I’m delighted to welcome ‘new-to-me’ author Jennifer Gooch Hummer as the special guest blogger today as she stops by to answer questions about her writing process.
Jennifer is the author of GIRL UNMOORED (slated for release March 6 by Fiction Studio Books). Here’s a brief summary of the book: The sharp, quick-witted novel follows the daily torment of Apron, a young woman who has come unmoored and is set adrift in a sea of family drama, break-ups, and a seemingly dismal future. Luckily, she finds a guardian angel in Mike, the warm, caring actor, and his boyfriend, Chad, who offers Apron a summer job in their flower shop. However, just when it seems as though Apron finally has an anchor to rely on, stormy seas return after she uncovers a secret from Chad’s past.
Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You, comments, "Love, loss, and the coming of age of one remarkable girl blaze through this haunting debut like a shooting star you'd wish upon. It's tough and tender, funny and smart, and it frankly took my breath away. I loved it."
Thanks to Jennifer I have 3 copies of GIRL UNMOORED to giveaway to 3 lucky visitors who comment on today’s post by 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, March 2. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Be sure to leave your e-mail address with your comment, if it’s not included in your profile.
Now for questions.
Mason - What was the process like from finished manuscript to published book?
Jennifer - I wrote GIRL UNMOORED in two years, and it took me another eight to get it published. In that time, I had agents come and go, book deals promised and broken, and many, many rejections. It’s easy to think you’re the only writer who has had such a tumultuous publishing experience, until you discover that most authors go through pretty much the same thing. Truthfully, I was prepared to die of old age before I got a book deal, and made my daughters promise to delete my name from the manuscript and write down their own, should that happen.
There are, however, some good things about waiting the lifespan of a green frog to get published. (They live ten years. I looked it up.) The first being that I revised the novel down to its last possible word count. Each time an editor or agent passed on the manuscript and was thoughtful enough to comment as to why, I took his or her notes seriously, checked my ego at the door, and got back to work.
I also, in this time, wrote two other novels. A writer friend warned me that the only way to stay sane during the waiting period was to start on a new book. My waiting period was long enough for me to start, and complete, two. Which was hard. The blank page is my mortal enemy and makes me cry some days, but I pushed through and now I’m glad I did. I have a second draft of Book #2 nearly ready to return to my agent, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to get my hands back on Book #3. I’m sure those characters miss me as much as I miss them - I’ve left one of them stuck in a sand dune.
So in the end, my time period from written to published was probably perfect. And no, I’m not one of those writers who wallpapers their bathroom with rejection letters for inspiration – even though my pile would have covered just about every bathroom in my neighborhood. I have my own ritual. After considering the comments, I print them out and rip them to shreds. Which gives me just the tiniest bit of satisfaction.
Mason - Do you plan and outline when you write or just jump right in wherever the characters lead you?
Jennifer - With GIRL UNMOORED, Apron led the way. All I knew going into the story was that Apron’s mother had died and she was very distant from her already unemotional father. I also knew there was a mean female character lurking in there somewhere. I didn’t know Mike was going to show up, and that surprised me. (It surprises Apron, too.) Chad surprised both of us. Once each of these characters began speaking, in my head and on the paper, their motives unfolded, and when this happens, they start leaving breadcrumbs.
But it doesn’t always work this way. In GIRL UNMOORED, the challenge was cutting down these journeys, which meant cutting beloved scenes and hundreds of pages. In the novel I am working on now, I’m finding just the opposite to be true. This book has a complicated storyline and no one’s leaving me breadcrumbs anywhere!
I’m not sure which process is easier, and both take me the same two years to write. Still, I’m hoping to get more books published before I die of old age, and if that doesn’t happen, well, you know the plan.
Jennifer, thanks so much for guest blogging. I love your attitude toward the publishing aspects. That’s a great way to look at it.
Jennifer has worked as a script analyst for various talent agencies and major film studios. Her short stories have been published in Miranda Magazine, Our Stories and Glimmertain. She has continued graduate studies in the Writer’s Program at UCLA, where she was nominated for the Kirkwood Prize in fiction.
Currently, Jennifer lives in Southern California and Maine with her husband and their three daughters. GIRL UNMOORED is her first novel. For more on Jennifer and her writing, visit her at http://jennifergoochhummer.com/ or click on her button above.
If you’re a writer, have you had similar experiences with having your manuscript published? Readers, does blogging give you a better understanding of what writers have to go through to get published? Thanks so much for stopping by. Remember to comment for a chance to win 1 of 3 copies of GIRL UNMOORED.