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Q and A With Author Jamie Lynn Braziel

Emma, the heroine of Declaring Spinsterhood , has had it. Fed up with a lousy ex-boyfriend and mixed messages from her male best friend, not to mention being teased by her family, she announces she is going to embrace being a spinster.

In this Q and A, author Jamie Lynn Braziel talks about her journey from writing her first draft to becoing an Amazon Encore author.

Q: Tell me a little bit about what started you writing Declaring Spinsterhood.

A: had posted a link for National Novel Writing Month and I clicked over and thought “that looks fun.” I had been with my family during Thanksgiving and the holidays and they were teasing me about “where was my boyfriend?” On the way home it popped into my head – what if somebody told their family ‘I’ve had it.” I kind of just thought about it a bit and I thought I wonder if I could write a novel about this. November 1, 2006 was the start and 30 days later I had 50,000 words. Every night after I’d get home from work or class I would have a goal of so many words. I’d email my friends every morning and they’d give me feedback.

Q: What were things that changed over the course of editing and rewriting?

A: The original novel had the declaration at the end of the book. The second editor was very good, and she emailed me after I read through the novel and said I’m going to make a big suggestion, which is that the declaration has to come at the beginning. So it was a rewrite of the whole thing.

Q: One of the interesting things we learn about Emma early on is that she didn’t sleep with her last boyfriend.
I’m a preacher’s daughter and I’ve been raised in church all my life. I believe that sex is something that is really sacred and really should occur between two people who intend to spend the rest of their lives together. I don’t believe it’s something that should be taken lightly.

It’s kind of funny because the feedback I’ve been getting is from one end of the spectrum or another. Some readers love the fact that she doesn’t have sex with anybody and everybody and other readers think it’s completely unrealistic. They say, “you can’t have a boyfriend for two years and not sleep with him.”

Q: There’s also a pretty strong theme of being active in church, and Emma is proud to learn how to shoot and carry a gun. Are you part of a new wave of Christian southern ‘chick lit’?

A:I think to a certain extent. I’m all for any kind of literature that puts a strong female lead character out there and especially one who is not afraid to take care of herself and doesn’t rely on other people or a boyfriend to be happy in life. By having Emma get the gun and all of that, that’s extremely common down here in the South. We love our guns in the state of Texas. As far the Christian side of it, and having the moral side of it, there’s definitely more women or even men who have those beliefs. But in this day and age if you talk about them you become the butt of the joke. I think there are a lot of people who are afraid to admit they are old-fashioned.

Q: I’ve seen some criticism of how awful Emma’s mom is.

A: It was my good-humored way of getting back [at some family members] for all the years of teasing and ribbing. It was my way of paying tribute to them in other ways. In some ways every character in that book is a reflection of one or a number of people in my family.

I’ve seen a lot of reactions to Emma’s mother. No one can believe anyone would be that horrible in real-life.  In a way [these characters] are all based in reality but some of them are total caricatures. I think some people take it too seriously. Emma’s mother is meant to be this fantastically horrid person, but she’s based on someone in my family.

Almost every person who has read the book has said to me “oh, I can completely relate to this” because it’s so common down here when you’re talking about women in my situation who aren’t married. It’s very common for people my age to be single down here, but it’s also common to face pressure.  It has to do with the age gap. Down in the South people expect you to get married and raise a family. … I am 34. It never goes away. It’s less as I’ve gotten older because I think my poor family has given up at this point. 

Q: Although it’s probably better since you are a published author.

A: (Laughs) I tell them “y’all keep on going, you’re giving me ideas for the next one.”

Q: How did the relationship with Amazon Encore develop?
I had self-published and then the Kindle came out. Amazon made it so that you could self-publish on the Kindle yourself and I thought, “that’s a way to get more readers.” People would be more likely to snatch it up at a lower price. Not having an established name or anything, I thought this would be a way to get some publicity and feedback. I started selling the novel on the Kindle through the self-publishing platform. I got an email from one of the acquisitions editors at Amazon Encore who said “we are tracking your sales numbers and we’re interested in giving you help."

Q: What’s next for you? You just finished your masters in accounting, right?
Yes, [that’s been] six long years. I have been kicking around a few ideas [for the next book]. … People have this idea that once a publisher signs you can be a full-time writer. You definitely have to keep a day job to pay the bills. That’s what working is the bank is all about. That’s my day job to pay the bills and this is my creative outlet. I’m realistic and realize there are only a very, very few authors who can live off their royalties.

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