Thursday, December 31, 2009

They're Tagging Me Right Now

Final post! Check this post for cheating links. The questions are coming tomorrow!!

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

Real life.

22)Do you ever write based on your dreams?

I deprive myself of sleep to the extent that I don’t remember any of my dreams.

23) Do you favor happy endings?

No way.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Spelling, yes. Grammar – uh, what’s grammar?

25) Does music help you write?

“Help” isn’t the right word. I listen to music all the time. Writing, not writing, revising, editing, farming, cooking, cleaning, all of it. Silence smothers me. Except while sleeping, then if it's not silent, holy brown cows. Watch out. Dragon awakening.

26) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.

“What’s wrong with him?”
“How would I know?” I asked. “Do I look like a doctor?”

And thus ends the tag madness. Oh. My. Heck. I just realized something! I have Tags in my book! And they're capitalized and very, very Bad. But now I have a title for this post. It's a line from my book. *grin*

Ahem. Like you care. But it was a brainwave for me.

Anyway, questions up tomorrow. Comments today get you an extra entry.

Happy New Year's Eve!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You're Tagalicious

It's my blog and I can make words up if I want to.

Part Three:

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?


15) Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Ohhhh, yeaaahhh. I love angsty teen anything.

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?

Well, see, I like to make my characters run. Through deserts. Across vast snow-filled plains. Over lakes. If they’re not running from one place to another, I don’t quite know how to write. (ROTFL!)

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?

None. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I subbed my revisions, so I’m not working on those. I’m submitting ideas to Booksta, so I’m not writing anything new. I should be editing another novel (Elemental Hunger), but I’m not feeling like I care right now.

Lazy, I know. Maybe tomorrow, I'll be working on EH. But maybe not. I'm a mystery like that.

18)Have you ever won an award for your writing?

CI made it to the semi-finals in the ABNA contest last year.

19) What are your five favorite words?

“I can now offer representation.”

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Penelopie. She's smart and quick, but unsure sometimes. She needs an anchor. But when she makes up her mind, watch out.

I'm sorta like that.

Feel left out? Wondering why this tag thingy started on #14? No, I didn't reorganize the numbering system -- but that would be cool. Check this post for deets. Comment. Friday's coming! And think of what an awesome way to start 2010 it would be to have 25 bones and a wicked kewl title!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hey, You Left the Tag On...

Have no idea what I'm barking about? Read yesterday's post.

On to part two!

8) How often do you get writer's block?

Every freaking day.

9) Write fan fiction?

I had to go look it up. So no.

10) Do you type or write by hand?

Both. I’ve written entire novels by hand. I do almost all of my editing/revising by hand. But I've written like 12 novels in two years. And no one does that by hand, so it's a fair assessment to say I do a lot of typing too.

11) Do you save everything you write?

Yes. *nervously looks around* You mean people don't?

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

Yes. And no. Depends on how far I made it before the abandonment. And if my characters will forgive me long enough for me to start over. ;-)

13)What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

Well, I have this scene in CONTROL ISSUES where Vi controls Jag without any brainwashing abilities… It’s pretty kewl.

***This is part two in a four-day contest. Questions coming on Friday! Remember that commenting on any post this week adds an entry to the pool (if you get the answers right. But let's face it people, who's NOT going to get the answers right?? I'm not like the Mariana Trench or anything).

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Red Tag Contest

Okay, so I was tagged by the fabulous Danyelle.

But I hate long posts. I hate reading them, and I hate writing them. And that tag thingy has like 26 questions! So, just because I'm the queen around here, I'm breaking it up into four posts.

And taking it a step further. That's right, we're talking contest.

I'm going to give you all the answers. Or at least I have in past posts. And on Friday, I'm going to ask a few choice questions. Like one of those Facebook quizzes: "How well do you know Elana Johnson?"

Check this page on my website for cheats. And you might want to skim some of my latest Facebook statuses. (Is statuses a word? Or is it statusi? Hmm...)

And let's start the taggage!

1)What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

The last thing I wrote is the beginning of a new novel. 1500 words in, and I’m not feeling like hitting delete. A small miracle.

The first thing I wrote is a book I still have on my hard drive. I started rewriting it from blank pages in September, but had to stop to revise.

2) Write poetry?

Absolutely not.

3)Angsty poetry?


4)Favorite genre of writing?

YA of all kinds, but absolute fave is dystopian.

5)Most annoying character you've ever created?

Annoying character? I love all my characters! But probably Thane. He’s more in the category of Evil with a capital E, though. Not necessarily annoying. But he does annoy…


6) Best plot you've ever created?

Well, the one for CONTROL ISSUES is pretty cool, I think… I mean, what’s better than breaking through a brainwashing barrier and telling the Thinkers to get stuffed?

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?

Well, if I told you I’d have to kill you. *wink, wink*

Okay, I hope you're taking notes! Friday will be the day with all the questions.

And oh! The prize? Besides complete bragging rights and the title of Elana Johnson Know-It-All (Do you think Russell would pay ten grand for that title??), you could earn yourself a $25 gift certificate to

How? Well, you gotta answer the questions right on Friday. But every comment will earn you another entry. If you wanna follow the blog or tweet or blog about it or friend me on Facebook, we'll just call those added bonuses. I'm nowhere bright enough to keep track of those kind of entries. Hey... that could be a question...


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009: A Good Year

Dear 2009,

You've been good to me. I laughed. I cried. I whined. I chatted. I critiqued. I wrote. I jumped off the ledge a lot. And every moment was worth it.

I wrote three books, one completely by hand. Another on the computer. One in ebook format. And I finished a fourth novel, one that was born in 2008, but that you helped me "grow up."

I queried. Oh, how I queried. And I cried. And laughed. And squeed. And whined. And chatted. And jumped. And every moment was worth it.

Because I signed.

I revised. Oh, how I revised. The last quarter of this year has seen my MS grow and grow and grow until I can't even believe it's the same book I queried.

I blogged. Dude, I can blog. Not only for QueryTracker, but here too. Every day. Five days a week. Very few breaks. I read blogs. Commented on blogs. Followed blogs. Thank you, 2009 for an amazing year of new bloggy friends--321 of them, all from this year. In fact, I had to create a new list just for them. It grows daily. I smile. And read.

Next year is sure to be just as awesome. I look forward to conferences, submissions, reading amazing books, meeting online friends and leaving reviews.

Yes, 2009, you read that right. I know I haven't left a single review this year for any of the books you blessed me with. Even though I said I would. Even though I thought about it. But next year is my year. I'm going to leave reviews for every book I read on Amazon or Goodreads.

It's one thing I can do that I'm not doing now. (And really, 2010, with everything else you hold, one more thing is probably all I can handle.)

Thanks, 2009, for the excellentness you were.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some Year-End Loose Ends

I've got a few things to take care of before I officially begin my Christmas vacay tomorrow. No, I'm not going anywhere. It's all mental, baby.

First, I've received some blog awards! Thanks so much to Shelli Johannes at Market My Words. She gave me the Helpful Blogger award.

I'm giving it to Casey McCormick (Literary Rambles) and Steph Bowe (Hey! Teenager of the Year).

Marybeth Smith gave me this:

It has rules (I have to list 7 things about myself and pass it along to 7 people), but I'm ignoring them. I sorta feel like I bare my soul on every post as it is.

I'm giving it to Lisa Amowitz, Tere Kirkland, Roni Griffin, Tess Hilmo, Angie Lofthouse, Melanie Avila, and Indigo Ravenwood.

Tara McClendon gave me the Blogging Writer Award.

I can do whatever I want with it. (No, really. It has no rules. But Elizabeth Spann Craig came up with it.)

I'm giving it to Katie Ganshert, Jessica Nelson, Suzy Hayze and Paul Greci.

Second, I sent off my revisions for my novel even though Booksta won't be in the office until January 4. And let me tell you, I've lost about 1000 pounds since Monday. The Revision Diet. Try it. Or don't.

But a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Now I'm free to edit yet another book. And, shhh, don't tell anyone, but I might start my next project. Or I might not. But tomorrow, I'm definitely sleeping in.

And eating pie. And ham. And singing Christmas songs and watching Christmas movies. And wrapping presents. And going to the post office again. And, and, and...

What do you have to finish up before you can enjoy your holidays?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Official Kissing Day

Okay, so everyone should be all over this. I read about it last week on Katie Ganshert's blog. I guess you're supposed to post a kissing scene from something you wrote. If you're not a writer (gasp!), post your favorite kissing scene.

See why I like this? I mean, kissing. Ahem.

So here's a scene from a novel I wrote this year. It's called Dying to Live. And see this girl, she can feel death. Usually hers. But this time, she thinks it's her "boyfriend's" (they're really just Servant partners masquerading as a couple) turn to kick it. So she's been bawling. And now she's in the bathroom with her bf's "sister."

A knock at the door has us both jumping. She throws me a glance before opening it.
Blake stands in the hall, a dark storm cloud I want to wrap my arms around. “Hey, Cheryl. When did you get here?” He looks at Nora—right in her eyes.
“Just a few minutes ago. Nora was helping me with my makeup. How do I look?”
Blake hesitates, still watching Nora. She’s stuffing jars of makeup in a black case and won’t meet his eye.
“You look beautiful,” he finally says. He reaches toward me and I gladly slip my fingers between his. He plants a kiss on my temple. “Are you ready?” He studies me closer. “Have you been crying?”
The answer to both questions is yes, but I don’t want to say it.
“Nora, I need to talk to Cheryl for a minute. Tell Mom we’ll be right there, will you?”
“Don’t take too long. She’s freaking that we haven’t left yet.”
“You’re the one camped out in the bathroom doing your makeup.”
Nora flounces down the hall without a reply. Blake pulls me  into his bedroom. I’ve been in here a lot, so it’s nothing romantic or anything. His bed is made. His clothes are hung neatly in the closet. The desk practically has chalk outlines for where things belong. Mr. Organized.
“So tell me why you’ve been crying.” He hasn’t let go of my hand yet.
“Just something with my host family,” I say, trying to shrug it off.
He waits for more. He’s not going to get it.
“I can read the report when I file it,” he threatens.
“Okay.” If he knows about the looming appointment with my dad, he doesn’t spill. If he knows how much I want to kiss him, he doesn’t let it show on his face. “Let’s just go, okay? I don’t want your mom mad at me.”
“Can you still feel it?” he asks, his mouth barely moving.
In a bold gesture, I run my finger up his forearm, imagining I can feel the thin scars from his past life. I clasp my hands behind his neck at the same time he puts his hands on my waist. This is how we danced at Homecoming last week. This is how I always want him to hold me.
“Yeah, I can still feel it. It’s stronger here. It’s so loud. I’m…”
He pauses, and we’re breathing the same air again. In and out, in and out.
“I’ll protect you,” he says.
I want to tell him that it’s not me, it’s him, but I don’t have the chance.
Because he’s closing the distance between us and then we’re kissing kissing kissing.

I hope you participate! If you do, leave me a link so I can go read your mistletoe-inspired post on Kissing Day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Catching Up...Or Not

Just when you think you've caught up, life has a way of throwing you back down on the mat and laughing at you.

I can't catch up with the social networking racehorse.

There will always be one more blog I should be reading. Usually one that everyone else in the known universe knows about, but somehow, I don't.

There will always be one more person to follow on twitter or friend on Facebook. Just when I think I've stalked all the writing lists and added everyone there is, I find more.

There will always be one more amazing book to read. Another author to follow/read about/know.

Always. One. More.

I have to know her, and her, and him, and hey she's amazing! And oh my heck, she sold her book to HarperCollins! And I need to follow her and tweet to him and and and--

I feel like I'm not doing enough. Yet at the same time, I feel like I'm doing so freaking much.

It's enough to make you explode.

And another thing: I don't have one yet, but today is Editor Appreciation Day, and I just wanna say "Yay!" to editors. Happy Editor Appreciation Day! If you want to read all the amazing love for editors, I believe Gretchen McNeil is hosting the official list on her blog.

And one more thing: Suzette Saxton is going to be unveiling a pretty cool feature on on Monday. It's totally related to social networking and hopefully will make finding other authors on Facebook, twitter, blogs and websites easier and faster. QT isn't just for queries anymore, my friends. So go to the main site (it's free!) and update your profiles with all your social networking sites--and your genre preferences. Then watch the QT blog on Monday, December 21 (kissing day! Visit Katie Ganshert's blog for that info.).

How about you? How are you feeling about life right now? Totally overwhelmed? Ready for the holidays? The new year? Need a vacay from your life? We can pack together. Mentally, I'm already there.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Random Importantness

Okay, so I've got to clear some of the clutter in my head. Here's what I've got going on in there.

1. I'm typing this on my work computer (hey, it's lunchtime) and the stupid scroll button on my mouse isn't working. So I have to go over to the scroll bar to move down or up. And do you know how much time that adds to my blog reading? Do you? Let's just say this: a lot.

Status: Annoyed.

2. I can't believe Pandora only allows me to listen for 40 hours a month. Yeah, my time was up on the 12th. The 12th people. So I spent 3+ hours on Sunday trying to get my iTunes from my old mac to my new HP. And yes, I have two email accounts on Pandora (cuz 80 hours ought to be enough, right?) but Pandora is smart and won't let me use a different account on the same computer.

Status: Grr...

3. So Pandora is on right now. And I've got all my blogs open for the afternoon reading time. Problem? Someone has music on their blog. And I can't hear my Glee song. I have to hit mute. And that annoys me.

Status: *When is Christmas vacation?*

4. It's my girl kidlet's birthday today. She's five, which is both good and bad. It's good because she's so fun now that I can understand everything she says and she can do so much for herself. It's bad because she's 6 1/2 years younger than my son (I only have two kidlets) and now that she's five people think they have the right to ask me if I'm going to have more. Um, you know what? None of your beeswax.

Status: Chocolate. I need chocolate. Cake will do. This is her birthday cake. I made it myself. Hours, people. It took hours.

5. While we're on the topic of blogs, I don't like the ones that surprise you with the word verification after you've typed your comment and hit "submit comment." Just when I think I'm done, no! I have to type another word. And that's precious seconds. So if you could change that on yours, I'd appreciate it. kthxbai.

Status: Chomping on cake.

6. I'm sick. And while I'm not as miserable as I've been at other times in my life, I wish I could lay in bed with Pirates of the Caribbean on all day and have someone bring me things to eat. Because there's nothing I love more than eating food someone else cooked off dishes someone else will clean up. Sadly, I'm the cook and the maid at my house.

Status: Is it Friday yet?

What have you got on your mind right this second that you need to unload? We know it's random. We know it's important. So just say it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Have Not Written a Single Word

Since November 15. That's right, in over 30 days. I've been editing and revising like crazy. My second novel, ELEMENTAL HUNGER, is undergoing a major makeover. And I'm not like Kurt on Glee who thinks makeovers are like crack.

More like cold-water torture. Self-inflicted, because I wrote the novel so suckily (it's my blog and I say it's a word) the first time. In fact, I have since realized why it's not as polished as some of my other third drafts.

It's a NaNo novel.

2008, to be exact. And I "finished" it earlier this year. The last 100 pages are in far (far far) better shape than the first 200. Why?

Because I wrote them over a span of two months instead of two weeks.

Go figure.

So, I solemnly resolve to get this bad boy whipped into shape.

Problem? I have a shiny new idea that wants to be written. And since I haven't penned any new words in such a long time, my resolve to revise EH is waning.

How long has it been since you've written? Do you miss it when you don't write? What keeps you from writing?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why I Keep Writing

Okay, so I titled this post over the weekend, and as I sit down to write it, I cannot think of a single thing.

So I started writing. I emerged from the dark. I'm happy now. Even in "dark" times, I am nowhere near the kind of blackness I once was. Thankfully. that I'm a writer, why do I keep writing?


Because I like it?


*still thinking*

*more thinking*

*frantically trying to think of a different blog topic*

*scanning over what I've already written, finger hovering over the delete key*

Oh, my gosh! I already answered it!!

Why do I keep writing?

Because I'm a writer. (Man, I am a genius at this moment. *snarf*)

Now that you've started writing, why do you keep writing?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why I Started Writing

Christmas and the end of the year always have me contemplating my life. So since you're all privy to the inner workings of my mind, you get to come along for the journey.

Today: Why I Started Writing.

Disclosure: I'm not someone who's always wanted to be a writer. When I was growing up, I didn't feel this desire to pen words. In fact, I abhorred English classes and opted out of them my senior year. I went into Chemistry as a freshman in college. English? Writing? Humanities? A big fat "no thank you."

I think this is like, one of the seven deadly sins or something, so if you want to stop reading here, feel free.

But anyway, I didn't want to be a writer. I wanted to teach. You see, I had imagination. I spent hours making the roll for my "class." I wrote kids' names on the board. I gave grades. I was born to be a teacher.

And I am.

It's awesome. I love it.

So fast forward to Thanksgiving, 2007. Well, okay, back up a bit. The August before that I suffered a horrific personal loss.

And I disappeared.

I got up each day and got the kids ready for school. I went to work. I existed. But only in shades of gray, in world with no color, no emotion, no nothing. If you ask me what happened during those four months, I can't tell you.

I was alive, but not living.

My husband would ask me how my day was (as he knew I wasn't whole, but didn't know how to put all my broken pieces back together), and I'd simply look at him. I had no words. Because it was just another day and I had made it through.

So Thanksgiving came. I was going to be 30 in two weeks, so I decided to sit down and write my personal life history (cuz I'm into family history and stuff). And I found that when I sat at the computer and poured words onto the screen, I could live.

Really live.

And so I finished my personal history of the first 30 years of my life and immediately opened a new document and began writing another story.

And thus, how I started writing.

Because I don't do anything halfway, I've since determined that I want to be a published author. And so I'm pursuing that.

But you know what? No matter what happens in 2010, no matter if I get a book deal or I don't, I know one thing.

I am already a successful writer. Because writing provided a light in a dark dark place when I couldn't find the exit.

And that's better than a book deal.

But I'll take a book deal too, pretty please. *wink*

So, my dearest readers and beloved friends, why did you start writing?

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Agent Is Like...

...The best birthday present ever. That's right, it's my birthday today. I' year older than I was last year. And apparently I like ellipses.

Anyway, I'm dedicating my birthday post to my agent, Michelle Andelman aka Booksta (Dawg, don't remember the gangsta names? Check 'em out, yo).

In fact, today a bunch of agented authors are dedicating their posts to their agents (a great idea generated by the fabulous Kody Keplinger). Because they're A) people too and B) work pretty dang hard in behalf of their authors and C) get trashed pretty much everywhere.

But not today, my feathered friends. Not. Today. Because it's Unofficially Official Agent Day. (Try to wrap your head around that.)

So in keeping with my lists this week, I've compiled a few things that make Michelle Andelman worthy to have an agent gangsta name.

1. In the month we've been working together, she's already made me laugh out loud three times. And just through email. And that's impressive, my friends. I'm not just handing out laughs for free. Oh, no.

2. She's got her finger on the pulse of publishing. So really, I have like, this IV I can tap into anytime I want. And I love that. Because, frankly, sometimes I have to check myself and make sure I haven't flatlined yet.

3. Her positivity is infectious. And I mean "infectious" in a good way, not the H1N1 kind.

4. She is lightning fast in both reading and responding. And when you have lightning on your side, what else do you need?? Srsly. That's like commanding the universe or something.

So give it up for Booksta! (Or should I call her The Paperback Kid? Oooh, I kinda like that... Thoughts?)

And then go check out what my agency sisters have to say about Michelle.
Kirsten Hubbard
Kristin Botts
Shari Green

Jennifer Chen

Check out these other authors who have shown the love.
Lisa and Laura Roecker adore Catherine Drayton
Kody Keplinger and Sarah Frances Hardy show the love for Joanna Stampfel-Volpe
Christine Fonseca high-fives Krista Goering
Mary Lindsey dishes about Joan Paquette
Suzette Saxton tells us about Brendan Deneen
Bethany Wiggins gives it up for Marlene Stringer
Gretchen McNeil is infatuated with Ginger Clark
Shelli Johannes-Wells and Kristina McBride write sweet nothings about Alyssa Eisner Henken
Katie Anderson gushes about Cheryl Pientka
Julia Karr and Carrie Harris and Kiki Hamilton are hilariously in love with Kate Shafer Testerman
Scott Tracey sings the praises of Colleen Lindsay
Kiersten White tells us why Michelle Wolfson rules
Susan Adrian relishes in the joy with Janet Reid
Stephanie Burgis buddies up to Barry Goldblatt
Irene Latham hands out the hugs to Rosemary Stimola
Victoria Schwab presents the trophy to Amy Tipton
Andrea Cremer hands out the love to Charlie Olsen
Tabitha Olson brags about Andrea Cascardi
Jennifer Hubbard makes it all about Nathan Bransford
Kristin Miller types the praises of Suzie Townsend

And Lisa and Laura are compiling the whole list over on their blog (check the comments). So go check that out.

Yo. EJ-Jamma, out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting Critiqued Is Like...

...Flinging yourself out of a fast-moving airplane wearing only a parachute your novice boyfriend packed. That's right. ONLY the parachute. ;-P

*Insert own ending here*

That's me and my group. We are gorgeous. We dive out of planes on a bi-monthly basis. It is awesome.

My Getting Critiqued Toolkit:
1. Cheerios (for crying into)
2. Dragon hide
3. Twisted Sister
4. A strong sense of your story
5. Stock in Trust Your Gut, Inc.

How do you handle critiques? What's in your getting critted toolkit?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Querying Is Like...

...Asking the cutest guy in school for a date, being laughed at by him and his horde of teammates and then having your picture defaced in the school yearbook by said jockaholic.

Just. Like. That.

My Querying Toolkit:
1. Supportive writerly friends (preferably on gmail so I can whine chat with them on a whim)
2. Reese's peanut butter cups and French's French fried onion thingies (chocolate + fried food = snack of champions. Er...queryers. Should that be an i? Queriers? They're both freaking me out.)
3. A new writing project (but who are we kidding??)
4. Home remodeling (or some other task that you normally abhor. Hey, it actually makes querying better, if you can believe it)

How have you endured querying? What's in your query toolkit?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Revising Is Like...

...Pulling out your teeth, rearranging them and then putting them back in your mouth, hopefully in a better position than they were in before. If they fit. The ones that don't? Well, you just toss those ones down the disposal and turn it on, of course.

And you know, that hurts.

Good thing I like gum pain.

My Revising Toolkit:
1. Pandora
2. Pens (okay, I use markers. pink markers) and a printed copy of my MS
3. Ginger ale and bubblicious
4. Farmville and CafeWorld

What's revising like for you? What's in your toolkit?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Writing Is Like...

...Getting in a car when you don't really know where you're going, but you have a credit card with no limit, "the mutha" of Squirt mixed with grape flavoring, and the feeling that you're going to arrive somewhere awesome.

With the top down.

Oh yeah.

Like that.

My Writing Toolkit:
1. Laptop
2. Notebook and pen
3. Pandora (or iTunes) and a good set of sound-canceling headies

What's writing like for you? What's in your writing toolkit?

Friday, December 4, 2009

'Fess Up Friday

Okay, so my inbox is cursed. Maybe yours is too. Mine's got this weird virus that's keeping all the important emails out. Like it's killing them off or something.

I've been standing in the shower for a few extra minutes lately, mentally pep-talking myself into checking my email. "This is it. You're gonna have the best email ever today. The best. Ev. Er. Get out of the shower already."

So I get out of the shower. Get dressed. Take a deep, cleansing breath and open the Internet browser.


I have 34 emails!

All from Facebook. It's how I get email.

Hey, it's better than nothing, right? At least that's what I've been telling myself.

My name is Elana Johnson, and I make sure my inbox is full by participating on Facebook. *cheers, applause, knowing looks from fellow Facebook Anonymous members*

What's your dirty little secret? I know you have one. Tell...tell...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Moon Reflections

You knew it was coming. My discussion of New Moon. Yes, I went at midnight (12:01 AM actually) on opening day/night/whatever. No, it wasn't my favorite movie.

And no, I'm not going to discuss why. No, today I want to talk about the actors. Well, really just one: Kristen Stewart.

I'll just be upfront: she drives me a little batty. Here's why. Occasionally, I watch the late shows. And by "occasionally" I mean I watch them when my husband has already watched them, decided something is worthy for me to see, DVR's it and then nags me to watch it for a few days.

Thus, how I saw Rob P., Kristen S. and Taylor L. on The Jimmy Kimmel Show.

One word: Hilarious. I hope you saw it. Really funny. Well, Jimmy was. Even Rob gave me a laugh (when he said he thought having a pre-pubescent girl's body would be sufficient, I snarfed and then rewound so I could snarf again). Taylor is by far the most normal of that trio.

And that brings me to Kristen. So she's on the show, promoting the movie. Promoting herself. And what does she say? "I'm a loser and very boring."

I was like, "Really? That's what you're going to say about yourself? On a promotional show? For realz?"

I mean, seriously. I know we've talked about self-confidence and over-confidence on this blog before, but come on. I don't want to hear her call herself a loser. Cuz you know what? Now my suspicions of her loserdom have been confirmed--from her own mouth.

So again, dear writer friends, where's the line? That one between "I am the greatest person on the planet and I'm just a normal person, but hey I'm pretty great at this writing thing." Or acting. Or drawing. Or whatever.

Help a sister out. I don't think Kristen has it right, and I'm wondering where "it" is. Thoughts? About Kristen, Rob (and how he's not really supporting the Edward team), Taylor, or New Moon in general? Be nice now...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Since I'll Never Be On Oprah

I have to admit, I'm a bit sad that Oprah will be quitting in 2011. I mean, think of all of us that won't be able to be on her show! Okay, I've never really thought I was "Oprah material", but still. It is a little depressing.

How are we going to know what to buy people for Christmas? How are we going to know which books to read? How are we going to know anything anymore??


So in honor of Oprah leaving (I know, I know, 2011 is so far away. But not really. I mean, it's almost 2010! Ack!), I'm going to go all Oprah on you.

No really. You think Oprah's the only one who can ask questions? The only one who can get a thoughtful discussion going? Well, okay, maybe that last one is a stretch for this blog.

But seriously. I'm Oprah today. And you're my guest. Imagine you've been in hair and makeup for three hours. The crowd of women is going completely crazy. I've got footage of your hometown, your job, your car, the whole she-bang. (Wow, what a great word. Must jot down...) And I'm calling your name and you're walking out and the lights are so so bright and there's screaming and you're waving with both hands, this huge Chesire grin on your face... Ahhh, are you with me? We're on Oprah.

Oprah/Elana: So, tell me about your book.

You: (fill in silence. There really can't be any silence during the show.)

Oprah/Elana: What prompted you to write this book?

You: . . .

O/E: So what do you do when you're not writing?


O/E: What do you hope to accomplish with this book?


O/E: What are you planning to work on next?


O/E: Thanks for joining us today. We'll be right back.

FIVE MINUTES LATER (if you use a Spongebob voice, this is really funny. Just sayin'. Don't watch Spongebob? You = deprived.)

O/E: We want to thank you for joining us today. Here's what's happening on the Oprah show tomorrow. (fade to clip)

And now you can breathe again. But couldn't you so see yourself on Oprah? Yeah? Me too. But that's as close as we're going to get. She's quitting in 2011! Dudes. Yeah, just yeah.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yeah, I Failed NaNo

So sue me.

Since I didn't win, I feel like I have to justify what I did with my time in November. Just for kicks:

1.  I did write just over 25,000 words.
2.  I signed with my dream agent.
3.  I completed revisions for said agent.
4.  I made six chocolate pies.
5.  I cooked a turkey without filling the house with smoke.
6.  I entertained people at my house for two days. Small house + Seven extra people + 48 hours + no deaths = major success.

And that doesn't even take into account my day job, my real life with two kids and/or grocery shopping and bill paying and all that other jazz.

So November wasn't a complete failure. Right? Right.

What have you been up to? Was your November successful? In what way?

Monday, November 30, 2009

What's In A Website?

Okay, so I've sort of become addicted to the whole playlist thing. (Remember that whole week of songs I did? Yeah.) I even put a playlist on my website last week for my YA dystopian novel, CONTROL ISSUES. I like adding new stuff to my website, and I've read a lot of marketing posts (thanks, Shelli. She has awesome posts from publishing industry pros, so you should be reading her blog every day. Just sayin'.) about updating your blog and website often.

So I've got the blogging thing down. I don't really know how to update my website though. They seem more like static creatures. What do you guys think? Do you have a website? Do you update it "regularly?" With what?

And since I've got an uber-cool guy helping me re-design mine, I have to tell him what to put on it. And, yeah, um, I'm drawing a blank. What should a website have as a bare minimum? What do you like to see on an author website?

Leave me some examples of ones you think are wicked amazing, if you're so inclined. I'm in learning-mode on websites right now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving and Other Such Things

Wow, what a great week of mantra-ing. You guys are made of win. I'm so glad I know each of you!

I'm going to be unplugged next week. I even took Tuesday off from work. Here's why.

Today I'm recovering from a 2 AM showing of New Moon. (srsly) And yes, it's a "recovery."

I've scheduled some major hours in the Revision Batcave of Awesomeness.

I need to make five pies for my husband's sixth grade class. That's how we roll. I toldja you wanted to be in his class.

Then I'm going to stuff myself with chocolate cream pie at my critique group on Tuesday night (make that six pies that need to be made). And then turkey on Thursday.

But since it's Black Friday next week, I'm going to offer a sale on my ebook, From the Query to the Call. This ebook offers everything from how to write a query letter, how to research and submit to agents, query letter samples and then a guide for how to field "the call." It's an essential read for every aspiring author.

And you can get it this whole week for 25% off! It's regularly $9.95. This week? $7.46.

Click this button and enter the code: 25percentoff (all one word, no spaces, caps, etc.)

Add to Cart

And I hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving. I know I have a lot to be grateful for.

Later gators!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pay It Forward

As I was chatting with a friend last weekend, she said "Pay it forward." I can't even remember what we were talking about (I'm sure it was uber-important), but I thought it fit in perfectly with the mantra posts I had planned for the week.

So I'm adding it as the fourth part of the mantra.
1. Work Hard
2. Don't Give Up
3. Finish Strong
4. Pay It Forward

Yeah, I saw the movie. Didn't think it was all that special. But the concept is. The idea that you should lend support and help to those around you, showing them what you've learned, teaching them what you know, is made of awesomeness.

It's something I've been trying to do with my critique buddies. The query letters I read for people. The writing advice I've been given from agents. What I've learned in books. All of it.

I'm trying to pay it forward, so the next person who comes along, has the benefit of knowing what I've spent the last two years learning.

What about you? Do you subscribe to this theory of paying it forward? Is it worthy to be the fourth part of the writing mantra?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finish Strong

The last step of the mantra is thus: Finish Strong. (Thanks to Katie for adding it.)

Dude, I can't even begin to tell you how hard this step is. It's freaking hard. It's harder than not giving up. Than working hard.


Because it's hard to want to finish if you can't be first. Isn't that what we're always told? Second place is the first loser? Win or go home and all that? So yeah. When you immerse yourself in the writing community the way I have, and you see all your friends crossing the finish line with flags waving and crowds cheering and you've still got three laps to go...

Holy hard.

So I started reminding myself every day of this fact. I'd say this inside my own head, "It's finish strong. Not finish first. Just finish." Sometimes I'd say it fifty times. Or one hundred. Or whatever it took to keep the finish line in sight.

Because if you lose sight of that finish've fallen flat on your face in the quitters pile. And we've already determined not to give up.

So the mantra is thus:
Work Hard.
Don't Give Up.
Finish Strong.

In honor of all those who've helped me do just that, I've created this (rather lame) badge. I'm passing it on to them, and they can pass it on to anyone they want. Maybe someone who's helped them work hard, keep the faith and finish the race. Whatever that race is, writing or otherwise. (Yes, that's Michael Phelps. Talk about the epitome of the mantra.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't Give Up

Okay, so step two on the mantra is: Don't Give Up.

This is crucial. Because, seriously, if you haven't already, you're going to feel like giving up. Sometimes several times a day. Or even several times an hour.

It's inevitable.

So what do you do when you feel like giving in? Sure, you're already working hard. You're reading blogs and practicing, critiquing and reading trade books. Yet, that voice that says, "You should just quit." seems so. Loud.

What I did: I found a safe place to say that. It could be your spouse. In an email to a dear friend. Your mom. Your crit group. Wherever.

But I believe that those feelings shouldn't be ignored or shushed. Say it. Say it out loud. (Holy vampires! Are you snarfing out loud? Cuz I am.) Say it, mean it, talk about it, but don't do it.

Don't give up.

And when you do, find that one person who can keep you going for just one more day. And then one more. And then one more...

So what do you do when you feel like giving up? (I close the lappy and turn on Pirates of the Caribbean. No, really. I do. I might make a batch of caramel popcorn and curl up under a blanket. It's my thing.)

Who do you turn to for help? Have you ever quit something and now you regret it? Does that keep you laboring down this long and winding publishing road?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Work Hard

Okay, so some writing buddies and I sort of have a mantra. Don't roll your eyes. Publishing is a hard biz. Lots of waiting. Lots of competition. Lots of ledge moments. Mantras are needed.

Anyway, step one: work hard.

You've gotta be willing to work hard if you wanna get anywhere in life. At least I think you do. And those two words are definitely true with writing.

When I sat down to write my first novel, I didn't pen a masterpiece. More like a finger painting. You know the kind you do in kindergarten? It was practice. Good practice.

The second was like a second-grade watercolor. Nice, but nothing special.

But the third. Yeah, the third had potential. Was it perfect? Heck, no.

It had potential.

I used to hate that word. Hate. It.

Let's define:
Potential: having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

Yeah, my sixth-grade teachers used to say I had potential. If only I would apply myself. So I showed them. I applied myself. Graduated college with a 4.0. Ha! Take that, sixth-grade teachers!

Now I teach typing and let the littler kids play math games. I sure showed them, didn't I? *snarf*

Anyway, I'm way off track. The point is, just because you have the potential to do something, doesn't mean you will.

You have to work hard. Learn more. Get better. Read. Practice. And it all takes work. But you know what? All that hard work? Totally worth it.

What do you think? Have you ever worked really hard for something? Did you get it? How did it feel?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Budlight Presents... Real American Heroes

Budlight Presents...Real American Heroes (Real American Heroes)
Today we salute you, Mr. Fortune Cookie Fortune Writer. (Mr. Fortune Cookie Fortune Writer)

Most writers leave their wisdom in a book
You leave yours in a cookie (crunchy cookie)

Sure they taste good
But it's the information you provide that we're really hungry for (love is round the corner!)

Though your tablet is small
Your message never is (show me the way)

Of course the mushu pork and the egg foo young fill our bellies
It's your inspiration that keeps us well-nourished (yum, yum, yum, yum, egg foo young)

So crack open an ice cold Budlight, Mr. Fortune Cookie Fortune Writer
Because when you say our luck is about to change
We believe you. (We bee-ee-lieeve yoooooou.)

Okay, okay, so I've believed some fortunes at times. Dove dark wrappers, but who's keeping track of those? *wink* But I've always believed in myself. And I hope that you believe in yourself too. Read on...

Okay, so finding a literary agent is like dating, popping the question and agreeing to work together on something meaningful and worthwhile. Like publishing a book.

And I've found my better half. Shh, don't tell Mr. J. Well, he already knows. So shout away!

Because I'm now represented by Michelle Andelman of Lynn C. Franklin Associates!

Here's me signing the contract. Yes, I antiqued it. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Looked cool? Whatever.

And you can read more about Michelle here. Scroll down to the bottom. She's the literary agent that will be at the Oregon Coast Children's Book Writer's Workshop next July. It gives a good list of books she's worked on. My novel definitely fits on her list as "edgy, emotional Young Adult".

Can I get a "Woot! Woot!"?

And it's YOUR inspiration that's kept me well-nourished through this journey. So thanks to all of you, my favorite Fortune Cookie Fortune Writers.

And your fortune is: Your luck is about to change.... *big smiles*

Oh, and you wanna hear more Real Men of Genius? You know you do. Go here. I l-o-v-e the Mr. Really Bad Toupee Wearer one. Hilarious!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hey There De-LILA-h

Okay, so while I love this song, it does nothing for the writer inside. Sorry. But it is a catchy tune, and it has some cool lyrics about how this guy's gonna pay his bills with his guitar, which somehow could be skewed to writing... Yeah, I'm not feeling it either. Maybe because I'm writing this at 4:30 in the morning, and I'm tired. Or something.

Anyway, today, this song is dedicated to Lisa and Laura Roecker, who not only ROECK, but they apparently rule the universe too. Because they're giving away a Kindle. Enter here.

And here's some lyrics just for them. Sing along. They, uh, mostly work.

Hey there D'LILA
What's it like in Cleaveland, Ohio?
I'm a thousand miles away
But girls, tonight you look so...reli-a-ble
Yes you do
My forehead doesn't shine as bright as you
I swear it's true

Hey there D'LILA
Don't you worry about your edits
I'm right here if you get suicidal
Give this blog post another gander
Close your eyes
Well, don't do that, cuz then you can't see
That I'm by your side

Oh, it's how you bag on celebrities
That has me at your mercy
Oh, the hope tank is emp-tee-e
At least here for me-e-e
At least here for me.

Hey there D'LILA
I know Kate is gonna rock
So just believe me, girls
Someday she'll show up on the NY Times list
You'll have it good
You'll have the writing career you should
Your book's that good

Hey there D'LILA
There's not much left to say
You've got your book deal and an extra kindle
You'll take our breath away
With London's Call
Even more in love with you we'll fall
Don't drop the ball

Oh, it's how you can somehow see
That same talent in me
Oh, it's how you're now fancy
Oh, with Dan and Sourcebooks-y

And...I'm gonna stop there. I'm no song-writer. But, seriously! Go enter to win the kindle (I think I should get like, a million entries for the song. I mean, come on. Who else wrote a song??). And Lisa and Laura do Roeck. And I do like this song.

Random thoughts today? Should I stay in bed when I can't sleep? Yeah, I think so too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Have Been Changed, For Good

Yeah, I'm going totally musical on you today. Particularly from the musical Wicked. See I love Wicked. I like all the songs, but none as much as this one.

Today's song: For Good from the musical Wicked.

Lyrics that inspire:

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

I have many stories of people who have helped me in my life. Reminded me of who I am. Who I am not. Shown me that good exists inside of people. They have all touched my life, molding and forming me into the kind of person I am today.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, it could be applied in any number of ways to character development. But I think it has to do with the community of writers I've been lucky enough to "meet" and "know" online. We really are led to each other in remarkable ways. We help each other, lift each other up, change each other

And that's just kewl

Thus ends writing lessons from Wicked.

What do you think about your fellow writers? Aren't they WICKED awesome? Do you think you've been helped in your journey in some way by those around you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What I Learned from the Hannah Montana Movie

Yeah, all right, I watched that movie. My girl kidlet loves to dance and she loves music. So we bought the movie OnDemand.

And you know what? It wasn't half-bad.

There's a song at the end, one that I've heard before. It made a small dent in my subconscious back then. But as I was watching the movie, it made a crater.

Today's song: The Climb by Miley Cyrus

The lyrics that changed my life (okay, that might be a tad overboard, you decide):

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

I don't think this needs further explanation.

What do you think of this? Totally inspirational, right? Now go write! It is NaNo after all. Just because I've fallen flat on my face doesn't mean you should.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Life Lessons From... Twisted Sister?

This week I'm going musical on you. I'm going to highlight a song and the specific lyrics that make me think about writing. And then, you know, apply them to writing, since that's what I do with everything.

Today: We're Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister.

That's right. These guys. Or whatever they are. (I especially like that one on the far left who's holding his stomach. What is he doing??)

Specifically this line: "If that's your best, your best won't do."

This sounds negative, but it's so not. It's inspirational to me when I sit down to write. I might write something and think, "Twisted Sister. Do it better."

And then I do.

I always listen to this song before crit group. It helps put me in the right mindset to take the slashing. Because I know they're trying to help me reach my best.

So thanks, Twisted Sister!

What do you think of this line? What lyrics inspire you?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Writing on the Edge

All right, so in keeping with my self-proclaimed title of world's biggest reality TV addict, I was watching Dancing With the Stars this past week. And Carrie Ann Inaba said something to one of the celebrities that set me thinking.

She said, "You always dance right on the edge. I never know which way it's gonna go." (Okay, that shouldn't be in quotes, because I'm pretty sure that's not word for word. But you get the gist.)

And I actually hit the pause button. (DVR, baby.)

Because it's the mantra for my life. I feel like I'm living on the edge in most of what I do. So I said something to my DH about it, and thankfully he confirmed my psychosis, er, theory. He said, "That's how people learn. You have to challenge them to the point that they're on the edge of their knowledge."

Thank you, Dr. J. (No, he's not a real doctor. I just like to pretend. He is a teacher, and he knows how people learn.)

So in my writing, I've decided to write on the edge. Right at the cusp of "Holy cow this is wicked amazing!" but in which I'm right on the edge of the precipice of "Oh, man, this is the world's biggest train wreck. - delete..."

And so I'm writing on the edge.

What do you think? Do you think you need to be pushed right up to the edge of your abilities to get better? Have you ever been pushed that far? Did you learn what you needed to?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Believe it or not, I have a real life. And there's some funny stuff that happens. People do interesting things. Weird things. Things I cannot comprehend. The list goes on and on.

One day I went to lunch (there's a shocker) with my husband and his former boss. Now that lady has some stories. And not the "ha ha!" kind. More like the, "You've got to be kidding me" kind.

So I said that.

And she replied, "I'm not kidding. You can't make this stuff up."

So I know you know where I'm going with this. Writer-Elana reared her ugly beautiful head and pondered that statement.

And she realized: Good fiction has roots in real life.

Sure, I write mostly speculative fiction, which includes fantastical elements and cool powers. But ultimately, I try to make my characters real. Experience real life in their own way, their own world. And I found that including aspects of people I know, stories I've heard, etc. is a great way to do that.

Because you can't make this stuff up.

What do you think? Do you include real life situations in your fiction writing? Have you noticed it being more authentic when you do?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Okay, before you go all "Whatev." and roll your eyes, it's different. This isn't the kind of consequences we talked about a while ago. More like a grand-scheme-of-things type of discussion. When sitting down to write a novel, there is an essential question all writers must ask. I think this question is often skipped over. Often unanswered. Often left out--both in the novel and the query letter.

It's the consequence.

And here's the question: What does the MC have to lose if they can't overcome Conflict A, B, or C?

Can you answer this question for your WiP? Can your readers? Is it addressed in your query letter? It should be.

Because everyone wants to pick up a book, read the back, and go, "Oooh, I have to read this RIGHT. NOW. to find out if/how super-awesome MC can overcome that nasty super-bad."

And that's why I'm floundering a little bit in my NaNo novel. I'm not exactly sure what my MC has to lose if he can't overcome the conflict. Maybe because I don't really have the conflict nailed down either...

But that's another post for another day. *wink*

Thoughts on the overarching consequence of your novel? What does your MC have to lose? Internally or externally?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Speed Blogging: Tips From a Blogaholic

Okay, so I posted on Facebook last week that I'd just read AND commented on 30 blogs. How long did it take? 30 minutes.

Scott provided the title of this post when he said, "Speed blogging!"

So I give you, Speed Blogging, Tips From A Blogoholic:

1. You need a blog list you can click from quickly. This is one of the many reasons why I created my Wicked Awesome Bloggers list. I go to that blog and viola! Every blog I care most about reading is there. In order of their last post.

2. Quickly click on every blog you wanna read. They'll open in a new window. This is good for you. Sometimes I have 40 windows open. This might freak some of you out. It's okay. Deep breaths.

3. And go! Read the post. Comment. Close window. Guess what? The next blog pops right up, where it was waiting in the background. No extra clicking. Read post. Comment. Close window. Rinse and repeat.

The end.

I can usually go through the morning's posts (up to 30-40 blogs) during my 35-minute lunch break. That includes heating up my lame leftovers and using the restroom.

I then do a nightly round of blog reading. This usually consists of making sure I go to the blogs of people who leave me comments, and anyone else who didn't post by 11:45 AM. I probably spend 60 minutes, TOPS, reading blogs. And I probably read and comment on 45 - 60 blogs every single day.

And that's it. Speed blogging. It's all in spending that 3 minutes to get the windows all open. Then it's click, read, comment. Done!

What tips do you have for reading a lot of blogs in a short amount of time? Lay it on me, I'm all about the speed blogging, baby.

Oh, and I just wanna say that I'm at 6800 words for NaNo. Hold the applause. Ha ha!

Monday, November 2, 2009

It Takes Practice

Okay, so my boy kidlet takes piano lessons. He's pretty good. But he's got this weird thing. When he sits down to play, he gets frustrated when it's not perfect the first time. When he has to go back and back (and back) and practice certain parts.

So the other day, I was in the kitchen while he was practicing. And he was frustrated and muttering to himself. (Don't know where he gets that!) And I said, "You practice to get it right. You can't expect to sit down and have it be perfect the first time."

He said, "I know."

And then I dropped the stupid pan I was washing because I'd just learned the gospel truth about writing.

You can't expect to sit down and have it be perfect the first time. It takes practice.

Then I went to my live crit group, and one of the girls talked about practicing. It was like a profound moment. Because it's so true. I've penned a lot of novels--I won't tell you how many because it's quite embarrassing.

Only 3 of them are worth working on. Perfecting. The others? Just practice.

And you know what? That's okay. THAT'S OKAY. Through practice, we get better.

What do you think? Do you have "practice" novels? Do you allow yourself to write, knowing it's just for practice?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Yeah, All Right, So I Cried

See, I'm not much of a crier. Sure, I get misty-eyed at the occasional orchestra concert and other stuff like that. Sometimes I tear up while reading. Or last week when my son earned the Arrow of Light (the highest rank in cub scouts). Little stuff, you know? And tears rarely make it past my eyes cuz I blink them back like crazy.

But this past weekend, I went for the gold medal in crying. And it's not that pretty crying. No, more like these weird animal sounds and the need for an entire roll of toilet paper and then solitary confinement.

The worst part? Not knowing exactly why I'm so upset.

So yeah. I'll spare you the details.

This post isn't about my issues, it's about encouragement. Where do you go when you've earned the gold in crying? Do you have someone that can lift you from the depths of despair? Something you read to inspire you?

I do. The problem? I rarely go there before we're watching Survivor and I'm sobbing on the couch. My DH is looking at me like I've gone crazy and the kids run for cover. Yeah, I'm a bottler. I think I can handle everything myself, that no one will understand anyway, and that hey, this isn't that big of a deal.

Until I have the gold.

So anyway, where do you find encouragement? Are you a source of strength for other people? How?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The End

Of the world as we know it...

Okay, it's really not. But every time I think of those two words, or write them, I think of that REM song. I can't help it.

And this isn't about me writing THE END. Heck, I haven't written in about 6 weeks. Editing sucks the writing life right out of you. Well, okay, I have penned the occasional short this week, but nothing significant.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about endings. I always always struggle with writing the end of my novels. Lately, as I watched a friend go through this same struggle, I started thinking about The End.

And I realized why writing THE END is sometimes hard (at least for me).

Because we truly love these made-up people that we're writing about. And we want their story to end like Cinderella's, with Prince Charming on the white horse and living in the big castle with the nasties polishing the floor.

But most of the time--at least for me--there isn't that Happily Ever After. Rarely do my novels end in rainbows and sunshine and a fabulous pink gown. I don't mind novels that do. It's just not how I write.

Once I realized that, letting the story go toward the dark side became easier.

What about you? Is writing the end easy? Hard? Do you tend to end your stories happily? Why or why not?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

That's Right, You Guessed It

I've avoided the NaNo blog post for as long as humanly possible. In my defense, I did put the little participator badge up at the beginning of October.

The problem? I've been toying with the thought of editing in November instead of writing. It was a fickle dream though.

So I've decided to go all out. That's right. No holding back. See, when you (meaning: me) killed (and I mean KILLED) NaNo last year, there's nowhere to go but down. So I'm putting on my literary armor, storming the storybook castle and forging toward the tallest tower in the north corner.

I'm going NaNo.

Come buddy me.

And then come join us on RallyStorm. I made a separate board in the Writing Throwdown forum, (where some of us have been cheering each other on since April) just for NaNo. And who doesn't need cookies (provided by Danyelle on a regular basis), and encouragement, and hand-holding and a cool place to hang out while they're trying to pound out fifty-freaking-thousand words in only thirty days?? Yeah, you do. You know you need it.

It's free to join, and everyone is welcome.

Who's with me? I said: WHO'S WITH ME? *insert battle cry here*

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Go The Distance

Okay, I went to a junior high orchestra concert the other night. First, let me just say that there's nothing like live music. It soothes the soul. Makes one realize that there's more to life than, oh, say the Internet.

It was beautiful. One of my husband's former students plays the cello, and that's why we went. It was fun to see him up there, making something magical.

But I digress. The last song they played was from the movie Hercules. Go the Distance.

Seriously, a Disney movie song?

Yeah, okay, it pretty much reduced me to tears.

Not because it was brilliantly arranged or performed. In fact, other pieces were more moving. Yet I wasn't all misty-eyed.

I was emotional because of the message of the song. As soon as I got home, I looked up the lyrics (cuz even though the Disney Channel is a staple around here, I don't have the words memorized. Believe it.)

I can go the distance
I will find my way
If I can be strong
I know ev'ry mile
Will be worth my while
When I go the distance
I'll be right where I belong

I love those words. They are so true for me and my publishing journey.

What do you think? When you go the distance, will you be right where you belong? Is every mile worth your while?

I think I will be. And I think it is.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Overconfidence And Other Such Things

Today is an important day for me. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I've been waiting for October 26 for a while now. During this wait, I've relied pretty heavily on those around me to keep my spirits up.

But as I was thinking the other day, something hit me. Not like a brick or anything, but you know, a deep thought.

I can't remember what sparked it. A blog or an email or a comment somewhere. But I remember thinking, "Oh, I'm gonna make it. That, I'm not worried about."

And as soon as I thought it, my next thought was, "Are you being overconfident?"

And that new thought has been somersaulting in my brain for while. Now, before you think *I* think I'm all that and a bag of chips (ooh! Chips!), I've also had a few emails from people who are just starting to get to know me. One particular email basically said that I'm a tad intimidating. Me! This is not the first time I've heard this, although I'm unsure as to why.

I swear I'm going to link these two random thoughts. So I've been stewing over my confidence issues: Am I overconfident? And the email: You're intimidating. 

And I wonder if they're related.

Does confidence spur intimidation? A dear (dear dear) friend of mine told me that she believes some people may be intimidated by me because I put out the attitude that I will make it in this business. And you know what? She's right. I absolutely 100% believe that I am going to make it. At the same time I don't intend to put people off by acting arrogant or overconfident. I just happen to think I've worked hard, learned a lot from the successes of others, applied what I've learned and that, yeah, eventually, I'll make it. This is something my dad taught me that I'll never lose: If you work hard enough, you can do anything you want. (Thanks, Dad.)

What say you about confidence (too much or not enough), intimidation or anything else?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Professionally Developed

Okay, so a week or two ago I had to attend some professional development meetings. That's right, I am now professionally developed.

Anyway, my principal rawks. Hard. She is so inspiring. And in a climate where we're losing like 30% of our budget and stuff like that, it's good to be around people that A) make you smile and then B) motivate you to do your job better.

And since I have a currently undiagnosed illness, I relate everything I hear to this whole "Hey, I wrote a book and now I want to publish it." thing. Do you have this illness? Perhaps it's just me.

So do you want to be professionally developed? You know you do.

Let's start with a picture.

This is Aspens Aglow by Connie Tom. And I love love love this painting. Because I love my nature moments to come in shades of gold and red.

There's just something about fall that I adore. The weather is finally cooler. The longer nights with brighter moons. The brilliant colors of the leaves.

Trees go through this massive change every year. First their delightful green leaves turn into brilliant oranges and yellows and reds. The beauty is spectacular. Walking through the forest is peaceful and awe-inspiring. 

You never hear trees say, "You know, I don't think I'm going to change this year. I like my leaves just the way they are." That doesn't happen. Because the trees somehow know that when they allow themselves to change, they become better. They become awesome.

And this awesomeness comes from being stretched. The result is absolutely stunning. Notice that the cooler weather only stretches the trees. It doesn't break them.

This is how we are as writers. We must be stretched. Challenged to learn more, be better. And what happens when we accept this challenge?

We're beautiful and absolutely amazing.

