My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.
Jennifer and I have been friends for the past 10 years. I inherited her from my husbands wonderful group of friends. I've mostly known Jen as a momma for the length of our friendship but over the past 2-3 years I've known her as a writer too. I'm so proud that she has followed her passion and has 3 published books, a monthly magazine article, and another book on the way. And I personally, can't wait for her to write that Western! Meet my friend, Jennifer Holman. --Brandy
I’ve lived in Little Rock for 17 years, but grew up in southwest Arkansas-- much of the time on working cattle ranches my father managed. He’s a vestige of a bygone era--a real cowboy, and he raised me like one, too. I had family in law enforcement, and somewhere along the way, I developed an interest in politics and a knack for writing, and in my twenties served as press secretary for a U.S. Congressman, living for a time in Washington, D.C.
I met my husband in Little Rock in 2003, and we had our first child in 2007. I chose not to go back to work right away, a decision I’m glad I made. When she was a toddler, I earned a Master’s degree from UALR and went into non-profits, ultimately serving as director of Arkansas Literacy Councils.
When our second child was born around the time of my 35th birthday, my husband encouraged me to pursue my dream to write a novel. The first book took a while—nearly two years since we threw another child in there somewhere—but the other books have come more quickly. I just finished my fourth, a young adult dystopian I’m very excited about, and I sometimes bare my soul and recount parenting mistakes in a monthly column for Savvy, a local family magazine.
While I think my life’s pretty great and am proud of my work, the cowboy father I mentioned won’t take me seriously until I write a “real” book, a western.
Give us your elevator pitch. Life’s *too real* for nonfiction. I write stories with adventure, magic, and love to give readers a break from reality.
What is your business? I write fiction novels and have just finished my fourth, a young adult dystopian about a girl who discovers a subterranean world. What, you didn’t know being an author was a business? It is. I have an LLC, a marketing plan, a business plan, an accountant, a website, inventory, and stress. Lots of stress.
When did you start your business? In 2012. When our second child was born around the time of my 35th birthday, my husband encouraged me to pursue my dream to write a novel. The first book took a while—nearly two years since we threw another child in there somewhere—but the others have come more quickly. And, yeah. If you do the math, I turn 40 this year.
What inspired you to make the leap? Storytelling has always been one of the few things I’m good at. A friend remarked I should write a book similar to the ones we liked to read. The more I thought about it, the more the idea called to me. So when my exceptional husband encouraged me to make the leap… I did.
What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation?? I need coffeeee. Lots and lots of coffeeee with a little sugar and cream. I’ll add that if I ever run into a problem, if I’m stumped, it always seems to work itself out over a run.
Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. My schedule has evolved over the years as my children have grown. They’re nine, five, and three now, the big kids in elementary and the little one at school three days a week. Three days a week I sit at my laptop and write from 8:30 to 2:00. To be creative, I need several hours at a time “in the zone.” That kind of time is hard to come by, so I treat it like it’s precious. But like any business, writing is more than just creating a product. There’s marketing, networking, research, bills, taxes. The list is exhaustive (and exhausting). I try to do those things at night, though, to preserve my alone time and get in the writing zone.
What keeps you motivated? For me, writing is both a compulsion and a privilege. My business is a classic example of ‘doing what you love,’ and taking the privilege of doing what I love seriously keeps me motivated.
Describe your dream day. I would love to wake up to the smell of coffee and a cool ocean breeze through the open doors of a beach cabana. My husband and I would explore a place unknown before a lunch of ceviche and tacos. And margaritas. I would work for a bit, take a quick swim, and then have dinner with good friends as the conversation flows easily. Simple enough.
What is your greatest strength/super power? Occasionally, I manage to shave both legs in a single shower without juvenile interruption.
Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? I have a love/hate relationship with FaceBook. It’s great for business and for showing the grandparents pics of my kiddos. But, boy, sometimes it can be brutal. I love Instagram for both business and pleasure. I friggin’ hate those Snapchat deer ear (or whatever) filters.
What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) You’re right. I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m lucky to sneak off for an hour (or twenty minutes) to exercise. But I love to be outside, whether it’s working in the garden, hiking, or floating a river.
If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? What I do doesn’t take much money, only time and commitment. A million dollars would sure pay off my house and keep my family going well through college, though, and I’d take it.
What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? Putting myself and my creative work out there to be judged by the world was scary as hell. I didn’t want to do it. But, I’d joined a writing group and received a lot of encouragement and support. Spending so much time working alone, the comradery of finding people with goals and struggles like mine was invaluable. After much research (and gnashing of teeth), in 2015 and 2016, I self-published three books in a fantasy romance series. To me, finishing the books was accomplishment enough.
How did the risk go? I wrote the books I knew I could. I’ve sold over 40,000 of them--a pretty good run for a first-time author. I learned invaluable lessons and made mistakes I won’t make again. And I still love to write. I’m happy and fulfilled. I’d say the risk paid off!
How do you handle discouragement? This is a tough one. Discouragement comes easy and often. Over time, I’ve learned not to rely on outside validation; not to value myself by what others think or say. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but once it’s learned… So liberating.
Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? I re-heard this quote by Theodore Roosevelt recently and just love it. "A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage... For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out."
If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose? Oh, wow. You know, I think I’ve already had some great mentors in my life—people who saw past a simple country girl to a greater potential. I’ve been given a lot of opportunities, and I always worked hard to make the best of them. That’s what life is, really: how one handles opportunities and complications.
Who are you in your next life? Ack! Not Mother Hubbard reincarnate again, I hope. How about Gwyneth Paltrow? Her life seems serene and lovely.
Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business? My best advice is to prioritize, and then complete each task accordingly—one at a time. Managing a small business can be completely overwhelming, but it helps to see more clearly if you narrow your focus.
What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? My advice is to take a business class (or three). Don’t shy away from the things with which you struggle, conquer them. Taxes, for example. Even if a business owner plans to hire accounting and books out, a basic understanding of them is still necessary to operate a business. Choosing to remain ignorant about things may feel better at first, but will only cause problems down the road.
Besides that, I say just go for it. Don’t know anyone doing what your heart tells you to do? Great! Less competition. The one thing I like about aging is the confidence I’ve found by accepting my essential self. As we age and come into our own, we embrace our quirks and realize they’re what made us special all along. I didn’t know I could write a book until I tried it. Was it hard work? You bet. Worth it? Totally. For any woman wanting to embrace what she loves and make it what she loves to do, take the leap!
Find Jen Online:
- Website: www.JenCraneBooks.com
- Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/jencrane
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/JenCrane
- FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/JenCraneBooks
- Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest: @JenCraneBooks
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jencranebooks
Work in Progress:
- Sunscorched, a young adult dystopian.
- Descended of Dragons series
- Rare Form
- Origin Exposed
- Betrayal Foretold
All Photos by: Saira Khan