Monday, October 31, 2011

Aloha Oe!

NaNoWriMo is upon us and I'm going to be very busy for the month of November. But instead of saying goodbye, or promising I won't be blogging at all during the next month, I'll say Aloha Oe, which loosely translates to "Until we meet again."

I'll be around throughout the month to let you know how my NaNo project is going, to give away that copy of Losing Faith, and for a blog hop with some awesome prizes next week, but I probably won't be saying much coherent on here otherwise.

Wish me luck! I'm still undecided on which project I'll be starting at seven AM tomorrow. Nothing like leaving things until the eleventh hour...

All the best to everyone else attempting NaNo. It's only a month. Give it all you've got, and I promise you won't regret the effort. You can find me on their site under denisej. And of course I'll be around on Twitter under @denisejaden

Hope everyone has a wonderful November!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Boring Post

I warned you, this post has nothing exciting to say. I'm two days away from blogging every day of October, though, so I must finish!

Last night my husband and I went to a friends house. Kind of a party. Not really a Halloween party. During the day we discussed how it hadn't even occurred to us to dress up in costume and find a fun costumey place to go this year. We think this is a sure sign that we are getting old.

Today I slept until almost ten, which I haven't done in YEARS. Then I had an all day practice with my Polynesian dance group. I'm tired, but the pumpkins have yet to be carved, so I better run.

Let's hope tomorrow's post will be slightly more exciting! Did you do anything fun for Halloween? (Or will you tomorrow?)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Eek! It's October 29th and I almost missed my first day of blogging this month! I just remembered, and I'm about to go out, so a couple of things real quick...

1. I haven't forgotten about the NEVER ENOUGH Cover Reveal Contest. I'll still be giving away my signed copy of a 2nd printing edition of LOSING FAITH, but I just wanted to give a little extra time for people who mentioned they would be featuring my new cover soon.

2. I'm still gearing up for NaNoWriMo, but I'm thinking I may be changing projects at the last minute. My agent and I need to discuss my "Tessa" project before I'll be able to write that, and I'm not sure we'll be able to accomplish that before Tuesday. I do have a couple of other outlines semi-ready, so I hope to look at those over the weekend.

3. I'm doing my very first school visit this coming week! I'm very excited, and I probably would be really nervous, but I'll be going in to talk to a class who's attempting NaNoWriMo, and I love talking about that so much that it's actually keeping me fairly calm. I'll be back to let you know how it goes.

I'm getting dragged away by my toenails here, so I have to run. Happy weekend, everybody!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

How to Write a Logline

Over the weekend at the Surrey Writers' Conference, one of the most useful things I took home was a simple formula of how to write a logline, courtesy of Luke Ryan from Disruption Entertainment.

During his workshop, he had the ability to make so much of the screenwriting and targeting your audience processes seem so easy. I don't have much time to blog today, so thought I'd pass along his formula.

Fill in the blanks from your work in progress (and if you can't easily fill in the blanks, perhaps that will point you to a potential problem or an area of your manuscript you can make stronger).

I'm interested to hear if you think this is as useful as I do!

Luke's Logline Formula:

____________________ (Main Character) sets out to ___________________________________________________(achieve a goal) but runs into ___________________________________________________(unexpected or sometimes ironic obstacle) and must
__________________________________________________(grow in a way to triumph or face certain doom.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Book Bloggers, Teachers, Librarians, and Booksellers

I was going to add this to yesterday's post, but thought that post would get far too long. Because I have plenty of thankfulness when it comes to bloggers, teachers, librarians, and booksellers. In fact, you're even in my acknowledgements for NEVER ENOUGH (I wanted to put you in big flashing neon lights, but that was vetoed at higher levels because of cost). I'm now moving into publishing my second novel. I'm not Sarah Dessen or JK Rowling. And yet, I'm seeing support already, all over the place, for NEVER ENOUGH. My gratitude is huge.

Let me start with Book Bloggers, because you hold a very special place in my heart. You gave my debut book a chance before it was even released, before you had even heard of me, and not only that, but you plastered it all over the Internet, telling others they should read it too. Whenever anyone questions the value of book bloggers, I want to punch them in the nose.

Teachers: I feel for you. You get a bad rap a lot of the time, and I feel worse, because I gave you a bad rap for many years. It's the same kind of regret I feel for not noticing how great my parents were when I was at that age where everybody sucked. You deal with that age--that suck rep--every day. You shape the next generation, and open their eyes to so many great things (like books they might not pick up otherwise). You deserve a medal for putting up with ungrateful kids like I was.

Librarians: Let me just say, that as a profession in general, you are some of my favorite people in the world. There is nothing more refreshing to me than to walk into a building (a library) where I *know* I will end up running into someone passionate about books. I could hang with you people all day long.

Booksellers: Of anybody on this list, I feel a kinship with you. You have to mesh what you love with what sells every day. And sometimes you don't get to sell what you love. But when you do, you make sure everybody knows about it. I'm so incredible thankful for the many bookstores that carried my first novel--that took a chance on me--and even put extra care into displaying my book and hand-selling it to your customers.

This is why, when I received an extra galley of NEVER ENOUGH this week, all of you were first on my thoughts. I wanted so badly to get my next book into your hands. If you fit into the list above, or even if you don't, but you really want to read and help spread the word about NEVER ENOUGH, make sure to sign up and get on the ARC Tour. I hope everyone who wants to gets a chance to read it and I hope you love it!

Thank you again, all of you, for everything you do!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bloggers! Teachers! Librarians! Want to Read NEVER ENOUGH?!

Eeeeeeee, look what I got in the mail this week:

Even the spine is so pretty!! For those of you who don't know anything about this book yet, it is my second YA Contemporary novel and will be releasing from Simon Pulse / Simon & Schuster in July 2012.

Here's the little back of book synopsis:

Never Enough

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like
her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts
flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it
takes to feel special…even if that means
betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers
that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for
perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a
dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws
from friends and family, Loann struggles to
understand her and make amends. Can she heal their
relationship—and her sister—before it’s too late?

I already put one call out for bloggers, teachers, and librarians who want to read this, and I did receive a number of emails from people, but I thought it would be easier to keep track of to add a form here, then I can make sure I get the same info from everybody. Also, at this point I can only open this up to people with a Canadian or US mailing address. I'm still hoping NEVER ENOUGH will be available some other ways for overseas bloggers. I'll let you know when I have details.

But before I get to the form, I want to ask a few favors from you.

First, this is really EARLY to have an advance copy, but since I only have TWO copies (with one of them I will look like Gollum and his Precious, so don't be thinking you'll pry that one out of my greedy little hands ;) But I'd like to make sure my one "spare" galley makes it through to as many people who want to read it as possible. So I'd like to start it on it's tour right away!

I'd love to ask if you read it, if you'd save any reviews you might post until at least April 2012.

I'd also ask that you be gentle on the book, so it can hopefully hold together for as many people on the list as possible.

Please read and pass on to the next person as quickly as possible, hopefully within two weeks (if you know you won't be able to do this, make a note and I'll try to put you closer to the end of the list).

I think that's it! Please full out the form below thoroughly if you're interested in reading an early copy of NEVER ENOUGH!!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spotlight on VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez!

While away at the Surrey International Writers' Conference, you may think I was hanging in the bar, partying my nights away. But no. My wonderful editor had just sent me a couple of books the week before, and there was one in particular that I Could. Not. Put. Down. So, yes, I was the girl who sat in her hotel room reading every chance she got!

This book captivated me from the first page. I loved being taken into the world of a teen professional performer, as I was one of those (to a lesser degree than Carmen) myself. Did I mention there's a hot British boy in it too?


Here's the synopsis from the back of the book:


About Jessica (a fellow Canadian, I might add): Jessica was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. As a child she  played the violin, read books and climbed trees incessantly. She went on to study English and music at Brigham Young University, and since then has been a high school English teacher, symphony violinist, elementary school teacher, violin teacher, and mother. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and two children.

I don't generally review books on the blog, but when I find a book I love, I want to share it. I hope you'll pick up a copy of VIRTUOSITY and because Jessica is also pretty hilarious, you should follow her on Twitter.

Monday, October 24, 2011

#SIWC2011 Recap!

I had a great time at the Surrey International Writers' Conference. It was the 19th year, and you know what that means. Next year is the big 2-0, which promises to be a huge celebration. The theme will be Roaring 20's, and there will be a big dress up gala on the Saturday night. Write it on your calendar now: October 19-21,2012.

But I'm getting ahead of myself! What about THIS year? I went to some great workshops and took oodles of notes. I'll have to spend a bit of time sorting through them and figuring out what will make sense to you, but here are a few of the highlights:

On Thursday I took in Donald Maass's Master Class: Impossible to Put Down: Mastering the three levels of story to construct a gripping novel. Don talked about the iron skeleton, upon which the big problem of the novel is built, the scene by scene tension, and the micro-tension.

 My biggest takeaway phrase from this class was: "What would you do in your story if you were a braver writer?" Don spent a lot of time helping us wrap our mind around pushing the boundaries and our characters further in our novels.

One of my favorite workshop presenters was my friend, Eileen Cook (and I'm not just saying that because I like her, either!) She came prepared with notes and jokes (she goes everywhere with those), and even movie clips. One of her workshops was on tension (Make War, Not Peace) and talked about how we can take the rules of counseling on how to resolve conflict and reverse them to put our characters into some entertaining situations.

Eileen's other workshop was on the stages of change. Her made-up character "Stan" went on a hilarious and though-provoking journey throughout the class as she took him through the stages of change - starting with getting hit by a bus. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop or writing class from Eileen Cook, I highly recommend it!

 I also enjoyed taking a screenwriting class from Luke Ryan, and even though I'm not a screenwriter, I've always found the principals of screenwriting extremely helpful with novel-writing. He talked about appealing to the four quadrants of viewers: under 25 year old men, over 25 men, under 25 women, and over 25 women, as well as what producers are looking for and why.

Hallie Ephron is another great teacher. Several years ago I took a mystery-writing workshop from her, and I still refer back to my notes from that class. This year, I was able to glean some insight on beginnings and endings, and suspense-writing.

There were lots of other wonderful workshops, and I'll be back later this week with some notes. The food was awesome. The company was even better (*waves hello to the Calgary ladies and all the new folks I met this year*) but probably a highlight for most people was seeing Donald Maass strip an auctioned T-shirt off of Robert Dugoni. True story.

