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Logline Contest Winner!

Thank you to all who entered the Logline Contest! My fabulous agent, Michelle Humphrey, can only offer one 10-page critique, but my judges (aka my critique partners) had such a job deciding, and I did want to note some of their other choices as honorable mentions.

But first...meet my Made-of-Awesome Judges...

Shana Silver is my long-time critique partner, in fact, one of my first steady critique partners. We have been working together for around seven years and she is brilliant at finding the hook in my work (or letting me know when I don't have one!) You can find her online at http://www.shana-silver.com

Elle Strauss is my long-time friend first, and a more recent critique partner. Elle was writing books before I had ever considered becoming a writer and writes a wide variety of fiction--everything from historical to chick-lit to contemporary with fantasy elements. You can find her online at http://ellestraussbooks.blogspot.com

Caroline Starr Rose is a recent critique partner and friend. She and I share the same agent, and have gotten to know each other pretty well in the last year. Her first novel in verse, MAY B, is coming from Tricycle Press in September, 2011. You can find her online at http://carolinebyline.blogspot.com

Now...in no particular order, here are some of the loglines they chose as their favorites!

Honorable Mentions:

Garden Gnome
When garden gnome look-alike aliens declare war on Earth for turning their kind into stone for yard decorations, a geeky 11-year-old and his thumb-sucking sister must clear up the galaxy-sized misunderstanding before their home is destroyed. – daybydaywriter

Tessa denies the first letter. She rationalizes the second. When the accidents begin, there’s no more ignoring the ghosts in the theatre next door. – Marcy Kate

LURE (or Death by Reading)
Reading’s really not Mitch’s thing, but when everyone in his small town becomes so obsessed with a book that they’re literally reading themselves to death, he must figure out what’s going on with LURE before he loses everyone he loves. - lchardesty

WHAT A BOY WANTS - YA-Contemp romance
Sebastian’s always thought he knew what girls wanted. After all, he’s the school’s best kept secret—The Hook-up Artist. Too bad his undercover matchmaking skills didn’t prepare him for his biggest challenge—falling in love. - Kelley Vitollo

Julia’s Secrets
Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of. In order to save her best friend’s life, she’s going to have to face her past, but some memories are better left buried. – merbear95695

Faeries on eBay
When wings of a murdered faerie fetch big bucks on eBay, a teenage girl realizes her kind aren't only being oppressed--they're being hunted.

Channeling Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Trena loves to tune out the world and play the guitar, but when she begins to channel dead rocker Stevie Ray Vaughan after a freak electrical shock, she finds she must choose between playing in obscurity and facing and facing the bright lights to stand up for what she knows is right. - Anonymous

MERCY - YA magical realism
A girl who can rewind time struggles to define herself after the loss of her twin sister. What good is magic if it can’t bring back the dead? – Jess Tudor

Death by ballroom dancing would be an embarrassing way to go, but sixteen-year-old Sydney Ames is desperate for a chance to feel normal after an undiagnosed heart condition nearly took her life, and what her new friends don’t know won’t hurt them--right? - Liz Czukas

Hooray for all of our honorable mentions! They all sound so unique and interesting!

And our winning entry, winner of the 10-page critique, is...

SPECIAL FORCES - Middle Grade Contemporary
Separated by the war in Afghanistan, 13-year-old Jake and his dad engage in parallel missions from opposite ends of the globe. They share one common enemy – time. - Julie Musil

Congratulations Julie! If you email me at d (at) denisejaden (dot) com, I will direct you how to submit your ten pages to Michelle Humphrey. 

Congratulations to all of those who entered for getting an entire novel pared down to one or two lines! That in itself is a huge accomplishment. M & M's for everyone!!!


Conference packing list

Since the class of 2k10's theme centers around traveling, and since I'm leaving late tonight to join the Smart Chicks Kick It tour (in Cincinnati and Brampton (Toronto area)), I thought I'd share some practical advice about What to Bring to a conference or booksigning.

After years of forgetting vital items (like my cell phone charger, or my favorite signing pens, or, you know, socks), I finally decided to make a list. Something I could print out, carry with me as I roamed--unfocused, bewildered, and often slightly panicky--from bedroom to family room to bathroom, collecting stuff to bring.

Many items are obvious (I don't have to tell you to pack an extra pair of underwear).  But here are a few things you  might not have thought of:

Badge holder - Some conventions will provide you with a spiffy vinyl badge holder that includes pockets for your pens, business cards, and bookmarks.  Some will even hold a cell phone!  When you get home, keep these and slip your badge into them at your next convention.

