The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview
We would love to get to know you Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself? Hmmm.my life in a nutshell. I was brought up in southern Louisiana to a couple of Midwestern parents before I moved away to go to graduate school in Ohio. I met my husband there and we moved first to North Carolina for a job opportunity and then half a world away to the United Arab Emirates. Several years and two children later we moved to Cairo, Egypt for yet another job opportunity. In addition to being a full time mother and romance writer I'm also a quilter. Now that I've made quilts for every bed in our house, I make and sell quilts on commission to finance my travels. So far I've visited four countries that way! If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why? I've written three books and it's hard to choose! I create characters that I love but they are all much different sorts of people. I'd love to be Julia from "Here to Stay" because she's got a great fixer-upper Victorian house on the Jersey Shore and I would dearly love to get my hands on a house like that (and Patrick is a hunk of course) But Summer from "One Crazy Summer" is so wonderfully fun and spontaneous and carefree who wouldn't want to be her? (at least for a little while!) And though Maggie from my upcoming book "All the Way Home" is a bit of a worrier, her hero Sam is just too hard to pass up. I can't choose! When you have writer's block how do you break free? The best thing for me to do when I come to a block is to take a step back from my story. I will try to engage my mind elsewhere and let the plot stew in the back of my brain while I quilt, bake bread, do housework or take a walk. If something doesn't shake free on its own, the next best thing is for me to talk it out with someone else. The block almost always magically dissolves when exposed to the light of day! Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books? My third book, a contemporary romance called "All the Way Home", has recently been contracted by Cerridwen Press. Here's the blurb: Maggie and Sam grew up in the same town, knew each other in school, admired each other from afar, but never dated. She was just a little too straight and narrow for this bad boy. Now they're all grown up and back in their hometown - she to deal with a family crisis, he to prove that he's changed his ways. Neither can deny their attraction but they're still at odds. She's down on family life - can he be the one to convince her to settle down? This story started to form in my mind after a return visit to Ohio in June. I had really enjoyed living there and it was nice to see it again. I started thinking of what it would be like to go back to your hometown after a long absence. How would it be to see all the people you'd known before? And what would happen if you ran into your old high school crush - and he was still a hunk and still available? It's a story about reclaiming lost opportunities. Please tell us what you have planned next? I have two projects in mind at the moment. One is a follow-up novel to my current release One Crazy Summer, about Summer's younger sister Skye. I am also currently working on a women's fiction story about a woman who has spent a decade making herself into the perfect wife - only to get dumped. The story is about how she rediscovers her own identity and in the process finds that her divorce isn't the end, it's a new beginning. What do you do for inspiration? My mind works in unpredictable ways. Different things grab me and set ideas in motion and I never try too hard to figure out why! Sometimes it's an interesting face I see in the crowd. Sometimes it's a song lyric. Sometimes it's an anecdote someone tells me. You have to be careful what you tell a writer because we store it all away for later use. What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process? People always say "write what you know" and in general I've tended to do that. What I do for research depends on what I need to find out. For "One Crazy Summer" I spent some time at the library looking at guide books and travel pamphlets for Mexico. It was actually quite interesting - I learned at lot about Cozumel and it's definitely on my list of places I want to see in person one day. These days I do the majority of my research on the internet. Sometimes I enjoy the research process too much! It's easy to keep surfing the net looking at site after site. When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step. I started writing ten years ago. I was completely alone - I did not belong to any writer's groups and this was before the internet as we know it today existed. I worked on my book on and off for about a year before I submitted a proposal to Harlequin. They requested the full manuscript. I sent it in and they sent me a letter suggesting some changes. I made the changes and sent it back. In the end Harlequin rejected the manuscript but I took the fact that they had taken the time to have a personal exchange with me as an encouraging sign and kept writing. I've looked at that manuscript since and am pretty happy that it was rejected! Obviously I wasn't discouraged though. I set writing aside for years at a time when other things - like babies! - took priority. About two years ago, a friend of mine who I had told about my writing started to encourage me to try again and suggested Cerridwen Press to me. I decided to go ahead and submit. Imagine my delight when they offered me a contract. Do you outline your books or just start writing? My ideas come to me in broad strokes. A character will pop into my head and I'll get a general sense about what the story is and the big turning points in the plot. The finer details present themselves as I go along. I don't meticulously outline but I do jot down a few notes of things, particularly little details that I like and am likely to forget! Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you? A good critique group can be invaluable as a sounding board for a writer. It's all too easy to fall in love with your own characters and story and not see the flaws in the writing or the plot that are all to obvious to more objective eyes! The key to a critique group is finding writers who mesh well together in style - that they understand the particular genre that you are writing and respect your individual writing style. I have belonged to critique groups in the past and have appreciated the support I have gotten from the other members. At present I have a more casual one-on-one exchange with another author. What was your first published work and when was it published? My first book was Here to Stay, which was published in January 2007 by Cerridwen Press. It is a romantic suspense and I was thrilled by the good reviews it earned. Here's the blurb: All Julia Sullivan wanted was a fresh start in a new place. But she was finding out that cutting ties with the past and starting over can be a difficult thing to do. After leaving her husband and quitting her job, Julia was emotionally spent. She needed a quiet place to recharge and to think about what she wanted from life. She thought she had found just that when she inherited her aunt's ocean front Victorian house in Haven, New Jersey. It wasn't going to be that simple, however. In addition to her new house being a complete shambles, her charming soon-to-be ex-husband Patrick, who she discovers she still loves, arrives with the intention of winning her back. To complicate matters further, it seems as if her aunt's death wasn't an accident after all. And there's just something about her new house that everyone seems to have an interest in. What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group? Readers can always reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org My website has information about my books and how to purchase them www.jenyfermatthews.com My blog has news about my writing, random tidbits about my life in Egypt, and my adventures in motherhood http://jenyfermatthews.blogspot.com I also have a MySpace page if you'd like be my friend www.myspace.com/jenyfermatthews If that isn't enough, I also haunt several Yahoo Groups including CerridwenChat, eBookLove, and RomanceJunkies
Thank you for this opportunity!