This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter, speaker, and best-selling author, Jennifer Probst!
Jennifer will be giving a workshop at our conference in October, and is our Special Presentation Speaker! Sweet, Snarky, or Sexpot: What Makes A Good Heroine? and Trade Secrets of Bestselling Authors – What You Need to Know to Hit the Bestseller List! are just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.
For more information on our conference, how to register, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.
Please welcome Jennifer!
How did you come up with the idea for Searching for Perfect?
I’ve been wanting to write about a beta hero nerd with a makeover theme, so Searching for Perfect was my opportunity! Especially pairing him up with a polished heroine who is broken on the inside. I also wanted to incorporate a lot of humor in this book.
How long did it take you to write?
Searching for Perfect took me three months to write.
What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy it?
My editor and I work closely together with what we think will make each book special, and she loved my idea from the beginning.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing it?
The most difficult part of writing Searching for Perfect was straying from my usual alpha billionaire heroes I’m known for and love to write about. It was a challenge to write a more beta hero, and make him hot enough to want to be ranked as the number one book boyfriend of readers!
How much research did you conduct for your book and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?
I had to research golf and aerospace engineer dynamics which was difficult. Science isn’t my thing. I griped about this to my husband, who asked why I wrote him as a rocket scientist if I didn’t want to do the research, and I grumpily told him I had no choice! My hero sprang up and told me who he was–I had to write it. So I learned a lot about physics and the NASA program.
Why did you decide to write romance?
I’ve always loved writing sexy contemporary romance with some erotic themes and I will continue to do so for a long time – hopefully!
What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?
I am a complete pantser. I need to start from chapter one, page one and cannot skip out of sequence. I always start with characters – they are the backbone for my entire book.
Do you use any techniques, tools, or aids to help you write?
I use my street team to help me brainstorm for names, or plot twists when I’m stuck, but I hate colored post its and charts and anything that looks too scientific. My brain rebels! Many times it’s a simple drive, a walk, or a shower that helps if I’m blocked.
Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?
The first draft is the main guts of the story. The second is the main edits. The third is just copyedits.
How do you make time to write?
I’m lucky enough to write full time now, so I have no excuses. No waiting for inspiration to strike – I get my butt in the chair every day and write for as many hours as possible.
When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?
I’m in control of certain things and then my character takes over. Usually they tell me who they are and what they do, I write the first half, and they take over the second half.
Who has had the most influence on your writing?
Great contemporary romance authors such as Susan Elisabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Jayne Ann Krentz, Sandra Brown, etc.
Have you had any “ah ha” moments as a writer?
I am sure I have throughout every manuscript I write. One of my main aha moments was after an RWA conference when I realized I was treating my writing like a hobby and not a career. I changed my mental state and began selling regularly.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Write all the time. I held down a full time job, commuted 3 hours per day, and had two kids in diapers. I wrote on my lunch hour, plotted in my car, and wrote late at night. Also never give up. Ever.
Why did you decide to become an author?
I always knew I was golng to be a writer since I was very young– it was my true North.
Why did you decide to become a romance author?
I always knew i”d write romance because it was a genre that spoke to me, made me happy, and gave me hope.
Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”
I had submitted to a pub who finally called, said she loved the book, but wanted big changes like the addition of a villain. I did what she said, she called me back, and said she was going to publish it. When I told my family they didn’t believe me. They were awestruck I had actually done it because I’d been working for a long time.
What was the most exciting thing that happened to you after you signed your contract – besides receiving your first check as a published author?
Well, my first book really didn’t do much of anything but it was still a thrill to hold it in my hand, do a signing, and see my work validated. It helped foster more confidence to keep going and then I was able to break into another publisher and sell again.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
I have no idea. Not really living.
How does your family feel about your career as a romance writer?
My family is very supportive. My husband is incredible, he actually gives out my website to the people at his job and always tells everyone when I have a new book out. Everyone is proud of my achievements.
What books can we expect to see in the near future?
Searching for Beautiful and Searching for Heaven are the next two books in the Searching For series. You will also see The Last Seduction which is part of the Invitation to Eden series. And I”ll be working on the sequel to Beyond Me, my new adult romance.
What do you want your readers to take away with them after reading the story?
I want them to have laughed, and feel satisfied and happy at the end of the book. Then I’ve done my job. People need escape.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an author?
Never give up on your dream. No matter what it is, having a dream and working toward it every day is priceless. Writing has taught me key lessons in patience, perseverance, and joy.
What was the defining moment that you considered yourself an author?
I wrote my first young adult romance at twelve years old, bound it in a folder and read it to my junior high classmates/friends. Then I knew I was a writer because I shared my stories with readers.
With so many changes in publishing over the past year, where do you see the future of publishing going?
It’s an exciting time to be a writer. I think the digital market will keep increasing, especially overseas, and you’ll see authors love to be hybrid – traditional and self published together to complement each other.
What do you know now about writing that you wished you knew before The Call?
Don’t sign a bad contract. God, please everyone, I’ve done it TWICE and it’s horrible. Get someone to look it over for you if you don’t have an agent.
Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?
If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?
Talk to animals.
<laughs> What makes a man attractive to you?
Easy going personality and a wicked sense of humor
What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
Give birth to my children. That was pretty damn awesome.
Tell us a little about the state/country you live in.
Upstate New York in the Hudson Valley. I live by the mountains, near the water, and I have cows down the road from me, yet I can jump on the train and see a broadway play in over an hour.
What are you reading now?
The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins.
What is your favorite film? Music? Color? Food? Smell?
Can’t pick a fave movie I have too many! Music? Anything by Rob Thomas or Lifehouse. Food? lobster. Or chocolate if that’s a food group. Smell? Fresh cut grass, yum.
If you were a millionaire would you still write?
Cat or dog person?
Which actor and actress would you chose if one of your books were brought to film, and which book would that be?
The Marriage Bargain – Zooey Deschanel for Alexa and Chris Hemsworth for Nick
I think I just got lost in the fantasy of Chris….one sec. <winks> If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?
Best Day Of My Life by American Authors
Favorite reader-fan story?
A male fan emailed me he’d stolen his wife’s books and was now hooked on my stuff and was afraid to let anyone see his Kindle. He said I wrecked him and now he adored romance novels. That was awesome!
Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?
Favorite color: yellow
Favorite number: 22
Favorite Actor: Leonardo Dicaprio
Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep
Wine or liquor? wine
Tea or coffee? coffee
Decaf or caffeinated? caffeinated
Boxers or briefs? briefs
Chocolate or vanilla? chocolate
Donald Duck or Goofy? Donald Duck
Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Frozen
Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Depp
Want to meet or attend Jennifer’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register!