A native New Yorker, Brenda Janowitz has had a flair for all things dramatic since she played the title role in her third grade production of Really Rosie. When asked by her grandmother if the experience made her want to be an actress when she grew up, Brenda responded, “An actress? No. A writer, maybe.”
Brenda attended Cornell University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Human Service Studies, with a Concentration in Race and Discrimination. After graduating from Cornell, she attended Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review and won the Law Review Writing Competition. Upon graduation from Hofstra, she went to work for the law firm Kaye Scholer, LLP, where she was an associate in the Intellectual Property group, handling cases in the areas of trademark, anti-trust, internet, and false advertising. Brenda later left Kaye Scholer to pursue a federal clerkship with the Honorable Marilyn Dolan Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Brenda is the author of JACK WITH A TWIST and SCOT ON THE ROCKS. Her third novel, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE, will be published by St. Martin’s on July 2nd, 2013. Her work has also also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly. You can find Brenda on Facebook or on Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.
What inspires you to write?
I think the better question is: what doesn’t inspire me to write?! I find inspiration in everything. A comment here, a story I hear about, something I see on the news.
It’s how I process the world– writing about it. So most times, I don’t even know what I’m writing about until I finish the book. I need to take a step back, and it’s then that I see the way the world has influenced me.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’ve done everything– outlines, no outlines, index cards, character sketches. I will pretty much do anything that helps me tell the story in the best way possible.
Generally, I’ll start off free writing, just putting fingers to keyboard and letting whatever comes out come out. A bit later, I’ll flesh out a bit– do I need an outline? Do I need to put each scene on an index card to see the story structure? Character sketches are a must. Sometimes I do them right in the beginning, sometimes it’s after a first draft.
The one thing I ALWAYS do is to walk around with a notebook and dictaphone in my pocketbook. Inspiration has a funny way of striking at the most inconvenient times. This way, I’m always prepared!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I’ve always heard of these writers who have the characters “tell” them where to go. “The characters just speak to me,” they say.
I’m not sure if my characters speak to me or not. I live a busy life– like a lot of other moms– filled with carpools, making dinner, and laundry. A lot of laundry. When I finally find the time to write, it’s so important for me to do just that: write! So, I really get down to it. Do I have time to listen to what my characters have to say to me? No! I need to write.
But then a funny thing happens when I get into my writing zone: the words just start to come and the characters begin leading the way, telling me where the story should go. So, I suppose it IS true, sometimes your characters speak to you. You just have to listen.
What advice would you give other writers?
Keep writing! It’s so easy to get discouraged or feel like you don’t have the time to write. But like anything else that is important in life, you have to work at it and make the time for it.
There will always be excuses to avoid writing– I have no free time, I have little kids, I have big kids, I don’t have kids yet, my job is too demanding, I need to find a job… you fill in your own. If writing is really your dream, make the time. Start with a writing class, and then find a writer’s group. Once you commit to taking the time to write, you’ll be able to find the time to put pen to paper. (Or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be.)
Edit! Editing your work is almost as important as the writing itself. Sure, you’re telling your story, but it’s also important to consider the way that you tell it. You want your writing to be tight, elegant and polished. It can only get to be that way through careful and thorough editing.
Develop a very thick skin. You’re putting yourself out there when you write and not everyone is going to love what you do. But that’s okay! You’re not writing to please everyone out there. You’re writing because you have a story that you want to tell. So start getting used to criticism and then see tip #1—keep writing!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
It all started when I was invited to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding. My real life started to resemble some of my favorite books, and I said to myself: I’ve gotta write this stuff down. My friends signed me up for a writing class for my birthday, and the rest, as they say, is history. I had no idea how to get a novel published. I just figured that if I wrote one, I’d just get an agent and publishers would be knocking down my door. Ha! If I knew then what I know now…
But I didn’t, so I wrote the novel in the tiny pockets of spare time that I had when I wasn’t practicing law and then edited for MONTHS until I had the whole book practically memorized.
I sent it out to agents, and there was a lot of rejection. It was the first time I said to myself: Hey! Publishing a book might not be as easy as I initially thought! But then, luckily, my amazing agent, Mollie Glick, rescued me from the slush pile. She was able to sell it to Red Dress Ink in a two book deal and that was it– I was officially a published author!
Fast forward to a few years later– Red Dress Ink shut down its doors and I was able to get the rights back to my first two novels. Around the same time, I finished my third novel and my agent sold it to St. Martin’s in a two book deal (RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE, out July 2nd, 2013!). I was excited about my third novel, but I really wanted my first two novels back in print!
So, my agent encouraged me to release them myself! I got gorgeous new covers for the books from Malena Lott at Athena Books, had the books formatted for Kindle, pressed the “publish” button, and the rest is history!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
What a tough question! I don’t really know. I do know that people love their e-readers, and anything that gets people to read more is a good thing. A very good thing.
Me? I still love the feel of a real book. (Just don’t tell that to me Kindle!)
What genres do you write?
romantic comedy, women’s fiction, commercial, contemporary
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print