Jackie Minniti was born and raised in the heart of New Jersey where she spent 25 years as a classroom teacher and was an education writer for the Courier Post. A fter retiring from teaching, she moved to Florida and turned to writing full-time. She is currently a columnist for The Island Reporter in St. Petersburg. Her first novel, “Project June Bug,” the story of a young teacher’s efforts to help a student with ADHD, won several awards including Premier Book Awards “Book of the Year.” A number of her stories have been included in Chicken Soup for the Soul collections.
Jackie lives on Treasure Island, a small beach town on Florida’s west coast, with her husband and two rather noisy macaws, but she frequently travels back to New Jersey to visit her three children and six grandkids.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I’ve dreamed of being a writer for as long as I can remember. Where most of my friends idolized movie or televisions stars, I always admired writers and wanted to be one of them. As a kid, I “published” a little handwritten newspaper using carbon paper (truly old school!) that I sold for a nickel. In elementary school, I loved writing stories. In high school, I dabbled in poetry and was on the staff of the literary magazine. I minored in English in college and concentrated more on journalism after I graduated. But I never really had the time to pursue writing seriously until I retired and my kids were grown. I’m so blessed to have finally had my childhood dream come true!
Tell us about your writing process.
I tend to be a linear thinker, so I’m most comfortable when I have a plan for how to get from point A to point B. My writing style reflects that. I map my plots on a story map, and I like to do brief character sketches of all of my characters so I can keep their quirks and personality traits straight. I also do extensive research on setting so each detail is accurate. For example, in my historical novel, “Jacqueline,” I used Google Earth to find each of the locations in the story so I could make the setting true-to-life. I also prefer to write at night when everyone’s asleep and there won’t be any interruptions. I need to be able to completely focus and get “in the zone” to do my best writing.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I used to think it seemed so contrived when I heard writers say that their characters took on lives of their own, but once it happened to me, I became a believer! While I was writing both my novels, I sometimes felt like an observer, watching and listening to the characters and recording what they were doing and saying. They became so real to me that when I finished the books, I felt like I’d lost dear friends. I actually missed them!
Who are your favorite authors?
I enjoy Stephen King for his mastery of story. I love Ray Bradbury’s lush, descriptive writing. Tolkien is my choice for fantasy that can take me away to another world, and Maeve Binchy is my go-to when I want a lovely story to relax with.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
For my first novel, “Project June Bug,” I was in a hurry to see the book in print so I decided to go with iUniverse, a Print-on-Demand company that offered” supported self-publishing.” I was satisfied with their service, but I found that it was difficult to market a book that wasn’t traditionally published, even though “Project June Bug” won several literary awards and got good reviews. For my second book, I decided to try the traditional route. It took over a year before I landed a contract with Anaiah Press, a small, Indie publisher, but it’s been a much better experience. I had a wonderful editor that helped make “Jacqueline” even better, and I’m finding it a lot easier to promote the book, get reviews, and get “Jacqueline” into readers’ hands. I’m really happy with Anaiah and wish I had gone traditional with “Project June Bug.”
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The publishing industry in undergoing a massive change. The advent of e-books and the increasing acceptance of self-publishing are breaking down barriers that used to make it much more difficult for new and unknown authors to get their books in print. And with the rise of Amazon as the biggest name in book sales and the increasing popularity of CreateSpace, their publishing arm, the playing field is being leveled. It seems that the large traditional houses are becoming more cautious and leaning more toward writers who come with a ready-made audience. But new authors can still find small Indie publishers that are willing to take a chance on an unknown if the work is high quality. And as long as there are readers looking for good stories, I think the future of book publishing will be bright.
What genres do you write?
Women’s Fiction, Chick-Lit. Historical Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction
What formats are your books in?