Join my Mailing List for Free Books!

Friday, March 29, 2013

March Madness Check-In Day 29! #WIPMadness


I was tempted to just leave this post at those three words, because ISN'T THAT EXCITING?! We're almost there! And whether we've completed our goals, or gotten publishing contracts (yes, this HAS happened--ahem--Misha), or changed our goals, or fallen miles behind our proposed goals, the truth is, we've still probably made more headway than we would have without one another's support.


People in my real-life life often ask me why I'm doing this and how I find the time, and all sorts of other questions that seem to give the impression that March Madness is some kind of big SELFLESS act on my behalf. I hate to burst your Mother-Teresa-like bubble of me, but I do this for myself more than for anyone. I LOVE March Madness and the motivation and accountability it gives me toward serious productivity. I love all of your company, and I love the little nuggets of wisdom that emerge on the different blogs and in the comments over the month.

So, really. Thank YOU!

I hope you'll join us again next year (and invite all of your creative friends), as March Madness is still in its infantile stages of world domination. But we will get there!

Two more days left! Tell me in the comments what was your favorite thing about March Madness this year, and also what you would like to see different for next year. I'm all ears! And don't forget to check in on Kim's blog tomorrow.

We have one more winner today.

Brooke Younker!

Stop by this post to pick your prize, and then email me your choice at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com. We still have lots of prizes left to give. I may give some of our books away in a group to save on postage. Stop back here on April 1st to see if there are any prizes still being awarded.

Also, one important note: we do continue to encourage each other all year long on Twitter under the hashtag #WIPMadness. You are all more than welcome to join us! Also, we continue weekly (rather than daily) check-ins on blogs throughout the year. Our wonderful March Madness host, Mary Ann, will be hosting in April, so make sure to stop by her blog and let us know how it's going.

Not trying to sound like a broken record here, but seriously, thank you so much for joining me for the month. It's been a ton of fun productivity!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More Fun Q&A

Since posting some recent questions and answers from my fan mail, I've received a few follow-up questions. I thought I'd post those here too, since they're such fun questions.

Do you make playlists and listen to music as you write?

No. I love music, it's important to me, but I can't listen to it while I'm writing. I suspect this is because I'm a dancer/choreographer of many years. I can't just let music play in the background without my mind wanting to count out sets of eight and picture combinations of moves to accompany it. It would make for a busy writing time, a little like mental juggling, trying to keep all of that going in my head at once.

I do, however, usually come across songs that remind me of certain books or characters of mine. For example, Things I'll Never Say by Avril Lavigne will always remind me of Loann and Marcus from NEVER ENOUGH. Sick Cycle Carousel by Lifehouse is Claire's song.

I also have a "rejection song." It's a song I listen to after I've received a particularly painful rejection. It's officially a breakup song, but publishing, in a lot of ways, can be like a relationship. This song doesn't build up bitter feelings or anything, at least not for me. Instead it reminds me that I don't want a publisher who is just willing to take on one of my books. I want an editor who is head over heels in love with my story. Plus it's good to dance to, which always helps. So here's my rejection song, Thanks For Nothing by Fefe Dobson:


Enough about music. Next question:

What's your favorite book?

Here's my answer: Anyone who has a favorite book doesn't read enough. LOL. I read over a hundred books last year. I loved over half of them. And that was just last year. I really, honestly, can't imagine narrowing my all-time favorite down to one or even ten books. Here are a few loves that come to mind off the top of my head, but it's by no means a complete list: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER by Sarah Dessen, GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn, CATALYST by Laurie Halse Anderson, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, HARMONIC FEEDBACK by Tara Kelly, GUITAR GIRL by Sarra Manning, THE LUCY VARIATIONS by Sara Zarr.

Are you a fast reader?

Not particularly. I know I said I read over a hundred books last year. Thirty of those were audiobooks I listened to while driving back and forth to dance classes. Also, I keep books (or my kindle) with me EVERYWHERE. So, really, those books were read in very short spurts, and not terribly fast. Once in a while I'll find a book that I cannot put down, and I'll push off other responsibilities to read it in a day or two. Or once in a while I'll find a book I really want to savor, and purposely only read a couple of pages a day. Right now I have one of those "savor" books living in my gym bag--that gymnastics book by Lance Ringnald I talked about on the blog a couple of weeks ago. I keep promising to read it with my son, but I'm finding it inspiring, so I don't want it to end.

Are you a fast writer?

Yes. My next book (out either later in 2013 or 2014) will attest to that. It's called FAST FICTION and will teach you my process of writing quickly. It still takes me six months to a couple of years to get from the conception of a story to the point where it's salable, but I can quite easily write the first draft of a sixty thousand word novel in a month now (I've even written two of those in a month once!). Honestly, if I wasn't homeschooling and busy with other parenting/family/business responsibilities, I suspect I could put out a few books in a year now. But a season for everything...

Thanks for the questions, friends! Keep them coming and I will keep answering! (You can post your questions in the comments here, on Twitter @denisejaden, or email me at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com). I love interacting with people who are reading my books, and it's never a bother.

Friday, March 22, 2013

March Madness Check-in Day 22 #WIPMadness

Wow, is it day 22 already? That just whipped by! For me at least. What a difference camaraderie makes, right? Thank you all so much for sticking with us to this point! I love to see this kind of dedication. It's not always common in our world today, and so I can say pretty much without a doubt that you are the people that will rise to the top and not just achieve this goal, but achieve most of your goals in life.

The last week of any goal should be smooth sailing. If you've been waking up dreading each day of the month so far, but doing the work anyway, I have good news for you! This coming week you should wake up with a smile on your face every day! Because you're that much closer to the end, and you're that much closer to your goal, and it really is all downhill from here.

We've been seeing several people celebrating over completing their goals, and also several people celebrating over winning some great prizes. As we approach The End, I have one big important question for you...How will you celebrate the completion of March Madness? If your goals seem impossible to reach at this point...what if you could? What if you forced yourself to stay up late at night or get up early in the mornings in order to reach your goal? Is there something amazing you could reward yourself with?

And just to get into the spirit of rewards, our next prize goes to...

Kim Clarke Harbridge!

Congratulations, Kim! Stop by the goal-setting post and pick a prize, then email me your choice at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com and we will get it out to you!

Also, our wonderful host, Mary Ann Scott, has offered to donate some more "bookish jewelry," so I've added that back in to the list of prizes!

Don't forget to stop by Kim's blog tomorrow to check-in, and I'll see you one more time before the month is up!

As for me, I'll be setting my mind on all things wine and dark chocolate related...

Monday, March 18, 2013

From My Fan Mail

I truly adore fan mail. Renewed realization that my work really connected with someone--that makes it all worth it. If you've ever thought about writing to an author whose work you've loved, I encourage you to do it. Even if they are mega-famous or whatever, they will appreciate your words. It can be a great juxtaposition to all the criticism and impossibly difficult editorial feedback that comes with this business. (But if it's a lesser-known author, even more reason to take time to write to them. I promise, they will appreciate it!)

Some of the mail I've received recently included several questions for me. I thought I'd answer some of them here, because, who knows, maybe more people are interested, but just too shy to write to me, or are afraid of taking up my time. So these questions come from Khanh and Megan. Thanks so much for your wonderful letters!

Why did you decide to become an author? To be honest, I didn't really decide. I started writing when I was in my thirties and pregnant (I blame it on "pregnant brain"). It started out as a journal--something I had never done in my life--but when I wanted to write down really personal stuff that I didn't want read, I changed it to character names. Eventually, I started playing the "what-if" game with my "characters," because that was a lot less scary and a lot more fun than playing it in my own life. I grew to love the experience of understanding human nature and reactions, and coming up with stories in the process.

What kind of music do you like? I like a WIDE variety of music. I'm a long-time Polynesian dancer, so I love many varieties of Polynesian music. I love a lot of the eighties music I grew up with. Avril Lavigne is one of my current favorites--I love her girl-power lyrics, and they often inspire me in writing different characters. Plus I love anything with a good beat that is easy to dance to. I really dislike music snobs who think the only "cool" music is the kind they listen to.

Where have you traveled to? I've been very fortunate to travel a lot of places in my life! I've been to England, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Czech Republic, Alaska, Florida, California, Bahamas, Mexico, Seattle. With my Polynesian dance troupe I've traveled around Canada, the U.S., to Hawaii, and Japan. My next hope is to go to Spain and Portugal.

Do you like Harry Potter? Um...This is a difficult one for me to answer. I don't dislike Harry Potter, and I think the writing is marvelous. But--and this is completely personal preference--I'm just more of a real-world kind of girl. I get swept up in stories when I really believe they could happen to me, or to someone close to me. It's more difficult for me to get swept up in something more magical or fantasy-infused. Again, that's just me. My husband loves Harry Potter, and I have watched all the movies with him. They just haven't been terribly impacting or memorable for me.

Where do you write? I'm writing this at my kitchen table. I have a small office that doubles as a guest bedroom in my house, but I tend to gravitate back to the kitchen table. I'm not sure why. I guess I like the light in here. I used to write in coffee shops, and I can still write anywhere if I need to (I have a net book with an 8-hour battery) but this is where I most often write.

How do you decide what to write about? It's always different. With LOSING FAITH, I think my initial seed of an idea was to write about two sisters with a secret. I decided to make one religious and one the black sheep of her religious family. From there, the secrets started to reveal themselves to me. I also lost my best friend when I was sixteen. I've always thought there was so much to be explored with a teen experiencing death, and I wanted to delve into that more.

NEVER ENOUGH is also about two sisters, and I'm not sure why I've had such a fixation on sisters. I've never had a sister, but always wanted one, so maybe that's why. With NEVER ENOUGH, the idea came from real life. I have a good friend who suffered with a serious eating disorder. When I first started writing, it wasn't necessarily meant to be a book, or a book I would publish. I really just wanted to understand my friend more and learn how to be a help in her life.

Besides that, I get my story ideas all over the place: from chatting with people or hearing a news story. Quite often when I sit down to watch a movie, in the first ten minutes my mind speculates on where the movie is going to go. It often doesn't, and I end up with a story idea right there.

When you were in high school, did you ever think you would become an author? Not even close. When I was in high school (and this is definitely to my detriment) I didn't like to write, or even read. I found my love for reading in my twenties, and my love for writing in my thirties, but I've always wished I had started much earlier.

Would you ever consider visiting my English class? I would LOVE to visit your English class! Unfortunately, travel does cost money, and most schools do not have it in their budget to bring authors in from across the country. If I ever plan to be in your area, though, I would be happy to make some time to visit your school. One of my very favorite things is to talk to young people who are interested in writing and books.

What advice would you give to people who are thinking of writing a book? Write it! Get your ideas down on paper. Try to write every day, even if it's only a little bit, so your story can gain some momentum.Don't get caught up in the idea of publishing the book--write it first. Publishing is a whole other (stressful) world. Write the book you would want to read, and figure out what you love most in books and what you love least in books in the process.

Thanks again,Khanh and Megan for the great questions! I would love it if we could meet each other in person one day. I'm always *thrilled* when I hear that one of my books has sparked a love of reading in someone. It truly makes my day.

Happy reading and writing to both of you, and to anyone who has taken time to read this :-)

Friday, March 15, 2013

March Madness Check-In Day 15! #WIPMadness

If you haven't heard about my good news yet, you can find the full story here. Lots and lots of excitement for me lately!

If you're here to check in for March Madness, great! If you think March Madness is all about basketball, let me enlighten you. OUR March Madness is about books: setting and achieving goals to do with writing, reading, blogging, or illustrating throughout the month of March. If you haven't set any goals yet, it's not too late! Find out more and set your goals here. And why should you bother? Well, besides the fact that you'll have some great accomplishment to show at the end of ONE MONTH, my March Madness hosts and I are also offering some pretty stellar prizes. You can check those out when you set your goals, but for now, let me toss another prize out to one of our dedicated participants!

The next prize goes to: Candilynn! Congratulations, Candilynn! You can drop by this post to pick your prize from the remaining prizes. Email your choice to d(at)denisejaden(dot)com and I'll make sure we get it out to you!

(Just a note--the hosts are busy with their March goals as well. We don't have time to chase people around to give them prizes, so I'm afraid if you miss checking in and miss your name being announced, you'll also miss out on a prize. See, even more incentive to check in every day!)

While  trying to figure out what to make this week's post about, I couldn't stop reflecting on one particular highlight from my recent trip to Mexico. I was aboard a cruise ship, and for those of you who haven't cruised before, most big cruise ships offer nightly entertainment. I have been a professional performer for most of my life, so, to be honest, my expectations of cruise ship entertainment were not exactly high. But I still went to watch. It was something to do.

On one particular night, I was blown away, and it takes a lot to do that to me. There was a performance by an Olympic gymnast/acrobat, Lance Ringnald that was beyond skillful, plus entertaining and hilarious. The guy cracked jokes on his wireless mic as he did handstand push-ups OVER THE EDGE OF THE STAGE!

Besides that, he started juggling a variety of objects, then proceeded to plop himself down at a piano to play and sing for us!

Anyway, you may wonder how this has to do with writing and completing your March goals. I'm still working that all out. I can tell you, though, that I am feeling inspired to work harder than I have in the past, simply from being around this guy. He talked a lot about continually challenging himself in new ways (thus the juggling and musical skills) and it really inspired me in so many ways.

Lance Ringnald also wrote a book, which I picked up on the cruise ship and devoured the first half of on the plane ride home. It's an autobiography, reflecting on competition from his early years, to the Olympics, and beyond. All through the book, I couldn't help relating to him in his journey.

As writers, we pour our blood, sweat, and tears into our work. We often rewrite entire four hundred page manuscripts from scratch, only to discover that there's something vitally wrong with the entire premise. Hundreds and hundreds of hours, we pour our focus into our writing, not knowing if anything will become of it, or if it'll just end up in the Recycle Bin of our hard drives. Lance Ringnald would probably fall off of his pommel horse at the thought of comparing writing a book to Olympic gymnastic training, but I'm going to do it anyway. Because most writers I know work freakin' hard at their craft, day in and day out, not knowing if it will ever amount to anything, but having to stir up their hope each day just the same. We love it. We can't stop doing it. But it's still damn hard work. As my good author-friend Eileen Cook says, "Life would be so much easier if I really really wanted to be a plumber."

Writing--or at least writing to get traditionally published--can often feel like a competition. There's simply not enough room for all the books that are written to find a place in traditional publishing. The ones that connect with the right editor of the right publishing house on the right day is a very small number. And that's not even to mention finding the right readers for our books. There is a certain amount of kismet involved, and it can be disheartening if today just isn't your day, or if this year just isn't your year for everything to line up.

I love anything that gives me a little bit of hope to push on. I want to constantly continue to challenge myself, regardless of what rejections or acceptances I may be receiving. We can look at the writers around us and decide to hate them because they may take our coveted spot in the publishing world, or pick at the ones we feel are sub par. Or we can look to the really excellent writers and people in this world in order to draw inspiration. We can let them push us on to be better than we ever thought we could be. That's what Lance Ringnald did while training with, and then competing against, some of the best gymnasts in the world. He trained in the same gym alongside gymnasts he would be up against in his next meet. And there are things even in highly competitive gymnastics that aren't always fair. I figure we all have a choice: we can spend our time grumbling about things that are unjust, or we can go searching our world for inspiration and then doing the work to give ourselves at least a chance of success.

I will come back with a full review of Lance's book when I finish reading (it's hard to find time to read when I'm not on vacation!) but I highly recommend this book for anyone in any field who is looking for a little inspiration or added perspective.

Going into the third week of an ambitious month-long goal is usually the time I need inspiration the most. So I showed you mine...

What or who inspires you the most? Is it always something writing related, or have you found something outside of writing that you can draw inspiration from? And how has your progress been on your March goals so far?

Don't forget to check in at Kim's blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Author Interview: Jessica Brody and UNREMEMBERED!

Jessica Brody has a new book out! This one looks awesome, and it's the start of a series, so I'm really excited about that. Read on, because Jessica stopped by to talk a little about UNREMEMBERED, and left a link so you can read the first five chapters!
SUMMARY: The only thing worse than forgetting her remembering it.
 When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find a single survivor; which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating amid the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe. She has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories…period. As she struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is, every clue raises more questions. Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?
 Set in a world where science knows no boundaries and memories are manipulated UNREMEMBERED by Jessica Brody is the first novel in a compelling, romantic, and suspenseful new sci-fi trilogy for teens.


Welcome, Jessica! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?
Some memories are better left...unremembered.

