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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Madness Check-In Day 27 #wipmadness

I know I keep saying this, but I cannot believe the month is almost over! I'm happy to report that I've seen all sorts of "I'm finished" and "I've completed my goal!" comments around the hosting blogs and on Twitter. To that, I say CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

And even if you haven't completed your goals? Guess what? You're still here!!! You ARE diligent. You are committed. We LOVE having you here with us, and you've been an integral part of OUR processes. And to that I say: CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU!

As for me, I've made tremendous progress this month, much more than I would have had if I hadn't had anyone cheering me on. Not only am I nearing the end of my novel, which was my goal for this month (and I still plan to complete it by the 31st!), I've also been pretty quiet about a secondary project I've taken on. I'm not sure why, but somehow it felt like I was cheating while working on this project, even though I always put my novel first.

Earlier in the month, I taught a workshop on the subject of Grief in Fiction. It went well, and a couple of people encouraged me to put my notes together as a book, as they'd like to be able to buy it. So I've done just that! It still needs editing and probably a few additions, but I've finished a working draft of my first very first mini non-fiction book! I'm very excited, and to celebrate, I want to show you my mock-up cover.

It's still a work in progress, of course, but I think the pic fits the theme perfectly!

Annnddddd I have another prize to give away today! Congratulations to our previous winners. There are still plenty of great prizes left...

 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)

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

(Courtesy of Laura Taylor - Laura kindly offered to get this one signed if you're willing to wait for it!)

 And today's winner is...


Congratulations Kip! Please email me your choice of prizes at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com. And for the rest of you...don't stop checking in! I'll be drawing more names this week and it's not too late to win.

Tomorrow, don't forget to stop by Angelina Hansen's blog. Now...go forth and finish that goal!

Monday, March 26, 2012

14 Ways To Make Mediocre Art

Thank you Emily for this! (If you, like me, needed to hear this, you should really drop by Emily's blog and read more about it!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March Madness Check-In Day 20 #wipmadness (& Prizes!!!)

I'm so impressed with everyone's progress and dedication to checking in that I've decided to start digging into our arsenal of prizes EARLY. Like, as in, TODAY!!!

I've been seeing people exceeding their goal word counts, cheering each other on, even finishing entire novels! This calls for some serious celebrating, folks! I, for one, have dug into the red wine and dark chocolate on your behalf, but I want to make sure you're starting to celebrate your successes as well. So, first, let me remind you of our awesome prize contingent:

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)

Wow! Amazing stuff. I (and probably all of our other co-hosts) am jealous! I've drawn one winner's name for today, but before I tell you who it is, here's how the prize draws will work: The winner today will have his or her choice of all of these prizes. So long as they let me know by email at d (at) denisejaden (dot) com of their choice, plus any pertinent mailing info, I will get it sent/arranged for them. Next week, if we continue to have such great participation, I'll have taken one claimed prize off of this list and will announce a second winner. Unfortunately I do not have time to chase around winners to let them know, so you'll want to keep an extra close eye on this (and other host blogs) from now until the end of March. If you don't claim your prize, they will all be left on the list for someone else to claim. As we near the end of the month, I plan to give prizes away at a much quicker pace, so you will want to be checking in!!!

Don't forget to leave your progress in the comments today, and congratulate our first winner...

Jennifer Pickrell!!!

Congratulations! Jennifer, please email me with your prize selection, and everybody else, have a great writing day! I'll see you on Twitter under #wipmadness or at Angelina Hansen's Blog tomorrow!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Blog Tour Stop: SECOND SKIN by Judith Graves

I'm excited to welcome one of my Class of 2k10-mates as she releases her second book. Judith Graves's novel SECOND SKIN, the sequel to UNDER MY SKIN, is out this week!

Description from GoodReads:
 Sequel to Under My Skin.

With FIENDS like Eryn…

Monsters. Bloodsuckers. The evil. The damned. Eryn McCain knows they exist— she’s been hunting them since she was a child. At sixteen, she’s ready to take on all comers. Being a shapeshifter gives her an advantage when it comes to her unusual part-time job. The hours suck and the pay is, well, non-existent, but bonuses like inhuman strength and night vision make tracking scary beasties a dream come true. Especially in a town like Redgrave.

When an ancient demon targets Redgrave High, Eryn and her crew of hunters must face their innermost fears to prevent the Harvest Moon Dance from becoming one serious Monster Mash. Loyalties are tested and temptations abound. With questions ever brewing, can Eryn share a future with the brooding, noble, human Alec—the hunter after her heart? Or will she succumb to her enemy’s son, Wade, a seductive predator as bloodthirsty as she is?

What happens when you’re both the beauty and the beast?
Sounds intense, right?! And here's a short interview with Judith:

Second Skin is a sequel to Under My Skin. Did you know from the beginning of writing your first book what the second one would be about? How did the plotting of more than one book in a series work for you?
I originally outlined three books before starting to write Under My Skin, so I always knew I was writing a series. However, once I actually landed a publisher, the first book went through some extensive edits. Plot twists intended for Second Skin were pushed forward to crank up tension. This resulted in subsequent changes to book three, Skin of My Teeth. Of course, all the shuffling of action and infusion of conflict has made for better storytelling. Gotta love the ripple effect.
Under My Skin was the first book I’d written and as with most initial efforts, I was holding back. Keeping the big-ticket items of the plot a secret because I thought that was the way to hook a reader. I’ve since learned it’s far better to toss the big plot guns out there as soon as possible and let the chaos ensue. You have to hook your reader much like gawkers at a crime scene – make it impossible for them to turn away.

Will there be any more books in the series?
 There will be at least four books, the fourth is titled, The Hour of the Wolf. I have a fifth planned if it gets the green light.

Your first two novels have been paranormal YA. Do you plan to stick with this genre or branch out into others?
 I love writing YA fiction and have delved into other genres: horror, steampunk, and edgy contemporary. I also write screenplays for television and film.

Anything you’re working on right now you can tell us about?
In addition to the SKINNED series, I have a new steampunk ghosthunter series launching in 2014 with the first book, Strangeways Versus The Blood Brothers. The prequel story, Strangeways Versus The Wraith, which introduces the main character, Amelia Strangeways, appears in SPIRITED, an anthology of 13 ghost stories published by Leap Books and featuring other authors such as, Maria V. Snyder, Candace Havens, Shannon Delany, Dawn Dalton, and more! Proceeds from SPIRITED go to 826 National, a literacy-based charity.

What did you read and write as a teen?
 Would it surprise you if I said Victorian poetry, classics like Wuthering Heights, and the much loved Canadian favourite, Anne of Green Gables? Cause it was kind of a shock for me that I enjoyed period pieces, being that I also consumed as many horror, science-fiction and fantasy titles as I could – Ray Bradbury and Stephen King being stand outs. Yet this blend likely led to my fascination with steampunk – a genre that fuses science fiction / fantasy with alternate histories and its stories are usually set in a pseudo-Victorian world.

What’s the last thing you read that you really loved?
 I continue to read voraciously and chow down at least a book a week. Which means there are many titles to love and new authors to discover. Sometimes it’s the not so new authors who really dazzle. As a horror/paranormal writer I felt I’d been neglecting a major part of my genre related education – I’d never read a single Clive Barker title. So I snagged a copy of Abarat and my world was rocked. What world building! What words! What fantastical adventures and quirky characters. I’d say I fell in love with that book and I’m working through the rest of the Books of Abarat series.

If people want to find out more about you and your books, where can they look?
I’m always sharing too much information on my website:, or on Facebook / Twitter: @judithgraves. There's also the Strangeways sites: and Twitter: @AStrangeways

You'll want to stop by Judith's site during the blog tour, as there will be tons of fun and prizes. Congrats Judith!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Artwork is Such an Honor!

The other night I had the pleasure of speaking to an absolutely wonderful group of writers in the Western Washington SCBWI group. My topic was With a Heavy Heart: Writing Grief in Fiction. It was a great night, and I will have plenty to share on the subject when I can get my notes together, but for now I just wanted to share something with you that was truly an honor for me.

There's something about bringing the arts together that warms my heart. With the first book I wrote (yet to be published) my best friend did a painting to go with the book. It meant so much to me, I can't even tell you (and I'll certainly share it, if I can ever get that book in shape enough to publish it!) With my launch of my first published novel, a good friend of mine wrote a song entitled Losing Faith to go with it. I've also had the opportunity to see fan-made trailers and recreated covers to go with Losing Faith. When my art inspires other art, I love it. All of it!

On Tuesday night I received a whole new honor at the SCBWI meeting. One of the organizers who is also a picture book author and illustrator, Dana Sullivan, made up a huge banner with a caricature of myself and the other presenter. It was in black and white at the event, but he just send me the color version which is EVEN MORE COOL! I just had to share it. Thanks so much, Dana!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March Madness Check-In Day 13 #wipmadness

We're almost at the two week mark, friends! This calls for some celebrating! (If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that almost anything is cause for celebration.)

I've been thrilled to see everybody's progress along the way. As for me, I'm still pushing through on what has proven to be a difficult work in progress. But I promised myself I would get to "The End" by the beginning of April. I have so appreciated all of your encouragement along the way. With this manuscript, you will surely see the March Madness crew in the acknowledgements!

I have a couple of prizes to give away to keep up the morale. Kim Baccelia has so wonderfully donated a couple of her ARC's to our group. They will go to two of you who have checked in during the last week. Drum roll, please....

EMBRACE by Jessica Shirvington goes to...
Cortney Pearson!!!
and UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi goes to...
Marie Andrews!!!

These particular prizes are only available for people with a U.S. mailing address (if you're a winner and you live somewhere else, contact me and we'll figure something else out). If you're one of the winners, please email your address to me at d (@) denisejaden (dot) com , and I'll pass it on to Kim. Thanks again for being so generous, Kim!!

I look forward to seeing how your progress is going, and don't forget to stop by Angelina's blog tomorrow for Day 14 of March Madness!
And if you're on Twitter, come and hang out with us all day long under the hashtag #wipmadness

Saturday, March 10, 2012

NEVER ENOUGH Secrets - Hey, You Stole My Idea!

I cannot believe how fast time has been going lately. When you first sell a book, the one and a half to three years before publication feels like FOREVER! But just like last time, the last six months zoom by!

Today it is only four more months until NEVER ENOUGH hits the shelves! To celebrate, I'm here to share another secret about the book.

If you're a writer and you've written more than a couple of books, I would be surprised if you haven't come across a book that's so similar to yours that it makes you physically sick. It happens it all of us. It happened to me. With this book.

So I'm here to tell you, there is hope!

I started writing NEVER ENOUGH about seven years ago. At the time, it had a different title, but the basic premise was close to what it is now. It's about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family. The main character is a photographer. It's a story of grief and healing and finding your place in the world.

I finished the book, had it critiqued, revised it, sent it out to agents, the whole shebang. When it didn't get any bites, I went back to the drawing board, rewriting it pretty much from scratch. It still ended up being the same characters with the same basic premise though.

I queried again. Meanwhile I was writing LOSING FAITH and revising NEVER ENOUGH every time I received feedback from agents - and the feedback was getting more encouraging and specific. Finally I got an agent! Yayyyyy! And not only did she love LOSING FAITH and want to get it up for sale quickly, she loved the premise of NEVER ENOUGH. Double yayyyyy!!  I was in the middle of another revision, so I said I'd forward it to her when it was done.

So, as you can see, by this time I had put A LOT of work into this manuscript. It had been written from scratch at least a couple of times, and had been revised more times than I could count on my fingers and toes. But the story and the characters were important to me. I believed in them. So I kept at it.

Finally I sent NEVER ENOUGH to my agent. While I was waiting for her feedback, my critique partner send me an email with something like "Um, have you seen this?" in the subject line. She proceeded to share with me a synopsis of a new book coming out. Guess what it was about? Two sisters and the eating disorder that was tearing their family apart. And, yes, the main character was a photographer, plus, as far as I could tell, many of the other themes matched up. It was SO similar, in fact, that my critique partner asked me if the author had ever critiqued for me. She hadn't, of course.

Oh, and did I mention that the author of this replica of my book was also a former soap opera star and therefore already had a platform as an author? Yeah, it wasn't going to just fade away.

So, yes, I got sick about it for a few weeks. I entered contests until I won an early copy of the book. The author signed a nice note in the front of the book for me, and was so friendly it made it difficult to be angry with her. But I had to be angry with somebody, didn't I? I mean, I had spent HUNDREDS of hours on this manuscript! And now I was just supposed to trash it?

