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Meet Golden Heart Finalist Elle Mason!

Today we’re delighted to welcome another Dragonfly, Elle Mason, a Finalist in the brand-new Erotic Romance category with SORTING OUT THE KINKS. (As Elle says, the category is “probably obvious by the title alone!”)

Elle is a wife, mom of a preschooler and terrier, social worker, the person people seek for advice when visiting The Mouse, wannabe photographer, and a jokester. She’s lived in the West, Northeast, and has called South Florida home for the past ten years. In her relatively short history as a writer, she’s learned she has a thing for gerunds, British spelling of words (though American), and that she loves to write steamy sex scenes.

While we were talking about the Dragonflies, Elle sent me a world map showing where the 2015 Finalists live—across three continents!—and (mostly because I love anything that suggest Romance World Domination) I wanted to share it with all of you:

DragonfliesWorldMap 

Now here’s a blurb for SORTING OUT THE KINKS:

Maddie Harper is NOT a submissive. Or at least that’s the lie she’s been telling herself since her twenties, back when a police raid at a play party highlighted the risks of indulging in her dark and exhibitionist fantasies. But vanilla is proving to be an unsatisfying flavor.

After a chance reunion with Andrew, a Dominant from her old BDSM scene, Maddie is shaken by something she hasn’t felt for over a decade—desire. He’s still the gentleman and bad boy she remembers, a man whose love of bondage once called to her like no other. She wonders if their meeting is a coincidence or wake-up call. Eager to experience the uninhibited relationship she’s always craved, she’s smitten when Andrew asks her out despite his insistence on dating without power roles. He requires they build trust to ensure she’s ready. After romantic—but chaste—dates, she hungers for more than kissing. She wants to kneel and serve. He unleashes his dominant side and ensnares more than her body with rope; he captures her heart.

But when their playtime at a fetish event threatens her privacy, resurrecting old fears, it’ll take more than what she feels for Andrew to keep from running again. She’ll have to make peace with the one person out to sabotage their relationship—herself.

 **Fans self!!** Smoking hot stuff, Elle!! Fabulous blurb!! (Is it just me, or are the Dragonflies unusually talented at blurbing???)

 Okay, everybody—grab a flute of virtual champagne and join Elle and me for a few questions. One lucky commenter will win a $15 Starbucks gift card at the end of the day!

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EM HeadshotTell us a little about writing your Golden Heart finaling book. How did it come into being?

Several of my friends had turned the “big 40” before me and had committed to checking off bucket list items to mark their birthdays. In January of ‘14, I was commuting to work on I-95 and thinking about how I wanted to do something similar for my milestone birthday later in the year. I didn’t feel the call to run a marathon or take music lessons like them. It suddenly hit me—I was going to write my first novel.

A plot bunny jumped into my head while sitting in traffic that morning, proving to me this goal was mean to be. By the time I turned into my work’s parking lot, I had a vision of my heroine and hero and their meeting. Don’t tell the boss, but I started an outline that very morning and by noon had five pages of a detailed plot. I sent it to my good friend and author, Tara Sue Me, for her thoughts. She read through my notes and pinged me back a message, “Write all the words! Do it!” That morning, I learned I’m more a plotter than pantser.

As encouragement, Tara sent me a link to watch Kristan Higgins luncheon speech from RWA Nationals 2013. (https://www.rwa.org/p/bl/et/blogid=20&blogaid=512) This speech was so motivating for a new author like me, and I watched it several times over the course of the nine months it took to complete my novel. Now that I’ve completed my first novel, I understand Kristan’s words so much more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up at 3am with my characters screaming dialog at me. I’ve also pillow talked with my hero and made out with my hand while writing a kiss. (If Kristan can do it, so can I!)

The blurb above gives you a general gist of my book. It’s essentially about coming out kinky and second chances: both in love and in restarting one’s life. My heroine’s suppressed an important aspect of her sexuality for many years and a chance meeting with a former crush reignites all those long held desires. The book follows her journey in shedding guilt and shame and opening her heart to the type of relationship she’s needed all along. My greatest desire in writing about a BDSM relationship was to strive for realism. When those who’ve read my manuscript comment about how they could easily imagine my characters as a real couple, it brings a huge smile to my face.

-Wow!! Finishing your first book and then finaling in the Golden Heart with it! (And, oh, my goodness! That Kristan Higgins speech!! I went back and watched it again and was bawling like a baby!) Had you done creative writing before this book?

Except for some rhyming poems I wrote in a diary back in 4th grade, I’ve had little experience when it comes to creative writing. As a social worker, my writing’s as unsexy as you can get unless reports featuring pie charts and outcome measures revs your engine. (I won’t judge.)

Back in 2008, I became enchanted by the Twilight saga, but the naughty side of me was terribly disappointment by how the reader was left having to imagine what really went down on Isle Esme. A search online introduced me to the world of fan fiction. There, I found authors who filled in those gaps in Twilight, giving me much (MUCH!) more than the chaste kisses between Bella and Edward seen in the series. I grew very close to several authors in that fandom and started to beta read.

Naturally, I decided to take a stab at writing fanfiction (and no, I am not sharing my works here—haha) and enjoyed it. I look back now at my work and cringe. Fortunately, I’ve vastly improved in my ‘show, no telling’ and now have a better understanding of cliche in romance. But I can also see that even then I had the knack for painting the picture of a scene and illustrating the exciting and nerve-wracking emotions of a blossoming relationship. I stopped writing when I became a mom a few years ago and didn’t pick it up again until last year.

As I said earlier, Sorting Out the Kinks is my first novel. I’ve started a follow up, featuring my heroine’s good friend. She was such a huge support to my heroine that it’s time she find her true love and experience her happily ever after!

In her speech, Kristan Higgins said she she’d starting writing romance just six years earlier….and look where she is now. You’re moving fast, too. Did you have any inkling that Golden Heart final was going to happen?

I didn’t submit my entry to RWA with the thought I’d actually become a Golden Heart finalist. People might roll their eyes at that one, but it’s the truth. As a new author, I used the contest as a finish line of sorts, an excuse to whip my manuscript in shape. I had been editing it since September, reading it over and over and killing gerunds, tellings instead of showings, and my overuse of the word “just.” With no publisher giving me pressure to finish, the mid-January contest deadline became mine as well.

So when the call came just after 8AM on March 26th, I nearly fell out of my chair. I’d just arrived at my office and, fortunately, no one else was there to witness my crazed appearance. I feel sorry for Shirley Jump from the RWA Board of Directors. She had to deal with me constantly asking her, “Are you kidding?” over and over. It was surreal and completely unexpected. I think I was one of the first finalists to post on your amazing blog on announcement day. Everyone made me feel so welcome and helped it become real.

Of course, the reality of it all cemented itself as I joined the loop for my finalist class. It has been truly wonderful getting to know my 45 sisters (Dragonflies). From day one, we’ve been sharing our personal stories (the good and the challenging) and everyone has been supportive no matter where we are in our writing journey.

Golden Heart sisters are the BEST!!! (As Kristan Higgins also said in her speech, RWA is founded on friendships.) Speaking of friendships that support our writing, do you have a CP or beta readers or a writing critique group? If so, how do you work together?

I would not be participating on your blog today as a Golden Heart finalist if not for my CP, Tara Sue Me (hyperlink: http://tarasueme.com/ ). I’ve been her crit partner for the past few years, and it’s been the best learning experience I could ask for. While I can be a bit Charles Dickens’-like in my descriptions of actions/scenes, Tara is so succinct, yet her well chosen words pack so much emotion. She can finish a novel in just a few months and her first draft looks like the final draft of my dreams.

Tara’s been my rock ever since that day on I-95 and our critiquing became a partnership as I now had (very rough) first draft words to send her way. She encouraged me to write each day and talked me off the ledge when I felt like pressing the delete button on my entire document. As we both write in the same genre (erotic romance featuring BDSM), we have fun swapping ideas for steamy scenes. We work together as we go, writing words and dropping them in a shared Google document. Then we discuss what we love and what could use a boost as well as laugh over any funny typos (usually mine).

Are you going to Nationals (and have you ever been before)? What are you looking forward to?

Ever since I got that exciting call that I was a finalist, I knew I had to find my way up to NYC. I’ll be at Nationals for the first time. In fact, this will be my first writing conference ever! It will be refreshing to attend a conference that’s not work related and features workshops that are light and fun.

If you hear a loud scream at the Marriott that’ll probably be me when I meet my CP for the first time in person. And the giggles and obnoxious noises will continue as I seek out my fellow Dragonflies. But I have a feeling I won’t be the only person acting that way.

Along with meeting and making new friends, I’m looking forward to the workshops, speeches, and the opportunities that might arise attending as a Golden Heart finalist. I look forward to the Award Ceremony. Even though I tease my fellow erotic romance finalists (Hi, Caroline and Michele!) that we have a 33% chance of winning as our genre has the lowest number of finalists, I’m more than satisfied with just being among such an esteemed bunch. Also, I’m hoping I can persuade Bono to attend the ceremony with me as I’ll be seeing U2 a few nights earlier at Madison Square Garden.

LOL! Bono would have a fabulous time!! One last question for you: what advice can you offer other new writers aspiring to write and finish their first manuscript?

Watch that Kristan Higgins video—over and over again. Surround yourself with others in the same boat as you by joining groups on goodreads (hyperlink: https://www.goodreads.com/) and message boards sites like Absolute Write Water Cooler (hyperlink: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/ ) and the Romance Divas Forum (hyperlink: http://forums.romancedivas.com/ ). If you don’t have a Crit Partner, those kinds of sites can be a great way to meet others and develop writing relationships. They also have boards/groups where others are seeking beta readers. A great way to hone your skills is by reading other’s words and learning what works and what doesn’t. Plus, when you help others, you will find you easily can get help in return. A win-win situation. These sites will also be a great resource when it comes time to writing your first query and learning about the publishing industry.

I also suggest taking classes to improve your craft. I took some wonderful online classes on Savvy Authors (hyperlink: http://ce.savvyauthors.com/) that were taught by fellow authors that helped me strengthen my plot and write more charged love scenes. I still take classes because I’m like a sponge soaking up any tidbits and advice. I’m currently taking some online classes via my online RWA chapter, Passionate Ink (hyperlink: http://www.passionateink.org/), and I know RWA offers courses as well.

As far as writing, as others say countless times, write every day even if it’s all crap. There were times I just wrote whatever came to mind, and while most of it was gibberish, sometimes it led me down a good path. With editing, I felt like I had to relearn some of the basic concepts I was taught in AP English all those years ago. Reading aloud can make all the difference. I discovered when I read in a faux accent (I’m a little weird), I caught things I had missed. I also acted out some of the dialog, letting my terrier play the role as hero. Don’t worry, I didn’t kiss him.

Thanks for being with us, Elle!!

Now Elle has a question for all of you. One lucky commenter will win a $15 Starbucks gift card!!

Do you have any advice for those working on their second book? Did you find it easier to write? How do you find inspiration to stay fresh? (in writing, not hygiene…haha).

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Connect with Elle at:

Blog: http://authorellemason.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorElleMason

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorellemason

90 responses to “Meet Golden Heart Finalist Elle Mason!”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Elle! It’s so great to have you here today, and to be reminded of that wonderful, funny, heartbreaking speech by Kristan Higgins!

    I’m not sure what advice I have for second books (or third books, or fourth books) except to say that I didn’t learn until my second that I really, truly need to set up deep conflict before I even think about starting writing. That’s got to be the core around which everything else is built. It needs to be deep and structural, but once you have it, all the little stuff falls into place.

    Go, you!!! Have fun today!

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    • Elle Mason says:

      Thanks, Elisa. Such an honor to be featured on the Ruby blog today. Thank to you and your sisters for having me. Glad I could remind you about Kristan’s speech. I am guessing you got to hear it in person? I can’t wait to thank her at Nationals. Hoping to meet you there, too!

      Great advice about conflict. It’s definitely what I am trying to plot out at this point.

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  2. Seana Kelly says:

    Great interview, Elle! I agree with your advice. Never stop learning how to improve your writing. I think the second book can sometimes be easier than the first because you know you can write a book. The focus changes from ‘will I ever be able to do this’ to ‘how do I do this better?’
    Elle, I’m looking forward to reading your book!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Nice way to look at it, Seana. You know you CAN do it, and that makes all the difference in the world!

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    • Elle Mason says:

      So true, Seanna. I like how you think. I think editing will be easier the next time around but then again, what do I know? haha See you next month! 🙂

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  3. Carrie Padgett says:

    Great post, Elle! Welcome to the GH sisterhood. It’s the best!
    I think you nailed it with write every day. That’s the best advice for book 2. Just keep swimming … er, writing. 😉

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    • Elle Mason says:

      “Just keep swimming.” Okay, I’ll be like Dory so long as I don’t forget everything two minutes later! hehe. Thanks for stopping by today.

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  4. Hi Elle, congratulations on your Golden Heart nominaton, and good luck. I have just finished and filed my second novel, The Milliner’s Secret, and confess it was hard because I had less than a year in which to write it. It’s a big book and there were sleepless nights. My best advice is to acknowledge that it will be tough; at novel 2, you still don’t fully trust the process and that little voice says all the time that you can’t pull off another one. You can, and will. Plough through it and leave perfection to the editing stage.

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    • Elle Mason says:

      Thanks, Natalie. First off, congrats on finishing your second book. It must feel so good to have that past you. Now it’s time for the third! I hear you about the second book not necessarily being easier. I am all for just getting words out there. They can always be cleaned up. As my CP would always remind me, you can’t clean up what you don’t have. 🙂

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  5. Jen Gilroy says:

    Hi Elle,

    So happy to be sharing the Golden Heart experience with you. You were the first Dragonfly sister with whom I connected, virtually, on that memorable March day.

    As for the second book, in some ways I found it easier to write because I’d already reached ‘the end’ once so knew I could do it again. In other ways, though, it was harder because I knew more about the writing process, and realised how much I still had to learn – especially about setting up a strong conflict and character goals and motivations at the start.

    I find inspiration for my writing everywhere, but for those times when I’m stuck, I turn to the file folder where I keep pictures and magazine articles which have ‘spoken’ to me, newspaper clippings I found interesting, and song lyrics or snippets of conversation I’ve overhead.

    Can’t wait to meet you in person in New York.

    2+
    • Elle Mason says:

      I can’t wait to meet you as well, Jen. Less than six weeks away!

      I so hear you about having an inspiration board. I set up a whole Google slide show (sound familiar? haha) of pictures of my characters. Of course, I mostly just stared at the inspiration for my hero. For me, it was Simon Clark, Brit model. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/25332816627524096/ (yum!) I would see if he would talk to me and tell me where to go next. Hey, if it works, it works!

      1+
      • Jen Gilroy says:

        I tried to ‘like’ your reply, Elle, but got the ‘thumbs down’ instead. I’m sure you know it’s something that’s gone wrong with the technology and not me!

        1+
        • Elle Mason says:

          I think when we click on it, it’s a thumbs up. I don’t think there is an option to do a thumbs down. It just means you’ve already thumbs up’d, so you can’t do it again.

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  6. Nancy Coiner says:

    You’re on track to becoming as inspirational as Kristan Higgans yourself! Great interview, wonderful advice. Can’t wait to meet in NYC.

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    • Elle Mason says:

      Aw, thanks, Nancy. I doubt I will ever be as inspirational as her though. hehe. So looking forward to meeting you and partying it up with our Dragonflies and GH sisters from other classes!

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  7. Mia J. Sosa says:

    Great interview, Elle! It’s wonderful to see how instrumental your CP’s encouragement has been to your journey, and I’m so excited that you’ll get to meet her for the first time at Nationals. Can’t wait to one-click that book and recommend it to my friends. See you in New York.

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    • Elle Mason says:

      Thanks, Mia. Where would we be without our CPs and beta readers? I was a ball of nerves until I started hearing back from my beta readers. They gave me hope that I was writing something half decent and helped me improve as well.

      “See you real soon!”….as the Mouse says. 😉

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  8. Terrific interview, Elle. You have so much energy and enthusiasm it’s contagious. Can’t wait to meet you in New York!

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    • Elle Mason says:

      Thanks, Jeanne! The feeling is mutual. So excited to party it up with our Dragonflies. Thanks for stopping in today. 🙂

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  9. Caroline says:

    Squee! It’s my erotic category sister, Elle! I’m SO excited to see you here!! I can’t wait to meet you in NY! I’m really starting to think someone needs to warn NY that we’re on our way. 🙂

    Folks, let me tell you, you’re going to want to read this story. The lady has a way of crafting very real characters. I’m not saying that because we both have a love of cars in our books. Wink wink…

    If you grabbed the brass ring on your first try out, you’re going to do some amazing things in your writing career! Way to go, Elle!! I’m so excited for you!

    2+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Hey, it’s my other 33.333333%!!! Erotic Romance for the win! Isn’t it an honor (along with Michele) being the first nominees in this category for the GH? It makes it even more special.

      Thanks for the kind words. Here’s to hot love scenes in cars and indulging in fantasies while sorting things out. 😉

      I can’t wait for NYC. Can the Big Apple handle us? I doubt it.

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      • Caroline says:

        Rats, the system is still wonky; I hit thumbs up and got a thumbs down.

        Yeah, I have a feeling come August NYers will be saying, “Yeah, all that snow we got last winter? Fuhgeddabowdit. That was nothin’ compared to when that crowd from RWA moved in for a week. And those three erotic girls sure were trouble! Geez!” 😀

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        • Elisa Beatty says:

          I think the thumbs-down reads as thumbs-up to other people…at least I’m only seeing it where I clicked the button.

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          • Caroline says:

            Elisa, I clicked it again on your reply and got a thumbs down. How does it look on your end? (Mercury gets out of retrograde soon, thank goodness.) 🙂

            1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      I don’t think we can do a thumbs down on this site. I think it’s just reminding us we’ve already clicked the button (to thumbs up) and can’t do it again.

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  10. What a great blog post, Elle – you are one funny lady!

    Love how you set out to write SORTING OUT THE KINKS to mark your 40th birthday – and did it – and now you’re a 2015 GH finalist! (I think you’re going to be proof that life truly begins at 40!)

    As far as second book advice … go with the flow. The writing process that worked for book #1 might not work for book #2, so be open to trying something new. And above all else, protect the work! Jennifer Crusie’s wise words – say no to projects that will adversely affect your writing time, or the quality of your work.

    Can’t wait to meet you in NYC, my fellow Dragonfly sister!

    3+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Thanks, Jennifer and great advice. I will need to go with the flow. Especially since my work commute changed and I no longer am stuck in traffic on I-95 to give me extra time for plotting. That’s a good and bad thing. That interstate is getting thanked in my Acknowledgements!

      And yes, life begins at 40! Finishing my novel and having this GH experience has been a great way to start this next chapter of my life.

      See you next month! Can’t wait.

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  11. Kimberly says:

    Great post, Elle! And I too may or may not have spent the odd moment at work emailing myself a sudden idea for plot 😉
    First off, I’m so impressed your first book is so good! Mine was mostly an attempt to see if I could actually finish a whole novel. Plot shmot. I kind of panicked after that when I went to write my second one because I was afraid somehow, I was the only person ever to have only ONE story inside.
    (It’s not true.)
    So my advice would be to just let go of the pressure you’ll be tempted to put on yourself, and let yourself write. I’m with you, I need a plot beforehand, but then just take it a scene at a time. even now if I’m not careful I’ll start to worry about word count, but it always works out in the end.
    Also, turn off your internal editor. Let the gerunds live for now 🙂 Nothing kills story flow like trying to self edit as you write. my favorite are the -ings but I let them fly on draft one.
    Looking forward to meeting you!

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    • Elle Mason says:

      Hah, Kimberly. I won’t tell your boss if you won’t tell mine. Plus, I will say, all my re-education in writing last year has also made me a stronger writing in my work life, as unsexy as that writing may be.

      Great advice about pressure. I do feel it, but I try not to dwell. I am trying to keep my writing self as pressure-free as possible. It’s something I want to enjoy. (Easier said than done!)

      Looking forward to meeting you as well! Soon!

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  12. Tracy P says:

    Loved reading this Elle and look forward to meeting you in NY. I’ll forgive you for all the squealing I’m expecting. lol

    As for the second books – I think it comes easier. Well, maybe the third. My real first one needs a total do-over. The second one, first in my Bad Karma series, was still a learning experience (Showing vs. telling, POV, GMC, active vs passive, etc) and took a long time to write, revise, learn more and revise again and again. I got tired of working on it and started the second and submitted it to the Golden Pen just to see if I was learning and improving. Was shocked when it made the finals.

    I think you keep learning way beyond just the first book. You can keep it fresh by fleshing out your characters so each is unique and not a recycled version of another. Throw in plot twists to keep things from being too predictable even if you have similar story lines.

    1+
  13. Elle Mason says:

    So true, Tracy. I can see that keeping it fresh can be a challenge, but that goes back to the “keep learning” bit.

    I’ll be squealing over meeting you, too!

    0
  14. Elle, I’m so honored and thrilled that the speech gave you a boost! Good luck with your writing, and I hope to meet you in NYC! xox Kristan

    5+
  15. Tara Sue Me says:

    Elle! Girl!

    I’m so stinkin’ proud of you! You truly are an inspiration and I know you probably get tired of hearing me say it, but I couldn’t do this without you! I hope NYC is ready for us!

    Second book? Well, for me there’s always that voice in the back of my head that says, “What if you can’t do it again? What if you’ve already done all you can do?” That’s the voice you have to squash, because you CAN do it and the fact that you’ve done it before is proof.

    Keeping it fresh for me is easier once I understand my characters because they’re all so very different. I just crawl into their head and hang out and listen. That’s the key – listening to your characters. Trust them. They won’t let you down.

    XOXOXO

    3+
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Welcome, Tara!! So awesome that you gave Elle the “WRITE ALL THE WORDS!!” message!!!

      CPs are worth seventeen times their weight in gold.

      1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Oh, Tara. Huge hugs.

      I know first hand what you mean about trusting your characters where they want you to take them. I know you’ve had things planned for your couples and they live to throw curve balls your way. Sometimes you tell me what they are telling you to do and it seems odd. But then, somehow it makes perfect sense and you can’t imagine it any other way. It’s so much fun to be your CP and see this all go down.

      You get hugged…hard… in less than 6 weeks!

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  16. Tara Sheets says:

    Great post, Elle! I laughed when you said you sometimes read out loud in a different accent, in order to catch things you normally wouldn’t. That is genius! I am going to try it. 🙂 As for writing the second book, I think I agree with what others have said. I learned the hard way (from my first book) that it really pays to have the conflict and character motivations nailed down BEFORE you start the first draft. When I did this for my second book, it strangely made writing the first draft harder (I don’t know why– maybe because it’s easier to just meander here and there?) but the end product of my first draft was so much cleaner. Thanks for the fun post! I can’t wait to meet all my Dragonfly sisters next month. Squee!

    2+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Tara, great point about having conflict ironed out before writing. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending how one looks at it), I am not pressed for time right now. So I’m waiting for inspiration to strike. Hoping it comes into my head so clearly as it did last time.

      And yes, definitely try the accent approach. I did some sections in a Southern accent, and some in a cockney. It was bizarre how helpful it ended up being for an edit pass through!

      0
  17. Tamara Hogan says:

    Elle, congratulations on your GH final! It’s a ride like no other. The story sounds awesome. Also awesome? Seeing U2 at the Garden. They’re not coming to Minneapolis on this tour, and I’m so bummed.

    As someone who had a similar experience – I finaled in the GH with my first manuscript – there is one piece of advice I’d like to offer: Don’t feel like this is your only window of opportunity to query and sell. Really, there’s no rush.

    In 2009, I sold my GH finalist in a three book deal without having started writing books two and three. From the day I signed my publishing contract, I was writing to a book a year deadline…which is S-L-O-W from most people’s perspectives, but, as I discovered, fast from mine. 😉 In hindsight, if I had my GH experience to do all over again, I think I would have waited to query, wouldn’t have even tried to sell, until after I had a few more finished manuscripts under my belt.

    But that’s me.

    My point is, don’t let all the hoopla around the GH final, and observing what other Dragonflies might be doing with their books, pressure you into querying, or taking any career step, before you’re ready. (It can be so easy to fall into that comparison trap.) Think about what YOU want from your writing beyond this book. Are you publication-minded? If so, what does “ready” look like to you? What do you want to accomplish? When? With which books? What do you want to learn between then and now? Rest assured…if your stories are good, someone will buy them. Someone will publish them.

    When you’re ready.

    3+
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I absolutely second what Tammy says about not rushing!!!

      I finaled with my first book, and won the second time it finaled. Then I finaled and won with my second book. I felt a LOT of pressure to submit those books for publication, but I knew from watching others who sold to traditional publishers that the demand to churn out more books FAST is relentless, and I have a very demanding day job and two kids with special needs. I knew there was no way I could sign a contract that would require me to bang out books quickly. (I was also unsure where things were going to go in the publishing world with the rapid rise of self publishing.)

      So I hung back. Started new books. Revised the first ones. Watched the unbelievable changes in the industry.

      I’m only just now about to put out my first book…under a different pen name so I can test the self-pub waters.

      I’ve learned so much about writing while I was biding my time, and I’m really glad I waited. I think I would have burned myself out fast if I’d tried to move faster.

      Your mileage may vary, of course….but just remember there’s no one “right” way to do this.

      1+
      • Elle Mason says:

        So happy (and relieved) to see someone echo Tamara’s points. It’s hard not to compare, but then I remember, people have been involved in this longer than I have. I still feel so new, so it feels better to take the slow approach.

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    • Elle Mason says:

      Tamara

      First…U2. I am a huge fan. I was heartbroken when they announced no dates in FL this leg of the tour. Just by chance, I decided to see if they were playing while we are at Nationals. I am NEVER lucky in that way. Stars must have aligned because same dates and blocks from Times Sq. You should go, too! Still seats available. (Tweet me on twitter…we can chat!)

      I so appreciate your words about not feeling the pressure and waiting. I am taking a “whatever will be, will be” approach at this time. I work FT and have a young child, so I can’t churn out books super fast. Though some have told me that the more you write, the faster the next books seems to come. Not sure if that will be the case for me. But I agree with what you say and think if my time is meant to come, it will come. I am just enjoying every moment of this experience and am eager for those workshops at Nationals. 🙂

      1+
  18. I enjoyed your post, Elle! It was neat to hear how your story came about. Some of my best ideas come to me while I’m driving, too. As for 2nd book advice, while writing that first draft, try to silence your inner critic and write, write, write. Now if I could learn to take my own advice. 🙂 Looking forward to meeting you in NY, my fellow Dragonfly sister.

    2+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Yay for commuting and plotting! If only I lived in a place with a subway. I could plot away without having to worry about hitting another car.

      I can’t wait to meet you soon, too. It will be here before we know it.

      0
  19. Great post, Elle. Love the map! My second book THE MEMORY OF YOU http://amzn.to/IrABbo was the book of my heart, so it wrote itself. I haven’t published my first book yet, but I will someday. It’s a great story, but it needs a serious rewrite.

    I’m not attending the conference this summer, but I WILL be at the TGN retreat. I hope to meet you there.

    Good luck with your book and in the GH!

    2+
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I’m still waiting for a book that will write itself…sigh.

      0
    • Elle Mason says:

      Laurie, what a bummer. I won’t be able to make it to the TGN retreat. When I booked my plane ticket, I wasn’t aware of TGN or the retreat. So sadly, I don’t get in until the event is nearly over. Maybe I can catch you in the lobby!

      A book that wrote itself, eh? Must be awesome to sit in front of a computer screen and just watch the words fly out onto the keyboard. I had that with a few scenes in my manuscript where the words rushed out but certainly not the whole book. Hope I can experience that one day!

      0
  20. Elle, great post! How fantastic that your first book is a Golden Heart finalist. My only advice for writing a second book is to try to write every day. Even if it’s only a sentence.

    1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Thanks, Renee! I think the best thing about being a finalist is being surrounded by all this experience. Like I said, this sponge is soaking it all up!

      Good point about writing. If you do a little each day, eventually it adds up!

      0
  21. Welcome, Elle, and congratulations!! The book sounds fabulous. I loved this line of the blurb:

    “But vanilla is proving to be an unsatisfying flavor.”

    LOL. Love it. And I love hearing how your friend supported you, encouraging you to write the book. Awesome. 😀

    2+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Funny, that line of the blurb was the first thing that came to me when trying to write it. I changed so much of the blurb, but that line always remained. hehe

      Yes, I am super thankful for Tara. I really think it helped seeing someone craft novels in such an intimate way (as in she’d finish a couple thousand words and send off to me for review) so I could learn about the construction of novels. Of course, it helped me with editing and punctuation, too!

      0
  22. PrisAKiss says:

    Elle,

    Your ability to set a goal, get to work and achieve it is inspiring!! Let me tell you, I’ve only run a half-marathon, but I know enough people who have run a full to know that writing a novel is much much harder! 🙂

    It’s awesome how you and your CP have supported each other. It’ll be super fun for you two to meet up in NYC.

    And I can’t wait for the Dragonflies to get together, too! It’s been incredible sharing this GH experience with you.

    Here’s to much success and love for all of us!

    As for the second book question… I always deal with self-doubt. Wondering if I’ll be able to “do it again” when I start on my next novel. The most important thing I’d say is to focus on your characters, or whatever it is that excites you about the story. Wipe out any self-doubt talk. Think about the joy of putting words on the page. Of getting to “The End” and knowing you’ve done the best you could for your story and characters.

    Remember the excitement and satisfaction of finishing and especially of finaling!!! 🙂

    You CAN do it!

    Hugs,
    Pris

    1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Funny how we become our worst enemy at times. That’s why it’s so important to surround ourselves with cheerleaders (especially with other writers as it’s a mutual thing).

      Thanks for your compliment about my goal setting. Wish I could say that was the case with everything I’ve sought out to do. (I’m looking at you martial arts.) I honestly did feel proud when I finished because I wasn’t sure if I’d make that finish line. In fact, most of my close friends had no clue I was working on this all last year (even though they noticed I suddenly became a little distant as I was in my writing bubble.) I just didn’t want to chat about this openly until I knew I wasn’t a failure. haha

      0
  23. Sharon Wray says:

    What a lovely interview, Elle! You are so lucky you have such a wonderful CP. Mine are worth their weight in gold and silver and platinum! I can’t wait to meet you and the best of my Dragonfly sisters in NYC.

    I agree with Priscilla that the key to any book is wiping away all the self-doubt. If you can do that, you can conquer the world!

    1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      So true regarding the value of CPs. I fear what this manuscript could have looked like if not for Tara and my beta readers.

      Let’s kick self-doubt to the curb!

      0
  24. Elle,
    Cool post. I agree with Tara who said sometimes the best ideas come about while driving. lol. It’s so neat how you thought of it while driving and then just whipped out those first pages. It’s always great to set ourselves some deadlines. I almost HAVE to have some or nothing gets done. I’m a horrible procrastinator.
    Can’t wait to meet you in NYC!

    1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      I definitely need deadlines. That’s why I was grateful for RWA and the GH January deadline. Turned out to be a good deadline to strive for! haha.

      Looking forward to meeting MacAwesome in the flesh with our awesome pins!

      0
  25. Elle, great post! And so sweet to include the map. I’m waving from Canada!

    I’m not sure what to offer for advice on book 2, but for me, I found a rhythm to writing that second book. Plotting, outlining, developing characters, etc. was a little easier because it had been done once before. And this time I knew what worked and what to leave behind.

    I know you’ll find your rhythm. You’ve already got so much going for you!

    Good luck, my Dragonfly Sister. Look forward to seeing you in NYC!!!!!!

    Hugs,

    Arlene ~

    1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Waving up to you in Canada!! Can’t wait till we get together in the city that never sleeps! Thanks for stopping by today and letting me know about finding your rhythm!

      0
  26. jbrayweber says:

    What an honor to “meet” you, Elle. Wonderful interview. And Kristan Higgins….*giggles* I’m such a fangirl! Love the blurb of your GH book, and what an awesome title!

    As for second books, I feel like they are harder. Mostly because after you’ve written the first, there is so much new craft advice you hear. Sometimes that great advice can have you second guessing your voice and creativity. But all the same, we try to implement all the nuggets of wisdom. The books don’t get easier to write. But at least we have a good handle on craft.

    All the best of luck!

    Jenn!

    1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I neglected to mention, I also had the title in mind that first day, too.

      Now if only this 2nd one came so easily. But I think you are right about the 2nd book not necessarily being easier. Though at least I remember what a gerund is this time around. 😉

      0
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Yeah…self-consciousness can be a drag the second time around.

      But learning to turn off the inner editor while drafting is a skill that will benefit a writer forever.

      Just keep chanting: “first drafts are supposed to suck!”

      1+
  27. What a great article, Elle. And I love the title of your book! Congratulations on your GH 2015 final!! I’m so looking forward to catching up with you at Nationals!

    1+
  28. Congratulations Elle! What a lovely interview. Great title. Best of luck with your career. Don’t worry about that second book yet. Just have fun at Nationals!

    1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      I like the way you think, Bev! Not worrying about 2nd book and out to have fun. NYC is a great city for that, too! Thanks so much.

      0
  29. Elle Mason says:

    Thanks to Elisa for interviewing me and the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood for featuring me and other Dragonflies on your blog. You’ve made us feel so welcome.

    I appreciate everyone who joined in on the conversation today. Your well wishes and advice were so helpful for this relative newbie. For those of you going to Nationals, please don’t be shy. I’d love to meet in person. Thanks for making today so special for me.

    1+
  30. Great post, Elle! Loved hearing about how you found your way into writing!

    1+
  31. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks so much for being with us, Elle!!

    Best of luck in NYC!! (And best of luck to NYC when you ladies get to town!)

    The winner of the $15 Starbucks gift card is Jacqui Nelson!
    Jacqui, I’ll put Elle in contact with you.

    Have a great weekend, everybody!

    1+
  32. Abby Sharpe says:

    yeah, yeah, yeah, so I’m a day late. Congrats on your final, Elle!

    2+
  33. Maria Powers says:

    me too on the day late, Elle! Sorry especially because this was so fabulous and I too am fanning myself madly at the hot, hot, hot blurb.

    1+
    • Elle Mason says:

      Happy to hear you found the blurb “hot, hot, hot.” Glad you could join in. See you next month!

      0

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The Latest Comments

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