Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Declare Today...

No email day! I think I've professed my great love of email before. But dude. I am exhausted. Every time I think I'm caught up, I get like 25 more.

So today, now, as of this moment, I'm declaring a complete and total email freezeout for the next 24 hours. I just can't take anymore!

I might really hate this decision tomorrow when I get on to check my email, but for now, I'm at the edge of the cliff. And I'm jumping. So, don't email me, and if you do, don't expect an answer until tomorrow.

What's overwhelming you right now? What normally doesn't bother you that has become a thorn in your side? I'm lookin' at you, Gmail.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

From Query Letter to Cover Copy

Okay, so I teach some classes on writing query letters. It's kind of fun, because I have a powerpoint presentation, but I don't have a script. Which means the class is different every time I teach it, because you never know what's going to come out of my mouth. #beafraid

So I was teaching a couple of weeks ago, and I said something that I totally believe is true. I teach that the query letter has four parts, and that the author should be able to draw a box around each part, thus evaluating every word in their letter.

Then I said something like, "Every word needs to be boxed up." meaning that every single word in the query letter counts. Every single one has to either A) drive the reader through the letter or B) reveal character and/or plot.

Then I showed my cover.

At the top it says, "Control or be controlled."

Then I showed my query letter.

In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them to pieces.

After committing her eighth crime (walking in the park after dark with a boy, gasp!), Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control the Goodgrounds. She’s found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn’t think it’s a word either) and exiled to the Badlands—until she demonstrates her brainwashing abilities. That earns her a one-way trip to appear before the Association of Directors.

Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen. She busts out of prison with sexy Bad boy Jag Barque, who also has no intention of fulfilling his lame sentence.

Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father issues, and coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend—and Jag as a possible new one—leave Vi little time for much else. Which is too damn bad, because she’s more important than she realizes. When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled.

How did it end? "Control or be controlled."

I wrote my cover copy.

In my query letter.

A very long time ago.

And that's why every single word in the query letter is crucial. You never know which ones are going to make it all the way through to the book.'s your query letter writing going? What do you need help with in that regard? Trust me, no one understands query angst like I do. Remember, I sent a few. And by "a few," I mean "hundreds." Tomato, tomahto.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why I Like Bacon Like Vampires Like Blood

It's more a need, a craving. I mean, it's bacon. Salted, cured meat. How can anyone pass it up??

So just like vampires have this extreme craving, this unquenchable thirst for blood, I feel this way about my salted, cured meats.

Especially bacon. The crispiness. The salty explosion on your tongue.

I love it. I cannot get enough of it. Just thinking about bacon makes my mouth water. I'm sure vampires go through this too. I've read enough stories to feel their hunger, see their delight at the thought of bacon, er, blood.

It's one of my favorite foods. What do you like they way vampires like blood? (Translation: What's your favorite food?)

Monday, September 27, 2010


No, I totally don't mean the kind where you get your bathrooms cleaned. But that would be awesome!

Anyway, there's a few things I have to tie up, and I'm using today to do it.

1. WriteOnCon Live Panel!

It's tonight, on the WriteOnCon site, at 9 PM EST. Be there or be square. We've got two literary agents--Jessica Sinsheimer and Roseanne Wells--and two editors--Jocelyn Davies (Penguin) and Kari Sutherland (HarperCollins).

You so don't want to miss this. (And the winners to all the WOC giveaways will be up on Tuesday!)

2. The Great Blogging Experiment. I can't even think of the words to describe this awesomeness. If you missed it, you can click here to see my post and then all the other people who signed up. If you forgot, post yours and send me a link.

I think I got to all the posts, but there were several of you who snuck in after I'd read. And some of you who didn't have your posts up when I went to your blogs. If I missed yours, send me an email with the link.

It was fabulous. I think I might get to keep my kidney.

3. Winners. I had a contest on my blog for signed copies of LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden and BREAK by Hannah Moskowitz. I used to determine the winners.

LOSING FAITH: Joseph D Miller

Please email me (elanajohnson (at) gmail (dot) com) with your mailing address, so I can get these books out to you.

Whew. I think that's it. What else did I miss? What loose ends do you need to tie up?

Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Write Compelling Characters

Dude! It's Friday, September 24--which means The Great Blogging Experiment is underway. Today, over 150 people (holy. chocolate. cows. I will try to get to every post) will be talking about Writing Compelling Characters.

It's an experiment, because I believe wholeheartedly that every single post today will be unique. Because we're all unique. I hope I'm not wrong, but I suppose anything is possible. ;-)

So let's get to it. How to write compelling characters.

I only have one bit of advice: Exaggerate their humanness.

1. Humans have flaws.
2. Humans have secrets.
3. Humans have fears.
4. Humans have emotions.
5. Humans do stupid things and pay the price because of them.
6. Humans grow and change.

So to create a compelling character, they need to do/have these things too. Easy peasy, right? Uh...right.

I think that all characters in a novel should be made human. I'm sort of tired of the perfectly sculpted male in YA lit. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of cute boys (who isn't?), but if they're too beautiful, too fearless, too perfect, I just don't believe it. Even if my MC sees them that way, they can't actually be that way.

I think it's actually more interesting to allow your narrating character to have a glimpse of their boy/girlfriend's humanness. And love them anyway. That's real life.

That's human.

That's compelling.

What do you think? How do you make your characters more human? I actually make note of interesting things I see in the human life around me. That green hat. Those earrings. His personality trait. Her quirks.

And then I exaggerate them into (hopefully) endearing characteristics into (hopefully) compelling characters.

Want more opinions on this? Check out the (amazingly awesome) list below.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden

Okay, so I've been reading more and more realistic fiction. I think I might try my hand at it one day. If I can ever figure it out.

At the same time, I find myself flying through these contemp books. I just finished LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden, and it was a real page-turner. I just had to know what the secrets were. Let's break it down a little more.

Writing: Another present tense first-person narrative, but yet again I really enjoyed the writing. It's fast-paced and unnoticeable. Which means it's good.

Characters: Brie is a fabulous narrator. I found her real and believable, if not a little on the innocent side. Which isn't a bad thing. I just knew something in the book WAY earlier than Brie did, and I sort of wish she could've figured it out. Or at least wonder about it. But you know what? It totally worked in the story, and 

I enjoyed Brie. And I really enjoyed Tessa. Maybe it was her spiky hair, or her spunk and straightforward attitude, or the way she's a real friend to Brie when she needed to be. I don't know, but the secondary cast of characters was fabulous.

Plot/Pacing: There is the whole mysterious death thing that keeps you turning the pages. I read this book over a two-day period and never once wished I'd been given another clue at a crucial point. Denise does a great job of giving you what you need exactly when you need it.

Cover: Okay, I'm partial, since this is a Simon Pulse title, but it's gorgeous. I love how the butterflies come out of the flowers. And I may or may not have a thing for butterflies...

Extra: I'm giving away a signed copy of LOSING FAITH! Click here for details -- contest ends September 26. It's an amazing debut, so make sure you get your copy today!

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:
Christine Fonseca - is showering praise for her BOOKANISTA buds and their covers
Beth Revis recommends INCARCERON
Carolina Valdez Miller dives into DARK WATER
Lisa and Laura Roecker are gushing over some fab covers
Kirsten Hubbard praises PARANORMALCY

What have you read recently that you loved?

And you haven't forgotten about the Writing Compelling Characters Blogging Experiment have you? It's happening tomorrow, and I have a link here. The details are at the bottom of the post.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Name is Elana

Okay, so there's some confusion about my name. I wholeheartedly blame my parents. I mean, seriously, Mom and Dad? So anyway, since it's my name and I'm using it and all that, I'm here to clear up the confusion.

Number 1: I only have one E in my name, and it's at the beginning. The other two vowels are both A's. elAna.

*insert song "My name is Jonas"* It's all I'm thinking as I write this post. "My name is Elana..."

Number 2: You say it "Uh-lay-nuh." Well, that's how I say it. If you're my dad, you say "Ee-lay-nuh." Sometimes my husband says it like this too, and sometimes I do, if I'm in a more formal situation. Go figure. But it is not Ee-lawn-uh.

So yeah. I pretty much answer to anything. And if you forget, just put an I in it. Ela(i)na, and go with that.

Okay, phew. That's off my chest.

Do you guys have a name no one can spell right or pronounce? Does your main character? Because I think that's pretty uh, not good. I don't want to guess at how to pronounce your MC's name. So yeah. Things to consider. And now when we meet in person, you won't have to avoid using my name. (Not that that's ever happened...)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

[Insert Lame Title Here]

Yeah, I can't even title this post. Moving on.

Okay, so I attended the League of Utah Writers Annual Roundup over the weekend. It was pretty dang exciting, if I do say so myself (and not just because I was presenting). My brain is fried, and therefore I'm sure most of my posts this week will be subpar. You've been warned. Like today, I give you a random mishmash on conferences, writing, and life in general. #getexcited

1. James Dashner (best-selling author of The Maze Runner) is pretty awesome to hang out with. Even if he does hog all the horseradish. ;-)

2. I like to chew gum. A lot. I usually chew gum for about 6 hours every day. No lie. Guuummmm.

3. Meeting other authors is awesome. Driving 100 feet to a convenience store is even awesomer. Yeah, walking is totally overrated. And sodas are needed for sanity.

4. I've used awesome four times in this post already. Is that a problem?

5. I randomly pull up my cover just to look at it, even though I know what it looks like. In my defense, this is a step down from just having it open permanently.

6. This "break" I'm taking from writing? It's not a good fit for me. I'm going insane. Remember yesterday's post and why I write? Well, yeah. I'm on edge, almost to the snapping point, so clearly this separation isn't working for me.

7. I wish this school year were over. And in case you didn't know, it's September. And we get out in June. Le sigh.

8. I hate getting my picture taken. More than slow drivers. More than going to Wal-mart, more than just about anything. In fact, I'd rather trudge uphill through snow--both ways--to school than get my picture taken. Again.

9. Finally, some good TV is going to be on this week!! Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, Glee. Man, I love TV.

What's weighing on your mind today? Got some opinions you gotta unload? Lay 'em on me. And what would you have titled this post??

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I Write Young Adult

Okay, so this is a new series I'm starting. No trifecta. #dangitall

Just me. I'm calling it my "Why I" series, and it'll range from writing topics to food to Why I Dye My Hair. Okay, that one is lame, but you get the gist.

Today: Why I Write Young Adult

So I started writing just after Thanksgiving in the year 2007. I never wanted to be a writer (I know, that's like a cardinal sin or something). I hated English. I took the AP test as a junior in high school for the sole purpose of being able to skip English as a senior.

I did not take English in college. I majored in Chemistry Education before switching to Elementary Ed, with a math minor.

That's like, as far from English as you can get.

So I'm teaching school. Raising my family.

Then something devastating happened to me. I won't bore you with the details. But I will say that I vanished. Became ghostly. I disappeared inside my pain. My days were gray. My husband would ask me how my day was, and I couldn't answer.

Because it was just another day and I'd made it through.

I'm sure we've all had times like this in our lives. And if you haven't, color yourself lucky.

So, I'd been living-but-not-living for about three months when Thanksgiving came around. Two weeks later, I'd be turning 30.

So I sat down to write a personal history of the first three decades of my life. And it was theraputic. I could get the yuck out in words.

When the personal history was done, I immediately started writing a novel. It was not something I knew how to do. I'd never looked at books as more than an escape.

And as I was writing my first (very terrible) novel, I realized that all the angst, depression, etc. inside could live on the page. And if it was living on the page, then it wasn't living inside me.

What better character to carry that angst, confusion, anger, hopelessness, mingled with some rays of light (I'm not all thunderheads and frowny faces), than a teenage girl? I mean, seriously.

So that's why I write YA (almost always girls). It's the perfect place for me to unload my emotional baggage. Betcha didn't think I was going to go there, did ya?


Why do you write in the genre you've chosen?

Friday, September 17, 2010

*mumble* *wheeze* *gasp* COVER *cough* *choke* *dies*

Dude, you guys! The cover. MY cover!

I present *clears throat nervously* POSSESSION:

In the words of Stevie Wonder, isn't she lovely? Okay, I'm off to die now. Or maybe just smile a little more.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FIRELIGHT (twitter version) by Sophie Jordan

Okay, people. Be prepared for some sweet reviews today -- because it's Bookanista Thursday!

Today, I've got Firelight by Sophie Jordan, and I'm bringing you my review, twitter style. So strap in for 140 characters or less of pure awesome!

Wow-who doesn't want to just stroke this cover? The girl with scales, the elongated pupil. Stunning. And the font on FIRELIGHT? #coverlove (with 2 characters to spare!)

About Firelight-Finally something new. I mean, dragons! Not vamps. Not weres. *insert Shrek voice* DRAG-ons. And a hot boy. Need I say more? (Exactly 140 characters. And that was holy hard.)

I loved the words. I fell in love with Sophie's writing. This book is in present tense, but it's BRILLIANTLY done. #fabulouswordusage (7 characters left, but I cut a lot of what I wanted to say. #ohwell)

Characters you care about: yes. Jacinda was a fabu narrator. And the boy! Holy fire-breathing dragon my friends. The boy. Read it. Love him. (Exactly 140 characters. I think I deserve a prize.)

So yeah. If you like YA and you're looking for something special and fresh, get Firelight. It's a masterpiece of character and storytelling. (Exactly 140 characters. That's it, I'm buying myself something bacon.)

Question: What book have you read lately that made you breathless? What did it? The characterization or the actual writing? (17 extra characters. Me = twitter review champion!)

Check out what else is going on around the Bookanista-sphere today:
Christine Fonseca is celebrating THE DUFF
Shannon Messenger is loving THE MOCKINGBIRDS
Carolina Valdez Miller is gushing about THE UNIDENTIFIED
Lisa and Laura Roecker are praising NIGHTSHADE CITY
Scott Tracey is ravenous about HUNGER

(-218 characters. Deal with it.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What I Learned from Chopped

Dude, you guys, if you haven't seen the Food Network show Chopped, you're really missing out. In a nutshell, there are four chefs and they get a mystery basket of ingredients. They then have a certain amount of time to create a dish. If theirs isn't good enough, chop! They're gone. If they make it to the end, they win ten grand.

So I love watching this show, because it marries two of my favorite things: reality TV and food. And who knew I'd learn a lesson while watching? But I did. I think it applies to life, but it most definitely fits writing/publishing as well.

So I'm watching, and there's this one chef who is supposed to be fabu, and he works for a world-renowned chef. He got pretty slammed by the judges during one round, and afterward, in the back room all the other chefs were chatting while they waited for the judges to decide who was getting chopped that round.

Fabu chef: "I've had people screaming in my face. That [critique] was nothing."

Other chef: "How do you deal with that?"

Fabu chef: "What do you mean how do you deal with that? You put your head down and work harder."

I jerked my attention back to the TV (I usually fast-forward through these parts, but I was all caught up with live TV) and rewound the clip to listen again.

"You put your head down and work harder."

That's what you do with your writing too. Every critique. Every time you get notes from someone. To get better, you put your head down and work harder.

Oh, and the Fabu Chef got chopped. It just goes to show that everyone has bad days, dark times. Doesn't mean you quit. It means you work harder.

What have you been working hard at? Could you work harder?

One more thing: Nicole Zoltack was drawn to win the Personal Demons swag package from Lisa Desrochers! Congrats! Nicole, please email me so I can get some info from you, okay? Okay. (elanajohnson(at)gmail(dot)com)

Oh! And I have a giveaway up on the WriteOnCon site today!! *squee* Go check it out! I'm excited and terrified in the holy-cow-I-might-puke kind of way. So yeah.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

WriteOnCon Amazing Amazingness

First, have you ever realized how hard it is to title a blog post? Mine are getting lamer and lamer.

But what we have going on today ISN'T lame (thankfully). Announcing...

A WriteOnCon Live Event AND an Epic Giveaway of Epic Epicness! (That's right!)

When: Monday, September 27. 7:00 PM EDT.
Where: WriteOnCon site.
What: A live chat with industry professionals!
Who: Literary agents Jessica Sinsheimer and Roseanne Wells

As if that weren't enough, we WOC organizers are having giveaways to lure you in get you excited about this event and to motivate you to spread the word! (Shannon, LiLa, Jamie, Casey, Jen)

And if that's still not enough, be sure to check out the WriteOnCon site today and tomorrow--every stinkin' HOUR--for some amazing prizes from some Elevensies authors, including yours truly! We're talking pre-orders, ARC's, and critiques. That action is happening over on the WOC site, so go go go!!

Right here, on this blog, I've got some amazing young adult titles, signed by their equally amazing authors.

LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden.

BREAK by Hannah Moskowitz.

There are many, many ways to get extra entries for this contest.

Mandatory thing:
1. Fill out the form by Sunday, September 26 at midnight.

Optional things:
1. +1 for commenting on this post
2. +2 for tweeting about this contest
3. +2 for posting or linking this contest on your blog/website/facebook
4. +1 for each of my co-organizer’s blogs or websites that you follow (Shannon, LiLa, Casey, Jamie, Jen)
5. +10 for donating to the WriteOnCon website (over on the right side, down under the follow widget)

Now…listen. WriteOnCon is something we designed to be totally and completely free for everyone, so we hate taking money from anyone. But, unfortunately, the only way we can avoid another Error 403 disaster is to have way better web hosting, and sadly, that doesn’t come for free—no matter how much we bat our eyelashes.

So sadly we have to pay to keep WriteOnCon 2011 EPIC. But we want to make a few things clear:

-You DO NOT have to donate to enter (or win) any of these contests
-You DO NOT have to donate to participate in the live events
-You DO NOT have to donate to attend our next conference
-IF you decide to donate, we’re only recommending something small, like $5.00

So it’s completely up to you if you want to donate. If you can—THANK YOU, and we wanted to reward you with extra contest entries. If you can’t—no worries. Absolutely none!




Stealing from Candyland...Elana out.

Oh, wait! What do you have in your life that is amazingly amazing? Or epically epic??

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Book? Or the Author?

So I've been doing some thinking lately. I know that's always a scary thought. But whatever. You guys get to spend some time in the pink folds of my brain today.

And the great debate I want to bring up is this: Do we promote books? Or authors?

I've been wondering how much of a book's success is dependent on how good the book actually is, and how much author influence weighs. And I don't want anyone to bring up Suzanne Collins. I'm not talking about established authors. I'm talking debuts.

I'm sure we can all think of "big buzz" books. These are the ones we hear about on twitter, facebook, and blogs. These are the ones being talked about at book shows. It seems everyone is buying them, reading them, raving about them.

So is it a coincidence that these books also have authors that are accessible online? Likeable? Funny? Friendly?

Do we feel like we have to like the book because we like the author? How much does an author influence you in your decision to purchase a book? And after you read the book, how much does knowing the author/the author's personality influence your opinion of the book/the rating you give said book?

Are we promoting good books? Or nice/friendly/accessible authors? Can they be separated?

And...does it matter?

And dude! Go check out the WriteOnCon site today! Major announcement!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

GCC: Bringing You Lucienne Diver

Okay, okay. So I know I don't normally post on Saturdays. But I recently joined a group of authors called the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit, where we post interviews by amazing authors and rave about good books. And Lucienne's tour was in progress, so I jumped on board.

Sort of. I didn't have time to get any questions together, so today we're just going to rave about good books, but seriously, who ever gets sick of that? Um, no one!

First, welcome to Lucienne, who is a literary agent by day and a writer by night.

In ReVamped (Flux, September 1), Gina and her boyfriend Bobby are sent undercover to infiltrate a New York high school where some seriously weird stuff is going down. Worse than that, Gina’s new super-secret identity is as goth-girl Geneva Belfry. No color palette to speak of. More chains than a bike rack. And don't even get her started on the shoes. At least she won’t be too worried about blood spatter when kicking the butt of her newest nemesis, who’s decided that the high school makes a perfect playground.

Rave Reviews:
“This is a witty vampire romance/adventure with plenty of heart and action. Diver has written a supernatural sequel to Vamped (Flux, 2009/VOYA August 2009) that will attract even reluctant readers. It is filled with wry twists, such as the difficulties of trying to apply mascara when, as vampire, you don’t have any reflection in the mirror, as well as the typical agonies of being young and trying to fit in.” —VOYA

“Gina, the 17-year-old fashionista of the undead, is back and as sassy as ever (Vamped, 2009). Thoroughly enjoyable, this sequel is a light, fizzy read… listening in on Gina’s thoughts and quick-witted dialogue is what makes this such a treat.” —Kirkus Reviews

I can't wait to get my hands on this one! And be sure to check out Lucienne's blog, her website, and get your copy of ReVamped today!

And what do you think about those claws? Yikes!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blogging Tips

Wow. This week has been epic. But next week is going to be EPIC. Make sure you come back for some major Epic EPICness, okay? Okay.

Today is the last day of The Blogging Trifecta. It's been a good run. I could give a million (okay, maybe not a million) more tips on blogging. I'm not going to. I think you've got the gist of what I've done and continue to do. So I'm just going to leave you with a few things.

My Best Five Tips:
1. Poach.
2. Be Authentically You.
3. Write Short Posts.
4. Give Back.
5. Make Reading Your Blog Easy.

That's it. If you make your blog enjoyable and fun and easy to read, people will come enjoy it, have fun, and come back again.

What are your top five tips for blogging?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Do I Blog About?

In case you didn't know, Jennifer Daiker, Alex Cavanaugh, and I are blogging about blogging this week. Before we go any further, I feel impressed to share this poster from

I LOVE THIS. Sometimes I really think it's true. Sometimes I'm sitting in my writing lair (aka at my lame card table), writing blogs, and I think, "There's no way anyone cares about this."

I worry about the post for days. I edit it mercilessly. I postpone it. Then I finally let it go live, and it becomes my most popular post in weeks.

So. Just know that we all go through the holy-brown-cows-what-do-I-blog-about?

Well, my take on this is simple. ANYTHING.

No, really. You can blog about personal things. Writing things. Outlining. Revisions. Causes. Your dog. Your fears. Even nothing. (Hey, they made an entire sitcom out of it. Ever heard of Seinfeld?) Blog about whatever you want.

The fact is, what you bring to your blog that no one else can bring, is YOU.


So let's move on to what the real problem with blogging is. In my opinion, it's not knowing what your purpose is. Let's examine.

Question: Why are you blogging? To get the word out about your book? To meet new people? To build a brand?

*cue personal stuff*

Here’s why I blog. Name recognition. If I held up a blue bag and said the items inside this package go great with milk, would you know what it was? We know. They have a brand. We can sing songs from our childhood about brand names. (Oscar Meyer, Big Mac, etc.) It’s all name recognition.

I want someone to be in a bookstore, browsing books and go “Oh, I’ve heard of this girl.” simply from seeing my name (and/or my title) online. That’s why I blog.

I want people to know me.

Now that doesn’t mean I tell them everything. I don’t name my children by name, or talk about my job that much, or discuss anything too too personal (unless it relates to writing). That’s not what people want.

Have you seen that Seinfeld where George is talking about all his worlds colliding? You can probably separate the parts of your life too. Teacher-Elana. Mom-Elana. Cook-Elana. Sister-Elana. Etc. Well, there’s a Author-Elana too. And that’s who people want to see. I dispel writing advice. I give query letter advice. I give blogging advice.

I let people inside my life. I show them my fears about publishing/writing. This is how friendships are made. It’s how relationships form. Through the emotional. Let people in a little bit. Not much, just a little.

You can share what you like. Things like TV shows and artists and stuff like that. It really only takes one or two things to make you distinct. Me? I talk about dying my hair a lot (Monday, baby!). And Adam Lambert. And Glee and Survivor. Don’t be afraid to do this.

I just want to pause here for a minute. I think this is a truth, through and through. You can disagree. But I think when you're blogging, you’re selling yourself, not your books. And when you stop and think about blogging like this, you should have a million things to blog about.

Okay, moving on. Other things you can blog about:

1. Books you’ve read – this is a great way to show support of the industry. Note that I do not get very many comments on book review days. Doesn’t mean they’re a waste of time – especially if the author of the book knows I’m doing it.

2. Things you’ve learned – I’ve been blogging about outlining recently. Not really giving advice, just things I’ve learned. Topics like this are great conversation starters, and that’s what you want. A place where people feel like they know you and can talk to you.

3. WIP Wednesday/Truthful Tuesday – if you can’t think of anything, fall back on these. At least they’ll help you get your content up for the day.

4. Blog chains – find or form one, and participate in it. For new bloggers, this is a great way to learn how to blog and how to respond to comments.

One more thing: If all else fails, POACH. That's right. If you see something you like on another blog, adapt it to yours. Don't copy word for word (duh), but adapt and give credit.

Okay, I've gone on long enough. Jen, Alex, and I are going to be conducting a little experiment. We'd like as many people to participate as would like. We're calling it The Great Blogging Experiment (yeah, we're that lame) and it'll take place on Friday, September 24. We're assigning a topic, and all you have to do is post on Sept. 24 on that topic.

The point? We'd like to see just how different every post is. We'd like to see what YOU bring to the topic. (Which is YOU, of course.) I'm willing to bet one kidney that there will not be two posts exactly the same, just like there are not two bloggers that are exactly the same.

The topic: Writing Compelling Characters.

Sign up below!

Whew. With all that out of the way, what do you like to read on a blog? What don't you like to read?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Okay, you guys. Today, I'm launching a blog book tour with epic prizes for Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers. I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book, and I pretty much only have one thing to say: I've never met a bad boy this bad and liked him so much.

I really enjoyed this book, with it's quick pacing and fresh spin on demons. Even if you don't think you'll like demons, you'll like this. And hey, it's got an angel too if that's more your type. *bats eyelashes*

Lisa's crafted herself a real winner here. And to celebrate her book birthday (oh my heck -- a book birthday!) next Tuesday, September 14, she's giving away two prize packages, one for Heaven and one for Hell. And dude, each package includes a signed copy of PERSONAL DEMONS (excellent), an iPod shuffle loaded with PD's playlist (that's right -- A SHUFFLE), some swag (one can never have too much swag), and a few other Heaven/Hell-related items (ooh, surprises! Fancy).

All you have to do is visit each stop on the tour, collecting the two words in the post that are clearly marked (like the two marked in pink in my post). Lisa will have the entry form on her blog on the book-birthday, where you'll have to take the gathered words and arrange them into a sentence to enter.

Not only that, as if that isn't enough, but someone who comments here on my blog today wins the below PERSONAL DEMONS prize package! You would like to win that, right? Right. So leave a comment here, collect the words, and visit every blog on the tour to enter the grand prize drawing.

Here's the rest of the schedule, so make sure you visit these blogs throughout the tour.

Thursday: Carrie Harris
Friday: Myra McEntire
Saturday: Lisa and Laura Roecker
Sunday: Beth Revis
Monday: Andrea Cremer
Tuesday: the fabu author of Personal Demons herself, Lisa Desrochers

And now, seriously, which would you choose? Demon or angel? Heaven or Hell? Are you sure about that? Maybe you should buy and read Personal Demons first... *wink*

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Leaving Your Mark Behind

Okay, so today is Day Two of The Awesome Blogging Trifecta. Check your parachutes. Jen, Alex, and I are attacking COMMENTS. Be sure to check out their posts/opinions too. (Note: Alex will post on this tomorrow.)

So comments. We all want people to appreciate our words enough to leave a comment. We think it's a sign of our success, a way to indicate the worth of our blogs. But is it?

Quick Answer: YES.

Here's why. If you don't inspire something inside of someone, they won't feel like they need to leave their name behind. And if they feel obligated, it's not the same as genuinely evoking something inside of someone. Those comments you can feel.

So, how do you do that? How do you move someone to comment?

1. Comment--sincerely--on their blog first. I'll admit that my own comments are the first stop for me. I open my comment box and click on your name to get to your blog. I really try to get to everyone. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't. (See Special Note below.)

*small personal aside*

I refuse to feel guilty if I don't make it. Sometimes I don't get on my own blog until 8:30 or so, and the post has been up for 3 1/2 hours, and I'll have 35+ comments. What would your first reaction be? Mine is usually: holy-overwhelmed. There's no way I can keep up.

I might make that an email day, but not everyone has allowed blogger to show their email...and you should. Just sayin'. I might try to work through my comments ten at a time. I do as much as I can before I run out of time and/or I just can't do any more.

One more thing: When I was actively building my blog (and I still am, I'm just not as Nazi about it), I probably left 75 - 100 comments/day, Monday - Friday. I steadfastly refuse to blog on the weekends. I don't read, I don't comment.

*end personal aside*

2. Ask questions. If you give someone something to answer, they might be more willing to leave a comment. I almost always ask a question. Some of you answer it, some of you don't. Either way is fine with me, I'm just trying to give people something to respond to.

3. Share something personal. People read my blog for me, not necessarily what I have to say. (We're talking about "What to Blog About" on Thursday, so stay tuned!) People want to make a connection with another person. I don't want to wax poetic what to blog about here, but consider letting some of yourself show on your blog. I generally get more quality comments when I do this, even though it terrifies me to let you inside my head.

How-To-Get-More-Comments-Tip: POACH. When I was actively building my blog, I had a goal to get to 10 lesser-visited blogs* every week. How did I find them? I poached from other people's comments. You should poach from mine. It A) gives you a new blog that maybe you don't follow and B) if you make an effort to comment regularly on that new blog, they'll probably come to yours.

Tip #2: Visit a new blog every day for one week and leave a comment. Then make an effort to go back at least one/twice a week until they're yours.

Do you have any tips about getting comments that I haven't covered? I know I've asked this before, but what inspires you to leave a comment here, or on another blog?

*lesser-visited blog: A blog that has great content and a great author, but has none or almost no comments. If you're the only one who leaves a comment there, do you think that person's going to remember your name? You betcha.

**Of Special Note: You must only do what you can do. No more, no less. If you don't have time to open a billion blogs and leave a comment, don't. And don't waste a single second of your life feeling bad about it. You can only do what you can do. That's it. I'm merely sharing what I did, and what's worked for me. If you have the time and inclination, you might try it.

Special Note #2: Tomorrow I have a special launch with a killer giveaway, so I won't be blogging about blogging. But you'll wanna be here anyway so you don't miss out of the frawesome!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blogging Trifecta Explosion!

Okay, so today is Day One of The Awesome Blogging Trifecta. Strap in. Jen, Alex, and I are attacking FOLLOWERS. Be sure to check out their posts/opinions too.

So. Most of us have that little widget with the tiny heads. We judge our worth, the worth of our blogs, on how many little heads we can get in the sidebar. We can't pinpoint why, but we're desperate for more tiny heads.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why? Are we all really just junior high kids with bigger bodies and more money?

Quick answer: YES.

Okay, so with that out of the way, let's examine how the popular kids do it.

1. "To have friends, you must first be a friend." This philosophy (which I'm sure your mother said to you as often as mine did to me) applies to blogging. If you want more followers, follow more blogs. 9 times out of 10, you'll get a follow-back.

2. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Yeah, we're taking a big of wisdom from Disney today. If you leave sincere comments, you'll most likely get the attention of the blog author. They're most likely go to your blog. They'll most likely follow you.

3. "The pen is mightier than the sword." Dude, if you want more people to follow you, give them what they want. Politicians tell the voters what they want to hear. Popular kids flatter the right people. So it is with bloggers. Give people good content, and they'll be yours forever. (And, uh, for the official record, the same is true in writing. Give readers a gripping story, and they'll read your books forever--and tell their friends.)

4. "If you build it, they will come." Let's face it. Blogging is WORK. If you think followers are just going to fall into your lap, you're wrong. If you think you're going to get a buttload of comments overnight, you're wrong.

It. Takes. Work.

*cue personal story*

It's February 1, 2010. I'm at Olive Garden, ordering desserts for myself and six or seven of my writing buddies. My treat. Why? Because I've just hit 500 followers on my blog.

Look over to the widget. Now back to me. To the widget. Back to me. I have over 1400 now. Just a short seven months later. That's a whole lotta followers in seven months. I felt like it took me half my life and liver to get 500. Why?

Because I worked my freaking tail off. And I didn't stop. All through the winter and spring, I worked. I left comment after comment. I followed blog after blog. I built it. They came. I'm still building it, day by day, post by post, email by email. I don't anticipate stopping.

Building a better blog is work.

*end personal story*

So there you have it. Each day this week, I'm going to leave you with my dirtiest, darkest secret for how I've built my blog into an online platform. I'd tell you not to tell anyone, but hey, I'm posting it on my blog! Tweet away!

Getting-More-Followers-Tip: POACH. That's right. Poach from other people. I have a lot of followers. Theoretically, they're all writers/readers/lovers of books in some way. You should be poaching from me. Click on my widget and let it open up. Then click on each little tiny head and see what links come up. If they have a blog, go to it. Follow it. Rinse. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Who do I poach from? (I have no shame, keep this in mind.) Nathan Bransford. Rachelle Gardner. Pretty much anyone who seems to have a lot of followers (Shannon Messenger, Lisa/Laura Roecker, QueryTracker, The Blood Red Pencil) or who has the same base of followers I want (Candace Ganger, Alex Cavanaugh, VR Barkowski, Talli Roland, just to name a few).

So there. Don't judge me too harshly.

And do you have anything to add? How have you gotten more followers?

**Of Special Note: You must only do what you can do. No more, no less. If you don't have time to open a billion blogs and follow them, don't. And don't waste a single second of your life feeling bad about it. You can only do what you can do. That's it. I'm merely sharing what I did, and what's worked for me. If you have the time and inclination, you might try it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dig Deep

So it's Labor Day weekend. It seems like everyone in publishing is off the grid. I sent in my outlines and my sample pages. I had to dig deep to get those suckers done.

I am projectless. I'm going to have to dig deep for something to work on.

I sent off my author photos. I got the auto responder that my editor is gone until the 7th. I had to dig deep to finally push the send button on those babies, let me tell you. It'd almost be better if my face wasn't on the book. #dangIalreadysentit

And so I am languishing. Reading. Making *gasp* dinner!

But I have big plans for this weekend. That's right, my pretties. I asked, you answered. And now I'm going to have to dig deep to find the answers. I know, I know, enough riddles!

Remember Monday, when I asked you to tell me what your blogging woes were? Well, I found myself talking OUT LOUD to the computer. "Yeah, good question, you just need to..." and then I'd stop.

I realized I could do an entire new series on blogging. (Which BTW, I've done many posts on blogging, which you can check out here. And Alex Cavanaugh just did some great ones too (a three-part series, linked in the bottom of this post). And Jody Hedlund's done some...ahem. Anyway.) So instead of you all just listening to me blather on (again), I recruited new blood.

*rubs hands together*

Jen and Alex will be joining me next week for a week-long series on blogging. That's right -- a TRIFECTA BLOGGING EVENT! Get excited!! I think it's going to be uber-awesome to see their opinions on blogging and try to mesh them with my own. And, feathered friends, we have a little experiment we want you all to participate in... so watch for that for sure!

There's only one problem: I've got to dig deep to find what I want to say. I know it's buried there. But I don't want to repeat what I've already said, and I don't want anyone to go away from the week feeling worse than they did before.

I'll find the words. I'll unearth them. I always do.

Which leads me to today's question: What do you have to dig deep to find?

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Dude, you guys. If you want to read a book that you've never read before, get this one: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.

Things I Loved That You Will Too:
1. Mackie. At first I was like, really? That's your main character's name? Mackie? But after about 50 pages, I was like, Duuude, Mackie. He's fantastic. Insecure. Likeable. Fiercely loyal. Strong, even when he's dying.

A fantastically imagined character, well-written.

Don't we all dream of writing like that? Even better, don't we all dream of reading about people like that?

I do. And I found him in The Replacement.

2. What Happens. You know how you've read that every book is one of seven plots? Well, make room for an eighth. I loved this story. From the fact that Mackie can't touch metal, to the idea that he's dying, that he's "something else" but still loveable, to, to, to. I could name a million things.

But this plot doesn't feel copycatted from someone else. It isn't a remake of a book I've already read.

It is fresh.

So if you're looking for fresh and unique, and interesting and wow, you'll find it in The Replacement. This book is due out September 21, so pre-order your copy today!! You so won't be sorry.

It occurs to me that every week when I do these reviews, I'm gushing about likeable characters and intriguing plots. That makes me realize that in order to write an amazing book, I need a unique, interesting character and a well-written plot. *note to self*

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week!

Lisa and Laura Roecker are giving us the scoop on THE SECRET SOCIETY OF THE PINK CRYSTAL BALL
Myra McEntire is dishing on PARANORMALCY
Shannon Messenger is praising THE BRIMSTONE KEY
Christine Fonseca is celebrating AMAZING AUGUST RELEASES
Shelli Johannes-Wells is recommending PARANORMALCY
Carolina Valdez Miller is gushing about JANE

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Staying True

Okay, so I don't know why I've been thinking about this now, as school is just starting. It's more of a school-is-ending thing. But you know how in junior high and high school you sign yearbooks at the end of the year? And you get all the same siggies, and they all say "Stay cool. Have a great summer."

Yeah, that's what I've been thinking about.

My book is astronomically far from actually being a book. At the same time, it's coming so fast fast fast I can't even take a moment to breathe. And I've been thinking about how I can "stay cool" so to speak.

**Disclaimer: I in no way, shape, or form think I'm cool. In fact, I've asked several people to nominate me for "What Not To Wear." Still hasn't happened.

I'm thinking about how to stay myself on the blog. In my life. (I actually have a real life with a 3-dimensional body and everything. Believe it.) Every experience we have in our lives changes us. I know this. You know this. So there's no way I'll ever be the person I was 5 years ago, in the land of Before.

But that doesn't mean that the person from Before can't be the person in After. Does it?

I don't anticipate changing much (except maybe my hair, but if you've been around here for very long, you know the chameleon-esque of that). I'll still be waiting, just like you. I'll still experience disappointments, just like you. I'll still get good news, just like you.

Is that how one "stays cool?" Just by being themselves? Relating to others? What do you guys think? And will you sign my yearbook??

NOTE: In case you were wondering, Krista won the signed copy of Paranormalcy. Congrats, Krista!!

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