jd daniels holds a Doctor of Arts degree from Drake University with a dissertation of her poetry. Her award-winning fiction, non-fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including: The Broad River Review, The Sylvan Echo, The Elkhorn Review, Doorknobs & Bodypaint: An Anthology, The National PEN Woman’s Online Magazine and riverbabble. “Nancy’s Woodcut” won a prize in a contest sponsored by Emerson College, Cambridge University.
Say Yes, a book of poetry, 2013 topped the local bestseller list in Iowa City. The Old Wolf Lady: Wawewa Mepemoa, was awarded a publication grant from The Iowa Arts Council and three research grants from the college where she still teaches writing. Minute of Darkness and Eighteen Flash Fiction Stories debuted January, 2015. Through Pelican Eyes, 2014 is the first of the Jessie Murphy Mystery Series.
The Iowa Arts and Poets & Writers Directories invited her inclusion. She is also a co-founder and an editor for Prairie Wolf Press Review, a literary online journal featuring new and emerging writers and visual artists.
jd maintains a blog, is a member of two critique groups, Mystery Writers of America, and South West Florida PEN Women. Quick Walk to Murder, the Second Jessie Murphy Mystery, was recently released. Visit her website at to find where you can get her book: www.live-from-jd.com
Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
I write to quell and satisfy my inner creative demon. The first time I saw my words and name in print, I knew I wanted to become an author. Guess you’d say I was hooked.
Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
All it cracks up to be? Sounds like you’re a romantic. Living the life of a writer is hard work. Great hard work, but that, surely.
Perks? Quells your creative demon. Meet lots of cool people at launch parties and readings, conferences, etc. Get to work from home.
Demands? Must be disciplined and persistent. Have to work while others are out having fun.
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
I have published individual poetry and short fiction for years in literary journals. With the help of two separate agents I tried to land a traditional publisher. No go. When I met the founder of Savvy Press, an independent publisher, she read my work and invited me into their corral.
Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?
My life partner is the one who encouraged me to go this route. He said it was ridiculous to spend that much time creating something and not have it read. He is very supportive. If he thinks I’m too long at the computer (I’m obsessive by nature) he figures out a way to make me leave it.
My kids live miles away from me. They love it that I’m living my dream. It’s doubtful they know how much time I spend getting a book into production.
This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?
Gave up having pets when I decided travel had to be part of my writer’s life.
This is for plant lovers. If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?
Had to give my houseplants away, not because I couldn’t care for them because of writing, but because I travel a lot. Outside, I only plant things that can live without care—like hosta.
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
When I’m in my writing zone, I ignore the phone. That’s why we have voicemail, right? I’m a lucky critter, my life partner does most of the cooking. Since I teach writing exclusively online now, I have no boss saying I am late. It’s great that Discipline is my middle name. This helps me not ignore my online students when I’d rather be doing my own writing. Probably also helps that I need the income to pay my bills and online classes are sought after at my institution.
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
The craziest thing happened with my last agent. He was behind the book 100%. So much so, that it made me nervous. In the midst of the revision process his editor asked for, he dropped me. No explanation. I never heard from him again. I still think that’s pretty weird. Weirder yet, he’s still a Facebook friend. I never “like” any of his posts and he never “likes” any of mine. But neither of us have pushed the defriend button. Interesting, huh?
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
I use Facebook and Twitter mostly—Linkedin less. I use them to announce book related events and to keep my name out there. I really haven’t had any time I thought I should avoid one and I’m not sure how much they help. I do like it when my family and friends acknowledge my efforts. I have a sneaking feeling that I don’t use them to full advantage, but I haven’t spent time researching the possibilities. There is always something new to learn.
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
Most of my sales come from the effort of the owner of a candy store in the setting of the book, Matlacha. The guy is a super salesman and he loves promoting them. My online sales and sales at readings and fest aren’t much—10 to 30 copies at each one. I recently hired a publicist with the hopes that she would help me reach a wider audience and increase my sales. Time will tell.
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
That I am living my dream—living the writer’s life. I thank the Universe every day for that. I am truly a lucky woman.
Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
What I love about being a published author is the knowledge that I have strangers actually reading my words, holding my books in their hands, or gazing at them on a reading device. Heck, thanks to Audible Books, now they can just listen to them. I remember the first time I heard my words spoken on tape by a professional producer. It brought tears to my eyes to hear Jessie talking to Zen and Gator.
Being published is an exhilarating, amazing high. One never knows what will happen. Occasionally, at the grocery counter a reader will up to me and ask: “Aren’t you jd daniels?” I mean, I’m sorry, but—that’s sooo cool!
One time while teaching a college class under the shade of a tree I had an epiphany when I realized I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Teaching writing and literature and living the life of a writer.
So I’d say that everything about the writing life matters. Everything. If I ever land a traditional publisher (and who says I won’t?), it will merely mean that I have more time to write. Merely? Did I write “merely”? Really? You can bet, I could live with having more time to devote to my passion.
I think it was George Orwell who called writing a horrible, exhausting struggle. It’s hard work, no doubt about it. It takes a long time to complete a book—absolutely. We all have an inner demon demanding we write—sure. But I love a challenge, it’s giving my demon free reign and creating something original that feeds my soul and makes my reality have sense.