Jessica Scott: Spotlight on the Author and Soldier

 Adding to our wonderful line-up of author interviews, today we are excited to welcome Jessica Scott to Kiss and Thrill.

A career soldier with 16 years in the Army, Jessica is a Company Commander in charge of 130 soldiers, a mom with two young kids who never sit still, and an Army wife, whose husband is back in Iraq. Blogging from Iraq landed her a spot on PBS Point of View, tackling tough issues involving women and war.

Her novels are all pulled from her experiences as an soldier who has lived through both being deployed and being the spouse left at home with the kids.

Her first release, Because of You, is a Loveswept eBook original which has garnered rave reviews from press, peers, and public alike.

Thank you so much Jessica for spending your day with us and answering all our questions. So let’s get started with some fab reviews!

“Edgy and current–and a truly satisfying love story. Put this book, Jessica Scott’s BECAUSE OF YOU, on your “must read” list.”  Suzanne Brockmann | New York Times Bestselling Author

“Jessica Scott is an exciting new voice in romantic fiction who bursts upon the scene with an unputdownable debut novel!” Robyn Carr | New York Times Bestselling Author

“BECAUSE OF YOU is powerful, timely and wonderfully executed. Jessica Scott should be on every reader’s list.” Brenda Novak | New York Times Bestselling Author

“Jessica Scott writes with a soldier’s heart. BECAUSE OF YOU is touching, authentic and a fantastic read.Cindy Gerard | New York Times Bestselling Author

“Crackling with realism, sizzling with sexual tension, and pulsing with emotion, Jessica Scott has penned an unforgettable military romance that delivers heartache and hope on every page.” Roxanne St. Claire | New York Times Bestselling Author

“Watch out Navy SEALS, there’s a new hero in town and he’s wearing Army gray!  BECAUSE OF YOU is a beautifully crafted, wonderfully emotional debut.” JoAnn Ross | New York Times Bestselling Author

Sharon: What was it like to get so many amazing reviews from some of the today’s top romance authors?

Jessica: I was really awe struck. I mean we’re talking pillars of the genre and they liked my book. It was kind of awe inspiring and humbling all at once.

Sharon: Is Because of You the first book you’ve ever written?

Jessica: Technically, it’s the second book I ever wrote but it’s the one that I’ve spent the most time with over the years. I kept coming back to it no matter how many times I put it under the bed and tried to move on to the next project.

Sharon: How long did it take you to write Because of You?

Jessica: Which time? I’ve written and rewritten that sucker so many times I lost count. The very first draft I wrote in a week when I was supposed to be paying attention in class and it will never, ever, ever see the light of day, not even in a bloopers reel.

Sharon: How long did it take to sell Because of You?

Jessica: A really, really long time, mostly because I started querying waaay too early and didn’t spend enough time honing my craft. Trust me, just because you wrote The End does not mean it’s time to hit Send on the query.

Sharon: Do you have a favorite holiday book or movie?

Jessica: I don’t generally enjoy holiday films for some reason. I think maybe it’s got something to do with the overwhelming pressure at the holidays to shop shop shop and generally meet everyone else’s expectations when it should be something simpler like creating memories and family.

Sharon: What other genres of fiction do you read?

Jessica: I like a lot of thrillers but if I’m not reading romance, I’m most likely reading non fiction.

Sharon: Can you name one (or more) book(s) that changed your life?

Jessica: There are lots of books that have stuck with me. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern have been on my keeper shelf since the 7th grade. Laura Kinsale’s The Shadow and The Star made me want to learn Japanese in high school. The Hunger Games makes me wish I could write a book that caused me such a strong reaction. BlackHawk Down made me want to be able to capture that raw emotion on the page. There are far too many to mention, honestly. My keeper shelf is vast and full.

Sharon: When did you decide to join the army? Did you always know you wanted to make it a career?

Jessica: I joined the Army right out of high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up so I figured I’d join the Army to see what life had to offer. Guess it stuck because it turned out to be the first thing in my life that I was really good at and it became my passion. I love what I do every single day and it’s an honor and a privilege to wear the uniform.

Sharon: What made you decide to make the jump from enlisted to officer?

Jessica: I love my years as an NCO (noncommissioned officer) but eventually, I starting thinking I wanted to be part of the folks making the decisions instead of implementing them. I wanted a stronger ability to impact change on a higher level than what I felt I could attain in the NCO Corps.

Sharon: Will you be deploying overseas again?

Jessica: Probably. The war in Afghanistan is still on going. My turn will come around again at some point.

Jessica Scott and Roxanne St. Clair

Sharon: What made you decide to write a novel?

Jessica: Honestly, I don’t remember. I remember starting After the War in Officer Candidate School and I just kind of never stopped writing since.

Sharon: Did you ever consider self-publishing Because of You?

Jessica: I did but when I crunched the numbers, it simply didn’t pan out. I wasn’t able to justify spending 3,000 – 5,000$ putting together a book that might never have left my circle of family members. Mind you, I had somewhat of a web presence, too, from my blogging from Iraq. So while I toyed with the idea, never seriously once the reality of the numbers game stared back at me.

Sharon: Were all three books in this trilogy (Because of You, Back to You, and Until There Was You) written before the contract?

Jessica:  In some version and by that I mean, I had an idea which characters each book would be about. But written and ready to submit? Not even close.

Sharon: How important was your blog on your path to publication?

Jessica: Very but then again, remember, I blogged about being a mom, soldier and writer, not just about being a writer. Blogging and tweeting from Iraq were the smartest things I ever did because it enabled me to learn more about the industry and to interact more with the industry professionals like other authors and agents. I blogged about being in Iraq, about being a female soldier, about being a mom away from my babies. All of that was far more traffic generating than my breaking up with my agent or any writing drama I went through.

Jessica Scott and Cindy Gerard

Sharon: Do the people you work with know that you write romance novels? How do they feel about it?

Jessica: Some do and not a single person has been a jerk about it.

Sharon: What is your preferred source of caffeine? Coffee, tea, soda?

Jessica: Coffee, coffee, coffee, Venom, coffee.

Sharon: Do you have any time management secrets you can share? (I honestly don’t know how you do everything you do)

Jessica: Crack, coffee, coffee, coffee. Kidding. I’m very calendar driven. I just keep knocking down the next thing that’s due. If it’s not on my calendar, it probably won’t get done. That’s why deadlines are my friend because I HATE being late.

Sharon: Thank you so much Jessica for answering all of our questions. And because Jessica is as generous as she is lovely, she’s giving away a copy of Because of  You along with a $25 gift card for BN for one lucky commenter. The winner will be announced here at Kiss and Thrill on December 22.

Jessica: Thanks for letting me blog with y’all!

You can join Jessica at her website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook because the Army adventure never stops! Her next novel Back to You is now scheduled for a Fall 2012 release. Look for it!

About Sharon Wray

Sharon is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes novels of adventure, suspense and love for Sourcebooks. She's a wife, mother of twins, caretaker of Donut the One-Eyed Family Dog, and addicted to snapping photos and eating Oreos.

Posted on December 20, 2011, in Author Interview, book recommendations and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 46 Comments.

  1. Brandie Nickerson

    Wow, I am impressed! I haven’t read your book, but it’s on my to-read list. Great interview!

  2. Jessica, you list three very hard things in the “done” column: Being a soldier in Iraq, raising two kids as a military spouse, and getting published as a romance writer. Is there something in your upbringing that had made you so courageous and determined?

    • not really. My mom was pretty much a do it all kind of person. Once I commit to doing something, I just do it. being a soldier is in my blood, it’s second nature. Being a mom is the most important job I have and I worry every day that I’m not doing a good enough job. Writing a romance novel was the toughest journey by far because there was no check box step by step process. I had to learn so much and still have so much more to learn! I love writing, though. It’s my me time.

