Monday, December 6, 2010

Interview with Author Jennifer Shirk

Happy First Monday in December! What better way to ring in the holidays than to have the wonderful and talented author Jennifer Shirk here to dish on her writerly life. To make things merrier, she'll be giving away one of her books to a very lucky commenter. Trust me, her storytelling will draw a smile on your face. If you haven't already, check out her fun and informative blog Me, My Muse, and I. Rumor has it, she bakes wicked good cookies. Getting in the spirit? Let's get started!

1. When it comes to careers, backgrounds, and experience, romance writers are definitely an eclectic bunch. I think the variety adds richness to all the romance novels out there. You earned a degree in pharmacy before you became a published romance writer. Was there always a writer in you itching to come out? What was the catalyst, and was it difficult to embrace a new 'identity'?

Was there a writer itching for me to come out? Um...NO. In fact, when I told my mom I was going to write a book she looked at me strangely and said, “But you don’t like to write.” LOL

I guess like any writer, I first started out as a reader. I found myself mentally rewriting stories to the way I wanted as I was reading them. So I decided to put my pen where my head was and sit down and try my hand at writing my own. Luckily, there is an enormous amount of helpful information through the Internet.

2. We're definitely lucky to be writing with today's technology at our disposal. You have two books out, The Role of a Lifetime and Georgie On His Mind, each with a different publisher. What were you doing when you got the first Call? Was the second Call just as exciting?

My first call was actually an email. Not typical but still VERY exciting. When I got my second call from Avalon Books I had just come home from an exhausting day of teaching Vacation Bible School. There was a message on the answering machine from the editor asking me to call her back. I still haven’t erased the message. :) So yeah, the second call is JUST as exciting.

3. I had a grin on my face the entire time I read Georgie On His Mind. You have a gift for drawing out the humor from the psychology of human relationships, and yet you balance it well with all that wonderful conflict and character torture (insert evil romance writer grin). Your characters are very real and easy to relate to, and I think they make us laugh at ourselves (and at our friends and family...shhhh). If I started describing your voice as funny and sassy...what would you add to that?

Oh, thank you! My writing has been called funny but never “sassy” before. I love it! I’d definitely add quirky and dare I say…heartwarming.

4. If you had to do one of the following, what would it be? Karaoke, stand-up comedy, poetry recital, or kidlet story time at the library?

Easy peasy. Kidlet storytime at the library. I love anything to do with kids! Adding books to that mix is a bonus!

5. On a more serious note, do you tackle a synopsis before or after you've written your story? Any synopsis survival secrets, or a favorite synopsis writing resource?

Well, honestly it depends on the story. I wrote the synopsis of Georgie on His Mind when I was about halfway through writing it. With my most recent wip, I only have four chapters written and I cranked out a synopsis the other day. I sometimes need to see how a story will all play out on paper and if the flow makes sense or not before I proceed. Plus, I think it’s good practice for me to write a synopsis first in case I ever want to sell on proposal alone.

I don’t use any synopsis resources since I kind of have the hang of them by now. When you’re writing romance, the main thing is to clearly identify your heroine’s and hero’s GOAL, MOTIVATION and CONFLICT. So make sure what you have in the synopsis centers around those three things and how they change or are affected throughout the story. Anything else in the story doesn’t need to be mentioned unless it affects the G, M, or C. For example, I mentioned the subplot of Kendall and Brad in ONE sentence of my synopsis because it explained why Brad didn’t want his sister missing out on a special relationship like he had done and why he asked Walt to watch over her in the first place.

6. Great advice! You have an amazing blog, and you've amassed a loyal following. How do you manage your social networking with writing time and family life (we can all use tips :))?

Gee, I could use some tips myself! I used to blog 5 days a week. Then I joined Facebook and I went down to 3 days. Then I joined Twitter and went down to 2 days a week blogging. That seems to be the perfect number to balance being social and having a good amount of time to write and get things done around the house. I tend to blog or be on the social networks early in the morning and then whenever I’m taking a writing break or have a few spare minutes here and there. So far, that seems to work.

7. What's your quirkiest writing habit and favorite deadline-crunch-time snack?

I clean a lot for my writing breaks. I think it’s because I’m sitting for so long I need to get moving somehow—even if it’s lugging a vacuum around. LOL My favorite all time writing snack food is Tootsie Pops. They last a long time, have chocolate in the center and won’t leave a mess on my keyboard. :)

8. What's the one thing you did as a writer that you feel played a critical role in helping you achieve your goal of publication?

