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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Interview with Author, J E Taylor

J.E. Taylor is a writer, an editor, a manuscript formatter, a mother, a wife and a business analyst, not necessarily in that order.
She first sat down to seriously write in February of 2007 after her daughter asked:
"Mom, if you could do anything, what would you do?"
From that moment on, she hasn't looked back and now her writing resume includes four novels either published or targeted for release in late 2010 and early 2011 along with several short stories on the virtual shelves including a few within upcoming eXcessica anthologies.
Her first book, DARK RECKONING was released by FIDO Publishing on July 5, 2010 and introduced Special Agent Steve Williams to the masses.  The follow up VENGEANCE was released on November 1, 2010.
She also released her first erotic thriller in July 2010 - SURVIVAL GAMES, which received a Grade-A Recommended Read from Romance At Heart.  The final two books in the Games Trilogy - MIND GAMES and END GAME will be released in November 2010 and February 2011 by eXcessica.
Ms. Taylor moonlights as an Assistant Editor of Allegory, an online venue for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, and as a "slush slasher" for Dark Recesses, an online venue for literary horror. She also lends a hand in formatting manuscripts for eXcessica as well as offering her services judging writing contests for various RWA chapters.
She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children and during the summer months enjoys her weekends on the shore in southern Maine.


Tell us about Vengeance in a few sentences.

After an undercover bust goes to hell, Special Agent Steve Williams becomes the target of an assassin and his wife’s visions escalate, forecasting a brutal assault on their family. Escaping from the city and armed with scant details from Jennifer’s dreams, Steve trudges through a litany of past connections, searching for the key to stop the course of fate.  A brother with a grudge, a serial killer and a mafia assassin are all on his trail and the hunt begins . . .


Where and when is your novel set and why did you make these specific choices?

Vengeance takes place in modern times and the first half takes place in New York City and the second half takes place in Brooksfield, New Hampshire with a quick cameo in Italy.   I happen to love New York City and what better place to be as a backdrop for my FBI agent to go undercover in a drug ring.   


How can people buy your books?

Both my e-books and paperbacks can be found on Amazon and the quickest way to find them all is through my Amazon page here:  Amazon.com: J. E. Taylor: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle. 

I also have a slew of short stories on Smashwords ranging from middle grade all the way to erotic romance.  You can also obtain a copy of my full length novels here in e-book format:  http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JETaylor75

Another avenue for purchase is through my publishers websites:


What qualities make a successful writer?

Beyond raw talent, I believe a writer has to have patience to wait until they are sure the story is the cleanest it possibly can be before sending it on the agent query-go-rounds, tenacity and thick skin to get through the hard times, the rejections and the less than glowing reviews.  They need to be open to critique partner feedback and editors rewrite suggestions but they also need to have enough of a backbone to stand up for a passage they believe in – as long as it moves the story forward.  If a passage doesn’t move the story forward, they can’t be so in love with their words that they refuse to cut these extraneous babies out.  

So in a nutshell:  Talent, patience, tenacity, thick skin, open to different ideas and flexibility.   



Beginning writers make many mistakes; what do you think is the most harmful?

Querying before they are ready.  This can kill any chance the writer has of getting their dream agent.   Get yourself in a writing group or a good critique group – one that will be honest about where you need to focus your efforts but won’t cut you a new one just for the hell of it and then submit your query.  All the critiques you receive will give you a clue as to what is wrong (or right) with your query and will lead you into areas you need clarification.  In diverse groups, you will get different and often conflicting critiques, but try to look at the underlying problem – not necessarily what the person is pointing you toward. (i.e. it isn’t compelling enough,  it’s too Hollywood – things like that.)


To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?

Huge – at least from an editorial standpoint.  It is very frustrating to review a piece where spelling errors are rampant or grammatical errors leave you scratching your head as to the meaning of the sentence. 

I will reject work if it isn’t clean.  That’s not to say a mistake here and there, I’m talking repeat errors – things easily caught by spell check or by reading the story aloud.  It irks me so yes - I think it’s very important. 



How do you know where to begin any given story?

Me personally?  Well, I just start it where it begins in my head.  Then I test out the beginning to see if it makes sense and if it really matters to the story.  If it doesn’t, then I cut it or move the timeline back to a point where it does make sense.  

I think that’s the key.  I’ve seen situations - and experienced some of my own early on - where I’ve looked at the submission and thought it was laden with back-story.  Those are the situations where it’s wrong.  The writer shouldn’t stack the beginning like that – it slows down the momentum and that’s a dream killer.

Start with the action – the hook – the mystery that will make the reader turn the page and pepper back-story throughout the first hundred pages instead of using an info dump.     


Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?

Yes, yes and yes.   I found the best writing group on the planet.  Backspace (www.bksp.org) and through that venue have found the most shrewd and supportive writers in all walks of publication, from award winning New York Times selling authors to the newbies on the block along with agents and editors and public relation folks that give their time to regularly answer questions. 

My family has also been the supreme definition of supportive – especially since I also have a day job and my writing actually eats into significant “family” time.  But my kids see me reaching for my dreams and they are inspired. 


If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?

I get especially frustrated when a word escapes me.   I know in my head what I’m trying to say, but sometimes my brain seems to stall and that word remains just beyond the tip of my tongue.  Those are times I want to fling the keyboard across the room. 


Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy?

Absolutely.  The telling of the story, creating different worlds, being the master of the universe for my characters - I love all of these things and they are the reason I write. 


Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?

Both.  I believe the natural gift is in the storytelling but crafting it on paper is a skill that can be acquired through training and practice. 

Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

99 Nubble overlooking the Atlantic ocean.  J It’s my dream house in York, Maine and I would love to create office space overlooking the bluff in the back of the house.   


Where do you actually write?

I write in a chair in the family room.  You can see pictures on my website on my About Me page.  Not exactly your quiet recluse.  I can write with all sorts of chaos surrounding me. 


What are you writing now?

I’m working on edits to my YA crossover Dome Warriors and on my next Steve Williams novel – Hunting Season. 


Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit?

I available in several places – my website: www.jetaylor75.com has details of all my books, my calendar of events and my books and blog.  I’d love for folks to drop by and sign my guestbook!  

I also have a blog at http://jetaylor75.blogspot.com – where I interview authors and people can follow my Jenny Craig weight loss journey. 


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