Thursday, April 24, 2014

Other Carrie Ryans, crazy-coincidences, and books

As it turns out, there are several Carrie Ryans out there and unsurprisingly I'll sometimes get an email intended for one of them.  Sometimes it's spam in which case I just delete it, sometimes I'll have been accidentally signed up for something (Dear Carrie Ryan who joined Match.com -- I have your matches... email me and I'll move the account over to you :), but more often than not, the email is something important.  In those cases, I'll respond to the person to let them know that I'm not the Carrie Ryan they're looking for.

(and whenever I do that, I always say to myself, "These aren't the droids you're looking for")

So yesterday I get an email for a different Carrie Ryan and I let them know they have the wrong one.  They apologize and thank me -- standard stuff.  I didn't really think much about the fact that my signature on my emails lists my books.

But then I got another email from them.  Turns out, the sender's niece just happened to know who I was because she'd recently read my book.  How crazy is that?!  Of course I'm thinking it was The Forest of Hands and Teeth since that's the one most people are familiar with.  

Nope!  Turns out she'd recently read The Map to Everywhere, the middle grade fantasy adventure that I wrote with my husband that doesn't come out until November.  As far as I know, ARCs have just started going out and so far we haven't really heard back from anyone who has read it.  And I have to admit, knowing that ARCs are out there, that people are going to start reading this book that I love so much... it's terrifying!  Like, nail-bitingly stressful waiting for that first response.

Thankfully, she loved it!  I can't even begin to tell you how much that made my (and JP's) day!  Our week!!  But what really blows my mind and what I love so much about all of this, is that the first "in the wild" feedback we've gotten for Map came from the niece of a person who just happened to email the wrong Carrie Ryan about something important.

It's the kind of thing that if you put it in a book, no one would believe you!  It actually reminded me of the time my mom lent her ARC of Forest to her friend who took it on a flight and ended up sitting next to Vania Stoyanova -- a friend of mine from the book world.  This was months before Forest came out and when my mom's friend pulled it out, Vania was like, "Hey! I know that book! I've been wanting to read it!"

Here are these two random strangers sitting next to each other on a plane and they both have something in common: me.  Which they'd never have figured out if one of them hadn't happened to have one of the few advanced copies of Forest that existed at the time.

It makes me wonder, how often does stuff like that happen and we miss it?  How often are we surrounded by all these tiny, co-incidental connections that we have no idea about?  If anything, it makes you realize just how small this world really is.

And it makes me so crazy thankful that someone emailed the wrong Carrie Ryan yesterday and that I responded to let them know :)




Friday, December 06, 2013

Winning NaNo (+ free story!)

It feels a bit bizarre to be blogging about NaNoWriMo on December 6th, but such is life.  I've blogged about NaNo many times before -- I'm a big fan of it because it's how I ended up writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  Did I "win" NaNo that year? Nope.  I think I reached about 20,000 words, so I wasn't even close (conversely, I hit 30k words this year and (a) I wasn't even participating in NaNo and (b) I stopped drafting mid-month).

For me it's not just about "winning" NaNo -- it's about indulging your inner writer.  Allowing yourself to focus on writing, to daydream about story, to put off the chores and find extra time to write.  To me, if you end NaNo energized, head spinning with ideas -- that's a win.

HOWEVER, if you did happen to hit that 50k word goal and "win" this year, there are some perks :)

 One of them is that Kobo Writing Life is giving away 10 Free ebooks to winners and my zombie collection, The Dead and Empty World, happens to be one of them :)  Here are the details: http://nanowrimo.org/winner-goodies.  I'm a big fan of Kobo because they've partnered with the American Booksellers Association (indie bookstores), so to be chosen as one of the books they're giving away is a huge honor!

Another prize this year is Scrivener and I can't tell you how much I LOVE Scrivener! Seriously, this is a tool that changed the way I write.  I keep meaning to write a post about it, but I've never really figured out how without lots of spoilerific screenshots.  Before Scrivener, I'd have about five Word windows open at any given time: one with an outline, one with notes, one tracking word count, one with cut words, and one with the actual WIP.  If I wanted to double check a fact, I had to scroll scroll scroll until I found the scene.  Even numbering chapters was arduous (I can't tell you how many times I skipped a number because I lost track!).

With Scrivener, all that's now in one place.  It's just like each Scrivener file is a big box holding EVERYTHING having to do with that book: all the notes, all the drafts, all the words, all the thoughts, all the images.  Plus, it's incredibly stable -- it autosaves every few seconds and to date I've never lost anything I've written (knock on wood!).

I know that for a lot of people, their first look at Scrivener can be overwhelming because there are SO many tools and options.  But really, the only thing you need to learn how to do is create a doc, and start typing.  All that other stuff is just there if you want to use it.  For example, it has a great notecard system -- I don't use it.  I'm not a notecarder, so I ignore it.  I have friends, however, who LOVE the notecards but hate the snapshot function (I'm not sure how JP and I could have co-written our MG without the snapshot function!).

Anyway, all of that is to say that if you "won" NaNo (or even if you didn't!), you should check out Scrivener.  I'm pretty sure they still offer a free trial if you want to test drive it.  And you don't actually have to start out with a new project.  I began using Scrivener in the middle of The Dead-Tossed Waves and I just imported that manuscript and separated it out by hand (took about 30 min).  Good thing, too, that program seriously saved my sanity when it came to editing that book - lol!

So, to all of you out there who drafted 50k words in November and "won" NaNo: Congrats! Go claim your prizes!  To everyone else who participated in NaNo but didn't hit that 50k goal, I still consider you a winner because you spent a month writing :)  So here's a prize for you: a free copy of my zombie short story Flotsam & Jetsam.

Now, just because November's over doesn't mean it's time to stop writing :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Zombies on Sale! (free gift with purchase for Halloween!)

Unsurprisingly, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and this year I have a special treat!  Earlier this month I released The Dead and Empty World, [Amazon | Barnes & Noble | kobo] a collection of reprinted short stories set in the Forest of Hands and Teeth world. To celebrate the release (and because who doesn’t want to read about zombies on Halloween?), I’ve put the collection on sale! 

For the next few days, you can get the entire collection for $0.99 — the same price as just one short story. That’s five stories for the price of one! If discount zombies aren't enough of an incentive, I’m also offering a free gift with purchase :)

For the first 100 people to email me with proof of purchase (details below), I’ll drop a gift in the mail to you. Everyone will receive a signed bookplate with a note plus one of the following:
  • 50 people will receive either a miniature glow in the dark zombie or zombie dog; 
  • 10 people will receive a Forest of Hands and Teeth button; 
  • 10 people will receive a line of magnetic poetry; 
  • The rest will receive bookmarks until they run out.  
The collection is available at Amazon (here), Barnes & Noble (here), and Kobo (here), and this sale is for a limited time!  So Happy Halloween, and a HUGE thanks to all of my readers for letting me write what I love: zombies :)

**Important Details**
  • Email carrie@carrieryan.com to redeem the gift;
  • Please put “Happy Halloween!” in the subject line; 
  • Proof of purchase can include forwarding an order confirmation or receipt (making sure to delete any personal information); a screen shot of the purchase confirmation; or anything else you can think of to show you’ve bought it;
  • If you would like me to personalize the signed bookplate, please be sure to let me know who I should make it out to;
  • Make sure to put your mailing address in the email and if you have a preference for the extra gifts (first come first served!);
  • If you’re under 18, please make sure you have your parent or guardian’s permission to email me;
  • I’ll delete all emails once the gifts have been mailed next week so that I don’t retain the addresses; 
  • Open to international readers;
  • Any questions related to the rules, please ask on my Facebook page here here where I’ll try to answer them.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Dead and Empty World

So I've been keeping this under wraps because it's a project I've been working on for a while and I wasn't sure when it would be finished... but now it's done and I'm absolutely thrilled to announce the release of my new short story collection, The Dead and Empty World! [to buy: Amazon | B&N | Kobo]

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Here's the official description:

“Queen of the Undead, Carrie Ryan, takes readers once again to the world of The Forest of Hands and Teeth." -- SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL on "Bougainvillea." 
From a life raft cast adrift in the middle of the ocean to the attic of a suburban garage; from the heart-pounding moments just after the dead begin to rise, to the ravaged world generations later, the five stories in The Dead and Empty World present a chilling portrait of what it takes to survive – or not – the zombie apocalypse. 
This 39,000 word collection contains five previously published stories and never before published bonus materials, including background information on each story, easter eggs, and an essay detailing the inspiration for the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
So why this collection and why now? First of all, it's almost Halloween, so what better time to debut a collection of zombie stories?  But also, I've been planning on putting this collection together for quite a while, and finally, with the help of Jeremy West and everyone else at Red Creative Design, I've been able to make it happen (thanks Jeremy!!).

Even though I’d always dreamed about becoming an author when I grew up, if you’d told me that I’d end up writing about zombies I’d have laughed. Not just because I was the kind of kid who refused to watch scary movies, but also because I’d always assumed I’d write romance novels. But when my husband took me to go see the Dawn of the Dead remake, I became obsessed with zombies (and trust me, no one was more surprised than I was!).

I wrote The Forest of Hands and Teethbecause I was fascinated with the idea of a world generations after the zombie apocalypse – where zombies were a part of every day life to such an extent that you couldn’t imagine a world without them. But more than that, I’m fascinated with how people survive when everything around them changes – when the world they’ve known becomes unrecognizable.

To that end, I began writing short stories set in the same world as The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Some of them I used to explore characters from the books (Sister Tabitha in the story “Hare Moon”) and some of them I used to play out my worst nightmares (being stuck in a life raft with someone who’d been bitten as in “Flotsam & Jetsam”). In many I tested out escape plans to determine whether they’d be successful (“A Game of Firsts” and “Bougainvillea”) and in some I just wanted to know how to build a life in a terrible world (“Scenic Route”). The Dead and Empty World represents my own struggle to determine what it means to do more that simply survive – but to actually live life despite the obstacles – dead or alive – that stand in the way.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Author T.A. Barron coming to Charlotte on October 14th!




I love when authors come through Charlotte, especially when those authors write Middle Grade novels.  And next week, T.A. Barron, author of the Merlin Saga and the forthcoming Atlantis Rising, will be speaking at Park Road Books on October 14th at 5pm.  You can find out more by visiting his website here, or the Park Road website here. I hope to see you there!!!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Fall 2013 YA Scavenger Hunt!! (now closed)



The Fall 2013 YA Scavenger Hunt is now over, but stay tuned to the YASH website for updates on future hunts! But even though this hunt may be over, I'm going to leave up the post about Beth because I'm such a huge fan of hers :) Enjoy!!


PRESENTING BETH REVIS!

Beth Revis

I'm quite the lucky author because today I get to host Beth Revis on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! I'm a huge fan of Beth as a person, friend, and author. I can still remember reading Across the Universe,her debut novel. I was fortunate to receive an early copy of the book, but I'd made a deal with myself that I was only allowed to read it if I was working out at the gym. Of course, I couldn't put it down which meant I spent *a lot* of time at the gym! 

And she just keeps getting better and better -- trust me, I've read what's next :) It's amazing!


HERE'S A BIT MORE ABOUT BETH:

Beth Revis is the New York Times and IndieBound bestselling author of the Across the Universe trilogy, as well as several in-world short stories published in various anthologies. She lives in rural North Carolina with her husband and dogs. 

Currently, she is working on a new science fiction trilogy forthcoming from Razorbill/Penguin. 

And you can find out more about her (and BUY HER BOOKS!) by clicking here!


CHECK OUT BETH'S EXCLUSIVE CONTENT:

Thanks for hosting me, Carrie! Today I wanted to talk about inspiration, and how you never really know where it comes from. Or at least, I don't. When I started writing SHADES OF EARTH(available in paperback next month!), I went into it with a basic philosophy. In my favorite television show, Joss Whedon's FIREFLY, there's a scene where a character says, basically, the only way to really know someone is to see him at his worst.
 
The Teachings of Shan Yu (Firefly/Serenity... by mnemosyne23 Let's ignore the fact that the character that most embraces that philosophy is one of the worst villains of the entire show. But that's the basic philosophy that inspired SHADES OF EARTH.I had these characters who I loved--Amy and Elder--and, well, I had to put them to the volcano's edge. So everything I did to them was touched, at least in part, from that philosophy. But, of course, there were other things that influenced my book. Can you spot them all? Each thing in the picture below had a direct influence on something in SHADES OF EARTH.
To test your knowledge and learn more about how each thing influenced the writing of SHADES OF EARTH, just click here!

And to buy SHADES OF EARTH, click here!

Shades of Earth



Monday, July 29, 2013

Friday August 2! Come see me, Beth Revis, and Aprilynne Pike in Huntersville!!

I'm so excited to have a local event this week!  I'm even more excited that I get to share it with two amazing New York Times Bestselling authors, Beth Revis and Aprilynne Pike.  Aprilynne is celebrating the release of her latest book, Earthbound!  I'll be sharing more about my upcoming projects (maybe even reading a bit from them?).

When: Friday, August 2 at 7:00 pm

Where: Birkdale Barnes & Noble in Huntersville (outside of Charlotte)

What: Aprilynne Pike, Beth Revis, and I will be chatting about whatever interests you!  Writing, reading, YA, MG -- anything you can think to ask, we'll be there to answer!  Plus we'll be signing books.  Come hang out!!  I promise you won't want to miss these two authors -- they're so much fun!

Monday, April 29, 2013

New Cover and New Story!

New Cover Available 5.14.13
 Hi all!  I have two super exciting bits of news to share!  The first is that The Forest of Hands and Teeth is getting a new cover!  I have to admit that one of the really fun (though sometimes terrifying) parts of being an author is seeing a cover for the first time.  It's just always so fascinating to see your book through someone else's eyes.  And I've been really lucky to have had really amazing covers so far!  I love the direction they've taken with this latest one -- it feels a little darker than the other two, a bit more like a zombie story :)

My understanding is that this new cover will be available on May 14, 2013 but unfortunately I don't know what that means in terms of availability (i.e. when stores will start carrying it rather than the older cover).  As I find out more, I'll make sure to post any updates on my twitter feed!

The second exciting bits of news is that to celebrate the new cover, I've written a new original short story set in the Forest of Hands and Teeth world!  Similar to Hare Moon, this short story, What Once We Feared, will only be available in digital formats and you can get it anywhere ebooks are sold: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Google [I'll add more links as they become available - some sites don't have a way to pre-order digital works].

eOriginal Story available 5.14.13
What Once We Feared is a story set right at the moment the Return (aka zombie apocalypse) hits and follows a group of teens trying to survive.  Here's the flap copy:

When the zombie apocalypse hits and the dead begin to rise, Jonah and his friends are on a class field trip downtown.  Panicked, they make a split-second decision to seek shelter in the Overlook, an apartment complex built like a fortress on the edge of town.  But as they begin to face the realities of what it will take to survive, they realize that while making the decision of where to run was easy, living out the consequences of that decision may be impossible.  From Carrie Ryan, the New York Times bestselling author of the Forest of Hands and Teeth books, What Once We Feared is an original digital short story about facing a world that is forever changed and in which survival means more than merely escaping the undead.
This is a story several years in the making!  I've mentioned it before, but I spent most of my life avoiding scary movies and it wasn't until I was a second year law student and had just started dating my now-husband, JP, that I saw my first zombie movie (I still have no idea how he talked me into it!).  The movie was the Dawn of the Dead remake and it pretty much sparked my obsession with zombies.

But even then, that obsession was more of a joke between JP and me.  More than anything, it was a really fun thought experiment in world-building: how would you survive? Where would you go? What would happen to the world?  The release of Max Brooks's Zombie Survival Guide only helped to feed my interest, which was also sustained by a diet of any zombie book, movie, or graphic novel I could find.

One of my favorite things to do is to make up stories when I'm on the edge of sleep -- for as long as I can remember, this is how I've put myself to bed at night.  Often, after Dawn of the Dead, the stories I'd make up would be about surviving the zombie apocalypse.  When I lived in Durham, NC, I thought about how I'd fortify the apartment and so naturally, when I moved to Charlotte after law school I had similar thoughts about the new apartment.

And that's the inspiration for What Once We Feared: trying to survive the zombie apocalypse in that apartment.  How to fortify it, how to stock up provisions, how to keep safe, etc.

I loved writing the Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy because I enjoyed figuring out what our world would look like hundreds of years after the zombie apocalypse.  What happens when the zombies become an every day part of life?  But at the same time, I've always loved reading about survival during and after a disaster itself -- how characters cope when every aspect of their normal lives is shattered.

So I wanted to write a story that took place during that time -- from the first signs of the zombie outbreak.  One of the aspects of the Dawn of the Dead remake I love so much is the immediacy of survival that leads to the relief of safety that then turns into the realization of what it will take to survive long term.  What makes something like a zombie apocalypse so terrifying is that you're forced to make quick decisions and then you have to live with those decisions.  For example, you can live a long time in a mall with a horde of zombies outside, but you can't live there forever.  What looks like a brilliant decision at the time may end up being a terrible decision long term.

That's what I wanted to write about in What Once We Feared: the decisions we make -- that we're forced to make -- under extreme pressure and the fallout of those decisions.  But also, I just really love zombies and I wanted to write about running away from them, fighting them off, and getting to safety.  Those are always some of my favorite parts of any zombie story :)

So yeah -- What Once We Feared: the zombie apocalypse, a group of friends, and an apartment complex.  Who will survive?  The story is 7500 words and will be available May 14, 2013!