You'll not want to miss my interview with author, Jeanne Rogers. Why is the wild animal population so important to her, and how does she get children involved in reaching out?
Learn about some great marketing methods that Jeanne uses, yes, even though she HATES marketing. Find out what she truly loves.
Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I have two interests in which I am very invested. First, I have a reverence for life and a sincere concern for the status of wild animals. I believe human life on this planet is intrinsically connected to wild life. I have always wished I could do more to bring attention to the issue, other than donate to the World Wildlife Federation, or the Environmental Defense Fund. I also believe that it is possible for man to live in harmony with nature. It is something we should strive for.
So, after thinking about ways that I could do more, it came to me that I just might be able to combine my love of writing in such a way as to teach youngsters about wild animals. It’s a big subject, and an important one. There are many animals whose lives are either threatened or straight out endangered. Some are critically endangered to the point that one day soon we may never see them again. A long time ago, I read a book entitled, Last Chance to See. This book was the catalyst for me, and it still holds a place of honor on my bookshelf. The plight of endangered animals gave me a reason to write.
But, to attract kids, the writing needed to be fun, and subtly introduce youngsters to endangered animals. In an effort to achieve this goal, I have placed, and will always place, a glossary at the back of my books. The glossary provides tidbits of information and a web site where my readers can see what the animals look like in real life. It’s an adventure; it’s a teaching tool, it’s just plan fun, and shouldn't that be what we offer to young readers? Isn't that what might spark them to read more? Now there’s a thought!
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a laptop or do you prefer writing freehand?
I actually start by writing freehand, but once I reach a certain pace (too fast for my pen), I switch over to the computer. Seems a bit cumbersome, but it works well for me. I am sure that most writers will identify with the muse attacking them, and when she does, woe to the writer who doesn't listen. I tend to listen, so when those words start to flow, I switch over to the keyboard.
As to where I write, I admit to carrying a small notebook, and sometimes a recorder so if something comes to mind I can write it down no matter where I am. Under optimum conditions, I am sitting at my desk gazing out at the woods in the back of my home in Connecticut. The view inspires me.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
Writing is an artistic process, and if you allow your imagination to run wild you can create a great deal, and become immersed in that creation. You can take your story anywhere. There are no borders, no limitations. With my pen (or laptop), and a great deal of imagination I can go places that don’t exist, and I can stay there for quite some time. No one can tell me that what I’m envisaging is wrong, or that my plot is too wild, or doesn't make sense. I’m just typing away, creating. I’ll worry about the details after I’m finished. Those thorny details may include necessary things like, plot flow, story structure, character enhancement, etc., etc. Then there is grammar and all the other aspects of editing. It’s tough to edit your own work. I tend to look toward the professionals, and I do have a wonderful editor that I rely on to catch me when I fall into the bad grammar, misused comma, overly adjectivized (is that a word), pit.
Did I mention that marketing is the work of the devil? Yes, I've said it a million times before. Just for emphasis, marketing is the work of the devil. It is my least favorite thing about writing. In the current publishing environment, there is sooooo… much competition. For example, last year over 300,000 self-published books were listed on Amazon. The number will certainly not decrease. So today’s writers must have a good marketing plan, which goes hand in had with a good author platform. Both items are necessary, and both are difficult to properly construct. Marketing is something that needs to begin well before one’s book is published, and you have to work at it all the time. You need to be familiar with all social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, etc. You name it; you had better have a presence there, or else! Ugh! Can you tell that this is my least favorite part?
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How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?
It’s easy for me to come up with characters. Most of the characters in my books are animals and many of them are endangered. I pull them from nature, bring these animals to life, and it’s a blast. Then I dress them, give them hopes and dreams, give them problems, and place elaborate obstructions in their paths, which requires them to rethink their original plans, then they watch those plans fall apart, and suddenly come back together again. I hope my readers become invested when they meet them, because they have never met nor spoken with any characters quite like these before. Also, I am sure that my readers will be able to identify with my characters. There are dilemmas within the story that the characters have to deal with. These dilemmas will make the reader reflect on situations in their daily lives. Issues like family trouble, making friends, love, the value of teamwork and dedication to a cause, are woven into the story and brought to life by the characters.
My creatures are interesting characters. They talk to me daily and insist that I get their stories down on a piece of paper. I listen to them. If I don’t, they’ll be there in the morning when I wake up, and they’ll bother me until I pay attention.
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
I believe I mentioned above how much I enjoy marketing – NOT! I’ll elaborate a bit on what I believe is necessary to appropriately market yourself and your book. In my opinion, in order to promote/market a book, several factors should be considered. First, you have to know your competition. Some writers just have an idea and they move forward, take out pen and paper and start to write. But have they considered similar books? Writers need to know their competition.
Another factor, which helps a writers properly promote their writing, is knowing your audience. Your audience is your market, and believe me when I say, marketing is the work of the devil (did I say that already?), so you had better consider your audience ‘cause it’s your market. Once you know your audience you can set up a plan to promote and build your platform for them. Your platform is another essential marketing tool. You must think about what it is that makes you different from everyone out there, zero in on it, and focus on it.
Promotion and building a platform are essential. You can’t wait until you have that manuscript ready to publish or send to an agent! Begin establishing yourself and building your platform well in advance of your planned publishing date. I started years in advance on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. I started a blog focusing on what my passion is: animals, educating youngsters, highlighting Australia, and having a bit of fun while doing it. Make it your business to know yourself and know your market/audience.
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
I would really like to say that I am SO disciplined that I set aside three hours beginning at 4:00 a.m. and ending at 7:00 am. At 7:00, I switch over to writing my blog, which continues well into the afternoon (snicker, snicker). Lies, all lies! I truly operate on a first come first served basis. That sounds a bit weird, but if the muse for Facebook arrives before the muse for blogging, then Facebook it is. I am a creative writer, and I work creatively. It’s more fun that way, and if I’m enjoying what I’m doing, like typing out this interview answer, I leave all other muses waiting in line.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
I am so glad you asked that question! I am working on book two. It’s entitled, The Gift of Sunderland. I am so excited about it. The main characters of the story will once again be anthropomorphized animals. They will run rampant through the pages on an exciting and thrilling adventure. Oh, what’s that you say, you’d like to read an opening paragraph? Wonderful:
“In the northern lands of Acadia, deep in the realm of Sunderland, there once stood an ancient gum tree. The ancient tree fell so long ago that the event was no longer a part of the Forest’s memory. Now it is a comfortable and cozy home for a regal line of numbats named Ayers. Roland Ayers’ family history was a source of pride for the great marsupial. He was patriarch of his immediate family, advisor to his extended family and Guardian of the Forest. The creatures throughout Acadia recognized his strength and the power of his sorcery. Like the fallen tree, Roland was old. Soon the role of Guardian would be passed on.”
I am working toward a publishing date in April this year. Thanks for asking.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
I don’t really have anything on the back burner. However, I do have many ideas that are percolating for the third book. There certainly will be a third. I already have the title. It will be called The Last Ayer. I know where it will head, but nothing has been put down in concrete yet. The muse is waiting in the wings.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
I think the one thing that new writers need is tenacity and faith. You have to keep trying. Depending on where you are in your writing process, whether you are in the midst of writing that book you always wanted to write, or you’re still in school studying the craft, the best advice I can give is keep at it. It’s the fire in the belly, the sense of urgency that will get you to where you want to be.
You must have faith in yourself. You must believe that what you are writing is worthy, and then write it. This takes some courage, but stay with it, seek help when you need it, and keep writing. Write about what you love and the rest will fall into place.
Finally, be sure that you have plenty of beta readers, consider hiring a professional editor, and seek out help when you need it. That’s where social media comes in. There are tons of individuals out there ready and willing to help and advise you. Remember, if you are enjoying what you’re doing it will all come together.
Thank you, Jeanne!
Learn more about Jeanne here: