Taken By Storm Contest # 1: Mid-Day Update
fate
jenlyn_b
There’s six and a half hours left to go in the contest, and so far, we’ve got about seven hundred entries! You can follow the twitter hash tag here:

https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23TakenbyStorm

And for your pleasure, a sampling of what you will find there…

THE FRESH WEREWOLF OF BEL AIR (I am *this close* to rewriting the Fresh Prince rap to include a bunch of werewolves)

THE WEREWOLF BRIDE and A WEREWOLF CALLED DESIRE (Given that I’ve been obsessively reading Regency romances lately, these make me wish that “werewolf regency” was a popular subgenre)

REBEL WITHOUT A WEREWOLF and WEREWOLF WITHOUT A CAUSE (The latter is probably a better book title, but I keep picturing a drawing a dozen or so rebels, all of whom have a werewolf but one)

THE SWISS FAMILY WEREWOLF (And now I’m picturing Bryn, Devon, Lily, and the twins trapped on a deserted island…Bwahahaha!)

Taken By Storm: Contest # 1
fate
jenlyn_b
YOUR CHALLENGE, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT…

Take the title of a famous movie, television show, or book and replace ONE of the words in the title with the word “werewolf.”

EXAMPLE: Gone with the Wind —-> Gone with the Werewolf (or, if you prefer Werewolf with the Wind).

TO ENTER…

On twitter: hashtag your entries with #TakenByStorm

On tumblr, reblog this post and then add your entries.

On facebook or your blog (or wherever else you choose to play), link your entries to this contest and leave a comment HERE so that I can find them.



WHAT: A chance to win one of five finished copies of TAKEN BY STORM that we are giving out in advance of its release in (*mental countdown*)… sixteen days.

WHEN: From the moment this entry is posted and running until 11 PM Eastern Standard Time on Monday, May 7th.

WHO: Anyone can play, but since the prizes are being provided by my US publisher, they can only be shipped to a US or Canadian address.

HOW MANY: Unlimited entries. One winner, to be announced sometime Monday night after the contest has closed.

I LEAVE YOU WITH THIS…


TAKEN BY STORM giveaways
fate
jenlyn_b
TAKEN BY STORM, the third book in the RAISED BY WOLVES series, is coming out in (*checks calendar*) just eighteen days!



Up until this point, the number of people who’ve read Taken By Storm is incredibly limited: my US and UK editors, the copy editor, one or two writing friends, and potentially a handful of other people directly involved with the book in some way.

There were no Advanced Readers Copies for Taken By Storm.

Even now that the finished copies are in, my publisher has not been giving them away for review.

My mom has not even read it yet.

There are reasons for that.

One reason is that my editor and I knew that this book would, in many ways, be a conclusion to the plot lines, questions, and character arcs that started in the first two. I can’t say for sure that this is the last book I’ll ever write about Bryn, but I can say that I would be happy with it as a finale if it were—and that wouldn’t have been the case if we’d rushed to put out advanced copies in the months leading up to release.

And the second reason that so few people have read the book early is because…well… it’s a conclusion to many of the plot lines, questions, and character arcs of the first two books, and we didn’t want too many spoilers floating around before the book hit shelves.

However, now that we are in the final countdown to release, my publisher and I wanted a way to thank readers and bloggers who have been invested in the series. So we’re lifting our embargo. Next week (May 7-11), I’ll be giving away at least one copy of the book every day, Monday through Friday. Since my publisher assures me that the books will be mailed promptly after each contest, that means that some of you will get the chance to read the book before it starts showing up on shelves.

Here’s how it works. Around midnight on Sunday, I will announce the first contest, which will run until roughly 11 PM on Monday. Shortly thereafter, I’ll announce the winner…and the next contest. As soon as the winner contacts me, my publisher will pop a copy of TAKEN BY STORM in the mail.

The contests will not involve you buying anything. They also will not involve following me on twitter or liking my facebook or any such thing. They will hopefully be easy to enter and also fun.

One of them might involve stuffed animals.

Stay tuned until Sunday night, when I’ll announce the first contest! And if you happen to have ideas for simple, fun, and crazy ways to give away books, comment, email, or hit the ask button on tumblr and let me know…


On Self-Doubt (and the battling thereof)
fate
jenlyn_b
Over on my tumblr, someone asked me if I had any tips for fighting self-doubt when you first start writing/submitting/getting rejections. My answer ended up being pretty long, so I thought I'd cross post for the LJ crowd.

***


I have a few tricks for battling self-doubt, depending on what the exact situation/problem is. As always, other people’s mileage may vary.

Situation: I’m writing a book, and I’m not sure that it’s any good. Woe, I say. Woe.

My Trick: In the words of my good friend Ally Carter, “The first draft doesn’t have to be right. It just has to be written.” At this point in the process, I focus on FINISHING the book, and I say to my doubts “Come bug me when this draft is done, and then we’ll talk.”

Maybe what I’m writing really does suck. Maybe I won’t ever publish this book. Maybe I will finish it and PUT IT IN A DRAWER AND NEVER LOOK AT IT AGAIN. But maybe, after I’m finished, I’ll realize that some of my negative feelings were feelings about the process (WRITING IS HARD) and not about the words on the page. Or maybe, once I finish the book, I can put aside for a little while, then look at it with fresh eyes and figure out how to make it better. I can have someone I trust look at it with a critical eye. I can tear it apart and sew it back together again.

But first, it has to be written.*

* This is my process. It’s not everyone’s. Part of being a writer is learning what works for you!



Situation: The book is done. It’s revised. I have done everything I possibly can, put every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears I have into it…but a little voice in the back of my head whispers “what if it’s still not good?”

What if…(gulp)…I’m just not that good of a writer?

My trick: I think there are good questions to ask yourself and bad questions to ask yourself. I think “What kinds of books am I best at writing?” and “What are my strengths and weaknesses?” and “How can I improve?” are all good questions. But personally, I find “is this good?” a whole lot less useful than “is this as good as I can possibly make it?”

Maybe the book is good and maybe it’s not, but if it’s as good as I can make it, I move on to the next project, because objectively, there are four possibilities at this point:

1. It is as good as I can make it, but it’s still not good.

2. It is as good as I can make it, and it is good.

3. It is not as good as I can make it, and it is not good.

4. It is not as good as I can make it, but it is still good.

If you’re in situations 3 or 4, then whether or not it’s “good,” all you as a writer need to be focusing on is making it better, because why would you want to do something that’s not your best? And if you’re in situations 1 or 2, then whether or not it’s good, there’s nothing you can really do about it, because it’s already as good as you can make it. If your book is written and revised to the absolute best of your current ability, and it’s still not good, then your only options are (a) give up and throw in the towel on writing altogether, or (b) move on to write another book, improving as a writer in the process.

I thought about this a lot when I was working toward publication, and I decided there just wasn’t any utility in wondering if I was a good writer. At the end of the day, no matter how good I was (or was not) at writing, sitting around and pondering that question wasn’t going to make me any better. Starting the next book, challenging myself, focusing on the craft, and trying to improve would.

So my second trick is that once a book is as good as I can possibly make it, I let it go and move on.

And then I start writing the next book.

Situation: The book is out there in the world. People are reading it. They are reviewing it! And some of them hate it! What if they’re right? What if it isn’t any good?

Trick: This is one of those times when I find the slow-moving nature of the publishing industry to be a good thing. By the time a book comes out, I’m already knee-deep in the next one. As a writer, I learn by writing. By reading. By challenging myself and thinking about story. By revising. So by the time a book comes out, if things are on track, I am already a better writer than I was when I wrote it. If I sat down to write that exact same book today, I’d do a better job at it. I have learned so much since then! Hind-sight is 20/20! That book I loved and pushed myself on and MADE THE VERY BEST I COULD has flaws.

