Ask the Author!

I know all new writers have questions! Speaking to a mentor can be really helpful for anyone interested in writing! Here are some of the most popular questions I've been asked:

1. "I'm a new writer and I really have no idea how to start my novel. What do you do to combat writer's block?" -Geraldine Marie Winblad (age 18)      Anonymous Unknown author [Public domain] 

Hi Geraldine, thanks for writing me! Writer's block is a common issue among numerous writers, old and young. Personally, I think subject matter plays a huge part in sparking enough passion and motivation to write long pieces. For example, in my new book I talk a lot about my feelings and how people treated me. These passages are easy for me to write because of the emotion I feel speaking about the event. Specifically, find a moment when you were overcome with an intense emotion such as passion, fear, excitement, or love. Here's one passage from my new book that I had a ton of fun writing and see if you can guess what emotion I’m feeling:

“My heart beat thick--my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings; something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated; the endurance broke down; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort.” (pg 23).

Hopefully you guessed it- fear! I wrote about a time in my childhood when I swear I encountered the spiritual being of my deceased uncle. It was very intense and terrifying for me- so the descriptions came easy. Additionally, as my close friend Charlotte once said “If you knew my thoughts; the dreams that absorb me; and the fiery emotion that at times eats me up and makes me feel Society as it is wretchedly insipid, you would pity and I dare say despise me. Don’t suppress your tendency to lose yourself in the divine unseen land of thought.” In other words, write about your passions; if you’re not writing an autobiography find something that excites you like your dreams or imaginations! -J


2.  "Hi Jane! I'm looking to write an auto-biography like yours. However, some parts of my life are not exactly glamourous. Should I omit these parts to spare the possible negative opinions of my readers?" - Algie Eggertsen (Age 23) Algie Eggertsen, 1918 graduation picture.PNG


Hi Algie! I'm so excited that you’re interested in writing an auto biography! To answer your question: Absolutely not! In my auto biography I actually mention the debate of honesty but in reality, my advice stands true: "I am not writing to flatter parental egotism, to echo cant, or prop up humbug; I am merely telling the truth" (pg 129). Algie, sometimes the truth is ugly, but your readers are not looking to hear about a fantastical perfect life. There is great enjoyment in a story of triumph and failure, as long as the events that take place are authentic. To craft a truly successful novel one must be an honest author, words are everlasting so they might as well be the truth. -J


3. "Hey Jane! I recently graduated college and I want to write my autobiography and focus on my love interest. However, my story doesn't have a happy ending. Do you think I will still be able to be successful?" -Xu Shunshou (Age 22) See page for author [Public domain]

Congratulations on your graduation, Xu! To answer your question- not all stories do have happy endings and it is okay to portray them accurately. Part of the enjoyment from reading, is waiting to hear how the story ends. By not having a happy ending you have the ability to surprise your reader and keep them interested. I'm sorry that your love life did not work out, I understand the pain heartbreak can bring. Good luck with your writing, -J 


4. "Jane- I'm currently writing a fictional novel and I want to make my main character really admirable! What character trait or traits do you value the most and how do I make my character embody that?" -Linus Pauling (Age 35unknown university portrait photographer [Public domain]


Thanks for writing in Linus! In my honest opinion crafting a great character is very simple. If you have not read my new book you may not be familiar with Miss Temple, but I try to describe her goodness through how she impacted my life and how she made me feel. As to what character trait I value most I can put it simply, "You are good to those who are good to you. It is all I ever desire to be" (pg69). Kindness comes rarely and when you encounter a truly good-hearted soul it is a gift. If I were to write a fictional novel, I would want my main character to be brave, smart, and ambigious, but above all she would have to be kind. Hope I answered your question! -J