Monday, August 31, 2009

Kay - Living My Five

Since this is my first update post for my Five, it seems like I should begin by talking about where I am right now. To set a benchmark, so to speak. So I'm going to kick things off by sharing what I've been doing to live my Five since I first created them last fall. My future posts will focus on what I've done in the previous two weeks to continue living my Five in ways large and small.

A quick note about progress: you don't have to make progress on every single one of your Five every two weeks. We all have lives that we're trying to lead as well. But committing to Living Your Five means that you should make meaningful progress on at least one of your Five every two weeks.

1. Commit to a life of gratitude

This one is a bit hard to quantify over a long period because much of it is about the little things we do. Leaving my husband notes in his car or in his wallet. Getting out and riding my bike around our neighborhood, smiling at all the great people we're lucky to have as neighbors. Writing personal notes and emails when people do nice things to let them know they're appreciated. Sending my editor and agent little tokens of my gratitude when they're not expecting it. It's a constant stream of small things that bring this part of my Five to life.

2. Paying it forward in ways that are meaningful for me

One of the biggest things I've done in this respect is creating Living Your Five. I feel so blessed to live in a time and in a place where I can make a real, meaningful difference in the world around me. Someone once said that if you're in the position to be able to help, you have a moral responsibility to do so. While I don't necessarily agree with that in every situation--for instance, safety needs to be considered as well--I do feel like I have the obligation to make changes in my world in ways I'm uniquely able to. I wanted to create a community of people with a shared goal of doing just that. If I can do five things, imagine what all of our Fives together can accomplish!

I also pay it forward by hosting tons of guest features on my You 2.o blog. This includes Author Spotlights, Librarian Spotlights, and the fun Booklover of the Week series where I get to interview agents, editors, booksellers, and book bloggers about why they love the YA and middle grades genres. It gives my blog readers, many of whom are aspiring writers, a chance to know these wonderful people who share their passion for books. Guests in all of these features answer a question about each piece of the You 2.0 philosophy: pursuing your dreams, changing your world, gratitude, and paying it forward. I love that I'm able to host a forum where people from all walks of life can share what they're grateful for, how their pursuing their dreams, and what they're doing to make a difference and pay it forward. I can't tell you how many guests have said, "Wow, your questions were so hard! They really made me think, but I had such a great time coming up with my answers." That makes my day.

3. Encourage people to pursue their dreams with passion and a powerful plan for achieving them

I'll be talking about my motivational workshops for schools and youth organizations in the next item on my Five list, but they definitely apply here as well. In fact, one of the things I love about my Five is that so many of the things I do actually fulfill two or even three pieces of my Five all at the same time. That's the kind of synergy that makes me roll out of bed with a smile (and I'm so not a morning person!).

In addition to my motivational speaking and hands-on empowerment workshops, I'm also hosting a year-long writing program for aspiring writers of teen/tween fiction. The program, called the Teen Author Challenge, can be found every Tuesday on my You 2.0 blog. It takes writers through the entire process of writing a book, from coming up with a wow-worthy idea... to character development and plotting/pantsing strategies... to writing the actual book... to editing and polishing your manuscript until it shines... to understanding how to get your work in front of an agent or editor when it's ready for prime time. The Teen Author Challenge features exclusive inspirational quotes of the week, writing tips, and strategies from successful authors to show participants there's no one right way to write a book. It's all about finding what works for you and creating your own plan for your writing career.

For aspiring writers who genuinely want to make this a career, I want to help them make that dream a reality. This is also part of my Paying It Forward platform because it's my way of giving back after years of being on the receiving end of wonderful authors who have shared their knowledge and support with me.

4. Help people of all ages embrace their full potential

This one has two facets for me. On the personal side, it's about helping the people around me become the best they can be. On the career side, it's the one-two punch of my books and my workshops. There's so much that can be done... and so much work to do!

If you've read an advance reader copy (ARC) of The Cinderella Society, you'll see this right there on the page. The Cinderella Society's motto is "celebrate your strength, embrace your future, be extraordinary". The society exists, at its core, to develop the next generation of movers and shakers. The series is a complete and total blast to write because it's a society I would've loved to have been tapped for when I was a teen--makeovers, empowerment, good vs. evil... I would've been all over that! Plus I get to share this part of my Five with the world by creating an entire society dedicated to empowering girls. It's the series I was born to write.

