Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interview with Holly Jacobs, Harlequin and Avalon Author

Today, I welcome a very special author to my home, a long-time and valued friend, Holly Jacobs. I've known Hall since before she wrote for Harlequin. Please ask her questions and leave comments for her. 1) What inspires you? I could honestly answer that I’ve been inspired by all the fantastic authors I’ve read over the years. That the love of the written word keeps me writing, that the joy of creating stories inspires me to head to the computer each day. All are the truth. But there’s another truth. Paying my kids’ tuitions...that inspires me and sends me running to the computer each day. Not only does that mean they get great educations, but it also means someday they’ll be self-supporting adults and my nest will be empty! LOL 2) Do you have any other dreams (reached or unreached as of yet) besides writing? Yes, I dream about an empty nest (see previous answer ). Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore my kids, but I have four. And I had them very early in life. I’m so ready for some peace and quiet...and four kids do not inspire much in the way of peace or quiet! LOL 3) What do you prize above all else? Okay, after that last flippant answer, you might not believe me, but honest and truly, as much as I live for an empty nest, I do treasure my family above everything else. They drive me crazy and conversely, keep me sane and grounded! 4) What was the inspiration for your latest book, "Same Time Next Summer"? Okay, I’m mentioning my kids in four out of four answers so far, but truly as a mother, there’s nothing more horrifying than seeing your child injured and not being able to make it better. Daughter #2 was a daredevil, always following her older sister, even when she was too little to do something. She was just a toddler and they were with a babysitter, when she followed her sister up a big slide–and fell. She ended up in the ER and the moment when I walked into the examination room and saw her, so tiny on that bed, her older sister standing by her side, holding her hand...well, it’s forever ingrained in my memory. That feeling–that utter helplessness–really inspired SAME TIME NEXT SUMMER. Carolyn’s daughter was in an accident and she’s in a coma. Carolyn’s helplessness, and her staunch belief that she’ll come back...my kids inspired that one! 5) You are so very prolific. How do you balance being a wife, mother, and novelist? My basic rule of thumb is, family first. I try to be involved with the kids’ school, although my involvement centers around what’s important to them. I go on fieldtrips, and volunteer in school, but I rarely volunteer to work salad bar...they don’t care if I chop lettuce! LOL I’ve learned to say no to things like that. As for my writing, I’ve always treated it as a career–even before I sold. Family is first...but writing is second. Dust bunnies?? Last. LOL 6) What is your most challenging aspect of being a writer? That balancing act that every working mother faces. Balancing my career needs against the family/kids’ needs. I try to walk the line and most days I think I do a good job of it. But sometimes I slip and then all I can do is try to do better the next time round! 7) I heard one of your recent novels sold out its first print run. That's AWESOME! Do you have any idea why this happened? Yes, that was the first book in my Everything But... trilogy for Avalon Books, EVERYTHING BUT A GROOM. It sold out almost immediately and had to go into a second printing. And no, I have no idea why that one did so well. That’s the thing with promotion...it’s impossible to tell what the tipping-point is. So, I do what I can for each book, whether it’s ads or online promotions, or interviews (thanks, Elaine! ) then I cross my fingers and hope for the best! 8) How many hours do you write on a typical day and how many hours do you market? Or do you have someone who helps you with your marketing? As a mother, there’s no such thing as a typical day. I don’t go by hours of writing, I go by pages. Five a day is the goal. And since I’m writing longer books now, and Harlequin has started going by computer word count, rather than page counts, I switched to Arial. Five pages in Arial is more like seven in Courier. And then, if I want my weekends off, I do seven each weekday and can take the weekend off. And in Arial, that’s more like ten pages in Courier. So, I normally do about ten pages, but in my head it’s only five! LOL (PS Don’t tell my brain that I’m fooling it...so far it’s working! ) As for promotion, I do hire someone to design my ads and website, but I do all the website updating myself, and various other aspects myself, including online networking, like participating at eHarlequin.com or at MySpace. Maybe an hour most days...more or less. 9) Do you ever have difficulty writing any kind of scene? If so, what type and what do you do to get through it? Love scenes are my hardest scenes to write. I write a lot of rated G books that don’t require love scenes, but there are books where the story requires the scene. Okay, funny story about love scenes and the first one I wrote for Harlequin. My editor called with revisions for the book and told me I had to rewrite the love scene. “Why?” I asked. “ Because she (the heroine) didn’t have a good time,” was her response. So, now, when I write a love scene, I make sure that the heroine has a good time...sometimes even a great time! LOL 10) Have you met your writing/publishing goals? If not, what goals are you striving for still? My basic goal, as I said before, is to make enough to pay tuitions, and so far, so good! LOL But seriously, my real writing goals are to try and improve, to try and push each book to a new level, and to keep my readers happy! So far, so good there, too! Of course, no writer can make every reader happy, but most of mine have had nice things to say, so I’m happy! 11) What is your favorite part of writing? Writing the words The End. Okay, so I don’t really write those words, I just write that final scene and final word...but that’s my favorite part. Knowing I’ve taken an idea from my mind and turned it into a fully-formed book with a beginning, middle and end is still as much of a rush as it was first time round! 12) Do you have any rules or methods you use when writing? My biggest rule is trying not to suck! LOL Seriously, my biggest rule is remember that this is a business. I treat it as such. I work during my office hours, and I try to remember to take time off to enjoy my life...my family. Like I said, it’s a balancing act, and I do the best I can! 13) What is your advice to aspiring novelists who may be feeling a bit rejected early in their careers? All you can do is keep writing. Keep telling stores that you love...that delight you. Write something, anything, every day. And keep writing. What separates an unpublished writer and a published one, is just that stubbornness that keeps you writing, even when you’ve had some knocks. 14) Besides writing, what else makes you "Holly"? Oh, “Holly” is a myriad of weird foibles! My dh and I “geek” date. We antique and hit wineries. We have a huge love of Disney (and while I love it, he’s gone beyond mere love to some whole new level of attachment). And of course, there’s the kids. We do their activities. I guess, even more than my writing, what makes me “Holly” is my family. 15) What's next on your agenda? I’ve got a bunch of speaking/signings coming up. In September I’m in Pittsburgh signing at Borders, in October I’m doing a local Women’s Expo for two days, and I’m going to Buffalo to speak to the Western NY RWA group. And I’m going to be doing a big signing here in Erie in February...just in time for Valentine’s! (More information on all my upcoming appearances are on my website!) 16) I see at your website that you have many more books coming out in 2008. Please tell us about them and when they'll be available. Okay...taking a deep breath...here goes: SAME TIME NEXT SUMMER, Harlequin Superromance, US and Australia release, 8/08 (available in mass market paperback, Larger print paperback and eBook) *EVERYTHING BUT A BRIDE, Avalon Books, 8/08 (hardback) **ONCE UPON A THANKSGIVING, Harlequin American Romance, 10/08 (available in mass market paperback and as eBook) **ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS, Harlequin American Romance, 12/08 (available in mass market paperback and as eBook) *EVERYTHING BUT A WEDDING, Avalon Books, 12/08 (hardback) CHRISTMAS EVE KISSES, UK Mills Boon Single Title, 12/08 **ONCE UPON A VALENTINE’S, Harlequin American Romance, 2/09 (available in mass market paperback and as eBook) CRIB NOTES (working title), Harlequin SuperRomance, 12/09 (available in mass market paperback, Larger print paperback and eBook) *part of Avalon’s Everything But...trilogy **part of Harlequin American Romance’s American Dad Trilogy 17) Please let us know when and where we can find you, online and off, in the coming months. Please include your website, chats, conferences, and any book signings. I covered the speaking gigs and books, but next year, I’m planning on attending RT’s Convention in April, and I’ll definitely be at RWA’s National Conference in Washington DC in July! There are a couple other possible appearances, but nothing in stone yet! 18) Please tell us all about "Same Time Next Summer". Every summer, Carolyn Kendal and Stephan Foster met at their neighboring lakeside cottages. They swam and played at chasing shadows across the beach. That childhood game taught them a basic life-lesson, ‘there’s always another shadow.’ The trick is remembering to believe it will eventually give way to sunshine again. They spend their childhoods as summer friends. In their late teens, they had one magical summer-fling before they went their separate ways. Summers go by without their paths crossing, and when they do meet again, they’re committed to other people. But when tragedy strikes Carolyn, it’s Stephan who rushes to her side and Stephan who supports her, when everyone else has given up. Stephan stands by Carolyn and they try to discover if there is such a thing as a second chance. Same Time Next Summer is a story about change, about believing that some changes--however hard--are worth creating a 'new normal' for. Carolyn and Stephan both learn that no matter what anyone says, they have to trust their hearts to show them the way. And their hearts always lead them to each other. 19) Do you have any final thoughts to share with us? That’s pretty much me in a nutshell...a foible-ridden, mother of four who’s very happily married and loves to write! I also love to hear from readers. They can reach me through my website, www.HollyJacobs.com and I hang out a lot at http://community.eharlequin.com/users/holly-jacobs I’m also at MySpace, GoodReads and Shelfari. Stop in and say hi! www.HollyJacobs.com You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch, Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, and Cindy Spencer Pape are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)

