Thursday, February 28, 2013

Writer Acrobatics with Guest Jessica Keller


I hope you don’t mind the huge vat of coffee sitting beside me as we talk. I’m trying to stay up and alert enough to—in true Seekerville fashion—have fun banter in my comments but I’ll need copious amounts of caffeine for that because my five-week old baby kept me up most of the night. To take a page out of dear Ruthy’s playbook, here’s a picture of my cute daughter.


 


One thing having a child has quickly taught me is that I have to be flexible. Nothing happens on my timetable anymore. And know what? I’m okay with that (she’s lucky she’s cute).


Now, if only I could swallow that same lesson as easily when it comes to my writing career. 


The truth is you have to be nothing short of a contortionist to make it in this industry. Some of us really need to dig down and do some writer stretches and work on our ability to bend.



The fact is, if you want to be a published author you have to be flexible with your work, teachable in your spirit, and always willing to change aspects of your story.


How do we work on our flexibility?


1)    Seek tough feedback


"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." -Winston Churchill

Two years ago, I walked into my first writer’s conference. I sat down for my first ever agent appointment. She asked to see my first chapter and she maybe read the first three sentences before looking back at me and saying, “You have good ideas, but if this is your best writing, I don’t see publishing in your future.”

I had two options. I could allow that agent’s feedback to kill my dream, or I could use that feedback as a challenge. I chose the latter. I stuck the old manuscript in a drawer, and pulled out four recently published CBA books. I gave myself one month to read them all, mapping out their plots as I went. I took what I’d learned and wrote a whole new story.

Learning from criticism paid off. I won first in every contest I entered with my new manuscript and I had offers of representation from all three agents I sent proposals to. All in less than four months since the day an agent told me she didn’t see a future for me.

The best news? That manuscript that I wrote…It’s my debut novel, Home for Good.

2)    Be willing to have your story chopped


When I wrote Home for Good I hadn’t crafted it as a paperback romance. The manuscript was 78,000 words long and everyone knows that Love Inspired stories are much shorter than that. With the help of my super-woman editor Melissa Endlich, I had to hack away 23,000 words.
Words that I have carefully crafted, metaphors I’d felt like a genius for creating, and characters that I loved all had to fall on the chopping floor.


That experience showed me that I can’t be married to any one scene or chapter or character. Ever. 


3)    Be willing to change your story


The amazing Mary Connealy just had wonderful post about this about two weeks ago where she talked about moving her stories to different states and turning a manuscript about a big city romance into a small town one. But I can’t repeat enough how we have to be able to morph our story to fit what an editor might want. 

My debut was a romance, but I also write young adult. I have a young adult series that I’ve written and loved that was originally written in third person. I met with an editor and they said that they wanted first person stories – could I change my manuscript to be first person? You bet.
And know what? I think it’s ten times stronger now that it’s written in first person.


Another writer friend loves to write stories set during Regency, but the editors came back saying Regencies aren’t selling as well as they hoped but people are looking for Edwardian set books now thanks to Downton Abbey – would she be willing to rewrite the book set during the Edwardian period? Sure thing.  


4)    Stretch yourself


Lastly, we can become more flexibly by widening our own horizons. Take that class at the Y or that dance lesson through your park district. Stick to that goal of running a half marathon by the end of the year. I’m amazed how much new experiences stretch me and make me remember that being moldable can be a good experience.




All right, coffee’s on and I brought my Death by Chocolate Cake for everyone to share. Double helpings for anyone willing to help with diaper changes and feedings today!



 

I also have a prize basket for one of the people who comment today. I’m calling in my Mega Montana Prize Pack! Home for Good takes place in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana, so in the pack there is huckleberry jam, a white chocolate huckleberry candy bar, a stuffed mountain lion, a card with the Bitterroot flower on it, and a signed copy of my book.


 



As a child Jessica possessed the dangerous combination of too much energy coupled with an over-active imagination. This pairing led to more than seven broken bones and countless scars. 

