Introducing The Secret Life of Jenny Liu by Jean Ramsden

Diverse Book Tours IconWriting Room 101 is thrilled to play host for the Diverse Book Tours Event – The Secret Life of Jenny Liu, written by Jean Ramsden.

Jean kindly agreed to an interview, which is a great way to learn more about the author, her work, and her latest release – The Secret Life of Jenny Liu.


What is your first memory of writing?

I moved frequently as a child and as a result of wanting to stay connected to my friends and the places I left behind, I became a voracious letter writer. At seven, I remember writing weekly letters to my best friend from kindergarten. Almost forty years later, based on this early intimacy with words, we still keep in touch, although it’s through email.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In high school, I wrote for and was editor of the yearbook. I was also experimenting with writing poetry. When I began winning awards and college scholarships for both styles, I felt that my writing had some merit. But, it wasn’t until I got paid for writing, initially for magazines and television, that I actually considered myself a writer.

What inspired you to write your first book?

When my husband was little, he left his noisy preschool in the English countryside unnoticed and walked a mile back home, where he knew it would be quiet. The first children’s book I wrote was a picture book based on his story. “It’s Too Loud in Here!” is about a boy who can’t concentrate because his friends are making too much noise.

How did you come up with the title?

Jenny Liu is quiet and shy. She listens, observes and notices the details that others don’t, which helps her solve classroom problems. I liked the idea of a quiet, clandestine heroine. But, Jenny’s secret life doesn’t only include spying. Her new class assumes she’s super smart and her piano teacher thinks she’s a musical genius, but she’s neither. Keeping these secrets—not admitting the truth about her abilities—is a lot more difficult.

Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?

A few of my experiences made their way into the book.

  1. Like Jenny, I moved frequently as a child. Although, I never lived in South Carolina.
  2. In the book, the winners of the soccer game get to spray each other with whipped cream. When I lived in southern Virginia, my elementary school held a similar party, except that we threw pies!
  3. The teachers in the book, Mr. Short and Ms. Candy, are sweet on each other. When I lived in upstate New York, my fifth-grade teachers got married.
  4. In the book, Ms. Candy begins every Tuesday with “Tuesday Times Tables” races. When I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, math races were a stressful part of my middle school day. During one race, a girl next to me admitted, “They think I’m smart, but I’m not.” This became one of Jenny’s dilemmas.

What was your favourite chapter to write?

I loved writing Chapter 11, “Thursday, February 11: Coming Clean,” because it includes such a lovely combination of humor, drama and suspense across situations and relationships. In addition, several characters reveal their true nature. Even though I know what’s coming, I cry every time!

What books have most influenced you?

  1. Anne of Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery
  2. This is How: Augusten Burrows
  3. Infinite Jest: David Foster Wallace
  4. Griffin & Sabine: Nick Bantock
  5. When I Have a Little Girl: Charlotte Zolotow
  6. The Poisonwood Bible: Barbara Kingsolver
  7. Living Zen: Charlotte Joko Beck
  8. American Pastoral: Philip Roth
  9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Lewis Carroll
  10. Bridge to Teribethia: Katherine Patterson
  11. Ismael: Daniel Quinn
  12. Man’s Search for Meaning: Victor Frankl
  13. Janey: Charlotte Zolotow
  14. Flowers for Algernon: Daniel Keyes
  15. Flesh and Blood: Michael Cunningham

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

The late Charlotte Zolotow. I admire her ability to write honest children’s books using simple, impactful, authentic text. One of the first writers to address topics like losing a friend, anger, moving away, a grandparent’s death, boys wanting to play with dolls and envy, Ms. Zolotow’s level of respect for and understanding of a child’s experience is, in my opinion, incomparable. Through her legacy, I continue to learn not only about writing, but about myself as a writer.

What book are you reading now?

Rebecca Solnit’s “The Faraway Nearby.” I’m reading Eva Ibbotson’s “Journey to the River Sea” to my four kids.

How long does it take you to write a book?

The first draft can take anywhere from one to six months. Sometimes, picture books take longer to write than YA novels!

What does your family think of your writing?

They are very encouraging and understand that I am happiest, the most balanced and my best self when I am writing. My daughters and husband are my first readers and editors. I test picture book content and word choice with my younger sons. Not only is my family helpful, but in addition to their love of books, they have become respectful of the writing process.

Do you use an outline or just write?

I outline first, down to the chapter titles. Outlining takes me about the same time as the actual writing. I have to be clear about how the story will start, develop and end.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by another writer?

Wait until the last possible moment to reveal significant information.

Do you start with character or plot?

Plot. Once I figure out the main plot points, the characters come to life!

What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you get an idea for a project?

It’s usually just one: “Why does this story need to be written?” If I can’t answer the question, I discard the idea.

What has been the toughest criticism you’ve received, and the best compliment?

I haven’t received much criticism, so I’ll focus on the best compliment. “Jenny’s like me,” a young reader said. “The Secret Life of Jenny Liu” was the first time she had seen a Chinese girl like herself as a protagonist of a contemporary book, let alone on the cover.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I am developing a children’s stage play for “The Secret Life of Jenny Liu.” The setting and the characters lend themselves to a visual telling of the story. I’m also editing my first YA novel.

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

By the end of the book, Jenny finds strength in the things that make her unique and she realizes that The Real Jenny Liu is “just right.” I would encourage readers to stay true to themselves. And, thank you for your kind words, smiles and photos of you reading “The Secret Life of Jenny Liu”—they bring me such joy.

The Secret Life of Jenny Liu Cover

The Secret Life of Jenny Liu

Jean Ramsden

ISBN: 9781500612122

Publisher: Jam & Jabber Books

Pages: 262

Genre: Middle Grade/Juvenile Fiction

Plot Summary:

Jenny Liu is on the move again. Except this time, she hasn’t landed at yet another Chinese-American School in California but at a public school in South Carolina. Shy, artistic Jenny wonders if she will ever figure out how to fit in amongst rowdy fifth graders and eccentric teachers with hard-to-understand southern accents. To make matters worse, the class thinks she is super smart and her piano teacher thinks she is a musical genius. With school activities that test her intelligence and an upcoming piano recital, it’s getting harder for Jenny to do what’s right—to tell the truth—especially since she knows that The Real Jenny Liu would be even more of an outsider. Or would she?

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BiographyAuthor Information

Jean Ramsden is a writer, producer and educational consultant. She graduated from Cornell University and Harvard University, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and four children.

Author Links


Twitter:  Author: @Jean_Ramsden ; Publisher: @jabberandjam


Guest Post – Gloria Weber: E-book Covers (Historical Fiction)

As a writer, I like trying to write in different genres, because I love to read them and to push my limits.  As a reader, I try to vary my reading, because I like discovering new things to love.  Often, what I read I write.

There’s one exception: Historical Romance.

I love reading knights falling in love with ladies in castles.  I love dashing great coats and tricky bodices.  I love horses and carriages and the sexy times inside of them.  It’s almost like another world.  I’m totally a sucker when it comes to reading Historical Romance.

And I’ve tried to write it.  Since the Geneva Convention has put a ban on inhumane forms of torture I have never let another person read these attempts.  It was that bad.

The skill it takes to have a good romance novel is insane!  Hot scenes are a delicate balance of actions, feelings, and pacing that I fumble over.  Stereo instructions are sexier than what I come up with.  Also, the historical knowledge.  Making sure you aren’t mixing Regency and Edwardian eras with fashions, styles, and etiquette!  I’m horrible with dates and do just the above.  Historical Romance is totally beyond my grasp to write.

But not beyond my grasp is using imaging programs.  I love digital art.  And as of late, I’ve been making some Historical Romance inspired covers.  Can’t write them, so cover them, I guess.  I’ve put them up for sale for $10 each, so those writers on tight budgets looking for a beautiful cover can find one.

Finally, I’m able to contribute a a genre I love, but can’t write.

You can find my Etsy cover shop at:



Have a great day,

Gloria Weber

Writer of Speculative Fiction
Visit my Website to find out more about:

GASLIGHT DEMONS a novel published by Morbidgames Publishing.
MAD one of the tales in 20,001: A Steampunk Odyssey.
ETERNAL SERVICE a story in The Ghost IS the Machine.
CRIMSON MAIL (Volume 1) and NO MAIL (Volume 2) in the The Crimson Pact anthology series.

Fire in their hearts

LHN shared this beautiful poem, for the daily writing prompt – Seductive Saturdays.

LOVE HAPPY NOTES - The Home of Inspiration, Happiness and Fun

True Love

You feel the warmth from the first touch of hands, but when the sky shows you this, you know: True love has begun…

Wanting more than whispers of affection, 
years plodding alone, needs veiled.
Below the shroud, two hopeful hearts wait.  

By chance they meet.

Beneath the words, True Love speaks:
integrity, devotion, joy, innocence, acceptance. 

Without warning, the dream is real.
Hearts full, they can breath.

We will stand together whatever we weather,
 joined but not tethered.
Care of each other, preceding all else. 

Regardless of circumstance, near or apart
we choose to be joined at the heart.’

The photo is unedited or cropped, (apart from the frame and copyright). It is a mystery to me how two fiery hearts photobombed my camera. I was in my element watching the fireworks with him, and taking photos … but when I saw this shot I was astonished and delighted to receive such a…

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Author Interview: Quan Willimas, author of GodMode

I hope you’ve had the chance to catch up on Quan’s tour this week. I posted a review on Wednesday, and you can find it here. Quan kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us, so I hope you enjoy the interview.

godmode-coverWhat is your first memory of writing?

In 2nd grade I wrote and drew a comic book about a generic masked superhero called MANGLOR. I managed to finish about five issues of it before I lost interest. I even drew my own Met Life ads within the book. (“Get Met. It Pays. Better do it, or you’ll pay.’)

When and why did you begin writing?

My first published “book” was a small mystery novel I did as part of a 5th grade class project. It was a class assignment, but it really opened my mind to the possibilities of what could be done with words and stories.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In the 6th grade my English teacher had a daily “fluency” session, where she had the students spend an hour writing about whatever was on their minds at the time. Then she would invite a student to read what they wrote in front of the class. I used the time to work on a book. Each session I would write a new chapter. When I was invited to speak, I read a chapter of my book, and the class responded quite well to it. That reaction told me that I was onto something.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was unpublished, a literary epic (and technically historical fiction because it took place over 20 years ago), chronicling a fictional rap group. I had gotten dragged by my girlfriend to see Waiting to Exhale, and I wanted to write a more guy-friendly version of that type of story.

How did you come up with the title? For Godmode,

I wanted to set a specific tone, and in the case of this book, the tone was of a high action videogame. So I needed a gaming term that fit the action and theme of the story. Godmode is a term used for a secret code that grants some form of extreme boost to the player, whether it be invincibility, or unlimited ammunition, or unlimited lives, and things like that. I felt that matched what my hero feels when he loses control of his rage and turns into an unstoppable fighting machine.

Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Sometimes, but not always. The heroine of my first published novel “The Leopard Man” was entirely based on my niece. And the things the male protagonist in my latest novel ”Queen of Hearts, King of Spades” experiences, are uncomfortably close to situations I have actually been through. But often, I just make stuff up based on my imagination and research.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

The biggest influence on my writing style would have to be my godsister, who is also my content editor. Her input, questions and criticism has had the most direct impact on what I do as a writer and storyteller.

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Stay tuned! If you thought GODMODE, or any of my other books, were cool – you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

How long does it take you to write a book?

Depends on a number of things: how much time I have to write, my inspiration level, how much time I have to spend on research, etc. I wrote the leopard man in a year, but Double Entry took me a mere 8 months, while Godmode took me three years to finish the first draft.

What does your family think of your writing?

Most members are supportive. My parents are both songwriters, so they understand the writing process. Some of the family is a little on the doubting Thomas side. I think that for them, until I sell more than 1000 copies of my books, what I do is just a hobby.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found work best?

I use any method, technique or resource I can get my hands on: blogs; banner ads; book tours; signings; merchandise…anything is fair game if it will help spread the word.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an all-around creator. In addition to novels, I also produce webcomics, board/card games and music. Most of what I do can be found at my personal website:, except for my music, which can be found

How did you choose the genre you write in?

The story dictates the genre. I just write the story and decide once I have a good general idea of what direction the story is going in. My stories have been hard to pigeonhole into one category. The Leopard Man was a young adult thriller. Double Entry was equal parts romance, family melodrama and business fiction. Godmode could be classified as either sci-fi, pulp action or horror.

Do you suffer from writers block?

Quite a bit. But the advantage of having a lot of ideas is that when I’m stuck on one idea, I can shift focus to another idea until a solution to whatever kept me from continuing the first one presents itself.

What was your favourite chapter to write?

I like writing action, and am always looking for better ways to do it. The flight-gaunt fight scene from Godmode was fun to write because it gave me a chance to really showcase my protagonist’s scientific mind as well as show some cool fighting action.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I’m trying to get beta readers, an agent and/or a publisher for my literary love story, “Queen of Hearts, King of Spades.” Also piecing together concepts and ideas for an epic urban high fantasy adventure series. Finally, I dabble in music (check me out at, and I’m currently developing a concept rap album which will also double as a poetry chapbook. I’ve got about 8 songs written, which is half of the album. If you like James Bond, you’ll love this project. So stay tuned.

What has been the toughest criticism you’ve received, and the best compliment?

The most damning thing you can hear as a writer is “I really don’t care about these characters.” Your central characters can be good or evil, rich or poor, or whatever you want, but most importantly they have to be INTERESTING. If not, then you’ve failed as a writer, and I had to do some serious soul searching when my first proofreader told me that about Elijah. But I loved it when my content editor told me that I have a great ability to tell a story. To me that means I have a natural knack for plot and pace, for building suspense and for keeping you wondering what’s going to happen next! It’s something good to build on.

Is there any advice you’d like to share?

One word: WRITE!!! Don’t talk about how you want to write something someday. Write something now. Don’t let your ideas fester around in your mind until they are either forgotten or they drive you crazy. Write them down. Don’t just tell people about those crazy dreams or fantasies you’ve been having. Write them down. Got a strong opinion about something? Is something happening in the world that is bothering you? Write it down and put your opinions in black and white. Just had an epiphany or some life changing philosophy, quote or catchphrase come to mind? Write it down! You can go back and refine your writings into something publishable later. Just get it out of your head and into some tangible form. This is who you are. This is what you do. Runners run. Singers sing. Fighters fight. Travelers travel. Writers write.

Review: GodMode by Quan Williams


Elijah wakes up in a cage, and can barely remember anything about himself or his situation. He fights his way alone to escape a building full of bizarre and deadly monsters, while learning disturbing truths about himself. Once he finds the way out, he has to pass it up and keep fighting to rescue his wife and child from his nemesis.


I had no idea what to expect when beginning this novel, though I guessed at the horror. It begins in darkness, as Elijah wakes up in an unfamiliar environment with no idea how he got there. I really enjoyed the first person narrative; it was akin to waking in the dark with him – a terrifying place to be. Descriptions of those first few agonising minutes, and the sense of anticipation, were beautifully executed.

The story is reminiscent of the Resident Evil movies, minus the zombies. Not that this book needed any; there were monstrosities abound. It was horrifying to realise these creatures had once been human and I was torn between pity and fear. But there were other genetically modified aberrations, and I coped with them until Elijah was confronted with flesh-eating spiders. At that point, I was so in the zone I wanted to run screaming in the opposite direction!

Being inside Elijah’s head brought the gore and horror of his situation into sharp focus. Descriptions were often graphic and the creatures the stuff of nightmares. The action was non-stop throughout – he faced a new horror at every turn. I found his humour a nice touch; it gave me a little breathing space.

My favourite thing about the book is the mystery element. Elijah’s memories return in a series of flashbacks, and this was a definite hook. I especially liked the fact the author linked them to sounds/sights/smells – it was a sensory overload.

