The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview
We would love to get to know you
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I'm Jane Toombs and I've been published for many years, which accounts for my eighty plus books and over twenty novellas and short stories in anthologies, series and stand-alone. I started out writing gothics, switched to historical romance, switched to contemporary romance, and, well, then all the other genres began sneaking in-thrillers, mysteries, suspense romance, horror, fantasy and paranormal either with or without romance. Also one non-fiction on writing, co-authored with Janet Lane Walters. I've either finaled in or won a respectable number of awards and many of my books are internationally published.
I worked for many years as a registered nurse, until I discovered writing might be hard, but it was easier than nursing. But that profession gave me a great medical background, which I often use in my stories.
I now live with the Viking from my past-far past. I met him when he was seven and I was six. But we went our separate ways and raised separate families, before getting together again some fourteen years ago. Adding up both families, we have eleven children, thirteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren, plus a calico cat named Kinko who chooses to live with us. At present we live summers in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula wilderness where we both grew up. Winters we spend in Central Florida, at least for now.
Who or what influences you when you write?
Ideas jump-start every story I write. The ideas come from everything I've seen and heard and experienced all through my life. This includes, movies, TV, newspapers and, yes, gossip.
Many years ago my attention was caught by the lyrics of a song about a woman who had a face like a fish, shape like a frog. The next line is: When she loves me I holler Oh, hot dog! I hadn't thought of that song in years until a few months back the lyrics ran through my mind for some reason and I thought, "What if?" Those are the two magic words for all writers, words that lead us to imagine what might happen if. And so comes the story. In this case a short story called-what else?-I Holler Oh, Hot Dog. It's one of my two stories in the Twisted Fayrie Tales Anthology, out in December from Eternal Press. www.eternalpress.com.au
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
In an old fairy tale, a princess looked out from her tower one day and saw a horrible sight-a green dragon soaring above a small girl playing in a rose garden. Hoping to save the child, the princess rushed down many flights of stairs, but when she reached the garden, the dragon was already swooping down toward the girl. The princess dashed out to save her. But the dragon scooped up the girl in one claw and the princess in the other. A passing knight saw the dragon abduct the two and followed to its lair, where he drew his trusty sword.
In my book, a schoolteacher is the princess, an orphan is the girl, and the knight is an ex-cop who finds only a makeshift wooden sword. But the dragon is real. Moondark is the name of my book, out in January 2008 from Amber Quill Press in both download and paperback
Please tell us what you have planned next?
Also in January, Crescent Moon Press www.crescentmoonpress.com will be publishing the first book in my Underworld fantasy series, titled Unwise. My Underworld has nothing to do with Satan or fire and brimstone, it's a place where anything can happen, though most who enter it can never return to the world they came from. So beware, for no one knows where all the gates are that exist to this fantasy world-you may step through one without warning, as Ella Mack does in the next book, Uncanny. Unwise tells the story of a real princess, Lelani, unhappy about her father arranging her marriage to a man as old as he is. But before this takes place, Lelani has an unexpected encounter with a green-eyed young man that changes the lives of many, especially hers.
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
Though I've never turned in a late manuscript, I have to admit I tend to be a procrastinator. So the effect of a deadline is to make me knuckle down and get the book done on time. Whether I hurry to finish a book or take far too much time writing it because no one is cracking a whip, this seems to have little effect on how the book turns out. Which is one reason I like to do series-I have to start writing the next book.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
In the early part of my career, I just wrote. But after two books sold, my agent told me he could get me a contract for a new book if I sent in a synopsis. I hadn't a clue how to do that, but he insisted I try. I struggled with the thing for a month, but eventually came up with what I realized was a more coherent story than either of my first two books. So what I do now is use pen or pencil to fill up a notebook with a rambling tale. Then I use the computer to tighten the story into a synopsis that makes sense, shoring up weaknesses and eliminating what doesn't belong.
When I actually write the book, I may depart from this synopsis, but generally come back to it as I go on. I've found it a much easier and tighter way to write a book. That said, I have to write the first three chapters before I really get to know my characters. Often this means going back to add or remove things in those chapters, and sometimes means some changes in the synopsis. But, in general, I'm provided with a guideline that keeps me from wandering too far off track. Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
At the moment my critique group is online and limited to several members of the Jewels Of The Quill promo group I belong to. But earlier in my writing life I belonged to various face-to-face critique groups, some large, some small, all of which helped me catch errors in my writing. As in any critiques, a writer must learn to differentiate between what's useful and what is not. No one in any of my critique groups was intentionally vicious, but some did not have a good grasp of all genres and made unhelpful comments.
One thing I remember well: If more than one person has the same problem with a portion of your writing, you do need to take a second look at that section with those comments in mind. I found these groups so useful that a writer friend of mine, Janet Lane Walters and I wrote a non- fiction book called Becoming Your Own Critique Partner, designed to help all writers evaluate their own work. Much of it was based on what we'd learned in our groups, but as with any non-fiction, we also had to do a lot of research to avoid mistakes. It took so much time and effort (over a year) we vowed never to write another.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
The title is Tule Witch, a gothic, and Avon published it in 1973, (So, yes, I am older than dirt.) Though the book holds up even today, I certainly left a lot of loose ends dangling, which is why I stick to synopses now.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
My website www.JaneToombs.com has my email addresses and also carries the titles of new and old books-even those now out of print. I'm also a member of Jewels Of The Quill www.jewelsofthequill.com. I'm Dame Turquoise there and the site offers monthly and annual book gifts and other prizes, plus a newsletter. I have a book page up there. The Jewels have published anthologies (Tales From The Treasure Trove from Whiskey Creek Press) and I have a story in them all.
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
By visiting my website and the other two sites listed above. I also have books at Amazon and Fictionwise and am often reviewed in Romantic Times magazine, plus by most of the website reviewers. And I do enjoy hearing from readers,
Thank you for this opportunity!