December 1, 2016

A+B= Lillis

Posted in author interviews, book birthdays, Books at 12:20 PM by Rockin' Rita

Happy Book Birthday

First thing is first, yesterday was the highly anticipated release day for J.C. Lillis’s 3rd published novel A&B. So, being honest I haven’t yet read any of her 3 books but I know without even reading any reviews on any of them that they are all fantastic! I highly recommend buying them all, if only for their brilliant covers!

aandb

All about A&B

  • 318 pages
  • format: ebook (for now)
  • musical rivalry
  • cute bantery
  • f/f romance
  • AND Brandon & Abel from How To Repair A Mechanical Heart!!!!!

Eighteen-year-old Barrie Krumholtz is a super-tall optimist hell-bent on a single goal: securing a slot on Pop University, a reality show for singer-songwriters helmed by her #1 musical idol. When she humiliates herself on national TV and loses a spot in the finals to smug balladeer Ava Alvarez, the door to Barrie’s well-hidden dark side swings open. Never a quitter, she uses her bitter envy of Ava to shape a bold new artistic direction, and people love it. But when Ava ropes her into a secret collaboration, it sparks feelings neither girl expected—feelings that might threaten their creative identities and distract them from their professional goals. Can love and ambition live side by side? Is happiness an art-killer? They’ll figure it out with the help of a blue guitar named Fernando, a keyboard named Rosalinda, and a few new friends who feel like home.

(Rated R for Rivalry, Romance, and Really Neat Subplot featuring Brandon and Abel from How to Repair a Mechanical Heart.)

Now, for the fun part…an exclusive interview with the author!!

Lots of Lillis

The Procrastinate Reader: I learned through your Twitter (@jclillis) that your first name is Jennifer and middle is Catherine. If you were to change what the initials J.C. stand for, what would they be and why?

J.C. Lillis: Jiminy Cricket. I would like to be a walking conscience. I think more people could use one.

TPR: This is my favorite question to ask everyone, but it requires some hard thinking so I hope you’ve got your thinking cap on tight! Think back to your childhood…what was the first book you remember reading and falling in love with? What made you love it so much?

Lillis: Probably THE WITCHES by Roald Dahl. I remember being delighted by the witch convention–the whole idea of supernatural beings having these organized gatherings, and then just the horror of them stripping off their mundane middle-aged lady disguises to reveal their true selves. Witches have square feet and no toes! I loved all those absurd details. And the fact that the end was pretty dark and didn’t force a happy ending–that was the first time I remember realizing that stories could follow more than one prescribed trajectory. That’s stayed with me to this day (although in my own writing, I’ve kinda come back around to the happy ending).

TPR: What has had the greatest impact on your decision to become a published author?

Lillis: A bunch of factors. I had extremely supportive parents, some teachers/mentors who taught me a ton and helped me believe I could do this, and a spouse who actively helps me carve out pockets of writing time in my hectic schedule. I’m very aware that these are privileges, and very thankful for the supports I’ve had access to. 

Also, my marine biology aspirations fizzled by the time I was ten, so I needed something else to fall back on.

TPR: If you could meet someone from anywhere and anytime fictional or real, dead or alive, who would it be? Why would it be that person? What would be the first question you ask of that person?

Lillis: I would meet Cersei Lannister and ask if I could borrow her golden breastplate for the next marketing meeting.

TPR: Based on your Twitter, you seem like a kind of kooky, weird, crazy woman. Do you feel this allows you to be more relatable to your fans?

Lillis: I polled them all before I started tweeting and asked them how weird I could get away with being, and 89% of them chose “moderately weird,” so that’s what I went with. I hope they weren’t lying.

Nah, I mean, Twitter just gives me an outlet for the part of my personality that I don’t get to show in my day to day life (i.e. day job). It’s probably my real personality; I’m just too introverted to be like that all the time in public. And I think it’s connected me with other publicly normal, privately weird people, which is lovely.

TPR: Do you have any secret weird talents?

Lillis: Not really, unless you count remembering all the words to “You Can Call Me Al” when I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday.

This question’s making me wish I had more weird talents. As soon as this interview’s over I’m gonna practice balancing a spoon on my elbow.

TPR: Favorite tv series to binge-watch?

Lillis: We re-watch Flight of the Conchords in its entirety probably every other year. I will watch it anytime and it will never not be funny.

TPR: Favorite book series to binge?

Lillis: I actually don’t read a lot of book series; I’m more into standalone contemporary novels. But I’m loving Roan Parrish’s interlocking m/m romance series right now–her second Middle of Somewhere book came out a few months ago and I can’t wait for the third. Her books are always so funny and thoughtful and gloriously angsty.

TPR: What is your most anticipated book? It can be something that’s on your to be read list that you haven’t gotten around to reading yet or a book not yet released.

Lillis: Ooh, I’m eagerly awaiting TIMEKEEPER, Tara Sim’s debut (out Nov 1, 2016). And I can’t wait to see what Wes Kennedy does next; I really enjoyed her debut novella TO TERMINATOR, WITH LOVE.

TPR: Do you have any secret tricks or tactics to aid in your book revisions?

Lillis: If you stare at a problem chapter and sulk hard enough at it, eventually it’ll rewrite itself. Also, old trash can lids are great for patching plot holes.

No, I mean–one of the hardest things I’ve learned is that each book is its own beast, and just because you’ve tamed other beasts successfully with one bag of tricks, that doesn’t mean those same tricks will work on the beast at hand. It’s always a lot of trial and error and tears and dark nights of the soul. A few things I do that tend to work across the board: watching a scene like a movie in my head to see how it plays, reading dialogue out loud, outlining the book as I go to make sure the story is solid. Also, I’ve learned to listen to m y instinct and stop trying to talk myself out of big revisions that will benefit the book but also be a giant pain in the ass. I always end up deciding my instinct was right anyway, so the sooner I accept it and dig into the work, the better.

TPR: You mentioned on Twitter back in July that you wrote new pajama pants into your WIP (now A&B). How much of your real life and favorite inanimate objects do you put into your stories?

Lillis: I do that a lot, actually! Working in details like that is fun and helps give the story texture. It’s also like a private Easter egg hunt for my longtime friends who read my books…they’ll be like “you put the penguin in Chapter Three!” or “that convention center was totally supposed to be the Farm Show building, right?”

TPR: Do you have any ultimate long-term career goals? Does it involve being a published author?

Lillis: Well, I’ve already published three books. But if you’re asking if my goal is to be traditionally published–I dunno? Probably not? I’ve got a lot to juggle all the time and I appreciate the flexibility of indie publishing. Being able to set and adjust my own deadlines is my secret to making this whole “life” thing work.

Basically, my goal is to write books that put joy and (hopefully) laughter into the world, and to publish as many of those as possible until I die. I plan to die painlessly with the imprint of a laptop keyboard on my face.

TPR: If you could have any animal (real or fictional, extinct or not) as a pet what would it be and why?

Lillis: I want an elephant, but a very small elephant so I could afford to feed it and it wouldn’t track mud through the house. Actually two small elephants, so the one isn’t lonely while I’m at work.

TPR: Do you have a favorite writing spot?

Lillis: My bed, but that just happens to be where I usually do it. (WRITING, I MEAN.) I don’t need a special spot to write; being a mom made me less precious about my writing routines, so I can pretty much do it anywhere. Though I guarantee you my answer would change if those treehouse-master guys came and built me a heated writing treehouse in my backyard. Then my family would never see me again.

TPR: What can you tell me about your work in progress without giving any details about the plot?

Lillis: I can tell you it vaguely resembles a book, in that there are multiple chapters and things happen and there is a beginning and middle and presumably an end.

TPR: Tell us a little about A&B without giving any details about the plot.

Lillis: If SOME details are acceptable to divulge: It’s my first f/f romance, it’s sort of like Amadeus except with super-ambitious female aspiring pop stars, and Brandon and Abel from HOW TO REPAIR A MECHANICAL HEART have the B-plot (in which they are ten years older but only slightly wiser).

