Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I think there’s a little bit of me in all my main characters. They are usually very independent, light-hearted, a tad bit snarky, and don’t believe in wallowing in pitiful moments. I think my goal right now is to write some characters who are definitely not like me.
That's what stretches us, putting ourselves into someone else's skin. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Become a teacher and show up to work every day.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I started writing in the first grade. Took it very seriously. I’m still trying to shop that manuscript if anyone is interested. I didn’t actually get proactive about publication though until 2005 when I learned about ACFW and went to my first writer’s conference. Changed my life. Six months later I had my first contract for my Katie Parker series, and it’s been nonstop ever since.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Great question. Honestly I don’t have a wide range. Due to time, I am limited on my reading, so I read a lot of YA, out of interest, out of a desire to stay connected to what my students are reading, and finally due to a need to stay up on the YA market. And I read lots of romance. I love chick lit. Anything light, fluffy, and funny. A few times a year I push myself and go beyond those two categories. This year I read The Help and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I can’t praise those two books enough. You have to read them. Amazing. I see a movie in the future for both novels. And I also always have a nonfiction book going—usually something of a spiritual nature. I bought myself a Mac for Dummies book to read a few months ago, but that computer lingo stressed me out and made forget everything I had learned in my spiritual books, so I had to put that one down. What about you?
I have eclectic tastes in reading. I like for most books I read to have a romantic element, too. I love historical and contemporary. Romance, suspense, even sci-fi and fantasy. I've read Christian vampire, too. However, I don't like horror. And for me to like a war story, it has to be about the characters, not as much about the fighting. I'm reading a book that will release in March by one of the people I mentored--Ronie Kendig. Dead Reckoning. I love it. I also sometimes read YA. And for nonfiction, I like the books by Sarah Young. I've used Jesus Calling this year. For 2010, I'm going to use Dear Jesus. What other books have you written, whether published or not?
When I was in the fourth grade I wrote the stunning mystery I’m Gonna Kill You Dead. My talent for titles came at such a young age.
I’ve written two YA series: A Katie Parker Production and A Charmed Life, my current series with Thomas Nelson, which includes the book I’m So Sure. My first romantic comedy for the big girls came out this past winter, Just Between You and Me.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Lots of sugar. Lots of tea. Lots of friends and family. And I’m learning the gift of just saying no.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Names are so important to me. I try to pick names that are current and match the character’s personality. Then I just live with the names a bit. I’ve gotten to the end of books and gone back and changed names of main characters. They have to be just right.
Some time ago my brother and I had the privilege of taking care of our ailing grandmother for a few years. I think it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done. Beyond that, it might be finally mastering the nose kazoo. (it’s harder than it looks…)
James and I took care of his father with senility near the end of his life. Nothing is more important than honoring your elders with care. I salute you. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Probably a dog of some sort. I go to a nearby running trail a few times a week, and next to it is a Bark Park. I could watch those dogs for hours. Is there any animal that is more in the moment? When they go chasing a ball they are all about that moment and activity. They love and play with everything they’ve got. I just love to see that.
What is your favorite food?
Probably anything Ben and Jerry’s makes. And cereal. Oh my gosh, do I love cereal. And Mexican food. I live for queso and fajitas.
You'd like the DFW Ready Writers local chapter of ACFW. We meet in a really good Mexican restaurant. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I really struggle with writer’s block for every single book. I think the best thing I can do is just step away from it and purposely not think about writing. The plot of Just Between You and Me FINALLY came to me as I was watching a movie. Some critical plot pieces for the book I’m working on right now came to me when I was in a dark theater watching the Michael Jackson documentary. It’s like we can try so hard our brains shut down. Sometimes the brain just needs a little rest to do what it needs to do.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Pray. A lot. And go to writer’s conferences. If you’re really interested in publication, you have to get proactive. Read the recommended books, find a critique group, and get your work out there (when it’s ready) via conferences. And write the book that’s on your heart and you feel led to write. Let God open those locked doors when the time is right.
Yes. That last bit is so important. God will know when it's the time He planned for you. Tell us about the featured book?
Things were going fine for Bella in Truman, Oklahoma. Sure, she misses Manhattan, designer clothing, and her dad. But she was finally making new friends at Truman High and getting some good stories on the school newspaper. Then her stepdad, a semi-pro wrestler, signs the entire family up for a reality TV show. And now Bella’s quiet life is splashed across weekly tabloids and entertainment TV.
As if having a camera crew following her around isn’t bad enough, Bella soon discovers a conspiracy against the Truman High prom queen candidates. And the closer she gets to the answer, the more danger she finds herself in.
As her relationship with cute and frustrating editor Luke teeters between friendship and something much more, Bella’s ex-boyfriend reappears and vies for Bella’s attention. Is he truly reformed? Suddenly nothing is quite what it seems. Could denying allegations of love triangle, working to solve the prom queen mystery, and trying to keep her cool while working a shift at the maxi-pad plant get our Bella Kirkwood down? I’m so sure!
Please give us the first page of the book.
Readers can read the first chapter HERE. http://www.jennybjones.com/books
How can readers find you on the Internet?
We have a lot of fun over at my blog at http://www.jennybjones.com/ . I’m also on Facebook and Twitter on a minute-by-minute basis.
Thanks for letting me stop by, Lena!
And I loved having you, Jenny. I'd love to feature you anytime.
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