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Monday, October 24, 2016

Q & A with Author Leslie DJ

Hi, Leslie. Thanks for joining me! Let's get started. What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Before publishing “That Girl” I told myself that I would be satisfied with just seeing my work in print. Now that I’ve achieved that I hope to turn Stacey Melendez’s journey into a three book series. 

What would your career look like in an ideal world?

In a perfect world I’d be a full-time writer. I’d author at least two book series and write about music for Rolling Stone magazine.

Those sound like great goals. What’s your guilty pleasure TV show?

I am a sucker for all things Bravo. There isn’t a Real Housewives franchise that I don’t love or love to hate. The Real Housewives of Atlanta and New York are by far superior to the other franchises. 

Do you believe in fate or love at first sight?

I’m a hopeless romantic and believe in love at first sight.

What is the strangest fact about you?

That I’ve interviewed music icons like Joan Jett, Marky Ramone and Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls.

That's pretty cool! Which writers inspire you?

Julia Alvarez and Junot Diaz. I’ve had the honor of meeting both on separate occasions and they were very encouraging and gracious. 

What are you working on right now?

I’m finishing up my second novel titled, “Luz” about a promising young Latina writer from Washington Heights, a predominantly Dominican neighborhood in New York City. Who upon receiving top honors for her short story, "Here and There" from the prestigious Quisqueya Writers of Tomorrow Association, Luz's boyfriend, Luke, suggests a couple's getaway to the Dominican Republic where he plans to propose; but when the trip to the Island brings her face to face with a past love, Luz is torn between honoring her commitment to Luke and revisiting an island romance. The story is told through a series of vignettes that chronicle Luz's struggle to reconcile her American identity with her Dominican side.

Oh, that sounds very interesting! I can't wait to read it! Why do you write?

I think I have something to say and, also, it’s the only thing I ever really wanted to do. 

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to publish their own book?

Ask for help. Writing can be a lonely, lengthy process but you can’t do it alone. There are many book lovers you can connect with online who will gladly beta read your work. Beta readers are crucial for any writer they help test the waters and can point out any plot holes.

Looking for beta readers is great advice. What book are you currently reading?

I just started Amy Schumer’s “The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo” I’m a big fan of her work and female comedians in general. 

That's on my to-read list! How can readers discover more about you and your work?

You can follow me on tumblr or like my Facebook page. If you’re into random thoughts about the Real Housewives, rock n roll and my Chihuahua, Joey, you can follow me on twitter and Instagram @sinistergirlz 

Awesome! Thanks for joining me on Judging More Than Just The Cover!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It’s a Writer Thing -- Turbo-Charge the Power of the Environment

Turbo-charge the power of the environment for you and your writing with stimulus generalizability

This is a guest post by Jessica Bayliss. 

Happy Fall!

Welcome back to my blog series on writing called, It’s a Writer Thing. Last time, I began a discussion about the concept of stimulus control, a powerful psychological principal we writers can harness to increase our drive to write. By creating a writing situation that we stick to—same day, same time, same place, same old robe that is really falling apart but we can’t live without—we can ingrain a writing habit and amp our productivity.

But, remember last time I talked about how there is a debate out there on whether writers should hit their manuscripts every single day? Some say yes, others say it should be up to the individual author to decide what works for them. According to psychology both of these camps have it right. Life is just full of confusing shit like that. 

So, though stimulus control is an excellent concept and will definitely work for you if you chose to set up your own writing habit, it can also hinder us at times. Today I wanted to talk about the flip side, a principal called stimulus generalizability.


Stimulus generalizability is the concept that covers how one’s behavior can become conditioned to occur in the context of many different stimuli. Remember the stop sign? Sure, it’s a very strongly conditioned stimulus for all us drivers, but so are stop lights, crossing families of geese, and the coffee shop that makes the perfect espresso.

Stimulus generalizability is how we turbo-charge the power of the environment to work for us and our writing. To appreciate the potential of stimulus generalizability, it’s important to understand the way stimulus control can mess us up.


Have you ever heard of a baseball player who won’t change his socks? The guy just wears them, all crusty and smelly, until the end of the season because of some belief that if he washes them, he’ll wash the luck out. In addition to representing a superstitious belief that has zero impact on whether his team wins the game or not, this scenario represents stimulus control at its very worst.

We can, at times, become so reliant on our designated routine—or lucky socks—that we begin to believe that the desired behavior we want is only possible in our special environmental conditions. In other words, if we as writers can’t write at the right time, in our favorite coffee house (and in the right table within said coffee house) or while wearing that ratty old robe, we think we cannot be productive at all. Sure, we may bang out a ton of words between 5AM and 6AM on weekdays, but what good is that if we can’t write at 3PM on a Sunday afternoon. Or in the car during a long road trip. Or in the evening after work when we discover we have some surprise free time. Or… 

What good is it if we can only hit one particular kind of goal under one particular set of circumstances?


In order to be productive as writers, we need to harness both stimulus control and stimulus generalizability.

Here’s how. I still say that starting off with one set routine is great. Condition yourself to write under your preferred circumstances first. BUT, once you’ve gotten into a good rhythm with that, it’s time to vary your writing environment. In addition to your usual time, start adding in other writing stimuli: your friend’s house; the car; the diner instead of the coffee house; a different Panera. Whatever. Vary the time, the music. Drink tea instead of coffee (or how about a big old glass of wine?). Just like a dog trained not to be an asshole in public because he can sit no matter where he is and who is giving the command, we will train ourselves to be productive writers under any circumstances.

So, remember, though stimulus control is an excellent tool, if we want optimal productivity, we must also practice writing in a variety of situations in order to let the behavior of writing generalize.

Next time, I’ll talk about the power of our own thoughts and some cognitive traps to watch out for. As always, a HUGE thanks to Amber Gregg for having me here on “Judging More than Just the Cover,” and until next time, don’t forget: You can do it! You can write!

This article was also posted on as a part of the "It's A Writer Thing" series. 

Jessica Bayliss is an author of commercial fiction who loves nothing better than getting lost in a good story, whether in print or on film. When not busy with her latest fiction project, she can be found loving her friends and family—especially her husband, Eric—playing with one pesky Havanese, or trying to appease an ornery cockatiel, typically with a cup of coffee near at hand. 

Check out Jessica's other posts:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Q & A with Author Glynis Astie

Hi, Glynis! Thanks for joining me. Let's get started. What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Well, Amber, I’m going to start this interview off with a bang. I have no idea what my ambitions are. Fabulous, right? Never in a million years did I think I would become an author. Yet somehow, four years have passed, I have released four books, and I’m still not sure where I see myself in the future. I love writing. I love bringing characters to life and making them say funny things. I get a total high over finding the perfect words to express a character’s feelings. And when I finally figure out how to bring my story to a magnificent close? That smile lasts for weeks!

So while I don’t have any grand aspirations, I do plan to write as long as it continues to make me (and hopefully a few readers out there) happy. What more can I ask for? 

What would your career look like in an ideal world?

No matter what I do, ideally it would be in a part-time capacity. My two boys are my first priority and I’m thrilled to be able to join in all their activities, help with homework and let them drive me completely crazy. I revel in it, since my mother wasn’t able to be home with us and I always felt like I missed out. Writing is the perfect choice for this as there is a degree of flexibility—particularly as a self-published author. It looks like I just may have my ideal career in my hot little hands already!

What’s your guilty pleasure TV show?

Oy vey! I have a long list. I absolutely love Gilmore Girls. (How many more days until the reboot?) I am also a total sucker for Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory and Once Upon a Time. Thanks to Netflix, I can also indulge in my obsession with Scrubs, Raising Hope and Hart of Dixie. There’s actually a much longer list, but I don’t want to bore you.  

Do you believe in fate or love at first sight?

Absolutely! I believe fate brought me to my husband. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, since I found his gorgeous appearance and spirited pursuit of me rather intimidating. (My love life until then involved men who believed it was best to show little to no interest in me.) Thankfully, I fought through my fear, got to know this amazing man and found myself engaged five weeks later. It was a crazy, whirlwind romance and I’m grateful for him every single day. Our story is so incredible, it became the subject of my debut novel, French Twist. Writing that was so much fun, I ended up penning a trilogy. (Spoiler alert! There will be at least one more book in the series.)

What is the strangest fact about you?

Again, this is a rather long list. As my oldest son often reminds me, I’m a total dork. But I embrace this fact! Truthfully, I don’t trust people who aren’t at least a little weird. I sing (badly) when the urge strikes, I dance to express joy (wherever I may be), I quote random movies constantly, I have a ridiculous love of puns and bad jokes, and I’m never afraid to look silly. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve embarrassed my sons just by being myself. They take it in stride though, so there’s that.

Which writers inspire you?

I have a great love of chick lit and women’s fiction. Give me some Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella and Helen Fielding and I’m good to go. The delightful characters, engaging storylines and kick ass writing that these women bring forth inspires me to do great things. Oooh! And Jen Lancaster. Her snark is legendary. I absolutely love her! Liane Moriarty and Kristin Hannah both take my breath away with their intriguing and heartfelt tales. Reading their work has inspired me to try more serious subject matter one day.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m writing French Roast, the fourth book in my French Twist series. After taking a year off to write my first standalone novel, Gamer Girl, it’s nice to be back with the Bennett-Durand family once more. Writing a series can be difficult, especially when you keep the same main character as I have, rather than switching things up with different personalities. Each book needs to deal with a new topic or show how your character has grown in a significant way. I would like to think I’ve accomplished this thus far, but I may be delusional. (Ha!) The fourth installment in the series will be a novella dealing with a tragic event in my heroine’s life, one I went through myself as the series is based on real-life events. Writing it scares me a little, but I think this is true of most things which turn out to be really great. I have high hopes!

Why do you write?

I think I got ahead of myself earlier. As I said, I love the act of writing. (Except when I want to pull my hair out because my characters aren’t making sense. Either that or they’re not speaking to me…) I write because it soothes me, gives me a creative outlet and, if I do things right, brings joy to other people. When I read a review of one of my books that tells me the reader laughed out loud? Best. Feeling. Ever.

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to publish their own book?

Don’t give up! Writing and publishing your own book is an extremely daunting task. The process will make you crazy, it will make you doubt yourself, but you must stay strong. If you’re not already part of at least one author group—either through Facebook, Twitter or *gasp* in person—join one. Join them all! There is no way I would have survived without the incredible people I have me through these channels. The advice, perspective and emotional support from my author peeps has been invaluable. They get me in a way my loved ones can’t and they keep me going when my writing life gets tough. It truly takes a village!

What books are you currently reading?

I’m lucky enough to snag advance copies of books my very talented friends produce. I literally just finished Mixing It Up (available October 19th) by the extremely talented Tracie Banister. Right before that was Catch a Falling Star (available now) by Geralyn Corcillo. I highly recommend both authors. I have read every single thing they’ve written and I can tell you without a doubt these ladies will keep you engaged for the long haul. Not to mention make you laugh really hard! The last book (well, screenplay, if you want to get technical) I read outside of chick lit/women’s fiction was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan and I really enjoyed this next chapter in the series.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

I’m all over the place! You can find my musings on a variety of topics split between Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. Please stop by and say hello! 

Thanks again for joining me, Glynis! Readers can also buy your book here. Good luck writing!