About author, Jackie Bouchard: Jackie Bouchard used to write reports, newsletters, and presentations as part of her work as a Market Intelligence Analyst. While she loved the writing part, it was the trapped-in-the-corporate-hamster-wheel part she could do without. So she began working on a novel in her spare time. Eventually she scampered free of the hamster wheel, and now focuses on writing full time.
Her work has been published in San Diego CityBeat magazine and the San Diego Writers, Ink’s anthology, A Year in Ink, Vol. 3. Her first novel, What the Dog Ate, is a dog-friendly romantic comedy.
Jackie’s mission in writing is to bring her readers smiles, laughter, and the ability to forget about their troubles for a while, whether via her novels or her blog Pooch Smooches. She started the blog when her fifteen-month-old puppy, Abby, was diagnosed with bone cancer and had to have her leg amputated. Not an easy subject to keep light and humorous, but Abby lived on three legs with such gusto and grace for the remaining fifteen months of her life that she taught Jackie much about facing adversity and living in the moment.
Now Jackie mainly blogs about Rita, her rescue pup from Mexico. With Jackie being American, her husband a Canadian, and Rita from Mexico, they show that these NAFTA arrangements really can work out. Jackie and her husband have lived on both coasts of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda. They now live in San Diego.
Describe your writing style in five sentences: I get a little idea (e.g. a dog eating some panties that don’t belong to his married momma) and dive in. I’m not a plotter – I like to come up with some characters and a situation and see what happens. If I know too much about where the story is going, it’s not fun for me. I like to discover where the story leads, just as the reader will. My method leads to lots of revising, but I’m one of those odd writers that enjoys revising.
When did you love for dogs begin? Oh, gosh, it started back before I can even remember. My dad brought a beagle puppy home when I was only about two or three so, other than when I was away at college and when I lived in Bermuda, I’ve always had a dog.
Walk us through your writing/editing/publishing process: I’m not a “write every day” gal. I sometimes take big breaks away from my writing—partly because once I start, I have a hard time stopping. Not much else gets done when I’m writing/editing because I get so sucked in to it. The bummer is that since I don’t plot, I often go off on tangents with my stories and a lot of stuff ends up on the virtual “cutting-room floor.” But I figure, it’s all good. Even the stuff that doesn’t make it in helps me work out who my characters are, back-stories, etc.
As I said before, I really like editing. I edit a lot as I go along, reading over the previous day’s work before I start writing each day. I’m actually trying to break myself of that habit, and instead just sit down and start writing new stuff first, because otherwise I can get so caught up in the search for the “perfect” words, that I often end up with nothing new written at the end of the day! Okay, I said I “like” editing – but I really love it. I get a dorky little thrill out of finding the perfect verb or cutting away any words that aren’t absolutely necessary. It’s a wonder I ever finish anything!
As for the publishing process, I have an agent, and we did try to find a traditional publisher for What the Dog Ate, but it was back in early 2009, after the market crashed. Not great timing. I tried to move on and started working on two other books, but my “first baby” was always in the back of my mind. In early 2012, I was having dinner with my agent and she suggested that I self-publish the book, so I did.
Who or what inspires you? That’s a tough question for me, actually. There’s no one single thing or person that inspires me, but lots of people inspire me every day: my hubby, because he works so hard; my self-pubbed writer friends (especially lots of the Chick Lit Goddesses) because I see them achieving lots of great things; my dogs because they understand how to live in the present and not fret about tomorrow. And me, too! I inspire me – I want to be the best I can.
How do you come up with the titles of your books? I don’t really have one set way. What the Dog Ate came out of a brain-storming session way back when it was just a short story I wrote for a beginning creative writing class. My agent wanted me to change it because she worried people would think it was a mystery, but we tried and couldn’t come up with anything else. What the dog ate is really what the book’s about – the whole way through.
For another book I’m working on, I thought of the title and the first line before anything else. I started writing based on those two wee tidbits. The title is a riff on a popular movie title, but I’m not ready to share it yet. **attempts to wink coyly; flubs it** [never been good at being coy.]
For my next release, I’ve been using the working title Just Only Jane, but I’m still trying other titles on for size. (In fact, I just attempted a brain-storming session today… but nothing grabbed me). Just Only Jane is a riff on one of my favorite books from when I was a kid, Just Only John. Since Jane is such a loner, I thought it fit, but… I’m still searching for something that might be more perfect.
What are you reading right now? I’m reading The Love Dog by Elsa Watson, (if you like Chick Lit and dogs, check out Elsa’s books), and I’m also reading Save the Cat! (Funny – just realized I’m reading a cat and a dog book at the same time. I do love cats, even though I’m a certified dog person, but I’m allergic to them!) Anyway, Save the Cat! is technically for screenwriters, but it’s helpful for novelists too.
How did you celebrate when your first book was published? Showered. Put some makeup on. I think I even washed my hair! No seriously – this is pretty boring, but What the Dog Ate was published just before my birthday, so the “hooray, I’m published” celebrations got rolled into the usual birthday celebrations: a lunch date with cocktails and cake with my sisters, lunch with my girlfriends, a nice dinner with the hubs.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I love a “real” book, but I read tons more books on my iPad now. For one thing, my hubs likes to sleep in on the weekends, so when I wake up early, I can hang out in bed with my iPad and read without turning the light on and bugging him. I used to love to own books. I had tons of them and would buy them all the time. But we live in Southern California where there’s fire danger pretty much every year. One year we had to prepare to evacuate (although luckily we never did actually evacuate!) and I realized how little of my “stuff” I really cared about. After that I stopped buying a lot of hard-copy books. Now, if we ever have to evacuate, the iPad will be one of the first things in the car!
You knew you were a writer when…? I used to write very bad poetry as a kid, and I was very into all the arts. But as I grew up, I realized I was also a very practical person. I wanted to have a good job that would pay the bills. Since I liked numbers (yes, I like words and numbers, both!) I ended up majoring in Accounting. I liked my career(s) for a while, but eventually ended up feeling like a creative person trapped in a practical person’s body. I didn’t seriously start to write until about seven years ago, and even then I was just looking for something to do at night to keep busy because my hub’s work is very demanding and he works late most nights. Because I wasn’t clutching a pen from a young age, and because I don’t write every day, and because I’m not traditionally published, I often had a hard time thinking of myself as a “true” writer…until I came across this quote from Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz a few years ago and realized, hey I am a writer!
“…in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” ~ Junot Diaz
Where is your favorite place to write? I need quiet to write, so I do most of my work at home at my desk. I have a lovely view out my window and it’s very calm and peaceful. (Except for when my neighbor is standing on his roof naked – but luckily that only happened once!)
What’s the best advice you’ve been given? This is the moral from Just Only John, the book I mentioned above, which I still own – and it works for writing as well as life in general: “Be yourself, because somebody has to and you’re the closest.”
Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? I mentioned Just Only Jane above. The manuscript is “finished” (are they ever really finished??) and my agent is reading it at the moment. **reaches for bottle of whiskey; chews at fingernails**
I’ve already sent it out to my betas, and my sis is copy-editing it for me right now (she’s awesome!). However, I still haven’t managed to write a decent blurb for it, so bear with me while I try to say what it’s about it under 2000 words!
It’s the story of Jane, a 38-year-old loner, who’s just lost both her husband and her dog to cancer. She’s sadder about the dog though… but no one knows. She’d been about to tell her husband that she wanted a divorce, but then he got sick. Now, she’s free to move from Philly, where he dragged her six years ago, back to her home town of San Diego, where she dreams of picking up her old routine with her two life-long best friends. But, with no job to return to, she’s roped in to helping at her uncle’s B&B in small town Prescott, Arizona for a few months. On her way there, she finds a stray dog at a rest area, but she’s determined not to let this mutt creep into her heart. Can Jane keep her sanity while trying to get back to San Diego? Or will she lose it with the “annoying ass-hats” (a.k.a. guests) at the B&B? Maybe a little of both…
**Buy Jackie’s book, “What the Dog Ate”, on Amazon!