Saturday, 18 February 2012

Guest Post - Jessica Yinka Thomas

Hey guys! :D Today I am welcoming to the blog dear Jessica Thomas *waves*, the author of the quirky novel "How Not To Save The World" - the review of which can be found here.

Today she's here and has kindly offered to do a guest post for the blog and all you readers! :D
& this guest post is a special one, as Jessica has given us all on tips on the do/don't of novel writing! I'm sure we can all take something away from this, and if the end result means we can write a novel like Jessica's then it'll be worth it right? ;)

Be sure to leave any comments below for Jessica :)

About Jessica Yinka Thomas .
Jessica Yinka Thomas is a novelist with a background in interactive toy design and social entrepreneurship. As managing director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, she has authored several award-winning academic articles. Jessica has worked as a designer of interactive educational toys, as the director of a social enterprise business plan competition and as a program manager for a community development nonprofit. Jessica’s writing highlights her twin passions for technological innovation and for creating significant social change through entrepreneurial ventures. Growing up in West Africa and traveling around the world has provided her with a rich background from which to draw in her writing. She lives in Arlington, VA with her husband, Jeff Forbes and their son Xavier. Jessica enjoys knitting in the winter and competing in triathlons during the summer. She holds a BS in Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. How Not to Save the World is her first novel.

  About How Not to Save the World. 
Remi Austin is a fundraiser for the African Peace Collaborative (APC), a conflict resolution nonprofit founded by her late mother. Frustrated by her inability to raise funds and faced with the imminent closure of the APC, Remi turns to a life of crime to keep her nonprofit afloat. 

From Sydney, to Tokyo, Geneva and Cape Town, Remi transforms from a fundraiser too shy to speak during staff meetings into a daring international art thief who must stop a war from breaking out and figure out how to save herself from a life behind bars. 

With the help of her best friend, a designer and inventor who creates gadget-packed gowns, Remi eludes a dashing insurance agent and a terrifying stalker, all while redistributing the wealth of the world, one work of art at a time. 
                                   Dos and Don’ts for writing and publishing a first novel. 

Don’t go backpacking in Australia while reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and decide in a sun-drunken stupor to write a novel, particularly if you’re an engineer with a background in toy design. Because ten years later, you might look back on the thousands of hours and the dozens of drafts and think about all the episodes of Survivor you could have watched instead.

Do start small, with short stories or maybe a travel blog. But be as consistent as you can possibly manage. For example is a great website and practice that can get you writing 750 words on a daily basis. That’s 100 days to a complete first draft. It may be crap, as was my person experience. But that still counts as a draft!

Don’t let yourself get distracted from your writing practice by the Housewives of Beverly Hills or any other metropolitan area, even if Shoshonarama is about to get divorced, again. She’ll be fine and might even get her own show.

Do explore creative ways to increase your writing productivity. I recently discovered a fantastic app called Dragon Dictation. It’s a voice recognition application that translates your speech into text. I get my 750 words in on the drive to and from work every day, but only at red lights.

Do write anywhere and everywhere. Much my writing practice involves idea generation and so I’ll make notes about dialogue, character development, and settings just about anywhere. The woman who runs my fitness class is probably frustrated that I will often type on my phone in between sets. She probably thinks I’m texting my friends, but it keeps me distracted during the bicep curls and keeps me writing!

Don’t apply to be on a reality TV show in the middle of your first novel because you think it will give you more visibility and hey, could provide inspiration for your novel. It’s a huge time suck and a long shot.

Do plan for a long road. But it doesn’t have to take 10 years of writing and 25 drafts like it did for me. Walter Mosley’s This Year You Write your Novel is a fantastic short book about how to complete a novel in 12 months.

Don’t try to publish your first novel 2 weeks after you first son is born, just because you have “time off” from work. Take it from me. Just don’t.

Do publish your novel before your first child is born or after all your kids have left for college. It requires many, many hours of aggressive marketing and shameless self-promotion. An ability to connect your novel to any topic of conversation and to instantaneously produce your business card is very handy too.

Finally, don’t give up! And stop watching so much reality TV :)

Some awesome tips from an awesome author! So thank you so much for stopping by the blog with your insight into the how to of novel writing! :) Be sure to check out Jessica's novel "How Not To Save The World" and check my review of it here and have a good weekend ;)


  1. Sahina - Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my work and my lessons learned with your Reading Between the Lines crew! I had a blast working with you on the guest post and I really appreciate your taking the time to read and review my novel. I love hearing from readers so anyone interested in contacting me can reach me at, @jyinkathomas and Cheers - Jessica

  2. Caroline Hejazi8 March 2012 at 17:50

    Great tips Jessica! I like the start small portion and the fact that you also have something on hands to write down your insights. I think that is what makes your book so special, the details and creativity of every "scene"!