Inspiration Corner: How author Jennifer Anne Gordon got the idea for her latest novel

by Timothy Pike

Sometimes inspiration can strike in the most unexpected places, and in the most roundabout ways.

Jennifer Anne Gordon

Jennifer Anne Gordon

When I interview authors, I always like to find out where they get their ideas.

For Jennifer Anne Gordon, award-winning author of Pretty/Ugly, it happened at one of her local shops, where the woman working there was afflicted with a severe skin condition. “It caused a lot of swelling,” Jennifer says, “and it was obvious her skin was cracked open and it looked very painful.”

As a teen, Jennifer had dealt with this condition herself, and knew it wasn’t contagious. But that’s when her imagination kicked in. “I started wondering about what if something like that would be contagious,” she tells me. “How would that affect the world, our world where people rely so much on their outward appearances for everything?”

Cover for Pretty/Ugly by Jennifer Anne GordonInspiration had struck. “So that was when the original idea popped into my head,” she says. “My characters Omelia, the damaged and heartbroken Instagram influencer who spends her life hoping for clicks and likes. And Sam, my failed politician who may or may not be haunted by the ghost of his twin sister.”

And then—in a pre-pandemic world, mind you—she imagined a scenario that would have seemed far fetched at the time. “I wondered what would happen to people like that if the world was ending due to a ‘flesh eating’ type of virus,” she says. “A virus that even if you live, you are left physically scarred.”

This inspiration led to her latest novel, Pretty/Ugly—and it’s yours to discover!

Be sure to read the full article about my interview with Jennifer. You can also connect with Jennifer on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

This month’s cover: award-winning horror author Jennifer Anne Gordon

Books & Buzz Magazine, October 2021, Volume 4 Issue 1What would you like this month, Books & Buzz readers? Trick? Or treat?

Fortunately, you won’t have to choose, because we’ve got plenty of both in this issue!

It’s around this time of year that you might find yourself craving an exciting book to curl up with. Well, you’re in luck! Check out our Hot Off the Press section at ChapterBuzz, where you’ll find this month’s selection of published books that you can read in their entirety, including the award-winning Apparent Power by Dacia M Arnold.


This article is from the latest issue of Books & Buzz Magazine. Not a subscriber? Start getting all of our great articles by subscribing for free!


As for treats, we’ve got all sorts of goodies for you:

JP McLeanFirst, do you dream when you sleep? This is the question that award-winning author JP McLean, who is also a certified scuba diver and avid gardener, asks readers. Jo-Anne then explains how her dreams have inspired the stories she writes. “Some nights my dreams are jumbled nonsense,” she says, “an endless parade of oddball events that goes on for what feels like the entire night.” Yet those dreams have given rise to entire series of books, including Secret Sky, about a secret society of people who can fly.

Mark LeslieNext, author and professional speaker Mark Leslie treats us to a healthy dose of humor in his article about how the pandemic caused him to pivot from his usual horror genre to the humor space—creating a body of work that includes a suite of song parody videos to keep you laughing. So why, then, did this writer of all things macabre—including a post-apocalyptic–themed short story—suddenly find he couldn’t write a single word as a near-apocalyptic plague swept across the globe? When you hear the reason, you’ll understand. Come for the article, stay for the links to his hilarious videos.

Stephanie LaVigneFinally, can watching TV help you beat writer’s block? Bestselling mystery and romance author Stephanie LaVigne says yes, and explains exactly how as one of her five best tips on getting through a writing dry spell. She lays out the easy steps you can take to visualize your story, goes into detail about the best ways to dictate your chapters, and as a bonus, wraps up with a list of thought-provoking questions to ponder if you find yourself stuck and not sure how to move forward with your manuscript. Her advice is sure to get you out of a jam.

Whew! That’s a lot of treats. But what about the tricks?

Jennifer Anne GordonMaybe I’ll leave those to Jennifer Anne Gordon, this month’s award-winning cover author, who used to be a magician’s assistant. Don’t worry, she never had to deal with being sawed in half on stage—and you’ll read why in our wide-ranging interview with this accomplished writer. Jennifer, who also co-hosts the top-rated podcast Vox Vomitus, talks about one of her greatest creative losses in the pandemic era, reveals what kept her from writing her first novel, and explains how she overcame a bad case of writer’s block.

As the weather cools off—at least in this part of the world—and orange leaves flutter in the crisp air, get cozy in your go-to oversized hoodie, grab a mug of your favorite pumpkin-themed beverage, and enjoy this month’s issue of Books & Buzz Magazine.

Happy reading,

Timothy Pike
Editor-in-chief, Books & Buzz MagazineSubscribe now for free!

