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!
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I broke it down into three sections:
1) writing - the creative brain
2) editing - the critical brain
3) publishing - the business brain
I have it all laid out in a pretty Power Point presentation, which has been saved as a PDF. Click on the link if you want to see it.
They chose this night to dig the sidewalk up outside. I used it as an example of an exterior antagonist. =)
I was pretty nervous (my inner antagonist) but it went well.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
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?
Available in eBook and hardback at B&N, Amazon, and other retail sites.
Disclaimer: This novel contains some violence and difficult subject matter. It is recommended for mature YA and up.
I’ll be giving away great prizes, a new one, every week for the next three weeks. This week I’m giving away a signed paperback of TANGLED TIDES by Karen Amanda Hooper. It is about a girl who finds herself tangled up in the underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. It is one of my favorite books of the year so far, trust me you’ll love it! The contest will be open until June 3rd, the winner to be announced on the 4th.
Monday, May 28, 2012
2. CLOCKWISE is FREE! On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/CLOCKWISE-book-one-Clockwise-ebook/dp/B005WOFX4M
If you have a Kobo or an iPad, iPod, iphone, CLOCKWISE is FREE for you,too. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for? (also free on Smashwords) :=)
3. It's a time of transition for our family. The oldest graduated from University recently and the youngest is about to graduate from High School. The middle two left home, the third one for the first time. We had one day we were all home together for family photos and of course it had to rain. We actually got a great shot because of it.
|Yes, I'm the short one.|
5. Now that I'm finished with the Clockwise Series (Clocked to be released soon) I'm deciding what to work on next. Playing with Matches is still on the sidelines. It needs editing but I'm not sure if I'm ready to delve into this daunting task or not. I'm hoping to get to Nuremberg and Passau (the two cities the story is set in) this fall.
What I'm really itching to get back to is my science fiction/dystopian ms, tentatively called Perception. I wrote it alternating between two POVs, but now I'm thinking that book one should be in the girl's POV only, and then book two in the guy's.
So many decisions!
How about you? How was your weekend? What are you working on now?
Friday, May 25, 2012
Raffelcopter randomly chose our winners.
The Grand Prize winner of a kindle or nook loaded with books is Heidi from The Readiacs. Congratulations, Heidi!!
The five winners of my novelette CLOCKED are:
As soon as Clocked is released, I will send you all the Smashwords code by email.
Congratulations! And thanks for doing the hop!!
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
5. Winner announced on the Indelible blog May 25.
Plus, I am giving away 5 copies of my brand new novelette, CLOCKED!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Friday, May 18, 2012
Lost memory and a ring given to Julian in his dream sets off a journey that Julian didn't anticipate to ever take. Everything that he thought about his life was just an existence, His parents are not his parents and his best friend Garth is his guardian. He finds out what he really is and where he is really from. This is the who it’s about paragraph. You should be able to distil it down to one or two lines. I think you’re trying to say too much here.
There is also another half to Julian and her name is Ebony. She saved him in an attack back home. She wears a matching ring just like his. Together these rings are powerful. Even though he has no memory of her he feels compelled to save her from the prison she's being held in. the circumstance. I would try to capsulate this more. Ie: Ebony wears a matching ring. Though she once saved his life, Julian doesn’t remember her. Still, he’s compelled to rescue her from her prison cell. --something like that. He has many obstacles to overcome and one is by the name of Kellan, a rogue who has made it clear he plans on killing Julian for his ring.
War is looming back home and time is running out as now others who have heard that Julian lives are now making him the hunt.
There is a new girl at school, Anya. She is one of them and claims she can help them. She says she knows Kellan. At first they're not sure but she proves herself and sets out to help Julian reclain who he was. The previous sentences should make up your conflict paragraph. Pick the main conflict not the subplot conflicts. What they both don't know is that is playing a deadly game of her own. This is the hook sentence. Work to make is shine so that it can stand on its own, like a log line.
Seventeen-year-old immortal Mylo Chance doesn’t see the point in building relationships, especially with girls. Who it’s about. It isn’t because he’s part of the Soulettey race–emotionless, soulless beings created to balance the error of human judgment. That would be too simple of an explanation.
Relationships are impractical because Mylo is Broken. Circumstance.
Being Broken means the impossible follows no schedule.awkward. I don’t understand this sentence. No matter where Mylo is or what he’s doing, uninvited souls slam into his chest and reek havoc on his humanity, torturing him with their dying moments. To escape, Mylo must become a white Arctic fox–the only animal Soulettey in existence. In this form he can transfer the souls and store them in animal hosts called the Inhabited.
Feeling alienated from his own race for centuries, Mylo has had plenty of time to question his existence. That list doubles when he meets the highly likable and entertaining Ellary, a human girl he just can’t seem to say no to. But it isn’t until several Soulettey men ask Mylo if he’s seen a white fox lurking in the woods, that he suspects there’s more to being a Broken than creating Inhabited. These two paragraphs contain your conflict.
Keeping his Soulettey identity a secret, Mylo and Ellary track down the men, hoping to find answers. Instead, Mylo learns about two conflicting legends pertaining to his existence and the well-being of the Soulettey species. But which story is true and who is Mylo’s real enemy?
An emotionally riddled Mylo encounters tragic loss, unforgettable kinships, heartbreak, and vicious enemies in his quest to uncover the truth behind his creation and prevent a war that could terminate his entire race. I’d distill these two remaining paragraphs into one or two sentences that contain the hook.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Adeline doesn't feel she belongs in her own time, but can bad boys from the past be trusted?
Adeline Savoy had hoped that the move west from Cambridge to Hollywood with her single dad would mean they’d finally bond like a real family, but all she got was a father too busy with his new female friends and his passion for acting to really see her.
Instead she finds herself getting attached to Faye, the divorcee hair dresser she befriends when she travels back in time to 1955. Plus Faye has a hottie, James Dean-esque, bad-boy brother who has Adeline’s heart all aflutter. But bad boys from the past can be dangerous. Is it possible that Adeline really does belong in her own time and that maybe the right boy lives as close as next door?
LIKE CLOCKWORK is available now at Amazon and Smashwords and soon for B&N, ibooks and other e-book retailers.
Read on to sample the first chapter:
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
It is available now on Amazon and Smashwords.
Stay tuned for more details and a giveaway coming up with The Indelibles!
You can find her online at www.maganvernon.com
Monday, May 14, 2012
Where I do I start, I ask you, where do I start???
If you’re like me, you’ve jumped around from starting position to starting position, pulling your hair out as you go. If you’re not like me, well, lucky you.
Beginnings are so difficult for me, I almost feel like apologizing that I’m trying to instruct on how to write them at all. The most I can hope for is that you will learn from my mistakes.
But you have to start somewhere. So pick a spot and start. It’s only by trying it on for size that you’ll be able to tell if it fits.
And I can tell you this: you’re probably going to re-write your beginning many times, so don’t get too hung up on it at first. Just write it and move on.
But, for the purpose of the following instruction, let’s assume that you are at revision stage and want to nail that beginning sequence.
Let’s start with the first sentence.
What does a great first sentence look like? Let’s look at a few from the assortment of books I happen to currently have in my possession.
THE CAY by Theodore Taylor: Like silent, hungry sharks that swim in the darkness of the sea, the German submarines arrived in the middle of the night.
GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray: The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World.
MATCHED by Ally Condle: Now that I found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night.
BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver: They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.
And possibly the all time best first sentence ev-ah, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austin: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
Take a look at your own first sentence. If that’s all you had to go on, not the strength of the next sentence or paragraph, just the sentence itself, how would it strike you? Is it a strong sentence? Does it make you want to go, what comes next?
Here are a few of my first sentences.Some are keepers, and some are subject to change, but they're what I'm working with for now.
The pillar of smoke rising on the horizon could only mean one thing: a farm, which meant food.
Everyone has to live with something.
Helena’s father had cautioned her against wandering alone outside the perimeter of their villa, as mingling with the family’s slave and servant children was not allowed.
Zoe Vanderveen tried to focus on her summer reading physics text but her eyes kept lifting away from her glass electronic reader to the dark haired boy across the room.
He stood at the bonfire with his head high, shoulders back, radiating a military type of confidence.
And let me share one more. This is from my son, many years ago when he was six:
In the beginning it was very exciting and in the end it was even worse.
(Pretty much wraps up the writing life, doesn’t it? :D)
Why is this important? Because opening lines hook us into reading the second line. And hopefully more. I know when I’m browsing for a book, this is what I do—I read the first sentence. And then the first paragraph. I may read the whole first page, but not likely. If the first sentence and paragraph don’t grab me, I shelve the book and choose another.
How many pages do you give a book before you put it down?
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Knowing how to condense the idea of your novel into a two or three paragraph pitch is a skill that you will always need. In fact, it's basically what goes on the back jacket flap.
So, what makes a good query/pitch?
1.Tell us who the story is about.
2. Add the circumstance,
3. the conflict
4. and the hook.
I'll use the query that got me my first agent as an example, which also ended up being the basis for the jacket flap.
In CLOCKWISE (YA, chick lit, 60K), boy watching with her best friend would be enough excitement for fifteen year old Casey Donavan. Who it's about. She doesn't even mind life at the bottom of the Cambridge High social ladder, if only she didn’t have this other much bigger problem. Unscheduled trips to the nineteenth century!(A little more about who it's about. It’s okay to elaborate a little).
When Casey gets talked into going to the Fall Dance, the unthinkable happens--she accidentally takes Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. The circumstance.
Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just ‘brotherly’ protectiveness? When they return to the present things go back to the way they were before: Casey at the bottom of the social flag pole and Nate practically the flag flying from the top.The conflict. (Actually there are a few conflicts listed here, but one is usually enough).
Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her little brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again.
Which, of course, she does. The hook.
That alone would suffice as a pitch. In a query you should add a little information about yourself.
I added that I'd had editor requests from a Writers Conference I'd recently attended, my publishing history and two book titles whose readers I thought would enjoy this book.
Thank the agent for his or her time (make sure you address the query to them personally).
Sign it “Sincerely,” with your real (not pen) name.
Let’s look at the jacket flaps of a couple popular books.
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager Who it’s about despite the fact that she works for the International paranormal Containment Agency, her ex boy friend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape shifter and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’glamours.The circumstance.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. The conflict.
So much for normal. The hook.
Matched by Ally Condie
(This one doesn’t follow the four point plan and I don’t think it’s as strong as it could be. What do you think?)
In the Society, Official decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die. Here the circumstance is given before we find out who the story is about.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. Who it’s about, but not a lot of info. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The conflict Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow--between perfection and passion. More on the conflict but not a real hook.
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Seventeen year old Jena Fox has just awaken from a year-long coma Who it’s about--so she’s been told--and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. The circumstance. But what happened before that? She’s been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won’t anyone in her family talk about the accident? The conflict. Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions.
What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she, really? The hook.
(I think this is the strongest one of the bunch. What do you think?)
I'll critique the first three queries posted in the comments and reveal them on my blog next week.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
I'm pleased to be part of author Susan Oloier's book tour for FRACTURED.
- Susan Oloier
- Mom, wife, laundry-doer, and published writer. My essays have been published nationally, regionally, and online. I'm an Indie author in the making.