trees and hills

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jean C. Gordon--A Multi-Published Author With A Big Heart From A Small Town

This week's guest on Everyone's Story, author Jean C. Gordon, and I grew up on the extreme opposites of New York state. Jean from a small town in the western part, and me in Brooklyn. We met in-between at a writer's group and have been friends since. Jean, a devoted wife and mom, is a strong, versatile, and most beautiful woman. It's been exciting to watch her publish so many books through the years.


Although I'll be asking her some questions, Jean would enjoy hearing from you. She is also graciously offering one book giveaway of her newly released Love Inspired novel, SMALL-TOWN SWEETHEARTS to one randomly chosen commenter. Please leave your email address within your comment, or contact me directly if you're aiming for privacy. And, I'd love for you to Follow this blog if you choose.



As a fellow New Yorker I cannot resist this question: why do you set your stories in New York, particularly upstate New York, a place seldom visited by novelists, especially the Christian author?

Because I’m a native Upstate New Yorker, a native Western New Yorker to be precise, and proud of it.  I have a personal crusade to share my part of New York with others that started when my husband and I were first married and living and going to college in Los Angeles. It seemed that everyone I met, from all over the country, thought the entire state of New York was like New York City and within a short driving distance of the City. It’s a seven-hour drive from my hometown to New York City. At that point in my life, I’d never even been to there.

Upstate is quite different from the Downstate New York City area. Upstate we have dairy farms, mountains, lakes, orchards, and lots of villages and hamlets with fewer than 5,000 people that aren’t near any major cities. Wyoming County in Western New York, where I grew up, is the number one diary county in the state and has about the same number of milk cows as people (40,000). I also think that small-town New York has as strong a Christian element as small towns elsewhere in the country.

Your just released novel, SMALL-TOWN SWEETHEARTS, a Love-Inspired book, is your first venture into category fiction. Have you found writing for this market and its reader different from your other novels? Are you self-promoting it any differently?

I have to disagree that SMALL-TOWN SWEETHEARTS is my first category fiction. I think all of my novels from Avalon Books are also category fiction. The big difference between them and SMALL-TOWN SWEETHEARTS is the stronger faith element in my Love Inspired novel. I’ve found that many Avalon Book readers also read Love Inspired romance.

I am doing a lot more promotion for my Love Inspired book, though, since the main market for Avalon is libraries. I’ve been blogging more than I ever have before and am taking part in a contest on Fresh Fiction with my fellow The Story Garden: Where good books make good friends authors. I have an author page on Facebook, www.Face.com/JeanCGordon.Author and am on Twitter, @JeanCGordon. I also went around to all of the stores in my immediate area that sell Love Inspired books counted the number of books available and put local author stickers on all of the stock. I plan to go back later in the month and see how they sold.

This Love Inspired release is also your first venture with working with an agent. How has this collaboration varied for you?

My agent, Diana Flegal with the Hartline Literary Agency is great. I like knowing I have someone who believes in me and my writing mission working for me. I don’t really need an agent to write for Love Inspired, but Diana brings more than just selling the manuscript to the table — encouragement, promotion guidance, career guidance, a connection with her other authors though her Pencilbox Crew email group.

As a professional financial planner and editorial manager for a financial publisher, do you ever have right-brain vs. left-brain wars when it comes to the more creative side of writing fiction?

Although I do take an organized, more linear approach to writing my books, I don’t find that my analytical side interferes with my creativity.

Do you see an author’s theme developing from one novel to the next?

That’s an easy one. Home, or coming home, is the theme of all of my books, so far, at least.

You favor writing love stories/romances. Do you itch to try another genre?

No, I like writing and reading happy stories. My favorite reads are romance, women’s fiction, and historical novels. I’m not much of a mystery or suspense reader. But, whatever I read, I like it to have a happy ending.

Between working full-time outside of writing, and writing, family and church, are you able to enjoy any downtime? Any secrets on how to have such pleasure without the tag of guilt?

To be honest, I don’t have much downtime. When I do, I like to spend it with my family. And, sorry, but I have no insights into how to indulge myself without having at least a tiny tag of guilt. But I’m working on that.


Please indulge the fantasy: if someone were to give you a never-ending check to do what you want, what would be your top three priorities? And for fun, since finances wouldn’t be a worry, what three things would you like to try (think bucket-list)?
Remember that I’m a financial planner. I’d (1) retire from my day job, (2) set up college funds for my grandchildren, (3) and work on restoring our nineteenth century farmhouse. My fun things all involved travel. I like to (1) visit all of the U.S. states I haven’t been to, (2) visit Scotland, especially the highland areas where my and my husband’s families came from, and (3) go to the Grand Ole Opry. One more thing I’d do that doesn’t quite fit either category is start a nonprofit organization or donor advised fund with my husband to help those less fortunate. We always say we’ll do this if we ever came into a large amount of money.


Author Bio:

Jean C. Gordon’s writing is a natural extension of her love of reading. From that day in first grade when she realized t-h-e was the word “the,” she’s been reading everything she can put her hands on. A professional financial planner and editorial supervisor for a financial publisher in Albany, NY, Jean is as at home writing retirement- and investment-planning advice as she is writing romance novels, but finds novels a lot more fun.

She and her college-sweetheart husband tried the city life in Los Angeles, but quickly returned home to their native Upstate New York. They share a 170-year-old farmhouse just south of Albany with their daughter and son-in-law, two grandchildren, and a menagerie of pets. Their son lives nearby. While Jean creates stories, her family grows organic fruits and vegetables and tends the livestock de jour.

Although her day job, writing and family don’t leave her a lot of spare time, Jean likes to give back when she can. She and her husband team-taught a seventh-and-eighth-grade Sunday school class for several years and currently serve on her church’s Evangelism Committee. She also shares her love of books with others by volunteering at the church’s Book Nook.

Links:
Twitter: @JeanCGordon
Harlequin Love Inspired website: http://www.harlequin.com/store.html?cid=236

14 comments:

  1. Jean, you sound like such a nice person. I used to think New York City took up most of the state until we had the sweetest neighbor from upstate New York. She told me about the farms and vineyards, dairies, etc. I was amazed.

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  2. Great interview, Jean and Elaine. I love Western NY--very much like home minus the mountains. :)

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  3. Kudos to any Christian writer who focuses on upstate NY! I love all the authors out there and enjoy reading about other areas but we are sadly unrepresented in the New York area. And yes, so true that everyone thinks NYC as soon as you mention NY...

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  4. I already admire Jean for her sweet personality. She and I share Diana as an agent. I'd love to win her book! Thanks for the great interview.

    browncarole212(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  5. It really is like we're two different states, Caroline.

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  6. Caroline, Cynthia, Sandra, and Caroline--thanks so much for your visit to Everyone's Story. And thanks for the great comments!

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  7. I have not read any of Jean's books (must rectify that since getting a Nook Tablet) but I enjoy this discussion of profile.

    I would like to add that my Father (Elaine's Father in Law) told us when he was in the service (WW 2, Aleutians, Attu) he used to tell everyone he was from New Hampshire when asked where he was from. If he honestly told them he was from "New York" they immediately assumed New York City, and he wanted no such connection!

    Good for Ms. Gordon for being both a successful author but also for representing UpState NY. As a former Dairy farmer and a current "upstater" (always.. LOL) her stance is much appreciated.

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  8. Hi, Caroline and Sandra. Waving. Sandra is one of my fellow Love Inspired authors. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Cynthia.

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  9. Nancy S.--great to see you again in this little corner of the world ☺

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  10. Elaine, thank you for such probing questions! This was fun & educational to read!!
    Ms. Gordon, it was fascinating (& humbling) to read that ur analytical side does not compete or get in the way of your creativity, as is often the case for me. Thank you for sharing and I am excited for the transition you are making into this field of writing. ~Tribbs (stribbey@yahoo.com)

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  11. You're welcome Nancy and Tribbs. My Avalon books may be available in your public libraries.

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  12. Tribbs, I'm grateful for your feedback, let alone visit!

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  13. Thanks to all those visitors who commented to Jean. It's finally wintry here in upstate NY, but to warm someone's heart, Jean is graciously giving one giveaway book of SMALL-TOWN SWEETHEARTS to... Tribbs. Yeah, Tribbs! Jean will contact you shortly. Congratulations, and happy reading.

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  14. Jean,

    Heartfelt appreciation to you for being my guest this past week on Everyone's Story. It's been a joy seeing you sell your novels through the years and bringing hope and love to others. I'm thankful to have you as my friend!

    ♥ Elaine

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