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Becca Jo's Writing Career

My love for writing started in geography class of my sophomore year in high school. Many of my friends were talking about a mutual friend of theirs who’d begun writing a book, and my pubescent brain hated this mystery person because the attention was on her and this alleged book she was writing. I remember, distinctly, thinking, “if this bitch can do it, so can I,” and that was the day my writing career began. Thirteen years later, this minor side hobby has blossomed into the focus of my life and the drive that I put towards my motivation.

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I remember coming home and telling my mom that I wanted to be a writer, to be an author, and put out this book that had been formulating in my head all day. I distinctly remember her telling me that there was a very slim chance I’d ever be published and that I should investigate a career in technology because that’s what I was good at. To her credit, at the time, and this was 2008 to 2009, there was a very slim chance that someone could ever be published. The big five publishing houses ruled the market, and it was tough to establish yourself as an author. But me being me, I did not let that deter my dream, and I wrote a 70k word novella in a month and a half. However, it wasn’t long after that that I put aside my passion due to the impossible nature of ever seeing the light of day and instead focused on a career in technology, as my parents had instructed.

However, I didn’t completely abandon my writing career. A friend of mine introduced me to online written role-play, which allowed me to cultivate and expand my writing knowledge into other formats. This is where the main character of my debut novel was born. Through this online written roleplay system, I learned how to build character arcs and backstories successfully; I learned grammar, sentence structure, descriptors, interacting with others, and reacting to what they wrote. I knew more in the ten years of role-playing than I did in my college career.

It was also around this time that I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My mental disabilities result from overmedication at an early age, and I have been battling these mental illnesses since. Using what I know and have experienced, I can apply the knowledge I have accrued over the years to the characters and a plotline I construct. Doing this allows me to make the characters, make the storyline, and make the environment feel that much more natural to readers.

Author FAQ

Are there any authors that inspired you?

Anytime you write a novel, there are going to be a plethora of books and authors that inspire your writing style. Whether it's dialogue, the amount of description you put into your work, or even just the type of clothing, you'll always draw inspiration from others.

 

Jennifer L. Armentrout and Sarah J. Maas were big when drawing inspiration for A Widow's Web. I looked at books along the same line as A Widow's Web, took what I could from them, and made my own story. For example, one thing I didn't like was the info dumps that SJM was known to do. I knew when it came to my novel, I wanted to do a slow reveal so it'd be easier to digest and comprehend what's going on around Dante and the guild.

What made you want to start writing this novel?

Dante is actually a character that I've been working with for 16 years. She was a roleplay character that I used on IMVU, a written forum-like platform. After working with her for so long, I really wanted to take her story and turn it into a full-length series that could engage others and help share my passion for this character.

Do you use any particular programs for your writing?

Yep! I use Scrivner and Google Docs to write my novel and Grammarly to spell-check it (because commas are the bane of my existence).

How long does it take you to write a book?

For the first draft of A Widow's Web, it took me 5 months and 4 weeks. For book 2, it took me 6 months and 2 weeks. So, my average is about 6 months, but that's about 150,000+ words, coming up with the overarching plot, the character developments, writing, and working full time.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Napping because naps are life.

What does your family think of your writing?

I'm going to do this by person, haha.

 

So, one of my sisters is my Beta Reader. She really likes it and asked me to continue being a Beta Reader for all my books.

 

My mom thought it was good, but she also fell in love with Felix, despite what happens in the novel. Love you, mom!

 

My dad had an interesting reaction. He mentioned that while it was not his normal read and wouldn't pick it up in a store, he thought it was good. Do with that what you will, haha.

What do you think makes a good story?

The characters. You can have the best plot in the world, but unless your characters help bring that plot to life, the plot doesn't mean anything. It's just going to happen in your novel and essentially has no meaning because the characters are not there to further or diminish it. It basically becomes this background thing that means nothing.

Do you prefer writing dialogue, action, or other scenes?

I prefer writing action, battle scenes, and high adrenaline sections. However, dialogue scares the crap out of me. I can never come up with anything witty on the spot, so I often have to go back and add dialogue or switch it up because I’ll think of something more humorous down the line and then replace it.

What is the one thing you wish you knew at the beginning of your writing journey?

When I started writing all those years ago, I wish someone had told me just to write and not get ahead of myself. When I began writing at 15 years old, I thought, 'I’m going to write this book, I’m going to become this big author, and I’m going to have this massive success that everyone talks about.' Obviously, as an adult, I know that was a child's dream, and you have to work towards that success.
 
I also wish someone had told me that the first story you wrote, the first idea you come up with, is probably not going to be the one that succeeds, and that’s okay. Every thought, every paragraph, and every written story you do is merely a stepping stone toward success. And what’s great is every foothold you make, every steppingstone you lay down is another break in your house. So, by the time you’ve reached that success goal you’ve been working toward, you have this marvelous structure you’ve created with your bare hands, and you know that you’ve made it. You may not have made it in the publishing world, and again that’s quite all right, but you’re a success regardless of whether you’re a New York Times Best-Selling Author. You’ve accomplished something few others have; you can call it your own.

 

Where is your favorite place to read?

In bed. Unlike some readers, though, I’m not too fond of reading while sitting up. Usually, I’m either lying on my side with my phone or my book propped up against my pillow, or I am rolled over onto my stomach with the pillows pushed off the bed.

Name one book that you have reread several times.

Night by Eli Weasel

If you had to write in any other genre, what would that be and why?

This has been on my mind over the last few months, and I am just starting a trial run in Romance. There’s a little romance in my debut series, but it’s not the main plotline like it would be for a Romance novel.

 

I love reading Romance, specifically Motorcycle Club Romance, so I love that people can find love so quickly; usually, it’s like the one for the rest of their lives kind of deal, the man being the heroine, the sappy cliché lines, etc. It’s been an exciting challenge for sure, but I am up to the challenge, and I’m excited to write it.
 

If you could live in any “book world” what would that be?

Considering I read a lot of dark fantasy, I’d probably be one of those characters in a horror movie that dies in the first five minutes. But, if I had to pick the least menacing and survivable one, I would probably choose the world from Crescent City by Sara J Maas.

Do you prefer to read series or independent novels?

Series, especially if other characters are consistently in the picture, whose back stories have been vaguely described. I’m a curious cat, so I always want to learn more about the other characters and what they’ve got going on in their life.

What is your best book memory?

So this is a book/writing memory: my dad is a Physician Assistant at an Emergency Room in North Carolina. Anytime I have a question about how the body would react to a situation, but I can’t find it on Google, I text him for the correct answer. Well, after I wrote A Widow’s Web )and it was sent out to the beta readers, my parents wanted a copy to read before I sent it off to the editor. Apprehensively, I gave them a copy of the book. My dad didn't start the book until after it was already at the editor's; he had another series he was reading at the time and wanted to finish before mine (which is understandable). So I get a text randomly one day, and he’s telling me that in a specific scene where the female main character, Dante, is in her assassin persona, and I talk about how she slices her dagger across an elf’s neck and blood splatters onto her face. In my dad's draft, I mentioned that his jugular vein splatters blood. Well, that’s not right. My dad texted me that it’s actually the carotid artery that sprays, not the jugular. Of course, being the smartass I am, I don’t say thank you; instead, I tell him this is precisely why I love him and keep him around. He responded with the smiling emoji with the sunglasses, being a smartass himself.

What book protagonist would you love to talk to if he/she/they were real?

This sounds cliché, but I would love to talk to the protagonist in my debut novel, Dante. Before becoming the female main character in the series, Dante was a roleplay character of mine for just over 16 years. She has helped me grow as a person; she’s taught me to speak up for myself, not take anyone’s bullshit, and embrace my flaws and quirks. So if I could talk to her, if she were standing in front of me, I would give her a big hug and thank her for everything she’s done for me.

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