Monday, October 12, 2015

FFBC Blog Tour, Interview, & Giveaway: It's A Wonderful Death (Sarah J. Schmitt)

It's a Wonderful Death
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Teen

Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?
But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.
RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.

 What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I’m one of those people who never forgets anything, especially if it’s something I regret doing. As I was beginning to brainstorm about the book that would eventually become It’s A Wonderful Death, I started thinking about what it would mean to repeat my worst moments. How would it change my life and would I be willing to do it knowing there could be risks. From there, the story started to form. I also knew that, after having written a couple “practice” books that were the beginning of epic “save the world” series, I wanted to focus on saving my main character who would have to be someone almost unredeemable. 

Who is your favorite character in the book?
 Aside from RJ, who I absolutely love, I would say Al. She’s the yang to St. Peter’s yin and I love how she says what she’s thinking. You don’t actually see her too much in the book but I think, when you do meet her, she steals the scene. My other favorite would be Daniel. He got such a raw deal in his life and yet he never gives up which is, in a way, a testament to the power of his relationship with RJ. 

 Which came first, the title or the novel? 
The novel, actually. I had a working title and when I signed with my first publisher, we went through a lot of titles. I mean A LOT. Finally, my editor at the time suggested It’s A Wonderful Death and we agreed on it, though I had a lot of hesitation at the time. I would say it took about three or four weeks for the title to grow on me and even longer before I stopped calling the book by its original title. But now, I can’t imagine RJ’s story being anything other than IAWD. 

 What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why? 
The scene at the end that I can’t tell you about because it will spoil everything. But when you get to that point, you’ll know it. 

 Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now? 
I had no idea how long it would take to get to this point. I can’t even count the number of rejections and disappointments I went through but I learned the core lesson that it doesn’t matter what one person or 100 people say, if you want to be published, especially if you want to go the traditional route, you have to keep writing even when you feel like it might be time to quit. I went back to work one month before I got an offer from an agent because I was so close to giving up. I decided that if I could write books, I could at least help students get excited about writing. (ie. Librarian) But I had one more book and I was going to give it one more try. Thank goodness I did or we wouldn’t be having this chat. LOL.

 What do you like most about the cover of the book?
 There is so much I like about my cover. But I think the thing I love the most is something you can’t see from the image. When they printed my cover, they printed it on this pearlized paper so when you hold it in the light, the clouds have this shimmer to them. When I saw it for the first time, I’m not going to lie. I cried a little. 

 What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015? 
There are so many! First there is the Illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I can’t wait to get my hands on that bad boy! But since that’s a “re-release” (sorta), I’m going to have to say it’s a tie between Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (I’m reading it right now) and The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (which comes out on the same day as IAWD and I will be buying while making a tour of Indianapolis bookstore to stalk my book.)

What was your favorite book in 2014? 
Again with the so many answers to your question. Okay, I loved Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert Martin, Survival Colony 9 by Joshua David Bellin and The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy.

 What’s up next for you?
 I’m doing a lot of traveling to promote It’s A Wonderful Death so I’m spending the next few months pre-writing so that I can (hopefully) binge write my next novel in January. Other than that, catching up on reading for fun and spending some much needed time with my family. 

 Is there anything that you would like to add?
 Just that, over the last few weeks, I have heard from readers who have been touched by RJ and her journey and I think one of the best compliments a reader can give an author is to thank them for writing a book. I have been so humbled by the way this story has had an impact and I’m grateful for this chance to say thank you to them!

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Follow the It's A Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Sarah J. Schmitt is a K-8 school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters and critique group style feedback.

Prior to immersing herself in the world of the written word, Sarah earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Indiana University where she worked with first year college students as they acclimated to college life. Sarah lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. She is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer's Workshop. Her debut novel, IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2015 from Sky Pony Press.

One winner will win (US ONLY):

A SIGNED copy of The Heir by Kiera Cass OR a SIGNED copy of HOOK'S REVENGE by Heidi Shultz
A Handmade bracelet in RJ's favorite color: purple
A Funko Pop! Pocket Keychain (Game of Thrones Daenerys Targaryen)

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