As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.
This week we hear from Jennifer Schmidt, who tell us about her love of books and her novel, Risking it All.
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live in a very small town in Manitoba, Canada. Growing up I couldn’t wait to escape to some place more exciting, which I did soon after I turned 19. But life and its unexpected twists landed me back home and now that I’m older (although not necessarily any wiser than I was nine years ago at 19) and have kids, I appreciate small town living a lot more. There’s not really one thing I love about the town specifically, but I do love living in the country. I love the space, I love how quiet it is compared to traffic jammed city streets, and I love that my kids can grow up around my family.
Author of: Risking it all
Tell us a bit about yourself: Ever since learning to read, I have always had a love for books. There has hardly been a time since second grade that I didn’t have a book in my hand or close by. Myr love for the written word soon inspired me to write my own stories. However, it wasn’t until I found an online writing community that I took the first step and, hiding behind a penname, posted my work. After some persuasion from family and friends, I shed the penname, entered the 2010 TWCS Original Fiction Contest, and won for best romance. In 2011, I published my first novel, Last Call. When I'm not glued to my laptop making my characters’ lives as chaotic as possible, I'm chasing after my two young sons, Hayden and Nicholas, and doing the “mom thing.”
Alone with Memphis in Alaska, Kennedy finds it increasingly harder to ignore temptation and wants nothing more than to give into her secret desires with the one man that has always been off limits. But is one night of passion worth the possible risk of losing their friendship over?
Feeling torn between doing the right thing and doing what she wants, Kennedy fears losing her best friend. She knows she needs to sort out her feelings for the two men in her life and deal with the consequences of her actions, but how can she when everything seems to be falling apart so fast? And how much can Memphis take before he’s pushed too far and can no longer take Kennedy’s inability to make a decision about what and who she wants?
Kennedy discovers the harsh reality of how one night can change everything and leave her risking it all.
What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? I’ll let you in on a little secret: I had difficulty learning to read when I was younger. Because of that struggle I had no interest in books and I remember being fairly stubborn when it came to learning. It was my second grade teacher who took the extra time to really sit down and help me, and once I started there was no stopping me and that created a monster *laughs*
Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? No. Not one that changed or affected my life. However, when I was 16 I read His Bright Light by Danielle Steel for the first time. It was the first non-fiction book I remember reading because I wanted to and not because I had to. Honestly, I only picked it up because I thought the picture of Nick Traina on the cover was hot. What I wasn’t expecting was how affected I would feel by the depth and emotion that Steel put into the book. It’s just such a touching story about her son and his struggles that my heart aches and I still cry every time I read it.
What was the seed of inspiration for risking it all? There’s always that one friend that most people have that they’ve always wondered “what if” about. What would it be like if they got together? Would it live up to the expectations they’ve built up in their imagination? Who better to fall in love with than your best friend? But if given the chance would you really go for it?
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? Not really. I guess you could take something away from Kennedy, and go after what you want and don’t be afraid to take that chance but I really didn’t put any thought into what message it might put out there.
What challenges have you faced in your writing career? I’ve been really lucky. I never went through the process most writers go through by submitting their work to publishers and waiting to hear what they have to say. I entered a contest for a publishing contract that TWCS Publishing House hosted and ended up winning for best romance. That’s how my debut novel, Last Call, was published. The only challenges I’ve really faced is not having the confidence in my writing. I still don’t think it’s all that great until my editors get a hold of it.
What has been your best moment as a writer? There are two that stand out. The night I found out I won the publishing contract, and the day I received Last Call in the mail. It’s still surreal to see my name amongst the books on my shelves.
Who is your author idol? I can’t pick just one that I adore out of all the amazing authors I read. They each bring something different to the table with their writing.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Sure, every once in a while something will sneak in there. Sometimes it takes someone else to say, “Hey, that’s totally you!” before I notice it. In those cases, I try to rewrite it. It’s not so bad if it’s subtle and no one picks up on it, but if someone I know can point it out, I don’t like that.
Do you prefer your book to be labelled erotica or adult romance? I know so many people when they hear erotica they immediately think whips, chains, threesomes etc. When I did the book blog tour with my first book it was labelled romance and there were a few bloggers who said they hadn’t expected the explicit love scenes and some of them were turned off because of that. This time around, Risking It All is labelled erotica. You won’t find whips and chains in it but you will definitely find explicit sex. Because of the content, and for those who aren’t into reading that type of romance, I prefer the label erotica.
Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? Both. I feel so lucky to be a published author at only 27, but I think I’ll always feel like there’s more that I can do.
What is your personal cure for procrastination? I’m still working on that one! I am the worst for putting things off until the last minute. I work better under pressure–or least that’s what I tell myself.
How do you work your writing around being a mother? Most of my writing is done late at night, but oddly enough I work better when I have the background noise of my kids. The quiet gets to me and distracts me more than the fighting between two boys over whose turn it is to be Spider-Man and who gets to be Batman.
What does your workspace look like? I don’t really have a work place. One day I would love an office where I can lock myself away and have everything I need at arm’s reach, but right now I work pretty much wherever I can find a place my kids or dogs haven’t taken over. If I’m working during the day I do a lot of writing at the kitchen table, or the corner of the couch if I can persuade my children to share their “super hero cave”. At night I work in my bedroom.
Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? Besides writer’s block driving you completely insane? None that I can think of.
Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? Yes! My first novel felt like it took forever to write and there were times when writer’s block was so bad that I couldn’t think of anything for weeks. This time around it wasn’t as bad, but there was still doubt on my part that I’d finish the manuscript in time for my deadline. But because of one bossy, demanding man who threatened to kick my butt if I did give up, I never did and I even finished before my deadline!
What do you do when you’re not writing? As a single parent any moment that I’m not working is spent with my kids. But when the manuscripts are finished and the kids aren’t demanding attention I love to curl up with one of the many TBR books on my dresser. I also really love to cook and bake, which many people find humorous considering I couldn’t boil water without burning it dry before I had kids.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? I can’t speak for every writer, but for me it is patience. Which is also pretty funny considering I am the least patient person on the planet. But when it comes to writer’s block I need to be patient, I can’t let it get to me. The harder I try to overcome it the worse it gets and then I could be blocked for months. When I find that I’m stuck I need to take a step back, whether it’s for an hour, a day or longer, and just forget about it. When I put it out of my mind and focus on something else, that usually does the trick and inspiration strikes.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school? That no matter how old you are playing hide-and-seek in the dark in the gym change rooms will always be fun.
Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? I don’t think it was a moment when I realized I was meant to do it, but when I finally got the courage to post my work for others to read and it received awesome feedback, there was a moment when I thought maybe I really could do this.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Don’t be afraid to try! And I’m speaking from experience because I was terrified! Create a blog, join a writing group on line, write under a penname if that makes you feel better (it did me) and just go for it. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t give yourself that chance.