I let myself be tagged by Katy Upperman b/c she’s awesome and b/c it looked fun.


What genre do you write? 

I write YA contemporary, urban fantasy, sci-fi, christian fic, new adult fiction and adult fiction. SO far all of my NA, adult and religious fic have been contemporary. So far.

How many books have you written?

I’ve written 31 books.

I have four books published under Jolene Betty Perry. Three books published for Mia Josephs. I’m not sure how many published works are under Jolene Perry – a lot. I have two more books under contract. AJ Brooks (with Allie Brennan) has two completed manuscripts, one of which we’re preparing to put on submission.

Are you published? Yup. Small publisher, published. Self-published. Larger publisher, published. Pros and cons to each, but that’s a WHOLE DIFFERENT BLOG POST.


How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? 

I used to just JUMP IN. Now I like to let the idea simmer. I want to really know my character before I start writing. Some characters scream at me right away, some whisper.

I run.

I make playlists.

And once the character starts yelling at me, I write.

How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? 

Almost none for contemporaries. If I know what’s going to happen, I get bored and don’t want to write the story. I have like 4 detailed outlines for contemporary novels, but it took the fun out of it and I don’t care about those books anymore, so they probably won’t get written.

Speculative?? More planning. I do mostly world-building, world/magic rules, character sketches. Not much plotting. SOME part of the process has to feel exciting as I write. It does mean that every few chapters, I need to stop, take a break, look over what’s been revealed so far, what needs to come out, what should happen. So more plotting w/ the speculative fiction for SURE. That’s the stuff I write with Allie Brennan, and she makes me halt every so often – otherwise my re-writes on those would be HORRENDOUS.

If you use an outline, what type do you use (snowflake, index card, etc)?

I use Blake Snyder’s beat sheet. SO awesome. Well, this is a lie… I sort of think about his beat sheet in the back of my head. When/if I get stuck, I pull it out and fill it in. Sometimes I follow that. There are times when I outline AFTER my first draft is done, and then see my highs and lows. It helps me re-organize if I need to, or bring tension out where it lacks. Most of my stories start with a character, and they don’t always like to be outlined before I write.


How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? 

There is no “usually.”  I go over and over and over and OVER a book. I take breaks between reads and force myself to work on something else that takes up all the room in my brain. I probably do 10 solid edit sessions w/ each book. Maybe more.

How long does it take you to write a first draft? The shortest amount of time was with Stronger Than You Know – 5 days. The book, structurally, is unchanged. I’ve added two very small chapters, and smoothed language, filled out…but that’s it. The longest? Not sure because I started a book two years ago that I knew would take me a long time to write and that I knew I didn’t have the skills to write yet, so that one could take several more years. I’m not in a hurry to finish it, so I guess if I work on one project and nothing else, I generally have a first draft in two to four weeks. If I’m editing and beta reading, but only working on MY projects, probably two or three months.

How long do revisions usually take you? I take my time with revisions. And I hate to even call them “revisions” – it is generally smoothing over and filling out. For me, this is where the good stuff comes in. Each time I read over my book, my characters gain more depth, my language gets more interesting, my action and description get fuller. I have a couple books I finished years ago that I’ve let sit until I’m so excited to make them pretty I can’t take it anymore. THAT’S when I’ll go back in and get them ready. Not before.

Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? No. Only three out of the thirty-one have changed drastically – INSIGHT (Sepculative), DEAL (the book that might kill me, but I’m ALMOST ready to send to my agent) and GESTAPO (w/ Christa Desir).

Whew! This was fun 😀

Thanks KATY UPPERMAN for doing the – whoever wants to be tagged is tagged 😉

I’d LOVE to see this post from my peoples – so, if you decide to answer these questions, leave me a link so I can read it!!!

And, I know I just posted about this book and cover, but LOOK!! I’m just in love. It is so much fun to see something so totally different from what I pictured, but so totally perfect for the story. (Comes out September 2014)

Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 3.44.40 PM

~ Jolene




7 thoughts on “MY. WRITING. PROCESS.

  1. First, that STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW cover is gOrGeOuS. And I loved hearing about your process — I can’t believe how quickly you’re able to crank out drafts! Color me envious. 🙂 My revision process is similar. I read over and over and over a MS and each time, then story ends up deeper and with more “texture.” That’s my favorite part of the process. So glad you played along with this post, Jo!

    1. LOVED playing along!! I think it’s usually my LAST read over that I get the “good stuff” – you know, things I might actually quote later. My poor betas rarely see this version 😉

  2. 31 books. Wow. Just…wow.

    Loved reading about your writing process. And, like Katy, I’m in awe of how quickly you can produce a first draft.

    Also, (and I know you already know this) Stronger Than You Know’s cover is fantastic. I look forward to reading it this September.

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