Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome Jessica Scott - author soldier!

First, thanks so much to Cindy Gerard, not only for inviting me to guest here at Riding with the Top Down, but also for the amazing support she showed me while I was deployed to Iraq. When I sent up a shout out for help on school supplies, she was right here, leading the charge. Not only that, but she was also gracious with her time to answer questions and offer support in this brutal business called writing. So my hat’s off to her.

When she initially asked me to blog, I wasn’t sure what to write about that I hadn’t already covered during my year in Iraq. I blogged pretty regularly from my home blog www.jessicascott.net/blog but also spent a lot of time on other industry blogs. I noticed, however, that there was not a place for military romance readers to gather, nor was there a single spot for military romance writers to gather. I’m a member of the RomVets, a group of women writers who are all military veterans but our Yahoo Group is private. I wanted to create a public forum where military romance fans could gather and talk to their favorite authors. So, after sending out feelers to some of my favorite military romance authors to see if they’d be interested in posting on a military romance forum, I linked up with Dreamforge Media by recommendation from Stephanie Tyler and Croco Designs to come up with the design for Romance Roll Call (http://romancerollcall.com).

Cindy has joined us over there a few times already and has dates for the future. We’ve also had Catherine Mann as a regular and Stephanie Tyler is on board as well. The forum is for all aspects of military romance, from book spotlights, to writing craft to simply military life. We’re a growing community, so please stop by to check us out. Also, if you know of someone who’s written about military characters, regardless of the time period, send them our way. We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers!

And yeah, all this took place while I was in Iraq. I’m an active duty army officer whose coming up on her 15 year anniversary in service. I spent all of 2009 in Mosul, Iraq with the First Cavalry Division. People wondered how I could write during all that. In truth, there are twenty four hours in a day and when all you have to do is pull shift and go to chow, filling that twenty four hours can be challenging. So I wrote. And wrote and wrote. I’d landed an agent while I was there, which was a pretty heady feeling, but alas, that relationship wasn’t meant to be, so I’m back on the agent hunt. I’ve had some fantastic rejections on my manuscript and that’s okay. I learned so much while I was there, both about myself as a leader and myself as an author.

The hardest lesson I had to learn and finally apply was to slow down. I used to think (and tell my agent) I’ll have that revision to you in a week. Except that it was no where near what it needed to be revision wise. Learning to really revise and edit myself is the greatest lesson I took from my deployment. I drafted 11 novels while I was there, but those only count if you consider that 5 of them were complete do overs on the original drafts. Oh and none of them will ever see the light of day:)

So I had a lot of time. Being signal is like that. Once the network is established, maintaining it is the easy part. I wrote and I blogged and writing really kept me grounded. The social network of support I had from the writing community was incredible and I will always remember to say yes whenever I can to help a fellow writer out because of that support. The coolest thing I was able to do while I deployed was fly in a Blackhawk helicopter. The ride is so smooth. It’s awesome and gives me new respect for the pilots and the crews. My biggest accomplishment so far was having one of my blogs published by the New York Times. You can read about it at the At War Blog (http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/what-is-it-like/). I’m really proud of that piece, not only because it was accepted by the Times, but because it really was a profound moment for me in Iraq. It was the line I crossed between being a soldier and being a combat veteran. There really is a difference, one I hadn’t really fully understood until that moment.

I returned to the states in early December and am now back on full time mommy duty. It’s intense, to say the least. Getting back home as also held its own challenges. By the time I sit down to write at night, I’m exhausted. Those days where I could crank out 5000 or 6000 words are over. Some nights, I’m lucky to hit 600. But I keep going at it because the stories are in my head and they won’t let me rest.

If you’re interested in my further adventures, feel free to stop by Romance Roll Call (http://romancerollcall.com) or my home blog http://www.jessicascott.net/blog. Thanks again, Cindy, for inviting me to stop by!

18 comments:

Cindy Gerard said...

Many apologies to Jess for getting her wonderful post up late. We're in the midst of an ice storm here and between intermittent bouts without electricity and a whole plethora of other obstacles, I dropped the ball.

Anyway, I know Jess would love to hear questions or comments about her tour in Iraq or her writing or military related experiences. Please, fire away!

KylieBrant said...

Welcome, Jessica. Wow, I'm amazed at what you've accomplished!

Helen Brenna said...

Hi Jessica. Thanks for coming to visit with us and welcome! And more than anything, thank you for your service to this country!

Nice article you had published with the NYT - had me balling like a baby, of course.

Do you write military stories?

lois greiman said...

Jessica, thanks sooooooooooo much for joining us. How absolutely fascinating for those of us who spend our days here in the states worrying about things like...how many minutes to boil an egg or if I should vacuum this year.

I'm writing a romantic suspense (which hasn't yet sold) that involved an ex military guy on a privately funded mission. Might it be possible to ask you some questions sometime??

Deb said...

Since Cindy and I only live about 25 minutes apart, I'm experiencing the same ice storm. Our lights keep blinking.

Jessica, thank you for your service to our country. We are a pro-military family: father and FIL in Army and Air Force, my husband is a Navy vet, and my stepson is a Marine.

I haven't read your War books, but after reading your post and then about your stories, I am going to go get them at my fave little bookstore--Basically Books in Cedar Rapids. (Bobbie and Donna are great, aren't they, Cindy?)

Take care and God bless you and God bless America.

Christie Ridgway said...

Hi, Jessica! Thanks for visiting here and thanks for your service. I'm so impressed with your accomplishments.

Did you come for a military family? What led you to join the Army?

Jessica Scott said...

Hi Ladies,
Thanks so much for the warm welcome. And no worries! I'm just glad to be here
Helen, I do write military stories. Right now, I'm thinking they're military romance but I've been told there's a women's fiction element to them. So yes, military, but what else is yet to be decided.
Lois, feel free to drop me a line with any questions you have. I love helping other authors out whenever possible!
Deb, alas, the War series is currently not published. The first one is out with agents right now. 3 have the full and I'm hoping to hear something in the next few weeks. The next book that I'm working on, though is titled Monster, about a soldier who gets out of the military and heads home to escape the demons that followed him home from Iraq. He finds help in an unexpected, four legged place.
Christe, I don't actually come from a military family. Both my grandfathers and great uncles were involved in WWII but my parents were (and still somewhat are) hippies:) I joined the army right out of high school because I was fat, had no money for college and didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Not exactly a glamorous reason for signing up, but it was the single best choice I ever made. I got in shape and learned to be part of something bigger than myself. I stay in because I truly believe I can still make a difference. When I stop believing that, it'll be time for me to retire.

Christie Ridgway said...

Wow, Jessica. Your choice to join and stay in the Army sounds like a book right there!

With your eyewitness perspective, I imagine your military romances/women's fic are fabulous. I like that blend, BTW. Do you know Robyn Carr's Virgin River series? The books are a blend of romance/women's fic and feature ex-military heroes (her last hit the NYT list at #8!).

Jessica Scott said...

Hi Christie,
Ha, my life isn't nearly that interesting but thank you. It's been an adventure but it's all part of what I do, you know? And thanks for the vote of confidence. Positive encouragement is critical for us struggling writers:)
I do like Robyn Carr's Virgin River books. I only read two while I was in Iraq, but it was Roxanne St Claire who said I might need to start pitching my book as other than 'military romance' which agents and authors were reading to mean romantic suspense. She's the one who initially turned me on to Robyn's series and they're really great. And Robyn's agent had some tremendously positive feedback on War's Darkest Fear and invited me to resubmit after revisions.
I guess my lesson in publishing is keep after it, right:)

Cindy Gerard said...

Jess - I know you worked with the schools while deployed in Iraq but I'm wondering if you had the opportunity to interact much with Iraqi women on either of your 2 deployments over there.

Jessica Scott said...

Hi Cindy,
I've actually only done 1 tour. Hubby has now done 3. I didn't get a chance to interact with the women or the kids. I turned all the supplies over to a commander who tool them into his battlespace. I did talk to some of our patois guys, though and he said the women are treated pretty badly in some areas, just like the west in others. It all depends on where you are.

Cindy Gerard said...

One tour is 1 more than any of us can say and we are all in debt for your service.
Thanks, Jess!

Jessica Scott said...

Lol! Too funny!

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for the fascinating post. And I never know what genre I'm writing; I just write what seems right to me. Eventually, I figure, there will be enough others who are looking for my more traditional mystery approach to romance rather than a romantic suspense.

I'll be watching for your books!

Betina Krahn said...

Jessica, you're an inspiration. I am soooo proud of you and of all of the women who wear the uniform and serve in the military.

I had heard that a lot of the military personnel (male and female) read a lot of romances while deployed. . . but now I know that some actually WRITE romances while deployed. That is sooo cool.

Thanks for taking a ride with us and keep in touch. We'll be sure to look for your books!

Jessica Scott said...

Hi Terry, Thanks so much! Hopefully, I'll be able to come back some day with a book for you to read! I'll keep y'all posted.

Betina,
Thank you for your kind words. I received boxes and boxes of books while I was over there and it was so awesome for me to a, discover new authors, and b, be able to give away so many books. The gals I was stationed with appreciated!

If you're interested at all, there's a link to a gal sending more books to Iraq on www.RomanceRollCall.com, and I have an address for a soldier in the unit who replaced us who would love to get some care packages with books. Drop me a line and I'll pass along her information!.

Paula R said...

Hi Jessica, it is cool to see you riding in the convertible today. I am always late getting here, but I hope you had a wonderful time with the ladies. They are awesome. I love the premise of your books. I read a little about them on your home website. I also loved the articles you wrote. It is amazing that you were able to accomplish as much as you did while deployed. Thank you very much for your service Ma'am!

Christie, nice call on the VR books. I absolutely love Robyn Carr.

Have a great rest of the day/evening everybody.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for the heartfelt post Jessica. I know I'll be seeing your stories in publication.