Today on the blog I have Krista Lynne Jensen, who is one of my favorite LDS authors. You can find her on Amazon, Facebook, and her blog, and read more about her books. I’ve read all of her published stories, and I’m really excited to read her newest one, Kisses in the Rain, coming next month.
I invited Krista to talk about her writing and how she got started, and she was too gracious to accept the invitation. In her own words:
“I’m Krista Jensen and I write contemporary clean romance, inspirational romance, and fantasy. I started writing seriously in 2008. I was 38 years old, so kind of a late bloomer. I’ve always loved writing and even when I was little I was drawn to words in general. I was a big reader. But in high school and college I pursued art. I never considered writing fiction. I basically believed that I didn’t have it in me, and I was pretty content reading stories others had written.
But then I was hit with a few big trials and I felt that I needed to write them down for posterity, because we made it through and I wanted my kids to know those experiences. I kept putting it off, though, being busy with four kids and family life, etc.
Finally, in 2008, three things took place that sort of “launched” me into action. My youngest child started full-time kindergarten, and I suddenly had more time. I was watching an LDS conference talk by Pres. Henry B Eyring, and as he shared how he’d observed his father-in-law rendering some service, he was struck with the prompting, “I do not give you these experiences for your own good. Write them down.” I heard that and I got goose bumps. But I wasn’t sure how to start. Very soon after hearing that talk, a friend of mine started up a writing group, and my heart pounded as I signed up. I suddenly had the time, the motivation, and the support to get started.
I did write that personal story. My writing group read and critiqued it. They loved it. My friend issued us a challenge to try to write something we hadn’t tried before. A new genre, a new form, anything. She looked directly at me and said, “Krista, I want you to try fiction.”
I was stumped with how writers of fiction come up with ideas. How do they make stuff up? So our group talked about where ideas come from. Stories come from other stories. Ask “What if?” Take a favorite story, a favorite scene, a favorite line or plot twist, and make it your own. I was reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion at the time and it was becoming my favorite Austen. I mulled it over for about a week, thinking of it at night, when I woke up, as I did dishes, drove around town, whatever. One morning I woke up and knew where my story would take place, and by noon I had a character bio for five or six characters. I took off. And I didn’t stop for much. I wrote The Orchard in six weeks and somehow managed to feed my kids in there somewhere. I finished it, triumphant, and thought, “Well, I’ll never be able to do that again.” But within a week I knew what I would write next. So I did it again. Eight weeks later I finished Falling for You, and knew what my next story was going to be before I wrote “The End.”
My writing group helped me get The Orchard ready for submission, and I sent it off. I didn’t hear from Covenant Communications for nine months. But while I was waiting I just kept writing. I wrote four more novels (one a historical speculative ) during that time. I finished the fourth just a week before I got the acceptance letter for The Orchard. I was so excited and shocked and amazed! Covenant asked for a lot of revisions, but I could see the improvements those would make. They liked the story, and that was important! I immediately submitted Falling for You and they liked that one, too.
Soon after, I began writing Of Grace and Chocolate, I suspenseful romance inspired my mom’s upbringing. When I submitted that to Covenant, they liked it enough to believe that it would make the better debut novel. That was interesting, because as excited as I was for The Orchard to come out, when I’d finished Of Grace and Chocolate, I silently wished that it would have come out first. I’d learned so much about writing by then, and I’d grown. And here Covenant had seen the same thing. I was happy to make the switch, and so Of Grace and Chocolate, the fifth novel I’d written, became my first published novel. The Orchard and Falling for You came after, along with some novellas I wrote for anthologies, and now my fourth book, Kisses in the Rain, is coming out in June. And I’m still working on the fantasies!
Everyone has a different publishing story. I love hearing how authors began and succeeded, and I’m very happy to have my own version. It’s been an incredible journey so far. I love being an author. I think my little-girl self would think that was pretty incredible. Lots of smiles.
Thanks for inviting me, Cindy. Write those words.”