Fibers will be on sale for .99 during the tour.
The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
First I’d like to say thank you so much for having me visit your blog! I’m currently on this blog tour promoting my new sci-fi novel, Fibers, book #1 in the Infiltration Trilogy. I appreciate your time and allowing me to share a little bit about myself and my work with everyone here =).
Speaking of which, if you’re taking the time to read this I’d also like to thank you! I hope you’re entertained and enjoy this interview, and I also hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel on Amazon. If you’re not quite ready to do that or would rather read some excerpts first, I invite you to go to www.JenniferCrystalJohnson.com and sign up to receive my author newsletter. I’ll be sending out 12 excerpts for you to read or listen to me read to you on video =).
Without further ado, let’s explore this writer’s wonderland, shall we? ;)
Tell us about yourself:
Everybody calls me Jen, and that’s usually what I go by in conversation and more casual settings. A few years ago, though, I always dressed goth and wore a spiked collar, so my friends and everyone at karaoke started calling me Spike – or some variation of it. Spiketastic, Spikealicious, Spiketabulous, Spikers, Spikey, you get the idea. Anyway... I hope I’ve grown up a bit since then, but not too much ;).
I’m a single mom of three and we have three cats and a puppy named Thor. We live in a small town in Western WA State, which is beautiful and green and there’s lots of water nearby. Unfortunately the ocean is still quite a little drive, but I like how everything feels so alive here... except maybe during really hot, dry summers, which we don’t get too often, but every once in a while we do. When that happens – like last year – some of the lakes dry out. They basically turn into mud pits. It’s kinda weird.
I was born in Germany and raised in a number of different places, married into the Army and ended that really quickly when I realized my ex-husband would never treat me the way I deserve or need to be treated: with kindness and actual love. It takes a lot for people to fully win me over since then, although I have been with other men; my most recent relationship ended almost four years ago. Right now I’m more focused on my writing and business endeavors, not to mention making sure the girls and I survive their teenage years ;).
Writing and music have been my passions since I was about eight years old, so I refuse to give up on my dreams even as a single mom =). I’m just not wired that way.
What was your first book?
My first book that was ever published was called The Outside Girl: Perception is Reality. It was a psychological thriller, but only a short novella, and it didn’t do well. I was just shy of 21 when that came out.
Describe your first break.
Maybe I’m getting old, but I’m not sure what you mean by this... my first opportunity as a writer, maybe on a legitimate level? If that’s what you mean, it’s when I got my first freelance writing job when I was about 13.... I was invited to help moderate the forums and write for an online community/magazine for teens =). It was a quarterly publication but I got to write about whatever I wanted and it paid $100 per issue. Woohoo! Lol
What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
Since I edit so much fiction and poetry, my favorite genre to read is actually personal development and books on business, marketing, and improving my writing =). I also read a lot of blog articles and do research online about those topics because I’m always looking for new ways to improve myself, my life, and my work. What I found about marketing especially is that once you come full circle with the information you learn, you can be fairly confident that you know – in theory – what’s what. When you come across information repeating itself, you’ve learned most of it.
When it comes to writing, I adore writing sci-fi. I like writing basically whatever my ideas dictate, and sometimes that’s horror, too, but a lot of times it’s sci-fi. I also have a lot of ideas around self-publishing and promotion, and simple, easy to use personal development guides similar to The Ten Pillars of a Happy Relationship. I also like to help other authors, which is why I started www.NoBullSelfPublishing.com; I wanted authors who are essentially DIYers to be able to learn everything in one place.
There’s something especially interesting to me about sci-fi, though, because it can deal with a wide range of topics, the human psychological element is still there in all of the characters, and you can use your imagination without holding back. If you wanted to, you could create entire worlds (which of course would make it fantasy in some cases) and envision life a hundred, a thousand, or even a million years in the future. I think that’s very cool =).
Are Happy Endings are must in your stories?
No... not a must, although I’ve gotten criticism from people about some of my short stories (especially in Our Capacity for Evil) = because they lean more toward darkness and often involve tragedy. (Read Shrapnel: a short story, contest finalist)
Then again, you never know what happens after the story is over... even if a character dies. I suppose if you don’t believe in an afterlife or reincarnation or that there’s something more to our souls’ existence than this earthly life, it would be a lot more disturbing or depressing to read tragic stories, right?
I like endings that fit with the story, make sense, and hopefully make people think, feel something more, or teach an in-depth lesson (inspire an epiphany). If that happens to be through tragedy... well, let’s just say that I personally believe there’s a reason for everything, whether we understand that reason within five minutes or if it takes us fifty years.
I do prefer when things work out, though. Happy endings are nice... I just don’t require them =). There’s a saying in German: “Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende,” which basically means that it’s better to have an ending with terror than terror without end. Believe it or not, this phrase can be applied to a number of things (everyone can thank my mom for telling me this regularly lol), including overcoming a fear. I could probably analyze different scenarios all night that this might apply to, but you get the idea =).
What makes a protagonist interesting?
Personally, I like it when I can put myself in the protagonist’s shoes and imagine going through whatever it is they’re going through. I can pretty much understand and empathize with any main character, but I think what most people identify with on many levels is an ordinary person thrown into extraordinary circumstances and forced to figure things out, sink-or-swim style, and eventually succeeding after a lot of struggle and challenges. In reality, they aren’t, “heroes;” they’re just ordinary people who have uncovered their true strength and learned incredibly valuable life lessons.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Creating entire worlds, circumstances, relationships, love, hatred... out of thin air. With nothing but the power of your imagination, your mind, your knowledge, your ability to research and tell stories, you’ve created this epic environment for the imagination to play in =). If it’s made into a movie, awesome! More people will be able to enjoy it. But being a writer, like many other artists (paint skillfully arranged via paintbrush on canvas suddenly becomes striking and meaningful; notes on an instrument flow together and brings people to tears upon hearing it.... It’s absolutely amazing), you breathe life, meaning, purpose into a work by using the tools and talents you possess. For me, those tools are words, pen and paper, and a piano (sometimes)/my voice; for a painter, the tools would be paint, canvas, and brushes.
The arts are humanity’s emotional expression and pieces of their souls documented and immortalized.
What is the worst thing?
Worrying about what other people think! Lol.... For some reason, people who don’t write think that writers just push out this perfect manuscript with no revisions that’s ready to be published, haha =). There’s a post that’s been going around Facebook recently that says something to the effect of, “Your barista spends five minutes making your $5 coffee and you tip them. An author spends a year or two writing a novel, but $5 is just too much to pay for all that work.”
Here’s the thing... as a writer, you come to realize sooner or later in the process of working on your book that people will either like it or hate it or feel meh about it; that isn’t in your control. What is in your control is making sure it’s as polished as it can be, you’ve made sure all of the plot, characters, and sub-plots make sense, and that you love the finished book.
Do you know why major traditional publishers don’t sign new talent that has no following, even if their books are amazing? Because even those powerhouses have no idea how to predict the market.
So I decided to stop worrying about what people will think and wrote something that I would want to read. Something awesome that would make me think and consider things bigger than myself. And now I don’t worry about it as much... Although I am still human and trying to make a living! ;) lol... I figure if it’s meant to be, it will find a way... and this blog tour feels right.
Pantser or plotter?
I think I’m a little bit of both... this was my first full-length novel and I started writing it thinking that I would remember everything, but about halfway through I really, really wished I’d done an outline and some character sketches. I’ve written a few scenes for the second book, but I refuse to get immersed in it until I have a solid outline because a lot happens in each of these books.
I’m definitely plot-oriented... for a while, I struggled with character development and making sure my characters were round and had a personality. I feel like if I have an outline, I have a roadmap of where I’m going. It may not tell me exactly who’s in the car with me, but at least I know where I’m heading, right? =)
What do you see the direction of your future writing taking? What can we expect next? Give us a little taste.
Well... I have my trilogy planned out somewhat. Fibers, Numbers, and Embers... then I was thinking about doing a sort of prologue novel called Ashes as a connected book but not an official part of the trilogy. Sometime after this blog tour, I want to see how my marketing efforts did and if the book makes it anywhere ;). Then I want to publish an eBook on the Kindle of all of the resources, tips, tricks, and advice I’ve gotten on book marketing from various sources over the last four years. The working title of that book is called The No Bull Guide to Self-Promotion for Independent Authors, which will be a part of www.NoBullSelfPublishing.com.
Next mission for fiction? I have a paranormal YA series planned that involves the spiritual dimension, infants with marks, and their destinies... but that’s all I can say about that =). This idea is kind of on the back burner until I finish the Infiltration Trilogy because I hate leaving things unfinished before I start something new lol... even when it comes to cereal packages, milk, or toilet paper! That’s my OCD showing a little ;).
Just for fun
Cat or dog person?
Both... we have three cats and a puppy =). The cats are Spaz and Diamond, who are brother and sister and weird lovers who had Chill Pill as a son lol. Spaz actually got stuck in a tree about 60 feet up for three weeks (they didn’t believe us until they got him down). His situation got us all on the show Treetop Cat Rescue on Animal Planet (please tell me that wasn’t my “15 minutes” ... OMG lol). Check it out:
Our puppy will be a year old in June and his name is Thor; he’s a mix of German Shepherd, Boxer, and Husky. And he’s a derp ;). A short video of him (funny):
I can’t pick a favorite! I love cooking, love food, love learning new recipes, and adore feeding a large number of people =). Unfortunately I can’t eat that much (I know, I don’t look it, but it’s true!), so I have to be careful about eating as I cook, but I adore food. Love salads and salad variations, I do eat meat, I like all kinds of vegetables, and one of my closest friends just recently introduced me to putting fruit in salad... wow. It tastes so amazing. I also love to grill and try to do that for my family as much as possible when it’s warm because it tastes awesome. I am also in love with certain spices, some of my favorites being peppercorn medley in a grinder and basil. I love basil. Good food is just awesome, period =). Oh, I love sushi. Maybe that counts as a favorite that I haven’t learned to make myself yet ;).
