Marking five years as a published author & “Montana Reunion” on tour

Feb 3, 2022 | 10 comments |

In the past ten days my sixth book, Montana Reunion, has hit physical and digital bookshelves, and I’ve also marked five years since the release of my first book, The Cottage at Firefly Lake.

Since January 2017, as I’ve transitioned from newbie to more experienced author, I’ve learned lessons big and small. Here are my top four.

Letting go

Once a book is published it no longer belongs solely to me. Rather, it belongs to readers so I have to let it go.

Unless it’s to check a reference or series detail, I don’t reread my books once they’re out either. By then, I’m immersed in writing a new story so although I imagine my fictional characters continuing to live their lives in the world I created, they’re no longer part of my daily life.

Growing my craft and career

In the past five years I’ve published six books in English and three in German translation. Along with an additional German translation, I’m also under contract with a publisher for books seven, eight and nine of which the first, The Sweetheart Locket, is out this March.

I began as a romance writer and Montana Reunion, my latest release, is still a romance book.

However, it’s a different kind of story than my backlist titles. It’s published as part of a Harlequin series, in this case Heartwarming, and it also has a western setting as well as a lower ‘heat level’—what’s known in North America as a ‘clean’ romance.’

The Sweetheart Locket, a dual timeline Second World War and contemporary novel, marks my first foray into historical and women’s fiction, as well as books set partly in England.

Although I’m writing different books than I did at first and, I hope, continuing to learn my craft and become a stronger writer, my core story is still the same.

It’s one that integrates families and multiple generations with romance and a strong sense of place as my characters find fresh starts, loving partnerships and home where they least expect…all with happy, hopeful endings.

The published author mindset

Writing for publication requires perseverance, mental toughness and a very thick skin.

Constant rejection (which happens even after publication), criticism, bad reviews, low sales, social media trolling, creative burnout and more are the darker side of the writing life.

In the first five years of my career, I’ve experienced many of these but I’ve also learned to focus my energy on things I can influence rather than those I can’t.

Chief among these is writing the best books I can, celebrating small joys, lifting up other writers and putting in the work of a career author…day by day and word by word.

Readers

One of the greatest joys of my author life that came with publication is my growing reader community.

Readers who enjoy my books and stick with me for each new release are a special gift. I’m grateful for their support and, in many cases, virtual friendship too. Without such readers, I couldn’t be an author and I appreciate each and every one.

Montana Reunion on tour…and looking towards the next five years

Montana Reunion is currently (January 31-February 9, 2022) on a virtual tour of book bloggers and reviewers via Prism Book Tours.

Follow along via the launch page, here, for exclusive book excerpts, reviews and a chance to win a signed paperback (US, Canada and UK).

Through this tour I’m connecting with new readers, one of whom commented:

“The Carter family welcomes readers into their circle as they did [the heroine]. You won’t want to leave this Montana ranch, the camp or the nearby town.”  Suzie Waltner, Remembrancy

That kind of feeling is one of the promises I made to readers with my first book and it continues today.

I hope you’ll follow me through the next five years in my writing and life.

10 Comments

  1. Heidi Vanstone

    I’m raising a virtual glass of “cheer” (insert beverage of choice!) to congratulate you on your first five years of authorship, and wishing you many, many more fulfilling and enjoyable years!

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Heidi. I appreciate your good wishes and support. My beverage of choice, at least during this very cold week here, has been hot chocolate! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Anne Kinch

    I second Heidi’s virtual salute and congratulations on your five years of authorship (where has the time gone?) and am looking forward to reading your new novels. Best of luck with your future writings and may you have more positive experiences than negative as you continue to enlarge your readership and “fan” base.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Anne. I don’t know where the last five years have gone either! I appreciate your good wishes and hope you enjoy my new books.

      Reply
  3. Lis Angus

    Congratulations, Jen! When I first met you, you had just had your first three books published. Since then I’ve seen how hard you work at your craft, steadily working at your writing even during big disruptions that would derail many authors. Your positive approach to life and to writing is an inspiration.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Lis. Your kind comment touches my heart and I appreciate it, and you, very much. I’m excited for you as you begin your own “published author” journey and wish you much success with your upcoming debut novel.

      Reply
  4. Lynn Butkus

    Congratulations on five years!! Montana Reunion is on the top of my TBR pile, and I am eagerly awaiting the release of The Sweetheart Locket. I am sure they are both going to be just as good as all the others.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you so much, Lynn. I appreciate your support. I’m happy you’ve been reading my books since the start of my career and hope you enjoy “Montana Reunion” and “The Sweetheart Locket” too.

      Reply
  5. Deb

    Oh my gosh, Jen – has it only been five years! I have every book you’ve written, just preordered Sweetheart Locket, and will put up a review for the Monana Reunion (already written,). So excited for the next few in the series. You and I “met” when I was having trouble putting up a comment on your blog. I have your signed “Back Home at Firefly Lake” on my keeper self- love that series. And we bonded over mutual writing of books/stories located in Vermont (my Christmas VT book will come out this year, I hope!). Proud to be a friend and someday we’ll meet in person. You always inspire me!

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Wow, Deb! Thank you on so many counts. Sometimes it feels longer than five years but yes, my first book came out in 2017. I’m honoured that you have all my books and the signed copy is on your “keeper shelf.”

      I also appreciate your support in pre-ordering “The Sweetheart Locket” and leaving book reviews.

      I’m happy you’re a friend in my writing and life and also hope we can someday meet in person too.

      Good luck with your Christmas VT book. I look forward to reading it.

      Reply

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