Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Dark Side

This is what happens when you're the little sister of two older boys:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Starred Review!

Hey Y'all!  Very exciting news!  I just got a second starred review for The Forest of Hands and Teeth  - this one from School Library Journal!  They say
"[T]he suspense that Ryan has created from the very first page on entices and tempts readers so that putting the book down is not an option"
FHT was also reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend and they say
"The Forest of Hands and Teeth starts strong and never lets up.... Ryan's choice to place her novel in the wilderness is inspired... [T]his novel delivers a thrilling new take on an apocalyptic trope that is now in danger of becoming complete farcical."
Hooray!  And now back to revising....

Monday, April 27, 2009

How Trimming Hedges is Like Revising

So my mom came to town with my step-father on Saturday which was awesome.  We went to lunch and then went to Lowes whereupon my mom and I spent a wonderful time planning a vegetable garden and wandering the aisles (JP and step-father of course checked out wildly expensive grills and day-dreamed).

When we got home, we went to work on the yard.  In the few years we've lived in our house, JP and I haven't done a lot of hedge trimming and it's started to show.  Thankfully, our yard doesn't require a ton of upkeep, but a few of the foundation plants are in danger of taking over.  Especially after the late spring wet snow we had weighed a lot of them down.

So my mom and I started to attack the biggest offender -- this huge monstrosity of a thing blocking our kitchen windows.  Mom worked the sides, trimming for shape and I attacked the top.  I was pulling down huge chunks of this bush -- it just needs a major overhaul.  And then I go to pull out a big pice I'd cut and my stomach sunk.

There was a birds nest in it.  And it had three tiny newborns.  UGH.  So we waved JP (who worked as a vet tech for several years) over and he was able to wedge the branch back into the bush and I've been watching the mama bird come and go ever since (as I type this she flits over to a nearby tree to sit watch).  But that also meant the end of pruning for a while lest any other bushes be someone else's home (I know there's another nest in the camellia).

As I sit here and stare out at this pathetically misshapen bush, it makes me think about revising.  Because I kind of feel like my book looks like that shrub right now.  My editor, like my mom, has given me line edits to shape the edges.  But I'm still not convinced about the overall book and I know words (lots of them) need cutting.  I've whacked off parts, perhaps with a little too much glee and not enough caution, endangering darlings that need to be carefully layered back in.

It's looking ugly and sometimes impossible and overwhelming.  And I feel like that's the time to step back, get a wider view of it all and look at the thing from different angles.  I'm pulling out my toolbox and I'm getting to work.  Oh, and the bush outside?  All trimming is on hold until the baby birds have left home.  Sorry neighbors!

Friday, April 24, 2009

News from Down Under

Hey y'all! Still chugging along on revisions so today's post is more a series of links!  The Forest of Hands and Teeth is coming out soon in Australia (I don't know exactly when) and I've been getting more and more excited about it!  I've adored working with my UK/Oz publisher Orion/Gollancz!

One of the things they've done is set up a Facebook page for The Forest of Hands and Teeth (here).  It's a place for people to post thoughts, reviews, get news and updates, etc etc.  I think they're also planning to unveil the UK/Oz cover for The Dead-Tossed Waves over there soon!  I actually found out from it that FHT has already gone into a second printing in Australia!  Wahoo!

As I posted last week, I did a radio interview with The Book Show which is a daily program on ABC Radio National.  You can listen to it here.  I had a ton of fun doing it and I think it turned out pretty well!  You get to hear me read a bit from the book and talk about the inspiration behind it, my thoughts on zombies, and how I plan to survive the apocalypse :)

And as I've been writing this post I just got an email from Borders Australia that lists The Forest of Hands and Teeth as #2 on their Shortlist which you can find here!  Totally an awesome way to start the morning!

We've also started to get some great reviews in from down under!  Here are a few:

The Australian says: "Carrie Ryan's astonishing debut novel is one of the best works of speculative fiction published in recent years."

The New Zealand Herald says: "Mary is a fully-formed character with strengths and weaknesses, and she inhabits a dark, complex world where good and evil, right and wrong are not always clearly distinguishable.  The book is all the better for it."

The Courier Mail says:  "Carrie Ryan digs up fresh approach to the zombie story," and mentions The Forest of Hands and Teeth again here as a new dark tale to satisfy Twilight cravings.

So that's my Australia/New Zealand update!  Now back to those revisions....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Autographed by the author

What would you do if you got a whole role of autographed by the author stickers?  Clearly start autographing things - anything - and marking them as such.

I told you that revision deadlines meant lots of pics of pets!  Also, Tuesday means lots of books hitting the shelves and one of those books this week is the paperback of The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas.  Go forth and buy it - you will not be sorry!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Debs Blog Tour: Fortune's Folly by Deva Fagan

Today I'm super excited to be hosting fellow 2009 Debutante, Deva Fagan and her debut novel, Fortune's Folly!

About the book:

Ever since her mother died and her father lost his shoemaking skills, Fortunata has survived by telling fake fortunes. But when she's tricked into telling a grand fortune for a prince, she is faced with the impossible task of fulfilling her wild prophecy-or her father will be put to death. Now Fortunata has to help Prince Leonato secure a magic sword, vanquish a wicked witch, discover a long-lost golden shoe, and rescue the princess who fits it. If only she hadn't fallen in love with the prince herself. . . .

About the author:

Deva likes searching for patterns, which is how she explains both her degree in mathematics and the echoes of old fairy-tales in her stories. She also loves tea, gardening, and playing the fiddle. She lives in Maine with her husband and her dog.

The interview:

What's been one of the most exciting moments in your journey to publication?

Seeing my cover! I wasn't expecting it to be a night scene, but I was so happy with how it turned out, particularly since I am a big fan of midnight blue skies sprinkled with stars. I am very grateful to the cover artist and designer for creating such a lovely book.

Is there anything you can't write without?

I'd definitely miss my copious mugs of tea if I had to do without them! But the thing that would really give me trouble would be giving up my computer. Longhand seems so sloooow now. Plus, I love having Google Image Search only a click away.

When stuck on a story which do you choose: write make-out scene or explode something?

Explode something! Though doing both would be even better....

Can you share a favorite line you've written either in this book or a WIP?

I particularly like the first line of FORTUNE'S FOLLY:

Life would have been much easier if I believed in fairy tales.

Finally: pro fast zombie or anti fast zombies?

As long as they don't talk (groaning is okay) it's okay with me. Also no romantic, cuddly zombies unless it's Fido.

I asked Deva if she'd be willing to share a post discussing her publication journey:

For those interested in reading about my "publication journey", I talk about it in my website FAQ page (third question down): or for all the nitty-gritty I have a "fortune's folly" tag on a bunch of my livejournal entries so you can find the postings back in 2003 when I was writing the first draft for NaNoWriMo.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Excerpt + odds and ends

Hello all!  First off, cause I've gotten this question a few times and haven't updated my website: there will be a sequel/companion to The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  Its title is The Dead-Tossed Waves and it comes out Spring 2010.  There will also be a third book in the series out Spring 2011 but we don't have a title for that book (or for the series) yet.  If you have title ideas for either the book or series, leave them in the comments!

So what do you do after a long gorgeous day filled with good news and champagne?  Paint your nails metallic pink!  It's funny, I'm not a nail painter.  Really, if I do anything it's to buff my nails because paint just doesn't last for me.  Plus, I like my nails super short for typing and that can make them look odd (read: short and stubby) when painted.  But more and more recently I've come the conclusion that since I don't have to go to court, or wear a suit, or really care at all about what I wear/look like, I can take more fun risks.  And since I sit at my computer all day and stare at my hands, I figured pink would make me happy.

I know, painting nails metallic pink really isn't that much of a risk.  So sue me - I like to start slow.  Next up, I keep wanting to die some kind of crazy color streaks in my hair.  Any color suggestions?  Yes Mom, I'm hitting my punk rebellion stage about 15 years too late...

I also just found this super cool widget on the Teens@Random page for reading an excerpt of my book! You can find a larger version by clicking on the "browse and search" image of the book here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Midnight Radio

Okay, so my radio gig wasn't technically at midnight, but still, I like that song hence the title of the post!  So yesterday was a great day!  I had a blast talking to the college class about my books and an awesome time doing the radio interview.  The producer/host of the show in Australia, Erica, was totally cool -- so much so that when it was time for me to go I was a little sad because I wanted to keep chatting with her!  She just has one of those personalities that makes you feel like fast friends which made the whole experience tons of fun.

What was also fun about it?  I got to sit in an actual sound booth with the headphones and everything.  At first, I was fairly nervous and really had no idea what to do.  I got there early and spent about ten minutes staring at the microphone and wondering what all the knobs meant.  Also I felt a little star-struck because I was at the local NPR station which is the station I always listen to and I kept looking around at everyone, wondering which voices they were :)

Also, I'm not sure the producer on my end was really quite prepared for what we were going to be talking about: romance, zombies, the apocalypse.  She came into my booth at the end laughing about it (I get that a lot when people meet me and then hear what the book is about -- they sort of don't expect it) and saying it sounded like something she wanted to read!  Let's hope she's not the only one who wants to pick up a copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth after listening to the interview :)

 I was so nervous before hand and so high on excitement afterward that I forgot to ask the local producer to take my picture.  So this is really the only shot I have!  The whole experience?  Totally way cool!!

Now it's back to revising.  Which means that over the next couple of weeks y'all will probably be subjected to lots of "cat on manuscript looking cute" pictures rather than info intense blogs.  But seriously, the cat on manuscript?  Way cuter than anything I have to say...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Time time time (ETA Debsness!)

Crazy day today!  First, I just filed taxes.  I must admit, I'm a tax geek.  I like taxes -- I like reading the tax code, I like finding deductions, I like the puzzle of it.  But at the same time, when all is said and done, I hate pressing the button to actually file them.  Go figure.  But it's done and next year's taxes are guestimated and I am happy.

Second, I'm super excited for this afternoon when I'll be talking to a college class about The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I so can't wait!!  I've been hearing that they really liked the book and have lots of questions!

Third, I'm totally nervous because tonight I'm doing an appearance with an Australian radio show!  Thankfully, a friend of mine who is also a fab publicist talked to me yesterday and gave me pointers.  One of the things she reminded me is that because it's being recorded and edited that I can relax and just ask to start over if I mess up.  Huge relief.  I'm really trying hard not to be nervous.... but I can't help it!

Fourth, I'm hopefully meeting up with the friend who gave us our dog Jake so his daughter can see Jake and so I can sign a copy of FHT for her.  I'm so looking forward to this!

Fifth, going out to celebrate tonight cause (a) radio show will be over (relief!) and (b) a friend just passed the bar and got sworn in.

Sixth, work.  Short story, revisions, proposal all due May 1.  This is where I learn that my idea of time is totally skewed.  Recently I calculated that if I revise 3-4 chapters a day I'll be totally golden with revisions and have PLENTY of time to read through it all as I skate to the deadline (and get weekends off!).  Um... no.  Turns out, it can take like four hours to revise one chapter.  My chapters are all less than 3k words!  How can it take so long!?!

At least the crazy work is (almost) keeping my mind off the radio gig tonight.  On that note... off to practice my readings!

Edited to add:

Find Out What's In The Bag And Win It Today

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dreams and things coming round

I'm almost always surprised by life.  Haven't you ever found that you can think of something utterly random and then somehow it keeps popping up (usually in threes?).  Anyway, here's what's amazed and surprised me today...

A while back (over a year, actually) Kristin Nelson posted on her blog a video of Paul Potts singing Nessun Dorma for Britain's Got Talent (you'll want to watch that video -- it's utterly amazing and uplifting).  This led to me spending almost a morning looking up information on him, watching him sing, buying his album, falling in love with another song he sings, Time to Say Goodbye, and downloading about four different versions of that song.

It also led me to look up the lyrics in English which are just beautiful.  But not only are they beautiful, they really resonated with me, especially the following lines:

on ships across seas
which, I know,
no, no, exist no longer

One of the things I loved about those lines, why they stood out to me so much, is because I was just starting to write The Dead-Tossed Waves.  I loved the question those lines raised to me -- is it the ships that no longer exist or the seas?  And why don't the seas exist?  It just reminded me so much of my characters and their struggles.

In fact, I loved the song and lyrics so much that I ended up writing a small scene from another book set in that same world as FHT but that I was pretty sure I wouldn't end up writing because it wouldn't fit in well.

Fast forward a year -- I've written The Dead-Tossed Waves, I'm revising it and I get the go ahead to write a third book set in that world.  Last night as JP and I were coming home from the store I was telling him my ideas about the third book so we could start brainstorming titles and I remember that little scene I wrote.  And suddenly I realize that it will now work!  In fact, it's perfect and opens up all these amazing ideas!

So when I get home, I race to the computer and start looking back at the lyrics to Time to Say Good-bye and listening to it again.  Once again I could remember that swelling inside of hope and dream that I felt when I heard it the first time (and also a little twinge of despair when I remembered what the lyrics meant).  I'm stoked about using it -- stoked about the whole thing.

This morning the rest of the story fell into place in my head -- the characters, the setting, the story arcs.  It's all there -- this has almost never happened to me before!!  (and of course it happens when I'm so slammed with other things that I don't have time to indulge...)

And what do I see first thing when I sit down to work?  A link to YouTube from Libba Bray's blog about dreaming dreams.  I have too much work, I shouldn't play it.... but early morning is ripe for procrastination and so I click it.

Wow.  Just... wow.  Not only is Les Mis my number one ultimate favorite ever (and can make me cry at the drop of a hat) but this song is one that just pulls at everything inside.  And it fits my character.  I've already teared up twice this morning watching it.

Another amazing song on Britain's Got Talent is what fuels my next book.  Funny how everything seems to come round in the end!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Paperwork is a B*$ch

I have been told I do not have enough pictures of my office mates.  Because I'm one to do as I'm told, may I present you with The Boss hard at work.  And you wonder why the paperwork piles up!!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

USA Today article in the flesh!

Hey Y'all!  Yep, JP and I trekked to the bookstore to pic up a (couple of) copies of the USA Today article! I scanned it in and highlighted it so you can see!  Squee!  Hopefully you can click on it to see a larger version :)

USA Today article on Zombies Mentions Me and FHT!

Squee!!  I'm super excited that my book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, is in today's USA Today (article here)!  Just think, people in hotels everywhere are waking up to the sweet shamble of zombies and my book :)

I'm heading out soon to pick up some actual hard copies of the article and will scan in a copy later.  This whole thing just makes me ridiculously happy :)  Go team zombie!!!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Debs Blog Tour: Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger

Hey Y'all!  It's been a while and so I'm super excited to bring another guest in the Debs Blog Tour.  Today we're talking about Neesha Meminger and her debut Shine, Coconut Moon.

About the book:

Samar–a.k.a. Sam–is an Indian-American teenager whose mom has kept her away from her old-fashioned family.  It's never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a demanding boyfriend.  But things change after 9/11.  A guy in a turban shows up at Sam's house–and turns out to be her uncle.  He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage.  Sam is eager, but when boys attack her uncle, chanting "Go back home, Osama!," Sam realizes she could be in danger–and also discovers how dangerous ignorance is.