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
I have to say Cody, Seraphina’s 13-year-old foster brother.
 This genre was brand new for me. My first time venturing into the world of sci-fi. And as all my contemporaries were comedies, it was oftentimes a challenge for me to write something darker and more serious (see evidence above.) Cody, however, is the comic relief of the novel. So writing him was like a little link back to my comfort zone. I always felt like I was “home” when I wrote him. And it gave me the opportunity to make fun of myself a little. While Sera’s storyline is rather dark and mysterious and all these harrowing things are happening around her, Cody can always be counted on to lighten the mood with a comedic crack on her situation. 

What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Regardless if you’re a bestselling author with twenty books under your belt or you’re just starting out, writing is a craft that needs to be constantly honed.  Try to write every day. Even if the stuff that’s coming out reads like a third grade book report. Sometimes you have to get the crap out in order to get to the good stuff. And sometimes, writing just to write is the only way to get a book done. Even if it means having to go back later and delete it all!

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 really bad poetry. No one will ever see it again. Even me.

What's the last book you read that you really loved?
I’m currently reading GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn and it is beyond brilliant. I have gasped aloud more than once. Now that’s how you know when you have a good book in your hands. 

“Unremembered is a story brimming with mystery and suspense, star-crossed love and mad scientists. I felt like a detective putting together the pieces of Seraphina’s forgotten past right along with her, and the masterful way the puzzle was finally revealed left me speechless.”—Marissa Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of Cinder

“Unremembered is an awesome book! I was pulling for Seraphina from the opening chapters, and couldn’t wait to read what happened next—and I LOVED the twist at the end.” —P.C. Cast, New York Times Bestselling author of the House of Night series.

“Gripping story…harrowing action…The first in Brody’s new science-fiction series should snare enough attention to have folks tapping their feet for the sequel.”

"Unremembered" is the first in a young adult sci-fi trilogy that is a page-turning adventure of self-discovery.” – Deseret News

“Fast-paced and sure to satisfy romance-oriented readers”


JESSICA BRODY knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples and electrical tape. She is the author of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, My Life Undecided, The Karma Club, and now, Unremembered. Her books have been translated and published in over 15 countries. She currently splits her time between California and Colorado.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Good News! (It comes in THREE'S!)

I have had some really wonderful news lately. So much that I truly feel humbled by it. Some of it is a little older news than others, but I've had to sit on it for various reasons. I think this is finally all okay to share (and even if it's not, I'm going to anyway, lest I explode.)

I was thinking I should start with the least exciting thing and work my way up, but the thing is, all three of these things are REALLY exciting, at least for me. I have to start somewhere, so let's start in the order I've heard about these awesome nuggets of news.

1. I MADE MY FIRST FOREIGN RIGHTS DEAL!!!! I know, I know, it deserves more exclamation points. But I have to save some for my other good news. I heard, quite a while ago now, that Hungarian publisher Konymolykepzo Publishing House will publish NEVER ENOUGH! They publish 200 titles per year (and mine is one of them!) such as the Twilight series, Cassandra Clare, Lauren Kate, and Becca Fitzpatrick. I'm keeping wonderful company these days!

I wasn't sure exactly when I could share this, but I just received the contracts, already signed by the publisher, so I think it's okay now.

2. I'M GOING TO HAVE AN AMAZING NEW AUDIOBOOK! I mentioned on my blog a couple of weeks ago that my first audiobook is in production with AN ULTRA-COOL NARRATOR. There were things like contracts and approvals to deal with before I could officially tell you who it is, but I think it's fine now. Especially since the audiobook should be available in only a couple of months! This is for the audiobook of LOSING FAITH, and the narrator is Becca Battoe! If you're not jumping up and down with recognition yet, I'll explain further: Becca Battoe is the narrator of the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY series!

So, um, just so we're clear...LOSING FAITH is nothing like FIFTY SHADES OF GREY in its themes and whatnot. And Becca has also narrated for authors like Judy Blume. But lets face it, I got your attention with the Fifty Shades thing. 

Becca is a very experienced, talented, and sought-after narrator and I'm absolutely THRILLED that she has taken LOSING FAITH into her production schedule. I've already had the opportunity to listen to the first fifteen minutes of LOSING FAITH. I promise you, even if you've already read the book, the audiobook is going to be so worth getting. You're going to love it from the very first line!   

