empowHER: "Sweet and Swoon-Worthy" Author Jennie Brown

One of the hardest things to do in life is to follow your passions when you are unsure of where they may lead you. It is even harder when you decide to change your already established path to follow that passion. 

After receiving her Bachelor’s in Mass Communication/ Secondary Education at Point Park University and her Master’s in 21st Century Teaching and Learning at Wilkes University, Jennie Brown dedicated the first portion of her career to teaching high school English. 

While being a dedicated teacher, she wrote her way to a full-time career as an author and ultimately retired as a teacher to do so. Brown explained that she made this decision because “it was becoming more and more difficult to find that teach-write-life balance. And, because I was writing more and more books, I knew something had to give. Although I loved teaching, my passion for writing grew stronger of the years, so it was time to leave education to write full-time.” 

Photo Courtesy of Jennie Brown

Explaining that she has “been writing stories since I was six-years-old,” Brown stated that “it wasn’t until the beginning of my teaching career that I decided I wanted to write a book. In 2011 (almost 6 years into teaching), I wrote the first draft of Poppy Mayberry, the Monday and had it workshopped at a conference where I met with an agent and editor who loved it. Although they ultimately didn’t take me on as a client, that gave me to confidence to keep going … to revise and query more agents.” 

Working in a field where her success is dictated by her fans, Brown still experiences the same nervous feelings as when she began. She explains that “even after 12 books, every time I put out a new book, the butterflies take flight in my stomach.” 

However this fear is not entirely her own, as she thinks “every author experiences doubt, and if they don’t, well … I just don’t believe it!” 

Despite this fear, Brown was able to transition smoothly from teacher to author because of how she led her classroom. This was due to the fact that she “put a lot of what I teach/taught into practice, truly practicing what I preach. When I would give my students independent writing time, I would write because it was good for them to have a teacher who models writing. The same went for reading. They read, I read.”

For Brown, “all the reading and writing in my day job and in my second job as an author paid off.”

While her time teaching helped her as an author, Brown cites Shakespeare as an inspiration because of “how much I love him and how much he’s inspired me.” Aside from her love of Shakespeare, “My other inspiration has been my son, Bennett. I want to be a good role model for him, to show him the importance of pursuing your dreams and making them a reality.”

When she did decide to make the career transition, Brown explains that she didn’t face much criticism. Instead, she thinks that “many people in my life saw this coming years back when I got my first book deal. Every person was excited for me in my new career venture!”

Jennie Brown began her time as an author writing middle-grade fiction. She believes that “all those years of teaching teens influenced my decision to write in that genre.” 

However, she has begun to write adult fiction and finds that she has had a lot of success in doing so. “I’ve found fantastic bases in my sweet romance novellas and cozy mysteries,” she explained. 

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Being self-employed, Brown has found that, “The best marketing tool to grow a fanbase is through a newsletter, so I send two separate newsletters out to my two audiences, romance and mystery respectively, updating them on my writing journey, sharing new book teasers, covers, freebies, etc. I try to make my content engaging, authentic and fun!” 

The best part of being a full-time author for Jennie Brown is getting to be her own boss because she loves “being in control of my own schedule. I also like the extra time I get to spend with my son.” 

On the side, Brown has created a podcast called “Sweet and Swoon-Worthy with Juliet,” where she interviews “sweet romance authors and creators of other sweet treats (pastry chefs, bakers, etc.) to chat about all things … you guessed it … sweet and/or swoon-worthy.” 

Brown made the decision to start her podcast as something fun to do for herself. According to Brown, her “writing is a business, and although I love doing it, at the end of the day, I need to write my books to sell, always with that bottom line in mind. But the podcast is totally for me – I don’t get anything out of it except connecting with other authors and hopefully bringing a bit of joy to my listeners.”

Although her podcast is for her own entertainment, Brown is also able to use this to her advantage as an author. “Sweet and Swoon-Worthy” helps her as she, “is hearing other authors’ writing processes. I’ve also gotten some great book recommendations out of it.”

Photo Courtesy of Jennie Brown 

For all aspiring writers, Jennie Brown offers three little bits of wisdom: “Write (as much as time allows). Learn (go to workshops and join critique groups). Read (a ton for inspiration).”

All of Jennie Brown’s books can be found on Amazon. You can find her best-selling sweet romance books under the pseudonym, Juliet Bardsley, and her cozy mysteries under the name Jemma Bard