A Musician Wannabe (and Denise Jaden’s cover reveal)

I’m a musician wannabe. My smattering of mid-life piano lessons left me able to stumble through a piece of music well enough to discern the tune, but not well enough to keep up if someone wanted to sing along. How I fell into being a church choir director for almost nineteen years is a story all its own, but sufficient to say, it fed my love of music even if it didn’t provide any additional proficiency. Maybe it also contributed to why I like inside peeks at what life is like for musicians.


I have a cousin who is the lead singer for the classic rock group ‘Trooper’. When Ra McGuire wrote HERE FOR A GOOD TIME: On the Road with Trooper, Canada’s Legendary Rock Band (Insomniac Press 2006), I loved being immersed in his experiences on tour.


Then I discovered Denise Jaden’s LIVING OUT LOUD YA series. There are currently six titles available, with a seventh coming soon. Today Denise reveals its cover:

The synopsis of PAPARAZZI:
Eli and the band can barely believe they’ve made it so far on the Hold That Note reality show, but thanks to Kass’s vision, they’re some of the last few competitors. Unfortunately, the profoundly-talented Fennel Winthrop has taken a liking to Eli, and with the amiable part they have to play in public, coupled with all of Kass’s insecurities surfacing in the wings, Kass and Eli can’t seem to hold a relationship together.

When the band expresses concerns about Eli’s focus, Kass and Eli are forced to keep their distance from each other. Kass focuses on her new job in order to be able to stay in town, while Eli gives his all to his band and the show.

But his all, without Kass by his side to inspire him, may not be enough.

You can pre-order Paparazzi today!

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While the LIVING OUT LOUD series is aimed at the young adult market, I’ve found the stories and characters intriguing. Perhaps it’s the fangirl in me — the wannabe musician, if you like — but there are complexities of both plot and personalities that make this an engaging series.

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Everything Writing

This week my life is all about writing. Oh, I write pretty much every day, but there’s a special focus on it right now.

On Tuesday I joined my daughter, Shari Green, for an evening hosted by the Golden Ears Writers in Maple Ridge. She and her fellow authors Denise Jaden and Dawn Ius Dalton took part in a panel-style workshop on ‘Ideas and Imaginings: Finding and developing story ideas and exploring the world of re-tellings and re-imaginings.’ Such great insights and so many good ideas emerged!

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(Denise Jaden, Dawn Ius Dalton and Shari Green)

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Now Shari and I are at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, a long weekend that is always the highlight of our writing year. For our very introverted souls, it’s both exhilarating and daunting to be a part of the hundreds-large crowd of literary peeps — big name authors and writers of all levels of experience, editors, agents, publishers and screenwriters — and be immersed in everything writing for three (very long) days.

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With several dozen workshops and presenters, keynote speeches, book signings and banquets plus all the hobnobbing in between, it provides a huge dose of information and inspiration, boosts our creativity and rejuvenates our writerly souls. It’s also exhausting!

It will be good preparation for November and the annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) marathon  — our zany effort to produce 50,000 words in thirty days.

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With it following a week after the conference, we’re always more than ready to creep into our solitary spaces and start prepping for a month of concentrated writing. Then, with the arrival of November, more times than not, we manage to hammer out a rough draft of a complete novel.

So I guarantee you won’t see much of me around here for the next few weeks — there won’t be a lot of musing and mental meandering time — but I’ll pop in with periodic updates. Let me know what you’re up to, too, and I’ll offer encouragement where I can. Any new projects? Are you finishing old ones, revising, mulling, or deep in tearing-your-hair-out frustrations? Let me know. We can console each other. 🙂

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Cover Reveal for FOREIGN EXCHANGE by Denise Jaden (plus a Special Giveaway)

 

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Author Denise Jaden’s next book, FOREIGN EXCHANGE, is due to be released this October. Denise is here today to let us in on the cover reveal, and she also has a special giveaway for us, involving Stephanie Perkins’ ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Read on to find out more. 

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First, here are a few of Denise’s thoughts on Foreign Exchange and its cover…

 

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I’m so incredibly excited to share my cover of Foreign Exchange with you! This book holds a very special place in my heart. I wrote it during a very difficult year of my life, and the characters and their stories were a real bright spot for me.

Because this book is so important to me, I’m giving away something VERY important to me to go along with this cover reveal. I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy of the highly-anticipated Isla and the Happily Ever After by one of my all-time favorite authors, Stephanie Perkins. ISLA and Foreign Exchange are both romances with swoon-worthy boys, and they’re both set partially in Europe. So I want one lucky person to receive my advanced copy of ISLA to get you excited for Foreign Exchange!

Read on, check out my cover, and read the first chapter of Foreign Exchange below. It’ll all help you in earning extra entries to win my copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After!

And here is the beautiful cover…

 

Jamie Monroe has always played it safe. That is, until her live-for-the-moment best friend, Tristan, jets off to Italy on a student exchange program. Left alone with her part-time mother and her disabled brother, Jamie discovers that she is quite capable of taking her own risks, starting with her best friend’s hotter-than-hot older brother, Sawyer. Sawyer and Tristan have been neighbors for years, but as Jamie grows closer to the family she thought she knew, she discovers some pretty big secrets.

As she sinks deeper into their web of pretense, she suspects that her best friend may not be on a safe exchange program at all. Jamie sets off to Europe on a class trip with plans to meet up with Tristan, but when Tristan stops all communication, suddenly no one seems trustworthy, least of all the one person she was starting to trust—Sawyer. 

 “Foreign Exchange is a fresh contemporary YA that will keep readers compulsively turning pages until the very end. Combining international intrigue with a steamy forbidden romance makes for a can’t miss read.”
 – Eileen Cook  Author of Year of Mistaken Discoveries. 
“A pitch perfect voice and delicious chemistry kept me turning those pages!”
– Tara Kelly, author of Amplified and Encore
“Foreign Exchange is heart pounding and suspenseful…the teenage dream of escaping the boredom of suburbia by travelling Europe and spending quality time with a hot guy shifts into a dangerous nightmare.”
 – D.R. Graham, author of Rank and the upcoming Noir et Bleu MC series.
 

One of the entries in the Rafflecopter below will ask you a question from the above chapter!

This contest is open internationally!
Don’t forget…this copy of ISLA could be yours…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Note – If you cannot access the Rafflecopter Widget through this blog, access it HERE.

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Blog Tour: Denise Jaden’s FAST FICTION

p1053859691-2-177x260Rather than doing a traditional interview-filled blog tour, Denise Jaden is celebrating the release of her new nonfiction writing book, FAST FICTION, by dropping tips about writing quickly at every stop of her blog tour, and offering some awesome prizes for commenting on any of these posts (including this one!)

The more you drop by and comment, the more chances you have to win these great prizes.

Denise’s Fast Fiction Tip: Don’t Beat Yourself Up!

As writers, I think you’ll agree this phrase almost sounds like an oxymoron. Beating ourselves up is often what we’re best at! And that, faster than anything, will stilt our creativity. Either we don’t feel like we write well enough, or fast enough, or consistent enough, or commercial enough.

In order to stop this, first try to think of which phrase you beat yourself up with most often. If it’s that you don’t write well enough (or perhaps a more negative phrasing of that sentiment), try to find something that will help you remember the opposite about yourself. There must have been a time in your life that you did think you wrote well enough, otherwise you would not be a writer. Was that from a certain piece of writing that you crafted a few years ago? If so, print a piece of that writing out and place it somewhere prominent in your writing area. Or was it from compliments you received on your writing via email? If that’s the case, keep all of these “happy” emails somewhere in one place where you can find them easily when you need them most.

Battle all of your negative voices, and you’ll be sailing through your next draft!

The Prizes:

  • Compliments of New World Library: They will be giving away A BOX of copies of FAST FICTION by Denise Jaden and GET IT DONE by Sam Bennett (US and Canada only):
  • Compliments of Denise Jaden, TWO BOXES of great fiction (US Only). Details on Denise’s blog.
  • Audiobook copies of NEVER ENOUGH by Denise Jaden!
  • A critique of your first five pages, compliments of Denise’s agent, Michelle Humphrey from The Martha Kaplan Agency!

All you have to do is comment and then enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win (at the bottom of this post, I’ve included links to all of the other blogs where you can comment for more chances to win).

About Fast Fiction:

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).

Praise for Fast Fiction:

“Fast Fiction is filled with stellar advice, solid-gold tips, and doable, practical exercises for all writers who want to draft a complete novel.”

— Melissa Walker, author of Violet on the Runway

“Being a ‘pantser’ I have always resisted outlining, but I have to say that Fast Fiction changed my mind! Denise Jaden takes what I find to be a scary process (outlining) and makes it into an easy and, dare I say, enjoyable one. Fast Fiction is a hands-on book that asks the right questions to get your mind and your story flowing. I know I’ll be using Fast Fiction over and over again. Highly recommended for fiction writers!

— Janet Gurtler, author of RITA Award finalist I’m Not Her

“Fast Fiction is full of strategies and insights that will inspire and motivate writers of every experience level — and best of all, it provides them with a solid plan to quickly complete the first draft of their next novel.”

— Mindi Scott, author of Freefall

“Fast Fiction provides writers with the perfect mix of practical guidance and the kick in the pants they need to finish that draft. This book is a must-have for writers of all levels.”

— Eileen Cook, author of The Almost Truth

Practical and down-to-earth, Denise Jaden’s Fast Fiction makes a one-month draft seem doable, even for beginners, any month of the year.”

— Jennifer Echols, author of Endless Summer and Playing Dirty

“One of the greatest challenges any writer faces is getting a great idea out of one’s brain and onto the page. Fast Fiction breaks that process down into concrete, manageable steps, each accompanied by Denise Jaden’s sage advice and enthusiastic encouragement. And anything that helps streamline the drafting process is a-okay by me! Fast Fiction is a great addition to any writer’s toolbox — I’ve got it in mine!”

— Catherine Knutsson, author of Shadows Cast by Stars

“Forget the fact that this resource is directed at those wanting to complete a fast draft — if you’re out to get your novel done, period, Jaden’s Fast Fiction will be the kick in the butt that gets you there, from story plan to ‘The End’. . . and beyond.”

— Judith Graves, author of the Skinned series for young adults

Where you can find Fast Fiction:

Blog Tour Stops:

To be entered to win prizes galore, comment on any of the following blog posts celebrating Fast Fiction’s release! Then to get credit for each comment, click the Rafflecopter link and follow instructions.

(All Fast Fiction blog posts should be live by March 9th, or sooner. Contest will be open until March 15th. If any links don’t work, stop by http://denisejaden.blogspot.com for updated links.)

GCC Blogs:

Additional Participating Blogs:

Remember, all you have to do is leave comments to get lots of extra entries to win some great prizes. Don’t know what to comment about? Tell us the name of your favorite writing book!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here

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What prompts us to say ‘Thank you’?

 

First… it’s time for the announcement as promised on Friday!

I put the Random Number Generator to work, and it has selected Comment #7, which, when I eliminate Denise’s comment, mine and Shari’s, turns out to be Laura Best’s. Congratulations, Laura! If you’ll e-mail your postal address to caroljgarvin[at]gmail[dot]com, I’ll send you the signed copy of Denise’s NEVER ENOUGH.

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It’s Thanksgiving Day here in Canada.

I doubt there is a child alive who hasn’t been admonished by a parent more than once to “Say thank you.” After all, it’s good manners. We’re meant to show appreciation for a gift received, a kindness shown, or a favour given.

So when Thanksgiving arrives, many of us have been brainwashed into our responses: “Thank you for all my blessings.” But who are we thanking, and what specifically are those blessings? And a bigger question might be are we really all that thankful?

For millions in the developed world there is a sense of entitlement. We’ve worked hard — or perhaps our parents did — to earn what we have. Whether we share a crowded room or live in a mansion, there is a belief that we have a right to that roof over our heads. We anticipate at least one square meal a day, too, and clothing to keep our bodies covered and warm. Some of us live in abundance (my fingers tremble a bit here as I compose this on one of our three computers). We take a lot for granted… unless it’s all taken away from us.

Unless we return home from an evening with friends and find nothing but rubble left — unless serious illness happens, or accident, job loss or some other calamity leaps out of nowhere and strips us of everything that we’ve always had — until then we don’t think a lot about what constitutes our style of living, do we?

Instead we mutter about Monday mornings, moan about the chores, and mumble about getting started on our Christmas shopping.

In Jesus’ day leprosy was a big deal — a horrible, highly contagious and incurable illness that resulted in the afflicted being banished into isolated communities. So when ten lepers were healed by Jesus, it was as if they had been raised from the living-dead.

“One of them [the lepers], when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough.”

Luke 17:15-16 (Msg)

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Were the other nine not overjoyed, too? I’m sure they were. I imagine they marvelled at their unblemished skin and hurried on to be reunited with their friends and families and rejoice together. I don’t doubt they were thankful, but only one took the time to acknowledge the source of the miracle and return to say ‘thank you’.

So I’m back to my earlier questions. What prompts us to say ‘thank you’ today? Is it an automated, conditioned response, or do we really know who are we thanking, why, and specifically for what? Do we offer cursory appreciation before digging into the turkey, or do we kneel at His feet, so grateful for the new lives He’s given us that we can never thank Him enough?

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To each of you, my thanks for your precious cyber friendship and support.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo by think4photop

Book Reviews and Giveaway — WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART and NEVER ENOUGH — Author Denise Jaden

When author Denise Jaden shares the experiences that have influenced how she handles grief in her writing, she doesn’t mince words. A miscarriage, the death of her father in a workplace accident, the head injury of her son and her husband’s place of business burning down, all happened in the span of four months, and suddenly had her coping with unexpected loss and grief.

She says, “As much as I didn’t want it, I’ve had the opportunity to think on some teachable aspects of grief as I was walking my journey.” Not only did she think on them, she has utilized them to create a wonderful book for anyone writing about characters who are also dealing with loss.

In her first non-fiction book, WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART: USING GRIEF AND LOSS TO STRETCH YOUR FICTION, Denise shares her ideas on how to add emotional layers to your writing about characters going through various forms of loss. She analyzes how individuals react in grief, and provides exercises to help writers apply these reactions to their characters.

It’s an invaluable resource for every writer. Released October 1st, the paperback version is available at Create Space and through Amazon.  The e-book is available at AmazonSmashwordsKoboDiesel and Sony. Check out Denise’s blog for a Goodreads giveaway. Also, if you send Denise your mailing address at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com with “Bookmarks” in the subject line, she’ll  be happy to send some bookmarks your way

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This is the second of Denise’s books to be released in 2012. In July I was pleased to attend the launch of her second YA novel, NEVER ENOUGH. It’s a remarkable story about two sisters each coping with their sense of self-esteem and inadequacy. About it Publishers Weekly said, “In her sophomore novel, Jaden (Losing Faith) offers an intimate and enlightened rendering of anorexia and bulimia…Loann’s fight against forces that might be beyond her control is both harrowing and inspiring. While Jaden does not provide simple answers for the problems presented, she dramatically illustrates the importance of speaking out and reaching out.”

Like Denise’s first novel LOSING FAITH, NEVER ENOUGH is another story that caught me up and kept me reading non-stop to the end.

I have a signed copy of NEVER ENOUGH to give away to one of you who leaves a comment below before noon on Sunday, October 7th. Please be sure to leave your e-mail address when prompted so I can contact the winner. Draw is limited to mailing addresses in Canada and the United States. Winner will be announced on Monday.

NEVER ENOUGH is available just about everywhere I look, including on Amazon.

If you’ll be attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, October 19-21, 2012 at Surrey’s Sheraton Hotel, I believe Denise will also have copies of her books available there.

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March Madness Challenge 2011

I’ve done it again — signed up for Denise Jaden’s MARCH MADNESS CHALLENGE. It’s not that I want to be publicly humiliated, or that I’m enamored by failure. Committing to a specific goal has a way of pushing me into a do-or-die mind set, and I really don’t want to die.

The Challenge has been expanded this year to include any book or writing related goals — writing, reading, blogging, etc. Now that March has arrived the Challenge officially begins today. This is how it works:

  1. You set a goal in the comment section on DENISE JADEN’S BLOG (anything writing, reading, blogging, or otherwise book related). It can be as small and simple a goal as turning off your Internet while you write during the month of March. Or it can be as large as writing or revising an entire book.
  2. You check in daily (Monday through Friday) at the designated blog, and leave a comment. Let everyone know how you’re doing with your goal. Share your victories and struggles. Encourage others. The key is support and camaraderie.
  3. There will be prizes just for stopping by and letting everyone know how you’re doing and for encouraging others!

All the details are here on Denise’s blog. It’s where you comment to opt in (it doesn’t matter if you happen to be a little late in doing so). It’s where you’ll find the list and links for subsequent daily check ins. It’s where you’ll see the ever-growing list of wonderful prizes being offered just for taking part.

By signing up and announcing my commitment like this I’ve created extra motivation for myself. I’ve added reinforcement to my determination. My goals for March are:

  1. Complete the revision on my latest novel, SHOWDOWN… all 89,500 words of it.
  2. Read and review one book recently received for that purpose.

That’s it. Doesn’t sound too daunting, does it? That’s just because you’re sitting out there laughing! Why not figure out a realistic goal for yourself and join in the March Madness Challenge with me? I’d love some friendly company. Or even some not so friendly company if it helps prod me forward. How about it?

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