It’s Saturday.

Here are some things you should do on a Saturday, specifically this one, in case you were confused.

You should subscribe to Fumbling with Fiction, aka this blog. You can clicky over there —> in the right hand corner and then I’ll be sent right to your email address. Thrilling, huh?

You should write at least 1,500 words with me today because you’re never too old to be peer pressured a little. Am I right or am I right?

You should also read something. I mean for fun, not for work or whatever. Because it’s rainy and cold here and while I have no reason to assume it’s rainy and cold where you are, you should still read something. I tend to get all busy and distracted with life, etc. etc. that I forget how much I miss reading good books until I’m mid-zombie apocalypse, like today. If you’re looking for a suggestion, I’m reading The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (hence the zombie reference), so you could read that too…if you wanted…then we could talk about it.

While you’re at it you could discover a new blog or two. I’ve got suggestions on that front too in case you were wondering. I’m really into Invincible Summer right now, which is Hannah Moskowitz’s blog if you didn’t already know. I went to go get her book, Break, last night at Barnes and Noble but the store was sold out of copies, so bummer… I’m ordering it from B&, but it does lack the sort of instant gratification I was craving.

Okay, well, I’m going to get back to the zombies or to the writing. Let me know if you do any of these things or plan to do any of these things today. Or all of them, I mean, if you’re feeling ambitious…


2009 Debutante Author Interview Series: Carrie Ryan


In Mary’s world, there are simple truths.
The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village….



I have been oh-so-excited about this interview. Carrie Ryan is the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which will be published by Delacorte and will hit shelves March 10th. Everyone is talking about this book. I know that I’ll be buying a copy the day it launches. For personal reasons, I’ve been dying to know how Carrie handled law school, working at a firm, and writing books. I’m so thankful Carrie put so much thought into these answers. Hope y’all enjoy.


The Forest of Hands and Teeth is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?


The short answer: Three completed novels (The Forest of Hands and Teeth was the third); seven years (only three years of actually writing); 19 rejections.


Longer answer:  I started writing my first novel just before graduating from college and I finished it that next year.  It was a western historical romance (long story behind that choice) and I queried about six agents — a few requests but all ended up as rejections.  And I realized I was okay with the rejections because I never wanted to write another western historical romance again!  After that I wrote a romantic comedy that I never polished or queried.


Then I had this grand long term plan that I’d write chick lit and I somehow convinced myself that the best way to do that was to go to law school (another long story behind that choice!).  So basically I stopped writing for four years while I applied and attended law school. 


After starting work as a lawyer for a few months I decided I needed an exit strategy and I started writing seriously again.  I had many false starts (I wrote about 172k words that year but finished nothing).  I started writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth on November 2, 2006 (I still have the email where I sent myself the first line).  I finished the rough draft in April 2007, revised it until the end of August when I started querying agents and sold in October!


Oh boy. An exit strategy from practicing law? I need to cover my ears!


Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?


Wow, I don’t think I can compare the two!  My agent, Jim McCarthy, called me on a Monday and it was totally out of the blue.  I was standing in the kitchen when I heard his voice on the answering machine asking me to call him back.  I just stared at my fiancé, JP, and he stared at me and he started jumping and dancing but I just kept saying “it could just be that he wants to talk.  It might not be an offer.”  It was well after business hours and for about twenty minutes I walked around the house in a daze unable to really utter anything coherent.  Then I checked my email and Jim had sent an email letting me know that he wanted to offer representation.  That’s when I started dancing too and we went out to celebrate!


The call for the book deal was also way unexpected!  We were going to send FHT out on submission on a Monday but Jim called Friday afternoon and asked what I thought about sending out a sneak peek to a few editors who’d showed early interest.  I was all for it!  So when he called on Monday morning I figured it was just to check in and talk about sending out the rest of the submissions.  But he was calling to tell me there was a pre-empt!  When he gave me the details I just remember staring out the window completely floored. 


Actually, now that I think about it, I think the call for the book deal thrilled me more.  Getting that offer of representation was an amazing feeling but knowing the book had sold – wow.  I floated all day (I’m still floating!)


Now THAT is a fast sale.


You’re lucky enough to have quit the day job now, but how did you balance the demanding task of being a lawyer as well as being a writer?


I had no life – haha!  Seriously, I decided that if I was really going to do this — write and try to sell a book — that I had to figure out how to make it work.  I didn’t want five years to pass and look back and lament not really striving for my goals.  I cut out most TV (and honestly, that’s how I found a lot of time), I ate frozen dinners, the house teeters on being a wreck (our Christmas tree was almost always up through my birthday in mid-January).  I’d wake up, go to work, come home and write.  On the weekends, I’d write.  Some months (when I was working on a big trial) the only time I had to write was the 8 minutes while the pasta was boiling for mac ‘n’ cheese!  I’m not really sure I would call that balance – haha!


That’s a really honest answer. Thanks for sharing.


I believe when I talked to you last you were rushing to meet a deadline. Are you working on the sequel to Forest? What fresh challenges are there in writing a sequel and in trying to avoid the infamous sophomore slump?


I made that deadline – yay!  I’m working on a sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth that will come out in Spring 2010.  It’s kind of a loose sequel, though, set quite a while after the end of the first book and with a different POV character.


Fresh challenges — there were plenty (and old challenges too!).  One challenge for me was that I’d never planned to write a sequel so I hadn’t created a character arc and plot arc that I felt like could span another book.  I had a few other issues but can’t get into them without spoilers But I think that’s one reason I ultimately decided to use a different POV character for the second book and set it later.  So I’m using the same world, but it’s not really a direct sequel.


I also think it’s often nice that the lead times with YA are so long that you have plenty of time to write the next book in a vacuum without hearing public feedback about the first book.  I think sometimes hearing the responses to the first book can really influence the way you think about the second!


Interesting. I had no idea different genres/categories of books had different lead times.


This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?


Oh yes!  The first one that comes to mind is when I ended up querying an agent before the project was remotely ready.  In my defense, it was a pitch workshop with an agent and I didn’t expect her to actually be requesting material, but I didn’t even have the partial ready!!  I scrambled to edit that and sent it before the book was finished (never did finish the book) and got a rejection (rightfully so!).


However, I’m also a big fan of believing that things tend to work out and happen for a reason.  I definitely learned not to query until the manuscript is as polished as possible and I also met my critique partner, Diana Peterfreund, without whose support I’m not sure I’d have sold FHT.


I think your fiancé is also a writer and an attorney. That’s two writers/lawyers under one roof! Good, bad, or ugly?


Lol, I asked him this question and he was like “all three.”  For me it’s wonderful.  He understands that writing can be hard, he supports me unequivocally, and he’s an amazing editor.  He’s not afraid to tell me when something’s not as good as it can be nor is he afraid to heap on the praise   The hardest part for me is that he is truly an amazing writer and I strive to write as well as he does!


You’re now at the beginning of your writing career. Can you believe it? Where would you like that sure-to-be illustrious career to take you?


No, I still can’t believe it!  Honestly, there are days when I just clap my hands and dance around with glee!  For me and career goals… I’d just love to be able to keep writing (and to keep writing full time).


Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?


My first editorial letter came on the Wednesday after I sold that Monday!  So I was utterly surprised because I thought I’d be waiting weeks or months!  The first letter focused on broader issues and then we worked on smaller and smaller issues with subsequent letters.  I was really energized when I first got it because it made everything feel so real!  I think for me the key with revisions has been understanding the “why” of it — if I know WHY my editor wants a certain change it’s easier for me to figure out how to make that change.


Your editor must have been really psyched to start your book. That’s great!  Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?


I’m sure it will seem quite strange to most people, but I wish I’d written Lolita by Nabokov.  I remember when I first opened that book, standing in the college bookstore loading up for my semester classes, and I had to sit down on the floor because the beginning is so stunningly written.  I love the wordplay, the fun with language and I learned a lot from that book about how to write descriptions and choose words. 



           (Be sure to check out the coolest book trailer ever!)






Interview: Cyn Balog, Author of Fairy Lust

Today, I’m so pleased to have Cyn Balog chat with us. She’s the author of the forthcoming Fairy Lust (Delacorte, 2009). She’s a fellow frequenter of both the Blue Boards and Absolute Write, so be sure to support her win her book hits the shelves. To whet your appetite, here’s a bit about her novel:

               Morgan Sparks has always known that she and her boyfriend, Cam, are made for each other. They’re next-door neighbors and have been friends practically since birth. They tell each other everything, and are totally hot for each other.
            But suddenly, a week before their joint Sweet Sixteen party, Cam starts acting distant. His mysterious and awkward cousin, Pip, comes to stay with the family. Finally Pip confesses to Morgan what’s going on: Cam is a fairy. No, seriously, a fairy. Because Cam was a sickly baby, the fairies came to Earth the night he was born and switched him with Pip, a healthy human boy. Nobody expected Cam to live, and nobody expected his biological brother, raised in the fairy world and heir to the fairy throne, to die. But now the fairies want Cam back to take his rightful place as Fairy King.
            There’s no way Morgan is going to let this happen. As Cam begins to physically change, Morgan becomes determined to fool the fairies so that she and Cam can stay together forever. Soon she has to decide once and for all whether their love can weather an uncertain future.

Can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

And without further ado…

Hi Cyn! Thanks for doing this. This is such an exciting time for you and I’m excited to get to have you on Fumbling with Fiction! As I understand it, Fairy Lust is your debut novel, can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?

I knew I wanted to be a writer very young– almost from the moment I learned to write.  However when I got to college I was really daunted by the statistics about how improbable it is to make a living off of writing fiction, so I actually attempted to give it up to have a “real” career in marketing– and succeeded for almost 15 years.  But after awhile I couldn’t ignore it anymore, so I wrote my first book, which landed me an agent fairly easily.  It didn’t sell, but eventually I began to work on another idea– Fairy Lust, which sold.  So I guess you can say the journey has been pretty long– it’s been decades since I first decided I wanted to be a writer!
Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?

Definitely the call where I got my book deal!  It came completely out of the blue!  My book had been on submission for six weeks, and I was under the impression that if my book was going to sell well, the second my agent unleashed it upon the publishing world, offers were going to come in.  Didn’t happen.  I had just resigned myself to picking up a new idea and starting over, as painful as that was, because ANOTHER one of my books was going to be shelved.  And then suddenly, I got a call from my agent.  She told me that Delacorte loved it.  I thought, “Well, that’s good news, so now they need to go through meetings and a bunch of other hoops, and then maybe it will sell . . .” and that’s when she told me they’d offered a pre-empt.  I was at work and started screaming and crying, which is, of course, a very professional thing to do.
I love seeing authors succeed like that! Throughout your journey as a writer, what resources have you found most valuable to your success? Websites? Books? Conferences?

Since I started writing, I don’t think I have made it through a day without checking Verla’s boards, the Absolute Write Boards, and my LiveJournal.  I have so many writer friends on all those sites that “get it”, more than any of my family or friends, who still seem to think that since I write YA, I must be best friends with the only other YA writers out there, J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer.  The writers I have met online are so supportive and encouraging, I love sharing my problems and successes with all of them because they know what I’m going through.  Two of my best friends, Mandy Hubbard (Prada & Prejudice, Razorbill, 2009), and Brooke Taylor (Undone, Walker, 2008), were met online years ago, before any of us had agents or book contracts . . . I honestly don’t think FAIRY LUST would exist without them and the online community of writers. 

I love how you talk about making your “writer friends” online and elsewhere. I’m just starting to make some similar bonds and I think it would be so neat to see some of these aspiring writers succeed and I value their support already. Thanks for reminding us how important those relationships are. On your blog, you have something called the “ABCs of Writing.” Can you tell us a little bit about what that entails?

Mandy Hubbard lives on the West Coast and I live on the East Coast, and so we email back and forth constantly.  We both love the Greens’ Brotherhood vlog series, and wanted to learn how to vlog.  So we decided that we would do a really goofy vlog series, all about our experiences as writers.  We started with a topic beginning with the letter A, and we alternate every couple of weeks.  Mandy did a really cute one for the letter “C” because it was right after she got “The Call” that Prada & Prejudice was going to be published.  We don’t do anything flashy because we’re complete amateurs, we’re just acting goofy, trying to have fun.  But maybe somewhere, buried in there, might be some helpful advice for aspiring writers.

Too funny! Can you tell us a little about your writing schedule and where you do most of your writing?

I have a full-time job which requires me to be active (I manage the events for fitness magazines) so in between dealing with my job schedule, working out, and my family (I have a toddler) . . . I get maybe 19 minutes during my lunch hour?  And sometimes my very supportive family will leave me alone for a few hours on the weekends.  When you have such a rigid schedule, you really start to value and make the most of your writing time.  I used to have a lot more time for writing, and I wasted it!

We all know that writers go through hard times on their way to success. How have you handled rejection in the past?

I mope.  Seriously, it’s okay to mope for a day or two, eat a pint of ice-cream, whatever.  But then you pick yourself up and get moving again.  I think I hit one of my biggest lows after my first novel didn’t sell, and I wrote a second novel, which I excitedly sent to my agent and got a “meh” response.  I had shelves of novels, months and years of blood, sweat, and tears, and nobody in NYC wanted them!  I was so frustrated, and I contemplated giving up writing.  And then I remembered that I had tried that, so many years ago, and it didn’t work.  Writing– not to sell, but just for fun– is like my salvation.  Writing gives me a high unlike anything I’ve every experienced before– my fingers itch to be at the keyboard when I’m away.  So I told myself that I would just keep writing, and not worry about selling.   And then, of course, I sold.  It was like that old adage they tell you about finding a relationship…. when you’re not looking, THAT’s when you find it.

I like your honesty and think you are right on the mark. On a happier note, now that you are a soon-to-be-published author, seeing the view from the other side, what has most surprised you about the publishing process?

I was floored to learn how much work manuscripts go through, even after they’ve been bought.  I thought editors only bought manuscripts that were just about perfect.  If it needed more than a little work, they’d pass.  Not true.  Some of my friends had dozens of pages of changes to make on their manuscripts, and multiple rounds of revisions. Editors don’t just sit there, reading stacks for manuscripts and saying “yes” or “no.”  They, and the copyeditors, are pretty much geniuses.    

I always ask this question of interviewees, so I hope you’ve been thinking on it. If you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?

Actually, there are many books out there that I wish I could have written, anything by M.T. Anderson because I have no idea how he manages to get in his character’s heads so completely and so convincingly.  And it’s funny, a year or two ago, I’d written four or five chapters of a book about the zombie apocalypse, based on a dream I’d had, since I am a huge fan of zombies.  Then, I gave it up to write FAIRY LUST.  And I am so glad that I never attempted to finish it because it would have paled drastically in comparison to Carrie Ryan’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH.  


Oh! I have so been wanting to read Carrie Ryan’s book. Thanks for reminding me.

Cyn, you gave fantastic, thoughtful answers. Thank you so much. It is helpful and inspiring to see a writer going through all of this with fresh eyes. Thanks for taking the time to give us your insight and a BIG congratulations!


You can find out more about Cyn Balog at .



Status: First day of law school orientation complete! I read The Appeal by John Grisham for today and had a book discussion, so I will be reviewing that on Saturday if y’all are interested. Other than that I’m still playing the waiting game, but will be working on taking my own advice from yesterday and not wasting time that I could be writing!