Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Question and Answer with Jill Marie Landis


Tina here.

Seekerville is delighted and honored to have bestselling author, Jill Marie Landis here today with a question and answer session.

I am trying to behave like the designated grown up here in Seekerville but it's very hard when you are so excited. Did I mention Jill will be giving away a copy of each of her new releases to two lucky Seekerville blog posters? (By the way, Homecoming isn't even released until today!!)

Names will be drawn tonight at 8 pm MST.

Without further ado, I'd like to introduce Jill Marie Landis...

Jill Marie Landis’ twenty novels have earned distinguished awards and slots on such national best seller lists as the USA Today Top 50 and the New York Times Bestsellers Plus. She is a seven time Romance Writers of America Finalist for Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award in both Single Title Historical and Contemporary Romance, as well as a Golden Heart and Rita Winner.

Jill Marie resides in Hawaii with her husband. When she’s not writing or sitting on the beach reading, she enjoys visiting family and friends, raising orchids, working in her garden, plunking on the ukulele, dancing the hula, and quilting—but not all at once. She loves to hear from readers at www.jillmarielandis.com

TR: Welcome to Seekerville Jill. Can you tell us a little about your first sale and how you got into the writing business?

JML: Thank you! I sold my first book through the RWA's Golden Heart contest. I was a finalist and one of the judges was an editor. She bought the manuscript. Back then we only had to enter three chapters and a synopsis. That's all I had. I had to write like mad to finish and I really didn't have a clue what was going to happen page after page. Books were also 150,000 words back then and I went over. I had to cut 50 pages. Talk about daunting. The title was Sunflower, but that was not my first book. The first book I completed and submitted earned 16 rejections. I started the second book, had found RWA by then, and entered it in the contest. I also attended a Fiction Writers Workshop at the local jr. college--an extension course. Looking back, I'm sure glad that first book didn't sell. I didn't find my voice until the second.

TR: What is your writing process? How do you prepare and get settled into a new story you are about to write? And along the same vein, what is your writing schedule like?

JML:As for starting a new story I do a lot of brainstorming. I write character sketches for the main characters. I determine their overall goals. What they want. Why they can't have what they want. (That's the conflict.) I gather the reference materials I'll need. Books, articles, find websites that will help. I think of it as making a nest to sit in. Stuff is piled around the office. I try to outline a sketchy plot and usually come up with a 9 page synopsis or so.

Once I have a deadline, my writing schedule is pretty rigid--kind of. I aim to work every morning from about 8:30 a.m. to around 12: 30 or 1: 00 p.m. I usually light a candle on the desk, settle myself down and start. I break for lunch. I usually take an hour and watch something I've DVR'd from the night before while I eat.

Then I might do things like promotion or read over what I've written that day, or look for facts or piddle around for another hour or so. I try to be finished by 2:30 or 3 but I often work until 4. I aim for 10 pages a day. Some days are better than others. Some days I don't work at all. I think it's a good week if I work four out of five days. I can talk myself out of working on Friday really easily.

I'm not on any loops or chat rooms or sites or whatever else there is out there. I don't know how to get on them and I don't have the time to read them or respond. I barely have time to write on my own blog.

TR: Can you share about your transition into the CBA market? How did it happen? Are you going to be writing both for CBA and ABA?

JML:I have enjoyed reading CBA books. When the market demands went to choosing either paranormal, spicier romances, erotica or CBA books, I decided I wanted to try CBA. It was an opportunity to express a positive message and tell an uplifting story filled with hope. I truly enjoyed writing the two CBA books I've written so far. As far as writing for both markets, I definitely would like to have the option.

TR: Please tell us about Destination Marriage and Homecoming.

JML: Destination Marriage, a June release from Harlequin, is one story in an anthology of destination wedding stories. "Trouble in Paradise" is set on Kauai and I absolutely loved writing about the island. So many crazy things happen here and I tried to capture slices of island life. The story is about Carrie Evans, a bride who gets to Kauai and after reading an article about signs and symbols, she begins to think that the island is trying to warn her not to go through with the wedding. Crazy things keep happening. The guests are delayed by storms on the mainland. The caterer goes missing. Carrie is given a cryptic message by a Hawaiian man who appears and then seems to disappear. When she decides to call the whole thing off, her groom has to convince her that the wedding must go on.

Homecoming, from Steeple Hill, is both a new beginning (in that its for the CBA) and a return to writing historical romance. I really enjoyed writing this book. Some books are gifts--they come easier than others. I feel Homecoming was truly was inspired from page one. It's gritty and tense and a page turner, which is what I aim for with every book. It's set on a ranch outside the fictional town of Glory, Texas, around 1873. During the Comanche Wars, thousands of Texans were captured by the Comanche and either killed, traded, or assimilated into the clans.

