I recently had the privilege of reading Heather Justesen’s new release, REBOUND, and I couldn’t put it down.
HERE but I bet you can already guess that I really enjoyed this book.
Heather is a fellow member of Author’s Incognito and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing experience.
1. How long from when you started looking did it take you find your publisher/agent?
The LDS market is very small, so there are far fewer places to submit, and we don't use agents. I started submitting my first book in early March and had a contract in late September—but Cedar Fort had only had my manuscript for a couple of months before they offered to publish it.
2. Were you surprised with how many edits your editor asked of you or was it what you expected?
Honestly, I'm not sure what I expected. I did very few edits—and I've since learned it was far fewer than most publishers go through. That means I have to be extra diligent about self-editing and getting good feedback from reliable sources--but then, that's true no matter what publisher you work with.
3. Did you ever feel like giving up on your quest to be published?
I took several breaks during my journey to being published (and it was nearly 10 years before I got a contract) but not because I decided I didn't care, so much as because I had other priorities that had to come first.
I love writing and can't imagine giving it up, but I've had my moments of doubt about whether I would ever see a book in print, or if I was wasting my time--I don't know anyone who doesn't feel that way from time to time.
4. What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Building enough plot to keep the momentum going. I started out as a seat-of-your-pants writer and had trouble pushing the book through to the end because I either didn't build enough conflict into the manuscript, or I wasn't using the conflict I had well enough, so I would start to flounder around 60%-70% of the way through. I still struggle with that, but I do some basic plotting ahead of time now, so I have a better idea of where I'm going.
5. What's the easiest?
The first kiss--that scene pretty much writes itself!
6. Has your family always been supportive of you being a writer or did anyone need convincing?
I still remember telling my mother-in-law that I was going to be a writer and her saying "That's a nice hobby, but what are you going to do for a living?" Then she read one of my early manuscripts and became one of my staunchest supporters. =)
As for my family, my siblings claim they always knew I would be a writer one day--apparently I was the only one taken by surprise. I guess I'm very lucky in that my Uncle Allan Burgess was published many times over during his life, so it wasn't this odd fantasy that my family scoffed at--it was a totally doable goal.
7. How many drafts of your queries did you go through before you found one that worked?
You don't really do a normal query in this market, because all of the publishers take unsolicited submissions, but I'm terrible and admit that I only tweaked my cover letters a couple of times each before sending them. I've since learned a great deal more about queries and am taking this a lot more seriously in future submissions, including getting feedback from people who know more about a good query letter than I do.
8. I heard you mention in Danielle Ferguson’s interview that your next few books don't have basketball in them. Is there a reason you held to the basketball theme for the 1st two and then changed out for the next?
I don't think that was a conscious decision, actually. The fact is, I established in the first book that Curtis played basketball, and I wanted to make him a main character in the second book, so it ended up being basketball related. The next book in the series uses characters that aren't basketball players--and those characters actually existed before either of the books I have published. Sometimes I make decisions about what kinds of things I want the characters to be doing, and sometimes they tell me how it's going to be. =)
9. what did you want to be when you grew up?
I ran the gamut, but in college I seriously considered marine biology, and even took a bunch of heavy chemistry and biology classes, but changed to English Lit partway through my first year. I really didn't know what I wanted to be when I finished, but I remember thinking I wanted to do something with books and publishing, because I love books so much--but I wasn't going to be a writer, so I didn't plan for that at all! Writing is something that happened to me, and I found that I loved it and couldn't let it go, so I went after it. It wasn't something I planned from childhood like so many people I know--if it were, I probably would have been published years ago.
10. Is there any fun thing about yourself that we don't know?
I'm mildly allergic to melons, so I can hardly ever eat them, and I have a real thing for Rice Crispy Treats using the cocoa flavored cereal. So yummy!
11. anything else you'd like to mention?
Check out my BLOG between June 21 and 25th for some really fun giveaways!
Thank you ,Heather, for both the enjoyable read and the interview. It’s been fun getting to know you better!