The Silver Lining | Interview and contest with Denise Jaden, author of LOSING FAITH!!!

Today I have an interview with my super fabulous critique partner, Denise Jaden. Her debut novel, LOSING FAITH, comes out Tuesday from Simon Pulse!!! After the interview, you’ll have a chance to win a SIGNED COPY OF LOSING FAITH! Contest information below.

I’ve never been this excited for a book release because you see, I’ve been with this book from the very beginning. I remember when she sent me a paragraph blurb for her new book idea and asked me if I thought it would be a good project to work on. I was hooked immediately! Next came a short, 10-sentence outline of the book. Even from that I knew she’d have something good. I went on to read and critique several drafts, from the very first one that came out in a rush during Nanowrimo to reading after she’d implemented some of her editors’ comments to make sure she’d nailed them. If I can read a book multiple times and love it more each and every time, you know it’s good! I’m so thrilled she gets to share it with the world and I can’t wait to hear everyone’s reaction.

Oh and did I mention THE BOOK IS DEDICATED TO ME?!?!?!??!?!?!??!

A terrible secret. A terrible fate. 
When Brie’s sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie’s world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.
As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don’t line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night…a secret that puts her own life in danger.


Question 1: One thing I find interesting is that your first draft of LOSING FAITH came in at roughly 49k (per your emails) but the final draft is almost 80k. One of the reasons we work so well as crit partners is that you’re an underwriter to start and I’m a word vomiter. During an email while writing the first draft, you told me, "what descriptions??? ha ha. That’s why I end up so low on word count. My MS is mostly dialogue and IM… a few actions woven in." It’s interesting to me because I think your book has such wonderful and unique descriptions/actions. What was your revision process like to add that stuff in?

Answer: My outline and first draft are always about how things “work.”  I need to make sure the plot and character relationships make sense and I usually blaze through at this point, only slowing down when I’m unsure about the logic of a scene. Later drafts move much slower for me, and I spend lots of time in the wee hours of the morning really trying to see and hear the characters and each situation they find themselves in. Even though I usually *think* I know my characters after the first draft, I really don’t know them well until at least the third or fourth drafts, and even then, with each draft I get to know/see/hear so much more.

Question 2: My favorite thing about the book is your voice. You told me while writing that you really pushed yourself on the voice. It definitely shows. How did you go about doing this? Did the voice change at all over the course of revisions?

Answer: With my first couple of novels (before Losing Faith), I just wrote when I felt like it and really let my muse drive the stories. With Losing Faith, first of all, I was strict with my writing schedule, as it was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – writing an entire novel in a month). It was also the first book I had outlined, and while I didn’t follow the outline to a “T,” I didn’t shy away when it took me to areas I wasn’t completely comfortable with and even on days when I didn’t feel capable of writing a certain level of emotion. I pushed myself to do it anyway, and I think I found things within myself I wouldn’t have otherwise found. It was probably the process of outlining that showed me how to create much more active characters as well.

The voice did change over time, and boy am I glad it did! The original first page is hidden on my website (it’s a bit of a treasure hunt to find it), but it’s basically just one big rant from the main character, Brie. I worked in later drafts to round Brie out and soften her problems with the people and world around her.

Question 3: Four days into writing your first draft, you told me the theme of your book is, "Just follow your fingertips. That’s turned out to be a big theme in my book actually. Brie thinks that everyone else has a Big Plan for their life. Rather than getting a big plan for hers, she’s learning to enjoy an unplanned life." Would you say that theme still remains the same? What changed over the course of your revisions in regard to your vision for the book?

Answer: I still think that having peace with where life takes you and making the best of all situations are underlying themes for the book. There are other themes that I see as stronger now too: finding out who your real friends are and valuing them; don’t take for granted the people you see every day; look deeper and really get to know people while you have the chance. I think Losing Faith is about a lot of things, but if I had to pick one line, it would be this: It’s a story about secrets, and wishing you had paid more attention.

Question 4: And in terms of plot and character, what were the larger changes you made over the course of revisions? I know I can think of a few things! I also was super impressed with the way you really amped up the characterization in revisions. It seemed to me the general plot stayed relatively the same but the characters changed a lot, gaining layers and becoming 3D. Do you have a different process for plot revisions versus characterization? How did you tackle each?

Answer: I think just the process of working through multiple drafts brought me a deeper understanding of the characters. As I made changes to the plot, I would have to spend a lot of time thinking about what the characters would really say and do in different situations.  

Probably the biggest plot changes I can remember involved a larger cult-group that I had tried tying into the story. A critique partner had discussed this idea with me during earlier drafts, and I had the impression from various readers at that stage that the climax wasn’t quite impacting enough. So I tried adding in a cult group with an established adult leader. I ended up taking this subplot out during revisions with my editor, as she felt it might keep the story more focused on the teens in the story if I removed that one adult figure. Seeing the finished product now, I completely agree with the change.

Another big change plot-wise (or series of ongoing changes) was how to make the best use of Faith’s best friend, Celeste. I had a struggle with where and how to bring her into the story without giving away too much of the mystery up front. The idea of writing another book with a strong mystery element still scares me, since this was a big struggle for me in this book.

Question 5: It still completely boggles my mind that my absolute favorite character (definitely in my top ten all-time characters not just in your books) wasn’t even part of your original outline. How did Tessa come about while writing? How did it affect your outline?

Answer: I think I was mid-way through my writing-a-novel-in-a-month mission, when I decided there was something missing. Brie had lost her sister, she was devastated and looking for answers, she’d seen this strange boy around, but hadn’t yet made contact. I started to notice how much time Brie was spending alone and I knew it was a problem and starting to affect the pace. I brainstormed about what kind of a sidekick I could bring in for Brie, and suddenly Tessa just appeared, and kind of stole the show!

Question 6: A few days into writing, you wrote this to me, "I’m deciding now whether or not to write the scene where Brie finds out her sister is dead. I didn’t have it in my outline, but now I feel so close in her perspective that it would make the reader feel left out not to have it in there. So I’ll probably write something… though I haven’t actually thought of how that scene would play out." When I went back through my emails and saw that, I nearly gasped. Because the scene where Brie finds out her sister is dead is my absolute favorite in the book. It’s so powerful and gut wrenching and the writing just shines in that passage. So I’d love to know more about the writing of that scene. The inspiration? The process?  Etc?

Answer: Honestly, you’re going to be very disappointed in my answer here: I don’t remember. I really don’t.


I *think* this might mean that I was just in the zone and not really myself, and churning out the scene without even really realizing what I was doing. It has been three years though, so that may not have been it at all. I honestly don’t recall any particular inspiration though. Somehow, I just wrote it.

Oh, I do remember one small tidbit: When I came up with the visual of the Faith-like sweatshirt first at the nurse’s station in the hospital and then crumpled and dirty in her dad’s hands, that visual definitely spurred me on to write the scene.

Thanks so much, Denise, for the great interview! I love that I was able to ask you questions no one else could possibly ask! haha.

And now I get to share the book with my blog readers through a contest!


In the interview above, Denise and I discussed how one of the themes of the book is that everyone but Brie has a Big Plan for life.

So in the comments, please tell me what your BIG PLAN for your life is (if you have one, that is. A plan, not a life, haha.).

You can also tweet your Big Plan by starting the tweet with "My Big Plan is" and including both @shanasilver (so I can find your entry) and the hashtag #losingfaithbook. Without these elements, the entry won’t count because I won’t be able to track it.

Each separate comment and each separate tweet will count as an entry. Enter as many times as you want.

– Please tally all your points into a comment and provide links when necessary (or include @shanasilver on twitter so I see it there and then just include your twitter name in your comment so I can tally it to you).
– This contest is open only to US and Canada residents
– Contest ends Tuesday September 7th at 11:59pm EST.

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32 Responses

  1. The Blog Tour Celebration Starts Here!

    User referenced to your post from The Blog Tour Celebration Starts Here! saying: […] the next two weeks in celebration of my launch of LOSING FAITH. I hope you’ll stay and join in on the party!

    I’ll be offering three GRAND prizes for party-goers, as well as lots of little party favors along the way. There will be a fun Blog Tour going on, which will include some of my most valued critique partners, author friends, and made-of-awesome YA Book Bloggers. And the best part of all? Every time you visit and comment on a different stop on the official blog tour, it’ll earn you entries for the Grand Prize drawing! And don’t worry, I’ll make it really easy for you, leaving the links to the new stops here each day.

    What are the fabulous, GRAND Prizes, you ask? Well, let me tell you…

    Prize Pack A will include:

    CRASH INTO ME by Albert Borris
    CRUSADE by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
    STUPID CUPID by Rhonda Stapleton
    VAMPIRE BEACH by Alex Duval
    SWOON by Nina Malkin
    UNLEASHED by Kristopher Reisz
    WHAT WOULD EMMA DO by Eileen Cook
    NEVER AFTER by Dan Elconin
    DARK VISIONS by L.J. Smith

    Prize Pack B will include:

    STUPID CUPID by Rhonda Stapleton
    PUCKER UP by Rhonda Stapleton
    KISS IT  by Erin Downing
    WATCH ME by Lauren Barnholdt
    THE HOLLOW by Jessica Verday
    NEVER AFTER by Dan Elconin
    AT FIRST SIGHT by Catherine Hapka
    SWOON by Nina Malkin
    UNLEASHED by Kristopher Reisz

    Prize Pack C will inlcude:

    LIVING DEAD GIRL by Elizabeth Scott
    CAN’T HOLD ME DOWN by Liah B. LeFlore and DL Warfield
    AT FIRST SIGHT by Catherine Hapka
    THE HOLLOW by Jessica Verday
    CRASH INTO ME by Albert Borris
    CRUSADE by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
    STUPID CUPID by Rhonda Stapleton
    VAMPIRE BEACH by Alex Duval

    These prize packs would be like a whole new book shelf for three of you! Plus I’ll be sure to include some Losing Faith bookmarks, stickers, and other swag in each grand prize pack! Just sayin…

    BUT WAIT! There’s more good news…

    Each day on my blog, I’ll be giving you a new (and, for the most part, simple) way to earn yourself more entries for the grand prizes. So stop by daily. I promise it will be lots and lots of fun.

    WAIT, WAIT, WAIT! That’s not all…

    Aside from these awesome Grand Prizes, there will be a Treasure Hunt (the “treasure” being in the form of LOSING FAITH books and other goodies) on several stops along the Official Blog Tour. I will not be giving any copies of LOSING FAITH away on my blog – I decided to hide them along the blog tour instead. And I’m not going to tell you which blogs will be hosting these additional, bonus contests. You’ll have to follow along on the blog tour to find out! Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of chances to win prizes right here too – iTunes gift cards, Losing Faith journals and hats, and much more!

    Nitty gritty contest details: this contest is for ages 13 and up. I will mail one grand prize internationally, but I can’t do all three. So if you are an international entry, feel free to comment and enter as often as you like, but if an international recipient receives the first grand prize, unfortunately, you would not be eligible for the subsequent ones. All “Treasure Hunt” contests are run by the individual blog owners, but assume that they are also for ages 13 and up and for Canadian and U.S. residents only, unless otherwise stated.

    The grand prize contest will run until midnight (PST) on September 14th.

    Day 1 – How can I earn my first entry for the Grand Prizes, you ask…


    Here are the stops on the Official Blog Tour. Drop by and comment for one entry each!

    BLOG TOUR – On YA BOOK QUEEN’s  blog you can find out which character I’d like to spend the day as!


  2. Such a great interview! My big plan is to travel the world, photographing different landscapes, cultures, animals, seascapes, architecture, most everything really. I would like to possibly write article on the places I go to add with my photos in hopes of encouraging people to help take better care of the beautiful world we live in. Is that big enough for you? lol.


  3. I’ll join in the celebration! No contest entry needed.

    I loved reading more about your overall process on this book, especially since I was only there for a small part of it.

    I also find your overall process intriguing. So many people write too much in the rough draft then trim back in revisions. I’m very much a no outline, revise and trim as I go person. There are so many more options than “planner” or “panster”, as many people call it. Half the battle is finding then trusting what works for you.

  4. My Big Plan

    My big plan for life is to get my 3 kids through school safely, happily and with excellent grades. After that, I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far ahead. I don’t want to get overwhelmed!

  5. My big plan.. what is my big plan. I really have no idea. I just started grad school right now, which I suppose is working toward something. I know I definitely want to travel and have a sort of photographical diary of my journeys. I think that would be amazing.

    Thanks so much for the interview–it was fun reading more of the technical aspects of her writing process.


  6. behind the writing

    How great to peer behind the scenes and see how the book evolved – not just the book, how Denise has evolved into the Writer and person she is becoming!

  7. I remember seeing this book reviewed a while ago, and it had sounded sooo good. So cool that you were a critique partner for it!

    As for my big plan, it is to become a published author. I’ve also been trying to come up with a backup big plan, so I don’t end up living in a box, but nope, I’m still pretty directionless as I drift through college. *sigh*

  8. I don’t really have a big plan, which is, in part, intentional. Not that I’m super spontaneous, but I do like to be willing to go where life leads.

    Loved that Denise doesn’t really feel she knows her characters until draft 3 or 4. I’m the same. I always think that if I did more/better character sketches beforehand, it’d be different, but no… my characters just don’t turn out how I’d planned.

    Great questions, Shana! Loved the peek into Denise’s writing process.

    tweeted (@sharigreen), so 1 comment + 1 tweet 🙂

  9. I’m in the midst of living my big plan so I hope to continue to be able to do so.

    I just read the first two chapters of Losing Faith on Denise’s website and I’m most definitely hooked!


  10. What a great interview, ladies! Loved the deep behind the scenes!

    My big plan is to replace my current income with writing income so that I can write all the time – in my pajamas!

    I tweeted (most of) that too -@kaistrand for two points. Super fun contest. Great job.

  11. This was such a wonderful interview–its amazing how a story can take on a life of its own (49K to 80K! yowzer!)

    Hmm…I mean my big plan is to one day take over the world. Brain (from Pinky and the Brain) convinced me that its an admirable dream to have. I won’t be sharing my plans with anyone quite as…dense at Pinky, but its good to have cannon fodderminions like him around right?

    XD My slightly less megalomaniac sounding big plan is to earn my degree as a Paralegal, work in a law firm for 3 years while getting myself into peak physical condition, learn parkour and than apply to the FBI for their legal department. While I have always wanted to be a field agent, I don’t really have the guts I don’t think. Or super-cool bouncy hair that stays perfect. Both seem to be pre-requisites.

    I also hope to one day publish a novel, travel the world and convince any one of the 100 guys I am in ‘love’ with to marry me. Or all of them. Figure if I take over the world I can set my own rules and who’s going to nay say to me having a male harem?

    Lexie C.
    Poisoned Rationality

  12. I don’t actually have a big plan…I prefer to take things one day at a time.

    Raelena (Throuthehaze)
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  13. Isn’t it a blessing that after losing someone a new person comes into your life to make you smile again? It’s kind of like Brie and Tessa’s friendship.

    Okay, so my Big Plan for my future is to get a life, lol, just kidding.

    Seriously, what I want for life right now is to study really hard and focus on what’s going to support me and my family in the future, but also enjoying each minute of the road I’m taking. I want to finish my studies and then get a job, have my family by my side and just breath in the days that are to come with a happy smile on my face. It kind of sounds like a cliche but that’s my Big Plan. To be surrounded by the people I love and who love me without asking for nothing in return, to make each day as glory and fun as ever. Read lots of books and, why not, write my own one day. And a job!! hahaha I musn’t forget that. 🙂

    Thanks for taking the time to do the interview and thank you Denise for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. 🙂

    My e-mail is

  14. Wow!!!

    That was a very in-depth interview and I really felt like I got to know Denise as a writer.

    I’ve already achieved part of my Big Plan – which is to become a school librarian – but I also plan on buying a house and having kids with my wonderful husband in the next few years.

    dragonzgoil at gmail dot com

  15. Wow, those are some great big plans, everybody! (maybe I should come up with one of my own…hmmm)

    Thanks so much for stopping by to comment, and thanks so much, Shana, for hosting me!!

  16. No Life

    Not sure if I have a life, but…
    My Big Plan is to Write (yes, with Caps). I’m only a teen, but I’m working on a book, that I was to Finish and Publish. (Yay, Caps!)

  17. Awesome interview. I’ve been interested in LOSING FAITH, and this really helped me get a feel for the author.

    Hmm, I’m not too sure about the specifics, but my Big Plan is to graduate college with a degree I’m crazy about, and find a job that will comfortably support my future family. 🙂
    (So basically, I have a General Plan, but not a Real Plan. Ha ha!)

    – Lauren

  18. I just wanted to say that this is one of the best interviews I’ve ever read. It probably helps that the two of you know each other, but I loved all the insight into the book in its early stages.

    Thanks Shana and Denise!

  19. Big Plan

    I have lots of big plans, but the biggest is to be self-reliant and happy in life! 🙂

    Thanks! Scoot


  20. So many “Plans”, So Little Time

    My big plan will have to be… getting through high school! And getting into college. I was hoping on going to a university on the east coast.
    Oh, and by the way, nice contest 🙂

  21. So many “Plans”, So Little Time

    My big plan will have to be… getting through high school! And getting into college. I was hoping on going to a university on the east coast.
    Oh, and by the way, nice contest 🙂

    – HappyLauren

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