Monday, December 31, 2007

Books Read in 2007

Books read in 2007:

The Last Night of the Year

For some reason, I've been much more aware of the end of the year this year. I know that sounds crazy, but I feel as if everyone I know is taking stock and making plans for the coming year. And of course I am too. I'm just too lazy to post about them yet. As usual (you'll note my 2007 goals post was a bit late this year. Ahem).

2006 was the first year that I began to take writing seriously (again). And it was a pretty big year for me even though I didn't have a ton to show for it. As I said in my 2006 round-up post, 2006 was the year that I made writing friends, re-learned about the market, got my feet wet all over again. I ended the year having written 171,701 words on at least 7 projects. It was the year I queried Dead Bodies and Debutantes (and go rejected).

It was the year I started writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

It was a building year. In 2007 I may have written less (prob about 90k words give or take). But boy have I accomplished a heck of a lot more. I signed with an agent. I sold a two book deal for more than I dreamed possible for a debut. But even more than that, I learned how to follow through, how to polish -- I mean REALLY edit -- my own work. I learned how to take criticism and work with CPs.

I gotta say, 2007 was a helluva year for me :)

It's also the year I did a ton of substantial legal work for a pretty complicated trial. It's the year I changed jobs, moving into a practice area that I'd always dreamed of working in (and for more money to boot!). The year we learned our dog had brain damage and learned how to deal with that (update on that coming soon -- we found a new home for her!). JP made his first pro-sale and sold some other (amazing) stories as well. We took a trip to Belize, JP won a slew of his own cases (including one today). I became a Manuscript Maven and learned how to use livejournal.

I'm really looking forward to 2008. I still can't believe it's here already, but it should be full of interesting twists and turns. I really have to thank all of y'all for making my 2007 so special -- it's meant the world to me to have y'all to talk to every day (er... every week maybe?).

Soon I'll start looking towards 2008 (it is the year I turn 30 after all... ahem...). But for tonight, I think I'll continue to revel in what 2007 brought. JP is cooking up a storm in the kitchen for New Years Eve... I think I'll go join him :)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Weekend Goals -- the update

So... my one weekend goal was to finish substantive edits on FHT. Right now, I'm on page 201/282 -- not too bad. Sure I'd love to be done, but thankfully I also have a day off on New Years to finish things off. What's surprised me the most with these edits? My ability to spend 10-20 minutes stressing over the most minute word choice. Seriously, in previous rounds I could cut whole swaths of work, re-write entire sections. Now? I've become iffy over the difference between "choice" and "free-will." Seriously, these are the things impeding my process.

But at least I'm in the home stretch right now. What's funny is that I still think of this manuscript as being less than 250 pages. I forget that I've added over 16k words in revisions -- crazy, eh?

Thus, I still have goals to meet over the next few days:
  1. finish substantive edits
  2. read FHT as if I were a reader and not a writer/editor
  3. get JP to read FHT (again)
  4. critique CP's chapters pronto!

I'd wanted to clean my house so I could start the new year off right... but... well... that's the problem with having 2 full time jobs (or, as one of my day-job co-workers pointed out, I really have 2.5 full time jobs since our day job is about 1.5 jobs).

JP has an AMAZING menu planned for New Year's Eve and wines to go with each dish. It's going to be a blast. What are everyone else's plans to ring in the new year?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Weekend Goals!

For those of you who may be recent readers of my blog (waves to LJ peeps), a while back I started posting my weekend goals in order to clarify for myself what I wanted to accomplish and also to hold myself accountable (that's where y'all come in!). I've not only found it to be really helpful, but it's also pretty cool to go back through my archives and see all the goals I've set (and met!).

So, without further ado, my goals for this weekend:
  1. Finish substantive edits on FHT.

Yep, that's it.

Speaking of goals, though, pretty soon I'm going to be doing a 2007 goals recap and writing down my goals for 2008. This is really the first year that I ever wrote down my goals, so I'm pretty excited to be able to look back and reflect on them.

I once heard and author -- I think it was Debbie Macomber -- say that you should go ahead and write down those crazy goals, those goals you think are almost impossible. Things like "NYT Bestseller" and "selling X copies of my book" or "selling a book for a Y figure advance." She said that she'd done that once and now, looking back on it, she's reached so many of those goals. Which I think is pretty cool!

As for me, I make a few sets of goals. The first follows Erica's rules of goal-setting, for me the most important that they should be within your control (things like "I'll aggressively query my finished novel" rather than "I'll get an agent"). Then I write things that I'd like to achieve, that I think are possible, but are outside my control (that's where I put "I'll get an agent"). Finally, this past year I laughed and had fun and wrote my "wildest dreams" list, things like "I'll sell a book for X figures."

Soon, I'll share what all those goals were and whether I achieved any (hint: the answer is yes!). But for now, I have edits calling!! However, if it's goals talk you're looking for, JP has already posted his recap of his 2007 resolutions -- I highly recommend reading it, very funny!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Revisions and edits and revisions

There's a great article in the RWR (Romance Writers Report) this month on revisions. Essentially the author reviewed a bunch of writers about their most memorable/painful revisions and essentially all the writers talked about how revisions are a part of the process. And it's true, they are.

Recently, I've had a few people ask me about revisions. Usually it's them saying "you're still editing? I thought you turned those in last week?!" And usually my answer is "yes and yes."

I've heard some true horror stories about revisions -- people asked to add characters, arcs, 20k words or to cut characters, arcs, or 20k words. Michelle Rowen once changed a book from third person to first person (or was it vice versa?) and she re-typed the whole book in order to do it. I think Jackson Pearce changed a book from third to first (or vice versa?) and from past tense to present too (or vice versa?). I know someone else who's written the same beginning from three (or was it four) different POVs multiple times -- very hard core!

Clearly, I was anxiously awaiting my own editor letter, wondering what her prognosis for my book would be. And I have to say, so far so good. Right now we're on the third round which may seem excessive, but seems about right for me. We started two days after my book sold when Krista sent me an email with a few major points she wanted addressed, things like making one character more sinister or clarifying a relationship. All in all, things that I thought were addressed in the book, but clearly were better established in my head rather than on the page.

And that's something the RWR article makes an excellent point about -- wait a day or two before defending yourself to your editor. Because inevitably, the first words out of your mouth will be "But...." and that's not necessarily the way you want to approach your edits. I'll always remember a blog post Justine Larbalestier wrote about how writers are very often way too subtle in the first few drafts... that's a lot of what your editor will be pointing out to you: things you think are very clear but just aren't on the page.

Anyway, so I went through that first round of revisions and handed them in. Seriously, I felt like I was back in law school where you take one exam to cover the entire semester's worth of work. I had no idea if I was going to pass or fail -- if my edits addressed her issues, were too heavy-handed or too light.

A few weeks later, Krista sent the second round of edits (I passed!) -- this time an editorial letter and the manuscript marked up to delete repeated words (I hate repeated words), streamline parts, and questions written in the margin. This is the round I took with me to Belize and the round it felt like my eyes were bleeding with at the end. I became so tired of my manuscript I didn't care what happened to it!

Thankfully, I had a few days off to regroup while Krista read through the edits (I passed again!). I already knew there'd be another round, hoped there'd be another round. Because I knew that by the end of that second round I wasn't giving the best I could. I knew I needed another read with a clear mind. And to me that's the scariest part of finishing the big edits: the end of your chances to make substantive edits. That's it. The book is done. Finished. Any lingering issues need to have been addressed or they shall linger forever (or until you write a sequel :)

But I'm not there yet. Right now I'm on the third round, clearing up those lingering issues, trying to spot anything that needs tightening, explaining, etc. Once I'm done with this, the book shall wend its way to copy-editing where the poor editor will inevitably have a heart-attack at my grammar (yay! commas as decoration!).

So, that's why all the edits and lack of blog posts and sporadic emails. That and the fact that the end of the year is THE busiest time at my day job. I definitely have my hands full right now!! Anyone who thinks that revisions are done once you sell the book -- ha!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!!

I hope no one is reading this blog and is instead enjoying time off with friends and family :) I'm in Atlanta with my mom, step-father, and sister Chris's family. We've been having a wonderful time with last-minute shopping, hanging out watching movies, tracking Santa through NORAD, and enjoying the holiday spirit.

To me, Christmas has always been about family and tradition and I've been having a wonderful time starting new traditions and passing on old ones to a new generation. Tonight two of my nephews sang carols while the new baby girl smiled and tried to chase the patterns on the carpet.

Times like this make me miss my other sister and her boys up in the tundra, but I know they're also having a wonderful time with even more family and traditions.

I'll be back blogging soon enough with goals and reflections on the past year. Until then, enjoy the Holidays!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finish the #%$ Book!!

This week, I posted at the Manuscript Mavens about what I've learned from the books I've written and set aside. One of the lessons I learned is to finish the #%$& book.

Recently, there's been chatter on one of my loops about finishing books. Because of edits, I freely admit that I haven't had time to read all of the postings, so I could be totally misjudging the discussion. But the gist of what I read has essentially been: why finish the book when you don't have to?

Generally, the reasoning behind this thought is that it takes forever for agents and editors to respond to queries and partials, so why not send the partial when it's ready and then finish the manuscript while waiting for the response or not at all. As the argument goes, this can cut down on the amount of time wasted working on an idea that just might get form rejected at the partial stage.

Trust me, I understand how this is a compelling argument. Remember, I was there. I accidentally pitched my project when it was just a partial and I was stuck wondering whether to finish the book or just send the partial.

I'm here to tell you: finish the book! There are tons of reasons why: because you won't know if you can finish a novel until you write the words The End; because you don't know what may come up in your personal life keeping you from writing (for me it was a new dog with a broken leg); because you don't know if your plot outline will work or if you'll be able to tie everything together until you do; because you don't know how long it will take to edit, or how long it will take your CP to read and get back to you.

These are all good reasons to finish the book before querying, but for me, the ultimate reason is that you want to be able to send the book -- in the best possible shape you can make it -- the day you get a request for it.

Take my experience with The Forest of Hands and Teeth: I started querying that book in mid-August and had a two book deal in mid-October. The day any agent requested the full, I sent it, hoping to capitalize on their momentum. My first request for a full came within 1-2 weeks of querying, I had requests for pages even before that.

What I'm saying is that requests can come quickly and you want to be able to capitalize on them. You don't want to put the agent on hold and let them forget you while you scramble to finish your book and skimp on the editing and polishing. Furthermore, you want to take the time to really polish your book not only because it makes a better impression, but also because it can speed the process. Because I spent so much time editing before querying, my agent was able to submit the book rather quickly and my editor has bumped it up in the publication schedule.

I know how hard it is to spend a big chunk of time working on a book when you're not sure if it will sell or grab the attention of an agent. I've been through that tons of times with various abandoned projects. But as I said in my Manuscript Maven post, with each book that you write and finish, you're learning skills that will make the next book that much better.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tusday Maven

Hey everyone -- today is my day to blog over at the Manuscript Mavens. I posted about the lessons I've learned from previous writing (you know, like all those novels under the bed... or on a really really really old computer). Come on over and tell me what lessons you've learned from past writing experiences!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Edits, Christmas Trees, and Slush Piles

So I turned in my edits -- hurrah! Of course, there will be another round starting next week which I actually think is great. I feel like the manuscript is *this* close to being the best I can make it and I really do believe that another round will get it there.

Because of my new-found freedom this weekend (amazing how having edits do just hangs over your head at all hours of the day) I spent yesterday cleaning, moving around furniture to make room for the Christmas tree, and pulling decorations down from the attic. Today, JP and I got our tree and I'm sitting here in front of the fire listening to X-mas music, waiting for the tree to dry out (it rained last night) before putting on the lights and decorating.

