JEWEL BRENNAN

Author/Editor

Nouveau Roman Publishing

 

Interview by Carol Givner



What influenced you to become an editor?


The biggest factor would have to be the Internet. That probably sounds strange unless you consider the Internet and writing as synonymous. When I discovered the net, I also found a world of writers. These writers were not just romance writers; they were a godsend to a very naïve writer. Suddenly, at my fingertips were the answers to every writing question I'd ever thought to ask, and more. I wanted to give back some of the knowledge, time and effort these wonderful people extended my way.


Which publications do you edit?


Currently I am Feature Editor of the Out Of This World (OOTW) newsletter for FF&P, the Fantasy, Futuristic (Time Travel) and Paranormal genre sub-chapter of RWA. I also edit/critique submissions for Nouveau Roman Publishing.


Which genres do you write in? How long have you been writing?


Is there any other genre than ROMANCE? I'm kidding, partly. Romance is my genre. I do write in different sub-genres of Romance: historic, contemporary, women-in-jeopardy, paranormal and my all time favorite --Time Travels!

In my youth I wrote stories, but I don't know if I wrote as much as I read. Books were my life. I read everything from John Steinbeck, James Fenimore Cooper to Louisa May Alcott. My first romance novels were those Army nurse stories and from there I progressed to Gothic novels. By my mid-twenties I read romance novels. The more I read, the more they seemed to be the same. I told myself I could write a better story and so I did. I kept on writing and have been writing romance novels since 1983.


Tell us about Nouveau Roman Publishing!


Nouveau Roman Publishing (NRP) is the strange, yet wonderful gift from my hero, my husband. Actually, if he were honest he'd admit to giving me this Website to stop my whining. An author of over ten completed novels with no one to read them can carry on a bit. She gets even louder in her ravings when told that her submissions don't fit the guidelines, even the push-the-envelope ones. I mean what editor wants a book where the two MCs (Main Characters) are separated for more than a couple of pages. Or Paranormal crossed over into Romance. Heaven forbid that there be more than one hero for the heroine to decide between. Or that some of the harsher realities of life befall our heroine.


Okay, I'll stop, but you can see why he'd create the site where an author
can reach out and get readers for their books. NRP is a free service to bring an author's work to the readers. The authors are in complete control; they do the mailings of their work and handle all communication with their readers. The site is used as a central meeting place for authors to post a novel excerpt for interested readers to read and sign up to receive the novel. The author can use the reader's feedback to help polish their manuscript for submission to publishers.


NRP has been in operation for a year and a complete success. The goal to build a solid reader base is working. I can't think of anything more valuable to me as an author than the feedback from my readers. My personal success is that I have learned I "am" a storyteller . . .. Stop in for a visit: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Gallery/3172/nrhome.html


What makes a good manuscript? An inadequate one?


Ah, the tough question and the answer is strictly my opinion. A good manuscript would have strong characters in a believable story. I would want to see what they see, walk inside their lives and feel the grass tickle their toes. When a shiver of fright races up their spine I want to grasp for breath and bite my tongue. The little things she thinks about the hero will make me feel warm all over and I'll sigh from longing as he whispers his secret love for her in my ear. And when that nasty badman tries to destroy their blossoming love, I'll be right there cheering the hero on to save his love. On the side I'll be holding my breath and hoping that the heroine is strong enough to save herself, just in case. And as I read the last line I'll savor every word and wish there were more chapters.


So if a manuscript doesn't give me multiple POVs (Point of Views) while using all five senses to bring depth to the characters and their story, I probably won't read any further.


What do you think will be the future of electronic publishing?


Being involved as much as I am with the net and the writer communities on the net, I probably have a different outlook on Electronic Publishing than most. NRP is a form of Electronic Publishing, but it is not a true publisher nor has it ever claimed to be. No, my insight comes from people involved in this medium on a daily basis. Electronic Publishing is a marvelous thing to watch. It is growing in leaps and bounds. We can accept its existence and try to mold it in to a respectable entity. Or we can pretend it is only a fad and while putting on the blinders we will let the current paper publishing houses take control.


Oh, I'm sorry, didn't anyone mention that the paper publishers were involved in Electronic Publishing? If you weren't aware of this fact, you will be and soon. You see Electronic Publishing is a very inexpensive medium when compared to regular publishing. It also reaches a World Wide audience --immediately--! Publishers are blowing the dust off out of print books and releasing them in electronic form on the net. From an economic viewpoint it's a sure winner.


I believe the Romance Genre will be affected by the coming changes more than any other publishing genre. What worries me is how they will be affected. I say this because Romance writers have had over two years to develop writing communities on the net. These are very strong and competent groups of writers. To use a conservative estimate, I would say seventy-percent or more are members of RWA. Whether they are publishing electronically or not, they are involved on a daily basis with this medium. It's not surprising to find the majority of the electronic books on the net are of the Romance genre. They do and will have a voice in Electronic Publishing. The question is will that voice be heard in time.


How does editing "Out of This World" differ from editing your web site and your novels?


The two are miles apart and in some ways the same. Editing an article is more on the technical end. I have to consider word count/space, continuity of the subject, grammar and spelling, tenses and the voice. All these areas are involved in editing a novel, but in a different way.


Editing a novel is more complex. It's taking all aspects in at once and making sure they work together. A fiction book edit involves plot pacing, character development and depth (are they real), maintaining the characteristics of the MCs as they mature in the story (if a character is deathly afraid of water it would look strange for them to suddenly take a swim in the ocean), development of conflict, building a believable plot, use of dialogue and narrative, and resolution to conflicts. There are probably some I forgot to mention. Regardless, all this needs to be believable and work together. One last point, I am very cautious not to impose my style/writing-preference onto the pages I'm editing. Authors have their own voice and it should be respected.

Would you advise every author to have a website? Be a part of webrings?


A website is a wonderful way to express yourself on the net. They can be fun and once the initial process of learning how to make a site is over, it takes very little time to maintain. The learning curve is a little steep at first but well worth the effort. If you do want to try a website don't be afraid to ask for help. The net is a great place to make friends and find others of like interests.


An author can use a website as a showcase of their work. I think it is a very effective way for a published author to get their novels out in front of the public. You don't have to be published to have a website. As a writer you can show off excerpts of your WIP (work in process) or of your finished novels. A word of warning; don't get carried away and post too much of the work. I believe the first chapter is acceptable, much more than that might turn a publisher off.


Webrings are the most effective way to bring people to you site. They are free and there are many different rings of like interest to join. The search engines are too difficult to get on and stay on, to be of any use to a non-commercial site.

Are you involved in any new projects?


Always My main project other than NRP and my writing is Romance Foretold. This is a writing and art community made up of various writing genres, readers and artists. The website is set up like a castle with realms. Each Realm is a writing genre or artist colony. There is something for everyone. Some of the Writing Realms are the Gothic, Historic, Victorian, Regency, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy Realms. It's huge; the Readers' Realm is over a thousand pages. You can try it out for a month for free, so stop in and look around. http://www.webcom.com/ginawp/home.html

What advice would you give to writers to help us perfect our craft?


Join a critique group and network. I can't emphasize how important this is to a writer's development. The feedback on your writing and support from a group are invaluable to your success. If you belonged to one before and it wasn't right, don't let it stop you from finding another one.


Also, if possible get to a computer and then get on the net. It is a whole new world. You will learn more about the craft of writing in a couple months on the net, than you've learned in a year or two of classes and books.


What else would you like to tell us?


Believe in yourself.


Since this interview Jewel has resigned from OOTW as Feature Editor to devote more time to her novels and Nouveau Roman Publishing.