J.L. Smith – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

It’s called Reporting for Doodie: One Grandmother’s Story of Commitment, Frustration and Unwavering Love. It’s a very timely nonfiction account of the effects that military deployment has on the lives of the caregivers at home. It’s funny, sad, heartwarming all at once and has been getting great reviews and causing a lot of tears!

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m originally from Pennsylvania, but have lived in southern California for over 30 years, so this feels like home. I am a freelance writer and self-published author. I love to write – anything and everything!

My mother instilled the love of the written word in me at an early age, especially the works of Erma Bombeck. Some reviewers of my book have actually compared my writing to hers…the ultimate compliment! After a very unexpected divorce, I reinvented myself – inside and out – and was actually chosen to share my story on the Oprah Winfrey Show!

What inspired you to write this book?

I had always wanted to write a book but wasn’t inspired enough by any particular topic. When caring for my 2-year old grandson while his parents were simultaneously deployed, he did something so funny one day (read Chapter 1)that it served as my epiphany to share my story with others as a story of inspiration and hope.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I spoke with several local authors and they said that I should self-publish, because was story was great the way it is. They said that a publisher could change my story whether I agreed or not, and to me that wasn’t an option. It is what it is…my story!

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I always knew from a young age…I couldn’t read or write enough! I just jumped into it with my first book.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Staying focused and within your story. I actually lost my entire book twice due to computer problems and almost gave up. But I stayed the course and was actually glad I did because I had a better ending later on!

How do you do research for your books?

Being a nonfiction, not much research was needed.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

Just that you can get through anything. You are stronger than you know and when faced with trials and tribulations, you can overcome them. That is the story my book tells.

What are you reading now?

Beyond the Bookstore by Brian Jud to find other venues to promote/sell my book.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I read mostly inspirational books that help me live a richer life. I love Jack Canfield’s work and similar authors. I want to get the most that life has to offer and maintain a positive attitude and my spiritual health.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I am…through various media, I am collecting stories from other people in similar situations as mine. Not necessarily military, but grandparents and caregivers from all walks of life. I’m working on compiling them into the next in my series. My goal is to partner with a major media outlet and choose the best of these stories, then offer them some type of reward: a vacation, baby-sitting services, help with school/daycare expenses, etc.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

They say “everyone has a book inside waiting to come out” and I believe that! If you’re passionate about something, or just like entertaining people, throw caution to the wind the just do it! Beginning your book – even by completing the first page – is overcoming the biggest obstacle!

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

Sending out review copies and posting the reviews on my website. The review have been absolutely wonderful. My background is in PR, so I’ve managed to get some great articles in papers, magazines, etc. I’m also planning a book signing at a local Barnes & Noble to celebrate “Month of the Military Child” and will donate a percentage of the sales to a child-based program such as “Operation Purple Camp”. I’ve also done a number of Blog Talk Radio interviews and they’ve been great.