Whelp; My background is culinary arts and I received my degree from Johnson and Wales University a hot minute ago. I love food and I love to eat, but I love writing even more. I like stories that weave interesting worlds together using science, lore, and sometimes mysticism, but I like to keep my characters and their lives as REAL as possible. I love reading thrillers and ghost stories. My favorite movies are often horror or adventure. I like it when I’m able to pull a story together where the character overcomes a fear or challenge (being afraid or embarrassed was how I thought my life would surely end when I was a kid).
Born and raised in the south, I grew up in Bridgeport, Alabama in the late eighties but now live in California with my husband and our three-legged dog, Moony.
My debut children’s book Beauregard in a Box, Flowerpot Press is for sale now. Go on… give it a search.
Jessica Lee Hutchings was born in East Ridge, Tennessee and grew up in Bridgeport, Alabama, in the late eighties. She loved watching Saturday Night Live, In Living Color, The Ghostbusters movies and cartoon, and Reading Rainbow. She and her brother loved flipping through the Encyclopedia, playing video games, and biking all over the neighborhood. They both drew pictures and created what they didn’t realize were graphic novels and comic strips, along with episodes and movies on VHS and cassette tape.
Jessica invented the podcast on her Tiger Electronics Deluxe Talkboy after she saw Kevin McCallister use his in the 1992 (Rotten Tomatoes 27% acclaimed) movie Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. She carried it around everywhere and documented every mundane moment of her ten year old life on cassette tape, including interviews with family and friends, and solving neighborhood mysteries. Her episodes documented young Jessica solving crime, doing stand up comedy and skits, and recording hit singles. Jessica continues to make false claims such as these.
Childhood Jess was terrified of Halloween and scary movies, but somehow grew into a horror lover and likes writing fiction with science and the super natural weaving through real life scenarios. Jessica always loved to talk and write, and wrote her first story at around six or seven; a chronicle of the sky above us entitled ‘Everything in Spas.’ She did not know how to spell ‘space’ at that time in her life. She also loves writing children’s books about things she loved as a kid.
Jessica moved to Charleston, South Carolina at age twenty to study culinary arts. She received her degree in culinary and moved back home to work in and around the Chattanooga, Tennessee area as a cook, caterer, and chef. Ten years later, she began a short career teaching culinary arts at Calhoun High School in Calhoun, Georgia.
Just before moving to Charleston for school, Jess met an average height, dark, and handsome Australian that she would later marry. Paul and Jess have been married for a very long time and Paul was actually the one that came up with the idea for ‘Beauregard in a Box.’ Jessica and Paul love to travel and have been on several adventures together like the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain, Camping on Kangaroo Island, Australia, and visiting Yellowstone, Montana in February without snowmobile gear.
Jessica continues to dream and write, and is aided by the music app on her phone, utilizing favorites such as: Weezer, Blur, Lord Huron, Aerosmith, Alabama Shakes, Audioslave, Casiokids, The Darkness, Guns N’ Roses, Dio, Iron Maiden, Justin Timberlake, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Morrissey, New Order, Prince, Queen, Radiohead, David Bowie, Rupaul, Selena, Soundgarden, St. Lucia, Washed Out, Tame Impala, and Stevie Ray Vaughn to name a few. Without them, it would be much harder to conjure up worlds and emotions far beyond her own.
Jessica’s next childrens book, DeloresThesaurus, published by Flowerpot Press, drops September, 12, 2018. She can’t wait.
Jessica’s debut book, Beauregard in a Box, published by Flowerpot Press, was released April 17, 2018. She hopes you like it.
Last fall I messaged one of my Instagram followers to ask about how she does her podcast.
I’ve thought about doing a podcast myself, so I’ve been slowly collecting how-to information for a while now.
She said she’d tell me how easy it was IF I’d let her interview me for her podcast, Selfish.
Of course I said yes!
From Selfishthepodcast.com: Selfish is a podcast, hosted by Allie Martin. The show encourages focus on one thing: you! Each episode, various lifestyle and selfishness experts will guide us through the risk they took in being selfish and how we can improve our lives, one interview at a time.
I love reclaiming the word SELFISH.
I had such a great time doing this and have gotten to know Allie in the process, such a gift! She even came out to my McKay’s Book Signing in Chattanooga, TN, where we finally had the chance to meet face to face!
Check out Selfish Podcast Season one NOW on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts (I use Podcast Addict) and Season Two goes live this MONDAY, June 9
At ALA Annual Conference this year, I got my hands on Delores Thesaurus, my much anticipated (by me) second book! This was our ONLY copy because Delores is fresh off the presses. I can’t wait to get my copy.
Delores Thesaurus, a fun adventure with synonyms, releases September 12, 2018!
Another signing at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans on June 22 and again on June 23. We had two great lines full of librarians and educators excited to get a copy of Beauregard. I’m starting to really dig ALA!
I went to my first American Library Association conference this February, the mid-winter meetup in Denver, where I had my first OFFICIAL book signing for Beauregard. So, I’ll never forget it and it will always hold a special place with me.
This ALA in New Orleans was a week to remember:
Michelle Obama as the opening speaker was a moment checked off my bucket list.
Tons of free new books is ALWAYS a great part of ALA.
Signing, Smiling, Laughing with educators and librarians, some of them standing in line for Beauregard; priceless.
And meeting up-and-coming authors, well known ones, and those I fangirl and admire like Renee Watson, founder of the i, too arts collective (I literally ran up to her like a Beatles fan, it was great.)
So thankful of all the amazing stuff I’ve been a part of with Beauregard in a Box!
McKay’s Used Books was a tiny shop in the early 90’s where I’d buy my Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High, Goosebumps and Christopher Pike books.
In other words, the best place ever.
I did a signing in their newest location, right off interstate 75’s exit 7, next to Thunder Creek Harley. The tiny bookstore is now a 27,000ish square foot first floor, and 15,000ish square feet second floor with 800 subcategories of books. (Information from Times Free Press, March 19th, 2009 article by Jason Reynolds)
I was back at my old elementary school on Monday reading Beauregard to the kiddos, answering their questions, and signing copies. It was a lot of fun!
One of the kids asked if I ever got in trouble when I was there and I immediately said No! I never got in trouble! I was too afraid of what might happen; too afraid of the consequences. But the more I reminisced, I remembered that I had, in fact, been in TROUBLE: In second grade I was taken out in the hall (dread) in third grade my parents were called (dread) AND somewhere in the mix, I was taken to the Principals office (death).
The second grade incident came about because I was daydreaming at my desk and not completing my worksheet. I was playing stories and scenes in my head, drifting off, and not paying attention. I had to go out in the hall and hear about needing to get my act together and do what was asked (paraphrasing and using creative license here because that was a long time ago).
The third grade incident was because I was daydreaming at my desk, again, and not completing my work, again. Instead, I was writing in my notebook, working on my “book” complete with illustrations. This was apparently such a problem that my parents were called and I recall them looking in on me one day (embarrassin’).
The trip to the principals office occurred at one of these points. I think it might have been second grade. I was terrified, but all I did was go to his office and sit across his big desk while he told me I was a goodkid and it wasn’t like me to be in his office, and I shouldn’t be daydreaming and I needed to do what my teacher said. (paraphrasing a great deal here and using the tiny bit of foggy memory I have of this harrowing moment).
I had come full circle. I was back in the building where the only time I got in trouble was because I was daydreaming (where do you think stories come from?) and working on original content in my notebook, and now I’m here telling all the kids to daydream, and reading them the story I wrote.
My debut children’s book Beauregard in a Box officially goes on sale tomorrow. It’s another really exciting moment in what’s been a totally new experience for me. People actually pre-ordered it, which is awesome. I did a book signing at a national book event, and have more signings to come. People sent me pictures of their kids reading it, their kids sitting in boxes, them liking the book, asking questions about the countries. YES! That’s exactly what I hoped would happen.
Beauregard also been… REVIEWED. And I won’t go in detail about what’s been said or questioned. I’ll just say its been a very interesting experience, full of things that sometimes confused me, things I never expected, and a couple moments that really taught me something valuable. A few times though, I wondered, WHY have I put myself in a situation that makes me feel: bad, embarrassed, angry, upset, etc. I think that’s the initial reaction when we hear, feel or experience things we don’t expect; Things that are uncomfortable. Things that are new. Things in the beginning.
I’ll simply say this: There have been many situations I put myself in, where I’ve thought WHAT am I doing? WHY did I do this. That explains EVERY day of my first year teaching high school, and pretty much EVERY first day of class after that. That explains the times I walked into a café alone in a country where I didn’t speak the language and had to navigate the city, find a place to stay, find food. Every meaningful thing I’ve ever done has made me want to puke at the beginning. I can’t count how many mornings I actually did puke before I taught a class. I can’t count how many embarrassing moments I thought would result in my death as a kid when I did something new. I didn’t do it often for that very reason.
I guess my point is, fear cannot keep us from doing what we feel we should do. And that’s Beauregard. That’s at the core of this silly, unrealistic, ridiculous story of a kid shipping himself around in a box.
I’m so dang proud of it and what writing it and putting it out there as done for me.
I read a tweet the other day about how important it is to remember when you’re a beginner. I wish I could credit who sent it, but it was basically about how beginners are beginners, not experts, and I don’t think we give ourselves enough support when we’re beginners. I am OWNING my beginner status and I say, Lets Do This. I want to do more.
One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was sit around and read our Encyclopedia Britannica, sad I know LOL, but true! And it usually left me wanting so much more than just the allotted blurb on a topic. So I’d look for books, magazines, shows, pictures; I’d ask people about it. That’s what I hope Beau will do. If kids don’t know a word, a place, or a thing, I hope their curiosity gets the better of them.
Thanks again to those of you who have supported this beginner.
I had my first official book signing at this years American Library Association Midwinter Meetup in Denver, Colorado on February, 10. We signed copies of Beauregard for any attendee who got there before we ran out!
I had a fleeting thought on December 31 that I should try and do a blog post every day of 2018. It is now January 8 and this is my first post. And thank goodness for it.
Who knows what kind of never-ending blah I would have filled this blog with had I aimed to post something here every day.
Instead, I’ll say this: There are many exciting things happening this year and I look forward to them all. I’ll be attending a large literature conference and doing a real book signing in February! Beauregard officially lands in the hands of readers in April! And I hope to finally finish this novel I’ve been working on some time this year. A lot to look forward to.
I wish I could put a timestamp on the novel, but I really have no clue.
It’s been a long time coming. I’ve carried the story around in my head for close to ten years in the form of scenes I would play over and over, like I was watching a movie while I’d commute, or stand in the shower, or go on a walk, or whatever. I always seemed to put the main character in different versions of the same scene. So that seemed nuts, like I could never make sense of it, or I couldn’t make my mind up how the story would go.
Until I realized, that was it.
The story was about the main character living her life in different ways. It was a story about a shuffle button. What if life had a shuffle button that could shift everything and you could actually see what might have been?
Last summer my friend convinced me to submit some stories to a publisher and I had never shown anyone anything I’d ever written, unless it was funny and I wanted them to mock it with me for a laugh. But I turned in three stories. One of them was Beauregard.
Writing Beau and moving forward with editing, illustrating, and creating an actual, real-life book you could hold in your hand, gave me the confidence to finally sit down and try to write the novel about the shuffled life. I’m so happy I finally did.
There are currently 60,000+ words about the shuffle-button story, and counting. It is a huge undertaking and, like I said, has been years in the making which makes it that much more daunting a project, but I feel like it has evolved into the best version of itself and I hope to send it out to a group of Beta readers ASAP.
I hope there are future Good News! posts about this novel to come, along with other new fun things for the future.