Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Interview - Elana Johnson

I'm so excited to have Elana Johnson on my blog!!! She's super awesome and I feel honored to be interviewing her today! She's super famous in the blogging world and if you don't follow her you should start! She's fantastic!

So as well all know by now Control Issues is due out in Summer 2011, could you give us a little insight on what the book is about?

CI is about a girl who wants to make her own choices, living in a society where that simply isn’t done. Oh, and a hawt guy. There’s always a cute guy, right? I mean, it is YA.

I love a great story with a hot guy, don't you?!

Which character did you have the most fun writing?

CI is written in first person, so I only wrote one character—Vi—and she’s frawesome. At least I think so, but it’s not like I’m biased or anything. No…

Anyone who can have a cool nickname like Vi would be super awesome... or frawesome!

What were you doing when you first came up with the idea… if you remember; Were you washing dishes, eating dinner, modeling?

Yes, modeling. ROTFL! Since I do that in my spare time. I’m not entirely sure I remember where I was, but I do know I’d been thinking a lot about choices and what life would be like if my ability to make my own decisions was taken away.

What a thought! I am excited to see how you imagined the world would turn out!

Are you a panster or an outliner?

Pantser in the extreme.

Just like myself!

How long did it take you to finish your first draft?

17 days.

Holy Toledo Batman! Here I thought 5 weeks was good, but 17 days that's insane! You really are a panster! I think you've earned yourself a badge!

How many sets of revisions did you go through?

So many I want to cry (and I have no idea, because I’ve lost count). That’s the life of a pantser – at least one like me. I wrote 90K in 17 days, and proceeded to spend the next 17 MONTHS trying to get it right. Sometimes I really really wish I could outline. It would make cleaning up the word vomit so much easier. Good thing there’s a process for each of us!

At least I know I'm not alone in the crazy world of revisions!

What were the emotions you felt after finishing that first draft? Or any draft that you’ve ever finished? Cry, Laugh, Scream, Hug a rhino?

There’s always a huge high when you finish a draft. For me, it’s short-lived, because I know I have to go all rhino and go back in there to salvage the book.

I think we have all experienced this feeling!

Are you part of a critique group? Online or in your area?

Both. I have a live group I’ve been in for over 2 years, and I have an online group that operates on and off based on when we have material to crit. I have betas who read for me on whims, so that’s nice too.

Definitely have a team to back you up! That's fantastic!

Do you have any other published pieces, or any other pieces you are currently working on?

Nothing else published, and multiple things I’m working on. I’ve sent in my second book to my agent and am currently writing another novel. I wish I knew what it was about, so stay tuned for that!

I know we'll be excited to hear about your second book!

How was the querying process for an expert like yourself? Did you send out several?

Several? *rolls with laughter* Several? *laughter turns maniacal*

Ahem, yeah. I sent out “several.” Over the course of 8 months. So let’s face it, I sent out more than several. About 180 more than several.

The querying process was the longest, horriblest (yes, it’s a word), most ledge-worthy activity I’ve ever done in my life. Basically, it was hell.

But I survived. (That seventh rung down there is d-i-r-t-y.) And you will too.

So basically you're saying it's going to be tough. Got it.

Were you ever discouraged at any point in the writing process?

Um, yeah. See above. I feel like quitting on a near-daily basis, even now.

How did you decide what agencies to send your work to?

Interviews, agent blogs, websites, agent query profiles, information on Publisher’s Marketplace, etc. I researched my brains out on each and every agent.

I sent my query to anyone I thought would be a good match. After I had about 20 submissions out there, I did sort of go crazy and query the planet… Yeah, sometimes desperation took me over.

Desperation and craziness paid off it seems!!

What does a day in the life of Elana look like?

Depends on the day/season. It’s summer right now, so I pretty much do whatever I want all the time. But really, I get up, go to work, take care of my family, watch copious amounts of reality TV and then end my day with writing. Blogs all get written on the weekend. Books read from 3 – 4 PM or in bed from 11 – midnight.

Oh, and soda. There is always soda.

A girl after my own heart! Reality TV, Blog post written on weekends... and soda, always soda!

What is your favorite weather to write in? Sunshine, snow falling, raining?

Rain. I absolutely hate the feel of rain on my skin, but I love the way it smells and hears. And it’s a sad sound, and I sort of have to be in that frame of mind to write in a brainwashing setting. So I love writing in the rain.

Rain and writing is the best mix to a wonderful day!

Do you have a favorite book, or favorites?

Every book I read becomes my new favorite. Just ask my husband. I do the same thing with foods and songs.

I suppose you'd be every authors favorite customer!

Who is your all time favorite character in what I’m sure is a substantial amount of reading you do?

Harry Potter. (Cop-out? Whatev.)

Harry Potter rocks! Cop-out? I think not.

Any advice to aspiring writers?

Work Hard.

Don’t Give Up.

Finish Strong.

Pay It Forward.

Best advice a writer/author could give!

Now for random questions... Ready... Set... Go!
Favorite song: (right now) Whattya Want From Me by Adam Lambert
Favorite writing spot: In my blue chair
computer or notepad: Both – paper when the words won’t flow, computer when they will
sweet or salty: Both – at the same time. Can you say, “Pretzel M&M’s?”
snow or rain: Rain. My car slides off the road in snow.
bicycle or rollerblades: Bicycle. I am balance-challenged.
chick flick or horror: Chick flicks. I cannot stomach horror – I have nightmares. True that.
favorite ice cream: Anything with peanut-butter cups and caramel
What book are you currently reading: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

What's your favorite treat while writing?

It varies (see the whole favorite thing up there *grins*). Sometimes it’s Red Vines – the superior Twizzler. Sometimes Sour Patch Kids. Right now, it’s Pretzel M&M’s, but I’ve been known to chow down those French fried onion things that are supposed to be a garnish…but you know.

Yum I love your list and garnish or not those rock!

What's your favorite writing book?

Uh…I don’t really read non-fiction or anything with real substance. Yeah, I’m that shallow. I’ve tried reading writing books before, but I just don’t find them that interesting. *ducks* The one that helped me the most, and I only read a couple of chapters, is “Stein on Writing” by Sol Stein, so let’s go with that one.

I'm glad I'm not the only one that hasn't found them interesting. I think I'll give Stein on Writing a chance though!

Do you have a favorite series?

Okay, I’m not a huge series fan. (Don’t throw Coke cans!) I’m usually burnt out after two books, but I will finish a trilogy if I’m really into it. But I have read and will read again, the Harry Potter books.

Woohoo!!! 10+ for Harry Potter!

Do you have another job outside writing?

Yes, I teach elementary school computers (K-6). I’m basically a glorified typing instructor – but it gives me a lot of time to check email and read blogs!

So there you have it! Isn't she great?! So again if you are not following her you must! She is great and always has the best posts!! Have a wonderful Wednesday!!


Aubrie said...

Great interview! I love Elana. :)

I almost fell off of my chair when I read 17 days! Wow.

This book sounds awesome and I'm buying it when it comes out.

Jessica Bell said...

Awesome interview. Thanks both of you! Nice to know a little more nitty gritty about the fab Elana. ;-)

Matthew MacNish said...

Elana is pretty much the very best ever, but you are pretty darn awesome yourself Jen!

Thanks so much you two, what a great interview.

Crystal Cook said...

Love it, love it, LOVE it Jen and Elana! You both rock and I love reading about her process. I almost picked up a bag of pretzel M & M's and then put them back the other day! (I'm trying to be good!) but now I'm gonna go get them :)

10+ for Harry Potter!!!

Vicki Rocho said...

Great job, both of you!

Bernadine said...

I love these posts. Gives you a better insight into people's lives.
Great interview both of you!!! :)

Laura Pauling said...

Great interview! Thanks.

Candyland said...

Starting my day with Elana, my love, is like getting presents for no reason.

JE said...

Frawesome - lol. I love Elana's new words! Freaking awesome, I assume? LOVE. IT.

Thanks for this interview, Jen. It's pretty simple:
I <3 Elana.

I love the advice she gives to other aspiring writers. She's the frawesomesauce. ;-)


Karen Roderick said...

Brilliant interview Jen, it's so invigorating to read about other writers and acknowledge their pain, it gives you the will to carry on xx

Joanne said...

Great interview ladies! Thanks for an insider's view on writing :)

Jaydee Morgan said...

Great interview! Good job to both of you :)

I always find these so inspiring and this one was no exception!

Stina said...

I can't wait to get my hands on Control Issues. I fell in love with it when I first saw the query.

Great interview, girls!

Creepy Query Girl said...

what an awesome awesome interview! Thanks Elana for sharing a little insight into your life and journey. Great questions Jen! Thanks!

Melissa said...

What an excellent interview, I really like how you mixed the deep questions with some lighter ones at the end. I love her answers - especially how Harry Potter is the best character ever (cmon, we all know it's true.)

The rain. It was raining last night and I could hear it outside my window - it kept me from sleeping because it stimulated my characters ( who then forced me to write ). Writing with the sound of rain is amazing.

My favorite part? The little comments you made after each of her response, I was chuckling like crazy!

Tahereh said...

fabulous interview! Elana is all kinds of awesome!!

can't wait for her book :D :D

Summer Frey said...

Great interview!
Pretzel M&M's??? I MUST find these!

Lola Sharp said...

A fun interview, Jen. Well done. :)
I love me some Elana!
(I'm excited for you, E!)
Can't wait to buy and read CI.

Happy Humpday!

Elana Johnson said...

Thanks, Jen! You are a fabu host -- and thanks everyone! You know how to make a girl feel loved.

<3 <3 <3

Anonymous said...

Great interview!!


Jennifer Shirk said...

Dang, I would hope she had to go thru a lot of revisions in a 17 day first draft--otherwise I was REALLY going to be jealous! LOL!

j.leigh.bailey said...

This was great, Jen. Elana is a truly awesome (and entertaining and inspiring, and educating...the list goes on) individual. Thank you, ladies!

Erica Mitchell said...

My jaw literally dropped on 17 days, wow! True pantser and Elana you are super frawesome. This was such a great interview :) I can't wait to read more of your stuff, Ha my verfication word kinda sums you up (missing a vowel or two) suprstr! Loved the interview great questions and great advice/insight.

Theresa Milstein said...

Okay, Elana is officially my writing soul mate. I'm a panster who writes in about five weeks (because I'm not as frawesome) and then spend forever fixing. I should learn from her because until recently, I only queried editors - not agents. And I gave up after 20 or 40 tries. Then the bug to write something new took over.

She worked hard and it's paying off. Congratulations!

I love Elana's blog.

PJ Hoover said...

Great interview! And OMG, my current project first draft was 17 days, too! how bizarre is that!

Moll said...

Oh my god. I almost cried when I read about 90k words in 17 days. I think I swallowed my gum. I am six months in and still can't see the finish line!

Patti said...

17 days is crazy fast. Great interview. It always gives me hope when I hear other people sent out a lot of queries before getting picked up.

Unknown said...

Jen, this was a great interview. I don't know what you were worried about! And hugging rhinos? *lol* I need to find a way to hang with you, girl. Something tells me you know how to have fun!

Lindsay said...

Yay. Awesome interview Jen. 17 days! I thought my month writing my first draft was fast. lol. :)

Portia said...

That was an awesome interview. I have to admit, I choked when I read 17 days. Wowser! There's fast and there's Elana fast!!!!

Samantha said...

What a great interview! Helpful, insightful and funny. :) It's great to find other authors who are just getting started or going through the trials and tribulations of the writing world. It's comforting as a wannabe author myself. Thanks!

Stephanie said...

GREAT interview!!! I love learning tidbits about writers!

Shannon said...

Great interview. Elana is the bestest. :)

Elana, I loved "most ledge-worthy activity." *grins*

Talli Roland said...

What a great interview - thanks, Jen and Elana! Wow, 180 queries. That's a great reminder not to give up.

I can't wait to read her book!

Laura S. said...

Super interview, Jen and Elana! I love the random questions at the end. It's fun learning about other bloggers'/authors' favorite things! :)

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Great interview you two!! That Elana is so refreshingly real! And although she is amazing prolific with the words, she never tell us it is easy. It is so reassuring. I really love that about this interview. And of course her word vomit term

Carolyn V. said...

Jen! Great interview! Elana is amazing and I love that she kept going and can tell us to keep on keeping on!

Jemi Fraser said...

Terrific interview!!

17 days! Wow. I thought NaNo was nuts for me! :)

It's so nice to hear of a successful pantster - it sometimes makes me feel guilty not being an outliner!

Leigh Hutchens Burch said...

Elana is the best.

I can't wait to buy her book next year!

Great interview, Jen. It was fun to get to know her better. Now, I'm going to google pretzel m&m's. Why do those exist without me knowing about them? :)

Melissa Hurst said...

Awesome interview Jen! I cannot believe Elana wrote her first draft in 17 days! That puts me to shame!

Susan Fields said...

That was an awesome interview - really interesting and fun to read! 180 queries and now she's getting her book published - that makes me feel better. :)

DL Hammons said...

You handled that like a PRO! Excellent job and learning more about Elana is always fun. :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great interview! I can't believe 17 days to write your first draft. Wow!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Jen, so this is the first time I visit your blog and you are feature Elana? Wowzers. I'm already impressed. And still, you found time to stop by my humble peace garden today. Thank you kindly. It was great to see a new face there! I'll follow back. Enjoy the journey!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Oops. Should be, "you feature." Gotta love the evening typos. :)

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Jen and Elana. A typing instructor sounds like such a fabulous job (and hooray for Harry Potter!).

Kimberly Franklin said...

Great interview, girls. I'm really looking forward to reading Elana's book. :)

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

So cool to learn more about Elana. She's rocking awesome and Control Issues sounds amazing!! Thanks for hosting her, Jen!

Elana Johnson said...

Thanks, everyone. Trust me 17 was crazy-fast, and I've never done that again. Number one, my husband would KILL me dead. Number two, I'm not nearly as creative anymore. Sad, but true.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

17 days? WOW!
Seriously brilliant interview.