Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Status: Amateur

G'day! I'm Jess. Lovely to meet you.

I've never blogged before so let me start from the beginning.

I'm from small town Iowa, born and raised.  I love it here; love it so much that I've started raising a family of my own here.  I'm the mother of the funniest person I know.  Landon is 3 years old and does nothing but make me laugh constantly.  He's a great kid and the apple of my eye.

My husband, AJ and I have been married for five years, six in August.  We are opposites in nearly ever sense of the work, but we somehow manage to make it work.  He's a jock.  The most athletic thing I've ever done in my life is show choir and carry a ten-pound baby in my gut.  I'm the creative, artsy one.  He's a freshman boys basketball coach and fantasy football-er.  Like I say, opposites.

The third man in my life is my one year old Red Fox Lab named Titan.  He's a ball of energy and one of the most handsome dogs I've ever seen.  He's a Momma's boy and I find it impossible to say 'no' to his big amber eyes.  Call me a sucker, but they pull at my heart strings!

I'm currently a student looking to get my teaching license.  I did things a little backwards.  I got married, then had a kid, then decided I wanted to pursue higher education so things are slow going for me, but I'm making progress.  I'm going to teach high school English.

Writing is my passion.  I started out as a grazer.  Let me explain.  I remember being a tween, having an idea in my mind.  I'd write down events or conversations.  And when I say 'write down', I mean I quite literally got out a notebook and wrote in it.  I'd fill a notebook with the start of a story, when I 'd go back and read what I've put down, I was always displeased and didn't want to start over after all the work I've done.  So I'd ditch the idea for a minute and come back to it later, grazing over the same idea for months, sometimes years, never really getting anything accomplished.

It wasn't until my first semester of college that I was introduced to the idea of an honors project.  Honors projects are one credit hour of one-on-one time with a teacher working on a specified project and the grade goes on your transcript.  I worked with my speech teacher, Frank Sladek, on a story.  A short story.  I can't tell you how the story came to me, but within a matter of weeks, I had 90 plus pages typed and completed.  I was so proud of myself for actually completing a story.  It had a beginning, middle, and end, and it wasn't too shabby a story either.  It's titled Keep It Safe and I recently, after much urging from my family, published the story as an eBook and it's available on Amazon.

Not only was I proud of my first short, but I was inspired.  I'd tasted the sweet victory of completion and I wanted more.  From there, Frank and I worked on my first big project, Evol.  It took me two semesters to complete and turned out to be a monster of a story.  600 plus pages in eBook form, seven parts.  I originally projected a five-part story, but once I started writing, the story took life of it's own and grew.

After sharing the story with a few choice people, my parents, my cousin Danni, and my friends Kara and Alex, I was further inspired to pursue publication of the manuscript.  Trouble was, I'm a small town girl from Iowa with no ties to the publishing world and no clue as to what I was doing.  I googled until my fingers and eyes were sore.  I followed advice of budding authors through their blogs.  I made copies of my manuscript. I invested hours of my time and a small fortune in mailing and shipping costs and the only thing I have to show is a small stack of denial letters and emails.

Discouraged, my dad encouraged me to look into publishing as an eBook.  I guess I was a little snotty and thought my story was too good for something like eBook.  I had dreams of a hard covered novel that I could hold in my hands; one I could open and hear the binding crack.  I was also delusional to think I could so easily have that.  So I took his advice and found a lovely online community, BookRix.

BookRix has been the biggest factor in what little success I have as an amateur author.  I originally posted Evol on the site in parts.  I was approached by a site administrator, Rebecca, who had nothing but wonderful things to say about my story.  From there, she's prepared me and Evol for an upcoming publication date.  She is very passionate about the story and my writing and has been the most amazing person I could have ever met.  Rebecca sacrificed personal time to comb through my manuscript and edit it for me.  She's also created cover art and got my foot in the door with a book blog tour, which is what accounts for the inception of this forum.

So here I am, budding author with a blog of my own.  You're probably wondering what my story is about.  Well let me enlighten you.  Evol is the story of a young British stage performer, Venna, who, unbeknownst to her, has been stalked most of her life.  The story begins with her abduction and chronicles the trials and tribulations she has to endure after being rescued from her kidnapper. When her kidnapper returns to steal her away again, she flees the country and seeks refuge with her estranged half-brother.  It's a thriller with a bit of romance.  I don't recommend Evol for anyone younger than 16 years old, and I still wrestle with myself as to whether or not I should raise that age restriction.  There is inappropriate language in the story (not too much) as well as sexual/rape references that aren't suitable for children.

With the tremendous assistance from Rebecca, I've put the finishing touches on Evol.  We've got one more sweep to do before finally publishing and that should happen with a week.  I'm currently working on another piece that is yet to be titled, but is another thriller, still including the ever-popular element of romance.  With another semester of school starting, however, I'm afraid the story will have to be put on the back burner and may take longer to complete than anticipated.  I'm very excited about this story.  I'm projecting it to be two separate books, but it could be longer especially given my track record.  I don't want to give too much away because the story line could change more than once before I'm finished.  The idea is a story of a younger woman who meets an older man (don't think older like 50+ years; think older like 15 year age gap with the woman being 21 and the man being 36), a very successful man and they eventually fall in love and get married (here's the romantic reference I promised).  The woman discovers the man has been hiding a terrible secret from her.  That's it.  I can't share anymore or I'll give too much away.

With this story, I'm trying out a different formatting technique that I'm excited about.  The story starts in 2006 when the couple meets then, where there would be a chapter break, the story jumps ahead in time to 2013 and starts to give you little hints as to the man's secret and how the woman handles it.  The story jumps back to 2006, then to 2013, and so on, chronicling their first years together up until the revel of the secret, which is where I plan on ending the first book.  Again, these plans are rough, really rough.  Think sand paper rough.  Anything could happen between the first word to the 300th page.

I think I've talked about myself enough for one day, but I'll be back.

Till then, keep on keepin' on.

- Jess

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