I greatly admire Jacqueline Gum for many reasons, and after reading her author interview, I hope you will too. We met through the Bloggers Helping Bloggers group on LinkedIn, and I was won over by her tell-it-like-it-is personality. We also briefly belonged to the same blogging mastermind group spear-headed by Susan P. Cooper, and Jacqueline and I worked together on whipping a query letter and novel synopsis into shape. She is genuine in the best of ways, and I’m duly impressed by her efforts with organizing the PubSense Summit.
Jacqueline Gum was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and has lived in several locations throughout the Midwest during the course of her life. She attended the University Of Cincinnati College Of Business, and made her career in the heavily male-dominated field of heavy duty restaurant equipment. She started writing as a child, but in the last few years has come to view writing as a vocation. While Confessions of a Corporate Slut deals with the complexities of the life of a corporate wife, the backdrop is based in a corporate environment and the unique way it colors the professional woman and her view of marriage. Jacqueline Gum currently resides in Charleston, SC.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.
CONFESSIONS OF A CORPORATE SLUT (fictionalized memoir)
A woman’s role in marriage has been in a state of evolution since Adam and Eve. But the 70’s and 80’s were confusing a time. Most women had traditional role models in their mothers and grandmothers who were the typical stay-at-home moms of the era.
But the feminist movement was steaming ahead with a clear message that women could “have it all.” During this time, there was a segment of women who blended those philosophies by becoming “professional” corporate wives.
In this story, Roberta Wendall sells her successful company, and applies her business acumen to the growth of her husband’s company. Working unpaid and behind the scenes, her advice is sought by her husband’s minions and even industry professionals who are aware of her role. At the same time, she masters a specific skill set by becoming the ultimate hostess to his many business associates.
She’s unaware that her much directed creation of her husband’s image, resulting in the dynamic growth of his company, is chipping away at her very substance.
It isn’t until he surreptitiously dumps her that she realizes that she created a world for him, yet is left standing outside the gates peering in. Divorce, to her, was like being fired from a well-earned executive position.
Her journey is filled with irony and wry humor as she slowly comes to grips with the knowledge that she was complicit in her own destruction.
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
My need to write is born from a simmering need to be heard. As a child, I was a convulsive stutterer and rarely had my say in my vocal, noisy family of five. Writing, for me, is an outrageously freeing and powerful thing. It’s like having a conversation with everyone, real or imaginary, I’ve ever deeply loved and some that burned me, too. Except I’m the only one who gets to talk and I can finally articulate everything! I wish I had something deep to say about what made me want to be a writer. Truth is, I could never figure out how not to write. But about 10 or 12 years ago, it occurred to me to explore the value of my words to others… see if they could breathe anywhere outside the lined pages of my journals.
Like any artist, I think writers fulfill a purpose by leaving something of great value behind. Wisdom, an echo of laughter, a remembered earful or eyeful of beauty. Anything, that as years go by, maintains the ability to whisper in someone’s ear and have them turn and take notice.
3. Writing aside, what passions drive your life?
I’m completely passionate about truth, justice, integrity, compassion. I see these as tangible, though I know it sounds a bit crazy! But if we choose to regard them in this manner, be careful not to break them or bend them too far; if we acquire them, own them, treat them with respect, learn to cherish them as precious things to be passed on intact, maybe the world might become a kinder more righteous place. It’s true that I always try to do the right thing…the good thing…for myself and all those I love. Not because I think I have all the answers or because I’m so righteous. It’s because I learned at a very young age that the world is a vast and unforgiving place. Anything can happen. Amid all the chaos of the world, living by these rules makes me feel safe.
I don’t think that this makes me unique at all. Though, I’ll admit on the occasion or two, it’s made feel alone and questioning whether I should have, could have made a different choice, bent a wee bit more. Should it be the lie that brings a smile, or the truth that brings a tear?
4. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
A good story… Well, the beginning has to beckon, for sure. I have to want to jump on a pathway and then feel compelled to walk, jog or run straight through to the end. Basically that means that the writing has to engage my senses- sound, sight, touch, smell and taste as well as evoke emotion- love, fear, joy, disappointment, exhilaration.
At the heart of it, pretty words aside, it’s about the story and everyone loves a good one. We’ve been telling them, in some form or another, since the beginning of time. Though I think’s there’s a kind of misconception about writers. Honestly, I don’t believe they understand things more than other people. They invent plots they can resolve, and ask the questions they can answer. I think the talent is in building that path I talked about, offering up a journey that people can’t wait to make.
I love so many books! But I’d have to say that ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand remains my all-time favorite because it impacted my life in ways I never could have imagined. I read it for the first time when I was 16 and since then, I read it every three years or so. While I am not always in sync with all of the philosophies she espouses, the idea that these characters could fight so hard, sacrifice so much for beliefs so deeply ingrained, offered me a first glimpse at the person I wished to become. I am awed that the author is able to connect plots and subplots so masterfully that the threads are visible.
5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
On my blog, Where’s The Justice, I try to write short (500 words) essays that deal with the little injustices we all suffer daily. Sometimes funny (knee wrinkles) sometimes serious (integrity). The best tool I have found for building a readership is Facebook and the blogging group Bloggers Helping Bloggers on LinkedIn.
6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
I tend to be disciplined in my writing; I’ve always been a results oriented person. That said, I am constantly jotting notes in a notebook I carry for future blogs or maybe even a situation I’d like to see a protagonist navigate. I have not been very successful with online critique groups, yet I’ve had a great experience with a small critique group. There are 3 of us and these writers have been invaluable. There’s an element of accountability that I like. I always seek professional editing. Even the best writers need editorial help! I think the biggest mistake authors make is putting unedited material out there. I self-edit as much as possible, and when I think I have a good product I pass it on to a pro.
7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
My first book is self-published, but I consider it a bad experience. I had an agent very interested in Confessions of a Corporate Slut but ultimately it didn’t pan out. It was nothing more than impatience that drove me to publish with Author House. Even though I thought I had done my homework, obviously I didn’t do enough. Several years later, I now know how horrible they really are! They designed the cover and formatted the interior and I paid a fortune for their ancillary services, like press releases. I’ve told everyone who asks, to stay as far away from them and their affiliates as possible.
8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
Social media, for sure. But I think it’s helpful to choose a few and really work them, rather than try to participate in every forum. It takes some research do determine what works best for your type of writing. But there is nothing like face-to-face interactions with your readers, so I suggest getting to know your local librarian and independent bookstores in your area. Seek out book clubs and try to get in front of as many people as possible.
The best advice I’ve received is to not try and do everything with social media. People live behind computer screens and you need to get out and meet them!
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
I am currently writing a new book, working title The Flame Dame Chronicles which centers on Kim Carlyle, a divorced and broken woman who finds herself living in a condo building filled with gay men. In the process of adjusting to a whole new culture in Fort Lauderdale, she comes to know their individual stories and realizes that their struggles to lead an authentic life are not so different from hers. This unlikely group of men fuel Kim’s desire and help her find the strength to begin again. I hope to have a completed manuscript ready to shop to literary agents by the end of December.
Then I intend to get back to The Accusers Burden, a story about the abuse of power in the corporate world. It’s marinating in a drawer right now.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
I’m not sure how to answer this! A primary driver in my life has been my curiosity. While my parents could get aggravated by my never ending “why” questions, they still encouraged me to keep asking, keep seeking. In addition, they pushed me to observe everything around me so I could resolve some of those questions myself. This taught me self-reliance at a very early age. My father used to introduce me by saying, “This is my youngest. She’s 13 going on 30!”
You can connect with Jacqueline and her social sites via her blog.
Is there anything else you would like to know about Jacqueline Gum?
Permission must be granted by Jacqueline Gum to use the author images in this post.