Monday, April 30, 2012

When We're Not Writing...

Thank you SO much for a fantastic time following "Why I Write" with us. We had a great time learning all your stories for why you read, why you write and it was very motivational and encouraging to connect! 

Instead of telling you why we write, we thought we would tell you instead what we do when we're not writing...because let's face it, we spend a lot of time not writing.  So we made this fun little vlog for you and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 

We also have a winner for you. So congrats to...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Why I Write: Amy Garvey

I had to think about this for while, oddly. It felt a little bit like wondering why I walk, or why I breathe—things I don’t have to consciously think about, things I simply do. Writing feels like that to me most of the time, because I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something. (If we didn’t have creative writing assignments in elementary school, I made up my own. Seriously.)

And yet, I don’t wake up every morning ready to explode if I don’t siphon off some of the stories in my head, mostly because they’re not fully formed stories until they’re written. I don’t have a physical need to sit staring at my laptop until my contacts are permanently burned onto my eyes, and my neck is wondering what the hell it ever did to me to be forced into that position for so long. And, believe it or not, I’m not doing it for the money or the fame, either. 

It’s taken a while to figure out, but I think I write because it’s my own form of therapy. I write to solve problems, or to figure out how I feel about things when the tangle of emotions is too ridiculously knotted to pick apart any other way. Granted, I probably have at least a basic need to tell stories, and to clean out some of the ideas rattling around in my head, but the heart of it is not that simple. 

Curiosity is what always gets me going first. Take Cold Kiss. First, mostly goofing around, I wanted to see if I could write a book about a zombie. But the longer I thought about it, the less I wanted a protagonist who was brain-hungry and decomposing. So that meant voodoo zombies, which are raised purposefully (and usually as, more or less, a slave). 

Then the question became, who would raise someone from the dead? And why, for god’s sake? Thus Wren Darby—frantically, epically grieving the death of her first boyfriend—was born.   

But it wasn’t until the book was finished—and by finished I mean, revised, revised again, copyedited, and actually printed—that I really understood what I had written about it. And it wasn’t—surprise, surprise—zombies. It was about grief, and the threat of loss, and how you cope when someone you love dies. Seems sort of obvious, right? But writing the book wasn’t just a process of getting Wren to figure that out—it was me, too, dealing with my own complicated emotions about my mom, who has been chronically ill most of my life, and near death a few too many times for comfort. 

I wrote a book called Pictures of Us for Harlequin a few years ago, and realized that the same thing had happened. It’s a book about a married couple dealing with a shocking revelation, and I had originally scribbled down the idea and the first bits of it years and years ago—when I was pretty newly married. Now, there were no shocking revelations in my marriage—yay!—but when I finally had the chance to write the book, I discovered a lot of fears I had clearly been burying about marrying really young (I was twenty-one) and what marriage was supposed to mean.  (Everyone got a happy ending, for the record, including me.)
See? Problem solving. Or, you know, do-it-yourself therapy.  At some point, my brain decided to turn my love of writing into a multitasking process, I guess.  And I’m totally okay with that. It makes wondering what my initial story ideas are really about a whole lot more interesting, anyway.

Amy Garvey has always been a reader. She's also been a movie theater ticket taker, a nanny, a camp counselor, and a romance editor. Now she's a wife and a mom and a writer who still spends most of her free time reading (when she's not watching too much TV).

After starting off in romance with books like Hot Date and Pictures of Us, she's writing in the genre she's always loved most, young adult fiction. (Her very first completed novel, which will live forever under her bed, was a young adult novel!) Cold Kiss released from HarperTeen in September 2011, and the sequel, Glass Heart, will release this September 18th. 

You can find Amy online: Twitter / BlogTumblr / Facebook & Amazon 

And don't forget to enter our gigantic giveaway below. Click "Read more" to enter! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why I Write: Ruth Frances Long

The funny thing is I sat down to write this post thinking it would be easy. And then I got something of a surprise. Why do I write? I can’t imagine not writing. I can’t picture spending more than a few days without putting words on paper or on the screen, certainly not going for any amount of time without thinking about it.

I’ll try to explain why. You have to promise not to have me committed afterwards, okay?

When we talk about writing, and about why we write, is implies that there’s some sort of option available. I’ve never found that. Stories tend to find their way into my head. Bits of stories, little rags of images and ideas that gradually, artlessly, weave themselves into something complex and difficult and something which cannot really be ignored. We call them plot bunnies because they pop out of nowhere and multiply like... well, rabbits. I’ve had stories start from such varied things as picture, music, names and even a book on medieval queen consorts. Ideas truly are everywhere. It is keeping them under control that is the problem.

Because once those ideas are in your head, they can tick away for years without finding another one which fits with it. But when the right two (or more) ideas come together, heaven help me because they are not going to let up until I give in and start writing. I think about stories all the time. I’ve missed exits on motorways, burnt countless dinners, missed phone calls, and the cat has on occasion had to sit on my notebook in order to be fed. Let’s not bring up the number of cups of tea my poor husband has made for me only to find them some time later, stone cold and untouched.

When we think of writers, and speak of word count, we forget the amount of time spent thinking about the story, planning the world, working out the logic, making it all slot together. I do an awful lot of this subconsciously and often find myself unable to continue with the actual writing of a story until I have worked out the problem in my head. Usually this means I will switch to another story and work on that for a while, but in extreme cases I just go on a reading binge. Nothing jogs my stubborn mind quite so well as reading something marvellous written by someone else.

Stories are a vital part of life. Imagination fuels everything thing we do. I think, as writers we recognise and use that to our advantage. I can’t recall a time when I didn’t write and want to be a writer. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t write and I really don’t want to imagine anything that could make me stop. I write because I’m a writer. I’m a writer, because, well, that’s just what I am.

Ruth Frances Long (R. F. Long) always had a thing for fantasy, romance and ancient mysteries. The combination was bound to cause trouble. In university she studied English Literature, History of Religions and Celtic Civilisation, which just compounded the problem.
As R. F. Long she writes fantasy and paranormal romance stories including Tales of the Holtlands, a series of novellas comprising The Wolf's Sister (2008), The Wolf's Mate (2010) and The Wolf's Destiny (2011); and novels, The Scroll Thief (2009) and Soul Fire (2010).

Writing as Ruth Frances Long her forthcoming novel for young adults, The Treachery of Beautiful Things from Dial Books for Young Readers goes on sale August 16, 2012. 

The trees swallowed her brother whole. And Jenny was there to see it. Years later, when she returns to the woods where Tom was taken to say goodbye at last, she finds herself lured into a world where stunning beauty masks the most treacherous of evils, and strange and dangerous creatures await - creatures who seem to consider her the threat.

Ruth lives in Wicklow and works in a specialized library of rare and unusual books.  But they don’t talk to her that often. Or maybe she's learned not to listen. Maybe.

Connect with Ruth on twitter or her website. And find The Treachery of Beautiful Things on Goodreads and Amazon! And don't forget to enter the contest below with tons of awesome prizes!! (Something NEW has been added....) 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I Write: Catherine Knutsson

This confession may go against the grain when it comes to writers, but, here it is:  I never set out to be a writer.  Sure, when I was younger, I wrote, and I enjoyed telling stories.  Looking back on my childhood, there were signs I was meant to be a storyteller, but then...things happened.  For example, in Grade Three, I wrote a story about a cat named Smartie, and read the story aloud during our class’s weekly story time.  Smartie the Cat was a hit, and before long, everyone in the class was writing stories about Smartie.  I was less than pleased about this first experience with plagiarism, but rather than asking the class to write stories about characters of their own creation, my teacher decided to ban Smartie the Cat from the classroom all together.

And that was my first experience in censorship.

It was also one of the first times I remember being silenced, and, because I was the kid I was, sensitive and insecure and odd, and who, most days, wanted to be a horse rather than a girl, I assumed I had done something wrong.  That I deserved the silencing.

By the time I was in middle school, I pretty much felt like I was doing something wrong all the time.  I didn’t act like the other kids, and I didn’t think like the other kids, and I liked books a lot more than most of them, and I still wanted to be a horse.  I tried being like them, I really did, and only ended up getting bullied, or trying so hard to fit in that everyone thought I was really weird, or really arrogant, or a big know-it-all.  I probably was, but I was also desperately trying to figure out how to fit into this great big puzzle called life.

And the figuring-out part wasn’t going very well.

I’m not sure where it happened, but somewhere along the line, between middle school and adulthood, I decided that whatever I had to say wasn’t really worth saying.  So I stopped speaking.  Oh, I said words (sometimes), but those weren’t true words.  They were a mask, a front I presented because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do.  And so, I held everything inside of me, all my thoughts and feelings and wonderings about the world.  By the time I went to university, I was completely lost.  I felt like I was wearing a skin that was squeezing me, compressing my true self, and sooner or later, all that would be left was a little hard raisin that was once me.

What I didn’t know was that some part of me is a survivor.  While I was doing my utmost to kill the parts of myself that scared me most, another part of myself was cradling them, holding them closer, and saying: Just wait.  You’ll need this voice.  You just have to find it again.

The finding of that voice took me years, and then, it took even longer to start writing.  In fact, I only started to write because I was teaching singing and went through a series of events that confirmed what I suspected:  I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do.  So, what, exactly, was I supposed to do instead?  I wasn’t sure, but writing was there, waiting.  It was free, for one thing, and I didn’t need to go back to school to do it.  So, one night, I started to write a story.  Before long, it was a novel, and then, I started to write another story.

Now that I have a few novel under my belt, I see a theme running through them.  My stories tend to be about characters who have been silenced in one way or another, and need to run the gauntlet to find their true selves again.  All my characters are broken and scarred, and desperately need healing, and that healing process isn’t easy, or pretty, or nice.  But they’re good souls, these characters, with good hearts, and when they learn to stop hurting themselves, when they begin to listen to their own truths and speak those truths with clear, honest voices, they begin to mend.
I think this is my way of healing that past self, that girl who always felt so odd and out-of-place, who was told she was too sensitive, too bossy, too quiet, too weird.  It’s a work in progress, finding that voice, but writing is where I find truest self.

And that’s why I write.

PS: I still want to be a horse.

Catherine Knutsson lives on Vancouver Island, where she's spent most of my life, aside from short stints living in Iran and in Vancouver. When she's not writing, she runs (currently aiming for her first 10k in June, and then a half-marathon either in October or Spring 2013), ride horses (not as often as she’d like, these days), hike, garden, take photographs, and bake bread. And, sometimes she knits, and sometimes she paints. Oh, and she's a classically trained singer (early music specialist) and taught singing for years.

And, like Cassandra, the main character in SHADOWS CAST BY STARS, she's Métis, though she didn’t learn this until a few years ago, and she's still learning. For example, Tawnshi! (That means hello in Michif…)

These days, she lives in Nanaimo, B.C., home of the famous Nanaimo bar, and shares her home with her ultra-supportive husband, Mikel, and their two cats, who are frequently featured on hrt blog, much to their delight and/or chagrin. She's never quite sure, but figures at some point, they’ll let her know.

Her novel, SHADOWS CAST BY STARS will release June 5, 2012 from Atheneum (Simon & Schuster). 

Find Catherine Knutsson online: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why I Write: Trisha Wolfe

That is a good, but difficult question. It seems like it should be the easiest, though, for a writer to answer. And I know many, including myself, would say that we all write for ourselves. Which, we do. But I think once you’ve been writing long enough, it turns into something so much more.

I fell in love with books in middle school. Every night I looked forward to a great escape away from the monotony of school, parents, other kids, etc. I would read until three or four in the morning, crash out for a couple of hours, then go to school and do the day all over again. I decided at the age of fourteen I was going to be a writer, and that one day I’d be one the those authors that I looked up to so much. Someone who wrote these great, fantastical worlds where I got lost in. Honestly, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. 

So yes, I write for myself. I have to. I’ve been talking (mumbling) to myself since I was a baby, since before I even knew what words were, and if I didn’t have these characters in my head to blame it on, I would probably be locked up by now. No lie. I talk to myself non-stop. It can get scary living with me.

But once I decided to take that leap and put my writing out into the world, and people actually read it, I think I’m considering the readers more at this point. And I think I’m now writing for every girl or boy out there who dares to dream of fantastical worlds to get lost in.

And who hope to see their own dreams realized.

Trisha Wolfe is the author of the YA Steampunk/Paranormal Romance DESTINY'S FIRE. Her published short stories have appeared in YA literary journals and Fantasy magazines. UNVEILED is her first novelette and part of a Dystopian series releasing TBA. She’s written four books in the past two years, and is currently working on the sequel to DF and a new project. She’s represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management.

Connect with Trisha on her website, blogtwitter and facebook.

Check out DESTINY'S FIRE on Goodreads and order it on Amazon.

And don't forget to enter our giveaway full of AMAZING goodies below! One lucky winner will get ALL this stuff--including an e-book of DESTINY'S FIRE.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why I Write: Trish Doller

When I was a little girl, no blank sheet of paper or plain white restaurant placemat was safe from my pencil. As soon as I learned how to make words, I was driven to write them. I wrote little rhyming poems, stories about leprechauns, and sometimes just my name, over and over again.

 I moved on to blank notebooks as I got older, unable to resist the sound a notebook makes when you open it for the first time. Accepting the invitation of those fresh, clean, blue-lined pages. I rewrote pages of my favorite books, inserting myself as a friend or the main character.

And then came computers, with black screens and green blinking cursor (yes, I’m that old) and I filled floppy disks with stories about girls and young women that I had no idea were YA. I printed them out on long green and gray striped dot matrix printer pages so I could edit them.

 When I had children, writing was a place I could go to find myself when I was lost in a sea of dishes and diapers. And when I went back to work, I gravitated toward jobs that included writing: advertising copywriting, newspaper reporting.

So why do I write?

I write because it’s programmed into my DNA. It flows through me like my own blood. Because I can’t imagine a life without it.

I write because I have to write.

Trish Doller was born in Germany, but grew up in Ohio. She went to college at Ohio State University, got married to someone really great, bounced from Maine to Michigan and back to Ohio for awhile. She now lives in Florida with my her mostly grown kids, two dogs, and a pirate. For real. 

 She's worked as a radio personality, a newspaper reporter, and spent every summer in college working at an amusement park. These days shes work as a bookseller at a Very Big Bookstore. And she write. Her debut novel, Something Like Normal, comes out on June 19.

Connect with Trish at her websitetumblr, or twitter!

I just came home from Afghanistan. 

My parents are splitting up. My brother has stolen my girlfriend. (He also stole my car.) And I'm haunted by the ghost of my best friend. 

Then I run into Harper. (Technically, her fist runs into my face.) She's beautiful, smart, funny...and wants nothing to do with the messed-up Marine who ruined her life. 

Sometimes the best you can hope for is something like normal. 

Sometimes what you get can be even better.

 Find Something Like Normal on Goodreads and Amazon!

And don't forget to enter our contest with tons of awesome stuff to giveaway!! Including Something Like Normal!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why I Write: McCormick Templeman

I’m one of those people who has always written, and before I could write, I told myself stories in my head. Even my childhood games foreshadowed the kinds of obsessions that would lead me to become a writer. I remember playing when I was little, dividing up my dolls and action figures with a friend, or with my brother, and within no time, one of my lot would be found hanging from the pipe beneath the sink. Oh no! Han Solo had taken his own life… or had he? My main character, Bobbi (known to the rest of the world as Malibu Barbie), wasn’t quite so sure. Soon Cobra Commander would be found dead with a knife in his back (or rather nestled between his arm and his torso), and Bobbi and I would be in a race against time to stop our killer before he/she could take more plastic lives. When I played with my brother, it would sometimes turn out that a blue-haired alien baby doll head was responsible for the murders (he writes science fiction), but I favored a more traditional denouement, assembling the remaining toys so that Bobbi could reveal the identity of the killer. I’m not gonna lie. It was usually Snoopy.

I remember the date when I traded dolls for pen and paper. It was October 30th, 1985. I was in fourth grade, and our homework assignment was to write a scary story to read aloud in front of the class on Halloween. I was already smitten with Poe, and I wanted to see if I could write something as gruesome as my current obsession, “The Black Cat.” There was a storm that night, and the lights went out. I sat at the kitchen table by candlelight, and I still remember the taste of the candy corn I snacked on while I wrote. Wind and rain lashed against the windows, and I was totally lost in my story. I got to stay up past my older brother that night because my mom didn’t want to interrupt me. It was one of the happiest, most peaceful times in my life, and I had created it completely on my own. I realized while I sat there writing, that there was no reason I couldn’t just keep on doing it for the rest of my life. So I did. When I’m writing, part of me is always back there with the candles flickering, and the rain scratching against the pane, the taste of candy corn and terror on my tongue, and I am blissfully happy. If I’m not, I know that I’m doing something wrong.

McCormick Templeman is descended from musicians and criminals. Her first novel, THE LITTLE WOODS (Schwartz and Wade/ Random House) debuts on July 10, 2012, and her second novel, THE GLASS CASKET (Delacorte), is forthcoming in 2014. She lives in California with some people and some stuff.

You can find THE LITTLE WOODS on Amazon and Goodreads.

Connect with McCormick on her website and on twitter.

And don't forget to enter to win a ton of amazing prizes -- including THE LITTLE WOODS bookmarks and buttons! ONE person will win everything--so the more you enter, comment, tweet, the better your chances.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why I Write: Hilary Graham

Hilary Weisman Graham is an award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter, and novelist. She lives in rural New Hampshire with her husband and son, roughly thirty minutes away from the nearest grocery store. Her debut YA novel, REUNITED, comes out June 12, 2012.

Connect with Hilary on her website, twitter, or her blog!

About Reunited:

1 Concert 
2000 Miles 
3 Ex-Best Friends 

Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends. Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3. 

But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books. 

Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show. Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse. And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. Good thing Alice’s graduation gift (a pea-green 1976 VW camper van known as the Pea Pod) is just the vehicle to get them there. 

But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?

Read more about Reunited on Goodreads or find it on Amazon!

And don't forget to enter our HUGE giveaway below!!! One person will win EVERYTHING and some new prizes that aren't listed here. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why I Write: Amalie Howard

I’ve always loved writing. Even at a very young age, I was always scribbling some story or another into a journal. I remember writing a story in pencil about a young girl covered in magical tattoos when I was about nine. Seriously, what did I know about tattoos at nine years old? Still, I remember it being a pretty interesting little story. My protagonist’s name was Xaviria (cool name, right?) and she was one tough, sassy chick. I liked my female heroines capable and clever from way back.

I wrote a ton of poetry during my teen years—for me, writing was cathartic, especially during some of those tougher teen times (first crush, peer and parent pressure, etc.,) and whenever I had any strife in my life, I just got it all out on paper. I had my first poem published when I was twelve and I won an award in a global youth writing competition when I was fifteen for a short story. The story was about a man whose daughter’s soul lived in a weeping willow, and he could only communicate with her through his violin. Even back then, my imagination had a fondness for fantasy. Over the years, the pencil may have evolved into a laptop, but writing was and still is a huge form of escapism for me.

My passion for writing stories came from reading great stories. I’ve been a voracious reader all my life, devouring pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I loved being able to dive into someone else’s life, whether it was via a pixie or a redheaded, willful orphan or a talking lion. My love affair with fantasy and science fiction began with Grimm’s Fairy Tales and continued with books like The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, Lord of the Rings and Dune. Given that, it’s really no surprise that that’s where I feel most comfortable exploring my own writing voice. With fantasy and scifi, I love that you can construct whole worlds with elements that may not exist in real society. I like being able to create something different with interesting multi-layered characters, especially ones with those paranormal or supernatural elements. I especially like being able to redefine myself in those characters. They are all different versions of me in different worlds with infinite possibility at their fingertips. What’s not to love about that?

Still, my road to author-hood wasn’t always clear. I was passionate about it but I wasn’t sure it was … the one. So I took a bit of a hiatus after I graduated college to pursue a global sales career in corporate telecommunications for thirteen years, and I travelled the world building that career. I did pay the bills, but eventually, I realized I wasn’t satisfied. Something was missing. In response, those writing embers buried deep down started to rekindle, and I started writing the story that became Bloodspell. I remember feeling excited and terrified, but alive. It was like an epic epiphany (cue choral voices here)—this is what I was meant to do, what I was always meant to do.

I’m a writer. And that’s why I write.  

Write hard or go home. 


Amalie Howard grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. She received a bachelor’s degree from Colby College in Maine in International Studies and French, and a certificate in French Literature from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. She has also lived in Los Angeles, Boston, and New York City. She has worked as a research assistant, marketing rep, global sales executive, freelance writer, and blogger. A lover of other cultures and new experiences, especially of the culinary variety, she has traveled extensively across North America and Europe, and as far east as China, Indonesia, and Australia. She currently resides in New York with her husband, three children, and one very willful cat that she is convinced may have been a witch’s cat in a past life.

Amalie Howard’s debut novel, BLOODSPELL, evolved from a short story that took on an eerie life of its own, and is undoubtedly the result of a lifelong infatuation with witchcraft, vampires, and excessive amounts of chocolate.

