Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Author Jennifer McMurrain & New Beginnings

Today I am excited to introduce author Jennifer McMurrain and Whispered Beginnings, an anthology containing a story she wrote called New Beginnings. Jennifer has graciously agreed to do an interview--and give away a free copy of her book--so I'll turn it over to her. But be sure to enter the drawing before you go!

Tell us about Whispered Beginnings.

Whispered Beginnings: A Clever Fiction Anthology is a collection built by writers, new and published, who have participated in the www.cleverfiction.com weekly challenges. We were given three words: new, whisper, and spring; and had to come up with a story between 250 and 2,000 words long dealing with relationships and/or romance.

The anthology, as a whole, contains stories that flow across many genres: fantasy, humor, and mystery, just to name a few.  My story, New Beginnings, is the story of a love so strong not even death can tear it apart.

I am blessed to have a very talented mother who also has a story in Whispered Beginnings, Whispers in the Wind. We have teamed up and are giving 10% of all book sales via the website of our non-profit organization, Anna's Legacy, to St. Jude's. We started Anna's Legacy several years ago after my younger sister, Anna, passed away from leukemia at the tender age of 24.

Tell us a little about yourself and becoming a writer? When did you know it was for you?

I've always had a nagging muse. She has urged me to write since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn't until five years ago that I really made it a priority in my life. As naggy as my muse was, my inner Negative Nelly was louder, so I did a lot of other jobs trying to find my niche in life. At a crucial turning point in my life my boyfriend asked me what I'd do if money wasn't an option. The answer was instant, I'd write. He grabbed the classifieds out of my hand, led me to the computer, practically pushed me into the chair, and said, "So do it." Needless to say, I married that man and haven't looked back.

Besides losing your sister, which no doubt affected you deeply, what other life experiences have influenced you and your writing?

I chuckled when reading this question because I have had a plethora of odd jobs with interesting people. I've been everything from a "potty princess" a.k.a bathroom cleaner just outside Yellowstone National Park, to a Bear Researcher in the New Mexico mountains, to a tour guide in Palo Duro Canyon, outside Amarillo, TX. I worked with a number of  "characters" including a nomadic Indian who traveled the country living in his tee-pee, children in foster care, and a man who scared black bear just by raising an eyebrow (true story). I've always felt better in nature and those experiences and people are fantastic fuel for my stories.

As for the loss of my sister, feeling that kind of grief personally allows me to write about it with emotions I truly felt. I touch on those emotions in my upcoming historical novel, Quail Crossings, where my main character is dealing with the loss of her husband and child. My short story, A Long Walk, is about the day I found out my sister had leukemia, and I'm happy to announce it won 3rd place at the Oklahoma Writer's Federation, Inc. Conference a few weeks ago.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned about writing?

The most surprising thing I learned about writing was how much I needed to be around other writers. I always saw writing as a solitary career. After a year of writing by myself, I realized I needed someone to talk to about my work. Someone other than my "it's good" husband. As supportive as he is, he doesn't get the writing world. I needed people that understood what I was going through as a writer. So imagine how excited I was to find a local writing group in my hometown, the WordWeavers. Those women are the best thing that could've happened in my writing career. They help me more than I can say in a few paragraphs and they hold me accountable if I haven't gotten my butt in the chair to write.

What advice would you give new writers?

My first piece of advice would be to join a writing group. Even if you don't have one in your hometown, there are a ton online. Second, you have to put in the time. Write every day, even if it's just 500 words or a piece of flash fiction. The more you write, the better you'll get. Last, don't get wrapped up in an editing loop. I know too many writers who write a chapter, then spend days and days editing that one chapter, eventually getting bored and scrapping the project all together. Keep moving forward and worry about edits after you've got a beginning, middle, AND end. One other thing, once you finish that rough draft, celebrate! It may not be the final product, but writing a novel, even in rough draft form, is a great accomplishment and it should be celebrated.

What does the future hold? Do you have any other projects on the horizon?

As I mentioned before, my debut novel, Quail Crossings, should be out this summer. The WordWeavers, my writing group, will be releasing an anthology in time for the Christmas shoppers, and I am currently editing my second novel, Winter Song, which is a paranormal contemporary romanceno vampires or werewolves, I promise. 

Thanks for talking time to stop by and let us get to know you better, and good luck with Whispered Beginnings, Quail Crossings, and all your other projects!

 ~~~
You can find Whispered Beginnings at www.annaslegacy.com. You can follow Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter at @Deepbluejc. And don't forget her webpage, where you'll find everything from essays and flash fiction to short stories and Novel Bites, where you get a bite of tasty writing with a delicious recipe.




a Rafflecopter giveaway
(Due to shipping considerations, this contest is open to residents of US & Canada only.)

Update 5/29/12: A winner was randomly chosen by Rafflecopter from among the eligible entrants. For some reason it's not showing up on the widget, so here's a screen shot:

Congratulations Carrie! :D 

7 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear about your loss, Jennifer. I'm sure your sister would be proud of all you've accomplished. Best of luck with this project!

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  2. Thank you, Carrie. I feel her presence every day.

    And unfort. I found a typo... completely my fault. The Clever Fiction website is www.cleverfiction.com, not org. I must've read over this a dozen times, amazing what your brain skips right over.

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    1. Ha! I do stuff like that all the time. No worries. Fixed it. Viola! :)

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  3. great interview, Melissa, and fabulous writing advice, Jennifer!

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    1. Thanks. And I agree with the writing advice. I'm one of those who gets caught up in editing loops.

      I finally started typing *** at the point in the MS I'm working and let it ride the document as I type. Now when I open the doc, I just search *** and it takes me directly to the right place, helping me resist the urge to get caught up 'reading (and editing) my way there.' LOL

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  4. I'm so glad to hear you encourage people to join a writer's group. I LOVE my crit group, yet I often hear industry professionals advise against joining one. Like you said, they will hold you accountable for actually writing.

    Congrats on Whispered Beginnings. Looking forward to reading Winter Song snippets some time soon. Hint Hint.

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  5. Wonderful interview. I'm so sorry that you've lost your sister, but how lovely that you are using your writing talent to donate to St. Judes. Congratulations and best of luck with New Beginnings.

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