Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Four

1. Wow, I blogged FIVE times this week! I can't promise this will be a regular thing, but I do hope so, because it kind of gave me a bit of a feeling of "normal" back. Which I've been looking for for a long time.

2. I learned a few interesting things from yesterday's post  (thanks to all who weighed in!) about being a Sprint Writer or a Marathon Writer. First off, in a way, I have been a Sprint Writer for several years, really, because I participate in NaNo. I hadn't thought about that! Also, sprinting doesn't mean I have to take long periods of hiatus. That's the part of it that I've struggled with the most. During long breaks I really lose my mojo. Having ambitious goals really does work for me, though, so I think I'm re-categorizing myself as a marathoner who sprints from time to time.

3. I still can't show you my cover for NEVER ENOUGH (sad face) but I do have a copy of it, sans the tagline, and so I ordered some cool new swag this week. If you're into passing some goodies around for me to help get people excited for my next book, email me your mailing address and I'll pop some into the mail for you when they arrive. Also, with my cover reveal (which truly should be very, very soon!) I will have a special contest and some more deets about how you might get your hands on an early copy. It's coming...

4. Apparently my first pass pages for NEVER ENOUGH will be done by the end of the week (which is, like, today!) Didn't I JUST finish copyedits? This seems really soon, but I'm excited! First pass pages are the first time I get to see the interiors of the book the way they will look in their printed form. It was one of my most exciting times for LOSING FAITH, one of the parts that really made it feel real to me (and also, have you seen the cool little butterflies they added on the chapter heading pages??) This stage also comes with it's share of anxiety of course. This will possibly be the last time I see my book before it's, well, a book. Last chance for changes and all that. I'm not going to talk about it anymore for fear of heart palpitations!

5. I have one more thing to ask before I go (Friday Five again!) I'm thrilled to be part of The Contemps again this year. Our big objective is to spotlight up and coming contemporary YA. Last year, as part of The Tenners and Class of 2k10, I was really up on what would be coming out later in the year. This year I'm feeling out of the loop. So if you have suggestions for me...YA Contemporary that is releasing this fall or next year that you think sounds really awesome...I'd love to hear about it!



Happy weekend, everybody!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sprint Writer vs. Marathon Writer

When it comes to physical training, I'm a big believer in the sprint over the marathon. Sprinting increases muscle mass and is not as hard on your joints. Besides, look at the body of a marathoner vs a sprinter!



But when it comes to writing, I've always been a marathoner. In it for the long haul, taking a little bit at a time, plodding along every day whether I've felt like it or not. I enjoyed the process, and even when I had a less than stellar writing day, I always figured my ideas were just brewing and my writing would be better the next day (which it usually was). I know many sprint writers--writers that take months off at a stretch and then come back with lots of time and energy and zeal for their projects, but that has never been me.

In this last season of life, though, I've transitioned into more of a sprint writer. I could say that I've "had to," but I believe we always have choices. To be honest, I don't like it. I don't like myself as a writer this way. I feel like the people who always make excuses of why they aren't getting to the gym. Always looking to "the next big break in their lives" when they'll have time for it. And besides that, my brain just works better as a marathoner. If I have my story in my head every day, even if I only get a few hundred words down on it, at least it's still brewing. At least my mind has opportunities to find solutions to literary problems. When I come back to another "sprint" of writing, I feel so much pressure to be writing while I have this time I've set aside that I don't feel like I have the space to sit back and ponder. I write through things because I have to, but to me they feel mediocre. And worse, I don't expect more from myself the next day.

Are you a marathon or a sprint writer? I'd be interested to hear if you're a sprint writer, why it works for you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Writing History Is Cool - A Guest Post by @Elle_Strauss

As I mentioned on Monday, my good friend Elle Strauss is releasing her first novel this week. As part of her blog tour for CLOCKWISE, she has stopped by with a guest post on writing historical fiction. Don't forget to comment on this post to be entered to win one of her fab blog tour prizes!





I suppose it's fair to say that the older I got the more interested in history I became. It's the ultimate study in human nature, how man/womankind responds to stressful, unpleasant or unusual situations and circumstances. I think this is why there is such a huge fascination with WW2. How could human beings behave that way? Some to become monsters with the desire for ethnic cleansing, and others prompted to push science to its limits by splitting the atom.

Recent history and ancient history are both fascinating to me and as a writer, delving into historical aspects for research is more than just fact finding. It's about discovering the heart of our characters in the midst. Because as much as some things change over time, especially in the areas of information and technology, the basic wants and needs of people do not. No matter how far back you search, men and women have looked for meaning and purpose in life. They've struggled with greed and lust, anger, betrayal, the desire to succeed and to be loved.

Writing historical fiction has caused me to be a continuous student. I've studied in depth subjects like ancient Rome, World War 2 and Hitler Youth. Writing time travel allows me to mix contemporary characters with my love of history. For CLOCKWISE I studied up on the civil war and another era I can't say (spoiler alert). I'm working on a companion book that's taking me into the 1950's.

It's all very interesting and exciting stuff.

How about you? Do you enjoy reading historically based fiction?

Thanks for having me guest blog today, Denise!

Elle Strauss writes time travel and merfolk chic-lit, light SF and historical YA fiction. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, hanging out with friends and family, and sometimes traveling. She has one husband, four kids and two tabby cats. To ward off writer's butt she does a bit of hiking, biking and yoga.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gearing up for #NaNo

It's September. Practically the end of September. For me, this is very late to start thinking about NaNoWriMo, but that's just the way things have gone this year.

I thought I'd share a bit of my process of preparation for those of you who may be thinking of getting involved with NaNoWriMo this year.

For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a time where hundreds of thousands of writers cheer each other on to write a novel in a month. My first attempt at this was in 2007, and you can now see that book on the bookstore shelves.

I wrote the first draft of Losing Faith in 21 days, but it took me almost another year to revise the book, find and agent, and then sell it to Simon & Schuster. And even that year doesn't fully cover the time I spent on it. I believe I started brainstorming that book during the summer prior to NaNo. By the time NaNo rolled around, I had a pretty good idea of what the book was going to be about.

My aim is always to start with a logline - or a one-line pitch for the book. For Losing Faith, the original logline was probably something like this: A rebellious teen girl finds out dark secrets about her older perfect religious sister after her death.

Not terribly eloquent, but I started talking to friends about it, and I got the ooh/aahhh response I was looking for. Even more so when I added the word "cult" to the logline.

From there, I worked at developing a fairly thorough outline of where I expected the book to start and where I expected it to go. You see, writing a book in a month is not the hard part. At least not for me. Coming up with the ideas AND writing the book in a month - now that would be hard!

My idea/advice is to not start November 1st with a blank page. At least come up with your idea. And then find out what kind of a reaction you get from it. You'll go into November with more confidence to boot.

Through the next month, I'll be blogging about my own process, plus offering a few tips and tricks to get you ready and excited for NaNo. Are you planning to NaNo this year? Have you done it before? How do YOU plan to prepare?


Monday, September 26, 2011

CLOCKWISE! And a #Contest including LOSING FAITH!

I'm so excited for my friend, Elle Strauss, whose debut novel is out this week!



“A teen time traveler accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward.”

CLOCKWISE is launching electronically this week and it’s only 2.99 on Amazon , £2.17 on Amazon.co.uk! To celebrate, Elle is giving away five debut books by authors that you can meet on her blog tour which is happening now.

LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden
THE CLEARING by Anne Riley
THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL by Heather McCorkle
PERILOUS by Tamara Hart Heiner
THE HATING GAME by Talli Roland

How to win? Sign up for Elle’s newsletter to enter. For extra entries just comment on any blog in the tour. The more blogs you visit and comment on the more chances you have to win. 

Five books, five days, five winners!

And Elle will be back here this Wednesday as part of her blog tour, so make sure to stop back here for an extra entry! (And let me just say that $2.99 makes it pretty darn easy to support this debut author - click on the link above!)

Congratulations, Elle!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Four

1. I forgot to mention it here, but I was blogging over at The Contemps this week. Our new plan for 2011-2012 is to spotlight new contemporary YA fiction. My spotlight post was for Ellen Hopkins's latest verse novel PERFECT. I also listed a few recommendations of verse novels, but if you have more, I'd love to hear them!

2. Besides out spotlight posts, we hope to be a resource for new releasing contemporary YA on the web. Lisa Schroeder has put a lot of effort into this calendar of upcoming releases. If you're looking for some new contemporary reads, this is the place to check.

3. I haven't been around the social media front for the past few weeks because I've been using every last ounce of my energy re-building our deck. It's been on it's last legs for a while, but we knew it wouldn't last the upcoming winter (or probably even the fall), so my whole extended family got involved and we got it re-built and recovered just in time for the rain!


4. And there's one more thing that's been keeping me busy. I finally bought an e-reader! I had a very hard time deciding, but since my birthday was in July and this was supposed to be my present, I thought I should really get on it. I spent many hours agonizing over the pros and cons of each unit, but finally settled on this one for now:



If you know anything about e-readers, you may be confused, so let me explain. I borrowed my brother's Kobo case while I'm waiting for my case that's on order. I also am using the sticky piece of plastic that came with it for a screen protector until the real one comes. But it is a Kindle - one of the ones that has ads (which aren't bothersome, btw) and only cost $114!

Besides the low price, I decided on this one for a few reasons: It's super-easy to email my own writing to my Kindle and make notes, or highlight as I'm reading. Also, it has the text-to-speech option, and since I'm on the road a lot, I'm sure I will use that a lot. Yes, it's a robotic voice, but especially for my own writing/outlines/etc. I'm okay with that. Hey, it's the closest thing I have to my own audiobook at the moment!

Also, as of yesterday, I can get library books on my Kindle. The only thing I'm missing is not being able to read some epub files, but for the price, this is a great starter e-reader for me.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

GCC Presents “Bridge” in the anthology ENTHRALLED by Jeri Smith-Ready

I'm terribly excited to welcome one of my Class of 2k10 friends back to the blog, Jeri Smith-Ready! Jeri is celebrating the release of the anthology ENTHRALLED, which came out September 18th. Jeri also dropped by for a quick interview (below) and gives The Best Author Advice Ever!


ABOUT THE BOOK

ENTHRALLED: PARANORMAL DIVERSION, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

This collection of original paranormal YA short stories grew out of the 2010 Smart Chicks Kick It Tour, a multiauthor, multicity, author-organized tour of the US and Canada.  With it, these 16 authors hoped to bring a little taste of the Smart Chicks experience to readers everywhere.

Contributors to ENTHRALLED:

Claudia Gray
Carrie Ryan
Margaret Stohl
Kami Garcia
Jackson Pearce
Rachel Vincent
Melissa Marr
Kelley Armstrong
Sarah Rees Brennan
Jeri Smith-Ready
Kimberly Derting
Ally Condie
Jessica Verday
Mary E. Pearson
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Rachel Caine

ABOUT THE STORY “BRIDGE”


In the world of the SHADE novels, everyone seventeen and under can see and hear ghosts, but no one else can.  So when Logan Keeley dies and his eighteen-year-old brother Mickey blames himself, they can’t ease each other’s pain or reconcile their rage.  Over the course of SHADE and SHIFT, Mickey sinks into a near-suicidal depression over Logan’s death. 

“Bridge” is the story, told in free verse, of how two brothers, with the help of a stranger, forge the chasm between them to find a lasting peace.

REVIEWS

“A solid collection of stories...Sarah Rees Brennan's ‘Let's Get This Undead Show on the Road’ follows a vampire in a boy-band and stands out with its perfect blend of snark and sincerity. It's followed in a one-two punch by Jeri Smith-Ready's intense and earnest ‘Bridge.’...This collection is ideal as a sampler tray for paranormal readers looking to pick up new authors to follow or to further explore the fictional worlds they already know. —Kirkus Reviews

A standout among the many paranormal-themed anthologies. -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (Recommended review)

Buy links:

Constellation Books (signed by Jeri): http://www.constellationbooks.com/book/v/9780062015785

B&N: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Enthralled/Melissa-Marr/e/9780062015785

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062015788/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=jerismithread-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=0062015788

On 12:01am eastern time, Tuesday September 20, the lyrics to a song Logan wrote for Aura (mentioned in SHADE) will be posted here: http://blog.jerismithready.com/2011/09/lyrics-to-logans-song-forever.html


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Smith-Ready has been writing fiction since the night she had her first double espresso. Her nine published books include two series for adults and the SHADE trilogy for teens, about a world of ghosts only the young can see, which concludes May 2012 with SHINE.  Like many of her characters, Jeri enjoys music, movies, and staying up very, very late.  Visit her at www.jerismithready.com, or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/JeriSmithready) or Twitter (http://twitter.com/jsmithready), where she spends way too much time.  Logan himself can be found on Twitter @keeley_logan, as can his rival/”brother-in-pulp,” Zachary Moore (@moore_zachary).  The boys love to chat with each other and with their real-life fans.







THE INTERVIEW:

1. Tell me about your story in seven words or less.
Ghosts, music, brothers, forgiveness, redemption, free verse.

2. Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours
in your story and why?
I love Logan’s sister Siobhan.  She just is who she is and never tries to be anything else.  I would love to be so comfortable in my skin.

3. What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Once you submit a book for publication, get to work on the next one—and NOT a sequel to the one you just let go.  For several reasons:

1. It helps you distance yourself emotionally from the book you submitted.  If it gets rejected, it’ll hurt less, and if it’s accepted, you’ll be able to revise it with a clearer head.
2. If the editor likes your writing in general but for can’t or won’t buy that particular  manuscript, they might ask, “What else do you have?”  You should have an answer ready, other than “Um, nothing,” or  “Um, I have two sequels to that book you don’t want.”
3. Most important, whenever you tackle a new world or set of characters, your storytelling will take a quantum leap in strength and quality.


4. What did you write when you were a teen? Did you journal? Write poetry? Write overly literary or emotional stories? Or avoid writing altogether?
I pretty much just wrote for class assignments, but I was very good at fit.  I didn’t decide I wanted to be a writer until I was in my twenties.

5. What's the last book you read that you really loved?
I just finished Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER trilogy.  So many tears! I’m a sucker for any writing that truly understands music and the power it has.

I also just read an ARC for INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows, a unique fantasy also infused with music.  It blew me away on every level, mind, heart and soul.  That one comes out on January 31.


Thanks for stopping by, Jeri, and all the best with ENTHRALLED and your SHADE series!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

GCC Presents Megan Kelley Hall and DEAR BULLY!



I'm excited to spotlight a book with a much-needed theme this week. DEAR BULLY releases this month, and below I have some more thoughts from one of the collaborators, Megan Kelley Hall. The other day, someone on Twitter suggested that people pick up a copy of this and donate it to their local middle/high school. I think that's a great idea. Nobody likes to feel alone.

THOUGHTS ON DEAR BULLY
WHY THEY DID IT

Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones formed the group YAAAB (Young Adult Authors Against Bullying) in April 2010 when they both coincidentally blogged about the Phoebe Prince case on the same day. Megan reached out to Carrie expressing her frustration with this case and the fact that bullying that seemed to be growing at a ridiculously fast rate. As a Massachusetts resident and having already spoken about bullying in schools, Megan was horrified after hearing about the bullying that took place in the Phoebe Prince case. While writing her books, SISTERS OF MISERY and THE LOST SISTER, she had to dig deep to make “mean girls as evil as she possibly could. When she heard about all the bullying and bullycide stories in the news, she felt like the bullies had jumped off the pages of her book and into real life. She was also disheartened by the numerous times she’d done book signings and would say to readers, “I hope you never meet girls as mean as the ones in my book.” Shockingly, they almost always said, “We already have.” Carrie Jones was also moved to do something, as she was the target of bullying as a young child due to a speech impediment. Together, they felt that they owed it to teen readers to discourage bullying -- to make it "uncool." Megan Kelley Hall started by creating a Facebook page that kicked off an entire "movement" to end bullying.  This was the day that Megan, Carrie and other authors decided to use their platform as Young Adult authors to actually facilitate change and to be a voice for those kids who cannot speak out or are too afraid to be heard.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Right away, a large number of authors jumped on board of this cause -- wanting to be involved in any way possible. The Facebook group jumped from 5 to 1500 members in one weekend and is now closing in on nearly 5,000 members. Carrie and Megan were thrilled when HarperTeen offered to put all of the stories into an anthology. The thought of having 70 authors – well-known, highly successful writers – sharing their personal bullying stories with their fans was something beyond what they had ever hoped for.

The stories in DEAR BULLY come from all angles: from the point of view of the victim, the mother, the friend, the sibling, the classmate – even a few from the actual bully. Some of the stories are light-hearted, while others are raw and emotional.  All of them drive home the point that bullying is something that almost everyone has experienced. And while that is a sad fact, they want to prove that it's not a rite of passage. It doesn't make you stronger, wiser, or better. But it is something that can be overcome, something that can be changed, something that is relatable, and something that one should never be ashamed of. Through these stories, the authors want to show that they understand what teens are going through today. It is important to encourage bystanders to speak up and make bullying unacceptable. Parents and adults must get involved. Bullying is something that people no longer have to endure--at least, not by themselves.

Though quite a lofty mission, the goal of DEAR BULLY is to help just one person get through a difficult time, and hopefully make bullying a thing of the past.

Don't forget to join the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dearbully, visit the website at www.dearbully.com, or follow DEAR BULLY on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dearbully.

IN THE NEWS:
“FIGHT BACK WITH WORDS. Better Homes & Gardens recommends DEAR BULLY: Remind youngsters heading back to school that getting picked on is tough—but that words can also heal as much as they can hurt, as one anthology proves.”  – Better Homes & Gardens
“This anthology of personal essays provides empathetic and heartfelt stories from each corner of the schoolyard: the bullied, the bystander and the bully himself are all represented. Their words will be a welcome palliative or a wise pre-emptive defense against the trials of adolescent social dynamics.”           --New York Times

“Two of them, both authors of novels for young adults (Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones), have drawn on the power of the written word to focus attention on the problem and offer solace to the bullied.” – --The Boston Globe

“You’ll love it if… You know someone (or are someone) who’s ever been involved in any type of bullying incident. There’s something in it for everyone, on all sides of the spectrum. You’ll love it even more if you can find a story that inspires you to help someone else.” – Seventeen.com
“With authority often turning a blind eye and cyber-bullying rampant, this timely collection is an excellent resource, especially for group discussion, and the appended, annotated list of websites and further reading extends its usefulness.” – Booklist

“Powerful…All of these stories feel authentic and honest, and readers will find a story or a person to identify with, to look to for comfort or guidance.” School Library Journal

“Bottom line is this anthology is a terrific tool for the counselor who can customize the entries to the needs of the victimized student.”  -- Harriet Klausner

ON BLOGS
“This should be required reading of ALL young girls (not to mention some adults)….Dear Bully is for everyone who has grown up in this culture where bullying takes place every day, not just in the schools, but in our streets, in our homes, our place of work (and globally).Dear Bully unveils the truth of who we are as a community of people, and it's not pretty.”  – New Pages Blog
“This is why I think this book is brilliant: Much like It Get's Better, this is a situation where one generation is reaching back to support the other... When you share your story you are shining a light. You never know who is at sea and relying on that light to get them home.” – Miss New York, Kaitlin Monte “Life Under the Crown” blog

“Dear Bully is a novel that needs to be on the shelves of every school library, and in every classroom. I hope it makes its way to the hands of the bullied and the bullies.” –The Crazy Bookworm Blog

“You Can't Protect Your Kid From Bullies Until You've Done This I was about halfway through Dear Bully, a new book of essays from 70 big name teen lit authors (for my fellow YA fans, I'm talking the likes of Megan McCafferty, Alyson Noel, R.L. Stine, etc.) when it hit me. These were all grown-ups talking about some of the worst days of childhood. And almost none had kind words to say about adults.” – Jeanne Sagar, The Stir and Yahoo Shine

“70 poignant essays that will make your tear and/or cheer. There is literally something in this book for everyone. I cried, I laughed, I wanted to write a letter to my Congressman, but most of all…I learned a few things. Bullying doesn’t take one form and it can occur at any age. This is must have for every library, teacher, and anyone who owns a shelf…or a table. Be a hero and buy this book for someone who is struggling.” –I Read Banned Books Blog

“I wish there had been a Dear Bully book 14 years ago.” --Lost in the Library Blog

“I personally think that this book should be required reading for all kids in the 7th grade. I’d even be so bold as to say a compilation for younger kids should be written as well.”  --Confessions of a Real Librarian Blog

GOODREADS REVIEWS
“This collection is so important and it couldn't come at a better time. This book should be in every administrator's office (their predecessor's failing to address this issue is a common thread woven through the experiences shaed), every media specialist's office, every counselor's office, and in the classroom libraries of every teacher works with these students who stories have not been told. . .yet. Here is the catalyst for discussion. Here are the authors saying, "It happened to me too. . .tell me your story." --Paul Hankins

“EVERY ADULT who works with tweens and teens should read this!” - Sandy

“Once I get the library's budget, this is going to be top of the list - and I'm buying two copies. I want to have one copy on the professional shelf for the teachers to look at and one on the shelf for the students to take out.” - Sarah


“This is a valuable look at how bullying shapes the lives of both the bullies and the bullied.” - Sarah

“Absolutely fantastic. Heart-wrenching and a reality check for anyone believing that this doesn't happen. I'm recommending this to every librarian I know to put this on the shelf.” - Maya

“What a beautiful, amazing, honest, important book. Five stars isn't near enough to show my love for Dear Bully. I'll be donating my copy to my old junior high.” - Colleen

“I knew I would enjoy this book, I just didn't think it would impact me as much as it did. I wish this could be in every middle and high school in the country.” - Stephanie

“I wish I could individually hug everyone who has ever been bullied. Seeing as how that mission is too tragically expansive to take on, I will settle for shouting, "Bravo!" to all the authors to contributed, and to HarperTeen for publishing this anthology. "Encore!" – Gabrielle Carolina

“Amazing anthology of stories about bullying (victimization, perpetration, being a bystander). I mean, what can I say? This collection moved me beyond words. Teachers, parents, and librarians NEED to share this book with their teens. Core title for all teen/ya collections.” - Lalitha

“It's another stark reminder that kids can't do this on their own. They need our help. Thank you to all 70 of these authors and Megan and Carrie for helping me not only set to rest my own past but to chart a path for my future as a mother.”  – Jeanne Sagar, Goodreads

“These writers have taken a stand. It's time for all of us to do so as well.” - Jackie

Friday, September 2, 2011

Copyedits!

My copyedits arrived this week and I'm super-busy trying to get them completed. My deadline to have them back in NY is September 12th.

Copyedits really don't take long, at least mine haven't. But there is a difference this time compared to last time. Last time, my editor told me to just pay attention to the copyeditor's markings and not bother to re-read the whole thing until my first pass pages came.

For this book I have a different editor, and she has told me that I should make any changes I want during copyedits, as they prefer to get most of the changes done at this stage. So I am feeling a bit panicked, like this is my last chance to make any significant changes.

As per usual, I've noticed I have very little understanding of how and when to use a comma. Some other things I haven't been too skilled at with this manuscript: hyphenating words that don't need hyphens, repeating words, and not putting enough breaks in the text.

Otherwise, it's very similar to my last experience with copyedits, so I thought I'd share a video I made about it last year, for those who are interested.



Happy weekend to you all!