S. E. Reed Author Spotlight

MY HEART IS HURTING, by S.E. Reed, chronicles Jinny Buffett, a white-trash teen with a Harvard-worthy IQ, who lives with her sex worker mostly absent mama. Thankfully, Jinny stumbles into a found family who push her to do the impossible, and rise up from the grip of her mama’s fake nails. (You’ll find the full book blurb at the end.)

S.E. has spent the last 20 years of her life moving around all five regions of the United States which gives her a unique American perspective. Many of her pieces have a strong Southern theme, but she also dabbles in the strange, bizarre and fantastical.  

Her work has been featured by Wild Ink Publishing, Parhelion Lit, The Writer’s Workout, Tempered Rune’s Press, The Writer’s Co-Op, and Survival Guide for the 21st Century. She has won an honorable mention twice in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers & Illustrators of the Future contest and actively participates as a delegate for YA Hub on Twitter. 

Welcome, S.E. What was the inspiration for MY HEART IS HURTING?

I was living in South Florida at the time I wrote the book and was inspired by the mix of cultures, the enormity of the ocean, and the richness of the Everglades, heck, even walking to the park in the swampy heat with my kids was inspiration!

Jinny’s character was created as a collective of many girls and young women I’ve known in my lifetime, including my daughters and myself. Girls who use books as a form of escapism. Girls who score high on tests, but still feel inadequate and scared. Girls with self-esteem/body issues. Girls with mommy issues.

My goal was to write a book that showed no matter what struggles you are facing, if you ask for help, I guarantee there is someone willing to give it. And that sometimes a found family is just as good, or better, than the one you are born into. 

Can you share your publication journey as well as any tips you have for querying authors?

I wrote MY HEART IS HURTING over a six-week period from August to September in 2020 while I was querying another project and waiting to hear back from agents. They always say, work on something else when you are in the query trenches, to keep your mind busy.

Anyway, I decided to send out a few query letters for this project and was surprised to hear back from an agency right away. After a year with the agency, I asked to leave—truthfully, I had a different vision for my body of work and felt it was best for my career.

Once I was back on my own, I performed a rewrite that I felt proud and confident to promote. During this time I was making some great relationships in the writing community and six of my short stories were selected for publication by various publishing outlets. It was through that relationship building I found Wild Ink Publishing. I sent them MY HEART IS HURTING and within a few weeks, we had a signed book deal in place. My gut had been right and by representing myself and staying true to my story, I found it a home. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser and what does that process look like for you?

I’m a pantser. Writing is an organic process for me. When I sit down to write, I don’t always know the who, what or where. That’s typically how my short stories begin, through a free writing session. My novels tend to start with a character I’ve been growing in my mind. I develop their personna, but not the story they want to tell.

Then, when I’m ready, I start writing about the main character and see where it takes me. I’ve got cut sheets I use to put scenes that don’t make sense in the final book and sometimes I go back to pull those scenes for short stories or other projects. I never delete anything! 

What is your favorite writing tool?

Is it bad that I don’t use any? Just me and Google Docs. Sometimes I even go old school and use pencil & paper when I’m at the park or sitting outside on the porch writing and sketching. 

What is your favorite writing resource?

The Writer’s Workout has been a huge help to me during my writing journey. They offer tools, blogs, groups, advice, editing, and events all designed to help improve your writing craft. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for the amazing team at The Writer’s Workout. 

What has surprised you the most about writing?

The number of friends I’ve made! Writing for the sake of writing is solitary. But writing to get published, that’s an entirely different story. You build friends in the industry with peers, you make friends with editors and critique partners, you make friends in writing groups and during contests. 

What’s next? Do you have another project you are working on?

I’m currently ironing out details on publication for my second novel (another YA contemporary) and I’m on submission with my third novel (a YA sci-fi fairytale retelling). In addition, I have multiple short stories that have been accepted for publication in 2023. So, you’ll see more of my work soon! 

What is your number one tip for writers?

Don’t remain in an unproductive author/agent or author/publisher relationship. It’s better to remain true to yourself and your project, because if you just keep looking, you will eventually meet a publisher who values your work as much as you do. Kind of like the message in MY HEART IS HURTING– don’t give up hope; you will find the people who love you and want to see you succeed. 

Where can people find you?

You can find all my social media, website, and more on my Linktree.

Thank you so much, S.E.

I echo what S.E. said about the people you meet along the way. I’m fortunate to be in a writing group with her where she shares her industry knowledge with charm, wit, and the perfect dash of sass!

MY HEART IS HURTING by S.E. Reed

Folks in Hollywood, Florida call Jinny Buffett white trash because her Mama is a local sex worker and her Daddy is a dead hillbilly from the swamps. No one seems to care that she aced the standardized tests and could get into Harvard.

When her English teacher challenges her to start a school book club, Jinny reluctantly accepts after the ghost of her Daddy encourages her to take a chance at something new. She becomes insta-friends with Thomas, a cute gay boy who just transferred from Seattle and together they gossip about books, boyfriends, dance class in Miami, and swamp spirits in the Everglades.

Just when Jinny’s life seems like it might finally be headed in the right direction, her Mama comes home strung out and ready to use Jinny as human collateral to cover up her own dark secrets. Will Jinny survive the trauma and abuse and rise up to the expectation of her test scores? Or will she fall prey to the lifestyle her Mama is so desperate to pull her into?

Find MY HEART IS HURTING a YA Contemporary being released by Wild Ink Publishing in July of 2023.

Published by Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.

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