A peek into a successful author's process and a novel giveaway!
Updated: Jul 22
I'm delighted to host my friend and USA Today Bestselling Author, Jen Turano. I've been a fan of Jen's since her first book released.
If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Storing Up Trouble, leave a comment for Jen. (*US residents, only.) I'll draw the winner next Monday evening and announce it next Tuesday.
She's been a guest before, but this time she's giving us a peek into her creative process and has offered a copy of Storing Up Trouble for a giveaway.
Jen's latest book, Storing Up Trouble, is the third and final book in the American Heiress series. It follows the adventures of Miss Beatrix Waterbury, who, unfortunately, has been sent off to stay with her Aunt Gladys in Chicago after suffering a bit of trouble in NYC, as in, she was arrested, and twice at that, after participating in a few suffrage rallies. She soon finds herself in the company of Mr. Norman Nesbit, scientist extraordinaire. Being complete opposites, they find themselves at odds with each other from the moment they meet, but when it becomes evident that someone is out to harm both of them, they find themselves thrown into each other’s company often, which means…chaos ensues.
How do you start writing a novel? Do you outline, research?
The first thing I have to do before I begin writing a novel is to decide what series I’m going to write next. I keep a box filled with ideas, and those ideas normally come about while researching a different series. For this series, The American Heiress series, I was inspired by the true story of Consuelo Vanderbilt. It had always bothered me that her mother arranged a marriage for her with a duke because gaining a title for a family was incredibly desirable. My idea was to write an heiress who would balk at marrying into the aristocracy. That book turned into “Flights of Fancy,” and from there, I had to decide who the other two heiresses in the series would be. Beatrix came into existence after I thought it would be fun to have a completely unconventional heiress, one born into wealth, but one who didn’t abide by all the rules members of the New York Four Hundred were expected to follow.
After deciding who Beatrix was, I then wrote out a synopsis, but I really only outline five chapters at a time because my characters always change as I write, so outlining anything more than that is just a waste of time. Research is always a must, and with “Storing Up Trouble” the setting is in Chicago, I had to research streets, department stores in the city, other businesses, and try to get a feel for what it would have been like to roam around Chicago in the 1880s. After that, I just sat down and wrote the book.
What does your editing process look like?
I go through my books seven times before I turn them into my editing team. They then read through what I send them and do a content edit. They’re looking for places where my story might not be moving along fast enough, or if I’ve not been clear in places, things like that. They send me their suggestions, and I usually end up rewriting a good portion of the story because of all the ripple effects. I then turn it over again to my editors, they do a line/copy edit, making sure my grammar is fine and that I’m consistent with little details, making sure I don’t have someone’s eyes blue at the beginning and green at the end. It happens, you’d be surprised how often. They send that edit back to me, and this is the last time I can really make significant changes. I turn anything I want to be changed over to them, and then it goes to the design page step. I get the manuscript one last time, and this is a cool part because it’s laid out exactly as it’ll look as a printed book. While I’m reading it one last time, a team of proofreaders is also reading it. We hand over anything we find, such as a missing word here or there, and then it’s out of my hands forever.
Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?
The one that has stuck with me for years was when a reader who was terminally ill with ALS wrote to me to tell me how much she’d enjoyed reading my very first novel. Her illness at that point had left her confined to her bed, but she still had use of her hands, and she found herself laughing her way through “A Change of Fortune.” She’d not had a reason to laugh for months, so just wanted me to know how my story had allowed her an escape for a few days from her dire situation. I arranged with my publisher to get her advanced copies of the other books in the series. We wrote back and forth to each other for a few months, and then I didn’t hear anything from her. Six months later, her sister-in-law contacted me to tell me my reader had passed away, but wanted me to know that my books had allowed them to spend time together laughing, this sister-in-law having taken to reading out loud when my reader lost the ability to hold a book. That moment is what really reaffirmed to me that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, and I remember that moment whenever I have doubts about my writing career.
Tell me about your writing space.
So, funny thing. Normally, I write in my office, and only my office. However, with this pandemic, Al (husband person) is now working from home, and will be working from home through the rest of the year, if not into 2021.
Needless to say, that has created havoc with my writing, so I just got a shed built last weekend. I’ve painted it already, but the inside will need to have drywall and insulation put in, as well as electricity. Everyone laughs because the whole she-shed thing is hilarious, but yes, that’s where I’ll soon be writing – in Jen’s she-shed.
How can readers find your book on the Internet?
Storing Up Trouble may be found wherever books are sold, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or one of my favorites, Baker Book House.
As usual, it's great having you stop by, Jen.
Thanks for having me, Megan!