Jen Doyle is here today! Her latest book, Holiday House Call, just released on 10/23/17! Congrats on the release, Jen!
Tell us about you! Can you share some interesting tidbits we may not know?
I’m a preschool administrator by day, romance author by night, although I’m a librarian by training. I got my start writing in the fan fiction world and wrote in the Buffyverse for 10 years before writing what would become my first book. I’m a bit of a TV addict, I read three to four books per week (mostly romance but with some mysteries to fill it in), and love being around my family and friends (although I sometimes don’t want to talk to anyone). I’m also happy to say that I come from a long line of women who don’t sleep very much; otherwise I’d be in very bad shape, LOL.
What inspired you to start writing?
I can actually almost pinpoint the time I started writing to the minute. I never thought of myself as a writer. I was a history major, so I wrote a lot for college, but no fiction. I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it started syndication in September 2001. I’d gotten really caught up in it, so although I wasn’t watching the season that was airing live at that point, I did want to tune in for the musical episode they did on 11/6/01. About three-quarters of the way through, I realized one of my favorite characters wasn’t going to make an appearance.
That night, I went out into cyberspace to find out what had happened to him. And, well, I wasn’t pleased by what I found out. That was *not* the character arc I’d expected. Then the next night I stumbled upon fan fiction, which I’d never really heard of before that, and all these stories that wrote an alternative path. After spending the next few nights reading everything I could get my hands on of my particular ‘ship, I decided that I *still* wasn’t happy with any of those endings so, well, I put pen to paper (or, to be more specific, fingers to keyboard), and began to write it myself.
Ten years–and over 1 million words later–a friend of mine told me that I had written the equivalent of 10 books. I’d never really thought of it that way and it stunned me. But she also told me that she thought I should try and get published. It took me another two years to figure out how to go about that, but here I am, sixteen years later with three books and (soon-to-be) four novellas to my name.
Other than writing, what are some of your passions in life?
I love being with my family–everyone from my husband and kids, my siblings and parents, my aunts, uncles, cousins, you name it. Plus we’re the kind of family that adopts everyone’s friends and just brings them along. Honestly, if I could just hang out with all these people all day and watch movies and TV while reading books, I’d be happy.
And they’re definitely inspirational–hints of my friends and family show up in all of my books.
What was your debut novel, and how has your writing process changed since your debut?
Calling It, my debut book, was published in April 2016. It was written over the course of a year and involved a HUGE amount of feedback, from contest judges, to my agent (once I got signed), to feedback from an editor who was very generous with their time, and then to my actual editor once I was contracted. For someone who had never written with a deadline before, it was a false sense of time. 🙂
For every book/novella since, I was either contracted or part of a group launch so I couldn’t control the deadline. And, oh, how that was different from what I was used to! I compare writing the second book to running a marathon without any training other than a 5K. I had no idea what it was like to just have to produce words every day. I managed, but it was physically painful. With my second book I ended up rewriting it three times in six weeks–that included a four-day stint locked away in a hotel room because I couldn’t manage anything other than that.
I’ve come to realize that it truly is like exercising muscles every day. It’s important to keep writing even when it’s pure crap. 🙂 Because how else can you edit it into something good if you don’t at least have words on the page to play with? So I’d say the biggest change for me is having a much more realistic idea of what it takes for me to produce a book or novella. I wouldn’t say that I’ve actually managed to write regularly enough that I’m not panicking by deadline time, LOL, but at least I have a better sense of what I need to do.
What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process and why?
My favorite part is the editing. Once I have the first draft down, I have a better sense of the story. (I’m not someone who plots things out ahead of time. I find myself constantly surprised by where the characters take me.) It’s only then that I can go to town editing, and I absolutely love taking a hard copy of my manuscript, a red pen, and a huge Diet Coke, and tearing the whole thing apart.
What is your most challenging part of the writing/publishing process and what do you do to make it easier?
I find writing first drafts to be brutal. I’ve finally realized that if I dictate a story to myself and then transcribe it, I can slog my way through that first draft so I can get to the editing, which I find so much easier. But hands down, that’s the worst part for me.
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you find balance?
Ugh. This is one of the hardest things for me. I do have a fairly demanding full-time day job along with three kids ranging from 7 – 17. We also tend to go away most weekends so there’s not a lot of free time. I’m on deadline right now and I’m finding that if I can drop my youngest off at school on time, I can squeeze about 45 minutes in my car to dictate a scene. And then I either grab my lunch hour or the hour in between when I need to leave work and when everyone gets home in order to dictate another scene. (If you’re in Boston and you see a lady talking to herself in a McDonald’s parking lot, it’s very possible that that’s me. 🙂 )
The hours between 6 and 10 p.m. are unpredictable, because of dinner and bedtime, so it’s not really until 10 or 10:30 that I can come back to do my transcribing and editing of the scenes I dictated during the day. I also try to fit in my Facebook and email time at that point, which can definitely be a challenge. And, then, of course, I need to end my day by winding down with reading. So, well, please see above re being grateful that I don’t need much sleep, LOL.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Actually, I’m really glad that I never aspired to a career of a writer because once I had one, there were no expectations to meet. And, I can happily say, that a lot of what I love about my writing career now is what I loved about my years in fan fiction–namely the interaction and engagement with fans and other readers. (Because let’s face it, we’re all readers, right?)
I will say that I never quite realized how much time all of that extra stuff would take, but since I do love hanging out online, my only issue is trying to fit it in.
What do you love about writing romance?
Where else can you experience the headiness of that first kiss over and over again? The emotion of falling in love. Knowing that no mater what obstacles there are to overcome, my hero and heroine will get their happy ever after in the end. Getting into my characters’ heads is absolutely one of the biggest perks to this whole romance writing gig.
What kinds of things do you find romantic in real life?
I think for me it’s more about those little moments. I love to watch couples interact–the looks that pass between them, the casual touches. I wonder what their story is, how they came to be, what barriers stood in their way and what brought them to where they are now.
Do you read your book reviews? If so, how do they affect your writing (if at all)?
I do! Well, most of them, LOL. It depends on where I am mentally at the moment. 🙂
I think this is actually one of those carry-overs for me from my fanfiction days. I wrote a very unpopular ‘ship in a very popular fandom, so I got *very* used to being flamed. Although it’s hard to read reviews that pan your book, I’ve also been blessed with enough wonderful feedback to be able to know that there are readers out there whose world I make better…and readers out there who will never give me the time of day. I would absolutely love to be the author that everyone loves, but since I know that simply isn’t possible, I try to just focus on writing the stories I want to read, and creating characters who I would love to hang out with. As long as I keep my focus there, I’m okay.
What is the craziest, funniest, or most surprising thing that has happened to you since publishing your first book?
I think the most unexpected thing has been finding my people. I’m, well, older than I’d like to admit and I came to the romance genre–both as a reader and as a writer–pretty late in life. But over the course of the last seven years I’ve not only met some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known, but I’ve also found out how much I have in common with women I’ve known my whole life, yet never knew about this whole other side of them. From my writers’ group to my readers’ group–and everywhere in between–it’s been beyond what I could have dreamed.
My most recent release is called Holiday House Call (publication date, 10/23/17). This was one of my most personal books as it was inspired by an experience my family went through during this last year and part of the proceeds from the first two weeks of sales will go to a brain cancer research fund as a result.
The heroine is a neurosurgeon who is dedicated to her patients but who has very little life outside of her job, largely due to self-protection both because of what she sees every day and because of losing her father at a young age. The hero is a small-town police officer who also happens to be the one-night stand she’d had years before–and who she still thinks about, right up until the day he pulls her over on the side of the road, surprising them both.
He loves his job, he loves his town, and he loves the people who have become his family. She can’t imagine getting close to anyone, much less someone who is so immersed in a community like that. Bringing the two of them together made me happy in all sorts of ways. 🙂
Is there any other news you would like to share?
This is a busy fall for me! In addition to Holiday House Call, I have another novella–Blush–coming out in November. Blush is the third in my Hansons of St. Helena series, which is part of Marina Adair’s St. Helena Vineyard Kindle World.
I am also BEYOND thrilled that Calling It, my first book, will be coming out in print in December. All my books so far have been ebooks, and although I do like seeing them pop up on my Kindle, the idea of holding a paperback in my hand that has my name on it is just amazing.
And as for the rest of it, I’m currently working on a spin-off series to the Calling It books. No release dates as of yet, but I’ll certainly keep people posted!
Also by Jen Doyle
Five Facts Just for Fun!
1. What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
Barenaked Ladies — One Week
2. What was the last gift you gave someone?
My husband and I brought candy back for the kids from our trip to Chatham, MA (on Cape Cod).
3. What were you like as a kid?
Always had my nose in a book. I should have known!
4. What was the last thing you binge-watched & what did you think of it?
Strike Back. It was a VERY odd thing to have it shift from a BBC show to Cinemax between seasons 1 and 2, but, well, Sullivan Stapleton and Phillip Winchester helped soften the blow. It was one of the few things I’ve ever binge-watched (I’m usually the one trying to catch up on the DVR) and it was total TV crack for me.
5. What is the one thing (other than your loved ones) that you cannot live without?
My laptop. I feel aimless without it.
HOLIDAY HOUSE CALL
Dr. Karen Carmichael prides herself on being capable, optimistic and always in control. But even neurosurgeons have breaking points, especially as the holidays approach. When Karen finds herself on the side of the road, explaining to a cop that her less-than-stellar driving was due to stress and tears rather than too much booze, it’s humiliating. When that cop turns out to be a one-night stand from her past, it’s icing on the bad-day cake.
Officer John “Tuck” Tucker didn’t expect to see Karen again after their night together. The circumstances may not be ideal, but convincing this beautiful, stubborn woman to get to know him with his clothes on is more fun than he could have imagined.
Karen swore she’d never fall for someone who risks his life for his job. She sees enough heartbreak at work without inviting it into her personal life, and she has no interest in becoming involved in the small town Tuck calls home. But despite valiant efforts to keep her walls up, her affection for Tuck is growing into something much stronger. With a life built around work alone looking less appealing by the day, Karen will have to take a leap of faith—and trust that Tuck will leap with her.