Author Profile: 10 Questions With Jena C. Henry (Okay It’s 13 Questions)

 

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your humble host

From time to time we like to feature other authors here on the blog, to shed light on their author journey.

Today we have friend of the blog Jena C. Henry.

Pull up a chair.

DAN: What do you love most about the writing process?

JENA: I love the entire writing process: the dawning of a new idea, the days of listening to my characters, the editing and tidying, cover design, marketing, social media- I’m a kid again at a carnival with the all-day ride pass. But

what fascinates me the most are those moments when I am so engrossed in the story I no longer feel I am writing.

I feel like I am reading it.

– Jena C. Henry

The same sense of immersion, expectation, and delight that overcomes me when I am reading a book also washes over me as I am writing. Does this happen to you?

I’m all about immersion, and yeah, I definitely get lost in a story while writing it. Ask my editor. She’s like, what is this gibberish? Because I’ve sent her totally illegible stuff.

Do you remember the first story you read?

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author Jena C. Henry

I’m not sure of the exact first story I read. I’ve been reading since the days of hieroglyphics. But I do remember a life-changing moment at my local public library when I was in the first or second grade. Again, I’m not exactly sure how old I was, but old enough for my Mom would drop me off and leave me while she did her errands. One of the young library helpers noticed I was having trouble finding new books to read. So, she led me from the little kids’ bookshelf to another shelf in a new room.  She said these books had more chapters, which was good and intrigued me, but here come’s the life-changing part. She also told me many of the books were part of a series. I didn’t know what a series was, so she told me it was like Lassie on TV. I could read a new “show” about my favorite characters, one book after another. Life changing! Sue Barton, Student Nurse here I come! I’ve loved book series ever since.

 

Have you ever spent time with anyone famous? Was there any ransom involved?

In the course of my husband’s career, he introduced me to a few famous athletes, but I spend most of my time grocery shopping or cleaning out my closets, so I haven’t bumped into many luminaries, like Dan Alatorre, in either of those places. However, sometimes magic happens.

I shop, but I don’t wander into closets too often.

This past winter, we spent a month in Florida at a timeshare located by some snazzy hotels. At a happy hour by our favorite pool, the gang was all excited because they had spotted LeBron James and other Cleveland Cavaliers players. We are passionate Cav’s fans, so we were disappointed we had come so close to a sighting of The King. (“He’s so big!” they all exclaimed. Yep.) A few days later at happy hour (yes, again), the bartender tipped us off Marty Schottenheimer was staying at the timeshare.

jena c henry booksWho is Marty Schottenheimer? He’s a former head coach of the Cleveland Browns. So, we were heartened to hear this and we kept an eye out for him. The next morning we headed to our favorite hot tub, and eased ourselves in for a good soak and some chats. We visited with a friendly couple that missed their dog, and we laughed with some kids as they chased the little lizards on the patio. An older man sloshed down the steps and said hello as he sank onto a bench. He looked familiar. I could feel the magic!

Was it LeBron James? Of course not. Marty Schottenheimer? Nope. It was…Marty’s brother. He was a friendly guy and we reminisced about the Brown’s with him. It turned out he had lived near us when he was involved with the team. Hot tubs are great icebreakers. Who knows who I’ll meet next winter in Florida?

 

Who influenced you the most growing up?

I don’t mean to ignore or downplay the importance of my parents, or teachers, or church family with my answer, but in addition to their love and guidance, there was someone else who woke me I was 12 years old. Up until then, my life had been quiet and simple. I did my chores, practiced the piano, played outside, jacks and hopscotch, and babysat my sister until one afternoon, I was jumpstarted with Technicolor  passion and excitement. I met Scarlett O’Hara.

My Mom had taken me to the movie theater, one of the few times she ever did, to see a special showing of GWTW. Four hours of thrilling to the beautiful, passionate, spirited heroine as she took on her whole world showed me a completely different and more vibrant way to live.

I wanted to be beautiful, hold men in my thrall,

whatever that meant

be a successful business woman, and do whatever I wanted, including wearing a risqué red dress. I read Margaret Mitchell’s book, and I realized I could be more than Scarlett. I could be a famous author.

What was the last book you read?

I read and review piles of books. I finished JELL-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom. I received an ARC and I was eager to read it. I’m sure many of us have memories of making JELL-O concoctions with our moms or kids. The book detailed the 120-year history of the company and the impact it had on the wealthy heirs of the JELL-O fortune. I enjoyed reading about the history of JELL-O and the lives and times of the women members of the family, but the book also attempted to show JELL-O is a curse on women, which I didn’t get. Isn’t there always room for JELL-O?

 

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Jena’s not afraid to make a run for the border

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure in fast food or junk food?

For a short time, my guilty pleasure was Taco Bell’s nacho fries- crispy on the outside, a soft and flavorful inside, perked up with Mexican spices. All for $1. But, alas, they were a limited edition.

 

What’s a favorite quote of anyone besides you, and one from you?

I have two favorite quotes. First, from Calvin Coolidge, which begins, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence…”

I LOVE THAT QUOTE!!

I like that he talks about unrewarded genius is almost a cliche, and that really made me open my eyes. You have to work for success.

Any others?

Here’s a quote attributed to Wallis Simpson, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” (Both of which require persistence.)

Here’s a quote from my first book, The Golden Age of Charli-GPS:

“Wine saved my marriage.”

 

What’s the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over?

Lyrical prose, exciting plot, memorable characters, a fresh look at a topic, splendid! But for me, I want more. I want more details. I adore specific facts, pinpoint descriptions, learning new words and having history brought to life.

If your heroine is a baker and owns a cute cafe, I want to know all about her recipes and ingredients and tools.

Please don’t say Emma put her pink cupcakes on a tray and then move on to the meet-cute. If your thriller has a spy hidden on a cargo freighter, it’s not enough to tell me it’s big, with huge metal boxes. I want to know all the deets of how the crew lives, what the schedule is, how they organize it all.

Entertain and inspire me, but also teach me and open the door to the specifics of your book’s world so I can move right in and marvel at everything. So I can linger, and enjoy and never want to leave.

 

What’s a good writing secret or time management secret?

I always write in my pajamas. I have my first cup of coffee while I read the news and check all my social media.

Then, I march to my desk and do my writing tasks for the day.

I stay in my jammies until I’m done, by lunchtime or a bit after, because that way I’m not tempted to dash away and do something else.

No walking the dog, puttering in the yard, trolling Target, or meeting friends until I’m finished. My brain is now trained- morning and jammies means work!

 

What is the working title of your next book?

Charli and the Golden Age of Aquarius. I’m delighted with my WIP.

 

What is the more important of these two: write drunk, edit sober?

Drunk.

Just drunk?

Yes.

Ok, while I do admit to enjoying happy hour, I am not a drunk. But, yes, I encourage everyone to pour a glass of wine or two fingers of scotch, or eat a bag of M& M’s or Peeps and write with joie de vivre (joie de livre?), a full out, devil-may-care, first day of summer vacation, sky-diving, over the falls in a barrel, wildness.

Pay someone else to edit and tame your work.

I am in the throes of a kitchen remodel. And to me, a remodel is like the editing phase of a book. I came up with all the kitchen ideas and what I wanted and envisioned to make my dream place, and then a professional “edited” and ripped everything out and put new cabinets, floor, appliances in. (Not a perfect metaphor, but kinda?)

 

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I had wanted to write a book for forty years. Five years ago, my husband suggested I might want to get started at some point.

That is too funny.

No rush, or pressure, just a friendly suggestion. Ok, why not? I decided to write something humorous, entertaining, and encouraging. My books are women’s fiction, at the intersection of happy and positive.

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And how did your blog start?

After writing my first book in the series, I needed to build my author’s platform, right? So I started a blog and I adore writing it. I have blogged for almost three years now. At http://www.jenabooks.com I have a page for Jena’s Blog, which features a variety of posts: slice of life observations, book reviews, features about authors, and writing and social media tips. Another page is Jena’s Videos, where I show my video reviews, “Book…in a Minute!” And I have a Book Promotions page, where I accept blog tours and other book promotions. I’d love to connect with you at JenaBooks!

Jena, thanks so much for dropping by!

Gang, check out our friend Jena’s links below, and go say hello!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2u630zA

 

Tips for Better Fiction Writing: Write FAST

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your humble host

I’m writing a book series called Tips For Better Fiction Writing, in which I tackle all the rookie mistakes new writers make.

And hey, I made them, too.

Which is why I’m helping you not make them.

Until the next book in the series comes out, you’ll see these gems here on the blog.

Today, let’s talk about process. Try to stay awake.


People say I write fast.

That’s more true than they know.

They mean I seem to crank out books and chapters and blog posts, which I do. I wrote 5400 words in a few hours this morning.

But that’s not what I mean here.

When I have a scene, especially dialogue, I literally write it as fast as I can. Often the words are illegible and the scene is full of typos, and some parts of it make no sense.

It’s the cadence that I’m after.

I edit it the gibberish with real words (and hopefully fewer typos) so it becomes readable.

In that, we may be different. Many writers you analyze a lot and review, polishing and looking for the exact way to phrase every line. I like to bust out a scene, then force myself – and I mean force – to let it rest.

That is sooooo hard, not looking at it AT ALL for a period of time.

But it’s necessary.

For me, a chapter of 1000 – 3000 words needs at least overnight. Maybe longer. Then I try to give my stuff the same effort I do yours or someone else’s that I’m critiquing. I look f or every place that baby blanket in the woods snags in my head. I’m relentless, or try to be.

You’d think it’s better to go slow and be thorough up front.

I should try that sometime…

Seriously, my approach captures the dialogues very effectively. So does having a verbal discussion that I speak into my phone’s notebook using talk to text. We repeat a lot when we speak, so you have to trim that out, but I envision both personalities in the scene, talking and trading lines, all verbally, so the ums and ahs and errors and stuff get in there.

But so does the cadence.

And one of them always disagrees or interrupts or goes off on a tangent, like we do in real life.

That’s why people like my dialogues.

They’re real, smoothed by editing and punched up with rewrites, but they don’t look like it.


You can do this stuff.

A is for Action 12 FINALWanna get personalized tips like this for your story and take it to the next level? Check out my Private Critique Group.

What’s YOUR revision process like?

And the less your reader expects it, the more surprised they’ll be – and the more sudden your scene will read. So set it up that way. Let readers think one thing and do the other without warning. Don’t announce it with “suddenly.”

Get A Is For Action today for 99 cents, part of Dan Alatorre’s Tips For Better Fiction Writing series.

Tips for Better Fiction Writing: “Start”

Speaking of start, you’d better START your story – time is running out!

Word Weaver SPRINT 1

Don’t forget to enter our 1000 word writing contest!

$300 in prizes!

For more info and to sign up, click HERE


img_2351-12I’m writing a book series called Tips For Better Fiction Writing, in which I tackle all the rookie mistakes new writers make.

And hey, I made them, too.

Which is why I’m helping you not make them.

Until the next book in the series comes out, you’ll see these gems here on the blog.


“START”

What’s my beef with that word? It seems innocuous enough.

Okay, I’ll tell ya.

Don’t use it.

As in, don’t start. It’s more of the Show vs Tell thing.

We don’t start to do things, we do things.

As in:

We don’t start to do things,

we do the things

that are the beginning of a bigger task.

Whatever the steps are in the “start” phase, that’s the things your characters are doing. Say those things.

  • You don’t start to wash a car (telling) you gather a sponge and a bucket (showing).

  • You don’t start to run, you lace up your running shoes and eye the path with swelling excitement. Maybe stretch. Leap off the back porch, striding over the leaves covering the dirt path.

  • It doesn’t start to rain, the opening salvo of the storm announced itself with tiny, cool droplets.

Okay, that last one’s a little over the top, but you get the idea.

Think about the steps involved in what’s about to happen, or what actually is happening – and write that.

A is for Action 12 FINALYou can do this stuff.

Wanna get personalized tips like this for your story and take it to the next level? Check out my Private Critique Group.

What’s YOUR revision process like?

There are lots of helpful things I have picked up along the way, and I’m happy to share them with you here on the blog or occasionally picking a topic that requires a deeper dive. We aren’t born with a pen in our hand. We learn this stuff. And If I can do it, you can do it.

Get A Is For Action today for 99 cents, part of Dan Alatorre’s Tips For Better Fiction Writing series.

 

Tips For Better Fiction Writing: The Pause.

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your humble host

I’m writing a book series called Tips For Better Fiction Writing, in which I tackle all the rookie mistakes new writers make.

And hey, I made them, too.

Which is why I’m helping you not make them.

Until the next book in the series comes out, you’ll see these gems here on the blog.


Clarisse paused, leaning back in her chair. “Yes, I think you’re the right one for this job.”

Paused.

Hmm…

Try not to write that someone paused.

Instead, write briefly about what happens during the pause.

That will create the pause for the reader.

Clarisse leaned back, eyeing the massive painting on the wall. A barrage of green and blue oil colors filled an enormous frame, with random dots of yellow throughout. A kind of modern art masterpiece of some sort.

She turned to me, nodding and smiling. “Yes, I think you’re the right one for this job.”

Think about what you’d see if you were there – and write that.

A is for Action 12 FINALYou can do this stuff.

Wanna get personalized tips like this for your story and take it to the next level? Check out my Private Critique Group.

What’s YOUR revision process like?

There are lots of helpful things I have picked up along the way, and I’m happy to share them with you here on the blog or occasionally picking a topic that requires a deeper dive. We aren’t born with a pen in our hand. We learn this stuff. And If I can do it, you can do it.

Get A Is For Action today for 99 cents, part of Dan Alatorre’s Tips For Better Fiction Writing series.