I love hosting authors on my blog, but I enjoy an extra level of delight when I get to introduce you to an author who is also a friend. This month it’s my pleasure to host my friend and debut-novelist Melissa Jagaers.
Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who thinks it makes sense to write until 2 a.m. every night. So I’m insane, basically.
Why did you start writing? Going crazy washing diapers and playing patty cake, I decided to pull out my box of story ideas that I’d never done anything with and use my brain before it died.
How did you start writing? I pulled out the story idea that I thought could best write itself but realized that an ENTIRE book was daunting, I didn’t want to go into it blind and meander, so I googled all the different plotting systems until I came upon Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method which made sense to me, so I started working with that until I got too antsy not to start writing.
How did you select your genre? Well, that first book I chose by “it would write itself” was a YA romance about my fictional guess on why two of my former ESL students were together—because in real life I had no clue why! But putting it through a critique group of mostly YA writers they pointed out I was trying to write more like Nicholas Sparks than YA lit. Then I realized, I was never a normal teen anyway, so did I even have the ability to have the right voice for YA readers? Probably not. So what were my other ideas? Mostly historical romances, which made sense since that’s basically all I read fiction-wise. So I switched, and yep, I had a natural voice for it after reading it for more than a decade.
What is your writing day like? I sneak in marketing time, networking stuff, and critiquing my crit partners’ stuff throughout the day, then when the entire family goes to bed, I start . . . . goofing off until I feel guilty enough to start writing!
How do you organize your writing (outlines/note cards/post-its)? Well, I did the snowflake software for awhile, then I tried custom spreadsheets and word documents, I’m not settled on any method yet, but basically just a bunch of word documents in folders holding different information.
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you”? For my novella, I was creating a romance for a set of secondary characters. The hero of the novella in the novel is a calm, confident wise-guy and I was trying to write him just like that in the novella until he “told me” that he didn’t become the confident guy he was until after he married his wife. And well, I hadn’t gotten them together yet!
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters? I’ve got more lists of scenarios and premises, but there are a few characters too. I just write out quick paragraphs of their story or their background/problem on a word document or in a One Note folder. I spill it out as a stream of consciousness document and save it in my electronic idea file.
What does your work space/office look like? It’s one of the walls in my living room. I have a small computer desk in between two bookshelves, one has my history and writing references overflowing on it, the other has all my comparable genre books, overflowing as well. And it’s almost always stacked haphazardly because the kids like to take the books down and create stepping stone pathway mazes with them all over the first floor.
What is your go-to snack when writing? Anything sweet I have in the kitchen that I didn’t eat in front of the kids because I didn’t want to share!
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why? Oh, why do blog interviewers do this to me! Um, if you’re trying to come up with how to effortlessly keep the story conflict in a romance going, read Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist. After I read that, I had to analyze how it felt so effortless. I wrote up a short post on it to share what I figured out Gist had done, whether she did it on purpose or not, I don’t know.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why? The Moral Premise by Stanley Williams. The first half is dry, so it’s not the funnest read, the second half is practical application. I think he’s right, that unless a story is about something, it’s not going to be an enduring story, so he helps you figure out how to make your story about one thing. Doesn’t mean I can get it as succinct as Williams does for my story, but I have a better idea now as I’m writing/plotting what to keep focused on.
Here’s some more info on her books and how to find Melissa on-line:
Dex Stanton’s first attempt at acquiring a mail-order bride fails when the lady writes back ridiculing his atrocious spelling. Rachel Oliver, the smart little brunette who sat in front of him in school, is the last woman he wants to ask for help. How can he handle her knowing what a dunce he really is?Rachel Oliver has had enough. She’s lingered in town for two years mooning over Dex and now she’s done, done, done. If the fool wants to write to a mail-order bride company so be it. She’ll help him find a fancy eastern wife and then go to college as her parents wish. Except once she starts working with Dex, she wants to stop. How can she help him capture another woman’s heart as thoroughly as his laidback charm has captured her own?—
A Bride for Keeps – Available October 1
Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won’t humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again–not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She’s the prettiest woman he’s ever seen, and it’s just not possible she’s there to marry a simple homesteader like him.
Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she’s determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.
Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?
You can find Melissa here:
Inspirational Historical Fiction Index: http://
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