There were twists and unexpected revelations, and Elijah’s conflicts were well thought out; the echoes of his past intertwining with the choices he made. The more he remembers, the clearer the picture becomes.

I really liked Elijah’s voice, his strength and his willingness to accept the mistakes he made. I get the feeling this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.


photoAuthor Bio.

Quan Williams has previously published three other books and various short stories, as well as spending two years as a journalist for The Michigan Daily Newspaper. He studied creative writing under the tutelage of Jonis Agee, author of “Strange Angels” and “South of Resurrection.”

Social Media Links:




Google +:

Purchasing Links:



Also available:, nook, and itunes

The book is $12.99, downloads are 2.99

Author Spotlight: Quan Williams Blog Tour – Guest Post

This week Quan Williams, author of GodMode, is celebrating the release of his new book with a Blog Tour, organised by Dragon Knight Chronicles.

Writing Room 101 will be providing three stops along the tour. Today Quan has a guest post for us. On Wednesday I will be providing a review of the book and on Saturday, Quan joins us for an exclusive interview.

So, without further ado, I’ll hand you over to the man himself.

The Osh Moment

By Quan Williams

Here’s a little tidbit for all of you fledgeling writers out there. This is something that I feel is essential to any good story, and something that you must be able to master for your stories to reach their full potential. I personally use it quite a bit.

I call it “The OSH moment.”

What is the OSH moment, you may ask?

The OSH moment is, simply put, the moment where the feces hits the fan. This is the one moment where everything is either going wrong or is about to go wrong, and your protagonist is wondering “what the hell am I going to do now?”

If you look at basically any movie – let’s say a love story – you’ll see this principle in action. You have your boy meets girl moment, but there’s always some twist to the meeting, some secret or tidbit of information that the protagonist has that his or her love interest isn’t privy to. The two have their ups and downs throughout the movie, but everything seems to be progressing along. Then that little tidbit becomes public knowledge, and the truth comes out, and this moment puts the whole relationship in jeopardy. That is the OSH moment, the crossroads where things can go either way.

And it doesn’t just work in romance stories. You have it in your spy novels where the spy’s cover is blown, or in action movies where the hero meets the foe he can’t beat. All of those old “wanna get away?” airline commercials are based on the OSH moment.

You especially get this moment in real life. For instance, I was working at the plant a while back, and the machine I was working on was acting snarky. The maintenance guy comes around to try to fix the durned thing, but can’t quite figure out what’s wrong with it. So he goes out to get some more tools. I’m standing there waiting for him, and I don’t like standing around when I’m getting paid to work. So I pick up one of the components he was looking at, thinking “Well, maybe he missed something.” Yeah, like I’m going to find something a trained mechanic missed. Complete brainfart on my part, but I digress. Almost as soon as I pick the thing up, little bitty parts of the component fall out, bounce off of the machine, and roll over the floor. And when maintenance guy comes back, I just knew he was going to be livid that somebody messed with the part while he was gone.

This is the OSH moment; the moment where you’re most likely to yell


Get it now?

As a writer, you want to have as many of these in your story as possible, especially at the end of chapters or acts or commercial breaks. It’s a crucial element to help ramp up the tension in your story. And you want to have at least one big OSH moment towards the end. Give it a try, and I guarantee your stories will be that much more fun to read.

By the way, there’s a song you should be listening to that illustrates my point perfectly. Check out “Oh Sh*t,” by the Pharcyde. It encompasses everything I just mentioned, and it’s even named after my new term. Check it out.



Elijah wakes up in a cage, and can barely remember anything about himself or his situation. He fights his way alone to escape a building full of bizarre and deadly monsters, while learning disturbing truths about himself. Once he finds the way out, he has to pass it up and keep fighting to rescue hiw wife and child from his nemesis.

photoAuthor Bio

Quan Williams has previously published three other books and various short stories, as well as spending two years as a journalist for The Michigan Daily Newspaper. He studied creative writing under the tutelage of Jonis Agee, author of “Strange Angels” and “South of Resurrection.”

