Monday, January 31, 2011

First lines, oh my!

First off, announcements:

  1. The paperback of The Dead-Tossed Waves comes out a week from tomorrow (Feb 8th).  How did time pass at such warp speed!?  And yes, it has the first chapter of The Dark and Hollow Places in the back :)
  2. The very talented and super nice author Sarwat Chadda reviewed The Forest of Hands and Teeth and interviewed me about it on his blog as part of his Kiss Me, Kill Me blog series (a really awesome series!).  Here's the link!

Thank you all for indulging me in my quest to play around with QR codes.  Seems that it worked so I think I'll keep playing :)  For those of you who, like me until recently, didn't know what a QR code was or don't have the ability to scan one, here's the first line to The Dark and Hollow Places:

This city used to be something once.

I've posted before about first lines (here's a list of some of them from works that will never see the light of day).  Generally, I can't really get going on a project until I have that first line and usually, that line never changes.  The opening to The Forest of Hands and Teeth is still the same as it was when I emailed it to myself in November 2006 when I first came up with it.

Now, I'll admit that the first line to The Dead-Tossed Waves changed several times as I kept changing who the protagonist was and where/when it was set but the line that made it into the book is still the same line that started out that particular draft (and in the interesting tidbit category, I also came up with that first line while on the road and emailed it to myself -- seems to be a trend.)

Of course, all that being said... the first line of The Dark and Hollow Places changed.  For a very long time it used to be, "It was only a matter of time before the Dark City fell."  And oh, when I look back on the proposal that included that first line I just have to laugh because WOW did this book ever change from inception to final product!

For proof of that, let's look at the "outline" I created using post-it notes and my hallway (let's not discuss how long it's actually been there...).  Even now I sometimes pause and read one of those little notes and laugh and laugh and laugh because almost none of those plot points ended up in the book.

Yes, I wish I had a different process that didn't include hallways of notes that never see the light of day and yet at the same time, I've started to embrace the process I do have.  Because by putting all those notes together I understood more about the structure of the book and the characters and their roles individually and together.

Also, I got to spend a beautiful spring day outside just brainstorming various scene ideas and that's always fun :)

Anyway, it's interesting to think back on the process of how The Dark and Hollow Places got from point A (time to ponder the third book!) to point Z (on shelves March 22, 2011!).  Especially as I embark on new projects (lips sealed) and get excited about where those might be in the future.  For me, there's always something a little magical about the process -- a part of me that will likely never understand how it works and thus is terrified that one day it won't.  But there's fun in the magic -- in that moment when you realize you've written the foundation for a point you hadn't even considered but once you realize it... wow, it works (or rather, that's the hope!).

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Dark and Hollow Places teaser...

Earlier this week on twitter I promised that I'd share the opening of The Dark and Hollow Places.  Then I got this in the mail:

And opened it up to find these:

Which made me realize that OMG THE PAPERBACK OF THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES IS COMING OUT IN A LITTLE OVER A WEEK!!!  Ahem.  Somehow, this event totally snuck up on me.  It's only ELEVEN days before release!!

And then after I spent the proper amount of time petting my new abundance of paperbacks, I flipped open to the back of one to find this:

Yes, that's right -- in the back of The Dead-Tossed Waves paperback you'll find the opening scene of The Dark and Hollow Places.  And then it occurred to me that if I just went ahead and pasted that opening here on my blog, y'all might not want to run out and grab the paperback of The Dead-Tossed Waves when it comes out on February 8th.

And yet, I did make that promise so... here's the fist line to The Dark and Hollow Places:

Tricky, tricky, I know!  I'm thinking of running a contest for The Dark and Hollow Places that will involve QR codes (that blocky little thing above).  So this is me testing it out and playing around.  Basically, all you need to do to read the first line of The Dark and Hollow Places is download a code reader to your smart phone (I use the app i-nigma but I've read you can also direct your mobile browser to and then point it at that QR code above.  Viola!  Instant first line!

