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Friday, June 29, 2012

Never Enough Secrets: On the Topic of Sex

I know I'm sticking my toes in some pretty fiery waters here, and I don't want to start a heated debate. I just wanted to share another secret with you from my new book Never Enough.

There's sex in it.

It's true, and many of you may be shaking your heads, thinking, "okay, where's the big secret?" Because there are plenty of YA novels out there with sex scenes in them. The difference is, this is the first one of mine.

And so, rather than debating the topic, I just wanted to share a little of my own personal thoughts on the subject. To me, sex is a very private thing. Maybe the most private thing. I've never been one to talk to girlfriends about intimate details of my relationships. It's just not me. To be honest, it makes me uncomfortable reading a sex scene in a book or watching a movie with a vivid sex scene in it (though for some reason I always seem to rent those kind of movies when my mom is coming over!). To me, it feels like the act is meant only for those involved, and not for me.

So why did I write a sex scene into my book then? I'm not sure what to say to that, except that the story and the characters come first. The integrity of the story matters to me. I want my stories to be reflections of true human existence. I write, in part, because it helps me sort out my own thoughts and feelings about the world, and so if I'm not being true to my characters, I don't feel like I learn anything. The places Never Enough went are where the characters took me, and while I got lost and caught up in character during the writing of the sex scene, I admit, it still makes me uncomfortable every time I read it.

Coming up to the launch of Never Enough, I've had some feelings of trepidation about this. If it makes me uncomfortable, how uncomfortable will it make others?  I think of certain friends and family reading this scene and I wonder if they'll look at me differently or be offended or have trouble meeting my eye after reading this book. But the truth is, the same with every other thing that happens in this book, I was telling Loann's story the best way I knew how. The most honest way I knew how.

And, like I said, I'm a very private person when it comes to sex, but here's one more thing that I didn't plan, but that just came out of the end product: this book is a book I wish I'd read when I was a teen, sex and all. No, I wouldn't have been comfortable reading it, but it would have helped me think beyond my preconceived ideas about sex and made me feel like I wasn't alone.

So I hope if you're reading this and you're a blog reader or a friend or a parent, or all of the above...I hope you'll give Never Enough, a chance and know that the story is not about me, the author. It's about Loann and Marcus and Claire, and I hope you will love the brief glimpse I was able to give into their lives.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Local Launch Party!

I finally have the details for my local launch party! If you're not from the area, not to worry. I will be doing a big online launch as well with LOTS of prizes! More coming on that soon, but for now, this...

(Click on picture to go to the Facebook Event Page and let me know that you're coming!)


I hope to see lots of you there!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

GCC Presents Myra McEntire and TIMEPIECE!









Isn't that the coolest cover? I love it! I'm welcoming another girlfriend from Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, Myra McEntire, and her new release, TIMEPIECE!
 
ABOUT TIMEPIECE:

Kaleb Ballard was never supposed to be able to see ripples—cracks in time. Are Kaleb’s powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Before Kaleb can find out, Jonathan Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, reappears. Why is he back, and what, or whom, does he want?
 
In the wake of Landers’s return, the Hourglass organization is offered an ultimatum by a mysterious man. Either they find Landers and the research he has stolen on people who might carry the time gene, or time will be altered—with devastating results for the people Kaleb loves most.
 
Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their extraordinary powers to find Landers. But where do they even start? And when? Even if they succeed, just finding him may not be enough. . . .
 
The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science-fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts.

CONTEST:

Myra has a contest on her site - http://myramcentire.com - that will run from June 18th to June 25th. She’ll be giving away signed copies of HOURGLASS and TIMEPIECE, signed posters of the covers, a goodie basket inspired by her characters, and signed books from other authors!

ABOUT MYRA McENTIRE:

Myra McEntire knows the words to every R&B hit of the last decade, but since she lives in Nashville, the country music capital of America, her lyrical talents go sadly unappreciated. She's chosen, instead, to channel her "mad word skills" into creating stories. She's an avid Doctor Who fan and will argue passionately about which incarnation is the best. 

You can find her at:




Myra stopped by for a short interview. Welcome, Myra! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less.
Boy changes, falls in love, corrects mistakes 

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
I love love love Lily. I never ever had to struggle with what she was going to say or do, because she’s one of those that just sprung up fully formed! 

What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Read. Read. Read. And then, read.  

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 terrible, terrible poetry. I just found some, and I’ll be posting on the blog soon.
 
What's the last book you read that you really loved?
Everneath by Brodi Ashton. It surprised me, because I didn’t expect the level of emotion it achieved. I knew it would be good, but I didn’t know it would rip my guts out. In a nice way. 

Thanks, Myra, and congratulations on your release!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I LOVE Fan Art!

I apologize if these fan art pieces are getting old to me, but they will never get old to me. I seriously LOVE being able to get glimpses into how readers connect with my books. Remember my young friend Kaylie, who sent me this beautiful poster a little while ago? (I especially love the shofar down in the right hand corner!)







Well, Kaylie just send me another awesome piece of fan art! Her very own book trailer for Losing Faith. Have a look...

video

Don't you just love Tessa?!

Thank you so much, Kaylie, and I'm so glad that you enjoyed Losing Faith!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Laura Bowers and JUST FLIRT!


 A secret blog and an off-limits go-cart racer? I'm in! JUST FLIRT by Laura Bowers is out this month. Watch the ultra-cute trailer to see what it's about!



Laura Bowers stopped by for a short interview about her book. Welcome, Laura! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?

A secret blog turns everything upside down.

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

I love all my characters, but my heart is most smitten for these two grubby, rebellious twins called the Cutson brothers who are always getting into trouble! They also say my favorite line from the book:

“We ain’t seen nothing, puppy hater.”

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

Always put craft before publication.

Sometimes new writers—and old ones like myself—get so wrapped up in social media or their efforts to sell a book that they forget to concentrate on what’s most important: Improving their craft and continually writing, reading, and learning because the best way to sell a book is to write an amazing, powerful manuscript.  

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

Despite getting an A in Creative Writing, (my only A in high school,) I never wrote much as a teen and I never thought it was possible for someone like me to be an author—someone who wasn’t on the newspaper committee, never made honor roll, or had big college plans. This preconceived notion followed me to my late twenties, until I finally realized that everyone had a voice worth sharing . . . even me.

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

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I absolutely loved, loved, LOVED this book! I literally couldn’t put it down.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Laura!

You can pick up a copy of Just Flirt from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or from your favorite independent retailer. Find out more about Laura and her books at http://laurabowers.net

Monday, June 18, 2012

Never Enough Secrets: Why Eating Disorders?

I'm having fun answering lots of interview questions these days (believe me, if there's ever been ANYTHING you've wanted to know about me, you'll find out in the next month!) The question I get asked the most often by far is, "What inspired the writing of this book?"

I've shrunken down my reasons to a short answer I can use for interviews, but I asked my editor for permission to share the author's note that's at the end of Never Enough that goes into a little more detail, and I just heard back with the OK. One thing that never made it into the author's note was that at the time I met my friend who was struggling (explained below) I was just coming out of a season in my life that I was very involved in the fitness industry. I'd spent months on end dieting on only chicken and salad, and had stood up on stage to get judged on my body. For me, it was a very unhealthy lifestyle, both physically and emotionally.

Here's a sneak peak at more of the inspiration for the story... my Author's Note from Never Enough...


Author’s Note:

Many of us have suffered from a food issue of some kind, whether it’s cutting calories on a regular basis or trying to “make up” for last weekend’s junk food binge. These are simple solutions, ones that don’t seem dangerous or hard to control. I’ve personally struggled with my perception of healthy eating on and off for years. For me, conquering this has only come by way of self-acceptance, but even still, it seems more than possible that I might fall back into destructive patterns at any time. 

When it comes to severe eating disorders, often times we can’t understand why some won’t just make better choices when it comes to food. I have known women who have suffered severely from eating disorders, and, yes, it can be easy to judge. But our lack of understanding and compassion is one reason that so many people suffer alone, only letting their disorder become worse. An eating disorder gives a false sense of control, while in reality it's an all-consuming monster that wants to take over every bit of a person’s life.

My first inspiration for writing this book was a close friend of mine who has suffered for many years with a combination of severe eating disorders. I didn’t write this book to show her or teach her anything. I wrote it because I wanted to understand her and connect with her in a way that would be helpful rather than hurtful.

