What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
It has been a literary pilgrimage since I published my first children’s book. I did a lot of research before but now that is out there, I feel like there is still so much to learn. I am continuing to work on my writing skills, my short essay skills and marketing of my book. It is a continuous learning journey.
What is the first book that made you cry?
The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Alborn. Its actually one of my favorite books and I've read it twice.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I write when I am inspired and if I try to push myself when I am not then I get really frustrated and it wont work. Also, if I am tired or writing for longer than an hour it gets really difficult. Breaks always help with this.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I am trying to build a series with my first book. Each book is going to be a different adventure with the two main characters, and introduce new characters. Also, each one will have a theme of a social issue little ones with Autism face.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It really gave me an itch to write more and publish more. I don’t think it really changed my process but it definitely inspire me to write more.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A cat =) they are my favorite animals and I would say a white Bengal tiger specifically would be my spirit animal.
What did you edit out of your books? (keep it family-friendly, please)
I think the only thing edited out was the name of Harper’s mom. The way it read it just did not work or make sense to have a name for her.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
I would give up watching television. If it meant I could focus better and write better then definitely would.
What is your favorite childhood book?
There’s a lot lol. I would say the Eric Carle books are my favorite. I love reading those to clients. I love how simple they are but provide a lesson and their illustrations are different and beautiful. I am building a large collection of all of his books.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Just being inspired. If I sit down to write but I don’t have inspiration and the start of an idea in my head then forget it the words wont come out.
What is the easiest part of your writing process?
Long as I have the idea in my head writing is very easy and just flows. I tend to black out anything else around me and just write. Then when I come out of that sort of trance I read what I wrote and see how much I wrote.
A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
I would not say that authors are socially inept. I would say that inspiration can hit at any time and if there are deadlines then it can be difficult to find that inspiration. It may seem weird to want to go right at a moments notice because that’s when you got the inspiration but that is really how it can be for authors. Then anything not considered ‘normal’ is seen as weird by others not in the writing world.
When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be an author?
I have wanted to write a book since I was seven years old. I used to write short stories and it kind of took a back seat because of college. Then seeing the same pattern over and over in my career just pushed me into realizing I need to do something to help change this. It really hit at work I can use my writing as a platform to make a change.
Who are your biggest literary influences?
I would say Neil Gaiman. He has this way with words and taking you into a different world that is just mesmerizing.
What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book? Why?
The Notebook. It captures you from the minute it starts. The actors just make it seem so real and you can feel the emotion throughout the book and the movie. It really was moving and is something that will always stick with me. Being able to feel like you are there and this is really happening is so rare especially when it is a book adaptation.
How did it feel when your first book got published? How did you celebrate?
It felt amazing!! I felt like I was on cloud 9. =) Celebrating in the traditional sense did not happen because of Covid-19. But I was literally jumping up and down and walked around holding my book, lol. I also called and texted everyone I know and put it all over my social media. Just having everyone’s support meant so much it was an amazing way to celebrate.
What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about authors?
How normal we really can be. I follow Dean Koontz on Facebook and when he answers questions it is funny. It is not what you would expect from him and I think that is something people forget. I think people associate authors with their books and characters so much they forget we are actually just people too and can have a life and personality outside of our books.
When it comes to research for your books, are you a hunter or a gatherer? Talk about your research process.
I am a researcher or hunter as you would say. I love to do research and will investigate as much as I can before I write something into my book. For me, research is easy. I use my school search engine, Google Scholar and I have also researched other books. Now I have all this social media I have been researching other authors with books that are similar topics to see what they believe in. I want to be as authentic as possible with my writing. I also use a lot of my experience from my career. I will go through my old notes or Pinterest ideas I have saved and used for work as inspiration too.
Could you be housemates with your characters? Why or why not?
Absolutely!! My one character, Emma, is inspired by a client I had and this was a client I absolutely adored. I think it would be amazing to live with both my clients and see the world through their eyes.
What’s your typical writing routine or schedule?
My writing routine is I turn on the music on my Spotify, typically the Daddy Yankee channel. It is one of my favorite and really helps me focus. I have tried writing without music and get distracted by other noises. For some reason when I put music on the words just flow.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. How do you recharge?
Recharging for me would be spending time with my cats or getting a good hard workout in. I always feel energized after I workout and it really helps clear my head.
Do you prefer music or silence when you write? Do you have a writing playlist? What’s on it?
Definitely music. My favorite channel to listen to when I am writing is Daddy Yankee. I also have a channel called faves on Spotify. It has all late 90s and early 2000’s music on it that I love. Having either one really helps me focus and for some reason I basically block the music out and go to town writing. Then I'll realize I do not know what song is on and kind of snap out of it. It is always interesting to me when this happens to see how many songs went by and see what and how much I have written. I can honestly write four or five pages of a paper for school or finish one of the next books in the series in an hour with music on.
Which celebrity would you choose to narrate your audiobook?
Someone with an accent! I love a good accent and I think that would be fun for my book. I think anyone would be amazing to narrate it.
What well-known author, living or dead, do you wish could be your mentor? Why?
Neil Gaiman. He is my favorite author of all time; I have read majority of his books twice and honestly, by accident, lol; though I have not minded reading them a second time. He just takes you to such a magical place with his writing, I would love to learn his process and how he does that. I would love to learn how he becomes inspired and thinks of such different ideas for his books.
What is your favorite of the six senses (touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, intuition) to write about, why?
I would say sight. So far in my book one of the main characters cannot talk and really must rely on her sense of sight. If she did not have that it would be difficult for her to communicate the way I wrote it in the book. I think our sight is such an important sense. Even if one other sense is diminished, we can still use our sense of sight to communicate through different things like communication devices.
What is a favorite location you’ve written about? Have you visited that place? How did you choose which details to include?
In my second book that will go into publication later this month, I write about the girls going on an adventure to the zoo for the first time. Anyone that knows me knows how much I adore animals and watching all the shows on Animal Planet. There is a change in the way zoos are being portrayed now and it is to take down the bars and make the habitats more natural. I absolutely love this and going to the zoo has always been one of my favorite activities. When I wrote the second book, I would always think of the Bronx Zoo. I have been there, and they have a show about them on Animal Planet that is amazing. I chose what details to put in based on some of my favorite animals and some different zoos I have visited. My illustrations will most likely be a mix of the different zoos I have visited and seen on the shows on the Animal Planet too.
Travel back in time (without negative effects for you or the timeline) what year do you visit? Why?
Probably 2013 and my last trip to Florida before my grandfather became sick and passed. It was the last time I got to see and spend time with him and it is how I remember him.
What is something about your hero or villain that drove their character, but you didn’t specifically tell your reader?
Something that drives my main character, Harper, is determination. It is something that I hoped readers would be able to see. I really wanted her to be strong and open and determined to face any obstacle. That her strength would be inspiring to other children and families.
Have you ever resuscitated a project you'd shelved? What helped it work better the second time around?
Yes, my second book. I started it and then it sat for some months, maybe three or four. Then when COVID hit, I had the time to really sit down and work on it. To finish writing it and ensure it was exactly how I wanted it to be.
What do the words “literary success” mean to you? How do you picture it?
To me literary success means that my book is not just selling well, but that it is inspiring families. It would mean that families encourage their children to befriend that little one at school that is different, whatever different may look like. I picture it as my book being read in my old elementary school library to a class. I also see that families are buying every book in the series and messaging me for details on the next one to come out.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
My current project is going to be getting my second book in the series into publication. That is my goal for 2021. Besides that, I have the fourth book written, and I want to finish that manuscript as well and move onto beginning to write the fifth book.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring authors?
I have had people reach out to me for advice. The best advice I give is to do your research. Research the format of a book and research your ideas. The more research and background you have the more real your story line can come off. I would also research other authors who have written similar books. One thing I did that was recommended to me is research books with a similar theme to see where there is a need. That was huge for me so that I did not write something that had been done a ton of times before.
I just had someone reach out to me about what to do now they are writing. The advice I gave them is investigate publications that publish short stories and essays like vocal and medium. I really wish I had known about them when I first started writing. They have really helped me figure out what I want to do with my writing. I had written two other stories, but I was not sure If I wanted them to be books or short stories and having those platforms helped me realize my decision to make them short stories was the right one. I also feel like they are good grounds to test out ideas and see what other people are writing.
Do not ever get discouraged. Writing a book is half the battle. Next is writing a query letter and finding publishers and agents to send your book to. No matter how many rejection letters I get I still send out queries. I love that I am self-published and would recommend it to anyone too that is trying to become a serious author. Just because you received a rejection letter doesn’t mean your book isn’t good, it just means self-publishing may be the better option. Just don’t ever give up, any dream can be achieved.
Please provide links and/or instructions about how readers can purchase signed copies of your books.
My website: www.lisajayauthor.com
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org
People can follow my series and journey on any or all my social media. I am very interactive and do sales all the time. I can be sent a DM for a signed and discounted book any time or people can send me a direct email. I love hearing from people and am happy to provide a discount with a signed book for anyone.
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