Joined a critique group. Without them and their knowledge I would still be clueless. They taught me what G, M and C was and why I needed to purchase extra large rubber bands. LOL

9. And finally, if you had the perfect Rx (prescription, for anyone raising a brow) for unpublished writers struggling towards their goal, what would it be (other than ones the DEA might object to, LOL)?

Read Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. Join a critique group, and the RWA and your local RWA chapter. Those four things will put you miles ahead of the pack.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Rula!

GIVEAWAY: As a bonus for your readers and since Christmas is around the corner, I’ll be giving away one of my books--either The Role of a Lifetime or Georgie on His Mind-- (winner’s choice) to some lucky commenter!
Contest Note: Leave a comment on here to be entered to win. Contest will end Wednesday, December 8th at 11:59 PM (EST). Winner will be announced Thursday, December 9th.

Good luck and happy reading!
Thanks for hanging out here today, Jennifer!
Check out Jennifer at:
Find Jennifer's books at:
Georgie On His Mind: ISBN 978-0803477827
The Role Of A Lifetime: ISBN 978-1605041599 (also available in e-book format)

Blurb: Georgie On His Mind
Georgie Mayer has no boyfriend and rarely goes out. In short, she needs a life. Since she's graduated college and returned back home, her brother's protectiveness has been in overdrive, and she hasn't been able to have any fun, never mind get a date.

So what's a poor particularly attractive girl to do in a situation like this? The only thing she can do: find him a woman!
He'll thank her for it in the end. That is, if his best friend Walt Somers would stop interfering with her plans. The handsome pharmacist has made no secret that he doesn't approve of what she's up to. Unfortunately, having Walt hanging around does strange things to her mind, and suddenly she can't help but take a healthy interest in him. But how can Georgie entertain thoughts of the two of them together when Walt still treats her like his best friend's little sister?


  1. Hi Jennifer, it is interesting to read about your journey. And the advice to aspiring writers is really awesome! Thanks for being here.

  2. okay weird story I was stalking you yesterday on the passionate critters website I did not know you had 2 books out, that is awesome!
    Great interview ladies and thanks for having Jen Rula.

  3. What a treat to get to know you a little better. Georgie on His Mind looks like a really good read. I'll have to add it to my Christmas List. Yes, Jennifer, there is a Santa Claus...

  4. Thanks so much, Rula! You're so sweet!

    And thanks for stalking me, Joanna. I think. LOL!!
    Hi, Adelle and Nas!

  5. Great interview, Jennifer. And I'm so jealous - you've obviously got the social networking thing sorted. You're an inspiration.

  6. I highly recommend Georgie On His Mind--a fun, flirty read with characters you'll love getting to know!

  7. Both of these reads sound great. Pick me!

    Nice interview as well. Visited your blog and had to laugh over the deadbeat cookie swap. How many times has that happened to me?! But a $200 pot now - yeah, go for it!

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Good morning everyone! Thanks for stopping by. Jennifer is amazing, isn't she?

    Jennifer, with all your juggling, I should have asked what kind of coffee you drink :)

    Georgie On His Mind makes a perfect present for just about anyone. Can't wait for your next book!

  9. Georgie is on my mind because it's Jennifer's latest...and it's green :), but if you haven't read The Role of a Lifetime, it's another must! And I just have to say that the models on the cover make me think of Jennifer Garner and Ben Afleck.

  10. What great questions, Rula! I have to do a lot of interviews for my paying gig, and I really enjoyed your questions.

    Jennifer, as always a pleasure.
    Ref: I still haven’t erased the message.

    I thought this was really cute and meaningful. The whole interview was fun!

  11. Thanks, ladies! You're so kind!

    Rula: I drink ANY coffee but Maxwell House unless it's at my sister-in-law's house. (Must be her water, because it tastes good when she makes it) LOL

    Maria: We were listening to messages last night and deleting and my hubby asked me if we should get rid of it and I said, "Um...not yet." LOL

  12. I Jennifer! Wonderful review. I don't think I'd erase that message off my answering machine either. How fun. Thanks for the writing-help book recommendation. I hadn't heard of that one yet.

  13. Rula-Great interview!

    Jennifer- I replay the phone conversation of my "call" all the time and if I had it on my answering machine, I'd NEVER erase it. I might even make multiple copies of it just in case in was lost in a fire. Congrats on your success, and wishing you mega-sales!

