Tell us all about you! What would you most like your readers to know?
That I am a city girl trapped in a rural area! Writing is my escape from my every day and I especially love using personal experiences to spice up my manuscripts.
Are you one of those writers born with a pen in your hand and ideas flitting through your mind, or did your interest develop later?
I’ve been making up stories for years, as far back as I can remember. I knew in elementary school I wanted to create, but I wasn’t sure what direction that would take me. I pursued other creative careers, but I settled into a more typical day job until I had more of an idea of where I would land. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I decided to write professionally. I think it was my “Turning 30” anxiety attack.
When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
I published my first novel in November of 2013, so about a year or two before that is when I really got serious. I knew I needed to join RWA if I wanted to make it a career.
Tell us about your writing process. Soft lights and music? White noise? Child-and-pet confusion? Locked in a room alone? What sets your writing mood and pushes you forward?
I try so hard to write in seclusion, but the kids always find me. It’s a struggle since I really need to submerge myself into Regency London, but the four year old always finds a way to drag me out, kicking and screaming, back into modern times.
What are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
I have a habit of taking experiences with ex-boyfriends and using those. Not the exact experience, but a lot of the same feelings and interactions. What better inspiration for a romance novel than my own brushes with ill-fated romance?
Literary Inspiration: throughout your life, what novels have lifted you, made you think, “Someday I want to create something like that . . .”
I want to be Judith McNaught when I grow up. She does great historicals and great contemporaries. But, if I could write a great historical epic like Kathleen Woodiwiss – I would be one happy girl!
What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
When someone actually bought my first book! My first novel was pretty successful for a first-timer and I qualified for PAN (Published Authors Network) shortly after its release. I was shocked to see my own name included among others who I held in such high esteem. It was surreal! The next was at the Romance Times Convention where I did a signing with other Soul Mate authors. I just couldn’t fathom why anyone would want me to sign their bags and pamphlets. Crazy.
Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
Internet – I write historical romance and without I wouldn’t know what the different ways to tie a cravat were called.
Coffee – because everyone needs a bit of stimulant while writing romance.
Petey the dog – My English bulldog Petey is the equivalent of a throw rug. He’s usually underfoot and stays in one place all day. But, I like having him around when I write.
Cell phone – Sometimes you just need to reach out and beg your critique partners for help.
Writers face many time-constraint challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
I had a full-time job when I started writing and that was difficult. I had actually returned to school for another degree, had a baby and a kid in first grade, and a full time position at a hospital in a consulting type role. It was hectic to say the least. Then I went part-time and now I’m kind of blended. I’m helping with a major project for a hospital right now and trying to relocate my family to a new town, so it’s a bit busier than I like it to be a month before deadline.
To get anything done, it’s important that my husband and I talk frequently about our schedules so that nobody forgets to pick up the nine year old from gymnastics practice. I also have a huge dry erase board with a monthly timeline so that all my due dates are visual. Everything goes on there. And of course, I have a daily to-do list. My meals are planned out two weeks at a time (this way we don’t become dependent on fast-food). If could figure out how to make sure I exercise regularly, that would be swell. Writing happens after bedtime or on the days I’m off and the kids have preschool/school. It’s important that my family time is just that – family time.
What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
When it flows! I love those days that 8,000 words just pours out. I work better under pressure, so that usually doesn’t happen until my last month before deadline.
What aspects of the writing process do you find most difficult?
The middle. How do I fill in the middle of a story? The meeting of hero and heroine is easy, as is the ending. But the middle – ugh.
How do you begin a story? Do you just sit down with an idea in mind and start writing, or are you a person who wouldn’t dream of starting without a detailed outline, character sketches, and pages of research data?
I outline. I need to know where they’re going before I start. But of course, that’s usually derailed by chapter five.
Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
The fourth in my Tisdale series is in the home stretch. It’s about the last Tisdale sister and a secondary hero from book two. I received multiple emails wanting to see more about him, so truly is what the readers wanted to see happen.
Jessica’s current Soul Mate release, Going Rogue:
Miss Meredith Castle leaves behind everything she knows to join her great aunt in London and become leader of the infamous girls’ club, The Ribbons. She’s willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to redeem her ailing mother, even if that means leaving her childhood love behind to scale London’s social ladder.
When Derek Weston’s best friend receives the offer of a lifetime, he encourages her to take it. Unwilling to let her go completely, he chases after her, only to find the sweet girl he loved replaced by a spoiled debutante. A broken man, he leaves London to start a new life at sea.
Five years later, Meredith realizes her reign as Queen of the Ball is about to come to an end, if she doesn’t do something to fix her tarnished reputation. Pairing up with the Season’s newest wallflower seems like the perfect plan, until she finds out her demure friend is being pursued by the very man she thought she’d never see again. Only, Derek Weston isn’t who he used to be. He’s inherited a Scottish title and grown into an arrogant man she barely recognizes; yet in her heart, knows she still loves. Torn between her past and an uncertain future, can she find a way back to the life she used to have and the boy who once adored her?
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Jessica, thanks so much for visiting with us today!