In my five-year tenure as an independent writer, I’ve eaten my fair share of dirt. My success rate is on par with the average author’s experience: one acceptance out of every ten submissions. With each rejection that’s rolled in, I’ve pulled myself out of the gutter by choosing to view failure as preparation for success.

Turns out, I was right. I’m proud to announce I’ve been selected to read my work at the JaxbyJax Literary Arts Festival Saturday, October 16 at 2:30pm in the Rooftop Garden at the Jesse Ball duPont Center. I’ll be reading alongside local writers I admire (see the full list here), and couldn’t be more excited to participate.

The Flip-side of Rejection

As I gear up for 15 minutes of local visibility, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that being accepted to JaxbyJax is giving me a taste of just how distracting the flip-side of rejection can be. Whereas rejection comes with self doubt and feelings of unworthiness, success ushers in the risk of grandiosity and a nagging sense of needing to do or check something. Prolonged fixation on either extreme is what threatens to pull me away from the work that matters most.

It hasn’t taken me long to realize I’m slowing down on my main goal: finishing my memoir and book proposal. Over the years, I’ve gotten good at learning to let myself cry, get up the next morning, and write. Now I get to practice how to celebrate progress, turn away from social media, and sit my butt back in the chair.

Reading Details

If you’re in the Jacksonville area, I’d love to see you when I come up for air at my reading. I’ll be sharing an adapted excerpt of my memoir that illustrates the best and worst of what can happen when we find ourselves in a community where our differences stand out. Be sure to also look for my work in the new Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville Anthology of Women’s Voices, Vol. III: Roots and Branches available for purchase in December. In the meantime, check out Volume II at the festival and the community’s free workshop, beginning Saturday at 10am.

Session Title
Gambling on Humanity by Melissa Gopp-Warner

Navigating a community where your differences stand out is always a risk. In this true-life story, two young adults go all-in on a move from the U.S. to Costa Rica. They soon discover there’s more to the country than what they read in the travel guide.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

2:30 – 2:45pm
(See other writers’ reading times, including Friday evening, here. Most pieces will reflect the festival theme: gun violence and civic engagement.)

Jesse Ball duPont Center
Rooftop Garden
40 East Adams Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202

*My session and many others are outdoors with masks strongly encouraged at all.


This and future successes are built on the support of my ever-expanding writing community. Thanks to Darlyn Finch Kuhn for your gracious feedback on my first time sharing a piece of my memoir at a JaxbyJax workshop; Tricia Booker for sneaking me into the JaxbyJax pre-party and so much more; Lynn Skapyak Harlin for equipping me with the tools to tell my story well; Kathy, Jill, and Clare for your consistent presence and feedback; my partner Brandon for sympathy cuddles and celebratory toasts; and Jennifer Wolfe for welcoming me into her circle and giving me an outlet for my writing from the very beginning.

If my writing speaks to you, please ease my path to publication by subscribing to my bimonthly memoir reviews. It helps me show proof of readership to literary agents and publishers and, best of all, exposes you to diverse life stories you may not have known exist.