Friday, January 31, 2014

And the Early Copy of FAST FICTION goes to...

I threw all the names in a hat (well, actually it was a bowl)--every kind soul who tweeted and commented and helped to spread the word about FAST FICTION. I am so thankful to ALL of you. And I can only give one book away (for now), but even if you didn't win, if you'd be interested in a couple of signed bookmarks, send me your mailing address to d(at)denisejaden(dot)com, and I'd love to send you that as a thank you.

But for today, I have one copy of FAST FICTION to give away. And it goes to... (drum roll, please...)

JOLI @ ACTIN' UP WITH BOOKS!

Congratulations, Joli! Send me your mailing address and I'll get that in the mail to you ASAP.

Thanks again, everyone, for helping to spread the word. Bless you all!

Fast Fiction Friday: Love Your Work

I'll be back soon to draw a winner for the Early Copy of Fast Fiction. I've been super-busy, which means that if you haven't entered yet, you still have time!

Just like any other writer on the planet, I definitely go through times where I doubt my ability as a writer. It can be difficult to slog on through a draft or a revision when we're in that state of self-doubt. It can be even harder to write well, since confident writing is difficult to fake!

I keep a Word document file on my computer that's called "Favorite Writing," and it's made up of bits and pieces of writing I've done over the years--a paragraph or a sentence or a metaphor I particularly liked. Every once in a while, I need to open up this document. The truth is, I've trained myself in being disciplined, and I'm going to complete my daily writing no matter what. But looking over this file, remembering some of the writing that I have loved, I truly think it helps me bypass some of that garbage, I'm-a-lousy-writer-and-should-stick-to cleaning-toilets attitude that sometimes comes over me.

Do you ever take moments out to "love your work?" If not, how do you battle your self-doubt seeping into your writing?


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Be a Ninja!

I think we all wish we could be a fly on the wall in certain situations. Maybe we'd like to see how someone close to us acts when we're not around. Maybe we're interested in knowing what groups of the opposite sex really talk about when left to themselves.

Today, give your main character some ninja abilities, so that he or she can stealthily sneak into a situation that he or she has only wished to be able to see. Where would your character love to be a fly on the wall if it were possible? Then write a short scene of what he or she sees and hears. Is it what they expect? How will this information change his or her life?


Friday, January 24, 2014

Fast Fiction Friday: When There Really IS No Time

Sometimes there really isn't any time to write. I get it. I do. I've certainly had those days or weeks, sometimes even months. In fact, I've been feeling a bit swamped lately between promotional prep for FAST FICTION, a few new homeschooling commitments, and just life commitments in general.

My first aim when I get this busy is to keep perspective. The busyness will not last forever. I know that.

Secondly, I TRY to remember to stay sensible in committing to things and prioritizing commitments. Other people will always think your commitments are super-important if it's something that involves them. But, really, I have to ask myself often if commitments are really urgent, or if I'm just taking on someone else's stress.

Once I get those two things out of the way, rather than singing the blues about my lack of writing time, I instead try to flex my brainstorming muscle. I think of ideas while I'm taxiing my son around in the car. Or when I'm running errands or in lineups. I keep an app on my phone where I input any and all ideas I come up with, so even if I'm not doing any actual writing, I still feel like I'm being creative and somewhat productive. Which, in turn, gives me a better attitude.

What do you do when you get too busy? Any tips and tricks? I'd love to hear them!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Early Copy of Fast Fiction #Giveaway!

My author copies of FAST FICTION just arrived on my doorstep! It's still early. The release date isn't until February 18th, but I'm so excited, and they're so beautiful, I can't help but give a copy away!



All you have to do to enter to win is comment on this post, tweet about the contest, or spread the word on Facebook (make sure to tag @denisejaden on Twitter and Denise Jaden on FB so I can count your entries).

Enter in all three places for extra entries. This contest is open internationally. I'll draw a random winner on January 30th.

Here's a little more about the book:
Writers flock to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each November because it provides a procrastination-busting deadline. But only a fraction of the participants meet their goal. Denise Jaden was part of that fraction, writing first drafts of her two published young adult novels during NaNoWriMo. In Fast Fiction, she shows other writers how to do what she did, step-by-step, writer to writer. Her process starts with a prep period for thinking through plot, theme, characters, and setting. Then Jaden provides day-by-day coaching for the thirty-day drafting period. Finally, her revision tips help writers turn merely workable drafts into compelling and publishable novels.
A portion of publisher proceeds will be donated to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

All the best with entering! May the force be with you...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Do-Over!

I love those books and movies that show a character getting a chance at a do-over in some area that he or she has regrets. Even though it seems like a dream come true, more often that not in storytelling, trying to erase regrets usually backfires. The character tries to do better, but actually ends up doing much worse in the process. BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver is a great example of this.

Today give one of your characters a do-over. What does he or she wish they could have a second shot at, beyond anything else? Will it work out like he or she expects? How could this do-over end up making your character's life much, much worse?


Friday, January 17, 2014

Fast Fiction Friday: Text-to-Speech

When it comes to polishing my manuscripts, my biggest help and time saver is a text-to-speech editor--or a little computerized voice that reads me my stories. You see, when I'm reading my own stories, I don't notice many spelling mistakes or garbled wording of sentences. I sound them out in my head the way I think they should sound--if written correctly. But with a computer reading to me, I notice so many problems I can't pick up on my own.

I used to do this on my Kindle, since it has a built-in text-to-speech editor, but just recently I discovered that I can also do this in MS Word! And it's already installed and a much more natural-sounding voice than on my Kindle. (To set this up, go up to the very top left hand corner of your MS Word screen. There are a few little icons there. Click on the far right one, which should read "Customize Quick Access Toolbar" when you mouse over it. Then choose "More Commands". Where it says "Choose Commands From" it will probably say "Popular Commands". Change this to "All Commands" and then scroll down in the commands box below until you find "Speak". Add it to the right hand box, and from then on, a little "Speak" icon will now appear in your Quick Access Toolbar at the top.)

Do you use text-to-speech to help you polish? If so, I'd love to hear what editor you use and how it works for you!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Is Honesty the Best Policy?

Do you remember the movie LIAR LIAR? In it, Jim Carrey gets himself into a lot of trouble when he's suddenly compelled to tell the truth about every single little thing.

Think of your characters and any secrets they may be keeping or even just things they're choosing not to say out loud. What kind of havoc could you create in their lives today by letting something slip? Maybe a female character thinks her best friend should really start exercising. Or maybe a man who is gifted with computers feels the need to let it out how brainless he thinks many of the people in his life are.

See what you can reveal today that your characters don't really want to reveal.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Fast Fiction Friday: But What About Depth?

Just because I believe in fast-drafting a first draft of a novel, does not mean I don't believe in deep characters and plotlines. I do a lot of prep work before fast-drafting to get to know who my characters are at a gut level, like how they feel about their mothers and fathers, what's the worst thing a parent has done or said to them, how they still carry around some of their most embarrassing moments...

However, even with a lot of prep work, I don't like to nail anything down in stone until after my first draft. To me, fast-drafting is as much about exploration as it is about finishing a book. Often I'll get to the end of writing a draft before I really know what the book should be about. And when I go back to read the draft over, I hardly recognize many of the scenes or character traits that have shown up. To me, that is the characters showing me who they are, rather than the other way around.

There are a lot of things that an author needs to think about when crafting a satisfying novel, but I like to take the fast-drafting phase--only 30 days--and spend that time not thinking, and instead just feeling what's happening with my characters and which direction I feel they want to go.

So if we're talking about depth, to be honest, I find more of that as a fast-drafter than I ever did before.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Writing Prompt Wednesday: New Years Resolutions!

I talked a little last week about how I make resolutions, which has evolved--a lot--over the years. But how do our characters make resolutions? Is your main character the type of person who makes huge, ambitious resolutions that he or she will likely never come close to meeting? Or does he or she swear off the idea completely?

Today, sit down for five minutes and make a resolution letter or list from your main character's point of view (or if your character doesn't make resolutions, have him or her list all of the reasons why not.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Fast Fiction Friday: Don't Beat Yourself Up!

New Year's resolutions are bunk.

There, I've said it.

Which is not to say that I never make any. I just make resolutions with a loose hand and a light heart. I've seen too many people make huge resolutions, and then beat themselves up by January 3rd because they've already broken them. Then, because they feel like garbage and worthless and have been beating themselves up, they often become even worse in the area they made the resolution.

You see, it's not the resolutions that are bad. It's the self-talk we allow ourselves that's truly detrimental.

I made a resolution this year to read more of the things I want to read and less of the things I *should* read. I purposely set my GoodReads reading goal for this year at 10 (down from 100 last year). You know how it's gone so far? I've already been reading two *should* books. Since January 1st!

But you know what? I'm not beating myself up about it. Because I have a whole year to improve (many years if I need it). January 1st is only a day. For most, it's a day off, so it can be a good opportunity to evaluate life and make some plans. The great thing about setting resolutions is that you're thinking of ways you can better yourself. That's a GOOD thing. Assessing how you're doing on these goals, though, takes time. I'll bet if you set some goals for self-improvement and then don't look back at them until the end of the year, you will have improved. Maybe you won't meet your goals exactly, but who cares if you're better than you were!

I saw several writers on Twitter this year professing that they were going to make writing more of a priority this year. Then, the next day, I saw those same writers saying, "I haven't written a word...it's sure to be another sucky writing year." It makes me so upset for them. They're talking themselves into defeat, and they still have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD TO IMPROVE!

I commend you if you have plans to better yourself--this year, or any time in the future. Just promise yourself that you'll cut yourself some slack along the way. Notice all the little things you've already improved on. Positive self-talk and noticing your achievements, no matter how small, will definitely get you farther in life than calling yourself names.




Thursday, January 2, 2014

GCC Presents Kristina Springer and MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS!

I'm happy to welcome another author from the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit! This week, Kristina Springer's latest book,  My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, is releasing in paperback in stores and online stores everywhere!

About the Book:
Now available everywhere in paperback, MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS which Meg Cabot says is “Irresistible as a fluffy kitten.  I laughed out loud and so will you!" was a Scholastic Book Club Bestseller and a YALSA Quick Pick.

Seventh grade was supposed to be fun, but Tori is having major drama with her BFF, Sienna. Sienna changed a lot over the summer—on the first day of school she’s tan, confident, and full of stories about her new dreamy boyfriend. Tori knows that she’s totally making this guy up. So Tori invents her own fake boyfriend, who is better than Sienna’s in every way. Things are going great—unless you count the whole lying-to-your-best-friend thing—until everyone insists Tori and Sienna bring their boyfriends to the back-to-school dance.


Praise For My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours…
"Irresistible as a fluffy kitten. I laughed out loud and so will you!" —Meg Cabot, author of the Airhead and Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls series
"Tori is an appealing, engaging protagonist whose peppy first-person narrative includes some introspective moments and incorporates issues that readers will appreciate, especially the importance of honesty, trust, and self-appreciation. An enjoyable, entertaining read." —Booklist
"Friendship versus one-upmanship in seventh grade is the subject of Springer’s very funny and strongly realistic novel." —Publishers Weekly
"The sheer exhaustion of a fake-boyfriend arms race, with the need to create fake email accounts and to come up with competing romantic gestures on the fly, is cleverly depicted." —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"The themes will resonate with any girl who’s ever gone through the hardships of middle school: friendship, boys, popularity, and, most importantly, choosing to do the right, but often more difficult, thing. A fun read." —School Library Journal
"The dialogue is realistic, and Springer brings refreshing personalities to standard character types; Tori’s parents are divorced, but both parents are active in her life, for instance, and the popular girls aren’t mean." —Kirkus Reviews


Kristina is running a My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours Release Contest until 1/15/14 on her blog: http://kristinaspringer.blogspot.com/2013/12/my-fake-boyfriend-is-better-than-yours.html
Here’s what the winner will get:
•           A $20 gift card (Starbucks or Amazon, your choice!),
•           Autographed copy of My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours,
•           Fake Boyfriend Emergency Kit, and a
•           Variety of bookmarks/stickers from all of my books

And Kristina stopped by for a short interview:
1. Tell me about your book in seven words or less.
Crazy fun competition of the fake boyfriends.
2. Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
I really like Tori’s dad. He’s not your typical divorced dad stereotype.
3. What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Don’t give up.
4. What did you write when you were a teen? Did you journal? Write poetry? Write overly literary or emotional stories? Or avoid writing altogether?
Gushy overly emotional poetry.

About the Author:
Kristina Springer is the best-selling author of THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS, JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS, THE PAPARAZZI PROJECT and BOY SWAP. She has a Masters in Writing from DePaul University and she resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and children. Read more about her at http://www.kristinaspringer.com and follow her on twitter @TinaSpringer.

Here's more of where you can find Kristina online: