THE CRYSTAL RIBBON through February 18th
SIREN SISTERS through February 18th
FROSTBLOOD AND SUZIE TOWNSEND QUERY CRITIQUE through Febrary 25th
THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE through March 4th
Linda Camacho Query Critique through March 11th
Upcoming Agent Spotlights With Query Critique Giveaways:
Kristy Hunter, Wednesday, March 22nd
ELANA JOHNSON DEBUT PARTY AND MEGA BOOK GIVEAWAY
First, I’m going to announce the winner of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis.
The winner is:
Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can mail your book to you.
Okay I promised a party today. So let’s get partying!
Today is the reason I’m glad I’m blogging. I get to interview Elana Johnson, a friend I’ve watched get an agent and then sell her book. I’m so excited to participate in her debut as an author. Her book, POSSESSION—one of my favorite debuts this year—will be released tomorrow. We’re going to celebrate!
Here’s a blurb of POSSESSION from Goodreads:
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.
Hi Elana. Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your book.
I write angry teen girl novels set in the future. I watch too much reality TV. I cry at the lamest things like rainbows and roly poly bugs. I like bacon, and twitter, and email. I think everyone should laugh really hard at least once every day.
2. I know this wasn’t the first book you queried. I read you wrote the first draft in 17 days. Can you believe that guys? And then you put it in your drawer. What made you pull it out and how long did it take you to revise before you started querying it? Did you ever get a sense that this would be your first book to be published?
I did write POSSESSION in 17 days. It was 90,000 words. Then I let it cure for several months while I wrote other things. I pulled it back out because my first novel had failed in the query stage, and I wanted to enter the ABNA contest.
I did several rounds of revision before the contest, and a couple after. Then I started querying.
Then I did some more revisions. And some more. And some more. It’s the story of my life (which I am okay with; it’s the life of a discovery writer). All told, from the time I started revising POSSESSION to the time I stopped with my editor was probably about 22 months. It was about 13 before I started querying.
And strangely enough, as much as I loved my first book, I knew it wasn’t “the one.” And with POSSESSION, I knew it was. Isn’t that weird?
3. That’s great that you knew POSSESSION was the one. And it’s amazing that you had the self-control to put it away for awhile. I love Vi’s voice. She speaks her mind but remains vulnerable inside. How did you nail her voice so well and is there any of you in her? What part?
I have no idea how I nailed it, but thank you for saying so! I think she just formed on the page into who she is. Is there any of me in her? Well, I am a bit on the sarcastic side, so yeah, there’s a little of me in there, but I think she would’ve been snarky without me as the author. Other than that, she does and says things I only wish I had the guts to say and do. Sad, but true.
4. Ha! I can see your sarcastic side in her. And I love it. You’ve created a unique world where everyone is controlled. How did you create all the technology for this, like the silencer, the comm, and the tag implants? When in the writing did you create them?
I, uh, made them up on the spot. *holds up hands* Before you cry foul, it’s really true. I was writing along, and Vi swears, and the next thing I know I’ve written that a guard slaps on a silencer, and hey cursing is always silenced.
So it was tech and world-building all in one. And not premeditated. This is my process. As you can imagine, it’s quite messy, and I’ve had to comb the MS for consistency for many months.
5. I don’t want to give away any spoilers. But I will say there are a lot of plot twists and surprises throughout the story. Did you know them when you started them or did they come to you as you went? Do you have any advice on keeping the plot so fast paced and full of surprises?
I’ve always known how the book was going to end (shocking, I know), so the villain and the destination were always solid. Everything else was up in the air. Whatever happened while I was writing that day, happened. I had to then form it into a cohesive whole later.
As for the pacing, that was one of my biggest issues when submitting. Many an agent commented on it. It’s too fast, it’s too slow, it’s too long, etc. I actually pored over writing books on pacing. (And those of you who know me at all, know this is a BIG DEAL.) I cut large chunks of my story out and rewrote them with half the words, anything to A) get the word count down, and B) quicken the pacing.
