Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Today’s writer rarely has the perfect time and place to write.  For most, it’s a matter of carving out the necessary time while taking care of their responsibilities to family and job. It’s a tough juggling act. 
My guest, Jennifer Walkup, talks about some things that have helped her stay on track and overcome the negatives.

  • How do you juggle working and family obligations with your writing career?
This is a tough one! I have a job, two young kids, a husband, a dog and a house. Plus I freelance edit for a few publishers and a literary magazine. I’m pretty good at multitasking but there is still only so much time. There are some things I won’t cut corners on - like family time with my husband and kids – but other things I have no problem slacking off on. I’m looking at you, housework! Ha! I’m not saying I completely ignore it, but there may be a few more weeds in my garden and a bit more dust in my house than there should be.

Many of us working mom types think we can do it all, but throw writing into the mix and it becomes literally impossible to get it all done. The sooner I let go of getting it ALL done, the better I felt. In other words: don’t sweat the small stuff! 
  • What does your writing day look like?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a typical writing day. Being a mom to two young boys, my day is often upside down and backwards. Between that and working, I sneak in writing where I can. I try to write every night when the kids go to sleep, and can usually fit in a few hours. I’m a much more efficient writer early in the day, however, so when I can sneak in some morning writing hours, I’m a happy girl! 
  • How do you handle negatives?
I try really hard not to let them bring me down. I’d like to say I don’t read reviews – I know some authors don’t – but I’m not that strong. I read them from time to time. When a reader doesn't agree with (or downright doesn't like) something about my book, I try not to absorb it. And it mostly works. Not every book is for everyone. And that’s okay! It’s just like when we writers are querying agents and submitting to editors and publishers. Not every agent or editor is going to love our work. Same with readers. As long as I’m entertaining some readers, I take it as a win! 
  • How has associating with other writers helped you?
In all my years of writing and trying to get published, the writing community has helped me more than anything else in the world!

I have learned so much from fellow writers about the craft itself. Without the writing community I never would have gotten my manuscripts in shape to try and publish, and certainly never would have gotten published. The writing community is amazing – supportive, understanding and after all these years, filled with wonderful friends. Love my myriad critique partners and writing buddies! 
  • What do you still struggle with as an author?
Everything! Ha, it’s funny, but true! Every single novel I write has its set of challenges. And every single story, every new character has the same approach. Is this interesting? Is this real enough? Will this grab the reader? Will this bore people? Will they like this character? Hate this character? Will this keep them guessing enough? All the fears I've had since book one are still the same. 

Now it’s a little scarier, actually. Since Second Verse came out, I've had people emailing to ask: “I loved your book! When’s the sequel?” It’s amazing feedback and it makes me feel great! But I’m terrified too. What if the sequel doesn't deliver? What if these readers don’t love it as much? So those fears, I think, they are always there. The key is channeling that into productivity, which I am slowly but surely learning how to do. 
  • Second Verse is a ghost story—a bit dark and definitely on the scary side—with a rich portion of romance stirred in. What inspired this series or characters?
Second Verse is a mystery/thriller with paranormal elements. Not one bit of the story was inspired by anything in real life. Like most writers, I have a huge imagination and like many, I get inspired by seemingly innocuous things that cross my path. The inspiration for Second Verse was one of those instances. To make a long story short, it was inspired by the 30th anniversary of a famous musician’s death. The whole story can be found on my site
  • I’m always curious to see how people respond to the question of personal heroes. Who is your real life hero? Why?
My real life hero is my oldest son. He’s 7 years old and is the strongest, bravest boy I know. He was diagnosed with epilepsy a few years ago and even though things aren't always easy for him, he works so hard at everything he does and deals with so much that I wish he didn't have to. But he takes it all in stride and just keeps going. 
On that note, this would be a good time to mention that I’m donating a portion of all book sales in November to fund epilepsy research in honor of Epilepsy Awareness Month
So if you are interested in my book or know someone who’d like one as a holiday gift, if you purchase this month, part of the sale will go to epilepsy research!

Thanks so much for having me on OVER COFFEE today! I really appreciated getting to hang out here and chat with your readers!



Bad things come in threes. In Shady Springs, that includes murder.

Murder Now
Lange Crawford's move to Shady Springs, Pennsylvania, lands her a group of awesome friends, a major crush on songwriter Vaughn, and life in a haunted, 200-year-old farmhouse. It also brings The Hunt: an infamous murder mystery festival where students solve a fake, gruesome murder scheme during the week of Halloween. Well, supposedly fake.  

Murder Then
Weeks before The Hunt, Lange and her friends hold a séance in the farmhouse's eerie barn. When a voice rushes through, whispering haunting words that only she and Vaughn can hear, Lange realizes it's begging for help. The mysterious voice leads Lange and Vaughn to uncover letters and photos left behind by a murdered girl, Ginny, and they become obsessed with her story and the horrifying threats that led to her murder.  

Murder Yet to Come
But someone doesn't like their snooping, and Lange and Vaughn begin receiving the same threats that Ginny once did. The mysterious words from the barn become crucial to figuring out Ginny's past and discovering how their own past is connected to hers. They must work fast to uncover the truth or risk finding out if history really does repeat itself. Excerpt


When Jennifer Walkup isn't writing or reading, she’s spending time with her husband and young sons, listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and coming up with costume ideas for Halloween. She’s obsessed with good coffee and new recipes and likes broccoli on her pizza, flowers in her hair, flip-flops on her feet, and the number 13. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also serves as fiction editor for The Meadowland Review and teaches creative writing at The Writers Circle. Second Verse is her first novel. 

You can find Jennifer: Website, Blog, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Jennifer, it's a pleasure to have you visiting Over Coffee. Enjoyed this chat with you.

I loved the tie in the Epilepsy Awareness Month! It's a worthy cause.

I'll be in and out today since kid has managed to damage his ankle and we're at the doctor for the the second day. I think I'm gonna sleep in that waiting room, lol!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Jennifer what you wrote about your son was so touching and beautiful! Nice to meet you.

Jennifer Walkup said...

Thanks again for having me, Sia! And good luck to your son! Hope the ankle is nothing too painful for him!

Optimistic Existentialist - Thanks so much! And nice to meet you too!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Jennifer, I know the feeling of what if the sequel isn't as good. Just trust your instincts and it will be even better.

Jo said...

I don't understand why some of you over worked writers don't have a cleaner coming in occasionally. No matter how much you "don't stress" about it, it's gotta be a niggle in the back of your mind.

Jennifer Walkup said...

Thanks Alex! I hope you are right!:)

Jo - That sounds like a nice idea. Maybe someday I'll give it a try!:)

Arlee Bird said...

A juggling act always catches my attention.

Nice to meet you, Jennifer, and I wish you success with the book.

Tossing It Out

~Sia McKye~ said...

The kid manage to sprain the ankle and second xray set show no break--originally they thought he had.

Jo--cleaners are around but it depends upon where you live as to the availability of them. Some are quite pricey. When I lived in California I had a woman come in twice a week. I miss that. I was thinking of that again just recently and had a referral to someone nearby. My goal is to have her in once a week. We'll see.

Alex--you did quite well with your sequels and I'm thrilled to hear you're writing and other book!

Keith--it was touching wasn't it? I have to say watching children with various handicaps is inspiring because they usually don't give up. They try everything they can and even those things people think are out of their reach. They teach us to reach and give it our best shot and so what if you fail the first time? You'd be surprised how many times they succeed because they want it. Lesson we can all learn.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hey Lee! Yah, I still wear bruises from dropping those dang balls, lol! Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Jennifer Walkup said...

Thanks so much, Arlee!:)

Sia - glad to hear it wasn't broken! Hope he is up and running soon!

Mark Koopmans said...

That was a grand chat to be shure :)

(It's nice to know there are other parents out there with young boys who can get 'er done...)

There's hope, I say.... hope!!

Mark Koopmans said...

PS.... just reread your comment, Sia... and glad to hear there's no break... (we just got over a broken leg here... and *that* was tough...)