Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”). Jen writes YA, NA, and nonfiction, and her books include The Secret of Isobel Key (2013), and the forthcoming Daughter of Chaos (2014). Jen is a former reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW. She is a registered yoga teacher (RYT 200), and she loves discovering ways to blend her passions. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time. Visit www.JenMcConnel.com to learn more.
Jen will lead two workshops at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference. The first, "The Ins & Outs of Indie Publishing," is for anyone considering diving into the murky pool of self-publishing. We’ll talk about the steps to take, from making a business plan to hitting “publish.” We’ll also discuss aspects of self-publishing that many writers forget: cover art, editing, and marketing. There will be a chance for Q&A at the end of this workshop.
Jen will also lead "Flexible Writing: Yoga for Writers." Are you feeling stuck? When the words won't flow, sometimes our bodies lock up, too. Similarly, if your body is stiff or in pain, your creativity may be hampered. Combining gentle yoga poses with your creative process can help you unlock your creativity (and your joints) and get the ideas flowing again. This workshop will feature rejuvenating yoga postures that you can do anywhere, no matter your level of flexibility, plus some creative writing activities to help you find your spark. By connecting your body with your writing, you'll discover new ways to get over writer's block and back to the story. No yoga experience needed; bring your sense of adventure, leave your inner critic at the door, and prepare to have fun.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic, by Emily Croy Barker. It was a great read! Next, I’ll probably move to Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
If you could have a torrid but guilt-free affair with a fictional character, who would it be?
Absolutely Jamie, the strapping hero of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.
What aspect of craft do you feel you handle especially well, or is especially important to you?
Characterization is really important to me. I try to get inside my characters’ skins, and I want my readers to feel like they can really know my characters off the page.
Any memorable rejections?
My most memorable query rejection was only two words: “No, thanks.”
Do you own an electronic reading device?
Yes! I love my Kindle for travel and editing, but I still have a stack of books a mile high on my coffee table.
What’s one thing that bugs you more than anything else when you see it in a piece of writing?
I hate when characters appear in scenes halfway through, and are treated as if they’ve always been there.
Do you steal pens from hotels?
If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
I’d love to spend one day in Susan Cooper’s shoes, just to explore the mythology and fantasy in her mind.
Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
I write to discover. I’ll outline as I go, but usually the first draft looks nothing like my initial outline. I get more point-to-point on subsequent drafts.
The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
That’s a tricky question; I’m usually very critical of movies based on books. I suppose I was most recently impressed with the way The Hunger Games was adapted, and I’m looking forward to Catching Fire this Fall.
What was the worst?
The Dark Is Rising. The film barely resembled the novel, and subplots were added that detracted from the overall story.
What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
I wish someone had told me to trust my work, but not to have a set-in-stone outcome in mind. My stories and my publishing journey continue to take paths I didn’t expect, and I’ve spent a lot of time learning to be flexible and accept the wonderful surprises along the way. It’s a winding road, and no two books or paths to publication will be the same, and that’s a great thing. Be open to anything!
Please fill in the blank: I have read __ of the Harry Potter books.
All! I even took a graduate level course on HP while I was in college, and I think there’s a lot to love and discover about these books.
Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference is now open.