Meet the Team Tuesday: Shannon

This wonderful lady is not only one of my best friends, but she is also my second editor, my self-proclaimed publicist, and one of my biggest fans.

I cannot edit my own writing. I just can’t. I miss too many things, because my brain fills in what is supposed to be there, and that makes it hard to catch things like punctuation errors, spelling mistakes, inconsistencies, and words that have been accidentally left out.

I could not be as proud of my finished product as I am, without knowing that Shannon has gone over it with a fine tooth comb (and a red pen). She not only catches all my mistakes, but she also leaves me amusing comments in the margins such as “I’m hungry,” whenever I mention food, “you’re a jerk” whenever I kill a character, and super random remarks such as “I like cheese.” These are not only entertaining, but they make going through and fixing the actual errors she caught fun, and more like a treasure hunt than actual work.

Besides all this: she has recommended my book to countless people, included information about my book in her Christmas letters, and just generally encourages me through comments and emails. Thank you, Shannon!

~ jenelle

Two Things I Never Knew I’d Fall in Love With

I was thinking the other day about certain things I’ve done in the past year or two that are very “new” and different for me as a writer.

~Writing song lyrics for my musician sister
~Working with my artist sister-in-law on creating a new book cover

Both of these things were never really things I had thought about much before. Sure, I’d written poetry before, and I’d thought that eventually all my books would need covers… but neither of these was high on my list of “things I’d love to do.”

Well, these are now both on my list of “things I LOVE to do.”


Because writing music and creating a piece of art are both things that I have no talent for. I can’t write music. I can’t even make up convincing tunes for my 2 year old when she asks me to “sing the milk song” … a song that, as far as I know, doesn’t exist, so I have to make up on the fly music and lyrics for it. This is generally a huge hit with her, but I am intelligent enough to realize that is only because I am her Mommy.

And yet, it is really fun to be a part of both, even if only in small ways. I discovered a year or two ago, that one of the most amazing things in the world is to write a set of lyrics for my sister and then get that set of lyrics back from her on a CD in a beautiful melody, sung in her gorgeous voice, accompanied by various instruments.

What I write is just a poem. What she creates with those words is Music.

With the cover of my book. I gave Angelina a general description of the image I had in my head for the cover. “Guy standing with his back to us, holding a sword. Mountains. Clouds. A dragon somewhere.” (ok, I gave her a few more details than that… but not many).

What she painted for me was a masterpiece. An amazingly beautiful, intricately detailed image that looked like she had snipped it neatly out of my imagination and placed it on the canvas.

What I had in my head was just an image. What she created from that image was Art.

And although I’m certain I’m not the easiest person to work with (because, 1) we live 2700 miles apart, and 2) we’ve gotten into the teeny tiny nit-picky details of font color, and logo placement…) I hope she knows I am only nit-picky about THOSE details because I don’t want anything to detract from the painting behind the title.

~ jenelle

Meet the Team Tuesday: Derek

There would definitely be no writing done in this house if I did not have my husband on my team. Not only does he encourage me to keep writing, challenge me to write new things, and generally support all my dreams of someday being a well-known author… he also helps me with certain technical details in my stories that aren’t always my strong suit.
For example, in the midst of all this publishing craziness (recovering, rewriting, and republishing King’s Warrior), he has been creating a new world for me to write about. About 6 years ago, Derek started creating a map and a history for a new fantasy world called Aelon Ere. After much persuading on his part, I finally agreed to write a story for this world. I had hesitated to jump in and write the story, because I didn’t want to write it “wrong”… you know, since the world/history was his creation to begin with. But he finally convinced me that he had no interest in writing a story, he just enjoyed working on the technical details (the map, the history, and brainstorming with me about what the story should be about, etc).
Derek is my “idea guy” – on a vacation we took into the mountains of Tennessee, we spent most of the drive discussing/brainstorming about what story I should write in the world of Aelon Ere. During that conversation, the history of the world underwent some drastic changes, and the story I could write began to unfold. I have learned from him the importance of getting a fresh set of eyes (or a fresh brain) to work on a problem. He also helps me out with things like battle strategy, and sketching out vehicles/technology (if any exist in a particular world).
I know that I couldn’t write without my husband’s support. I am so thankful for his encouragement and his enthusiasm for what I do, and for how he challenges me to grow and become better at my craft.

~ jenelle

Meet the Team Tuesday: Angelina

Apparently I need to do a better job taking pictures of people by themselves, most of my pictures have multiple people in them.

Anyway, today’s meet the team post is about my cover artist! This gal is just so talented! I can’t wait to post pictures of the finished cover (coming soon!!!) I asked her if she would be willing to design a new cover for my books back around Christmas of 2010, and was so delighted when she said she’d be interested in that.

Over Christmas, I mentioned liking Alan Lee’s stuff he did for The Lord of the Rings, so she taught herself how to watercolor and painted me a superb cover for my book. (I really didn’t mean she had to use watercolor, as I have no understanding of/preference for art mediums, but that’s the sort of attention to detail she puts into her work). The time-consuming part lately has been adding the text and getting the colors/fonts to go well with the colors of the painting. Also, she sometimes forgets to put her name on the back (e.g. “cover art by…”) and I have to tell her that it’s important to me that she gets credit. :) Especially since I. Cannot. Draw. Really, just ask any of my former students, they’ll tell you something about how Mrs. Schmidt can’t even draw convincing stick figures. So the cover is DEFINITELY not something I could ever create for myself!

I really just cannot wait to show you the new cover. The original cover was awesome, but there’s something about knowing that this cover was hand-painted specifically for my book that is just priceless. And the best part of all this is, Angelina is my sister-in-law! :) So not only do I love her because she’s talented and willing to design my cover-art, but I also love her because she’s my sister! Having a supportive family is by far one of the most important aspects of my writing process.

~ jenelle