Drawing on my professional training experience during my corporate days and in the years since, I've also created a series of motivational workshops that I'm able to teach for schools and youth organizations. While I can also talk about the life of an author, my specialty is empowerment workshops for teens and tweens that help them embrace their full potential. Each one of these workshops gives me the opportunity to live this part of my Five in a fun, super fulfilling way.

5. Live a greener life

This is another one that's often a series of small things that make a difference. One of the biggest things I've done was an energy audit of our home this past winter. We cut our energy bill by nearly 20%. I also consolidate my errands and limit my driving as much as possible.

When we built our house, we had high-efficiency furnace and A/C units installed. Each time we get a new major appliance, we look at the energy factors when making our decisions. And when we traded in our nine year old car, my husband actually figured out the gas usage for each car we considered over a five-year period. It's amazing how just one or two extra miles per gallon can make a huge impact over the life of a car.

But there's more to be done. One of my big goals is to become more knowledge about the options we have for greener technology, cleaning supplies, and energy production. For my home and for our world. And there are a hundred little things I probably haven't thought of yet that I can change in my own day to day living to make a positive impact on the environment.

So there's where I am with my Five as of today. Starting in two weeks, I'll be focusing on what I've done in the previous two weeks to live my Five.

And remember... join us this Friday for our first official Honorary Fiver feature. Are you ready to become an Honorary Fiver and Live Your Five?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Launch week winners!

What an amazing week!

Thank you so much to everyone who came out and helped us celebrate the official launch of Living Your Five. Since kicking things off Monday morning, nearly 1,700 people from dozens of countries have come by to hang out with us and celebrate the Five way of life. We're all incredibly thrilled--and humbled--by the enthusiasm you've shown. And this is only the beginning!

As promised, to show our gratitude for helping us spread the word about Living Your Five, we're delighted to be offering up some lovely prizes! First up... the individual Fiver books. Congratulations go out to:

** ERICA -- winner of a signed ARC of Kay Cassidy's THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY

** MONTANA - winner of a signed copy of Alyson Noel's BLUE MOON

** BELLY - winner of a signed copy of Becca Fitzpatrick's HUSH, HUSH (after release)

** BRODIE - winner of a signed copy of Tera Lynn Childs' OH. MY. GODS. -or- GODDESS BOOT CAMP

We also have a mega grand prize for one lucky commenter! The grand prize package includes:

A $100 Barnes & Noble gift card
(because we know you love books!)

A $100 donation in your name to the non-profit of your choice
(because we know you love making a difference!)

And the latest book (or ARC) from each Founding Fiver
(that's four signed books!)

And the winner of the Living Your Five launch week grand prize is...


Congratulations to all of our winners!!! To receive your prize, simply contact me here with your mailing address.

Thanks again to everyone for your enthusiasm and cheer. We'll be kicking off our two-week rotation on Monday where we'll be sharing what we've done in the last two weeks to live our Five. Here's the regular schedule for our rotation:

Week 1
MON - Kay Cassidy
WED - Alyson Noel
FRI - Friday FiveSpot (guest Fivers, insider Q&As and inspirational features)

Week 2
MON - Becca Fitzpatrick
WED - Tera Lynn Childs
FRI - Friday FiveSpot (more guest Fivers, insider Q&As and inspirational features)

And remember... if YOU want to be an Honorary Fiver, be thinking about your own personal Five. We'll have our monthly Honorary Fiver feature on the first Friday of every month. The first one is coming up next Friday, September 4th so get ready for it! You can only become an Honorary Fiver (and earn the official Honorary Fiver badge for your web site or blog!) by sharing your Five on an official Honorary Fiver Friday. Stay tuned for more details next week!

Are you ready to Live Your Five?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Introducing our Five... YA author Tera Lynn Childs


Changing the world is a little overwhelming. I mean, what can I--one little person in a world of six billion--actually do? That's what I love about Kay's Living Your Five concept. It's a way to empower every one of us to fix the things we care about most. One little step at a time.

The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.
- Lao Tse

Actually deciding on my Five has been tough, because sometimes all I see are things that I wish were eradicated. War and genocide. Homelessness and poverty. Animal cruelty and child abuse. In the end, though, I took to heart Kay's insistence that our Fives should be the things we are most passionate about, and that took a lot of soul searching.