15 comments:

Kelly Kirch said...

Excellent interview. Holly thanks for sharing so much about your writing career. Print books are a foreign animal to most of us.

HollyJacobs said...

.

HollyJacobs said...

Oops!

First, thanks so much Ashley for inviting me over!

Kelly, Thanks for checking out the interview!

Holly

Ashley Ladd said...

Holly, you're very welcome. I love having you here.

Kelly, thanks for stopping by and helping me to welcome Holly.

I'm sure more guests will pop in as it's still early. I only just awoke myself, but then I'm like Garfield the cat (according to my hubby) - I don't do mornings.

Kate Walker said...

Hi Holly! I just had to drop by and read this great interview - love finding out more about my lovely friend!

Antiques and wineries, hmm - I knew we were alike. One day the Babe Magnet and I must join you on one of those trips

Oh yes and Same Time Next Summer is right on the top of my TBR pile - can't wait!

Hugs

Kate

Molly Daniels said...

Great interview, Holly:) I love the premise:) How long did it take for you to be pubbed, from the first submission?

HollyJacobs said...

Oh, Kate, I'd love to have you and my very lovely friend join us! I really want to go into New England some fall when the leaves are turning and just skip from antique store to antique store!

As for wineries, you might not think of Western Pennsylvania as big wine country, but because of our proximity to the lake, it is!

And thanks...I so hope you like Same Time Next Summer. It's one of my more serious books!

Holly

HollyJacobs said...

Molly,

My target market was Harlequin. It took me a couple years to break in there, but I was lucky that some of those initial books were picked up elsewhere, like Precious Gems. I just kept submitting to Harlequin, regardless of how many times I was rejected. I figured eventually I'd wear them down! LOL

Thanks for taking the time to check out the interview!

Holly

Ashley Ladd said...

I'll have to do that Hall. I have one submission at Harlequin right now and am working on another one at this time.I tried to wear down Precious Gems but they went out of business before I did.

HollyJacobs said...

Ashley,

One of the keys with Harlequin is knowing the line you're targeting. There are guidelines on eHarlequin, and I always suggest that people read that line...get a feel for the variety of stories that they publish. I have an article called From Slush to Shelf that will be in the November RWR (I think) and I talk to Kathleen Scheibling, with Harlequin American about how the process works. It might give you some insight, too.

You know my fingers are crossed!

Holly

Ashley Ladd said...

Thanks Hall. I also meant to ask, did you simultaneously submit to Harlequin when you kept submitting or did you wait for a submission to come back rejected before sending the next?

CherylStJohn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CherylStJohn said...

Holly, I am so proud of your accomplishments and always knew you would be successful.

RT, hmm? Now that's fun....Off to look at my April calendar.

HollyJacobs said...

Ashley,

No, I didn't send more than one submission. Well, I take that back. I'd been targeting Duets, and when one rejection came (and they did come! LOL) I'd have written the next book and immediately sent it in. This went on for some time.

While I was submitting to Duets, I met Leslie Wainger and she suggested I submit to Silhouette Romance, which I did. So, I had to submissions at the company, but one was at Duets, one at Sil. Romance.

Then I sold to Duets in 3/00 and sold to Sil. Romance in 6/00.

Holly

HollyJacobs said...

Cheryl,

It would be fantastic to see you at RT!!! I think I'm getting there a day late because my dh and I are going to try a cruise first!

Holly

Website Content and Copy: Ashley Ladd, 2008.|Blog Design by JudithShakes Designs.
Graphics hosted by Flickr.