Wednesday, February 29, 2012

21 Minus Blogfest and Contest

I really, really hate doing housekeeping posts, but I figure I should probably let you know about this cool.... thing... I'm participating in that goes live this Friday.

It's called 21 Minus, and the whole thing is run by Anna Waggener ( It's about showcasing young writers and bloggers who are under 21 (hence "21 Minus"). There's a bunch of us participating, all of whom have blindly interviewed each other (so I have no idea who interviewed me). All of our interviews will be posted Friday, and then we hop around everyone's blog reading everyone else's interviews.

...Except that's not all. There is ALSO a contest involved, which will I'm guessing be explained in a post on Anna's blog. But I'm sure there will be lots of awesome books and prizes to be won. I think what you have to do to win prizes is read all the interviews, or something.

Here is a lot more comprehensive information and a more detailed explanation of the blogfest. (I'm sure it'll be more useful than me right now... I am so tired...)

and here is the giveaway list. Doesn't it look scrumptious?? Aren't you excited? :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Interview with Young Author of "Saving Fort Smoky" Jenna Gustafson

Recently I read an interview on Literary Rambles with a 15-year-old published author. Not only was she young, but I learned in the interview that her path to publication was quite a unique one. (You can read the interview here). Naturally, this made me curious. And what should one do when they are curious about something (or in this case, someone)? Why, learn more, of course! So today I'm going to interview the lovely Jenna Gustafson, young author of the middle-grade novel Saving Fort Smoky.

Here's a bit about Jenna:

Jenna Gustafson lives happily in Montana with her parents and brother. While she has won local short story contests, this is her first book. She hopes to inspire other children to chase their dreams and understand that they are never too young to accomplish something.

Here's the blurb from Goodreads:

There's only one hope for Fort Smoky to survive. After a devastating fire ravages the homes of Fort Smoky, it's up to young Ben Clearwater and his sister and friends to help the residents and get to Fort Futureland to save the people before the harsh, cold winter sets in. To get there, they will have to trek through unknown mountains, relying on Running Wind's compass and Big Jim's maps of the land while struggling against the harsh forces of Mother Nature. Fort Futureland is a place of new and interesting contraptions, like cars and computers, the four children have never seen, and they are captivated. But the children soon uncover a sinister plot to destroy their beloved Fort Smoky. Will they be able to stop the evil leaders of Fort Futureland? Will they ever make it home? Will they be heroes for Saving Fort Smoky? Join young author Jenna Gustafson in this action-packed adventure of four friends teeming with courage, bravery, and determination. Readers will be caught up in this action-filled, futuristic adventure as they follow Ben, his sister, and friends while they struggle to save their home and family using their skills and cunning. It's an enjoyable read for upper elementary students.

Now the interview!

When did you first get into reading and/or writing?

The magic of reading began with my parent’s animated voices, bright colors, rhymes, and the feel of the pages between my pudgy fingers when I was little. Before kindergarten I went through a learn-to-read course which I detested. I was just in it for the sparkly stickers I got when I completed an exercise. Now, however, I realize that the course was the key to my reading and writing success. The priceless knowledge of literacy put me far ahead of my kindergarten peers, and allowed me to go places and do things I will never encounter in real life. In 4th grade I really took up an interest in reading and read Winnie the Horse Gentler and the Heartland series for hours on end, and haven’t quit reading since.

I began writing when I was about nine, when I received a journal for my birthday. It was just SO FUN to write about the interesting parts of my day, express my thoughts, my frustrations. My journal was where I could blow off steam, and being an introvert, this was a very therapeutic tool. My love for writing has only grown since then.

Why did you decide that you wanted to go through the hard work of publishing in seventh grade?

Mrs. Knudson, my English teacher at the time, gave us our children’s book assignment and made the fatal mistake of showing us an example of another young author’s hardcover children’s book. The fact that it was even possible to publish so young ignited my interest, and after some big dreaming and encouragement from my teacher and good friend librarian, I made up my mind, gave myself a challenge, and dived in headlong. I never really decided to publish my book. I was called. Publishing, to me, was something I had to do. Little did I know how hard I would have to work to get there.

Do you ever regret getting published so soon?

Absolutely not. I have lost nothing in the process, besides maybe my childhood. It has made me a better, more educated person, and has taught me a lot about entrepreneurship. Admittedly, I look pack on my old writing and see where I could make drastic improvements had I had more time and experience while I was drafting, but I still do not regret the leap of faith I took to get my story out to readers like you.

Why didn't you feel the need to get an agent or have your book bought by a larger publishing company?

Every so often I stumbled across an agent in my search for publishers. The idea of getting published by the big leagues was enticing, but judging by other first time author experiences, it was nearly impossible to secure a publication with top-name companies, and hardly worth it in the end. Traditional publishing houses are all about being, well, big. They’re after mass distribution, mass publication, and large sales, and if you fail to produce what they need, you are mostly worthless. Does that cold, executive-feeling world sound like a good starting place to you? It didn’t to me, either. I wanted a company that would allow me to keep my rights and walk me through marketing step by step. This is my first book, and I needed someone to hold my hand. Secondly, I didn’t have enough experience to interest quality agents. I also was working with a tight budget and didn’t know what an agent would cost, so I played it safe and choose Tate Publishing, the best of both self and traditional publishing worlds.

What is one reason you think people would enjoy your book?

I designed the storyline of my book around the fast paced adventure that I crave in novels. A child’s brain is exploding with imagination, and I gave them some western styled brain food that they will appreciate. I hope they are inspired when they learn that the author is not much older than they are, proving that in actuality, dreams are entirely possible.

What was your favourite part of writing Saving Fort Smoky?

I loved being able to manipulate the twists and turns of my plot just like my favorite authors, and watching the story unfold beneath my finger tips at my every whim. It gave me a sense of control, like being the queen of my own little world.

What is your favourite thing to do that is not writing related?

Between dancing, running, illustrating, and hiking, I have to choose hiking as my number one thing to do. I love the challenge and adventure of surviving off a pack on your back and tackling breathtaking terrain that the average person never sees in their lifetime. It’s funny how this interest reflects in my writing.

What would you say to other teen writers looking to make it in the publishing business?

I would encourage other teen writers to journal (it helped me express my voice a ton), and remind them to write from their hearts. People are drawn to passion. I would tell them to take as much advice from all the constructed criticism as possible, and to completely ignore the realist in themselves and in well-meaning adults. Also, never give up. If you don’t get accepted by a publisher the first time, don’t stop there! Take the steps you need to take and try again. Persistence is critical in overcoming the odds. Lastly, do your homework. A major pain, yes, but sooo worth the quality publisher in the end. You don’t want to get tangled up in a company that is actually a scam!

Just believe in yourself, trust in God, and you will go far.

Thank you so much, Jenna, for the interview!

Here's some places where you can find Jenna and her book, Saving Fort Smoky! Pass along the word to all the elementary school kids you know. :)

More information on Saving Fort Smoky:
Saving Fort Smoky on Goodreads
Saving Fort Smoky's website at Tate Publishing
Saving Fort Smoky on Facebook

Where to buy:
Saving Fort Smoky on
Saving Fort Smoky on
Saving Fort Smoky at Barnes & Noble

Where to find Jenna:
Jenna Gustafson on Goodreads
You can also find Jenna on twitter @mockingjay14 (although she says to be warned, she doesn't use it often).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award

Hey... so Anna Waggener recently awarded me with the Kreativ Blogger award. Er... a couple weeks ago, I guess. I'm supposed to link back to the blogger who gave me the award, say 10 facts about myself, and then pass it on to six new bloggers.

Anna's blog is here, and you should definitely check it out because it is BEAUTIFUL. She also has a book coming out... no idea when but the cover is amazing.

Isn't it gorgeous?? I love how completely unique, yet kind of scary, yet kind of simple it is. She has a contest going on as well to win a copy of GRIM and you can find the info for that here.

OK, anyway. 10 facts... I don't know, I always feel like it's kind of boring just talking about myself so I asked my sister to say 10 facts about me instead. This is what she came up with, and not everything is necessarily true because she likes to be silly:

1. I'm silly.
2. I love to draw.
3. I love to read my Bible.
4. I do crafts.
5. I go to school.
6. I'm graduating.
7. I'm moving to the Phillippines.
8. I take pictures.
9. I'm goofy.
10. I'm nice to my cats.

Now the 6 bloggers, and I'm going to give them to the 6 awesome bloggers who commented on my last post.

1. Angela Brown
2. Nhim
3. Natalie Aguirre
4. Nick Hight
5. Brittany Clarke

and... last but not least, 6. Laura Wise, who I have to say is an amazing commenter. She always has funny or insightful things to say, it seems! :)

Pass it on and thanks for the award, Anna! :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Dilemma of Naming Documents When Your WIP Lacks A Title

I really, really suck at coming up with titles for my stories. Which is a problem when it comes to naming documents. I usually end up being too lazy to come up with good document names, so they're left with names that aren't helpful in the least in telling me what the document actually contains.

Let's take a look at the statistics, shall we? (Oh and just a  note, I don't actually have that many completed drafts of stuff... most of the documents are filled with a few paragraphs or sentences of half-baked ideas).

Number of documents that are named with a really terrible summary of the story e.g. "Cranberry Story": 18

Number of documents named with the first line of story e.g. "I wake up to tent fabric": 9

Number of documents named after a random character (or main character) in the story e.g. "Dudley": 18

Number of documents named with a summary that actually effectively summarizes: 1

Number of documents named with names that give no information whatsoever e.g. "Life" or "rename later" (and "rename later"s document name still hasn't changed since 2009): 6

Number of documents named with something that resembles an actual title: 12

And that's just one folder. I haven't even gotten to my Short Stories folder yet...

My wonderfully named documents in my short story file...

I am so good at naming documents, aren't I? I mean, obviously I know exactly what the documents "short story" and "random short piece" are. I also evidently get kind of crazy after naming multiple drafts of something...

How do you go about naming your documents when you don't have a title yet? How do you come up with titles for your WIPs?

In other news... I finished the first draft of my current WIP yesterday!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ages of Books, Characters, and People

Hey! I'm back! :) Although it's funny, because whenever I see bloggers going on breaks and then they're like "Hey! I'm back!" and blah blah blah, I'm like... okay, yeah, whatever... I just read your posts when they come out anyway, no matter if they're a few days or weeks apart. But, whatever, that's  not the point of this post...

So, I don't if any of you know this, but I am a teen SPY at YA Confidential, which is an awesome YA group blog that focuses on all things TEEN in order to aid YA authors. They have a great panel of teens that they ask questions to on a regular basis (obviously... I mean, I'm on it... haha). Actually, if you're a teen you could sign up to be a teen analyst, just go to their home page and fill out the form on the sidebar. :)

Anyway, they do regular ask-the-teens posts where they invite their followers to ask the teens questions. One of the questions in the most recent post caught my eye:

Do you really care about the age of a character as long as the writing and story are good?

...and in trying to answer the question, I realized I actually had quite a lot to say on this particular topic.

So... one of the things is, books definitely can fit into different age groups, but I don't think this is all based on the age of the protagonist. You can't just assume that because the protagnist in a story is 12, the book is for 12 year olds.

In my head, I picture two categories of books. There are "fluffy" books - the feel-good books that are fun and bubbly and cute. An example that comes to mind is Forgive My Fins by Terra Lynn Childs (which is actually a really good book that you should read...) These books could have protagonists ranging from nine to seventeen, and younger/older. Yet I think of these fluffy books as being more appropriate and enjoyable for a younger audience. I know I read books like this in middle school even if the protagonist was 17, a good 5 years old than I was.

Then there's the "dark" or "edgy" books. These are the books that are really heavy, and are pretty much the opposite of the fun, bubbly, cute books I just described above. These books are much more serious and deep and deal with much greater issues than in the fluffy books. Yet again, these books could have protagnists ranging from twelve to eighteen years old, but I think of them of being more enjoyable for an older teen audience. Some examples I think of are books by John Green, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, and The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta.

So, the age of the book, as a whole, rather than the age of the character in the books determines the age of the audience.

BUT I still don't care what the "age" of the book is. I know I just said that I thought of "fluffy" books as being for a younger audience, but that doesn't mean I don't LIKE those kinds of books. I LOVE those kinds of books. I also like the edgy books sometimes too. It really depends on how I feel at a certain time what kind of book I want to read. I've talked about reading needs before, and I'm sure I'll talk about them again after this.

My numerical age (17 at the moment) does not determine what kinds of books I read - I, as a whole person with all my personality quirks, determine that... just like books as a whole determine the age of the audience the book is appropriate for.

So I guess the answer to the question is... no, I don't care about the age of the character at all! :)

Hope that made sense... haha.

Do YOU care about the age of a character as long as the writing and story are good?


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