Today on Author Interview Friday, I have Jerilyn Willin. She writes both fiction romance and non-fiction self-help books. Jerilyn is an international consultant, author, and speaker. She helps organizations and individuals discover their unique strengths, develop their talents, and deliver solid, more satisfying results.
Joanne: Jerilyn, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
Jerilyn: I have been writing various things since high school. In fact my current novel, Unless A Love Be Free was born from a story I wrote as a high school senior. My college and grad school years saw me take a hiatus from writing for pleasure, but soon after graduating from grad school, I collaborated on a play for YA that was actually produced at a local Jr. High. Seeing my characters come alive on stage is what got me back on the track of writing for pleasure.
Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
Jerilyn: I took some seminars at the Iowa Writer’s Festival in the early 2000’s. They really bolstered my confidence. I’ve also had seminars with Debra Dixon and Jennifer Greene.
Joanne: How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?
Jerilyn: Do you hear me laughing? In 2001 I signed with a NY agent and just as she was beginning to shop Unless A Love Be Free around, Sept 11 happened. All of NY (and the world) was in shock. Needless to say, nothing happened with my manuscript. In 2003, I received a breast cancer diagnosis and for a year I did nothing but work to get and stay well. When I got a clean bill of health, I worked to re-build my consulting business. In 2008, a colleague and I collaborated on a journaling/self-help book titled Deep, Deeper, Deeper Still. It is a “guided journey for people who journal”. We went directly to POD. The relative success of that book and what I learned when I joined a writer’s marketing group got me re-interested in having Unless A Love Be Free see the light of day. I decided to publish it via CreateSpace for paperback and as an ebook through Barnes and Noble (for Nook) and Kindle Direct Publishing. I started that process at the start of 2012 and Free came out in May 2012.
Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?
Jerilyn: I would definitely recommend CreateSpace to a friend. I choose a professional to format and upload the manuscript for me. His name is Donnie Light. firstname.lastname@example.org He came highly recommended and lived up to his reputation. He formatted and uploaded both the paperback and the ebook. I chose the indie route because basically I was tired of rejections that said, “we love your story, but it is not right for our line.” It’s true that Unless A Love Be Free is not a typical romance. It is not set in England/Ireland/Scotland, and while the hero is noble, he is not a nobleman. Traditional publishers are skittish to go with something different than the tried and true. The writer’s marketing group I joined (www.author-author.org) opened my eyes to indie publishing. As a member of RWA I thought traditional publishing was the only way to go. Thank goodness groups like RWA are seeing that indie publishing is a viable alternative today. While it would be wonderful to be on the shelve of Barnes and Noble, I am “on the shelf” of amazon.com and bn.com and that is just fine.
Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?
Jerilyn: In terms of fiction, yes. I love historic romance. As I said earlier, I have also written a non-fiction book.
Joanne: Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
Jerrilyn: It would be in Romance area. I call it an historical romantic adventure.
Joanne: Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?
Jerilyn: Right now I don’t have different stories.
Joanne: Author, Jennie Nash was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s
Jerilyn: One of the things that makes Unless A Love Be Free different is that the “prologue” and Part II of the book are set in the same time period. Part I takes place five years earlier. There are four point of view characters in Free: the hero, the heroine, the antagonist and the heroine’s best friend. When I change POV, the POV character gets the entire scene. I work hard not to head-hop.
Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Jerilyn: I don’t use an outline. I am a seat of the pants writer. The hardest part for me is the synopsis. Yuck!
Joanne: It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
Jerilyn: Social media, signings. Had a few days of free books through Kindle. Literally thousands of people downloaded it. I was shocked. Hope they all read it. Wished most would have reviewed it on amazon! I travel a great deal for my job and confess that I leave bookmarks in magazines in the seat pocket.
Joanne: What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Jerilyn: Keep writing. NEVER say, “What makes me think I can write?” and don’t listen to people who say it. We all have stories inside us. One of my favorite quotes is “Most people go to their grave with their songs still in them”. Song or story…get it out there.
Joanne: What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?
Jerilyn: That everyone deserves a second chance and many times we don’t give it to ourselves. Free is a story of redemption and love through self-acceptance.
Joanne: Where can readers go to buy your book and learn more about your writing.
Jerilyn: I have a blog as mentioned below. I also have FB and amazon links below. The books are available at bn.com and amazon.com. If a reader would like an autographed copy, they can contact me at Jerilyn@speakerwritercoach.com. I add $3 to the cost of the book for postage.
Joanne: Thank you Jerilyn. I am sure authors that are considering the Indie route will be very interested in your comments above. I am sure that the romance buyers will want to get a sneak peak into your story. Can you share a few paragraphs from your book with us?
A “taste” of
Unless A Love Be Free
“Wait.” McKenzie closed the distance between them, laying a restraining hand on his arm. “Garrick, I…there is something I must say.”
Her look wrapped him in soft velvet, warm, rich. It got inside him, and set his blood racing. Did she know what she risked touching him like this, looking at him as she did? His defensives, already weakened, shook with the pounding of his heart.
She looked away, and he knew she was changing her mind, backing away from what she wanted. “Say it, McKenzie.”
“I realize circumstances might have been quite different these past weeks. I want you to know I’m grateful for…your honor and protection. You have nothing to fear from me, Garrick Stuart. Whatever happens, I won’t betray you. I know the man you are.”
Before he could stop, before he could warn himself that to act on his feelings would bring disaster, Garrick brought his lips to hers. To his amazement, she did not pull away. The havoc her response wreaked stunned him. Rocked by a surge of emotion, he could contain neither his will nor his words.
“There is something powerful between us. Do you feel it?”
“Since the day on the dock.”
She tilted her head and their lips met again. This time he kissed her as he hungered to, deep, long, filling his senses. His arms came around her and his heart missed a beat as her body melted into him. His loneliness and need poured forth. It was too much. As quickly as he embraced her, Garrick pulled away. He needed time to think, distance to clear his head. Ignoring the questions in her eyes, he left her standing in the circle of light.
Garrick didn’t stop until he reached the ledge just above the water mark. He crouched down, watching the incoming tide. The canoe fought the ropes securing it, battling to join the tide surging around it on all sides.
“Damn it all!” Garrick ran fingers through his hair in frustration. Caring about this woman was not in his plan.