Thursday, January 24, 2008

Breakthrough Novel Award on!

Hi everyone! I know you're all super busy, but I was wondering if you could take a couple minutes to help me realize my dream of becoming an author!

I have been selected as one of 800 semi-finalists out of an original 5,000 entries in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for my novel, "The Identity Theft of Dani Norhall." The winner receives a book deal from Penguin Putnam! This really would be my dream come true.

Here's how I need your help: the finalists are selected based on the quality of reviews on If you could just take a few minutes and read a short excerpt from my novel, and if you like it and feel inclined to write a review -- it doesn't have to be long, only a couple sentences -- I would appreciate it more than words can say.

Here's the link:

Amazon is also offering prizes and gift cards to people who review the excerpts, so you could win something, too!

Thank you in advance for your encouragement and support! Tell all your friends and family and please feel free to invite anyone and everyone to write reviews on Amazon!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Noble Woman and Writer Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Everyone is fortunate to find mentors and role models to look up to. For a writer, trying to make her way in the lonely, rejection-filled world of writing, finding a writing mentor is a treasure. I am lucky to have generous, warm, thoughtful writing mentors, one of whom is Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Carolyn is the author of the newly released The Frugal Editor -- a must-read for any writer, beginning or advanced, along with her fabulous companion book The Frugal Promoter. If you don't have copies of these two writing-shelf-must-haves, go to right now and consider it an investment in your writing career.

Carolyn was also kind enough to mention me in her blog, (scroll down to the January 3 post...) Her blog is a terrific resource for writers and readers alike.

And, I just found out Carolyn has a new endeavor: her annual "Noble (Not Nobel!) Prize for Literature."

Carolyn says, "Praised or maligned, the Nobel Prize for Literature is always news. It selects the best from the world and therefore misses much of value." So Carolyn, “Back to Literature” columnist for, aims to close the gap with her annual “Noble Prize for Literature.”

Over the last years the Nobel committee has recognized authors for their literary expertise but there has also been a trend toward awarding the prize for, as Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Tim Rutten says, “an author’s particular relevance to the moral moment in which the world finds itself.”

Carolyn’s prize therefore concentrates on books that address these same issues. For her Noble Prize, Carolyn considers books written in English (which narrows the field of prospects considerably) because writers who write in English have been rather neglected over the years and, she admits, because that is the language in which she . . . ahem, reads well enough..

Carolyn’s Noble Prize lists have included well-known authors who explore discrimination in their writing like Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison but she tries to concentrate on authors who have not been posted to bestseller lists or won major awards. Some past winners are poet Lloyd King and LA's Leora G. Krygier, Randall Sylvis and Suzanne Lummis.

The winners for 2007 are: Christopher Meeks, Ken Kreckel, Magadalena Ball, Rolf Gompertz, Joyce Faulkner and Pat McGrath Avery, Christine Alexanians, Sona Ovasapyan, Alison Bechdel, Diane Ackerman, Joshua Ferris, Lionel Shriver, Karla Brundage, John F. Nienstedt and Yvonne Perry.

My amazing mentor Carolyn Howard Johnson is no stranger to literary prizes. Her first novel, This is the Place, won Sime-Gen's Reviewers’ Choice Award after it was published in 2001 and went on to win 7 other awards. Her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening, has won three awards, and her Frugal Book Promoter and her Frugal Editor were both named USA Book News' Best Professional Book in their years of publiciation. Learn more about Carolyn at

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I feel like this at the beginning of every new year... a combination of disbelief that it's a new year already, a twinge of nostalgia for days gone by, and excitement and hope for the blank slate of the upcoming year!

I am a huge believer in the power of setting goals, and each new year I take time to review how far I've come in the past year, and to set new goals for the upcoming year.

Here are a few of my milestones in 2007:
* I studied abroad for a month this summer at Cambridge University, and was one of four USC students selected to study Creative Writing in England this spring at the University of East Anglia.
* I was promoted to Coordinator of the Young Writers Program at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.
* I broke into a few new markets, including the Cup of Comfort series, The Daily Trojan USC student newspaper, and 805 magazine, and took on a new column each month for Listen magazine.
* I was honored as a Jim Murray Scholar for excellence in collegiate journalism.

And here are few of my goals for 2008:
* Find the right agent for my novel manuscript.
* Write at least one page a day, every single day.
* Start a literary journal at USC.
* Write and produce a play to raise money for my "Write On!" nonprofit endeavors.

I also have a goal of being more consistent and better about making entries in this blog ... sometimes I get so caught up in school and writing and busy with extracurricular commitments that I forget to take the time to blog about my experiences! But I really enjoy interacting with others this way and I am definitely going to try to be more proactive about taking five minutes every other day to jot down some of my thoughts.

What are your goals for 2008? I'd love to hear them. Also, while I know a new year is a time of optimism and hope, it can also be overwhelming. Remember to break your goals up into smaller, more manageable parts -- just taking small steps towards your goals each day really adds up. For example, I tell students who want to be writers to make a pact with themselves to write ten minutes -- that's all they need to do, just ten minutes at least -- each and every day. Believe me, the pages will add up more quickly than you could imagine! As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. I'd love to hear progress on your goals throughout the year -- and, if I can ever be of any help, either in the writing field or simply by offering some words of encouragement and support, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Here's to a masterpiece of a 2008!! :)