Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa, but moved to Madison, Wisconsin after college. Although I was a Literature and Creative Writing major in college, I ended up working in the insurance industry for over a decade. In 2009, I decided that insurance was not the career that I wanted for myself and I returned to writing. My husband has been incredibly supportive of me. I couldn’t have done it without him!
What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job as well?
I stopped working in 2009, so I could concentrate on writing, but recently, I started a really part-time insurance gig. Mostly so I can keep my skills up in case I have to fall back on it someday. I’m also in grad school working on my Masters of Business Administration, so that takes up a fair amount of my time. When not writing, working or doing homework, I can usually be found with my nose in a book.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
When I was eight years old, I published my first book. It was called Grump: The Skump Who Ate Liver. Yeah, it was quite the masterpiece! I don’t even think my own mother has a copy of it any more. Anyway, I guess you could point to that experience as being the start of my love of writing.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
Honestly, it chose me. I had no idea that my book was going to be a romance when I began writing it. I was inspired by this wonderful romantic setting and it just begged for a love story. I didn’t even read romance before I wrote one. How weird is that? The nice thing is that this experience has opened up a whole new genre of great books for me.
Where do you get your ideas? Do you ever experience writer’s block? Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I am very unorganized compared to most writers. I don’t follow a set writing schedule. I don’t outline. I don’t follow any ritual or method. I just follow my muse when it strikes me. Oh, I set small goals for myself, such as a word count goal that I want done by a certain date, but I’m pretty lenient on myself. I think this way of writing works for me, because I never torture myself with writers block. When I’m stuck, I just get up and go do something else. After awhile, the solution will come to me and I’ll start to write again.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I’ve always been a big reader, but probably the most influential book for me during my younger teen years was Gone With The Wind. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I read it close to twenty times before I turned sixteen. Okay, I guess that is sort of romancy, but I loved it for the history.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Marketing an e-book is tricky. There is really nothing to sign and no tangible books to sell to people. If someone wants to read it, you have to trust that they will take the initiative to go online and seek it out. Since e-books are so new, I think many writers are still learning how to market them. I would have to say that the single most important tool I use is Twitter. The support that I received from other writers, publishers and readers both during the writing process and later in the marketing process have been phenomenal! Aside from Twitter, I am active on several other social media sites, I maintain a blog, and I’ve been touring other people’s blogs.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No, although I have this short story that I really think is good, but it just isn’t marketable. It deals with a dark subject matter that just isn’t right for most magazines, so I’m not sure where to go with it. The feedback I’ve gotten from the places I’ve submitted to has been wonderful, but none of them feel it’s right for their publication. I’m thinking about self-publishing it and offering it for free.
Four Thousand Miles is about an American woman, Natalie, who loses both her career and her marriage in a single morning. In a state of emotional shock, all she can think about is running away from her problems. Twenty-four hours later, she finds herself all alone in London, England with nowhere to go and no one she can turn to. She is nearly mugged by a couple of teenagers in a Tube station, when they are scared off by a man passing by. When he sees what a mess Natalie is emotionally, he ends up feeling sorry for her and giving her a place to stay.
The man, Gavin Ashby, is a reclusive songwriter who lives on his family’s farm in rural Kent. He eventually invites Natalie to stay in Kent with him, his sister and his niece until she can figure out what she wants to do with her life.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
The story and characters were all imagination, but all of the places in the book are places that I’ve been too. Flenley Farm, Gavin’s family’s place in Kent, is based off of a place called Elvey Farm. Elvey is a 500 year old farm which has been converted into a wonderful bed & breakfast with an upscale restaurant. It was honestly the most romantic place I’ve even been, and it was what inspired me to write this story.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Yes! If you’d like to purchase Four Thousand Miles, it is available at http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b115105/?si=0 or http://www.thedarkcastlelords.com/4000_Miles.htm. I love to hear feedback, so feel free to contact me through my blog at http://diaryofabibliophile-jesilea.blogspot.com/ or on Twitter at @Jesilea.
Thanks, Jen, for having me!