And her amazing cover …
How about some Q & A with our awesome author? Please welcome my agency sister Theresa Paolo!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What was your inspiration?
From a very young age I’ve always wanted to be some sort of writer. It went from an author to a journalist to an advice columnist to a columnist to a poet back to a journalist and then back to writing books. It’s kind of always been a part of me. I wrote my first book when I was six or seven. Granted it was a picture book but the story was still there.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It used to take me a month to write a first draft. Now it takes me 3-4. Add in revisions and I’d say about six months total.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Do you have a specific place and/or time you like to write?
Oh I wish! I have to squeeze in writing whenever I can. Usually after work, I can manage a couple of hours. Friday night and Saturday are usually my best bet. I like to write either on my couch or I take my laptop to my parents’ house and sit on their deck. And if I’m going somewhere on the weekends, my boyfriend drives and I’m in the passenger seat with my laptop.
How do you balance family and writing?
I’m lucky that I don’t have kids and I can be selfish with my time. I don’t know how you parents do it. Though, I still have a hard time balancing since I try to write whenever I have free time which usually means cancelling on friends and holding my finger up while my boyfriend is trying to talk to me, just so I can get the sentence out of my head and onto the screen.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Everywhere. The news. A magazine headline. A conversation I over hear. They just pop into my head at the most random times. I keep about three notebooks in my bag at all times so when one smacks into me I can jot it down and not forget. Because if I say I will remember it chances are I won’t. (Never) Again came to me when I was watching breaking news about a school shooting.
How hard is it to get published?
HARD! Lol There are cases where it comes easy to people and you think that’ll be you. Sadly that’s usually not the case. It took me five years to get an agent. I queried five different books and had over 200 rejections. But I refused to give up. I kept going. It really does only take one yes. My time on submission was much shorter than trying to get an agent. After three months on submission I signed with Intermix Berkley Penguin.
Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers better themselves and their craft? If so, what are they?
Write. That is the best advice. You can read book after book about writing, but if you’re not actually doing any writing you’re not going to improve. So write and make mistakes, but learn from those mistakes. Find a critique partner or 9 (like me) one(s) that is honest and isn’t afraid to hurt your feelings and will help you get your story to where it needs to be while holding your hand and telling you you’re awesome don’t give up. Also critiquing other peoples work will do wonders for your own writing. When critiquing you are finding problems and when you go to write you become more aware of those things.
What are your favorite books and which authors inspire you?
Oh I have so many. Anything Sarah Dessen, Simone Elkeles, Toni Blake, Susan Mallery and Kristan Higgins, Marie Force and Cassie Mae. I also love Erin McCarthy’s True Believer’s series, J. Lynn’s Wait For You series, okay I’m going to stop! Inspiration would definitely be Sarah Dessen. R.L. Stine and Hailey Abbott.
I actually hated reading in school. Hated it. Then I discovered Goosebump books and then Fear street and I actually enjoyed reading. When I got a little older I discovered Hailey Abbott and then years later I found Sarah Dessen. Her books are what inspired me. I started out writing YA contemporary and it’s from there I branched out and discovered new books, new writers, new genres and new categories.
Last summer before (Never) Again was released I went to BEA in NYC and before we even checked in I spotted the Penguin book truck. I was so excited I ran over and as I was getting closer I stopped dead. My mom caught up to me and was like why did you stop. And I was like OMG! That is Sarah Dessen. OMG. The next thing I know I’m standing there completely fan girling and telling her she’s the reason I started writing. She was so sweet and didn’t hide behind the truck and try to get away from my babbling. Later I tweeted a pic of us and she tweeted me back saying she couldn’t wait to read my book. I died. It was the best day ever. She is my inspiration and meeting her was a dream come true.
Do you read reviews before reading a book? Have you read the reviews on your books? What are the effects of a good versus a bad review on your writing?
Sometimes I do. But I also used to be that girl who would flip to the last page and read before even starting. I stopped doing that, but I still tend to read reviews. Have I read reviews of my own books? Sadly yes. I’m a huge believer that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Everyone of us has different tastes and likes and dislikes and I always encourage honesty. However, bad reviews still hurt. No matter how you look at it they burn. Bad.
Bad reviews can be discouraging. They can also make you question every little detail in your writing. It’s hard not to let it bother you. The good reviews obviously do the total opposite. They encourage and make me feel like I’m cut out for this. I can do this. I got it. I think I’ll always look at my reviews. It’s really hard for me not to look. It’s like when they tell you not to touch something because it’s hot and you touch it anyway. I just can’t help myself.
For an aspiring writer, what do you feel are certain do’s and don’ts for getting their material published?
Do accept constructive criticism.
Do know the difference between constructive criticism and just criticism.
Do get a critique partner
Do follow the law of BIC (Butt in Chair)
Don’t make a bad name for yourself on social media
Don’t think you are the next J.K. Rowling
Don’t reply to agents with any negative comments towards them or question their credibility (You’d be surprised at the horror stories I’ve heard. And agents talk.)
Don’t give up
What are you working on now?
What am I not working on? I’m finishing up True Love and Magic Tricks with Becca Ann under my pen name Tessa Marie. It’s a prequel and a novella to our Bed Series.
Kaylee Sperling is a social butterfly with a million acquaintances, but no real close friends. The closest thing she has is her pet gerbil, Mr. Pippi, and 150 notes from a random classmate who won’t reveal who he is. But she’s crossing her fingers it’s the self-proclaimed magician and total hottie, Nate Hatfield. Nate needs an assistant for the upcoming talent show. When he spots Kaylee folding herself in half during gym class stretches, he nervously asks for help with his magic act. But after a disappearing mishap, resulting in an accident with one of Kaylee’s only friends, Mr. Pippi, Nate must figure out how not only to keep his assistant, but someone who’s come to mean much more to him than his illusions.
I’m also working on a rewrite for a YA contemporary book about bullying, I’m working on two NA’s and am hoping I’ll be able to continue the Again series. I have two other YA’s that I bounce back to. Oh and I have another YA contemporary I’m editing.
Want more info? I thought you might …
Get your copy of (Once) Again here!