She’s worked as a zookeeper, a librarian, camp counselor, horse wrangler, housekeeper, and finance clerk, but now loves her full-time work in law enforcement. Jessica lives in the Chicagoland suburbs with her amazing husband, beautiful daughter, and two annoyingly outgoing cats.

Blog: www.jesskeller.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jessicakellerauthor
Twitter: @KellerAuthor

 



Home For Good
"I made a promise to protect you."

But pregnant Ali Silver's husband broke his vow and walked away from her. After being injured in combat, Jericho has finally come home to Bitterroot Valley to make peace with his father and regain Ali's trust. But the single mom's keeping secrets of her own. And someone's killing off Ali's cattle and sabotaging her horse therapy business. Jericho will do whatever it takes to protect his wife and be a real father to his son. Because when it comes to love and second chances, he's one determined cowboy.

111 comments :

  1. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE JESSICA!!!


    Oh, wait I better lower my voice or I'll wake the b-a-b-y.

    It's wonderful to have you here.

    Congratulations on your debut release.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no need to keep your voice down yet, Tina...the little dear has decided to preform some acrobatics of her own and not go to sleep yet go the night. I tried explaining to her that I have a big day on Seekerville to rest up for. Lets just say she's lucky she's cute...

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  2. Hi, Jessica! Congratulations on such a beautiful baby. I love your tenacity. I kind of did something similar. Through an online class an editor (mainstream). Someone in the class asked what were things she (the editor) did not wish to see. Chamberpots. What? Chamberpots? Yeah, watch me. Don't tell me I can't, because I sure will give it my all to succeed. So, I set out to write an entire scene around a chamberpot. :) I entered it a few tiny agent contests. A lot of people entered that contest. A lot. Like several hundred people a lot. And my scene got a special mention. :)

    One of these days I'd like to finish that story, but first I need to revamp the first story I wrote to an inspirational.

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    Replies
    1. Chamberpots!! That's a hoot. I'm sure that made the editor shake their head :)

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    2. Okay...side part to my story that I didn't mention in the post...the agent who said she didn't see a future ended up being a final judge for a contest I entered and won. In her notes she gave her contact info and said to contact her because based on the submission she was interested in representing me.

      I ended up writing her a thank you note for being a judge and for the tough feedback she gave when we first met. If she had taken the easy route snd said something nice I wouldn't be where I am.

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  3. (Sneaking in on kitten feet in case the sweet baby's asleep.)

    Congratulations on the debut book as well as the new little bundle of joy!

    Don't put me in the drawing. I already have your book and thoroughly enjoyed it!

    I'll be practicing my acrobatics in March. I signed up for SpeedBo and then I got handed the new month's work schedule this afternoon. I nearly cried. Not only am I On the one day I specifically asked Off (a day I'm normally off anyway), I work more hours this month to cover vacation days. Good for the paycheck, not so good for my writing goals. Guess I'm gonna have to get creative. And I will. After I pout a bit.

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    1. Good luck on Speedbo Clari - I'll be right there with you. I go back to my day job in march so it'll be a three ring circus trying to write for sure!! We'll have to cheer each other on.

      I'm so glad you liked the book!

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  4. /whisper/

    JESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Love that pic of your sweet baby!

    You've got some awesome stuff here, darlin'!

    I am so very very proud of you, NovelSista!

    Massive writing day today - I'll come back tomorrow when I'm coherent ;).

    Love you!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there sweet friend! So I did okay?!? You know how terrified I was about not having a great post... ;)

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  5. No need to put me in the drawing, your book is currently in the "book that gets carried around in my purse" position for sneak in reading times. LIs are so good for that. :)

    And I'll take a double portion of cake, I currently change diapers, what's a couple more. :) Congrats on your living doll!

    And yep, don't get married to those words or you'll go nowhere fast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can have a triple portion Melissa! I remember reading that your child was trying to force feed you beef jerky when you got "the call" - lol - they sure keep us in reality.

