AN INTERVIEW WITH JEAN C. GORDON by Thomasine Rappold
As a founding member of the Capital Region Romance Writers, Jean C. Gordon has been instrumental in growing the chapter. Through the years, she’s remained an active member, serving on the board for several terms, volunteering on committees and panels, and presenting numerous workshops, including her popular Gone in 60 Minutes synopsis workshop.
Thank you, Jean, for taking time from your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions about yourself and your thriving career as a romance writer!
Jean C. Gordon’s writing is a natural extension of her love of reading. From that day in first grade when she realized t-h-e was the word “the,” she’s been reading everything she can put her hands on. A professional financial planner and editor for a financial publisher, Jean is as at home writing retirement- and investment-planning advice as she is writing romance novels, but finds novels a lot more fun.
She and her college-sweetheart husband tried the city life in Los Angeles, but quickly returned home to their native Upstate New York. They share a 170-year-old farmhouse just south of Albany, NY, with their daughter and son-in-law, two grandchildren, and a menagerie of pets. Their son lives nearby. While Jean creates stories, her family grows organic fruits and vegetables and tends the livestock de jour.
1. When did you join CR-RWA, and how has membership affected your career as a writer?
I was one of the four people who started CR-RWA in March 2002. The only other founding member who’s still a member is Tracey Lyons. Belonging to CR-RWA has definitely helped me move ahead in my romance writing career. I’ve learned so much about romance writing and the publishing industry from CR-RWA members and our speakers. Most important of all, I met my critique partners through CR-RWA: Ursula Bauer, KA Mitchell, Thomasine Rappold, and Bonnie Hazard.
2. What made you want to write romance?
I didn’t start reading romance until I was in my 30s. I fell in love with the stories and began reviewing romances for a now-defunct magazine. I couldn’t think of any better career than writing romances, although it’s taken a long time to be able to call it a career, even a part-time one.
3. Tell us about your path to publication. What have you published to date?
I started writing sweet romance with the hopes of publishing with Silhouette Romance. While trying to get my foot in there — which I never did — I sold the five books I ostensibly wrote for SR from 1998 through 2008 to Avalon Books, a hardcover library publisher. Avalon has since been bought by Amazon Publishing, and all five books have been rereleased as Kindle ebooks, with the last two as paperbacks, as well. I also wrote a historical Viking romance set in Tenth Century Scotland, which was published by Cerridwen Press. I have since gotten my rights back for that book and released it as an ebook in numerous formats, including Kindle and Nook. An artist friend did the cover, which I love. I started writing for Love Inspired in 2011, have published four books with Love Inspired, and have a new contract for three more.
Don’t hate me. I’ve sold every book I’ve written, except my book of the heart. Like many books of the heart, it has unusual elements that make it a hard sell. After making the rounds of all the major inspirational publishers, my agent has it out at a new one, Amazon Publishing’s Waterfall imprint. If we don’t make a sale there, I’ll probably self-publish it.
Mandy and the Mayor
4. Do you have an agent?
Yes, I’m represented by the lovely Diana Flegal, who’s with the Hartline Literary Agency. I was one of her first authors. Although, I got a request for my first Love Inspired book, Small-Town Sweethearts from a Harlequin Love Inspired editor at the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, I believe having Diana submit it on my behalf got it read sooner and helped me get my start with Love Inspired.
5. Do you belong to a critique group?
I belong to the best critique group. One of the things that makes it so valuable, IMHO, is that we all write in different sub-genres, which provides diverse insights. And, I know if everyone has a problem with something, it’s a real problem.
6. Tell us three surprising things about yourself.
I always answer this question when it’s asked in a blog interview: (1) I love riding rollercoasters, (2) I was the runner-up Wyoming County (NY) Maple Syrup Princess when I was a senior in high school, and (2) two days after we married, my husband and I drove cross-country from WNY to Los Angeles for college in a Ford 150 van that carried his motorcycle and the spinet piano that I’d played since I was seven or eight, along with our other belongings.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep an open mind to advice and critiques by your critique partners or beta readers and changes requested by agents and editors who have read your story. The agents and editors, in particular, are trying to make your book better. But remember it’s your story. And, once you’re published, remember your editor is your friend, not your adversary. I can’t tell you how may aha story moments I’ve had triggered by comments from my Love Inspired editors.
To learn more about Jean, visit her website at JeanCGordon.com.