Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Born and raised in a small town in Michigan, Jennifer married her high school sweetheart. She got a job, which she left college for, and over the course of a few years, she had two beautiful sons.
In December 2019, Jennifer found herself staring down the big 3-0. Having accomplished so much and at the same time, so little, she looked at the life she had made and knew something was missing.
When picking up a pen and putting it to paper, after an almost ten-year hiatus, she quickly fell back in love with the world of writing.
She made a pact with herself to do better with self-care and putting as much effort into her own happiness that she had put into the happiness of others. Doing so gave her space and energy to create and soon share, the characters that had only existed in her mind.
As our world continues to fight the stigma around mental health issues, Jennifer’s book series, Versions of Me, gives a glimpse into the mind of Harper Jones. In book one, The Vice, Harper—a twenty-eight year old woman—is struggling to cope with her past. As the life she has been living starts to crumble around her, she finds herself fighting not only external battles, but internal ones as well. The battles that she faces drive her motivation behind everything she does. They drive her need to drink, her need to be loved—her need to be the woman she once was.
WTB - Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Jennifer R. Jensen - Writing energizes me! I will be writing and lose all track of time. If I am tired when I start, it is like I drank caffeine by the end of it. If I do have days where it feels exhausting, then I usually listen to my body and don’t write. I would rather take a break and not write at all, then to not be my best while writing.
WTB - Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Jennifer R. Jensen - I personally feel that a big ego hurts anything. You always need to be open to receiving feedback, and having a big ego may hinder ones ability to see the opportunities that lie in their writing. While everyone has their own voice and technique, it is important to at least be open to the notes of others.
WTB - Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Jennifer R. Jensen - Yes, but only because there is another writer with my same name, so I thought about using my maiden name, or initials, but all of them were taken too. So, I just added my middle initial into my name.
WTB - Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Jennifer R. Jensen - I strive to be original which is why I could see never being seen or wanted by regular publishing houses. I would rather put out my content how I see it and what comes natural to the characters in my head, than to do something because it is popular/ trendy. (Not that there is anything wrong with the ones who do—I get it). I just can’t see myself doing anything based on public opinion, I have never been one to go with the group. It is why I am planning on finishing up the fourth book in my series before the third one is released. I don’t want to have outside influences impacting the ending.
WTB - What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Jennifer R. Jensen - I have a few author friends, the main one that I talk to almost daily now is Kaithlin Shepherd. She has been helping me with the ways of self-publishing which is incredible (because it is so much work), but I also read her books (she is so talented). I want to do all I can to support other indie authors, she just makes it easy to support because her books keep me hooked.
WTB - Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Jennifer R. Jensen - As of right now I have written 4 1/2 books. The first 4 are in a series, and the 1/2 is going to be a stand alone. I have other things I plan to do with my books, but as I write more, the main connection I want to have is that there is a lessen, insight, or something that stems a conversation with others after reading it. I want people to be able to see things from a different perspective, or if people can relate, I want them to feel seen and heard.
WTB - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Jennifer R. Jensen - Oh my gosh! So many things! Get on all social medias and learn them (don’t resist the urge to learn). I would tell myself to pay attention in English class. And mainly I would say to not stop. Even if I just wrote quotes, or poems, or lyrics like I used to in Jr. High. I wish I wouldn’t have stepped away from my creative side for song long. I missed the girl I had been, and I didn’t realize I had missed her until I found her again.
WTB - What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Jennifer R. Jensen - So far, I would say the best money I have spent is on my editor (Marla Taviano). Not just because I need a lot of editing (Because that is true as well), but because she has been so integral to my writing and my learning. She took the time to teach me and I am so incredibly thankful to have her in my life.
WTB - What does literary success look like to you?
Jennifer R. Jensen - I want my book to be in book clubs. I want people reading them and then discussing them with others and seeing how they felt about the content. I want people to feel the emotions in reading them that I felt while writing them. If I find out at any point that those things have happened, I will have made it.
WTB - What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Jennifer R. Jensen - I do all types of research (mainly on google) and it varies from book to book. My fourth book has been much harder and more intense in my research, but I am getting some help from professionals in thought fields which has been so incredibly helpful. It is a very big deal to me that my books be as accurate as possible. Even though its fiction, I find it important to portray things as they would happen in real life. I think it makes my stories more relatable and I love realistic things. As I said to the person helping me with the research, all I need to know is that it is possible. As long as it possible for that to happen, I’m all in.
WTB - What did you edit out of this book?”
Jennifer R. Jensen - Oh my gosh. Everything. I think the only thing that is the same from the original are the characters names (I am only half-kidding). I know I would cringe if I were to read any of my early drafts now. (Book 2 had quite a few rewrites, book 3 only a few, and book four hardly any). But I think that also has to do with getting to know your characters and knowing what you want to do. I had zero direction when I started book 1.
WTB - Does your family support your career as a writer?
Jennifer R. Jensen - I have the best and most supportive family. My husband has been incredibly supportive in making sure I have the time and space to work on my books. We have two kids and both have full time jobs outside of the house, so our schedules get kind of crazy. But my family and his help out a lot, and I am just so incredibly lucky to have them all.
WTB - How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Jennifer R. Jensen - It depends on what you consider writing the book. To write each one of my books (first draft) it was around a month or a little over for each. But then you have many rewrites of scenes/chapters, then editing, then beta readers, then rewrites, the editing, then possibly done. It’s a process, but it’s a necessary one.
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