Thursday, July 8, 2010

Get Swept Away By Jennifer Ashley!!

Wow, wow, wow! We're in the home stretch now! The weekend is just a blink away!

It's county fair time here in my neck of the woods, so I thought I'd share the fun with you all by interviewing an author who gives more thrills and chills than any tilt-a-whirl!

Please welcome JENNIFER ASHLEY to the TLN Hot Seat!!

If you've got a sweet spot for dashing dukes, sexy shifters, or maybe a hunky biker or two then cop-a-squat and be prepared to fall faster than a roller coaster for Jennifer's amazing and diverse talent!!

Buckle your safety belts and pull the handle bars back into a locking position, because we're gearin' up for a wild ride!

Hip-hip-OHH . . . and away we go!!!

1) If you were a book, what would your blurb be?

LOL, good question! Um… Jennifer always knew what she wanted to be—a writer. At age ten she knew what a query letter was and that an agent was essential to landing a good contract. Even though she distracted herself for a long time with school, college, finding the “right” job, and marriage and family, she never lost sight of her dream.

Finally, she decided to get serious about being a working author, started writing, researched, and submitted (ad nauseam). At last she was offered a small contract for a romance novel. Excitement! Joy! Hallelujah!

Not resting on her laurels, she wrote and wrote and wrote, working her way up inch by inch, book by book until she won the awards she longed for and hit major bestseller lists. She continues to write and strive, loving working at the job of her dreams.

2) Using three words, describe your voice.

Dramatic but humorous.

3) What's the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome in your career?

Just getting there in the first place. It’s difficult to get published, and it’s difficult to stay published. If there’s an adjective that can used to describe being a working author it’s … “difficult.” You have to work at it every day with drive and determination. If you have that, you make it. The commercial publishing business is all about perseverance and flexibility. Talent is a nice extra.

4) Novice Writer to Published Author: How has your writing changed? Did your outlook on the publishing industry change?

My writing has changed in that (I hope) it’s improved. With every book I strive to make it better: the plotting tighter, characterization deeper, pacing more intense, and the prose more readable. I’ve seen a big change from my earlier books.

I knew a little about the publishing industry before I sold, because I worked at a medium-sized nonfiction publishing house (hardback reference books). That gave me some an insight into the workings of a publishing company, so I knew what to expect with the editing, copyediting, cover issues, marketing. Basically I learned that it takes many people to make a book, and most of the final decisions don’t get made by the author. I also learned that writing isn’t a dreamy, glam, castle in the air thing. It’s a job, with expectations and demands, and being a professional writer is far different from being a “creative artiste.” (Which is fine with me, because I’m kind of a workaholic.)

5) You operate a blog called "Jennifer On Writing". What was the driving force behind its inception?

Misinformation. And getting the brush off.

When I was eager to become an author, I would timidly ask questions of professional writers or authors I happened to meet (in person or online), about agents, how to approach publishers, how to find out about the fiction publishing business at all.

I mostly was told “Go away, kid; don’t bother me,” and many people treated me as a threat. Or, I heard the garbage that no agent would read an unpubbed author, no pub would take unagented submissions, the market was too tight for new people to break in, the market was dying, the market was finished (this was about 15 years ago…sound familiar?).

I persevered, wrote and submitted, market-researched my little heart out, met agents and editors at conferences, took every bit of advice with a grain of salt, and finally achieved publication (and agent representation).

I started my blog because when I did get advice, most of it was bad. I wasn’t talking to people who really knew what was what, but I of course didn’t realize it. I don’t claim to be right about everything, and if I learn that I’m wrong about something (or something changes) I’m happy to say so.

But in my opinion, publishing isn’t a big, dark secret organization, and it shouldn’t be. Being an author is a job, and the publisher is the employer you work for as an independent contractor. You do your job professionally, turn in your book, work on the next one, read other people’s books, help market your books, finish your contract, and try to get more contracts. Everything else is noise.

6) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors on how to select a publisher or an agent?

Research. New writers are lucky in that most agents now have websites and blogs, on which they post their clients’ names and what they’ve sold. You have information on what agent wants what at your fingertips.

Research to find out which agents are able to sell books similar to what you’re writing. I don’t mean just “This agent publishes romance” but “This agent publishes humorous paranormal romances, and I have a humorous vampire book.”

Also note where the agent is selling her authors’ books. Are they the publishing houses you are interested in? Take the time to figure out which publisher publishes what and how well those authors do overall. It might not seem important when you’re just trying to get a contract, any contract, but it is. The choice of publisher and how well they support you can make the difference between having a career or being finished after one contract.

Also, when you meet editors and agents and conferences, move beyond telling them what your book is about (and hone your pitch to one sentence, give them a catchy title, and hand them a business card with this stuff on it). Then ask *them* questions. Get to know them: Are they having a good time? What do they like to read? Movies they like?

You will be working with these people; it’s important to find out now whether you are going to be comfortable with them.

Also, remember that everything is in flux. Agents retire, new agencies open, editors quit to become agents, editors change houses. The dire problems of last year fade before the dire problems of this year. :-)

7) Give us the heads-up on what's up next for you?

This week, my latest historical romance, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage was released by Berkley. It is the second book in the series begun with The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. I love this series and all its characters, and I include a sneak peek of book 3 (The Many Sins of Lord Cameron) in the back of Lady Is.

I have a webpage all about the Mackenzies and their series: I’ve posted excerpts, blurbs, bios, the family tree…

On my Allyson James side, I started a new series, Stormwalker, in May at Berkley. It’s a paranormal romance with an urban fantasy feel, starring Janet Begay, a Navajo biker chick with awesome powers, and her boyfriend Mick, who is known as a “Firewalker.” He’s a biker too, with sexy dragon tattoos. More about Mick and his background will be revealed in Firewalker in November. The series will continue next year as well. The website for this series is:

I also write paranormal romances as Jennifer Ashley, and have begun a series I’m calling “Shifters Unbound.” The first book, Pride Mates, proved to be extremely popular, and I’m following it up with Shifter Lovin’ in the spring (just saw the preliminary cover art—sexy Sean with his sword!) I also have a website for that series:

That’s it for now! I’ll also be having various novellas and short novels released over the next year—more about that will be on my websites as I get more information. I write four to five books per year, which is both exhilarating and exhausting!

I'm in 100% hands down agreement!! Writing four to five books a year is pretty breath-taking to my way of thinking. Talk about a dedicated love of writing! I love it! :) I'd like to thank Jennifer for letting me interview her. Here's wishing Jennifer a ton of success and sales not only with LADY ISABELLA'S SCANDALOUS MARRIAGE, but all her future releases!

THANK YOU, TLN'ers!! Hope your weekend is both titillating and relaxing like a turn on the Ferris Wheel. Here's
CHRIS LEDOUX's COUNTY FAIR to kick our weekend right. Don't worry, I'll eat some fair food for you! I've set my sights on a big ole corn dog and some fried zucchini! Catch you back Moanday for another segment of a Debut Author To Watch!


Bronwyn said...

Great interview Ladies!
It never fails to surprise me that some authors are fabulous and free with their helpful advice whereas others are tight-lipped and quiet on the subject we are most passionate about. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! I might go and have a squiz at your site, see if there's anything that can help me with my own million mile journey to publication...

Have a great weekend!


Rula Sinara said...

Great interview Sarah and Jennifer!

Jennifer, I love your honesty about your writing journey. One of the things we hear differing opinions about involves writing for different genres. Writers who are either unpublished or just published are often advised to stick to one genre until they've 'mastered' it (I use the term loosely). You're successful and talented in two very different genres. Did you stick with one for a long time before testing new waters? What's your opinion on genre jumping early in one's writing career?


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Ladies,
Great interview. Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage sounds like a great read Jennifer.



Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Thanks for having me here! I love to talk about getting published. :-)

Rula: The advice to stick to one genre, imho, should not be blanket advice to all authors. I think some authors are terrific at genre hopping, while others have one area in which they excel and should stay there if they want a career.

When I first started, my plan was to write anything that interested me, because how the heck would I know what I was good at? And the fact that I sold into two completely different genres at about the same time told me I could do more than one thing. Good thing, because I'd find it terribly restricting to stick to one genre or subgenre. I have many stories to tell! And they're not all historical romances.

That said, many publishers want you to stick to one genre, because they can "grow" you faster. If you publish five paranormal romances in a row, one every two months, your career can take off very quickly. BUT, it can also tank and DIE quickly (and the publisher says something like "it just didn't work"). That is the danger of doing one thing only--all your eggs are in one basket.

I make a very good living writing different genres and subgenres, and it keeps me fresh and wanting to work. However, I will add the caveat that this works for ME. It might not work for everyone. But then, how do you know what you're good at if you don't try different things?

(I am a crazy risk taker, yes, I know, but I'm bad at sticking with "safe" *g*)

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

I'll throw this in too: Doing what everyone tells you is not the way to a good writing career. Oh, they tell you that it's the way, but it's not. :-)

My "Jennifer on Writing" blog, btw is (if Sarah will permit me to post it):

Rula Sinara said...

Thanks, Jennifer! I'll be checking out your links.


Carol North said...

Hi Sarah:
Enlightening interview. Learned a lot.

Hi Jennifer:
Wow! You're one prolific writer.

Thank yuou both.

peggy said...

Ienjoyed reading The madness of lord Ian Mackenzie and i can't wait to read your new

Sarah Simas said...

Thanks again, Jennier, for being here today! And thanks for posting your link. DOH! I'd meant to hyperlink the title in the question. Sorry about that. :)

HI Bronwyn, Rula, Margaret, Carol, and Peggy! Thank YOU for swinging by! :)

Angela Kay Austin said...

Jennifer, I love the way you say your writing has changed. I look back over some of my earlier query letters an manuscripts, and I amaze myself at the changes.

Great interview.

Kari Thomas said...

Hey Jennifer! Great Interview, ladies! I really enjoyed hearing about your writing journey and how you stuck to your determination. You should think about putting that info in the Desert Rose Newsletter ---there are quite a few newbies who would get alot of inspiration out of it.

LOVED Pride Mates and IMpatiently awaiting the next in the Series!! OOH, how can I resist a book titled Shifter Lovin!!??!!

hugs, Kari Thomas,

JasonBirk佳琪 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stacey said...

Great interview I love historicals and Paranormal so your books reach both of my needs in books shur to be gettting lots of your books think i may allready have one of your hisoricals.

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