Writing Superheroes: Jennifer Joy

One must brave altitude sickness to reach her secret lair. Read on and find out more…

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According to Wikipedia, ‘a superhero is a type of heroic character possessing extraordinary talents, supernatural phenomena, or superhuman powers and is dedicated to a moral goal or protecting the public.’ Sounds like a writer to me!

Join me as another one of these unsung superheroes invites into their personal ‘batcave’

If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes?

Like most stories, it would follow a 3 act arc. Act I- Grandma reveals the family secret. With the gift of a journal, she tells her grandchild that she comes from a secret line of storytellers. The little girl doesn’t understand the value of the gift until… Act II- Quite a few years have passed during which the girl has filled several journals with her musings, but she has yet to realize her creative potential. Her mother sees her resistance and leads by example, thus opening the protagonist’s eyes to the power of the pen. Act III- After MUCH trial and tribulation, reams of paper, inkless pens and printers, tears, and threats to quit, the protagonist completes her first novel and paves the path for a lifetime of creative pursuits and inspiration. It’s a very happy ending and the family legacy continues as it should.


 What did your early efforts look like?

 It was very colorful— with a variety of gel pens from my Lisa Frank collection. “I’s were dotted with hearts and every page was illustrated or doodled on just so I could use my cool pens.


Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

I wish! I went through a limerick phase in 3rd grade. I got on a roll and wrote gobs of horrible poetry I’d love to show my kids. They’d get a kick out of it and we’d all have a good laugh!


Jennifer JoyAll super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.

My alter ego volunteers a good portion of her time to families in the community she lives in, between swimming lessons and ballet classes for her twins. She wears reading glasses and a messy bun with a cozy sweater and crocs. (She won’t win any fashion awards in the foreseeable future, but she’s okay with that.)


Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?

I am so fortunate to have a supportive family, but my husband and daughter deserve special mention. Rebekah (age 7) recently wrote her first short story complete with illustrations and a fancy cover she created with markers, glitter, and glue. She didn’t tell me what she was up to until it was done, and I must say that it’s my favorite book ever! Her imagination is her superpower. And my husband has learned the technical side of indie publishing so I can focus on writing. He’s my Superman/Mr. Incredible. (He’s good-lookin’ to boot!)


Where do you get your superpowers from?

 “I Got It From My Mama” Earworm! Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. It is one of my superpowers to set any situation to a musical tune— yet another inherited skill I got from my mama.


Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?

My secret lair is 9000 feet high in the Andes Mountains where the condors fly and only those who survive altitude sickness thrive. Sounds fancy, but it’s really just a tiny office in a tiny apartment the size of most people’s bathroom.  


What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?

We take music seriously in our household. Handy Manny’s song “One Step at a Time” and “Eye of the Tiger” got me through my first novel.  I try to use music for the good by doing my best to sing in tune and learn the correct lyrics to the song (although sometimes it’s much more fun to create my own!).

As for my writing, I write 2000 words every day. The only exclusion is when I’m rewriting because that takes up more energy and brainpower. I read every day, too: classics from the master storytellers, slews of writing books, non-fiction, cookbooks, science fiction, cowboy stories, and a healthy dose of mysteries on top of my constant stream of JAFF. I can only hope to absorb a portion of the talent and wisdom of others and practice, practice, practice. I have found that practice makes… better.


Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?

What? I can’t wear it in public? If it were up to me, I would wear a tiara every day, but I restrain myself. I wouldn’t want to intimidate anyone  😀


What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?

My alarm clock! I am NOT a morning person, yet it is the only peaceful time in the day I can count on to write regularly. As for other challenges, my need to write is greater than my willingness to give in. I must write, so I make the time to do it every day.


What was the supervillain that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

Insecurity. I vanquished it by pulling out my colorful gel pens, writing nonsense in my journal, and reminding myself of my inner diva/alter-ego who still thinks she can grow up to be a deep sea explorer veterinarian rock star. She told my weeny self to get lost or do something productive… like read a book or save a dog while singing like Jem and the Holograms.


What important lessons have you learned along the way?

  1. Trust the process more. So many of my story issues were resolved when I wasn’t even thinking about them. Never underestimate the brain!
  2. Every plot problem can be fixed. Every one.
  3. Keep it fun! I like to think of writing like a giant puzzle. I love puzzles!


What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

I published my first book on the same day my mom published her first novel the previous year. I think that’s pretty cool, especially since it wasn’t planned that way.


If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

I’m still learning, so I’m sure I’ll think of many things I’d do differently as time goes by. For now, I’m happy and wouldn’t change a thing.


What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

I keep a quote from Louis L’Amour by my computer. “If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is to just write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to torn on the faucet before the water starts to flow.” That’s what it all comes down to. Writers write. So, that’s what I do!


Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

In my latest book, Lizzy does prison time and Darcy chases a pig. If that isn’t reason enough to read Accusing Elizabeth, I don’t know what is!


What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

 I have long list of ideas percolating and patiently waiting their turn to be turned into novels. My goal is to write as many of them as I can.


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  1. Loved this interview! Joy, your answers were so fun to read and yet, informative too! Great job, ladies! Thanks so much for letting us in on the life and writings of you, Jennifer Joy! It’s been a pleasure reading.

    I liked your quote by Louis L’Amour. He was a favorite of my dad’s and my son’s. I have many of his books passed down from my dad.

    I’m not fond of an alarm clock either! I do like the quiet time but not so much the horrible clanging of an alarm!

    1. Great! I meant ‘Jennifer Joy’ in that first line! Think I’m getting you confused with your mom??? Nope, although you both are lovely ladies!

      1. Thank you, Janet! We’re a bundle of Joy in our family 😀 If you ever figure out how to conquer the alarm clock, please let me know! It’s a constant struggle.

    • Deborah on February 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm
    • Reply

    what a fun interview. I am so happy to be getting to know you better.

    1. Thank you, Deborah! I’m so grateful Grace gave me this opportunity to connect with my fellow JAFFers.

    • Anji on February 7, 2016 at 4:31 pm
    • Reply

    Hi there, Jennifer, good to get to ‘know’ you a little better.

    Gosh, do you really live at 9000 feet? I guess you must be acclimatised by now but I know from the brief times I’ve spent at altitude (around Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon) how breathless it made me feel. Thank goodness we don’t get much above 4000 here in the UK even at the highest point of Ben Nevis in Scotland.

    I am so not a morning person either and have to set the alarm stupidly early on work days so that I can have the ‘quiet time’ necessary to turn me into something approaching a sociable human being! That’s when I tend to read a lot of my JAFF.

    1. It is the nose-bleed section of South America here, but I love it! It took a few weeks before we could catch our breath… I’m originally from the Oregon coast—altitude 3ft, if that! The highest I’ve been here is just over 14,000 feet. Not many people live up that high, but there are some amazing hiking trails and waterfalls.

      I love that: ‘stupidly early’ 😀 It sounds like you’ve found a good time for your reading though.

  2. This was a hoot, Jennifer. Dad and I read your answers together and both laughed. We can bear testimony about the alarm clock. “Five more minutes, Mom. Please!” I’m so happy for you and very, very proud. Hugs to you and the 3rd Joy in our family (Miss Bekah Joy).

    1. I love you, Mom 🙂

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