Sunday, November 28, 2010


When we started this blog, we decided it would be a good idea for the authors' first posts to explain what writing outside the lines meant to them. I have begun composing a post like that, and stopped, about five times.

I do not want to think about it right now, okay? I am not in a Happy Place. One of my editors is supposed to be reading my to-be-published manuscript and sending me her notes on revising it, like, YESTERDAY. My other editor is considering buying another novel from me AS WE SPEAK. Worst of all, The Novel I Love So Much That I Will Just Die If It Isn't Published is out on submission RIGHT NOW!

(Note: I won't actually die if nobody buys this novel. A lot of my novels have not sold, and I am not dead yet. But this one is going to hurt.)

The last thing I want to do is dwell on how my writing doesn't fit in and isn't best-selling; how I have a knack for comedy in a dark market, a taste for unglamorous subject matter, and an absolute insistence on a happy ending (and killing the hero and having him meet the heroine in heaven DOES NOT COUNT). Like Tara, I write the book I want to read. That standard won't change, even if it damages my career. This business will break your heart, and if writing isn't fun, none of this is worth it. Period.

So come back in December and maybe I'll be in a mood to post about being thankful and the season of giving and stuff. Right now I'm going to stop whining and give away books.

You have 5 chances to win 1 book each, and you can choose from anything I've got:

MAJOR CRUSH. Hey, aspiring authors, don't write a romantic comedy set in marching band, okay? The only way that's going to be your first sale is if there happens to be a band geek working as an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster. (Thank you Katie!)

THE BOYS NEXT DOOR + the sequel, ENDLESS SUMMER, in one volume. Full of romance cliches like a love triangle, pretending to date one boy to make another boy jealous, and falling in love with your BFF. You wouldn't like it.

THE EX GAMES. Proves to my critique partner that you can too say "fire crotch" in a teen romantic comedy. Ha!

GOING TOO FAR. About a 17-year-old Teen At Risk who falls in love with the 19-year-old cop who arrested her. The book I have loved the most, and therefore the hardest one to sell--though I'm afraid The Book I Love So Much That I Will Just Die If It Doesn't Sell is about to give GOING TOO FAR a run for its money.

FORGET YOU. Represents my finest triumph, because I wrote inside the lines for once. I had the good sense to take the __ out before this book was published. You should never, ever put a __ in your teen romantic drama in the first place. When my editor and I discussed the revision of this book, she did NOT tell me to take the __ out. She told me to take out only one scene with the __ because it wasn't working for her. I e-mailed her back, saying, "Upon reflection, I am going to take the __ out of the whole novel because it's not very romantic." She replied, "I'll bet that sentence has never been written before in the history of English."

I am going to draw 5 winners from the comments. Open to U.S. addresses only, please. Contest closes on December 15. Each of you will win 1 of my books of your choice. All you have to do is guess what the __ is. Also e-mail me at so I can contact you if you win.

You don't have to guess correctly, because you won't.

Edited 12/2 to add:
Okay, folks, let's keep those guesses clean(er). There are certain things even I would not have put in a YA novel in the first place.

Hint: the guesses closest to being correct have been "porcupine," "cursing parrot," and "mangy rabid dog."

Edited 12/16 to add: Thanks to everyone for your guesses and your kind comments about my writing! Congratulations to the winners drawn at random: Snazel, Khyla, Tammara, Samantha Jo, and Katelyn!

Answer: llama.


  1. Hmmm...very interesting. Is it "hermaphrodite?" Or, maybe "urinary tract infection?"

    Best of luck with the book you need to sell or you're going to die. I really hope you don't die.

  2. I think you took out the emergency room scene between Zoey and Doug. (okay I know it can't be this but a girl can hope the scene exists.) Valerie

  3. Valerie...ooh, that would have been good! But no.

    Amanda ROFL!!! Even I would not have put a UTI in the first draft of my teen romantic drama. I think. Well, I guess I wouldn't put it past me.

