LAURIE: Jenn, I'm so glad you could join us today to talk about your debut book with Anaiah Press and your writing journey. What inspired you to write this story?
JENN: My father died in January 2014 and I spent the rest of the year with my nose in books. I read a total of 135 books that year. In the beginning of 2015, I thought "I can do this." And I did. This book started with one scene and developed from there.
"All Maggie Jones wants to do is sell her late father's property and get out of Whitehaven, Texas as fast as possible - before she runs into the one man she's spent the past six years avoiding. Someone has other plans for her though. Sinister plans. And when a seemingly harmless act of vandalism turns into a series of menacing threats, she has no choice but to turn to the last person on earth she wants to see for help.
Sheriff Cody Smith never expected to see Maggie again, especially after he'd broken her heart all those years ago. Maybe this is the second chance he's always wanted. But when he realizes Maggie's in grave danger, he intends to keep her safe at all costs. With lines from an old nursery rhyme as their only clue, he needs to find out who's behind this deadly game before the rhyme ends and Maggie's time runs out. Can he protect her, catch the bad guy, and make amends for past wrongs? Or will old wounds get in the way?"
LAURIE: Well, I must say, I LOVE your cover! And how did you come to be published with Anaiah Press?
JENN: I had written "Hidden Danger" and submitted it to another publisher. It was rejected. I decided to sit on it for awhile and get a second book finished and maybe pitch them both. One day I was on my lunch break and scrolling through social media. A friend posted on Facebook that #PitMad was happening on Twitter. I thought "Why not?" I boiled my 56,000 word novel down in to a 144 character pitch. I got a "like". I submitted the synopsis and first three chapters. One week later I got a request for the full manuscript. Then I was offered a contract.
LAURIE: And I understand this is just the first book in the series coming out then?
JENN: Yes. This is my first novel. I was close to finishing book two when I signed the contract on Hidden Danger. I finished the book and sent it to my editor. She offered a contract on it as well. I'm currently working on edits for it.
LAURIE: What draws you to writing romantic suspense as opposed to straight up romance or romantic comedies?
JENN: I don't know what drew me to it. Maybe it was because I had been reading mostly Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense. It's funny, I never really read much romance until my dad died. Before then I preferred mysteries and thrillers.
LAURIE: Are there any authors who've influenced you in your writing? Do you have any favorite authors?
JENN: Marion Faith Laird is in my local writer's group. She has a novel with Harlequin's LIS line. She helped me a lot with my writing. I'm also friends with Angela Ruth Strong on Facebook. I love her Resort to Love series. I've had a couple of brainstorming sessions with her. I'm actually friends with several authors and they are all so helpful.
LAURIE: How long has it taken you to get published and what advice would you give to other writers trying to break in to the Christian market?
JENN: I finished "Hidden Danger" in 2016 and participated in #PitMad in 2017. It just released with Anaiah Press on January 23, 2018. As for trying to break in, get on social media and follow other authors and publishers you intend to submit to. Know what they require and what's a no-no. Never give up. If you get a rejection from one publisher, try another. Keep reading and keep learning the craft.
LAURIE: What hobbies do you like to do when you're not writing? Anything else you'd like our readers to know about you and your work?
JENN: Hanging out with my family. We like to play card games like Phase 10 and Skipbo. I love to read, too.
LAURIE: And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?
JENN: That I can't tell you. I don't have a specific release date, but I do know it will be in 2018.
LAURIE: Thanks again for being here today, Jenn. If you're looking for a romantic suspense read, you can find Jenn's book on Amazon.com.
LAURIE: Patti Jo Moore, I'm so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book, A Seaside Romance, and your writing journey. First of all, can you tell us a bit about the book and what inspired you to write this story?
Thank you, Laurie. I'm thrilled to be visiting your wonderful blog today - and this is my very first interview as a published author! A Seaside Romance is the story of a young woman trying to put her painful past behind her as she moves from her home in South Georgia to Florida to assist her aunt in running a gift shop. She meets a handsome businessman who also has pain in his past, and a relationship develops. But they are both guarding their hearts, so there are concerns and doubts (including a very tense scene toward the end). But I love happy endings, so this story has one!
I was inspired to write this story after visiting the Florida panhandle area for a "girlfriends" trip with my four best friends. I kept thinking about the gorgeous beach and water, and what a great setting it would be for a romance. This story formed in my mind, so I began writing it. The more I wrote, the more I loved the characters.
LAURIE: And I understand this is just the first book you have coming out with Forget-Me-Not Romances?
Yes, I was blessed to sign a 3-book contract, so this book is the first in my "Emerald Coast Romances" series. Book 2 will be An Unexpected Romance, and Book 3 will be In Tune With Romance. All three stories are set in the same fictional town on the Florida panhandle coast, but feature different main characters.
LAURIE: What was the process for getting together with Forget-Me-Not Romances?
I'd heard of the Forget-Me-Not Romances and began reading them. When I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2016, on my first night there I encountered three different authors who suggested I talk to the Forget-Me-Not publisher. I wondered then if the Lord was nudging me toward that line. Later at the conference one of the authors introduced me to the publisher and she was very encouraging. I didn't actually send her one of my stories until the Fall of 2017, and was thrilled when she offered me a contract in late November!
LAURIE: Have you always written romances or did you write in other genres as well?
I've only written romances (both contemporary and historical) but I plan on writing some children's books too. Historical romance is my very favorite genre to read, so I've got some ideas brewing for more of those also.
LAURIE: Are there any authors who've influenced you in your writing? Do you have any particular favorite authors?
I have so many favorite authors! But my very favorite authors are Tamera Alexander, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Deborah Raney, Sharlene MacLaren, and Tina Radcliffe. I love their style of writing and am blessed to call each of these ladies a friend.
LAURIE: How long has it taken you to get published?
Close to eight years. Due to severe back/spinal issues I had to retire from my kindergarten teaching job, so I saw this as the Lord opening the door for my writing. But when I had four major surgeries (within 8 days!) I had to put my writing on hold and focus on recovering. Then both my daughters had big weddings a year apart, and I was super busy with those. So, in 2012 I really began focusing again on my writing and learning all I could to make my stories stronger.
LAURIE: What advice would you give yourself back when you first started out, knowing now what you didn't know then?
I'd tell myself that my stories MUST have more conflict! The first writing I did hardly contained any conflict at all - which most likely is due to the fact I'd worked with young children and wanted everyone to "get along".
LAURIE: What hobbies do you like to do when you're not writing? And is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about you and your work?
I love working on my needlepoint, playing my piano, reading, and I also have several ministry project I enjoy. I especially love spending time with family and friends - including my sweet grand baby who was born last July. I'm also a "Cat Mom" to lots of sweet, pampered kitties.
I hope my readers will enjoy my first book and future stories I write. When people ask me what I write, I tell them "Sweet Southern Stories" that feature a faith message (but don't preach). I'd also like to add that I love connecting with readers and have a Facebook page at Author Patti Jo Moore.
LAURIE: And finally, what's your perfect idea of a Valentine's Day date?
Enjoying a yummy steak dinner and then visiting a book store!
LAURIE: Thank you, Patti Jo, for visiting today. And everyone who leaves a comment will be entered in to a draw for TWO copies of Patti Jo's book A SEASIDE ROMANCE...so, tell us readers, what's YOUR idea of the perfect Valentine's Day date?
I'm a military wife who's raised two wonderful special needs children to adulthood. We've lived all over Canada and are still on that journey. When I'm not writing, I can be found spinning, knitting, and hanging out with my dogs.