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!
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
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.
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!!!