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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Angie Smibert and MEMENTO NORA!

I'm excited to welcome another Class of 2k11 author to the blog! Angie Smibert's debut novel, MEMENTO NORA, releases April 1, 2011 from Marshall Cavendish. It is science fiction, YA, for ages 13 and up.

Welcome Angie! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?
near-future science fiction dystopian "thriller" (for lack of a better term)

Sounds great! Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your debut novel and why?
Winter Nomura. She's a manic artist who builds a kinetic sculpture garden in her backyard.  She was fun to create, and she would probably be fascinating to hang out with in real life.

Can you tell my readers a little bit more about yourself?
I was born in Blacksburg, a once sleepy college town in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a veterinarian; organic chemistry had other ideas. But I always had stories in my head. Eventually, after a few degrees and few cool jobs—including a 10-year stint at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center—I wrote some of those stories down. I’ve published many short stories, for both adults and teens. Memento Nora is my first novel.

What's been the most surprising thing about your path to publication so far?
I've been extraordinarily lucky.  I sold Memento Nora after attending a regional SCBWI conference. One of the great things about those conferences is that editors and agents typically allow attendees to submit directly to them for a short time. I sent the manuscript to three of the editors there, one of them being Marilyn Brigham at Marshall Cavendish. And, she eventually bought it.

What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Go to SCBWI conferences. (See #5). Oh, and if an editor asks you if you'd be willing to revise and resubmit, do it!

Are you swept up with promotion for your debut book right now or can you give us a sentence or two about something new you're working on?
On top of all the promotional stuff, I'm working on the sequel to Memento Nora.

What did you write when you were a teen? Did you journal? Write poetry? Write overly literary or emotional stories? Or avoid writing altogether?
In high school, I was on the school newspaper and in honors English, but I didn't write any fiction. For some reason, it never occurred to me as a teen to write stories. 

What's the last book you read that you really loved?
Right now, I'm reading the Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's especially good as an audiobook since Death is the one telling the story.

Yes, I loved that one too! If readers want to find out more about you and your writing, where
should they look?
My website:
My book website: www.
My Facebook:,,
My Twitter:,
I blog every Thursday at the League of Extraordinary Writers:

Thanks so much for visiting today, Angie, and all the very best with your debut!

Monday, March 28, 2011

MARCH MADNESS Check-In Day 28!

Whew! We're in the last week, folks! Is it just me, or did that go by crazy-fast?

I've read on a Twitter that a couple of your have already met or surpassed your goals!!! Huge congratulations to you and I hope you are celebrating really, really well!!

I think one of the main themes of this year's MARCH MADNESS has been changing goals. I seem to read about that several times at each check in. And because I like jumping on bandwagons...I guess I'm changing my goals too! I think the important thing is to realize when your goals NEED changing. And mine definitely do.

Even though we're only three days away from the end, I know I won't reach my original goals, even if I pulled all-nighters. And I would imagine my writing would be much poorer if I did that! So I've reset goals as far as restructuring and outlining and I plan to be ready to launch into revision mode by April the first. So those of you who were asking if we can continue? You bet! Right here each Monday!

My other goal was to complete a revision of a different work in progress, but that went by the wayside when I got some agent feedback and realized I needed to revamp my outline. For now, by the end of the month, I'm hoping to have my synopsis and first three chapters ready on that one.

I'm so glad we're continuing, because otherwise I would totally miss you guys!!! It's been wonderful hanging out with you through the month of March.

Whether or not you continue on with us into April, if you've been involved with MARCH MADNESS, you'll want to stop by here on April 1st. I promise I won't play any April Fools Day tricks on you, but there will be other fun stuff to talk about, including some great prizes and how we're planning to give them away. I'm trying to work it out so people get their choice of prizes and aren't stuck with something they don't want.

Speaking of's one last winner from My Bookshelf Giveaway! And the winner is...


Congratulations! Pick a book from one of the below two pictures, (and yes, I snuck a copy of LOSING FAITH in there this week), send me your choice along with your mailing address to d (at) denisejaden (dot) com and I'll get it out to you as soon as I can!!

So I don't have much else inspiring for you today, except GO GO GO!!! We're in the last stretch! Push yourself and see how much you can accomplish in the next three days! Sprint to the finish line, everybody!

And don't forget to stop by Shana's blog tomorrow!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Four!

1. I got another editorial letter for book two, formerly known as APPETITE FOR BEAUTY. Yes, the title needs to change. The team at Simon Pulse felt it sounded too adult, and so we're looking for something else. I've been racking my brain and I'd love suggestions, but I honestly don't have the time or brain power to come up with a proper synopsis. Here's my best attempt: it's a sister story, told by the awkward younger sister, living in the shadow of her almost-perfect older sister and watching her struggle with a severe eating disorder. It also involves photography. And drama/set design. And a boy. Yes, let's not forget the boy! His name is Marcus and I love him. Just sayin'.

