It’s Friday Cover reveal of Mind Static and Interview with Jen Naumann!
Although life has been pretty good to Keyanna Sanders, the day she turns eighteen she’s about to get everything she could ever wish for—a hot guy who’s really into her, a sporty car she’s always dreamed of owning, and the party of a lifetime that no one will forget any time soon.
But before long, she’ll understand these wishes are more than a coincidence, and that they come at a steep price. Keyanna is more than just an average high school senior, her best friend is more than the innocent boy next door, and her sudden good fortune isn’t just by chance. When her estranged father suddenly re-enters her life, she’ll have to decide who to trust, and whether or not the man she loves has suddenly become the enemy.
Such a great cover! Now I had the pleasure of talking to Jen about writing, her books and life!
1. How do you come up with your story ideas? Is there any inspiration?
JEN: I know a lot of authors answer with “they just came to me in my dreams” (insert eye roll here), but most of mine honestly do. I have the most insane dreams. I swear my husband thinks I’m crazy. He can’t believe how I can remember them in great detail, too. Every now and then a random idea will occur to me when I’m in the strangest of places (more than once it’s happened on the back of my husband’s Harley), or during conversations with friends.
ME: I love when dreams help inspire books! That is so awesome that you remember. Sometimes I can’t remember and I know i have a great idea somewhere buried in my mind.
JEN: They say to keep a journal next to your bed and start writing the minute you wake. I have yet to do this.
2. What character was the most fun to write? Is this your favorite character?
JEN: I used to always say it was Emma from The Day Zombies Ruined My Perfectly Boring Life, and for the most part it still is, although Keyanna in Mind Static was actually a ton of fun. Emma could sometimes be a borderline bully. I had to walk a fine line to keep her in check. Keyanna’s just witty, and a lot of fun. I tried not to make her the weepy, needy heroine that I think we’re all growing tired of.
ME: I love Emma! Yeah I do see she can be a bully and if she truly was I don’t think I could like her as much. But you did a wonderful job!
JEN: Aw, thank you! Yeah I’m uber sensitive about bullying, and hope to write a book with that as the theme one day. I was picked on in second grade and it’s one of the few memories I remember all too well from my childhood. I’m always teaching my kids to be extra nice to anyone who’s bullied at school.
3. I know you likes zombies, what is your favorite show/movie. If you pick Walking Dead who is your favorite character? Besides Daryl, which is a given. 🙂
JEN: While I adore the hell out of The Walking Dead (and Carol is my favorite after Daryl), I’m a giant fan of Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. They’re really what got me into the genre. There’s nothing better than zombies mixed with stupid humor. Those shows totally get me. And Emma Stone became my favorite actress after seeing Zombieland for the first time. No one does sarcastic humor like Emma (see Easy A for proof).
ME: I love Sean of the Dead! That movie is by far one of my favorite zombie movies. I have to say I love World War Z because it was so different. Have you seen it? And I must admit I love all the Resident Evil movies.
JEN: Oh I saw Word War Z, and I totally LOVED it! Doesn’t hurt that I have a decades-old crush on Brad Pitt. Can’t wait for it to come on DVD! As for Resident Evil, I’ve seen some of them, but it’s been a long time. If I remember I really liked the first one. Tried getting into one of the newer ones but couldn’t because I was kind of lost on the story line. I may have to give it another try.
4. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
JEN: My memory is total crap, but I actually remember being in third grade and writing a story about “My Little Pony” with the most horrific illustrations you’ve ever seen (I seriously suck at drawing). I remember from that moment on, wanting to write for a living. My plans went on hold after meeting my husband and having our children, but they never went away.
ME: I am so glad they never went away! We wouldn’t have these great books! So when did you get movtivated to write after having a family?
JEN: Ha, thank you! Actually, someone very dear to me and only a couple of years older was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. It felt like a slap in the face – I realized I may NOT live to be an old woman, and I could die without realizing my life long dream. I vowed to make it happen, and published my first book less than a year later. I even got a tattoo that says “hold on tight” to remind me not to lose sight of the people I love and the dreams I have, because life is a ride and we never know when it will end.
ME: Wow! What an inspiring story. And it is so true that life is short.
5. How long does it take you to write a book?
JEN: That really depends how well the words are flowing. Normally it only takes a month or two for the first draft, then another month or two for the rewrites and edits. But there are other times when I’ll start a book, drop it, and go back a few months later to work on it some more. Those are usually the stories that don’t make it past the cutting room floor (writers can use that term too, right?).
ME: Yes! The cutting room floor is perfect term. In fact I haven’t even drafted yet. I move on! I need to stop and pause for a moment!
JEN: Skipping around from story to story is a terrible habit that’s hard to break. I don’t recommend it. You’ll be much more productive if you stick to one at a time.