      I love knowing my books in your purse! You'll have to let me know whst you think when you're done.

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    2. You can have a triple portion Melissa! I remember reading that your child was trying to force feed you beef jerky when you got "the call" - lol - they sure keep us in reality.

      I love knowing my books in your purse! You'll have to let me know whst you think when you're done.

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  6. Jessica, your baby is adorable! Come late September, I will have two new grandbabies to adore.
    Your book sounds really good. Congrats on the release.
    Please enter me in the giveaway...God bless.
    debsbunch5[at]jesusanswers[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Two grandbabies! Congrats. You'll have your hands full ;)

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  7. Congratulations on your new little girl Jessica! She is beautiful! Also congratulations on you debut novel. I love to read debut novels!

    Also, thank you for this post, it's one for my keeper book.

    Would love to be entered into your giveaway!

    Have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jess, are you allowed to say what the day job is? Or maybe hint. I admit to curiosity as you said it is in law enforcement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I manage the records for a police department. All case paperwork comes to me and I edit and control the release of information. So I deal with judges, states attorneys, lawyers, criminals, victims, insurance companys, reporters, and the officers every day. I make the reports shine before they go before the court - that sort of thing.

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  9. And seriously, day job, new baby and writing? What's your game plan for not only acrobatics but juggling?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um...very understanding parents who live five minutes walking distance from my house (she's their only grandchild) and a very supportive husband.

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  10. One more question before I go in search of coffee..why did you set your book in Montana? Any background there? I spent quite a few years vacationing in the Flathead Lake area, bottom of the lake not top, but I am not familiar with Montana -where is Bitterroot?

    Is the next book set there as well?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. True story: I've never been to Montana in my life. I originally wrote the book to taylor it to a publishing line that sets stories in different real towns and sometimes the theme ties in with the name. I was plotting a story that dealt with bitterness and forgiveness when I stumbled upon Bitterroot Valley and after a ton of reseach, interviews with people who live there, and phone chats with their tourism board, I set the book there.

      Bitterroot Valley is on the southern west boarder of the state. The Bitterroot Mountain Range divides Montana and Idaho.

      I have plotted out two more books with characters in Home for Good set in Bitterroot but right now I'm not writing them. Instead I'm working on a series set in a tourist town in Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. All at the advice of my editor to not get pigeon holed in to contemporary westerns

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  11. Good morning Jessica,

    I'm so excited to see you here.

    Your baby is beautiful. Congratulations!

    I appreciate the pep talk today as I prepare for Speedbo and try to work up the nerve to send another query to another agent.

    You've reminded me of other times in my life where I fought for a goal, so I'll continue the good fight.

    Thanks for sharing, and please toss my name in the hat. Have a great day.

    Jackie L.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome Jackie! We'll cheer each other on in Speedbo togethet

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  12. BTW gorgeous cover. That farm house and the background are just stunning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The hit it out of the park, didn't they!!? I wad so pleaded

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  13. Adorable baby, adorable cake and Jess, you are so young and lovely that I think you can do it all!

    I'm so glad you took that jolt from an agent and turned it around rather than giving up. Thanks for your thoughts on the eve of Speedbo.

    I take the things I cut and put them in a file which reduces the pain tremendously...

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    Replies
    1. Such a good idea Debra. I have been able to rework cut stuff for new manuscripts sometimes or this week on my blog I'm posting my original chapter one of Home for Good

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  14. Careful Jess, I think Tina's stealing your coffee!

    I'm hoping your wee one is asleep now. I remember my oldest would stay up half the night and then sleep all morning. I knew it wasn't a healthy schedule, but it matched mine pretty well because I was a night owl too.

    I'm in awe of your sale story. You get the award for - well I don't know what, but some kind of award for stick-to-it-tiveness. That was cool and so gracious of you to thank the editor/judge.

    Great blog post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Baby afforded me all of 40 minutes of sleep last night *long deep sigh* but she's sleeping like an angel now so I hope to get a bit done and sneek in a nap this morning

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  15. Clearly I should have stolen some of the coffee - agent/judge not editor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol! There's plenty to go around - drink up!!

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  16. Good morning, Jessica! LOVE the sweet baby's pic AND your book cover! Tell us a bit about how you got the idea for this story...and do you have another one in the wings? Will it be set in Montana, too?

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    1. I mentor college aged women and have led a married small group with my husband and during those things I've seen how women often allow bitterness to become a wall in their life. Its not something that's addressed all that much.

      So I decided to ask the question...what if a woman had lived through things that gave her every worldly right to be bitter, could God help her to let go and forgive - even then?

      I do have more stories in the wings! Working on some in a new location now but I may revisit Montana in the future

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  17. WHERE'S THE LOVE, LOVE, LOVE BUTTON??????

    Oh my stars, chickie, that baby is beyond beautiful..... I'm head over heels in love!

    AND....

    (I know, I know, more to the point) I think your post and your story are exceptional. I love that you didn't let that negative reply from the agent (which we all need to be ready to hear) stop you, you turned that frown upside down and worked your butt off!!!!

    YAY YOU!!!!!

    (Can we say butt in Seekerville? Pretend it's the "butt" of a gun!)

    Welcome, Jess and super congrats on the book, on bein' a new (and stinkin' YOUNG) partner at Love Inspired and on THAT BABY!!!!!

    SUHWEEEET!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ruthy! I'm always inspired by all your energy. And it looks like you have so much fun with all the kiddos at your house.

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  18. Jessica,

    Congratulations on both your book and your darling child!

    I love the picture of the 'flexible' writer in your post. Sometimes that is how it feels but being flexible is an essential part of writing.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Man alive...I know it! I almost added "waiting" to the flexible list too! I think waiting on publishers to hear back on proposals is one of the things I need to learn to be much more flexible about

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  19. Hi Jess a welcome to Seekerville, I'm in awe. A new baby, a full time job AND published. You're my kind of gal. Love your drive to follow your dreams. Go girl.

    Love the photo of your daughter and the book cover also.

    Have fun today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I've always been too driven for my own good :). This year is all about finding the balance...wish me luck

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  20. You have a beautiful little girl! I'm so glad you pulled a "Ruthy" and shared her with Seekerville.

    If she had taken the easy route snd said something nice I wouldn't be where I am

    now THERE's food for thought. i'm definitely keeping that in mind as i work through the beginning throes of becoming a writer. take the hard stuff and use it as inspiration, not discouragement.

    thank you for sharing your story and reminding us of the need for flexibility.

    would like to be in the drawing for your book. love the cover.

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    1. Yes...although I will admit that I gave myself one night of tears before coming to the conclusion that I needed to dust myself off and press on...I left out the crying part ;)

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    2. Yes...although I will admit that I gave myself one night of tears before coming to the conclusion that I needed to dust myself off and press on...I left out the crying part ;)

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  21. Wonderful reminders to flexible. I tried working on a schedule but...didn't happen.


    Congratulations on your book and your beautiful baby!

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  22. Thanks for the reminder to be flexible. I am thinking it is an important message to have right before Speedbo.

    Babies are the cutest way life has of making us flexible!

    Remember to be gentle with yourself during Speedbo. Time will fly by and that baby will be thirty and having babies of her own. SAVOR.

    I will pass on the prize since I am allergic to some ingredients and have two copies of your book, which I adored even in the chopped version.


    Peace and continued blessings, Julie

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  23. Jessica! What's more exciting - the book debut or the new baby?

    (Pass that munchkin over here - it's time for a diaper change, isn't it?)

    Amen on being flexible. I always figure there are people who know a whole lot more about how to publish and sell books than I do, so once I submit it, I'll be as flexible as they want. That manuscript won't do any good just sitting in a computer file, will it?

    And thanks for the cake. Love the chocolate :)

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  24. Jessica - You are so right about being able to accept criticism and learning from it. It really does give us marketable projects instead of vanity writing.

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  25. i was going to offer to do more than change diapers, Jessica. i was thinking of rocking, cooing and so on as well. She's adorable! But with grandparents around, i guess changing diapers is okay, too.
    And the book looks great. At least, i'll offer to be an influencer!

    mitziUNDERSCOREwanhamATyahooDOTcom

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  26. CONGRATULATIONS on your beautiful baby AND your book, Jessica! Enjoyed your post today, and I'll gladly change diapers and feed that precious baby for you (I don't have grandbabies yet, and I still deal with "empty nest" feelings *sigh*). Thank you so much for taking time to visit with us and share your wisdom. Please add me to your drawing (that mountain lion is adorable). Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo
    p.s. If you need something else to snack on later today, I've brought some Georgia Peach muffins--warm from the oven. Enjoy! ;)

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  27. Congratulations, Jessica, on both the book and the baby. If only raising kids could be a tax deduction under 'research'. Ha!

    Must get over to the speedbo list...

    Thank you for the pic of your adorable little one. And yes, I like how DebH said you pulled a Ruthy. :)

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  28. Jess, I love that you and the agent met again further down the road! That's how it is... and I think how they separate the men from the ... well, okay, the women from the....

    er....

    Ummmm

    Okay, that's how they weed us out!

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  29. Go nap and come back after the nap.

    We are a very self directed bunch.

    We have coffee and we have cake. You have left us in good shape.

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  30. Hey, Jessica, I was just looking at that stretching picture and thinking, wow I do that everyday. HAHAHA

    congrats on your new baby. Babies are such precious gifts.

    My new grand daughter was born last week.

    Congrats on your book.

    Thanks so much for your sharing today.

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  31. Anita Mae!!! What have you been up to?

    Yes. Anyone else who hasn't signed up for Speedbo, do it now. Opportunity to win a Speedbo Survivor pack ends on Friday at midnight (that's one minute after midnight on Saturday).

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  32. Welcome to the post side of Seekerville! You nailed what we writers need to succeed!!!! I'm impressed! And grateful for the reminders.

    Your cover is gorgeous! Though not as gorgeous as your baby girl. I'm in for diaper changes while you guzzle caffeine. :-)

    Congrats, Jessica, on your debut! With your work ethic and attitude, you'll go far.

    Janet

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  33. Tina,

    Is it already Nap time, I haven't been up that long.

    BTW I signed up under for Speedbo under four names. Cause I have four or more stories to finish... LOL

    Not to mention it ups my odds of winning.

    You believe me right?
    :-)

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  34. Seriously, Pinson? You signed up as Tina, Meeny, Miny and Mo?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, Tina Pinson, Tina P. Tina II and T. Pins

      LOL

      NOT

      Delete
  35. Wow, Jessica, got to go read all that AGAIN.

    And... you're doing all that, AND with a new baby. I'm in awe!

    I felt the urge to complete this sentence:

    If you want to be a published author you have to...burn the midnight oil!

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  36. And I meant to say, the baby is adorable! You gonna keep her?

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  37. Congratulations Jessica on both the new book and an adorable baby. :)

    I'm learning to be more flexible as I rework some scenes in my novel.

    Blessings,
    Jodie Wolfe

    ReplyDelete
  38. We could all finish that sentence...To be a published author you have to...



    Buy a full length mirror so you can tell when your butt threatens to get bigger than your office chair and then you must adapt accordingly.

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  39. A white chocolate huckleberry candybar! I have to enter just for that

    Congrats on the new addition to your family.

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  40. YAY JESSICA!!!!!!!!
    THIS IS WHAT AN AUTHOR DOES!!!
    LOVE THE WINSTON CHURCHILL QUOTE BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH TRUTH IN THAT!!!!
    Criticism stinks but it's part of the crucible, part of the refining fire.
    And now as I read those lovely ONE STAR reviews on Amazon that say things like, "How did this awful book ever get published"...
    Honestly, I can just shrug it off. HAH! I've been abused by WAAAAAY meaner people than you, cupcake!

    You used that cruel assessment as a shot in the arm rather than a shot in the heart. Good for you.

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  41. And (this was actually my first comment!) what a sweet baby, Jessica. My heart is melting as I type.
    I must find and hold a baby, immediately. (watch the news for mention of my name and an arrest!!!)

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  42. LOL, Mary Connealy.

    You HAVE your own grandchildren to hug.

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  43. JESSICA, so much wisdom in this post! You are so right--flexibility is an absolute requirement.

    But--OUCH!!!--that agent really said that???

    Another writerly necessity is alligator skin, as an experienced author reminded me often in my pre-pubbed years. Congratulations on taking up the challenge instead of letting that blunt assessment kill your dream!

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  44. Congrats on your release, Jessica! And this is one grandma who will gladly do baby duty. Wait, I'm ON baby duty. Now where did that 7.5-month-old scooter get to this time? Back later.

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  45. Hey Teenster, I've been writing - wait no, I can do that fast... I've been editing. sigh

    But if you haven't got my SpeedBo entry, you'll get it soon because I'm writin' again. YEE HAWWWW!

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  46. I'll be on the look out for it, Anita Mae. Enter early, enter often. hehehe

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  47. But they're not NEWBORN!
    My youngest grandchild is a TWO YEAR OLD.
    He's absolutely adorable but not exactly an infant these days.

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  48. Congratulations Jessica, on your adorable baby and the release of your debut. Love your attitude. Great advice on being flexible.

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  49. Well you have sixteen kids, ask them to give you a newborn, Connealy. You've got cows, you know how that works.

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  50. Congrats on both your new releases, Jessica. Your baby is perfection. Makes me want to go cuddle one while its asleep and not wriggling and yowling. :-)

    Hope you're taking a nap right now so that you can continue to be so flexible! Can't believe how quickly you're going back to work! And writing on top of that. Wow! That's dedication.

    Don't enter me in the draw because I have your book on order already. Can't wait to read it.

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  51. I PROMISE Radcliffe that I am trying to talk grandkids out of these stubborn children.

    THEY NEVER OBEY ME!!!!!!!

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  52. Jessica, I didn't even begin writing until my baby went to kindergarten, you are soooooo on the ball.

    Oh, and I didn't get my first book published until that same 'baby' graduated from high school.

    But then I think we all know I was doing it WRONG!!!!!!!

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  53. Hi Jessica,

    Wow. I need a nap just listening to all you do! What a gorgeous baby!

    Thanks for the post. You must be a quick learner to get published after studying 4 books. I've read millions! And I'm still plodding onward. LOL.

    Love to win a copy of your debut LI!

    Cheers,
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  54. I loved the note about seeking hard criticism. I've been involved in so many "crit partner" relationships where I've spent copious time giving feedback and gotten back "Oh, this chapter is good."

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  55. I'll change diapers!! I have to get some practice in, my daughter baby is due the second week in March, or sooner if she doesn't slow down a little. Guess where> In Montana! (and we live in Nebraska but a whole hour closer then we used to) We will get there somehow, while the baby is still tiny and does that sort of melting into you thing when they fall asleep. Ahh, love your baby picture Jessica.

    And I love farm houses, that is a great cover! Sounds like a great story too, I will try to read it soon.

    One more thing, huckleberries, they are a step or two above blueberries in the yum-o factor.

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  56. Jessica!

    Congratulations on your debut daughter and debut book...Judging from your bio (no doubt abbreviated), you are the poster child for flexibility!

    You said they wanted first person stories – could I change my manuscript to be first person? You bet.
    And know what? I think it’s ten times stronger now that it’s written in first person.


    DITTO!!! I wrote May the K9 Spy's first book in 3rd, and my writing coach/editor had me rework it in 1st. Made all the difference. One of the hardest things I ever did too!

    Thank you for sharing. /clink/ on the coffee cup to ya! Would love to win should that happen... may at maythek9spy dot com

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  57. Hand in the air, well practiced Grammy of four volunteering for baby-cuddle time! Hi Jessica! Beautiful baby girl, and wonderful post. Congrats on the debut.

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  58. Jessica, what a sweet baby! Congratulations on your precious daughter and your beautiful book. I just got back from a week helping with my new grandson, so I have recent experience with baby details--I'll help!

    Thank you for your advice today. Just this morning I was thinking "flexible" should have been My One Word this year...mainly because my writing is not going exactly as I had planned. I'm getting experience with flexibility, too.

    And TINA: I entered a contest!!! It wasn't perfect (but if I waited for PERFECT it wasn't going to happen). I learned I have a lot to learn, but I appreciate all the info and encouragement here at Seekerville. Thanks to you!

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  59. Congratulations on your new baby! I am in awe of your ability to write and have a baby at home. I remember when mine were little (they are 7 & 4 now) I couldn't manage to do much more than keep them fed. ;) I can't wait to read your new book. It sound great!

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  60. LOL. Becky! EXACTLY why I don't do critique groups anymore.If I wanted a tiara I would call my mom.

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  61. SHERIDA!!! YAY!!!!

    The next growth will come from when you get the results back. It will be a huge curve.

    Then you can judge a contest. More growth from that!!!

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  62. Jessica, your words today are some I needed to hear. Great post!
    Your book looks SO GOOD.
    And that baby pic is precious!
    God bless you in your writing career!

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  63. Jessica, your daughter is adorable! I'm so glad you shared a picture of her. :)

    You have such a fun voice--it was great to learn a bit more about you, your journey and your mindset as I read this post. What especially resonated with me was not being married to your book--scenes, chapters or characters. Such a valuable reminder.

    In the few contests I've entered, I've done it with the hope of gaining valuable feedback. I've been fortunate that I've received good feedback, but not all positive. :) People either like or don't like my writing and my story. I think not being married to my entry has helped me evaluate the feedback a little more objectively.

    Thanks for the challenge to stretch myself. That's something I can work on during this year. :)

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  64. Jessica, I am in awe of how you turned what could have been a career-ending negative experience into a career-launching opportunity. Oh, and a different kind of 'awww' for that first photo in your post :-)

    And another lovely book cover ...

    Nancy C

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  65. Welcome Jessica and congrats on your debut book. Love the pic of your daughter. (love that you have two cats).

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  66. Welcome, Jessica!

    I'm smiling because one of the first important lessons a new author learns is that editors chop beautiful words out of your story but the story is better for it. Still, it's a painful process.

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  67. Jeanne T. You are in Speedbo. Your emails keep bouncing. But know you are in, K?

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  68. I think your story is so exciting and inspiring, Jessica!!! Four months after being told publishing was not in your future! Girl, you've got grit, that's all I can say. And you're so right--when something like that happens, it can become either a fist in the stomach or a challenge, and you def. took it as a challenge! You go, girl.

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  69. Sweet baby!! Beautiful bundle of joy. :)

    I agree - one sure way to improve you craft is through honest, helpful critiques. :)

    LOVE the cover to your book! Please enter me in the chance to win it. :)

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  70. Jan! You're a lifesaver! I'm passing her your way right now...more cake is coming hot from the oven right now!

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  71. Sorry for all the crazy posts earlier - I was posting from my phone which showed each was replying right after a commentor...alas, it doesn't look that nice now that I'm on a laptop. Still learning...

    Patti Jo - Pass those peach muffins this-a way! In fact...send over a dozen

    Tina Pinson - New grandchild last week!!! Congrats! And you're writing FOUR manuscripts during Speedbo...my word.

    Pam Hillman - Burn the midnight oil indeed..although Ginny and Melissa are the queens of that. My parents are actually taking the baby tonight so I'll be up writing and can get a good jump on Speedbo tomorrow morning.

    Connealy - Do you need bail? I might be able to pull some strings to get you out of jail...you know...I know people

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    1. Jessica I do wish I could get four manuscripts done. ;-)

      yep, our seventh grandchild, Ivy Nowell made her debut. I'm rather glad I get to hold and cuddle her as grandma and don't have to seek bail.

      I've wondered how wonderful it would be to have a Sarah moment and have a baby, but the desire dies after baby sitting.
      ;-)

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  72. Okay...baby Anna Rose is snuggled in her swing sleeping away so I'm typing quietly...

    Connealy...don't you have lots of newborn calves?? Maybe hug one of them and forgo the jail experience...just a thought.

    Becky - "Oh, this chapter is good." AAAAHHH! I hate when people say that - I'm not in this crit group to get pats on the back and waste time, I want to get better (which can only be done by telling me what to change and what I'm doing wrong). Yeah...crit groups can be a challenge. It took me two years of searching to find a couple people who will actually be like "um...throw this away" with blunt honesty ;)

    *Waving to Lyndee* Hi friend!! I should come back to the Chicago chapter someday and visit...just tough with the kid.

    Jenny - not that you asked, but I want to share ;) my cats are named Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, and yes, they are superheroes.

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  73. My critique partners never give me oh, this is a good chapter. Sometimes they have higher word counts in their comments than my ms.

    But I'm grateful for that.

    Jessica, if I could just prove people wrong when they say, "Oh, it's impossible to be skinny once you get past 40." I really want to prove them wrong...

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  74. Tina--thanks for letting me know. :) I'm not sure why e-mails keep bouncing. I did get one. I think I'm going to email you a couple questions, K?

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  75. a great article, jessica.
    your baby beautiful :)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

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  76. Jessica, thanks so much for being with us! And congratulations on the birth of your daughter!

    Great post! I just love that story of what the agent said and about how you took that as a challenge rather than letting it kill your dream. Good for you!!!

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  77. YAY, Jessica! So glad I made it to Seekerville, at long last. (I was away from my computer most of the day.)

    What a great blog. Hated to read the agent's nasty words about your lack of ability. Good for you for proving her wrong. And in such rapid time.

    Deb Macomber always includes mention of the teacher who said she couldn't write when she's giving a talk. I can see your story fitting nicely when you're the keynote at a huge conference...say ACFW.

    And that adorable baby! I'll take a shift. Even middle of the night. So precious.

    Congrats on your sweet baby and your new book!

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  78. OMG. There's huckleberry jam?

    I'm getting here at 11:20 and there's huckleberry jam?

    I am salivating all the way from Georgia.

    (Sorry, regaining sanity here.)

    Jessica, congratulations on your new book and your baby. I know you'll see this when you wake up in the middle of the night to feed your little girl.

    Counting down. Only 37 minutes to Speedbo.

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  79. It sounds like you know how to be flexible with your work.

    Your daughter is very beautiful.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  80. I missed this post!!

    Loved all of it... and the chocolate cake and cute baby!!!

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  81. What an adorable baby! The book sounds really good too. Sounds like you are adjusting well to a busy life.

    MinDaf @ Aol.com

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  82. God makes babies cute on purpose. That is a sweet one and at some point they do sleep the night through. You are right, you will now have to be flexible - wish I could tell you that it changes as they get older, but even my college age and beyond kids still call home at times and muck up my schedule - but I love hearing from them. Your book cover is beautiful and your story sounds interesting.

    HM at HVC dot RR dot COM

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  83. Looks Awesome!!!
    God Bless You!!!

    richmond.abigail@gmail.com

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  84. Congratulations! I'd love to win your book!

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  85. Congratulations, Jessica, on your debut novel, and your sweet baby.

    I'd love to win your book.

    Ginger (dot) solomon (at) gmail (dot) com

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