Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Interview with Jessica Strassner and book giveaway

By Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

We are thrilled to have Jessica Strassner here today to talk about her two novels and her three-legged dog, amongst other fun and interesting topics. Jessica is the author of "Here We Go" and "The One Who Got Away" (reviewed here) She was born in Pittsburgh, PA and then moved to Florida with her family in 1992, where she attended high school and college. She is currently a teacher (Teacher of the Year at her school in 2009) and lives with her husband and Yodi, the aforementioned three-legged dog.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and at her blog.

Jessica has one e-book of "The One Who Got Away" to share with a lucky reader. (This means it's an international giveaway!)

See a trailer for "The One Who Got Away":

Which of your books was more challenging to write?

The first one, definitely. I started "Here We Go" around 2005, but kept running into roadblocks – recently married, moved to a new house, changes in the job, stuff like that. Plus I kept having that feeling of WHY am I doing this? Will I ever really finish this? Will I ever really do anything with this, or am I just spending all my free time writing something that’s never going to amount to anything? I started and stopped writing a bunch of times, and then in the summer of 2008, my computer crashed and I lost EVERYTHING. I guess some people might’ve given up, but I took that as a sign to start with a clean slate and get it done! I finished the first book in 2010 and started querying agents. I spent over a year doing that, with a couple requests and my fair share of rejections, when I realized I was spending so much time doing research and contacting agents that I wasn’t writing anymore. So I started my second book, "The One Who Got Away," and it was going along great, but all those feelings started coming back about the first book, just sitting there, done. With no one to read it. That was the whole reason why I spent years and years writing it – for somebody else to read it, not just me. So I took the leap and self-published on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And I don’t regret it one bit!

Which authors have been inspirational for you when it came to writing?

Everybody. :) Because obviously, for them to get published, they spent a lot of years working their butts off to get where they are. I love Jane Green, Elin Hilderbrand, and Emily Giffin. In fact, I remember reading “Love the One You’re With” and almost crying because not only did I love that book, but it made me realize how badly I wanted to write a book that somebody else could identify with, react to emotionally, and enjoy! I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but that was probably when I realized that I had to make this happen!

In one sentence: What has your journey to publishing been like?

I’ve had my ups and downs but I've enjoyed every step of the way and am excited and hopeful for whatever the future may bring!

What one piece of advice would you like to share with aspiring authors?

Network, network, network! Get a blog, a website, a Facebook page, start Tweeting, and don’t be afraid to get yourself out there. It’s amazing what word of mouth can do. Join a critique group or a writing network for help and support. I’m really fortunate to be a part of a new group called Love a Happy Ending – ( a group of authors and readers who are all helping to read, review, and promote each others’ books through blogs and social networking sites.

If you were to choose one of your books to be made into a movie, which would you pick and who would you cast in the lead roles?

I used to do this all the time when I was writing "Here We Go," and I know I had people cast as Sam and Julia, Alex, Nick, and Joe in my head, but now I’m having a hard time remembering who they were! If it was going to be "The One Who Got Away," I like the idea of Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling together again to play Lucy and Jackson. Lucy’s friend Kate could be Katherine Heigl. Actually, now that I think about it, Kate is the main character in the book I’m working on now, and I can totally picture her being played by Katherine Heigl! I wonder what other people think. You know everybody has their own mental picture in their head of what they think these people should look like…

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

I teach 4th grade and my favorite thing about being a teacher is that time when the lesson has been taught and I can stand back and let the students explore on their own. It’s so rewarding to see the light bulbs go off over their heads when they have that A-HA moment where they “get” something. It’s nice to see a kid have that moment where they realize they’ve accomplished something – to see that pride and confidence in a kid’s smile is my favorite thing about teaching.

What is your favorite memory from this summer?

This summer has been crazy. I did a lot of traveling. I went back to my hometown (Pittsburgh!) for my best friend’s wedding, I went on a 7-night cruise that my husband WON from MyCokeRewards, and I visited New York City for the first time through the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy in Jersey City. There’s no way I could pick just one memory – too many wonderful and amazing things to choose from. I watched my oldest friend marry a terrific guy, I spent a week cruising around the Caribbean with my husband and two of our friends, and I got to meet some awesome teachers and explore The Big Apple on my own!

What is the best concert you have attended?

I LOVE going to concerts and have been to a bunch, but this one is easy to answer. U2 360 tour in Tampa in October, 2009. It wasn’t just a concert, it was an experience! A big group of us went up to Tampa early to tailgate and hang out beforehand. Our tickets were general admission on the floor, so we were pretty packed in, but I loved it! I’ve never been to anything like that before! I’ve seen some good shows before and after that one, but nothing can compare to seeing U2 in a huge stadium under the stars!

What is the funniest or craziest thing your three-legged dog has done recently?

Yodi has been practicing his swimming a lot this summer. He’s never been crazy about the pool, used to not go outside to pee if it was raining, and he HATES getting a bath. (And that makes two of us because I hate giving him a bath – it’s hard to hold a wet, three-legged dog who’s climbing the walls of the shower!) I don’t know what his deal is recently, though, because his little doggie life jacket comes out and he gets all excited. And he won’t go in the pool WITHOUT his life jacket. Which is probably a good thing, because he doesn’t swim all that well. He doesn’t swim in circles or anything, but it’s kind of hard for him to coordinate his kicks when he only has one foot up front to keep him afloat!

Which celebrities share a birthday with you?

Um… I have no idea. Let me look it up . Bryant Gumbel, Rebecca DeMornay, Tom Sizemore... A-ha! Greer Garson. According to the Guinness Book of World Records she has the longest Oscar acceptance speech on record. After she gave her 5 minute, 30 second speech, they started giving winners a time limit. We have something in common… we both like to talk a lot. :)

Thanks to Jessica for a fun and entertaining interview and for sharing her e-book with a lucky reader anywhere in the world!

How to win "The One Who Got Away":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is the best concert you've ever attended? (If you've never been to a concert, which performer or band do you really want to see in concert?)
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines, as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

Giveaway ends August 22nd at midnight EST.


DarleneLF said...

What a good interview and her dog is so sweet!
My favourite concert would have to be The Rolling Stones...saw them three times.
I'm also following this blog and a Facebook group member too!
darlenelfmail at gmail dot com

Jeryl M. said...

I would love to win.

Jeryl M. said...

The best concert I ever attended was Glee live.

I am a subscriber.

I am a Facebook fan.

Linda Kish said...

I enjoyed the interview. I can see how the A-HA moment with her students would be so rewarding.

Best concert...Frank Sinatra.

I am a GFC follower

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Amy said...

WOW what a great interview! I love children and enjoy working with them, the younger ones. When I volunteered w/ NY Cares many times I saw that A-HA moment. This is a tough question b/c I love live music and going to concerts. I have to share two. Seeing Billy Joel and Elton John together...all I have to say is WOW! They are unbelievable together. Second one would be when I saw Faith Hill and Tim Mcgraw together. Anyone can see how inlove they are.

I am follow a GFC follower, subscriber, fan of CLC on facebook and on twitter.

I shared this contest on my facebook wall and here is my tweet:!/jam_njellygirl/status/103986773012656128

Literary Chanteuse said...

The best concert for me Celine Dion. What a voice! It was before she became very famous so it was a smaller venue.

I'm a follower.


Georgina said...

My favourite concert was Glastonbury which is an English music festival
I follow on GFC and Facebook

Susan @ The Book Bag said...

Great interview - this book sounds wonderful!

1. Best concert would be Sugarland a few years ago at our State Fair - they put on an amazing show!
2. I am already a follower of your blog.
3. I already joined Chick Lit Central on Facebook.


Alison said...

Thanks for the chance to win :)

Alison said...

Best concert was probably Aerosmith

I follow through GFC

I subscribe to Email

I follow on Facebook

StereoQueenBee said...

1. Please tell us: What is the best concert you've ever attended? (If you've never been to a concert, which performer or band do you really want to see in concert?)

Prince! This year, June 24, he did SEVEN encores!!

2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).

I follow this blog.

3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.

Facebook - Sabrina-Kate Eryou
Twitter - stereoqueenbee

4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines, as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

Am a member

queenofcrunk at gmail dot com

Krystal Lynn said...

I've had so many great concert experiences that it's hard to choose! Seeing Selena in concert, though I can barely remember it, was amazing. She's always been my idol and this concert was shortly before her death, making it that much more special. When I was a teen, I was obsessed with *N SYNC and saw them live three times. They really put on great shows! Always sang live, never lip synched and had so much energy, it was so fun. Then, most recently, was the Josh Groban concert. That was almost like a holy experience! He's one of the best vocalists in the world and is amazing live! That night was one of the best of my entire life. I've seen so many other bands and artists live, I just love going to concerts! But these three are the unforgettable favorites.


Kim W. said...

1. Best concert....I've seen everyone from Kiss to Puff Daddy (before he was P. Diddy lol) to Michael Buble! I'm not sure I can just pick one favorite.....but I guess I would go with my most recent because it's the freshest in my mind, and that was KNOTBSB!!!!!

2. I follow this blog

3. I've posted this contest on Facebook

4. I'm a member of CLC on Facebook

Kat said...

1. Another great interview!

2. Best concert ever was the recent NKOTBSB! Fantastic evening and a dream come true.

3. I am a follower of the blog.

4. I am a member of CLC.

5. Posted on fb.