd's Wife
YA Bookshelf
The Rock Pool
The Book Wars
All Things Urban Fantasy
Book Chic

Thanks for everyone who shared blog space with me! :) Some of these bloggers have been reviewing and featuring my books since Lament and . . . well, elephants never forget. I appreciate it!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Music Post: This Week's Spoils

I get asked often enough about this that I guess I will make it a habit -- every Friday I'll post the music I've bought over the course of the week. In case the studio audience wants to follow along at home?*

*I always wanted to say that.

Tomorrow I have that signing in Fredericksburg, but after I get home, I reckon I will buckle down and actually post all the links to the blog posts and interviews that came out when Linger came out. Also, if you haven't been reading the comments to the reading post . . .man, you should. They're fascinating! 

Anyway, this week's music, odd because I am between-ish manuscripts and so I am caught between collecting music for the new book, listening to stuff from the old book, and buying stuff that just makes me cheerful:

"Pathetic Fallacy" - Trevor Morris (The Tudors)
"Tell Me True" - Sarah Jarosz
Otherworld - Lunasa (entire album to replace my damaged disc)
Harvest Storm - Altan (entire album to replace lost disc)
"The Lass of Aughrim" - Beth Patterson
"Hug Air A'Bhonaid Mhoir" - Julie Fowlis
"Illyrian Dawn" - Bill Whelan
"A Game of Cricket"  - Adrian Johnston
"Say It Right" - Nelly Furtado
False Priest - Of Montreal (album pre-ordered in its entirety because that's how I roll).

as always, if you hear something you like, please support the artists and do what I do . . . drop a buck to buy the the track.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reasons Why FOREVER Takes So Long To Finish

Actual Conversation From The Stiefvater Household

Starring players in conversation:
Me: 28 year old author.
Thing 1: 6 year old daughter.
Thing 2: 5 year old son.

THING 1: *noise*

THING 2: *noise*

THING 1: *noise*

THING 2: *noise*

ME: Could you guys please be quiet for just one minute? You can talk all you want in the car later, but right now, this is MAMA TIME.

THING 1: . . .

THING 2: . . .

*10 seconds elapsed time*

THING 2: I'm an evil beaver.

Maggie's Thesis on People Who Live In Books

I'm going to blame my parents for my career.

I mean, really, it's all their fault that I turned out to be a novelist, because they were the one that got me hooked on books. I've been thinking a lot about what makes a person a reader and what makes someone out a non-reader and after a lot of thought and discussion with Lover, I'm pretty sure that it's all my parents' doing. (cue photograph of Baby Maggie doing the Writing Thing:)

In an attempt to be more academic and responsible sounding about it, I'm going to break down the anatomy of this particular reader into three big parts. I think these are why I'm a reader:

1) Enabling. My mom was a big enabler for our reading, growing up. She not only bought us books and took us to the library weekly, but she let us have a lot of autonomy as to what it was that we picked out at those places. I only remember one book being taken out of my hands, ever, and the rest of the time, I was pretty much allowed to read what interested me. There was never anything negative associated with reading, and in fact, it was a great way to get out of chores, because if you were reading, you were doing something useful. Unless you were reading DOGSBODY for the sixth time in a row, in which case she could think of better things for you to do with yourself.

2) Modeling. This one is definitely my dad's fault. It wasn't that my mom didn't read -- she did, especially non-fiction -- but it wasn't like the rabid novel consumption of my father. By the time I hit my teens, my father had walls of bookshelves, all full of paperbacks stuffed in sideways and longways and upways and downways because they wouldn't fit on the proper way any more. Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, Tom Clancy, Jack Higgins. Guys with Guns Doing Things and Women. And because I wanted more than anything to be like my dad, and because I wanted to be able to talk to him about things that he was interested in, I read his novels. I jumped from Madeline L'Engle to Jack Higgins. When Jurassic Park came out in '93, I was 12, and I'd already read Crichton's original novel three times by the time we went to see it. (doesn't this explain a lot about me?) Most important, though, was the fact that my father never told me to read a book or that reading was fantastic for your brain. I just saw him with a book in his hand. So I had a book in my hand.

3) Participation. My parents both did this, but it's my dad that I remember most vividly, because he read the longer novels to us. He loved to read out loud. I have two brothers and two sisters, and the older three would all sit on my brother's bed while my dad read us Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and Tom Swift books. I'm pretty sure he read the old Nancy Drew books, not the sexalicious new Nancy Drew/ Hardy Bros. combination mysteries that I took on myself. And I'm pretty sure it was the new Tom Swift that he read, not the rather moldy smelling old paperbacks from the library. I remember he did different voices for all the characters, something that I found myself doing when I read to my two youngest siblings, years later, and still later, to my own kids. Reading could be a solitary thing, if you wanted it to be (and in a house with that many people, often that was a positive, not a negative), but it was also a way to be together. 

So really, by the time I was a teen, I was sucked into reading without quite realizing why. (much like this rubber frog that I accidentally vacuumed up the other day)(it's fine)(really)(no, seriously, it's rubber, it takes a lot of punishment).

I still can't figure out why some of my siblings are big readers and some aren't (three are, two aren't), since we all had the same background. I don't think that those three things that made me a reader will make everyone a reader, but I'm developing this thesis (ohmigosh, I wish I had convinced my husband to name his new dog "Thesis" - how fantastic of a dog name is that?) that you definitely won't be a reader without them.

I sort of want to know more, though. What made you guys a reader? Are your siblings readers? If not, why do you think there's a difference?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I was going to write something useful

First I was going to post about how I am going about writing Secret Novel, even if I can't talk about Secret Novel's plot. Then I was going to post about how it was that I thought I came to be such a voracious reader.

But then I got distracted by finally choosing the paint color for Loki (yes, I've been talking about this for a long time). This is Loki, now. From this angle you can not see the nicks, scratches, and snow shovel mark in the paint. But I promise you, it's there. If you are coming to the Fredericksburg, Virginia signing I have this weekend, you'll see it in person.

And this is the lovely color I am painting him. If you can't tell the difference, I don't want to know. Most exciting part? I'm also getting the windshield fixed so it will stop raining on the inside every time it rains on the outside.

This is probably only interesting to me. But because it is my blog, now you're stuck with the knowledge. This is where I say:


And go back to writing Secret Novel.

ETA: This is a car in Loki's New Color, which is "Tangerine Kandy." Though it is not Loki. Because please, those wheels?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Books That Make Me Happy

I just finished reading Francisco X. Stork’s latest, THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS, and I think I’m going to have a hard time reviewing it. I know why I liked it so well, and it’s the same reason why I liked his last novel (MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD). I’m just not certain it’s the most convincing-sounding reason for me to love a novel. It makes for a review consisting of mostly emotion and precious little fact. But I think I’m going to say it anyway.

Basically, it’s this: both of Stork’s novels leave me feeling convinced of the human race’s decency.

I could tell you what DEATH WARRIORS was about, but it’s one of those books that isn’t really about its plot summary (sulky boy intent on avenging his sister’s death meets a boy with cancer who changes his life). At best, it sounds maudlin. At worst, it sounds bleedingly depressing. The actual novel is neither of those things. Instead, it’s a novel about anger and identity -- the identity others give us, the identities we wear, and our actual identities that we might never find. It’s also about big abstract words like love and faith and grief. All things that are very unhelpful to throw around in a review, but Stork’s books seem to encourage that sort of thinking. It’s hard to feel unchanged after you close the cover.

Which is another reason why I love his books. They make you bigger inside after reading them. These people, these teens from all walks of life (and even without reading Stork’s bio, I believe in them) -- they feel real. Every bit of kindness in this novel is fought for, every spiritual (and I mean spiritual in the very broadest sense) milestone is bled for (sometimes literally), and for every moment where you sigh with the perfection of it, there are ten where you wince at the awkwardness and the painfulness and the realness of it.

As with all novels, I had some issues with it, but they didn’t end up being enough to take away from my ultimate cheerfulness about this book. The big one seems silly: I missed dialog tags. There were a lot of conversations where the speakers were not delineated and I got lost several times. Also, Pancho, the prickly narrator, takes some getting used to, but that’s the point. Neither were enough of a speed bump to stop me, however. 

It took me a year to read this book, even after I’d gotten an advanced review copy and also bought myself a hardcover while recalling the warm-fuzzy of reading MARCELO. I just was so afraid to read his next offering, thinking that the same, nameless magic that caught me in MARCELO couldn’t possibly be duplicated. But DEATH WARRIORS captures that same sense: that genuine kindness that you wish was real. It’s an incredibly spiritual book, a spirituality that defies labels. Highly recommended.

(as always, you can see my five-star reads on Goodreads).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Four Things on a Friday: Angst & Excitement

1. I am digustingly thrilled to announce that the Merry Sisters of Fate (that's me and my critique partners Brenna Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton) are doing a weird and strange anthology with my first editor, Yoda (whose real name is Andrew Karre). It's going to use the short stories we write on as a jumping off point, but it's also going to talk about the critiquing process, where we get our ideas from, what happens to those ideas after we write the story . . . and include our gmail chats, e-mails, and doodles/ outlines. Basically it's the anatomy of story-telling and I think it's going to be . . . something. Publisher's Weekly did a fantastic article about it here. We're also running an impromptu contest about it on Merry Sisters of Fate, too (and I also just redesigned the look, so you can let me know what you think).

2. I am going to be at the Williamsburg Public Library this evening for A Shivery Night That Lingers (get it? GET IT? I didn't name it). Just a reminder if you're in the area!

3. On Thursday morning at 3:15 a.m., I turned in a final draft of FOREVER to Editor Mixtape. Those of you who read my blog probably remember me saying something like this before. Well, this time, I mean it. That last draft I said that I turned in to David? I threw it out. Why yes, the whole thing, why do you ask? Well, I think I kept about 15-20k words. Maybe. Good thing, too, because this is the real draft. I don't know who that other draft belonged to, but it wasn't me. Only line that I will miss from the last draft:

"And it wasn’t like my life was defined by a desire to bump and grind with Sam Roth."

4. I know I'm behind on answering comments. That was because of the whole writing FOREVER again thing. I swear I will be catching up this week.

Now I'm off to get ready for the Williamsburg trip (it's raining, which makes me move more slowly. However, rain makes the dogs wet, and wet dogs always seem to go faster. Why is that?)

And I'm listening to playlists for Secret Novel, which I've learned may be coming out sooner than I thought . . .

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lament, the UK Edition!

Remember how I said I wouldn't be blogging much in the next few days? Well, I lied . . . because I've gotten the go ahead to share the cover for the UK edition of LAMENT, which is hitting stores in January of 2011. I love it. LOVE IT. What do you think?

Three Maggie Spotting Possibilities

1. I'm very very very flattered to be the keynote speaker at the 2010 KidLit Con in Minneapolis, in October, after getting back from my overseas tour (details to follow on that soooooon). I'll be talking about blogging as an author and reader, nuts and bolts and do's and don'ts and other things I've learned the hard way.

2. This month, on Friday the 13th, I will be in Williamsburg, Virginia, doing a library program at my old childhood library on Scotland Street. A Shiver Night that Lingers - details here!

3. And also for fellow Virginians, I will be signing in the brand new Joseph-Beth's bookstore in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on the 21st of this month. Right now it looks like it is from 2-4 p.m., I'll let you know if that changes. Their number in case you want to reserve a signed book is (540) 736-4560 x 1540.

Now, I'm totally on writing lock down until I turn in a completed draft of FOREVER that I'm happy with (yes, I'm revising, and yes, I'm picky), which I'm thinking will be Wednesday. As such, I should not touch the internet. Which means either there will be a dearth of blogging of a sudden slew of it, depending on how stuck I get.

Friday, August 6, 2010

These Are My Problems

I should be working, but instead I am being annoyed that I can't seem to find a super chunky black or dark brown shoe that doesn't say

1) I listen to Evanescence

2) I subscribe to anarchy magazines with ads for semi-automatics in the back, right next to the German Shepherd litter ads.

3) My fingernails are black, and so's my soul.

4) I am the fourth witch sister from Stardust.

5) I take small bills, please, and you can tuck them in my bra.

6) I'm rebelling. Against you. Against everything. Screw you. YOU TOO. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?

Okay, that last one's okay. Basically all I want is a giant shoe that will look sweet with a bell bottom. By sweet, I mean "could kick your butt." Or "weebles wobble but they don't fall down."

These are my problems.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

THE TOUR: Inadequate Photographic Round Up!

So it has taken me four days to work up the courage to attempt posting about my tour. The sheer daunting nature of this post will be more evident when you think about the fact that normally I fill an entire blog post with random events that last mere moments. So ten days in one post? Um. There will be photos. Photos are worth 1,000 words and that's the only way I can keep the word count down here.

The entire process was kicked off by an absolutely amazing launch event in Williamsburg. It involved almost 200 hundred people and a cake that looked like LINGER (amazingly, not the last LINGER cake I was to see on this tour). I could do a blog on just that event (or any of them, in fact, but why reinvent the wheel? Wastepaper Prose did a rundown here, including embarrassing photos).

Actually, speaking of embarrassing photos, I have discovered, through the beauty of the photographic medium, that I speak with my hands, something I didn't think I did. Also, my face does strange things approximately 98% of the time. No, no, don't say, you're perfectly nice-looking, Maggie. I don't mean that my face does unflattering things 98% of the time (although some of these things are indeed unflattering as well). I mean that my face cycles through an endless supply of weird facial expressions which would look excellent on a character from Calvin & Hobbes. The things you learn about yourself on tour. Look. See? The faces of Maggie.

So, Williamsburg. Cake. We also gave away the Sharpie Guitar there -- the raffle winners were a group of readers who wore shirts that said "We keep warm with coffee and Sam." I felt it was appropriate.

Then it was off to California (which is the name of a hornpipe which I'll play for you sometime, it's quite catchy). You guys already saw how I spent the first four days. Here's California, in photographs.

California meant more Linger cake, made by a reader (it must have taken forever). (Actually, I can't use that word anymore. It must have taken a VERY LONG TIME).

California meant giant crowds amassed in bookstores to see me. Actually, this was kind of true everywhere. This is going to take some getting used to. For starters, I need to stop swearing.

California meant being in L.A. where the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile stayed at my hotel. I'm going to take that as a portent of some kind.

California meant tour stops with fantastic book stores that set up gorgeous signings -- do you see the paper cranes from Linger hanging over my head in Glendale?

California meant getting a stuffed wolf puppet from Once Upon a Time in Montrose (thanks, guys!), meeting Margie Stohl, Kami Garcia, and Kaleb Nation (better known as Shiver Guy, or at least I like to think so). It also meant forgetting my wolf puppet in the backseat of Kaleb's car.

After California, it was on to Texas, first Houston, then Austin. Oh, Texas. I sort of love you. I think I could see myself in Texas. With a better tan.

This was Texas, outside Houston -- after my event there, my media escort drove me an hour and a half to do a Russian-spy style swap with my Austin media escort who took me the rest of the way.

And this was Austin. Weird, totally cool Austin, who had three bands I wanted desperately to see there and no time to see them. I die.

And here was the truck in Austin that I wanted to steal. My media escort, Kristen, was the best thing ever, and slowed down so that I could take a picture. That is what we call "casing the joint."

And Kristen also took me for cupcakes in Austin. For lunch. She knew me. She got me. Cupcakes are a lunch food. She also gave me a recipe for Truffle Brownies which was the best thing ever (I made it the second I got home. ohgoshgood).

And in case you really wanted to know what it was like, being at one of my tour events, Once Upon a Time in Montrose did a short video of Essence of Maggie.

Basically, what it comes down to is I'm so incredibly overwhelmed and grateful -- so many readers came hours and hours to see me, and husbands stood in line for hours for their wives, and moms for daughters, and it was just all very warming to the black cockles of my heart. Plus two weeks at #1 on the NYT list and this week at #3? Thank you, guys. What a crazy life.
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