Jackie Weger, Welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, Beyond Fate.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Cover artist: Amanda Kelsey
Length: 232 pages
Heat rating: Sweet
Tagline: Heartwarming, emotional, funny
Raised by her grandmother, Cleo has lived her life in the shadow of her mother's sin. When she falls in love with a fellow camper in the tumbled-down fish camp in the
she struggles to cast off the shadow and comes to terms with her past--and her future.
Liquid Silver Books http://lsbooks.com/beyond-fate-p727.php
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Fletcher Fremont Maitland, mid-thirties. Attorney.
Cleo Anderson, thirty, children's book writer.
Big Mamma Freeman, camp owner. Ageless, but in her seventies.
The Old South! Heat and humidity, plantations and levees, rivers and swamps, bears, alligators, snakes, and wild hogs! If Cleo could get her hands on the travel writer who made
Georgia sound so
magical, she would've plucked his eyelashes out with tweezers. If only she had not
made that left turn off of Interstate10! But there was the sign: . More imaginary magic had somehow drawn
her to follow a hand-lettered sign that read: FISH CAMP. The sun was a blast furnace,
and sweat dripped into her eyes as she struggled with the bracing strut that clamped
the awning to her Play-Mor camper. If she didn't get the awning up, she'd bake to
death. SUWANEE RIVER
A commotion in the overgrowth that surrounded her campsite distracted her. A wild hog? A deer?
She was on the verge of dropping the strut and stepping inside the camper for safety's sake when a man burst through head-high palm fronds. He was striding fast and looking over his shoulder. She realized she wasn't even on his radar.
"Hey!" she called, but the warning was too late. He caromed into her. The strut flew out of her hands. The canvas awning collapsed and enveloped them both. The sun was shut out, and Cleo found herself being dragged to the sandy earth, her arms and legs entangled with those of the man. Her first thought was of sand fleas and fire ants. Every site she had camped in from
Texas to Georgia had been
infested with the vile things. Once bitten, forever shy. In her imagination they
were crawling over every inch of her skin.
"Christ on a crutch," he muttered.
"Move," she said to the man, panic a microsecond away. She kicked at his arms and legs and tried lifting the heavy canvas from her face.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "Be quiet for minute."
"Be quiet? Are you nuts? I'm suffocating. Get us out of here."
The sailcloth, stiff and unmalleable from its winter packing, defied her attempts to throw it off. She sucked in a lungful of hot, musty air. She heard herself breathing; heard him, too.
"Are you okay?"
"No, you broke my arm."
"Jesus Christ." He scrambled over her legs and burrowed toward fresh air. Cleo crawled behind and atop of him. She wanted out.
But he didn't crawl into the sunlight and heat-drenched air; he maneuvered out from beneath the awning, up the two pull-down steps, and right into her small camper. The screened door snapped shut, and the latch clicked.
"What the heck— Hey! Come out of there!"
"Lady, please," came his whispered, pleading reply, "tell them I kept going…"
"Who? Tell who?"
"Witches and warlocks. They'll be here any second."
Oh, God, a crazy. A moment later, unseen hands lifted the canvas. Cleo homed in on the light and scooted into sunshine and into two pairs of well-tanned legs. One pair was fat and solid, the other stick thin.
"Thanks." She breathed as she got to her feet. Rivulets of sweat were running down her face and dripping off her chin. She took a swipe at them. She checked herself all over for ants.
"Is Fletcher under there?" asked the chubby blonde. She stomped about the canvas until it was flattened. Finding nothing, she gave Cleo a sidelong look of reproach—a look designed to make its recipient feel mildly guilty.
At the moment it would take far more than a look to make Cleo feel guilty about anything. She stretched out her arm. Not broken, but she bet she'd have some bruises. "Who?" she asked, and got busy dusting twigs and sand from her shorts.
"The tall good-looking guy. He ran into you, didn't he? We heard you yell."
"Something ambushed me. I didn't notice what it looked like." She took in the women. Two against one. Since she was somewhat in control now, charity reared its head. Cleo avoided glancing at the camper. "This guy you're chasing, what's he done?"
"Did you see which way he went?" asked Thin.
Cleo shook her head. Well, she hadn't, had she? Now, if the woman asked, "Do you know where he is?" Cleo would have been obliged to tell. She had been raised to tell the truth, but sometimes it clotted in her throat and she could swallow it before it got out and did damage.
Ah, Cleo, you're fudging, said a small interior voice.
I can't talk to you now. I'm in a situation.
Sure you are, and the situation is there's a strange man in your Play-Mor along with your traveler's checks, your cash, your cameras and laptop, not to mention Gram's last four pieces of
I'm just doing him a favor.
A man you don't even know?
He might be a rapist, a thief, schizophrenic, or worse--married.
Cleo flushed and forced a smile. "Look, ladies, I don't want to get involved in a marital spat."
Blondie laughed. "This is no marital spat. Fletcher's the perennial bachelor."
Thin didn't look happy. "C'mon, Bev, if you pursue this, Fletcher will get mad and refuse to make a fourth at bridge next time we're here." Thin looked at Cleo, explaining, "Women have been hassling Fletcher ever since his book came out. Some want to convert him, and some want to kill him. Besides that, it's gotten terrible reviews. Not that any of us care."
"Book?" Cleo was trying to change the direction of her mind in mid-thought.
The man was a writer. An unmarried writer. His book had gotten rotten reviews. The poor guy. A writer herself, Cleo had an instant affinity.
The woman called Bev was thrusting a thin volume in Cleo's direction. She glanced at the title. For Men Only. 101 Ways to Stay Married. In very small print was, and Still Do What You Want by Fletcher Fremont Maitland.
Cleo blinked and read the title again. What utter gall. Her ire rose. Empathy for a fellow writer evaporated.
"No wonder he's the perennial bachelor. No woman in her right mind would tolerate him."
"Yes they would--and do. Fletcher oozes sex so thick you could eat it with a spoon," said Thin.
"For God's sakes, Clara, shut up," Blondie said. "We just wanted his autograph. He promised, and now he's trying to renege."
"You're looking for the guy who wrote this?" She was ready to tell them.
Clara scanned the clearing. "I guess we'll catch up to him next time we're here." She turned to go, stopping in midstride. "Say, you're new, aren't you? I mean this is your first time camping at Big Mama's."
"Yes." Cleo wanted to be rid of the women now. She also wanted to be rid of the clod hiding in her camper.
After the women disappeared around a bend in the footpath Cleo faced the camper and sang, "You can come out now, Fletcher Fremont Maitland."
"I owe you a world of gratitude," he said, emerging from the Play-Mor. "Those two make me miserable every time they show up in camp."
Cleo assessed him. His face was formed of converging planes--wide brow, straight nose--a little on the large side--square jaw, and deeply set brown eyes.
His teeth were of a peculiar whiteness and symmetry. The slight smile he gave her was irresistible. Clad in a black polo shirt, white walking shorts, and leather espadrilles, he exuded male magnetism, as if he was ready to take a swat at the world just to see where it'd land. It wasn't lost on Cleo he'd taken an inadvertent swat at her.
"Did I hurt you badly, slamming into you like that?" he said in an easygoing way.
"There must be a Neanderthal somewhere in your ancestry," she said, a little testily, almost before he finished asking the question, the tartness evidence of her rallying defenses. "But don't give it a thought; I'll survive."
"I should hope so. It'd be a shame if you didn't." His voice was vibrant, accented heavily on interior syllables, Southern fashion. He probably could make it do anything. Right this second he was making it sweep and enfold her like a caress. Was that going to be good or bad? Nice or not?
His eyes flickered, inspection over. He thrust out his hand; she hesitated. "Shake?" he asked. "I'm Fletcher."
"Cleo Anderson." His hand was warm, slightly sweaty yet firm, and his touch sent a rush of pleasure through her. Right then and there she determined never to bite her nails again.
Hold on, Cleo. You've only just met the man. You don't want to appear needy. Get a hold of yourself.
I am not needy. Not anymore, she told the voice.
Cleo, you're such a liar. You forget I'm right here, that I know everything.
"Since I knocked it down," said Fletcher, "let me help you get this awning back up."
"No, thanks, there's nothing to it," she said, extricating her hand from his and anchoring it on her rounded hip to disguise its sudden trembling. Oh, my God. He did ooze sex. Pheromones or male musk, probably. Maybe it was a Southern thing. The heat brought it out.
One could only allow a situation to go so far. She had to dilute the feckless reaction of her body to his looks and touch. "I insist not."
"Okay," he said. 'Have it your way. Just don't forget, I did offer."
Tell us about your story's world. What is it like in this period or place?
The Okefenokee is a fragile, magical place full of alligators, bears, snakes, mosquitos, wild orchids, thousand year-old Calusa Indian mounds, mangrove swamps and mystery.
The area was settled in the 1700's by runaway indentured servants and slaves and just plain independent, ornery folks who wanted to live outside society and government. For two-hundred and fifty years the swamp fed, clothed and sheltered the inhabitants--until the Forties when the Federal government moved them out onto the edges of modern society--but the old people held onto their habits, their myths and their language--Old English.
What inspired you to write this book?
I once found an elderly woman sitting on a bench outside a bus station in
. She knew where she was from, but not where
she was going. I took her home with me until I could locate her family. She was
from the Okefenokee and entertained my kids with stories of her early life. Her
stories hung in my mind, but not her name. Ten years later I was camping on the
Midland, Texas in the Okefenokee and thought: What
if? Suwanee River
|No Perfect Secret|
Which character in your current book do you think readers will like the most?
In Beyond Fate I think readers will adore Big Momma Freeman who is based on the elderly woman I found on that bench outside a bus station. But, there is also eleven-year-old Katie, and between the two they almost stole the book out from under me.
Big Momma Freeman is the epitome of those early settlers. She was born deep in the Okefenokee, speaks old English and is an independent woman. She wouldn't know a feminist if one climbed into her apron pocket, yet she asserted herself, owned her own business and brooked no nonsense from anyone. Big Momma is a writer's dream. I never had to scratch around for dialogue or action when she was in the scene.
Why do you write?
Same reason I breathe.
Who has helped you the most in your career as an author?
Actually, I never had a mentor. I didn't know one could have a career as a writer. I participated in a small writer's group. Most of us wrote non-fiction for trade or travel magazines. Someone snidely challenged me to write a romance novel. So I did.
When you write, what things do you want close at hand? (Coffee, water, chocolate... pictures of gorgeous hunks for inspiration...?)
Coffee, pots of it. If it's late at night, chocolate wine is nice. I don't have pictures of hunks hanging on my walls. The men in my books are man to the bone with lived in faces, lived-in bodies and they own a good sense of self. They have good jobs, stamina, know about women and when they drop their drawers, their tinker toys don't have to take a back seat to any muscle-bound, gym-built boy-toy.
When you're not writing, what would we find you doing?
Are you a plotter, or do you prefer to make it up on the spur of the moment?
I'm not a plotter as in creating story boards or anything like that, but I know the gist of a story before I sit down to write. I usually know my characters strengths and weaknesses before I start. I know the setting, a few bits of dialogue, what annoys a character and what doesn't.
Looking back at your first book, what do you wish you had done differently?
I still like that story. It's a bit over-written—which back in the day was acceptable and now falls under Retro. I'd clean up some dialogue tags.
What's your writing schedule like?
It depends. If I'm in an emotional scene I may stay at my keyboard twelve or fourteen hours. Other times I spend five or six hours at my desk.
Any advice for new authors?
I don't. New authors today have far more sense about the publishing industry today and how it works than I do.
What aspect of your life do you write into your books?
Family--with quirky characters, subtle humor. Foremost is my love of nature, water and simple living. When I think back on it, I somehow manage to plot a way to get my characters on a pond, a lake, a creek, a swamp, a river, an ocean, an island or a beach.
Even a ditch with tadpoles blooming will do. I think I was water sprite in a past life.
When an idea hits you, what do you do to capture it?
Nothing at first, but if the idea or character keeps showing up, I make a note, write down what I've discovered or what the character is telling me. I don't keep diaries, but I have notebooks filled with tidbits of info that interested me at the time. And still do.
If you knew it would be a bestseller, what book would you write that you might not write otherwise?
I have one book that I think would be received nicely. I've done pounds of research, the characters are well-defined, the setting is in place, the plot thickened, but the story intimidated me. After a couple of months, I knew I had to better my craft before I told the story.
What's keeping you from writing that book?
Other books right this minute. I recently contracted with Liquid Silver to bring out five novels on backlist in digital format. I'm learning indie publishing and have just brought out another of my backlist. But the backstory is I thought all of my research and notes were lost in Katrina. I had stored it with a friend while I was living abroad and her house was destroyed. They showed up in a plastic tub last November when she and I were sorting through some debris in a storage shed which had somehow survived.
What other jobs have you held besides writing?
I was a department manager in large hotels. I worked as manager and Food and Beverage director for hotels and restaurants.
Which of your books was the hardest to write and why?
The most difficult book for me to write is always the one I'm currently working on. I've slogged through two hundred pages--know I have story--but really won't know the final structure or who in the cast of characters might get cut until I finish the first draft. Usually after that, it's smooth sailing. But the characters in this book are eccentric, mouthy and misbehave. Each wants to be front and center. They are driving me mad.
What are you currently reading for fun? I'm re-reading Randy Wayne White's The Man Who Invented Florida. Naturally, the main character lives in a stilt house in Dinkin's Bay on the
. It's all about water. East Florida
What's the best gift you ever received?
I really can't name the best, but I can tell you one that changed the direction of my life. I was packing to return to the tiny jungle village I called home in
America when my daughter gave me a Kindle, which introduced me to e-books
and renewed my writing career. I unpacked.
Do you believe in luck?
I do believe in luck--good, bad and indifferent. Good luck when I'm winning at Bingo. Bad, when I'm not.
What's your favorite movie?
My all-time favorite movie is the African Queen. I've watched it dozens of times and it never fails to thrill or chill--especially the scene in which Charlie Allnutt is covered in
leeches. "Arhh! The beasts!"
Are you the eldest, middle, baby, or only child?
I'm the oldest and only daughter--which played havoc with my life.
What's the strangest job you ever had?
Oh, boy. I once was briefly a single mother. I held down two jobs. The evening job was cleaning dressing rooms for headliners in a night club. I was getting a dressing room prepped for Jayne Mansfield when my boss stepped in and said, "Jayne's not coming for ten days. Her son was mauled by a lion. You're going to take her place." Jayne was a famous pinup during the War and after--very shapely. She could sing and dance. I could clean and change diapers and was so thin I'd have to borrow a mop handle to show up next to a toothpick. My boss ordered costumes from
New Orleans--padded front and back with lots of
shimmery threads. The pay was wonderful. So I shook my false bosoms and booty for
ten nights. The audience thought I was comedy act.
Fill in the Blanks
I'm always ready for a game of Scrabble or a trip to the beach.
When I'm alone, I read, daydream, and read some more.
You'd never be able to tell, but I'm profoundly deaf.
If I had a halo it would be hung around my neck.
If I could hook rugs I'd recycle plastic bags into scatter rugs for my kitchen.
I can never sing because I can't carry a tune.
No Perfect Secret, Eye of the Beholder.
Books Coming Soon
Ebook: A Strong and Tender Thread, Count the Roses
Find Me Here
Cover Reveals: http://coverreveals.blogspot.com/search/label/Beyond%20Fate