Any of you who were not fortunate enough to attend this year's conference, I highly recommend listening to this inspiring (and funny) keynote by Robert Dugoni:


http://booksontheradio.ca/2011/10/21/robert-dugoni-this-day-we-write-live-audio-from-surrey-international-writers-conference/

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Conferences and Kismet

I'm having a great time at the Surrey International Writer's Conference. I've blogged a bit about this idea before, but this conference has reminded me again that kismet is key to the business of writing and publishing. But the thing is, there's not a lot of opportunity for kismet when you're sitting in your house.

I know it's not always possible to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to go to writing conferences. I was extremely blessed this year to receive a grant from the Access Copyright Foundation, which has covered my conference expenses for this weekend. But even if you can't attend a conference, I encourage you to get off of your computer once in a while, get out around other writers, booksellers, librarians, whomever, and get some facetime that's focused on writing and books.

Every time I've come to this conference, or any writing conference, actually, I've had moments of kismet that I can look back on and pinpoint--certain people I've spoken to that have ended up making a difference in my writing life and/or career. In every one of these cases, it took a little bit of coming out of my comfort zone to make the opportunity happen.

This weekend I've seen friends of mine get really impacting writing advice, find new opportunities, and one friend even got an offer of representation right on the spot here. I've had several very informative conversations with professionals about foreign rights, e-rights, film options, and many other things. Not only do I feel enlightened, but I have some new contacts in the business, some of which I have high hopes will be fruitful.

So I encourage you...step out. Talk to someone new about books and writing, and see where it leads. Even if it's a little uncomfortable.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Stuff

I'm at the Surrey International Writer's Conference and having a fabulous time. Plenty to do here, so just a quick update:

No, I did not shake hands (or offer a signed copy of LOSING FAITH) to the ex-presidents.

But...much more exciting....I have been able to hang out with some great authors, including Eileen Cook, KC Dyer, Elizabeth Boyle, Elena Aitkin, and the ultra-fun Calgary gals! (One of these ladies even got an offer of representation right at the conference! - Which is understandable if you hear her pitch. Still laughing out loud thinking about it).

Aside from celebratory drinks and laughs, I've also been taking some great workshops! Highlights include a great workshop on screenwriting by Luke Ryan (I'll be back this week sharing his extremely easy way of writing a logline), a wonderful, in-depth master class with Donald Maass on making your book a page-turner, and an inspiring keynote by Robert Dugoni.

And I still have two days left of the conference!

I'm just starting another session right now, but I'll be back with more. Lots to share!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Free! Frightful! Horror-Filled Fun!

With Halloween approaching, I wanted to let you all know about a fright-filled new ebook. And the best part? It's completely FREE.

It's releasing today (October 21st, 2011), for ages 9-99.

Why will you like it? I'll tell you...
The Broken Thing is a modern paranormal middle-grade thrill ride full of action, suspense, and ghosts. With a main character and best friend that both boys and girls will relate to, the story moves at a fast and frightening pace. It’s fun, scary, and will get kids thinking about what might be out there, just outside of what they can see. And why maybe they’d rather not find out.




Here's a little description:
Stevie Barton loves a scary story, until he finds himself living one! Two days before Halloween in Newhope Nohope, Vermont, Stevie discovers a mysterious antique toy sitting in the spooky forest the townspeople call The Grove. He pockets the abandoned toy, but a local bully drives him deeper into the dark forest. Soon, Stevie learns that the bully is the least of his worries. Something evil slept in those dark woods, and he woke it. Now the evil is after him! Along with his best friend Angie Lewis, Stevie must find and stop the horror before it finds him.

About the Author:
Peter Swift grew up in a small town outside of Philadelphia. He was surrounded by ancient places steeped in legend, mystery, and myth. Dark forests, abandoned houses, and overgrown cemeteries were a very real part of Peter’s childhood adventures and explorations, and his imagination often populated these places with ghosts and monsters, both light and dark.

Where to get it: (The most important part, right?!)
Fright Files: The Broken Thing is the first book in the Beware the Author series. All of the stories are independent of one another, so readers can pick up only those they find most interesting. As a promotion, Peter is giving away this first book for free digitally on his website. If you like it, he only asks that you share it with friends, and consider reading more of the Fright Files as they become available. Please stop by his website and click on the “Follow Me” tab to keep up with the world of Peter Swift’s Fright Files. You can also sign up for his newsletter there, which will inform you as the books become available.

www.frightfiles.com
www.peterswiftbooks.com

I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of The Broken Thing on my Kindle (Yes! It works on Kindle!) and I'm going to read a little each night between now and Halloween (just so I can be really scared by then! LOL. Hope you check it out, and let anyone who has kids who like a good, clean-but-thrilling story know!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

#SIWC Madness!

Last night I was excitedly getting ready to go to the Surrey International Writer's Conference, when an email popped up in my inbox from the conference coordinator. The email was instructing all of us "Master Class Attendees" to arrive plenty early today. Why, you ask?

Because--I kid you not--Bill Clinton and George W. Bush would be sharing the hotel with us today.

So I arrived early, as instructed, to this:





In case you can't make it out in the pictures, there are protestors galore (and I'm not going to repeat the things they are yelling!), TV, cameras, there are police in neon jackets everywhere and secret-servicey guys-- complete with the dark suits and little earpieces--throughout the hotel. In our usual "pitch" room, they're right now having the Mayor's lunch with the presidents.

This is just my arrival and it's already very exciting! Can't wait to see what's in store for the rest of the conference!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Exciting Stuff!

Since revealing my beautiful cover of NEVER ENOUGH, I'm overwhelmed by all of the support!

Today, I've found four bloggers who have featured my new book as their Waiting on Wednesday pick (Thank you!!!) and several more who have written to tell me they plan to feature it soon!

Also, over A HUNDRED people have already added it to their to-read list on GoodReads. In only a matter of days! And WOW, it has a 5-star rating (LOL, okay, that was mine :)

I'm getting packed for the Surrey International Writer's Conference. Very excited!!! If you're interested, I'll most likely be on Twitter, updating what's happening using the hashtag #siwc or #siwc2011 or #siwcya. Or, you know, just check my name.

This has to be short today. Too much to get ready for the weekend. But don't forget to let me know if you've spread the word about NEVER ENOUGH, so I can enter your name for the contest!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Teen Author Tuesday Presents Greg Fishbone and THE CHALLENGERS!

It seems I have some middle grade fiction to highlight this week! Greg Fishbone, the author of this spotlight, is also the creator of Class of 2k7 - A wonderful group of middle grade and young adult authors. I would have been lost last year without my Class of 2k10, and will forever be thankful to Greg for his foresight!

Greg's latest novel, The Challengers, is the first book in the Galaxy Games series of humorous middle-grade science fiction from the Tu Books imprint of Lee & Low Books. Tu Books is dedicated to releasing multicultural MG and YA novels in the fantasy, science fiction, and mystery genres. The Challengers was released in September and is available in hardcover from bookstores everywhere and as an ebook for Nook, Kindle, iBooks, and Google Books.



Greg stopped by for a short interview:

Welcome, Greg! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?

Earth kids vs. aliens in galactic sports!

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

I had a lot of fun with El Gatito Grande, an aspiring Lucha Libre wrestler who maintains a secret identity with a mask that he wears all the time. He's a lot of fun.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, Greg.

I've always loved writing and dreamed about writing books like the fantasy and science fiction authors I idolized as a kid: Madeine L'Engle, Isaac Asimov, Douglas Adams, and others. My path took me through a lot of day jobs but I've always returned to writing. In 1999, I joined the Society of Children's and Book Writers and Illustrators and have served as regional webmaster, assistant regional adviser, and conference co-coordinator in New England. In 2007, I formed the Class of 2k7 marketing group of debut authors, which has inspired a new class each year ever since. And this past summer I attended the Launch Pad program at the University of Wyoming where I was drilled in astronomy for science fiction authors.

What's been the most surprising thing about your path to publication so far?

I've been surprised by how much there is to learn about the writing, revising, and publishing process. I'm still learning and applying new things all the time!

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

Don't try to be a great writer. Be a constantly-improving writer.

Are you swept up with promotion for your book right now or can you give us a sentence or two about something new you're working on?

I just finished a draft of the second book in the Galaxy Games series, which is going to be an amazing ride into the galaxy.


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 adventure stories and fantasy stories in high school, and had a group of friends to share work with. We challenged each other all the time, and it was always fun and exciting. My first idea of writing as a social activity, and I still get that today with my wonderful critique group.

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

I have to give a shout out to TANKBORN by Karen Sandler, another book from the Tu Books launch list, because it's very cool what she's done with the character, the world, and the technology she writes about.

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

My author site is http://gfishbone.com
The Galaxy Games series site is at http://galaxygamesseries.com
And check out the Great Galactic Blog Tour at http://galaxygam.es/tour

Thanks so much for visiting, Greg, and all the best with The Challengers and Galaxy Games!

Monday, October 17, 2011

#Nanowrimo Prep: Make a Character List

Another tool I've added to my NaNoWriMo Prep Chest is a character list.

This should be something you can add to, but basically just a rundown of the characters you hope to include in your novel. Give each a one or two sentence description, who they are, how they relate to different characters. Sometimes I include a line of dialogue or catch phrase. Dialogue helps to make the character immediately full in my mind.

I also add labels, just to remember who's who, when my brain gets all mushy (which it always does!) Here are the labels I use:
PR - protagonist
AN - antagonist
MA - main character (not the protagonist in this case. Just characters who play a major role but are not PR or AN.
SC - secondary character

You can further group your characters as I've done in the following example if you like. This is a fairly complete example, as I have a pretty thorough outline and several chapters already completed for this book, but I'm starting a fresh Character List for my NaNoWriMo novel this week.


Character List – FINDING HOPE

Family:
Tessa (PR) – Main Character. Tough, independent, speaks her mind. "I'm hear, aren't I?"
Tessa’s Dad (SC) – A hermit since his youngest daughter died.
Tessa’s Mom (SC)– Gail/Abigail, left shortly after daughter died. Very "together".
Corey (SC) – Tessa’s younger sister, who died when she was six.

Extended Family:
Shawn (SC) – Gail’s new husband. Bossy, a natural leader.
Hope (SC)– Gail and Shawn’s six year old daughter. Tessa’s half-sister. Tough. Speaks her mind. "What do you want?"

School Friends:
Brie (MA)– Tessa’s closest school friend, who she teamed up with in LOSING FAITH. Is willing to do what it takes to help her friends. Her sister Faith died a year ago.
Alis (MA)– Brie’s boyfriend. Conflicted but sweet. His sister Reena is in a mental hospital since she was responsible for killing Brie’s sister Faith a year ago.
Trev (MA)– English classmate of Tessa’s. Shy, a little nerdy, but good-looking.
Cami (SC)– English classmate, very academic, who has a crush on Trev.
Mark (SC)– Trev’s bandmate who looks a lot more streetwise than Trev.