3. And here is my most recent good news...I admit, this one is probably the most exciting to me, because it is the most recent. I was on the way from the airport to the cruise ship I would be boarding with my mom, just last week, when I got a very good email from my agent. 

I SOLD ANOTHER BOOK!!!!! All my March Madness/#WIPMadness buddies will appreciate this one. It's a non-fiction book for writers. Some of you may remember that I self-published WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART. While my agent loved that one, she felt it was too short to be traditionally salable. I admit, since it's been a while since I've worked on that book, my confidence wanes from time to time. I wonder if I really had anything useful to say, or if it was all just my silly drivel that no one else would truly be interested in. So, for me, when I made a deal to publish FAST FICTION with New World Library, this was a huge confidence boost for me. I really feel like a viable non-fiction AND a fiction author now. With my previous traditional publishing contracts, it took many months (I think even over a year once) to receive and finalize contracts, but with New World Library, look! It's already official!

I don't have an official synopsis of FAST FICTION yet, but I'll tell you a little bit about it. It's geared at writers who are interested in a NaNoWriMo-like challenge, but don't want to waste their time on something that will not be publishable in the end. It is made up of three parts: the first is a section on brainstorming, creating a loose story plan, and making that plan as strong as possible. The second section is a day-by-day set of tips and motivations to get writers through a month of fast drafting. The third is a very short section on revision.

I'm absolutely THRILLED that this book is going to find its place in this world and I'm so incredibly grateful for this and all of my recent good news. I've kind of been celebrating all week, with the cruise and all, but I hope you'll all still celebrate with me here. Because, really, the only people that understand the magnitude of these things are other writers, right? 

*Hands each of you a glass of virtual champagne* 

Friday, March 8, 2013

March Madness Check-In Day 8! #WIPMadness

I am so excited about this first week of March Madness! Not only have we had huge participation, but also we have bloggers and readers and illustrators involved this year! Plus we've already seen people reaching some of their goals!

Besides that, I have some more great news!  One of my favorite March Madness cohorts (ok, you're all my favorites) Deb Marshall, has just told me she'll be donating $25 for a craft book of choice to one of our lucky participants!  I'll be starting to award prizes next week,  so make sure you don't miss your name being announced at any of our check ins.

We have seen some great goals accomplished in the last week already. But...that's not true for everyone. Because sometimes life gets in the way, doesn't it?

I admit, life is getting in the way for me in a pretty good way this week. I'm writing this post from sunny Mexico! For me, this time around, it's the lure of cocktails and swimming pools and sandy beaches that has been threatening to keep my from my March Madness project. It's also been nearly impossible for me to find wifi in order to check in. But if you're struggling with health or money or relational issues, or over-commitments in your life...I have also been there.

Here's the first rule to helping yourself get back to the writing: Don't beat yourself up about it.

It's true, stuff in life will get in our way, and some of it is completely unavoidable. But I honestly think what gets MORE in our way is our own attitudes. When we feel angry or guilty or frustrated with ourselves because of our lack of production, that only multiplies the problem. So give yourself a break. Have you already had to take a day or a few days off of writing this month? It's not the end of the world. What would be worse is sitting around and moping about it for the rest of the month. See if you can make time today to squeeze in a hundred words on your latest project. It's something, and it may break the negative words that are playing on repeat in your mind.

If life is getting in your way, here's a second thing you can focus on: Use your creativity to find more time.

We are all creative people. That's why we're here. Do you have someone in your life you could ask for a little help from that would free you up for a couple of hours per week? Can you keep a pad of paper with you on your lunch hour to brainstorm plot points or snippets of dialogue? Since having a young child in my life, I have learned that I can't always have one-hour writing blocks, no matter how much I want them. It took me some time, but I've learned how to be productive in five minute slots, if that's all I have. How can you be creative in order to get more done this month?

And one more suggestion: Encourage others.

Even if you are struggling on your project, reach out at our check-ins and encourage others. Put a smile on your face as you do it, even if you don't feel like it. Don't get caught up in jealousy over those who are writing more than you (or those who are writing from Mexico). Be positive for others, even if you don't feel you can do it for yourself right now. I promise, your kind words and encouragement will come back to you just when you most need it.

So even if you haven't made the progress you'd hoped for so far this month, make a commitment with me right now to get back on that horse. We still have THREE weeks left! In the comments, tell me you're with me, or I'd love to hear how you have overcome life getting in the way of your writing, either this week or in the past. What has worked for you?

Don't forget to stop by Kim Baccellia's blog tomorrow to check in!

Friday, March 1, 2013


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. Basically, 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. 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. 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
– Shari Green will host at
Wednesdays – Angelina Hansen will host at
– Mary Ann Scott will host at

Fridays – Denise Jaden will host at 
Saturdays – Kim Baccelia will host at

Sundays – Kelsey Macke will host at

The prizes! We have some truly awesome prizes up for grabs this year! We will start by giving away a prize to one person who comments below with their goals within the next 24 hours!

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

$25 toward craft book of choice (Courtesy of Deb Marshall - International) 
First Five Pages Critique (Courtesy of Angelina Hansen - International)
First Five Pages OR Query Critique (Courtesy of Denise Jaden International)
10-Page critique (Courtesy of Jaye Robin Brown - International)

Query Critique (Courtesy of Kelsey Macke - International)

First Chapter Critique (Courtesy of Kelsey Macke - International)

First Chapter Critique (Courtesy of L.S. Taylor - International)

Bookish Jewelry (Courtesy of Mary Ann Scott - US mailing only)

Writer's Emergency Kit (A surprise pack of writerly goodness! - Courtesy of Shari Green - International)

 IF I TELL by Janet Gurtler (Courtesy of Angelina Hansen - US mailing only)

DARKBEAST by Morgan Keyes (Courtesy of L.S. Taylor - US/Canada mailing only)

Books courtesy of Kim Baccelia (US mailing only):

TEAM HUMAN by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
TIME BETWEEN US by Tamara Ireland Stone
FATHOMLESS by Jackson Pearce
 SHADOWS ON THE MOON by Zoe Marriott
CITY OF LOST SOULS by Cassandra Clare
THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas
 SPARK/STORM by Brigid Kammerer
INSIGNIA by S.J. Kincaid
OUTPOST by Ann Agguire

Books courtesy of Denise Jaden (US mailing only):

HOW I LOST YOU (SIGNED ARC!) by Janet Gurtler
SEVER (ARC) by Lauren DeStefano
RUSH (ARC) by Eve Silver
IN TOO DEEP (ARC) by Coert Voorhees
BROTHER, BROTHER (ARC) by Clay Carmichael
RIPTIDE (ARC) by Lindsey Scheibe
ALSO KNOWN AS... (ARC) by Robin Benway
FOREVERMORE (ARC) by Cindy Miles

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

AND…thank also to Kelsey Macke, 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.

I'm going to be perfectly honest about what happened with me during last March Madness. I re-wrote (from scratch) my WIP novel, FINDING HOPE. Yes, the entire thing. It was planned to be a companion novel to LOSING FAITH, but by about the third week in, I hated it--couldn't stand the plot or the characters or anything about it. I took a few deep breaths, talked to a few really wonderfully motivating writer-friends (thanks, #wipmadness!) and decided to push through. I forced myself to write the book until it at least had an ending. Then I told myself I could put it away and never look at the stupid thing again.

I'm telling you this so that if you get stuck, or if you find yourself waking up one day and despising this goal project you're not alone. Definitely not.

There is a happy ending to this story, however! It took me eleven months, but I decided to go back and read FINDING HOPE last month, just to see how horrible it was. It turned out...I loved it! It needed lots of work still, of course, but I could see with such clear eyes how to fix it and move forward and actually make this book into something someone may one day want to read!

As for this year's goal, just out of pure craziness, I'm starting another companion novel, which will tell a secondary character's story from FINDING HOPE. I don't have much of an outline for it, but I plan to push through and finish a first draft by the end of March.

How about you? What are your goals for this March? Have you done this challenge with us before, and if so, how has it worked out for you? I'd love to hear!

Don't forget to leave your goal(s) in the comments below, and head on over to Kim Baccelia's Blog  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! And if you set your goal within the next twenty-four hours below, you have a good chance at winning one right away!

ONWARD, Fearless Writers!