Starting the week off right with an introduction to BJ! You may recognize her from one heckofa Pitch Perfect lip sync performance at UTOPYA Con 2015. I don’t think this awesome lady has any idea how much she inspires her fellow authors. She has a motto that has taken root in the hearts of her supporters… “Be Ceaseless!”
The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.
We are pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, BJ Sheldon.
Please share a little about yourself and your background. – I began reading at the age of 4 and developed my love of writing in the 4th grade where I wrote my first book. Well, it was about 20 handwritten pages long, so not really a book…but it was a big deal to me at the time. I took up writing again in 2009 when I lost my job. I’m married to my best friend and have 3 daughters aged 12, 18, and 21. We have 3 cats, 1 dog, and not enough bookshelves to hold the books we currently own, let alone the ones I plan on buying.
Please share information on any published or upcoming books.
– I’m the author of The Dusty Chronicles, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy about a girl and the ghost that haunts her dreams as well as her home. They are all available on Amazon. I have also written and published “Hear the Crickets” which is the first book in The Gibborim Series. Books two and three will be out in 2016 and 2017. The Gibborim Series is available on all e-book platforms and the paperback is available on Amazon. I also have 4 other books in the planning stages with more ideas coming to me every day.
Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in? I wrote for the Act of Bravery, Insurgency, and Underdog anthologies.
Share a brief teaser or logline for your story stories.
1) Act of Bravery – When Andrew takes on a dare involving a creepy, old house with a mysterious past, his night is filled with noises, smells, and unwanted visitors. But is it all in his head? Or does he have reason to be scared?
2) Insurgency – What happens when the adults of the world are gone and children are all that’s left to fight an unbeatable foe? A new breed of soldier is born, and it’s up to them to fight for humanity’s survival.
3) Underdog – When you grow up on a moon base, there aren’t too many places to run when trouble arrives. And for Linus, trouble comes in the form of bully, Jonah. But being young and small for one’s age doesn’t mean they can’t have the courage of a lion.
Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?
1) Act of Bravery – Andrew was basically the male version of me in high school. I was a bit of a follower and just wanted to prove that I was just as cool as the next kid. But unlike Andrew, I never would have had the heart to spend the night in an old, abandoned house. But I always wondered what would have happened if I had. Through this story, I was able to find out.
2) Insurgency – I liked the idea of an army of children who were created by their captors – not by force, but out of desperation to survive. I thought it would be interesting to see what it would be like to lead that army through the eyes of a boy who had to grow up way before his time.
3) Underdog – I love underdog stories. They’re probably my favorite. There’s something satisfying about the little guy winning in the end against all odds. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s to never judge a book by its cover. Just because Linus was small didn’t mean his heart wasn’t large.
What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?
– I currently write in the paranormal romance and fantasy genres for the young adult category. I love the freedom that those genres give, allowing me to create circumstances and worlds that exist outside our normal realm of reality. In fact, taking a myth that someone may think they understand and putting my own twist on it to throw them off is something I thoroughly enjoy. Eventually, I’d love to write a sci-fi book and a YA contemporary romance, and down the road I may even try my hand at an adult contemporary. But for now, I’m happy with the worlds I’m currently building.
Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins? – With my day job as a project analyst, there is no such thing as a typical writing day. I usually get home around 4:30 in the afternoon where I end up helping my youngest daughter with her homework, prep dinner, and work on any little house chores that need to be done. Then I either jog on my treadmill or do some weight training. Dinner is next followed by whatever writing I can get in for the rest of the night. Ideally, my entire weekend would be spent writing, but it all depends on how many errands I have to run and how clean my house is. Lucky for me, my husband will pitch in and clean the house for me. The writing process itself starts as a diagram to lay out the basic plot. I then use a notebook to write out the main points of the storyline from start to finish. From there, I usually search Pinterest for photographs of characters that will help inspire the story. They get printed out with identifying details which will help me as I write, such as height, hair color, personality traits, etc. Then I type out the outline on my laptop. I don’t use Scrivener or anything like that. Just me, my laptop, Word, and color printouts of my characters.
Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)? – Both. While I carefully plan out the plot and outline, there is usually a 50/50 chance that my characters will run amok and go where they want from chapter to chapter.
What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend? I highly recommend the WOOL series by Hugh Howey. It was incredibly well written and kept me turning pages late into the night. I’m not currently reading anything at the moment since I’m in the middle of working on book two of my Gibborim Series, but high on my list of books to read are Wither by Amy Miles and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
What is your favorite writing/reading related quote? My favorite quote is by Edgar Allan Poe, which is, “I’m a writer. Therefore, I am not sane.”
Tell us 5 random facts about you:
- I have a fear of letting other people drive when I’m in a car, so I tend to freak out if forced to use a taxi or Uber. In turn, my husband always lets me drive whenever we go somewhere.
- I am terrified of frogs.
- Tiny holes, tightly packed together, freaks me out. Bee honeycombs, for instances, gives me the willies.
- I recently lost over 70 lbs and am currently training to run a 5k.
- In 1991, I nearly moved to Nashville to try my hand at becoming a country singer.
Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story? Music does influence my writing. The song Dorian by Agnes Obel inspired the character of Dorian in my last book, Hear the Crickets. As for the anthologies, I didn’t focus on one particular song. All 3 stories were inspired by my darker playlist that involved Poe, Bastille, and the soundtracks of multiple Harry Potter movies.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively? – The best advice I can give is this. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s in the literary world. There are those who will become overnight successes. Some will self-publish, and others will find an agent and become traditionally published. Some people only put out a book a year, while others are able to put out 5 per year. Go at your own pace and don’t doubt yourself based on someone else’s achievements. And most of all, figure out what you want, write down your goals, and make a plan how to reach them.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Website or Blog: http://bjsheldon.webs.com
Goodreads: B.J. Sheldon
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/BJ-Sheldon/e/B00CMCDGYG
Any other book links: http://bjsheldon.webs.com/purchase-links
Thank you for participating, BJ! Please join us on Wednesday, when the Debut Collective will feature Leigh Anne DuChene.