Jennifer Park pens first published book

Published 7:35 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

By Anne Payne

The Orange Leader

A young Little Cypress-Mauriceville mother of two small Little Cypress Elementary School daughters, a wife, an artist, and a writer describe Jennifer Park precisely.

She recently was the guest speaker at a Golden K Kiwanis Club meeting, held at 9:30 a.m. each Wed. at Sunset Grove Country Club in Orange. Park entertained the audience with details of how one attempts to write, submits a transcript to an editor, and gets published by a major company.

‘The Shadows We Know by Heart’ was published March 14, 2017, by Simon and Schuster (Simon Pulse), one of the top five publishing companies in the U.S.

This enables her to be marketed a lot more. The young adult novel is currently available in hardback for $18 per copy at Barnes and Noble, on Amazon, and on Nook, for those who read electronically. The setting of her novel is in Zavalla, Texas, in a national forest, since Jennifer is a fan of forests and tall trees, having lived in the Buna area for a time.

Jennifer’s book flap says that she “grew up on the bayous of southeast Texas, daydreaming of fantastical worlds and magnolia trees and Spanish moss.”

Besides her husband and children, she keeps busy with many dogs and a tortoise named Turquoise as she continuously writes, whenever possible without kiddos finding her, while she absorbs the East Texas pine trees and the greenery of swampy Orange County. She attributes her writing skills to reading constantly while growing up. Now, writing is her passion.

A graduate of Vidor High School where her mother was a high school counselor, Jennifer graduated from Steven F. Austin University with a BA in Painting and an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Oklahoma. She also has her education endorsement in Art, thanks to the ACE program at Lamar State College-Orange.

She taught Art for three years in Huntington, Texas, as well as instructing painting in private lessons in Austin. Her husband’s job with the Dept. of Public Safety has moved her family to various locations over the years. Always a science fiction and fantasy enthusiast, her favorite books were in those areas until she was introduced to the Twilight saga of books when her family brought them to her home in Austin, evacuating from a hurricane. The world of books for Young Adults suddenly emerged.

“The hardest thing about writing is doing all the research by yourself,” Park said.

She describes her book as “a Tarzan-retelling.”

In her book, ‘The Shadows We Know by Heart,’ a Big Foot family meets a young Tarzan-like boy, adopting him into their Sasquatches family.   The premise of the book involves a family that includes a young girl’s secret, an alcoholic mother, an angry father, and the memory of the girl’s brother who has been dead 10 years.

Jennifer calls the work “A haunting and luminous exploration of love, grief, and the dangerous lies that can bind or break us.”

First, according to Jennifer, a writer needs to obtain a literary agent, develop a quarry letter, and tell why his or her work is different than another person’s work.

Fortunately, Jennifer received a response in about one month. Then, her agent requested her manuscript and loved it, adding that she wished to represent Jennifer. Approximately, 10-12 editors converge for the first round of submissions which are emailed to the publisher.

Jennifer adds, “There is lots of anxiety for 10 days or so.”

Finally, the first offer came about 10 days later from Simon and Shuster, beginning a roller-coaster ride to finalization of publication.

After signing a contract in October 2016, Jennifer received half of her check, and the edits began. She was told to develop her characters more. At that time, the book then was passed to a copy editor, where all facts are checked and verified.

Jennifer has developed many friends called critique partners who help. A twitter account is also helpful in this process, Jennifer concludes. After copy editors finish their jobs, then the remaining half of payment from Simon and Shuster is sent to the author.

Finally, Jennifer was asked about the cover of her book, but she only changed the cover finish from shiny to matte due to thousands of fingerprints belonging to the shiny surface.

Jennifer says that Simon and Shuster did not go to a lot of trouble to market her book. However, the young writer did attend the Texas Library Association Trade Show where she signed her books. Additionally, she went on a short book tour in Texas to Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, where she gave a short talk and signed books with other writers.

Her book was published in spring of 2017, but was intended for publication in fall of 2016. Jennifer tells the crowd that writing her first book was not a money-making venture, but she plans to continue. Actually, she is currently working on another book, and Simon and Shuster gets the option of looking at her manuscript first for 30 days. Jennifer ended her talk by saying that she is also considering illustrating a children’s book since she has an art background, specializing in painting.