Afta-U by Jennifer-Lynn Keniston: Blog Tour Launch and Giveaway
Twenty-nine years after the tragic death of her childhood best friend, Hope, Jean Cartwright Rhodes returns to her hometown with her husband and daughter after she inherits the house her friend’s family once lived in. Now, years later, she finds herself haunted by a dark truth – and by the specter of Hope herself. Every time Jean looks through her kitchen window, she sees two stark reminders of her troubled past; the Afta-U sailboat, ironically named after young Hope, and the old oak tree where her eleven-year-old friend met her death at the hands of another child. Afta-U unfolds as a psychological chess match, a complex web of intrigue, unexpected relationships, lies, and devastating secrets as Jean struggles with the impact of decisions she made long ago on all the lives around her. When Jean confronts and tries to come to grips with Hope’s killer, she finds herself waging a personal battle between madness and redemption.
Afta-U is an adult mystery/suspense novel for ages 17 and older. The book is complex and sometimes dark, and filled with Christian messages.
Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing (November 24, 2015)
Afta-U is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.
Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Afta-U please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes Sunday, January 24th at 11:59 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!
About Jennifer-Lynn Keniston:
Raised in Hanson, Massachusetts, the author earned a Master of Arts degree in English, from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy, from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire. Jennifer-Lynn currently works as a project manager for a company that provides cloud software products for call centers at small, medium, and enterprise companies. In April 2014, she started her own business, Ansel Resume Resolution Services LLC, writing resumes and cover letters. She now lives and writes in Concord, New Hampshire, and enjoys teaching Spinning classes in her free time.
-----Interview by Renee Roberson
WOW: Who was the hardest character to write in Afta-U? Why?
Jennifer: I think Nick Rhodes was actually a difficult character for me to write. I wanted him to be similar to a Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, and remain trustworthy practical, rational, and have a high moral code. While he needed to be somewhat non-judgmental, it did take me a few drafts of the novel to show him not just always agreeing with Jean, etc. I was surprised when a good friend of mine told me that Nick was actually one of her favorite book characters – although almost too good to be true as a person and husband!
WOW: I would have thought the main villain would have been the hardest--but I can see your point about wanting to write Nick just the right way. Your story involves the use of flashbacks as Jean remembers her friendship with Hope, the accident surrounding Hope's death, and other childhood memories. Do you have any tips for those who might be incorporating flashback scenes into a novel?
Jennifer: One concern when I started to write flashback scenes for Afta-U, was how I was going to ensure a reader would immediately recognize that there was a time lapse or shift in the story. So, when I was writing the novel, I decided that it would be best to use a symbol to make it easier to differentiate these time lapses, etc. After a friend, Linzi, who had read a few drafts of my novel, suggested a rope symbol, I was instantly in agreement since the boat is such a huge symbolic image throughout Afta-U. After I conducted a search, I fell in love with the final rope insertion that is throughout Afta-U and contains three infinity twists in the boat rope. These three infinity twists reminded me of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost reference and aligns with the Christian themes throughout the novel. One tip that I learned when writing a flashback scene came from my book editor, Mike Ball. From Mike, I learned not to write a flashback scene that isn’t relevant and which detracts from the story and can confuse a reader like “a story within a story.” I had written one of those exact frowned upon scenes, and this scene was carefully rewritten and edited to fit having Jean as a participant in the flashback, and not Jean recalling a story she had heard from her father growing up.
WOW: How did you find your book's publisher, Tate Publishing?
Jennifer: I honestly cannot remember exactly how I initially heard of Tate Publishing. I conducted numerous searches on-line and had been submitting countless letters to agents with sample pages and chapters of my novel, from information I located from many different reference books. Eventually, I did end up submitting my manuscript to Tate Publishing and then about two weeks later, I received a call from Tate informing me that they accepted my manuscript.
WOW: You have your own business, Ansel Resume Resolution Services LLC, where you specialize in helping clients write and polish resumes and cover letters. Do you have any advice for writers who might be looking to put together a resume for writing and editorial positions?
Jennifer: Well, that is a tough question. Truthfully, each and every individual and resume is unique. There isn’t a “cookie cutter” resume out there that I follow. I also pride myself in producing heartfelt quality final products. What sets apart my business is my phone interview with a client, where I often pull out information not listed on a resume or cover letter. I suggest anyone who is applying for a position that they desire, to do research and find a certified resume writer (which I am), because you don’t have to be a certified resume writer to start a resume business. Depending on the position and company, there are many different types of formats that could be used. So, I always take the necessary time to research the positions and give thought to the format I’ll use. Also, just because one is applying for a writing or editorial position, keep mind how key words could still play a big part on the resume landing into the correct hiring hands.
WOW: All good points! Now let's talk book promotion. Your book trailer is great! Very haunting. How involved were you in the production of the trailer?
Jennifer: First of all, thank you for praising the book trailer! I also agree with you 100 percent! Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for the trailer. My book editor, Mike Ball, was extremely involved and helped to write the verbiage for it. Obviously, he was so close to the project and really understood the characters in the book. Moreover, he understands me as a person, and what I would be looking for. He was instrumental in working with my outside publicist, Scott Lorenz, and the company creating it. I literally cried happy tears for an hour after I viewed the trailer and I continued to watch it over and over again.
WOW: The poems that you wove into the book were beautiful. Did you write those before the novel was completed or after you had the entire story down?
Jennifer: Thank you for the compliment on the poetry! I’ve been writing poetry since I was a child, and I’m now working on putting together a poetry compilation book entitled "Breadcrumbs." To answer your question, I wrote all of the poems in the book at different points and throughout the writing process. So, for example, the fifth chapter poem might have been written before the third or fourth chapter poems were written. When I completed writing the first draft of the book, I then aligned each of the nine poems to a chapter. Originally, I planned to only write three poems, but then I decided to write one to end each chapter and tie in pieces of the story. The story also opens up with a haiku poem, so there is a total of ten poems in Afta-U.
WOW: You also work full time as a project manager. How does that help you manage your own numerous writing projects. Do you feel it makes you more organized?
Jennifer: I might be unique compared to other writers because in almost all cases, I pick the title first (or it picks me), and then I begin to write the poem or story. However, I do not write the content of my stories in order, or have an outline drafted before I write. The outline comes together later in my writing process. Sometimes I have an idea of the overall story when I’m starting out (other times I don’t as was the case with Afta-U). As a project manager, I am responsible for understanding the overall picture and work to piece together the different parts of the project where others assigned to the project, are only concerned about their piece in it. Even though I write out of order, I eventually have to connect all the pieces and segments together. With a project timeline there are some parts that can be worked in parallel, other parts that need to wait for certain tasks or milestones to be met. The editing portion of the book reminds me of change control process in project management. As a project manager, I work with a different “cast of characters” like those in a story, called key stakeholders, who help to pull together the tasks, the milestones, and the overall project completion. Some new people appear as a project gets underway, just as when I’m writing and a new character “introduces” itself to me. With a project, the timeline, project plan, statement of work, and work breakdown structures, are all drafted upfront. I’m laughing, because you would think I’d take that same approach to writing, but it just isn’t the case. I do think as a project manager, I often need to think and work “outside of the box” to pull pieces of a project together. It is that skill which helps me to be a better writer as I piece together and try to also “think outside of the box” while writing. All that aside, I am an organized person. This trait even carries over to me making my bed first thing every morning.
WOW: Who would you pick to play the character of Jean in a movie adaptation of your novel?
Jennifer: Wow, that is a very interesting question! Let me think about that for a moment. I actually think Jennifer Garner could do an excellent job at playing Jean.
WOW: We often hear from authors that once you've written and published a novel, the work has only just begun! Do you have any book marketing tips you've learned so far that you could share with our readers?
Jennifer: I feel like I am behind on what I should be doing to market my book since I am so busy working a full time job, etc. I want to reach out to libraries soon to donate books and push to get my books on book shelves in stores and not just virtually in on-line book stores. I have hired an outside publicist, Scott Lorenz, and he has connected me to this blog tour which I probably wouldn’t have known where to even begin with identifying and scheduling one on my own. I welcome any opportunity to discuss my book with anyone who may want to discuss it. I think an author website is also essential and different social media links. I will soon be embarking on scheduling some book signings and I cannot wait to experience these first hand! The marketing never ends, but I know it is important to continue working on writing your second novel while you are promoting the first one. I love that some readers are already asking when the next novel will be done and available for them to read!
WOW: What writing projects are you working on now?
Jennifer: I am working on a poetry compilation called "Breadcrumbs" and also on my second novel entitled Fresnel Lens. Some of the characters from my first novel carry over into this second novel. However, it is almost a standalone story, set in the fictitious towns I’ve created named Nain Valley and Graytown. It is more of a mystery where Jean is unaware of the underlying mystery and helps to unravel and solve it. This time around, it isn’t personal for Jean.
----------Blog Tour Dates
Monday, January 18 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview with Jennifer and enter to win a copy of Afta-U.
Wednesday, January 20 @ All Things Audry
Can an author find joy while writing about an inherently evil protagonist? Jennifer-Lynn Keniston shares her experience while writing Afta-U.
Thursday, January 21 @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews author Jennifer-Lynn Keniston on her blog.
Monday, January 25 @ Choices
Jennifer-Lynn Keniston offers advice on how to leave the rollercoaster of emotions on the page/computer screen when stepping away from writing a dark novel.
Wednesday, January 27 @ Create Write Now
Jennifer-Lynn Keniston compares the joy of conducting resume interviews to receiving praise for a character in novel.
Thursday, January 28 @ Renee's Pages
Renee Roberson reviews the mystery/suspense novel Afta-U.
Monday, February 1 @ Selling Books
Don't miss this interview with author Jennifer-Lynn Keniston.
Wednesday, February 3 @ Lisa M. Buske
How does creating and instructing an interval energy zone Spinning class compare to writing? Jennifer-Lynn Keniston shows readers how at Lisa Buske's blog.
Thursday, Feb. 4 @ Adan Ramie
Learn more about how "Afta-U's" Greytown/Graytown lighthouse with its Fresnel was inspired from the sign of Dr. TJ Eckleburg in "The Great Gatsby."
Friday, February 5 @ Memoir Writer's Journey
How being a Project Manager helped Jennifer-Lynn Keniston become a better storyteller. Plus, enter to win your own copy of Afta-U!
Thursday, February 11 @ Sherrey Meyer, Writer
The author of Afta-U discusses how she embraced Christian themes while writing her novel.
*****BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST*****
Enter to win a copy of Afta-U! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce a winner in the Rafflecopter widget on Monday, January 25th!
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