Saturday, October 30, 2010

Courtney Summers Makes Me Laugh

Latest book blurb: Fall For Anything (December 21st, 2010/St. Martin's Press

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. He seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on… but some questions should be left unanswered

BIO: Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and word-processing program when she’s not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse.

Obviously, Courtney is joing me today for SISTERS SATURDAY. Yay!

So let's jump right in....where do you fit into the birth order in your family?
Courtney: I am the baby of the family.

Hmmm. Contemplating that... So..what is the age difference between you and your sister?
Courtney: 4 1/2 years.

Lots when you're little, not so much later. What's the best part about having your sister?
Courtney: I can always count on her to help me bury the bodies. I mean--wait, no, that's what I meant!

Yup that's what sisters do. What is the most challenging thing about being sisters?
Courtney: Pretending to like each other.

In public, or at Christmas dinner? Never mind-- I would love to be a fly on the wall at your Christmas dinners. I imagine you and your sister and your Mom dissecting Lady Gaga's wardrobe. Or her butt. So what are your roles in the family?
Courtney: She always tries to be the older sister and I always try to be the younger sister. ;)

Good plan. ;) but sometimes you have to reverse the roles. And trust me as a younger sister, it's kind of weird! Tell me about your fave childhood memory of your sister?

Courtney: It was Christmas Eve. I was a kid. My belief in Santa Claus was wavering. All of the adults were downstairs for our Christmas Eve dinner and my sister took me aside and told me that Santa had come way early and left us a sort of, pre-present in our stockings. I freaked! I checked my stocking and there was a lollipop inside! At first I suspected her... until she showed me the lollipop she'd found in HER stocking. That was proof enough. It made perfect sense that Santa made a pit-stop at our house just to give the two of candy. And thanks to my sister doing this, I continued to believe in Santa until well--just the last year.

Awww... that is much sweeter than burying bodies! Does your sister know secrets about you? Can you share one? How about one of her secrets?
Courntey: Yes and no. And no. Wait, here's one of her secrets: hot purple is NOT her natural hair colour. Don't tell her I told you, though.

What is something you never tell your sister, but you should?
Coutney: I'm lucky to have a very open relationship with her. And if we didn't, I think I'd have to tell her that something before I told the entire Internet or else she'd beat me up! :)

Well. I don't want that on my account. Seriously though. Thanks for stopping by. I LOVE your books. And your twitter posts almost as much! Your sister is a lucky gal!

Courtney and her sister

Thanks for stopping by for SISTERS SATURDAY!Check back next week when I talk to C.LEE MCKENZIE about her sister!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writing for Teens- Discussion

A while back I had the pleasure of chatting with a couple of other YA writers about Writing for Teens. And why we love it dammit and won't apologize or write "real" books someday!

We love Young Adult fiction!

So here's who was in on the chat:

Me- aka - The Old One
Shana Silver- The Newly Married One
Jennifer Hoffman- The Needs a New Computer for Chatting One (trouble getting on chat this time)
Chandler Craig- The Super Smart Lawyer One

Shana: Today we're discussing the advantages of writing for the YA market. So first question: do you ever feel like you have to defend writing for teens?

Janet: All the time. People often ask when I will write a "real" book.

Chandler: --as if your books were currently imaginary?

Janet: Haha, but I love to hand YA books to adults and convert them.

Shana: I actually never have to defend. I think it's because I still look and act like a teen. Though when I tell people I write YA, they are like, "Oh, that makes sense..."

Janet: You do look young. I don't have that advantage. When I'm hanging in the YA section, people are weirded out.

Shana: I know, but I also do get offended with that "Oh, that makes sense" comment. What do they mean by that? That's when I have to go into defense mode. Except lately, several of my adult friends have been reading YA without my having to bind and gag them and hold a book up to their eyes.

Janet: When people ask about why I write YA, I try to explain that there is so much freedom to explore topics. I love edgy realistic fiction and it's harder to do it well in the world of adults. It's more acceptable for teens to be going through changes be it with vampires or with real life issues

Chandler: Agreed, I think the thing is that the people who you are defending to aren't reading YA. I mean, we're in a bit of a teen fiction renaissance I think.

Shana: Or some of them are and they don't even know it. Like my friend told me about this book he read and loved, THE HUNGER GAMES, and asked if I'd heard of it. Ha!

Janet: I've had friends who apologize for reading Harry Potter or other YA books. And I'm all DUDE, I love YA. Don't apologize or hide behind fake covers

Shana: One thing I find interesting is that when I go to a YA reading in NYC is that there's almost zero teens in the audience. All adults. (Though most are probably in the industry.)

Janet: That's interesting. NY is the place for YA. (suppressing jealous feelings of Shana living in NY)

Chandler: Maybe most are in the industry, but you guys just mentioned your adult friends reading Hunger Games,Harry Potter, Twilight. All YA. So when we say we write for young adults, are we really even writing mostly for teens anymore?

Janet: But they apologize for it which makes me crazy. I think it depends on the genre of YA as well.

Shana: I don't think we are writing for adults. I think the audience for YA is growing and expanding to all ages.

Chandler: I certainly hope you are right about that, Shana. I mean, a lot of the appeal—at least for me—is writing for that age group.

Janet: But some adults seem to have "rules" about what can and cannot be written about, more so than the teens who are the first intended audience.

Chandler: Which subgenres do you think are crossing over well for the adult audience?

Janet: I think the fantasy/paranormal books that are breaking out are becoming more acceptable to adults.

Shana: And dystopian.

Chandler: That makes sense intuitively, I guess. Adults are probably less interested in the contemporary teen issues – the more traditional “issue” books, I mean. Whereas escapism is escapism.

Shana: But, back to the YA renaissance comment, I have some theories on why that is. For one thing, I wonder if the economy doesn't affect teens the same way it affects adults. Teens probably still have after school jobs and can freely spend their money

Janet: And I wonder, Shana, if adults still purchase a lot of teen books for their teens regardless of the economy.

Shana: Janet, I definitely think that's the case. It encourages them to read. Also, another reason why YA might be booming is because I bet word of mouth is easier to spread in high school versus the adult world.

Chandler: Yes! I agree, I've noticed even at law school it's easier for us to have time to read and talk about the same books.

Shana: And the fact that it's so much easier for teens to interact with their fave authors on blogs or twitter. Adults might not bother.

Janet: Interesting.

Chandler: True, this is the interactive generation. You see these Street Teams YA authors have going, which I swear I thought were gangs of some sort. Turns out they aren’t. I just learned they are groups of kids pumped about certain authors—much less ominous.

Shana: Also, people at work might have all different reading preferences whereas YA encompasses genres more generally.

Janet: There are a lot of writers and a lot of people from the publishing industry on the internet. I sometimes wonder if Joe Teenager actually sees it, though?

Shana: I think they do. After all, I think it’s teens that are more apt to, say, make a fan site for a fave author.

Jennifer: And expect to make contact with their favorite authors.

Janet: True, John Greene for instance has made a huge impact on teens on the internet. So accessible and rockstar-like. But just a person, too—who can write his socks off, of course.

Shana: Teens are also the ones camping out at the bookstores for midnight release parties. Aside from Twilight Saga and Harry Potter, are there any adult books that received such a huge turnout for a book release?

Chandler: I don't know, Shana, about the turn out. Maybe Dan Brown. Doubtful, though. Which sort of leads us back to why we'd write for YA in the first place --I just think the potential impact is greater.

Janet: The teen phase is so full of material: change, angst, worries, life decisions.

Shana: I think it's interesting that all genres are on one shelf in YA whereas in the adult world, they're split.

Chandler: yeah, and strangely, I'm ok with that

Janet: I agree Shana, in YA it's one big party. Teen fiction is so immediate and in your face.

Chandler: Maybe the one shelf area is actually lending to its success.

Shana: What about the shelf life of YA books? Do they last longer than adult ones?

Chandler: I have no clue.

Janet: Yes, from what I've heard, YA books tend to last longer and are given more of a chance on the shelf. Plus backlists do really well with loyal teen readers who do grow up, though...which is a whole other subject!

Chandler: Hadn't thought about the outgrowing issue, interesting.

Shana: I wonder how the rise of ebooks will affect YA? Do teens have e-readers like adults do?

Janet: E books is a whole other issue I think!!

Chandler: My age bracket does - early 20s, so I'd assume so? Any final statements?

Janet: My final thoughts: Writing for YA is awesome. Why? YA is interesting to read and write because there is so much raw honesty in teen years. And the material is endless!

Chandler: The end.

I love the way Chandler ends things. We had a timeline to stick to. She's firm and unapologetic. Law school student for sure. And a YA writer. Look out world.

Your thoughts on Young Adult fiction??

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Welome to the first installment of SISTERS SATURDAY! Where we celebrate and explore the wonderful and sometimes complex relationship between SISTERS. We'll talk to YA authors about their sisters and also look at some YA books about SISTERS! And what a great way to start it off with LOSING FAITH! And of course, the author, Denise Jaden!

So I know you don’t have a sister and that makes me a little sad for you. :) What made you want to write about sisters?

Denise: I’ve always wanted a sister, and been secretly jealous of my friends who have close relationships with their sisters. I do have a sister-in-law now, who has two sisters of her own, and I always find myself almost mesmerized by the intricacies of their relationships. There’s a lot to explore with sisters!

There definitely is. It's different than friendships because of shared history good and bad -lol. So, describe the sisters and their relationship in LOSING FAITH?

Denise: Brie is the younger sister and Faith is a year and a half older. They used to be close, but in the span of the book, they’ve grown apart. Faith has found her place among a religious youth group, while Brie feels a lot of resentment toward her because Brie can’t seem to find the place where she fits. There’s a lot of pent up anger and frustration between these two and lots of secrets to discover through the course of the novel.

You definitely got the nuances of sisters in Losing Faith. So tell us what Faith and Brie hated about each other?

Denise: Faith didn’t hate much about Brie. I think she was too distracted and busy to notice anything annoying about her younger sister.

As I mentioned above, Brie was the one with the chip on her shoulder. She felt like the black sheep of her religious family, and her bitterness leaked out in any area Faith seemed to be more the “good” daughter.

What did they love about each other?

Denise: They loved the memories they shared. They stuck up for each other and for most of their lives had been a bit of a team in the family. Brie also really loved Faith’s singing voice, though she’d be hard-pressed to admit that to anyone.

I don’t want you to have to give any spoilers-- but what is the most important lesson about sisters in LOSING FAITH?

Denise: There’s a deep inner-knowledge of the people you’ve grown up with, and nothing and no one can take that away.

What do you think you’ve missed by not having a sister?(besides access to another wardrobe ;)

Denise: Well, hey, another wardrobe is a biggie! But yes, I’ve always wished I had a sister. There’s just a bond I see between sisters that seems unlike any other relationship. I love that sisters know each other so well—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and love each other anyhow.

Well. You have wonderful friends and sisters in law, so that accounts for something, right! Plus, as an author you get to explore the world of sisters, as you did so well in LOSING FAITH.

Thanks so much Denise.

Make sure you check out Losing Faith. It's a great book about sisters, heartwrenching with an intriguing mystery to keep you guessing until the end.

Here's the official blurb.

When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don't know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.
As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith's final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

“Strong in its characterization…satisfying…a thoughtful read.”


Thursday, October 21, 2010


So this is a new blog. And it feels kind of lonely in here. Kind of like, Tess, the main character in Weight of Bones feels. Tess is sometimes a little lonely too though not as open to admitting it...

EVIDENCE--> the first line of Weight of Bones. Well, sort of the first line. (You'll see what 'sort of' means in Spring '11 when Weight of Bones hits the shelves.)

"No matter how much I don’t want to care, it’s not easy being stranded all alone in the middle of a crowded room, like the ugliest dog at the animal shelter."

Not that there's anything wrong with ugly dogs. Poor little Fluffy, I wonder if that's his name? I actually love dogs. Even this one. Except Pit Bulls. No offense to anyone who owns one, but they kind of freak me out.

Anyhow. I digress.

Follow me Friday's will commence NOW and run for the next month or two. Every Friday people who follow my blog and leave a comment will be entered to win a $25 Starbucks Card. So follow me. Leave a comment. Anytime until 12:01 am and your name will go in the draw.

And...I did think this through a little. I thought about giving away books, but I love them too much to share (ha just kidding) And how can I choose a book store certificate when there are so many good stores to choose from? And, there is a tie in to books with a coffee gift card giveaway. Work with me...Writer's like to write in coffee shops, right? And readers like to read in them? Plus, in Canada, Starbucks are connected to Chapter's Indigo, the biggest book chain in our fair country. So there you go.

Anyhow, I'll announce the winner of the Gift Card on SISTERS SATURDAY- when I'll be interviewing YA authors about their relationships with their sisters and/or their book about sisters!!

First up is the lovely "girl in the jean jacket", Denise Jaden, author of LOSING FAITH. My interview with her will appear on Saturday October 23, or what I like to call... Tomorrow! On October 30, a hilarious post about sisters from Courtney Summers, author of CRACKED UP TO BE, SOME GIRLS ARE and the upcoming FALL FOR ANYTHING. Ohhh. You're going to love it!!

Thanks for stopping by. And now a word from a cute dog. (mine ha ha)

"Follow, Janet. She rocks. She takes me for walks and picks up my poop."

PS *No ugly dogs have had their feelings hurt in the posting of this blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thinking on Thursday- Do's and Don't s

The funny thing about truth in publishing--is that there is hardly ever a black and white answer to a question or a rule. There is grey in publishing. A lot of grey.

One thing that drives me crazy when I attend a session or workshop about writing or publishing --is when the speaker makes a big bold statement about something in writing or publishing, as if it is the TRUTH.

At the recent talk Angela Ackerman (The Book Muse) and I gave on Agents, one nice gentleman in the crowd said someone told him that no agent will ever consider a manuscript after it has been repped by another agent. Generally the answer is probably true that it's tough and maybe it's time to write a new manuscript. But there are always circumstances. Like how many places was the manuscript shopped to. And that is just one.

Another writer was told you can NEVER get an agent on the first book you publish. Um. That could be true for some people, but not for everyone. It's like saying only red haired people ever get agents on their first book. Only red heads. So. If you're blond or brunette. Fogedaboutdid. Never mind that some of the incredible writers I am lucky enough to know not only got agents but made lists on the first book they ever published. True. It might not happen for everyone.(And this was a talk to Canadian writers) But it's never a hard fast rule.

I was at another conference about craft and the presenter said, "You HAVE to write an outline before you write a novel." Have. To.

Um. No I don't. Can't make me. Uh uh. No way. It gave me a stomach ache and I wanted to put my fingers in my ears and sing because I really don't like someone telling me what I'm doing is wrong when it is how I work. It makes me feel like I'm bad or wrong for the way I do it. (I know, guilty conscience much).

Not everyone has the same process in writing. What works for me may not work for you. I would go insane and end up living in a cardboard box surviving off dead crickets if someone told me I had to do detailed outlines on my books. I do alot of revising as I go. Sometimes I do a vague outline but I am mostly a write it as I go lady. That is what works for me. I do alot of my figuring out as I go along. Is that the RIGHT way. Probably not. But it's the right way for ME.

I heard Jo Beverly a NY Times Bestselling Romance Author give a wonderful talk about the writing process and I loved it so much because her theory was basically, "Own your style." As in find out what works for YOU and go with it. Work at craft, but write how you write. That is not to say you can't learn from the way another writer writes. Or revises. Or plots. Or outlines. I believe whole heartedly that craft can and should be something that is learned and continually built on. But in the end the actual process is individual.

I know some authors who would live in boxes if they were told they COULDN'T outline in detail before they began to write their stories. Telling them to throw that away and just go with the PANSTER method would give them massive stomach aches.

It's an individual process people.

I don't like when presenters say this is what you have to do when they are teaching new writers or people trying to get published who want the golden ticket- the secret handshake. Cause seriously. There isn't one. And no, you don't usually sell on partials. Writing the whole story is best. But yes. It does happen sometimes. You don't need an agent. You do need an agent. There are always exceptions.

I love to share knowledge about what I've learned about publishing with writers who are still learning about the industry. I also love to hear about other authors and their experiences. Because they're different. Of course there are hard and fast truths. There are contracts to sign. 15 % to agents. Editors to work with. But I don't ever want to tell people that something I believe is the always the absolute truth. Not if it's an opinion. I'd happily share share the facts as I know them about having an agent or working through the process of having a book published. It might not be similar for someone else. It might be the same. Ask me and I'll give you my opinion. But mostly it's just that. Opinion.

Make sense?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Author Photo's Part 2

So last night Stina Lindenblatt gave me a CD of the shots of moi she took for my author photos. The pictures themselves are fabulous, I'm really impressed with the effects and how she manipulated the lighting etc. Stina really is a talented photographer.

My first impression of most of the shots of course was from my own self concious state of being. I have a scene in my head from Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis, when they switch bodies and Lindsay is in Jamie's older body and she looks in the mirror and screams. "AAAHHH! I look like the Crypt Keeper."

That was kind of my reaction. Ah. Vanity. It is a killer.

Stina has her own favorites--the ones I'm smiling in, and I think it's funny how we have an impression in our own heads of what we think we look like versus how others see us.

I wanted a more serious, introspective picture, which is how I think I look best. I don't like my smile for my own neurotic reasons. But when I showed my husband and son, they picked the smiling pics too.

I had lots of shots to pick from, but here are my top three. They are Stina Lindenblatt copyrighted and she hasn't cleaned them up or done whatever it is photographers do to the final prints...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rather Painless Author Photos

Getting my picture taken has always been painful thing for me. Perhaps I'm afraid the camera will suck out my soul? Isn't there some religion that believes that? I'd google it, but I'm too lazy, er pressed for time.

Seriously though posing for photo's is right up there with, say root canals and pap smears. And if you have not experienced either, just trust me on this one.

Anyhow, I have a wonderful group of local writers I get together with for lunch regularly. (most of us also belong to SCWBI.) Included in the group is Stina Lindeblatt who not only writes YA, but is also a wonderful photographer. She has a great blog that gives outstanding tips on both writing and photography. You. Must. Check. It. Out.
(note from dorky dork Janet- trying to figure out how to add link to

Well I begged, I mean asked Stina if she would do my photo's and she was suckered in by my begging. Er, she agreed. Lucky me! Stina scouted a location for us with her photographer brain turned on, and this week we met up to snap the shots! She was a total professional who made the potentially excruciating and uncomfortable experience very easy and relaxing. Seriously. Even for me! She gave me pictures to copy for poses and kept me entertained with conversation while she did her thing.

I haven't seen the pics yet, but as Stina knew all about lighting and positioning and other things about taking good pictures that I am curious but clueless about, I'm sure I will be more than happy! Even better it wasn't a horrible experience.

Now, if only I could shave off 15 years and 15 pounds. But nah. I yam what I yam. Like a woman who jogged by us yelled out, "Work it. Work it!"

I'll post some photos when Stina is done her magic!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back Cover Copy for Weight of Bones!

This just in from my wonderful editor at Sourcebooks! Love!!

“For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel envy…”
Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that’s okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. Yet the smiles of her picture-perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn’t hold it together, who will?

Janet Gurtler tests the bonds of sisterhood in this moving debut that readers of Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen will savor

Friday, October 8, 2010

Heavier is BETTER

While researching the title for my April YA release, Weight of Bones, I discovered something I didn't know--Chinese Astrology is really, really cool!!!

There are several different systems in Chinese astrology and one of those includes, yes, the weight of bones.

Other Chinese Astrology Systems
There are other comparable systems of Chinese Astrology but they are not as well known as Ba Zi of Zi Wei.

In addition to the 12 Animals Zodiac, there are two other simplified systems of Chinese Astrology that is found in the Tong Shu or Chinese Almanac. They are the Emperor’s Poem of the Four Season and Weight of Bones.

The Emperor’s Poem takes the season and hour of birth to give a reading in the form of a Poem. The Weight of Bones system assigns a weight to each of the year, month, day and hour of birth. The individual weights are added together and a reading is given for the combined weight. Heavier is better!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Someone is Pining for my Book!

I love the Story Siren! And I love her, "Books I'm Pining For" section.

So how happy was I to see The Weight of Bones make her list???? (answer= VERY!)

Brainy Tess Smith is the younger sibling of the beautiful, popular, volleyball-scholarship-bound Kristina. When Kristina is diagnosed with bone cancer, it drastically changes both sisters' lives.

Sometimes the things that annoy us the most about our siblings are the ones we’d miss the most if we lost them.

In this YA literary coming-of-age novel that will appeal to readers who love Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen, sisters Tess and Kristina discover not only who they are, but who they can become.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I have a weird thing about the term "fan" when it comes to authors. Particularly when authors call their readers, their "fans."

I guess it's appropriate to call yourself a fan of an author, if that's how you think of yourself. But what if the author calls you a fan because you like his or her books? Is it okay?

I myself am a fan of many writers. Judy Blume, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Jody Picoult. Of course, they are prime examples of authors who have many adoring fans. They are literary superstars. So while yes, I do consider myself a fan, to me "fan" almost means that the authors I'm "fanning" over are larger than life and at a level I aspire to, but in all likelihood will never achieve. Stephanie Myers has legions of fans. (Of course poor Stephanie also has many nay sayers and many more of "anti-fans" in her world too. Say what you want, the girl can write a good story.)

But what about authors of smaller books. Authors who haven't yet reached that level. Should they call their readers "fans" too? Is it offensive, or just a little presumptuous?

I would feel really awkward calling anyone who wrote me a nice email or said nice things to me about my first book, a "fan". It makes me feel creepy and self-conscious, like I am bragging and kind of full of myself. Is it just me? Is it tied to the belief I somehow acquired during my upbringing that bragging about yourself isn't appropriate?

Let it be known I have nothing against authors who call their readers fans. In all likelihood, they probably are and identify with that term.

I just find it awkward personally.

And that is all. Until later.