Author Q&A with Jen McDonough

Jen McDonough is a motivational speaker, mom, wife and author. Her inspirational books share personal stories of challenge and triumph. In her new book, Living Beyond Awesome, Jen offers a glimpse into her life as a self-described “couch potato mom” who decided to participate in an Ironman Triathlon. Certainly, experiencing that adventure firsthand isn’t something everyone wants to do, but regardless of their athletic inclination (or lack thereof) her readers learn valuable life lessons that apply to every area of success. Jen offers the encouragement: If I can do it, you can, too. We think that message applies to writing as well athletics!

Thanks, Jen, for being our guest on!

Q. What events, places or other writers have influenced your work?

A. Dan Miller, bestselling author and mentor to countless people through his books, podcasts and conferences, played a huge role in my becoming an author. Becoming an author seemed like an impossible goal for someone who was teased as a child and adult for her misuse of grammar and horrendous spelling. Through his teachings and his “Write to the Bank” workshop, I learned that one does not need to be perfect to become an author…one just needs to have a passion for sharing their story. Dan’s free online community for writers (Write It Forward) served as a huge source of encouragement and support. It is a community that bursts with kindness, knowledge, and synergy. This group—that consists of mainly of bloggers, fiction, nonfiction, and children’s writers—has a common goal: to share their passion of writing and their experiences so that others can learn from them. I feel extremely blessed to get to be a part of this incredible community resource.

Q. What books are you currently reading?

A. Dan Miller’s Wisdom Meets Passion and Karen Putz’s Gliding Soles 

Q. Describe your writing process. (Where do you write? Do you have a routine?)

A. My writing process is still developing. In my books Living Beyond Awesome and Living Beyond Rich, I started off just “blurting out” my story on paper. I really had no idea what my outline was, I just wrote each day. The books started off to actually be one story, however, after writing the “story” out, I discovered “my story” was really two separate books. While this was not the “best” way to write a book, I found it worked for me at the time and was something I needed to do. I learned a lot from my mistakes and the experience helped me grow. Going forward, I am using my blogs as content for my next books and will be using a more systematic approach to writing the outline first and then filling in the content. This will serve to be a great use of my time and enable me to repurpose my content as I go.

Q. In thinking about your writing, what do you know now that you wish you had known in your early writing days?

A. Hmmm…there were a lot of things that could have saved me time and frustration with the first two books. The first being as I mentioned above about writing the outline first and then writing the content as well as using blogs as content. I would say the best piece of advice I would have for myself would have been to be patient. I was in such a hurry to get the first book out (I wrote in less than eight weeks and had it published in about eight weeks) that it caused an unnecessary amounts of pressure to try to find the BEST way to go about getting my first book published. While it was fun seeing progress made, I have to say that being somewhat patient on my second project has led to great results. Did I intentionally try to be patient with this latest project? NO, however, because this was a bigger project and was somewhat of a painful subject for me to write about it took longer. I delayed the book launch by several months which was hard at the time, but proved to be a wise choice. For my next project, I will know ahead of time that while goals are important to have, flexibility is just as important as it is worth it to wait a few weeks longer in the long run in return for better outcomes when needed.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. Well, as Dan Miller says, 10% is in writing the book and 90% is in marketing. I am in the process of working on marketing, branding, and product development. For 2013, some of my goals include:

  • Hosting free monthly teleseminars
  • Starting The Iron Jen’s weekly leadership podcast centered on helping people to live with intention, passion and purpose. Some examples of the subjects and guest experts include: Using a virtual assistant, self-publishing a book, personal branding, marketing, etc. (Note: let this serve as an official invite for to be our guest on the show!)
  • Putting together two workbooks to go with my current books
  • Putting together workshops off of my current two books
  • Writing several ebooks that will eventually be turned into self-published books
  • Developing audio products from my ebooks and books
  • Building my speaking platform

Along with the above goals, I have plans to participate in several conferences which will help me grow, learn, and connect with others.

Q. Why do you write?

A. My passion for writing is simply this: I have a deep desire to share hope, inspiration, and tools for people to live extraordinary. I usually tell people that I am not perfect and neither is my writing, HOWEVER, my stories do connect with people as they are written from the heart and from an everyday ordinary person.

My best advice for first-time authors includes:

1. TAKE ACTIONDon’t worry about being perfect, just start. I would much rather be imperfect and be able to share my God-given gifts with people rather than worrying about being absolutely perfect and not getting anything done. Embrace your imperfections and know there are others around you that have gifts they can share in helping you through your project. Some other action items you can take include:

  • Join a community
  • Seek out mentors
  • Hire a coach
  • Attend conferences
  • Contract out services you are not skilled in
  • Share your project with others (click HERE for the 1+1 = 3 concept)

2. SET YOUR GOAL—Set your goals, and go for it. If you chose to get up 45 minutes early each day and write 400 words five times a week, you could have a 24,000 word book written in a year.

3. BE PATIENT—Rome was not built in a day and neither will your book be written in a day. Enjoy the process and don’t stress about it. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but know this advice comes from a person who wants things done YESTERDAY.

Learn more about Jen McDonough and her books,Living Beyond Awesome and Living Beyond Rich at Follow her on Twitter @TheIronJen.



Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Jen McDonough - December 6, 2012

THANK YOU so much for interviewing me! It is a true honor!!
Looking forward to a awesome 2013 and I hope you are as well my friend. MANY thanks and looking forward to sharing your expertise with those of us that need it!!!
Live Beyond Awesome.
Twitter: @TheIronJen

Kent Julian - December 7, 2012

Every word of advice Jen is giving here is not only credible, it’s authentic. Jen practices what she preaches. She’s the real deal!

Way to go, Iron Jen. You are living a beyond awesome life!

    Jen McDonough - December 10, 2012

    Kent Julian, thank you! VERY blessed to be surrounded by incredible mentors and encouragers in my life.

Colleen R - December 7, 2012

Jen, What can I say except that you continue to push, stretch and maximize your God-given potential so you can better inspire and guide others. Your books are written from the heart and they instantly pull the reader into your experiences and what you learned—whether dilemmas or victories. Thank you for your transparency in sharing your stories with the world. I’m so-o-o-o proud of you, Jen!
Keep maximizing your potential!
Great interview, Erin & Jen!

    Jen McDonough - December 10, 2012

    oh thanks Colleen! Your words having me grinning.
    One of the things I want people to know is that if I can do it, THEY can do it.

    Coaches and mentors like Erin to help along in the writing process is priceless. For those starting out especially, it can save MANY hours and YEARS of frustration.

    Colleen…thank you again!

Jeff Long - December 7, 2012

Thanks for interviewing Jen! I created several websites for her a while back and she was a pleasure to work with and an inspiration to talk to. She is extremely motivated and it shows in her excitement for life…and beyond! She is definitely Living Beyond Awesome!!!

True Focus Media
“Helping you take your message to your market, through media”

    Jen McDonough - December 10, 2012

    oh Jeff, thank you! It was a JOY getting to work with you and loved the wonderful creations you helped create!!!
    Thank you for your kind words my friend!

Cheri Swalwell - December 7, 2012

Great advice, Jen. You are an inspiration to the rest of us. I was a little slower out of the gate, but like you said, stressing about it isn’t going to get it done faster. I’m learning to enjoy the process. Thank you for reminding us of that. I pray for much success and many blessings for you and your family in 2013.

In Him,

Cheri 🙂

    Jen McDonough - December 10, 2012

    Cheri, thank you my friend. So proud of how far you have come – you are kicking it girl.
    B.C. (Before Children), I was a national contending Olympic Style Weightlifting champion. I started off lifting with a broomstick as a scrawny 17 year old kid who had no clue what she was doing (and no other woman lifters in MN at the time). Over a 10 year period, I trained 6 days a week, twice a day. Throughout that period, it was considered a huge accomplishment to improve 10-15 pounds a year in my lifts – that is only maybe 1 pound a month! 1 stinking pound after ALL that training! At times, it was REALLY frustrating. Thankfully I had a GREAT coach who was on the 1980 weightlifting team (the one that was boycotted – he set his whole life around the Olympics for several years and he ended up not going). He shared with me some great advice that I still think of today…he said, “Jen, if you don’t enjoy the journey, you will never enjoy the podium.”
    So I say to you, great job on enjoying the journey my friend as you will enjoy your podium as well.

Paul Mayende - December 9, 2012

That is ‘The Iron Jen’ for you. Thanks Jen for you challenging advice. I have had to write my first book for 18 months and that has been largely based on guidance from people like Jen. The book ,Into the City Church, is now at design stage. I am enjoying every step of the process and much thanks to Jen for the guidance at the Write it Forward Community.
Paul Mayende

    Jen McDonough - December 10, 2012

    Oh Paul, thank you for your kind words! Oh my gosh, what an honor and I am humbled by your words!

    I have been so blessed by the community. To have gotten to be surrounded by such talent and people willing to share their experiences and knowledge from such as people like Erin is absolutely AMAZING!

    Again, many thanks!!

Leave a Reply: