Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In Which I Answer All Your Deepest Questions

Well, I opened the blog for questions a week or so ago. I know you've been on the edges of your seats for the answers. *snarf* So here's some answers for you.

The marvelouso Marybeth asks: Does it upset you when people type in all CAPS?
Magic 8 Ball Elana (M8BE): I'm infuriated! SO INFURIATED!! (ha ha ha!)

The Lovely Lisa asks: Who is your favorite superhero?
M8BE: Wolverine, all the way. Have you seen those claws. Holy yum. And the sideburns aren't bad either. *Shaky sigh*

The Totally Tubular TereLiz asks: Did you ever make one of those awful mistakes (when you were a teen, possibly) to alter your appearance? Hair dye horror, piercings gone awry. what have you?
M8BE: Dude, no. I was a total straight arrow. Goodie two-shoes. Band geek. Rule-follower. Home on time type of girl. It's only now that I'm an adult that I can't go out in public unless my hair is not it's natural color. It's black now, and I swear one summer when I get really brave I'm going to do pink on my spikes in the back. I just need some Brave pills or something.

The Awesome Aubrey asks: Do you believe in ghosts, aliens, elves, or bigfoot?
M8BE: No, no, no, and no. Okay, ghosts yes. But only in novels. I am writing a book about ghosts.

The Daring Diana asks: Here's a random question that only applies if you've ever seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off... Who do you most relate to and why: the sister, the friend, the girlfriend or Ferris?
M8BE: Who hasn't seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off? I have that freaking movie memorized. Favorite line: "Never had a lesson." ROTFL! Ahem. Back to the question. Um, this is a really hard one. Probably the sister. Cuz she never gets a break and Ferris always does. She always gets in trouble and he never does. It's the whole injustice thing.

The Naughty NWA (who I'm met last week! Anonymous? I think not.) asks: Original Star Wars or prequel trilogy?
M8BE: Oh, the prequel, baby. Mostly because I enjoy Hayden Christensen (as Anakin Skywalker, the teen years) so much. So sue me. BTW, my DH would d-i-e if he knew I liked the prequels more than the originals. Mums the word, 'kay?

Bruschetta or salsa?
M8BE: If I knew what bruschetta was, maybe I'd choose that. So I better go with salsa.

Chocolate or vanilla?
M8BE: Both. Twist cone, baby.

The Incredible Ina asks: Harry Potter or Twilight?
M8BE: This isn't a real question, is it? Harry Potter, all the way.

Times New Roman or Courier?
M8BE: TNR, hands down.

Outlining or writing it out?
M8BE: Writing it out, with lots of brainstorming sessions, crying to friends and runaway plots, er, trains.

The Lucid L.T. Host asks: what is your favorite kind of cake or pie, or both?
M8BE: Well, I'm a cake girl by nature, mostly because I don't like hot fruit. But really, my favorite desert is chocolate cream pie. Yes, I make it myself. I am domestic in spurts.

The Amazing Ali asks: So, Depeche Mode or Thomson Twins?
M8BE: Dude, Depeche Mode. Thomson Twins? Puh-lease.

Which came first, the chicken, or the egg?
M8BE: The egg. Starts with an E. *wink*

Why did you decide to start dying your hair black and impersonate Adam Lambert? (ha! JK - I knew he copied YOUR look.)
M8BE: Yeah, well. I did take his picture to my stylist. But I've wanted my hair like that for a while. I took a picture of a woman at Gardner Village who had the hairstyle I wanted. Yes, a complete stranger. But it was AL who put me over the top and gave me the guts to actually let my stylist cut and dye and dye and cut.

That's it for today!! I'll have some more answers tomorrow. Are you surprised by any of this, really? I am practically an open book.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Own Worst Judge

It's time to tell the truth again.

Here's goes: I'm my own worst judge. And coupled with that is the fact that I expect myself to be perfect.

Which, of course, is impossible.

I'm going through my manuscript again. Revising. Editing. Strengthening. Streamlining. Quickening. Bettering.

This is great and all. I can't say I'm particularly enjoying it because I've gone all George and am doing things I've never done before. But the need to "get it right" is strong.

Overpowering almost.

And even though I don't really need to line edit, I am. Every sentence I read, I think "Holy brown cows, girl! You sent this to an agent??" And then a vein of panic slices into my subconscious.

It's that whole worst judge thing. I keep repeating a few choice lines someone said to me and then I'm able to move past the paralyzing panic and keep revising.

