Today’s edition of Soapbox Spotlight is with author Darlene Jones. She has written a sci-fi series that is quickly gaining popularity with its second installment, Empowered, about which she’s here to talk to us today.
Awesome author photo! So why don’t you tell us a little about yourself, Darlene?
A long time ago, I lived in Mali. Every single day, I wished I could wave a magic wand to relieve the heart wrenching poverty. My experiences there led to the writing of EMBATTLED, which reflects my desire to wave that wand and make the world a better place—if only wishes could come true.
Initially, I intended to write “a” novel. The story and characters took over and the ending demanded another. Empowered is that “other.” I’ve always believed we can’t be the only beings existing in the vastness of the universe; there must be others “out there somewhere”, and I’d like to believe they’re not all that different from us. Those beliefs are reflected in my writing. My novels stay, for the most part, within the realities of our world, but I’ve found that I love the magic the sci-fi element of other beings could bring to a story.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
Yes, and over time I’ve discovered that I have to be aware of certain “mannerisms” in my writing. Just as we have favorite expressions that we use over and over again without realizing it when we speak, I do the same when I write. That’s why a writing partner or a critiquing group are so important. They are there to point those things out to you.
What is your greatest strength as a writer?
One word – determination. You have to be determined to get a book done then to get all the rewrites and edits done, and then to get it published and do the marketing, which I often feel is more work and time consuming than the writing.
I certainly agree with you on that! Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Yes. When I just don’t know where to go with a story, I leave it alone for a month or more. Then when I find myself thinking about it and jotting down ideas (usually on yellow stickies) I go back to the computer.
You sound like a fellow “pantser”! Tell us about your latest work.
Empowered is the second book in my series, but they can all be read as a stand-alone. In this book, Jasmine is convinced that she is invincible and that she has a special mission on Earth. Visions she experienced as a child told her so. They also told her she would find a soulmate. Problem is, her supposed soulmate thinks she’s a nut case. And those visions she believes in so strongly lead to danger as well as love.
Does the writing get easier with each new book?
Definitely. You learn as you write. With my first book, I just wrote; with this one I used an outline, and that made a world of difference in terms of the ease of telling the story. Also, with practice you avoid errors and have a smoother draft the first time around, and that equals fewer rewrites.
How did you come up with the title?
That was tough. Trying to capture the essence of your story in just a few words is so hard. The heroine in the first book is named Em and as she recurs throughout the series, I chose to use “Em” for the title – hence Embattled and Empowered.
How did you develop your plot and characters?
I start with basic ideas – I actually play around with those ideas in my head for a long time (trying to combat insomnia – it doesn’t work – just keeps me wider awake). Then, as I write, more ideas pop into my head. I find the characters often take over and take on personalities of their own. They really do become “real” as I work with them.
I get that feeling about my characters, too. What do you look for in a cover?
Something relatively simple, but that will still attract a reader’s attention. I want the reader to see the cover and be curious about the story.
What do you love about independent publishing?
That I can do it my way on my timeline!
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
The Internet. There is so much information out there and so many people willing to help. It’s people like you who really are the backbone of the publishing industry now. We couldn’t market without you and what good would our books be hibernating in a file on our computers.
Aww, thanks, Darlene! It was my pleasure.
And thank you, Raynetta, for having me!
You can find Darlene at the following sites:
And you can find her books here: