Join my Mailing List for Free Books!

Friday, February 21, 2014

FAST FICTION Friday, Featuring Elana Johnson and ELEVATED!

As part of Fast Fiction Fridays, I'd like to start featuring some author friends and their new books. Rather than just hearing my point of view all the time, this will give you a chance to hear how other authors outline, or don't, and bring together their ideas for a final draft. I hope these interviews are as interesting for you as they are for me!

To kick it off, I'm welcoming Elana Johnson and featuring her new release, ELEVATED!


The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.


Praise for ELEVATED:
"ELEVATED will take you on an emotionally gripping journey through the highs and lows of first love."
~Carolee Dean, author of Take Me There and Forget Me Not

"Poignant, raw, and intense, ELEVATED is a novel that will grip your heart and linger in your mind long after you turn the last page."
~Stasia Ward Kehoe, author of Audition and The Sound of Letting Go

About Elana Johnson: Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for free download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist. School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Social Media Links:
League of Extraordinary Writers:

Interview with Elana:
1. How fast is the fastest you’ve ever written a first draft of a novel? Was this unusual or do you always draft in about the same time frame?
I wrote POSSESSION (my first published novel) in only 17 days. This is very fast, and I've never been able to replicate it. The reason is that now I don't have as much time devoted to just drafting. I've found that I usually start a book, get about half of it done, and get bored or stumped about what to do next. So I leave it -- sometimes for months. When I come back to it, I can usually finish it pretty quickly. So that's why it takes me "months" to write a book now.
2. Do you outline your work ahead of time or fly by the seat of your pants? Any tips or tricks about what makes this method word for you?
I am a pantser when I draft. I like to have the story feel organic and take the turns it wants to take. I am slow to start stories -- I usually stew on ideas and characters for several months (or even years!) before writing them. For example, with ELEVATED, I got the idea to write about people stuck in an elevator about 5 years ago. I didn't write the book until about 2 years ago. I just don't have a fast mind for developing, I guess.

After I finish drafting the novel, I outline it using Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" method for screenwriting. He has 15 beats that every successful movie (story) should have. I follow his guidelines and try to get my beats in the right place at the right time. This helps me find plot issues, character problems, and an idea of what needs to be revised.

3. When you first get a germ of an idea for a new story, do you usually start by developing the characters or the plot first?
Character. Always character. To me, stories are about people, not plots. So I need a compelling character that has Things They Need to Learn before I can write.

4. Are you an over-writer or an under-writer (meaning, after you write a first draft, do you usually spend time cutting lots of unnecessary sections of words, or filling in sections that are bare?)
I am an over-writer. I can't seem to write a first draft that's less than 80,000 words. And that count usually goes UP during revisions before it goes down!

5. What’s your favorite book on the craft of writing? What do you like best about this book?

I'll admit that I don't read very many of these... I did read all of Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" series, because it made sense to the structure part of storytelling. And I read a few sections in "Stein on Writing" by Sol Stein. His stuff on pacing really helped me. 

Thanks so much for visiting, Elana, and congratulations on ELEVATED! I can't wait to read it!

If you're an author who would like to be featured on Fast Fiction Friday, answer the above interview questions, and send them along with some information about your book to d(at)denisejaden(dot)com.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. She wrote Possession in 17 days! That's crazy. I'm a very slow drafter so quick drafting stories always have me fascinated. And oh, Elevated sounds perfect. I'm gonna check it out.

    1. I know, that does sound crazy, doesn't it! Hope you enjoy Elevated!