Dec 30, 2012

Farewell 2012.

2012 was a strange year for me. Writing-wise, there was a lot of waiting (isn't there always?). ALL THAT GLOWS still has another year before it finds a snuggly shelf home, but that hardly means I was sitting on my butt all year. No, no. I've been hard at work, finishing the rough draft of Cutthroat novel and starting the rough draft of the sequel. With a few rounds of edits and short stories in between.

But there were a few unexpected surprises along the way. We bought a house. I got a new baby cousin and simultaneously become a godmother. My husband filmed a cross-country documentary. I got my nose pierced.

It's amazing how quickly a year seems to go, yet how much actually happens in that time.

There were some amazing things this year in regards to music and books and movies.

Some amazing books I devoured:

Some amazing musicians I discovered:

Jenny Dalton

Nick Drake

Kye Kye

I hung out with some amazing people:

Isn't my niece the cutest?!

So. 2013. What will you hold?

My goals are to get Cutthroat Novel into submission shape (I still maintain it's plotting to kill me). To plant a garden. To travel to Bolivia and convince my designer friends to create handbags for my sister-in-law's nonprofit. To explore a screenwriting class with my brother. To hang out with my cousins more. To get a puppy (I am slowly but surely wearing my husband down on that front).

And... hopefully... to publish my debut novel! (I say hopefully because it's scheduled for Winter 2014, which could be December 2013 OR January/February 2014)

What kinds of goals do you guys have for this next year?

Dec 21, 2012

winter wonderland (of glass!)

Yesterday I got to go to the Dallas Arboretum. It was chilly and cold and rather wintry (though seeing as it's almost Christmas I'll allow it), and I had to shove my hands into my pockets, but the trip was well worth it because of these:

Pieces of Chihuly glass! I'd actually never heard of Chihuly before this venture, and I was really surprised at how many people (including my editor!) messaged me and said, "Are those Chihuly pieces you're posting?"

What impressed me was the mass of his work; how elaborate they were. The sheer vision that went into crafting ever single, fragile breakable piece of these masterpieces. How every piece fit together just so.

There were pieces that looked like lilypads.

There were baubles in boats.

There were ones that caught the sun and sang it through colors.

 There were ones that looked like amethyst stalagmites. 

And ones that simply awed.

Just look at the detail! Can you imagine spending all those hours crafting each single curlyque?

It's times like these when I remember just how much art amazes me. Not just glasswork, but art in general. When I see what my friends can do with words, a paintbrush, a camera, a pair of ballet flats... how they take these tools and make them pure magic... it stuns me every time. 

Even when I read over a finished piece of mine, it's still hard to believe it came from me. That my conscious (well, mostly sub), wove all these hundreds and thousands of elements together to become something bigger than just a story. It's times like these when it's easy to put credence into Elizabeth Gilbert's theory about the creative genius. How it lives outside ourselves.

Also, in the spirit of the season, there was an entire collection of nativity scenes in the Arboretum! There were over 300 different scenes, from all around the world, made out of anything you could think of. Car parts. Corn husks. Cork. Cross-stitch.

My very favorite one was from Peru. Made out of an ammunition box. I now really want one for my own. (Guess I'll have to go to Peru first...)

The likelihood that I'll be posting back here before Christmas is rather low, so I bid you all farewell and wish you guys the best of holidays and times with loved ones!

Dec 19, 2012

the next big thing

This title sounds a tad pretentious doesn't it? I mean, I really, really hope ALL THAT GLOWS becomes the next big thing. But it's seems a bit heady to predict that. However, this is the name of the blog series that's been going around the interwebs. I've been tagged by the lovely Lisa Ann O'Kane and Matt Sinclair over at The Elephant's Bookshelf Press. So clearly, I had no choice but to bow to peer pressure. :)

1- What is the working title of your book?

The title is no longer working! Hooray! It's been known under several names (among them Godmother and Luminance Hour), but the final title for my debut novel is ALL THAT GLOWS.

2- Where did the idea come from for the book?