I labored over the pacing. Labored. So to read reviews where a lot of the commentary is on the pacing, is interesting. I like a fast-paced book, though, so I haven’t been too devastated yet. (Of course, I stopped reading reviews months ago, too, so that’s probably helped.)
6. Okay, I’m a little scared to ask this question because I may have to break some sad news to my daughter who loved your book as much as me. Is there going to be a sequel? If you haven’t thought of doing one, is there anything we can do, like beg, to get you to consider it because my daughter and I both think this is a trilogy.
Yes! Although POSSESSION was written as a stand-alone novel, there will be a companion that Simon & Schuster will publish in Summer 2012. I’m not sure if everyone knows what a companion novel is, but it’s a story that takes place in the same story world, but with different characters. So Vi will not narrate the second book, but it will take place in the same world as POSSESSION. You’ll get to meet two new characters who go on their own journey.
I will say that you will get to see some of the same characters in the second book that are in POSSESSION. I will not say who.
7. Yea! I’m so glad there will be more about this world even if it won’t be about Vi. Let’s move on to the marketing of your book. Your book is being marketed as a crossover adult book right? How was that decision made and has it affected your marketing decisions?
Yes, it was selected by the marketing team at Simon & Schuster to be a cross-over novel. It hasn’t really affected my marketing plans, but I know they’ve done things in that arena. (They put it in the adult section of their Galley Grab newsletter; POSSESSION is part of a eSampler for book clubs that includes 6 adult novels and 3 YA novels.)
8. I know you answered this question of mine in a video. It was awesome. In case people didn’t hear the answer, I want to ask it again.
Okay guys, if all goes well, you will be able to see the question and Elana’s answer. Because this is my first time posting a YouTube video. Gulp.
9. Do you have any other advice that you’d like to share with us aspiring authors?
Allow yourself to write badly so you can figure out how you write best. Practice, practice, practice.
10. Great advice. What are you working on now?
Not dying. No, seriously. But if I were writing, I’d be working on something new that’s been plaguing me for a few months. Something with time travel. And kissing.
Good luck Elana! I’m so excited for you. You can find Elana on her blog and her website. If you aren’t a follower of her blog, you want to go right over there after you enter my contest.
Okay so now comes the presents! I have a fabulous mega giveaway today. I’m giving away two copies of POSSESSION. If at least 75 people enter my contest, I’ll give away a third copy of POSSESSION. And Elana has agreed to send signed bookplates to all of the winners. So the books will be signed!
But to get to the 75 entries, I need your help. I usually don’t ask you to mention my contests on your blogs, Facebook, or Twitter. But I need you to do that so I can give away 3 copies of POSSESSION. I’m not asking you to do it for me. Do it to promote Elana’s book and spread the word. She’s given so much to the writing community—query critiques, awesome advice to us new writers, her awesome book From the Query to the Call for free, and is an organizer of WriteOnCon with my awesome blog partner Casey. That is a HUGE volunteer effort by both of them and the other organizers of WriteOnCon.
That’s why I’m trying to give away 3 copies of her book. To help in my little way to increase the buzz for her book. Help me do that.
I’ll keep the contest open for two weeks to help reach the 75 entries.
All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on June 18th. I’ll announce the winner on June 20th. International entries are welcome.
Next Monday I’m be interviewing another kid between 5th grade and 12th grade about how they find out about books for my ASK THE EXPERT series. It’s a great interview you won’t want to miss.
And I’ve been dying to tell you about my interview on June 20th . I’ll be interviewing Nathan Bransford. You know, THE Nathan Bransford, who used to be an agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. He’s a debut middle grade author.
I’ll be interviewing him about his book JACOB WONDERBAR and the COSMIC SPACE KAPOW and doing a book giveaway. So be sure to come back next week and June 20th.