Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jess Riley knows how to light up a room, plus a book giveaway

Introduction by
Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

"All the lonely people...where do they all come from?" Those are the song lyrics I hear in my head when I see the title of Jess Riley's latest novel, which is timed perfectly with the winter holidays, when too much family time might not always be a good thing. (Of course, if you adore your family and want to spend all your time with them, you'll just read this novel and say "I'm glad it's not about me!") That's because All the Lonely People is about a woman who puts an ad on Craigslist for a new family for Christmas. Sound enticing yet? It sure does to all of us at Chick Lit Central! And after getting to know Jess a little better, we're even more intrigued about what kind of story can come from her creative and humorous mind!

Jess appeals to my mid-western roots, seeing as she's from Wisconsin. (Growing up in Illinois, it was just a hop, skip and jump away!) Aside from her budding writing career that started in junior high and carried her through high school, Jess has been a waitress, a blue cheese packager, and currently, a grant writer for local school districts. She once worked at a mall-based toy store during the Tickle Me Elmo craze of 1996 and lived to tell about it. She has also worked as a teaching assistant at a medium-security men's prison, which was much less stressful. A 1998 UW-Oshkosh graduate, Jess has dual degrees in English and history. She currently lives in a drafty old house in Oshkosh,Wisconsin with her husband and a neurotic dog that despises public radio.

Thanks to Jess, we have one paperback copy of her book,  All The Lonely People for a US reader and one e-book open to readers worldwide.

You can find Jess at her website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

At what age did you first discover writing?
I grew up in a house surrounded by books; my Dad is also a writer, and I remember the biggest treat was to be granted time on his electric typewriter. I read voraciously as a kid, and wrote lots of bad poems and ridiculous stories. Winkitty Goes to the Eye Doctor (4th grade?) even included a felt puppet I made: a winking pink kitten. Get it? Winkitty. Ho-ho. I am cringing just typing this.

Do you base any of your characters on yourself?
As I did in my first novel, Driving Sideways, I wrote All the Lonely People from a first person perspective. Storytelling comes more naturally to me that way, but a side effect is that some of my views (and definitely my bad jokes) sift into my protagonists. So, no characters are really based on me, but sometimes a bit of me comes along for the ride.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
It felt like living in a bamboo cage in a Viet Cong prison for ten years, and one day someone suddenly hauls you up to be a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

If they made a movie of All the Lonely People, who would play the main characters?
I’d love to see Kristin Wiig play Jaime, and Paul Rudd play her husband Erik. Vince Vaughn would make a great Clint; I know someone who knows him in real life, and he’s as obnoxious off-screen as his on-screen characters. As for my motley “new family,” I actually wrote Paul Stanley with Zack Galifianikis in mind. Blythe Danner would make a lovely Evelyn, Amanda Seyfried could play a wonderfully fragile Alyssa, and I’m torn between Jason Schwartzman and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt to play Chris.

Favorite holiday or winter themed song?
“Christmastime is Here,” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Times a thousand. Infinity padlock.

Something that gets you in the mood for the holidays:
Well, sometime in October I place an order for new candles from Pure Integrity. My God, just the smell of some of their scents--Whispering Pines, Mistletoe, Victorian Christmas—and I’m seven-years-old again, peeling off the perforated dates on my scratch-n-sniff advent calendar.

They didn’t pay me to say that, but it’s true.

Craziest thing that has ever happened to you during the holiday season:
So, first a bit of back story: I love the movie A Christmas Story (“I like the Tin Man”), and a few years ago my husband actually ordered me a full-sized replica of the leg lamp. It’s prominently lit in my kitchen window every year. Anyway, last year I was scrubbing the kitchen floor to prep for some guests, and there was a knocking on my front door. Some drunk, but very cheerful old nut was driving by, saw my leg lamp in the window, and simply had to tell me how much it made his day. “It’s just like in that movie! Where’d you get it? What a thing to have! I just can’t get over it!” He was giggling like a lunatic, going on and on about it, but thankfully, he was harmless.

Oh, and when I was a kid in 4-H, we routinely caroled at local nursing homes—not really the craziest holiday story, but people with dementia shouting profanities at you when you’re a nine-year-old dancing and singing a solo from “A Marshmallow World” can be a bit memorable.

How do you stay warm on a cold winter's day?
I have tiny space heaters near my feet at my computer at work and home, and blast those suckers anytime my toes feel numb. Which is a lot, because I don’t exercise nearly as much as I should.

Special thanks to Jess for a fun chat and sharing her book with our readers.

How to win All The Lonely People:
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.)  Also, please indicate which country you are located in. If you are in the USA and do not indicate, you will only be eligible for the e-book.

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you during the holiday season?
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. Follow us on Twitter and/or Pinterest.
6. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

Paperback-US only; e-book-Worldwide. Giveaway ends December 16th at midnight EST.  

For another chance to win this book, visit Booking with Manic. (US/Canada. Ends 12/16.)


BCT said...

Nothing crazy...maybe we live the boring life? Maybe, but it suits me just fine! :)

Kritters Ramblings said...

I have racked my brain and I can not think of anything crazy that has happened during the holidays. I have quite the busy december this year, but nothing too wild!

i am a fan on facebook
i follow via gfc
i follow via twitter

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

Hmmm, I cannot think of anything besides when I worked in retail and the nutsos out Christmas shopping!

I'm a follower on FB, Twitter and follow the blog through GFC!

missamberljohnson at gmail dot com

pascale said...

Craziest thing at christmas.... dishwasher broke on christmas eve and we had 15 people over for dinner...

I follow the blog
I am a fan on facebook

pascale said...

I am in the US!!!

Bridget said...

Daughther came home, had to pick her up at the airport on Christmas Day. She was puking sick.

Stephanie said...

Nothing crazy has happened to me during the holiday season.

gfc follower


Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read this book!

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...


Sheena said...

Does working in retail during the holidays be considered crazy enough? :)

I follow the webpage and follow on twitter and am also a member on the facebook page


Jessica said...

1. Umm one time I made a pie that I didn't refrigerate long enough.
2. I follow the blog through GFC.
3. I posted this on twitter. https://twitter.com/xxpaperhearts/status/278579777122734081
4. I'm a member of Chick Lit Central on facebook.
5. I follow through twitter and pinterest. twitter username= xxpaperhearts

-Jessica M

Nova said...

Worked in retail in layaway ...ugh! Crazy! Had to go outside in all kinds of weather to get stuff out of storage trailers ...
Follow blog by email.
Liked and follow on facebook.
Follow on pinterest. lilnono
Follow on GFC.

Marthalynn said...

I love that her dog hates public radio! I don't know what I'd do if my animals felt that way. We are constantly listening!

Not sure that it was crazy, but I did get married on December 21 in Jamaica. I also spent a New Year's Eve in Cancun. I guess you could say that trip got a little crazy...

I follow!

marthalynn16 at gmail

Kristen said...

I spent one childhood Christmas in the ER with a really bad case of strep throat. When I didn't even care about opening presents, my parents were worried!

I follow on FB and email.


Kim W. said...

1. The only thing I can think of is a couple of years ago, my darling daughter, then 2, knocked over our decorated Christmas tree while reaching for a candy candy that was stuck on a branch!
2. I already follow the CLC blog
3. I already belong to CLC on Facebook
4. I follow CLC on Twitter

Kim from Canada

bn100 said...

Getting stuck at the airport overnight because of weather and flight delays

I follow the blog


StereoQueenBee said...

1. Please tell us: What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you during the holiday season?

Nothing that I can remember - but I like to take it really easy during the holidays!

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

Am already a follower.

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 already a member.

5. Follow us on Twitter and/or Pinterest.

Follow on Twitter.


Nina said...

Not too thrilling of an answer, but receiving a dog for Christmas was pretty crazy...especially since I was 10. Haha! I follow you guys on Twitter!

Linda Kish said...

Nothing crazy happens to me on Christmas or ever really. I did put the tree in the playpen when my son was little so he wouldn't climb it or undecorate it.

I am a GFC follower

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Literary Chanteuse said...

The craziest thing....hmmmm... well every christmas with my family is crazy, lol!

-blog follower
-member of CLC on fb
-folloer on pinterest & twitter



Unknown said...

Two years in a row my dad cut himself and had to go to the emergency room. That was about 10 years ago, and no incidents since then (knock on wood)!

I follow the blog
I'm a member of CLC on Facebook
I follow on twitter
I'm in the US


theresa said...


i am a fan of the facebook page

i live in the united kingdom

Kat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Videoclimber said...


Videoclimber said...

I follow on GFC as Tia

msamy said...

craziest holiday ever was when I got stuck at Kennedy airport in NYC for three straight days during a blizzard, and there was nobody allowed either in or out of the airport. I missed my travel arrangements, and had to sleep on the floor of the terminal, but I also met some really interesting people, including a lot of service members trying to get home for the holidays. I had a blast, as I was about 18...my entire family was there, and I made "friends" with everyone I met~

I follow the blog, am a member of CLC following through Facebook and Twitter, and have posted the contest on Twitter. My friend Stacy R.L recently joined CLC.

The book sounds like an awesome read, and the timing is perfect, as well. I've got it on my "to read" list, and can't wait to get a copy (hopefully, I win one)!

msamy AT pobox DOT com

msamy said...

I posted the contest on Twitter and Facebook!

Mary Preston said...

The only crazy thing I can think of is that it was cold on Christmas Day one year. I am in Australia & it is usually VERY hot for Christmas.

GFC & FB: Mary Preston


Kat said...

1. Craziest thing that happened is I slipped on ice and hurt my head on the bridge and my brother stood up at our window laughing!

2. Already Follow

3. Posted on facebook

4. Already Joined

5. Follow on Twitter


I live in UK

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I actually am a terrible person when it comes to faking things. My step grandmother got me a terrible looking sweater and I was 10 and I made the worse face ever and have always felt bad for that...

I follow here and on facebook..

mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews AT gmail DOT com

Maureen said...

The craziest thing was giving birth to my son on the 22nd and then having my whole family over the house on Christmas.
I follow on GFC
I follow on twitter
tweet: https://twitter.com/MaureenCE/status/279419797677170688
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Preet said...

1. I was baking a cake for a work related Christmas/Holiday party last Saturday and some batter dripped onto the over floor. Afterwards, I put the oven on clean and within 30 minutes the oven caught on fire! Luckily it stayed contained with in the oven, but the whole house was full of smoke and it took three days for the smell to go away. The cake ended up being delicious but it wasn't worth the panic it caused!

2.I follow the blog.

3.I follow on Twitter

4.I'm a fan on facebook


susieqlaw said...

This book sounds awesome and reminds me of the song this is for all the lonely people!

sendsusanmail AT gmail Dot com

I follow CLC blog, facebook, and twitter.

I tweeted this contest at susieqlaw.

Christmas Craziness: I had my wisdom teeth removed 3 days before Christmas assured that I would be fine for Christmas. Christmas Day....my face looked like a marshmellow...in bed....only thing I could eat was cool whip because of all the gauze in my mouth!!! Crazy!

Erica said...

Can't think of any crazy holiday stories. Wow my life must be DULL.

I follow the blog, FB, twitter, GFC and email.

wordywon at gmail dot com

Tiffany Drew said...

I honestly can't think of anything "crazy" that's happened to me, but I did spend a holiday sick and on bed rest while pregnant with my son :/

GFC follower Tiffany Drew
Facebook member Tiffany Drew
Twitter follower @enterthedrew
Pinterest follower Tiffany Drew
Tweeted: https://twitter.com/enterthedrew/status/280099109187244034


Ananda said...

Hey hey lovely girls from chick lit central! Gosh, I've missed you, hope you're all doing great.
As always thanks for the BEST giveaways, reviews and news on chick lit.

I'm not from USA, but I'm eligible for an e-book, which I would love to win:)

Ok, the craziest thing that happened during holidays and it was actually last year, is me getting pregnant. The crazy thing is that I had different plans for the year, like going to Switzerland for the PhD, but couldn't..cause of the fact I was waiting for a baby. Anyway, getting pregnant was a blessing and now I have 2 little angels:)

I'm following via GFC and twitter and e-mail address is

Love ya guys!!!

Alana P said...

I'd love to be considered for the prize!
Two crazy stories - both linked. In 2005, I landed my first gig out of journalism school as a tv reporter. My first day - coincidentally - landed on Christmas Eve. I was able to work my dream job, leave and get to my aunt's and uncle's to the biggest hugs and kisses.
That being said, there can't always be a positive without the negative. A few years later I was working at a magazine publishing company and as everyone were saying good-bye and hugging eachother for the Christmas holidays...I was pulled into my office and laid off. It was just 3 days until Christmas. I was curious why my other boss looked startled when I wished her Merry Christmas and didn't say much. I guess you can't have it all?

I'm Canadian so I'd love to be considered for the e-book.
I'm a follower in twitter/blog

Jeryl M. said...

I can't think of anything crazy that ever happened to me on the holidays.

I am a subscriber.

I am a Facebook follower.

I am a twitter follower.

I am a pinterest follower.