Tag Archives: YA

Announcing the completion of “I Was, Am, Will Be Alice”!

Graphic by Parker Knight, "Family 1353" under Creative Commons

Graphic by Parker Knight, “Family 1353” under Creative Commons


Hot on the heels of The Revenant‘s release I am thrilled to announce the completion of my next YA novel, I Was, Am Will Be Alice.

After narrowly escaping death in a school shooting, 8 year old Alice Carroll realizes she can time travel when under extreme stress, a situation she is determined to learn to control in order to go back to that day and save the lives of her teacher and classmates and discover the identity of the woman who sacrificed her life so Alice could live.

My Inspiration

I began writing Alice when, while shopping for agents and publishers for The Revenant, I found a call for clients for a new agent on Chuck Sambuchino’s excellent “Writer’s Digest” blog. This particular agent said she would love to read a young adult version of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (TTW). I absolutely love TTW, and adopted her request as a personal challenge. I began with a similar premise: what if someone, a young girl, discovered she had the ability to time travel? In Niffenegger’s novel, the main character, Henry, keeps returning to his first episode of time travel, when he was in a car accident with his mother. Henry survived because he time traveled out of the car avoiding the crash which killed his mother. In my novel, Alice’s defining moment is being caught in a school shooting in grade three in which her favourite teacher killed. There is a romance and an episode with frostbite, too, but that’s where the similarities end.

The name Alice Carroll comes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I appropriated that name for my character early in the writing because the more I wrote, the weirder the character’s predicament until it was almost like she’d entered a bizarre world where nothing made sense to her any more. Why did she survive when others perished? Why did she time travel? What kind of future could she possibly make for herself? Would she ever learn to control it? Why did the shooting happen? Could she find a way to save her teacher? These questions, and more, confuse my Alice, much like Wonderland confused Carroll’s. To drive the parallel home, I borrowed other names from Wonderland to draw further connections.

Though a mouthful, the title for the book comes from something Henry says in TTW:

I love. I have loved. I will love.

I liked the juxtaposition of the different tenses and adapted this for my novel. Late in the writing I decided to use the title, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice, as subtitles and divide the book into sections. I Was Alice describes Alice of the past, when she discovers she can time travel and is traumatized by it. I Am Alice describes Alice of the present, when she realizes she can’t continue randomly traveling through time for the rest of her life and she decides to do something about it. I Will Be Alice describes Alice of the future, after her life comes full circle and she returns back to the day of the shooting and learns answers to some of the questions that have plagued her for most of her life.

Looking for Support

I am reaching out to the reading and writing community to look for “beta readers” and help printing and publicizing my YA sci-fi time-travel romance novel when the time comes.

If you would like to volunteer as a beta reader–finding errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation and consistency in story and possibly writing a review further into the process–please contact me at info @ eliseabram.com

[Tweet “Attention beta readers and reviewers – request your copy of I AM, WAS, WILL BE ALICE info@eliseabram.com”]

If you would like to donate to support my project, you may do so by visiting my PubSlush page at eliseabram.pubslush.com. I am giving away an eBook to all $20 donors and a hard copy, autographed, to all $50 donors (please note an additional $10 is required for international shipping outside of Canada). If you donate over $75, I will also throw in a free study guide in full colour, available as a PDF and/or printed copy sent along with your novel.

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All donors will receive a mention in the acknowledgements section of the final, printed novel (eBook and hard copy).

Announcing the release of THE REVENANT!

MP900384729Welcome to the party!


The wait is finally over! The Revenant is now available for purchase in hard copy on the Black Rose Writing (BRW)page, and online and in bookstores by the end of the month. I want to thank Reagan Rothe at BRW for helping to make my dream of being published a reality. Also thank you to Dave King, Design Lead at BRW for his amazing cover design and endless patience through the revision process.

Even though we’re taught not to judge a book by its cover, most readers will tell you cover art is key. I’ve had my front cover posted on my page for The Revenant for about a week now, but here is the complete cover:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Thank you to Dave King for his work on the cover art.

