Jill's Blog
 

April 14th, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Hop

Hello all! Alyssa Cole invited me to participate in this blog hop about my writing process. Her latest release is Eagle’s Heart, a multicultural romantic suspense novel.

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Salomeh Jones is a Brooklyn high school teacher whose attempt to aid an abused student ruins her career and puts her life in jeopardy. Julian Tamali is a special agent hot on the trail of the Albanian mafia boss responsible for a slew of crimes, including the death of Julian’s family. When Julian finds a connection between the mafia boss and the disgraced school teacher, he sets into motion a series of events that will change their lives forever.

A night of pleasure throws them into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who has kidnapped Salomeh’s student and is possibly providing weapons to terrorists. Caught in a web of passion, danger, and betrayal, Julian and Salomeh must stop the mafia boss or forfeit their chance at redemption–and their lives.

Here are my answers to the blog hop questions:

1) What am I working on?

I just finished a first draft of WILD (Jan 2015) and I’m about to dive into RIDING DIRTY, an erotic suspense novel featuring a motorcycle club hero.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This question is hard to answer because experienced romance readers know how varied the genre is. I think every author has been crestfallen to discover that someone else is writing (or has already written) a very similar book. Owen, the hero of BADLANDS, is an ex-member of a white supremacist prison gang. This is unusual, but it’s been done before. AFTERSHOCK is a “disaster romance,” centered around a major earthquake, so that’s not your typical romantic suspense. My settings, diverse characters, and fallible heroes are unusual.

3) Why do I write what I do?

So many reasons! I love high stakes, tension, danger, suspense. That “edge-of-your-seat” feeling is what I go for. Eliciting a strong emotional response is incredibly rewarding for me. My top priority is to entertain, but I don’t shy away from making readers uncomfortable or tackling controversial topics. I’m kind of a vagina crusader also. I try to write sex-positive, female-friendly stories. Yay vaginas!

4) How does your writing process work?

I’m an early riser and I write pretty much every day. I research for a few weeks by reading nonfiction and watching documentaries. I outline before I start, plot incessantly all the way through, and write a fairly clean first draft. I prefer to edit as I go and hope for light revisions. I’m not super-fast, but I try to be steady and productive.

So there it is, my writing process. Feel free to ask questions in the comments!

I asked Carolyn Crane to participate in the blog hop next week. Her latest romantic suspense novel, Off the Edge, has been nominated for a RITA award!! I love her writing and I’m SO exited for her.

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SHE MAY BE HIS WORST ENEMY…
For deadly secret agent Peter Macmillan, language is a weapon—one he uses to hunt criminals, destroy plots, and charm enemies. Seducing information out of a beautiful singer in a Bangkok hotel should be easy…except this particular singer has the power to destroy his cool façade, and with it, his last defense against a dark past.

HE MAY BE HER ONLY HOPE…
He tricked her. He helped himself to her body and her secrets. He has enemies everywhere. Laney Lancaster should hate Peter, but when she discovers him shirtless, sweaty, and chained up in the hotel’s dungeon, all she can think about is freeing him. Because she knows what it’s like to be trapped and alone. And she could use a dangerous friend.

They might be wrong for each other, but the instant they join forces, Laney and Peter are plunged into an odyssey of hot sex and dark danger. To survive, they must trust each other with their lives—and their hearts.

Happy reading and/or writing!

xoxo
Jill






April 7th, 2014

ISLAND PERIL is free

I’m so excited!! ISLAND PERIL is FREE on preorder from now until May 1st. You don’t have to pay later. If you already preordered, I hope you can cancel and take advantage of the free offer. Harlequin suprised me with news of this deal last week. My first freebie! Woot!!

I believe that STRANDED WITH HER EX will be free at some point also. This is my spooky “Shark Island” story about marine biologists. My understanding is that HQN will offer this as a freebie the month before WILD releases. The themes are similar: wild animals, danger, sexy times, rowr.

ISLAND PERIL is part of the Aftershock series but it stands alone. The characters, Paul and Ella, are all new. Paul is mentioned in “Scenes of Peril.”

island peril

It started as a girls’ outing to California’s beautiful Channel Islands State Park. When Ella Hammond embarks on a kayaking trip with sexy adventure guide Paul Dawson, sparks fly—but so does gunfire from a boat of drug smugglers.

Now Ella and Paul are on the run, soaked and stranded in a rocky hideout. Ella feels like she’ll never be warm again. Until Paul shares his body heat—igniting a fire between them that’s nearly too hot to handle!

Preorder links:

Amazon

Amazon Canada

iTunes

Barnes&Noble

Thanks!!
xoxo
Jill






March 24th, 2014

For Jackie
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Jackie Barbosa is one of my author friends. She lives in San Diego and we’ve known each other for years. She’s been my roomie at RWA and RT. She knows a lot about the publishing industry. I like her as a person and an author.

