Monday, July 13, 2015

Interview with Debra Coleman Jeter and GIVEAWAY!!!!

Debra Coleman Jeter, author of The Ticket

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment, include contact information.  USA only. 

What is your current work in progress?

I have two adult novels almost ready to go; they are set in the fictional town of Sugar Sands, Alabama, a small Southern beach town. I am also currently writing an ambitious saga about my grandmother’s life, which is based on the facts that I know, but fictionalized. I start when she is twelve and cover fifty years of her life.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I prefer to set my novels in places I can see vividly, having experienced something similar in my own life. So I typically write about small southern towns: Paradise, Kentucky, in The Ticket, patterned after the small towns of Mayfield, Murray, or Benton, in western Kentucky, where I grew up; Sugar Sands, Alabama, patterned after Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama, where my family has vacationed regularly for years; Bell City, Kentucky, where my grandmother grew up with eight brothers and sisters. I’ve spent a month each year in New Zealand for about 12 years, so eventually I plan to set a novel there.

What three things about you would surprise readers?

I start to dry out like a fish if I’m away from water too long. I’m a world- class (or least LA, as in lower Alabama, class) boogie boarder. I’ve done a fair amount of stage acting, including several of Shakespeare’s plays (Ariel in The Tempest was a favorite—I also played the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz).

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Boogie boarding (I currently have a sprained ankle from this), tennis, boating.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

I have a colleague at Vanderbilt whose signature on his emails reads “Never, never, never give up.” I think this is what I would tell writers. That, and write what you care deeply about, rather than what you think the market is ripe for.

Tell us about The Ticket – a brief blurb:

Tray Dunaway longs to be part of the popular set at school, but she's growing too fast and her clothes no longer fit right. When she wears Gram's hand-sewn clothes to school, the kids make fun of her tall, boney appearance. Tray's luck improves when Pee Wee Johnson, a down-and-out friend of her father's, buys two lottery tickets and gives one to Mr. Dunaway as a thank-you for driving him to Hazard, Illinois. When her father's ticket turns out to be the winner, Johnson demands his cut of the proceeds, but Tray's dad refuses. What seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly becomes a disturbing turn of events as Johnson threatens to cause problems for the family and Tray.

Is there one particular message or “moral of the story” you hope readers walk away with?

There are actually two important messages. One is that wealth might not bring all the good things we sometimes envision and might create more problems than it solves. The second message is to treasure the moments with your loved ones; we never know how long we will have them in our lives.

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.

I’m giving away an autographed copy of The Ticket. Also, to learn how to enter a drawing for a Kindle Fire, visit my media page at:

How do you see yourself in your character’s story, if at all?

I think there’s always a piece of me in every character I create, from the most sympathetic to the least. In The Ticket, I see myself most clearly in Tray and in her relationship with her grandmother.

Where do you like to write?

When I’m writing, I get so immersed in my characters and their lives I can write almost anywhere. As a part-time writer with lots of other demands on my time, I have learned to scribble thoughts on anything and everything whenever a sentence, a phrase, or an idea strikes. It might be on a napkin in the middle of a business lunch, or on a scrap of paper in my handbag during my commute (not a recommended strategy, from a safety perspective), or even on an order of worship during a sermon. I can’t always explain where or why an idea comes to me when it does, but I try to take advantage of every one if at all possible. If I wait, thinking, “I couldn’t possibly forget this one,” I may surprise myself with my capacity to forget.

When you’re working on a project, how do you keep the immensity of it from getting you down?

I often rely on Robert J. Ray’s book on writing, The Weekend Novelist, to provide a structure. In it Ray describes a fifty-two week program designed to produce a finished novel writing only on weekends, though I never follow his plan exactly. For one thing, there are often weekends that don’t lend themselves to any extensive writing. Stuff comes up. Fortunately, my hours as a professor are fairly flexible. This allows me to start the day on certain weekdays by writing at least a couple of pages, although I aim for five pages. I can make up for this by doing my class preparation late at night, right before I go to bed.

One of the challenges I faced in writing The Ticket was getting past inertia at the start of a writing day. For me, the first sentence of the day is almost always the one that comes hardest. The more I tell myself I need to get on with it, the harder it is to make my pen move (yes, I write the old-fashioned way using pen and paper). I didn’t discover any magic tricks here, though I tried copying a passage from a favorite novel a time or two. What I avoided was giving up for the day. Instead I would tell myself that I could always trash the pages later if they stunk, as I often suspected they would. Then I’d force myself to start moving my pen. As a part-time writer, I didn’t feel I had the luxury of waiting until later in the day. Usually, after the rough start, the words would start to flow. But not always. Some days I’d have to grind out every word. Later, though, I discovered surprises in both directions. When I would reread what I had written, the stuff I wrote when I felt inspired sometimes turned out to be lousy; and some of the most painfully written pages turned out to be pretty good.

Where can readers find you online?

Twitter: @DebColemanJeter
Media page (see this for Kindle Fire give-away):

 Author Biography

A Vanderbilt University professor, Debra Coleman Jeter has published fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her story, “Recovery,” won first prize in a Christian Woman short story competition, and her nonfiction book “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the 2007 USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband.


Deana said...

I enjoyed the interview. It was interesting to learn that you like to in the water. It is true that we need to treasure the moments we have with our loved ones. I would be honored to win your book. Thanks for the chance.

Deana Dick

Jennifer Hibdon said...

I am intrigued with your story. The interview was very enlightening. I could see me using your "get started" moves. Thanx for the giveaway!

Reader's Cozy Corner said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!

momof8 said...

Love meeting new to me authors. Your story line has me curious and love you use small town settings. Look forward to reading your works. Cfernstaedt10 (at)gmail(dot)com

lollipops said...

entering for someone else

I tried to post a comment, but your choices for posting don't work for me. Here is my comment:

The Ticket almost sounds like a YA book. I wonder if it would be appropriate for my 10 year old granddaughter who is struggling with self esteem issues and weight. I just wish your heroine was fat instead of tall, though.

I would love to win this book!

Bonnie Engstrom

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