Bookmark holder - These are great for keeping your bookmarks neatly displayed, whether on your signing table or at a "freebie" station, rather than in a pile that someone (usually me) can knock over in a moment of extreme enthusiasm. 

They're not called "bookmark holders," of course (though wouldn't it be great if office supply stores had a "For Authors" section?) Improvise with business card holders, envelope racks, etc.

Extra copies of your books - Maybe you'll sell out, or maybe the shipment won't arrive in time for the signing. The last thing you want is to be with no books to sell.  Some bookstores will buy your books from you on commission (at a discount, of course).  This way, readers will have your books and go home happy, which is what it's all about.

Bookplates - In the event the books still run out, you can sign adhesive bookplates to give to customers (or the bookstore for when they place a reorder). So when the books do end up in their hands, they can have the next best thing to a signed copy.

Prepaid USPS Flat Rate Priority boxes to ship books home in
- This one goes for readers, too!  The Post Office will let you fill up their Flat Rate boxes with as much as you can fit and ship it at one low rate regardless of weight, to anywhere in the US.  You can buy the postage ahead of time and slip the flattened box in your suitcase. Then after you buy/collect all those wonderful books, simply assemble the box, affix the postage, address the box to yourself, and drop it off at your hotel front desk for mailing.

If you make up your own packing list, one Very Large Hint: Do NOT check off an item just because you intend to pack it.  Check it off when it's in the bag. (Says the girl who forgot her toothbrush twice in a row.)

So what special items can't you do without when you travel?  Have you ever arrived at a booksigning or conference and thought, "Aww, I wish I'd brought X!"

Happy Trails, and Happy Reading (and writing)!

An inside look at a new publishing house.

Many MG and YA authors, as well as readers, have shown an interest in the new YA publishing company, Leap Books (www.Leapbks.com). Because Leap Books is the publisher for three members of the class of 2k10, Bonnie J. Doerr, one of those lucky authors (along with Judith Graves and Kitty Keswick), was able to snag an interview with a representative of the house. Not an easy thing to do when everyone on staff is stretched so thin. We really appreciate Cathleen Cartwright, Public Relations Assistant, carving some time out to answer a few questions for our readers.

 Bonnie: In a down economy, when so many large houses are cutting back on staff and new releases, can you tell us why Leap Books was willing to open a new publishing house?

 Cathleen: It may seem risky, but in January 2010, Leap Books took a leap of faith. We opened during the economic downturn because we believe in the authors we’ve contracted. Some of the most vibrant publishing houses today began during the depression, and, as they discovered, there’s only one way to go and that’s up.

 Bonnie: How does Leap Books plan to respond to the changing face of publishing? For a small publisher, is it easier or more difficult to respond to a changing market?

 Cathleen: In many ways it’s easier for us to change directions. Larger houses have a bureaucracy and large staffs, so making major changes can be formidable. With a smaller staff and fewer department heads, we can make decisions quickly and set about implementing them almost immediately. We try to stay abreast of publishing changes and plan accordingly for the future.

  Bonnie: What differentiates Leap Books selection process from other publishers?

 Cathleen: Our selection process is rather unusual. We have two panels who read and approve each submission. The adult panel consists of booksellers, teachers, and librarians, who all must agree that the book is marketable. But our most important panel is composed of teens. Unless a book gets a unanimous thumbs-up from everyone on the teen panel, it doesn't get contracted.

 Bonnie: How would readers recognize Leap Book's list from other houses?

 Cathleen: One of Leap’s signatures is the interior art. We think YA titles should be visually exciting as well as fun to read, so we’ve selected some great artists to enhance each title. Check out the gothic artwork of Val Cox (www.valcox.ca/), who has done several of our paranormal titles, and the award-winning art of Mary Kelly (http://marykellystudio.homestead.com/portfolio.html), who is illustrating our next release, For the Love of Strangers, by Jacqueline Horsfall. We hope don’t just want teens to read a Leap Book, we want them to have an adventure in one.

 Bonnie: Why did Leap Books open its doors with only YA titles? And why divide its releases into two imprints?

 Cathleen: Leap is only publishing YA at this time. We’re committed to the teen market and believe teens literature is some of the best work being published these days. As for the imprints, we think teen readers are naturally divided into two main age groups: Frolic is for tweens (ages 10-14) and Surge for teens (ages 14-19). And, yes, we do consider preteens part of our audience. Most readers prefer to read about protagonists a few years older than themselves, so tweens will be reading our younger YA, and we keep that in mind when we decide what imprint will take on the books.

 Bonnie: What advantages (and disadvantages if you're brave enough to identify any) are there for authors to be published with a small publisher?

  Cathleen: The advantages of publishing of a small press often offset the difficulties (although I may be prejudiced). Small presses are able to allow more input during the production process, so writers may end up with a book that closely matches their dreams—cover and layout suggestions as well as marketing opportunities and ideas from the author are all seriously considered at Leap Books. In larger houses most authors have no say on their cover, and marketing funds are often diverted to big name authors.

At a smaller publishing house, authors are not one of a huge crowd, so they are taken seriously. The house considers each author’s career to be more important than the book, so they take time to develop their authors and help them grow. Smaller houses may also take a chance on books that larger houses decline. In addition at smaller houses books do not go onto the backlist immediately, and they stay in print much longer. Many authors at big houses are surprised at how quickly their books end up out of print. That said, smaller houses do not always have the name recognition and ease of distribution that big houses have, so they have to work harder to establish themselves and to gain openings in unique and niche markets.

 Bonnie: What is Leap Book's submission policy?

 Cathleen: We only take manuscripts from agents or from authors one of our editors has met at a conference. If you’re interested in submitting to Leap Books, our Editor in Chief, Kat O’Shea, is doing a workshop at Savvy Authors (http://www.savvyauthors.com/event.cfm?EventID=478) in October 2010. She’ll also be appearing at the Muse Conference in October. If you attend either event, you’ll have the opportunity to submit a manuscript to her afterward.

 We appreciate Cathleen sharing her insights on this exciting new publisher with us. Did you notice her response to the YA question? They're only publishing YA at this time. Hmmm. I think there's reason to stay tuned!

Today I’m interviewing Anna Herrrington, my editor at Blooming Tree Press.

What was it about Fairview Felines: A Newspaper Mystery that drew you to the manuscript?

My favorite thing about Fairview Felines is what drew me to the manuscript! It reminded me of some of my favorite books growing up. I loved reading mystery novels as a kid, and this one had fantastic characters that you really got to watch grow throughout the course of the novel. It is also just a really fun book to read! There's something about a school newspaper, an allergic cousin, and an old lady wearing rain boots that makes me want to find out what's going on in Fairview.

Do you have a weakness for a certain type of story/character?

I have a serious weakness for mystery novels. Like I mentioned before, I grew up reading them. I had aspirations of being an amateur detective with a cute, ridiculously-named boyfriend like Nancy Drew. There's a soft spot in my heart for a well-written mystery novel.

I’m also really drawn to supporting characters. I think they are typically what make books funny and charming. If your supporting characters are good, chances are your protagonist will be too. That not only makes them a joy to read, but my job as an editor much easier too.

What you do love about working at a smaller publisher like Blooming Tree Press, as opposed to some of the bigger houses?

3. I love working at a small press! I feel so much more involved in the entire process of actually watching a book come to life. I think that my relationship with my authors is much closer, because I am able to give each author individual attention due to the smaller volume of books we publish versus a large press. I also really enjoy the community at Blooming Tree Press. I know everyone who works there, and it's like working with family. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Last Day For Class of 2k11 Membership!

Today (Wednesday) is the last day the Class of 2k11 is accepting new member applications.  You can email Amy Holder at amyholderbooks(at)yahoo(dot)com if you're interested in joining.  (As long as they contact her and express interest by the 15th, there will be a little extra leniency on completing and returning the application).

I can't stress what an AWESOME experience being part of The Class of 2k10 has been for me. If you're a 2011 debut author, I really hope you'll consider talking to Amy.

And all the very best to Class of 2k11 as they get ready to launch for their year!

I'm *thrilled* to welcome my fabulous editor onto the blog today. Anica Mrose Rissi is Executive Editor at Simon Pulse, a teen imprint of Simon & Schuster, and I'm still pinching myself that I've found myself in her company on this publishing journey. She's answered a few questions that I wanted to share with you here today, as one of the last stops on my blog tour...

DJ - What first drew you to the manuscript of LOSING FAITH?

AMR - The opening scene! Brie is swiping the Jesus statue from her parents' mantel while plotting to give up her virginity that night. Who could stop reading there? I immediately loved Brie's humor and drive. As I kept reading, I got swept up in the emotions and mystery surrounding Faith's death, but my love for this novel started with my connection to Brie.

DJ – Do you have any general writing or grammar pet peeves?
AMR - Oh, tons of them. But I also believe that voice trumps grammatical accuracy, especially with first-person teen narrators. One of my pet peeves is manuscripts (or published novels!) where I'm constantly being told that the characters' eyes are sparkling, dancing, darkening, etc. Eyes are expressive, yes, but eye-action shorthand for emotions feels lazy and overused to me. This is my pet peeve of the week because I just read an adult novel filled with gratuitous mentions of the narrator's wife's blue eyes. Yes, we get it, you love your wife and her amazing eyes are the symbol of her zest for life, but you're making me hate them.

