Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Author Crush - Elana Johnson

Have you read Elana Johnson's POSSESSION?

If "yes" - Congratulations. You're in the "I've Read One of the Best Books Ever and I Know It" club.
If "no" - Seriously!??! Go read it. Now. Maybe take the day off work or get a babysitter to watch your kids. It would be worth it.

Possession (Possession, #1)

Here's the short summary from Goodreads:

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about 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 brainwashing 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.

Got it? Good.

So, Ms. Johnson is an incredible writer in pretty much every area (which I hear you have to be, you know, if you want to be published.)

Examples? You know I've got 'em.

Her world building is intriguing and spot on:

Good girls don't walk with boys. Even if they're good boys - and Zenn is the best. He strolled next to me, all military with his hands clasped behind his back, wearing the black uniform of a Forces recruit. The green stripes on his shirtsleeves flashed with silver tech lights, probably recording everything. Probably? Who am I kidding? Those damn stripes were definitely recording everything.

Walking through the park in the evening is not technically against the rules Good people do it all the time. But walking through the park with a boy could get me in trouble.

She can deliver Big Messages in the midst of action and it doesn't feel weird or condescending at all:
"It's just a control tactic, Vi, to make you believe one thing over another."

I knew that, I did. But a lifetime of labels is hard to overcome. Maybe I just needed a new label, one that was neither good nor bad.

Her characters leap off the page:

Jag followed me, his breathing ragged. When I glanced at him, he was glowing. There I was, terrified, making stuff up on the fly, and this guy acted like he was on vacation.

The romance! Oh, the romance:

"You do smell like a guy, Jag whispered, his voice soft in my ear. His breath trickled down my spine. His fingers filled the spaces between mine perfectly.
"Shut up," I managed to say, but my voice sounded breathless. Surely he noticed the effect he had on me. I wasn't that good at hiding it. We'd only been living in the microscopic cell together for two days, but I felt a connection with Jag somewhere inside - somewhere I hadn't known existed until I met him.

But there's one thing in particular I'll never forget about POSSESSION. The Voice. Oh, my goodness, the Voice:

"Goodies are walking paper dolls, devoid of personality - and brains.
Yeah, that doesn't work for me. I don't want to be a paper doll."


So, In the Pantheon of Prose, I'm dubbing Ms. Johnson the Goddess of Voice.

This book is written in first person by a particularly badassed main character. By the time you're done reading this story through her eyes? I'm giving you about a 75% chance of sauntering around for the day, imagining what you would say to your whining children or boss if they were Thinkers, talking to you like that.

You might also start half your sentences with, "Yeah...." (just like Vi does.) But it'll only last for a couple of weeks, tops, and besides, it's worth it.

But you think my author crush ends with the book? No way. A good book is super-important, but someone only crosses into author crush territory if she is a super-extra-classy human being.  And Ms. Johnson? Well, she's among the best.

Her dedication to the writing community is so deep and intense that she's devoted hours of personal time to helping all of us on that fraught road from "I've always wanted to write a book" to "Holy schniekies, I have to edit it? and revise it?" to "Wait, agents aren't going to be clawing at my door to read this?" to "It might not sell?"

So, when us lowly unpubs panic, Ms. Johnson is right there.

First of all, she's written and released - 100% FREE - her amazing e-book, FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL, that holds your hand and walks, you, step by step, through the incredibly nerve-wracking process of putting your novel-baby out there in the world of agents and saying, "Read this? Love it? Please?" without looking like a total idiot.

This book is the one and only reason that I can officially call THE TRAVELERS "ready to query." If I want, I can send out a 100% polished query, synopsis, and full or partial manuscript with a professionally worded email without panicking, stressing, or going into a fetal position.

Go download it. Now. I'll wait.

She also has a blog with even more tips on writing, querying, and everything about the publishing world.

Second, and most mind-blowing amazingly, Ms. Johnson is one of the founders of WriteOnCon, an intense, jam-packed, infinitely useful and inspirational annual online writing conference that is - wait for it - 100% FREE.

Hundreds of other authors wait in the forums to help you with your query, pitch, synopsis, writing, all of it. It's the hub of the online writing community for four days every summer, and it's so supportive and amazing.

As if that weren't enough, WriteonCon also has (description from Ms. Johnson herself) :
Literary agents! Editors! [Published] Authors! Live chats and events. AND a Ninja Agent program where your query could earn the feedback from an anonymous pro!
(No, I'm not stalking the ninja agents. Not at all.)

Well, I think that about wraps it up. If you don't have an author crush on Elana Johnson now, too, then you haven't been paying attention.

 So, who else is in the club? Loved POSSESSION? Love Ms. Johnson just as much? Tell me all about it.


  1. I haven't read Possession, but it sounds awesome... another one for my ever growing list. great post!

  2. HOW have I not cyber-met you before?? We run in the same blog circles. We read the same books and think they are awesome for all the right reasons. We need to have a Bizarro day soon and write guest posts for each other's blogs.

  3. I have not read Possession yet. I don't know why! I definitely need to take a day off and do it. Elana is one of the nicest, most helpful, friendly people on the planet. I'm not even kidding. AND she lives in my town! How cool is that? I have absolutely no excuse for not having read it yet. Shame on me. I think I better get RIGHT on that. Especially if she is the Goddess of Voice.