Today I am talking with Darlene Jones.
Hi Darlene! First of all, what made you decide to become a writer?
Reading has been essential to me since I was very young (no television on the farm and isolated so no kids to play with. To me, writing a book seemed magical and that was what I wanted to do. I didn’t realize that dream until much later in life which is probably for the best as I know, for me, life experience makes for a richer story.
Yes, it does. It also seems to make writing easier if you have something to say from your own experiences. So how long did it take to get published the first time and how did it happen?
I spent, make that wasted, a lot of time trying to find a literary agent. Then my writing partner and I went to a conference in Portland where we kept hearing about self-publishing. One keynote speaker said, “I found a publisher for my client. It took 2 years. Do it yourself and it will take 2 months.” We were skeptical, but when we got home we both received rejection letters from an agent we had pitched to—identical rejections for two very different genres and writing styles. That sealed the deal for us.
I, too, know the feeling of rejection. What would you do differently the next time?
I’ve published six books and learned along the way. I don’t think I would do anything differently really. I’ve always had an editor and hired a cover artist. What is different is that my writing has improved with practice and I expect that to continue. Also, I now use a rough outline before I begin writing the story which makes the process easier.
Do you have any advice for an aspiring author?
A writing partner is a MUST—you need that second pair of eyes and unbiased point of view to see what you don’t see in your own work. Preferably another writer as they know what you need in terms of critiquing. Do not have a personal friend or family member. They’ll be afraid of hurting your feelings and won’t tell you what you need to know.
That seems to be my most difficult accomplishment so far–finding a writing/critique partner. So, Darlene, what (or who) inspires or influences your writing?
I wrote this blog to answer that question. Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Thomas A. Edison Edison may very well have been right, but what good is the ninety-nine percent perspiration without the inspiration?
Where do our stories come from? Daydreams, life experiences, the people we meet, nightmares, what we hear, see, read, and imagine? Every author will have a response unique to their life experience and their interests. The answer, for me, is all of the above.
We listen to the news, read the paper, and build in current events. We laugh with friends and build in comradery for our characters. We yearn for love and romance and give it to our hero and heroine. The adventures we long for belong now to our players. The lives we’ve led, or wish we’d led are, in part, imbued in our characters and plot lines.
But there is another aspect to inspiration that is often unforeseen. As we write, our stories take on a life of their own. Characters develop and lead us in directions we hadn’t anticipated or planned. A minor character creeps in and takes over. We try to contain him, but he has a mind of his own and insists on playing his part.
The hero’s friend becomes our friend. The heroine’s fight becomes our fight. And as we edit and polish and rework our novel, we worry about our characters, love them, perhaps hate them, and can’t leave them behind. They become as much a part of our lives as are the people around us. They, too, are our inspiration.
I couldn’t have said it any better. Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
Yes. I’m in the early stages, working on the outline, researching, and mulling over ideas for my next book. I can’t tell you much more than that at this early stage of story development.
What are your latest releases and when/where can we find them?
When the Sun was Mine is my recent release. It’s a departure from the sci-fi series and it was fun to write something so different.
How long have you been writing professionally?
I began writing about 10 years ago. At first it was short fan fiction pieces, but soon that wasn’t enough and I began working a story line for a novel when I was suffering from insomnia. That didn’t put me to sleep, but it did result in a book. I thought I’d write one book, but the characters took over, changed what I thought would be the ending, and before I knew it I had a novel series.
That happened to me, too. My secondary character started telling me his story the moment I finished the first one. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t writing?
I work out regularly—writing is too sedentary, I read a lot, I play with my granddaughter, and I confess that I play solitaire games to relax.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Part-time and if I don’t have a story idea when one book is done, I leave it alone until ideas start coming to me and then I’m back at the computer.
Where do you reside?
Victoria, BC, Canada
Tell us about your latest release/releases.
When the Sun was Mine
Flo: I was an inmate in this hellhole they charmingly called a nursing home. Then Brit climbed in my window. She was just a kid. How could she possibly help me?
Brit: I should have been in college, not working in this dump. But then I never would have met Flo. She had Alzheimer’s. They said she never talked, but she talked to me.
Brought together by circumstance, an old lady and a young girl develop an unlikely friendship. Each has a dream they long to fulfill, but first Brit is determined to solve the mystery of Flo.
That sounds interesting. Can you tell us how to get in touch with you?
I want readers to know that you are the people who make writing so worthwhile and we authors very much appreciate your support especially when you contact us directly and write reviews.
Thank you, Darlene, for spending time with me.
Ester, THANK YOU, for giving me this opportunity to promote my work.