About the author:

Neesha Meminger was born in India, grew up in Canada, and currently lives in New York City with her family. All of her writing explores the inner landscape of her characters, and how it merges or conflicts with the outer. She writes stories of women and girls defining themselves and shaping their own destinies within the confines of their day to day realities.

The Interview:

What's been one of the most exciting moments in your journey to publication?

Definitely when my final copies came in the mail. I cried.

Is there anything you can't write without?

Solitude. I don't have to be alone, but I need to be uninterrupted, with no distractions (people-distractions, I mean. Music, coffee shops, parks, etc. are all okay :]).

When stuck on a story which do you choose: write make-out scene or explode something?

I'm going to say explode something, though usually that's in the form of a family argument or an emotional explosion.

Can you share a favorite line you've written either in this book or a WIP?

"But something about being in a room with so many people, so many generations that you belong to and who accept you without question as one of theirs, leaves me feeling like a hand is squeezing my heart, making it just a little harder to breathe." -- SHINE, COCONUT MOON.

Finally: pro fast zombie or anti fast zombies?

Hmm, I have very little knowledges of the zombies, but I'm going to say anti fast zombies :D.

Thanks Neesha!!!  Congrats on your debut!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Borders Original Voices

April seriously needs to stop going by so fast -- I have WAY too much to do this month!  This is a short post to say thanks so much for all the kind words about the cover of The Dead-Tossed Waves!  I can't wait to be able to share the flap copy soon (and answer some of y'all's questions like who is the girl on the cover).

But the great thing about April is that The Forest of Hands and Teeth is an April Borders Original Voices Selection!!  What is Borders Original Voices?  According to the website:
Borders Original Voices recognize fresh, compelling, and ambitious written works from new and emerging talents in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, and kids' books. We select innovative and inspiring new books from first-time authors, as well as works that represent a new direction for established authors.
This is just like one of those things where I keep having to pinch myself.  Thanks Borders!!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Cover for The Dead-Tossed Waves!

Hey Y'all!  First of all, a huge thanks to everyone who friended me on Facebook and Twitter!  And an even bigger thanks for all of the love you showed my new cover yesterday :)

Second, I just saw that The Forest of Hands and Teeth was reviewed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer who says "The Forest of Hands and Teeth will give you a sleepless night - either from staying up to finish the book or lying awake listening for a scratch at the door."  Sweet!

Third, don't forget that I'm still in the middle of a blog tour!  I've listed all my stops in the sidebar of my blog here if you want to read all the different interviews!

Fourth, thanks for all your comments to my last post about Twitter!  I can't wait to try some of the apps y'all suggested.

And finally, I am so super excited to share with y'all the cover to my second book!  I totally love it!  What do y'all think (you can click on it to make it larger)?

The Dead-Tossed Waves will be coming out Spring 2010.

Friday, April 03, 2009

New Cover News + Twitter

Hey Y'all!  First, look at the pretty I got in the mail yesterday!!!  It's the cover flat for the UK hardback and an ARC of the Australia trade paperback.  Seriously, these are gorgeous in person.  The cover is matte black and the red leaf and title are glossy.  My name is embossed foil -- it just all is such a beautiful combination.  I'm totally going to have to find a way to get more so I can give a few away!

I've also gotten the cover for The Dead-Tossed Waves and am totally in love.  It's by the same artist as the first book - Jonathan Barkat - and you can totally tell that the two books are in the same series.  I can't wait to actually see them next to each other!

So here's my plan - I'm going to post the cover of The Dead-Tossed Waves here on Monday.  But I'll also post it on Twitter and Facebook on Sunday.  So if you want a sneak preview of the cover, make sure to friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter:

Carrie Ryan's Facebook profile

This raises a question, and I know I must be about the millionth person to ask it.  But what do y'all think about Twitter?  I admit, it's taken me a little while to get used to it but mostly because I haven't mastered the ability to follow the back and forth @ conversations.  I feel like I usually just get one half of them which is way confusing.  And that makes me hesitant to reply to people cause it seems strange to force all y'all to read my replies and then it buries anything interesting I might have said (really, me say something interesting in 140 characters or less??)

