Monday, June 4, 2007

Jacquie D is in the House!


Drumroll please!!! Today we welcome a truly talented author. I had the pleasure of meeting Jacquie D'Alessandro at a workshop in Denver, and knew we had to have her for the Romance Bandits. I found she is an incredibly sweet and generous person as well as being a great writer. So, without further ado...here's Jacquie!

Hi Jacquie, and welcome to Romance Bandits! To start off, we'd love to hear all about the the new book/series you have coming out!

The series is called Mayhem in Mayfair and the first book, Sleepless at Midnight, goes on sale June 26th. The series centers around a group of four friends who have formed the Ladies Literary Society of London which forsakes the classics for more thrillingly forbidden reading material. In Sleepless at Midnight the ladies have read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—a very scandalous book at the time, not only because it was written by a woman, but because that woman had been involved in a scandalous affair with a married man. The book fires up the imagination of the heroine, Miss Sarah Moorehouse, so when she spies the Marquess of Langston mysteriously sneaking home in the wee hours clutching a shovel, she simply must investigate. Impelled by curiosity she steals into his bedchamber, only to be caught red-handed by the impossibly handsome and totally naked nobleman—an incident that sets them off on what I like to call A Big Adventure. The sequel, Confessions at Midnight, will be released in January ’08. In that story, the ladies read a book of erotica which sets Sarah’s sister off on her own Big Adventure. An excerpt and the first chapter of Sleepless at Midnight are posted on my website at www.JacquieD.com.

How did you start writing romance? What was the road to publication like for you--short and smooth or long and bumpy?

I started by consolidating my habit of jotting down notes on random pieces of paper (after I joined a writers’ group, I was so relieved to find out I wasn’t the only person who did that!). Romance and mysteries were (are still are) my favorite genres, so when I realized I wanted to write a book, there wasn’t any doubt in my mind what sort of story it would be. As for my road to publication, I wish I could say it was short and smooth, but it wasn’t. I have a folder of rejection letters and suffered the frustration of the loooooong waiting periods between submitting and finally hearing back from editors. I didn’t have an agent and had gotten thisclose to selling my historical, but the editor (who I’d queried, who then first asked for the partial, then the full, then revisions--a process that took 19 months) left the house and the editor who took her place wasn’t as enamored of the book as the original editor and passed. I was so disappointed and heartbroken and frustrated, I quit writing. Completely. After about 4 months, I picked myself up and decided I didn’t want to quit, but I also didn’t want to deal with that historical again right away. So I tried something completely different and wrote a short contemporary romantic comedy. As I had with the historical, I started entering it in contests and got good feedback. At the same time, I did some re-writing on my historical and tried a few more contests--and won the Novel Beginnings contest. Through that win, I got my agent (who was the finalist judge). She asked to see the full manuscript and loved it. I made some revisions based on her comments, and within a few weeks she’d sold it in a two book deal to Dell. About two weeks later she sold my contemporary romantic comedy to Zebra Bouquet which had just started. And I’ve been typing ever since!

You write both historical romance for Avon and hot category romance for Harlequin Blaze. What do you like about writing in each genre, and how do you balance the two parts of your career? Do you ever find yourself using Regency-speak in your Blaze books?

I like writing the Regency-era historicals because I just love that time period. The lords and ladies, the fancy balls and soirees, the country house parties, the political climate, the wars and spies, the strict rules of Society. The lack of women’s rights during that period fascinates me—the dearth of choices they had figures prominently in my stories. I also love the longer length of the books because it enables me to add a mystery element into each story. After writing a 400 page historical, I love to turn it all completely around and write a short contemporary. I find the prospect of diving right back into another 400 page historical daunting, so I think mixing it up between the two very different lengths and types of stories helps keep me fresh. So far I’ve managed not to give my Regency heroine a cell phone or dress my contemporary hero in breeches. Hopefully if I ever make that mistake my editor will catch it!

The romance formula is pretty clear--boy meets girl, boy and girl hit some bumps on the road to paradise, boy and girl live happily ever after. How do you keep your stories fresh and exciting?

Let me tell you, after 25 books, it’s a challenge. I always thought this would get easier, but for me it gets harder. I’ll write a sentence and think, “I KNOW I’ve written that sentence before!” So I try to come up things that are fresh for me—things that I haven’t read. Things that make me excited to discover. For instance, my last Blaze book was part of the Adrenaline Rush series and took place during a hike to Machu Picchu. I did a ton of research about the Inca trail, Peru, the hike, and I found it fascinating, which made the book fun to write. Creating the four female characters for the Ladies Literary Society of London also excited me—coming up with four very different, distinct women, and the situations that would drive them forward into love. I guess it comes down to brainstorming ideas—trying to put new twists on things, and creating characters I love, who readers will hopefully love as well.

Besides the happy endings, what do you think distinguishes romance novels and literary fiction? Do you have any interest in crossing the bookstore aisle from "romance" to "literature"?

I think the happy endings are the biggest factor, along with the message of hope those endings deliver. I have absolutely no desire or interest to write anything other than a book with a happy ending. It’s the sort of book I love to read and the only sort I would ever write. Even if I switched gears and wrote a mystery, it would have to have a romance in it, and it would have to end well. I don’t think a book has to be sad or depressing to be “important”. After all, what’s more important than love? I think people who pooh-pooh romances have never read one—or haven’t read one in a very long time. I really dislike reading any book that leaves me feeling sad or depressed. I read the newspaper for that. If a book won’t leave me with a smile on my face when I close the cover, then I don’t want to read it. Which is why I’ve always loved romance.

Have your books changed since you started writing? In what ways?

I think the biggest change is that they’ve gotten sexier. Probably because I’ve gotten more comfortable writing love scenes, and also because I continually try to challenge myself to come up with something I haven’t done before—not easy in a love scene after 25 books! I think my writing has also gotten tighter—at least I hope it has!

Anything else you want to share with our readers? The meaning of life? How to lose those last ten pounds? (I'm particularly interested in this last one...)

If I knew how to lose that last ten pounds ( I’d call it baby weight, but my “baby” is 17!!), I’d write a book about it and be an instant bestseller! (dibs on that idea!). As for anything to share, I can only say don’t give up. This is a difficult business—anything that involves a lot of solitude, rejection, and waiting isn’t easy. But nothing rewarding is ever easy. If it was easy to get a book published, everyone would have a book published—I mean, have you ever met a person who said, “I’ve never, not once, ever thought of writing a book”? I haven’t. But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And even once you get published, it really all just boils down to two words: Keep Writing.

Thanks Jacquie! Now it wouldn't be a Romance Bandits day without a contest, sooooo....we'll be giving away signed copies of Jacquie's new book (when it is released!) to two lucky folks who either leave a comment or question for Jacquie. She will be popping in periodically to say hello and answer questions during the day. So start posting those questions!

35 comments:

Helen said...

Jacquie that was lovely thanks Bandito's. Jacquie you are an auto buy for me in historicals I only need two more of your historicals and I have them all and I have loved everyone of them they are sensual and truly enjoyable with the ability to make me laugh and not want the book to end.I am really looking forward to this new series and will be ordering it as soon as is possible it usually takes a couple of weekes after release date in the States till I get it here in Australia. Thanks again for that great blog keep releasing these fantastic stories.
Have Fun
Helen

Keira Soleore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keira Soleore said...

Banditas, I'm back! While Hawaii was fabulous and soul-deep satisfying as always, I've missed my cyber friends.

And I return to this fabulous news! Jacquie D is to historical fiction what Jackie O was to Washington DC: a breath of fresh air, wit, verve, elegance -- a master of her craft.

Jacquie, I'm from Seattle, so the title "Sleepless..." certainly caught my eye! Can you give us a wee bit o' teaser about what mayhem sleepless Sarah and Langston are up to in the dark of the London nights? I read the excerpts on your site and am dying for more.

Another Q: Will you be signing SAM at National? (OMG, please say "yes!")

Keira-publishing-comment-to-stop-embarassing-banditas-with-gushing

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview today and good luck on the release!

Kate Carlisle said...

Welcome to the Bandita blog, Jacquie! I really appreciated hearing your inspiring story of persistence and I'm so glad you never gave up.

Your Literary Ladies series sounds fabulous and fun. I can't wait to start reading them. Can you talk a little more about your brainstorming process? Do you work with a plot group or is this a solitary process for you?

Thanks again for being here today!

Kirsten said...

Hi Keira! Welcome back! And if you think that was gushing, you should have seen my emails to Jacquie! I shudder just to think about what she had to wade through. :-)

Karen H in NC said...

Hi Jacquie,

Your new series 'Mayhem in Mayfair' sounds like so much fun. Looking forward to getting my copy of the first book. How many books will be included in this series?

Stacy S said...

Great interview. I love your books. Can't wait for this new series. It sounds really good.

Caren Crane said...

