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!


Allie said...

It sounds like you had a great and wonderful year, and personally, I can't wait to see your future writing projects!

I hope you make it back to Detroit on your tour! I had a great time listening to you talk about your work, and chatting with you!

Good luck in 2011~

Amanda said...

I am looking forward to reading everything you've written this year! Your FH&T worls is fantastic, so I have no doubt that your new worlds will be equally amazing. And, like Allie, I also hope you are able to come back to Detroit. Yours was one of my favorite signing events. :)

Best of luck in all your future endeavors!

Carol Holaday said...

Thanks for sharing your year. I'm sorry to hear about your stepdad. I remember you tweeting about it.

And thanks for spending so much time chatting with me in Encinitas last September. It meant a lot.

Carol H

Tyhitia Green said...

You had an awesome year, Carrie. And it was so awesome meeting you at the convention in Charlotte this summer. :-D

I have some serious goals set for myself as well--especially in the writing area. :-D