Friday, December 24, 2010

Five on Friday- Christmas Eve

1. It's almost Christmas Day. I'd ask myself how that happens but it's kind of obvious.  Days+Nights=Time passage.

2.  Our house will be full tomorrow and that's a good thing. Gather your family and friends and  hug them hard.  The cleaning is all worth it. 

3.  I love the holidays, I do, but I am also kind of excited about them being over so I can get to work on All That Jaz. Plus I want to empty the house of all the treats that I can't stop eating.  I am the Scrooge.

4. My page proofs for I'm Not Her are almost done. Now I just have to figure out how to transfer them to the PDF files.

5.  See how I go back to the writing even when I'm trying to think Christmas thoughts. Enough of all of that!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

I've seen other people posting truths on Tuesday, so thought I would copy them follow along and join in.  Okay. Here goes...

1. I can't stop eating the Christmas Bark that I made for "the family". It is a yummy conncoction made of milk chocolate, white chocolate and crushed candy canes.  I am trying to convince myself it has no calories because it is Christmas.

2. I really hate talking on the phone. I'd rather email someone than call them. It is a sickness.

3. I wish that I'd been born with the cleanliness/organized gene. But I have not been.  I need advance warning for visitors.

4.  I do not carry a purse. I put all my necessary ID and plastic cards in my coat pocket and hope for the best. I replace my bank card at least 3 times a year.

5. The other day our dog went outside and ate snow because she had no water in her dish.

6. I love top forty music. I play it really loudly in my car. I sing.

7.  Sometimes I like to go to movies by myself. To escape from the world.

8. The fact that some of these confessions make me sound like an unsociable creepy person kind of worries me. But not that much.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sisters Saturday with Cheryl Renee Herbsman

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to go the the national SCWBI conference in LA and lucky enough to meet Cheryl Renee Herbsman. She's gorgeous in person, both in spirit and well, just to look at. 

I loved her debut BREATHING. It's a lush romantic tale that takes you away on a magical journey! If you  haven't read it yet, you must add it to your list!

 So, Cheryl. Where do you fit into the birth order in your family?

Cheryl:  I'm the middle of five kids, but the oldest girl. My sister comes after me in the order. We have two older brothers and one younger brother.

Wow. I didn't know you had so many siblings. And to be in the middle. Hmm. What is it they say about the middle child?? Hee hee. I tease. So, what is the age difference between you and your sister?

Cheryl:  We are three and a half years apart.

That's about the same as me and my sister. A lot when you're kids, but nothing when you're adults, right? So what is the best part about having your sister?

Cheryl: When we were kids it was always having a willing playmate. Now it's the love and understanding we have for each other, the acceptance that we're very different from each other and that's okay.

I totally get that. It's amazing how different we can be from our sisters, but we still share the most basic understandings of each other because of shared experiences and well, growing up together! What's the most challenging thing about being sisters?

Cheryl:  I can't really think of any challenges we face now. When we were younger I think the fact that we were so different from each other was challenging, made it harder for us to relate to each other. But now I think we value each other's differences and enjoy them.

Nice. Sounds like you and your sister have evolved your relationship to a great example of sisterhood. What are your roles in the family?

Cheryl: I was the serious, sensitive, rule follower. She was always the outrageous free spirit.

Cool. I mean the free spirit part. I admire that quality so much in other people. Daring to take on the world! What is your fave childhood memory of your sister?

Cheryl: When we were young, playing imaginary games, she was always open to all kinds of ideas, never judged them. It created an environment for play in which I felt free to dream up all sorts of craziness :)

Does your sister know secrets about you? Can you share one? How about one of her secrets?

Cheryl: Dude, what kind of sister would I be if I shared her secrets!

An excellent one! We need some gossip on this blog. Darn sisters who won't sell each other out. ;) Okay, next question, what is something you never tell your sister, but you should?

Cheryl:  That I admire her.

Awww. That's sweet. I feel the same way about my sister. She's pretty amazing at people stuff. Okay, last question, how does your sister feel about having an “author sister?”

Cheryl:  I think she thinks it's pretty cool, but it doesn't really change anything.

No. It really doesn't. But I think it's kind of a cool thing to share with the world, don't you?? 
Savannah would be happy to spend the summer in her coastal Carolina town working at the library and lying in a hammock reading her beloved romance novels. But then she meets Jackson. Once they lock eyes, she’s convinced he’s the one—her true love, her soul mate, a boy different from all the rest. And at first it looks like Savannah is right. Jackson abides by her mama’s strict rules, and stays by her side during a hospitalization for severe asthma, which Savannah becomes convinced is only improving because Jackson is there. But when he’s called away to help his family—and seems uncertain about returning—Savannah has to learn to breathe on her own, both literally and figuratively.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Page Proofs


Page proofs are in. This is my last look at and chance to proofread I'm Not Her before ARC's come out!

Going in.

Back to real life soon!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Secret And Not So Secret Stuff

You know how sometimes writer's have an inability to write and it's called writer's block? Well I kind of have that, only it's blogger block. But wait --there is a reason.

The brain works in strange ways and my brain is wired to be weird.  It's an occupational hazard.  Here's what is happening to cause my block. The Weight of Bones is getting a new name and a new cover!

I tried to hold out saying anything until I got the new cover, I really did but. I. Can't. Do. It. Anymore.
I wanted to wait until the cover and title on Goodreads and other places got switched, but I am weak.

And so...the new name of Weight of Bones is....(insert major drumroll here please)...  I'M NOT HER. And  I LOVE this new name for the book and I can't WAIT to see the new cover. But well. I'm waiting.  And did I ever mention my patience problem??

So I  have the new title, but the new cover isn't done yet. And while I've been waiting, I've been....well. Unable to write. Or blog. Because my silly brain, when it goes into wait mode, well, it won't work properly. . And now I have blabbed. New name, new name, new name!!!! And I hope it chases away that blocked blogging thing!

Stay tuned for the new cover reveal. In the meantime....I'm imagining what it might look like (and really have no idea) and hoping the team at Sourcebooks does as amazing a job with I'M NOT HER and they did with Weight of Bones!!

And while yes, I did love the title, Weight of Bones and I wanted to marry my cover, the truth is my publisher thought they didn't properly convey the tone of the book. And publishers are usually right about things like that.  :)  And so my book will go out into the world called, I'M NOT HER.  And I think it does convey the tone of the book. An emotional story about two sisters discovering who THEY are. Not who the world wants them to be. 

There will be lots to be done once the name and cover are officially revealed. Goodreads! ARC tours to schedule! Nails to chew! Blog tours! Bookmarks! Book Trailer!

And Blogging!

I hope to be back to it soon!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Insert Moans and Groans Here

Ugh. Like everyone else in the world, I hate getting sick. But I am deep in the mode and thus the neglectful blog writing. I shall return to my regular life and update Thinking on Thursday and Sisters Saturday this week.

You may return to your life and I shall join you soon!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday and Breathing on Sisters Saturday!

Happy Black Friday to my American friends. Nothing says happy like a good deal, so I must admit to a little bit of jealousy of all the shopping going on across the border right now. Of course, the line-ups I can do without!

Tune in for Sisters Saturday this week with Cheryl Renee Herbsman, author of one of my fave books in 2009, Breathing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sisters Saturday on um Monday. Sydney Salter on being Sisterless-ish

(My entire weekend was spent in another city at a swimming pool (no lie) so Sisters Saturday is running a little late. But trust-- this blog is worth the wait!)

I have with me guest blogger, the wonderful author, Sydney Salter. Sydney has already released two YA novels,  MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS and SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK and  a middle grade novel, JUNGLE CROSSING.

SYDNEY:   Growing up, I liked not having a sister. No one pillaged my closet. I didn’t have to worry about guys liking my sister better. Or endure crazy sister fights—like the twins I knew who crashed their car while arguing on the way to school.

I had a little brother. He never wanted to wear my clothes, but I did steal several pairs of his perfectly faded 501 jeans (I just had to snatch them before they got grass stains). He didn’t want to play dolls, but we had hours of fun with legos and matchbox cars. As I got older, I did sometimes wish for an older brother with gorgeous friends… but I liked that my little brother put up with hours of analysis about my limited communication with various crushes.

In college I had sorority sisters: girls who borrowed my clothes without asking, coveted my boyfriend, spread rumors, acted bossy, and adored drama. More than ever I appreciated my nice little brother. When I got married, I even asked him to be my man of honor.

And then I had a daughter.

While she was enough for me, I knew that I wouldn’t be enough for her. I wanted her to have the opportunity to create matchbox car racecourses, build lego spaceships, and snag perfectly worn-in jeans from her little brother’s laundry.

I had another daughter.

Our lives turned pink and plush. Armies of Littlest Pet Shop figures roamed our floors. Barbie clothes regularly turned up in the laundry. We collected enough stuffed animals to open our own gift shop (I won’t ever admit how much money we’ve spent on Webkinz).

And I started to realize that I’ve missed out by not having a sister. My daughters share a close bond of secrets, inside jokes, shared dreams, and a strong girly friendship. Sometimes I feel left out, other times I resort to begging, “please tell me—I used to tell my mom everything. Just tell me. Pleeeze?” I do have good relationships with both my daughters, but I’ll never quite be part of their sisterly closeness. All those whispers, giggles, and eye rolls—well, often they’re directed at me. I love their relationship and do my best to nurture their friendship…

But now I really wish I had a sister, too.

Anyone want to borrow my new blue sweater?


Thanks, Sydney for a insightful look at being sisterless and happy and then having daughters and being converted! I agree that brothers do have a wonderful purpose too, but they aren't sisters. (And they won't wear your blue sweaters)

Now-- go out and read Sydney's books! You must! Not only is she prolific, she's as warm and delightful in person as her books are to read. Humorous and uplifting, Sydney's books are about self discovery and acceptance with a delicious amount of romance sprinkled in.

Vist Sydney at her website.
Sydney's Website

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Truth about Titles - Thinking on Thursday.

Coming up with a title for a book can be hard. Well. Sometimes. Other times a title falls into place. There may have been times (Weight of Bones cough, cough) when the title came before the book was even written. Other times I started with one title and changed it ten or so times before the book was finished. Yes. Another truth in publishing. Nothing is ever black and white. Or even the same from one book to another. For the same author.

I used to think I was really bad at titles when I first started writing books. And you  know, in the whole scheme of things, I was probably right. Then I made the mistake of thinking I was getting really good at titles. I was probably wrong. Very very wrong.

The thing for me is I have a hard time writing a book until I give it a title. Even though I know now that it will probably change. Maybe a few times. As a matter of a fact, in the end,  I might not even be the one to change it. But until I give it a name, it doesn't really feel like my baby. I guess I'm weird like that. I  named my son in utero, too. It wasn't the name he has today. Or was even intended to have. I called him Rusty because I KNEW he was going to have red hair (which he did and does). I didn't plan on calling him that when he was born, but while he was baking, that was his name. Too much information? I agree. And...moving on...

When thinking of a title, I try to think of something catchy and different.  Try is the key word. EZ LIKE SUNDAY MORNING was a title of a book I wrote under a pseudonym, because the boy main character's name was EZ.  Yeah. Surprisingly that one didn't stick. :)  It became Waiting To Score.

I've played around with character's names and changed a popular phrase for titles- All That Jaz is the working title of my second book that sold to Sourcebooks. I say working, because I KNOW that one won't stay stick

So what is a title of a published book INTENDED to do?? Well. My agent, Jill Corcoran wrote a great post on titles. So I won't rehash. You can read Jill's post here.

But for the writer a title is often a kind of personal connection to the book, which is probably why author's titles get changed so often! Because as writers we're so close to our books, since after all --we wrote them, and we may not see the same things that marketing people,  sales people, book sellers do when they read and ultimately try to market the book to the public. After all, the reader is the person we really want to really. But the truth is there probably isn't a secret ingredient or formula to the perfect title.

But EZ is a great name, I said to myself and EZ's dad sang that song to his mom all the time before he died. Great, Janet. But what did the name say about the book? Would it make a reader want to pick it up? Can they relate to the genre of the book when they hear it or see it in a store? Um. Maybe not. And it became Waiting To Score. 

And that's a pretty common thing. Titles change from acquisition to publication. I have lots of pre-published friends who worry and worry about titles (as published writers do as well) and I tell them it will probably change when it gets published and to try not to worry too much.  Which like many things, is easy to say and not so easy to do. Getting your title changed, doesn't mean that the title was bad. Maybe it just didn't do the job the publisher wants it to do. Maybe there's another book coming out with the same title around the same time. Etc.

And of course, like most things publishing, remember that black and white thing. Sometimes a title does stick from submission to publication. But it might be safe not to get too attached to your title. Because changes happen. And I should know. So far I've zero for two on picking my own titles.  Probably zero for three. ;)  Good thing I'm not playing baseball.

And so, in this post there just might be a hint that a change is coming for Weight of Bones.
I think it's going to be great. And soon, I'll let you know why.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SISTERS SATURDAY with wonderful Bethany Hegedus

This is one of my favorite people, someone I consider a good friend, even though we haven't met in person! She's a talented writer and wonderfully warm hearted, and I bet she's a great sister... Bethany Hegedus!!

Bethany signing a book for her sister!

Bethany Hegedus has spent time above and below the Mason-Dixon Line. She cares deeply about kids, having once been a high school teacher and also a youth advocate. She serves as a mentor in the PEN Prison Writing Program and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Bethany is Co-Editor of the Young Adult’s and Children’s section of the literary magazine, Hunger Mountain and is Austin Host of the popular website Her second novel, Truth, With a Capital T. (Delacorte/Random House) releases Oct. 12, 2010. Between Us Baxters (WestSide Books, 2009) is her first novel and forthcoming is the picture book Grandfather Gandhi, co-written with Arun Gandhi (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, TBA).

So Bethany, where do you fit into the birth order in your family?

BETHANY: I am the dreaded—yep, you guessed it—middle child. Middle children make for good writers. We tend to over-dramatize, whine about the angst of being the forgotten middle one, and make up good stories to entertain the younger sibling, which usually turn the older sibling into the bad guy monster—though we really envy their role as Head-Kid-In-Charge.

Middle child here. But I totally didn't envy the responsible role. :) Forgotten one I can relate to. I mean, there are NO pictures of me as a child. Not that I'm bitter. But I never let my mom forget it. Oops. There I go again. Me me me. Back to you. So what is the age difference between you and your sister?

BETHANY: My sister and I are nine years apart. Enough of an age difference that as kids we didn’t fight over the same toys or the same boys and that now as we get older feels like no age difference at all.

Yeah I get that. And btw- with nine years, that might have been creepy if you fought over the same boys. So, what do you think is the best part about having your sister?

BETHANY: My sister, Katie, is my greatest champion—and me hers. (Aside from her husband and kids, that is—that girl has a major cheering section.) I adore her with every bone in my body and we lead such very different lives—she with three wonderful kids and me—with the kids I create on the page. She is my exact opposite—dark hair and dark eyes—but is my heart’s other half. And, before I get too mushy and begin to cry while writing this (which when she reads this she will know I truly am tearing up), she also gives the best reality checks. I can hear her now, “Seriously, Bethany, I love you sis, but you sound like a Hallmark card.”

And she made you an Auntie. That is the world`s best job, and deserves some Hallmark card stuff. How about the other end of it. What is the most challenging thing about being sisters?

