I'm author ELLE STRAUSS and welcome to my website!
I write fun, lower Young Adult (teen) fiction to do with whimsical things like time-travel, fairies and merfolk.
When my serious side peeks out, she's called LEE STRAUSS. She likes to write upper YA about real things that have happened in the past, or made up things that could quite possibly happen in the future.
This blog is about books, mine and other fab authors', but occasionally I'll share about other topics.
Thanks for dropping by!
Friday, February 26, 2010
And just to make it even sweeter, there will be PRIZES. Prizes will not be awarded based on how much you write or revise, but simply on how involved you are in the Big Accountability Plan. There will be seven check-in points per week. Each time you check in and record your progress, your name will be entered in a draw for some great prizes, including some high-demand ARC’s and writing craft books.
So, spread the word my friends, (blogs, facebook, twitter, etc). Check back with me this coming Monday, March 01, 2010 to put your goals officially in writing and find out the locations of the check-in points( I'll be one of them!). If you’re ready to get serious, don’t do it alone…Get serious with us!
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The most frequent markings had to do with COMMAS. Who knew they could be so tricky? Am I the only one who doesn't know how to use them? Or is it a matter of style and preference, because I'm pretty sure I didn't use them in such a way that confused the meaning as in Eats, Shoots and Leaves.
The other grammar issue had to do with Past Perfect Tense, where in you use a lot of apostrophe D's.
I'd (see tricky use of PPT in previous word)read somewhere (book or article on writing) that for scenes such as flash backs it was okay to start off in past perfect tense, then revert back to regular past tense once the reader understands that what you're talking about already happened. The thinking here is PPT is cumbersome to read.
Apparently, this is just a school of thought. Agent Awesome is a grammar purist and so I spent quite a bit of time converting several sections to past perfect tense.
In case you need to brush up on past perfect tense (like I did), I found this nifty chart.
On another note: I spent the last day and a half friending and following and I'm still not through my list, but, I'm really excited to finally be getting my feet wet in FB and Twitterdom. I still don't understand everything that's going on. Maybe someone can tell me why the # sign is used so much and how I should use it? Also what is http/bit.ly?
Got any other tips/info I should know? Thanks a bunch to everyone who has friended and followed me back.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I feel like I'm heading out into a deep dense forest and I'm not sure if I'm going to come out alive. :O
I found the icons! Go ahead and click on them!
The Prizes: $25.00 gift card from Amazon and two awesome books. Go check it out. But you have to hurry, deadline is TODAY, 6:00pm MST.
Second, this is an awesome contest for Agented writers: Vania's Life Captures--Photo Shoot! For your book promo!
This is a crazy amazing contest and if you enter PLEASE tell her ELLE STRAUSS sent you!
Monday, February 22, 2010
Synonyms for Thrilled:
Excited, animated, aroused, elated, electrified, fired up, inspired, moved, stirred, touched, worked up.
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m Fired UP to announce that I have an AGENT.
Yes! Me. An agent. I’m Electrified to say that as of last week, I am represented by Natalie Fischer of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
It's so amazing to finally get a letter like this one:
I’m thrilled to say that, after careful consideration, I would like to extend an offer of representation. I think you have an amazing story; I was fully engaged, and I definitely would love to work with you.
I'm so Elated, Inspired and relieved to finally be out of Querydom.
Thanks, Natalie, for taking me on!
Friday, February 19, 2010
1)Hubby's off to the Olympics today to play in various music venues over the next week. Songwriters are writers, too! If you're into folk/roots/singer songwriter stuff, you can check out his website at www.normstrauss.com.
2)Laurel is hosting the next blog fest ---Whoops! It's this monday Feb 22. Go to Laurel's blog to sign up for another day of blogfest fun.
3)I pulled out my Nano WIP yesterday and read it through, just over a hundred pages. Inspired now to get back into it. Basically, I wrote the main plot only--no subplots in sight. Secondary characters are anemic, too.
4)BIG ANNOUNCEMENT coming Monday! Let's just say I've managed to escape Querydom velocity!!!!!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Here's the blurb from her blog. Don't delay, go see it for yourself!
"The day has arrived! Today could change your life. Okay, not really. But maybe next Monday.
Because I'm having a contest that starts today and ends on Sunday at 10 PM(MST). Winners will then be chosen and announced next Monday, February 22.
Here's what you can win: A query letter critique.
By one of these top five literary agents!
1. Kate Testerman-Shafer of KT Literary (critique will be posted on her blog, Ask Daphne)
2. Michelle Andelman of Lynn C. Franklin Associates (my fabulous agent!)
3. Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Literary Agency
4. Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency
5. Joanna Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation
Worth entering? You decide. But if you win, one of those agents will be helping you out with your query letter. And who better to do that than the people who read hundreds of them?
I mean, seriously.
In addition to that, FIVE more winners will win a free copy of my eBook, From the Query to the Call, which outlines in great detail how to write a query letter (and other things). All winners--as with all buyers--get a free query critique by me with this eBook.
As if that weren't enough, FIVE more winners will win a package of my all-time favorite writing tools: the super-sticky, super-size Post-it note. I love those things. They're 4x6-inches, so you can really take notes in the middle of the night and stick your scribbles to your laptop.
HOW TO ENTER:
1. You must follow my blog.
2. You must follow Shelli Johannes-Wells' blog.
3. You must fill out the form below. (Lots of ways to earn extra entries--but none of them are required to enter, just follow both blogs, which will earn you 3 entries.)
***NOTE: Shelli is also running a big contest this week, because we're party animals! We're offering extra entries for following each other, but if you're interested in winning the prizes in her contest, you MUST ENTER HER CONTEST. She's having prizes every day with some grand prizes at the end of the week. Mine isn't like that. It's open from now until Sunday night, and then drawings will be held. (This will be my only post this week.)
In other words, if you enter here, you are NOT entered there. They are two separate contests that we're promoting together. Does that make sense? If not, shoot me an email: elanajohnson(at)gmail(dot)com."
Sunday, February 14, 2010
This isn't exactly at first sight, but it's my young teen MC's first awareness of his feelings for a girl who becomes very important to him in the future. This scene is from PLAYING WITH MATCHES.
Emil wandered the streets of Passau, teeth chattering, fingers burning with cold. He stuffed his hands deep into his pockets, his steps short and quick. No one and nothing was warm; even the towers of the Cathedral appeared barren and ashamed.
His mind took him to all the places he didn’t want to go: the war, always the war, and how deep down inside, he didn’t think they would win. About Helmut and how he wished he could have a carefree childhood. That they all could have that.
As bad as those thoughts were, they were better than dwelling on the raw aching pang of hunger that throbbed in his gut.
He turned to find Katrina running to catch up to him.
“Hi,” he said. A foreign discomfort settled over him. He’d never been alone with Katrina before. It was always with the gang.
“Where are you going?” she said.
Emile shrugged. “No where, really.”
“Oh.” Katrina buried her red nose into her scarf. Her hair was longer now, braids sticking out from underneath her wool hat. She had the telltale signs of mal-nutrition, gray circles under her eyes, sunken cheeks, and her face was bright red from the cold. But, he thought, she was still pretty.
She didn’t seem in a hurry to leave. “Mother sent me to buy some flour for bread. Do you think there will be any left at the market?”
“I don’t know. Doesn’t hurt to check, I guess.”
“It’s cold.” Katrina stated the obvious. “We’d be warmer if we ran. Do you want to race me?”
Anything was better than this awkward conversation.
“Sure, where to?”
“From here to the end of the street.”
They took up the pre-racing position. Emil decided he would go easy on her, make sure he didn’t win by too much. They were both cold and hungry; he didn’t need to add humiliation to that.
“Ready,” she said, “set, go!”
He needn’t have worried about humiliating her. Her legs moved liked wild fire, and it was Emil who was in danger of a humiliating loss. He pushed harder, his heart thumping wildly, first as a result of sudden exertion, second with the possibility that he might lose to a girl.
Emil managed to keep a slim lead and whether she let him win or not, he didn’t know and he didn’t want to know. They flopped onto a nearby bench, and she started laughing.
“Why—are you—laughing?” he puffed.
“Because it was fun, Emil,” she said in between breaths. “I haven’t had fun in a while.” She smiled at him and Emil felt a big sappy grin take over his face in return.
“I’ll walk with you to the market,” Emil said, suddenly wanting to be with her for longer.
They entered the store and as expected the shelves were empty, reminding Emil of a giant face with all its teeth knocked out. Emil wasn’t sure why it remained opened. When a shipment of any kind came in, word got out like a strong wind and almost instantaneously a long lineup of people would form eager to buy anything they could get their hands on.
“I’m sorry, Katrina.”
Across the street they spotted Heinz. He had his arm around a girl, flirty and giggling, pushing up against Heinz’s body to keep warm.
“Elsbeth will be so jealous,” said Katrina. “She has a big crush on him.”