Last week her 16 year old son died in a car accident on his way to school. Her family is devastated and I’m just so, so sad for her. I can’t imagine what she’s going through. The details for his memorial fund are here.

Jackie is an excellent writer of smart, sexy books. I reviewed her debut novel, BEHIND THE RED DOOR at Romance Divas. If you like contemporary romance, you might want to try SKIN IN THE GAME, with a football coach heroine. Or her recent novella, CAN’T TAKE THE HEAT. I wish her peace and comfort in this difficult time.

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Jill






March 15th, 2014

Career Retrospective

Hello friends! I want to talk about my news and my upcoming books. But before I move forward, I’d like to take a look back and reflect on where I’ve been.

I’ve been published since June 2008. My first book was a Silhouette Romantic Suspense, bought by Stacy Boyd, my current editor at Harlequin. I think my advance was $3,500, and it earned out within the first year. Earning out is good. It means the book made enough of a profit that I get a little extra in royalties.

My second book was published by Bantam Dell. I published four full-length romantic suspense novels with them. The first earned out after five years. The others have not. THE EDGE OF NIGHT and CAUGHT IN THE ACT, my San Diego “border issues” books, sold poorly. I wasn’t offered another contract with Bantam Dell.

Many readers have asked me about sequels to those books. I’ve put the projects on hold for now. I’d like to revisit the Eric/Meghan and Ian/Maria storylines in the future, when (if) I’m in a better position to do so.

For the past few years I’ve written exclusively for Harlequin and HQN. With the Aftershock series, I’ve had the opportunity to write connected books with recurring characters. It’s been the most rewarding experience of my career so far. I loved bringing those stories to life and continuing with new characters. ISLAND PERIL and BACKWOODS are coming soon!

AFTERSHOCK has sold enough copies to earn out and I’m very proud of that (thanks readers!!). Even so, I can’t call the series a breakout hit, which is what I’ve been aiming for. I work hard and I want to be more successful. The question is, how?

Do I need to write better books? Write faster? Get off twitter? Change genres? Go digital-only? Self-publish?

I’ve been thinking about all of this for months, and I decided that I can’t wait for my sales to improve by magic. I’d be thrilled if my next novel caught fire. Believe me, I’m a fan of staying the course. I can stay the course like a mofo. But doing the same action and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Isn’t it?

In the interest of diversifying, I came up with an idea for a novel I can’t wait to write. It’s erotic suspense with a motorcycle club hero and a psychologist heroine. The setting will be the Southern California desert/inland area. I’m excited to try something different, a bit edgier, and a lot dirtier. Ahem.

I’ll share the details when I can. This title should be digital-only, like ISLAND PERIL, which will keep the price down and hopefully entice new readers.

In the meantime, I have other good news! HQN offered me a contract for two more action/adventure novels, and I accepted. The first book is almost finished. It’s called WILD, and I love it. The second will be SALTLANDS (Ace & Janelle).

Confetti!

Both of these titles are part of the Aftershock series. WILD is set during the same event (major earthquake) at the “San Diego Wildlife Park.” Chaos ensues, naturally. Rowr. My plan is to write the motorcycle club book next, and then SALTLANDS. The two titles will be connected. If you recall, Ace is involved with some shady criminals. Why not a shady motorcycle club?

So there it is. All the news, in one large spew! I love my readers and I appreciate your continued support so very much.

xoxo
Jill






March 9th, 2014

Island Peril & Backwoods on NetGalley

Hey reviewers!!

ISLAND PERIL and BACKWOODS are both available on NetGalley. Please request, read and review if you can. Reviews help readers find books, so they are integral to my success as an author. I appreciate every one.

Thank you!!

xoxo
Jill

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March 5th, 2014

Island Peril!

island peril

It started as a girls’ outing to California’s beautiful Channel Islands State Park. When Ella Hammond embarks on a kayaking trip with sexy adventure guide Paul Dawson, sparks fly—but so does gunfire from a boat of drug smugglers.

Now Ella and Paul are on the run, soaked and stranded in a rocky hideout. Ella feels like she’ll never be warm again. Until Paul shares his body heat—igniting a fire between them that’s nearly too hot to handle!

Island Peril is available for preorder! Just $1.99

You can add it on Goodreads.

This one is coming May 1st, and Backwoods releases on June 1st. I have exciting news about my next 2-4 books, so stay tuned!!






January 13th, 2014

Around the web

Hello all! Just a quick post to share some Badlands love.

Badlands gets a Top Pick at Book Page!!

It’s a Recommended Read at Dear Author.

SuperWendy put Aftershock AND Badlands on her Best of 2013 list!! She also wrote a lovely recommendation here at Heroes and Heartbreakers.

All About Romance gives Badlands a B+.

Red Hot + Blue Reads says “I loved the chemistry between Owen and Penny. She was the “gentle” he needed in his life, he was the strength she needed in hers.” <3

BookPushers gives it a B.

4 stars at Tracy’s Place

5 stars from Scorching Book Reviews.

Want more info? RT Book Reviews posted an exclusive excerpt. Owen’s tattoos and connection to a white supremacist prison gang are (understandably) difficult for some readers to swallow. This scene after the kidnapping gives a bit of background on his character.

I’ve seen lots of recs for Aftershock in Badlands reviews, which is wonderful. You can read the series in order–or not. Each book features a different couple and stands alone fairly well (I think).

Thanks so much for reading, buying, reviewing, whatever!! I truly appreciate it. There are some great reviews at Goodreads and Amazon also.

xoxo
Jill

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January 5th, 2014

The Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is about a hundred miles east of San Diego, just outside county lines. I first visited it when I was in my early 20s. I remember driving out to the west shore with my boyfriend (now my husband). I was very disappointed upon arrival. California’s largest body of water was hardly the sparkling oasis I imagined. Dead fish littered the shore. It smelled bad. I had no interest in swimming, and swimming is one of the great joys of my life. I’ll swim (almost) anywhere. Not here.

Over the years, my bf/husband and I continued to explore the Anza-Borrego desert, often camping over spring break. It’s kind of “our place.” But we didn’t go back to the Salton Sea until recently.

While I was writing Aftershock, I had no concept or plan for Badlands. I threw in Salton City as Owen’s hometown because it sounded like a harsh place to grow up. The more research I did about the Salton Sea, the more fascinated I became, and the idea for Badlands began to form.

The area has a rich history and there are complex environmental issues, so it’s difficult to sum up in a short post. Some say the entire sea is an accident, formed by a canal that broke and flooded the basin. But the body of water had been there before and dried up. Now the sea is fed by agricultural runoff and is home to a large percentage of California’s migratory birds. Because of the high salinity, only one kind of fish thrives there. When the temperatures rise, oxygen levels fall and the fish die, sometimes by the millions. This is a natural cycle (I think?), not due to pollution, and the fish come back like gangbusters. From what I understand, the salinity is continuing to rise and the water levels are decreasing. If something isn’t done to save the sea, the fish might die off for good and cause the entire ecosystem to crash.

Never heard any of this before? Neither had I, and I live here. There is little public interest for the Salton Sea these days. Back in the 60s, before the salinity killed off the “good” fish and created a stinky wasteland, it was a thriving tourist destination. But the resort area flooded and was never rebuilt. Algae blooms make the water look rusty and gross. The beaches are made of fish bones. Giant piles of fish bones.

For more information, you can visit the Wikipedia page. Googling images of the Salton Sea produces great results. It’s popular setting for photos because of its post-apocalyptic look and proximity to LA.

My photos are sadly lacking, taken at high noon during bad lighting. They don’t begin to capture the sad, ugly beauty of the place. But they’re all I have, because I only post my own pictures for copyright reasons.

This is the Salton State Recreation Area. It didn’t smell that bad. There is a dead bird at my feet.

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Algae:

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This close-up shows what the beach is really made of:

fish

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These three are of Bombay Beach, the former resort area and the location of Badlands’ climax.

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If you’re interested in more fictional representations of the Salton Sea, I can recommend the following.

The God of War, by Marisa Silver, about a boy growing up near the Salton Sea, was one of my favorite books last year.

The Salton Sea with Val Kilmer is a gritty, poetic film about drug addiction and revenge.

Little Birds is a well-done independent film about troubled girls and female friendship.

There are also a number of documentaries, photo essays and nonfiction books on the subject.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed the Badlands photo tour. I didn’t include my photos of Slab City, but I’m hoping to revisit that particular crazytown when/if I tackle Ace and Janelle’s story. To be continued?

xoxo
Jill

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January 2nd, 2014

Badlands widget

Hello all! The finale for the Badlands photo tour is coming soon. Until then, how about a widget? My editor sent me this and it’s so cute. You can click on it to browse the first chapter, share it, buy direct from Harlequin. Add it to your widget collection! It’s fun!

Blog Widget

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December 31st, 2013

Badlands is here!!

Ring in the New Year with Badlands!! It’s available online and in bookstores now.

Amazon

Barnes&Noble

iTunes

Kobo

There are more buy links and an excerpt on the book page. I’m really excited about Owen and Penny’s story. Hope you enjoy it!!

Tomorrow I’ll be joining fellow San Diego author Lisa Kessler at Fiction Vixen and Bitten by Books. We’ll be giving away books and a new kobo ereader.

Happy New Year!!