Monday, August 19, 2013

Introducing: Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Dear Imps, I have the pleasure of introducing to you today a new fantasy novelist! I met Jenelle for the first time at my most recent book signing for Dragonwitch, and we chatted a bit about fantasy, writing . . . you know, all my favorite topics. And she graciously agreed to come visit my blog today and tell you a little about her debut novel! I hope you will enjoy. And don't forget to enter your names in the giveaway at the end of the post!

First a little about the book:

When Dark Warriors invade her country, it is up to Princess Kamarie to seek out the legendary king’s warrior and request his aid. The feisty princess has spent her life dreaming of adventure and is thrilled to be tasked with such a quest. However, the adventure merely begins when she meets Brant: a warrior with a mysterious past. He joins her cause readily, his heart smoldering with a vendetta Kamarie cannot completely understand. But whether she trusts him or not, the hope of their world rests on the steel he wears at his side….

And Jenelle herself:

Jenelle grew up the oldest of four children. Every night before bedtime her father read to her and her siblings, and it was during these times that her love for adventure and fantasy were forged. While she adored the stories of the Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Prydain, the Wheel of Time, and the Chronicles of Narnia; it wasn’t long before her imagination led her to the creation of a world and story all her own.
In 2001, Jenelle completed King’s Warrior, originally titled The Dragon’s Eye, as a project for her father who wanted something new and fun to read to the family at night. This first endeavor gave way to the completion of a four book series that is full of the same adventure that Jenelle grew to love in literature as a little girl. Jenelle graduated from Taylor University in Indiana in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in English Education.
Jenelle has written numerous short stories and many poems, as well as some full length work within the realm of science fiction. King’s Warrior is her first published work and she is currently working on bringing the rest of the series to public availability. Jenelle lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband Derek and two little girls Leiana Arwen and Nathalie Eowyn.



 Would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee?
Jenelle: I am first and foremost a Christian. I have a wonderful husband and two adorable little girls (ages 4 and 1) that I stay at home with. I am an outgoing introvert, which basically means that I’m very shy, but I enjoy being around people, especially people I know well like good friends and family.
I’m not much for tea or coffee, actually. But I love hot chocolate.
When it comes to hobbies, my kids keep me pretty busy, but I love reading, watching movies, and cheering for the Cubs, even though they let me down every year. I love being outside: hiking, throwing a frisbee around, kicking a soccer ball. And I have recently been getting back into indoor rock climbing with some friends.

What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller?
Jenelle: I’ve sort of always been a storyteller. I was writing little stories from the moment I could string sentences together in my awkward, child’s handwriting at the age of 6. A good friend and I co-authored a science fiction novel in high school. It took us three years to put together, but it was a lot of fun (and probably atrocious, but we thought it was awesome).
My real writing career, however, began when I came home from college during the summer after my freshman year and my dad said to me one morning, “If you want to be a writer, then you should be writing.” He then challenged me to write an adventure story that he could read out loud to the family over the summer. He asked for “ten pages a night” and said he would pay me a dollar per page and an extra $1,000 if I managed to finish the book before I returned to school.
It was a crazy summer of writing and editing and printing pages, but I managed to do it. I loved the instant feedback from my parents and younger siblings each night. They had quite a lot of input, and the story began to take on a life of its own. One of the best things ever was when my dad would finish reading the last page for that night, and everyone would say, “That’s it?! We need more!!!”
Tell us a little about your debut novel, King’s Warrior. How long did you work on this story? How did the idea come to you? Is it part of a series?
Jenelle: I wrote King’s Warrior in a single summer (and then spent several years editing it). The story sort of started to take shape when I was looking for ideas in my old creative writing journals from high school. There is a pond across the street from my parents’ house, and one morning before school there was all this steam rising up off of it as the sun started to rise over the horizon. I got this mental picture of the sun being a dragon, flying up out of its cave in the morning, and returning to it at night. That image sparked the idea of a myth that a people could have told and a world in which the “sun” was instead called “the dragon’s eye.” From there, the story began to take shape throughout the summer... and it ended up being absolutely nothing like I had expected. I got so much instant feedback from my family that the story and characters just took on a life of their own. For example: Brant, who is the title character, wasn’t really supposed to make it past the first chapter. He was going to be a bit role, not even a secondary character... but at the behest of my family he ends up being the star of the series.
Which brings me to your other question: yes, King’s Warrior is part of a series. It is the first in a four book series (which I’ve been calling a quadrilogy, even though that’s not a real word) called “The Minstrel’s Song.”
Can you pick a favorite character from this story?
Jenelle: Absolutely not. I keep getting asked this question and I try to answer it, and then I feel my other characters’ feelings being hurt when I don’t say their name. I love them all. Brant, Kamarie, Oraeyn, Dylanna, Yole, Arnaud, Zara, Leila, and of course Kiernan Kane, the bumbling minstrel who is more than he seems. They are all my favorites. Kamarie is the one who represents the most of myself, though. She is who I would hope to be if I were a princess in her time faced with the challenges she faces.
What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration?
Jenelle: I get a lot of inspiration from being outside. I like to at least be near a window when I write. I also get inspiration from real-life people and things that happen around me. When none of that works and I need a renewal of inspiration, I tend to talk things out with my husband or my dad. They are both excellent sounding-boards and so incredibly supportive and eager to be helpful. When all else fails, though, I turn to something a little odd. I crank up the Christmas music - usually something like Manheim Steamroller, Jim Brickman, or Collin Raye. I don’t know why it works, but something about it always helps break down the walls and let out the torrent of words.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
Jenelle: I love the planning stages. Those moments when the ideas are flowing and the next story could be about anything at all. I also really enjoy the actual writing. My favorite thing during the writing process is when the story takes off and suddenly something happens that I didn’t plan or intend: a character does something unexpected, or a bit of dialogue takes place that reveals part of the end to me that I didn’t know yet, those moments are pure joy, when the story takes on a life of its own.
My least favorite parts of the writing process would have to be the waiting (waiting to get my editor’s comments, waiting for the book cover to be finished, waiting for my beta readers to finish reading it), and the marketing/promotional stuff. I hate promoting myself. I much prefer promoting others.
If you were forced to pick a single favorite author, who would it be?
Jenelle: Your questions are so hard! I am totally going to cheat on this one. I’d be sorely tempted to say J.R.R. Tolkien, as he inspired a love of fantasy in my heart at a very young age. But if I were forced to pick, I would have to go with Gwen Walker. She was my grandma, and she wrote my favorite book in the world. Ultimately, I would have to credit her with being at least part of the reason I became an author. I believe that my grandparents’ love of the written word permeated the entire family and is at least partially responsible for my love of reading - and, by extension, my love of writing.
So what is next on your publishing horizons? Can we look forward to a sequel to King’s Warrior? Or perhaps something completely new?
Jenelle: The next thing on my horizon is the prequel to King’s Warrior. It is titled Second Son, and should be available in September. Book three (the title is being revealed at the end of Second Son) will be coming in 2014.
What are you actively writing right now?
Jenelle: I am currently writing a completely new series. I just finished the rough draft and am working my way through it once, adding dialogue and various bits that got left out in the first go-round, and then I will send it to my content editor.

Would you share a short snippet from King’s Warrior?
This is my favorite scene in the entire book. It’s from near the beginning of the story:




  “And which way do you think we should follow the river, your highness?” Oraeyn asked through gritted teeth.
      “That way, of course,” Kamarie said, pointing upstream, which she knew full well was the wrong direction, back towards the palace, just to annoy him; it worked.
      “Fine!” Oraeyn exploded. “Have it your way! But when we show up back at the palace, I’m not going to take the blame for getting us lost, I know which way we are supposed to go, and you, apparently, have no experience in following directions at all! You want to go up-river… then… you... go up-river!” He knew he was sputtering, but he no longer cared, “I, on the other hand, am going to go down-river, through the Mountains of Dusk, and into the village called Peak’s Shadow, to find your father’s friend and explain why you are not with me. But I won’t have to explain that will I? Because you know where you’re going. You know your way around, don’t you?”
      “Of course I knew we had to head down-river, stable boy,” Kamarie said in a chilly tone. As he began his tirade, Kamarie was simply amused, but by the time he finished, she was no longer amused and in no mood to explain that she had been teasing.
      At that, Oraeyn completely lost any and all grip he had on his loosely controlled frustration. What right did she have to treat him like this? She was only a princess, after all. And he was a squire, in training to become a defender of her nation. Without people like him, she might have been born a peasant’s daughter. The nerve of her referring to him as a stable boy!
      He dismounted from his chestnut horse and marched over to her. Glaring up at her through the rain that had been pouring down on them all day, he grabbed her arm and yanked her out of the saddle. She let out a startled yelp and started beating on him with her fists. He had to admit, the girl could throw a punch. He swung her into his arms and turned as she started yelling and protesting.
      “Now, young man…” Darby started, but stopped when he threw her a withering glare.
      “I am not going to hurt her. I am just going to teach her that she can’t treat people the way she does and get away with it,” he said.
            He slowly and deliberately carried Kamarie to the riverbank and dumped her into the four feet of chilly, slow-moving water. He watched until she came up, making sure that she was not hurt. Then he turned and walked back to his horse.
LOL! That was fun!
So what do you think, Imps? Are you eager to read Jenelle's novel now and get ready for the sequel? Well, you are in luck! She is offering a giveaway for one lucky winner. Be sure to enter your name below . . . and also, check out her website and facebook page for more information on this exciting series.
Many thanks, Jenelle, for stopping by today!

GIVEAWAY" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway



Clara said...

I was just snooping around on Janelle's website the other day! I'm so glad to get an exerpt from the made me laugh:) This book has me very intrigued, and I would love to win a copy! Thanks for the giveaway!

Sarah Pennington said...

This sounds like an incredible book. I'll have to put it on my to-read list!

Question for Jenelle: what was the hardest part about writing this book?

Unknown said...

This book sounds like so much fun!

Jenelle: How do you write such fun dialogue?

Thanks for dropping by and offering such a wonderful giveaway!

Jenelle Leanne said...

Sarah: The hardest part about writing this book were the times when I wrote my 10 pages and my "instant audience" was not pleased. There were a few sleepless, tear-filled nights during that summer that were spent furiously re-writing certain scenes because my family did not like something a character had done or said. Those re-writes definitely made the story and the characters stronger, though.

Rebeka: Thank you! Dialogue is my favorite thing to write (probably because I also enjoy reading it). It just sort of comes naturally. I picture the scene in my head, often say the lines out loud, and try to imagine what a real person would say or reply in the scenarios my characters end up in. In social situations, I am more of a listener than a talker, which means that I've often spent time in crowded areas just listening to conversations around me, trying to get a feel for the way people talk.

Hannah said...

Sounds like a book I would enjoy! :D
Thank you Anne and Jenelle for the wonderful Q/A! It's always encouraging to hear about another good YA series.

Jenelle, if you were to meet one of your characters, what is some advice you'd really, really like to give him/her?

Anonymous said...

Who are you published with?

Galadriel said...

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

S.F. Gorske said...

Ooh, sounds exciting! I'm always up for a new fantasy read, though I can never seem to quite write it.

Here's my question: How do you drop info that pertains to the history of the story or the story itself for your readers? Through dialogue, action, prose, or something else entirely?

Jenelle Leanne said...

Hannah: If I were to meet one of my characters and be able to give advice... I would probably want to tell Brant that he does not have to bear the weight of everybody else's choices as a burden and remind him that he is only responsible for his own choices and actions.

Anon: I am currently self-published. My family has created a publishing company called Stormcave Studios, and right now I'm the only author... but we hope to open the doors to other authors soon!

Galadriel: I prefer to just dive in and write, allowing the story to take on a life of its own. However, I learned the hard way with King's Warrior that writing without a plan leads to LOTS of editing and re-writing work. Nowadays I'm a plotter/outliner. I still like to let the story surprise me a bit, but I spend a lot more time beforehand working through an outline before I start writing the story.

S.F.: Most of the time I like to drop that sort of info through dialogue - but I find that using a variety of methods is helpful. I'll let a character share their thoughts and perhaps hint at some back-story there, another character will ask a question that leads to the dialogue-driven method, sometimes the info is best laid out in some prose describing what the character is seeing or doing. I guess, mostly, I like to mix it up a bit.

Meredith said...

I really enjoyed your interview. How wonderful that your family is so supportive and encouraging! Your nightly sharing of your story reminded me a lot of Jo March in Little Women. Your book sounds extremely intriguing, and I loved the excerpt. Do you think your story will one day be available on audio? Keep up the outstanding work. Dialogue is my favorite part of writing, too.

Question: What book did your grandmother write?

God bless you.

Jenelle Leanne said...

Meredith: My grandmother (Gwen Walker) wrote "He Whistles for the Cricket" - two Christmases ago I typed it up (the only copies to be had were hard-copy, so I wanted to do that just to make sure it didn't get lost) and then published it (using Createspace's POD service).

We are working on an audio version of King's Warrior - but I have no idea when that will be available.

Dom said...

When you're writing your book is there a specific way you document it? On Microsoft word, a leather journal, ect.

Jenelle Leanne said...

CajunHuntress: I keep most of my writing in Pages on my laptop. However, I do have a leather-bound (or fake leather, perhaps) journal that I keep next to my bed for those moments of inspiration that inevitably spring upon me right before I fall asleep.

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited to read this! Also, I love your daughters' names. Did your grandma ever publish her book?

Jenelle Leanne said...

Anon: Thank you! I love their names, too! My grandma died before she ever saw her book published (when I was 7 years old). I got it published for her two Christmases ago, though! That was pretty exciting for the family.

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask the author what facinates you most about the fantasy genre? Why choose to write in this genre and not something else.

Thanks x

Jenelle Leanne said...

Miss Lucinda: That is an excellent question, and the answer is complex - and many blog-posts-worthy. However, I'll try to condense it.

The fantasy genre was one I grew up with - my dad read many fantasy books to us growing up: Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Prydain, A Wrinkle in Time (just to name a few) - so I was sort of programmed to have a predilection for that genre. It's a love that stayed with me my entire life. It's what I most enjoy reading and have the most familiarity with - so it's only logical to write in that genre.

Things I love about fantasy: the heroic characters that are worth rooting for, the "quest" aspect which often plays a dominant role in the story - which usually starts out as a search for an object or person but almost always ends up being a deeper discovery of some truth or a realization about the character's self.
Also, I love the good vs. evil aspect that most fantasy novels portray - and the lesson that there IS a clearly defined right and wrong in the world - and that standing up for what is right is not always easy, and that doing what is right is often a constant, overwhelming struggle.
Beyond that, I love the imagination and creativity that fantasy stories evoke.
I also love that fantasy is more often than not uplifting in "tone" and that it usually has a happy ending - as I tend to like stories whose endings reflect our own ultimate, victorious ending with Christ - as opposed to stories that reflect the temporary, sometimes bitter or sad endings that I can read about in the news any day of the week.

Okay... sorry for the novel. I've had a number of blog posts percolating on this subject! LOL

J. L. Mbewe said...

I can't think of a questions, but yea for discovering a new author and book series. Putting it on my ever-growing to-read list. :-)

Thanks for sharing!

Diana Wilder said...

Great interview! and I've enjoyed reading about the book. Sign me up!

Diana Wilder About Myself By Myself

Unknown said...

It is a wonderful fun book to read,but who helped you with naming your children

Unknown said...

It is a wonderful fun book to read,but who helped you with naming your children?