National Novel Writing Month Author Interview – Jill Weatherholt

Dreaming about writing a novel? NaNoWriMo is a great chance to get your book idea going. This month, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

Jill Weatherholt

Today we welcome NaNoWriMo published author Jill Weatherholt, whose Whispering Slopes series began as a NaNoWriMo challenge.

Thank you for joining us, Jill!

Can you tell us about the story you’re writing for NaNoWriMo 2020? The story I will be writing for NaNoWriMo 2020 is the last book in my Whispering Slopes series, the fictional town in the Shenandoah Valley. The hero, a well-known professional bull rider, is injured and returns to his childhood home to seek medical attention out of the spotlight. He’s unaware that his high school sweetheart, and the only woman he ever loved, has moved back to town and is working as a physical therapist. After this book, I plan to move my next series out West where my hero’s brothers currently live.

What is your favorite method of writing — pen and paper or the computer? Why? When I start a story, I like to write with my favorite Mont Blanc pen, given to me by my father. I also use a separate journal for each book. I use the journal to get to know my character’s backstory, their internal and external goals and the story’s setting. I’m not exactly sure why, but writing my ideas makes me feel closer to my characters. Once I have a solid idea and really know my characters, I move to the computer.

What’s the most important part of your writing ritual (e.g. what kind of music do you listen to, favorite snack when writing, motivational quotes, etc.)? I don’t snack while writing, but I do need water and plenty of caffeine. When I first started the Whispering Slopes series, I listened to a lot of John Denver. Now, when I get stuck, I’ll take a break and play one of his CDs. I also listen to a lot of The Carpenters. I know…corny, but their music is perfect for writing romance.

What was your process of editing and preparing your NaNoWriMo manuscript for publication? For me, NaNoWriMo is a time to get a fast, partial draft written. Since the 50k word requirement is less than a full-length novel, additional writing is required after I’ve completed the competition to get to THE END. After that, extensive editing is required before I submit for publication.

Do you have any advice for first time NaNoWriMo participants? Don’t fall behind in your word count. If you keep a steady pace of 1667 words a day, you’ll reach the 50K word goal. Since I work a full-time day job, I write additional words on the weekends and some weekday evenings. Just keep writing! It will be a mess, but that can all be fixed after November.

How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo? Around 2008 or so, I became obsessed with reading authors’ websites. I loved to read their bios about how they got started writing, interviews, craft books that were helpful and about their writing process. I would even email authors after I’d finish reading their book to let them know how much I enjoyed it. It was always a thrill to receive a response. During that time, I think I stumbled across the website for NaNoWriMo. I participated for the first time in 2010. That story went on to become my first published book in 2017. I didn’t work on it all of those years. In fact, once I completed the 2010 competition, those 50k words sat on my hard drive untouched for many years, but the characters always stayed with me.

What makes you want to continue participating in NaNoWriMo? I’m not a disciplined writer. I need deadlines. If I commit to something, I’ll do it, so NaNoWriMo is perfect for me. In the three times that I’ve participated in the contest, each book has gone on to become published. That’s my biggest motivation to continue to participate.

What authors or books have inspired you to write your own stories? I can’t say there is one author or book that has inspired me to write my stories. I’ve always used writing as a way to relax and ease my worries. In fact, the first short story I ever had published was written after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I remember after her appointment I sat down with a pen and tablet and wrote a story about a lighthouse keeper’s daughter whose father had Alzheimer’s. It was my way of processing what was happening to my family. There is inspiration all around us. We just need to pull away from our devices and take notice.

About Jill Weatherholt

By day, Jill Weatherholt works for the City of Charlotte. At night, and on the weekend, she writes contemporary stories about love, faith and forgiveness for Harlequin Love Inspired. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., she now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, but her heart belongs to Virginia. She holds a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and Paralegal Studies Certification from Duke University. She shares her life with her real-life hero and number one supporter. Their relationship grew on the golf course, and now they have one in their backyard.

Jill loves to connect with readers at

About NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. NaNoWriMo, a nonprofit organization since 2006, supports writing fluency and education. Their website hosts more than a million writers, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies.

NaNoWriMo Programs and Links from Chester County Library and the Henrietta Hankin Branch.

It’s not too late to get started with NaNoWriMo! Click here for resources, tips, information about our month-long Write-Ins, and a free virtual Writer’s Emergency Kit.