About Jenna Harte:
I’m a die-hard romantic who writes a sexy, cozy mystery series and just sold a 3-book romance deal to a publisher. I started writing the Valentine Mysteries because I love romantic mysteries, but hated that I never got to see the couple after one book, and cozy mysteries, even those with a couple, don’t have the level of romance that I enjoy. So I wrote what I want to read. Currently there are five books and one novella in the Valentine Mystery series. Each book has all the intrigue of a cozy mystery, plus the passion of a romance.
I have a bundle of stories filled with romance, mystery and even time travel rattling around in my head and am eager for the day when a device is invented allowing me to download what’s in my brain onto my computer.
When I’m not telling stories, I work by day as a freelance writer, author, blogger and online entrepreneur. I live in central Virginia with my husband, two college-bound children and a fat cat.
What inspires you to write?
I never aspired to be a writer. I got started writing through fan fiction, and wanting to put my favorite characters in situations not covered on the show. After I had a fan fic story stolen twice, I wondered if maybe I was a decent story teller, and decided to write an original fiction. Once I got started, the stories kept coming.
Tell us about your writing process.
Originally, I was a pantster, but too often, especially in my mysteries, I’d get stuck. However, so much comes during the writing process, that it’s impossible for me to completely outline. For mysteries, my process is to create a murder board that has a grid with my victim, suspects, motive, opportunity and clues. It’s not usually complete when I start writing, but it helps me get the basics down.
After I have my murder board, and for other types of writing (i.e. straight romance), I start by writing all the scenes that are rattling around in my brain. That means I often write out of order. In most cases, the first scenes and the last scene are written, and then I have to get from the beginning to the end.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I see my characters in a movie in my head, which I guess means I listen to them. They can be pretty noisy sometimes, especially when I can’t write, such as when I’m running, driving or in bed.
What advice would you give other writers?
I meet a lot of people who say they want to write and even get started but don’t finish. Many stall or get stuck, to which I always say, “Trust the process.” You can’t get unstalled or unstuck if you don’t sit down and start writing. So much of what happens in my stories wasn’t in my mind when I started it. Sometimes I get nervous about how I’m going to get from the beginning to the end, but the process of writing gets my brain going and all of a sudden, situations and ideas reveal themselves.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I pitched the first Valentine book to several agents, many of whom liked it, but wouldn’t represent it because it didn’t fit in the traditional genre lanes. One agent told me to ramp up the heat and sell it as a romance. But I knew I wanted to write a “cozy” mystery series with a romantic couple (that do what romantic couples do). The problem is cozy readers often don’t like intimate bits. At that point, I decided to self-publish and have self-published all 5 books and 1 novella in the Valentine Series. I entered the first book in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, where it reached the quarter-finals.
Later, I had an unfinished romance sitting on my hard drive when I saw a pitch contest from Harlequin on Twitter. I entered, and won a spot to pitch. After the pitch I was asked for the first three chapters and later the full manuscript (which I completed in a few weeks). It sat for nearly 2 years at Harlequin before it was rejected, but in the meantime I was able to get an agent for the book who eventually sold it plus two more to another publisher.
Having done both, I find not much is different. Working with a publisher, I don’t have to pay for editing or cover creation, but I still have to format my manuscript and market. Further, publishers often have larger distribution. As a self-pubbed author, my books are in Ingram, but that doesn’t mean bookstores will order or stock it.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think there will always be readers and therefore there will always be books. How they look and are distributed may change, but people will always want good stories or information from books.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: mystery, romance, romantic mystery
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.