eBookEnvy: Tell us a little about you, your writing, your passions
Jeanette Cooper: Like most young girls during my youth, my first writing experience began with diary writing. I kept a diary and wrote daily in it. It was my private world of thoughts—or at least I thought so until I discovered my siblings invading my privacy and reading everything I wrote. I was so upset, I destroyed my diary and not long after that, I began writing simple childish stories about things that I knew. When I was ten years old, I sent a child’s version of a romantic story, in my childish handwriting, to “True Story,” a magazine that printed true romance stories. I received the nicest rejection letter ever sent to me, personally written just to me. Even then, I wanted to be a published writer. I suppose personal goals set in childhood tend to seek their own destination toward fulfillment.
When my mother bought me a typewriter for my sixteenth birthday, I felt a sense of magic when I touched my fingers to the keys. Words filled my mind craving expression, and from that moment on, I had a hunger for creative word-expression through writing; thus, my greatest passion following retirement.
eBookEnvy: “Desperate Choices” feels like it’s written from the heart. Can you tell us a little about what your inspiration was for writing it?
Jeanette Cooper: When I started writing “Desperate Choices”, young people in America had changed drastically from the time of my youth. Drugs, sex, independence without responsibility, and defiance of parental authority had become rampant. Compared to my youthful days, America’s young people were out of control. Rather than write about the generalities of youth, I wanted to show by example of a single character where such irresponsible independence could lead. Thus, my main character, Rochelle Rathbone Chandler, refused to listen to the wise advice of her loving parents and spent five years of her life in an abusive marriage that was little less than a prison sentence. As the story progresses, she often looks back and wishes she had adhered to her parents’ advice, but once her bad choices were acted upon, nothing but Desperate Choices remained.
eBookEnvy: Your bio mentions that you are a retired teacher? Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Jeanette Cooper: The Frank Labauch Literacy Program “Each One Teach One” was the catalyst for my becoming a teacher. I worked with the program through our church to teach illiterate adults how to read and write and it opened my interest in the field of education. I had always loved children, their sharp little minds, their innocence, their enthusiasm, and truly, no other career I could have chosen would ever have been as meaningful or fulfilling as teaching. In the eighties, when college instructors were saying that students failed miserably at writing essays and in answering essay type questions, it prompted greater emphasis on writing skills instruction in elementary school. As part of my classroom instruction, teaching writing was a favorite of mine, and I had many students who grew into wonderful storytellers through writing. Not until I retired from teaching, did I find the time needed to dedicate myself to writing. My first book, Wall of Color, inspired by a biracial student of mine, will always be one of my favorites.
eBookEnvy: What prompted the shift to novelist?
Jeanette Cooper: Until high school, most of what I wrote was for my own personal satisfaction until I won first place in a writing contest titled, “I Speak for Democracy”. Then I served on the school newspaper as Assistant Editor and delved in some article writing. Prior to college, I was making my first attempts at novel writing, which I knew absolutely nothing about. I would start stories, throw them away and start new stories. I finally finished one novel, which is still stored in my files—a real bummer. With blind devotion to my work, I even sent it to a publisher and received my second rejection slip—with good reason. The book needed revisions and editing that at the time, I wasn’t trained to do. However, from that time forward, I nursed the desire to become a published author, so after retirement, I dedicated myself to the study of novel writing, finally becoming a serious writer of fiction novels.
eBookEnvy: What kind of advice would you give to a budding writer about the writing process and the publishing process – especially since publishing is entering a brand new phase and dimension?
Jeanette Cooper: I am a self-learner, meaning that my knowledge on writing comes from self-directed research as opposed to writing courses. Therefore, I can only advise others based on my own experience. If my writing had depended upon the belief that I had the aptitude to become a great writer, then I never would have started writing. Instead, I did have a positive outlook that included the idea that because I loved to write it was something I could do as well at as I chose to do. “You can if you think you can,” is a positive phrase I have in a frame on my desktop. Writing, like any other job, can have its downside; thus, believing in one’s own self and having a positive outlook helps generate the kind of output one desires.
The art of writing starts out as a personal endeavor that one must truly enjoy if it is to become a lifelong love. Becoming published is the outgrowth and the bonus. There are many considerations to writing a novel. The development of character is the most important facet—because “plot” is the problem characters bring to the story. To get a good grasp on what this means, I highly recommend the book, Creative Character: How to Build Story People, by the late Dwight V. Swain. (Truly, one of the best resources I have found for a novelist.)
Overall, I think the best advice that can be given to a budding writer is, “Read, read, read, and write, write, write.” Read how other writers describe people, scenes, emotions, and create conflict in dialogue between characters, and then use it as models for your own writing. But most of all, make writing an enjoyable venture that gives you pleasure. Turn it into a journey, whereby you travel vicariously with your characters and live what they live.
eBookEnvy: Is there anything in particular that wasn’t covered here that you might want to share with the Free-eBooks.net community -about writing, about teaching, about life … about anything?
Poetry, Mystery, and romantic suspense writer Jeanette Cooper lives in North Florida near the Suwannee River, made famous by Steven Foster’s song, “The Old Folks at Home,” with her wonderful collection of books, her big yard and beautiful old oak trees, and the ever present comfort of family near by. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys walking, reading, cooking, and gardening, but admits she doesn’t have a green thumb. Still the outdoors beckons to her whether for pulling weeds, planting perennials, or raking leaves during season. Jeanette’s books are available in paperback and e-book at Amazon.com, the kindle bookstore, and other online bookstores. She loves to hear from her readers, and invites you to contact her via e-mail accessed by visiting her web site at www.jeanettecooper.net.