Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Find me elsewhere

I've officially decided to stop mirroring my blog content here on blogspot — sorry to all my subscribers on here, but it's just one extra step too many.

The official blog remains at www.maggiestiefvater.com/blog, and the unofficial one remains at Tumblr.

I'll leave the old posts up here as the critique partner finding ones, in particular, are still active.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Raven King Cover!

TADA. Here’s the cover for the last book in the Raven Cycle.
  The Raven King cover

Folks have been asking me what the actual release date is for quite awhile and I’ve been holding off until I got a definitive answer from Scholastic: it’s 4/26/16.

If you want to pre-order a signed book with an illustrated Something Extra (more about that later), Fountain Bookstore is the place to go: http://www.fountainbookstore.com/autograph-maggie.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

In Which Stiefvater Stops Being Such a ******e about NaNoWriMo

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 8.46.40 PM
Dear michiefen,

Traditionally, I have been somewhat of an ******e about NaNoWriMo. I began being an ******e about it in 2010, when I tried to use NaNo to write The Scorpio Races, and persisted in being somewhat of an ******e for years. We hissed at each other in the halls. NaNoWriMo stabbed my tires in the Target parking lot. I squeezed pimples into its Starbucks latte.

But this year I was driving along in my car shortly before it caught fire and I was thinking about NaNoWriMo, and in this blessed and liminal space I realized that my problem with NaNoWriMo was that I was too old. No, not too old. Too world-weary. No. Not too world-weary. It was just — I had spent too many years securely in the saddle to remember what it was like to be unable to even get a foot in the stirrup. I didn’t remember what it was like not knowing if you could actually finish a novel, because I had finished my first novel long, long ago (I was 11 or so. It was terrible. The first chapter was about dogs test-driving a car). I had lots of problems with my writing, but none of them involved the question of whether or not I could hit 50,000 words in a month. The question was not if I could make a word count. It was if I could make that word count story-shaped.

I probably still have that problem.

Anyway, this year, I can recognize that many writers are existing in that stage of still finding their stirrups, even if I will not be joining you in the official NaNoWriMo trenches. And in light of my early writing days, I do have a tip: don’t begin writing until you know one of these two things:

 1) your ending*

 2) why you’re writing this novel**


*If you’re trying to use NaNoWriMo to get better at writing, I’d recommend trying to write a complete story during the month of NaNo, even if it is less than 50k. I wrote a lot of fiction before I hit college, and the novels that taught me the most are the ones I actually made it to the end of. The one that taught me the least is the one I simply revised eleven times. As I learned from my time atMerry Sisters of Fate, my collaborative short story blog, you learn a lot more about story-making when you have to do all parts of it instead of just lovingly polishing the ugly seams out of something written by a less sophisticated version of yourself.

**Sometimes you don’t know the end of the story because you don’t know how the characters are going to play out and nothing you imagine for them feelstrue. You need to write it out. In this case, I recommend knowing why you’re writing the story so that you can return to that mission statement again and again as a touchstone.

After every chapter you write, ask yourself if that chapter has gotten you closer to 1 or 2. And if the answer is no, delete it. Start again the next day. Don’t be afraid to delete it just because you need the wordcount. A really inspired writing session can give you 10-30k words in a night. It’s always better to chase the story than the wordcount.

 And don’t get freaked out. If you don’t make it, you can always post a surly Dear John letter on the internet for the next three or four years. It worked for me.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

Matt Sobel Set to Direct The Scorpio Races for Focus Features

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 3.44.54 PM

matt sobel


stiefvater normandy

  Details here!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tarot Deck Release

I always forget to update the site with the bonus stuff that accompanies releases, so I'm feeling pretty virtuous for remembering to do it this time.

My tarot deck comes out September 8th in the U.S., a month later overseas. I've done a bonus card that'll come with every order placed with my friends at Fountain Bookstore. A lot of my bonus stuff is for pre-order only, but every tarot order from Fountain will come with a card forever and always, but the pre-ordered decks (every order placed before the 8th) will have a signed card.

 I've never worked with this printer before, so I'm not sure how they'll turn out, but fingers crossed.

  Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 9.13.57 AMstiefvater tarottumblr_nlq5xy172k1rk5a9yo5_1280

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Look, Do You Want This, or Not?

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 11.05.12 PM
Dear jeschas,

When I was something that lived in the 80s, I used to listen to Everybody Wants to Rule the World and daydream about one day being grown up and famous. I’m only vaguely grown up now, but I’m only vaguely famous, too, so that’s all right.

One will never get famous surfing Pinterest or Tumblr.

This is how I get myself to my writing place: I take myself there and I do the work. Sometimes I picture it as a movie. Sometimes I narrate it to myself. Sometimes I play music. Sometimes I write it longhand; sometimes I do it standing on my desk; sometimes I recite it out loud to myself while driving in the car. Sometimes I scratch it into my hand whether or not I have a pen. I do whatever trick I think I have to take this abstract thing and turn it into a concrete thing.

 Here’s the thing about being a writer, or a musician, or an artist, or any sort of creative person. The ones who make it are the ones who make themselves do it. They’re the ones who practice even when it seems like they aren’t getting any better. They’re the ones who open up their work-in-progress when their friends are going out hey-are-you-coming-with-us — even if they know that thisnovel is not the one that will be good enough to get published, because they know that practice is the only way to get to the one that will be good enough to be published. They’re the ones who send out query letters and hear no and they send out more query letters and they hear no again and they send out query letters and they hear no again. They’re the ones that hear no as not yetand nothing is ever a failure, it’s only a complicating plot point in the arc of their life. They’re the ones who realize that there’s no point tricking your way into publication, because the point is to write something other people fall in love with; that’s what being a successful storyteller is. They’re the ones who are hungry for it. No, they’re the ones who are starving for it.

They’re a little unhinged.

Everyone else is everyone else.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

On Being Quite a Character

question for stiefvater 
Dear bleep-blop-bedroom-pop,

When I was a small and angry child, I used to pass my time in a variety of creative pursuits: making masks out of paper plates, writing stories with names like Bone at the Pound*, making paper dolls of my family, digging up the entire side yard and terraforming it into a miniature mud-and-stick village for one inch tall inhabitants, and grooming my terriers into the ridiculous shapes that the American Kennel Club mandated for show-readiness.

*this sounds like it should be the kind of fanfiction one can easily find on Tumblr, but I swear it was actually about a dog actually at a facility for lost animals.

The creative activity I’d like to call your attention to is the making of paper dolls. There were many iterations of these over the years. The early ones were fanciful and looked nothing like my family, the middling ones looked precisely like my family, and the final ones merely used my family’s faces for models. By the time I got to the last set that I can remember — a rather elaborate extended family entirely appareled in clothing accurate to 1910-1920 — I had learned to use what I could from reality and invent the rest as it suited the greater good.

This is how I tend to think about the concept of putting yourself into a novel. My early novels were about characters who looked nothing like me, the middling ones were characters who accidentally looked too much like me, and the final ones occasionally had characters with a quite strong and intentional resemblance to myself in them.

The important word in all of this is intentional.

You can put as much or as little of yourself into a novel as you would like so long as you are aware of what you’re doing and are able to make yourself into an actual character, not merely a biased facsimile of yourself. This can be a harder task to accomplish than it sounds; we humans are not very good at being objective about ourselves. It’s far easier to steal someone else’s life or personality and realize which parts you can edit out because they aren’t useful to the narrative. It’s also far easier to realize why someone else might be the way they are. Oh, you say to yourself, it’s obvious that this other person has developed an aversion to authority because of the influence of this other person in their childhood! Far harder to search your own soul and realize why you are the way you are — to realize why you have your most basic guiding principles. The analysis, which you’ll need for creating any character, asks for a somewhat awe-inspiring level of self-awareness if you’re talking about stylizing yourself.

You also need to be able to chuck the parts of you and your life story that don’t serve the story. It doesn’t matter how important they were to your life. If they don’t fit the story, out they come. If you aren’t able to think of yourself as a character, to stylize, to shape yourself into narrative, and if you aren’t willing to edit and change that character until the youness may indeed be unrecognizable, don’t do it. Save it for your autobiography (mine will be called EVERYTHING MUST GO: THE MAGGIE STIEFVATER STORY).

The final thing I will say is to be certain you are making only one character into you, otherwise you’ll end up with an entire paperdoll family bearing your face and they’ll all look the same when you dress them up in their World War I uniforms for that riveting game of Let’s Play Everyone Gets Trench Foot.

Also, I suggest changing your name, unless it really is an autobiography. Otherwise everyone will say, “Bleep-blop-bedroom-pop, did you base bleep-blop-bedroom-pop on yourself?”



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Pip Bartlett April/ May Tour Dates

I'm delighted to be creeping closer to the release date for Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, the middle grade project I've written with Jackson Pearce.

pip bartlett interior shot

Early reviews have been lovely:

Publisher's Weekly says: "Fantasy fans will delight in Pip’s humorous adventures in a world whose mix of the magical and the modern feels like a gentler cousin to the ones featured in the authors’ respective YA books."

 Kirkus says: "Stiefvater outdoes herself in the illustrations with portraits of hopelessly cuddly Griffins, Grims and other generally fearsome monsters sporting big, winsome eyes. Stay tuned for more hilarious ructions. It's a distinct change of pace for two authors better known for intensely romantic teen fantasies, but they carry it off with aplomb."

Barnes & Noble says: "A superlative series starter from the winning pair of Maggie Stiefvaster and Jackson Pearce. Editor's recommendation."


Jackson & I will be touring for a little over a week when it comes out, hitting up some of my favorite bookstores. A few of them have times to-be-determined, but the dates are final:

4/28: University Book Store, Seattle, WA 7 p.m.
4/30: Powell’s Books, Beaverton, OR 7 p.m.
5/1: Barnes & Noble, Portland, OR 6 p.m.
5/2: A Children’s Place, Portland OR 1 or 2 p.m. (Time TBD)
5/4: Barnes & Noble, Layton, UT 6 p.m.
5/5: Provo Library at Academy Square, Provo, UT
7 p.m. 5/7: Wild Rumpus Books, Minneapolis, MN (Time TBD)
5/8: Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, MN 6:30 p.m.
5/12: Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA: (Time TBD)

Even though Jackson & I are better known for our YA projects, these events are going to be focused on delighting 9-12 year olds — there'll be drawing and animal talk and a dearth of swearing. I'm happy to sign my YA stuff in line, as long as you've also bought a book from the store to support the venue, but the content of our talk and the questions we take will be for the kids. Those of you hoping to see me for my YA stuff, I'll be headed out later in the year after THE RAVEN KING releases.

Those of you who can't make it to a tour event but would desperately like a signed copy for the urchin in your life, know that I've once again paired up with Fountain Bookstore. Every copy they sell will have this bookplate signed by Jackson and I:

 Pip Bartlett Bookplate 

And every copy ordered before the US release date of April 28th will also have a doodle from me inside it. The link for that is here

 (It'll be exciting to be back in Utah without a broken car)

Friday, January 16, 2015


Today, I got a few advanced review copies of Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, my joint project with my friend Jackson Pearce. And also: my first book illustration credit. Lover galloped into the room with the package and waved my drawings in front of me. It felt pretty marvelous to see it in person.

 pip bartlett interior

pip bartlett arc pip bartlett and maggie stiefvater  

 (it's for the 8-12 age group, officially) (it comes out April 28th)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Critique Partner Love Connection

It's time for some hook-ups. Namely, the 2015 Critique Partner Love Connection.

As many of you already know, I have two critique partners (Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff) whom I love dearly. For the last 6+ years, they've read everything I wrote before my editor ever got a look at it. Tessa and Brenna critique, suggest, support, and mock whenever I need critique, suggestions, support, or mockery. Our critique group is the result of a long search — I went through numerous writers' groups and one-on-one readers, and always felt that the edits were missing something. I wanted to be critiqued, and yet I never wanted to act upon the critiques I got. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to find critique partners who enjoyed the same sort of story-telling that I did; critique partners who weren't always suggesting that I turn my novel into the sort of novel that I didn't want to write. Also critique partners who communicated in the same way as me — we do everything via gchat, informally, without structure or rules.

So. I found Tessa and Brenna by posting a match-up exactly like this one, and every year since then, I've done a match-up for others to use. In the years in between, other resources for crit partners have appeared on the internet, and I keep thinking I'll stop getting requests to post one here. If anything, the requests have multiplied. Possibly it's because the most difficult part of the critique partner search remains the task of finding a human who enjoys the same sorts of story-telling as you — maybe the mere fact of having me in common maybe takes some of that odiousness away. Whatever the reason, I keep getting asked, so here it is.

Here are the rules, such as I ever have rules:

STEP ONE: Post a comment saying the age range (adult, YA, MG) of your project, a brief, one-sentence blurb about your book (or just the genre if you don’t want to share more than that), and whether or not you have an agent, etc.*. Also include the last book you read that you loved and also the book you feel epitomizes you as a reader. If you write in a language other than English, include that info with the language in all caps so it's easy to find while skimming the comments. Finish with a way to contact you.

*You don't have to include the agent/ publication information unless it's important to you to find a critique partner who is also agented/ published. I was agented/ published when I met Tessa/ Brenna; they were not. It depends on the sort of support you're looking for.

STEP TWO: If someone else in the comments sounds like a possible match, send them a message saying so and find out if it’s mutual. If it is, exchange the first 50 pages of your manuscripts, critique them, and return said critiques. If either of you doesn’t feel like the crit relationship is working at that point, you get to smile and say thanks and walk away without any questions asked. This is VERY IMPORTANT. This ability to shake hands and part ways without hard feelings is the reason why this process works. Sometimes it takes a few exchanges before you realize it's not a good match. Don't feel pressured into sticking with each other — remember that this is honest speed dating and a 'not for me!' is not a rejection based upon merit. 

NOTE: I myself am not looking for critters. Two partners is enough for me — I can’t keep up with anymore. I recommend definitely two or three partners for best results. That way when someone says “this sucks!” and someone else says “does not!” you can be the tie breaker. But if they both say “this sucks!” and you say “does not!” it means you’re wrong.

FURTHER NOTE: I don't read the comments, really. My imaginary assistant Halfred and I monitor them infrequently only for spam-deletion purposes.

I'll be mirroring this post on my website, Facebook, and Tumblr, so check the other comments there as well.

It delights me when writers come up through my signing line and let me know they met their critique partners through me. I can't imagine writing professionally without Tessa and Brenna, so it's nice to think I can pay that forward. Happy hunting.
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