May 25, 2015

Today we are privileged to hear from my friend Jenny Bravo (isn't that the coolest name?!) She recently hosted me on her blog, and I have really appreciated her writing and self-publishing tips, oh and she's really fun to follow on twitter too. :)  Without further ado, let's hear from Jenny.

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.
Oh, I love this question. First, I spent six months driving a safari truck at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and giving tours. (I’m now an animal expert.) Second, I spent a summer writing in Ireland. Third, I once played Fantine in Les Miserables. (I spend 23 hours singing a day, basically.)

How long have you been blogging and how did you get started?
I started Blots & Plots in fall of 2013. I was writing a different manuscript at the time, and doing extensive research on “author platforms” when I realized I needed to get my name out there. My sister is a paleo blogger, and she helped me launch the website, basically teaching me everything I needed to know.

Blogging is an amazing, weird experience. For me, my blog is not only this hub of writing advice, but it’s also a chronological testimony of my writing journey, and that’s pretty incredible.

I like the way you put that! Where did you get the idea for your novel These Are the Moments?
The idea for These Are the Moments came from the concept of “write what you know.” I was writing a manuscript that I didn’t feel wholly invested in, and I took a step back to think about what I wanted to tell the world, and why I wanted to tell it at all.

These Are the Moments tells the story of a back-and-forth relationship, following a couple from post-college, all the way back to high school. It’s a really special story to me, loosely based off of my own experiences. It’s a love story and a coming-of-age, all rolled into one.

I’m very intrigued by your “Easter egg” concept. Could you tell us more about that?
Ahh, my Easter eggs! So, these are basically a way for me to honor my friends and family through my story. It’s comparable to Pixar placing Easter eggs of their previous movies in their current ones. For example, Boo in Monster’s Inc. has a doll of Jessie from Toy Story.

My Easter eggs are hidden clues and traits of my family and friends that show up in the novel, that only they would notice. Since we’re friends, I’ll spoil one for you. In the book, Wendy’s dad talks about hollandaise sauce and how he’s going to get around to teaching her one day. That one is my dad, through and through.

That is so cool! Can you tell us about your very first book/writing project?
Okay, if we’re talking first writing project, we’ll have to go all the way back to elementary school. (I tried to write a book that was basically a Gone with the Wind spin-off.) But in all seriousness, my first completed manuscript was a middle-grade fantasy/dystopian novel. It was about a girl who had the power to physically manifest her own thoughts. I’m thinking about picking it back up somewhere down the line.

What motivates you to write, both on days you feel like it, and days you don’t?
Excellent question. I wish there were some kind of magic formula that I could give you about how I spend an hour a day over the keyboard, just to get words on the page. Honestly, though? It’s pretty tricky.

For me, I’m at my most productive when I’m out of the house. I’ve always been a coffee shop writer, and that helps me focus. I love writing sprints, too. I hop on Twitter to get my friends involved, and we challenge each other to see who can write the most words in a set time. I give myself permission to write terribly.

Sometimes we need that permission! Do you have any tips for writing contemporary fiction?
The best thing about contemporary fiction is how relatable it truly is. You want people to imagine these characters living and breathing around them. Characters are key in contemporary fiction, so I spend a great deal of time getting to know mine. That’s the fun part.

With contemporary fiction, you want to be as honest about life as you can possibly be. You want flawed characters with real emotions. You want true conflict, that leaves you feeling like you know more about the world and the human experience.

What is a piece of advice that you would give writers between the ages of 16-19?
Hello, young writers! I’m going to give you simple advice that you might not typically hear: live your life. Write, of course. Read, of course. But when you’re 16, you should really focus on gaining as much life experience as possible. Try new things. Meet new people. Say yes to living your life, and your writing will thank you for it.

Thank you to Abi for an amazing interview. I’m thrilled to be a part of this wonderful blog.

Jenny Bravo is writer, singer, and caps lock enthusiast. She wrote a book called "These are the Moments," aka #TATM, available May 26th, 2015. She blogs at Blots & Plots, where she gives writing and self-publishing advice.


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