An award winning author, Jackie Weger has been writing romance novels for thirty years. She’s traveled to many interesting and exotic locales from London and Paris to Panama, Cuba and Costa Rica. She’s sailed on a twenty-nine foot sloop in the Pacific, volunteered at a Sisters of Mercy Mission in Colon, canoed on the Big East River in the wilds of Canada and lived part of a winter with trappers in the Louisiana swamps—collecting memories, friends and experiences—which oft times make appearances in her novels.
What inspires you to write?
Strange events, odd happenstances and peculiar thoughts that lead to what if? Eye of the Beholder came into being because I thought: What if the heroine isn’t beautiful? What if the hero is an ordinary working man? How do the characters meet? How do they fall in love? What would make them different and still appealing? During the time I was mulling this over, I visited a friend in Bayou la Batre, a tiny fishing village on the coast of Alabama. The entire story leaped into my brain as I drove across the drawbridge over the Intracoastal canal. Old and decrepit houses inspire me, especially if broken green shutters are nailed closed and the front door is hanging loose. My brain leaps with possibilities! Who lived and loved in that house? Was a bride carried across the threshold? Were there Christmas trees and Easter baskets and family reunions? Was there a kitchen garden? If I spy a fig tree or a persimmon tree nearby–I’m moving in with my characters! You can too, in The House on Persimmon Road. Everything and anything Southern inspires me. I was born South, think South, and write South. I can take my characters to exotic places in the world, but their hearts and morals and customs have to be anchored in the South.
Tell us about your writing process.
I get up in the mornings, drink a pot of coffee, glance at my To-Do list if I didn’t forget to write it. If nothing interesting is on it, like a spa day, I boot up my computer, read what I wrote the day before, or a week before, for that matter, and within a few paragraphs, I’m in the story with people on page. I don’t plot my book, but I know the characters. I know who is going to cause trouble and who isn’t. Sometimes a character who is supposed to just make a minor appearance grabs the whole darn book. Drives me nuts. Eleven-year-old Katie did that very thing in Beyond Fate. She had me so emotionally wrung out, I almost could not finish the book. I write until I’m tired or moving the plot in the wrong direction and stop. Right then–until the next day. I over-write or write ‘long’–so I often end up being brutal in my edits. Yet, the essence of what I wrote and discarded lingers. That works for me. Thus far, anyway.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I do listen to my characters. Their dialogue is my dialogue–but oft times I wouldn’t say out loud what they have the nerve to say. I’m a wimp. I wouldn’t have the courage to do many of the things they do, either. I always seem to have these eccentric old ladies pop up in my books. I don’t have a clue where most of them come from. But that’s part of the joy of writing. Fictional characters take over the keyboard. A writer has to let them do the talking and walking. Once a character’s personality is set you just have to go with it. But it is truly annoying when a character will not behave and messes up the plot or adds twists that must be figured out. The worst words a writer can hear is an editor saying: What were you thinking!
What advice would you give other writers?
My best advice is teach yourself the craft. If what you write works for your characters, don’t be swayed to change your voice. That does not mean a work does not need a beta reader or editing. Books I wrote twenty-five years ago and sold like mad, have to be edited again for today’s readers. To learn how to write fiction, I tore pages out of books and magazines and typed them. I learned grammar, structure, punctuation. Teaching myself gave me far more confidence than taking writing courses. Writing to publish is a whole world away from writing an essay in class. I always keep in mind that as humans in our daily lives when we’re talking we preface the punch line with a paragraph. We chatter away describing an exciting event, house on fire, the firemen and fire engines arriving and wrap with: They found a body in the house. A man died. When we write, we start: “A man died.” That’s the hook. Not the fire.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Back in the day, Harlequin was sending out editors to talk to small groups, asking for manuscripts. I heard about it, wrote a book and Harlequin bought it. And the next and the next. I love, love, love the Ebook innovation. That’s where I’m at today. I’ve made some missteps. I suggest a writer just entering the publishing world do some research before offering work to any online publisher. Visit the publisher’s site. Click on a dozen of books offered and look up the books on Amazon.com. Check the title’s Amazon Best Seller Rank. I just today looked up book by an author labeled as best selling. His book is rank 3,606,568. No. His book did not sell millions of copies. What that rank tells you is 3,606,567, books on Amazon are selling better than his. That author is not a best seller. Often a publisher will have a side bar listing best sellers. Well–those titles are–for that publisher sold to subscribers of the site. But the book may have an Amazon rank of 106,455. Moreover, one should not place a Y/A with a publisher in which visitors cannot enter the portal unless eighteen over. I made a newbie mistake. I contracted with a publisher (nice people) who focus is on hot sex. I don’t write it. I write classic, category romance novels. My books don’t fit and I don’t fit in with my sister authors. Nice people all. But it is not the place for my books. I’m trying to sort that now.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The publishing industry is in flux right now. Mainstream houses early on discounted digital publishing instead of embracing it. Indie authors take a lot of criticism. Sadly, much of the criticism is justified, because aspiring authors rush to self-publish. Anybody with an ounce to tech sense can publish to Kindle Nook, Kobo or iBooks–but tech savvy does not equate to a polished manuscript. In the past mainstream publishers bought raw talent to build a stable of writers. They helped the author shape a career; a team of editors and copy writers and public relations staff all worked with one focus–produce a good book and get it stardom. No longer. They want proven authors and they sometimes find them in the digital market. The written word will always be with us–in some form. I love digital and that’s where I’m staying.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
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