For those of you without smartphones, I'll post the actual first line on Monday!  For the rest of you, thanks for indulging my experiment with QR codes (and feel free to drop your thoughts about QR codes in the comment)!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Seen around the net

I've been mostly remiss with my internet wanderings lately but I have picked up some interesting links I thought I'd share:

  1. My pal Sarwat Chadda (who wrote The Devil's Kiss which I loved and whose second book, Dark Goddess, came out yesterday and I have in my hot little hands and can't wait to read) is hosting the Kiss Me, Kill Me blog series where he's reviewing YA paranormal author's books and then interviewing them.  Here's the link.  Mine will be up Monday and I have to say, Sarwat wrote such a review that I blushed upon reading it (he really put so much thought into my book that it was humbling).  I had a great time with the questions and will share the proper link when it's posted!
  2. Agent extraordinaire, Jennifer Laughran, also known around the internet by her handle, Literaticat, posted a blog about when authors should keep their mouths shut (she talks mostly about how she cringes when she sees authors shoot themselves in the foot by discussing how often they've been rejected while they're still out on submission).  Here's the link.  I may add to this discussion later once I've winged my latest project to its destination (not for another week).  But whether you choose to heed her advice or not, it's still worth thinking about and considering or at the very least being aware of.
  3. In a similar vein, Stacia Kane wrote a blog post about how being published changes things in which she specifically talks about the difficulty of being both a published author and a reader/reviewer.  Here's the link.  Again, this is something I might delve into more in my own post but for now I wanted to point it out because I think it raises a lot of interesting points that are also worth considering and being aware of.
  4. Who doesn't love and need a zombie flowchart in their life?
  5. Saundra Mitchell, whose writing I could eat like candy, recently posted about the effect of book piracy on an author's career.  Here's the link.  It's definitely sobering and I applaud Saundra for sharing in such detail because that's hard to do!  
  6. Don't forget about the L.K. Madigan Feast of Awesome Giveaway happening over at the Debs until the end of the month!  Here's the link!
  7. I've noticed people getting ARCs of The Dark and Hollow Places in the mail.  I continue to try to remember to take deep breaths and remember that it is all out of my hands at this point.  Also, I've noticed that the Goodreads listing for DHP, for some reason, shows the UK version as the default.  Here's the link.  This happened with The Forest of Hands and Teeth as well.  I've heard that Goodreads defaults to the edition with the most "adds"which, up until this past weekend, was the US edition (I've been paying attention this time because of what happened with FHT).  I've emailed to try to get it straightened out, and am still waiting for a response.  But if anyone out there knows how to fix it, I'd love it!  I tried probably mucked it up more. 
  8. Magical Words, where I blog every second Thursday of the month, just celebrated their third anniversary.  Here's the link.  That blog has a crazy amount of useful information on the craft and writing industry and I highly HIGHLY recommend it.
  9. I'm slowly, but surely, switching my facebook page from my personal page to a new one.  Here's the link.  Ideally, the new page will be the place where I share all the book and author related information and at some point I may start deleting people from the old account.  Just to give warning -- it has nothing to do with y'all, it has everything to do with me and the fact that I'm trying to pare down a bit and streamline things before the third book comes out and I head out on tour for a month!  If you have suggestions for my new page, I'd love to hear them!
And that's about it for now!  I had other links to share but somehow have lost them in the attempt to clear my browser tabs which have, quite frankly, grown so out of control that it's scary.  Please feel free to share your own fun links in the comments!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Spreading the Love

Recently, a friend, Lisa (L.K. Madigan), shared difficult news on her blog: that she's been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.  I still can't type those words or think about it with tearing up.  Maybe that's one reason I haven't blogged about this yet.  Another reason is because her news fell so shortly after I sat by my step-father's side while he passed away that I just chose to ignore it all.  Too much sadness.

Her post is so amazingly eloquent that I honestly can't find much to add.  I met Lisa through the debs and as a group we've shared so much together.  But we were never supposed to share things like this.  When we started I assumed it would all be about books but we've shared so much else in the past three years -- parents dying, sick kids, births of new happy healthy kids, bad news and good news.  So much that falls into the broad category of life.

Honestly, there are times my fellow debs feel like a family more than just friends or colleagues.  And so it is too painful to think about one of them going through something like this.  I've always been amazed by Lisa and I'm even more amazed by her strength in facing this news.

As Cindy Pon wrote on a recent debs post:
so how can we best express our love and support for
lisa during this time? through the celebration of her books.
only a fellow writer can know the angst and turmoil associated
with creating stories--because we put so much of ourselves in them.
won't you help us in spreading L. K. Madigan Book Love? 
So that's what this post is about.  Spreading the love about Lisa's books -- a book that won the Morris Award (for best debut novel) and another that has touched so many people.  The debs are giving away 40 sets of Lisa's books and you can find out how to enter here.

Thanks for taking this time to help us show how much we love Lisa and how much her friendship's meant to us.  And thanks Lisa for being so awesome!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why didn't she fight harder for him, aka: He's just not that into you

This afternoon I read through a few of my old high school journals as research for an essay I'm writing and I found a theme: I spent a lot of time thinking about boys.  I spent even more time wondering if the boys I liked liked me back.  I analyzed whether they waved to me in the halls, if they called, if they made eye contact and I tallied up conversations.

Everything fed into this great matrix in my mind trying to determine: does he like me back?  A part of me worried that perhaps the reason my crushes weren't giving me signals of reciprocation is that they, like me, were scared of showing their hand and all it would take is me showing them I liked them.  I'd wonder whether I should go to their soccer games, cruise around their neighborhood on my bike (yeah, I was cool like that), or try to sit next to them in class.  

Ultimately I realized, long after high school unfortunately, that if you like a guy and a guy likes you (or you like a girl, etc) then it shouldn't be that hard.  You'll end up working to make sure they know you like them just as hard as they work to show you that they like you.  You'll "coincidentally" end up in the same places at the same time, you'll find excuses to talk to each other and spend time with each other: both of you will be working toward the same end.

JP, my husband, hates it when I tell this story because he remembers it differently but... back in law school, when I first had a crush on JP, I asked him if he wanted to come watch a TV show at my place (we'd already been emailing about the show, he knew I'd gotten a new TV and wanted to see it -- it seemed like a good way to move things forward).  

His response: I have to study tonight, but I'll pencil you in for next week.

What I heard: you're not exciting enough to skip/postpone studying for and I'm leaving my options open for next week.

I'm sure in high school I'd have taken his response as something different and I'd have kept working on him -- convincing myself he just didn't know I liked him.  But (trying to be older and wiser - ha!) I instead thought "you know, if he was into you, he'd figure out a way to get his schedule in order to be at your place during that TV show... move on." 

(To be fair, JP was a big geek first year of law school with grades in the top 5% of our class at Duke Law so... perhaps I'll concede he was studying but still... I should have been more exciting than contract law.  Also clearly, things worked out with us (because we were both interested in each other we both ended up on the same team at trivia night at a local pub, we both stayed late, etc etc)). 

My point is this: I spent a lot of time in high school making myself miserable trying to figure out if the people I liked liked me back.  And if two people like each other, it shouldn't be that hard.

Why am I blogging about this? (here's where the SPOILER comes in so if you haven't read The Dead-Tossed Waves then be warned I'm spoiling it):  I got an email a while back asking me why Gabry turned away from Catcher at the end of DTW -- the reader pointed out that Gabry promised Catcher she'd fight for him and when it came down to it, she stopped fighting.

The reader is right: Gabry did promise to fight for Catcher.  Initially, I wrote the end of DTW differently; I made the resolution much fuzzier.  But then when I read back over it I realized that Catcher spends a lot of time explicitly saying: "I can't/don't/won't love you Gabry" and Elias spends a lot of time saying: "Gabry, you're an amazing and wonderful woman who I love."  I've mentioned before my theory on love triangles and I feel like Catcher represented who Gabry used to be and Elias represented who she became.  