We can produce gorgeous colors and achieve great things.

What do you think? Have you grown as a writer when you've been challenged? Is the result as amazing as the fall foliage? Or have the stretches broken you?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Shrub Thing

Every single time I see or type the word "shrub" I smile. I cannot help myself. The lips just go up, no matter how hard I try to straighten them.

Saying it out loud causes a great bubbling of laughter to come up.

I love the word shrub. Love. It. It's true--I have a shrub thing.

Since I'm back at school (insert banshee-like wailing and gnashing of teeth here), I need a good laugh every single day. Or just something to smile about.

So I want your favorite word. What word just makes you smile to read? Write? Say out loud? I want it.

Other faves of mine: beaver. I mean, come on. Say it. I dare you not to smile. Maybe your boss will be walking by and hear you say "beaver," and then the ensuing laughter. That would be hilarious.

Another word I like to use: pertinent. Makes me sound very scholarly, don't you think?

So lay it on me. Don't be shy. Favorite words--spill! Spill! (BTW, did you notice the em-dashes? Jeesh.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Revision Stats

Okay, so it's no secret that I'm revising my novel. It went pretty well, actually. That's right, you read that as if the revisions were done. That's cuz they are. I have the MS out with my gamma's (thanks for the tip, Beth!) right now and I'll go over their notes one last time before I really throw my arms into the air and proclaim, "It is done!"

Here's some stats for you:
1. Words cut: 7000
2. Chapters completely rewritten: 3 (written into 4 new chapters)
3. 2-Liters of Ginger Ale consumed: 5
4. Packages of Red Vines thrown back: 2
5. Number of times "Single Ladies" played: 196
6. Number of times I re-watched GLEE (episode "Preggers") for inspiration. Yeah, for inspiration: 6
7. Hours of sleep lost: too many to count
8. Days without facebooking, twittering or blogging: 9
9. Books read: 5 (The Other Side of the Island, Catching Fire, Graceling, The Magic Thief, Evermore)
10. Revisions: brilliant (well, at least I think they are)

So there you have it. What are you working on right now? Do you have some stats to share? Me being the math geek, I'm all over the stats.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Are Awesome

Everyone needs someone to tell them how awesome they are. So today, that's me telling you, okay? Okay.

And here's why: Because we don't get told enough.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my students said, "Mrs. Johnson, you're awesome."

I smiled and said, "Hmm...I don't feel awesome."

And she stopped walking and just looked at me. "Well, you are."

Just like that. Like it was the simplest thing in the world. And that she couldn't believe that I wouldn't think I was as awesome as she thought I was.

So there.

You are awesome. Even if you don't feel like you are. You simply are. So take this badge, put it on your blog to remind yourself of your awesomeness and spread the awesome!

Monday, October 19, 2009

How I Choose To Live

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

~Nelson Mandela

This is how I choose to live. As a writer, I think it is especially relevant. Just like this quote, I often ask myself the question, "Why not me?"

So now I ask you: Why not you? Whatever it is you're aspiring toward right now, why not you? 

And how do you choose to live?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Break, How I Love Thee

So this week I covered editing, revising, writing rules, critique groups, and personal stuff. How'd the one liners work for you? Did you find you had just as much to say about revising without me going on and on about it? Yeah, that's what I thought.

I loved one liner week. Maybe I'll do it again someday. It's sort of like that Mike Myers sketch on Saturday Night Live where s/he'd throw out a topic and say, "Discuss."

So whaddya wanna talk about? It's Fall Break, and I'm milkin' it.

Oh, and if you need another blog to follow, and you know you do, then check out Lisa Amowitz who recently ventured into the blogosphere. She's a terrific YA author and fabulous friend.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

From the Query to the Call Sale!

My ebook, From the Query to the Call, is now on sale for the weekend!

Here's how it works:
1. Add the ebook to your cart. (At the top of this blog. Or this one. Or the website. Or here: Add to Cart

2. Enter the code: 25hoursale (No spaces, no period at the end.)

3. You get the ebook for $7.50 - 25% off!

4. Sale lasts from now - midnight Sunday. Tell your writerly friends.

Easy, peasy.

And I'm sort of under a deadline of sorts. So I'm still AWOL. But I'll be back next week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In Which I Finish Answering All Your Deepest Questions

Okay, so here goes part two. Great questions! I hope life, the universe and everything is so much clearer after you've read my answers. *scoffage*

The Jocular Jenn asks: What time do you generally get out of your pajamas on Monday? Or should I say do you get out of your pajamas on Mondays?
M8BE: I totally get out of my PJ's on Monday. I have lunch to go to. Yes, I go to lunch every single Monday. It is a necessity. So usually around, uh, 11:30. Yeah, let's go with 11:30. That's AM, by the way.

At your house, is Lucky Charms "part of this complete breakfast," or is it just the whole breakfast like at my house?
M8BE: Wait. You feed your kids Lucky Charms? My kids would be going, "Lucky!" I feed mine stuff like Rice Chex or Wheat Chex. No sugar. And yeah, that's the whole breakfast. Is there more to a complete breakfast...? Of course there is. BACON.

The Luscious Lisa and Laura ask: Seth or Liam?
M8BE: Um, dudettes. Liam. Dark, sexy Liam? Ohhh, yeahhhh. The only thing that *might* improve Liam is a strange fascination with his hair... ROTFL!!

The Loony L.T. Elliot asks: I'd like to know what genre and age range you typically write for. I'd also like to know more about you in general. What's your favorite types of foods? Books? Movies?
M8BE: Okay, well, I'm a deep and varied person. (I almost typed that with a straight face.) I write YA speculative fiction--science fiction and fantasy. Anything paranormal. I love anything with bacon, potatoes, and barbeque sauce. I simply adore plain potato chips. I like MG and YA lit with a paranormal edge. If it has magic, all the better. Special gifts? Sign me up. Vampires? Yes. Ghosts? Yes. Funny, quirky characters? Yes. My all-time favorite is dystopian lit. Stuff like UGLIES and THE GIVER and THE HUNGER GAMES and THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. I simply can't get enough of that kind of stuff. As for movies, I like anything but horror. I have one rule: if it was made before I was born, I don't see it. The one exception: The Wizard of Oz, cuz that's a classic. Or so my DH says.

The Terrific Terresa asks: Ok, do you have a tattoo? (I'm guessing yes...and I'll tell you a little secret: I have one, it's a red rose on my lower back.)
M8BE: I don't. Mostly because of my insane fear of needles. And pain. And did you read that part yesterdat that said I was a straight arrow? Yeah, I sort of still am.

The Kute Katie asks: If you didn't write, what would you wanna do?
M8BE: Um, I don't know. That's a really hard question. Since I'm practically a rock star with my Guitar Hero, and I already teach, what about like world traveler? Yeah, that's totally it. I'd love to travel the world, taking pictures and seeing everything.

The Rejuvenating Jamie asks: Can you sing the Big Mac song without a second thought even though you haven't heard it in years?
M8BE: I can't! I can't believe I can't. And I'm a Big Mac lover. Le sigh. Food FAIL.

The Nebulous Nisa asks: Who in the world is Jesse McCartney?
M8BE: *jaw drops, no words* *shaking head sadly* Nisa, baby, you need to click on over to and type in Jesse McCartney. I love "Beautiful Soul" and "Leavin'". And a whole lot more. I like my Jesse McCartney station so much, I ran out of free hours this month. I guess you can only listen for 40 hours before you have to pay. Wait. That's not too many hours, right? Natch.

So there you have it. My life in a blog post. Well, and yesterday's post. And this one too. All right, maybe I am like the Mariana Trench. It's your call.

Anything I left out you're dying to know? Lay it on me.

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