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Author Q+A's > L.J. Shen Q&A

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message 1: by Nicola (last edited Sep 06, 2020 05:49AM) (new)

Nicola (nikki-lou) | 2115 comments

This week we are super excited to welcome back USA today bestselling author the awesome L.J. Shen. L.J. is the author of many NA favourites including Vicious, The Kiss Thief, Pretty Reckless and many more including her latest book The Hunter.

LJ is with us all week taking your questions so ask them here!!


message 2: by Gladys (new)

Gladys | 58 comments Who is your absolutely favorite author and which author do you think had the most influence over your own writing?


message 3: by Jayli (new)

Jayli Carmichael (jaylisdevilishreads) | 3 comments What book release had you the most nervous and why?


message 4: by Apple (new)

Apple (applebooks) | 13 comments I’m curious about your writing process: How long after writing a book do you wait to publish? How far in advance do you write your books?


message 5: by Shelby (new)

Shelby (shelby_) | 5 comments If you have to read your own books which one would be your fave as a reader?


message 6: by Apple (new)

Apple (applebooks) | 13 comments Regarding spin offs: Do you usually plan them, or do you find that ideas come once readers request them? How do you choose which characters get a spin off (like for Lev/Bailey and Pope)?


message 7: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Gladys wrote: "Who is your absolutely favorite author and which author do you think had the most influence over your own writing?"

Such a great question! I think there were a few of them. I LOVE the way Mia Sheridan can tug at my heartstrings. I really look up to her when it comes to angst. I'm also a huge fan of Jonathan Franzen's character building, and I love writing into an old-world vibe, so Lisa Kleypas and Julie Garwood are favorites of mine.

Really, there's a mish-mash of contemporary, historical, and fiction writers that have inspired me. I'd say growing up, the people who made me want to write were Beat Generation authors, but then I found romance, and now there are so many authors I enjoy and look up to!


message 8: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Jayli wrote: "What book release had you the most nervous and why?"

Every book makes me nervous, because with every book I try something different and something that throws me out of my comfort zone. I never want to feel like I am stuck in a formula or am giving my readers the same thing, so I always throw something interesting into the mix.

Broken Knight frightened me for obvious reasons, In the Unlikely Event was SO different, Angry God was effed-up to the max, The Hunter was a departure genre-wise from All Saints High, which served my career very well and I knew it was a risk.

At the end of the day, you spend half a year writing a book, obsessing over it, rewriting it, dissecting it, so of course, when it comes out, you want your readers to love it.


message 9: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Ali wrote: "I’m curious about your writing process: How long after writing a book do you wait to publish? How far in advance do you write your books?"

I write books way before I publish them. The editing process alone take about two months. Right now I'm writing a book that is due to publish at the end of 2021. There is a lot to be taken into consideration when writing a book. Research, rewrites, beta feedback, etc.

Typically I plot roughly, then start writing. While I'm writing, I have a paid alpha reader who reads through my chapters as I write them. When I'm done, I put the book aside and let it "sit" and simmer. While it's sitting, I read, I do admin work, and I absolutely refuse to write. This is the time where things that didn't click while I was writing need to come together. Then, I read over it a few times, "fix" it, and send it to my betas. After the betas, I let it sit again, then read over it again. After that, it goes to the editors. So, in some ways, writing is the "easy" part.


message 10: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Laura wrote: "If you have to read your own books which one would be your fave as a reader?"

Impossible to choose, unfortunately. I love them all for different reasons. It's like choosing between your kids. Even if you had a favorite, you'd be embarrassed to admit that, LOL.


message 11: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Leslie wrote: "Hi L.J, I am a big fan of yours and am currently on a marathon to read all your books! You have inspired me to become a writer and do what I love. How did you get started with becoming a writer and..."

I'm so glad you are enjoying my writing and taking steps to become a writer! That's so exciting (and a little frightening, right? That's okay!).

I just started writing. It sounds so weird and ridiculous, right? But I just sat down and began to write a book. There's very little faith in what we do when we just start out, because making it happen sounds so, unbelievably big, but at the end of the day, you can do it. YOU can because I could, and I know that I had absolutely zero idea what I was doing.

I think the biggest obstacle is self-doubt. It's a double-edged sword. On one hand, you need to doubt yourself in order to push yourself to become a better writer, and on the other, it could be really crippling. You just have to push through and remind yourself why you're doing it!

Good luck!


message 12: by Ann (new)

Ann | 74 comments Have you ever based any of your characters on someone you’ve met in real life?


message 13: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Ali wrote: "Regarding spin offs: Do you usually plan them, or do you find that ideas come once readers request them? How do you choose which characters get a spin-off (like for Lev/Bailey and Pope)?"

I planned the spin-offs very well before executing them, because I needed to make sure all the timelines aligned and that these books weren't going to be bad, pale versions of the OG sinners. I was very adamant that this series should be my "flagship" series just as much as the sinners were, so I'm glad that happened.

Lev, Bailey - I'm still thinking about writing their story. They were the only ones I did not plot, so unless I find a groundbreaking idea, I don't think I'll write their story.

Pope - when I first drafted the synopsis for Angry God, before I even wrote Pretty Reckless, I just knew there'd be a guy, a really cool guy, who was going to mess things up for Vaughn. But I didn't know anything about him. When I wrote Pope I realized he'd make a fantastic hero. But I still don't know what or if I would do with him.


message 14: by Apple (last edited Sep 07, 2020 01:18PM) (new)

Apple (applebooks) | 13 comments I'm sure you've got all kinds of unique, interesting stories in your mind- but what is one book idea that you're most excited to start (even if it won't come for awhile)?


message 15: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Hinson (jenniferpoolehinson) | 3 comments At what point did you know where Rosie’s story would “end”? Was it something that you knew you were going to do long before mapping out Knight & Luna’s story or something that happened as you were already in the BK planning/plotting process? And will we ever get to see Dean & Dixie again?


message 16: by Rena (last edited Sep 07, 2020 09:50AM) (new)

Rena My favorite book of yours is The Kiss Thief, the angst and their love is everything! Would write more stories like that in the future? Arranged marriage?


message 17: by Nicole (last edited Sep 06, 2020 05:40PM) (new)

Nicole Ortiz | 733 comments What's your favorite book that you've read?


message 18: by Nicole (new)

Nicole ReadingBetweenTheSheets (readingbetweenthesheets) Where do you get your inspiration for your male characters? Are they based on RL men?


message 19: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 49 comments When you come up with an idea for a story, what do you do next?

How do you try to make your stories/characters different from all of the other books out there?

Thank you!


message 20: by Apple (new)

Apple (applebooks) | 13 comments Do your readers ever influence your books? Do you ever feel pressured by readers’ wishes or expectations?


message 21: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Ali wrote: "Do your readers ever influence your books? Do you ever feel pressured by readers’ wishes or expectations?"

A few years ago, my development editor told me something very true. It was actually a spin on something Steve Jobs had once said. "The customer doesn't know what they want. It's our job to give them what they want." And I wholly agree. And not in a patronizing way at all. I think my readers are ruthlessly intelligent, and they push me to do better in every single way, but I don't write what I think they expect me to write, because I think if I will, the magic will be gone.

Art is uncomfortable and surprising and thought-provoking, and if you know what to expect, half the fun is gone. So I try very hard to follow my heart and my heart only when it comes to my books.

As for expectations--the bar is high, and I like it that way, because it means that I keep pushing myself to do better and better. As long as you remind yourself fear is healthy and not crippling, you're in a good place!


message 22: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Sydney wrote: "When you come up with an idea for a story, what do you do next?

How do you try to make your stories/characters different from all of the other books out there?

Thank you!"


The first thing I do is jot down the idea and throw everything into a Word document, usually when I still work on other projects. I let the ideas simmer and form a shape. Then I decide whether I like this shape. Whether this idea is bite-sized good, meaning cute but not juicy enough, or if I can make a whole feast out of it.

There are always going to be regrets. I have at least two books I think I should've probably written but didn't. Maybe I will one day.

As for setting yourself apart and originality--I think the rule of thumb is, when you see something explodes, stay the hell away from it. This applies to a genre, a trope, a characteristic. If you see something is gaining huge popularity, don't touch it.

That's what I try to do, anyway.


message 23: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Nicole wrote: "Where do you get your inspiration for your male characters? Are they based on RL men?"

It's a mix bag of a lot of things. I usually take inspiration from real people, movie and TV characters, and fictional characters forming in my head.


message 24: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Nicole wrote: "What's your favorite book that you've read?"

There are SO many, but I think my favorite is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah!


message 25: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Rena wrote: "My favorite book of yours is The Kiss Thief, the angst and their love is everything! Would write more stories like that in the future? Arranged marriage?"

I love the arranged marriage trope. I'm an avid historical fiction reader. So I will probably write more of them if I can find different spins TO them. I think I have an idea I haven't seen in our pool of books before. But I won't be able to work on it before 2021.

And THANK YOU!


message 26: by L.J. (new)

L.J. Shen (ljshen) | 12 comments Ali wrote: "I'm sure you've got all kinds of unique, interesting stories in your mind- but what is one book idea that you're most excited to start (even if it won't come for awhile)?"

There is something I have set aside seven months to write starting December 2020. I am very excited to write it. It is risky, but I believe in this book.


message 27: by farwa⋆ (new)

farwa⋆ | 5 comments What are the books that you love a lot that—
1)Completely slayed you emotionally and brought your soul out because of the sheer beauty of the souls of the characters?
2)Entertained you the most?


message 28: by farwa⋆ (new)

farwa⋆ | 5 comments What are the books that you love a lot that—
1)Completely slayed you emotionally and brought your soul out because of the sheer beauty of the souls of the characters?
2)Entertained you the most?


message 29: by farwa⋆ (new)

farwa⋆ | 5 comments what are the books that you love a lot that--
1)completely slayed you emotionally and brought your soul out because of the sheer beauty of the souls of the characters?
2)entertained you the most?


message 30: by farwa⋆ (new)

farwa⋆ | 5 comments which one of your book was the most fun/meaningful to write so far?


message 31: by Gisele (last edited Sep 09, 2020 12:08PM) (new)

Gisele (giselev) Hi Leigh! I have two questions for you,

how do you handle criticism of your work (both good and bad)?

is there a genre, trope, idea or something that you really want to write? and in case the answer is yes, do you have any ideas or are you waiting for them to appear?

Also, thank you for being awesome with all your fans!! Love you!


Aakanksha(call me asha) (aakanksha99) | 106 comments do you plan on writing more about the characters of Sinner of Saints or All Saint High ?


message 33: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Iskey (kitcat98) | 10 comments Hello Miss LJ Shen!
Thank you so very much for the awesome giveaway!! ❤ What's a question you'd wish someone would ask you?
Take care, be well & stay safe! ❤


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