Sunday, February 21, 2010

Guest: Jaleta Clegg

Joining us today is author, Jaleta Clegg. Let's give her a warm welcome and a big thank you for stopping by to chat.

Me:Before we get to the important stuff, I read on your website you are a fellow fan of bad science fiction movies. What is your all time favorite, worst, campy sci-fi flick?

Jaleta:"Spacehunter in the Forbidden Zone", definitely. I'm also a big fan of "Buck Rogers", the sci-fi series from the late 70's starring Gil Gerard. I had a picture of him in my locker in junior high. None of my friends had a clue who he was.

Me:Okay, on to the hard stuff. We do a lot of conversing about world building around here. As a Science Fiction author, how vital would you consider a well-constructed world in relation to things like: character, plot, humor, etc? And how much time, or what percentage if you like, do you usually spend on the world-building phase vs. actually writing?

Jaleta:I tend to build the world as I write. If I need to know how something works, I stop writing until I figure it out. When I'm about halfway through the story, I go back and read it to make sure it's working. The rewrite is critical for finding inconsistencies. World-building is vital for the author. Readers are not very forgiving when the rules constantly change, whether they deal with how technology works or the actual physical laws of your universe. The world has to feel real, to be real in the author's head. It's the setting for everything else. It shouldn't take center stage, though, that's where the characters and action belong.

Me:So tell us a little about where Nexus Point came from?

Jaleta:I had a character in my head and a story idea. I started writing, then realized it wasn't the beginning of her story. That story ended up being book 3 in the series. Book 1 is the nexus point, the starting point for her story. I've got eleven books in the series, all written. My writing is my escape, my sanity valve. Fortunately, my family likes to go along for the ride so they encouraged me to keep writing, to keep telling stories. I've got at least ten other projects currently on my plate.

Me:What have your experiences been like so far as an author trying to break out, or into the publishing game?

Jaleta:I spent fourteen years writing before attempting publication. That's over twenty novels and numerous short stories in my files. I did my research and found a publisher looking for what I had to sell. I was accepted within two weeks of contacting them. I still had a steep learning curve after being accepted by my publisher. My editor was wonderful to work with, my book is so much better because of her advice. It hurt, but in a good way.

The real eye-opener has been marketing. Most publishers don't do much marketing. It's up to the author to sell their work. It's hard not to get discouraged when your book is ranked 2 million something on Amazon. But it takes time to build a following. Finding people interested in your work is hard. The internet makes it easier, but it takes time. Between my family, my job, and marketing, my writing time is squeezed to almost nothing. I'm working on finding better balance but it's hard.

Me:Do you have any cautions, or outright advice for the aspiring author?

Jaleta:Learn how to write. Finish that first novel, then write three more. Join a writer's group if you can find one that fits your style and needs. Learn to take criticism and advice. Learn to read your own work with a critical eye. Grow a really thick skin, you're going to need it. But keep writing, keep dreaming. And keep an open mind about publishing your work. The industry is in flux. What used to be the norm isn't any more. Last word of advice: stay out of the self-pub vs. traditional pub debate. You'll get burned no matter what your stand.

Me:I get the impression from your website that you may have at least a little experience with the Con universe. What do you think of Science Fiction conventions as a networking and promotional tool for the genre author?

Jaleta:Attending cons as an author is vital, especially for science-fiction. Fantasy is huge right now, SF is like the poor cousin begging for scraps. I've been involved with cons for the last decade, usually as a committee member. Now I'm attending as an author. I feel like a pimp somedays, "Looking for a good time? Try my book!" I just need a fur coat and lots of bling. But it's the best place to find people and get them interested in me and my writing. They tell their friends and the word spreads. Word of mouth is your best marketing tool. The internet allows it to spread more rapidly but nothing can replace that personal touch.

Me:Tell me more about that Orc.

Jaleta:Most of my neighbors hunt and have trophies on their walls. I didn't want left out. We regularly hunt orcs, dragons, goblins, and other monsters. One critical hit and his head went rolling, so I collected it and hung it on my wall. (I bought it from a dealer at a con and haven't regretted it for a moment. It hangs in my living room. - I love his work. I need another head...)

Me:There is a lot of buzzing going on about the publishing industry’s future, electronic books, piracy, and numerous other irrelevant rumors…Do you have any predictions about the future of reading and writing? Guesses?

Jaleta:People are always going to want stories. They've been around since we had language. The way we tell them and transmit them may change, but good storytellers will always be needed. My day job involves interactive story-telling in high-tech starship simulators ( Similar principle to writing a novel, different setting and audience. Whether people sit down with a book or listen to a story or watch a movie, storytellers are needed. I hope the publishing industry is around for a long time, but I think they need to change their perception of books. Audio books and ebooks are here to stay. So are print editions.

Me:Your site says you do Graphic Design as well. I started out in Art school, and know a few of my followers do Art as well. Do you ever find yourself torn between the two, or has it been fairly easy to balance both worlds?

Jaleta:I do page layout and design. I can make your content look pretty, but if you want something drawn, hire a real artist. I satisfy my artistic urges by making quilts and wall hangings and cooking.

Me:Thanks so much for visiting with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Jaleta:Keep writing, keep dreaming, keep telling stories. Life is so much richer with good stories. Thanks!


Jaleta Clegg was born some time ago. She’s filled the years since with many diverse activities, such as costuming, quilting, cooking, video games, reading, and writing. She’s been a fan of classic sci-fi books and campy movies since she can remember. Her collection of bad sci-fi movies is only rivaled by her collection of eclectic CD’s (polka, opera, or Irish folk songs, anyone?).

Her day job involves an inflatable planetarium, numerous school children, and starship simulators. Her summer job involves cooking alien food for space camp. She writes a regular column in Abandoned Towers Magazine–fancy dinner menus for themed parties.

Her first novel, Nexus Point (, is now in print from Cyberwizard Productions. She has stories published in Bewildering Tales, Abandoned Towers, and Darwin’s Evolutions. Links are available at

Jaleta lives in Utah with her husband, a horde of her own children, and two ancient, toothless cats. She wants to be either Han Solo or Ursula the Sea Witch when she grows up. If she ever does.

She also detests referring to herself in the third person, but sometimes she bows to necessity.



Lynn Andrade said...

Fabulous! Awesome interview. Yay for bad sci-fi! My family teases me, I'm glad I'm not the only one. :D

Anonymous said...