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Author on the Couch: Serena Jayne - Abbie Roads
Author on the Couch: Serena Jayne This week’s Author on the Couch is Serena Jayne! *GIVEAWAY* Serena is giving away three Kindle ebook copies of Love Across the Universe: Twelve Stories of Science Fiction Romance Set on Intergalactic Shores Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life. Serena: John Lennon said “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Getting laid off from two jobs in rapid succession had a profound impact on my life. The first one was expected due to a facility closure. I wasn’t happy in that second job. While I was formulating my plans to move on within a few months, I got an early heads up about the layoff. Nearly every member of my work group, including myself, was affected. It was like being in a bad relationship and summoning up the courage to get out–only to be dumped. Every day I went in to work and waited for the axe to fall. Imagine weeks of feeling the rancid breath of the executioner on your neck. Afterward, I wasted way too much energy wallowing in my misery. I channeled some of my angst from the experience into my novella, “You Only Love Once,” which is part of Love Across the Universe: Twelve Stories of Science Fiction Romance Set on Intergalactic Shores. Since that experience, I’m trying harder not to give people power over my sense of self-worth. So many things that happen in life feel personal. Whether they are personal or not, we choose how we let the situation affect us. It’s better to focus on the positive instead of letting negativity destroy us from the inside out. Me: What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author? Serena: I recently took an amazing class from Margie Lawson’s Writing Academy taught by Becca Syme called Write Better Faster. The course focuses on how one’s personality and strengths affect her writing. At the end of the class, each student gets a one-on-one coaching session with Becca, which is in itself worth the price of the class. One of my strengths is empathy, which helps me get into the heads of my characters. Me: What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author? Serena: In Becca’s class, I discovered that our strengths can be a source of weakness. One of my top strengths is “learner,” which allows me to cram interesting things I’ve learned into my stories, but can drag me down a research rabbit hole. This happens especially when I feel the urge to procrastinate due to perfectionism and fear. “You Only Love Once” is my first attempt at science fiction romance and provided many opportunities to spend quality time with my good friend Google. I have to actively force myself not to stop drafting to do research, and to make sure that when I do research, it doesn’t get out of hand. Me: What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest, on cloud nine, flying high? What happened? Serena: Most of my writing projects have been short, anywhere from flash fiction length to short novella length. I recently finished drafting an Urban Fantasy novel. Getting to the end on a project that was more than three times longer than anything I’d written to date was empowering. I learned a great deal from the experience and I hope to focus on novel-length projects in the coming year. When I push myself outside of my comfort zone, my accomplishments are all the sweeter. The same goes with writing in other genres. It feels so good to write “the end” on a different type of story. Me: What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path, a time when you felt really crappy about your writing? What happened? How did you get over it? Serena: I discovered that I didn’t have a robust plotting system to support novel-length projects. After writing over 75,000 words, I ended up scrapping my first attempt. Less than ten percent of the material from the first attempt made it into the second version. I hate killing my darlings and there I was massacring a whole village. Many times I wanted to quit or just move words around in an attempt to make the first version work, but starting over was the right thing to do. I got over it by crying on the shoulders of trusted friends and by boxing, which is a phenomenal way to get out pent up aggression. Nothing feels as satisfying as punching the snot out of a heavy bag. Me: What’s the worst piece of writing advice you were ever given? How did you get beyond it? Serena: Any advice that says there is only one way to do something is bad, in my opinion. For example, only the XYZ plotting method is worth doing. Writers are creative people. Different methods work for each person and sometimes for each project. While I like trying out different methods, I always cringe when people bash certain systems. Every system works for somebody. I’m not a big outliner, but when I write a hundred percent by the seat of my pants, I tend to get off track, so I make bullet points of things I want to accomplish at major plot points and add to it as I go. That system would drive a die-hard outliner crazy, but I’ll use it until I find something that works better. Me: Name a writing pet peeve of yours. Something that hits you like fingernails-on-a-chalkboard every time you see it. Why does it bug you? Serena: Overuse of exclamation points! It bugs me because it’s distracts from the story! Total fingernails-on-a-chalkboard! Me: What’s your writer’s mantra? Why does that mantra speak to you? Serena: My writer’s manta is “Write On!” It focuses me on my goals. No matter what horrible thing happens or no matter how my self-doubt …