BETHANY: That we live states away from one another; she in the Atlanta area and me here in Austin. It makes it difficult to lean on each other for help and comfort with the daily life stuff: babysitting, borrowing milk, fashion advice. I am glad Katie has our sister-in-law, who lives in her area and that she sees often, to pitch in with the older sister role. Katie and I talk though, when my writing schedule allows and her mom schedule allows. I always know she is a phone call away.

Yeah. It`s tough when you live in different cities. But the thing with sisters is that they`re always there if you really need them right. Here`s a quote I like..

"Sisters function as safety nets in a chaotic world simply by being there for each other." ~Carol Saline

So what are your roles in the family?

BETHANY: I am the truth teller, unable to stop myself from talking about any elephant in the room. And, Katie, is the light of the family. She brings out everyone’s joy and when we are together at family functions—look out. We do our sister “shtick” and are the family’s comedians and clowns—but with high heels instead of big ugly rubber shoes.

That`s one thing I love about you, the way you say it like it is! I love that in people. I'd like to see you with your sister but I won't wear high heels with you. Hate them on my feet. But I do envy people who can pull them off. Now, can you share a favorite childhood memory of your sister?

BETHANY: Not from childhood, but whenever we get together and are in a car we can’t help but sing The Indigo Girls version of Romeo & Juliet and a thousand other songs, windows rolled down, hair do’s be-damned, as we drive down the highway.

Love! Except I don't know the Indigo Girls song, but do remember that you're a big fan. Must check them out. Nothing like singing loud in the car, even better with a partner. So. Does your sister know secrets about you? Can you share one? How about one of her secrets?

BETHANY: My sister knows me inside and out. She knows many a secret—but she would never share any. And, as lots of folks know, I am a not so great secret keeper—which may be why I have no dirt on my sister to share. (No, the real reason I have no dirt is because my sister is an open book. What you see is what you get—and the main thing people see is her kindness.)

Well. I bet your sister is nice and all but um. I suspect that's a diplomatic way of saying you won`t share a juicy secret. Isn`t it??? Okay. Enough of me wanting sister secrets. NOTE FROM JANET- I WILL be talking to sister's of authors, and maybe they will spill--Okay. Last quesion. What is something you never tell your sister, but you should?

BETHANY: That if I had a super power, it would be to blink my eyes and when I opened them—there she’d be or there I’d be—transported to a comfy couch in her home or mine.
Awwww. That is so sweet. I wish I was half as nice as you. My sister gets sarcasm and dumb jokes and I`d probably use my super power to wish for cold hard cash or invisibility or something self serving and you use yours to share your comfy couch with your sister. Now I feel kind of mean. But I do like the sounds of your sister and you!

Thank you so much for popping in to share yourself and your sister relationship!

Truth With A Capital T is an important Middle Grade book with lots of heart, like what Bethany shared with us today!
Lots of families have secrets. Little-Known Fact: My family has an antebellum house with a locked wing—and I’ve got a secret of my own.

I thought getting kicked out of the Gifted & Talented program—or not being “pegged,” as Mama said—­was the worst thing that could happen to me. W-r-o-n-g, wrong.

I arrived in Tweedle, Georgia, to spend the summer with Granny and Gramps, only to find no sign of them. When they finally showed up, Cousin Isaac was there too, with his trumpet in hand, and I found myself having to pretend to be thrilled about watching my musical family rehearse for the town's Anniversary Spectacular. It was h-a-r-d, hard. Meanwhile, I, Maebelle T.-for-No-Talent Earl, set out to win a blue ribbon with an old family recipe.

But what was harder and even more wrong than any of that was breaking into the locked wing of my grandparents’ house, trying to learn the Truth with a capital T about Josiah T. Eberlee, my long-gone-but-not-forgotten relation. To succeed, I couldn't be a solo act. I’d need my new friends, a basset hound named Cotton, the strength of my entire family, and a little help from a secret code.

With grace and humor and a heaping helping of little-known facts, Bethany Hegedus incorporates the passions of the North and the South and bridges the past and the present in this story about one summer in the life of a sassy Southern girl and her trumpet-playing adopted Northern cousin.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thinking on Thursday- On Wanting and Writing

I remember the taste of want lingering on my tongue and burning holes in my belly when I was unpublished as an author. After I wrote my first book, I joined a tiny little group called RWA, and heard about all the published members and was filled with a little bit of awe and a lot of envy.  I even got to meet real live published authors. Some that lived in the same city as I do. A Canadian city at that! I remember thinking that they belonged to a wonderful yet elusive secret club that I wanted to join so badly. But worried deep down I never, ever would. But the want kept me going. Writing. Learning. Persisting when I wanted to quit.  Patience has never been one of my virtues, but I had to learn it. Practice it. Tolerate it. Eat it.

Years later when I finally joined the ranks of the published there were some pretty amazing moments.  The call from my agent telling me I had an offer on my book. There may have been dancing. There may have been singing. My son may have looked at me with twinkling eyes and said, "Mommy, I've never seen you look this happy."   I felt so lucky and happy and then funny enough, life went on. I was still the same old me. Older actually. And yet the wanting did not stop.

Of course there was also much to learn about the publishing business. There was unexpected heart ache. Sometimes there were tears. There was the realization that nothing really had changed, despite the fact that everything had. And yet there were also more great moments. Receiving my ARCS. Getting good reviews. But I learned no book can please everyone. And sometimes that hurts. And of course, I learned that there will always, always be others with  more. Bigger houses. Better sales. More promotions. Amazing advances. And so the wanting continued. I broke up with an agent. And wanted a new one. When I got a new agent, I wanted a new book deal. And so. The want kept me going.

When I started writing this blog I wanted to write about how much I do remember being unpublished and how I thought that being published would change everything. And discovering that it changed many things, but it didn't change me. I don't feel like anyone is in awe of me. I don't WANT them to be in awe of me. I want them to know, I am just like them.

Sometimes I wonder if it is the want that keeps me going. Perhaps it would be better described as persistence. Drive. A stubborn refusal to give up.  Combined with a crazy uncontrollable need. To keep writing. To keep wanting.  To publish a new book. A better book. A bigger book. Books that I can be truly proud of. 

I don't necessarily want huge fame. I certainly didn't start writing to make a fortune. But I guess what I want is what I've always wanted from everything in life. I want to be proud, and oh no, here's a  JG truism. I want people to like me. It's my darn inferiority complex. I want people to tell me I've done a good job. And I've had to learn that when you publish a book, you have to accept criticism gracefully. And not take it personally.

I want to get keep getting better. Most of all, when I write. I want to tell the truth. I want the books I write to matter to someone.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Have you ever done anything kind of embarrassing. Something that makes it look like your brain is made of jello and it's been sitting in the sun all day? Well I HAVE.

And I did it again!!!!! I took C.  Lee McKenzie's interview and mixed it up with another author's answers and ended up giving C. Lee a whole new set of siblings she doesn't even have.  Can you see how red my face is from where you're sitting. Because it is.

My apologies to the still ultra gorgeous (inside and out) author of two Young Adult books from Westside Books, C. Lee McKenzie.

Now. Here`s the real interview with C. LEE about her real sister!

Sorry for being a dorky dork....So....where do you fit into the birth order in your family? What is the age difference between you and your sister?

C.LEE :  I'm the oldest, and my sister is nine years younger than I am, so I got to be Big Sister and do lots of Big Sister things to her. Actually, I don't think I treated too badly, and, when we were older, we even lived together for a while when she needed a place to stay while she found work. It was really nice because I was trying to finish my B.A. and I'd just returned from overseas in time to have a baby. Things were a bit confusing and she helped me a lot. We had fun.

Now that sounds like good sister bonding. What is the best part about having your sister?

C. LEE: I think the best part is that she has two great kids, my niece and and nephew. I really love them, and I really love that she's added some wonderful people to our family. Also she likes the outdoors like I do, so we've shared a lot of bike trips together and some hiking. We used to try a hike up some challenging mountain at least once a year for our birthday celebrations, but we've both been off doing other things so much that we haven't been able to hike together for a while.

That does sound like a sister I'd imagine you with! Climbing mountains together. How cool!So what is the most challenging thing about being sisters?

C.LEE :  I suppose it' s that we're so different and we do such different things that at times we can't communicate well. She's really into clinical trials at a major hospital and at this time is doing a lot of work on Hunter Syndrome, among other diseases that I've never heard of. I'm off in the YA/MG book world and know very little about health issues beyond the occasional headache I get from staring at a computer screen too long while I write.

Hee hee. Oops. But that was funny about the headaches.  I'm sure though when you really need to communicate about important personal stuff, the differences aren't as important. So. What are your roles in the family?

C. LEE:  I take care of Mom. That's a big role right now. My sister is really busy, so she has pretty much turned over that responsibility to me. But maybe that's not fair. I guess I took it on because I wanted to. I want my mother's final years to be as good as I can make them. I don't want to look back and wish I'd done more. I did the same for my dad and I've never regretted the time I spent with him.

I know in talking to you that you have been very very busy looking after your Mom. It's a big responsibility - oh how the roles they do reverse when we get older, right.  I guess you got that role for a reason. Your Mom and your sister are lucky to have you there for her!  So. What is your fave childhood memory of your sister?

C.LEE:  One Easter Sunday I snipped that little black elastic band on her Easter hat. Well, she wouldn't listen to her Big Sister and wear that stupid elastic under her hair like I told her. No. She insisted on putting it under her chin! How could I go to church with my sister looking like a dork? Dork was the teen word at the time for Geek. Man, did she scream! I thought it was funny, but nobody else saw the humor. I don't know if she even remembers. Guess I should ask.

Well. Compared to some of the things I've heard and seen, that's not so bad!!! I think she will forgive you! What is something you never tell your sister, but you should?

C. LEE:  Wow. That's hard. I've told her how proud I am of her accomplishments. She returned to college after several years as an office manager for a doctor and earned an MA at UC Berkeley. That was awesome. Then she worked her way into the hospital and a great career in something she really loves. I've told her how much I admire her for what she's done, but maybe I should do that more often. Maybe it's a case of more would be better.

Or, maybe she knows. Sometimes we don`t have to say it over and over, for it to be known, but how nice that you have such respect for her! How does your sister feel about having an "author sister?"

C. LEE:   She's probably wondering what in the world I'm thinking, but she doesn't say so. She's been supportive by coming to my first book launch and has given thoughtful book gifts that I've enjoyed and that have been helpful in this journey I'm on.

Yay for sister support! Well. Nine years is a pretty big difference when you`re young, but it sounds like you and your sister have worked out a great relationship that works for you.
C.Lee and her sister

Native Californian C. Lee McKenzie has always been a writer. But she's also been a university professor and administrator, and for five years, she wrote and published a newsletter for university professors. She's published articles on linguistics and intercultural communication, as well as on general magazine topics. Her fiction and nonfiction for young readers has been published in the award-winning e-zine, Stories for Children, and Crow Toes Quarterly has published her ghostly tales. Writing for teenagers keeps Lee in touch with young members of her family, and lets her revisit those wonderful teen years when everything is possible. When she isn't writing, Lee hikes in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Los Gatos, California.
Look for C.Lee's new YA  this winter, THE PRINCESS OF LAS PULGAS.
After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie thought things couldn't get worse. But now, she is forced to confront the fact that her family in dire financial straits. To stay afloat, her mom has had to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move Carlie and her younger brother Keith to the other side of the tracks to dreaded Las Pulgas, or "the fleas" in Spanish. They must now attend a tough urban high school instead of their former elite school, and on Carlie's first day of school, she runs afoul of edgy K.T., the Latina tattoo girl who's always ready for a fight, even on crutches. Carlie fends off the attention of Latino and African American teen boys, and one, a handsome seventeen-year-old named Juan, nicknames her Princess when he detects her aloof attitude towards her new classmates. What they don't know is that Carlie isn't really aloof; she's just in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. Mr. Smith, the revered English teacher who engages all his students, suggests she'll like her new classmates if she just gives them a chance; he cajoles her into taking over the role of Desdemona in the junior class production of Othello, opposite Juan, after K.T. gets sidelined. Keith, who becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, spray paints insults all over the gym as he acts out his anger over the family's situation and reduced circumstances. Even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search into the orchard next to their seedy garden apartment complex. They're met by a cowboy toting a rifle who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him amiably having coffee with their mom the next day -- when he's returned her cat -- she begins to realize that nothing is what it seems in Las Pulgas.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Movie Mondays-Things we can learn about writing YA through movies.

It's the year before college and James (Jesse Eisenberg) is forced to get a job after his dad gets demoted and can no longer pay for his Ivy League school.  The only place where he can get hired is Adventureland where he meets "Em" (Kristin Stewart) a cool carnie, working at the amusement park despite having a rich lawyer father. (the movie never really explains exactly why she's working there, but whatevs)

They begin a sweet romance, though James doesn't realize she's secretly involved with a sleazy "musician" (played with oozing squeeviness by Ryan Reynold) who also works at Adventureland as a mechanic. Rumors of him playing onstage with Lou Reed have all the younger teens in awe of him.

Though the characters in Adventureland were a little older than most YA characters it's definitely a fun coming of age story about figuring out who you are and what you want.

WHAT I LOVED/LEARNED- Character Development - Em's character is flawed and makes incredible mistakes in the movie, yet she is also completely sympathetic and we root for her as James's love interest despite what we know about her. It was so well done the way we are shown reasons for her behavior.  We are never bonked over the head with an explanation about why she does what she does, but we know enough to understand her because it is shown to us. And despite her bad choices, we like her.

James is also a really well developed character. The loveable nerd (a la Micheal Cera) who has many obstacles to overcome and makes mistakes of his own on the way, but is honest and good and it shines through and we cheer for him. He didn't have to be perfect, but he redeemed himself through his actions.

The squeevy musician is also shown by his actions. Again we are never told overtly about him, but discover as the movie progresses.

The secondary characters all have a story of their own. They don't overpower the main storyline, but adds to the charm of the story. Well done!!

WHAT WAS A LITTLE OFF- SETTING- The story is set in the 80's though to me, Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart didn't really fit into the setting as well as the other actors did. I thought it stuck out that all the other girls wore the jewellery, hair and loud colorful clothes of the 80's, but Kristin's hair was straight and she didn't seem "80-ized" to me.  As if she was too cool to be so 80's. (The same way Drew Barrymore stayed a little too current in The Wedding Singer, also set in the 80's)

RATING- It's a great, feel good movie! Funny! The music from the 80's rocked. The dialouge was spot on and the character development worth a second watch!

P.S. I developed an inappropriate old lady crush on Jess Eisenberg (my inner teen would love to have met such a great boy)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Courtney Summers Makes Me Laugh

Latest book blurb: Fall For Anything (December 21st, 2010/St. Martin's Press

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. He seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on… but some questions should be left unanswered

BIO: Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and word-processing program when she’s not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse.

Obviously, Courtney is joing me today for SISTERS SATURDAY. Yay!

So let's jump right in....where do you fit into the birth order in your family?
Courtney: I am the baby of the family.

Hmmm. Contemplating that... So..what is the age difference between you and your sister?
Courtney: 4 1/2 years.

Lots when you're little, not so much later. What's the best part about having your sister?
Courtney: I can always count on her to help me bury the bodies. I mean--wait, no, that's what I meant!

Yup that's what sisters do. What is the most challenging thing about being sisters?
Courtney: Pretending to like each other.

In public, or at Christmas dinner? Never mind-- I would love to be a fly on the wall at your Christmas dinners. I imagine you and your sister and your Mom dissecting Lady Gaga's wardrobe. Or her butt. So what are your roles in the family?
Courtney: She always tries to be the older sister and I always try to be the younger sister. ;)

Good plan. ;) but sometimes you have to reverse the roles. And trust me as a younger sister, it's kind of weird! Tell me about your fave childhood memory of your sister?

Courtney: It was Christmas Eve. I was a kid. My belief in Santa Claus was wavering. All of the adults were downstairs for our Christmas Eve dinner and my sister took me aside and told me that Santa had come way early and left us a sort of, pre-present in our stockings. I freaked! I checked my stocking and there was a lollipop inside! At first I suspected her... until she showed me the lollipop she'd found in HER stocking. That was proof enough. It made perfect sense that Santa made a pit-stop at our house just to give the two of candy. And thanks to my sister doing this, I continued to believe in Santa until well--just the last year.

Awww... that is much sweeter than burying bodies! Does your sister know secrets about you? Can you share one? How about one of her secrets?
Courntey: Yes and no. And no. Wait, here's one of her secrets: hot purple is NOT her natural hair colour. Don't tell her I told you, though.

What is something you never tell your sister, but you should?
Coutney: I'm lucky to have a very open relationship with her. And if we didn't, I think I'd have to tell her that something before I told the entire Internet or else she'd beat me up! :)

Well. I don't want that on my account. Seriously though. Thanks for stopping by. I LOVE your books. And your twitter posts almost as much! Your sister is a lucky gal!

Courtney and her sister

Thanks for stopping by for SISTERS SATURDAY!Check back next week when I talk to C.LEE MCKENZIE about her sister!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writing for Teens- Discussion

A while back I had the pleasure of chatting with a couple of other YA writers about Writing for Teens. And why we love it dammit and won't apologize or write "real" books someday!

We love Young Adult fiction!

So here's who was in on the chat:

Me- aka - The Old One
Shana Silver- The Newly Married One
Jennifer Hoffman- The Needs a New Computer for Chatting One (trouble getting on chat this time)
Chandler Craig- The Super Smart Lawyer One

Shana: Today we're discussing the advantages of writing for the YA market. So first question: do you ever feel like you have to defend writing for teens?

Janet: All the time. People often ask when I will write a "real" book.

Chandler: --as if your books were currently imaginary?

Janet: Haha, but I love to hand YA books to adults and convert them.

Shana: I actually never have to defend. I think it's because I still look and act like a teen. Though when I tell people I write YA, they are like, "Oh, that makes sense..."

Janet: You do look young. I don't have that advantage. When I'm hanging in the YA section, people are weirded out.

Shana: I know, but I also do get offended with that "Oh, that makes sense" comment. What do they mean by that? That's when I have to go into defense mode. Except lately, several of my adult friends have been reading YA without my having to bind and gag them and hold a book up to their eyes.

Janet: When people ask about why I write YA, I try to explain that there is so much freedom to explore topics. I love edgy realistic fiction and it's harder to do it well in the world of adults. It's more acceptable for teens to be going through changes be it with vampires or with real life issues

Chandler: Agreed, I think the thing is that the people who you are defending to aren't reading YA. I mean, we're in a bit of a teen fiction renaissance I think.

Shana: Or some of them are and they don't even know it. Like my friend told me about this book he read and loved, THE HUNGER GAMES, and asked if I'd heard of it. Ha!

Janet: I've had friends who apologize for reading Harry Potter or other YA books. And I'm all DUDE, I love YA. Don't apologize or hide behind fake covers

Shana: One thing I find interesting is that when I go to a YA reading in NYC is that there's almost zero teens in the audience. All adults. (Though most are probably in the industry.)

Janet: That's interesting. NY is the place for YA. (suppressing jealous feelings of Shana living in NY)

Chandler: Maybe most are in the industry, but you guys just mentioned your adult friends reading Hunger Games,Harry Potter, Twilight. All YA. So when we say we write for young adults, are we really even writing mostly for teens anymore?

Janet: But they apologize for it which makes me crazy. I think it depends on the genre of YA as well.

Shana: I don't think we are writing for adults. I think the audience for YA is growing and expanding to all ages.

Chandler: I certainly hope you are right about that, Shana. I mean, a lot of the appeal—at least for me—is writing for that age group.

Janet: But some adults seem to have "rules" about what can and cannot be written about, more so than the teens who are the first intended audience.

Chandler: Which subgenres do you think are crossing over well for the adult audience?

Janet: I think the fantasy/paranormal books that are breaking out are becoming more acceptable to adults.

Shana: And dystopian.

Chandler: That makes sense intuitively, I guess. Adults are probably less interested in the contemporary teen issues – the more traditional “issue” books, I mean. Whereas escapism is escapism.

Shana: But, back to the YA renaissance comment, I have some theories on why that is. For one thing, I wonder if the economy doesn't affect teens the same way it affects adults. Teens probably still have after school jobs and can freely spend their money

Janet: And I wonder, Shana, if adults still purchase a lot of teen books for their teens regardless of the economy.

Shana: Janet, I definitely think that's the case. It encourages them to read. Also, another reason why YA might be booming is because I bet word of mouth is easier to spread in high school versus the adult world.

Chandler: Yes! I agree, I've noticed even at law school it's easier for us to have time to read and talk about the same books.

Shana: And the fact that it's so much easier for teens to interact with their fave authors on blogs or twitter. Adults might not bother.

Janet: Interesting.

Chandler: True, this is the interactive generation. You see these Street Teams YA authors have going, which I swear I thought were gangs of some sort. Turns out they aren’t. I just learned they are groups of kids pumped about certain authors—much less ominous.

Shana: Also, people at work might have all different reading preferences whereas YA encompasses genres more generally.

Janet: There are a lot of writers and a lot of people from the publishing industry on the internet. I sometimes wonder if Joe Teenager actually sees it, though?

Shana: I think they do. After all, I think it’s teens that are more apt to, say, make a fan site for a fave author.

Jennifer: And expect to make contact with their favorite authors.

Janet: True, John Greene for instance has made a huge impact on teens on the internet. So accessible and rockstar-like. But just a person, too—who can write his socks off, of course.

Shana: Teens are also the ones camping out at the bookstores for midnight release parties. Aside from Twilight Saga and Harry Potter, are there any adult books that received such a huge turnout for a book release?

Chandler: I don't know, Shana, about the turn out. Maybe Dan Brown. Doubtful, though. Which sort of leads us back to why we'd write for YA in the first place --I just think the potential impact is greater.

Janet: The teen phase is so full of material: change, angst, worries, life decisions.

Shana: I think it's interesting that all genres are on one shelf in YA whereas in the adult world, they're split.

Chandler: yeah, and strangely, I'm ok with that

Janet: I agree Shana, in YA it's one big party. Teen fiction is so immediate and in your face.

Chandler: Maybe the one shelf area is actually lending to its success.

Shana: What about the shelf life of YA books? Do they last longer than adult ones?

Chandler: I have no clue.

Janet: Yes, from what I've heard, YA books tend to last longer and are given more of a chance on the shelf. Plus backlists do really well with loyal teen readers who do grow up, though...which is a whole other subject!

Chandler: Hadn't thought about the outgrowing issue, interesting.

Shana: I wonder how the rise of ebooks will affect YA? Do teens have e-readers like adults do?

Janet: E books is a whole other issue I think!!

Chandler: My age bracket does - early 20s, so I'd assume so? Any final statements?

Janet: My final thoughts: Writing for YA is awesome. Why? YA is interesting to read and write because there is so much raw honesty in teen years. And the material is endless!

Chandler: The end.

I love the way Chandler ends things. We had a timeline to stick to. She's firm and unapologetic. Law school student for sure. And a YA writer. Look out world.

Your thoughts on Young Adult fiction??