No, I wasn't. As usual, my agent was able to talk me down from the ledge. She encouraged me to read the book first. Then we would talk about it. I did. The first thing I realized is that even though there were a lot of similarities, her book was intended for a younger audience. But also, no matter how similar a premise, my characters were just not her characters. Each set had their own depth. you know, this story has a happy ending. After taking some time to tweak the manuscript with the help of my agent, we were able to sell NEVER ENOUGH only a year after the other book came out! This story and these characters are still so very important to me, and I'm so glad I didn't give up when this (or other things) threatened to kill my enthusiasm for it.

I've heard from many a writer about the book that they had to shelve because of something too similar releasing (and breaking their heart), so I just wanted to share my experience to let you know there still is hope :-)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

World Read Aloud Day! @litworldsays

Celebrate the Power of Words and Stories and Take Action for Global Literacy with LitWorld

Worldwide at least 793 million people remain illiterate. Imagine a world where everyone can read... 

On March 7, 2012, LitWorld, a global literacy organization based in New York City, will be celebrating World Read Aloud Day. World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.
To learn more about LitWorld and to register to participate in World Read Aloud Day, please visit:

Here are some sample Tweets about WRAD:
Join @litworldsays in celebrating World Read Aloud Day on March 7th! #readaloud

Take Action for Global Literacy with @litworldsays on World Read Aloud Day on March 7th: #readaloud

Celebrate the power of words with @litworldsays on March 7th for World Read Aloud Day: #ReadAloud

Please join our Facebook Event:

Make sure to follow LitWorld!
Twitter: @litworldsays
In support of World Read Aloud Day, here's a clip of me reading the opening of my new novel, NEVER ENOUGH. I hope you'll support World Read Aloud Day - stop by their website, and read out loud to someone today!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March Madness Check-In Day 6 #wipmadness

If you don't know what March Madness is or want to join (it's not too late!), stop by our goal-setting post here.

How has your first week been? Mine got off to a slow start, but I'm starting to find my rhythm in the story now.

Speaking of many of you listen to music when you write? I don't, actually. I find it distracting. However, I do find a lot of lyrics in songs extremely inspirational, both for getting my butt in gear to do the work and also for getting into my characters heads.

Today over on Twitter, not only will I be hanging out at our usual #wipmadness watering hole, but I'd also like to share some of my favorite song lyrics using the hashtag #favoritesonglyrics . I'd love to know if you have some favorites and what they are - and if you're not a Twitter fan, feel free to leave them below. (Note - I will not, I tell you, I will NOT be playing the song lyrics game until I've done my morning writing. I promise. Mostly.)

Also, I have some good news! Kim Baccellia, author of Earrings of Ixtumea, Crossed Out, and No Goddesses Allowed, as well as one of our March Madness mates, has donated a couple more awesome ARC's for two of you lucky people! EMBRACE by Jessica Shirvington and UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi! How cool is that! I'm going to give them away randomly to people who check-in during the next week (sorry, these particular prizes are for US mailing only. If you're international, don't let that deter you, though. There are still plenty of prizes you'll be eligible for.).

Don't forget to comment with your progress, and then head on over to Angelina Hansen's blog tomorrow to check in there. Hope everybody has a GREAT week two!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

First March Madness Prize Draw! #wipmadness

If you haven't done it already, make sure to stop by Anne Hale's blog to check in with today's progress.

As promised, I'm giving a book away from my shelf today for one lucky person who put their goals in writing yesterday. As I give books away from my shelf throughout March, I won't be changing the picture below, but I will change the names of the books (and I'll add some choices as some are taken away). So if you're a winner, make sure you read the list below to choose, and then email me your choice at d (at) denisejaden (dot) com

Today's winner is...

Bethany R Smith!!

Go ahead a choose a book from below.

DESIGNATED FAT GIRL  by Jennifer Joyner
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
JUNGLE CROSSING by Sydney Salter
HUSH by Eishes Chayil
HEARTS AT STAKE by Alyxandra Harvey
SOUL SURFER by Bethany Hamilton
THE SWEETNESS OF SALT by Cecilia Galante
FASHIONISTA by Micol Ostow
GIMME A CALL by Sarah Mlynowski
THE TALE OF JULIET by Jhet Torcelino-van Ruyven
JULIET by Anne Fortier
COOL CACHE by Patricia Smiley

Also, we've had some more fabulous prizes donated for March Madness! Keep checking in, and I'll tell you more soon!