Meet Writer Jacqui Jacoby

Jacqui Jacoby was a 2009 Golden Heart® finalist with her entry in the paranormal category, Magic Man. This award-winning writer’s work has appeared in many publications, including the Romance Writer’s Report. She’s interviewed many authors, including Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber and Allison Brennen, to name a few.

Jacqui earned a Bachelor’s in 16th Century British History from UCLA in 1987. Being the high achiever she is, that wasn’t enough. She’s currently pursuing a second degree in Modern Languages, studying French and Spanish.

Originally a California girl, Jacqui now resides in Arizona with her husband, son, youngest daughter and the French exchange student the family is hosting. Her oldest daughter is currently at The University of Arizona studying for her degree in linguistics. When not writing, Jacqui’s busy working on her sword fighting, hunting up the next grave to visit or doing some scrapbooking.

Join me as we learn about more about Jacqui and her writing journey.

(Look for multiple chances to win prizes at the bottom of the post.)

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Jacqui Jacoby

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Jacqui’s Journey

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•You’ve been writing for many years. In my research, I saw two dates mentioned as the beginning of your journey: the year 1989 and October 26, 1993. What’s significant about each of them?

Every new profession has an educational period similar to working on a degree or as an apprentice. For me, the years between 1988 and 1993 were those years. That’s not to say that you don’t continue to learn as your progress through the years – you never stop learning. Even today I am still educating myself through reading, classes and by teaching others.

I had at some point, though, in the years prior to 1993, decided to put my writing on hold figuring there would be time enough to write then the kids were older. After a car wreck in August 1993, as I was being transferred from the gurney to the x-ray machine, it dawned on me, “Maybe I won’t have time when the kids are older.” I needed to get back to work. It was on October 26, 1993 – after the car accident – that I made the conscious decision that I wasn’t going to just write books anymore for fun. I was going to make writing a profession.

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•And I see you write more than romance, including non-fiction and articles. Have you kept a count of how many pieces you’ve produced? I know you’ve had articles in the Romance Writers Report. Where else has your byline/name been seen?

I have no idea how many short non-fiction articles I have written. I have never stopped to count. I started in about 1998, trying to do two a year. Last year I had several pieces running every month in newsletters all over the world. I couldn’t even give you all the names of them.

My favorite short non-fiction moment, though, came a couple years ago when an article I had written, Lessons from the Giants, was forwarded to me on a loop by someone who didn’t know I had written it. “You have to read this,“ the accompanying message said. “It will change the way you feel about writing.” I don’t think I ever felt more proud.

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•Writing is not all you’ve done. Your Web site lists workshops and seminars you conduct. When did you add these to your offerings, and what topics do you cover as speaker/presenter?

Waiting for a book contract is a long process that can take years and years. Even with the right agent – and I do have the right agent – it is submitting and waiting and submitting and waiting.

Four or five years ago, I got very bored only working on one project and I took Ted Schwarz’s words to heart. In his 1988 book Time Management for Writers he states that mechanics just don’t work on one car every day, doctors don’t just see one patient … they have a variety of different projects going at a time to keep it interesting. Schwarz suggested we apply this same type of thinking to writing. So I branched out … first with the articles, then with the workshops I offer.

Recently I started writing short romantic stories just for the fun of it. And in the mist of all this, I found the more I worked in other areas, the more production I got done on the novels. Whereas a book used to take me eighteen months to write, now I can have a first draft done in less than four months.

I offer several workshops based on what I know: self defense for women lead to Austen to Aliens: Creating the Classic Tough Chick; researching with Behind the Scenes; and of course, my most popular: Lessons on Firefly based on Joss Whedon’s famous sci-fi show.

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OK. I’m like major league impressed here. You’ve accomplished all this while raising a family. I have to wonder when you sleep. Seriously, though, what does your schedule look like? Do you set aside time each day to write, or do you make use of time between other activities?

In a house like mine, with as many people as live here, all needing something, it is impossible to set aside a particular time to write. I never know who is going to need what when so I have to be open to spontaneity.

For my writing, as well as for school and for the house and family, I have a day planner named Miguel who has all the events that need to be done on a particular day. Some days I get right on his assignments and I am done by noon. Other days, I will still be working my way through his list at eight at night.

The one thing I can count on is the order of the list: writing comes first – the books at the head. If I have the blog to update or an article to write, I get to that stuff after I have written or edited my pages. Writing is followed by school. Since the family tends to be a constant all throughout the day, I don’t have to worry about booking time with them. They just knock on my door and come in and ask me for whatever it is they need. I do have an open door policy and I am available to them for almost anything at any time.

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Jacqui’s Trademarks

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•You’re known for your tough heroines, having said, “I can’t stand heroines who are weak and sniveling.” What led you to create these strong women who can take care of themselves?

Self defense … I started getting into self defense at a fairly early age. I learned real quick that women can take care of themselves if they have the right skill set – and by skill set I do not mean a black belt in tae-kwon do. Mostly what self defense is is knowing a few basic moves and a whole lot of common sense.

Example, James Frey, in his book How to Write a Damn Good Novel talks about “The Idiot in the Attic Syndrome”. That would be the babysitter who hears the weird noise in the attic and says “I’m going to go check it out …” thus condemning her and her charges to be eaten alive by the demonic monster lurking. Common sense tells you to vacate the house and call The Ghostbusters.

Seriously, I got to a point where I couldn’t stand reading about heroines making stupid mistakes and getting themselves in trouble then waiting for the hero to save them. So I started writing heroines who could take care of themselves: First with CIA action fiction and then I moved into other areas, finally ending up in paranormal. The more I wrote, the more I learned about what women could do. My own background in martial arts has helped to transfer it to the page.

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•You’ve taken yourself seriously as a writer for a long time. Years ago, before branding was a term bandied about on blogs everywhere, you came up with one. How did you this come about?”

Someone asked me once in the mid-nineties what I wrote and it just came out “Romance with a body count …” I’ve been using it ever since.

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Jacqui’s Mountaintop Experiences

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•You’ve placed in a number of contests. Can you remember the first time you finaled and how you reacted?

The first time I placed was the day before I had surgery in 2005. I finaled in the Daphne with my western Dead or Alive. I was sitting in the car in front of the bank and it was one of the most amazing phone calls I ever received followed by flowers and dinner out and major pampering – then two days on a morphine drip. By the time I got home from the hospital, I had flowers every way around.

My second book, Magic Man had also finaled to join the first. I had flowers from the hospital, flowers from the awards. It was an amazing week with tons of smells and even more bright colors in the room. Dead or Alive got the HM that round, but Magic Man went on to win first place in Reno.

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•On March 25th, you got a call many writers await. An RWA board member was on the line with the news that you were a Golden Heart finalist. Something tells me your reaction was anything but calm. Am I right?

Oh, I know I should tell you that I jumped up and down and danced all around, but I was a lot calmer this time round than with previous contests. It didn’t really hit me until late May with a “Wait a minute … I finaled in the Golden Heart …”

My initial response was to take the call, make a few calls myself and then go to work that day, business as usual. I did go on to buy the red pumps every GH finalist in the 2009 arena was wearing and I had my gown for the awards custom made, but I don’t think I really got into the whole adventure until way past the time everyone else was into it.

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Contests aside, what has been your highest high in regards to your writing career so far?

I’ve never considered myself a novelist so there is a lot more attached to my career then just books. I am a writer working in a lot of different areas so I have a lot more room to have highs in my work.

Probably the highest I ever got was in San Francisco 2008 when I taught Firefly live for the first time. I was on my way to the room and over heard the hotel management people on the walkie talkies requesting more security to control the crowd that had turned out – nothing boosts your ego faster than finding out you need crowd control.

I’ve met a lot of fantastic people in a lot of different areas working in this job. Probably the biggest thrills I have had in my career have been the people I met who I never would have except for my job. I’ve had Clive Cussler and Dean Kootnz cheer me on and critique my manuscript. I’ve interviewed Nora Roberts and Suzanne Brockmann to name a few. I got Hollywood Director Joss Whedon to approve a class *I* developed and later taught. The people really do make the job interesting. When you consider that the majority of time in writing is spent behind a screen typing, getting to talk to and know such variety of different personalities has made the job a lot of fun.

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Jacqui’s Lessons From the Pit

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•You’ve been at the writing business for a long time, so there must have been tough times. While doing my research for the interview, I saw you suffered fifty-six rejections on one manuscript alone. Ouch! What have you learned that helps you deal with disappointment?

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When you get to the point when you know it’s not personal it is a lot easier to keep going. I read a story years ago and wish I could quote the source, but it said something about how close are you? All the way across town or one phone call away? There is just no way to know for sure.

So you keep submitting and you keep going because that is what we do. If this book doesn’t sell then we have another waiting to go out. And if the books aren’t selling, then there are the workshops to teach or the short non-fiction to be working on. There are many, many ways to say busy in this job besides just writing books and it is those things that makes it all worthwhile.

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At one point you had a movie deal in the works, but your agent who was promoting the project died, leaving you stranded. You, however, kept on keeping on. What enabled you to bounce back from such a letdown?

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You have two choices at this point … stop or keep going. You pick Door #1 and yeap, you are done. With no books out and none in production you are guaranteed never to get a book out the door. As long as you are still typing, there is still hope. For me, branching out in my job with the articles, the short stories and the workshops, they gave me an alternate source of “Thata girls!!”

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Jacqui’s Partners on the Journey

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•You have three great critique partners, some of whom have been with you over thirteen years. How did you meet? What makes your partnerships work so well?

We met via AOL in April 1996. Our first official meeting – a Monday morning, I believe – was the 26th of that month. I’m really not sure how it happened … only that we were all advertising for critique partners on AOL somehow and we ended up together. We’ve been meeting on Monday mornings ever since.

The success of the group has been due to the fact that we surpassed being mere critique partner’s years ago and became involved in each other lives, becoming best friends over the years. We share much more than just writing news. We are in each other triumphs and struggles, the good times and the bad. I can honestly say that if not for the support of these friends, I probably wouldn’t have the writing career that I have today.

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•One of your partners is not of the flesh and blood variety. Tell us more about Miguel and how he keeps you on track.

Miguel is my computerized day planner who runs my life. Yes, other people might see just a program on the screen, but for me, I’ve given him personality and a face and it’s a pleasure to come downstairs and fire him up to see what he has planned for the day.

Each and every project I work on gets broken down into steps the minute I get it. These steps are programmed into Miguel as they need to be completed in order to make my deadline. So Miguel really knows what I have to do when in order to stay on tract. If it wasn’t for Miguel, I wouldn’t get nearly as much done as I do.

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Five Fun Facts About Jacqui, the Writer

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~ All Jacqui’s heroes have been inspired by TV/movie stars, while her heroines have been created from scratch as the perfect complement to the hero.

~ Jacqui writes secondary male characters to die for.

~ Jacqui likes to write buddy stories, particularly using brothers as the main and secondary heroes.

~ Jacqui has participated in the NaNoWriMo seven years running, and turned each one into a finished manuscript.

~ Jacqui considers graveyards a perfectly reasonable place to find story motivation – a cemetery scene appears in each of her books.

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Five Fun Facts About Jacqui, the Person

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~ Jacqui has been a vegetarian since April 1997. She credits a documentary on the life of Leonardo da Vinci for making her finally make the commitment.

~ Jacqui, who had a six Coca Cola a day habit, hasn’t had a Coke since June 26, 1998. The smell of one still tempts her, though.

~ Jacqui bakes her family’s bread and grows her own herbs.

~ Jacqui has two tattoos: both related to her eastern martial arts background.

~ Jacqui shares her office with five chinchillas: Merry, Pippin, Samwise, Bilbo and Bob.

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Jacqui’s Question for You

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•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Jacqui. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. Now it’s your turn to ask a question of your visitors, so go for it.

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Every writer needs to celebrate the triumphs … whether big or small. A triumph doesn’t have to be a book deal … it can be a “good” rejection, a contest final, a good contest score with good contest comments. It might be something that just makes you feel “Yes, I love my job.” For me, when I have a major accomplishment in work, I buy myself a new watch. What are some of your triumphs and how did you celebrate?

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Learn More About Jacqui

Visit her Web site ~ http://www.jacquijacoby.com

Visit her blog ~ http://bodycountinc.blogspot.com

Follow her on Twitter ~ http://twitter.com/jacquijacoby

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Leave a Comment for Three Chances to Win

Jacqui’s Drawing

Jacqui has generously offered to give away a copy of Get Down to Work: An Organizational Workbook for Writers, coauthored with Anne Marie Becker, to one lucky visitor.

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Get Down To Work

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To enter the drawing, leave a comment for Jacqui by midnight Pacific Time on September 22nd and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On September 23rd, I’ll post the winner’s name here.

Congratulations to Kelly, winner of Get Down to Work.

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My Regular Drawing

My next drawing will take place September 30th. The winner will receive a silver necklace bearing the word Courage, which is something anyone embarking on her writing journey needs.

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Courage Necklace

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To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by September 30th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On October 1st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.

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You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook

If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and September 30th. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On October 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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22 Responses to Meet Writer Jacqui Jacoby

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Jacqui! It’s great to have you as my guest at Romance Writers on the Journey.

    My most recent writing-related triumphs are three contest finals in the past month. I shouted for joy and scared our two cats when the calls came, but the best celebration was when my husband took my hands in his and happy danced with me each time I told him my good news. Melted my heart!

  2. Sherrinda says:

    What a great interview, Keli!
    Jacqui, you are so multi-talented! I cannot imagine having so many things going at once! I’m very impressed!

    I recently finished my first ms and celebrated by going out with my husband and some friends to eat hamburgers! We came home and had ice cream and had such a fun time! Food always seems to be my celebration of choice!

  3. Cee Dunsheath says:

    Excellent piece, ladies! As always.

    And I can personally vouch for those secondary male characters — thank Heaven Jacqui’s now writing trilogies 🙂

    Cee~

  4. Thanks for having me Keli. It was a fun interview to do!!

  5. Sherrinda-

    Congrats on that finihsed ms!! it’s a great feeling, isn’t it!! Glad you celebrated really nicely and with good company.

    Jacqui

  6. Hi, Jacqui!

    I’ve been blessed with several reasons to celebrate this year. After many years of writing, I signed with an agent and won a Golden Heart. I used to celebrate with a night out at a fabulous restaurant and a cosmo. 😉 Now with child #3 on the way, we enjoy staying in with take-out from one of our favorite places (dessert included, of course), and maybe a rented movie. I love food, though, so I don’t always wait for the “big” milestones to celebrate. Sometimes, particularly on a difficult week, I’ll celebrate completing my word count goal for the week. Any excuse to eat without having to cook! 🙂

    Best wishes for everyone out there that you’ll have many writing events to celebrate!

    Anne Marie

  7. Hi Jacqui,

    Great interview Jacqui and Keli!!

    It sounds like you’ve had so many wonderful accomplisments, Jacqui. I love reading stories about perseverance.

    This year has been been an amazing one for me. My manuscript won the Golden Heart, and then a publisher offered me a contract. I still have trouble believing it sometimes. 🙂 To celebrate we went out to dinner, and while at the ACFW conference in Denver, I splurged (more than usual), and bought lots of writing How-To books and novels.

    And I add my wishes to Anne Marie’s– to everyone out there, that they’ll have lots of writing successes and milestones to celebrate.

    Kelly Ann Riley

  8. Linda Henderson says:

    I think the biggest triumph that I’ve had lately is my doctor finding a working treatment for my rheumatoid arthritis. After so many months of this condition running out of control I now enjoy every day that I can get up without help and every moment I spend with my kids and grandkids. I simply celebrate life.

  9. Jessica says:

    Great interview! I love languages too and am so jealous that you go to school and are learning them! LOL
    Also, excellent point about when rejections stop being personal. I totally agree.
    I’d say being a finalist in a contest was a triumph for me. 🙂 Personal rejections from an editor also felt pretty good.
    Thanks for sharing everything!
    Miguel sounds like a hoot. LOL

  10. Kelly says:

    Nice interview! Good luck.

  11. Addison Fox says:

    Jacqui:

    What a wonderful interview. And congratulations on all of your accomplishments – including that standing room only crowd for Firefly!

    I think your question is a great one – we need to celebrate our accomplishments. To actually take time out from what we’re doing and focus on the good that we’ve done. For me, that usually involves a celebratory glass of wine. Ahhh….heaven! 🙂

    Addison

  12. Elisa Beatty says:

    Fun interview, Jacqui! Love “Romance with a body count!” And great author photo, BTW.
    Good luck with everything!

  13. Susan Mason says:

    Hi Jacqui,

    Great interview! I think I need a Miguel at my house. Does he do housework, too? Or better yet, does he cook? LOL.

    It’s interesting that your heroines are super strong and never need saving. I’ve always loved heroines being rescued by the handsome hero. I know it’s not vogue these days, but I still love it. I have to watch my own heroines aren’t too wimpy, but I do let them get rescued occasionally!

    I usually celebrate my little victories with a nice glass of wine at a restaurant with the family.

    Cheers & happy writing,

    Sue

  14. Jill Kemerer says:

    I really needed to read this today. Your story is so inspiring. I’m forwarding the url to my friend. The line about how far away are you: across town or one phone call away really resonated with me. Thanks so much for sharing your journey. Congratulations on all your success, too!

  15. Jessica~

    It is good to remember that rejections are not personal. We look at our books like our babies, but when and editor looks at them they really are only seeing words on a page and a product.

    As to the french … oh it is fun but I would give anything to get out of it today!! Not even Miguel is making feel unlazy today!!

    Jacqui

  16. Great interview.

    I’m amazed and awed by your abilities, Jacqui. The video for your Firefly workshop is outstanding.

    Highpoints for me are usually contest related, but one that isn’t stands out because it was so unexpected: I wrote a blog that caught an agent’s attention. She liked my voice and style and, through a client that is also a GH sister, let me know she was interested in reading more.

    Very strange, at least to me, but validating.

  17. Shea Berkley says:

    Hey Jacqui! Great stories and lessons in your interview. Every day that I get to sit at my computer and write is a celebration for me. I’m always amazed I can find the time. Thanks for sharing.

  18. What an interesting life, Jacqui! Inspiring! Thanks for sharing. And thanks also to Keli for another great interview.

  19. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by to learn more about Jacqui and her writing journey.

    I held the drawing for the copy of Get Down to Work, which Jacqui generously donated as the prize, and the winner is Kelly.

    Congrats, Kelly! I’ll be in touch.

  20. I just realized my comments aren’t being left!!

  21. Edna Tollison says:

    Enjoyed the interview and would really love to win the book, I am now back to reading my old ones over so a new one would be great.

    May God bless

    Romancewritersonthejourney.wordpress.com

  22. Edna Tollison says:

    Nice to meet you and read your interview, I would love to win one of your books,

    May God bless

    Romancewritersonthejourney.wordpress.com

Comments are closed.