Tell me a little about yourself, personally.
Hi! I’m Justine. I’m a YA author, an editor for the editing collective CraftQuest.org, and an overall geek. I’m a wife and mother, and a mental health and chronic pain advocate. I tend to be outspoken, and I love to help other writers.
What is the name of the book or books you have published?
My debut novel was released July 2020 from Black Rose Writing. It is a YA Urban Fantasy called The Order of the Key.
Where can they be found?
It is available everywhere books are sold. The book’s summary can be found here: https://justinemanzano.com/the-order-of-the-key/
Do you have any current WIPs?
I’m currently shopping out a YA Contemporary Romance, Never Say Never. I am also working on a YA Dystopian, A Light So Dim.
How are they going?
A Light So Dim is about half finished, however, now that The Order of the Key is published, I have put the dystopian hold for a bit to start working on the outline of the sequel to Order. For having just started this week, outlining is going pretty well so far.
What got you into writing?
I’ve always been something of a storyteller, in that I’m very animated and tend to tell very detailed stories in a very dramatic fashion. When I was a kid, my brother and sister always encouraged me to write down all of the ideas in my head. We were writing fanfiction without really knowing what it was or posting it anywhere, always telling new stories about our favorite television characters.
When I met my future husband, he was very into writing, and we would brainstorm together. And then one day, while at an incredibly boring retail job, I started writing my first story while waiting for a customer.
I didn’t really believe I could write professionally until I gave birth to my son. I figured if I could raise a child, I could do anything. Or at least I better believe I could.
What keeps you focused?
I’m. . .not focused? I mean, I absolutely love writing and telling stories. And I absolutely love getting others to read. I remember when I was searching for an escape as a teenager, and the way books and television became that for me. I drowned in stories, and I want others to be able to do this as well. Between that, and the fact that I couldn’t not tell stories, I’m able to stay focused on writing. I often tell people I have no choice but to write, because it’s a part of me. Stories are always running in the background of my mind.
It also doesn’t hurt that, at this point, I have a ten year old who looks up to me. I can’t give up or lose focus if I want him to understand how much hard work goes into chasing your dreams.
What gives you inspiration?
Music inspires me. I’m always listening to music and lyrics or maybe even just tone can trigger ideas for me. I also keep a Pinterest page with tons of writing prompts (https://www.pinterest.com/justinehmanzano/writing-prompt-images/ ) and tons of character inspiration (https://www.pinterest.com/justinehmanzano/character-inspiration/ ) that I draw from. It helps me seed ideas, although usually by the time I finish whatever I was inspired to write, it looks nothing like the prompt. And once I get started, I use a Pinterest board to collect character descriptions and mood images.
This is the inspiration board I put together for The Order of the Key. https://www.pinterest.com/justinehmanzano/the-order-of-the-key/
How do you battle writer’s block?
Sometimes I just need to take a break. I allow myself that time, but as I do, I immerse myself in my inspirations, and I follow my writing gut. I follow any thread of a story idea and write it down until I’m back to my normal creative self.
Did you decide on traditional or self publishing?
I am doing traditional publishing, although much more indie than I initially intended.
What made you make that choice?
My book came at a time when the big five publishers had largely moved on from Urban Fantasy, but I know my readers are still out there. I seem to be recreating myself as a writer that pursues hybrid publishing. And I’m having a lot of fun with it. Although it’s probably going to make me super busy. I’ve always been a bit of a hyperactive human, so hopefully hyperactivity will help me keep up with the work I’m bringing on myself.
How does it feel to be considered an author?
It feels kinda surreal, honestly. It hasn’t really sunk in, and it probably won’t until I’m signing novels at a table. Maybe not even then.
What’s your social media platforms for people to find you?
I apologize in advance for the sheer amount of media I can be found on.
My blog and my Pinterest were mentioned above, and here is the Youtube for the editing service I work with, for a collection of videos about me and the others in our group talking about the writing business and craft: