Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Interview with YA Author & Internet Radio Host Deborah Copeland


Deborah J. Copeland is a native New Yorker from the Boogie Down Bronx. She captures her memories and experiences coming of age in her North Bronx neighborhood in her books, The Kids at Latimar High and Spring Fever, Pink Snowballs, and a Splash of hater-aid. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Library Science from UMA and a MFA in Creative Writing from UCLA.

She currently resides in Southern, California, where she works with troubled-teens and enjoys writing contemporary/Hip Lit fiction for the young adult market. She is currently working on the third book in the Latimar High series,"4ever and 4always, 4real."

1) Please tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

When I was little I started writing plays. I took it so far that I hand-picked my childhood friends to play the actors. We rehearsed on the stoops and in our backyards, taking turns with our meeting spots. One summer we performed our first play that I had written, "Little Miss Broadway," in my parent's backyard. We made tickets: $.50 cents for the adults and $.25 cents for the kids. My friend's parents donated chairs and before you know it, neighbors filled my parent's backyard, and we had a show going on! We made about $45 dollars that summer. It was a great feeling! I remember my friends' parents shaking my hand and calling me Miss writer/producer. I fell in love with writing after that. Not to mention that every summer my friends and I put a show on and made money every time! We did everything from variety shows, beauty pageants, puppet shows, and original plays. By the time I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

2) Thanks for being my guest at the Dark Phantom, Deborah! Tell us about your YA novel. I hear it's the first in the series and you're already at work on the second one.

The Kids at Latimar High is a YA novel that follows a close nit group of friends coming of age in the Bronx, New York, all through their high school years. The two main female characters, Lauren and Rosalyn, couldn't be more opposites. Lauren is the bookworm, who writes for the school paper, and Rosalyn is the pretty and popular cheerleader. When Lauren gets a hot assignment to interview Kevin Johnson, Latimar High's star quarterback, she's suddenly in competition with just about every girl in the school vying for his attention, including her best friend Rosalyn. And suddenly, the two find themselves breaking their sacred "Girlfriends' do's and don't codes to live by." The girls must come to terms with their friendship and decide what's more important: the love of a boy or a friendship that can last a lifetime.

I just wrapped up the sequel, Spring Fever, Pink Snowballs, and a Splash of Hater-aid, and I'm shopping it around for an agent. I'm in love with my characters so it was hard for me to take a break. I'm currently working on the third book in the Latimar High Series.

3) How was your trip to publication?

I decided to self-publish. I did my research and read a lot of stories of how hard is it for first-time writers to get picked up by a traditional publisher, so I decided to self-publish. I must say, it's a lot of work, because as a writer, you can't just sit back and say, "Wow, it's done! I finally finished my book!" You have to market and promote your book every day. You become the writer and the promoter rolled into one. In some ways, it's gratifying because you have total control of your novel and planning book signings and marketing events,
especially when you get positive results. The downside is marketing a book can become very time-consuming when, as a writer, you just want to write. I have to balance the two every day.

4) What are your working habits like? Are you discipline?

I'm like an oxymoron. There are days that I wake up and my day is completely structured and organized: Shower, coffee/breakfast, turn on laptop, check emails and Blogs, more coffee, water the plants, write three hours straight without a break, ignoring phone calls, IM's until I full-fill my three hours of "creative zone time." But some days I totally deviate from my own rules and find myself packing to go on a road trip to San Francisco with some friends, like right now! Lol...We're leaving on Friday, hitting the road for some adventure and fun!

5) You also interview YA authors on your own radio show, The Teen Zone. What compelled you to start your own show?

One of the main reasons that I created The Teen Zone was to spotlight Indie and self-published books. It can be very difficult for self published and Indie books to get maximum exposure to the market like traditionally published books. There are a lot self-published gems that are flying under the radar and readers don't know anything about the author or their books. In addition to promoting self-published books, I also look for multi-cultural books written by Latino authors and authors of color that need more exposure to the market.

6) How may authors get in touch with you about an interview?

I just launched The Teen Zone in February of this year and since then I've interviewed several YA authors, such as, Sheryl Mallory-Johnson, author of L.A. Summer: Friends ‘Til The Blood End, Sandee Sgarlata, author of The Day After Tomorrow, author, Christina Hamlett, of Movie Girl, and Jo Ann Hernandez author of The Throwaway Piece. I am happy to announce that I've been receiving requests from authors, as well as, recommendations from readers about certain authors and their books.

7) Many authors are shy and nervous about being interviewed on live radio. What tips would you give them?

Well, first off. Being the people-person that I am, I always talk with the author that I'm about to interview over the phone a day before, or the morning of the show. It puts them at ease about any questions or concerns they may have about being on the show. Usually we end up chit-chatting about What's Poppin' in the YA Lit World, which totally breaks the ice, and by the time the show airs, the author is very relaxed and ready for a great interview.

But I do recommend the following tips:

1) Log in at least ten or fifteen minutes early before the show starts to get accustomed to the chat room.

2) Have your interview questions on hand during the live show.

3) If you're reading from your book, have the book handy and a bookmark between the page that you're going to start reading from.

4) Have a glass of water or beverage by your side.

5) If you have any websites or Blogs that you want to share with your readers, make sure that's it written down and handy.

6) And finally, just relax and enjoy being interviewed.

8) Tell us about your sites and blogs so readers may find more about you and your work.

I have a couple of sites where I interact with readers and post book news.

1) www.latimarhigh.com

2) www.whirlaboutpublishers.com

3) http://hermitwritersandcozynooks.wordpress.com/

4) http://www.blogtalkradio.com/TheTeenZone

9) Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I will be launching an online teen site called The Teen Zone in August. Teens, authors, and readers can interact with one another, read book reviews, get the latest news on new books, and more. URL: http://www.theteenzone.net (coming soon!)

Also, I am a panelist in Sormag's online writers conference this month, August 23-29th, discussing Self-publishing and Promotion for authors. www.sormag.com

Thanks, Deborah! www.tips-fb.com

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