  4. Great post--my students and I love your "outside the lines" books!

    ____ huh. Since it's probably not the sex, I'm going to guess you took out the mangy dog who keeps getting between them. (I'm certain this isn't correct but my own dog is giving me the eye and that's where my brain went).

    Good luck with your next novels--I'm looking forward to reading them!

  5. Well, you know I have to go with "heroin" but I don't think that even made it into the first draft. That was another story. LOL!

  6. Hey, we're cool with free books! No worries here!
    I was originally going to guess the __ was sex, but... now I'm thinking that it has to be a baby they found on the street, or a mutant rabid dog. Because mutant rabid dogs really aren't romantic.

    Best of luck with selling your manuscript!

  7. Hmm well to take a random guess I'll say that you took out the annoying parriot that kept cursing. I doubt that is much too romantic.

    Best of luck to you!

  8. Lol. Like most people sex popped into my head first but I don't think that's right..Seeing as I haven't read it before, I'm gonna guess 'a box of tampons'???!

  9. Haha this post made me laugh. I'm thinking the blank is "turkey baster." Yep I went there.

  10. OOOOO. I'm going to guess you took out the body odour references. Because come on, that's SOOO romantic. Ahem.

    Given how FLIPPING WONDERFUL Going Too Far is, I'm going to hope you sell the deadly novel. Hope HARD.

  11. Okay, I'm going there...the abortion? AHEM. And congrats on finishing the novel so amazing it cannot be spoken of, Jen. You are my write no matter what, keep on truckin' inspiration! (Ducks)

  12. Ummms oral sex?

    I really hope your "Novel that must not be named for fear of jinxing" gets published, but I'm looking forward to anything you get published.

    I love that you "have a knack for comedy in a dark market, a taste for unglamorous subject matter, and an absolute insistence on a happy ending (and killing the hero and having him meet the heroine in heaven DOES NOT COUNT)." You write the kind of books I like to read - keep writing!

  13. I'm gonna say... period!

    BTW, GOING TOO FAR is one of my favorite YA novels. I keep going back to it because that's how YA romance should be written! I'm glad you stuck with it and sold it :)

    I really, really hope we get to read the other you're trying to sell. If it's half as great as GTF I know we'll love it!

    jemma.davidson at

  14. I'm Canadian but just wanted to give my suggestion on what the blank is.

    Might it be...a cold scene? Maybe Doug had a horrible cold where snot was running out of his nose. Am I even close?

    I also just want to wish you luck on selling your manuscript and good look editing your other novel. Your biggest fan from the other side of the border,


  15. Oh wow! This is hard I was thinking maybe tampons, but what girl hasn't heard of those, really not romantic though. There's been oral sex in YA so it can't be that...

    Umm, honestly I think condom fits in well in that blank, but mentioning condoms in YA would probably be the responsible thing to do. Ooh, I think it might be the whole taboo "self-pleasure" scene that is hinted at subtly after Zoey is dropped off at home. There had to have been more after that.

    Good luck with your new manuscript. Thank you for the fun guessing game and the chance to win one of your books.


  16. I'm going with peanut butter. Because it's sticky, leaves your mouth all gooey, and isn't very romantic. ;) Editor: "This peanut butter just isn't working for me. Can I get a glass of milk, please???"

    And it's okay to whine every once in a while. Writing is very time consuming -- you put your heart and soul into it (not to mention so much HOPE) -- so it's only natural to get frustrated when the results aren't what we've dreamed! =) I'm totally adding these to my wishlist now, BTW.


  17. Yeah, y'all aren't going to guess it.

    Coffeelvnmom, you can totally put peanut butter in a YA romance. You just have to place a toothbrush conveniently nearby. See THE BOYS NEXT DOOR.

  18. Man this is really hard! I am going to guess a gruesome hospital scene? I really have no idea, but I would guess a lot of bleeding and horrible wounds would not be good in a YA romance. Good luck with the manuscript!


    I just wanted to let you know that I LOVED your humorous book blurbs. (My kind of humor).
    I hope you get all the books out contracted!
    All the best,

  20. I will also guess along the animal line of thinking, but I think the ___ is a snake... just a creepy slithery thing that is (for me) totally unromantic but for others can take things a little too far

  21. My guess is that the ___ is a bad case of head lice. Super unromantic.

  22. Porcupine? Can't really seem them as romantic LOL

  23. Maggie, ENDLESS SUMMER used to be full of snakes, but my editor made me take them out. He said they were "hokey," which made me kind of mad, but I guess I'm glad I took them out after all!

    I am beginning to see this whole thing as a challenge. Is that weird? I'm going to write a super-romantic teen novel full of mangy dogs and head lice.

  24. Great post! This is really difficult! Maybe, math homework?! There is NOTHING sexy about math. Ughh.

  25. Semi-automatic weapons? Those are DEFINITELY not romantic. But I'll admit, my first guess WAS chlamydia. These answers are hilarious.


  26. My agent totally made me take the semi-automatic weapons out of The Novel I Love So Much That I Will Just Die If It Isn't Published, so it ought to be a quick sale now, right?

  27. I love all of the guesses!! haha I'm going to guess, BURPING/FARTING! Let's admit it those two things are not sexy it at all!!!!!

  28. Going to the bathroom...not very romantic. lol these are hilarious!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  29. Huh. Now I'm taking notes. "Nobody should pee..." See, this is useful.

  30. Ok, my first thought was sex, but am now thinking I'm way off. Maybe a prince albert. LOL, I'm having a very off day today and honestly my mind couldn't come up with anything better :) I do have to say that I came across your book Going too Far just by chance. I was a little nervous to pick it up being I have never read a YA book. I'm almost 30 and a stay at home mom of three and I wasn't sure this genre could give me what I needed in a story. I picked up your book and couldn't put it down. You opened my eyes, and I thank you for it. Going too Far is my favorite book, right up there with The Thorn Birds and Larissa Iones Demonica series. I can't wait to read another one of your books, all the best

  31. WHAT? Jolene that is so sweet of you! But I am afraid to ask what a prince albert is.

    Oh jeez I just looked it up on Never mind.

  32. You took the clown out? (It's one of the least romantic things that I can think of...)

  33. about vomiting?? sooo not romantic!


  34. OOOH, I want to play. I already have all your books, so don't enter me in the contest.

    Umm...okay, I remember reading this in an arc I borrowed from an arc tour, but I don't remember seeing it in the final copy. Is it the handjob scene in the back of the police car? OMG, if that's not the most awkward sentence I've written in ages, I don't know what is!

    And, for the record, I would read anything you wrote. Personally, I think your writing gets better and better with each book. BUT, since I'm being honest, Going Too Far is still my favorite! :)

  35. Lena, that's so sweet! Well, I would not characterize that scene exactly that way in any version...but you're right, I did tone it down further in the final version. But that's not the __.

    Jacqueline C., I am afraid of clowns. Also monkeys, and mushrooms. You will not find any of these things in my teen romances, unless I write some kind of teen romance/horror hybrid, which is possible but highly unlikely.

  36. I have no guess since it seems like everyone is guessing good crazy guesses and no one is hitting it. But I'm dying to know. And I also wanted to say that your books just get better and better and I think you always will find an audience with your honesty. I hope all of these things you are waiting to hear about turn out well. And thank you, if I haven't thanked you enough already, for spearheading this blog and the MTV Books blog and just generally being an awesome mentor!

  37. Hmm this is pretty tricky! My guess is that you took out a nasty little STD that Zoey got from Doug. Completely terrible, I know, but getting this hypothetical STD leads her on the search to what really happened the night. She must find out if it was Brandon or Doug that gave her that little bugger. Ohh well, it was a guess!

  38. Hmmm. I haven't read the novel yet. Maybe I should before guessing??
    I'll shoot anyway. My guess is: masturbation.

  39. I am going to go with mastrubation.

  40. Hmmm, this a hard one... I'm gonna go with blood. It's not very romantic.

  41. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  42. This is hard since I last read this one a while ago when it came out. My guess would be that the thing you took out is a bad dye job. Bad hair is not romantic at all!

    I also want to say that i love all of your books (especially Going to Far , Major Crush, and The Boys Next Door). I love how you include things that are offbeat, since that makes the characters more relatable to real people. I also love how you can be dramatic one minute and crack a joke the next.

    I cant wait to read whatever you come up with next.

  43. oops, sorry. I'm guessing mine was one of the not clean ones. I'll try again. Let's see, how about a crazy rabid squirrel :)

  44. Jenn, I love reading "writing that doesn't fit in." In fact, it's often my favorite kind of writing to read. Keep doing it!

  45. An animal, hmm... cheshire cat? I can't think of anything, ahhh!! But it was fun thinking about random animals! Haha:))


  46. I have to go with the zombie make-out session. They always hopelessly complicate any love triangle.

  47. My guess: you took out Zoey's pet ferret.

    I hope you're going to tell us what you actually removed! I adored GOING TOO FAR and FORGET YOU. I recently forced a non-YA-reading friend to take home a couple of books I thought might sway her to shop in the YA section occassionally. GOING TOO FAR was one of the two, and she loved it. Score! :)

  48. I randomly stumbled upon this blog. I like the ideas for your books. I will have to pick one of them up for my students' "Books to consider" shelf in my classroom.
    I will hazard a guess that you took the skunk out of the book. I can't imagine a skunk being romantic. Not even Pepe.

  49. I have to comment on someone else's comment!!

    Semi-automatic weapons are HELLA sexy and romantic! Full-Auto is mo betta!
    For example: Mr. and Mrs. Smith, that movie was simply HoTT! :)

  50. Hmmm, I am honestly not sure. I would have guessed sex but I know that is not the case. The words "the end"? BTW I just finished Forget You and it was awesome! I couldn't put it down! I love your books you are an amazing author!

  51. I think she had a really embarissing moment like saying some bad habit she had that you took out. And even though they can be cool fights arent romantic i think. Neither are bugs.

  52. sence mastrubatings out how about....a realy smelly wet dog thaat jumps all over them?

  53. Hmm I'm thinking an animal so maybe a cat hacking up fur balls? My cat does this and it definitely doesn't make me feel very romantic!

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  54. Hi Jennifer Echols
    My guess for the ____ is perky/cocky bird
    I would think they are so irratating sometimes when it starts to speak and it may kill the mood.
    Also i love (the boys next door/endless summer, and ex games) these books because every night i still dream off in my own world about the situations in these books
    love it and keep up the awesomeness work :)

  55. Hi...just checking back to see if we have an answer? No? I must say that these comments are quite amusing. Is it "a small human attached to the MC's limb at birth?" No? Shucks~

  56. Hey... I'm aware that the conest is over, but I just wanted to let yal know, that every single one of yal who commented on this is flippin hilarious!!! :D I wanna know what it is so so so bad haha! So, I'm gonna take a whack at it... how about...hurmmm....a dead dog that got hit??? That's not romantic... Or a dead dear???... Doug dies??? or Brandon???

    and to the commenter who said fights aren't romantic...they can be. Like not literally, I don't think anyone sane gets all hott and bothered over a fight with their boyfriend/girlfriend though I'm sure it's not unheard of... but think about it: Girl and a guy have this HUGE HUGE HUGE (like huge lol) fight; well what's gonna happen when the guy realizes that he screwed up or the girl realizes that she screwed up??? Then there will be this huge romantic scene about them apologizing to eachother and making up (and probably out as well...)

    well with that I must be off! :) Ms. Echols (or Ms. Jennifer, whichever you prefer), I absolutely adore you're books (or all of the ones I've read...I still need to read Forget You...) <3 always, Madie Blancaflor :)

  57. Lol!!! Love the answer! Well you were right, we would never have guessed!