Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Have You Met Jean?

So far, I’ve been introducing you to people I know, love, and love to read. This week is no exception! Jean Brashear is one of those authors I love, love, love!

When I asked if I could talk to her about where she writes, she was more than happy to comply. (Thank you, Jean!)

Me: Do you always write in your office? If not, where else do you write.

 Jean: I just about never write in my office, nor do I do my first drafts on my computer. 🙂 I wander, thanks to my old-school Alphasmart.

chair

Jean: The rocker where I often sit to re-read drafts and wield my red pen. (Behind me, the first 4 shelves are copies of my published books in various languages…the 4th shelf with Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars series in front of me, as it should be.:)

Me: Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever written?

 Jean: My back deck under the live oaks, sitting in a cushion-y wicker rocker.

 

Me: Ooh, that sounds like a great place to be, writing or not! Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

 Jean: No physical place that weird. I save the weird for inside my head. 😉

Me: Do you do anything before you write? Light a candle? Put on music?

 Jean: Can’t write to music! Don’t want to influence where the story goes—I’m too busy feeling the characters and can’t afford to interfere with feeling the music.

jean-herself

Jean: And while we’re living in the Land of Make Believe, here I am, pretending that I actually write at my desk.;)

windows

And this is her favorite part of her office. Can’t say that I blame her!

Me: Do you write every day?

Jean: Weekdays, yes. I save weekends for my honey.;)

Me: Did I mention she writes romance? No wonder! What’s the atmosphere in your office?

Jean: Not good for writing—though I have photos of my beloved, a comfy rocking chair and a dog I love. Too many reminders of business, otherwise, though!

Me: If you could have your dream office, what would it be?

Jean: I like mine fine, though a separate little writing shack might be fun. On the other hand, I get up and wander a lot in between scenes, and a lot of a book forms in my head during my rambles, so not sure one little building would work.

Wait—a tree house! Wow…I might need that. 😉

Me: How did you get started writing?

 Jean: My husband and I were having one of those “what do we want to do with the rest of our lives?” conversations when our last child was about to graduate. As an avid reader since childhood, I said “I’ve always thought it would be amazing to see my name on the spine of a book.” My honey, Mr. Pragmatic, basically said “What’s stopping you?” and proceeding to support me in every possible way as I took the leap into a dream I’d never imagined possible (and if I’d understood publishing better—don’t know I’d have had the courage! LOL)

Me: Are there any how-to books you recommend for writers?

Jean: How-tos just freeze me up. I SO wish I were a writer who could plan and follow the plan, but the reality is that I dive into the story and just feel my way through, however impossibly inefficient that might be. (And trust me…it is.:( )

Me: What’s your process for starting a new book?

Jean: We’re supposed to have a process?? (You’d think, after 40+ books, that I would, but truthfully, I have a few snippets of ideas rolling around, and most of it is just finding a scene that grabs me—and readers, I hope—and diving in.)

plotsJean: Here is the wall I recently created, thinking I could actually change myself and my process aka Jean Pretends She Will Actually Plot:

Me: Did you struggle as a new writer or were you blessed with sales from the word go?

Jean: I wasn’t one of those “I sold my first book” luckies, no. Got the rejection letters to prove it!

Me: Do you write in more than one genre? Ever write under another name?

Jean: I have written romantic suspense, women’s fiction and paranormal romantic suspense, but no other name.

Me:  What piece of advice do you have for a newbie struggling writer?

Jean: These days, though indie publishing is an option and one I’m loving, I would still urge a new writer to write more than one book before publishing any. And get help from experts—all of us need editing!

For one thing, things we think are on the page may not be—with the story so alive in our heads, we may not realize that we know things that aren’t coming across. I don’t mean endless details—readers don’t need to know all we have to know about our characters—but that what we think we conveyed may indeed not be what’s there.

We need objective eyes, and we have all seen our words way too many times to trust that we truly know what’s there!

I will say that the few times I’ve been able to let a story sit for at least a few months (a luxury I never had when writing for a traditional publisher) I never cease to see new things I could do with it to make it better.

Ergo my advice above: don’t publish your first effort. You will learn with each one and get better. All of us get better—or we’re doing something wrong if we’re not—over time.

Let that first effort sit and ripen while you write something else. Then go back and see what you think, see if fresh eyes helps you make the story stronger and better.

That said, your story is your story, and only you know what it should be. Get professional eyes on your work, but never be afraid to stick up for your vision of what your story really is.

Me: What are your latest books?

Jeans: I’m releasing my first-ever serial, a 3-part story (with a surprise connection to my Texas Heroes Sweetgrass Springs books) called The Book Babes.

Part One, Texas Ties, released on 3/15, Part Two, Texas Troubles, releases on 3/26, and Part Three will wrap up the story on 4/9. All are available for order/preorder at all retailers, and here are the links plus an excerpt: http://jeanbrashear.com/texas-heroes-series/the-book-babes/

book-babes

Me: Do you have anything in the works?

Jean: I’m starting the next Sweetgrass Springs story—which totally changed, in the wake of the Book Babes and its surprise connection that I never saw coming.;) Hey, I like surprises, too!

Me: Thank you so much for letting us visit your office, Jean! That was fun!!!