Even though Jessica is fairly new to her writing career, she has taken some risks that have helped build her confidence and achieve heights she didn’t think possible – including winning a writing contest.
We discuss how risks help your career and can change your mindset for even more success.
As a great bonus – Jessica is taking a risk and sharing a story that she hasn’t made public before. So I encourage you to download No Room and give it a read.
[00:00:00] Jessica: Are you working on your author career, but struggling
[00:00:07] to get that first book published? Does the goal of being an author seem too lofty? Or thoughts of having multiple books and making a full time living are as fantastical as living in Cinderella’s castle? Welcome to Discovered Wordsmiths, a podcast where you can learn That’s where aspiring authors can be heard.
[00:00:26] Join Stephen Schneider as he finds and talks to authors you may not know, but authors that have gotten their foot on the author career path. Hear what they’ve done to get there and where they want to go now. Settle back. It’s time for a bit of inspiration and advice. Come listen to today’s Discovered Wordsmith.
[00:00:48] Stephen: As I’ve mentioned before, quite often I get very wrapped up in working on these episodes, getting them set up so they sound good and all of that. I totally forget to record this little intro, [00:01:00] so you’ll notice at the beginning of, uh, the last episode with Jessica, I didn’t say anything. I just went right into it, which is fine.
[00:01:07] Uh, she’s a great person to listen to, so it didn’t hurt anything. But I figured I’d throw something in here because… Uh, we do have something special with this episode. If you go to the show notes and go to the web page, Jessica has offered a bonus story that she hasn’t released to the public before. This is her taking a risk.
[00:01:26] That’s what we’re going to talk about is taking a risk. So she wants to put this story out for people to read and get feedback and possibly. People might not like it, but that’s kind of what she was talking about is you got to do those things sometimes, and you may find surprisingly, it works better than you think.
[00:01:43] So go to the website, check out this story. It’s called no room and she talks about it here in this episode. So I hope you enjoyed the last episode with Jessica. And now we’re going to talk about taking a risk. All right. Well, Jessica, welcome back, uh, discovered wordsmith podcast. Good to see you again [00:02:00] after all of three second pause.
[00:02:01] Um, but this is the second half of the. The talk. Yeah. Um, so writing the book you’ve written, uh, and the other story you’ve written in your notebook, you’ve got some ideas for some other books. What are some things that you’ve learned that you would do
[00:02:17] Jessica: different? Pushing myself to be more consistent in writing sometimes, um, there was times because my life gets busy and sometimes I let writing kind of go to this weird back burner.
[00:02:29] But then if I don’t write, it’s like this weird part of me that’s missing. And I think I’d be a little bit more consistent in writing. I would love to be able to turn a book around in maybe more like six months than like 18 months or two years or longer. Um, so, you know, that’s exciting that I can actually turn my story around.
[00:02:49] I didn’t really think I could do that with as fast as, um, this one kind of came around. I would research a little bit faster, but part of the problem with research is [00:03:00] sometimes you don’t know where you’re going with certain things, and so you want to try to get research in in a little bit more timely manner, but I have a great, um, crew of people behind me that are like, Oh, yeah, Jessica, I can help you find this.
[00:03:12] And so I camped out in special collections at the local university a lot. So, yeah, cause I was totally researching the uranium boon and I had to research like massive amounts to find the small little bits that ended up in the story. Some of those nuggets were just amazing. Yeah,
[00:03:30] Stephen: that’s typical. Uh, a lot of authors do that, uh, and there’s a lot more that gets researched than ends up in the books most of the time.
[00:03:39] When you write, what software and services do you use? How do you write? Do you use a program? Do you do longhand? What do you do? Um,
[00:03:48] Jessica: first draft, right now, I don’t know if this is going to change. It could. One of my friends ended up changing from longhand to straight just typing it on the computer. But something happens with my brain and creativity where [00:04:00] sometimes I can turn the internal editor off if I’m writing it on notebook.
[00:04:04] So I usually start out with like a rough idea and start with pen and paper. And then my first edit is my, the one that goes on the computer. I don’t have, or you know, the next 50 edits too, but that’s a little exaggeration, but not completely. Um, right now I don’t use a lot of software things, because I’m still sort of exploring what’s going to work or not.
[00:04:25] So a lot of times I’ve been just putting it on a Word document, and then making sure I save it to quite a few different places. The newer, Version of word has some really cool tools like I can push play and it will read it back to me So i’m hearing it and then all of a sudden i’ll be like, oh, what was that word or that that wasn’t supposed to be there So I catch some stuff being able to listen to it.
[00:04:48] Um, I’ve heard of like things like scrivener and a whole bunch of other things and I haven’t Been brave enough quite yet to try them out But so, so far, I’ve just been kind of doing a Word [00:05:00] document and
[00:05:00] Stephen: paper for the book that you have out and you’ve got some other ideas. But how are you marketing this book
[00:05:06] Jessica: right now?
[00:05:07] That’s some of it’s word of mouth because there’s quite a few people are like, Oh, yeah, tell me about it. Um, I also use my Instagram. Page is more of like my author profile. So i’ve been doing a few different things like hey guys, this is coming out Cool. This is our cover. You should check this out And so a few things on facebook, but most of it’s been more on instagram I’ve now been brave enough to like ask the local library to have it on their shelf, which i’m like we’ll see what happens, um depends on what kind of budget they have right now because You know, it’s the middle towards the end of the year and their budget may be a little bit different right now than it was at the beginning.
[00:05:43] I’ve done one author signing, but because we ended up setting it up before the paper version of the book actually got to our doorstep. That was a little bit awkward, but hopefully, hoping to do a couple more of those and then I’ve got [00:06:00] pages on Amazon and Goodreads and BookBub and so. Just trying to get it out that way too.
[00:06:06] Stephen: Uh, for our topic, you said you wanted to talk about taking risks. And, uh, so I’m curious as to why that topic, what risks have you taken, uh, in your author career so far?
[00:06:20] Jessica: Some of them are in personal life that led to being able to take risks in the author field. It was funny because last week I found this quote by Simone Biles and it said, I’d rather regret the risks that I didn’t work out than the chance I didn’t take it all.
[00:06:36] And I’m like, Oh my goodness, try it. You know, being afraid of. All the worst they can tell you is no, and just realizing that, Oh, well, I can try this. And if the worst outcome is going to be that they tell me, no, it’s the same spot I’m at right now, but maybe just taking that little bit of a risk. So it’s being willing and it’s really hard to do sometimes, but being willing to step [00:07:00] outside of your comfort zone and go experiencing things.
[00:07:03] And so some of that’s like in life, some of it’s like, you might just get a rejection letter and it crumples you, but I’m not going to say after my. 5th or 6th rejection letter on things, that it feels any better, but then you can kind of take a step back after you’ve mourned it for a bit and be like, Okay, what do I need to fix and what do I need to go?
[00:07:22] It’s interesting the things that you can do in that writing field. So one Christmas, I got upset because all I hear about is the innkeeper getting this bad rap about him being grumpy guy and him like tossing out Mary and Joseph when she’s pregnant. And I’m like, you know, innkeepers technically have this gift for hospitality.
[00:07:38] It probably drove the poor dude crazy. Right? Oh my goodness crazy. He’s has this hospitality, but his house is so full right now He can’t pack another person in standing room only and all of a sudden this little Jewish dude With a New York accent. Why he has a New York accent, I don’t know, but he kind of popped into my head and so I’m like, Oh, cool.
[00:07:58] I, [00:08:00] I am going to write him out. And it is the weirdest thing ever. You do not hear the other half of conversations. He has discussions with people, but you only ever hear his half and you only hear his ideas and it’s quirky and maybe not quite completely historically accurate. But Roman, Roman did have ancient Rome did have indoor plumbing.
[00:08:19] So I went with it. I just kind of, this story just developed into this like mini flash fiction. And then there was a group of writers in Colorado that had a flash fiction contest. And I’m like, why not take the risk? The worst they can say is no. Right. And it won the award. I was like, this thing just won this award.
[00:08:41] I’m like, serious. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever written. And so then you get a little bit gutsy when it comes to trying new things. Being like, okay, so that was an interesting perspective. So maybe that helped me be a little bit more confident in trying to write a deaf character because The way that you have to [00:09:00] read it is a little bit different than the people who who wrote it So one of the things I sent you as a link, hopefully you got it is that story So if your readers want to read that story I am being brave right now and taking a risk that somebody else would like to read it
[00:09:17] Stephen: That’s Perfect.
[00:09:19] I did get that. I’ll make sure to include that as a link and I totally agree with you that some of the best things that have ever happened to me in my life is when I kind of took that leap and took the risk and didn’t say, you know, there, there’s a lot of times I’m like, okay, I’m not going to do this right now.
[00:09:34] I’m not ready. It’s not good enough. It’s not this. And I’m going to wait. And I see that in authors a lot that these people, I see them. Thank you. In March at a conference at the library and oh, how’s your book coming? Well, you know, I’m doing this and I’m great a year later. It’s like, well, how, how, what happened with the book?
[00:09:51] Oh, I’m still working on it. So it’s been a year there. They’re so afraid to take that next step in that risk of putting it out there that they’re [00:10:00] stuck on this one book forever. And the people that say I’m done, get it out there. And they move on to the next book. So they tend to have even better careers.
[00:10:09] It seems like. Yeah.
[00:10:11] Jessica: And one of my first ones has not seen the light of day. It is needing like massive edits, but there is a conference in Denver where Jerry B Jenkins was speaking and he was talking about self editing. So, you know, taking risks, go to conferences, go talk to. People you would not really ever talk to before and see what happens, but Jerry B.
[00:10:28] Jenkins was doing a self editing and on the first, he’s like, I only want your first page of the story. I’m like, cool. I can do this. I think maybe. And so there was only a certain number of people. I had no idea if he accepted my page as one of those. So we spent the morning talking about what self editing is and spent the rest of the day, like going over people’s first sheets.
[00:10:50] And he could tell. He could kind of he’s like just letting you guys know I can kind of tell in the audience Who’s written what by the looks on their faces and there’s been a couple of times because [00:11:00] I have a very expressive face so when i’m reading you can see what i’m thinking sometimes and so He’d kind of look at me every once in a while And then I saw my name was up on the list like my story was up on the list for after lunch I’m, like, okay.
[00:11:13] Okay. Okay. Okay, whatever he says if he says it’s junk then do whatever it takes to like Give it life support and make it work. And so I was like, okay, I can, yeah. And so I’m like, okay. And so he gets to mine and halfway through it, he stops referring to the author and start saying she, because I’m pretty sure that I’ve turned like three shades of pink, thankfully nobody noticed, but I was ready to crawl under the table.
[00:11:36] Because I was at a point in my writing career where I’m like, is this worth it? I’ve gone to several conferences. I don’t even know if this is like going to work. Am I even a good author? You know, you have those doubts and you have those, it just is like there all the time and you’re getting bombarded with it constantly.
[00:11:53] And so I’m like, I was ready to be just like, okay, I give up. And so after lunch, It was like the second one in and [00:12:00] pretty soon he was like, yeah, there’s a grammar problem and me as a teacher I was going what did I do? That was wrong. I was like times two roman 12 point font double space I was like thinking in my head and he’s like the first word spelled wrong.
[00:12:11] I was like what? I was supposed to be lightning and I spelled it lightening. And I was like, Oh yeah. I forgot to warn people about that one. Cause I come, I sometimes do that. And of course, you know, spell check on words. Not going to catch it. Cause I spelled it right. And then halfway through toward the end, he’s like, okay, let’s take a quiz.
[00:12:30] And I’m like, let’s not take a quiz. Oh, let’s not take a quiz. This is my story. So he’s totally has me shoved outside of my comfort zone. And. Then he’s like, who would want to keep reading this story? And I’m ready to just slide off the chair and under the table, and pretty soon I hear some, I see some nods.
[00:12:49] And I hear, hear some people go, yeah, that, I, I’d probably read the rest of this, and I’m here going, you would? I kind of do this, like, weird pop up, like, really? You’d want to read my stuff? [00:13:00] So, you know, so, like, pushing myself outside my comfort zone. Is always a good thing and sometimes like don’t ever say never so like in my like beyond writing life like you can Have life experiences and anytime you have a life experience whether it’s hard or whether it’s easy You’re like, oh that was just horrible But then the writer half of my brain kicks in is like, oh, I have a new emotion I can write about now and i’m like, well that was horrible, but Yes, I do.
[00:13:30] Um, I got a chance to go to Africa for 10 days and, um, you know, try to go. And I didn’t do any of this until after college. So, you know, if, even if it’s like a different state, just go outside of where you normally are and what you normally are used to and just go beyond and see how somebody else lives.
[00:13:51] I’m hoping within the next year to be able to go to the Philippines. That would be really sweet and just learn a different culture and learn about something new because you never know [00:14:00] what you’re going to experience and, and see, and you’re more, I’m bad at like if it’s sympathetic or empathetic, but you’re more prone to sort of think about what it’s like to walk in somebody else’s shoes when you go experience something outside your comfort zone.
[00:14:16] So as a writer, you have lots of experiences, but as like, personally, you also need to get outside and do I, do I, like Herloyne in Paris, I spent 24 hours in Paris. Do I feel qualified about writing a whole book in Paris? No. Am I? Yes. Because there’s really cool stuff. Like there’s this point where I’m talking about the Louvre.
[00:14:36] I’ve never been to the Louvre a day in my life, but there was this really cool thing that let me do this walkthrough of the Louvre. Somebody like literally put a camera on top of their head and did a walkthrough. And so one of my friends is like, have you ever been to the Louvre? I was like, no. And she’s like, I have you nailed it.
[00:14:50] I’m like, yes. So part of the problem is like getting the smells and stuff figured out.
[00:14:56] Stephen: And sometimes it doesn’t even have to be completely accurate. [00:15:00] Right. It can be what people expect or what, just what feels right. Uh, you know, there’s a lot of things in movies that people will rip apart, you know. But, but you know, that’s fine.
[00:15:13] But again, you’ve got to just get that down on paper and get it out. And I think not it just doing this podcast is kind of a risk because somebody might listen to it and make a bad comment. What I’ve found is usually the people that get on podcasts, they’ll get all these, they’ll suddenly find all these other people going, Oh my gosh, I heard you on that podcast.
[00:15:35] That was great. How did you do that? And suddenly you’ve elevated your status. So the little bit of a risk. Makes you not only feel better and gain more confidence, but it elevates you in the eyes of others. And then suddenly they’re coming to you as an expert on whatever that little bit of a risk. And really when you get down to it, the risk of being on a podcast is really small, but you get some good [00:16:00] benefits if you’re lucky.
[00:16:01] And I know Jim. Probably it was pushing you. Hey, get on the podcast. Go give it a try. And you know, get going. Yeah.
[00:16:09] Jessica: He’s like, here’s this option. Why don’t you go try it? And I’m like, cool. The worst he can say is no. So I was like, sure, why not? And then you went back. I’m like, really?
[00:16:17] Stephen: Cool. Yeah. I told, I talked to Jim, uh, and told him, Hey, uh, you know, let all your students and stuff.
[00:16:24] No. Uh, and, and I think I look at it as. Yeah. Uh, like you said, it’s a risk. I know there are probably some that like, Oh, I couldn’t do that. They wouldn’t take that risk, but it will hurt them long run. And not just because they weren’t on the podcast. This is not such a big, important podcast as go make or break his career.
[00:16:43] It’s more of the mindset of getting on the podcast and talking about yourself and your book. And that will help your career way more than one podcast.
[00:16:54] Jessica: Yeah, no, and, and it’s an awesome opportunity and I really appreciate it. So it’s [00:17:00] been awesome to be able to talk with you about stuff. One of the things…
[00:17:03] Great, and it’s been fun. Okay, so one of the things was, like I had seen about why do you write? Um, and this has taken a long time to figure out, but I’ve realized that I write to push people to be better versions of themselves. I do that to my characters and Life Circumstances does it to me all the time.
[00:17:21] Um, they, my characters don’t always like it, but learning hurts and I need to learn from those mistakes. So, you know, sometimes you have to fall flat on your face with the story and then stand up and write a better one. Um, so you take that pain and you take that hurt, and then you take the joy and the triumph and you just work it into like the, just different things because, you know, I want people to be better after reading my story than they were when they picked, when before they picked it up.
[00:17:47] So that’s kind of why I, I do what I do. Right.
[00:17:51] Stephen: All right. Well, before we go, Jessica, this has been really fun. Um, do you have, besides take a risk, do you have any other last [00:18:00] minute advice for new authors?
[00:18:02] Jessica: Write a lot, figure out your voice. Cause one of the hardest things to figure out is the uniqueness of your own voice in writing.
[00:18:09] Because sometimes you’re like, well, that story is kind of like that one. That one’s already been published. What about like, is it even gonna, you know, some of those doubts that come up and. You have a story that’s unique to you that needs to be published out to the world, because somebody needs to hear it.
[00:18:25] Spend time finding your voice. Spend time working on, um, your craft. Like, go to the conferences, figure out how to write better stories. Like just because I’m published doesn’t mean that I’m not going to pick up a book on writing story and conflict because I need to hear that I need to know if there’s like a different way that I can approach things and make the book better than the one before it.
[00:18:46] Read a lot, find out what you like and what you don’t because there’s times when we all like, how did this get published? But then at the same time, you’re like, Oh my gosh, I could never write this good. So, find what works. Find what works for you. And just [00:19:00] keep doing it and definitely spend time finding that writing voice.
[00:19:04] So, that would probably be some of my advice. Yeah. Great.
[00:19:08] Stephen: That’s wonderful. Appreciate it. Uh, Jessica, it’s been really fun. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today. Yeah.
[00:19:14] Jessica: Thanks for taking the time too. I appreciate it. Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths. Come back next week and listen to another author discuss the road they’ve traveled and maybe, sometime in the near future, it might be you.