I recently had a chance to meet aspiring author, Jennifer Starks. Not only does her book sound awesome but she was a real pleasure to work with. She is full of enthusiasm and dedication and her interview was the reason I started this feature: She INSPIRED me to be a better author.
Liz: Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Jennifer: I am a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend and college student. The only thing I love more than writing is reading. My husband may just have to move out of the house to make room for my books. I live in Michigan and despite the down turn in our economy I love this state. I use to say I loved it for the seasons, but anybody who lives in Michigan knows our seasons are fickle at best. When I’m not writing, I’m hanging out with family and friends. Cliché? Probably, but I love socializing and being around such awesome, real life, characters. My husband, a lifelong hunter, recently gifted me a cute, pink .22 handgun which I love shooting.
Liz: I am a Minnesota girl myself, so I understand you when you talk about fickle weather. So was writing something you were born to do?
Jennifer: I was born into a very creative family. My mother fostered my abilities and, to this day, is my biggest supporter. The first time I realized I was never going to give up on my dream of being a published author I was eight years old. From that moment on, I had the three D’s. Direction, drive and dream.
Liz: Where are you at with your writing?
Jennifer: I actually have seven novels started, but I’m only looking to finish one this summer. I took this semester off because I went to school all through my pregnancy and delivery. It was rough and I really needed a break! When I made the decision to go to college for my associates in arts with the major of creative writing, I gave up writing because, frankly, there are only so many hours in the day. Now, here I am two years later trying to get back into the groove and, honestly, it’s been a little tough. To date, I have yet to finish a novel. My ONLY goal during summer break is to finish ONE manuscript. Wish me luck!
Liz: So what is your current project??
Jennifer: Messy Death takes place three centuries into the future. Here, the paranormal are as normal as humans and people can’t remember a time when creepy crawlies lived in the closet instead of next door. Vira Silk is head of a crime scene clean-up crew. During a ‘sweep’ she comes across a perfume bottle that shouldn’t exist. Her wayward ex, Latimer Nator, gave her the identical fragrance months before claiming he’d had it made especially for her. When she sees it in the home of a wealthy murder victim, Vira realizes her ex was a big fat liar. That scent wasn’t “one of a kind,” and neither was she. To deal with the heartache of being made a fool, Vira throws herself into her work which isn’t hard since that’s been the sum total of her life since Latimer stopped coming around. When Vira finds another perfume bottle at yet another murder scene, she gets more than a little anxious. Pretty soon, Vira’s world is turned upside down. With the help of a Paranormal Police Detective and a Mist by the name of Rally, Vira will try to uncover the plot behind these messy deaths without becoming one of them.
Liz: That kind of thing sounds right up my alley. Now finish writing it so we can all read it! Do you consider yourself more of a pantser (write of the cuff) or a planner?
Jennifer: I consider myself both a pantser and a planner. I will plot certain scenes and have a set ending when I start a project, but there’s something to be said about leaving a good portion of a novel up to the characters. It’s amazing how they just take over and make it completely their own.
If I can contribute anything to other aspiring authors, it would be this: give yourself permission to fail, know when to put a story away and when to stick a story out, accept that a first draft will never, ever, ever be perfect, set goals and be accountable to somebody other than yourself.
Liz: Looming deadlines is one thing published authors have on us, so that is a great idea. So, do you write in tiny stretches throughout your day or do you set aside blocks of time?
Jennifer: Recently, I’ve taken to writing in two hour blocks then having myself a one hour break. This isn’t a set in stone policy, but it’s helped. A LOT. Because I’m trying to finish an entire manuscript in less than two months, I’m averaging about 5 plus hours of writing per day. I usually start mid morning and write till my daughter gets home from school. Really though, the most important thing is just to write every single day.
Liz: Where do you get your ideas? Do you dream about them and put them to paper? Are they your experiences told by characters? Do you get random ideas from out of nowhere?
Jennifer: Dreams are a big source of inspiration as well as personal experience, but I’ll never discount a random idea. It’s why I have weird sentences like “din/dragons lived same time protecting something bigger” written on a post-it. LOL.
Liz: Tell us a little bit about your writing process.
Jennifer: I start with the idea, than ruminate it for a while. Scenes eventually flood in and I make sure to get all of them, sometimes in their barest form, onto paper. Research usually gets done before the start of a book. When I have the direction, scenes and ending in mind, I start.
Liz: How do you deal with writers block?
Jennifer: Friends. Writing exercises. Mainly though, I just take a mini break. Writers block, for me, is usually a sign that my muse would like me to get out and participate in the world for a while.
Two writing group friends, Scott Gordon and Belinda Boring, helped me out of a funk with this simple phrase: one sentence at a time. 285 sentences later my block was no more.
Liz: Is writing a novel easier or more difficult than you thought?
I didn’t have any expectations when I started writing novels. I just knew that I wanted to write. I now know it’s hard as hell, but I wouldn’t stop for anybody.
Writing is hard. In some ways it’s like being an addict. Today you’re riding high; tomorrow you’re bottom barrel all the way. Trying to write a MS is every bit as hard as trying to get published. Faith in your ability will get you through, but it’s the doubt you have to watch out for. It’ll creep in whenever it sees an opening. I’d say don’t ever give it an opening, but that is unrealistic. Like that stubborn flower that grows threw a crack in the pavement, doubt will get in. My advice here is give yourself over to the doubt, but only for a little while. Let it have its wicked way with you for an hour or two. After that, kick to the curb. Doubt is an emotion and as such it’s not meant to be felt indefinitely.
Liz: Where do you see yourself in a year?
Jennifer: Hopefully, I’ll be one year close to my college degree and have a finished, knock on wood, manuscript.
Liz: How about 5?
Jennifer: Published. Happy. Driving a charger…?
Do you want to keep tabs on Jennifer Starks? Here is how!
Facebook: facebook.com/princessjen202000 and my
I want to thank Jennifer again for sharing her story. Now it is your turn! Show her some love and leave a comment.
If you are an aspiring author and you want to be featured on my website, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org