SARA Welcomes Jolene Navarro

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

I joined in 2009 (or somewhere around that time). I decided to stop talking and dreaming about things I would do one day and do them now. I teach art and wanted to see what it took to finish and publish one of the stories that bounced around in my head. A search online led me to Romance Writers of America, and from there I found a chapter in San Antonio (SARA). The fun part is they were doing a workshop called “Build a Book” in my town of Boerne. The stars were aligned.

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

I write inspirational contemporary and historical.

What made you decide to write romance?

There was no other choice for me. I was around 12 when I read my first one and have been hooked ever since (all horse book before then). It’s the stories my brain makes up. A good emotional read that takes you to the edge of a broken heart then pulls it all together at the end with a happy ever after. I have to have a happy ending. Sigh!

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

That it’s easy. We just sit down and write, maybe toss a few bonbons in our mouth and get our toenails done (hehe).  Then the story just flows from our brain through our fingers to the keyboard, onto the shelves, and the books fly off.  Easy-smeasy.

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

To keep writing. To be prepared for rejection at all stages of the game and come ready to persevere. Persistence is the key to a real career. Never stop learning and growing and write. Write one story finish it and move on to the next. Know your hooks. (from Jodi Thomas & My Editor, Emily Rodmell)

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

On Writing by Stephen King is a great read for overall knowledge. For my go-to over and over again while I’m writing is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. For really understanding the whole process of creating a complete well-written story is the seven-books-in-one (tons of information from premises to movie examples of turning points and elements) STEALING HOLLYWOOD: Story Structure Secrets for Writing Your BEST Book by Alexandra Sokoloff.

 Are you a “pantser” or are you an outliner?

I like to brainstorm ideas and characters, then I use a storyboard to create a general path for my characters’ development (How will they move from false identity to true essence). I will use the call to adventure/inciting incident, the mid-point game changer and the black moment to make sure I have enough story. Then I start writing and discover new details along the way. So happy you didn’t use the term plotter – as writers we all plot -–just in different ways.

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

The actual act of writing. I’m dysgraphic, so the output of language kills my creative brain. I work hard to get it right (clear communication is important) I envy writers that can correct as they go – but I would never be able to finish. It takes me about two months to write a story – over a month to edit, and I have to have at least two others read it before I turn it into my editor.

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

Because of the dysgraphia, I didn’t think I would ever be able to join the ranks of published authors. But there are ways to get things done if you want it bad enough. Also how hard it is to get your book seen. Publishing your book is only the beginning, it does not mean it is going to sell.

What would happen if you didn’t write?

I would have sticky notes and scraps of paper all over the place with story ideas. My brain would be in overdrive, sleep would be out of my reach. The story ideas would keep me awake at night and haunt me during the day if I tried to stop.

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to move past one of yours?

When I took my first finished book out and met with an agent – she liked it and sent it to an editor, and she liked it (with some revisions). So I thought this is easy – I know what I’m doing. She bought my second story. Feeling confident, I sent in my third book, she said no. Same thing happened again with my second historical. It was a sequel, and I thought it would be an easy sell. Not only did my editor say no, but she said not to send it back in any form. It is hard to put a story aside after you invested so much time and heart into it, but I brainstormed another story and started writing. I moved on. As you read this, I’m waiting to hear back from my editor about my last proposal. Hopefully, it’s not another rejection.

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

I want to diversify. Explore the indie market and other avenues outside of Love Inspired. I love writing for them, but in today’s market, I think you need different sources of publication.

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

Make sure you always enjoy the process, because the business of writing can be brutal. Creating worlds that others can see is pure magic. And remember the world needs more love!

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