Billi Jean

Read more about Billi Jean.

Interview By: Tamazon

Date: February 01, 2011

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Midnight Star, Noble Romance Publishing, Paranormal Romance, Sept, 2010.

Ranger is a werewolf, a Lykae with a problem. He's found his one true mate, the only female who can complete him. Only trouble is, he's denied his instinct to claim her. Now his mate hates him as much as she believes he hates her. He will have to risk both their lives to finally prove to his stubborn vampire he loves her?

Star is a half-breed vampire with a past of not being accepted because of her mixed blood. Ranger is just one more example of how much she doesn't fit into the immortal world no matter how much she tries to fool herself into believing otherwise. She's a strong female, a fighter, but when it comes to the opinions of others, she has no defenses. Why fight what she knows is true? She is a half breed, less than those around her. She has a home, friends and females she loves like family. Only trouble is, her family is now related to the mangy wolf man who hates her.

Please describe your writing environment.

Well, I'm one of those people that needs a clean, neat environment to write, most of the time, but other times, if the story needs to come out? I can write anywhere! Car, plane, in front of a TV, in the middle of dinner - my living room full of teens -- at dance practice for my 5 year old....But my room, bedroom -- is the main local. I love it. I make sure the bed is made, clothes put away, all my yummy romance authors lining the shelves and I dig in. :) No internet, no phone, just me and my computer.

Please tell us your latest news!

Well my latest news is I've almost completed my edits on the next story in my Sisters of the Moon series. Midnight Star was the first in a series I've been polishing up over the past few months. Dark Moon Rising (title still pending) is next. Dark Moon Rising is a wonderful story with very stubborn characters -- the silent but deadly type. :) But, after some strong arming on my part(cough, cough), they've decided to come clean and I've been busy typing every since. :)

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Oh....mmmm, so in Midnight Star? Nothing. I just couldn't. But in Dark Moon Rising, and in the other books in the series? I've had to adjust and tweak them all over the place. Writing one book, knowing more books connect to it, is hard. It makes creating a story in one, and making it a stand alone, hard. But I hope in the end worth it.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Oh man, I have lots of favorites, but my main ones all have a few things in common. They are all really good story tellers. I like long books, long books within a series are even better. I was in love with Kresley Cole from the first book. Lora Leigh, Ann Grace, Sabrina Jeffries, Gena Showalter, Christine Feehan, .. I could go on and on.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Mmmm does long winded count? :)

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes. Absolutely. I want to be a full time author. I'd be in heaven. :)

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I started writing when I was a teen. I'd been reading for years, always wanting more from my favorite authors and one day I just simply sat down and started writing my own story. I used to spend hours writing, after I'd gobbled up the newest Mercedes Lackey or Robert Jordon story.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I guess my advice would be to follow your dreams -- put in the work, and then put in some more -- because dreams really can come true if you keep at them. Don't give up either. There are set backs all the time, but don't let them slow you down, just keep at it. :) I think that and just get out there and talk to authors, ask questions, write them emails for advice. Blogs are great too. Writing workshops, articles by authors, or publishers, or groups on yahoo -- all are there for you if you know where to start looking.

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

My family is proud. My son has told almost everyone. My mom is a rabid fan and I shudder to think of how many of her friends/neighbors she's talked to....I do write some pretty hot romance! And, uh, no my son has not read them.

Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?

I do have a day job. *sigh* I'm a teacher who isn't teaching, but working at a small graduate school in southern Vermont. If I'd won the Mega Millions a few weeks ago...yeah, I'd not be working. I'd be on a private island with my computer!

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

Combination. Most times I just write. I have this overwhelming need to get the story I've been tossing around in my head out, but sometimes I'm working on another story, so I can't just up and stop! So, I've learned to plot out the other story, just to get it on paper, and return to the previously scheduled one. :) So, in a way, I plot by the seat of my pants.

Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing? If so what is it and please describe it.

Nope. I could write on a coloring book if my computer wasn't available! But I do love to open a new word document. It's almost like that feeling I got with a new notebook as a kid. All those blank pages -- just needing to be filled!

Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing?

Yes, I do like to have my coffee, set up my room, get my things put away, and then, with a sigh (usually) sit at the computer, answer a few emails and then close the world out and write.

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

I plan before hand. It's more like listening to my characters, then planning. I think about them and they slowly develop along with their adventure. I often think about a story or it's characters for months before I put it into words. I really want my characters to feel real, like a friend, or at least like someone you know very well by the time you're done reading their story.

What's been the most challenging part of writing for you?

Editing. I know it's not writing, but it's part of the process -- lol -- and man I don't like it. I did the National Writers Month and finished on time with my 50K. But it wasn't that much of a challenge for me because if nothing else interrupts -- like life -- work -- kids -- I can sit and write 50 K in a week. I love to write, so the editing? Not so much fun. But I'm learning to catch some of my 'flubs' before they hit the paper, so that's great. Any short cuts to editing I can get, I gobble up.

Who has been your best supporter? How have they been there for you?

My critique partner, Elizabeth Moore, who just released her first novel! We've been CPs for over two years now, both went through some rough family drama, both kept up our writing and now we are both published. A dream come true for both of us. Brotherhood of Fire is an excellent menage that I got to read, and er, read, and read....LOL, But man to see it out there, and know she did it? Incredible!

My mom has been very supportive, too. She has been dealing with Parkinson's disease and the increase in her symptom this past year and my writing has simply filled her with joy. Her support has been there from the very beginning and I think most of my drive to achieve my dreams comes from her and her example. She never said the words "I can't." Instead she just quietly did. Amazing.

Did you pick the title for your book? If it has been changed please tell us about the process.

I picked out my title. :)

Do you have an interesting quirk?

Mmmm, quirk? Uh...LOL. I smile too much. I make up my own curse words, like "Holy Bananas!"

Do you have any other author names? If so, what are they and what's different about what you write under each name.

No, just Billi Jean. Which is annoying now that I'm an author. When I do a google alert? Michael is all over there with his song....geesh. Rolling eyes.

Do you like to mix genres?

I do. I think it's fun to mix things up a bit. :)

What book are you reading now? What are your thoughts on it?

I'm reading Larissa Ione's Sin Undone. I'm loving it. I love the way Larissa spins a tale and you couldn't find a nicer person. She's an awesome individual and her books are told so well I'm always left wanting more. Sin Undone is fast paced so far, full of adventure and plots within plots. Larissa's work is like that. The layers of 'troubles' the hero and heroine confront is like watching a fast car race at times. It leaves you cringing and thankful when the two cars barely miss each other. :) Love her work, can you

Tell us all about "The Call" or "The Email"!

Oh....the email. OMG. I even texted an old boyfriend! LOL. And I didn't even like him! My mom was first. Elizabeth Moore next, then my kids when they came home and my co-workers the next day! I was so excited I happy danced for weeks. I might still be guilty of that when I see my work at Amazon. :)

What inspires your writing?

I think what inspires me is my own love of reading. I want to tell a story that people want to hold in their hands, pet and re-read. :) Reading has always given me a place when times were tough. I guess, for me, I'd love to be able to give back by being able to spin a story that gives someone else that little safe getaway.

How many books do you plan on writing each year?

If I had my way? I'd quit my job and write. If I did that? I could write 6 books a year. I write novel length books, so I'd have to set aside all those hours of editing....but I've already thought it through. Three paranormal a year, three historical and maybe a bonus contemporary if I have time!

What are your hobbies?

I love to hike. Getting outside is essential. Exercise in general is important. I love to work out, feel good about myself and show my kids by my example. I love to cook and bake. When summer rolls around I love to work in my garden and make things with my own food that I've grown. I can my own jams, pickles and relishes. They make great Christmas gifts...

Do you have any cool promo tricks you can share with other writers?

I depend a great deal on my publisher for promos. But a give away, blog party with other authors are always popular.

What has surprised you about being a published writer?

My reviews. I was so worried about my reviews, but so far Midnight Star has been treated very well. *sigh* of relief there -- cause Ranger is quite protective of Star! But I think just seeing my work and name out there is a surprise. I have to pinch myself once in a while....

How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?

I love to research. I think research helps my story develop -- sometimes side tracks me, but helps. :) I research names quite a bit. I do this for several reasons. One to try to find some meaning behind the name, and if possible the origin. The meaning and origin sorta jump start my creative juices and sometimes the story develops simply from the name. For example, Agni is a Fire Demon and his nick name is "Fire." Agni is a Hindu deity of Fire.

I've found really cool things out doing research. I was researching this idea I had for a Historical Romance set sometime after the Napoleon Wars and found a whole bunch of information on a midwife on trail for murdering children from the Foundling Hospital. It was perfect -- I had my back drop for a Historical Romance -- complete with a villain, heroine and a handsome if somewhat ill tempered hero.

Do you have any animals? Do they influence your writing?

Yes! And LOL. Sorry but my three cats and one dog don't play a part in my writing. :)

If a bookstore was putting up "Is Like" plaques, who would be listed as being like you?

Well, let's see...that is a really hard question! I mean, wow, some of my favorites are huge successes, so if I say I'm like them...won't I seem a bit, well, full of myself! :O

But if I could choose? Maybe Gena Showalter, Larissa Ione, for Paranormal, and Ann Grace or Sabrina Jeffries for Historicals....

If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?

If I had to choose one person to have dinner with? I would choose Oprah. I mean, that women should be the Queen of the United States. Geesh. I'd love to pick her brain, find out what makes her so irresistible, and then over dessert pitch my books to her!

Do you have a website recommendation for other writers?

A website? Let's see, if we're talking new writers, I'd recommend a few of the author yahoo groups such as wicked writers, write minded, and my favorite, international heat writers. Even if you are already a published author, I guess I'd still recommend them! These groups are just full of loving, warm people who love to read and write. I really have gained a great deal from my involvement in my yahoo groups.

What's your favorite drink?

Coffee. :) Blueberry beer a close second.

How did you choose your publisher? What was the process?

Well, I chose my publisher after asking several already published authors for advice. Jill, at Noble Romance, was highly recommended, not only for my genre, but for the way she looks after and treats her authors. She's wonderful too, by the way. Absolutely the most organized person I think I've ever met. She can juggle like no body's business.

But my process was slow. I took my time, sought out advice, and read about the different publishers from their sites, and from places like twitter, author blogs and so on. I also read some of the publisher blogs. And I went to their sites, and looked at what or who else they were publishing. Cover on. I liked Noble -- the site was 'classy' without being in your face.

Do you have an agent? If so who and please tell us about them.

No, no agent. :) Yet?

What main genre do you write in?

Paranormal Romance

This was great fun. Thank you!!!

Billi Jean