It’s That Time…and I Need Help!

This post is completely unrelated either to writing or to romance novels…well, perhaps tangentially to romance novels, lol.

Here’s the sitch. My daughter is turning ten in July. And she is starting to..um…bloom. It’s clearly time to have the mother-daughter facts of life talk–particularly the “if you start bleeding, you aren’t dying” discussion–and you’d think that as a romance novelist, I would feel completely up to the task.

The truth is, I feel a bit adrift. Partly, that’s because she’s my daughter, not some abstract person. But it’s also because I have no memory of how my mother did it (she must’ve, because I didn’t freak out) and somehow, this child’s adolescence has snuck up on me. She’s always seemed young for her age–unlike most of her peers, she still loves to play with Barbies and has no interest in reading Twilight (thank the heavens!)–and because my boys are so huge and she’s just on the tall side, it’s come as something of a shock to me to discover she’s an incipient adolescent.

I’m thinking I need some external resources to help me do the job. I’m thinking a book geared toward girls her age would be a good place to start. So, what I’d like is some recommendations. True, I could go look on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but I’d rather hear from others about what books they liked in this “genre.”

So, friends, lay it on me! The sooner the better!

The Power of Positive Thinking…Or Not

It’s no secret that I have a book out on submission right now, and I’m pretty nervous about it. Although having Behind the Red Door come out the same day my agent sent out the pitch letter for the new series has been a blessing because I’m far too busy to obsess, I haven’t been so busy that I’m not thinking about it.

And what I think most of the time is that it’s not going to sell. Not because I’m down on my bad self, not because I don’t it’s a good book (on the contrary, I love the idea of this trilogy), and not because I don’t have faith in my agent. No, it all comes down to maintaining my own sanity.

I’ve always worked on the theory that one hopes for the best but never expects it. That way, when the wonderful thing happens, I am surprised and thrilled and feel like I’ve won the lottery. As a result of that attitude, I’ve won the lottery quite often. I never expected to get a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, but I did. I didn’t expect to get into the University of Chicago for graduate school, but I did. I didn’t expect to meet the man of my dreams while I was home for Christmas vacation, but I did :). And I sure as heck didn’t expect to sell Behind the Red Door to Kensington.

I’m also a big believer in putting my faith in the things I can control (honing my craft and writing the best book I can), there isn’t much point in imagining that other people (especially other people I’ve never met) will be swayed one way or another by my belief in myself. Now that my book proposal is on editor’s desks, I have no control over the outcome, and telling myself it’s going to sell is only setting myself up for disappointment if it doesn’t.

thinkyoucan

Of course, I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t sell regardless of whether I think it will or not. But I will be much less disappointed if I’m prepared for the possibility that it may not. 

None of that means I don’t think I can write another book that will sell. It just might not be this one. It might not be the next one either. But sooner or later, I’m pretty sure I’ll hit the lottery again, as long as I don’t stop playing. And I’m pretty sure you will, too, whether it’s landing an agent, selling a book, or getting your dream job–I’m convinced the only thing that truly keeps good things from happening is our unwillingness to keep trying.

And that, to me, is the power of positive thinking!

Release Day, Winner of HLC, and Raspberries for CA

champagneconfettiToday is the day! Behind the Red Door is officially out. (Please, please, keep the applause to a minimum.)

It’s actually a little anti-climactic, because I’ve heard reports of the book shipping from online retailers as early as last Monday, and several bookstores had it stocked late last week. I even have visual evidence courtesy of Evangeline Collins, who took this photo at her local Barnes & Noble last Friday.

btrdshelvedYesterday, I went out to the local bookstores, and found it on the shelves in both of the Barnes & Noble’s and the B. Dalton I visited (where I signed the stock), but not at Borders, where they seem to be adhering to the publisher’s shelving date. The customer service manager at my Borders assured me it would be out today, but I’m not sure I’ll get a chance to get over there to sign them until later this week.

If you’re hankering for a copy, but can’t get out to the store to buy one, I know of a few folks who are giving away copies today:

  • Tessa Dare and I are talking about the art of the novella on her blog and giving away a signed copy to a random commenter.
  • Courtney Milan is giving away a copy at her blog. (Last time I checked, there were no entrants, so you’ve got a good shot if you hie on over there.)
  • Ann Aguirre is giving away a third copy at The Bradford Bunch blog (contest open through tomorrow).
  • Beverley Kendall is giving away a copy PLUS a $15 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or Fictionwise here.

Speaking of free books, I believe I promised a copy of Her Lover’s Companion to one lucky commenter on Evangeline Collins’ interview. According to the randomizer, the winner of that book is Sue A. Sue, would you please email me at jackie at jackiebarbosa dot com with your snail mail address to claim your copy?

Finally, most of you have probably already heard that the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, which denies same-sex couples the right to marry. Fortunately, they also decided to keep the existing same-sex marriages intact, but it’s a rather hollow victory. I try not to be overtly political most of the time, but every once in a while, I just have to call something as I see it (or smell it). And this decision stinks.

An Interview with Evangeline Collins

hlcToday, I’d like to welcome historical romance author Evangeline Collins! I just finished reading her debut release from NAL Signet, Her Ladyship’s Companion, last week, and I loved it. Evangeline has a beautiful voice, and her love scenes are exquisitely crafted and emotionally rich. If you like your romances lush and sensual, you have to give Evangeline’s book a read!

In the Scottish countryside of Selkirk, Lady Isabella Stirling resides at Bowhill Park, serving penance for a sin that nearly ruined her family. For five years she has been condemned to a loveless marriage and confined to the estate where she does little more than tend her rose garden. With her husband absent for months at a time and few visitors, Bella lives a lonely existence, denying the passions that burn within her very soul.

Then her cousin comes for a visit and makes an outrageous suggestion: what Bella needs is a lover. A hired lover. Despite her need, Bella says no. But soon Mr. Gideon Rosedale arrives—and he is at her service for two weeks. Indulging in what she intends to be a harmless flirtation, Bella is overcome by Gideon’s intoxicating presence. And when she at last permits him to satisfy her desires, she discovers she’s done the unthinkable—she’s fallen in love.


Jackie: The hero of your debut release, Her Ladyship’s Companion, is a male prostitute (albeit a very high class one!). It’s not unusual to see courtesans as romance heroines, but male escorts are pretty much unheard of, I think. What made you choose to write such an unconventional character?

Evangeline: First and foremost, I like ‘different’ in romance novels. I like to push the boundaries, to challenge myself to try something that’s not usually done and see if I can find a way to make it work. When it comes to deciding on a hero and heroine for a book, I like to go with opposites – two people who appear totally different on the surface but actually go together perfectly. So when I was mulling over a hero for Bella, a woman who looks like an ice princess but has a heart of a tart, I couldn’t resist giving her a man like Gideon. And well…I have a thing for spice in romance novels, and casting a man like Gideon in the role of hero would be sure to guarantee many opportunities to heat things up.

Jackie: Bella, the heroine, is a rose breeder. Although there isn’t a lot of technical detail about rose breeding in the novel itself, I sense you did a lot of research into that aspect of your heroine’s interests. Could you tell us a little about how you went about it and what you learned?

Evangeline: I’m not a gardener at all. Seriously. I have these two little bushes in front of the house, below a window, and this is the third year in a row where I’ve had to dig up dead bushes and plant new ones. I’m hoping I won’t kill them this year. So I had to do a lot of research to figure out what would be in Bella’s garden and how she would care for them. Primary sources for research include the internet (American Rose Society has a wonderful site) and my mother, who is an avid gardener with a particular interest in roses.

The main thing I discovered was that there’s a big difference between the roses we know today and those in the Regency. While Empress Josephine’s love of roses led to an increase in popularity of roses and to rose breeders developing new varieties, the major advances in hybridization didn’t occur until after the Regency, so with the exception of Chinas, roses only bloomed once a year. China Roses continuously bloom, but are not very hardy to cold temperatures, so they could only thrive in Bella’s hothouse.

Jackie: Madame Rubicon, the owner of the brothel in which Gideon was raised, is quite a ruthless woman. I know you’re planning to do more books that feature her employees. Do you think she has any redeeming qualities or is she just a straight-up bitch?

She’s definitely not the most pleasant individual, but she’s not a straight-up bitch. In Seven Nights to Forever, you’ll see that she treats the female employees a bit differently than her male employees. Rubicon used to be a whore herself, so it made sense to me that she’d be a bit more sympathetic/understanding of women, but not so with the men. Still, she’s not what one would call a genuinely nice person.

Jackie: Can you tell us a little more about your next book, Seven Nights to Forever?

Evangeline: It features another employee from Rubicon’s brothel, except this time the employee is a beautiful young woman named Rose (yeah…I’ve realized I seem to have a thing for roses now). She’s the daughter of a respectable country gentleman who’s been forced by circumstances to find a lucrative line of work to support her younger brother. Rose first tried life in the demimondaine, but after her experiences with an unpleasant protector, she relocated to Rubicon’s, where she works one week out of every month. When she returns from her country home to London to start a new week of work, she meets James, a wealthy merchant who was forced into an aristocratic marriage of convenience to gain entry into the ton. And their seven nights together lead to a chance at forever. ….all right, it’s more than a chance. They will get their HEA.

Jackie: You also write Regency-set m/m romance under the pen name, Ava March. Could you tell us a little more about your Ava March books? How did you get started writing m/m romance and how do you think it differs from m/f romance (if at all)?

Evangeline: The main differences between Ava and Evangeline are that my Ava books are significantly hotter, they are all novellas, and the books feature two heroes instead of a hero and a heroine. Other than that, I think the writing feels the same – same time period, both character driven, and heavy on the sex and angst. Well, Ava’s a lot heavier on the sex. *g*

The heroes are always my favorite characters in romance novels. I’m a woman and I know how a woman thinks – no great mystery there – but men are a different beast all together. I find them very fascinating. I also am quite the fan of m/m romances. So one day I decided to try to write my own. Well, it actually was a bit of a dare between a friend and I – we each started writing m/m books at the same time (there is definitely courage in numbers. LOL). I think the main differences between m/f and m/m are in the character and power dynamics, and that’s why m/m romances appeal to me. In them, men can be more…vulnerable, I guess is the right word. You can see a different side of a man in a m/m relationship than in a m/f relationship. It’s hard to explain, but once you’ve read a couple m/m books, you’ll see the differences and they are not just physical differences (…get your mind out of the gutter!*g*) – it’s in the way the men relate to each other. I love the challenge of keeping my Ava heroes strong men who fall in love with each other, in the Regency era when such love was punishable by death.

But my first love was m/f historical romances, and I love to write m/f romances which aren’t quite as heavy on the sex. Hence why I have both Ava and Evangeline.

Jackie: What draws you to the Regency period? Are there any other historical time periods that interest you as settings for future books?

Evangeline: It’s hard to define exactly what draws me to the Regency period. Maybe it’s because the first batch of historical romances I ever read were regencies. I do adore the adherence to proper behavior coupled with the element of indulgence. I also enjoy reading medieval and Victorian romances, but I don’t think I’d ever write outside the Regency. For some reason, all my ideas for books and characters take place during the Regency.

Jackie: How and when did you start writing “for real”? I think all authors can divide their careers into “before I got serious” and “after.” When and how did you cross that divide?

Evangeline: When I joined my local RWA chapter. I had been writing in complete and utter ignorance for about a year, just scribbling in my notebook with the vague idea that I’d try to write a book, and then I discovered there was a local romance author group in my area, and from there discovered RWA. Talking with other writers about writing really gave me the drive to get serious about it.

Jackie: As an author who’s both epublished and NY print published, can you tell us what you see as the advantages (and/or disadvantages) of both? Do you recommend starting in epublishing as a step on the way to a print career, or do you see it as a goal in its own right?

Evangeline: I actually sold to Berkley before selling to Samhain and Loose Id – it was when I was submitting HLC to agents that I decided to try to write the Ava books. I truly see e-publishing as a goal in its own right. In fact, I see them both as very worthy avenues for an author’s career. It all depends on the particular author and where they want their career to go, and what fits best for them. Some authors use e-pubs as a step to a print career, some use them as their end goal, and others, like myself, would like their career to include both.

Jackie: Our readers may or may not know this, but it just so happens that we share an agent, Kevan Lyon of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. I’d love to hear how you landed her as an agent and also a little about your sale of Her Ladyship’s Companion to Berkley.

Evangeline: Quite honestly, I’m still amazed that as a newbie, unpublished author, I was able to land her as an agent. I sent her the first 50 pages and a query for HLC, and she replied back with a request for a full. Six weeks later I got a request for some revisions. We talked on the phone about the book, about the agency, about her and how she works – pretty much the conversation gave me a good feel that we’d work very well together. I revised a couple chapters and sent them to her, to make sure I was on the right track. And that evening I got an offer for representation. It was March 17th – yes, it was a very good St. Patrick’s Day! I, of course, accepted her offer and went back to work to finish the revisions.

Once those were done, Kevan gave the book another read and then she sent it off to editors. And on May 15th, I accepted an offer from Berkley. I know I’ve been very lucky to have landed an agent with the first book I ever queried, and to have made a sale with that same book. That’s why when asked to sum up my path to publication with one word, I always say ‘lucky’.

Jackie: What’s the best thing about being a writer? And what’s the worst?

