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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Welcome, JANET McLAUGHLIN and A Giveaway!

 Okay, everybody knows I love giving away books. And I love chatting with author friends. Today I get to do both!

Janet McLaughlin and I have been writing buddies for quite a while. We stumbled upon each other in an online group and when that group disappeared, our friendship didn't. She's policed my novels (She's fondly known as the Logic Police because she can catch that door open in one scene and locked soon after). Now I get to share her fabulous novel.

And just in time for summer reading, summer camp care packages, end-of-the-school-year read-alouds, her second book in the series has been published. Janet likes to call her books "Tween" novels. I recommend them for middle-grade, young Young Adult, Teen, even grownup readers.

One lucky reader will get a copy of her first book, GET PSYCHED.
(See below for details.)

Welcome to my blog, Janet.

Augusta: Tell us a little about how you got the idea for this series. 

JANET:  It’s actually a combination of two ideas. The setting, a Cheerleading Competition, takes place at a hotel/convention center near Disney World. I chose this particular place because I’d been there to watch my granddaughter, Lauren, compete. Everything about the place is over the top. I couldn’t not use it. I’ve followed Lauren’s cheerleading “career” since she was seven. She’s now nineteen and a member of the Indiana University All-Girl National Cheerleading Champions 2012. 

 (Okay, Wow. This is Lauren cheering in high school. Inspirational for sure!)

The idea for making my protagonist, Zoey, an intuitive or psychic came from my association through the years with women (and one young man) who had these very abilities. In interviewing them for my magazine, one theme kept recurring. They had this gift as teens and they hated it! Didn’t want anyone to know about it.
The thought of combining the two was irresistible.

Augusta: Do you have any tips for making one book flow seamlessly into the next? Do you keep charts or lists to be sure there's consistency?                                                                 

         JANET: Every writer has his or her own way of doing this. I open a separate word document and list the characters, locations, and time lines. I add them as I write. I can always refer back to them when needed. I also like to lead into the next book at the end of the current one. Zoey makes it easy. She simply has a vision or dream that hints at what’s to come.

Augusta: What's your writing routine? At home? Desk? Starbucks? Pen and paper or computer?                                                                                                                                                                          

       JANET: Home office and computer for sure. I would love to say that I write every morning for, oh, three or four hours, but that’s not possible. Life does get in the way. When I do sit down to write, I get lost in the story.

Augusta: Do your characters spring full-blown onto the page? Are they based on real people? How do you manage to have them speak and act so authentically?

       JANET: I wish they sprung full-blown! As you know, Augusta, I have a deep admiration of your incredible ability for writing memorable characters. In the beginning, I concentrated more on the plot/story. But as I mature in my writing process, so have my characters and characterization. In other words, as I grow, they grow.
       My characters are pure fiction. When I first started writing novels, I used the names of my grandkids for inspiration. The problem was, their personalities kept getting in the way. When I changed the names, that obstacle went away.
       As for their speaking and acting authentically—this is me shrugging my shoulders. Maybe I never really grew up?

Augusta: I guess that's true of a lot of writers!
Tell us a little about your road to publication.
       JANET: Getting published took some time.  Skipping over the years of queries, rejections, getting an NYC agent (that was a thrill) who, for many reasons, couldn’t place the book, putting it back in the proverbial drawer and starting another book—skipping all that, it took about four months to get published.
       Another granddaughter, Sami, decided to try cheerleading. In December, 2011, my husband and I went to Disney World (yes, Disney again!) to watch her compete. While there I met a woman who had a display booth and was handing out cheer magazines. She was looking for a book to launch her new business—book publishing. I sent her the book; she and her partner loved it; we signed a contract; and Voila! Overnight success.

Augusta: What's next for Zoey and the gang?

     JANET: The first book, Get Psyched, takes place at a cheerleading convention. The second book, Psyched Out, takes place on a Caribbean Island where Zoey and her best friend, Becca, encounter a ghost. The third book, which I am working on now is tentatively called “Fireworks,” and will (again tentatively) be available in Summer of 2013. There will be a new guy in Zoey’s life and he’s pretty cool. Becca, of course, gets in trouble. You gotta have a sidekick to create problems!

Here's a link to buy it on Amazon, Kindle and paperback. Be sure to read the reviews. Some great comments from kids.

And all you have to do is leave me a comment here or on Facebook and you'll be entered to win a SIGNED copy of GET PSYCHED.  Contest ends on Tuesday, April 16.
(Feel free to share this post. We love to spread the word!)


Mrs. Redd said...

This sounds like a neat book that my oldest daughter would enjoy. Thank you for the interview, Augusta, and the advice, Janet. We are budding authors here, and love to hear from the pros!

Mrs. Redd

PragmaticMom said...

I love this combination of psychic and cheerleader! Sounds fascinating!