Peripheral Characters:
Vi Masterson (AN)– Friend of Gail and Hope, but a thorn in Shawn’s side. Irresponsible but good-hearted.
Diane Masterson (SC)– Vi’s mother, who works for Shawn.


This is just an example. If you do anything to keep your characters straight, I'd love to hear of different methods of doing this. This is fairly basic, but it works for me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The iPod Anti-Connection

I was at the gym yesterday, rockin out to the Freaky Friday soundtrack on my iPod, my ear buds blocking out the rest of gym-goings-ons. Now I like my solitude--boy, do I like my solitude--but just this flash of an image came into my brain of days gone by when I'd come for a workout, look across the gym and see I'm not the only who's bopping my head to whatever is on the radio station. There was just a second of connection, and I was thinking about how I miss that a little bit. We're off in our own worlds now, always busy, getting things done, looking for the quickest means to get things done, but I think something gets lost. How few people still share connections in everyday life?


My husband has always remembered people's birthdays--it's always been his thing, and people have always appreciated him for it. This morning he said he thought that Facebook has kind of ruined that for him. Everybody remembers birthdays now, because their computer tells them to, and everybody sends a (usually) meaningless birthday message. I think this falls into the same category.

This all got me to thinking. The great thing about books, at least as an author, is that I feel like that connection hasn't been lost. When I'm working through each of my books, I regularly think about the real people who are going through similar things and how they might find a connection, even if I never hear about it.

Anyway, this is all just me blabbering on. Do you see areas that digitizing everything is taking away connections, or is it just me?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Thanks so much to everyone for their kind words about my new cover for NEVER ENOUGH! I love it too.

I'm off today to watch my almost-eight-year-old compete in his first judo tournament. Very excited, and yeah, a little nervous for him.

I know I keep saying this, but I'm reading some of the most amazing YA contemporary books lately. This week I've been devouring HOW TO SAVE A LIFE by Sara Zarr. It's one of the best multiple point of view books, and one of the best books dealing with grief I have read. Highly recommended!

We are finally seeing blue skies around here (thank you, God!) and I'm off to spend as much time as humanly possible soaking it up. So for today this will be very short.

What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, October 14, 2011

NEVER ENOUGH Cover Reveal and 2nd Printing #Contest

I'm *thrilled* to be able to finally show you the cover for NEVER ENOUGH!

...But, before I do, let me tell you about a little contest I'm having. A month or so ago, my editor for LOSING FAITH sent me a couple of copies hot off the press of my 2nd printing edition. I only need one of these copies for my own posterity, so I'm giving the other one away! (Sorry, I don't have any copies of NEVER ENOUGH yet - I wish I did!) Of course I will sign it with something lovely and heartfelt. And...because I'm feeling extra excited, I will open this up internationally. I'll also be giving away some swag packs for NEVER ENOUGH, so lots of fun stuff to win!

The best thing about this contest? You can do about a zillion things to win (just make sure to tell me what you've done in the comments so I can count your entries). Spread the word, tweet, show the cover, tell your mom how excited you are for this book...or about LOSING FAITH - or review LOSING FAITH... or... about a gazillion other things. Even if you just tell me what you think of the cover, I'll enter your name!

To get you started, here's a link to NEVER ENOUGH on GoodReads. Add it to your to-read list, and there's one entry for you right there!

And now...onto my new cover! Let me know what you think!!!

And here's a little about the book:

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special…even if that means betraying her sister.
 
But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship—and her sister—before it’s too late?

Librarians or teachers who work with teens!  I'm trying to put together a special ARC tour just for you! If you're interested in reading an advance copy of NEVER ENOUGH, please email me at d (at) denisejaden (dot) com with ARC Tour in the subject line and I'll let you know more.

Bloggers! If you want to get your hands on an early copy of NEVER ENOUGH, you can email me too! I'm trying to work out a few different ways of getting this into your hands. And if you happen to feature NEVER ENOUGH as a Waiting On Wednesday pick (first of all, thank you!), please let me know so I can pass it along to my publisher.

As you can probably tell, I'm terribly excited that my second book is finally starting to find its way into the world! Please help me spread a little bit of anticipation for it. I'd so appreciate it!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One of Those Days...

I think I've blogged every day this month so far (If I've missed any, don't tell me, because I'm really driven by goals when I think I can meet them, but if I've already failed, the rest of the month will be one long, lonely place around here.)

Anyway, it's pretty much one of those days when I don't have much to say. I spent the morning at the gym. As I mentioned on Twitter, this new gym I'm trying out has MASSAGE CHAIRS! So cool. So after my workout, I've been zoning out on one of them and reading through one of my works in progress to make some notes.

My first pass pages have gone through two of my trusty eagle-eye friends, and so this weekend I'll be going through them. I have two big deadlines I'm working toward at the moment: I need to get three opening chapters to my agent by Monday for a proposal we're working on, and I need to get my first pass pages back to my editor, I'm hoping by Thursday before I go away.

Which brings me to...I'm so excited to have the opportunity to attend the Surrey International Writer's Conference again this year! Things have been more than tight financially for us this year, but I was awarded an Access Copyright Foundation grant which has made it possible for me to go. I won't be signing books on the Saturday night there, but if you bring a copy of LOSING FAITH along, I'd be happy to sign them anytime through out the weekend. And even if you don't have a book, please stop me and say hi. I love meeting writers, and ESPECIALLY ones who read my blog.

I'm off to put together my next blog post for tomorrow, because it is a special one! Remember the cover reveal contest for NEVER ENOUGH I've been going on about....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#Nanowrimo Prep: Mapping it Out

I've spent the last week narrowing down my ideas (I had three loglines for three different projects and I've decided on one). So now I basically have a main character, a goal, and an antagonist. I feel like I have the A and the Z. Now it's just a matter of filling out B through Y, which, yeah okay, that IS a lot of letters.

So what I plan to work on this week is filling in just a few key scenes in my novel outline. I'm going to try to visual three scenes that will either help my main character toward her goal or prevent her from reaching it (I hope to find a little more about my antagonist in the process too!)
Because I want these to be strong scenes, full of conflict, I’ll be asking myself questions such as: What’s most important to my character? What would happen if I took that away? Where should my protagonist and antagonist first meet in the novel? From a distance or up close? In public, where they may have to put up a front and there are lots of undercurrents to the scene, or in private, which might put my MC in more danger? What would be a good setting for the climax of the novel? What would it take to get my MC to that place?

So what I hope to have by next week is something like this:

A – What state my MC will be in at the beginning of the book
C – An early success for my character toward her goal
F – A major opposition to my MC’s goal
T – Possibly a climax scene, or at least a climax setting
Z – What the outcome of the story will be

I don’t know that I’ll fill in all the letters from A-Z, but I still have lots of my MC’s journey to fill in. This is just a start to help get me dreaming about my new book. I still have extra characters and subplots to add, plus make my MC’s journey a lot fuller.

If you’re continuing to plan for NaNo, I’d love to hear what you’ve been doing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

GCC Presents Kristina Springer and JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS!

I'm excited to welcome Kristina Springer and spotlight her latest release JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS!
On sale 10/11/11 by FSG/Macmillan

Book Summary:
Jamie Edwards has loved everything about growing up on a pumpkin patch, but ever since her cousin Milan Woods arrived, things have really stunk. Jamie can’t imagine it was easy for Milan to leave her life back in Los Angeles and move to Average, Illinois, population one thousand. But it’s kind of hard to feel sorry for her since (a) Milan’s drop-dead gorgeous; (b) she’s the daughter of two of Hollywood’s hottest film stars; (c) she’s captured the attention of everyone in town, including Danny, Jamie’s crush since forever; and (d) she’s about to steal the title of Pumpkin Princess right out from underneath Jamie!



Praise for Just Your Average Princess:
 “This cheerful and heartwarming novel set in a small town will appeal to teens who enjoy YA chick lit.” --VOYA

“It was such a quick and cute read! The dialogue contained a generous amount of wit and snark. As a fan of both, it heightened my enjoyment  of Just Your Average Princess even more. I really enjoyed Kristina Springer’s style of writing as well as the cast of characters she created in Just Your Average Princess.”
--The Fiction Enthusiast

“Springer does an excellent job capturing the fall setting, and describing the pumpkin patch. So much so, that I found myself wishing I could find the place and go there! Overall, this is a fun lighthearted read that is sure to entertain. Definitely a perfect fit for the season.”
-Melissa from Goodreads, Teen Librarian

About the author:
Kristina Springer is also the author of The Espressologist, a Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, and My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, which Meg Cabot calls, “Irresistible as a fluffy kitten. I laughed out loud and so will you!” You can visit her online at www.KristinaSpringer.com, follow her on Twitter @TinaSpringer, or friend her on Facebook at facebook.com/KristinaSpringer.
The Interview:
Welcome, Kristina! Can you tell me about your book in seven words or less?
Pumpkin Patch Girl vs. Hollywood Princess.

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
Milan. She’s so bad she’s good!

What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. It’s such a long road but worth it.

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 journaled and wrote loads of way angsty poetry.

What's the last book you read that you really loved?
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Thanks, Kristina, and all the best with JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Naming Characters

I've been working on several outlines lately, and one of the most time-consuming things for me is picking the right names. Names always carry with them a set of expectations. Sometimes I like to break those expectations (like in LOSING FAITH, I used Tessa--a name I would normally think of as a soft name--for the tough chick in the novel).

A big problem I have when choosing names is that I'm from a different generation than most of the characters I write about. In each novel I write, there's usually at least one name that has to be updated into this decade. In NEVER ENOUGH, it was the older sister's best friend, originally Susan, which I updated to Jasmine.

Here's another stumbling block: names that sound or look too much alike on the page. In NEVER ENOUGH, one of the main character's names is Marcus. That was fine until the mom of the protagonist--Marcia--came into the picture. Worse, yet, my protagonist was originally calling her mother by her first name! She's now referred to as "Mom" through most of the book, and "Beth" on odd occasion.

A few other things I try to keep in mind are not having too many names starting with the same letter, watching out for rhyming names, varying the length of names (too many four-letter names, for example, can get confusing).

I don't have too much problem changing names in later drafts of books if it's a secondary character. But for main characters, I shudder at the thought of having to change their names. So I try really hard at the outlining stage to at least nail down a protagonist, antagonist, and love interest name that I'm really happy with .

My biggest aim with my MC is to make sure it's a likeable name that won't get annoying over time, and will be memorable. One of my critique partners had the most likeable names EVER for her MC and love interest (not sure if she'd want me to disclose them or not) but I always use these names as kind of a measuring stick when I'm thinking up my own character names.

So I'm curious...what are some of the most likeable, memorable character names you've read?

Here's a list of a few of my favorites in published fiction that I can think of off the top of my head (which have been done, so I wouldn't use these, but I always think of these, and what makes them likeable when I'm brainstorming). These are in no particular order:

Patton
Mia
Kara
Tyler
Etienne
Ruby
April
Robin
Amber
Adrian
Jackson

There are many more, but that's just the top of my head list. What do you think makes a name likeable and/or memorable? Or do you think the name doesn't matter and it's only the character development that matters?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!!!

Hope all my Canadian friends have a great holiday weekend! I posted a thankful list on Thursday, but I'm continuing to come up with new things to be thankful for each day. How about you, what are you most thankful for?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why Write Contemporary YA?

Mary from Anxirium Blog has put together a great Author's Voice post from different authors (including myself) on why they write YA Contemporary. Check it out here.

If you write (or read) contemporary YA, what do you like most about it?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Four - Writerly Business!

1. I ALMOST have a cover to show of NEVER ENOUGH! The cover is actually complete, I'm hoping I can have a summary to post with it so it makes it IMPOSSIBLE for you to not want to read this book! LOL. I'll have a little contest with the unveiling of the cover giving away a couple of cool prizes, like a copy of the 2nd Printing edition of LOSING FAITH, and some cool new swag for NEVER ENOUGH. Fun, yes?

2. My agent got back to me yesterday about my outline for the companion novel to LOSING FAITH. It's tentatively called FINDING HOPE, and it will be in Tessa's point of view. My agent had lots of good things to say about my outline, but she still thinks it needs to be a bit more focused. She likes it, though, and is eager to get it off to my editor, as soon as we tweak it a little. Yay!!!

3. Until I heard from my agent, I was working on a new project. I think of it as "the forbidden manuscript" because A. It's about forbidden love, and B. It's not the manuscript I *should* be working on. But sometimes you just have to stop shoulding on yourself and follow your heart. Right? RIGHT? 

4. My 1PP (otherwise known as First Pass Pages) for NEVER ENOUGH arrived yesterday, which is basically the interiors of the book the way it will look when it is finished. Not quite as much squealing with this one as with LOSING FAITH. It's a little plainer in comparison. Here's a little glimpse:

But I still love it. Annnnddd...there is an excerpt of LOSING FAITH at the back, so there ARE still butterflies:
I'll be busy petting, er, I mean WORKING THROUGH these pages over the weekend. This is my last, last chance at making changes (at least I think it is. I have heard of authors working on 2nd pass pages, but so far I haven't had any part in that stage) so I'll be going through it with a micro-fine tooth comb, trying very hard to concentrate on every word, paragraph, and page.

How about you? Do you have any writing/revising/reading planned for the weekend?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday

To be hones, I've been a bit of a grump lately. So I thought I might be due to count my blessings. And already it is putting a smile on my face. Besides, Canadian Thanksgiving is right around the corner!

1. As always, I'm so thankful that I have a happy, healthy family who loves me.
2. I'm thankful that my mom sold her house.
3. I'm thankful for the community of writers I know and how generous everyone is with sharing their wisdom and experience.
4. I'm thankful for blogging. Yes, it's true. There's something about blogging that makes me feel happy, and I love to see comments and know there are people listening, and I love hearing from old friends as well as seeing brand new names show up in the comments.
5. I'm thankful that I've had a new gym to workout in lately. Before I went there, my husband told me, "yeah, but it's really warm and spread out in this new place." How little he knows me! If there are two things I LOVE warmth and spaciousness!!
6. I'm thankful that my edits on NEVER ENOUGH are practically done. All I have left is a read-through of first-pass pages, which I'm really looking forward to.
7. I'm thankful that LOSING FAITH is still receiving so many glowing reviews, and awards nominations too!
8. I'm thankful for my son and husband's lightheartedness and sense of humor (remind me of this on April first).
9. I'm thankful for all the new, amazing books I've been blessed with lately.
10. I'm thankful for steadfast faith, even through a difficult year.

How about you? What are you most thankful for?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Blog in Pictures

Lately, I've had no time, mostly because of this:




And today I'll be off doing this:
But at the end of the day, this is what's waiting for me:


Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Contemps Blogging

I'm blogging over at The Contemps site today, spotlighting an awesome book by a friend of mine.

I won't tell you who this author is, but here's a quote I just read from her the other day, which I did not know...

"My editor thought that my (first) book sounded like gay erotic porn because of the first sentences I had. Which my editor made me change."

So if you want to find out who this is and what she's writing now, stop by The Contemps!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Stuff

Well, it's October 3rd, and so far I'm doing really well with NaBloWriMo - Blogging every day of October. Of course my blog titles are already suffering. Sigh.

Let's see, what do I have to blog about today...

I added a new little widget highlighting some blurbs and review excerpts for LOSING FAITH at the top of my blog. Do you like it, or is it annoying?

Also, very exciting news for me over the weekend...Several months ago LOSING FAITH was nominated for an INSPY award (An award for faith-driven literature). I just found out that my book was short-listed for the award!! The winner will be announced in December, so please cross your fingers and toes (and your eyes) for me :-)

I finished reading MOONGLASS by Jessi Kirby. I really enjoyed it. As you probably know, I don't usually do reviews on this blog, but as a challenge to myself, I thought I'd see if I could convince you to read it in five words or less (because it really is a very good book!) Okay, here it goes...

Hot lifeguards cliff-jumping naked.

Did it work? Are you going to check out this book???

But seriously, it has a lot more going for it than naked lifeguards, I promise. Here's the summary from GoodReads:

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.

That's all the news I have for you today. Catch you back here tomorrow (probably).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How Awesome is @SaraZarr ? Pretty Freakin Awesome

Yesterday I had it in my thoughts that I might get to the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour - on location in Vancouver. I did have several other things going on, so I didn't know for sure if I'd make it (plus Vancouver is a bit of a drive for me). But I did get there, and I was so glad I did!

More than anything, I wanted to meet Sara Zarr, because, well, she's my hero, and I hoped to get my greedy little hands on her latest book HOW TO SAVE A LIFE, which doesn't actually release until October 18th. I got there late and the place was PACKED, but I did see a copy of Sara's book and snagged it right away. I was directed to get into line or I wouldn't be able to get it signed.

Well...the lineup was about a mile long. No kidding. Granted, it was for five awesome authors (Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Beth Revis, Margaret Stohl, and Sara Zarr). The section of line I was in was all very hyped over Kelly Armstrong. I personally haven't read any of Kelley's books yet, but it was so fun to see groups of teens so excited over books and authors!


We got to talking, and I mentioned I was also an author and passed out a few bookmarks. A couple of the girls in line with me rushed off to get my book so I could sign it for them. :-))))


But in reality, I was there as a total fangirl. It's not all that often that we get great YA authors in Vancouver and Sara Zarr really is one of my favorites. The five authors gave what sounded like a very entertaining Q&A (unfortunately I couldn't hear much of it from my place in line). When they started signing, it seemed like the line didn't move for ages, and at one point I tweeted about being in a very long line with my copy of HOW TO SAVE A LIFE.


The sweet girls who bought copies of my book held my place in line repeatedly while I went roaming the store to check on my seven-year-old. He was doing fine (Chapters has a huge toy section) and by the time I got back, the line had finally moved so we could now actually make visual contact with our idols. Though we were still many rows of people away.


At one point, Sara Zarr stood behind her table on the stage and waved in my direction at the back of this huge crowd of people. As much as I tried to convince myself otherwise, she doesn't know me, so I did what any other person in the crowd would do and looked behind me. There were a few customers, a few Chapters staff members, but none of them were looking back in Sara's direction.


Weird.


So I got to talking with my Kelley-Armstrong-fangirl-friends again, and was lost in conversation, when suddenly who was standing beside me? Yup, Sara Zarr herself.

Apparently she'd seen my tweet and didn't want me to have to wait all day. How freakin' cool is that?! THEN...to make my day even BETTER, when I introduced myself and told her what I wrote, she said she already knew that! So now Sara Zarr AND Elizabeth Scott totally know who I am! (Somebody slap me before I truly embarrass my fangirlish self here.) The day that Laurie Halse Anderson walks up and says, "Hey, aren't you Denise Jaden?" my life will be complete!


So, yeah, I had an awesome time, with an awesome picture of Sara (not so great of me) and an amazing book to show for it. I'm a little sad that I didn't get to say hi to Beth Revis, but I would have had to keep my son in that store for another couple of hours to accomplish that.


 Anyway, here's the pic, and the book (which I *may* give away in an upcoming contest after I've had a chance to read it.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

#NaBloWriMo and my #NaNoWriMo History

So there's this thing I saw floating around Twitter last night called NaBloWriMo. Any guesses as to what it stands for? I was lacking creativity last night, so I just asked. Apparently it's National Blog Writing Month - which they're naming the month of October. The idea is to blog every day - AKA Write Every Day. If you want to get more involved, here's their website.


It's probably a good idea, to warm up for NaNoWriMo and all. Not sure I can commit to really, truly doing it every day, but I thought I'd at least start and keep my fingers busy. I'll try to blog a bit more about my process of getting prepared for NaNoWriMo as I do it, but I've been tying up a few other projects first.

At this point, I'm at the brainstorming stage, so not much to share yet. For today, I thought I'd give you a history of my NaNo experience, what has worked for me and what has not.

2007 - First draft of LOSING FAITH - started with a logline/query blurb. Not a very thorough outline.

2008 - First draft of BELLY UP - thorough outline and SOUNDS LIKE THUNDER - without an outline. The one without an outline was fun, and easy to work on during the days I wasn't feeling super-driven on the other one, but it kind of ended up as a plotless heap of *$#$%&*. I've since learned that I need some sort of an outline. The outlined book is still in revisions, and I hope to publish it one day.

2009 - First draft of PERFECT AIM. During this NaNo, I was also in the midst of heavy edits on LOSING FAITH. I had a 38k outline for this one, but to tell you the truth, I think it was over-outlined. I got lazy because of the outline and the writing became stilted. I still hope to go back to this one, but I know it will require a complete rewrite.

2010 - first draft of FINDING HOPE, a companion novel to LOSING FAITH. I'm still in revisions on that one, so I can't tell you for sure about the success of the outlining/preparation, but I did try to go back to a simpler outline for this one, and even though my revisions have been almost total rewrites, the first draft has helped me worked out a lot of issues.

Hope that has helped you some. It actually has helped me, so I'm glad I took the time to get it down.

See you tomorrow...Maybe.