My Books!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jessie's Here!

Yippee!  Jessie Andersen did an interview with me!  Oh, you don't know her?  Well, you've come to the right place.  She and I share a publisher Astraea Press, and I can promise you you're going to love her work.  Jessie, thanks for coming.

1.      What do you do when you are not writing?

I attend my children’s various activities, including baseball, cub scouts, guitar lessons, gymnastics, soccer and School of Worship. I attend church, where I sing in the worship band, and I go to Bible Study. Besides that I hang out with my hubby and family, read, read and read some more. Oh, and I like to do crafty things like make jewelry.

2.      When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I guess that depends on what you consider “starting”. I used to write all the time when I was a kid, short stories and such, but I really got serious about writing in 2006. I started At What Cost then. I wrote about 3 chapters and got stuck. So I set it aside and wrote another book before I came back to it. Now, in 2012, it’s been published.

3.      Where do you get your ideas?

I pray. A lot. J Seriously. I’m not joking. I finish one book and say, “Okay, God. If you want me to write anything else, you need to give me a new book.” And so far, he has. J

4.      Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

HA! How much time do you have? First, I wrote about three chapters and got stuck. (Those chapters have since been chopped, along with seven others.) So, I wrote another book. (It will never be seen or published.) Then I finished At What Cost and started sending it to agents. I had some favorable inquiries, but nothing materialized. After over a year of that, I was told by one agent to rework it a bit. So, I did the ‘ol, chop chop, cutting ten chapters and reworking the rest of the book. Then I sent it out again, another year later, I finally landed my agent. I went through a LOT of queries and a TON of rejection. Someday I’ll reveal how many agents I queried, but let’s just say for now it’s an embarrassing amount. Then, of course there are the rejections from publishing houses. It’s a good thing I have thick skin.

5.      Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Most of the experiences of Maggie are someone’s personal experiences. I did several interviews to prepare for this story. I’ll be honest, I’m unqualified to write a story like this. I’ve never had an abortion. But the story was so heavy on my heart that I had to write it. In order to make it real, I had to interview women who had been there. I spoke with several post abortive women, both women who had regrets and those who didn’t. I’ve had a few people tell me that Maggie’s phone conversation with the receptionist seems unrealistic, but that was drawn directly from one of my interviews.  So Maggie’s story is the story of several women put together.

6.      What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Probably that my main characters had no chemistry. Eek. That one hurts, especially when you’ve spent six months trying to write that chemistry. The best compliment was when my agent asked me if I’d be willing to mentor some young writers.  I mean, I know he likes my writing or he wouldn’t have signed me, but for him to say that, I was like, “Wow, he really does like my writing.”

7.      How does your writing process look? Consistent with regular amounts of word counts daily/weekly… or more sporadic with a gush of words all at once and then a dry bed for a while?

I’m definitely more sporadic. I’m working between the baby’s naps, groceries, baseball games, kids activities. I write when I can. If I don’t get a lot done that day, I try not to fret.

8.      Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?

In AT WHAT COST, I had to coax it out of them, but in my newest work, they’re taking me all over the place. I’m just hoping I don’t write my plot into a corner that I can’t get out of.

9.      Why did you feel you had to tell this story?

-HA! This makes me laugh because I feel totally unqualified to tell this story. Here’s the shortened version of my journey: I was teaching middle school and reading what the kids were reading. It was during that time I felt that I could write a story like the ones I was reading, but I didn’t have a topic. I started praying about it and told God to give me a topic. He said abortion. I said, “Um, no.” He said, “Um, yes.” Well, long story, short, I learned not to argue with God. So, here I am. When I started this story, I didn’t even know anyone who had had an abortion. (Well, I thought I didn’t.) But as soon as I started telling people about it, I had many women come up to me and say, “Can I tell you my story?” Bits and pieces of all those stories made it in to At What Cost.

10.   What is best writing advice you can give?

I think the best advice is to write…no matter who tells you you can or can’t. Read everything you can on writing. Test out the styles or advice those books/people give and find what works for you. That’s the key. Not all the advice you get is going to work for you, but you’ll never know if it does or doesn’t unless you give it a try.

Now we have to read an excerpt.  I love this, readers.

Lauren stared at Maggie with wide eyes. “Pregnant? You’re flipping pregnant?” Apparently, the word “flipping” was supposed to convey the substantial amount of shock Lauren had for the bomb Maggie had dropped. It worked. Maggie wished she had such a word to use herself. But she needed something stronger.

“No. I’m late.” Maggie tried to convince herself it was just a fluke. That she was late due to the stress her mother continually heaped on her or the new year of school starting, but the possibility she might be pregnant scared her to death. Still, she tried to keep her head.

Lauren wriggled like a worm on a hook. Being calm was not her forte. “Holy pig snot! That first day of school!” her voice trailed off.


“When you were looking at your calendar and got all weird and sick looking.”

“Yeah, so?”

“That’s when you figured it out, isn’t it?”

The thought sucked Maggie back into that disgusting, dirty bathroom where she counted and recounted the days on her calendar realizing she had skipped her period that month.

“Yeah, but I could just be late,” she said hopefully. “The stress of school starting and all. I’m just late.” More than anything, she wanted this to be true, but the view of the calendar in her mind grated on her stability until it was a flaky pile, blown away with one wisp of breath.

“You trying to convince me or you?”

Maggie shot Lauren a narrow-eyed glare.

“Well, did you and Mr. Justin Davis use… you know,” Lauren asked, tucking her arms across her chest.

She hated when Lauren called him that.


She leaned in and whispered it like a dirty word. “Protection?”

Thinking back, Maggie couldn’t remember. Playing that night over in her head a thousand times made the details a little fuzzy. “Yeah. I think so.”

“You think so, meaning you may not have?”

Maggie leaned back against the bed. She shook her head. “No, I’m sure we did. I made sure.”

“Mags! If you were drunk, how would you know? You were drunk, right? Please tell me you were drunk.”

“Not every time. I’d know, right? I’m sure we did. We had to.” They had used something, hadn’t they? Suddenly the purple butterflies clinging to Lauren’s walls flew at her as the room spun. Maggie choked down the bile rising in her throat and breathed deeply to steady the quivering of her lips.

“Well, if you did, it didn’t work, and if you didn’t, you’re an idiot.” Lauren slapped a hand over her own mouth. “Sorry, I didn’t mean that.”


Jessie said...

Thanks for having me, Elaine! I appreciate you getting this up so fast. You're awesome. :)

Elaine Cantrell said...

No problem. I'm glad to have you.

Tracy Krauss said...

Best of luck Jessie - hope your sales are going well!