Name Jennifer L. Allen
Where are you from
Born and raised on Long Island, New York. Currently live just outside of Charleston, South Carolina.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I have been married to my husband for seven years. We don’t have any children but we have four fur-kids. We both come from big families so there are lots of siblings and nieces and nephews. I am currently a student, finishing up my BA in Psychology. I’m starting grad school in the fall for Clinical Counselling. It’s a crazy time for me right now! I also have a full time job as an Office Manager.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My very first book, Our Moon is releasing on June 2nd! I am scared and excited, but so far the early reception has been positive.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve had a few random book ideas but I never thought I could do it. Then the more Our Moon formed in my head, the more I realized I could actually do it. I had almost the entire thing written in my mind, so when I started, it just poured out. Now I have a bunch of book ideas, inspired by songs or random experiences. Out of those ideas, one will catch my interest and I’ll start developing it in my head and once I have enough there, I’ll start writing it. I want the words to flow, I don’t want to feel forced.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I got about halfway through Our Moon When I was little I always loved to write and tell stories. I have an old poetry portfolio somewhere from like fifth grade that will attest to that. But I never considered myself a writer then, it was because of school or it was journaling. But once I began my own book and actually got to that point where I knew I was going to finish it, it was real.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Our Moon came to me as a dream. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but I remembered bits and pieces of this one and it only happened the one time, but it kept bouncing around my head and I would develop it here and there. I think I might have known from the beginning that I was eventually going to write it down, but it wasn’t until about a year later that I actually did.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t think do. I wrote Our Moon in first person and the story I’m currently working on is the same way. It’s just the way these particular stories came to me. I may have some sarcasm and dry humor because that’s the way I am, so I’m sure that ends up overflowing into my characters. I don’t like to use SAT words in my stories because I feel that they’re fictional stories, not textbooks, so I want them to sound like every day sounds like.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title Our Moon comes from a song that’s mentioned. But the moon is sort of symbolic in the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not particularly. It’s a contemporary romance, so I’d say just love deeply and never give up.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The entire book could actually happen. There are no paranormal or supernatural aspects. Our Moon could be someone’s life.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, everything is fiction.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I’m not really sure there’s a book or a person who has influenced my life most. There have been a ton of tiny little impacts along the way, but nothing or no one outside of my family really stands out. I could devote my love for reading to my sisters and mom for introducing me to novels at a young age. I used to read a lot of Stephen King, James Patterson, and R.L. Stine. I still read Patterson and King from time to time, but now my preferred genre is more romance than anything else. One of my sisters recommended Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless and that’s when I got into contemporary romance and new adult. I have read romance in the past, Harlequin and whatnot, but it was Hopeless that created a monster. Since then, I have devoured contemporary romance books on a daily basis.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Today I’m reading Tool by Sabina Paige. Yesterday I was reading the Carved Hearts series by Michelle and L.G. Pace. Tomorrow it’ll be something different. I go through about a book a day, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on what else I’ve got going on.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Yes, since writing my book I have met many indie authors on Facebook and read some of their work. Recently I have read T.J. West and Heather Dahlgren, two authors I connected with. I also had the privilege of receiving an ARC from Amanda Bianco and Stacie Jacobs of their debut novel. But there are lots others I discover on a regular basis when blogs and groups I follow advertise them.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Right now I’m working on my second book, Change of Heart. It’s another contemporary romance story. I’m about halfway through. If things continue to go smoothly with it, I’m hoping to release at the end of the summer or early fall. I’ve got a couple other works in progress, but right now I’m going with Change of Heart because it’s the one that’s loudest in my head right now.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Amanda Bianco. She’s a new friend and a fellow author. I met her when I was looking for beta readers for Our Moon. She provided amazing feedback and has sort of been a sounding board ever since. I go to her for random book, self-publishing, and marketing advice. She’s getting ready to publish her first book with her co-author and she has been a few steps in front of me in the process, so she’s had a lot of advice to give. She introduced me to a ton of people on Facebook who have been supportive as well. Even when I don’t have a specific question, Amanda has been there to let me talk out whatever issue I’m having and either encourage me, provide advice, or just listen and commiserate. Turns out we have a ton in common, too, so I’m happy to have made a new friend.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It’s hard to say at this point. Since I haven’t clicked publish on my book yet, I don’t know what kind of response my book is going to get. It’s definitely something that I’m passionate about and want to continue doing, but I’m not sure it’ll be something I can survive off of enough to call it a career. I am going to school for psychology, specifically counselling, and I’ve wanted that to be my career for a long time. If the writing thing takes off, who knows? I can certainly do both, and for now that’s what I plan to do.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Since it hasn’t been published yet, I actually can still change things if I want to, but I don’t think I would. Maybe if I receive some constructive criticism from a reviewer, I might wish I could fix whatever they point out. But I’m really happy with the way Our Moon turned out. It’s simply not possible to satisfy every reader out there, so changing one thing might affect something else and cause someone else to dislike the book. It’s never going to be perfect, and my editor and I have spent countless hours trying to make it as close to perfect as we can get it. I have done so many revisions, and I am happy with the final product. I don’t think I’d change a thing. I’m proud of it.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I always liked creative writing assignments back in grade school. I hated being assigned essays and stuff like that, but I liked it when a teacher would ask us to write a story or a poem. I was no pro back then, I’m still not, but I liked that I could write about what I wanted to write about, not what I was told to write about. Honestly, I’m the same way with reading. I hated assigned reading in school, never read the books, but give me a book I want to read, completely different story!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Change of Heart is a friends to lovers romance. The two main characters are childhood best friends who are separated and then reunited a few years later. There are secrets and drama, a bit more angst than Our Moon. I don’t want to give too much away. I am working diligently on it.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I am very action oriented in my writing. I focus on the dialogue and the verbs, the things that are getting the story from Point A to Point B. I’m not good at details and descriptions. When I wrote Our Moon, the first draft was pretty much just action phrases and dialogue, then I went through and fluffed it up, adding description. For example, instead of the original: “John sat on the couch,” I changed it to: “John sat on the red leather couch.” Not that exactly, but you get what I mean. It was barebones and I had to add that description throughout the book. It wasn’t that I forgot to add the descriptive words and phrases the first time, I just didn’t want to distract myself with that while I was trying to get all my thoughts on paper. And it took another few drafts and lots of feedback for me to really build that stuff into the story. Now, with Change of Heart, I am doing a better job of working that stuff in as I go, but I know I’m still going to go through a second time and add more because I’m sure there are parts that I was focusing on dialogue the first time, where I can now add character mannerisms and stuff like that. I get in a zone when I’m writing, especially when I’m writing dialogue, and I want to make sure I get it right without stopping to say a character sat down, twiddled his thumbs, or what the room smelled like.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t think it’s possible for me to pick one favorite author. There are lots of authors that I love, many who I will read whatever they put out just because they put it out, but I don’t think I can say I have one that’s a favorite. What attracts to an author is the story, if they write something that grips me. There are many that do that.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I haven’t travelled at all yet for my writing. The setting for Our Moon is Charlotte, NC and for the few area things I mentioned, I did internet searches to research them. I want to be genuine when I write about actual places, so I try to keep my locations limited to places I’ve been so I have some sort of reference. I’ve been to Charlotte, so I have some familiarity with it. Change of Heart takes place in Charleston, SC and near San Francisco, both of which I’ve also been. That’s not to say I won’t travel for a book, but I haven’t had to just yet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed the cover for Our Moon and I’m actually working on the cover for Change of Heart. It’s still early for Change of Heart, but I had inspiration the other night and acted on it. I am not a professional, by any means, but I wanted my covers to be simple. Many books in the contemporary romance genre have people on the covers, but I didn’t want to go that route. I can appreciate books with people on the covers, sometimes that’s even what sells me the book, but I wanted my readers to be able to visualize the characters the way they see them. I don’t want them to feel like they have to see a cover model as the character. I want them to pick their own.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part for me was letting other people read it. I was terrified!! So many thoughts were going through my head. What if they hated it? What if they thought I was crazy? What if they’re really mean about it? What am I doing? Is it possible to un-send? I was a mess. Then I heard back from the first beta and I realized, this isn’t bad. Then the second, third, etc… I have calmed down significantly since then. It’s still nerve-wracking. I mean my book is out there with reviewers right now. Some might love it, some might think it’s OK, and some might hate it. I know that despite the positive feedback I’ve received thus far, there are going to be some negative reviews. My only hope that this point is that they’ll at least be nice about it. There’s no reason to be mean or a bully. I have pretty thick skin, I can put up with a lot, but mean people suck regardless.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Patience!! Have patience! Have patience while writing. Have patience while beta readers have your book. Have patience while your editor has your book. Have patience while early reviewers have your book. You want everyone, including yourself, to do their jobs right, so you can’t rush the process. I also learned that I need to leave room for error. I had to push back the release of the ARC because I was still working on some things, and that wasn’t fair to the reviewers who set aside their time for me. Fortunately they were all very gracious and I am so appreciative to them for sticking with me throughout the process. See, they had patience!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Follow your heart. Stick with it. Have patience. Ask for advice. Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t be afraid to say yet.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
To anyone who takes the time to pick up Our Moon or any of my future books, thank you! Thanks for taking a chance on me. I appreciate it more than I can say.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t, but it was probably a Golden Book, like The Pokey Little Puppy or something.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My husband makes me laugh. My friends and my family do, too. I like stupid jokes, like the ones children tell. Some books make me laugh, like The Duet by R.S. Grey or The Consequences of Loving Colton by Rachel Van Dyken.
Animal charity commercials, specifically the ASPCA ones, make me cry. Seeing my nieces and nephews go through various milestones and grow up brings tears to my eyes. Books tend to make me cry as well.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I’d love the opportunity to meet my grandparents who were deceased either before I was born or while I was too little to remember them. I only had one grandparent growing up and she was great, but it would have been nice to know the others the way I knew her. It would have been nice to see where my parents came from.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Something along the lines of “loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend…” because I’d like to think I’m all those things, or at least will be before my death.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love music and going to concerts. Genre of choice is rock, but I also like some country and pop. Depends on my mood, but I can always listen to rock. In the past year, I have been able to see my favorite bands play live and it was so much fun.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Since reading has taken over my life, I actually haven’t been watching any TV. I used to watch CSI, Criminal Minds, Greys Anatomy, Law and Order SVU, Vampire Diaries, and
others. I loved Friends and still catch the occasional re-run, as well as Golden Girls. I also love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched all seasons of One Tree Hill via Netflix a couple years ago, that was fun. Sex and the City is another one I used to watch.
As for movies, again I haven’t really watched many lately since I’m always reading and writing, but I love superhero movies, especially the various Avengers. The Fast and the Furious series is great, I like car movies. My all-time favorite movies are probably Stand by Me and The Goonies. I could watch them again and again. I love horror movies, especially Halloween and the Friday the 13th series. I don’t like the horror movies that focus on the gore, that’s disgusting, that’s probably why I prefer the older ones, when the horror is implied, it’s scarier!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I am Italian so I pretty much love any kind of Italian food. I’ll try just about anything and I have a pretty eclectic palate. I love a good steak. I also like salads. Potatoes and cheese are a given.
My favorite color is purple.
I love rock music, and a little bit of pop and country. Seether is probably my favorite band, but I also love Theory of a Deadman, Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold, Breaking Benjamin, Stone Sour and so many more.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
A counselor. I hope to be able to do both for a very long time. I am currently an Office Manager and I enjoy the work, but psychology is where my passion is.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Here are my links: