Grasp Feedback Firmly says Indie Author Jo Sparkes: Candid Q&A

Here’s what Jo says about herself

”  Born in Rison, Maryland, which is ‘no sir’ spelled backwards. Studied martial arts — and lacking any natural ability, made every mistake along the way. Eventually the old adage, “a white belt is a black belt that never quit” proved itself. 

I’ve published articles, watched commercials I wrote on television, and helped on set with various projects and corporate videos. Past member of the Pro Football Writer’s Association, when I covered the Arizona Cardinals for a popular fan website. Unofficially (very unofficially) the first to interview Emmitt Smith as a Cardinal. 

Did a short stint on a local children’s television show, wrote pilots for some wonderful producers, and have been in development on a feature script of mine. Four feature scripts, actually. I’ll let you know when we get the green light. 

Discovered the wonderful world of teaching at The Film School at SCC. There is so much talent in the world. It’s an honor and joy to facilitate creativity.

At this very moment we (the husband and Oscar the dog) live in Portland, Oregon. It’s sort of like living in Rivendale — without the ears.

Jo Inserts 10

I ask her for a candid interview and she readily agrees, the vibrant and bubbly person inside her taking charge. Here she is answering a few of my much oft asked questions about her!!

Q . How did you start writing?

JS: I began writing before I could even read. That silly little girl would actually draw circles and squiggles, insisting she was writing. I couldn’t wait to learn to read, so I suppose I couldn’t wait to write.books 3

Telling stories was a so much fun. Mind you, those early stories didn’t always stir others passions quite as they stirred it in me. I needed to hone the communications part.

Q. Tell me about your initial years as a writer?

Jo laughs and says:

I wrote my first book in high school – The Witch of Lackey High. Sadly, it was turned down by several publishers and never made it to print.

When I was 26, I switched jobs, and took a month off between them to write a book. It was much better, but still not quite good enough. Years later, I took a screenwriting seminar and loved it. It was screenwriting that taught me the art of brevity.

A friend wanted – and got – press access to the NFL football team the Arizona Cardinals. He had a fan website, and pushed me to write articles for him – which I both dreaded and longed to try. His name was Jim Skane, and it was he who gave me the confidence to keep writing. I actually got to talk to Emmit Smith, Anquan Boldin, and others. It was such a blast.

From there I began to earn a little money, writing video and commercial scripts. Eventually I even adjunct taught at The Film School at SCC – I loved teaching others.

And now I’ve come home, as it were, in writing a stories again just for the sheer pleasure of telling them.

Q. How does the self-publishing journey feel?

jo sparkesJo says:

It’s both wonderful and a little scary. There are still all the decisions to make – where to spend advertising dollars, how to distribute, finding the right editor and cover artist.

But there’s a heady freedom as well. No more gatekeepers. For me, especially after working with scripts, that’s a powerful feeling.

Q. What are a few quirks readers should know about?

(laughs) ..That’s a quirky question (smiles)

I can’t stop rewriting. I mean seriously – as in neurotic. I have to force myself to let go. The rule is, when I catch myself changing words back to earlier choices, I stop.

Teaching one class, there was guy who’d made a lot of changes after I’d marked up his first draft. When he handed in the revision, I marked it up again. Poor guy was stunned. It prompted a whole class discussion on the art of rewriting.

After all, there’s no little green flag that pops up, no beeper to tell you the piece is finished.

I think confidence – on certain things, the things that really matter to my core – has been a bit of a personal issue. That’s why I took up helping other artists – writers and actors particularly. I use to do a special lecture on feedback for artists, and even wrote a book on it. It is in teaching that we truly begin to learn.

Birr-Elixir-OptimizedThe answer, by the way, is not to avoid feedback. Instead, you grasp it firmly and make it serve you

Q. Tell me about you!!


Just like everyone else, really. I have my hopes and dreams and goals. I love dogs, and have been blessed with a wonderful husband.

And I still root for the Cardinals.

Q. Tell me about your family Oscar-Blog-Headshot

My Dad was a physicist, and I suppose I was a Daddy’s girl. My mom used to write poetry, but kept it in a drawer. She had a wonderful humor. I’ve got two sisters and two nieces.

My husband works hard and races tiny sailboats – lasers — for fun. And there’s a mischievous dog named Oscar that keeps me from taking myself too seriously. His philosophy of life is when the going gets tough, play a hard game of hedgehog.

You can visit Jo’s Website or check out her Goodreads Profile

(If you have liked this interview and want to ask Jo some questions, please fill out the contact form below)

One thought on “Grasp Feedback Firmly says Indie Author Jo Sparkes: Candid Q&A

  1. Pingback: I Take my Coffee Very Seriously, says a Cheerful Jo Sparkes | Books, Food and Me!!

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