Interview with author of Just Sing
1. Tell me about your writing process.
Just Sing was my first book and I did a rough outline and then starting writing. About a third of the way through I realized I needed some structure. Around that same time, I went to the San Diego State Writer’s Conference and in the workshops there, I got a few good plot tools. After I finished my first draft, I took an intense editing course and that’s when I discovered the wonderment of a beat sheet. A beat sheet and a pre-writing checklist are now my go to items for writing. It can be a bit of work up front, but it’s worth it since it’s like a road map for my books. With that said, I do have some punster tendencies when I write so I give myself the artistic license to go back and revise my beat sheet as things come to me while I’m writing.
2. How do you get involved or immersed in your story world?
This may make me sound like a loon, but I seriously think of my story and my characters so much they’re like imaginary friends. I think my character development is one of my strengths and I would consider my stories very character driven. I actually write back-story for my characters and if someone asks, I can give them my character’s full history. When I wrote Just Sing, I had these characters in mind and I build a world for them, so I’d say I start with strong likable characters and build from there.
3. What inspired you to write "Just Sing?"
I had these characters and built a world for them. Just Sing is a combination of several facets of my life. It’s set in California, which I lived in my whole life--half the time in Northern California and half the time in Southern California. I currently live in LA and have known some people who have had the dream to be a singer and I actually used to do finances for a Hollywood studio. Lastly, I grew up in a small town and pulled that small town/ranch feel into my story. You mix all of that up and poof, my characters, Lily and Aiden, had a playground.
4. Would you share with me about your publication journey?
I know every aspiring author hears it every day, but I cannot stress it enough. Never give up. If your current story doesn’t get you a book deal or an agent or you feel isn’t good enough to self-publishing, then shelve it and move on. I shelved Just Sing once and now it’s getting published. Also, I think that everyone has a different path, and everyone has to figure out if their path is right for them. Just make sure you’re okay with that decision. If you want an agent and that’s your goal, keep trying, if not with your current book then write another one. You can always come back to that book. If you want to self-pub, that’s great, but make sure you don’t regret your decision. One of my critique partners always tells me that you only get one debut, make sure it’s the one you want as your first impression with your readers.
5. And lastly, are you working on any new ideas? What are your future plans?
I am one of those people that has more ideas than time. But next on my plate is a new adult contemporary. I think it’s an original storyline and I’m hoping to share it with the world soon. Also, I’m working on the next book after Just Sing, it’s called Going Home.
Sixteen-year-old Lily O’Brien has one goal in life—to sing. Her dream is to get into a top notch college vocal program, but the summer before her junior year, her high school cuts their awarding-winning vocal ensemble. She might as well kiss her dreams goodbye.
When the snobby new neighbors move into their mansion up the hill, Lily is positive summer can’t get any worse, and she’s determined to hate and ignore them—until she meets Aiden.
He’s broken and beautiful, and they become reluctant friends. Through her newfound friendship, she finds the strength to step outside the comfort of her plan and follow her dream.But when Lily’s family is about to lose their home, she puts her wishes aside and finds the answer to save their generations-old ranch in the last place she expected.
By day, René Gilley works as a portfolio manager for a Fortune 50 company, but her nights and weekends are spent writing young adult and new adult romance books. Her brain never shuts off—always dreaming up new situations her characters can get into.
Her California home is often the backdrop for her books. Her debut novel, Just Sing of the SEVEN OAKS SERIES, was years in the making. Like her character, René seeing Just Sing being published is a dream come true.
Just Sing evolves mostly around Lily’s struggle with her family, the reality of her dreams, and her first relationship issues with the neighbors’ son Aiden. Honestly Lily is a truly amazing... She is strong-willed and her loyalty and love for her family is admirable. -Between Dreams and Reality Blog
With the popularity of shows like American Idol and The Voice, Gilley's Just Sing promises to bring high engagement to any YA reader who dreams of the stage, lives the stage, or enjoys the stage as a spectator... -Fictionally Yours Blog
Just Sing was a complete and pleasant surprise. There's not many YA novels out there that can capture my heart and soul wholly. And this book is definitely one of them. -Goodreads Review