Friday, October 29, 2010

My Upcoming Weekend

Dude, this weekend is going to rock! I'll give you a hint. I'm meeting an author. He wrote this, a contemporary novel that introduced me to what "unique voice" means:

And this, which inspired me to write a dystopian novel:

And this, which is just awesome:

And most recently this:

That's right! Scott Westerfeld is coming to Provo--he might already be here!--and I'm going to the Provo Teen Festival to gush go totally fangirl meet him.

*insert silent scream here*

Which author would you love to meet? How have they inspired your work?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

All About Me

Okay, so I realize this week has turned into the Elana-show here on the blog. I'm so sorry! I typically try not to do this, but...yeah, I don't know what happened. I promise to bring you more helpful posts of helpful helpfulness next week. Cross my heart and hope to die...

But I have to mention the query chat I'm doing tonight. It's being run by the awesome peeps at Operation Awesome and will last from 9 - 10 PM EDT. I'm giving away free ebooks and query critiques, so come on over! Or don't...then maybe my stomach will stay down where it's supposed to instead of throbbing in my throat. Yes, I'm nervous.

You can get a little sneak peek at what might be said during the chat on Marieke's blog. I did a little "How To" post for her today. Go follow her, read, comment--I'll do a query critique for one lucky commenter on her post.

Since querying is in the air, and you're going to be polishing your NaNo novel and then querying it, I'm offering my ebook for 25% through the end of the year. Just use the promotion code 25percentoff and get the ebook for only $7.46 (or something like that).

And holy brown cows people! Guess what I got in the mail yesterday?? Guess... guess... That's right! My ARC's! My book baby is like a real baby now! I feel like Geppetto (it's a real book!). The back cover copy is now available on my POSSESSION page, and here're some pictures!

(My shiny, shiny baby. #MyPOSSESSION)

So yeah. Sorry. No more Elana-show. Well, at least after tomorrow, because that post is already planned. #notmyfault

So have you got anything to share?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why I Strongly Dislike Halloween

Yeah, yeah, I know some of you are shocked at the title of this post. Aghast. Shaking your head, disbelieving.

But it's true. I loathe Halloween with most fibers of my being. The reasons for this are many and varied.

1. My parents never bought me nice costumes as a kid. They scarred me! Scarred, I say! (I usually ended up being some lame smurf or something I could do with my own (pathetic) wardrobe. Totally ghetto.)

2. If I want candy, I'll just go to Wal-mart and buy some. Okay, probably not Wal-mart because that's definitely not my favorite place on the planet, but I have the means to get my own chocolate fix.

3. I've spent my life trying to blend into the crowd. I absolutely do not understand a holiday where the sole point is to dress like an idiot and have people stare at you. Not my brand of fun.

4. I teach elementary school. I don't think this needs any explainage, because seriously. 800 children all hopped up on Halloween excitement and cowboy hats and batman masks? Yet again, not something I'd categorize as "fun."

5. It's too stinkin' cold to leave the house after 5 PM on October 31st in Utah. Brrrr.

So there. I totally respect your right to like/love/worship Halloween. But I so don't.

What about you? Halloween fan? What other holidays do you enjoy/not enjoy?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Behind the Butterfly

Okay, so I've had several people ask me if there are butterflies in my book.

Short answer: no.

Long answer: no. The image on the cover of my book is metaphoric. Iconic. You know, this beautiful thing that's been taken and frozen in ice. Unable to progress, yet unable to die too. It's lovely, haunting.

And that's it.

So quick question: Is this okay with you? Would you feel cheated if you opened the book and didn't even see the word butterfly? (I just did a search of my word doc. "Butterfly" is not present, not even once.) Or are metaphoric covers acceptable--even desirable?

Monday, October 25, 2010

You Knew It Was Coming...

Yeah, all right, this is my NaNo post. Go ahead, run away screaming. I know I'm going to.

Anyway, I have decided to play in the word vomit this November. Sort of. See, I'm a rule-breaker. I sort of always have been, and this NaNo thing is no different. But I have a serious need to churn out 50,000+ words. Like, last month.


Hello, NaNo, nice to meetcha!

Now for the rule-bending. I've already started my project. I know, I know, you're supposed to start fresh. Well, I'm not going to do that. I'm merely subscribing to the principle of getting the blasted words onto the page. Quickly. Thus, I am going to NaNo.