Emil couldn’t help staring. What would it feel like to put his arm around a girl? He imagined himself with his arm around Katrina. She would be soft and warm, comforting. Emil feared his face was doing wierd things because Katrina asked him if something was wrong. “Are you feeling okay, Emil?”
He feigned a cough. “Um, yeah, I’m fine. Just the usual. Hungry, cold.”
“Yeah,” she said, staring. “The usual.” Then she took his hand and rubbed it, causing a strange happy floating sensation to rise up in his belly.
Friday, February 12, 2010
1) Sunday is VALENTINES DAY and also LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT BLOG FEST, where you get to post the scene in your WIP where your two faves realize that they are falling in love. This fest is hosted by Courtney Reese. Go check her out and sign up so we can find you. I'm looking forward to reading all of your great falling in love scenes!
2) LUCKY AGENT CONTEST, Here's what they say: First place: 1) A critique of 25 pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A query critique from your agent judge. 3) Two free books from Writer's Digest Books (I will give you several choices and you pick the books your want).
Runner-ups - second and third place: 1) A critique of 10 pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) One free book from Writer's Digest Books (I will give you several choices and you pick the book your want). The lucky agent is Jennifer Laughran from Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Check out the link for more info.
3) SURVIVOR! Did you watch it? Love the heroes vs villains theme. It's so, I don't know, writerly. As writers we deal with villains and heroes in our work everyday. Any other Survivor fans with me?
4)Myspace advice wanted: What is your opinion on Myspace? Is it still considered a valuable social networking/marketing tool, or has it gone the way of the dinosaur? Are you on Myspace?
5)I wasn't going to do five when I started, but now I have to. When my computer, a PC, crashed, I was loaned a Mac, which I'm trying to write with right now. Everyone who uses a Mac says that once you're on Mac you'll never go back. After two days I can say, I'M NOT SURE ABOUT THAT. For instance, where is the right click, easy to copy and paste feature? or the right click let's fix that misspelled word in a jiffy. What about you? Are you a PC'er or a MACy?
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I started researching with Thomas Nelson which put me onto Mike Hyatt, which put me onto yourself and Chip MacGregor.
The correct way to say this is: … which put me onto you and…
Patricia T. O’Connor says it so well in her book Woe Is I, that I’m just going to quote her directly. Woe Is I is my favorite grammar book, so if you’re looking for a good one, go buy it here.
“In the contest between I and me, the booby prize often goes to myself.
That’s why we see sentences like Jack and myself were married yesterday. (It’s Jack and I.) Or like this more common self-promotion: The project made money for Reynaldo and myself. The speaker isn’t sure whether it’s Reynaldo and me or Reynaldo and I, so she goes with Reynaldo and myself. Tsk, tsk. (It’s for Reynaldo and me.)
Myself and the rest of the self-ish crew (yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves) shouldn’t take the place of the ordinary pronouns I and me, she and her, and so on. They are used for only two purposes:
1)To emphasize. I made the cake myself. Love itself is a riddle. The detective himself was the murderer. (The emphasis could be left out, and the sentence would still make sense.).
2)To refer to the subject. She hates herself. And you call yourself a plumber! They consider themselves lucky to be alive. The problem practically solved itself.”
Whoa, I’m so glad we got that settled. So, can you figure it out yourself, yet?
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
It got me thinking about things that suck.
1. First Drafts (as stated by Ms Johnson, see video below).
2. Waiting. For agents to respond to full requests. And to a lesser extent, for beta's to return edits on a completed wip.
3. Waiting. No really. Waiting really sucks.
4. Waiting. I digress.
I like how she explains what it feels like to hand in a manuscript when she's done revisions. Stunned, like she's been hit on the side of the head with a plank. That's exactly how I feel right now after working so hard on two wips and having completed revisions on them one right after the other. I'm sort of walking around, my finger stroking my bottom lip, going ba-ba-ba.
I know it's short lived. Soon my beta's will ask me to read for them in return. And maybe I'll have to start that next book. Better yet, I'll get that agent!
Monday, February 8, 2010
Plus--and this is the big Wah- hoo for Ms Steads--she won the 2010 Newberry Medal for this book!
Below is the blurb from the Loft Staff Picks.