On with the festivities…

Here’s what the party agenda looks like so far. Keep checking back as more activities are added over the next two months!

fan page party thursday


Join me on Facebook for a Fan Party meet and greet on my release date, this Thursday, July 10, 2014. Like people’s pages and get your page(s) liked as well.

new follow back friday


Join the party-hop as we move from Facebook to Twitter. I pledge to follow back everyone who follows me on Twitter on Friday, July 11, 2014 @eliseabram

going on tour


A number of really amazing bloggers and reviewers have opened up their blog sites so I can take The Revenant on tour in the month of August. Check back on my itinerary page for stops and updates as the tour takes shape.



Use the form on my itinerary page to enter into a Rafflecopter draw for a chance to win one (1) of three (3) eCopies of The Revenant. The giveaway will run for the entire month of August. All you have to do for your chance to win is follow me on Twitter via the Rafflecopter form.

Also available as a giveaway, PDFs of The Revenant bookmarks and a study guide. Please request these via email at info @ eliseabram . com

Overcoming Writer’s Doubt

This blog post represents my entry in the “Overcoming Writer’s Doubt” Writing Contest held by The Positive Writer.

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“I wish I could write like that,” I said to my husband. We were in the car heading home from the theatre having just seen “The Mummy Returns.”

“You can,” he told me, and for the first time, I shared the story that had been tumbling around in my head for the twenty or so years prior.

The rest of that summer was spent in the eye of a perfect storm of creative fury, spurred on by my love for science fiction, the abundant resources of the Internet, and the fact that I had been tasked to teach Writer’s Craft that coming September. As I researched the finer points of structuring plot, character, imagery and theme while preparing my lessons, the trickle of words I’d only ever been able to muster soon became a deluge. In my dreams I saw my novel on the shelves of bookstores and on bestsellers’ lists worldwide.

Nearly ten years passed before my masterpiece was complete and I was ready to shop for the perfect venue for my book. Back then, few publishers and agents were accepting submissions via email. Printing out my novel and mailing it was cumbersome, not to mention expensive. I soon succumbed to doubt and gave up on my writing career before it had even begun.

Then the next idea took root.

I ignored it at first, reluctant to take another ride on the writing roller coaster. Before long, the incessant chatter of the characters could not be silenced by anything other than my transcribing their story.

[Tweet “I ignored the idea, reluctant to take another ride on the #writing roller coaster.”]

Five years later Phase Shift was finished. A few more publishers and agents were accepting unsolicited manuscripts than before, but not many. After a year of fighting the good fight, and another twenty or so rejections added to my pile, I realized my submissions had amounted to nothing more than expensive lottery tickets. Actually, I’d convinced myself, I probably had a better chance of winning the lottery than getting published.

I took time to lick my wounds, wallow in writer’s doubt and decide if the writing life truly was for me.

I was teaching grade ten English at the time. Over a period of about three years, I’d listened to near a thousand student presentations on young adult novels. Every semester my awe at the torture YA novelists foisted on their characters grew; global apocalypse, false accusation, abuse, addiction, pregnancy, murder–no topic was sacred.

In my discussions with them, the librarians at my school encouraged me to write YA. At first, I had no clue where to begin. I’d always wanted to write a vampire story, I thought, so I began where I’d begun almost every project I’d ever tackled–doing research. It was during the  research phase I discovered revenants, kissing cousins to vampires in traditional lore. I soon realized I’d stumbled upon an untilled field of possibility. As little was known about revenants, I could shape them into almost anything I wanted.

Coincidentally, Nanowrimo was not far off that year. If I could force myself to stick to the regimen the contest demanded, I could bang out most if not all of my first draft in as little as thirty days. In spite of the demands of my job and my family, I “won” Nanowrimo and spent most of the next six months finishing and polishing my manuscript.

I felt good. I’d written my best work yet. I was going to be published by a traditional publishing house, but not before a knock-down drag-out bidding war between publishing bigwigs for the rights to my book. I was going to be the next Stephanie Meyer! The next J.K. Rowling! Bigger!

And then I began to send out queries.

When the responses started to roll in, elation was replaced with the first buds of writer’s doubt.

[Tweet “When the responses started to roll in, elation was replaced with the first buds of #writer’s doubt.”]

“Your book doesn’t seem right for us.” I could deal with this kind of rejection;  the problem wasn’t me, it was them. I soldiered on, but with each successive rejection I started to realize maybe the problem was me. What if It was worse than me? What if it was my writing? I could always change a plot or write a new story, but if my writing was the problem…?

