For Fantasy Author Jen Crane, Life’s Too Real For Nonfiction

I’m thrilled to host self-published author Jen Crane today! Jen came out with a bang with her first two books from the Descended of Dragons series, and the third book is on its way. The second book, Origin Exposed, was selected as an “Our Picks” selection for the week in Fantasy/Sci-Fi on iTunes. If you want to get started on this riveting series, start now; Rare Form is currently on sale for only 0.99!

Read on to hear about how Jen fits writing into her busy life and why she chose to self-publish.

How long have you wanted to be a romance writer? When did you decide to write a book?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and even chose careers in which writing was my primary focus. But those tasks required I take complicated subject matter and reformat it for public consumption—federal laws, complicated grants, things of that nature. My past writing lent itself to brevity. So I’ve had to re-learn creative writing.

I began writing a novel over two years ago. I kept having ideas for books in the shower, on long drives—whenever I had time alone to think. These stories wanted out of my head and onto paper. I couldn’t put the thoughts from my mind any longer, and finally decided it was “now or never.” Luckily my husband was super supportive. It’s been a long road, but I’m so glad these books have arrived at their destination. I love them. I hope others do, too.

Where do you find inspiration?

I have a dozen book ideas driving around in my head. This Descended of Dragons series is the one I let off the exit ramp. I love fantasy, whether it’s epic, paranormal, or urban. I wanted to write something I’d like to read, and this story, with its strong heroine, magical world, witty banter, and mythical creatures just came to me in a frenzy.

Describe your writing process.

I write all day on Tuesday and Thursdays. If I’m on a tight deadline, I write in the evenings or weekends, too, when I can. I don’t sit at a desk. I sit on my sofa with a pillow under my laptop, in silence (though occasional wordless music for an intense scene). The back of my house faces a forest, so I watch the squirrels, birds, and deer play while writing about a magical world full of animal shifters.

How long does it take you to finish a book?

Rare Form is the first book I wrote, and it took over two years. I learned to write novels as I…wrote a novel. The second book, Origin Exposed, was finished in six months. For me, once my brain became trained to think a certain way, to put words onto paper, and I developed a schedule it was a much quicker process. Of course, I’d set a tight deadline so that I could release both Books 1 and 2 in the Descended of Dragons series so that readers wouldn’t have to wait—they could go right into the second book. I’m currently writing Book 3, which I’ve tentatively titled Salted Wound, and I hope to release it in Spring 2016.

How do you fit your writing into the rest of your life?

I have three children of my own, and my nephew currently lives with us, too. Life is tough, and filled with little people. But my Tuesdays and Thursdays (unless there’s no school) are dedicated to writing. I try to do social media and author business-related things at night, after the kids go to bed. I fit laundry, housework, dinner, and attention for my husband in there somewhere!

Who gives you writing feedback?

I have made very close friends through my local RWA affiliate, Diamond State Romance Authors. They have been generous and kind to newbies like me. I have two critique partners, though I definitely take more than I receive. I’m working on that. And a couple of friends serve as beta readers.

What made you decide to publish independently?

I initially thought I would publish traditionally, but that was before I knew anything about the business. For a control freak like me, publishing independently has been a dream. It’s tough and tedious, sure, but I’m so glad I did it. I have loved getting to know the many aspects of the business, and feel empowered by the countless details I’ve learned along this process.

When considering publishing I read something that said if you can just get over the need for validation that being pursued by traditional publishers provides—if you know your stuff is good and can just go for it—then indy publishing will be so satisfying. I could get over the need for that validation, I knew people would love my books, and indy publishing has been incredibly satisfying.

What is the biggest challenge of publishing independently?

There are so MANY aspects of publishing independently. From social media requirements to print and ebook formatting, in addition to bookkeeping and advertising, being an indy pubbed author is essentially running a small business. When someone asks what should they do before becoming an author, I usually say ‘Take a business class,’ and I’m not kidding. Writing the book is the easy part.

What are the benefits of publishing independently?

Some benefits of indy publishing are complete control of cover art, editors, release dates, and pricing. Do you have to know the business to make these decisions? Well, sure, but that’s good for ya.

What has surprised you most about the process?

The most surprising thing about this process is how tough it is. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I have a whole new respect for both struggling and successful authors out there—they’ve worked their butt off.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

My advice for aspiring writers is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn the genre(s) you love, learn the business, learn about marketing.

The most important piece of advice, though, may be that aspiring writers should just go for it! Go ahead; take that first step. The first chapter of my books always suck. Absolute crap. But, writing is also about revision (OMG is it!), and what’s important is that a writer…writes.

To aspiring writers I say put words on a screen and begin your story. If you have to take out the first chapter (or three) later, so be it. That rough beginning is a means to an end, and it’s necessary–at least for me. But if a writer never starts….they’ll certainly never finish.

And when an aspiring writer isn’t writing, they should be joining a local writers group, reading up about the publishing industry, and about self-promotion. Takes a WHOLE lotta that.


Jen Crane eBook cover lower res

Discovering a secret past means losing herself completely.

A Secret Past

Fiery redhead Stella Stonewall can’t decide between a margarita and a manhattan.

The rest of her life? Please. Stella has never really fit in, and her pretty world comes crashing down when she learns it was never her world at all.

Rowan Gresham is domineering, brooding, and as sexy as chocolate-dipped sin. When he transports Stella to the magical realm of her parents she recognizes her rightful place immediately. Gresham’s motivations are less clear.

A Scorching Chemistry

The enigmatic Gresham aids in Stella’s metamorphosis and their chemistry ignites, though a long-time girlfriend and a significant age difference stand in the way.

A Battle for the Rest of Her Life

Stella’s life fast-tracks to extraordinary when she enrolls at Radix Citadel for Supernatural Learning, an enchanted college whose students turn furry on the regular. As Stella learns to navigate the magical new world of Thayer she must also find her animal form, a task as elusive as her ancestry. Stella soon faces an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn to manipulate an animal form she never knew she possessed.



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BW Best Headshot



Though she grew up on a working cattle ranch, Jen Crane has been in love with fantasy and sci-fi since seeing a bootleg tape of Quantum Leap in the 90’s.

Jen has a master’s degree and solid work histories in government and non-profit administration. But just in the nick of time she pronounced life too real for nonfiction. She now creates alternate realms filled with adventure, magic, and love.

Jen is happily living out her dream in The South with her husband and three children, striking that delicate balance between inspiration and frustration.



Twitter: @JenCraneBooks

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Pinterest: JenCraneBooks


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