Sunday, March 13, 2022

ALL I'M ASKING, by author J. MARIE RUNDQUIST

Trade in your popcorn for pop rocks as you dive into Naomi’s chaos.

Don’t @ me. Teacher and single mom Naomi is always biting off more than she can chew. Naomi knows what it’s like to grow up in hard times and still manage a decent education, so when it comes to her online, at-promise (not “at-risk,” thank you very much) high school students, she goes the extra mile.

At the rate she’s going, though, she’ll need the mouth of a hippo to have a shot of chewing it all.

Except, her students aren’t the only ones who need her. Naomi’s best friend discovers her wife has a mysterious disease doctors can’t figure out how to diagnose, her daughter struggles with debilitating social anxiety, and her mother calls her repeatedly. From jail. When one of Naomi’s students shows up at her door, pregnant and homeless, Naomi can’t help but take her in. But Naomi’s hyper-involvement in her students’ lives results in her alienating the people she loves most.

Wondering how she’d gotten everything wrong, Naomi joins an online book club made up of sugar-addicted candy lovers. Her newfound friends help her to see her life through a different lens. With the members’ support, Naomi pieces her life back together, owns her mistakes, and discovers how true family wants everything you are instead of everything you’re not.

Narrated in a series of emails, texts, discussion forums, and other forms of communication, ALL I'M ASKING delves into the bonds of friendship and family, what can test it, and how we find our way back to strengthen those ties.

Review ~

All I'm Asking explores complicated relationships, intersectionality, and the challenges of connection (and disconnection) in a digital world. With deft humor and a daring epistolary structure (executed with ease!), J. Marie Rundquist delivers a debut novel that will both entertain and spark thoughtful conversation. A true pleasure to read.
USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Klepper

Author interview with Janet ~ 

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

I’m one of those “I’ve been writing since I was a kid” people. And in high school and undergrad I imagined myself writing the clich├ęd, “Great American Novel.” Except, I ended up taking a long break when I started teaching and having kids of my own. Several years ago, when I was teaching for an online education vendor, I started up again. One of the things I loved about teaching in the classroom was lesson planning and writing new curriculum. In the online setting, the curriculum was set, and I needed a creative outlet. So I started writing again. And then I thought, “what if I wrote a book?” And then, “what if I decided to try to publish this book?”

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love reading far and away the best, but I also enjoy hiking, playing board and card games, going to movies at the movie theater, and having long lunches with friends.

How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?)

Recently I’ve been trying to slip in writing time in the morning, which is challenging because I already wake up early for my day job. But I’m discovering I really like starting my day with writing, even if it’s only a few words (I write pretty slowly). So, I wake up at 5:00am, make sure none of my browsers are open to distract me, set my phone alarm for 5:30 and write.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

…a song playlist. And I’m not saying I need to write with music; rather, I need a playlist that acts as inspiration for what I’m writing. Songs that either reflect where I am in my writing journey, or otherwise feel like my characters’ experiences. It helps my brain keep writing even when I’m not physically typing on a computer.

 

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?


I’ve worked in K-12 public education all my life in both teaching and other supporting roles.

 

What are you working on now?


A few things. Probably a few too many. I’m mulling over a short story (or novella?) that focuses on two of the secondary characters in ALL I’M ASKING, drafting a novel about a brother and sister, and dabbling with a rom-com.

 

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?


There’s always something of me in every book I write. It’s inevitable. In ALL I’M ASKING, one of the main characters, Naomi, is an online teacher, which is something I did for several years. Many of the interactions she has with students in the book, while not exactly the same, definitely mimic much of what I experienced with students. I know that we are in a time period where online learning sounds terrible, but when chosen deliberately, and designed deliberately, online learning is an amazing alternative for many students.


To connect with Janet ~ 

IG: @ProfeJMarie
Twitter: @ProfeJMarie
















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