Sunday, February 26, 2017

GUESTOPIA: YA Author S.J. Lomas

It's February Guestopia time, and today we're welcoming the fabulous S.J. Lomas to YAtopia!


S.J. is a cheerful Michigan girl who writes strange and somewhat dark stories. Librarian by day and writer by whatever free time she can find, she has an extra special fondness for books by Michael Lawrence, Beth Revis, and Kelly Creagh. Her to-be-read pile will take several lifetimes to get through, yet she continues to add to it. She thinks she'd enjoy living an extra life in a dreamworld, especially if she could dream her way to England

Off we go!

Is this your first published book?

This is my first YA book. I have also published 3 digital picture books with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as Sarah Perry. Pajama Girl, Pajama Girl Meets Blanket Boy, and There Was an Old Woman: An Alphabet Adventure.

What’s it called?

Dream Girl. The sequel, Dream Frequency, will be released this spring.

Which genre?

Young Adult

Which age group?

Teens age 13+

Is it a series or standalone?

It’s a duology. Just the two books.

Are you an agented author?

Not yet, but I’m hoping to get there someday.

Which publisher snapped up your book?

An independent publisher in Royal Oak, Michigan called Scribe Publishing published Dream Girl. Unfortunately, the publisher is no longer doing fiction so I’m putting Dream Frequency out on my own.

How involved have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?

For Dream Girl, I was lucky to have a good amount of creative input into the publishing process. For Dream Frequency, I am the publishing process. I have a lot of great connections so I can’t say I’m going through it alone, but it is cool to have the final say on everything.

Do you have another job?

I’m a librarian. (Can you tell I love books?)

Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?

Yes! It’s a disheartening experience, but I’ve read a lot of articles about how many times very famous authors were rejected so I always felt that I was in great company.

What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?

The very first inklings of Dream Girl came to me during college. I woke up from a very weird and vivid dream and scribbled down some thoughts about it. I knew it would make a great story somehow, someday but I didn’t do anything with it for several years. Finally, I was reading A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence and when I finished it, my dream popped into my mind and it hit me it had to become a young adult novel. The storyline started coming to me after that.

How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?

I am more of a pantser than a plotter. I scribbled a few character notes and took off writing.

Once you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into submission?

There were some missteps with the plot, but I tried to write as much as I could and not worry about the draft until I had to. Just getting something down was more important than having it come out right. You can always go back and revise.

How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?

I was still writing it when SCBWI had a local conference with paid critiques available. It was for the first 10 pages so I decided to give it a try to see if it was even a project worth continuing. I was matched with NYT Best-selling author, Jay Asher. Even though it was pretty rough at that stage, he was very encouraging and enthusiastic about the pages he saw. That kept me going. I didn’t let anyone else read it until about draft five. And that was my fellow writer/friend, Jody Lamb.

Did you employ an editor/proofreader or did you have a critique partner/beta readers before you started querying?

Jody Lamb read and edited for me before I sent it out. I was also lucky to have worked in advertising for a few years. Through that, I have friends who are graphic artists and proofreaders. I became good friends with one of the proofreaders and she went through the manuscript before I sent it out. 

Roughly how many drafts did it take before you sent the manuscript off into the real world?

I believe it was around seven.

How many drafts until it was published?


Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?

Not so dramatic that you wouldn’t think it was the same book, but there were some substantial changes, including a character who wrote himself in halfway through. He ended up becoming one of the most important characters in the book.

Are there any parts you’d like to change even now?

Oh yes. I think I could always find something to change around, add, delete, or fiddle with. When I come up with an idea for a novel, it’s like this glowing orb of possibility in my mind. It isn’t concrete but it’s shining and beautiful. I think it’s impossible to ever get the finished project to fully realize that glowing ideal I started with, but it doesn’t stop me from trying. I get as close as I can, but there’s always more that could be done. At least, it feels that way.

What part of writing do you find the easiest?

Naming characters and writing dialog comes easiest for me.

What part do you find hardest?

Getting through the marathon of completing that first draft is the hardest. I often find myself wishing I could just plug a USB drive into my brain and get the basic story out that way. I’d rather work on revising what’s already there, even though that is difficult too. But all of it’s difficult in a good way.

Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?

It depends. Some days, I sit down at the computer, open my Word document and then say, Crap. It’s THAT scene. Suddenly, housework never looked so appealing, or scheduling appointments, etc. But I can only let myself get away with that for so long. Then I take a look at what’s really happening. If I’m so frustrated that I can’t write a scene, there must be something wrong with the story. If I don’t want to write it, then who can I expect to read it? Once I figure out where it went wrong, I can figure out how to fix it. Then I’m ready to dive back in.

How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?

One is more than enough!

Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?

I believe it can be learned, but I think you’re born with the interest to do it. In my case, I fell in love with writing in 2nd grade when our teacher gave us little construction paper journals and had us write every day. I loved it! It was a joy that never left me so I decided to get serious about it.

How many future novels do you have planned?

Beyond Dream Frequency, I have a contemporary realistic YA that I’m going to work on next, followed by a New Adult novel after that.

Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?

I do have a couple short stories on Amazon. I have a blog but I only write posts when I feel I have something to say. I also write picture books as Sarah Perry.

What’s the highlight of being published so far?

There is nothing like seeing the excitement someone else has for my work. Especially people who aren’t related to me! There are two teenage girls, in particular, who really enjoy Dream Girl and can’t wait for Dream Frequency to come out. I’m not going to lie. It was really difficult to write Dream Frequency and I often thought of those two girls and it helped me keep going.

Give me one writing tip that works for you.

Trust yourself to write the story that’s inside of you. It can be very hard writing a novel. It’s easy to second guess yourself or compare what you’re doing to what others have done. It’s nice to remember that my story is exactly that, mine. I am equipped to tell it if I just stop getting in my own way.

And one that doesn't.

Real writers must write every day! Sorry. That just isn’t my reality. I write when I have the energy and the time. I’ve tried to sit down and write when I don’t have either of those things and nothing happens. It may take me longer to get those drafts out, but I still do.

Can you give us a clue or secret about the next book?

Dream Frequency takes place mostly in the United States Agency of Dream Work. Readers finally get to see what that place is like and what it’s all about.

What question have you always wanted to be asked but never have? What would the answer be?

I have always wanted Paul McCartney to ask me to dinner. The answer would be YES! Does that count?

Brilliant! I love this answer - and hope one day Mr. McCartney gets in touch! Thank you so much for joining us today, S.J. Lomas. We wish you heaps of luck with and your other titles and future works.

If you want to follow S.J. Lomas' journey and find out more about her, here are some links that will help!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with S.J. Lomas. The first draft is the hardest and the rewrite a pleasure.