Subjectivity.

December 11, 2013
I've devoted a post to this word before, but after the insanity that is #PitchWars, I thought it might be helpful to offer a little refresher.

Here goes.

What's your favorite movie of all time? WRONG. It's Tombstone.
I don't understand why Starbucks sells hot chocolate.
I can't believe some people actually think Mockingjay made any sense at all in relation to The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.
NFL Football is stupid. It should just stop after college.
Fall is the best season. Summer is too hot. Winter is too cold. And spring is just annoyingly indecisive.
Dogs are great, but cats are better.

So. If you disagree with any of the above sentences, does that make you WRONG? (I mean, aside from  number 1, of course. Because, obviously.) Since I only order coffee from Starbucks, or hated what Suzanne Collins did to Peeta in Mockingjay and couldn't stand the decisions Katniss made because THEY MADE NO SENSE, or think that the whole world should permanently be 70 degrees with orange-leafed trees year-round….does that mean that hot chocolate, Mockingjay, and all other seasons should cease to exist?

NFL football has millions of fans. (I have no idea why, because its rules are stupid and the teams are no fun and there's no excitement of a new freshman class and and and…) Plenty of people hate cats. There might even be like, one person, maybe, who doesn't think Tombstone is a good movie.

Just because I personally prefer one thing over another doesn't mean that every one else feels that way. It also doesn't mean that everyone who disagrees with me is wrong. Our tastes are just different. And that is OKAY.

Two people read the same book. One of them writes a glowing review, fangirls over the author, and writes poetry in the book's honor. The other uses the book as a doorstop and preaches its plot failures to everyone that will listen. Neither of them is wrong, and neither of them is right. Or they're both wrong and they're both right. Regardless- we all get to have our opinions.

You KNOW these things.

The trouble is, now something you've created is the subject of this subjectivity. There's no guarantee that everyone will love our books. We can't even hope that everyone will LIKE our books. It's a really difficult thing that we all have to find our own ways of dealing with--but the most important thing is to remember, this isn't about YOU as a person. You created something. You put it out in the world. People will respond to it however they like, based on their own personal preferences and experiences.

All we really have control over in this entire process is the product we create--we craft it, we send it out to critique partners and beta readers, we hear the feedback, we make the changes that we feel are necessary, and when we are sure that it's ready, we let it go and hope for the best. After that, the reader--whether s/he's a judge in a contest or a literary agent or an editor or Reader McSweetface at the book store--gets to form his or her own opinions about it. That's the way it works.

You can't be arrogant enough to believe that your book is above subjectivity. You're going to have your haters. You're going to have your fans. There's a tendency to forget all the positive feedback in light of a few negative comments--but don't judge your book's worth (or your own) on something as fickle as someone else's opinion. Let the readers do their job and you do yours. Keep working. Write the next book. Gain more fans and haters. Repeat.

Isn't it pretty amazing that you wrote a book and people are reading it and forming opinions on it?









1

Cover Reveal! SALT by Danielle Ellison

December 5, 2013
So you know how I've told you guys repeatedly that my editor rocks? That she (and the rest of my incredible team at Spencer Hill Press) helped me turn my book into something I never imagined it could be? That without her push, I would've given up too soon?

In case you weren't aware, that editor is Danielle Ellison. She's awesome, and I love her, and I'm so thankful she loves my book like I do.

And TODAY, Danielle and Entangled Teen are revealing the cover for her  book, SALT, releasing in early 2014! Check out the gorgeous cover, exclusive excerpt, and enter to win an eARC!

On to the reveal!



About the Book
SALT
Author: Danielle Ellison
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Penelope is a witch, part of a secret society protecting humans from demon attacks. But when she was a child, a demon killed her parents—and stole her magic. Since then, she’s been pretending to be something she’s not, using her sister’s magic to hide her own loss, to prevent being sent away.

When she’s finally given the chance to join the elite demon-hunting force, Penelope thinks that will finally change. With her sister’s help, she can squeeze through the tests and get access to the information she needs to find "her" demon. To take back what was stolen.

Then she meets Carter. He’s cute, smart, and she can borrow his magic, too. He knows her secret—but he also has one of his own.

Suddenly, Penelope’s impossible quest becomes far more complicated. Because Carter’s not telling her everything, and it’s starting to seem like the demons have their own agenda…and they’re far too interested in her.

Exclusive Excerpt!
 “Jealousy is cute on you, Pen.”

“Don't call me that,” I snap, pushing my coffee away from me. “And I'm not jealous.”

He leans back on the chair. "Sure. And I don’t think you’re adorable." I jerk my eyes up. He’s smiling. Screw this—this is so frustrating. I tap my foot under the table.

"We're stating the facts, right?" he says.

“Right,” I say.

I don’t have time for this. And what is wrong with this coffee? I feel like I swallowed a fire and it’s all just burning at my stomach.

“You look sick again,” he says.

The poorly—or perfectly—timed waitress comes back with Carter's coffee and a whole tray of drinks. Carter, obviously, flirts again. I don’t know if he’s doing it to get a reaction out of me, but I’m not going to give him one. I watch him and say nothing, but the whole time it feels darker inside my head and my stomach whirs. It’s more empty, and more full, and unsettled at once. The waitress turns to leave a when it happens.

The waitress coughs, as if she suddenly can’t breathe, and trips. She flies across the air. The tray spills all over a table of four. I gasp, horrified. Another waitress grabs her by the waist, trying to give her the Heimlich. The waitress coughs out the gum. She’s crying hysterically, apologizing to the customers dripping with water.

The weirdest part? As soon it happens, all the fury that was building up inside of me disappears. It’s calm again, normal. The change is so sudden that my fingernails dig into the table. All I can hear is the waitress’s cry. 

"I don't know what happened," she sobs over and over again. I close my eyes. Everything inside me is completely still. No storm, no clawing, no emptiness or fullness. In fact, I’m suddenly starving.
Carter's looking at me when I open my eyes. There's something unsettling in his gaze, something suspicious.

“I gotta go,” I say. He starts to say something. I don't stay long enough to find out what it is.
Somehow I just did magic.


About Danielle:
Danielle Ellison is from a small town in West Virginia. She spent her childhood pretending to fly and talking to imaginary friends. When she grew up, she finally flew away (in an airplane) and started traveling the world. She hasn’t stopped yet, but someday she may decide to settle in one place. Her real life friends would definitely like that; they would probably also like if she stopped talking to her characters out loud.

SALT comes out in January 2014, and then it's sequel. In October 2014, FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS (book one of the BOUNDLESS Trilogy) comes out. She's got a busy few years! 

Website/Blog/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads


Giveaway Details:

1 eARC of SALT International

a Rafflecopter giveaway
5

Author Photos!

December 1, 2013


I got really insanely lucky because one of my best friends, Bret (this Bret), married a super sweet, wonderful, funny, charming, and crazy talented photographer, Cilla, of Priscilla Baierlein Photography. Cilla started taking photos professionally nearly a year after Lauren was born, just as a little side job because it's something she loves. When she asked if I'd mind to let her take pictures of Lauren to help build her portfolio, I was like, "Sure!" because obviously who doesn't want a million pictures of their kids? But I wasn't expecting what I got. Her photos were incredible. Until I saw what Cilla could do with a camera, I never really understood photography as an art form. All the professional photos I'd ever had done were in a studio or a carefully staged session (like my wedding).

Basically, Cilla showed up with her camera and just followed us around. She directed a little bit, like telling us to go to the front yard or near a window or wherever the light was best, but for the most part, she just started shooting without saying things like, "Tilt your head," "Look this way," etc. (She does family photos for us every year now, and every time, I'm always like, "I have no idea how she got any pictures at all because we were in constant motion.) But every time, EVERY SINGLE TIME, she manages to capture moments so beautifully that it blows my mind. She is MAGIC.

It didn't take long for other people to take notice of her talent, and she was able to start taking photos full-time. I remember thinking how awesome it was that she found this thing she loved to do and figured out a way to make a career of it all on her own.

When I found out Between would be published, I knew I'd need a nice author photo for the back of the book, and Cilla's the only person I'd trust to take such an important photo.

A couple months ago, she took some pictures of me while she was doing our yearly family photo shoot.  The pictures were great. As always, Cilla takes gorgeous photos. But as I looked over them, they didn't really feel like me. (I was wearing a button-up shirt. Like a grown up. With a collar. And my hair wasn't dyed or anything.) Cilla and I decided that both of us got caught up in the idea of what an Important Official Author Photo was supposed to be, and Cilla was nice enough to be like, "Yeah, these really aren't you. Let's redo them. Wear your favorite t-shirt and we'll go to your parents' farm."

This is her busiest time of year, guys. It was INSANELY nice of her to offer to redo the photo shoot instead of saying just use one of the SEVERAL PERFECTLY FINE PHOTOS I ALREADY TOOK OF YOU.

So we did another round a week ago. And they are ME. I'm so happy with them. Here are a few! (Also, to anyone in Central Kentucky area, in case it's not clear, I cannot recommend her enough.)


That very last one is the one I chose to be The Photo. :) Thanks for putting up with a post filled with my face. Love you guys.

9

My Pitch Wars Wish List (aka PICK ME PICK ME PICK ME)

November 20, 2013

Hi guys!!

I'm so excited to let you know I'm going to be a Pitch Wars Mentor this year! Now it's time for me to explain what I'm looking for and why you want me to be your mentor!

My Wish List

I'm looking for YA only in the following genres: fantasy, contemporary, romance, thriller, and horror.

Some tips:

  • I prefer light fantasy over high fantasy, but that doesn't necessarily mean I won't like your high fantasy, especially if you have a strong voice and your main character has a sense of humor.
  • I NEED kissing scenes. If you don't have romance in your book, it's not for me.
  • I prefer first person. I'll read third, but it has to be extremely engaging. I don't want to feel any distance from the character.
  • If you have a twist in your book that I don't see coming, I'll be your fangirl for life.
  • I don't generally enjoy super dark, sad themes--but again, so much depends on your MC's voice. I Hunt Killers was dark and had some depressing stuff going on, but I loved that main character--he was honest, smart, and funny.


Why You Want ME ME ME

My YA fantasy, Between, will be published in July 2014 by Spencer Hill Press, and I'm currently working on book two of the trilogy. I've just finished the most brutal year of revising that has ever occurred in the history of ever. I ripped my story to shreds and rewrote it. And then I rewrote it again and again. Once the plot was solid, I had to flesh out all the scenes, adding inner monologue and external cues all over the place. That book is a million times better than it was a year ago. My editorial team at Spencer Hill Press is UH-MAZING, and I've learned so much from them. I'm going to pass all of this awesomeness on to you and your manuscript, too!

I'm gentle with my critiques. If I spot an issue, we'll discuss it and brainstorm to come up with solutions together. I have no interest in taking your story from you. It's your book, and I'm just here to help you turn it into the best manuscript it can possibly be.

I'm super active on twitter, and I blog with YA Misfits and The Write Notes. (And Jimmy Fallon follows The Write Notes twitter account. I'M JUST SAYING. PICK ME AND BASICALLY JIMMY FALLON MIGHT SEE YOUR NAME OR SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW.) I also post weekly vlogs on my personal channel, as well as monthly vlogs on the Parenthetically channel. In other words, I will pimp your manuscript all over the place. If I love your book, I'm one of the best cheerleaders you're ever going to find.

Plus, I'm basically super fun and I love this stuff. Feel free to check out my web site to get to know more about me, www.meganwhitmerwrites.com. I know how difficult it can be to take critique and apply it to your story, but we'll have a good time and get through it together, I promise.

LET ME LOVE YOU. 

For submission guidelines and the list of agents participating, go to www.brenda-drake.com.

To check out the other mentors (but why would you want to do that when you clearly want ME), check out the Linky below!

(Sorry Charlie, no clues here!!)

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
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1

RECLAIMED by Sarah Guillory - GIVEAWAY!

October 15, 2013
Hello my loves!!

My friend Sarah Guillory's book, RECLAIMED, comes out today!

OMG THAT MEANS YOU CAN GO BUY IT RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW LUCKY THAT MAKES YOU TODAY IS YOUR HAPPIEST DAY AND YOU PROBABLY DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT YAY YAY YAY!!!


Jenna Oliver doesn't have time to get involved with one boy, let alone two.All Jenna wants is to escape her evaporating small town and her alcoholic mother. She's determined she'll go to college and find a life that is wholly hers-one that isn't tainted by her family's past. But when the McAlister twins move to town and Jenna gets involved with both of them, she learns the life she planned may not be the one she gets.Ian McAlister doesn't want to start over; he wants to remember. Ian can't recall a single thing from the last three months-and he seems to be losing more memories every day. His family knows the truth, but no one will tell him what really happened before he lost his memory. When he meets Jenna, Ian believes that he can be normal again because she makes not remembering something he can handle.The secret Ian can't remember is the one Luke McAlister can't forget.Luke has always lived in the shadow of his twin brother until Jenna stumbles into his life. She sees past who he's supposed to be, and her kiss brings back the spark that life stole. Even though Luke feels like his brother deserves her more, Luke can't resist Jenna-which is the trigger that makes Ian's memory return.Jenna, Ian, & Luke are about to learn there are only so many secrets you can keep before the truth comes to reclaim you.

Since Sarah and I share an editor, I was lucky enough to get a peek at this book a little early. You guys. You know how I get all swoony over beautiful writing? GAH. Sarah's a master of putting words together into some seriously gorgeous prose. You should read this because the story is gripping and there's a twist at the end that will BLOW YOUR EVER LOVING MIND but also because you need to study the way she writes. 

The best part is, Sarah is one of the most genuinely nice people I've ever met. She's sweet and hilarious and you've probably heard me mention that her voice is basically the sexiest thing ever. 

So. Since I love Sarah and this book, you're gonna reap the benefits!! I'm going to give away THREE E-BOOK COPIES (kindle or nook, your choice!) of RECLAIMED!

And because I like to make my giveaways interesting....here's what you have to do:

1. Tweet about Sarah's book. Here's the link you can tweet with it- 
http://www.amazon.com/Reclaimed-ebook/dp/B00EZY05ZW/ref=la_B00BS1BZPO_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381851773&sr=1-1. Just copy and paste that link into your tweet and tell everyone they need it. NEED.

2. Leave a comment below and tell me the THREE PRETTIEST WORDS YOU KNOW. (IT'S OKAY AND PROBABLY EVEN A BONUS IF ONE OF THOSE IS "MEGAN.") Be sure to tell me how to reach you too- either a twitter ID or an email.

Also, I'd super love it if you'd spread the word about this giveaway, follow Sarah on twitter (@sguillory262), and check out her blog (http://sarahguillory.blogspot.com).

I'll use random.org to choose three lucky lucky lucky winners on Friday, October 18 at 12pm EST.

10

September 11, 2001

September 11, 2013

(Sections of this post were taken from the post I wrote on this same day a year ago.)

My desk was loaded with folders, a stack that grew by the day. I was supposed to file them, but it was the task I put off the most. I didn't want to stuff folders in drawers. I wanted to write journal articles  and press releases, which at least seemed like a step in the actual career direction I wanted to go in.

But that Tuesday morning, I wasn't even doing that. I was downloading music to Napster on my work computer, which was so very not allowed, and trading emails with my friend Bret. We used email like instant messaging, talking our way through our days--me in Lexington at my boring desk job as a Communications Assistant with a non-profit education association, he at his much more interesting position as a Marine at the Pentagon.

Bret and I had been friends since middle school, although we didn't become close until high school when he dated one of my best friends. While that relationship eventually ended, he became one of my dearest friends after high school and through college.

I don't remember at all what we were talking about.

The phone rang. I worked in a small office, and every single person aside from me was in a meeting to plan the group's annual conference. It was mostly women, and they all shared a hairdresser. That hairdresser was on the phone, calling at a little past 9:00am to tell me to turn on the TV.

"A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center."

Still holding the phone to my ear, I emailed Bret, "Hey, did you know a plane crashed into the World Trade Center?"

The hairdresser was still talking, something about how they'd originally thought it was some kind of horrible accident but then another plane crashed into the second tower. 

"It's a terrorist attack," the voice on the phone said.

"What? No." Because those things didn't happen here. Not like this. 

Bret hadn't responded to my email, so I sent another one. "It's two planes. This guy is saying it's a terrorist attack. Is it a terrorist attack?"

I went to the conference room to interrupt the meeting. The only TV in the office was in there. I don't remember what anyone said or did, but I do remember ending up alone in that room, glued to the TV. I watched dark smoke pour from the towers. News anchors didn't bother to keep up a cool, reserved appearance--they were emotional, and it was weird. I'd never seen or heard anything like it. The screen kept showing a replay of the aftermath of the first plane crash, and the stunned live reaction of the news anchor when the second crash occurred.

I went back to my office.

Nothing from Bret.

But at this point, I knew it was a terrorist attack. I imagined his day had just become insanely busy.

Back to the conference room. I pulled a chair up to the TV and sat, wondering who would do this and why. I was twenty-one years old. I should've been much more concerned about the rest of the world than I was.

The screen went dark, filled with smoke so thick you couldn't see anything else. I can still very clearly remember what I heard next. "I'm not sure what we're looking at here. Ok, alright. It's the Pentagon. A plane has crashed into the Pentagon."

I stood straight up, staring. The smoke had hardly cleared, but you could barely make out the unmistakable shape of the building.

I flew back to my desk, pulling my cell phone from my drawer at the same time as I logged back into my email.

Nothing from Bret.

I sent another email. "Let me know you're okay."

I left a voicemail. "Call me as soon as you can."

I spent the next hour sending more emails and leaving more voicemails. "I know there's probably no way you're going to be able to get to your phone or your email anytime soon. I just don't know what else to do. I want to know you're okay. I hope you're okay."

I left work around 11:00. The whole office shut down, like most other businesses that day. I drove to my parents house. The drive took about an hour, and took me down quieter, two-lane roads that allowed me to cry in my car without anyone seeing.

It was a long afternoon, sitting at my mother's table, wondering if my friend was okay. I cried for all the people I knew had died, for the people who experienced the horror in and around the towers, in the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, and in the Pentagon. My heart hurt for all of them and their families, but I was very much focused on the guy who had been such a wonderful friend to me for so many years. He'd served his country abroad, and came home to a position in the Pentagon doing what he loved. Bret was always so proud to be a Marine.

I finally heard from him late that afternoon. Just a quick phone call to let me know he was okay, but the things he saw and dealt with that day were horrifying. I was so relieved to hear from him I started crying again.

There are so many images from that day that come to mind every year. Watching people jump from windows; seeing the towers eventually crumble to the ground, knowing I'd just watched thousands of people die; watching the TV screen fill with smoke and hearing the words "A plane has crashed into the Pentagon"...I'll never forget it.

It strengthened us, in a lot of ways, and shattered our arrogance. It was the kind of thing that I never thought could happen here. Now, it's the kind of thing I think about every time there's a major national event or whenever I board an airplane. The anxiety is fleeting, but it's there.

I can't understand the kind of deeply engrained hatred it takes to carry out such a horrible attack, but I try to remember that for the people who carried out the attack--that hatred is all they've ever known. They grew up in a world where Westerners are evil. In their minds, they were doing the right thing in the name of the God they believed in (or their interpretation of His words). That's the part that I find most terrifying--How do you make sense of  that kind of radicalism?

As horrifying as that day was, I try to focus on the way people came together like nothing I'd ever seen. It didn't matter what else had separated us before--for the next few months, we were all united by our grief and by the compassion we felt for people we didn't even know.


That's the feeling we need to remember--the closeness we felt to our fellow humans, our compassion for each other no matter who we were or where we came from, and our willingness to set aside our differences and remember that tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.
1

I'm a Bust a Move Kind of Writer

June 13, 2013

(This post originally appeared on All The Write Notes.)

I'm one of those people who's wanted to be a writer since I was old enough to understand what it meant. Throughout my childhood, I wrote story after story and shared them with everyone I could. 

And then I stopped.

I mean, I wrote all sorts of dramatic emo journal entries and some pretty terrible, angst-filled poetry throughout my high school years. But stories? No way. 

It's not that I didn't have ideas. Characters, plots, and settings were constantly tumbling about and weaving themselves together in my mind. But nothing seemed big enough. I was convinced that if I was going to write a book, it had to be amazing. It had to be absolutely life-changing for every single person that read it. People would read my book and WEEP. They would share it with their friends. It would be studied in schools and quoted in daily conversation. Hemingway? Steinbeck? Faulkner? Chumps. 

Whatever I wrote had to be a masterpiece, and if I couldn't achieve Nobel Peace Prize Level Greatness, I was wasting my time.

I quit creating stories for years. YEARS. I kept reading, of course, but I gave up on writing completely. Why even try to live up to the kind of pressure I was putting on myself? 

Then one day, it hit me--sometimes, it's enough just to be entertaining.

Think of it this way: 

Does anyone think Young MC was trying to create life-altering art when he was writing Bust a Move?


It's a song about a guy who tries and tries to get a girl and fails because he can't dance. There's no deep,  hidden message there, but come ON. It's Bust A Move. It was a huge hit. Young MC won a Grammy for it and and people still love it, over twenty years after its release. 

Compare that to John Lennon's Imagine.



This song challenged listeners to imagine a world "with nothing to kill or die for." It was a message of peace, asking all of us to look past our differences and come together as one. It's listed as number three on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

One is fun and light, the other is a poetic, political statement. The two songs are different in nearly every way possible, and people loved them both.

There's just as much value in writing an entertaining story that the reader can escape in as there is in writing the Next Great American Novel. Every book should be entertaining and engaging, but not every book is going to make the reader feel all the feels and end world hunger.

That's it. That one, simple realization changed my life, you guys. I gave myself permission to tell whatever kind of story I wanted to tell in whatever way I wanted to tell it, and BETWEEN was born.

Trust me. BETWEEN is of the Bust A Move variety, not Imagine.

Writing is hard enough without putting unreasonable expectations on yourself. Whether or not you're the next J.K. Rowling, your writing still has worth. You'll never know if readers will connect to your world, your characters, or your prose until you finally take the plunge and commit to your story. Don't give yourself excuses to quit--look for reasons to keep going. 

0

Interview with Kelsey Macke, Young Adult Author

April 15, 2013
(This post originally appeared on All The Write Notes.)

Last week, the lovely Kelsey Macke announced that her amazing book, Damsel Distressed, has been picked up for publication by Spencer Hill Contemporary!

