Today I’m happy to welcome to the blog Australina Romance Writer Jennie Jones.
Jennie’s debut novel The House on Burra Burra Lane is due for release with Escape Publishing http://www.escapepublishing.com.au on 1st June 2013 and is now available on pre-order. See details below.
A dilapidated house, a city girl looking for a tree change, and a rugged vet with a past. Just another day in rural Australia…
Thanks for being my uest on Flying Pony Jennie and good luck with the book!
1. What activities (other than writing) get your creative juices flowing?
I’m a naturally instinctive person, so anything sensory makes my mind sing. A fresh, lemony smell in the house, a walk in the bush or just working out what pictures the clouds are making – an animal, a heart, a house? Colours are important too. A book cover will attract me before the title and I always categorise the various plot points of my work with different colours – I seem to read them better that way J Green: themes and plot. Blue: male POV points. Deep Red: female POV points. Orange: this needs work!
- What sort of writing routine do you have – disciplined or undisciplined, regular or erratic, focused or easily distracted?
Well, disciplined in that I can sit at the computer anytime or all day. Erratic or unfocussed in that sometimes my mind wanders and I don’t get anything written (but I can usually forgive myself…see my answer to the next question).
- Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so what do you do about it?
Oh yes, definitely. But I refuse to call it Writer’s Block. Instead, I’ll congratulate myself on doing that research I was meant to do yesterday, or I’ll hit the internet and see what the writing community is up to.
However! I’ve discovered that what usually causes my lackadaisical attitude to putting words on paper is fear that I’ve lost my ‘instinct’ or that I haven’t remembered all the lessons I so painstakingly learned.
The best piece of advice I found to counteract this ‘terror’ is to tell myself I am a writer. I even type it on the blank page: Behold: Jennie Jones, author – then I’m psychologically allowed to be a writer and am no longer a paranoid woman sitting at the computer staring at a blank word document. I’m back on track and encouraging the writer I want to be, with the story I want to tell and the voice I want to use to tell it. (That, by the way, is, in part, my account of how I “Write from the heart”.)
- Which aspects of the writing life do you most love?
Imagination: I’m the heroine, being tested to the limit and have to figure out how I’m going to get out of a situation, emotional or physical. But that’s the actor in me (I was a professional actor for many years before taking up writing). So if you’re a female aspiring writer reading this, let me tell you, you can just as easily imagine what it’s like to be a man as much as you can imagine what it’s like to a chef, or a dog trainer, or a gymnast. Think about the heroes in the best books you’ve read or the best movies you’ve watched. As you’re reading or watching, you are drawn into the character’s world and can feel for him just as much as you can empathise with the girls.
I love the imaginary world!
- Which aspects do least love (or detest!)?
The part where I have to remind myself that if I really think I’m that bad I’d better push myself through it. Behold: Jennie Jones, author. You do feel a fool typing it – but believe me, it works.
- What books and writers have most influenced your own writing?
I have to say Nora Roberts because her work kicked me into writing and the decision to write romance. I would also add Isabelle Allende, Sara Donati (more especially, her contemporary writing under the name of Rosina Lippi), and for faster paced, fun romance: Rachel Gibson and Janet Evanovich. I’m also an avid follower of many Australian and British romance writers (particularly contemporary or suspense). Too many to list, but each of their good books teaches me something about writing.
- Can you describe for us your writing process, from getting the original idea to completed manuscript?
Totally up to instinct to begin with so I learned the necessity of plotting the hard way. I would merrily write and write. I had no problem getting my characters and a setting and a general idea of what might happen, but not what would happen or how it would happen or why. I now understand the stages involved in writing a book, and that each stage requires a different approach or thought process. That’s not easy because I love to part-edit as I go, which can halt the instinctive flow of simply writing the story. But I now plot, then use instinct to write around those plot points. A happy medium and one that works for me!
- Please describe your path to publication.
Wow, this is the first time I’ve been asked! Six challenging, rewarding steps:
1. Three years ago I joined Romance Writers of Australia and found a local critique group. I realised I didn’t know what I was doing so started the process of learning the craft and was terrible at it! I made every beginner mistake possible and probably invented a few.
2. Two years later, in April 2012, I took a badly half-written manuscript off the USB drive and did a Savvy Authors bootcamp where you aim to write 50,000 words in a month. I did it – taking my manuscript to over 80,000 words. At the same time (I was mad!) I did four online crafting courses and used this now not-quite-so-badly written manuscript as my experiment. During this time, I was also working part-time in my day job (they probably wondered why I appeared occasionally mad – or very tired).
3. By June 2012 I felt I was getting somewhere and also that there was something in the wind; that I was on the path I was supposed to be on. I followed my instincts. I had to get this manuscript ready for three things: my newly found beta reader; make changes from her thoughts and send it to Romantic Novelists’ Association (UK) for a report in their New Writers Scheme; then make use of their suggested changes to get it ready for Romance Writers of Australia conference in August 2012 (to pitch my story to publishers).
4. RNA New Writers Scheme came back with my report super-quick (Was it luck? Or was it in the wind?) A professional author (they’re anonymous, like judges are in competitions) gave me my editorial report. My first, my very first ‘Edit’. Pages of it! Not daunted but enthused, I understood everything she told me. I saw where I’d gone wrong and where I’d got it right (it wasn’t all bad in the report – quite the opposite, it was wonderfully encouraging and showed me strengths I didn’t know I had). I knuckled down and worked very, very hard on my manuscript.
5. I began submitting to publishers in October 2012. My story also began to final in various competitions, including Choc Lit Publishing Search for an Australian Star competition.
6. Harlequin Australia Escape Publishing was the first to offer a publishing contract in February this year and I was delighted to accept. I then had to turn down two other ePublishers, who also wanted my story. My mind was spinning, my heart singing. The hard work had paid me back.
This particular (originally very poorly written) manuscript will forever remain slap-bang in the middle of my heart as the story that nearly killed me but got me where I wanted to be.
It’s title was, is, and will remain: The House on Burra Burra Lane.
- What advice would you give to writers who are working towards publication?
I’ve used the word ‘hard’ three times in this interview. Writing is not easy, but neither is it impossible. So: remind yourself how badly you want it and actively search for inspiration or learning curves, because fate doesn’t know what you’re looking for until you shout out to the universe.
You can pre-order The House on Burra Burra Lane here:
Connect with Jennie:
Blog – JJRomance Blog http://www.jenniejonesromance.com/jjromance-blog.html
Website Jennie Jones Romance http://www.jenniejonesromance.com/
Twitter – @JJRomance