Meet Writer Jeannie Campbell

Jeannie Campbell writes romantic suspense and women’s fiction rich in character development. The set of impressive initials following her name, LMFT, gives her an edge. As a licensed marriage and family therapist, she’s able to create heroes and heroines of depth whose stories reflect the intricacies inherent in each of us.

Eager to share her experience with her cyber pals, Jeannie runs two popular blogs. At The Character Therapist, she takes an in-depth look at various aspects of psychology and how writers can use the knowledge she imparts to craft more believable, realistic characters. Where Romance Meets Therapy is the place Jeannie shares her thoughts as she journeys into the land of publishing and her experiences writing inspirational romance from a Christian counselor’s point of view.

Jeannie graduated from the University of Mississippi with a double major in psychology and journalism before attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for her masters in psychology and counseling. Following a number of years spent in Louisiana and California, Jeannie and her former US Coast Guardsman husband moved to Mississippi where they live with their precious twenty-month-old daughter, Madelyn, and their cat Cookie (affectionately called BooBoo). When Jeannie isn’t busy as a wife, mother, counselor or writer, she enjoys serving as a church pianist, singing, playing racquetball, working out with weights and biking.

Join me as we learn about more about Jeannie and her writing.

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Jeannie Campbell

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Jeannie’s Journey Begins

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•You’ve completed three manuscripts. When did you begin the first, and what led you to do so?

I started my first manuscript as a spiritual quest for forgiveness and internal healing. I wrote about the year in between my bachelor and master degrees when I did an internship as a college minister. I made some stupid mistakes, and really hurt some people as a result. It was therapeutic for me to write about that time and face what I had done. Consequently, my heroine makes better choices than I did. 🙂

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•Your third manuscript, Blessed Beyond the Curse, is out on submission. What was the catalyst for this story, and how did you know it was the one ready to go out in the world?

One of my positions in counseling started out as a foster care social worker position instead of a therapist. I had no experience with social work, no educational background, and really didn’t want to do the job. But I wondered what it would be like to actually want to be a social worker…and my heroine was born.

As to how I knew it was ready to go out in the world, I compared it to my first two manuscripts and new it was light years ahead of them in terms of craft. My crit partner and a few others beta read through it and the story got a great response.

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•You began writing women’s fiction, or chick lit, shifted to romance and from there narrowed your focus to romantic suspense. How did the transformation from one genre to the next take place?

My natural voice is first person. I knew this after reading Allie Pleiter’s The Perfect Blend. It was my first contemporary romance to read in first person. Chick lit lends itself to this voice, so I started there. I’ve been told I have a quick wit and often use sarcasm in a funny way in conversations, so it works well for chick lit. But when I found out that chick lit was passé right now, I revamped my first person point of view to a deep third. When I did that, I really felt I needed to add the hero’s POV. So I did, giving him his own backstory and character arc, and the story became a romantic suspense. So I didn’t set out to write romantic suspense, but it found me.

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Jeannie’s Milestone Moments

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•You were privileged to attend the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference last month. Your pitch sessions went well, and you left smiling. What took place, and how did your preparation play a role in the positive outcome?

I met with an editor from Bethany House and an agent from Hartline Literary. Both requested partials from me after I explained what my book was about. I think my being a therapist and writing from that perspective gave me a little edge, maybe?

I went into the pitch session prepared with my hook and a one-sheet (which I must say looked totally professional) and, more importantly, a finished manuscript ready to go. I think that made me feel confident about what I was doing, and that translated well in my demeanor.

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•Requests are rewarding. Congratulations on yours. What are some other highs you’ve experienced on your journey thus far?

I entered the ACFW Genesis contest and got two really high scores (and one really low…writing is so subjective!) and was pleased with the feedback. Another highlight was getting to join ACFW, taking their online writing courses, and then meeting my crit partner through them. Each of these has taken my writing to the next level.

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Jeannie’s Process

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•Since you’re a counselor, I’m eager to hear how you go about creating your cast of characters. Do you produce lengthy character sketches before you begin a story, carefully analyzing your hero and heroine’s strengths and weaknesses?

You’ll probably be surprised at this answer. Typically, I write out my character’s backstory first. I want to know exactly where they’ve come from so I can know what hardships I’m going to put them through (that typically will arise out of where they’ve been, of course). But after I write out a few things about their physical description, job, quirks and the like, I just begin writing. I’ve seen the 100-question worksheet to get to know your characters, but I feel like I know my characters so well without that. They’re my friends. They’ve taken up residence in my head—or me in theirs?—for months before I ever put my fingers to the keyboard to type anything about them.

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•Do you enjoy reading stories that tackle tough issues such as those you encounter as a counselor? Do you work various disorders into your own?

My books have the tagline, “A Therapeutic Romance.” Each book I’ve written thus far features a different mental disorder or emotional problem. I don’t hold back, either. They are what they are, and I don’t sugarcoat the disorders. One out of every four adults has a mental disorder, and I got to thinking that that statistic can never show up in Christian fiction enough. My reason for writing was to help those who aren’t afflicted with disorders understand those who are.

I definitely love to read books that tackle tough issues…when it’s done well. I read a book recently about a character who had bipolar I disorder (alternating between depression and mania) and she cycled from depressed on page 115 to manic on page 116. NOT believable or feasible. So I set out to write realistic stories.

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•What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? Are you a stereotypical introverted writer, a bold and adventurous panster, a recovering perfectionist with OCD tendencies?

I’ve been told I write dialogue particularly well. I have several great scenes where the heroine and hero quip back and forth with each other, saying things we only wish we could say in real life. I love writing them, too. I think writing about tough issues in a way that is appealing to the reader is hard to do well, but I think I can do this.

I started out as a panster. After honing in on my craft, though, I’m leaning the other direction. But I allow room for the panster in me to take off if needed. I am a tad bit obsessive-compulsive about editing. I’m not one of these edit-at-the-end people. I usually go back over the last 5-10 pages of what I wrote the day before and edit through them to get back into the flow of the story and then continue on from there.

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•And I just gotta know. Do you ever deal with doubt, discouragement and depression, as do so many of us who have undertaken the challenge of writing with the goal of publication? What advice would you offer those of us who do?

I have! Just because I’m a therapist doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with the same emotions everyone else does. It’s daunting, everything I still have to learn. I wonder if it’ll ever be me, waiting for my first box of reader copies to come in the mail so I can send them out to bloggers across the world to review.

I use self-talk a lot when I feel down about the journey. I tell myself that writing was never about publication for me. It was about getting these folks out of my head. They had a story to tell, and if only my mom and crit partner read that story in its entirety, I still did what I needed to do.

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Partners on Jeannie’s Journey

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•You’ve been blessed with an awesome critique partner. How did you meet, and what makes your relationship work so well?

Katie and I met through the ACFW main email loop. We both wanted to share the expense of a room at the conference. One thing led to another, and we eventually submitted our manuscripts to each other. We definitely clicked, and it was a God thing.

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•You’ve met many wonderful writers and readers through your two blogs. You launched Where Romance Meets Therapy a mere nine months ago and already have over 150 followers. What have been the greatest benefits of connecting with so many cyber pals?

The feeling of being so connected! There are so many of us writer-types out there, and we’re all in different places with our writing. I’m learning from people further along than me and I’m hopefully helping those not as far along as I am. Writers think differently (and are inordinately involved in our characters’ lives—I mean, we think they’re real and talk about them as such!) and not everyone “gets” us. But other writers do, and it’s so affirming.

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•Your other blog, The Character Therapist, has been around fewer months yet, but even so it has over sixty followers. What has been the response to your posts ranging from alcoholism to autism, white lies to womanizing? How do you choose which topics to cover?

I’ve gotten a really good response from those who know about the blog. My regular readers are always commenting how much they are learning, and I generally try to relate the posts to writing in some way so my author friends can benefit.

I occasionally ask my readership what they would like for me to cover, which is why I’m covering personality disorders right now. My posts on Tuesdays simply come from readers writing in with their character sketches or plot overviews for me to do an assessment on. I have an open invitation for these submissions.

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Jeannie’s Journey Continues

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Your third manuscript is complete and out on submission. What are you working on now?

I’ve got this obsessive-compulsive pianist I’m fiddling with right now, as well as a dissociative fashion designer. Fun stuff, huh?

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Five Fun Facts About Jeannie, the Writer

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~ I’m a big fan of the em dash and ellipses.

~ I always speak my dialogue out loud.

~ I write parenting articles in a monthly column for SAGE Girls’ Ministry Online Magazine.

~ I typically run the plots of my novels by someone verbally, just to talk through all the possible nuances.

~ All my novels include children in some capacity.

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Five Fun Facts About Jeannie, the Person

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~ I’ve played the piano since I was seven and had perfect attendance in church choir for 15 years. I sing alto because I love harmony.

~ I’m a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Mississippi and graduated summa cum laude from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

~ I’m addicted to my iPhone. The Kindle for iPhone application has changed my life, as I can eat breakfast or fix my hair and still read. With the DocsToGo application, I can edit an entire novel on my phone from wherever I am and email it to myself.

~ I am obsessed with vampires. I love Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Charlaine Harris…if it’s vampires, I’m all over it.

~ I was editor of my high school newspaper, which was the only school paper in Mississippi at the time to be monthly and have the front page and back sports page in color.

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Jeannie’s Question for You

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•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Jeannie. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. Now it’s your turn to ask a question of your visitors, so fire away.

What types of psychology or therapeutically related topics would you like to learn more about?

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Learn More About Jeannie

Visit her Character Therapist blog ~ http://charactertherapist.blogspot.com

Visit her personal writing blog, Where Romance Meets Therapy ~ http://jeanniecampbell.blogspot.com

Friend her on Facebook ~ Jeannie Mood Campbell

Follow her on Twitter ~ jeanniecampbell

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Leave a Comment for Three Chances to Win

To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.

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Jeannie’s Special Drawing

Jeannie is offering a free read-through assessment of the first three chapters of a person’s WIP (using track changes) to one visitor who leaves a comment for her by midnight October 26. She’ll choose her winner, leave a comment on this post on October 27 with the name of the person she picked, and I’ll note it here as well.

Congratulations to Linda Henderson, winner of Jeannie’s drawing.

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My Regular Drawing

My next drawing will take place October 31st. I’m giving away a copy of The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, a book recommended by many authors as a must-have for a writer’s reference library. (If the winner already owns the book, I reserve the right to substitute an alternative prize of my choosing.)

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by October 31st and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On November 1st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.

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You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook

If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and October 31st. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On November 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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Note: Offers void where prohibited.

Prizes will be mailed to US addresses only.

Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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14 Responses to Meet Writer Jeannie Campbell

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Jeannie! It’s great to have you as my guest. I’ve welcomed this opportunity to get to know more about you and your writing.

    You covered a therapy-related topic of interest to me on your blog recently. One of my writer pals is incorporating a mother with Borderline Personality Disorder into her work-in-progress. Thanks to your post, we have more info to go on. You are a wealth of knowledge, and it’s great how you’re sharing it with us.

  2. Thanks for hosting me for my first interview, Keli. It was such a pleasure!

  3. Katie says:

    Jeannie! LOVE LOVE LOVE the interview! So fun, and so YOU! I could hear you talking. Congrats a thousand times infinity on your TWO job offers! Can’t wait for you to call me and tell me about it.

    This interview made me realize – we need to get back in the groove of critting. 🙂 Can’t wait to read about Sunny St. Vincent or whoever you want me to read about.

    Thanks for the interview, Keli. Your questions are so unique to each person. Very fun to read. 🙂

  4. Great interview! Congratulations on your progress, and thanks for the kind words about The Perfect Blend. Blessings on your writing career!

  5. Linda Henderson says:

    I enjoyed your interview. I think a timely topic now would be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There seem to be so many people having this issue. Also bi-polar disorder, I don’t really understand this one. I think my niece has it but I’m not sure. I also have a grandson that seems to have a sensory processing disorder. The school has tested him for different things but the sensory thing seems to be the only thing that fits. He is 6 and is beyond smart. He has been reading since he was 3. He was in the store with his dad the other day and told his dad he had a hypothesis about something and my son in law looked at him and said he was sure he didn’t know what that meant. My grandson then proceeded to give him the definition. He was right too.

  6. Cindy Wilson says:

    Great interview! It was so much fun to learn more about you, Jeannie, and what you enjoy writing about. That’s so wonderful about your requests at the conference. I can’t wait to hear how that goes for you!

  7. Myra Johnson says:

    Fun to learn more about you, Jeannie! My book characters all tend to have psychological issues of one degree or another. In fact, a few weeks ago I interviewed two psychiatrists (father & daughter and friends from church) to get help for my wip. They had a ball psychoanalyzing a fictional character and gave me TONS of possibilities to think about!

  8. Jessica says:

    Wonderful interview! Yes, you are a funny and somewhat snarky (but kind) person in life. It was great to meet you and boy did you make me laugh! 🙂
    I didn’t know you played the piano or those other tidbits. I knew you were smart though. *wink*

    Your wip sounds great! Gotta love those OCD artists. 🙂

  9. Alison says:

    What an interesting life yours has been. And I so envy you the ability to play the piano! One issue that is around at the present time is women out working while men stay at home (for a variety of reasons, not least the current recession). Not sure if a stay at home hero would work though!

  10. Thanks for having me keli. The winner is linda!

  11. Jill Kemerer says:

    Great interview Keli!

    Jeannie, it was interesting hearing about your books. I’m impressed you took charge and changed your book to romantic suspense. Thanks for sharing your journey. And have fun with your “cookie”–mine’s sleeping!

  12. Tina says:

    Jeannie this was a neat peek into you. I wish you much success with your manuscript’s launch into the publishing world.

  13. territiffany says:

    I missed this! It was great Jeannie! I loved learning about you and reading about your journey. I feel like I knew you before but this was better!

  14. thanks for stopping by, tina and terri!

Comments are closed.