Friday, September 30, 2011

How To Get Ideas

Dude, for me, this is pretty simple. It's not earth-shattering either. Or brain-bending.

It's easy.

Live your life.

No one can write all the time, 24-hours a day. It would be impossible. Eventually you'll get burned out, and besides, where would all your novel fodder come from?

Because let's face it, there are some things you just can't make up. That's the whole "stranger than fiction" thing you've heard about. It's true, people.

For example, I'm drafting away, and I need every spare minute to write. But where do I go on Monday night?

A Mascot bowl.

That's right. Get jealous. Picture proof below:

I think that's a badger. Playing the drums. Stranger than fiction? Uh, yeah.

Green man percussion group from UVU. Weird, and not for the reasons you think. It totally bugged me that their gloves weren't the same shade of green as their unitards. And you always win when you can use "unitard" in a real conversation.

The bull from USU getting the crowd fired up. Or something. I pretty much sat there the whole night, but it was fun. And yes, those are the Rocky Mountains. Just being outside is refreshing.

The mascots getting ready to receive the kick. 

Everyone needs to take a break from writing. Everyone needs to get out there and live their real life. For me, that's when the best ideas come. Even if they're not life-shattering. They still come, and they allow me to refresh myself to live inside the page again.

How do you get your ideas? Have you ever been to a mascot bowl? I highly recommend it. It was pretty much the highlight of my week.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

CLOCKWISE by Elle Strauss

Dude, today I'm uber-excited to have Elle Strauss here today to talk about writing, her book, and everything in between!

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less: A teen time traveler accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
My next book is going to be completely opposite in feel, a darker drama about a boy who grows up in Hitler Youth, tentatively called PLAYING WITH MATCHES. After that, look for another light and fun romance set in the Merfolk world called SEAWEED.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No, I’m probably among the few who discovered my passion later in life. But it’s never too late, is it!

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
Well, this is an interesting story, since, though I have an agent, I’m not publishing CLOCKWISE traditionally. It is the manuscript that got me my agent, but it turns out editors were either not interested in time travel or they wanted edgier time travel. My agent encouraged me to indie-publish because she believed it should get out there and read!

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.
I was born in Chicago to Canadian parents, so I actually have dual citizenship. I have two passports, though I’ve lived most of my life in Canada and so culturally I’m more Canadian, eh?

Best writing advice?
Don’t write what you know (necessarily), write what you’d like to know. Also, the first draft will be crap— don’t fight it, just finish it.

What’s your schedule like? How do you manage the insanity of writing among your real life?
My schedule has changed dramatically this year since my youngest child now drives (!). It’s pretty fluid from day to day, what needs to be done. The “what” has changed a lot, too, since putting on a publisher’s hat.

Would you kiss a frog to get a prince?

Favorite board game:
Scrabble (Oooh, yes. Word games. Nice.)

Bacon or chocolate?
Chocolate (Foiled again!)

Quick! You’ve been chosen as a contestant on Survivor! What luxury item do you take?
Soap, but a toothbrush would be a close second. (Soap? Okay, I guess that's a luxury item.)

Also, CLOCKWISE is launching electronically this week and it’s only 2.99 on Amazon, £2.17 on! To celebrate, Elle is giving away five debut books by authors that you can meet on her blog tour which is happening now.

LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden
THE CLEARING by Anne Riley
PERILOUS by Tamara Hart Heiner
THE HATING GAME by Talli Roland

How to win? Sign up for Elle’s newsletter (left side on her blog) to enter. For extra entries just comment on any blog in the tour. The more blogs you visit and comment on the more chances you have to win.

Five books, five days, five winners!

So go check that out, okay?

What's a debut you've read that you really enjoyed?

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

Or on their blogs:

Monday, September 26, 2011


Dude, if you sort of sing that in a sing-songy voice, you'll be right with me.

So I've been giving this a lot of thought. You know, the I've-been-stewing-over-this-change-for-about-three-months type of a lot of thought.

I've put it off. Put it back on. Talked to a few people about it. Kept even more in the dark. Complained via IM. Took all that back.

You know the drill.

But today, I'm going to make the change.

I know you're all on the edges of your seats, wondering what I could've possibly been squirming about for months.

Here you go: my blogging schedule.

I just can't keep up. I can't keep up with writing my posts, and I can't keep up with reading everything out there. I can't even keep up with simply reading the blogs of those who comment on mine.

So, in an attempt to A) free up more time for myself, B) write better blog posts, C) visit your blogs as much as possible, D) ease my guilt, and E) write two more books by the end of the year (that's right, baby! Two more books in three months!), I'm going to change my blogging schedule.

From now on, I'm only going to blog on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. So, uh, I guess I'll catch you on Thursday? Yeah, Thursday.

What's your blogging schedule like?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five

Okay, I'm really going to try to stick to five things. You know how things like this go with me. But hey, it's my list so there.

1. I have failed at blogging this week. It has been one of "those" weeks, where you go to the dentist (twice), the post office, and entertain your family who brought you a new bed (which you haven't set up yet). In the same week.

I apologize. I will try to get to some blogs this weekend. But there is that whole new-bed thing, so yeah...

2. I am going to finish my first draft of Book 3 by September 30. I am, I am. Maybe. Hopefully. I've been drafting like crazy, and I still have a long way to go, but hey, I might make it. *checks Google cal*

Yeah, I might make it.

3. I booked my hotel for the tour in California! I'm a titch on the OCD side, and I've been looking for weeks. Finally, I just picked one, and I can't wait for October 17!

4. I have lost 20 pounds. Okay, 19.6, but if we were rounding, it would be 20. So take that, math geniuses. Turns out your body doesn't need 50,000 calories/day to stay alive...

5. I started reading LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS with my daughter last night. She's in first grade, so she can read for short spurts. I have such great memories of those books from my childhood, that I'm hoping this will be something fun for her.

What's on your Friday Five? Drafting? Blogging? Booking hotels? Eating healthier? Reading? Lay it on me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

SHIFTING by Bethany Wiggins

Dude, it excites me greatly to be talking about SHIFTING today. See, I read an early version of this book. And by "early version," I mean Bethany let me read it before she even queried agents.

One word: Brilliant.

Here's a little bit more about SHIFTING: After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Magdalene Mae is transferred to what should be her last foster home in the tiny town of Silver City, New Mexico. Now that she's eighteen and has only a year left in high school, she's determined to stay out of trouble and just be normal. Agreeing to go to the prom with Bridger O'Connell is a good first step. Fitting in has never been her strong suit, but it's not for the reasons most people would expect--it all has to do with the deep secret that she is a shape shifter. But even in her new home danger lurks, waiting in the shadows to pounce. They are the Skinwalkers of Navajo legend, who have traded their souls to become the animal whose skin they wear--and Maggie is their next target.

First off, you'll fall in love with Maggie Mae. She's interesting, and in a whole new way. I'm always salivating for that one thing that makes a book special. In SHIFTING, that thing is Maggie Mae.

Unless, of course, we're going to talk about Bridger--which we are, because you know how I like secretive, mysterious guys. Bridger is all that, and more.

Second, Navajo legend! Something unique, something different from other novels. I loved the legends in SHIFTING, because it almost felt like magic. (And I think it's been well-established that I adore magic.)

The shifting scenes were done beautifully, the bad guys are oh-my-heck-bad-guys!, and the characters breathe life into the YA paranormal genre in a whole new way.

I loved this book. I hope you will too. SHIFTING comes out on September 27--that's Tuesday, people! TUESDAY.

Don't you just love Tuesdays? That's when all the new books come out, you know?

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

Or on their blogs:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Motivation? You Want Motivation?

Okay, fine. Here's some motivation for you.

First off, I could cite any number of sports movies, most of which have some basis in fact. I mean, seriously. INVINCIBLE?

One of the greats. A regular guy tries out for--and makes the team of--a professional football team. If you haven't seen it, dude, Redbox it up tonight.

THE NATURAL. Baseball.

HOOSIERS. Basketball.

FOREVER STRONG. Rugby. (One of my faves, FYI. The MC has a lot of anger, and you know how I feel about angsty, angry teens. Or maybe you don't... I sense another blog post coming on!)

SOUL SURFER. Swimming/Surfing. (Let the record show that I haven't seen this movie, but it sounds like a girl overcoming the odds to keep on surfing. Yeah?)

I won't bore you to death with more sports movies. In fact, I'm sort of embarrassed I know so many. (RUDY, MIRACLE, THE BLIND SIDE, CINDERELLA MAN, SEABISCUIT, REMEMBER THE TITANS... Okay, okay, I'll stop now.)

The point is, people overcome the odds. They go up against the things stacked against them, and they win.

Why can't you?

You can.

I queried two novels before I found an agent. I sent well into the hundreds the first time, and well into the hundreds the second. I endured a combined total of 16 months of querying. I have 188 rejections for Possession alone.

I prevailed.

You can too.

How's that for motivation? What motivates you? (In case you haven't seen it, go here to see New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis (ACROSS THE UNIVERSE) talk about motivation. It's priceless.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Do You Know?

Okay, so when I went to type in this title, I'd already blogged it once. So I sort of had a mini-freak-out, but decided to write this post before I even went to look at the other one. You never know, right?

Today I wanted to answer a question I seem to get asked a lot: How do you know?

When you get feedback from a critique partner, how do you know if it's something you should do or not?

How do you know when you're finished with your novel? With your query letter?

How do you know which agent to query?

How do you know if you're doing the right thing? On the right path?

My answer: Author confidence.

I think it all comes down to how confident you are as an author. If you get notes back from a CP, and they "sound" right, they're probably right. You gotta trust your gut.

You know you've finished a novel when you've written it the best you can. How do you know when that is? Author confidence. For me, it's the point when I go, "Well, I've read this $&%(#*! thing forty thousand times. This is as good as it gets without help."

Then I subject other people to reading for me, to spot the problems I've somehow missed.

I think almost any question with the words "How do you know?" can be answered with author confidence. Listen to your gut. And trust yourself.

So, how do you know? Do you have author confidence? Do you trust your gut?

And here's my first How Do You Know? post. Interesting.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Your Jerry Seinfeld Skin

So an alternate title for this post could be "Fake it Till You Make it" but I'm a huge Seinfeld fan, so yeah.

Today we're going to talk pretend. I'm not sure, and I didn't spend time looking online (I am just that lazy, or maybe I'm drafting a novel...), but I believe it was comedian Jerry Seinfeld who once said that when he steps on stage, he pretends.

He has to. People are expecting him to be funny. Even if he's had a bad day, gotten in a fight, etc.

I sometimes feel like this is what we have to do online. We want to put our best foot forward. We should want to be on our best behavior.

And, we have to fake it until we make it. You want more followers? Think like Jerry Seinfeld. More comments? Jerry Seinfeld.

He puts on his best act every time he steps on stage. Your blog is your stage. Are you putting on your best act? If you do, people will come.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Writing VS. Writing For Publication

Okay, so I sort of feel like this post should go up on a Tuesday, as it's sort of a confessional. I don't know, I guess all my posts are like a confessional. I mean, seriously.

I just want to say this: Writing is totally different than writing for publication. One is fun; one is suffocating. One is you writing whatever you want. The other is freaking out because your draft is a terrible no-good piece of trash, and you'll never get it right. One is why you started writing, the other is why you keep writing.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, because I'm not. I'm simply saying that once you publish a book, you can't go back. (I may have stolen this post idea from Suits--which is the best. show. ever. Watch it. Love it. Let's chat.)

You can't go back to being not-published. You can't go back to your suckish ways. Everything you produce has to be "publishable."

That's where the choking fear comes in. And the suffocation. And the reason you keep writing. It's a blessing and a curse to be writing for publication.

In the past, I've had what I called a "pet project" that I wrote. No one knew about it, and I allowed myself to stink it up, be as indulgent as I wanted, and leave gaping plot holes. I quit doing that about a year ago, when life got crazy and I actually had to produce a book that will be published.

I miss that pet project time. So, today, I will take back my writing. I will do both: write for publication, and simply write for me.

Are you enjoying your writing time? Why or why not? Do you have a pet project, where you allow yourself to write badly?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

TEXAS GOTHIC by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Okay, so I've been waiting a ridiculously long time to talk about this book. I know, I know, I could've moved it up, but I've committed to some things, and then there were release dates, and yada yada yada, the day is finally here!

TEXAS GOTHIC by Rosemary Clement-Moore: Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

Dude. There are many things to like about this book. Let's examine.

Exhibit A: The clever. I am a huge fan of clever, and TEXAS GOTHIC has it in spades. From clever writing, to clever dialogue, to clever characters.

The dialogue between Amy and Ben is spot-on. Heck, the dialogue is spot-on everywhere. The things Amy thinks are clever and witty--and perfectly true to the story.

Exhibit B: The characters. Amy pops right off the page, as does her sister. They're both well-developed for me, though one is entrenched in "witchcraft" and the other is trying to maintain her "normal" appearance.

Their profiles are well-drawn. They acted like sisters, without acting out-of-character. They complimented each other, while Amy was still able to shine in her protagonist role.

Exhibit C: The cowboy. Okay, so maybe I'm biased, but dude. The first book I ever wrote took place in Montana, simply so I could have the male MC be a cowboy. I'm ridiculously attracted to cowboys. Lame, I know.

Which gives TEXAS GOTHIC an advantage over most other books, because as soon as I read the word "cowboy hat" I was sold.

That said, Ben is a great character. Complex; someone who lost something in order to come back and do the cowboy thing. And did I mention his clever dialogue? Okay, I did.

Exhibit D: The magic. I love magic. I love thinking about magic. I love reading about magic. I wish I could do magic. And TEXAS GOTHIC has a special kind of magic that appeal to the magic-fiend in me.

So yeah. If you haven't read TEXAS GOTHIC, put it on your list. You won't be sorry.

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

Or on their blogs:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's an 800th Post Party!

Dude, so there are some exciting things afoot in the POSSESSION world. Also, this is my 800th post. EIGHT HUNDRED POSTS. I don't know whether I should be proud of this or hide in embarrassment that I've posted eight-freaking-hundred times. Jury's still out.

1. POSSESSION Book Battle! Crushing on Zenn or Jag? Are you a Goodie or a Baddie? Who will win in the POSSESSION saga? YOU get to decide--play the POSSESSION Book Battle on Facebook.

I'm so excited about this. I can't even tell you how often I go check the results, and it's only been live for 2 days! I am just that lame. I would love you forever (as if I don't already) if you'd go play just so I can have my daily hourly minutely fix of checking the poll results.

Good thing I get Facebook on my phone, so I can access this at work.

2. POSSESSION playlist on iTunes! Admit it, you want to know what songs inspire authors. I know I do. Music is a huge part of my writing life, and I have different playlists for each of my novels--and separate playlists I listen to while editing those novels.

You can check out the POSSESSION playlist, and maybe see if some of the songs inspire you in your writing!

3. POSSESSION Fall Tour! That's right, friends! I am leaving Utah! I hope the world is ready for this. Heck, I hope I'm ready for this. I do have about a trillion events right here in Utah, so if you're around, please see if you can come! (Or tell your teenagers, their teachers, librarians, etc.)

My fall schedule as of last night. (There are still a few things in the works.)
Utah RWA Meeting
Pitching to Agents & Editors
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Murrary Library, 10 AM
Click here for more information

Utah Valley University Book Academy
Blogging Basics
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Utah Valley University

Book Signing with authors Becca Fitzpatrick, Moira Young, and Michelle Hodkin
Tuesday, October 11
Provo City Library
550 North University Avenue
Provo, Utah 84601
7:00 PM

Book Signing/Panel with authors Tyler Whitesides and Amber Argyle
Saturday, October 15
Logan Library
255 North Main
Logan, UT 84321
2:00 PM

Book Signing with authors Kirsten Hubbard, Jessi Kirby, and John Corey Whaley
Wednesday, October 19
Mysterious Galaxy
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Suite #302
San Diego, CA 92111
7:00 PM

Book Signing with authors Kirsten Hubbard, Jessi Kirby, and John Corey Whaley
Thursday, October 20
Oceanside Barnes & Noble
2615 Vista Way
Oceanside, CA 92054
6:00 - 8:00 PM

Teaching Through Literature Discussions
Thursday, November 10
Alpine School District, Professional Development Center
575 N. 100 E.
American Fork, UT
4:00 - 6:30 PM

Provo Teen Book Festival with authors Ally Condie, Robison Wells, and Kristen Landon
Saturday, November 12
Provo City Library
550 North University Avenue
Provo, Utah 84601
12:00 - 5:00 PM

I think I'm most excited about meeting Becca Fitzpatrick and Michelle Hodkin and Moira Young. Or maybe the trip to California. Or maybe the Teen Book Festival--they're decorating like the world from POSSESSION!

Okay, maybe I'm just easily excitable.

I know POSSESSION is my book, and I'm the most excited about these things. Thanks for visiting today! I have some super-exciting things coming up in celebration of my 800th post--and they involve POSSESSION-inspired art. I'm hoping to put all the details together for a giveaway next week... Stay tuned!

Do you listen to music while writing? Do you attend author events? Am I pathetic for having so many blog posts? Wait. Don't answer that last one...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tell the Truth Tuesday: What My First Draft Looks Like

Okay, so I'm in first-draft mode again. Writing, writing, writing, as per my "new year's resolutions" I posted a few weeks ago.

I saw this picture on Facebook, and it pretty much sums up what my first drafts look like in my head...

           ...aaaannndd in actuality:

So yeah.

What does your first draft look like?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Path You're On

Dude, so publishing these days has about a kajillion different paths an author can take. Every writer needs to stop and breathe for just a second. Take stock of where you are.

Is it where you want to be?

And if not, are you at least on the path that will take you where you want to be?

That's what's important, because we can't get to the Pacific Ocean if we're driving east. You know?

You might not be there yet, but you should be on the right path.

So, what do you want? Are you on the right path?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Getting Yourself Out There in 30 Minutes or Less

Dude, so this week of BLLuRT-ing has been super fun, yeah? I've enjoyed seeing your posts and reading what you love about books. It's been fun for me to see the enthusiasm we readers have. On Wednesday we talked a little bit about publicity, and what the average reader can do for authors.

Today, I'm going to touch on a few things authors can do to promote themselves in just a few minutes each day. (And we're talking authors like me, not say, authors like Scott Westerfeld, or someone equally as huge.)

1. Respond. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it's not. I know that you're busy. So am I. So is everyone. IF POSSIBLE, respond to the emails you get, the blog comments, the tweets, the Facebook messages.

Everyone drops the ball sometimes, but no one wants to feel like they're talking into a vacuum. I can usually respond to every blog comment I get via email in about 30 minutes/night. (Whether I do it or not is entirely another matter...)

2. Blog regularly. That way, when you do have something to say about your book (or an event, a cover reveal, a deal, etc.) it won't be THE ONLY thing you say. I'm not saying you have to blog everyday. You'll have to analyze your schedule and see what works for you.

I typically write all my blog posts for a week on the weekend. It takes me about an hour. (Short posts, FTW!) Then all I have to do is respond to comments, try to get to as many blogs as I can, etc.

3. Repay the favor. If someone comments on your blog, comment on theirs. Remember that every time you do something like this, you're leaving your name and link behind.

Something else that goes here is: celebrate the success of others. Retweet their amazing news. RT-ing takes virtually no time.

Those are the big genralities. Let's zone in a little bit:

Twitter is designed to be fast and easy (140 characters or less! You don't have time to talk forever!). Make it so. Organize your lists if that's what it takes. Respond to those who tweet to you. Seek out other people in your genre.

All of this can be done in 15 minutes/day. (Of course, I spend a lot more time than that on twitter, mostly as a procrastination technique. Ha!) How?
1. Tweet during "dead time" from your phone.
2. Take one day per week, and use those 15 minutes to find people to follow.
3. Target one of your lists, tweet to those people for your allotted time.
4. Tweet something interesting, and then field replies for 15 minutes.
5. Join one of the many hashtag chats. Participate for the hour. Follow those in the chat.

Facebook is a plethora of different things. Photos. Videos. Links. Blog posts. Status Updates. For me, I choose to participate only in the status update realm. This helps me get through many hours of updates in only 15 minutes.

Other tips:
1. Like stuff. This is a one-click wonder that lets the person know you came, read, liked.
2. Type a quick comment. It's way easier than blogging, because there's no word verification. And everyone likes comments.
3. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Comment/like status updates until it goes off. Move on with your life.

Social networking doesn't have to be all-consuming. Publicity doesn't have to always be about shoving your book down someone's throat. Simply interacting--genuinely--online with people is publicity.

Because, remember, everything you do, you're leaving your name behind. The trick is to make it abundantly clear who you are and what you wrote when someone clicks on your name. That's where the real publicity happens--and you won't even know it.

What do you think? Is this the kind of publicity you can do?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bookanista Book Love RAP Style

Okay, for today's post, I'm going total Bookanista-style and doing a series of mini-BLLuRT's of books I've read that I love. I'm also going to highlight some books I'm excited about reading. we go!

CROSSED by Ally Condie. If you haven't read MATCHED yet, you really need to. CROSSED is just as page-turning, and come November 1, you better have yours pre-ordered.

And that's not all, my feathered friends! I have an ARC! That's right! I. Have. An. ARC! I want you to BLLuRT in order to enter!

All you have to do is Blog, Link, Like, Review, or Talk about your favorite book. Anytime this week. Then come back and fill out this form. You'll be entered to win the books I'm giving away this week.

LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins. Okay, so admittedly I haven't read this book yet. I have it sitting on my table, and I really need to get to it. I will, I know I will. Soon. I've really cleared my plate of some things, so I think I'll get to it. Soon.

I really enjoyed ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, so I know I won't be disappointed in LOLA.

And dude! I am going to give away my ARC. I'm thinking I can get it read before the contest is over... And if not, well, I'll be buying a copy, so I know I'll get to read it. :) To enter to win, you need to BLLuRT about one of your favorite books. Rules and details are on this form.

STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr. This is one of the first contemporary novels I read, a year or two ago. It's a fabulous emotional journey, and really taught me how to write a book without paranormal aspects. I really like to feel when I read, and this book does that and more.

And that's not all! I have a signed paperback copy of STORY OF A GIRL. Follow the rules and read the details on this form.

What books are you looking forward to?

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

Or on their blogs:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Publicity, Schlubmicity

Say that five times fast. Ha!

Okay, so today I'm going to discuss publicity a little bit from an author's point of view. I hope what I say makes sense.

First, I believe publicity is important. I blogged about this recently, but the fact is that books are treated differently as far as publicity money from your publishing house goes. So what's an author to do?

Their own publicity.

If you didn't know this, let me tell you: Authors must do some of their own promotion. Now, I can't tell you what to do or how to do it, I just believe that authors cannot ignore the business side of writing. And the truth is, if you want to keep writing, you have to sell books.

The trickiest part of doing your own publicity is expanding beyond your borders. I still haven't quite figured out how to do that, but joining the Campaign has helped. I'm meeting new bloggers I've never met before. Reading their blogs helps me make connections.

But second, publicity should not overshadow what writers do. And writers write.

So as an author with a book out there in the big, bad world, I'm treading a delicate line with writing on one side, and publicity on the other.

Today, I'm going to give a few tips on what you can do for authors. (On Friday, I'll give you some tips for doing publicity in a few minutes each day.) These are things I'm honored people take the time to do for me and my book.

1. Blog about the book. If you loved the book (or even if you didn't!) blog about it. Books are discussion items, meaning the more they're talked about, the more popular they become. If you read, say, POSSESSION, and liked it, tell your friends!

You can do this in person, or on twitter, or your blog. I'm always shocked when I see someone has blogged about my book. And shocked in a good way, because they've taken their time to A) read my book and B) tell someone about it.

2. Write a review. There are a plethora of opportunities to do this. And don't be afraid to leave a less than stellar review. Books will always have bad reviews, because it's such a creative arena. EVERY review is good publicity for the author.

3. Be a "ground team player." This sounds weird, I know, and it sort of goes with #1. But talk to people who can make a difference: librarians, teachers, booksellers. Tell them about the books you like, and would like to see them read/stock.

In my attempt to support other authors, I talk a lot about books here on my blog (Bookanista posts every Thursday!). I buy a lot of books. I give them away. I try to attend as many author events as I can. I'll admit that I'm terrible at leaving reviews... I need to work on that.

And now to the fun part! As part of Random Acts of Publicity week, I'm giving away books! Today's prize is an ARC of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin. This book comes out on September 27, and it's a fantastic addition to the YA paranormal romance genre.

In order to enter to win this ARC, you must BLLuRT (Blog, Link, Like, Review, Talk) for one of your favorite books! You can do that anytime before September 11, and you must fill out THIS FORM by September 12.

BLLuRT's for Michelle and her book:

What do you think about publicity? No matter what stage you're in right now, have you thought about what publicity efforts you'll do for your books?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Random Acts of Publicity

Okay, so it's Random Acts of Publicity (RAP) this week. I'll be talking publicity, and why it's important to authors. I'll also be highlighting some of my favorite reads in 2011--some with giveaways!

Here's the low-down about RAP: It’s all about your friend’s book.

The 3rd Annual Random Acts of Publicity, September 6-8, is a week to celebrate your friend’s book, or your favorite book, by doing a Random Act of Publicity: Blog, Link, Like, Review, or Talk about the book . (BLLuRT it Out!)

You can click here for FAQs. (Anyone can participate!)

Today's RAP victim: VARIANT by Robison Wells. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book, and it blew me away. I read it on an airplane, and I literally gasped out loud about mid-way through the book. I was blindsided, and it's been a very long time since that's happened in a book.

It's being classified as dystopian, but it's not futuristic. The story takes place in a closed society, and I think that's why it has the label it does. No matter what, if you like a compelling, well-written story, you should keep your eye on VARIANT.

And I'm giving away my ARC! (VARIANT comes out October 4.)

Now, usually, you don't have to do anything but leave a comment to win. I'm easy like that. But this time, I want you to BLLuRT in order to enter!

All you have to do is Blog, Link, Like, Review, or Talk about your favorite book. Anytime this week. Then come back and fill out this form. You'll be entered to win the books I'm giving away this week. (And there is more than just the ARC of VARIANT!)

Here's the BLLuRT's for Rob's book. Please follow/like (they all open in separate windows, so it's easy to click and follow).

What's one of your favorite books?

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Campaign Challenge: A Short Story

Okay, I so don't do this. I either write short, or I write long. And let's face it, my "short" stuff turns into 90,000 words.

But I signed up for this Campaign, and well, yeah. I signed up. (Click here for details on this challenge, and to vote for mine! I'm #110.)

So here's the challenge: Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)


The door swung open, releasing so many molecules of our precious oxygen. I blinked, but with heavy eyelids that took too long to open again.

Footsteps landed. Someone spoke. The pressure across my chest intensified as the room grew brighter and brighter.

“Help—Owen,” I managed, somehow remembering my brother had curled into the corner and gone to sleep while I futilely searched for a way out of the room.

“We've got him.” The voice floated around me, seared inside me, sliced through me. “We’ll be back for you.”

echoed through the room. I sucked down one last breath as the door swung shut.

One of my greatest fears is dying by suffocation. Can you tell? (Ha!) What's one of your greatest fears?

A Campaigner Introduction

Okay, so last week I found out about something awesome. A platform-building campaign, put together by Rachael Harrie. (You can click here to read more about it, even though the deadline to sign up has passed. You can click here to see who signed up, and hey, you can still visit their blogs and follow them and stuff.)

I decided to sign up, maybe because I'm insane. (The jury is still out on that one.) (Group 12 and group 22 rep-re-sent!)

And today, I thought it would be fun to introduce myself to the people who are new here (and everyone else). So here goes:

The basics:

  • You say my name E-lay-nuh.
  • I have a book out. It's called POSSESSION. It's a YA dystopian novel, published by Simon & Schuster.
  • My second book, SURRENDER, comes out next summer.
  • I teach elementary school.
  • I have two kids.
  • I also blog on Fridays at The League of Extraordinary Writers with four other dystopian/science fiction debut novelists.
  • I am a co-founder and co-organizer of the awesome online children's writer's conference, WriteOnCon.
  • I wrote a free e-book called From the Query to the Call. It's all about writing query letters, researching and submitting to agents, and how to handle the call when it comes. You can download it here.

The quirks:
  • I like Adam Lambert so much I cut my hair like his. No lie.
  • I am terrified of all animals with more legs than me, as well as all ducks, geese, and snakes.
  • I adore all grape-flavored things, especially soda.
  • I own and wear a shirt that says "Living in a van down by the river." If you don't know what this means, I feel sad for you.
  • I have an unhealthy attachment to bacon.
  • My favorite movie is Two Weeks Notice.
  • I like writing query letters.

What my blog is:
  • Commentary on the publishing world, with a splash of real life. My real life. My experiences in the publishing world.
  • Random posts about movies, music, and the occasional snarky list.
  • Bookanista love for amazing books I've read.
  • A lot of parentheticals (obviously).
  • Book giveaways.
  • A way for me to meet and interact with other writers.

So welcome! I will be participating in Random Acts of Publicity this week, with some awesome book giveaways! If you're looking for a blog post, please feel free to join me in this RAP. More details will be on the blog tomorrow.

So, did you learn anything new about me? If you're in my groups, let me know! I've been to all your blogs, but I'm still matching names with blogs with faces.

Oh! And the winner of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE is JENNY S. MORRIS! Email me (elanajohnson(at)gmail) and I'll get this out. Congrats!

Friday, September 2, 2011

You Never Know What Can Happen, Even at the Seventh Rung of the Post Office

That's right, the post office. I generally abhor the place. There's always forty thousand people there, and the line? Long.

But you never know what can happen, even at the post office. Nothing has ever really happened to me, except for Lael, Thomas, and Merlin all know me by name and they know all my packages are media mail. They actually ask me now, "Media?"

It's mildly embarrassing. Thus why I've been putting it off for the past few weeks (the fact that I'm one breath away from complete and utter exhaustion has nothing to do with it... Nah, nothing).

Anyway, I go in yesterday with my billionty packages, and about 5 of them are my book. They're all stacked there, and this mom comes in with her teenage daughter. She asks me if I'm an author. I'm like, "Yeah, this is my book." They pick it up and peruse while I'm labeling the aforementioned packages.

They say it sounds interesting, ask a few more questions, and move on down the line. No problem. I still have about four thousand envelopes to address, and I can't find the addresses I need on my phone.

I really dislike the post office.

Anyway, I swear this story has a point. The mom checks out, and I'm still searching my phone, and she stops again and asks me if I have a group I attend. Yada, yada, yada, I find out she's an author, and is trying to find a critique group for her chapter book!

So I do what any shameless self-promoter would do. 1) I referred her to WriteOnCon, and 2) I gave her my card, and told her to email me if she has any questions.

It was awesome. Made the whole trip to the post office worth it--even though I seriously spent my life savings on postage.

Where's the strangest place you've made a connection with another author?

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Okay, I've been eagerly anticipating this Bookanista post since June. See, that's when I read THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE (out today! Go get it! It's SO GOOD!!). Jeff had sent us a copy so we could all read it early, because he blogs with me at The League of Extraordinary Writers.

He's one of my favorite people. I sort of wish I was him.
Exhibit A: He lives in New York. I absolutely love that city.
Exhibit B: He wrote THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE. I absolutely love that book.

And I've sort of gotten off-track, and then circled back around again. Ha!

So. THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE: In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving. In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade for food and other items essential for survival. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true, where there are real houses, barbecues, a school, and even baseball games.

Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing forever.

What I liked:
The World: This is a very scary world, with very scary people and very scary situations. Stephen finds himself in trouble almost immediately, all in the hopes of having a piece of fresh fruit. Fresh FRUIT! I mutter every time I have to eat the stuff. And in this world, it's a rarity, and that's very scary to me.

Jeff does a great job of weaving in backstory, worldbuilding, and other things amidst the action of the novel. I felt like I could step right into the world and live there. I didn't want to--it's very scary--but I could imagine it.

The Relationships: Stephen and his father have a very real relationship. And Stephen faces danger and chaos when his father gets hurt and won't wake up. The relationship, the loyalty and love, Stephen has with his father grows and changes through the book, and often guides Stephen's choices. It felt authentic and dare I say it? Special. I really enjoyed it.

There are some competitive relationship too, between Stephen and the boys in Settler's Landing, that felt very teenage boy to me. Incredibly well.

If you like dystopian (and who doesn't?!?) you'll like THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE. And I'm giving away a copy! All you have to do is tell me what you'd miss most in a world where FRUIT is worth dying for. Would you miss the fruit? Vegetables? Public transportation? Cars? Medicine?

Leave a comment on this post by Sunday night, and I'll announce the winner on Monday.

Oh, and you're waiting for another winner, aren't you? The JANITORS winner? Hmmm... okay.

JANET JOHNSON you win! Email me your mailing address and I'll get this amazing book in the mail to you! elanajohnson (at) Congrats!

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

Or on their blogs:

See Elana's recent blog posts

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