Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Office of Stiefvater

This weekend, Lover and I and family of I all threw our backs out moving the rest of our stuff into the new House of Stiefvater. And as my brain is as liquified as my arms, I am going to merely post photos of my new office instead of actual content. The office, of course, is the first place in the house to look like a Real Place, followed by the kitchen, followed by . . . everything else. I have my priorities.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, and oh. On Monday, I think I will be able to show you the trailer I did for The Raven Boys, and ALSO start a contest for several advanced review copies for those of you who cannot come up to NYC and BookExpo to score one. This is exciting and nerve-wracking. Of course, my brain is still somewhat jellified from the move, so the exciting/ wracking-of-nerves is slightly muted as if from far away. More details on all that later. Until then . . .
[click on everything to make it bigger]



foreign editions and nonfiction!

Nonfiction & Foreign Editions

much of the fiction! (and some nonfiction overflow)(and my to-be-read shelf near the bottom)(except for the TBR shelf, nothing stays unless there's a chance of it being re-read)

 Fiction & TBR

Also, this:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

UK Events in June (also BEA)

This is just a quick, delighted post to say that I will be briefly in the UK in June, and my UK publishers have managed to squeeze in two public events among the non-public ones. I know it's not very widespread, but I will be back at some point after THE RAVEN BOYS, I swear. Plus, a little part of me is leaping up and down because one of my 2012 New Years' Resolutions was "Go to Wales." Hay-on-Wye just barely counts, but . . . it counts. IT TOTALLY COUNTS.

So here they are:

June 10th, 11:30 a.m., Hay Festival
Hay-on-Wye, UK
This is a ticketed event! Buy tickets early to prevent disappointment.
Facebook event page here.

June 11th, 6:30 p.m., Signing & Discussion
Waterstones, Bath, UK
Timing may be 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. — we're finalizing but I wanted to share it ASAP. So please confirm with store before traveling!
Facebook event page here.

For those of you headed to BEA this year, I have two signings at the show:

In-booth signing for THE RAVEN BOYS
June 5, 3-4 p.m. Booth 25

In-booth signing for THE CURIOSITIES with Brenna Yovanoff & Tessa Gratton
June 7, 12-1 p.m. Booth 2357

As always, all of my events are here. I know that I don't get EVERYWHERE, but I do my best to share the love. I do travel about half of the year, and I need some time to write and spend time with my family too!*

*I say this because I am guaranteed at least a dozen "BUT WHY DON'T YOU EVER COME TO SMALLVILLE, OH?????" "DO YOU HATE THE NORTH????" and "WHAT, NO CANADA?????" comments on every event post, ever. **

**I don't come to Smallville, OH, because it's inefficient for my publisher to send me to smaller towns. I do not, in fact, hate the north, of anywhere. In fact, the north of the UK is my favorite part. And Toronto treated me exceptionally well last time I was there so I'm sure I will be there again.***


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why I'm A Writer & Not a Fighter Pilot

I know what it means to manage my time, but my question is how do you know your goals?

When i read your blog i always have the feeling that you kept the invincibility of youth, that there's nothing that can come between you and your dreams, so how did you keep that?

I am finally an adult (or am supposed to be one...) and so many people tell me what is right or wrong that i'm not sure about my goals anymore and i slowly feel how this feeling of doing the right thing slips through my fingers. How did you keep true to yourself when i bet there where times when people disagreed with your dreams and goals?

This is a reader question on the blog post from last week, and I thought it was a really good one, so I asked if I could blog about it this week. I’m going to answer in reverse order, if that’s okay. And if it’s not, you can read the post backward.

How did you keep true to yourself when i bet there where times when people disagreed with your dreams and goals?

This one, actually, I’ve already answered here. Actually, and sort of here. Both of those posts sort of boil down to “ignore other people because their opinions don’t matter” which sounds terrible and is a gross over-simplification, but is a good starting point.

When i read your blog i always have the feeling that you kept the invincibility of youth, that there's nothing that can come between you and your dreams, so how did you keep that?

Why thanks. I kept it because I decided to keep it. I believe we only go round this lifetime once, and I believe in getting to the end of that lifetime with no regrets. I think the saddest story ever is the one that starts “this is what could’ve happened.” The story that involves settling for just okay instead of great. The story that ends up with you reminiscing about the past instead of looking to the future.

I’m depressing myself.

As far as things coming between me and my dreams, that’s true. I don’t think there’s too many things that can possibly do that. I mean, I know there are lots of obstacles out there, but I also think I’m stronger or at least more stubborn than any of them.

A big hurdle, for lots of people, is money. I realize lots of people have a much lower risk threshold than I do, but I would pretty much always rather sacrifice monetary security when it comes to having the life I’ve dreamed about. Money is . . . it’s just money. I walked out of my only legitimate post-college job to become a portrait artist, because it was just time to start trying for the life I wanted. As someone who lived not just a shoestring, but on the thread of a shoestring while getting my art business underway, I assure you that you need far less of this thing called money than you think you do. Whether or not you’re willing to give up cable and square footage and red meat in your diet in exchange for pursuing your goals is another question entirely.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. I respect people who have made their dreams come true. But I have just as much respect for people who are trying to make their dreams come true. It’s about the journey. And I think that seeking is the key to keeping that indefatigable dreaminess of youth.

I know what it means to manage my time, but my question is how do you know your goals?

Here is a short list of things I thought I wanted to do when I was younger:

- fighter pilot
- trial lawyer
- radio DJ
- comedian
- show jumper
- soundtrack composer
- rose hybridizer
- cartoonist
- 2D animator
- rally car driver
- screenwriter
- children’s book illustrator
- pastry chef
- history professor
- archeologist
- Robert Bruce fangirl

I used to tell people I felt lucky because I always knew what I wanted to do when I grew up, but I’ve come to understand from my teen journals that this is only the beauty of hindsight speaking. In reality, I basically wanted to do everything, and I had long, agonizing brainstorming sessions where I wondered how I could possibly be, for instance, both an animator AND a fighter pilot. I could’ve made any of the things on that list the goal for my life. But I settled on writing. Not just writing, but novel writing, and not just novel writing, but commercial fiction writing.

How did I narrow it down?

All of my career goals up there scratched some sort of itch of mine: how I wanted to be remembered after I was gone. How I wanted to see myself. How I wanted to look at the world. How I wanted to spend my day. How I wanted people to view me at cocktail parties. How I was most content. What I was most willing to happily devote years to improving at.

Many of the things on those list still satisfy one or more of the conditions above. But writing is the only thing that satisfies all of them. After I’m gone, I want people to have known me as a writer. I want to see myself as someone who finds stories everywhere. I want to look at the world through the lens of character arcs. I want every day to be different and unpredictable: some days writing, some days researching, some days touring, some days doing things I could’ve never imagined. I want to shift people’s lives in tiny ways through my stories; convince them that they’re all heroes too and make them look at nature and magic in a different way. I love to write, I love to get better at it, and I love that it really lets me do everything else on that list too, if I really want to. I never get tired of the work aspect of it. 

We have dreams for lots of reasons, but we don't have every dream for every reason. Once you narrow it down to one that fulfills everything you want, your real dream should be obvious. And then you just have to make it happen.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Working Moms and Next, Next, Next

This week has been a delightful one. First of all, my new Metloef bodhran (Irish drum) arrived in the mail on Monday, and I'm so looking forward to recording with it.


Secondly, the Old House of Stiefvater is getting pretty empty, and the New House of Stiefvater, two hours away is getting pretty empty (as is evidenced by the above video). Our move in date of the 31st, right before I head off to BEA, is looking actually plausible.

Thirdly, I have those two Virginia events (Fredericksburg and Alexandria) with John Corey Whaley tomorrow and the next day, and I adore Corey, and not just because I love his book and he looks like Samwise.

Fourthly, I am working on the sequel to THE RAVEN BOYS and it is going well, so everything in the world is rosy that can possibly be better by being rosy, and all things that are bad when rosy are not rosy at all. 

Anyway, all this delightfulness and rosiness reminded me that I haven't addressed reader questions in awhile, and there was one question that multiple readers asked in multiple ways, both in my blog and at last night's chat. Here it is:

Is your office in your home? If you are alone in a very quiet house all day with no children or husband underfoot, how do you get yourself going each day and stay motivated to write without dropping everything and putting in a load of wash? These are the kinds of things I wonder about my favorite authors... 

I have a question! Though I don't want to infringe on your privacy, so if you'd rather ignore it I totally understand. I'm just wondering how you balance young kiddos and writing - do they get to go on tour with you? :)

Thing 1 & Thing 2
I do indeed have children, Thing 1 and Thing 2. They predate my writing career by a very little bit, but not my art career, which had a lot of the same demands. Namely, that my office was in the house, there was a lot of travel, my hours were theoretically amorphous and flexible. I had the Stiefvater Things pretty early in life, so I basically have always had both children and a career.

Here's something that I should put right out front: both of those things are very important to me. I'm not going to do percentages or a pie chart, but I should tell you that I always knew I wanted a creative career and that having children was going to complement that dream, not crash it. I firmly believe that if you don't believe the same thing — that you are entitled to a career same as any other human of any other gender — you will not accidentally fall into an agreeable parent-career balance. 

 Now that that's out of the way, the practical nitty-gritties. Part of this question is really about time-management. I've blogged about this before. In some respects, kids, laundry, day jobs, cat litter boxes, lawn mowing, college courses, and freelance fighter pilot lessons are all the same: they are all demands on your time. And so it just comes down to prioritizing and being clever and honest about the time you really do have.

Next, the womb warts themselves: Things 1 and 2 have known for a very long time that my writing and art are important career things for me, and so they respect quiet time when I'm on deadline and they're home from school. And before they knew about careers and paying the rent, they had an established "quiet time" — at first they had a nap from 12-2 every day, and then, when they no longer napped, they knew they had to watch a movie in their room with the door closed or play quietly with the door closed or devise evil plans that will eventually come back to bite me with the door closed.

Next, next, Lover: My husband has always been supportive of my career, because he knew I took it seriously. If your Lover doesn't feel the same way, I highly suggest you get an upgrade.

Next, next, next: Last year, I was away from home more than I was home and I wrote two novels. Lover quit his job to help with the kids, and I brought all of them or some of them along when I could. But it's important to point out that before that, I was writing and touring and Lover was working full time himself, and we still pulled it off. We have a good parental network within an hour's drive, so that definitely helped, and we also were equally committed to each person getting down what they needed to get done. We wanted it to work. So we made it work. There is a way, I promise. I wrote Lament on Wednesdays only, from 4-6 p.m., because I was working such long hours with my art show stuff. It took me four months. It can be done, I PROMISE.

Next, next, next, last: Women. There is a lot of guilt associated with taking time for your career versus spending time nurturing children. Every time you leave the house and the kids have a babysitter or a substandard dinner or no bedtime story, our culture screams at us for being bad mothers. But guess what. Working mothers are not bad mothers. Women who have a sense of self-identity, either through a career or through a home-based activity, are women that kids respect. My father was on an air craft carrier for six months out of the year when I was a kid. I adored him and still do, and what's more — I'm pretty much just like him. So it's not the amount of time you spend sitting in the presence of your kids. It's how you use that time.

So: Prioritize. Educate those close to you. Surround yourself with like-minded people. And kick some ass.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Maggie Stiefvater & The Trampoline of Doom

Recall, gentle reader, that I promised you the tale of the Trampoline of Doom. Here is that tale. It's a short one. More like a encyclopedic entry in the Great Big Book of Items of Doom than anything else.

I came across it while I was in California for a wedding*. My entire extended family and I had rented a Very Spiffy House in Santa Barbara for the occasion. If you have not been to California or to Santa Barbara or met my family, I highly recommend it. All of these things offer a wide variety of activities. Below is a photo journal of such things.

Well, mostly I just played a lot of pool. I considered a photo montage of all of the days and times my sister took photos of my playing pool, but it wasn't really interesting to anyone but the pool table's mother. So you get just one.

maggie billiards 3

I also shopped for dresses for the ALA Printz event in June. Like an adult. Like a normal adult woman. I was shopping like a pro.

maggie the model 4

Uh, no, I didn't buy anything.

I also did some research for the sequel to THE RAVEN BOYS. This is the Chumash Painted Cave, which dates from the 1600s "or something." I'm paraphrasing from the historic marker.


Then I did more research by going to see one of the country's largest fig trees.

maggie and the giant fig 2

No. I don't think you get it. I said one of the country's Largest. Capital L.

Fig Tree, Santa Barbara

I also enjoyed senselessly unending sunshine and aggressively beautiful landscapes from the front yard of our rental.


Which is where I found the Trampoline of Doom.

trampoline cropped

Let me break this down for you, what you're seeing.


That's right, it's an in-ground trampoline, designed for safety. You can't jump off and tangle your limbs in anything except grass. Pretty brilliant. Also, you could hide bodies in the pit underneath it. That's a free bonus suggestion right there. Anyway, it's the paragon of safety. Until you zoom out.


Let me break down THIS scene for you.


That's right. This trampoline, far from being a paragon of safety, is actually a way to get rid of unwanted children. Tired of bad grades? Disappointing skin tone? Substandard room cleaning action? Simply tell them to go out to play on the trampoline and your problem is solved! Needless to say,

Thing 1 and Thing 2 mostly swam in the pool.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pieces of Pieces and Things and Stuff

I am finally, finally, finally back home. I was sort of back home last week, after being out on tour for two weeks, but then I had to fly back out to California for five days of sort-of wedding (don't ask.) and I had no brain for blogging. But today I am home. Finally, finally, finally. I need to do a blog post on both the Trampoline of Insanity and on handling critique as a writer and artist, but because I am behind on posting about bits and pieces, I'm going to first do a post about them. Piece #1: On May 15th, I am doing a live chat with Lucy Christopher, hosted by Figment and This is Teen. We'll be talking about how we build character and anything else you can think to ask us. Details here. Oh, in fact, here is my face inviting you to come:

Bit #2: I will briefly be in the UK in the middle of June. I'll be doing things like the Hay Festival. I don't know how many other public events I'll be scheduled for (it's largely a research trip and - gasp - vacation! what are these things!?), but I'll post them on Facebook and here when I get them.

Stuff #3: Domestically (that makes me think of vacuuming), I will be at BEA in New York City in June, too. Also ALA, in Anaheim. I don't have the final details on either of those things either, but I figured I should put that out there. Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, I'll be doing two events in my home stomping grounds in Virginia in just a little over a week. All of my events are always here.

Thing #4: Will Patton is narrating the audiobook of The Raven Boys, which comes out on September 18th, same as the hardcover. I really wanted him to do it, and I'm really glad he agreed to. His version of it is so compelling, and just today they've released the sample (including some Maggie-composed-music):


Piece #5: I have a new app on Facebook that lets you read the first two chapters of all of my books for free (including The Raven Boys). Oh, technology. What a mench.

Stuff #6: I didn't have a chance to talk about how much I adored touring with Siobhan Vivian, Elizabeth Eulberg, John Corey Whaley, and Daniel Handler (also known as Lemony Snicket), but I did. They're all lovely, weird people and I'd share a cookie with any of them. I think this photo of Corey, Daniel, and I is my favorite of the bunch.


Next up, later in the week: the Trampoline of Doom. (I first typed that as the Trampolice of Doom, which sounds like an important sci-fi short story that your dad read in the 70s.)
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