Awww, you want me to pick one for here, too? I have a handful....
- Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
- Phantom by Susan Kay
- The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
I have a few of those, too, but only a few ;). I can never just settle on one favorite anything because different things have different experiences, meanings, interpretations/perceptions attached to them. Hopefully a few will be okay =).
- Girl, Interrupted
- Fight Club
- Vanilla Sky
- Across the Universe
- The Descent
- American Beauty
- 10 Things I Hate About You
- Foxfire (with Angelina Jolie)
- The Secret (law of attraction, documentary)
There are several holidays I absolutely love, and the kids and I spend pretty much all of our holidays with family and close friends =). I LOVE Thanksgiving because it reminds us of what life is all about: gratitude. I also love Christmas because it brings us all together to celebrate, have awesome food, and feel happy with our loved ones around us. Easter and Independence Day are two others that are spent with family and friends, celebrating together and having fun and amazing food. My mom and I cook together for some of these ;). I just adore time with family and friends =). My other favorite is Halloween... I like dressing up, but more than that I love being able to do my kids’ costumes and makeup without spending a fortune, and I love how happy they are walking around the neighborhood and having fun =).
Would you rather be the princess or the villain? Why?
I would rather be the villain. The reason is simple... the princess is usually portrayed as a helpless damsel in distress, in need of saving by the prince... the villain is self-made and usually misunderstood. Kinda sums up my situation, except I’m not bitter ;). Lol
Who has more fun, orcs or hobbits?
Having never been either one, I have no idea! Lol
Anna Reynolds is caught up in the middle of a secret interdimensional government agreement... and she doesn't even know it.
There's a medical anomaly loosely dubbed Morgellons disease afflicting a number of people. Symptoms include open sores that produce colorful string-like fibers, fatigue, and nightmarish visions of shadowy figures. No one knows where it came from. No one knows what causes it. There is no cure.
When Anna begins having nightmares and waking hallucinations of the shadow people, her uneasiness about her condition grows. Enlisting the help of her doctor and some friends, Anna is determined to find out what's really going on and why Morgellons is such a mystery.
With her health declining and doubts about whom she can trust, is Anna doomed to become a slave to her condition? Or will she and her unlikely group of would-be heroes come through, saving her... and, ultimately, the world?
As Anna walked home through the glistening streets of Deeplake, Washington, she adjusted her scarf and wrapped her coat around herself tightly, her breath fogging up the air in front of her. After a brief glance over her shoulder, she quickened her pace, her bag of groceries teetering in her arms momentarily as she readjusted her grip.
She’d been feeling like someone was watching or following her for weeks. At first she just shrugged it off as her own overactive imagination, but the other day, she could’ve sworn she saw a shadow out of the corner of her eye. When she looked, there was nothing there. That wasn’t the first time she had seen shadows. They were always there, just out of sight, their existence never confirmed by a direct glance. But every time it happened, she got goosebumps and the hair on the back of her neck stood on end like it does when you know someone is watching you.
Her left eye began to feel itchy and grainy as she walked, and she cursed herself for not driving. She blinked several times, but after a few moments her eye felt like it had sand in it again. This was accompanied by an unpleasant tickling sensation, which became annoying very quickly.
Her thoughts wandered as her eye got worse. She felt guilty but justified for not mentioning her problems to Casey, who had more than enough on her plate already. She also didn’t want to come across as crazy; Anna was certain she wasn’t. Some of the recent events in her life were crazy, but she was definitely sane.
Do crazy people think they’re sane?
Jennifer-Crystal Johnson is originally from Germany, but was raised an Army brat. She has published one novella under her former last name, The Outside Girl: Perception is Reality (Publish America, 2005 - out of print as of 2013), a poetry book, Napkin Poetry (Broken Publications, 2010), and a collection of poetry, art, and prose called Strangers with Familiar Faces (Broken Publications, 2011). She's also published a collection of short creature horror stories called If You're Human Don't Open the Door (Broken Publications, 2012), a personal development book called The Ten Pillars of a Happy Relationship (Broken Publications, 2014), and a collection of more horror stories (no creatures this time, just people) called Our Capacity for Evil (Broken Publications, 2015). She has several poems and short stories published on Every Writer's Resource and has recently published a science fiction novel called Fibers, the first book in the Infiltration Trilogy. Jen owns and operates Broken Publications (www.BrokenPublications.com) and publishes an annual anthology to raise awareness about domestic violence called Soul Vomit (www.SoulVomit.com). When she isn't writing or editing, she enjoys playing games with her three kids, watching crime shows on Netflix, or reading. She lives in WA State with her three children, three cats, and a crazy puppy named Thor. You can connect with her at www.JenniferCrystalJohnson.com, @brokenpoet, or www.Facebook.com/JenniferCrystalJohnson.