Thursday, December 23, 2010


Okay, so I was going to do a Bookanista post today, but I was too lazy to do it. I can't do another list, because I did a (potentially lame) one on Tuesday. I'm not blogging tomorrow, and I'm taking next week off, so this is my last post of 2010.

It has to be good.



This is it.

I could tell you that I like that Target commercial where Santa is running in to get a last minute gift.

But that's ghetto.

I could tell you that I've started watching Seinfeld again, and every episode is just as good as I remember.

But that just shows how old I am.

I could tell you that I've eaten out at least once every day this week.

But that just illustrates...something about me. I'm not sure what.

So I guess I'll just say this: 2011 IS GOING TO BE THE YEAR OF AWESOME.

Are you ready?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All the Pigs Have Died!

Two topics today. Bacon and quitting. Don't they go together swimmingly? Let's examine.

On Bacon:
Okay, so Quinn thought he'd be reeeaaal clever and ask: "If some virus or something caused all the pigs in the world to die--meaning, no more bacon--what would you do?"

I'm not even sure I can answer this question. I mean, seriously. How about: medicate myself with another salted cured meat. Would that work?

Probably not. #savethepigs!

Katie Ganshert asked: "When did your love affair with bacon first begin? Was it love at first sight? More of a falling in love as you get to know each other better type of thing? Have you ever gone through rough patches?"

I've loved bacon for as long as I can remember. Totally love at first sight. And doesn't every relationship have it's rough spots? Yes. Bacon and I...we're sort of evolving into new areas right now. You know, maple sugar, chocolate. The possibilities really are endless.

And dude! I just got this book from my editor. My life is now complete.

On Quitting:
Carolina Valdez Miller asked: "Have you quit? I mean, have you ever just said, "I can't do this anymore," and stopped writing? At least for a while?"

Oh, I've definitely said, "I can't do this anymore," and it was said in extreme frustration. But did I quit? No. I might take a break and watch my favorite movies (Two Weeks Notice and Pirates of the Caribbean) or make too much food or curl up with my Pillow Pet. But I haven't actually quit writing.

Kathryn Packer Roberts asked: "Do you have a book(s) that you absolutely loved and had to shelve to move on to the one you are publishing? How did that feel and why did you end up coming to that decision? Do you think you will ever go back to that/those books?"

1. Yes, I queried another novel before POSSESSION. Yes, I loved it. Yes, I thought it was good. I was wrong.

2. Shelving that book felt like ripping out my heart, sticking it in the microwave, and watching it explode. I had to shelve it because deep, deep down inside the tiny part of myself that knows things knew it wasn't "the one." And I'd queried every agent on the planet and they all said no. That convinced me, too.

3. No, I don't think I'll go back to that book. I like the characters and the concept, and I might rewrite it from blank pages using their names and the overall idea, but that's it. In the far distant future. It's not a project that's even on the stove right now.

What about you? Have you ever quit? Are you contemplating throwing in the towel? Why? And most important: What would you do if pigs landed on the extinction list? (Perish the thought.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday, Christmas Edition

Let's just launch right in, shall we? Yeah, who needs these introductory lines?

1. Once again, my blog posts aren't written in advance. This makes me queasy each night when I go to bed, because I haven't edited them to death. You've been warned.

2. The reason my blog posts aren't written is because I wasn't sure I was going to be blogging this week.

3. I decided to take next week off instead of this week, but I still didn't write any posts over the weekend.

4. I'm sure you're all fascinated by my blogging thought process.

5. Then blogger freaked out. Wouldn't open. Spun. And spun. And spun. Which prompted this tweet.

6. I learned how to use the program "Snipping Tool" on my computer to capture that shot for you. You're welcome.

7. I made two pans of ghetto toffee (delish), 35 homemade oreo cookies (2 cookies each, yo) and like, a million Oreo bon bons (dipping chocolates is sooo not my thing. It requires patience.) yesterday. I hope the neighbors are happy.

8. I found the perfect song for my WiP. "The Harold Song" by Ke$ha. Very angsty. Right up my alley.

9. It's my dad's birthday today. I guess I better get on the horn and sing.

10. My new favorite movie is "Despicable Me." Don't judge. ("It's so fluffy!")

11. You might be asking yourself how this is the Christmas Edition of Tell the Truth Tuesday. I know I am.

What's on your mind today? Tell me the truth now...

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Hate My Life Right Now

Okay, so I was looking through some old email (don't ask), and I saw this subject. I'd written the email to a friend of mine, and this was the message:

Subject: I hate my life right now
Date: 5/18/09

Message: "Okay, so [name of amazing literary agent who just wasn't for me] just rejected my full because of this: "I think your writing style is quite masterful and fluid, but I regret that the pace moved slowly for me and I worried that young readers might not get hooked by the story as quickly or as wholly as they should."

And it's my first full rejection and now all my happy energy is completely gone! Waah!!"

That was the beginning of my querying journey. I had many more fulls rejected after that. I survived.

I am still alive.

And I found my one.

You can too.

It's interesting to me to look back on emails like this and remember that desperation, despair, happiness, and/or elation. At the end of each year, I like to look back and see how far I've come. Sometimes it's farther than I thought. Sometimes, I know I need to do better.

When you look back at the last year, what do you see? Can you see how far you've come?

(And I don't really hate my life right now. I have the next 14 days off work--so it's actually the best day ever.)

Bug caricatures by Neil Numberman: Jemi Fraser, Shari, and Natalie Aguirre!

Congrats all! Email me for details, okay? Okay.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Going Green

Julie Wright asked: do you ever get like crazy jealous of other authors who "seem" to have it easy with publishing?

Short answer: heck yes.

Longer answer: heck yes I do! There are endless options for the Green to come. She got a better deal than I did. He only had to query for two weeks. Her pub is doing this, and this, AND THIS. He just sold movie rights. They only sent 25 queries? Are you serious??

She got this and I didn't.
He got that and I didn't.

Yeah, I feel it. I don't like feeling it.

So what do I do?

A combination of things:
1. Shut down the Internet. Can't feel bad about what you don't know.
2. Work harder to make my next book better, my next blog post better, myself better.
3. Chat with people who won't hate me (much) for whining.
4. Eat a lot of sour patch kids.
5. Remind myself that I'm going to have a real, live, breathing, shiny book in just 6 months. And that's all I ever wanted.

I didn't want to be rich. I didn't want a movie. I didn't want everything.

I wanted to see my book sitting on the shelf at a bookstore.

And I will.

It wasn't easy, and yeah, I sometimes hate people who seem to have it easy (seriously, 25 queries??). But then I remember my journey, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

It's mine. And my long, painful, I-think-publishing-a-book-might-kill-me journey helped me become the writer I am. The blogger I am. And I like that person.

Let's hear your answer to Julie's question: do you ever get like crazy jealous of other authors who "seem" to have it easy with publishing?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

JOEY FLY 2: PRIVATE EYE by Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman

Okay, so switchin' it up on the blog today. You know me, I'm all angsty teen drama. But today's Bookanista feature is *gasp* a graphic novel.

No lie.

JOEY FLY 2: PRIVATE EYE by Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman, to be exact. And dude, there's so much to love! Bugs! Adventure! Action! Even though this isn't the norm fr me, I really enjoyed this book. And I managed to get Aaron and Neil to answer my insane questions...


The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:
Aaron: A dramatic tarantula. A theatre company. A missing leading lady. A jealous gypsy moth. A snide stinkbug. Add suspense and poop jokes. Stir and enjoy. (WIN for the best twitter pitch. I mean, stirring poop? YES.)

What made you think, “Hmm, I think I’ll write a graphic novel?” Or “Hey, I want to illustrate a graphic novel?” (whichever applies)
Aaron: The first Joey Fly book actually started as a novel. It was my editor who looked at it and said “This is a graphic novel." I had written a graphic novel series before (Tiger Moth, Insect Ninja), so I was totally up for transforming this mystery series into a graphic novel.

Neil: I don’t think I was actively seeking out graphic novel illustration gigs when Aaron’s script for the first Joey Fly crossed my desk, but they offered it to me, and I wasn’t about to decline! I had only done a few comics up to that point, probably less than a total of ten pages, but I thought it’d be a fun challenge.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
Aaron: I’ve recently written Joey Fly #3: Haunted Housefly, which we hope will continue the series in a great way. I also have a new picture book coming out with Simon and Schuster called CREEPY CARROTS. It’s a mock-horror about a bunny who is convinced he’s being stalked by evil root vegetables. (Oh my heck. I'm in love with this. And not just because it's S&S...)

Neil: I’m working on a heavily illustrated chapter book right now. I used to be a reluctant reader, and now I want to reach out to that crowd. So, there are lots of cartoons, but also a dense story with a lot of colorful characters.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Aaron: Definitely not. But I always wanted to be CREATIVE. I started out in theatre, as an actor. That led to writing plays, directing videos and film, producing animations, and even a stint at cooking school thrown in there along the way for fun. All of this eventually led me to writing books for kids. Sometimes you don’t end up where you thought you would, which is the amazing and wonderful beauty of life, especially a creative life.

Neil: I always loved writing as a kid and got great feedback from teachers, but over the last decade I’ve just been trying to polish my illustration skills. I’m just now getting into writing again, and really happy to be doing it!

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
Aaron: I was writing plays for kids and having success with that. And I loved kids’ books. One day I decided that I should try my hand at a kids’ book. The results were highly unpublish-worthy, but I loved the process and the writing itself. So I wrote another. And another. And another. Eventually, one of them was actually good enough to be published and things opened up from there.

Neil: Who wouldn’t want to be published?! (I know, right?) I was lucky enough in my early career that the publishers have found me. (I sort of hate you for this. Just sayin'. And come read tomorrow's post to find out exactly why...) I suppose that’s an advantage of being an artist as well.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?
Aaron: Extra underwear.

Neil: Fire. (Well played, Numberman. Well played.)

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.
Aaron: I’m a bit of a World of Warcraft addict. (In my experience, there is no "bit" about it. ;))

Neil: I can balance a yardstick on my nose for well over ten minutes. (I have no comment for this.)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate?
Aaron: Chocolate wrapped in bacon, please. (My new BFF!)

Neil: No bacon for me and I’m allergic to chocolate! (Oh, now this is just sad. My condolences.)

Aaron Reynolds is a human, not a bug, but he often writes about bugs. He is the author of Chicks and Salsa, Superhero School, Snowbots, and, of course, the Joey Fly, Private Eye graphic novels. Visit him at his website at

Neil Numberman is a termite currently residing in New York City. Joey Fly, Private Eye his first graphic novel series, but he is also the author/illustrator of the picture book Do NOT Build a Frankenstein. Stop by his website at

As if this wasn't the funnest post ever, you can get your own bug caricature drawn by Neil himself! In fact, a whole bunch of you can. I will be choosing 1 out of every 10 people who comment, and Neil will draw for YOU! Win.

So leave a comment. I mean, seriously, there's a vast array of possibilities. Poop stirring. Ruler balancing. Chocolate allergies. How Aaron didn't give up. Pick one. And then go pick up JOEY FLY 2: PRIVATE EYE. You won't be sorry.

Oh, and Aaron and Neil will be hovering around the blog today, so feel free to ask them questions!

And check out what the other Bookanistas are up to:
Kirsten Hubbard celebrates JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD and THE MOCKINGBIRDS
Beth Revis chimes in on CHIME
Lisa and Laura Roecker rave about BOOKS THEY’RE DYING TO READ
Carolina Valdez Miller looks ahead to JANUARY RELEASES
Bethany Wiggins fawns over Firelight

Jemi Fraser and Shari have already won their own bug caricature from Neil! Could you be next?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inside Elana: Favorites

Jemi Fraser asked: I'd like to know 2 things...
1 - what was the book that really hooked you into being a reader as a kid? (I have no idea. I didn't think consciously of things like that as a child. I still don't, most of the time.)

2 - what is your favourite book to read aloud to kids? (Hmm...I don't teach reading, but my husband loves to read THE WISH LIST by Eoin Colfer.)

Sharon K. Mayhew asked: Twizzlers or M & M's? (M&Ms. Pretzel.)

Nicole L Rivera asked: What book did you read that made you most want to become a writer? (UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld.)

Jess of All Trades asked: What's your sign? (Sagittarius. My birthday was on Saturday.)

lynnrush asked: I like to wear one of my most favorite sweatshirts while I write. It's totally old and faded, but it's just something I love to wear while writing. Anyway, do you do anything like that? Like clothing, or maybe a special spot to write, or whatever. . . (The only thing I need is a pair of headphones. The louder the music, the better. But I won't lie; I like to lounge in pj's most of the time.)

lotusgirl asked: What's your favorite time of day and why? (Night, between say 9 - 11 PM. The house is quiet. I'm done "working" for the day. I can write/blog/watch TV, whatever I want. 9 - 11 PM holds FREEDOM.)

Colene Murphy asked: What is the best thing you ever brought to show and tell as a kid? ( idea. I remember being lame in elementary school, so I probably brought lame things.)

Susan R Mills asked: do you like your bacon burnt and crispy like I do? (Heck yes! Almost to the point of burnt.)

Shannon Messenger asked: Captain Jack Sparrow or Will Turner? (This says it all.)

(He'll always be Legolas to me.)

Lisa Gibson asked: Do you think bacon flavored jelly bellies would be good? (I don't think they have them do they?) Would you try them if they made them? Or even bacon flavored Twizzlers (okay that's kinda too weird)? (I'm not what you'd call experimental with her eating. But I'd probably try anything bacon flavored at least once.)

Okay, your turn. Favorites? Least favorites?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Am Not Awesome

Tina Lynn asked: are you so amazing? Come on, confess. Launched here in an escape pod by your parents during a nuclear apocalypse? Bitten by a radioactive spider? Given a ring that gives you the power to create anything you can imagine? It's only fair that you tell us mere humans so we can stop beating ourselves up for being less know?

Quinn also asked me this question, he just didn't know it. (Check out his post here.)

Okay, so it's totally fine with me if you want to label me with the Awesome Stamp.

I'm just not going to label myself with it. And here's why:

I want to live every day better than the last. I want to keep improving myself and my writing. The second I allow myself to think I'm awesome, I know that I'll slip.

I won't try. I won't work as hard. I won't improve.

And so while I'm glad you think I'm awesome, and I try to accept the compliment graciously, I do not want to think that about myself.

I don't want to think "all is well."

I want to be better today than I was yesterday. In all areas of my life, not just writing.

What about you? What do you tell yourself--or don't tell yourself--to keep moving forward?

And it was Edward, for the official record and all that. He used to watch me sleep in my bedroom. Now we stay up all night, him watching (forEVER watching) and me blogging and writing and tweeting and baking delicious blood brownies.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Pk Hrezo asked: How do you keep up with everything? I mean, really? Do you forget things? Or is your day all planned in Outlook?? (Google Calendar, but very, VERY close. And yes, I forget things, though I try really hard not to.)

Hannah Kincade asked: How do find the time, energy, skill, extra arms to do all of the things you do? I imagine you're like a Tasmanian devil just spinning and drooling in front of mutiple computers. Am I close? I mean, I want to see an actual daily plan. (Multiple computers? Caught! And I could email you my Google cal, but you might faint.)

Kerri C asked: How the heck do you manage kids, writing, and being a social web butterfly? (Read on...)

Theresa Milstein asked: What do you feel you need to sacrifice in order to work and to make time to write? (Many, many things. See below.)

Carol Kilgore asked: On an average day, how much time do you spend blogging and how much time do you spend writing? (Depends. Most weekdays, I read blogs for 2-3 hours. Writing...uh...depends.)

Abby Minard asked: with all the blogging, writing, emailing etc you do, how do you find a balance between that and your personal life? (I wear many hats, some on top of one another.)

Okay, so can you see a theme in these questions? They're all basically asking me how I accomplish what I accomplish. I've blogged about this before in various forms (time limits on certain things, blogging during lunch, etc.).

But the real answer is this: SACRIFICE.

Sometimes I sacrifice time with my family.
Sometimes I sacrifice making dinner.
Sometimes I sacrifice sleep.
Sometimes I sacrifice sanity.
Sometimes I sacrifice twitter/facebook.
Sometimes I sacrifice vacation time.
Sometimes I sacrifice weekends.

Sometimes I sacrifice you.

That's all there is to it. In order to do one thing, you must usually sacrifice another. You must choose.

That's why I make each choice as deliberately as I can. Because there are some things I'm not willing to sacrifice. And when I near that line, I pull back, sacrifice other things.

Choices, choices.

Because when I read your blogs, I'm not making dinner. When I'm involved in the twitter chats, I'm not spending time with my family. When I'm writing, I'm not sleeping, making dinner, or spending time with my family.

I am always sacrificing something. So I try to wear the hats I need to wear for the length of time I need to wear them, and then I take them off.

That's it.


What do you sacrifice to be able to write? What won't you sacrifice?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stripping Down

Dude, get your mind out of the gutter. Totally not that kind of stripping down. But today, I'm doing something I swore I'd never do. And I'm terrified.

See, I participated in the Debutante Ball, and several people said they were glad to get to know more about me. I was like, "Wha--? Everyone knows everything about me!"

I mean, it's not exactly like I hold back here on the blog. So yeah.

But then I realized that there are probably many things that my blog readers don't know about me. (The world doesn't only revolve around bacon. True fact.)

So today, one chance only, you can ask me a question. Or two. Or whatever. And in the future, I'll answer it.

Questions can be about me personally, or about Possession, or about writing, blogging, or whatever you want. I reserve the right to pretend like I didn't see your question if I don't want to give away things about my book and/or how much I weigh.


Ooo-kaaay. *cringes* This is so like stripping down to your bare bones and having people really see inside you. Really, really see inside.

But the comments are open...

Ask away.

And holy squee! You can win some Possession-related things on The League blog today. (Surely you've entered to win ALL FIVE of our books, right?) And Holy Mother of All Contests! Have you been to Beth Revis's blog? No? GO NOW.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Dude, you guys, up today for the Bookanista feature is THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY by Carolyn Kaufman. I think is such a HUGE resource for writers! I have a copy, and it is, in one word, brilliant.

I really liked how easy this book is to read. Anything you need to know re: psych, and this book is your resource. The go-to resource. And you can win a copy by leaving a comment on this post.

But first, let's explore the awesome that is THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY and the real brainz behind the genius, Carolyn.

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:
Avoid common psychology misconceptions and inaccuracies in your stories and start getting your psych right: The Writer’s Guide to Psychology!

What made you think, "I need to write a book like THE WRITER’S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY?"
The media is packed with outdated information and inaccuracies about modern clinical and counseling psychology. Though there are a very few professional books detailing the problem, nobody was teaching the people creating the media – writers – how to overcome the problem. In other words, someone needed to say “Hey, what you think you know about clinical and counseling psychology -- disorders, diagnosis, and therapy, for example -- may not be accurate” and then take it a step farther and offer a solution.

So that’s what I decided to do.

The whole time I was writing, I kept in mind the way I got into psychology: I started taking psych courses in college to help me become a better fiction writer. Generally, the people who write books like mine are experts in their fields first and writers second. But since I was a writer first, I really appreciate all the ways psychology can be used to improve things like characterization and plotting, and I worked those details into the book.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
I’m working on a proposal for another book right now. Like this one, it will involve psychology for writers, but from a different perspective. I can’t say a lot more than that, other than that I hope it will be a nice companion to this book.

I have this feeling I’m slower at producing proposals than other writers, but I do tons of research ahead of time. I need to know exactly what’s going into each chapter, and that the information is grounded in solid research. I think that’s part of what makes this book (and what will make future books) unique – it’s not based in pop psychology, it’s based in empirical psychological research and practice.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
This is kind of a funny question to me, because “writer” has been the most enduring part of my identity for most of my life. In other words, I haven’t always wanted to be a writer – I simply always have been, the way I’m female or a brunette. I don’t really know how else to describe it.

With regards to publication, it didn’t really occur to me when I first started writing. It wasn’t until other people started suggesting it, and then that sort of became part of the dream. Writing has always sustained me on its own, though.

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
THE WRITER’S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY was born of three loves: writing, psychology, and teaching. (I’m a psychology college professor by day). So writing a book to teach writers how to get their psych right was a very natural step for me.

When I write fiction, I write it for me. I would love to publish it, but I also just love writing. This book was different from that, because there was little point to writing it unless it was going to be published. A teacher needs students, or she has no purpose! I kept my readers in mind the entire time I was writing. Based partly on my experience as a professor and partly on my work with writers, I tried to anticipate questions and concerns while really digging into information writers can use.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?
Are you kidding me? They won’t be able to throw me off the island fast enough. I’m taking my computer. ☺

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.
I have a weakness for Pre-Raphaelite art. It’s kind of like your weakness for bacon. Speaking of which…

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate?
I do like bacon, but…definitely chocolate.

THE WRITER’S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY is available from all the big and small online retailers like Though it isn’t out quite yet, a Kindle version of the book is coming soon!

You can visit Carolyn’s WGTP website for more information, including the media kit and a detailed table of contents, follow her on Facebook, visit her YouTube channel, or send her your psychology and writing questions at Archetype Writing, her website on psychology for writers.

And there you have it! Leave a comment to be entered to win a signed copy of THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY. (And in case you were wondering, chocolate: 3, bacon: 0.)

Oh! And check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today:
Christine Fonseca also recommends THE WRITERS GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY
Shannon Messenger raves about DESIRES OF THE DEAD and gives away the ARC
Megan Miranda gushes about REVOLUTION
Lisa and Laura Roecker present a special Guestanista review of PERSONAL DEMONS
Bethany Wiggins praises ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Working Hard

Okay, so a couple of friends and I really pushed each other through our writing in November. Two of us (Ali and I) were writing new words for NaNo. Christine was editing her second, fabulous, amazing, you-want-it-now book, 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids (out May 1, 2011. Order yours now!)

We all had goalz. And we'd tweet each other to see when we were writing, and we emailed each night our final word count and last lines. (I like to see the lines out of context--plus, it made me write a really good line every time in case that was my last one and I had to email it off. No lie.)

I thought I'd be cool and put up our twitter feeds. But that got squashed real quick when I realized how much, um, work that was going to be. Ha!

Anyway, I wanted to talk about working hard today. In one of the tweets, Ali called me a workhorse. Last week, when I posted my jacket, Shannon commented that she knew all along that I was a vampire, since I don't sleep (I mean, how else do I get everything done that I get done?).

And I realized that I am a bit of a workhorse.

My husband said it best: "When Elana does something, she does it." (Said to a friend of ours.)

And he's right. When I do something, I do it. I work at it. And work at it. And work at it.

And then I work at it some more.

Because, let's face it, writing a book is a holy-truckload-of-workhorses lotta of work. If you didn't know this already, I suggest you quit before you start. You'll be happier, your spouse/significant other probably will be too. And your kids? Cats? Whatever? They'll be happier too.

If you're still here, if you've accepted that writing this book is probably going to take more time and effort than graduating college, then crack your knuckles...

...and get back to work! (lol!)

But in all seriousness, as per yesterday's post, I absolutely for-sure 100% believe that in the end, hard work trumps all.

"Bad" luck? Hard work can overcome that.

Self-doubt? Hard work can overcome that.

Vomituous first drafts? Hard work can overcome that.

Negative review? Hard work can overcome that.

Disappointment over rejection?
Wallowing in thoughts of "this is never going to happen for me"?
Scared someone else will beat you to a fresh idea?
Worried that you're running out of time?
Jealous that a friend got an agent/book deal/more money than you?

Hard work can overcome that.

Those who work hard, achieve.

I feel like that should be a quote from a famous person or something, so I Googled it. Nothin'. Dangitall. But I did find some other gems:

"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them." ~Ann Landers

"Luck to me is something else: Hard work." ~Lucille Ball

"There is no substitute for hard work." ~Thomas Edison

So don't give up. Work harder.

Have you seen the role of hard work in your life? How hard are you willing to work?

And don't forget to check out Badass Bookie's 2011 Debutante Event! All about POSSESSION today, including some quotes from the MC's. There're chances to win...not only my book, but 11 others too! So make sure you go check it out from now until December 31! (And thanks for visiting with me and Possession over there. You guys rock hard.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What I Believe

Dude, this isn't going to be like uber-religious or anything. I know some of you are quaking. Or hoping for something juicy. Sadly, there won't be either of those things. But don't stop reading!

1. I don't believe in signs. I believe in hard work.

2. I don't believe in wallowing. I believe in creating your own luck, and accepting luck you don't create. (See yesterday's post.)

3. I don't believe in hoarding knowledge. I believe in sharing and paying it forward.

4. I don't believe in waiting for something to happen. I believe in working hard. (Come back for tomorrow's post. And see #1.)

5. I don't believe in vampires. I believe in Edward. Ha! (Just checkin' to see if you were paying attention.)

6. I don't believe in isolation. I believe in whining, er, chatting with your writerly friends. And blogging. And tweeting. And then more chatting...

7. I don't believe in chocolate. I believe in bacon.

What do you believe? What don't you believe? 

Oh, and bonus: I'm up on Badass Bookie's 2011 Debutante Event today! All about me today, all about POSSESSION tomorrow. There're chances to win...not only my book, but 11 others too! So make sure you go check it out from now until December 31!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lucky Duck

Okay, so it's winter. Maybe that's why I've got my snark on. Or maybe it's because I've been writing in my super-sarcastic voice again. Or maybe...

Maybe it's because there are things in the publishing industry that aren't fair.

Maybe it's because luck plays a huge part in the journey from unagented to agented to acquired to published.

Maybe it's because luck is one of those things that we can't control. And so we flail and hope and cross our fingers and pray that we'll be on the right side of luck.

I don't want to discount the principle of hard work. I'm blogging about that later this week. But I firmly believe that luck is an important ingredient in the birth of a book. Let's examine.

You have to A) write a book someone wants. But you don't know what they want.

That takes luck.

You have to B) get that book you've worked really hard on in front of said person in A) at the right time. But you don't know what time that is.

That takes luck.

You have to C) get that polished MS in front of said person in A) before someone else out there subs a book that is similar. But you don't know when/if the others are subbing.

That takes luck.

So let's say you get lucky, and get an agent. (You've worked hard too. That's another post--so chillax.) Now comes the real luck-needing.

You now have to trust that your agent can get your book in front of someone who wants it at the right time (which you don't know and can't control) before another agent subs something (again, you don't know and can't control) similar.

Holy luck, Lucky Luck Man.

But that's not enough in publishing. Even if the editor loves it, they usually have to get a whole team of people behind the project too. Marketing people. Sales people. Publisher-type people. Higher-up editor people. And if you thought getting one person to say yes took luck, think how much it takes to get like, 10 to say yes.

Luck, luck, luck, luck, luck.

You needz it.

And just because you don't have an agent or a book deal doesn't mean you won't get one. You just have to keep at it until the luck gravitates to your side. It will. If you keep on keepin' on, if you work hard, it will.

It will. Trust me, it will.

What say you? How important is luck in publishing?

Oh, and if you're feeling lucky (or even if you're not), go check out Pam's blog! She's giving away POSSESSION!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jacket Weather

Okay, I've been writing my blog posts the night before this week. I'm sure you've all noticed. *snarf*

I had something else planned for today, but decided to put up some POSSESSION stuff instead. I hope you'll forgive me.

First, if you haven't seen this video, go watch it RIGHT NOW. It's only like 50 seconds long, and features one of my favorite people on the planet--Ali Cross.

Are you back?

Okay, ready for some awesome??

I got my jacket in the mail! It's SPARKLY. And SHINY. And holy-mother-of-pearlized-cardstock, I SPARKLE LIKE A VAMPIRE. (Turns out it's very hard to get the sparkle to come up on the computer. But it is sparkly, trust me. And if you click on the picture, it'll get bigger. And then if you zoom in on the bigger picture, you can sort of see my vampiric skin if you tilt your head and squint. Go on...try it. And the reason it looks a bit purple, brown, black, whatever is because of the SPARKLE. Seriously. (I scanned this picture, so it's from the real live SPARKLE.))

That is all.

Okay, one more thing. prplbookworm won MATCHED! I've emailed her. :)

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

MATCHED by Ally Condie

Okay, so I was lucky enough to get an ARC of MATCHED.


I don't even have words for how this book made me feel. You know how you read something and you can just feel the power? And all these chills are racing down your arms because you know you're in the hands of someone who knows how to use words to spark something? And you know you're never going to go gently because the story has gripped you that much?

Yeah, reading MATCHED is like that.

I could go on and on about the story, but you should just buy and read it. I found it pretty amazing in a "quiet" way. That is in no way a slam--in fact, I wish I could write quietly and have the impact MATCHED has. Sadly, I cannot.

I thought the writing was brilliant. It was the actual way Ally spun the words to create an emotional web that captured me most about MATCHED.

So yeah. Buy it. Read it. Love it. It's out now, and you can get it pretty much anywhere--so go!!

And hey! You could WIN IT right here! Ally lives just a few minutes from me, and I'm attending her book launch on Saturday. So leave a comment here, and you just might get a signed copy you can call your own!

Will you go gently??

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to:
Christine Fonseca recommends JOEY FLY, PRIVATE EYE in BIG HAIRY DRAMA
Shannon Messenger loves on ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and offers a Giveaway
Megan Miranda celebrates DESIRES OF THE DEAD
Lisa and Laura Roecker salute REVOLUTION
Suzette Saxton cheers for THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice

I know, I know. You're probably like, "Ugh, really?" Yeah, really.

You may or may not have heard of this whole it-takes-10,000-hours-of-practice-to-become-a-master thing.

I've heard of it. (There's an article here.)

I haven't spent 10,000 hours writing in the past three years. Therefore, I still have many things to learn. I have, however, spent a lot of time practicing.

In writing, though, I think it's more about how many words/novels you've written, than actual hours in front of the computer. I mean, let's face it, twitter and Facebook can hardly be counted as "practice."

So I decided to open up all my old manuscripts and add up the words I've written. This is in no way a formula to say that if you write this many words, you'll be a master. As I said, I still have much to learn.

But I have written 1,024,766 words. (And with titles like ELITE (I totally forgot about that one), PLACEHOLDERS, and PASSIVE ACCELERATION you know these are real winners, people. *lol*)

(And holy brown cow aside: That's over a million words. And it's no wonder. I opened my "working drafts" folder where I've saved everything I've ever written. There's a lot in there. Short stories (4). Complete novels (13). Incomplete novels (6). Not to mention the query letters, synops, etc. (which I didn't count) Dude. Yeah, that's all. Dude.)

I do think that with each book you write, you become a better storyteller. You learn where to place things. You get a "feel" for how you write, how you storytell, how you can craft a novel from words into meaning.

So you have to keep writing. Even if you don't finish the books (I have six I've started and never finished. They need so much work to even make them finishable, that I just quit. Am I a quitter? Absolutely.), even if they don't get published, they're still beneficial.

I believe this will every fiber of my being. Tiger Woods doesn't look back and go, "Man, I wasted a whole bunch of time practicing my putting."

We shouldn't think of our practice novels as wasted time either. They're practice. And we need 10,000 hours of practice before we're truly masters.

Guess I better get back to it. I have about 64,000 more hours to go...

Have you ever felt like your practice novels were a waste of time? How many hours have you practiced your writing? How many words have you written?

Also, go check out this new blog called "Dear Teen Me." I was lucky enough to be invited to participate, and I can't wait to read all the awesome from authors as they write letters to their teen selves.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Newsflash: Publishing is Subjective

If you've ever been rejected you know this. At least your brain does. The message is much harder to implement, at least in my experience.

But I've been lurking around the Interwebz these past few days, checking out lots of book blogs and/or book review blogs. See, The Story Siren launched her annual debut author challenge, and so my Google alerts have finally become more interesting than what I tweeted last week.

So I've been thinking a lot about what kind of reviews my book might receive--in six months. It seems almost ridiculous to think about this right now, but hey, whoever said I was reasonable?

As this band of tension started to snake its way around my chest, I had a major newsflash.

Publishing is subjective. In fact, anything creative is subjective. You might like a painting I just don't get. You might love a song/artist I think is just noise. You might not even know what Survivor is...well, let's not go there.

But the same goes for books. I love with all my heart and liver The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson and The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.

Maybe you don't.

And that's okay. We can still be friends. It's not personal.

Until it's your book. Or mine.

Which seems totally ghetto, right? We can talk books until we go blue in the face, we can disagree about what we like/don't like, we can go home and think, "We just like different things."

Until it's your book. Or mine.

Which is totally made of lamesauce.

In my head, I know there are going to be people who don't like my book. Who will give it "bad" reviews. In my head, I've told myself that everything will be okay. That publishing is subjective.

That it's not personal.

And so, today, I'm standing up for the non-lamesauceness of the world. Which, I think, would be awesomesauce. And I'm just going to keep repeating: publishing is subjective. (And I hope you like my book. But it's okay if you don't.)

What do you think? Is this harder to live than to believe?

Monday, November 29, 2010

How Do You Know?

Okay, so I am singing the song "How Does She Know?" from Enchanted as I type this blog post. I hope it infects you for the rest of the day, just cuz I'm cruel like that. *mwa ha ha!*

Anyway, being deep in the trenches of editing/revising my next novel, I'm sort of wondering: How do I know when this bad boy is done? How will I know when I should send it to my betas?

I mean, I know they're going to send it back to me without a single mark, praising my every word! *snarf* Riiiight.

So when do *I* stop??

For me, this has always been a gut thing. Plus, if I'm reading my own book (where, supposedly, I know everything and why that one sentence is there and how it's setting up that freakishly cool thing on page 323), and I have to make notes of what's wrong, then, newsflash, it's not ready.


My book still isn't ready.

Now, if you're simply going around and around in circles between the words "slid" and "slithered" then you probably need to put down the red pen and step away. Just sayin'.

So how do you know when you've done all you can do? Gut feeling? Set round of edits? Lay it on me. I'm on round 6, I think.

And the pen is red this time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Write Everyday

Okay, so I'm going to dispel some possibly unpopular advice. You've heard/read out there that you have to write every day to be a "real writer." You should schedule some time every day to write, or you'll never get published. You have to treat it like a job.

I say: rubbish.

Let me explain before you start throwing Diet Coke cans or click that unfollow button.

The best thing I ever did was allow myself to NOT write every day. And let me tell you, I was much happier after I gave myself that very important permission.

I do not write every day (except for this month and NaNo). I have a scheduled time to write, but I often don't use it for actual writing. And if I treated writing like a job, I'd want to quit--or die. It's a toss-up.

The fact is, I have a day job. The last thing I want is to take writing--something I love and create and enjoy and smile about--to turn into a j-o-b. Are there aspects of writing I don't like? Yes. Am I focused on making myself into a career author? Yes.

But I do not think of writing as a job. People can crucify me on that if they want. If I thought about it like that, I would not do it. The end.

Writing is more than a job to me, and I treat it that way instead.

So there. I often only write on the weekends (when not NaNo-ing). So that's 2 days on, 5 days off. I often write whenever I can, regardless of a schedule. And I don't think of writing as a job.

So sue me. I've still written 13 books over a 3-year period (I just finished my WiP LAST NIGHT). I have a real, live book being published next year. If you don't want to call me a writer because I don't stick to a schedule, I don't write every day, and/or I don't treat my writing like a job, go right ahead.

You can call me an author instead. ;-)

What do you think? What have you read/heard that just makes you go, "Well, I don't do that, so I must be wrong/lame/stupid/not good enough."? Discard it. And you can totally tell me if I'm wrong if you want to. I am well-aware of the differences in this world, and what works for me might never work for you. I guess I'm just a little leery of such definitive statements as "You must write every day if you want to be a writer."

Oh, and I'll be gone next week, not blogging, not writing, but you know, LIVING. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

PERILOUS by Tamara Hart Heiner

Today's Bookanista post is pulling double duty--because I'm the next stop on Tamara Hart Heiner's blog tour!

Welcome PERILOUS to the blog.

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:
Perilous follows Jaci & friends on a terrifying journey in2 the lair of a kidnapper. The girls soon find that he'll nevr stp hunting them.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
I’m currently hard at work on the sequel to Perilous, which I wrote a year ago but have to fix it to match the first book. I have another series that I’m querying and currently have a partial out. And then there’s a novel I started in May that I very much want to finish!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I can’t really remember deciding to be a writer. I just wrote. I started trying to write novels when I was 9. Didn’t actually finish one until I was 13.

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
After I finished my first novel, I just figured that was what you did. (I was young.) I didn’t succeed at that time and kind of forgot about my interest in writing for a decade. When I picked up the hobby again years later, I knew publication was my end goal and I wouldn’t be happy until I achieved it. I wanted my book to be read. (Thank goodness money has never been a part of the equation!)

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take? Okay, what exactly is a luxury item? Chapstick. (I'm going to make a questionairre for all future interviews. Seriously, people. Don't you watch TV??)

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know. I lived in Brazil for two years and still prefer Portuguese to English.

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate? Are you kidding? Who on earth would choose bacon? :) (Oh, sure, you think that little smiley is gonna make everything all better?? I suppose I live on Mars or something.)

Also, get your game on to WIN!!
1) There will be two book giveaways. Signed copies of Perilous, of course. All you have to do to get in on that action is make a comment anywhere in the blog tour. This is a Random drawing. Here are the links for all the other fabulousparticipants!

2) There will be a Kindle giveaway. This WON'T be random. Kindles are kind of a big thing, so I'm going to make you work for it. The giveaway will be point based, in other words, whoever has the most points at the end of the blog tour wins the Kindle. The contest will run until Dec. 15, and you can visit this page for full details about how to enter.

And check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today!
Christine Fonseca is amazed by DESIRES OF THE DEAD
Shannon Messenger is awestruck by THE MARBURY LENS and giving away a signed hardcover
Megan Miranda is captivated by MATCHED
Beth Revis is blown away by DEMONGLASS
Lisa and Laura Roecker share a YA review from an actual YA: a "Guestanista Review" on THE REPLACEMENT
Carolina Valdez Miller is spreading picture book love for CHICKEN BUTT!
Bethany Wiggins is stunned by STRANGE ANGELS

Also, I just want you to know my mouse acted all wonky and wouldn't select things. It took me like, half my freaking life to copy and paste all the links to blogs, etc. I wanted to die. See what I do for you guys?? :) And what has frustrated you today? Is your mouse acting nicely? Can it scare mine into submission?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You Can Do This

So it's winter now. When I wake up, it's dark. By 5:00 PM, it's dark. It's freezing cold all the time. I already want spring to come (I'm not what you'd call a winter person.)

I've noticed I've been in a bit of a funk, and that quite a few other people have been as well. Doubts are high. Confidence is low. Winter doesn't help. Neither does pounding out a billion words for NaNo. Or getting rejected up one side and down the other.

Trust me, I've been there. I know how hard it is. I developed a whole motto for these horrible, wallowing times. But this post isn't about that.

No matter what else you read today, I want you to read this: You can do this. Say it to yourself. Maybe out loud (check for loitering co-workers first). Make a sign and hang it on your wall of awesome. Whatever.

Just know that you can do this.

That is all.

How's your confidence right now? Do you need a booster of you're awesome!? I've got the syringes all lined up...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Last 12 Months

Holy brown cows, people. Believe me when I say that I know how lucky I am. I am extremely thankful to look back over the past 12 months and see the road I never thought I'd travel.

A little picture recap for all those of you who are new here, which is about 1400 people.

November 11, 2009: I sign with the most fabulous Michelle Andelman.

February, 24, 2010: My debut novel sells to the amazing editor Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse.

In the ensuing months, I help organize an online writing conference,

edit my novel, change the title, get the cover image,
receive ARCs,
see my book go up for preorder online, make a new author website, a dedicated novel website, and think, sleep, eat, dream marketing ideas with my insane besties (Christine, LiLa, Beth).

November 5, 2010: I receive word that my YA novel will be cross-promoted in the adult catalog at Simon & Schuster. I don't think life can get any better.

I am wrong. Here're some hints...


How about now?

Guess, you know you want to...

It's not just food, people.

One last chance...

November 8, 2010: Possession sells in France. That's right! Michel Lafon (who will also publish Alyson Noel's and Ally Carter's books) will be publishing Possession in French--and the French Canadian market.

