Well I’ve got an interesting interview here today named Jessica Coulter Smith, who was a guest blogger this past Tuesday here on the blog. I met her on Facebook when she joined my group Romance Readers and Writers and started posting on one of the threads I had on there asking me about the books I’ve read and reviewed. Well I she posted a bit about her current release and I got interested about it so I went to her website and found out more about her werewolf series. I was really intrigued with the blurb on her website and left a comment about being interested in reviewing it on my blog in her guestbook.
So later she contacted me and asked me if I really was interesting in reading and reviewing her novel and I of course sent her message back that said yes. I also asked her if she would be interested in being a guest blogger here on the blog as well as having me interview her here on the blog as well. She was delighted about it and here she is answering my interview questions about her and her writing romance novels. I have finished reading and have reviewed her novel Moonlight Protector, the first novel in her Ashton Grove Werewolves series, so check it out. Now here is my inter view with Jessica:
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Phoebe Jordan: When did you know that writing romance was going to be the thing that you would do with your life? Which author inspired you to start writing romance?
Jessica Coulter Smith: I actually didn’t know. I love to read paranormal romance and picked up Katie MacAlister’s YA series one day. I noticed at the back of the book that Smooch YA was taking open submissions. I had been writing off and on since high school and thought “why not?” and decided to check it out. Turns out that writing a YA romance was really hard for me; I had problems leaving out the sex scenes. *grin* So what I had begun as a YA book, I turned into Whispering Lake.
Phoebe: Did you know what type of romance you wanted to write about or did you experiment with different genres before you chose the one that you felt was for you?
Jessica: I’ve always been into paranormal stuff—not just romance either! I love Stephen King movies and started reading Anne Rice in middle school. So I was pretty much set on writing paranormal romance from the beginning. Occasionally I’ll write a contemporary romance short story to give out for free, but those are actually harder for me to write.
Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote? And do you still have it with you?
Jessica: My first un-published fiction novel was never completed. I started it in about 8th or 9th grade and dabbled with it off and on into my early twenties. Honestly, I have no clue where the disk is (the fact that it’s on a disk dates me, lol). However, if I run across it in a box one day, I plan on pulling the file from it and seeing if I can finish the story—if not for publication, at least for myself. I hate leaving things half way done.
Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and does it take you a long time to gather that research?
Jessica: I tend to write about things I’m already familiar with so there isn’t much research involved. Now if I were to write a historical romance, I’d probably have to move in to the library for at least a year. While any author has my respect, those who write historical really have my respect. I don’t see how they do it!
Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your latest novel Moonlight Protector, which is part of your new Ashton Grove Werewolves series?
Jessica: Actually, Moonlight Protector is a spin-off from my first novel, Whispering Lake. Cole played a pretty major part in Whispering Lake, but he didn’t get his HEA. When I finished the book, I realized that I wasn’t done with Cole yet. I sat down and just started playing with some ideas and eventually Moonlight Protector was born.
Phoebe: How many more novels do you have planned to write for your new Ashton Grove Werewolves series?
Jessica: Good question. The series has a tendency to evolve a little more with each book. Originally, I had only planned on writing a trilogy to make sure my three scrumptious werewolves were taken care of. However, along the way I drug their cousins and some friends into the mix. At the moment, I’m looking at a 6 part series, but that could change as the last two books are still a little fuzzy at this point.
Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write your novels?
Jessica: While a lot of writers will type up an outline before starting, it just isn’t my style. I hated writing outlines in high school (sorry Mrs. Robinette and Mr. Pool!) so I prefer to not use them now either. I see my books in my head as if they were live action movies. When I’m starting a new story, the first chapter may be re-written a million times before I have the perfect start…but I pretty much just sit down and start writing. Even when I get stuck on how to get from point B to point C, I just start writing.
Phoebe: Which do you like best, writing a series or writing stand alone novels? How is writing each different for you?
Jessica: I personally prefer a series. Whispering Lake was originally a stand alone novel, and technically it still is. However, I tend to get attached to my characters and want to hang on to them for a while. I guess you could say I have a hard time saying good-bye. *grin* It’s possible that my next series may even use a few characters from the Ashton Grove Werewolves series. So for me, a stand alone would be a lot harder to write than a series.
Phoebe: What process did you have to go through to get your first book published and did it take you long?
Jessica: I went through quite a few rejections. Finally I decided that it was okay to go the e-publisher route. Hearts on Fire Books offered me a contract on Whispering Lake in August 2008. Now the book is not only offered as an e-book, but also as a trade paperback on Amazon and Target websites.
Phoebe: How did you feel when you finally saw your first published book came out and how do you feel about your other novels being published?
Jessica: Well, after doing the happy dance when I was offered a contract, I mellowed out a bit. Once the initial excitement was over, I was happy but not bouncing off the walls. When I first saw my book in paperback, I had more of the “Oh, that’s kinda cool” reaction. Now when I have a new book published, I’m excited but it isn’t the same as that very first acceptance.
Phoebe: Do you ever get writers block? What do you do to get rid of it so you can get back to writing your novels?
Jessica: I’ve heard there is no such thing as writer’s block. Obviously that person wasn’t a writer. *grin* I get it from time to time. The longest bout I had lasted for three weeks. I was starting to go crazy! Finally I sat down and forced myself to write, even if it was just nonsense. It helped me get through the block and that week I managed to write over 5,000 words on that particular work in progress.
Phoebe: Which aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and why? And what are your writing pet peeves, if you have any?
Jessica: I love the freedom of creating my own little world. It’s a nice escape from reality and is much more satisfying than reading a book. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to read! But creating your own story and then watching others enjoy it is an emotional experience I wouldn’t give up for anything. I don’t really have any pet peeves when it comes to writing (unless you count the whole refusal of using an outline).
Phoebe: How do you handle your writing schedule and your personal life without going insane?
Jessica: Wait…I was supposed to manage all of this without insanity??? Why didn’t someone tell me before?! *grin* Being a wife, mother, working a full-time job, and writing has definitely been interesting. My friends, family and co-workers have all learned that if inspiration strikes don’t stand between me and the keyboard or all bets are off. Everyone has been really supportive so it hasn’t been that much of a struggle. The downside is getting an idea in my head and writing until 3 o’clock in the morning and then getting up at 6 to get the kids ready. I’m definitely not a morning person!
Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing?
Jessica: Oddly enough, I read. Or watch TV…I love Bones, Ghost Whisperer, CSI and House. If it’s a pretty day outside, I’ll take the kids to the park or the zoo.
Phoebe: Do you have any hobbies?
Jessica: I don’t know that I would consider my horse a hobby, but I love to hang out in the barn or go riding. While I’m not the most artistic person on the planet, I can make a decent bas-relief (when there’s plaster on hand).
Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you?
Jessica: I think all of the advice anyone could ever give about writing has already been doled out by other people. *grin* But…the most important thing is 1) don’t give up! And 2) don’t take bad reviews to heart. After all, not everyone is going to love your book. I’ve had some pretty rotten reviews that made me want to give up writing, but then later that week I’d receive a glowing one from another reviewer. Just remember that reviews are a person’s opinion and not fact. It gets easier after a while…
Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you?
Jessica: I’m actually still figuring out the whole promotion thing. If there’s a site on the internet that talks about book/e-book promotion, I’ve been to it. I have found that sending bookmarks to libraries, used bookstores, and review sites has been helpful. I also have business cards that I give out if I run into an avid reader.
So far, I haven’t paid much for promoting my books. If it’s free, I figure it’s best to try those first. However, I’m thinking of trying a Facebook or MySpace ad in the near future just to see if it’s worth it.
Phoebe: Now for a question that I have been meaning to ask an author. Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)?
Jessica: Paranormal Romance is my all time favorite genre. I have a large number of authors that I love to read. Among them are: Katie MacAlister, Terri Garey, Annette Blair, PC Cast and many others. I also enjoy Charlaine Harris’s Sookie series and Harper Connelly series.
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Well that was one informative and fun interview with the lovely Jessica Coulter Smith. Now for an easy contest. If at least 10 different people comment on the interview blog post, Jessica will be happy to give out a free e-Book copy of Moonlight Protector. I will be drawing a name at random as soon as 10 different people leave a comment in this interview blog post. I will then ask that person to send me their e-mail address so I can give it to Jessica who will then send you the free e-Book copy of Moonlight Protector.