Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Entry # 75 - WRITERS TALK - Jennifer Brown Banks - Managing Editor for Coffeehouse for Writers

Jennifer Brown Banks, Managing Editor, Coffeehouse for Writers.

Jennifer is a veteran freelance writer, pro blogger, ghost writer, and creative strategist. She is a former Senior Editor for Mahogany Magazine. Her work has appeared extensively in print and online publications for more than a decade. When she’s not writing, she’s likely in pursuit of a good bargain sale.  Visit her at  http://penandprosper.blogspot.com/
Contact her at Gemsjen@yahoo.com

Jan:     Thank you for agreeing to an online interview about your work as a writer and blogger. As the former Senior Editor of Mahogany Magazine, what did you learn from that experience that drives your successful career as a freelance writer and notable blogger?

Jennifer:     Good question.  I’d say primarily I learned how to deal with different creative personalities and how to multi-task.  

Jan:     You’ve said on your website blog that effective bloggers should cultivate dedicated readers and loyal fans.  What are the most important elements to building a strong reader fan base?

Jennifer:     Consistency, a unique “voice” and providing great take-away value for their readership.    

Jan:     You have blogged that time is a commodity that you invest toward furthering your writing career.  How much time should writers spend on blogging and social media in terms of the anticipated return?

Jennifer:     Jan, I think that would vary based upon their individual goals, time constraints, and the ability to juggle. But they should definitely blog minimally, once a week. Anything less is counterproductive.

Jan:     What was your greatest fear when you began your blog and how did you overcome it? 

Jennifer:   Not sure that I had one. I’ll have to get back to you on that one. :-)

Jan:    You’re self-described as a veteran freelance writer and relationship columnist.  What are your favorite topics for both freelance articles and columns?   And how do you generate ideas and find suitable markets for your work? 

Jennifer:     I’m blessed to have many creative passions and interests. I enjoy penning relationship pieces, I love business features, and book reviews are on my list as well. Ideas are typically not hard to come by, in that I have a very diverse professional background; I love to read, and have lived a “rich” life of sorts. I am often inspired by TV programs.

Jan:      You have been involved in developing specialized online classes geared to help writers improve their skills. What are some of the benefits from these experiences for busy writers?

Jennifer:     Glad you asked. I teach various online courses at Coffeehouse for Writer.com. The benefits to writers are the classes are flexible, affordable, and provide for one-on-one attention.

Jan:      When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and what fuels your writing passion? 

Jennifer:     My mom “guilted” me into it as a teenager. Now I consider it as honoring my “divine” gift.   

Jan:    If you could interview anyone on earth alive today, who would you love to interview and what would you want to know?

Jennifer:     Michelle Obama. More than I can say here. :-)

Jan:     What’s your next project and what excites you about it?

Jennifer:     I am ghost writing a book. Most all my creative projects excite me, because I love writing and sharing.

Jan:      If you could give advice to writers who are just beginning their writing career what would you urge them to put on their “To Do” list to prepare for success?

Jennifer:      Pray. Respect the craft. Work hard. Don’t personalize rejection. And be careful from whom you take advice. :-)
Contact her at Gemsjen@yahoo.com

Managing Editor, Coffeehouse for Writers
Columnist   http://www.technorati.com
Jan Bowman’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, Broadkill Review, Trajectory, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes, and others. She won the 2012 Roanoke Review Prize for Fiction. Her stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories and a story was a finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories and currently shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction work pending publication in Spring 2013 Issues of Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at:


  1. Very cool Jen... especially not personalizing rejection. That's good fodder for a full life.

    And I'd guess the Michelle Obama interview would be driven by one wonderful question: "What's it like?" Then you can sit back, absorb and tan. I know she'd be glowing.

    1. Hi Sporty King,
      Thanks for the comments. Also - it is hard not to personalize rejection - writers face it often - and
      those who can bounce back and move on do so much better, as writers and in life. Jan

    2. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 11, 2012 at 11:31 AM

      Hi Sporty,

      Thanks so much for starting the discussion, and for your valued feedback. Rejection is something that has taken me some time to come to terms with; now I'm a pro at it. But, I learned that rejection is not about one's VALUE, but rather what someone else VALUES. No more, no less.

  2. Jan and Jen:

    Great job!

    I have come across a number of folks who want to start a blog or have started one, and they start one and then they let it sit, not posting enteries becaue they don't have time (or so they say).

    You have to make it a part of your plan. Your readers have to see your blog as "active."



    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM


      How right you are! Thanks so much for stopping by and weighing in.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Jenn's advice to post regularly, at least once each week, is really important. I know that if I go check out a blog over the course of a couple of times in a month and nothing new is posted, I don't go back. Also if the last post was a year ago, I don't go back at all. Thanks for your comment. Jan

  4. Hi Jan,

    Great interview. Jennifer is inspiring, as always. Wishing you much success with the ghost writing project, Jen.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      Great to hear from you, Yasmin. Much appreciation for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Great interview! I agree with Jen, personalizing rejection is never good. Good advice, thanks!

  6. So nice to see a wonderful writer like Jennifer interviewed here. She does so much for her readers. Her blog is a wealth of information for all of us. And her advice about rejection is spot on. Be a shaggy dog and shake that rejection rain right off, laugh, and move on!

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 11, 2012 at 3:46 PM


      You're too kind!:-) What a lovely comment. And a positive reflection of the fine folks that are part of my "blog family".

      I appreciate you.

  7. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 11, 2012 at 3:38 PM


    Much appreciation for this feedback. Glad you found the advice useful.

  8. Jan:

    It's nice to meet you. Thanks for hosting Jennifer on your site and picking her brain with some great questions!


    You definitely practice what you preach: you have a unique voice and you are consistent in your blog posts. Your posts always have a defined take-away, as well. Great tips!

    Be well, ladies...

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 21, 2012 at 5:27 PM

      Thanks so much, Janette! :-)