Guest Author Interview: Jessa Slade …by Susan Lute

Jessa Slade, author of the acclaimed Marked Souls is a powerhouse writer we Janes are estatic to have visiting. When she reads this introduction, she’s going to shake her head, and blush a little – my goal, because she doesn’t know what a good story-teller she is. I’m a fan-girl, I admit it. From her very first book, Seduced By Shadows, I waited with bated breath for the next Marked Soul to hit the bookshelves. You can find Jessa online at her website, on Facebook, hanging out at Twitter, on Goodreads, and Pinterest. You can also sign up for monthly giveaways at her newsletter.

Jessa, thanks for joining us!

Tell us about your publishing journey.

Thanks, Janes, for letting me post with you today. I’m a poster child for Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory. Sadly, it’s a warning poster, not a motivational one. I wrote for about ten years, through a hundred rejections and nearly a million final draft words. I don’t really recommend this method.

After writing one or more manuscripts in every sub-genre of romance and accruing the aforementioned rejections, in 2007, I won the Rose City Romance Writers’ Golden Rose contest. I sold that winning manuscript to the final-round judge. SEDUCED BY SHADOWS was published with NAL Signet Eclipse in 2009, and I have three more books in the Marked Souls urban fantasy romance series. Earlier this year, I self published a science fiction romance novella in an anthology with a couple friends so we could be rich and famous. Bwa-ha!

Here are a few important lessons I’ve learned so far.

1. Nobody cares as much about your writing as you do. You will have teammates and supporters — these are vital resources, no doubt — but in the end, it is YOUR story, YOUR name and YOUR career at stake. The decisions and sacrifices you make (and any rules or expectations you choose to break) should be informed by this awareness.

2. There is no “right” way. There is what WORKS for you and what doesn’t. From what I’ve experienced, every question about writing and publishing can be answered thusly: “It depends.” I’ve seen top-tier agents be the completely wrong agent for a given writer. I’ve heard NYT-bestselling authors argue the merits of ads on Facebook versus Goodreads with exact opposite results. And the industry is more unsettled now than ever before. You make the best choices you can with the most complete information you find, and hope you get farther along the path before the path changes again.

3. Faster and gooder. Lots of people will say you have to write the best book you can. And this is very true. But they forget to tell you, you also have to write it fast. A long-term successful genre fiction writing career is about MORE. We can rail against this harsh truth, but that would make us lit-ficky and we wouldn’t want that. So, faster and gooder. (Notice that I didn’t say these were lessons I’d mastered!)

What’s the funniest thing to happen to you along your road to publication and what was the most exciting?

I’ve found most of the funny parts of publishing are hysterical laughter, the kind of funny you can quiet only with heavy meds. The most exciting part was definitely The Call. Being able to finally say I’d sold a book was a thrill and a sweet, sweet revenge… I mean, validation.

What has been the most challenging thing related to publishing you’ve had to deal with on your journey?

For me, the most challenging aspect of being published is STAYING published. Publishing is an endless loop of writing fresh material, editing for improvement, getting the story out there, spreading the words, writing fresh material, and so on. More challenging yet, the loops aren’t sequential but simultaneous. All the balls are always in the air; all the plates are always spinning; the clown car is never (hopefully) empty. Cue slightly sinister circus music.

I think the key to maintaining the schedule is:

1. MAKE a schedule. You can stay a pantser/organic writer if you must, but being an organized business person makes the writing life less psycho. Chart your deadlines (externally or self imposed) and back out the mini-steps that will get you where you need to go on time.

2. Know what you can do…and what you can’t. The plus of taking so many years to sell is that I knew I could produce material on demand. Know your own strengths and weakness as a writer and a human being. Also, find ways to push yourself so you are always getting better.

3. Enjoy a bit of crazy. I don’t think you can entirely eliminate the madness (probably because a touch of madness is what makes us writers) so make peace with it and find a way to use any inevitable chaos as an energy source.

Who is your favorite author, and what are you currently reading?

Asking a writer to choose her favorite author is like asking a chocoholic to choose between Vosges and Sahagun. I’ll just take them all, thank you 🙂 I have a lot of authors whose stories I love. Just to list a few of the stories I’ve enjoyed lately: in paranormal, Nalini Singh; in historical, Grace Burrowes; in contemporary, Marie Force; and in non-romance, Chuck Wendig.

What’s coming up next for you?

This summer, I will complete my trifecta of traditional, self and e publishing when my first e-imprint book comes out with Harlequin Nocturne Cravings in August. I believe that these days, being well-published means being widely published. I’m also working on my next self-pubbed science fiction romance and a new series aimed at New York. It has been fun (though a lot of work) doing a little bit of everything.


Words of wisdom to write by. Thanks, Jessa.


About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on June 5, 2012, in Auth: Special Guest and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Love your Marked souls series, too! Also love that you took ten years to sell (forgive me!) Why? Your success inspires me to keep at it. The fact that it took a writer as wonderful as you ten years to sell reinforces my belief that perseverance is key.

    Great Interview questions, Su! Thanks for sharing, Jessa. 🙂


  2. Jessa, all great advice in your wonderful humor!


  3. Jessa, as always you simultaneously exhaust me with your energy and make me laugh while crying over your truths. Your lessons are right on, particularly the one that NO ONE cares as much about my writing as I do. That’s a hard one to learn but sooooooooo important.

    I love your marked souls series. As I’ve told others, I picked up the first one only because I knew you personally and wanted to support you. I fully intended to hate the book because it was another angel/demon thing and I was already tired of them. Instead I absolutely fell in love with the world, your characters, and the themes. With each subsequent book I pre-ordered the minute it came up on B&N because I HAD to have it immediately.

    Now you are on my auto buy list. SO, about that write faster lesson–yup. I want your next series NOW! 🙂


  4. August, writer-friends are the best! There’s always more to them than you see on the surface. Of course, those simmering depths are why we need the meds, Nancy CB 🙂


  5. Great tips! It can feel a bit lonely when others around us have little to no interest in our writing. Thankfully we have writing/reading friends to connect with. Even then, it’s important to know that our own work generally is tip-top priority for us alone.


  6. Jessa- Step away from the heavy meds. We know what they are and what they mean to us. Good interview. Thanks for joining us.


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