Today we’re welcoming CR-RWA’s own Jenna Kendrick to the chapter blog! Jenna writes male/male new adult and contemporary romance, which also happens to be her favorite genre to read. She began writing in college, but put it aside to work in a variety of other fields, including authoring numerous technical books under another name. Now she’s back to writing fiction, with three releases planned for 2015.
Cara: Hi, Jenna! I’m so happy to have you here on the blog! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your path to publication? And be sure to share some of your hard-earned wisdom about writing.
Jenna: Hi, Cara! Thank you so much for inviting me!
I joined CR-RWA in January 2007, soon after moving to the Albany area from Phoenix, Arizona. RWA has helped me stay connected to the romance writer community through multiple cross-country moves.
I wrote my first romance novel on a dare from a friend after a conversation about what we’d have done differently with a story by a favorite author. That challenge got me hooked on writing romance.
I came close to a sale to a major publishing house only to find my book orphaned before the contract was signed. I even stepped away from romance for several years and focused on tech books, writing twelve books under my own name and ghostwriting many more. But I never stopped reading romance and feeling the pull to return to writing in my favorite genre.
I’ve spent the past year returning to my writing roots in romance. In addition to the short story, I released a novel titled Stuck with You in late October. I also have a novella entitled “The Eighth Night” coming out in November in the Home for the Holidays anthology, the proceeds of which are being donated to the Ali Forney Center to help homeless LGBTQ youth.
When I first began writing, my stories featured male/female primary characters, but they always had LGBTQ secondary characters and often included subplots giving those characters their own romantic HEA. Those side stories tended to take on a life of their own, and I would sometimes find myself neglecting my original manuscript in favor of going down the rabbit hole with my secondary characters.
Reading my first male/male romance, Collision Course by our chapter-mate KA Mitchell, was revelatory. I had no idea I could turn the side tales I was crafting for myself into entire books that others might read! Writing gay romance has helped me discover my voice as a writer, and I’m happier writing in this subgenre than I’ve ever been.
If I could offer one piece of advice for other writers, it would be to write from the heart. Following trends or trying to force yourself to write stories for which you have no affinity makes for being miserable as a writer. And readers can tell. Find your niche, hone your craft, and write your book.
Cara: That’s great advice, Jenna. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us. Good luck with your upcoming 2015 releases. We’ll be watching for more books from you in 2016!