Every other week, this blog will interview the authors in the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook Group. (You can join that group here.)
Today, we’re meeting Jessica White! Besides living in Texas and homeschooling her two children, Jessica is also is an important part of the administration of 10 Minute Novelists.
1. Tell us about your book.
In my debut novel Surviving the Stillness, winter comes early in the foothills of western Montana forcing siblings Abigail and Samuel Morgan to seek refuge in a Catholic orphanage. When Abigail’s health fails her life is put in the hands of Dr. Mason and his son and apprentice Matthew. Together they must stop running from the tragedies of their pasts and rely on one another, and God, to find healing for their wounds. Set in the 1920’s, Surviving the Stillness is the first of four books in the Seasons of Healing Series. I hope to have book two out this summer.
2. What is it about writing that compels you?
I’m compelled to write by the power of words. When they are woven together they have the power to build people up or tear them down. We live in a society that has forgotten how powerful words are. We spew them out in tweets and status updates with little regard to how others will receive them. So to find words that change you, is like finding a diamond in a landfill. I don’t think my words have earned that distinction of diamonds yet, but they are still treasures.
3. How do you find time to write around your family’s needs?
I homeschool my two girls so my family ‘needs’ are constant. I am a firm believer in lifelong learning so my kids choose what they want to learn about and I make sure they have the tools and access to knowledge they’ll need to accomplish their projects. The three of us are often working and learning side-by-side. Whether it is a trip to the library for research and leisure reading materials or spending time online searching the internet for tutorials, the skills I need to be a successful writer are the same skills they need to be successful at what they want to achieve. Apart from that I try to make the most of my time. I work out ideas while I cook, clean, drive. I’m learning to sit the work aside when my kids or husband need that face time, knowing it will always be there and they may not.
4. If you could be favorably compared to any author, who would it be?
Confession time, I didn’t realize there was a genre called Christian Fiction until two years ago so I’ve been devouring as many of my contemporaries as I can in my reading time. Many of my favorite authors are classics like Steinbeck, Bronte, and Stevenson. I love them each for different reasons. I’d love to paint word pictures like John Steinbeck, have strong characters like Charlotte Bronte, and take my reader on amazing adventures like Robert Louis Stevenson.
Of my contemporaries, I would hope I’d be compared to Lori Benton or Jody Hedlund. They both have a gift for capturing history in ways you feel you understand the time period better without an intentional history lesson. Also they create complex yet lovable characters, who struggle to be who God has called them to be.
5. How has the group 10 Minute Novelists helped you in your writing journey?
I honestly don’t remember how I came across this group, but I know it was God directed. It came at a point where learning on my own was starting to plateau. It was one of those moments when you don’t realize you need something until you find it. 10 Minute Novelists has given me stepping stones to cross the first river into self-publication. This group has helped me find fellow writers to critique my work, shared advice on how to build an author platform, helped me learn resources like Canva and Scrivener, and encouraged me through those final days of editing before I hit the publish button. I love watching those who are further along tackle the steps I’ll soon be tackling, learning from their experience and struggles. I also love that there are people I can encourage having published my first book to take that leap of faith into the publishing world.
6. What has been the most rewarding part of your publishing journey?
This year has superseded my expectations. I thought I’d self-publish a few dozen copies and give them to my friends and family who have patiently listened to me talk about my beloved imaginary friends for years. Out of all of it, I think it has been the friends I’ve made. I have found some amazingly, talented people who are willing to put in the effort to not only write a book but become an author, with all that it entails. The encouragement and support makes the days of trudging through edits or having to learn to use Twitter effectively easier to endure, sometimes even enjoyable.
7. What do you have planned for 2015?
2015 is shaping up to be the year I leap into the publishing world. I have so much I want to learn about writing, publishing, and marketing. I hope to have book two out this summer. I also plan to publish a companion novella about the difficulties of becoming a doctor, when one is a woman born Lakota and raised in the Midwest by a Polish Catholic family, at the turn of the 20th century. Also I’m challenging myself and eighty other writers to develop the habit of daily writing and improving our craft by writing 1000/day for the whole year. In September I’ll attend my first ACFW Conference, so I can get a feel for my contemporaries and the publishing houses that I hope one day to be with.
8. What advice would you give to writers who think they don’t have the skills nor the time to pursue their dreams?
No one has the skills to be a published writer when they first begin. Like any other art form, it is developed over time by consistent studying and practice. The true question is, do you want to learn to be a writer? If you are passionate about writing, then nothing is going to keep you from becoming a writer except yourself. I think of those artists who paint with their feet because they have no arms or my friend Sherry who wrote her first stories at the bedside of her daughter in the hospital. We can make excuses or we can pour our hearts out on the page and then craft them into something worthy of someone else’s time. Each of us has to decide how much of our lives we will invest. We can use the small, daily increments of time in between the craziness of life or we can shape our lives around our passion and tackle it like a career. There isn’t much difference, except one path takes a little longer. So why not go after our dreams?