Writer Wednesday: JR Szpila

IMG_0812For this week’s Writer Wednesday, I’m excited to welcome JR Szpila, a fellow  writer that I met through a Facebook group associated with the She’s Novel website. JR is just getting started on her writing career so I’m excited to hear where she’s at now, and hope to follow-up with her again in the future for updates! Also, don’t forget to check out her Instagram (link below) for really cool 15 second book reviews. Let’s get started.

Q: Hi JR! Let’s start with a little bit about you. Where are you from? When and how did you first get into writing?

A: I’m from Clifton Park, NY which is a suburb north of Albany. And yes, people, there are other places in NY other than NYC! I have always loved to write; in middle school,  I wrote fan fiction for my favorite books before I even knew what fan fiction meant. I started really diving into writing further in college. One of my professors in my junior year taught right out of the book and was very monotone. I found it impossible to pay attention so instead my brain went to imagination land and I started writing. (College students – I don’t recommend this 😉 but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to stay awake in class.)

Q: Tell me about your writing and editing processes. Are you a plotter or pantser?

A: I am by far a plotter. I plot large picture things first and little details here and there. Most of the time, I have to shift around ideas to give the story a better flow. If I don’t plot my story, it takes on a life of its own but not in a good way. My editing process is still something I am learning. I hate the editing process. I am awful at spelling and grammar, so that part is the hardest for me. Fixing the character development is very fun for me though. I work a full-time job during the week, so writing can sometimes take a back seat. I try and set weekly word count goals of around 7,000. I try and write at least 500 a day and then I finish the rest on the weekend.

Q: Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you break through?

A: When it comes to writers block, it happens mostly when I’m tired. I just stare aimlessly at the screen and zone out. I typically try and force myself to write even if it’s only five words. I close my eyes and visualize my characters. If that doesn’t work, I read other people’s words which always give me ideas. If all else fails, I sleep and sleep some more. I love the feeling of waking up refreshed the next morning with fresh ideas.

Q: Are there any websites or resources that have been helpful to you as a writer that you would recommend?

A: I have found a few websites very helpful. I love She’s Novel, for basic writing tips. I also like watching YouTube videos. The two writing accounts I have found most helpful are the accounts of Jenna Moreci and Kim Chance. I also love following book reviewers, reading the books similar to mine, and seeing what others say about it. My favorite YA book review is PolandbananasBOOKS.

Q: I know you have a YA fantasy manuscript in the works. What can you tell me about it? Where did you get inspiration for this series?

A: I can’t reveal any secrets about the books just yet, but if you follow me on social media the big reveal is coming soon. I will be posting the series title reveal and the first book promo pic reveal there. I can tell you it is full of magic, romance, and action. The funny thing is all of my ideas and inspiration come from dreams. I literally dream up my characters. I can’t get away from them once they are in my head.

Q: Tell me about your protagonist(s)? What actor/actress could you see playing him/her?

A: My main character’s personality reminds me of a mix up of the characters from the books I love. She is sort of a mix of Celaena, from Throne of Glass, Rose from Vampire Academy, and Tessa from the Infernal Devices series. But you’ll have to judge for yourselves. The actress I envision playing her would be either Crystal Reed (who played Allison Argent on Teen Wolf) or Poppy Dayton (who plays Amberle on Shannara Chronicles).  Everyone sees different people when they read, so you can be the judge.

Q: What is your publishing plan? Do you want to pursue the traditional route or the indie route?

A: I would love to pursue the traditional route but if it doesn’t go well, I plan on self-publishing.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am in the process of editing book one of my series and writing book two. I like to multi-task.

Q: What are you currently reading?

A: Currently I am reading the Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater and I am also re-reading the Divergent series.

Q: Who or what has most influenced you as a writer? Why?

A: I love so many authors, it is hard to say. I don’t think one particular author has truly influenced me but I would say the biggest influence is my faith.

Q: What is your Hogwarts house and why?

A: I’m a huge Potter fan. I would love to say Gryffindor is my house but I have to be honest and say Slytherin is. My personality is exactly the qualities of a Slytherin through and through.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A: I dabble in a little photography. I also like to explore but I don’t like to sweat. I would live under the sea; I’m just waiting on my tail.

Make sure you follow JR at her social media accounts for more news about her books!


JS 2JR Szpila is a mermaid in disguise and walks on two legs only because it’s more socially acceptable. She is a lover of photography, chocolate milk, pasta, and Jesus. JR graduated from UAlbany with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and works for her church, a non-profit organization. She writes and reads in every spare moment she has, including the dinner table, the beach, and even at sporting events. She is currently writing a YA fantasy series and is hoping the first book will be released in 2017. She lives in Saratoga, NY with her husband and two cats, Luke and Leia.

Do you have any other questions for JR? Leave them in the comments!

If you would like to be featured on Writer Wednesday, email me at cassidytaylorauthor@gmail.com. Writers of any genre at any stage in your career welcome.

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