So I know that's probably not enough to go on to give me title suggestions, but if anything does jump to mind, I'd love to hear it. And if you've ever read an early version of this book and have any suggestions, of course I'd love to hear those too!

2. Aside from that, the editorial letter has a few other huge changes, including restructuring the first 80 pages and some other big stuff. My revision due date is April 18th, so if you don't hear from me as much as usual, please don't take it personally :-).

3. March Madness is almost over! I can't believe how fast it has gone! I'm really excited by all the great progress I've seen and I hope to get going on drawing prizes, possibly  as soon as April 1st. Oh, and many of my comrades wanted to keep in touch and keep up on their projects through April (I sure need to!) so we're going to continue to check in and update each other on our progress right here on Mondays through April. Even if you didn't participate in March Madness, feel free to join in on the fun any time! We'd love to have you!

4. Also, it's probably pretty late to mention this, but we have a hashtag on Twitter. #marchmadness got bombarded by basketball and then other book-related contests, then #bookmadness got taken over as well. So we've settled on #wipmadness. You'll find us chatting under that hashtag from time to time about our progress.

Sorry this Friday Four was very writing-focused, but honestly, that's about all that's going on in my mind at the moment! I hope you all have a great weekend! See you back for March Madness Check-In on Monday!! (And if you haven't checked in today yet, head on over to Craig's blog.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Would You Rather Wednesday: Goals

In light of March Madness, I thought I'd direct our game toward the area of goals this week.

Remember, the only rule here is you're not allowed to say either or neither. You must pick one! I'll be back later with my own answers. Have fun!!

1. Would you rather...set too-lofty goals and fall short or set too-meager goals and surpass them?

2. Would you rather...keep your goals private with low-pressure, telling only one or two people, or share them with the whole world, thereby adding strong accountability and humiliation factor?

3. Would you rather...set three goals for the year and achieve them all, or set twenty goals for the year and achieve five of them?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Auction For Japan and a Special Honor!

Write Hope has put together an auction to support the relief efforts in Japan. They have gathered kidlit items including signed books and critiques to auction off. Yesterday a signed copy of LOSING FAITH was offered, and I believe that auction will be up for 72 hours. The book will be provided and signed by yours truly, and I'd be happy to sign it to you directly if you win. If you were thinking of buying some new books anyway, please check out the auction for some other great choices of books and let your money go to a good cause.

Since I've been seeing info about this all around the Internet, and because there is now an official listing, I think it's fine for me to announce the following...

LOSING FAITH is a finalist for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards! This is an award voted on by SCBWI members in each region, and I'm very thankful that many people in my region (Canada, Mexico, Central & South America) felt that my book deserved this honor. I'm thrilled to see my name among the awesome list of finalists!

If you're a SCBWI member, make sure to stop by the SCBWI website and vote for a finalist in your region.

Here's the full listing if you're interested, and congrats to many of my writer friends --Eileen Cook, Irene Latham, Sydney Salter, Holly Cupala, Christina Diaz Gonzales, Jandy Nelson, Jessica Leader, Matthew Kirby, Kimberly Little, Tammi Saurer-- to name a few, who are also on the list!

Monday, March 21, 2011

MARCH MADNESS Check-In Day 21!

Week Three! You know what that means, don't you? It means that if you're still here, you WILL succeed in making it until the end! It's also a known fact that March Madness participants who make it until the third week are 97% more likely to succeed with their goals. (It's also a known fact that 72% of statistics are made up on the spot.)

Anyway, I'm thrilled at how many of you are still here! I think almost all of us have had challenging days (or even weeks) since the beginning of March, but the difference between us and the rest of the world is that we've come back to try again. Perseverance. It's an essential quality for success.

My husband often quotes Batman (during his training) to our seven year old son:
Husband: Bruce, why do we fall down?
Son: So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.

You, all of you, have learned to pick yourselves back up again. So congratulations for that! Many people just give up when faced with a little bit of adversity. While we here are all rockin March Madness! Great to have you along for the journey!!!

I've drawn another random winner to pick a book from my shelves! This week, the winner is...
Jeni Bell!!!

Congratulations, Jeni! Please pick something from my shelves below (I've added a few new ones this week!) and email your choice, along with your address to d (at) denisejaden (dot) com

Don't forget to log your progress below and head over to Shana Silver's blog to check-in tomorrow!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Four!

1.The March Madness Check-in is up at Craig's blog this morning. Please keep Craig and his family in your prayers, as he's in Japan and things have been looking ugly over there. Also, Craig has some information posted of how you can help through The Red Cross if you're able to.

2.Thanks so much to everyone for your encouragement on my Before/After Publication post the other day. It's always nice to remember how much we all have in common.

3. Remember when I mentioned I was organizing my taxes (and how much I hated it?) Yeah, well, my dear, sweet husband came along this week and said, "Oh. Yeah. I forgot to give you all this stuff." I'm not sure I can express on a blog post exactly how I feel about suddenly having to dive back into the murky, suffocating ocean of our tax life.

4. Two little pieces of good news this week: I sent my agent my proposal for FINDING HOPE, a companion novel to LOSING FAITH, and she really likes it! She loves the voice and thinks the story arc works. She has a few notes, so now I'm awaiting those.

Also, LOSING FAITH is in a foreign rights catalog to be shopped in Bologna this month! Even better, my book is on the first page!! If you're interested, you can check it out here.

And, okay, I have one more piece of good news, but I'm not sure if I'm actually allowed to share it yet. But...if you're a member of SCBWI, you may be able to figure it out...

How about you? Any news this week? Anything exciting happening this weekend?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Before and After Being a Published Author

It's been six months since LOSING FAITH, my first published novel hit the shelves! SIX MONTHS! Already!!! I'm excited by this milestone and have been celebrating, but it has also made me a little introspective about the whole process.

So today I thought I'd share with you an honest post about how my thoughts and attitudes and practices have changed through the process.

I doubt if I'm a reflection of all other writers or even a majority, but one thing I've noticed is that for me, there seems to be something magical about the six-month-post-publication mark. Things have changed for me once again, so I'll share a bit about those changes too.

Note - these are in no particular order, just the order I thought of them. And also I know it's probably full of typos, but I'm busy with March Madness, so please try to ignore those sorts of things.

In each of the following areas, I'll let you know what I thought, how I felt, or what I did:
1. Before my first book came out
2. After my book came out
3. 6 months after my book came out

Before - I thought I had thick skin. The thickest skin. I'd been a dancer and taken plenty of criticism for over thirty years. I figured I could accept any amount of harsh criticism of my book, because really, hadn't I done that already through several years of editing and revisions? At this point I knew some people would love my book, some people would not, and that was totally okay with me.

After -  Omigosh, my book is in print and there's NOTHING I can do to fix the problems people are pointing out! Besides that, this has been my dream to see my book baby out there, but there's this one reviewer who's going out and telling people not only how much she hated it, but also instructing people NOT to buy my book! I want so badly to write to her and engage in Bad Author Behavior, and it's almost impossible not to. Instead I'll cry myself to sleep.

6 months after - I can honestly say that things have changed. I can get through entire days, sometimes entire weeks without checking GoodReads to see what people are saying about LOSING FAITH. When I do check out reviews, even if they're negative ones, they no longer send me into a defensive tailspin. But I have come to realize that reviews are really a whole different beast from critiques, and there's not much you can do to prepare yourself for that difference. During my early post-pub days, I honestly thought this time would never come where I could relax, take a step back, and have some perspective. I thought I was just more neurotic than every other author out there and I would never stop caring what people thought. But I can honestly say, I'm back to caring about my writing and my characters more than anything and enjoying writing what's in me. The anxiety of what others think has mostly died down. But I'll tell you, in some ways, the last six months were the longest of my life.

Before - I would have been happy if I sold a few books to people who would love it.

After - I started to think of it more as a business. My books need to sell if I'm going to continue to write and publish. Not only that, but I've seen how much my agent and editor and publishing team have put into my little debut book, and they all need to make a living. It's now important to sell a zillion copies - for them more than for me.

6 month after - Sales is pretty much my biggest concern when it comes to LOSING FAITH. Will I sell enough to make my agent and editor and publisher and favorite bookstores happy?

Bestseller lists
Before - If enough people really liked my book, maybe it would hit a bestseller list. Wouldn't that be awesome and exciting and wonderful!?

After - It seems like people know when a book is going to hit the bestseller list, and since no one knew with mine, I guess it probably won't, but I still don't really understand how it all works.

6 months after - I'm understanding more and more about lists, and they usually involve a big publisher push and large initial print runs. It's easier to see this as something with less gray area now, less wondering and getting hopes up or down. I'm truly happy for friends that make "the list" and no longer feel even a twinge of jealousy. Again, I'm feeling much more distanced and seeing it all much more in terms of business decisions.

The Writing
 Before - I wrote or revised or otherwise worked on one of my books every day. Or at least six days per week.

After - During my book launch, life got crazy and I took a few weeks off from writing, but came back to my writing schedule quickly.

6 months after - I continue to write daily, plugging along, hoping for the best. In general, my writing schedule hasn't changed that much since I first got serious about it.

Time, and how much of it I feel like I have
Before - it seemed like I had about 23 hours in a day. Being a writer, at least for me, has the effect of making me feel like I have just a little bit less time than everyone else in the world.

After - I could swear I only have six or seven hours a day, whereas everyone else has 24. But I'll make it work. I'm a machine.  People don't really NEED six hours of sleep a night, do they? I'll eat while I homeschool my son, or wait, maybe we don't really have time for school today...

6 months after - life has gone back to normal. Normal for a writer, anyway. I still feel like I have a little less hours in a day than others, perhaps 22 hours per day now, since I need to find some time for promo and marketing and interviews, but this is definitely a pace I can keep up.

Next  and future books
Before - publishing future books sounded like a nice idea, but one that I wasn't terribly concerned with. Getting my foot in the door, seeing a book with my name on it on bookstore shelves - those were the things that mattered.

After - Oh gosh, am I going to be a One Hit Wonder? Or worse, what if my one and only book isn't even a hit? What if this thing I've worked hard for and dreamed about is over in pretty much the blink of an eye? What if only five copies of my book sell, and publishers never want to hear from me again? Every struggling-to-get-published writer would give almost anything to be in my shoes, and what if I mess it all up and can't find a single other thing my editor, or any editor, likes?

6 months after - Well, I sold another book, so I'm not a One Hit Wonder. And the review anxiety has subsided, so I'm not terribly stressed about how my next book will be received. Of course this could certainly just be the calm before the storm...

Before - The literary awards were one of my main goals. Once I got a book out there, if some committee from some organization recognized it as noteworthy, I would have achieved remarkable success, at least in my own mind.

After - Wow, there are a lot of awards, and many, many that I've never even heard of! But also, there are a lot of books. A LOT more books than there are awards! And there are a lot of books winning awards that I didn't even really care for. This awards process really is very subjective.

6 months after - I'm okay with the fact that my book hasn't won any big awards to this point. (It has been recognized and nominated, which I'm very grateful for, but no actual awards to list after the name of the book or anything). I'm starting to think in these terms: If I won a big award with my first book, in some ways it would seem too easy, and I think I'd value awards a lot less in my mind. Also, I wonder if future books would feel like failures if they didn't achieve the same award status as the first.

Promo & Marketing
Before - I had heard various stories from other authors about what works and what doesn't. I wanted to try a bit of everything, since it was my first time out of the gate.

After - Trying a bit of everything is harder than it sounds! Where has all my time gone? Does my family know who I am anymore? When can I stop this insane blogging schedule without anyone noticing?

6 months after - I think I did a bit too much, but I honestly can't pin point anything I would change! Going to BEA last year probably didn't help my book any, but I had the time of my life hanging with writing buddies, getting my hands on exciting new ARC's, attending publishing cocktail parties, and presenting my book in a few co-author events. My blog tour was a lot of work, but also a ton of fun. I can barely pull myself away from blogging and tweeting now, though it definitely takes up far less time than it used to. I don't know if I'd mail postcards out to bookstores again. I had a few positive responses, but that took a lot of time and effort.

Cover art
Before - My cover has to be amazing to sell my book. I don't know exactly what that should be - I'm not a visual artist or anything, but I could envision some kind of girl on a cliff. Whatever it is, it has to be perfect and I was so nervous to see it for the first time.

After - There are so many different tastes in cover art. My publisher has some very talented people on staff and I'll trust them that the cover of LOSING FAITH is exactly what my book needs.

6 months after -  I've had so many compliments on the cover art of LOSING FAITH! Simon Pulse definitely knew what they were doing, and I'm no longer nervous about what they'll come up with for APPETITE FOR BEAUTY. I'm truly excited to see what visual they think will go with the book and I don't have any pre-conceived ideas with this one. I admit, I will be excited the first time I get a cover that has a real-life photo shoot and live model to go with it, but I'm in no rush for that.

Before - As a fairly new reader, I'd picked up several books because of blurbs from well-known authors, because I often didn't know where to look for my next book. When it came to my own book, I thought it was important to get at least one well-known author behind it. My editor and publisher didn't think blurbs were as important and so I personally went after only one blurb, but the author was too busy to read my book at the time.

After - I was pretty jealous of other author-friends who had great blurbs on their books.

6 months after - From what I've heard, it's pretty clear to me that blurbs really don't sell books. But I think they're still nice to have. I'd really like to get at least one blurb for APPETITE FOR BEAUTY, but I've also heard that going after blurbs can be a very uncomfortable process. Still, I'm a bit sad that LOSING FAITH didn't have one, though not jealous anymore. I definitely hope to get at least one in the future.

Before - When I was just out of high school, I pursued acting and I wanted to be famous. As I got closer to getting my first book published, though, my attitude changed a little. It was a bit odd having people know who I was and recognize me, even just online. I started to feel like I had to watch everything I said everywhere I went.

After - During and just after launch, I felt like a ping-pong ball, being bounced between realms where people knew me and loved my writing, and people having no idea who I was or why they should care at all about me (even bookstore managers!). It was a strange place to be. I started to feel uncomfortable leaving my house looking grubby, just in case I ran into people who had heard of me.

6 months after - I'm happy once again to go to the grocery store or gym in my sweat pants and glasses when I need to. As far as fame goes, I've decided that I don't really want to be a Stephanie Meyer, and honestly, I'd love to sell a zillion books for my publisher's sake, but this little tiny taste of fame is quite enough for me.

Presentations and Speaking Engagements
Before - I don't have anything worthy to say.

After - I don't have anything worthy to say, but if I have any opportunities, it would probably be helpful for book sales if I pretended I did.

6 months after - Maybe I have a few worthy things to say, but I don't think I'm organized enough or have enough time to put them into an enjoyable presentation. Maybe one day.

That's what I've come up with so far. I feel like just in the last couple of weeks I've been given a huge dose of Perspective - something you're not allowed to get a prescription for until you've been published for at least five months. And I'm sure there are different and higher quality dosages of Perspective to come, but this is just what I've found so far and where I'm at. I hope it helps for people who are pursuing/waiting for publication. And for those who have been through it, I look forward to hearing if you've found any similarities in yourself!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Angela Cerrito and THE END OF THE LINE!

I'm happy to welcome another Elevensie to the blog today, Angela Cerrito. Angela's debut novel, THE END OF THE LINE, released March 11, 2011 from Holiday House. It is Contemporary YA, for ages 12 and up.

Welcome, Angela! Please tell me about your book in seven words or less.
 Robbie is stuck in Great Oaks School … forever?

Oooh, sounds interesting! Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in
your debut novel and why?
 Ryan. Because he cares for others even though he hasn’t had anyone to care for him. I also love that he doesn’t try to fit in; he simply “is.”

Can you tell my readers a little something about yourself:
Right now my home feels a bit empty since the loss of our dear big dog, Max, almost a year ago. 

Aww, I know how hard that can be. What's been the most surprising thing about your path to publication so far?
I’m an American living overseas so sometimes it feels like I’m in a unique situation. I have my feet in both worlds but don’t exactly “belong” to either one. It was a huge surprise to discover another American ex-pat living in the EU who is having her book published this year, same month, same publishing house and the same editor. Also both of our books have secondary characters who deploys to Iraq. I’m excited to read POSSUM SUMMER and I hope one day to meet the writer Jenn K. Blom. (

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

Yes, I love SCBWI! Are you swept up with promotion for your debut book right now or can you
give us a sentence or two about something new you're working on?
I’m working on two very different biographies, one is a very silly picture book, the other is for teens. I’m also revising a YA novel.

What did you write when you were a teen? Did you journal? Write poetry? Write overly literary or emotional stories? Or avoid writing altogether?
Poetry, really horrible poetry!

What's the last book you read that you really loved?
I just finished XVI by Julia Karr and I loved it.

Oh, that's another one I'm excited for! If readers want to find out more about you and your writing, where should they look?

Thanks so much for stopping by, Angela, and all the very best with your debut!

Angela does have a book trailer for THE END OF THE LINE, but so far it's only recorded in German. If you're interested in seeing more (or if you're bilingual!) here's a link!

Monday, March 14, 2011

MARCH MADNESS Check-In Day 14!

I'm thrilled to hear of all the great progress going on! Aside from the comments, I've received several emails telling me of more personal victories or areas people really didn't think they could overcome. I'm blown away and terribly thankful that this has been so helpful for so many people!

One participant told me that March Madness was so helpful for her last year that she wanted to give something back this year. Aside from all the wonderful prizes we have up for grabs already, Joan Stradling is offering a custom-made bookmark to one random winner (open internationally!) who participates throughout March Madness. She can make it with almost any color or charm of your choosing, and she sent me a few sample pictures, including her own bookmark she made for LOSING FAITH!

Aren't they gorgeous?! If you didn't already have enough reason to remember to check-in, now you do!

Onto this week's progress....

If you're anything like me, when inspiration starts to warble, you find a new path of inspiration...possibly somewhere else.

I've been plodding along on my WIP, generally doing well and moving ahead, and I don't know if it's the Week Two Blues or what, but lately I've just been feeling a little bored. I don't think it means my book is no good. In fact, I don't think it has anything at all to do with this book. I think it's just part of being a consistent and committed writer.

The part that makes this stage even more difficult--and please tell me if I'm alone here--is that right at the point I'm feeling ho-hum about my current work, two other amazingly brilliant ideas have hit me square in the face.

I don't think this is unusual. In fact I've checked back through emails I've written to friends, and this same thing has happened to me many times before. I'm proud to say that so far the new bright shiny thing has not come in and stolen away all of my writing mojo. I don't let it. And neither should you. You see, every new story will seem bright and shiny and wonderful at its conception, but every story idea will also come with its own set of struggles and pitfalls. If you jump from one work to another just because the new thing looks better at the time, I hate to break it to you, but you may never finish anything that way.

I'm trying a unique approach this time. I really do want to let my excitement for one of my new story idea have wings and carry me for a little bit, so what I'm going to do is reward myself for working on my current work in progress, my goal for March Madness, by allowing myself a quick brainstorming session at the end of my work each day.

