Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reading Report

Okay, well, I just thought you should all know that I have read this week! I feel like I should be accountable for it, since I said I was going to do it.

So I read:

1. ALL FALL DOWN by Julie Coulter Bellon (romantic suspense). I really liked this book. It moved quickly, and there was a lot of action mixed in with the romance. I don't think I've ever read a romantic suspense, so it was new for me, and I really liked it.

2. SEVEN DAY FIANCE by Rachel Harris (romance). I'm not really sure why I'm gravitating toward romance, but I am. I have tons of books on my Kindle, and when I have the choice between a YA science fiction/fantasy, I'm choosing the romance!

This one was a good example of the genre, and I read it in a single day. Go me!

3. FROM THE MOMENT WE MET by Marina Adair (romance). Another fun one! I think I'm gravitating toward these stories, because A) I love romance, and B) they're easy and fun to read. Not that speculative fiction isn't, but I've found I don't have as much to pay attention to in a romance.

Anyway, this apparently, is the 5th one of these in the series. They're all available on Kindle Unlimited, and I think I'm going to read them all.

Do you find yourself gravitating toward a specific genre? Does it surprise you which one?

Monday, January 26, 2015

New ELEMENTAL Series Covers

Okay, so I released a new dystopian fantasy series last year. It's been doing well, but I decided that I'd like new covers for them. So I hired a new cover designer and I had some new covers made. I'm super-excited to reveal the new covers, and I'd like your help!

The re-launch and cover reveals will take place the week of February 9. You can post the covers any time that week on your blog or tumblr. You'll need to sign up in the form below so I can send you all the stuff.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Juggling All The Things

Okay, I think I've blogged about how I can only handle three things at a time. Three big things. So since work and family take up the two top spots, I usually one have one spot available for something else.

For a while now, my main hobby has been writing. And since it takes so much time to write, revise, edit, be in a critique group, attend and plan conferences, etc. writing has taken that third spot almost exclusively.

Until last year, when I decided I needed to get in control of my weight. So meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and going to the gym took over the third spot. It takes a lot of time and mental energy to think about food, what you'll eat, and how many calories you've taken in/expended all the time.

A lot.

And that's time and energy I used to devote to writing. Yes, I lost 55 pounds, but as soon as writing edged back into the third spot, 15 of those have come back.

One would argue that I simply don't have room to do both writing and healthy living at the same time.

But I have to have time, energy, and room for both. I'm currently trying to figure out how to make two things fill one spot, and to do both well.

It's not easy, and I don't know all the answers, but I can already see that exercising and all that stuff has to become part of just how I live, which will free up that third spot again for writing.

But that's really hard too, and I still haven't made the complete transition. Nor do I really know how to make it. But I'm working on it!

What three things fill your slots? 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

To Read or Not To Read?

Okay, so I'm about to confess to something... Are you ready?

I don't read very much. And by "very much," I mean "hardly at all." Like I maybe read 5 books last year.

I know that's not good enough, and I've really been thinking about the advice I got several years ago when I first started writing. Someone said that they advised all authors to take a year off and just read.

I remember being very hesitant to do that, because, well, I couldn't really see the value of reading as related to writing. I think I've fallen back into that same hole.

I think I have time. I'd have to take it from some other things, but I could do it. Another thing that's jaded me is sometimes I don't like the books I've spent money on. And I want to feel like my money is well-spent. I know there's not much I can do about that, but it's been a factor in how much I read.

Every book I buy goes to four different kindles, including my husband's and my ten-year-old daughter's. So I need to be somewhat selective in what I decide to purchase and put on the kindles. They can choose not to read it, but they can't choose not to see the cover if I buy it.

So it's been a bit of a dilemma. I've considered getting my own amazon account so that won't be an issue, but I haven't yet. And honestly, I don't even know what's "hot" or "popular" or "good" right now. Yes, I've heard of the big names and big titles. I don't need the same 10 books/authors recommended to me.

But what would you tell me to read if I wanted to get "caught up" with the books that have come out in the last couple of years? I probably haven't read it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

RUN RUN RUN by Lee Strauss

Okay, so a friend of mine has a new serial called GINGERBREAD MAN out, with 3 episodes. This way of writing short installments of a story is fascinating to me, as is the entire premise of this series.

FRINGE meets CASTLE in this New Adult Sci-fi Mystery Suspense by Amazon best-selling author Lee Strauss.

College girl meets boy online.
A killer targets girls like her.
She's next on the list.
The boy wants to save her.
She thinks it's him.

It's worse than they both think.

RUN RUN RUN is the first part of a three part episode - Gingerbread Man - in the romantic suspense series, A Nursery Rhyme Suspense.

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Check out AS FAST AS YOU CAN, the second episode in the series.

Marlow finds himself in a "new world" and has to convince Sage of the danger at hand. Their friendship grows as they work together to track a killer and hopefully find their friend Teagan before it's too late.


And look for the last installment, coming in the next couple of days, YOU CAN'T CATCH ME. 

Marlow and Sage were on track to catch a killer, when the unbelievable happened. Now Marlow has to convince this "new" Sage of the danger and their friend Teagan remains in grave peril.


I just think it's a brilliant concept. I mean, nursery rhyme suspense stories? Mystery? Romance? That's like triple-play fantastic!

The first episode is free, and the other two are 99 cents. I hope you'll give them a try!

What's the latest story you've heard of that made you go "I wish I'd thought of that!"? 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Wrongness of "Hurry Up"

Dude, so I think a lot of us live our life according to this "hurry up" philosophy. I'm constantly telling my kids to hurry up and shower, hurry up and get their shoes on, hurry up so they don't miss the bus.

I don't like being late, but I also want to squeeze every second out of every minute, so I often find myself hurrying to get ready, eat breakfast, and get where I need to get.

I guess that's okay for life, though I do enjoy it when things aren't in hurry-up mode.

I definitely think I've been applying this "hurry up" offense to writing, and it hasn't made me very happy. It's just frustrating to feel like I need to hurry up and get where someone else already is. Hurry up and write something new. Something on-trend. Something commercial. Something that will sell.

The problem is, I can't do more than I'm already doing. Writing and publishing is not my full-time job, nor the only thing of importance in my life. I also don't want to write something just so it'll sell. Writing is much more artistic to me than that, and I'm kind of a snob about what I write.

So the hurry up attitude is hurtful to my process, and my psyche. I was talking to a good friend last week about this -- she's the one who actually put it into words I could understand -- and she helped me see that I don't need to be where someone else is. I don't need to be hurrying to do anything. I'm right where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

No hurry up needed.

Have you ever felt like you need to hurry up and get where someone else is? How does it work for you?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lessons From American Idol

Okay, I've often wondered what a reality TV show would look like for writers. Can you imagine standing on stage while someone reads part of your manuscript and then proceeds to criticize you? I get that it's not the same as singing or cooking, but dude.


I watch a lot of reality TV, and I love it. But I think those poor people! every time. Getting torn apart on national airwaves. #notmycupoftea

Anyway, I was watching American Idol last week, and Keith Urban said something that I think can apply to anyone in a competitive industry. (I also just watched Black Swan for the first time, and wow. But that's another blog post for another day.)

He said, "You're up against a lot of talented singers. So it's about making sure you find something to stand out."

I think that applies so well to writing too. With the hundreds of thousands of books being published, both in the traditional and Indie markets, we're up against a lot of talented writers. It's a matter of writing something that will stand out.

The problem is knowing what that is. Making it align with your passion. And probably forty thousand other things.

I know, because I wrote a time travel thriller that I really love. (And time travel is extremely hard to write and like afterward!) I signed with an agent for it. She couldn't sell it. We broke up. I gave it to another agent, who loved it. But, and I quote, "I can't sell this in 2015. It's not what editors want."

So we're up against a lot of talented authors, and we need to not only find something to make our work stand out, but it has to be the right kind of work. I used to think that good writing and fabulous storytelling would win out. But I have a good book with fabulous storytelling, and I can't sell it.

Just like there are a lot of great singers on American Idol that don't become superstars. It's a good lesson to learn, and I'm glad I don't have to do it on live television.

Any lessons you've learned in random places? Bits of inspiration from a commercial or something? 

Lay it on me.

Friday, January 9, 2015

IGNITE Launch Party!

Okay, so the greatest part of being in the Utah writing scene is the launch parties. There are a PLETHORA of them, and I try to get to as many as I can. Admittedly, that is not as many as I would like, especially in the winter.

But it wasn't snowing this week, and so I made the trek over the mountain (for realz. We drive over a mountain from one county to another. The spot is even called "point of the mountain") to Sara B. Larson's launch party for IGNITE.

About IGNITE: Murder, abductions, and forbidden romance abound in this thrilling sequel to Sara B. Larson's acclaimed YA debut, DEFY.

Alexa remains by the newly crowned King Damian’s side as his guard, ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion's people, despite continuing to harbor a secret love for him. However, when another threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on their newly forged allies from Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. With the fate of her nation hanging in the balance once again, will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy -- before it's too late?

I haven't read the book yet (I just got it on Tuesday), but I've read DEFY, and I really liked it. I'm sure I'll enjoy IGNITE too. If you haven't tried this YA fantasy series yet, you should!

And here's a picture of just a few of the people at the party: Kathryn Purdie, Emily West, Nichole Giles, Sara B. Larson, Jo Schaffer, Erin Summerill, and me.

Gone to anything fun lately? Doesn't have to be writing-related...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Other Side of Normal

Okay, so that's probably a title of major bestseller or something. I'm too lazy to go look it up. I've just been thinking a lot about what "normal" is for me.

And I've realized that I'm not very normal. At least not the way I think other normal people are.

As a writer, I think that might automatically put us all outside the sphere of normal. When I tell people that I write books, I usually get a reaction like, "What? Normal people do that?"

No, no, they do not.

Because really, who wants to torture themselves over a period of many months drafting, revising, giving your work to someone specifically for them to tell you everything that's wrong with it, revising some more, and then submitting?

It's torture! Torture, people!

And we're choosing to do it!

Why? Why do we do that?

Because we're on the other side of normal. At least that's what I've decided. Because it is not normal to want to put yourself through hard things on purpose. Most of our lives are spent trying to make things easier. Heck, I spray Rain-X on my windshield so it's easier to scrape in the winter, easier for the wipers to work, easier, easier, easier.

Most of us want to operate on the path of least resistance.

But, somehow, writing is not the path of least resistance, and we're still doing it!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we're crazy. Or that what we do is wrong, or abnormal, or anything negative. I've just been thinking about why I keep submitting my work over and over (and over) only to get those heart-wrenching emails of rejection. I must like it. Or I just operate on a different scale from normal.

I'm pretty sure I don't like it, so I'm going to go with being on the other side of normal.

What do you think? Have you ever thought about why you keep trying at this writing thing? Are you operating within the sphere of normal or on the other side?

It's kind of a party over here. We have bacon. Just sayin'.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Welcome to 2015! (Goodbye 2014!)

Okay, so I've been the worst blogger on the planet since about July. Maybe I made it to August. Ha! Anyway, I've decided to try to make a bit of a comeback in 2015. Sometimes I have things to say, and sometimes I don't.

I'm not really sure what the protocol is for goals and such, because I don't really make new goals in January. I constantly evaluate where I'm spending my time, and if it's the best use of it.

I also teach elementary school, and a lot of my goals begin in August. My "year" runs from August to June, and then I pretty much live a completely different life for the summer. Oh my heck! That's why I completely fell off the blogging bandwagon. *lightbulb moment*

But I do have some goals this year for my writing. I'll admit 2014 was a rough year for me. Heck, a lot of 2013 was too. Not personally. We're healthy for the most part. I have a teenager now, so that about sums that up.

But as far as my writing goes, I didn't write a single new word in any manuscript until October of last year. So for 10 months (TEN months!), I didn't do much. I was doing some self-publishing, which I love, so I rationalize that I was still working toward my goals.

And I think I was.

But I wasn't writing. And the writing is what I love.

So I started a new book in October. It was a project I liked, but I'm not super-passionate about. I've semi-abandoned it, but I think it might be something I come back to later.

In November, I began a new book, and it really took hold of me. In November and December, I wrote two books. Two whole books! Just over 100,000 words. In two months.

I found the love of writing again, and I realized that sometimes publishing sucks, but writing is always great.

So I've deviated from the whole goals portion of this. Anyway, I do have some self-publishing plans. I have some submission plans. But mostly I have writing plans, because those are the things I can actually control.

I have plans to write another novel-in-verse this year. Probably in February.

I have plans to write two more books that go with the two I wrote at the end of last year. I just started one a couple of days ago, and I'm going to write another in March.

I have plans to revise and edit in April.

I have plans to complete a "30 ideas in 30 days" challenge. This is where I write down a new idea for a new book everyday for 30 days. Sometimes they're terrible. But sometimes they're not (My self-published book SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE came from my 30 days file).

I think those plans will help me move forward in 2015. I know plans get derailed sometimes, but that's what I've got right now.

What plans do you have this year?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Paladin: Pawn by Michael Young

Okay, so I'm here today, climbing out of my blog hiatus, to share an amazing book recommendation with you.

PALADIN: PAWN by Michael Young is a great, fast read for middle grade and lower YA readers. I enjoyed reading about Rich (Heinrich) and his struggle to make the right choices as he tries to figure out the pieces to a puzzle he can't even see.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's find out about PALADIN: PAWN first.

When nerdy Rich Witz unwittingly becomes a Paladin, a white knight, in training, he is thrust into a world where flunking a test can change the course of history and a mysterious bully is playing for keeps with his life.

Rich’s grandmother leaves him with one thing before disappearing for good: a white chess pawn with his initials engraved on it. The pawn marks him as the next in an ancient line of white knights. He must prove himself in a life or death contest against his Nemesis, a dark knight in training, all while dealing with math homework and English projects. With the ghost of an ancestor for his guide, he has seven days to complete four tasks of valor before his Nemesis does, or join his guide in the realm of the dead.

As Rich rushes to complete the tasks, he realizes the chilling truth: his Nemesis is masquerading as someone at school and will stop at nothing to make him fail. As the tasks grow ever harder, the other knights reveal to him that his failure will break a centuries-old chain and bring the Paladin order to ruin. If he fails, the dark knights win the right to control the fate of the world, a world without hope or the possibility of a new dawn. So this is one exam Rich has to ace, with no curve and no extra credit.

Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads.

As I said, I liked the main character, Rich. He gets picked on at school, and generally doesn't have a lot going for him. This might seem like something you see in a lot of books, but here, Michael uses it to advance the plot. The fact that Rich knows what it's like on the other side of bullying helps him in his tasks.

I also liked that the tasks Rich had to complete weren't overt acts of kindness or bravery. When he tries doing those, he fails. It's the ordinary things that earn him the pieces of his medallion. I won't give too much away, but the things the make Rich grow and change aren't exactly what he thought they would be.

And I like that in a book.

I hope you'll pick up PALADIN: PAWN and give it a read. I can't wait for the next one!

What have you been reading lately? I'll admit that I haven't been doing much reading at all. I've been settling into the school year (which has been crazy!), and watching a lot of reality TV, and just living. I'm still writing, and I'm sure publishing will be in my future, but I'm finding the balance of it all.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's All About Perspective

Okay, so I think our view of life changes as we get more experiences behind us. I know it has for me. Sometimes in our lives, as well as in publishing, we need to gain more perspective.

Sometimes I find myself becoming impatient. I want things to happen right now, or at least as quickly as possible. Sometimes publishing moves fast, and sometimes I need to step back and gain more perspective.

So here are some things I've learned in the recent past.

1. There's not a ticking clock for getting a book published. It could be this year, or next, or the year after, on in ten years.

2. Maybe you have a book you've already written that will sell, or maybe you're writing one now. But maybe, just maybe, you haven't written the thing that's going to sell. So it's probably best to stop moping about what hasn't sold and write something else. Something you love. Something that's worthwhile whether it sells or not.

Okay, that last paragraph was a pep talk to myself. But I'm not going to erase it, because maybe, just maybe, someone else needs to read that too. And maybe they (or you!) can learn from something I've realized--however painful it may have been--in the recent past.

3. Another's success does not take a "spot" for you. Sometimes there's this underlying frustration that it's not happening for you when it is happening for someone else. We start asking ourselves, "Why? What am I doing wrong? Or what are they doing that's so right, or so much better, than me?"

These are dangerous questions, and if/when you find yourself asking them, I highly suggest reading #2 again and getting back to work on a project you feel passionate about.

Even if it's not writing.

Oh yeah. I said it.

4. Sometimes you need a break from writing. I know, I know. That goes against everything in my impatient core. I want to write the next bestseller NOW. I want my agent to read NOW. I want to query NOW. I want everything NOW! (I feel a bit like Veruca in Willy Wonka!)

But sometimes, just sometimes, it's okay NOT to write. Not to think about it. Not to let your whole life be consumed by it. <<I highly advocate this anyway, but especially during a time when you're trying to gain some perspective on your publishing journey.

So yeah. Those are some things I've realized as I've taken a few steps back and tried to find some perspective on publishing.

Anything you've learned recently? Lay it on me!

Monday, September 29, 2014


Okay, I got to read an ARC of THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE by Shallee McArthur, and I just can't wait another month to talk about it. I thought the book was brilliant, starting at the premise. I mean, a whole race of people who can't store their memories in their minds? They store their memories in beads made of stone or wood (as those materials house them best) and can remember every--tiny--detail of their lives because of it.

You want to know more about this book. Here's the official blurb: Seventeen-year-old Genesis Lee has never forgotten anything. As one of the Mementi—a small group of genetically-enhanced humans—Gena remembers everything with the help of her Link bracelets, which preserve memories perfectly. But Links can be stolen, and six people have already lost their lives to a memory thief, including Gena’s best friend.

Anyone could be next. Which is why Gena is less than pleased to meet a strange but charming boy named Kalan who claims that they’ve not only met, but that Gena knows who the thief is.

The problem is, Gena doesn’t remember Kalan, she doesn’t remember seeing the thief, and she doesn’t know why she’s forgetting things— or how much else she might forget. As growing tensions between Mementi and ordinary humans drive the city of Havendale into chaos, Gena and Kalan team up to search for the thief. And as Gena loses more memories, they realize they have to solve the mystery fast.

Because Gena’s life is unhappening around her.

I absolutely loved this book. See, the main character, Gena, is one of the Mementi, and she's a victim of the memory thief. No, the thief doesn't take any of her beads, but she's siphoning off her memories.

I couldn't flip the pages fast enough to get to the heart of this mystery. I wanted to know who the memory thief was SO BAD. And the best part? I figured it out mere seconds before Gena did--and that is masterful plotting and writing. I always want to know split seconds before the MC does. I never want to be blindsided by something I didn't see coming, nor do I want to have figured it out pages and pages before the MC does.

Gena is a likeable and smart character. There's a hint of romance with Kalen, but it's not overdone, nor does it detract from the main plot of solving the mystery of the memory thief.

The world-building is pretty flawless. I felt like I existed inside Havendale, Arizona, and that I could join that city as one of the ordinary humans (obviously!).

THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE comes out on November 4. If it's not on your radar yet, this should be your warning to put it on!

Have you read anything spectacular lately? What?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Validation

Okay, so I've had an interesting year. It was almost exactly a year to this date that I decided to break up with my first agent and seek a second. That process took a couple of months, and during that time, I decided to self-publish a novel that my first agent and I had submitted to publishers in New York.

That book was Elevated, and I think it's done pretty well out there. Since then, I've published two more novels and two novellas. I've had another book out on submission with my new agent that didn't sell.

I'll admit that it's getting a little...I don't know the right word. Taxing? Tiresome? Something along those lines. It's getting a little tiresome to keep beating my head against this wall of publishing.

Here's the thing: I think my stories are good. I've even had agents who thought they were good enough to submit to editors. Both of those are validating things, but for some reason, I still want that publishing contract. I want that validation with an editor, a marketing team, with readers, and with my author friends.

I've struggled with this for a while. I'll have weeks where I'm like, "Who cares? I'm still the same person no matter what. I don't care what people think." Then the next day, sometimes the next hour, I'm like, "I need the validation from All The People."

It's sort of a sickening seesaw. I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. Maybe just wondering where you get your validation from? How can I gain more internal validation? Or maybe I have enough and that's why I haven't quit trying yet? 

Monday, September 15, 2014


My newest novel, a YA contemporary romance in verse, is available today! I hope you'll take a few minutes and just four bucks to support me and my new release.

SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE is my second YA contemporary romance novel-in-verse, and I hope you love it as much as you did my first (Elevated).

What people have said about SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE:
"Hooray for another fantastic YA contemporary verse novel from Elana Johnson!" ~Hazel @ Stay Bookish (see full review)

"Something about Love is an exceptional read." ~wrecked_life (see full review)

About SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE: High school senior Olivia Winging gave up her love of photography when she gave up her boyfriend, Trevor Youngblood, a year and a half ago. She broke things off with Trevor because her mom married his dad, and dating your step-brother? Creepy.

Livvy hasn’t been on good terms with her mother since, and one of her stipulations for staying at the Youngblood’s every other weekend is that Trevor can’t be there. When she gets nominated for the Junior Photography in Excellence award, Trevor insists she enter. She agrees—only if every photo in the portfolio can be of him. Knowing that Livvy can capture a person’s deepest secrets through her lens, Trevor hesitates before accepting the deal.

As Livvy gets behind the lens of her camera again, her love of photography is rekindled. Unfortunately, the time she spends with Trevor also re-ignites the old flame for him she’s kept smothered for so long.

In order for Livvy to finish her portfolio, she’ll have to face her feelings for Trevor as well as deal with the animosity between her and her mother. Livvy’s always been able to capture a person’s soul from behind the camera—but she’s not sure she likes it when the lens is suddenly focused on her. If she can’t find a way to forgive her mother and admit how she feels about Trevor, Livvy may end up losing more than just the photography contest. She could lose her heart. 

And ELEVATED, my first novel-in-verse that came out earlier this year is free this week! So be sure to get your copy of that too.