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!
Monday, April 30, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The Making of A Cover post that was supposed to go up last week, didn't due to technical difficulties so it's up today. Head on over to YA Confidential to see what went into making the new Clockwise cover, from model shoot to final copy. But first, read this.
Last week I had the honor and opportunity to spend time with fellow Canadian, Paul Young, author of The Shack. In case you haven't heard of this little book, Paul self-published it in 2008 and it hit the world by storm, literally-it's in over 40 languages.
This accomplishment is even more amazing when you factor in that he did this with print books. This was before the e-book "revolution" and most indie authors today will tell you that 95% of their books sales are e-versions.
So, how did it come about that I, little author from small city British Columbia, got to hang out with this indie author superstar? (btw, he'd hate that I called him that. He's such a down to earth, friendly and generous man.)
I'm part of a non-profit artist group called Tribehouse, which focuses on art, faith and justice, three areas that Paul Young is passionate about, so it made sense to invite him to one of our events. Plus, he has family in the city 45 min away from us, a bonus for him. Prior to the evening event, ten of us went for lunch. The food was good, but the conversation was better. He told us about his wife, Kim, and his six children; what it's like to live in Oregon; and how his life has changed from four years ago when he cleaned toilets and sold soldering tips (? or something like that). Now he travels the world and speaks at New Age conventions, atheist conferences, churches, prisons, and events like ours.
He also asked each one of us what we did and how we came together as friends to form this group. Did I mention he's a hugger?
Also, that he's a compelling and passionate public speaker? He had the room spellbound. Whether you believed what he had to say or not, you couldn't doubt that he believed it.
It seemed like everyone took away something different from his talk. Here are the things I went home with.
1) Nothing shatters a soul like sexual abuse. This is Paul's personal "great sadness."
2) Don't commodify art. Art has it's own value. Don't always think that you have to sell your art to make it worthwhile. This is a point I personally struggle with.
3) God doesn't run. Mostly. There is only one instance in the bible where God ran, and that was to greet his prodigal son. Jesus never ran.
This is a big one for me. I'm always in a hurry, especially when it comes to Indie pubbing--the (false) sense of urgency to get my work out there, to sell it. I have to say that all my rushing hasn't gotten me to my intended goal any faster.
4) The journey is the journey to trust.
If you'd like to see professional pictures and read more about the event, check out this Tribehouse blog post, Paul Young rattles Bottega.
Monday, April 23, 2012
CLOCKWISE is on tour this week via AToMR blog tours and you could win books! Each stop is offering one book by an Indelible author with the grand prize being a collection of all the books offered on the tour!
The tour starts off today at these blogs. Go check them out!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
And, today my husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I'm actually somewhere in the sky flying west from Vancouver BC to Saint John New Brunswick where my oldest son is graduating from University. As a bonus, my merfolk book SEAWEED is set in a fictional town on the border of New Brunswick and Maine, so it's also a research trip! #multitasking #notreallyhere
Also, I'm excited to present the new book trailer for Joelle Anthony's new YA release, THE RIGHT AND THE REAL.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a great day. See you next week. :)
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Okay, that's not true. I do know when I'm leaving and when I'm coming back, tomorrow to Sunday, but I am flying across the vast country of Canada, from Vancouver, BC to Saint John, New Brunswick and it's going to take. All. Day.
It's my eldest son's University graduation and my husband and my/mine 25th Wedding anniversary. Plus, we just happen to be going to the very region where my merfolk book, SEAWEED, is set, so also a little research may take place. Just saying.
My middle two boys came home from working up north, and so, yes, it's busy at the Strauss house, but in a good way.
And, I'm happy to announce that when I get back, on Monday, April 23, CLOCKWISE is going back on tour.
You don't want to miss out on this one because I'm giving away an Indelible book at each stop (and there's several a day), with a grand prize at the end consisting of all the books offered on the tour!
So, stay tuned for more details.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Then it goes on sale! For .99!
And you feel so ripped off.
I get this. No one likes to feel like they just threw away two bucks.
So, why do authors do this?
I'll tell you why, but first I have to say there's no good time to go on sale. There's always going to be someone who bought the day or so before and you know you're going to tick someone off.
Here's the review to prove it.
Ok, I enjoyed Clockwise and would write a rave review about it but I just noticed now coming to write the review the book I bought a few days ago for 2.99 it is now only .99. That just irks me beyond words! Why do authors do that? This is not the first time it has happened to me. I may give up buying books over .99 from now on.
Anyway, buy the book.
If you're a reader and you want to know why authors do this, here are the reasons:
1) We need to sell books in order to justify all the time and money spent writing and publishing them.
2) Amazon is set up in such away that the more people who buy your book (at any price, even free) the more they will tell people about your book and the more people will buy it. It's the algorithm merry-go-round. (B&N and others have even less effective ways to get word out about your book.)
3) If you find your book isn't selling enough at the price it's listed in order to hop on that merry-go-round, then you have to lower your price so that you can.
4) You can only hope that people who bought at the higher price will still think they got good value at 2.99 and will still enjoy reading your book while they sip the 4.50 cup of coffee they bought at Starbucks.
So now you know why.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Jodi Picoult made headlines last week for her views on self-publishing, expressed in an interview with the Daily Beast (from Page 2):
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Take a workshop course. You need to learn to give and get criticism and to write on demand. And DO NOT SELF PUBLISH.
The (outdated) blanket warning to avoid self-publishing generated a lot of reaction in the comments of that piece and anywhere else it was reprinted. I won’t rehash all that, only to note that, by contrast, Ms. Picoult thinks it’s a fine idea to sign with an agent who has no clients and zero experience.
Jodi Picoult got an opportunity to explain her position in a little more detail to the Huffington Post the following day.
My current advice is to not self-publish. It’s still too hard for people to separate the wheat from the chaff, and what you miss out on is the marketability that is afforded to you by a brick and mortar publisher. There’s a lot of crap out there, and one day we may find a way to segregate well written self published fiction from that stuff which anyone can throw on Amazon, but I just don’t think we’re there yet. Let me put it to you this way. The anomalies of self published fiction, the Amanda Hockings of this world – what did they do with their next book? Do they self publish it? No – they make sure they get a publisher.I won’t spend much time discussing the obvious error at the end, only to point out that Amanda Hocking had self-published numerous titles before she signed on with an agent, released more afterward, and, when she finally agreed a deal with a publisher, she only signed away some of her books, and the rest of her self-published work is still on the market (and she has stated on numerous occasions that she will continue to self-publish).
It must also be noted that before Amanda Hocking self-published, she had failed to attract the interest of an agent or publisher in those very same titles. The success of her self-publishing endeavors, however, bagged her a $2m advance. Needless to say, Hocking would be in a very different position today if she had followed Jodi Picoult’s advice.
The Myth of the Segregated Marketplace
Jodi Picoult is urging writers not to self-publish as it’s “still too hard for people to separate the wheat from the chaff” because there is “a lot of crap out there.”
Newsflash: there is no segregated marketplace. All those e-books from publishers and self-publishers jostle for attention in the same retailers, side-by-side on the virtual bookshelves. Self-published titles aren’t ghettoized, and they don’t carry a warning label.
In other words, an author published by Random House faces the same discoverability challenges as a self-publisher. We’re all trying to climb out of the same primordial ranking soup. Having a publisher’s imprint name in your product description offers zero assistance with that task.
The “Amount of Crap” Myth
I’ll assume the basic assumption is correct, that there is a lot of crap available. I’ll also ignore the provenance of this crap – whether that’s content farm crap, scraped Wikipedia crap, genuine self-published crap, or crap books from big publishers – and I’ll just agree: there is a lot of crap.
However, and this is the key point, the crap is invisible. Nobody sees a book that’s #700,000 in the Amazon rankings. They don’t appear on any bestseller lists. They aren’t recommended in Also Boughts. Readers don’t see them.
Those who believe the amount of crap is an issue must think that visibility on Amazon is distributed equally. Rather, it’s a form of meritocracy where books that are purchased more often are displayed to readers more often. Crap books that aren’t being bought will not be recommended at all.
Books live or die on word-of-mouth. Unless an author is in the rare position of having a significant built-in audience, and merely has to announce a book’s release to catapult it to the upper reaches of the charts, they will depend on readers who discover (and enjoy) the book sharing that opinion with others, whether that’s through online reviews, social media, email, reader sites, or plain old conversation.
Crap books are invisible. Crap books will not be recommended by one reader to another. The amount of crap doesn’t matter because crap books are irrelevant. There could be 100 million crap books on Amazon, and it wouldn’t matter one bit.
Crap books aren’t the reason why discoverability is a challenge for most writers. Good books are.
If all the crap historical novels disappeared tomorrow, my sales would be unaffected. However, if a decent chunk of the good historical novels disappeared, I would benefit from increased visibility on genre bestseller lists (etc.) and my sales would rise.
Indeed, one could make the argument that self-publishing is more prudent as you will get your novel out now, rather than in a year or two (or longer, factoring in the time to find an agent, go on submission, and land a deal) when all the large publisher backlists will be digitized and there will be even more great books vying for readers’ attention.
