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Monday, April 29, 2013

#Books #Contest #Awesome - Including ARC's by @SarahDessen @JanetGurtler and @LaurenDeStefano

I am concerned for the state of my overtaxed bookshelves! As I mentioned last week, I really need to pass along some of these books. So here is what I'm giving away:


Most of these are advance copies of books from ALA, but I couldn't send the box away with space left in it, so I added some others that I could fit in there as well. A couple of these books (including HOW I LOST YOU by Janet Gurtler) have even been signed by the author!

As most of you know, I'm always thinking of what I can do to help out other authors and keep people reading books. With that in mind, here is how you can enter to win this ENTIRE BOX OF BOOKS:
Write a review for a book that you love, and link to that review in the comments here. You can enter as many times as you like by writing as many new reviews as you can and linking them here. All eligible reviews must be dated between April 29th and May 6th, 2013. They can be posted anywhere publicly (Amazon, B&N, your blog, etc) and can be the same review posted different places (just make sure to leave a link for each). It doesn't matter when you read these books, or what books they are--the reviews just have to be current.
I wish I could send this box of books anywhere, but due to mailing costs, I can only mail it out to a US address (or drop it off somewhere if you live around Vancouver, Canada). I'll be back to pick a winner next week.

Happy reading and reviewing!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Four!

1. What am I reading? I seem to be on a non-fiction kick lately. This week, I'm reading a book called SPEAK AND GROW RICH, mostly because I've been sending out a few conference proposals, and I'd like to become a better speaker. The book comes highly recommended by a bunch of great speakers, but so far I'm not finding a ton of it applicable to what I'm looking for. Hopefully that will change.

2. What am I writing? I finished up my draft of MAKING MIRACLES last week and sent it out to a few beta readers (thank you all so much for offering!) This week I'm back to working on FINDING HOPE. This is a companion novel to LOSING FAITH, told in Tessa's point of view. I did a quick read-through to refresh myself, and I really like this book. It's very thriller-ish, at least in the second half. I have three very full pages of notes to implement, but then I will be looking for readers for this one too.

3. While my husband is judging a bodybuilding competition in Seattle this weekend, I will be having a focused writing weekend. I try to do this at least once a year. I don't need anything special for a writing weekend--just my laptop and time to myself, maybe a couple of good books for inspiration--but I'm really, really looking forward to this.

4. Contest! I have SO MANY EXTRA BOOKS around here, including ARC's from ALA (even the new Sarah Dessen ARC) and books that I have or haven't read that will simply no longer fit on my shelves. Stay tuned next week because I have to get rid of some of these soon lest my house collapse under the weight of books (did I mention my husband is also a collector of books?)

So check back next week! And happy weekend to you all!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Would You Rather Wednesday! - Writing and Publishing

In the interest of getting to know you, here is another edition of Would You Rather Wednesday!

The only rule is that you have to answer one or the other of the choices below, even if your answer lies somewhere in between (or even if you want to say "neither") If you're not a writer, feel free to speculate on how you think you would feel if you were a writer facing some of these choices.

1. Would you rather...write a first draft...or...revise a draft already written?

2. Would you rather...give a harsh critique...or...get a harsh critique?

3. Would you rather...receive a bunch of rejections at once...or...have your rejections trickle in one at a time over several months?

4. Would you rather...work with a publisher who will not help make your book better but will help you promote it...or...work with a publisher who will not promote your book but will help you make your book a lot better?

5. Would you rather...work with a small publisher with no advance but they think the world of you and your manuscripts...or...work with a big publisher with a big advance but your editor doesn't remember your name or what book you wrote?

I look forward to your answers and I'll be back later to add mine to the comments.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Four!

1. What am I reading? I'm sad to say I've given up on two audiobooks I was listening to this week. They were from the library, and were both coming due. I listened to them about 1/3 of the way into each to see which one I wanted to renew, but it turned out I didn't want to renew either. I'm always disappointed and sometimes even feel like it's my fault when I give up on a book. Does anyone else feel that way?

I have been reading another book I've been enjoying, though, and I recommend it for any writer who has ever struggled with frustration about the business of writing and publishing. It's called THE WRITER'S BOOK OF HOPE by Ralph Keyes. Lots of wise words in here, and any book that makes a writer feel less alone is a good one I think.


2. What am I writing? I'm just finishing up a read-through of MAKING MIRACLES. To be honest, all through the last revision I was second-guessing myself on most of the changes I was making, but now, reading it over, I think I like them! A good sign, but I also know that sometimes we as writers don't have a lot of great perspective on our own work.

3. So...I'm looking for some early readers for this book. It doesn't matter whether you're a writer or not, I just need a couple of readers who enjoy reading fiction, are willing to be open and honest about their thoughts, and want to have a hand in shaping the final product of this book (it is still a work in progress, so there's a good chance I will still make some changes). I'm looking for people who can give feedback on a variety of areas: miracles and traveling ministry, high school life, high school sports, a setting in the southern states. If you think you can lend some wisdom to any of these areas, or just don't mind reading about them, I'd love your input. Plus, I have some very specific questions about whether things I've implemented in this latest draft are working or not. If you're interested, please email me at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com

4. It's my husband's birthday this weekend. We normally celebrate by attending a huge bodybuilding competition in Seattle. This year we just found out the competition was moved to a later date when my husband will unfortunately be out of town. (I'm not exactly crying my eyes out about this, but don't tell my husband that). So...looking for something to do instead, we discovered that Comic-Con is on in Vancouver this weekend. I've never been to a Comic-Con, but I'm kind of excited about checking it out. Maybe I'll even dress up!

What are you up to this weekend? What are you reading? Anything good?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Would You Rather Wednesday - Goals!

We were playing a game of Scruples with our best friends over the weekend. If you've never played Scruples, it's a game where you ask each other deep ethical questions and try to predict the other's answers. Because we've known these friends for over twenty years, I admit, I thought the game would be fairly easy.

Not so! I was surprised by several answers, which got me to thinking about how little I know people and how much more I'd like to. I've always loved the study of human nature, looking for the ways we are the same, and also the ways we are all different, and so I thought it was due time for another round of Would You Rather. This one is focused on goals (more coming on that soon!)

There are no wrong answers! The only rule is, you have to choose one or the other, even if your actual answer would fall somewhere in between. So here are three Would You Rather questions for this week:

1. Would you rather... set small easy goals you know you will achieve...or...set challenging goals you probably will not achieve

2. Would you rather...tell everyone you know about your goals from when you first set them for accountability...or...keep your goals quiet until you achieve them.

3. Would you rather...conquer one goal and then move onto the next...or...have lots of goals on the go at once?

Let's play! I can't wait to hear your answers, and I'll be back to add mine to the comments later!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Five

1. What I'm reading: I'm reading a book by one of my favorite authors right now. I won't mention who it is, or what the book is, because my compassionate side won't let me say things publicly that could hurt another writer. But this book took me 161 pages to get into. ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY ONE! I remember when I'd give a book a chapter or two to hook me, if not, I'd move on to something else. Now I generally give a book about a hundred pages (it's the compassion thing again, because I know how much it would hurt if someone put my book down after only a chapter or two). Because this was one of my favorite authors, though, I kept pushing on. And finally it DID start to hook me. But 161 pages in? It does make me wonder if lots of other people will give up on this book. How many pages do you usually give a book before moving on?

2. What ELSE I'm reading: The bright side is, I'm also reading a book that I really love. I finished reading IT'S NOT JUST GYMNASTICS; IT'S LIFE by Lance Ringnald a week or two ago. I'm supposed to be starting on a novel study with my son for homeschool, but I admit, I was not feeling motivated at all about that. I just don't enjoy most of the books that are at my son's reading level, so I find myself tuning out when he's reading to me. So I decided to use this book by Lance Ringnald instead (I wanted to read it with my son anyway). It's not a novel, and it's a bit above his reading level, but I'm helping him with the reading and making up my own rudimentary study guide to go with it. It's making the whole process of schooling him enjoyable for me (and for him!) so that has been my bright spot of reading lately. It has also sparked some great conversations about the emotional turmoil of competition, as my son competes in judo tournaments regularly and definitely has his ups and downs about it.

3. Speaking of good books: I mentioned in an earlier post that my goal this year was not to read a plethora of books, but instead to try and find 12 books I really love this year. To that end, I decided to start a list of these 12 awesome books in the sidebar. If you ever have something to recommend to me (really excellent amazing books only, please!) I'd love to hear about them!

4. What I'm writing: I got pretty sidetracked with finishing up the audiobook for LOSING FAITH, but now I'm finally back to revising my work in progress, MAKING MIRACLES. The title is still not something I totally love, but I'm really having fun with this book. Here is the logline (another pitch I wrote myself--I do think I'm getting better at this!) Wild-child Delaney Peters tries to impress her friends by attempting to punk a religious tent meeting, but instead starts experiencing strange and increasingly embarrassing miracles.


As I've been getting beta feedback on this one, it seems like readers' main struggles in this book is over the miracles I've chosen to show. They either want them to be bigger and wilder miracles, or some readers want them to be tamer and something they would have an easier time believing. Would you rather read about big, wild miracles that may stretch your suspension of disbelief, or miracles that would kind of fall into the background because you have no problem believing them? This is the question I'm struggling with right now. I'll be looking for more beta readers for this one soon if anyone is interested.

5. We have out of town friends visiting at the moment, which usually means two things for us: Anton's Pasta and Theatresports--two of our favorite things. If you ever visit Vancouver, Anton's is a must (you can recognize it by the lineup down the street). Hoping for some sunshine or our Arizonian friends are going to freeze!

What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Updates!

Sorry if I've kind of fallen off the face of the blogosphere lately. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen me going on and on about my new audiobook for LOSING FAITH. Sorry, I couldn't help myself, because I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS! But I have had to go through the entire thing twice in the last week, on top of many other obligations, and it has kept me very busy.

For those who haven't heard, Becca Battoe--the narrator of the FIFTY SHADES books--has been hard at work bringing LOSING FAITH to life, and she has done such an amazing job with it! She just finished, and so the audiobook should be available in about two weeks through Amazon, Audible, and ITunes.

But...for now, I wanted to give you a sneak peek! This is a short sample from the end of chapter two (hoping this works--I've never added an audio clip to my blog before). Let me set it up for you just a little. Brie is the main character, and during chapter one, she lies to her older sister Faith in order to get her out of the house and drive Brie to meet her secret boyfriend. At a party with her boyfriend later that night, Brie receives a broken-up phone call from her dad, telling her to come to the hospital. Her BFFN (best friend for now) Amy is driving her...



What do you think???

Besides that bit of excitement, I also have a publishing date (or at least month) for my next book! It looks like FAST FICTION will be out from New World Library in March 2014! This may seem like a long time, but with my first two books with Simon & Schuster, it actually took 18-24 months from offer to the books hitting the bookshelves.

I'm thrilled about the timing, because it will be available for March Madness, and Camp NaNo, and there will also be lots of lead time to get it in the hands of next year's NaNoWriMo participants.

I also have jacket copy! Another difference between a big publisher and small one (there are lots, and I'm sure I'll be giving you plenty of glimpses over the coming months) is that I was asked to write my own jacket copy summary (with S&S my editors did this for me). I admit, I was pretty nervous about it. I've never felt very talented in the "pitching" or selling your work department. But it seems I have to do that more and more lately. My agent recently asked me to write up a short pitch for one of my books as well.

Funny story...right after I made the deal for my first book, I went to my very first author event in Vancouver. It was with Ally Carter, and I got a chance to chat with her afterward. I remember telling her that I was so glad that I had an agent now, and had sold my first book, because now I wouldn't have to pitch my work anymore. She told me (paraphrased) "Oh no, this is just the beginning of pitching your books," and boy was she ever right!

Anyway, my editor at NWL likes the jacket copy I wrote, so even though I'm a little nervous to share it, I figure I better get used to it. Here is what FAST FICTION is about...
Fast Fiction is a step-by-step guide to writing a structurally sound and engaging draft of a novel in the shortest time possible. It is not a get-rich-quick plan for taking over the world of publishing, but rather a strong starting point for ditching time-wasters and detouring frustration. It will give you a map to let you decide where you want to go with your story and how to get there by the most direct route.
Thoughts? I still wonder if I should add something in there about motivation, because the whole middle section is really a motivational section to keep people writing every day. Hmmm.

Anyway, thanks for sharing in my little bits of exciting news with me! Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

On Motivation, Writer's Block, and Avoiding Discouragement...


One of the most common questions I get asked by other writers is about how to stay motivated through a draft (or many drafts) of a novel. Also, how to avoid writer's block. How to avoid discouragement and keep pushing ahead.

It's funny, because often people phrase their questions this way..."Before you were published, how did you stay motivated in writing and revising a book?" I think this is funny because things like motivation and writer's block don't magically change once you get a book published. Or if they do, they get worse. As for discouragement...rejection is a much more common occurrence in my life now than it ever was pre-pub.

Anyway, I do have some thoughts on the subject, so I thought I'd share.

1. On staying motivated: I love writing, for the most part, I love my stories and characters, and so I actually expend much more energy trying to motivate myself to clean the house or teach my son than I do motivating myself to work on my books. I get a lot of thinking and brainstorming time, but not as much actual writing time as I'd like. So when I have writing time, I'm thrilled and I already have plenty of ideas brewing and ready to launch from my fingertips into my computer.

Even though I don't struggle terribly with motivating myself to write, that's not to say I never struggle with feeling motivated. I go to the gym five or six days per week, but do you know how many of those days I usually feel like going? Maybe one. Here is what I've learned about motivating myself, though. If there's something pleasant in it for me, and if I take away the pressure to perform, it's not such a problem to motivate myself.

So here's what I do (and you can apply this to any area of your life, including writing): I keep an awesomely exciting book in my gym bag. I tell myself I can read a chapter while I warm up, as long as I get myself to the gym. After that, I can go home if I want to. The thing is, I almost never go home without a workout--and it usually ends up being a pretty decent workout.

If you're having trouble with motivation, maybe you need to take the pressure off. Tell yourself you only have to write a warm-up page. Or a paragraph. Then if you want to stop, you can (I'll bet you won't want to!) Rewards in the form of reading a good book (or chocolate) are always awesome too. I also highly believe in setting goals, but more on that next week...

2. On avoiding writer's block: Because of the above, I don't struggle with writer's block. I believe in writing every day. Momentum builds momentum. If I'm in my story in some way each day, it's usually not too difficult to move forward. After having to take a few days off, for whatever reason, I always dread going back to it (which is stupid, because I love working on my stories! But it only takes a couple of days to forget that.) So I say write every day if there is any way to make that happen, and think about your stories when you're not writing. Also, give yourself permission to write utter garbage once in a while. Usually writers don't feel blocked because they have nothing to write. Writers feel blocked because they fear they won't write well.

3. On avoiding discouragement: I think of my writing and publishing ventures as very separate entities. When I'm writing, I don't think AT ALL about the publishing process for that particular book. I write the book mostly for myself at first, and start to think about the audience much later. By the time a book is ready for me to pursue publication, I've usually had a very long break from reading it. It has had to go through several beta readers' hands, and it often takes time for my agent to be able to look at it. So by the time one of my books actually goes out to publishers, I'm very much distanced from the work and into another work in progress. Rejections may pour in, but because I've had so much time away from it and I'm so swept up in something new, they don't hit as hard as they used to. I always encourage other writers--the best thing you can do for your sanity when pursuing publication is to work on something else. Unrelated! Not a sequel!

Those are my thoughts on motivation, discouragement, and writer's block. How about yours? How do you deal with these things?

Monday, April 1, 2013

March Madness Prizes - Tying Up Loose Ends!

Good thing I set up this blog post ahead of time. If you've known me for over a year, you'll know that April Fool's Day is a SCARY place to be in my household. Especially now that my son is growing older. I'll be back to report the horrors...

How did March Madness Writing, Blogging, Reading, and Illustrating Challenge go for you? I think we had a few illustrators to start with, and a few bloggers who made it to the finish line with us, but I think for the most part we were mostly a group of struggling (but overcoming) writers.

Did you meet your goals? Come close? Set new ones? How many of you are continuing on into April?

If you are, I hope you'll continue to join us. We 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 host through April, so make sure to stop by her blog and let us know how it's going.

As I mentioned, there are some leftover prizes from March Madness still available. I've been thinking of what to do about this, and here is what I think will be the easiest: If you have checked in at least four times (or once a week) during March Madness, and have NOT won a prize yet, please email me at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com. I'll make sure you get something you'll like :-)

As for the rest of you, I hope you are receiving your prizes and enjoying them! I'd love to hear how you decided to celebrate the completion of your madness. For me, I've chosen the standard wine and chocolate...and I get to go back to a work in progress I've been really excited about. How about you?