But what really mattered to me is that I wasn't going to watch Gabry put her life on hold and wait for Catcher to figure himself out, if he ever could.  Catcher essentially was telling Gabry, "I have to study tonight, maybe I'll pencil you in for next week."  And maybe he'd have gotten his head out of the clouds in time to take her out the next week or maybe he wouldn't have.  But I've gotten tired of characters sitting around and taking abuse from people they "love" while waiting for those people to figure out what they want in life.

Gabry had to take the bull by the horns -- she had to grab life and that meant choosing Elias who was also ready to live.  My personal feeling is that if Catcher finds the right person to love, he'll get over himself because that person will become more important to him than his internal issues.  And yeah, maybe there's a chance that will never happen -- all I know is that it wasn't happening with Gabry and I wasn't going to force her to stick around and hope that someday it might.  That doesn't mean they can't be great friends, it just means they weren't destined to share a great love.  [END SPOILERS.]

Listen, I understand -- I write and read romance where a big part of the plot is about getting two people to fall in love with each other and work it out.  Often times that means one person being in love and fighting for the other to reciprocate.  I just feel like sometimes... there just comes a point where it's clear the two people aren't going to end up together and the one person continuing to fight for the other starts to look desperate and sad.  It's almost cruel.  I worry sometimes that there's a teen out there (like I was) who, when faced with the "hero" shunning her, thinks it means that he's tortured deep down inside and only the heroine can save him if she tries hard enough when in reality... he's just not that into her.

There comes a point that when someone tells you "I don't prioritize you," you need to listen.  You need to realize you deserve better.  I don't think you should have to fight that hard for love because love isn't cruel.

Here's my theory: if a person likes you, they'll treat you like they like you.  They'll compliment you, they'll smile at you, they'll respect you.  If a person loves you, every time they look at you they'll think "I can't believe this amazing and wonderful person has chosen ME" and you know what?  You'll be thinking the exact same thing if you love them back.   

Friday, January 14, 2011

Speaking of catching up...

San Diego at sunset
1.  So I just got back from a week long writing retreat in San Diego.  It was kind of a whiplash transition to go from sitting outside in the sun looking at the water to holed up in my house while the snow and ice refuses to melt outside!  I miss the warm afternoons!  I had a fantastic time at the retreat -- really lovely conversations with smart, thoughtful and talented people.  And of course I got lots of work done which makes me happy.  I hit that stage in the book where I need to step back, re-organize, and then revise so toward the end I was doing less writing and more pondering/planning.  I'm already looking forward to the next retreat (Branson, MO in Feb).

2.  Speaking of coming home, what with all the craziness around the holidays JP and I had to put off exchanging gifts and when I got back to the house I walked in to find his present to me: bookcases!  I can't tell you how much this thrills me! So this weekend I'll be re-organizing the books piled around the house.  YAY!  I realized just how dire things had gotten with my lack of book organizing a few weeks ago when I was standing at my local indie trying to remember if I'd bought a particular book and if I had, where it might be (i.e. which stack littered around the house).  I'm still not sure this one big bookcase will be enough to set things right but it's a start!

3.  Speaking of books... I just shipped home a big box of ARCs I picked up at ALA.  So... perhaps I'll need another bookcase after all!

4.  Speaking of ALA, I went and it was awesome!  BOOKS EVERYWHERE!  I also was lucky enough to run into some awesome authors, readers, librarians, booksellers.  Honestly, it was almost overwhelming at times.  And yes, many many ARCs.

5.  Speaking of ARCs, Random House had The Dark and Hollow Places at their booth and were handing it out.  This is slightly terrifying to me because that means people are going to be reading it soon. 

6.  Speaking of The Dark and Hollow Places, for the first time today I realized that the release date -- 3.22.11 -- is pretty cool when you write it out like that.

7.  Speaking of cool... did I mention there's still snow and ice outside?  Like to the point where I could skate across our front yard?  Of course the neighbor's house is totally melted because it's in the sun. 

8.  Speaking of the lack of flowers in our yard, I just saw the Italian cover of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  It's totally unexpected but at the same time I think it's utterly GORGEOUS!  I think the title translates into The Forest of Death and Lost Love (any Italian speakers out there want to correct me?).  

