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About the Author Virginia Jennings lives in South Carolina with her husband, three kids, and two cats. She graduated from High School at 16 and was published by the time she turned 18. She is the author of two science fiction books and has plans in the works for two fantasy books as well. Her ideal evening is spent watching Star Trek or Eureka with her family over dinner. She enjoys playing putt putt and watching the latest sci-fi or action adventure movie. She does most of her best writing in the car as her characters prefer to talk to her while she is driving. Finding time to write down what they tell her- now that is where the real challenge is! When she is not hanging out with her family or writing she also runs the 'Where Writers And Authors Meet' writers group online at www.wherewritersandauthorsmeet.webs.com or www.facebook.com/groups/wherewritersandauthorsmeet BOOK TOUR LINK: http://bit.ly/ReuIQT Authors Website: www.virginiajennings.webs.com On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVirginiaJennings On Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/virginialorijennings On Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/authors/a2479890/Virginia-L-Jennings/On Amazon: http://amzn.to/RLoyH9
TR: Good morning, Virgina, and welcome!
VJ: Thanks Thomas…good morning.
TR: So, how old were you when you wrote your first piece?
VJ: Like every kid, I had plenty of writing exercises in school. But it was in 6th grade that I actually wrote my first short story just for the fun of it. I did not try to get it published but I did ask my teacher what she thought of it. I also developed issues with falling asleep in the evenings. To help myself fall asleep I started working on these stories in my head and because I was not concentrated on getting to sleep, I would just drift off. Later the story became so long and intricate that I decided to start writing down the sections I was sure about.
TR: You were off to an early start 🙂 What was it, and in what genre?
VJ: Exandra Missions (what would later be published as Visionary From The Stars) was the first novel I started writing down though it would later be published as my second book. Both of my books are Science Fiction. I had hit a block while writing Exandra Missions so I decided to switch over to another project, which would later be The Alien Mind.
TR: What made you write it?
VJ: When I was in, oh I think it was third or fourth grade, I decided that I wanted to become an astronaut. When I started homeschooling in 7th grade I decided to research what it would take to become an astronaut. It looked like either flight school or becoming a scientist who specializes in something that they would send into space, even then it was a long shot. So I took up writing science fiction. I could create new worlds to explore and imagine what it would be like to walk on a never before explored planet. Even though this helped, I still have the desire to travel among the stars Star Trek style. We have a long way to go, technologically, before we get there though.
TR: I’m a Trekkie, too, from waaaaaay back. What have you written since then?
VJ: Since both Visionary From The Stars and The Alien Mind were published I have been working on about three different projects. You can see pieces of these projects in the WIP sections of my blog on my website. All three of these projects are fantasy stories, I am predicting that either The Sword Of The White Knight or Defenders Of Madesteroc will be next in line for release. However, neither of them are in the “write down on paper” phase yet.
TR: Well, keep me posted when they’re coming out. What was the inspiration for your current book?
VJ: The Alien Mind was published back in 2005. It was inspired by a conglomeration of subjects I had been studying in my free time, and a few conversations I had with my father. Over all, I wanted to explore how humans would react if faced with proof that intelligent life does live on other planets as well as what the effects would be on a human had they grew up in such a vastly different environment.
However, when I got my rights back, My husband inspired me to rewrite it and really go all out this time. He and my kids are the inspiration behind all the pictures, the cover, and the over all formatting. They are what inspired me to take the book a step further. They served as a sounding board when I needed opinions on the decisions I was making while designing the book.
TR: Nice to have a family project…sounds like fun. Tell us a little about it, and where it’s available.
VJ: The Alien Mind is about a young girl who is kidnapped and by an alien species called the Aruk. She is later rescued by the Aunantet and raised in an alien family. The book follows her experiences as she is forced to take refuge on Earth as well as her trials as she is recaptured by the Aruk and is faced with the reality that the Aruk must be stopped before they enslave every planet.
TR: There’s something that youngsters will like…space travel and evil villians! Is there a particular place or setting where you get your writing ideas?
VJ: I get my ideas from pretty much everywhere, watching sci-fi. reading books, watching movies, going to museums, and even while I am driving in the car. Mostly though, it is any place I can find a few moments of silence. My ideas flow best when it is quiet.
TR: What made you choose either traditional or independent publishing?
VJ: AH! The million dollar question!
I had looked into traditional publishing but I lack the time to send out millions of queries and worry over submission guidelines. With independent publishing I have the power to control every aspect of my book. From what the cover looks like all the way down to how the text feels on the page. I knew that if I had submitted my work to someone else then they would put their own cover on it and design the inside the way they wanted it. It would feel like someone else created this work of art with my story inside. With independent publishing I could work until I felt proud of the complete package of my book. It now truly feels like I envisioned it should, it is something I created from front to back.
TR: Makes perfect sense to me. A true sense of ownership. If you had to choose the most important element in an author’s platform, what would it be?
VJ: That would have to be a blog. Second runner up would have to be a social networking site like Facebook, and I will explain why they go hand in hand. A blog enables you to show a potential reader your individual voice and method of story telling. A blog shows the reader what they can expect from you before they invest time and money into reading your book. Social networking comes into play after you have published your blog post. Without social networking it would be very hard to gain an audience to even read your blog. I would advise that anyone who is interested in writing start building a blog and then your social platform before getting their first work published.
TR: That’s great advice. What mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?
VJ: Whew! I have made plenty of mistakes! The key is to be constantly trying to find new ways to learn from your mistakes and do things a little better next time. My first mistake was not knowing how to get started. I had no blog, no social platform, no way to get the word out about my book. My second mistake was not fully understanding what the publisher will or will not do for my book, and how little control I would have even when things go south.
TR: Hopefully, aspiring authors will be reading this and learn from your trials. Do you have an idea for your next book?
VJ: I am thinking that Defenders of Madesteroc will be my next book, we shall see. Right now the idea for that one is a series about a bunch of kids who are dragged into a new world and must learn to use their own innate talents to save its inhabitants. I am aiming to show that everyone has a gift inside us and can do big things if only we take the time to nurture our gifts.
TR: Virginia, it was a true pleasure. Let me know when your next book comes out, and I’ll have you back. There you go, people. Some insight and some great tips on the nuts and bolts of indie writing. Stay tuned tomorrow, when I interview Kirsten Puloff, with her new book “The Kingdom of Soron”. Be there!