When Gladys assigned me a date to post something for Indy Author Talk, I was thrilled and honored to be featured on NerdGirl. So I sat, (for some time) thinking about what to write; all the while my husband called continuously while running errands to Costco; my youngest scooted around the house on her hover board, singing at the top of her lungs, and denting up my furniture in the process; my teenager shouting from her bedroom looking for her tweezer, and my son…well doing what any typical eighteen year old does while off from college. Nothing much, except for checking his Instagram account, pestering his younger sister and taking up space on the couch. That’s when it dawned on me! A mother has to keep a balance of life’s stuff: I’m not much of a blogger, so I’ve decided to chat briefly about finding the balance to the many hats we wear as women. So here I go…during the three ring circus I call home, I thought about my mom and how she so graciously managed life with seven kids. Hi, I’m LJ Amodeo and I’d like to introduce myself. I’m a mother of three, a middle school Italian language teacher for 330 awesome kids, I create wedding montages for my nephew’s wedding band, and when given the chance, I write mostly in the wee hours of the night, when the household sleeps. I am the author of the Descendant Series, a YA dark, paranormal romance.
Since I was very young, I always remembered being extremely organized, neat and at times, obsessive with my room, clothing and toys. My mom was on us to keep a clean and orderly house, which we did as kids. I often think about how she did it all those years with five boys and two girl. She was superwoman to me. I never remember a day that she was either too sick or tired to cook or iron clothes for our large family. Never did we eat fast food or store prepared products. She hosted and cooked for every holiday, from Valentine’s Day through New Years. She was a work horse. Me? Hmm, not so much. With three kids and a full time job, I come home wiped out. I do cook often, but I also have those days where pizza or Chinese food are on speed dial. I get it, when I have this discussion over dinner with friends, that our mom’s didn’t have to work outside the home, and yes, she was a stay-at-home mom, but the amount of work she did daily, doesn’t compare to what I do today. Life today is rather convenient. I want to shop from home, I can. Groceries will be delivered right to my door. Don’t feel like standing in lines for holiday shopping? No problem! Use the internet. With the amount of toys, electronics and overpriced and poorly made products, it’s easy to keep kids distracted and busy. However, is it me, or do they always seem to be “bored”? It’s a rule in my home, that if the say the words “I’m bored” the mop, a broom and dishcloth come out. “You’re bored? Here, go mop the family room.” That shuts them up rather quickly. And what is it with all these play dates and SLEEPOVERS!!!!!! GAH! My eleven year old can spend an entire day with her friend or cousin, and YET, it’s not long enough. The evening must always end with “Can we have a sleepover?” My response: “Nope!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the Grinch of sleepover, or the play date killjoy, but come on!! When will these kids be happy with what they have or is it that they are overstimulated? Enough is enough. My husband and I can give our children a world of stuff, but when it comes to responsibilities, I often wonder, who raised them. Not me! As disciplined as I am in my home and with my work and chores, I nod my head in defeat simply by walking into their rooms.The only way I can describe the scene is like this…their closet threw up! So of course, like any woman, I blame the hubby (wink, wink). “They get this behavior from your side of the family!” I say with a smirk on my face. Living in the same household and instilling my deep rooted housekeeping rules on my own kids hasn’t proven to be very effective. It’s like Felix Unger meets Oscar Madison x three! So I say to all you moms who share my pain…close their doors and walk away!
Although we have many conveniences, balancing the everyday challenges of work, home and after school activities like marching band, Knit for Kids, play practice, vocal lessons, gymnastics and not to mention, college tuition, life can be one huge headache. It was much simpler when I was growing up. Actually, I feel bad for kids today. Seriously, I do! I see what my students (all 330 of them) endure each day at school, the pressure to be on top, takes a toll on them. It saddens me how much unnecessary testing is forced on them (and please don’t blame the teachers. We don’t like it either); Benchmarks, Baselines, Mosls, State Tests, Regent Exams, SHSAT’s, TACH’s, PSAT’s, SAT’s and the list to suck the life out of our youth goes on.
I was born to an Italian immigrant family, who traveled from Sicily in 1967 on the transatlantic ship called, The Raffaello. A year later I was born. My father was a mechanic and Longshoreman, while my mom stayed home to raise her seven children. Times were difficult for my family when they first arrived to New York. Like many immigrant families, we lived in a tenement house in Bushwick, Brooklyn. My five older brothers were bullied, threatened, and called all sorts of derogatory names because of their Italian heritage. By the time my older sister and I were of school age, we moved to a predominantly Irish, German and Italian neighborhood in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. A quiet part of Brooklyn, and where I remember my entire childhood growing up on good ole’ 84th Street. I attended New Utrecht High School, the school used in and for the opening credits in the TV series “Welcome Back Kotter” starring John Travolta. Speaking of John Travolta, during the filming of “Saturday Night Fever,” I remember spending many afternoons on 86th Street, hoping to get a glimpse of the star during his famous avenue strut to Lenny’s Pizza. It was quite exciting growing up in Brooklyn during the 70’s and 80’s. I may seem a bit bias, but I must say, there really wasn’t a place more eccentric or original than Bensonhurst back in the day.
In 1990, I graduated St. John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Education. Several years later I married my husband Damian and we now have three children and a pesky dog named Gigi. I first started my writing career on a whim of imagination, and subliminal messages during Christmas mass in 2009. In 2014, I joined Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. I am ecstatic about the release of my DESCENDANT Series. Long hours and many sleepless nights, have transcribed my thoughts into this high paced, dark, young paranormal romance. I am anticipating the release of book three, TRANSCENDENT SOUL in late spring/early summer of 2016. Descendant and The Conception are now available on Amazon
Q. Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Nine years ago, my husband and I decided to move our family out of Brooklyn, and to a more suburban area, but never leaving the New York boroughs. As for any influence on my writing, the neighborhood we now live in, although lovely, did not influence me to write my first novel. It was a vision that did.
Q. Tell us your latest news??
I am currently working on the third segment of my Descendant Series. My goal is to have book three done by spring or early summer!
Q. When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I never planned to write a book, let alone a series. Although I loved writing in middle school and high school, the thought of becoming a published writer never crossed my mind. It was during my childcare leave with my youngest daughter, that I had a vision during Christmas mass in 2009. I must admit, I was an emotional mess that year since my mom was dying of cancer.
As I sat in church praying for my dying mother, a vision, or what I like to call an epiphany, happened. I will never forget what that moment felt like…a harpist played the most beautiful rendition of “Come Tell It On the Mountain” when suddenly, I felt locked or frozen onto the pew. Visions and words flashed in my mind like a movie reel and the symbol of the trinity flashed in my head and before my eyes in the most unusual way. The name Elizabeth and Michael kept repeating again and again. During this time, parishioners were forming lines to receive the Host, yet I couldn’t find the strength to stand, so I sat and closed my eyes watching the story unfold in my thoughts. When mass ended, I drove home and immediately opened up my laptop. My husband watched me curiously and finally asked, “What are you doing? Don’t we need to start dinner preparations? We have family coming in a few hours.” I asked him to hold that thought and did a quick research concerning my recent visions. When I finally explained to my husband what occurred at mass, he smiled and said, “I knew one day your creativity would finally make an entrance!”
Q. What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
During middle school, I loved reading mysteries. My creative writing teacher had asked the class to write a mystery play. I was overjoyed to hear that and so I wrote a play called, “The Rope”. Mrs. Olivia Galli absolutely loved my play and shared it with all of her colleagues. I won an award that year in the eighth grade. It was then that I began reading books by Stephen King. My favorites being “Needful Things” and “Children of the Corn.” Mr. King’s writing is descriptive and it’s how I love to write. I enjoy reading a great deal, but I do admit, I am somewhat of a slow reader. I read slowly purposely. I’ve always been a visual learner, and so, I enjoy visualizing. Still today when I read, I pause, picture and process the entire scene. I want to be in the scene and experience what the characters are going through. So when I read, I truly savor the book.
Q. Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
Like previously mentioned, my characters, most of the main ones anyway, came about during Christmas mass. Elizabeth Anne Morgan is a seventeen year old outcast. Most of her life growing up in the small town of Caneadea, NY, she was considered a freak and weirdo by her schoolmates. In her senior year of high school, she meets two newcomers who befriend her…I won’t say more (evil laugh). My favorite character however, is Elizabeth’s best friend Freddie Albrizio. He’s adorable and quirky, sort of like Ducky in Pretty in Pink.
Fun fact about me: I am an 80‘s buff (minus the big hair) and so are my kids! We dance around the house listening to 80‘s music and once a month, we have an 80’s family movie night.
Q. What motivates you to write?
MUSIC! MUSIC! MUSIC! I was raised with five brothers who are all musicians and now so are our children. I am a lover of all music genres, (well not so much hard core heavy metal…makes my ears bleed-no offense). I do however, listen to classical music or dark, dramatic pieces that help set the character’s mood and scene. Some of my favorites include, Moonlight Sonata, Angel’s Serenade, Silence (Beethoven), And the Waltz Goes On (Sir Anthony Hopkins), Mary Catherine, Everytime (Britney Spears) and Uninvited (Alanis Morissette). My latest obsession is Eagle I, a new Indie Pop artist, who’s song “Strike Me Dead” has become Descendant’s theme song! You can have a listen if you’d like: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZFD_8VOrgpo9jL7qnjrjOA
Q. What is the hardest part of writing?
Hardest part is the book’s blurb or synopsis. It is torturous! How do I compile 30 plus chapters into four or five sentences?? Still trying to figure it out. HELP! (giggles)
Q. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’ve learned to appreciate all writers. This is one heck of a tough job and even tougher business! Those who feel that writers have it easy or do not take their writing career seriously, trust me when I tell you, it involves long, exhausting hours and plenty of frustrating tantrums.
Q. Where do you get your ideas?
No real specific place. It just comes to me (or not). I could be driving and listening to music when BAM! an idea or a vision of a scene or character hits me right between the eyes. Or, I could be reading, cooking, showering or dreaming when something skids across my mind as a possibility.
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
They think it’s cool. My husband and kids are huge supporters. When I’m writing, they know not to come within ten feet of me…my fangs come out, lol. In all seriousness, my family and friends have been my rock. There were times when I felt like giving up and if it weren’t for my awesome support system of my cousin Fran and dearest friends, Tee, Suzie Q and Ames, I probably would have thrown in the towel. You see, my zodiac sign is Virgo, and we tend to be perfectionist and somewhat obsessive, therefore, when things don’t go well in my scene or even one sentence, I tend to harp ALL night long. And I mean ALL night long.
Q. What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Don’t give up! If you have a vision, or a dream, jot it down…write everything, down to the character’s sneakers. Include music you hear in your mind that would fit the scene or character’s mood. Use your senses; Relax and breathe in what it smell like, sounds like, tastes like…Use it all––anything that inspires you! Later on, during edits, you can delete or add details. Also, write from your heart, especially what you feel. Write spontaneously, don’t be afraid to just write everything that is twirling around in your mind. No one is watching yet, except you!
My last suggestion is don’t get upset over bad reviews. Sometimes, it’s best not to read them unless you see the four/five stars ;)
Q. What book(s) are you reading now?
At the moment, I am reading “The Soldier’s Daughter” by Roby James. I’ve recently finished reading, “Mary Queen of Scots; Makers of History” by Jacob Abbott, “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” by Alison Weir, and “Kidnapping the Pope” written by my late college professor, Dr. Michael Capobianco and his co-writer Leonard Badia. As you can see, I’m a fan of anything royal and historical fiction.
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