Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A random confession about t-shirts

I'm oddly particular about t-shirts in that often they feel like they're strangling me and therefore it can be hard to find ones that are comfortable.  Add to that the fact that I've been going to the gym every day (and thus needing many t-shirts because I'm too lazy to do laundry that often) and you understand why, when I find a t-shirt that fits and is on sale, I buy several at once.

And it just so happens that some of my favorite t-shirts are from Old Navy (love the cotton, love the distressed look, love the fit, etc).   And it also just so happens that the recent batch of shirts on sale were the ones with sports team logos on them.  So I bought a bunch.  Sure, because I live in Charlotte I got one for the Carolina Panthers, but other than that I chose based purely on color and design of the logo.

not me
Which is how I ended up with one for the Indianapolis Colts (blue with a horseshoe), the Philadelphia Phillies (pink/red with a P on it - wearing it right now), New York Giants (blue with NY), and Green Bay Packers (I liked the green).  Notice that there's no theme -- different sports, different types of logos, different seasons, etc.  I'm telling you, I really just chose based on pure aesthetics.

What I didn't really think through when I bought these is that there are a lot of people out there who care very much about their sports teams.  And walking around with their team emblazoned on your chest is an open invitation to chat about it.  While I enjoy all sports and generally understand them all (and played several), I don't particularly have the time these days to stay really on top of things.  Which is perhaps a mistake.

Because almost every day, someone comments on my shirt and asks me things about whatever team I happen to be wearing.  I walked to lunch a few weeks ago and someone shouted at me across the room and gave me a thumbs up.  At first I thought they might know me, might be commenting on my style (which I soon dismissed because I was in full-on author deadline mode) and finally realized that, no, they were fans of the Giants and I was wearing my Giants shirt.

Yesterday, someone asked me how my team did this weekend.  I had to look down at my shirt (Colts) and thankfully remembered Barry Goldblatt had tweeted about the Cowboys beating the Colts so at least I could answer that question.  The day before that I walked into the gym and the guy behind my desk mentioned something about my team and I had to stammer that I wasn't even quite sure who the logo represented (he let me know which was very nice of him).

This post is really apropos of nothing, just that I always find it very lovely how complete strangers become less so when one person is wearing something familiar to the other, especially a sports logo.  But I also feel a little bit like a liar every time I put one of these shirts on -- like I should apologize to those strangers who do start conversations with me only to realize that what they thought we have in common isn't true.

And who knows, maybe they'll make a fan of me yet!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Books -- the adventure begins

I have a habit of giving books as gifts, especially to my nephews and niece.  I was just talking to my sister about what my oldest nephew might want and she suggested his first Hardy Boys.  So I went and looked it up and then I started to remember the books I read at his age.

Encyclopedia Brown.  Boxcar Kids.  Bunnicula.  Nancy Drew.

I'm not going to lie, I actually got a little teary.  Part of it was remembering how much joy I found in reading those books.  But most of it was imagining the worlds my nephew has yet to uncover.  All of these books!  All of these mysteries he has yet to solve, the characters he's yet to meet.

He has so much waiting for him!

Maybe buying books doesn't make me the coolest aunt, but that's okay because there will be those nights when he's reading late (with his lego headlamp) and racing toward the end of one book so he can reach for the next... I just love that in some small measure, I'll be a part of that moment because I helped start him on those journeys.

I can't wait for his adventures to begin!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NCTE and ALAN recap plus a huge thanks!

I'm home! The Halloween decorations are down (okay, I admit, they're not put away yet, just piled out of sight).  Christmas lights are up outside (another admission: they stayed up all year but NOW I get to turn them on!).  I have a whole month stretching ahead of me of nothing but writing (and perhaps one more trip).

I've learned over the past season that traveling throws me off schedule and if I'm anything, it's a creature of habit.  I have to get into a groove and any disruption takes several days to shake itself out.  It's the same thing with writing -- if I take a day or more off from the book I forget what I've been doing... threads get dropped, storylines forgotten, little ideas lost.  I had HUGE plans to keep writing through all the traveling but if there's anything else I know about myself, it's hard to hole up in a room and write when there's fun to be had (and for the record, I did write most days I was gone!).

Most recently (well, before Thanksgiving rather), I had the chance to attend NCTE and ALAN.  First of all, I owe a massive thanks to C. Lee McKenzie, who was the point person for putting together a panel for NCTE that I got to participate in (you can read more about it here).  Also on the panel were Cheryl Herbsman, Erin Dionne, Cynthea Liu and Kurtis Scaletta.  We talked about the use of language, specifically dialect and misspellings and accents, in writing and it was fascinating.  Everyone had such fantastic points -- I loved Cheryl talking about how readers assume her character is dumb because she speaks (as written) with a Southern accent and Kurtis discussed how he made his Liberian characters sound Liberian.  The entire panel was just fascinating and eye opening.

As I mentioned in my speech, I was one of those students who always scoffed at the idea that authors paid attention or put that much thought into such tiny details.  Being walked through the thought processes of these authors and the decisions they made with language and why just proves that a HUGE amount of thought goes into those choices!

I discussed how I came up with the words for zombies in my books which essentially meant creating a slang passed down over more than a century past an imagined event.  I'm actually going to blog about it soon!

A few times I got to walk the floor at NCTE (basically stroll through the booths all the publishers set up) and naturally I was too busy oogling all the books to take pictures.  I love books.  LOVE books!  So it was with a massive amount of strength that I was able to walk out of the conference rooms with armfulls of them (I had to carry my luggage home and I refuse to add significantly to my book collection until I buy more bookcases!).  Sigh... I could have spent HOURS in that room with all those books...

This year was also my first time at ALAN and I fell in love.  Essentially, the set up of the ALAN conference was two days of authors speaking... basically a new author every 10 minutes.  I looked at the list of attendees and about died -- so many amazing authors!  I couldn't believe when I saw my name next to theirs!

And the attendees for both NCTE and ALAN -- all booklovers!  It's almost impossible to describe the energy that comes from being surrounded by so many people who not only love books, but live books and share books and spread the book love.

Of course, another big highlight was being able to see friends again and meet new ones.  It's always sort of mindboggling to me to meet an author and know that I have every one of their books sitting on my shelves and I've looked up to them for years.  I've been asked before why I wanted to be a writer and part of my answer is that growing up, authors were my rock stars and movie stars.  Finding myself talking to them, grabbing lunch or sliding down the Jaguar Slide or sitting at the bar with them, is a massively surreal experience.  Seriously, I've actually pinched myself several times.
view from lunch

Also, there were giraffes.  And zebras.  Not at my hotel but Ally Carter's.  I couldn't get enough.

I flew home from Orlando incredibly pumped up.  There are so many smart and engaged and enthusiastic librarians and teachers and professors out there and I'm thrilled for the students who get to interact with them on a daily basis.  I also got reminded, once again, how lucky I am.

Sometimes I just entrench into my daily life of habits: writing, despairing over my to-do list, etc., and then there are the moments when I raise my head and realize: I can't believe this is my life.  I can't believe how lucky I am.  I get to live my dream and it's because of the amazing people I met at NCTE/ALAN and because of such wonderful readers like y'all.

So thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Darren Shan in Charlotte Thurs and NCTE/ALAN schedule!

in Charlotte Thurs!
I'm so bummed I'm leaving town on Thursday and won't be around to go see Darren Shan at Park Road Books (even details here)!  Most of y'all probably know him for the Cirque du Freak books and I think he'll be signing those in addition to his latest project, a sequel to Cirque du Freak, The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Birth of a Killer.

Where will I be on Thursday?  On my way to Orlando for NCTE and ALAN which I'm super crazy excited about!  It's my first time at either event and I'm trying not to be nervous as I go over my presentation.  I think one of the things I'm most excited about is geeking out with fellow book lovers -- there's really nothing more fun than that!

If you're also headed to NCTE or ALAN, come say hi!  Here's my schedule:

Friday @ 2:30 in the Coronado/Durango Room 2: Why "Ain't" and "Gotta" Gotta be in Todays' Books for Kids and Teens with Erin Dionne, Cheryl Herbsman, Cynthea Liu, Kurtis Scaletta and C. Lee McKenzie who just posted a fabulous blog about what the panel is about here.  I'll be talking about how I created the language I use in my world and what considerations went into formulating the words my characters would use (Unconsecrated, Mudo, Breaker, etc) and how I hope that influences the reader experience.

Friday @ 5:00 I'll be autographing at the Random House Children's Booth in Coronado Veracruz Exhibit Hall, Booth #733.

Tuesday @ 1:55 in Coronado Ballroom H: ALAN Workshop: Finding Mystery in Strange Company with panelists Holly Black and Marlene Perez.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

on NaNoWriMo

Yep, it's that time of the year again: National Novel Writing Month!  The thirty days in which people all over the world pledge to write a novel (defined as 50,000 words).  Some of y'all may know that I started writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth for NaNo in 2006.  At the time I was in the middle of writing a chick lit that had already been rejected once and had just started a new YA for a writing class a few weeks before but one of the "rules" of NaNo is that your NaNo book must be word 1-50,000 and not 20,000-70,000.

I was a stickler for the rules and so I started casting about for a new idea -- something to stretch my writing voice and take me in a new direction -- and that's when JP (my husband) suggested I write what I love which was zombies and that was that.  A year later I sold The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Did I "win" NaNo (i.e. write 50,000 words during November)?  No.  I only wrote 20-30k.  I became unerringly stuck and ran out of time, etc etc, but I kept writing and finished the first draft in April, 2007.  Did it stress me out that I "lost" NaNo?  Nope.

To be honest, my goal wasn't really to write 50k words in a month, it was to WRITE.  See, I've found that it's crazy easy to *want* to write, to *think* about writing, to *plan* to write but not always easy to actually sit down and write.  It's too easy to find excuses in life -- to have other priorities (cleaning, exercising, watching TV, sleeping) and to put off writing until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Furthermore, while motivation ultimately has to come from the inside, sometimes it's nice to have external cheerleaders and having someone expecting you to write words is the motivation you need to sit down and pound out some words.  And once you develop that habit, it gets easier and easier to keep sitting down to write.

To me, that's the beauty of NaNo.  Some people don't need the added incentive to sit down and write, some don't need the insta-community of like-minded folks because they already have a support system.  But others need to have that opportunity to, for one month, put writing first and have a community of folks doing the same -- reinforcing the decision.

Here's my takeaway message for NaNo: why not?  Why not challenge yourself and push?  Why not delve into the task along with hundreds of thousands of other writers and take this one month to put writing above all else.  If you find that it's destroying your writing, if it's making things worse... then walk away.  There's no guilt for failing to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  Writing is hard enough with pressuring yourself unreasonably.

To me the guilt comes from not writing at all.  If you want to be a writer then there is one thing you must do without fail: write.  If you want to sell a book, you have to write a book.  And if NaNo is what it takes to motivate you, then jump in with both feet.  If you fail, the key is not to give up -- the key is to keep writing.

So good luck to all you NaNoWriMos out there!  Yay for putting writing first and regardless of the outcome, I hope all of you keep writing!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Upcoming events in Charlotte, NYC and beyond!

Hey y'all!  Just wanted to let you in on a few upcoming events:

Thursday, October 21 at 4:30 PM
Kinston, NC
I'll be speaking at the Kinston-Lenior Public Library.  You can find more information here.

