Friday, September 28, 2012

Leslie Langtry's Past Life...blah...blah...blah...

So, there's this past analyzer app on facebook, I think it may have come from Hellie - but with my memory, who knows? 

Anyway, you plug in your name and birth date or something and it comes up with your past lives.  I'm sure there's some little supernatural algorithm, or a little leprechaun on a treadmill in my laptop that makes this happen.

As you can see, in my past life, I was a male, born in 1664, in Greenland.  I was a shepherd/horseman/forester who was killed by a Greenland.

This appeals to the writer in me, mainly because I wonder how a tiger got all the way to Greenland in 1737, and why I'm a shepherd on a horse, in a forest.  Maybe a pirate had a pet tiger (one that wouldn't eat him, presumably - but would still want to eat me), and he was shipwrecked on the shores of Greenland - although this seems a bit dicey to me because pirates preferred the Caribbean and sunny climes, right?

As we know, Greenland is misnamed, because it's mostly snow and ice, right?  So what was I shepherding...polar bears?  Yetis?  And where did I get the horse?  He could've swum ashore in the shipwreck from the pirate - but wouldn't the tiger/yetis/polar bears eat him long before I found him?

And why would I be shepherding polar bears or yetis?  Isn't 'shepherding' a derivative of 'sheep herding?'  Wouldn't I be a polarbearherd or yetiherd instead?   You herd sheep for their wool and meat.  I guess you could do the same with a polar bear or yeti...but I'd definitely need more than a shepherd's crook to manage them.

No, if I were herding large, scary predators, I'd have some sort of flintlock rifle, right?  I mean, I'd have to defend myself if the bears/yetis ever decided they've had enough of being herded.  But if I had a gun, why wouldn't I use it on the tiger?

You could go crazy thinking about this.  I just might've gone crazy already.

Has anyone else used this app?  What did it say about your past life?

The Assassin

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Need a Storm...A Brainstorm!

So I've started working on my next story and the basic idea and premise is really all I have at this point. I know and get my heroine. This is her story and I feel like I have a good grasp on who she is.

The hero...not so much. I know the basics of what I need to make him to set him up against the heroine, but I just can't seem to get inspired by WHO he is. What his growth will be. Hell, what his problem internally really is to be honest.

Likewise, I have no idea at this point about plot. Except they live happily ever after. LOL! Even though this is a paranormal story, I'm thinking it will be lighter on the whole "end of the world as we know it" stuff and way more focused on the romance and internal growth of my heroine. Again, this is her story and she's is who is calling for me to set her life to rights.

I've done numerous brainstorming techniques in the past week and just haven't hit on something that has worked yet. There's a whole lot of general advice out there, but not a lot of "here's what actually worked for me"

Also, I want to take the time to say ROCK ON to at least 2 other pirates who took the plunge with me and entered the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood's Golden Entry Contest on Monday! We all deserve applause for putting ourselves out there. So you can get a feel for my heroine, here is my entry which was limited to the first 50 words of the story:

So, I hope you don't mind that I'm using my day here to ask for your help pirates...what is your best brainstorming advice for a new story? What works for you? Do you normally start with a character and then build around them, or are you a plotter first and find the character as the plot develops? 

I have a presentation from 9:30-10:30 this morning, but will be asap to check comments! I hope you've got some great ideas for me - I need them!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

K.I.S.S. & TEAL: Reading for a Good Cause

Last year, AVON did a K.I.S.S. & Teal promotion featuring several wonderful books, where the purchase of the books earned a donation to the research and prevention of ovarian cancer. This year, they have even more great books for the cause, and I've already read four of them without even trying. I'm sure these are already on your autobuy list, but in case they are not--

A LADY BY MIDNIGHT (Tessa Dare): Another of the Spindle Cove series, this book charmed me from beginning to end. I had had a crush on Captain Thorne ever since he was introduced in the first book. He's so gruff and well, thorny, how could I not immediately fall for him? It's in my M.O. Tessa Dare's series have gotten better and better, and I really adore this series. Her style is lush and lyrical, and I finish each book wishing I could write a love story so beautiful. And funny. Lord, the woman is funny! That duel scene? I nearly fell out of my bed, cackling. Tessa just writes men like men...or at least how we see them. Lovable and occasionally ridiculous.

SINS OF A VIRGIN (Anna Randol): She's a bit of a newcomer in romance, but I think she's on the make to become the next big autobuy. Her writing voice is sharp and her vocabulary is a dream. You feel immersed in her world-building just from the language alone. She loves strong heroines and the kind of heroes we cut our teeth on with Julie Garwood. In this novel, our heroine--a notorious courtesan--is selling her virginity to the highest bidder. The hero has been hired as protection and as an investigator to the men who are bidding for her to make sure they can pay up. He agrees, as some of the men he'd be investigating are men he needs to get close to to unravel the mystery of his sister's death. Let the games begin. Anna Randol is making a name for herself for stories of strong heroines and espionage. Enjoy!

THE UGLY DUCHESS (Eloisa James): This woman hardly needs an introduction. Should I just cut this short and just say buy it already? Okay. Still, it doesn't hurt to add that you'll love adding this fairy tale to the rest of your Eloisa James' fairy tale collection. I always loved the ugly duckling and was always very glad that it was proved that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so take that, high school!

THE WAY TO A DUKE'S HEART (Caroline Linden): Caroline Linden is a bit of a new autobuy for me, but she is awesome. I have adored this series about whether the duke and his brothers would be found to be illegitimate and have to give up their life as they know it. I fell in love with the serious middle brother...and was charmed by the youngest, and I admit, I probably cared the least about the actual duke, Charlie. But this was a delightful book of redemption on his part, and a lovely heroine named Tessa who had once been betrayed by some ne'er do well. You have to read it just to enjoy how she handles the betrayal from the ne'er do well. It's worth a fist-pump!

There are also a couple other K.I.S.S. & Teal books part of the campaign (mysteries/thrillers), but I haven't gotten to read them so I can't offer any opinions. However, I do recognize the names and am sure they're also autobuys. :) 

Have you gotten to read any of the K.I.S.S. & TEAL books this year? What are you reading now? Any new autobuys on your lists?
Monday, September 24, 2012

Secondary Characters Talking Off-Screen

I have been typing along in my WIP for a couple months now, happily chugging along with the characters: Nellie, Broderick, Andrew, the Captain, Charity, and Steve. (Though I’ve yet to meet Steve, but whatever.) Anyway, I’m happy with them. We’re talking, we’re unfolding various scenes, and then Friday, as I’m watching a long-awaited movie on DVD, Nellie’s friend Charity came to me.

She explained a scene to me, a scene that I knew couldn’t possibly be from the book I’m writing now, but it amused me so that I humored her and typed it down. I didn’t know anything about this scene—like why she was really in England, who the man was next door who was pissing her off, or even why Nellie thought it was a great idea to give her a personal gift that would come back to bite her in the ass. Almost literally.

Before I knew it, I almost had 1500 words, and I rarely write that many words on my WIP that spontaneously. It was one of those Muse gifts. Despite that I had no other plot to the scene or Charity’s story, I saved it under Charity’s name and put it in its own folder for when the story does decide to show. After I’m done writing this one, of course. I’m guessing she’ll tell me more later. 

For whatever reason, I thought Charity might end up with Steve. I had a couple chapters in past drafts of my WIP where this was a possibility, but I’m seeing that’s not really the case. Apparently nobody wants Steve. And it also looks that my theme of “cowboy heroes” isn’t the real theme of stories going on either. Suffragettes is the theme. Or so I’ve been told.

There’s apparently a lot I was mistaken about.

This is not abnormal when it comes to my characters, and many of them like to show up with scenes from other books and tempt me away from my current project, but not this time. This time I feel like a teacher who has a handle on the classroom this time, and given the needy kid some attention, but directed the class back to the subject at hand. (Let’s not tell my father that. He might get his hopes up again.)

So tell me about your experiences: do random characters tell you their stories out of turn? Do you write down notes and proceed with your WIP, or do you get lured by their story for the new one? If you had a theme to your books, do you know what it is? How are you doing on your WIP? Any pearls?
Friday, September 21, 2012

Zombies on Segways


It’s the best thing I’ve come up with all week. Some days, I do wish I could animate. I can envision the entire thing as a comic book…

Yup, my creative brain has bid me farewell and aside from sending me these sweet tidbits of bizarreness, it’s sipping mai tais on some tropical beach, ignoring me.

I don’t really need it. I can muddle through and do things without it. I can write, I can create the hard way, the more steadfast, routine way.

And I’m gonna do it. As soon as I’m back home and no longer on Mom patrol.

I know enough about plot developments and scenes and all that stuff; I can still create without a brain directing the symphony. There’s a lot one can do with a busted drum and a zombie on a Segway.

I’ll show that rebellious bit of grey matter!

What would your zombie do with a Segway?
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Garbage Drafting

I’m not sure what else to call this.  Sorry folks.

I’m writing my first draft of this story, tentatively titled SINCE THEIR AFFAIR.  My last story took longer than I wanted to finish.  It took me two years from start of draft until I finally stopped editing/revising the thing this spring. Only 6 months of that was revision.

I expected I would get faster as I wrote more.  Huh. About that.

I know I had a lot going on.  I was pregnant and then I had a baby.  And after that, there was the gigantic time suck that is mothering a newborn.  (I mean that in the best way.  Kisses to my loves.)  I rarely had time to jump back in the saddle or even manage a few minutes here or there to gaze longingly at the horse.

If I were one of my friends, I would remind them that sometimes life has other plans and that family is more important than anything else.  And I would say, “all of our journeys take different time” and “we’re not all on the same exact path” or even, “STOP being so hard on yourself right effing now!”  I would even advise my writing friends that this is the time we should be feeling out our process, this pre-signing-of-contract time.

I’m trying to take my own advice and give myself a break. It's in my nature to be hard on myself. I am an annoying Virgo.

One problem I found with a long first draft phase is that I lost momentum a lot and had to regain it. As I revised, I found lots of places where the tone felt different and realized it was probably because I wrote that piece a year earlier.

So, since this is a new book and a new start, I've decided to set a goal to force myself through the first draft as fast as possible, faster than I ever have.

I’ve been doing okay so far. Since the beginning of the month, I’ve written almost 14K words.  That’s a pretty good push for me. I’m usually about a 5K a week kind of writer.  This is a bit more than that.  So, I’m happy.

Here’s what I’m doing to write fast:
1)      Plot.  I’m focusing on just getting the “what happens” part of the story down.  What do they physically do?  Some of that is wrapped up in what they say.  So that’s what I’m writing.  What are they saying and what are they physically doing. 

2)    I’m giving myself permission to write ugly.  Seriously, I’m like a monkey slinging poop. It feels like it’s all clichés and bad dialogue tags and weak/boring verbs.  I keep telling myself I’ll fix it later.  I hope it’s not like trying to push a boulder up the hill when I’m done.

3)    I’ve even written some parts out of order.  This is incredibly new to me. (Bad dialogue tags and weak verbs are not, well, new for me. *ahem*)  If it comes to me and I can’t get it out of my head, I put it down on paper.

So far, the tapping of keyboard keys has drowned out the internal editor. Mostly.

But, I could use any help you’ve got!  Tell me, how do you write fast?  Any suggestions to make writing a first draft easier?

Tuesday Review: When Hellion Buys Exactly the Right Book

You'll recall a few months ago I purchased a book that I thought was a continuation of another series by a different author--but in lucky fortunstance (yeah, I'm making up words now), it was an AWESOME BOOK, completely debut, and therefore completely sucking me into a brand new series with a brand new autobuy author for me. An Affair With Mr. Kennedy blew my little pirate socks, and I I furtively went around stalking Jillian Stone's author page, dying to know when the next one would come out.

It came out this month--or actually August 28--and the second is just as great as the first, folks. There is no sophomore anxiety of "Nothing could have possibly topped the debut"--the dog hunted. The dog hunted just fine.

A DANGEROUS LIAISON WITH DETECTIVE LEWIS is a delicious confection of romance, action, and suspense, with even more 1890 circa set toys of James Bond and a little Wild, Wild West via London to entertain you. Jillian is an artist--I'm telling you--she had me hooked within a paragraph because the opening scene has to do with two of these agents being undercover outside of a molly house. Talk about a scene grabber!

The men are immediately reassigned to new duties, and our rakish Rafe goes to Edinburgh to protect the daughter of a murdered inventor. The only problem is the heroine, Fanny, isn't going to be as excited to see her ex-fiance who broke her heart five years ago. The truth comes out and the chase begins as these two characters dodge death at every turn.

The story does read in all the good ways of a Wild, Wild West episode and a Robert Downey, Jr version of Sherlock Holmes movie rolled together, all those near misses and great escapes...and a lot of naughty quips to have you laughing even as you're breathing a sigh of relief as they live yet again.

The villain is fascinating--he's not a one-dimensional person who is evil for evil's sake. For a moment or two, you really do wonder who the bad guy really is and how good is technology and innovation if they hurt people in their pursuit of progress?

Best of all, I'm so ramped up for Agent Gunn's book this November, I'm going to go around begging to see if I can possibly get an advanced reading copy...I thought Rafe was sexy, but the scene with Agent Gun--oooh, lah, lah!

So what great books have you read lately? What are you looking forward to this fall? You already know my list...Jillian Stone and MORE Jillian Stone. Help me pass the time until November!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Who Am I To Judge?

I've rarely entered contests and until last year, had never volunteered to judge one. Seriously. Who am I to judge another author's work? I don’t even feel qualified to write reviews and I've been reading Romance for more than 25 years. But I bit the bullet and judged the Golden Heart this past winter.

The best part about judging this contest is that you don't give feedback. Nothing. No comments. No suggestions. But no praise either. Which is one of the downsides. The other is that you have to score the work with a completely subjective number. With only five scores given on each entry, your number could make or break that author's chance to final.

All that said, I actually enjoyed the experience. I liked reading what other authors are doing. Mine was the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category (which sadly will no longer exist) so the stories were wildly different. Both from what I normally read and from each other.

So when the call went out for judges in the Golden Pen contest (put on by the Golden Network and a great way to prep for the Golden Heart) I threw my judging hat into the ring again. I've read two of the three entries sent and am highly impressed by the quality of both. Not sure I'd volunteer to judge many other contests. I've judged my local chapter contest and struggled with how to give feedback to writers who seemed to be early in the learning process.

But then that's an assumption and might not be true. We've all heard the horror stories of judge feedback. From the writer I knew who got one that said English was clearly not her first language to another who got the ever uplifting comment that she should give up writing entirely.

So do I say, "You might want to try XX craft book and an e-course on YY?" What if this person has the book and took the class and considers those two areas her strong points? The writer ego is so fragile, I'd hate to be the one to stomp on someone else's.

Anyone else taken on the difficult task of judging contests? How have you handled the feedback? Do you stick with genres close to your heart or venture out for something new to you? Ever judged an entry and then tried to ferret out the writer's name because you loved it so much and wanted to read the rest?
Friday, September 14, 2012

Home of the North Wind

I just got back from an Alaskan cruise…well, I got home about a week ago. In fact, last Friday, I was in Skagway, which translates as ‘home of the North wind.’

It was windy there, especially by the dock where the Star Princess tied up. Cold, harsh, wind. But the sky was clear and the little town was charming once we got passed the typical cruise line expensive gemstone shops.

You find those in any port the cruise ships dock at. I’m pretty sure the cruise lines have some stake in these places, but like Aaron, the gentle guy who led the tour I took later that day basically said, “Merchants have always taken advantage of those who step off the ships this part of the world. It’s just part of the gig.”

And he is right. Skagway was the gateway to the Klondike gold rush and most of the money was made in town, from those passing through.

Living in California, I’m aware of gold rush history, but it’s different in Alaska. I think it’s because I grew up reading Jack London and fell in love with the struggle and beauty of living in Alaska. Gazing upward at the massive rocky sides that surround Skagway is humbling and to consider what it must have been like to know you had to get over those before you arrived at the gold fields? Man.

Now, I went on this cruise hoping for some renewal of my inner writer. Some story ideas, a sense of renewal to push me forward. In Skagway, I found something. I’m not sure what it was, really. I think it came from the tour of Jewell Gardens and Garden City Glassworks. And Aaron.

I got his jokes. I might have been the only one on the tour who did. When he said ‘ROUS’ in reference to the size of rhubarb that grew in the garden, I got it. (You don’t? Well, think Princess Bride and rodents of unusual size.) He wandered before us in the garden, talking about the plants, what they were good for, inviting us to touch them, taste them…then he turned us over to the glassblowers and I sat so close I could feel the heat off oven every time it was opened.

Several times I found myself walking next to Aaron. His wife worked as a tour guide at the Red Onion Saloon, in town. She gave tours of the renowned former brothel and this was the year the two of them were staying in Skagway for the winter instead of returning to Southern California once the cruise ship season was over.

I envied him. Oh, not the cold and the snow and all of that. But the sense of a tiny community, finding what entertainment they could, surrounded by an extremely hostile environment during a long winter. But oh! The simplicity! The low demanding holiday expectations! The hours of quiet…

Aaron made me think about a character I’d created for my dystopian urban fantasy. Dave, the barista. And a story I had in my head…Dave’s story, started to jell. They two look nothing alike, but the humor, the quiet intelligence, the desire for a simpler life…it started to fall into place.

I hadn’t planned on Dave’s story until I’d written book two, but I think it’s going to leapfrog ahead because it’s right there, dancing in the brain. Dave, the son of two phenomenally intelligent scientists, who rebels and wanders, working Renaissance Faires, organic gardens, playing tour guide at historical sites, dressing in costumes…working as a barista when nothing is available on the circuit. Until the world changes and his parents, who wanted to keep him safe, made sure he survived. But now he has to find his way to where they are, to ask why and demand answers…

At first, I thought I’d have him in Skagway and travel by foot to Yosemite, but later I thought… ‘that is a bit much.’ So, I moved him to Seattle. But I may decide Skagway is doable. I so want to include that little gem…

Am I writing? Not yet. I am brainstorming and making notes. Mom managed to end up in the ER while all of her kids were on the cruise. She’s back home and I’m here, with her, until she’s ready to be on her own. It’s hard to get beyond the day-to-day and work on the actual story, but I’m close…

I know we’ve chatted about stuck times the last few months, and getting it moving again. I believe I’ve found my nudge and thank god, it didn’t require I get a massive kick in the ass.

Skagway was good, cold, but good.

So, do I start this story in Skagway or Seattle? Thoughts? And I need a romantic interest for him…a lost love and an eventual discovery of new love…I was thinking a scientist, just to screw with him… Has travel ever pushed you that extra bit? Or meeting someone who just cried out to be included in a book?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Serial Writing

Musical influence: “Rise” Parabelle (Your Starry Eyes Will Never Make Us Even, 2012)
Whatever makes you rise up in tragedy, take this useless heart and watch me survive. Right in front of you and it breaks my heart to watch you survive without it.”

When I decided to write an alternate universe urban fantasy, I knew it would be a lot of work. I knew I'd have to take notes and be organized and keep a log list of characters and make up family trees. I'd have to map out the realms and characterize the beings. Descriptions would need forming. Worlds built up. What I didn't realize was I'd write the entire first story in third person and realize I wanted it in first person. Or that, I'd realize I wanted to write two series coinciding, both mother and daughter's stories happening simultaneously in different realms.

Or the daughter is already “older” in her first book than her own mother by the time the mother's third book is written.

Why as a writer must I make things more complicated for myself?

I'm a fan of series stories. I like growing with the characters. I like the relationships and the plot ARCs and growth. I like seeing the characters as the writer sees them after the first story is done and the next one is growing. I think this is a big reason I love fan fiction. Not only do I love reading the stories the author comes up with their canon characters. I love to read what the readers come up with for these characters too. Our experiences and differences in life give each of us an unique view on life and on the characters we read in stories. For me, a well written fan fiction about a series I love is like reading an extension of the actual story. It gives me something to think about while I wait for the author to give me the real story and the direction author wants the pieces and characters to move. This inspires me to think in different directions as a writer myself. I don't want to read the same thing over and over again (unless it's Ranger and Steph getting it on because they deserve some after 19 books).

I like difference in characters. Differences in worlds. Realms to inhabit. I like short stories of the secondary characters and their lives outside of the main characters life. All the different influences on the characters in the author's world and the new influences and nuances fan fiction authors can think to add.

Do you like series stories? Those stories where the author writes the whole family falling in love? Or where the author writes about a team of people individually giving them all HFN/HEA? What's your biggest grip about series stories? And would you consider reading a series story like what I'm going to attempt- where the stories overlap one another in a A/U setting?

PS. P.Kirby, you're killing me slowly! I've tried to find you on and have failed. Please PM me. My username is cltaylor. I would LOVE to read your writing.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ahoy! Contract Dead Ahead!

I'm taking over Review Tuesday to make an announcement.


