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Monday, March 31, 2014

My Writing Process

I was tagged by the incredible Ilima K Todd, author of the REMAKE series coming out this fall from Shadow Mountain. You can check out her post here.

What am I working on?

Growing baby number five! Release date: September 20th, 2014 

Yes, folks, this is an announcement--and the reason I'm so absent online right now. 
I am thankfully into my second trimester, so I hope to be writing and maybe even blogging again soon. We'll see.

If I wasn't in preggo H-E-double hockey sticks, I'd be:

*Revising my first draft of VOICES, my 2013 NaNo project, so I can get it out to first readers

*Rewriting (for the millionth time) GUTTER GIRL based on latest beta reads.

*Researching for my super secret project

*Playing with the voice of  twelve-year-old Ruby, from LIFE IS A TONGUE TWISTER

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

All of my books, whether YA or MG have contemporary settings and tons of humor. About half of my books are in the magical realism genre. All my (YA) MC's are athletes. Sports is a huge part of my life, so it's no surprise that it trickles over to my stories. Another way I differ? Don't expect lots of kissing. I'm much more likely to write an awkward scene with an almost kiss, burp, instead of a make-out session. Again, probably because that was my HS life. Plenty of yearning, but enough awkward nervousness to keep me from getting much action. 

Why do I write what I do?

Because I have so much fun answering the question "what if." What if a girl could smell real love? What if a girl started hearing voices when she kissed boys? What if an introverted, stuttering twelve-year-old lost the protection of her mother and had to start speaking for herself? 

How does my writing process work?

One of those "what if" questions knocks me over and doesn't go away. I'm a pantser, so depending on where I am in other projects, sometimes I just jump in and try her out for a test drive--1 or 2K and see if I like what I'm creating. Sometimes, like with VOICES, the story percolates on the back burner for a year and I know more than the beginning and the ending point. These draft up faster and still give me plenty of discovery/surprises along the way. 

Unfortunately I'm an extremely messy first drafter. I word vomit all over the place and have to do a ton of clean up and sometimes complete rewrites before my stories are ready for any eyes. Then it goes out to one or two readers and based on their feedback I revise. That means I do a decent amount of rewriting, flush out parts that need more attention, combine secondary characters, and change my many characters names starting with the letter M. Once the MS goes through enough revisions and betas to be as good as I can get it, I send it to my agent. She sends me feedback and I revise like crazy all over again. 

I'm tagging the lovely Katy White. You can find her post next Monday and learn about her writing process.

Best of luck to everyone doing the A to Z challenge starting tomorrow. I'm using the month as an excuse to not blog, except for my review and giveaway of THE EIGHTH DAY by Dianne K. Salerni (spoiler: it's brilliant and I LOVE the "what if" that inspired the book.)

Monday, March 10, 2014

How do you like my new look?

As a prize for a contest on David P. King's blog, Darren Hansen redesigned my blog. Didn't he do an incredible job? I love the interactive header with it's moving bits and the classic look.

From Darren: By day I'm  a website designer and by night I like to write science fiction and fantasy. I have a special place in my heart for writers and would be happy to help with quick questions about blog design for free.
As for rates on professional work, I would charge about $200 for a professional interactive header like the one I made for you. Non-interactive headers would be much less, like $50. It really depends on the project, but those are good ballpark figures.

His website is found at
You can contact him at
Darren is also the creator of Ink Pageant where writers can share their blog posts with each other and lift each other. Check it out here.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to stare at my header some more (and get to work on final edits for my Publication Primer submission for LDStorymakers due today.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jolene Perry, THE SUMMER I FOUND YOU, & Research

This beauty released into the world yesterday. Not only is it my favorite cover of 2014, but on of my favorite 2014 reads as well. I was able to get an ARC through NetGalley. You can see my gushing review here. Since reading THE SUMMER I FOUND YOU, I've become a read-everything-Jolene-writes person. She was kind enough to come of the blog for her release week.

Take it away, Jolene:


When I started out writing The Summer I Found You, it was titled Used To Be - a pretty weak title, but it was my jumping off point.

Who did my characters used to be, who were they during the story, and who were they at the end of the story. All very, VERY, different people.

The idea of writing a returned soldier was intriguing, so the book really began with Aidan, but I needed someone who would understand him... And I found Kate.

Suddenly my sweet love story had turned into a mess of ideas involving a one-armed veteran and a girl with diabetes.

I have two arms.
I do not have diabetes.

I needed to research.
I know a LOT of people who went overseas in the military including cousins, my husband, high school friends, and kids I used to babysit. I wasn't starting from scratch--even though it felt like it a lot of the time.
One of my good high school friends learned she was diabetic after passing out in an assembly - that was my beginning point for Kate. I also used a writer friend of mine with diabetes, and she was SO SO helpful. 

But knowing a few people doesn't make enough research for a book.

I learned SO much more than one would ever guess after reading The Summer I Found You, and that's a good thing. Probably 95% of what I read didn't end up in the book in any way that a person would recognize. I think this is a good thing.

I spent hours on The Wounded Warrior Project. Found programs soldiers used. Read story after story after story of men and women who came home from war with missing limbs. What programs were out there to help them. Blogs of soldiers talking about what it was like to come home. Listened to my husband again on what it felt like to be home again. How he felt disjointed, out of place...

And Kate. that stubborn, stubborn girl. I knew how she would react to diabetes long before I learned anything about the disease. But I pretended I'd just been diagnosed when I researched. I poured over websites - American Diabetes Association. The Mayo Clinic. Support groups for family members and for people with new diagnosis.

For a while I woke up every morning glad I wasn't giving myself insulin shots. Glad I had both arms. That my husband came home safe.

But after all that research - my characters still did what they wanted to do - it's that I had enough information to put them in positions that were true to their situations.

Never. Ever. Underestimate the power of learning about the world you're placing your people into. It gave me ideas for plot points, which added tension, which increased Kate's understanding of Aidan, and his understanding of her, and things much bigger than both of them.

But - I'm a learner and a teacher at heart. Always will be. Hopefully as other people write, they'll find excitement and a new appreciation for their life as they research. And I know that when I read fiction dealing with things I don't understand well, it's a really, really fun way to learn...

Do you enjoy novels about situations outside of things you understand?
Just curious.
And if yes, I'd LOVE to hear what you all have been reading - especially if it gained you some greater appreciation of what you have.

Thanks so much for turning over your blog to me!!!

~ Jolene