Monday, December 12, 2011

Welcome Jenna Gustafson!!!!!!!!

             Please join me in welcoming Jenna. She is here to talk about her book, Saving Fort  Smoky. It's lovely to have you here Jenna.

           What is it like being a 15-year-old author?

Jump into your hot-tub time machine and fly back to your years of high school.  Ah, yes.  I’m sure you remember those days of hardwood desks, the smell of notebook paper, the wacky, weird, and wonderful teachers, the hours spent up to your eyeballs in homework every night.  Don’t forget the sports (that’s not sweat, it’s your fat cells crying!), all the daily encounters with peers whom you’ve known since kindergarten.  Maybe you even remember the books you read, your best friends, and your rivals.
            In the midst of it all, you are managing to sell and promote your book, Saving Fort Smoky, throughout your community and the web.
            That is what it is like being a 15-year-old author.  No, I probably don’t spend as long as I should on it, and no, I’m not the next Christopher Paolini.  However, this challenging experiment of mine has been exciting, and has taught me a lot about being an entrepreneur.  Luckily, working hard has been burned into my brain by my parents.  The work doesn’t bother me, and in fact, I enjoy it.  Finding the work is the challenge.

            Tell us about your book:

My book, Saving Fort  Smoky, began as a seventh grade English assignment.  We were to write children’s books, and our teacher showed us one a girl had gotten published.  That sparked an idea, a challenge to myself.
“Well,” I thought. “If she can do it, I can do it better!”
I wrote my book quickly in three weeks, working on it night and day.  My story was spun partly through a haze of Louis L'Amour westerns, and partly my wild imagination.  The story just seemed to flow out of me.  The story line is quite simple, really, but I think it is one that kids will enjoy.  This is what the final product is about:
“After a devastating fire ravages the homes of Fort Smoky, it’s up to young Ben Clearwater and his sister and friends to help the residents and get to Fort Futureland to save the people before the harsh, cold winter sets in.  To get there, they will have to trek through unknown mountains, relying on Running Wind’s compass and Big Jim’s maps of the land while struggling against the harsh forces of Mother Nature.
Fort Futureland is a place of new and interesting contraptions, like cars and computers, the four children have never seen, and they are captivated.  But the children soon uncover a sinister plot to destroy their beloved Fort Smoky.  Will they be able to stop the evil leaders of Fort Futureland?  Will they ever make it home?  Will they be heroes for Saving Fort Smoky?”
Though I look back on my writing now and see how it could be so much better, I think that saving Fort Smoky is a good start to my writing career.

           What would you tell other kids who are trying to write?

Dear Other Kids of the Universe:  My love for writing came through journaling.  My journals are where my thoughts can flow freely and expressively, where it doesn’t matter what other people think or how they react.  In writing, it is important to find that place.  Dip your pen in the passion of your heart and write purely, wildly, in a way that only you can.  Don’t worry about punctuation and grammar.  A person’s writing is often not defined by their perfect English, but by the feeling of soul in the piece.  Later you can refine it into a masterpiece.  Once you are satisfied with your work and many people have had proof read it, rejoice, for your finished product should make you proud!
I highly encourage that you then look for places to publish your work.  Be brave, be creative.  Publish your work in the newspaper, Teen Ink or other magazines, enter contests, or even find a publisher like Tate Publishing and sell your work.  This will not only make you a better writer, but you could earn some cash!
Lastly, never give up.  Don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t good enough.  All success takes is determination and a big heart.

Did any adults help you along the way?

Many! Sheryl Stansbury, the librarian at my middle school whom I was an aid for, helped me proof read my story, gave me heart, helped me dream big, and never deplentished my supply of good books.
Mrs.  Knudson, my English teacher who was the the first to spark my inspiration.  Her humor was always a highlight to my day.
My parents, especially my mom, who spent hours with a dictionary and forty or more pages of manuscript to edit.
Of course, the mighty staff at Tate Publishing who coached me and treated me like an adult through each production phase, which I appreciated.
Recently, Shannon O’Donnell, a blogger who graciously extended her hand and helped me explore the wonders of web marketing.
All of you, readers and bloggers, who are supporting me.  Thank you.

Do you have any hobbies?
I like to do things in my spare time like reading sci-fi/adventure books, journaling, dancing (ballet, tap, jazz), drawing/illustrating, galloping across the countryside with my best friend and her horse, Dakota, running cross country, hiking, and creating challenges for myself.

1 thing I want people to understand about my book and I through this interview:
People, please realize that anything is possible through God and perseverance.
Also, QUIT DREAMING and make your dreams something real!
Go ahead, dive off the high board, ride with the top down, and write with a voice all your own. :) 

Thank you for joining us Jenna. I can tell you will go far in this world.  It is a privilege to cyber know you.

Peeps, please go buy the book. Support this lovely young author. 


            Barnes and Noble:

 Visit Jenna here:


           My website:


  1. Wow, Jenna! Congrats to you. This is a wonderful post. Thanks for encouraging other kids to follow your lead.

  2. Good for Jenna! I waited so long to write my books.

  3. I'm so inspired by Jenna. Congratulation. I, too, loved dancing, horses, and sci-fi/fantasy reading. I think I just spoke to the more accomplished version of me as a child. :) Good luck!

  4. Robyn, thanks for introducing Jenna to me. I hope Jenna keeps 'experimenting' with this writing thing. :) She is very inspiring.

  5. Its great to meet Jenna ... food luck to you and best wishes for your writing success!

  6. Jenna, this was excellent!! I think this is my favorite of your guest posts--so fun! I'm so happy you are getting more exposure for your book!!!

    Robyn, thanks so much for supporting sweet Jenna. You know I love ya, bff. :-)

  7. Jenna's confident sense of self, creative imaginings, and pure talent make her a compelling author.

    Sharing her approach to writing and life is applicable for everyone.

    Good job young lady, good job.

    Gold star interview, the best I have read to date.

    Thank you Robyn for sharing the excitement.

  8. You're a real inspiration Jenna!

  9. Robyn, thanks for hosting Jenna. She is an inspiration. I didn't even take a creative writing course until I was 16. It never occurred to me to write a novel as a teen.

    Good luck with your book, Jenna!

  10. I read about this on another blog recently. I'm in awe of young Jenna. Congrats on all of your success.

  11. Awesome interview, Robyn and Jenna.

    I'm so inspired by this interview. Jenna, what an amazing teen. You're not only a talented writer, but you reach out to others to encourage and cheer them on. I agree with Robyn that you'll go far in life, and I think you're going to touch many lives in the process. Best of luck to you with your writing career!

  12. Wow, congrats, Jenna! May this be just the beginning of a great career!

  13. Great post, amigo! Wishing Jenna all the best! :)

  14. Wow - what an amazing young lady! So glad to hear of her success!

  15. Wow! Jenna is a cool kid. Just imagine at 15 being a published author.

  16. It sounds like a fabulous book, and an even more amazing girl! Seriously amazing.

  17. I love her advice to other kids! You can just feel her energy jumping off the page :)

  18. Congratulations on getting your book published. Looks like a fun story.

  19. I AM going to buy this book! So inspiring, and I want to share that hope and perseverance story with my daughter. Thank YOU for sharing it too!

  20. What an interesting interview! Thanks so much, Robyn! And Jenna - good for you! Best of luck with your writing!


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