It's 1978 in New York city, and Miranda's life gets complex. Her best friend Sal suddenly stops speaking to her after he is punched by a mysterious boy. She begins receiving a series of enigmatic notes. Her mother needs her help preparing for her appearance on "The $20,000 Pyramid" game show. All of this comes together in surprising ways in this part mystery, part science fiction/fantasy, part historical fiction, and part coming of age story. The chapters are humorously named after game shows. Miranda's and Sal's struggles are engaging and true to life. Miranda's 12-year-old voice is pitch perfect, reflecting a girl teetering on the brink of the teen years and trying to "be older," but at the same time wanting to still be a kid. The recurring theme of time travel adds depth to this stunning story in which all the details matter.
So for writing an awesome, fun and clever book AND for winning a major coveted award, Here's to you, Rebecca Stead!
Friday, February 5, 2010
1) My Computer woes continue. Laptop is on life support. I'm not sure if it's going to make it. It sucks working on a borrowed computer.
2)Good news- I finished revisions on my current WIP-PLAYING WITH MATCHES and it is now out with a few beta readers. Yay, another book writing milestone reached.
3) I've noticed a new feature on my side bar, where there used to be one grouping of faces under Followers, a second group has popped up called Friends. Does anyone know what this is?
4)Feb 14 is VALENTINES DAY, and also LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT BLOG FEST, the love child of Courtney Reese. Go check her out and sign up so we know how to find you.
5)And last but not least, a CONTEST--DENISE JADEN is giving away a copy of Laurie Ruby's new book Bad Apple. It's super easy to enter, you just have to comment with a name of an author who inspires you as a writer.
That was fun.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
A palindrome reads the same backwards as forward. This video reads the exact opposite backwards as it does forward. Not only does it read the opposite,the meaning is the exact opposite. This is only a 1 minute, 44 second video and it is brilliant. Make sure you read as well as listen..forward and backward.
This video was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old. The
contest was titled "You @ 50" by AARP. This video won second place. When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause. So simple and yet so brilliant. Take a minute and 44 seconds to watch it. Enjoy!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
This is a clip from a scene where the progtag, Emil is fighting on the Eastern front with a group of other teen boys.
Here comes my disclaimer/excuse: This isn't done-done, still a work in progress.
Run and duck, run and duck. Explosions on all sides and from the air. Heart pounding, quicker, faster, sweat dripping from his brow into his eyes. With his peripheral, Emil saw Johann, his face stiff, eyebrow arched in panic, dread. Another fierce explosion and they dropped to the ground. Emil braced his machine gun against his shoulder and pulled the trigger. He didn’t even open his eyes.
A panzer tanker rolled by and Emil and Johann jumped up to run along side it, hoping it would provide some cover, some protection from the ferocious attack of the Red Army, stronger now than any other day.
Emil heard screaming. The noise around him was outrageous, demanding, but he heard it. He turned and saw Johann on the ground, writhing. Writhing and screaming. His leg was gone.
“Johann!” Emil ran to him, pulled off his belt and strapped it around Johann’s stump, pulling it tight. He couldn’t help it, he turned away and vomited. Grabbing Johann under his arms, Emil dragged him back, away from the enemy lines.
Bombs dropped from over head, bullets whizzing. Emil kept dragging Johann, back-step, slide. His screams became moans. Almost there. Medical truck in sight.
Burning heat in his right leg. Emil gasped, dropping Johann’s heavy body. He was hit. A bullet. Emil fell hard, Johann falling against him. Friedrich caught up to them from behind, pausing briefly to register-- two soldiers down.
“Those bastards!” Friedrich’s face contorted, demon-like. His long legs sprinted towards the front; he hollered a deep belly yell, For the Fatherland! shooting his rifle with wild madness.
The shots were returned. Friedrich’s body shuddered as it was riddled with bullets. He slumped to the ground in a pool of blood.
Emil jerked himself backwards, one painful pull at a time, trying to hang on to Johann as he went. More pain. Vicious, searing, tearing pain. Another hit-- his shoulder, blood spurting.
Monday, February 1, 2010
I can't, that's the answer. So here I sit at my daughter's computer with a wierd keyboard that has the back space button in the wrong place, winging it.
It was strange yesterday, not having my laptop smiling at me and calling to me all day. It was a little bit like separation anxiety, I was the little girl at the screen door crying as my mother went to work, only it was my laptop closed and unaccessable.
I felt naked, or shipwrecked or something.
Then I thought, this can't be good. This kind of emotional and social dependence on the internet. There are other things I could DO. Like bake banana bread, go to Lyn's memorial--which was lovely, and invite my neighbors over to watch the Grammies.
Wasn't that tribute to Michael Jackson stunning? Even without 3D glasses.
How do you deal with internet dependance? Should we start a support group online?(Ha ha.)