How do you guys get over the whole perfection thing? Are you your own worst judge? Why do we do that to ourselves?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Choices, Choices

I've said before that I believe that your choices define who you are. I see it time and again with the students I work with, the people around me, and in my own life. I'm a pretty black and white person and I think that the word math is pretty easy:

Choose to act mean + Act mean = people will think you're a mean person.

It doesn't matter if you're really not a mean person. It doesn't matter if you acted out of anger, or frustration or whatever. The math remains true. Your choices define who you are.

So how does this apply to writing? I think it's ingrained in the characterization of the people we write about. We all want to create compelling characters that tug at the hearts of our readers. We want our characters to be unique, likeable, struggling, desperate, dispicable, evil, kind, or whatever.

So how do you do that? You can't just say, "He was kind." or "She was mean." That's the whole Show, Don't Tell rule.

I think you have to make your characters make choices. What they choose to do, will define what kind of person they are. Their choices will characterize them for you. You have to decide what kind of person your character is, not just what they do. Don't confuse who your character is with the hobbies they enjoy. This is a fine line that may be blurry for lots of us. I know it is for me. But I don't think it's enough to just give your character "stuff" that they "do" to make them different. I think it has to be done on a deeper level. You have to bring out who they are, and that will influence their choices--including the ones where they decide which hobbies they enjoy.

Ask yourself questions like these:
1. Does Kate just like to run? Or is she a runner?
2. Is cooking something Adam does? Or is he a chef? (Cuz I cook, but dude, I'm no chef.)
3. What's the real reason Vi breaks so many Rules? (Ha! Yes, that's from my book. And it's not because Rule-breaking is something she likes to do. It's because of who she is.) ((I like this question a lot. I think you should be asking yourself this as you write: "What's the real reason Super Awesome Character does This or That or The Other?" And I think the answer should always come down to them choosing why they do something because of who they are.))

I think it's okay to have "stuff your character does". Don't get me wrong about that. Everyone has hobbies that put them in certain social groups. But really, I don't care if someone can cook or set a new swimming record. I want to know them on a more personal level. When something uber-hard comes at them (which in fiction, is the basis of the book, right?) how do they act? What choices do they make? And are those in line with who they are?

If not, what you've given your characters as "personality traits" might just be hobbies. You'll have to decide.

And now I'm going to go all blasphemous on you. Well, maybe not. But I've heard people say that they are writers. It's who they are. Ready for the shocking part? *whispers* I don't feel that way.

I love writing. I enjoy how I feel when I write. I adore creating people and watching their journey. I really really love it. But writing is not who I am. It's something I really love to do. It's something that helps me find the person I really am. It allows me to help other people find out who they really are. By choosing to write, I discover who I am--and who I am not.

Because I know myself, I can make the choice to write, persist through rejection, drive myself to do better. And the point of hobbies, I think, is to develop those qualities that define us (like hard work, determination, perseverance, etc.). Now, can hobbies become deeper, become who we are?

Honestly, I think so, but it takes a long time. And by then, we've learned so many things about ourselves, that we can become anything we choose.

What do you guys think?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Goin' George

Have you seen that Seinfeld episode where George Costanza decides to do everything the exact opposite of what he's done in the past?

Yeah, that's me.

I've gone off the complete deep end. It's just that all the stuff I've been doing hasn't been working. And I went to a conference yesterday and Brandon Sanderson said something along the lines of "Don't be afraid to try something you've never done before."

I'm sure that's not what came out of his mouth, but that's what I heard inside my own head. And I decided he's right. So, fully embracing my new identity, I went to a class on story arc, plotting, and a whole bunch of other stuff I don't normally think much about.

I'm goin' George!! I just figured it's time to do something different--especially if I want different results. What do you guys think? Is it good to switch up your approach to writing and publishing every now and then? Why or why not? And what do you do to keep it fresh?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


It has come to my attention that a secret has been spilled about me. So in an attempt to thwart such thoughts as "Elana is deep," I bring you today's blog post, courtesy of my better half (AKA, Mr. J.).

My husband teaches sixth grade. Trust me, you'd want to be twelve again just to be in his class. He is that funny, witty, good. Anyway, so last week he was teaching his kids how to summarize. They had read this article about BATS. When he first modeled writing, he accidentally wrote BUTS. Then he changed it and moved on with his life.

But the kids did not.

Oh, no. Kids don't move on from buts very easily.

They kept laughing and finally Mr. J was like, "What's so funny?"

And the kids go, "We keep thinking of 'but' instead of 'bat'."

So Mr. J did what any self-respecting sixth-grade teacher would do. He changed all the "bats" to "buts." And then they read the summary out loud.

