Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

I want to post today to wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season! Hope you get to spend time drinking hot cocoa with the ones you love.

Oh, and one more thing I hope you'll do:

Prepare for a freaking AMAZING 2013! :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear Mayans, Let's Reschedule

Today I'm making a request of the Mayans, the Universe, and all Powers that Be. We've kind of got a lot going on right now. I have presents to wrap, cookies to frost and preparations for a vacation in January. Basically, I'm swamped. 

Anyone else think we should consider putting off this whole end of the world thing to a more convenient time? 

Good! Me too! :) So glad we're all in agreement.

Since we're all planning to be here awhile longer. Why don't you stop by this Cover Madness Giveaway over on Xpresso Reads. They're featuring INSOMNIA with a bunch of other awesome covers and giving some books away. 

And on a sincere note -- I probably won't be posting much over the holidays, and I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for reading my nonsense and celebrating my victories. I like sharing my journey and it sure wouldn't be fun without awesome people like you to share it with.

Happy Holidays! :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Teen Author Boot Camp!

In March, I'm teaching a class at a writing conference, but it's not just any conference...it's a conference exclusively for TEEN writers!

And I can't wait!

Plus, there are some freaking cool people participating. Some of the other Drill Sergeants (as they call us) are: Kiersten White, Aprilynne Pike, Janette Rallison, Marion Jensen, Tyler Whitesides, J. Scott Savage--I could go on and on with other Sergeants, and this list would never cease to be awesome.

On top of all that, the keynote speaker is Shannon Hale...Face it, this list just crossed the line into epic.




Here are a few more details on the conference.


When: Saturday, March 16, 2013
From: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (registration begins at 8 a.m.)
Where: Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah
Who: Teens ages 13-19, no adults allowed :)
Cost: $49 before February 16th, 2013, $59 after
Includes: tuition, lunch, t-shirt, backpack, unlimited drinks, snacks, entrance to the writing contest, and more.

In conjunction with the conference is a first-chapter writing contest for attending teens. A prize ($100 value) will be awarded to first prize in both the Jr. High and High School categories. And really, who doesn't like winning?

Anyway, I just wanted to help spread the word. If you have any teen writers in your lives, I'm thinking: SWEET Christmas present! :)

You can find more details here.

And don't forget to submit your query for my Forging Fridays to get a critique!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Books I Love for 12-12-12

Since today is 12-12-12, I thought it would be fun to do a list of the twelve books that pop to the top of my head when I think of (mostly)YA & MG that I loved.

Note:(I disqualified any books that aren't out yet. Including 13's would make this WAY too hard!)

And so, in no particular order:

1 - Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
2 - Elliot and the Goblin War by Jennifer A. Nielsen
3 - Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
4 - Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
5 - Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
6 - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
7 - The Kill Order by James Dashner
8 - Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - not to be confused with French Kiss Anna, fyi--very different ;-)
9 - Ten by Gretchen McNeil
10 - Everneath by Brodi Ashton
11 - I Am Not A Serial Killer - Dan Wells
12 - Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

What about you? What are the first 12 books-you-loved that pop in your head today?

P.S. Did you miss my post on Monday? Will you (or someone you know) be querying anytime in the next 6 months? I'll be posting query critiques every Friday starting in January! More info here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Forging Fridays: Want a Query Critique?

This last Saturday marked 6 months exactly before the release of Insomnia.

I'm feeling excited, happy, and extremely lucky.

So, in the spirit of the season and giving, I wanted to do something useful for aspiring authors.

One very difficult step along the way to becoming traditionally published is querying. It can suck, hardcore. I know how hard it can be. Between the rejection, frustration and all the waiting, it's tempting to wave the white flag.

Querying is one of the many steps that forge a writer and prepare them for what they eventually want to become.

Some of you may know that my background is in marketing. This seems to have given me an advantage. Understanding both stories and hooks is crucial to writing a good query.

So, I'm starting a new event on my blog: Forging Fridays. I am open to receive queries starting today. I will post one query critique on my blog every Friday starting January 4th, 2013 and (as long as I have queries to critique--counting on you guys for that part) I'll keep it going at least through the Friday before my Insomnia release, June 7th, 2013.

It won't be easy to volunteer. It's scary to have your work publicly critiqued, believe me, I know this. I promise to be gentle but honest. And to be clear, if you aren't willing to have things you write critiqued online, you really shouldn't be pursuing traditional publication anyway.

What do you say? Are you ready to go all in? You can find info on how/where to send your query at the tab up top labelled Forging Fridays ~or~ you can click here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Great Dr. Mario Epiphany of 2012!


I love Dr. Mario.

And I am very, very good at it.

My favorite part is the planning. I carefully construct multiple towers so that at some point down the line I can find the perfect circumstances to make everything explode and rain down chaos on my opponent.

Muahahaha--ahem--ha

While pounding my sister and mom into Nintendo despair last weekend, I realized something. If I substitute a couple of words, this is also exactly what I love about writing. Observe:

My favorite part is the planning. I carefully construct multiple plot-lines so that at some point down the line I can find the perfect circumstances to make everything explode and rain down chaos on my main character/reader.

Aha! Now you see.

Why yes, I am an evil genius. Thank you for noticing.

So what about you? What is your favorite aspect of writing/playing Dr. Mario? ;-)

Monday, December 3, 2012

To Follow or Not to Follow (Trends) -- That is the Question

I'm going to start off this post by giving some well-known and very wise advice that all writers should know. Are you ready? Ahem...

Do not follow trends.
It will not do you any good.
By the time you finish your book there will be a new trend.
Write what you love instead.

There. I've done my good deed for the day. Everyone gets a cookie. :)

Now comes the other advice...