But…I know I did the best I could at the time I wrote the book. I gave it everything I had, and flaws and all, that’s something worth being proud of. And knowing I could do it better now? Realizing that there are things in the book that I would change? That means I am learning. I am improving and growing and concentrating on the future. And that’s a good thing.

(Side note: I know the question was about self-doubt prior to publishing, but I thought it might be worth pointing out that it’s something published authors feel, too. The things that help me now are the same things that helped me when I was getting rejections left and right.)

Situation: No, seriously. ”Write the next book” isn’t a panacea. So what if you’re trying and getting better and all that…what if you still aren’t that good, Jen? What if, no matter how hard you try, you will NEVER BE GOOD? *existential malaise*

My Trick: Now we’re not talking about doubts or worries about a book, or even a group of books. This is something bigger, and it can be overwhelming.

So this is what I do.

I remind myself that writing is something I do. It is not the sum total of who I am. I am a writer, but I am also a sister and a daughter and a friend and a scientist and a million other things. I am smart and I am nice and I am loved. And if it turns out that writing makes me miserable, if there ever comes a day when the misery of doubt outweighs the joy of writing…

I don’t have to do it anymore.

I think it’s important in life to do things that make you happy, to find joy wherever you can take it. I love writing, but if I decided not to publish anymore, I’d still be me. So my best advice if you’re feeling this kind of doubt is to build a life for yourself outside of writing, and if you reach the point where writing-doubts are screaming in your brain and won’t stop, get out of the house. Get away from the computer screen. Do something nice for someone you love. And remind yourself that you are more than words on a page.

TV, Tumblr, and More
fate
jenlyn_b
Confession: I have been a somewhat delinquent blogger for at least a year now. Part of that is due to my love of Twitter. Part of that is due to the fact that I am working on my dissertation.

But.

I have now discovered tumblr. It is easy to upload photos! And videos! And link to other journal entries! Somehow, that has inspired me to start writing blogs again. I will attempt to cross-post the more text-y entries at some point, but if you want to read the whole thing (including an announcement about the Squad TV show, a picture of me wearing the the pajants, and what I suspect will soon be an obnoxious number of pictures of baby werewolves), you can check it out yourself here.

In the meantime, a cross-posted entry...

MY TOP FIVE TV DOPPLEGANGERS


If I were talking about characters who were, in canon, dopplegangers, this list would obviously read “Katherine, Katherine, Katherine, Elena, Katherine.” But I’m actually talking about actors who’ve played more than one iconic TV role, to the extent that it confuses my poor little Jen-Brain for at least a season and a half of the new show.

1. Isabel Evans (Roswell) and Izzy Stevens (Grey’s Anatomy).

The first time I sat down to watch Grey’s Anatomy, I went “Hey, that’s the girl who played Isabel on Roswell!” And then I discovered that Katherine Heigl’s Grey’s character was named…Izzy. As in Isabel/Isobel/however-you-want-to-spell-it-it’s-still-the-same-name. I spent the whole first season expecting her to dreamwalk or show signs of telekinesis.

2. Damon Salvatore (Vampire Diaries) and Boon Carlyle (Lost)

I watched these two shows in reverse order: I had two seasons of Vampire Diaries under my belt before I ever watched LOST, which was really disconcerting, because watching Ian Somerhalder go from Delightfully Evil With Eyebrows of Sarcasm to being a super-eager former lifeguard with puppy dog eyes was downright disturbing.

3. Charlie Salinger (Party of Five) and Jack Shepard (Lost)

Really, I could have filled the majority of this list with characters from Lost. The whole reason I started watching it was that my understanding of the premise was “Charlie from Party of Five, Damon from Vampire Diaries, and Tess from Roswell are stuck on a deserted island…”

Seriously, though, the Charlie/Jack duality made it really hard for me to wrap my mind around Lost season 1, because every time someone said “Charlie,” I started looking for Jack.

4. Pacey Witter (Dawson’s Creek) and Peter Bishop (Fringe)

Four seasons in, and my friends and I *still* refer to Peter as “Pacey.”

5. Angel (Buffy) and Booth (Bones)

The first time I saw David Boreanaz goofing off and smiling on Bones, it really and truly freaked me out. He’s the LEAST broody person on the show. But eventually, I stopped waiting for Buffy to show up and hopped on the Booth/Brennan train.

And that’s it for my top five! Feel free to add your own…

Fall TV
fate
jenlyn_b
In the grand tradition of procrastination, I have spent the last fifteen minutes trying to figure out which shows I'm going to Tivo this fall, and in what order. In addition to all of my returning fare, I also have a slew of new shows that I am going to try (though they will probably be culled swiftly and mercilessly once I watch the first few episodes).

So, for your perusal, here's my list (also entitlted "Jen Watches Too Much TV").

New Sitcoms I Want to Try

2 BROKE GIRLS: Because I love Kat Dennings. (Side Note: Kat Dennings was the best part of the Thor movie. Or, at the very least, tied with "Thor's Abs").

NEW GIRL: The previews look funny, and it stars Zoe Deschanel.

New Dramas

RINGER: (1) It revolves around twins, (2) those twins are played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, (3) the guy who played Baze in LIFE UNEXPECTED also stars, (4) murder mystery mayhem. Also, the mob.

SECRET CIRCLE: Again, a numbered list. (1) Brought to you by the people responsible for Vampire Diaries, (2) Starring Luxe from LIFE UNEXPECTED, (3) about teenage witches, and back in the day, I was totally into CHARMED.

HART OF DIXIE: Summer from THE OC is a big city doctor moving to tiny Southern town. I don't think that I have to unpack the awesomeness inherent in that sentence.

THE LYING GAME: See above, re: twins. Also, I'm really digging ABC Family right now.

TERRA NOVA: I'm not entirely certain, but I believe this may be about people living in a future so horrendous that they solve the Great Post-Apocalyptic Dilemma by hopping into a time machine and settling in prehistoric times. Family drama AND velociraptos? I'm IN.

UNFORGETTABLE: A police procedural about a cop with a perfect memory. I like police procedurals. Also, I miss LIE TO ME. This may not have cognitive scientists solving crime, but you know, memory is cognitive.

REVENGE: Based on the Count of Monte Cristo, set in the Hamptons. Basically, Amy from Everwood (more recently of Brothers and Sisters) moves to the Hamptons and starts killing people as revenge for something they did to her dad. Murder and mayhem, with an actress I like. SOLD!

PERSON OF INTEREST: I know next to nothing about this one, except that JJ Abrams was involved. Having just recently gotten into both LOST and FRINGE, that alone piques my interest.

GRIMM: Police procedural. But set in some kind of fairy tale world. I am unclear on the details, but am always a fan of genre blending.

ONCE UPON A TIME: Another fairy tale drama. Cameron from HOUSE stars, alongside Ginnifer Goodwin. Drawing comparisons to LOST (mainly because the writers are LOST alums). Did I mention that I've been obsessed with LOST lately?


***

So what are you guys watching this fall?

Four Things
fate
jenlyn_b
Thing the First: I will be at the American Library Association annual conference in New Orleans this weekend. I'll be signing TRIAL BY FIRE at the Egmont booth on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. If you're there, come by and say hi!

Thing the Second: At ALA, I will also be getting up super early to go to a breakfast with a handful of librarians, one of whom shares my EXACT SAME NAME. It's going to be just like Will Grayson, Will Grayson...except, you know, in New Orleans, with librarians and YA enthusiasts named Jennifer. But hopefully, things will still culminate in a one-of-a-kind musical.

Thing the Third: I am now caught up on THE VOICE. I am firmly and totally committed to TEAM BLAKE. I really enjoy Dia's performances, but I have downloaded three of Xenia's songs on iTunes, and they hold up well against the "can I listen to it fifty times in a row?" test. And also, Blake's obvious adoration for both girls strikes me as both sincere and ADORABLE.

Thing the Fourth: This week, I read THE DEMON'S SURRENDER by Sarah Rees Brennan. Being the sucker that I am for stories about FAMILY (not to mention quirky and sarcastic humor and punch-packing plot twists), I loved. This trilogy = three books with three different protagonists, all of whom love their families intensely and would do anything for their siblings. I could talk about the language or the world building or the plot, but at the end of the day, I am a sucker for how far all of these characters would go for their sister/brother(s).

Trial By Fire--CONTEST
fate
jenlyn_b
UPDATED: The contest is now closed. Thanks for everyone who entered. The random number generator has spoken and the winner is Dani Nguyen. Congrats, Dani!

To celebrate the serial release of the first four chapters of TRIAL BY FIRE, I'm giving away a PRIZE PACK. Included in this Prize Pack are:

1.. An advance copy of ENTHRALLED, a paranormal anthology edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong, in which Rachel, Carrie, Sarah Rees Brennan, and I all have stories!

2. TWO (2) YA books of YOUR CHOICE by any of the authors hosting chapters (Ally Carter, Sarah Rees Brennan, Carrie Ryan, and Rachel Vincent). Choice is limited to books that are released by the end of this month, as I do not have the magical powers necessary to obtain other books for you.

3. Four books from my lovely publisher, Egmont USA, including SIREN by Tricia Rayburn and an advanced copy of its sequel, UNDERCURRENT; a paperback of SHADOW HILLS by Anastasia Hopcus, and an advanced copy of THE MEPHISTO COVENANT by Trinity Fagan.

Edited to Add: Egmont has also thrown in a copy of THE DARK DIVINE by Bree Despain!

To enter to win the 8-Book prize pack, you can:
1. Link to any or all of the chapters as they go up, the original blog entry announcing the chapter trail, or to the contest itself (AKA THIS PAGE). One entry per blog/tweet/link.
2. Twitter about the Raised By Wolves series using the hashtag #TrialByFire (one entry per tweet)
3. Read and comment on the individual chapters as they go up. (one entry per comment; limited to 1 comment expressing your thoughts, and 5 comments responding to OTHER PEOPLE'S comments on each of the 4 chapters)
3. Post a new review online of ANY of the books written by the hosting authors. (one entry per review posted per place you post it)
4. Pre-order, review, or blog about TRIAL BY FIRE or RAISED BY WOLVES. (one entry per review or blog, TEN ENTRIES for pre-ordering).

There's no limit to the number of entries--just leave a separate comment on THIS BLOG ENTRY, detailing each one. Winner will be randomly chosen on TRIAL BY FIRE'S release day. Contest open in US/Canada only.

UPDATE: Chapter One is Live on Ally Carter's Blog, here: http://allycarter.com/blog/trial-fire Let the contest BEGIN!

UPDATE 2: Chapter Two is Live on Sarah Rees Brennan's blog here: http://sarahtales.livejournal.com/187354.html

UPDATE 3: Chapter Three is Live on Carrie Ryan's blog here: http://carrie-me.blogspot.com/2011/06/trial-by-fire-chapter-3.html

UPDATE 4: Chapter Four is now up on Rachel Vincent's blog here: http://rkvincent.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/trial-by-fire-ch-4-and-giveaway/

TRIAL BY FIRE--CHAPTER TRAIL
fate
jenlyn_b
To celebrate the release of TRIAL BY FIRE (which you can pre-order here, here, or here), my publisher, Egmont USA, and I are offering readers a sneak peak into the book. Over the next few days, you'll be able to read the first four chapters of TRIAL BY FIRE on four different author blogs.



On Friday, Ally Carter will be hosting chapter one on her blog. Ally, in addition to being the person who locks me in a closet when I am on deadline and helps me find NYC donuts at midnight, is the author of the Gallagher Girls series, about girls who go to a boarding school for spies, and the Heist Society series, which is a teen Ocean's Eleven. Having read the second Heist Society book (UNCOMMON CRIMINALS, due out later this month), I can tell you that it's even better than the first one. Having been Ally's sounding board while she's been working on the fifth Gallagher Girls book, I can tell you that it is going to BLOW YOUR MIND.

On Saturday, the indomitable Sarah Rees Brennan will host chapter two of TRIAL BY FIRE on her blog. I've made no secret of my love of Sarah's first two books, THE DEMON'S LEXICON and THE DEMON'S COVENANT. They were both among my top ten reads in the year they were released. Full of action, humor, shocking plot twists, and just plain darn good writing, these books are flat-out amazing. The third book, The Demon's Surrender, is due out the same day as TRIAL BY FIRE. To celebrate our mutual release day and the flames on our covers, SRB and I have been discussing lighting stuff aflame, much to the horror of everyone else on Twitter.

On Sunday, Carrie Ryan will host chapter three on her blog. Carrie is the author of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES. I don't know how she manages to do it, but somehow, she writes the zombie apocalypse in a way that is vivid, lush, romantic, and terrifying, all at once. Book three, The Dark and Hollow Places was out in March.

And finally, on Monday, Rachel Vincent will be hosting the fourth chapter of Trial By Fire on her blog. I first discovered Rachel through her adult werecat series, starting with STRAY. She's one of the reasons I fell in love with Weres in the first place and was a major inspiration as I was writing the Raised By Wolves series. She is also the author of the young adult SOUL SCREAMERS series, about a teenage banshee. As the series has progressed, Rachel has put the characters through hell (sometimes literally!) and the world of the books has exploded. You can check out the most recent entry into the series, MY SOUL TO STEAL, here.

Throughout the next few days, I'll be uploading this entry with links to the specific chapters as they go up. Thank you so much to everyone who's hosting!

Letters: TV Edition
fate
jenlyn_b
Dear Switched at Birth,

I watched your premiere last night and really enjoyed it. I'm a sucker for complicated family situations, and Katie Leclerc (who plays Daphne) is absolutely, positively charming. I'll be interested to see how this season develops.

Sincerely,

Jen

~*~

Dear Kelly Parker,

You are a much better sometimes-antagonist than Lauren Tanner is, and I hope that if MAKE IT OR BREAK IT gets another season, we'll see you replacing Emily as a main character. I also hope that your mom is mysteriously abducted by aliens, paving the way for you to be adopted by Chloe Kmetko. Is that too much to ask?

Love,

Jen

~*~


Dear Criminal Minds,

I am now up to the middle of season 5 on DVD. My reading of various hollywood news sites has informed me that I am getting ready to see the team broken up, and that specifically, there will be fewer awesome ladies to go around in season six. You are breaking my tiny Jen heart (though I'm glad to see this issue has hopefully been resolved for season seven).

-Jen

~*~


Dear Sarah Cross,

Darn you! You got me totally hooked on THE VOICE.

At first, I was just interested because that episode you made me watch in New York featured Taylor and Tori Thompson, who were on the kids' version of American Idol, back in the day (along with Lucy Hale, of Pretty Little Liars fame). But then I started catching up on the old episodes on hulu, and now I am addicted. It was so nice in the audition rounds to see many fewer broken hearts, a lot of compassion and respect for the singers, and a lot of people's dreams coming true. And also, I love the interplay between the judges and also the fact that they are all singers themselves.

But now I have one more show to watch, and I am blaming it all on you. I know this was your evil plan ALL ALONG.

-Jen

~*~


Dear Peter Bishop,

I am only on season two of FRINGE, but I'm kind of in love with you. Do not let the fact that I constantly refer to you as "Pacey" or "Hot Pacey" distract you from my adoration. Seriously. It's not you. It's me.

XOXO,

Jen

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