Please welcome my author friend, Jill Weatherholt, to Book Club Mom today. Jill is a talented writer and an active promoter of bloggers and writers on her blog and across many social media platforms. By day, she works for the City of Charlotte. At night, and on the weekend, she writes contemporary stories about love, faith and forgiveness for Harlequin Love Inspired.
BCM: Hello Jill and welcome! I think everyone has a story or two in their heads. Some people have written stories their entire lives, even as children. When did you begin your writing career?
JW: It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time as I’ve always enjoyed writing and journaling. For me, writing has always been a way to relax and destress. In 2010, I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month contest. I frantically wrote 50k words during the month of November. That ugly and very rough start to a first draft became my first published novel, Second Chance Romance in March, 2017.
BCM: How did you become a writer for the Harlequin Love Inspired series?
JW: In March of 2015, I made a last minute decision to enter Harelquin’s Blurb to Book contest. As I advanced through the stages, I frantically rewrote that 2010 NANOWRIMO project and in August of 2015, I was offered a contract. It was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget.
BCM: I was struck with how Second Chance Romance, in addition to inspirational romance, fits into several categories. I think that’s because your characters face modern and often complex problems, just like real people and characters in other genres. I believe your specific genre is popular because of this and because readers simply like to read a book with a feel-good finish. What’s your favorite genre to read? Do your reading tastes cross into other types of books?
JW: When I was in college, I read a lot of Stephen King and true crime stories. As I got older, I guess I turned into a big chicken because I couldn’t read stories like that and fall asleep at night. These days I enjoy reading romance and women’s fiction. I do enjoy a happy ending, but some tears along the way are okay, too.
BCM: I very much enjoyed reading “Memories of the Lighthouse Keeper” and congratulations on being the Dream Quest One First Writing Prize Winner for this moving story! Many writers begin their careers by writing short fiction. Some stay in that genre while others move to writing longer fiction. Do you like both? Any short stories in the works?
JW: Aw…thanks so much, Barbara. “Memories of the Lighthouse Keeper” is a special story to me. It was written shortly after my mother was diagnosed with dementia. I enjoy the challenge of writing short stories. I’ve been writing and submitting short stories to Woman’s World Magazine for several years. After numerous rejections, I sold my first story to them in December, 2017. It was a story inspired by my mother and father and their dating years. I recently sold a second story, also inspired by my mother and using her maiden name. I’ve told her she’s my little lucky charm.
BCM: I see a lot of hummingbirds on your website and on social media. They are such beautiful birds and very fun to watch! Do you have a special interest in them?
JW: Many years ago, I saw my first hummingbird while on a golfing vacation in Arizona. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by these amazing creatures. As someone who has a difficult time relaxing, watching these guys whiz around our backyard gives me peace.
BCM: How would you describe your approach to writing your books? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?
JW: I’m very much a creature of habit. I like my routine and can become quite cranky when it’s disrupted. That said, when it comes to writing, I’m a total panster. Once I come up with characters and their internal and external conflicts, I let them tell their story.
BCM: How do you come up with ideas for the Harlequin Love Inspired books you write?
JW: Often my stories are inspired by something I’ve read in the newspaper or a magazine.
BCM: Tell me about your experiences with submitting short fiction to magazines.
JW: My first published short story was a result of a writing contest offered by Southern Writer’s Magazine. Shortly after, I started submitting to Woman’s World Magazine. I probably submitted 20 or more stories to them before getting published.
BCM: Do you enter a lot of writing contests?
JW: I don’t really enter contests much these days. I did enter Second Chance Romance for the 2018 Golden Quill award and was a finalist. As someone who got their first publishing deal through a contest, I highly recommend them to writers, especially contests that offer feedback.
BCM: What is your approach to marketing and publicity? Do you take on a lot of it yourself in tandem with your publisher?
JW: I am the worst at self-promotion and don’t like to be the center of attention. As I tell my father, I don’t like to toot my own horn. Thankfully, my faithful friends, like yourself, in the blogging community and on Twitter have helped to spread the word about my books.
BCM: I’m not sure if I met you on Twitter, WordPress or Facebook. What’s your favorite social media? Do you think any one of them is better for book publicity?
JW: I think we probably connected through WordPress. Blogging is definitely my favorite form of social media. I’ve met so many wonderful people who’ve become great friends. Facebook is my least favorite. When I need to clear my head, Twitter is my go to place. I do think Twitter is the best platform for book publicity. My sales numbers really spiked when I became more active on that site.
BCM: What’s your working style? Are you a morning person or late-night writer? Do you write on your computer or long-hand? Comfy chair or straight back at a desk?
JW: Since I work full-time during the week, I’m definitely a weekend warrior writer. When on deadline, I might write after my work day, but typically the bulk of my writing is accomplished over the weekend. I do write blog posts during the week. I’m kind of a nomad with my writing spots. During the spring and summer, I like to be out on the patio with the hummingbirds. During winter months, I switch between my two offices and the kitchen or dining room table. I love to write short stories in longhand, so I usually settle into a comfy chair.
And now some fun stuff because everyone wants to know!
Coffee or tea? Both! I drink strong black coffee in the morning and on the weekend, while writing, I drink tea…also straight up.
Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Definitely dark!
Muffin or bagel? I don’t really eat bread, but if I had to pick, I’d choose a bagel.
Steak or shrimp? I love a good steak. Throw in a lobster tail and I’m set!
City or country? I’m definitely more of a country girl than city. I don’t like crowds or traffic.
Cat or dog? I don’t have either now, but I’d say dog.
Hat or visor? While playing golf, usually a visor. When at the beach, I’ll wear a hat.
BCM: Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview, Jill. I’m looking forward to reading your new book, A Father for Bella. What’s next for you?
JW: I’m working on more books for my Whispering Slopes series, but I do have plans to venture into writing women’s fiction. Thanks so much for hosting me today, Barbara. I’m so happy we’ve become friends.
Jill’s latest story, “A Pair of Lovebirds” is in the August 27 issue of Woman’s World Magazine. It’s a heartwarming story of a chance meeting and a promise of something more!
Be sure to visit Jill’s website at jillweatherholt.com. You can also find her on the following social media platforms:
Thanks for visiting – come back soon!