Homecoming is the story of a young white woman who was captured as a child. She believes she's Comanche. After she is "rescued" by U.S. Army troops, she's taken in by a family who has suffered much at the hands of the Comanche themselves. The novel is a story of a young woman who is haunted by flashes of memory of her past and the life she left behind. She doesn't know who she is or where she belongs. The young man whose mother insisted on taking her in has a troubled past of his own. He has lost his faith. Together, they travel a sometimes perilous journey to love and understanding.

TR:What's coming up for you? Will you be in San Francisco for RWA Nationals? What projects can we look forward to?

JML: I'll definitely be in San Francisco. I love seeing friends and touching base with editors and my agent.

I have a second CBA book coming out from Steeple Hill next June. The title is the Accidental Lawman. I really enjoyed writing it. It is a little lighter in tone than Homecoming, but also very dark in places. It touches on deep emotion. It also takes place in Glory, Texas.

I have a proposal in the works as well as a book I'm writing on spec that is totally different from what I've ever done. So much so I may take a pseudonym when it sells.

TR: Wow, looking forward to reading your current releases as well as the Accidental Lawman and your book in the works!

Jill, thanks so much for being with us today. Now we'll open it up to questions from our Kona loving, Seekerville friends.


Tina M. Russo said...

Kona brewing, and we have a fresh fruit plate ready for Jill. Um, what evil pastries do you eat in Hawaii?

Thrilled to have you here, Jill!!

Debby Mayne said...

Hey, Jill! Thank you for coming and sharing so much about your writing process!

I've always enjoyed your books because your characters are so real. Can't wait to read your latest!

Vicki said...

Hi Jill, I love your work schedule. :) Mine is at night and as much as I can on the weekends. (It's the day job thing, tends to get in the way)

The book sounds great!

Jo said...

Hi Jill, Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed reading your interview.


Melanie Atkins said...

Enjoyed your interview. So glad to learn more about you. I'll have to check out your books.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Your books sound really good, Jill. Looking forward to seeing your CBA titles popping up for years to come.

Ann said...

All I can think is ... Hawaii. Hope to go there someday.

Enjoyed reading about your writing life!

Patricia W. said...

Hi Jill! Thanks for sharing so much with us.

I have a question. Since you don't participate in much of the online stuff, what kinds of things do you do for promotion? (Of course, you have a great following already.)

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Jill. I just read your interview over on Petticoats and Pistols, too.

I feel a little like a stalker but well...what are you gonna do, huh?

I've got a Carrie Evans in a book coming out in November?
That seems like a strange coincidence. I suppose I read your book and 'filed' the name away subconsciously.

No, ignore that, let's go with coincidence. :)
Thanks for stopping by Seekerville. You got your start after winning the Golden Heart, huh? We've got us a Golden Girl, ladies. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jill, thanks so much for stopping by the Mainland of Seekerville and Unpubbed Island. As an island dweller, you understand what we sand-lovers go through so you're especially welcome here.

Your writing captivates the reader and I'm anxious to get my own copy of Homecoming. Congrats on working both sides of the fence.

So, since we're pastry lovers here in Seekerville, let me drop off a Cassata cake and a coconut cream pie with toasted coconut of course. A little Island fare mixed with New England know how.

Hey guys, this Kona blend is smoooooooth stuff. Ann, I think it was you that introduced me to Kona, right?

Love it, girlfriend!

So nice to see so many faces here on a holiday week.

Okay, must go clean. And cook. In our house, any attempt at normalcy is met by shocked looks of dismay, like we can possibly erase 34 years of shrugging off the clutter of a big family in one seven-day week.

But with a lot of hands and extra strength garbage bags, it can be done!


Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Looks like wonderful books to put on my TBR list!

Wonderful interview.

Good luck and God's Blessings on your CBA ventures...may they bring you more success than ever before.


Missy Tippens said...

Hi, Jill. Thanks so much for joining us in Seekerville today! Tina, nice interview questions.

I love hearing about your writing schedule. I'm glad to see there is hope for me! My schedule is similar, but I think I need to keep the internet off limits until the page count is reached. I tend to check in to email and blogs off and on during the morning, and before I know it, an hour passes!

I'm also interested in the answer to Patricia's question. I'd love to hear what you do for promotion. (Do you have a publicist, that kind of thing.)


Tina M. Russo said...

It's about six thirty am in Hawaii. Jill will be stopping by as soon as we shove her out of bed.

Missy Tippens said...

Wow! I didn't think of the time change!

Ahhh, Hawaii. Must be so nice!


Erica Vetsch said...

Very nice interview. Thank you for sharing, Jill. Your books sound terrific.

Pam Hillman said...

Forget all this writing talk! I want to know how you get to live in Hawaii?!?!? Just kidding. lol Hey, Tina, how close is Unpubbed Island to Hawaii? Can we plan a day trip to visit Jill one day?

Seriously, Jill, Homecoming sounds like my kind of book, and I’ve added it to my list of must reads for 2008!

