Monday, October 31, 2011

And We Have Some Winners!!

Happy Halloween!!!

Sorry I'm running late tonight. My family decided to give out dollar bills to the trick-or-treaters and you wouldn't believe how stressful that can become. We had parents claiming they had children using the restroom (not sure how that works when you're out in a strange neighborhood)...then sending these restroom children to the door again.. Seriously. It's a dollar bill. You're not going to get rich. I was so glad when we closed the door. Next year, the kids are getting Nerds. I'm putting my foot down. lol

Anyway--Halloween has been a blast for the most part. I got wild and crazy and decided NOT to wear a "Slutty ------" costume. No, I got all kinds o' nerdy and dressed up as Where's Waldo? Hey, I won first place in the costume contest at work. It rocked, even if it is nerdy. :) I'd post a pic...but yeah, no. LOL.

Other than that, I'm trying to get caught up on a few random things before NaNo officially kicks off tomorrow. My local writing group is having a write-in tonight at midnight, but I'm thinking I'm going to have to pass. That's just too late, and I'm already exhausted. Oh but I do miss the days when I wouldn't have blinked an eye at the idea of starting a social event at midnight. These days, not so much. :)

ON TO THE GOOD NEWS!!! We officially have some winners of the paperback editions of BY THE PALE MOONLIGHT!! And they are:

BETH and BRIDGET!!! Whooot whooo!!! Congratulations, ladies!

You win this:

If you email me at

jnhendren @ yahoo dot com with your snail addys, I'll get them sent out to you asap.

Happy Halloween everyone! Thanks for playing along. :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Little Help From My Friends

Well, the good news I have to report is that I've officially submitted the paperback edition of BY THE PALE MOONLIGHT for acceptance. At this point, it will take another day or two for the publisher to review it...then, if everything is on the up and up, I'll receive a sample copy to make sure there aren't any snafus in the final hard copy...and then BAM. I give the approval, and it will go on sale.

So YAY. I'm so close to finishing up the "logistics" for book 1. And you know what that means... I can go full blast on book 2. Which I'm SO excited about.

These past few weeks have been so unbelievably crazy. There are so many little things that you have to think about when you self-publish. jackets...cover bios, blah blah blah. It's just so much. I've felt overwhelmed more times than I can count. And that's where my friends have really stepped in to help. I can't begin to explain how thankful I am.

For each and every person who took the time to read my book and offer suggestions--be it big picture issues or simple copy edits.. THANK YOU.

For my friends who have taken on things like book covers, and book trailers, and the website (YES--I'm going to have a website!)...THANK YOU. You've gone above and beyond and it truly touches me that you believe in me so much that you're willing to put up with my.. Can you move the title down a smidge?...What if we tried it this way?... and all of my other zany demands...THANK YOU.

For those of you who have simply said to me, "Jen, what can I do to help?" Thank you.

It's a scary/exciting process to put myself out there. Just knowing I have support--that I'm not alone--means the world.

There are some exciting things coming up soon--I'll keep y'all in the loop. When I know, you will too. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And the Winners Are...



Coleen Patrick!!!

YAY, congrats, Ladies!

Please email me at jnhendren at yahoo dot com, letting me know which digital format you would like. Nook, Kindle, or any of those listed on Smashwords.

Didn't win? That's okay. All entries roll over to the paperback editions I'll give away on Halloween night! Just as a reminder, here are the contest rules:

There are many, many ways you can enter:

1. Blog/Facebook/Tweet, etc. about the contest, providing a link to this post (or the twin post over at Random Thoughts). You can earn yourself one entry for every time you do this. Go wild. :)

2. Embed my book trailer, found HERE, in on your blog/Facebook/Twitter.

3. Post a comment here, telling me what YOU love about young adult books. If you've never read one, that's okay--it's never too late to start. :)

4. This pertains more to the second leg of the contest, but if you post a book review of By the Pale Moonlight before Halloween, you will be entered into the drawing for a paperback.

5. And this one is just for fun. The full moon is this Wednesday, the 12th. If you snap a photo of it from wherever in the world you are and send me the link, you can be entered yet again. (The full moon has passed, but feel free to snap a picture of the moon any night from now until all counts.)

Last step is posting here or at RT, telling me what you've done to enter. Please post links--I promise to check out each and every one. :)

Again, congrats Gretchen and Coleen! :)

By the Pale Moonlight Is Now Available!

It's here! It's here! :)

Barnes and Noble

If you don't have an eReader and would like to purchase a copy, never fear. All of these sites have free eReaders that you can download to your PC or smart phone. If you have any trouble, just let me know. Thanks!

I'll be announcing other distributors as they come available. And soon, very soon..the paperback editions will be available!

Go forth and spread the word. :)

And it's not too late to enter into the CONTEST to win one of two free digital copies. You have until 6PM TONIGHT. At that time, I'll announce the winners... Never fear, though. All entries roll over into the next leg--winners to be announced on Halloween night. At that time, I'll be giving away two copies of the paperback edition. So JOIN NOW. Enter as many times as you can. :)

WHOOT!!! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

By the Pale Moonlight Giveaway!!

It's here. IT'S REALLY HERE!!

By The Pale Moonlight has finally arrived!

The official release date: October 18th, 2011!

Digital downloads will be available from Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Amazon, with print copies to follow soon after. (I will post all necessary links once things go live.)

I can't tell you how excited I am for this moment. To give you a little history, I wrote this book back in my law school days. In fact, I believe I started it when I should have been studying for mid-terms... OOPS. (Don't tell my old profs.)

At the time, I had my first novel, FAKING IT, out on submission with agents, and BTPM was a way of taking my mind off the process. As they say, when you're worried about one project, throw yourself into another. And that's exactly what I did. I pounded out a major chunk of the book in November and completed it that spring. All in all, I finished the first draft of the book in about three weeks (total). What can I say? It came to me fast and furious when I actually had time to work on it. :)

To put it simply: Writing Young Adult had me at hello.

There's something so compelling and immediate about the world of teenagers. While I love writing for adults, there will always be a special place in my heart for YA. It's my first love.

So, there I was with a finished book...that was what...four years ago? Longer? (Where does the time go?) Yes, it's been a long time between the finished first draft and today. What can I say? Real life has a way of throwing a lot of obstacles in the road, and for one reason or another, BTPM kept being put on the back burner.

It was always there, though...and I knew without a doubt that it should be shared with the world. And earlier this year, I decided to do exactly that. So, to help celebrate this moment, I've decided to do a GIVEAWAY!!

*You get a book, you get a book, and YOU get a book!!*

Here's how it works:

There are two legs to this contest:

On the official release date, October 18th, I will giveaway TWO digital copies of By the Pale Moonlight--your choice of format. If you don't win, NEVER fear.. all entries will roll over to the next drawing, which will take place on:

Halloween, when I will giveaway TWO paperback editions.

There are many, many ways you can enter:

1. Blog/Facebook/Tweet, etc. about the contest, providing a link to this post (or the twin post over at All the World's Our Page. You can earn yourself one entry for every time you do this. Go wild. :)

2. Embed my book trailer, found HERE, in on your blog/Facebook/Twitter.

3. Post a comment here, telling me what YOU love about young adult books. If you've never read one, that's okay--it's never too late to start. :)

4. This pertains more to the second leg of the contest, but if you post a book review of By the Pale Moonlight before Halloween, you will be entered into the drawing for a paperback.

5. And this one is just for fun. The full moon is this Wednesday, the 12th. If you snap a photo of it from wherever in the world you are and send me the link, you can be entered yet again.

Last step is posting here or at RT, telling me what you've done to enter. Please post links--I promise to check out each and every one. :)

I can't tell you how excited I am for Tuesday to get here. And nervous. I really hope you love my characters and story as much I do. :)

Thank you all, and good luck!!

And if you have no clue what book I've been going on about, check out the trailer...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Balancing Critiques

One necessary part of the writing process is sending out your manuscript to beta readers. No matter how good a story may be in your mind, there's no real way of knowing how it will be received until you put it to the test with real live readers. Plus, no matter how many times you go over your manuscript, there's simply a point when you become blinded to its flaws. I've referred to this as living inside the monkey house. It's always best to find out if that manuscript you believe is the complete shiznit...well, isn't in reality just a big pile o' shit.

In the best case scenario, you'll find a well-balanced group of peeps to send it out to. People that have different pet peeves, ensuring they will come back with unique perspectives--point out a myriad of different things that will help round out your manuscript. Worse case scenario--you send it out to a group of people who fail to come back with any kind of constructive criticism. Let's face it. No work is ever perfect--no matter how good. If you receive nothing but positive accolades -- well, first off -- CONGRATULATIONS!! I'm jealous beyond measure. (I can't even begin to tell you how jealous that actually is. LOL.) But most of us are pretty human, and if nothing else, typos will be caught--awkward sentences squashed out of existence, plot holes filled.

Critiques can be a double-edged sword at times, tho. What one reader determines as a problem area, another will take no issue with. In the end, you may be left wondering who's right. Perhaps you see the merits of both sides--so you don't know what the heck you should do.

Well, I wish there was an easy answer to this dilemma. There isn't. Sometimes you simply have to take a step away from the manuscript for a while--come back to it with the two opposing opinions in the back of your mind. A quick read through may highlight one as the better way for you to take your work... then again, it may not. Sometimes, whether or not we have the confidence to make the determination--it simply comes down to a matter of opinion.

When in doubt, I say, TRUST YOURSELF.

It's a scary thing, that. Trusting yourself. No one wants to admit out loud that they've ignored someone's advice because they believe HIS/HER way is better. It sort of comes off as asshole-ish, doesn't it? You've asked your readers for opinions, they gave them, and in the end, you decided to disregard what they had to say on a particular point. I know we all send out critiques with the caveat that the writer can take or leave our comments... but do we really want to be ignored? NO. WE are right.

Well, the truth one is really right or wrong in this situation. Reading is a subjective experience. What may rub one reader the wrong way will totally tickle the fancy of another. This is a NO WIN game. You're never going to be able to please everyone. The only thing you CAN control is satisfying yourself and feeling confident that you've analyzed and broken down each and every comment and taken or discarded all of them in the vein of trying to make your book the best it can be.

It's a hard line to draw, but it's one we all need to make.

Just remember that if you send out calls for beta readers that you should and need to give each and every comment due respect. A person took a lot of time out of their schedule to read for you--and the comments they made are important enough for them to include them in a critique. You may feel the urge to immediately dismiss a particular point as outright WRONG for your book, but I would recommend taking a step back and coming back to it later. Maybe it will hold more water after you've taken a break. Then again, maybe not.


Happy writing, everyone.

BY THE PALE MOONLIGHT is going to go up for sale on October 18th!!! That's only --9-- days from now!!! WHOOT WHOO!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Self vs. Traditional Publishing -- It's All A The Roll Of The Dice

My peep, Kristen Callihan tweeted a link to this article by Chuck Wendig today. View the full article, HERE. In it, he discusses the idea that rather than focusing on the sales/money that can and is being made in self-publication, we, as storytellers need to focus more on telling good stories. That's why we're all in this business to begin with, right?

I know the whole traditional vs. self-publishing thing is a hot button right now. There are people on both sides who are completely convinced that choosing one path over the other may equate to writer-cide. (Erm, read: death of your writing career by way of foolhardy decision making.) When one does well in traditional, THAT is the path you should take... when a bestseller comes from the independent side, THAT is the path you should choose.

What Wendig said is correct--it's a crap shoot either way. Some stories will rise to the top, others won't. Ever read a reeeeeeeally crap bestseller? Yeah, me too. Lots of them. There are certainly lesser known books that were much better in my opinion. There is no rhyme or reason to how these things work.

I'll admit, I've hemmed and hawed over what to do with BTPM. I wrote this book...gah. Nearly four years ago... or longer? Yeah, it's probably coming up on five years, actually. (eeeeikes) And it's sat in my drawer most of that time while I worked on other *cough* projects that shall not be named--erm, right now. (grin) I've never queried it--though I did submit one partial to an agent I pitched at a conference. I always assumed I would go traditional with it. It's just what you do, you know? It's only since this past winter that I started thinking of self-publishing.

Yeah, watching other self-published authors do well played into it. Amanda Hocking, anyone? But in the end, it wasn't the possibility of money that cinched the deal. I know it sounds sanctimonious and like complete bullshit when I say the money doesn't factor into things--it DOES, of course... but honestly, for some reason I can't compute self-publishing with making money.

When I look down the road--two weeks from now when my book goes on sale--what I hope is that people will read my book. Lots of people. I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that it will catch on--that I'll rise in the ranks and word of mouth will spread about this little known YA author and her debut novel. I hope it does well--I believe it CAN do well. However, no matter how hard I try, I can't look down that road and see a fat paycheck in my future. Nope. It just isn't there for me. Perhaps that will change in time...maybe I will eventually focus on the sales/non-sales and the duckets they're earning me. For now, I'm just totally friggin' jazzed about the idea of people reading MY book. For me to gain an audience that just might want to read another.

Why? Because I LOVE to tell stories. It's who I am. If my book sells well, great. If only ten people read it--and some of those people LOVE it--BETTER.

A friend recently asked me what I would do if BTPM doesn't sell. Would I continue on with the series--write the next book?

My answer was a flat-out HELL YES. My reason is simple. I have to know what happens to my characters and story. Whether or not BTPM sells, it's only part I of a larger arc. I have to continue writing because _I_ don't know how it ends.

Yes, I'm self-publishing because I hope to do well. I hope BTPM sells--I hope it sells A LOT. But in the end, I'm more concerned about putting out a good story. I'm not in this to turn a quick buck. The chances of doing that are pretty low, even in the best of circumstances, so it CAN'T be about that in my mind. The only thing I can control is the quality of the story I put before readers. If it takes me three months--or three years--to finish the second book, I WILL NOT publish before I think it's the best story I can possibly produce. It has to be that way. It's MY name on that cover--those are MY characters and story. I want to do them justice. I won't put them out there when they're not ready--even if it means I may miss out on money-making opportunities.

Do I think it's important to talk about sales/money? Well, yeah. I think it's important to let authors know that self-publication IS a viable choice in today's market. Do I think that's the ONLY thing we should focus on? NO.

We're storytellers. Story must come first. Just because you can put your first draft manuscript up for sale tomorrow doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Just my two cents. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cover Talk!

Here it is! (Okay, if you've watched the trailer, you've already seen it. But still. HERE IT IS!!) Front and center like. (g)

As I go through the next few weeks, I thought I would discuss different aspects of the process. First up, covers!

There’s actually a remarkable amount of work that goes into a cover. I didn’t want to slap something together quickly and regret things when my book failed to garner any kind of attention. Like it or not, the first thing readers notice about a book is its cover. It seems fairly simplistic–you want your book to sell, you make sure it has a kickass cover. (Of course, there are a lot of other factors that need to be considered, but on a simplistic level, you need a damn good cover.) That being said, I can’t tell you the number of self-published (or traditionally published, for that matter) books that have really crap cover art.

I had a few objectives when I set out to design one.

1. I wanted it to be as inexpensive as possible. The idea of paying someone hundreds of dollars I really didn’t have did not appeal to me in the slightest. That said, I wanted it to look good so I knew I would have to spend some money to make it happen. But the cheaper, the better.

2. I wanted it to be pretty and create a mood. I think the most important thing you have to consider is your audience. You need to do your research to see what kind of covers are being used in your particular genre–what’s selling–what’s gaining attention. Then you need to try to emulate it as best you can. (Within reason. If I see a YA cover with a girl holding an orange or a banana, I might just die laughing.) I wanted a pretty cover because my target audience is young adults. Let’s face it, pretty snares attention with that group. It did for me at any rate. Heck, it still does. I like pretty. My book is about werewolves, so in addition to being pretty, I wanted it to have a certain creep factor going on. Hard balance to strike, that.

3. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I needed outside help. I’m not visual. I like to pretend I am at times, but I’m just not. I would never be able to put together a decent cover because I’m completely incapable of thinking outside of the box when it comes to repositioning the title, author name, etc. to their best advantage. I needed someone creative who could do my thinking for me. And, when necessary, tell me I’m making a very bad mistake by thinking I can put my title in Wingdings because wouldn’t it be oh so much fun if my readers had to solve a visual puzzle in order to know my title? (I still think it could work with the right title. Just sayin’.)

First thing on the agenda: I recruited one of my work peeps to help with the cover. I’ve seen other things he’s done, and I knew he could work with the various Photoshop, etc. programs. Best of all? He was willing to help with my cover if I would be willing to help with his wedding announcement. Hey, nothing says cheap like an even trade. (Though I do believe he got the tough end of the bargain.)

Next, I needed to find cover art. Again, being as I am not visual, I didn’t even attempt to photograph something myself. Instead, I started scouring the internet looking for something interesting. I didn’t want to go for the way overt (and way overdone, if you ask me) picture of a moon. Yeah, I get it…werewolves. There should probably be a moon involved. But no, I didn’t want to go with the standard. I wanted subtle and the all-important PRETTY.

I looked at a ton of pictures at various sites, finally settling on one from Yes, you do have to pay for the photos. Downloading the photos is actually rather cheap, but I went for the extended comprehensive license, which gives me rights to both digital and print publications. There are free pictures out there, though. For me, however, this was the best option. In the end, the photo cost me one hundred duckets. Not exactly a small chunk o’ change, but not likely to break the bank either. I was willing to spend the money for this picture.

If, however, cash is an issue, you could try taking some pictures on your own… or you might try, a site photographers post various photos they aren't using. You can download them for free, use them for free, etc. It’s a great alternative if you’re a little tight on money.

Next came fonts. Oh, the hell that is deciding on a font. I can’t tell you the number of sites I went through. There are A LOT of fonts out there, and it’s hard to know what will work with your picture. Something that looks great in a word doc may get washed out when you apply it to your cover art. BIG IMPORTANT TIP FROM JEN: DO NOT, and I mean DO NOT, purchase a font without testing it against your cover art first. I would hate to see someone pay fifty dollars for a really awesome font only to find out that it gets sucked up by his/her cover art. My designer bud was able to clip fonts from their testing pages and overlay them onto my picture before we made a final decision. Trust me, you WANT to do this. I was completely set on one particular font only to find out it wouldn’t work. I ended up using a font from Yes, FREE. Free is a glorious thing. ANOTHER IMPORTANT TIP FROM JEN: Do not be afraid to mix fonts. I ended up using the capital letters from one font, and the lowercase letters from another. I never would’ve thought of it myself (hence the need for a designer).

So… once I had a picture, a font, and (thank the heavens) a designer, I was ready to roll.

The actual design of the cover went a lot smoother than I anticipated. Turns out my eye isn’t quite as whacked out as I thought. My picture turned out to look fantastic, and after a few misfires on the font, we actually settled on one of the very first ones I found (a freebie that was already in my Word library of fonts). Combined with the one I found on the internet, we were ready to roll.

My designer did a great job. We sat down for about three hours and knocked it out. I’ve had some small tweaks after the fact, and thankfully my friend has shown a lot of patience with me. He even managed to do a name swap (I originally planned to use a pen name) at the 11th hour. He's a wonder. :)

What else?

Oh, remember when I said ‘know your audience?’ Well, before I even moved forward with the cover, I did a rough (believe me, it was VERY rough) mock up of the cover and showed it around to people in my target age range. I knew I was on to something when one young friend actually squealed and said, “That is bad ass! I would totally buy that!” This without knowing what the book was about. (grin) Hey, I’ll take it.

And that, folks, is how you go about designing a cover. All in all, I spent a hundred dollars..and a few hours of my time (along with Designer Extraordinaire).

How'd I do?

More on the trailer later... boy was that an adventure. (g)