Monday, February 28, 2011

MARCH MADNESS IS HERE!!!

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

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

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

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

1. You set a goal here (anything writing, reading, blogging, or otherwise book related). It can be as small and simple of a goal as turning off your Internet while you write during the month of March. Or it can be as large as writing or revising an entire book.
2. You check in daily (Mon.-Fri.) at our 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, come right on back here to visit yours truly - http://www.denisejaden.com/Blog.html
Tuesdays, my fab critique partner, Shana Silver, will host the check-in - http://www.shana-silver.com
Wednesdays, my good writer friend, Angelina Hansen, who lives closer to me than any other writer will host - http://yascribe.blogspot.com
Thursdays, another good writer friend and conference buddy, Shari Green, will host  - http://sharigreen.wordpress.com/blog
Fridays, we'll show you that boys write too! I know, hard to believe, but true. Craig is also an awesome crit partner of mine! -  http://www.craigpirrall.com/craig/craigs-blog/

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

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

A book of your choice (up to $15)  from The Book Depository! (for international winners, as long as they ship to your country)
An ARC of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly! (US only)
A fifty-page manuscript critique! (again, open to international winners!)
A hardcover copy of RADIANT SHADOWS by Melissa Marr!(US only)
An ARC of THE EXILED QUEEN by Cinda Williams Chima (US only)
A $20 Barnes & Noble gift card!
A copy of DELIRIUM (ARC) by Lauren Oliver! (Canada/US only)

And we MAY still add more prizes along the way!

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

Whew!

Don't forget to leave your goal(s) in the comments below, and head on over to http://www.shana-silver.com 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!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Four!

1. If you haven't heard about March Madness yet, check out this post, because the Big Bad Goal-Setting day is coming your way this Monday! Why is it Big? Because it will take over your entire life, your friends and family won't even remember who you are!

Just kidding!

Because setting a goal is a huge accomplishment all on its own! And it doesn't actually have to be huge in the life-consuming sense. It could be as simple as "I'll turn off the Internet while I write for the month of March!" *Denise scurries to jot that down in her goal list.* Now why is it Bad, you ask? It's only bad in the ultra-coolest sense of the word! Trust me, you'll want to be back here on Monday, it's where all the really cool kids will be! Annnnd, I'll give away a pick of books from my bookshelves for one person who checks in with their goals within the first 24 hours (starting Monday morning).

What's on the shelves, you ask? Have a little look...


2. For a couple of years now I've been devouring books as quickly as I can possibly read them. But you know what I've noticed recently? The slower I read a book, the more I seem to remember it. I just recently finished a book that took me over five months to read. Honestly, I didn't really enjoy a good majority of the book, but I pushed myself to persevere because I wanted to read it for personal reasons. But upon reaching the end, I'm AMAZED at how much of the book stands out in my memory now. I'm thinking of a new strategy for the next couple of months. It'll be difficult, because there is SO MUCH that I want to read. But I'm going to choose my books carefully and read them really, really slowly - like a chapter or two a night at most - and I'll see if they're more memorable than all the others I've whipped through so far this year.

3. I'm off to teach my teen class more about novel-writing today. Sorry I didn't get a writing post up this week, but today's topic is Introduction to Characters, and we'll be having a lot of fun picking names for the characters in our new novels. We'll be talking about how multiple names with the same first letters can get confusing, and how different spellings of a name can seem to give a character a whole new feeling/personality. Hopefully next week I'll have time to share a few more thoughts on what we did and how it went!

4. As most of you have probably heard, we said goodbye to a friend from our YA community this week. LK Madigan (aka Lisa Wolfson) passed away on Wednesday morning. To be honest, my heart was so heavy about this that I just didn't feel like blogging on the subject. But I did go around and read other blogs and tributes, and what was truly wonderful and amazing was just how many lives Lisa touched. The hardest thing for her, I think, was leaving her husband and thirteen-year-old son. A trust has been set up in her son's name. You can donate by sending a check made out to the Nathan Wolfson Trust to:

Becker Capital Management, Inc.
Attn: Sharon Gueck/John Becker
1211 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2185
Portland, OR 97204

I hope you'll spend your weekend treasuring your life and being able to spend time with the people you love, as I will.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

March Madness Writing, Reading, and Blogging Challenge!

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

Annnnnd...this year I'm thinking of opening March Madness up to readers who want to challenge themselves to read more, bloggers who want to challenge themselves to blog more, and illustrators who want to challenge themselves to illustrate more! Basically, anything to do with books!

And did I mention there will be PRIZES? Prizes will not be awarded based on how much you write, read, draw, or blog, but simply on how involved you are in the Big Accountability Plan. There will be five check-in points per week (Monday-Friday). Each time you check in and record your progress, your name will be entered in a draw for some great prizes, including some high-demand ARC’s, books, gift cards, and even critiques! And not only that, but the more you encourage others along the way (in the comments) the more times your name will go into the hat!

Spread the word, and check out http://www.denisejaden.com/Blog.html this coming Monday, February 28th, to put your goals officially in writing and find out the locations of the check-in points. If you’re ready to get serious, don’t do it alone…Get serious with us!

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

I'm gung-ho to do some serious damage on my work in progress. The book I've decided to work on is an older book of mine called APPETITE FOR BEAUTY. I've been reading through several versions and picking out all the plot points that I think work to build the characters and/or the story, and arranging them in what I hope will be an order that works. It's been difficult figuring out how exactly to fit this into a month-long goal schedule, but as of now, these are the things I'm planning.

1. To finish polishing a chapter per day if the chapter involves mostly rehashing writing from older drafts.
2. To finish a chapter over three days if it involves mostly new writing.
3. (and this is my only set-in-stone goal) Finish this revision and send off to a critique partner or two by March 31st.


I'm thrilled to let you know that not only did I accomplish my goals for March Madness last year, but I also sold APPETITE FOR BEAUTY to Simon Pulse this past September!!!

That's just a little something to encourage you that goal-setting and hard work DOES pay off.

Please spread the word about this Challenge. There will be lots to win throughout the month and the more support we have, the better all of our goals will go this month! Let me just show you a little peek at some of the books I'll be letting you choose from, but believe me there will be many more prizes yet to come!




Don't forget, spread the word, and I'll see you back here next Monday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

How Are Those New Years Resolutions?

To be honest, I don't set resolutions, or at least I haven't in a few years. But I do set goals each year...and then, well, I promptly forget about them.

So if you're anything like me, perhaps you've gotten a bit off track and will appreciate this reminder to rethink what you want from this year. Several of my goals for the year revolve around writing. I'm a little behind on those ones. One of my goals revolves around getting in shape. I'm really, REALLY behind on that one!

But listen, it's only FEBRUARY! We can still do something about these goals! Or if you haven't set goals yet this year, it's absolutely not too late. Did you know that people who set out achievable goals in writing are 95-97% more likely to achieve them than those who don't? Let's do something to really catapult our lives forward in 2011! Who's with me?

I'll be doing my little part to help, both myself and anyone else who wants to set and achieve some goals. Later in the week I'll be back with more details on March Madness. So start thinking about what goals you'd like to set, both for the month of March and for the rest of the year. Then keep an eye right here on the blog to find out how you can put it in writing and make yourself accountable!

My Bookshelf Giveaway Winner!

I have one winner from this week's My Bookshelf Giveaway:

A LOVE STORY STARRING MY DEAD BEST FRIEND goes to Lisa_Gibson!

Congratulations, Lisa! Email me your address at d(at)denisejaden (dot) com and I'll get it out in the mail to you as soon as I can.

And believe me, I still have lots of books to give away! Keep watching the blog for other opportunities, coming soon!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Four!

1. Taxes.
2. I hate them.
3. Barely finding time to write, and they're sucking time from every other part of my life too.
4. I'll be back soon in better spirits.

If you're interested, I'll leave you with a fabulously informative vlog from Jackson Pearce about how books are stocked:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Swearing in YA

I was just reading a great post over at Ebony McKenna's blog about swearing in MG or YA fiction. During a recent round of edits, she was encouraged to take out a phrase that could be found offensive. I thought Ebony's reaction was very smart, and I think I would do the same.

This is a topic that's of interest to me at the moment, because my current work in progress is riddled with bad language. So much so, in fact, that it makes me uncomfortable. The thing is, though, I had to write the first draft this way to stay true to my character.

I've been discussing this with critique partners as I'm moving into draft 2 of the novel and trying to edit out as much of the language as I can. I believe wholeheartedly in staying true to characters, but at the same time, when I read a book filled with abundant curse words, I notice that most of them don't seem necessary to me. In fact, in many cases, the language will cause me to get annoyed by the voice.

So I'm making an effort to cut as many instances of bad language as I can. I figure it's hard enough to find an audience as a new writer, and I really wouldn't want something as simple as overuse of the "F" word to make readers bypass my book. What it has come down to for me, I think, is strong writing. Challenging writing. It's easy to show character, especially a rough character, with a swear word. Much, much harder to show who they are without it! But it is possible.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lovable and Admirable Characters

Back when I was a struggling writer (as opposed to now, when it just comes oh-so-easily *note sarcasm*) trying to make my inroad into the world of publishing, I used to enter a lot of writing contests. Not to win. No, seriously. The first one I entered with the aim of winning, but after the enormous bout of depression that followed, I changed my tune. I entered to get feedback that I knew I could count on as honest and impartial. I get this from my critique partners, too, but sometimes I talk through my plots so much with them that I don't know for sure if they're seeing my writing with fresh enough eyes. So I look for fresher ones.

I'm rambling. This was not at all my point. I've gotten a variety of feedback from contests, but there is one stellar little nugget of wisdom that's stuck with me beyond everything else. The judge who gave me this little bit of enlightenment also told me who she got it from, but I've searched far and wide and I can no longer find it. So this bit of writing advice needs to be attributed to somebody other than me, and if any of you know who's wisdom it is, please tell me so I can give this person a thousand kisses to their feet. Because it's been a wonderful tool for my writing arsenal.

This was the advice: Main characters should be at least two out of the following five to be engaging and lovable:


1. Extremely smart

2. Extremely talented


3.  Extremely funny


4. A victim of extremely difficult circumstances (notice how this, on its own, is not enough)


5. A superhero  (includes "saving the cat")



 This was so life-changing (or at least writing-life-changing) that I've never forgotten it. To be honest, I'm not sure that I can write a character that's extremely anything yet, because I'm not extremely smart, funny, talented, a huge victim, or a superhero. But it gives me something to strive for. And I like that.

What got me thinking about this is the book I'm reading right now, REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly. The MC, Andi, is brilliant, and I just noticed how I was immediately drawn to her. (She;'s also extremely talented AND a victim of her horrible circumstances). Also, I recently watched THE SOCIAL NETWORK and had the same reaction. This one, of course, was based in reality, but I have an enormous amount of respect for writers who can write such beautifully brilliant  dialogue.  Of all the above character traits, I think "smart" is the one I would most love to be able to write. Or maybe funny. But heck, I need two of them, so why not go for both?!

I'm curious what you think of this writing advice. Consider some of your favorite characters. Do they fit the bill? And if you disagree, what do you think it is that most makes you love characters?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Sara Bennett-Wealer and RIVAL!

Today I'm excited to welcome another Elevensie AND a fellow Contemps member, Sara Bennett-Wealer.Sara's debut novel, RIVAL, releases Feb. 15, 2011 (Today!) from HarperTeen. It is Contemporary YA, for ages 12 and up.



Welcome, Sara! Boy, it feels like I've been waiting to see this book hit the shelves forever--I can't imagine how long it seems to you! Tell me about your book in seven words or less, Sara.
Music, competition, rivalry, best friends, now enemies

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your debut novel and why?
I love Matt because he's the kind of friend everybody should have: loyal, funny, sweet and a blast to have around.

Can you tell my readers a little bit more about yourself, Sara?
I'm a very lucky person who's blessed to make her living doing something she loves.

What's been the most surprising thing about your path to publication so far?
I've been surprised at how little changes! You still get rejections. You still have stress. But you also make amazing friends, and there's nothing like connecting with a reader who really *gets* your story. You have no idea how good that will feel until it happens to you!

What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Don't wait for inspiration--just sit your butt down and write. It's OK if it sucks; that's what revision is for!

Great advice! Are you swept up with promotion for your debut book right now or can you give us a sentence or two about something new you're working on?
I wouldn't have to say much to reveal the concept for my new book, and since I don't want to spoil it, I'll stay mum! 

That seems a little unfair, but okay. I get it. But I still want to know! 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 a lot of papers, since I took AP English classes. I wrote a lot of fiction in grade school, actually, then quit during my teen years. I didn't start writing fiction again until I was in my 20s.

What's the last book you read that you really loved?
YOU WISH by Mandy Hubbard. I got to read it as a crit partner, and thought it was the most charming concept. Mandy did a great job with that story! Right now I'm reading MATCHED by Allie Condie. I wouldn't say I love it because it is creeping me out, but I do love how well it's creeping me out!

I loved YOU WISH too! And MATCHED is in my TBR pile. If readers want to find out more about you and your writing, Sara, where should they look?

Great! Thanks so much for stopping by, Sara, and all the very best with your debut!

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Bookshelf Giveaway!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! I'm happy to have my valentine home again today, as he's been out of town the last week.

Because I'm feeling extra lovey-dovey, I'm going to give another THREE books away from my bookshelf.

And the winners are...

IF ONLY YOU KNEW goes to Christitheteenlibrarian!
HOTLANTA goest to Liana!
THE KID TABLE goes to Jacinda (The Reading Housewives)

Congratulations!! Please send me your mailing address at d (at) denisejaden (dot) com as soon as you can!

I'm going to do one more week of clearing right now (mailing is getting expensive!) and then I'm going to add a whole bunch of new awesome books and save them to give away during March Madness.

For any of you who don't know, March Madness is a writing challenge through the month of March, kind of like NaNoWriMo, but without all the rules. The idea is camaraderie...helping each other along in our self-imposed goals. Keep your eye on my blog as we get closer for more details. Writers of all sorts, beginners to advanced are welcome! If you're looking for a little writing motivation and want to win some great prizes, this is the place you'll want to be during March!

Now onto my last bookshelf! Just tell me in the comments which book you'd like to win (some may be ARC's, some may be signed, most are in great condition, but there may be a few that show some wear). This contest is open for US mailing only (by the way, we will have some great INTERNATIONAL prizes during March Madness, including books of your choice and critiques!).

Choose away! And good luck!!!


Click on the above photo to see better, or here are a couple of closer up shots:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Four!

1. Apparently I cannot walk into a bookstore and come out empty-handed. I tried. But these are books I've been wanting for a while and I'm very, very excited about them:
 

2. Maggie Stiefvater once did a post detailing how much she'd spent on books one year. Since I'm in the middle of trying to get my taxes organized, I was tempted to do the same. But then I thought...what if my husband caught sight of the number? Surely I'd be cut off! Then again, he doesn't read my blog.

3. I have a really difficult time formatting pictures in Blogger, and an even worse time getting them aligned in LiveJournal. If anyone knows this Great Secret To Life, please enlighten me. You'd think it would be easy to stick pictures beside each other, or insert them here and there among text. And it probably is. I'm showing my stupidity, aren't I?

4. We're dog-sitting this week while my parents are out of town. My son is thoroughly enjoying the company and I'm back to rethinking about the possibility of getting our own puppy. What do you think? Should we get a puppy?

I'm off to teach teens at the homeschool co-op for the day. I'm teaching novel writing, and helping with a class on web design. Hopefully the web design teacher won't notice how technically dense I am.

P.S. That was really five items, I know, but I didn't number the fifth one, hoping that no one would notice. Then I decided, since I've already called myself daft twice in this post, you probably don't need another reason to think of me that way.

 Teddy and Sushi

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Secret Past of Denise Jaden

Okay, it's really not all that secretive. But this post is about my past as a reader and a writer.

I've been working on a novel-writing workshop to teach to a class of homeschooled teens for a while now. When I first suggested the idea, back in October, I thought I had loads of time to get it ready. Funny how things NEVER actually work out that way.

So tomorrow I'll be meeting my class and teaching my first workshop. I'm very excited! And okay, a little nervous. Tomorrow will mostly be an intro day - finding out about everyone's experience, interests, favorite books and so forth. That part excites me a lot, actually.

I thought I might share some excerpts on my blog along the way, and even though there's not a lot of teaching material in this excerpt, as I was going through my notes, I realized I don't think I've ever really shared much of this on my blog.

So this is just a little bit of my background on reading and writing. It's something I'll be talking through, so I'm sure I will expand and condense as it feels right, but these are some of the notes that will catapult me...

Most writers I know have wanted to be writers since they could first hold a pencil. Many of them have spent a good portion of their lives devouring books. So if that’s you, you’re in good company. If that’s not you, you’re probably a lot like me.

I grew up as a reluctant reader and writer. Through school, I spent much of my brainpower trying to figure out how to get out of reading and writing assignments. The term “reading for fun” seemed like an oxymoron to me. It didn’t make any sense.


All that changed when a friend passed along a novel to me and made me promise I would read it. “It’s that good!” he told me. I was in my twenties at the time. My friend was right. I loved it. I couldn’t put it down. And when it was finished, I rushed out to buy the sequel.(The book was KANE AND ABEL by Jeffrey Archer).

Since you’re here to write a novel, I’m assuming most of you already love something about fiction, but I encourage you over the next few months to find out exactly what you love the most. Do you love action and adventure? Romance? Beautiful language and detailed description? And why do you love those things? It took me so long to discover that I loved reading, that it really took a ridiculous amount of time to figure out what it was I loved about it!

When I first began writing, it was actually kind of journaling. Before I even realized I wanted to be an author, I created characters to endure some of what was happening in my life. The thing that surprised me the most was when the characters took on lives of their own. Soon they were doing things I’d never thought of doing. They were coming up with their own set of problems and situations, and reacting in ways that I would never be able to bring myself to, and I was just along for the ride!

My first inclination to attempt an actual novel came when I read a book by Joel Saltzman called, If You Can Talk, You Can Write. The premise behind the book is that anyone can write a book. And many, many people start writing books. It just takes a whole lot of discipline to finish one.
That book inspired me, and I was determined to be one of those Finishers! To take my characters, put them into a real novel, and finish it.
This was about eight years ago, and it took me most of a year to finish writing the first draft of that first novel. Only after I typed “The End” did the thought of publication cross my mind.


But I wasn’t completely clueless. I knew I had no training or experience. I barely had experience as a reader, for that matter. So I started to learn. I picked up every book on the craft of writing I could get my hands on. I found many at the library, and ordered several others off of eBay. I found one thing frustrating, though. Even though the books made sense to me, I had a difficult time taking the lessons and actually applying them to my writing.

Enter Critique Circle. In 2004 I found an online group at www.critiquecircle.com. I had floundered around by myself for long enough. The idea of this website is that you trade chapter-long critiques with others. I read several chapters posted by others, critiqued a few (even though I had no idea what I was talking about), and finally sucked in a big breath and pressed Post with my own first chapter.

The first critique I got back said a number of things, but this was the most memorable. “If I found this book at Barnes & Noble, I would put it down by the second paragraph.”


Ouch! But honestly, even though that could have been worded a little nicer, my determination did not stop me from trying. I went on to get better and more helpful critiques, to the point that eventually I felt ready to submit my work to a literary agent.

Or more like 50 of them. I sent query letters to many, many agents. And I received many, many rejections.

As I waited, sometimes many months, for rejections to pour back in, I started on a second book. After going through approximately the same process as the first novel, I began to query that one. Again, without success. It was my third novel, after lots of polishing and revision, that gave me my first offer of representation.


I signed with my agent on my third book in November, 2007. We sent my novel out to a slew of editors (17, I think?)  in January, 2008, and I had an offer on LOSING FAITH from Simon & Schuster by March, 2008.

And so was it in bookstores by April then, right?


Um, no. It hit bookstores in September of 2010, after three more sets of revisions with my Simon & Schuster editor.

The rest, as they say, is history!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Would You Rather Wednesday (The Business of Writing Edition)

Welcome back to another installment of Would You Rather Wednesday! The only rule is, you can't choose either or neither - you must choose one.

Some of these may seem easy for you, but they're not for me and I'd like to see if there's anyone else in the world who aligns with my thinking...

1. Would you rather...be a big fish in a small pond (i.e. small publisher that puts it's resources behind marketing you) or a small fish in a big pond (i.e. published with one of the big publishers, but getting lost in their swarm of new books)?

2. Would you rather...make a meager living by publishing articles for magazines, or publish a novel with a major publisher but not receive any payment for it?

3. Would you rather...sell a book on proposal (3 chapters and a synopsis) and have a one-month deadline to turn in a good draft of the whole thing, or sell a completed novel and have six months to work on revisions?

I'll be back with my answers later...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Teen Author Tuesday - My Picks!

Since I don't have a guest to feature this Tuesday, I thought I'd instead mention a couple of books I'm looking forward to picking up in the next season. I have lots and lots of wants right now, but I'm going to try to keep this to two for this week...



ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis. A lot of people are talking about this book, but that's not why I want to read it. First of all, here's the summary from GoodReads:

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.


Now to be perfectly honest, I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, and when I first heard that this book takes place on a spaceship, that was definitely not the point that lured me in. Here are my main reasons for wanting this book:

I first heard about Beth on Miss Snarks First Victim, which I believe had a big hand in helping her find her agent and get her start in publishing. I feel a bit of kinship with her in that way, and I've been looking forward to picking up her book since I first saw an interview with her there.

Secondly, my awesome critique partner, Shana Silver, recommended it. Now, I don't take all book recommendations from everyone. But years ago, I swore I would never like a vampire book and Shana handed me Twilight and said, "trust me." And okay, she was right. I did enjoy it. And with this book, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, she started her sentence with, "I know it's on a spaceship, but..." So I know she gets where I'm coming from. She knows what I like and believes I will like this. So I trust her. And I'll be looking to pick up a copy of this one soon.



INVINCIBLE SUMMER by Hannah Moskowitz. This one's not out until April, but I'm already pining for it. Why? First of all because I love Hannah Moskowitz. Not in a weird way. Just in kind of a fangirl, I-know-I-will-love-anything-she-writes, sort of way. If I had more time to read blogs, I would definitely read hers.

PLUS...Hannah and I share the same fantabulous editor at Simon Pulse, and I pretty much love everything my editor loves, and I've been hearing great things about this book for a while. So it's definitely on my list.

Here's the bit from GoodReads:

Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?
Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive....



Can't do it. Can't constrain myself to two. Here's one more I'm super-eager to read...


POSSESSION by Elana Johnson. Ditto everything I said above about loving everything my fantabulous editor loves...and this is another book she's helped to shape. So yeah. I want.


Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:


Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.



Go ahead, just try to tell me that doesn't sound like pure awesomeness. It's not out until June, which is closer to summer I guess, but I'm already pining away...


Those are just three, but I could go on and on. Okay, your turn. Which spring 2011 books are you looking forward to?

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Bookshelf Giveaway!

Congratulations to last week's winners!

SAPPHIQUE went to Lady Reader!
and
DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS went to The Book Pixie!

I've been posting an image of my latest books available for giving away each week. All you have to do is comment on which one you'd most like to win and I'll pick at least one winner and add at least one new book to the shelf each week. Feel free to spread the word via Twitter, etc, for extra entries. (Fine Print: Some books may be advance copies. Some may be signed by the author. Most are in great condition, but the odd one may be a bit worn. I can only mail to U.S. addresses for this contests, otherwise it costs me too much to clear my shelves!)

Here is today's bookshelf to choose from:

Click on the picture to see it bigger, or here are a couple of closer up shots:


Happy choosing!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Four!

1. I love Fridays! Not only because the weekend is upon me, but also it's my favorite day to blog. There's so much freedom in a random four!

2. If you're looking for an agent, my awesome, fantabulous agent, Michelle Humphrey has made another online appearance! My agent-mate Sherrie has interviewed Michelle on her blog, and has given some pretty specific thoughts on what she'd love to see in her query pile.

3. I'm not one of those amazingly restrained authors who can turn off Google Alerts. I admit it. I've tried, but I just think I'd rather know what people are saying about me and my books, even if it's bad. That said, here's something I've found interesting since my book release in September: Every once in a while a copy of LOSING FAITH shows up on Ebay and my Google Alert alerts me. Often a new or like new copy, but almost always for a higher price than you can find it on other online retailers. How can that be? Could anyone possibly sell a copy of my book for fifteen bucks plus shipping on Ebay when Barnes and Noble has it listed for $8.99? And if so, I guess I need to rethink what to do with the box of books in my living room!

4. Thanks to everyone who emailed me with thoughts and suggestions for my voice and contemporary fiction vlogs. I'm such a beginner at all of this, but I think I'm getting somewhere on it. I think I need to do vlogs more regularly, because otherwise I just get too nervous about them.

It's off to birthday parties and writing Valentines with my seven-year-old this weekend for me. What are you up to?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Help! Voice and Contemporary Fiction

While I have the house to myself for a short time this morning, I'm trying to work on two vlogs I have promised to two different people.

The first one is on Voice, as in the writing voice, or voice of character. My fab critique partner, |Shana Silver,  just did a great post on revising voice the other day, and I've been looking at that. The author-friend who's asked me for the vlog has also come up with a great acronym about voice. For me, voice is one of those things that's really hard to explain, but I usually know it when I find it. Which makes it really difficult to record a vlog of any value! If you have any thoughts on voice that you'd like to share, I'm all ears!

My other vlog is about contemporary fiction - why I write it, why I love to read it, why it's important. I have a few humdrum thoughts on this subject too, but if you have any ideas to add, I'd love to hear them!

Thanks! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Would You Rather Wednesday (Reader's Edition)

It's been a while since we've played this game! The only rule is, you can't answer either or neither. You must pick one! Leave your answers in the comments and I'll be back later with mine.

Would you rather... Read a book set in an extremely historic time period, or one set in an extremely futuristic time period (1000 years or more)?

Would you rather... Read a novel where the main character is a bit too sweet, or a bit too mean?

Would you rather... Read a book that's very entertaining but poorly written, or one that's beautifully written but a bit on the boring side?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Terry Lynn Johnson and DOGSLED DREAMS!

I'm really excited to get back to Teen Author Tuesdays on my blog! And I'm extra excited that 2011 has started, and with it, a whole new group of debut authors! With so many new books out there each year, and as a new author myself, I'm all about supporting and getting the word out about books that could otherwise get lost among the shuffle. I encourage you to give new books by debut authors a chance. And if you can't afford to buy them, that's okay. Just recommend them to your local bookstore or library. Every little bit helps!

Now, onto my guest for today! Terry Lynn Johnson is a member of The Elevensies. Her debut,

DOGSLED DREAMS, released January 6, 2011 from 4RV Publishing. It is an Outdoor Adventure, for middle grade readers, ages 8 and up.



Welcome, Terry Lynn! Can you tell us about your book in seven words or less?

sled dogs, adventure, family, self-doubt, trust, flying poo missiles

Flying poo missiles? Now what kid is not going to be hooked by that! Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your debut novel and why?

One of the dogs, Tarzan, smiles like a person showing all his teeth

Can you tell my readers a little bit more about yourself, Terry Lynn?
I live in northern Ontario, Canada. Some of my favourite things are canoe racing, snowshoeing, brownies, the first and only season of Firefly, and dog breath.


A fellow Canadian! Great! What's been the most surprising thing about your path to publication so
far?

The love and support bursting forth from readers and writers online.

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

Write your passion, don't try to follow the trends.

Great advice. I wholeheartedly agree. Are you swept up with promotion for your debut book right now or can you give us a sentence or two about something new you're working on?

I'm working on another YA sled dog adventure about a competitive musher who gets lost with her team on a training run in the Alaskan wilderness and finds a boy with a secret.

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 cheesy science fiction stories and I've kept a journal for years.

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

VESPER by Jeff Sampson

If readers want to find out more about you and your writing, where should they look?

My website: www.terrylynnjohnson.com
My facebook: www.facebook.com/DogsledDreams
My Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/TerryLynnJ
My Blog: http://terrylynnjohnson.blogspot.com

Thanks for visiting, Terry Lynn!

Terry Lynn also has a great book trailer for DOGSLED DREAMS. Enjoy!!