The seedling for his novel actually came from a prompt for an anthology submission. The anthology was looking for short stories that portrayed faerys in a "modern, sleek and sexy" way. That prompt got me thinking about the traditional Fairy Godmother and what it would look like for them to guard a modern day, partying prince. I jotted out the short story over a weekend and handed it to my coworker to read. When she finished it, she looked over at me and said, "Ryan, this is a novel. Not a short story." As soon as she said it I knew she was right, so I started writing.

3- What genre does your book fall under?

It's a heavy blend of paranormal romance and fantasy. 

4- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

You know, I actually haven't thought about this too much. Can I get back to you?

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a Faery is forced to guard the prince of England from assassins and paparazzi, she finds herself feeling more than she should for him. 

Or this one, which is more like a run-on sentence: In which a partying prince falls in love with a Kate Middletonesque fae, who has been protecting the British royal family for centuries, and who must make an impossible choice amidst a backdrop of a palace murder and paparazzi mayhem.

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am blessed and fortunate enough to call HarperTeen my publisher. *pinches skin* *still can't believe it*

7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Four months. (March 09 - June 09)

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Shiver. Beautiful Creatures. Daughter of Smoke and Bone. 

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book?

A mixture of many things: Traveling to England when I was young. An Encyclopedia on Faeries that my sister-in-law gave me one Christmas. Taking classes on Old English, Tolkien and J.K. Rowling when I was in college. The song "Saelic" by Helium Vola. Reading deliciously written love stories and wanting to craft my own.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

For the record, I started writing ALL THAT GLOWS long before Kate and Wills got engaged. But Kate Middleton's popularity didn't hurt in my search for an agent and publisher.

The book is coming out in Winter 2014! So keep an eye out! Or an ear, I'll probably be screaming about it all across the interwebs.

And since this is a blog hop and I'm supposed to tag people, here goes:

Wendy Higgins

Kathryn Rose

Wesley Kapp

Dec 12, 2012

the fall goodreads giveaway

So, the anthology my short story Hairline Cracks is in is giving away a free copy on Goodreads! So scoot on over there and add your name to the pot! There are plenty of great stories in there, that will give you chills and make you think about life... How it's worth fighting for.

And if you do read my short story, let me know what you think!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Fall by Matt Sinclair

The Fall

by Matt Sinclair

Giveaway ends January 01, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Dec 6, 2012

color and gloom

 Can you believe it's December already? Me neither! Time is ghosting by. As it always does.

Winter has always been my least favorite of the seasons. So dead and colorless. But I'm preparing by putting even more splashes of brightness around my house. We've joined the "paint-your-door-a-pretty-eye-catching-color" trend. I'm quite pleased with the shade of teal hubby and I settled on. 

Woodpecker is very happy with the shade of his door.
Also, one of my good friends just sent me a wonderfully bright paper-bird cutout from China. An artist cut this design out of tissue paper (which blows my mind). But I think they look really lovely against the yellow paper and orange frame.

Also: baker's twine and parcel paper. Who knew such simple items make for such fun gift-wrapping? The snowflakes are perhaps a bit more elaborate. I blame Pinterest. 

And while we're on the subject of crafty things: aren't these pinecone Christmas trees the cutest? I made them with my preschoolers today. All it takes is pinecones, spraypaint and pom-poms. And its super easy for little ones (as long as they're careful not to poke themselves.)

I've been hard at work on the sequel. It's very slowly (might I emphasize the very and the slowly) coming together into something that resembles a story. (Yay!) I'm definitely resigning myself to the fact that I am indeed a pantser. And not a plotter.

I tried to plot. I really did. But the characters were not cooperating.


I got this in the mail a few days ago:

*this is supposed to be my scary face...

It's the anthology I was telling you about a few weeks ago! The one with my short story in it!

Here's a quick teaser of said short story:

I'm sorry that I've now ruined Gushers for you forever. Probably KFC too.

Want more anyway? You can get it here (electronic or actual book-style).

the creative genius

One of my friends brought this TED talk to my attention about a week ago, and it really spoke to me. Elizabeth Gilbert really captures and conveys the artistic struggle and how to relieve a lot of the pressure that comes along with the job of making things.

If you're a writer or artist of any kind, I suggest giving it a watch!

Nov 26, 2012

one step forward. two steps back.

The title of this post is what it has felt like trying to get out the rough draft of my current WIP.

I am a word-count ho. This means that I measure a lot of my writing productivity on how many words I type out in a day, a week, a month, etc. Sometimes this is a good thing, because it forces me to write when I would rather slouch across the couch and watch TV. Other times it is bad.

How can writing lots of words be bad? You might ask. Isn't that your job?

Good point. And yes it is. But my job as an author isn't just writing out a bunch of words. It's writing out a bunch of good words that tie together into a cohesive and hopefully emotionally significant story.

Whenever I get too focused on words, I sometimes forget to stop and make sure they're good. I don't take the time I really need to go back and read what I wrote and reflect on where the story needs to go.

When I started out on Book 2 (ALL THAT GLOWS's sequel), I was determined to write straight through. I wouldn't take time to revise or rewrite. I would get the bulk of the writing out of the way and revise later.

This did not happen.

Around page 75 or so I realized that in order for me to figure out the end of the story, I needed to fix up the beginning (ie revise and figure out what the heck is going on). I tried to follow an outline. I really did. But I will always be a pantser (organic plot finder) when it comes down to it.

As of now, I have about 120 pages in my sequel word document. And 40 pages of scenes I've deleted. It's taken me about two months to work up to this point. I got really upset when I compared my speeds to writing the rough draft of ALL THAT GLOWS (which only took me about four months, and I was working full time). But then husband reminded me that I didn't go back and revise. So I'm guessing this only means good things. It's showing my growth as a writer, that I'm going back and finding my story at the very roots and growing it from there. Something I didn't do the first time around with ALL THAT GLOWS. Hopefully this will cut back the amount of revision I have to do post fact.


But right now I can't worry about that. I can only focus on making my words count. Each and every one of them.

Nov 23, 2012

Lucky 13s Vlog

Today over at the Lucky 13s I made a very detailed vlog about the first "novel" I ever wrote. In my dad's old tax ledgers. It's kind of hilarious, if I do say so myself. So give it a watch.

Happy Black Friday! Try not to get trampled!

Nov 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all find yourselves surrounded by love and warmth this holiday season.

This time of year always has a way of jerking things into perspective for me. I've found that--often--no matter what the circumstances of my life--I can always find something that's not perfect. Or not completely the way I would wish it to be.

I want things I don't have. We all do, I know, but I feel that sometimes it's easier for me to focus on what I don't have then on what I do. Thanksgiving is a great reminder to put things in their place. To show me how much I've been blessed.

I love my husband, my family, my job. I'm not hungry. I have a roof over my head. I live in the number one tourist destination in America. And heck, I get to write books for HarperCollins (ie. live my childhood dream job).

And if I'm not thankful about that... then... well... that's pretty pathetic. So let me start my writing thankfuls here:

I'm thankful for my agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin--who took a chance on ALL THAT GLOWS and rescued me like a drowning victim from the slushpile.

I'm thankful for my editor, Alyson Day--who also took a chance on Emrys and her story, and made my childhood dream of being published a reality.

I'm thankful for my critique partners, who have read my novels almost as much as me, and still don't want to throw them out of a window.

I'm thankful for the Lucky 13s, whose advice and support have helped keep me sane through the craziness that is pre-publication and sequel writing. *shudder*

I'm thankful for my husband, who has to put up with me and my craziness in pre-publication and sequel writing. And who loves me anyway.

I'm thankful for my parents, who taught me that anything is possible and that dreams are things to be chased, not laughed at. Who have supported me every step of the way.

I'm thankful for all of my writing teachers--Ms. Miles and Marjorie Wentworth and Bret Lott--for teaching me how to craft words and make them beautiful.

And I'm thankful for YOU, dear blog reader. Your comments and support make me feel much better about sending ALL THAT GLOWS into the wild next year. :)

Nov 20, 2012

in which i tell you what to do with that turkey carcass

Turkey day is almost here! It's one of my favorite parts of the year, the cusp of the holidays, when the air is crisp and the food is rich and I get to hang out with my family (I love them, I'm weird like that!). Also, I get a little break from the preschool, which is nice, and wedding season is pretty much over, which is even nicer! So I can focus purely on sequel writing.

It's been tough going so far, but I think I'm finally reaching a place in the manuscript where the story is starting to tie together and ends that looked loose are now beginning to twine (only took about 32,000+ words). We'll see if this feeling of general goodness lasts. Probably not. But I'll take it when I can.

On the house front I finally finished painting the daybed! Yay! It sits in the same room that the husband and I use for our office, so it's a little bit tempting to take a nap on.

It pretty much ended up the way I envisioned it: bright colors and a lovely, hand-crafted kantha quilt I found on Etsy (the most magical of websites). In addition to housing guests and taking naps, the bed has become a nice little reading nook for me.

As you can see I'm currently devouring Laini Taylor's Days of Blood and Starlight (ie trying not to cry whenever I read a sentence that is beautifully impossible. She has lot of those). It's one of those books that takes me back to the feeling I got when I was reading during childhood. There's something about them that draws me in. Makes me hungry for more, more, more. I've found that as I've grown older and become a more critical reader that books like these now seem rare. So when I find one that makes me turn pages long past my (admittedly early) bedtime, I must rejoice and shout it aloud to the world.

Well done, Laini.

Anyway, I also wanted to share with you guys a recipe for Turkey Soup!! Which is a great (and delicious) way to use every last remnant of that turkey carcass. My mom's been making it ever since I was a wee thing, and I've carried the tradition on into my own house.

Delicious Turkey Soup:

turkey bones                            2 ribs celery, chopped
4 qt. water                             1 c. rice (not cooked)

1 c. butter                             2 t. salt

1 c. flour                                      1/2 t. pepper

2 chopped onions                2 c. half n half OR 1 large can evaporated milk

3-4 carrots, sliced

Cook turkey in water using large pot, simmer for 1 hr. covered.  Pick meat off bones.  Measure broth and add water as needed to make 3 qt.  Heat butter in large  pot; add flour and cook over med heat to make light to med. colored roux, stirring often. Stir in veggies and cook another 10 min over med heat.  Slowly add broth (I use a whisk so it isn't lumpy);  add turkey, rice, salt & pepper;  bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 min.  Add milk and cook till heated through.

Also, note to self, when you decide to leave the leftover turkey meat outside for the stray cats to eat, you will wake up and find this in your yard instead.

Should've thought that one through.

Nov 12, 2012

yallfest. round 2.

So this weekend was YALLfest. And it was wonderful. And exhausting.

I had the same job as last year, which was taking care of the Green Room (ie. feeding the authors and making sure they have a nice place to relax between panels). I really loved being able to hang out in the same room as so many accomplished authors. The work of dragging a 35 pound coffee cambro and 10 pizza and 100 cans of soda up various flights of stairs was well worth being able to listen to their conversations and ask them for advice about the debut year.

One particular thing I enjoyed the most was listening to authors talk about writing books 2 and 3 in their series (probably because that's where I am in the process right now). Apparently it's just as hard for everyone else as it is for me. Even New York Times Bestsellers!

I also got to meet some online friends in person for the first time. Like Wendy Higgins, the author of Sweet Evil (which is up for the second round of the Goodreads Choice awards if you want to go vote for it!).

Wendy was even sweeter in person than she is online (and that's saying something). We had a bit of HarperTeen bonding time.

I also got to meet some of the Lucky 13s I've been able to bond with this year! Ashley Elston and Elle Cosimano and I got some dinner and drinks together and talked about the debut year.

By the end of the weekend I was utterly exhausted. The Starbucks barista even told me I looked the part when I returned the coffee cambro. But, just like last year, it was utterly worth it.

And if you were wondering, being a not-yet-published debut author in a room full of 29 New York Times Bestsellers feels a little bit like this:

I am only slightly kidding. :)

Nov 8, 2012

R&R: yankee style

About a week and a half ago the husband and I made a rare "just-for-fun" escape to the north. Our nation's great capital!! Washington DC. The trip was a bit poorly timed due to Hurricane Sandy, but we enjoyed our time up there all the same.  

We stayed with my critique partner, who lives in a wonderfully colorful neighborhood just a bike-ride away from all of the cool sights! I loved all of the row-houses and all of their character. There was also a really amazing coffee shop just around the corner where you could sit leisurely and enjoy cups of Counter Culture Coffee (the best!).

I have nothing but love for this place. If you're ever in DC you should check it out!! (They even have homemade Earl Gray Gin! I never got to try it, but I'm still incredibly intrigued.)
Our first day there we had pretty decent weather, so we decided to ride bikes and look at all of the monuments. 

We pretty much literally biked everywhere. Down the mall, over to Georgetown. We even pedaled all the way to Old Town Alexandria in Virginia! The Mt. Vernon biking trail is incredibly lovely and long.  I remember jogging on it in high school during the summers I stayed with my Grandma in Alexandria. It was just as good this time.

We took in the monuments and the fall colors. (Which we squealed and stared at like southern savages. You just don't get such amazing color down here in the south!)

Pretty leaves!

I took a picture of these berries because they were such strange colors. Does anyone know what kind they are?

And of course we had to take the obligatory "this-monument-would-make-a-great-hat" picture.

On Sunday we went to the National Cathedral and took in all of its very pretty stained glass and quirks. We spotted the Darth Vader Gargoyle and got an impromptu tour of the building by a very eager congregation member! It's amazing to me how close the architects and builders of this church came to imitating the old Gothic European style. But even with all of our modern machines and resources it took almost 100 years to build. I can't even IMAGINE how much work and dedication it took the medieval architects...


This scene reminds me of something from Beauty and the Beast!

Then the weather took a turn for the worse.

Sandy arrived! There was a lot of rain and wind and cold. But that didn't stop us from walking 6 blocks through the storm for Ethiopian food:

Husband was born and mostly raised in Ethiopia, so this food is close to his heart. We don't have any Ethiopian restaurants in Charleston, which was why we decided to walk through a hurricane for it. It was worth it.

So that was DC. A trip cut short by Sandy! Thankfully we weren't too inconvenienced by her. We even caught our flight back home on time, which was miraculous compared to most peoples' experiences. Best wishes to those still dealing with her aftermath!


Apparently this sort of behavior is frowned upon...

Nov 5, 2012

Candy. Zombies. YALLfest.

Hello, hello! And a happy Monday to you all!

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Halloween. I got to go Trick-or-Treating for the first time in years with my two and a half-year-old cousin. And I must say, I forgot how scary it can get for little, little kids. One of the porches we went to sported a mechanical scarecrow that pulled off its own head and laugh maniacally while its eyes glowed red. Which meant that I had to tote my cousin around on my hip the rest of the night. Poor guy.

Though I must say, I understand parent tax now. I might have snitched a thing or two out of this bucket.

Too be fair, that is a LOT of Reese's. ;)

So many things are happening this week! The whirlwind never seems to stop! It does seem fitting though that on the tail end of Halloween, my short story Hairline Cracks is being release in the anthology The Fall. There are scary, monstery things in the story. Plus some blood and guts. You can read it and a whole bunch of other cool stories by authors like Mindy McGinnis, Jean Oram and RC Lewis and many, many more HERE.

And, just in case you forgot what the cover looked like, here's another glimpse of the ominous awesomeness!

On a lighter and more pie-filled note: THIS WEEKEND IS YALLFEST! (I'm excited, can't you tell?)

You guys, last year was so much fun! There was pie and books and much celebration about all things young adult! And this year is going to be even better! There are 50 different authors coming in to share their thoughts on everything from spaceships and zombies to movie adaptations.

So if you're coming drop me a note and I'll keep an eye out for you! Last year I met a lot of faces I only knew from the online realm. And it was fabulous.

Oct 25, 2012

a portrait of insanity. i mean--revisions.

Two words have never felt so good. Seriously.

I know I'll be back to it in a bit, but for now, I'm celebrating the end of six very long weeks.

I've been through several rounds of revision already with so many different projects, but every time feels like the first. So I'm partly writing this road map to remind myself of the process.

Day 1: Edit letter arrives in your inbox. You're utterly excited to finally read it. About ten words into the letter your excitement starts to curdle. Die. Instead the panic starts to rise as you start reading all of the impossible things your agent/editor thinks need to change. Doesn't she know they're essential to the plot?! You talk on the phone with agent/editor and realize that they aren't as essential as you thought. You repeat the mantra writing is all about killing your darlings over and over again in your head to psych yourself up for the gargantuan task ahead.

Days 2 and 3: *commence utter panic, chocolate binge and denial of reality*

Day 4: Okay. You can do this. Breathe and repeat after me. You. Can. Do. This.

Day 5-Week 2: You start deleting scenes (between tears and more chocolates) and writing new ones. You have no idea if you're making it better or utterly destroy any semblance of bookness it had.

Week 3: You stop and reread through everything you've done (about 100 pages deleted/rewritten). Hey. It's not so bad. It could even be good. It might even be... *gasp* better? Could your agent/editor actually be right?

Week 4: You thought you would be done by now. But you're not. Your manuscript is starting to resemble a half-creature. More minotaur than centaur. But if it were a centaur, it would be the ones from Harry Potter and not those floofy pony creatures from Disney's Fantasia films. No. Your manuscript is gnarly. And it bites. And it might shoot poor unaware wizarding students if it had the chance.

Week 5: Your manuscript is looking better, but you, dear writer, have gone downhill. You've been living off coffee and whatever meals your poor husband decided to scrounge together for you. You've hit the wall. The point where even a few days off can't recharge your writing batteries. Week 5 is a beast.

But then... you reach Week 6.

Week 6: There's a light! A light at the end of the tunnel! You've just read through the reworked part of your manuscript (yet again) and lo and behold, it's actually a cohesive story! (It happens every time but it still feels like a miracle). Spurred on by this success, you work extra hard to cobble those last few scenes together. And before you can even start to second guess yourself you cram it into an email to your agent/editor and press SEND. After blinking at the screen in disbelief for several minutes you get up from your computer and look around at the chaos of your house. You walk straight to the kitchen and pour yourself a glass of wine.

And that, my friends, is what revision is like for me. And it sounds terrible, but I wouldn't trade this job for the world.

Oct 15, 2012

the busyness of life

Fall is busy.

Which makes Ryan a terrible blogger. The busyness also addles her brain a bit, which is why she's now referring to herself in the third person. Alas.

Which I will now stop doing because it requires too much brain power for my addled brain.

Because I'm insane and I really want to take big and expensive trips all around the world, I have not one, but two other jobs I maintain aside from writing big, fat books. I also try to have a semblance of a social life. And settle in to my new house. So when revisions roll around combined with all of these other things, I have a minor panic attack and then sacrifice my blog posts as a result. So I'm sorry. You have fallen victim to my insane schedule.

BUT I'm starting to see the light at the end of the revision tunnel, which is always a good thing. (Generally it means I have about a week or two left in the process.) 

To destress I've been painting furniture. It helps. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the paint fumes. Or the very bright colors. 

The colors go into my grand scheme to give my new house pops of cheer and bright. (Yay!)

I also had a friend show up today to help me paint:

He meandered into my yard and helped by bounding around, wagging his tail and looking generally cute until his actual owners arrived and took him away. I have a feeling I'll see him again, since I've seen this particular pup roaming the streets of our neighborhood before. He must be a jailbreaker.

Other than paint I've been on the road a bit, going to weddings as both a photographer and a guest. While in Richmond I stopped here:

And bought a book just because I loved its cover. A good enough reason, right?

I've also been enjoying the colors of fall. Leaves. All things pumpkin. Cool air. I LOVE this time of year.

What has everyone else been up to? Is fall just as busy for you guys?

Oct 3, 2012

anthology news

I'm quite please to announce that I have a short story coming out at the end of October in an apocalypse anthology entitled The Fall. I'm in good company too. Fellow Lucky 13er Mindy McGinnis has a story coming out in it as well. 

My story, Hairline Cracks, has more than a few zombies. And some ghosts.

And isn't the cover cool and doomsy? It seems like the perfect place for a wilderness hideout in case of imminent world endings.

Which gets me thinking. What would YOU do in a world-ending scenario? Let's say, for example, that there really was a zombie apocalypse. What's your plan of action?

I live in a port city... so I would probably head for the water/the marina. Or take my kayak and paddle out to one of the remote barrier islands and live off of cactus shoots. Hm... I'll have to think more about this.