Good morning, dear reader! Thank you for joining us on this lovely Saturday. We have Jarm Del Boccio with us this morning. Jarm is talking about the writing process and her newly released debut book, The Heart Changer.
Jarm, tell us a little about yourself.
Jarm: I was an only child, who grew up in a single parent home. My dear dad, a kind and artistic man, died when I was only four — it broke my heart. But I still cherish his memory after all these years!
As a child, I loved to sing along with Disney songs, acting them out as I listened on my phonograph. I learned to read at a very early age – The Hat and the Cat Came Back was a favorite. I kept a diary almost all my life, into which I poured my joys and sorrows.
My mom and I took trips across the country every summer, visiting family and friends, along with natural and historical sites along the way. One year, she drove me (as an eight year old) and a friend with a broken leg, all the way from Chicago to Alaska and back! My favorite part was being the navigator, as I followed our route on an old-fashioned map. I believe it gave me a love for history and culture — and created in me an adventurous spirit.
I was a single schoolteacher and librarian, nannied for two years, then spent another two years as a missionary teacher in an isolated village of Papua New Guinea. When I arrived home, I got my RN, and soon after, married my husband Dan. Three years later, I discovered I was not able conceive, so we adopted a son and daughter from Russia. There has never been a dull moment since!
After home educating them for ten years, they left the nest, and I was able to pursue my writing passion. I began with picture books, but because I had a difficult time keeping my descriptions short, I was advised to write for middle-grade. I found my sweet spot and never looked back! Although one day, I would love to see one of my PB manuscripts in print.
I have a soft spot for kids in the Bible who have no name and backstory, but have made a huge impact on the people around them. With The Heart Changer, Naaman’s wife’s servant girl came to mind from 2 Kings 5. So, I gave Miriam a name AND a feasible backstory! I try to stay as close to the historical account as possible. Since my passion is to ‘breathe new life into the pages of history’ I delight in the ‘what-ifs’ and bring the story to life so children can relate to the Bible characters in a fresh way.
Some fun facts about me:
– I love to travel, and am passionate about visiting new places. My motto is: never visit the same location twice. Well — I’ve disregarded my own rule a few times, but otherwise, I stick to it as best I can. I’m slowly checking off destinations on my bucket list, and have journeyed to six of seven continents. I’ll let you decide which one I have yet to step foot on . . .
– I was accidentally hit in the head with a baseball bat and sported black and blue eyes for eight grade graduation. A well-meaning elderly man thought I had applied my makeup incorrectly. The ironic thing is — I am not a sports fan!
– When I was a junior in high school my first job was — no joke — in a Chinese laundromat.
– My secret desire? To get caught up in a flash mob singing a tune from a favorite musical.
– When I was in elementary school, I begged my Mom for a baby alligator from Florida, trying to convince her we could keep it in our bathtub. She gently asked me what I would do once it grew to full-size. I pondered the question for a minute or two, and reluctantly backed down.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Jarm: I love the way words flow from my mind to my fingers, as a little-known person from history begs me to tell his or her story. Sometimes, it happens so fast, I wonder if the words are flowing from my heart to my pen, missing my mind altogether. I certainly don’t speak the way I write. It’s a unique process for me. I also thrive on critiques and love to edit to make my story shine. I’m disappointed if no one can find a problem with my manuscript.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Jarm: A plethora! One or two half-finished, but I’ve written a total of 30+ unpublished historical/Biblical fiction picture books and middle grade novels. Most of them have been critiqued and edited at least once, and for the last three years, I’ve been sending them out on submission — but no one has snatched them up at this point.
If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?
Jarm: Be faithful in keeping a daily journal. Someday, you may become famous — and it’s discovery may change the world. Even if you don’t, it will leave a legacy for those you love. Also, dare to be different. Be who God meant you to be. And don’t be afraid to try new things or go out of your comfort zone. You’ll be able to write about them later.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Jarm: One of the biggest, I believe, is to write for the market. The quality of your manuscripts will suffer if you do that, since your passion is not engaged in a book you force yourself to write. Another trap is to think you have nothing worth saying to readers. Of course, that’s a false assumption. Each person has a unique perspective on life, depending on their culture, faith and upbringing which can inspire a story. The challenge is having the skill to write it in the best way possible to make readers care — that’s the difficult part. If you are willing to work hard, and take constructive criticism, you will be successful!
What does literary success look like to you?
Jarm: Of course, we think of the number of books an author has published and sold, and the rave reviews they receive. I’m not there yet. But if I heard from those who, by reading my novel, have been inspired to be the hero of their own stories — given confidence to be the person God has meant them to be — that’s the meaning of success for me!
Future projects or WIP you can talk about?
Jarm: I’m writing (with the help of the Institute of Children’s Literature) another middle-grade historical fiction, The Orphans Who Saved the World, set in early nineteenth century Spain, based on a little-known medical expedition. A completed MG historical novel, Fair Investigation! set at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition has been sent numerous times to editors and agents, but no bites yet. I have plenty of ideas but it’s difficult to know which one to focus on first!
Thank you for joining us today, Jarm!
Jarm Del Boccio
Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history.
Jarm has a background in elementary and high school education, and served for seven years as a school librarian. Grateful for the opportunity, she taught three missionary kids in an isolated area of Papua New Guinea. She is part of SCBWI and American Christian Fiction Writers, and has published articles in “The Old Schoolhouse” magazine.
“The Heart Changer,” her debut MG historical/biblical fiction, releases with Ambassador International April 26th 2019. Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home) in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago. You can connect on her author’s website/blog at: https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/
“My Passion is to Make Scripture and History Come Alive for my Readers: Illuminating the Past. Making Sense of the Present. Offering Hope for the Future.”
Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?
Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness. Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission—far beyond what she could imagine.
This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.