I want to welcome Jennifer Lawrence and apologize to her once again. We did a whole episode and talked about a lot of great things – that I forgot to record. So she graciously agreed to get back on and redo it, even though she was super busy with school and family. Thank you.

Jen lives in Nashville, TN with her family. She is also a teacher and has written a series of books for kids – The Mystic series. We discuss her book and having her daughters read and help with the series. We also discuss the difficulty in marketing middle grade books and some things you can do.



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Stephen: big surprise today, I’m welcoming JL Lawrence to the podcast for the second time, but most of you don’t even know what the first time was. So she was gracious enough to get back on because we switched recording mediums last time and I forgot to hit record. So we had a great conversation and then didn’t even record it.

So hopefully we can recreate all that great conversation that we had. Jen, tell us a little bit about you and what you like to do besides writing.

Jennifer: I do, I guess in my off time or my real job, whichever way you wanna look at it, is I’m a high school teacher so I teach marketing and I spend a lot of time with the students.

’cause we do a lot of competitions like the one we just went to in Orlando to compete internationally. Had some good results there. So really enjoyed that. And keeps me a little bit young when you’re constantly surrounded by teenagers. Yeah. So sometimes I feel really old. Sometimes it helps you feel young.

It’s a double edged, but but I do enjoy it. I’ve been teaching for 20 years, so it’s, it’s been a good run and I’ve enjoyed it. And then when I’m not teaching and not writing I mostly spend a lot of time doing stuff with my kids, like with soccer or whatever it may be.

Stephen: Yep. The life of a busy working parent.

Yes. It. Your kids are a little older. My kids are just a few years older than yours, and it starts settling down a little bit, but then you start going I don’t know if I wanna do that other stuff. ’cause boy, the stuff with the kids was a load of fun,

Jennifer: yep. Yeah. I’ve got three, my oldest one graduates in two weeks.

Stephen: Oh, wow. So it’s really busy time right now.

Jennifer: Yep. She just had prom yesterday, so got to enjoy that and now ready for getting ready for

Stephen: graduation. Nice. I remember those just a few years ago. All right. So tell us about your books. You write middle grade. Tell us about your latest books and why did you choose to write middle grade your high school teacher?

Jennifer: It’s my journey. It was actually a little crazy. I started with an adult fantasy series that I had in my mind for years and just finally came into fruition. And then when I finished it, My daughter, who was 14 at the time, was like why didn’t you write something that I could read? So I was like okay.

So I thought about it, and so I took the same character and brought her back to high school to create my first young adult series. I. And so that she, and that was a four book series so that she could have something to talk with me and work with me and read. And then in the last couple of years, I just really got to thinking about, other, my youngest one now is just 14, but was 12 when I started thinking about it.

And so I started thinking about what else I could do to reach her. And, a lot of fun ideas that I had over the years. I love dragons and a lot of mythical creatures that’s always interested me and so I just figured out how to put a spin on it and came up with the Dragon Master

Stephen: Chronicles.

Nice. And have your kids read the books now? I.

Jennifer: Yes, my my youngest one has actually worked with me through it. Like I’d write a couple of chapters and then I’d read ’em to her and she’d give me feedback. And and right now I’m working on the second one, so I’ve read some of it. I haven’t read all of it to her, but I have read several chapters and so she’s working with me on that one as

Stephen: well.

Nice. Great. And you, your other books that you wrote tell us just a little bit about those real quick.

Jennifer: My original series is called the Mystic Series, and so it was, it focused on a heroine who was trying to figure out why she didn’t fit in the human world, and she had all these strange abilities she couldn’t quite place and was, just.

Trying to force herself to be in a normal world, but yet knowing deep inside she wasn’t. And then she’s runs across, she’s an F B I agent. She runs across a case that kind of blows her normal to pieces and starts meeting other people, opening other worlds, and then eventually realizes that she is destined.

To become the next mystic, which means she has to face off against an ultimate evil. So it’s got a lot of your good versus evil battles, ups and downs, those epic epic journeys. And then of course, with your big

Stephen: final battle, So you’ve got books really, that you hit ’em in middle grade and they read a good series and then you hit ’em in high school and then that series they can follow you through the years.

Yes. Which is one of the nice things about middle grade, with adult, either you catch ’em or you’re not With middle grade you, if you catch ’em, you got ’em for a few more years, a few more series, but you got another chance if they didn’t like your middle grade stuff too. Yeah. It’s interesting.

What’s the feedback been on your books from kids and people other than your own? My

Jennifer: middle grade series I haven’t released yet. Widespread. I haven’t decided exactly what I wanna do with it yet. I. I’m back and forth between do I just do it myself? Do I try to find a publisher? And so most of it, so far, most of my feedback from it so far is from beta reading and some testing in different age groups and different.

Different types of people interests, things like that to make sure I’ve got a good widespread, like I’ve made sure, I’ve got some male and female readers to make sure that my characters appeal to both. ’cause I want it to be a good balance series that I could appeal to anyone. And so I’ve enjoyed. Doing that. My young adult series it has done well with both I’ve done several conferences or markets or different things where I’ve had people come back and buy other series because they liked it. Either direction, some that started with the young adult and then one of the adult or vice versa.

So I’ve had a lot of good response to the two different series and

Stephen: how they connect. Nice. And what are your plans for upcoming books?

Jennifer: Right now I’m working on the second in the Maggie series because or the Dragon Master Chronicles. And so I’m trying to finish up that because I really wanted at least two solidly done before I, I really start pushing in one direction or another or deciding what to do and making the final decisions there.

But once I finish up that one, I am trying to, hoping to make that final decision and deciding which direction I’m going this summer. And then my next project will be the Shadow War Shadow Warrior Series. And that is pretty much a continuation or conclusion to the Mystic Series. So it kinda leaves an opening at the end of that series.

This kind of ties it up and then not only does it tie up that series, but some of the characters you meet in the young adult that don’t really follow through. This is where you find out their ending nice. And so it all comes back full circle. In the next three book series that will be called the Shadow Warrior Series.

Stephen: So you really do tie it in through grades five through 12 and keep ’em rolling. All those. Yes, of

Jennifer: course. And actually on purpose, I’ve done two short stories for my publisher and I have tied in Maggie from the Dragon Master Chronicles. With Alyssa from the Young Adult series and Kate from the Mystic Series.

So they’ve all kind of made like little guest appearances here and there. So that ’cause Maggie will actually tie back in from the middle grade series. When I write the adult series, you’ll get to see where she is as an adult. Oh, that’s

Stephen: nice. That’s a great idea. And we’re gonna talk a little bit more about marketing ideas for middle grade and young adult and all that.

But the other problem though, with. A lot of the middle grade is, they read so voraciously sometimes that if you have a three book series, they may get it and be done with it two weeks later and then they’ve got a couple years before maybe they can read the ya stuff. Yeah. So you gotta keep, do something, keep ’em going.

More books. More books, yeah. If you had a choice if would you rather turn these into movies or TV shows?

Jennifer: I’m mixed on that. In the past I would’ve said movies pretty easily, but now with all the different Netflix and Amazon Prime and, even like a M C and h b, all these that are coming out now.

And creating these more detailed TV series that are getting just as much notice as movies have in the past. I’m leaning toward TV series ’cause I feel that there’s so much more you can do. I saw in the news where JK Rallying and WB are looking at doing, something like that.

For the Harry Potter series and that’s what she stated was that she could do so much more detail and stay so much closer with the book and that, I’m in that same line of thought. Why Sure. I’d, I’d love to have movies. But I just I feel like you can do so much more sometimes with a TV series, especially now where it could be like at eight or a 10 instead of a 22.

Stephen: And good budgets. Yeah. Nowadays. And the JK Rowling thing that is I always thought the books were much better than the movies. A lot of readers will say but the movies so brought so many people into her world and they’re so love, they love it as much as I love Star Wars growing up Yeah.

And they’re so enmeshed in it, and. I just, oh, I think it’s going to be interesting to see the feedback, because you’ve got people that were 10 that are now thirties and have kids, and those kids have probably watched the movies that their parents have. But you really have a whole new generation that may have never even seen the movies.

Maybe read the books, maybe not. But it’s so hard to imagine anybody else as Harry Ron, and yes. Hermione, I, so there’s just so many mixed feelings on that one, and it’s

Jennifer: not even Yeah, that would be my biggest hangup. There is, yes. Those characters, they’ve gotta nail that because if they don’t it’ll be a long road.

Stephen: Yes, and I feel for all the true diehard Harry Potter fans because I know these last Star Wars movies I’ve got issues with. But I would rather have issues with new movies than have ’em say we’re going to redo the originals. No. You can’t do that. You know that

Jennifer: is true. And because I’m a huge Star Wars fan myself, and yeah, there’s those original three I think will always be my favorite.

I’ve seen all the others. But I don’t think anything will ever compare to those original three.

Stephen: Yeah. Especially when we were younger watching ’em. Yeah. So I agree with you. TV shows seem to be a good route nowadays and I think I. They’re hungrier for stuff. So indie authors have a better chance.

I know what’s his name? Sean Johnny. And Dave Tru, Johnny Truant or whatever wrote Fat Vampire, and he got it picked up on, on sci-fi. And then Hugh Howie had the wool series picked up on a m c independent. Publish or publish books. It, it’s a different market than it was five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, yeah. Totally different. So I like that. Jen, do you have a website that people could go and check out your books? Yes,

Jennifer: my website is author jl lawrence.com. It’s actually going through an upgrade right now. You can still get to everything on it, but I’m doing a little bit of a rebranding.

’cause most of my graphics, when I created the website, were MO based off the Mystic Series. And specific graphics related to that. And I’m doing some upgrades to make it more of a Celtic feel overall because all my series tie into usually some type of Celtic symbolism and culture. ’cause that’s just always been a favorite of mine.

And I am doing some upgrades and a little bit of updates there But it’s author jl lawrence.com to get all that information.

Stephen: We’ll make sure and put some links in the show notes for that. And so we talked a little bit about your plans for your next book, but let’s talk about some of your other favorite books and authors.

What books do you like to read or that you’ve read several times in your life?

Jennifer: I am, I’m a big fan of she Kenyon. I’ve read, most of her books in that Dark Hunter series and some of her others I’ve read a lot of Christine Feehan and. I like the Nora Roberts, her Paranormal Supernatural Books.

Okay. I like the Blood and Bone series or some of those type I really like how she writes those. And so those tend to be my go-tos and the ones that I reread when I re, when I do that sometimes.

Stephen: So you kinda like the Supernatural Fantasy where, and you write more pure fantasy almost for kids.

I, yeah, I like how a lot of authors read something different than they write. And it’s interesting to see that, ’cause a lot of people are like, oh and then, someone tries to write mystery and keeps failing after every time. So sometimes you have to change it up and write what feels correct for you.

Jennifer: Those tend to be my go-to books and I do read a lot of different stuff. I do a few mysteries every now and then. I do varying it up just so that I do get a feel from other types of genres, but I just always find that I come back to fantasy when I’m really wanting that, just fun, leisurely read where I really get carried away in the worlds.

That’s just where I always end up as one of those.

Stephen: Nice. I like that. And I think a lot of authors feel the same way, which is probably why a lot of authors write multiple genres sometimes, because I like all of this. Did I tell you last time we talked? I got to meet Sherly Kenon recently. Yes, you mentioned that.

Yes. Yeah. And she was really nice and it’s great thing about authors, even the really top brand names that people know usually are extremely nice and we’ll talk to you and all sorts of things. So yeah. Shout out to she Kenyon, definitely for that. Yes,

Jennifer: she is. When I met her, she was definitely very nice, very talkative, very willing to share her struggles and her successes.

And so it was very nice to talk

Stephen: with her. Yeah, absolutely. And have you had anyone, any kids or whatever, give you that kind of treatment? Read your book, said, oh my gosh, I can’t believe you wrote this. This is wonderful. I love it.

Jennifer: Not really with kids as much yet since my middle grade hasn’t become widespread.

But I have had some reach out with the young adults. I’ve had some that will show up to places that I am, and they’re like, do you have anything new? We’re ready to read it. And we’re, or I’ll have I released a Christmas series, but I hadn’t released the third one yet at a show I did back in October.

And sure enough they must’ve been watching my website ’cause, or my Instagram. ’cause as soon as it popped up I got an email and they were like, could you mail this to me? We saw your third book is up. Nice.

Stephen: That’s great.

Jennifer: So I know, you know that I have some that are watching and enjoying it and, will come see me at the shows where I am.

So it’s so far, yeah, it’s been a lot of good feedback.

Stephen: Nice. That’s good. Do you have any shows planned coming up? It’s not like you have anything else to do in your life.

Jennifer: I will be at a Comic-Con in Chattanooga this coming weekend. And then I’m traveling a lot for the summer, but I’ll be at a Comic-Con in Knoxville, Tennessee in July.

And then I have a lot of little local shows like the Mistletoe Merchants in Memphis and in Lebanon throughout the year. Nice. So a lot of little places where I’ll be here and

Stephen: there. I just interviewed another author recently from Chattanooga. But I don’t know if they’re going the show.

I do have an author friend if you happen to see him there, Zach Bohannon. Just tell him I said hi. He writes zombie stuff. I don’t know if he’s gonna go to the Comic-Con or not. Alright do you have a bookstore that you like to go to in Chattanooga or close by?

Jennifer: In the Nashville area. We don’t really have a whole lot of like your small bookstores like I did in a small town when I was growing up.

We do have a Books-a-Million and a Barnes and Noble the Barnes and Noble isn’t too far from our house. So since my girls also love to read, we’ll, take a stroll through there sometimes and browse the books and enjoy it. Used to spend a lot more time there when they were younger and we could go into the little children’s center, and. But that’s probably where I primarily go if it is

Stephen: store-wise. Okay. Alright. And so before we talk a little bit of author things in marketing middle grade, if someone came up to you on the street and said, Hey, I heard you wrote a book, I’m looking for something for my kids. Why should I get your book and read it?

What would you tell ’em? My book is

Jennifer: all about having fun and adventure and getting outside of the normal stresses of the world. That’s one of the main reasons I write fantasy to begin with. It was a coping mechanism that I did as a kid and then eventually turned into something more. And now I would, say that same thing to other parents.

It’s a chance for them to get to be a part of the world where the rules are different and the adventures are anything they want them to be. And I tend to not be an overly descriptive writer because part of it is I want them to see some of that as they interpret it. And I do give a lot of details, but I try not to go over the mark.

’cause I want their minds to get there too, and to add some of those gaps and to fill some of those things in because that’s what I do as a reader. And part of why I love fantasy is I would. Almost see it play like a movie. In my head, even though I was reading it, I would visualize it. And that’s what I try to do with this series is make it just fun and adventurous and an escape and just a fun time to be in a world that yes, they face hardships.

Yes, it’s battles. Yes, it’s this, but it’s also just a world of fun.

Stephen: And you know what, let’s kinda roll into the middle grade marketing. I’ll ask you about what you’ve learned, but what you just said, I think’s important because to have a good story, and this is one of the first things everybody learns, is you gotta have some conflict.

You gotta have a reason for the story. You have some change in growth in the story. Without that, you’ve just gotta meandering bunch of scenes that you know aren’t as good as you may think. And I think for middle grade sometimes. It’s a balancing act in, in everything with middle grade, but you get some parents occasionally that will be like I’m not gonna let my kid read anything where there’s fighting or that somebody gets hurt or that there’s monsters or this.

I’m like what are they reading? Even I. If you go back and read like Little House on the Prairie, there was conflict. Now they’re not fighting monsters. Yeah. But it was survival. It was getting along with people, there was conflict in there. So I feel sometimes parents don’t understand that and that kids don’t wanna read the stuff like that.

Have you run into anything like that?

Jennifer: Sometimes and I see a lot of that with teaching high school and knowing, what they read in the past or they’ll talk about different things. I am noticing that shifting some. And honestly, I think it’s like series like Harry Potter, where that opened that door where parents didn’t fear it as much anymore.

Because as long as. As parents are providing the teaching and the, what they want their kids to know and believe, that’s real. I don’t think fantasy necessarily has a negative impact for me and for my kids and for what I’ve seen it do for other students I’ve had over the years.

It provides them that, that chance to just to dream, to jump on a dragon and fly. Yeah. And yes. They may have to, Fight for their right to stay in the kingdom or whatever it may be. But it’s also just about the adventure and in my mind it’s also about opening their imaginations.

Stephen: I love that. ’cause I think that’s key. Yeah that’s fantastic. And the parents that say, oh, I don’t want my kid reading this, but it’s okay if they go play Call of Duty online. Do you really? I question your parenting if you’re not aware of what Call of Duty is online and you’re worried about Harry Potter or the parents that are like, I can’t have my kid read Harry Potter.

’cause she teaches real spells in that book. What? What do you mean? She teaches real spells?

Jennifer: I can tell you mine, I invented like new types of magic, different, there’s probably not an ounce of reel in it, but because I wanted it to be very unique to the realm, it’s, It, there’s just a difference.

There’s real and there’s fantasy, and if you’ve taught your kids the difference between the two, then one doesn’t harm the other.

Stephen: And I mentioned Little House and nothing against the little house books. I read the whole set, the whole series when I was younger and enjoyed them, I. That was a couple decades ago and a lot now, kids don’t wanna read the same things.

Stories have changed, books have changed, entertainment has changed. You can’t give them a hardy boy and Little House and just expect them to necessarily say, oh, this is wonderful and great when they’ve got Call of Duty and Marvel. Movies to watch, so you’re fighting against that. So what are some things you do to try and combat against the other things that take, that kids get interested in for entertainment?

Jennifer: Honestly, I try to look at I try to actually study the trends and see what they are looking for and try to incorporate it as much as I can while still adding in some of the values that I want to have there. But that’s the reason why in my middle grade series one, I. I have her, it’s almost like a coming of age, like the main character ages a year in each book and has a new quest to face in each book.

The whole time that even though she’s doing these quests and she’s attaining something in each book, that it’s all leading her to face kind of the villain that’s introduced in the beginning, in a final battle, in that final book. And so it helps you build with the character, get to know the character.

In the first book, I kept it simple so I didn’t overwhelm the reader with too many characters and too much stuff going on ’cause it’s a lot of new world. But now in the second book, I’m getting to add in a character here and a character there and build that. Yeah. And and build those relationships and make them relatable characters that’s one of the things that, that I do to combat that is to keep the adventure there, to keep the interest there to keep adding new things that kind of spark the imagination component. But then also have I. The real that drives it with the friendships and the bond between, Maggie and her Dragon Fire Spark or Maggie and Egan the two main characters and all that.

And to show how they grow and in their relationships and just, in their overall knowledge. And that’s

Stephen: real nice. And one of the things that. A lot of people don’t realize the great thing which we hinted at with middle grade is these kids read a lot. So if you have a lot of books and you write a lot, then if they like you, they’re gonna probably pick it all up and read it and just drive through it and want more and more.

That’s a good thing. But the thing that a lot of people don’t think about with middle grade is, How to market it because you can’t put ads on Amazon targeted to 13 year olds. You can’t put ads in the newspaper or billboards ’cause they don’t recognize, look at that stuff. You can’t put ads online targeted to 13 year olds.

All the what? So no but you don’t necessarily want to all the time because it’s the parents that are buying it and paying for it. But parents will ignore it. So you’ve got a double-edged sword. Where you’re trying to get the kids to see the books, recognize the books, want the books and parents to re see the ads and click to buy it for them, or enough to get kids to point them to the right place.

That’s where you were mentioning one of your things of do you go publish, get a publisher, or do you do independent? And that’s a big choice. Yeah. So what are your thoughts right now on which way you wanna go or thoughts on how you’re marketing. That

Jennifer: is, honestly that is my biggest hangup is the marketing aspect because I do know what it takes to market or the limitations of.

Of middle grade and it does concern me, would I really be able to reach widespread where I’m trying to get if I try to do this, on my own? And so that’s kinda why I was looking for a publisher that specializes in middle grade because they already have a lot of those connections and so I feel a little bit more comfortable with, Kind of them taking a lead on that, where they have the connections that I don’t have.

I also am looking at, the reality of not finding a publisher and or at least not in a timely manner. And I don’t wanna just sit on the series forever. I’m starting to look at, what can I do if I decide to do this on my own? And so I’ve been making a list of things that I can do and focus on.

I’ve been looking at the types of social media that they like where I could put like Instagram ads, TikTok. I’ve also been looking at adding a YouTube channel ’cause I know my kids, they like to watch a lot of the little videos and things on YouTube. And I thought about maybe doing a YouTube channel where I do like readings or, like a meet fire spark and listen to a few pages and I’ve made a more concentrated effort in this series to, like, when I talk about the Compass or the scepter of Time or things like that in the book, then I’m actually trying to find replicas and get them, so like the dagger that Maggie has to find in the first book.

I, I have, a replica of it that looks like it’s described in the book. So I’ve been trying to do things like that because they, I’ve noticed that they tend to like, you know what they can see, that’s one of the successes of Harry Potter. They can get the one, they can have the robe, they can look just like them.

And that has been one of the biggest successes because they were able to build that world. And you feel a part of the world. Yes. And that’s a huge attraction, especially to that age group. So I’m trying to really be thoughtful about what I choose in the books, what I find to represent.

Hopefully all of those things combined, if I decide to do it myself, we’ll reach out there.

Stephen: And it, it’s a lot of indirect marketing as opposed to direct marketing. You’re not putting up an ad and counting number of clicks and then how many people bought the book, which that’s typical marketing, that’s how they judge it. Yeah. Here it’s I went to Five Comic Cons. I spoke to 200 and some people and they enjoyed the thing. Did they go buy? Did they buy that day? Did they buy later? It’s right. It’s more difficult to do that because you don’t necessarily know, but, and you can’t even get them to sign up for a newsletter because that’s frowned upon to get kids, mailing the kids.

Yep. So you gotta figure something out to reach the parents for that same type of thing. So some of the things you’re doing are all ideas. And I know I, there’s probably. A lot of marketers like, oh man, I don’t want to touch any of that. ’cause they can’t quantify it. They can’t say I’m gonna charge you this much money for all these things you’re doing, but we can’t tell you that you grew because of it.


Jennifer: And that’s what I also thought about maybe some library sponsorships. I know some of our local libraries around here you can sponsor like a Saturday reading, where I could read like a chapter and then be there to answer questions to anyone who is interested. And some of the libraries will even let you be there, and let you sell copies of the book and do like signings.

If I decide to go the independent route, that’s another thing I’m gonna try to employ as well, is trying to get into some of those communities. We have a couple of middle school librarians that I’ve worked with in, in some of different, the different schools and, they’ve hosted some events and some things for the middle schoolers.

And so those are, that’s another option, that I’m looking at to try to get

Stephen: going. And I love all that. I’ve got a school visit coming up in about two weeks, and it’s a lot of hands on it. The middle grade world is different than adult. It’s even different than ya. Yeah. In today’s world, it’s a lot of hands on and trying to reach them that way.

Because these kids also studies show, and I’ve seen it, they wanna grab a physical book and read it. They don’t want to do digital and No, and that’s different than everything else. You gotta fight that too. So instead of saying hey, my book’s only three or $4, parents might be like, okay. It’s my book’s 15 or whatever you have for a print book.

And it, and that’s a, yeah, that’s a difference for parents. So have you found you haven’t really started marketing your middle grade, but have you found the ya are they reading physical or are they reading digital?

Jennifer: I’d say that’s still mostly physical. Now I will say every once in a while when I’ve run like a special and all the ebook up for free or some type of discount, like in the first of the series, I’ll have a lot of response and I’ll have a lot of downloads and I’ll see some follow up.

But still with that age range, I’m still just probably predominantly paper copy. Huh, okay. They just still aren’t, and I just know from teaching high school, very rarely do I see ’em pull up a book on their phone or bring in an iPad. Most of the time if they’re reading in class, it’s an actual

Stephen: book.

And I do love that you did the the, you’re doing the knife and you’ve got your dragon, props in a way. In my one story, I had them eating this treat and I, my sister’s a chef and she’s actually working on, I. Making the recipe. So I can offer the recipe in my study guide, and she’s doing videos for me to show how to make it.

What it really is just homemade hostess fruit pies. It’s got a whole nother name and we’re gonna make it look a little more magical. But those are the types of things sometimes that you gotta do to attract the kids. It’s it, I know there’s probably some authors going, oh, I don’t wanna deal with any of that crap.

You probably shouldn’t write middle grade.

Jennifer: That. Yeah, I would agree. It’s been very different, from going from adult to middle grade and just a totally different mentality. I didn’t really have to worry about did I have the right prop for adults. They they vision it the way they want to.

Although I have found recently in a lot of my in-person events that even adults like to see replicas of things in the. I wonder if that’s not from a carryover from the Harry Potter original generations and that kinda world building where they’ve been able to experience the worlds and now that’s what they want

Stephen: is to keep that.

I will say that what we mentioned earlier about Harry Potter, I think. If they’re in their thirties or younger, that Harry Potter had a lot to do with that. And then the Big Bang Theory, because the Big Bang theory showed you can be an adult and you can enjoy superheroes and comic books and statues. It’s not dolls, it’s not, for kids necessarily.

And I think those two things have a whole new generation of people in their thirties or below that’s acceptable. And so they like, The stories, even the fantasy with the statues, maybe they’re not getting figures and going pew, pew it like I used to do. Maybe they want the statue that looks cool on their shelf, or, yeah, even them some, there’s a lot of cosplay.

They want a robe, they want a hat. I have a detective with a cool hat. Here’s a replica, and that type of thing. So I will give, personally, I, I would anthropologically say Harry Potter and Big Bang pushed that a lot for adults. Yeah,

Jennifer: I would agree. And it did, I did end up going back and getting a second dagger done and that is a replica now for the Mystic Series.

So I have one one for each of those series. Nice. And continuing to look for things for that. So it has, it’s opened my eyes working with both. But definitely with middle grade, they want to feel a part of the action. Yeah. So whether it’s a cape, whether it’s a wand, whether it’s whatever it may be having little things helps them feel a part of the action.

Stephen: Yeah, absolutely. And I just use it as an excuse to three d print or get little toys that, as for me so lemme ask you this We’ve got right into the talk about marketing and that you wrote some books and now you’re writing your middle grade. So what are some things you’ve learned from writing those other books that you’re applying to writing your middle grade?

Jennifer: Honestly, it’s been very different. I think I had to do more of separating the two than applying one to the other than. Just knowing that I’ve got to be more visible. I’ve got to have more, do more social media. I’ve got to do a little bit more work. It’s, it unfortunately it’s not the build it and they will come type mentality.

It is a, you’re gonna have to push it out there and let them know it’s there in order to come. And so it’s, it. So it’s been a lot of learning on that and in that first series of things that worked that didn’t work, having to take on social media even though I didn’t have much time for it, it’s actually one of the reasons that I decided to go from independent to working with Jump Master with that series, just because I finally was able to admit to myself that until my kids are a little bit older and until my schedule changes a little bit, I.

I don’t have the time, I physically, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do the marketing that would need to be done if I were to really move those books

Stephen: myself. Yep. Understood. And I agree. Alright, Jen once again, I appreciate you jumping on again. It was great talking to you for a second, first time.

Maybe sometime we’ll catch up for an actual second time, which would be the third time or something like that. We sound a little Harry Potter Time travel going on there now. Yep. Before we go do you have any last minute advice for any new authors out there?

Jennifer: Yeah. Some key ingredients I think you need, and this was years of hard lessons learned for me to get there.

One, you need to find a good group of friends, critique partners, peer group writers, however it is that can help you move forward. They don’t necessarily need to be the same genre. I think I’ve one of some of my closest friends in my writer’s group, one does crime thrillers, another one does historical fiction, and.

We actually have been able to benefit each other with outside points of views and all of our stuff. And I think it’s made us each stronger together in each of our different genres. So definitely finding, that group of friends that’s gonna lift you up, but also help expand. And then my second thing would be, Learn to take critiques, find people that will critique you honestly, and be okay with that.

Yes. Don’t get offended. Learn from it. Grow from it. My first renditions of the Mystic Series are nowhere near prob what they are right now in their current. Publication, right? So I had to learn, I had to take the advice and maybe you don’t take all of it ’cause you do have a writer’s voice and that you wanna keep that unique.

But you can also learn a lot just from having honest critique par partners and not taking it offensively, but learning from it. And then that kinda leads to my last piece of find a good editor. I think, one of my biggest pet peeves is people that just say, okay, I wrote a book. I typed it up here.

I’m gonna throw it out there. And. And just go with it

Stephen: because, and then say, I don’t know why people are giving me bad reviews or not buying it. Exactly.

Jennifer: But it ends up giving a bad review to independent publishing overall. Yeah. And, but that’s not to say that every book is gonna be perfect.

’cause I’ve seen traditionally published where there’s a typo here or there and and one of mine, I found one and it went through two editors and probably 10 beta readers. So that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about. But it’s just the ones that you can tell they haven’t really studied the craft.

Stephen: Exactly. Yeah. Absolutely. And I totally agree. I. I feel for any of the authors, that someone gives them a one star review because they said on page 375, I found a missing, comma, this book sucks and should have had. I’m like, oh my gosh, are you kidding me? What about the story itself? And that’s, that’s a whole nother discussion on people and psychologically why people do stuff like that.

Yeah. But, one little miss. Mistype or something like that. Shouldn’t give people a one star. No problem. Alright, so Jen I appreciate you taking some time. Don’t choke on me here. We gotta make sure it’s still around for getting the episode live. We say, the first time we forgot to record it, we got the second time, but then she took to death, so that would not be good.

Nope. All right. Thanks Jen. I appreciate it. Have a great day. Thank you. You too.