Interview with Bestselling Author, Jill Marie Landis

Aloha! Katy Lee Here. Today New York Times Bestselling author, Jill Marie Landis is visiting the Scribes from Hawaii! Waa-hoo! Jill has a new book out, Heart of Glass. She will also be giving away a free copy to one commenter. Heart of Glass OR another of her books, Mai Tai One On, the winner’s choice. So sit back, readers, and listen to Jill’s wise words of wisdom from the islands!

Being a fan of your secular books and your inspirationals, can you tell us what made you decide to to write both? 

Western historical romances, which have all but vanished from the secular market are very strong as inspirationals. My first love was writing western historical romances and I also enjoyed reading inspirational fiction so what appeals to me most about writing for the inspirational market is the fact that I can write about people of faith, people who are searching to find themselves, lasting love, and something to believe in. These were the people who built the west, the people of the prairies and plains; the folks who went west with their families and their strong faith to build this nation. Writing novels with western/Americana/historical settings that would be “PG” so to speak, stories with sexual tension without love scenes, also appealed to me.

My first inspirationals were two novels set in 1875 in the fictional town of Glory, Texas, written for Steeple Hill Women’s Fiction Single Title. HOMECOMING is still #3 on their Amazon Kindle list right now. I recently wrote three books for Zondervan, another inspirational publisher. The Irish Angel Series includes characters introduced in Glory,Texas and they are also set in Texas as well as Louisiana in the late 1870’s.  

I’ve always believed that good writers can write anything as long as they are inspired by and excited about the subject, genre, or characters. I’m thrilled that readers who enjoyed my early books have also enjoyed the inspirationals and vice versa.

How do you battle the doubt monster?  We define the Doubt Monster as: the nagging feeling while writing that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

Just keep typing! There are days I experience all of doubts listed above, so what I do is just keep typing. I think it’s easier to fix something bad than to stare at a blank screen and get more tied up in angst.

Some days I sit down and make myself write with the promise that I’ll “fix it later.” What usually happens is that in the sheer act of writing something…anything…is that soon I’m so involved in the story and characters again that the doubt fades away. I think at some point in every book an author has doubts. Just keep typing! If you are published, look at some of your published works and remind yourself you’ve done this before and you can do it again and again.

Have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

All the time. I’m always coming up with far out ideas and want to try new things but I’ve usually got a book or two under contract and have to stick to the task. I branched out from Historical Romances after writing 17 of them. I wrote 3 contemporary hard covers for Ballantine: Lover’s Lane, Heat Wave and Heartbreak Hotel. I’ve written five inspirational romances.

Most recently I’ve been working on The Tiki Goddess Mysteries, a cozy comedic series set on Kauai which started with Book 1: Mai Tai One On. I have a couple of ideas banging around in my head for something totally different, but time is the obstacle that keeps me from starting. I often wish I could write one book with my left hand and another with my right.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell?  What is holding you back?

I haven’t told what I’m calling my secret project yet. I can’t say what it is because I’m convinced it’s a killer idea and therefore must remain secret. Someone who writes faster than me could have it finished in three weeks. I need to finish my books under contract first…or maybe just work on the secret project on the weekends or something.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

If I wasn’t writing anymore I would be painting fun, funky tropical tiki art. I have always wanted to take lessons in how to mix paint colors and find out how to use light in foreground or background in landscapes. Right now I just paint by the seat of my pants but I enjoy it when I can spare the time. If I wasn’t a full time writer I’d also devote more time to hula.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half of a novel shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Funny you should mention that. Mine is more than a half done. It’s all finished and it’s 26 years old! When I was on the mainland at Christmas I found my first novel in a box in my office there. It received about 16 rejections (good enough rejections to keep me writing). Eventually it sold to a romance publisher who then went bankrupt right before the book was to come out! I brought it back to Kauai this year with the intention of editing it and getting it ready for the market. I thought maybe I could publish it for the “first time ever in print” as an e-book if nothing else.

