A thousand welcomes, Jon! Please tell us a little about yourself.
In September of 2009, I moved back to my childhood hometown, after leaving seven years ago, to pursue a writing career. I moved from a congested, frantic mid-sized city in the Midwest back to Ludington, Michigan. Ludington is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, abound with those little nooks off the road for regaining my focus and taking a deep breath. I am the fourth of five kids and I have eight nieces and nephews, ranging in age from nine months to fourteen years. My imagination runs wild like a cheetah. I am a habitual rambler and genetically a klutz. Also, my fingers move so much faster than my poor brain.
What are you currently working on?
I am going to sound like a freak, but I am actually working on, um, like thirty things. Okay, elaboration: my ADHD-self is working on those (picture books, middle grade, and young adult), I am working on a YA bildungsroman about two boys who become stepbrothers shortly after they both realize/accept that they are gay. I don't want to say too much about where their relationship goes, but I can tell you that they help each other deal with a lot crap, and there's a cool road trip involved. I also have three picture book manuscripts completed.
Recently, I began using the Snowflake Method to write a MG novel titled The Lemonade Stand. It's about a pair of twins who are mysteriously instructed to build a lemonade stand. They find themselves wrapped up in a war between two rivaling secret societies. The twins quickly become rivals amongst themselves. I am in the earliest stages, but the Snowflake Method has been helping a great deal!
Jon, What made you start to write seriously?
In July, I was bitten by a wasp for the first time ever. I had spent my whole life running from bees and wasps, whimpering like a little kid. Immediately after it happened, I thought, that was it? I went two days without anything more than a small, itchy bump. But, then, three days later, I woke up to a huge and achy hand. I went to my retail job, took my first Benadryl ever (there are a lot of firsts in this part), and proceeded to nearly pass out. I left work early, drove home, got stuck in a summertime traffic jam for an hour and a half, walked into my house, sat down and wrote my first book. The 920 word picture book has changed little since my medication-induced brainstorm and that also led me to realize several things. I like to write, I hate working retail, and sometimes the thing you fear the most (change, in my case) ends up saving you.
What stage are you at, currently, in your journey toward publication?
I believe my answer to question #1 overlaps here, but I can also tell you that I have queried a few, very few, agents and received rejections from them all. Those rejections actually led me to the internet and the formation of my blog.
If you had to pick one favorite blog, what would it be?
I am always seeking out new blogs and, therefore, finding new favorites. However, I can tell you that Bryan Bliss has made me laugh the most at Jedi! Ninja! Homeboy! and I have used up the most blogging hours at Paul Michael Murphy's blog Murphblog. Also, no one should miss Desperately Searching for my inner Mary Poppins.
What is a favorite blog post that you have written?
Oh, gosh. Can, I shamelessly plug my contest that is going on there right now? Why is it my favorite post? Because I created all those covers on Wednesday morning and I really enjoy them and the fact that they are helping me to focus.
What online resource have you found most helpful?
Nathan Bransford's blog has provided so many answers to my lingering questions. While I don't envy the responsibility he has taken on for his followers, his network is where I found almost every blog I enjoy. I also like to be unconventional and visit Wordle, The Vlog Brothers, and SCBWI, where I have yet to invest, but hope, in the next few months, to get ideas and a grasp on the literary world. I also spend years a week at Goodreads.
What has been your biggest trial in writing?
Getting over the fact that I, a twenty-four year old gay guy with no degree or noteworthy paper from high school to my name, have no idea what I am doing. Instead, I have been trying to focus on the fact that I love to write.
What tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?
Geez, I am redundant, but aside from the resources mentioned above, I love to just grab a book from my WIP's genre and see what that author did right (and wrong). Specifically, I target the Lois Lowry, Trenton Lee Stewart, and John Green titles on my personal book shelves.
Jon, Tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy literally changed the way I think. The honesty of his writing takes my breath away and the fact that his omission of general punctuation from this novel actually adds to the book is one of the most talented things I have ever witnessed.
What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?
Practically, I would like to find an agent for one or more of my picture books this year and have a published work in 2011. As for reaching for the stars, black holes, and tiny little space particles, I would like to publish a picture book, middle grade novel, and young adult novel, simultaneously.
So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?
Honestly? This part. This network of enthusiastic and appropriately pessimistic folk has opened my eyes, and heart, to the writing world. Six months ago, that wasp would've laughed at me if I'd told him he had crippled a writer's hands. These days, he's at my doorstep begging for a cameo.
If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?
I would love to be Tally Youngblood from Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld (at hero status in my eyes). Her world, filled with hoverboards, maglevs, and bubbly for everyone, is for me.
What are the other distractions in your life?
I am so glad you asked. Recently, we had nine puppies at the house, but eight of them were permanently shipped off to boarding school a few weeks ago. Belle, the one we are keeping, is in the picture with me. I work at a movie rental store and we are required to view a million movies a week, of which I usually have time for one. Oh, and Facebook.
And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?
Ugh. I have to be so complicated about everything. Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon (rarely), and coffee in the evening, but only with Carolans in it.
Oh, and Jon has been threatening to one-up me ever since the whole award boomerang fiasco. He's given me the head's up that TODAY is the day. So, after you ask him an awesome question in my comment section, (he'll be stopping by here to answer them) head on over and see if he really managed the feat!
Edited to add: Jon's one-up is an interview, a friday feature, of ME at HIS BLOG. Go check it out!