  3. …or make that, raising kids is in the “getting done” column.

  4. Jessica, so nice to see you here. Your life sounds so interesting. Could you share a little more about being a Company Commander? Do you lead men, women or both? Can you share any details on a typical day deployed on a mission overseas?

    • Hi Lena
      Both are pretty in depth questions. Life as a commander was the best year of my life. I got to do two things that were really fundamental in the way I look at the army: I got to fix things for soldiers, either medical issues by interacting with the docs or finance or a myriad of other things. I also got to say you don’t get to be a soldier any longer and put a lot of people out of the service. I firmly believe that wearing the uniform is a privilege, not a right, and some folks should not be soldiers. They made their choices, I just processed the paperwork.
      I have both women and men that worked for me and honestly, they were the best group of troops a commander could ask for. They always said yeah, we can get that done. They were truly great and I miss them.

  5. Thanks so much for joining us today, Jessica! Congratulations on the trilogy. BECAUSE OF YOU sounds great. As an Army/Navy brat and AF spouse, I have a special spot in my heart for military-themed books. Can’t wait to read it!

    I couldn’t agree more with your take on the holidays. I hope you have a good one.

    Thanks to you and your husband for your service and sacrifice.

    • Thanks Gwen! It’s always nerve wracking when military folks read it b/c I’m afraid I’ve gotten something glaringly wrong. Although, apparently, there is a special ops CSM who is highly irritated at the end of Because of You and he’ll apparently be buying book 2. Ah the joys of ereaders

      • I worry about the same thing with my writing, Jessica, because each unit has its own personality, lingo, and experience. But if the CSM is going to keep reading, that says something about your ability to create a great story, and in the end, that’s what matters most to the reader.

        • I’m actually more freaked out about not being able to give readers what they want in book 2. Am worried about really pissing them off b/c the story is not working out like I’d thought it would

      • And, darn it, I forgot to say that I’m glad to hear your husband is finally on his way out of Iraq!

  6. Jessica, thank you for being here today and congratulations on your debut! I’ve seen the fantastic quotes from people I respect, and I just bought and downloaded the book. I have to tell you…you had me at “Who pissed in your cornflakes?” I cannot wait to read this!

    • I loved that line too, Carey! I laughed out loud, and it was a good thing I wasn’t drinking my coffee.

    • Just wait til you get to thundercock. Honestly, I’m so glad people are laughing at the stuff in this book. I was really worried it was going to offend more people but so far, people really like Carponti and his wicked sense of humor. i have no idea where he gets it:)~

  7. Thank you for all you do for all of us, Jessica. The sacrifices you’ve made in your personal life to keep the rest of us safe and free are deeply appreciated. Your book is wonderful. I’m so glad Sharon talked you into stopping by.

    Holiday Hugs,
    Diana

    • Diana
      It was great to be asked to play! What a great site here! I don’t really dwell on the sacrifices. We’ve given up so much less than other military families. We’ve been very very fortunate. My husband has officially left Iraq (he was on the Last Convoy out) so this year is a win on all counts!

  8. Great interview!

    I’m so happy when military heroes show up in romance novels.

    Jessica, I admire you so much. Congratulations on all your writing success, and thank you for your service to our country!

    (Please don’t worry about including me in the giveaway…I just wanted to stop by and say hello)

    :>)

  9. So appreciate being invited to this great and inspriing interview! Looking forward to getting this book for sure! xoxo Robyn

  10. So, when authors read comments and see typos – what happens to their thoughts? 🙂 (referring to mine above) Happy Holidays everyone!

  11. Jessica – I enjoyed your PBS blogs. Congrats on the release of Beacuse of You! When will Back to You and Until There Was you be available?

    • Thanks so much Gail. I’m so proud of the work I did for PBS POV Regarding War. Their series on Women and War was pretty incredible, even if I disagree with the premise sometimes. It was a honor be able to participate!

  12. Jess – you continue to amaze me & thru each blog post you write I learn something else about you that humbles me — Godspeed to hubby & his Coming Home – & have a great Holiday!!

    • aww, thanks Sue! You’ve been an amazing coach and mentor and I’m so so lucky to have you on my team, pushing me harder! Have a wonderful holiday (and Claire and Evan are just jumping off the page)

  13. Jess – I didn’t know about the PBS gig – now I have to scorn the Web site to find you! I love you’re 1st person view of life in the army; I get a smidge of that indirectly from my boss’ family to whom I’m very close. Her son is WP grad who just finished Ranger school (technically 2x b/c he got repeated on every cycle just because). He’s the guy I go to with questions like “how do I do an assault on a fixed position?”. But he can’t give me the woman’s perspective – that’s all you, baby! 😉 Congrats on the continued success of Because of You !!!

  14. Jessica, thank you so much for joining us today – especially during such a busy time of year. So glad your husband is returning from Iraq!

    Gorgeous trailer – I’ve just ordered BECAUSE OF YOU for my Kindle, and I can’t wait to read it.

    Thank you Sharon for bringing Jessica to Kiss and Thrill today!

  15. Thank you so much for posting this interview! I can’t wait to read one of Jessica’s books, she sounds awesome!

  16. I read the book & it is a wonderfully romantic book I am a huge fan of jessica’s

  17. Hi all! Happy holiday ! Jessica you really2 done many great things being a military wife and romance author. You really are very adventurous. Cheers n merry Christmas to you sue and Jessica

  18. Jessica what a great interview. The blog from Iraq was so awe inspiring and opened our eyes to what it is like to be over there and to be a female as well. I wish I could buy a copy of Because of You but all book buying a hold for a few months until I figure out my finances. So happy to know your hubby is on the way home to you and the kids. May you have a great Holiday Season and may the book hit the NYT best seller list. Hugs, Kathy

  19. Thanks for being with us, Jessica. I am so impressed with your commitment and time management skills (says the hostess chiming in hours late to the party!)

    What craft book or workshop speaker do you think helped you the most in your writing career?

    Congratulations on your book release and I’m thrilled to hear your husband was in the last convoy out! Have a warm and safe holiday with your family!

    • Thanks Sarah! I have to say that Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Writers has been the biggest impact for me. It brought me to storyboarding more than any other book and really helped me figure out key elements before I dive into the book. It’s really a great, great book.

  20. ‘Just because you wrote The End does not mean it’s time to hit Send..’ Excellent bit of advice. Sometimes means the work has just started. Sigh. Fab interview. Am impressed. I’ve tried to sit on my hands, but my fingers are determined to walk their way to the ‘buy’ button. Good luck! 🙂

  21. Thanks Jessica and Sharon for such an interesting interview.
    I just downloaded BECAUSE OF YOU to my kindle. I can’t miss out on reading more Carponti-isms!

    Jessica, are there any recent memoirs by women soldiers you might recommend?

    I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season and all the best in 2012.

    • Krista, I highly recommend Band of Sisters and When the Girls Come Marching Home. Also, Rule Number 2 is an amazing amazing read by Dr Heidi Kraft (she’s a navy doc). A lot of the writing on women in the military is NOT written in a flattering light about women in the service but rather serve the women as victim medial circus so I’m very particular about recommending books on female soldiers. The ones above though are excellent books.

  22. Jessica,
    Wonderful blog, and my sincere thanks for your service. I’m thrilled your husband is now back as well! ^5 I’m with you on goals and deadlines. 🙂 I’m so proud of all of your success, and I wish you every dream. Take care and God bless! *Hugs*

  23. Congrats on a successful launch, Jessica!

    May the rest of the books in your trilogy enjoy the same success!

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