Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Author Interview: Jason Lebowtiz

I like to welcome to my blog today, Jason Lebowitz, self-published author of the book THE SIMPLISTIC APPROACH: A NOVEL.

JS:  Your debut novel, THE SIMPLISTIC APPROACH: A NOVEL came out earlier this year. Can you tell us a little about it?
JL:  It most closely resembles a romantic love story trapped inside a dark comedy. Aren’t all relationships? Intricate conflicts between mismatched addictions and obscurely fascinating obsessions become the uneven balance which divides simple and sophisticated lifestyle. Anything but normal. And completely relatable.

Charlie Waters, an architect by trade, develops mind-altering plans for his future wife. His best friend, Bulldog Fred, engineers the design into reality. Together, Charlie and Bulldog are on an endless search for the perfect counter; never quite satisfied with their significant other. Selfishly trapped inside an analytical obsession for perfection, constantly, they rethink what a beautiful love story is made of; continuously reworking the equation. All of the insecurities, nuances and flaws in a relationship, lead them to the ultimate encounter; an ending approach that will leave any simplistic questions answered and oddly redefine the definition of love.

JS:  Where did you get your inspiration for your novel?
JL:  It began inside a holiday toy house decoration… of all places. Just in time for Christmas. A few years ago at about this time, my son and I were at a restaurant waiting for our food. He must’ve been two. They had an entire Christmas Village display on the window ledge above our table. My friend was with us. We were asking my son if he knows who lives inside this mini model home. Bulldog Fred was born. Apparently, he was the chosen one inside The House of a Thousand Characters. Unfortunately Santa didn’t make the cut for this novel. But then again, this is a Fiction Novel. Not to worry; Bulldog Fred is as giving as Santa.

One of the ending scenes was inspired from a single sound in a song. I listened to it, the entire song, non-stop, over and over for probably thirty or forty times in a row to create this scene. I get into it.

JS:   Are you planning a whole Charlie and Bulldog Series?
JL:   That could be dangerous but I wouldn’t rule it out. They may resurface in the future. Now that Charlie and Bulldog have been extracted from their previously festive home, in a previously simple life, they’ve managed to cause mentally explosive diarrhea damage to everyone around. Yet it’s done in such an inviting and elegant way, that you almost relate to, dare I say appreciate and validate their addictions and mentally unstable ‘Questioneers’ way. I believe Charlie would say, “It’s never over.”

JS:   Are you working on anything now?
JL:   Yes. Another fiction novel. It takes place inside the healthcare system -- which is already disturbing. I bring it to that next level. Think of it as the inspiration for medical advances; when doctors get bored with everyday practice. Similar to the Mayo Clinic, these highly skilled community of professionals team up at a hospital to test their proficiency, using unconventional Continuing Education procedures which fall slightly outside of their scope of practice. Penalty for failure is more than a reprimand. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

JS:   How long did it take you to write your novel?
JL:   One year of a creative word collage. Six months of organizing. 

JS:   What made you decide to write a book and have you always wanted to be a writer?
JL:   I never decided to write a book. The book decided for me. I always enjoyed expressing myself through alternative communications. Growing up, I spent years performing as a drummer. Recently, I traded in the drumsticks for a pen. Is that a fair trade? Writing is new. I’m a late bloomer. This didn’t start off as a novel. It started off as a therapeutic word dump. After a year, and what looked like a large, disassembled puzzle, I slowly arranged the thoughts, working them into a story. Within six months of filling in the blank, the novel was complete.

JS:   You went with self-publishing. Can you tell us why you decided to go in that direction?
JL:   Once I realized I was writing a novel, like an afterthought, I had no intention of doing anything with it beyond finishing the story. It was completely a selfish journey. Getting to know the characters became my obsession. Even after completing the novel, I wasn't planning on putting it out there. Honestly, I didn't really care what anyone thought of it. It was a learning process and I accomplished what I set out to do. What happened was my sister read it in a word document format and wanted her husband to read it. He’s a socially defiant, technologically advanced individual and would only read it from his Kindle, refusing to read the word document from a computer. I was quite anxious to view it on a Kindle as well, seeing it come to life. So I self-published. For better or worse, no one changed or interrupted the direction of the story. Meanwhile, I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to publish this.

JS:   What do you like best about self-publishing? Least?
JL:   The process. And meeting other self-published authors who share in the experience. So far, no least.

JS:   Did you send out query letters and if so how many?
JL:   None.

JS:   What advice do you have for any aspiring authors?
JL:   Passion is transparent. Write what’s right for you. Whether your goal is to self-publish or work with an agent, find your approach and don’t be afraid to establish your creative place out there. I’ve met great writers who refuse to even self-publish for fear of rejection. Remember, every reader experiences a unique interpretation of your work. To me, I'd be offended if everyone loved my book. More than anything, I respect honesty, even if they hated it. And I’ve had people tell me how much they disliked the book. It doesn't bother me. I don't feel rejected. If it sparks emotion from readers, then you’ve made a connection.

 Use your resources. Join or form a writers group. Every week, I meet with my sister and friend to discuss character development, review recent written chapters, and critique plot twists. They have a significant influence on me, challenging my concepts and taking my writing to another level.

Search for bloggers like Jessica who provide a great service; a platform to promote first-time, self-published novels right next to a Six-Time New York Times Bestselling Author! I hope I didn’t ruin it for everyone else?? If I sold a book, anyone can.

Random Questions

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Beach or mountains? Mountains
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Last book read? Gone Girl
E-reader or old fashion book? E-reader strategically placed inside an old fashion book. It reminds me of a Robert Gurney home.
Favorite author? Chuck Palahniuk. I also need to include Quentin Tarantino and Howard Stern as influential, captivating storytellers.
Most played song on iPod? Lately, the Gorillaz version of Crystalised. Crosses from Jose Gonzalez. Violet Rays from Smashing Pumpkins. Kindergarten from Faith No More. Diamonds from SIA and performed by Rihanna… Well done Sia.
Favorite movie? Shawshank Redemption
Favorite food? Chicken Tikka. No Masala. Just Chicken Tikka.
Outliner or panster? Panster

 Unorthodox, like a ninja, Jason Lebowitz presents a rhythmically captivating sense of writing discipline. Silently secretive and invisibly disguised, the satirist will sneak up from behind, infiltrating your mind with psychological humor. He will lead you through narrow pathways of misinterpretation until you're unable to distinguish between realities. Everyday spent outside your four-wall comfort zone should be a constant reminder to look over your shoulder. The characters in his novels could be standing right next to you at this very moment. Welcome to his playground for the obsessed.


The Simplistic Approach is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thanks Jason. Sound like a book you might enjoy? Good advice for aspiring authors? Have a published book and want to be a part of my author interviews, please e-mail me at JessicaLSalyer(at)gmail(dot)com.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Deja Vu Blogfest

Today is the Deja Vu blogfest hosted by DL Hammons. The purpose of this blogfest is to repost a blog of yours that you may have posted awhile ago and people may not have seen. I'm reposting one from October 10th of last year. It was after I really started to write and I wanted to talk about some of the things that surprised me. These things still surprise me and are some of my favorite things about writing.

Surprises in Writing

Along my journey of writing a novel, I have experienced a few things that have really surprised me. Since this is my first attempt at writing anything more than a short story or report for some class, I have been a little taken aback by certain things. I never before would have thought that these things would have happened. I have been very pleasantly surprised.

The first thing that has surprised me is my characters. They do things on occasions that I don't expect. I'll be happily writing along and all of sudden stop and think, wow I wouldn't have expected that from you. I expect them to go one way and at the last minute they decide they want to go the other. For example, in my novel, I have a character who is a supporting character. Throughout the whole first part of the story I thought he was going to be interested in my lead character. I wrote the beginning of the story that way, until I was writing a particular scene. In this scene one of the other support characters came up to him and just like that, they were together and he was no longer interested in the main character. I didn't think that they would make up their own minds. I thought that I would be in complete control over all they do and say. Boy, was I wrong.

Another thing that surprised me is surprises. What do I mean by this? I'll be writing a scene and put something little in, for example a look, smell, or a sentence. At the time it will be completely benign. However, later that little thing will have such a deeper meaning. For example, my main character, Emma, says that her Aunt always smells like summer. I wrote this in my first chapter. When I wrote it I wasn't thinking anything about it. It had no deeper meaning than she smells like summer. However, two chapters later we find out there is a particular reason as to why she smells like summer. It's much deeper than just a smell. When writing that sentence however, I didn't know that. This has happened to me on multiple occasions and each and every time I am completely marveled by it.

This journey of writing has taken me by surprise in many ways, these are just two that stand out the most. Have you had many surprises? If so please share them with me. I'd love to hear about them. Photobucket

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kelley Lynn's Cover Reveal

I am thrilled today to be able to reveal my fabulous CP, Kelley Lynn's cover for her debut YA novel. Fraction of Stone will be released on March 21, 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing.

I cannot say enough great things about Kelley. I met her about a year ago and she has been instrumental in making me a better writer. Everyone that knows her knows that she'll help you out in anyway possible. And to top it off, she is a brilliant writer. I am so very happy for Kelley, congratulations and I wish her a ton of success!

Fraction of Stone

Wind tunnels, torrential rains and earthquakes tear apart Casden. The cause of the world’s imbalance is unknown, but the mounting occurrences suggest there’s little time before life ceases to exist.

Rydan Gale and Akara Nazreth are the only humans with the ability to wield magic. The tattoo on their necks and the discovery of an ancient book, dictate they are the key to the world’s survival.

But the greatest obstacle for saving mankind isn’t the bizarre creatures, extreme betrayals and magic-fearing men hunting them.

It’s that Akara doesn’t believe the world is worth saving. 

To thank everyone, Kelley is giving away two ARCs of FRACTION OF STONE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Eventually the day came when the voices in Kelley Lynn’s head were more insistent then her engineering professor’s. So instead of turning to her Thermodynamics book, Kelley brought up a blank page on her computer screen and wrote. Somewhere along the way she became a Young Adult author.

Kelley was born and raised a Midwestern girl. She’s not afraid to sweat and fills her free time with softball, soccer and volleyball. (Though you probably don’t want her on your volleyball team.) She occasionally makes guest appearances as a female vocalist for area bands.

You can find Kelley hanging out at her blog, titled in her name, as well as the group blog she shares with her fellow critique partners, Falling for Fiction. Kelley is a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

Kelley Lynn's LinksBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Do you know Kelley? Sound like a good book? Like the cover? Sign up for the give away?


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Author Interview: Emily Giffin

I told you in my last post I had a very special guest for my author interview for the month of November and I do... the six time New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin!

I am honored and privileged to have had the chance to ask her some questions. Thank you, so much Emily and Sarah for taking the time to do this for me.

JS:  You’ve had six New York Times bestsellers. Out of all of your books, which has been your favorite to write? 
EG:  Each book was such a unique experience, in such different periods of my life (single in London, married with newborn twins) that I cannot adequately answer that question. I will tell you that my two favorite characters in any of my books are Kirby in Where We Belong and Darcy. 

JS:  On average, how long does it take you to write a book and how many rounds of edits do you go through? 
EG:  It takes about a year and there are countless rounds of edits. I am constantly going back and revising, almost daily. 

JS:  Do you have to run your ideas through your publisher or can you write anything you’d like and they publish it? 
EG:  I discuss early ideas with a small group of people including my editor. 

JS:  How many queries did you send out for Something Borrowed? 
EG:  I sent out five to agents and think she sent out five to publishers. 

JS:  With all the interviews you’ve done, is there a question that you’d like to be asked more or a question that you’ve never been asked that you wish people would? 
EG:  I feel it is important to support other authors and books that I have enjoyed. I like when I am asked who I am reading or who my favorites are. Here are some! Sarah Dunn, Lolly Winston, Kristin Hannah, Deirdre Shaw, Laura Dave, Allison Winn Scotch, Jill Smolinski, Jess Riley, Sarah Strohmeyer. I also read and greatly enjoyed these debut novels this year: Alys, Always by Harriet Lane; Can I Get an Amen? by Sarah Healy; Overseas by Beatriz Williams; and Groundswell by Katie Lee. 

JS:  How did it feel to see your book come to life in movie form? 
EG:  It was a remarkable experience. I loved the cast – they’re so perfect. Ginnifer Goodwin, with her face and her expression and her hair, is so much like the Rachel I imagined. And John Krasinski, though a bit taller than Ethan, has that sort of original face that I had imagined for Ethan, but yet he is still very good looking. And then Dex is gorgeous! Colin Egglesfield is so beautiful that he’s actually a little better looking than the Dex in my mind. And then Kate Hudson knocked it out of the park. 

JS:  Throughout your writing career, have you ever dealt with someone close to you being unsupportive and if so how did you deal with it? 
EG: I have been incredibly lucky in this regard in that my family and friends have never been anything but supportive. 

JS:  Have you ever gotten discouraged and wanted to give up and if so how did you deal with it? 
EG:  My first book was a never published young adult novel. Rather than discourage me I used the experience as motivation. I used rejection letters as inspiration. 

JS:  What’s your favorite and least favorite part of being a successful, bestselling author? 
EG:  My favorite part is getting to interact with readers around the world. I love reading their emails and Facebook posts and meeting them at book signings and events. My least favorite would be writer’s block. ☺ 

JS:  Do you have any advice for unpublished writers? 
EG:  Don’t let the idea of a novel overwhelm or intimidate you so much that you are too afraid to begin. It’s like training for a marathon. Nobody gets out there and runs twenty-six miles on their first effort. It takes daily training and discipline and desire. When you get to the “finding an agent” stage, check out Jeff Herman’s Guide to Agents. I found it to be very useful in that it gives a bit more background on agents. 

 Random Questions 

Vanilla or chocolate? vanilla 
Coffee or tea? Coffee! 
Beach or snow? Either, if I can be inside ☺  
Last book read? Alys Always 
Favorite author? Harper Lee 
Most played song on iPod? Anything by Bruce 
Favorite movie? Shawshank redemption 
Outliner or panster? Can I say both? 
Flats or heels? Heels 
Lipstick or chapstick? lipstick

Emily Giffin, a Chicago native, graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, she moved to Manhattan and practiced litigation at a large firm for several years while she paid back her school loans, wrote a novel in her very limited spare time, and dreamed of becoming a writer.
Despite the rejection of her first manuscript, Giffin persisted, retiring from the legal profession and moving to London to pursue her dreams fulltime. It was there that she began writing Something Borrowed (2004), a story of a young woman who, upon turning thirty, finally learned to take a risk and follow her heart. One year later, Giffin's own gamble paid off, as she completed her manuscript, landed an agent and signed a two-book deal on both sides of the Atlantic. The following summer, Something Borrowed, hailed as a "heartbreakingly honest debut" with "dead-on dialogue, real-life complexity and genuine warmth," became a surprise sensation, and Giffin vowed never to practice law again.
Dubbed a "modern day Jane Austen" and a "dependably down-to-earth storyteller," Giffin has since penned four more New York Times bestsellers,Something Blue (2005), Baby Proof (2006), Love the One You're With (2008) and Heart of the Matter (2010). Her five novels, all filled with her endearingly flawed characters and emotional complexity, have been translated into twenty-nine languages, with five million copies in print worldwide. In addition, three of her novels have been optioned for the big screen, and Something Borrowed has been fast-tracked for an early 2010 shoot by the production companies of Hilary Swank and Edward Burns.
Giffin now resides with her husband and three young children in Atlanta, where she received the Georgia Debut Author of the Year Award. She is currently at work on her sixth novel and a screenplay for Baby Proof.

Links: Facebook  Website

Are you a fan of Emily's? Read any or all of her books? Have a favorite?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Just a quick note to say that I probably won't be around a lot for the month of November. I'm attempting to do NaNo. My wonderful CP Kelley Lynn and I are doing a collaborative project together. I'm super excited about it. It's a YA fantasy. But also super nervous, Kelley is a super quick writer. And well, I'm super slow. Her book took her ten days, mine a year. I don't want to slow her down. I'm afraid that I'm going to keep her 'waiting on me'. (Love ya Kelley!)

So, if you see me less than you already do, I'm sorry. I'm going to try to be around more in December!

Plus, I am hoping to have a great Author Interview lined up for November, one you're not going to wanna miss.

Are you doing NaNo? What are your fears?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Spotlight

Looking for me? I'm hanging with the girls over at Falling For Fiction today doing their Friday Spotlight. So, if you have time come on over! Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

SCBWI Conference

This weekend I attended the SCBWI Fall Writer's Conference/Retreat. This was my first ever writer's conference. I had an amazing time.

Kelley Lynn and me
Not only did I learn a ton, but it was nice to just be a 'writer' all weekend. To talk about my passion. To learn more about it. To be with others that were in the same boat as I am. To talk to published authors and hear them talk about how they even have doubts and feel like I do some days.

We had some great talks. Author, Kathi Appelt gave a great talk about understanding your character. She gave us ways to look at our characters and exercises to do to get to know your character better.
YA author, Sarah Zarr gave a wonderful talk about emotional pacing and the emotions of your characters. And Marcia Hoehne gave a fantastic workshop on how to get more ideas and if you have a lot of them, how to decide which one you should write. They were all very informative and I learned so much.

Sarah Zarr and me

I also had the wonderful opportunity to get my first chapter critiqued by Sarah Zarr. She gave me a fantastic critique with a ton of great advise. Which will lead me to some major rewrites, but in the end it will better my story.

It was a great time. If you've never been to a conference I would definitely suggest going to one. This one was perfect. It wasn't to big, so not over whelming. And not to small that it wasn't informative enough.
Fellow writers

On a side note...Friday I'm  being spotlighted by the lovely ladies over at Falling For Fiction. So, If you want to find out more about me, head over there Friday.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Author Interview: Ilsa J. Bick

 Today I'd like to welcome Ilsa Bick. I met Ilsa at a writer's workshop that I went to. She gave a very informative talk on what makes YA, YA and was also on a panel of horror writers. At the workshop I bought her book ASHES and went home. Later I picked it up and started reading... and couldn't put it down. Then, I had to go on Amazon and pre-order the next one SHADOWS, which I also could not put down. I had to keep reading 'cause I HAD to find out what was going to happen. Ilsa does a fabulous job of keeping you on the edge of your seat and she definitely can write a great story. Now, I just have to wait a year for MONSTERS to come out.

JS: Book 2 in your THE ASHES TRILOGY, SHADOWS, was just published last month. Congratulations. Can you tell us a little about the series? 
IJB: Well, let’s put it this way; it’s kind of complicated by this point, but the nitty-gritty is this: in ASHES, a wave of EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) sweeps the sky (and, maybe, the globe). In a heartbeat, everything with solid-state processors—computers, power grids, communications—just flat-out dies. Nuclear power plants go up; so do nuclear waste storage facilities. A ton of people drop right off the bat, notably those between the ages of about 25-65 (so the folks who might actually be able to fix things), leaving only the very young and the very old. Those in-between, the teenagers, are all Changed into people who make interestingly life-style choices and become, therefore, not the ideal folks to meet in a dark alley. ASHES follows Alex, who’s not only an orphan (both her parents died in a crash three years ago) but dying in her own right: she’s got a terminal brain tumor. At the beginning of the story, she’s left her aunt and gone off into the Waucamaw Wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on what might very well be a one-way trip. And then the world comes crashing down around her ears, and we go from there.

note- Ilsa wants to let you know that if you've read ASHES but it's been a while and your about to start SHADOWS, she wrote a recap to remind you what happen in ASHES. You can find it HERE.

JS:  You’ve had a very eclectic job history. Can you tell us about it? 
IJB: Well, I guess the short answer is I’m easily bored. But, yeah, I’m a doctor (started out in surgery, changed to child psychiatry, did a private practice for years and I’ve also been a consultant to a women’s prison and done forensic psychiatry). I also got kind of . . . bored during my residency training and so I went to school at night and got a masters degree in film and literature studies. For years, I wrote and published and presented on psychoanalysis and film in a bunch of academic arenas. (And, yeah, I trained as an analyst for several years though didn’t finish; life is too short to make like Woody Allen and analysis interminable.) Throughout medical school and for several years after, I also served in the Air Force during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Almost deployed, too, but I think having a second child put the kibosh on that, barely. And now, I write. Like I said, I’m easily bored and peripatetic to boot. 

JS:  Did you always want to be a writer and what made you decide to write your first novel? 
IJB: Nope, never did. I read, constantly, devoured just about everything. But I never saw myself as a writer. The only stuff I wrote in high school was really bad epic poetry. But I’ve always been interested in literature. In fact, I couldn’t decide what I liked better: English or bio, so I majored in both. If I hadn’t gotten into medical school, I might well have ended up going to grad school in English. I had some vague fantasy about teaching at an ivy-covered university where I, too, would be ivy-covered, wear a tweed jacket, drink a lot of coffee, and smoke a pipe while discussing Dickens. Then I got interested in film and psychoanalysis, started writing and publishing a ton. It was my husband who dared me to try fiction. I think he saw all my essays and papers as the sublimations they were: a way I could enjoy myself creatively while not admitting that I wanted to be creative. (He’s a pretty insightful guy, but I suppose that happens when you hang with a shrink long enough.) Specifically, he understood that I’d always wanted to write myself into a Star Trek book. (Yes, it’s true; Kirk had a chest to die for.) So he dared me to try, and I don’t back down from dares. So I started writing. Did six terrible, deservedly unpublished novels (although one came close) and about thirty, forty equally awful stories before I published my first story, and that was a prize winner (and I’d been ready to give up, too). And it was Trek, to boot. What’s not to like? 

JS: About how long does it take you to write your average novel and how many rounds of edits do you go through? 
IJB: Takes me anywhere from a couple weeks to a month to draft an outline, but usually about two weeks. About three months to write a book, although a very complex book will take about four but that’s pushing it. I aim for three and give myself a deadline. I let it sit for a couple days, and then I’ll go back and edit the crap out of it—usually about 20% because not every book deserves to live—which can take about another week or two. Then I send. What happens after that depends on the editor. Normally, we’re looking at one round of edits and then ditzels, little things that we think of or which escaped us the first time around. 

JS: You are a big Star Trek fan. How did it feel to write Star Trek novels?
IJB: Uhm . . . good? I really liked it; I mean, come on, I got to hang out with some very cool characters and play in that sandbox. The only thing I ran up against was that you have to stay true to the universe and the canon. You can’t go off in directions that threaten the universe. Like, you can’t kill Kirk and not bring him back. My work-for-hire days were tremendously helpful in terms of teaching me plotting, structure, narrative, voice, all that. But there is also a price: you can be original (and all my stories are original; no one told me what to write), but you can’t go too far outside the box, or you’ll get axed by the higher-ups. That happened to me with one story: I liked it, the editor liked it, but the Paramount people, who hold the license, said no. The biggest favor my Trek editor ever did was to boot me out of the universe. He didn’t fire me; what he said was that I was getting beyond what the universe could accommodate and he wanted me to go out and write my own stuff. (He and I even talked about an original series.) So that editor really was all about nurturing writers and getting them started on their paths. Scared the hell out of me, though. I wanted to stay because Trek was safe. But he was right. Love that guy. 

JS: How do you get inspiration for your books? 
IJB: I know this is going to sound stupid, but it just happens. I’ll hear a news story, or maybe I’ve read a book that I really liked and think, Oh, I got to write me one of those. But there’s no one place. My books come together as a confluence of events, and probably a prepared mind. I’ve been astonished at how often I’ll find just the perfect article or radio listen when I’m either in the middle of a book or coming up with one. It’s a light-bulb moment. 7. How many queries did you send out before you got published? Oh, too many to count and certainly enough to stuff three mattresses. My favorite is the rejection I got for ASHES—a year after it came out ;-) 

JS: What was your favorite book to write, who is your favorite character, and why?
IJB: I know you’re going to think this is a cop-out, but I love all my books, all my characters. Whenever I write something, it’s because I’m compelled to do so and I put everything I have into making that story come alive. So I’m completely in love with that book and those characters at that moment. I can’t choose a favorite. 

JS: What’s your favorite and least favorite part of being a successful author? 
IJB: Favorite part: Actually, there are two. As you’ve noticed, I’m easily bored. What’s fun about being a writer is how much you get to learn. LOVE that. I’m such a geek. The other favorite part is I get to make stuff up and some of it sees the light of day. I love creating scenarios where I feel so deeply, so intensely, for so long. If I’m not sobbing at various points in my books, there is something wrong. Producing a book is about as emotional as it gets. I spent the whole last part of SHADOWS in tears, I really did. Least favorite: Again, there are two. One is letting a book go. I hate that. I feel horrible when I’m done. I have about a day of feeling good, like, wow, I did it. But then the depression sets in. I get this horrible empty feeling, and it’s torture until I start up the next book. In fact, that is one of my caveats: I am always about the next book. Having something else going or about to go or dreaming up the next scenario (something I sometimes do as I’m coming to the end of a book) cushions me against not only the depression of letting go but . . . What is my second least-favorite thing about being a writer: the anxiety that people will hate what I’ve done. I know I’ve done the best I can, but of course, I want people to like the damn book! So if an editor doesn’t or the book doesn’t sell, or it does and then I get just ripping, scathing reviews (and people can be so cruel), then I’m just . . . you know . . . okay, this is why I always carry a very sharp knife. Seriously, it’s vital for an author to always be looking ahead, to the next project. You can’t afford to obsess over that with which you have no control. Because, yes, it’s true: reviews are only private tastes made public, and there is no controlling for taste. Nothing I can do about that, except I always do my best. Can’t please everybody. I just have to remember that someone had enough faith in me and my story to buy it, and I had the courage to put it out there. 

JS: Do you have any advice for unpublished writers? 
IJB: Oh, I wrote a whole blog entry on this, so I’m gonna cheat: look here

 Random Questions
Vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate 
Coffee or tea? COFFEE! 
Beach or snow? Snow 
Last book read? The Last Policeman 
Favorite author? Whoever’s just told me a thumping good story 
Most played song on iPod? I don’t listen to music at all anymore. The only tracks on my iPod are audiobooks. 
Favorite movie? Gosh, I don’t know. I love and studied so many. I don’t know if I have a favorite. Just depends on my mood. Uhm . . . shoot . . . well, either Alien or Aliens. The first film is stylistically superb; the second is a wonderful adventure. 
Outliner or panster? Outliner. 
Flats or heels? Flats. My feet thank me daily. 
Lipstick or chapstick? If I’m on the trail? Chapstick. Lipstick attracts ‘skeeters and gets all over your water bottle. If I’m off trail? Lipstick, because a girl has to look her best and you never know when Captain Kirk might come around the next corner. 

Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe, former Air Force major, and an award-winning author of dozens of short stories and novels, including the critically acclaimed Draw the Dark (Carolrhoda Lab, 2010); Drowning Instinct (Carolrhoda Lab, 2011); Ashes, the first book in her YA apocalyptic thriller trilogy (Egmont USA, 2011) and the just-released second volume, Shadows. Forthcoming is The Sin-Eater’s Confession (Carolrhoda Lab, 2013) and the last installment in the ASHES trilogy, Monsters (Egmont USA, 2013). Ilsa lives with her family and other furry creatures near a Hebrew cemetery in rural Wisconsin. One thing she loves about the neighbors: They’re very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon. Visit her at Follow her on Facebook or Twitter @ilsajbick.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest

Today is the Genre Favorites Blogfest hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. One blogfest, four favorites!

We are supposed to list our favorite genre of: Movie, Music and Books. If you'd like to read more about this blogfest or see the other blogs participating, please go HERE.

Please forgive me for posting this so Internet was out yesterday. Thank you, Time Warner.


I would have to say my favorite genre of movie is action/adventure. I love a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Although, my favorite movie is The Princess Bride, which is not really in the action genre, per se.


I have very eclectic tastes in music. I like everything from jazz to country and blues to hip hop and even some rap. It really depends on my mood. Lately, I find myself listening to a lot of alternative. Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine, The Killers, The Black Keys etc. The song I can't get enough of this week is Too Close by Alex Clare.


As for genre of books, well anything goes there too. I like mystery, murder, suspense, romance, YA, chick lit, and more. I think my favorite is probably Romance, which would be my guilty pleasure. I love a good fairytale ending.

What about you? Do you like these genres? Heard this song? Extra points if you can tell me which commercial it was on.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Author Interview: Deborah Lynn Jacobs

Today for my author interview I have Deborah Lynn Jacobs. I met Deborah at a Writer's Workshop earlier this summer. She was filling in, at the last minute, for the speaker who was sick. It was scheduled to be a talk about YA. Unfortunately for Deborah wasn't aware she was going to be filling in until the last minute, so she didn't have any of her talks with her. It was, however, fortunate for us in the audience. It turned into a wonderful Q&A. We asked Deborah any and every question we could think of about writing, publishing, and querying. It was a very informative hour.

While there, I bought her book Choices. I loved it! It was a quick easy read, but the content was anything but easy. Kathleen has major choices to make and none of them are simple. It's a book that even after you put it down, you can't help but think back about the concept an story. It was wonderfully written.

Thanks, Deborah for answering all my questions!

JS:   You’ve had three books published. Can you tell us a little about them? 
DLJ:   Sure. The Same Difference is about a girl with Asperger’s syndrome, who has an autistic twin sister. The book explores the similarities and differences between the two girls, and between Casey and her high school peers. In Powers, two teens with latent psychic powers unlock each other’s potential, with disastrous results. Written in two voices, Powers is a story about power in all its guises. It’s a page-turner, with elements of mystery, suspense and a dash of romance. Choices explores the road not taken. Kathleen shifts between copies of herself in alternate universes. She both changes her life, and is changed by the choices she makes. In the end, she must make the most difficult choice of all. 

JS:   Choices is a book about a girl who shifts between alternate universes. How difficult was this to write? Did you do anything special to keep the universes separate? 
DLJ:  It was tricky keeping the characters separate and unique. As you know, the book starts with Kathleen, but splits into several versions of her as she shifts between copies of herself in alternate universes. I had to keep track of what each character was doing, even when they were off screen, because I would eventually come back to them. I used a flowchart, which I obsessed over, marked up with colored pens, stuck sticky notes on, erased, rewrote—you get the idea. By the end, I was juggling eight separate plot lines. I once woke up at three in the morning in a cold sweat, and had to run downstairs to make sure I hadn’t made a continuity error on my flow chart! 

JS:   What are you working on now? 
DLJ:  I’m currently working on a novel that explores privacy issues and government meddling in individual’s lives. It was sort of “future fiction” when I started it, but is rapidly becoming the evening news! 

JS:   How long, on average, does it take you to write a book? 
DLJ:  Depends. Six months to ten years, ha, ha. The ten years was for Powers. I was learning to write as I went along. I did so many revisions, and versions, and plot lines that it’s all a blur in my mind. Finally, I learned enough to get it right—or at least, semi-right. 

JS:   How did you get your inspiration for your books? 
DLJ:  I read a lot of science fiction when I was growing up. There wasn’t much written for young adults, so I went from juvenile fiction to adult novels. I loved the “what if?” nature of science fiction. I still love asking, “What if?” and going from there. 

JS:   When did you decide to write your first novel? 
DLJ:  My youngest was in junior kindergarten, half days. I’d see her off on the bus, walk the dog, then write until the bus dropped her off at noon. I wrote a novel in one school year, and revised it the next year. It was a terrible first novel, and didn’t sell, but the need to write was in my blood and I haven’t looked back. 

JS:   Have you always wanted to be a writer? 
DLJ:  That’s actually hard to answer. I wrote my first book when I was eight, but got stuck in the middle and stopped. I wrote for my school newspaper, and, later, in my job as a college counselor, I created a departmental newsletter and wrote a guide for adults returning to school. When we moved to a small town, I needed to cobble together a career. I taught at the college, worked at the employment center, and started writing for the town newspaper and some local magazines. Eventually, I got around to writing novels again. This time I finished them! 

JS:  How many query letters did you send out before you got an agent?
DLJ:  Somewhere between five and ten, I think. Some rejections were brutal. The worst, in my opinion, was a stock rejection, printed on a third of a piece of paper, and cut at an angle. Obviously, they’d printed a standard rejection three times on a sheet of paper, cut it into three (badly,) and sent it to three people. I mean, my work didn’t even warrant a whole piece of paper? Ouch. 

JS:   Is it easier to get published once you already have an agent and books published?
DLJ:  I think so. Many houses are closed to unsolicited queries, and will only look at agented submissions. One way to break in is to go to conferences. If you write for kids and teens you can join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators.) There are regional and national conferences, as well as local events. Usually, an agent or editor will accept submissions directly from conference attendees, allowing you to get your foot in the door of closed publishing houses. 

JS:   What advice do you have for any unpublished authors? 
DLJ:  I would say to polish your manuscript until it is the absolute best you can make it. If you have any doubts about it, don’t send it out yet. A critique group can be invaluable in helping you spot flaws in your own work.

 Random Questions

Vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate.
Coffee or tea? Both! Tea at breakfast, coffee at dinner.
Beach or snow? Snow.
Last book read? Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. Currently reading the second volume of Game of Thrones, by R. R. Martin.
Favorite author? That’s hard to answer! I read mostly YA novels, since that’s what I write. There are so many authors I admire: Gail Giles, Neal Shusterman, Alex Flinn, Jorden Sonnenblich, Brent Hartinger, Arthur Slade, Linda Sue Park, Cynthia Lord, Eric Luper…I could go on and on!
Most played song on iPod? Anything by Daughtry, David Cook, Rob Thomas—I’m partial to male vocalists.
Favorite movie? A Knight’s Tale, Fiddler on the Roof, Pretty Woman, Shanghai Noon, Romeo and Juliet (Franco Zeffirelli version,) Hamlet, First Knight, Galaxy Quest.
Outliner or panster? I start writing by the seat of my pants, but resort to an outline once I get lost in the story and need a plan.
Flats or heels? How about bare feet?
Lipstick or chapstick? Chapstick! I squirrel them all over the house, so I’m never without one.

Deborah Lynn Jacobs is the author of three books for young adults. Her most recent book, Choices, follows Kathleen as she slips between alternate copies of herself in parallel universes, trying to undo a tragic, irreversible choice. Choices was a Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, A Stellar Book Award winner, Sunburst Award Finalist, and was on the NYPL Books for the Teen Age list. Deborah is a transplanted Canadian, and has put down roots in Wisconsin. She is an active member of SCBWI, and enjoys outdoorsy things like gardening, bird watching, camping and canoeing.

Have you read any of Deborah's books? Any of them sound like something you'd like to read? Interested in being a part of my author interview? Just shoot me an e-mail.


Monday, September 10, 2012

What's Going On?

GUTGAA is going strong and today over at Deana Barharts's blog is the pitch polish. So if you think you know a thing or two about query's head on over there and give some constructive critiques. There's a little over a hundred of them in all different genres. Go HERE

WRiTE CLUB over at DL's blog is still battling on! If you haven't checked it out yet, you should. It pits writer against writer and only the strong survive. Go HERE.

And last but not least, Natalie over at Literary Rambles is interviewing Matthew MacNish from the QQQE's daughter Mady. So if you get a minute run over there and show her some blogger love. Go HERE.

How was your weekend? DO anything fun. Have an announcement? Are you participating in GUTAA or WRiTE CLUB?

Have a great week. See you Wensday!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

IWSG: Editing Got You Down?

The first Monday of every month some of us like to get together for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a wonderful supportive group started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, where writers can talk about all the things that make us insecure. If you'd like to find out more about it or see who else is participating please go HERE. If you are visiting my blog for the GUTGAA, it's the next post down.

This past week has been especially hard for me in terms of insecurities. For two reasons, I think.

One, I'm neck deep in edits and well, when all I'm looking at day after day are all the things that are wrong with my MS, it gets a little disheartening. I try to remind myself that I want these comments. I want to make it the best I possibly can and if no one told me the things that were wrong with it, I couldn't fix them. But, It's still discouraging to stare at all the things that I've done wrong.

Two, Thursday, Matthew over at QQQE featured my query letter. (Thank you so much Matthew!) I got some wonderful feedback and some great suggestions on how to make it better. It was however, the first time I've really put anything regarding AWAKENED out there. I got a few comments that were a little disheartening and made me question myself and my story, for about a day.

Then, I talked to some great friends, thank you, and they helped me realize it doesn't matter. I didn't make up the story. The story chose me to tell it. I know that there will be haters out there no matter what and I just have to grow my skin a little thicker. I love my story. I love my characters. And in the end... THAT is what really matters.

So, I'm buckling down, getting my edits done and redoing my query letter. Making them both the best I possibly can. And reminding myself that I'm doing this because I have to and I love it.

And if you believe in fate... then maybe you think it was looking out for me, 'cause tonight at dinner... here was my fortune cookie.

What do you think? Was it fate? Does editing get you down? Have these same issues? Any advice?

Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA Meet and Greet

This is the first week of GUTGAA- Gearing Up To Get an Agent. It's a month long blogfest hosted by Deana Barnhart. If you'd like to know more about it or see who else is participating please go to Deana's blog. For the first week we are doing a meet and greet. Where we get to know a little about each other. Thank you so much, Deana for hosting this great blogfest!

A little about me... I'm married and have three kids. When I'm not writing, I work as a nurse. I've been writing/blogging for about a year now, so still pretty new. I just finished my first YA novel and am working on the edits while trying to get my query letter just perfect.

Questions for the Meet and Greet 
  •  Where do you write?      I write just about anywhere. Have laptop will write. I don't have a work space per se. My favorite spots to write are my chair in my living room and my back porch.
  •  Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?      There's an end table next to my chair.
  •  Favorite time to write?       At night after the kids go to bed. It's quiet and I can concentrate.
  •  Drink of choice while writing?      Water or if I have a particularly long day I may have a glass of wine. Which can sometimes get me into trouble.
  •  When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?      It depends on my mood. I have a writing play list that I listen to, but sometimes I need quiet.
  •  What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?      I was lying in bed one night and started to daydream. I wanted my remote, but didn't want to get out of bed. It spiraled from there.
  •  What's your most valuable writing tip?      Don't let anyone tell you, you can't. If it truly is your passion go after it. The only thing stopping you is you. Write, write and write. The more you write the better and easier it gets.

Well, there's my answers. What about you? Are you participating in GUTGAA? Have any of the same answers? Hope you have a great week!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guess What?

Guess what?

 Today I'm over at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment. Okay, I'm not over there, but my query is. You heard me right my query, can you believe it?

I actually am starting to think about querying. I never thought I would get this far. It's my first attempt at a query letter ever. I did warn Matthew it might be rather horrific. So, head over there and let me know what you think. Hopefully it doesn't send you running and screaming from Matthew's blog.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Uprising Cover Reveal

It's my pleasure to be a part of Jessica Therrien's Cover Reveal for book two in her Children of the Gods series, Uprising. I have been patiently waiting for it, after reading and loving book one Oppression. It will be released in paperback and Ebook by ZOVA books, February 19, 2013. So, here it is... Yay!

Book Links:

We left everything but the weapons. Clothes, food, toothpaste. There wasn’t time for things that weren’t essential to escape. The five of us went on foot in a direction that was meaningless to me. I had never seen what was outside of the edges of the safe haven, not since I’d been here.
When Mac stopped abruptly after our fifteen-minute trek into the woods, we all froze at once, bodies poised and ready to attack, eyes searching for threats.
“We’re here,” Mac announced. “What should we expect Marcus?”
I had never heard Dr. Nickel called by his first name, and it made me realize he wasn’t as untouchable as I had imagined. Just because he was here, didn’t mean we were safe.
            “I don’t know,” he answered. “Maybe an army, maybe nothing. Depends on where they are.”
            “Everyone best get down on the ground just in case,” Mac decided with a nod. “Weapons ready.”
            As I lay belly down in the dirt, I noticed Dr. Nickel pull a gun from his belt, and my stomach gave a heave.
“When I remove the haven walls, there will be a van. Everyone get in back. If anything goes wrong…” Mac paused, uncomfortable at the thought. “It’s been nice knowin’ ya.”

Jessica Therrien is the author of the young adult paranormal fiction series Children of the Gods. Book one in the series, Oppression, was published by ZOVA Books in February of 2012 and became a Barnes & Noble best-seller shortly after its release. The second book in the series, Uprising, will be available in February of 2013.

Aside from her Children of the Gods series, Jessica’s work can also be found in a published collection of flash fiction stories called Campaigner Challenges 2011.Out of over 350 submissions her story, The Soulless, won first place for people’s choice and fourth place in the judging round of Rachael Harrie’s Writing Campaign Challenge. Her story, Savedis also available as part of the anthology.

Jessica spent most of her life in the small town of Chilcoot, California, high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In this town of nearly 100 residents, with no street lights or grocery stores, there was little to do but find ways to be creative. Her mother, the local English teacher, inspired her to do all things artistic, and ultimately instilled in her a love for language.

In 2003, Jessica attended California State University Long Beach where her passion for language found her studying Chinese, and in 2005 she moved to Taiwan to study abroad. From 2005 to 2006 Jessica was fully immersed in the Chinese language as she attended National Taiwan University, and in 2008 she graduated from San Diego State University magna cum laude.

Jessica currently lives in Chula Vista with her husband and is working on book three in her Children of the Godsseries.

Author Links:

Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than the average person, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Among so many of her kind, she should not be very remarkable--except for the prophecy. Some believe she will put an end to traditions, safeguarded by violence, which have oppressed her people for centuries. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning--and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.

What do you think of the cover? Have you read Oppression? Planning on reading Uprising?

On a side note... This Friday is the year anniversary of my first blog post. Can you believe I've been blogging for a year? I would just like to say thank you for your support and comments over the past year. Thank you!!! Here's a cupcake for you. 
photo credit