Jen: Today we welcome Elana Johnson to Romancing the Book. Elana, will you share a short bio with us?
Elana: Elana’s work includes the young adult dystopian romance series Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster). Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available, as well as a young adult dystopian short story in the Possession world, Resist.
The beginning of a new adult fantasy series, ECHOES OF SILENCE, came out with Amazon Publishing on May 3, 2016. See all of her books here. Her newest release is UNTIL SUMMER ENDS, a contemporary romance novel from Cleis Press/Start Media.
Elana also writes inspirational western romances under the pen name Liz Isaacson. Check out all 5 books in the Amazon #1 Bestselling Three Rivers Ranch Romance series, and get ready for the rest of the series by the end of 2016.
Visit Elana at the following locations. Sign up for her newsletter to get a free read.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Elana: My newest release is UNTIL SUMMER ENDS, a contemporary romance set on the beaches of California. I love watching reality TV, and one of the shows I enjoy is The Next Food Truck Race. I thought, “What if one of my main characters owned a food truck?” But I wanted to write on the beach, so I made the truck a stationary taco stand. The idea for UNTIL SUMMER ENDS was born!
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Elana: I used to be a pantser, but as my production schedule became more demanding, and deadlines started to loom, I realized that I didn’t have six months to revise a messy draft. So I started outlining my novels using Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat” screenplay beats. It has literally saved me many times, because I’m able to draft the book much faster and get all the right pieces in the right place closer to the first time.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Elana: I’m not sure it’s a routine, per se, but when I’m drafting, I have a solid word count goal of 5,000 words per writing day. I don’t write everyday, so it’s harder to have a routine, but I do have a life too! I make myself sit down and get the words on the page – the outline helps – and often I leave myself a paragraph of notes for the next day so I can jump right in.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Elana: This might sound odd, but I don’t worry about it. I was in a class taught by Brandon Sanderson once, and he said he stopped carrying around a notebook to write down his ideas. He said that if an idea is a good one, it’ll stick in your mind. You don’t actually need to write it down. That rang true to me, and I stopped worrying about getting all the ideas that came to me down on paper before I forgot them. If they’re good enough, they stick around.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Elana: Honestly? I use people I know in real life! LOL! Names of dogs, horses, people, they all come from the people around me. I teach elementary school, so I have a huge list of potential names. Okay, I also choose names I think are really awesome. ☺
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Elana: I write western inspirationals under the pen name Liz Isaacson, and one of the reviews on my series said, “The only thing I don’t like is how long I have to wait between books.” I’m publishing those books every 11 weeks! I honestly don’t know how to put them out any faster. Ha!
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Elana: I have a college-age son, so there’s a fair amount of worrying going on. I have a daughter who dances competitively, so I’m constantly managing her schedule and getting her where she needs to go. I teach in the computer lab at an elementary school and run two after-school clubs in coding and robotics. My husband is a professional photographer, and when his assistant can’t come to the sessions, I hold the light stands and reflectors! I also serve on my community’s library board and my district’s technology steering committee. So I have a lot going on! And now you know why I can’t write everyday. ☺
Jen: What’s next for you?
Elana: I have about 25 irons in the fire! I am writing western inspirational romances as fast as possible. I am working on the third book in this Redwood Bay Romance series (UNTIL SUMMER ENDS is the first book – I’ve already turned in the second). I just had Amazon pick up an adult fantasy and I’ve submitted a YA time travel novel to them as well. So many irons!