Friday, April 29, 2011

Patience, My Young Padawan

That's really how you spell "padawan." I may have had to look that up...

Anyway, today I wanted to bemoan talk about how much patience is needed in the publishing industry.

This can be answered in one word: Lots.

But see, if you're like me, you just don't believe that you'll have to wait. That you'll have to endure weeks of nothing, no answer, empty silence. That happens to other people. People you don't know, and don't want to.

But not you.

Strap in. It will happen to you. You'll know when it's happened because Friday becomes the worst day ever, because it means another weekend with still no answer. Trust me, I've been there.

Lemme tell you a story. When I first started trying to figure out how to publish a book, I read a lot of industry blogs. Someone said they'd taken a year off from writing just to read. I scoffed mighty loud. Yeah, right. Take a whole year off? This person was clearly insane (and no, I don't remember who it was).

See, it wasn't going to take me a year to do anything.

How I needed a Jedi Master to explain patience to me. Someone to tell me that a year is nothing in publishing. NOTHING. It's like a single blink.

I needed someone to tell me that how long it takes to get published is not a direct measure of my ability, but that many factors--including luck--will play into that equation.

I needed someone to remind me that the year of publication doesn't matter. No one did. I was always in a hurry. I still am, sometimes.

I needed someone to tell me to keep writing. Someone did. I still follow that advice (sort of) when I'm waiting, waiting to hear about something.

I needed someone to say, "Patience, my young Padawan. You'll get there."

People did. And now I say it to you. You will get there. I don't know when. And that doesn't matter.


How are you doing on the whole patience thing? Those of you who've been at this for a year, two years, five years, how have you developed patience?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

THE THIRD by Abel Keogh

Today I'm talking about THE THIRD by Abel Keogh. This kind of book is totally out of the norm for me. Why? Because it's not YA.


I know, right?

But it *is* dystopian, and it centers around something a lot of people have some sort of feeling about: How many children a family should have.

Both of those things brought the teeter-totter over to my "It's totally okay to read an adult novel," side of the spectrum.

Before I go any further, here's a little bit about THE THIRD: When Ransom Lawe, a recycler in the Pacific Northwest, finds out his wife is pregnant with their third—-and therefore illegal—-child, he’s forced to choose between the government who proclaims a desire to save the planet and his hope for a place where his family can live in freedom. But with the Census Bureau Sentinels closing in on his wife and unborn child, Ransom’s choice will either save his family or tear them apart forever.

So, see, who can resist that? I couldn't. I enjoyed the story, the writing was fantastic, but the best part were the characters. I liked Ransom and his wife, Teya, just fine. They seemed like real people, with real problems that a reader can connect to.

But the character I found the most fascinating was Teya's sister, Mona. Mona worked for the government. She upheld all the laws, all the rules, and was adamant about keeping her reproductive credit, even when it could've saved her sister.

Yet she had something that was against the law. And she shared it with Ransom and Teya. This twist, this character "flaw," if you will, fascinated me. I wanted to know more about Mona's story, more about her background, more about how she did this illegal thing and A) kept it a secret and B) didn't view it the same as she did other points in the law.

That's when I fell in love with the book. When I see characters that seem completely black and white, turn gray. I love that.

So check out Abel Keogh's website to read the first chapter for free, and pick up a copy of THE THIRD. If you like dystopian fiction with a lot of action and high emotional stakes, you'll like this.

Reminder: My Tag, You're It contest ends today! Check it out if you haven't already.

Don’t forget to stop by Myra McEntire’s blog for more awesome info on our first Bookanistas Give Back project. The giveaways end on April 30.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obtainable Goals

Okay, so I taught a class at the first ever Teen Author Boot Camp last weekend. It was loaded with awesome authors and awesome classes and awesome teens! (Special thanks to the people at Writers Cubed who organized the whole thing.)

Kiersten White was the keynote speaker. Besides her mad drawing skillz, she said some really great things.

The one I liked best concerned goals.

She said: Don't make other people your goal.

I've done this. It's not pretty. You can't count yourself unsuccessful because Author X is only 22 and published. Since you're obviously over the age of 22, you'll never be published.

Sounds stupid when you put it like that, right?

I liked this advice a lot, because often I compare myself to other people. They become my goal. And that's not healthy. I can't control what happens to them. I can barely control what happens to me.

What I can control is what I write and how hard I work. So those are the things that need to be focused on when setting goals. How much I write in a day. How many pages I edit. Which story gets my attention. That sort of thing.

So. What are your goals? Are you using other people to make your goals come true?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tell A Big Fat Lie Tuesday: Reviews

Dude, I totally don't care about reviews. Not from book bloggers, not from the industry professionals, not from anyone. I welcome scathing comments. I enjoy it when people say my book is confusing, hard to read, and inferior to other novels.

I just don't care. I am immune.

Bring on the soul-damaging, depression-inducing reviews! I likez them.

My favorite review?
"...fails..." ~Kirkus

I'm stoked for what the future might hold in the review department. Can you tell? Why are reviews so hard to stomach? At least I'm not on national TV, being torn apart in front of a live television audience.

***This blog post was brought to you by sarcasm, fibs-I-tell-myself, and the letter J.

***This next portion brought to you by non-sarcasm: I support anyone who writes reviews of any book. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and should be able to express it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Never Give Up

Okay, so this isn't a new topic around the blogosphere or anything. I've sort of had it as my motto for a while. Those of you who've been here for a while know how many queries I sent out. *cough, cough*

Anyway, this concept was just reinforced on my trip to New York. I was walking down 5th Avenue, and I saw some swim shorts in a display window, and I veered right into the store. (Not for me, obviously. For my son.) I started talking with the sales guy, and snapping pictures to text to my kid to see which ones he liked. (Technology = win.)

I'm wandering, texting, picturing. My mom, meanwhile, is chatting up the salesman. A few minutes later, he comes over to congratulate me on my forthcoming novel. (Thanks, Mom.) He says he's a writer; I ask him some questions, and the conversation comes down to "Never give up."

Then he shows me his forearm*. He actually has it tattooed there.

Never give up.

I shoulda snapped a picture of that**.

I think sometimes I need a reminder of this. So today, I salute Luka (no lie! LUKA. Who's singing the song right now? "My name is Luka. I live on the second floor." Come on, you know this one...right?) for his tattoo reminder to never give up.

What's your motto? (Nothing. What's the motto with you? Okay, #lame) Will you give up? (I hope not. I also hope this is the end of my parentheticals. Jeez.)

*This was not as creepy as it sounds.

**This would've been totally creeper behavior. I may or may not have twitched toward the camera on my phone.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Not like animal sacrifice or anything. But I went to New York City last week (as if you didn't know) and I was answering some questions on video, when something I said snagged in my mind. I can't really remember what the question was, and I didn't prepare answers so that everything would feel fresh and spontaneous. But I've been thinking about sacrifice ever since.

As writers, we have to sacrifice in order to find time to write. Sure, there are some people out there who can write full time (I sort of hate them in my love-hate way). But most of us have to juggle the many facets of our lives. Work, spouse, dinner, holidays, kids, and writing.

How does an author do that?


Something has to give. So what do you sacrifice so you can write? Is it worth it?

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Okay, so THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES is pretty much one of the first series I've finished since Harry Potter. No lie. I think I outlined my feelings about sequels and series in another post. Generally, they're not my favorite, because there's so many books out there waiting to be read. I want to get to know as many people as possible, and I generally don't have time for a series.

However, THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES is a little bit different. It's a companion novel to THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and THE DEAD TOSSED WAVES, all by the magnificent Carrie Ryan. I enjoy companion novels much more. There are new people to fall in love with.

And this one has one of my favorites: Catcher.

But first, a little blurb about THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES: There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.

But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

There are many things I like about this series, this book. The first is the writing. Carrie Ryan is a master of present tense, and I decided to try my hand at it after reading her work.

Second, I love the complex relationships Annah has with her sister, with Elias, and with Catcher. They feel messy and imperfect, and very very human. I like that a lot.

If you haven't read this series, you must add it to your list! Start with THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and just try not to fall in love. I double-zombie-dare-ya.

Remember! I'm giving away a signed copy of this book (along with MATCHED and POSSESSION) in conjunction with the Bookanistas Give Back. Click here for details on that.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Makes A Story Great?

So I've been doing a lot of reading lately, and I've been thinking (always dangerous). Sometimes I'm reading along, and something amazing happens and I think, I love this book.

Which makes me wonder: What makes a story great? When you're reading, when do you know you love a book? Can you fall out of love after having that I love this book moment?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What I Learned About Teen Readers

Dude, so I met several librarians while I was in New York City last week. I love talking with book people. They really get things, and I enjoyed learning from them.

Biggest thing I learned: Teens have very little time to read for enjoyment. I'll admit, I was sort of shocked by this. But the librarians said that teens have so much required reading for school, that they don't have much time for recreational reading.

This surprised me, though it feels true inside. I mean, there are a lot of YA books out there. It seems to be a happening market. So to hear an industry person say that teens aren't actually reading for fun made me stop and think: Then who's reading all the YA novels that are being published?

So I ask you: Who's reading all the YA novels that are being published? And do you think it's true that teens are overburdened with required reading for school that they don't have time to read for fun?

Monday, April 18, 2011

New York Picture Recap

Okay, so I'm planning to fill you in on a lot of things New York, but today, I'm just giving you the best of NYC in pictures.


Me and my mom at the airport.

Me on top of the Empire State Building.

Me with my editor, Anica Rissi, and fellow author, Terra McVoy.

Does this need a caption?


Central Park in the mist. There's something I love about mist... Remember my buffalo post?

Me with the wall of Possession at S&S. Totally surreal.

I love the city. I mean, absolutely, 100% love it. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Friday, April 8, 2011

EARTHLING HERO by Anita Laydon Miller

Anita Laydon Miller recently left a sought-after literary agency to e-publish her middle grade novel. She's here today to talk about the setting of her sci-fi and to show us a short video of one of the settings.

So let's welcome her to the blog today!


Hey! Thanks for having me! First off, bear with a short description of EARTHLING HERO and then I’ll explain things in a bit more detail.

Imagine waking one summer night to see someone standing beside your bed. The “someone” is a complete stranger, but looks exactly like you. That’s what happens to eleven-year-old Mikey Murphy. The next few days are filled with adventures—breaking into a high-security military installation, engaging expert assassins in hand-to-hand combat, searching for an evil alien’s hideout in the middle of a national landmark—all with two new alien friends at his side. Can Mikey and his friends survive their adventures and save the world?

EARTHLING HERO is set in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area. The “high-security military installation” mentioned in the description is NORAD. It’s a real-life facility that’s built inside a mountain. I went on a tour there to pump myself up for writing those scenes. In the scenes, Mikey, his alien clone Axe, and Axe’s sister Aurora break into the facility to retrieve a much-needed device.

Mikey also fights a group of nasty assassins. The fight scene occurs within a CIA agent’s Black Forest, Colorado home. Agent Alvarado is fictional, but the home is based on one I’ve actually visited.

In another section of the book, Mikey, Axe and Aurora search for an evil alien’s lair in Garden of the Gods. (Oh my heck! I just visited Garden of the Gods last October, and it is GORGEOUS!) Technological information points the kids in the direction of the Siamese Twins rock formation. The short video below shows me at the rock formation. I’m pointing out the area where the kids searched, and then I read a short segment from the scene, while sitting near the formation.

Thanks for joining me on this journey! Please visit my blog for a link to buy EARTHLING HERO for just $.99.


Also, I'm leaving for New York City tomorrow! I've never been more excited in my life! So while I'm off touring and lunching and learning to walk in high heels, I won't be blogging. But you can count on me plastering my blog with pictures when I get back!

So what'd you think of Anita? Go check out her book!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tag, You're It

Dude, only two more months until POSSESSION debuts! You know what that means. Or maybe you don't. But it's contest time!!

This month, I'm revealing a little bit more about the world of POSSESSION. It's set in the future, and everything is coded. The people have cards with bar codes. The government uses iris recognizers. They can even implant you with a bar code bracelet if you're particularly troublesome and they want to keep their eye on you.

It's called a tag.

From POSSESSION: "In the Goodgrounds, that's really, really bad. Every scanner, every reader, will pick up the tag. Alarms will wail. Everyone will know what you are. A loser. A criminal."

The main character, Vi, and her prison buddy, Jag, get sentenced to be tagged. This is what Jag has to say about that: "No way. You will not touch me with your Goodie tech crap."

This is what Vi thinks: "No way in hell they're tagging Jag."

So, we're having fun with tags this month in the "Tag, You're It" contest of epic awesomeness!

On the POSSESSION Facebook fanpage wall, participants will “tag” someone they would do anything to keep from getting tagged. Would you bust them out of prison? Stand in a cold shower so they wouldn’t get marked? Endure eating mushrooms to save them?

Anyone who “tags” someone else on the FB fanpage wall AND fills out the form on the “Welcome” tab will be entered to win a prize. What's up for grabs?

Three levels:
1. Exclusive, sneak-peek at an author-notated first chapter of POSSESSION (many)
2. POSSESSION prize pack: bookmarks, bookplates, stickers, and/or postcards (10 prize packs = 10 winners)

3. Signed ARC of POSSESSION + prize pack (1 winner)

Winners will NOT be announced. You’ll just get something fun and amazing in your email inbox. And you won’t know if--or what--you’ve won until you get that email.

The requirements:
1. Post on the FB wall
2. Fill out the form on the "Welcome" tab on the fanpage
3. "Like" the FB Possession page

If you spread the word through blogs/twitter, you can add an entry in the form.

Easy to tweet!

And grab this badge for your blog!

Tag You’re It Contest

So? How'd I do? Excited? You should be, because the email notifications for prize winners are going to be FRAWESOME. Above and beyond a regular email. Just sayin'...

Who would you save from taggage?
(Be sure you put this on the fanpage as well!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This Dream I Had

Okay, so I don't dream all that often. And I've never had this flash of lightning for a story whilst dreaming/sleeping.

But the other night, I had this dream. Full of weird stuff, and people I know from all different areas of my life. Some high school friends. Some characters from books.

And Beth Revis.

That's right. So there's Beth, and she's the music teacher at this school where I was teaching too--just what I was teaching is a mystery. But Beth was hosting this like, live sing-in as a protest against the Westin's.

Who are the Westin's? I wasn't really sure, but I knew they were BAD. They were trying to take over our part of the country. Or something. So I sat down at the sing-in, where Beth was strumming away on her guitar, and some of my old high school friends were there.

So, of course, I morphed into a teenager. And then this boy sat down next to me, and we really hit it off, and he asked me out, and I said yes.

Then I walked, seriously, like ten feet from the sing-in to the door of my apartment, where I lived with my sister. But she wasn't really my sister. Well, she was, but it wasn't my real, biological sister--it was this character from a book.

Weird, I know.

And she hated me (she was one of the mean girls in the book), and we didn't talk, and when this cute boy came to pick me up--hours later, mind you--my sister had her two friends over. And he introduced himself since I didn't exactly know his last name, as Chris Westin, and my sister paled and her friends stared.

I knew the name should me something to me, but Chris was cute, and suddenly we were in college, so I could do whatever I wanted, and so we left the apartment.

That's when I woke up. And my first thought was: "I should write a book about this."

My second: "About WHAT, exactly? Beth Revis playing the guitar? There's no story here, you moron."

My third: "Man, I'm tired. My head feels fuzzy... zzz."

So yeah. Those are the kinds of things you think after you've had a codeine-induced dream. Weird, yeah?

Where do you get your story ideas? Dreams? Random places? Narcotics? Do tell.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tell the Truth Tuesday: Zombie Flu Edition

Holy Undead, Batman! It's amazing how completely ruined I was last week. I'm thankful for all the well-wishes, but mostly, I'm thankful for:

1. Codeine.
2. Antibiotics.
3. My bed and pillow.
4. Water.
5. Chap-stick.
6. Fast food.
7. Sick days.
8. Substitutes.
9. My family.
10. Ally Condie and Carrie Ryan. (For making Wednesday fun.)

Photo by Heather Gardner (@fireicephotos)
ZOMBIES! I am actually scared of myself in this picture...
(And those are some fabulous Utah book bloggers, and Utah authors Brodi Ashton and Bree Despain!)

Things I Know I Missed:
1. The WriteOnCon chat of awesome.
2. Anything pop culture related.
3. Commenting on your blogs.

As a result of #3, tell me! What's going on with you right now? What are you most thankful for this uh, tax season?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bookanistas Give Back

Okay, so today we're going deep and personal and hopefully awesome. It all started with Myra McEntire (HOURGLASS, Egmont, June 14), who all by herself deserves a post of amazingness. She's a member of The Bookanistas, and she's spearheading our very first "Bookanistas Give Back" event.

About a year ago Myra had a crazy writer dream.

Charlie Bewley, Demetri from the Twilight Saga films, walked into it. He promptly demanded that she cast him as the villain in the book she was working on.

Since then, through several sets of strange circumstances, Myra has gotten to know Charlie Bewley. He's wickedly smart, very kind, and all-in-all a precious human. A few weeks ago, Myra learned that he was running an ultramarathon in an attempt to raise funds for a cancer hospital. Read this gorgeous post to learn why. His heart on the matter came through so truthfully and authentically, that Myra wanted to find a way to help.

And she recruited all of us, inspiring us to go beyond ourselves. Brilliant.

Charitable donations are a very personal thing. There are so many ways our hard earned money can help others, and lately our world seems to be breaking into pieces around us. Needs are many and great. The Bookanistas want to give back, so in the coming months, we're going to be looking for ways to pour into communities, both bookish and worldwide.

Logo by Elle Sharp
For the month of April, we've chosen to spotlight Run For Your Life, largely because the framework is already set up (we'd like to keep it simple our first time out), and also because of personal connections to the cause. Most everyone knows someone who has battled cancer or lost a loved one to it.

To encourage you to donate, we're going to give away some sweet prizes! Here's how it will work:

1. Go to the Run For Your Life page.

2. Make a donation. $5 is suggested, but lower or higher is fine. (Also know that for every dollar you donate, you'll be entered to win a private, advance screening for twenty people for Breaking Dawn. The Bookanistas have NOTHING to do with that part - that's all Charlie and Summit Entertainment.)

3. Come back and fill out the entry form on this page.

We're trusting you to be honest about giving, and about the amount you give.

4. The Bookanistas will be giving away a selection of prizes (see list below). You will be entered one time for each dollar you donate ($5 = 5 entries). If you wish to be entered to win a specific prize, let us know in the designated section of the entry form.

5. We're following the guidelines set forth by Run for Your Life, which means this particular event will only be open to those in North America. Entries will be closed on April 30th, and we will contact randomly selected winners shortly thereafter.

6. Spread the word. Tweet, post the Run For Your Life logo (code below) with a link to Charlie's site on your blog, or Facebook about the event, and receive an extra entry. Place a link in the place provided on the entry form.

Tweet here! Easy as clicking.

Badge: simply copy the code to put in your sidebar.

Run For Life

From Shannon Messenger:
A signed copy of WHITE CAT and a signed copy of RED GLOVE by Holly Black

From Carrie Harris:
A 50 page manuscript critique

From Jessi Kirby:
A signed copy of MOONGLASS

From Gretchen McNeil:
A swag pack of POSSESS goodies and a query critique

From Corrine Jackson:
A 50 page manuscript critique

From Stasia Kehoe:
A signed ARC of AUDITION

From Shana Silver:
A query and first chapter critique

From Lisa and Laura Roecker:
A signed copy of LIAR SOCIETY and bookmarks

From Shelli Johannes-Wells:
A box of ten mystery advance reader copies

From Megan Miranda:
Query letter + first chapter critique

From Christine Fonseca:

From Myra McEntire:
A signed copy of DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins, a signed copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, a signed copy of TORMENT by Lauren Kate, a unicorn, AND a one of a kind, signed and annotated advance reader copy of HOURGLASS.

From Veronica Rossi:
A 50 page manuscript critique

From me, Elana Johnson:
A Dystopian Trifecta of Awesome - a signed copy of THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES by Carrie Ryan, a signed copy of MATCHED by Ally Condie, and a signed ARC of my own POSSESSION.

Enter below, and THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROSITY. It takes so little to help make a difference.

Friday, April 1, 2011

One Piece of Advice

In celebration of the early release of Christine Fonseca's 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids, I'm offering up some advice today.

If I could give a child one piece of advice for life, it would be: Take many classes, explore many options, travel many roads so you can find what it is you like. Then do what you like.

What would you say?

Grab the graphic if you want, post on your blog!

See Elana's recent blog posts

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