Today we continue celebrating with Jessica Errico on the release of her memoir,
(Click this link for Part One of our Q & A with Jessica.)
How long have you been writing? What kinds of training did you receive?
Writing has always been in my DNA. Since elementary school, I have dabbled in writing stories, mostly drawing from personal experience. In sixth grade, when I desperately wanted my ears pierced and was waiting on my parents’ permission, I wrote an essay about a caterpillar that wanted the same.
Later, in college, I concentrated on art and psychology. It wasn’t until I was a mother of two young children that I got serious about studying the craft of writing. It seemed the perfect creative outlet for me while the kids were napping, and my “creative juices” didn’t involve making a mess!
Have you attended writers’ conferences? Do you belong to a critique group? If so, what do you find most helpful about them?
Back in the mid-eighties, my husband encouraged me to invest in my writing. I was invited to join a Christian critique group on Bainbridge Island, Washington, that provided accountability for me. What a privilege to share my writing with other sisters in Christ! Due to my association with Elaine Colvin and Kay Stewart, I learned of opportunities to submit my writing and had a couple of devotionals published.
During those years, I attended writers’ conferences in Warm Beach, Washington, and even traveled to California to attend one at Biola University. Those were enjoyable, intense events, where I assimilated lots of information and attended workshops to learn about writing as a craft.
Tell us about your published devotionals.
I was fortunate to have wonderful contacts in the local writing community. For example, I learned that Mary Beckwith was compiling an anthology of devotionals geared to women contracted by Regal Books. I submitted devotionals that were published in the first and second anthologies: Still Moments and Songs from the Heart. My humble writings were printed alongside others by Shirley Dobson, Edith Schaeffer, and Gloria Gaither. I was thrilled! Payment was in the form of free books and a sense of accomplishment. These may be out of print, but they are on my bookshelf!
Jessica, you’ll be glad to know I found both devotionals for sale through Amazon. For our friends here at SM 101, I’ve included titles and links for both:
Do you have a writing routine?
Now that my book is finished, I don’t have a fixed routine. Yet, while writing my memoir, it took precedence along with my commitment to Bible Study Fellowship. I forced myself to invest several hours a day typing at the computer.
What were the hardest parts of getting your memoir to publication? Did you ever want to give up? If so, what kept you going?
The sheer discipline of writing it was the most difficult part for me. Yes, there were times I wanted to give up, months when I didn’t write a word. But I knew God had called me to write my story, and I always came back to it. Plugging away at one chapter at a time helped me not to be discouraged by the enormity of the project. And I think it’s essential to have a couple of encouragers who will pray for you along the way.
I also struggled with how to format my story—whether to break it into sections for readability—and what kind of theme would pull it together for the reader. These were big unknowns and I really wrestled with them. I committed to listening for God to show me how to do it. He used unsolicited comments, the books of others, and even a movie to give me little nudges.
Then I had to decide whether to pursue the traditional publishing route, or to self-publish. After much hand wringing, I opted to assume the financial risk of self-publishing in order to get my message out more quickly.
If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently about writing and/or publishing your memoir?
Not to beat myself up for being inconsistent with a writing schedule.
What hope can you offer memoirists struggling to finish their stories?
Don’t give up! If you need some encouragement to stick with it, share a section with a trusted friend, or another committed memoirist. Sometimes it just takes a quick pat on the back, or nod of approval, to keep going. Remember, our stories can bring glory to God and hope to others.
Tell our SM 101 group about specific activities you’re doing to market/publicize your book. What advice can you give to those who have not yet published?
The fun has just begun! I need to remind myself, as well as your readers, that we can meet the challenges of marketing with an upbeat attitude, perseverance, and grace. I’m currently sending off samples to chain bookstores in hopes they’ll carry it in their inventories, and I’m looking forward to scheduling author book signings as well. It was a surprise to hear of so many folks purchasing my book in an E-book format!
Would you like to write another book?
I’m thinking about writing another memoir about how, in answer to my neediness, God gave me the sweet unconditional love of my husband.
How can we buy The Mother Gap: A Daughter’s Search for Connection?
The softcover is available through me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for $15 (which includes shipping), and you can use Paypal; or on Amazon. Kindle and Nook versions are also available.
Thanks, Jessica, for your interview, and again, congratulations on publishing your memoir. Flannery O’Connor said, “When the book leaves your hands, it belongs to God,” and I know you’re eager to see all He will do to hearten and heal others through your story. Bless you for the hard work you put into it.
Bionic and bilingual, author Jessica Errico is passionate about people, art and writing. Her travels throughout the United States, Europe, and parts of Mexico, have given her a rich appreciation for natural beauty, cultural traditions, and spiritual heritage. Educated at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA., she has worn many hats: art gallery manager, full-time mom, newspaper columnist, worship leader, and director of a pregnancy care center, to name a few. Her favorite titles are: wife, mother and grandmother!
When not preparing for her Bible Study class, Jessica loves to read, write, scrapbook and spend time with friends. An avid Qwirkle player, she enjoys sweet fellowship with those who also cherish the Lord!
Be sure to check out Jessica’s blog, Mother Daughter Tango.