This week, I would like to introduce you to Ella James. She and I came across each other in the YA Sisterhood Group and she graciously agreed to talk about her novel, writing schedule, crit partners and a few other random things I threw in there.
Can you tell us about your books?
Sure! The first is called Stained. I actually wrote it a few years ago and submitted it to traditional print agents who liked it, bu,t at the time, said they didn’t think it was “quite distinct” enough. This was years before Kindle. Anyway, some of my friends recently convinced me to pull Stained back out and dust it off. They said they still wanted to find out what happened to Julia and Cayne. I did a little polishing, but it’s basically the same book it’s always been, and so far it’s been really well-received. It was even listed as one of the Top 10 Books of 2011 while receiving a Top Choice Award from Flamingnet.com (a big YA review site). Cayne, a main character in my book, was also chosen as one of the Top 10 Best Book Boyfriends of 2011.
At this point, you all knew I was going to ask for a summary. Those are a lot of accolades and I do love me the accolades.
After a fire destroys seventeen-year-old Julia’s home and kills her foster parents, she chases the half-demon responsible determined to avenge her family and discover why a host of celestial baddies want her dead. With Julia is enigmatic and handsome Cayne, who has his own score to settle with the half-demon, and who might be just as dangerous as the creature he and Julia hunt.
Stained is the first in a series, and the second book, Stolen, is coming out in February. It features two new (hot!) guys and a girl named Meredith who I guess is pretty hot as well. 😉 It’s set in three countries and has been tons of fun to write.
I have another book out; it’s called Before You Go. Since I blabbed so much about Stained, I’m only going to share the blurb for it, but I should say people seem to like it, too. Reader response has prompted me to release a sort-of sequel to BYG.
Anyway, here’s that blurb:
Anyway, here’s that blurb:
Margo Ford just became an heiress. Not the Paris Hilton kind. Her billions came after her father died and her insanely wealthy, insanely absent mother officially claimed her. Unfortunately, some terrorists noticed, and they hatched a plot to kidnap her. After a news report goes awry, reporting that Margo *has* been kidnapped, and her mother offers the humiliating sum of $500,000 for her return, Margo doesn’t want anything to do with her *#$!@ of an egg donor. Then she is sentenced to a summer of “protection” on her mother’s private island. Not the Oprah Winfrey kind. This one has an astronomical observatory filled with scientists, including Logan Greer, a super hot, super infuriating planet-hunter. Hiding out from kidnappers has never been so boring… until suddenly it isn’t.
I have a third book called Here coming out in the next few weeks. I think it’s my coolest project. As far as I know, there’s nothing else like it. Like the other two, it’s YA romance (this one is sci-fi), but its “hero” is VERY unusual. 😉 There’s a brief summary of it on my FB page, but I’m not saying much about it because I want it to be a surprise.
Do you have an author pg?
Not really… Not a legit one anyway. I have a blog. It’s ellajamesbooks.blogspot.com, and the name of it is Pages & Demons.
Obviously, since this blog reflects every one of my insecurities lol, I asked the one question that is usually rolling around my head.
How long does it take you to finish a book?
I write quickly but how long from start to finish just depends. Stained was my fastest book. I plotted it carefully and finished it in seven days. Before You Go is actually part one of a much bigger book, and that book took me three years to write!
(At this point, you know I was totally relieved. The rusty spoon I picked up at hearing 7 (freaking 7!) days got put back in it’s “special” drawer. LOL)
I wrote it (the larger book) four times with different main characters and slight plot differences each time. Stolen will take me a week or two- but with lots of gaps in between.
(And out comes the spoon again. LOL)
Now comes the question that’s been burning a whole in my tongue. What the hell is your writing schedule? Do you find it hard to juggle family and writing? Are you sure you’re from this planet because even Stephanie Meyer took longer then 7 days to write Twilight?
It’s varied over time. I’ve been writing fiction with the intent to publish since 2006, and since then my life has changed many times. At one point, I was writing in the mornings before going to a night job. For a long time, I worked in binges. Like, three or four 15-hour days then nothing for two or three days and repeat. Now, I have a baby, and I write several days per month. I don’t have a choice. They have to count. Juggling family is impossible. I am terrible at it. I can only hold one ball at a time, so whatever I’m doing, I’m DOING. I don’t feel it’s family vs. writing though. It’s more writing vs. bill-paying, house cleaning, socializing, putting on non-sweatpant outfits so on and so forth. Family and writing simple have to coexist because I’m unwilling to neglect either. Also, I don’t sleep much.
This made me love Ella so much more. I am write (HA) there with her. Family is a priority when it’s family time. Writing is a priority during writing time. Smushing them all together is so difficult, but you can’t neglect either. Find time. Make it count and don’t feel guilty. Writing is a job. Yes, it’s a fun job, but it comes with responsibilities just the same. Last night, I missed out on my father-in-laws birthday celebration so I could get Chapter Nine done. Know why? Because I set a goal for myself and I couldn’t blow it off. I wanted, no I needed the thrill of accomplishing it because I don’t get that to often. (I keep trying to make Goal my friend, but she’s not having it. Every one of my attempts to make her love me has ended in absolute failure. Stupid poopy head!)
Every author has their own personal feelings on crit partners. I myself go back and forth all the time. Thankfully, I have three wonderful ladies who push me to do and be better every day. They are talented and perfect authors in their own write. (HA. Yes, yes. I am doing that on purpose.) Still, that doesn’t mean I am oblivious to the very strong opinions circulating. It also doesn’t mean I don’t have days where I stop and think, HOLY CRAP! Can I really trust these people? Do I know them well enough? What would happen if they stole my hard work? I don’t want to be somebody’s prison snuggle bunny. Maybe my husband shouldn’t have bought me a gun… Oh. Sorry. I digress. LOL. That in mind Ella, what are your feelings on crit partners?
Eh. I’m afraid to say! So many writers I know love critique partners, but my feelings are that for me they’re worthless. I respect how helpful they are for other writers, but I honestly don’t understand it. Writing is very private for me, and I know how douchey that sounds.
(For the record, this once again made me love her more. Owning your feelings, no matter how Dbag, is ballsy. I like ballsy writers.)
But for me it just is. I’m both lone-wolfish and painfully competitive, so I don’t value group-oriented writing activities much. That said, I’ve worked as a journalist for about 10 years and work in a team constantly, but fiction is different.
So it’s safe to say you are not a crit partner then?
One of my relatives writes professionally, so we work together a bit, but the dynamic is different. My personal opinion is that having a critique partner would be terrible.
What do you do when you get the writing blues?
This has a tie-in to the last question. I write poetry, (intentionally unpublished because it’s WEIRD) and in college I decided to take a poetry class. I was going through this phase where I felt like I should know the names of things; I always wrote off the cuff and was feeling like I needed to be certified in some way. I attended this class for one day. Just putting my writing in a group context, even in my head, was so unpleasant that I wasn’t able to write poetry again for THREE YEARS. Seriously. I just had to wait it out and trust it would come again.
So the answer is, whether w/ books or poems, I simply wait. For books, I listen to music or read something I know I’ll love… Going to Books-A-Million almost always works because I see other writers’ books and it makes me mad. Why does James Patterson get his own section, you know? After that, I am writing again. I think one of the benefits to being an “older” writer, someone who’s been going at it longer, is you learn what works for you. So at this point, I’m hoping to put six or seven books out in 2012, and I feel reasonably sure I can do it.
I am reasonably sure you can too, Ella. Thanks so much for taking part in this interview. I valued everything you said because I’ve had more than one of these feelings myself. Though, sadly I haven’t been able to finish a book in 7 days. OMG. That makes me want to scream with envy. Okay, maybe it makes me want to throw an internal tantrum. Either way, kudos on all your accomplishments. And I mean that. I have no doubt you’ll have a book store section of your own one day. Here are the links to Ella’s wonderful books.
Though she doesn’t have a technical author page, I managed to find this for all who are curious.