Read the entire article at Let's Get Digital
I think David Gaughran hit the nail on the head. What do you think?
Monday, April 9, 2012
I've had to adjust our traditions over the years
When the kids were younger I'd hide Easter baskets around the house on Saturday morning, with strict instructions that if they found another sibling's basket, they weren't to give the location away! Then we'd decorate eggs and go on an Easter Egg hunt, usually with friends with kids around the same age. Sunday was for church and Monday we'd do our big meal of turkey or ham which usually included my parents. I liked to spread things out over the whole weekend. :) Everything was busy, crowded and loud.
As the kids got older, certain things fell away. We stopped doing the egg hunts and even though they still wanted baskets, they didn't want me to hide them and the urge to get up early to dig into them faded away, too. My daughter, who's almost eighteen, still wanted a basket this year declaring that any kid still at home should get one, despite the age. ha. And she still likes to decorate eggs.
Now my parents have moved away and all three boys are gone, either to school or working. My daughter has been a vegetarian for the last two years, so I don't see the point in cooking a big turkey or ham for just me and my husband.
For the last couple years we've done something else. Instead of cooking a Turkey (and dealing with the post clean-up mess) I picked up a roasted chicken (and fake chicken nuggets for la daughter) from Safeway on the way home from church. Also their signature Tuscany (spicy) Tomato soup with an artisan bread bowl for each of us. So, our new tradition has become roast chicken and salad, soup and bread, and pie and whipped cream. Yum. It struck me this year how the the tomato soup and bread closely symbolized the last supper of wine and bread, and so actually felt very fitting for an Easter dinner.
This blog has been of the boring and personal variety, but I haven't written one like that for a while.
I hope you and yours all had a peaceful and blessed Easter weekend!
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Here's more information on Return to Eden:
A $10 customized Visa Debit Card! G.P. will give away ten of these throughout the tour. Use them anywhere Visa is accepted for anything you desire!
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I think my answer might surprise some people. It's actually a three part response and the first two are expected. The third might not be.
Here's my standard reply:
Read a lot. Write a lot.
And don't put all your eggs into the writing basket. Live a balanced life.
What? Really? That's it???
Yes, there's a lot more to do than read and write. There's editing, revising, developing craft, blogging, social networking, marketing, live events, interviews, guest posts, blog tours, collecting reviews and every kind of crazy making.
If you let it. Don't let it.
Here's another truth: Most authors, even ones traditionally published, don't make their whole living off their writing.
MOST. That might be hard to believe if you go by all the fabulous writers we hear about all the time, making the NYT list, always on book tours and key speaking at conferences. But like many art disciplines, for example acting and music, 10% of the people make it big and the other 90% struggle and starve.
I'm not trying to discourage anyone. In fact, I'm trying to do the opposite. If you accept that you are part of the 90% and find other things in life that you enjoy and can make money at you will be happier. You will be more content. You will be more creative.
And if you happen to wake up one day and find you've somehow made it into the 10% crowd, then yahoo! Good for you. But at least you didn't waste years pinning away after something that you may not get. Instead you have years of creative productivity you can look back on with immense personal satisfaction.
You can say, "I did this." And it will be enough.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Heather: I'm so excited to share the cover of my young adult historical fantasy novel, To Ride A Púca, with you. I've been waiting for so long to reveal the news and the cover that it's been driving me crazy! This novel is special to me, as many of you know, because it felt like my heart and soul has gone into it. It isn't a part of the channeler series, though it is a tie-in novel as it's about one of Eren's ancestors. This is a stand alone of a very different flavor and I hope you love it as much as I do.
Here is a bit about it:
Invaders are coming to take what isn't theirs, again.
Neala wants to stand and fight for her homeland, but as one of the last druids, she may be standing alone.
Persecuted, hunted down, forced to live in obscurity, the druids have all but given up. Can the determination of a girl who has barely come into her power bring them together? Or, just when she finally finds her place among her kind, will they end up losing a homeland their very magic is tied to?
This novel is intended for mature teens and adults as it contains some difficult subject matter.
I had to throw that warning in because I had one person who was disturbed by some of the subject matter in The Secret Of Spruce Knoll. To Ride A Púca is a much darker novel than Spruce Knoll and will certainly not be appropriate for some readers. Slavery, oppression, and violent situations are within this novel. It certainly falls under the dark YA category. But it is also about hope, love, and belonging. It releases this May! To add this novel to your Goodreads lists click here. To pre-order a signed hardback (to ship at the end of May), click here.