Friday, July 24, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Jessica Keller





Today we welcome author:
Jessica Keller

One commenter will win a copy of
Jessica's new release: 
The Single Dad Next Door





Mary here. Not even two years have passed since Jessica leaped into the exciting world of author of published novels. I am so amazed. I went to her Amazon page and saw seven different titles representing more than one genre. She is amazing. Even when asked to send me the information from this post, she was trying to meet a deadline...yet when you read below you'll see she took time to write an inspiring and well crafted post for us. Amazing! I asked Jessica to share how God has led her on her writing journey You're gonna love reading her God story. Here is what she said:



When Honesty Inspires



Remember that scene in Anne of Green Gables when Gilbert gives Anne his honest opinion about her story?

“Well, if you want my opinion, Miss Shirley, I'd write about places I knew something of and people that spoke everyday English instead of these silly schoolgirl romances.”

Anne answers Gil by promptly decking him with her basket. We laugh because she’s so stubborn, but mostly because we feel like doing the same thing when receive harsh feedback about our own writing. In the end Anne follows Gil’s advice and sells her manuscript
My personal writing journey isn’t very different.

Four years ago, I walked into my first writer’s conference. By an hour into day one, I was terrified. People were handing out their business cards and showing each other one-sheets. I didn’t have either. I’d never heard of an elevator pitch. Trembling, 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.”

Ouch!

I thanked her and scuttled away to lick my wounds. There were more classes to attend that day and needed to put my brave-face on, but tears were spilled later. Then doubts crept in.

I’ll never be a real author. Stupid pipedream.

I allowed myself one crummy night. Then I marched back into classes for the rest of conference and soaked up every bit of information I could.

See, I had two options. I could allow that agent’s feedback to kill my dream, or I could use that feedback as a challenge. But I knew that God had called me to writing, so I chose the latter.

After I came back home I stuck the old manuscript in a drawer. Then I pulled out four recently published CBA books that I considered well written. I gave myself one month to read them all, mapping out their plots as I went. When did hero and heroine meet? During which chapter was the big problem introduced? When did subplots start popping in? How often did the author toss us for a loop or throw out red herrings? What sparked tension? What made me cheer for the characters? I took what I’d learned and mapped out a whole new story. I gave myself five weeks to write and polish it.

Then came the scary moment … I took a leap of faith and entered the new manuscript into contests. Not with the aim to win. No, after that agent’s feedback I didn’t consider that even remotely realistic. I entered to receive professional feedback. I mean, critiques from friends and fellow unpublished writers are great—but only the professional will know if it’ll sell in the industry. I didn’t want to waste any more time in my journey pouring over another manuscript that wasn’t right, so I gritted my teeth and pressed send.

Know what? Learning from criticism paid off.

I won first in every contest I entered. I received requests for the full manuscript from every editor who judged my submission (and sold to one of them). Within that month, I sent queries to agents. I had offers of representation from all three agents I sent proposals to and at the ACFW Conference I received requests from every editor I pitched 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 became my debut novel, Home for Good.


I ended up writing a thank you letter to the agent who gave me the challenging feedback. I thanked her for being honest during our meeting. I’ve gone back over that first manuscript and now—with better trained eyes—I can see she was 100% right. If she had done the easy thing—tell me to send her a proposal and then sent the rejection later—I wouldn’t be as far in my journey as I am today. Her tough words spurred me on and forced me to grow. I’ll be forever grateful for her very firm push. God used her in my life and continues to use hard feedback to shape my writing journey for the good.

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Jessica Keller is a multi-published author of Inspirational Romance and Young Adult Fiction (writing as Jess Evander) and has more than 100+ magazine and newspaper articles to her name. She holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. Making her home in the Midwest, Jessica believes there’s never a wrong time to eat cake.

You can connect with Jessica at the following places:

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CLICK HERE to buy or see
The Single Dad Next Door
The Single Dad Next Door

Love Comes Home 


All Maggie West has ever wanted is a family to call her own. But her new neighbor, single dad Kellen Ashby, is definitely not the man to make that dream come true. His daughters are sweet and silly, the kind of kids Maggie used to imagine having herself. But Kellen has just inherited the inn Maggie manages—her former family home—and the two butt heads at almost every turn. He's handsome, and clearly a devoted father, but with all the changes taking place, Maggie worries she may soon be jobless, homeless or both. At war with her emotions, Maggie will have to decide what truly matters—heart or home.

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Enter the contest to win a copy of 
Jessica's new release:
The Single Dad Next Door:
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this blog
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Sorry, US only

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Jessica, for joining us this weekend!

We love chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!


Don't forget to comment!

20 comments:

  1. These words were exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for sharing, Jessica. Mary, thank you for faithfully blogging. You both have truly blessed me.

    Cynthia (Cindy) Quiroga

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    Replies
    1. Happy summer morning to you Cindy. My you were up with the dawn patrol!
      I'm so glad you came today--and so happy Jessica's words touched your heart. I love chatting with you!

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    2. I'm so glad they came at the right time for you! God has a way of doing that ;)

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  2. I am glad you didn't give up. This sounds like a great book.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

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    Replies
    1. I agree, Susan. If you get a chance to check out her other books on amazon, I think you'll be pleased with her books. She has quite a writing career starting, don't you think?
      So good to see you today!

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    2. Me too, Susan! And it would have been so easy and understandable to give up then. But look at all I would have missed. Blessings!

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  3. Congratulations on your new release! Looking forward to reading it!
    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heidi!
      I haven't seen you in a bit. I'm so glad you stopped by today to chat with Jessica and me. Hope you're enjoying the summer.

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    2. Thanks Heidi! Releases never get old. Thanks for stopping by today.

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  4. What a great learning experience. Thanks for sharing, and I'm glad you didn't let it discourage you too much, because it sounds like your book is wonderful. Thanks to you both for the giveaway. whthomas13 (at) yahoo dot com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey there Winnie!
      Welcome. So glad you joined us today.
      I agree, Jessica's story is quite the learning experience, one God really drove from start to finish. What a blessing to have her with us today, eh?
      Looking forward to chatting with you again.

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    2. Thanks Winnie. The thing is, once a book comes out an author only faces more criticism than before they were published. Getting discouraged is a part of this journey, but as long as we don't camp there indefinitely, we're doing all right.

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  5. Hi Mary & Jessica!! Thank you so much for sharing, I really needed this reminder tonight!! Your new book sounds amazing, I can't wait to read it!! alander87 at allcom dot net

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    Replies
    1. Hey Abby!
      So glad you could make it to our chat today and see Jessica's post. What is so encouraging to me is when these posts meet one of the reader's needs. Loved chatting with you today!

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    2. Thanks Abby! Glad the journey-sharing came at the right time for you ;) Be well!

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  6. Another good interview
    redeemed at Comcast dot com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ann.
      Short, yet a very meaningful comment. You must be on the run, which makes me feel extra honored to have you chat with us.
      Blessings!! See yah next time.

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    2. Love your email address Ann!

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  7. This was a great read. I loved hearing about the methodical study of other's work. What a huge payoff from that effort.
    Please enter my name in the contest if I am not too late.
    Blessings, Janice♡

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    Replies
    1. Good morning, Janice! I still have some fresh brewed ice tea on this hot day...so you're good. :)

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Thank you for commenting! Your thoughts mean so much.