Tag Archives: Darynda Jones

My Summer Reading Log

Trying to keep my kids reading throughout the summer is like pulling teeth and performing a root canal. Not so for me. My favorite part of summer at the pool is reading. The only time my body comes into contact with the water is to hang on the ladder for ten seconds when I get too hot. Then it’s right back to the book.

My kids had to fill out their reading logs and keep track of the books they read, so I decided to do the same. So many times someone will ask what books I’ve read recently, and I draw a complete blank. It’s not that I didn’t like the book. It’s that I read too many of them to keep track.

Without further ado, here is my reading log:
1. BOUND by Erica O’Rourke
2. THE FARM by Emily McKay
3. GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers
4. PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry
5. MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick
6. DEATH, DOOM, AND DETENTION by Darynda Jones
7. CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers
9. PAPER TOWNS by John Green
11. LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green
12. THE BEST MAN by Kristan Higgins
13. FOREVER AND A DAY by Jill Shalvis
14. SHADOW IN THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
15. THE CELESTINE PROPHECY by James Redfield
17. AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED by Khaled Hosseini
18. IT HAD TO BE YOU by Jill Shalvis
19. CRAZY LITTLE THING by Tracy Brogan
20. YOUTH IN REVOLT by C.D. Payne

I love books. Clearly. But I do have to say that I loved every single book I read this summer. I loved them for all different reasons. Some I read for escape. Some I read to better understand a culture or social position. Some I read just for the romance. When I looked at my reading log, it occurred to me that the books I like to read the most are the books that I tend to write—Young Adult. It’s a genre that’s not really a genre. It’s a group of books caught in between the cracks of so many types of books. Most of the ones I read this summer are straight contemporaries, but some paranormals entered my log. The first five books on the list were all RITA-nominated YAs, but Darynda Jones followed close on their heels. ☺ I always have to read her latest.

Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins sit together on my shelf, friends both in my bookcase as well as real life. Their romances make my heart feel lighter. They make me laugh. They make me cry. But, more important is the laughter and those family and friendship connections.

Just when I feel happy, I decide to read Khaled Hosseini, who makes me cry in a way that hurts my heart. His stories don’t tug at my heartstrings. They pull them so hard that I feel drawn and quartered by the end. But I love his books so much. They take me to countries that I’ve never been, but I feel that I have. When I put down his books, I feel like I’ve known every character intimately.

After reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS in the spring, I decided to buy John Green’s hardback collection, and I wasn’t disappointed. During our vacation, my daughters, husband and I traded John Green around like a bong at a hippie commune. If hippies actually smoked bongs. Not really sure about that as I’m not really acquainted with either hippies or bongs. I would say our John Green Marathon was successful since we all liked the books.

Several of the books were recommended by my nephew Heidar, who always gives me the best books during the summer. His recommendations were books that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own: SHADOW IN THE WIND, THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE, YOUTH IN REVOLT, and THE TORTILLA CURTAIN. And I loved these books. Every year we go to California, I hit him up for his recommendations because I want to read out of my comfort zone.

Tracy Brogan’s book was funny and light-hearted but touching in the family relationships and the zany characters. I predict big, BIG things for Ms. Brogan. ☺

And of course, I’m probably going to get yelled at when I admit that—before this summer—I had never read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. What the hell took me so long? I think it’s because I’ve always been a bit of a rebel. If you WANT me to do something, don’t tell me I have to. As I always lumped Harper Lee’s classic into the “mandatory reading” category, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. I’m so, so happy that I decided to cave to conformity. What a book! Now I understand why people read it again, and again and AGAIN.

Just writing this quick write-up about the books I read this summer makes me excited about reading—and hopefully writing—again.  If I could ever touch someone else’s life through my writing like these authors have done for me I would consider myself a success. It’s a rare gift indeed to change someone’s perspective about illegal immigration colliding with middle-class values (like THE TORTILLA CURTAIN) or doing the right thing in the face of prejudice (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD).

But, for me, it’s about teens. It’s about showing them that they aren’t alone—no matter their situation. Whether they’re struggling with that crazy hierarchy of popularity or identity crisis in any form, they need to know that they aren’t alone.
Isn’t that why we all read? To alleviate loneliness? To make our hearts feel? To know we aren’t alone?

Those are the reasons why I started reading when I was a kid and never stopped. My grandmother once said to me when I was four and bored: “When you learn to read, a whole new world will open for you. And you’ll never be lonely again.”

What books have you read lately that lifted your heart, changed your perspective or you loved for a different reason?

If you haven’t read any books lately (for shame!), what is on the top of your TBR pile?

Authors Want to Find Readers? Well, Say WATTPAD?

imgres-4Wattpad.com is a website that claims 15,000,00 monthly users and has a tag line that calls itself – The Future of Reading. If you already know about Wattpad, please share your experience, thoughts, opinions. But I didn’t know about them, so I did some reading and am summarizing my findings here.

My headline is a bold statement that sounds as if  I’m endorsing WattPad, but no, not endorsing, but I got curious. And if you already know all about it – and have experience with it, positive or negative, or found it wasn’t quite ready for authors – please comment below – because WATTPAD has potential as a place to find romance readers IMHO.

True to my last-to-know world, I was introduced to Wattpad at RWA National Conference 2013 at a workshop called Marketing Outside the Box with Darynda Jones, Angie Fox and Kieran Kramer and Stephanie Dray. It was an excellent panel, got smart insights on street teams, super fans, etc. But there was also a rep from Wattpad (sitting next to me) who was introduced by one of the panelists (Stephanie, I believe) and I was like – what?

So since Nationals, I spent a few minutes looking around the site, joined, and here’s what I discovered:

  • Its dominated by young people reading and or submitting fiction
  • Its global (seriously global)
  • It is a site where the author UPLOADs their own work or excerpts from an upcoming novel (promotion), so FREE reads means the reads the author wants the reader to have are the words posted (Wattpad is so NOT a pirating site in other words). It’s smart and reminds me of the some of the old fanfiction sites, completely driven by an author who chooses what to upload, when to update, and what keywords to select to attract readers to their work.
  • It doesn’t have a huge number of romance authors that I can find. But here are the links to names I did find! Stephanie Dray and Meg Cabot (check out what she did, including create a book club).
  • Lots of FanFiction (LOTS of real person fan fiction, which scares me:, although I used to write it in my fanfiction days:)

With 15,000,000 monthly users (that number sounds a bit fantastic – and doesn’t really say unique users, repeat users, or any of the other good stuff stats tell you about a website), I think Wattpad visited RWA13 because they are looking for more authors to use them as a vehicle for finding readers/promote their books.

Denny's MermaidsDrawbacks? Is it worth checking out?

In my humble opinion, you bet its worth checking out! The set-up is easy, no different than uploading to a WordPress website. So if you have a book to promote, why not check it out? And if you manage to sell 10 books via Wattpad (or 10,000:), the folks who are reading on wattpad now are READERS…as well as writers, authors, and more, so no harm no foul. I know when I get published – I’ll be on Wattpad:)! So yeah, maybe this was kind of an endorsement:)…



Celebrating Spring in the Pond with a Two-Book Giveaway!

by Denny S. Bryce

Denny's MermaidsI recently returned from a city in the Midwest, which will go unnamed (Minneapolis) where there was six inches of snow on the ground from a recent storm the night before. I used to live in the Midwest (Chicago). In fact I was born in the Midwest (Cleveland), so you could say I know a lot about snow, and aside from Christmas week – I HATE SNOW. Sorry skiers, ice skaters (except I used to ice skate and love it), snow boarders, whatever, the time of year that makes me most happy is SPRING! And as I look out my window this morning, I decided the Friday giveaway here at Waterworld Mermaid land is all about celebrating Spring – so tell me about your favorite romance novel that made you smile because there was spring and there was love in the air and if you don’t have a story — make one up!

And oh, last weekend was BRILLIANT because I attended the wonderful WRW In the Company of Writers Retreat. So to share some of the joy (that felt like springtime with a thunder storm mixed in:) today’s Waterworld Mermaid GIVEAWAY features books by NYTimes Best Selling authors Emily March and Darynda Jones (whom I got to meet last weekend – and she was wonderful and her books are wonderful:)! So comment below for your chance at receiving a copy of First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones and Reflection Point by Emily March.



Ask a Mermaid: Best Advice From the Lagoon

Do you have a question for Ask a Mermaid? Click to logo to submit.

We’ve had many a successful author, agent and publisher come dip that toes in the lagoon. So, for today’s Ask a Mermaid, we thought it would be fun to revisit some of share some of our favorite advice from some of our favorite authors.

Ask a Mermaid is a monthly advice column for writers. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them for you. Send in your questions to Ask a Mermaid.

Darynda Jones

How do you balance your web presence (blogging, web site, interview) with your writing?

Badly. It’s really hard to come up with that balance and it’s a constant challenge for me. I will often spend more time on writing-related content than actual writing, and that is not how it should be. I’m considering therapy.

Hank Edwards

Writing sex scenes – agony or ecstasy?
Just like having sex, I need to be in the mood. When I’m in the mood, it’s amazing. When I force myself to write them, it’s agony. A lot of time I’ll do the “XXX” trick, marking the spot in the book and come back to it when I’m feeling a little more feisty.  ; )


Chuck Wendig

What are the three most important things every romance writer should know about the inner workings of the male mind?

Oh, Sweet Jeebus, you’re making me the standard-bearer for the male-mind? Uh oh.

All right. Let’s try this.

First, we do think about sex as much as everyone says. Sometimes it’s sweet. Sometimes it’s weird. Sometimes it involves eye-popping debauchery that we could never say out loud. (“A cowgirl uniform, a birch tree, and a bucket of… fresh mulch?”)

Second, we think women are complicated. And we think we’re deliriously simple. But secretly we also know that we’re just as complicated as you, and further, we’re not all that different but we’ve all been taught how different we are and that’s our default way of thinking. In other words: we’re full of shit and most of the time we don’t realize it, so, uhh, sorry?

Third, we like romance just as much as you do, but somewhere along the way someone probably told us that it was weird and so we pretend we don’t. You merely need to remind us with examples.

Gail Barrett

What’s your schedule like lately and how do you find the time to write such intriguing suspense stories?

Ideally, I start writing by 7am every weekday. I’m a very early riser, so by 7am I’ve had my coffee and breakfast, showered and answered emails, and am ready to go.  I take a brief exercise break at around 9am to wake myself up, and then a longer exercise break in the early afternoon.  I don’t do much writing after that unless I’m on deadline.  I’m much more of a morning person. I also work on the weekends, but usually I go for a long walk with my husband in the morning, and then write for a bit in the afternoons.

Francis Ray

As a highly successful romance author who has published more than 45 titles, what advice would you give writers breaking into today’s publishing industry?

Learn the genre, read widely, don’t compare yourself to anyone, and join a writing organization.

Megan Hart

Are the processes any different for you between writing your mainstream fiction and romance? 

Not really. I approach them the same way, how am I going to tell this particular story. What is important about it. What do I need to include (or not!) to tell the story in the best way possible.

Janet Evanovich

How often do you write and do you keep a set schedule? Do you ever start to get the shakes if you don’t write? 

Seven days a week — usually eight hours at a clip. I don’t get the shakes, but I do feel the hot breath of the next deadline on my neck.

Lori Foster

With the increase in e-books, digital publishing, self publishing and all the changes in New York, where do you see the industry going and what are you doing to prepare?

Nada. I mean, I leave that up to my agent and editor and publisher and publicist. I just focus on writing the best books I know how to write. From there, it’s pretty much out of hands!

Sarah Wendell

For the sake of this question, your best friend is single, what romance hero would you set her up with?

Ooh, tough question! I’d have to think about it, as there are so many very different heroes. It isn’t as if there’s one perfect dude for everyone and all the romance writers create books about him. Each hero is perfect for the heroine he’s matched with in each novel… so there’s no one perfect hero, alas.

Ask a Mermaid is a monthly advice column for writers. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them for you. Send in your questions to Ask a Mermaid.

Hey There Darynda!

I’m honored to welcome the fabulous Darynda Jones to the lagoon today.

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t listen when I was told I just had to read FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT.  But I’m glad to say that when I did, I could immediately buy SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT.  For the first time in my life, I paid full price for a hardback book.  It was worth every penny.   Many times over…

Then I—along with all of Darynda’s other fans—had to sit and (im)patiently wait until THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD came out.

I’ve stalked her on Twitter.  I’ve visited her website so many times for updates on her books that I’m sure to get banned from there soon.

Imagine my surprise when she so generously agreed to be interviewed by me—with nary a restraining order in sight.

In 2009, Darynda’s unpublished manuscript (FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT) won RWA’s Golden Heart award for Best Paranormal Romance.  Less than three years later, Darynda is a double RITA nominee in two categories (Best First Book; and Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements) for that same book, only it’s now not only published but a bestseller.

Let’s ask Darynda a few questions, and maybe she’ll even answer a few more…

1.    What was your inspiration for FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT?

My inspiration was actually my heroine Charley herself. She just kind of popped into my head one morning, told me all about her life, and the rest is history. It was her personality that drew me to her more than anything, though. I wanted a character who was fun and a tad crazy but who lived in a rather dark world. I wanted her to have accepted her circumstances, to treat them rather everyday, like they were nothing special, and not be a whiner about them. LOL

2.    How many books do you anticipate there being in the series?

Well, my editor wants it to be ongoing, so there’s just no telling. I would love it to continue for quite a while longer. I adore writing about Charley and her antics.

3.    Please, please, PLEASE tell us that Charley and Reyes finally get together in the flesh.  I know that’s not a question.  So just comment.  And comment to my liking.  🙂

Hahaha. They definitely do, and quite soon. *wink wink*

4.    In real life, are you more like Charley or her best friend Cookie? 

You know, I’m not sure I’m very much like Cookie. She is super savvy, efficient, a tireless worker . . . yeah, that’s not me. I am like Charley in one very basic element: We both suffer from serious cases of ADD.

5.    Do you have a Cookie in your life?  I think everyone should have one. 

Oh, don’t I wish! I agree. Everyone should have a Cookie. And if I ever find one, I’m going to kidnap her and force her to do research and go to the post office for me.

6.    How many hours a day do you write?

It kind of depends on where I’m at in the process and how tight of a schedule I’m on. If I’m on a first draft, I will usually write (actually put new words on paper) anywhere from 2-10 hours a day, although I will be at my computer for more like 14. There is SO much more to writing than writing. If I am nearing my deadline, my hours will jump up from there.

7.    Do you have something special you do as a reward for reaching a goal?   (Finishing a book.  Finishing a tough chapter…)

Well, I am all about the reward system. LOL. After I finish a deadline, I will take a couple of days off (schedule permitting) and just vegetate. My brain is usually quite mushy by then anyway. Finishing a tough chapter? I will probably take the evening off and watch an episode of my favorite television show or go to a movie.

8.    There is a rumor going around that FIRST GRAVE may become a television series.  Can you tell us a bit about that?  And if it happens, how in the world will anybody be good enough to play either Charley or Reyes?? 

Yep! It actually sold to CBS for the CW a couple of years ago. Hopefully they’ll do something with it someday, though I’m not holding my breath. I can see several women playing Charley. For some reason, that is not nearly as much of a challenge as finding someone to play Reyes. I do not envy the casting director that job.

9.    I’ve heard you mention your sons, who you call the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.  How old are they?  Have they read your books?  And if so, are they proud, embarrassed (by the hot scenes) or a little bit of both?

My boys are awesome even though my youngest wrecked my car yesterday. LOL. They are 23 and (as of today) 19.

My oldest is Deaf and is not a fan of the English language, so he has a great excuse, but neither has read my books. It doesn’t bother me in the least. My husband doesn’t read my books either. I have no problem with that at all. However, many of their friends, especially girls, do read them and that gets funny. One girl texted my youngest and commented on how hot they were. My son texted me with: “MOM! What exactly are you writing???”

It’s the little things in life.

10. What author living or dead would you want to meet and why?

Well, since I’ve met the amazing JR Ward and the incredible Neil Gaiman, I guess I would love to meet Stephen King. I’d also love to meet Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. Oh, and Mary Shelley. How cool would that be? And I’d love to have a face-to-face with Suzanne Collins. And Stephen Hunter! Okay, you said ‘author.’ Sorry. They’re like Lay’s Potato Chips, you can’t pick just one.

11. What books have you read recently?  Any book recommendations for those waiting patiently for FOURTH GRAVE BENEATH MY FEET?

Well, anything by JR Ward should do the trick! LOL. That woman is amazing. Also, Molly Harper and Jacquelyn Frank. Fantastic books!

12. What time of the day do you find most productive for writing?

A quarter past deadline. 🙂

13. How did you come up with your character names?

Actually Charley Davidson was originally named Harley Davidson. My editor put a stop to that silliness, so Charley was born.

As for Reyes, I was writing First Grave while interpreting at our local Jr. High and there was a kid whose first name was Reyes. I’d never heard it as a first name before and just fell in love. So I told him I was stealing it. He seemed okay with my thievery.

Oddly enough, at that very same school, there was another kid named Garrett who was sitting a couple of desks away from me while I was trying to come up with a name for, you guessed it, Garrett. Weird. And Swopes is the last name of one of my best friends.

I had a friend named Cookie who lived in Albuquerque many years ago and stole her name for my loyal, fashion-challenged administrative assistant.

Uncle Bob is in homage to the Terminator where John Connor introduces the Terminator to his friends as Uncle Bob. I thought that was too funny.

14. You have a YA series debuting in October.  Can you tell us a little bit about that?  How many books do you think will be in the series?

Absolutely! The Darklight series will be a trilogy. Here is a quick blurb:

Ten years ago, Lorelei’s parents disappeared without a trace.  Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home.  For Lorelei, life goes on.

 High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be.  Until the day the school’s designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it, standing outside her house in the dark, night after night.  Things get even more complicated when a new guy—terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach—comes to school.  Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity.  What does Jared know about her parents?  Why does Cameron tell Jared he can’t have Lorelei?  And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real? 

15. Do you listen to music when you write?  Do you come up with a playlist for your books and characters? 

I don’t listen to music while I write at all. I must have complete silence. There is enough chaos in my head while I write. Music only adds to the confusion.

16.  How do you balance your web presence (blogging, web site, interview) with your writing?

Badly. It’s really hard to come up with that balance and it’s a constant challenge for me. I will often spend more time on writing-related content than actual writing, and that is not how it should be. I’m considering therapy.

17. Do you believe in an afterlife?  Supernatural? 

I do believe in the afterlife, I’m just not sure how much of it I believe is here on Earth. I am quite the skeptic.

18. Plotter or pantser?

Plotter. I MUST know where my story is going or I get lost in all that confusion I mentioned earlier and it’s hard to come back from that. Pantsers amaze me. They are like these mystical creatures who are not really of this world. I think they’re from Saturn. Or one of its rings.

19. Tea or Coffee? 

Coffee. Sigh….

20. Do you snack when you write?  If so, what are some of your favorites?

Gah! I’m so boring. No, I don’t snack. It’s too distracting. LOL.


One lucky commenter will get his/her choice of either of Darynda’s October 2012 releases:  FOURTH GRAVE BENEATH MY FEET; or DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR–the first in her YA series.   And making it even better…Darynda will personally sign it!  The winner will be randomly chosen and posted on Sunday.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I wish Darynda the very best of luck in Anaheim at RWA’s RITA Awards in July.  Thank you, Darynda, for swimming with your mermaid fans!   And those on dry land.