Monday, May 1, 2017

Congratulations to Kirsten!

Thanks to everyone who has been celebrating the announcement of Story Sparks with me!

I threw all the names into a hat, and drew one this morning, and Kirsten from my Facebook Author Page was the winner of Jeff Herman's new Guide to Publishers, Editors and Agents! Congratulations, Kirsten!

Didn't get a chance to enter? Not to worry, as the release date approaches, I will be offering more fun giveaways...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Exciting News!

I promised some exciting news, and I can finally share it:

New World Library (my publisher for FAST FICTION) will also be publishing my newest nonfiction book for writers: STORY SPARKS: FINDING YOUR BEST STORY IDEAS, AND TURNING THEM INTO COMPELLING FICTION!

This has been a few years in the writing. It will make a great companion book to FAST FICTION, and so I am thrilled that New World Library is interested in publishing it. There will be more to come, in terms of what sorts of things it will include, but for now I can tell you that it is being fast-tracked to be out this fall. Very exciting!

Anyone who has been hamster-wheeling a story idea for years or has hundreds of pages exploring various approaches on their hard drive knows there must be a better way. There is. Successful young adult novelist Denise Jaden shows exactly how to create the captivating stories that prevent dispiriting wasted time. Busting the “visitation from the muses” myth, she shows that inspiration is a skill that can be learned by understanding how story ideas work (or don’t), fertilizing the ground for fresh and sound ideas, and moving swiftly through stuck points. Practical and inspiring, Jaden’s approach celebrates the imaginative sparks that make innovations of all kinds possible while pinpointing the precise tools writers need to fan their unique creative flames.

And to help celebrate this exciting news, my generous publisher has offered a giveaway of a book that I'm sure any writer would love to have on their bookshelves:

Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents:
Who They Are, What They Want, How to Win Them Over
By Jeff Herman

Still the Best Guide for Getting Published - If you want to get published, read this book!

Comprehensive index lists dozens of subjects and categories to help you find the perfect publisher or agent.

Jeff Herman’s Guide unmasks nonsense, clears confusion, and unlocks secret doorways to success for new and veteran writers! This highly respected resource is used by publishing insiders everywhere and has been read by millions all over the world.

Jeff Herman’s Guide is the writer’s best friend. It reveals the names, interests, and contact information of thousands of agents and editors. It presents invaluable information about more than 350 publishers and imprints (including Canadian and university presses), lists independent book editors who can help you make your work more publisher-friendly, and helps you spot scams. Jeff Herman’s Guide unseals the truth about how to outsmart the gatekeepers, break through the barriers, and decipher the hidden codes to getting your book published.

Countless writers have achieved their highest aspirations by following Herman’s outside-the-box strategies. If you want to reach the top of your game and transform rejections into contracts, you need this book!

“When you get to the ‘finding the agent’ stage, check out Jeff Herman’s Guide. I found it very useful because it gives more background on agents. Keep in mind that publishing is very personality driven.”
— Emily Giffin, New York Times–bestselling author of First Comes Love

“I got my agent by using this guide!”
— Meg Cabot, New York Times–bestselling author of The Princess Diaries

“I highly recommend Jeff Herman’s Guide. It was the most helpful book I bought about how to get published.”
— Nicholas Sparks, New York Times–bestselling author of The Notebook

This contest is for a hard copy of this huge resource, and is open to anyone with a US or Canadian mailing address. Simply leave a comment below to be entered, or enter on my Facebook Fan Page. 

Even if you're not a writer, and not interested in this prize, I hope you'll raise a glass of virtual champagne with me :)

Friday, March 10, 2017

March Madness, Week 2 - How's Progress?

Have you kept up with your writing so far this month? Have you started something new, or are you plugging away at an older project, determined to get it finished this month? Or, like me, have you gotten a little distracted through the first ten days of March?

I started well, determined to do a little writing every day, whether I felt motivated for it or not. I knew I would be getting edits for a different project this month, but I wasn't sure exactly when. I have not received my edits yet, however, I did receive a heads up of some research I would need to do along with my edits, and also the (very tight) schedule for returning my edited manuscript. So all of this is to say that I HAVE been working, very hard in fact. But mostly on research and I did let my original March project wane a little.

The truth is, research makes me grumpy and creative writing is actually the only cure I've found for grumpiness (that or a glass of wine). This week I plan to get rid of the grumpy, and do a little creative writing on my March project Every. Single. Day. You heard me. It's in writing now.

How about you? How's your progress? What are the well-thought-out excuses you're ready to give me for why your progress has been less than expected?

Or...feel free to brag if you're right on track. The rest of us will look up to you in awe, and follow in your dedicated footsteps!

Onward, March writers...

Monday, February 27, 2017

March Madness, Anyone?

Is anyone else missing our yearly March Madness writing challenge? Unfortunately, I have not had time to organize anything official this year, but I am gearing up to do some serious writing through March.

If you're in the same boat, let me know in the comments. Let's keep each other company...I mean ACCOUNTABLE.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Promises, Promises...

I keep saying I'm going to blog more, but then I never seem to do it. Life just gets away on us sometimes, though, doesn't it? I'm sure you understand.

Anyway, I will stop making promises. The truth is, I haven't been as frantically busy as I have been in the past, but my life has taken on a sense of balance lately, and I haven't wanted to ruin that balance by thinking about all the things I *should* keep up with. But I do miss blathering on on my blog, and so here I am, back to say hi.

I have some news that I'm not quite allowed to share yet. I will be working on an upcoming post with a cool prize to celebrate my news, so stay tuned! Here's one little hint: This new bit of news is NONfiction news :)))

Other than that, I have been plugging away at my first series--a set of 7 contemporary YA/NA books, and I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I've also been busy doing background work on local TV and movies, and while I don't watch a lot of TV, I run into celebrities that I remember from my childhood quite often, which is fun.

I've been very zoned in on reading my own works in progress, as a series of seven books takes a while to read, but when I decide I need a break from that, I've been reading some great biographies lately. At the moment, I'm reading Anna Kendrick's SCRAPPY LITTLE NOBODY.

How about you? What are you reading? Anything you'd recommend?

Like I said, check back for my upcoming news/contest, or if you're not already, follow my Fan Page of Facebook or Sign Up For My Newsletter. Or if you're feeling super ambitious, do both!

Until next time, friends...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Five!

1. It's almost been THREE MONTHS since I've posted anything on here. I would not be surprised if I no longer have any readers, but if I do...HI! (*waves frantically*)

2. I have been quite busy working in the film industry this summer, mostly background acting work, but my son has also had some exciting specialty roles, including playing a monster (for which he needed over four hours of makeup application) and he starred in his first commercial!

3. I have recently gotten a continuity job on a show that films until December. The best part of this job? It has an indoor holding area which is safe and I can bring my computer! So I am anticipating getting lots of new writing done over the next three months.

4. In new book may remember my mentioning a new book coming out this year. Well, there has been lots of back and forth on dates, but I finally have the official word. AVALANCHE will be released from Leap Books on November 21st of this year! I'm very excited to share this book with the world.

5. And...what would a book be without an awesome cover? October 21st, Leap Books plans to share the cover for AVALANCHE! If you want to be a part of revealing this cover somewhere on the Internet, please let me know.

That's about all I can think of for the new news of my life. I'm working at getting back into the homeschooling saddle this week. Also, wishing a very happy birthday to my mom today, and a very happy book birthday to my good writer friend, Shari Green - whose fabulous new verse novel ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES is out today.

How about you? What have I missed this summer? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Creating Memorable Characters

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post, and even longer since I’ve written a writing craft post, so I figured it was about time! Today I was reflecting on what is involved in creating memorable characters, and I have a few thoughts on the subject.
First, I asked myself which characters I’ve read over the years are most memorable to me, and on thinking about why these characters are memorable, I noticed some interesting things.
1. Characters whose names I could easily remember automatically felt closer to my heart than characters I know I had loved but whose names I struggled for.
2. All my most memorable characters were quite extreme in nature, or larger than life in some way, or, if they were more average, they felt like friends.
3. Many characters who I thought would be memorable while reading them, are actually completely gone from my memory now. (I read over book descriptions to jog my memory).
4. To be honest, I struggled to come up with many characters that were memorable. In most cases, it was only the plots that were memorable.
So, starting at the top of the list, I spent a while considering character names. Why does remembering a character’s name make them automatically more memorable in every way to me? I decided it’s because they become more personal (and like in number 2, they often felt almost like friends – as though I had been on their journey with them). I never thought remembering a character’s name would be such a big deal. I read about a hundred books a year, and most of them I couldn’t tell you the first name of the main character after about a week. I’ve never considered it a problem, but now that I think about it, even though I enjoyed many of those books, I can’t tell you much about the characters or the plot (except in the case of very unusual plots).
So how do you make your characters’ names memorable was the next question I asked myself. Well...I went back and looked at a few of my favorites. Stephanie Perkins’s “Anna” was an easy one – her name is in the title Anna and the French Kiss. But if having Anna’s name in the title wasn’t enough, Anna’s best friend was constantly sending her bananas (while she sent her friend Bridget bridges), and if THAT wasn’t enough, her name was secured, at least for me, when the hot British boy with fantastic hair pronounced her name in a very special way.
But is a memorable name enough to make a character memorable? Well, Anna was also witty and had a fantastic voice, but I honestly don’t know if that would be enough to bring her, specifically, to mind, and not just the romance of the book in general if I didn’t know her name and feel like I’d been on her journey alongside her. And that, for me, came from knowing and remembering her name.
There are other ways of making character names memorable, of course, and I’ve always unthinkingly employed at least one small device to help readers remember each of my main characters. With Brie in Losing Faith, she talks about how her parents named her after a cheese because she’s the cheesy daughter. Loann in Never Enough breaks her name down into lo and ann – the low man on the totem pole, and Ann – the plain-jane name that she thinks suits her perfectly. In Foreign Exchange, the hot neighbor boy calls Jamie “James” which makes her think she’ll always be like a brother to him. And in A Christmas Kerril, of course Kerril is the title character.
Right now I’m reading a book called All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. While I don’t know that I’ll remember the female lead, I’m quite certain I will remember the male one – Theodore Finch – mainly because he often goes by his full name, or his last name, which is unusual, but also because he is larger than life with his struggles. But I guess only time will tell if he is a truly memorable character.
I considered why Katniss Everdeeen is so memorable. First, her sacrificial nature made her memorable to me. In a world where we are all out to look out for ourselves, it’s automatically noteworthy to see someone so selfless. And as for her name, I think the cute “Catnip” nickname definitely helped.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about character names here, and a few extreme qualities, but I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Who are some of your favorite characters, and what makes them memorable for you? Did you automatically remember their name when you thought of them? What triggered that memory for you?