After thinking and rethinking and rearranging, I've finally decided on the five causes that truly resonate with me and that I would like to be part of. Here are my first steps on a journey to change the world:

1. Going Green

My family spent a lot of time camping and in National Parks while I was growing up, so concern for the environment has always be a part of me. Add to that the fact that I spent formative years in California (home of droughts, water rations, and water conservation lesson plans) and that I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder (one of the most environmentally motivated schools in the country), it's really no wonder that this is first on my list.

Going green means more than just buying recycled toilet paper and replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (although both are totally awesome steps to a greener life!). To me, those steps are almost givens. I also want to take my green living a step further. I want to reduce and offset my carbon footprint, donate time and money to groups who protect and clean up the environment, and incorporate more recycled and organic products into my everyday living.

2. Teach a Man to Fish

When I was in high school, I bought a t-shirt with the quote:

Give a man a fish
and you feed him for a day,
teach a man to fish
and you feed him for life.

At the time it was just a slogan to me, but over time I've come to realize the significance behind it's meaning. In a world suffering from poverty and famine, charity only goes so far. A one-time donation only lasts so long. But teaching a person or family or community how to become self-sufficient is a gift that can last for generations.

The organization that embodies this belief the most for me is Heifer International. I won't go into depth about their mission now, but I know that this is a group whose works I want to support in every possible way. And, if there are other groups out there who are promoting self-sufficiency and independence I'd love to find and help them as well. Because, in my mind, independence = hope.

3. Disaster Relief

Living in the Houston area, hurricanes are a way of life, but they never really hit home for me until I lived through Hurricane Ike last year. What was even more horrifying than the hurricane himself (and let me tell you, that was pretty horrifying) was the aftermath. Driving through the streets of Houston with traffic lights hanging down to the road. Making sure I was home before the citywide curfew. Having to boil water for a week because the water supply might have been compromised. Friends were without power for weeks, others lost their homes, their cars, their pets. The truth is, the story is only just beginning when the news vans roll out of town.

Having experienced first hand the domino effect of a natural disaster, I feel a kinship with others suffering through the same. When disasters strike, I want to do what I can to help those affected, whether that means donating time, money, blood, supplies, or more. I may not be able to plan for this Five, but I'll be ready to act.

4. Historic Preservation

Did you know that 150 years ago, Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate, was in such a state of neglect and disrepair that we were in danger of losing it forever? Or that Philadelphia's Independence Hall was once at risk of demolition? These buildings are monuments to major moments in history, and I can't imagine why anyone would choose to tear down and start over when the buildings of the past are so rich and full of history. But it happens every day.

For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with history and, especially, historic architecture. I love wandering through the oldest parts of town, studying or photographing the interesting buildings from times past. My love of historic architecture is so strong that I studied historic preservation, the saving of significant old buildings, in graduate school.

Even though my personal path led me to a career in writing, rather than one in historic preservation, my passion for old building remains and I am committed to helping ensure their presence for generations to come. That might mean volunteering my time with a local preservation committee, donating funds to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, or distributing information about buildings in danger to others who might be able to help.

5. Writing Mentorship

When I first realized that writing was my future, I was lucky enough to find a group of local authors (aspiring and published) who willingly and without hesitation provided me with the support I needed to pursue this career. Because I am so thankful to these wonderful ladies--and because, having achieved my dream, I would like to help others do the same--I find myself very passionate about mentoring other writers.

I already take the opportunity to teach workshops, speak at schools, and answer emails from aspiring authors, but I want to take it a step further. Whether it's posting a blog or vlog about a writing topic, starting or working with an after school writing program, or other ways I haven't discovered yet, I'd like to do more to help other writers reach their goals. I want to help others experience the joy of getting The Call.

Okay, so now you know my Five. Do these match up with any of your passionate causes? Comment below for your chance to win your choice of a signed hardcover copy of Oh. My. Gods. or Goddess Boot Camp. The winner will be announced tomorrow along with the winners of Kay, Alyson, and Becca's giveaways and the launch week grand prize winner.

Are you ready to Live Your Five?


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Introducing our Five...with YA author Becca Fitzpatrick

When Kay invited me to be a part of Living Your Five, I felt a spark of fire in my heart that immediately told me this was something I wanted to be involved with. I've always believed in the power of one, and I've tried to shape my life around that simple yet profound idea. The awesome thing about Living Your Five is it's about the power of one uniting to become the power of hundreds, even thousands. Each of us alone can make a big impact, but together we can change the world. And that's something to get excited about!