With each new rejection it became harder to navigate the waters of the river of writer’s doubt without slipping under.

I decided to focus on my next novel (which I tentatively titled I Am, Was, Will Be Alice), allowing The Revenant to stew on the back burner for a while. I liked my Alice novel. I liked The Revenant, too, but if it wasn’t meant to be then I’d have to write another magnum opus and try again. I believed in The Revenant, even if no one else did. I took a course on how to market a book, resolving to self-publish and run with it myself if no one had picked it up by the summer.

Then the gloriously unthinkable happened: one of the publishers I’d contacted was interested in publishing my book. A week after I’d heard the news I’d signed the contract. The stormy waters of self-doubt settled, the clouds parted, the sun came out. I might have heard harp music and choral angels sing.

I was going to be published!

I’m not going to lie and say I’ve managed to permanently banish writer’s doubt from my life. As long as my success hinges on how well others receive my work those thin tendrils of writer’s doubt, the ones that threaten to take root and sprout buds will always be there.

Let’s just say I’ve managed to prune back the branches for the time being.

The Revenant, a YA paranormal adventure novel by Elise Abram is set for a 10 July 14 release by Black Rose Writing.

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Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter Y




is for Young Adult




Young adult (YA) novels are novels that appeal to adolescents and teenagers. In YA the main character is usually a pre-teen or teen and theme is often emphasized over the more traditional elements of storytelling such as plot and character. I’ve recently begun my foray into YA novel writing, with the soon to be released The Revenant and next year’s release (hopefully) of I am, Was, Will be Alice.

YA novels are usually subdivided into 3 genres, middle-grade (10 – 13ish), true YA (14ish to 18 or so) and new adult (19+). Most of the time the main character is the same age as the target audience.

The actual target audience of YA is hard to gauge as, quite often, adults enjoy these novels, too. This accounts for the popularity of such blockbuster series as Twilight or Harry Potter.

Do you read YA? Do you purposely seek out YA or do you read a book if it appeals to you regardless of it’s intended audience. Post your opinion of YA novels in the comments below.



Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter S




is for Symbolism




Sometimes a red rose is just a pretty flower sitting in a vase on the shelf while others it is a symbol of love. Visual symbols, like the rose, are usually linked to imagery. Other symbols may be linked to theme. The bottom line is that if something recurs in a story and means something other than the obvious literal meaning, it’s probably a symbol and not just another pretty flower.

In The Revenant, Morgan is a symbol of good, his brother Malchus, a symbol of evil. The sum of their lives show that good and evil are more than simple black and white divisions. There is a little bit of evil thought and good intentions in the best of us, but in the case of Morgan and Malchus, their personalities ultimately polarize and repeated references to this polarization is what makes them symbols (and foils).

In I am, Was, Will be Alice, the ability of Alice to control her time traveling becomes a symbol of hope. If she can control when she travels, maybe she can save the lives of her teacher and student peers and ultimately, herself.

Likewise, in the short story “Hope Floats”, a butterfly found by a child in a dystopic world becomes a symbol of hope. Having settled underground, a child ventures to the surface and captures a butterfly to give to his mother to show her there is still hope for returning to the old way of life. But when the butterfly dies, he realizes there is no turning back the clock.

Symbols are all around us in everyday life and in popular culture. I prefer the puzzle of the subtler symbols, no rose = love in my writing! Do you think of symbols at all? Can you think of any you noticed recently? Share examples of the best ones in the comments below.

Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter O




is for Onomatopoeia




The term onomatopoeia describes when a word sounds like what it means. Some examples of this are hiss, bark, bang, and boom.

In my Alice Untitled YA novel, Alice finds she time travels when stressed. One of her triggers is onomatopoeia:

I’m having that dream again.

Footfalls tick in the hall, the beat slow and regular, counting down the seconds left in my life.

Click. Clack. Click. Clack.

A momentary pause outside of the grade three cloak room.

Shuffle. Spin. Click. Clack. Click. Clack.

The muzzle of the gun, shaft pointed directly at me like a dark, unblinking eye.

The flash after the trigger is pulled.

Tick, beat, click, clack, shuffle…these are examples of onomatopoeia. The use of them in a narrative helps to add the sense of sound. Rather than say he walked into the room, readers can practically hear the sound of the stranger’s footfall as he enters the room and Alice’s growing stress, foreshadowing another leap through time.

