Thursday, March 31, 2011

MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert

This week is the epic launch of MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert, which comes out tomorrow! From Angie's website:

Summary: Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened.

However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.

Fascinating, yes? YES. I mean, pop a pill and forget? To help Angie celebrate MEMENTO NORA, I'm going to spill a memory I never want to forget.

Mine feels small, but it's important to me. It's sort of what launched me into my critique group, and how I squirm my way into many conversations--and thus, friendships--on twitter or wherever.

It's called eavesdropping.

That's right. I met my critique partners by eavesdropping on two fabulous girls in the lunch line of my very first writer's conference. I'd been "a writer" for approximately three months, and I attended the conference alone.

The girls were talking about doing a YA group, and I stood up straighter and listened harder. Then I just inserted myself right into that convo, got their information, and the rest is history.

I don't ever want to forget that sometimes, all it takes to get/do/become something amazing is to speak up.

What memory would you never want to forget?

You can enter to win a nice prize pack o' stuff, including a signed copy of Memento Nora, a purse charm bracelet, temporary tattoos, and other swag.

How? Simple. Each week, leave a comment on the featured blog--that's THIS POST. And over on Angie's site. Each weekly comment earns you a point (which in this case equals an entry in the random drawing). In other words, if you comment on every week, you get 8 points... er, entries. Angie will randomly select a winner and announce it April 7.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm Sick

I seriously can't even see straight. I'll spare you all the details, but I just wanted you to know that I'm taking a few days off blogging. Mostly because I can't think past the raging fever and rampant headache.

I'll be back on Thursday and Friday this week! Hope you have a good one!

And don't forget about our WriteOnCon live event today with literary agents Jim McCarthy and Michael Bourret. I may or may not be there, depending on dizziness level.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Power In Us All

With every action and with every spoken word and with every blog post/comment and with every Goodreads review and and with every tweet and with every Facebook status:

You have the power to hurt or heal.
You have the power to fix or fumble.
You have the power to advocate or attack.
You have the power to discourage or encourage.
You have the power to deliver or to deny.

What will you do with that kind of power?

(This hangs in my classroom. It was given to me by my principal and inspires me daily in all aspects of my life.)

And hey! Today is the last day to ask a question (for my trip to NYC) on Theresa's blog.

And I was interviewed as part of the Cornucopia of Dystopia on Jenny's Supernatural Snark blog today. (You wanna go over there. I may or may not be wearing a special T-shirt...)

AND today is the last day to post about your greatest POSSESSION on the Facebook fanpage. Winner announced later today.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

He Can't Handle the Truth!

Okay, so I'm terrified of today's post, but I asked for it. Give a warm welcome to Mr. J aka, my husband. I'd give you a whole bio complete with picture, but well, I don't really have one. He teaches sixth grade, and he puts up with me. That should be all the bio you need. Ha!

And he's tackling protags in YA fiction... so *gulp* here we go.


It’s not that I don’t like teen fiction; it’s just that it scares me. Or, to be more specific, the protagonists scare me. Now I don’t mean to offend anyone here. I’m truly curious to know if my point of view is inaccurate in some way. Elana and I have argued this point many times (true) and I think I’ve finally convinced her I’m right. At least that’s what I tell myself in order to successfully fall asleep at night. (Ha!)

Why don’t I like the protagonists? Simply put, I don’t want my daughter, or the girls I teach, turning out like many of the female protags I see in teen novels. This point of view stems back to my first and only reading of Twilight. (For the record, I liked Twilight, and this is in no way a free pass for anyone to bash Twilight.) I was surprised that so many people loved a book whose main character is a young girl basing her entire self worth on the attention of a dude.

My concern is that many teen novels are filled with examples of unhappy or unfulfilled adolescent girls who are waiting for some pubescent boy to come along and make them feel good about themselves. Really? That’s not the woman I married or the kind of girl I’d like my son to fall in love with. My Elana is tough. She’s strong. She’s beautiful and quite frankly magnificent! Our lives twist and turn together as we support each other and try to build each other up. I hope to be a compliment to her. But never do I think I made her. I just try to keep up!

I want my daughter and my young students to read about girls and women like that! I want my boys to want to be around females like that! Is that so wrong?

Of course, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are some YA novels filled with examples of strong teenage girls. Perhaps all of Elana’s loyal readers (thank ye) can help me understand if this is my problem or an actual issue with the genre. Point out the error of my ways. I CAN handle the truth!


So...can he handle the truth?? Are YA novels somewhat centered on girls looking for validation? Someone to love them? Can they love themselves without being reassured by a boy? Lots of things here, people. Discuss (nicely).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Waiting For The End

Dude, there is nothing I like better than writing and editing to music. If I hear the perfect song, I can listen to that sucker on repeat for hours. Just ask my kids.

For editing my last project, my song was "The Herald Song" by Ke$ha. It's not one of her more-known, you know, techno thingies, but it's full of angst. And so was my project, so it was perfect.

For this new project I'm starting, my new fave is "Waiting for the End" by Linkin Park. The angst?

Through the roof.

Here's the proof:

We say Yeah!
With fists flying up in the air
Like we're holding onto something
That's invisible there,
(I love this image of holding on to something invisible, unable to let go)
'Cause we're living at the mercy of
The pain and the fear
(oh, the angst)

I know what it takes to move on,
(do you??)
I know how it feels to lie,
(powerful feeling)
All I wanna do
Is trade this life for something new
Holding on to what I haven't got
(chillz. I haz them.)

What was left when that fire was gone?
I thought it felt right but that right was wrong
(who hasn't felt this? Every runner-up on The Bachelor, that's for sure.)
All caught up in the eye of the storm
And trying to figure out what it's like moving on
(and here's the real angst)
And I don't even know what kind of things I've said
My mouth kept moving and my mind went dead
So, picking up the pieces, now where to begin?
The hardest part of ending is starting again.

And dude, that's it. That's life. Relationships. Writing. Starting a new job. Everything.

The hardest part of ending is starting again.

Every time I hear this song, I can't help but think of my MC and the terrible things I'm about to do to them. The lyrics, the music, everything, just fits. It's "the one." Chill-worthy.

Have you ever just heard a song and gotten chills? Like, "This. THIS is it!"What song is it? What is it about that song makes it so perfect for your project?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Adverbs Don't Bother Me

Okay, okay, I'm not trying to start a fight. There are literally an endless supply of resources for writers. Books. Blogs. Chats. More books. Internet sites. Conferences. If you want to become a better writer, there are resources to help you with that.

Today, I'm going to stand up proudly for the adverb. It's not this dangerous disesase-carrying cat-zombie that sometimes it's made out to be. I mean, seriously.

Do I think sometimes adverbs could be replaced with a better verb? Yes.
Do I think sometimes the emotion should be shown instead of adverbed out? Yes.
Do I think sometimes an adverb is like a well-seasoned bite of pot roast? YES.

Adverbs are not monsters. They don't have to be avoided at all costs. You don't necessarily need to comb your entire 80-thousand-word manuscript and eliminate each and every one.

I think sometimes we freak out over things that are not freak-out-worthy. So I declare today pro-adverb day! Everything I write, I'm going to write frilly and fancy and lovely, and I'm going to do it happily, grumpily, disgustedly, quickly, slowly, and amazingly.

Will you join me? Do adverbs get a bad rap? What other "writing rules" have you read/heard/learned that sometimes just annoy you?

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Want To Be Like Christine Fonseca

Okay, so major big stuff today. First off, I want to spotlight Christine Fonseca as part of my #IWantToBeLike week.

See, she's a great person. More than great. Phenomenal. She writes young adult fiction and I've read almost all of it. She is a master of emotions. Fantastic at setting. An artist of character development. She's one to watch, my friends. She will be hitting the fiction debut shelf sooner rather than later.

In the non-fiction world, she's already a giant. Her first book, EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS hit the shelves last October. It's brilliant and powerful and everything you need if you've ever even seen a child.

And her next one? Due out May 1. Or so she thought. It's actually being shipped and released NOW!

101 SUCCESS SECRETS FOR GIFTED KIDS will rock your world. Order your copy today--and I'm willing to bet you'll get it BEFORE it's released!

So yeah. I want to be like Christine Fonseca.


  • The chance to win a piece of Possession-inspired jewelry is rapidly closing. Only one more week! Just go to the Facebook fanpage and write on the discussions wall about your greatest POSSESSION.
  • Hastings is hosting a Dystopian Prize Package! You can find the details on my brand spankin' new Contests & Giveaway page, and you can win one of ten prize packages. Each package has 12 amazing dystopian novels--including POSSESSION! (Look on the far right side for the cover! *squee!*)
  • Jon Arntson and Theresa Milstein are participating in a pre-launch POSSESSION tour happening in the month of May. There will be ten tour stops, and I'm working with each one to offer 100% completely unique content. That's where you come in. Both Jon and Theresa are letting you ask me a question!

    Three questions. Two blogs. One Elana.

    Go to Jon's blog to enter your question. He'll be choosing two.
    Go to Theresa's blog to enter your question. She'll be choosing one.

    Answers will be filmed in NEW YORK CITY, where I will be going in just 22 days!

Whew. I think I made it through everything. Wait. Just kidding!

Do you know about the Cornucopia of Dystopia event going on over at A Tapestry of Words and The Bookish Type? No?

Well. Dude, you need to know! From March 21 (that's Monday) to April 18, there will be a plethora (yes, I just used the word plethora) of dystopian deliciousness for some 2011 dystopian releases--including XVI by Leaguer Julia Karr, Memento Nora by Leaguer Angie Smibert, and Possession by Leaguer Elana Johnson! (Yeah, okay, that's me.)

So click on this button, and be sure to check out the complete line up of events!

Go check out my whole post at The League of Extraordinary Writers for more information.

Did I overload you? That was like four posts worth of information. Sorry!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard

In Like Mandarin, 14-year-old Grace Carpenter would give anything to be like Mandarin Ramey. Mandarin is seventeen, self-assured, irreverent and mysterious; the notorious wild girl of their small Wyoming town.

From Grace: Sure, maybe most of the attention Mandarin got was negative. But it wasn't the kind of disdainful brainfreak attention I got, when I got any at all. Hers was lust. And jealousy. Because even as they condemned her, every single girl wanted to be her.

But nobody more than me.

I want to be beautiful like you, I thought, as if Mandarin were listening.

I want apricot skin and Pocahontas hair and eyes the color of tea. I want to be confident and detached and effortlessly sensual, and if promiscuity is part of the package, I will gladly follow your lead. All I know is I'm so tired of being inside my body.

I would give anything to be like Mandarin.

Grace's fascination with Mandarin borders on obsession. When they're paired together for a project, their explosive friendship rocks Grace's world – which makes Mandarin's betrayal even more devastating.

Okay, I loved this book. There is something strong and sad in the writing. Something powerful and real in the relationships. Something amazing.

And it got me thinking: Was there somebody I would have given anything to be like when I was a teenager?

I had to think hard (and you all know how I feel about that). And I finally came to the conclusion that me, in my insane self-confidence, was fine with who I was. I didn't feel this great need to be someone else, fit in with another crowd, or anything like that.

It's only been later in my life that I've felt this "I wish I could be like her." Or "Wow, my life is so far from hers! What would it be like...?"

And this, of course, leads to dangerous ground. Which is why LIKE MANDARIN will resonate with teenagers and adults alike. We can journey with Grace as she walks the treacherous path; we can examine our own lives and find our solid ground; we can realize the beauty of ourselves.

And that's why LIKE MANDARIN is fabulous.

So what about you? Was there someone you would have given anything to be like when you were a teenager? What about now? Why did/do you want to be like this person?

Let me know, and you could win LIKE MANDARIN! Kirsten has her blog tour going right now, and at the end, she'll be drawing winners for LM. Find out more here.

Anyone who leaves a comment here on this post, will be entered to win a super-sweet LIKE MANDARIN swag pack (signed bookmarks + magnets + postcard). And you're tweeting your posts, right? Or your #IWantToBeLike stuff? Because LiLa Roecker and I are giving away two copies of Like Mandarin from that feed--this Saturday!

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Would Have Given Anything To Be Like...

Okay, well, there's no way I can beat LiLa's post from yesterday. I'm not even going to try. But today is the NON-blogfest! I hope to see a lot of "I Would Have Given Anything To Be Like..." posts out there today!

It's not too late to participate, AND you don't have to read LIKE MANDARIN to know what's going on. (But you should order it and read it, because it's fantastic.) You can click over to Kirsten Hubbard's blog to find out more, but basically, she's asking who you would have given anything to be like when you were a teenager.

You know me, I rarely follow rules. So instead of focusing on teen-Elana (cuz that's SCARY), I'm going to go for Elana-as-she-is-now.

I would give anything to be like Matthew Rush. He is funny and helpful and all around fantastic. He helps other people. He lets them learn from his mistakes. And he always emails me back.

I would give anything to be like Candace Ganger. She faces life with more backbone than anyone else I know. She isn't afraid to breathe, and breathe deep. She lets us in. She is powerful to me.

I would give anything to be like Shannon O'Donnell. She has more enthusiasm than anyone I know. She teaches and parents and laughs and just is the epitome of "comfort" for me.

I would give anything to be like Ally Condie. She is a brilliant writer, and so, so sophisticated. The kind of sophistication I can only dream about. And eloquent. She'd never use the word "dude." (#crap) But she's super-nice to me when I do.

I would give anything to be like L.T. Elliot. She simply "gets" me, and doesn't try to make me be anyone other than who I already am. She is strong. She is funny. She is who I want to be when I grow up.

Lastly, I would give anything to be like my husband. He never gets bugged by stuff. He is a great teacher. He is caring, and kind, and patient, and he puts up with me. (He's also going to make his blogging debut next week! Get excited.) He is slow when I'm fast, right when I'm wrong, strong when I'm weak.

I hope you've been tweeting with the #IWantToBeLike hashtag! You can win a copy of LIKE MANDARIN this Saturday. And dude, your post on who you would give anything to be like, is like, the perfect twitter fodder.

Who do you admire right now in your life?

And the winner of the super shiny, tasty, luscious MANDARIN glaze lip gloss is: C.K. Bryant! Congrats, Christine! Email me, okay? Okay.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wyoming, Wherefore Art Thou, Wyoming?

Okay, so I'm not the best example of camping or anything, but there's something about wide open spaces that appeals to me. I love feeling the vastness of the universe, like the weight of the air could smother me, press me into the earth.

Thus, when I read LIKE MANDARIN, I fell in love with the setting: the badlands of Wyoming. It's not your typical setting, but it is gorgeous--and it becomes a character all it's own. I've driven through Wyoming, and it is breathtaking in it's own way.

Let me illustrate:

The badlands

LOVE this barn!

Okay, this makes me like winter a little more.

This is the road to anywhere.

Okay, so I like cowboys. Sue me.

And be sure to read Kirsten's post on The Serendipity of Setting. It's beyond awesome.

Where do you love to visit? If you could go anywhere, where would it be?

Leave a comment with you answer and you could win this:
That's right! MANDARIN lip gloss for those blistery Wyoming winds. I just want you to know the label says "super shiny tasty lip gloss." That's a selling point right there.

Oh! And I've been tagged on Christine's blog. So go check that action out.

Monday, March 14, 2011


In pictures, because they say so much more than words. And hello? Reason #1 is because of how freaking photogenic Kirsten is.

Not just because she's holding my book. Seriously.
With her book, LIKE MANDARIN, and her Delacorte people!
Uh, hello? Beautiful.

And her book LIKE MANDARIN has:
Can you feel the hugeness of the universe?

I love barns. There's something magical about them.


Need I say more?

So you should start stalking her now. She's awesome.
Enter to win LIKE MANDARIN
YA Highway
The Contemps

And dude! Lisa and Laura and I have joined forces to bring you some amazing LIKE MANDARIN events this week.

