Image: Jeanne De Vita
Photo Credit: Joe Greto
Jeanne’s Writing and Romance Writing Teaching Experience Includes:
The Ripped Bodice Bookstore, Culver City, California
RWA U (Romance Writers of America)
Romance Writers of America local chapters (various)
California Writers Club/Writers of Kern County
and many others!
Jeanne’s proud to share just a few of her clients’ latest indie releases!
#1 New York Times and international bestselling author Audrey Carlan and New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014, 2018, & 2019 Kylie Scott
Top indie contemporary romance author Carian Cole
If you think writing a successful romance novel is impossible…
My mom didn’t have a college degree. She didn’t have any formal training in writing. In fact, it would be easier to list what Mom did not have rather than what she did. Probably on some level she believed that writing was not a thing that she could do.
Mom didn’t just read romance novels. She dissected them. She highlighted the pages, bent the corners, and stuck notes inside. She bought multiple copies of the same book and kept them in different rooms of the house so that no matter where she was, she had her favorite titles close by. She cracked the spines of her books and wrote thousands—literally—thousands of pages of notes in erasable blue ink. Outlines, notes, lists. Mom bought books about writing and studied those too. And in doing all of this, Mom taught herself the craft of writing a novel.
Then many, many years after Mom began her journey of reading, writing, submitting, and being rejected, she entered a contest that changed everything. In 1985 my mother entered a best unpublished novel contest. She won. The prize? A contract to publish her first romance novel with Silhouette Books. And she traditionally published more than twenty-five romance novels after that.
When Mom first started on her writing journey, I was just a kid. But growing up around a working writer, I had a very specific vision for my life. I wanted to be a writer and a teacher. Period. No question about that. I defined myself by my writing and the only value I saw in myself during some incredibly challenging years came through the words I put on the page. Those words could move people. Those words could flow, be beautiful, and feel meaningful—even when nothing about me felt beautiful or meaningful at all.
I was honored to receive fiction writing scholarships at Iowa State University as an undergraduate and a full scholarship to The University of Notre Dame where I earned a master of fine arts in creative writing. I was one of two MFA students in my class to be awarded a position in the First-Year Studies program teaching Notre Dame freshmen argumentation and rhetoric.
But writing in a competitive environment like an MFA program… The truth is, after I finished grad school, I didn’t write. For a long, long time.
Since graduate school, I have professionally edited hundreds of works in almost every genre: romance, science fiction, thrillers, memoirs, literary fiction, prescriptive and narrative non-fiction, and even spec scripts and television treatments. I have worked as an acquiring editor, managing editor, and developmental editor. I’ve seen the life cycle of a book from submission to distribution and contributed to each step along that process. I’ve edited for self-publishing vendors, small presses, indie authors, and for boutique publishing companies that boast multiple NYT and USA Today bestselling authors.
I also teach writing to private clients, groups, and at the college level. I’ve led dozens of writing workshops. I’ve driven the red pen like it was a race car and delivered plenty of hard messages to authors about what is not working in their books.
Over the years I realized I was having the same conversations with both aspiring and experienced authors. While professional authors had a general understanding of craft, seeing the concepts applied to their work was always an eye-opening process. I quickly realized that with every edit, I was teaching. And I wasn’t just teaching writing—I was teaching craft.
I started creating exercises that I could use to help myself keep track of character beats, the three-act structure of the novel, and the best practices I’d put together for my clients around pacing narrative. I built examples from the lessons I not only was teaching but working on executing in my own writing. When I would look for tools—worksheets and books to refer back to or teach from—I never found anything that explained exactly what I as a writer needed, and what I as an editor was trying to convey.
As I started creating worksheets and exercises to explain the concepts I was trying to convey to my editorial clients, I was working on the concepts myself. Applying them. Writing. The better I understood the craft of writing, the easier it was for me to write. And the easier it became, the more I did. And as I wrote more, I fell back in love with writing and my ability to move, share, and create again. But this time, everything was different.
To date, I’ve published under multiple pen names for small presses, I’ve self-pubbed, and I’m on a writing team that has as of this publication date had more than six million views of our story on a digital publishing platform. Finally I created Romance Writing Academy so I could share––in one place––the tools I’ve created, the exercises I’ve designed, and the lessons I’ve learned over the course of several hundred thousand pages of edits, several millions of words per year—and also from being edited.
I believe––after reading thousands of romance novels and editing hundreds of them professionally, as well as studying and writing them––there are some very specific, practical techniques I can share to explain what entertaining, engaging, and successful novels have in common. By avoiding certain mistakes you might make without the proper guidance, I hope to help you write better and more quickly than you might all on your own.
My mom did it…I’m doing it…and you can too. I hope Romance Writing Academy is exactly what you’ve been looking for. I’m excited to help you learn the tools you need to write your heart out!