Sunday, April 17, 2011

Forgive and Forget?

When I first met Jenna Bayley-Burke, I knew we would become friends. Why? She is just one of those people you instantly like. She sees the world as a hilarious place to live--though a bit chaotic. Whether she is chasing her three young children, organizing a baby shower for a friend, or joining in a kiddie party, she truly lives up to her moniker of "domestic goddess."  It's no wonder she writes incredible romances with a bit of humor.  But she can also be serious and very supportive of people in need, as evidenced by her latest novel.
Please welcome Jenna Bayley-Burke as she launches her eighth novel, Private Scandal from Samhain Publishing. Set to release April 19th.

What was the initial spark that put this story in your head?

Celebutants & Rapunzel. No kidding. I've always identified with the story (and not just because I long for the hair!) Circumstances happen to people and they have to find a way out of them. The white knight riding in to save the day is fine, but I like heroines who aren't waiting around for the pounding of hoofbeats and are instead actively looking for ways to save themselves. And while I love the soap operas that are the lives of our reality TV stars, I think they give celebutants a bad rap. Sure, some of them have a boyfriend of the week and have spent enough on their shoe collection to build a dozen elementary schools, but others are using their status and wealth to help others. Lauren Bush's work to fight world hunger comes to mind. Then it started with a what if:: poor little rich girl loses everything - money, family, boyfriend, friends, dog....what does she do? How does she save herself? 

Your reputation is for writing hot contemporaries with a flirty sense of humor.  The blurb on this book seems more serious.  Is this book a new direction for you or is there still some humor too?

I've had an emotional streak going! Writers tend to channel bits of their own mood into their work, and the last two were written when I was in a torn place personally. I had to make some hard choices about what was best for me and it wasn't always the popular choice. Now that I have that squared away (mostly), I'll be returning to stories where I can explore whacky things and crack myself up!
It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story.  Is there anything in this story like that?  If so, what?

For me it tends to be what the characters eat. If there's food in the scene you can bet that I was dieting and wanted something delicious instead of carrot sticks (not that there's anything wrong with carrots). In this story, Megan is the champion of a handful of women's shelters that her family had always provided for. Without the family's backing, these private shelters are in trouble. I've always been passionate that every soul should feel safe in their own home, and I think I unconsciously chose women's shelters because of this.
Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?

I love the flying Birkin scene. Oh, and when Megan walks through the penthouse in a towel. And pretty much any scene with Danny in it. The guy might need his own book! I tend to like the funnier scenes, which is why I tend to write them. When I can write something I think is clever, and then read it later and laugh, I know I've done a good job.
I know you have a pretty extensive backlist and you've published widely. Where can readers find all the books you've written?

The Amazon river will come right to your door :) I have novels from Samhain there, but the erotica from Phaze is available at places like Diesel ebooks and Fictionwise. The Mills & Boon romances are nearly impossible to find, which is such a disappointment. I'm hoping I can convince them to ebook them soon.

What's next for you?  Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?  Will you be traveling in the next few months where readers can find you?

I'm re-releasing a reworked version of one of my favorite stories, For Kicks, in late summer with Samhain. Writing the story was therapy for me since I was able to work out my years in retail management. It's about reaching your goal and then realizing it wasn't right for you.

Hopefully, I'll be writing up a storm in the next few months! I don't have any reader events planned until RWA Nationals in NYC in late June!

Thanks for joining us, Jenna!

You can get Jenna's new book, Private Scandals, at one of these fine online retailers.  I personally pre-ordered it and can hardly wait for it to download to my Nook.  I suggest you run and get your copy too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

If You Go Home, What Will You Find?

Just the title of this book got me to download it to my Nook the moment I heard it was available.  I'm a sucker for stories where a woman takes a look at her life and says "What am I doing? What do I want to be doing?  What am I willing to sacrifice to get there?"  Maybe that's because it's happened to me more than once.  Then when I found out this was about a Marine--even better a woman Marine--I absolutely had to have it. A woman. A hero. A journey to self-discovery.  AND it's in the capable hands of Susan Lute!  Ahhhhhhh.  Pull up a piece of rug in front of the fire and settle in with Jane's Long March Home.

Multiple RITA winner, Wendy Warren, sums up Susan Lute's sense of story best.  She said, ""Susan Lute is a beautiful keeper of the human heart. She explores the soul and leaves the reader certain life is worth the journey." So, it is with great pleasure that I am interviewing Susan Lute this week. Welcome Su!

Hi Maggie. Thanks for inviting me to Behind The Book.  

What was the initial spark that put this story in your head? 

I’ve always wanted to understand the intimate relationship between surviving grief and the enduring strength of the human spirit. And because I grew up in a military family, I guess it’s not surprising I should start that exploration with a Marine story. Interesting enough, the original version was about a wounded Marine and how he got from one day to the next after a terrorist attack took his best friend. Then I wondered what would happen if the Marine was a lady, who was desperate to return to the life she was about to lose because of a lot of insubordination and disorderly conduct. That idea became Jane’s Long March Home, the first of four novels about Marine pals who played poker every Friday night, until a bomb changed everything.

Your last book was a light and humorous category book for Harlequin. This one is definitely more serious and Women's Fiction oriented. Is this book a new direction for you?

Jane’s Long March Home is more serious in tone than Oops...We’re Married?, but at the heart of both stories is a traditional, multi-generational, contemporary romance that hopefully leaves reader’s hearts happy. You’re right - the stories I love to tell don’t fit into one specific genre, because I quite naturally write a women’s fiction flavored contemporary romance. I’ve probably always told this story, but Jane is the first of these genre blended books to be published, and as long as I can keep publishing them, I’m very excited to have at least three more books in the Falling For A Hero series. I also have two women’s fiction novels looking for a home, and a completely different genre for me, a post apocalyptic paranormal romance that was tremendous fun to write.

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story.  Is there anything in this story like that?  If so, what?
Well, there is the Marine angle. And, when I met my husband, he lived in a little valley along the Columbia Gorge in Central Oregon, called Lone Pine. I always thought I was writing the orphan story. I come from a blended family and, looking back, I can see it’s family that most intrigues me, whether it’s the one a person is born into, or the one they gather around them. Like Jane, when I was young and just starting out on my own, I used to think I didn’t need family. How wrong we both turned out to be.

Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?

This is an interesting question, Maggie, because I’m particularly fond of many of the scenes. But if I had to pick my favorite, I’d say it’s the opening scene. It’s been in and out of the story a dozen times, but I just couldn’t, in the end, leave it out. It’s that defining moment when Jane has to decide if she’s going to make it or not. I think we all come to this place. Then we pull up our big girl panties and do what we have to do, to be who we want to be :)

What's next for you?  Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?  Will you be traveling in the next few months where readers can find you?
This is an exciting time for me as a writer. There is, of course, the next three books in the Falling For A Hero series. I’m just finishing up a small town romance, tentatively titled, The Return Of Benjamin Quincy. It’ll be the first of many novels set in Rosewood, Oregon. Cross your fingers the editor will fall in love with it. And I have the post apocalyptic paranormal romance,The Dragon's Thief , being considered by St Martin’s Press. There are so many stories to write and so little time :)

During the next few months, writing is the name of the game, but I can be found online @ Facebook ; Goodreads; and my website.

This had been so much fun. Thanks again for inviting me to hang out with you.

I suggest you hop on over to Amazon, B&N, or your favorite e-reader home and immediately order Jane's Long March Home.  It's priced very well at $2.99 so how can you go wrong?  Click one of the button's below and get it downloaded to your e-reader or your computer right now.