Growing up, decorating the tree was always a big deal. We'd have a nice dinner, listen to Christmas music, and enjoy the time together as a family. My dad used to give my sisters and I an ornament every year with our names and the date on them with the intention that when we grew up and had our own trees we'd already have a nice collection of ornaments. Which of course means that all the ornaments for our tree have my name on them. We call it the Carrie Tree :)

So later today I'll throw a roast in the oven and we'll open a nice bottle of wine and we'll laugh at all the Carrie ornaments while the cats lounge in front of the fire. To me, that's what Christmas is all about.

In other news, The authors of Fangs, Fur & Fey have been posting their stories of how they rose from the slush pile. Now that my edits are done and I get to play on teh interwebs again, I've added my own story here. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of my story. I feel like more and more people these days want to know the short-cuts, how to get there faster.

I've always believed that the first step is to write the best book you can, the second step is to query, and the third is to start on the next book. Now I'd add a 1.5 step: polish the manuscript to a shine -- I definitely had a lot of agents and editors commenting on how polished my manuscript was and that can only work in your favor.

So for those who think that you need connections or a special hand-shake, I'm here to tell you that you don't.

Finally, because I promised and because it was an amazing trip, here's a picture of the view from our place in Belize:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday Maven

Hey everyone! Today is my day to post on the Manuscript Mavens. I wrote about subjectivity in agenting and how one agents form rejection may be another agent's sale.

I promise more here soon... but first I must finish edits!!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Yes, I'm back and yes I had a fabulous time and yes I have pictures and stories to share.

But not today. Today is all about The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Today, my only goal is to finish edits. This means starting from page one and reading the whole thing through making sure everything works. And there's one relationship that needs a fair bit of tweaking and a few things that I have to check for consistancy.

Start your engines, we have a lot of ground to cover before the end of the day...

Friday, November 30, 2007

You'd better Belize it!

Tomorrow, JP and I head out for our first big vacation in two years. Yep, this time tomorrow we'll be in Belize! Scuba diving, reading, lounging, sleeping, editing, writing, drinking, eating, relaxing -- for a whole week!!!!! I can't wait! My bags are packed, I'm checked in online, passports are in my purse, and I have a fresh ARC of Mark Henry's Happy Hour of the Damned for entertainment.

Have I mentioned that I can't wait?! And that our resort's name is Xanadu?

Ahhhhhhh.... bliss...

I've already written my Tuesday Maven post on the myths we create that keep us from writing, don't miss it!

Happy writing everyone!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why aren't we writing?

What do we do when we're not writing? I just read a post by Michelle Rowan ( - Tues Nov. 27, 2007 -- I couldn't figure how to permalink) about the excuses we make not to write. She cites laziness and fear. As I said in the comments, when I got to the end of her post I wanted to shout out "Amen Sister!!" She totally nails it: what really stops us from writing? If writing is what we really want, why do we let anything stand in the way?

Back when JP and I decided to really go after our dreams of writing, we made some big changes in our life. The biggest is that we stopped watching a lot of TV (thank goodness for the DVR -- the biggest friend a writer can have!). Growing up, the default in the evening was always TV. Come home from school/work, eat dinner, watch the shows. At first, it was hard to give this up, but now I can honestly say I don't miss it. These days, we come home from work, eat, maybe watch one show, and then it's into the living room to sit in front of the fire and write.

Only, I haven't been writing. I've been doing other stuff. Reading, blogging, blog-hopping, etc. All things that I can honestly say do help me in my writing life, but still, not writing. A while back a few writers had a discussion on one of my loops about what "counts" as work when writing. I argued that it's like billing time as a lawyer: if I'd bill the client for that work, then it counts as "writing" even if it isn't technically writing. So doing research counts. Editing counts. Blogging counts. All of these things are geared towards my career. On the other hand, reading blogs is like reading trade magazines -- helpful but not billable. Same with fiddling with the blogger template for the 100th time.

I've been spending a lot of time recently (since April when I wrote The End) doing stuff that I think counts towards writing, but isn't writing. Most of it has to be done (editing, keeping up with industry trends) but a lot of it I use as an excuse. I'll spend 2 hours on the internet catching up with writers, writing life, etc., and feel like I've accomplished something. But have I really? Don't get me wrong, I lurve the internet community and I'm not about to give it up, but what does it help me to read a discussion between two strangers on AbsoluteWrite about some obscure writing craft tidbit that doesn't affect me?

I think I'm getting off on a tangent here... I think what struck me most about Michelle's post was the fact that so many people out there really want to write and to be writers, but who don't actually write. It's like dieting -- so many people want to lose weight and get in shape but just... don't. The difference is that it's easy to delude yourself into thinking that you're "writing" or working on a "writing career" but it's really hard to delude yourself into thinking that you're eating healthy when you've got a candy bar in your fist.

If we know what we want, what is stopping us? Why aren't we just sitting down and writing every day (probably the same reason that I'm not on the elliptical runner every day :) Why isn't it a given like brushing our teeth, going to work, taking out the trash. Actually, why isn't it something that we're craving to do every day -- why aren't we coming home from work, changing into comfy pants and shouting "Finally! Time to write! I'm so excited!"

What do you think keeps us from writing if that's what we really want?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday Maven

Today I'm over at the Manuscript Mavens discussing POV and author voice (and trying to figure out how to untwine the two). Come join us! Oh, and if it seems like I've been a bit quiet around here, blogger has been mad at me and refuses to let me comment :(

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

I have much to be thankful for over the past year. In thinking about it all this week, I think what I'm most thankful for is friends and family to share everything with. People say that writing is a solitary life, but I've found it to be just the opposite. I've met amazing and supportive people in the past year who have totally enriched my writing experience. These friends are always there to give advice, to listen to my fears and vents and questions, and just to gab about life and writing and everything in between. I'm so thankful for the online writing community and everyone who has accepted me with open arms.

I'm also thankful for my family who I think screamed louder than I did when they found out I'd sold my book. Who continue to ask questions about it and who are such big supporters. Who sat down and read my book even though zombies and YA isn't quite their thing. And who will plot with me :)

I'm thankful for my agent and editor who constantly blow my mind with their support and thoughtfulness. They really are amazing and I'm loving every minute of it.

I'm thankful for my new job, for finding that day job in the practice of law I've always wanted. Everyone I work for is so nice and helpful and friendly. I love feeling like a part of this team!

And of course, I'm thankful for JP. There are so many moments in life that I get to share with him.

I could go on... but I think there are some leftovers that need devouring :) So thanks to all of you for being a part of my community and for reading and commenting and supporting. Y'all make it all so worth-wile!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday Maven

Today I'm posting over at the Manuscript Mavens chatting about plotting boards and how I always fail at them. Come joine me!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Four Years

Today is JP's and I four year anniversary; as of today, JP and I have been dating for four years. We met in law school. In fact, we emailed before law school when people were looking to set up carpools and we lived in the same apartment complex. Then I was at the pool one day and he sat down and we spent a long time talking about writing and cats and being from South Carolina and all sorts of other things.

It was one of those conversations where it was way too easy to feel like you'd known the other person for years and consequently you felt like you could spill all your secrets. Law school being what it was at the time, we never spent a lot of time together after that. He was dating someone, I needed to get to know myself better, etc etc.

Then, during our second year I wrote an article for the law school newspaper. It just so happened that he was the editor of the section I was writing for. We started emailing and one day (I remember this SO SO clearly) I was standing in the library when I got an email from him and it cracked me up. I couldn't stop laughing. I'd sit down, do work, and then end up going back to check the email again just to get a good chuckle.

You know how sometimes someone does something that makes you look at them in a new light? Well, that's what that email was. Suddenly, I saw JP all over again. I started flirting (and boy are there some funny stories about that) and eventually we got together (more funny stories about that).

Growing up, even though I was an avid reader of romance novels and a romance writer myself, I'm not sure I really truly believed in true love. I certainly always believed that in real life, you settled.

JP has proved me wrong. Four years later he's my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my editor and he still cracks me up every day. And he's a damn good writer :) I am a lucky lucky woman. Thanks JP!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm a Maven now! & Agent/Author Communication

Hey y'all! Sorry for the late announcement, but surprise -- I'm a the newest member of the Manuscript Mavens!! You can read my first post (as an official Maven) introducing myself a little, here.

Today over on Fangs, Fur & Fey, Caitlin Kittridge has a great post up about talking to agents at all stages of the relationship. You know, when to follow up on partials, fulls, etc. I think it's a great post (though I think you should give an agent at least a week to get back to you when you let them know you have another offer of representation).

As I posted in the comments, I think the biggest key to a good agent/author relationship is communication. I'm not sure how my agent would feel about me comparing him to my boyfriend, but there is one rule that holds true in both dating and agent/author relationships: no one but you knows what you're thinking/expecting and it isn't fair to expect things from significant others/agents if you haven't told them you're expecting things.

Seriously, apply this rule to all areas of your life. I know, I know, most of us grew up on romance novels where the hero always knew what the heroine needed and just gave it to her without her having to ask. We all saw the Sex in the City episode where the ring Aiden picked out for Carrie was a test of how well he knew her. See, we all have these unspoken expectations. And it isn't fair to get mad at people because they don't know about those expectations. And just sometimes, we use these expectations of tests (if he really loved me he'd know that I liked my eggs sunny side up and not scrambled) and that's really not fair (unless you've really clearly expressed your egg preference and even then, that's not really a measure of love).

I hear stories of so many authors who are terrified of their agents. Who refuse to call, refuse to follow up, refuse to tell an agent how they feel or what they need. Now, I'm not advising that you go to your agent with a list of demands or that you shed tears next time you're on the phone. But if something bothers you, bring it up in a professional manner. Let them know what will help you be better at your job and figure out a mutual way of working together that will get the job done.

At the same time, be willing to listen to what the agent says will help them work. If you want a quick turnaround on a proposal, ask the agent if they can tell you when they'll be able to read it and then work towards that deadline. But hold up your end of the bargain and turn that proposal in on time.

Bottom line (and I know I've said this before) an agent/author relationship is a business relationship and should be approached professionally. But it often turns into so much more and you have to figure out a way to make it work for both of you. And the best way to do that is to communicate and express your expectations and come up with a way of satisfying both of you.

Of course, lots of things are easier said than done, but it's something to think about at least :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Contract! (part the second)

Yes, we all knew I'd be a big dork and wait to take a picture while I signed the contract. Thus, without further ado, here you have it:

It was a surreal and wonderful and amazing moment, seeing my name on a Random House contract.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend Goals

This weekend, I edit.

Of course, I was up early and what have I done for the last hour? Blog hop. Post on writing forums. Seriously, how do I kick this addiction?!?

Oh, and for those of you who like sports, ESPN College Game day will be coming to you live from my college -- Williams!! Today we play our big rivals (we lovingly refer to them as The Defectors).

Go Ephs!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


So, my agent sent me my final contract today. I read it through, still mongo impressed by all of it (he did a fab job negotiating). All day I was thinking about how I was going to print it out and bring it home to sign and then just as I was leaving work I thought "oh, need to remember to print contract to take with me," but then thought, "why would I do that when I'd just need to bring it back to mail? I'll just print it tomorrow and send it straight off."

Forgetting that I wanted a picture of me signing the contract. It just feels like one of those milestones, you know? And I'd feel like a dork asking someone at work to take the picture... So do I put off sending the contract back just to get the photo op? Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Where things stand

Why is it that I have fantastic ideas of blog posts all day and then I get home, sit down at the computer for some hard core procrastination and I come up with nothing? I really want to write about how I came up with the idea of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and all about writing it, but I'm so tired right now I don't want to make it sound all boring and dull.* So, I'll hold off on that story for now...

