Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spotlight on Author Riley Jean

Today I welcome a wonderful author. 
She is here to answer some of my interview questions.
So here we go.
Thank you Riley for being here today!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I first began to enjoy writing during my senior year in high school, after my very first heartbreak. It’s a pivotal age in life because our hormones are heightened, there are so many feelings going on inside and we don’t quite know how to deal with them all. In my case, they came out in the form of poetry and journaling. This was long before Facebook, Blogspot, and even Myspace… I posted on a little website called (which doesn’t even exist anymore) under the pen name RJ. Being able to express myself in this way was therapeutic and I learned a lot about myself through it. The best feeling in the world was receiving feedback from readers, stating they could personally relate, or that it helped them somehow. I think this is when the idea of publishing became a sort of pipedream for me.

How long does it take you to write a book? My first book took three years to write. During the first two years, I had no intention of ever publishing it. I wrote leisurely and strictly for my own entertainment. It wasn’t until about a year ago my husband snuck a peek at my project and encouraged me to do something with it. So I pushed myself to finish, and started researching self-publish options.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing? First I made a list of everything I had to do (finish writing, cover design, editing, find beta readers, website promotion, etc) then I worked backwards and created due dates for myself. I also setup a reward system for certain milestone goals. For instance, when I finished writing a chapter, I got to buy myself a new book :]

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Almost daily, I would send an updated copy of my story to my kindle documents, and that’s where I would do all the editing, highlighting, and note taking. Working off my kindle gave me the “reader experience” and helped me to see the story as a book instead of a working file. Because it was so easily accessible, I was able to write literally everywhere when inspiration struck, including work, commuting (as a passenger of course--I carpool), and late at night when my husband was asleep. Some of my best writing happened when I laid there in the dark, alone with my thoughts.

How do your books get published? So far I’ve only utilized Amazon self-publish.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? Many ideas for my book have been inspired by real life. They say to write what you know, so all emotions, experiences, and relationships I write about have been somehow influenced by circumstances in my own life. As for information, I did a lot of research on Google and asked my husband a lot of technical questions. He’s a smart cookie!

When did you write your first book and how old were you? My very first book was “Attack of the Emu Potatoes” when I was nine, or in fourth grade. It didn’t make New York Times Best Seller’s list, but Mrs. Bartley was sure impressed. But seriously… My debut novel is called “Use Somebody” and it just released last month. I am twenty-nine.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? READ. I’m what you might call an avid reader. I devour 150-ish books a year. When I’m not reading or writing, I work as an executive assistant (AKA Miracle Worker) to the CFO at a Fortune 100 company. I also like to spend time with my husband and our adorable pooch, Delilah.

What does your family think of your writing? Besides my husband and one close girlfriend, nobody I know personally has any clue that I write. Why, you ask? There are downsides: I am limiting myself in regards to support, and although I constantly feel busy, when asked by friends or family what’s new or what I’m up to, I don’t have an interesting answer to give. This decision was not made lightly. It is not because I am at all ashamed of my writing. I am extremely proud of my accomplishment and the story that I produced. My concern comes from my earlier answer, about writing from personal experience. I fear that if family or friends read the book, they might see themselves, or me, in the story, and the journey is not a light one. The emotions are real and raw. Although there is no explicit sex in my book, it does have some spicy scenes that I wouldn’t want my mother to read. It’s like having my father read through my college diary. No thank you! Finally, I kind of like having this separate part of my life, where I can celebrate privately.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? That the hardest part isn’t actually writing… it’s promoting.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? “Use Somebody” is my one and only book to date. No matter what I may write in the future, I think it will always be my favorite. My heart and soul went into this book.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they? Write from the heart. Several readers have commented that “Use Somebody” is set apart because I didn’t write to sell books; I wrote a story that I myself would want to read. These days the market is oversaturated with books, especially in the new adult romance genre, and so many of them are the same. Be unique. Take risks. Pour your heart and soul into these pages. Allow readers to connect with your characters. Tell their story.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? I love hearing from readers! As previously stated, writing this book has been a private journey, so when I finally published it, I had no idea how people would respond. What a blessing that feedback has overall been positive. Since I am still in the early stages of release, I get giddy every time I receive a new review. One element that seems to be consistent with “Use Somebody” is unpredictability. Sometimes readers will share their progress updates, and they think they have it all figured out, but there are twists and turns that always take them by surprise. I love that. Many readers have also called the story “transformative” and that it will “refuse to leave you unchanged.” THIS. This is why I write. In hopes that people are touched by it.

Do you like to create books for adults? My favorite genre is New Adult. The characters are college-age, experiencing things like first loves and finding themselves. “Use Somebody” does contain mature themes that I would not recommend to anyone under seventeen, however it can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to revisit that age of youth, the depths of awkwardness, angst, and defining true love.

What do you think makes a good story? Real characters, witty dialogue, a slow-building love story, emotional connection, thought-provoking themes, and at least one moment where my jaw drops and I shout “NO WAY!”

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? An accountant… step back, big dreamer coming through.

NOW Give us a sneak peak at your book Riley.

“I could see it in his eyes—he wanted to be the prince who rode up on his horse and saved the day. But I was no princess, and my Prince Charming had come and gone. I couldn’t survive losing another to dragon’s fire. Or to my own poisonous touch.”

Reeling from a traumatic and heart-shattering night, Scarlett Rossi escapes back to her hometown, a place that never changes, though nothing about her is the same. The new Scar is fierce. Untouchable. And resolved to bury the twisted nightmares of that horrible night… the night when everything was stolen from her… the night that divided her life into two: before him, and after.

When do-gooder Vance Holloway makes it his personal mission to cheer up the new girl at work, he has no idea what he’s getting himself into. Scarlett’s tough shell and spicy attitude doesn’t fool him. He knows deep down, that sweet, innocent smile still exists, and he’ll stop at nothing to prove it. Patience, persistence, and a little ice cream pay off. Slowly they become friends. Then best friends. Then more. Only one problem: he was never supposed to fall in love.

So begins an explosive tryst of pull and resistance, between one worthy white knight, and the damsel who doesn’t want to be saved. Scarlett won’t survive another heartbreak, but can their friendship survive a compromise? 

If Vance is so determined to break down these walls, he’ll have to learn—just as she did—that when it comes to things like trust and love, there are always consequences. 

Because the last man that she loved swore to protect her, then paid with his life. And took with him a piece of her soul.

Now Scarlett must decide if true strength means guarding her heart, or surrendering to it once more. One final secret remains: what really happened the night she swore she’d never love another man, and whose hands are stained with his blood?

An emotional journey of mystery, redemption, and epic romance. Complete stand alone with 250K words. Recommended for mature readers due to some heavy material.


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