Jacquie, I have heard you say before that you have, from the start, treated your writing as a business (e.g. working in an office, having regular hours, etc.). Are you still working this way? Is it ever hard to keep your "office hours" since you are your own boss?

Jacquie D said...

Hi Ladies!
Thank you so much for the warm welcome--I'm so excited to be here!

Helen--I'm honored to be an autobuy for you--thank you! Where in Australia do you live? I've always wanted to visit there. My husband and I enjoy tennis (he's good, I'm awful) and hope to one day go to the Australia Open (as spectators, of course!)

Keira--I'm going to have to post your Jacquie D/Jackie O comment on my website! Do you know I was actually named for her?? My actual name is Jacqueline, but no one calls me that except my mother--when she's mad at me :). As for what Sarah and Langston get up to in the dark--heh, heh, heh. But as it turns out, Langston isn't the only man interested in Sarah...
And yes, I'll be signing SAM in Dallas at the literary signing. I'll also be signing at the Avon Open House (not sure of the date/time), but the book won't be SAM--most likely Never a Lady. Also, a group of Avon authors are getting together for an informal meet and greet after the literacy signing on Wednesday night at the hotel next to the conference hotel. All readers/writers/friends/fans/etc. are invited! I'll post the exact info later today--I hope you can come!

Tetewa--thank you! I'm so glad to be here!

Hi Kate--regarding my brainstorming process--I have a critique partner with whom I meet once a week. We always spend part of the time brainstorming "what comes next." If we get stuck mid-week, we chat on the phone. I find that the idea for a book is usually sparked by a single thought, then I spend my time playing "what if" games to flesh out the conflicts, characters, and plot. By the time I sit down to actually write, I have about 75% of it nailed down in my mind (some of which changes!). My synopsis will usually read, "and over the course of the next two weeks, their feelings deepened..." something like that--and then I have to come up with what actually happens! But by then I know the characters better and ideas have sparked. The actually writing is solitary (except for my cat who likes to sleep in my office), but my husband works from home so I bounce ideas off him during breakfast and lunch which is helpful.

Kristen--your e-mails were total day brighteners! Thank you so much for inviting me to play with the Bandits!

Karen--I've planned the series for four books. The first two are finished. And boy, do I have plans for those other two books--tee hee!

Jacquie D said...

Stacy S--thank you! I'm so nervous about this book coming out. I think every author worries that the only person who will read their book is their mom! (btw--my mom read an ARC of Sleepless at Midnight and she loved it :)) How's THAT for an impartial endorsement! :)

Caren--Great to "see" you here! Yes--I try to keep regular hours when I'm working, but unless the words are just flowing (doesn't happen as often as I'd like) I'm not one to sit in the chair for hours on end and stare at the screen--I need to move. So I write a few sentences, then make a cup of tea. Write a paragraph, then re-heat my tea (I don't like it lukewarm!). After I finish a page, I reward myself by checking e-mail. My inner boss is always yelling at me to get my butt back in the chair, but sometimes I just think better if I'm pacing. I know I have to write to certain number of pages each day--some days the words come and I finish in the late afternoon, other days I pace ruts in the floor and I'm still typing at midnight. (groan!)

seton said...

Hi Jacquie!

I am looking forward to the anthology you are doing with Laurens, Balogh, Hern. Is your story finished yet? Can you tell us what will be the title?

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome Jacquie - so great to have you here with us, sharing details of your fabulous books and your writing process. I'm pleased to hear you're as restless as I am *grin* when writing.

My question is - what was the one thing you learned that helped you make the leap from unpubbed to The Call?

CrystalG said...

Great interview. Loved your answers. Your new series sounds good. :)

Sandy M said...

Great interview, Jacquie. I so enjoy your books, with Red Roses Mean Love being one of my favorites so far. I'm looking forward to your new Mayhem in Mayfair series!

Jacquie D said...

Seton--my story for the anthology with Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh and Candice Hern is finished and turned in. As far as I know the title for the book is It Happened One Night. I don't know yet know the title for my story. It's scheduled for release in Oct. 2008. The entire premise is really exciting and I can't wait til it comes out! I wish we didn't have to wait so long!

Anna--thanks for the warm welcome! Hmmm...I don't know if there was just one thing I learned that helped me make that jump. It was sort of an accumulation of knowledge and experience I gained from attending workshops, submitting, and writing, writing, writing (or re-writing, re-writing, re-writing!). The one thing that made the difference, however, was not giving up. As hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." After my brief "I quit" blip, I shoved up my sleeves and decided I was going to get a book published and that was that. It's hard not to compare yourself to others (like--it only took so and so 2 years to get published), but try not to. It took my critique partner ten years to get published, and she's a fabulous writer. She writes stuff that I could stare at the screen all day and NEVER come up with. Getting published takes talent, but it also takes luck and perseverence. If you keep trying, keep working to improve, the stars will eventually align and you'll find that one editor who loves what you write.

Crystalg--thanks! As I said, my mom really LOVED the book! :)

FilmPhan said...

Jacquie - Your new series sounds wonderful. I love series books when I catch them at the beginning. I do believe it will be my first time reading one of your books. I get in author ruts sometimes and it is nice to try someone new. That's why I love these types of websites. I have not been disappointed by any author that has been interviewed. Your new titles went directly onto my "must read" book list. Thanks for stopping by today!

Oh and a question for you - Do you base your heros and heroines off of anyone or are they characters that you create without using a real person as a guide?

seton said...

Jacquie, thanks for filling me in on IT HAPPENED ONE Night. I didnt know it was so far away, gost darnnit! :-(

Keira Soleore said...

Ooh Jacquie, thanks for posting to your site. I definitely plan on being there at the Literary Signing. I hope to drop in on the Avon informal meet-n-greet in between the Beau Monde dances.

As far as your teasing goes, hmmm.... Not fair you know. Saying your mom loved it and then chuckling away when all I want is a morsel, a tiny kernel of the story. :)

Kirsten, thanks for the welcome!! It sure is fun to be back with the Banditas.

Seton, isn't it the pits that the anthology is so far away?

I'm with FilmPhan here. After I invest a lot of emotional capital on characters, I like to see them show up in a second and third and... other series books.

Helen said...

Jacquie I live in Sydney the Australian Open Tennis is held in Melbourne I have never been to the tennis but have been to Melbourne great place to shop.I love books in a series so I am really looking forward to this series and the anthology you are doing with the other wonderful authors I have been reading about that on different web pages. I can't wait to start reading them all.
Have Fun
Helen

Christie Kelley said...

Jacquie, so glad to see you here. Your next book series sounds fantastic. I got my mother completely hooked on your books. Every time I go to conference, I bring her home an autographed copy of one of your books.

Jacquie D said...

Sandy M--so glad you enjoyed Red Roses Mean Love! That book holds a special place in my heart since it was my first.

filmphan--thanks for putting me on your "must read" list! I also love series and revisiting characters. I have a page on my website that explains how various characters are related in my books. Actually--now that I think about it, I think that page needs to be updated to include the new series!

Seton--like you, I wish we didn't have to wait so long for the anthology! I'm dying to see what the other authors came up with! It's the first anthology I've done that I haven't discussed the stories with the other authors--but of course, that was the main part of the whole premise.

Kiera--lucky you, going to the Beau Monde dances! I attended the conference once, a number of years ago and loved it! The dancing was my favorite part. As for a tidbit, okay, you made me feel guilty :). The hero in Sleepless at Midnight needs something very, very badly--but he sort of forgets all about that when he discovers the heroine hiding in his bedchamber...and learns she just watched him take a bath...
Better? :)

Helen--Any place that's good to shop sounds great to me! We'd eventually like to visit all four Grand Slam locations. I've been to Paris and London and grew up in New York (but never went to the tennis venues) but neither the hubby nor I have been to Australia. It's our dream vacation! Do you shop at Rendezvous Books?

Helen said...

Yes Jacquie, Rendezvous is the place I get my books from most of them anyway I order them on line and they post them up for me Mirna and the Ladies there are fantastic. I am waiting on the six new releases at the moment should be anyday know. I hope that you make it down under one day we truly have a lovely country although I have not visited other countries but I hope to one day.
Have Fun
Helen

Cherie J said...

Thanks for being here. I am curious as to what you would consider is your favorite books of all the ones you have written?

hrdwrkdmom said...

Jacquie, I am so excited about your new series and the anthology. You and all the other authors are on my keeper shelves so I am truly going to enjoy seeing what each of you wrote. I have not been able to get all of your backlist yet but I am working on it!

Trish Milburn said...

Hey, Jacquie. Thanks for hanging out with us Banditas today. Your new Mayhem in Mayfair series sounds great. I love it when I see historicals that have a unique twist, and this series definitely sounds like it does.

Aunty Cindy said...

Jacquie, THANX A BUNCH for being our very first Guest Blogger! And it is ALWAYS good to hear the "don't give up" speech from established authors, esp. one who has published 25 books! And who DID "give up" for a few months. Thank goodness it was just a few months and that certainly gives us AYU Banditas more hope!

And welcome back, Keira! I've been to Hawaii a few times and it's always a WONDERFUL place to vacation (even if I was in an earthquake on my last visit)!

AC

kim h said...

love the cover

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks Jacquie - great advice and a hockey quote too *grin*. Hopefully, the stars are beginning to align for me and the other Banditas.

Did I hear that you've met Cary Grant? *swoon*

Christine Wells said...

Jacquie, welcome to Romance Bandits! I love the premise of a literary society that is secretly subversive:) Thank you for sharing a little of your road to publications with us!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hello Jacquie! Welcome to the Bandits. We met at Dreamin in Dallas last spring. I loved your talk about writing humor and I'm afraid I spilled the beans that you once met Cary Grant! Could you please tell them the story as I loved hearing it?

Can't wait to read this new series and so glad you'll be signing it at National.

Suz

Jacquie D said...

Hey gals! Sorry I didn't get back to the rest of you last night--I had a book club meeting and got home later than I'd planned. I want to thank all of you for blogging with me--it was great fun! I hope you'll keep in touch with me--my e-mail addy is JacquieD@JacquieD.com. If you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me and I'll do my best to answer them. I hope to see you in Dallas! And don't forget to come to the Avon author meet and greet at the Hotel Lawrence (across the parking lot from the Hyatt) after the Literacy Signing on Wednesday from 8-9:30 pm. Bring a friend and books and we'll have a great time! Lots of Avon authors will be there.

Helen--I can't wait to someday visit your country. I hope you'll throw another "shrimp on the bar-bee" for me when I do!

Christie--thank you so much! And thank you for introducing your mom to my books! That's the greatest compliment a writer can get--for a reader to recommend their books to someone else--so thank you! Will I see you in Dallas this year?? I hope so!

Cherie--Since the best thing I've ever written is THE END, my favorite book is always the one I've just finished. Typing those two words is the HUGEST sense of relief--like finally giving birth to quintuplets (who weigh fifty pounds each!)

hrdwrkmom--I hope you enjoy the backlist! And I'm excited about the anthology, too. Stephanie, Mary, and Candice are three of my favorite authors. It's a total honor to be in a book with them!

Trish--thank you! I hope you enjoy the series. I definitely had fun writing it.

Aunt Cindy--thank you so much! Glad my experiences can provide inspiration. I can't say it enough--don't give up! And when you feel like you want to, call or e-mail another writer--she'll commiserate because she knows exactly how you feel!

Kim--I, too, love the cover. That is, of course, ME draped in that filmy material. Yup, sure is. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it :)

Anna--Thank you! And yes, I did meet Cary Grant. Got his autograph. And spent some quality time with him in a coat closet...

Christine--gotta love those subversive Regency chicks! There's more than one way to get around those pesky Society rules! :)

Suzanne--great to "see" you again! So glad you enjoyed my humor chat at RWA. So it was you who spilled the Cary Grant beans :). I don't know how the story would translate "on paper" rather than in person. Maybe I'll tell it again in Dallas at the Hotel Lawrence after the Literacy signing (and a glass of wine!). Hope to see you there!

Thanks again, ladies, for making me feel so welcome! I had a great time--and please keep in touch!
xox Jacquie

Helen said...

Jacquie it would my privilege and honour to through a shrimp on the barbie for you when you get here thanks for a great blog and Cary Grant is one of my all time favourite actors. Thanks again to all for a wonderful couple of days here at the Romance Bandits
Have Fun
Helen

Keira Soleore said...

Jacquie: Apologies for the late reply. Thanks much for that delicious tidbit. I adored it. Now the anticipation is keener. Best kind of amuse bouche, don't you think?

You were named for Jackie O?! What a cool coincidence.

AC: You were in Hawaii during an earthquake? Gosh, the next time you go, better make sure one of the volcanoes isn't about to errupt. :)

Suzanne: She met Cary Grant in person? WOW!! Now, I *have* to go to the Avon party to hear the story.

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, welcome back!

Jacqui, my fellow, Avonista, sorry I'm a bit late chiming in here (imagine the sound of Big Ben!). I'm in London and only getting sporadic email access. But what a great interview and how encouraging that you stuck it out through all the disappointments to achieve success. You go, girl!

Good luck with the new series. It sounds fantastic fun. Looking forward to seeing you in Dallas.

Thank you so much for joining the Banditas for the day!

Anna C x