Thursday, May 5, 2011

Aspiring Author Thursday: Introducing Jordan McCollum

So, today you all get to meet the fabulous Jordan McCollum. She is one of the first people who ever critiqued something of mine. (Sorry about that Jordan! lol) Anyway, she is awesome. She has an amazing blog with great advice on writing. Seriously. Go check it out here. But after you read the interview! :)

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Um, always? I remember writing (and illustrating, LOL) a book about a game I'd played with my Pound Puppies in first grade (though I'm not sure that was the moment I knew I wanted to do this forever). But by the time I graduated high school, I knew: they had us fill out a slip of paper with our top 3 career choices. Mine were 1.) Mom, 2.) Writer. No backup plan, all in. (And I've got #1 down!)

My freshman year of college, I was working on epic fantasy for my creative writing class. I have no idea why; I'm not huge fantasy reader! I got stuck about halfway through, and I actually stopped writing anything more than snippets (and assignments and blog posts) for five years (aside from one very brief jab at NaNo in 2006). Then a weird dream inspired me (sadly, no vampires) and I've been writing furiously for publication since September 2007.

I didn't know you wrote fantasy first! I just know you as the romantic suspense girl! ;) And just so you know, I loved the Pound Puppies when I was little...

Do you have a writing schedule, or do you just sit down whenever you get a spare moment?

Both? Generally I write when the kids are in bed, but I also try to write when just the youngest is asleep, or the youngest two... So yeah, both!

I love it when my kids go to bed. Not that I don't love them, it's just so nice to have peace and quiet for an hour until I go to bed!

Could you tell us a little about yourself? Random facts? Hidden talents?

Oh, I'm full of the random. Random facts: I have three kids, know three languages and play three instruments. My father's name is Benjamin Franklin. My husband wore a kilt for our wedding. I have more pet peeves than I can count. I really can touch my nose with my tongue, and put my whole fist in my mouth! I talk so fast that this whole paragraph would be one breath, and my friends have told me "You know, you're really funny, but by the time I've heard everything you said, you've moved on to something else!" (And I thought they didn't like my jokes!)

LOL. That is so cool that you know three languages! ! I know one. And a few Spanish words here and there. Hola. Me llamo Chantele. Yeah...that's about it. I must hear the kilt story!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing you couldn't live without? (Besides your family and a laptop of course.)

Well, to state the obvious, food and water. Or is it provided? If so, Internet access. Yep. Then I could get probably half of the other stuff I use in my daily life.

What? That's included with the laptop? Oh. Then air conditioning. I'd rather be cold than hot any day! And chocolate. Because when you're already starving to death, the diet goes out the window!

Ba ha ha ha! I'd totally choose chocolate too!

What is one book you could read over and over and over?

Well, my favorite book is The Great Gatsby (yes, really!). But lately I've only been rereading parenting and writing craft books. So maybe the most recent book I've reread: Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. (Or the next one up: Soft-Spoken Parenting: 50 Ways to Not Lose Your Temper With Your Kids by H. Wallace Goddard. I could probably read that 50 times ;)

I need to get that 50 Ways to Not Lose Your Temper With your Kids one...

What book are you dying to read this year?

Just one? The first one that springs to mind (since you're practically taunting me with it ;) is Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins--I actually have it from the library and need to read it by the middle of next week (when it's due!). I'm also looking forward to Supernaturally by Kiersten White and Monarch by Michelle Davidson Argyle. I've forbidden myself from buying any more books until I read the ones I have (unless they're a REALLY good deal) so I try to read as many of the Edgar Awards nominees as I can find at the library. AAAnd I'm way behind on my reading goal for the year, so I gotta get crackin!

Demonglass is AMAZING! Loved it. I'm excited for Supernaturally and Monarch as well!

What genre do you write and why?

I'd love to write the next Great American Novel—but I keep getting sidetracked by these fantastic stories that happen to be genre fiction. I love writing, and at this point romantic suspense and mystery are my favorite genres. How can you beat a story where good defeats evil (and true love conquers all)? I write mysteries and thrillers, sometimes with romance. When I came back to writing in 2007, I actually started with a historical romance, then I wrote three romantic suspense manuscripts. Then I moved to more straight thrillers for my last two manuscripts.

And she is a dang good writer guys! Seriously. Jordan blows me away with how much she knows about writing. She's awesome!

Do you have any writing rituals? Music, silence, eating, etc.

Open Word doc. Open vein. Go.

(Whoa, no cutting! Just quoting!) You had me scared for a minute there! ;)
As a mom, I've learned to write with CHAOS in the background. Silence is great, too. I enjoy eating, but I kinda need my hands to type. Sometimes chocolate makes a good motivator, though.

During last year's NaNo (I did a half-Nano), I learned to love writing on Dr. Evil's site: a text box with a timer. If you stop typing for a few seconds, the screen turns pink, then red, then plays something obnoxious like a baby crying (ha! I'm a mom! I'm impervious!) or "Mmbop!"

And one more trick to focusing: headphones. We usually have the TV on in the background (sad but true), and if I'm getting too distracted, I put on classical music--one CD in particular that I've had since I was 15.

I have never heard of the Dr. Evil site! I may have to check it out...

Where do you come up with your ideas? Dreams, while driving, etc?

The last time I planned my next scene while driving, I rear ended someone. (The mark of a true writer!) (Oh, and there was no damage, I just rolled into them at a stoplight.)

Not doin' that again!

My current WIP was inspired by a commercial for a TV series and an out-of-the-blue idea. I've also been inspired by dreams, the news, and random thoughts--especially "Who is the worst, most devastating person that could be behind this crime?"

I love hearing how people get their ideas. I think it's fascinating. Oh, and please refrain from rear-ending someone else while plotting your next novel! LOL

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Don't give up. Publishing can be a discouraging business, but I think the biggest differentiation between published and unpublished is perseverance.
And writing conferences! What I consider my first real affirmation of my writing came at a conference. As Annette Lyon has said, a writer's conference is where I get to hang out with "my people," people who get writing and writers. (Yeah, she's the one that persuaded me to go.)

(And no, I'm not intentionally setting up the conference where you and I will meet face-to-face this weekend ;)


Random Writing Question: If your current MC could visit any literary character in history, who would they visit with and why?

My MC, Katya, would rather visit a real person, thank you. (Keep your revanchist propaganda and write something that reflects the reality and glory of the Soviet Union, capitalist!) She'd love to meet Pavel "Pavlik" Morozov, a Hero of the Soviet Union (posthumous). As a thirteen-year-old, he turned in his father for forging documents and selling them to enemies of the state.* His father was arrested and eventually executed. The rest of the fam didn't appreciate Pavlik's patriotism, and they killed him. (They, in turn, were executed.) Good times, good times.

* = the official story. Probably not true.

Wow. I have no words for that last answer! LOL ! Thanks Jordan! You are awesome!


Michelle Merrill said...

Great interview. I loved learning more about Jordan. Really, the whole time I kept thinking of specific things to comment on and then there were too many and I forgot them all. Ugh! Um, I totally had pound puppies, I love Writing The Breakout Novel, I need to read that parenting book, and I'm so jealous of everyone going to the conference this weekend. Maybe Chantele can take a cardboard cutout of me :) Haha, can you imagine? That's hilarious. Just take half of me connected to you. You know, joint twins.

Okay, I'll stop. Man, I talk a lot too. Maybe someone thinks I'm funny :)

Crystal Collier said...

Fun interview! Now I'll be eagerly anticipating Jordan's book releases. =)

P.S. Where's her blog link?

Jordan McCollum said...

Thanks for having me! I can't wait to see you tomorrow :D !

Jordan McCollum said...

@Crystal Collier It's (hard to remember, I know) ;) I'm eagerly anticipating my future releases, too, LOL.

Oh, and Chantele: was I/our group really one of the first people to crit you? No way!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Jordan McCollumYes, you guys were the first people to read anything I've written! *shudders* :)

Jordan McCollum said...

@Chantele Sedgwick—That's amazing! Never having shared your work to agented in a matter of months? Wow! That's some major leaps in courage, LOL.

(How did you get this reply feature in your comments? So cool!)

Trisha said...

Me likes Jordan!! :D Great interview!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Awesome! I didn't realize you two knew each other. It's great to read more about you, Jordan! And I'm really honored that you put Monarch on your really excited list. :)