Don't ignore the trends.

How is that for contradictory?

Here is an example. Let's say that you have two ideas you love equally, but one of them is dystopian and dystopian is extremely hard to sell right now. In that case, leaning toward the other is a smarter decision.

I guess what I'm saying is...both follow your gut and be smart about the business aspect at the same time. Make sense?

What about you? Any good advice to give me on this brisk winter Monday?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Family Ties & PRIZES

My sister arrived from Philly yesterday and I'll be spending the next few days with her and our family.

I am SO excited. For reals.

There will be Rock Band.
There will be Dr. Mario.
There will be Diet Coke and some kind of chocolate.


So, as much as I love you guys, I'll be away until next week. I might even bring back a story or two to share...

I promise nothing.

In the meantime, there is just over a day to enter in the Cover Reveal Giveaway and 2 1/2 days to read about my Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase and enter the Giveaway over there.

Whilst I'm gone -------- Go win stuff. Okay? :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TWO Prize Pack Giveaways + CRAP Interview!

Right now, I'm deep in the drafting cave...and I will be for the rest of the year and then some.

BUT

I'm still planning on keeping up my 2 per week posts as much as I can, so there shouldn't be much of an interruption. Who knows, maybe there will even be some surprise giveaways and drafting insights when my brain is unable to find the cave exit to poke my head out. 

You know how it is. 


Anyway, today rocks because I have TWO giveaways going on! Both include a copy of INSOMNIA and a prize pack.

The first is, of course, the cover reveal giveaway over at YA Books Central that will still be going for three more days. So make sure you go enter a few more times before that ends!

The second is a new CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) interview I did with the awesome Mindy McGinnis. She's a fellow Friday the Thirteener, she's hilarious, and her carrot imitation is dead-on. Stop by, check it out, and enter to win!

Winning = cool

That is all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Being Thankful

For Thanksgiving in 2012, I'm listing 12 things I'm thankful for this year. :) Spread the love and all that, you know?











So, without further ado:

1  - My faith - it all starts here
2  - My husband & sons - for making me smile even on bad days
3  - My mom, sister & extended family - for needing me as much as I need them
4  - My friends - for being there when I need them, and when I don't
5  - My health - for keeping up with my lifestyle
6  - My talents - for helping me keep up with my vivid imagination
7  - My ability to live my dream - because it is a rare thing indeed
8  - My husband's job - for giving us security
9  - My agents & editor - for believing in me, every day, no matter what
10 - Readers - for making publishing thrive
11 - The young adult author community - for embracing the oddballs
12 - J.K. Rowling - 'nuf said




AND

~*~*Have a Happy Thanksgiving! *~*~

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dedicated


To my Grandpa for singing made up songs loudly every Christmas morning while making brunch in the kitchen.

To my Grandpa for tinkering in the garage with the radio blasting opera every summer.

To my Grandpa for having the best smile wrinkles I've ever seen.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~


To my Grandma for always surprising me with things she still wants to do.

To my Grandma for wanting me to write a sequel to my first book...even if it was just for her.

To my Grandma for always being stronger than anyone ever expected her to be.





Grandpa passed away eleven years ago this month. Grandma joined him yesterday.

The pain of our loss is eased by the knowledge that you're finally together again.

We love you both, forever.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

In Which I Cuddle My New Cover!








































I'm feeling lucky, extremely lucky.

There was a huge response to my cover reveal yesterday. I was quite honestly blown away by all the cover-love. Thank you to everyone who shared/tweeted/shrieked/smiled at it. :)

Now I get to tell you how much I love it...

because I do...

SO MUCH!

I really don't know how you can make a cover both gorgeous and scary, but they did it. The shattering around the eye is so symbolic of Parker's frame of mind in the story. I've seen so many covers that, while beautiful, don't really reflect the story at all. I understand the point is to get people to pick up the book, and I have no issue with that, but I LOVE that my cover both draws you in and shows you a bit of what you might find inside.

Anyway, enough gushing from me. What do you think?

Also, the ARC & Prize Pack giveaway from the cover reveal is still on! Don't forget to go back and keep entering!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cover Reveal is TODAY!

And inside, I feel like this:















And maybe a little like this:
















So, I won't waste anymore of your time here. Go see the


Cover Reveal + Giveaway for INSOMNIA on YA Books Central!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing - Blog Tag + This Week!

This week, guys...this week is going to be a VERY fun week for me. The kind of fun where there is a very good chance I will not be able to sleep. Turns out that bouncing up and down makes sleep hard to come by...

~ Today: I am answering blog tag questions about my upcoming book.
~ Wednesday: Will be the cover reveal for INSOMNIA on YA Books Central. Dude...it is awesome. Seriously.
~ Thursday: I will post the cover here and share some other exciting developments. So yeah...stick around. It's going to be freaking fantastic.

For now, the blog tag:

One of my fellow Lucky 13s, Helen Douglas (the author of After Eden) tagged me with a blog tag that's been traveling around on the blogs of upcoming debut authors. I thought it looked fun, so I am going to give it a go. :)


Blog Tag -- The Next Big Thing


What is the title of your book?

The title is INSOMNIA, but it almost wasn't. There was a book published by Stephen King with the same name not too long ago, so we debated quite a bit about changing it. In the end, we decided that since they're separated by a few years and are in different genres, it would be okay to stick with it.


Where did the idea come from for the book?

I have weird dreams. It's a common thing and I remember a lot of them. I woke up one morning after a particularly odd dream featuring a shark and boxing. I thought, "Man, that was bizarre. I wonder if other people have dreams like that. Wouldn't it be interesting to see what other people's dreams were like?" It kind of evolved from there. *side note* this particular dream may or may not show up in INSOMNIA, guess you'll have to read to find out. ;-)


What genre does the book fall under?

It is a Young Adult Supernatural Psychological Thriller...yeah, say that three times fast.


What is the one sentence synopsis for the book?

Parker spends every night trapped in the dreams of the last person he made eye contact with during the day and it's killing him, until he meets Mia and discovers her dreams may hold the key to his survival.


How long did it take you to write your book?

The first draft took me about 4 months. Editing and revisions took me about 4 more months before I started querying agents--and then there was more editing after I signed with my agent--and more after I sold to Germany & Italy--and more with Flux...

Yeah, this manuscript has been edited within an inch of it's life. :)


Will it be self-published or published through a traditional publisher?

I am going the traditional route. I will be published with Flux and the book will release on June 8th, 2013. It will also be published traditionally in Germany and Italy in 2013. *Wahoo!* :)


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm...hard choice. Let me think...
Parker: Logan Huffman maybe? But with slightly longer/lighter hair.
Finn: Kendall Schmidt he has the sparkle. :)
Addie: Bella Thorne is exactly what I pictured in my head.
Mia: Kay Panabaker vulnerable + tough, love it.

Well there go two hours of my night. It was super fun though!


What else about your book might pique a reader's interest?

I haven't seen many books with quite this kind of unreliable narration. It was fascinating to write and I hope just as intriguing to read. :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That's it! Now I'd like to tag three 2013 debuts with fantastic books:

Renee Collins - RELIC
Natalie Whipple - TRANSPARENT
Kasie West - PIVOT POINT

You're up girls! Let's see what you've got. :) And don't forget to stick around for all the other exciting things this week!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Giveaway Winners & Cover Reveal Date!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered in my Big Freaking Scary Giveaway! You guys are the best! And now...the winners!

*drumroll please*

1 - Michelle Argyle
2 - Beth DeRenzis
3 - Jennifer Shaw

Yay! Congrats guys! Winners - please contact me at jenn at jennjohansson dot com to find out which prize you won and give me your addresses. Yay! :) 

Sidenote: When Rafflecopter picked Michelle, I was excited because today is the launch party for Michelle's latest book, BONDED. :) So happy day for her. If you haven't heard of Michelle or her books, check her out! She is a fantastic writer.

And second bit of news:

The cover reveal for INSOMNIA will be ONE WEEK from today!

AAAAAAAaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!! 

*jumps up and down*

*hyperventilates*

*flails*

I am so-freaking-mind-numblingly-excited!

The reveal will be on November 14th at noon, Eastern Time over on YA Books Central! And I couldn't be more thrilled to have my cover reveal there because...they rock!

There will be giveaways. There will be a fun little questionnaire interview...but mostly there will be MY COVER and much freaking out will be had! :)

Ahem...yay! And stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Big Freaking Scary Giveaway!

This past couple of weeks have been so fun. Like seriously jump-up-and-down, toss-glitter-in-the-air, dance-around-in-my-pajamas kind of fun because *drumroll please*

I have, right now, on my laptop...

THE OFFICIAL COVER FOR INSOMNIA!!!

...

And I can't show you yet.
















But it will be very soon! I promise. So, stick with me and in the meantime, I'll celebrate scary books by giving some away!

















Ahem... try a little harder for some enthusiasm please?


















Now that's more like it! Much better!


And on to the giveaway! Since we all know I have a fondness for the creepy & scary, I am going to be giving away some of my favorite scary books I've read recently.

TEN by Gretchen McNeil
ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake &
A signed copy of THE HOLLOW CITY by Dan Wells

Dude. So much scary awesome is happening right here! So enter below. I will announce the winners (yes, there will be 3!) next Wednesday, November 7th.

And as soon as I know the exact date of my cover reveal, I will post it here, on twitter, on facebook, the sidewalk in front of my house, and pretty much everywhere else the powers that be will let me write it down. Because, seriously, I can not wait.

Now go enter! Win stuff! And have a Happy Halloween!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 29, 2012

Natalie Whipple's TRANSPARENT Cover

I see a lot of covers. A lot is probably an understatement and it isn't even an actual number. Let's just leave it at 'SO MANY.'

And while I like a lot of them, there are few that leave me staring at my phone in the middle of a restaurant and saying, "Wow...this is just so--wow!" And then showing both of my kids so we can all talk about how cool it is.

That's what happened when I saw the lovely Natalie Whipple's TRANSPARENT cover. It's gorgeous. I think Harper Teen does very cool covers, but this is one of my favorites. I love everything from the popping colors to the tagline to the general vibe. It's just purely awesome. 

So, I waiting long enough after her reveal to be fashionably late...and now I'm putting that prettiness up on my blog so that if you happened to miss the reveal, you can now "ooh and aah" along with me.



Don't you love it? *pets* You can find it on Goodreads.

I love starting off Monday staring at lovely things! Happy Monday! And come back for a Big Freaking Scary Giveaway on Wednesday to celebrate Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Finding Inspiration


Inspiration comes from the strangest places. When I was in Philly, I saw this gate and groundskeeper's building in Rittenhouse Square. My brain went something like this:

Thought 1 : Wow! How cool is that?
Thought 2 : It's really gorgeous.
Thought 3 : Hmm, I bet it could be creepy at night.
Thought 4 : I wonder what kind of situation would make someone have to break in and hide in there...

Yeah, I never claimed my brain wasn't a scary place. That's what has been on my mind lately, what's on yours?

ALSO -- you want to see something else mind-bendingly inspiring? Go see Natalie Whipple's cover reveal for her upcoming debut Transparent!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Setting Philly 2

On Wednesday, I posted the first part in this series: Finding a middle ground. Today I wanted to discuss how setting can define characters within their world.

Setting: Interacting with the World

In one scene, a character may feel embraced by the city surrounding her. All the buildings can feel welcoming. In another scene, perhaps at night and when she is afraid, she might feel more enclosed, trapped. All in the exact same place. That kind of interaction with her world reveals a lot about her character arc.


This is a statue in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. It depicts a lion fighting a serpent. It's awesome and gorgeous and totally sets the character firmly in the real world. This is a real thing that a reader can go and see for themselves. I like that tangible piece of reality in my book very much, but my favorite part of the statue being in the book, is how my character interacts with it.

A quick excerpt to show you what I'm talking about:


I open my eyes and squint at the statue across from my bench. It depicts a fight to the death, a battle. A massive lion crushes a serpent beneath his claw in final victory. Their lives are at stake, their combat fierce. In some ways, I relate more to these animals than the people in the park around me. I struggle to move past my own battle, still remembering every moment of the fight and never able to celebrate my triumph.


It gives a glimpse into her character while at the same time raising a lot of questions. This is my favorite way to use setting. I'm a character oriented kind of gal. Setting that does nothing to advance the story or the character usually feels a little flat to me. I know a lot of fantasy readers sometimes read books purely for the world building and don't get me wrong. I love me some well constructed worlds, but I'm more interested in the why than the what. Show me why the world needs to be this way to work with the plot or the character...that will keep me reading.

What about you? What keeps your attention in a story?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Setting Philly 1


I am home. It is good.

I promised pictures and discussion of setting today, and I'm delivering now. I'm going to stick to some of the basic points that I try to do with my setting. I'll probably post one new thought today and another on Friday. Just because I don't think my mind has recovered enough for more than one fully-formed tip. Hang in with me a bit.  

In the middle of downtown Philadelphia is Rittenhouse Square. It's this beautiful tree filled park surrounded by tall buildings and rushing business people. I love it. Depending on the lighting and the emotion, this place can look either like nature at war with the city, or nature in harmony with the city. It all depends how you play it. This is part of my focus today. Setting is relative. This photo (and more to come) are from this park.

SETTING - Finding a middle ground

There is definitely such a thing as too much AND too little when it comes to setting description. Too much, and the reader loses track of (and interest in) the plot. Too little and everything is occurring in a white room. I also like to try to think a little abstractly when it comes to description. I try to describe the setting through the eyes of my character. How would they see it? Then the description reveals both the setting and adds a new dimension to my character.

The middle ground is also a great territory to hang out when it comes to metaphors and similes. I try not to go with too common ones, but I also don't want to go so far into left field that it pulls the reader out of the story. This is another situation where the comparisons the main character makes can reveal a lot.

For example, in INSOMNIA, there is a line that says, "one fact kept bobbing back up to the surface like a body that wasn't weighed down properly". Is this line creepy? Quick, everyone nod together now. Of course it's creepy, but it gives some real insight into the state/mind of the main character.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Can you think of a book you read recently where the description was done well? What did you like about it?

I'll be back Friday with more thoughts on setting...and more pictures of Philly!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Setting in Your World

I'm traveling again. After this month, I may become a hermit. I love going places, but I admit...I miss my own bed, my own world.

And that leads us to the topic I want to discuss this week -- setting. I'm in Philly right now, and my most recent book takes place here. It's been fascinating to see the things and places I've written about up close. Being in the same place and feeling some of the same things as my main character is surreal.

Anyway, I wanted to start with a question and then I'll give my input into how/why/what I do with it on Wednesday. Complete with photographic detail. ;-) You don't want to miss it. The question is this:

How integral was the setting in the book you are reading/writing? How is it used? Is it more of a backdrop for the action or almost it's own character? Can you think of a way it could be used more effectively?

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Visiting the Publisher - Flux

Last week, after my awesome visit to Green Bay. I had the opportunity to go to the Flux offices and meet so many great people. My editor, Brian Farrey, is fantastic. It was so fun to meet him in person, and huge props to him for coming in to meet me even when he was sick. :( Thanks, Brian!

He gave me the tour, complete with color commentary, which I very much appreciated. We were basically winding in, out, and around a maze of quiet cubicles.

Extremely quiet.

I'd never really thought about this, but they have the accounting department next to the editors and when editors are reading(which they do a lot) , they prefer to focus in silence (at least the ones at Flux do). So, I got to meet the publisher, my publicist, my cover designer, my copy-editor and quite a few other amazing people who were SO friendly and excited to meet me. Our conversations went something like this:

Me: Hi! It's so great to meet you!
Awesome Flux Person: *whispers* It's exciting to meet you, too! I love INSOMNIA!
Me: *remembers to whisper* Oh, thank you so much! I can't wait to get to work on (insert area of the book they will work on here) with you.
Awesome Flux Person: *whispers* It's going to be great. I have you on my schedule for (insert time frame here). I'm looking forward to it.
Me: *whispers* *realizes this feels like a VERY friendly library* Oh, you're so organized! I love it!

Hushed epicness abounded. I loved it.

After the tour, I went to lunch with Brian, Steven (Flux's Publicity Director--Maggie Stiefvater describes him as 'dapper' and that he really should have a monocle and pocket watch. I couldn't agree more.), and Mallory (my publicist--she's new, adorable, and told me her main focus right now is not scaring authors. Well done, Mallory, well done). Lunch was great and so informative. I can't even tell you how excited I am about what they have in store for me and my book. I thought I'd learned so much since I got my agent and book deal, but there is still so much to learn and I can't wait for the next step. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Green Bay Packers, Fun & My New Motto

You may have noticed that I've been missing a bit around here lately. I've had a crazy couple of weeks with so many fun things happening. I thought I'd post this week to tell you a bit about what I've been up to.





From this picture, you might think I was standing nearby when there was a giant green and yellow explosion. Good guess, but you would be wrong. In reality, I dressed this way on purpose because I love the Green Bay Packers.

And this is only the dress rehearsal. This outfit is missing several key components...yes, I'm serious. Stay tuned, I'll prove it in a minute.







The good news is, I'm not the only one who doesn't mind looking like an insane person who got in a fight with a massive field of sunflowers.

See? There are many of us. You might even say a plethora.












Further proof that I'm not alone in my obsession. And my new motto for life is this:

Hey, if an entire city in Wisconsin does it, it can't be wrong.







We got to sit here. Quarterback Aaron *pardon me whilst I swoon* Rodgers (#12) was practically in my lap.

The in-my-lap-seats were already sold *cue sad face*, so I had to settle for these.




The last game we went to was the playoff game against the Giants last year. It was...painful. My only consolation was that at least we lost to the team who went on to win it all. The game we attended this time was against the Saints and not only was it a nail-biter, we won this one. Which is WAY more fun, and makes dressing up like this totally worth it.



Take note, if you plan to fly across the country to go see your team play a football game...try to pick one that they win. See guys? Invaluable information here. Pay attention.

On Wednesday, I'll be posting about how awesome it is to go visit your publisher! :)

What have you been up to?


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Relics with Magic? Oh My! Congrats Renee!

Dude...doesn't this sound freaking abso-tively fantastic? 



September 27, 2012
Children's:
Young Adult 
Debut author Renee Collins' RELIC, pitched as True Grit meets The Prestige, set in a world in which the remains of long-extinct magical creatures are mined and traded on the black market in the red rock desert of the Colorado Territory for their residual magic powers, where a young girl must learn how to harness the power of relics and forge a risky alliance with a local land baron in order to survive, to Stacy Abrams at Entangled, by Mollie Glick at Foundry Literary + Media.
Foreign rights: rhecht@foundrymedia.com
 


Yes. Yes, it does. Because it is.

I adore this book and my lovely friend Renee Collins has been sitting on this exciting news for awhile now.

Here is her picture:


See? I told you, she's lovely. :) Anyway, I'm so happy for her and I love this book. I can't wait to see it in print. Everyone go stop by her announcement and congratulate her. Throw confetti! Clink Glasses! Don't confuse the two...throwing glasses hurts.

Congrats, Renee! Love you, girl!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Busy, Busy

You know how at the end of summer you always think, "Things will calm down a bit once fall hits. Then I'll be able to get more done."

Unfortunately, not so much.

I just figured out that in the next month  I will be spending time in 8 different states.

Yep...I said eight.


Bad news: I'm running around like a madwoman and it doesn't look to be calming down soon.

Good news: Know what I do on planes? I write. Planes are my hands-down favorite place to write & read. I have no idea why...it's just always been that way. So, it will be a very productive month despite my crazy schedule.

What about you? Where do you most like to read or write? Has your fall schedule slowed down the way I hoped mine would?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Congratulations Nichole!

My laptop is not here.

I am sad.

So, forgive this short but sweet & simple post. I couldn't wait a whole extra day to share it, so I'm doing it from my phone. Which, believe it or not, is even harder than it sounds. 

My good friend, Nichole Giles, has had an extremely exciting few weeks...and finally got to share her good news!


Please stop by and wish her congratulations on her new agent AND book deal!

For real.

She has been working toward this goal for so long without ever giving up. She is the definition of determination and I am so, so happy for her. Seriously, this kind of news deserves confetti & purple sparkles all over it, so let's celebrate!

Congrats, Nichole! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

VLOG: What Does Your Pantry Say?

Over at Friday the Thirteeners we did a blog-to-blog dare last Friday. It was so much fun and I love those girls. We had a couple of technical difficulties so some of my captions were cut off, so I'm re-posting it here for anyone who missed it or wants to see the vlog in all it's full ridiculousness. :)




What pantry contents would you choose to portray the characters in your book if given this challenge? Why? 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Behaving Badly

Last Thursday, a literary agent in California was assaulted by a writer she had rejected. He broke the side mirror off her car, and hit her head against the steering wheel until her Jack Terrier bit his arm. Her name is Pam van Hylckama. She's a newer agent with the Larsen Pomada Literary Agency.

When I read this article, it made me sick. She was waiting outside her daughter's school. This agent was going about her day, minding her own business, and a disgruntled writer took it upon himself to hurt her.

I want to point out that she thought it was a carjacking. She didn't even want to believe it could be a writer. The police didn't have as much faith. When they took her report, the first place they went was to check her e-mail. They looked through for the angry, violent, threatening responses she'd received from writers. There was one that she said was "the normal I hate you, I want you to die and I'll kill you."

Getting emails like this is apparently "normal" for agents so she didn't report it, and that is just sad.

I know these angry rejection responses happen in our community far too often, and many might be saying, "Well, yeah, I send emails when I'm mad, but I'd never hurt anyone." I have many responses to that, but I'll give two:

1 - It's incredibly unprofessional - Let's say you were applying for a job as a receptionist, and the hiring manager used their own free time to observe your experience and skills in this arena, then decided you weren't the best candidate and informed you they were going to go a different direction. Would you send them nasty emails? Call them names? Threaten them? It's never a good idea. It burns bridges and won't make you feel better. Don't do it.

2 - You become a suspect - Do you really want there to be any situation in which someone is attacked and you are the first person the police look at? No. I don't think you do.

I know saying this to most of my blog readers is like preaching to the choir. You all know this, but I think this is something that writers in our community need to speak out against.

Agents are not perfect. They aren't even all great people (I could say the same for any group), but they devote their time to books. Something we all love. They spend countless unpaid hours every week reading queries and submissions. They take on new clients and spend even more time helping them prepare and taking them on submission--still unpaid. They are not saints, and I can assure you that I've been frustrated by a rejection the same as everyone else.

Here is the point. Agents are people, and whether we choose to work with them in our path to publication or not, they deserve our respect. And they deserve to feel safe in their cars and homes. No one should take that away from them.

So, have you heard about this? What do you think?

Friday, September 14, 2012

I Dare You!

Over at Friday the Thirteeners, to celebrate the release of NERVE by Jeanne Ryan, we are doing a blog-to-blog dare today with the EMU's Debuts! You know it's going to get interesting when Publisher's Weekly featured it on their Children's Bookshelf. :)

You should totally head over to today's Thirteeners dare post and check out the awesome dares! You can vote for your favorite and get entered to win a signed copy of NERVE!

Happy Friday!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Head of the Class

Last week I posted about that moment when an author says, "What the heck am I doing?!" For me, it was facing a class of 5th graders and teaching them about what you should do before crafting a story.

As you can tell from my post, I was terrified.

A few of you asked me to report on how it went after the fact, so I'm doing that today. There is really only one thing to say about the experience:

It was incredible! And I am SO happy I did it.

The kids were fantastic! We started off discussing the steps that need to happen before you sit down to write a story. I asked them what kind of things you should know about any scene/story/chapter before you start writing. We came up with these basic needs:

Who? - character
What? - plot
Where & When? - setting
Why? - character motivation
How? - world building

My son and I came prepared with a scene for a MG idea we came up with. I asked for volunteers and substituted names from the kids in the class for the character names in the scene. The kids were very enthusiastic about being included in the story...there was very nearly bloodshed, but we kept it under control. ;-) 

I read the scene with the kids names in it. They were so excited! After the scene, I had them help me identify the answers to all those questions. We had our own brainstorming session and came up with our own ideas for a scene and filled in all the needs on our list. At the end, I took questions about what I write, being an author, my book, etc.

Seriously...these kids were so much fun to work with. This experience was, without a doubt, one of the funnest things I've ever done as a writer. I can't even explain how happy I am that I faced this fear and agreed to talk to the class.

What are you afraid of doing this week? What great thing could happen if you decide to go for it?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

That Moment

Every author has a moment when they nod and agree to do something that they aren't quite prepared for. It might be anything from a particular signing, a difficult round of edits, or teaching at a conference. They usually agree to do it with a smile, looking confident, maybe even excited...but somewhere in the back of their mind there is someone screaming:

"What? NO! No, I can't do this! This isn't something I'm remotely prepared for! Please don't make me! I'll do anything! I'll even learn to use commas correctly if you just won't MAKE me do this!"

*weeping*
*wailing*
*gnashing of teeth*

For me, it turns out that this moment comes at the hands of a class of 5th graders. I'm not even sure why it scares me so much. I think it's partly because I write upper YA so I always assumed I'd mostly be talking to older teens. It also makes me nervous because it's my son's class. I keep picturing how embarrassed I would've been if my mom showed up to teach us about something, couldn't speak, accidentally knocked the chalk board down, injured my classmates and then curled into the fetal position in the corner, endlessly repeating the words "I'm a hermit." and "Author communes are good."

Because when I picture it in my head, this is what happens.

Anyway, I'm heading off to do this today. Wish me luck, and pray for the kids. ;-)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day! Let the Winning Commence!

The winners of the Celebration Giveaway are: 

Stephanie W. 


Imel C.

Congratulations to you both! 





Thanks to everyone who participated. It was so much fun reading how many things people had to celebrate! It made my week!

Today, I'm celebrating a little something called Labor Day. According to the U.S. Department of Labor: "Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

Dude. They make me sound like I accomplish much more from my office than I think I do. Next time my kids come in, see me staring at a blank screen, and ask what I'm doing, I'm going to answer, "I'm contributing to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country." Then I'll stare them down and say, "Have you even finished your homework yet?"

Have a happy Labor Day! What are you doing for the holiday?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Editing Side-Effects

I'm editing. This means a few things to me.

It means I am staying up too late. My brain doesn't fully kick in until about noon. I have accepted this. I'm much more of a night owl than a morning person, but I have kids that have to get up and go to school. Which means I am a staying up too late and getting up too early person. You can tell I'm editing by the dark circles under my eyes, the inability to stop yawning in the mornings, and the self-imposed naptime schedule.

It means I keep munchies handy for quick snacks, but usually never remember to eat them. Thus, it means my kids get super excited to have said munchies laying around the house all vulnerable and exposed. I guess it works well for both of us.

It also means that I'm hyper-critical of everything I'm doing. I don't just edit my book, I edit my life. When I'm in edit-mode, I find more efficient ways to keep the dishes in the kitchen done, better plans to keep the car clean, and add new labels to my email inbox.

Am I crazy? Do other people do this too? It makes me wonder. Also, if you haven't entered to win my Giveaway, you can do so now. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Giveaway Celebration

Over the weekend, I hit 3000 twitter followers which was really fun, so I decided to have a celebration because...um...friends are cool.

Also, I really like to give stuff away. :)

So, for this giveaway, I'm going to offer up two prizes and two winners. It will be available international! Mostly because I'm a huge fan of other countries. *blows kisses to Germany & Italy* Yay!

Each winner can choose any book (up to $15) from The Book Depository. Entries will be accepted until next Sunday night -- September 2nd. The winners will be announced in my post next Monday, September 3rd.

What do you have to celebrate this week?

Also...let the games begin!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Look! It's Me!

Today I'm posting over on the Lucky 13s about the Plot Discovery Road Trip. Do you drive through your first draft with a road map? Just drive where the road takes you? Or somewhere in between? Stop by and chat with the 2013 Children's & YA Debuts about it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Confession...My Kryptonite

Many writers struggle with action scenes. Some have a hard time with pacing or plot structure.

My weakness is the scenes with all the kissy-kissy.

It's not that I don't like it. My stony heart goes all pitter-patter over the romance just like most readers. For some reason though, it's my least favorite scene to write. I'd rather write a bloody brawl or a scary graveyard scene than a smoochie scene any day of the week.

But I recognize this and I've worked very hard on it. I finally feel like I can write a good make-out session with the best of them, but it's still isn't easy for me.

So now you know, kissing is my kryptonite. What is yours?

Friday, August 17, 2012

So...Much...Brilliance!

School starts next week. WriteOnCon just ended. My kids had stomach flu all week. And I have edits I need to finish up by Monday.

So, rather than try to pull together a post with a brain that is not altogether available right now, I'm going to let other people be brilliant on my behalf. I love it when the people of the internets do that for me! :)

*Genius post from Paper Lantern Lit on The Art of the First Page.

*Some awesome writing tips from myself and the other Lucky 13s + tons of giveaways on our Back to Basics WriteOnCon post.

* This inspirational post on The Essential Invisible Thing by Editor Molly O'Neill over at WOC

* This fantastic ProPanel from WOC including: Agents Sarah LaPolla & Katie Grimm and Editors Alison Weiss & Sara Sargent

* In fact, I'm noticing a pattern here...just go check out all of WriteOnCon. It's so, so good. I promise you won't regret it.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

WriteOnCon - Are You In?

Have you heard about WriteOnCon? If not, you are missing out.

It's a free online writers conference taking place right now. You can read more about it in this article from Publishers Weekly. It started yesterday, but you can read transcripts and posts of everything that happened yesterday and you're not too late to join in on the fun for day 2!

If you've attended conferences before, you know how great they can be. If you haven't, what better place to check one out than from home and for free? I got to participate behind the scenes this year (you might spot me in the welcome video, with some tips or as part of a giveaway), and it was so much fun. It's free after all, so when you get a minute, pop on over and check it out!

Casual = very good. And most other conferences really frown on you attending in your pajamas.

Snobs.


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Olympics & Dreaming your Dream

I've loved watching the Olympics these last couple of weeks. There is something breathtaking about seeing people chase their dreams.

It's written plainly on their faces: the absolute joy of success, the heart-breaking agony of failure. These people have invested everything they have in this one sprint, this one swim, this one moment.

This is commitment.

It takes a kind of madness, a desperation, to chase a dream in such a way. It's a madness I respect. I hope some piece of it lives in me.

Watching these Olympians inspires me. I want to be like them, to strive to improve with every book, every chapter, every sentence. I try to get better every day. Some days I get one step closer to that gold medal, some days I take a step back...but the dream remains. And I chase it every day.

What dreams do you reach for? What inspires you to get there?

Friday, August 10, 2012

One Time in the Cardio Cinema...P.S.A.

It is time for Gym Horror Stories - Part Deux...or um, another warning to help you live a happier life. Yeah, that.

Consider this a Public Service Announcement from me to you. It could very well save your life. Pay attention: 

The Cardio Cinema may be hazardous to your health.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Cardio Cinema, let me explain. It is a special movie theater in a gym. The lights are low, the movie is loud and intense--and you are on the exercise equipment of your choice.

If, like me, you are an unbelievable klutz...it can be a lethal combination.

Let me set a scene for you. Let me clarify that by doing so, I am in no way admitting to a similar situation in which I developed bruises all over my body.

I repeat, I admit nothing.

Let's say someone entered the Cardio Cinema, prepared for some jogging time on the treadmill. A dark, intense movie is in full swing--"Mission Impossible" perhaps, maybe near the end when they're on the train and it's very dark.

This person may find an empty treadmill and finally, through the aid of a cell phone light, find that stupid "Quick Start" button. Success! They are jogging, they are enjoying a good movie, they don't even have to think about the fact that they're exercising.

Quickly, they become so engrossed in the movie, there is no attention paid to the exercise equipment. The left foot may wander to the unmoving edge of the treadmill, where it is puzzled when it is no longer moving. The right foot meanwhile is still trying to keep the body upright so it moves twice as fast while screaming, "WHAT JUST HAPPENED?"

Even in this precarious state, the rebelling eyes are still desperately watching Tom Cruise to see if he gets decapitated by the helicopter blade--after all, he seems to be in more danger than some random person on a treadmill... right?

WRONG.

What happens then? - You may ask. Well, I suppose they could fall on their stomachs and get flung off the back of the treadmill, just as the scene moves to a lighted interior train car. Yes, the timing is perfect for everyone behind them to gasp and stare.

Desperate to avoid someone calling 911, this person may jump to their feet as though this was a planned stunt to go along with the movie. A little wave of the hand will surely settle everyone down as they climb back on the treadmill and quietly whisper, "Ow, ow, ow, ow!" under their breath until everyone's eyes return the the movie screen.

Yes, it could happen.

So, let me caution you. If you are going to use a Cardio Cinema, choose a well lit movie and keep your eyes on your feet.

Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It Bears Repeating... P.S.A.


About once a year, I face embarrassment--yea, even dishonor--to share two stories.

I do this for you, dear bloggy-friend. I couldn't stand for you to suffer the way I have. And so, I warn you and hopefully prevent your inevitable humiliation.

Either that, or I like it when people shoot water out of their nose with laughter.

I admit nothing.


Without further ado -- my public service announcement:

There is something sinister going on at Gold's Gym. Not to worry, it isn't just any Gold's Gym--it isn't even my Gold's Gym--it is a nearby Gold's Gym that has gone over to the dark side.

Trust me, we're talking wicked voodoo magic here. It's the only possible explanation for the events that have occurred in this particular gym location...or at least the only one I'm willing to admit.

First let me tell you of the unfortunate incident that occurred one Friday in February.

It was a cold, wet day. I was in a different part of town than I usually roam, but I went about my routine as usual. I swam my laps, then stretched in the hot tub and sauna--exactly as I do several times a week in my own gym to no ill effect. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred. After a few minutes in the steam room, I grabbed my towel and walked into the locker room.

As usual, I'd forgotten which locker I had placed my bag in. I paced back and forth, trying to remember where I'd been standing, but somehow...everything seemed different. Finally, I remembered it had been locker 13. Yes, locker 13--ominous, no? That was when it hit me...

I was surrounded by men.

Men in towels, with jaws hanging wide open.

Yes, I'd been walking around in the men's locker room for over a minute.

Naturally, I handled the situation with grace and dignity. I threw my towel over my head, screamed, "Aaahhh, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" and ran out of the locker room.

As I stood, panting by the pool, I couldn't help but hear the outburst of laughter from the men who'd witnessed my unfortunate incident.

Now you've heard the evidence, you decide. Were there sinister machinations at work? Or was I just silly enough not to realize that the locker rooms were swapped from their locations at my normal gym?


One word of warning. Your responses may or may not determine whether I give you a cookie.

P.S. Drop by on Friday for another mishap...erm, WARNING...about an experience I had on a different gym excursion. Pure proof that something dark is happening here because it was at the SAME GYM LOCATION! *buh buh buum!*

Friday, August 3, 2012

How to Drag Emotion From Your Readers


There is a direct correlation between how much stress/relief you provide a reader during your story and the emotion they feel about it after it's over. How passionate your reader is about your work will determine how many people they tell about it.

So how do you make them feel those peaks of stress and valleys of relief? Well, the first thing we have to do is make our characters compelling and relatable (Blogger tells me this isn't a word, but Webster says it is... I'm going with the dictionary on this one, sorry B). If our readers don't care about the characters, then why would they care what happens to them?

Another important aspect, is to make sure the conflicts are both central to the story and that they incite a change in the characters. Characters that are evolving = much more intriguing.

We can also make the stakes huge--to the characters. Every story can't be about saving the world, but if our main characters feel like the stakes put their own lives, happiness, future, etc. in jeopardy--it will be just as moving.

Another way to bring emotion out in the reader is to make the scenery itself, match or conflict with the emotions (mostly with really powerful emotional scenes) within the scene. A peaceful emotion within a peaceful scene makes the reader feel one way, but a peaceful emotion within chaos makes them feel something different. Just don't stick a powerful emotion in a lame scene with no power--Go Big or Go Home. ;)

I discovered this last tip way back when with my first book, ORACLE. There are a couple of scenes where Lexi is feeling seriously messed up--utter inner turmoil. In one scene, the world around her is also in chaos. In another, she's curled up in a tire swing in the backyard on a quiet night trying to hold perfectly still so no one will find her.

Which one got a bigger response from my readers? The tire swing, every single time.

Anyway, what do you guys do to pull that perfect response from your readers? As a reader, what aspects of a book make it the most powerful for you?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Brain Vacation

I'm on a brain vacation. This doesn't mean I've stopped thinking--at least I hope not. It means I'm taking two weeks off from writing (while my in-laws are visiting from Finland). My brain is begging for a little relaxation time and I'm giving in.

After the vacation, I get to dive back into work on Book II tentatively titled, WHEN INSOMNIACS ATTACK...

We're still toying with it.

Anyway, as part of my brain vacation, I'm reading. And boy am I enjoying it. So, I thought I'd dedicate this mid-week post to book suggestions. What is your latest escapist delight? What made you read until the wee hours of the morning and left you wishing for more after the last page?

Here, I'll start. I recently read SURRENDER by Elana Johnson and loved it. Now it's your turn.

Go! :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Winning!

Today I get to announce the winners of my Too Many Books Giveaway! First let me say, I was SO excited at the amount of entries and participants for this contest. I'm so thrilled to have met so many new people. :) Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter and spread the word. You all made it so much more fun!

And without further ado:


*drumroll*



Prize Package 3 - A copy of SHADOW & BONE by Leigh Bardugo...the winner is:

Rachel T.


Prize Package 2 - Both UGLIES and PRETTIES by Scott Westerfield...the winner is:

Ilima T.


Prize Package 1 - A signed copy of both POSSESSION & SURRENDER by Elana Johnson...the winner is:

Stephanie W.

Thanks to everyone! I'll be contacting the winners about sending their prizes.

Have a happy Monday! :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dear Postman, How I Love Thee -- ARCs!

Yeah, that's a blog title I never thought I'd write. Please, someone stop me before I write an ode to my postman like I did to my agent.

Neither of us want that...believe me.

Why do I love my postman so much, you ask?




Because he brought me THREE gorgeous ARCs in less than two weeks!!




Then I sat down to write this blog post...


HAHAHAhahahaha...haha...haa...





Sorry, that was funny. As if I'm really going to take enough time away from reading these little beauties to write a full blog post. Yep, I find this amusing.

So, yeah...that's why this blog post is full of just me laughing and love for my postman.

What ARC are you dying to get your hands on these days? And even more important, if you got it...how would you thank your postman? ;-)

P.S. You have just over two days to enter my Too Many Books Giveaway! Don't forget!