If the whole rule-bending bothers you, don't buddy me. Cuz I'm so going to kill this. Dead. Deadly dead. If you don't mind a little bit of bending, and want to kill me, er, see if I can actually get 50K in 30 days, buddy me! (My username is emjohns.)

What about you? Have you participated in NaNo before? How'd you do? Do you subscribe to the word vomit philosophy? If not, how do you get your story down in quick fashion?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why I Am Human

So there's been some talk on the blogosphere about my clones, how I somehow buy hours on the black market, you know, stuff like that.

Lies! All lies!

I am human. I only have 24 hours in the day. And I sleep for 8 of those every day. I work part-time outside my home, and sometimes I make dinner. Sometimes I don't. I do have time during the day where I'm home alone while my two kids are at school.

I think the only thing I have going for me is my extreme typing skills. I can type fast. Maybe that allows me to answer emails quicker or leave blog comments quicker. I don't know. But I do know that I'm just like you.


Maybe I have a system for getting to blogs quickly. Maybe I have more "free time" than you do. Maybe I don't write as much as you do. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But if you cut me, I still bleed red.

I am not super-charming in person. I'm socially awkward and I laugh too loud. I never know what to say or what not to say. I monopolize the conversation sometimes. Sometimes I don't say what I should. Sometimes my feelings are hurt. Sometimes I hurt others.

Just as I'm sure you have. See, you and I, we're not all that different.

I cry. (Unprettily.) I laugh. (Too loud.) I work. (Hard.) I email. (Too much.) I long for things I don't have. (More than I should.) I look at new cars on the Internet and dream of buying them. (Dodge Charger.) I read. (I *heart* books.) I listen to Pandora. (Glee Cast and Kesha FTW!)

Just like you.

I am human.

So...any questions? I swear I only type with two hands. Have you ever felt like someone has unrealistic expectations of you? How do you live under that weight?

And see how I have like, 2 more followers to 1600? Don't you think we should have some sort of party at 1600? What should we do? December is my birthday month, and I don't have a pay it forward event lined up... Hmm... brain churnage...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TORMENT by Lauren Kate

So I got my hands on the second book in the FALLEN trilogy. I enjoyed the first one quite a bit, and was hoping for more of the same in TORMENT.

And I got it. I've heard that some people don't like Luce, but I actually really do. Were there some parts that I was going "No! Don't do that!"? Yes. But I think that's a good thing. We don't want our characters to always do exactly what they should. Or what we want them to. Or what we expect them to.

(Long parenthetical: the MC is a young adult. Often what they do makes no sense to adults. I always try to remember back to my high school days (horror!). Remember how stupid we were? How we didn't do things that made sense either? How every little thing could've triggered the apocalypse? Yeah. It's a YA book. I'd be upset if the teenager acted like an adult. Parenthetical out.)

That's what makes them interesting. So I like Luce, even in all her messiness.

But let's face it, the reason this book is as hot as it is is because of Daniel. The fallen angel. The breathtaking wings. The unfailing love. Yeah, we all need a little Daniel in our lives.

If I had to sum this book up in on sentence, I would say that it's got the fantasticness of an angelic plotline (like HUSH, HUSH) combined with a recyclical romance (ala THE ETERNAL ONES) that keeps you turning pages. Yes, I made up some of those words. Sometimes you just need to make up your own vocab.

And the cover. Dude. Even my husband liked it, and that's saying something huge given his extreme distaste for covers with people on them. (Dodged a bullet there with my own cover. Thankfully.)

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week!
Christine Fonseca Moons Over MATCHED
Shannon Messenger Fangirls THE FAMILIARS
Shelli Johannes-Wells Marvels over Middle Grade
Kirsten Hubbard Woos Us with WITHER
Myra McEntire Beholds the British Special Edition of the TWILIGHT SAGA
Carolina Valdez Miller Is Moved By MARBURY LENS
Megan Miranda Swoons Over STOLEN

What's on your reading shelf? Do the MC's act their age? How do you feel about that?

Oh! I'm drawing another winner for Denise Jaden's LOSING FAITH! Click here to enter--if you've already commented on that post (THAT POST) you're already entered. And you want this book. It is fabulous.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Research According to J-Dash

That's right. I've made up a gangsta name for James Dashner. That's how you know you're in the Inner Sanctum. I make a gangsta name for you. Anyway, I went to listen to J-Dash talk about his new book, THE SCORCH TRIALS, last week. Someone asked him if he had to do any research for the book.

It wasn't even me, and I sort of shuddered like this arctic wind had just blown through the bookstore. No joke. And get this: He said he looked at a map! And maybe had to look up some brain diseases for like, "10 minutes."

Now, I'm sure he did more than that. But I so related to this kind of research. The difference is that I don't even look at maps. Or find out about brain diseases. So yeah. (And for the record, later on he said he'd drawn a map of the maze for THE MAZE RUNNER. Which is, sadly, more than I've done for my book. Or will ever do. I typically don't read books with maps at the beginning. Seriously. If you need a map...okay, never mind. That's a whole other blog post. And this is the longest parenthetical ever.)

But it was great to hear someone else talk about research in the way that I would. Because, let's face it, most of you out there are some sort of genetic mutation that actually likes researching. Go ahead, admit it. I don't let things like that color my judgement. Very often. *wink*

Oh, and go get THE SCORCH TRIALS. You won't be sorry. By the way, we're discussing THE MAZE RUNNER every day this week on The League blog--go check us out! I'm up on Friday.

How about you? Do you look at maps whilst researching? Do you like research? What would your gangsta name be if you could pick your own? And what would you choose for mine?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Being Nice Is Free

I could go on and on about this and look up a bunch more Bambi quotes, but I won't. A friend and I were talking the other day, and basically we boiled most everything down to this.

Being Nice is Free.

So, can you afford it?

Today is the last day you can bid on the silent auction for the Florida Writers Foundation. I'm offering a 50-page crit--so go check it out!

And Candyland is looking for $1 per follower to help women, children, and families. Click here for all the details and to donate.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Using Law & Order to Write

So I don't think it's a secret that I watch a lot of TV. I enjoy Law & Order quite a lot. The original or SVU are my faves.

And I sat down to write a new WiP a couple of weeks ago, I just sat there. See, I can't write in order. I don't know where to start. So I just wrote the scene in my head. The next day, I wrote the next one--and no, it didn't immediately follow or precede the one I'd already written. It was just another scene I'm going to have to surgically insert into the book. Somewhere.

After I have a whole bunch of scenes written, then I can usually write the beginning. This happened yesterday. And you know how you've read in various places about the importance of the first sentence? The first paragraph? The first page?

The first chapter?

Yeah, me too. I think that's why beginnings are so hard (for me) to write. So I've got my document open, at the beginning, ready to write. Law & Order had just started. (Yes, I write to the TV, pandora, whatever.)

And it hit me. My opening chapter needs to be just like the first five minutes of a Law & Order episode. (Click to hear the sound. You really want to live inside this brainwave, I know you do.)

Law & Order Gavel for ringer sound clip

So in the first five minutes of Law & Order, we're introduced to the murder/crime. We're hooked. The rest of the episode is spent solving the crime/murder. And often, it's the mundane that introduces the conflict. People taking the trash out. Someone going into their office. The housekeeper opening the garage. That kind of stuff. And then bam! The dead body.

That's what I need to do in my first chapter. I need to introduce the reader to the world, to my character, and to the "dead body." I need to have them hooked by the end of the five minutes it takes them to read my first chapter.

Easy, yes? Um, sure. But it really helped me get the words down that will probably be my first chapter. (Since I write it after I've written a bunch of other stuff, my first chapter generally stays fairly close to what I write the first time.) Thank you, Law & Order and TNT for playing copious episodes of L&O.

So you tell me: How do you write your first chapter? What needs to happen? What's been your inspiration for writing your first chapter?

Oh! And I'm helping out the Florida Writers Foundation by offering at 50-page critique. Go bid if you can!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why I Cried Last Week

Oh, come on. You like the crying posts, I know you do. #youknowI'mababy #dealwithit

So I don't cry very often. Okay, only every week. Or whatever. But I've been feeling some angst. #sowhatelseisnew? #I'memotionallyintense #justaskmycritgroup

And I got an email that said this: "You're not the same girl who had to query and query and query."

That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. And I teared up. #sobfest Because the emailer* was so right. I've been living as someone I'm not. Or rather, someone I used to be. And it's time to stop living in that angst, that cesspool, as that girl.

She once was. I used to be her.

I'm working on silencing her, but she's very loud sometimes. Luckily, Bawl Baby Elana cries louder. But seriously, Query-Until-Your-Eyes-Bleed-Elana is part of who I am, but she does not get to define me now. I need to let her go.

So I'm going to.

Who do you need to cut loose? What part of yourself clings to you, maybe dictates your behavior? And when's the last time you had your own personal #sobfest?

*Names will not be released. #ifItoldyouI'dhavetokillyou

Thursday, October 14, 2010

12 Weeks to XVI

Okay today, I have something super-fun to share with you all: Week 12 in the countdown to XVI!! Julia Karr is a League blogger buddy, and she's having a 16 Weeks Until XVI contest. Every week, you can win a different prize, and we're counting down to 1/6/11 when XVI will be released!

*insert singing* On the 12th Week to XVI, the author gave to me... a teaser of twelve real places in Chicago (past & present) that inspired places in XVI. *end singing*

1. Marina Towers
2. Like Young (no longer there)
3. A restaurant near Clark & Wrightwood (no longer there)
4. My friend, Kathy's brownstone
5. Waller High School (no longer there)
6. Lincoln Park
7. State Street (the Loop)
8. Michigan Avenue (Magnificent Mile)
9. The Art Institute
10. Where Lincoln, Wells and Clark Streets come together
11. The Chicago River
12. Union Station

Up this week: A signed ARC of XVI by Julia Karr!

Okay, let's find out FOUR things about Julia.

1. Have you always wanted to be a writer? In one form or another, yes. When I was little I was constantly writing poetry. I was also a marathon letter writer. (Ten pages, front & back, no erasures or x-outs.) In my twenties, I wrote a musical (that will, thankfully, never see the light of day!) When my daughters were little, I started writing stories for them. Then I attempted a couple of novels (adult), which I may or may not finish one day. Throw in a few essays for the local paper and a completed middle grade novel (which I have plans for.) *smirks* *rubs hands together* Then, I wrote XVI and I can't stop writing now!

2. What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication? I think I've always wanted to be published. My first published works were essays in the local paper. Then a couple of poems (adult.) And, after I started writing for my girls, it just seemed natural to want my writings to be read by someone besides me. Also, the whole process of getting a manuscript ready for submission to agents and editors means that each successive iteration my work is (hopefully) getting better, more polished, closer to what I really am trying to say. So, not only is there a goal in mind, but the path to the goal requires growth and stretching myself to get better. I like that.

3. Quick! You’ve been chosen to go on Survivor. What luxury item do you take? You know, I may be the only person on the planet who has never seen survivor. *Googles Survivor* Well, uh... luxury item... bug spray, lots of bug spray!

4. And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate? Heh! This one is easy (mainly because I'm a vegetarian!) Chocolate. (Although I do like a good Fakin' Bacon, lettuce & tomato sandwich!)

More about XVI!
The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less: (Hard!) In a future where innocence is lost @ 16, how does a girl deal with secrets, lies, a hot boy & murder? And keep from being the next victim! (Whew! One character to spare!)

What I Thought: Brilliant. The voice. Nina. Sal (dude, I was SALivating). The pacing is fantastic and the dystopian jargon is not distracting or confusing. There's tension from several threats in the novel, enough to keep you turning pages like crazy. You definitely want to get this one. It comes out on January 6, 2011, and you can preorder it here.

This week's winner will be chosen from comments. It will be open until next Thursday. And, all commenters (even the winner) will be entered in the GRAND PRIZE drawing on the final week! In case you missed last week's contest on Lisa and Laura's blog, you have until tonight at midnight to enter! You can read the first chapter of XVI here.

What have you read recently that kept you up at night, turning pages? I want to read that.

Find out what the other Bookanistas are up to today:
Lisa and Laura Roecker are head over heels for Half Upon a Time.
Christine Fonseca is celebrating Cinders.
Shannon Messenger is inspired by Selling Hope.
Shelli Johannes-Wells and Myra McEntire can't get enough of The Near Witch cover.
Megan Miranda is excited about Monsters of Men.
Carolina Valdez Miller highlights the hottest November releases.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday WOW

Okay, so there's many great things going on out there! I hope you guys don't mind me sharing a bit.

1. WriteOnCon is having another live event! This time, we're bringing you literary agent Sara Megibow from the Nelson Literary Agency. She'll be chatting with us--and all of you!--on Monday, October 25 at 9 PM EDT. Suh-weet! (And, uh, wow.) Check out the WOC site for more details.

2. I, Elana Johnson aka Query Ninja, am doing a live chat on Thursday, October 28. I know, shocking, right? I'm going to be discussing all things
query letter related (and giving away query crits and ebooks!), and you can find out all the details at Operation Awesome. (Double Wow.)

3. Victoria Schwab's COVER! *faints* Dude, you guys, there is nothing more exciting that seeing/stroking/tasting a book. I love them all, not just my own. And Victoria is one of the nicest people you'll ever "meet." And she's got her ARC's--with the fantabulous cover, and she's letting me share it with you. So enjoy/drool/scream/whatever! Holy Triple Decker WOW!

A bit more about THE NEAR WITCH: The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

Ooh, I have chills. I can't wait for this book! You can preorder it here. Go check out Victoria's blog too, okay? Okay.

What do you have on your WOW list today? Lay it on me, we're going for the bestest Wednesday ever!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Dark Side of Writing

Okay, so I'm not writing this post on the weekend. It feels strange. But I spent five days in Denver, including most of my weekend. So this is what you get, I guess.

So it's Monday, and I usually spend the day cleaning and catching up and planning for the week, etc. And I've been contemplating all my projects I need to get done this week.

And holy cow. I've said this before in private emails with my besties, but dude. There is a whole other side of writing. One I didn't know about when I started writing. Ah, those blissful days spent, uh, WRITING.

See, it's dark on the other side. You grope around, trying to find your way toward this distant point of light on the horizon.

Here are a few things I've bumped into on The Dark Side of Writing:
1. Blogging
2. Twitter, facebook, forums, nings, chats
3. Answering interview questions
4. Email
5. Reading (hey, it's research)
6. Critiquing
7. Organizing cool conferences
8. Hanging at author events
9. Attending/speaking at amazing conferences
10-1000. Marketing

The thing I've noticed most is that this side of writing can completely suck your time away. It can gobble up all the writing minutes you have. I can go days doing "writing things" without writing anything.

And that's not good.

Sometimes you have to clear away the darkness, cross the line, and get back to writing. And today is that day. Who's with me??

What's on your Writing Dark Side? How do you find your way back to the flip side so you can write?

Oh, and here's a fun sample of what we did in Denver. :) (I took these with my phone--amazing.)
 Pike's Peak 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Learning to Say No

Okay, so saying no is hard. I mean, it's just two letters (N-O), but dude. It's hard.

I've got to get better at this, I think. I'm just always saying yes to everything that crosses my inbox. Here's why: I'm worried I won't be building a bridge I want later on. The problem is, I don't know which bridges I want/need for later on. How can I see the future?

And so I say yes to everything.

But that can only last for so long. And then I'm completely burned out. And then my bridges start burning. (ha ha!) No, seriously. I have to say no. And I can only hope that the bridge will wait to be built at a later time.

What about you? Do you find it hard to say no? How do you decide what to say yes to?

Oh! And the winner of Lauren Strasnick's HER AND ME AND YOU is Ishta Mercurio! Congrats! Email me for details, okay? Okay. (elanajohnson(at)gmail(dot)com)

Double Oh! And I'm partying with Author Linda Gerber today on her blog. Her book TRANCE comes out tomorrow, and she's giving away a lot of stuff! For my party, you can win a signed copy of DEADLY LITTLE LIES by Laurie Stolarz! So get over there and do that, too.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Her and Me and You

Okay, so dude, Lauren Strasnick has a new book out. I read and simply loved NOTHING LIKE YOU, so I can't wait to get my hands on HER AND ME AND YOU. Isn't that cover gorgeous?? (YES.)

I managed to wrangle some questions out of her. About Lauren:

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Since 4th or 5th grade. I wanted to dance, too. But I surrendered that dream at sixteen. *grin*

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?

This was pretty much always the plan, but ten years ago, I was only writing short fiction and there wasn’t really a place for short stories in the teen market. So it wasn’t until I completed my first novel, in 2006, that I actively started pursuing publication.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to go on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?

Oh, gosh! I’ve never seen survivor. (What?? The horror!) What can and can’t people bring? Does my kitten count as a luxury item?? (Yeah, sure. More mouths to feed, but whatever.)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate?

Chocolate. I was big into bacon as a youngin, but my body quit the-other-white (& red) meat, at eighteen. I remember it fondly, though… (Okay, fine. Chocolate: 2, Bacon: 0. So sad.)


The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:

Broken friendship! Thwarted love! Twincest! (Okay, that's not even fair.)

Her and Me and You
Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster, October 2010

First love, broken friendships, and heartache all play a part in this evocative, voice-driven novel about Alex, a girl whose world is ripped apart when her father’s affair splits her family in two.

Alex moves with her mess of a mother to a new town, where she is befriended by hot, enigmatic Fred–and alternately flirted with and cold-shouldered by Fred’s twin sister, Adina. Others warn Alex to steer clear of the twins, whose sibling relationship is considered abnormal at best, but there’s just something about Fred–and something about Adina–that draws Alex to them and makes her want to be part of their crazy world, no matter the consequences.

What Kirkus Has to Say:
“Strasnick’s slim second offering packs a lot into its short chapters: divorce, broken friendships, crushes, the lines between love and sex and more. Characterization, scenes, dialogue and setting are seamlessly distilled into so few sharp, image-rich phrases that the novel reads almost as if it were written in verse. Less is definitely more here, and readers are plunged into Alex’s physical and emotional world within three to four words. Although the plot moves swiftly, the author’s ability to capture Alex’s inner world in so few words give the novel depth and balance. Complex and thought-provoking.”

Visit Lauren on her website and blog
Order Her and Me and You

And, as if you're not already stoked about this book, get a little excited! Because I'm giving a copy away! That's right--your very own HER AND ME AND YOU! All you have to do is leave a comment.

Oh, and I'm in Denver through the weekend, so I won't be blogging tomorrow. Chill, people. Take a pill or something. I know you'll survive. *wink* Whether I will is debatable, so keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Writing Vs. Storytelling

Okay, so I wish I could convey to you the difference between writing and storytelling. Heck, I wish I knew so I could be a great storyteller.

I do think storytelling is higher than writing. It's something I recognize in some of the books I've read. I'll do my best to say what I think.

Writing means the words are there, in the right order, spelling out the story. There are books that are written well. I read a lot of them.

But storytelling is a masterful skill, one that not only utilizes writing, but that makes the reader feel something. Something powerful. Like they're there in the story. Or that they're in the hands of someone who knows A) where they're going B) how to get there and C) which words to use to take the reader with them.

A storyteller uses words to do more than convey meaning. They use them to make the reader feel something. These are my favorite kinds of books. I read them and pause, close my eyes, and relish in the power of the writing.

Dude, I got it! Storytelling is powerful, meaningful writing.

And I can see it almost as soon as I start reading. Usually within 10 pages.

Here are some of my favorite storytelling novels:

1. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
2. Matched by Ally Condie
3. Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
4. Ash by Melinda Lo
5. Firelight by Sophie Jordan

These novels feel powerful. They are told by storytellers, not writers. I also think they're "quieter" novels. Their power is in the quiet, beautiful writing.

What do you think? What's the difference between storytelling and writing? What are some of your powerful novels?

Oh! And go check out my journey toward publication on Adventures in Children's Publishing!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jumping On The Bandwagon

Okay, so gmail is back in business. I enjoyed my time away, let me tell you. And my weekend was relaxing, spent entirely in my pj's. True that.

Today I want to discuss something maybe a little on the controversial side, which is something I typically ignore. I'm no good at confrontation and will do almost anything to avoid it.

But I've been thinking about a few things lately (I should really stop thinking so much), and this is one of them. The Bandwagon Items (yes, capital B and I). You know what they are. Anything that all of a sudden everyone out there seems to be talking about. It could be something good. Something worthwhile; a cause or a book or helping someone who needs it. Sometimes it's something simple like a blog item on a certain day of the week, or a topic everyone seems to be gushing about. A blogfest. (Hey, don't look at me. I don't do blogfests...that was a blogging experiment.) A TV show. Whatever, whatever.

Today, I'm merely wondering what you guys think of such BI's. Do we all need to jump on? What are some reasons you don't? What are some reasons you do? And if you don't, do you ever feel left out somehow? Discuss.

Monday, October 4, 2010


So I've had people in my real life asking me this question: "What's your book about?" or "Why did you write this book?"

So okay, I thought I'd expound a little.