After working on it a few days I decided that there’s a reason this book is still “in a box under the bed.” It would require a total revamping to be up to my standards and reader expectation now. The Point of View is all over the map and I really can’t stand the heroine. So I’ve put it back in a box and might even take it up to the dump rather than store it any longer. I learned a lot writing the book so it was well worth the effort. Even better, I actually got to keep the advance the publisher paid me before they went belly up. It was a blessing this book never saw the light of day. Things always work out for the best eventually.

How do you come up with your shtick?   By shtick I mean your voice. That thing that identifies the story as belonging to only you. 

I don’t think writers can actually “come up with a voice.” I believe that’s what’s in them to begin with. Just as singers have different, recognizable sounds and hit notes that resonate with audiences, writers have very distinct voices. It may take a while for a writer to trust her own voice. A mistake a new writer makes is trying to write like someone else, hoping that’s the key to selling. A voice is a voice. I’ve always written character driven stories and try to hit on the emotional situations that people relate to and make the characters come alive no matter the time period or genre.

What is your junk food of choice?

Only ONE?? It’s a toss up between Cheeze Its, Cheetos, brownies, ice cream, or Jack in the Box tacos.

Tell us about your book!

My latest release is HEART OF GLASS from Zondervan, which will be available after March 20. Right now they are running a special for e-book downloads for $2.99. This is the third book of the Irish Angels Series. It’s an inspirational historical romance set in Louisiana in 1876, ten years after the Civil War. It has a Beauty and the Beast theme and of the three books in the series it’s my favorite.

             “In her third Irish Angel book, Landis brings readers an amazing love story that even the Civil War can’t destroy. Her characters are bigger than life, and there is always a little something extra in all her books that keeps her readers turning the pages.”    RT Bookclub

Read an excerpt of HEART OF GLASS at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/81943573/Heart-of-Glass-A-Novel-by-Jill-Marie-Landis

JILLMARIE LANDIS’S twenty+ novels have earned distinguished awards and slots on such national bestseller lists as the USATODAY Top 50 and the New York Times Best Sellers Plus. She is a seven-time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award in Single Title Historical and Contemporary Romance as well as a Golden Heart and RITA Award winner.

Jill Marie resides in Hawaii with her husband. When she’s not writing or sitting on the beach reading, she enjoys visiting with family and friends, raising orchids, working in her garden, occasionally quilting, plunking on the ukulele but mostly dancing the hula. Her recent releases are HEART OF LIES (2011) and HEART OF GLASS (March 2012) from Zondervan and MAI TAI ONE ON (2011), the first of a series of hilarious Tiki Goddess Mysteries set in Hawaii from Belle Books.

Right now I’m working on Book 2 of the Tiki Goddess Mysteries. The working title is TWO TO MANGO. Once again, the heroine and manager of the Tiki Goddess Bar on Kauai must band together with a quirky dance troupe of over-the-hill Hula Maidens, encourage them to enter a dance competition, and help their favorite fire-dancing-detective discover who is killing off members of a famous hula school. Note: Try the tempting tropical drink recipes included at your own risk.

I’m on two facebook pages at Jill Marie Landis and also The Tiki Goddess.

Also:  www.jillmarielandis.com  and www.thetikigoddess.com

Thanks so much Katy!   

Thank you Jill!

Readers: Remember to leave a comment for Jill by 3/12/12 @12noon EST. And then check back next Sunday to see who is the lucky winner! And FYI, Heart of Glass is available on ebook for preorder at a super good price of $2.99!!! http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Glass-Novel-Series-ebook/dp/B005MQVHIQ/ref=sr_1_sc_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1331469231&sr=8-3-spell

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24 thoughts on “Interview with Bestselling Author, Jill Marie Landis”

  1. Hi Jill, thanks for visiting Katy, and sharing your writing thoughts. I am always leary of dumping into the dumpster those “things” hanging around for so long. When you rid yourself of it, it becomes prevalent. But they gotta go, then if you need it, you get to do a redo, one with more experience and savvy. Katy, thanks for having Jill.

    1. Hi Gail,
      I usually keep everything too, but I kept that old book around for 26 years and that gave me a lot of time to separate myself from it. Believe me when I say it’s terrible and it would be a monumental task to revamp it. Better to start fresh for sure. Thanks for stopping by!
      Jill

  2. READERS: Jill is coming to us from Hawaii, so she will visit with us later today when her day gets started. So be sure to leave her reply, but check back later on in the day, too!

    Jill, I hope you are recovering from all the flooding this past week in Kauai. I pray you and your family are safe and sound.

    We’re excited to have you today!!!

    1. Hi Katy! Thanks for the chance to blog here. Gulb Gulb is all I can say about the weather. Photos of the flood are on my facebook page. I’m looking forward to answering comments and sending a book to the winner. Take care and aloha!
      Jill

  3. I was fortunate enough to attend the RWA conference in Hawaii several years ago. I have been a Jill Marie Landis fan since that time. Not only is she an excellent writer, but she is also a “hoot” as a public speaker.

    1. Thank you Marian! I hope you try Heart of Glass. It’s my favorite of the 3 Irish Angel books, though it seems my last book is always my favorite…maybe because it’s finished. Take care and mahalo,
      Jill

  4. Thanks for the great advice and a wonderful interview, Jill. Oh, to be lounging in a lagoon in Hawaii…you lucky girl! Good luck with your book. It looks amazing!

    1. Hi! Is it PJ or Sharon? Or both? Or are you in your PJ’s like me? I’m afraid I’m not lounging in a lagoon right now…my back yard is filling up with rainwater yet again. A week of rain totally over 45 inches!!
      We are lucky to live in paradise though. Even in a storm it’s fabulous and green. Aloha,
      Jill

    1. Hi Charlotte,
      Surprise! Hate to say it but since I’ll be traveling with my mom in June I’m not going to be back for the conference. Sure wish I could wing my way over there every few months. Someday I have to plan a 2nd Sat. of the month to be there! Hope all is well and thanks,
      Jill

  5. Hi Jill! I’m a huge romance junky and I’ve read a ton of your books! Thanks for joining us today. What advice can you give to a newbie writer like myself. Is there something you wish you knew when you were starting out?

    1. Love it: J Monkeys!
      Advice…I wish I’d known so much more when I started.

      Number one is organize your thoughts, know what you want to write and do your research but don’t use that as an excuse not to write. Write a little bit almost every day. Don’t stop to fix it too much. Keep going. Don’t ask a lot of people to read it and tell you what they think; they’ll either lie and say they love it or they’ll give you advice you don’t need. It’s your book, your story. GET TO THE END. See if you have what it takes to finish a book.

  6. Hi Jill, somehow I have missed your books all these years but just read Heart of Stone recently and LOVE it hoping to get #2 and #3. Guess I will have to check library for #2 as since it has been out awhile may not be in say Walmart etc which is where I get most of my books unless it is the Used Bookstore which is where I found one I just read. I love the way you write. Keep up the good work and God bless, Patti in VA

    1. Hi Patti,
      Not sure my publisher has my books at Walmart, at least they don’t here. You can check Amazon as they also have new and used books. So glad you have finally “found” me. Aloha!
      Jill

      1. Thanks for the reply Jill. I will check Amazon but will ask my dau to get them for me as I don’t buy anything online. Wonder if CBS carry them I get a lot thro’ them. Good nite

  7. Great interview, Jill and Katy! Jill, I loved hearing about your book in the box that you’re thinking of taking to the dump. That helps me with my decision to leave my first book on an old hard drive and not pay someone to try to get it off. :)

    1. Missy,
      If you don’t need it right now, best to leave it alone. Figure that you learned a lot along the way. It’s like doing a major remodel on a house…sometimes it’s too much time and effort and money, best just to start a new one. Glad that helped.
      Jill

  8. I have been MOST anxious to read the final book in Jill’s series! Thanks so much for the giveaway opportunity. :)

    Christy

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