Social Media Links:




Google +:

Purchasing Links:



Also available:, nook, and itunes

The book is $12.99, downloads are 2.99

Guest Post: Writers’ Critique Groups by D. Wallace Peach

It’s obvious to me, I need to set up a critique group as soon as possible! This guest post on Nicholas’ site is definitely worth a read 🙂

Nicholas C. Rossis

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksI first came across D. Wallace Peach on Bookvetter; her fantasy novel Sunwielder was one of several suggested to me. It joined my tbr list and climbed steadily until I read it. That was a few months ago, and still find it twirling in my head.

Peach has created not just a great fantasy world, but also one of the best books I’ve read this year, so be sure to check out her “ask and ye shall receive” giveaway! It couldn’t be simpler: just leave a comment on her website saying which book you’d like to receive. The first twenty visitors will get a free copy in their email!

One of the best things of our era is the ease with which we can get in touch with our favourite authors. I contacted her to let her know how much I enjoyed her book, and she agreed to a guest post…

View original post 1,403 more words

Blitz Tour Feature – Angelic Confessions: Character Interview

Angelic ConfessionsJan Marie, author of Angelic Confessions has provided us with a character interview – courtesy of the tour host, Kathryn Jenkins at Dragon Knight Chronicles.

Character Interview: Aye

You were a very confused child and spent much of your childhood sheltered by Father. Did you ever feel true resentment towards him?

I confess I did. I never understood why he sheltered me so much. In the end though I did learn why he did, but I still question why he didn’t have more faith that I could control the darkness inside me.

There was a strong connection between you and Father. Did you ever question his intentions towards you? With how he behaved towards you?

I wondered, but he was Father. It was incomprehensible for me to question him. I loved him dearly.

Aye, you went through a big change after meeting Pio. Did you ever question his motives towards you? Or did you always know he cared?

I didn’t even recognize he cared. I just thought it was his duty to protect me. I was totally oblivious to how he felt…to how I felt. I didn’t want to address those feelings at first.

There was gossip among the angels about you. Did you ever let it truly bother you? Or did the gossip just get brushed off without a care?

I tried to brush it off without a care, but in truth it did bother me. I told no one though, for I often wondered were they right?

Why do you think you had such a draw to the humans?

They were free to roam, and I was not. I think that was part of the allure.

Blitz Tour Feature – Angelic Confessions by Jan Marie

Angelic Confessions


In a world where the Father created all I was born…an angel. A new breed I was meant to overthrow the children of heaven. To prevent this I was taken, and raised as Father’s own. my memories wiped, the dark beast inside me caged. Memories never stay buried though…


I found Angelic Confessions an intriguing read. The opening is strong; the sense of confusion – a struggle between light and dark.

The majority of the book takes place in Heaven, within a controlled environment; confines set by the Heavenly Father. Aye learns from a young age she is special, and is all but smothered with affection. I found it an entertaining notion that Aye was able to charm her father so thoroughly, especially given the fact he is The Father – an all powerful being. The internal politics were well thought out and resonated with the setting. I would have liked a little more description, especially as we are given a peek into Heaven itself.

This may have been a conscious decision by the author. The first part of the story is told from Aye’s point of view, and her confusion adds to the experience somehow. She lives with an inner turmoil, knowledge of a power she does not fully understand.

The second half is told from Pio’s perspective – an elite guard and Aye’s Watcher. His conflicts are that of a loyal soldier and his protective instincts make him a formidable angel. I really liked the contrast, especially as we are taken back through the events to experience them through a different set of eyes.

I enjoyed the romance, a connection which spans lifetimes. It is a tale of forbidden desire, of dark secrets and a love that must be protected at all costs.


About the Author

JanJan Marie resides quietly in the Forest City of Illinois with her three little cherubs: Zachery(9) and twins Aidan and Zane. Oh! And their guardian kitty cats Kitkat and Heizey.

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Angelic Confessions is available on Amazon, Kindle, and

Prices: $12.00 paperback

            $10.80 KINDLE