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June 6, 2011 / Chersti Nieveen

Interview with author Elana Johnson

Leave a comment to receive free POSSESSION bookmarks! And one luck commenter will win a copy of Elana’s book, POSSESSION. The winner will be notified via email on Wednesday, so keep an eye on that inbox!

Elana and I met at the LDStorymakers conference last year and hit it off right away. Seriously, this girl rocks! Possession is a dystopian where the main character has a choice: control or be controlled. The book will be released June 7th, and Elana is having her launch party that night in Salt Lake City at The King’s English. The companion book titled FUGATIVE will come out Summer 2012.

What was your road like to become a published writer? 
Bumpy and winding and all my own. I think that’s something writers get hung up on. Here’s the short version:

December 2007: started writing.
April 2008: Wrote POSSESSION as my third novel.
May 2008: Started querying for my first novel. Wrote other stuff. Didn’t touch POSSESSION.
December 2008: Started blogging for QueryTracker.net. Called my first novel a failure in the query trenches, shelved it, and wondered what to do next.
January 2009: Chose POSSESSION as the next novel to get ready to query.
April 2009: Began querying POSSESSION.
Summer 2009: Still querying POSSESSION. Doing revisions at the request of an agent.
Fall 2009: Still querying POSSESSION. Doing more revisions at the request of another agent.
November 2009: Accepted representation from a great literary agent, Michelle Andelman.
December 2009 – January 2010: Revising POSSESSION.
February 2010: Submit POSSESSION to editors; POSSESSION sells!
March 2010 – current day: Waiting for POSSESSION to release!

Of course, I do a lot more than sit around on the couch, waiting. I organize WriteOnCon. I blog five days a week. I answer a lot of interview questions. I speak to classes, and attend conferences, and teach elementary school. Somewhere in all that, I sleep too.

How has your critique group helped you on your road to being published? 
My critique group is awesome! Not only have they helped me fine-tune my writing, but they’re always there when I need a listening ear, a word of encouragement, or a not-so-gentle reminder about something. They’re great with the red pen, but they’re brilliant at the friendship thing.

What is your advice to any writers who want to be published out there? 
My best advice is to allow yourself time to practice. We all have to practice writing. Just like Michael Phelps didn’t become an Olympian the first time he dove into the pool, you might not become Stephenie Meyer, well, ever. (Ha!) But seriously, you need to allow yourself to write badly until you figure out how to write well.

You wrote the ebook QUERY TO THE CALL and are an all-around expert on querying. What is the most common mistake writers make when querying? 
The most common mistake authors make is three-fold: 1) vagueness. It’s not good, people. 2) Omitting the consequence. Why should I care if Joey-the-Janitor can’t overcome his plugged toilets? Does the world fall into chaos? Will he die from the stench? 3) Trying to squeeze in every plot point and subplot and character. Don’t do it. Stick to the MC and what they want and what’s in their way, AND what will happen if they don’t overcome what’s in their way.

How have you managed to juggle your time and write / blog while still participate in all the amazing things you do, such as Write On Con and QueryTracker? 
I only work part-time, so that helps. My children (2) are older and can dress themselves, pour their own cereal and/or bathe by themselves. That helps a lot. My husband is the most supportive person on the planet. That helps immensely. And I’ve learned to function without sleep. That’s crucial. Ha!

About POSSESSION:
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout 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 brainwashed 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.

About Elana:
In between all the smiling, Elana blogs for the League of Extraordinary Writers and helps to organize WriteOnCon. She also teaches, watches reality TV, and drives too fast.

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11 Comments

  1. Casey Reads / Jun 6 2011 7:32 am

    Wow, thanks for the interview! And enter me into the contest to win Possession – it looks really good!!!

  2. Melissa / Jun 6 2011 7:34 am

    Sweet interview. I can’t wait to read Elana’s book. And that’s cool she has another book coming out.

  3. Laura Jones / Jun 6 2011 7:37 am

    Oh, count me in! I’d love to win a copy of POSSESSION. Read great reviews so far. 😀

  4. nightlyreading / Jun 6 2011 9:19 am

    Great interview! I never realized how much waiting & work goes into one book! This really sounds like a book that could make it onto my favorites pile:) I would love to be entered into the contest!

    hyouse@hotmail.com

  5. shalleemcarthur / Jun 6 2011 12:12 pm

    Thanks for the interview! I love reading about authors’ progress in their writing/publishing journey. Can’t wait to read this!

  6. Robin Weeks / Jun 6 2011 1:23 pm

    Elana rocks. 🙂 I can’t wait to read POSSESSION!

  7. Julie Daines / Jun 7 2011 8:34 am

    I can’t wait to read this book. I’ve heard a lot about it. I love the cover and the title! Thanks for the interview and all the querying advice.

  8. Jonene Ficklin / Jun 7 2011 9:58 am

    Great interview! Her book sounds amazing, so sign me up.
    By the way, you’ve been Meme’d on my blog: http://www.thewonderfulobsessions.blogspot.com/
    Can’t wait to read your answers, and can’t wait for the conference next week. Thanks for everything!

  9. Jonene Ficklin / Jun 21 2011 6:58 am

    Sorry, Chersti, but after the wifyr conference I simply can’t resist. You get the Irresistably Sweet Blog Award. Details are at my blog. Thanks again for everything!!!!

  10. Taffy / Jul 18 2011 1:50 pm

    I love the timeline, Elana! Thanks for the interview.

  11. nicolelovesbrandon / Nov 8 2011 3:23 pm

    So great to meet you today Chersti! Your blog is wonderful and after the rave reviews you gave Elana and Possession today, I hope I win. 🙂

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