Banning Books = Fear

Growing up, I went to a religious school.  At graduation, the priest giving the commencement address said that we should always question our faith.  Because if we do so and it causes us to lose our faith, then our faith wasn’t strong enough to begin with.  And if we do so and we do not lose our faith, then it only makes our faith that much stronger.

At the time, this idea blew my mind.  It’s not that I’d always been told to blindly accept various things in life, but it’s the first time I remember someone in such an official capacity not just telling us that it’s okay to question and doubt, but that it’s a good thing.

Since then, this fundamental idea has formed a core part of my identity.  You do not convince people to your position on a matter by withholding the possibility of other options.  You do so by facing challenges against your position head on.  You need to lay out all the arguments — both the good and the bad — and explain why the bad shouldn’t matter.

Knowledge is power.  Information is power.  And the easiest way to control a population is to limit its access to information.  To take away their ability to form any opinion other than the one you want them to.  Which is why book banning is so problematic.

Books are how we create communities.  They are how we step outside of our own identities and into those of others — they’re how we learn empathy.  The only reason to ban a book is fear.  Fear that once a book opens someone’s eyes, you will not be able to force them closed again.

September 23rd, 2014|

Three Starred Reviews for The Map to Everywhere

So I wrote this blog post but it got really long so decided to break it into two.  Here’s part one, which is really the crux of it: The Map to Everywhere has received three starred reviews!!  I’m completely awed and excited and overwhelmed and excited again!!  Here’s what they had to say:

“Vividly cast…. Multifaceted characters, high stakes, imaginative magic, and hints of hidden twists and complexities to come.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Wholly original…. This is an ambitious undertaking, and strong readers who enjoy adventure fiction and fantasy will inhale the first book in what has the potential to be an extraordinary series.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“The unique details, expert plotting, charming characters, and comic interludes combine in a tantalizing read that’s made even more appealing by the promise that the story will continue in future volumes.” —Booklist, starred review

What makes this even more special and wonderful has been to share this entire experience with my co-author, JP.  Apparently, I made a good choice to write with him since he is currently three for three on starred reviews!!

September 22nd, 2014|

Signing in Raleigh with Kami Garcia on October 3!

Hey y’all! I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be joining Kami Garcia at Quail Ridge Books on October 3 to celebrate the release of the second book in her Legion Series: Unmarked!  I’ve never done a signing at Qual Ridge and am so excited to finally get the opportunity!  Plus, it’s Kami Garcia! She’s awesome!

For more info, click here.  Hope to see y’all there!

When: Friday, October 3, 2014 at 7:00PM
Where: Qual Ridge Books: 3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh, NC 27607
What: I’ll be interviewing Kami Garcia about her latest release, answering questions, and signing!

September 18th, 2014|

Upcoming to-dos!

Hello all! There are a few odds and ends, events and whatnots, I wanted to give shout outs to!

Signing in CLT 9/3!!

First, the fabulous and wonderful Margaret Stohl, author of the Icons series and co-author of Beautiful Creatures & Dangerous Creatures, will be signing with Brendan Reichs, co-author of the Virals series, at Park Road Books in Charlotte next week! The signing is at 4:30 on Wednesday, September 3d — I can’t wait to see y’all there!  For more details, click here.

Pre-order Now!

Second, another fabulous and wonderful author, Beth Revis, just announced that she has a new book coming out and happily, the release is only a couple of month away!  The Body Electric is a sci-fi Blade Runner meets Total Recall — I read a draft and couldn’t put it down!  While you can pre-order the book everywhere, she’s doing a special, signed, limited edition through her local indie, Malaprops, which you can order through her website, here.

Pre-order now!

Third, speaking of pre-orders and local indies, don’t forget that you can pre-order my next book, The Map to Everywhere, through my local indie, Park Road books!  Not only will your book be signed (and personalized if you like!), it will be shipped out to you with special goodies such as a poster of the cover, stickers, and a special letter.  To order you can call (704-525-9239) email ( or buy through their website here (some folks have encountered an error page while checking out but Park Road says it’s just a glitch and to click through it).  If you want Map personalized, don’t forget to leave a comment with the name you want the book made out to!

August 25th, 2014|

ALA Bound!

Preamble: at ALA this year JP and I will be signing galleys of THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE in the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers booth (#422) on Sunday from 3-4!  Come grab an ARC and say hi! More details here.

A few years ago I was able to attend ALA (the American Library Association’s annual conference) in New Orleans and it was amazing!  Imagine a massive convention center filled with books and book lovers — pretty much heaven, right?  There’s really nothing quite like strolling the aisles, gazing at all the booths, and hearing all the excitement.  Plus! Friends! One of the things I love about a conference like this is that everyone has a shared passion so it’s super easy to strike up a conversation pretty much anywhere — standing in line for a signing, hanging out in a booth, randomly wandering around the hotel with a massive tote bag filled with ARCs 🙂

So I’m super excited that, thanks to the wonderful folks at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, I get to return to ALA this year to promote THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE, the first book in the middle grade fantasy adventure series that my husband, JP, and I are writing.  There are a few things that make this ALA feel even more special than usual.  First, that JP will be there. He’s been hearing me rave about library conventions for years and now he gets to see it all first hand.  Not only that, but he gets to experience it as a debut author (squee!!).  
Me & Laini Taylor at the ALA 2011 LBYR party – hijinks!
(photo courtesy of Laini’s blog)
Second, the conference is in Vegas — which just in its own right means there are likely to be high-jinks and shenanigans.  But the other connection is that in November 2012 my agent submitted The Map to Everywhere just before the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) convention… which also happened to be in Vegas.  I was lucky enough to be there promoting Infinity Ring: Divide and Conquer.  What I didn’t know at the time was that my future editor was also there, reading Map along with her co-workers and preparing an offer.  So returning to Vegas to promote Map feels a bit like coming full circle! 
But more than anything, what has me excited (and, lets be honest, really really nervous) is that I get to get out there and talk to people about MAP for the first time.  I know I haven’t said much about this book on the blog (I’ve become a bit superstitious about talking about books before they’re well and done), but I truly, truly love it.  Of course I love all the books I’ve written in different ways, but I had the same kind of feeling writing MAP as I did writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth — that this book is special to my heart.
Perhaps part of that feeling came from the fact that I wrote MAP with my husband.  This is a book that we’d talked about for years, planning out worlds and story lines while taking long rambling walks with our dog.  We didn’t yet have concrete plans to actually write it, but that didn’t matter because the joy was in the imagining of it.  At the heart of MAP is our love of stories — our desire to write the kind of book we fell in love with as kids.  Those are the books that sparked our imaginations — that taught us to daydream and think big.
Those books are the reason we are where we are today: packing to head off to a convention with 20,000 other book lovers.
June 26th, 2014|

Cover Reveal: The Map to Everywhere

I seriously have been dying to share this cover with the world for so long! And finally I can!  Behold, the cover for The Map to Everywhere, the first book in the new fantasy adventure middle grade series I’m co-writing with my husband, John Parke Davis!

Coming November 4, 2014!

There’s so much I love about this cover!  On the left is Fin, a forgettable orphan from the magical Khaznot Quay and on the right is Marrill, a not-quite ordinary girl from Arizona. The orange, one-eyed cat getting ready to pounce is Marrill’s rescue cat, Karnelius, and those are two pirats (one has a sextant!!) in the lower right.  I love how the map Fin is holding open morphs into the Pirate Stream itself with the ship (that would be the Enterprising Kraken, with an actual kraken preparing to attack!) sailing toward the Khaznot Quay.

Todd Harris is the artist for this cover (you might recognize his work from The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom) and there are so many details he managed to capture — little things that we hope the reader will flip back to as they’re reading and go “Oh! I see that now!”  Todd has truly done an amazing job at conveying the spirit of this book and the entire series.  When JP and I first saw the cover, we were both just completely blown away.

With The Map to Everywhere, we set out to write the kind of book we’d have loved to read as kids, and this cover captures that in every way.  We owe a huge thanks to Todd Harris and to the art department and our editors at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers who worked together to create such a perfect cover!  Thank you!

The Map to Everywhere will be out November 4, 2014 and you can click here to pre-order it from various places or here to find out how to pre-order an autographed copy (which will come with a free gift from JP and I).

Here’s more info about the book itself:

Anything you need–The Map to Everywhere can take you there.

To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it’s her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway which connects every world in creation (Apparently she shouldn’t have climbed aboard the mysterious pirate ship that sailed out of nowhere and into a dry Arizona parking lot. How was she to know?).

With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere, but they aren’t the only ones looking. A dark and sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can’t beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear-not least of all themselves!

In Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis’ first installment of a fantastical new series, adventure, magic, and hilarity collide in the treacherous skies and dangerous waters of the Pirate Stream. Heart-pounding escapades and a colorful cast of characters will have readers setting sail through this wholly original and unforgettable tale.

June 7th, 2014|

Pre-order Map and Get a Free Gift!

We found out today that as a negotiating tactic, Amazon has removed the pre-order buttons for all Hachette books (including The Map to Everywhere which will be coming out from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on November 4).  While this is indeed unfortunate and, frankly, upsetting, I figure why not find the bright side to this situation?

Because you know who you can still pre-order The Map to Everywhere from? Our incredibly supportive and wonderful local independent bookstore, Park Road Books.  So JP and I have decided that if you pre-order a copy of Map from Park Road Books, we’ll not only sign and personalize it, we’ll throw in a free gift with purchase.

What that gift is… we don’t know yet.  We just decided to do this today – lol.  But you can expect it to be book themed.  And something that can fit in a priority shipping envelope so it won’t change the shipping price.  Trust me, it will be cool 🙂

To order from Park Road Books just give them a call, 704-525-9239, or shoot them an email!  If you’d like your book personalized, don’t forget to tell them what name to use (and how to spell it if it has a unique spelling).

Thanks for helping us support a store that’s supported us for so long!

May 23rd, 2014|

Other Carrie Ryans, crazy-coincidences, and books

As it turns out, there are several Carrie Ryans out there and unsurprisingly I’ll sometimes get an email intended for one of them.  Sometimes it’s spam in which case I just delete it, sometimes I’ll have been accidentally signed up for something (Dear Carrie Ryan who joined — I have your matches… email me and I’ll move the account over to you :), but more often than not, the email is something important.  In those cases, I’ll respond to the person to let them know that I’m not the Carrie Ryan they’re looking for.

(and whenever I do that, I always say to myself, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”)

So yesterday I get an email for a different Carrie Ryan and I let them know they have the wrong one.  They apologize and thank me — standard stuff.  I didn’t really think much about the fact that my signature on my emails lists my books.

But then I got another email from them.  Turns out, the sender’s niece just happened to know who I was because she’d recently read my book.  How crazy is that?!  Of course I’m thinking it was The Forest of Hands and Teeth since that’s the one most people are familiar with.  

Nope!  Turns out she’d recently read The Map to Everywhere, the middle grade fantasy adventure that I wrote with my husband that doesn’t come out until November.  As far as I know, ARCs have just started going out and so far we haven’t really heard back from anyone who has read it.  And I have to admit, knowing that ARCs are out there, that people are going to start reading this book that I love so much… it’s terrifying!  Like, nail-bitingly stressful waiting for that first response.

Thankfully, she loved it!  I can’t even begin to tell you how much that made my (and JP’s) day!  Our week!!  But what really blows my mind and what I love so much about all of this, is that the first “in the wild” feedback we’ve gotten for Map came from the niece of a person who just happened to email the wrong Carrie Ryan about something important.

It’s the kind of thing that if you put it in a book, no one would believe you!  It actually reminded me of the time my mom lent her ARC of Forest to her friend who took it on a flight and ended up sitting next to Vania Stoyanova — a friend of mine from the book world.  This was months before Forest came out and when my mom’s friend pulled it out, Vania was like, “Hey! I know that book! I’ve been wanting to read it!”

Here are these two random strangers sitting next to each other on a plane and they both have something in common: me.  Which they’d never have figured out if one of them hadn’t happened to have one of the few advanced copies of Forest that existed at the time.

It makes me wonder, how often does stuff like that happen and we miss it?  How often are we surrounded by all these tiny, co-incidental connections that we have no idea about?  If anything, it makes you realize just how small this world really is.

And it makes me so crazy thankful that someone emailed the wrong Carrie Ryan yesterday and that I responded to let them know 🙂

April 24th, 2014|

Winning NaNo (+ free story!)

It feels a bit bizarre to be blogging about NaNoWriMo on December 6th, but such is life.  I’ve blogged about NaNo many times before — I’m a big fan of it because it’s how I ended up writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  Did I “win” NaNo that year? Nope.  I think I reached about 20,000 words, so I wasn’t even close (conversely, I hit 30k words this year and (a) I wasn’t even participating in NaNo and (b) I stopped drafting mid-month).

For me it’s not just about “winning” NaNo — it’s about indulging your inner writer.  Allowing yourself to focus on writing, to daydream about story, to put off the chores and find extra time to write.  To me, if you end NaNo energized, head spinning with ideas — that’s a win.

HOWEVER, if you did happen to hit that 50k word goal and “win” this year, there are some perks 🙂

 One of them is that Kobo Writing Life is giving away 10 Free ebooks to winners and my zombie collection, The Dead and Empty World, happens to be one of them 🙂  Here are the details:  I’m a big fan of Kobo because they’ve partnered with the American Booksellers Association (indie bookstores), so to be chosen as one of the books they’re giving away is a huge honor!

Another prize this year is Scrivener and I can’t tell you how much I LOVE Scrivener! Seriously, this is a tool that changed the way I write.  I keep meaning to write a post about it, but I’ve never really figured out how without lots of spoilerific screenshots.  Before Scrivener, I’d have about five Word windows open at any given time: one with an outline, one with notes, one tracking word count, one with cut words, and one with the actual WIP.  If I wanted to double check a fact, I had to scroll scroll scroll until I found the scene.  Even numbering chapters was arduous (I can’t tell you how many times I skipped a number because I lost track!).

With Scrivener, all that’s now in one place.  It’s just like each Scrivener file is a big box holding EVERYTHING having to do with that book: all the notes, all the drafts, all the words, all the thoughts, all the images.  Plus, it’s incredibly stable — it autosaves every few seconds and to date I’ve never lost anything I’ve written (knock on wood!).

I know that for a lot of people, their first look at Scrivener can be overwhelming because there are SO many tools and options.  But really, the only thing you need to learn how to do is create a doc, and start typing.  All that other stuff is just there if you want to use it.  For example, it has a great notecard system — I don’t use it.  I’m not a notecarder, so I ignore it.  I have friends, however, who LOVE the notecards but hate the snapshot function (I’m not sure how JP and I could have co-written our MG without the snapshot function!).

Anyway, all of that is to say that if you “won” NaNo (or even if you didn’t!), you should check out Scrivener.  I’m pretty sure they still offer a free trial if you want to test drive it.  And you don’t actually have to start out with a new project.  I began using Scrivener in the middle of The Dead-Tossed Waves and I just imported that manuscript and separated it out by hand (took about 30 min).  Good thing, too, that program seriously saved my sanity when it came to editing that book – lol!

So, to all of you out there who drafted 50k words in November and “won” NaNo: Congrats! Go claim your prizes!  To everyone else who participated in NaNo but didn’t hit that 50k goal, I still consider you a winner because you spent a month writing 🙂  So here’s a prize for you: a free copy of my zombie short story Flotsam & Jetsam.

Now, just because November’s over doesn’t mean it’s time to stop writing 🙂

December 6th, 2013|

Zombies on Sale! (free gift with purchase for Halloween!)

Unsurprisingly, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and this year I have a special treat!  Earlier this month I released The Dead and Empty World, [Amazon | Barnes & Noble | kobo] a collection of reprinted short stories set in the Forest of Hands and Teeth world. To celebrate the release (and because who doesn’t want to read about zombies on Halloween?), I’ve put the collection on sale! 

For the next few days, you can get the entire collection for $0.99 — the same price as just one short story. That’s five stories for the price of one!

If discount zombies aren’t enough of an incentive, I’m also offering a free gift with purchase 🙂

For the first 100 people to email me with proof of purchase (details below), I’ll drop a gift in the mail to you.

Everyone will receive a signed bookplate with a note plus one of the following:

  • 50 people will receive either a miniature glow in the dark zombie or zombie dog; 
  • 10 people will receive a Forest of Hands and Teeth button; 
  • 10 people will receive a line of magnetic poetry; 
  • The rest will receive bookmarks until they run out.  

The collection is available at Amazon (here), Barnes & Noble (here), and Kobo (here), and this sale is for a limited time!  So Happy Halloween, and a HUGE thanks to all of my readers for letting me write what I love: zombies 🙂

**Important Details**

  • Email to redeem the gift;
  • Please put “Happy Halloween!” in the subject line; 
  • Proof of purchase can include forwarding an order confirmation or receipt (making sure to delete any personal information); a screen shot of the purchase confirmation; or anything else you can think of to show you’ve bought it;
  • If you would like me to personalize the signed bookplate, please be sure to let me know who I should make it out to;
  • Make sure to put your mailing address in the email and if you have a preference for the extra gifts (first come first served!);
  • If you’re under 18, please make sure you have your parent or guardian’s permission to email me;
  • I’ll delete all emails once the gifts have been mailed next week so that I don’t retain the addresses; 
  • Open to international readers;
  • Any questions related to the rules, please ask on my Facebook page here here where I’ll try to answer them.
October 30th, 2013|