I am thrilled to have Jackie Weger with me today. Jackie has agreed to visit with us today about her re-released contemporary romances and about her experiences with self publishing.
You wrote for Harlequin for a while before moving on to other things. Now you are releasing some of your backlist in digital format. Tell us about some of the pros and cons you have experienced with self publishing.
I love every frustrating facet of self-publishing. The learning curve is higher than a glass mountain for me because for years I was living in tiny villages or on miniscule islands where we often did not have running water or electricity, while the internet exploded with Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube and iTunes. I was stateside Christmas a year ago and gifted a Kindle. Did not have a clue what the innovation was- but the instant I learned changed my life. I jumped into he ebook revolution with both feet an promptly sank to the bottom!
Finding the resources an indie author needs from reliable beta readers, editors, formatting services, website builders and cover artist has been a challenge. I am not tech savvy and I made some gargantuan errors in choice. I am slowly rectifying those errors with the help of former Harlequin authors, especially, Donna Fasano of Reclaim my Heart fame. Blog sites that refer an author to those who provide quality work such as: INDIE CHICKS CAFE have been terrific resources. I was so dumb, I didn't know what a Blog was. Someone said to me: Write a Blog. I said: You mean a memo? Now I follow a dozen Blogs. Love every single one of them.
Have you mainly written Contemporary Romances?
I do stick with writing contemporary stories, sort of. I recently earned a degree in History, but I prefer living history. I spent part of a winter with trappers in Louisiana Swamps. It's 2013, but Cajuns have been fishing, shrimping, hunting and trapping for 300 years. Not much has changed except they use airboats and motors now. It is often said my books are not contemporary. And always by readers or reviewers who live in cities or suburbia. But, I can take you to a thousand small towns in America today where trappers and hunters are buying their licenses and fur buyers are posting on the internet the time and place they will arrive in those small towns to buy furs or nutria tails- a half-billion dollar industry in Louisiana and Texas alone. Google fur buyers. Or trapping season dates...we don't know the landscape of America today because we live such interior lives. I love having those characters with a rich personal history. In the past, I often could not get those histories in my books, but as an indie author I can.
I liked to think I write about ordinary people living ordinary lives until an event disrupts those lives. I'm not comfortable writing about rich and glamorous because I don't know that lifestyle. I'm not comfortable writing spicy sex. Perhaps because I'm so old I don't remember where all the body parts go. I have sister authors who write M/M, M/F/M, F/F, alien sex and shapeshifter sex. I respect their choices, but I'm not doing it. And as far as Fifty Shades goes... if a man ever tried that with one of my daughters, I'd shoot him with a snake gun. Well, I live in Texas. It's allowed.
What are you reading now?
I'm rereading A Home for Wayward Husbands again because I can't get enough of it. I just ordered The God of my Art in paperback, and I just finished Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde. It was wonderful. Readers and fans can find my reading list on Goodreads and authors I'm following on Facebook.
You and I met on Facebook. What roles do you think social media plays in promoting books and making contact with readers?
Social Media sites are a mixed blessing. Something going on and as soon as I spot the name of a sister author or a fan or former professor, I'm on it! And out of my writing mode and I live there. I do believe there are some social media gurus who draw fans and readers like magnets and those sites are helpful to those of us hoping to get word out about our books. I'm thrilled when a fan leaves a message or comment on my Facebook page. It's such a treat. In the past, I'd do book signings - fans were in and out, perhaps one or two might linger and chat. With FB, I get to know my fans- how many kids they have, what their husbands do, how they're feeling, what they're having for supper or the costumes their kids wore for Halloween. One of my fans recently has a baby and sent me the link for the newborn pics on the hospital dashboard from her iPhone. How cool is that?
What are you working on now?
Right this minute I'm working on getting some of my backlist into digital. Earlier titles have to brutally edited fro ebook release. What reads well on paper oft times does not on digital. Another learning curve.
What are some of your most recent releases in digital format and where can we buy them?
Hoo boy! Julie. I thought you would never mention my books. I just this week released On a Wing and a Prayer: The Christmas Orphans. We're still tweaking the cover, but it's on Amazon.
I couldn't help but notice how very generous you are with fans and other authors. What advice do you have for those just starting out as writers?
If you want the unvarnished truth: There are no aspiring authors in digital. They all self-publish. It's a minefield. There are some gems. I have been fortunate to find a few. All of us newbies in digital struggle with getting out books visible. I help where I can and where it's wanted. Once an author has typed The End, the creative process is over and the business side of publishing begins. That's where many of us stumble. I reached out to a few debut authors and a few reached out to me. We help one another.
What genre do you enjoy reading the most?
I read across the spectrum of books, fiction and non-fiction, because one never knows where you will find a great book. If my favorite authors wrote a book a week, I wouldn't do that- but they don't, so I'm like everyone else - out there searching for that next terrific read.
Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share with us?
My Auntie Frank used to say: Enjoy life. If you don't, it ain't gonna enjoy you.
That pretty much sums it up, don't you think?
Jackie was the first American author contracted by Harlequin when they started the Harlequin American Romance line. Jackie published sixteen books for Harlequin, including seven novels for the Harlequin Temptation imprint. She wrote the first African-American romance published by Harlequin, A Strong and Tender Thread.Jackie’s last book for Harlequin was published in 1995 while she was living in St. Augustine, Florida. She stopped writing to care for elderly and handicapped members of her family. In 1999 she moved to Central America with her companion dog,a Shar-pei named Simon. Together they lived in a small Rainforest village in a thatched-roof bohio while making excursions into the Darien, the San Blas Islands, and outer islands in the Pacific. Jackie also volunteered at a Sisters of Mercy mission where she taught women in poverty how to earn money.
Returning stateside in 2002, Jackie enrolled in university, earning an AA, a BA, and in 2008 earned a teaching certification in History. She graduated Summa cum Laude in the top five percent of her class. In 2005 Jackie spent a semester at Queens College, the University of London, producing a study of comparative education between the US and UK. Jackie returns to Panama often, most recently spending nine months dividing her time between now established homes on Taboga Isla and el Cacao. Jackie lives in Hockley, Texas, a community northwest of Houston.
Jackie is in the process of re-releasing her older romance books after many requests, as well as working on new ones. Visit often to keep up with Jackie’s busy life and hear about her latest releases.
November 11,12,13,14,15, HOUSE ON PERSIMMON'S ROAD WILL BE FREE!
Need help? Hire a ghost. She cooks.
Eye of the Beholder: www.amazon.com/dp/B00D7WKQRA
House of Persimmon's Road: www.amazon.com/dp/B00E9LS00Y
No Perfect Secret: www.amazon.com/dp/B008HFYHCM
A Strong and Tender Thread : www.amazon.com/dp/B00DROFAGE
Count the Roses: www.amazon.com/dp/B00EZBYUK
Beyond Fate: www.amazon.com/dp/B00AIEPBMU
I have loved meeting you and talking with you. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us today!