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Article by Dawn Sooy:

Janeen Ippolito Headshot

Last month, Dawn Sooy introduced Janeen Ippolito on our Write Stuff Conference™ blog.  Janeen is an experienced teacher, editor, author coach, marketer, and Editor-in-Chief of Uncommon Universes Press, a small science fiction and fantasy publishing house. She’s also the cohost of the podcast Indie Book Magic. Whether brainstorming a plot twist, developing a course, or analyzing marketing angles, she’s happiest when creating solutions that get unique words written, polished, published, and noticed in the ever-changing publishing industry.

Dawn had the chance to interview Janeen before the GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™, where Janeen will give a half-day seminar March 22: Book to Market: Tips to Package, Promote, and Publish Your Book, followed by March 23 courses: Fundamentals of Fiction – Inside Out, and How to Write Romantic Subplots.


If I were to meet you at a conference, what is something you would tell me about yourself that would be intriguing. Please do not use anything from your bio.

 I’m synesthetic, which means I have cross-wired senses. I can see, taste, and feel sounds. I can also see scents and I have conceptual synesthesia, which deals with the perception of time within space. 

 Who is your favorite authors? Why were they favorites?

 Gail Carson Levine. She has such elegant, creative, precise middle grade fiction that is timeless and great for all ages. Malcolm Gladwell, Brene Brown, and Mark Kurlansky are favorite nonfiction authors for their unique voices, insight, and perceptions. P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie are favorites for their pitch-perfect humor and plotting, and are two inspirations for my own writing. 

 There are times when people relax at home, the read, crochet, and color in the Mandela pattern books. What is your favorite pastime when relaxing?

 Wood burning! I love sitting down and burning patterns and images into wood.

 What are common traps for aspiring writers?

1. Not taking time to understand your unique goals and reasons for writing. 

2. Giving up too soon. Writing is a learning process. The more you write, the better you’ll get. 

3. Writing in a genre you haven’t read at all. There are conventions, tropes, and word usages common to each genre. 

4. Comparing yourself, your process, or your journey to other writers. Every writer is unique. Focus on doing you and let others do them.

5. Publishing too soon. Invest in a good critique group. Invest in beta readers. Invest in craft improvement. Invest in an editor. Your work doesn’t have to be perfect (and it never will be), but make sure it meets a certain standard of quality. 

If you wrote a letter to your younger self, what would you say?

 You’re going to be okay. Relax and ease up on yourself. Follow your gut more and trust the journey. 

 How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Do you have any plans for them?

 About 10, I think. There will be more. Since trying out drafts and abandoning them is part of my process, so there are a lot of relics on the road to publication! I have no interest in publishing any of my unpublished works or half-finished books, because the parts I like have already been recycled into better works.

 Question – What age did you start writing? What was your favorite genre at that time, and why?

 I started writing at age thirteen. At that time, my favorite genres were science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. I was raised with science fiction and fantasy, and I love the puzzle aspect of mysteries. 

 What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

 For my fiction, I do quite a bit of world building research and characterization research. However, I start writing while doing research. I pause and dig up ideas along the way. The first draft is part of my research process. I learn through the story what I need to learn more about. It usually takes me several attempts to get a draft I’m confident with, but on the plus side, I don’t have the months of pre-draft prep!

 What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

 Pride. And I continually have to give it up to learn more! My writing process is nonlinear and always shifting, so I’m always learning new things, making new failures, and learning from those failures. Perseverance and humility are two essentials for writing success!

 You have two books published on World Building. What is the difference between these two books? Is one better than the other to use? 

World Building From the Inside Out – Textbook + Workbook is a quick-start reference guide and primer for world building with a strong cultural bent.

I wrote the textbook because I couldn’t find something out there that was quick, easy, and people-oriented (aka, how will your characters act within their culture) rather than place oriented (let’s make up names for the moon and stars and plants and etc).

I wrote the workbook because literally, a review said “can I get a workbook?” The workbook is separate so that you can flip through the textbook with one hand while writing down your answers in the workbook. 

 Irresistible World Building for Unforgettable Stories is a creative writing guide. It explains how to weave the world building you’ve created into your plot, characterization, and story themes. I wrote this book on client demand because I saw that authors would create these great fantasy worlds, but wouldn’t use those elements effectively within key story beats. So I created a resource to help!

Since they cover different aspects, writers will either buy one book (set of two) or the other, based on their need. But they often buy all three!

To read more on Janeen, visit:

·         Author Website: http://www.janeenippolito.com

·         Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/janeenippolitollc/

·         Twitter: https://twitter.com/JaneenIppolito

·         Instagram: @janeen_ippolito

·         InterviewWorld Building with Janeen Ippolito 


And don’t forget to check out her book series: The Ironfire Legacy




Article by Write Stuff Conference Chair – Dawn Sooy

Dawn Headshot Updated

Dawn is a native of Eastern Pennsylvania, with plenty of experience the four seasons have to offer. Armed with a Computer Science degree, she worked in the tech industry until 2012. As an animal lover, she volunteers at the local animal shelter, sneaking in treats for the four-legged residents.

As a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, Dawn fulfills the duties of Secretary, Conference Chair for the 2019 GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™, and is part of the 2019 Anthology team. She has published six short stories, the most recent, “Love Knows No Boundaries,” featured in the 2017 GLVWG anthology, “Write Here – Write Now.” She plans to contribute a story to the 2019 GLVWG anthology “Rewriting the Past.”

“From the Darkness” is her first novel, self-published in March 2018. This is based on a true story about a woman with bipolar depression.

Dawn and her husband Bob reside in Kempton, PA. Between them, they have four children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.