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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MARCH MADNESS IS HERE!!! #wipmadness

If you’ve been looking for a challenge to get your writing in gear, you’ve come to the right place! Through the month of March we will be cheering each other on to meet challenging goals with our writing.

Also, this year we've decided to open up the challenge to Readers, Bloggers, and Illustrators. Anyone who wants to challenge themselves regarding books and win prizes for it!

Today is goal-setting day! 
(But if you don't make it here on the first day, not to worry. Feel free to add your writing goals here any time during the month of March).

March Madness officially begins tomorrow, and this is how it will work.

1. You set a goal here (anything writing, reading, blogging, or otherwise book related). It can be as small and simple of a goal as turning off your Internet while you write during the month of March. Or it can be as large as writing or revising an entire book.

2. You check in daily through the month of March at our designated check-in points. Let us know how you're doing with your goal. Share your victories and struggles. Encourage others. The key is support and camaraderie.

3. We give you prizes just for stopping by and letting us know how you're doing, and for encouraging others!

Sounds easy and fun, right?! The following will be the check-in points for the month of March. We plan to have check-in posts up and running by 9AM PST (noon EST) each day.

Mondays – LS Taylor will host at
– Denise Jaden will host at
– Angelina Hansen will host at
– Anne Hale will host at
– Deb Marshall will host at
– Jaye Robin Brown will host at
– Shari  Green will host at

The prizes! We have some truly awesome prizes up for grabs this year! If you've followed my blog, you know about My Bookshelf Giveaways. I'll be opening up one of my bookshelves for people to choose something from throughout the month, starting today! I'll be giving away a book from my shelves to one person who comments below with their goals within the next 24 hours!

Some other goodies that are up for grabs (these are in no particular order and have been donated by my generous co-hosts for this event!):

First page critique by agent Katie Grimm from Don Congdon Associates
(Courtesy of Angelina Hansen)

Ten page critique by agent Michelle Humphrey from Martha Kaplan Agency (Courtesy of Denise Jaden)

Advance copy of ARTICLE FIVE by Kristen Simmons
(Courtesy of Jaye Robin Brown)

  (Courtesy of Shari Green)

Query and 10-page critique (Courtesy of Anne Hale)

Copyedit critique of 50 pages (Courtesy of Laura Taylor)

(2 e-copies up for grabs!) (Courtesy of Deb Marshall)

(Courtesy of Laura Taylor)

Many bookshelf giveaways (Courtesy of Denise Jaden)

Isn’t that quite the ARSENAL of prizes?! Wow, thank you all!!

AND…thank also to Anne Hale, we have a fabulous badge for this year’s event. It’s on the sidebar and also below, so go ahead and post it somewhere proudly and link it back to this post.

Here are my goals for the month of March: Get up half an hour earlier and write first thing each day. Turn off the Internet for morning writing. Re-write (from scratch) my WIP novel, FINDING HOPE. Yes, the entire thing.


Don't forget to leave your goal(s) in the comments below, and head on over to   tomorrow for your first check-in! Remember, the more you check-in and encourage others, the better chance you have of winning some great prizes!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Vancouver Public Library Event!

Hey Friends....a week from today, I'll be speaking on a panel at the Vancouver Public Library. Details are on the poster below. If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by and say hi. I will have shiny new bookmarks...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog Tour Stop: IT'S A LITTLE HAYWIRE by Elle Strauss!

My good friend Elle Strauss is releasing her first middle grade book this week (If you haven't checked out her first YA, CLOCKWISE, you really should!) Read on to find out how you can read this book for absolutely FREE!

Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
 Owen True is eleven and eleven twelfths and has been “exiled” to the small crazy town of Hayward, WA, aka Haywire, while his mother is on her honeymoon. All he has to whittle away the time is the company of Gramps, his black lab Daisy, and his Haywire friends, Mason and Mikala Sweet. They don’t look so hot this year, in fact the whole town has gone to pot since the mill shut down.

Owen has his first encounter with a real life homeless man who ends up needing Owen’s help in more ways than one. But how does a rich city kid help the small town’s suffering citizens?

And what is Owen to make of the fog train and its scary, otherworldy occupants that appears out of thin air on the old tracks behind Gramps’ house? Do they have the answer Owen is looking for?
 Elle stopped by for a short interview:

Welcome! Can you tell me about your new book in 7 words or less.
friendship, homelessness, social issues, long lazy summers

What inspired the story?
It actually started years ago with a light dream where I heard a train whistle blowing, much like the ones I heard in my grandparents small town as a child. Except we weren't living near the tracks at that time.  It made me ask the question why would someone hear a whistle when there aren't any trains?

Has the process of writing this story been any different from your previous books? Can you tell us about the process?
Yes, this is my first middle grade. The voice of the main character, Owen True, was inspired by letters my eldest son had written to my parents when he was ten. My father, like Gramps in the book, likes to break out into song. He helped me to compile Charlie True's song list. My daughter did the illustrations, so it was great to work in collaboration on a project with her in this way.

What made you decide to including illustrations?
Most middle grade books have them. It's a Little Haywire has been compared in tone to Because of Winn Dixie (which thrills me--love that book) and many of   Kate DiCamillo's books did well with illustrations (yes, I'm a fangirl:)

How did you choose an illustrator?
Ha, ha. Well, I knew this girl and she owed me money. Just so happened she could draw. We bartered.

Do you have a playlist that goes with this book, and how did you choose the music?
My dad is a walking catalog of old tunes. When my parents were visiting over the holidays I made him tell me every time he thought of a new song. I made a list and picked the ones that worked.

Where can people find this book?
You can buy it here through Amazon

Can you tell us one thing you wish you’d known before self-publishing?
Probably that it takes up a lot more time than you think. You have to think of it like starting your own small business.

Do you intend to self-publish all your writing?
I don't know. I'm not opposed to traditional publishing, so I suppose if the right opportunity arose I'd consider it.

When can we expect another book from you? Anything you can tell us about that one?
My next book is the sequel to my YA time travel rom/com Clockwise, called CLOCKWISER in Apr/May. A companion novel will be available in June.

And remember how I told you at the beginning that you could read this book for free? It's only available free of charge today, so hurry over to Amazon to download your copy!
It's normally 2.99 but it will be FREE for Feb 22 and 23 only.

Elle Strauss writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She's a married mom of four, and lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, famous for beaches and vineyards. She's fond of Lindt's sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather. Her Young Adult rom/com time-travel CLOCKWISE and contemporary/otherworldly Middle Grade IT'S A LITTLE HAYWIRE are now available on Amazon.

Monday, February 20, 2012

March Madness Writing, Reading, and Blogging Challenge!

It’s almost March and time for an Almost-Nano Challenge! If you have a writing project you’re ready to start, or a work in progress you’re ready to finish, come and join the fun. Accountability is our main aim and the more support we have, the easier it will be to sail on through the month of March, bouncing along on each others successes.

  And, like last year, we're opening up March Madness to readers who want to challenge themselves to read more, bloggers who want to challenge themselves to blog more, and illustrators who want to challenge themselves to illustrate more! Basically, anything to do with books!

And did I mention there will be PRIZES? Prizes will not be awarded based on how much you write, read, draw, or blog, but simply on how involved you are in the Big Accountability Plan. There will be check-in points every day through the month of March. Each time you check in and record your progress, your name will be entered into a draw for some great prizes, including some high demand books, e-books, and even agent critiques! And not only that, but the more you encourage others along the way (in the comments), the more times your name will go into the hat!

Spread the word, and check out Wednesday, February 29th, to put your goals officially in writing and find out the locations of the check-in points. If you’re ready to get serious, don’t do it alone…Get serious with us!

Now is the time to be setting your Ambitious Goals for the month of March! (Trust me, you will be able to accomplish much more than normal with the added camaraderie and support, so don't be afraid to set the bar a little higher.) Start meeting up with us on Twitter under the hashtag #wipmadness .

I'll tell you my "official" goals for this March on the 29th, but for now, I'd just like to share a little about my goals from last year's March Madness. Here is what I put in writing last year:

Get up half an hour earlier and write first thing each day. Turn off the Internet for morning writing. Finish my revision of FINDING HOPE (I'm about 10 chapters in right now) and send it off to critique partners. Write a synopsis for the book. Complete my next revision for my editor on APPETITE FOR BEAUTY.

I know as writers, we can tend to think that other writers have an easier time than us. We see people breaking ridiculously high word-count goals, or selling books they seem to have just started writing. But I want to share a little secret: It's hard for all of us. It really is. Some people just hide their difficulties better than others. I'll be sharing my full goals on the 29th, but with that said, I'll admit that I'm working on the exact same book as I did during March Madness last year. I'm scrapping last year's version, working off of a brand new outline, and basically starting from scratch. Whew! I've put it in writing. Now you'll hold me to it, right?

Please spread the word about this Challenge. There will be lots to win throughout the month and the more support we have, the better all of our goals will go this month! Let me just show you a little peek at some of the books I'll be letting you choose from (don't worry if you can't see. I'll have them listed on the 29th), but believe me there will be many more prizes yet to come!

So check back in here February 29th. If you're such a proud participant that you want to let everyone know, grab the March Madness badge from the sidebar (Thanks to Anne Hale for that!) and put it somewhere prominent.

Everyone is welcome and the more the merrier! Let's march into March like the mad group of writers we are!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Four!

1. March Madness! It's almost here! Watch the blog because next week I will have lots of details about how to sign up for this life-changing event. I've got a list of prizes to share with you soon, too, and believe me, they are worth setting some big goals for. So start thinking about your goals now!

2. Speaking of goal-setting, I've been working hard at setting my goals for March, and to be honest, I'm not that excited about the project I have told myself I will work on. I do want to have this book written. I'm just feeling a little intimidated at the thought of starting it. So I've been thinking of small rewards I will give myself alone the way--especially in the beginning to get myself over that initial hump. Yes, these rewards do involve large quantities of chocolate. What are you thinking of working on in March? Does it scare the pants off of you?

3. My son and I read a story about the Guinness World Record holder of the biggest house of cards today. Now we are trying to construct one. I'm sure there's another lesson in perseverance here for me...

4. NEVER ENOUGH is making its way out into the world. At least the world of reviewers and bloggers.  I'm going through the odd panic attack, but generally I'm much calmer than when LOSING FAITH. I even got my first one-star rating the other day (a right of passage for any book, I think) and it actually made me smile.

It's supposed to be rainy in our parts this weekend. No special plans for me, except a little writing. How about you?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Do You Love About YOUR Writing?

As writers, I think we spend a lot of time thinking about the areas we need to improve. And that's necessary, it really is, but I don't think we take enough time to balance out the scale and spend some focus on what we do well. Many a motivational speaker will tell you that what you focus on will be what flourishes in your life, and so it makes sense that if all we ever do is pick ourselves apart, our faults might just get worse instead of better.

It's hard to give ourselves compliments, I know. But I'll start, and I encourage you to think about your strengths as a writer (and if you're really brave to share them in the comments.)

So here I go. I wish I could....

Nope, see I started off wrong already! Maybe we'll revisit writerly faults another day, (and believe me, there are many) but not today. To be perfectly honest, I've been working on my March Madness goals and going through some stuff with one manuscript in particular, and I need this self-pep-talk today. So here we go again. The good stuff. The stuff I like about my writing and my process. Focusing on the good in hopes it will multiiply...

I love my characters. I think they're deep and likeable and for the most part, fully rounded.
I'm a quick writer and also a quick reviser. I spend lots of time thinking, and then when I sit down at the computer, I get get a lot done in just an hour.
I love researching the settings of my books, and I think it comes through in the final product.
I think I'm good at writing romance and also mysteries (even though they still scare the crap out of me at the onset!)
Even in my serious fiction, I can organically drop in some humor.
I know how to persevere. Even with novels that looked like they might never come together, I've been able to stick with them until they eventually did.
I think I have a good writing voice that generally comes fairly natural to me. This is a big wide-open topic, but I'd say specifically that I like the authenticity and musicality of my writing voice. 
I bounce back from criticism pretty well. Sure, it affects me, just like everyone, because I care about my characters and my stories. But after it settles in, I seem to be able to separate myself from it and implement it without offense to make my books better. I think I'm fairly good at that.

Okay! Your turn! What do you love most about YOUR writing???

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Day To Everyone!

I'm not a big fan of holidays that people are excluded from...and often not by choice. (But don't tell my husband or he might take back the chocolate!)

For those of you who are feeling romantic, here's an anthology of short stories that's out today with a few friends of mine it it:
It's FREE right now on Smashwords and only 99 cents on Amazon (so it can be your gift to yourself!)

Description from Amazon: Sixteen original short stories, all from the point of view of our favorite male characters - some are old flames from our novels and some were dreamed up especially for this anthology.

Let these imminently crushable, swoon-worthy guys show you what romance looks like – in his eyes.

The contributors to IN HIS EYES include award winners, frequent “Top 100” placers, and hot 2011 debut authors.

Contributors include: C.K. Bryant, Lisa Nowak, Magan Vernon, Elle Strauss, Laura Pauling, Cheri Lasota, S.R. Johannes, Stacy Wallace Benefiel, Ali Cross, Jessie Harrell, Katie Klein, Karen Amanda Hooper, RaShelle Workman, Heather McCorkle, Susan Kaye Quinn, and Cory Putman Oakes

And how about if you're not feeling lovey-dovey today? Here's a great danceable break-up song, if that's where you're at!

And because I'm all about books, here's a little Non-Valentine contest for you...tell me in the comments the name of one of your favorite novels WITHOUT ROMANCE (I know, it's hard!) and I'll send you a swag pack!

See, now it's a happy day for everyone!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Promo Successes and Failures

Today marks five months until my release of Never Enough, so I thought I'd do something a little special for today's post - geared mostly at authors who are published or planning to publish. I thought I'd talk a little about promotion and marketing of my books - what I've done, what I've found to be successful, and also what I've found to be unsuccessful.

There's recently been a discussion on one of the Yahoo loops I'm a member of on promotion, so that has sparked my memory for various marketing and promotion techniques. To be honest, I've had a really hard time nailing down what works. With my second book soon to release, I am thinking of what I plan to do the same and what I plan to do differently, though, and so obviously my thoughts must reflect some kind of "Inner Knowing." LOL.

1. Swag. I love it and so I have a lot of fun designing, ordering, and distributing different things. It's really not all that expensive if you watch for deals (I get most swag from Vista Print, and bookmarks from Printrunner.) I send it out to anyone and everyone who asks, leave it around town, conferences, send to bloggers, wherever. I've also used more expensive swag like journals, T-shirts, and baseball caps for giveaways during my launch, and I plan to do all of that again this time around. I think that bookmarks are definitely worth the money I spend on them. The other stuff probably isn't, but it's fun to promote with.

2. Postcard mailings - I spent an awful lot of time handwriting postcards and sending them out for Losing Faith. I had one bookstore tweet about receiving my postcard, but otherwise I didn't see much response from this. I didn't enjoy it. I don't have nice handwriting. So I think I'll skip this effort this time around. Or if I send any, it will be a small amount and only to specifically targeted bookstores and libraries in my area. I think I'm more inclined to personally drop off a stack of bookmarks though.

3. Blog Tour - for my blog tour for Losing Faith, it was quite involved. I gave followers of the tour a different way to enter each day, a different blog to visit, and a different prize to win - books, hats, journals, etc. Then I had 3 grand prizes at the end - three boxes containing about 10 books each. I had these donated by Simon Pulse and so many of them were recent releases or ARC's and there was lots of buzz around these prizes. I mailed them via media mail, but offered one as an overseas prize, which cost me a fortune to mail, so I would probably just offer a gift card or something to international winners this time around.

I also did a blog tour a couple of months after my release with We Love YA Book Tours. It was free, they planned it, and basically I just had to answer some questions and offer some books for prizes. I don't think this group is putting together tours anymore, but Teen Book Scene is another great group of bloggers, and I'll be working with them on touring Never Enough. 

4. Book Trailer - I hired Madison from M2Productions to put together my book trailer for Losing Faith. I was happy with it, and very much enjoy sharing it. I don't know if it made any great difference at all in sales, but I have seen comments on GoodReads and also on Simon & Schuster's Pulse It that people have decided to read the book because of the trailer. With Never Enough, I'm making my own trailer in Windows Moviemaker. It has been a labor of love. I'm excited to share it, but it's not quite done yet...

5. One thing I plan to do this time around that I did not do with Losing Faith is to make a multi-author collaborative video about self-esteem - a theme that is close to my book and close to my heart. Holly Cupala recently did one centered on the theme "Words Have Power" (if you haven'tseen it, you should look it up on YouTube). I was moved by the video, and sales aside, it's something that I would like to do.

6. School visits and appearances - I've only done one real school visit so far, but I loved doing it, and I hope to do more in the future. I have also done library visits, plenty of bookstore signings (which have ranged from packed stores to not a single person buying a book - and there's really no way of knowing what you will get), panel discussions, workshops. I'm attempting to try everything where I can find opportunity and see how I like it. With Never Enough I will certainly remain open to opportunities, but I suspect I won't pursue too many of my own bookstore visits this time around. Bookstore events seem to work better, in my experience, when the bookstore is excited and invites you to come in. I do, however, stop at any bookstores I'm nearby and sign whatever stock of Losing Faith they have on hand. 

Aside from that, I'm active on Twitter and blogging - because I love it. So that's the theme of my thoughts on marketing and promo, I guess. I'm continuing the things I love and I'm ditching the stuff I don't. My husband has been a pretty big influence on me where marketing is concerned. He has his own business (has for over 20 years) and has never done any advertising. He believe strongly in word of mouth and that stressing over trying to get more clients (or sell more books) will not make those things happen. And, in fact, relaxing and trusting WILL make these things come to pass. I'm more of a stress-case than he is, but I'm getting better all the time!

I'd love to hear what your experiences have been with promotion and marketing. Have you found anything you definitely want to do or definitely want to stay away from?

Also, here are two authors I greatly admire who have some fabulous advice on book marketing:

Lisa Schroeder's Timeline For YA/MG Authors

Saundra Mitchell's Tools For Writers

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Trailer Tuesday! DON'T BREATHE A WORD by Holly Cupala

First, check out this awesome new trailer for Holly Cupala's DON'T BREATHE A WORD. Next...don't go away, because Holly has a huge contest going on where you can win some fab prizes. Read on below to find out how!

Five Grand Prizes:
Signed copies of Don’t Breathe a Word, Tell Me a Secret, the TMAS special edition audiobook, bookmarks, stickers, and other swag*
Ten Runner-Up Prizes:
Don’t Breathe a Word flyers, bookmarks, stickers, and a TMAS button*
Plus the first forty people who buy the book at this link between now and Valentine’s Day get DBAW bookmarks, stickers, and undying book love from me!*
*Must include mailing address with entry. (US + up to 20% international winners)

1. Click here to go to the DBAW trailer link, then click the Share button to send to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, MySpace, blog, or other social network. 5 pts each
2. Buy the book at this link for more chances to win (include in your entry below)!

Monday, February 6, 2012

March Madness #WIPMadness Sign-Up!

ETA: I now have enough hosts for this year's March Madness! Thanks so much, everyone!

I've mentioned it on Twitter, but I figure I better start getting organized for this year's March Madness Writing Challenge.

What is March Madness? An annual writing challenge, kind of like Nano, but we all set our own ambitious goals and then cheer each other on to complete them.

How do we cheer each other on? Through daily check-ins on blogs throughout the blogosphere.

Why will you check in? Because you will need the encouragement...and...did I mention there will be prizes?

First and foremost, I'm looking for some writers with active blogs who would like to be a check-in host for this life-changing event! You'll need to be able to host up to four times during the month of March, encourage people who check-in at your blog, and offer something in the way of a prize that a writer would really appreciate (a critique, a gift card, a really great book, etc).

I've already heard from a couple of people who want to be check-in hosts, but I'm scatterbrained, so even if this is you, please email me and confirm that you'd like to do this and have a prize of some kind to offer. My email is d (at) denisejaden (dot) com

And for those of you who aren't aware, March Madness continues year-round, in a sense, under the hashtag #wipmadness on Twitter. If you just want to join in on the fun, but don't want to host, come and find us there!!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Contrary to what the title of this post implies, I feel like I've been rained upon with unbelievable amounts of praise (from some pretty amazing sources!) I've been so excited to share these ever since I first saw them. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to yet, but I see that may of them are up on I guess it's okay!

Praise for
Never Enough

“Denise Jaden positively nails the love-hate relationship between two polar opposite sisters who share a single quest: the desire to be perfect, regardless of the cost. A compelling, often gut-wrenching coming-of-age novel, Never Enough will haunt you long after the last page.”
—From Jeannie Garsee, author of Before, After and Somebody In Between
“Denise Jaden's Never Enough is honest, gut wrenching, and oh so beautiful.  It's a book you can't wait to share.”
Eileen Cook, author of Unraveling Isobel and The Education of Hailey Kendrick
“A poignant, important book, Never Enough tackles self-esteem and body image issues while always remaining true to its three-dimensional characters. Denise Jaden has created a cliché-free zone filled with hurt, heart, and personal strength. Jaden's tender sympathy for her characters and dedication to honest storytelling shine through every page.”
C.K. Kelly Martin, author of I Know It’s Over and My Beating Teenage Heart

“Raw and unforgettable, Never Enough is an authentic portrait of a teen girl faced with an impossible situation. Loann’s relationship with her sister is beautifully drawn and heartbreaking.”
Tara Kelly, author of Harmonic Feedback and Amplified

"A poignant look at sisterly devotion and heartache, woven into a sweet tale
of first love and a girl coming into her own."
Holly Cupala, author of Tell Me A Secret and Don't Breathe a Word
I'm seriously completely bowled over by this. Many authors have told me that blurbs aren't really important, especially when it comes to selling books, but I can tell you honestly that each of these blurbs is incredibly important to me. There will be days, I'm sure, when I may get inundated with people who cannot connect to my books or my writing, and it will be so wonderful to come back to these and remember that there ARE folks out there--even industry pros--who could connect.

So thank you Jeannie, Eileen, CK, Tara, and Holly. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Links, Links, Links!!!

I have a few links I'm excited to share with you...

1. First of all, if you tried to download a copy of NEVER ENOUGH from Galley Grab and were receiving an error, I have a new, shiny (working) link!

This is for bloggers, teachers, librarians...anyone who can spread the word about NEVER ENOUGH as the release date approaches.

Also, I just received some new bookmarks and postcards for NEVER ENOUGH in the mail. If you'd like some signed swag for yourself or to help pass along to others, please email me at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com and I'll send some your way!

2. You may remember my good writer-friend Elle Strauss recently released her YA Time Travel Novel, CLOCKWISE, and I featured it here on the blog? Well, Elle has just released her first middle grade novel as well, IT'S A LITTLE HAYWIRE, and for a short while it is being offered on Amazon TOTALLY FREE!  Here's the link.

3. And finally, my writer-friend from The Tenners, Shaun David Hutchinson (author of THE DEATHDAY LETTER), has a cool project in the works...He's launching a serial novel on his blog, a new chapter every two weeks, and letting you, the reader have input on which direction the story takes! He also has a huge section of writer tips and info, so if you're a writer, interested in the process of a pro like Shaun, you can stop on by this link.

Young Adult Giveaway Hop Winners!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered my Young Adult Giveaway Hop!

The winners:

THE HOURGLASS DOOR goes to...Andrew Uy!


PUCKER UP goes to...LisaILJ

Congratulations to both of you!!