Jacquolyn McMurray

There’s nothing like a dash of romance for the darkest season of the year – so I’ve invited Jacquolyn McMurray to bring a little seasonal spirit, along with writerly thoughts, to the blog this month. Jacquolyn’s most recent book is Sheltered From Love, a second-chance romance. For the season, look also for her Mele Kalikimaka Sweet Hawaiian Romance series, a trio of Christmas romances.

What is your favorite book (or other source) about the craft of writing? Why?

Jacquolyn: My favorite craft book this past year has been The Emotional Wounds Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman. It’s the single best book I’ve found for defining the emotional journey of a character. The book includes several examples of wounding events, and how those events might affect a character. It helps tremendously with how a character might respond to conflict.

What do you like most about writing a first draft?

Jacquolyn: What I like about a first draft is that there is no wrong way. That’s very freeing. I loosely plot my stories before I write them. I at least know what kind of lesson the main character needs to learn and what lie they believe that holds them back from having their best life. In a first draft, I have the freedom to try different hurdles to challenge the main character to see what works.

Sarah: I love this idea of experimenting in the first draft—and the underlying assumption that some things won’t work and may have to be deleted later. I also like the idea of “different hurdles,” small and large, seemingly easy not just apparently insurmountable.

What is your favorite part of revision?

Jacquolyn: I love to dig in and tidy up some of the telling with showing, especially with emotional responses. My critique group is invaluable in pointing out where I should amp up, or tone down, emotional responses.

Sarah: Thanks for bringing up critique groups. I know some people love them and some people don’t. Are there any other things you’d like to share about the value your group brings to you as a writer?

Jacquolyn: A critique group can help provide critical feedback to a writer before revision. I would not feel as confident in revision without the feedback my group provides.

What book (not about writing) are you reading right now or have you recently finished that you would recommend to others? Why?

Jacquolyn: I just finished The Ice Queen by one of my all-time favorite authors, Alice Hoffman. When I read Hoffman, I’m easily swayed to suspend reality and fall into the magical realism she is best known for. The book is populated with well-developed, emotionally challenged, lightning-strike victims searching for their own truths. The main character’s journey kept me turning the pages.

Can you give an example of how you have been kind to someone else recently, in real life or through one of your characters?

Jacquolyn: I believe in consistent, small acts of kindness like smiling at a stranger, opening a door for someone, complementing someone’s efforts so they do not have to shoulder the responsibility alone, and being a good listener. I also believe kindness begets kindness, and it is our responsibility to lift one another. I often fall short, but a little self-talk gets me back on track!

2 thoughts on “Jacquolyn McMurray

  1. Love this interview with Jackie! Her books are heartwarming and a delight to read. As a critique partner, she provides gentle suggestions, valued corrections, and much needed encouragement.

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