Connect with Amalie on her BLOG, GOODREADS, TWITTER, FACEBOOK

Also, don't forget to enter our huge giveaway, which includes a signed copy of BLOODSPELL! Follow the "Read More" link below to enter.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why I Write: Jenn Rush

I started telling stories at a young age. When I was five, my best friend was a little boy named Benjamin who lived in my neighborhood. I vividly remember, one day during the summer, I told him I could transport us to the world of the Smurfs. He didn’t believe me. So I got out my magic book (a bible), put on my magic vest, and recited a bunch of gibberish while pointing at the TV. I don’t know if I thought it’d work (it didn’t, in case you were wondering), but I wanted to believe I could transport us. Years later, I realized I could send people on an adventure, not with magical books and magical vests, but with my words, and the worlds I could create on the page.

I started reading voraciously in 6th grade, and when I hit junior high, I devoured anything I could about vampires. Back then it was L. J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries series, and Christopher Pike’s Last Vampire series. The feeling I got while reading those books---the excitement, the danger, the mystery and romance---was something I sought again and again when the books were over. So I started my own vampire novel, and while it wasn’t very good, I was hooked on crafting young adult fiction, because when I had music blaring in my ears, and words pouring out on the page, I felt all those things again.

Which brings me to the second reason why I write: escape. Every day life can be stressful, depressing, hectic, boring, lackluster, lots of things you would rather turn off. I think literature has the power to do that, whether you’re reading it or writing it. I remember, two years ago, I was working full-time as a bank teller, and in between customers, I was reading Ally Condie’s Matched. I loved that book so hard. And when I finished, I had this feeling in my chest, this exhilarating, electric feeling, like I wouldn’t ever be the same after having read that book. And I suddenly felt sorry for non-readers, or readers who never had the privilege of reading something that powerful.

I like to think of books as these little self-contained worlds that you can visit whenever you want or need to, that make you feel things you are having a hard time feeling in the real world. They inspire people, they excite people, they bring people together. And writing something that has the ability to do all those things to people you’ve never met is an experience a writer (at least this writer) has a hard time putting into words.

So why do I write? I write to feel something that nothing else has ever been able to make me feel. A natural high, I think you could say. I think that’s why anyone with a specific passion does what they do. They do it to feel. Actors perform. Dancers dance. Adventurers sky dive. And writers write.

Jennifer Rush resides in Michigan, in the same town where she grew up, right on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Easily bored, she's held many jobs, including a laundromat attendant (where she met her husband), a bank teller, and an apartment manager (twice). She wrote a book at each job, but expects nothing will compare to writing a book as a job.

A mother of two, a wife to one, Jennifer currently lives with her family in a noisy, messy, little house, but is looking forward to one day having a writer's cottage to call her own, where the carpet will be devoid of smashed fig newtons. Her debut YA novel ALTERED comes out January 2013, followed by an MG series in the summer 2013 called BOT WARS.

Connect with Jenn on her blog, on goodreads, on tumblr and on twitter. 

Add ALTERED to goodreads.

And don't forget to enter this awesome giveaway where ONE person will win everything--including a pre-prder of ALTERED.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why I Write: Michelle Pickett

People have many reasons for writing. Some want fame, fortune, recognition. Some write for relaxation, others for the excitement of living vicariously through their characters. Here are some of the reasons I write:

Challenge. I read a statistic that ninety-percent of Americans want to write a novel. Only ten-percent of us do. Even less will get published. I took that as a challenge. I want to be in that ten-percent and I definitely want to be one of the few that get published.

One day I was cleaning out old files on my computer when I found a story I'd started writing a year or so before. I read the first few pages and thought it was pretty good (it isn't) so I challenged myself to finish it. Well, I failed. The file is still taking up space on my computer. But I did complete part of the challenge. I started a new story and finished it.

Voices. Do you hear voices? At the risk of being thrown in a padded cell, I admit I do. They tell me to write, to tell their story. If I don't, they get louder and more insistent until I do. The second reason I write is because the characters living in my head tell me to. I have the overwhelming urge to get their story down on paper. They keep me focused, engaged, excited about writing. I enjoy playing with my imaginary friends.

Relax. Writing calms me. When the kids are screaming, the bills are calling and the husband is in a mood, I escape into another world through writing. Writing calms my frayed nerves and helps me rejuvenate. Do you remember the old Calgon commercials?  "Calgon take me away," was the slogan. Well, writing takes me away to a world where I can relax…by killing off a few characters.

Sparkly Vampires. Let's face it. We all want a little recognition for what we do - maybe just a little fame, maybe just a little fortune. Otherwise we wouldn't submit our novels to agents and publishers. Do I wish I wrote Twilight? Of course I do. I wish I thought of sparkly vampires first, got a four book deal, five movies and tons of merchandising. But we all can't be Stephenie Meyer, nor should we want to be. Books would be boring if we all wrote the same thing. We need new voices. We need new stories. And that's one reason I write: because I'm not Stephenie Meyer and I never will be. I bring a new voice, hopefully one readers like, because a small part of me wants a little piece of that fame. We all do on some level.

Dream. It's my dream. Not to get published, although that's part of it. Not to have people tell me how great my books are, although it feels good when they do. Not to have fame and fortune, although I've already established I think getting paid for doing something I love would be great. I write to fulfill my dreams of being able to hold a manuscript in my hand and know I created it. I did this.

Kids. The most important reason I write is my kids. I have four. They are the reason I forced myself to finish that first novel when I felt like throwing it against the wall and pulling my hair out strand by strand. They were watching. They knew I'd challenged myself to finish and I wanted to show my kids that even though we only make a commitment to ourselves – maybe especially commitments made to ourselves - we should follow through, we should finish, and we can if we work hard. I want my kids to know that they can do anything or be anything if they set their minds to it and work hard. I hope when my children look at me they don't see that my novel got a publishing deal, they don't see the royalties I may earn, they don't see the recognition I may receive. Instead they see that mommy set a goal, she worked hard and completed it.

That's why I write. 

Michelle was born and raised in Michigan. She has been an avid reader since a young child. She began writing for personal enjoyment in college, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting. Deciding sitting in a cubical all day was cruel and unusual punishment, she decided to do what she really wanted to--share her passion for reading and writing with others. She now resides in a small community outside Houston, Texas with her husband, four children, a 125-pound lap dog, and a very grumpy cockatiel. Her debut YA novel PODs will be released June 2013 with Spencer Hill Press. 

Connect with Michelle on her website, blog, and twitter

Learn more about PODs on Goodreads. (and Danielle read it--it's really, really good) 

And don't forget to enter to win a ton of amazing prizes! ONE person will win everything listed--so the more you enter, comment, tweet, the better your chances. (International entries are welcome to enter, but please note that you may not receive every prize listed Prizes are coming from various locations/publishers.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why I Write: Tiffany Schmidt

I spent most of my childhood in The Naughty Chair. Okay, maybe most is an overstatement. I spent much of my childhood in The Naughty Chair – in fact, if I wasn’t actively IN The Naughty Chair, I was probably doing something mischievous to earn my next stay there.

 I sat on that white wooden seat long enough to test every loophole. Was I allowed to move the chair in front of the TV? No. Could I call the dog over and play fetch? Maybe. It depended if Mom caught me. Could I pull the phone from the wall and make phone calls to random people while I sat there? I mean, the spiral cord dangled alluringly right above my head… Again, maybe if Mom was distracted. Could I work diligently at the screws on the bottom of the seat and actually make The Naughty Chair collapse while still sitting in it? Yes, but it hurts when a chair collapses out from under you.

 Mostly what I did while enduring my many, many Time Outs was tell stories. Usually they centered around the beautiful princess Tiffany and the evil, mean witch Mommy. Have I mentioned lately that my mother should be sainted?

But when I was little, there was no need to write. The Naughty Chair was a storyteller’s throne, and since my mother didn’t dare leave me unsupervised, I had a captive audience.

Then I started school.

Sidenote: my teachers all deserve sainthood too.

Suddenly my stories about my baby brother having horns and fangs or the dinnertime feast I had with a cupcake fountain and unicorn guests weren’t entertaining and wonderful. They were lies.

But if I wrote those same stories down (or dictated them to a teacher for her to scribe) and started them with Once Upon A Time and ended them with The End or Happily Ever After, they were “So creative!” “What an imagination!” and “Wonderful!” I was a praise-junkie. That was all it took.

Skip forward a few decades and those stories became longer. Eventually books. Eventually a book strong enough to secure an agent… and then *pinch me, please!* an editor. Six months from now when Send Me A Sign appears on bookstore shelves, I might have to put myself in Time Out, because I can’t begin to imagine how I’ll handle the excitement.

Now, excuse me. My impish twins are currently dangling from their babygate, feeding waffles to our dogs. Is 16 months too early for a Naughty Chair? I might as well get one now, I have a feeling it will be getting LOTS of use. Of course, since this IS my perfect Happily Ever After, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A YA writer/ reader, living and creating mischief in Doylestown, PA. Married to St. Matt, mother of impish twin boys, and represented by Joe Monti of Barry Goldblatt Literary. When not writing, Tiffany can be found running with her husband or puggles, reading to the Schmidtlets, and daydreaming in the local coffee shop. Her debut novel, Send Me A Sign, comes out 10-2-2012 from Walker / Bloomsbury.

Connect with Tiffany on her blog, twitter and facebook. 

Mia’s used to being the perfect teenager: pretty, popular, smart, caring. But that was before she was diagnosed with leukemia. Now, her father has become Captain Cancer Facts and her mother is obsessed with maintaining Mia’s image. Her maybe-more-than-a-friend, Gyver, is judging her decision not to tell the other cheerleaders that she’s sick. Her life’s about to change and she’s terrified by the loss of control.  

Mia’s always been superstitious, but as her body starts to feel like it belongs less to her and more to the doctors and their needles, she becomes irrationally dependent on horoscopes, fortune cookies, and good luck charms. As chemotherapy replaces cheerleading and platelets replace parties, Mia just wants normal back. But despite searching for clues in everything from songs on the radio to her Magic 8 Ball, her future is coming up Outlook not so good...

Pre-order Send Me A Sign on Amazon and add the book on Goodreads. 

And don't forget to enter to win a ton of amazing prizes! ONE person will win everything listed--so the more you enter, comment, tweet, the better your chances. ( International entries are welcome to enter, but please note that you may not receive every prize listed  Prizes are coming from various locations/publishers.)

Since SEND ME A SIGN has a bit about superstition, chime in and tell us if you have an superstitions! See you on Monday with more authors.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why I Write: Melissa West

There’s something powerful in words, a freedom that allows us to reach beyond our daily voices and actions to something more pure. For me, I write to find that purity of opinion and thought.

