Sunday, November 20, 2011

Made of Awesome: Darker Still Signing + YA Novel Discovery Competition

This past Monday I attended a book signing for Leanna Renee Hieber's Darker Still, the first book in her new young adult series. Thanks to some Twitter chat, I found out she was coming to Dayton, Ohio–only about an hour from me–so I grabbed my camera and my book-loving mother-in-law and we were off on a mini road trip!

In addition to the signing and a Q+A session, Leanna also read several scenes from the book itself and I have to say, she absolutely blew me away. It was more a performance than a simple reading, as she read with unabashed enthusiasm and had every single person at the event completely rapt. She gestured wildly, made faces, affected a British accent when Denbury spoke, and just generally made the event an absolute blast.

Over the course of the evening, the weather in Dayton got progressively worse, so since my mother-in-law and I weren't in a hurry to drive back to Columbus in the torrential rain, Leanna suggested we meet downstairs in the yogurt shop that was part of the store and chat while we waited the storm out. She was incredibly sweet to take additional time after the signing to sit with the two of us plus fellow blogger Colette from A Buckeye Girl Reads, and I cannot thank her enough for making me feel like a friend instead of just a fan or a blogger.

Below are a few pictures I snapped from the event:

Me and Leanna

In addition to attending the book signing, this week I also learned of a very cool competition for aspiring young adult authors and wanted to share all the details for anyone who might be interested!


Serendipity Literary Agency, in collaboration with Gotham Writers’ Workshop, is hosting its second Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition for a chance to win a one-on-one consultation with one of New York’s leading YA literary agents!

If you’ve written a novel for young adults—or have an idea for one that you would like to write—we invite you to enter our contest. Simply submit an enticing title along with the first 250 words from the opening of your original YA novel:


The Grand Prize Winner
will have the opportunity to submit an entire manuscript to YA literary agent Regina Brooks and receive a free, 10-week writing course, courtesy of Gotham Writers' Workshop, plus a collection of gourmet teas from

The Top Five Entrants
(including the Grand Prize winner) will receive a 15-minute, one-on-one pitch session with Regina Brooks, one of New York’s premier literary agents for young adult books. They will also receive commentary on their submissions by editors at Scholastic, Disney, Harlequin Teen, Random House, Viking, Roaring Brook Press, Sourcebooks, and Kimani Tru and receive a one-year subscription to The Writer magazine.

The First 50 Entrants
will receive a copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.

(contest ends November 30th, 2011)


  1. Oh my gosh, what a cool contest! I am definitely going to check this out And love the picture of you. You look different than I expected.

  2. Lovely photo's. I've never been to a book signing but they look such good fun!

  3. This sounds great! It's so nice to get the chance to talk to authors like the real people they are. The book sounds very good, but I think it would be a little creepy for me. I love when authors are also good public speakers, and read their books very well - I've been to some excellent author events, and then some others where it was almost painful to watch - it sounds like it was a lot of fun with her doing the voices and things.


  4. OMG! OMG! OMG! So entering! (If I can) So many great opportunities in one weekend! The exclamation centre of my brain is going to EXPOLDE! Thanks Jenny!!!

  5. That is so exciting! It looks like you a great time at the signing. Thanks for sharing your pics with us. The location of the signing looked gorgeous and perfect for Darker Still, which I still need to get my hands on! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  6. OH WOW! Is it just me, or did that first picture make it look like it was glowing??? LOL, SO COOL! :)

    And I love this contest so much! If I was already finished with my book then I definitely would've entered, but I've been kind of in a procrastinating mood for a while LOL! x) But still -- that's so amazing!! Thanks so much for sharing this, Jenny!

  7. Leanna was fabulous and really brought her book to life. She was very generous with her time. Thank you Jenny for allowing me to take this journey with you!!!

  8. That signing sounds like it would have been such an awesome event! I wish I could attend something like that sometime. I'm actually reading Darker Still at the moment and am already loving it! I'm jealous you got to go, but I'm so happy you had a great time. :D

  9. Alison - Isn't that contest amazing? I wish I had a novel in the works I could submit:) And I'm going to try and take "different" as a compliment:)

    Karen - It was a lot of fun. Leanna was just too adorable for words:)

    Ailsa - Exactly! She was so nice and so excited to talk to everyone that came, it just made me love her books even more.

    Kris - Yay! Glad I could bring it to your attention:)

    Christina - I did! Not too many authors come to good old Ohio, so I try to go whenever they do:) I loved that Books & Co had a huge fireplace for her to read in front of, it was the perfect setting. The pouring rained helped a little too:)

    Mimi - It does look like it's glowing! I adore that cover, I always catch myself staring at it. And I hope they have another competition like this for when you've got your book done and can submit it:)

    Cathy - Oh please. You know I drag you everywhere with me:)

    Rebecca - It was a blast, definitely more than worth the hour and some drive to get there. So glad you're enjoying Darker Still!

  10. You're so much better than me about taking pictures! I completely forgot my camera for the Y'All fest *fail*. This book sounds so amazing--I really need to read it.

    Wish I had something to enter into that contest! How awesome they're giving people such an amazing chance?

  11. I love when authors are amazing like that - it makes their books so much better to know the person behind it. :)

  12. What a great reading/signing experience you had! That's awesome. You got some nice pics, too.

  13. Love the pics from the signing! That's a pretty cool competition too! I just bought the Regina Brooks book - it seems pretty good!

  14. You better be entering that YA competition! For da realz, Jenny! I want to attend your book signing one day.

  15. Mary - I'm usually really bad about taking pictures, I've been 2 two signings where I didn't take any at all so I resolved to make sure I remembered this time:)

    Amanda - Me too! It was just so much fun:)

    Lisa - Thanks! It was a great event:)

    Leanna - I think the competition is amazing, such a great opportunity for YA writers!

    Missie - I wish! I'm not creative enough for a whole novel, my abilities are limited to 3 or 4 paragraph reviews and some cover snarkiness:)

  16. Only a couple of paragraphs, you say? Well, I don't believe that, Jenny. Not at all. ;)

  17. A. Awesome picture!
    B. You're so cute!
    C. Yah! Thanks for sharing your experience and images with us.

  18. You are SO pretty!!

    Yes, you need to enter this contest. You know why I won't. I know you've read my blog! LOL I've read yours so I say... enter!!!!!

  19. I feel like a curmudgeon pointing this out but:

    "Entry fee is $15.00 (USD) payable by credit card or check."


    Now, if this is correct and I haven't missed some sort of waiver or small print that contradicts this, then...

    Paying to enter a writing contest is very much like paying for an agency to read your submission. Reputable agents really shouldn't ask you to pay for this service. If so, their business model is more akin to a writers' workshop or writers' advice company - not an agency that is going to place your book in front of a serious publisher.

    Money should only flow one direction, as little as it may be. In a writer/agent/publisher relationship that's from the publisher to the writer, with an agent taking their well-deserved cut along the way, never up front before some deal is made.

    That's a world away from paying someone to "consider" your novel - even if it is couched in the form of a contest. 15 dollars to read 250 words may appear small change, but is rather steep when you consider you're paying someone approximately 6 cents a word with no promises of anything.

    To put that in perspective, a jobbing author only gets paid 3-5 cents a word for being published in Strange Horizons or up to 6 cents a word for Asimov’s Science Fiction, both well respected genre publications with a wide readership.

    I'd say avoid unless you're happy paying 15 dollars for what will be a raffle for most entrants. If so, the best of luck and don't let me discourage you from following your dream but do be aware of what you're getting involved in.

  20. I always love hearing about author events, since where I live isn't exactly considered a cultural or literary mecca. Looks like you guys had a good time!


  21. It sounds like this was such a fun event and it was really sweet of Leanna to hang out with you for a bit.

    Hmm, you look a little different. I feel like you got tan or something. Regardless, you look good :)

  22. Missie - It's true:) I work best in short bursts ;-)

    Juju - Thank you! I think everyone usually dislikes pictures of themselves so looking at the above makes me grimace a little, but Leanna was just too cute that I had to post it:)

    Melissa - *blushes* Thank you:):) If I had a good idea for a story I probably would, but I don't unless it's a book full of cover critiques. That would be fun:)

    Eric - I appreciate you bringing this to everyone's attention. Ultimately it's up to each individual to decide whether or not it's worth it to them, and this blog is merely bringing attention to a possible opportunity should they wish to explore it.

    Lori - We had a great time, weather and all:)

    Zahida - I think maybe it's just the lighting making me look more tan than I would otherwise, because I'm super fair. Glad you think it's working for me, I should see if I can get that lighting installed wherever I go ;-)

  23. From your pics it looks like a beautiful venue that the signing took place in. BTW that's a great pic of the book that you took too.

  24. I wish I could go to author signings, maybe there will be some going on this summer. On a side note, I think we have the same top. :)

  25. I'm so jealous! That sounds like it was so much fun. Next time I come to Ohio, I'm so planning it around an author signing. LOL!

    Also, that YA 250 word submission, do you think it sounds legit? I get nervous of anything that sounds too good to be true. Know what I mean? Not that it would be easy to come in number one with the amount of submissions, but hopefully you know what I mean.

  26. DUDE!!! This is totally MADE of AWESOME!!!

  27. The event sounds amazing! That's great that you got to go. I love when the authors really get into it and get the accents right and gesture and all that. Glad it was a great time and that you got to chat with her a bit!

  28. Ooh that sounds like such a cool event! Especially being able to talk with Leanna afterwards. Very fun. =) I'm totally intrigued with 'Darker Still', I think I'll have to check it out.

  29. I just love seeing your picture!!! Miss you Jenny! :-)))
    This truly seems like an awesome event!

  30. That sounds like such a great event! And a great contest. Too bad my NaNo novel sucks like Zahn's wardrobe designer!

    Heather :)

  31. Your pictures turned out great!! That signing was so much fun. I still have to download my pictures!

  32. She cuts quite a figure, doesn't she?
    I'm reading Darker Still right now and absolutely loving it!

  33. How exciting that you got to attend this event! And even MORE exciting that you got to hang out with her afterwards!

  34. thank you so much for a heads up on this contest!! I'll totally have to share it with my sister who's a crazy reader, sometimes writer as well!