As part of Never Too Old for YA Books and my Indie Month celebration, I am honored to welcome author Jessica Roberts to my blog today. Jessica is author of:
Author: Jessica Roberts
Publication Date: February 17, 2012
Blurb from Goodreads:
Bright, spunky Heather Robbins has escaped her small hometown and is anxiously beginning her freshman year of college. Rising above her rocky childhood, she’s found a place where good things are finally starting to happen: her own private apartment, refreshing college classes, and an intense attachment to a mysterious and rugged classmate, Nick Richards.
But when her dreamy college life turns out to be nothing more than a wonderful dream while resting in a coma, questions threaten.
Now, Heather must press forward to unlock the real past, and find the answers buried deep in her mind. What she unlocks instead is a roller coaster ride through flashbacks, embellished memories, and a whirlwind romance.
And when it’s all over and she comes face to face with the truth, will she lose everything she’s fallen in love with?
You can buy Jessica's book at these places:
And a little about the author:
JESSICA ROBERTS grew up in the San Francisco, California Bay Area where she spent most of her time playing sports alongside her six siblings. She was crowned Miss Teen California her senior year of high school, and went on to Brigham Young University where she graduated in Human Development. Her love of family, church, writing, athletics, and singing and dancing keeps her life busy and fulfilled. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and three children.
And without further ado, here is what we wanted to know about Jessica!
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was a really good BS’er in high school; my English teachers can attest to that - ha. And I’ve always been a fast writer; I can fill a greeting card in under a minute – seriously! And I think editing has always been a part of me; I’ve been known to take a red pen to the newspaper.
Despite this, it wasn’t so much that I ever “realized” I was a writer. It was more of a decision I made.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
If I compiled all the writing days together, it probably took about 4 months to write Reflection. But since I wrote in spurts, here and there, whenever I had time, taking the summers off in the process, I would say it took about 3-4 years from start to finish. I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way. It’s hard enough to sustain some semblance of fluency even if you write every day.
3. What do you think makes a great story?
I'm a romance junkie, which is a bit odd since I'm not really a romantic person—I don't do sappy very well. I like male leads that are rugged and masculine, and female leads that are spunky, if not quietly intelligent.
I like characters that are infectious and relatable, and most often I find myself connecting with them through dialogue. So I would say clever and witty conversation is a must in a good story. Or, at the very least, dialogue that is true to life and not stilted or flat.
4. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I take summers off to be with my kids. But when they're in school, I write from 10-3 in our little home-office. Once in a while I can't stop, so after I put the kids to bed I stay up all night and write; just me, my computer, and an endless supply of candy. About three times a year I go to my parents home in California for the weekend and write all day (taking a daily deep-dish pizza break at BJ's with my mom - yum!).
5. How do you balance family and writing?
I don’t. There’s not, and there never will be, an even distribution of my time between the two; family is always first. But how do I fit in writing? I’m a night owl, so that helps. Mostly, I write when my kids are at school.
6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I’ve always had an active imagine. It’s bothersome at times, especially late at night when I want to fall asleep and my thoughts won’t let me. I can’t tell you how many times I had to tell the characters in Reflection to shut-up so I could get some sleep.
I like to let my thoughts hover on the edges of reality. So I guess that’s where my ideas stem from.
7. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I once read an article where an author said they write for their own enjoyment, and that someone should never write for others, only for themselves. I’ve sort of adopted this philosophy.
And I figure if I write a story that appeals to me, it’s bound to appeal to at least a few other people in the world.
8. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
So far, three. One, a children’s picture book, two, an autobiographical account of spotlight moments during my reign as Miss Teen California, and three, Reflection.
My favorite so far is Reflection because it’s a love story.
9. Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Yes and no.
Yes, in that they are loosely based on a combination of people. For instance, Liz (the supporting female lead in Reflection) has a personality based on my best friend. But her look is based on a neighborhood friend that my daughter grew up with.
No, in that no character is based on any one person, and mostly he or she is created solely from my imagination.
10. Do you have a favorite place you love to write?
Yep: in front of the fireplace at my mom’s house in California.
11. How hard is it to get published?
I’m laughing. Maybe because I’ve written a gazillion query letters and I still don’t think I’ve gotten it right. Maybe because of the thirty form rejection letters I’ve received. Maybe because not a single agent or publisher has ever read three words of my manuscript. Or maybe because the market is saturated with unpublished manuscripts right now.
Luckily, self-publishing is becoming more popular and user-friendly. Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to get a self-published book out there so people know about it—which can be soooooooo frustrating!
Publishing companies have marketing tactics and promotional connections that bring their books to the masses fast, and those avenues are just not as readily available to self-published authors. It sucks, but it’s the truth.
True story: I got a hold of Amazon one day and asked what it would take to be a part of their “featured books” email blast. The rep. told me they are reserved for companies that have contracts with them – namely the big publishing companies. However, there are base packages with a little advertizing corner somewhere on the Amazon website, starting at $10k. No biggie. Only the price of A CAR! hahaha
Thank heavens for Goodreads!!! (loud, shouting shout-out!)
12. What do your family and friends think about your books?
Here are a few short accounts that answer this question:
While writing Reflection, every time my brother saw me he would ask, “How’s Heather doing?” (Heather is the female lead in Reflection). It really motivated me to keep writing!
After finishing the first draft of Reflection, I asked my well read, English-majoring, critical-eyed, honest and blunt, and very intelligent sister-in-law to read it and she told me I was a talented writer (which meant the world coming from her).
Picture this: My husband and I are at Chili’s for dinner, an 8-10 female-membered book group sits at the table next to ours, my husband randomly interrupts their conversation to plug an awesome new YA book called Reflection, and I and my beet-red face want nothing more than to hide under the table. I made him promise to never do that again (unless I wasn’t in the same city!).
When Reflection made it on the top 100 list on Amazon my mom cried.
So I guess you could say my family is very supportive!
13. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I like to be challenged.
For the past ten years I’ve gotten into jogging. I’m not a naturally good long distance runner, so I think that’s what keeps me going. Last year I ran my first marathon. I puked my guts out when I finished . . . but I finished!
14. Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers better themselves and their craft? If so, what are they?
Probably the same thing everyone else says: Read a lot and allow a lot of people to critique your writing.
One thing I like to do is reread my favorite books and instead of focusing on the plot, I focus on the writing style. I ask myself how the author prefaces a climatic scene, what brings about the tension in a particularly scary or intense part, why and how the author uses comedy relief in specific spots, etc. I’ve learned a lot by doing this.
15. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Initially, I wanted to be a rock star. But it’s changed so many times since then, I’ve lost track.
I’m an overachiever. But not in the wake-up-at-4-every-morning-to-practice-my-violin type of way. More the I’m-going-to-conquer-the-world type of way. The former is more effective, but the latter has sure made life exciting!
16. What are your favorite books and which authors inspire you?
To be honest, I wasn’t the book-reading type when I was younger. I read cliff-notes (sorry for the swear word) to write my high school essays, and watched movies to be taken on adventures.
Obviously that changed somewhere along the way. But because of my past, now every well-written book becomes my new favorite.
17. For an aspiring writer what do you feel are certain do's and don’t’s for getting their material published?
DO edit your manuscript a hundred thousand times
DON’T stop trying even when the rejection letters flood your inbox.
DO learn how to take constructive criticism. No one is a perfect writer; there is always more to learn.
And finally, DON’T stop writing. I always tell people that the difference between aspiring writers and authors is about 300 pages.
18. What are you working on now?
Reaction, the sequel to Reflection.
When I’m done with that, I will start on The Smarts Saga, another New Adult series with action, adventure, and a star-crossed romance that will leave you wanting more! (plug, plug - ha)
Thanks for letting me share!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Jessica, it's been great having you here!