Friday, October 29 at 6:00 PM
New York, NY
The Princeton Club, 15 West 43rd Street
I'll be speaking at the Williams Club and reading from The Dark and Hollow Places (the first sneak peek!) and signing afterward.  T
here should be books for sale after the event!   The event is free but reservations are required -- you can email eventsATprincetonclub.com or call 212.596.1261 to reserve.  See below for more details!
click to view full size

Saturday, October 30
Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Geeks Gala
I'll be the guest judge for the Geeks Got Talent contest!  There is a cost for admission and all proceeds go to Youth Homes, an organization dedicated to providing supportive human services to children and families.  For more information about the event, click here.  This is going to be a super fun gala and I can't wait to see y'all there!!

To learn more about the Charlotte Geeks, the Gala and to see me on TV, click here!  I have to admit, I was SUPER NERVOUS about the whole experience until I realized that I just had to sit there and the head of the Charlotte Geeks, Joey, was the one to do all the talking.  She did a brilliant job!  Also, she organized to have some zombies, some trekkers, Bat Girl and someone dressed up in an awesome steampunk outfit.  Joey totally outdid herself -- she rocks!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Michael Grant in Charlotte Monday!

I love Michael Grant.  I love his books and I think he's hilarious and thoughtful in person.  I had the great pleasure of speaking on a panel with him last year in NYC and have been hoping that we'd be able to cross paths again.  So you can imagine how excited I am that he'll be in town doing a few school visits and then signing at my local indie!

Here are the details:

When:  Monday, October 12 at 4:00 PM
Where: Park Road Books
What: He's touring for his new MG series The Magnificent 12 which has been getting some truly excellent reviews.  But I hear rumor he'll also be signing his other books as well!

One of the questions we got asked while on the panel in NYC was about the limits of what we can and can't write about as authors (or rather, what limitations we feel put on us by editors, publishing houses, readers, etc).  Michael discussed the interesting intersection between writing violence and the words authors can use to describe that violence and how often that creates a situation where something violent happens and the character's response is "oh darn" rather than an expletive.  His answer has always stuck with me because I think there's a similar intersection between writing about violence and sexual situations -- how much more leeway I feel writers have in writing violent situations than they do writing about sexual situations.

If you're interested, you can actually watch the panel here.  It was a post-apocalyptic teen panel featuring Michael Grant, Scott Westerfeld, James Dasher and me.

Hope to see some of y'all on Monday at the signing!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Novello Festival of Reading in Charlotte October 9th!

This weekend in Charlotte NC is a Tribute to Novello Festival of Reading!  Here's the info on my panel, Saturday October 9th:

1:15 p.m. Young Adult
Carrie Ryan: Dead-Tossed Waves, Forest of Hands & Teeth
Karon Luddy: Spelldown
Joyce Hostetter: Comfort, Blue, Healing Water

I have a very deep love for the Novello Festival.  For those of you who don't live in Charlotte (or for those who do and didn't know about Novello), it's a festival put on by the Charlotte/Mecklenburg library system (PLCMC) that began in 1991 (this would have been the 20th anniversary) and, as its name implies, is a festival that celebrates reading.

I first heard about it in 2007.  The day after I sold my book to Delacorte Press I found out that Libbra Bray, another Delacorte author, would be one of the guests at Novello and that it was happening that weekend -- less than a week after my deal went through.  I couldn't believe my luck!  So my husband and I both went down to hear her speak and nervously, I stood in line to meet her and I introduced myself and told her I'd just sold to the same house she wrote for.

ZvU - even back in 2007!
She leapt up, gave me a hug, signed my book (yay team zombie!) and I walked on air for weeks after.  It's hard to explain how awe-filled that moment was for me -- I'm such a huge fan of Libba's writing and I spent half of the festival staring at her and thinking, "One day, that could be me! I could be on a stage talking about my books!  One day, I'll have a book on the shelves people might ask me to sign."  And of course Libba was so funny and gracious and flat out awesome... she was so welcoming to me as a brand new author.

I always remember that feeling -- how full I was on the absolute joy of that day at Novello.

So I was upset when I learned that, because of budget cuts, Novello had been cut from the PLCMC budget.  I wasn't surprised by the news -- I'd seen the signs, library budgets all over the country are being slashed and all told, a festival can be expensive and perhaps that money could go to keeping a library open one more hour or day a week -- a service desperately needed.

Luckily, there are people in Charlotte who were unwilling to let Novello go.  Who very smartly realized that there's a difference between reviving something that's mostly dead rather than all the way dead.  They decided that when the economy gets better it would be easier to say "hey, can we allocate a little bit more to this existing program?" rather than "hey, can we restart this program that had to be cut?"

A professor with UNC Charlotte, Mark West, and a former librarian and owner of Black Forest Books and Toys, Pat Siegfried, worked tirelessly to put together a Tribute to Novello to keep the tradition going.  Authors chipped in their time and hopefully the Charlotte community will turn out and prove how important it is to keep events like this going.

When all is said and done, I feel so amazingly honored to be part of the Novello tradition.  Three years ago, mere days after signing my first book deal, I dreamed of this moment.  I feel so amazingly lucky that it's coming true.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Smart Chicks Kick It Tour starts today!

I'm so super excited that the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour starts today in Austin, TX!  Wahoo!  For those of you who haven't heard about it, the Smart Chicks Tour was the idea of Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong and Alyson Noel who wanted to put together a tour of authors from various houses (usually, if authors get to tour in groups at all they're all from the same publishing house but they wanted to break this mold).  All told there are 17 authors going to 12 different cities over the next two weeks -- holy cow!!  Only Melissa, Kelley and Alyson will be at each stop so the mixture of authors will change from city to city.

My stops are in Chicago and San Diego -- here are the details:

September 21st, 2010 6 PM
@ Encinitas County Library, hosted by MYSTERIOUS GALAXY, San Diego, CA
Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Mary Pearson, Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, Carrie Ryan, Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia.

September 22nd, 2010 7 PM
@ Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College, Hosted by ANDERSON'S Naperville, IL
Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Jackson Pearce, Jennifer Barnes & Carrie Ryan
NOTE: for this event, it is free with the purchase on one book by a featured author or $5 without purchase.

Here's the full schedule.  Here's the list of authors.  And here's the blog where you can follow along with all the fun shenanigans (and get FAQs about the tour answered).

I'm just super excited about this tour because I love meeting and chatting with readers and I'm also pretty psyched to meet and hang out with such crazy awesome authors (I just started Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series -- why have I not read these before! I'm addicted!)

After the Smart Chicks tour I'll be at the Baltimore Book Festival and will post more details soon!

Other than that, I'm sick (which always happens after I hit a deadline and my body realizes that it's okay to relax and get sick) and working to catch up on all the things I let slide over the past month: emails, interviews, snail mail, etc etc.  My to-do list is long enough to make me weep but I'm determined to prevail!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Living Dead 2: Flotsam & Jetsam (free!)

It's been the summer o' anthologies for me!  First my short story about Sister Tabitha as a teen, Hare Moon, came out in Kiss Me Deadly, in a few weeks my short story set in Curacao (which explains where the term Mudo comes from) will be out in Zombies vs. Unicorns, and just a week ago another short story, Flotsam & Jetsam, came out in The Living Dead 2 anthology edited by John Joseph Adams! (for links to more information and how to purchase, click here).

Flotsam & Jetsam is about a group of teens who go on a senior cruise right when the zombie apocalypse happens (they clearly were unaware).  Infection breaks out on the ship, two boys escape into a life raft and one of them's infected (cue dun-dun-dun music).  I really love this story -- it's the first time I've written from a male POV and wrote something actually in the range of short story length.

I can't tell you how amazingly thrilled I am about this anthology and it's been getting a lot of love out there -- a starred review from PW and even Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead fame) called the collection a "must for any self respecting zombie completist."  It's packed with stories (44!) that are a mixture of reprints and originals and the author list blows me away: Max Brooks, Robert Kirkman, David Wellington, Charie Priest, Jonathan Mayberry and Kelley Armstrong to name a few -- there are so many wonderful authors!

Honestly, I'm still stunned I got to be a part of this anthology.  And not just be a part of it, but have my name on the cover.  I'm not lying, I cried when I saw it (I'll blog more on that later).

John's set up a fantastic website for the anthology here.  There are interviews with various authors (my interview is here) and even free stories (you can read Flotsam & Jetsam for free here).

Yes, that's right -- you can read my short story FOR FREE! Yay!

I hope y'all like the story and love the anthology as much as I do.  Being such a big zombie fan, I'm thrilled to have so much to sink my teeth into :)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Decatur Book Festival!!

Yay for Decatur Book Festival weekend!!!  I've heard such amazing things about this festival and if the rest of the weekend is as awesome as today it will rock!  I spoke to 8th and 9th graders at Decatur High School this afternoon and they were an amazing amazing group -- I felt like the luckiest author to be talking to such avid readers and engaged students.  Now I'm all pumped up for tomorrow!

On Saturday I'll be on the Zombies vs. Vampires Smackdown panel with Alyxandra Harvey.  It's billed as a very audience involved panel so I'm really hoping a lot of y'all come out!  The list of authors here this weekend is both awesome and intimidating so if zombies and vampires aren't your thing, I'm betting there will be another author and panel right up your alley!

The panel is at 3pm at the Escape at the Old Courthouse.

I also got to meet up with friend and author John Bemis (whose second book, The Wolf Tree just came out -- the first, The Nine Pound Hammer, was so much fun) at Little Shop of Stories which is just one of my favorite bookstores.  One of the things I love about this shop, other than just the ambience of it, is how enthusiastic everyone there is about books and reading.  I pretty much love anyone whose first question is "What are you reading now" and then you can both geek out on awesome books.  Terra and Krista were super helpful getting me to the event and just being excited about the whole weekend.

I'm not going to lie, it's strange to be sitting in my hotel room thinking "there are people out there who love books and I need to go find them and talk to them!"  I also haven't eaten all day so... I think I'm going to find some book lovers to join me for some food!

Hope to see many of y'all tomorrow!  I'll also be around before and after so if you can't catch the panel just come say hi (I might be wearing a kraken shirt... haven't decided...).

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Dark and Hollow Places -- in all its covery glory

YAY!  I finally get to post the US cover for The Dark and Hollow Places!  I know many of you have seen versions of this cover out and about but they were still working on some tweaks and I wanted to make sure I had the final file before posting.  But here it is!  I am IN LOVE with this cover!  LOVE LOVE LOVE!  I love the model, I love the dirt and grime, I love where she is, I love the expression on her face, I love everything.  It fits the story sooo well and I just feel like the luckiest author in the entire world.

click for high res
Here's the back cover copy:
There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister’s face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah’s world stopped that day and she’s been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn’t feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.

Except, Catcher has his own secrets -- dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah’s longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah -- can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?
Right now, the release date is scheduled to be March 22, 2011!  YAY!  Here's a link to a recent post about ARCs and who to contact to request one.  Please leave any questions in the comments and I'll try to answer them all!

You can also pre-order The Dark and Hollow Places: [Amazon] [Barnes & Noble[autographed copy from Park Road Books -- my local indie] (I'll add links to IndieBound, etc., as they come available)

Also, don't forget I'll be at the Decatur Book Festival this weekend and appearing on the Vampires vs. Zombies Smackdown panel on Saturday at 3PM!  More details are here.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who's emailed or tweeted to tell me you're looking forward to The Dark and Hollow Places -- you truly make my day!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Overheard around the house

JP: Why are their containers of frozen water in the freezer?

Me: Because I plan on setting them on fire.

JP: Okaaaaay... why are their several of them?

Me: Because I want to use different fuels.  You weren't planning on drinking that 151 anytime soon were you?

JP:  I'm still not sure that answers the fundamental question of Why.

Me:  Research.

JP:  I'll get the fire extinguisher.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Antho! Kiss Me Deadly in the wild!

My first story in an antho!
My first short story has been released to the wild!  The anthology, Kiss Me Deadly, just came out a few weeks ago and my story in it, Hare Moon, is about Sister Tabitha from The Forest of Hands and Teeth when she was a teen.  I've actually written a whole blog post about this -- why I chose to write about Sister Tabitha and what she means to me -- but I still haven't decided if I want to post it.

I always struggle with the tension between my belief that once the author is done writing the story it belongs to the readers on the one hand and my wanting to discuss why I made decisions in the story on the other hand.  I feel like explaining things can get close to defending decisions and... I just don't know how I feel about that.  I have no problem having these dicussions live at signings but for some reason when I write blog posts about the same things I feel like I'm just sounding defensive rather than informative.
Sister T's story

What do y'all think?  Should I talk more about the decisions I made when writing and why?

In the mean time, here's a taste of what people are saying about Hare Moon:

Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth) offers a story about devastating decisions in villages threatened by the Unconsecrated.
- Publishers Weekly 
This is definitely another favourite. It is part of Carrie Ryan’s Forest of Hands and Teeth series. I have yet to follow this series but Thea is a HUGE fan and now I understand why.... The writing is evocative and beautiful about a very fundamental conflict between love and duty, history and memory and choices.
- The Book Smugglers
I supposed I can't hate Tabitha now that I read her beautiful but bittersweet story. Fans of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series, this is a must read!
 - I Just Want to Sit Here and Read
For fans of Ms. Ryan's previous works The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves (like me)... this is a treat, one that will hopefully hold you over until the next book in the series... As always, Ms. Ryan's stories are bittersweet, heartbreaking but so beautifully told.
- all about {n}
Thanks for all the fantastic reviews y'all!!  I've been so thrilled by the responses to Sister Tabitha's story :)

Friday, August 06, 2010

A quick note about The Dark and Hollow Places ARCs

Hey y'all!  I've started to get some emails requesting advanced reader copies (ARCs) for The Dark and Hollow Places.  How stoked am I that people are already looking forward to it?  Wahooo!!  Thanks y'all!!  I just wanted to let anyone who is interested know that (a) there aren't any ARCs yet (I'm still revising); (b) when there are ARCs you'll know it because I'll be jumping up and down on the blog and posting pics; and (c) I very likely won't have any ARCs to give away.  I tend to only get a handful and my family has already called dibs (seriously, my brother-in-law cornered my mom yesterday thinking she might have a draft on her kindle (she doesn't -- if she did my sister would kill me)).

Have I mentioned how much I love my family and how excited I am that people are excited about The Dark and Hollow Places?  YAY!

Me and Appa got some revising to do
Anyway, if you'd like to review The Dark and Hollow Places you should contact my publicists directly and their information is under the contact tab on my website (under Publicity down in the middle of the page).  They'll be the ones with the ARCs (when there actually are ARCs).

(also, I might point out that when I was copying the link to my website above I almost accidentally copied the link to the RockBand download of Do You Want To Date My Avatar - ha!  We know what I'll be doing this weekend).

So it should surprise no one that I haven't been blogging or tweeting as much seeing as how I have revisions to finish so that said ARCs can be produced.  Such silence will probably continue for a few more weeks.  Sorry!

Thanks again for all the interest in The Dark and Hollow Places -- seriously, knowing that people are looking forward to the next book makes revising fun... or at least tolerable... or at least not quite so terrifying (actually, that's not true either, knowing people are looking forward to it does make the revising a bit terrifying).  And thanks to the teen readers at the Terryberry Branch of the Hamilton Public Library and their librarian Pamela for a fantastic Skype session yesterday -- what a great way to end the day!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Apparently I'm not one to throw things away

I'm not talking about the disturbing tower of diet coke cans piling up around my desk (though that exists at the moment -- I'm revising, everyone knows that revisions are fueled by diet coke).  Instead I'm talking about other things... clothes, electronics, bottles of lotion (I'll be explaining that last one, never fear).

As it turns out, I'm someone who is apparently afraid of throwing something away that might, some distant day in the future, be useful.  Of course, because I'm also not the most organized person, I tend to not be able to find said thing and usually end up buying a new one.  This is why we have at least a dozen three-to-two prong plug converters (in our house you can never really have enough) and why I have a laptop from 1997 in my attic (complete with stacks of floppies brimming with old papers and short stories).  In the attic at my dad's house I have every paper I wrote in college, including the drafts (which, now that I think about it, probably has print outs of what's on those floppies like my old short stories - score!).  In my own attic I have clothes I bought with my first pay check as a summer associate at a law firm in 2003 (not only do those clothes not fit any more, why would I ever need them in my current profession of sitting around the house in PJs?)

Half the things I keep around are broken: all of the ethernet cables I've hoarded are missing the little clip at the end that keeps them plugged in so I'm constantly having to shove the suckers back into their ports -- but they work so why replace them?  We have three couches in our living room currently because I can't bear to throw out a comfortable, yet raggedy, old couch that still works.   In the attic I think I have every pair of shoe I've ever owned since college... even though most of them have the nails worn through on the heel but maybe I'll get them fixed one day (unlikely, we all know I'll just buy new ones).  And OMG I just realized I still have Halloween candy from two years ago (JP wouldn't let me hand it out last year) and Valentine candy hearts from when I was in law school which is over five years ago now!   Yet when I go to throw them away I think "They've stuck around this long..."

