We all have times when we are at a loss for an idea. I love books that will give the creative muse a little kick in the pants. An intriguing little book in the writer’s arsenal is available for pre-order now. A Writer’s Armamentarium, by Jennifer Vandenberg is a nifty little compendium of lists and writing prompts–things to nudge your muse when you are a little bit stalled and blocked.
I came to know Jennifer through the online community of the Lewis County Writers Guild, a wonderful group of people I met at the 2015 Southwest Washington Writers Conference.
CJJ: A Writer’s Armamentarium is an awesome title for book. What exactly is an Armamentarium?
JV: An armamentarium is a collection of resources used for an activity. It is often used in a medical context, but I loved the idea of creating a collection of lists that writers could use when they needed a bit of inspiration.
CJJ: Who did you create this book for?
JV: At first I created it for me and all the varied topics I’m interested in. As I started getting remarks from beta readers I learned that writers were more interested in these lists than non-writers so I included the chapters that writers would find most interesting. I hope that all writers, from hobbyists to professionals, can find inspiration for their stories among these lists.
CJJ: What made you decide to embark on such an ambitious project?
JV: I had dreamed of creating this book from my personal lists for about four years. I finally felt I had collected enough knowledge to fill out a book and I was excited to get started. Cleaning up and fact checking these lists took longer than I expected, but I loved every minute. This book is definitely a passion project for me.
CJJ: I was fortunate to read an advanced copy of this book, and loved the list of unusual words. What is your favorite unusual word, and why?
JV: I have so many favorite words that it is hard to pick just one. My favorite word from the Writer’s Armamentarium is omnology, which means the study of everything. I consider myself an omnologist, which sounds better than “someone who can’t decide what to focus on.”
CJJ: Let’s talk about your other work. Tell us about your Travis Eldritch series of short stories. Who is Travis, and how did you come to write about him?
JV: I love my Travis Eldritch series. He’s a private detective living on a moon in a system that has thirteen moons. In this system everyone is given a Problem at birth by the gods. Travis’s Problem is that he turns into a statue at random moments. This Problem has both advantages and disadvantages. Travis follows his gut more than his brains, but he and his partners manage to stop the bad guys eventually.
Each story is about 9,000 words. Six books have been published so far as eBooks on Amazon and in total there will be twelve books. Each story stands on its own, but there is an overarching subplot that connects all the books.
I’m a discovery writer and sometimes I just sit down and start writing with no idea of what is going to happen. I had this Sam Spade-like character talking to me so I started writing down his thoughts. Travis was born and he continues to tell me about his adventures.
CJJ: You have also written a book, Goofy Tips for a Happy Disney Vacation. What inspired that book?
JV: For three years I wrote a Disney travel blog at www.agoofyidea.com. New posts came out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. At the end of each post I wrote a Goofy Tip, a quick suggestion to improve the reader’s Disney vacation. I put all of the tips from the first year of the blog into a book so people could access helpful tips in one source.
This July I will be overhauling A Goofy Idea. I am creating a serial that is part fantasy, part Disneyland travelogue, about a teenage girl who was born in a book, but now lives in our world, and her fight with story spirits that want to pull her into their worlds. This story will be published on the website one chapter a week. It will be free to anyone who loves Disneyland and great stories.
CJJ: I love serials–some of the best work out there began as a serialized novels. I look forward to reading this. But, what has been the largest hurdle for you as an indie author?
JV: I love to write but I don’t love to market. My largest hurdle is balancing my time between the creative end and the business end of indie publishing. If I could have someone else do my marketing I would, but instead I’m working at finding techniques that are both successful and enjoyable.
CJJ: It is indeed a business, whether you are indie or traditionally published. The indie has a more difficult path as they must finance the entire endeavor on their own, and nothing happens overnight. So what advice do you have for the author just embarking on the indie path to publishing?
JV: Join Facebook groups. Join both virtual and in-person writing groups. Sign up for helpful blogs. Writers love to talk about writing and you can learn so much, but more importantly you need to surround yourself with a group of people who will support you as you embark on this exciting and sometimes difficult path.
CJJ: If you had it all to do over again, what would you do differently?
JV: I’d write more. Every day I didn’t write set me back from achieving my publishing dreams.
CJJ: Finally, where can the reader find your books?
JV: All of my books are published as eBooks on Amazon. All my books are listed on my author page.
CJJ: Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to talk with me today about your forthcoming book, A Writer’s Armamentarium.
This intriguing little book is a fun and useful little guide for the author who may need a little jump-start to their creative muse. Once Jennifer has it in paperback form, it will also be a nifty little book to have on the coffee table as a conversation piece, or as a gift for anyone who likes odd little self-help books.
Geology student, National Park ranger, secretary, tax preparer, swim instructor, Hallmark sales associate, school aide, library assistant, children’s bookseller, merchandise supervisor, property curator, volunteer, food service employee, farmer, and blogger. Jennifer has had all these jobs and she’s not even old enough to receive social security. However, no matter where she worked, Jennifer has always been a writer.
In 2014 she won the Short Fiction Writers Guild Flash Fiction award for her evil Christmas entry, Advice from Siblings. She was a panelist at 2015 Left Coast Crime and gives writing workshops around her southwest Washington community.
Check out her website www.jennifervandenberg.com to learn about all her various writing projects. She has turned her Mattie Garrets/Jackson Pierce mystery series into a podcast on iTunes and will be starting a YouTube channel in summer 2016. She also plans to publish her first non-fiction book in May and start a fantasy/Disney travelogue serial in July. There are no limits to Jennifer’s imagination.
You can find Jennifer at:
Jennifer’s Author Website: