Hello, everyone! Welcome to my second Sunday interview. Today, I’m talking with Jenny Keller Ford.
Hi, Jenny! I am thrilled to have you here, today. I’ve been reading your blog since I discovered it a few months ago and have loved reading about your journey to publication. For those who have not been fortunate to catch your beautiful blog, would you please tell them a little about yourself?
Hi Susan. First let me say how happy I am to be here. Thank you so much for thinking of me and including me in your new blog endeavor. It’s a great idea.
As for me, I was born in Neu Ulm, Germany and was adopted by a U.S. military family when I was six weeks old. I traveled around a lot as a kid, and returned to Germany when I was six years old. We lived there for two years and during that time, my mom made sure my brother and I were introduced to all the country had to offer…including castles. As a little girl, I adored fairytales, so seeing these castles up close and personal solidified my love for them and all things fantasy, especially stories of King Arthur, Merlin and Camelot. I suppose that’s why I read and write stories centered around dragons, faeries and magic.
I’m twenty-one years married, have four children ranging in age from 17 to 27, and I have a granddaughter who will turn 4 in July. I am a willing slave to an orange tabby, two Australian Shepherds and a speckled mutt, and would probably own every stray and abandoned animal in the world if I had the space and the money to care for them.
Wow! That’s a fascinating history. I love castles, too, and I long to travel overseas to see them. You’re lucky you got to live there! As for the animals, you sound just like my daughter! 🙂
How long have you been writing?
Ever since I could hold a crayon. My mom used to have a whole box of my scribbles from when I was a kid. Sadly, she passed away in 2006 and I have no idea what happened to them all.
Sorry to hear that!
What inspired you to start writing?
My mom read to me all the time. I remember snuggling with her on the couch when I was four, maybe five years old. I’ve always loved to read. Of course, I always thought I could tell a story better than anyone and I embellished lots of stories. I called it having an imagination. My mom called it lying. I would tell stories about our Fox Terrier rescuing fairies from avalanches (that was one of my favorites), or tell stories about the dinosaur-turned dragon that lived in my room.
I love that! lol
In which genre do prefer to write?
I primarily write Young Adult fantasy, but I have ventured into other areas. I like to push myself, step outside my comfort zone. I don’t think I’ll ever be known as a romance or mystery author, but I enjoy playing around with the genres.
It IS fun to stretch yourself and I’m sure it has a lot to do with becoming a better writer. 🙂
Please tell us a little about your writing process.
I sit down and write. I don’t plan anything, however, sometimes I do write down brief outlines of what I’d like to see happen in the novel or story, but I tend to let my brain take me wherever it wants to go. Most the time I write in sequence, but sometimes I’ll get ideas for later chapters and I have to stop and write them down. I wrote the last line in the second novel of my Chronicles of Fallhollow saga before I ever wrote one word on the first novel. In fact, every event in the second novel is written to lead up to that last line, that’s how much I’m married to it.
When I worked full-time, I would write from around 9 pm until 1 or 2 in the morning, wake up at 6 a.m. and write for another 2 hours before I had to go to work. Then I’d write during my hour lunch break. After I lost my job in June 2010, I’ve dedicated the majority of my day to writing. This includes short stories, flash fiction, novels and on my blog. The writing never stops. I’m truly blessed that way. Now if only I could stop fiddling with my novels and get them published. I also provide editing services to authors, especially those who have written non-fiction and want to self-publish.
That’s good to know. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who would be interested in that service. And I am certain that you WILL get your novels published, one day. 🙂
What is your strategy with regards to editing?
I do a lot of editing myself through multiple reads. I also read my story out loud to my youngest son. By reading aloud, I can find the spots where the cadence is off, where dialogue doesn’t work, and misspelled words my eyes skipped over before. I also rely on beta readers and critique partners a lot! They are better than any hunk of software out there. They’re priceless. I would be lost without them. There is not enough gold or chocolate in the world to pay them for what they do.
When I’ve completed a piece and I’m ready to submit, I put out a call for help. I usually get about 5 or 6 takers, depending on the story. Being that most of what I write is somehow fantasy related, I tend to call on those who enjoy fantasy and science fiction. After the beta and critique partners finish their final edits, I put my story/manuscript through a free Autocrit-type software that catches overused words, clichés, incomplete phrases, etc. that my betas didn’t catch. If I dare, I might ask one or two more betas to re-read it just to make sure I caught everything before sending it out to agents and publishers.
That sounds like a pretty good methodology.
I understand you recently had some exciting news about one of your stories. Would you like to let my readers know about it? Feel free to brag as much as you like! 🙂
Wow, this one really surprised me! J. Taylor Publishing put out a call for submission this past January for their upcoming Make Believe anthology. They offered up a visual prompt and asked writers to submit a short story, up to 10,000 words, based on that prompt. As I always do with publishers, I took a look at what they usually publish, who their authors were and I read some of their books to get a feel of what they liked. It seemed most of their authors wrote romantic urban fantasy/paranormal type stories. The fantasy aspect I knew I could do. The romance? I was about to step out of my comfort zone but I figured, what the heck? I convinced one of my friends and beta partners to go along on the ride with me. We had until mid April to submit our short stories. For three months my mind remained a blank slate. Sometime in March the idea, as well as the MC’s name (Elton Fletcher), slapped me in the head, and I ran with it, with only 2 1/2 weeks to go. My beta partner ran into the same problem and was scurrying to finish hers. Finally the stories were done and we exchanged as well as called in more reinforcements. Those last couple of weeks were intense with all the re-writes and beta suggestions. Finally the day came and I had to hit the submit button. I have to say my finger hovered over the enter key for a long time before I closed my eyes and did it. Sometimes you just have to let go.
A few days later I heard from the publisher and they liked my story, but wanted to know if I would be willing to make changes. After some nervous e-mail exchanges back and forth, they informed me they would get back to me. About a week later, I received a congratulatory e-mail from the publisher welcoming me to the J. Taylor Publishing family of authors! It was a remarkable feeling. Sometimes I still can’t believe it. My first real, contracted published piece. There are no words to describe the feeling. It goes beyond elation. My story was chosen…my writing was validated. I was, and still am, on cloud 9.
After about a month, the publisher gave us permission to announce the great news. A week or so later, the publisher revealed the cover of the book and the back cover marketing blurbs. When I saw my name on the cover, I cried. It was real. My publishing dream had come true. If you want, you can read all about the six authors and their stories at http://www.jtaylorpublishing.com/books/17 . Here’s the gorgeous cover. The anthology releases December 3, 2012 in e-book format only and I can’t wait.
That certainly IS a beautiful cover!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Only this: never, ever give up on your dreams. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Don’t be afraid of hitting that submit button. I’m a prime example of what can happen if you go for your dream. I never thought I could write something outside my ‘norm’, much less get it published, but I did. If I can do it, so can all of you. All you have to do is believe in yourself and your writing.
Those are very inspiring words, Jenny. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. 🙂
This is so cool. Thanks again for everything!
You’re so welcome, Jenny!
If any of my readers would like to check out her blog, you can do it here. You can check her Facebook page here with her Author Page being this. You can follow her on Twitter @jkellerford. Hope to see you all back here next Sunday for another interview. Enjoy your week! 🙂