Hello again friends, bloggers and muses,
This week’s Behind the Author interview is going to be dealing with novel writing and publishing. Today’s author is a passionate writer, a hopeless romantic and a published author. We’re going to be talking novels.
Today’s Guest: Jessica Larsen of JessicaeLarsen.com
If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Jessica or perusing her blog, then I encourage you to do so after the interview! She’s a great blogger to be friends with, funny and encouraging. Now, let’s get to it!
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ― Octavia E. Butler
Mathew: Hey Jessica! It’s great to have you with me for this interview. I’ve been looking forward to this, because outside of your bubbly persona, you’re also a published author with 9 novels written in English and 4 novels written in your native language of the Philippines. That’s a pretty impressive fete for any writer.
Jessica: Thank you for the kind words, Mathew. I swear my heart is swelling. It’s an honor to be here in this interview.
Mathew: My first question for you is, at what age did you first begin writing to publish and how has the literary journey evolved for you?
Jessica: I’ve been seriously writing poems since I was 18, but it was when I was 20 that I discovered my passion for romance stories. I only wrote in Filipino for years and submitted it to publishers. Nothing much comes out of it, because some rather unbelievable reason was given to me when the book gets rejected, like they can’t have a hero who has killed someone even for self-defense and stuff like that. Although some did made sense, like “nothing much happens” or plain and simple slap like: “Your stories sucks!”
Ouch. I feel to say, “My friends said it’s good!” But we know how friends are right? They’ll always find positive things for you to show their love.
After getting rejected again and again, I lost my confident with my writing. But I love creating stories, so I started story blogging to build experience and get feedback from readers. I joined online writing groups and participated in non-profitable contest (those that don’t cost a cent) and share my story in other story websites. But this was back in 2006 when blogging was young, and bloggers practically dominated the internet. Nowadays, it takes so much more to get notice. In six years, I finally feel tougher. I published my first book in 2012.
Mathew: How have you gone about trying to promote your books in the past? Do you have an agent?
Jessica: No, I got my publishing contract with two of my books without an agent. To be honest, contacting an agent is more nerve wrecking for me than going straight to publisher who accept direct submission from the authors.
I don’t have much time to promote the last year other than sharing teasers in my blog and mentioning my books from time to time. But before when I had plenty of time, I created artworks of my characters and share them on DeviantArt and other image sharing sites. I also make book trailers and spread them around. And I contact book reviewers and asked if they’re interested in reading my book and (hopefully) review it. Sometimes I ask blog tour sites which offer to include author books in their review page for a small fee to list my book(s). They will take the responsibility of sending the copy of the author’s book to the bloggers who request to read it and make sure the blogger follow up.
Mathew: You’re fairly new to the blogging world, starting late last year. Correct? What made you get into blogging?
Jessica: Yes and no…
2018 is the year I return to WordPress. I started blogging around the summer of 2003…My blog back then was created to relieve my homesickness and share my life outside of my country. I since jump around different blogging platforms. Not staying long enough. Last year, after being in Blogger for 5 years. I moved back to WordPress and made a fresh start because I like it best for interaction.
Mathew: One of my bucket list goals is to create and publish a novel. But, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and an over-thinker, so this process is painfully slow. Not to mention I spend way too much time scribbling my inane thoughts onto my blog. What advice would you give to me and other writers working on their first novel?
Jessica: Oh, ah, haha 😀 this is embarrassing for me because I’m not sure if I’m qualified to give advice, but I’ll do my best. Ehem… ah, I don’t think there’s a one-size fits all advice for writers. I think that every writer has different needs. What works for me might never work for another. And what they find best might be tormenting for me.
Here’s what work for me. I make a promise to myself to write every day, even when I’m in a bad mood. Usually I sit down and write first thing in the morning for at least 30 min. Then I’ll write whenever I can throughout the day (mobile writing apps like Evernote come in handy for this). But that 30 min in the morning is a must. It’s surprising you know, that by just sitting down each day and making time to write, I get inspired, while breaking the routine throw me in a writer’s block corner.
Also being a perfectionist is great, but if it’s getting in your way while writing your draft, I think that side of you should be imprisoned. That editor side needs to shut up so that you can begin writing without it screaming at you for what you’re doing wrong. Also, if that perfectionist side persist, try reading these quotes (they’re my favorite).
Note from Mathew: I’ve spread Jessica’s quotes throughout the interview. 🙂
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour
Mathew: It seems to me, that you primarily like to write about romance in your novels, but you have elements of fantasy, crime and other genres, which I find interesting. Of all of your books, which one was the most fun for you to write and why?
Jessica: Out of all the published ones, I think “Making Him Fall” because this involve a demon princess and an archangel fighting over the human who the angel was guarding. But the angel is bored, and the demon princess find the angel repulsive and attractive. Another thing I found fun is building the land and inventing fantasy land names, and magical plants. And my favorite character, the talking crow.
However, the one I’m most excited and had even more fun writing is the sci-fi series about aliens playing god on earth. I finished the draft of the first book, currently planning the next book, unfortunately, because I have a 2 ½ year old, I can only work on writing books minutes a day, which leaves no room for self-editing.
Mathew: Thanks for your time, and all of your insight. I wish you great success with your many novels, short stories, and blog. It’s been great to have you as part of the community. Perhaps we can end this interview with a bit of a personal question. As a romance novelist, you must know a thing or two about relationships, what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to love. Being that writers typically need a bit of space in order to produce quality work, what are 3 traits that a writer should look for in a partner in order to make sure that they don’t lose their passion for writing over time?
Jessica: Understanding. You can’t have someone who doesn’t understand your passion for writing and doesn’t appreciate what you do. It will simply drag you down which in turn makes you unproductive.
Loving and supportive. Being a writer is solitary work, but a writer needs someone to pushed them forward and remind them of their love for writing, especially when they feel like giving up.
Patient. A writer’s inspiration can come from anything, anywhere, anytime. And there are times when I’m so inspired that it’s impossible to removed me from the keyboard. I can’t have someone stressing me for whatever reason, like dressing up because we must go or moving from my PC to the table to eat dinner hahaha 😀 (this happens a lot). I can list more but I think this is my top choices.
“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” ― Jodi Picoult
Well, there you have it! If there are any of you aspiring writers out there who have been thinking of publishing your first novel, I hope that Jessica’s words bring you some encouragement as they have for me. I’ll definitely be setting aside at least a half an hour a day towards that goal myself in the future. Persistence is more important than anything else, after-all, because without the act of doing, we are only ever dreaming.
Also, I believe one important point to note from this interview is that if you want to be successful, you better be prepared to fail! It doesn’t mean that things won’t work out for you, but you’re probably going to have moments that will test your determination. Don’t fear being rejected by publishers or agents. Just take your actions one at a time, and don’t think too far ahead. Just keep moving in the right direction, and don’t give up! If you can do that, than there’s nothing that will be able to stop you.
Thanks for joining on this week’s, Behind the Author!
Visit JessicaeLarsen.com by clicking here
Questions? Comments? Leave them down below!