Sometimes saving things works out.  I still have my original rejection letters from when I queried my first book in 2001.  What's pretty cool is that I eventually got an offer from one of the people who initially rejected me way back when.  I'm super glad I have that stuff to look back over and remind me of my journey to where I am now.   I just found not only my first blue-tooth headset but also the charger (let me tell you how many times I almost threw away the charger but hung on to it JUST IN CASE I found the headset).  I bought both in 2006.  I don't think either works.  Sigh.

So what made me think about all of this?  The lotion bottles on my bedside table.  There are fourteen of them.  All of them (except one, the current bottle) in that stage of "almost empty but not quite and yet annoying to get lotion out so I should pick up a new one at the store to have on hand for when it runs out" stage.  There are also five canisters of Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme which I use as chapstick -- they're empty except for probably one "emergency if you scrape your nail under the rim you might just get enough" dose.  Also, two tubes of chapstick, one of them has been floating in an empty vase for probably two years.   Oh, and I think there are two more almost empty bottles of lotion in the hall closet "just in case."

Seriously, am I preparing for the apocalypse here?  An apocalypse in which I'll apparently be eating dusty candy hearts and scraping lotion from old bottles?  And yet, there is still some value to those lotion bottles -- I feel wasteful throwing them away.   Fourteen is a little much which is why I was laughing hysterically when I went to bed last night after having counted them all.  Fourteen! *shakes head*

What's funny is that this story will surprise no one in my family.  My Psych 101 prof said on the first day that everyone exhibits some form of obsessive behavior to which most people disagreed until he started asking people to recite random habits: one person could only go to sleep if the last time they saw on the clock was an even number, another person could only set their alarm to go off on a 3 or a 7, someone else always counted stairs, another flicked a light switch on then off then on again.   Apparently I hoard lotion bottles, shoes, and rejection letters just in case they'll become useful again.

When the apocalypse hits you're all invited to my house: we'll run away dressed as fancy lawyers with busted shoes, our skin won't be dry and our bellies will be full of old candy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reminder: Spartanburg, SC on Monday!

Just wanted to remind y'all that on Monday I'll be speaking at the Spartanburg County Library and then doing a reading and Q&A with Holly Black at the Hub City Bookshop.  Details are here.  Hope to see y'all there!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Where do ideas come from?

I was talking to my brother in law down at the beach last week about ideas.  He's a fourth grade teacher and one of the things he teaches his kids is creative writing.  I always find talking to him fascinating because he so often has to get at the origin of things.  It's one thing to talk to a teenager or an adult about writing a story because they've been exposed to them so much -- they know the basics -- but he often has to start at the very beginning and I'm not sure I'd know how to do that.

So we ended up talking about ideas -- how to find ideas to write about which is something he talks to his kids about.  It got me thinking, how do you find ideas?  It's a question a lot of writers get asked and the answers vary from "Walmart" to "my dreams" to "who the heck knows?"

I think my ideas come from wanting to know more.  I see or read or hear or feel something and it doesn't leave my head -- it tugs at me for a bit like a little string unravelling and I have to follow it.  Sometimes the string is short and sometimes long but I never know in the beginning.

For example, I don't even remember what kind of research I was doing when I stumbled upon a link for "brazen bull" on wikipedia.  I realized I didn't know what a brazen bull was and that if it had it's own wiki page, there had to be something there.  So I clicked.  Turns out it's a horrific torture device.  Like crazy crazy cruel (don't click that link unless you have a strong stomach!)

The first thing I did was email the link to my husband, JP, saying "There's a story there. I don't know what it is, but it's there."  I couldn't describe why I felt that way, it was just that when I read that article I could see the whole of things; I could see more than just the object, I could see the people who created it and feared it and died in it.

What I find interesting is when something that sparks my imagination clearly sparks someone else's.  The other night JP and I were talking about the brazen bull when he brought up something else he hadn't know the origin of.  Once he told me what it meant an entire book unfolded in my head.  I'm talking from title through the setting, the climax, the end.

I've never had a book so powerfully come together in my head that fast.  I started to get excited and then JP said "Er, I think there's already a book about that," but I wasn't to be deterred.  Just in case, though, I looked to see if there was a book and yep, sure enough.  Not just a book but one with a Newbery nod.  Sigh.  Clearly I'm not the only person who'd been sparked by that idea (I'm still hoping I can find a way to make that idea work down the road).

Sometimes these little sparks of ideas fizzle out -- there's not enough there to sustain interest or to hold up the plot of a book.  Sometimes they spark other ideas and steamroll into something totally unexpected.  The Forest of Hands and Teeth all started with the idea of what it would be like trapped in a village where zombies were the norm, not the new horror.

Sometimes the sparks just add flavor to a current project -- I found a working title for a new project when I was following interesting sounding links doing research and I came upon a definition of something that just perfectly fit the book (and no, not sharing - sorry!).

So if you're casting about for a new idea try to pay attention to those little things that grab at you.  The little things that make you wonder "who" or "why" or "how."  Maybe they won't turn into the perfect new idea you're looking for but they could lead you in the right direction :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Upcoming events!

Just wanted to let y'all know about some upcoming events! Hope to see y'all there!

Saturday, November 8, 2014 
YALLFest Book Festival in Charleston, SC
Blue Bicycle Books, 420 Kings Street
Join 60 of the country’s top YA authors, including 25 New York Times bestsellers for panels, presentations and signings on three stages on Upper King Street, as well as the infamous YA Smackdown! Click here for more info!

Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 2:00pm
Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC
Join JP and I as we celebrate the launch of The Map to Everywhere! For more info, click here.

UPCOMING in 2015 (subject to change):

May 15-16: South Carolina Book Festival


Monday, July 26, 2010, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Spartanburg Public Library Headquarters - Barrett Room
151 South Church Street, Spartanburg SC

Monday, July 26, 2010, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Reading and signing with Holly Black
Hub City Bookshop, Spartanburg, SC

July 28-29
Romance Divas Not Going to Conference Conference (NGTCC)
Online YA Workshop Panel
Link to come!

September 4, 2010, 3:00 pm
The Escape at the Old Courthouse, Decatur, GA
I'll be on the Zombies v. Vampires Smackdown on Saturday Sept 4th at 3PM at The Escape at the Old Courthouse.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 6:00 pm
Encinitas County Library, hosted by Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA
Event with Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Mary Pearson, Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia

Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 7:00 pm
Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College, hosted by Anderson's Bookshop, Chicago, IL
Event with Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Jackson Pearce & Jennifer Barnes
NOTE: for this event, it is free with the purchase on one book by a featured author or $5 without purchase

Friday, September 24, 2010, 5:30 pm
Baltimore, MD
Panel Discussion: Zombies vs. Unicorns debate with Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, Scott Westerfeld, Diana Peterfreund and Kathleen Duey.

Saturday, October 9, 2010
Novello Festival
 Tribute to Novello Festival of Reading!  Here's the info on my panel, Saturday October 9th:

1:15 p.m. Young Adult
Carrie Ryan: Dead-Tossed Waves, Forest of Hands & Teeth
Karon Luddy: Spelldown
Joyce Hostetter: Comfort, Blue, Healing Waterils to come.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM
Neuse Regional Library, Kinston, NC
I'll be speaking at the Kinston-Lenior Public Library.  You can find more information here.

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 6:00 PM
New York, NY
The Princeton Club, 15 West 43rd Street
I'll be speaking at the Williams Club and reading from The Dark and Hollow Places (the first sneak peek!) and signing afterward.  There should be books for sale after the event!   The event is free but reservations are required -- you can email eventsATprincetonclub.com or call 212.596.1261 to reserve.  See below for more details!
click to view full size

Saturday, October 30, 2010
Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Geeks Gala
I'll be the guest judge for the Geeks Got Talent contest!  There is a cost for admission and all proceeds go to Youth Homes, an organization dedicated to providing supportive human services to children and families.  For more information about the event, click 
here.  This is going to be a super fun gala and I can't wait to see y'all there!!
To learn more about the Charlotte Geeks, the Gala and to see me on TV, click here!

November 19-20, 2010
Orlando, FL
Details to come!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM
Miami, FL

Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Chicago, IL
Naperville location:
123 West Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540
Tel: 630-355-2665

Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 2:00 PM
Chicago, IL
Borders Schaumburg

Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 1:00 PM
Cincinnati, OH
2692 Madison Road
Cincinnati OH 45208
(513) 396-8960

Monday, March 28, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Dayton, OH
Books and Co. at the Greene

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake City Public Library, Main Library hosted by The King's English
1511 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 7:00 PM
West Jordan, UT

Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Phoenix, AZ
6428 S McClintock Dr
Tempe, AZ 85283
Tel: 480-730-0205

Friday, April 1, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Phoenix, AZ

Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 3:00 PM
Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 2:00 PM
San Diego/Los Angeles, CA

Monday, April 4, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Los Angeles, CA
8818 Sunset Blvd.
W. Hollywood CA, 90069
This is a joint signing with other awesome authors I shall reveal shortly :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011 all day
Los Angeles, CA
click image to make bigger so you can read all the fun details!

Monday, April 11, 2011 
from 5:00-6:00PM
Spartanburg, SC
I'll be signing and chatting with readers from 5-6 and then from 7-9 I'll be giving a writing workshop on how to put tension on every page, especially when it comes to writing YA. Space is limited -- click here for more information!  You don't have to be a part of the workshop to come to the signing!

April 12 - April 15, 2011
Austin, TX
TLA (I don't have a schedule of events yet but will post when I do)

April 15 - April 16, 2011
Austin Texas
Writer's League of Texas, YA A to Z Conference

Sunday, May 15th, 3:00 PM
414 Hasty Street
Marshville, NC 28103

September 23-25
SCBWI-Carolinas Conference
Charlotte, NC
I'll be hosting a round table of published authors answering your questions (registration for the conference required).

October 4, 2011, 6 pm
Lansing, Michigan
Another fantastic lineup of YA authors traveling around the country to celebrate books!  Click here for more info.

Friday, October 21, 2011 at 6:00 PM
Melbourne, FL
Barnes & Noble

Details here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011
Teen Read Week, Palm Bay and Satellite Beach Florida.
Satellite Beach Library at 11 a.m.  Details here.
Franklin T DeGroodt Memorial Library at 2 p.m. Details here and below (talk followed by a Zombie self-defense class)!

Friday, October 28, 2011 
Wingate University, Wingate, NC
Ethel K. Smith Library
Zombie walk at 6pm, hors d'oeurves at 6:30pm, talk at 7pm with signing to follow!  Click here for more info.

November 11-12, 2011
YALLFest: Charleston Young Adult Book Festival
Charleston, SC
I'm so excited to be a part of such a wonderful list of authors at this year's YALLFest!  For more information click here and I'll update my schedule as I get more details!

