Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m Jessica Highstreet. I grew up in Florida and moved to Denver in 2015. Writing has always been my thing. I also love to teach and share and build community through writing. I self-published my first book, Rose Hips, in June 2020.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Rose Hips is my first book. I self-published it in June of 2020, when the pandemic left me with lots of time on my hands. I was calling my grandma a lot that spring since neither of us were getting out much, and she kept encouraging me to finally publish my poems. When I started to put the collection together, I realized that I had really recorded my process of finding my identity with my poetry. I think finding your authentic self is something everyone searches for at some point. I wanted to be really vulnerable and raw in my writing. Hopefully anyone who reads Rose Hips will feel a little less alone in their journey.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I didn’t used to think so, but recently I had someone say to me, “I assume, when something traumatic happens in your life, you don’t just pick up a pen and get to writing.” I was like, “actually, yeah I do.” It’s always been the most natural outlet for me. Primal even. When others might scream or punch a wall, I know I won’t feel better until I’ve written out everything I’m thinking. Everything I’m feeling.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Oh wow, I’m inspired by so many authors and poets. I could never name them all. But there’s a few that come to mind- Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, Andrea Gibson, William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, Shel Silverstein, and possibly my first true love, Emily Dickinson.
What are you working on now?
I have been working on honing my style and voice for my next poetry book. There’s so many directions to take, so much I have written about. I’ve been reading Mary Oliver’s – A Poetry Handbook. I’ve been attending more writing workshops and open mics, virtually and in-person. And most importantly, just writing, writing, writing.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
So far, I have had great luck with running free eBook promotions through Amazon’s KDP select program. It gets me lots of new viewers and boosts my rank on Amazon, which then boosts my visibility and sales for a period after the promo. I also share whenever I run my free promos wherever I can, like with Awesome Gang. There are definitely pros and cons to using KDP select though, so that’s something each author needs to research and decide for themselves.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the quote from Suzy Kassem, “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” The best thing you can do is give yourself permission to fail- to get rejected, to keep trying, to be vulnerable. Keep believing that what you’re doing is important. It is. The world needs your voice.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I’d say the entirety of Dr.Seuss’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” is pretty solid life advice.
What are you reading now?
Pierce Brown- Dark Age, Mary Oliver- A Poetry Handbook, Andrea Gibson- Lord of the Butterflies
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m planning to be perpetually putting together my next poetry collection for the foreseeable future. It’s just a matter of deciding what tone and content and direction the next one will have and then building it. And when I hit “publish” on one, well, time to start working on the next.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Awww, I was hoping you said “dessert island.” Either way though, I would bring World War Z, The Collected Works of Shakespeare, Webster’s dictionary, and finally, a book on How to Survive on a Desert Island.