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On Wednesday night, Carrie Ryan, fantastic author extraordinaire, came to Utah for a book signing. I was so excited to FINALLY meet one of my hero authors, after years of following her blog, twitter, and reading her books (I’m not a stalker, I swear!). And while at the book signing, James Dashner gave me Carrie Ryan’s #1 Fan spot (for Utah). Sorry fellow Utahns, but I guess I asked first! And since James Dashner said it, that totally makes it official, right?

For those who don’t know who Carrie Ryan is, she’s the New York Times Best Selling author of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, THE DEAD TOSSED WAVES, and now THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES (released March 22 from Delacorte Press). The series comprises of three books about teens in the time of a zombie apocalypse — part horror story, and part love story. Carrie has also written several short stories set in that world, some of which you can read for free on her website’s anthology page.

And here is everyone posing in line as zombies. Even though no one really knew what a zombie pose was. Doesn’t the darkened feel of the picture give a sense of doom?

I went with my dear friend Jenilyn Tolley to the book signing. [YES! We braved snother book signing, and less than a week after the 7-hours that was the Markus Zusak book signing] And Carrie Ryan got a kick out of the note we wrote Markus about how we had prepped for the zombie apocalypse while waiting in line.

me, Carrie Ryan, and Jenilyn Tolley

And Carrie was everything I expected and more. She was so enthusiastic, personable, and a great motivational speaker.

What I wanted to highlight from her amazing speech is how she committed to writing. If any of you are unaware, Carrie went to law school but didn’t fall in love with the practice of law. She realized she loved writing, and so she made a 10-year plan to get published. She was determined to invest for 10 years into her writing and her stories. She would write and submit and write and submit — and if nothing happened in 10 years, she would move on. But in those ten years, she would keep writing no matter the number of rejections she got. As she said: “Once you experience passion for something how do you not live it?” Which is how she felt about writing, and she wanted that to be her life.

What I loved about her plan was that she allowed herself time to grow. Allow time to get rejection after rejection, and time to move onto different stories. That is something that is so important to any writer. Last week, Markus Zusak said something that hits right on that. A writer is a person who knows their next book won’t get published, and will write it anyways. It’s really like what Carrie said about feeling that passion, and I know that I definitely feel that passion towards writing. And I really want to take the time to not only to grow as a writer, but to allow each manuscript time to become fantastic and not just average.

(top) Ally Condie, Elana Johnson, Stacey Ratfliff, Brodi Ashton, Bree Despain (bottom) Chersti Nieveen (me!) and Jenilyn Tolley

That last thing I want to add is that while Carrie did want to make a living as a writer, she realized that was something outside her control. So her 10-year plan was to get a book published. I really like how she pointed out that even with determination, you have to make realistic goals. So if you haven’t checked out these books yet, I strongly encourage you to go read the first one. They are just so beautifully written that any writer can literally take a page out of her book and learn more about the writing craft.

8 thoughts on “A Signing with Carrie Ryan, author of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH series

  1. What a great experience! How fun you got to go to the signing. I enjoyed THE FOREST OF HANDS and TEETH although I haven’t read the sequels (I was slightly bummed by the ending, I admit…like, THIS is a love story?). But the writing is great, I agree.

  2. Aubrey – It was such a fantastic night overall, wasn’t it? It’s always fun seeing writerly friends!

    Carol Riggs – You absolutely HAVE to read the sequels. Each books get better. I had a couple of issues with the protagonist in the first book, but they were all resolved in the second book. Just brilliant! And I have to say the love stories get better and better, so it will make up any disappointment you had. Loved to hear what you think when you read it (which I hope you do!).

    Leisha Maw – I took a video and maybe I’ll figure out how to put in on YOUTUBE. If I do, then I’ll be sure to send you the link. That ways you get all her great advice and it’s almost like you were there!

  3. That sounds like a great experience. I did like The Forest of Hands and Teeth–her prose is beautiful, absolutely, although I was kind of underwhelmed by the rest of it. Probably because I had my expectations built up so much. Still a good book. I do have to thank you, Chersti, for putting it on my radar in the first place. The story of the 10-year plan is pretty great too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Greg – Wow, it’s so nice to hear that my recommendations help people find good books. Though I am sorry if I built up your expectations on this book. I’ve actually wondered what guys think about it, because of the strong romantic thread. But I just adore how beautiful the writing is, and I read a few pages whenever I am trying to fix sentences in my own writing so I can get the smooth feel of the text.

    I think I’m now aiming for a 10-year plan – you should let me know if you are, too!

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