TPR: Describe your dream library in great detail.

Lillis: This is probably blasphemy, but I wouldn’t want Belle’s massive library in Beauty and the Beast. Like, it might as well come with a plaque that says YOU WILL DIE BEFORE READING ONE EIGHTH OF THESE WORDS. And every day I’d feel enormous pressure to read an entire book because LOOK AT ALL OF THEM and you don’t want to be one of those people who keeps unread books around as ornaments, and soon I’d just keep the door closed and avoid it altogether because it would be a constant reminder of my own inadequacy and mortality.

Sorry, that wasn’t an answer. My dream library is close to what I have now: a few brightly painted shelves of my favorite comfort reads and books I deeply admire, and a well-used library card on my nightstand.

TPR: What’s your favorite part about being a mom? Do you see a lot of your likes, personality traits, etc in your daughter?

Lillis: My favorite part is also sometimes one of the most difficult parts: the knowledge that you helped create a small human who is entirely her own self, with her own individual likes, dislikes, talents, and personality traits. Like, my daughter enjoys reading but will only do it before bed–the rest of the time she’s super-active and very into outdoor play, which is the opposite of how I was at her age. And if you can let go of the urge to align your child’s interests and values with yours, it’s pretty amazing to watch her evolve into her own unique person.

We’re very different, she and I, but we do have some similarities. She’s extremely into music like I am and she’s written the first few chapters of several novels. One is called “The Turned Corner.” I think I’m going to have her name my books from now on.

TPR: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Lillis: “Try the massaman curry.”

(And also probably some stuff about believing in yourself and never giving up.)

TPR: Give some advice to a future author who wishes to become published.

Lillis: Work hard, read widely, research your options, and make friends with folks in the writing community so you’ll have someone to talk to while you’re procrastinating.

Also, there are many different ways to become a writer and get your voice heard. Don’t be too wedded to a single plan, because it’ll obscure the other paths available to you. I never imagined myself as an indie author but I gave it a shot, and four years into this adventure, I wouldn’t change a thing.

TPR: On a scale of 1 to 🐵🐵🐵🐵🐵 with 1 being lowest, mix tape sleepy pants being 10, and 🐵🐵🐵🐵🐵 being cute monkeys what was your favorite part of this interview?

Lillis: The monkey emojis, and also the realization that I had my dream library all along and didn’t even know it.

TPR: BONUS QUESTION!!!! If you could have any superpower at all…. what would it be?

Lillis: If I could have any superpower, it would be realizing a chapter doesn’t work BEFORE I WRITE AND EDIT THE WHOLE %*!%# THING. #amwriting

TPR: Thank you so much for being one of the first authors I get to interview! It really means a lot to me to have your support in this venture! This was an absolute blast for me! Glad you enjoyed yourself! I hope to read all your books soon and included HTRAMH in my backlog for the Beat The Backlist Challenge.

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July 29, 2016

BookItCon 2016: Interview with author Josh Berk

Posted in author interviews at 10:04 PM by Rockin' Rita

You may be asking yourself, what is BookItCon?
Bookitcon isn’t just your ordinary book event, it is a charity book event. We are working with the nonprofit Grace in the Mud* and two K-8 schools in Camden, NJ to help them grow their outdated libraries. The proceeds from this event will be benefiting them. There currently are 30 incredible authors** in the lineup this year for our second annual event (Chapter Two). The book event will include meet-n-greets with the authors, along with two panels and the opportunity to get all of your books signed by all the authors!

If you purchase*** the VIP ticket, you will also be invited to a VIP dinner/after party with the authors, along with getting an extra hour to get your books signed! Books can be bought at the event however if you are unable to attend and would like an autographed book from any of the authors you may buy them on our website.****

A word from our organizer, Nori on why she started UBUbiz.
I decided to start UBUbiz because I wanted a way to combine my passions for reading, business, and charity/community service. After wracking my brain for months, the idea of Bookitcon suddenly appeared! This is my second year hosting Bookitcon, and I can’t wait.

Where and when?
16 East Main Street Moorestown, NJ 08057
Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Some of the authors at the event include: 
Albert Borris
Amanda Foody
Anna Breslaw
April Lindner
AV Geiger
Barbara Dee
Beth Fantaskey
Charlotte Huang
Claire Legrand
Emma Chase
Eric Smith
Jodi Meadows
Josh Berk
Julie Chibbaro
Julie Eshbaugh
Karole Cozzo
Kathryn Holmes
Kendall Kulper
Kit Grindstaff
Lee Kelly
Lisa A. Koosis
Mackenzi Lee
Martina A Boone
Mia Siegert
Nancy Norbeck
Phoebe North
S Usher Evans
Sandy Hall
SJ Goslee
Victoria Scott

The full schedule can be found on our website: www.UBUbiz.com

 

The Interview

joshberk

Procrastinate Reader: Josh, do you have a “day job” besides being an author?

Josh Berk: Yes, I am a librarian! Specifically, I am the library director in Bethlehem, PA. I have worked in libraries for 18 years and love it.  

PR: That’s so cool! I’ve always wanted to work in a library since I was a child. I would like you to think back to your childhood… what was the first book you remember reading and falling in love with?

JB: This is actually an easy question! I speak to kids a lot and they love to ask this question. For me it was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I just loved the main characters and the magical world C.S. Lewis created. I spent a whole summer pushing on the back of closets trying to fall into Narnia.

PR: I love that book! The whole series is awesome but that book was my favorite out of all 5 books! It was on my to be read list forever before I got the chance to read it. Speaking of TBR’s how long is your list?

JB: It’s pretty long! I don’t really keep a list, but I’m always reading about five books at once. I read a lot of non-fiction (usually baseball books) and always have a novel going and also an audiobook in the car. A book I’m really into right now is Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein.

PR: That’s a lot to be “reading” all at once- I’m impressed! Now that we know about your heading habits let’s talk a little about your writing. Tell us about your latest release.

JB: Say It Ain’t So was the sequel to Strike Three You’re Dead. They are middle-grade baseball mystery novels with lots of jokes. It also has a scene at the very end that I very much love. Teaser!

PR: (FINAL QUESTION) Your twitter profile blurb says you are “Provocative Maury Povich question-asker.” What question would you ask Maury if you were to meet him and only ask him one question?

JB: Hey so that part of my Twitter bio (unlike some of the other parts…) is totally true! I was an audience member on Maury Povich in 1995. It was an episode about the O.J. Simpson trial. I asked a question (not of Maury, but of the panel) about race, class, and the legal system. Provocative! I really want someone to find that episode on YouTube and post the link in the comments. I will give a reward. (Of signed books.)

PR: Thanks so much Josh for taking the time to answer some of my questions for my little blog! I look forward to meeting you at the event! You can find Josh on Twitter @joshberkbooks, visit his website Josh Berk, Writer, buy his books on Amazon, and follow him and add his books on Goodreads.

PS. I tried to find a video of the episode and all I came up with was this with OJ’s ex-gf on the show. Happy hunting everyone! If you find the video please post the link in the comments .:)

*You can find more information on Grace in the Mud by going to their website (http://www.graceinthemud.org/home.html), facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GraceintheMud), or gofundme (https://www.gofundme.com/justforgirls).

**A full list of authors can be found here.

***Interested in attending? Great! You can buy a ticket here!

****Are you dying of jealousy because you’d love to be able to attend and get books signed by the attending authors but can’t? Don’t fear, because virtual signings are here! You can purchase books by any of the attending authors and get it shipped to your house, easy peasy!

Stay up to date with all of the latest Bookitcon: Chapter Two news
Subscribe to the UBUbiz newsletter

Got questions for our organizer about the event?
You can contact Nori through http://www.UBUbiz.com or email her at: nori@UBUbiz.com

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Social Media Links:
Website: www.UBUbiz.com
Twitter: @UBUbiz
Instagram: @ububiz_

 

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