First, some facts:
1. POSSESSION used to be titled CONTROL ISSUES. If you've heard me talk about that before, it's the same book.
2. POSSESSION was the third novel I completed. The first two are terrible with a capital T.
3. I wrote POSSESSION in 17 days in April 2008. It was 90,000 words. This upcoming published version is about 77K.
4. I edited POSSESSION at least 20 billion times, some lightly, some heavy, some in between. This is the life of a pantser.

So there's all that.

But why did I write it? Where did the idea come from?

I can't pinpoint the time and day when I thought about the overall idea for POSSESSION. I wanted to write a dystopian novel, because I'd just read UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld (go, now. read. love). I'd never written a dystopian novel before--in fact I'd never considered writing science fiction before.

That's what geeks did, right? Um...don't answer that.

I'd been thinking a lot about my life, and the choices I'd made that had led me to where I was, and that led to the question: What would life be like if we couldn't make our own choices?

And bam! Instant brainwashing society. Just add words. So I did. I added more and more words. And a generous helping of cute boy. A pinch of angst. A teaspoon of betrayal. A handful of snark.

And POSSESSION was formed. It's not quite ready to be born yet, but I'm anxiously anticipating it's book birthday on June 7* 2011.

Favorite quote from POSSESSION: If I fell, I'd kill the stupid bad boy for making me climb up here.

So why are you writing your current WiP? Where do your ideas come from? And most important: are you a science fiction geek?

*date subject to change

Friday, October 1, 2010

Emotional Intensity!

Okay, so Christine Fonseca is one of my most fabulous friends. She brutally lovingly reads all my stuff, even in first draft form, and doesn't tell me how badly I suck. She talks me off the ledge, or just sets up a party out there.

And she's an amazing author. Her book, EMOTIONAL INTENSITY in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Deal with Explosive Feelings hits shelves TODAY!!

I've read this book, and let me tell you: It. Is. Fabulous. Everyone who has a child should buy and read this book. Everyone who has a niece or nephew should buy and read this book. Everyone who teaches children (of any age) should buy and read this book.

I strongarmed Christine into a few questions. Take it away Christine!


The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:

You are trying to kill me, aren’t you? Okay – here it is:

Helping parents and educators embrace intensity and teach life-long coping and behavior management strategies to gifted children. (11 characters to spare. Nicely done.)

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

A month ago I would have said “NO”. But as I was cleaning out some things recently, I discovered an old journal from elementary school in which I recounted my fantasies of living in NYC and being a full-time writer. So, I guess I really did plan on writing books when I was young. I do remember writing stories and myths as far back as kindergarten (and no, I will NEVER share them! Just sayin’)

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?

HA! YOU did!!! No serious, seeing EMOTIONAL INTENSITY in print was always the goal for that book. I wanted to be able to help more families than I could by teaching my classes within my school district. Publishing a book seemed the most logical next step. Given the fact that I had NO IDEA how to go about that process, I focused on writing a great book and finding an agent who could help show me the ropes. I found that in Krista Goering.

Now, my YA fiction writing…I blame my passion for that ALL of that on YOU! (and BTW, thank you for that!) (Well, we all have flaws...I take no responsibility for turning you to the dark side. *wink*)

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!

My second nonfiction book, 101 SUCCESS SECRETS FOR GIFTED KIDS comes out in late Spring. So, getting that one ready for publication is my first priority. Otherwise, I am working on several other NF projects that I can’t quite talk about right now.

Being a fiction author as well, I have my YA gothic novel A BEAUTIFUL MESS that I am seeking representation for, and a couple of other WiPs in various stages of completion.

Never a dull moment in Christine-land!


Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?

Way to ask a hard question! Hmmm…I guess I’d take my wand. After all, it’s all Harry needed when facing a dragon – maybe it’s all I’ll need when facing a whole team of them!!!

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.

Something you don’t know??? I once cage-snorkeled with sharks. No dude, really!!! About 40 of them. Coolest experience of my life. Wanna see the video? (Um, heck yeah. Sharks? Why haven't I seen this video before?? *pouts*)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate?

Dude, no question –CHOCOLATE!!! (Wrong answer, but whatever. We don't hold grudges here.)

Find Christine around the web:

So there you have it. Any questions for Christine? Are you Emotionally Intense? (Dude, I so am.)

Oh! You want more? Of course you do. Today, one lucky commenter on this post gets a FREE signed (SIGNED) copy of Emotional Intensity! Suh-weet! Comment to enter. Cross your fingers to win. Embrace the crazy to...uh, yeah. Just embrace the crazy.

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget