Saturday, October 8, 2011

Juggling for Writers

posted by Nancy

Barbara Monajem returns to chat with us about juggling two very different types of stories at the same time. Welcome, Barbara!

You're writing two very different kinds of stories at the moment, historicals for Harlequin Undone and the Bayou Gavotte paranormals for Dorchester. How do you stay in the right mindset for each?

People often ask me this question, and the answer is, I really don’t know. I just do it. When writing a contemporary paranormal, I’m in the modern world, thinking in present-day slang with a 21st century mindset. When I’m writing a Regency historical, I’m in an entirely different mental environment, with a different vocabulary and different values. It’s almost as if I flip a switch in my brain... and suddenly I’m someplace else.

The greatest difficulties have to do with the worlds themselves. In the contemporary novels, I have to think about stuff like which phone can I give my heroine that won’t be outdated in a year, while in the historicals, there’s a constant challenge to make my heroine appealing to modern women while keeping her believable in a historical context.

Tell us a bit about your current projects.

Right now I’m working on a full-length Regency for Harlequin. It’s the third in a series about the Carling siblings, James, Simon, and Sally. James’s story comes first in my recent novella, The Wanton Governess. The second novella is Simon’s story. I don’t have a title yet, but it’s scheduled to be released in January. Simon is a rake and was a hoot to write.

Recently, I handed the third Bayou Gavotte paranormal in to my editor. It’s about the rock star, Constantine Dufray, who was a secondary character in the first two novels. I’ve written his story several times over the years –- it was really the first I wrote about Bayou Gavotte, but his character deepened as I wrote the others -– and I’m quite jubilant that finally it’s finished! Also, I’ve just begun the fourth paranormal, a murder mystery. The heroine is a vampire, and the hero, Gill, is a secondary character from Tastes of Love & Evil. He’s possessed – but I still haven’t figured out by what! Hopefully that will be solved, as well as the murder, by the end of the book.

What's Pompeia and James's biggest problem in The Wanton Governess?

To grab their second chance at first love and run with it!! Here is a blurb that makes the problem clear:

In exchange for a few days’ shelter, dismissed governess Pompeia Grant pretends to be the wife of a man who spurned her years earlier. James Carling, the man in question, is in America, so he’ll never know. And it’s only for a couple of days. And she’s helping a friend, so she’s doing a good deed… But the next day, James comes home.

Would you like to share an excerpt?


Sussex, 1801

"What in hell's name were you thinking?"

At this furious bellow all the ladies froze, then gaped. "Who was that?" Clarabelle faltered.

Pompeia rose in horror. She would know that enraged shout anywhere. She had heard it only once before, and she would never forget it.

But this time it was surely directed at her.

Footsteps hammered on the staircase, and her heart abandoned itself to terror. She had to run. She had to flee.

No! She had to do something.

"James, wait!" That was Sally's voice from the corridor. "Please, just let me --"

"James wasn't supposed to be home yet," Clarabelle moaned, and meanwhile the footsteps pounded down the passage.

Think, think! There must be some way to avert disaster. Not to Pompeia herself -- that was impossible -- but to Sally, to whom the vouchers for Almack's meant so much. But there wasn't time, because it would mean convincing Sir James to talk to her privately before exposing the deception. It would mean making him want to. Inexorably, the footsteps approached the drawing-room doorway.

I know how to make a man want to, said the Wanton Within.

Not that! Pompeia's rational mind screamed. Not now! But after a second's furious pause, she realized that for once the Wanton might be right. She got her feet moving and went straight for the door.

Too late.

He came into the room like a thunderstorm. It was James indeed, older, broader, and even more beautiful than four years ago, from his dark, wavy hair and grey eyes to his well-worn leathers. The Wanton Within applauded, but mostly, Pompeia cringed. She closed her eyes, desperate to compose herself. A babble of voices roiled around her, but she was poised only for his, for the fatal words exposing her as a fraud, commanding her to leave.

Open your eyes, said the Wanton. Look at him.

She did. He stared back, the anger slowly draining from his features, surprise taking its place.

That's a good start, the Wanton said. Now, let your eyes do the talking. But Pompeia had done that once before to Sir James -- accompanied by words that permitted no misunderstanding -- and received a stinging refusal.

That was then; this is now, the Wanton insisted. Smile, for pity's sake!

Pompeia felt her lips tremble into a travesty of a welcome.

Sir James's mouth quirked the tiniest bit in response. "Pompeia," he said.

She forced her tongue into motion. "J-James."

"Unbelievable." Slowly, he shook his head. "Oh, Pompeia." His eyes rested on her, warmly approving. No, wickedly so.

This was astonishingly different from the last time they'd met, when the chill in those eyes had made even the Wanton cower. No, particularly the Wanton, who had gone into hiding for quite a while after that.

What had happened to change things?

Ah. James did know of Pompeia's disgrace, just as she'd assumed. And, in the way of all men, he anticipated that she would willingly be just as disgraceful with him.

Yes! Do let's! Just this once! the Wanton said.

Wow, what a place to leave us hanging! Meanwhile, in your other subgenre, what's the issue between Rose and Jack?

Rose saves Jack’s life…but Jack loathes vampires. Forced to work together to rescue a runaway, they combine her allure and his talent for vanishing into thin air to tackle a vamp-gone-bad and unearth the secrets of the most dangerous club in Bayou Gavotte.

What's next for you?

When I finish the two books I’m working on now, I’ll probably write another historical novella just for fun, or maybe a full-length based on a secondary character in the one I’m writing now. I’ll decide when the time comes!

You write great blurbs on your website. How do you approach creating these short summaries?

With a lot of groaning and moaning and hopefully some help from my editors. :)

For more about Barbara and her books, visit her website.

Barbara is giving away one copy of Tastes of Love and Evil (paperback or Kindle e-book) and one copy of The Wanton Governess (Kindle e-book only).

So tell us about the last time you had to juggle projects. What were they, and how did you manage? Or tell us whether you read (or write) more than one subgenre at a time, and why.

And let us know, please, whether you're able to read Kindle books.

Don't forget we're kicking off Trick or Treat in the Lair on with a BIG announcement on October 14, with a special treat to follow on Halloween.

The Golden Rooster is poking into the corners to find out what's going on. He even asked Ermingarde the Dragon what was coming(from a safe distance, of course). But Ermingarde doesn't know, either.

All will be revealed on the 14th!


Kaelee said...

Is the GR coming to Canada?

Kaelee said...

Oops! Now I have to hide the Halloween candy.

Nancy said...

Kaelee, looks like he is! Yes, hide the candy. Sven reports the mysterious disappearance of two dozen chocolate chip cookies a couple of days ago--from the freezer, not even from the cookie jar.

Anna Campbell said...

Kaelee, looks like the Rooster's going to be wearing a maple leaf! Congrats!

Nancy and Barbara, what a fun interview. Barbara, welcome back to the lair. You kinda had me at hello with that title - The Wanton Governess? All sorts of saucy possibilities there!

Kaelee said...

So the GR and I just sat down and had a hot chocolate with a drop of Baileys in it while we visited Barbara's website etc. Then I had to lock him up as my two cats wanted to become acquainted with him. He was all right with that as I gave him his own room with treats included.

I don't juggle too many things anymore. I don't even try to read two books at once. I have a great admiration for anyone who can juggle two or more projects.

Barbara, I must confess I probably will never read any of your current books as I am not a fan of vampires and I don't read ebooks. However I did love the excerpt of The Wanton Governess. Oops just about called it the Wonton Governess ~ too much Chinese food for lunch. Plus I'm falling asleep as I type.

Helen said...

Well done Kaelee have fun with him

Hi Barbara and Nancy

I loved that excerpt I need to get that book and the other ones as well whoo hoo.

Juggling two things at once is hard and I agree I don't really know how we do it but we do it (as most mothers would know ) LOL.

I very rarely read two books at the same time but I do read pretty much all the genres and often switch from one to the other like I will read an historcal then a paranormal then contempary then back to historical throw in some catergory and sci fi keeps me on my toes LOL.

Have Fun

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Barbara!

Always great to have you in the Lair, no matter which "side" you are on! LOVED your excerpt! Can't wait to read the rest of Wanton Governess.

Happy Thanksgiving, Kaelee! It's Monday right? Tell the GR you are considering changing the menu from turkey to chicken and watch how fast he tows the mark! :-P

Nancy, I can't BELIEVE that bird was even asking Ermingarde! HA! He won't get a word from HER or anyone else for that matter. They will all have to wait until the 14th. ;-)


Mary Preston said...

I only read one BOOK at a time let alone sub-genres. I like to give a book my full attention.

I can multitask - I am a woman after all - but prefer not to.


girlygirlhoosier52 said...

When I was a receptionist, I was always juggling assignments... now that I'm retired, I have the luxury of doing one thing at a time!! Yes!! Life is good!

Laurie G said...

I agree with the statement that mom's learn how to juggle their time. I raised four children, had a part time job, carted the kids to school events, club meetings and sport practices...appointments etc. I had to squeeze in my reading time too! Amazing we all all survived!

At home, I try to read one book at a time. However, I have to carry a book in my purse and several backups in my car that I read while I wait for appointments or for my husband.

I prefer romance historicals and contemporaries. However, I do try other genres.

The Wanton Governess James Carling's story sounds like the start of a series I would enjoy!

Nice to meet you here at Romance Bandits!

Nancy said...

Anna, I have The Wanton Governess but haven't read it yet. I've read Notorious Eliza, Barbara's last Undone, and it was great. And very hot.

Nancy said...

Kaelee, the GR will love it at your place! Vampires are not my favorites, either, but I do like the way Barbara uses them.

Nancy said...

Helen, I agree, mothers are master jugglers. I didn't realize you'd started reading science fiction. Yay!

I usually have a couple of books going at any given time. They might or might not be the same genre or subgenre.

Barbara Monajem said...

Kaelee -- Lucky GR! Will he get some of that great maple sugar candy? The kind shaped like a maple leaf? I luvre that stuff!

I don't read many vampire books, either. Heaven only knows why I started writing them! But I made my vampires different -- they have fangs and are irresistible, but they're not undead (wouldn't that smell bad?). They're just people with some special skills (lol) trying to get along like anyone else. Being irresistible sucks, really!

Wonton Governess. Har. Thank you for my Saturday morning chuckle.

Nancy said...

Hi, Cindy! Congrats on the release of Sidhe Princess. I'm looking forward to reading it.

I found muddy rooster tracks in the library yesterday, and a bunch of the books were on the floor. I'm wondering if the GR was searching behind them. Lars was hot about it since he'd just vacuumed in there.

Nancy said...

Hi, Marybelle--love your comment! Yes, women multitask aaaall the time!

Barbara Monajem said...

Nancy, how does that dang rooster manage to stay so slim and trim?

Ah. I bet it's all the mischief he's up to. He came to my place once, and I still haven't recovered. (Or at least that's my excuse for the mess.)

Nancy said...

Hi, girlygirl--

When I worked at a firm, our receptionist juggled only tasks but people. Glad you're enjoying retirement!

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Anna. Glad you like my title! Pompeia tries hard to suppress her saucy nature while being a governess, but once she sees James again... well, things do get hot. :)

Nancy said...

Laurie, carting one child around made us nuts. I don't see how you did it with four.

I read widely, but I sometimes go on a binge of a particular genre and read nothing but that for a couple of weeks. Like you, I always have a book with me if I expect to wait around at all.

Nancy said...

Barbara, I suspect the rooster is fortunate in his metabolism. Sorry he left your place a mess. He's a very rude guest.

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Helen! I read many genres, too -- everything you mentioned plus mysteries -- but I usually have several books going at once. One's in my purse and the others are scattered around the house, so if I can't find the one I'm looking for (happens all the time -- I put them down in the oddest places), I pick up one of the others and read that for a while. Sometimes this approach doesn't work, though, if I'm in the middle of one particular book and waaaa! That's the one I'm dying to read more of, and I can't find it! (Such as one of Anna Campbell's, lol. )

Barbara Monajem said...

Cindy -- Glad you liked the excerpt. I just looked up The Sidhe Princess. Wow -- I was in Northern Ireland in August, walking on a country path and surrounded no doubt by otherworldly beings I couldn't see -- so I simply MUST read your story to find out what I was missing by being an ordinary mortal.

Barbara Monajem said...

Marybelle -- LOL. I am woman, I can multitask. In fact, I've been doing it so long that I don't know how not to. If I'm not jumping from one thing to another, I'm asleep. It can get very annoying when I'd rather just curl up on the couch with a book, but I don't know how anymore...

Barbara Monajem said...

girlygirl -- If I ever get to retire, I'll have to come to you for lessons in one thing at at time. :) I've long forgotten how.

Barbara Monajem said...

Laurie -- I have backup books everywhere in the house as well as my purse, and sometimes I even read at red lights, which is probably a big no-no. For my purse book, I try to pick something with a slow pace so I won't get so engrossed in the action that I don't notice the light changing to green. But I have been honked at more than once by irate drivers behind me!

Trish Milburn said...

Hi, Barbara. Good to have you in the Lair today.

When did I last juggle projects? LOL, like every day. I usually have multiple deadlines going, for different types of books like Barbara, as well as promo stuff, and just life-in-general stuff. I think most people are in this same boat.

Mozette said...

Wow... mine was hilariously funny... I had to juggle a serious nudist romance and an erotica novel. They could easily get confused and so when I worked on one, I had to make sure it didn't bleed into the other (which was quite easy to do).
They took me a year or two to write both and I've yet to finish the nudest romance completely.

The erotica one has been complete for some time now... and it was quite a ride!

I try not to juggle those types of genres anymore... it's just too confusing now.

Mozette said...

I should add that I normally write vampire romance and sci-fi action... quite a difference from the erotica and nudist romance.

I just wrote the latter to see if I could do them; and I can. :D

catslady said...

Don't most women juggle quite a few things at all times lol. I'm afraid I'm not into ereaders. I love my print books and I'm surrounded by them lol.

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Trish. I sometimes wonder what it was like when people didn't have to juggle so much. Books used to be longer and slower -- maybe because people could take their time reading them.

Barbara Monajem said...

Mozette -- LOL. Your books sound like a hoot, and I can see how they would get mixed up. Naked here, naked there... ;~) Sometimes I mix my historical characters' names up, so I try not to write two historicals at once.

Barbara Monajem said...

catslady -- Sigh. I love print books, too. Not only because I'm used to them, but because I skim a lot and then go back and re-read, and often skip back and forth, which isn't easy with e-readers, or not as far as I can see.

On the other hand, if I ever move house... all those books... argh!

Caren Crane said...

Kaelee, my most dubious congratulations on luring the GR to your home! I hope Canada is ready for him. He has been banned from several hockey arenas already...

Barbara, welcome back to the Lair! I, for one, LOVE to genre hop so I read lots of different sorts of books. Some contemporary romance (like Susan Sey's FABULOUS books), lots of Regency- and Victorian-set historicals, a bit of erotica, some thrillers (usually without romance), some mysteries (with and without romance), some literary fiction, a smattering of non-fiction and biography, and a healthy dose of fantasy.

I find all of these genres fulfill a different need, mood or thirst for entertainment. I like variety in my diet, my clothes, my hairstyles, my friends, my movies and my music, so why should reading be any different? Books open doorways in my mind and something vastly different lies behind each door.

Life is a journey of growth and discovery. How better to grow myself and discover more about myself, the world I live in and worlds that will never exist than to read widely and often?

Oh, and I read both hard copy books and Kindle books. Again, the Kindle reading experience fills a different need than hard copy books. It has allowed me to read more and read faster than I can with paper books. I love my Kindle!!

Thank you so much for being a fantastic guest here and I look forward to reading your new books!

Barbara Monajem said...

Caren - Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and thank you.

So far my Kindle reading has been limited to short novels on my computer. Must buy one. Or a Nook. Or a Sony e-reader. Or...or...or... Can't decide!

I think I will still buy some paper books, though, for stories I know I'll want to skip around in... Unless they put a really good skip hop and jump feature on an e-reader.

Rebe said...

Well, cooking dinner while doing laundry is about the extent of my abilities when it comes to juggling many things at once. If you add anything into the mix (say, feeding the dog) everything goes bonkers.

But I do like to read several different genres at once - it helps prevent burn out on any one genre. Lately I've been a little burned out on historicals, so I've been reading lots of contemporaries and PNR/UF to break out of the slump.

Na said...

I'm always juggling things but I remember school really tested my management skills. There would be pre-midterms, midterms, quarter-midterms and finals. In between there was the homework and the studying and because I always took on a full load it meant I had to balance that with my personal life. I like school so I didn't mind too much and some work I can do while listening to music. It was still a hectic time!

Cathy P said...

Hi Barbara and Nancy! Barbara, you are a new author for me, and I loved your excerpt of The Wanton Governess. I normally don't read paranormal books, but yours sound good. I definitely can't read two books at a time and my favorite genre is any kind of romance, especially the historical ones.

The last time I really had to juggle hard was back in 2009 when my dad was in a nursing home in a town 70 miles away. I usually went to visit him 4-5 times a week unless he was in the hospital, and then it was more frequently. I was juggling that along with my chores at home and my DH.

I do have a Kindle application for my PC, but I don't actually own a Kindle. I have lots of ebooks and lots of print books (mainly print books since I prefer them if I have a choice).

Nightingale said...

Barbara, you are an amazing juggler--with a busy job as well! Enjoyed learning more about your books. I write erotic romance, paranormal romance and fantasy. I think, like Barbara said, you just wake up in a different world. Problem is that sometimes in the romances and fantasy, I feel constrained by not being able to use the real words for certain body parts.

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Rebe -- LOL. My indoor cat has to remind me to feed the outdoor cat when I'm juggling too many tasks. Luckily for the outdoor cat, she's very persistent about it!

Historicals are probably my favorite genre, but I know what you mean about getting into a slump. Lately I've been breaking out into sci fi and mysteries -- oops, one of those was historical, too.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

OOO Barbara!
I'm shamrock-green with envy that you were in Northern Ireland recently! Trust me, a few of those creatures are better unseen! ;-) I hope you enjoy The Sidhe Princess.

Nancy, so THAT is what had Lars all in a lather? Leave it to the GR to make a mess in a room that's just been cleaned. :-P His curiosity is about to get the better of him, I think. Less than a week to go!


Barbara Monajem said...

Na -- I still have dreams about being in college at exam time, and realizing I've completely forgotten to attend one of my classes all term.

Barbara Monajem said...

Cathy P - Wow, that must have been a difficult juggle -- 140 miles a day!

Glad you liked the excerpt. :)

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Nightingale -- I like using the earthier names for body parts, too. It's a tough call, because what one person finds acceptable, accurate, and appropriate, is offensive to another.

Barbara Monajem said...

Aunty Cindy, I loved Northern Ireland. We stayed with friends near Derry and had a fabulous time. I came home determined to make Irish soda bread. Yum.

jo robertson said...

Barbara, I'm sorry, the joke has to be made - does Pompeia get VOLCANICALLY hot? Is James a good lava? LOL!

Barbara Monajem said...

Jo -- Yes!! and Yes!! LOL!!

Nancy said...

Mozette, I can see how that would be confusing. Congratulations on finishing!

Nancy said...

Catslady, I love my iPad, but I still buy print books. I like the tactile experience of reading.

Nancy said...

Caren, another genre-hopping reader! I read a lot of the ones you do, but I've never warmed to literary fiction. Just doesn't speak to me as yet.

Nancy said...

Rebe, dinner and laundry both take a certain degree of attention. I usually vary my reading. As you say, it helps prevent genre burnout. Every once in a while, though I binge on a genre.

Nancy said...

Hi, Na--

School can involve a lot of juggling, especially if you have a full load. All those due dates at the semester's end can be chaotic. Glad the music helps!

Nancy said...

Cathy P, sorry your dad has been ill. Family emergencies can make keeping up difficult.

I read a lot of historicals, too.

Nancy said...

Nightingale, that's a lot of genres to juggle. Good luck with that!

Nancy said...

Cindy, yes, that's why Lars is in a mood. Demetrius said the GR tried to blame the dragon, but there's a problem with that story. She can't fit in the kitchen.

Yet the rooster continues to deny all in an extremely aggrieved and arrogant manner.

Nancy said...

Jo, bwhahaha!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, dear,the curse of all of us being called Jo has struck. Sorry, that AWFUL joke was mine! Love Anna C

Nancy said...

Anna, then bwahahaha! to you. *g*

Mozette said...

Barbara, I have tried writing another erotica, but I don't know how to get into that groove again. I think there was only one in me and that was it.

As for the nudist romance, it's still got a little way to go; and I think I'll leave the ending open so that the reader can think about what their life ends up like themselves. I have tried other endings, but it just gets too messy.

My vampire stories are the same as romance novels, but the vampires are nothing like 'Twilight'... they are exactly what you'd imagine: tall, dark and handsome... but extremely self-centred and only think about themselves and their needs. I have put a smattering of ones that remember what it's like to be a human; but their young vampires.

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Barbara and Nancy, it's good to see you both!

No more reading two books at the same time, my aging brain just cannot handle
doing that any more. I read a romantic historical, followed by whatever comes up next on the TBR stack that is not a
historical. Round and round we go!

I juggle/multitask all the time, but
not my reading. As for Kindles,I don't
have one but I do have the app for my
computer. I much prefer print but may
break down and get an e-reader one

Pat C.

Barbara Monajem said...

Mozette, I don't think I could write erotica. One sex scene per novella and a few per full-length novel are the max for me.

Nancy said...

Mozette, I think different kinds of books require different grooves. I can do 1st person snarky with ease, but shifting into 3rd makes the snatk harder for me.

Nancy said...

Hi, Pat--

Nice to see you, too. As you know, I like variety in my reading, too. I've come to love reading on my iPad, but I also still want actual books.

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Pat -- Although I read more than one book at a time, they aren't usually the same genre. If they're too similar -- Regencies in particular -- I may get the characters mixed up. (I've done that writing my own Regencies...sometimes I have to jog my brain for the right name.)

Barbara E. said...

I don't have that much going on, so I don't really have projects I have to juggle much. When I do, I just do the best I can to pay attention to the most pressing needs and go from there.
I do read quite a few subgenres of romance, I like to mix it up. Right now I'm reading a historical romance, and a fantasy, before that I was reading an urban fantasy and a paranormal romance. It all depends on my mood what book I pick up to read next.