Friday, January 25, 2008

Hmmm.... something feels different round here...

So, you may have noticed that the blog looks a bit different, eh? Well, I did promise many months back that I would likely be ditching the chick-lit pink for something a touch more somber. I must admit, though, I loved that chick lit pink. Adored the way it brightened my day. And I would have kept it forever except... it was a huge jar when you linked over from my new website.

Yes, that's right - NEW WEBSITE. Click Here. Seriously, can't be too many links to my new website for Author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.* Carrie Ryan. Her. That girl.

Of course, you eagle eyed viewers out there will recognize that the new website ( is really only a placeholder. And that's very true. But it's a wonderful placeholder -- I LOVE it. It's very moody and slick and beautiful. I can't thank enough for it! So I felt the need to change my blog so that it wouldn't be quite so jarring when you clicked over from the temp site. Oh, and I also updated my books read in 2008 list -- I'm up to 6!

Let me know if anything is amiss with the new blog template -- anything hard to read with colors and whatnot. And feel free to link to me (though the permanent page won't really be up until Aprilish).

I wish I could tell you that I found time to redesign my blog because I'm in that brief honeymoon period between turning in edits for one book before turning to the next book. But no. I have one last read through of FHT this weekend. (goal #1). My other projects for the weekend include writing the dedication (I already had that one), the acknowledgements (ack!) and the bio (ack!). I have a feeling I'm going to be spending a lot of time thumbing through the books on my shelves to see how they acknowledged all the people that helped support them. Maybe this will even necessitate a trip to the bookstore!

I'd love to hear any words of wisdom y'all have about the bio, dedication and acknowledgements. Anything in particular you like to see? Hate to see? Curious minds want to know...

*take that google search engines!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Writing with Fear

Last night my local bar (the lawyer type of bar, not the drinking kind) had it's first ever writers meeting. JP is the one that saw the announcement for it and we were both really excited and really curious. I've been trying to figure out if there's a writing scene in my city for a while (to no avail) and suddenly, not only is there a writers group, but one specifically for local attorneys! JP and I weren't sure what we'd find when we showed up -- would it be just the two of us, the special guest (Salisbury NC author and NYT bestseller John Hart) and the organizer?

We were both surprised to show up and find that we had to move to a larger room because there was so much interest (maybe 15 people in all). The group is a collection of poets, short stories writers and novelists (both fiction and one non-fiction). Two had MFAs, a few had published short stories and I was the only contracted novelist. What was strange was to realize that I spend so much of my time around writers that are totally plugged into the community (you guys) that I'd forgotten just how much knowledge I take for granted about writing and the industry. All the writers I chat with on a daily basis know what a query letter is, how rejections work, how the process works, how long novels tend to be. Suddenly, I was in a group of people who had no idea and oddly, it was wonderful. Because I love sharing what I know and I realized that I can answer so many of their questions and be helpful!

But I ramble, that's not the point of this post. The point is that the main speaker, John Hart, was a very interesting speaker. One thing he talked about was writing with fear and faith. Fear that what you're writing may not be good enough and faith that it is.* He said that it's only when you're writing from a state of fear that you truly write -- that you truly dig in deep and get to the heart of things.

At first, I was skeptical of this. But then I thought about my own work. There's one scene in particular in FHT that when I was writing it I cringed. I thought "oh, this isn't going to go over well." Seriously, when I finished the scene I laughed in that "am I crazy?" way because I'd really pushed the envelope. I was afraid that readers would think it was too much -- I'd pushed too far, it was too out there. But they didn't, they all responded very well. Shocked maybe, but it worked.

And then I thought of another work I read recently. The author was worried that a scene might be too much. But when I read it was amazed -- shocked in that wonderful way you get when an author has truly nailed something. Encapsulated a scene in that perfect way, and in a way that is truly no-holds-barred.

In both instances, there were other ways to write those scenes. Ways that both I and the other author wouldn't have to worry, "is this ok? Is this too much?" But I don't think that would have been as powerful.

Yes, sometimes what you write can be too much -- too edgy. But I think it's better to overshoot and tone it down rather than not make the mark at all. Also, I agree that sometimes, if you write from a state of too much fear the opposite happens: you play it safe, fail to take the risks necessary -- scared into writer paralysis.

How to find the balance? No idea. I think that's sometimes why having CPs and early readers can be such a good help. You can take those risks, push the edge in ways that make you scared and then you can have others help to buoy your faith, to let you know if you've gone too far.

It's hard advice, I think. Essentially he was saying that if you're embarrassed by what you're writing, you're probably doing well. My problem with that is that it's no fun being embarrassed by what you write. But then again, I'm the one who wrote a literary zombie YA book and then sent it out to friends to critique -- talk about embarrassing! I was terrified that my CPs would write back with a pat on the head and a "better luck next time *coughfreakcough*" So maybe he has a point.

What do y'all think?

* This is the way I heard and internalized what he said. I really hope I'm not taking his comments out of context and if I did, I apologize.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday Maven

Today I'm over at the Manuscript Mavens posting about beginnings and closing doors. Come join in!

Friday, January 18, 2008

About my book...

I'm leaving for a birthday weekend at the beach in about five minutes!

Before I go, may I present to you The Forest of Hands and Teeth, as told by kittens:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MUST Reads

Yay for turning 30 (I guess)!! I had all these plans for taking this time to look back and reflect blah blah blah. But instead, I wanted to take a moment to tell you, once again, how much JP rocks. Yes, he rocks for helping me edit and being all around wonderful (and for getting up early to look over some last minute edits for me), but he also rocks because he is an amazing writer and I don't talk about that enough around here. Seriously, his writing has made cry before because it is so beautiful.

One of his short stories,
Elohim, was just published in Ideomancer. I have loved this story since he first read it to me -- it's so complex and wonderful. He brilliantly captures the Southern voice in the same way as all of our great Southern writers have -- yep, that's right, I'm comparing him to Faulkner (if Faulkner had more of a speculative edge). Best of all, other people are starting to find out what a great writer JP is. Elohim was reviewed recently and I don't want to post the whole thing since it gets into the plot, but here are some choice tidbits: "Davis skilfully brings his characters and their situation to life, such that I was compelled to keep reading to find out how it would resolve." and "I found the story morally evocative without being heavy-handed."*

Yes that's right -- JP's got rave reviews! If only I can get reviews like that!

Seriously, go read
Elohim here.

And if you want a faster treat, he has another piece that was the Editor's Choice at
Flashquake called The Pirate, Landlocked. This is also a very poignant story -- I've always been amazed at how he can capture so much character and longing and history in such a short about of space (whereas I need a whole novel to do that).

JP's also had a bunch of pieces up at AND even more of them have been accepted for the new Six Sentences anthology (the trick is writing a short story in six sentences -- again it's pretty impressive that he can say so much in so little space). Here's a link
to the three published so far.

Go forth and read him! Seriously, you will not regret it. Everything I write, I hope to reach his skill level -- he's definitely been an inspiration to me.

*Excerpted from

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another Reason Why I Love JP

Reason number ten-gajillion why I love JP. This was his first totally free weekend in a looong time (no surgeries, holidays, family or day job to interfere) and he spent it reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth. For the third time. Giving excellent feedback and telling me again that it's great and allaying my fears.

To top that off, we went for a walk on Sunday and he let me spend the whole time asking about things in my book, AND he helped me solve the FINAL three plot twinges I had. These were the three things that I knew needed changing (actually they were huge questions that needed to be answered and just... weren't) but that I didn't know how to fix and was just going to see if I could let them slide by.

Yep, he fixed them.

Plus, he only groaned a little when I told him he'd get to read the whole thing all over again once more before it is actually published.

I've said it before and I'll say it many times over: this book wouldn't be where it is without JP and I thank him and love him for it.

ps: No, I'm not quite done yet with the edits. They're all made, but I'm typing from the hard copy into the computer. And I have those aforementioned three things to change, but they're all so small.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

And Yet Even More Fun with Goals!

Yes, it's been blog light around here. I'm starting to think that just might be my MO. During the week I think of all these fab things to write and then I get home and it's like white noise in my head. Plus, with the start of the year I've had billable hours to contend with and editing to do and all that fun stuff. There's something cruel about starting the year off with a holiday so that your first day back at work you're already down billable hours for the year...

ANYways, my 30th birthday is on Tuesday. And I've had great plans to write my 2008 goals post and my "where am I now that I'm turning 30" post, but unfortunately I still have these edits to contend with. I would think that turning 30 would make me feel more like an adult, but no. Just yesterday I got sick (fever and everything!) and I called my older sister and asked her about it because, as an adult and a mom, she is now an expert on these things (ie: do I need to be worried because I feel like I've been knifed). Nothing makes you feel more like a kid than that :)

So this weekend I have yet that same everlasting goal:
  1. Finish edits on The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

At this stage, both JP and I are reading it, trying to look at it through readers eyes. This means that JP is currently playing a video game while I read the same paragraph over and over and over again trying to determine which word choice is better. Actually, JP is editing on his computer (this is like the 3d time he's read this book and not the last, bless him) and I'm editing on hard copy and then I have to put my edits into his version. Hopefully, taking the day off yesterday due to said illness (still recovering) has given me enough distance that I don't obsess quite as much.

Once this sucker is turned in on Tuesday (yes, that would be the same day as my 30th birthday), I'm done! For a while. And JP and I celebrate!

And then it's on to the next book...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

52 Books a Year

So, let's not talk too much about those goals and what I've accomplished. Let's just say there were naps and it was a good weekend and boy do I still have some work to do!

Anyways, I was just about to update my profile to add my first book read in 2008 (it's over there in the right sidebar) and I realized that I have yet to toot my own horn for reaching my goal of reading 52 books in 2007! Hurrah! I have to say, I really enjoy keeping a list of all the books I've read, it's so interesting to see my habits. Of course, I would say that about 80% of what I read these days is driven by my being a writer -- I read YAs not only because I love them, but also to keep tabs on the market. I also used to read a lot of books of authors whose agents I was interested in; now I read the books by my agent and editor's authors. I still read a lot of friends' books and books recommended by my friends. Then there's the odd book that my mom or sister suggests, something different when I'm feeling like none of my current books on the TBR pile will do. This year I started reading graphic novels and am really enjoying them, though I haven't branched too far into that field.

Anywho, kinda cool to take a trip down memory lane with that list. And unfortunately, I know I've missed a book or two because I'm pretty slack about updating that part of my blog. And usually when I do update I have to scramble around the house (normally the pile on the floor next to my bed) to see what's there. It's sad and ironic, but I have a terrible memory for most books -- often I can't even remember what I've read. In fact, I was looking at a list of the classics, bemoaning how few I'd read when suddenly I started to get vague memories from high school and college -- turns out I'd read tons of those books, just could barely remember! So very sad.

I've heard many people say that in order to be a good writer you have to read. I know that reading has helped me tremendously -- the pacing of plot, how much backstory to drop and when, POV, structure. These are things I feel like I absorb from reading. At the same time, because I pretty much limited myself to romance (and classics, apparently) growing up, I feel like I'm missing some things -- big group inter dynamics and journeying that you get from Fantasy, the tension you get from Horror, the details from SciFi. I know I should branch out more and I'm getting there. I know C.L. Wilson's books are shelved romance, but to me they're very fantasy and I loved them -- and learned.

Anyway, I started this challenge two years ago because Diana was writing down the books she read and I think she challenged us to read 52 books a year. I'm sure I'd read just as much anyway, but it's still a great goal and one I'm going to stick to!

So here's to another 52 books in 2008 -- who's with me?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

More Weekend Goals!

Hello all! Yes, it's that time of the week again -- time for some goals! But first, let me tell you about the fast and free-wheeling lifestyle that JP and I lead. Last night, I left work a little early, came home and camped on the couch in front of the fire. JP came home shortly thereafter, we cooked dinner and then partied like mad! If you define partying like mad as laying on the couches in front of the fire and falling asleep no later than 8PM. Seriously folks -- we both feel asleep by 8PM on a Friday night. Woke up around 11, went to bed and read, and back to sleep by 2AM. Laaaammmee.

In my own defense, I've been trying to give up caffeine for new years and have had a MONSTER headache since Friday afternoon. Seriously, I thought sleep would cure it, but it was still there this morning and has been getting worse. Hurts to even move my head now (and I've been drinking tons of water and tried taking Advil). Anyone have any suggestions? How do I get rid of this pain?

So, the pain might interfere with goals, but I'm hoping it will go away by the end of the day. Thus, I will be optimistic:
  1. Must read FHT like a reader. Straight through (still haven't accomplished this yet). I'm hoping substantive edits will be done Monday so we can send this sucker into copy-editing.
  2. Clean the house. We fried up a few things on NYE and cooked bacon this morning. Since we can't open windows (all painted shut right now), it's like walking into a grease pit. Plus, there's just stuff everywhere (including wrapping paper still under the tree).
  3. Maybe take down tree. Maybe.
  4. Get rid of stupid headache (that should be #1).
  5. Maybe take a walk if headache goes away and it's not too cold outside.
  6. Maybe some random errands, maybe a trip to the grocery store.
  7. Write goals post I promised.

See, this is the jet-setting life-style I lead! We all know I'll probably end up playing on the internet for another hour, napping, and then whining about my head some more if it's not better (stupid diet coke -- I only ever had one glass a day, that shouldn't have been enough to trigger withdrawal!!).