Kelsey Macke has been creative for as long as she can remember. From an early age she was on stage singing, penning poetry, and writing notebooks full of songs. When the idea for her debut novel, DAMSEL DISTRESSED, popped into her head, she was undeterred by the fact that she had no idea how to actually write a novel. Her bff, the internet, was her guide, and after much trial, error, and candy, she finished it, and set out to get it published… a process far more difficult than, the internet (now her mortal enemy), had lead her to believe.

Her whirlwind adventure was made even more unbelievable when she signed with fabulous agent, Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency and, shortly after, Danielle Ellison of Spencer Hill Contemporary bought her debut.

This innovative, mixed-media art project has given Kelsey an incredibly unique opportunity to join two of her passions: writing and making music with her husband as half of the folky, indie-pop band Wedding Day Rain.

DAMSEL DISTRESSED, and the companion album of original songs, Imogen Unlocked, are scheduled for release in October 2014.

Did you catch that? Her book is being released with a companion album! How amazing is that? I cannot tell you how excited I am about this project. If you're curious about what it might be like, check out her vlog, where you get a tiny taste of her music intertwined with her book.

And now, five questions with Kelsey!


1. Tell me about Damsel Distressed. Where'd you get the inspiration for the story?

Damsel Distressed popped into my head shortly after I read John Green's The Fault In Our Stars. It was after reading THAT book and watching his vlogbrothers videos on youtube that I realized for the first time, that he was not some magical word elf. He was a regular dude, with a family, and an obsession with the internet, and he wrote books. It wasn't long after that that I got the inspiration to write what was basically a Cinderella story from the point of view of the "ugly stepsister". The Cinderella thread was all but forgotten, however, as I began to outline. What WAS emerging, though, was a girl, Imogen, who had a lot of baggage. I heard (and can still hear) Imogen's voice LOUD and clear... which was why the first draft came relatively easily. I wanted to write the story of a person who had problems, but those problems could not be glossed over as in so many books. I didn't want a  main character who was "sad." I wanted a main character who was clinically depressed, medicated, and who had struggled with self harm. I didn't want a main character who was constantly saying, "oh, I'm so plain and un-beautiful, but all the boys like me." I wanted a main character who doesn't match any of societies biggest requirements for stereotypical beauty.

2. How did you come up with the idea of Imogen Unlocked? Did you know you wanted to do the companion album while you were writing the book?

Imogen Unlocked came out of a collaborative brainstorming session with my agent, Jessica Sinsheimer. We were discussing the book, and also discussing my experience as a recording artist (in my younger days) and how much singing/songwriting is a part of my life. She thought there must be someway that we could tap into my own musical interests in connection with the book. It was like a bolt of lightning struck my head when I realized that my band, Wedding Day Rain, would be perfectly suited to create the companion album and that I would be able to enjoy the fruits of both writing, and also experience the joy that I feel when performing/writing/recording with my husband Daron as Wedding Day Rain.

3. What's your favorite band/album? Who are your musical influences?

I know that it's annoying when people can't name a specific band or album that is their favorite, but truly, it would be impossible to choose just one. Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and even before that. Through my life, I've listened to all sorts of music, from growing up on southern gospel quartet music, to my obsession with New Kids on the Block in elementary school, to emulating Mariah and Whitney with my hairbrush for hours on end, to my punk rock phase in junior high school when I wore baggy pants and saved my money to buy Green Day albums that were YEARS older than "Dookie". When I was in high school I was in a sequined-vest wearing, jazz hand waggling show choir, and I fell in love with broadway musicals, and in college, I became nostalgic for 80s hair metal and subdued alternative rock music like Augustana and the Fray. Now I listen to just about everything. In my car, I almost exclusively listen to 90s on 9 for my throwback jams, but at home, I listen to bands like Tegan and Sara, the Civil Wars, Bon Iver, The Temper Trap, Death Cab for Cutie, MGMT, Phoenix, Imagine Dragons, Of Monsters and Men, Metric, and M83... I really could go on for hours. It's best we stop here. 

The point is that art inspires art. 

Every word I've ever read, every painting I've ever contemplated, every song I've ever sung along to has inspired every single piece of art that I, myself have put into being. I think that's one of the most beautiful things about art, really. We NEED art to MAKE art. I NEED art to MAKE art. Art isn't made in a vacuum. 

4. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what'd you listen to while writing Damsel Distressed? 

I am weird. 

I can't listen to music with lyrics... or truly, music with structure of any kind while I am actually putting new words on the page. I can't turn off the lyrics. I can't stop thinking about what the music is saying and free myself up to say what I AM saying. Even so, I could have music on prior to writing, or while editing/revising, and I had a playlist for DD that always put me in the perfect state of mind for working on Imogen's story. 

Playlist: DAMSEL DISTRESSED


5. Do you think of yourself more as a writer or as a musician, or is it possible to separate the two?

I think it's hard to separate the two, but certainly not impossible. I've been singing/writing songs for way, WAAAYYYYY longer than I've been writing. I've been singing my whole life and only really began writing fiction in 2012. That said, I think that writing is just another form of creative expression and for me, all creative expression is precious and useful and important. I see these experiences as a way for me to connect with a totally new side of my creativity. In truth, I don't really think of myself as a writer... unless I'm actually writing. Like, right now, I'm far more of an tumblr-wench than a writer, and when I'm teaching, I'm certainly more of a teacher than a writer. Being a writer is "in" me, but it's not all that I am, not at any given moment anyway. 

I think that everyone has creativity in them, and it just takes a bit of trial and error to see what the best ways are for them to get that creativity expressed! I'm lousy with clay and paint, but I draw a MEAN DOODLE, and I think that counts for something. I hope that everyone who already identifies as a writer or a poet, or whatever, would give songwriting a try, or slam poetry, or playwriting, because I feel that creative expression only makes you a more well rounded artist and human being. 

Thanks for taking the time to do the interview, Kels! Don't you guys LOVE HER?! Now's probably the perfect time to add Damsel Distressed to your Goodreads shelves, right? Right.



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The Write Frame of Mind

April 11, 2013
(This post was originally published at All The Write Notes.)

I know a lot of writers really love the revision process.

In general, I'm not one of them. I love drafting (and I do it SLOWLY), and revisions are typically on a shorter deadline and I stress and I procrastinate and I write and I rewrite and I CRY.

(I do not actually cry.)

(I mean, not usually.)


(Revising makes me thirsty.)

I generally get to a point where I become a little insane and incapable of normal social interaction, especially when someone asks, "Are you finished with your revisions yet?"

Luckily, I know about this delightful personality trait of mine, and try to do what I can to make myself a pleasant person to live with while I'm revising. When I started my first round of post-book deal revisions on Between, I created a playlist to help me get into the right frame of mind for revising (or the WRITE FRAME HAHAHA WORDS ARE FUN)
-->  just a mix of happy, upbeat songs that didn't really have anything to do with my book. I'd listened to my Between playlist roughly 435928405 times by the time I actually signed my contract with Spencer Hill Press, so I was a wee bit tired of it. I wanted a playlist I looked forward to listening to every day, that would play in the background and keep me happy.

As I dive into the second round of revisions this week, I decided to create yet another playlist and I'm pretty sure I've outdone myself with this one.

IT IS A THING OF BEAUTY.

Based on my research, you cannot be stressed and/or sit still while you listen to these songs. It is scientifically designed to make you happy. It's magical. And even if you're not writing or revising or doing anything you find stressful, it's a great mix to celebrate the end of dumb, gray winter and the beginning of bright,warm spring!


Hope you enjoy it! Do you have any favorite feel-good songs? We all know I could've made an entire mix of my favorite 90s rap songs and been just as delighted by that, right?



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ALL THE SPARKLES AND HAPPY SMILES!

April 10, 2013
My beautiful friend Kelsey Macke announced her BOOK AND ALBUM EXTRAVAGANZA TODAY! There is really nothing I can say about it that isn't perfectly done by her blog and vlog except that you have NO IDEA how excited I am for this amazing and innovative project and it is going to be INCREDIBLE and basically I am SO HAPPY TO KNOW HER.


the office hug photo: Office hug tumblr_llhgluGYxj1qapp7a.gif




Things to Note:
1. We share a publisher. (WORD UP SPENCER HILL PRESS/SPENCER HILL CONTEMPORARY!!)



2. We share an editor. (DANIELLE ELLISON RULES THE WORLD!)


3. I am actually marrying her and our husbands are just going to have to deal because I need her in my life for always.


ZOMG we are totally Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, right?


(Side note: If you don't watch Kelsey's vlogs every week, you should. They have such great information for writers plus she's HILARIOUS and SMART and ALL THE THINGS. So go here and subscribe to them so you won't miss out. Thank me later.)
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#WriteClub's Got the WRITE MOVES!

February 20, 2013
Hey guys!! Remember a few months ago when I talked about #WriteClub? That fun little idea has really taken off and become something much bigger than I ever would've expected. People join in every Friday night from all over the world, and writers in other countries have even started up their own #WriteClubs to suit their time zones a little better.

I've seen a few blog posts discussing how much people love #WriteClub (like this one by the lovely J. Elizabeth Hill, and this by sweet Tamara A. Wood). I'm so happy that this random Friday night thing has become so important to all of us, and how we all have our little twitter party every week. I regularly see tweets thanking @FriNightWrites for helping them finish a draft or stay motivated or not jump off a bridge because they were stuck on a word or WHATEVER. Writing can be a pretty lonely job, but the little community we have through #WriteClub rocks my world.

SPEAKING OF COMMUNITY AND ROCKING MY WORLD....

There are about 900 people following @FriNightWrites. When we reach 1000 followers, Darci, Angi, Beau, Carey, Sarah, and I are going to LIP SYNC FOR YOU! (In a video montage, which will be tweeted and shared for all eternity.)

The six of us each picked a song that we thought would be fun. Here they are, with links to youtube videos!

Bust A Move by Young MC
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
Men In Black by Will Smith
Right Here, Right Now by Jesus Jones
Shoop by Salt n Pepa
Story of Us by Taylor Swift

And NOW, since we're all friends here, you guys get to pick the song! Think carefully guys. What song do you most want to see us make fools of ourselves to? Vote in the poll below!

You can only choose one! The poll will close Saturday, February 23, 2013, at 3:00pm EST.

What Song Should We Lip-Sync To?


Thanks so much for voting!! Feel free to spread the word around the twitterverse! The quicker we reach 1000, the quicker you'll get to see us show our sweet moves!

You guys are the best. I love getting to hang out and write with you every week. See you Friday night!
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GIVEAWAY! The Archived by Victoria Schwab

January 26, 2013
Several months ago, I heard that the lovely Victoria Schwab had a new book coming out in January 2013 called The Archived. As soon as I read the blurb, I was basically obsessed. See for yourself.
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.
Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.
Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous-it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.
I mean, right?! I love this concept so much. SO MUCH, that I pre-ordered as soon as possible and then promptly forgot that I'd pre-ordered it. I ran to the bookstore this week when it released to buy my own copy.

For those of you keeping track at home, this means I have two copies now. Which means one of you is about to capitalize on my scattered brain.

So let's talk about this giveaway. Since a person's history plays such an important part in this book, I want you guys to tell me something funny/interesting about YOUR history in the comments. I'll use random.org to pick a random comment for the winner. It'd be super great if you follow me on twitter (@meganwhitmer) and follow this blog....but I'm not gonna make it a requirement.

I'll go first!

I was just reminded of this story tonight, so I'll tell it. It's an Embarrassing Megan Moment. A couple months ago, I went to Knoxville to hang out with Sarah Blair, Angi Black, and Megan Orsini (Um, this was AMAZING on all the levels).

So you guys know how I can't hear very well? (If not, you haven't watched my first vlog.) So this kind of thing I'm about to tell you happens a lot more often than I care to admit.

At the hotel, I'd just arrived and we'd all done the squealing and hugging and professed our undying love for each other. Someone knocks at the door, and I open it. There's a super nice maid there, letting me know that they hadn't cleaned our room because the Do Not Disturb sign was on the door. Very sweet. Then she says something else and before my brain processes it, I reply, "I'm Megan."

She stared at me long enough for me to realize she had not been introducing herself. She was asking if we needed towels.

SHE SAID, "Do you need more towels?" AND I SAID, "I'm Megan."

WHAT IN THE ACTUAL?

I don't know guys. But I'll never live that one down, as evidenced by the following....


Okey dokey. Leave a comment with quick story from your history, and make sure you leave your twitter handle or email or some way for me to contact you if you win!

This giveaway will close at 11:59pm EST on 
Monday, January 28, 2013. 
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

ALSO! I'm opening this up to international readers as well--however, if you win and the shipping is absolutely insane, I reserve the right to send you the e-book instead....just fyi (and if that happens I'll pick a second (stateside) winner for the physical book.)

Update 1.29.13:  Random.org chose #2 as the winner, and the second comment belongs to @boundiali! I'll get in touch with you about sending you the book!

To everyone- this was such a fun giveaway. I loved reading your stories and getting to know you a little more in the process. We'll do it again soon.

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About Megan

Visit my website! meganwhitmerwrites.com

Loves kissing scenes and funny t-shirts. Knows the words to most 90s rap songs and entirely too many broadway musicals. Talks too much. Laughs too loud. Doesn't dance nearly enough. Swear words make me giggle. If we meet, I'll probably hug you.

This blog is for my writing news, but I'm sort of a wanderer so you'll probably hear a lot about my family and food too. That's sort of my life in three words: Family, food, and writing. Oh, and t-shirts.

My young adult novel BETWEEN will be published by Spencer Hill Press in July 2014.