I'll let you know how it goes, but so far over the weekend this plan has been working well. I've been choosing names for my New Bright Story Idea, which is always a lot of fun for me.

How about you? Do you get bombarded with something new and enticing when you're trying to push through on a goal? How do you handle it?

Oh yes! I want to give away another book from my shelves to one random winner who has been checking in this week. This week's winner (pick something and email me your choice to d (at) denisejaden (dot) com ) is...

Jennifer Pickrell!!!

And here are your current choices...
(Click on pictures to enlarge.) And I hope to stock it up with a few more books for next week.

Don't forget to tell my about your progress on your goals below, and head on over to Shana Silver's blog for tomorrow's check-in!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How Come Some People Have All The Luck?

This post is part of the official blog tour for Kirsten Hubbard and her release of LIKE MANDARIN! One commenter from today's post will win a swag pack for LIKE MANDARIN, and all commenters will be entered to win a copy of LIKE MANDARIN! (Make sure to leave your email address or a way to contact you.)

The idea behind this guest blog tour was to talk about who we wanted to be like in high school, as Grace, in LIKE MANDARIN, wanted to be just like Mandarin. I got there in kind of a roundabout way, but here are my thoughts on the subject...

Have you ever known someone who just seems to have horseshoes up their a$$? Maybe they win every contest or they're just one of those people who seems to be good at EVERYTHING?

I remember a girl like that I went to high school with. Her name was Chelle (pronounced Shelly), and seriously, she had it all. I was a drama geek, and auditioned for every play my school put on, but Chelle was pretty much guaranteed to get the lead--without being a drama geek. Besides that, she was an honor roll student, had tons of friends, and sang with her amazing voice in a school quartet.

I  hated her.

Okay, I'm lying. I really didn't hate her, because on top of everything else, she was actually a really, really sweet person. URGHHHH!

One thing I've learned over the years, though, is that talent and good fortune don't happen by accident. I'm still working it all out, but there are some things I believe you can do to make yourself into one of these ultra-fortunate people.

1. Speak the positive. There are a lot of people in the world who seem to just accept the sucky things they've been given in life. They say things like "I guess this is the way my life will always be" or "Yup, it sucks to be me." Instead, speak life into your life. "Things will be better tomorrow." or "Things will seem brighter in the morning."

2. Persevere. If you look at any highly accomplished person in any area of life, you'll see they have had to persevere through difficult times to get where they are. Giving up is the easy way, and that's why so many people take that route. Be among the small percentage of people who persevere.

3. Be thankful. I think this is a key quality of successful people. Notice what you DO have and be thankful for it. Take your eyes off of what others have for a few minutes and really focus on your own good fortune. Thankfulness breeds thankfulness (or things to be thankful for) , but at the same time, jealousy breeds jealousy. Make sure you're on the springboard you want to be on!

4. Be good at everything. I know, that sounds like a crazy one, right? How can you really be good at everything? But if you notice the people who are singularly focused, you may notice they have a difficult time being thankful because all they notice is what they're NOT getting in that one area.Try to be good at several things and I think you'll find that things are usually going well in at least one area.

So, in short, I think the people who succeed in so many areas have such good fortune because they try in so many areas. I'm in the middle of reevaluating my goals, but I've decided to set more than just writing goals. I want to set goals in every area of my life: to be a better wife, mom, teacher, dancer, friend, person, and writer. Because I want to be just like Chelle. I want to be one of those people who seems to have all the luck!

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter to win all sorts of fun LIKE MANDARIN goodies!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

World Read Aloud Day!

LitWorld Presents: 
World Read Aloud Day 
March 9, 2011

What would you miss most if you could not read or write? Imagine your world without words.

Let's join together and read aloud for a collective 774 million minutes in support of the 774 million people worldwide who cannot read or write.

With this global rally we show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people and we lend all our voices to the Global Literacy Movement.

Let the children of the world know we believe in the power of words and stories to change their lives.

“I know the day is coming when global literacy isn’t fiction. I don’t know how long it will take, but I know that day will come.”
- 10 year-old World Read Aloud Day Participant

Visit to participate in World Read Aloud Day and to "Read it Forward" and donate to LitWorld's mission to change the world with the power of words.

We are rallying our worldwide participants to link back to our social media sites and our website during the actual day so we can connect everyone to a common hub, and here are ideas on how to participate virtually:

And for my contribution to World Read Aloud day, I've read aloud an excerpt of my novel, LOSING FAITH below. I also plan to read some of my own books aloud today. Because isn't it an amazing thing that we CAN do that?

Enjoy! And happy reading to you all!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Alex Epstein and THE CIRCLE CAST: THE LOST YEARS OF MORGAN LAFAY!

I'm happy to welcome another Elevenzie to the blog today, Alex Epstein, whose debut novel, THE CIRCLE CAST:  THE LOST YEARS OF MORGAN LE FAY, was just released from Tradewind. It is Historical Fantasy for ages 14 and up.

It's currently out in Canada and the UK and will soon be out in the U.S., however it's available through

Welcome Alex! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?
Revenge, magical coming of age, Morgan le Fay

Sounds interesting! Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in
your debut novel and why?
Morgan is a girl who's driven by vengeance for her father's murder. But after years in slavery in Ireland, she escapes to an early Christian settlement run by a woman, Béfind, who's unlike anyone she's ever met before. Béfind is about grace and forgiveness. She tests Morgan in an unexpected way, trying to turn the lies Morgan tells into truth (Morgan's pretending to be Christian). But Béfind isn't sure of her own faith, and the two of them have to grapple with doubt. Ultimately Morgan has to choose between what Béfind is offering and the vengeance that's been keeping her alive; she has to turn her back on grace.

Can you tell my readers a little bit more about yourself?
In my day job, I'm a successful screenwriter. I've written a hit action comedy and co-created a comedy TV series. This book is a passion project straight from the depths of my childhood. I've always wanted to tell this story.

What's been the most surprising thing about your path to publication so far?
How impossibly long it takes to publish a book! In TV, you write a script and a month later they're shooting it, and a month after that they're airing it. It took two years from selling my book to seeing it. That's just crazy.

Yes, it is! What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Outline first. You can write yourself into a mess if you don't have an outline. With an outline, you never have to write a whole book, you just have to write a little section. Then another section. Then another section...
Are you swept up with promotion for your debut book right now or can you give us a sentence or two about something new you're working on?
I'm a working screenwriter, so I'm working on a slew of movie scripts. One of them is KIKI WILDER, a comedy about a 28 year old Montreal girl who just found out that "party girl" is not a career.
Sounds fun! 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 a great deal of poetry. Writing poetry taught me to fuss with the rhythm of sentences. When I'm writing, particularly writing dialogue, I try to be very sensitive to how words flow. I'm not trying for a "poetic" effect now, I'm trying to give a sense of how thoughts come out of someone's head. Anybody can write a well-constructed sentence -- well, any writer -- but to write a badly constructed sentence that sounds truer and is more revealing than a grammatical one -- that's the trick.

What's the last book you read that you really loved?
DECLARE by Tim Powers. It's a spy novel set in our world, except that the djinni exist, and the great powers are trying to use them against each other. The main character is a bastard of surprising ancestry ... and it's all based on some true mysteries about Kim Philby, the famous English double agent and traitor.
If readers want to find out more about you and your writing, where should they look?
I've got a website for the book,, and a blog, too: I also blog extensively about screenwriting at

Great! Thanks so much for visiting, Alex, and all the very best with your debut!

Monday, March 7, 2011


We've made it through our first week, friends! Have some chocolate, some wine, some stuffed jalapeno peppers!!!

Okay, maybe you don't LOVE stuffed jalapeno peppers like I do, but seriously, it's important to celebrate milestones, even small ones. If you've gotten more accomplished in the last week than you would have without March Madness, I want you to take five minutes to do something a little special for yourself today.

And, okay, maybe that's not you at all. Maybe you feel like you've failed miserably. You've barely looked at your work in progress, and maybe you haven't even set any goals yet. That's totally okay! I'm celebrating that you're here right now! We're only seven days in. You still have twenty-four days left this month to make a difference. So do that. Make a difference. Let March be the month that you look back on and say, wow, I got a LOT done that month!

As for my progress, I'm neither ecstatic nor discouraged. I've been getting bits and pieces done each day, but no extravagant jumps so far. SO FAR, I say, because I still have hope! I've faced some obstacles and been able to climb over them. But climbing, of course, takes time. So all in all, I'm feeling good. I've been continuing to get up early in the mornings and keeping my Internet off for the first half hour of the day (that's still the most I can handle!) That's up until Friday, of course. The weekend, sigh, was the weekend, and I'll admit, I fell a little off the wagon.

How about you? Did you work through the weekend, or spend it watching all six Star Wars movies like I did? Come on fess up! Or inspire us. You must do one or the other...

And don't forget to head over to Shana Silver's blog for check-in tomorrow!

ETA: Oops, I almost forgot to award a book from my shelves to one lucky Goal-Setter! So...the choice of books this week goes to...


Pick a book from below and email me the name along with your mailing address to d(at)denisejaden(dot)com  Congratulations!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Four!

1. I'm sure you've all heard of March Madness--not the basketball frenzy, but the writing, reading, and blogging frenzy! If you haven't set some goals yet and joined in on the fun (and believe me, it IS fun!) here's the place you want to go to do that. It's absolutely NOT too late to join. We'd love to have you!

If you've been hanging out with us all week, today the place you'll want to share your triumphs and woes is over at Craig Pirrall's Blog.

2. I've heard from other authors lately that the Amazon Affiliate Program is a pretty cool thing. So I'm trying it out. I've got a little Amazon-ish store on my website now, and I've tried to add a widget to my blog, though that one doesn't seem to be running quite as smoothly. This is what I thought was cool and why I decided to join: Apparently if anyone clicks through to Amazon through one of my links, if they buy ANYTHING, even if they don't buy my book, I get a kickback on it. And since, you know, I'm going to spend money on new books anyway...I might as well have Amazon chip in a little to that fund. So if you're planning to make a purchase on Amazon anyway, I'd love it if you'd click through my website to get there!

3. LiveJournal has kind of slipped my mind lately. I try to always cross-post between my two blogs, but I often set Blogger up to post automatically, then I completely forget to come back here and cross-post it to LJ (LJ won't let me set things in advance to post). So apologies to anyone who follows me on LJ, but if you want to make sure you don't miss out on anything REALLY important, because you know how often I post REALLY important stuff...I'd suggest heading over to my Blogger blog and clicking follow over there. I will attempt to keep cross-posting here, but it just may slip my mind sometimes.

4. I'm getting ready to go away on a little reading/writing break and I'm so very, terribly, incredibly, monumentally excited! I never really get enough time at home to sink myself into projects anymore and I think this will give me a chance to really re-center myself. I went on one of these "breaks" a couple of years ago and it was so refreshing.  I may even return using less adverbs!

5. I guess it's a Friday Five again. My family is doing a Star Wars Weekend this weekend. We're watching all six of the movies (plus possibly a couple of Ewok cartoons) back to back. I'm a mild fan of Star Wars, but my husband and son are big fans and so we have a whole weekend of yummy foods and jammies planned. We've been looking forward to this for a while. At least most of us have. Oh, and I'm going to pin my hair into two buns on either side of my head. LOL.

What are you up to this weekend? Whatever it is, may the force be with you...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Would You Rather Wednesday: Rejection

First, don't forget to check in for March Madness! Today's check in is right here.

If you're a writer trying to get published, or even one who has been published, you've probably faced rejection. Even if you haven't pursued publishing, you've probably faced rejection in some area. It's one of those common denominator experiences of being human.

It's never pleasant. So none of these are particularly appealing options, but you have to pick the lesser evil:
1. Would you the reject-or or the reject-ee?

2. Would you rejected in a long, heartfelt way that you know you and your rejector will remember forever, or in a short, sweet way that you will both easily forget?

3. Would you rather...receive detailed but harsh reasons of why you're being rejected, or oodles of praise about your good points to soften the blow?

And one more bonus question...Would you rather be rejected by mail, email, phone, or in person?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Bettina Restrepo and ILLEGAL!

March Madness Begins...don't forget to check in over at Shana Silver's Blog!!

But onto today's post! Today I'd like to welcome Bettina Restrepo, a debut author from the Class of 2k11. Bettina's first novel, ILLEGAL will be released March 11, 2011 from HarperCollins, a Katherine Tegen Book. It is contemporary YA for ages 12 and up.

Welcome Bettina! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?
Family, friendship, finding your voice, illegal immigration.

Sounds great! Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in
your debut novel and why?

I dearly love Mr. Mann. He is homeless and rarely speaks in the novel. But, he sits on the corner with a sign asking for money. He has less than 100 words in the book – but he speaks volumes.

Please share a little bit about yourself with my readers.
I’m a mommy, twice a day dog walker and a wife (besides writer). I once knew how to cook, but now only make things that wish you had ordered take out. I generally tell bawdy jokes, have quite a spiritual quiet side, and have a compulsive cleaning habit. I also like Legos but hate video games.

Yes, I'll take Legos over video games too. What's been the most surprising thing about your path to publication so far?
That I like writing books much more than publicizing them.

What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Not everything you write should be for publication. Writing is art, publication is business. Be the artist first.

Great advice! Are you swept up with promotion for your debut book right now, Bettina, or can you
give us a sentence or two about something new you're working on?
Just finished my next book, Telenovela. Telenovelas are Latin soap operas that are crazy. So, just think – high school musical meets foreign exchange students on Telemundo. (It’s a comedy… I needed to laugh)

What did you write when you were a teen? Did you journal? Write poetry?
I only wrote assignments for school, and I believe my high school English teachers loathed me. I finally dropped out of honors English – only to find out the basketball coach who reinspired me to read. The reading led me back to writing.

What's the last book you read that you really loved?
Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. A fictional memoir of her Grandmother who was really bad a#$, back when women weren’t that way.

Also, The Year We Were Famous, by Carole Estby Dagg (debuting in April) – 2 women WALKED from Spokane to NYC in 400 days back in the early 1900’s. I stayed up all night reading. Even though it was historical fiction – I found it so relevant! (it’s considered MG, but read so much better!)

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

They can also see my crazy videos on I like to ‘hunt’ for our debut titles as they come out. I’ll be trying to do a video for each book at 2k11. 

Thanks so much for visiting, Bettina, and all the very best with your debut!