My friend can’t avoid food like she’d avoid cigarettes if she were quitting smoking. She has to face her addiction every day. Sure, it gets easier. But then sometimes it gets harder again. Above all, I’m glad I made a deeper connection with her and with others. Honesty among true friends can be a hard thing to come by, but it’s worth the effort to not have to endure a life-long battle alone. You may be surprised how accepting others can be. And then maybe you’ll start accepting yourself.

It’s estimated that over eight million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, and eating disorders have the highest death rate among mental illnesses. The statistics are scary—don’t try to battle it by yourself. And if you’re not the one suffering and someone comes to you, admitting they have a problem, be a supportive friend. Encourage him or her to seek help, and then walk through it with them.  Making the first move to be honest is hard, but I guarantee there’s somebody in your life that really needs you.

And who knows? Maybe you need them too.

For more information on eating disorders, where to get help, or how to be a support to someone with an eating disorder, visit the National Eating Disorders Association at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org


Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Miss You, Dad

This is my favorite picture of me and my dad...


Many of you know, I lost my dad just over a year ago. Father's Day is a bit of a bittersweet holiday for me this year. I still get to enjoy watching my son grow up with his dad, but I no longer have my own dad to celebrate with. I'm not complaining, because I had many wonderful years with him, and some people don't even get that.

And so I wish a Happy Father's Day to all those who are celebrating, and a big cyber-hug to all of those who are not. You may be without an earthly father, but you're not alone!



Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Four!

1. A couple of exciting new things arrived at our house this week! First, here's our little bundle of cuteness, who has been keeping me awake at night because apparently playing is much more important than sleeping! We're still looking for a name that the whole family is happy with, and we're open to suggestions.





2. And if that wasn't exciting enough....my first finished copy of Never Enough arrived in the mail this week! It looks very similar to the galley copy, except this version is matte instead of glossy, has a slightly nicer spine, and includes my fabulous blurbs in the front of the book.



3. On the writing front, lots is happening these days. I've gotten some fabulous blurbs for my non-fiction grief book, as well as a mock-up version of the cover. I hope to be able to share those with you very soon, and the plan is for the book to be available this fall!

4. Also, I've sent my latest manuscript to my agent, and I'm thrilled to report that she loves it and thinks it's ready! I'm sure I've mentioned it here before, but in case I haven't, this one has been through many titles in its short lifetime. It started as MILANO. But when the story moved out of the city of Milan, I had to change that. Then it was called DANGEROUS TRANSLATION. My agent felt that sounded a bit too adult, so then it changed to COVER ME. Finally I have settled on FOREIGN EXCHANGE, at least until my editor tells me to change it :-). It's about a girl who sneaks off from her class trip in Europe, along with her crush, when her best friend goes missing. I really LOVED researching this book, and LOVE Europe. It's set mostly in the cities of Barcelona and Venice. I hope I have the opportunity to go back soon.

5. Okay, one more thing...I'm back to revising another very new work in progress. This one is still untitled, but it's another YA contemporary novel centered around Christmas. I'm wondering if there are other YA novels taking place mostly in the Christmas season. If you can think of any, I'd love to hear!

Happy weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why I LOVE Simon Pulse (and why you should too!)

A little while ago, I spoke with my publicist from Simon Pulse about details of my launch for Never Enough. She was super-supportive, and when I asked if they might be willing to send me some books that I could use as an online launch party giveaway, she immediately said, "No problem!"

I asked for about ten - I thought that would make a nice prize pack for someone - but let me just say that she sent me WAY more than ten books, and they're awesome books at that!

Here's a shot of just the ones I could fit on my kitchen table...


So I'm deciding whether I should do multiple prize packs or one enormous prize pack. What do you guys think? (Remember there are lots more, this is just a sampling!) Also, and more importantly, which ones should I race through and try to read before I give them away???

Thank you Simon Pulse! You totally rock...every single one of you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A New Review and Fan Art!

I'm so excited about this new review of NEVER ENOUGH by Evie at Bookish! You can click on the link to read the whole thing, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite highlights:

She started the review by offering a few of her favorite quotes from the book. I LOVE this idea, because it helps me see what connects with individual readers. I'll just share one of her favorite quotes (truth be told, it's one of mine too!)

Our perfect posture could be the one reminder that Claire's not the secret love child of Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher. And I'm not the true offspring of Danny DeVito and an ungroomed poodle.
And here are a few other highlights from Evie's review...

 "Neither the blurb, nor the beautiful bright cover have prepared me for the intensely emotional ride I was taken on... Jaden's evocative and fluid prose is full of vivid emotions and gut-churning authenticity."

"Never Enough was captivating from start to finish and I found it very difficult to put down. The narrative voice is genuine and lively, and it makes Loann a relatable character."

 "The slowly developing romantic feelings between Loann and Marcus took the back seat to other, more profound and meaningful plot threats. And it was perfect this way. I loved the chemistry between Loann and Marcus."

"This book tells a harrowing tale of never-enoughs: people not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not interesting enough, not strong enough, or simply not good enough. And while it's mostly a sad and melancholic book, it's also one that ends with hope and promise rather than despair, and for that I absolutely and utterly loved it."
 And...if that was not enough to make me giddy with joy this week, I've also had an opportunity to see some more fan art for Losing Faith! I can't tell you how much I love this! Seeing someone else's artistic expression from one of my books? So awesome! 


Jada, a girl from my church, put together the following presentation as a school project. She got to choose the book (she chose Losing Faith) and did character drawings of all of the characters in the book. I LOVE that Jada let me take pictures of this and share it on my blog!









Tell me that isn't the COOLEST THING EVER! Thank you, Jada, for letting me share!

Monday, June 11, 2012

GCC Presents Amanda Ashby and SOPHIE'S MIXED UP MAGIC!


Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic
A middle grade series by Amanda Ashby

Book One: Wishful Thinking (May 31st Puffin)
Be careful what you wish for…
After eleven year old Sophie accidentally gets herself turned into a djinn, she starts to think that it might not be so bad after all. (Of course, that’s after she gets the whole orange skin problem sorted out.) Who wouldn’t enjoy having the power to grant wishes! But when Sophie develops RWD (Random Wish Disorder) and can’t STOP granting wishes, things get more than a little mixed-up!

 
Book Two: Under a Spell (May 31st Puffin)
And that spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E…
As Sophie gets used to her magic, her relationship with the adorable Jonathan Tait is blossoming. There’s only one problem: Jonathan’s twin sister, Melissa. She’s a total mean girl who seems intent on making Sophie’s life miserable. On top of that, Melissa somehow seems to sense that Sophie has powers–and manages to bind Sophie to her in a totally self-serving way. Can Sophie figure out a way out of this–without ruining her chances with Jonathan?


Book one and two are a simultaneous release and watch out for book three in October…

Amanda also stopped by for a short interview about the books!

Welcome, Amanda! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?
Cute, funny and covered in Cheetos crumbs! 
Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
I love Malik. He is Sophie’s dead djinn guide, who looks like Zac Efron and is addicted to Cheetos and American Idol. He also has crazy taste in clothing and gets Sophie into so much trouble it’s not funny! 
What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Be yourself and find your voice. It’s so easy to think that everything we write is terrible and that everything someone else writes is brilliant, but it’s important to have faith in ourselves and what it is we want to say!
 What did you write when you were a teen? Did you journal? Write poetry? Write overly literary or emotional stories? Or avoid writing altogether?
The last one! I loved creative writing at school but it wasn’t something that I ever did in my spare time and it wasn’t until my late twenties that I even realized that ‘regular’ people could write books. I should add that I’m a very slow learner!!!
 What's the last book you read that you really loved?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Everyone had been talking about it on Twitter but I didn’t read any reviews so it wasn’t until I started reading it that I really understood what it was about. It was so bright and smart and sad all at once that I cried like a baby for most of it!!!

Thanks so much, Amanda, and congratulations on your releases!



Amanda Ashby was born in Australia and after spending the last sixteen years dividing her time between England and New Zealand, she’s finally moved back and now lives on the Sunshine Coast. When she’s not moving country, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to eat chocolate, watch television and sit around doing not much, but let’s just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we?)
She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book, You Had Me at Halo was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award, and her first young adult book Zombie Queen of Newbury High was listed by the New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age 2010. Her latest release, Fairy Bad Day, has been selected by Voya as one of their Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers 2012 and is a SCBWI Crystal Kite Award finalist for the Australia/NZ region. To find out more, please go to www.amandaashby.com