6. How do you balance family and writing?
JEN: Not always very well. We treat writing as my full time job during the day, although in the summertime I guess I’ve been given lots of vacation hours (I have a really awesome boss). Sometimes if I’m on a roll I’ll stay in my writing den through the night, only coming out to eat. I know my family gets frustrated sometimes, but I make up for it as I never miss their sports or other important things. I always make it a point to take my kids to movies, or do other fun things for quality time.
ME: Someday I want to start a family, this is good to know. I have often been afraid of how much my writing will disappear.
7. What is a good way to combat writer’s block?
JEN: Get the hell away from whatever it is you’re working on. Even though I know this, it’s not always easy to do. But riding on the motorcycle, taking the jet ski for a spin, going for a run, hitting the bar, and socializing with real-life people always seem to help me.
ME: Motorcycle? hmmm my mom-n-law just got one, this may be a good idea. What about your mustang?
JEN:I haven’t been alone in the Mustang long enough to get inspired. Maybe if I wasn’t always hauling kids when I was in there, and had a little “me” time, it would happen!
ME: You defiantly need alone time with the stang! I loved it. 🙂
8. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
JEN: Mind Static will be my fifth. Man, that’s like asking which kid is my favorite! After putting a lot of thought into this, I really don’t think I can choose. But my editor says Mind Static is my best yet, so I’m pretty proud of it.
ME: I can’t wait to read Mind Static! I think they are all your babies so you have a good answer. I couldn’t pick my favorite because each one is different. I loved reading them all!
9. Tell us one thing we wouldn’t know already know about you.
JEN: I often worry that I’m OCD. I will listen to one song on repeat for an entire day (I actually do that a lot). I don’t play video games, or Facebook games because I know I won’t be able to stop. If I get it in my head I want to do something, I will do anything to make it happen. But after self-diagnosing through the internet, I’m pretty sure I just really obsess over things. There are no rules, orderliness or control in my life.
ME: Self diagnosing is bad! I have diagnosed myself with many illnesses only to have a common cold or migraine. But I do think there is a little OCD in all of us. HUGS!
JEN: My sister and her husband are doctors, and it drives them insane when I do it. LOL
ME: I bet!But sometimes the internet beckons us to solve our problems!
15. Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers better themselves and their craft? If so, what are they?
JEN: Read Stephen King’s On Writing. Take his advice and write every single day. You won’t improve unless you do it. Also, if you’re serious about wanting to publish a book, you have to FINISH one first. Sounds like a no-brainer, I know, but until a couple of years ago, I hadn’t finished a novel since high school. It was so easy to fall to the ways of SNIS (shiny new idea syndrome), and drop one story to work on another that promised better things. Read as much as you can. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. And whatever you do, don’t give up. The author market is overflowing right now with the self-publishing world taking over, and it takes time to get your name out there. I’ve only been published for a year, and plan to give it a good five years before turning writing back into a hobby if it doesn’t become successful.
ME: YEP, this is me! I will take your advice and move through my draft. Stephen King’s on writing will be a great addition to my homework on writing!
JEN: If you can steal the time away, I recommend signing up for NaNoWriMo. The first year I participated I was working full-time and still managed to get 50k words in the month of November. It taught me not to go back and edit my work as I was going along. That’s another terrible habit that’s hard to break! First drafts are almost always crap – you just have to train yourself to accept that.
16. What advice do you have to us who are aspiring writer? What do you feel are certain do’s and don’ts for writing a successful book?
JEN: Without question, you have to find a really good editor that you can work well with. My stories wouldn’t be readable without mine. He’s so amazing that I’ve promised him a tropical vacation if I ever “make it big”.
ME: I hope you hold him to that promise!
17. Last but not least, what are you working on now?
JEN:I just handed the final draft of Mind Static over to my editor the other day. Now that I’m finished with that, it’s back to my zombie sequel. I was 3/4 done with it when Mind Static barged its way through, begging to be edited. I hope to release the second zombie book this fall. I’m so pumped to be able to continue on with Emma and Finn’s story!
ME: YAY! Emma and Finn are back!!!! WOOT WOOT!
JEN: Oh, just you wait. Part of the story is told from Finn’s POV. It’s a lot of fun hearing things from his perspective! 🙂
ME: Oh I just can’t wait to read Finn’s POV!
Thank you Jen so much for the interview. I love your books and look forward to Mind Static!
You’re too sweet! Thanks for having me, Tawney! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you! 🙂
Jen grew up during a magical time in which Ghostbusters, Star Wars, E.T. and The Goonies were the biggest blockbusters. Her love of sci-fi exploded over time, eventually growing into a career of writing YA fiction with a paranormal flair. When not sitting at her Mac, she can be found at concerts and movies, hanging with friends, chilling at her lake home, taking pictures, working on graphic design projects, traveling, or at home with her husband in southern Minnesota and trying to keep up with their four active children.