Later that day, I cry. And it's the good kind. The thankful kind. The holy-cow-how-did-I-get-so-lucky-and-wow-I'm-overwhelmed kind. And I think I want some of these:

So my message to you today is to be thankful for wherever you are in the process. Just starting. In the middle. Almost there. Wherever. You'll never be in this exact spot again. Enjoy it.

Look back over the last year. How far have you come? Have you been thankful for the journey?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Layers, Critiques, and Winners!

Okay, people, this is a multi-faceted post. Get ready.

First, I wanted to expound a little more on my revision process. It has complete relevance, because it's also how I read critically, and at the end of this post is the Pay It Forward With Partials! winner. So if you don't like how I'm probably going to slash help you, then you can just pretend like you never saw this post...

Okay, so revision layers. When I revise, I do it in steps. Stages. Layers.

1. Little stuff/Senses. This is tweaking the writing, the word choice, the flow, the voice, the style. This is moving one sentence up a bit and taking one out for clarity. This is not rewriting scenes. I make sure I know the weather and how that affects my character. I spice up the writing with smell, taste, and sound, not just sight and touch.

I make notes of where new scenes might go or how the weather might affect emotion or setting for later. I star them, I don't actually write them. The first layer is a clean up layer, basically erasing all the comment bubbles I left for myself in the drafting stage.

2. Character. Okay, I don't know, like really know, my MC until I'm done with the first draft. And sometimes not even then. So I devote an entire layer to developing character. Fleshing them out. Making them consistent in action/choice (unless their arc dictates otherwise). Bringing them to life. This takes way longer than the first layer, but it's one of the best layers, IMO.

I make notes of where new scenes might go, mostly backstory or flashbacks in this layer. (Yes, I said flashbacks. Deal with it.) I star them, I don't actually write them.

3. Emotions. I'm ridiculously flat at emotions. Most of the time, my first draft is emotionless. Going back in to get them right, to insert reactions and feelings, is something I do after I've written the whole book. Then I know my character (and I've done the character layer, so that helps too), and I can accurately portray how they'd be feeling in certain key situations. I'll admit that sometimes while I'm doing my character layer, that I work on the emotional layer too.

I make notes of where new scenes might go, again mostly backstory to set the character's emotional reactions in key scenes. I star them, I don't actually write them.

4. Setting. I'm notoriously bad about describing the setting. My CP's are always like, "I'm so confused here. Is she in the culvert or not?" So I make an entire layer just for setting purposes. Anywhere that someone was confused about where things are/were, etc. I take a deep look at. This goes for blocking too. Where are the doors? Who's in the room? I go through my entire MS just to make sure the setting is well, set. (Ha!)

I make no stars here. I simply write what needs to be written. I mean, I'm almost done, so it would be lame to star and then go fill in the stars. You know?

5. Plot. This is where the bulk of my rewriting comes in. All those stars I've made? Yeah, now something has to be done about them. I have to actually write the new scenes that are needed to fill in the plot holes I've created (or have always had) in my main plot, subplots, character arc, emotional journey, etc.

This is the same way I critique. I'm looking for little things, well-rounded characters, authentic reactions/emotions, just enough setting, and a plot to keep me reading.

I pretty much mark everything I think feels off, or isn't quite as strong as I think it could be in each of the 5 areas above.

So if you don't want me to do that, maybe you'll leave your prize unclaimed...

Because the winner of the 25-page critique is: Josh Hoyt!

Email me your 25 pages at your convenience. (elanajohnson(at)gmail(dot)com)

Do you revise in layers? What are you looking for when you revise?

Oh! And don't forget about the live WriteOnCon event tonight! Literary agent Stephen Barbara and his client, Leila Sales will be discussing amazing things! 9 PM EST. Be there or be there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Inside Elana: Revisions

Okay, we're delving inside Elana again today. It might be messy. Today, I'm letting you see my revision process.

For the sake of clarity, let's establish some vocab.
1. Revision draft = post-first draft, post-beta readers. I usually revise my first draft again (and again and again) myself. Then I send it to my lovelies, who send me all kinds of mean notes as all betas should.

1. I read all my beta's comments, making notes on things that obviously need to be fixed or clarified.

Then I'm ready to really revise. Here's what it looks like:

  • Headphones
  • Pandora
  • Pen in whatever color
  • MS printed out, divided into 3 sections
  • Beta notes on computer screen
  • Notes nearby

Here's what happens:
1. I read my notes and plunge into section 1 of the printed MS, pen in hand. I delete. I reword. I write entire new scenes (by hand). I evaluate word choice. I read out loud for flow. I break up paragraphs. I edit awkward writing. I add/delete details.

2. Pandora blares in the background. Meals may or may not be consumed.

3. When finished with section 1 (usually through the end of Act One), with pages bleeding, I enter all changes into the computer.

4. I save the draft and go watch TV.

5. I repeat this process for section 2 and then section 3.

Note that this does not take only 3 days. More like 30. Or 60. Or forever. Sometimes I can only do a few pages each day because the slashing and rewriting and moving and general smell of holy-crap-I-wrote-this-garbage? is just too much.

But all revisions get done by hand, on paper, and transferred to the computer. Otherwise, I just can't "see" it. You know?

Oh, and then I repeat the entire process again. And again. I am a fast drafter, but that requires a colossal amount of revising. Good thing I don't hate it...

How do you revise your MS?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer

Okay, we're goin' old school for this week's Bookanista feature. You know, report card style.

The student:

The report card:
Cover: A (This may or may not but definitely does have to do with the fact that the cardstock is pearlized, and there may or may not but definitely is another book that will have this gorgeous cardstock on its cover. Take a wild guess which one. Hint: Starts with P and ends with OSSESSION.)

Main Character: A (Calla "Lily" is well-done. I found her unapologetic right when I wanted her to apologize. And I liked that.)

Male MC "Love Interest": A (I only have one name in mind. Ren. All Ren. Yeah, I know, you could make an argument for the other guy, ole whats-his-name, but it would be flimsy and fall apart under my cutting glare. I think it's pretty obvious that Ren was pretty well-written. I was supposed to hate him, but when he howled...)

Plot: A (Yes, this is a werewolf novel. But don't let that hold you back. Even if wolves aren't your thing--and all the girls in my crit group know they're TOTALLY my thing--this is still a fabulously written novel with Stuff That Happens. So read it. You might be surprised.)

What have you read recently that surprised you in a good way? If you've read Nightshade, are you Team Ren??

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today:
Lisa and Laura Roecker and Myra McEntire spreads some love for SELLING HOPE
Christine Fonseca swoons over SIREN
Shelli Johannes-Wells is over the moon about THE ORACLE TO REBOUNDS and her fab giveaway.
Shannon Messenger marvels over MUSEUM OF THEIVES (plus she's having another epic giveaway).
Carolina Valdez Miller is struck by SHIP BREAKER.
Megan Miranda is in love with I AM THE MESSENGER.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dear Self: Social Media

Okay, so with this month being NaNo and all (17,834 words, baby!), I've been giving a lot of thought to the social media in my life. I'm going to give you some things I wish I knew when I first entered this crazy social networking arena.

What I Wish My Past-Self Knew About Social Media:
1. Pick what works for you. Don't try to be everywhere, doing everything. It's impossible, and you'll just end up feeling like a raging loser.

You like blogging. Focus on that. You like Facebook. Do that. You hated twitter, remember? But now you like it, because it's quick, it's painless, it's fun. So don't judge your social media so harshly--or so quickly.

2. Remember that the Internet is a public battlefied. All online posts, tweets, and statuses should pass this question before being posted: "If I Google myself next week, will I be embarrassed by this post/tweet/status update?"

Only proceed if the answer is "No."

3. Be yourself. No one can be you the way you can. You can't imitate someone else and expect results. And BTW and FYI, most people can sniff a fake out of a garbage dump. So yeah.

4. Along with acting authentically, be genuine. Bambi's advice really applies here. If you can't say something nice, maybe you shouldn't say it. (See #2 above.) Of course, things are different for those in your Inner Sanctum of Trust. And everyone knows that IST's only communicate behind the scenes.

5. Respond/Repay/Interact as much as possible for you, your life, your schedule, your family, your writing time, etc. Everybody loves email as much as you do. Everyone wants a comment on their post. Everyone (even adults, heck, ESPECIALLY adults) wants to know they're valuable, appreciated, loved.

Do what you can. Hope that who you miss, someone else will pick up.

These are my big five. What do you have to add re: Social Media? Do you have rules for yourself? What are they?

And, oh my flippin' heck! You can preorder POSSESSION now! It came up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble yesterday. Trust me when I say I freaked out, complete with tears and everything. I just felt deeply how truly lucky/blessed I am.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Inside Elana: Writing

Okay, so I've decided to dedicate a few posts in the near future to, well, me. But not really me. But I'm going to let you inside my writing cave so you can see how I write, revise, edit, blog, whatever.

Now, every person's process is different. What works for me will most likely not work for you (I mean, seriously. What I do should only be attempted by professional stunt men). But I think maybe you'll see something I do that you might want to try, or that you do too. Or maybe not. I guess we'll see! (Or maybe you'll just realize that I'm not that special--flawed even--and that if I can write and publish a book, then you can too!)

Up today: Writing.

And by writing, I mean the first draft. The first time you put words on the page. What you need to know about me before we start:
1. I type about 90 - 110 words per minute. (Don't be a hater.)
2. I never turn off my internal editor. (Ever.)

So with those disclaimers out of the way, I'll let you in on how fresh words go down at my house.

Sometimes I have a scene in my head. If so, this is how the writing goes:
1. I open the WiP. I begin typing the scene at the end of the WiP document. Order matters not.

2. I put little brackety things (yes, technical term) before the misplaced scene like: [GUNN AND RAINE FLYING, THURSDAY NIGHT] and at the end like: [END OF CHAPTER? MAYBE ANOTHER SCENE, CHECK CH. LENGTH]. These brackety things get highlighted in yellow. (I will admit that I generally only write out of order for the first 80 - 100 pages. After that, everything is sewn together and I can write linearly to the end. Sometimes. Right now? Not so much.)

3. I write myself some notes for what might come next or before. These are long and rambling and full of ??? and capital letters. Notes get highlighted also, usually in blue.

4. I read over the new words I've just written, allowing the Internal Editor to have her way with them.

5. I save the WiP and go watch TV. If I have a scene in my head, I can crank out about 2000 words in an hour.

Seriously. That's how I do it.

If I don't have a scene in my head, writing goes something like this:
1. I open the WiP. I go back about 15 pages and read. I edit as mercilessly as possible as I go. Sometimes I add words to clarify. I delete. I evaluate word choice. I add/remove details. I let the Internal Editor do whatever she wants.

2. I read the notes I left for myself last time.

3. I pick up the story from where I left off, carefully stitching together the scenes I wrote out of order with neat sutures into the story where they belong. I write myself notes for next time.

4. I read over the new words I've just written, allowing the Internal Editor to have her way with them.

5. I save the WiP and go watch TV.

Ta-da! I embrace my eclectic, out-of-order, messy, note-filled writing style with gusto. Entire drafts have been composed in less than 3 weeks.

How do you write?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pay It Forward with Partials!

Okay, today is the day you've been waiting your entire life for. Don't think so? Trust me, it is.

Because today, I, along with 4 fantastically amazing writers are doing a Pay It Forward with Partials event! In order to get your partial upgraded to a full, you need to have those first chapters sharp and strong. And we want to help you do that. So today, you could win one of 5 25-page critiques!

Meet the critiquers:

Lisa & Laura Roecker: Ever since Lisa and Laura were born, they've wanted to be conjoined twins, you know, like that Matt Damon movie. So they decided to do it virtually. Thus, LiLa was born, and the sisters actually got surgically joined at the hip in 2009. For realz. What? You think they're two different people? I beg to differ. And with a killer debut called THE LIAR SOCIETY, I think we all know who's right. (Me.)

Shannon Messenger: After her morning hang gliding routine (she launches from the double-Os on the Hollywood sign), Shannon spends her time memorizing all things Harry Potter, deep sea fishing, and inventing new hashtags for Twitter. #truefact But she's looking for a SUB for that so she can be freed up to zip through her next novel. All interested in the position can inquire at her blog.

Sarah Wylie: Born to Brownies (the creature, not the delicious snack cake), Sarah grew up in the wild. Because of this, she has a special place in her heart for Mowgli, living in tree houses, and only using three squares of toilet paper each day. She secretly wishes she could star in "Days of our Lives" (I mean, who doesn't?), the long-running soap opera on NBC. Instead, she wrote an amazing YA novel, ALL THESE LIVES, due out in the Spring of 2012.

P.J. Hoover: Native of "the land down under," P.J. enjoys all things vegemite, surfing, and pink (of course). She cornered the market on telekinesis, and regularly reads people's minds to find out what they're having for dinner. You might check out THE EMERALD TABLET, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, and THE NECROPOLIS if you don't believe me.

Elana Johnson: Lover of octopus, mushrooms, and dieting, Elana lives in the isles of the Caribbean, where she sleeps in late, enjoys the undulation of crystalline water, and writes young adult novels perfectly the first time. Her greatest POSSESSION is the fancy home office where she crafts her masterpieces.

In order to win a 25-page critique from me, you have to leave a comment on this post AND be a follower. To win from one of the other lovelies, visit their blogs (linked above) and follow their instructions. All winners will be announced on Monday, November 15--the same day as our next WriteOnCon event!

And seriously, don't you think LiLa is one person? Wouldn't you like to be able to read minds? Have you ever been hang gliding? Lived in the wild? Eaten octopus?

See Elana's recent blog posts

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