Last chance, writers! Write a novel in September & kick off your indie author career

Learn more about TimThe Great Big Indie Author Launchpad Challenge blasts off tomorrow, and we’re just waiting for you to join us!

Get to know your fellow writers as you crank out 1,000 words a day for 21 days, share feedback with each other, and start building your author platform.

We’ve got a very creative & imaginative group of writers who want to help you succeed, so take all of those ideas you have and start telling your story and sharing the chapters you write.

I want to put you on the road to becoming a published indie author within the year.

Join the Launchpad Challenge here!

Happy writing,
Tim | About me

Hurry, writers! This rocket blasts off soon … with or without you

Learn more about TimIf you’ve been thinking about writing a novel, now’s the time to do it.

Get a taste of what it’s like to be an independent (“indie”) author as you spend the first 21 days of September getting your novel off the ground!

Writing every day is just one of the habits you’ll develop during the Great Big Indie Author Launchpad Challenge, which blasts off this Wednesday.

Each morning, you’ll check in with the group, browse some of the new chapters others have shared, get some of your own ideas together, then write 1,000 words.

It’s a fun, productive way to spend September, so join us!

Starting this Wednesday, let’s get those chapters written, share some feedback with each other, and put you on the road to becoming a published indie author within the year.

See you there!

Happy writing,
Tim | About me

If you don’t write it, who will?

Learn more about TimHere’s a thought that should send shivers down your spine:

What if I never write my novel?

Many more stories have never seen the light of day than ones that have. This is because everyone (or so it seems) has an idea for a great novel, but very few follow through on it—or even get started.

If you don’t write it, then who will?

There’s no time like the present, as they say. Our writing challenge—the Great Big Indie Author Launchpad Challenge—is just around the corner, and all that’s missing is you!

This is your chance to write that novel, and make sure the world doesn’t miss out on it forever.

Writing a novel? Here’s how to make sure it happens (even with a busy life)

Learn more about TimYou know what the hardest part of writing a novel is? Actually sitting down to write.

It’s tough! Life gets in the way: You have a demanding job. A family to take care of. A social life that’s starting to blossom again.

Simply put, you’re getting pulled in every direction, and sitting down to write often takes a back seat.

But here’s a way to make sure it happens: the Great Big Indie Author Launchpad Challenge.

It’s 21 days of pure 1,000-words-a-day writing bliss, starting September 1st.

Best of all, it’s free.

Each day, you’ll check in (this proves you showed up, ready to get to work), then write 1,000 words.

Then, you can post your word count so we can all see the progress you’ve made.

What does this do? It holds you accountable for showing up, creates a habit of writing every day, and of course, helps you make steady progress on your novel.

All this in just 21 days.

Can you imagine how productive you’ll feel after writing at least 21,000 words?

Whether your novel is a blank page or halfway done, you are welcome to join us. We are welcoming writers of all skill levels, from total beginners to published authors.

As we all connect through daily discussions, some will do more learning, others more teaching … but the idea is that we all help each other write better novels.

All I ask for is an hour of your time each day.

You read that right: just one hour!

Whether it’s first thing in the morning, in the middle of the night, or over lunch (is there a better way to spend a lunch break than pursuing your dream? I say there’s not), you can actually write a novel without spending all of your valuable time on it.

Since a typical chapter is between 2–3,000 words, at the end of the Challenge you’ll be about 10 chapters into your novel. That’s one heck of a good start.

You’ll also be able to start building your Fan Club (your Fan Club helps you cover the costs of self-publishing), get feedback on your chapters (and give your own input and ideas to others), and meet other writers who share your lofty goals.

Don’t let your dream fall by the wayside!

We all want to see you succeed, so grab your spot in the Challenge before it starts!

See you there,
Tim | About me

Great big writing dreams deserve … great big opportunities!

Learn more about TimGreat big dreams deserve great big opportunities … and I’ve got just the opportunity to help you write your first novel.

But … time is running out, because on September 1st, the Great Big Indie Author Launchpad Challenge blasts off!

Come write your heart out for 21 exciting days, make some new writer friends, give each other feedback, and finish out with that top-of-the-world feeling that you’ve achieved something great.

(Because you will have!)

The Launchpad Challenge starts September 1st, and no matter your skill level or experience, you’ll be a valuable part of our group. Some will be doing more learning, others more teaching, but together we can help each other write excellent novels.

The day you publish your first novel is closer than you think!

Ready to do this? Join the Launchpad Challenge here

A NEW, fun & easy way to build your author platform (and write a superb novel)

Learn more about TimI’m guessing, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, that one of your strongest desires in life is to write a novel and become a published author … and have lots of people out there enjoying your work, while you get ready to write your next hit.

For some, this goal may seem out of reach. Maybe it does for you, too.

But have you ever tried? Like really tried?

As in, pulled out all the stops and declared, “I AM going to do this, no matter what!”

Maybe you have a good idea. Or you’ve already made an outline of your story. Or you’ve even written a chapter or two.

That’s great …

But now it’s time to bring it all together.

And most importantly, to get people reading!

To help with this, I’d like to introduce:

The Great Big Indie Author Launchpad Challenge!

This is a 21-day writing workshop …

Challenge…

Camp …

Think of it any way you want …

… where you’ll really start rockin’ & rollin’, finding your voice, finding your readers.

You might discover you have a knack—that you didn’t even know you had—for keeping people on the edge of their seats (or just plain entertained) with your words.

During this FREE 21-day experience, which starts September 1st, you’re going to get a taste of what being an independent author of novels is all about.

In our 21 days together, you’ll write a good chunk of your novel, polish it up to attract readers, AND we’re going to show you how to get 10 readers to follow you so you can start out with a solid author platform.

When readers follow you, it means they like what you’ve written and are excited to find out where the story is going!

This keeps you encouraged and gives you more motivation to write. After all, you gotta keep your readers happy, right?

What you’ll end up with is about 10 chapters of your novel—written and polished—10 readers, and a new confidence that you can do this. Sound good?

I call that one heck of a good start.

When you finish the Launchpad Challenge, you can stick with us and write the rest of your book.

Continue to build your author platform and attract readers and followers.

And then publish your novel, much to the delight of your eager readers.

Or …

You can do your own thing.

But either way, this is the jump start you need …

… to feel motivated …

… feel confident …

… and feel encouraged to keep going with it.

It’s all about getting started, then putting in the effort every day.

I want to see you succeed as an indie author, and here’s your chance to show the world you’re serious about it!

Sign up now and I’ll send you some warmup exercises to get you ready for September 1st!

See you there,
Tim | About me

It’s novel time! This September, your author career blasts off

People in a meeting. Photo credit: @fauxels

This September, join us in a virtual roundtable of ideas for your novel. (Photo credit: @fauxels)

Writers, it’s time.

Brew the coffee. Steep the tea.

Or pop the cork if you need something stronger!

And get ready to write a novel (in good company) when you join us in the Great Big Indie Author Launchpad Challenge.

Starting September 1st, you’ll write, write, write, and then write some more.

(… otherwise known as “days well spent” … am I right?)

But when you finish writing each day, you’ll be able to share your work with the rest of us, if you choose.

When we share our work, we all help each other come up with more ideas, polish our writing, and fine-tune our plots.

It’s like a virtual roundtable of ideas: when we put our heads together, we’re unstoppable.

All of this helps you write a much better novel!

What you’ll end up with is a novel that you know readers already enjoy, so unlike writers who prefer to go it alone, you won’t have to worry about what people will think—or if they’ll even like it—as you put in the work to finish up your first draft.

Learn more about TimRight now, we’re introducing ourselves in our discussion group and sharing writing prompts, so join us early and use the extra time to get your ideas together … and prepare to write 1,000 words a day starting September 1st!

See you there,
Tim | About me

A book signing by this time next year? Let’s make it happen!

Learn more about TimAugust 2022 will be a very special month.

Why?

Because that’s the month your friends and family will gather around for …

… your big book release party!

And it will be a huge celebration, because publishing a book is a milestone that so few ever reach.

Being the author of a book—a book that is published and out there for people to buy—is a huge leg up in life.

After all, why do you think people wait in line for an author to sign their book? It’s because it’s so rare they ever actually meet an author! And they want proof that it happened 🙂

The first step to the life you’ve imagined is to write and write and write, every single day.

You probably already knew that.

But I’ve got just the thing: the Great Big Indie Author Launchpad Challenge. It starts September 1st (hurry, get in now!), and runs for 21 days.

In that time, you’ll feel a shift within yourself.

At first you might wonder what it is.

But I’m here to tell you …

That’s what it feels like when a dream becomes reality.

The power to become a published author lies within you—and only you.

This is because …

Only you can decide that you’re perfectly capable of writing a novel, which you most certainly are.

Only you can take charge of your life and set out on the road to literary achievement.

Only you can jump on board, starting today, starting now, and become the prolific author you want to be.

You’ve dreamed about it, now do it. Take charge today by joining us in the Great Big Indie Author Launchpad Challenge.

Write your heart out. Change your life.