Thursday, August 2, 2012

Justin Ordoñez: Guest Post & $50 Amazon GC

Today I’m excited to host author Justin Ordoñez and his YA novel, Sykosa. It’s about a sixteen year old girl who’s trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence destroys her life and the lives of her friends.
I hope you enjoy his guest post. And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win the giveaway. Justin will be giving away a $50 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter on the tour. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.

Welcome to Novel Moments, Justin. We look forward to hearing what you have to say concerning the topic of music, and writing comfort. How does your writing space look like?

I have no “set” space for writing.

There’s no special desk, no special lamp, I’m not surrounded by my favorite books, by some of my meager life accomplishments, pictures of loved ones, there isn’t inspiring art on the walls, nor is there a side table for empty glasses and bowls. I’ve never established such a place since, as a writer, I’m a nomad. Sometimes I write sitting up in my bed, on the couch, at the dinner table, I’ve written on a bus, in an airplane, at a red light in a car (though, I discourage you from doing so), at restaurants, during work telephone conferences, and just about any life situation where my immediate attention wasn’t an expectation. It doesn’t matter if I’m by myself, or surrounded by one thousand people, it doesn’t matter if the place is quiet, or if it is loud. And maybe the only thing that might slow me down is if a running television, but usually after a few minutes, even that doesn’t bother me.
Not to imply that this serene description describes the rest of my life.

None of these things are required for me to write because, for me, one thing turns every space into a writing space.


I write with ear buds in my ears. What type of music I listen to varies. Sometimes I can deal with people singing, they’re words don’t mess with my words and I don’t get confused. In those times, I like rock n’ roll, or soul, sometimes R&B, and strangely, very light-fluffy pop-music. When I’m in a place where I need my thoughts to be exclusive, I start pulling out classical music, or movie scores, instrumentals from some of my favorite bands, things of that nature. I’ve a habit of listening to the same things endlessly. I’ve written listening to one playing on loop five or six hundred times. There’re some songs I’ve listened to so frequently, I can mentally locate, then isolate, the tracks that were mixed together for the final product. It takes a long time for me to get restless with songs, then I put them away for a while, and after that while, they come back as strong as they ever were.

The key is that I don’t listen to the music. My writing is almost an out of body experience. You know, in the movies, when the character’s face looks fine but their eyes seem distant and empty? That’s what I look like when I’m writing. I listen to the same songs again and again because, somewhere in the third of fourth run through, I drop into a strange trance where I’m only half-conscious. It’s not that I don’t see the people around me, that they’re conversations cannot be heard faintly when the song hits a quieter phase, I’ve just dislocated myself from them. I’m in the space between that abstract world where my art lives, and the physical world where I share it with those around me, I become some type of bridge for the transference. This trance shuts down my brain, as well. I don’t think about what other things I have to do, trouble that needs to be resolved, it’s hard to keep track of time (though, I’ve learned it usually passes slower than I feel it is), and while English is what comes out of my fingers, I kind of stop thinking in it. I say “kind of” because it’s not 100% true, I do sometimes think in English, then type it exactly like I thought it. There’re other times, though, when it’s almost like being in a coma. Your heart beats so faintly you hovering on arrest, your breaths are shallow, you’re as relaxed as you’d be when you’re asleep, and you’re not thinking in English, you’re not thinking at all, the words are simply finding their way onto the page, and they’re doing so in spite of yourself, not because of it.
“I’m a good writer. I’m a good writer. I’m a good writer.”
(SPOILER: It never works, lol).

In my life thus far, I’ve been unable to duplicate this experience without music. It is the single biggest influencer in my writing life, and its absence in my creative process would be devastating.

Justin Ordoñez
Sykosa (that's "sy"-as-in-"my" ko-sa) is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the life of her friends. This process is complicated by her best friend, Niko, a hyper-ambitious, type-A personality who has started to war with other girls for social supremacy of their school, a prestigious preparatory academy in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. To compensate, Sykosa has decided to fall in love with her new boyfriend, Tom, who was involved in the act of violence. Propelled by survivor guilt, an anxiety disorder, and her hunger for Tom and his charms, Sykosa attends a weekend-long, unchaperoned party at Niko's posh vacation cottage, where she will finally confront Niko on their friendship, her indecision about her friends and their involvement in the act of violence, and she will make the biggest decision of her life—whether or not she wants to lose her virginity to Tom. YA fiction for the 18+ crowd.


Outside, the sun shines. Inside, there’s only darkness. The blackness is hard to describe, as it’s more than symptoms. It’s a nothing that becomes everything there is. And what one sees is only a fraction of the trauma inflicted. It can get so bad she literally goes black, and she wakes up seconds, minutes, hours—who knows—later, to the silence, and the shame, and the… The blackness is really a panic-attack. She thinks that’s its medical definition. She’s never consulted anyone about it, but she heard a daytime TV personality talking about it once and all the hairs stood on up on her neck and she thought, That’s me. The TV personality said trauma plays a significant role. That made her feel broken, so she decided not to listen anymore and to pretend like nothing was wrong. That’s why no one knows about the blackness—her pretending won’t let them.


"… gritty, intense and definitely not a book I'll forget anytime soon! It was so differently written. I wouldn't have expected to fall in love with the writing style but I did. It practically made me get under Sykosa's skin despite getting a dose of the perspectives of the other characters and there were parts that were so lyrical." ~ On Books

"Justin Ordonez’s debut novel, Sykosa Part 1: Junior Year, disproves the old saw that youth is wasted on the young. He adroitly delves into the minds and social lives of his titular sixteen-year-old protagonist and her peers, showing that young people wrestle with tough decisions just like adults do." ~Clarion ForeWord Reviews

"Sykosa makes for some compelling reading. Older teens and adults alike will enjoy Ordoñez's tale for its humor, realism and relatable protagonist."
~ Kirkus Indie Review

Justin Ordoñez was born in Spain, raised in the mid-west, and currently lives in Seattle. He's nearly thirty years old, almost graduated from the University of Washington, and prefers to wait until TV shows come out on DVD so he can watch them in one-shot while playing iPad games. For fifteen years, he has written as a freelance writer, occasionally doing pieces as interesting as an editorial, but frequently helping to craft professional documents or assisting in the writing of recommendation letters for people who have great praise for friends or colleagues and struggle to phrase it. Sykosa is his debut novel.
You can find out more about Justin at his blog, You can also find Sykosa, the novel on Amazon.

  *Please don't forget to follow the tour and comment for a chance to win the $50. The tour dates can be found here:


  1. An enjoyable excerpt. :)


    1. Hope you choose to give Sykosa a chance!!

  2. Abolustely! Thanks for hosting me! I loved writing about this topic!

  3. Writing at a red light?? Wow...That's amazing. Music doesn't have the same effect on me but it is my stress buster. I hate to drive but it's so much better now with Satellite radio. Classic Rock does wonders to bust the stress of my commute (which is a mere 7 miles one way, but gets frustrating during tourist season).
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  4. This sounds intense. I love a book where I get sucked into the character's world. I intend to read this soon.
    eswright18 at gmail dot com

  5. So interesting to read about your process...good luck with the book!


  6. Justin, I enjoyed reading what you wrote. You're very welcome.

    Thank you everyone for visiting Novel Moments.

  7. I CAN"T WRITE AND LISTEN TO MUSIc at the same time. Wish I could because I can see it would be good for blocking out other distractions.

  8. Oooh, can't seem to control the caps lock either ...

  9. Very nice post.


  10. Nice excerpt! I was surprised you can write with music! I coudn't do that for sure.
    verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com