1. NON-blogfest on Wednesday, March 16. You can blog about who you would have given anything to be like when you were a teenager. Use this graphic, and make sure you participate in Kirsten's "I Would Have Given Anything To Be Like..." blog tour. You could win a LIKE MANDARIN swag pack and/or a signed copy of the book.

If you participate in the NON-blogfest (there will be no Linky! This is not a blog-fest! However, if you email me your link, I will tweet it. Better yet, tweet it yourself--see #2 below), you'll be entered for a copy of the book as per Kirsten's guidelines.


2. Twitter. Use the hashtag #IWantToBeLike any time this week, and you could win one of two copies of LIKE MANDARIN. LiLa and I will both draw one winner on Saturday, March 19 from the #IWantToBeLike feed for a copy of this amazing book.

3. Stay tuned on my blog--as well as Lisa and Laura's--this week for other fun LIKE MANDARIN giveaways!

If you can't participate, and even if you can, who would you have given anything to be like?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tips For Becoming A Better Writer

This is what I told the junior high schoolers I talked to this week. Okay, the last one I meant to tell them, and I forgot. Sue me.

To Become A Better Writer:
1. Entertain yourself. I think it's really important to read a lot of books in the genre you want to write in, and watch a lot of movies.

By reading, you know what's current in the market, you know what's been done and what others are doing, you can learn how a story comes to life with words.

By watching movies, you can see the way a story unfolds in only a couple of hours. You usually can't do that, or identify the points of a story, as easily while reading. But with movies? You totally can.

So entertain yourself.

2. Write a lot. And allow yourself to write badly. I think you get better and better at craft, at storytelling, at becoming the kind of author you want to be, by writing. A lot. And what you love.

3. Somehow, over the next few years (the kids were in eighth grade), you have to develop an insane amount of self-confidence. Because most of us receive an insane number of rejections. In fact, I've come to realize that every single author out there has a story. And usually a really, really good one that always ends in the same way: Never give up.

4. Be patient. Publishing takes a really long time.

(And that's where I stopped with the writing clubbers.)

But since then, I wish to add:
5. Write in a journal. How I wish I had my teenage impressions, thoughts, and feelings. Talk about a gold mine of emotional info for a YA novel!

What are your tips for becoming a better writer?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins

All righty, people. This week's recommendation is DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins, and it's an important one because...

1. I don't normally like sequels/series. I know, I know, some of you are dumbfounded. See, I like new characters and new worlds, and it takes a lot to convince me to spend some of my valuable reading time on characters I already know and love.

But DEMONGLASS? Dude, it's what every sequel should aspire to be. It's a novel all it's own. It has a real story. Not what I call a "bridge story" = one that gets me from what started in book 1 to the end in book 3.

And I liked that. I liked that I didn't have to remember a whole bunch of stuff from the first book (HEX HALL--well worth your valuable reading time) in order to understand what was going on in DEMONGLASS. I liked that the story grew and changed and expanded into something promising for book 3.

2. It's funny. And holy Jerry Seinfeld, people. Funny is HARD. I've tried to write funny. I can't. It takes a real witty writing bone I just don't have. So while DEMONGLASS is funny, it's also emotional and angsty. The combination of the two is a real win for me, because that's how my life it.

Rollercoaster of angst + joy + laughter + loss + happiness + smiling + grief + crying + elation = Elana's life.

And that's mirrored in DEMONGLASS, so I really felt a connection to the main character, Sophie.

I'm glad I spent some time with a sequel. If you've read HEX HALL, you should definitely make sure to get DEMONGLASS. And if you haven't read either? Dude, fix that. They're both fantastic.

How do you feel about sequels? Read any you've really loved lately?

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Power of Blogger

Okay, so my water heater went out on Friday. Again. Seriously. AGAIN.

I didn't shower on Friday, and I'm pretty cranky when I don't get to stand in hot water for hours on a Saturday.

And, dude, water heaters are not cheap. So I wasn't real happy about replacing ours. AGAIN.

I keep saying again. See, we'd just replaced our water heater a year or two ago. I spent a couple of hours on Friday morning (before work, sans shower) trying to find the invoice or duplicate check.

