Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Direct From All Points of the Blogosphere and Twittersphere to GotYA: Elana Johnson!

You’ve seen her on Query Tracker! You’ve seen her on The League of Extraordinary Writers! You’ve seen her on What Writers Read, her personal blog, and Twitter! Now, for the first time ever, here she is on GotYA—Elana Johnson everybody!

First, we must congratulate and offer virtual Oreos and bacon to Elana on the sale of her debut novel, CONTROL ISSUES, which will be published by Simon Pulse in the summer of next year.

From Elana’s blog:
In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules aren't meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld shatters them to pieces.

When did Violet start “talking” to you about her story, and how long did it take to complete your first draft?

I spewed Violet out violently. And she used to be named Vivian, but after a heated discussion with my crit group, she got a new name. So yeah. 17 days to get her story out. I wrote a lot. Needless to say, my husband was less than thrilled…

Is CONTROL ISSUES your first novel?

It’s my debut novel, but it is not the first novel I wrote. Or queried. It’s the third novel I wrote and the second I queried.

My novel journey looks like this:
Novel 1: wrote and queried. FAIL.
Novel 2: just for practice. Don’t ask, don’t tell policy… (FAIL)
Novel 3: Control Issues. Wrote and queried. Success!
Novel 4: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 5: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 6: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 7: titled ELEMENTAL HUNGER. Actually salvaged—somewhat. Maybe success?
Novel 8: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 9: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 10: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 11: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 12: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 13: my WIP. Hopefully not just for practice, but we shall see.

And I wrote most of these in the last two years, while I was querying my first failed novel and then Control Issues. I’ve written very little since last August, and recently started my WIP—novel 13—over again (for the second time) last month.

Yeah, I’ve written a lot of crap.

Without spoilers of course, was there a particular scene in CONTROL ISSUES that was your favorite to write?

Definitely. Vi is a bit on the snarky side, and it was fun to write her in every way. I do have a few faves of mine, one in particular where Vi gets what she wants without using any control at all. It’s just a female/male thing. *grins*

You’ve written From The Query To The Call, a guide to writing a query letter, available on  Can you tell us little about From The Query To The Call and what led you to write it? How did this prepare you for your own journey? Any surprises, or smooth sailing?

I started writing for the QueryTracker blog in January 2009. I’d already queried one book, and felt like I had a really good system down for writing a query letter. So I wrote some blog posts for the QTblog on that topic. And things sort of spiraled from there. I basically just took everything I’d learned about query letters, the query process, sending submissions, doing revisions and talking to agents, and put it together into one book.

So I’d already journeyed down the path once. And I was doing it again when I wrote the ebook. No real surprises, but I can’t say it was smooth sailing either. Just more to learn, always more to learn.

Dystopian novels—In your opinion what’s the draw for readers who flock to them? What makes them so intriguing?

Dude, I just blogged about this on The League of Extraordinary Writers! I really think dystopian novels are so intriguing because they make you think, help you examine your life, your world, and consider what you would do in those almost-too-real situations. For young adults, I think they provide a safe environment to discuss things that are controversial, and decide what’s happening in our world now that could lead to what’s written on the page.

How do you take on revisions? Break them down into small bites? Or tackle and swallow in one big gulp?

Sections, baby. Always sections. I print and read first. Big-picture stuff on post-it notes. Then I work in 100-page sections, which breaks my book down into thirds. I work from big to small, paper to computer. No big gulps here. Small steps.

Do you outline, or are you a pantster?

Pantser, all the way. It’s fun at first, but exhausting after the first draft. So much word vomit.

Which writers have influenced your own writing?

I’m not sure I can pinpoint just one or two authors. I like reading things that are fresh and new and break all the rules. So anyone who can do that, influences me. I know it when I read it, but I’m not sure I try to make mine like theirs. Does that make sense? (Probably not.)

Favorite books: SKIN HUNGER by Kathleen Duey, THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan, PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles. Anything by John Green or Scott Westerfeld or Elizabeth Scott. And of course, THE GIVER by Lois Lowry and THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson.

Best piece of advice for aspiring authors:

Finish strong. It doesn’t matter how. Or when. Just make sure you finish strong.

What’s the key to successful blogging?

Giving more than you get.

Any tips for networking?

1. Don’t try to be someone else. They’re not you, and you’re not them. Be yourself.
2. Don’t try to do everything. Try twitter or facebook or blogging. Choose the one you like best, that you think will bring you the best results, and DO that one. Really DO it.

Have you tried the DQ Oreo Blizzard Oreo’s? How about the Strawberry Milkshake Oreo’s? How about bacon wrapped Oreo’s?

No, no, and no! I so need to though. I enjoy all things Oreo and bacon.

Thanks to Elana for taking the time to talk with GotYA.  We're all looking forward to reading CONTROL ISSUES!


Nomes said...

This is such a great review :)

lol @ all Elanas novels (in the nicest possible way). Make me feel greatly encouraged :)

And I <3 her blog

And her favourite books! I love them all too...

Anonymous said...

Nice interview! Great tips, Elana! Ever try deep fried Oreo's? ;)-

Hmath said...

Great interview, Elana!

Control Issues sounds like it'd be right up my alley.

Jill Wheeler said...

I loved reading about Elana's process! And yay for finishing strong. *slinks off to finish WIP ending*

Stina said...

Great interview! I love Elana. She's filled with Awesome (not to mention brilliant ideas).

And I can't wait to get my hands on her book. I've wanted to read it ever since I read her query last year.

Crystal Cook said...

Elana rocks in the MOST fantabulous way. Awesome interview :)

Tahereh said...

love love LOVE! can't wait to read her book!!

Lisa_Gibson said...

Love Elana! Oh and bacon, yum. All things bacon. I would consider bacon wrapped golden oreos.

Candyland said...

My Elana crush continues...

Unknown said...

Pure awesomesauce. :)

LM Preston said...

Thanks for sharing your journey as a writer. Most newbie writer's forget that it takes lots of time to hone those skills and sell that baby!

Liza said...

Of course this is a great interview...would expect no less from Elana. Just let us know how you like the bacon wrapped oreos.

Kathleen Peacock said...

I love her blog and I can't wait to read the book. Great interview, guys!

Unknown said...

loved seeing Elana's process. it makes me feel better about all my "just for practices" lol

PS...I gave all you lovely ladies an award over at my blog! :)

Melody said...

Very encouraging! Thanks Elana for giving all us hope. :)

And I think that your blogging rule, "Give more than you get," can pertain to success in just about everything.

Elana Johnson said...

Hello all! Thank you for the kind words. Definitely give more than you get and you'll always come out on top.

And keep practicing. That helps too.

Elana Johnson said...

Laura, I haven't tried deep fried Oreos. But I'm so going to. I think I need a piece of Oreo pie, actually. Right now.

Hmath, I hope CI is up your alley!

Jo Schaffer said...

Fun read. Elena is such a down girl. I'm a fan. She's got some great karma coming her way.

J.S. Wood said...

Awesome interview!! Thanks Elana for joining us! :D

Kay said...

Great interview!!

Here's my favorite Q and A:

Best piece of advice for aspiring authors:

Finish strong. It doesn’t matter how. Or when. Just make sure you finish strong.

Elana is AWESOME.


Theresa Milstein said...

Elana, this interview is an inspiration!

kathleen duey said...

Control Issues = Great title!!

Congrats! I look forward to reading it.

Big YAYs from here

Slamdunk said...

Insightful interview. I like Elana's 100 page approach--trying to break things into manageable sections. Also, selecting a social media tool that works best and focus on doing it well as opposed to doing everything ok is wonderful advice.

Debra Driza said...

Awesome interview, Elana and Jamie! And..bacon-wrapped Oreos? REALLY?


P.S. Love the novel countdown, and the Don't ask, Don't tell policy! :D

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. I can't recommend Elana's book From the Query to the Call enough. It helped me so much with my query letter.

Katie Ashley said...

Elana, thanks for the review and thanks for sharing your journey. It's very inspiring!!

Oreo pie is the shizz! I make an awesome Oreo easy and sooo delish. If you dont' have the recipe, i'll hook you up!!!