I write stories and books for young adults. Check out my stories in Cicada magazine. Look for my first novel, THIN SPACE (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster) Sept. 10, 2013. I also review books for Cover to Cover Bookstore in Columbus Ohio, and parent two teens, and sporadically clean my house in a frenzy.
PS: my rating average is high because I only take the time to review books I like.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Connecticut and shocked everyone I knew by going off to college in Tennessee. There, I met a sweet Southern boy and we’ve been together ever since. Now we live in a small town in Ohio with our two kids, a puppy and an old cat.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
Mom stuff, mostly. Running errands. Cleaning (or, who am I kidding here?– NOT cleaning) Gardening. And reading reading reading!
3. Is there anyone who has influenced/encouraged you to write? Who and how/why?
I’ve had so many people along the way who encouraged my writing–from a third grade teacher who tacked my stories on the bulletin board to an English professor who told me never to quit. I also am grateful to my mom, who’s loved every single thing I’ve ever written (regardless of how terrible), and my husband and kids who grin and bear too many nights of chocolate chips pancakes for dinner when I’m on a deadline.
4. Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with your first piece of fiction?
It’s a long sad story, but the gist of it is that Thin Space is the sixth novel I’ve written, which means lots of writing and rewriting of other manuscripts that will probably never see the light of publishing day. It took a year of submitting Thin Space to agents to find an agent to represent it and another two years of submitting to editors to find the right publishing home. There were moments that I never thought the deal would come together, and now, honestly, there are days when I am still pinching myself that it has.
I started writing at age seven and wrote my first full length book when I was fifteen. At the time I thought it was beautiful and tragic and heartbreaking. Now, I don’t even count it as one of the books I’ve written. But it was good practice.
6.How did you choose the genre you write in?
When I was in college I wrote literary adult stories and assumed that later I would write novels for adults. My first story was published in Cicada Magazine, which is a literary magazine for teens. The voice in that story felt right to me–I think I had tapped into my old teen self to write it. I started reading lots of YA books and realized what awesome stories they are. There’s something about being a teenager that is so immediate and important. You’re figuring out who you are and who you want to be. You’re questioning your beliefs and trying out different viewpoints. Everything is laid out ahead of you–a whole future of possibilities and choices.
7.What inspires you?
Reading. Observing. Embarrassing my children by eavesdropping on conversations…
8.Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Not writer’s block exactly. I always have ideas and I am fairly self-disciplined. I write a certain number of words per day when I am drafting. My problem is trying to tune out distractions and get started each day. Once I do, I can usually push through any resistance.
9.If you had to pick between traditional publishing and Indie, which would you choose and why?
I like having a traditional publisher behind my work. They paid me money up front and they want the book to succeed as much as I do. Plus, they have the distribution network to get it out there.
10.How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I’m on social media a lot–the usual places: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads. I keep a blog where I review books and write about writing/book-related stuff. I just dipped a toe into Tumblr and I love it but probably am not using it effectively yet. I don’t think that writers should go onto these sites, though, and simply hawk their books. The real purpose is to become part of a community of other writers and readers.
11.Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I am working on a book now that I have been revising on and off for the past ten years. Each time I “finish” it, I feel that it is getting closer and I still have hope that I will get it right, eventually (whatever “right” means) and find it a publishing home.
12.Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Thin Space is about a tormented, grieving teen boy named Marsh who lost his identical twin in a car accident. Marsh has heard about the Celtic idea of thin spaces, places where the wall between our world and the world of the dead is thinner. He gets obsessed with the idea–thinking that if he can find a thin space, he can resolve some issues he had with his brother. The trick to finding a thin space is you have to be barefoot, so Marsh walks around barefoot, freaking out his family and friends who are trying to be sympathetic but don’t quite understand what he’s doing and have no clue what other secrets he’s been keeping from them.
13.Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
When I was teaching high school English a million years ago, I had a set of identical twins in my classroom one year. They hated when people mixed them up, and that idea of people not quite knowing who you are resonated with me and still does.
14.What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite chapter is when Marsh and his new friend Maddie (who is helping him on his quest to find a thin space) finally figure out the truth about thin spaces. When I was writing the book I didn’t know what they were going to discover. For a few days it was almost as if I were reading a book rather than writing one. I raced along, writing as fast as I could, so I could find out what was going to happen.
15.How did you come up with the title for your current novel?
I read a magazine article about Celtic thin places, and I misread the term and thought it said thin spaces.
16.Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I hope so! I have a sequel waiting in the wings and several other books that I wrote before and after I wrote Thin Space.
17.Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I love the idea of things not being what they seem. This idea tends to show up in every story I write.
18.What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I’ve been writing and submitting for YEARS and have gotten so many rejections that I can characterize them by degree of soul-crushing pain. The form rejections are awful because the rejecter can’t even be bothered to give you a specific criticism. The personal rejections are hard too, though. Here you know that you’re getting closer, but still are missing the mark. I once got a rejection from an editor who said she liked my manuscript but didn’t love it. These rejections are good practice for the inevitable bad reviews you’ll get when you are published. Worst one I read just the other day (and I quote): “Boring. Sooooo boring.”
Best one, a starred review from Kirkus that called the same book: “Brutal and brilliant.”
19.Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
It’s the strangest feeling in the world to think that people are out there who’ve been entertained and surprised and moved by something I’ve written. So, to anyone who has picked up Thin Space and taken a chance on it, THANK YOU for reading!
Jody is offering up 5 copies of THIN SPACE
Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only
Giveaway will run from September 3rd, 2013 to September 10th, 2013
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