Posted in Author Spotlight, Authors, Books

Author Spotlight: Women’s Fiction Author J. Schlenker

authorspotlightWelcome to the Literary Library Lounge where I interview fellow authors. Today, I am chatting with  J. Schlenker from Olive Hill, Kentucky.



Thanks for joining me, Jerri (I hope you don’t mind my using your first name here).  Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable.

How long have you been published? What titles have you published? Please give details.

I don’t mind you calling me by my full first name at all. I’ve been published since December 2015. My three books are Jessica Lost Her Wobble, The Color of Cold and Ice, and  The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries (A Collection of Short Stories).  They are all Self-Published.

Congratulations. I have a small publisher, but I admire those who do it themselves.

Tell us a little bit about your books.

jschlenkerIn my short career I would say I write mainly women’s fiction.  I would categorize both “Jessica Lost Her Wobble” and “The Color of Cold and Ice” as women’s fiction, mainly. Both have women going through transitions in their lives. Although, “The Color of Cold and Ice” also has men going through transitional stages. “The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries” (A Collection of Short Stories) is a hodgepodge. However, the stories, I think, would appeal to the middle-aged or older woman. Should I say ‘more mature’ woman?

I am currently working on two new books: “The Innkeeper on the Edge of Paris” – A woman leaves her marriage and job in the US and travels to France and stays in an old inn where she has strange dreams and encounters a ghost, and meets a man. “Sally”  – Historical Fiction about a woman I met when I was 8. She was 103 at the time. She was born in 1858 into slavery.

All your books sound interesting. Women’s fiction is a very popular genre.

Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

I’m not one of those people who put goals out there, but as a writer, I want to write something that I’m happy about, something that causes someone to think, or smile, or cry in a good way.  I would hope to see my books as book club pics and in every library.

Those are excellent goals; and, since I’m a librarian, I like your desire to have your book in libraries. One of my goals is also to touch readers and make them think and feel.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

The mature woman or mature male for that matter.

I think my Cobble Cove mystery series also appeals to mature readers because of the age of the characters. The main ones are 40+, although I’ve tried to introduce college-age characters as well as children into the series recently.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

First off, write what’s in your heart, what you are inspired to write.

I agree with that. Many writers are influenced by what they think the public wants to read. I believe you have to write what you feel or it won’t come across as genuine.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

Finding the right words?  After that, there was beta reading (I’ve lucked out on that one – I’ve found some great people who give me the feedback I need) and editing (the editing takes more time than the writing, on my part. My editor goes through it quickly – I lucked out on finding a good editor, too.). What does that leave? Formatting, getting it ready for publication. I’m self-published. So, I had to figure out to get it out there. I’m technologically impaired. So, up until recently, as I’ve had lots of practice doing this now, the formatting was the hardest. Now, I’m back to finding the right words as being the hardest.

Yes, editing takes a lot more time than writing. I don’t think people realize that until they’ve published a book. The first draft is just that, a draft. You have to mold it into the final product and that takes a lot of work. Beta readers and editors can help, but only you know what you want your work to convey.

Have you taken any writing or publishing classes? If so, please provide information about them and if you feel they helped you further your professional skills.

Yes, and yes, they’ve helped a lot. I belong to several writing groups which is helpful. We use writing prompts and critique each other’s work. I’ve taken around ten online writing classes. They are available through my library. I’ve learned a lot through them. I also met one of my beta readers through one of them.

I think you are referring to the Gale Courses, Jerri, and I believe you took some of the ones I took through my library with Eva Shaw. Gale Courses is a database that is offered nationwide through libraries. They have wonderful writing and publishing classes but also many other courses.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Art, Yoga, being with my family

Very nice. Your covers definitely show your art talent.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

Making myself write, the self-doubt.

Self-doubt is a biggie for most authors including myself.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.

Thanks so much, Jerri. It was a pleasure having you here and learning more about you and your writing. Best wishes to you.

Posted in Education, Writing

A Writer Never Stops Learning

galecoursesOne thing I love about being a writer as well as a librarian is that both occupations encourage and actually necessitate continuing education. I remember when I first began writing again and the idea for “A Stone’s Throw” was not even a seed planted in my mind yet. I took some online Gale Courses that my library offered. The instructors and course material covered in each of these classes was beyond my expectations. The best thing about taking these classes, beyond picking up some useful tips and a lot of knowledge, was receiving a certificate of completion. I’ve placed links for all the ones I’ve received on this site under “Writing Certificates.” The reason I was able to create this WordPress blog was because I took “Creating WordPress Websites” with John Agress and Cindi Keller. I followed it up with John’s “Blogging and Podcasting for Beginners” class and learned how to record podcasts some of which are also featured on this blog and that I hope to continue on a monthly basis. John and Cindi have a Facebook page, WordPress with John Agress and Cindi Keller, where they can answer questions from their previous WordPress students.

Another course that was highly helpful was Eva Shaw’s class, “How to Make Money from Your Writing.” Eva’s students created a Facebook group, Eva’s Writerrific Garden, so they could keep in touch with this wonderful instructor. Linda Askomitis, who taught my “Introduction to Internet Writing Markets” also has a Facebook page, “Writing and Publishing on the Web with Linda Askomitis.”

As an author of romantic suspense and mystery novels, I found Steve Alcorn’s “Mystery Writing” class of particular interest as well as Lee Anne Krusemark’s “Beginner’s Guide to Getting Published” and Jacquelyn Landis’ “The Keys to Effective Editing.”

I think these writing classes were a great help to me, and I recommend them and many others offered by Gale Courses. They are six-week classes done in the comfort of your home or wherever you can access the Internet. If your library subscribes to the Gale Courses database, you can access the classes free with a library card.