Instead, you get a nice, boring update :) So... where are things now, you ask? I got an email from suber-uber agent Jim McCarthy today with a draft of the contract with Random House. What an amazing experience to open that up and see my name up there. And I still find it strange that no one is talking about book two. I'm sure we'll get there soon enough (and I already have an idea for what I want to write and another idea in case they don't like that one). So in my contract it's just "Untitled Book 2." And I feel like it's this pink elephant in the room cause... uh... they paid good money for that book and they know nothing about it. I try not to think about this, though, because I don't want to freak myself out.

I turn in edits to my editor, who really is super fun and enthusiastic and so amazingly great to work with, on Monday. According to her, we'll do a few back and forths and then it will hopefully go into copy-editing in mid-December so that it can come out in Spring 2009. If we miss the December deadline (and technically, my contract deadline is after that) then it's summer 2009 for us. But we're both really excited about it coming out in the Spring so I plan to do my part to make it so.

I was floored when my editor got me her editorial suggestions -- get this -- two days after the book sold. Super quick!! I'd heard so many horror stories about the editorial letter: pages and pages of single space issues to deal with. I'd heard of writers adding 20k words, adding new characters and sub-plots. My letter was like a dream! Only 6 points along the "give us more information about X" lines and to add more physical description (which I already knew was a weakness). I'm sure I'll have killer letters in my future, but so far things have been great. Of course, we'll see if I was able to address all the concerns once my editor gets a chance to read the new draft :)

So that's where things stand now. Just in case you were interested in what happens after the call. Now that I know the contract will be signed this year I'm busy planning ways to spend my advance (all on perfectly legal business related deductible items, of course). I found out that they'll want my author photo around February soooo... looks like I'll have to power up the old elliptical runner that we haven't used since we bought the house even though it takes up a good chunk of our den (lets hope it still works!).

JP has declared it NaStoWriMo -- National Story Writing Month -- and has pledged to write 25k words of short stories. He's doing awesome so far (though he's too lazy to use a word count meter) so go over and nag him/cheer him on. Seriously, comment on his blog and demand word count accountability!!

* Plus, I started Jennifer Lynn-Barnes' book Golden and want to get back to it!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Changes 'Round here

As you can see, the blog looks different. That's because I updated it to the new google blogger easy to fix stuff template. See, most of the lists, colors, etc., were things that I'd gone in and coded by hand. I'm not good at coding. So with the update went my colors. At least I was able to save some of my lists!

The main reason I did this is so that it will be much easier to add links, books read, etc. I'll tinker in the code and get it looking all purty again soon, no worries. So for now, please pardon the dust. It was a rash decision made in the throes of procrastination :)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Weekend Goals! (updates in red)

For long time readers, you will remember that I used to use this blog as a quasi accountability system. I'd post my goals at the beginning of the weekend and then whether I'd met them or not, hoping that y'all would chastize me for falling short.

Well, it's time to start that up again! So, without further ado -- the weekend goals:
  1. the most uber important, if I get this goal none of the others matter: finish editing The Forest of Hands and Teeth (I'm so used to typing FHT or WIP that I forget I can actually type the title now - yay!!). I want to send this sucker to my editor on Monday! Still working on it...
  2. clean house; done (ish... well at least some of it is done)
  3. spray porch down; forgot about water restrictions - no spraying for us!
  4. take down AND put away Halloween decorations; JP took care of this -- he rocks!
  5. write blog posts;
  • read (doing some fun reading in anticipation of perhaps fun new project!). this was the easiest goal to meet!
  • I'd really like to participate in NaNo, but we all know the rules: FHT comes first. So I don't get to start NaNo until FHT is edited. Sigh...

    So what did I spend my morning doing? Reading this rant (and all 300+ comments!). What am I doing right now? Waiting for JP to finish editing a story so we can go drink Pumpkin beer. Natch, they were out of Pumpkin beer. Sigh. Off to a wondrous start, eh?

    Oh, and happy wedding day Diana and SB!!!

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007


    I love Halloween -- even more so now that I write about zombies :) There's just something to be said for being able to flex the creative muscles and come up with a costume. I've also really started enjoying being a homeowner in a trick-or-treat neighborhood.

    Right now, JP and I camped out in the living room, the outside of the house decorated with Marcus the Carcus and our talking bats Heckle and Jeckle. The ghost pirate on the front door is turned off for now cause he tends to scare the kids. Inside we have the fire going, a large bowl of our favorite candy, and a couple of bottles of wine. Oh, and pizza is on the way :) Outside I can hear kids laughing.

    When we were in law school, one of the biggest and most scandalous parties of the year was always at Halloween. Sketch-tacular!! I'd tell you my costumes, but I don't know you too well ;) I will say that it was at one of these parties that JP and I really started flirting. I guess it's that "seeing a friend in a new light" kind of things.

    What are some of y'all's favorite Halloween traditions and memories?

    Ooop, there goes the door bell!

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Choices, choices: Halloween Style!

    While I have several posts up my sleeves and ready to amuse this week, today I'm sending you elsewhere. The lovely and talented Manuscript Mavens, with the help of a few friends, have been concocting a choose your own adventure Halloween story.

    Let me tell you, I have never laughed so hard as I have reading this story. It takes turns you would never believe and I encourage everyone to read it!! It's got everything a reader could ever want!

    Today is my contribution to the fray. Those of you who don't know my writing style, I'm bleak and dark and angstly. But not this time. This time I tried to expand beyond my comfort zone. To break all sorts of rules (what's a little POV head-hopping among friends, right?). So be gentle, dear reader :)

    Without further ado, may I present Day 9 of the Manuscript Mavens Halloween Choose Your Own Adventure. Let me know what you think and don't forget to vote on your favorite choice for Julie Leto to bring the story home!