I've accepted an offer from Montlake Romance for my Anchor Island series and could not be more excited. Though you couldn't have proven that by the way I reacted to THE CALL. I was completely calm. Eerily calm. To the point my agent asked if I was okay. I feel horrible that I didn't laugh or scream or giggle or cry. My brain just shut down. It was like an out of body experience.

I promise to squeal like a cat fight at a beauty pageant the next time.

So today, we happy dance. I could never have gotten to this point without the coolest crew of writing pirates sailing the publishing seas, who just happen to be the most supportive women I have ever had the fortune to meet. To my Captain (Hellie), who spent five years telling me I could do this. Thank goodness she was right!

There are countless others who helped/pushed/challenged me along the way. To my daughter who never doubted, my friends who called me on my whining, and my agent who made my dreams come true.

Look for my first book out in print, digital, and audio coming up in 2013! (That is so cool to type. Whoohoo!)
Monday, September 10, 2012

Fabulous Interview with the Fabulous...Jillian Stone

Hellion: Jillian! It is such an honor to visit you, and I love your office. [glancing around at the various interesting instruments littering every available workspace, along with parts that don’t seem connected to anything, and something that looks alarmingly like a rocket] I’m surprised you let me come into your super-secret-agent workspace. JACK! Put that down! What did I tell you about touching?

Jillian: Ahoy there, Ms. Hellion and Jack! Yes, you’ve nailed it all right. My writer’s cave-like office is filled with brass clockwork gadgets and steam-powered gizmos for the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard to use in their crime solving efforts––like dry cell battery flashlights, or as the Brits call them: torches.

Hellion: I’m sorry about Jack. He usually does the interviews, and he also loved the first book in this series, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, but I won the coin toss. I would have left him at home, but he couldn’t bear to miss the landship and the submersible. Will he be able to see more of them?

Jillian: If you read the debut novel, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, then you’ve met Rafe Lewis, the hero of A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis. But you haven’t met his estranged ex fiancée, Fanny, nor have you experienced them together––which is a big part of the fun of this book. Rafe and Fanny’s adventure is what I like to call a road trip romance that includes trains, a landship, a submersible and velocipedes (or as we know them, bicycles). Here’s the jacket blurb:

When Fanny Greyville-Nugent's father suffers a gruesome death in the clutches of his own machine, mourning his loss is not the beautiful heiress's only heartbreak. Scotland Yard is convinced her father was targeted in a plot to halt the rise of industry, and Fanny's former fiancé, the dashing and dubious detective Raphael "Rafe" Lewis, has been assigned to the case.
For the estranged ex-lovers, bringing the notorious assassins to justice proves as tumultuous as quelling pent-up desires. Fighting peril and passion at every turn of a dangerous journey from Edinburgh to London, they are pursued by an anarchist group hell-bent on destroying her father's mysterious entry into the London Industrial Exposition.
When an astonishing discovery about the couple's failed engagement surfaces, the sleuthing duo realize they can trust no one. Rafe confesses new details about his infidelity and Fanny risks all to avenge her father's murder. But will Rafe and Fanny triumph over the pain of their past?

Hellion: I know Mr. Kennedy’s book was the book that won the Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense. Can you tell us what it was like to enter that contest—and to win? Our bo’sun, Terri, was a nominee for the Golden Heart this year. We hear of so many great books that are nominated; some that win; and many more that go on to be published.

Jillian: Congrats to Terri! It’s quite an honor to final in the GH. An Affair with Mr. Kennedy was originally titled The Yard Man. I entered the 2010 Golden Heart after the manuscript had finaled in a number of RWA chapter contests. (A good way to get your manuscript ready for the Golden Heart.) I had been entering the manuscript in either historical or romantic suspense categories, and it had finaled a few more times in the romantic suspense category. I’m afraid that was the extent of my GH strategy! I was just floored when I finaled, but the dream to reality thing is really scary for me.

On my way to Orlando for the RWA Nationals, I changed planes in Dallas and noticed that I had received a call with a 212 area code, yes, that’s right––NYC. I pressed the return call button and it turned out to be Kensington with an offer on a different manuscript I had just started to market, The Seduction of Phaeton Black. So I arrived at nationals with a three book offer, and the GH award ceremony. At the end of a hectic week, I had won the GH and met the person who would become my agent, Richard Curtis.

