Jessica Marie Baumgartner is a lively, spirited author with a wide range of interests: children’s stories, an erotic paranormal romance, and a space opera series (“Clearly, there is no one genre for me.” – Jessica). She has several works out and recently inked a 2-year deal for the release of her erotic paranormal romance novel – the one she put in her “duds” folder after a couple of rejections.
Now it will be her “first actual published novel.”
She has definitely turned the corner and I feel she is on the brink of breaking out, so I wanted to chat with her while she’s still taking my emails.
Sit back and follow along as we discuss some of the ups and downs of her journey.
DAN: Which is the more important of the two: Write drunk or edit sober?
JESSICA: Well I almost never edit sober now, maybe that’s why I don’t hate editing like most writers. But I don’t always write drunk (although my best stuff does tend to flow with inebriation). Why pick one or the other, you can always do what I do and randomly mix it up.
I like the way you think! So, which living author/blogger would you buy drinks for? And, yes, you can pick me…
I would love to say Neil Gaiman or Charles De Lint since they’re writing is so amazing, but I fear I wouldn’t be worthy. Same goes for my fav author Richard Smyth, although he is lesser known, I know I could muster up the courage to at least introduce myself to Gaiman or De Lindt but I’d probably pee my pants if I actually got the chance to meet Smyth face to face. (It’s okay, he knows so I’m sure he’ll steer clear of me for as long as he can). I think it would be best to say that I would love to buy Ryan Lanz a drink. He’s a good writer and his blog has helped numerous writers including myself.
How did he (Smyth) come to know this, I wonder…
Haha we have talked online some
What’s the best part of being an indie author for you?
This question makes me all warm and happy inside. I never really set out to get my works published, it just kinda started and snowballed from there, so I am grateful to be a part of the indie scene because it offers me more control of my work while also not having to go it alone. A lot of writers fear commercial publishing because large companies often change their work. And some input is necessary, but with my current publisher (European Geeks) I feel that I have enough freedom to be an artist while also having the support I need to reach readers.
(European Geeks! Is that their name or your nickname for them???)
No, that’s the company’s actual name haha.
Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?
I’m a huge bookworm, but I need adventure. Hiking, swimming, climbing, shooting, playing sports, really I’m up for anything exciting. Especially if it gets me away from society and playing in nature. When I’m working, I get kinda boxed in and it makes me a little crazy. So in between projects I have to get out and go a bit wild. I still have a lot of thrills left on my list, need to finally sky dive and get a white water rafting trip together.
Why do some authors sell well and others don’t?
Oh this is a hell of a question. Haha I think there’s a lot that goes into this. Some of it is author involvement. Authors have to do events, get out and meet readers, and they need to improve their skills. It’s WORK. Real work if you’re truly dedicated. But, on the flip side, an author can do all of those things and not reach their full potential due to timing, industry shifts, trends, the placement of the stars, you name it. The uncertainty can crush an author, but some of us embrace it and take the punches.
Do you do a lot of events? Most authors don’t see the connection between meeting fans at events and selling books because it doesn’t usually happen at the same time.
How did you choose the genre you write in, or did it choose you?
This is fun for me, because writing definitely stalked me and decided my fate itself. I am one of those writers who has a children’s book (My Family Is Different), an erotic paranormal romance (Tale of two Bookends), and a space opera series (Embracing Entropy). Clearly, there is no one genre for me. I write what strike me. Horror is actually my first love. I’ve also written, lit, modern, fantasy, non-fiction, the list continues to grow.
That’s awesome, that you have such range and are now getting some of the recognition you deserve. Now to the important stuff: can you wash light and dark clothes together? Have you ever turned clothes pink in the washer?
I have been known to mix and create my own colors in the past. Luckily most dyes don’t bleed anymore. If they did I’d be in trouble. I may be at home with the kids while I’m working, but I do laundry every day and my technique is to shove it all in together and left the washer do its thing. Heehee
What “person” do you prefer to write in? (First-third) Why?
This is a good one for me. I prefer first person because I read to connect with the characters. If I love them, everything else is just gravy. But, I am learning how important third person is. With third person, world building is much easier. Tale of two Bookends was in third and it was a lot of fun to write. The Embracing Entropy Series is all first person and extremely draining. I love both stories. They’re like children. You love them in different ways.
I feel like I can build tension much easier in first, but I am completely jealous of authors who can write in other POVs. Tell me about editors. What has your experience with editors been?
The Gods have been kind to me when it comes to editors. My children’s book was published with only one alteration and that was to cut down one lengthy line. I worked with Lee Ann Salter on Tale of Two Bookends and learned so much from her that I wasn’t upset at the changes we agreed on. I had to come to terms with certain expectations, but that was a great experience. Working with Elisha Neubauer on my novella series has been a breeze. My confidence is based on my ability to soak up techniques like a sponge. The more I learn from editors and edit work for others myself, the more I can utilize my skills to grow as an author.
A good editor is like a partner and friend, they say, and I love my editors but I hate the editing process. What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or a story for you? And what is the least fun?
Black spiced rum. Haha When I write, kraken is a great friend. I suffer from rapid thought. We tried to clock it once, I come in at about 68 thoughts a minute. That may sound odd, but my brain just works on overdrive, all the time. Writing keeps me sane. Unlike a lot of classic drunkard writers who are just bitter at life, I enjoy the slowdown of a good drink and story shaping takes my mind off of the surge of information that constantly plagues my dyslexic brain. (Maybe if they finally legalize weed that will help too teehee IDK)
The least fun part is the self-doubt. If you’re really a writer, you don’t just write for yourself. And the fear of alcoholism is always looming overhead. It’s been in my family for ages and I don’t ever wish to fall prey to becoming a victim to vices.
So congratulations on your new deal! 2 years and your “first actual published novel.” What was your road to publication like?
I’ve always written. But I never imagined I could be an actual writer. It never seemed like a viable option. (It still doesn’t sometimes ha ha) I started writing some Pagan pieces, because I am and I’ve found a lot of people on the same path asking me for advice. So I started writing little essays and articles for The Witches Voice and then ended up with a column for a while. (Nothing huge, just an examiner page) After I finally got my college degree (Just an AA-I haven’t gone as far as I want) this strange idea struck me and I had to write it down real fast. It turned out to be a children’s book about religious diversity and acceptance. Something to bring us all together. I never like preachy stuff, so this is more of a light hearted “we’re all similar in our differences” story. And from there I just kept writing and found my way through submitting. My first publisher was teeny tiny, basically a step up from self-publishing. I’m now with a small press, and who knows where this will take me.
What’s an “Examiner” page? I’m not sure. Feel free to name names and brag about them if you want. Readers will want to query them.
The Examiner is a local publication but they don’t pay much and break things up locally so they were never considered very prestigious.
Now that you are on the brink of runaway success (we hope), what advice can you give new authors?
This is always my favorite question because I honestly feel like I know jack shit about writing. I am no expert, I will never be the greatest. But somehow my work is getting published. So you know what I have two important little sunshine happy doo dahs to pass on to anyone who wants them. The main one being, fuck it. You will find tips everywhere. Online, books, at conferences and workshops. People go on and on about writing. And it is important to listen. But when it comes to sitting down and writing your work, fuck it. Do what YOU want. Do what works for YOU. Fuck all of the outside static. And now to contradict myself, like most writers do when they offer advice, I also want to say connect with as many writers and readers as you can. You will learn more from them than any class or seminar. And not just click like and share, really connect, become friends, help them out, they’ll do the same for you.
That is an awesome sentiment. Both of them, actually, but connecting with authors and readers is huge. Maybe we should expand on your “fuck it” road to publication sometime.
Where in the process do you create the story’s title? Do you start with it? Do you know it before you begin? Before you end? Elsewhere?
Aww, hell. I still suck at this. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have an awesome title come to me to inspire a story. But most of the time I struggle to name my tales. I have one of the best title makers in my life and he always makes fun of how bad my original titles are, because I get so frustrated trying to name a piece that I’ll just give up and slap anything on it. You can’t do that. Thankfully the Gods have gifted me someone who can help remedy this. (Hopefully)
Oh, that’s hilarious. You have to give a few examples.
Oh no do I have to? Haha Umm “The Deep Freeze” was probably the worst. Yuck, I can’t bear to say anymore.
Okay, since you’re being a good sport, we’ll let it go at that. Do you have author friends? (In person or online who you confide in and share stories with. Feel free to name names)
What kind of a question is this? Heehee Of course I do. I feel it’s vital for all writers to have author friends. We need support and constructive criticism. Not only do I have a small select few writers who I truly trust, but I have a writing Yoda. Mark Pearson, best-selling author of the Jack Delany series, has become a trusted friend. He’s really helped me to see past all the bullshit in the industry and just write. I used to get flustered with all the rules and word count values and he really pulled me back from all that nonsense. (Thanks for lending his brain to me every once in a while Lynn)
Dude, introduce me for doing this sweet interview!
I’ll see what I can do. He’s on twitter and facebook. We just got to talking on social media and went from there.
Done deal. What’s your fav quote from anyone besides you? And you?
My writing Yoda once told me, “Writing stories is like building castles with pebbles.” Or something like that. I used that a lot when I get discouraged.
And a quote from me. Man, that’s rough. I’m not one of those people who like to run around quoting themselves. I did have a few people quote me online and I guess the best one was probably, “Our tales are our own. We share them in the hopes that they will touch someone. But if they don’t that shouldn’t take away from the experience.”
That’s pretty good! I may have to steal it.
Thanks for a fun interview. Be sure to keep us posted on how the new deal goes!