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Successful Query Letters

    All this week authors are posting their successful query letters on fangs_fur_fey. I posted mine here. I have a love/hate relationship with query letters. On the one hand, now that I'm done writing them, I love them. I love to see how people boil their story down. I love to see what kinds of stories people are coming up with. I love to see how someone can take a pretty formulaic medium and use it to make us want to ask for more. On the other hand, I hated having to boil my story down -- I couldn't figure out what was important and what wouldn't. I hated having to try to read an agent's mind as to what they wanted. I hated the terror that I wouldn't be adequately representing my book and that the premise the agent was rejecting was not the premise of my book at all. Also, I was afraid I'd get rejected for something as stupid as saying "thank you" in my letter to an agent that didn't like to be thanked.

    That's one reason that I've always been fascinated by query letters that worked. To see how others have gone about the process. Which is why I think it's so cool that so many authors are willing to share theirs now. So feel free to stop by, comment, and ask questions.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Looking back...

    As I've said numerous times, one of the reasons I wanted to keep a blog was so that I could look back on my own process as it was happening. To a certain extent, I wish I'd posted more about writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Posted more about the process, my feelings, etc, so that I had a better record. But keeping a blog has been worth it not only for the friends I've met and the community I've become a part of, but also because of looking back on posts like this, a snippet of an email I'd sent to JP almost 1.5 years ago, half a year after I'd started writing seriously (again):

    Dunno... I guess before it didn't occur to me that I couldn't do it - write and publish a novel. Now it occurs to me that I might not be able to. That maybe I'm one of those people who constantly dreams about it and thinks about it but never gets there...

    You know, none of us ever knows what's in our future. There are no guarantees. However, I am a very strong believer that if you keep writing, if you push through those doubts, that you'll make it. Because there actually is one guarantee: if you quit writing, you will never have a chance at reaching your goals. There is one thing that all published writers have in common: they kept writing. Even when it was hard. Even when the doubts crowded in. Even when they were sure they'd never make it.

    Happy writing, everyone!

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Libba Bray Rocks!

    Hey all!

    Thanks again for all the congrats -- while this has been the longest week of my life, it's also been the most amazing and I'm so happy I got to share it with y'all!

    One of the things that excited me so much when I heard that the pre-empt was from Delacorte is that Delacorte published Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy. Every time I peruse the YA section, I can't help but stare at A Great and Terrible Beauty -- it has an amazing cover. And when it finally reached the top of my TBR pile, it blew me away. The writing is exquisite, and the story is just fascinating. I love how Libba was able to capture these four girls' lives right on the cusp.

    I don't want to spoil anything and there are so many different themes and plots interwoven, but one aspect of the book is that these four girls all are beginning to face what it truly means to be an adult woman in their time (late 20th Century). I'm sure they've always known abstractly about their place in society; they are, after all, at Spence so they can be polished into proper, marriageable ladies. But for the first time they're really realizing what it means to them personally -- to their dreams.

    Libba captures this moment so brilliantly that it made me ache. Not only for them, for everyone who comes to these realizations in life. And it's a moment that we all share over and over again as we grow up which is why I think this book works so well for readers of any age (and why I can't wait for my mother and sisters to read it).

    I'd just finished reading A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels has just arrived in the mail when I heard about Delacorte's pre-empt and so I was like "Holy cow -- I might be published by the same house as Libba!!"

    And THEN to top it all off, I peruse over to Libba's blog and realize that she's in in my city this weekend! So naturally JP and I drop everything and go listen to her participate on a panel of children's and YA authors (which was very interesting and Libba had the crowd roaring with laughter). As the crowd shuffled into the auditorium where the event was held, JP and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how old the kids were and who would be my target reader (some of the authors were for much younger kids so the crowd ran the whole gamut). I think JP and I stuck out like a sore thumb because we were the only "adults" there without kids.

    Anyways, while we were standing in line after the talk to get our books signed, these two girls in front of us were talking about Libba and trying to figure out what they wanted her to write in their copies of her books. We'd already struck up a conversation when I lent them a pen, and so I asked them what other kinds of books and authors they read, trying to do a bit of market research. These girls so rocked -- their faces lighting up when they talked about Twilight and reading. If every reader of mine (!!) could be like them I'd be a lucky author.

    Libba was amazing in person -- so personal with each fan! I definitely can learn a lot from her (well, in a few years when I have readers that is...).

    So I was getting totally nervous to meet her and then it was my turn. I told her I'd just signed with Delacorte and she was so excited that she jumped up to give me a hug! She'd already heard the premise of The Forest of Hands and Teeth from my awesome friend Diana, and she was just so energetic and excited that I was beaming (and she was quite clear on which side of the zombie/unicorn debate she falls). It was such a wonderful moment for me -- a moment in time when it all felt so real.

    The moral of the story is: Libba Bray just totally rocks as an author and as a person and I was thrilled to be able to meet her in person.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Publisher's Marketplace - it's official!

    I swear I thought I'd have a heart attack when I saw the sale announcement of my book on Publisher's Marketplace. All day I was constantly refreshing and refreshing and then I had to go to a lunch and when I got back, there it was! And on top of that I had an amazingly beautiful bouquet of flowers on my desk from my incredibly supportive sister Chris. I just can't tell all of y'all how much it has meant to hear all of your congratulations and best wishes. I love being able to share this great news and experience with all of y'all! And I can't wait to blog more about the details and the background over the coming days.

    So here it is, the official deal announcement from Publisher's Marketplace. It's all so real!!

    16 October, 2007
    Children's:Young Adult
    Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, about an isolated village generations after the zombie apocalypse where a 16-year-old struggles with the town's religious order until the village walls are breached and the only chance of survival is to escape into the forest beyond, to Krista Marino at Delacorte, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

    Pinch me!!!


    You would think that after dreaming about this moment for years I would know what to say, but I'm speechless! On Friday my agent decided to send a sneak peak of WIP out to a few editors. First thing Monday morning we had a pre-empt offer!! I'm not sure I even breathed all day yesterday as things unfolded. And I couldn't be more thrilled, excited, amazed, to announce that I've sold my WIP, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH in a two book deal to Krista Marino at Delacorte, the YA imprint of Random House. Does my agent rock or what?

    I still can't believe it! I keep refreshing Publishers Marketplace to see the announcement and I think I might pass out once it's posted!

    I'm even more excited that I finally get to share with you more details about THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. This is the book I started last year during NaNo when I emailed the first line to myself and couldn't stop writing. It's a literary post-apocalyptic novel and here's what I wrote about it in my query:

    Generations after the zombie apocalypse known as The Return, Mary's life is as circumscribed by her community's strict religion as it is by the fences that form her village's only defense against the hordes of the undead -- the Unconsecrated -- who dwell in the surrounding forest.

    Her faith is shattered the day her mother becomes infected by the Unconsecrated, and her belief in her community is destroyed when she secretly witnesses the Church leadership imprison, then condemn, a miraculously non-infected outsider who somehow finds a safe path to the village. The only other person who questions their Puritanical lifestyle is her betrothed's crippled brother, Travis, who has been assigned to wed Mary's best friend. Mary is torn between her duty to friends and society and her growing love for Travis.

    When the Unconsecrated breach the fences and overrun the village, Mary, Travis, and their intendeds are among the few survivors. Now, their only chance is to brave the outsider's path through the deadly Forest in an attempt to discover the only thing that Mary still believes in -- that there is a world beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

    I can't wait to share more details over the next few days!! YAY!!!!

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Big News!!!

    So... phenomenal news. But I'm not ready to give all the details. There might have been too much champagne to write a coherent blog entry :)

    Will sum up tomorrow :)

    Saturday, October 13, 2007

    National Book Award nominees

    So my creative writing professor from college, Jim Shepard, was nominated for the National Book Award for his book of stories, Like You'd Understand, Anyway. I think this is awesome because he is a fantastic writer and I'm so happy that now more people will be exposed to his work. I took every class I could from this man and loved them all. My only regret is that I didn't take them more seriously, that I didn't spend more time and effort on them. Of course, I'm sure most students feel this way at some point.

    I learned a lot from Prof. Shepard. Looking at WIP, I realize just how much of it I owe to the classes I took at Williams. It's written in the voice I developed there and definitely has elements that would make Prof. Shepard smile. I'm sure I'm not the student he expected to get somewhere with her writing :)

    Jim Shepard is a brilliant writer, a phenomenal professor, and I couldn't be happier for him!

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    Yay for JP!!!

    My amazing boyfriend JP has been on a roll recently with the awesome writing news and it gets better and better: he just made his first pro sale!!! He sold his short story "Spamdemonium" to Jim Baen's Universe and will be one of their "Introducing new authors" in the June 2008 issue. This was an acceptance 480 days in the making (you thought waiting to hear back from agents was tough!?). I couldn't be more excited for him and for all of y'all who now get to read more of his awesome writing. While you're waiting for his next story to be published, you can always check out his flash fiction website -- he and his brother trade pitches (story ideas) each week and write, no editing, just writing.

    Yay JP, congratulations!!

    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    To write...

    This week on the League of Reluctant Adults they're talking about pet peeves and writing eccentricities. It got me thinking about what I need to write, and what my pet peeves are. Um... *thinking thinking thinking*... uh.... I don't know?

    Seriously, last year, when I started on WIP I got into a habit of coming home from work, turning on the fire, pouring a glass of red wine, and hammering out 2k words before JP got home from work. It was November when I started, dark by the time I got home from work. This became such a habit that I began to think this was the only way I could write. In fact, one weekend I decided to write outside and I couldn't. There was sun and light and (slight) warmth and what I was writing was dark and scary and cold (it was winter in my ms). I began to think that I couldn't write in any atmosphere except the one I'd been used to.

    Then I realized this was not a good thing. I did not want to get in the habit of needing certain things to write. I didn't want it to have to be dark outside, to have to be cold, to have to be alone. To me, that led to superstitions and limitations. Because I'm an attorney (with a new job in a new practice area to boot!) I take my writing time where I can get it. Whether that be early morning, in the mountains, in a hotel room, etc.

    So every time I think "oh, I prefer to write without noise" I sometimes challenge myself to write with noise. I think sometimes its easy to find obstacles to writing, and I'm trying my hardest to eliminate as many of those as possible.

    That being said, what are my pet peeves and eccentricities? Once I enter my character's head, it's hard to leave. I don't like being interrupted because I'm afraid of loosing the flow of where I am. For me, interruptions are things like cats that can't settle down, people who strike up conversations (I don't mind answering a question or two, but when I'm writing I'm not prepared to set the writing aside to chat). If I have to get up to grab something, leave the room, etc., that's not a big deal. Really the only thing that stops my flow is having to leave my own head -- basically to interact with other people for more than a sentence or two. I'm not the most fun person when I'm in the middle of writing a scene :)

    But at the same time, I also know when to put the writing down. When to say "scene's done, writing is over for the night" and resurface into the real world.

    What about y'all, what are your writing pet peeves and eccentricities?

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    At this moment...

    Right now I'm in Hotlanta for a work conference. And I'm listening to the house trance version of Sweet Emotions because this is my work computer and I don't have any of my own music on it so I have to go the internet radio route. Interesting. The room actually has an iPod radio thingy but I left my iPod in the can and don't feel like calling for them to bring it around just for that.

    Clearly, you can all see that I am, once again as the title of the blog alludes, procrastinating. I have a print out of WIP in front of me. Lots of sticky notes. Colored pens. Highlighters of every shade. Right now I'm taking a break. Really, I should get back to editing. Because I've already used a big portion of the break trolling the internet finding free internet radio (iTunes - who knew?). Of course, after all of that effort I remember that I hate to listen to music while I'm editing. But this room seems so... quiet.

    JP has promised to call me before bed to check-in on the status of my edits. I guess if I don't want to disappoint him I should get back to it. Naturally I started on the easy edits first... sigh...

    What are y'all up to these days? What makes you procrastinate and what's your favorite form of procrastination?

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Back to life

    I just love the mountains. Somehow, going there just makes the weekend seem longer and more refreshing. Ahhhh...

    Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, there has been some chatting about what sort of response times one can expect from their agent. Kristin started it with her post here. Then Jennifer Jackson and Nephele added their thoughts (and the comments are worth reading on all of those).

    I'm never one without thoughts and opinions and I have strong ones on this topic. But right now I can't complain because I have a fantabulous agent who is amazingly responsive :) I'm curious to know what y'all think: what should an author expect from an agent in terms of responsiveness (whether they are repped by that agent or not, though those are very different situations!).

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Finally Friday...

    This weekend I head to the mountains. Those of you who are regular readers will know that I love the mountains and that they're a great place for writing. This time around, I think I'll sit down with WIP and try to read it. First of all, I haven't read this most recent version. Sure I've read the parts that I was revising before sending subs out to agents, but I've never really just sat down and read it like a reader. Second, a lot of the feedback I've been getting is from people who read the book in one sitting. So I'm curious to see what that experience is like. I'm sure I'll find edits to make as I go through -- I'm not sure I could ever read a book I wrote and not find something to change. But I want to try to not let that editing urge dominate :)

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm constantly impressed by the other writers in this industry. Of course I hear the horror stories of back-stabbing authors, but I've never met one. In all of my dealings with other authors during my agent hunt, everyone has been amazingly helpful and honest. I had people just randomly emailing me to say that they heard I had an offer from their agent and was there anything they could do to help make my decision easier.

    So I've met some fabulous people over the past month! Especially three fellow writers who are represented by my agent, Jim McCarthy: Mark Henry, Richelle Mead, and Michelle Rowen. Read their blogs, buy their books -- these are awesome people!! I've been taking a peruse through Michelle's archives on her blog and let me tell you: totally inspirational! Y'all know how much I love archives, how much I love the excitement of them. These rock!

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007


    One of the best feelings I had finishing WIP (or at least typing "The End") was that I finally knew where the story was going. Sure, I had a lot of revising to do to pull it all together, to smooth out the path my characters took, but I knew where everyone would end up. It was a huge relief to me, suddenly I no longer had to carry everything in my head. I no longer had to walk around with the characters banging against my skull.

    Literally, while writing WIP I was like a zombie. I was obsessed. WIP was all I could think about. Poor JP -- we'd be walking or at dinner or just living life and I'd say "what if..." or "what about..." or "what do you think if...."

    There was a lot of whingeing too. Thankfully JP is also a writer and understands the constant attention your characters and plot demand!

    For the last few months, my mind has been focused on other things. Revisions, agent searching, query letter structure. And that was a different kind of stress, one I could lock away when I had other things to do. I have to admit, it was kinda nice :)

    So it's strange to be starting on the next project, the new WIP. Not only was there a little bit of "First WIP came out of nowhere, it was so easy to write!" (which are pretty much all lies and myths that have grown in my head over the past year), but there's also been a lot of "How am I ever going to follow that up? Where do I even start?"

    I've known for a while what I want the general plot of New WIP to be, but that doesn't mean much. I still needed a place to start, a place to go. Actual words to put on the paper.

    And then the other night the first line popped into my head, much in the same way that the first line to WIP popped into my head. I'm a first line kinda girl -- once I have that it's off to the races.

    Now I'm 4k in. Already I can feel the characters starting to crawl in from the corners of my mind. Soon enough, they'll be my constant companions and I'll be back to where I was before -- always thinking about the plot, trying to figure out where everything goes and how it will end.

    But for now, I'm just enjoying the excitement of starting something new. Of all the possibilities that come with the beginning of a story -- all the avenues to explore.

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    The Other Side...

    When I started this blog, one of my main goals was to have a real-time recording of my thoughts and process as I worked towards my ten year plan.* Part of my reasoning was that I really enjoy going back and reading author blogs from before they were published/agented. As I've said before, it is so inspiring to read about their process, their doubts, their lives from before. Especially knowing what the after is like.

    Another part of the reasoning is that I have a terrible memory and I thought it might be fun to walk down memory lane. And in fact, the other night I did just that. I went back to reminisce about when I got the idea for WIP and what it was like to work on it. I'm so happy with the end result of WIP that it's easy to forget about the doubts along the way (they were there, folks) and that's what I wanted a memory of.

    I also went back and reminisced about the stress of my agent hunt -- the over thinking, the agony. It makes me laugh now, and it's hard to remember just how stressful that whole thing was. How much trouble and time it took to put together every submission package -- hours!! And in the end it all worked!!

    It's so strange and awesome to suddenly be on the other side of all of that. Just the other day, a guest agent came to one of the loops I subscribe to. I was thrilled and eagerly read all of her posts, sopping up all the information. I was half-way through before I realized "I have an agent (!!). I'm past this stage of 'what are you looking for in a query letter.'" Oh my God I have an agent!!

    I think that's when it really hit home what getting an agent really meant. That I'd hit this goal, accomplished this milestone. All of the sudden, whether to personalize your query letters is no longer a worry of mine. Now I can look back at some of my random fears (incorrectly formatting sample pages in an email) and realize that most of those worries are useless. That it really does come down to the story -- to the pages themselves and not how they're formatted. But that's so much easier said from the comfort of being represented :)

    And the best and funniest part of all, is that I was on a message board recently when someone came on and stressed "how do I format an email query?!" and I was able to respond the same way so many people responded to me. "Relax, here's how I did it, relax some more, it will all be ok."

    The thing is, that's useful advice for every step of your career. So now, instead of stressing about what's next, I'm leaving that in my wonderful and accomplished agent's hands and I'm starting in on my next book. That is, after all, what this is all about :)

    * JP and I have a ten year plan to be able to support ourselves with our writing in 10 years, which would be by the beginning of 2016. Wow, that's the first time I've ever figured out the exact year and that feels like SO FAR away!!