Wednesday, October 19, 2016

New Newsletter, New Contest

Hi! I’ve been away for a while, too long probably. Away from social media. Away especially from the writing world (outside of the fabulous Rookie mag of course). But I am on my way back. There are things in the pipeline. Things I want my readers to know about. And I just miss you all and want to chat and do better at keeping in touch, so....
I am launching a newsletter!
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The first issue is due out on October 27th, just in time for my favorite holiday, HALLOWEEN! I plan to send it out monthly for the rest of this year and then after that it will depend on my writing schedule, but quarterly at the very least.
It’s going to include my latest writing news (so you’ll be the first to know about what is going on with my books), sneak peeks of my work and into my writing process. I’ll also share my latest obsessions--whether that be books, bands, podcasts, TV shows or whatever other weirdness is going on in my brain. And of course there will also be.... CONTESTS!!! 
In fact, I’m going to kick it off with something Halloween appropriate! Everyone who signs up for the newsletter by October 26th, 2016 will be entered to win this, signed by me: 


You can get bonus entries by reblogging my Tumblr post about the contest, tweeting about the newsletter and contest (just be sure to tag me, @writerstephanie) or sharing one of my images about it (the one at the top of this entry or the two that follow this paragraph)/creating your own on Instagram (again, just tag me. On Instagram, I am @stephaniekuehnert)

Also, just a quick note to say that if you were signed up for my newsletter or street team before, you will need to sign up for this new one if you want to continue getting news. I’m using a new service so I can’t transfer things over.
Again, you can sign up for the newsletter here. I am really excited to share what’s going on with my writing and in my world with you, my fabulous readers!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

GCC Presents: Denise Jaden's A Christmas Kerril

On sale now - A Christmas Kerril by Denise Jaden!

In this modern take on a holiday classic, high school junior, Kerril, faces her past, present, and future to be reminded of the good in others, and in herself.

Haunted by the memory of the worst of her divorced parents’ public Christmas blowouts, Kerril, will do almost anything to avoid the upcoming tinsel-filled season. Unfortunately, a teacher with a grudge casts Kerril as the lead in the school’s holiday production. To add to the misery, she will star alongside ultra-awkward Adam as her love interest. Wanting to ditch the play, Adam, her parents, and Christmas altogether, Kerril accepts an invitation to take off to a cabin with her ultimate dream crush, Perry – only Perry may not be the guy she hoped he was, and it’s not until she’s left Adam behind to fend for himself onstage that she realizes he might just be the guy of her dreams.

Get this new novel by Denise Jaden before October 15th at the special release price of only 99 cents!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On Publishing and Perseverance

I keep a five-year journal, which is basically two composition books where each page =a day and I divide it into five sections and record a couple of lines about what happened on that day in a given year. I am on year four, so I’ve got quite a bit of history to look at every day when I sit down to make my notes.

A year ago yesterday, I was devastated. My top-choice editor had passed on the project most dear to my heart since Ballads of Suburbia. (I don’t know if anything will ever be dearer to me than Ballads…) It was my “grief book,” if regular blog readers remember me talking about it and it had been out on sub for a year at that point—I know because I revisited the hopeful “It’s going out on sub!” entry from 2013 a couple of weeks ago. My hope had already been hanging on by a thread. This editor was one of the only remaining from the first round (Yes, sometimes it REALLY takes that long. They are just THAT busy.) and since she’d told my agent she was still considering, I’d taken that as a good, hopeful sign. Or I tried to. Honestly I spent most days pretty depressed about my career then. Honestly, most of the journal, which starts in 2012 and thereby covers two full manuscripts and two partials/proposals  going on submission is REALLY fucking depressing on the career front. I mean, during that time period I went back to therapy because I was so depressed and I moved across the country to try to reclaim my life (both things were hugely successful—those are the brightest spots in the journal).

Anyway, so back to May 19, 2014. I was devastated. I believe I ate only a chocolate cupcake for lunch (though that might have been May 23rd, 2014, when we got the rejection from another editor who was really high on my list) and according to my journal I cried for two hours. I noted that my agent was insistent that I should NOT be so upset. The rejection was one of those “positive” rejections. The editor insisting that she loved my work and would love to work with me, but something in this particular project was just throwing her—that’s why she’d sat with it for so long. My agent told me that she’d used the rejection to start a conversation with the editor, to pitch her my next project and she was SO excited about it.

I would not be consoled though. This was now 4 years and 3 projects of rejection and I just felt like I was at the end of the line. This next project, the one that my agent and this editor were so excited about, I told myself it was the last one. If it didn’t sell, I was done.  And dammit, I really meant it this time.

A year ago today, I Skyped with a friend of mine who did an Angel Card reading for me. I’ve been a long time believer in Tarot, horoscopes and the like, and I desperately DESPERATELY  wanted some good news. My friend really wanted to give me some, but the cards did not show what I wanted to hear. She saw a lot of strife and heartache with the “grief book”—in fact, the card that represented it had an image with a heart and five knives going through it! More than one editor had told me there was too much going on and I might have to rip it apart to fix it and I COULD NOT see how, but the Angel Cards seemed to be saying the same thing. “I think you’ll sell it eventually, but not for at least another year and not without a lot of changes. I do think you will sell something else first, though,” my friend told me. And she repeated this a bunch of time as we went over the details of the cards. I did not like this. I did not want to hear it. Selling something wasn’t good enough right then. I wanted my “grief book” which I’d put so much of my own grief from the past few years’ failures into, to succeed, to vindicate me.

One image that showed up in more than one of the cards though, was dark horse, who seemed to be pulling me forward in one image and watching over me in another. “Do you know someone with dark hair?” my friend asked. “Because it seems like they are really looking out for you and fighting for your success.”

“My agent has dark hair,” I said.

“Trust her,” my friend insisted.

I did. She’d stood by my side through many, many rejections. She’d sent me a copy of The Little Engine That Could when I was blocked. I sent a few more morose and despondent emails (esp after rejection from the other editor I really wanted to work with) and told myself to believe, one more time.

In the second week of last June, my agent sent my new book proposal out. I haven’t looked at those journal entries yet, but I vaguely remember writing them and there wasn’t as much hope or fanfare as there had been with the previous three submissions, even though my agent was telling me that she really had a good feeling about this one. So good it scared her, she admitted at one point, but I figured she was still trying to cheer me up.
Then, just a week later, a gorilla rang my doorbell, and after dancing to “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, informed me that I needed to call my agent.

I would have been shocked even without the gorilla. We’d sold the new book, my Young Adult memoir, to Julie Strauss-Gabel. She’d taken a year to reject my last manuscript (and please be aware that she’d also rejected a manuscript before that) and a week to offer on the new one. In the span of a month, I went from one of the darkest places in my writing life to the absolute most triumphant.

There are two reasons this happened. 1. I kept writing. Even when I didn’t want to. Even when I was so certain nothing would ever come of it again. 2. I had a really good agent. One who saw opportunity where I couldn’t: in that “positive” rejection.

Also, that Angel Card reading was right—maybe it was a higher power, or maybe it was my deepest gut feelings and fears that I shared with my friend and she interpreted—the “grief book” wasn’t ready. It needed to be ripped apart. Recently, I’ve figured out how and I’ve been toying with it while I wait for Julie’s notoriously tough revisions on my memoir. I can’t say now if it will ultimately sell as my friend, but dissecting the book is going to teach me a hell of a lot about craft, and given the current learning kick I’m on, that is all I can ask for.

I post this today to remind any writers who are struggling with rejection—whether you are published or not—that if you keep writing and keep reaching, you’ll get there.

I also post this because I’m feeling lost and trapped in other parts of my life right now and I’m hoping that similarly, a few weeks or a month from now, I will experience the same triumph.

Just keep swimming, my friends.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Great Read Alert: Falling For Alice YA Anthology!

Out Now: Falling For Alice YA Anthology, Celebrating 150 Years of Alice in Wonderland

Denise Jaden, along with four other authors, are celebrating their unbirthday of their new Alice-in-Wonderland themed anthology with you! To celebrate these five new YA stories, she's giving away an entire BOX of great YA fiction to one lucky winner on her blog!

She's honored to have her story among some amazing other authors, including Dawn Dalton, Shari Green, Kitty Keswick, and Cady Vance. You will love all of their stories!

Here's a little bit about the anthology...

New Alice. New Wonderland. New stories ​to love.

From ​the modern Alice dumped in the Aquarian ​Age of the late sixties, to the ​present day Alice, tormented by body image and emotional issues, to the Alice of the future, launched forward through time and space, FALLING FOR ALICE offers five fresh takes on ​Lewis​ Carroll’s classic tale. For 150 years, people all over the world have fallen under Alice in Wonderland’s spell. ​Now, follow five Young Adult authors down the rabbit hole to discover Alice like you’ve never seen her before. One thing is certain—this is not your mother’s Alice.

And if you have not seen it yet, here is the book trailer...

Here are a few places where you can purchase the anthology:

Or ask your local bookstore or library to bring in a copy. Follow these five authors down the rabbit hole, and happy reading!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

20 months in Seattle & Why it is Home

Today marks 20 months since I moved to Seattle. After the first year, I stopped counting, stopped taking a moment to observe that it was the 5th and counting back to July of 2013, doing the math. But I’ve never stopped observing that I’m here. I still don’t take it for granted. I still have several moments each day where I marvel to myself, “I’m here. For real. This city. It’s mine.” It starts when I look out the living room window and see the sunrise, the mountains, the rain or the fog. It continues when I walk to the bus stop, observing the contrast in the colors between the water and the sky—blue, gray, sometimes with a hint of pink—watching the boats move across the Sound. Then I walk onto the campus where I work and am delighted by the smells—the flowers, the greenery, there is something no matter what the season. I watch the sky change out the window all day. Sometimes blue, sometimes gray, sometimes changing back and forth. Sometimes there are rainbows. In the winter, darkness begins to fall before I leave. In the summer, it’s still bright as noon at five pm. On my walk home, sometimes I see the Mountain. I always see the skyline from the Jose Rizal bridge. Sometimes it’s already dark, sometimes the sun is setting, sometimes the sky and the Sound are unbelievable shades of blue, sometimes shades of misty gray. Every time I think, “This is perfect.” Every time I take a photo. I have hundreds of photos from my living room window, from my bus stop, my walk home. I have hundreds  and hundreds more from our walks and hikes during the weekend, from the parks, the forests, the mountains, the beaches. On the surface, they many of them may seem the same—trees, beach, gray waves, blue sky, sunset, skyline—but look closely and each is different. Each is perfect. I can’t pick a favorite.

Afternoon from my bus stop
Sunset from my bus stop

Puget Sound from Lincoln Park

A gray but beautiful day at the beach

From eighth grade through most of high school, I had periods when I was so depressed that I saw the world in shades of gray sometimes. I told people this and I’m pretty sure they thought I was exaggerating, but it’s real. I have a bunch of gray memories. I also have a bunch of black holes where memories should have been but I was too sad, too angry, too broken, so my brain replaced moments and feelings with a scrawl of black ink. After high school and into my early twenties, those black holes were my own fault; they were blackouts. I worked through all of this. I worked hard. With therapists, with pen and paper, with painful and uncomfortable conversations with friends and family, with love from friends and family and the man who would become my husband. Things got hard again in 2010. Life is hard. It throws things at you. Sometimes all at once. There’s grief and illness, there’s money woes, there’s major disappointments in your career. It happens to everyone. It’s hard to handle for everyone. But when you are a person who saw in shades of gray, who cut open her arms and/or drank heavily to cope, who is full of self-blame and hatred, hard can start to feel really scary. Hard can start to feel like a trap or even a death sentence. By 2012, I was desperate and scared. I was seeing gray, feeling suffocated by my mistakes and self-perceived mistakes. I also knew people were whispering about me, things like “Debbie Downer,” and it hurt. I was mired in the gray and I didn’t want to be, but as anyone else who has been there knows, it’s not easy to escape. I went back to therapy, to the difficult conversations. I worked and I thought and I weighed out what I had to do. I knew I had to take a risk. I don’t like risks. But I had to. So I did. And here I am.

I am home.

Two years ago, I wrote about why Seattle. I called it my heart city and tried to explain what that meant. I’m not sure if I got it quite right. I seem to keep redrafting it in blog posts and essays and a chapter of my memoir and maybe that’s sort of what I’m doing here, but just with new terminology; now I am trying to explain why Seattle is home. I’m going back to Chicago for a visit in a couple of weeks. Some friends and family members refer to this as me “coming home.” I haven’t corrected them because I didn’t want to hurt feelings, but a little voice inside of me always pipes up, “No, Seattle is home.” Chicago is where I’m from. It’s where many of the people I love reside. But Seattle is home now and here is why:

This year has been hard so far. Last month in particular. Another one of those periods where things are thrown at you all at once. So much stress on so many fronts plus the flu. That’s why I haven’t blogged in a while, not here or even to my Seattle photos Tumblr. But in the middle of it all, I took an afternoon to myself. I went downtown and saw this:

(*Whispers* This, all of this, is mine.)

I also noticed the daffodils in full bloom in front of my building. In the middle of February.

The trees, too.

I had a mountain view from my window when I was sick. Sometimes I even see eagles there. I can get out for fresh air and sunshine without freezing to death in February. I can run year-round. I walk everywhere. I am surrounded by so much natural beauty that it isn’t hard to pull myself out of my thoughts and worries and say, “Hey, look around! This is yours. This is yours.

Seattle has helped me find and practice gratitude. It has helped me work on calm and inner peace. I’ve made friends here more easily than I have anywhere else or at any other time in my life. And that’s not just about the people (though they are awesome), that’s about me and what I’ve found within. I’m still shy. I still worry. I still get sad. But this city centers me. No, it allows me to center myself. When the stress and the bad and the sad descend, I look out the window, I breathe the air, I wait for the bus, I stare at the sky, the water, the flowers, and I center myself. I say, “I am here, I am grounded, and I brought myself to this place. I can keep going through anything.” It was the missing piece that I needed. It was the challenge I had to set for myself to find my own strength. Seattle has given me what the girl who saw in shades of gray thought she would never have: happiness and hopefulness. That’s why Seattle is home.     

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

GCC Presents: Eileen Cook and her new YA novel REMEMBER

My fellow Girlfriends Cyber Circuit author Eileen Cook is thrilled to announce that her book REMEMBER hits shelves February 24, 2015.

 About the Book:
A thrilling tale about what a girl will do to get back a memory she lost…or remove what she wants to forget.

Harper is used to her family being hounded by protestors. Her father runs the company that trademarked the “Memtex” procedure to wipe away sad memories, and plenty of people think it shouldn’t be legal. Then a new demonstrator crosses her path, Neil, who’s as persistent as he is hot. Not that Harper’s noticing, since she already has a boyfriend.

When Harper suffers a loss, she’s shocked her father won’t allow her to get the treatment, so she finds a way to get it without his approval. Soon afterward, she’s plagued with strange symptoms, including hallucinations of a woman who is somehow both a stranger, yet incredibly familiar. Harper begins to wonder if she is delusional, or if these are somehow memories.

Together with Neil, who insists he has his own reasons for needing answers about the real dangers of Memtex, Harper begins her search for the truth. What she finds could uproot all she’s ever believed about her life…

“Compelling combination of twisty mystery and realistic romance." (Cat Patrick, author of FORGOTTEN and JUST LIKE FATE)

Interview with Eileen
Where did the idea for Remember come from?

I’d read an article about some scientific experiments being done with memory. The scientists were looking for a way to reduce the difficulty war veterans have with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It occurred to me if people could get rid of very traumatic memories, there would also be a market for people who wanted to get rid of all sorts of memories.

I began to wonder what types of things might go wrong once you begin messing around with someone’s memory. It can be relatively easy to confuse what is a real memory from what someone might tell you happened. What if something you were sure was true, suddenly seemed to be uncertain, possibly a lie?

Once all these questions were swirling around in my head I knew I had a book- all I had to do is write it!

If the Memtex procedure existed is there any memory you would like to forget?

I think everyone has some memories they would like to forget, but even the difficult ones have shaped who I am so I’d have to hang on to them.

Tell us a behind the scenes story about writing the book.

I decided that I wanted the main character to ride horses competitively- a subject I know nothing about. I was lucky enough to have two close friends who grew up riding and were able to share all sorts of details and were willing to read early drafts to make sure I had things correct. Now I know more about saddles than I ever expected.

What are you working on now?

It’s a thriller that involves Italy, a possible murder and two best friends who may be enemies. There’s nothing better than writing a book that includes a research trip to Rome, Venice and Tuscany. I ate my weight in pasta, took thousands of pictures and wrote pages and pages of notes. Here's a contest to win REMEMBER!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Two New Exciting Books!!! Rookie Yearbook Three and This is Your Afterlife!!!

I love October. October 3 (my wedding anniversary) and October 31st (the best holiday of all!) are my favorite days, but today, October 21st, is really giving them a run for their money because not one, but TWO books that I've been eagerly awaiting are coming out. I seriously couldn't be more excited about these books if they were my own: ROOKIE YEARBOOK THREE, edited by Tavi Gevinson, and THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE, the YA debut by my hilarious, brilliant, amazing, simply-not-enough-cool-adjectives-exist-to-fully-describe-her critique partner, Vanessa Barneveld!

Let's talk about the amazing Vanessa and her book first. My books would basically not exist if not for Vanessa--well, they definitely would not be as good. We became online critique partners (Vanessa lives in Australia where I really hope to visit her one day!) shortly after I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE sold in 2007. She's read multiple versions of both of my books (and some not-published manuscripts as well) and was a total lifesaver during the revisions of BALLADS OF SUBURBIA in particular, reading and immediately responding to the changes I was making at 3 am (this was where it was very convenient to have an Australian CP). She's got an eye for character and an ear for voice, which have helped me a ton, but those plus her incredible sense of humor have made her manuscripts a blast for me to read over the years and I AM SO FREAKIN' EXCITED that readers EVERYWHERE get to be swept into one of Vanessa's worlds.

Here's the lowdown on THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE!

When the one boy you crushed on in life can't seem to stay away in death, it's hard to be a normal teen when you're a teen paranormal.

Sixteen-year-old Keira Nolan has finally got what she wanted—the captain of the football team in her bedroom. Problem is he’s not in the flesh. He’s a ghost and she’s the only one who can see him.

Keira's determined to do anything to find Jimmy's killer. Even it if means teaming up with his prickly-yet-dangerously-attractive brother, Dan, also Keira's ex-best-friend. Keira finds that her childish crush is fading, but her feelings for Dan are just starting to heat up, and as the story of Jimmy’s murder unfolds, anyone could be a suspect.

This thrilling debut from Vanessa Barneveld crosses over from our world to the next, and brings a whole delightful new meaning to "teen spirit".

Here's the book trailer:

I devoured THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE. It was funny, it was sad, it kept me turning pages, and best of all, it reminded me of my own teenage years when I was obsessed with the Ouija Board and longing for the psychic abilities that Keira has. If you are looking for great ghost story with laugh-out-loud moments and more thrills than chills, this is it.

To celebrate her launch, Vanessa is throwing a big, online bash on her blog from tomorrow, October 22nd through October 31st. It will be filled with guests, including me! I'm doing a post and a giveaway (of an anthology featuring a ghost story I've written) on October 30th. I hope to see you there!

And now.... (drum roll)... on to ROOKIE!!!!

I've had the privilege of being a part of Rookie magazine since it launched in September of 2011. (Remember this super-excited blog post when it debuted?) I'm still in awe of everything that we do. The Yearbooks feature the best of the best of our online pieces for each year as well as some cool added bonuses. This is our first Yearbook with Razorbill and since I'm a Penguin/Random House author too now, I'm think that's pretty awesome. I also have two essays in this one, which feels like a huge accomplishment.

Here's the lowdown on ROOKIE YEARBOOK THREE! is a website created by and for young women to make the best of the beauty, pain and awkwardness of being a teenager. When it becomes tough to appreciate such things, we have good plain fun and visual pleasure. When you're sick of having to be happy all the time, we have lots of rants, too. Every school year, we compile the best from the site into a print yearbook. Behold: our Junior year!

In Rookie Yearbook Three, we explore cures for love, girl-on-girl crime, open relationships, standing for something, embracing our inner posers, and so much more. Featuring interviews with Rookie role models like Sofia Coppola, Amandla Stenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Kim Gordon, and a bonus section chock-full of exclusive content including a pizza pennant, sticker sheet, valentines, plus advice and contributions from Lorde, Shailene Woodley, Dakota and Elle Fanning, Grimes, Kelis, Sia, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City, Haim, and more!

I know!!!! Amazing, right? Can't wait to go home and pore over my copy!

And if you are in the New York or Toronto areas, there are events celebrating the release TOMORROW, October 22. There is also an event in Brooklyn on November 5th. All of the details are on the Rookie Events page. Go if you can and tell me how fabulous it was!