And it’s a guest! She’s author of the month on GR Smashwords Authors, so go check her thread for more… in the meantime, ladies and gentlemen please welcome Jessica West!
Where do you live and write from?
I live in Louisiana, but I write from my imaginary “man-cave”. I work in a corner of the den, away from the busier areas of my home and facing the wall. It’s easier to avoid distractions that way.
Sometimes I write because a story (or more accurately a character) has my attention and won’t let go. Sometimes I write to get some negative feelings off my chest. And sometimes I just need to work out some issue or other I don’t quite understand. In doing the latter, I’m able to better understand issues that elicit strong responses within me, and why they do. I share those things so that others can see one more perspective.
When did you start writing?
I started writing in April 2013 when I enrolled in a Beginning Writers’ Workshop.
What genre(s) do you write?
My favorite genres are Fantasy and Horror, but I dabble in many others. I return to Romance and Erotica occasionally.
What does your writing routine consist of?
Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. I’m actually getting better about that, though. I’m down to two cups in the morning and one in the afternoon. I do my best writing in the morning, so I try to put off everything until I’ve gotten a scene or two down. On a good day, I can write around 2k words or more.
I think empathy is one of my strengths as a writer. I’ve always tried to put myself in the shoes of others so I can better understand them and get along. I think this is beneficial to my writing because it helps me keep an open mind, to really delve into the mind of a character and know why they are the way they are. And that’s essential to writing, in my opinion.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes daily conversations turn into long-form blog posts. Those are the best kind, I think. The ideas that grow and take shape naturally. I don’t put myself in my stories, but it’s nearly impossible to keep all of myself out of them. I can’t help but sneak in there somewhere. Even if I don’t see when I’ve done it, I know I’ve done it.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
I do a little bit of both, actually. I like design documents, those that won’t ever see the light of day but help you better understand and remember what you’re writing. I write quickly when it’s “ON”. But when I’m forcing myself to write, I start out painfully slow. If I push through, though, I usually pick up the pace after about 30 minutes or so.
I have a book coming soon (February 19, 2015) called A Strange Alliance. It’s a sequel to my first weird western novelette, Red River Rangers. Alliance wasn’t planned until after Rangers was released. My mom called me one day to tell me my grandmother had overheard some women in a doctor’s office talking about it. Apparently they liked it. And you know how encouraging that is for a writer. To think a complete stranger has read and liked my book enough to talk about it gave me a boost, so, in a way, I wrote it for them.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
If traditional publishing hadn’t evolved to what it is today, I’d say indie all the way. I’ve been going it alone so far, but I have something lined up with a publisher. I can’t talk about that yet, though. 😉 But as it pertains to this question, I’d say it all comes down to the terms of each publishing company’s contract. One of the big things that is a deal breaker for me is the stipulation that you may have to refund a portion of your advance if your book doesn’t sell as well as they thought it would. I’m not a bank, and my book is not a savings account for a publishing company. I don’t agree with that practice at all. It’s things like that that make me wary of big publishing companies. You just have to read the fine print and make sure you understand and agree to all the terms. Indie publishing is great, but there’s a huge blind spot when publishing your own work. You won’t necessarily see your own mistakes. But readers will. Indie works if you find a group with whom you can trade editing/formatting/beta reading services, or if you can afford to hire a professional. Same with the cover, although some indies, like S.A. Hunt, have that well in hand and can make their own professional covers.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Oh my god, yes! I’m co-writing a series, but I can’t officially announce that yet. I have plans to contribute to two anthologies, though I can’t officially announce that yet, either. I’m planning a third weird western, but I need to get those other two things under way first. I’m also planning a Fantasy story, but I’m not sure yet if it will be a series or a novel. I have multiple povs and I’m still working on getting skilled enough to pull it off. Not quite there, yet, though. I have narrowed it down to four or five main characters instead of nine. That’s progress, right? 😉
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
I have small, short-term goals. Not really thinking to much about the end game. This is just something I want to do for as long as I can keep doing it.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t measure your success by someone else’s yard stick, by Drew Chial. Definitely something I continually remind myself, and repeatedly recommend to others.
Thanks for having me at your blog, today. I’ll see you back at Goodreads!
Jessica West is a Freelance Writer and Editor, an Independent Author, and Editor-in-Chief at Prose Before Ho Hos, an irreverent humor blog. She maintains a writing blog and her personal site as well. Jess lives in Central Louisiana with three daughters still young enough to think she’s cool and a husband who knows better but likes her anyway. She leaves a trail of blood or pixie dust in her wake, but such is the life of a Horror and Fantasy Writer. Though she prefers those genres, Romance and Erotica are her guilty pleasures. Many authors – including Stephen King, Clive Barker, Terry Goodkind, and Ayn Rand – have contributed to the delinquency of this intermediate writer, and now she’s just whistling her own version of Dixie. Amazon’s Jessica West Author Page Jessica West at Twitter (@West1Jess) Jess’ Website: west1jess.com Contact: jpwest6 at gmail dot com