SARA Cafe Welcomes Jewel Hart

How did you learn about SARA and what made you want to join?

I’ve always wanted to write but lacked the confidence. After my mom passed three years ago, I needed something to take my mind off missing her and with the encouragement of my husband, decided to give writing a try. When I found SARA on Meetup, I’d already written two 90,000-word manuscripts but I knew they were amateur attempts. As luck would have it, the next SARA meeting was Jolene Navarro’s presentation on plotting. I was so impressed, I went home and joined RWA and SARA that same weekend.

What sub-genre(s) of romance stories do you write?

I write contemporary romance with elements of suspense.

What made you decide to write romance?

I had plenty of inspiration from my real-life hero, my husband and, honestly, I thought writing romance would be easier than other genres. Boy, was I wrong. I think the misconception started when I read some poorly edited indie romance novels that I liked despite the distractions. I figured, if I’m enjoying these rough novels, somebody might want to read one of mine.

What do you think is the most misconceived idea readers have about romance writers?

Based on reactions when I reveal that I write romance, readers seem to assume we aren’t good writers. Ironically, writing to evoke the range of emotions in the average romance novel is extremely challenging.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given or read about writing?

The best advice I’ve been given is to keep writing. It seems so simple but writing is one of those things that really does improve with practice.

What writer(s) inspired you to try your hand at writing as well?

I’d like to say something really classy like Jane Eyre or Edgar Allen Poe, but, if they were my true inspirations, I’d be frozen at the gate. It would be too daunting. Instead, my inspirations are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, David Baldacci, Kristen Ashley, and Jay Crownover. They write about their hometowns in a way that sparked something in me. Someday, I hope people will see my Texas the way we see King’s Maine, or Ashley’s Colorado.

What is the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?

I don’t read many craft books cover to cover, however, I did enjoy Stephen King’s On Writing.

Are you a pantser or are you an outliner? Why?

I’m a pantser because my thoughts aren’t very organized. They’re more like a kaleidoscope and I have to keep turning the story until the pieces start to fall into place.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Dialog? Tension, etc?

The hardest part of writing is keeping all of the details straight. I’m afraid I’ll leave out something important.

What is the biggest surprise and/or frustration you’ve learned in the writing/publishing process?

The biggest surprise is how supportive other writers have been. In other competitive markets, those who have succeeded are reluctant to share the secrets of their success because they don’t want to get knocked down the ladder. The other writers I’ve met seem excited to pull everyone along with them.

Is there a genre you wish you could write in, but never will? Which one?

It’s not really a genre, but I always dreamed of writing lyrics for songs. I never will because I have no rhythm and because I can’t get past nursery rhyme patterns. Imagine a whole bunch of rock and country songs that are in the meter for Mary, Mary, Little Lamb.

What would happen if you didn’t write?

Writing quells a nervous energy I didn’t recognize before I started. I don’t know what would happen if I stopped because I don’t think I can. Even when I’m not pounding on the keyboard, I’m thinking about my characters and how to ruin/rescue them. It’s not something that can be turned off.

We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of one you’ve had, and how you learned to write past it.

Most of the rejections I’ve experienced have been incredibly kind and/or helpful. When I receive a rejection that is less kind, I focus on the positives. I’m not one to stay in a funk over a few naysayers. All I can do is keep working to improve.

What do you see as your writing goals 5 years from now?

I’d like to see my first romance series published and I’d like to branch out into other genres as well. I’d love to write a thriller and my husband has suggested we collaborate on a book of relationship advice for our friends.

Any other tips or words you’d like to share about writing?

I saw a meme once that said, “There is no wrong or right, just write.”  If I didn’t believe that, I’d never have started writing in the first place.

Photo by Nancie J Photography.