Thursday, January 27, 2011
Author Spotlight: Jessica Degarmo
Hey, Love Stories fans! I had the wonderful priviledge of interviewing Jessica Degarmo, author of How To Meet A Guy At The Supermarket, a delightful and funny, romantic tale of going out there and finding a man (and all the frogs along the way). While you're sure to love the book, you may fall in love with Jessica, too. She's an absolute sweetheart and new to this writing business (succeeding wildly!). So, let's give her a warm welcome. *throws confetti*
CT: What made you decide to write this book?
JD: A few things happened to make me write this book. I visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my family in 2008 and 2009, and I absolutely loved it! The beach and that whole region are very inspiring. Then, my husband underwent a long-term layoff and we tried to come up with a creative way to make some extra money, and the idea for the book was just rattling around in my head, so I started to write it down. It went from idea in January 2010 to submitted to publishers by June 2010. I accepted a contract with Night Publishing in July, and the book was released in November 2010.
CT: I know the title was originally How to Meet a Guy at a Food Lion. I am glad you changed it, since I've never heard of a Food Lion. What exactly is that?
JD: The Food Lion is a chain of grocery stores down in the southern US. We spent a lot of time there during our vacations, so it was the inspiration for the Grocery King Supermarket in the book.
CT: What was your experience posting the book on Authonomy prior to its being published?
JD: Authonomy is a great tool for people who want to put feelers out and test the waters of being an author. I had never put my work out there for anyone else to see before, and I enjoyed the immediacy of the feedback I got. I won't say that everyone loved my book, but I rose through the ranks quite quickly, and ended up in top 200 prior to their system change-over that occurred a few months back. A lot of the comments on the book were very helpful, and I did do some revisions based on the feedback I got. Most importantly, I developed a great frienship with a lot of the other authors. I'd say it's an amazing networking tool.
CT: Why did you choose to set it in North Carolina?
JD: If you've never been there, you may not understand, but you're also depriving yourself! It's lovely...
CT: Any significance to the places mentioned in the book?
JD: Many of the places in the book are real businesses. The Corolla Brew Pub, The Outer Banks Brewing Station, Salty Paws Biscuits, Sooey's Barbeque, The Rundown Cafe and Tsunami Bar, and Lovie's Kitchen Table are all real, thriving businesses down in the Outer Banks. Check them out...they're lovely. Other places in the book are inspired by local businesses.
CT: Have you always lived in that part of the country?
JD: I've always lived on the upper east coast of the United States. The farthes west I've been is Michican. I hate snow, but at least up here we don't usually have hurricans, earthquakes, tornados, floods, or really big
bugs and other poisonous creepy-crawlies.
CT: What's been the best part of the process (writing, published, etc) for you so far?
JD: Everything! I did an interview with a local TV station the other morning, and when I watched the playback, I saw that they had put a banner across the bottom of the screen with my name. Under my name it said, "Author." It was probably the moment I realized I actually did it. I fulfilled a dream. I am an author. Up to this point, I've just considered myself somone who tried out writing and got lucky, but the TV station actually labelled me an author. It was the single biggest moment I think I've had since starting this journey.
(CT Note: You can view the video on Jessica's facebook page.)
CT: Tell me about Night Publishing. What's it like to work with them?
JD: Oh, they're amazing! Mr. Tim Roux, esquire, is a fantastic publisher. He's very pro-author, and he seems very committed in working with us to get our books out there. He's tireless and I am not quite sure how he does it all and retains his sanity, but he does. He's also very hands-on and approachable. It's not like a business where the inhabitants of the Emerald City never get to see the Wizard. It's like a family. We all chat
on the Night Reading site and support each other. Tim's been known to pop in on the forums regularly and chime in. It's great. I'm in good hands there, and I believe in Tim's vision for us.
CT: Who designed the cover?
JD: Well, initially my incredibly talented sister-in-law did a design, but due to sizing issues (don't ask, I'm incredibly dumb at this sort of stuff), we had to scrap hers. We used the same image, just tweaked it to make it what it is now. I'd like to think it's a great collaberation between Tim and Teresa.
CT: What sorts of marketing efforts have you done (alone or with the help of your publisher) to get the word out?
JD: Social networking is very NOW, and very much a part of my marketing. I have a facebook page (Books by Jessica L. Degarmo) a blog (that I'm horrible at updating, but occasionally I post on it) at http://www.jessicadegarmo.com/, and I'm a member of Authonomy still. I also try to contact our local media to let them know what's going on. I've had some small write-ups in our local paper, and the interview on WENY TV. Tim also does his own promotion and we have both sent the book to various book reviewers/bloggers to get them to review and promote the work for us.
CT: What do you have coming out next?
JD: Hooking Up will be released by Night Publishing in March 2011. It's a story about Caitlin, a young woman with abandonment issues who looks to find temporary solace in the arms of a stranger, just for the night. The problem is, he won't go away! How did Catie manage to find the one guy in town who wants more than a one-night stand?
CT: Any words of advice for aspiring authors?
JD: Don't give up! Learn all you can, but don't take yourself too seriously. There are always naysayers out there and not everyone will like your work. Just do the best you can and explore many avenues for publishing. Network and create a good support system. And most importantly, write from within. Thanks so much for having me! It was great chatting with you!
Thanks, Jessica. We loved having you on the blog and best of luck to you on your future books!