I kind of wish Twitter had two columns... one with people's actual messages and the other with their reply conversations.  Or if it were like IM where you could see both sides of the convo at once rather than having to click back and forth (seriously, how in the world do you follow conversations?).  But I also kind of figure that I'm probably just missing something - haha!

Anyway, one thing that I love about Twitter and facebook is being able to post random updates and photos.  I really dig TwitPic and will probably just continue with that.  But if there's anything interesting y'all would like to see with Twitter and Facebook, let me know!!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Cluttered House, Cluttered Mind

I loved my rooms in college, I loved that they were mine (I always had singles) and that I didn't have to pack to go anywhere mid-week (I went back and forth between my parents' houses growing up).  I loved setting everything up, giving everything a home, and then living any way I wanted.  And then at the end of every year, I cleaned it all out, packed it up, and got to do it all over again the next year.

I've learned over the years that I tend to not like to throw things away.  Some things with sentimental value I understand keeping (and I finally bought a box to stash them in).  But other things... like the bear I got for free when I signed up for an airline miles card.  I just can't throw away a stuffed animal, don't have it in me.  I guess I can toss it to the dog to take care of... And then there are the tins that special edition video games came in.  I guess I can store stuff in them.  There's the basket for a plant... I could get a plant for it.  And a spray bottle from when we were training our last dog.  And a random red triangle paperweight thingy that I think might be JP's (and thus I must ask him before tossing it).

But see how it then happens that the clutter remains?  If I can find any reason to use something or want to refer to something in the next few years I'll keep it.  And then of course if I need it, I'll either forget I have it or can't find it and have to buy a new one.  And it all piles up.  Baskets of cords and chargers, old magazines, a million short story magazines.

When I was in college, my favorite procrastination technique was to clean my room.  I was never more organized and put together then when I had a paper due.  Over the years, however, I've found other procrastination techniques... like the internet, chatting, television.

I've definitely one of those people who starts to feel it when the house is in disarray.  I may not realize how much it impacts me, but slowly over time I just realize that I feel a little antsy, a little out of sorts, a little off.  And then I realize that it's because there's clutter everywhere.

But not anymore!  Now that I have three deadlines May 1, I figure it's an excellent time for some hard core procrastination.  I thought about posting updated pics on Twitter ... and if y'all promise not to judge the state of my "pre-cleaned and pre-organized" house then I will.  Maybe that will give me more accountability :)

So are any of y'all of the pack-rat variety?  What do you find yourself keeping?  How do you get over it and throw it away?  Any tips??

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Proud Mom on Release Day

My mom loves books.  She also loves buying books (a trait she definitely passed on to me).  In fact, one of our favorite things to do when I come into town is to head to a bookstore and browse.  It used to be that she'd head off to her section (new releases and fiction) and I'd head off to mine (YA/teen).  Even when I first sold my book she admitted that she felt a little hesitant and lost when she went to the YA section without me.

But then I bought her The Hunger Games.  And I started sending her YA books once I was done with them.  And more and more she's been hanging out with me in the teen section, asking about the books, the authors, and the "behind the scenes" info.  These days she alternates between adult and teen books, venturing into teen territory all on her own :)

Anyway, ever since I started writing my mom talked about how excited she would be to one day walk into a bookstore and buy my book.  She never questioned that one day she'd be able to do this.  Not once.  And so when I sold my book and called her up to tell her the news the first thing I said to her was, "How is it going to feel to walk into a bookstore and buy your daughter's book next year?"

I think her screams of joy were louder than mine had been :)  I really wish I'd been there when my book hit the shelves in my hometown, but my mother wouldn't have missed it for the world.  And thankfully she had someone there to take some pictures :)

So here's my mom, on the day her youngest daughter's debut hit the shelves.  I think I'm the one who's so proud to have such a fantastic mother :)  Thanks mom!