All very whirlwind, and pretty overwhelming, but the glamour ends the minute you return home and start writing. I had never written books to a contract deadline before. Let me tell you, it’s been interesting!

Hellion: Ha, I know some of us can identify with that! In Mr. Kennedy’s book, one of his colleagues is Rafe Lewis, who I immediately fell for because he was dark, brooding, gorgeous, and a total ladykiller. Was this a correct deduction? What is the real Rafe Lewis really like?

Jillian: Rafe has secrets. Things he’s not sharing with anyone, including Scotland Yard. In An Affair with Mr. Kennedy you met his more public personae. In A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis, you will meet and get to know many surprising sides of Rafe. I can’t give too much away, as I do not want to be a spoiler!
Unknown to the publicat large, the dry cell battery is created in a secret laboratory funded by theWar Office. This is the first battery suitable for portable electrical devices,as does not spill or break easily and works in any orientation. A number of these prototypetorchlight devices are tested by Scotland Yard, whose Special Branch detectivesrespond favorably to them.
Hellion: My next favorite discovery is that the heroine was named Fanny, which isn’t too far off my own given name. A delicious man, a heroine who I could imagine to be a bit like me (hey, we all have our fantasies)—and voila, I discover they are reunited lovers. My favorite fantasy to slip into! Why did you pick this trope? Besides being natural to the story, do you favor stories with reunited lovers too? What do you think is the draw?

Jillian: OMG, it sounds like I hit on a couple of favorites of yours, and I do hope you enjoy. Pressure’s on! I think what I love is heroes and heroines with baggage, and if their less than perfect past involves each other––even better.

Hellion: Your series—and the other series you write about Phaeton Black—features many elements of steampunk. What elements will the readers be seeing in Fanny and Rafe’s book? And how do you create this magical-scientific world?

Jillian: Both series do incorporate elements of steampunk. Think of The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard as late Victorian period James Bond characters––with steampunk gadgets and vehicles. I do exaggerate some of the slightly futuristic gadgets, like the flashlight (torch) I mentioned earlier.

Hellion: Since we’re a group of scribbling writers, we love to hear Call Stories. What was your Call Story? And what piece of advice would you give fellow writers?

Jillian: I think I pretty much told my call stories. First, the GH finaling call, which is off the charts. Then the call in the Dallas airport on my way to nationals with the book offer. I probably could have flown to Orlando from Dallas without a plane! Then winning the GH. Anne Stuart opened the envelope and said: ”...and the winner is... and called my name. Really thrilling! Then a few weeks later, my agent called me with the news that An Affair with Mr. Kennedy had sold to Pocket––which was really awesome!
Known affectionatelyas "Roger" by Special Branch Yard men, the skeleton key is capable ofopening any lock regardless of make or type. This key has an interestingrole to play in the upcoming, A Private Duel with Agent Gunn.
Everyone says my call story is a fairy tale story. But there are problems with being a real life human being in a happily ever after tale. No matter who you are, you’re going to take your knocks as a writer. Too much good luck can cause resentments with critique partners and writer friends, and the snarky reviewers are...everywhere these days. Trust me, there’s good reason the rocky road to becoming a published author is so difficult––it’s preparing you for how tough it’s going to get.

Hellion: What’s up next for the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard?

Jillian: There’s an e-novella for Pocket Star coming out in early November, and another full length novel the end of November! A Private Duel with Agent Gunn. You will meet Agent Gunn in Rafe and Fanny’s story.
The Webley Mk I .455Revolver. Standard issue small-arm for Special Branch Yard men.
Hellion: Jillian, I just want to thank you again for letting me stop by and I hope you will stopy by again in November when Agent Gunn hits the str—JACK! Put down that gun—is that a gun? Whatever, I know it’s a weapon and for God’s sake, don’t point it at me! [there’s an explosion and Hellion screams as she and Jillian dive to the floor, unhurt; Jack is covered in gunpowder soot] I’m really sorry about Jack.

Jillian: Thanks so much for having me, Hellion. No need to apologize for Jack, as long as it’s Jack Sparrow. Do you think it’s the gunpowder that gives Johnny Depp those smoky eyes?

I have a question for readers. I am currently working on three more synopses for The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. When you read romantic suspense, do you like an equal mix of action, suspense and romance, or do you prefer the romance to dominate the story?
A signed copy of A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis to one lucky commenter chosen at random!