9.  Speaking of unexpected, my birthday is this weekend.  Usually I'm much more on top of this sort of thing but this year it's snuck up on me!  I haven't even decided what to get myself!

10.  Speaking of not being on top of things, I just found a folder of email in my email program from a year ago.  I'm slowly making my way through it.  I can't tell you how embarrassed this makes me!  

11.  Speaking of getting embarrassed, can I tell you how much I'm loving Dance Central on Xbox Kinect and how glad I am that our account is in no way connected to twitter or facebook to share the pics the program takes while you're dancing?

12.  Speaking of dancing, I think I'll go do that now :)

    Tuesday, January 04, 2011

    Looking ahead in 2011

    A few days ago I posted a wrap-up of my 2010 and promised a look ahead to 2011.  I've meant to write a New Year's goals post for several years ago and just... never get around to it.  But this year I have promised myself and I will prevail!!

    Over the weekend I took the time to sit down and write out, month-by-month, my goals and deadlines and it's looking fun (and a bit overwhelming)!  Lots of things I'm super excited about and several challenges that have me just on the edge of scared (which I feel is a great place to be).


    I have two books coming out this year.  The first is the paperback of The Dead-Tossed Waves on February 8, 2011 and the second is The Dark and Hollow Places out on March 22, 2011.  I'm super excited about this book (and the very first review I found said that fans of the first two books would like this one so wohoo!)

    I've gotten a few questions about this book and I thought I'd do a brief FAQ:

    What is The Dark and Hollow Places about?

    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? 
    Is The Dark and Hollow Places the last book in a trilogy?

    While the front cover calls it "a Forest of Hands and Teeth book," this is the last book I have contracted in the Forest of Hands and Teeth world though I will have another short story set in that world (unrelated to the books, though) tentatively coming out in the fall.

    How does The Dark and Hollow Places relate to the first two books?

    The first book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, is set generations after the Return (zombie apocalypse) and is told from the point of view of Mary.  The second book, The Dead-Tossed Waves, is set a generation after the end of the first and is told from the point of view of Gabry, Mary's daughter.  The Dark and Hollow Places takes place just a few months after the end of the second and is told from the point of view of Annah.  Personally, I tend to think of the third book as more of a sequel to the second (i.e. books 2 and 3 are much more closely related than books 1 and 2 are).

    Are there ARCs for The Dark and Hollow Places and how can I get one to review?

    There are ARCs!  They're gorgeous (perhaps I'm biased...).  However, I only got a few copies and I gave two of them to my sisters for Christmas (it's dedicated to them and it was super special to have the chance to give it to them in person!) which leaves me with one (which I'll hang on to for my collection).  So as of right now I don't have any to send.  If you're interested in reviewing one, please contact my wonderful publicists Meg and Jessica (info here under representation tab).

    When is The Dark and Hollow Places coming out?

    March 22, 2011.  I can't wait!!

    Any other quick questions?  Post them in comments and I'll add them to the list!  Thanks!


    I should have two short stories and two non-fiction essays coming out in 2011.  Because I haven't found any official mention of this online from the publishers/editors I'm keeping it a bit quiet for now but will def post about it here and on my website when I have more news!

    I'm also super excited about a few other short stories I'm writing that will hopefully be coming out in 2012!  I've really loved writing these short stories and I'm excited about branching out into new worlds with them! (It's at this point in the post that I wonder if I've used the word "excited" way too many times...)


    Nothing I can mention yet :)  Lots of deadlines and things I'm really pumped about!


    When I started writing full time I spent a lot of time online (which I loved).  I definitely felt more keyed into the online writing community.  Then, at the end of the year I looked back and wondered if perhaps I should have been writing more and I spent the next year (last year) focusing more on writing.  Which made me feel less a part of what was going on online.  I'm still trying really hard to find that balance but what I know for sure is that I wish I'd kept things more up to date in the past year.

