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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year 2012 Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Happy New Year 2012 Giveaway Hop.  Thanks to Babs Book Bistro for Co-hosting.

This Hop Start on Friday, December 30th and runs through January 3rd. 

Rather than offering one or two books that you may or may not want for a giveaway, I've opened up an entire bookshelf for your choosing! I've tried to include lots of variety, so there's something for everyone here. All you have to do is pick your top three choices (each person will only win one, but I'll try to get you your top choice)!

In case you can't see them well enough, the books to choose from:
I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman
WEST OF HERE by Jonathan Evison
DESIGNATED FAT GIRL by Jennifer Joyner
JULIET by Anne Fortier
THE DIVAS INDIA by Victoria Christopher Murray
THE DIVAS DIAMOND by Victoria Christopher Murray
I LIKE IT LIKE THAT by Cecily von Ziegesar
SIENNA SUMMER by Ann Chandler
PUCKER UP by Rhonda Stapleton
JUNGLE CROSSING by Sydney Salter
HUSH by Eishes Chayil
SWOON by Nina Malkin
FURY by Elizabeth Miles

Some are gently used, some are advance copies, and a few are even signed. This contest is open to anyone with a US mailing address. I'll give away one book from my shelf for every fifty entries I receive, so the more people you get to enter, the more books I will give away!

Fill out the following form to enter:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My 2011 Reading List

Each year I try to tally up the books I've read during the course of the year, just to keep track and share with anyone who's interested. This year was a hard year for me personally, and as you can see by my extensive list, I must have felt the need to lose myself a little in books.

These are listed pretty much in the order I read them. Believe it or not, I am not a fast reader. I usually try to whittle down to my top ten or so, but this year I'm having such a difficult time with it! There were SO MANY GOOD BOOKS. I hope to be back in the next day or two with some favorites, though probably more than ten.

A couple of these I have listed twice because, well, I read them twice this year. And at the time of writing this, there are still three books near the end I haven't finished, but I'm close enough to list them.

The List! Are any of your favorites on here? If not, what are some of your favorite books you read this year?

Title                                         Author

1. The Freak Observer            Blythe Woolston
2. The Education of Hailey Kendrick    Eileen Cook
3. Dirty Little Secrets            C.J. Omololu
4. The Lighter Side of Life and Death    C.K. Kelly Martin
5. Twenty Boy Summer            Sarah Ockler
6. Extraordinary                Nancy Werlin
7. Party                    Tom Leveen
8. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List        Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
9. Savvy                    Ingrid Law
10. Freaksville                 Kitty Keswick
11. The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl     Barry Lyga
12. Personal Demons             Lisa Desrochers
13. Guyaholic                 Carolyn Mackler
14. Revolution                Jennifer Donnelly
15. Scumble                    Ingrid Law
16. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner     Stephenie Meyer
17. Vegan, Virgin, Valentine         Carolyn Mackler
18. That Summer                Sarah Dessen
19. Good Girls                Laura Ruby
20. Beautiful                Amy Reed
21. Scarlett Fever                 Maureen Johnson
22. Days of Little Texas            R.A. Nelson
23. Fall for Anything            Courtney Summers
24. Matched                 Ally Condie
25. Bleeding Violet             Dia Reeves
26. Pretty Little Liars             Sara Shepard
27. Mockingjay                 Suzanne Collins
28. Sorta Like a Rock Star            Matthew Quick
29. The Secret Year                Jennifer R.  Hubbard
30. Girl, Stolen                April Henry
31. Invincible Summer            Hannah Moskowitz
32. A Girl Named Mister            Nikki Grimes
33. The Dark and Hollow Places         Carrie Ryan
34. I Know It's Over            C.K. Kelly Martin
35. Across the Universe             Beth Revis
36. Where the Red Fern Grows        Wilson Rawls
37. Please Ignore Vera Dietz        A.S. King
38. The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June        Robin Benway
39. Angel's Choice                Lauren Baratz-Logsted
40. Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer        John Grisham
41. Between Here and Forever        Elizabeth Scott
42. The Summer of Firsts and Lasts        Terra Elan McVoy
43. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks    E. Lockhart
44. Where She Went                 Gayle Forman
45. Chasing Brooklyn             Lisa Schroeder
46. Will Grayson, Will Grayson        John Green
47. Pretty Things                 Sarra Manning
48. Crank                     Ellen  Hopkins
49. Swoon                     Nina Malkin
50. Restoring Harmony            Joelle Anthony
51. Five Flavors of Dumb            Antony John
52. Imaginary Girls                Nova Ren Suma
53. Drawing Conclusions             Donna Leon
54. Inconvenient                Margie Gelbwasser
55. Her and Me and You            Lauren Strasnick
56. Divergent                 Veronica Roth
57. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour        Morgan Matson
58. What Happened to Goodbye        Sarah Dessen
59. Fixing Delilah                Sarah Ockler
60. Save the Cat!                Blake Snyder
61. Jumping Off Swings            Jo Knowles
62. I'm Not Her                Janet Gurtler
63. Take Me There                Carolee Dean
64. Stolen: A Letter to My Captor        Lucy Christopher
65. Ballads of Suburbia            Stephanie Kuehnert
66. Hold Still                Nina LaCour
67. Down River                John Hart
68. You Are Not Here            Samantha Schutz
69. If I Tell                Janet Gurtler
70. Cryer's Cross                Lisa McMann
71. Bumped                     Megan McCafferty
72. Perfect                 Ellen  Hopkins
73. Like Mandarin                Kirsten Hubbard
74. Moonglass                Jessi Kirby
75. Lola and the Boy Next Door        Stephanie Perkins
76. The Replacement                Brenna Yovanoff
77. Burned                     Ellen  Hopkins
78. How to Save a Life            Sara Zarr
79. Virtuosity                Jessica Martinez
80. Anne of Green Gables             L.M. Montgomery
81. Illusions                 Aprilynne Pike
82. Don't Breathe a Word            Holly Cupala
83. Impulse                 Ellen  Hopkins
84. Unraveling Isobel            Eileen Cook
85. Amplified                Tara Kelly
86. Saving June                Hannah Harrington
87. Clean                    Amy Reed
88. Past Perfect                 Leila Sales
89. Anna and the French Kiss     Stephanie Perkins
90. Pieces of Us                Margie Gelbwasser
91. A Reliable Wife                Robert Goolrick
92. So Much Closer                Susane Colasanti
93. Invincible Summer         Hannah Moskowitz
94. Wanderlove                 Kirsten Hubbard
95. Tricks                    Ellen Hopkins
96. The Broken Thing            Peter Swift

Monday, December 19, 2011

GCC Presents Laurie Faria Stolarz and DEADLY LITTLE VOICES

I'm excited to highlight another member of the Girlfriend's Cyber Circut, who has a book releasing this week. DEADLY LITTLE VOICES by Laurie Faria Stolarz just released from Disney/Hyperion Books for Children.


Camelia Hammond thought her powers of psychometry gave her only the ability to sense the future through touch. But now she’s started to hear voices. Cruel voices. Berating her, telling her how ugly she is, that she has no talent, and that she'd be better off dead. Camelia is terrified for her mental stability, especially since her deranged aunt with a suicidal history, has just moved into the house. As if all of that weren't torturing enough, Camelia's ex-boyfriend, Ben, for whom she still harbors feelings and who has similar psychometric abilities, has started seeing someone else. Even her closest friends, Kimmie and Wes, are unsure how to handle her erratic behavior.
With the line between reality and dream consistently blurred, Camelia turns to pottery to get a grip on her emotions. She begins sculpting a figure skater, only to receive frightening premonitions that someone's in danger. But who is the intended victim? And how can Camelia help that person when she’s on the brink of losing her own sanity?


“You’re just one big fat joke,” the voice hisses. 
I cover my ears, but the insults keep coming. 
“Just do it,” a voice whispers.  It’s followed by more voices, of different people.  They talk over each other and mingle together, producing one clear cut message – that I’m a waste of a life.   
I rock back and forth, trying to remain in control.  I smother my ears with the sheet.  Press my forehead against my knees.  Pound my heels into the floor, bracing myself for what comes next. 
Meanwhile, there’s a drilling sensation inside my head; it pushes through the bones of my skull, and makes me think that I’m going crazy.
“Please,” I whisper.  More tears sting my eyes.  I shake my head, wondering if maybe I’m already dead, if maybe the voices are part of hell.
Check out the book trailers:

Praise for the TOUCH series:

Texas Tayshas List, 2010 (DLS)

Children’s Book Council’s 2010 & 2011 Teen Choice Book of the Year Nominee

Reluctant Reader Quick Pick Nominees, 2010 & 2011, American Library Association

Teens@Random, Favorite Book of 2009 (DLS)

Gold Star Award,, 2009 (DLL)

"...lively first-person narrative.... CW-worthy dialogue, quirky secondary characters, romance and suspense: a winning combination" - Kirkus Reviews

"An engaging, eerie tale about the darker side of relationships - when it becomes a matter of life and death to know who your friends are." - KLIATT

“The book was full of shocking surprises and revelations, earning the book five stars. This is a must-read for fans of romance, suspense, and mystery because it won't disappoint.” – Teens Read Too (DLL)

"Laurie Faria Stolarz is a master creator of suspense and romance. Her words cause the heart to pound, the palms to sweat, the spine to shiver, and the stomach to flutter. The trepidation born from the anonymous threats will make the pages fly, and the palpable tension between Camelia and Ben as they attempt to ignore their hearts causes the fire to burn hotter." -

Author Bio: Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, Project 17, and Bleed, as well as the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares series.  Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Stolarz attended Merrimack College and received an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston. For more information, please visit her Web site at

Laurie’s Guilty Pleasures:
Favorite snack: Popcorn with soy butter and lemon/pepper seasoning.
Touristy Trip: Paris.
Fashion addiction (at the moment): artfully torn jeans, tall boots, pretty scarves, and Michael Stars tees.
Dessert: Dark chocolate in almost any form - the darker the better.
Fast food: French fries at least once every few months (with lots of ketchup).
Beauty Binge: Aveda haircare products, which includes indulging in high-and/or-low-lights every eight weeks. Also, Caudalie skincare, Ineke perfume (Field Notes from Paris), Revitalash mascara, and Buxom Lips from Bare Escentuals.
Late-Night TV: Real Housewives of (wherever), Mad Fashion, Fashion Hunters.
Chick Flick: Never Been Kissed, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Juno, Green Card, Once, The Devil Wears Prada, Bridget Jones Diary, Thelma & Louise, Mean Girls, Moonstruck, Clueless, Under the Tuscan Sun, and anything with John Cusack.
Nightlife: Pilates in front of the TV (a regular occurrence), answering e-mail (also regular), and dinner and/or a movie out with friends (happens far too rarely).
Cheap Thrill: Window-shopping, tabloid magazines, buying a new lip gloss, a tall cup of coffee from Peet's or Starbucks.
Ultimate Splurge: G2O Day Spa for a massage.

Other Random Info:
Favorite Quote: Perseverance is key.
Favorite cuisine: Indian food – onion chutney, curried vegetables, and kashmir bread. I also love cheeseless pizza from Bertucci's.
Interests: Vegetarian cooking, holistic nutrition, aromatherapy.
Favorite Music: Adele, Fergie, James Blunt, Gavin Rossdale, Tori Amos, Sting, Sarah MacLachlin, Gwen Stefani, Black-eyed Peas.
Hobbies: Walking, napping, cooking, shopping, interior decorating.

For more information, go here:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Galley Grab

I just wanted to pass along a quick update - apparently people are having trouble getting NEVER ENOUGH from Simon and Schuster's Galley Grab program. It seemed to have worked when I first posted the link (I downloaded a copy myself to make sure) but now people are having trouble getting it.

Rest assured, this is in the hands of The People That Know What To Do at S&S and I have high hopes that the problem will be resolved soon. Sorry to those of you who have had problems and/or gotten frustrated. More soon...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Four!

1. It's December. I guess that's my only real excuse for not blogging more.

2. Well, that and the fact that I'm really enjoying writing these days. I sent a proposal for my companion novel to LOSING FAITH off to Agent Awesome this week. I'm eager to get back to my NaNo novel (have I mentioned how much I love this book??) but my mind has been nagged all week by a new story idea. So I'm taking a few days to bash out some of that, enough so I can remember it and come back to it another time.

3. My son and his two cousins (8, 8, and 6 years old) also took part in NaNoWriMo this year. I still don't have a combined word count between the three of them, but I'm thinking it might be up over 5000 words. I'm hoping to get their stories typed in and bound for them for Christmas (Shhhh, it's a surprise!)

4. I went Christmas shopping for the first time this year on Wednesday night and you know what surprised me the most? They have actual tea stores in the mall now. Small stores that sell nothing but tea. I was intrigued at how a store selling only tea could make it at the prices malls charge for space, so I went in. And okay, I'm kind of hooked. A friend of mine once told me that the definition of tea is = Smells amazing, tastes like water. But I've always been a big tea fan, and these Davids Teas? Pretty much the ultimate in flavor/aroma mixtures.  It is expensive (that's obviously how they pay for their expensive mall rent), but I admit, right now I want to give everyone tea for Christmas.

Have you been Christmas shopping yet this year? Any cool discoveries you've made?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Four - Lots of Excitement!

1. First of all, I finished NaNo this week! Not only that, but I finished the book I was writing for NaNo, and let me tell you, it was a lot longer than 50,000 words! But it gets 8 year-old son completed his first attempt at NaNo. His goal wasn't 50,000 words, but he wanted to definitely reach over 1000. He made it to over 1600 words! And he's not done his story, so he's still working at each day.

2. In other exciting news...remember how I mentioned there could be an opportunity for bloggers to get easy access to a copy of NEVER ENOUGH (even overseas bloggers)??? Well, the opportunity is here! It has just been launched on Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program. Follow this link to get your hands on a copy:
I hope you enjoy it!!

3. It's been a crazy-busy month between Nano, homeschooling, and moving my mom into her new house. But we're finally almost done with moving and her new place is beautiful. Yay!!!

4. It's December!!! Holy cow, I can't believe it! I"m a bit of a Christmas nut, and yeah, I've had my tree up all year, but my son now has it decorated and it's feeling very festive in our household. I think it's nearly time to break out the eggnog! We're off to our first little Christmas party this weekend. How about you? Have you decorated? Are you excited about any upcoming holiday parties?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My First School Visit!

I mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago that I did my first school visit just recently. It was a blast, and the kids were so great to get to know. There was around 60 kids--all grades 6-8--and they were ALL enrolled in NaNoWriMo! Isn't that the coolest thing ever?!

I talked to them a little about my experiences with NaNo, hopefully inspired them a little, and came home inspired myself--both to get my son writing during November, as well as to set up more opportunities to talk to kids about NaNoWriMo.

In between writing over 89,000 words this month, homeschooling my son, and generally keeping up with life, I didn't have time to visit any more schools, but I want to let all the teachers out there know well in advance that I'd LOVE to talk to you class next year about NaNo, hopefully in September or October, if you're interested in participating in the month-long writing stint. I'm happy to do Skype visits or local visits, whatever works best depending on location, but please do shoot me an email if you'd like to set something up!

And a couple of pictures from my recent event... (Notice their rapt attention and their very organized list of all their individual word count goals!)

Thanks again to Cheryl Angst for the invitation. It was great fun!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: 1st Page of my #NaNoWriMo Project!

As promised, here's a tiny excerpt from my NaNoWriMo draft. It's currently titled MILANO, but I suspect that will change. The book spans three different countries and has taken more research than any book I've ever written. Anyway, here's just a little bit of the opening, about a page and a half. Keep in mind I haven't edited it yet and this is only a first draft. Let me know what you think!


It should be illegal for girls over five-seven to wear heels. And I’m not saying that because I’m jealous. Believe me. It’s just that when you’re five-two and not a lesbian, there are better ways to spend your day than staring at forty-eight female breasts.

    And to be honest, they all look the same from this angle.

    But then, I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? To look like a herd of perfect, beautiful, tall bodies. That’s why people will come to this fashion show. To see beautiful bodies in beautiful clothing. That’s why it will pay my way to Spain.

    The actual show isn’t for two weeks. Labor Day Weekend, right before school starts up. It’s billed as a back-to-school event, but looking over the rack of outfits the stores are supplying, I’m sure our crowd will be made up of mainly skanky over-forty women and leery-eyed men.

    “Can these hemlines get any higher?” my best friend Tristan asks, spinning in front of the mirror to see if her underwear shows. If she’s wearing any, that is. If there are two things I’ve learned about models in the last six weeks they’re these:

1.    Models are not shy about their bodies. By not shy, I mean they’d walk through the mall in their own bra, or even without it, if it meant getting to the stage on time.

2.    If models wear any underwear at all, it’s usually thinner than the dental floss in my bathroom cabinet.

“Any cheek, Jamie?” she asks me. Tristan is the one and only model I’ve ever met who cares at least a little bit about how much of her goods she’s showing. But she’s still ruled by the dental-floss underwear rule.

“Yeah, there’s cheek,” I tell her with a smirk. “But not under the dress.”

If Tristan’s one thing, it’s cheeky. She’s also smart, funny, beautiful, popular, and fiercely loyal. To me. Which means I’m fiercely loyal right back.

She smirks, because along with being loyal, we can both take a joke.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yay!!! I Finished!

Guess what I got today???

89,284 words later, I have completed my NaNoWriMo draft. And believe me, this is a first draft. But it's done and I LOVE so much of it. In fact, I don't even remember much of it, because with that many words, I was writing so fast that scenes literally flew by. But I skipped back to the beginning, just to see how horrible it really was, and surprisingly, I fell in love all over again. I really love the premise of this book and the voice came out just the way I'd hoped.

I have to run for today, but I hope to be back tomorrow with a small Teaser Tuesday excerpt. For others who have been working at drafting, how's your progress?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Honest Post About #nanowrimo

As you can see, I'm an official 2011 NaNo Winner! (though I can't claim my winnings officially until the 25th I think). I've actually blown by the 50k mark, which is still quite amazing to me, since I've always been known as an under-writer.

Even at nearly 74k I'm still not done my book, so I'm racing against the clock to try and get it finished by the end of the month. I figure if I don't wander too much, I might get there in another ten thousand words.

But as this year comes to a close, I've been reflecting on my NaNo experiences, and thought I would share, for those who might be interested.

2007 was my first year participating in NaNo. As many of you probably know, my debut YA novel, LOSING FAITH was my first attempt at NaNo (but definitely not my first attempt at writing a novel). I wrote the first draft in 21 days. It came in at around 46k, and I had to pad some of the descriptions and so forth to get it up to 50k by the end of the month.

I took almost a year to revise it with the help of stellar critique partners. I sent out queries to agents starting in September, and by November, 2008 I had myself an agent. My agent helped me with some small edits and then submitted it to editors in January 2009. By April we had a deal with the amazing Anica Rissi from Simon Pulse. LOSING FAITH hit the shelves of bookstores throughout North America in September 2010.

This is the quickest I can imagine getting a novel traditionally published, from conception to on sale. Really, the edits all along the way were not the "rewriting-the-whole-book" variety.  And it still took THREE years. Just sayin.

2008 - This year during NaNo, I wrote a YA novel called BELLY UP.  And because of my success from the last year, I also decided to write a second novel simultaneously. We'll call this one "The Novel We Don't Speak Of Because It's So Bad." (TNWDSOBISB). I wrote BELLY UP  with an outline, revised it a couple of times, sent it to my agent, and I still need to do one more revision before we try to sell it, but I have confidence that one day it can be done. TNWDSOBISB, on the other hand, was written without an outline, just on a spurt of an idea, and yeah, we don't talk about that one.

2009 - This year I wrote a YA novel called PERFECT AIM. It's about a teen archer, and I still really love this book, but it needs some major work before I send it to my agent and so far I have not had the time. I started this one with a 38k outline (yes, you read that correctly). The one problem I found with this is because so much of the story was in the outline, I got a bit lazy while writing during NaNo, and the voice ended up a bit stilted. So that will be one of the main things I need to fix when I go back to revise.

Also, during this year's NaNo, I was under a deadline for LOSING FAITH revisions for my editor, so that kept me VERY busy!

2010 - This year I attempted a companion novel to LOSING FAITH for my NaNo Project. I wrote a basic outline, discussed with my critique partner, and started writing with a basic idea of where the plot would go. I ended up going out of character quickly with my MC, I figured out later because many of the plot points in my outline just didn't suit her personality. So I'm still in the midst of revising this one and the plot has changed so much that it really is a brand new book.

2011 - I've been working on another YA contemporary novel. The working title is Milano, but I suspect that will change. I had a short synopsis written prior to NaNo, which I had sent to my critique partner, which she shredded apart. I went through her criticisms and wrote a return email to her with some ideas of how to fix her concerns. Because of the busyness of life, I never got around to revising my synopsis. I just worked from the email that I had sent back to my CP, and I only looked at that once before November the first. I haven't looked back at it since.

To be honest, this has been my easiest year. I haven't felt blocked hardly at all. It has required a lot of research, but other than that, it has been going just amazingly well. It's definitely the most words I've ever written in a month, and I've loved this story every day I've been working on it. For those who follow my blog, you know I've had an incredibly hard year, and all I can say is that I believe this is just the favor and grace of God, a much needed refresher for my life. I'm so very thankful.

So those are all of my experiences with NaNoWriMo. I hope they help add some perspective to what you may have (or are) gone through, or at the very least, I hope my pain and suffering has made for entertaining reading! :-)

If you're looking to check out a published novel that was originally written during NaNo, there are several on the NaNo website, but some of my favorites (besides LOSING FAITH, of course) are WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

Happy writing, and I'd love to hear about your NaNo experiences if you'd like to share!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November Giveaway Hop Winners!

I had such a great response to the November Giveaway Hop that I get to give THREE books away from my shelf. Unfortunately, my brain was absorbed in Nanowrimo when I posted the contest, and I neglected to have a "name" category on the form. So I"ll just have to announce the beginning of the winner's email addresses (I'll email them separately).

Congratulations to...

wilsondev, winner of CRESCENDO by Becca Fitzpatrick!

Jennifer, winner of THE 13TH REALITY by James Dashner

and xxsquigglesxx, winner of I AM NUMBER FOUR by Pittacus Lore

Thanks to all who entered! Congratulations again to the winners!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

November Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the November Blog Hop!

This contest will run from November 8-11, 2011.

Rather than offering one or two books for a giveaway, I've decided to open up an entire bookshelf for your choosing! I've tried to include lots of variety, so there's something for everyone here. All you have to do is pick your top three choices!

In case you can't see them well enough, the books to choose from:
I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman
WEST OF HERE by Jonathan Evison
I AM NUMBER FOUR by Pittacus Lore
JULIET by Anne Fortier
CRESCENDO by Becca Fitzpatrick
THE DIVAS DIAMOND by Victoria Christopher Murray
I LIKE IT LIKE THAT by Cecily von Ziegesar
THE 13TH REALITY by James Dashner
JUNGLE CROSSING by Sydney Salter
HUSH by Eishes Chayil
SWOON by Nina Malkin
COOL CACHE by Patricia Smiley

Some are gently used, some are advance copies, and some are signed. This contest is open to anyone with a US mailing address. I'll give away one book from my shelf for every fifty entries I receive, so the more people you get to enter, the more books I will give away!

Fill out the following form to enter:

And here are the links to other great contests in this hop:

Friday, November 4, 2011

#NaNoWriMo Tips, Tricks, and Reasons to Start (if you haven't already!)

The other day I did my first school visit. It was a ton of fun, and most especially fun because I got to talk about NaNoWriMo! I seriously could talk about that all day long.

Since many of you are either A. Enduring the pain and suffering of NaNoWriMo along with me, or B. Think people who try to write a book in a month were dropped on their head as babies....

I thought I'd share a few notes from my school visit. For your enjoyment and/or argument:

1.    It’s only a month.

You can use this month to do all the normal stuff you do, and feel the same at the end of the month, and wonder why your life never changes and why you never accomplish anything great. Or you can decide that this month you WILL accomplish something great. BTW, do you know that writing a novel is really something great?

2.    Do you even know how many people have thought about or attempted to write a novel?
Human nature – we want to be similar enough to the general population to not be a weirdo, but different enough to know we are special – to have a unique story that people would want to hear. Different but still relate-able. That’s why writing is such a popular idea.

 Ask anybody you know over the age of 35. I bet they’ve either thought about writing a book or even tried it. So what percentage of those people do you think have succeeded and what percentage have failed? All it will take is 30 days to surpass that multitude of people.

3.    NaNo is a great excuse for not getting your homework done (shhh, don’t tell your teachers this trick).
The next time you have an assignment that you haven’t gotten done, ask your teacher if they’re over 35 (then see point number 2) – have they written a novel? Do they have any idea how much work goes into writing a novel in a month? ‘Nuff said.
4. On that note…It’s a great excuse to stay up past your bedtime. Ask your parents if they’re over 35.

5.    There’s a great energy that comes with a bunch of people all trying to reach a similar goal.
Ride on that energy, and the momentum will carry you through.
Know that others have difficult writing days too, and be a support for them when they need it. Then they’ll be a support when you need it.

6.    Your writing will be much better than you think it is. Even if you think it’s craptastic.
When you come back to what you wrote in a month or a year, you’ll be surprised how many great things you find in there.
NaNo allows you to explore directions you may not explore if you weren’t letting your brain loose.
Always write forward. Kill perfectionism.

7.    Schedule:
I get up half an hour early in November. What’s half an hour?
Write 1000 words when you’re in that sleepy, weird-ideas-sound-amazing! state of mind.
Think about your story during the day.
Come back and write another 1000 words later.
Two chances for your muse to show up. If not one, maybe the other.

8.    Getting stuck
It will happen. It happens to everybody. Write anyway. Who cares if you have to scrap entire sections later? Sometimes you have to take detours to get where you’re going. And often that’s the ONLY way to get there.
Some of my best stuff I’ve written when I’ve been stuck. In Losing Faith, Tessa showed up. She wasn’t in my outline, but my MC was wandering aimlessly, alone for far too long during my “stuck” period. To shake things up, I brought in an unlikely friend.

9.    You will be amazed how impressed people are when you tell them “I wrote a book. Yes, a real one.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Aloha Oe!

NaNoWriMo is upon us and I'm going to be very busy for the month of November. But instead of saying goodbye, or promising I won't be blogging at all during the next month, I'll say Aloha Oe, which loosely translates to "Until we meet again."

I'll be around throughout the month to let you know how my NaNo project is going, to give away that copy of Losing Faith, and for a blog hop with some awesome prizes next week, but I probably won't be saying much coherent on here otherwise.

Wish me luck! I'm still undecided on which project I'll be starting at seven AM tomorrow. Nothing like leaving things until the eleventh hour...

All the best to everyone else attempting NaNo. It's only a month. Give it all you've got, and I promise you won't regret the effort. You can find me on their site under denisej. And of course I'll be around on Twitter under @denisejaden

Hope everyone has a wonderful November!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Boring Post

I warned you, this post has nothing exciting to say. I'm two days away from blogging every day of October, though, so I must finish!

Last night my husband and I went to a friends house. Kind of a party. Not really a Halloween party. During the day we discussed how it hadn't even occurred to us to dress up in costume and find a fun costumey place to go this year. We think this is a sure sign that we are getting old.

Today I slept until almost ten, which I haven't done in YEARS. Then I had an all day practice with my Polynesian dance group. I'm tired, but the pumpkins have yet to be carved, so I better run.

Let's hope tomorrow's post will be slightly more exciting! Did you do anything fun for Halloween? (Or will you tomorrow?)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Eek! It's October 29th and I almost missed my first day of blogging this month! I just remembered, and I'm about to go out, so a couple of things real quick...

1. I haven't forgotten about the NEVER ENOUGH Cover Reveal Contest. I'll still be giving away my signed copy of a 2nd printing edition of LOSING FAITH, but I just wanted to give a little extra time for people who mentioned they would be featuring my new cover soon.

2. I'm still gearing up for NaNoWriMo, but I'm thinking I may be changing projects at the last minute. My agent and I need to discuss my "Tessa" project before I'll be able to write that, and I'm not sure we'll be able to accomplish that before Tuesday. I do have a couple of other outlines semi-ready, so I hope to look at those over the weekend.

3. I'm doing my very first school visit this coming week! I'm very excited, and I probably would be really nervous, but I'll be going in to talk to a class who's attempting NaNoWriMo, and I love talking about that so much that it's actually keeping me fairly calm. I'll be back to let you know how it goes.

I'm getting dragged away by my toenails here, so I have to run. Happy weekend, everybody!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

How to Write a Logline

Over the weekend at the Surrey Writers' Conference, one of the most useful things I took home was a simple formula of how to write a logline, courtesy of Luke Ryan from Disruption Entertainment.

During his workshop, he had the ability to make so much of the screenwriting and targeting your audience processes seem so easy. I don't have much time to blog today, so thought I'd pass along his formula.

Fill in the blanks from your work in progress (and if you can't easily fill in the blanks, perhaps that will point you to a potential problem or an area of your manuscript you can make stronger).

I'm interested to hear if you think this is as useful as I do!

Luke's Logline Formula:

____________________ (Main Character) sets out to ___________________________________________________(achieve a goal) but runs into ___________________________________________________(unexpected or sometimes ironic obstacle) and must
__________________________________________________(grow in a way to triumph or face certain doom.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Book Bloggers, Teachers, Librarians, and Booksellers

I was going to add this to yesterday's post, but thought that post would get far too long. Because I have plenty of thankfulness when it comes to bloggers, teachers, librarians, and booksellers. In fact, you're even in my acknowledgements for NEVER ENOUGH (I wanted to put you in big flashing neon lights, but that was vetoed at higher levels because of cost). I'm now moving into publishing my second novel. I'm not Sarah Dessen or JK Rowling. And yet, I'm seeing support already, all over the place, for NEVER ENOUGH. My gratitude is huge.

Let me start with Book Bloggers, because you hold a very special place in my heart. You gave my debut book a chance before it was even released, before you had even heard of me, and not only that, but you plastered it all over the Internet, telling others they should read it too. Whenever anyone questions the value of book bloggers, I want to punch them in the nose.

Teachers: I feel for you. You get a bad rap a lot of the time, and I feel worse, because I gave you a bad rap for many years. It's the same kind of regret I feel for not noticing how great my parents were when I was at that age where everybody sucked. You deal with that age--that suck rep--every day. You shape the next generation, and open their eyes to so many great things (like books they might not pick up otherwise). You deserve a medal for putting up with ungrateful kids like I was.

Librarians: Let me just say, that as a profession in general, you are some of my favorite people in the world. There is nothing more refreshing to me than to walk into a building (a library) where I *know* I will end up running into someone passionate about books. I could hang with you people all day long.

Booksellers: Of anybody on this list, I feel a kinship with you. You have to mesh what you love with what sells every day. And sometimes you don't get to sell what you love. But when you do, you make sure everybody knows about it. I'm so incredible thankful for the many bookstores that carried my first novel--that took a chance on me--and even put extra care into displaying my book and hand-selling it to your customers.

This is why, when I received an extra galley of NEVER ENOUGH this week, all of you were first on my thoughts. I wanted so badly to get my next book into your hands. If you fit into the list above, or even if you don't, but you really want to read and help spread the word about NEVER ENOUGH, make sure to sign up and get on the ARC Tour. I hope everyone who wants to gets a chance to read it and I hope you love it!

Thank you again, all of you, for everything you do!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bloggers! Teachers! Librarians! Want to Read NEVER ENOUGH?!

Eeeeeeee, look what I got in the mail this week:

Even the spine is so pretty!! For those of you who don't know anything about this book yet, it is my second YA Contemporary novel and will be releasing from Simon Pulse / Simon & Schuster in July 2012.

Here's the little back of book synopsis:

Never Enough

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like
her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts
flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it
takes to feel special…even if that means
betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers
that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for
perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a
dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws
from friends and family, Loann struggles to
understand her and make amends. Can she heal their
relationship—and her sister—before it’s too late?

I already put one call out for bloggers, teachers, and librarians who want to read this, and I did receive a number of emails from people, but I thought it would be easier to keep track of to add a form here, then I can make sure I get the same info from everybody. Also, at this point I can only open this up to people with a Canadian or US mailing address. I'm still hoping NEVER ENOUGH will be available some other ways for overseas bloggers. I'll let you know when I have details.

But before I get to the form, I want to ask a few favors from you.

First, this is really EARLY to have an advance copy, but since I only have TWO copies (with one of them I will look like Gollum and his Precious, so don't be thinking you'll pry that one out of my greedy little hands ;) But I'd like to make sure my one "spare" galley makes it through to as many people who want to read it as possible. So I'd like to start it on it's tour right away!

I'd love to ask if you read it, if you'd save any reviews you might post until at least April 2012.

I'd also ask that you be gentle on the book, so it can hopefully hold together for as many people on the list as possible.

Please read and pass on to the next person as quickly as possible, hopefully within two weeks (if you know you won't be able to do this, make a note and I'll try to put you closer to the end of the list).

I think that's it! Please full out the form below thoroughly if you're interested in reading an early copy of NEVER ENOUGH!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spotlight on VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez!

While away at the Surrey International Writers' Conference, you may think I was hanging in the bar, partying my nights away. But no. My wonderful editor had just sent me a couple of books the week before, and there was one in particular that I Could. Not. Put. Down. So, yes, I was the girl who sat in her hotel room reading every chance she got!

This book captivated me from the first page. I loved being taken into the world of a teen professional performer, as I was one of those (to a lesser degree than Carmen) myself. Did I mention there's a hot British boy in it too?

Here's the synopsis from the back of the book:

About Jessica (a fellow Canadian, I might add): Jessica was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. As a child she  played the violin, read books and climbed trees incessantly. She went on to study English and music at Brigham Young University, and since then has been a high school English teacher, symphony violinist, elementary school teacher, violin teacher, and mother. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and two children.

I don't generally review books on the blog, but when I find a book I love, I want to share it. I hope you'll pick up a copy of VIRTUOSITY and because Jessica is also pretty hilarious, you should follow her on Twitter.

Monday, October 24, 2011

#SIWC2011 Recap!

I had a great time at the Surrey International Writers' Conference. It was the 19th year, and you know what that means. Next year is the big 2-0, which promises to be a huge celebration. The theme will be Roaring 20's, and there will be a big dress up gala on the Saturday night. Write it on your calendar now: October 19-21,2012.

But I'm getting ahead of myself! What about THIS year? I went to some great workshops and took oodles of notes. I'll have to spend a bit of time sorting through them and figuring out what will make sense to you, but here are a few of the highlights:

On Thursday I took in Donald Maass's Master Class: Impossible to Put Down: Mastering the three levels of story to construct a gripping novel. Don talked about the iron skeleton, upon which the big problem of the novel is built, the scene by scene tension, and the micro-tension.

 My biggest takeaway phrase from this class was: "What would you do in your story if you were a braver writer?" Don spent a lot of time helping us wrap our mind around pushing the boundaries and our characters further in our novels.

One of my favorite workshop presenters was my friend, Eileen Cook (and I'm not just saying that because I like her, either!) She came prepared with notes and jokes (she goes everywhere with those), and even movie clips. One of her workshops was on tension (Make War, Not Peace) and talked about how we can take the rules of counseling on how to resolve conflict and reverse them to put our characters into some entertaining situations.

Eileen's other workshop was on the stages of change. Her made-up character "Stan" went on a hilarious and though-provoking journey throughout the class as she took him through the stages of change - starting with getting hit by a bus. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop or writing class from Eileen Cook, I highly recommend it!

 I also enjoyed taking a screenwriting class from Luke Ryan, and even though I'm not a screenwriter, I've always found the principals of screenwriting extremely helpful with novel-writing. He talked about appealing to the four quadrants of viewers: under 25 year old men, over 25 men, under 25 women, and over 25 women, as well as what producers are looking for and why.

Hallie Ephron is another great teacher. Several years ago I took a mystery-writing workshop from her, and I still refer back to my notes from that class. This year, I was able to glean some insight on beginnings and endings, and suspense-writing.

There were lots of other wonderful workshops, and I'll be back later this week with some notes. The food was awesome. The company was even better (*waves hello to the Calgary ladies and all the new folks I met this year*) but probably a highlight for most people was seeing Donald Maass strip an auctioned T-shirt off of Robert Dugoni. True story.

Any of you who were not fortunate enough to attend this year's conference, I highly recommend listening to this inspiring (and funny) keynote by Robert Dugoni:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Conferences and Kismet

I'm having a great time at the Surrey International Writer's Conference. I've blogged a bit about this idea before, but this conference has reminded me again that kismet is key to the business of writing and publishing. But the thing is, there's not a lot of opportunity for kismet when you're sitting in your house.

I know it's not always possible to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to go to writing conferences. I was extremely blessed this year to receive a grant from the Access Copyright Foundation, which has covered my conference expenses for this weekend. But even if you can't attend a conference, I encourage you to get off of your computer once in a while, get out around other writers, booksellers, librarians, whomever, and get some facetime that's focused on writing and books.

Every time I've come to this conference, or any writing conference, actually, I've had moments of kismet that I can look back on and pinpoint--certain people I've spoken to that have ended up making a difference in my writing life and/or career. In every one of these cases, it took a little bit of coming out of my comfort zone to make the opportunity happen.

This weekend I've seen friends of mine get really impacting writing advice, find new opportunities, and one friend even got an offer of representation right on the spot here. I've had several very informative conversations with professionals about foreign rights, e-rights, film options, and many other things. Not only do I feel enlightened, but I have some new contacts in the business, some of which I have high hopes will be fruitful.

So I encourage you...step out. Talk to someone new about books and writing, and see where it leads. Even if it's a little uncomfortable.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Stuff

I'm at the Surrey International Writer's Conference and having a fabulous time. Plenty to do here, so just a quick update:

No, I did not shake hands (or offer a signed copy of LOSING FAITH) to the ex-presidents.

But...much more exciting....I have been able to hang out with some great authors, including Eileen Cook, KC Dyer, Elizabeth Boyle, Elena Aitkin, and the ultra-fun Calgary gals! (One of these ladies even got an offer of representation right at the conference! - Which is understandable if you hear her pitch. Still laughing out loud thinking about it).

Aside from celebratory drinks and laughs, I've also been taking some great workshops! Highlights include a great workshop on screenwriting by Luke Ryan (I'll be back this week sharing his extremely easy way of writing a logline), a wonderful, in-depth master class with Donald Maass on making your book a page-turner, and an inspiring keynote by Robert Dugoni.

And I still have two days left of the conference!

I'm just starting another session right now, but I'll be back with more. Lots to share!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Free! Frightful! Horror-Filled Fun!

With Halloween approaching, I wanted to let you all know about a fright-filled new ebook. And the best part? It's completely FREE.

It's releasing today (October 21st, 2011), for ages 9-99.

Why will you like it? I'll tell you...
The Broken Thing is a modern paranormal middle-grade thrill ride full of action, suspense, and ghosts. With a main character and best friend that both boys and girls will relate to, the story moves at a fast and frightening pace. It’s fun, scary, and will get kids thinking about what might be out there, just outside of what they can see. And why maybe they’d rather not find out.

Here's a little description:
Stevie Barton loves a scary story, until he finds himself living one! Two days before Halloween in Newhope Nohope, Vermont, Stevie discovers a mysterious antique toy sitting in the spooky forest the townspeople call The Grove. He pockets the abandoned toy, but a local bully drives him deeper into the dark forest. Soon, Stevie learns that the bully is the least of his worries. Something evil slept in those dark woods, and he woke it. Now the evil is after him! Along with his best friend Angie Lewis, Stevie must find and stop the horror before it finds him.

About the Author:
Peter Swift grew up in a small town outside of Philadelphia. He was surrounded by ancient places steeped in legend, mystery, and myth. Dark forests, abandoned houses, and overgrown cemeteries were a very real part of Peter’s childhood adventures and explorations, and his imagination often populated these places with ghosts and monsters, both light and dark.

Where to get it: (The most important part, right?!)
Fright Files: The Broken Thing is the first book in the Beware the Author series. All of the stories are independent of one another, so readers can pick up only those they find most interesting. As a promotion, Peter is giving away this first book for free digitally on his website. If you like it, he only asks that you share it with friends, and consider reading more of the Fright Files as they become available. Please stop by his website and click on the “Follow Me” tab to keep up with the world of Peter Swift’s Fright Files. You can also sign up for his newsletter there, which will inform you as the books become available.

I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of The Broken Thing on my Kindle (Yes! It works on Kindle!) and I'm going to read a little each night between now and Halloween (just so I can be really scared by then! LOL. Hope you check it out, and let anyone who has kids who like a good, clean-but-thrilling story know!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

#SIWC Madness!

Last night I was excitedly getting ready to go to the Surrey International Writer's Conference, when an email popped up in my inbox from the conference coordinator. The email was instructing all of us "Master Class Attendees" to arrive plenty early today. Why, you ask?

Because--I kid you not--Bill Clinton and George W. Bush would be sharing the hotel with us today.

So I arrived early, as instructed, to this:

In case you can't make it out in the pictures, there are protestors galore (and I'm not going to repeat the things they are yelling!), TV, cameras, there are police in neon jackets everywhere and secret-servicey guys-- complete with the dark suits and little earpieces--throughout the hotel. In our usual "pitch" room, they're right now having the Mayor's lunch with the presidents.

This is just my arrival and it's already very exciting! Can't wait to see what's in store for the rest of the conference!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Exciting Stuff!

Since revealing my beautiful cover of NEVER ENOUGH, I'm overwhelmed by all of the support!

Today, I've found four bloggers who have featured my new book as their Waiting on Wednesday pick (Thank you!!!) and several more who have written to tell me they plan to feature it soon!

Also, over A HUNDRED people have already added it to their to-read list on GoodReads. In only a matter of days! And WOW, it has a 5-star rating (LOL, okay, that was mine :)

I'm getting packed for the Surrey International Writer's Conference. Very excited!!! If you're interested, I'll most likely be on Twitter, updating what's happening using the hashtag #siwc or #siwc2011 or #siwcya. Or, you know, just check my name.

This has to be short today. Too much to get ready for the weekend. But don't forget to let me know if you've spread the word about NEVER ENOUGH, so I can enter your name for the contest!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Greg Fishbone and THE CHALLENGERS!

It seems I have some middle grade fiction to highlight this week! Greg Fishbone, the author of this spotlight, is also the creator of Class of 2k7 - A wonderful group of middle grade and young adult authors. I would have been lost last year without my Class of 2k10, and will forever be thankful to Greg for his foresight!

Greg's latest novel, The Challengers, is the first book in the Galaxy Games series of humorous middle-grade science fiction from the Tu Books imprint of Lee & Low Books. Tu Books is dedicated to releasing multicultural MG and YA novels in the fantasy, science fiction, and mystery genres. The Challengers was released in September and is available in hardcover from bookstores everywhere and as an ebook for Nook, Kindle, iBooks, and Google Books.

Greg stopped by for a short interview:

Welcome, Greg! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?

Earth kids vs. aliens in galactic sports!

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your new novel and why?

I had a lot of fun with El Gatito Grande, an aspiring Lucha Libre wrestler who maintains a secret identity with a mask that he wears all the time. He's a lot of fun.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, Greg.

I've always loved writing and dreamed about writing books like the fantasy and science fiction authors I idolized as a kid: Madeine L'Engle, Isaac Asimov, Douglas Adams, and others. My path took me through a lot of day jobs but I've always returned to writing. In 1999, I joined the Society of Children's and Book Writers and Illustrators and have served as regional webmaster, assistant regional adviser, and conference co-coordinator in New England. In 2007, I formed the Class of 2k7 marketing group of debut authors, which has inspired a new class each year ever since. And this past summer I attended the Launch Pad program at the University of Wyoming where I was drilled in astronomy for science fiction authors.

What's been the most surprising thing about your path to publication so far?

I've been surprised by how much there is to learn about the writing, revising, and publishing process. I'm still learning and applying new things all the time!

What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?

Don't try to be a great writer. Be a constantly-improving writer.

Are you swept up with promotion for your book right now or can you give us a sentence or two about something new you're working on?

I just finished a draft of the second book in the Galaxy Games series, which is going to be an amazing ride into the galaxy.

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 wrote adventure stories and fantasy stories in high school, and had a group of friends to share work with. We challenged each other all the time, and it was always fun and exciting. My first idea of writing as a social activity, and I still get that today with my wonderful critique group.

What's the last book you read that you really loved?

I have to give a shout out to TANKBORN by Karen Sandler, another book from the Tu Books launch list, because it's very cool what she's done with the character, the world, and the technology she writes about.

If readers want to find out more about you and your writing, where should they look?

My author site is
The Galaxy Games series site is at
And check out the Great Galactic Blog Tour at

Thanks so much for visiting, Greg, and all the best with The Challengers and Galaxy Games!

Monday, October 17, 2011

#Nanowrimo Prep: Make a Character List

Another tool I've added to my NaNoWriMo Prep Chest is a character list.

This should be something you can add to, but basically just a rundown of the characters you hope to include in your novel. Give each a one or two sentence description, who they are, how they relate to different characters. Sometimes I include a line of dialogue or catch phrase. Dialogue helps to make the character immediately full in my mind.

I also add labels, just to remember who's who, when my brain gets all mushy (which it always does!) Here are the labels I use:
PR - protagonist
AN - antagonist
MA - main character (not the protagonist in this case. Just characters who play a major role but are not PR or AN.
SC - secondary character

You can further group your characters as I've done in the following example if you like. This is a fairly complete example, as I have a pretty thorough outline and several chapters already completed for this book, but I'm starting a fresh Character List for my NaNoWriMo novel this week.

Character List – FINDING HOPE

Tessa (PR) – Main Character. Tough, independent, speaks her mind. "I'm hear, aren't I?"
Tessa’s Dad (SC) – A hermit since his youngest daughter died.
Tessa’s Mom (SC)– Gail/Abigail, left shortly after daughter died. Very "together".
Corey (SC) – Tessa’s younger sister, who died when she was six.

Extended Family:
Shawn (SC) – Gail’s new husband. Bossy, a natural leader.
Hope (SC)– Gail and Shawn’s six year old daughter. Tessa’s half-sister. Tough. Speaks her mind. "What do you want?"

School Friends:
Brie (MA)– Tessa’s closest school friend, who she teamed up with in LOSING FAITH. Is willing to do what it takes to help her friends. Her sister Faith died a year ago.
Alis (MA)– Brie’s boyfriend. Conflicted but sweet. His sister Reena is in a mental hospital since she was responsible for killing Brie’s sister Faith a year ago.
Trev (MA)– English classmate of Tessa’s. Shy, a little nerdy, but good-looking.
Cami (SC)– English classmate, very academic, who has a crush on Trev.
Mark (SC)– Trev’s bandmate who looks a lot more streetwise than Trev.

Peripheral Characters:
Vi Masterson (AN)– Friend of Gail and Hope, but a thorn in Shawn’s side. Irresponsible but good-hearted.
Diane Masterson (SC)– Vi’s mother, who works for Shawn.

This is just an example. If you do anything to keep your characters straight, I'd love to hear of different methods of doing this. This is fairly basic, but it works for me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The iPod Anti-Connection

I was at the gym yesterday, rockin out to the Freaky Friday soundtrack on my iPod, my ear buds blocking out the rest of gym-goings-ons. Now I like my solitude--boy, do I like my solitude--but just this flash of an image came into my brain of days gone by when I'd come for a workout, look across the gym and see I'm not the only who's bopping my head to whatever is on the radio station. There was just a second of connection, and I was thinking about how I miss that a little bit. We're off in our own worlds now, always busy, getting things done, looking for the quickest means to get things done, but I think something gets lost. How few people still share connections in everyday life?

My husband has always remembered people's birthdays--it's always been his thing, and people have always appreciated him for it. This morning he said he thought that Facebook has kind of ruined that for him. Everybody remembers birthdays now, because their computer tells them to, and everybody sends a (usually) meaningless birthday message. I think this falls into the same category.

This all got me to thinking. The great thing about books, at least as an author, is that I feel like that connection hasn't been lost. When I'm working through each of my books, I regularly think about the real people who are going through similar things and how they might find a connection, even if I never hear about it.

Anyway, this is all just me blabbering on. Do you see areas that digitizing everything is taking away connections, or is it just me?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Thanks so much to everyone for their kind words about my new cover for NEVER ENOUGH! I love it too.

I'm off today to watch my almost-eight-year-old compete in his first judo tournament. Very excited, and yeah, a little nervous for him.

I know I keep saying this, but I'm reading some of the most amazing YA contemporary books lately. This week I've been devouring HOW TO SAVE A LIFE by Sara Zarr. It's one of the best multiple point of view books, and one of the best books dealing with grief I have read. Highly recommended!

We are finally seeing blue skies around here (thank you, God!) and I'm off to spend as much time as humanly possible soaking it up. So for today this will be very short.

What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, October 14, 2011

NEVER ENOUGH Cover Reveal and 2nd Printing #Contest

I'm *thrilled* to be able to finally show you the cover for NEVER ENOUGH!

...But, before I do, let me tell you about a little contest I'm having. A month or so ago, my editor for LOSING FAITH sent me a couple of copies hot off the press of my 2nd printing edition. I only need one of these copies for my own posterity, so I'm giving the other one away! (Sorry, I don't have any copies of NEVER ENOUGH yet - I wish I did!) Of course I will sign it with something lovely and heartfelt. And...because I'm feeling extra excited, I will open this up internationally. I'll also be giving away some swag packs for NEVER ENOUGH, so lots of fun stuff to win!

The best thing about this contest? You can do about a zillion things to win (just make sure to tell me what you've done in the comments so I can count your entries). Spread the word, tweet, show the cover, tell your mom how excited you are for this book...or about LOSING FAITH - or review LOSING FAITH... or... about a gazillion other things. Even if you just tell me what you think of the cover, I'll enter your name!

To get you started, here's a link to NEVER ENOUGH on GoodReads. Add it to your to-read list, and there's one entry for you right there!

And now...onto my new cover! Let me know what you think!!!

And here's a little about the book:

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special…even if that means betraying her sister.
But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship—and her sister—before it’s too late?

Librarians or teachers who work with teens!  I'm trying to put together a special ARC tour just for you! If you're interested in reading an advance copy of NEVER ENOUGH, please email me at d (at) denisejaden (dot) com with ARC Tour in the subject line and I'll let you know more.

Bloggers! If you want to get your hands on an early copy of NEVER ENOUGH, you can email me too! I'm trying to work out a few different ways of getting this into your hands. And if you happen to feature NEVER ENOUGH as a Waiting On Wednesday pick (first of all, thank you!), please let me know so I can pass it along to my publisher.

As you can probably tell, I'm terribly excited that my second book is finally starting to find its way into the world! Please help me spread a little bit of anticipation for it. I'd so appreciate it!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One of Those Days...

I think I've blogged every day this month so far (If I've missed any, don't tell me, because I'm really driven by goals when I think I can meet them, but if I've already failed, the rest of the month will be one long, lonely place around here.)

Anyway, it's pretty much one of those days when I don't have much to say. I spent the morning at the gym. As I mentioned on Twitter, this new gym I'm trying out has MASSAGE CHAIRS! So cool. So after my workout, I've been zoning out on one of them and reading through one of my works in progress to make some notes.

My first pass pages have gone through two of my trusty eagle-eye friends, and so this weekend I'll be going through them. I have two big deadlines I'm working toward at the moment: I need to get three opening chapters to my agent by Monday for a proposal we're working on, and I need to get my first pass pages back to my editor, I'm hoping by Thursday before I go away.

Which brings me to...I'm so excited to have the opportunity to attend the Surrey International Writer's Conference again this year! Things have been more than tight financially for us this year, but I was awarded an Access Copyright Foundation grant which has made it possible for me to go. I won't be signing books on the Saturday night there, but if you bring a copy of LOSING FAITH along, I'd be happy to sign them anytime through out the weekend. And even if you don't have a book, please stop me and say hi. I love meeting writers, and ESPECIALLY ones who read my blog.

I'm off to put together my next blog post for tomorrow, because it is a special one! Remember the cover reveal contest for NEVER ENOUGH I've been going on about....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#Nanowrimo Prep: Mapping it Out

I've spent the last week narrowing down my ideas (I had three loglines for three different projects and I've decided on one). So now I basically have a main character, a goal, and an antagonist. I feel like I have the A and the Z. Now it's just a matter of filling out B through Y, which, yeah okay, that IS a lot of letters.

So what I plan to work on this week is filling in just a few key scenes in my novel outline. I'm going to try to visual three scenes that will either help my main character toward her goal or prevent her from reaching it (I hope to find a little more about my antagonist in the process too!)
Because I want these to be strong scenes, full of conflict, I’ll be asking myself questions such as: What’s most important to my character? What would happen if I took that away? Where should my protagonist and antagonist first meet in the novel? From a distance or up close? In public, where they may have to put up a front and there are lots of undercurrents to the scene, or in private, which might put my MC in more danger? What would be a good setting for the climax of the novel? What would it take to get my MC to that place?

So what I hope to have by next week is something like this:

A – What state my MC will be in at the beginning of the book
C – An early success for my character toward her goal
F – A major opposition to my MC’s goal
T – Possibly a climax scene, or at least a climax setting
Z – What the outcome of the story will be

I don’t know that I’ll fill in all the letters from A-Z, but I still have lots of my MC’s journey to fill in. This is just a start to help get me dreaming about my new book. I still have extra characters and subplots to add, plus make my MC’s journey a lot fuller.

If you’re continuing to plan for NaNo, I’d love to hear what you’ve been doing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

GCC Presents Kristina Springer and JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS!

I'm excited to welcome Kristina Springer and spotlight her latest release JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS!
On sale 10/11/11 by FSG/Macmillan

Book Summary:
Jamie Edwards has loved everything about growing up on a pumpkin patch, but ever since her cousin Milan Woods arrived, things have really stunk. Jamie can’t imagine it was easy for Milan to leave her life back in Los Angeles and move to Average, Illinois, population one thousand. But it’s kind of hard to feel sorry for her since (a) Milan’s drop-dead gorgeous; (b) she’s the daughter of two of Hollywood’s hottest film stars; (c) she’s captured the attention of everyone in town, including Danny, Jamie’s crush since forever; and (d) she’s about to steal the title of Pumpkin Princess right out from underneath Jamie!

Praise for Just Your Average Princess:
 “This cheerful and heartwarming novel set in a small town will appeal to teens who enjoy YA chick lit.” --VOYA

“It was such a quick and cute read! The dialogue contained a generous amount of wit and snark. As a fan of both, it heightened my enjoyment  of Just Your Average Princess even more. I really enjoyed Kristina Springer’s style of writing as well as the cast of characters she created in Just Your Average Princess.”
--The Fiction Enthusiast

“Springer does an excellent job capturing the fall setting, and describing the pumpkin patch. So much so, that I found myself wishing I could find the place and go there! Overall, this is a fun lighthearted read that is sure to entertain. Definitely a perfect fit for the season.”
-Melissa from Goodreads, Teen Librarian

About the author:
Kristina Springer is also the author of The Espressologist, a Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, and My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, which Meg Cabot calls, “Irresistible as a fluffy kitten. I laughed out loud and so will you!” You can visit her online at, follow her on Twitter @TinaSpringer, or friend her on Facebook at
The Interview:
Welcome, Kristina! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?
Pumpkin Patch Girl vs. Hollywood Princess.

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
Milan. She’s so bad she’s good!

What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. It’s such a long road but worth it.

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 journaled and wrote loads of way angsty poetry.

What's the last book you read that you really loved?
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Thanks, Kristina, and all the best with JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Naming Characters

I've been working on several outlines lately, and one of the most time-consuming things for me is picking the right names. Names always carry with them a set of expectations. Sometimes I like to break those expectations (like in LOSING FAITH, I used Tessa--a name I would normally think of as a soft name--for the tough chick in the novel).

A big problem I have when choosing names is that I'm from a different generation than most of the characters I write about. In each novel I write, there's usually at least one name that has to be updated into this decade. In NEVER ENOUGH, it was the older sister's best friend, originally Susan, which I updated to Jasmine.

Here's another stumbling block: names that sound or look too much alike on the page. In NEVER ENOUGH, one of the main character's names is Marcus. That was fine until the mom of the protagonist--Marcia--came into the picture. Worse, yet, my protagonist was originally calling her mother by her first name! She's now referred to as "Mom" through most of the book, and "Beth" on odd occasion.

A few other things I try to keep in mind are not having too many names starting with the same letter, watching out for rhyming names, varying the length of names (too many four-letter names, for example, can get confusing).

I don't have too much problem changing names in later drafts of books if it's a secondary character. But for main characters, I shudder at the thought of having to change their names. So I try really hard at the outlining stage to at least nail down a protagonist, antagonist, and love interest name that I'm really happy with .

My biggest aim with my MC is to make sure it's a likeable name that won't get annoying over time, and will be memorable. One of my critique partners had the most likeable names EVER for her MC and love interest (not sure if she'd want me to disclose them or not) but I always use these names as kind of a measuring stick when I'm thinking up my own character names.

So I'm curious...what are some of the most likeable, memorable character names you've read?

Here's a list of a few of my favorites in published fiction that I can think of off the top of my head (which have been done, so I wouldn't use these, but I always think of these, and what makes them likeable when I'm brainstorming). These are in no particular order:


There are many more, but that's just the top of my head list. What do you think makes a name likeable and/or memorable? Or do you think the name doesn't matter and it's only the character development that matters?