Friday, March 13, 2015

Guest Post with Author Jenny Holiday

I always love hearing how authors got started writing for the first time.  I really enjoy Jenny Holiday's books and she has a bit of a different approach to how she got started - and I totally agree about Pride and Prejudice!

My journey to becoming an author – Jenny Holiday

I decided to try to become a romance author not long after I started reading romance. I was a late bloomer on the romance front, though, not discovering romance novels until I was in my early 30s. This was probably because I was a late bloomer on discovering Jane Austen (I blame my high school. Hello, what kind of high school doesn’t make you read Pride and Prejudice?!). After I gobbled up her books, I found my way to Regency romances. My initial experience of the subgenre were the Harlequin historicals I got from the library. When you read enough category romances from the same imprint, you begin to understand the pattern. Now, I’m not knocking category romance here—I write it, after all. But there are certain norms that govern category romance. I hesitate to call it a formula, but…you know what I mean. It’s like you’re Neo and you can suddenly see the Matrix.

I had always been pretty good at writing according to formulas. By day, I worked as a PR writer. I’d had jobs that required me to get a very specific message out in a very specific way: write a magazine story about X that will make people donate money to our cause, that sort of thing. And I loved this kind of work—I thrived on taking a problem and solving it with words under a particular set of constraints.

You can probably see where I’m going here. At some point, I looked up from a book I was reading and said, “How hard can this be?”

Ha ha ha ha ha. Pride goeth before a fall and all that.

It turned out I really didn’t know how to write a romance novel. But I learned. I wrote a book that really wasn’t very good, though I couldn’t see that at the time. Probably the smartest thing I did was join a couple RWA chapters. Through RWA, I gained access to critique groups and contests and classes that gradually chipped away at my ignorance—and I met some critique partners who are with me to this day.

I also hired a freelance editor to take a look at that first awful book because although my attempts to query agents were getting me lots of requests for manuscripts, the book itself was being universally rejected. I hoped this editor’s feedback would help me get the book into good enough shape to get me an agent. Her honest counsel was probably one of the critical turning points in my career. She helped me see why that book wasn’t working, and gave me some tools to start fixing it. I rewrote the book, but when I got to the end (again), I had to face the fact that, though improved, this book never going to be good enough for a major publishing deal. So I let it go and started over. It was hard at the time—I even passed up a couple unsolicited offers from smaller publishers—but it was the smartest thing I could have done.

After that, things were kind of…easy. That’s the wrong word, obviously, because there was a ton of work involved, and a little luck (and as with everything in publishing, every step took months if not years). But I wrote a new book. That book got me exactly the kind of agent I was looking for: someone who was into career-building and had the chops and the connections to do major deals. That agent sold that book—and two sequels. She also suggested I try writing a contemporary novel, which was not something I had ever considered. So I wrote a contemporary book, and she sold that—and two sequels.

And then? I guess I lived happily ever after!

Jenny Holiday's Latest
Sleeping With Her Enemy by Jenny Holiday
Release date: February 23, 2015

Amy Morrison is supposed to be at her wedding. But when her husband-to-be jilts her at the altar, a distraught Amy runs to the only place she feels safe—her office. Besides, everyone who works on her floor is at her wedding...except him. Dax Harris. Playboy, executive, and Amy's official office enemy.

While he and Amy don't see eye-to-eye on the best of days, Dax can't help but feel badly when he sees Amy mid-meltdown. Next thing he knows, he's gotten her good and drunk, and they're making out like two teenagers. And since neither of them want anything serious, why shouldn't they be frenemies-with-benefits? Because there is no possible way they could ever fall for each other...


About Jenny Holiday
Jenny Holiday started writing in fourth grade, when her awesome hippie teacher, between sessions of Pete Seeger singing and anti-nuclear power plant letter writing, gave the kids notebooks and told them to write stories. Most of Jenny's featured poltergeist, alien invasions, or serial killers who managed to murder everyone except her and her mom. She showed early promise as a romance writer, though, because nearly every story had a happy ending: fictional Jenny woke up to find that the story had been a dream, and that her best friend, father, and sister had not, in fact, been axe-murdered. From then on, she was always writing, often in her diary, where she liked to decorate her declarations of existential angst with nail polish teardrops. Eventually she channelled her penchant for scribbling into a more useful format. After picking up a PhD in urban geography, she became a professional writer, and has spent many years promoting research at a major university, which allows her to become an armchair astronomer/historian/particle physicist, depending on the day. Eventually, she decided to try her hand again at happy endings--minus the bloodbaths. You can follow her twitter accounts @jennyholi and @TropeHeroine or visit her on the web at jennyholiday.com.

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