WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange resident Jennifer Walkup has had a big year. The long-time writer had her first book, "Second Verse," published in 2013, garnering her first 2013 Moonbeam Award for Teen Mysteries. In 2014, she was awarded the Young Adult Romance Award by the New Jersey Romance Writers of America.

The road to success has been a slow and steady path for Walkup, 36, who grew up in Cedar Grove, attended Montclair State and William Paterson universities, and majored in English and Creative Writing. "Second Verse" is actually the sixth book that Walkup has written, but the first published by Luminis Publishers.

Jennifer's genre is Young Adult. "There's been an explosion in young adult writing," began Walkup.

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"The genre resonated with me: my age, ideas and stories fit with that and have become my current writer's voice," she continued.

"My first five books were horror, mystery, and romance. They were good practice and learning experiences," she noted.

They paved the way for "Second Verse," which she classifies as a combination of mystery, romance, and a touch of the paranormal. The book is about a group of teens who hold a seance in an old barn and connect to the supernatural realm, solving an old murder in the process. The title refers to musical notes that play a part in solving the crime and speak to another chance, or return, of things lost.

Walkup is working a new novel, "This Ordinary Life," which she describes as "a coming of age story against a medical backdrop." The book is due for publication in 2015.

When asked about the demographic that reads young adult literature, Walkup said that 40 percent of readers were teens aged 13-18, and surprisingly, about 60 percent were adults, primarily female, in their thirties.

In addition to her writing, Walkup teaches creative writing classes with The Writer's Circle in South Orange, and enjoys speaking to groups of aspiring writers in schools.

Jennifer has resided for eight years in the Englishtown section of town with her husband, Paul Cerruto, and their two sons, Owen and Jeremy, who attend Pleasantdale School. She is active in the Pleasantdale PTA, helping out with activities. 

November is National Epilepsy month, and Walkup's son Owen, who suffers from epilepsy, has thankfully been seizure-free for three years. She is donating a portion of the sales of her book in November to the Epilepsy Foundation.

"No matter what happens, I'll always be reading and writing," said Walkup. "When I get emails from readers who tell me that they liked my book, it makes it all worthwhile."

For more information on the author, and to purchase "Second Verse,"  go to: http://www.jenniferwalkup.com/.