Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the talented author, Jordyn Spencer, creator of the action and adventure novel, Whispers of War. Jordyn has selected the self-publishing path and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the pros and cons of taking that particular route.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a Pittsburgh native, but spent my later years living in South Jersey. Growing up, I had a love for music and learning. I surrounded myself with musical opportunities by joining marching band, jazz band, chorus, and learning multiple instruments. I also had a fondness for science, having learned much from my grandfather, who was a chemist. I found my love for writing a few years after high school. I love creating worlds and characters of my own.
I’ve always had a deep respect for the military. As a child, my brother and I would pretend we were soldiers. I was also inspired by my grandfather’s service in the Navy during World War II. My admiration for soldiers followed me throughout my life, as I read testimonials about their experiences, read up on historical events, and even visited battlegrounds with my family during the summer. I have always been moved by their courage and sacrifice.
I am a mother to a wonderful, funny, and inspiring son, who constantly motivates me. I have recently gotten engaged to my fiancé of two years, who encouraged me to follow my dreams and finally publish my book. My first book is dedicated to the both of them.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
When I am not writing, I enjoy relaxing with a good book. It’s important to keep reading to help your writing evolve. I also love anything that I can do with my family. We go for hikes, play video games, bake cookies together, and so much more.
3. Do you have a day job as well?
For a few years, I have worked as a marching band instructor, teaching visual and music, while doing freelance writing.
4. When did you first start writing and when did you complete your first book?
I came up with the idea for Whispers of War in 2014, but was working on other projects at the time. I didn’t start writing it until November 2015. I completed the first draft of the book by the end of the month, but spent the next three years editing and re-editing. I was initially scared to publish, which held my release back, but finally decided I was ready to share my book with the world.
5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I’ve written short stories in many different genres and still do. My story guided my decision on genre. As much as I enjoy writing action and adventure stories, if I ever come up with a story outside my genre that I really want to tell, I wouldn’t shy away from writing it.
The ideas for my stories come from a variety of places. Some are rooted in dreams, others are inspired by observations, while most come from random thoughts. Music is another big influence in my writing. Every project starts from one small thought and grows from there.
6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I think all writers do at some point. When I hit the wall, I will listen to music. Other times I will take a day and work on another project. When I’m not even looking for it, I find the answer to overcome my writer’s block.
7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I usually work with an outline. For me, it helps connect major plot points and avoid inconsistencies. It’s easier to make changes to the plot during the outline phase than having to comb through page after page to correct something that isn’t working.
8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I don’t think I can credit one particular author or book for influencing my writing. I like so many different genres and love books that are willing to cross over genre lines. I wanted to be that kind of writer because it was what I enjoyed reading. With that being said, I was incredibly moved by Laurie Halse Anderson’s book, Speak. It touched on a hard topic and showcased how trauma can profoundly impact someone’s life. It is a book I have read many times and has always lingered in my mind.
9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I explored the traditional publishing route, but ultimately my first book was self-published. The biggest challenge I faced was overcoming my own fears with publishing. I felt vulnerable putting my work out there for people to read. Suddenly, your work is on display for all to see and critique and judge. You love your book, but someone else may despise it and ridicule it. Even with the backing of friends, family, and potential publishers, I was still afraid to share it and face reader reactions. I was finally able to overcome my fears and publish the book. I know that not everyone will like it, but there will also be readers who will love it. You shouldn’t deny those people your story.
10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would have published it sooner. By delaying the publication, I became obsessed with making it absolutely perfect. I read the entire book over 14 times and individual sections even more. If I could go back, I would have more confidence in my writing to publish it sooner.
11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Most of my marketing has been done through social media. I occasionally run ads on Facebook or promotions via Twitter. Social media is a great way to reach potential readers, especially when you target the ads. My website is a wonderful tool as well. It allows me to showcase my writing skills to readers. They love when you offer free material, whether it is blog postings, short stories, or journal entries. Readers are more inclined to pay for your books if they are familiar with your writing. It’s less of a risk for them.
12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No. However, I do have projects that I wish I had more time to do that I want to get published.
13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
In June, I published my first book in The Shadow Team Chronicles, Whispers of War. The series follows Army Sergeant Kara Olson and her team as they face constant battles. Whispers of War focuses on Kara joining her new team. Being the only woman on the team, she faces issues acclimating to her new position, as well as the struggles brought about war, and her past.
14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Most of the book is my own original concept, but small portions are inspired by real experiences. In all my characters, I layered in some aspects of my personality. In terms of events in the novel, some are based on real life, although they are embellished a little!
15. What project are you working on now?
Right now, I am working on book two in The Shadow Team Chronicles. I’ve almost completed the first draft.
16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I’m hoping to release book two in The Shadow Team Chronicles series sometime next year, as well as a collection of short stories about the experiences of the other members of Shadow Team.
17. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I’d like to expand the backstories of the other team members, particularly Fox, Hunter, and Trey. I wanted to include more of their stories in Whispers of War, but things had to be cut for the main story. I hope to cover some of their backstories in the sequels or short stories. They have very interesting histories. There are also some characters from my short stories Making Another Peace and Non-Lethal that I would love to pull completely into The Shadow Team Chronicles Universe, like Dani, Aniyah, and Sergeant Martin. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a way to reintroduce them.
18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been your greatest compliment?
When someone asked me why I was not writing in the romance genre and why I was wasting my time writing a military novel, it was hard to hear. Military novels are primarily written by male authors or soldiers who served. It made me feel like I wouldn’t be taken seriously or even be able to compete with other authors. I extensively researched war, military service, and everything else I needed to make up for my perceived disadvantage. Like my character Kara, I was out to prove everyone wrong and ultimately used this criticism to write.
I’ve heard the same compliment from most people who have read my first book. They said they had trouble putting the book down. Former soldiers have read it and complimented me on how realistic the scenes are. Other readers have noted that the book is immersive and that they feel like they are right there in the battle. One reader finished the book in two days and is already excited for the sequel. It is great that people are enjoying the book so much.
19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t let fear of judgement keep you from writing or publishing your book. You have a story that needs to be told, whether others realize it or not. Don’t let them dictate what you need to say.
20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for reading. Without you, I never would have achieved my dreams. You are the ones who have motivated me to write and continue these stories. Please feel free to reach out to me. I love hearing from you!
Please join me in thanking Jordyn for her comprehensive answers and for sharing her experiences of the modern day publishing landscape. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Jordyn via the following links.
Please show your appreciation by checking out her work on Amazon:
Social media contacts:
Facebook Page- Jordyn Spencer
Previous publications and links:
Free short stories- https://www.jspencerbooks.com/stories-from-the-shadows-a-collecti