My Home Town’s Reaction to my Debut Novel

Today’s stop on my book blog tour features a guest post on my home town’s reaction to my debut novel.

My Home Town’s Reaction to my Debut Novel 

I still live in the same small town in Upstate New York that I grew up in. I’m a pharmacist at Wegmans Food and Pharmacy in my hometown—the same store where I worked as a cashier when I was a teenager. On any given day, I’ll see at least one relative, former teacher or old classmate during a shift. None of those people (including most of my family) had any idea that I was writing a book during the three years I spent working on my debut novel, Dream Waters.

Releasing your first book is a terrifying process. You worry that people won’t like it, or that they’ll dole out harsh criticism of the work that’s so near and dear to your heart—or even worse, that no one will even read the book. That fear of rejection and criticism was the reason I kept quiet about the fact that I was writing a novel. If my husband hadn’t believed in me enough to send my unpublished book to the Manhattan Book Review, Dream Waters might never have seen the light of day. It was their glowing five star review that gave me the courage to take the plunge and share my book with the world.

If I’d had any idea how much support my book and I would receive from my co-workers, family and friends, I might have told them about the book years earlier. When they did find out, they became my first fans. They generously helped me spread the word about Dream Waters by sharing my social media posts, telling their friends and family about the book, even choosing it as their pick to read with their book clubs. After word of my new book spread from my pharmacy co-workers to the manager of our store, he approached me about selling the book in the store and doing a book signing there. The book signing turned out to be one of the most successful Wegmans had done, even topping celebrity book signings that larger stores in the chain had hosted. My first two books are now the number one and number two best sellers in the store, and the books are sold in multiple stores in the chain, all of which have hosted book signings that exceeded my sales goals. I honestly can’t thank my local fan base enough for the love and support they’ve shown me.

I may have daydreamed about that sort of success before I released Dream Waters, but there were a few things I didn’t anticipate while writing my first book. My books are intended for adult readers and when I began writing them, my husband urged me to include “adult scenes” because people appreciate a little sizzle in their fiction. He backed up his argument with examples like, Game of Thrones and True Blood. Unable to argue with success like that, I added a bit of erotica to my reading list in order to learn from the experts. Then I added a fair bit of sizzle to my first book. Don’t get me wrong. The sexual content isn’t the central theme of the story. I use those scenes to illustrate the dynamic between characters—employing the old “show, don’t tell” technique. What I didn’t stop to consider was that all of those supportive people in my life would be reading those no-holds-barred intimate scenes. When writing a scene like that, it never crosses your mind that your child’s elementary school librarian, your own kindergarten teacher, aunts and uncles, in-laws and co-workers might one day be reading it. Let me tell you, a sure-fire way to shock those people is to show them a side of you that they never imagined existed. (I do have two children, so it really shouldn’t have been that big of a shock, but it was.) I can only imagine what it must be like for actors when relatives watch their on-screen sex scenes.

Would I have done things differently if I’d considered the reactions of all those people in my life? Absolutely not. At its heart, adult fantasy is an escape from the dullness of day-to-day life into an adrenaline-fueled adventure ripe with magical creatures and unbridled passion. The reader doesn’t want the characters to hold anything back. Delving into the thrill of each heart-racing detail of their journey is what makes a story worth reading, and crafting a no-holds-barred adventure is what makes it worth writing. I’m all in when I write a story. I don’t hold back, and I won’t apologize for that because I’d be doing my readers a disservice if I did. Incidentally, once the initial shock wore off, many of the people I shocked became die-hard fans of my series. They just had to forget who’d written those scenes and lose themselves in the narrative, which—I’ve been told many times—isn’t difficult to do.

Then there’s my grandfather’s reaction to my novel. He didn’t get farther than the first few pages because the four-letter-words shocked the hell out of him. Surely his granddaughter didn’t talk like that. My aunt explained that “Erin doesn’t talk like that, her characters do.” Although, in all honesty, I’m glad he never made it past the curse words because I can’t imagine what he would have thought of the sex scenes. Some bridges are best left uncrossed.

Click on the link below to check out the rest of the tour stop & leave a comment for a chance to win the $50 Amazon / B&N gift card at the end of my tour.

Straight from the library/Erin Jensen


Lies, Book Titles & my Dream Team

Yesterday’s stop on my book blog tour was hosted by Fabulous & Brunette.

Check it out to read one of my favorite excerpts from DREAM WATERS (Dream Waters #1) —it’s the reader’s first glimpse of Benjamin, one of my darker characters, who plays a major role in later books —and read my interview to find out what I’ve lied about, how I came up with my book titles & the actors I’d choose to play my characters on the big screen!



Two Ends of the Pen — my latest interview

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks in the life of this writer.  So, today I’m catching up on posting the last few stops on my book blog tour.  Yesterday’s stop was hosted by Two Ends of the Pen.

Check out my latest interview for my thoughts on tattoos, how my life has changed in the past two years and my advice for aspiring authors.  Leave a comment for another chance to win the $50 Amazon/B&N gift card at the end of my tour!

Character Creation

On January 4th, my book blog tour stop was hosted by Sharing Links & Wisdom.  The post included an excerpt from DREAM WATERS (Book 1 of the Dream Waters series) and my thoughts on creating characters:

Character Creation 

The world is chock-full of characters. Personally, I’ve always been drawn to the quirky folks, the misfits, the people who march to the beat of their own drummer and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. Those people make life interesting. What fun would it be if everybody followed the latest trends, dressed like the magazines told them to and behaved the way they were expected to? Characters with quirks make a story interesting. The good news is, you can find characters everywhere.

None of my characters are modeled after real people. That’s frowned upon…in fact, I think it can get you sued. That said, a few of my characters are loosely based on people I’ve come across in my lifetime. The two that jump to mind are Bob and Nellie in my debut novel, Dream Waters. When I first created them, they were one-dimensional. Charlie and Emma couldn’t be the only patients in the psychiatric facility, so I created Bob, Nellie and Frank to interact with them. Over the course of the story, Bob and Nellie did what respectable characters always do. They developed minds of their own and demanded that their stories become part of the narrative. Little did I know—when I created the crotchety senile old man who swears like a sailor and the shriveled old woman who’s constantly crooning squeaky-voiced lullabies to a child that isn’t there—those two characters would become the favorites of many of my readers.

Bob, my potty-mouthed television-obsessed senior citizen, was loosely based on a patient at a nursing home that my Girl Scout troop visited during the holiday season many moons ago. We went there to put on a talent show for the patients. Another girl scout and I both took ballet lessons (this was back when I was too young to realize that I wasn’t graceful, but that’s another story), so we choreographed a little dance routine. We showed up dressed in tutus borrowed from the ballet studio and the nursing home staff unplugged the television in the lounge to plug in our music. Let me just say, I’m a bit of an introvert. Performing in public has never been my thing. Imagine my horror when we began our routine and one extremely vocal gentleman spent the entire time hollering, “Plug in the T.V.! Plug in the T.V.!” That brief comedic moment of childhood trauma stuck with me and became the inspiration for Bob, the television-obsessed elderly mental patient. Bob then took on a life of his own because as any good character knows, real people are never one-dimensional. I’m sure that gentleman at the home is long since deceased, but I’d still like to thank him for inspiring me to create one of my most beloved characters. Bob doesn’t make an appearance in the second book of my series, but my readers loved him so much that I felt compelled to bring him back in Book Three. I think my readers will be pleased with the direction his story ultimately takes.

Nellie, my frizzy-haired squeaky-voiced old woman who spends her time rocking and singing to a child that no one else sees, was loosely based on a patient in a long-term care facility where I did a clinical rotation during pharmacy school. I never actually saw the woman because I was sitting in a backroom pouring over patient charts to make recommendations on their meds. While I sat there in my white lab coat quietly doing my thing, this elderly woman would sit in the hallway and repeat the words, “I want my baby. I want my baby…” After several choruses of this, the nurses would hand her something. I’m assuming it was a stuffed animal or a doll because I’m fairly confident they wouldn’t hand this woman an actual baby. Shortly after they’d give her the “baby” she’d start in with, “Please take my baby. Please take my baby…” That also stuck with me enough to find its way into my first novel. After I introduced her to the story, Nellie took matters into her own hands and ended up playing a pivotal role in the narrative.

Like I said, characters are everywhere. As a writer, I appreciate them for the precious gems that they are, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. No living breathing person is ever one-dimensional. The humorous or terrifying quirks that initially define them are nothing but first impressions. Every character, living or pen-and-ink, has a story to tell. Every life matters, and I for one try never to forget that the grouchy customer at the pharmacy counter may have a sick child they were up all night with, or an elderly spouse who’s slowly slipping away before their eyes. Our life experiences are what shape us into the characters that we become. It’s a writer’s job to remember that and craft their characters accordingly. Giving them past struggles and heartaches is the way to breathe life into them so that they step off the page and into the reader’s heart.

Check out the complete post & leave a comment for another chance to win the $50 Amazon/B&N gift card at the end of my tour!


DREAM WATERS tour — author interview

Yesterday was a busy day!  In addition to my guest post on Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews, I did an interview on author Danita Minnis’s blog.

Check out the interview—find out what my favorite ice cream flavor is, the first story that made an indelible impression on me, how I develop my plot & characters, and other random facts about me—and leave a comment on the blog post for another chance to win the $50 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card at the end of my tour!