Dystopia author Elana Johnson has a new book releasing September 15!
About SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE: High school senior Olivia Winging gave up
her love of photography when she gave up her boyfriend, Trevor Youngblood, a
year and a half ago. She broke things off with Trevor because her mom married
his dad, and dating your step-brother? Creepy.
Livvy hasn’t been on good terms with her mother since, and one of her
stipulations for staying at the Youngblood’s every other weekend is that Trevor
can’t be there. When she gets nominated for the Junior Photography in
Excellence award, Trevor insists she enter. She agrees—only if every photo in
the portfolio can be of him. Knowing that Livvy can capture a person’s deepest
secrets through her lens, Trevor hesitates before accepting the deal.
As Livvy gets behind the lens of her camera again, her love of photography is
rekindled. Unfortunately, the time she spends with Trevor also re-ignites the
old flame for him she’s kept smothered for so long.
In order for Livvy to finish her portfolio, she’ll have to face her feelings
for Trevor as well as deal with the animosity between her and her mother.
Livvy’s always been able to capture a person’s soul from behind the camera—but
she’s not sure she likes it when the lens is suddenly focused on her. If she
can’t find a way to forgive her mother and admit how she feels about Trevor,
Livvy may end up losing more than just the photography contest. She could lose
Elana’s first verse novel, will be FREE for five days in September as SOMETHING
ABOUT LOVE releases! So get your copy of Elevated
for free from Monday, September, 15 – Friday, September 19. (Elevated buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IGINRFI)
Praise for Elana’s first verse novel, Elevated:
“The taut poetry keeps tension high. The plot is deftly
paced, as past intrudes on present, like a photograph emerging in developing
fluid.” ~San Francisco Book Review
“Every word Johnson writes carries an emotional heft that lifts readers up to
the highest happiness and then sends them crashing down to the depths of
despair. It is easy to flow from the first word to the last without ever
putting down the book. Johnson shows outstanding talent in this form, and her
words are beautiful, important and deeply felt.” ~The Deseret News
I bought this book a while ago during the New Adult hype phase. It sat on my bookcase for a couple of months so I decided to crack it open to read. Since I'm writing New Adult hoping to publish it under another name, depending on if I land an agent or not, I wanted to see what was the deal with this book.
During the beginning of the book Ella is a shy person who keeps referring to that night on the bridge. She doesn't want her roommate Ella to find out the truth about her past. Ella even ignored the calls from her best friend Micha. Ella disappeared fMicha is the other person that the point of view is told from. He spent the past eight months of his life looking for his best friend Ella. He leaves her messages, and texts and she never responds back. Ella returns home with Lila for the summer and she is stunned to see Micha and Ethan her childhood friends. Micha keeps trying to talk to her but he sees Ella is trying to hide who she really is. Micha keep trying to get Ella to open up to him but she keeps pushing him away. As Lila continues to hang out with Ella, Micha, and Ethan she starts learning more things about her roommate than she anticipated. When they go to a coffee shop house Ella finds out that Micha has not played his guitar or done street races since she left. The more close encounters Micha and Ella have the more she keeps letting him in then pushes him away because she's afraid. This is the third New Adult book I have read and I already see how it's the same to others that are already published; girl with a troubled past falling in love with a tattooed lip pierced boy who helps her heal. I took me a while to get through this book mostly because of the plot it drags on so much. Sorensen uses the same lines in most of the chapters. Ella was such an irritating person. I never had such an urge to hit a character in a book. The only time I had that urge was when I was reading Twilight. Being in Ella's mind was like reading Bella from Twilight all over again. Bella and Ella see their names are pretty much the same. Sorensen should have tried to make the POV's alternate after each chapter because after a while the change of the POV's frequently in each chapter drives me nuts then it had me confused who's POV I was reading. The same thing happens throughout the first half of the book; Ella and Micha make out and Ella tell him to forget about it and tried to ignore him.The characters do the same thing over and over again like for example how Ella has the constant need to wrap her legs around Micha's waist and every single time they make out she sucks on his lip ring? How about how Micha constantly sucks on his lip ring? I would have thought the publishers would do an editing round before sending the book off to print after the ebook was picked up.
Another thing about what I really liked about the book itself was the cover. It was really nice not seeing New Adult covers with couples making out. If books are to appeal to male readers the covers should be gender neutral but that's just my opinion. The book is not bad it just lags in certain parts that make you put it down for a while. It's the same like every other New Adult book out there. Bad boy with tattoos and piercings falling in love with a girl with a troubled past. If you like New Adult buy it and give it a try.I've already spent a lot of money on the series so I'm going to keep reading to see how Sorensen plays out their relationship for the next four books in the series.
I found an advice article on world-building on a blog called Freshman Fifteen, it's columns written by authors who are having their debut books released in 2015, and one of them has a fantasy novel releasing. Victoria Aveyard author of the Red Queen coming out in 2015 wrote about world-building for books, and I thought I would share it. (I found a lot of the material in this helpful since the first book I wrote was YA urban fantasy and I mostly made it all up as I went along).
I’m lucky in a lot of ways. 1) I got my hair ombré-d last September and haven’t had to touch it up since and 2) I can pinpoint the exact moment when I discovered my great love of creating stories. I was eight years old, flipping through a Legend of Zelda guidebook while my brother navigated through that god-awful Water Temple. Even back then, I was obsessed with maps, but I’d only had atlases to look at. Now I had an actual fictional map, and it was like setting off a firecracker. I immediately forgot it was my turn to play and got to work with my crayons. A few scribbles later, I had a map of my own. It was a terrible Zelda knockoff, but I didn’t care. My mind was racing. I was already thinking about the people who lived in the little dot cities and what monsters ruled the oceans and mountains. So begins my obsession with world-building, which is easily my favorite part of writing, and one I don’t think any story can be without.
Naturally, some stories require more world-building than others. A fantasy is going to have a lot more intense work than a contemporary, but world-building is equally important to both. In my opinion, world-building isn’t just a way to create the bones of your world. It’s a way to completely envelope yourself in its skin. You might not need to know the layout of your protagonist’s high school, but once you do, it’s that much easier imagine your characters in it. You basically remove one more barrier between yourself and the story, to the point where you’re not even writing it at all. You’re living it, and just happen to be jotting down what’s happening.
I’m a big believer in copying what works, so I’m going to outline what works for me when I start a new project. My own stories err on the side of the fantastical, with expansive worlds and back-story. Summary: I go pretty hard on world-building. My method is probably bit of overkill for a lot of genres, but applies very well to historical, fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal.
Of course, you’ve gotta kick things off with the kernel of an idea. What kind of story do you want to tell? It can be as simple as one sentence. The rest will come in the world-building, I promise you. Let’s take an example: a boy decides to masquerade as a long lost prince.
I personally like to start with a map. It’s what got me into writing, and it’s just a hobby of mine. Again, not all stories require a map, but anyone can use one. Do it for neighborhoods or star systems, whatever. My favorite tools for mapmaking are graph paper, pens, and Photoshop or its equivalent. Computer programs are particularly helpful for using layers to denote things like geographical formations, roads, political borders etc. My very best advice regarding making maps is to read maps. Atlases are great, and I personally use Google maps on a daily basis. Just have fun and tool around. Look at how rivers interact with coastlines, where lowlands are, how mountains affect nation-building etc. Fictional maps are a must as well. My favorites are, of course, Middle-Earth, Westeros, and Narnia.
After the maps, I like to have a brief history leading up to my story time. Just the basics. Why this place is a monarchy, where the people migrated from, etc. Emphasis on the word brief. This is not the world of your story, but it is a bit of the foundation. Where would Lord of the Rings be without the Second Age? Or Westeros without Aegon’s Conquest? I’ll stop.
Maps and intense histories don’t have to be necessary to the reader (i.e. Harry Potter), but I think they’re essential to the writer. I personally would go nuts if I didn’t have a map of the Red Queen world at hand, even though it’s not something a reader needs to refer to every five seconds.
Back to the example. Now that your basic map and history is set, you know the boy pretending to be a prince grew up in those cool islands you drew. He was raised a pirate. Now he’s got to hide that rough and tumble upbringing to pass himself off as the heir to the throne. See where I’m going? Every step of world-building adds another layer. Bones, then muscle, then skin. Metaphors!
After maps, I usually start my info doc. If you don’t have them already, get down the basics about mountains, rivers, countries, cities, peoples, cultures, languages etc. Basically take your map and fill in the blanks. Go wild. As you do, you’ll naturally want to expand out. Oh, that’s called Whitetooth Mountain? Why? Giant wolves live there? Cool! Write it down! Use it! Go through Wikipedia and random history articles for inspiration. Pretty much all of A Song of Ice and Fire (minus the magic stuff) comes straight from historical events. Remember the Red Wedding? Look up the Black Dinner! I also advise going wild with family trees. I certainly do. Each piece of this will get your story muscles working, and it will be so easy to leap into characters and plot. You’ve pretty much built the mold, and now it’s just a question of pouring a person in. You’ve laid all the groundwork, so the character will pretty much shape themselves.
Now pirate boy has parents, friends, maybe a religion or educational background. You know him. You know what he sees when he wakes up, and why he wants to get so far away from it. This is where plot comes in. Just like character, you’ve got a mold, and you have all you need to fill it up. Pirate boy turned prince. Build from that. Outline, bullet point, index card. This is always the hard part for me (I hate outlining), but it pays off in the long run. By the time you’ve got your outline ready, you not only have a great story, but you’ve got a deep one at that. You know what city pirate boy is going to sail to, and who lives there. It will be second nature to describe, because you already understand it. You built it. This is your world, and it’s that much easier to control.
A word of caution: I am a chronic over world-builder. I get hamstrung by this all the time. I go too deep and I burn out. Red Queen is the project I did the least amount of building on (and it was still a lot), and it was also the first novel I finished. That’s me. I’ve got a limit as to how far I can build before I crap out and get bored. So whenever you feel that twinge and think of greener pastures, sit back. Even if you don’t have outlines, write down some prose. I’m a big believer in quote docs. I have one for every project, where I basically write lines, dialogue, and descriptive prose about stuff I know will happen, or stuff I just think would be cool to include. My favorite lines from my books usually come from these docs, and they’re a nice little carrot to keep you going. “I know this awesome comeback happens in two chapters! I need to get there!”
I can go on forever about world-building (and my Middle-Earth atlas), but I’m going to take my own advice and reel it in. At the end of the day, the point is to feel comfortable in the world you’ve made. You’ll know when you get to that point, because you’ll close your eyes and see what your characters see. Beyond that, you’ll see what came before, what’s beyond that hill, who lives in that house, etc. It’s like shooting practice before a basketball game. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you don’t have to think, and it’s all just feel. That’s my favorite way to write, although it makes me look a bit crazed (according to my roommates).
What are your favorite world-building methods? Better yet, favorite maps and fictional worlds? I won’t lie to you, I am thirsty as hell for an official map of Panem. WHY DO YOU TORMENT ME SO, SUZANNE COLLINS?
If you decide to write something for NaNoWriMo 2014 that requires a lot of worldbuilding I highly recommend to plan the month before using this advice for your worldbuilding.
THIS makes me very happy. There were a couple of spots that were bugging me, and I couldn't put my finger on it on how to make it better. So I had to keep brainstorming to see how to make it better.
Now one thing I am worried about is the word count. I feel it's just right, but then a little bit too low. When Asked Veronica Roth on twitter about word count she said 55,000 was a good range. She told me when she started submitting Divergent that it was exactly 55,000 words. Then when she under went revisions with her agent the word count went up to around 78,000. Then when Harper Collins bought Divergent and she did revisions from her editor the final word count went up to 105,000. So I hope I am in an okay range. I like stories that get right into the action and don't mess around adding unnecessary background stories.
Now to decide if I will submit to #PitchWars or not.
This morning I woke to find this letter in my email Dear KDP Author, Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year. With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion. Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive. Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers. The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books. Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive. Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger. But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that. And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read). A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures. And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading. We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle. We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. Thanks for your support. The Amazon Books Team P.S. You can also find this letter at www.readersunited.com
This message that was sent to people who have a kindle account. The message sent this morning was to try and rally up authors and readers who are against high prices of e-books. Amazon even tries to justify their stances of e-book prices by trying to go back in history to when paperbooks started coming out.
If Amazon actually knew what was involved with traditional publishing they wouldn't have sent this message. Blogger and author Nathan Bransford makes a valid point to end the dispute in his post.
I personally think the whole dispute is over Amazon wanting more power over everything. Amazon is not even taking into consideration what is in the best interest for the author, or the publisher. Amazon is all about Amazon. Borders has already closed because of Amazon. Walmart is starting to see a suffering in sales, what more can they do to disrupt the retail chain?
Now that I am done with summer school I am taking the time to revise the couple of spots manuscript that were bugging me. I would sit in class thinking how can I change this? How can I make the plot twist more realistic?
Then in the middle of the night the idea hit me, and I didn't care that my class started at 7am, I had to put that in before I forget. So I sat down
Plus #PitchWars is starting again. I don't know if I will submit again this year. Depending on how fixing the couple of scenes goes I'll decide then.