J’nell Ciesielski stopped by to share her debut novel success and her writing journey

J'nell Ciesielski official

LPC, Smitten Historical Author J’nell Ciesielski is my special guest. Her novel Among The Poppies is a wonderful tale set in World War I. I’m so excited to learn more about this talented author and how her debut novel stayed on the top of Amazon ratings on release day.

J’nell, let’s start with a little about your writing journey.

From an early age I was creating stories, but it wasn’t until college when it became serious. My first novel was riddled with beginner’s mistakes and will probably never see the light of day, but I kept at it. Kept writing, taking classes, studying the craft, and entering contests. Years later, after my third finished manuscript, I landed my wonderful agent. Another four years later and I got The Call on Palm Sunday. My first contract! Now life is a bit of a whirlwind, but at the heart of it I just want to write good stories.

I love your commitment to writing good stories. That is truly the key.

What is your latest published project.

My debut novel, Among the Poppies, was published only last month! It tells the story of a female ambulance driver who falls in love with a duty-bound army captain on the front lines of France during WWI.

I love historical romance, I find few set in World War I. Tell us how you did research for your book?

Since I was tackling an era somewhat unknown to me, I had to do a ton of research. No problem for me because I love research! It’s my favorite part of the writing process. I read every book I could get my hands on: fiction and non, biographies, diaries, first-hand accounts. I watched every movie pertaining to the period, listened to music of the age, and even spent a day watching videos on how to change a model-T tire. There’s nothing I won’t do to be as accurate as possible. Though I do leave room for fiction flourishes J

Research is always fascinating to me as well. What inspired you to write your book?

Like many people the world over, I got swept up in the whirlwind that was Downton Abbey. The elegance, the estates, the manners, and, of course, the clothes. Oh, to wear fancy hats again! Season two plunged the audience into WWI and there I saw it, Lady Sybil the nurse and her world-changing chauffeur love of a man, Branson. I had to be a part of this world! Gwyn Ruthers became a chauffeur’s daughter longing for adventure beyond the garage doors, and William Crawford is an army captain who, above all, desires order. But Gwyn is anything but orderly J

I have to  ask when did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

Like most writers, I grew up with a passion for books. I’d gobble them up as fast as I could then sit down to pen my own. My first novel was in kindergarten where I wrote a love story between an apple core and a trash can. It wasn’t until I read Kathleen Morgan’s Embrace the Dawn where I finally thought yes, I can do this! No surprise the book was about Scotland J It was a turning point because I wanted to create stories and characters for myself and have it play out in a way that satisfied my imagination instead of waiting around for someone else to do it for me.

I love your honest answer. We’re shifting gears a bit now. Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for good to those who love God.

It reminds me that God is still in control.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Don’t stress so much. I’m a notorious worrier which I think lends itself from my being a planner. Things will work out exactly how and when they’re supposed to because God’s got this.

Amen, sister!

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband. He gives me all the time I need to sequester myself in my office while he keeps our daughter occupied (which is a full-time job J ) and never ever complains. I bounce ideas off him, and he gives great advice on battle scenes and the inner workings of the male mind. He helps me remember why I love writing.

 You’re are truly a blessed woman.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Historical romance is my favorite! I can’t get enough of it. Highlanders, pirates, world wars, and once in a while a revolutionary tale. I’ve read a few contemporaries, but I’m really picky about those. When I read I want to escape, and modern-day life that I see every day is not an escape for me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Since I don’t live on the water I have to say the second best place is my office. It’s pink, dotted with flowers, black and white pictures, and over the top girly. I love it!

The thing I am super interested in knowing is what steps did you take before your book was released to get your book at the top of Amazon ratings?

Let me just say that I am not business minded. Me and numbers make about as much sense as toothpaste and orange juice so when my publishing house started asking me about a marketing plan I froze like a deer in headlights. That being said, let me tell you what I did in hopes of helping others out there like me J

First, I wrote the best book I could. Without that nothing else matters. Long before that elusive contract fell into my lap, I joined writing groups and started mingling with people on social media. As an introvert I really had to push myself out of my comfort zone, but you know what? Writers are a pretty friendly group who are more than happy to help and lend advice. Here’s the important thing: I didn’t go into social media with the intent to advertise myself as a writer or my work. I simply talked to people, sometimes about writing, sometimes about what crazy thing my daughter did at school, or the latest book I’d just read, or favorite movies. It didn’t matter because the point was to get my name out there and make connections on a personal level. I can’t stress this enough because when it came time for release day, all the people that I had made connections with in the months prior were more than happy to help me out with.
Months before release day, I set up interviews and requested endorsements from other writers that I had become friends with via social media. Then, I set up a launch team to help get the word around about Poppies with Advanced Readers Copies. I’m blessed enough to have a very talented husband who happens to be a whiz on the computer so he designed a few graphics for me to share on social media, and gave a facelift to my website.

That’s basically it. I don’t have a big secret that I was just waiting to reveal on release day. The preparation started years before. First, by writing the best book possible, and then getting to know people, writers, bloggers, reviewers, and readers who could help put my book and name in front of an audience much larger and farther reaching than I could ever accomplish on my own.

I can see why that makes a difference. These are all musts for a successful launch but what was the key action on release day that made the difference?

I think this goes back to laying that foundation of personal contacts and making sincere connections. Other writers, bloggers, reviewers, and readers are some of the nicest people you could meet. They genuinely want to help and see you succeed and they were instrumental in promoting Poppies when release day came. Word of mouth spread like wildfire, so much that it took me by complete surprise! Poppies sold out twice within two days of release!! I believe that you can have all the fancy graphics and ads you want, but it’s word of mouth from fellow readers that gets books into the hands of readers.

Great tip J’nell and it definitely worked like gangbusters for you. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story with my readers.

Who is J’nell?

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

Among the Poppies FINAL cover

Among the Poppies blurb:

Gwyn Ruthers longs for adventure far beyond the stifled life society restricts her to as a chauffeur’s daughter. With the war to end all wars exploding across the Channel, Gwyn signs up to drive ambulances on the Front. Rambling over bomb blasted roads and living in mud bogged trenches is far from the exotic travels she had in mind. A simpler life doesn’t look quite as bad as she once thought. Especially when a handsome captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down.

Links for J’nell.

Social Media links:

http://www.jnellciesielski.com/

https://www.facebook.com/jnellciesielski

https://twitter.com/JnellCiesielski
https://www.goodreads.com/jnellciesielski

https://www.pinterest.com/jnellciesielski/

Order link:

https://tinyurl.com/ybg76f66

 

Grab this inspiring book and if you want to encourage J’nell in her writing journey leave a review.

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Celebrating Secret & Charades One Year Birthday and a Giveaway

New-Birthday-Balloon-Clipart

Today marks the first birthday of my debut novel Secrets & Charades. She had a long gestation period. Twelve years from concept to publication. Ten years in the writer’s womb doing rewrites, submitting proposals and receiving about 20 rejects. (The exact number escapes my memory. All new mothers forget the painful parts.)

Cindy's Editor's Choice Award-2

My award. I am so blessed.

Labor began when I won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014. This resulted in two more years of laborious rewrites and editing with two wonderful book labor coaches Molly Really and Andrea Merrell.

 

Before my baby arrived, I had to wait for the Cover Design and do marketing to announce its release. I post the ultra sound photos of famous actors and models who represented my characters.

Talked about the historical content.

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When the Cover Design was finished, I posted it on my social media so everyone could see the cute outfit my novel would be wear.

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The big day came, March 15th, 2017 we had a wonderful launch party where I gave gifts to my guest to celebrate the arrival of my baby. A few weeks later I had a live launch and my guest cooed over my darling.  Recently, Secrets & Charades won the Maxwell Award. A proud mother moment.

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A year later it still has decent ratings. A sibling will arrive in May. My Contemporary Romance, New Duet is different from my Historical Romance. They will compete for my marketing time. Although we all know the newborn gets the most attention. Hopefully, by 2019 there will be some more Historical Romances joining my book family. I imagine a few contemporaries as well.

Oh, Secrets & Charades is being cloned as an Audio book coming soon. I am so excited. (More on that in another post.)

Thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate and reminisce.

The Giveaway

I am giving away one autograph copy of Secrets & Charades and a $10 Amazon card to one lucky winner. Share this blog on your social media and post in the comments on the blog that you did, and you’ll be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to leave your email written as myname at my server dot com. I’ll contact the winner next Friday.

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Introducing Jennifer A. David and A Give-a-way

Today I welcome Jennifer Cvalbar AKA Jennifer A. Davids.  She is a fellow-author with the Smitten Imprint for LPC historical romance writers. I am delighted she is visiting. This is my first author with a pen name. Welcome Jennifer. I’m curious to learn a little about your writing journey. Jennifer A Davids_photo

A ninth-grade creative writing assignment. That’s how it all started. I wasn’t expecting the story I turned in to be anything special. Honestly, I was just hoping for a good grade. So when my teacher stood in front of the class and said my story had gotten an A++ I couldn’t believe it. Especially since I had stayed up late the night before I turned it in finishing it. I’ve been putting words to paper ever since. Fast forward to February 2010 when my writing journey took a new turn and I was offered my very first contract with Heartsong Presents, the then book club imprint of Barbour Books. I published three books with them before the imprint was sold to Harlequin. You can find all of them in one book titled Brides of Ohio.

Since that last Heartsong book, a busy season of life happened. My two children went from being fifteen and eleven to being twenty and sixteen. But I did write another book, my first stab something longer than a Heartsong. It was quite a challenge but I’m so excited that A Perfect Weakness will be released by Smitten, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, on July 25, 2018.

Jennifer A Davids_Brides of Ohio _cover

 

Interesting.  How did A Perfect Weakness evolve?

The inspiration for A Perfect Weakness came from one of my Heartsong books. At the time, Heartsong Presents was still in business through Harlequin and I wanted to write another book for them. One of my secondary characters in Wounded Heart had great hero potential and I often wondered what he did after the events in that book ended. So I decided to find out. But as I started working out the story it grew and grew and became way too long to be a Heartsong length novel. So I erased any connection the story had to Wounded Heart and made it a full-length novel—well, almost. I may have left a small ‘Easter egg’ for a reader of Brides of Ohio to find. A very small one. I’ll have to see who catches it. J

Makes me want to read Brides of Ohio in preparation for this books release. Let’s talk about you. Here’s one of my favorite questions to ask authors. If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

“Sketch out the whole plot before you start to write.” I used to get so excited about an idea that I would start writing and then just stop when I got to a point where I had no idea what happened next. All the enthusiasm would leach away and there I would sit with just a beginning that headed nowhere. So I do a rough outline/draft of the whole book in Scrivener now. But I don’t act as if every plot point is written in stone. I let it move around and I’ll change something or go a different direction if need be. But it does give me enough of an idea of where the story is going so that I don’t abandon it.

 

Great advice. Do you have a favorite genre you love to read for fun?

OK that’s like asking which kid is my favorite. I write historical romance and while I do read a lot of that genre I don’t always read there for fun. It depends so much on my mood. If I want to read fantasy, I’ll default to The Lord of the Rings or the Narnia series. If I want a classic, Jane Eyre or The Count of Monte Cristo. I also enjoy reading Erik Larson who writes wonderful historical non-fiction.

Thanks for much for sharing. Now if any of you are curious about the Brides of Ohio series make a comment to be placed in a drawing for an e-book copy. I’ll draw a name on Friday and contact the winner. If you are new to my blog, please leave an email address written with the word at and dot in place of the symbols. I’ll forward your address to Jennifer.

More about Jennifer

Jennifer A. Davids is a self-professed book nerd. The shelves of her office are overflowing with books and there are stacks of them by her bedside. When she’s not reading, she’s dreaming up a new story to tell her readers. She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in English Education. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband, two children, and two cats.

Connect wiht Jennifer A. Davids on Social Media

www.facebook.com/jenniferadavids/

www.instagram.com/jennifera.davids/

www.twitter.com/JenniferADavids

Web Page

www.jenniferadavids.com

Blog

www.jenniferadavids.wordpress.com/

Order Links for Brides of Ohio

Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y8xp3zwh

Barnes and Noble: https://tinyurl.com/y9uxobn6

Christianbook.com: https://tinyurl.com/ydgw2s57

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