Are you part of any writing groups?
Yes! I’m an active member of the New England Chapter of the Romance Writers of America (NEC-RWA). The group has been so informative, and so motivating, and the members are just a lot of fun to hang out with.
Why do you use a pen name, and how did you pick it?
‘Jess’ and ‘Vonn’ are variants of names or nicknames I’ve had over the years. I wanted a pen name that was short, easy to pronounce, and would fit neatly on a book cover (three traits that are not accurate for either my maiden or married name.) Beyond this, I opted for a pen name in order for me to have a separate digital identity (and separate search results) from my professional identity, under which I also publish.
How did you decide to write romance?
I loved writing fictional stories and poems as a kid, but in high school and college I turned my focus to journalistic writing. While working as a journalist in a town not unlike Bloomsburo, the fictional midwestern town featured in my “Love by the Seasons” series, I started dabbling with a plot that now only vaguely resembles my first novel, A Time to Fall. I went on to grad school, and creative writing continued to be a stress reliever and a fun hobby I could turn to (in the midst of learning scholarly writing and research, it was fun to just be able to make up anything I wanted in my fiction writing.) During those years I wrote a paranormal Young Adult romance novel that will likely never see the light of day (these were the Twilight years, and yes, I’ll admit, I found some escapism with that series. Judge me if you must.) Eventually after finishing my PhD and moving out to new England I decided I wanted to give contemporary romance a try, as it was all I was wanting to read. I picked up that long abandoned story from almost a decade before, tore it apart and slowly pieced it together into something very different. This was the same time I decided to take a more professional approach, joining the RWA and learning a lot about the craft and the industry from my local chapter.