Welcome to author Q&A number 2! This month’s author is Jennifer Rainey. I’ve known her for quite a while – well, “known” may be a little strong.
As musicians in different bands, we have crossed paths a number of times over the years (In fact, I remember when her first book was published). That said, we were both generally working when we saw each other, so we don’t know each other that well. I did, however, know that she’s been writing and publishing for quite a while, so she’s one of the first people I thought to invite to do an author Q&A.
Before we get to the author Q&A, let me say that reading her answers was a real treat – 1. because I learned more about someone I honestly should know better, and 2. because they’re interesting to read for any author!
IMHO, of course. But I think you’ll agree.
To start, they’re detailed and have a lot of valuable information for other writers , which is one of the main goals of the Q&A (so yay!). Even beyond that, though, they have a tone and style that pulls you in and makes you curious to read more.
Read for yourself and see what you think!
1. What was your first finished book?
These Hellish Happenings (though it’s out of print)–Thoroughly Modern Monsters is my earliest work in print.
2. How many books did you start or work on before finishing that book?
Only a handful! I started pretty young. I wrote the first draft of These Hellish Happenings at 18 and published it independently at 21.
3. If it wasn’t the first book you worked on, what made this book different? What made you finish this one?
I am all about characters. I love to see what makes them tick, and I was so very fond of the cast of characters in These Hellish Happenings. They are really what drove me to finish it.
4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered when finishing your first book?
Sticking to a writing schedule!! I didn’t have any discipline. That’s something that I’ve really had to develop over the years.
5. If you’ve written books since then, was writing them easier/harder? How was the experience different?
WAY easier! It gets easier every time. For example, where These Hellish Happenings took three years from start to finish, my latest book, The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, was 13 months from start to finish. Just like anything else, writing and publishing take practice, and you’ll see yourself improve with each book.
6. Have you published your book? If yes, what medium(s) did you publish it in and why?
I publish independently because I love having that control. Everything is in my control: cover, title, sales channels. Having that freedom is really valuable to me.
I publish exclusively through Amazon because I really value the promotional options you have with them. And I think both electronic and physical books have their merits AND their fans. Ebooks are great and convenient and you can take a ton of them with you, but there’s something really great about that physical book, too. I think it’s important to appeal to both audiences there.
7. Who did your cover art? What was that experience like?
Me! I have some background in graphic design–I’m a marketer in my day job–so that’s a place where I’ve always been able to save some money. Corel Paint Shop Pro is my go-to program. I can’t recommend it enough as an inexpensive alternative to Adobe Photoshop.
8. How are you marketing your book(s)?
Free and bargain book mailing lists, Twitter, Facebook, networking with other folks in the paranormal fantasy genres, talking to anyone who will listen–and writing more books! We’ve all heard it a thousand times, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
9. What is your next step?
I just published The Last Temptations of Iago Wick in February. That’s the first in The Lovelace & Wick Series, which is a paranormal/steampunk series based in 19th century Massachusetts. I’m working on a novella for publication this summer–Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen. Also, I’m hard at work on Binding Dante Lovelace, the second book in the series.
10. What is your favorite part of writing?
When it CLICKS. It’s worth it for when those characters really come to life and the story finally comes together. It’s worth it for that final product. You truly want to rip your hair out during the writing and editing process, but it’s so worth it in the end.
11. What is your biggest struggle with writing?
I STILL struggle with making time to write sometimes. After a long day at work, you don’t always want to edit or write, but you just have to make yourself do it.
12. What do you consider your weakest writing skill and what have you done to strengthen it or make up for it?
I like things like dialogue and allegories and pretty descriptions of setting more than plot sometimes. I’ve really had to step up my plot game! I’ve started asking myself in a scene, “This is a little flat–what would TOTALLY turn it on its ear?” Then, I do that and see how it goes. Definitely ramps up the action and keeps that plot interesting!
13. Do you now or have you ever done writing prompts? Did they help?
I don’t often. They just make me want to get back to my main WIP!
14. Have you take any writing classes? Which ones? What was your biggest take-away?
I haven’t. I took a lot of English lit in college (I majored in it), but no creative writing.
15. What is your writing background? (Do you have a degree in writing, worked in writing jobs, etc.)
I majored in English at Ohio State, but I’ve been writing and telling stories my whole life. I wrote in high school, in college, and I’ve always read A LOT. Now, I’m in bank marketing and that frequently involves writing (ad copy, newsletters, etc.). I am almost always writing in one way or another!
16. Have you ever written in a writing circle? What did you think? (Why do you or why don’t you?)
A few in college. They’re both great and dangerous. Don’t listen TOO much to the opinions of others. Take away what you will, but don’t let others shape the way you write more than is helpful–especially if they are not fans of your genre.
17. Who are your favorite authors?
Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Jonathan L. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Shakespeare… the list goes on.
18. What is the #1 advice you would give to people who want to be writers?
WRITE. If you want to write, do it. Don’t let anything get in the way. So many people WANT to write, but they don’t because they let other things get in the way. If you want to do it, do it. Make the time.
19. When and where do you write?
I mostly write in the morning. I get up at about 5:00 AM every day! Frequently, I’m either at my desk in my bedroom or sitting on the couch in my living room, but I also love visiting the library (support your public library!).
Now, that’s dedication! I used to manage 5 AM or earlier, but I’m afraid it is not in the cards for me at the moment. So props to Jennifer for doing it every day!
Come to mention it, let’s have a round of applause and a big thanks to Jennifer Rainey for filling out the author Q&A form! Weren’t her answers fun? I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.
If anyone has anything they’d like to add to her answers or any questions, comment away. I look forward to hearing from you!