Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Today, Today, It Could Happen Today! (By Guest Blogger Jenna Petersen - aka Jess Michaels)

Today we welcome special guest, Jenna Petersen. With multiple releases from Avon, including Lessons From a Courtesan, Scandalous, and the Lady Spies series, Jenna also writes for Avon Red as erotic romance author Jess Michaels. And, on top of all that writing, Jenna still manages to find the time to run The Passionate Pen...a valuable web resource dedicated to helping aspiring authors.

All that and she still finds time to blog with us. Thanks so much and welcome Jenna!
(And readers don't forget that Jenna is giving away a signed copy of A Red Hot Valentine's Day AND Lessons From a Courtesan right here at Inspiration, Ink! She'll be choosing at random from your comments, so don't be shy! Today's the day to say hello!!)

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be here at Inspiration Ink! I love that this blog really seems to be for new and aspiring authors in some ways (the blogs covering archetypes were great). I guess I know a little about that section of the writing population because of The Passionate Pen (http://www.passionatepen.com), which you guys so kindly gave a shout-out to a couple of weeks ago. But more than that, I know about being an aspiring author because I was one… actually for quite a long time.

So today I’d like to talk about the long and winding road that often takes us to publication. For me, it started in 1996 when I wrote my first romance novel. I was in college, I had never really read romance, I thought it would be “easy” and I wrote it single-spaced, on both sheets and handed it out page by page to the girls in my dorm. I fell back in love with writing (I say “back” because I’d always wanted to write) and also in love with the feeling that people loved reading my words. These girls would knock on my door at all hours asking for “one more page”.

But life intervened. I didn’t think I wanted to be a romance writer of all things! In 1998, I graduated with a degree in psychology, my husband got a great job at a major company and I took a year off to get field experience before returning to school for an MA in counseling. And then I started typing that story back into my computer, editing as I went. All the love came back to me, all the joy of writing and creating. We talked about it for a long time and ultimately my husband’s support convinced me to give up on my return to school and dedicate myself to writing romance full-time.

In my own backwards way, I decided hey… maybe I should read some! Instantly I started to question my decision to pursue my dream. I mean, these books were good. How had I missed that before? Anyway, I decided to keep on, and for years I slogged. I wrote books. I submitted books. I got rejected. I wrote more books. I cried. I got an agent. We parted ways. I cried. Lather, rinse repeat.

One day, four years plus into my journey and more than 12 books in… I gave up. I had parted ways with an agent a few months before. Since then, I had sold a couple of novellas to a small publisher and I was writing more erotic short novellas, but I had this thought that I would never sell a historical romance. Never. It was time to give up the ghost. But I had one little book in my collection that I had never sent out. I made a list of five agents I would love to have and sent queries and proposals out. I figured I’d try once more with an agent, when they all rejected me, I’d query it on my own. When THEY all rejected me, I’d stop.

To my surprise, one agent from one of my top picks called me. She wanted me. And she had faith in my writing as a historical romance novelist. Her enthusiasm picked me up, carried me back to my desk and had me writing books again. And believing, in some tiny part of me, that maybe she was right. She seemed smart enough, after all!

It turned out she was. Within six months of us deciding to work together, she sold two books to Avon, my dream publisher. And here we are, five years and 10 books+ later. There were so many stars that aligned for me to take me to where I am now. I decided to try for an agent just one more time. I reached for the stars when it came to agencies. I found an agent who loved me. She gave me back my faith and I gave her books. My editor was in the right mood and had a slot for me.

So I guess the moral of this winding story (sorry) is that it’s so easy to want to give up in this career. I certainly was on the cusp of doing just that. But it’s at those very moments of darkest despair and fear that sometimes we see a light.

Before I published, I used to wake up and say to my husband, “Today, today, it could happen today.” One day, it did. So even when you’re feeling down and like that magical call will never come, look yourself in the mirror and say, “Today, today, it could happen today!”

I’ll be around… um… today. Stop by and let’s talk!

HER NOTORIOUS VISCOUNT
by Jenna Petersen
Available 3/31/09!

A RED HOT
VALENTINE'S DAY
Featuring:
"By Valentine's Day"
by Jess Michaels
Available NOW
from Avon Red!

(Click covers for info.)

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna and Pink Ladies:)

How do you create characters the reader will care about? Do you ever get writer's block and if so, what do you do about it?

Have a great day!
Charlene

Jennifer Madden said...

I have to tell you, I LOVE the Passionate Pen. It is a wonderful resource. Every time I visit I find something new.
Jenna, your story is encouraging. I'll keep plugging away.

Taryn Raye said...

Morning ladies!

Jenna- your story was just what I needed to hear this morning. Like Jennifer said- it's encouraging and inspires me to keep at it!

Marijkske said...

Hey Jenna,

Lessons for a courtesan was very good. I read it in one go!

I'll sure buy red hot valentine's day as soon as I can! I can hardly wait....

How do you get started on a new book? Do you have a sudden idea or do you have to research a lot?

lot of reader's love from
Marijke!

JennaPetersen said...

Good morning everyone! I'm so glad to be here today! I'll be in and out all day, answering comments and questions, plus if you comment you could win so I hope people will, even if it's just to say hi!

Charlene -- I actually do a great deal of character work before I start writing. I think character IS plot and motivation, so it's one of the most important things to me. After that, I think it's just having the characters just do things that make sense and are properly motivated. Readers will generally forgive heroes and heroines if they understand why they did a stupid or even cruel thing. Motivation is big.

Writers block, I usually say I don't get it. Normally if I just "can't" write I either have gone off track in the story so I go back and try to find where it started feeling wrong and fix it... or I just need to get my butt in gear and WRITE even though I don't want to. Normally after two or three hard pages I get back in the groove. Honestly, I think the fact that I plot really heavily helps me. Knowing where i'm going makes it easier to get there. Now that's just me, for some people that might stifle them.

Hi Jennifer and Taryn! I'm glad the story helped. It's available in much greater details (with more crying) at http://www.passionatepen.com in my Diary. LOL

JennaPetersen said...

Good morning everyone! I'm so glad to be here today! I'll be in and out all day, answering comments and questions, plus if you comment you could win so I hope people will, even if it's just to say hi!

Charlene -- I actually do a great deal of character work before I start writing. I think character IS plot and motivation, so it's one of the most important things to me. After that, I think it's just having the characters just do things that make sense and are properly motivated. Readers will generally forgive heroes and heroines if they understand why they did a stupid or even cruel thing. Motivation is big.

Writers block, I usually say I don't get it. Normally if I just "can't" write I either have gone off track in the story so I go back and try to find where it started feeling wrong and fix it... or I just need to get my butt in gear and WRITE even though I don't want to. Normally after two or three hard pages I get back in the groove. Honestly, I think the fact that I plot really heavily helps me. Knowing where i'm going makes it easier to get there. Now that's just me, for some people that might stifle them.

Hi Jennifer and Taryn! I'm glad the story helped. It's available in much greater details (with more crying) at http://www.passionatepen.com in my Diary. LOL

JennaPetersen said...

Apperenty I had a seizure and posted twice, sorry! Marijkske I'm so glad you enjoyed LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN!! I loved writing that book. I hope you'll like my story in A RED HOT VALENTINE'S DAY as much. Colin from ARHVD is so different from Justin from LFAC. Justin is very hard and Colin... well, he's only hard in the "good ways" *waggles eyebrows suggestively*


My ideas really vary. Sometimes I get something from a piece of research, sometimes it's a character who pops into my head first (like Justin from LFAC did that), sometimes it's a situation or even a scene. Then it's all about building a story around that. But ideas can come from anything for me.

Vickie said...

Jenna,

I just wanted to say this blog will be an inspiration to all who will read it. I'm not an author, but I'm an avid reader, and I believe in dreams. Your story is proof positive that with work and persistance dreams do come true.

Since reading this blog, I can tell I like your writing style. So, you've picked up a new fan. I'm looking on your site to see which of your books I want to read first.

Also, what you are doing to help new authors says a lot about you. You're not one of the writer's that made it, and forgot about those left behind. In my opinion, that says your special.

Great blog! And good luck in the future!

Thank you,
Vickie

P.S. Hope you don't mind if I post your link, but I've recently decided to join the electronic age, and now have a myspace page. I'm only going to be posting links I would want to visit myself, so it won't get lost in the mix. I believe good authors should be recommended and promoted. Again, thanks.

Katina Garling said...

Just wanted to say that I also love Passionate Pen, it is one of the best resources available for anyone who writes. Thanks!

JennaPetersen said...

Hi Vicki -- Oh, you're very sweet. I'm so glad you enjoyed the blog. I always think it's so interesting to see the path different authors take to publication. I hope you'll enjoy my books (and you might win one today LOL). Most definitely feel free to post a link to my site for authors or my own website. I'm always happy to be exposed to more potential friends and fans. :)

Hi Katina -- I'm just so glad Passionate Pen has helped so many people. You know this year it turns 10 (I can't believe 10 years have passed) and I'm doing HUGE celebration stuff each month including interviews with editors and agents and prizes! Last month an author won a read from my agent, Miriam Kriss. This month you can win ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of my Jenna Petersen books for life starting with an ARC of HER NOTORIOUS VISCOUNT. So I hope people will come to www.passionatepen.com and read and enjoy and enter to win!

Jade Michaels said...

Thank you so much Jenna for your wonderful story. It has helped me a great deal. I've only been writing seriously for about three years and after two completed novels, I'm working on getting an agent. It's not an easy road and I'm glad to know that others have gone through the same things. Thank you for your supportive advice too, I shall not give up!

Arkansas Cyndi said...

Jenna - How interesting you'd write this blog today. I posted two blogs (yesterday and today) at my two different sites talking about self-doubt and the struggles of writing. If you can read between the lines, it's my "I think I should give up" posts. I find so much comfort in your words today...I think a deep breath and I'll jump in again.

Thank you for the inspiration I needed today..at this time in my writing life.
Cyndi

Judy said...

I really enjoyed your story. I am not a writer, but I love books of all genres. Just by reading all the comments of authors I know it is a hard road. I admire all of you who do it!! I read your books, both under Jenna and Jess and love them. Thanks!!

P.S.-- I also love Pink (any shade)!!

Kathryn said...

Hi Jenna! Even though I've been visiting The Passionate Pen since early 2004, I loved reading your rags to published story in its entirety. I am also a huge fan of your PP website, chock full of great information, tips, etc.

You've helped enormously with wading through all the information with respect to choosing an agent, what to look for, what to avoid. It's such a great resource tool. And the diary is so much fun as well as interesting and informative.

Can't wait to see the Billingham Bastard series in print...

Have you ever thought of leaving historical romance and moving to contemporary times?

Melissa said...

I love your characters and the great details and spice! I can't wait to read more!

melissa said...

PS- the spy series is one of my favorites...I've lent my copies out so much I can't remember who has them now.

JennaPetersen said...

Goodness! I'm working on WHAT THE DUKE DESIRES today (that's the first in the Billingham Bastards series that Kathryn talked about in her comment) and I came back here and there are so many sweet comments!

Jade, it's definitely not easy, but I'm glad my story helped a little. Good luck with your agent search! I have some tips on finding a good agent at my Passionate Pen site if you haven't visited there already, along with an agent list.

Hi Cyndi! *Waves* -- I had those "I think I should give up" moments too. I even indulged in them from time to time. I always found I had to come back. But sometimes a break helps. I always read Stephan King's ON WRITING (the first section on his journey, not the craft section). It made me want to write again.

Judy -- I *heart* readers, so I'm glad you came by today! I'm so glad you've enjoyed my books. Anytime someone says that my first reaction is to go all Sally Field (You like me! You really like me!) so thanks for making my day.

Kathryn -- I certainly have had a couple contemporary and even some urban fantasy ideas, but historical is really what gets me excited in a different way. At this point, I don't see myself writing another genre, though you never know what the future might bring.

Melissa -- You're so sweet! I'm so glad you've enjoyed the stories! I loved writing the Lady Spies, so I'm glad you loved them enough to share. LOL

I'll be back later! Must go work out (not that I want to).

JennaP

Eliza Knight said...

Hi Jenna!

Thanks for sharing your story, its always an inspiration to read other authors stories :)

I love the Passionate Pen! I was lucky to discover it when I first started writing a few years ago and its been an inspiration ever since.

I'm a huge Jess Michaels fan, what's next for her?

Cheers!
Eliza

JennaPetersen said...

Hi Eliza!

Well, my Jess Michaels' story "By Valentine's Day" appeared in A RED HOT VALENTINE, which should still be in stores everywhere. It's a friends-turn-to-lovers/caught-in-a-storm story and a historical.

Then on April 21, my May release, TABOO will be in stores. Cassandra Willows has secretly been designing naughty toys to please the ton and their mistresses for years, but when a man from her past returns with revenge on his mind, she'll have to enter into an erotic bargain to protect herself from exposure. If you read EVERYTHING FORBIDDEN, you'll remember Cassandra as the former lover of Ethan's who designed the special toy he gave to Miranda. :)

And I'm currently writing (or I'll be back to currently writing once I turn in the revised MS of WHAT THE DUKE DESIRES) the final book in the Albright Sisters trilogy, which features spoilt sister Beatrice and the dominant man who tames her. It is currently scheduled for release in February 2010, though it doesn't have a title yet.

So busy, busy, busy!

krissyinva said...

I love your books Jenna! I think its very important to never give up on your dream,even though it may seem impossible at times. You have to believe in yourself. I am a full time pre-nusing student, wife and mother of 4. I was very upset last semester that I was rejected for the nursing program. I just didn't think I was good enough, maybe it wasn't going to happen. After resubmitting and re-testing this semester I got in! I am very excited and proud of myself.

Jade Michaels said...

Thanks Jenna, after leaving this site, I jetted right over to the Passionate Pen site. I'm still playing around on it, there's so much there! Thanks for the encouragment, a person can never have too much of that!

JennaPetersen said...

Hi Krissy -- You're so right. That perserverence really applies to any profession. It's wonderful that you tried again and got in to the school! The only time you can be sure you'll fail is when you quit. :)

And Jade, that's great! I'm so glad you've been enjoying Passionate Pen! :) Hope it's helpful to you. And make sure you enter the Anniversary Contest!

JennaP

Elaine Cantrell said...

The Passionate Pen is a great site. I always check in on Mondays to see what's new. Jenna, your post today encourages me as well as everyone else.

Leah said...

Hey Jenna! Great to see you here!

Love your books and looking forward to reading and recommending your newest release.

Best!
Deb

JennaPetersen said...

Hi Elaine -- all these nice things about Passionate Pen are totally making my day! :)

And hi Deb -- You're so sweet! HER NOTORIOUS VISCOUNT is coming so soon! I hope readers will love it!!

Suprina said...

Jenna, this is the dose of encouragement I so needed today.

Lately I have been having roller coaster confidence concerning my literary career - confidence soaring one day, dragging the floor the next. Especially after one major book deal looked so promising and then suddenly wasn't anymore.

Grrr....

lol.

But after reading your post and seeing the need to make Perseverance my new middle name, I've somehow found even more strength to keep it moving.

Thanks, Jenna.

Suprina Frazier

Susan Macatee said...

Jenna, you were such an inspiration to me back when I was just getting started as a romance writer and I took one of your workshops. You truly are a story of persevering as a writer.

Best of luck with your new releases!

JennaPetersen said...

Hi Suprina, well, if you had something on the table, that's a big sign. I'll bet you'll end up with something else. Do you have an agent? One can speed the process considerably.

Susan, I'm so glad I've helped! I just hope readers keep buying the books and enjoying them. That's the only way writers stay alive in this business. Sales. LOL

Suprina said...

Jenna: No agent yet. Still hoping for one though.

Suprina

JennaPetersen said...

I just wanted that I'll probably draw the two winners (one gets a signed LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN one gets a signed A RED HOT VALENTINE'S DAY) at around 8pm Central so if you want to be entered, you just have to comment! :)

JennaP

Angela Klocke said...

Thank you so much for sharing a small bit of your story. It's really encouraging!

Tracy Preston - Romance Writer said...

Jenna -- Just got home from work a little bit ago. Thanks so much again for being here with us today. Looks like everyone's been having a great time, and that's wonderful!

And by the way, just from reading through some of your posts, I think I'M going to go and enter your contest myself! I wish I would've known in time to enter for the agent read...(*pouty face*)

And my thanks to all the readers who've taken time out of their day to stop by and make Jenna feel welcome. I hope to hear from you all again in the future!!


Tracy Preston

JennaPetersen said...

Thanks Angela!

And thanks so much for having me, Tracy! :) Hope you will go enter the contest! There are going to be new prizes each month, too, so check back March 1, as well!!

JennaP

Jade Michaels said...

Well ladies, my bedtime has come and sadly I must retire. I need my beauty sleep - lots and lots of beauty sleep! Good luck to all of you for the drawing. I wish I could stick around, my short of propping my eyelids open with toothpicks, that is gonna be impossible! So, goodnight all, hope you have wonderful, sinful dreams.

Jane said...

Hi Jenna,
Looking forward to the release of "Her Notorious Viscount." I'm also very excited that you have a new series coming out soon.

Kathy Logan said...

Jenna, thanks so much for being with us today and for your encouraging words.

Teresa Reasor said...

Jenna:
Thanks so much for doing the blog for us today. I've been without power all afternoon and couldn't get on line until just now. Wish I could have hung out all day and read the posts as they came in.
Hope you'll come back again.
Teresa Reasor

kerribookwriter said...

Sorry I'm so late getting here! I have 3 youngins so we'll just blame them. LOL

Great to see you here Jenna! Loved your post....and found it very interesting that you majored in Psychology. That was my original major before I switch to Criminal Justice.

I use my degree and work experience in almost all of my stories. I wondered if you use your Psychology studies in your books?

Hugs,
Kerri

JennaPetersen said...

Jade, you'll still be in the drawing so I hope you'll still check to see if you won! :)

Jane, you're so sweet! I hope you'll love HNV. It's coming so soon (March 31).

Kathy, I was so happy to be here!

Teresa, sorry about the power. We had thunderstorms here today and I was nervous about this too.

Kerri, you know I do. I think it helps me build characters for sure. :) And I think also motivation.

I'm drawing winners in just a minute!

JennaPetersen said...

Ok, so I've picked the winners! Winning a copy of A RED HOT VALENTINE'S DAY is...

Suprina!

And the winner of LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN is...

Vicki!

If you guys will email me at jenna@jennapetersen.com with your address to mail the prize to, I'll get them out as soon as possible.

Thanks again for having me here! I had such a lot of fun and I hope you'll have me back again! :)

And be sure to enter the contests at jennapetersen.com and passionatepen.com, as well as join my newsletter at jennapetersen.com

JennaP

Tracy Preston - Romance Writer said...

CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS!! I know you'll enjoy those reads.

Thanks again Jenna! It was a joy having you. And consider yours a standing invitation. You're welcome to visit and blog with us anytime!

JennaPetersen said...

Oh you're so sweet, Tracy! I'd always be happy to come back. You just let me know any old time. :)

JennaP

stacey said...

I'm glad you kept trying we need all the wrigther out there to keep up with my reading every thing up so keep wright thing for all of us readers that are out there.
from stacey smith

Future Mrs. Ashley Rose said...

Congrats to the winners =] Sorry I missed out. I had a late night class, booo!

 
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