Friday, September 28, 2012

Kasie West Takes the Dare

Today's dare comes from Rachel. I thought it was an awesome idea. So thanks for submitting it, Rachel!

Next up is Megan. So don't forget to submit your truth or dares for her to pick from here!


Kasie West writes YA paranormal. She graduated from Fresno State University with a BA degree that has nothing to do with writing. She earned her masters in Junior Mint eating (which is awarded after eating your millionth King Size box....and is now working on her PhD). She loves sappy alternative rock ballads and reading way past her bedtime.

Her debut novel PIVOT POINT will be out with HarperTeen on February 12, 2013

Friday, September 21, 2012

J.R. Johansson Takes the Truth!

Since you just saw me act out a scene using the contents of my pantry as the characters in a vlog from last week. I have officially reached my monthly vlog embarrassment ratio and thus... *drumroll please*

I am taking a truth!

The truth I chose was given by the awesome Robin Weeks. She asked me, "What was the most embarrassing newbie mistake you made (we all make them) back when you were first starting out and didn't know anything?"

Sadly, this was a hard question for me because the possible answers are many. After much debate, I settled on my very first query.

And when I say query, I use the term VERY loosely. I'll just post it here and you can see for yourself the numerous mistakes I made. I'll post my color commentary in red so you can see just how mortified I am about this now.

Dear Kristin Nelson, (<--undoubtedly the best part of the email, unless your name is Kristin Nelson)

Hello! (*sigh* at least I was enthusiastic) My name is Jenn and I'm considering writing a book. (Yep. You read that right -- considering) I've never done much writing, but I'm a fast learner and I have faith that I can figure it out. (OH! I have faith! Well, I should've led with that. It's a game changer) I'm sure you hear this kind of thing all the time because from your website, I see that you're a literary agent. (...apparently I just read her title and quickly closed the browser. Otherwise I would've learned that SENDING THIS WAS A BAD IDEA) You seem like you might be the perfect person to help me with this! (Please, kill me now)

Is there any particular place you'd recommend starting when learning to write? (*head desk*) How does the publishing industry work exactly? Do I hire an agent and then start writing? Or is that backward? (There's really nothing to do but shake my head and laugh at this point)

Anyway, as you can see, I have many questions! Let me know if you'd prefer talking on the phone and we can schedule a call. (Yes! And then we shall have tea with the Mad Hatter, but bring a jacket because HELL has frozen over!)

Thanks so much!
Jenn (<--second best part, unless your name is Jenn, in which case you may weep a little)

Seriously. Reading this now, I want to grab newbie-writer-me and shake some sense into her. Good thing more-experienced-writer-me has a sense of humor or there would be some kind of time-travel violence going on. 

Now that we've all had a good laugh at my expense, here is my point. Did I make mistakes here? I think we can all agree - YES! Did it ruin my chances in the future? No. In fact, I think writing queries and pitches has become a strength of mine. 

I think there's really only one thing left to say:

I'm so sorry, Kristin Nelson. :)

Edit per requests in comments: Kristin did actually respond. Recommended a few writing technique books and gave me the links on how (and when) to query from her blog. Seriously...the woman is a saint. 


J.R. Johansson loves reading, playing board games and sitting in her hot tub. Her dream is that someday she can do all three at the same time. She is a YA thriller author represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her debut novel, INSOMNIA, is due to be released in Spring 2013 with Flux. You can find her on twittergoodreads, her website, or her personal blog.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kat Zhang Takes the Dare!

Today we are so very excited to have YA author Kat Zhang on our blog for a guest post! First off, here's the official blurb for her debut novel, WHAT'S LEFT OF ME (HarperCollins, September 18th, 2012) That's today! Happy book birthday, Kat!!!

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

Not only does WHAT'S LEFT OF ME sound absolutely amazing, Kat herself is pretty awesome, too. AND fearless enough to tackle this dare from our own Erin Bowman: Because Addie and Eva share a body, WHAT'S LEFT OF ME uses some unique dialog treatments to illustrate conversations between the two girls. We dare you to document a conversation between you and your Muse in the WLoM-style and share it on Thirteeners. 

Go, Kat!

A Skype Conversation Between Kat and Her Muse



KAT: Hello? Hello? You there?

KAT: Helllloooo??

MUSE: *yawn*

KAT: Woah, why’s it all dark over there?

MUSE: It’s late over here. Bedtime in Muse-land.

KAT: Oh. Wow. I never knew we were on different time zones. 

KAT: That explains a lot, actually.

MUSE: Well now you know!!

KAT: Hope I didn’t wake you. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about something. There are these reviews I’ve been getting…

MUSE: Yeah?

KAT: And, well, some of them seem to indicate that there are people out there who didn’t like my book. What’s up with that?

MUSE: You realize I’m a muse and not a therapist, right?

KAT: But I can’t afford a therapist.

MUSE: That’s what those poor people you call your friends are for.

KAT: Touché, Muse. Touché.

MUSE: Anyway, suck it up. There’s my advice. How about you get on that Book 2 instead of whining?

KAT: Well, actually, I was going to bring up Book 2. I’ve been so stuck on some scenes, and, while I’d really hate to say this, I don’t think you’re keeping up with your half of the deal.

MUSE: What deal?

KAT: You know, the one where you...feed me story ideas, and I...well, use them.

MUSE: That sounds like a terrible deal for me.

KAT: Well, I mean, it’s kinda your job, right? Like, your life purpose? To help writers?

MUSE: See, this sense of entitlement is where you’re running into problems.

KAT: I—I’m sorry.

MUSE: I’m doing my best here. See? I’ve got this plot board going on and everything.

KAT: I, uh, I really appreciate that.

MUSE: Good. Was that too hard to say? All I ever wanted was some kindness! Some appreciation! Maybe a day named in my honor?

KAT: Yeah, I’ll...get on that.

MUSE: You just get back to that writing. I’ll figure out these plot holes. 

MUSE: Eventually.

KAT: Great! Thank you so much! Bye, then!

MUSE: Bye!


MUSE: Man, finally, she’s gone.


MUSE: Oooh, is that the pizza guy?


MUSE: Hey, do you think I could dress up as that girl from The Ring for Halloween?

MUSE: ...How about now?


Kat Zhang is an avid traveler, and after a childhood spent living in one book after another, she now builds stories for other people to visit. An English major at Vanderbilt University, she spends her free time performing Spoken Word poetry, raiding local bookstores, and plotting where to travel next. What’s Left of Me–about a girl with two souls–is her first novel and will be released by HarperCollins on 9/18/2012. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen of Stonesong. You can read about her travels, literary and otherwise, on her website or check her out on Twitter.

Thank you so much for playing with the Thirteeners, Kat! Up next is Jenn, so send her a Truth or Dare here!