    So this year I'm striving for a better balance.  To that end I'm planning on a few changes.  First, I plan to blog more.  Second, I'm switching to a different Facebook page which is here (my goal is to shift everyone away from my personal page to that one).  Third, I'm keeping up with Twitter.  I just like Twitter a lot :)  Those are generally the three places I can be found.  Unfortunately, while I think Goodreads is an awesome site, I tend to not visit just because I try to avoid reviews of my books.  And if you need to reach me for any kind of request (skype visits, etc) the best way to contact me is always through email -- I just tend to forget about the mailboxes on other sites (like Facebook and Goodreads).


    This Thursday I'm headed off to a writing retreat in San Diego and then am off to another writing retreat in Missouri in early February.  I hope to get tons accomplished though it's always hard not to want to spend all day talking to everyone else and soaking in all their collective wisdom.  Then I'm touring in March/April (YAY!) and heading to TLA in April as well.  I can't wait!  I hear such amazing things about TLA!!!


    A few days before Christmas my step-father passed away.  This stunk for many many reasons, but one thing I realized is that the choices we make about our health during our life can have significant and lasting consequences.  So this year I really want to concentrate on creating a foundation of health that can last me for a long time.  My goal is to exercise more, give my body what it needs and be more mindful about what I eat.

    So what are some of y'all's goals or things you're excited about in 2011?

    Saturday, January 01, 2011

    Year in Review!

    So every year I always plan to write a comprehensive post about the past year and then I always forget or get wrapped up in the holidays.  But this time I’ve promised myself: I WILL WRITE THAT POST.  Mostly because it’s kinda cool to look back down the road and see what’s changed from year to year.  So here we go:


    The paperback of The Forest of Hands and Teeth came out in February and hit the NYT list for several weeks.  You can read about that here.  Almost a year later I’m still pretty stunned about the whole thing.  Seriously -- this was a majorly huge dream come true!

    My first sequel, The Dead-Tossed Waves, came out in March and I got to go on tour.  This was massively exciting!  To have the opportunity to speak to so many readers and book lovers was utterly amazing.  I’m super excited that it looks like I’ll have the opportunity to tour again this year for The Dark and Hollow Places (out March 22, 2010) -- WAHOO! 

    I’m not going to lie -- I was super nervous about The Dead-Tossed Waves when it came out.  That book changed so much from my initial idea to the final product and there were times when I detested that book (and times I loved it).  I was pretty terrified to read the first reviews and I can’t really explain how relieved and excited I was to read that people liked it better than the first (and yes, I’m experiencing the same thing with The Dark and Hollow Places).


    My first three short stories came out in 2010:

    "Bougainvillea" in the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier.  This was the first short story I’d written since college and I found it a challenge.  I’m so used to thinking of ideas big enough to fill a novel that it was hard to figure out an idea that would only fill 1/10th the words (hence why this is my longest short story).  I’ve been very very gratified by the lovely reviews and have definitely fallen in love with writing short stories!

    "Hare Moon" in Kiss Me Deadly edited by Trisha Telep.  This was my chance to go back directly to Mary’s world in The Forest of Hands and Teeth and explore another character.  I chose Sister Tabitha because I found her kind of fascinating with a few scenes I wrote during revisions and wanted to understand better why she is the way she is.  I really love this story (and hope to have it available for free in the next few months).

    "Flotsam and Jetsam" in The Living Dead 2 edited by John Joseph Adams (read it for free here).  This was my first story from a male point of view and is my shortest story.  I really kind of love it.


    Several years ago when I started writing seriously, I felt a little discouraged because I’d dedicated a year toward my goal but didn’t feel like I was any closer.  So I calculated the number of words I wrote so that I’d at least see that I was working and accomplishing things even if it didn’t feel that way.

    Unfortunately, I’ve skipped counting some years but here’s what I have so far:
    2006: 171,701 
    2009: 348,100
    2010:  320,000

    Here's the breakdown (though I recognize it's cryptic -- I'm recording it for my own future reference): 
    DHP: 157k
    TGO: 25k
    F&J: 5k
    HM: 10k
    SR: 7k
    BK4: 76k
    TDE: 35k
    HGE: 4k
    ATC: 1k

    This is down a bit from last year but is still in a similar range.  Also, it was hard for me to figure out how much of The Dark and Hollow Places was written in 2009 and how much I’d revised in 2010.  What I do know is that I’m learning my processes is to write more of a Zero Draft and then revise, revise, revise.  Seriously, my cut file for DHP is HUGE and when I think about the original opening…. Yikes.  So yeah, lots of cut words in my process but it tends to work out in the end (I hope readers think so too!).


    New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Orlando, Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, San Diego

    Awesome readers and booklovers met: waaay too many to count.  But this is seriously one of the best parts of the job!


    Heh, I’m seriously looking forward to being able to talk about this soon J  Let’s just say I have some projects I’m SUPER excited about and have already started working on!


    I’ve meant to blog about this before (and have even written the blog but not posted it) but waaay back when I started writing I wrote down my dream list of goals.  These were the things wholly outside of my control but that would still be a major achievement that, at the time, I felt was impossible.  What’s astounded me over the years as I revisit that list is how many of them I’ve hit.  It’s always a totally surreal moment and, yes, I’ve had to pinch myself several times. 
    This year the goals I got to cross off that list:

    Hitting the New York Times bestseller list.  This was huge.  I’m still stunned.  Getting that phone call in the car from my editor is a moment I’ll never ever forget! 

    Having my name on the cover of an anthology.  I can’t really explain why this was on my dream list of goals, but I’ve just read so many anthologies that I felt like having my name on the front would mean that I’d achieved a mileston.  To have my name among some of the best zombie authors writing right now is a massive honor!

    I had a couple of sales thresholds on my goal list and I hit those as well -- another huge milestone that’s changed the trajectory of the next couple of years in very exciting ways.

    Another of those goals is in the process and I’m not sure how much I can say about it so… I’ll just leave it at that.


    Highlight: I got married!  YAY!  Finally, after six years of being together and two years of being engaged, JP and I eloped to the park behind our house and tied the knot on April 1.  It was perfect and wonderful and I’m thrilled to finally call him my husband!

    Lowlight: My step father passed away a few days before Christmas.  This stunk and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it in the coming weeks.  The silver lining was that my entire family was able to be together for Christmas which is exactly the type of gift my step-father would have given us.

    Otherlights: I finally joined the YMCA late in the year and have been going fairly regularly.  Just like with writing, I’m a creature of habit and travelling definitely throws me off but I love our Y (esp the sauna in the winter) and I’ve very much noticed that what would usually be a very stressful time is more conquerable when I’m exercising regularly.


    For some reason, I felt more settled in 2010 than I had the year before.  I think part of that was learning more about my routine: how I write, where I write, how important momentum is.  I also focused more on the actual writing than the periphery things (which explains why my facebook page isn’t as updated as it should or my blog suffered).  However, to compensate, I was way more active on Twitter, which I love -- it’s just so easy to chat and keep up with people on Twitter!

    In 2009 I spent several months planning my launch party, designing giveaways, setting up my office and working on social networks and at the end of the year I wondered if I’d have been better served to have spent that time writing (or more of that time writing -- finding a better balance).  So in 2010 I erred on the side of writing and while I may not have as many words written as I did the year before, the number of projects I have and opportunities has grown significantly.  Much of this is because I’ve been super fortunate to be involved in several anthologies and I’ve LOVED LOVED writing short stories in between other projects.  I’ve also been very honored to be considered for these anthologies and by the reader response to them.  So far all of my stories have been set in the Forest of Hands and Teeth world but in 2011 I’ll be branching out into two new worlds I’m excited about!

    At the end of the day (or rather year, I guess) I look back and I’m rather stunned.  It’s still hard for me to believe that this is my life -- that I get to be so fortunate.  It’s not always easy, but the rewards are immense and I’m so truly lucky to have the support of my family and friends.  I’m also so awed by my readers -- thanks to all of you and may your 2011 exceed your expectations!  You certainly helped 2010 exceed mine!

    Coming soon... a preview of my 2011 goals!