Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sleuthing Women Authors: Meet Jenna St. James

Hello Black Words-White Pages fans and thank you for stopping by!! Ready to meet another Sleuthing Woman Author? Today we are featuring Jenna St. James!! Click on her name to follow her on Facebook!! 

Now to get on with the interview!!

Jenna St. James

What is the first book that made you cry?
Toss up between Are You My Mother and Years by LaVyrle Spencer.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Energizes me.

What is your writing Kryptonite?
Housework…all housework.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Don’t think so.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
My other author friends help me because a lot of times we will talk mechanics/grammar in a story. I have other author friends that can zip around on a computer and come up with great promotionals or selling incentives and they are willing to share ideas. Writing style is a big one for me. I have a couple “acquaintances/authors” whose writing style I love.

My other author friends help me be a better reader because I like to read their books. Ha!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I just asked my step-daughter this question. She said, “Butterfly,” and then laughed and laughed. I asked her why she was laughing and she said, “Because I just watched a YouTube video about a pretty butterfly who was all loving and telling people he loved them and then suddenly, he starts to kill them. That’s so totally you, Jen.” Hmm….

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
A huge thanks for giving me creative ideas.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? One…and I’m currently writing on it.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Yes…I also view it as therapeutic.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Figuring out what they are thinking and how they’d say it. Sometimes I cheat and ask James for help.

How many hours a day do you write?
I recently had a house fire and lost everything. Before my house burned, I had a schedule of 6-8 (after work) and then 1-6 (in the morning hours). But now things are different. I’d say I only write about three hours a day right now until things get settled.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Not that I’m aware of…but I have a bad memory, so maybe I’ve just forgotten. Ha!

How do you select the names of your characters?
Sometimes based on their character traits…sometimes based on their real names and I just tweak them a little (with real-life person’s permission). My friend Whitney Howk has shown up in both series I write.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I could always go back to court reporting or teaching. But if I could start over and do anything…I’d open a bookstore/bar/bakery with my sister.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I can’t help it. Bad reviews hurt, and I plan that person’s demise in my next book (KIDDING!)…but it does hurt. The good ones I love, of course!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
If you know me, you know that a lot of the insane things my characters get into are actually real-life mishaps I’ve done…just embellished with a lot of creative writing. Sometimes I’ll write silly conversations I’ve had with friends in my books.

What was your hardest scene to write?
In Picture Perfect Murder, Miss Molly (cat) accidentally gets poisoned (don’t worry, she’s okay)…but I drew on my memories of when my own cat, Savage Beast, was hooked up to IVs and on a gurney/table when he was dying from renal failure. Very tough to write.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer? Paying taxes…eating liver and onions? OHH, you mean it has to hurt to give up? LOL. Time. I’d give up more quality time to be a better writer.  

What is your favorite childhood book?
Tie: Shel Silverstein’s poetry and the Hardy Boys books.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Starting a book…the first couple chapters. I personally feel my middle and endings are better.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Usually a couple of months.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
LaVyrle Spencer, Sandra Hill, Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey, Jim Butcher, Jana DeLeon, J.D.Robb/Nora Roberts, and Janet Evanovich.

Who are some authors in your genre that inspire you?
Janet Evanovich, Jana DeLeon, Leighann Dobbs, and Summer Prescott.

What are some great books you’ve read recently?
Murder is a Dirty Business, Nocturne Falls series by Kristen Painter (on audio), Love at Stake series by Kerrelyn Sparks.  

What types of books do you enjoy in your downtime?
Romance, paranormal, and cozy.

What sort of research did you do to write this book?
I love research, so I honestly do a ton of research on everything from jobs the characters may have, to weapons or chemicals to use to kill people. Sometimes I will ask professionals (chemistry teachers, local policemen) questions I may have. One perk to being a teacher…I am surrounded by proofers/editors, history buffs, chemistry experts, and I always had an officer on campus willing to help.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Honest…the first book (Picture Perfect Murder) was all therapy writing. I’d just left full-time ministry after twelve years, a teaching job I loved, and was getting a divorce. I was angry and bitter. So I started to write. You can kind of tell the difference in the tone from the first book to the other seven in the Ryli Sinclair series. I was a lot happier and in a better place later on. LOL. The idea for Sullivan Sisters came from wanting to honor my grandfather, a WWII veteran. He’d just passed away and it was my way of coping and remembering all the great things about him.

What does a typical workday look like for you?
I’m not exactly sure right now! LOL. I JUST finished my last day at my full-time job in education. A few years ago I left the classroom and became a diagnostician—basically I gave IQ tests for my school district and I did special education paperwork. As of today, I am a full-time writer. So I’m not sure what my typical workday will look like! I have ideas…

What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
The elderly always have something to share and teach us, family is important, and respect/honor those who have served our country.

If your novel were being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?
Ryli Sinclair Series—Ryli: Emma Stone, Garrett: Mark Wahlberg, Aunt Shirley: Cloris Leachman. Sullivan Sisters Series—Jaycee: Amy Adams, Garrett: Chris Evans, Gramps: silver-haired Pierce Brosnan.

Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
Graphic Organizers are our friends! LOL. I’ve probably quoted that a thousand times during my career as a writing teacher. I plan it on paper first…then I transfer it onto both a calendar AND whiteboard.

What do you do in your free time when you aren’t writing?
Attend beer and wine tastings with James and friends, read/listen to audiobooks, catch up on housework, and plan elaborate, beautiful vacations I’ll never take.

Do you put yourself in your books/characters at all?
All the time…if you ask me about a crazy situation in one of my books, I can tell you when and how it happened in my life. LOL. Of course the book version has a little bit of creative writing added to it.  

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
Making it a family affair. My sister is artistic and she designs my book covers, and I love hearing my mom say how proud she is of me and how she always knew I’d be a writer.

Out of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite?
Series wise, I love Aunt Shirley and all she has to bring to the table, but I’m going with Sullivan Sisters because it is modeled after my real-life Gramps, a WW-II Veteran.

What are your top three favorite books of all time?
I’m going to cheat a little and do more than three. The Bible, Years & The Gamble by LaVyrle Spencer, and Are You My Mother & Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!


Hold on to your seats as hilarious and talented Cozy Mystery Author, Jenna St. James, takes you on the ride of your life! You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you may even scream during this rollicking romp through the town of Granville. This down to earth non-traditional Cozy is an absolute delight that pushes the boundaries of the genre in some daring ways that make it all the more enjoyable.

Ryli Sinclair had no idea that moonlighting as a Forensic Photographer for the Granville Police Department would put her directly in the path of a crazed killer. Determined to identify the murderer before she becomes the next victim, Ryli enlists the help of her best friend, Paige, and her elderly great-aunt, Shirley, a former private investigator. From the driver’s seat of Aunt Shirley’s coveted ’65 Falcon, Ryli and the girls are hot on the trail of the murderer…and hilarity ensues, as the ridiculously handsome chief of police, Garrett Kimble, throws stumbling blocks in their path at every turn.


Thank you so much, Jenna, for stopping by and letting us get to know you!! This has been a lot of fun!! To know more about this author and her books starting starting on June 12, 2018, join the Facebook group HERE!!! There will be takeovers and lots of fun things to come!!

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