By: Kathie Scrimgeour
I was excited to learn that “Meet the Members” was going to kick off with Jenny Martin. She and I first met at PPWC 2016, and we hit it off. With her contagious smile and laugh-out-loud attitude I couldn’t help but look forward to seeing her again. In late April, we met for coffee at my now favorite coffee shop in Parker, Fika (the one in Canterberry in case you’re wondering). With cold sleet and rain outside we sat across from one another over hot drinks. The goal of our first get together was to read each other’s work in progress and share some feedback. It was here that she agreed to be the first member for us to meet.
|PPW Member Jenny Martin|
Through email exchanges I learned that Jenny joined PPW in January of 2016 and attended PPWC in 1999, 2000, and 2016. She has attended two Write Brains, and is a part of a critique group.
PPW: Have you submitted a complete manuscript yet? What were the results? What best advice, or lessons learned, have you gotten from them?
Jenny Martin: I have not yet submitted anything. Well, not to publishers. I have submitted a handful of first chapters to writing contests and received an honorable mention twice and second place once. Lesson learned was I’m not too far off base, so keep working. It inspired me in that it validated my writing style. It boosted my confidence and made me more determined that I would finish my stories and find a publisher.
PPW: What are you working on right now, and do you have a publication date set?
Jenny Martin: I have several things I am working on right now. I have two contemporary romance stories, a fiction story set in the Vietnam era, and a series of Civil War historical romance stories. I am focusing on the Civil War series right now. My goal right now is to finish the first in my Civil War series and move on to the second by the end of this year. As soon as I have two completed, and a start on the third, I plan to work on selling for publication.
PPW: What does success mean to you? Does it scare you or motivate you?
Jenny Martin: Success, to me, means finishing my novels. That is the first step. Then selling them. It will take the sales of several to make me feel really successful. Does it scare or motivate me? A little of both, actually. I just have to push past the scared part.
PPW: What do you do when procrastination is winning over writing?
Jenny Martin: I have several sources I use to get past the procrastination or writer’s block. I use 52 Ways to Get Unstuck, by Chris Mandeville, The Writer’s Brain Storming Kit, by Pam McCutcheon and Michael Waite, and a card game The Storymatic Classic, by Storymatic. They have all helped me find my way forward. They suggest turns to take with the story to add new dimensions and twists that are difficult to come up with on one’s own. They offer suggestions on how to develop richer characters and sometimes, just walking away and acting like one of the characters. Adding a swagger to your own step, testing facial expressions that the protagonist might use, or dancing like a princess. By imitating a character, the writer comes more in tune with them which can help with description, characterization, and scene development giving the whole story more depth and credibility.
PPW: Writing conferences, workshops, and critique groups are an important part of a new writer’s experience (and more experienced writers too!). How have they helped you?
Jenny Martin: I have attended several conferences with dozens of workshops that have helped me with plotting and characterization and numerous other ways. They are a great way to meet other writers and [achieve] new energy and motivation to keep going. I have attended a handful of workshops outside of the conferences and found them very useful for improving my overall writing. I have also found a critique group which has helped me immeasurably. The wonderful ladies of my group have helped me focus, helped me tighten my writing, they cheer me on and keep me motivated. They help me set goals and hold me accountable.
PPW: Does your reading influence your writing? How?
Jenny Martin: My reading does influence my writing. I read in my genre(s) every day. I find the aspects of the books I like and try to incorporate those qualities into my own writing. The deep POV for example, I find much more engaging than the more distant POVs, so I work to make my POV deeper. I find the aspects of the books that have left me feeling unfulfilled and try to determine what would have made the story better and apply the same principles to my own work.
PPW: If you met someone who was thinking about starting to write, what advice would you give them?
Jenny Martin: I would encourage them to try. I would also suggest writer’s guide books, writer’s groups, conferences, and a critique group to help them along the way. And persistence, patience, and focus are a must.
PPW: What is one (or a few) of the most important lessons you have learned in your writing career so far?
Jenny Martin: Life is always going to get in the way. A good writer finds a way to push past it and keep on writing. Feedback is crucial. Find someone or a group of people who will give you honest, constructive criticism to help you grow and evolve as a writer. Believe in yourself. Never give up.
Are you a member of Pikes Peak Writers? We would love to learn more about you and your writing experiences. Contact Kathie Scrimgeour at firstname.lastname@example.org