Dawn Ius

Author - Screenwriter - Editor


Uncategorized (6)

Monday, 03 October 2016 20:55

YA Scavenger Hunt - Fall 2016!

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YASH banner

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize—one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are eight contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GREEN TEAMbut there is also a red team, an orange team, a gold team, a teal team, a blue team, a purple team, and a pink team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the green team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 
Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 9, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Today, I am hosting the uber talented Abigail Johnson on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! 
Abigail was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snow storms for year round summers, and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip (in a purple spiral bound notebook that she still has) and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen, but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high school production of Cinderella, and publishing her first novel.
Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about Abigail's book here! 

If I fix you



Readers of Sarah Dessen, Cammie McGovern and Morgan Matson will adore this thought-provoking, complex and romantic contemporary novel from debut author Abigail Johnson, about finding the strength to put yourself back together when everything you know has fallen apart.

When sixteen-year-old Jill Whitaker’s mom walks out-with a sticky note as a goodbye-only Jill knows the real reason she’s gone. But how can she tell her father? Jill can hardly believe the truth herself.

Suddenly, the girl who likes to fix things-cars, relationships, romances, people-is all broken up. It used to be, her best friend, tall, blond and hot flirt Sean Addison, could make her smile in seconds. But not anymore. They don’t even talk.

With nothing making sense, Jill tries to pick up the pieces of her life. But when a new guy moves in next door, intense, seriously cute, but with scars-on the inside and out-that he thinks don’t show, Jill finds herself trying to make things better for Daniel. But over one long, hot Arizona summer, she realizes she can’t fix anyone’s life until she fixes her own. And she knows just where to start…


For Abigail's bonus content, she has included this drool-worthy picture board! Don't these images make you want to pre-order her book RIGHT NOW? 

Image board

Don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Abigail, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 27! Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the green team and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Audrey Grey!
PLUS! Leave a comment on the blog and I'll enter you in a random draw to win a signed copy of my debut, Anne & Henry, now in paperback! Happy Hunting!
~ Dawn
Team Green
Tuesday, 19 July 2016 17:45

Pitch Wars Wishlist & Bio!

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PitchWarsLast year, I watched Pitch Wars with the kind of fascination generally reserved for Adam Levine. I won't digress by getting into the parallels there, but let me say, sitting on the sidelines was excrutiating.

Not even half way through last year's War, I emailed Brenda begging to come on board, not fully understanding the scope of this brilliant event. Holy crap is this an amazing opportunity for aspiring authors!

For me too. 

Sure, I didn't like watching from the sidelines (though I rooted for everyone involved, including many dear friends), but it was MORE than the idea of missing out on the fun that had me all sad faced.

It's that Pitch Wars represents so much of what I love about this industry, about the kind of writer and editor I want to be—supportive, encouraging, a beacon of hope at the end of what can sometimes be a dark tunnel of despair.

Today, I'm the author of three young adult books published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster) including ANNE & HENRY, OVERDRIVE, and LIZZIE, 10 educational graphic novels, and short stories in anthologies published by Leap Books and Vine Leaves Press, where I am also the development editor. I'm repped by Agent Awesome Mandy Hubbard who is truly a wizard at making dreams come true. 

I love helping others grow and succeed, and in many other capacities as an editor, critique partner, and writing coach for youth, I get to do just that. It's not enough. It's never enough! 

When I started my writing career, I was lucky enough to receive writing advice and personal coaching from several New York Times bestelling authors. Their lessons still resonate. I continue to acknowledge them in every piece of work I publish, because it is their encouragement and support and advice that got me through some frankly depressing times. Giving back is important to me. I want to give back to YOU.

So imagine my absolute THRILL that this year—RIGHT NOW!—I get to be a Pitch Wars mentor!

My inbox is salivating at the thought of what will land in it. (That may or may not be another parallel about my Adam Levine fascination... *cough cough*)

I can't wait to get reading!

So what am I hoping to read?

A fast-paced young adult book that makes me swoon, or scares the crap out of me.

Insta-love can work, but if you can keep me engaged with a slow burn, I'll fall in love with the manuscript...and you. Give me bad boys that aren't cliche'd and tough girls that my stepdaughters can look up to. Or deliver a suspenseful read that takes me through a series of shocking twists and turns, and makes me double-check that I've locked the front door. For a week. (Fair warning: I'm really hard to scare.)

I prefer page-turning thriller to outrageous gore, but if there's a fresh teen slasher book lurking in your imagination, give me that. (Please!)

I'm also not opposed to paranormal, but it MUST be fresh. 

While I like sci-fi and fantasy, I'm probably not the best fit there—I'm a Star Wars junkie, but beyond that, my reading in those genres is limited. (My advice will be, "Can you please add more Chewbacca?" and that's probably not very helpful.) I enjoy Game of Thrones, but could never aspire to write something so...big? But I do own three bearded dragons and sometimes my hubs calls me Khaleesi...though that MAY be in hopes of getting some of my chocolate chip cookies. They're to die for.

I like contemporary settings, but if you're killing it with a historical, I can be persuaded to hitch a ride on that time travel device with you. Just be sure you've aced your research! 

And look, grammar / spelling is important (I'll be much more engaged if I'm not slogging through sloppy writing) but it's voice that matters. (Cliche, I know!) If you can wow me with your voice, I'll forgive almost ANYTHING in the story and character development and try out virtually any genre or cross-genre.

DawnWhy do you want me as your mentor?

1. I'm tough. One of the best lessons one of my mentors taught me is that you can ALWAYS write better. I will push you to write tighter and more efficiently. To dig deep. You will work hard in revisions. You will develop a thicker skin—because you need that in this industry. You will come out of this stronger, more confident, and ready

2. I'll be your number one fan and cheerleader—even when I'm red-lining your work. (And I WILL redline your work...)

3. I WANT you to succeed.

4. I believe in you. Yes, U.

If you want to work hard, write better, and craft a kick-ass book that will have agents and editors salivating, pitch me! 

Also, send Adam Levine gifs. (Just kidding! Sort of...I suck at them, so any help, er, appreciated.)

For submission guidelines and all you need to know about Pitch Wars, go to brilliant Brenda's post here: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-wars/ 

And then check out all of the other fantastic mentors making Pitch Wars amazing this year.


Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

So looking forward to hearing from U. You can find me on Twitter via @dawnmius :-)

~ Dawn





Saturday, 21 March 2015 01:44

March Madness Day 21: Eyes on the Prize

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thSometimes, when the To Do list gets overwhelming and the deadlines pile up, it's easy to lose sight of the target. I don't just mean your goals—though, they can certainly get shuffled in the chaos—but the entire "big picture" end game. As in, what is this all for? When the WIP is complete, or the weight lost, or the new (insert hobby here) is mastered, what's the payoff?

I had a visceral reminder of my "end game" yesterday. 

Four years ago, I scored a dream writing gig—the opportunity to write an educational graphic novel for the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. I was given a loose theme, and some subtle messaging, but the bulk of the story was mine to write as I pleased. I researched, I drafted, I found a talented illustrator who understood "me" and the project, and we created FIELDS OF HOME.

Fields of Home cover

Yes, it's a corporate publication, but that first book turned into a 10-book project that has allowed me to meet some inspiring innovators, write some of my best adventures (giant bugs, mermaids, dinosaurs, aliens!), and collaborate with truly one of the most talented illustrators I have ever met.

But perhaps most importantly, I've toured dozens of schools talking to kids—young readers—about writing, illustrating, and of course, reading.

Yesterday, James (illustrator) and I flew to Grande Prairie (about a 5-hour drive from home) and talked to 150 Grade 4-6 students about the books. One hundred and fifty excited, eager students. They asked us questions, like: Did you come in a limousine? And we spent more than a half an hour brainstorming ideas for their own stories. They asked us to sign their books, their hats, their hands, their scrap pieces of paper...anything they could find. And as we left the school, they waved and cheered, clutching their books to their chest with white knuckled excitement.

And that's when it hit me.

In all of the deadline madness, the chaos of simply "keeping up" and dealing with the HOW and the WHEN, I somehow lost sight of the WHO and the WHY.

I LOVE writing (even when I don't), but more than that, I love seeing people read. Obviously I love people reading what *I* wrote—but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Does it?

This isn't our first school visit. We've done so many I've lost count. But, I needed this one...I floated home on that adrenaline rush.

It's that same adrenaline that will motivate me through the weekend as I strive to reach 35K on this WIP. Because truly, there is nothing that gives me greater joy than seeing READERS. That's who motivates me. THEY are my end game.

What about you? When you take a look back at the goals you set for March Madness, what's your end game. Not the HOW or the WHEN, but the WHY. What's in it for you? Whatever your target, I hope in this last week of March Madness, you hit a bullseye.

Speaking of bullseyes...RACHEL! Head on over to Denise's blogYOU HAVE WON A PRIZE! Congrats!

Everyone else...there's still time. Tomorrow, Denise kicks off the final week of March Madness (yikes! where did the month go?) See you there...right?

~ Dawn


Friday, 13 March 2015 23:56

Overwhelming To Do List? CHECK!

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And yeah, maybe that fact alone should be more than enough motivation to REACH THOSE GOALS! Except…I don’t know what it’s doing in YOUR neck of the woods (all of you West Coast sunshine stealers need not respond), but here, in Alberta, there is—gasp!—sun!

Which means I have SPRING FEVER.

So, of course there are a half dozen or more things I’d rather do than sit at my laptop and write. Like what, you ask?

  • I could wash my sports car—because I can drive it out of hiding soon!
  • Go for a walk.
  • Get a pedicure—for when I can (eventually!) wear those flip flops. (Sidenote: I could also FIND said flip flops…)
  • Pull out the patio chairs and READ until it’s too dark to see the words.
  • Take a long bike ride through the river valley.
  • Spring clean my garage.

Okay. Maybe not that last one. I think there are mice in there… * shudder *

The thing is, it’s unlikely I’ll do ANY of those things this weekend, because I’m crippled by the guilt of doing pretty much nothing toward my goals since my last check in.

Wait—back up—you haven’t made any yet? STOP READING RIGHT NOW and visit Denise’s blog where there’s still time to set some goals (reading, writing, or anything book related you want) AND be eligible to WIN some pretty amazing prizes.

Speaking of prizes…

CONGRATULATIONS Catknutsson! You have won a prize! Please stop by the goal-setting post to pick your prize and email your choice to d(at)denisejaden(dot)com.

* throws confetti *

So, back to guilt.

I wish I could blame something tangible on my lack of productivity, like a massive work project that required all of my time, or a surprise deadline for one of my extra projects, or, even better, that the super-duper schedule my sister created for me somehow failed. In reality, I just shut down. And despite all of the wonderful posts by the March Madness hosts this week, I couldn’t figure out how to fire up the muse for anything more than a couple of paragraphs here and there.

As the deadlines piled up, I turned a blind eye to the ever-growing To Do list in my daytimer, and even turned off my iPhone notifications. But last night, I realized I could no longer put everything on “ignore” — the guilt was overwhelming.

Friends, I have a problem.


There. I’ve said it.

Honestly, there is nothing that gives me more pleasure than using my special red pen to put check marks next to completed tasks. Sometimes, I’ll break a middle sized project into multiple, smaller To Do items so there are MORE things to check off. I add things like: Do laundry. And if I’m feeling antsy, that item becomes: Wash whites. Wash darks. Wash towels. In fact, a couple of those items above (like finding my flip flops) have already made it onto the current To Do list.

You see where this is heading, right?

Every Sunday, I rewrite my To Do List for the week—and there are currently 77 items on that list from last week that should be completed by tomorrow. More than half are items I’ve carried over for months—like: Revise Jack of Hearts.

No wonder I can’t find the motivation to write. My To Do list is insurmountable, and rather than shrinking, it keeps growing…with implausible tasks. I can’t really REVISE a whole book in a week, not with 76 other items on the list. 

With that in mind, I’ve decided that I’m going to add one more thing to this week’s To Do list and make it priority—I’m going to restructure. The list has to be more organized, more manageable, more inline with my goals. Otherwise, I don’t have a hope of reaching them. I have a feeling some things don’t even need to make the list. Like, if I shower and there are no clean towels, I probably know to do laundry, right?

What about you? What can you restructure or better organize to help you meet your goals? Do you keep lists? What kinds of things go on that list?

Be sure to check in with Denise tomorrow to kick off Week 3 of March Madness!

~ Dawn

Saturday, 07 March 2015 09:09

March Madness Day 7

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th-2Congratulations! Your first week of March Madness is complete! Wait, what? You haven’t set your writerly goals yet? It’s NOT too late. Head over to Denise’s blog to learn how March Madness works. While you’re there, set a few goals and you’ll not only gain the adoration of your peers, you’ll also be eligible to WIN some KILLER prizes. No, seriously.

One of my goals this month is to hit the 35K mark on my new WIP. It’s not an extravagant goal—far less than what’s expected during NaNoWriMo, and certainly below my personal word-count record. But here’s what I know about myself—there is no greater procrastination instigator than a goal. Maybe it’s part of my writerly ADD or some strange performance anxiety, but a self-imposed deadline can sometimes stop my production cold.

So, it was with considerable trepidation that my husband and I embarked on a road trip yesterday, driving from chilly Edmonton to Chilliwack, BC where the daffodils are in full bloom, and much to my husband’s amusement, the golfers are already on the greens. Yes, greens. It’s a 12-hour drive, and while I’d planned to write THE WHOLE WAY, that didn’t quite happen.

As what usually happens on extended road trips, my husband handed over the wheel at about the half-way mark, and instead of writing…I drove.

Normally, this would induce all sorts of panic about a lack of productivity. But as I turned down the music and tuned out his gentle snoring, I found myself drawn in by the landscape. BC is a beautiful province, rich with stunning snow-capped mountain peaks, blooming flowers, and flowing streams and rivers. Despite living in Alberta for the past 15 years, I’m a BC native, and while I can still appreciate the beauty of my environment, what really fascinates me is the road system. The twists and turns through mountain passes. The steep inclines, and soaring downhills. The treacherous shoulders that drop off into seemingly nothingness.

I’ve driven these roads my whole life—in all kinds of vehicles, from SUVs to sports cars—but last night, as we journeyed through the mountains, I put the laptop away. Instead, with every passing kilometre, I plotted. I worked through character development. I mulled and processed and problem-solved. I enjoyed the journey.

And when I reached my destination, I wrote.

Almost 4,000 words, actually.

It’s true that a rough draft is easier to edit than a blank page, and I do subscribe to the notion that you have to continually write to get better. But sometimes, you simply need a break—because otherwise, you can forget…to enjoy the journey.

This 12-hour drive helped kickstart my inspiration—but it’s obviously not the only option. One of my best friends says his best ideas come to him in the shower. Another fills her notebooks with snippets of her dreams.

When you’ve hit a roadblock, what do you do to get over the hump? Let me know in the comments. And be sure to check in with Denise tomorrow as she kicks off week 2 of March Madness.

Write on!
~ Dawn

Tuesday, 03 March 2015 01:05


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th-1I’m super excited to co-host MARCH MADNESS this year, a month chalk full of motivation and support for your creative muse. Started by the brilliant Denise Jaden, March Madness holds you accountable for YOUR artistic goals — and, there are rewards! Seriously awesome prizes, not to mention the support and adoration of your peers.

Yes! It’s like NaNoWriMo — without the pressure of a 50K word count. In fact, YOU set YOUR goals which can be about writing, reading, blogging, illustrating or… anything book-related you want! Hey, who are we to judge?

Here’s how it works:

The madnesss began March 1 over at Denise’s blog where you can set your goals. Don’t worry if you haven't made it over there yet—you can add/revise goals throughout the month. 

Next, check in daily throughout March at the designated check-in points below. Share your victories and struggles. Cheer on your peers.

And then…collect your winnings. Well, that’s the idea anyway. The hosts have kicked in some awesome prizes. Winners will be randomly selected, and announced on the various blogs—which is incentive for you to check in. Right?

So, where are these designated blogs?

Mondays – Check in with Kim Baccellia - http://kimbacceliasweblogfantasy.blogspot.com/
Tuesdays – Check in with Shari Green – http://www.sharigreen.com
Wednesdays – Check in with Mary Ann Scott - http://thebrokentree.blogspot.com
Thursdays – Check in with Carol Garvin - http://careann.wordpress.com
Fridays – Check in with Tonette – http://www.tonettedelaluna.com
Saturdays – Check in with me! - http://www.dawnius.com/blog
Sundays – Check in with Denise Jaden – http://denisejaden.blogspot.com

And of course, the prizes!

  • A critique of your first five pages - (courtesy of Denise’s agent Michelle Humphrey – INT’L)
  • A handmade bracelet - (courtesy of Mary Ann Scott – INT'L)
  • A surprise book on the craft of writing (courtesy of Dawn Ius – US/CAN)
  • An audiobook of Writing With a Heavy Heart - (courtesy of Denise Jaden – INT’L)
  • A FULL Manuscript Critique! (courtesy of Tonette de la Luna - INT'L)
  • A Writing-on-the-go Writer’s Kit – (courtesy of Carol Garvin – US/CAN ONLY)
  • Book of Choice (to $20 Cdn) from Book Depository (courtesy of Shari Green - INT’L)
  • A swag pack from Anne and Henry and Falling For Alice - (notebook, charms, bookmarks – Courtesy of Dawn Ius – US/CAN)
  • A surprise box of YA Fiction - (courtesy of Denise Jaden – US only)
  • A package of fiction books, including KI, SPIRITED, and possibly an ANNE & HENRY ARC – (courtesy of Dawn Ius – US/CAN)
  • Some popular high-demand advance copies of YA fiction – Choose one or two from the following selection (courtesy of Kim Baccelia – US/CAN)


Okay, time to get cracking. No matter WHAT day you landed on this blog, head over to Denise’s to set your goals! Remember, the more you check-in and encourage others, the better chance you have of winning some cool stuff!

Enjoy the madness! And see you back here on Saturday, right?

~ Dawn