Writer’s Spotlight Episode 1: Jacklynn Desmond

I am starting up a new feature on my blog, where every Friday I interview a writer and get their insight into their process and take on writing.

For this pilot episode, we have Jacklynn Desmond – a writer I have known for almost a year. We belong to a couple of writing groups together, including the Scribes’ Circle. We are both published in A Journey of Words. I’ve read several of her stories, and I can tell you she is one of the most talented writers I know. She will be famous one day, you heard it here first. Not only is she a very talented writer, she has a biting, sarcastic wit that makes me laugh, and is a very dedicated mother. All three traits get her massive respect in my book.

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What names do you write by?
I write almost everything under Jacklynn M Desmond…almost.

Give us a short introduction to you.
My name is Jacklynn Desmond, I am a single mom in the frozen tundra of Northeast Wisconsin. I am a writer, I work full time as a CNA, and I am a nursing student. I’m happiest when I am just bumming around with the Rebel, which is what I call my almost three-year-old son. He’s the best thing I will ever do with my life.

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
No one told me I was a professional! When did that happen? Holy crap, I’ve got to call my mother! Just kidding. I’ve been writing since the fourth grade. Being in a book, either reading or writing was easier for me than the whole people thing. Though you wouldn’t know it now, I used to be quiet. I self-published “Sixteen” a couple of years ago on a lark, just to see if I could. Then life got in the way.
It wasn’t until I got into an online group that I found others like me, there was an exodus into another group that became Fiction Writing, and that’s where one of my short stories “Six Miles to Suring” got picked up by Scout Media.
I became a member of the Scribes’ Circle and got another two stories picked up. From there I don’t know where I’ll go.

In what genre(s) do you write?
I have absolutely no idea. Seriously. I wish I did know how to label my work properly, it would make my life so much easier.

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
I usually know the last line of a story when I start, but I’m a total pantser. I can’t even tell you what my characters are going to do in the next sentence, let alone the next hundred pages. When I outline, I quickly lose all interest in the story. I kind of have to let it out organically, like vomit.

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
Koontz, JR Ward, Silverstein, King. Anything vivid that moves quickly. I have an extremely short attention span and very little patience for flowery exposition.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I’ve written stories for my son, songs, dabbled in some poetry that at some point I’m going to have to pull off my FB wall and turn into something. I’ve done some blogging. Fiction is where my heart lies, I guess. 

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
Oh lord, how hasn’t it? Some of my life can only be described as ‘a rough patch’. If by rough patch you mean being dragged behind a pickup truck by your underwear driven by bad timing, stupid choices, and evil of others while trying to put a pin back into a grenade blindfolded with only your pinky. But everyone has drama and hurt. Coming out of it with only a sardonic sense of humor and some petty hang ups doesn’t make me inspirational speaking material.
Becoming a mom REALLY changed me.
They handed me this tiny little package, this perfect little thing, with itty bitty fingers and toes and no clue what kind of world it was and basically said: “Good luck, try not to turn it into a serial killer, ok?”
What the hell is THAT, right?
Nothing prepared me for how hard I would fall for that boy. Like, the first time I kissed his crinkled little forehead, I was toast. Done.
I had no friggen clue what love was before I held him, and it hit me so hard I thought I was having a heart attack. I also had no clue what fear was. He’s almost three, now, and I still wake up in the middle of the night to make sure he’s still breathing. I have so many moments when I think: “I’m doing this wrong. I’m going to screw this up.”
After you feel fear like that, everything else is trivial. It helped me suck it up and actually begin to put my work out there.

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
In “Six Miles to Suring” there is a moment where Sara, my MC, has to make a choice that will end someone’s life. I wrote it in a flurry and then agonized over it later. Like, should she have been hesitant? Should she think more? Have more emotion? What does it say about me that I wrote it like I would have lived it?
And then I decided, screw it. She’s not the Holy Mother. I left it as it was.

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
Meh.
I mean, I have a few that I let read my stuff, but it’s not something I obsess about.

What inspires your story ideas?
People trying to make me feel better: “Well what’s the worst that could happen?”
My Brain: “Hold my beer and watch this!”
I either write it out or go nuts.

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I was in RWA, but I lapsed. That $20 membership fee to my Wisconsin chapter, too rich for my blood.  Now that I know more about the industry and trying to put more work out there I might rejoin. I’m in several writing groups online, but most active in Scribes’ Circle and Fiction Writing. 

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
Oh dude, snippets? Feel like I just walked into class naked.
I honestly don’t have anything besides notes scattered around my bedroom, in my car, in my coat pocket. Some of them I’ll use, some of them I won’t. Here’s a half folded gem I just got out of my jeans pocket.
“Kill Emery first—like too much—find black notebook—Pick up dog from farm”

Have you been published?
“Sixteen”
Billy Star knows what he witnessed in the frozen woods so long ago is impossible. There are no such thing as monsters, and there is no way that his brother was brutally murdered by one. So he suffers his fate in silence. William Schutte had always known that the grizzly crime scene of years ago was a travesty. No wolf pack could cause the absolute depravity that his search team found in the frozen North Woods. Now more bodies are surfacing, fresh kills from a grim unknown, and Schutte and young Billy must find and face the cause before everything they love is destroyed.
https://www.amazon.com/Sixteen-Novella-Jacklynn-M-Desmond/dp/1481228471/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488061408&sr=8-1&keywords=jacklynn+desmond

“Six Miles to Suring
A young woman flees an abusive relationship with her infant daughter in tow, but she’ll face more than just her fears on this journey home.
www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-journey-of-words

How can readers follow you?
authorontheridge@yahoo.com
https://www.facebook.com/Jacklynn-M-Desmond-248333411971713/
I do try to answer all of my emails, but honestly, if you don’t want to wait for me to wade through my Luvs coupons and newsletters from my mom’s group and the zoo, try my Facebook first.

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
Coffee. I like coffee. Wanna be my friend? Bring coffee. Dark roast, French vanilla creamer, touch of ice.

Thanks, Jacklynn, for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!

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Author Confessions, Day Thirty-One

Pitch Only the Dead Go Free!

This is the last Author Confession – it’s been fun!

Only the Dead Go Free is about Wendy Sigler, an alcoholic, heroin-addicted woman who is trying to clean herself up for her daughter, Fiona. After her Hell’s Angel boyfriend Earl beats up Fiona, Wendy takes her to her late father’s cabin in the woods. What was supposed to be their sanctuary becomes Hell on Earth, when Earl arrives and wakes up what was already living there. Wendy fights ferociously to save her child and ends up discovering the mystery behind the cabin.

OTDGF has been submitted to a publisher. I will update on this blog once one has picked it up.

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Author Confessions, Day Twenty-Nine

Who do you most admire?

In terms of writing, that is a tough call. I have so many influences. Shakespeare, Chaucer, Poe, Wells, Tolkien, Auel, King, Crichton, and Martin are all favorite authors of mine for various reasons. Each has left a considerable footprint on either my writing or storytelling styles.

Outside of the writing sphere, it would most likely be Mahatma Ghandi.

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Author Confessions, Day Twenty-Eight

Who do you ‘channel’ when you write?

Usually, it is me – either something from my past or just one or more of the facets of my personality. Other times I think inspiration hits based on either what I am going through at that moment, or by a song, or sometimes even just seeing an Open Submissions call for a themed anthology. We all have had different life experiences. Most of us have been in love, have been hurt, have hurt others. These experiences are what I channel most.

The Last Ride is straight from my past – so much that I consider that story to be Creative Nonfiction – all the events are nonfiction (to the best of my recollection), but the canine POV is clearly fictional.Thankful is also based on my past working in retail decades ago. Waves is based on my late Grandfather’s past.

Only the Dead Go Free and Endless Skies are both inspired by songs. Only the Dead Go Free was further spurred by an Open Submission Call for an anthology called A Haunting of Words, and Endless Skies by an Open Submissions Call for a writing contest with parameters which met the theme I already had planned for it.

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Author Confessions, Day Twenty-Seven

Where do you write?

I have a dedicated office in my house. I use this for my day job, my writing, and managing household bills and such. That is where I write into manuscripts and handle the managerial aspects of writing (I am sitting in here right now, listening to the rain outside as I type this up).

That being said, I have a journal I take with me when traveling. I don’t write full stories in it, but rather take notes. It might be a resolution to a problem that has come to me, a new story idea, or an interesting character I have met that needs to make it into a future story. Sometimes I will dictate these notes into my phone, too. Either way, once home these notes get typed up and go into my writing folder in my computer.

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Author Confessions, Day Twenty-Six

When do you write?

Whenever I can. Unfortunately, there is never enough time for it. I work very long hours with the day job and have two children to raise as well. I write a few weeknights a week, but usually not for more than an hour. I spend about six hours writing every weekend. Unfortunately, that is all I have time for at the moment, and it kills me.

I am constantly thinking about my stories, though – how to get around an issue I am having, or developing a character or subplot. My mind is always on it. This at least makes the very little writing time I have quite productive, as I have it all outlined in my head by the time I sit down to do it. This is also why I have so many story ideas I’ve yet to write – the stories come to me and I develop them fairly thoroughly before I even have a chance to put a single word down.

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