It's February Guestopia time, and today we're welcoming the fabulous S.J. Lomas to YAtopia!
S.J. is a cheerful Michigan girl who writes strange and somewhat dark stories. Librarian by day and writer by whatever free time she can find, she has an extra special fondness for books by Michael Lawrence, Beth Revis, and Kelly Creagh. Her to-be-read pile will take several lifetimes to get through, yet she continues to add to it. She thinks she'd enjoy living an extra life in a dreamworld, especially if she could dream her way to England
Off we go!
Is this your
first published book?
This is my first YA book. I have also published 3 digital picture books
with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as Sarah Perry. Pajama Girl, Pajama Girl Meets
Blanket Boy, and There Was an Old Woman: An Alphabet Adventure.
Dream Girl. The sequel, Dream Frequency, will be released this spring.
Teens age 13+
Is it a
series or standalone?
It’s a duology. Just the two books.
Are you an
Not yet, but I’m hoping to get there someday.
publisher snapped up your book?
An independent publisher in Royal Oak, Michigan called Scribe Publishing
published Dream Girl. Unfortunately, the publisher is no longer doing fiction
so I’m putting Dream Frequency out on my own.
have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?
For Dream Girl, I was lucky to have a good amount of creative input into
the publishing process. For Dream Frequency, I am the publishing process. I
have a lot of great connections so I can’t say I’m going through it alone, but
it is cool to have the final say on everything.
Do you have
I’m a librarian. (Can you tell I love books?)
receive many, if any, rejections prior?
Yes! It’s a disheartening experience, but I’ve read a lot of articles
about how many times very famous authors were rejected so I always felt that I
was in great company.
created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked
up on you?
first inklings of Dream Girl came to me during college. I woke up from a very
weird and vivid dream and scribbled down some thoughts about it. I knew it
would make a great story somehow, someday but I didn’t do anything with it for
several years. Finally, I was reading A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence
and when I finished it, my dream popped into my mind and it hit me it had to become
a young adult novel. The storyline started coming to me after that.
How long did
you plot/plan until you started writing it?
I am more of a pantser than a plotter. I scribbled a few character notes
and took off writing.
started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it
There were some
missteps with the plot, but I tried to write as much as I could and not worry
about the draft until I had to. Just getting something down was more important
than having it come out right. You can always go back and revise.
drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?
I was still writing it when SCBWI had a local conference with paid
critiques available. It was for the first 10 pages so I decided to give it a
try to see if it was even a project worth continuing. I was matched with NYT
Best-selling author, Jay Asher. Even though it was pretty rough at that stage,
he was very encouraging and enthusiastic about the pages he saw. That kept me
going. I didn’t let anyone else read it until about draft five. And that was my
fellow writer/friend, Jody Lamb.
employ an editor/proofreader or did you have a critique partner/beta readers
before you started querying?
Jody Lamb read and edited for me before I sent it out. I was also lucky
to have worked in advertising for a few years. Through that, I have friends who
are graphic artists and proofreaders. I became good friends with one of the
proofreaders and she went through the manuscript before I sent it out.
many drafts did it take before you sent the manuscript off into the real world?
I believe it was around seven.
drafts until it was published?
Has the book
changed dramatically since the first draft?
Not so dramatic that you wouldn’t think it was the same book, but there
were some substantial changes, including a character who wrote himself in
halfway through. He ended up becoming one of the most important characters in
Are there any
parts you’d like to change even now?
Oh yes. I think I could always find something to change around, add,
delete, or fiddle with. When I come up with an idea for a novel, it’s like this
glowing orb of possibility in my mind. It isn’t concrete but it’s shining and
beautiful. I think it’s impossible to ever get the finished project to fully
realize that glowing ideal I started with, but it doesn’t stop me from trying.
I get as close as I can, but there’s always more that could be done. At least,
it feels that way.
What part of
writing do you find the easiest?
Naming characters and writing dialog comes easiest for me.
What part do you find hardest?
Getting through the marathon of completing that first draft is the
hardest. I often find myself wishing I could just plug a USB drive into my
brain and get the basic story out that way. I’d rather work on revising what’s
already there, even though that is difficult too. But all of it’s difficult in
a good way.
Do you push
through writing barriers or walk away?
It depends. Some days, I sit down at the computer, open my Word document
and then say, Crap. It’s THAT scene. Suddenly,
housework never looked so appealing, or scheduling appointments, etc. But I can
only let myself get away with that for so long. Then I take a look at what’s
really happening. If I’m so frustrated that I can’t write a scene, there must
be something wrong with the story. If I don’t want to write it, then who can I
expect to read it? Once I figure out where it went wrong, I can figure out how
to fix it. Then I’m ready to dive back in.
projects do you have on the go at the same time?
One is more than enough!
Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be
I believe it
can be learned, but I think you’re born with the interest to do it. In my case,
I fell in love with writing in 2nd grade when our teacher gave us
little construction paper journals and had us write every day. I loved it! It
was a joy that never left me so I decided to get serious about it.
future novels do you have planned?
Beyond Dream Frequency, I have a contemporary realistic YA that I’m going
to work on next, followed by a New Adult novel after that.
Do you write
other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?
I do have a couple short stories on Amazon. I have a blog but I only
write posts when I feel I have something to say. I also write picture books as
highlight of being published so far?
There is nothing like seeing the excitement someone else has for my work.
Especially people who aren’t related to me! There are two teenage girls, in
particular, who really enjoy Dream Girl and can’t wait for Dream Frequency to come
out. I’m not going to lie. It was really difficult to write Dream Frequency and
I often thought of those two girls and it helped me keep going.
me one writing tip that works for you.
Trust yourself to write the story that’s inside of you. It can be very
hard writing a novel. It’s easy to second guess yourself or compare what you’re
doing to what others have done. It’s nice to remember that my story is exactly
that, mine. I am equipped to tell it if I just stop getting in my own way.
And one that
Real writers must write every day! Sorry. That just isn’t my reality. I
write when I have the energy and the time. I’ve tried to sit down and write
when I don’t have either of those things and nothing happens. It may take me
longer to get those drafts out, but I still do.
Can you give
us a clue or secret about the next book?
Dream Frequency takes place mostly in the United States Agency of Dream
Work. Readers finally get to see what that place is like and what it’s all
have you always wanted to be asked but never have? What would the answer be?
have always wanted Paul McCartney to ask me to dinner. The answer would be YES!
Does that count?
Brilliant! I love this answer - and hope one day Mr. McCartney gets in touch! Thank you so much for joining us today, S.J. Lomas. We wish you heaps of luck with and your other titles and future works.
If you want to follow S.J. Lomas' journey and find out more about her, here are some links that will help!
We are ten writers passionate about Young Adult literature in all shapes and sizes. Check out our About Us page for details on all of our amazing contributors! Don't hesitate to contact us with questions or comments.