I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: one of my favorite parts of being a writer is the amazing people I’ve met! Janyre Tromp is one of those people; we met on Twitter first, then met in person last year at ACFW. Not only is she sweet, warm, and encouraging, but her writing is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait for you all to get to know her!
Welcome to the blog, Janyre!
Thanks for having me!
What inspired you to start writing?
My mom says that I was forever telling stories. But I wasn’t one of those kids who wrote on the high school newspaper or wrote poetry in secret. I didn’t even consider writing as something I could do until college, and even then, it was something I fell into. Seriously.
I started college as a chemistry major. I was getting straight A’s my first semester in Inorganic Chemistry, Calculus, and all the related subjects. The problem was that I hated it.
I called my mom in tears, dreading taking 2nd semester Calc at 7:30 am (seriously, who does this to college kids?). She said, “Do what you love.”
To which I replied, “Ma, nobody gets paid to read.”
But she made a good argument so I declared myself an English major with an emphasis in writing because there was no way I was teaching.
When I graduated, I was hired in the marketing department of a publisher (using my minor) and then switched to another publisher and eventually started freelancing for editorial reading the slush pile. In case you haven’t put it together yet, I was getting paid to read. Ah, the wisdom of mothers.
A few years into my freelancing, the managing editor told me I should write something. So, being an impressionable 20-something, I did what I was told. I wrote a YA mystery (That Sinking Feeling) and then two board books (All About God’s Animals). And I kind of got hooked from there.
By that time I started having kids though, and switched to the editorial department as part-time staff. I couldn’t write and edit and take care of small children (as well as myself), so I took a hiatus and I’m just getting back to writing after taking about 10 years off.
Many writers have a day job, but yours is particularly unique: you’re an editor for Kregel Publications. What unique challenges does your dual role as author and editor present? How does your work as an editor influence or inspire your writing?
I’ve worked for Kregel for 20 years, so I’m fairly comfortable in my role as a developmental and acquisitions editor. It’s when I started taking my writing more seriously that things got a little more complicated. Writers are typically solitary creatures, but we need community. I have to be careful that my need for community doesn’t get confused in my job. I can like an author, and I can like their project and still not publish the book because it isn’t right for Kregel. That’s a hard line to walk.
The good news is that I’ve always been an editor that’s encouraging and hands on. So really, not much has changed. I just make sure my new writing friends know what I do and offer to help in ways that don’t get tangled with acquisitions.
But I seriously do have one of the best day jobs for a writer. As an editor:
(1) I’m uniquely aware of the marketing side of things—trends, expectations, etc.
(2) I’m required to read a lot and in a variety of genres, which means I’m exposed to a huge variety of writing styles, thoughts, premises, etc.
(3) While my daily to-do list doesn’t require hands-on grammar editing, I am more aware of grammar rules and current trends in editorial styles than your average writer.
(4) To a certain extent, I’m a known entity in the industry, which helped me land an agent, and will hopefully give editors a higher level of confidence in my professionalism, reliability, and skills.
But there are negatives. One of my favorite things to do as an editor is help an author rework their book, but sometimes my creative brain gets sapped by fixing other people’s work.
What does your writing routine look like, if you have one? What obstacles or challenges do you face in making time to write?
I schedule writing time like I schedule work time. It ends up being about 10 hours per week. But I also tithe 10% of my writing time to other authors—promoting their books, editing for my critique partners, sending out writing tips (which I do regularly on Twitter).
Probably my biggest challenge is protecting my writing time. I work from home so everyone assumes I have all the time in the world. Until this last year, I didn’t treat my writing like a job and my writing time got squeezed out pretty quickly. Now it still gets set aside for bigger priorities (like taking my kids to doctor’s appointments), but it doesn’t happen as often anymore.
My plan this year is to not actively write during the summer with my kids home. That doesn’t mean I’m not writing. I’ve already begun to research and I’ll start plotting and doing some character development. I’ll also be reading. I firmly believe that reading is one of the best things a writer can do to improve her craft—read craft books, read books in her genre, read books outside her genre. Look out TBR pile, here I come!
How has God changed you during your writing journey?
The themes I work into my book are often things I’ve struggled through in my own life. Writers write what they know, not in the sense that we only write about experiences we’ve had, but in the sense that we write emotions, feelings, themes that we’ve dealt with in our own lives.
So the book I just finished is about a soldier returning from war. He definitely has PTSD and is struggling with things, but then he starts seeing things and no one knows whether he’s actually seeing things or if he’s just seeing things.
I have never in my life had concern over seeing things that weren’t there, but I’ve struggled with people not understanding where I’m coming from. I’ve had issues with a broken family, fear, depression, etc. I’ve tried to keep it all together on my own, and (like my character) I’ve realized that not only am I not enough, but life is a journey. Sometimes, when we’re in the midst of things, we need to remember that there is another side.
If you could have coffee/tea/gratuitous amounts of carbs with any author(s), living or dead, who would you choose? What would you talk about?
I don’t know that I could choose one. Could I own a coffee shop where historical authors just drop by for an occasional chat? No? Umm…how about visiting the original Inklings (Lewis, Tolkien, etc.)? Or maybe Madeleine L’Engle? I’d love chat about how fiction changes culture and how to communicate faith in a way that crosses boundaries and changes lives.
I would be SO on board with that Janyre’s Café idea. A shelf lined with classics and craft books, free-flowing (and low-priced) caffeinated beverages, and time-travel portals to enable authors from the past to pop in and chat with us…this sounds like a book waiting to happen, if nothing else!
What do you do when you’re not writing?
How can we pray for you?
My agent is just starting to pitch my book to editors. It’s fabulous to be an insider in the industry, but it can also be a little awkward for obvious reasons. I’m also starting research for the next book and I am tackling some issues that are a little more volatile and I want to do that with respect and humility.
We’ll definitely be praying for your submissions and for your new project, Janyre! I can’t wait to see how God uses you and your writing!
Janyre Tromp is a traditionally published author of three children’s titles (Kregel Publications). In addition she is a developmental book editor who has worked in the book industry for more than twenty years, spending time in both marketing and editorial. She is a Bible Study leader, writer’s conference speaker, member of ACFW, wife, and mom of two kids and their menagerie of slightly eccentric pets. She lives her life hunting beauty—even when it isn’t pretty.