Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Author Spotlight: Jennifer Mann

Jennifer Mann

Jennifer Ann Mann grew up in New Jersey, the second of four sisters. Her short stories have been published by Highlights for Children, where she won the 2007 Fiction Contest. She lives in Boston in a giant house filled with kids and cats. This past fall, Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books published Jennifer’s debut novel, Sunny Sweet is So Not Sorry, the first book in the Sunny Sweet Series. The second title, Sunny Sweet Is SO Dead Meat will pub on May 13, 2014. Visit her at or on Twitter @jenannmann.


What made you decide to become a writer?

I have always been a storytellerto get out of trouble as a child, to connect with people, to entertain my friends, my husband, and eventually, my children. Also, I remember that throughout my career as a student, the easiest assignments for me were the writing assignments. But I actually never considered becoming a writer until I was thirty-three years old. One day, I was telling a story to my young daughter and her little cousin. It was about a pig that couldnt stop cleaning. He cleaned his pen. He cleaned the barn. He cleaned the chicken coop. The entire farm was highly annoyed. When I was finished with the story an adult standing nearby said, You should write that down.I did. It become The Cleanest Pig.The day I sold it to Highlights for Children I knew I was hooked.

Do you write every day? Do you set goals?

At the time that I began writing, I had a full-time job as a financial analyst and two young children. I had to set goals or I would never have been able to get anything done. I would wake up early and write for two hours before children and work. I did this right up until the time that I sold the Sunny Sweet Seriesto Bloomsbury. I finally let go of my position as an analyst this past September. Ive been a full-time writer for seven months now. Its glorious. Since this time, Ive had to set new goals. Now I write from about 9am to 3pm each day. One thing that surprised me about this big change in my writing schedule is that I also found myself writing on the weekends. Before I was a full-time writer, I almost never wrote on the weekends. One likely reason for not previously writing on the weekends is exhaustion. But the bigger reason is that I didnt get far enough into my writing in that two hours a day to inspire me to continue on Saturday or Sunday. I am now completely inspired right through the weekend. I dont want to stop because I can finally see the end of stories!

What is the most difficult part of writing?

Plot. Plot kills me. I know that something needs to happen, but what, and how, and when? Its my failing. I read so much about how to plot, but none of it ever sticks with me. Each time I begin to write a new book, I approach it through characterand then hope and pray that plot happens. I am determined to one day wrestle plot to the ground and pin it. But that day has not yet come.

What is the most rewarding part of writing?

Character. I love character! I love thinking them up. I love discovering things about them. I love hanging out with them after I get to know them. Character thrills me. And not just in my own work, but also in the writing of others. Some of my favorite people in life are characters in books. They are serious friends of mine.

Was there ever a time on the road to publication that you thought about giving up?

It took me a very long time to get a book published. I wont tell you how longbut it was TWELVE YEARS! I hear a lot of stories about writers who have gone three or four or five years, or even more. But I havent heard too many stories about it taking as long as it took me. And yes, there were many, many times I wanted to stop trying. The rejection is very painful. Ive heard it said that writers need thick skins. They dont. Im a writer with a very thin skinIm just in pain a lot. I didnt give up because Im mega stubborn, or was born to write, or couldnt live without writingI didnt give up for the following reason. My favorite places on earth are libraries and bookstores. I spend all my time in these two locations. So whenever I thought about giving up, I would imagine myself walking into one of my favorite places knowing that I hadnt reached my goal. After imagining this, I would feel so crummy that I would tell myself that Id have to stop hanging out in libraries and bookstores. Of course, Id then keep writingbecause staying out of libraries and bookstores was a greater horror to me than the rejections were.

Jennifer Mann
208 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publish Date: May 13, 2014

When a bottle of ketchup explodes all over Masha Sweet, she thinks it’s an accident. She’s trying to be kinder to her little sister, Sunny, so she shouldn’t jump to conclusions…or should she? Turns out Sunny has devised a special science experiment that requires Masha to look totally weird all day. But Masha is not having it. If it kills her (or Sunny!) she will figure out how to get them home form the science fair without causing a scene. But add in a pair of little brothers who take Masha on a wild goose chase through the school, a short tour through a cemetery, and a run-in with a cute boy and this whole day is one big scene. Which just might be what Sunny had in mind…she is so dead meat!

To learn more about Jennifer or her books, visit her at the links below.

Monday, April 28, 2014

DELIVER ME Launch Day and Kindle Giveaway

I've looked forward to this day for a LONG, LONG TIME!!! To celebrate the launch of DELIVER ME, I'm giving away one of my favorite things: an Amazon Kindle (rafflecopter entry form below). 

But between all the partying and giveaways, I wanted to spend a little time remembering all the moments that have led up to this.

Ten-year-old me: Brought my navy-blue notebook to school almost every day during fourth grade and spent all my free time penning (and illustrating) my very first novel.

Sixteen-year-old me: Precocious and sometimes a bit of a slacker in English class.  When I didn't finish reading For Whom the Bell Tolls, I thought I'd just make up the essay questions (because I could write a book as well as Hemingway, right?).

Twenty-year-old me: Started writing my first non-grade-school novel. Brought my clipboard with my printed manuscript everywhere I went. Hmmm, maybe not so different from 10-year-old me. 

Twenty-one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-year old me: Kept writing. Wrote short stories and essays and poems. Tried writing a novel in three days for the Three-Day-Novel-Writing-Competition-- twice!. Realized how good it felt to finish.

Thirty-year-old me: Went to conferences. Wrote and illustrated picture books. Mailed them out. Got rejections. Kept writing. Tried writing a middle grade novel.

Thirty-one-year-old me: Started writing another middle grade novel. Finished it. Tried querying. Got many rejections. Kept writing.

Thirty-two-year-old me: Kept writing. Wrote a YA novel. Got my first essay published.

Thirty-three-year-old me:  Tried Querying. Found an agent to who fell in love with my story. Went on submission. Got a lot of rejections. Almost got an offer. Almost. Wrote another YA novel.

Thirty-four-year-old me: Went on submission. Got a lot of rejections. Some almosts. Published my first short-story. Wrote another Middle grade novel.

Thirty-five-year-old me: Went on submission. Got a lot of rejections. Some almosts. Wrote another YA novel. Finally, finally, after all those rejections got a yes! And another yes!

Thirty-six-year-old me: Editing. Editing. Almost finished another Middle Grade novel. And now this.THIS!!! 

Future me: Kept writing. Kept writing. Kept writing....

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It Blows My Mind

hoto credit: Flооd via photopin cc  

Sorry A to Z, I've failed you. My edits got the best of me, but to be fair, I think I squished a month's worth of work into one week, so at least I won at THAT. 

Instead of keeping up with the posts I'd planned for the challenge, I decided this week I might just have to write some of my favorite things. In other words, I'll be making some lists. Today... a list of all the things that are blowing my mind.

  • I am old and have kids. Yeah, I know, I've had 18 years to let this sink in, but it still blows my mind!
  • I put things in my eyes to help me SEE. What? If I was alive almost any other time in history, I'd have fallen off a cliff already.
  • And while we're on the subject... EYES!!! Yeah, eyes. I mean, seriously. How do these things not either puff up and explode or shrivel up and fall out. 
  • We're alive! And most of the time not even sick. How is that possible? Our body parts get old, but mostly, they keep working. 
  • WORDS! We write things and read things and (for the most part) it makes sense to us. Sometimes it even helps US makes sense of being alive.
  • I get to write words and people might actually choose to READ them... voluntarily. And some of those people might even be moved to tears by those words that I wrote.
What's blowing your mind today?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Author Spotlight: Ryann Jansen

Ryann Jansen

Ryann is a happily married mother of two living in central Alabama. Growing up, she always knew that writing was her passion, but wasn’t sure how to pursue it. About five years ago, while up late feeding her youngest daughter, she stumbled upon the AgentQuery website, and began really thinking about completing a novel. Since then, she has completed four manuscripts, and learned the ins and outs of the publishing business. After sending queries for a while and receiving many full and partial requests, as well as revise and resubmit requests, but never getting the ever elusive “yes”, Ryann decided to self-publish, and her first novel, Bittersweet Hope, is now available via Kindle or the Kindle app.


What was your favorite book as a child? How about now?

My favorite book growing up was The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty Wren Wright. Even though I was a total wimp, I would read that book and get myself good and scared at least once a month! Wright was so wonderful at pulling you right into the story and making you believe you were there-even after you’d read the book many times!

My current favorite book is Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Kristin Hannah is probably my all-time favorite author. She is a master of character, and every time I read something by her, I feel as though every single person in the book is right there with me, telling me their story in person. Firefly Lane is especially poignant, I think, because it deals with an amazing friendship, and the bond between two women, and I think that can be something so hard to write.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I decided to become a writer, because, first off, I’ve always loved it. I’ve written stories since I can remember, and it’s just something that feels incredibly natural to me. It took me a long time to believe in myself enough to think I could actually write for an audience, though. Once I embraced that confidence, I decided to go for it, and I’m glad I did. I love to be creative and I love to explore any type of story, and how can you do that in any better way than to write?

What is the most difficult part of writing?

The most difficult part of writing for me, is actually finding the time. I have a four and a five year old who are extremely active, and a full time job as well. Sometimes I feel like I can barely breathe doing everything I have to do, and to find an hour to sit down and get the words on the page can be challenging. When I do, it feels so wonderful and like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Of course, there is also confidence. That’s actually probably tied with time for most difficult part. It can be so debilitating, being a writer and never feeling as though your work is good enough! But, that is what wonderful critique groups, friends, and family come in. You need that support system, and you need that faith in yourself that you can go for your dream.

How long does it take you to draft a novel? Tell us a bit about your writing process.

If I can find the time, I can write the first draft of a manuscript in about three months. That’s with a general word count of about 60K, and I know that may seem short, but I write contemporary YA. Like I said, though, that’s with me finding the time! I’d say right now it is taking me longer because life seems so busy. I’m about half way through the second novel in my Bittersweet Series. With editing and revising, I’d tack on an extra couple months.

I don’t have a writing process, per say. I think I do best with short sprints—thirty minutes here and there, and I can get about four thousand words down in that time span. I keep a journal with me at all times, and I might think of short passages or a certain line of dialogue that would be perfect for one of my characters, and I’ll jot that down and figure out where it can go once the novel is finished. During editing, I like to read through it and make notes, then filter those in as well. Once I’m done with that, I do a complete line by line edit—then send to my critique partners, who are fabulous. Once they’re done with it and send it back, I carefully review their suggestions, which are usually right on point, and I revise accordingly. Once those revisions are done, I do another line by line, and then it’s complete.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on the second novel in my Bittersweet series, which is titled Bittersweet Summer. In the first novel, you were introduced to the three Emerson sisters, and the story was told from Audrey’s point of view. Now, in the second book, we are seeing things through Sadie’s eyes. There is continuation from the first book, and Audrey and Sadie’s relationship isn’t all sunshine and roses just yet. Sadie also has a love interest this time around. Once this book is finished, I have a third book planned for the middle sister, Sierra.

Ryann Jansen
191 pages


With a hooker for a mother, seventeen-year-old Audrey Emerson is pretty sure her life can't get any more screwed up. Until, that is, her mom is murdered and she and her sisters are put in separate foster homes. That is like, the definition of hell.

Then Audrey meets Caleb. She's wary to begin with, but slowly she learns to trust, and to believe in herself. Even though she feels guilty for being so happy after her mother's death, Audrey can't help but be grateful that her life is finally her own, and that she can for once be a normal teenager.

There's only one problem. Her youngest sister seems to be following in their mom's footsteps, and Audrey can't let that happen. The question is, can she save her sister while still saving herself?

To learn more about Ryann and her books you can find her here: