Donna Cooner's Blog, page 2

July 22, 2014



In another life, I used to do a bit of rock climbing, usually at the local climbing gym (Class 5 in San Rafael, at the time). My husband, who was then my boyfriend, got me into it, and nothing short of new love could have kept me going. When I started out, I gripped the holds too hard. I didn’t have the right callouses, and my palms burned. My forearms shook. My fingernails were too long and scraped against the synthetic wall. I didn’t entirely trust the knots my husband carefully taught me.
While I trembled, determined but terrified, on my dinky little 5.5 route with the giant holds, the more experienced climbers would be zooming along past me, taking (what seemed at the time) wild risks, grabbing crimpy holds not even as wide as their finger pads. Climbing beneath overhangs. Bracing against the corner wall with their other foot to reach an impossibly high hold.
Every time I’d start a tough route, my husband and our climbing buddy, Lauren, would say, “Get there.” It sounded like they had complete faith that I could do the climb.
I was terrified but determined—and inspired. I kept going back to the gym. Using my precious tips and wages from waiting tables, I signed up for a membership. I bought my own harness and climbing shoes. I got into bouldering and bought special shoes for that—the kind you have to painfully squeeze your toes into. I bought a chalk bag—not because I liked using the chalk so much, but I thought the bag was cute. I kept practicing, and I got better—although I’d still feel as if chalk dust from the more experienced climbers was sprinkling onto my face.
Over the past few years, writing has been like climbing. Terrifying. Inspirational. Challenging. Fun. Sometimes I stick a tough revision move and feel a rush of triumph. Or I finally put a project in the drawer and experience that whoosh of failure through my gut. Sometimes I can’t help but look around at all the more talented writers doing their more talented things.
But do you know what I hear them saying, every time I stop to listen?
“Get there.” Getting There, roughly 12 years ago
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Published on July 22, 2014 04:00

July 21, 2014

Last summer,  I was asked by YA Muse Donna Cooner to join this group. I remember how thrilled and frightened I was by the idea of contributing to such a fantastic blog. Nearly a year has passed since my first entry, and I've been thinking about the experience, how much I've loved being a part of the Muses and what I've learned - or confirmed. Here are a few things.

Writing is a solitary venture, so cherish the friendship of other writers. I firmly believe that those who write for children and young adults are a very special breed. They have a generosity of spirit, a work ethic and a sense of playfulness that is priceless. I love celebrating the achievements of this group. When one of us wins, all of us win. We're lifted up.

Be bold and be true. It's easy to get caught up in trends and themes. Honor what is unique in you and tell your own story, your way. Social media sometimes causes a "feeding frenzy" with so many opinions and advice for writers at our finger tips. Disengage now and then. You don't need to know what everyone is doing or thinking. 

Share your disappointments as well as your accomplishments. That is how you keep it real. That is how you engage others. No one wants to read a story about a character who sails through life with no obstacles. We're here to learn from each other. 

Persistence is as important as talent. And on some days, more important.

It's important to have goals. But it's equally important to decide how you want to live - to ask yourself, as a writer, what kind of life you want to have.  Do you want to spend your time doing research and uncovering a deeper truth about a subject? Do you want to move people with your words, or make them laugh, or help them to think in a different way? Do you need to write to make sense of the world? When you tell yourself that you must finish a chapter, or set down a certain number of words on paper each day, you do these these things because they are necessary in order for you to  achieve a certain goal. But what I've realized during this last year, more than ever before, is that writing and creativity give me joy and purpose. They make me feel alive. For me, joy and a sense of purpose are stronger motivators than any goal I've ever had.

So, to my fellow Muses and those who follow this blog - here's to a year of hard work, published books, shared experiences, group hugs, encouragement and being together on the road to realizing our dreams. It's been a great ride!












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Published on July 21, 2014 08:00 • 1 view

July 18, 2014

What a sweet treat to get to spend this week introducing y'all Noelle August's BOOMERANG. I mean, the authors -- Veronica and Lorin -- are two of my favorite people in the whole world. So you could say I'm slightly biased to loving anything this pair creates. Though as I write this post, I feel I must mention two other facts which give my opinion on BOOMERANG a slightly more objective slant:

1. In no way, shape, or form the target audience and I'm not the biggest fan of romance / rom-com's.
2. This was my first introduction into the New Adult genre.

So, I bet you're dying to know what I thought of it?



I LOVED EVERY LINE!

I started smiling on the very first one: "On the single most important day of my life, I wake with the thought: Oh crap, where are my panties?" And still haven't stopped. The entire read I felt similar to experiencing one of the great, fun romances. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY sort of thing. A story, characters, and banter that transcend the boundaries of a genre. Something that I just want to keep experiencing no matter what the subject or situation. It's just fun and endearing.  

So I might not run out and buy every Danielle Steele book (I believe Oprah or Bill Gates would be the only people wealthy enough to do so), but I'm the first in line for BOOMERANG 2!


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Published on July 18, 2014 04:00

July 17, 2014


It's always exciting to launch a book, but last week was the first coauthored book I've launched and, let me tell you, I highly recommend the experience.
For me, book launches have always been a seesaw of emotions. Excitement and fear crash inside me. A combination of, "I did this!" and "What am I doing?" Of the pride in the accomplishment of getting the book that far, into print, on a shelf, an actual thing. And of the dread of what will come next. Will people read it? Will they love it or hate it? What will happen to this thing that's been mine up until this point, and is now everyone's?
Coauthoring felt a little different. Sure, I had pride and fear with the launch of BOOMERANG, but all along, from the very first words written, I had a partner. I had someone who I knew loved the book. Who was on the inside, with me. And that someone--my coauthor Lorin Oberweger--happens to be a person who's opinion I value very highly (probably obvious.) With Lorin by my side, my will people like this book? fear was just... gone. Because of her, this launch has been special. It's been brighter. Full of Florida sunshine. Laughs. Family. And warmth. A highlight of my career thus far, for certain.
Talia, Katy, Bret and Donna read a fairly early draft of BOOMERANG. Their feedback also provided me with such a boost. They know just what to say and they said it. They gotthe book. And their support reinforced something I've been thinking about a lot lately: if I can write a book my friends will love, that's the definition of success. What other measure could mean more than that? Than getting it right in the eyes of the people you love and respect most? None, I say.
The publishing journey for me has had a lot of twists and turns. I've learned so much. I've taken a few hard knocks, and I've had more than my share of champagne-worthy moments. The best parts of the ride have remained the same, though. Writing stories. Sharing them with good friends.
Thank you, Lorin. Thank you, Muses. You make this ride so worth it.
And go, BOOMERANG!
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Published on July 17, 2014 07:37

July 16, 2014

It's always a special thrill for me when one of the Muses comes out with a new book, and this one is so much fun because it not only was was co-written by Veronica Rossi, but also longtime friend to all Muses (and all writers for that matter) Lorin Oberwerger, writing together as Noelle August.

From the moment I first heard the concept of Boomerang (the Hangover meets the Intern (with kissing!), I was sold.  And the set up was amazing- a guy and a girl wake up from a night they can't remember, only to find out that they are both interns for the same online dating service, but only one of them will be offered a permanent job.  

Veronica sent me the first few chapters and I devoured them.  I loved Mia's sharp voice, strong confidence and self-deprecating humor.  I loved Ethan's desire to do the right thing, tendency to take in strays and strong convictions.  But it was the rest of the book that really got me excited. I especially loved how the book turned New Adult on its head for me, featuring completely unbroken, strong characters who had the ability to make me both laugh and swoon (sometimes at the same time).  Also, I loved that Ethan's last name was "Vance," and that I fell in love with him just as I did a certain other boy I know with a very *similar* last name.

The book is also populated with memorable side characters, and fabulous Los Angeles settings.  But possibly my favorite part of Boomerang was how it made me laugh out loud more than once, but never at the expense of the characters.  I felt like Mia and Ethan were real people, and I cared what happened to them.  As I was reading, I couldn't decide who I wanted to win the job.  I was rooting for them both.  That's a neat to trick to pull of with a dual narrative.

Sharp and funny, swoony and sweet, Boomerang is the perfect summer beach read.  But you don't have to take my word for it.  I understand Boomerang just got a starred review in Booklist!

Congratulations Ladies!
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Published on July 16, 2014 06:00 • 1 view

July 15, 2014

As Donna mentioned yesterday, we're celebrating last week's publication of BOOMERANG by Noelle August. 
Had I come across Boomerang as just another NA on the shelf at my local indie, I would have loved it.  It’s smart, fresh, has a full cast of three-dimensional characters, great dialogue, fabulous sexual tension and revolves around a line of work so unlike my own, it makes the perfect escape.

But of course, my introduction to Boomerang was through our very own Veronica Rossi, one half of the two-woman team that makes up Noelle August, author of Boomerang.  August’s other half, Lorin Oberwerger, is also a friend.  So I got a completely different perspective on both the novel and the writers when I read this fabulously fun tale.
I fell in love with Mia’s outlook, her family, and her friends.  And because I know Lorin a little, I knew where some of Mia’s personality quirks came from.  Her favorite book?  The Phantom Tollbooth.  Lorin and I bonded over this a long time ago, and I cheered when Mia mentioned it.
Ethan is kind and thoughtful, athletic and driven.  Veronica writes a stellar boy voice, so though I didn’t hear any of V in Ethan, I did feel her presence.  Ethan is a good guy—just the kind of person V would want her sons to be.  Just the kind of person I wish I’d met when I was Mia’s age.
I loved that I could follow Mia and Ethan on some of their adventures in Los Angeles, even though I’ve only been there four times in my life—three to the annual SCBWI conference.  I could follow them, because the fictional Boomerang offices were located very near to the conference hotel, and some of the blind “dates” that Mia and Ethan go on are in local restaurants—places where the Muses have had birthday parties, agent-y dinners and just plain fun.  Reading about them was like being there again, my friends around the table with me, drinking cosmos, spinning tales, and laughing until our stomachs were weak and our heads were light.
I know that the book is not the author.  I know that we all write entirely new people into being, but we imbue them with pieces of ourselves.  I love that the contemporary setting can showcase these little gems in ways that history or science fiction can’t. 
I would love this book as a summer read because it’s sharp, fun and sexy and feels pitch-perfect to the age and situation.  I love it even more because it gives me a chance to get to know my friends better—through their characters.

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Published on July 15, 2014 04:00

July 14, 2014

So this week, we celebrate the release of BOOMERANG --Veronica Rossi's new book with co-writer, Lorin Oberweger (writing as Noelle August).  Lorin is a gifted editor and wonderful writer.  Her writing workshops and editorial services are hugely popular with aspiring and experienced writers.  She's also been a guest blogger here at YAMuses, so we definitely consider her one of our own. 

BOOMERANG is a funny, sexy, contemporary novel about two young  professionals who compete for one prized job at an online dating company while trying to forget the night they just spent together.  I read this book on a plane and found myself smiling and giggling throughout (much to the curious stares of the man in the aisle seat).  There's so much to love here, but my favorite thing of all is a little inside secret.  You see, Ethan--that soccer playing, leading man with the "ink blue eyes"-- is from Fort Collins, Colorado.  I like to believe Veronica and Lorin put that little bit of my hometown in his backstory for me to discover and laugh about despite the glares from my travel companion in 14C.  It's one of the (many) perks of having best selling authors for friends :)

So check out BOOMERANG, the first book in a sensational New Adult trilogy from Noelle August, if you want an absolutely perfect summer beach read:

Welcome to Boomerang.com, the dating site for the millennial gen with its no-fuss, no-commitments matchups, and where work is steamier than any random hook-up.

Mia Galliano is an aspiring filmmaker. Ethan Vance has just played his last game as a collegiate soccer star. They’re sharp, hungry for success, and they share a secret. Last night, Ethan and Mia met at a bar, and, well . . . one thing led to another, which led to them waking up the next morning—together. Things turned awkward in a hurry when they found themselves sharing a post hookup taxi . . . to the same place: Boomerang headquarters.

What began as a powerful connection between them is treated to a cold shower courtesy of two major complications. First, Boomerang has a strict policy against co-worker dating. And second, they’re now competitors for only one job at the end of summer.

As their internships come to an end, will they manage to keep their eyes on the future and their hands off each other, or will the pull of attraction put them right back where they started.


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Published on July 14, 2014 19:20

July 12, 2014

It's all too easy for one's early enthusiasm to wilt long before completing a novel. There really isn't any easy way through these times, but there are tricks you can play to ease yourself out of them. One is to indulge in a little self-deception. A while back, the Wall Street Journal posted The Case for Lying to Yourself, which is worth a read. The gist of it is that:
"Benefits tend to come, research shows, when people simply block out negative thoughts, envision themselves enjoying future successes, or take an optimistic view of their abilities—all of which tend to improve performance."
As a teenager I was frequently coerced into participating in school plays, but the only way I could deal with the inevitable stage fright was to 'become' my part long before I had to go on stage. That way, it wasn't happening to the real me, who felt so inadequate, but to the character I was playing, who was totally up for it, whose lines had already been written, who knew what to do.
I'm trying to finish a book by the end of August, but today I ground to a halt. I just couldn't seem to get started. So I referred to my backup: 50 Questions To Consider When Writing a Novel (a worthwhile free download from Writer's Digest), and wrote in my novel journal to identify my doubts and brainstorm solutions.
Then I pretended to be a well-published author with scads of eager fans waiting for this book. Someone who had done this a gazillion times before and made a good living from it. Someone who knew what they were doing, and didn't doubt their path through the story, who instinctively knew what should happen next.
I gave myself a writing prompt, set the timer for 30 mins, and let myself free-write nonsense, just to get my fingers moving, while pretending to be this Famous Author Who Knows What She's Doing.

And it worked. 
I just had to get myself out of the way, and let Someone Else do the writing for a while. 
Writing is really, really hard. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for struggling! You're not alone. We're all struggling. But we can do this!  And the Muses—all eleven of us—are cheering you on.


Image source: Morguefile.com

LIA KEYES is represented by Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

A British expat, she's currently finishing a fantasy adventure for young adults. You can find links to her online haunts on her website.

Lia's other musings


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Published on July 12, 2014 04:00 • 2 views

July 11, 2014

Whenever I need to find the will to write, I watch this interview with Ira Glass about putting in the time, moving forward, and pushing through 'The Gap.' Enjoy!



THE GAP by Ira Glass from frohlocke on Vimeo.
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Published on July 11, 2014 07:28 • 1 view

July 10, 2014

1. Set your alarm
2. Actually get up when the alarm goes off
3. Start writing

I'm being totally serious.

Most of the time, we don't need an incentive or a trick or a pat on the back...we just need discipline. Because like anything worthwhile in life, we don't always feel like writing.

Why am I doing this? No one is ever going to read this. This sucks. I'm tired, and the doctor said that I should get eight hours of sleep.

We come up with a million reasons to NOT write when we feel unmotivated. And I've found that the only way to push through those seasons is to use some good old fashioned GRRRRRRRRRR!

Know what I mean?

Some days I write because I'm a writer. I don't feel like writing...I have other things to do...I'm hungry...or whatever, but I make myself write. Even if it's terrible. The point is that I'm disciplining myself to do something, and that is how we get better at anything!

YOUR FEELINGS DON'T CONTROL YOU

I know, easier said than lived, but it's the key to accomplishment. Just imagine if you only did laundry and cleaned if you felt like it. Just imagine if you only ate what you felt like eating. Just imagine if you only went to work when you felt like going. Every day we do things that we don't feel like doing. Make writing one of those things. Make it a part of your life that is non-negotiable.

Writing is like breathing. You do it everyday, all the time. It's a choice, and it's one of those choices that you make for yourself. Only you can give yourself those extra minutes in the morning to write a couple hundred words before you start your extremely busy day. It's your choice.

And sometimes, that's all we get. No happy feelings, no encouragement, no nothing...just the guts and determination to stick with something regardless of how we feel.

You can do it.


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Published on July 10, 2014 04:38 • 2 views