Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I love Halloween -- even more so now that I write about zombies :) There's just something to be said for being able to flex the creative muscles and come up with a costume. I've also really started enjoying being a homeowner in a trick-or-treat neighborhood.

Right now, JP and I camped out in the living room, the outside of the house decorated with Marcus the Carcus and our talking bats Heckle and Jeckle. The ghost pirate on the front door is turned off for now cause he tends to scare the kids. Inside we have the fire going, a large bowl of our favorite candy, and a couple of bottles of wine. Oh, and pizza is on the way :) Outside I can hear kids laughing.

When we were in law school, one of the biggest and most scandalous parties of the year was always at Halloween. Sketch-tacular!! I'd tell you my costumes, but I don't know you too well ;) I will say that it was at one of these parties that JP and I really started flirting. I guess it's that "seeing a friend in a new light" kind of things.

What are some of y'all's favorite Halloween traditions and memories?

Ooop, there goes the door bell!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Choices, choices: Halloween Style!

While I have several posts up my sleeves and ready to amuse this week, today I'm sending you elsewhere. The lovely and talented Manuscript Mavens, with the help of a few friends, have been concocting a choose your own adventure Halloween story.

Let me tell you, I have never laughed so hard as I have reading this story. It takes turns you would never believe and I encourage everyone to read it!! It's got everything a reader could ever want!

Today is my contribution to the fray. Those of you who don't know my writing style, I'm bleak and dark and angstly. But not this time. This time I tried to expand beyond my comfort zone. To break all sorts of rules (what's a little POV head-hopping among friends, right?). So be gentle, dear reader :)

Without further ado, may I present Day 9 of the Manuscript Mavens Halloween Choose Your Own Adventure. Let me know what you think and don't forget to vote on your favorite choice for Julie Leto to bring the story home!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Successful Query Letters

All this week authors are posting their successful query letters on fangs_fur_fey. I posted mine here. I have a love/hate relationship with query letters. On the one hand, now that I'm done writing them, I love them. I love to see how people boil their story down. I love to see what kinds of stories people are coming up with. I love to see how someone can take a pretty formulaic medium and use it to make us want to ask for more. On the other hand, I hated having to boil my story down -- I couldn't figure out what was important and what wouldn't. I hated having to try to read an agent's mind as to what they wanted. I hated the terror that I wouldn't be adequately representing my book and that the premise the agent was rejecting was not the premise of my book at all. Also, I was afraid I'd get rejected for something as stupid as saying "thank you" in my letter to an agent that didn't like to be thanked.

That's one reason that I've always been fascinated by query letters that worked. To see how others have gone about the process. Which is why I think it's so cool that so many authors are willing to share theirs now. So feel free to stop by, comment, and ask questions.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Looking back...

As I've said numerous times, one of the reasons I wanted to keep a blog was so that I could look back on my own process as it was happening. To a certain extent, I wish I'd posted more about writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Posted more about the process, my feelings, etc, so that I had a better record. But keeping a blog has been worth it not only for the friends I've met and the community I've become a part of, but also because of looking back on posts like this, a snippet of an email I'd sent to JP almost 1.5 years ago, half a year after I'd started writing seriously (again):

Dunno... I guess before it didn't occur to me that I couldn't do it - write and publish a novel. Now it occurs to me that I might not be able to. That maybe I'm one of those people who constantly dreams about it and thinks about it but never gets there...

You know, none of us ever knows what's in our future. There are no guarantees. However, I am a very strong believer that if you keep writing, if you push through those doubts, that you'll make it. Because there actually is one guarantee: if you quit writing, you will never have a chance at reaching your goals. There is one thing that all published writers have in common: they kept writing. Even when it was hard. Even when the doubts crowded in. Even when they were sure they'd never make it.

Happy writing, everyone!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Libba Bray Rocks!

Hey all!

Thanks again for all the congrats -- while this has been the longest week of my life, it's also been the most amazing and I'm so happy I got to share it with y'all!

One of the things that excited me so much when I heard that the pre-empt was from Delacorte is that Delacorte published Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy. Every time I peruse the YA section, I can't help but stare at A Great and Terrible Beauty -- it has an amazing cover. And when it finally reached the top of my TBR pile, it blew me away. The writing is exquisite, and the story is just fascinating. I love how Libba was able to capture these four girls' lives right on the cusp.

I don't want to spoil anything and there are so many different themes and plots interwoven, but one aspect of the book is that these four girls all are beginning to face what it truly means to be an adult woman in their time (late 20th Century). I'm sure they've always known abstractly about their place in society; they are, after all, at Spence so they can be polished into proper, marriageable ladies. But for the first time they're really realizing what it means to them personally -- to their dreams.

Libba captures this moment so brilliantly that it made me ache. Not only for them, for everyone who comes to these realizations in life. And it's a moment that we all share over and over again as we grow up which is why I think this book works so well for readers of any age (and why I can't wait for my mother and sisters to read it).

I'd just finished reading A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels has just arrived in the mail when I heard about Delacorte's pre-empt and so I was like "Holy cow -- I might be published by the same house as Libba!!"

And THEN to top it all off, I peruse over to Libba's blog and realize that she's in in my city this weekend! So naturally JP and I drop everything and go listen to her participate on a panel of children's and YA authors (which was very interesting and Libba had the crowd roaring with laughter). As the crowd shuffled into the auditorium where the event was held, JP and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how old the kids were and who would be my target reader (some of the authors were for much younger kids so the crowd ran the whole gamut). I think JP and I stuck out like a sore thumb because we were the only "adults" there without kids.

Anyways, while we were standing in line after the talk to get our books signed, these two girls in front of us were talking about Libba and trying to figure out what they wanted her to write in their copies of her books. We'd already struck up a conversation when I lent them a pen, and so I asked them what other kinds of books and authors they read, trying to do a bit of market research. These girls so rocked -- their faces lighting up when they talked about Twilight and reading. If every reader of mine (!!) could be like them I'd be a lucky author.

Libba was amazing in person -- so personal with each fan! I definitely can learn a lot from her (well, in a few years when I have readers that is...).

So I was getting totally nervous to meet her and then it was my turn. I told her I'd just signed with Delacorte and she was so excited that she jumped up to give me a hug! She'd already heard the premise of The Forest of Hands and Teeth from my awesome friend Diana, and she was just so energetic and excited that I was beaming (and she was quite clear on which side of the zombie/unicorn debate she falls). It was such a wonderful moment for me -- a moment in time when it all felt so real.

The moral of the story is: Libba Bray just totally rocks as an author and as a person and I was thrilled to be able to meet her in person.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Publisher's Marketplace - it's official!

I swear I thought I'd have a heart attack when I saw the sale announcement of my book on Publisher's Marketplace. All day I was constantly refreshing and refreshing and then I had to go to a lunch and when I got back, there it was! And on top of that I had an amazingly beautiful bouquet of flowers on my desk from my incredibly supportive sister Chris. I just can't tell all of y'all how much it has meant to hear all of your congratulations and best wishes. I love being able to share this great news and experience with all of y'all! And I can't wait to blog more about the details and the background over the coming days.

So here it is, the official deal announcement from Publisher's Marketplace. It's all so real!!

16 October, 2007
Children's:Young Adult
Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, about an isolated village generations after the zombie apocalypse where a 16-year-old struggles with the town's religious order until the village walls are breached and the only chance of survival is to escape into the forest beyond, to Krista Marino at Delacorte, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

Pinch me!!!


You would think that after dreaming about this moment for years I would know what to say, but I'm speechless! On Friday my agent decided to send a sneak peak of WIP out to a few editors. First thing Monday morning we had a pre-empt offer!! I'm not sure I even breathed all day yesterday as things unfolded. And I couldn't be more thrilled, excited, amazed, to announce that I've sold my WIP, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH in a two book deal to Krista Marino at Delacorte, the YA imprint of Random House. Does my agent rock or what?

I still can't believe it! I keep refreshing Publishers Marketplace to see the announcement and I think I might pass out once it's posted!

I'm even more excited that I finally get to share with you more details about THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. This is the book I started last year during NaNo when I emailed the first line to myself and couldn't stop writing. It's a literary post-apocalyptic novel and here's what I wrote about it in my query:

Generations after the zombie apocalypse known as The Return, Mary's life is as circumscribed by her community's strict religion as it is by the fences that form her village's only defense against the hordes of the undead -- the Unconsecrated -- who dwell in the surrounding forest.

Her faith is shattered the day her mother becomes infected by the Unconsecrated, and her belief in her community is destroyed when she secretly witnesses the Church leadership imprison, then condemn, a miraculously non-infected outsider who somehow finds a safe path to the village. The only other person who questions their Puritanical lifestyle is her betrothed's crippled brother, Travis, who has been assigned to wed Mary's best friend. Mary is torn between her duty to friends and society and her growing love for Travis.

When the Unconsecrated breach the fences and overrun the village, Mary, Travis, and their intendeds are among the few survivors. Now, their only chance is to brave the outsider's path through the deadly Forest in an attempt to discover the only thing that Mary still believes in -- that there is a world beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

I can't wait to share more details over the next few days!! YAY!!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Big News!!!

So... phenomenal news. But I'm not ready to give all the details. There might have been too much champagne to write a coherent blog entry :)

Will sum up tomorrow :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

National Book Award nominees

So my creative writing professor from college, Jim Shepard, was nominated for the National Book Award for his book of stories, Like You'd Understand, Anyway. I think this is awesome because he is a fantastic writer and I'm so happy that now more people will be exposed to his work. I took every class I could from this man and loved them all. My only regret is that I didn't take them more seriously, that I didn't spend more time and effort on them. Of course, I'm sure most students feel this way at some point.

I learned a lot from Prof. Shepard. Looking at WIP, I realize just how much of it I owe to the classes I took at Williams. It's written in the voice I developed there and definitely has elements that would make Prof. Shepard smile. I'm sure I'm not the student he expected to get somewhere with her writing :)

Jim Shepard is a brilliant writer, a phenomenal professor, and I couldn't be happier for him!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Yay for JP!!!

My amazing boyfriend JP has been on a roll recently with the awesome writing news and it gets better and better: he just made his first pro sale!!! He sold his short story "Spamdemonium" to Jim Baen's Universe and will be one of their "Introducing new authors" in the June 2008 issue. This was an acceptance 480 days in the making (you thought waiting to hear back from agents was tough!?). I couldn't be more excited for him and for all of y'all who now get to read more of his awesome writing. While you're waiting for his next story to be published, you can always check out his flash fiction website -- he and his brother trade pitches (story ideas) each week and write, no editing, just writing.

Yay JP, congratulations!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

To write...

This week on the League of Reluctant Adults they're talking about pet peeves and writing eccentricities. It got me thinking about what I need to write, and what my pet peeves are. Um... *thinking thinking thinking*... uh.... I don't know?

Seriously, last year, when I started on WIP I got into a habit of coming home from work, turning on the fire, pouring a glass of red wine, and hammering out 2k words before JP got home from work. It was November when I started, dark by the time I got home from work. This became such a habit that I began to think this was the only way I could write. In fact, one weekend I decided to write outside and I couldn't. There was sun and light and (slight) warmth and what I was writing was dark and scary and cold (it was winter in my ms). I began to think that I couldn't write in any atmosphere except the one I'd been used to.

Then I realized this was not a good thing. I did not want to get in the habit of needing certain things to write. I didn't want it to have to be dark outside, to have to be cold, to have to be alone. To me, that led to superstitions and limitations. Because I'm an attorney (with a new job in a new practice area to boot!) I take my writing time where I can get it. Whether that be early morning, in the mountains, in a hotel room, etc.

So every time I think "oh, I prefer to write without noise" I sometimes challenge myself to write with noise. I think sometimes its easy to find obstacles to writing, and I'm trying my hardest to eliminate as many of those as possible.

That being said, what are my pet peeves and eccentricities? Once I enter my character's head, it's hard to leave. I don't like being interrupted because I'm afraid of loosing the flow of where I am. For me, interruptions are things like cats that can't settle down, people who strike up conversations (I don't mind answering a question or two, but when I'm writing I'm not prepared to set the writing aside to chat). If I have to get up to grab something, leave the room, etc., that's not a big deal. Really the only thing that stops my flow is having to leave my own head -- basically to interact with other people for more than a sentence or two. I'm not the most fun person when I'm in the middle of writing a scene :)

But at the same time, I also know when to put the writing down. When to say "scene's done, writing is over for the night" and resurface into the real world.

What about y'all, what are your writing pet peeves and eccentricities?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

At this moment...

Right now I'm in Hotlanta for a work conference. And I'm listening to the house trance version of Sweet Emotions because this is my work computer and I don't have any of my own music on it so I have to go the internet radio route. Interesting. The room actually has an iPod radio thingy but I left my iPod in the can and don't feel like calling for them to bring it around just for that.

Clearly, you can all see that I am, once again as the title of the blog alludes, procrastinating. I have a print out of WIP in front of me. Lots of sticky notes. Colored pens. Highlighters of every shade. Right now I'm taking a break. Really, I should get back to editing. Because I've already used a big portion of the break trolling the internet finding free internet radio (iTunes - who knew?). Of course, after all of that effort I remember that I hate to listen to music while I'm editing. But this room seems so... quiet.

JP has promised to call me before bed to check-in on the status of my edits. I guess if I don't want to disappoint him I should get back to it. Naturally I started on the easy edits first... sigh...

What are y'all up to these days? What makes you procrastinate and what's your favorite form of procrastination?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Back to life

I just love the mountains. Somehow, going there just makes the weekend seem longer and more refreshing. Ahhhh...

Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, there has been some chatting about what sort of response times one can expect from their agent. Kristin started it with her post here. Then Jennifer Jackson and Nephele added their thoughts (and the comments are worth reading on all of those).

I'm never one without thoughts and opinions and I have strong ones on this topic. But right now I can't complain because I have a fantabulous agent who is amazingly responsive :) I'm curious to know what y'all think: what should an author expect from an agent in terms of responsiveness (whether they are repped by that agent or not, though those are very different situations!).