Donnell said...

Aloha, Jill! Thanks for explaining your process. You're a true inspiration. Tina, great interview questions.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey Jill, thanks so much for taking the time to visit Seekerville -- your schedule inspires me!

I do have a question for you, though. What do you do when you hit the wall, so to speak, when you are just beginning to write another book? I have just started my 4th book in a series where the first three have been published, and although the characters in this 4th novel are exciting, I am having trouble getting excited about writing it. Any suggestions?

Jill said...

As far as pastries...my fave is malasadas. Donut balls deep fried and shaken in granulated sugar. The grease soaks into the paper bag. They sell them three in a sack as fundraising projects out side of Kmart or Walmart. YUM!

In answer to Julie...try starting the story in a different place...further into it. Also try switching view points. You may be in the wrong character's head.

Catherine Coulter always says there's no such thing as writer's block. It's the wrong story, the wrong place or whatever. Some element may be missing.

Jill said...

Hey, I'm up. I'm up. It's about 9 a.m here and already 3 on the east coast!
Didn't know there was an unpub island.

Re: promotion.
One does what one can, eh?

I will say DO NOT even dwell on it or worry about it until you are published. Don't put the cart before the horse.

Start with your immediate area when your first book comes out. Local throw away papers...do a press release, etc. Invite everyone you ever knew to your first signing.

Now things are so different than when I started due to the internet. It wasn't even around!

Don't spend more than you make writing to promote a book. In the mid 90's until about 2004 I had a publicist. Now I'm working the internet, my own website and blog. I am on a couple of reader/writer sights. Newsletters go out by email to my list of fans who sign my guestbook at www.jillmarielandis.com

The most important thing is write a great book. It will sell itself.

Pam Hillman said...

Julie, you know what I love to do if a scene isn't working....

Make it start raining, snowing, wind blowing, move them inside, or outside, etc.

If all else fails, take a page from Mary's book and shoot someone.

Camy Tang said...

Pam, LOL!

Great to have you here, Jill! I'm from Hawaii (my parents and family are still on O'ahu) and I LOVE MALASADAS!!!!!

Your writing schedule is pretty inspiring to me, too! I spend too much time on email and blogging as a way to combat when I can't think of what to write next.

Linda Goodnight said...

Hi Jill,

I didn't know until today when I received an email from Krista on another matter that you were writing for the CBA market now. I've enjoyed your books for a long time so this is a real treat. Welcome to Steeple Hill! I look forward to meeting you in San Francisco!

BTW, love that anthology cover. Cute as a button!

Linda Goodnight

Keli Gwyn said...

I enjoyed your interview, Jill. Destination Marriage and Homecoming sound like great books. I'm adding them to my "to buy" list.

As a current inspy finalist, it's encouraging to hear that the GH led to your start. Seven of the 2008 finalists have sold so far, five with multiple book contracts, and at least thirteen have received requests from final judges. I'm so excited for them.

Jill said...

Congratulations to Keli. I know how excited you must be. Way back when, they used to announce the winner before hand and awards night was just to pick up the gold. Now everyone gets to share in the fun all of conference weekend, but it's sooo nerve wracking! Hang in there and good luck!

Look forward to seeing you, Linda G., in San Francisco.

Well, back to work. I've up to about 8 pages and having a hard time sitting here for the last two but I can do it!

Thank you all for your comments!

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, Jill, for the advice -- I really appreciate it.

And Pammy, thanks for yours too -- hail storm, here I come, with gun in tow ... :)

Tina M. Russo said...

It's been a real treat having you here today, Jill.

One more hour until the book drawing. :)

Gina Welborn said...

How can I think of anything to comment on when I can smell the roasting grasshoppers...umm, I mean coconut Ruthy is putting on the cake?


Someone save our dessert!!!!

Jill said...

Thanks for letting me wander through Seekerville and hang out on the Island for a while, too.
Aloha hui hou,
Until we meet again,

Tina M. Russo said...

We have one confirmed winner.
Donnell Ann Bell of Colorado has won a copy of Destination Marriage.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jill.

What a wonderful surprise to accidently come across your blog. It's always so nice to hear what you have to say. Just remember whenever you're free we'd love to have you speak at OCC again (Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers) Not only do allof your friends love to see you, but we always get a large crowd when the word gets out you're our speaker. You always do a terrific job. And we love seeing that lovely smile of yours.

Bobbie Cimo

Tina M. Russo said...

Debby Mayne is the winner of a copy of Homecoming!!!

Debby Mayne said...

Wahoo!!!! Can't wait to get it! I never win stuff (can't say that anymore, though, can I?), so this is a great day for me!

Thank you SOOOOOOOOO much!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

These books look so fun! Thanks Jill for coming to Seekerville!

Your books are on my TBB list...To Be Bought.

Thanks for sharing your writing process. Fascinating.