Previous ‘Current Inspiration’

One of the most common questions Laura Ellen is asked is this:

Where do you get your inspiration?


 “Music is how I connect myself to my stories.”  — Laura Ellen

Although she finds it in many things, music is the most common source of inspiration for Laura Ellen. From the first few rumblings of an idea to the final copy edits, music transports Laura into the world she is creating. When she first begins a novel, she begins to compile songs as she hears them that inspire or evoke some aspect — like tone, mood, subject matter, or character personalities — of her work-in-progress. She doesn’t seek the songs out, they just seem to find her!  Once they do find her though, they are added to a playlist that becomes a daily part of her writing routine. The playlist doesn’t retire, however, when her novel is finished. Once a novel is complete and in revision stage, the playlist becomes a door that immediately transports her from real-life or whatever new project she has begun, right back into her novel’s world so she can make any revisions or edits that are needed.














My 2012 Blog Resolutions

Photo by Pedja Mi

In the words of Staind, a favorite band, It’s Been A While. I am slowly getting a handle on all this book writing stuff. The journey has been so fun, but I am finding it hard to keep up sometimes — especially now with the holidays barking at my heels. As a result, I have neglected my blog 🙁

I am hoping to get better at updating though, so I decided to make a few resolutions for 2012:

1) I will try to blog at least once a week 🙂
2) I have added a new version of an old feature from my early blog days – my current musical inspiration. I will post a video on my site everyday depicting what is inspiring me that day.
3) Beginning in January I will be showcasing authors and their debut books – frequency depending on release dates.

AND the big news:

4) I got a peek at my cover this week! I can’t share it yet but I can tell you I LOVE what the design team has come up with and will be having a big cover reveal very soon – so stay tuned!

So there you have it – my four blog resolutions for 2012! Now, the real question is: can I stick to that?

It’s Friday, Featuring . . .


by Gretchen McNeil

Published August 23rd 2011
Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons’ plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

The Sharp Time

by Mary O’Connell

Releases November 8, 2011

Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge.
Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at The Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds friendship and camaraderie with her coworker, a boy struggling with his own secrets.
Even as Sandinista sees the failures of those with power and authority, she’s offered the chance to survive through the redemptive power of friendship. Now she must choose between faith and forgiveness or violence and vengeance.

Wildefire (Wildefire #1)

by Karsten Knight

Released July, 2011
Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

It’s Friday! Featuring…

For my first blog back after a very long-lasting, not-so-fun eye infection, I have decided to start a regular Friday post featuring upcoming or just-released must-reads.

Here’s my first installment:

Pregnant Pause

by Han Nolan

Published September, 2011


Nobody gets away with telling Eleanor Crowe what to do. But as a pregnant sixteen-year-old, her options are limited: move to Kenya with her missionary parents or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids.

Despite her initial reluctance to help out, Elly is surprised that she actually enjoys working with the campers. But a tragedy on the very day her baby is born starts a series of events that overwhelms Elly with unexpected emotions and difficult choices. Somehow, she must turn her usual obstinance in a direction that can ensure a future for herself—and for the new life she has created.


Darker Still (Magic Most Foul #1)

by Leanna Renee Hieber

Releases November 8, 2011


The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart’s latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing…

Jonathan Denbury’s soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

The Future of Us

by Jay Asher, Carolyn Mackler

Releases November 21, 2011


It’s 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on–and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

Thank You and Congratulations!

Thank you to all who visited my redesigned website as I kicked off my first official month! Many of you left comments, tweeted, blogged, and followed me – thank you, thank you, thank you!

Yesterday was the last day to get your name in the hat for my Welcome Giveaway, so if you missed it— 🙁 — but don’t worry, there will be more in the future.

For those of you who did get your name in for the three books — we have three winners!

Drum Roll Please .. . . . . . . .  . ..

Congratulations to:

Joan, who won a copy of Libba Bray’s Going Bovine.

Andrea I, who won a copy of John Green’s Looking For Alaska

And Meri L. who won a copy of Laurie Halse Andersen’s Twisted

I will be emailing each of you to get mailing instructions soon.

Again, thank you to everyone who participated in my giveaway as I kicked off my first month as an official website. I look forward to many more giveaways, especially when my book comes out! Please keep stopping by 🙂

Back from SCBWI-LA

I just wanted to post a quick note to say: I’m back from the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles! Now, for those that don’t know, SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If you are a children’s author and/or artist, or aspiring to become one, the SCBWI is a must. There are chapters all over the world and the conferences are full of information and networking opportunities.

The LA conference I attended is the big one they hold every August. I heard a ton of awesome speakers: Gary Paulsen, Mary Pope Osborne, Libba Bray, Laurie Halse Anderson – just to name a few. I came away with tons of new friends, a wealth of inspiration and, yes, BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My one disappointment was that John Green had to cancel – he had to have emergency surgery – but he didn’t just send anyone in his place. He sent JUDY BLUME! So, while I was bummed not to see John Green, I totally forgave him 🙂

Don’t worry though. If you were hoping to win a John Green book in my current giveaway, you still can! And speaking of which – thank you to all who have visited my new website and left comments, signed up for my newsletter, or followed me on facebook and/or twitter – some of you have have even tweeted or blogged about the giveaway. THANK YOU!

For those who do not know: to celebrate my new website design, I am giving away three books! I am randomly selecting three people (click on the post WELCOME and GIVEAWAYS for details) to receive: John Green’s Looking For Alaska, Libba Bray’s Going Bovine, and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twisted.

The deadline is August 30 so get your name in now!


Photo by Roma Flowers

My website has officially launched! After months of melding creativity with technical mumbo-jumbo, my wonderful web designer, Stefanie Gilmour of S. Gilmour Design has given me the green light.  Woo-hoo!

To celebrate, I want to give something away! Ideally, it would be my book, BLIND SPOT, but since that isn’t due out until Fall 2012, I can’t. I can giveaway books by my favorite authors though! This week I head to the SCBWI-LA conference where three of my favorite authors just happen to be speaking: Laurie Halse Anderson, Libba Bray, and John Green. So on August 30th, three lucky people will win a book by one of these authors!

Entering the giveaway is easy. Just leave a comment at the end of this blog. Want to increase your chances of winning? You’ll get an additional entry for each of the following:

* ‘liking’ me on my Facebook fan page

* signing up for my newsletter

* ‘following’ me on twitter

* ‘following’ my RSS feed

That’s a total of five entries you can get! Want a bonus entry? Retweet or mention this giveaway on your blog or facebook page! Just be sure to list each of your extra entries in your comment.

So, poke around the site, click on the follow buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and my blog feed. Sign up for my newsletter. And if you want to take part in the giveaway, leave a comment. But hurry, the giveaway ends August 30th!

Thanks for visiting! I hope you make it a regular stop!



Putting the ‘creep’ in Creepy

Yup, I’m blogging on The Nightstand again and thought I’d share part of it here.

Photo by Brenda Mihalko

In his vlog post ‘Who’s This Guy? Why Does He Write Weird Junk?Daniel Marks mentioned how the king of horror, Stephen King, uses kids to put the ‘creep’ in creepy in his classic Salem’s Lot. King knows that when readers pick up a book with children in it, they often expect the children to be innocent and good and in need of protection from the evil that is afoot – readers don’t expect the children to be the evil that is afoot! That twist on the ordinary is what makes Salem’s Lot so creepy.

Writers like to do that. We either look for things that scare people and we amplify it, or we look for things that seem innocent and safe, and we flip them upside down and inside-out to make them CREEPY. With that in mind, I thought it’d be fun to share a few things that creep us authors out:

Maybe its because I was raised Catholic, but for me, anything about demons and devils and religious lore holds the creep factor. Like John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987). Alice Cooper’s character alone was enough to creep me out, but after watching it, I couldn’t sleep or look in a mirror for weeks!

Oh and sewer grates – those creep me out too. Forget walking over one; I have to walk around it, and I can’t even do that until I’ve peered down inside to make sure nothing’s lurking below . . . (thanks to It by, yup, Stephen King)

Want to hear what creeps the rest of The Nightstand authors out? Read the rest of the blog here.



The Lyrical Long and Short of How I Found My Agent

Today on The Nightstand I am blogging about how I found my agent, but I get asked the question so often, I thought I’d post the blog simultaneously here too.

I am represented by the awesomely brilliant agent-extraordinaire, Jill Corcoran of Herman Agency. My friend and fellow critique group member, author Jacqui Robbins, introduced me to Jill at the SCBWI LA conference in August 2009. At the time, BLIND SPOT was a chaotic mess; I was rewriting it in first person and destroying plot lines (see my post ‘Oh The Places I had To Go‘) and it was nowhere near ready for submission. So I tucked Jill’s name away in a list of agents I’d like to query and continued working.

Eight months later, when I felt BLIND SPOT was ready to be seen again by people other than my critique group, I queried two agents who had read all or part of my previous version and had asked to see it again. The first was no longer taking new clients. Bummer. The second, who I’d had a manuscript consultation with at the 2009 SCBWI LA conference, not only requested the full – she asked for an exclusive.

I was oober excited. I’d never been asked for an exclusive and thought this was a sign that I was on the right track. I tried to focus on a new project while I waited to hear from her. Six weeks later, she sent me a short and sweet email that basically said she loved my writing, enjoyed my novel, but just didn’t feel ‘connected’ enough to the manuscript.

I won’t lie. I was disappointed, but I knew from the bizillion agent talks I’d attended over the years, that not feeling a connection didn’t mean she thought it was crap. She just wasn’t in love with it. I pulled out my agent list and picked the three I wanted to query the most, one of which was Jill. As I prepared my queries, however, I hesitated with Jill’s. In her ‘what I look for’ description she said she liked lyrical writing and I was afraid that wasn’t me. Ellen Hopkins and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer – they were lyrical. Me? Not so much. So . . . I shelved Jill’s query.

I queried three other agents instead. All three requested partials. All three responded back, again with the ‘you are a talented writer but I am just not compelled enough to offer representation.’

That nay-sayer who sits on my shoulder began whispering that maybe my novel sucked, maybe it wasn’t ready after all. I had sent in the first chapter for a manuscript consultation at the 2010 SCBWI LA conference – so I told myself I wouldn’t query anyone else until after my consultation. I also decided that if I saw Jill again while in LA, I would talk to her, kind of do a mini-pitch, to see if BLIND SPOT might interest her despite its non-lyrical-ness.

I didn’t see Jill. However, I did have an awesome consultation. The agent I met with only talked about the positives in BLIND SPOT; she asked me about its history, who had seen it, etc. She asked me what else I wrote; she basically interviewed me, and then asked me to send her the full. I was ecstatic. THIS WAS IT! Woo-hoo! I went home, frantically went over my novel one last time, and then, pressed send.

A few weeks later, I got the very long, very disappointing rejection. She and her assistant had read it, and although there was a lot they loved about it, there were things they just didn’t feel worked (which she went into detail about) and, therefore, it was a no. Not a ‘fix this and send it back’. Just a no.

I was devastated. I had been so sure that this was it. I felt crushed and deflated. I popped off an email to my critique buds. They all responded with sympathy and support – then helped me wade through what I thought were all negatives, to discover the truth in that long rejection. They helped me see what I needed to fix.

Then Jacqui said, “have you queried Jill yet? I really think she would like this.”
No, I hadn’t, I thought. But . . what the heck? Forget lyrical! I was going to query Jill right now! Well, as soon as I fixed the manuscript.

I powered through the stuff that the other agent had questioned, pulled up the query I had written Jill before but had shelved, and sent it off with my first ten pages. It was September 16th, 2010 at 2:00 pm.
27 minutes later I received an email from Jill requesting the full.

Woo-hoo, I said. Then stopped. I wasn’t getting my hopes up this time. And even though she said she didn’t want an exclusive because the industry is tough enough for writers these days, I gave her one. Because, who was I kidding? She was going to hate it anyway and then I’d know this novel was just drivel.

October 25th, I found an email from Jill in my inbox, sent at 3:04 am (she’s west coast, so that was only midnight for her!): “I am loving BLIND SPOT. 100 pages to go . . .”

Again, I said “woo-hoo!” And again I stopped myself; I’d heard that before.

Same day, 3:21 pm, Jill emailed me: “It is a bit long…..hopefully, you haven’t read it for awhile. perhaps you can see if there are any places to cut. I’ll be back to you soon.”
3:31 pm, she added: “Man, I’m loving this!”

Hmmm. What was going on here? Did I dare allow myself to hope? I thought about what she said and wanted her to know that I was willing to work at it.
4:07 pm, I responded, saying I had no problem cutting.

4:11 pm, she emailed back: “but there is so much I love, I can’t find a thing i want out.” Then she listed specifics on a few things maybe I could change . . .

I admit it. I was over-the-top excited now.
4:44 pm: I told her I was going over the specific pages she mentioned, looking at what she had pointed out, seeing what I could cut . . .

4:46 pm she responded: “do that thru the whole ms….and by the way, I MUST REP THIS! Okay, 24 more pages to go….”

LOVE the way she just slipped that “I must rep this” between ‘go through your novel’ and ‘I am still reading it’, don’t you? 🙂

I signed with her the beginning of November, and did two revisions for her before she started submitting BLIND SPOT in mid-January. By mid-March she’d found the right editor for me – the equally brilliant and awesome editor-extraordinaire, Karen Grove of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Oh and that whole thing about lyrical writing? Turns out, I am a lyrical writer. Jill was referring to writing with rhythm and assonance, simile and metaphor; writing that is poetic but not necessarily poetry. 🙂