JAK thru time

I recovered from the flu and was able to attend the dinner party with Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick & Jane Castle) and 23 of my writing friends. Then we crossed the mall parking lot for her book signing event at Powell’s Books.

Renee - Jane - Marti

Renee and Marti are awesome booksellers and love promoting local authors! So when they host an event, our writers groups shows up. 😀

I met Jayne at the RWA conference in Reno in 2005.  We chatted for almost half an hour while both waiting in a quiet lobby for the next session of workshops. I had recently returned to romancelandia and Jayne is one of the queens in the industry. She also promotes her reputation as an authority on killing and rebuilding your career.

As one of the keynote speakers Jayne revealed she still gets rejected by editors, which she prefers to having readers refuse to buy her books because they were too different than previous ones. That’s how she killed her career more than once and even changing her name didn’t help. However, as history has proved, her previous names and books have found new markets and avid fans who are happy to read all her names.

Since Jayne is a writer, her talks at reader signings are about being a writer. I’ve recapped:

Jayne’s 5 Tips to becoming a better writer:

1. Recognize your own writing voice.  Chose your genre to fit your voice, and it is usually what you love to read. Be aware that you are writing to a specific genre/audience.

2. Know your own core story. The themes remain the same  independent of the fictional landscape. Themes with heroic flavors, like courage and relationships, are more important than character archetypes or time frames. One of her rejected novels was a futuristic on a different planet. But since it was a marriage of convenience story she shifted everything but the setting into a historical saga, that’s how “Amanda Quick” was born.

3. Know your market. Always consider how the reader finds your books. Write to the audience. Bad cops and snarky P.I.’s are okay for an audience in the USA but are not welcome in England.

4. The book proposal must include the genre and read like a back cover blurb. The industry has changed and authors have more options than banging on the gates around the agencies and publishing houses. But a book is still about connection with an audience and if you can’t explain your story, why would a reader care to open the page?

5. The most important advice for aspiring writers: Join a good writers group and become an active participant in writer organizations as it is a business.

Unfortunately, Jayne could only shrug to the question, “How do you get inspired with new story ideas?” Ideas are just there for her.

She writes from 6am until noon everyday and is vocal about it being exhausting work. She always feels the book she just sent off to her editor as being the worst one she’s ever written, this seems to be common among authors but she explained why,

“It’s because we’ve been through the book so many times, in so many ways, for so many months, that it’s not fresh and new to us. But we have to trust that initial excitement for the story we had during the first writing.”

Since I had personal chatting time Jayne when I first returned to romancelandia and now again on my second return… I see this as a good sign. She’s a marker in time, like bookends, for my aspirations to be a romance novelist. She’s excited regarding the changes in the industry since 2005 and the opportunities for authors.

Strangely enough, I found Jayne’s Arcane Series at the library and have stopped searching out other authors and continue to read through the series. I even drafted a blog post and thought I saved it. But a search on her name through my blog and my documents only revealed one mention.

On 2/18/11, I answered the following workshop exercise question:  Name three authors living or dead you would want to have dinner with: Only three?

Jayne Ann Krentz was #1. 😀