Thursday, May 31, 2012

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker

Today, I welcome Melissa Walker to the blog! Her latest novel, UNBREAK MY HEART, just came out last week from Bloomsbury. She's here to shed more light on her book and her writing. So let's get started.

About UNBREAK MY HEART: The year that broke her heart. The summer that healed it. A dual love story. 

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life.

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

And now a little bit more insight to Melissa and her book.

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less: (Is using the tagline by my brilliant editor cheating?) ((Um, maybe?)) The year that broke her heart. The summer that healed it. A dual love story. 

Have you always wanted to be a writer? I've always written, just for fun. When I found out people sometimes got paid for it? I was IN! 

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication? The desire to pay bills with the work I was doing, honestly. 

Quick! You’ve been chosen to go on Survivor. What luxury item do you take? A perfect pillow. I want to be well rested on the island. 

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate? Chocolate-covered bacon.(Oooh, nice one.)

About Melissa: MELISSA WALKER is the author of Small Town Sinners, the Violet on the Runway series and Lovestruck Summer. She has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. Melissa manages I Heart Daily, an e-newsletter and blogs for ReaderGirlz, an online community for teens. A Chapel Hill, NC native, Melissa now lives in Brooklyn, NY. Find out more at

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Never Surrender Blogfest!

Okay, so SURRENDER comes out next Tuesday. Squee! Please consider pre-ordering or going to your local bookstore during launch week. I know I have first-world, published-author problems, and I'm not complaining.

I just want to say that the sales of the first week--of launch week, which is next week, June 5 - 11--are so important to an author. Some more than others, and this time around it's really important to me.

So if you were planning to buy SURRENDER, please consider doing it next week. Or pre-ordering now.

I have 4 weeks of giveaways and blog tour posts planned for the month of June. During launch week, you can win one of five signed "Spectacular Seconds". Books that are the second published novel of an author, not necessarily the second in a series. 

Sophomore novels you can win: Crossed by Ally Condie, Mirage by Kristi Cook, A Million Suns by Beth Revis, Insurgent by Veronica Roth, and Perception by Kim Harrington.

Some of my favorite authors and favorites of the past year. Also during launch day--June 5--I'll have some amazing extras and giveaways happening on Facebook. Here. This event. Join if you're so inclined.

During the second week of June--that's the 11-15--I'll be hosting the Never Surrender blogfest. This is something anyone, anywhere can participate in. 

All you have to do is blog about a time you didn't surrender. Trained for a marathon? Queried agents? Had to study for an entrance exam? I'm looking for inspirational stories that you have experienced. Hard things you've accomplished because you didn't give up. I want to be inspired by you!

Anyone who blogs this week for the theme can enter to win one of three $15 B&N gift cards. Everyone who blogs this week will receive a SURRENDER swag package. (You can get the blogfest language and badge here.)

Don’t blog? Put the cover of Surrender up on your FB wall, or pin it on Pinterest, or change your twitter avatar to the cover. Use the words “Never Surrender” somewhere to go with the picture, and link back to this post.

Sign up in this form to make sure you get the swag package. I will visit each blog to read your inspirational "never surrender" moments. Sign your blog up to participate in the Never Surrender blogfest linklist below. 

Have you got a time you didn't surrender?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Last Chance to win an ARC of SURRENDER - and some bragging

Okay, so today is the final day of the three-week pre-release blog tour of SURRENDER. I hope you've been following along, because there's been some pretty epic things. (I will leave the YA book blogger page up for a few more weeks with all the links you need to catch up.)

You still have a chance to win one of 5 ARCs this week by participating in this week's tour--closes tonight! Here's where you can enter to win:

You can also enter to win an ARC from the lovely Shannon Messenger here (ends Saturday). And read some pretty funny stuff about me here (thanks Jill!).

Thanks to all who've followed along and participated. You've made me feel loved.


I'm going to take a break on Memorial Day, and then I'll be back with exciting things next Wednesday.

And now for the bragging: In addition to all of the above, this week I have completed a full outline, a synopsis, and a 100-page sample. I've even been to the post office, AND watched my daughter perform in shows 2 nights in a row. 

I feel like I could climb Mount Everest. 

Except for I couldn't. I started walking this week too, and ouch. I am out of shape. But I've lost 2 pounds! So that's something too.

Okay, bragging out.

Got anything to brag about? Let's hear it! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Opening Image

Okay, so I think most people know by now that I'm a huge fan of Blake Snyder's SAVE THE CAT series. I recently taught a class using this book, as well as SAVE THE CAT STRIKES BACK.

He subscribes to 15 beats in successful storytelling. The first beat is the most important, in my opinion. It is also--for me--the hardest.

The Opening Image. 

This is the snapshot of the character in their world before. Feel like that sentence needs more? It doesn't. This is the BEFORE snapshot. 

I think we hear a lot of advice about the opening chapter/page of our books. "Start in the middle of the action." Or "You have to hook readers really fast." Or whatever. I think sometimes this advice is dangerous. 

I think it's okay to start a little slower. I think you need to have interesting writing and captivating characters to keep readers interested. I think having a fast-paced novel is a good idea. But I don't think the fast pace should come at the expense of the opening image.

I don't think action should come at the expense of the opening image. I don't think backstory should come at the expense of the opening image.

It's important to start the story exactly where the story needs to start--and build from there. Which is why the opening image is so crucial, and also so, so hard. 

How's your opening image? Too fast? Too slow? Is it "before" enough?

Monday, May 21, 2012

The SURRENDER Trailer!

Okay, so you've been anxiously awaiting the trailer for SURRENDER, right? *wink* I'm sure that's been at the front of your mind for months now. *snort*

But really, there is a trailer, and you should be excited because you could win an additional ARC this week, as part of the YA book blogger tour (click here to enter to win the other five ARCs). There's only one thing you have to do to win: Tweet that you've seen the SURRENDER book trailer!

There's only one problem. It's not here. It's HERE. Seriously. GO HERE TO SEE IT, TWEET IT, WIN IT.

Thanks to Yara at Once Upon A Twilight for hosting the trailer reveal!

Tweet this: I just watched the book trailer for SURRENDER by @ElanaJ, coming out in only two weeks!

I will pick one winner for the SURRENDER ARC overnight (the rumors are true--I don't sleep). This tweet-the-trailer contest closes at midnight tonight. Good luck! And I hope you enjoy the trailer. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

This and That

This: I didn't start this post with "Okay" "So" or "Dude." I win.

That: I have found a new song that's been on repeat this week. "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye. Go here to see the cool video. And HERE to see a super-cool cover.

This: I am outlining. I hate it. I hate it hard. Tips? Tricks? Good beheaders? 

That: OH-MY-HECK-DID-YOU-SEE-ONCE-UPON-A-TIME?? I so didn't see that coming. I sort of feel like they did three seasons' worth of cliffhangers in the last 15 minutes. Yeah?

This: I am going domestic this year. Planting corn and beets. I will be canning and pickling at some point this summer too. I know. You thought all I did was sit at the computer and write. *wink*

That: Four more teaching days this year! Aaaah!

This: This week's YA Book Blogger tour is in full swing! Make sure you enter to win a SURRENDER ARC by visiting each blog:

Tell me another that!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Overcoming Writer's Block

Okay, so I'm asked all the time during my class visits and presentations how I overcome writer's block. I have a long answer, which I won't bore you with, and a short one.

Short answer: Do mindless activities.

When I need to work out some part of my plot or think of how I can revise something, my mind needs freedom. It needs to be left alone. It needs room to breathe.

Stressing about your deadlines, or the fact that you can't come up with the next chapter (writing out of order helps... just sayin'), or that you don't know how to do a revision doesn't do anything but frenzy your mind.

And you can't work effectively in a frenzied state.

So I always turn to mindless activities--most of which need to be done anyway! Showering. Folding laundry. Cooking. Vacuuming. All manner of cleaning. Driving.

Things you don't have to think about to do. (Although it is sometimes scary to be like, "Wait... Was that light red or green?" Ha!)

When I talk to high schools, I tell them they should play more video games. They love that. But seriously, anything that will allow your mind time to relax, anything that you don't have to think too hard about, is what you're looking for.

My plot pieces and bits of revisions I need always snap into place when I do mindless things. Hopefully this can work for you too.

What do you do to overcome writer's block? 

PS. I hope you've been following the SURRENDER pre-release tour! All details are here, and here's TODAY'S POST, and YESTERDAY'S POST and MONDAY'S POST.

Monday, May 14, 2012

IN HONOR by Jessi Kirby

Okay, so here we are with another fabulous book you need to add to your list. Heck, don't add it, go buy it! I guarantee you won't regret it.

And Jessi's here today to tell us a bit more about her sophomore novel, IN HONOR. *fangirl scream*

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less: 
Road trip inspired by a mistaken last request, from Texas to California, with a hot cowboy in a 1967 Chevy Impala. (See? Go. Buy. Win! I mean, she had me at "cowboy".)

Have you always wanted to be a writer? 
Ever since 3rd grade and my first Judy Blume book!

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication? 
I’d spent long enough dreaming about being a published writer and then actually finishing a book, it was the next logical leap to go for it and see what happened.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to go on Survivor. What luxury item do you take? 
Chapstick. I can’t get along without it in normal, everyday life, so I’d definitely have to have it on Survivor.

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate? 
Bacon. All. The. Way. (Aw, she's just saying that...)

About IN HONOR: Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. 

Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn's celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her. 

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn's last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn's best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn't seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn. . . and ruggedly good looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. 

Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn--but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

I'm a huge fan of Jessi's, because MOONGLASS was one of my favorite novels of 2011. IN HONOR is another brilliant novel, and I can only hope to write as well as Jessi one day.

She's made me a lover of contemporary fiction. What are some of your favorite genres?

Friday, May 11, 2012

YA Book Blogger Tour -- Enter to Win!

Okay, so this week has been filled with YA book blogger goodness--and some SURRENDER talk and previews. In case you missed anything...

You can win one of seven ARCs of SURRENDER by filling out the Rafflecopter widget.

Be sure to visit each blog and leave a comment. Every comment = another entry.

Contest ends tonight at midnight, but never fear! There will be five more blogs to visit next week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can follow all the action HERE.

So...who do you like more? Aragorn or Legolas? 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

So the Conference...

Okay, you guys. So I've organized WriteOnCon for two years now. When I was asked to help with a real, live conference, I thought How much harder can it be?

Let me just say: SO MUCH HARDER.

Number one, you can't attend in your pajamas. Number two, there's all kinds of arrangements for people that have to be taken care of. And lots of running around. And scheduling. And dinners.

Anyway, my friend Erin Summerill is a genius. GENIUS. Not only a great writer (I know, because she was in my primer group), but an amazing photographer. I took some of her photos from Facebook (go follow her!) to give you an idea of the conference.

This makes me look important. But I'm just moderating. Next to me (far right) is Holly Root, Michelle Wolfson, Molly O'Neill, Weronika Janczuk, Lisa Mangum, and Michelle Witte. 

Me hard at work during the publication primer. Notice the TREATS.

Conference queen, Jaime Theler. 

My sweet CP, Sara!

The Famous Peggy Eddleman.

Two of my favorite people, Kirk Shaw and Lisa Mangum. 

Me on the phone. This happened a lot actually...

James Dashner aka Jimmy Dashner according to my husband. 

A sneak peek into the green room... 

Michelle Wolfson and Kiersten White.

The Fabulous Tess Hilmo, who won a Whitney for best novel by a new author. Yay, Tess!

Over 450 strong!

Jenn Johannson, Kasie West, and Liz Adair -- a few of my faves!

And my new author photo. I mean, come on. I look like a model or something. Ha! It's amazing what PhotoShop can do. 

Again, I can't thank Erin enough for the amazing job she did at the conference. Go follow her writing blog, and her photography page on FB.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Book Blogger's Cookbook: Now with POSSESSION!

Okay, so today I'm here to let you know about a pretty cool thing. The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook--which features 22 books and recipes to go with them. What a cool idea, right?

It's all the brainchild of Christy Dorrity, who is as nice as she is beautiful. But first, let's talk about the book.

The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook is a community project from some of the blogosphere's best book bloggers in a simple, easy to read format. The cookbook combines a love of reading and dining to help you find books you'll devour and recipes you can't put down.

The Book Blogger’s Cookbook has 50 different book reviewers from every corner of the blogosphere. It bridges the gap between author and reader—putting you in touch with book reviewers who can separate the 5 star books from the mediocre.

The Book Blogger’s Cookbook showcases great reads and provides an interactive experience with links to author and book reviewer websites. The cookbook is created for those who like to experience what they read long after they’ve closed the book.

The Book Blogger’s Cookbook tells why each recipe complements its companion book. Recipes and books combine to make the reading experience satisfying and entertaining.

During the first week of the book launch, The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook will be available for a reduced price of .99 cents. 

Every person who comments on one of the blogs during the tour will be entered to win a grand prize: a copy of every book featured in The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook (22 in all, over $200 value)! Did you read that right? A COPY OF EVERY BOOK FEATURED IN THE COOKBOOK!

And Possession is one of those books, so yeah. To enter, you can comment right here, right now, on this post.

You can find the whole tour here, and comment on every stop for more opportunities to win!

Today I'm featuring the POSSESSION-inspired recipe of Jagged Ham.

You know you want to make this, just for the name alone...

Vi, from Possession by Elana Johnson, has never tasted meat before and when Jag tells her that the delicious food is called ham, she doesn’t want him to know how clueless she is. The meat is only the beginning. Vi grew up in a world where exposing your skin to the sun is frowned upon and touching another person is forbidden. When she meets Jag, she begins to question everything that she knew to be true. Jagged Ham is inspired by a recipe my mother used to make when company would come for dinner. Simple to prepare, the meat is impressive and tastes delicious.  

Jagged Ham 
3 chicken breasts 
Salt and pepper 
½ pound lean ham lunchmeat 
1 pint sour cream 
1 can cream of chicken soup 
Dried rosemary 

 Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally, making 6 pieces of thin chicken. Salt and pepper the chicken and roll up lengthwise. Wrap each chicken roll with a slice of ham and place them in a crock pot that has been coated with cooking spray. Mix the sour cream and soup together and pour over the meat in the crock pot. Sprinkle the dried rosemary over the top. Allow to cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours. Serve with rice or noodles. 

Jag Barque would give this recipe two thumbs up! Jag = yum. Jagged ham = double yum. Buy the Book Blogger's Cookbook here.

About Christy: Christy Dorrity loves to read about cooking and cook about reading. She was taught early to have a discriminating taste for both books and food. Christy grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming. She taught elementary school and lives in the mountains with her husband Devon and their five young children. When Christy's not reading or writing, she's probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

You can find her on her website or twitter.

Do you have a book club? This would be the perfect book for it, because it has books and complimentary recipes! 

What do you like to eat while you read? Or write? 

Also, don't forget that I have a pre-release tour for SURRENDER going on right now. You can get to today's stop at Eve's Fan Garden by CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Paperback Writer!

Okay, so I think it's only fitting that we all have that Beatles song in our heads. I mean, seriously. Because today, I have become a paperback writer!

That's right. POSSESSION is now available in paperback!

I also think it's hilarious that these are the words at the beginning:
Dear Sir or Madam will you read my book 
It took me years to write, will you take a look

Doesn't that sound like querying? It's exactly what we do! And then sometimes, if you don't give up and keep working hard, you actually can become a paperback writer.

the POSSESSION paperback

You can get the POSSESSION paperback here.

And don't forget that there's a pre-release tour for SURRENDER going on! Lots of chances to win an ARC and get inside information about that book before it comes out. Click here for the full schedule. And CLICK HERE FOR TODAY'S TOUR STOP at I Read Banned Books. 

So do you want to become a paperback writer? 

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Spy Like Me by Laura Pauling

Okay, so in celebration of the official release of A SPY LIKE ME, author Laura Pauling is hosting a three-week blog series: A Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon.

Intriguing, right? Well, it is. Much like Laura, who has been a regular in the blogging community for a while now. If you don't know her, head on over to her blog to check her out! You won't be sorry.

Authors galore, guest posts and book giveaways almost every day!

Gemma Halliday, Cindy M. Hogan, Elizabeth Spann Craig,
Nova Ren Suma, Elisa Ludwig, and Anne R. Allen... Just to name a few!

And here's why she's celebrating!

About A SPY LIKE ME: Stripping your date down to his underwear has never been so dangerous.

After dodging bullets on a first date, Savvy must sneak, deceive and spy to save her family and friends and figure out if Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him.

A SPY LIKE ME is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Not only that, but I'll be giving a copy away today! All you need to do is comment to enter. 

And I promise I'll be back with that report about the conference awesomeness from last week.

AND YOU CAN GET EXCITED ABOUT SURRENDER HERE TODAY! Thanks to Cindy at Books Complete Me for kicking off the pre-release tour for SURRENDER. You can win ARCs... Go check it out! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

I Can Blow Really Big Bubbles

Okay, so I'm at a conference this weekend, and I'm on the committee for said conference. Needless to say, my head is going to explode.

Good thing you won't be able to see it, because I can blow really big bubbles. This is Big League Chew, and yeah. I adore all bubble gum. Little factoid for you. And now you won't be able to see my exploded head. 

Catch you Monday, where I will have news about the conference! I get to hang out with editor Molly O'Neill (who edited DIVERGENT) and agents Michelle Wolfson, Holly Root, Kathleen Ortiz, and Weronika Janczuk! Be sure to tune in.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Introducing Awesomeness

Okay, so it's Wednesday, and I think that means that many of you are here to win an ARC of SURRENDER. That will happen! For realz. But first I have a couple of things... 

It's the Insecure Writer's Group today, and dude. If there's one thing I'm insecure about it's having contests and giveaways that people don't enter. 

It's so hard to know what people want. Or what they'll do to get it. Or what bugs them that they don't want to do. No one tells you, so you're left wringing your hands going, "Someone enter my giveaway!" 

It's awful. So today, I've decided to up the giveaway a little. 2 SURRENDER ARCs. And 5 copies of REGRET--my short story that came out last week.

Before the giveaway, I wanted to let everyone know about some upcoming things that will be happening for SURRENDER--and where you will have many chances to win more of those ARCs. It's called the YA Book Blogger pre-release tour, and it's going to blow your mind.

I will be giving stuff away. ARCs will be prizes. You will get super-sekrit information, insider scoops, the works. And it's all happening for three weeks starting on Monday, May 7. The whole schedule--including the giveaway widgets--is here.

One of the ways you can enter to win is to take this badge and put it on your blog sidebar. It's super easy, because all you have to do is copy the HTML code in that box there. Bam! Done.
Pre-release blog tour badge

Here's the schedule for next week, and you can check my blog each day for directions, and hey, who knows? Maybe I'll do some extra giveaways too...

Week 1:
Monday, May 7: Books Complete Me
Tuesday, May 8: I Read Banned Books
Wednesday, May 9: Eve's Fan Garden
Thursday, May 10: Teens Read and Write
Friday, May 11: Hypable

AND ONTO today's giveaway! If you haven't had a chance to read my short story, REGRET, yet, today is your lucky day! I will be giving away five (5) copies. All you have to do is comment on this post to win (and fill out the Rafflecopter widget).

This contest is only open TODAY. I will draw winners tonight at 10 PM Mountain time, so comment away! 

You know you don't want to be the cause of my insecurity, right? Um... Please enter? And you can enter to win the Insider's Case Files here, too. That ends next Tuesday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Some discussion topics:

  • Bacon -- it's awesomeness
  • Why is Big League Chew the best gum ever?
  • Favorite time of year
  • Why yard work should be eliminated
  • Who might win Survivor? 
  • Why oh why is Phillip Phillips still on AI?
  • Vacuuming -- overrated or necessary? 

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget