I had the honour to talk with Jen about her move to another country and what she's currently reading.
First of all, thanks so much for inviting me to guest on your blog, Charlene. It’s a pleasure to be here and chat with your friends and readers.
I’ve moved often and that’s probably why the search for “home” runs through what I write. Indeed, my author tagline is “Romance to bring your heart home.”
Although I’m Canadian by birth and have lived across Canada, I’ve spent much of my life in England, first as a student and then because of my husband’s job. The UK is my second home and while it will always be special to me (not least because my daughter was born there), the pull of Canada remained strong.
My family and I moved to a small town in Ontario’s Rideau Valley in 2015. My Irish ancestors settled in this area in the nineteenth century, and it’s also where I spent childhood summers. I’m now rooted in a small-town world that’s a lot like the communities I write about.
There must have been some adjustments for you, settling into your new home. What were some things that took getting used to?
The biggest adjustment for me was an emotional one. It’s taken time to settle into a place that after so many years away was and wasn’t familiar. I also travelled a lot for my last day job so I’ve had to adjust to a new, homebody life.
In practical terms, I continue to hunt for a proper English digestive biscuit and also miss that quintessential British tea room favorite, the Victoria sponge cake. However, my daughter, known in our town as “the little English girl,” has taken to poutine (French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds) like a native, and we all feel blessed with the warm welcome we’ve received here.
Now that you are writing on deadlines, when do you write? Do you have a schedule?
My move to Canada coincided with taking redundancy at my day job so for the first time in my life, I’m a full-time author. My writing schedule, though, is almost as structured as the one I had when I went out to an office every day.
I write during school hours and around my daughter’s activities. As I did prior to being a contracted author, I set daily word counts (although now in relation to my deadlines) and work toward those. I start my day by responding to emails and dipping into social media, and then it’s offline to make the most of what are for me the productive morning and early afternoon hours.
While my daughter does homework after school, I dip back into social media. I enjoy chatting with readers and writing friends and, since I work from home, Facebook and Twitter are like a virtual “front porch” linking me with the wider world.
Unless I’m on deadline, evenings are family time and often include reading as my daughter is a keen reader too. Mindful of the hazards of sitting and the dreaded “writer’s bottom,” I also go for a walk most days. Some of my best ideas (as well as solutions to tricky plot problems) come when I’m out walking.
What are you reading, or what’s on your bookshelf to read?
I’ve just finished reading The Magic of Ramblings by Kate Field. Kate is also a debut novelist and, like me, she’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK. The Magic of Ramblings blends contemporary romance and women’s fiction. With a compelling hero, an evocative north of England setting (including a fabulous Victorian Gothic house I want to visit), and a brave heroine who touched my heart, it’s a book to savor.
Next up is Family Tree by one of my favorite authors, Susan Wiggs. She writes so movingly about women’s lives, loves and family relationships, and I’ve been saving this book as a winter weekend treat.
Tell us about your new book!! What is it about?
The Cottage at Firefly Lake is my debut release and the first in a three-book series. It’s an emotional, second-chance love story about redemption and finding your way home.
I set it in a fictional small-town in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, a beautiful, unspoiled corner of the US where my husband and I spent several happy vacations.
For me, it’s a book that encapsulates everything that’s wonderful about a summer vacation, including that first love you never forget. It’s also about life challenges, family secrets and the often-tangled relationships that test us, but also help us figure out what truly matters.
The Back Cover:
Some mistakes can never be fixed and some secrets never forgiven . . . but some loves can never be forgotten.
Charlotte Gibbs wants nothing more than to put the past behind her, once and for all. But now that she's back at Firefly Lake to sell her mother's cottage, the overwhelming flood of memories reminds her of what she's been missing. Sun-drenched days. Late-night kisses that still shake her to the core. The gentle breeze off the lake, the scent of pine in the air, and the promise of Sean's touch on her skin . . . True, she got her dream job traveling the world. But at what cost?
Sean Carmichael still doesn't know why Charlie disappeared that summer, but after eighteen years, a divorce, and a teenage son he loves more than anything in the world, he's still not over her. All this time and her body still fits against his like a glove. She walked away once when he needed her the most. How can he convince her to stay now?
Connect with Jen!
You can order The Cottage at Firefly Lake in mass market paperback or digital/e-book format on all Amazon platforms, as well as Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Chapters-Indigo.