  14. Thanks Maria!

    Hi Linda! I wouldn't erase it either, but I'd be afraid that one of my kids would accidently do so.

  15. Fun seeing you on this blog with your great wisdom. And I agree, "Goal, Motivation, and Conflict - gotta have them, and it's a great book.

  16. If I don't win a copy, I'm going to have to buy one--of each!! I loved reading your responses here, Jennifer. You are such a lively person, I suspect your writing is just as lively!! I'm so happy for your publishing success. And thank you, Rula, for hosting her. I am now your follower also!!!
    Ann Best, Long Journey Home

  17. I loved learning more about you. I didn't itch to become a writer either, so it's good to know I'm not the only one.

  18. Fantastic interview, Jennifer. So great that you've still got your 'Call' on the machine. Hope there will be more added to it shortly!!

    Rula, love you site.

  19. Great interview, ladies! Jennifer, that's too funny how your mom responded to your wish to write a novel!

  20. I had no idea you had a secret obsession with tootsie pops! (Good to know!)

    Fun interview and I soooo hear you on finding a blogging balance that works for you, I'm still experimenting myself. :)

  21. Awesome interview! I'll take Georgie if random number smiles at me! :)

  22. Looks like a great book! I also belong to a writing critique group and they have helped in so much! I think it's important though to join a group with similar goals. Was in a group with hobby writers and it was not as good as the one with writers seriouly wanting to publish.

  23. Beware the curse of the tootsie pop! I, too, am a big fan. Unfortunately, like the owl (for those of us old enough to remember the tootsie pop commercial), I can not lick to the center and have the crowns to prove it.

  24. I want both. Would that qualify as readers choice? :P

    Great interview Jennifer. I love your keyboard snack. I still have a bag of Halloween candy I absconded from granddd's that I dig through and share with my 5 pounds (and growing) chihuahua. My other writer gimmick. She lays in my lap. Yay for you! I'm just so thrilled. Totally agree on the cp group and the writer's groups! I can't do it without them.

    Speaking for major edits before I submit my medical next week.

  25. What a fun interview! Jennifer, it's always fun to learn more about you. I've had Georgie On His Mind on my wishlist for awhile so I'd love to read it.

  26. Great interview! It was so fun getting to know you a little better.

  27. Awesome interview! You sound so organized! And I think your writing is sassy, too! The call for Georgie on his Mind sounds great. I can't wait till your next book comes along!

  28. Jen, you know I love you! Great interview. Your voice is so conversational and best-friend like. I feel like I could read your books forever. Please enter me to win! I want to get my hands on "Georgie On His Mind"!

  29. Thanks to all of you who have stopped in so far. I'm so glad that you've enjoyed the interview. I know that you'll looove Jennifer's books!

  30. Hey Jennifer! Always good to start a Monday with your "sassy" posts. I can't imagine you not writing with a bit of sass.

    Thanks for the synopsis tips. I'm working on one now.

  31. Fantastic interview Jennifer. Thanks for hosting Rula. New follower.

  32. Wow, I think I need to change my tagline to "Always SASSY, always feel-good romance" LOL!!

    Who new?

    Thanks to everyone who has stopped by. It's really nice to see so many friends here!

  33. I would have kept that message too! Nice interview and Georgie sounds like a fun read!

  34. I loved this interview! It's always funny to hear how an author never really liked to write, but then they end up with such wonderful books!

  35. Great interview, ladies! Jennifer, wonderful to learn more about you. It's so great to get insight into other writer's processes.

  36. Great interview! My favorite candy are Blow Pops because, like Tootsie Pops, they're two candies in one! And they don't make a mess - bonus!

  37. Great interview!

    I love that you haven't erased the message from Avalon yet.

    And I'm with you in reading aloud to kids... except I love to sing, too, so maybe I'd just sing karaoke to them. :)

  38. Interesting interview. I found this blog by way of Jennifer's blog, as I was working on getting caught up on my blog reading. She mentioned that she would be here, so I came right over to check it out.

  39. Thanks for stopping by everyone! Don't forget. A lucky winner will be announced tomorrow, so lurkers de-lurk and leave a comment :)

  40. Great to get to know you better, Jeniffer, and congrats on your successes! I have my emails with the word CONTRACT in them, and they're not going anywhere. Printed them out too! :0))