Jena Gregoire wears MANY hats. Writing under 2 pen names, running Pure Textuality PR and her book review/interview site Pure Textuality in addition to her full time job is enough to make you crawl back into bed. But Jena is an entrepreneur pioneering the digital landscape, and she "wears" each of her hats with style and a hint of sassiness. Read more about her.
What is your name?
My name is Jena Gregoire and I write under the pen names J.M. Gregoire and Jena Syde (debut release for this name coming soon).
Describe your books/genre to our readers.
I have two different series. The Demon Legacy series (written under J.M. Gregoire) is urban fantasy/paranormal romance. Think of it this way – a sort of cross between Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A strong female lead with lots of things that go bump in the night. My Killer Instinct series (written under the pen name Jena Syde) is urban fantasy/thriller. This one will be a series but each book is a standalone novel. They push the boundaries of almost being horror novels, but not quite.
How and why did you become an author? Do you write full-time?
I have always written as far back as I can remember, mostly short stories in journals. I started writing my first novel in 2005 and in 2006, between life getting in the way and my total disinterest in relinquishing creative control of my book to a publisher, I had to shelf the book. In 2011, the self-publishing boom was really getting up and sputtering. I ended up meeting a few indie authors due to my review site. The more I talked to them, the more interested I became in the idea behind it. I hauled out the shelved book, dusted it off, and started a complete and total rewrite. That one book has now become the first two books of the Demon Legacy series and has spawned the mapped out ideas for two more (so far) in that series. In regards to writing full-time, I wish! My ultimate goal is to write and do indie author PR full-time. However, for the time being, I still work a day job.
I must ask you about the BRILLIANT!!!!! "Open Letter to Indie Authors" post you had on your blog. What prompted you to go for it? What has been the response? (And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for writing it.)
Let me preface this whole answer with one thing: when I wrote the Open Letter, I fully expected that no one was going to read it. I am very active on Twitter and Facebook, but I honestly expected it to get ignored because I really don’t get a lot of traffic on my author website. All that being said, the Open Letter was me venting, saying what EVERYONE has been whispering about for a long time now, but was too afraid to say for fear of the repercussions. One day, I just realized that the only possible way for someone to be pissed about what I was saying was if they themselves were guilty of it.
When I first dipped my toes into the indie author pool, it was soooooo much fun. I have been lucky enough to have made a huge number of amazing friends in the indie author community. There’s no drama between us and we are all cheerleaders for one another. Outside of that circle… I see authors who are cranking out good books that aren’t ready to be published because they have this self-imposed deadline they feel they NEED to meet. I see authors metaphorically clawing each other’s eyes out all over social media (I see a LOT of trash talking). I see authors who are committing to appearances and bailing at the last minute to go do something better, leaving the event coordinators and their FANS high and dry. If everyone took a step back and started acting like mature, rational adults with dignity and basic professionalism, the rest of the publishing industry wouldn’t view our community as a literary cesspool with just a few hidden gems. I genuinely believe it is the other way around and it’s time for everyone to start conducting themselves in a way that proves that theory.
The reception of the Open Letter has been absolutely overwhelming. As I said, I honestly didn’t think anyone was even going to read it. lol Instead, it circulated the interwebz at an alarming rate. I have had exactly four negative pieces of feedback on it. I had one Negative Nancy who basically said “Why did you even bother? What do you think you’re going to change?” To that one I say PFFFFFFFFTTTTTT!!!! Pessimism isn’t welcome here! The other three were people complaining about my use of profanity. For those, the way I figure it is if all you can find to complain about is my use of the F-Bomb, I still count it a win. I did, however, post an update to letter letting people know that we have heard the language complaint and I will no longer be approving comments that rag about me swearing. It’s on my blog. I can swear if I want to. ;)
In a perfect world, how would the Indie community operate? How do you envision the future of book publishing?
Oh, first and foremost, they’d drop the 7th grade crap. Seriously. When I am coordinating events, I now have to field a long list of requests: “I can’t be put anywhere near so-and-so.” “Please assign me to a signing table on the opposite end of the venue from Jane Doe.” “John Smith and I had a falling out. I demand he be removed from the event.” It goes on and on and on. In any other job, your boss would respond with something along the lines of SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP! Act like an adult. It’s time to get over the petty garbage and work together.
I would love to see the indie author community mutually supporting each other. Stop talking smack behind each other’s backs. Don’t say anything about an author that you haven’t said to their face! That’s a big one. A big part of the drama that goes on is Author A says something to Author B on Facebook about Author C. Author B laughs along and then promptly turns around and tells Author C because they’re also friends. Author C then launches SMarmageddon, the social media apocalypse of wars, getting all of his/her buddies to gang up on Author A online. ….All because Author A wouldn’t just go to Author C to begin with and talk it out in private. All the crap can be avoided, people. Just stop. For the love of Pete, go watch Mean Girls! That’s how ridiculous it looks.
I am not, nor do I claim to be, perfect, but, as I mentioned in an earlier question, I have a HUGE circle of indie author friends that are all very supportive to each other, and even with all those unique brains and differing opinions, we SOMEHOW manage to NEVER get into one of these schoolyard arguments. Not a single one. I can say that with the utmost confidence. It has never happened. The reason it has never happened is we are honest with each other when asked for an opinion, we don’t run around talking smack about each other, and, the thing I think it the most important key, we don’t look at each other as competition. We view each other as a fellow indie author, a family of sorts. And it is DAMN peaceful.
Your public relations business, Pure Textuality PR, and your book review/interview site, Pure Textuality, are both successful business ventures. Tell us about these businesses and how you find time to write, blog, review and run a PR company.
Let’s see… Pure Textuality started first in May 2011. I was a one-man review team and I posted when I could. I ended up discovering many fantastic indies and by the beginning of 2012, approximately half of the reviews on my site were for indie published titles. We are now a team of 19 reviewers, 10 of which are indie authors. Pure Textuality PR just sort of spun off from there. I have a lot of background in doing PR/Marketing for an indie record label I used to own/operate, so when I became an author, I started doing my own PR/Marketing rather than hiring someone. Then I started helping out author friends of mine. Then I started actually offering the services to the indie author community as a whole. I try to keep the prices as low as possible as most indies are on a tight budget. I’m not doing it to get rich off of it or anything, but I try to make enough to make the time I invest worth it for me to do. As for how I make the time, that’s a good question. If you can figure it out, please let me know. Lol I work off of one of those to-do lists that never ends. I scratch one item off and add three more. It’s a constantly rotating list. Every time I get just idle enough to think about things to do, I find that I pile more onto my plate. I like being busy so it works for me. The majority of my reviews that I post are now done as audiobooks that I listen to while working my day job. One weekend a month, I set aside time to just read and in that weekend, I will burn through 4-6 books depending on my attention span.
What are 3 things most people don't know about you?
Well, I am pretty open on my social media so there isn’t a lot the general public isn’t privy to. Assuming you’ve never been to my Facebook page, let’s go with: - My son and I were both born on Halloween. - I think there should be a national holiday recognizing whoever invented footie pajamas. - I am a great, big nerdy fan girl for Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith as writers and everything they’ve created.
Do you have any special projects or plans for 2014?
Well, I have Speak of the Devil, book two in my Demon Legacy series, coming out late Spring/early Summer. However, I think that is going to be my only release this year as I am coordinating a massive 4 day convention in October, the 2014 Pure Textuality Convention in Minneapolis Minnesota. That is taking up a lot of my time this year. However, if I manage my time right, I may also have Bad Wolf, the first book in the Killer Instinct series, coming out in the fall. It all depends on my time management.
Connect With Her
I am a teency weency bit chatty so please feel free to hit me up anytime!
by MRH, CMO