December 13, 2011
Writing Workshop at Myers Park library
Charlotte, NC
I'll be giving a writing workshop at my local library.  Click here for more details!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 7:00 pm
Fireside Books and Gifts, Forest City, NC
Join author Stephanie Perkins and me as we help Beth Revis celebrate the launch of A MILLION SUNS!  Book talk, discussion, signing and just generally hanging out :)  There will also be a virtual component of this event, click here for more details!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Books of Wonder, NYC
Discussion and signing featuring me, Beth Revis, Julie Cross, Megan Miranda and Maureen Lipinski.  For more info, click here!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 5 pm
Mint Hill branch of the Mecklenburg Co. Library, Charlotte, NC
I'll be talking about the process and craft of writing and answering questions!
Details here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012, 7pm
Malaprops Bookstore, Asheville, NC
Southern Kidlit Writers Cabal
Join nine of the south's best authors of middle grade and young adult fiction as they descend on Malaprop's for one crazy night of writer revelry. With more than two dozen critically-acclaimed and New York Times bestselling books between them, the kidlit cabal runs the gamut of historical, fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary novels. Come and see your favorite authors and meet new favorites you haven't read yet as they answer your burning questions about writing, editing, publishing, and the zombie apocalypse: Alan Gratz, Gwenda Bond, Carrie Ryan, Beth Revis, Megan Shepherd, Megan Miranda, Tiffany Trent, Laurel Snyder, and Kristin Tubb!
Details here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012, 5:30-7:30
Tulsa City-County Library - Peggy Helmerich Library, Tulsa, OK
Come celebrate Teen Read week with me! The theme this year is "It Came From the Library" and what better way to celebrate than with all things zombie? Here's the official description and poster for the event (click poster for larger version): 
Zombies love prom almost as much as brains! Help us celebrate Teen Read Month with a zombie costume and walk-off contest, an apocalypse survival box challenge, zombie peg doll crafts, and a zombie prom photo station! Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of zombie series The Forest of Hands and Teeth, will be on hand to dish about zombies, writing and her novels. A book signing will follow.

Saturday, November 10, 2012, all day
Charleston, SC

Who’s coming: 44 (and counting) of the country’s top YA authors, including 25 New York Times bestsellers

What: Panels, presentations and signings on more than three stages on Upper King Street, as well as the infamous YA Smackdown!

When: Sat., Nov. 10, 2012, 10 am to 6 pm. 

Where: Blue Bicycle Books & The American Theatre, King Street, Charleston, SC 
Cost: FREE!

Monday, November 19, 2012, 7:00 pm - ?
Park Road Books, Charlotte NC (4139 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28209 Tel: 704-525-9239)

What: The signing is officially in honor of the release of My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop but I'll also be signing anything else I've written (booksshort stories, etc).  I typically like to chat for a bit and then take Q&A so if the store is amenable, I'll be starting that at 7:00 and signing directly after (I'll make a note here if that plan changes).  If you can't make it but would still like signed and/or personalized books, you can also contact the store and pre-order one and I'll sign it that night.  Actually, you can always order signed and/or personalized books of mine from Park Road Books at any time (info here) --  they've always been incredibly supportive and gracious in facilitating that!
More Details here!

A note: I don't know what Park Road Books' policy is on bringing outside books or limits and as soon as I find out I'll update this post.  If you have questions before I can update, you can contact them directly. However, I would really love it if you would purchase a book (or more!) from Park Road while you're there (even if it's not one of mine).  Park Road Books is a really fantastic indie bookstore and they put their heart and soul into what they do -- we as a community need to support them!

On a more personal note, Park Road Books has supported me from day one and I feel incredibly lucky to live so close to such a wonderful store and honored that they chose me to represent them in the book My Bookstore.  I'm awed to be in the company of so many other amazing authors and am thrilled we could all come together to celebrate Independent Bookstores!

Oh... and a final note that signed books make for excellent holiday gifts... :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 3pm

City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC
Signing and discussion with me, Beth Revis, and Megan Shepherd!
More info here!

Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 2pm
Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, TX
Signing and discussion with me, Beth Revis, and Victoria Schwab!
More info here!

Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7pm
Birkdale Barnes & Noble in Huntersville (outside of Charlotte)
Signing and discussion with me, Beth Revis, and Aprilynne Pike!
More info here!

Less Than Three anti-bullying conference, October 19, 2013
NINC Conference, October 24-27, 2013
YALLFest, November 9, 2013

January 17-19, 2014
Williamsburg, VA
MarsCon Guest of Honor

Monday, March 3, 2014
Charlotte, NC
Celebration of Read Across America Day at Whitewater Academy

Wednesday, March 26
Kennesay, GA
Kennesaw State University Conference on Literature for Children and YA.
More info here.

Saturday May 3, 2014
Concord, NC
Presentation to the Carolina Romance Writers.
More info here!

May 14-17, 2014
RT Booklovers Convention - New Orleans
SIGNING: Saturday, May 17, 11:00-2:00: Giant Book Fair, YA Alley (more info here
Here's my panel schedule (also available here):
Wed, May 14, 2:30-3:30: eBooks in Bookstores/Libraries: New Opportunities for Success
Friday, May 16, 1:30-2:30: YA: “What a Wonderful World”: YA High Fantasy
Friday, May 16, 2:45-3:45: YA: “Take a Chance on Me”: Money Matters
Saturday, May 17, 5:00-6:00: “Stone Crazy”: Liars Panel

May 30-June 1, 2014
ConCarolinas - Charlotte, NC
With Guest of Honor George RR Martin!
More information here.

June 29, 2014, 3-4PM
ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas
My co-writer (and husband) JP and I will be attending the ALA conference in Las Vegas! We'll be signing galleys for the first book in our middle grade fantasy adventure series, THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE in the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Booth (Booth #422) on Sunday from 3-4PM! Come grab an ARC and say hi!
For more details, click here!

Friday, October 3, 2014 at 7:00PM
Qual Ridge Books: 3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh, NC 27607 
I'll be interviewing Kami Garcia about her latest release, answering questions, and signing!
For more details, click here!

September 19-21: SCBWI-C Annual Conference
October 9-11: NC SLMA Conference, Winston Salem, NC