Take some time to write a passage using creative onomatopoeia. Share them in the comments below if you’d like feedback.

A to Z Blog Challenge – Brought to you by the letter H




is for Hyperbole




A hyperbole is an exaggeration used to emphasize a point.

In the tentatively titled,  I Am, Have Been, and Will Be Alice, Alice is depressed and has taken to her bed for comfort when her mother comes into the room:

She digs my head out from under the blankets, brushes my hair from my forehead and brings her cool lips to them. “You’re cool as a cucumber,” she says for about the millionth time in my lifetime.

The hyperbole in this excerpt is Alice insisting her mother has used this phrase about a million times over the past 14 or so years. While it’s theoretically possible for someone to achieve this goal, it’s not very likely, which is what makes it a hyperbole.

When Suzanne leans over Palmer during a sarcophagus examination in The Mummy Wore Combat Boots, he says,

As she spoke I was enveloped in a haze of her perfume. Her scent was sweet and distantly floral.  It brought back a slew of memories—not all of them disagreeable—in a dizzying flood.

While Palmer’s memories make him neither physically dizzy, and his memories would not carry the same force as a flooding tsunami, I’m sure it would feel as if they did to poor Palmer who can’t escape Suzanne’s unwanted advances in such close quarters.

Do you use hyperbole in either speech or writing? Which ones do you use most often? Which ones have you written that you’re most proud of? Whatever they are, share them in the comments below.

Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter F




is for Foil




Foils are characters that have opposing character traits and motivations.

An example of foils from classical literature are Macbeth and Macduff from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In this example, Macbeth is driven by ambition to suit his own, selfish needs, while Macduff’s only ambition is altruistic in nature, to put the kingdom back to rights. Macduff and his wife’s relationship is a loving one, while Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s is adversarial. Macduff has a child while Macbeth has none. Macduff is allied with Malcolm while Macbeth is his enemy. These and other traits set Macbeth and Macduff up as near polar opposites in character and desire, establishing them as foils.

In The Revenant, Morgan and his brother Malchus are constructed as opposites. Morgan is the naughty child, Malchus the good one. Morgan tends his family’s farm fields while Malchus is apprenticed to the local doctor. Morgan has the gift of foresight, something he wishes would go away while Malchus actively seeks out and embraces his power in the Dark Arts. Malchus raises Zulu from the grave for nefarious means; Morgan saves him. Morgan finds a life of purpose embracing the good while Malchus loses himself in evil. For these and other reasons, the brothers are set up as having opposing personalities, desires and motivations, rendering them foils.

Can you think of any other foils in literature or television? Post your ideas in the comments below.


Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter A




is for Allusion




An allusion is a reference to a person, place or thing outside of the current text. It is assumed that the reader or viewer will recognize the reference and draw a deeper connection with the text.

Different types of allusions require different levels of critical thought in order to form connections. A simple allusion might be a casual reference to something from popular culture:

The plan was simple enough–bring the girls to the ancient Victorian, that Addams Family knock-off, scare the pants off them, be all “there, there” when the time was right, and then literally take the pants off them.

-from The Revenant

In this example, “Addams Family knock-off” connotes a dilapidated mansion with mansard-style roofs, quite possibly haunted, with a belfry, bats included.

A more complex allusion might be an extended metaphor that, when taken as a whole, paints a picture for the reader:

Zulu heard his watch mark off the time: tick…tick…tick. He fancied himself Captain Hook on the deck of the Jolly Roger, hearing the clock in the belly of the crock that took his hand. He stood upright, hands on hips, right foot on an overturned trash can. For a moment he was Hook. “He tasks me,” he whispered. “He tasks me and I shall have him.”

Wait, he thought. Wrong movie.

-from The Revenant

This allusion relies, not only on the reader’s knowledge of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, but also “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” While the reference to Pan is more of an explicit allusion as it identifies characters in the text, the reference to “Khan” is more subtle in that it doesn’t. Here the author is hoping her target audience has seen the movie, recognizes the quote, and makes the connection.

I leave you with one final allusion I wrote, just because I’m proud of it, from my I am, Was, Will be Alice YA novel:

“I’m not sick.”

“Paralyzing fear is a kind of sickness,” she says and just like that, we’re replaying the scene from The Big Bang Theory, the one where Sheldon is locked out of his house and spending the night at Penny’s, but he can’t sleep and Sheldon says he’s not sick and Penny says, “Homesickness is a kind of sickness.” Mom doesn’t disappoint–she asks if I want her to sing “Soft Kitty” to me. Or maybe she does disappoint, I mean, here I am, scared to frozen that if I go to school I will one day dematerialize in front of people in an imperceptible poof of air leaving behind nothing but my clothes (including my underwear) or even worse, rematerialize in front of the entire ninth grade population in the altogether, my privates on display, and all she can do is play out a corny scene from a stupid television show. I know she means well, to ease the tension in the room, but come on!

Feel free to share any allusions you’ve written or comments you have below.

Beautiful Twilight

I have read a bit of young adult (YA) fiction in my life, more that I remember since I’ve been an adult than a young adult. Most of my exposure to YA is vicariously through my students. Every year, my grade 10 English students must pick a YA novel and write two reading journals (retell, reflect and relate), a newspaper article about a significant event in the novel and do a literary analysis presentation on it. I learn a lot about YA novels and themes from them. Since I’ve decided to try and write the next great North American YA novel, I’ve made a concerted effort to read more YA. I have to say, so far, my choices haven’t impressed me.

The last YA novel I attempted (unsuccessfully as I didn’t finish) to read was Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The reasons I chose this book were because I remember seeing the trailers for the movie in the theatre and it looked interesting, and honestly, because it was free at the Kobo bookstore. The preview seemed interesting, and so I downloaded.

In Beautiful Creatures, Ethan Wate befriends new student Lena Duchannes at school. He finds himself attracted to her, primarily because she’s different from the other girls and he’s intrigued by the strange things that seem to happen around her. When a window breaks near her and without her touching it, Ethan goes to her home to check on her and winds up befriending her. Their friendship soon turns into a romance. Lena and Ethan find they have been dreaming about each other and they are able to communicate by thinking to each other. Ethan soon learns Lena is a caster. She is about to turn sixteen and her powers are beginning to manifest, though she cannot always control them. On her sixteenth birthday—many months into the future from the start of the book—she will be claimed, either by light or dark and her life will change. Her greatest fear is she will be claimed by the dark and turn into an evil caster like her cousin and her mother.

To its credit, Beautiful Creatures uses great allusions that many teens will recognize. Lena’s reclusive uncle is compared to Boo Radley of To Kill a Mockingbird fame. He even owns a dog whose name is Boo Radley that follows the couple around throughout the book. There are also comparisons to Gone with the Wind that I understood, but might be over most teens’ heads, unless they grew up in the American south. There were sections of the book which made me second guess my giving up, but these always gave way to slower narrative and focus on Ethan and Lena’s connection which seemed forced at times. Also, romance just isn’t my bag; I felt the concentration on teen angst and romantic insecurity too soupy for my liking at times.

Once Ethan meets Lena, the book reminded me too much of Twilight. In Twilight, Bella lives in a small, boring town and meets Edward with whom she’s forced to work in class. When Edward saves Bella from certain death in a strange feat of strength, she feels a connection to him, thus beginning their relationship. In Beautiful Creatures, Ethan lives in a small, boring town and meets Lena with whom he chooses to work in class when no one else wants to. When Ethan witnesses Lena exert a feat of mental strength, he feels a connection to her, thus beginning their relationship. Also, I felt that the novel begins too much in advance of Lena’s transformation. The reader must slog through six months of Lena’s angst around being claimed, which is too much anticipation. Lastly, the parameters of Lena’s abilities are too wishy-washy. Other casters’ abilities are specific; they can do one thing. Lena seems to be able to do more than most casters, which makes it seem like the authors invented her abilities as they needed them to advance the plot. I found myself often frustrated as I tried to figure out the parameters of magic in the Beautiful Creatures world.

If you are a young girl looking for a supernatural romance, I think you might enjoy this novel, especially if you liked Twilight (which I didn’t). For an adult not interested in romance, but rather, in great literature with clear cut rules governing the science and magic of the fictional world in which to immerse yourself for a few hours, Beautiful Creatures is not for you.

Graphic from: http://books.google.ca/books/about/Beautiful_Creatures.html?id=hTE6xarZsk8C&redir_esc=y

About the Author

Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!