TEDx Talk: We Are Rising

My TEDx Talk is on YouTube! 

It was an honor to be a part of TEDxSavannah‘s 10th anniversary event! As the last speaker, I was full of anxious anticipation until I presented my talk at the end of the event, but the supportive team of organizers made it easy. It helped that my mother was in the audience because there was no way I was going to disappoint her!

Presenting a TEDx Talk was a proud moment for me, and I appreciate being able to share my message with such an engaged audience.

You can view my TEDx Talk here. If you like it, share it!

#TEDTalks     #TEDxTalks

Do you want to know more about TED Talks? Click here!

Do you want to know more about TEDx Talks? Click here!

One Reason to Never Hire an Editor

If you are a lover of the written word, your heart rate probably increased just a little when you read the title of this post. You likely believe that no such reason exists. In fact, a recent post on this blog included a podcast entitled Why Every Writer Needs a Professional Editor. Although this is true, there is actually one – and only one – reason a writer should never hire an editor, and I explain what that reason is in an article that was recently published in Book Cover Magazine. The article begins on page 54. You can access it here.


After reading it, post a comment and let me know what you think. Happy reading!

Why Every Writer Needs a Professional Editor

Hello again, readers! It has been a while since I posted. I have been busy teaching, advising, writing, and helping other writers develop their stories. One topic that often comes up during consultations is about the need for an editor. Does every writer really need one? Do experienced writers need one? Do English majors need one?  The answer to all of these questions is yes!

Every writer needs a professional editor. Since I have spent over 11 years editing and proofreading manuscripts, I was asked to participate in a podcast interview to share my perspective about the importance of a professional editor, and now I’m sharing it with you. Click here to listen, learn, and enjoy!

Interview with the Author

After reading the title, memories of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and an adolescent Kirsten Dunst may have come to mind. Get it?

No? Okay, here are a few more hints: fangs, blood, San Francisco…

That’s right! All of these are elements from the movie, Interview with the Vampire. It’s one of my favorites, hence the title of this post. In the movie, Louis (Brad Pitt) is interviewed by a reporter. In this post, I am interviewed by Imani Wisdom, the founder of Pink Noire, for an Urban Ebook Fair that she hosted on Facebook. I am sharing the minimally edited interview here so you can get to know me as an author, and get advice about writing and publishing.

Happy reading!

Imani Wisdom: Good evening, Dr. McBride! How are you?

Dr. JessicaI’m doing well, Imani, thanks for asking.

IW: You have an extensive background in education. With that said, could you share something with your readers and colleague that may surprise us; such as, a hidden talent, a quirk, or a favorite food?

DJI’ll start with a hidden talent: I bake gourmet cheesecakes! A crowd pleaser is my banana pudding cheesecake. 

IW: Sounds yummy!

DJ: It is! I’m always trying new flavors, but even my plain one is delicious! I’ve perfected it over the years. For example, I used to buy the crust, now I make it from scratch. That puts it over the top!

IW: Homemade crust is always the best! Tell us more about your book, Almost a Statistic: A Remarkable Story of Drs. Vickie and Maurice, which BET hails as the most inspirational story of 2013. And why you felt compelled to share this story?

DJ: I was asked to write this book because so many people wanted to know more about this mother and son who inspired so many.  Vickie was pregnant at just 13 years old, and the son she gave birth to just a couple of months after her 14th birthday, got in trouble with the law and dropped out of high school. Years later, they crossed the stage together as doctors. They are truly an inspiration.

IW: The story sounds amazing! What inspired Dr. Vickie to return to school and pursue her education after all of these years?

DJ: Dr. Vickie went straight to college after high school. By the time she earned her bachelor’s degree, she was married and had a second child. The master’s degree took years (start and stop), and she eventually decided to pursue a doctorate. She had been taught that the way to improve her life was through education, so she figured that the more education she had, the more likely it would be that she could support her growing family.

IW: So true; knowledge is (em)powerment! This story is so inspirational, that I’m wondering if anyone has approached you for a made-for-TV movie, or much more?

Continue reading Interview with the Author

Stop Obsessing and Start Writing!

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

This quote appears on the Statue of Liberty, and it’s part of a poem by Emma Lazarus. Most of us are familiar with at least the first line and a half, as it is often quoted during discussions about immigration and a host of other topics. The “new America” wasn’t a land for perfect people. Instead, it was a place for those seeking, among other things, freedom and rights that had been denied to them in their homelands, hence the long and sometimes treacherous voyage to our shores. It was a land that welcomed the “worst” people with open arms and gave them the promise of hope based on their hard work.

As an editor and a writer, I want to change it a bit to help budding writers and people who dream of writing, but are unable to put the first words on paper:

Give me your  run-ons, your fragments,

Your misused homophones and comma splices,

The broken English of your unfocused paragraph.

Send these, the dangling modifiers, the misspelled words to me:

I use my “Track Changes” feature to set you free.

Yes, it lacks the rhyme scheme of the famous original work, but you get the picture. The point here is that you might feel as if your writing, like the “huddle masses,” is imperfect and might be “tired” and “poor.” You might be right! However, with hard work, you, too, can have the promise of hope. If my point is still muddled, let me state it plainly: Don’t let your writing challenges stop you from telling your story. You don’t have to be perfect at it; you just have to be willing to give yourself something to work with.

Your first draft is just that: a draft. It’s likely that no one will ever see it because you will revise it many times before you present it to anyone for serious review. When you are just beginning to put words on paper, don’t obsess over spelling and punctuation, and don’t worry about having perfect writing that will make your high school English teacher regret all of the red marks he or she put on every single essay you ever submitted. The first goal is simply to get your ideas from your brain onto paper. If you can do this, you have taken a huge step toward reaching your writing goals!

As an English professor, I encourage my reluctant writers by telling them to give me their worst effort, not their best one. “I want you to totally mess it up. Get it completely wrong,” I tell them. I started doing this after I realized that saying “Do the best you can” put pressure on students to focus on minute, irrelevant things unrelated to the actual content of the assignment. I’m not suggesting that things like punctuation, spelling and sentence structure aren’t important. I am, however, suggesting that they aren’t that important at the beginning of your writing process. Those things can and should be corrected and improved during the revision and editing processes, which happen later. Instead of focusing on where to place a comma or spending precious time trying to figure out what in the world semicolons are for, focus on just getting your content written. Here are three basic tips that will help you get started if you have a great story you’ve been trying to write for months, years, or even decades.

Continue reading Stop Obsessing and Start Writing!

Welcome to my blog!

I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. I chose to start writing it to share my unique perspective on news stories and life in general. This blog will cover a variety of topics, including writing (since I’m an author), education (since I’m a teacher), marriage (since I’m a wife), and a host of areas where I have experience, knowledge, or expertise. At the very least, I will share my uncommon viewpoint with you. Feel free to comment and share. I look forward to interacting with you!