Sunday, 24 May 2015

38. Twenty Questions

I’m putting myself in a bad light again with my column but I suppose I have to take my turn too and give the rest of my family a break. ;)

Hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day and for those who find the day rough, I hope you had support too.

Becoming a parent certainly changes the dynamic of a relationship. Gone are the days of sleeping in, partying all night and that elusive alone time together. And don’t even think about going to the bathroom for a moment’s privacy. Then there’s Date Night – that time you spend with your significant other without interruption. We’re not the only ones who spend romantic dinners talking about our kids, are we?

My kids are school aged, so occasionally we manage to steal some time together during the week. We had it planned – lunch and a movie. Afterwards, we settled into our seats and like all considerate moviegoers, we switched off our mobile phones. Cue two hours later and we discover we had two missed calls apiece. Turns out that the child in question was fine, but once again, ‘Mother of the Year’ felt guilty for taking some time out from parental duties. Funny how they always seem to ‘know’ when Mum and Dad are doing something without them and find ways of telling us they don’t like being left out.

You may not be able to tell by my blogs, but I’m very much an introvert. Exchanging small talk is not one of my strengths. However, when I connect with someone and we’re discussing life, universe and everything (okay, so sometimes alcohol helps that along a little) I have a hard time being quiet. And if they happen to share my love of reading and writing, I can barely contain myself. I have met some amazing people through workshops, competitions and forcing myself to be brave enough to make contact with other writers. One lady in particular has been incredibly supportive of this fledgling writer and I’m sure you can tell by the amount of books I review that her stories are a firm favourite of mine. Not only is her writing amazing, so is her willingness to answer any questions I might have. Hopefully I never outstay my welcome where she’s concerned.

Part of being a writer is to learn about people, to observe them and to bring some of their characteristics to life in one’s stories. After all, if you can’t relate to someone’s characters, you’re not going to be fully invested in their stories. As always, I start to think about other writers. Do they think like me? Do they use the same processes? What makes them tick? What makes them stand out from other writers and how much do I have in common with them really? So, I summoned my courage once again and asked this very lovely lady, my unofficial mentor, if she was willing to share a little about herself with my readers and I.

Dare I admit I had a list of fifty questions? I thought I better play nice and limit those questions and managed to narrow it down to twenty. After all, she’s a very busy lady. Mind you, I cheated and combined a few. So now, I’m pleased to share a little insight into what makes Western Australian Author Ms Jenny Schwartz tick and I thank her profusely for sharing more of her precious time for me. J

DDL - When did you first consider yourself a writer?

JS - Since before I could write! And don’t think I’m kidding. My mum has this story of me sitting at my little kid’s table (it was blue plastic with two yellow chairs) and scribbling line after line of “writing”.

DDL - Do you have support from family and friends?

JS - Absolutely – and I’m grateful.   In fact – and I swear I’m not making up these stories – my high school yearbook predicts I’ll be a writer (actually, they predicted I’d be Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote).

DDL - Do you have a particular writing style?

JS - Clear and simple. I can remember someone commenting on one of my university essays years ago. He was a guy I worked with and I remember him struggling to be polite. He so obviously favoured convoluted sentences and looooooong words. I was a big disappointment. And with fiction I’m even more obsessed with not letting the words get in the way of the story.

DDL - What are your favourite story writing genres and authors and what draws you to them?

JS - I enjoy romance, mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I enjoy good writing, strong plots and a touch of social criticism. Terry Pratchett was my all-time favourite author for just those reasons. Plus, he was funny!

DDL - Where can we buy or see your works?

JS - Amazon. At the moment, all my self-published works are only available on Amazon since that’s Amazon’s condition for including them in its lending library, Kindle Unlimited. You can see my list of books on my Amazon Author Central page (it includes my traditionally published books, too).

DDL - Can you tell us what are you working on at the minute?

JS - Usually I would, but just now I’m attempting a complicated novel, and this huge stretch of my writing skills has me going “radio-silent” about the project for fear of jinxing it.
However, I can talk about my ongoing short stories in the Texas Kisses series. I’m having a great deal of fun refreshing my writing energy with short Texas-set sweet romances. I’ll be starting “Fall Into His Kiss” soon. There’s something irresistible about a cowboy hero.

DDL - How much research do you do?

JS - For the secret project? Loads! For other writing, I try to keep research to a minimum because otherwise I’d go down that rabbit-hole and never return. My undergraduate degree was in History and Sociology, and I LOVE research.

DDL - Why do you write?

JS - I can’t imagine not writing. Storytelling is an ancient and vital tradition. Stories tell us who we are and bind together communities. They give hope and meaning in dark times, and celebrate the good times.

DDL - Do you have a writing routine?

JS - I try, but mostly my routine suffers from my distractibility. Social media (including clearing emails and all that back-office stuff) first thing in the morning so that I can catch the evening crowd in America. Then write my fingers to the bone, stopping mid-afternoon so that my brain can calm down a bit and actually let me sleep at night.

DDL - Do you ever get writer’s block and if so, how do you get through it?

JS - No. But I do get tired and that means the words stop. Tired means it’s time to go out and do something different, clean house, garden or read a novel. Pushing through tiredness doesn’t defeat writer’s block; it just leads to the flu or something like it as your body makes you rest.

DDL - What book/s are you reading at present?

JS - I’m doing a lot of re-reading at the moment. Ilona Andrews’ paranormal romance and edgy urban fantasy, and almost anything by Jayne Ann Krentz.

DDL - What do you think of “trailers” for books?

JS - I’m not a big fan of videos, so … not much.

DDL - What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

JS - Don’t consider yourself “aspiring”. If you write, you’re a writer. Treat yourself and your work with the respect both deserve. Then get your butt in the chair and write more words! The other thing is, try to pay attention to what’s happening in the world of publishing. There are a lot of opportunities and you’ll save yourself heartache by doing your research and finding the best fit for you and your books. The writing community is a friendly and supportive one, so don’t be shy about joining in.

DDL - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

JS - Read. I could add a lot of other stuff, but reading is key.

DDL - What do you think makes a good story?

JS - In a good story the main characters go on a journey. Who they are in the beginning is different to who they are in the end (or else, in a particular style of book, the readers’ understanding of them has substantially changed by the end). I think all good stories are a quest. I write romance, so often the quest is for love (and other things, but emotional intimacy is central).

DDL - If you write more than one genre, how do you balance them?

JS - I don’t know if I do balance them. But I enjoy all of them – does that count?

DDL - Are you a plotter, panster or a combination of both?

JS - A combo. I started out by totally panstering, but that’s a huge risk. Now I have a very, very skeletal outline. At a minimum, I need to know the huge conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart, but also moving forward; and how it’ll be resolved.

DDL - What question do you wish someone would ask, but no one ever has?

JS - Ooh. Um. How are you going to spend that million-dollar advance on your latest book?

DDL - Any writing rituals / superstitions?

JS - Never start the day’s writing before the first cup of coffee!

DDL - How did you deal with rejection letters (if you had any?)

JS - I’ve had loads of rejection letters. I used to deal with them by throwing them away – deleting the ones that arrive by email. Except if an editor had been kind enough to add criticism to their rejection, in which case I would revise the story in light of those comments. Editors are amazing, and amazingly generous, people. Now, I don’t delete the rejection emails (they’re a record of who I’ve sent the story to), but I never look at them again. I believe in moving forward.

There’s so much more to learn about Ms Schwartz and her writing and you can find that here - http://authorjennyschwartz.com/




Jenny Schwartz is a hopeful romantic with a degree in Sociology and History — people watching and digging into the past. She lives in Western Australia and is working towards her dream of living by the sea.

I plan to bring you more interviews in the future so watch this space. :)

Reading wise, my oldest wants me to read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and I am reading a series of novelettes for review. This year’s In-house writing competition for my writing group earned my story second place – yay - and I’m still waiting to hear from another. There’s two short story competitions coming up in a few months’ time and I believe I have homework waiting for me. The fun never ends. Pity that means I’m procrastinating on finishing a novella idea I was working on and the dreaded housework.


Until next time, may all your words be golden. :)