Jennifer Loring

1915029_407996452002_5406555_nJennifer Loring has been, among other things, a DJ, an insurance claims assistant, and an editor. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, webzines, and anthologies, including Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales from the Lake vol. 1 and Black Mirror Press’ Snowpocalypse. Longer work includes the novella Conduits (DarkFuse, 2014) and the novels Those of My Kind (Omnium Gatherum, 2015), Firebird, and What’s Left of Me (Limitless Publishing, 2015 and 2016). Her science-fiction romance novella No One on Earth (After Glows Publishing) will be released in late 2016. Jennifer lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, their turtle, and two basset hounds.

1. What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something?Reading Misery by Stephen King at age 11. Ten years later, my first horror story was published. I’d written a couple of novels before that, in my late teens, but they were predictably awful because I had no idea what I was doing yet.

2. What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured?I may jot a few notes as soon as I get up, but I can’t sit down to work until I’ve had breakfast and a shower. What happens next depends on what I’m working on. If I have a book coming out soon, I’ll typically do some promo first. If it’s a second (or higher) draft, I’m typing away in my office until dinner. I write all first drafts longhand, so if that’s what I’m working on, I’m usually on the couch with a notebook. I’ll often write longhand until bedtime, though I try to spend some quality time with my husband, too. J 

3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?I wouldn’t say I get writers’ block so much as I get distracted by another idea that I want to pursue. I’ve been forcing myself to complete at least the first draft, and using the new project as a reward. Pinning things to my Pinterest board has been another way to get the juices flowing.

4.Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing a story?I’m still a pantser for short fiction (because I find outlines really unnecessary for that), but plotting has become essential for novel-length work, even if it’s just a few vague notes on what should happen. I did a full outline of Firebird in twenty minutes. For the next two books in the series, I wrote general plot points and spent about half a page on each book. I’m starting a paranormal romance soon, and due to the extensive world-building and complex character relationships, I’m using K.M Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel Workbook.

5. Are you traditionally or self-published? Traditionally published. 

6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?The process involved working very hard at my craft and constantly improving. This was long before KDP, so I had to prove to others that I was good enough. Instant-gratification culture has led to too many people writing a first draft, pressing “Publish” on Amazon, and having the nerve to charge people money for a product that is unfinished and unprofessional. Don’t be that person, and don’t publish everything you write. Some of it just isn’t going to be very good, but you’ll learn from it. The most important advice? Learn to take criticism. As an editor, I’ve had clients who took everything as a personal attack. It’s not. You have to be able to separate yourself from your work and look at it objectively. Gain a thorough knowledge of grammar, punctuation, plotting, characterization, and so on—these are the tools of your trade, so you should know how to use them correctly, just as artists, musicians, chefs, doctors, etc. know theirs.

7. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?I was first published almost 20 years ago, so I’ve had a number of highlights along the way. My first pro sale (I was 24, so it was a long time ago!), breaking into a couple of well-respected horror markets, the overwhelmingly positive response to my first romance novel (Firebird)…

8. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience? What’s Left of Me is a contemporary romance with erotic elements and is definitely for adults. Also for anyone who likes sports romances. It’s the second book in The Firebird Trilogy and is sort of a bridge between two very different parts of Alex’s life. 

9. What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)Don’t spam people to buy your book. Don’t waste time posting in the dozens of promo groups on Facebook—those groups are nothing but broke writers advertising to each other. Do a blog tour. Contact reviewers. I can’t believe I’m saying this as an avowed Twitter-hater, but build your Twitter following; it’s much more effective than Facebook. Find genre-specific sites where you can advertise cheaply—The Romance Reviews gives you one free headline banner every month as long as you keep their button on your website. Do a local signing. Word-of-mouth still rules. Basically, get away from Facebook! 

10. How long on average does it take you to write a book?As much time as it takes for me to be happy enough to submit it, although that’s never before a minimum of four drafts. My first book took 2 ½ years, my most recent about four months. These days I can write a first draft in 5-6 weeks. It’s the subsequent drafts that take longer, because I’m adding layers of plot and detail.   

11. Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. I had some input for What’s Left of Me, and while my ideas weren’t used, the cover is consistent with Firebird. For my first novel, the cover is exactly what I specified. For Conduits, I had no input whatsoever. It’s largely dependent on the publisher. 

12. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time?Honestly, I don’t have much spare time anymore. I used to draw and do amateur photography, which I’ll hopefully have some time to get back into next year, depending on what work gets contracted next. I love video games—we have an Xbox One, Xbox 360, Gamecube, N64, and two PCs. My husband and I are craft beer aficionados, so we go out quite a bit, too.

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