Writer’s Desk: Jen Turano
Named one of the funniest voices in inspirational romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, Colorado.
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More about A Match in the Making
Miss Gwendolyn Brinley accepted a temporary paid companion position for the Newport summer season, believing it would be a lark to spend the summer in America’s most exclusive town. She suddenly finds her summer turning anything but amusing when her employer expects her to take over responsibilities as an assistant matchmaker. Tasked with the daunting prospect of attaining advantageous matches for her clients, Gwendolyn soon finds herself in the employ of Mr. Walter Townsend, the catch of the Season, but a gentleman Gwendolyn finds beyond irritating.
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Q&A with Jen Turano
TG: Everyone always asks for an interesting fact, we’re going to flip the question. What is one boring fact about yourself?
JT: I make my bed every day first thing because it’s one of those things that would drive me crazy if I didn’t, but I don’t actually like making beds, which is why I’ve adopted the get things out of the way you don’t care to do first thing in the morning. That strategy works for loading the dishwasher as well.
TG: Where did you get the inspiration for A Match in the Making?
JT: I’ve been meaning to do a matchmaking series forever, but I just couldn’t figure out how to make the stories unusual. I didn’t want to go with your standard matchmaker takes on impressionable young lady in need of a proper husband storyline, so I’d put the idea on hold. It wasn’t until I was out on the trail one miserable day with my neurotic cattle dog, Remee, who refused to get out of a very muddy stream, which left me dawdling in the rain with plenty of time to ponder things, that an image sprang to mind. In that image, I saw a rather harried young woman who was at her wits’ end because she’d been thrust into the role of assistant matchmaker due to unforeseen circumstances. She had no experience with such a position and was actually considered a confirmed spinster with relatively little interaction with gentlemen in general. By the time I tugged a reluctant Remee home, I had the bones of an entire series festering in my mind, and things just took off from there for the first book—A Match in the Making.
TG: Do you have any habits or rituals as a writer?
JT: If I’m writing a first draft, I always go back and read the last chapter I wrote before I start a new one. That resets the story and reminds me exactly where I wanted to go with the storyline. I also always pull out the vacuum when I’m plotting because mindless tasks help me figure out plot twists.
TG: What habits would you encourage others to take up to be more productive writers?
JT: When I was first starting out and didn’t have official deadlines, I always had a word-count goal for the day. I wouldn’t shut down my computer until I reached that goal, and it didn’t matter if the words were good, it was simply a way for me to get through a chapter, which I could go back the next day and tweak. I still do this if I’m feeling distracted, although since I normally have rather daunting deadlines, those seem to keep me on track.
TG: What do you snack on or drink while writing?
JT: I don’t snack when I’m writing, and I only keep a water bottle handy in case I get thirsty. Writing is a very sedentary job, and the older I get, well, I can look at a potato chip and it’ll attach itself to my hips so . . . unfortunately, no snacking for me these days.
TG: How do you overcome writer’s block?
JT: When I get stuck, I don’t consider it writer’s block. It’s more a case of just really bad writing. I know it’s coming on because it begins to feel as if I’m writing through mud, but I’m stubborn, so even after all these years, I’ll just keep trying to make a plot point work even though I know it’s total rubbish. I eventually reach a point where I’m unable to continue, and that’s when I pull out the vacuum or put on my completely nerdy over-the-ears headphones and rock out to some vintage ‘80’s or, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll listen to current rock, although I normally have no idea who the bands are. Doing that seems to give me the incentive I need to embrace the whole idea of the delete button. After I take a deep breath and begin deleting entire chapters, wincing every other page, I finally get to a point where the writing isn’t horrible and start from that point to try again. I don’t save any of the work I delete from my draft because, if I think something’s really funny even if it’s not working, if I’d save that part, I’d try to fit it in somewhere else—then the deleting business would definitely come back into play.
TG: Are you an “edit-as-you-go” writer or do you wait until the very end before you do any editing?
JT: I’m definitely an edit-as-I-go writer. I always reread the last chapter I wrote before I start a new one, and then, when I have about five chapters done, I go back to read those and make adjustments. I have a seven-step editing process I do before I turn in my novel to my editing team. As I’m writing, I do about three edits, but after I complete the book, I then read it completely through, make changes, then read it out loud. After that, I print it, read it out loud again, make more changes, enter those in the computer, then read it about two more times before it’s ready to go. My editors then send me their developmental suggestions, which means I’ll rewrite sections of the book yet again.
TG: What would you say is the most common mistake new writers make?
JT: Comparing their writing with other writers or trying to mimic the writing style of an author they admire. Every writer has their own unique voice. Embrace that, and don’t worry about what other writers are writing or how fast anyone writes. Everyone has their own methods. You simply need to find what works for you and go with that.
TG: What is the best piece of writing advice you’re ever received?
JT: Realize that your first draft is going to be horrible, but it’s just a skeleton of a story and you’ll flesh it out as you edit.
TG: What is coming up next for you?
JT: I’m just wrapping up developmental edits for the second book in the matchmaking series, To Spark a Match. After I turn those in, I’ll be returning to the first draft of the third and final book, which is turning super fun because I’m taking my heroine, Miss Camilla Pierpont, down to Wheeling, WV, which is twelve miles from where I grew up.
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