Here's the summary in its entirety.


Buts can seem very scary. In fact, many people are afraid of buts. But after reading Merlin D. Tuttle’s article, “But Man” I’ve realized that buts are actually smart, amazing creatures.

There are all types of buts; however, they are all mammals, and they all have wings. Some buts have suckers on their feet. Some are small, but others are very large. As you can see, buts are all very different from each other.

Buts eat a variety food. Some eat fruit and nectar. Others seeds and plants. They are not picky eaters. Many buts are carnivores, eating lizards, rodents, birds, and even other buts.

In order to get their food, buts use all kinds of hunting techniques. Most buts use echolocation. They use sound to locate food. Others use sight and smell to locate their prey. One kind of but even hunts on the ground. The frog-eating but can tell whether a frog is poisonous just by listening to its sound.

Buts can live in a variety of places. They can make their own homes from leaves or from burrowing in logs and trees. Many buts live in caves.

Mr. Tuttle and But Conservation International (BCI) have helped people see that buts are not scary creatures. Now, people even come from all over the world to see the buts in Austin Texas where BCI is located. They have done a great job telling the truth about buts.

See why you want to be in sixth grade again?? (Me = ROTFL) My favorite part is where the buts eat other buts. Can't...stop...laughing...

Do you have a funny story to share? Lay it on me! I need a good laugh.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's The Big Idea?

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, as evidenced by the discussion yesterday. Today's topic: the big idea.

Recently, I've had the scary thought that my ideas, while great, are not "big" enough. So I've been stewing about it. Trying to think of "big idea" books and isolating what makes their idea stand above the rest. I know--you didn't think I was so deep, didja?

Well, I am. I'm like the ocean. No, the Mariana Trench.


So I've been trying to see what makes an idea big. And by that, I mean marketable. Saleable. Oh-freak-an-agent-is-calling-me big.

And I've failed. I've looked at people I know who have sold books. At those who have agents and are waiting to sell their book. At people whose books I've read and yet they have no agent. Then I moved outside my circle of friends and looked at published books. And finally my own work.

And I'm coming up blank--or at least with a lot of conflicting "ideas". So I'm asking you: in your opinion, what makes an idea "big"?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Responsibility of Authors

So today is Tuesday. And I've been thinking about something truthful to say for Tell The Truth Tuesday.

My girl kidlet has been listening to the Safety Kids CD's, so here's what I've been stewing on.

I think authors have the responsibility to show authentic consequences for the bad behavior of their characters. Especially in young adult literature, with underage protagonists doing dangerous and often illegal things.

I'm not saying authors can't have their characters doing "bad" things like drinking and smoking and doing drugs. I'm just going to go out on my limb and say that authors have the solemn responsibility to show the consequences of those things.

I'm sure many of you have seen that video that's circulating. The one about the accident that stemmed from a teen that was texting while driving. That's real. A real-world consequence for bad behavior. Bad things happen when humans make bad choices. So we must paint the accurate picture in our novels.

In a world where teens (and a lot of adults) think they're invincible, think they can do whatever they want without repercussions, I believe authors should portray the natural consequences of those actions. Life has consequences, no matter what parents do or don't do. No matter if you believe in God or not.

And that's the truth.

What do you think? Do you as an author have the responsibility to show authentic consequences for the bad behavior of the characters in your novel?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Magic? Did Someone Say Magic?

I love magic. Love it. I love reading about it. I love stories that have magic in them. Because the possibilities are endless. The spells, the words you can use, the places you can go. Just thinking about it gives me a little shiver. Man, I love magic.

So it makes sense that I would write a story about magicians. Yeah, except writing a society with magic is really hard. There has to be a price for everything. Specific laws. That kind of thing. So while I've decided to rewrite the entire book from blank pages, I've learned that I still love my magic system.

Here's a little snippet from the newly written first chapter in my book that used to be called Shadows and then The Mirror. It's called, but I don't know quite what. I have about 11,000 words rewritten.

Jon shook the troubling thoughts of his parents away. They weren't allowed in his circle of wheat. The wind rustled the stalks, whispering things only he could hear. He ignored the taunts, the hisses of darker magic and more power.

Ever since he'd been able to speak, the voices had been there. Teasing. Enticing. His father said it was the burden of a magician with Jon's talent. Jon didn't know what that talent was. He couldn't perfect the spell his father wanted.

No one could.

Humans weren't meant to be immortal.

Carolyn did a blog post about magical rules last week. Be sure to check it out. And the fine folks over at The Literary Lab have a short story contest going on right now for all genres of fiction. So check that out too.

Do you like magic? Or are you more into something a little less speculative? If so, what keeps you away from the paranormal? The magic? I'm drawn to it like stink on a skunk. What are you drawn to in reading and writing?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Magic 8 Ball, Elana Style

Okay, so today I'm going to open up the blog. Ask me anything. About myself. About life, the universe, college football, whatever. As the saying goes in my family, if I don't know, I can find out in three days or less. *wink*

To get the (Magic 8) ball rolling, I'm going to tell you a couple of things about me you may or may not know. Maybe you're violently opposed to one of these and that will spark a question.

Music I listen to a lot. Thanks, Pandora.

  • Taylor Swift - "Should've Said No" and "You Belong With Me"
  • Jason Mraz - "I'm Yours"
  • Matt Nathanson - "Come On, Get Higher"
  • Kelly Clarkson - "I Do Not Hook Up"
  • Adam Lambert - "Mad World"
  • Ne Yo - "Mad"
  • Jesse McCartney - well anything by JM. I mean, the station is named after him, so I think it's safe to say I like him. A lot.

Random Ish You Might Find Amusing:

  • I eat those French fried onion things like potato chips. Garnish? I think not. More like meal. Yum.
  • I wish Novak Djokovic would've beaten Roger Federer in the US Open on Sunday. Mostly because I like yelling, "Come on, Joker!" at the TV and one night of that was not enough.
  • I don't like mushrooms in any shape, form or variety. Fungus? Um, no.
  • I absolutely cannot stand how rain feels on my skin. I hate being outside in the bad weather. My son thinks I have a phobia of water. Yeah, my list of phobias is long, but it doesn't include water. We got into a big discussion about exactly why I don't like the rain to touch my skin. It ended with me saying, "It has nothing to do with water. There's no rational explanation. Drop it!" Then I realized that I am not a rational person. Son: 1. Me: 0, and possibly insane.

So...anything else you're dying to know? And not just about me. About anything. I have a Magic 8 Ball standing by. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Believers

I'm reading an amazing book. I've read a lot of amazing books in my lifetime. I love love love reading. I like going on an adventure with people I care about. I like learning new things, tasting things I've never tasted, seeing sights I've never seen. I like mysteries. I enjoy feeling smart when I figure them out first. I adore everything there is about books.

So back to this fabulous book. I'm reading it. It's awesome. I'm crying in some parts. Mad in others. I finally close it after ignoring my kidlets for three hours, yet I'm still staring at the cover. Sometimes I reach over and stroke it.

And I wonder: What makes this book so different from mine?

There could be a myriad (love that word!) of things. But really what it boils down to is this: The Believers.

This author has Believers. Namely, an agent. An editor. A publishing house.

I have Believers in my corner too. Friends, online and real life. Critique buddies. Blogosphere friends. Forum members. And most of all, myself. One day, I'll have the "big" Believers--the agent, the editor, the publishing house.

Who are your Believers?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Do You Know Who This Is?

Dude, you should.

Okay, it's confession time. I have branched out beyond reality TV. This is shocking, I know. Especially since the new season of Survivor starts on Thursday--and that's the original reality show. But, man, as a tried-and-true (band) geek, the new show on Fox--GLEE--has me smiling. Still.

Seriously grinning. Every time I hear Rihanna's song, Take a Bow, I feel GLEE.

When Wednesday comes, there's only one way to describe me: GLEEFUL.

I even so much as think about dancing and singing combined with high school and I'm grinning like I've gone of the GLEE end. Seriously.

I'm so glad it's Wednesday. No. Not glad. GLEE. I'm so GLEE today.  

Do I have an addictive personality? You decide.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ambition, I Haz It

am-bi-tion (noun): a strong desire to do or to achieve something typically requiring determination and hard work

Why do we feel this "strong desire"? I amaze myself sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I'm like the queen of sitting in front of the TV watching tennis or whatever. I also spend a lot of time in front of the computer. However, I found one of my lists from last week, and I nearly cried just looking at it. (Just FYI, I'm a list person, and I sometimes make a list AFTER I've done most of the items on it. This makes me feel accomplished. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.)

Anyway, here's my list:

  • Fill out DH's graduation papers.
  • Fax graduation papers.
  • Pay for graduation.
  • Grade 90 sixth grade essays.
  • Launch ebook.
  • Prepare brand new Query Ninja blog.
  • Boy kidlet - soccer practice/games.
  • Boy kidlet - flag football practice/games.
  • Boy kidlet - rockets on Friday. Build, glue, sand, paint.
  • Go to work.
  • Farmville on Facebook. Crops are dying! Animals need harvesting! Trees are going to seed!
  • Pick up T-shirt for writing conference (Oh, my heck, you guys, it's SO. CUTE.)

  • Mop floor.
  • Write - deadline for WiP is this Friday!
  • Check email.
  • Clean 3 bathrooms.
  • Grocery shopping.
  • Change laundry.
  • Girl kidlet - dance.
  • Boy kidlet - piano lessons.
  • Re-fax graduation papers for DH.
  • Pay bills.
  • Obsessively check to see if the tax return has come yet. (It hasn't.)
  • Write - deadline for WiP is this Friday!
  • Blog.
  • Read blogs. Comment. A lot.
  • Facebook.
  • Rally Storm.
  • Critique 70 pages.
  • Vacuum.
  • Dishes.
  • Go to work.
  • Watch tennis.
  • Update website.
  • Create banner.
  • Find the perfect blogger template.

And on top of all that, I wrote the two best words in the English language: THE END. That's right, bloggy friends! I finished my WiP early! Four days early, according to my self-imposed deadline. I wrote those words on Monday and haven't looked back. It feels amazing.

I know there's more hard work ahead of me. Editing. Rewriting. Bleeding over the critiques. But, hey, ambition. I haz it.

How do you find time/energy/willpower "to achieve something typically requiring determination and hard work"?

Monday, September 14, 2009


I know there's been some hype over the release of From the Query to the Call, an interactive ebook for writers.

And now it's finally here!!

Click the buttons below to order. Buttons can also be found up above, and on the official From the Query to the Call website.

But that is not all, my friends. Oh, no. I said I was going to have something special for the first 20 people, but I'm going to renege (isn't that a great word?).

Because, not one, not five, not twenty, but every person who purchases From the Query to the Call gets an added bonus. A query critique by the Query Ninja. That's me, by the way. You can see what you might get by clicking on my brand spanking new blog.

I know, I know. I swore I would never be one of those people who has four blogs. Sadly, I do. Le sigh. But I wanted to add a bonus for those who buy the ebook. So the deal is this: You buy the ebook, read it and apply it to your query, and you get to send me the query to shred, er, critique. I'll only post them on the Query Ninja blog if you want me to, but I think it will be a valuable companion and resource to From the Query to the Call.

Purchase your copy now!

Add to Cart

View Cart


Beth Revis's review.
My interview with Beth.

Christine Fonseca's review
My interview with Christine.

Sandra Ulbrich-Almazan's review.

Abby Annis's review.

Robin McCormack's review.

Sara Tribble's review.

My interview with Danyelle Leafty

Jamie Harrington's review.

Windy Aphayrath's review

And The Winner Is...

This past weekend, I launched a Twitter campaign to get the word out about From the Query to the Call. One lucky writer has won a FREE ebook!

And the winner is...

Casey McCormick!!!

(And sidenote: Casey runs an awesome blog, so if you're not following her, dude, you so should be.)

So Casey, email me and I'll get you the goods, okay? Okay. elana (at)

Stay tuned! From the Query to the Call will be officially released in one hour.

Friday, September 11, 2009

FREE Friday!

That's not meant to be read like Free Willy! or anything. It's just Friday and that means that today is a day you can get something for FREE!!

My ebook, From the Query to the Call, to be exact.

You can get 5 entries. Here's how:
1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Tweet about my ebook today.
3. And on Saturday.
4. And on Sunday (by midnight, please).
5. Leave me another comment on this post, telling me how many twitter entries you have, along with your twitter handle so I can follow you!

Use this to tweet: From the Query to the Call, an ebook by @elanaj comes out on Monday, Sept 14! Click here for all the details:

Yes, it's only 135 characters. You're all good.

That's it! If you tweet today and not tomorrow, you still get an entry for today. If you're going to be hosting another football party--oh, wait, that's me--and you forget tomorrow, tweet on Sunday. The book will be released on Monday, so tweets must be made by Sunday at midnight, MST. I'll be back here on Monday, before the release, to announce the winner.

That's the free stuff.

Not sure you want to buy the book? Um, dude, you do. But just in case you need some convincing, check out these posts.

Beth Revis's review.
My interview with Beth.

Christine Fonseca's review
My interview with Christine.

Sandra Ulbrich-Almazan's review.

Abby Annis's review.

Robin McCormack's review.

Sara Tribble's review.

Today is also the last day of the Spread the Word campaign. If you have already participated in this, please email me at elana (at) and let me know so I can send you the discount code. It's not too late to participate! (Hey! That rhymes!) If you blog about it, tweet about it, Facebook about it--there's even a Facebook fan page--just email me and let me know. I've seen people do this already (THANK YOU!), but I'm not going to give out the code publicly. You must email me. So email me! I love email anyway. Who doesn't??

Oh, and Lisa and Laura--major contributors to From the Query to the Call--are hosting a similar contest like this on their blog. Check it out, because you can see a little taste of what you'll find in the ebook on their blog today.

Oh, and I have something special for the first 20 buyers of From the Query to the Call, coming up on Monday, September 14. So set your alarms if you need to!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thankful Thursday - Teachers

When's the last time you were in a classroom? A real one, like non-college or high school. Like elementary school, yeah, let's go with elementary school. Have you been to an elementary school recently?

They're awesome. Here's why.

I went to my husband’s classroom last week. Or maybe two weeks ago. Or it might have been at the beginning of August. It doesn’t matter.

Because in his room, shelves line the entire back wall. These shelves hold magic. These shelves hold books. New worlds. Funny people I want to meet and cry with and laugh with and hug. Mean girls I want to see fall on their faces. Magicians. Boys who can draw terrible things and fly like the wind and ride horses and save kingdoms.

Classrooms house joy. They house printed books. None of the students have e-readers or Kindle’s or discuss if books should come in different formats. They hold power in their hands. They hold books.

And that is why books will always be published in the traditional way. For there is no thrill in lightly running your finger down the spine of your Kindle. Or flipping the pages of your iPhone. Or opening a new book and breathing in the scent that is unmistakably wonder.

So this Thursday, I am thankful. For books, in all their varieties. For teachers and students and parents who buy books. For authors who write them. Publishers who print them.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

WiP Wed

Today is a lucky day. It's 09-09-09. That only happens once a year and only for the first twelve years of a new century. Is it your lucky day? If so, spill!

As for me, I've been steadily working on my WiP. I participated in Julie Butcher's #wordathon on twitter this past weekend. I need to finish this book I started over the summer. And I wrote 6200 words! I'm almost almost done; I'm on target to meet my self-imposed deadline of next Friday. And that makes me happy. It's more like joy. Or ecstasy.

I've been doing a few last minute tweaks on the ebook. Since I bought the software to convert it from Word to .PDF, I can do it a million times a day. Not that I do that or anything...but I could if I wanted to change just that--one--last--word. I've been working on making it available for iPhone and iPod Touch users, something I hope will happen soon after the release. Other than that, promotion is the biggest item on my plate for the ebook. And let me tell you, I have a whole new appreciation for authors who do their own promotion. It's scary and hard and sort of unchartered territory for me, but I've learned so, so much. And that's invaluable.

How's your week been?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Truth...From Bambi

So here's the thing. Mean people get under my skin. I think we can all learn a lot if we'd just be quiet and listen. So here's some things I constantly tell myself when someone is talking and I don't agree with the words that are coming out of their mouth. Or what they've typed on their blog. Or Facebook. Or whatever.

  • You are not always right.
  • There are at least five sides to every story.
  • Consider their point of view.
  • What can you learn from what they're saying?
  • They're entitled to their own opinion. Just listen, don't speak. And certainly don't interrupt.

And most of all: Kindness is king.

I tell my students at the beginning of every year that it's their choices that define who they are. The speech goes something like this: "If you want people to think you're a nice person, you must CHOOSE to act nice. Say nice things. If you want people to think you're a hard worker, you must CHOOSE to work hard. If you want people to think you're helpful, you must CHOOSE to help them. If you want people to think you're a good listener, you must CHOOSE to listen. On the other hand, if you act mean, say mean things, people will think you're mean."

Pretty simple, right? Kids get it. I rarely have any problems, and if I do, I simply ask the student what other people might be able to decide about them based on their choices. Would they be able to say you're a good friend when you spread rumors? Would they be able to say you're nice when you're rolling your eyes at their shoes/shirt/hair style?

And so, I take my lesson from Bambi each and every day. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

What about you? Do you have to mentally coach yourself the way I do? Do you believe your choices define who you are?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Gangsta Style

Okay, let's have some fun. First, I'll let you inside my head. I had to go to a meeting a month or so ago. It was not a meeting I was looking forward to. It was summer, I didn't want to go, and the meeting was about making a schedule for a bunch of other people to follow.

Luckily, the three other people in the meeting are some of my favorite people who breathe oxygen. So I'm at the meeting and we're hammering out the schedule. Checking how many kids are in each class. Calling other principals. Reading a chart that someone from Jupiter made, cuz that thing was a beast. In order to read the chart, you had to attend graduate school for four years and obtain two Ph.D's. So since I'm the one with the math minor (not two Ph.D's, mind you) I've got the chart. I finally figure it out and the four of us think we've worked out a schedule that everyone is just going to love. How could they not? (insert snarfage and heavy sarcasm here)

With me still? So since I'm also sort of witty sometimes, (usually only on Mondays, which this meeting was on a Monday) I was designated as the official email writer. So the other three people are dictating and I'm typing the email.

And I happened to give one of the people a nickname. I'm all over nicknames. I really like them. My DH gives them to our kids, his students at school, even me. He calls them rapper names, I call them Gangsta names. Details, schmetails.

So I made one up for this guy. Let's call him Zach Attack. So ever since then, he's been trying to come up with a gangsta name for me. Which, I must admit, thrills me to no end. I've always wanted to have a gangsta name. (In high school, I went by "Lane" or "Lanie" or pretty much anything else that started with an L or an E.)

Problem: my name is, well, not that easily adapted to gangsta style. But he's been working on it with his team. That's right. A whole team. So he comes in the computer lab last week to run a couple of the names by me.

The one we like best: EJ Jamma.

My DH hates it. He thinks E-Jamma would be better. So I need some help. What should my gangsta name be?

Here's some I've come up with for some gangsta friends of mine. If you imagine a gangsta accent and like me swinging my arms with my fingers splayed out and some baggy pants and my hat on sideways and some serious bling, it really helps. Trust me.

Christine Fonseca: Fonz-C. (Yo, yo, yo, Fonz-C. How's the WiP?)

Suzette Saxton: Z-Shizzle (Have your peeps call mine, Z-Shizzle. We'll do lunch.)

Bethany Wiggins: Wigs (He-ey! Wigs is in da house! *imagine the heavy gold chainz and you'll be there with me*)

Michelle McLean: Triple M Stack (Triple M Stack is bustin' out the wordage, yo.)

Heather Dyer: HDMD (Dude, HDMD, keepin' it real.) many of your are uber-creative. What have you got for a name like Elana Johnson? And this picture totally made me laugh. Cuz, well, E-Jamma and Zach Attack, yeah, we're pretty much like these guys. Can't...stop...laughing!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sneak Peek Candidates Wanted!

Job opening: From the Query to the Call Ebook Reviewers to participate in an email campaign.

1. Must read English.
2. Must have a blog where you will post your review of From the Query to the Call no later than Friday, September 11.
3. Must be willing to personally email 10 aspiring authors about From the Query to the Call no later than Monday, September 14.

Positions available: 25

That’s right! I need YOU! I’m willing to provide From the Query to the Call at a severely discounted price ($5) to 25 people who are willing to help me reach authors I don’t know. If you think this is something you can do, apply to elana (at)

What you’ll do:
1. Receive From the Query to the Call for $5.
2. Read the ebook.
3. Give a review on your blog no later than Friday, September 11. Provide links to the Facebook fan page and Query to Call website.
4. Email 10 aspiring authors about the ebook no later than Monday, September 14. (This is an email outreach effort. Tell them about the book. The fan page on Facebook. The website. Why they should buy it.)

I don’t think this will take very long for anyone who applies. And you’ll be getting the ebook for 67% off! I happen to think that’s worth a lot.

What you’ll get from me:
1. Free publicity. I’ll put your name here on my blog as a Sneak Peek Reviewer, with a link to your review. I have almost 200 followers and twice that many subscribers. That’s 600 people who see my feed every day.

2. Undying gratitude.

Again, this is an EMAIL campaign. And the 10 authors you email must be people I don’t know. Now, how will you know this? Trust me, I think you’ll know. For example, Michelle McLean wouldn’t be able to email Christine Fonseca or Windy Aphayrath or Amanda Bonilla or Suzanne Palmeiri. She knows I know those people. You know? You know if you have writers you communicate with that I don’t. And if you don’t know that, ask me, okay? Okay. I’m willing to practically give away my product, but only if the product is going to get to people I normally can’t reach by myself.

Apply to elana (at) Applications will be taken until the positions are filled.

Have a great weekend!

Life As We Know It, Is Over

Now that it's fall, my regular life is over. I am now morphing into my I'm-smiling-but-I-wish-this-game-had-ended-an-hour-ago self.

I have a love/hate relationship with fall. Here's why:

The weather
The fall foliage (ooh, nice word choice!)

School starting
How early it gets dark
How my whole life is interrupted by college football.

See, I live with a fan. That's not even strong enough for what my DH is. He should've been born in like, Texas or something. I think he sweats footballs. Or face paint. Thus, every weekend, our house is overrun with rabid football fans. Hungry men. Shouting fanatics. Complete depression if "we" lose.

And you know what? I love it.

That's why I have a love/hate relationship with fall--and why I have my own version of the "game face."

How are your relationships? Do they make as much sense as mine? Yeah, probably not. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'll Show You Mine...

Yeah, you clicked on that because you're a sick, sick person. You know you did.

Anyway, today I'm tackling the art of comparison. Katie left a comment last week in the advice post that said, "Don't Compare."

So I'm going to start with a story. Some of you have been reading for a while. You've read my Confession of a Unibrow.

Well, you know what? I plucked that bad boy. It hurt. A lot. I just didn't want to be Bert (from Bert and Ernie) anymore, and in my people-watching, I noticed that no one else had a unibrow. Well, my girl kidlet does, but only because she's been cursed with my genes. Anyway. So I plucked because I didn't want to be the only one with a lame unibrow.

We compare ourselves to everyone. My hair looks better than hers. Her clothes are cuter than mine (I always lose with clothes. Always. I wear stuff from the 90's. Lisa and Laura could put me on their blog. Srsly). I have more college credits. I wrote more words. She drives faster. He got more comments. The list could go on and on. And on.

So back to the advice: Don't compare.

I think that's freaking brilliant.


Why is it so hard to do?

Even when I'm reading published books, I'm comparing them to mine. Sometimes I think mine is just as good. Sometimes I know it's not. Sometimes I think mine is better. I can't help myself.

Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of confidence in myself. (I know, I know, complete 180 from last week, right?) I think, for me, it's recognizing that a rose will never look like a snapdragon.


Both flowers are beautiful in their own right. Both are soil-worthy. Both smell nice. Both bring a smile to my face. I don't try to compare them.

Once I started looking at books like this, I've done a much better job of separating mine out, and keeping the comparisons to things like, "Well, we both used the words 'the', 'and', and 'was'." You know?

So how do you win the Comparison War?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

WiP Wedne--Batman Blogger!

Yes, I get distracted easily. This was going to be a report of my progress. I'm going to get to it. Promise.

But Abby made the kewlest Batman Blogger badge based on my post last week. Here it is!

Then Eric made it into an award, and conjured up the image of me wearing a cape, leaping from rooftops. Um, yeah, who doesn't do that in their spare time? Pshaw.

So I forward the Batman Blogger onto these kewl peeps:
5. Carrie Harris - she loves superheroes! Yay!
Okay, onto Work in Progress Wednesday stuff. I'm so freaking excited to announce that my upcoming ebook, From The Query the The Call will be released soon soon soon! This ebook has everything an aspiring author needs, including (but not limited to) a step-by-step guide to writing a query letter, researching agents, sending submissions and fielding "the call." 

It will launch just in time for the fall querying season on Monday, September 14, and you can click here to become a fan on Facebook. Anyone who helps me promote it by announcing it on their blog or website or facebook or twitter or whatever will get a discount! So mark your calendars, okay? Okay.

On the fiction front, I've been playing avoidance. But my current WiP only has about 7,000 unwritten words. I've set a goal to have those words on screen by Friday, September 18. That's only 500 words a day. Totally doable.

So what have you accomplished this week, writing or otherwise? I played tennis--got slaughtered--but that was a major accomplishment. I didn't make anyone cry last week, another major goal. What have you done?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tell The Truth Tuesday...Sort Of

Dude! THE HOLLOW came out today! I've read this book and you need to read it too! It's fan-freaking-tastic!

There's Jessica Verday at the bookstore, looking at her beautiful books! Order yours from Amazon or go pick it up! You won't be sorry.

And now on to the Tell the Truth portion of this post. Katie Anderson started this last week over at Plot This. I did a lame version on Monday--the day I seriously was considering just walking away from the whole writing thing.

Because let's face it: Writing is hard work.

That's my truth moment for this week. I used to sit down and read and take the writing for granted. Like the author just chillaxed in front of the computer and the words poured magically from wherever magical words pour from and then they got it published with a sweet cover to match the sweet story inside.

Um, not so much.

Writing is hard hard hard. It takes discipline. Heartache. Patience. Willpower. And absolute love. And that, my friends, is why I could not quit. I absolutely love it. Hard work and all.

I am a writer.

What's your "truth moment" for this week?

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