Terri Jones is an author from Nashville, TN. She loves character-driven stories and the psychology of what makes people tick. She's a Southern girl and drawn to stories set in the South and the people that inhabit the area. Although, any resemblance is entirely coincidental. Terri is working on her next novel. When not writing, she enjoys hiking and exploring with her husband and two boys.
1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
My most recent work is a novel called The Homecoming. It’s the first book in a new series set in White Oak, a fictional small town in East Tennessee at the foot Monteagle Mountain. The protagonist, Autumn, has graduated from college, but she has to sneak out of town and ends up back living with her parents while trying to sort out her life. She reconnects with her brother’s childhood best friend, Daniel, who has grown up and turned into a hunky Green Beret whose deployment is imminent. The novel follows Autumn’s journey through a turbulent year in her life where she finds the strength she needs to not only survive but go after what she wants.
2. What personal challenges do you face as a writer?
Time. I have a family, and I still have to hold down another job. While I have more time to write than I did when I wrote my first novel, it’s tricky some days to carve out the time to put my butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard. It can be a challenge while mentally taxed to get into the creative zone.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The most challenging part of my artistic process is gaining the ability to write when there isn’t inspiration. For writing books to be a business, you cannot simply wait for inspiration to strike. I’ve worked to train myself to write when I sit down no matter if I’m feeling like it or not. Sometimes what comes out is garbage, sometimes it’s okay. But, what you cannot do is edit a blank page. I’ve found that there are times when things come out that I wasn’t anticipating and the story goes in a beautiful but unseen direction.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Coffee… no that wouldn’t work. I’m not sure. Time is an important commodity for me, and I give that up routinely to read/study writing to become a better storyteller.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It took me ten years to write my first book. I worked a full-time demanding job and had two babies during this time. So, I ended up writing on my 30-minute lunch break until completed. A friend that I worked with read each chapter and kept demanding the next one; who pushed me to finish it. I put it away and forgot about it until after I was laid off. Becoming unemployed became the catalyst that sent me back to writing. Publishing that novel made me realize that if I wanted to make my living as a novelist, then I had to write faster and write even if I didn’t feel inspired.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
I’m sure there are some old, long-forgotten scribbles in notebooks somewhere. The only thing I’m working on right now is book two of my White Oak series. Book two tells the story of two minor characters in The Homecoming, where their love story starts. I’m super excited about it as I had not intended the male character to become a leading man or to fall in love with a friend- she had a boyfriend at the start of the novel. But, their storyline developed naturally, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I have. I tell myself not too and that I’ll stop… but the curiosity gets the better of me. I try not to let either good/bad reviews get to me. Anything negative, I examine and decide if they have a point. Is there something to work on? I understand that not everyone will connect with my writing- I’ve read well-written novels that I didn’t care for so I cannot possibly think that everyone will love mine. It’s fine that’s why there are so many books out in the world.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Not really, there are a couple of names here and there that pay homage to my ancestry or a nod to a close friend.
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Sadly, not in real life. There are some writers on social media groups that have become friends and are willing to lend advice or support.
10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t buy it when people tell you that writing is a cute little hobby, but you need a “real job.” And grow a thicker skin. My first college writing assignment came back marked up with red ink, and it destroyed me. I gave up for a while and that was the worst mistake of my life.
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
A common trap for aspiring writers is believing that they must write everything perfectly the first time. Nope. Some people might be able to put out great first drafts, but the vast majority of us suck at first drafts. The first draft is merely getting the ideas out, the polishing and magic come later- in some cases after many rounds of editing. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike.
12. What’s the best way to market your books?
That’s the million-dollar question. I’m still figuring that out.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
I was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books.
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