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Welome to the first installment of SISTERS SATURDAY! Where we celebrate and explore the wonderful and sometimes complex relationship between SISTERS. We'll talk to YA authors about their sisters and also look at some YA books about SISTERS! And what a great way to start it off with LOSING FAITH! And of course, the author, Denise Jaden!

So I know you don’t have a sister and that makes me a little sad for you. :) What made you want to write about sisters?

Denise: I’ve always wanted a sister, and been secretly jealous of my friends who have close relationships with their sisters. I do have a sister-in-law now, who has two sisters of her own, and I always find myself almost mesmerized by the intricacies of their relationships. There’s a lot to explore with sisters!

There definitely is. It's different than friendships because of shared history good and bad -lol. So, describe the sisters and their relationship in LOSING FAITH?

Denise: Brie is the younger sister and Faith is a year and a half older. They used to be close, but in the span of the book, they’ve grown apart. Faith has found her place among a religious youth group, while Brie feels a lot of resentment toward her because Brie can’t seem to find the place where she fits. There’s a lot of pent up anger and frustration between these two and lots of secrets to discover through the course of the novel.

You definitely got the nuances of sisters in Losing Faith. So tell us what Faith and Brie hated about each other?

Denise: Faith didn’t hate much about Brie. I think she was too distracted and busy to notice anything annoying about her younger sister.

As I mentioned above, Brie was the one with the chip on her shoulder. She felt like the black sheep of her religious family, and her bitterness leaked out in any area Faith seemed to be more the “good” daughter.

What did they love about each other?

Denise: They loved the memories they shared. They stuck up for each other and for most of their lives had been a bit of a team in the family. Brie also really loved Faith’s singing voice, though she’d be hard-pressed to admit that to anyone.

I don’t want you to have to give any spoilers-- but what is the most important lesson about sisters in LOSING FAITH?

Denise: There’s a deep inner-knowledge of the people you’ve grown up with, and nothing and no one can take that away.

What do you think you’ve missed by not having a sister?(besides access to another wardrobe ;)

Denise: Well, hey, another wardrobe is a biggie! But yes, I’ve always wished I had a sister. There’s just a bond I see between sisters that seems unlike any other relationship. I love that sisters know each other so well—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and love each other anyhow.

Well. You have wonderful friends and sisters in law, so that accounts for something, right! Plus, as an author you get to explore the world of sisters, as you did so well in LOSING FAITH.

Thanks so much Denise.

Make sure you check out Losing Faith. It's a great book about sisters, heartwrenching with an intriguing mystery to keep you guessing until the end.

Here's the official blurb.

When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don't know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.
As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith's final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

“Strong in its characterization…satisfying…a thoughtful read.”


Thursday, October 21, 2010


So this is a new blog. And it feels kind of lonely in here. Kind of like, Tess, the main character in Weight of Bones feels. Tess is sometimes a little lonely too though not as open to admitting it...

EVIDENCE--> the first line of Weight of Bones. Well, sort of the first line. (You'll see what 'sort of' means in Spring '11 when Weight of Bones hits the shelves.)

"No matter how much I don’t want to care, it’s not easy being stranded all alone in the middle of a crowded room, like the ugliest dog at the animal shelter."

Not that there's anything wrong with ugly dogs. Poor little Fluffy, I wonder if that's his name? I actually love dogs. Even this one. Except Pit Bulls. No offense to anyone who owns one, but they kind of freak me out.

Anyhow. I digress.

Follow me Friday's will commence NOW and run for the next month or two. Every Friday people who follow my blog and leave a comment will be entered to win a $25 Starbucks Card. So follow me. Leave a comment. Anytime until 12:01 am and your name will go in the draw.

And...I did think this through a little. I thought about giving away books, but I love them too much to share (ha just kidding) And how can I choose a book store certificate when there are so many good stores to choose from? And, there is a tie in to books with a coffee gift card giveaway. Work with me...Writer's like to write in coffee shops, right? And readers like to read in them? Plus, in Canada, Starbucks are connected to Chapter's Indigo, the biggest book chain in our fair country. So there you go.

Anyhow, I'll announce the winner of the Gift Card on SISTERS SATURDAY- when I'll be interviewing YA authors about their relationships with their sisters and/or their book about sisters!!

First up is the lovely "girl in the jean jacket", Denise Jaden, author of LOSING FAITH. My interview with her will appear on Saturday October 23, or what I like to call... Tomorrow! On October 30, a hilarious post about sisters from Courtney Summers, author of CRACKED UP TO BE, SOME GIRLS ARE and the upcoming FALL FOR ANYTHING. Ohhh. You're going to love it!!

Thanks for stopping by. And now a word from a cute dog. (mine ha ha)

"Follow, Janet. She rocks. She takes me for walks and picks up my poop."

PS *No ugly dogs have had their feelings hurt in the posting of this blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thinking on Thursday- Do's and Don't s

The funny thing about truth in publishing--is that there is hardly ever a black and white answer to a question or a rule. There is grey in publishing. A lot of grey.

One thing that drives me crazy when I attend a session or workshop about writing or publishing --is when the speaker makes a big bold statement about something in writing or publishing, as if it is the TRUTH.

At the recent talk Angela Ackerman (The Book Muse) and I gave on Agents, one nice gentleman in the crowd said someone told him that no agent will ever consider a manuscript after it has been repped by another agent. Generally the answer is probably true that it's tough and maybe it's time to write a new manuscript. But there are always circumstances. Like how many places was the manuscript shopped to. And that is just one.

Another writer was told you can NEVER get an agent on the first book you publish. Um. That could be true for some people, but not for everyone. It's like saying only red haired people ever get agents on their first book. Only red heads. So. If you're blond or brunette. Fogedaboutdid. Never mind that some of the incredible writers I am lucky enough to know not only got agents but made lists on the first book they ever published. True. It might not happen for everyone.(And this was a talk to Canadian writers) But it's never a hard fast rule.

I was at another conference about craft and the presenter said, "You HAVE to write an outline before you write a novel." Have. To.

Um. No I don't. Can't make me. Uh uh. No way. It gave me a stomach ache and I wanted to put my fingers in my ears and sing because I really don't like someone telling me what I'm doing is wrong when it is how I work. It makes me feel like I'm bad or wrong for the way I do it. (I know, guilty conscience much).

Not everyone has the same process in writing. What works for me may not work for you. I would go insane and end up living in a cardboard box surviving off dead crickets if someone told me I had to do detailed outlines on my books. I do alot of revising as I go. Sometimes I do a vague outline but I am mostly a write it as I go lady. That is what works for me. I do alot of my figuring out as I go along. Is that the RIGHT way. Probably not. But it's the right way for ME.

I heard Jo Beverly a NY Times Bestselling Romance Author give a wonderful talk about the writing process and I loved it so much because her theory was basically, "Own your style." As in find out what works for YOU and go with it. Work at craft, but write how you write. That is not to say you can't learn from the way another writer writes. Or revises. Or plots. Or outlines. I believe whole heartedly that craft can and should be something that is learned and continually built on. But in the end the actual process is individual.

I know some authors who would live in boxes if they were told they COULDN'T outline in detail before they began to write their stories. Telling them to throw that away and just go with the PANSTER method would give them massive stomach aches.

It's an individual process people.

I don't like when presenters say this is what you have to do when they are teaching new writers or people trying to get published who want the golden ticket- the secret handshake. Cause seriously. There isn't one. And no, you don't usually sell on partials. Writing the whole story is best. But yes. It does happen sometimes. You don't need an agent. You do need an agent. There are always exceptions.

I love to share knowledge about what I've learned about publishing with writers who are still learning about the industry. I also love to hear about other authors and their experiences. Because they're different. Of course there are hard and fast truths. There are contracts to sign. 15 % to agents. Editors to work with. But I don't ever want to tell people that something I believe is the always the absolute truth. Not if it's an opinion. I'd happily share share the facts as I know them about having an agent or working through the process of having a book published. It might not be similar for someone else. It might be the same. Ask me and I'll give you my opinion. But mostly it's just that. Opinion.

Make sense?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Author Photo's Part 2

So last night Stina Lindenblatt gave me a CD of the shots of moi she took for my author photos. The pictures themselves are fabulous, I'm really impressed with the effects and how she manipulated the lighting etc. Stina really is a talented photographer.

My first impression of most of the shots of course was from my own self concious state of being. I have a scene in my head from Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis, when they switch bodies and Lindsay is in Jamie's older body and she looks in the mirror and screams. "AAAHHH! I look like the Crypt Keeper."

That was kind of my reaction. Ah. Vanity. It is a killer.

Stina has her own favorites--the ones I'm smiling in, and I think it's funny how we have an impression in our own heads of what we think we look like versus how others see us.

I wanted a more serious, introspective picture, which is how I think I look best. I don't like my smile for my own neurotic reasons. But when I showed my husband and son, they picked the smiling pics too.

I had lots of shots to pick from, but here are my top three. They are Stina Lindenblatt copyrighted and she hasn't cleaned them up or done whatever it is photographers do to the final prints...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rather Painless Author Photos

Getting my picture taken has always been painful thing for me. Perhaps I'm afraid the camera will suck out my soul? Isn't there some religion that believes that? I'd google it, but I'm too lazy, er pressed for time.

Seriously though posing for photo's is right up there with, say root canals and pap smears. And if you have not experienced either, just trust me on this one.

Anyhow, I have a wonderful group of local writers I get together with for lunch regularly. (most of us also belong to SCWBI.) Included in the group is Stina Lindeblatt who not only writes YA, but is also a wonderful photographer. She has a great blog that gives outstanding tips on both writing and photography. You. Must. Check. It. Out.
(note from dorky dork Janet- trying to figure out how to add link to

Well I begged, I mean asked Stina if she would do my photo's and she was suckered in by my begging. Er, she agreed. Lucky me! Stina scouted a location for us with her photographer brain turned on, and this week we met up to snap the shots! She was a total professional who made the potentially excruciating and uncomfortable experience very easy and relaxing. Seriously. Even for me! She gave me pictures to copy for poses and kept me entertained with conversation while she did her thing.

I haven't seen the pics yet, but as Stina knew all about lighting and positioning and other things about taking good pictures that I am curious but clueless about, I'm sure I will be more than happy! Even better it wasn't a horrible experience.

Now, if only I could shave off 15 years and 15 pounds. But nah. I yam what I yam. Like a woman who jogged by us yelled out, "Work it. Work it!"

I'll post some photos when Stina is done her magic!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back Cover Copy for Weight of Bones!

This just in from my wonderful editor at Sourcebooks! Love!!

“For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel envy…”
Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that’s okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. Yet the smiles of her picture-perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn’t hold it together, who will?

Janet Gurtler tests the bonds of sisterhood in this moving debut that readers of Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen will savor

Friday, October 8, 2010

Heavier is BETTER

While researching the title for my April YA release, Weight of Bones, I discovered something I didn't know--Chinese Astrology is really, really cool!!!

There are several different systems in Chinese astrology and one of those includes, yes, the weight of bones.

Other Chinese Astrology Systems
There are other comparable systems of Chinese Astrology but they are not as well known as Ba Zi of Zi Wei.

In addition to the 12 Animals Zodiac, there are two other simplified systems of Chinese Astrology that is found in the Tong Shu or Chinese Almanac. They are the Emperor’s Poem of the Four Season and Weight of Bones.

The Emperor’s Poem takes the season and hour of birth to give a reading in the form of a Poem. The Weight of Bones system assigns a weight to each of the year, month, day and hour of birth. The individual weights are added together and a reading is given for the combined weight. Heavier is better!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Someone is Pining for my Book!

I love the Story Siren! And I love her, "Books I'm Pining For" section.

So how happy was I to see The Weight of Bones make her list???? (answer= VERY!)

Brainy Tess Smith is the younger sibling of the beautiful, popular, volleyball-scholarship-bound Kristina. When Kristina is diagnosed with bone cancer, it drastically changes both sisters' lives.

Sometimes the things that annoy us the most about our siblings are the ones we’d miss the most if we lost them.

In this YA literary coming-of-age novel that will appeal to readers who love Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen, sisters Tess and Kristina discover not only who they are, but who they can become.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I have a weird thing about the term "fan" when it comes to authors. Particularly when authors call their readers, their "fans."

I guess it's appropriate to call yourself a fan of an author, if that's how you think of yourself. But what if the author calls you a fan because you like his or her books? Is it okay?

I myself am a fan of many writers. Judy Blume, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Jody Picoult. Of course, they are prime examples of authors who have many adoring fans. They are literary superstars. So while yes, I do consider myself a fan, to me "fan" almost means that the authors I'm "fanning" over are larger than life and at a level I aspire to, but in all likelihood will never achieve. Stephanie Myers has legions of fans. (Of course poor Stephanie also has many nay sayers and many more of "anti-fans" in her world too. Say what you want, the girl can write a good story.)

But what about authors of smaller books. Authors who haven't yet reached that level. Should they call their readers "fans" too? Is it offensive, or just a little presumptuous?

I would feel really awkward calling anyone who wrote me a nice email or said nice things to me about my first book, a "fan". It makes me feel creepy and self-conscious, like I am bragging and kind of full of myself. Is it just me? Is it tied to the belief I somehow acquired during my upbringing that bragging about yourself isn't appropriate?

Let it be known I have nothing against authors who call their readers fans. In all likelihood, they probably are and identify with that term.

I just find it awkward personally.

And that is all. Until later.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Me Again.

I have been so friggin' busy lately.

Business trip, swim club, work, cleaning, swim club, homework. Mostly it's the new back to school schedule. Swim club everyday after school eats up a lot of time. I have been taking my laptop along and trying to get some writing work done, but it's slow going.

But. No one wants to hear me whine. Right? Right. So instead I will do the lazy person post and copy a Meme I saw on another writer's blog and declare it my own.

If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why?

I would totally choose to be invisible. It would be a great test of my moral values being able to sneak around without being seen. No?

2. Who is your style icon?

Style. Really? Hmm. Is there a middle aged woman who wears Converse runners or black boots with her t-shirt and jeans? If so. That's her. Er. Me. Something like that.

3. What is your favorite quote?

"Just do it." Nike.

4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?

Have you lost weight? No no. How about. You look much younger than (actual age)! But truly, any compliments I've gotten about my books are the ones that knock my socks off.

5. What playlist/cd is on your ipod/cd player right now?

I have a blend of old and new pop songs, bop to it songs, to keep me moving in the gym. That's the only time I ever use my iPod. Does that make me lame?

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Morning, but not as early as it used to be.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Dogs. Except Garfield.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

My name is Janet. And I love YA books. Yeah. I do.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Sitting on your butt listening to other people talk all day doesn't sound like fun. Unless you're a writer and you're learning about craft! We are a wild and wacky bunch we writers. ;)

So yes, spent a fab day with SCWBI Calgary folk at our first official writing workshop and it was great. I always consider a craft learning session a good one, when I can't wait to get home and write --and tonight I raced home (well after sitting in the lounge for few hours for a post day chat with some of my fave local writers) to fix up my flawed first pages. Oh. So much better!!

Crystal Stranaghan, Publisher, and Jared Hunt, Senior Editor, Gumboot Books put on a great presentation/workshop catering to both the newbies in the crowd as well as providing moi with some ah ha moments about setting and character to use in INSTINCT--plus other great learning tools for the "intermediates". Whatever the heck that is.

Also got to chat with my Calgary writing homies--Linda, Angie, Gloria and world famous photographer/writing homie, Stina.

Stina is taking my author photo's next week. Of course in honor of the occasion I dyed my hair too dark and now look like Elvira's flat chested , bouffant less sister. It's always one thing or another with me. Trust.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Weight of Bones....COVER!!!

*update January 11, 2011
Weight of Bones has been changed to I'M NOT HER and given a NEW COVER! It's a completley different look, but really suits the book better I think!


As I have lurked in the background of the online world, so busy with life not really feeling like I had much to say, changes have been going on. First of all I was lucky enough to be adopted by the new editor at Sourcebooks, Teen Fire, Leah Hultenschmidt, and she is fabulous. Capital F. Leah comes from Dorchester, with a great reputation as an editor in the Romance Industry. Since I started out writing romance and was a member of RWA for several years, this is exciting news!!!

We have spoken on the phone and have been working on revisions and now I have been told I can offically post the cover for THE WEIGHT OF BONES, selected with input from the great folks who voted at the TEEN FIRE website.

The votes really did count because the cover that I was originally shown is not the cover that was chosen. I am SOOOOO happy with the cover that was chosen (it was secretly my favorite) They added some spice to make it even better and without further blah blah is is!!!

THE WEIGHT OF BONES is going to be released in APRIL 2011!

I am really excited about this book (it's a weepy one for people who love weepy books as much as I do) and can't wait for the next steps in the book journey!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Revisions and Sister or Soccer

I have been stuck to the couch all night, working on The Weight of Bones revisions. My laptop is getting really hot in my lap. Didn't some guy start a fire or get a major burn that way? Pillows. That's why we have pillows people. They're also really good under your head when you're sleeping.

I have to get my butt in gear with a new website soon. And some blog content (ah hmmm) would be good for this blog. Right.

I did hear something funny about sisters when I went to pick up my son at school today.

Two boys about 11 or 12 walking along, one has a soccer ball, the other is walking with a little girl.

Boy with the soccer ball asks the other kid to play soccer. Boy says no.

"Which do you love more?" soccer ball boy shouts. "Soccer or your sister?"
"Soccer," othe boy yells back. "But my mom will kill me if I don't walk my sister home."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More Coming in September

Oh nose.

I read the witty blogs of some writers and think, hey, they are really cool. Why can't I be cool like that? Didn't I used to be cool like that? Wasn't I at sometime sort of a funny gal. Or did I just imagine that.


I am overly involved with children's toys right now (part time job as a toy rep).
I have been overly busy with Superson's daily camps and swim club. Excuses excuses. I has lots!

But I am going to be posting more in September. It's a goal thing.
See ya after synner,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Weight of Bones Cover- Coming Soon!

Waiting for final word on The Weight of Bones cover so I can reveal it to the world. It's one of the ones from the Teen Fire contest, but with additions!

Meantime, I'm getting my thoughts together about a new Janet Gurtler Website and other things to do with the pending book launch.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ode To My Sister

I have a sister. She is three years older than me. She doesn't look it now, damn her, but she is. Older. So there, older sister.

Growing up I envied her so much. She was taller than me, with long skinny legs. My legs are short. Kind of stumpy. She was thin. I was not. Well. I was for awhile, but I had some serious body images troubles and struggled to feel comfortable in my own skin. We have two brothers as well, and I ended up closer to my older brother because rumor has it I was kind of a pest to her. In reality, I thought she was cool. Much more confident and sophisticated than me, three years her junior. I just didn't know how to tell her that. So I didn't.

When she was in high school and I was in middle school, she had cool boyfriends.I was shy around boys who weren't just friends. Super shy. Tongue freezing up in my mouth, soft voice, red cheeks, shy. I have a really embarrassing story about one of her boyfriends who I thought was the coolest dude ever, but I'll shorten it. He was in a rock band. And he was cute. And I walked by him with a big puffy skirt tucked into the back of my pantyhose. Yes. I did.

After that she met a boy whom she would eventually marry. She was in Grade 12 when they first started dating. I was in Grade 9. Years apart at the time. She moved away from home early and I never really felt like I knew her that well. But she was my sister. And I cared.

Our family moved when I was in Grade 12 and my sister stayed behind with her boyfriend. They got married and I was in her wedding party, but I was a messed up teen and we never really connected.

After a couple of years of college, I moved to a small town that was close to where she lived, and she would come and visit me. She started to treat me like an adult. An equal. I started to feel more comfortable with her, but we are and were very different, her and I. My sister is uber responsible. Serious. I can be kind of a goof, and not so responsible.

When she and her husband split up, she called me. We talked and for the first time, I felt a like I was the one with clarity. I felt fierce loyalty to her and her situation and tried to make the transition smoother with our family. We had a long distance relationship, but we both knew we were more than friends. We were sisters.

She got through it of course, and we had grown closer. She started a new life in a new city with a new man and I visited her, more as an equal than little sister. But it's hard to change roles. Eventually she had her first child. She called me when she was in labour. When she had her first child, it was love at first sight. For me. I was Auntie and I think that made my sister relationship stronger again.

My sister had another baby (more Auntie love for me) and then she ended up moving to the city where I lived, the same city as our parents. For the first time in years we lived in the same place and I was so happy to have her there. I loved her kids more than I'd ever loved anything. She had one more little girl and I loved them all to pieces.

I, on the other hand, started to go through a rough patch in my life. I broke up with a boyfriend, and was lost and spiralling out of control. My sister saw what was happening, but I had to go the road myself. Finally I took an opportunity to transfer to a new city, in sort of an effort to save myself from myself. My biggest regret about moving was leaving behind my sister's little girls.

Eventually I came to terms with my demons and my sister was there when I reached out. I got myself together and started a new life for myself. When I got married, my sister stood beside me. She was perfect in her role, and I was proud to have her and her girls in my corner.

When I had my child, my sister came to visit, to finally get to play her own role as Auntie. She was worried about me though and it soon became apparent I had a bad case of PPD. I made it through that, with several calls to her, and our long distance relationship stayed strong.

My sister and I have our own path. Our road to the relationship we have today was built on becoming adults. She is a person who really understands me. She knows intimately where I've been what I've been through, and I know the same of her.

I still look up to her, and I still envy her long legs, but I also feel that I am her equal now. Her shorter, chubbier equal. Our age differences became meaningless years ago. As a bonus, I know she loves my child as much as I love her three amazing girls. If anything happened to me, I know my sister would be there for my son and I would do anything for her girls if they needed me. Sisters themselves. Sisters who have their own story and their own role, but a very important relationship, that I know will grow stronger over time.

We are very different people now, my sister and I. We have different lives, in different cities, but I know in my heart that she is in my corner, rooting for me, as much as I am in hers.

Being sisters can be complicated. But, it can also be wonderful and enlightening. I feel very lucky to have my sister in my life. Even if she is thinner and taller.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Covers are terribly exciting and terribly scary for authors. Every author wants a cover that they LOVE, because after all it is the face of the book, and despite the cliche, many many people judge a book by it's cover! And since books are kind of like our non squishy babies, we have to hug them, stare at them, pet them and sometimes even kiss them (when no one is looking of course)So cover love is a very good thing.

So how LUCKY am I that Sourcebooks has created not one by FOUR awesome covers for The Weight of Bones, covers that potential readers can now vote on for their fave! (answer= VERY lucky)

I am not choosing which one I like the best yet, even though there may be one calling my name more than the others, because I want to love the chosen one the best. I can't really go wrong, can I?

So. Go here
Which one is your fave?? Which one will WIN. Can't wait to see!!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A New Blog is Coming

And its name is me. Or. Something like that.

I am going to be getting a Janet Gurtler Website going over the next few months and as part of that I'm going to start a new Blog. This is is baby. Right here.

Most of the theme will be Young Adult. Reading it. Writing it. Loving It.

I also plan to have a weekly section on sisers. Lover her. Hate her. Stuck with her for life.

Can't wait.