Carrie Ryan's Blog, page 8

December 3, 2010

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!
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Published on December 03, 2010 08:57 • 211 views

November 30, 2010

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!
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Published on November 30, 2010 07:43 • 75 views

November 16, 2010

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.
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Published on November 16, 2010 06:54 • 96 views

November 4, 2010

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!!
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Published on November 04, 2010 14:11 • 241 views

October 20, 2010

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 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!
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Published on October 20, 2010 08:27 • 106 views

October 8, 2010

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!
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Published on October 08, 2010 11:53 • 98 views

October 6, 2010

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.
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Published on October 06, 2010 07:32 • 93 views

September 13, 2010

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 w...
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Published on September 13, 2010 06:51 • 85 views

September 10, 2010

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).

[image error]Flotsam & Jetsam is about a group of t...
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Published on September 10, 2010 11:02 • 148 views

September 3, 2010

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...
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Published on September 03, 2010 13:39 • 100 views