Evangeline: The best part is coming up with new book ideas. I love mulling over concepts, fleshing out characters, plotting out books. I was one of those kids who could play with my Barbies by myself all day and be happy as a clam, so I love to just think up new books. I also love having written those books I was excited to write. But actually writing them…not always the height of fun. Weird, I know. I love writing, but I hate writing the first draft. Sometimes it can be painful to get the words to go onto the page the way I want them to. But once the words are there, it’s back to being fun again and I can edit and tweak and mold the thing into the book I envision it to be.


So, if you didn’t want to read Evangeline’s book before, I’m betting you do now! Lucky for you, she’s generously agreed to give away a copy to a random commenter. You have until next Monday (when I want the blog back because it’s release day…whee!) to post your comment and be entered into the drawing.

Also, if you have any questions of your own for Evangeline, rumor has it she’ll be around to answer periodically.

Winner of AHOW, and More Chances to Win Prizes

All right, it’s Thursday. The randomizer spit out Sara Hurt as the winner of the copy of A Hint of Wicked. Sara, please email me at jackie at jackiebarbosa dot com with your snail mail address, and we’ll get it out to you!

Disappointed that you didn’t win? Well, there’s still a chance to win more prizes.

  • Jennifer Haymore has an interview with me on her blog today and a chance to win a copy of Behind the Red Door.
  • I’m also being interviewed by the lovely Beverley Kendall. If you enter her contest, you could win a copy of my book or a $15 gift certificate to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Fictionwise (winner’s choice).
  • Tomorrow, Evangeline Collins, author of Her Ladyship’s Companion, will be here for an interview. She will also be giving away a copy of her book. You’ll be able to enter by commenting through next Monday. I’ll draw a random winner on Tuesday night and post on Tuesday.

Finally, official release day for Behind the Red Door is next Tuesday, but I am hearing rumors that it’s already appearing on bookstore shelves. So, in honor of the first books “in the wild,” I’m offering up a $15 gift certificate to my new favorite online and brick-and-mortar bookseller, Books A Million, to the first person who sends me a photo of Behind the Red Door on a shelf in a real, live bookstore. (I love their coupon deals!)

Also, since I’m currently in Dallas on business, I will give a $40 certificate to the retailer of your choice to anyone who can point me to a bookseller in/around downtown Dallas with copies on the shelves, as I will go there and sign stock tonight. You have to get to me by 5pm today, though, since I’m only here through tomorrow morning.

An Interview with Jennifer Haymore

hintofwickedToday, I’d like to welcome Jennifer Haymore, author of A Hint of Wicked, to the blog. When I first heard about this book a few months ago, I was instantly intrigued. The premise was just too unusual not to spark my interest.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE . . .

Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his best friend and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul. . . until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands-and his wife.

TORN BETWEEN TWO HUSBANDS . . .

Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game-where the stakes are not only love . . . but life and death.

As soon as I read that hook, I was hooked. I just received my copy in the mail a few days ago and am itching to sit down and dive into it. In the meantime, I asked Jennifer a few questions about her book and writing in general. So, without further ado, here are my questions and her answers.


Jackie: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming release, A Hint of Wicked. What sparked the idea for the story of a woman who has remarried only to discover her first husband is still alive?

Jennifer: Way back in 2007, my husband and I were discussing plotlines for a new story. I told him how I love getting my characters into horrendous, impossible-to-solve problems and then helping them to figure out a solution, no matter how impossible it might sound. The upshot: The bigger the conflict, the more fun I have as a writer.

My husband thought about it a while and finally said, “What about a man returning from the grave to return to the woman he’s loved forever, only to find her with another guy?”

Hmmm…(I actually think my first verbal reaction was, “Hmmm…”) what an idea! I took it and ran with it, and haven’t looked back since. 

highlandobsessionJackie:  You’ve been writing under the pen name, Dawn Halliday, for some time, and have quite a few books out with Samhain and Ellora’s Cave, and NAL will be releasing a Dawn title soon. Could you tell us how your “Dawn” books differ from your “Jennifer” books?

Jennifer: The Dawn books, while being romances first and foremost, have a stronger erotic element than the Jennifer books do. My first New York title as Dawn, Highland Obsession, will release from NAL/Signet Eclipse in August.

[Editorial comment: Ooooh, hot cover. I’d like one to go, please :).]

Jackie: How do you write a book? Are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between? Do you start at the beginning and write straight through to the end, or jump around and write scenes that are clear to you regardless of where they appear in the book?
 
Jennifer: I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. Now that I’m contracting books on proposal, my editors want to see a complete synopsis before I finish a story. So I write synopses now, and I do find them to be a beneficial loose guide when I’m on deadline and working hard to finish a book. However, if the characters decide to take a radical turn, I usually hand them the reins and let them take the story where it needs to go. Characters often surprise me! So I still very much follow my characters’ leads as opposed to shoehorning them into a plot I’ve laid out in advance.
 
Jackie: What’s your favorite scene in A Hint of Wicked and why?
 
Jennifer: That’s a really difficult question to answer, since I like different scenes for different reasons! I’d have to say one of my favorites is when Garrett walks in on Sophie and Tristan in bed. It’s a painful scene for all of them for a variety of reasons—I think I’m a little bit of a sadist when it comes to torturing my poor characters! <grin>

Jackie: You know I have to ask this. Tristan or Garrett?
 
Jennifer: Um…both?


So, want to find out who the heroine of A Hint of Wicked actually chooses (since Jennifer is clearly too wishy-washy to choose for herself)? Well, you can! Jennifer has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of the book to one lucky commenter to be chosen at random. To enter, just post a comment below. Winner will be announced on Thursday at noon PST!

Goodies, Goodies, and More Goodies

Swing by the We Heart Historicals event over at Emma Petersen’s blog this weekend and leave us a comment, either recommending a historical or answering one of the questions, and get a chance to win a copy of Behind the Red Door, plus who knows what all else.

Tomorrow, I’ll also be posting a juicy and exclusive excerpt from the middle novella, Scandalously Ever After. So be sure to drop by. I’ll be announcing winners on Monday.

Interview with Victoria Dahl

rakesguideToday’s We Heart Historicals feature is an interview with the super-talented, super-funny, and super-angelic Victoria Dahl. (Hey, I’m not kidding about the angelic part. She even has a halo! I’ve seen it on her TwitterPic.)1

She’s going to be giving away a copy of her awesome historical, A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure, so be sure to stop by and comment for a chance to win!

weekloversAlso, be sure not to miss Victoria’s upcoming August release, One Week as Lovers. I’ve been hearing some early Twitter buzz about this book, and I am really looking forward to it.

1Hey, are you snickering behind your hand? Surely, you are not suggesting there is any PhotoShop hanky-panky involved in that Twitter avatar!

Here at Last

Okay, so it took me almost two weeks longer than I expected to get the new website up and running, but it’s here now and it’s gorgeous, isn’t it? (I can say that without sounding vain because I didn’t do the design. Frauke of Croco Designs is behind all this sultry goodness, and I am so grateful to her. I just couldn’t be more pleased.)

I’m not completely done jiggering with things. You may still find a few links that don’t work here and there. If you do find something broken, feel free to shoot me an email (you can click the Contact link…um, later today, lol).

But, now that it’s here at last, I’m pleased to announce some guest-bloggers who’ll be dropping by in the next few weeks.

  • hintofwickedOn Monday the 18th, I’ll be hosting a visit from Jennifer Haymore, whose debut release from Grand Central Publishing, A Hint of Wicked, will be out on June 1. (Actually, I just got an email from Books A Million a couple of days ago saying my copy had shipped, so technically, I guess it’s out now!)

    Jennifer also writes for Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, and NAL under the pen name Dawn Halliday. Watch for Dawn’s debut NAL release in July!

  • hlcOn Friday the 22nd, Evangeline Collins will be here to talk about her debut release from NAL, Her Ladyship’s Companion. I am reading it as we speak, and loving it. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that Evangeline and I share the same agent, so I am not at all surprised to discover she is fabulous!)

    Evangeline is another author with an extensive background in epublishing. As Ava March, she writes Regency m/m historical romances. I haven’t had the opportunity to read one yet, but I am very intrigued and definitely want to ask her some questions about her experiences in epublishing and m/m romance fiction.

I also have a number of guest appearances of my own planned:

  • On Wednesday, May 20, I’ll be guesting at Jennifer Haymore’s blog (and giving away a copy of Behind the Red Door).
  • On Thursday, May 21, Beverley Kendall will be posting her interview with me on her site. She has a contest running all month that includes free books (including mine) and one $15 gift certificate.
  • I’m the First Sale column guest on Dear Author on Monday, May 26.
  • On Tuesday, May 26, I’ll be over at Tessa Dare’s blog, where we’ll be talking about the beauty (and pain) of writing short. (Be sure to check out Tessa’s Samhain novella, The Legend of the Werestag. I read it in ARC form, and it’s fabulous!)

Last but absolutely NOT least, the We Heart Historicals event is still in full swing at Emma Petersen’s blog. We’ve had a few technical glitches here and there, but we’re sorting them out!