Of course I couldn't. Small pieces of paper and I are not friends. They hate me. I hate them.

Anyway, I knew it'd only been a couple of years, and I knew it had been cold (because when you're standing in your garage shivering, praying hoping pleading the pilot light will stay on, you remember).

But I couldn't find the small pieces of paper.

So what did I do?

I remembered I'd blogged about it. And I went to blogger, and I looked up the post. And I can tell you that I replaced my water heater on March 27, 2009.

And again on March 5, 2011.

Who needs money anyway? Or hot water for that matter? As long as you have blogger, you're good.

Have you ever used blogger for something, uh, unconventional?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Writing & Illustrating For Young Readers (and other cool stuff)

The Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference is back for another incredible year! Spearheaded by author Carol Lynch Williams, the conference aims to “lift” the craft of writers nationwide by providing a forum for interaction between industry professionals and published and/or aspiring writers. The 2011 year will feature a bevy of workshops with nationally best-selling authors and illustrators, afternoon sessions with publishing professionals, the opportunity to interact with agents and editors, writing contests, and much more.

Registration is now open for the 2011 conference; however, morning workshops are filling quickly. Novel classes with publishing luminaries such as Martine Leavitt and Holly Black have already sold out. The faculty roster also includes nationally-renowned Kathleen Duey, A.E. Cannon, illustrator Kevin Hawkes, and Claudia Mills, among others.

If you live anywhere near Salt Lake City, or can get into Salt Lake City, this is one of the best conferences ever! And hey, we could meet and do lunch!

Find out more at the WIFYR facebook page, their twitter, or their YouTube channel. And stay tuned for some crazy-exciting stuff from none other than one of my all-time favorite authors, Kathleen Duey! *tiny squee*

Other Cool Stuff: Stasia Ward Kehoe's AUDITION cover was released last week. All I can say is "Yum." Stasia is an amazing person, and she's doing some fun things on her blog. Check out what her "Year of Auditions" is all about.

Happy book birthday to LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard! You guys, you'd love this book. I'm not going to give away too much, but make sure you check in every day next week for some amazing amazingness that's all related to LIKE MANDARIN!

What kind of cool stuff do you have going on around you?
Do share.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The World of Possession

Okay, so today is March 7. It's the three-month mark until Possession comes out on June 7.

In honor of that, I'm going to be doing a monthly contest: One that launches on March 7th (that's today), one on April 7th, and one on May 6th.

All three contests will be run through the Possession Facebook fanpage. So you can comment here--and you know I love your comments--but if you want to enter and win, you have to do it on the FB fanpage.

Here's what we're doing this month: Your greatest POSSESSION.

In the dystopian society of Possession, everything is mandated by someone else. Someone smarter than you. A Thinker. What classes you take. What you wear. Who you get to hang out with. With that in mind, this contest is going to focus on one particular banned item.

From Possession, where Vi (the female MC) describes something Jag (the male MC) is wearing:

He wore a necklace. Jewelry is against the rules in the Goodgrounds.

But here was a boy. Wearing jewelry. The necklace didn’t hang down onto his chest, but barely encircled his throat. It looked like it choked him—almost. The white rocks were shaped like cylinders with different colored jewels alternating between them. Red, blue, purple, and orange. The gems sparkled even though there was no light source in the shelter. Almost like an internal light radiated from them.

And for this oh-my-heck-there's-only-three-months-until-Possession-comes-out contest you can win one of Jag's chokers!

This is not my sexy neck. But yowsa! That is a sexy necklace.

To enter:
1. Go to the Possession Facebook fanpage. Like it.
2. On the FB fanpage DISCUSSION tab, join the discussion and tell us your greatest possession.
3. Do this by Friday, March 25.
4. A winner will be drawn for this fabulous against-the-rules necklace and announced on the Facebook fanpage wall on Monday, March 28.

You can tweet or blog or facebook about the contest, but I'm not doing extra entries. Yeah, I am just that lazy (and not that smart).

Can you imagine living in a world where you can't even wear jewelry?

Also, get thee over to the WriteOnCon site! Major announcement today! MAY-JOR.

And winners! These five people have won signed copies of THE LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa and Laura Roecker. Please email me (elanajohnson(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address.)
1. Tere Kirkland
2. Gabrielle at Biased Book Reviews
3. Jennie Englund
4. Aik at The Bookaholics
5. Peggy Eddleman

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Social Networking Rules

I suppose that title could be interpreted in two different ways. I'll leave it up to the reader to determine. Ha!

Recently I've been attending conferences, and I have a few more sprinkled throughout the spring/early summer months. I also participate in the WriteOnCon monthly chats. I see a question come up all the time: What social networking sites should I be on? Will you take on clients who don't have a blog/who don't tweet?

I sat on a marketing and publicity panel at one of the conferences. I've been stewing over my social networking efforts and I've realized that I have rules for myself. I'm going to pass them along in the hopes that it will help someone who has questions about social networking.

Agents and editors WILL take you on if you don't A) blog B) tweet or C) Facebook. They may ask you to do something, but they're looking for great stories, not the best blog on the planet. (Though, in my personal opinion, I think having a good blog/website is beneficial. It won't secure an agent or a book deal--only good writing/storytelling can do that--but I think it's beneficial on the marketing/publicity side of publishing.)

Self-promotion. It's like a beast with fifteen heads, and when you chop one off, two more grow back. My policy? If I say something on my blog/Facebook/twitter about POSSESSION, I have to talk about/promote another book and/or another author before I can say anything else about my book.

I cannot take credit for this. I stole this policy from Lisa and Laura Roecker, who are fexcellent marketers. (See what I did there? Ha!)

Twitter. Everyone likes to say stuff about themselves. Humans are pretty self-centered. To avoid what I believe is a pitfall on Twitter about talking about ourselves/our books too much, I've adopted a tweeting policy. When someone does something amazing for me, I tweet about how amazing they are.

If I say something about what's going on in my life, I have to scroll through my twitter feed and @-message three other people who've said something about theirs. This creates a new conversation between me and them, and only takes me a few minutes. Then I don't feel like I'm hogging the twitter feed.

These are not the be-all, end-all rules of social networking. In fact, they're only "rules" in Elana-land. But I think it gets very tiresome to read someone's blog where ALL they do is promote their book. Same with the twitter feed. I mean, how many of you had no idea I have a book coming out?

So yeah. Some social networking rules that hopefully make self-promotion non-annoying.

What do you think? What annoys you re: social networking? What do you wish more authors would do? What do you wish they'd STOP doing? Lay it on me.

Self-promotion is such a fine line, sometimes I think it's hard for authors to know which side they're on.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

CLARITY by Kim Harrington

Dude, you guys, did you know I love a spicy main character? Someone with flair and attitude and smarts? Someone who's not afraid of who she is, but also terrified of letting other people know who she is?

If you didn't know that, now you do. Also, I found all these amazing qualities in an unforgettable character, Clare Fern from Kim Harrington's CLARITY.

So if you like a spicy MC, with a hard edge but a soft side, you'll love CLARITY.

Did you also know that I have a special place in my heart for the paranormal? You know like reading minds and controlling fire and hey, seeing visions?

Well, now you do. And this extra dash of paranormal specialness is prevalent in CLARITY. Clare can see secrets when she touches objects. It's a gift. And a curse. But mostly Clare uses it to help her solve a murder.

And holy smoking guns, Batman! Who doesn't love a good paranormal, spicy-character, murder mystery??

Um, CLARITY has all that and more. Great writing. A fast pace. A tight plot. Get it, read it, love it. You won't be disappointed.

What do you love in characters and/or books?

Join The Bookanista Book Club at The Reading Room where you can check out all the books we're buzzing about!

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Stubborn or Stupid?

Okay, so today, I invited Gretchen McNeil to take over the blog. I wanted to post on perseverance, but you've all heard (and are bored by) my story. So welcome Gretchen!


I'm Irish, so this question comes up frequently. In my personal life ("But mom, a street magician can totally make a decent living!"), in my choice of careers ("Okay, so I'm making the move from opera singer to circus clown. Awesome, right?") my existence has been a series of questionable choices.

Writing was really just par for the course.

(Both of those quotes were from real conversations I had with my mom, by the way. Bless her.)

Stubborn or stupid. When you write your first novel, there's an element of each that comes into play. I was stupid because I literally had no idea what I was getting into - both in terms of the actual technique of writing and the business of getting published. I was stubborn because in the face of insurmountable odds, I kept at it.

I wrote a novel. My first. And let me be frank: it sucked donkey balls. No joke. I pull it out sometimes just to remind myself how far I've come. I queried 137 agents with that manuscript and surprise, surprise - no takers. SHOCKING.

On the upside, I learned how to write. It's a craft (as much as I loathe myself for saying that) and you have to learn not only the tricks and pitfalls of the trade, but how you as an individual writer work. I learned how to write, and when I finished my next manuscript, I believed I had something special on my hands.

So did some other people. I had four offers of representation within two weeks.

Cue Beethoven's 9th Symphony complete with fireworks. I've arrived! This is it! I'm going to sell this book at auction and two years from now I'll be accepting the Oscar for the screenplay I adapted FROM MY OWN NOVEL!!!!

No joke, I half composed the acceptance speech in my head.

But things don't always happen the way we think they will. That manuscript didn't sell. It languished in submission land with a few close calls and a lot of passes.

Cue Chopin's Funeral March and crack open a bottle of wine, por favor.

It was a tough time. On the one hand I had an agent who really believed in me. On the other, I was convinced I'd never have a good idea again and would never be able to finish another manuscript and OH MY GOD WHY DON'T I JUST GIVE UP NOW AND SAVE MYSELF THE MISERY!

My inner monologues are so dramatic sometimes.

Stubborn or stupid. I refused to give up. Through fits and starts I wrote another manuscript. Better. Faster. Stronger. I loved it. My agent loved it.

An editor loved it.

POSSESS was born from a tough time. I had gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and was half-convinced I'd never write anything ever again. But I'm stubborn. And a little bit stupid. I absolutely refused to give up, and trust me, if POSSESS hadn't sold I'd have been looking at some major life reevaluation. But because I refused to give up, here I am with a book coming out in just a few months. It wasn't the book I thought I'd publish first, but I'm still here.

Stubborn and stupid. And loving every minute.

Gretchen McNeil writes. YA mostly and she's repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown. Her debut YA novel POSSESS will be published by Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins, August 23, 2011. She's a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She's a founding member of vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as "Monday" and an active member of The Enchanted Inkpot, a group blog of YA and middle grade fantasy writers.


I won't lie, I'm sort of a fangirl for Gretchen. Be sure to follow her blog!

And are you stubborn or stupid? Wait. Don't answer that... Or do...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Warning: I Am A Random Hugger

If there's one thing I've learned about myself over the past two weeks, it's that I'm a random hugger. When I'm in a group of people, it's the natural thing to do. When someone comes up to me and says something nice, I get all grateful inside. And what better way to say "Thank you" than hugging?

Um, there isn't a better way. Just sayin'.

So I thought I'd throw this warning out there. I know some of you have moved "Meet Elana" to the bottom of your list now.

I also wanted to give you a couple of highlights from the ANWA conference I just attended. I'm not really sure they're highlights, but maybe some facts and some tips? Yeah, sure, let's go with that.

1. Think before you speak. Not only did I make a fool of myself several times, I'm still thinking of the lame things I said.

2. Agents, editors, and authors are all people. True fact.

3. Barnes & Noble is "drastically changing" how they do business. I sat in on a class by one of their community relations managers and it was fascinating.

4. Writing dialog is really hard.

5. We should be writing what we love, no matter what the current trend is.

6. Common mistake children's authors make: trying to preach/teach a lesson with their books. Also, the whole mustache-twirling villain? Another mistake.

7. Imperfect rhyme in picture books is, well, imperfect. Fix it.

8. You can take what you know emotionally and translate it into your novel.

9. No matter how you get published, you'll have to do some of your own publicity and marketing.

10. I am a random hugger.

What have you learned about yourself recently?

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