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Ask the Author: Jennifer S. Brown

“Ask me a question.” Jennifer S. Brown

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Jennifer S. Brown Yes! I create playlists related to what I'm working on--either music from the years I'm writing or songs that I think relate to the mindset of my characters. I often listen, especially if I'm writing in a cafe. I don't always listen, but sometimes it helps put me in the right frame of mind.
Jennifer S. Brown A few places! I have a nice little set-up at home, a desk in the quiet part of the house overlooking a beautiful tree in our front yard. I write there in summer. In the winter, I tend to sit in front of the fireplace in a cozy chair to write. And in all seasons, I have a favorite cafe, where twice a week you can find me typing away at the communal table (in fact, I'm answering that question from that table right now!).
Jennifer S. Brown Thank you so much, Karen! Modern Girls is my first (published) novel, so alas, there are no other books (yet!) to check out. I'm currently working on another historical fiction that is *not* a sequel, however that doesn't mean I won't come back to Dottie and Rose one of these days. Don't tell anyone (shhh!) but I might have started jotting some ideas down. :-)
Jennifer S. Brown Ah, querying. One of the most painful things known to personkind. Seriously, writing a novel is easy compared to trying to summarize everything wonderful about your book in a two-paragraph query. I wrote a blog post on The Debutante Ball a number of years ago about my own querying process: Finding an Agent the Old Fashioned Way. I also highly recommend Janet Reid's blog. Janet is an agent with lots to say about the querying process.

As far as what I wish I'd known ahead of time? I think that publishing is not the be-all end-all I had thought it might be. While there is an amazing high to seeing my book in print, it doesn't make writing the next book any easier. In fact, in some ways, it's harder because with the first book, I was writing only for myself. Now when I write, I know that others may actually read it. The best advice I was given, that I will pass on, is don't stop writing. When you're querying book one, be working on the next one. Don't wait. Keep the writing momentum going. And good luck!
Jennifer S. Brown I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I recently came across some rather maudlin poems I wrote in high school. I love going back and reading my old work, because in so many ways, it's more of a glimpse into my younger psyche than my sporadic diary entries. Hard to say what made me start writing; I suppose I loved reading so much and I was always disappointed when a beloved book ended. By writing, I could live in another world of my own creation, and it takes much longer to write a book than read a book, so I can disappear on weeks (for short stories) to years (for novels) on end!
Jennifer S. Brown Hi Bellsbubble! I've always been a writer, meaning since I was young, I've been writing. In elementary school, I had a couple of teachers who encouraged me, and I wrote some (very bad) short stories (think stories where the protagonist wakes up and says, "Oh! It was all a dream!").

But as I continued to read voraciously (the key, I think, for all writers!), my writing improved. As cliche as this is, Judy Blume was the first author I worshipped and wanted to emulate. As I aged, different authors have spoken to me at different times, based on where I was in life.

I don't think I ever knew I wanted to be an author; I only knew that I wanted to write. So I did. I hope you're thinking of writing yourself!
Jennifer S. Brown Thank you, Liz! I'm so happy you enjoyed Modern Girls.

I am hard at work on another book, but alas, I can't promise how soon it will be. One of the pleasures and pitfalls of historical fiction is the amount of research I have to do. Invariably I write to a point where I realize I need to learn yet more. So while I'm working diligently on the next book, it's still very much a work in progress. But I'm quite excited about the story and loving immersing myself in my new character's world!
Jennifer S. Brown Besides drinking bourbon? (Actually, I'm not supposed to say that. The drinking references worry my mom. I'm fine, Mom!)

I'm a former runner who now is a walker (knee issues. Boo!), which I rely on when I'm stuck on plot points. I find fresh air and movement gets the brain going and it's almost always while exercising that I've solved major novel problems. I've also recently discovered yoga, which is less for the brain and more for working out my sore shoulders after being hunched over the computer. I'm an avid amateur genealogist (which I also as research in my fiction and creative nonfiction) and I truly excel at wasting time on social media.

Oh, and I should probably mention caring for my kids, but as one's a tween and the other a teen, my main job for them these days is chauffeuring.

But most of my days I spend thinking about writing, avoiding writing, worrying about writing, and, every now and then, writing. :-)

Thanks for asking, Cynthia!!
Jennifer S. Brown How could I not like this question? Thank you so much, Laura!
Jennifer S. Brown Hi Laura, I am indeed. In fact, at this moment I'm sitting in my "office" (aka, the neighborhood cafe), and I'm taking a quick break from the revision I'm working on. It's slow going because it's incredibly research heavy, but I'm so excited about it that I'm spending all my time thinking about my new character--Jane--and her life in the early 1900s. It'll be a while, but I'm looking forward to when others can share her life too!
Jennifer S. Brown Hi Geri! I'm so thrilled you liked Rose and Dottie enough to want to know what happens next! I'm still mulling over possibilities--but in the meantime, I'm working on a different novel. I'll come back to Rose and Dottie once I'm certain I can give them a storyline worthy of them. :-) Thank you for your question!
Jennifer S. Brown Hi Marty! I'm still thinking about what happens next! I'm currently smack in the middle of a different story, but I'm sure I'll return to the characters in Modern Girls at some point, but I need to think about it for a good while.

I do agree with you on the cover of the book. However, I was excited by the cover because I thought the image was arresting, so if the clothes are a slightly later period? Well, I can live with that. :-)

Thank you so much for reading Modern Girls!
Jennifer S. Brown Hi Jon: I sympathize with you! As you are probably aware, book pricing is completely out of my control. However, I would like to make sure you know that you can read the beginning of the book on Amazon's "Look Inside the Book" feature to see if it would interest you. Then, if it does, many libraries around the country are carrying MODERN GIRLS (to my delight!). If you'd like to read it, I'd suggest seeing if your local library carries it. If they don't, many libraries are open to requests from patrons. Book pricing can seem crazy--I don't understand all the nuances--and I wish it were something I could do something about. But I hope you will find another way to read and enjoy the book.
Jennifer S. Brown I'm so thrilled you enjoyed it! The next novel I'm working on is not a sequel--it takes place a few years before Modern Girls--but I'm toying with ideas. A sequel is not in the plans at the moment... but it could be in the future. Thanks so much reading Modern Girls!
Jennifer S. Brown Hi Farawaydeb! So glad you enjoyed the excerpt. Yes, despite my unfortunately bland name, I was indeed raised in a/have a Jewish household, although a fairly secular one. While some of the traditions and Yiddish words were ones I knew well, I did need to do a lot of research, both traditionally (reading books) and more casually (simply asking people who were raised in Yiddish-speaking or more traditional households). The research, though, was enjoyable and it made writing that much more fun. I hope you enjoy the novel!

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