DJ– Is there any subject matter that you’ve been seeing too much of these days?
AMR - Nope. When the plot travels through already well-covered territory, the bar is even higher, but spectacular writing and real characters always capture my attention.

DJ – Is there any subject matter, genres, or themes that you see as up and coming?
AMR - I always advise writers against writing into trends, so I'm wary of this question. YA keeps growing and expanding, welcoming new talent, exploring new territory, and revitalizing perennial themes. Write the story you need to write, and if you do it well (really, really, really, really, really well), there will be a place for it.

DJ – LOSING FAITH is YA Contemporary. Where do you see the market going for this genre?
AMR - LOSING FAITH is dark but funny, voice-driven *and* plot-driven, relatable but unexpected, and straight-up fantastic. There will always be a place for identity novels in YA because being a teenager is all about figuring out who you are and what you believe. I'm especially drawn to the darker and edgier side of YA contemporary, but there's room for sweetness out there, too.

DJ - Thanks so much, Anica!
AMR - Thank you, Denise and Class of 2k10, for having me on the blog!

Sep. 9th, 2010

                                                                                              MICHELE CORRIEL

Today, we’re lucky enough to have an interview with our own Michele Corriel. Michele lives and works in the beautiful Gallatin Valley of Montana surrounded by seven mountain ranges with her rock-hound husband, her teenaged daughter, a completely insane golden retriever and two cats.

Michele's work is as varied as the life she's led, from the rock/art venues of New York City to the rural back roads of the Rockies. Published regionally and nationally, Michele has received a number of awards for her non-fiction as well as her poetry.

Her debut middle-grade novel, FAIRVIEW FELINES-A NEWSPAPER MYSTERY arrives on Sept. 14th from Blooming Tree Press/Tire Swing Press.

All the cats in Fairview disappeared and only Thomas Weston,
newspaperman extraordinaire (and eighth grader) can find them. All the
while, Thomas battles the never-ending hysterical headlines that pop up in
his head.

You can find a rather thrilling book trailer for FAIRVIEW FELINES on Michele’ webpage www.michelecorriel.com

Michele, your book sounds like a lot of fun. Would you describe it as a comedy?...a mystery?...a tween-age thriller? Who do you imagine reading it?

This book is fun! It’s also a mystery, although probably not a thriller, it’s very character driven. Once you get inside Thomas’ head, it’s kind of hard to leave.

You’ve published in magazines, and you also have a picture book, how was the road to publication for FAIRVIEW FELINES different?

Well, magazine work is very different – you get assignments and word counts – so it’s not fair to compare it. Also, you get paid a certain amount, no many copies of the magazines sell. With books, it’s all about the royalties. But we’re not really in it for the money, right?

My actual road to publication is a very long one, with lots of construction delays. I started this book years ago, let it sit, worked on it some more, got rejections, worked on it some more and finally met the publisher of Blooming Tree Press at an SCBWI conference. She was interested in the book, loved the premise and a year after I sent to her she called me saying she’d like to buy the book. That was two years ago. But it’s all good and the book just got better with every rewrite.

From New York to Montana seems like quite a culture shock. What brought you to Montana and do you ever miss New York?

I miss the food! When I first moved to Montana I used to go back to New York and bring home boxes of groceries. Since then I’ve become a gourmet cook and thank the internet every day. I also miss my friends and family and the museums, theater, art galleries, music … but Montana is beautiful. And it’s a great place to raise a family. What brought me here? My husband grew up here and he convinced me we would be happy living in a valley surrounded by seven mountain ranges. I have to say, it’s starting to grow on me.

Did life with your daughter inspire any part of FAIRVIEW FELINES?

I actually started Fairview Felines when she was in elementary school, I don’t think she’s really a part of this book. This all came from me and my love of newspapers. These characters showed up in my office one day and demanded a story, so I complied.
You’re a Regional Advisor for SCWBI. What does that entail?

Sometimes it’s a lot of work and I wonder why I ever agreed to take it on. But most days it’s rewarding, especially when I get to see a writer or illustrator get picked up by an agent or an editor that I’ve brought to Montana for a conference.

I know there was some delay in getting the cover for FAIRVIEW FELINES. What did you think of it when you finally saw it?

I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. It’s kind of funny, but you have a certain image in your mind while you’re writing the book, what a character looks like, things like that. The minute I saw the cover I recognized Thomas and wondered how the artist got it so right.

Do you have any events planned around the launch of the book? Anywhere our readers can spot you?

On October 2nd, I’m having a book launch party at The Country Bookshelf, in Bozeman, Montana, from 11 to 2 pm. I’ll be having giveaways, doing a reading, signing books and I’ll be bringing lots of cupcakes!

I’ll also be in Minneapolis for the Kidlitcon on October 23rd and at the Festival of the Book in Missoula, Montana, on October 28th and 29th; at the Bozeman Children’s Festival of the Book on November 6th and of course, at Amazon and Borders all over the place. If it’s not at your local bookstore, please ask them to order it for you!

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Michele. Best of luck with Fairview Felines!

Faith Day Gift Pack...

Remember this awesome gift pack that I promised to give away to help celebrate my release of Losing Faith?! Well, I have randomly chosen a winner...

And the Class of 2k10 Gift Pack goes to...


Congratulations, and thanks to everybody who helped spread a little faith and hope in the world! Brooked45: please email your address to d (at) denisejaden.com and I'll get these out in the mail to you as soon as possible!

Please read on to the bottom so you don’t miss the huge Class of 2k10 giveaway!

The Class of 2k10’s theme for the year has been Book Your Getaway. As my novel has a bit of a double-entendre with faith (the girl of that name and the spiritual, hopeful force of faith) I decided to approach the theme metaphorically, talking about journeys of hope and faith.

Like probably everyone in this world, I have traveled a road of hills and valleys concerning my future, my hope, my faith. When I was a teen, I put all my hope and effort into becoming an actress. (Or rather a superstar, as I saw it in my mind’s eye.) The problem? I loved being on stage, but I was kind of an awkward teenager who couldn’t sing a single note (at least an on-key one) and as hard as I tried, I could not hold a straight face during any onstage jokes.

This got me down at first. But then I decided to do what many young people are so good at (and we seem to forget how to do as we mature). I ignored the negative evidence that said I’d never be a superstar, decided to continue to think of myself as invincible, and looked for every opportunity that would take me in the right direction.

No, I never ended up on Friends, playing opposite Jennifer Aniston. But I did end up becoming a professional Polynesian dancer and a fitness competitor. And after all was said and done, I’ve found that this is enough stage-time for me.

Since then, I have hoped for and tried my hand at many things, including writing. It has not always gone as planned. I remember times when critique partners and writing friends were winning awards, getting agents, selling books, while my rejection pile was starting to dust the ceiling. Again, I (eventually) found it in myself to have hope regardless of the way things looked. Having “faith,” after all, is having the ability to hope for something you can’t yet see the evidence of. It’s not really faith, if all indications are good.

I think of these journeys of faith like a lake full of stepping stones, and I have to get across the lake only being able to see the one next stone in front of me (and sometimes not even that!) I have to reach my foot forward and hope for support, even if looks like there isn’t anything there to hold me.

The point, I think, is that we don’t just lie down on the stone we’re on and go to sleep, assuming this is as far as we can ever get. The point is to always be moving forward toward another shoreline, whether we really believe we can make it all the way across or not.

I promised a great giveaway to go along with my launch day celebration. You’re going to love this – I’ve been gradually adding to my collection of Class of 2k10 books, and when I was in New York City, I was fortunate enough to come up with a few extras (Thank you for the help on that, Shana Silver!)

I have FOUR Class of 2k10 books and lots of additional Class of 2k10 swag to go to one lucky winner! (You’ll notice that there are not any copies of Losing Faith here, as you’ll have to follow along my blog tour  at http://www.denisejaden.com to find those gems on my friends’ blogs along the way).

Books include:

Under My Skin by Judith Graves

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtman

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Faithful by Janet S. Fox

Plus lots of swag!

Here’s what you’ll have to do to enter to win this fabulous prize pack:
Post your faith-filled or hopeful message on Twitter (or here if you don’t use Twitter). Use the hashtag #losingfaithbook2k10 so I can track your entries. Give yourself the message you’d want to hear if you were losing faith along your way. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Just a word of encouragement.

Here’s mine: Even small steps will get you there eventually.

Okay, and one more: Ignore the negative evidence and hope anyway!

Now it’s your turn! Enter as many times as you like before midnight (PST). Good luck, and keep the faith!

Note: prize pack can only be mailed within the U.S. or Canada to someone 13 or older.

Our August Giveaway

And the lucky winner of our fabulous August Giveaway is ....ta da!!! Mariah-readingadventure.blogspot.com Congratulations Mariah! Just email me at rhondahayter1@sbcglobal.com with the address where I can send your package.