I am so happy to have New York Times Best Selling Author Jennifer Probst as our guest this week. Jennifer was nominated for not one, but two RITA awards this year. Good luck!!
Her latest book titled Writing Naked is an intimate look at a bestseller’s secrets to writing romance and navigating the path to success coming March 31, 2017.
Let’s meet this amazing author:
Name/Pen name: Jennifer Probst
General location: New York
Thank you so much for having me here today!
- When did you first know you wanted to writer?
I was very lucky and knew I wanted to be an author when I was seven years
old, and at twelve, I knew I was going to be a romance writers. I was lucky – writing was always my True North!
- What inspired you to write?
I was driven to write by an early age to make sense out of everything. Words on the page helped focus my thoughts, explore life, and figure out who I was. It was my safe place since I was very shy and liked to live in my own safe bubble. Writing made me feel powerful and not so alone.
- Are you a planner or pantster?
I’m a pantser. Little colored notecards and sticky notes make me break out in hives. I like to see where the story takes me within the guidelines of a very loose outline.
- Which of your works is your favorite? Why?
The Marriage Bargain. It was a book that got rejected everywhere for a number of years, and when it was finally published, readers embraced it. That book taught me to never give up on your dreams because anything can happen as long as you never quit, and are always prepared for success.
- Would you say your stories are plot or character driven?
Always character driven. This is the heart and soul of my novels.
- What do you take with you on vacation?
My family, my sunblock, and my Ipad.
- What’s your motto as a writer?
I treat writing like a job, because it is. I respect writing, work hard every day, and am always grateful I get to do this full-time. I also consistently mystified by the magic and beauty in writing.
- What’s your next project or what is in your future?
So many projects! My final two books will be released this year in the Billionaire Builders – an HGTV inspired series that readers have really embraced. Then I have two brand new series launching in 2018 I’m excited to share with readers – details for both are coming soon!
Is there any information you would like to share about yourself
I love talking to my readers! Please check out my website, connect on Facebook, join my street team The Probst Posse, reach out on Goodreads or Instagram or Twitter – I’m everywhere LOL!
Now and excerpt from Writing Naked:
Writing naked is the necessary state of mind for translating the mess of raw material in your brain into words on a page. Most people think you need to be able to make sense of the junk first. You don’t. Instead you need to feel it, connect with it, and then write it. The mess is the structure and meat of the story. Even if you are composing a love letter, the best way to connect is to spill your deepest, darkest, embarrassing secrets. Reveal the stuff that terrifies you and keeps you awake at night. Talk about the monsters in the closet, and the ones hiding under the bed. Get in touch with the kind of emotions that drive the fear of abandonment, failure, and pain. This is the good stuff .
A reader wants to feel something. A reader doesn’t want to be intellectually stimulated or to be able to skillfully talk about your work in a book club. She doesn’t want to check off your book on her list of smart reads, feeling nothing but mild admiration for your writing expertise. Failure to connect on an emotional level with a reader is the kiss of death for a writer. I want a reader to pick up my stuff and get dirty. I want her turned on during the sex scenes, choked up during the black moment, and blinking tears at the ending. (The black moment is what happens when the hero or heroine needs to change, or risk losing the other forever.) I want her yelling at the page because of the asshole hero and laughing out loud at the characters’ banter. Hell, I’d rather have a reader say she hated my book (many have on Goodreads-and, yes, it still hurts), than be apathetic toward it. I’d rather her say she loathed it, wanted to rip it up, and tell every one of her friends to never ever read me again. At least that’s passion. I may have missed the mark, but I got the emotion right. Lukewarm comments are the worst insult to the success-driven writer. Okay. Fine. An average read. Kill me now. Trust me, you don’t want to pat yourself on the back for sounding smart, cool, or savvy in your writing. The best way to connect with your real self is to get naked. Strip your soul bare and throw it out there. Don’t try to make sense of it until the ink dries, because you can always go back and tweak, tidy things up, or edit later.
Many experts in the writing field advise us to write what we know. When you write naked, you’re doing this each time, allowing the reader a glimpse of yourself. Not everyone is going to like who you are. That’s one of the hardest parts of the business. But not everyone is supposed to like you all the time. By practicing the act of writing naked, you will begin to connect with your true voice and touch readers on an emotional level. Great books have great emotion. Strip to your bare skin and write your book in the glorious, raw mess just as nature intended. You can sort out the good stuff from the junk later. But when you’re writing that first draft , you need to go for it. I always remember that scene from Romancing the Stone where the heroine, Joan, is shown as a successful romance writer. She was finishing her book, writing the final scene, and weeping uncontrollably over her desk.
When I finish a book, I always cry. It’s my own sign of realizing it’s good, that I’ve given it everything I had, and the foundation is firm enough not to crumble under any edits. Right or wrong, that’s how I know I’m writing naked. It may get a bit chilly, and a whole lot vulnerable, but the result will be worth it. The at result is the best book you can possibly deliver, and that is what every reader should expect from you. You are naked when you share your work-make no doubt about it. The good news is you will become more and more comfortable without your clothes the longer you write. There’s something freeing and wild about telling the world the way you see things. When you sit down to create, you must be brave enough to rid yourself of societal expectations and the crushing cliques civilization force on us. You may hurt and embarrass your family. You may need to hide your books from your children. You may find people from your past rise up to confront, judge, or mock you. You may face harsh reviews from a world that wags its finger and admonishes you to get dressed and write nicely. Fully clothed. But great risks mean great rewards. When people are asked about their regrets in life, they often list the things they didn’t do. The book they were afraid to write because it wouldn’t sell, or because the writing was too difficult, or because they were too busy doing things that were safe or marketable. Writing naked is the only way to write. And as a writer, your only regret will be looking back and realizing you wrote with a giant fur coat, boots, and-horror of horrors-too tight underwear. Burn the bra. Burn the boxers. Burn the regrets. Write naked.