Today our guest is J’nell Ciesleski who has generously agreed to share her writing space with us!
Karla: J’nell, I’ve noted from your website that you write adventurous, historical romance. Where do you settle in to weave your stories?
J’nell: I have two spaces of writing. One, my designated office with a pretty view of the tree filled backyard, a plush rug beneath my feet, and a zebra print chair to sit at my feminine desk.
And the second, the ‘other’ couch in the ‘other’ room where my daughter’s toys spill out from under the bench, the dog snores six feet away, and the tempting fridge is within eyeline. Guess which one gets used more? Yep. The second. It’s not that I don’t love stepping on legos and tripping over a Minnie Mouse musical car every time I need a drink of water, but the couch is much more practical. See, I use my daughter’s naptime as my writing time and if I so much as tiptoe past her room upstairs she’ll wake up. Pretty sure she has bat sonar. So long writing time! Plus, my designated office upstairs sits over the garage and it’s a furnace in the summertime.
Karla: When do you find time to write?
J’nell: I honestly wish I could spend all day writing. Unfortunately, chores and errands take up my morning because I like to get them done and out of the way. Then comes lunch, and then comes naptime which means freedom! If it’s a good day and she’s willing to give me a break then I’ll have at least 2 ½ hours of writing time. If she decides she wants to serenade me from the crib then I’ll attempt writing, but it usually ends up being research time as I don’t need absolute quiet for that. Sometimes I’ll get a few minutes on the weekend, but that time usually goes to family and church.
Karla: What do you write?
J’nell: Historical romances are my passion. Throw in a world war and I’m gold. Nothing like a man heading off to war or some other dangerous mission to amp up the passion, those are the moments I love to capture. Take a look at Braveheart, Gone With the Wind, Downton Abbey, Casablanca, Lord of the Rings, and Outlander and few other of my favorites and you’ll see what I mean.
Karla: What’s your process?
J’nell: Part of me is afraid to share a few unknown tidbits about what really happens behind the screen, but you asked so I guess I’ll brave the raised eyebrows and tell you. I usually play a round of Soda Crush before I get started. Helps to loosen the muscles. Then I reread the last few paragraphs of what I wrote yesterday to remind myself where I am and plunge in. Note: Sometimes staring blankly at the screen or wall happens first as I await divine inspiration. As the writing forges ahead, I often check with my notes which I have in a hot pink binder that is meticulously divided into sections: WWI, WWII, Scotland, Pirates, Clothing, Words, Transportation, etc. I often feel like Gandolf pouring over ancient manuscripts which makes me giggle. When hunger strikes, I try grab something healthy like yogurt or almonds, but sometimes those darn Kit Kats jump right into my hands.
Karla: What are you working on now?
J’nell: My last work in progress, or WIP for those in the know, is set in WWII France and is inspired by the Mitford sisters. Kat Whitford is on a mission to bring back her wayward sister after she ran away to occupied France and became the Nazis’s social secretary. Struggling to keep himself out of jail for a back alley brawl, Barrett Anderson is paying back his debt by working for British intelligence and they’ve just assigned him as babysitter to Kat. With direct access to the inner Nazi parties, they are immediately pressed to play the loving couple and gather all the information they can. When his past comes to call, it could spell disaster, and possibly, death for them all.
Karla: Tell us some more about yourself!
J’nelL: Born in Florida, I spent a happy childhood splashing on the sugar white beaches only known to the Sunshine Stare. While in middle school, my dad got a job transfer to Texas where I graduated from Texas A&M with a B.S. in Psychology. Not knowing what else to do with my life and seeing as how writing wasn’t paying the bills yet, I joined the Air Force. Stationed in Germany I was privileged to travel to France, Austria, the Netherlands, England, and my favorite Scotland. I also met my awesome husband over there. Finding him was worth wearing camouflage and combat boots every day. After serving our four years, we now live in Virginia where I’m a stay at home mom to a busy one and a half year old and a very lazy beagle.
Karla: Thank you, J’nell for giving us a peek into your writing life!
And thank YOU, dear readers, for stopping by! You can learn more about J’nell at the links below:
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Sounds like you’re finding a great balance between writer and mommy.
I’m trying! Some days are really hard and the writing gets lost in the shuffle, but I consider ‘mama’ a more important title than ‘writer’. The more I write the happier I am, and that makes me a better mom 🙂
Thanks for reading, Pegg!
Great interview Karla.
Your process for writing sounds a lot like mine J’nelL.
I started when I had wee ones at home also – – and in Virginia.
Was it the Soda Crush or gravitating to the fridge that rang true with you?! It’s tough being a young mom and trying to break into the publishing world, but I’m so glad to see you’re still at it and didn’t throw in the towel when the terrible twos hit! Yay another Virginian!
Ha ha. It was that I re-read what I wrote the previous day to get into the story as well as to edit. I have LOTS of notebooks for research purposes. This is year 30, and I still have hope some publisher will find value in my stories.
Oh, maybe it was the guilt in me that needed a fridge buddy. But edits are good too!
I’ll be your fridge buddy, J’nell. 😉
I started when my wee ones were wee as well. Enjoy the baby years and the growing up years. It’s cliche but they do grow up way too fast and you’ll really miss those years. I do every day.
Love your notebook. I also write historical fiction and, to keep all the information easily accessible and somewhat organized, I create a separate notebook for each novel. Although I’ve settled my interests to the American Revolutionary War, your WIP sounds exciting. Best wishes and blessings on your writing.
I like the idea of a separate notebook for each ms, but then I’d have tons of them stuffed in a drawer when I have to start and stop because the plot just isn’t coming to me. Thanks Susan!
I have a notebook for each book as well. I keep a timeline and research, etc. I just bought a new software program (similar to Scrivener but I hope easier to use) and am going to try and go digital one of these days. I seem to need that 3-D notebook, though!
Great balance. Glad you put Mommy first as that time really does go very fast. I know it doesn’t seem like it when you’re up to your elbows in spit up and poopy diapers, but it flies! And then you’ll have hours and hours to write. But hopefully, it won’t be that long away that you see a contract!
Fingers crossed about that contract! Like I always say, it’ll happen when it’s supposed to. I hear that things get crazy once you’re contracted so I’m enjoying my own pace right now, especially when my little girl demands to have coloring time right in the middle of the hero and heroine’s heated argument.
I agree with Linda. Writers are a dime a dozen. But only YOU can be their mommy!
What a fun peek into your writing life, J’nell! You have your priorities straight for sure. Little ones don’t stay little forever. And good for you eating healthy snacks. For me, my snack nemeses are M&Ms and chocolate chips, instead of Kit Kats.
I tried going carrots for snacks. But I always seem to come back to M&Ms and popcorn.
I understand completely about absolute quiet to write…although I have written with background noise (television or radio on in another room), I’m pretty much the same way. Have to have absolute quiet in my writing space at least.
Nice to get to know you better!
Good luck and God’s blessings.