I'll admit, I didn't do a lot of soul-searching to come up with my Five. I didn't need to. The following Five jumped out at me right away, and I'm going to go with my intuition on this one and say my Five and I are meant to be. After all, Living Your Five shouldn't be complex – it's about making small and simple changes that reap big rewards. So here you go – my Five!

1. Bike it!

My family is fortunate to live within one mile of all of the following: my husband's workplace, my kids' schools, a grocery store, the library, restaurants, parks, my bank and Target. The city I live in has 250 days of sun each year. The roads in my neighborhood have bike lanes. I own a bike. And yet, more often than not, I find myself hopping behind the wheel to make a quick drive to the store, library or to school. With my Five, I'm challenging myself to drive only when necessary.

2. Random acts of kindness

My personality tends to be spontaneous, so I'm especially excited to see how I pursue my goal of spreading a little sunshine in the world around me. It could be anything from paying the toll for the driver behind me, to sending flowers to a stranger, to helping a child with their homework. I think random acts of kindness are small yet powerful acts that, with practice, can become habits in our lives – things we do without thinking twice. A habit of kindness – that's my goal.

3. Pay it forward

Pay it forward is about two things: gratitude and love. I want to show my gratitude to the marvelous people who've impacted my life over the years, and to the many more who will do so in the future, and I think the best way to do this is by being the kind of person who motivates others to be their best self. Mother Teresa said it best: “Spread your love everywhere you go.”

4. Reduce personal consumption

Did you know that Americans account for only five percent of the world's population, and yet we produce 50 percent of the world's waste? When I read this statistic, I felt motivated to make some changes in my life. Am I guilty of being wasteful? Yes. It's not like I wake up each morning and consciously decide I'm going to produce as much trash as I possibly can, but I do buy things I don't need. And when I buy things I don't need or even really have use for, it's inevitable that I will eventually have to throw it out. Which is why I'm committing right now to consume less, therefore using less of the world's natural resources and producing less waste.

5. Volunteer in local schools

I think one of the biggest ways to make an impact in the world is to help others achieve their goals, especially the rising generation. Education is such a vital part of reaching goals, and volunteering in local schools is a great way for me to start here in my community and help children realize they're in charge of their futures – a place where anything is possible.

So there you have it. My Five. What about you – are you ready to Live Your Five? Comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of my debut novel, HUSH, HUSH! The winner will be announced on Saturday along with the launch week grand prize winner. And stay tuned for Tera's Five tomorrow...

Happy world changing!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Introducing our Five . . . with YA author Alyson Noel

When Kay Cassidy first approached me to take part in Living Your Five, my first thought was:

Wow, what a great idea!

My second was:

Too bad there’s no way I can fit it in.

But then I realized that’s the whole point.

Most of us are living insanely busy, over scheduled lives, and yet, most of us still have the desire to make a difference in some small way. And that’s what this initiative, this new web community, is all about. Finding ways to do-good, to pay it forward, to lift another, to live more consciously, to help the earth, help animals, help others, whatever you chose—without having to drastically rearrange your life or drop your prior commitments.

So, after I e-mailed my acceptance, I started thinking about what my own personal five might be. Just what I could possibly contribute, primarily from home, (since I’m on an extremely tight deadline schedule that allows little time away from my desk), that might make a positive impact?

And after taking a look around, really taking stock, I came up with these:

1. I, Alyson Noël, do hereby commit to frequent, yet random, acts of kindness. Okay, so maybe this one is a little undefined, a little broad in scope, but that’s just how I like it. Leaving it open like this means it can be anything from picking up something someone dropped, to paying for a stranger’s drink order at Starbucks. All I can say for sure is that I’ll be sure to keep track so I can post them all here!

2. I will also commit to random acts of charity. Yeah, I know, vague much? But while random acts of charity can be similar to the acts of kindness listed above, they can also be in the forms of donations, time, money, stuff--we'll see what transpires!

3. Every time I buy something new, like clothes, books, shoes, and/or purses—my usual vices—I will donate something similar to a person, place, or organization that needs it. This one, I can’t wait to get started on!

4. I will also commit to whatever acts I can to live greener and help lessen and/or offset my environmental footprint. Not sure what your footprint is? Take the quiz HERE. It's amazing what a difference a few small steps can make!

5. And while this may be the last item on the list, it’s actually one that’s hugely important to me, so here goes: I Alyson Noël do hereby promise to firmly commit to positivity, to keeping all of my communications to a no snarking/no ranting zone, and will happily post about what’s going right in the world, since I think we’re all too well aware of what’s going wrong. By doing this, I’m really, really hoping that I can convince at least one, maybe two, even three, others to follow suit. Because the truth is, I’m often saddened by the Internet. Saddened by how a tool that holds so much potential to bring us all together, more often degrades into an acid tongued snark fest instead. I’m saddened by the amount of energy so many people put into such rampant negativity. I’m saddened that we’re living in a world where the well-timed insult reigns supreme. Yes, there are shows I don’t like, celebrities I don’t care for, books that left me feeling bleh—but so what? Who cares? Those are just my opinions—it doesn’t make them facts. Why invest all of that time and energy into something you claim to hate? Why tear someone down, when you can lift someone up instead? Seriously? Why even go there? Anytime I’m even tempted to do this, I think of this line by Deepak Chopra: “The cheapest way to feel good about yourself is by feeling superior to others.” And I’m always stopped dead in my tracks. Calling someone ugly won’t make you pretty—declaring someone stupid won’t make you smarter—tagging someone as a no-talent won’t make you gifted—but stopping to take the time to say something nice, never, ever fails to put you and your subject in a flattering light. We can do this—all of us--one positive step at a time!

So there you go, that's my Five. What about you--are you ready to Live Your Five?

Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of my latest novel, BLUE MOON! The winner will be announced on Saturday, along with the launch week grand prize winner!

And stay tuned for Becca's Five tomorrow. . .

Happy world changing!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Introducing our Five... with YA author Kay Cassidy

This is so exciting! Not just because it's been months in the making and we've finally launched, but because I get to launch this fun adventure with Tera, Alyson, and Becca. Friends really do make the world go 'round.

I mentioned yesterday that I created my Five as a way to help me remember what matters most when life gets chaotic. But it's also a way for me to remember what to focus on when life isn't crazy. When I've got a bit of free time, how should I spend it? A quick run-down of my Five is a great place to start!

As you'll see this week, the four of us have a lot in common. Some of our Fives will even overlap a bit, and that's awesome! Your Five doesn't have to be different than everyone else's. There are lots of people who share the same passions about how to make a difference. In fact, when those like-minds get together, amazing things can happen!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens
can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

~ Margaret Mead

So without further ado, here are my Five. Those of you who read my author blog (You 2.0) will recognize the first three of my Five because those three--along with "making a difference in the world" (as we're doing here!)--are the foundations of my You 2.0 blog.

1. Commit to a life of gratitude

Just like most everyone I know, there have been times I've taken things for granted in my life. But those things I've taken for granted aren't guaranteed. And life passes so quickly! The things we take for granted today, even as simple as the flowers in bloom in a garden we've tended, won't be there forever. The same goes for the people we love, our neighborhoods that grow and change... life is in constant motion. Blink and you'll miss it. Take it for granted and you'll never get a chance to enjoy it real-time again.

There are so many things I'm grateful for. And I do thank my lucky stars every day. But gratitude is about more than being grateful on the inside. It's about being grateful on the outside. Those people you love? Tell them how you feel. That garden you adore? Spend time in it. The health you enjoy? Nurture it and use the energy it gives you for doing great things. Don't just think about gratitude, live it!

2. Pay it forward in ways that are meaningful to me

Paying it forward is the next step beyond gratitude. It's about sending good things out into the world. Paying it forward can be as simple as holding the door open for someone with an armful of boxes or paying for the person behind you at the toll booth. Or it can be something ongoing, like mentoring a younger person or teaching others a hobby you've mastered so they can enjoy its pleasures too.

For me, paying it forward is all about good karma. I'm a firm believer that what you put out into the world has a ripple effect, for better or worse. The world could sure use more good karma, don't you think?

3. Encourage people to pursue their dreams with passion and a powerful plan for achieving them

I've been passionate about this since my corporate days almost a decade ago. I was the only corporate manager I knew who, when sitting down with my team for their annual reviews, asked them "If you could have any job in the company, what job would you choose?" To me, a happy employee is a productive employee. Just because someone hired into a job ten years earlier doesn't mean they're still a best fit for that job now. If there was something else in the company that they were interested in and had an aptitude for, I did everything I could to help them develop into that job even if it was outside my own department.

I took my own advice too. When I was no longer enjoying my job, I sat down and figured out what I really wanted to do. Unfortunately, what I really wanted to do didn't exist within the company even though there was a clear need for it. So I wrote a business plan for the position and sent it up through the chain of command. What did I have to lose, right? Not only did it get approved, they hired me for the job! If I hadn't gone after what I really wanted... with a solid plan to back up my dreams (there's the key!)... I never would've seen my dream job become a reality. Nor would I have fulfilled my dream later of becoming a YA author. If you don't go for it, you'll never know what could've been!

As a motivational speaker and as a blogger, my passion for this comes through. It even shines through in my books! If I can do something that inspires one person to pursue their dreams and achieve them, that's a huge win.

4. Help people of all ages embrace their full potential

In addition to pursuing their dreams, I'm passionate about people embracing their full potential. There are far too many people, particularly young people, who honestly can't see how amazing they really are! They're too busy comparing themselves to others, trying to reach impossibly high standards (set by themselves or other people), and just generally believing the negative chatter that goes on inside their heads. (If you've read The Cinderella Society, you'll recognize this as Wicked chatter!)

Embracing our full potential comes in two parts: recognizing our potential and fulfilling it. Which sounds deceptively simple. The truth is, for most of us? Neither one is easy. And there are steps forward and steps back on the path to achieving both. I believe chronically low self-esteem is both widespread and devastating to the world around us. We need to break that cycle if we want to lift our world to a higher place.

5. Live a greener life

Living a greener life, for me, is about being more aware of how my actions affect the environment. It's paying attention to the small things--like turning off the faucet while I'm putting a pan into the dishwasher--and the big things--like having an energy audit done on our house. I love learning about new technology that's more energy efficient and enjoy trying out new earth-friendly cleaning products (though my standards for them are pretty high).

When it comes to the Earth, a little goes a long way. A little bit of conservation, a little bit of education, a little bit of paying attention to how we treat the world around us. As the HGTV slogan says, "Change starts at home."

So there you go. Kay's Five. What do you think? Do any of these resonate with you as well? Are you ready to Live Your Five? Comment below for your chance to win a signed ARC of book one of my upcoming YA series,
The Cinderella Society (coming April 13, 2010 from Egmont). The winner will be announced on Saturday along with the launch week grand prize winner.

And stay tuned for Alyson's Five tomorrow.
Happy world changing!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Are you ready to Live Your Five?

We're delighted to have you joining us for our launch week as we introduce the world to the Living Your Five way of life. Living Your Five is all about knowing what matters most to you and making a difference in your world in ways large and small.

It began with an idea

In late 2008, I created the concept of Living Your Five as a way to help me focus my energies on the parts of my world that were most important to me. Goodness knows we're all busy - we've got school or jobs (or both!), loved ones and friends, activities and volunteer work, and so much more. Most of the time we're so busy it's all we can do to just go about the business of living our lives.

But we're capable of so much more. Every one of us has an opportunity to make a difference in the world around us. Sometimes it's hard to remember that when you're working long hours and come home to face bills that need to be paid, laundry piles that need to be tamed, and bathrooms that need to be degrunged. Or going to school all day, rushing off to practice, then high-tailing it home for a quick bite to eat before tackling hours of homework. It's easy to let the things you aspire to do fall by the wayside.

No matter how busy we are (or how tight our budgets are), we can always reach out and make a positive impact on our world. We don't have to change the entire world in a single day. Just one small effort every day adds up faster than you'd ever imagine. All it takes is remembering what's important to you. And that's where we come in.

It's time to make the shift from living our lives to Living Our Fives.

What matters most?

Living Your Five is a simple concept. It starts by sitting down and taking a good look at the world around you. What are the issues you're concerned about? What do you read about in the newspaper and think "I wish I could help"?

Living Your Five is all about how you can make a difference to others, whether those others are people you know, people you've never met, animals, the Earth... whatever you care about deeply. You can make a difference - you just have to decide where you want to make a difference.

Once you know what matters to you (and if you're like us, you'll probably come up with way more than five things!), it's time to narrow it down to the five things you're most passionate about. The things you would stand up on a park bench and tell the world about if you could.

Your list can include anything you're passionate about... from caring for shelter animals to living a greener life to supporting a charity that resonates with you to mentoring a younger person. The sky’s the limit! The key is that it has to make a difference to others rather than just to yourself.

Once you choose those five areas, you've created a foundation for changing your world. You don't have to know exactly how you'll make a difference in those areas. You just need to know that's where you want to focus your attention.

The how will fall into place once you begin Living Your Five. I promise.

Creating my Five was one of the most powerful and life-changing things I've ever done. I truly believe every one of us has the capacity to change our world in a meaningful way. And it got me thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if we all came together to cheer each other on as we did?"

Changing the world, one Fiver at a time

I'm very fortunate to have wonderful author friends who are every bit as passionate as I am about making a difference in the world. So in early 2009, I shared the Living Your Five concept with Tera Lynn Childs, Alyson Noel and Becca Fitzpatrick and invited them to join forces with me and create an online community devoted to living our Five. They all enthusiastically climbed aboard for the adventure.

And now, many months later, it's time to say... welcome to Living Your Five!

As you'll see in our inaugural posts this week, Tera, Alyson and Becca are more than just brilliant YA authors. They're amazing, caring people as well. The Living Your Five community will grow and change over time, but we're launching the interactive group blog piece first to take advantage of its ability to quickly connect us all on the Living Your Five path.

As we kick off Living Your Five's adventure this week, we will each be sharing a post about what our Five are and why our Five are important to us. (Update: Want to read our Fives? Check them out here: Kay's Five - Alyson's Five - Becca's Five - Tera's Five) Then, beginning next Monday, we'll begin our regular bi-weekly rotation on Mondays and Wednesdays to share with you what we've done in the last two weeks to live our Five.

We'll be cheering each other on with our successes, sharing the obstacles we overcome along the way, and even giving you a sneak peek into our sentimental side when something we've done comes full circle and we can see first-hand the difference we've made. (And let me tell you, those are incredibly powerful moments.)

But it's not just about us. It's about you! It's about all of us working together and cheering each other on as we change our world. As our favorite quote says:

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."
~ Mahatma Gandhi

We're ready to be that change. And if you're ready to embrace your amazing potential, we want you to be that change with us.

So we'll be chiming in on Mondays and Wednesdays. Fridays we save for our exclusive Friday FiveSpot features. One of those Friday features is an extra special series we host on the first Friday of every month. (Psst... the first one's coming up on Friday, September 4th!)

This special series is called Honorary Fivers. It's a chance to share your Five and become an Honorary Fiver (you'll even get a cool Honorary Fiver badge for your web site created by our own Tera Lynn Childs!). Once you've officially shared your Five on an Honorary Fivers Friday, you'll be able to share your progress toward living your Five just like we'll be doing.

It all begins with a single step. And we'll be taking our steps right alongside you.

And that's worth celebrating!

To celebrate the official launch of Living Your Five, we're kicking off with a week-long mega contest where we're giving away daily prizes plus a fabulous grand prize!

The lucky grand prize winner will win:

A $100 Barnes & Noble gift card
(because we know you love books!)

A $100 donation in your name to the non-profit of your choice
(because we know you love making a difference!)

And the latest book (or ARC) from each Founding Fiver
(that's four signed books!)

You can earn entries into the contest in tons of different ways. Here’s how the contest works (each point = one entry into the contest):

+4 Comment below to share why you're excited about Living Your Five
+4 Follow Living Your Five via Google Friend Connect
+3 Follow Living Your Five via RSS
+3 Mention Living Your Five on your blog
(check out any of our blogs today for the official announcement - permission granted to forward!)
+2 Add Living Your Five to your blogroll
+2 Tweet about Living Your Five with a link to
(be sure to use the #fivers hashtag!)
+1 Check out Kay Cassidy's web site and blog
+1 Check out Alyson Noel's web site and blog
+1 Check out Tera Lynn Childs' web site and blog
+1 Check out Becca Fitzpatrick's web site and blog

Once you’re finished, simply post a comment with the things you’ve done and your total points. Comments must be posted below by 9:00 p.m. EST on Friday, August 28th, 2009. The grand prize winner will be announced on Saturday, August 29th, 2009.

But that's not all!

You can also enter to win the latest book (or ARC) from a Founding Fiver by commenting on her debut Five post this week. Here's the launch week schedule:

** Tuesday - Kay shares her Five
** Wednesday - Alyson shares her Five
** Thursday - Becca shares her Five
** Friday - Tera shares her Five

All winners of the daily contests will be announced on Saturday along with the grand prize winner.

Are you ready to Live Your Five?