See, I am the definitive opinionated person. I like to talk about all the things we aren’t supposed to talk about—religion, race, prejudice, you name it—and I love the passion that these issues tend to bring out. I love people, and I tend to root for the underdog, so you can imagine my stance on many of these things. I want so much for this world and tend to feel that we go about our daily lives oblivious to the world around us.

 All that said, I am wildly respectful of others. So instead of talking about racism and prejudice and how we handle anything outside the norm, I wrote GRAVITY, which at root takes a look at the moral dilemma of what extents humans would go to gain back full control of Earth.

 And it’s not just GRAVITY.

Everything I write has a theme, and while I’m not so arrogant as to believe I can change the world, I do hope that my novels give pause. I hope readers think as they’re reading them, about not just the story, but our world and how we exist in that world. I want my stories to be fun and action-packed, but if a reader turns the last page of my book without thinking at all, then I’ve failed as an author.

Melissa lives in a tiny suburb of Atlanta, GA with her husband and daughter. She pretends to like yoga, actually likes shoes, and could not live without coffee. Her writing heroes include greats like Jane Austen and Madeleine L'Engle.

She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and an M.S. in Graphic Communication, both from Clemson University. Yeah, her blood runs orange.

She is represented by Louise Fury of L. Perkins Agency.
Her book, GRAVITY, comes out on October 16, 2012 from Entangled Publishing.

You can find it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Connect with Melissa on her website and on twitter.

And don't forget to enter to win a ton of amazing prizes! ONE person will win everything--so the more you enter, comment, tweet, the better your chances.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why I Write: Aimee Agresti

I write because I love to read.

I’m the daughter of a librarian so I grew up reading everything in sight and I remember that rush I used to get as a teen when I read my favorites.

During those years, books, for me, were like those wise best friends that every girl needs. They held all the secrets and had all the answers. There were the books that seemed to understand me so perfectly: The Catcher in the Rye, with my ultimate crush Holden Caulfield, and anything Judy Blume.

There were the ones that gave me that much-needed escape from the trials and tribulations of high school: Alice in Wonderland and anything Roald Dahl.

And then there were the ones that showed me a version of who I wanted to be: plucky Jo from Little Women or fearless, fabulous Nancy Drew (I devoured th!/AimeeAgrestiat entire series!)

So I write with the hope that someone might curl up with ILLUMINATE and feel sparks of what I felt for my most beloved books.

But that's, of course, for you to decide: take a peek at the book and then feel free to drop by and let me know what you think!

Aimee Agresti is the author of the young adult novel, ILLUMINATE, and is also an entertainment journalist with ten years of experience writing, editing, and chatting up celebrities. A former staff writer for Us Weekly magazine, she has interviewed everyone from Angelina Jolie and George Clooney to the stars of The Hills, and even penned the magazine’s coffee table book Inside Hollywood.

In addition to Us, her work has appeared in People, Premiere, DC Magazine, The Washington Post, Boston magazine, Women’s Health, Mademoiselle, and the New York Observer. She lives in Washington, DC.

You can find her book, ILLUMINATE--out now!--on Amazon and Goodreads.

Connect with Aimee on her blog and on twitter.

And don't forget to enter to win a ton of amazing prizes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why I Write: Michelle Krys

A while ago (note: before I got a literary agent and way before my book deal), I was having a particularly stressful writing day. You know the kind: everything you write is crap, you can’t think of any good ideas, there isn’t enough coffee in the world to keep you awake, and then just when you think of a brilliant idea, you realize it’s the plot of Twilight. Etc, etc.

So there I was huffing and puffing at the laptop when my husband passed by the room. He asked me ‘Why do you even write if you hate it so much?’

Well. I guessed I wasn’t exactly the picture of a woman enjoying herself…

That got me to thinking. Why do I write? I’d never slept less in my life. Free time was never relaxing, and there was always something I needed to do, if not for my book then for my blog, Twitter, or Facebook (not to mention the many writing forums I belonged to). My unfortunate family had to suffer through me accosting them with plot ideas at all hours of the day and night, and my friends hardly saw me at all. And dammit, I was two seasons behind on True Blood!

I put the laptop away. I was going to Take A Break. For two weeks! There was no need to stress myself out the way I was. Writing was supposed to be fun, and if it wasn’t anymore, I just wasn’t going to do it.


The first night went swimmingly. I watched a movie with my husband and ate a delicious plate of cheesy nachos—my favorite. I only thought about my plot a little (read: a lot)

The next day I went to Chapters and bought a new YA book that I’d wanted to read for ages; I’d make a tea and read it in a hot bath that evening—it was going to be great!

While driving home a song came on the radio. As I terribly sang along, a scene unfolded in my head. A great scene for my book! Then I remembered, oh yeah…I’m on a break.

The drive home continued. I passed the high school near my house and spotted a group of teens hanging out by the bus stop. One of the girls looked just like how I imagined my main character, with a lion’s mane of curly blonde hair and sporting a pair of mean army boots. It gave me a thousand ideas on how I could improve the descriptions of my main character. Except, oh yeah, I was on a break.

Dinner time came. As the onions sautéed on the stove, I thought longingly about my book. I decided, what the hell, I’d just read over the last chapter I’d written, just to remind me how crappy it was and encourage me on my path of Breakage. Only it wasn’t as bad as I recalled. In fact, it was maybe/possibly/kind of good…

A disturbing find.

I put my son to bed and poured myself a hot bath, my new book in hand. The book didn’t disappoint. In fact, if I recall correctly, it was amazing! (I wish I could remember which amazing book exactly it was). So why, then, couldn’t I enjoy it? With every amazing sentence I read, I found myself actually getting more and more anxious. I didn’t get it. I’d always continued reading while I wrote my books, and never had I been borderline angry whilst enjoying myself. Then it struck me: because reading a great book was the ultimate challenge for me to be a better writer.

I couldn’t fight it anymore. I got out of the bath and pulled out the laptop.

Some break that was.

So why do I write, you ask? Because that song was great. Because that teenager wore a cool outfit. Because that book was amazing. Because it only appears I hate writing. Because I actually love it with all my heart. And because I have to.

Note: It’s much easier to remember why I write now. I just look over my shoulder at the book deal tacked to my corkboard J

Michelle Krys is the author of the YA urban fantasy, 'The Witch Hunter's Bible', tentatively slated for publication with Delacorte/Random House Spring 2014. She is represented by Adriann Ranta at Wolf Literary.

Connect with Michelle!
 Blog ||  Facebook  |||  Twitter  |||  Goodreads ||| Website

Tell us why YOU write in the comments!

And check out below to win A LOT of really awesome prizes. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Why I Write: Author Round-up

This week starts three weeks here on Tangled with authors and writer's talking about the thing that connects us: writing! Why we write, what it means to us and what happens when we're not writing. It's going to be three weeks of long adventures and great stories. (And if that's not enough, we're also going to have an epic giveaway at the end of the three weeks. Right now, we're still finalizing all the prizes--but you can start entering now.)

We're excited to host fantastic authors!

I write because there is no better way to get complex emotions outside of me. Also, because I owe it to my Minions. 
The Chronicles of Vladmir Todd, The Slayer Chronicles, Soulbound 

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I write because I LOVE to create, salivate over words, & thirst for stories. 

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I write because ever since I first learned how to read, it was my favorite thing to do; and during some difficult times in my life, escaping into a book was the one way I could get away. So I don't write to send a message, so much as to provide people with an immersive reading experience. I have no problem with the label "escapist fiction" - that's exactly what I'm trying to do. 
~Leah Cypess

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Writing is something I've always done. It's part of me. It gives me a creative outlet and keeps me from going crazy. Writing is the best thing that's ever happened to me because of the people it's brought into my life and for that, I will always do it. Plus, it's FUN. 

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 I write because I want teenagers to feel hopeful about life, love, friendship, and the future. 
Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker

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I write because I'm addicted to the high of solving the puzzle, of that moment when the narrative pieces click into place, and what's in front of you ceases to be scenes and becomes a story. 
The Near Witch, The Archived (2013) 

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Thanks to all these fantastic people for offering up a piece of why they write. Tune in for the rest of April to hear from more authors and writers on why they do what they do! 

Click "Read More" to enter the giveaway if it does not show up below!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Next Week

Everyone has this story of how they started writing---or how writing started on them. There's a reason, a journey, a way. 

There has to be because otherwise, all the distractions and the quitting and the waiting in this journey would surely, surely, be enough to make us stop writing altogether.

So for the rest of April, we've called on some other authors to help us out to talk about WHY I WRITE. 

Maybe, from their stories, you'll find a little bit of your own.

AND if that's not cool enough, we're putting together an a prize pack of swag and books from these authors and more. All you have to do is comment--because each comment you leave, each time you tweet, you get another entry. Every day.

The prizes will be announced on Monday. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Goodbye Barren Wasteland

Back in January I finished my last WIP and spent about a month tinkering with that manuscript even though it was supposed to be complete. I either just wasn't ready to move on, or I knew that the piece needed more work. It's likely a bit of both.

In February, Danielle and I went on an amazing writing retreat with a few other lovely authors and I wrote 7K that weekend on a new project that I really liked the idea of. It was coming together in my head and I enjoyed writing it once I got into a groove. Over the next few weeks I tinkered with the new project, but never really got back into the mood for it. 

Which leads us to March, which was an almost barren month of writing for me. I did lots of critique reading and lots of review reading, but almost no writing at all. It killed me. It killed my mood and if you're a writer, you probably know how it feels when you have a hiatus in GOOD writing time. It's depressing and makes me doubt myself like never before. Even after having written two full books, I began to doubt my ability to write. Maybe I didn't have the skills after all. Maybe I don't have what it takes. These thoughts rolled like a slideshow through my head, wrecking havoc every time they passed through. 

Then comes Thursday, March 29th. Seems like any ordinary day on the calendar. There's really nothing that special about it. Except for me, it was the day a new idea hit me. And, it wasn't just any idea. In truth, it was hardly an idea at all. It was nothing more than a title. The thing is, though, it wouldn't let go of me. I couldn't shake that there was something good behind that title, that there was a story that I just had to write in it somewhere. I just needed to flesh it out.

I obsessed over it for the next few days and eventually had another piece of the story. A girl and her ability. But, still, that was it. I had two small kernels, and nothing more. So, I did what anyone with a great critique partner does, I called Danielle. Together, in less than ten minutes, we'd completely fleshed out this girl's story and the result is so, so, so exciting. The story that I now have in my head, is one that I'm completely consumed with and cannot wait to write. 

I love it. I love it. I love it. 

And, who knows, maybe it's not this amazing story that I think it's going to be. The thing that makes me the happiest is that I have something I'm beyond excited to write, all feels right in the world again, and most importantly, I believe in myself once more.