Jodi Thomas | Rare Air

Jodi ThomasTEXAS BLUEWith TEXAS BLUE in April I’m releasing my 31st book and my 24th Historical Romance.(My book video for TEXAS BLUE is out today) I’ve been a National Bestseller since my third book and on the USAToday and NYTimes lists since book 16. I have the Harmony Series going in mainstream fiction and sales are equaling my historical sales already. As a bestseller in two running series, I’m being asked over and over what the secret is and I’ve given it some thought.

A few years ago a writer visited Amarillo to give a speech. She said, “I’m excited to be in the hometown of Jodi Thomas for here must be very rare air indeed.”In one way she was right. Writers do develop in rare air, but not pure air. Most people who make their living writing have stumbled, tumbled until they are covered with scars. The bumps they took molded them into what they are as writers far more than simply talent did.

First, those who succeed, treat writing as a profession. Writing is only half the game, the business of writing is the other half. A woman asked me if she should take a class. (She didn’t feel she needed one, after all she’d just finished writing her first book) I suggested she take the Writing Academy. In one week she could learn the bones of the business. When she e-mailed back that she didn’t have time, I answered, ‘People who only study writing and never the business have a great hobby. Writers who study both have a career. To check out the Writing Academy click here. Give us a week, we’ll change your life.

Second, writing for me isn’t my profession. It’s my life. I don’t just write. I am a writer. Sometimes I think I got it backward in this life. No matter what happens in the real world, I’m making notes for the fiction world.

Third, love what you do. Someone asked me if I’d still be writing after twenty years if I’d never sold. Yes, definitely. I’m not so sure I’d be rewriting or editing though. I have a feeling when I’m a 100 years old and they roll me out into the sunshine for a few hours, I’ll be sitting there smiling because there will still be a story dancing in my head.

To readers, thank you for coming along on my travels with me whether it’s back in Texas history or to a small town called Harmony. To writers…write on. Write when you’re happy and the sun is shining and write when you are exhausted and it’s stormy in your life. Write because that’s what you do. A writer writes.

Jodi Thomas

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Jodi Thomas | Advice About Beginning to Write

JODI THOMASSOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAYOn the month that my 30th novel comes out I’d like to talk about dealing with being gifted.

Over the years, when beginning writers come to me and say, “Do I have what it takes to be a writer? Am I gifted?” I always remember the night I followed my writing teacher out of class. I’d just read my first chapter of my first novel. Handwritten on yellow legal paper. I knew nothing of plotting, viewpoint, characterization or even manuscript format. I’d just signed up for a community class at the college and had dreams of hitting within months.

While we walked to her car, I asked her one question after another. I’m sure she was wondering if I could be some kind of writer/stalker by the time we reached her car. With the door open, I blurted out my last question. “Do you think I can be a writer? I mean a real writer.” She smiled (or at least I think she did for we were standing on a dark parking lot) and said, “If you work really, really hard you’ll make it.”

I danced back to my car thinking my writing teacher had seen something in me that meant I had what it takes to make it big. I was gifted. I followed her advice. I learned to type and use a computer. I wrote an hour or two a day. I read all the books on writing. I joined a critique group. I tried to learn to spell.

I pulled small amounts of time out of my day and tried to learn one thing each day. And at night, I dreamed of autographing. (I also dreamed of being thin, but that never worked) But, I was sure writing would. After all, my teacher believed I could do it. Months passed. Nothing

I didn’t see failure. I only decided I wasn’t working hard enough. I doubled my efforts. I worked three hours a day. I took my lunch so I could work during lunch and breaks. I subscribed to writer’s magazines and went to the library each month to read the ones I couldn’t afford. I entered contest. I tried harder to learn to spell. Nothing.

I still didn’t see failure. (I did however lower my goal from making a million to being able to make enough to pay postage and fees on all the contests I entered.) I could still hear my teacher’s advice, “If you work really, really hard.”

I pushed writing time into hours I should have been sleeping. I entered more contest. I scraped together enough money to attend two conferences a year. I rewrote so many times I wanted to kill most of my characters. I wrote openings to book after book trying to develop hooks. I read in the fields I was trying to break into. I bought used books by the big names and outlined them. I tried to learn to spell.

Finally, the money began to come in. Ten dollars for a short article. Five for a poem. Twenty for third place.

I pushed harder, using my newfound wealth to prim the pump. I bought more books on writing. I attended more conferences. I asked so many questions I’m surprised they didn’t ban me from attending. I drove miles to take writers to lunch so I could find out how they did it.

But, most of all I worked really, really hard. One day in the teacher’s lounge when I was sleeping between classes, someone asked me, “Jodi, you’re killing yourself. What are you trying to do?” I wanted to say, “I’m gifted. My talent’s gold, but no one knows and if I don’t mine it, no one will ever know. Mining is hard work, so I’ve got to work really, really hard.”

I didn’t listen when people kindly told me I was wasting my time. I did give up on spelling however and decided to just trust spell check.

Then, one day, it happened. After years of study and work I sold a book. In fact, I sold five in fifteen months and from then on I sold as fast as I could write.

Now, twenty years and 30 books later I’ve been on the New York Times and USAToday’s lists. I’ve won three RITA’s and am a member of RWA’s hall of fame. The walls of my office on the university where I am writer-in-residence are lined with awards and my book covers.

It surprises me sometimes when people come to visit and say, “Oh, you’re so lucky to be gifted. I wish I had such a talent.”

They have no idea. I’m not gifted at all, or lucky. I stumbled hundreds of times. For every award there are a dozen contests where I didn’t place. For every book that sees daylight, there are at least four drafts still hiding in the dark.

“So, what’s the secret?” the young writers ask as they follow me out of a lecture. “Do I have what it takes to be a writer?”

All I can say is an echo that ran through my brain for years when I was trying. “If you work really, really hard you can be a writer.”

As the second in my HARMONY SERIES comes out I believe SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY is one of the best books I’ve written. I enjoyed writing it and I hope you will enjoy reading it.

Jodi Thomas

What do you think about Jodi’s advice? Comments

Summer Blockbusters…Books, Films and more in July

candace havensWhat are you guys thinking about the new season of “True Blood?” I like that executive producer and creator Alan Ball takes liberties with the story. And what did you think of “Eclipse?” I’m a fan of the film franchise and the series of books. I feel like director David Slade did a great job with pacing in the film. There’s angsty romance, but it’s mixed with some stellar action. He took the best elements of the books made some twists here and there, and created what may be my favorite of three films. In fact, I liked the film better than the book.

There are several other books made into films this summer including BEEZUS AND RAMONA BEASTLY, EAT, PRAY, LOVE, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD and “The Switch”. It’s always interesting to see how the adaptations work. Out of all the films coming out this summer, I’m most looking forward to “Eat, Pray, Love.” I really hope they don’t screw it up.

0425233138One series I wish they would turn into movies or a television show is Annette Blair’s Vintage Magic. The third installment is DEATH BY DIAMONDS. “I was having a discussion about my second mystery with my Berkley editor,” Blair says. “I had finished the book, but we couldn’t settle on a title we both liked. Finally, she came back from speaking to the publisher and gave me two choices. ‘It’s either LARCENY AND LACE or DEATH BY DIAMONDS,’ she said, and flash! I chose Larceny and Lace for book two, because having heard the words, Death by Diamonds, I had a plot for book three. It was as simple as that. I reserved the title because it told me who the third mystery would be about, how the victim would die, and why. I wish all plots came that easily.

I asked Blair to give us some more details about the series and new books.

Q. Is it true that there is a certain kiss in DEATH BY DIAMONDS that became secondary to the search for Dom’s killer, to everyone except perhaps the man Madeira kissed?

A. There is, and while Madeira has some explaining to do, she turned her mind to solving the mystery of how Dominique DeLong Broadway Star, one of her dearest friends, was murdered on stage, in front of hundreds of people, during the final act of the final performance of Diamond Sands.

Q. Where does the book take place?

A. It takes place both in Mystic Connecticut and in New York City, on and off Broadway.

Q. What did Dominique DeLong call her ‘hangers on,’ a group of people who sucked her dry in every way possible, and lined up for more, like every dime they could get, at the reading of her will?

A: Those would be The Parasites, her ex husband, her catty best friend, her understudy, her sponsor, leading man, hairdresser, and makeup artist. They’re a good-sized group of leeches.

Q. Is it true that you were recently interviewed in Mystic, Connecticut by the official student documentarians for the Library of Congress because you set your Vintage Magic Mystery Series there?

A. Absolutely. We met at Mystic Pizza, across from Madeira Cutler’s vintage dress shop, for an interview that will be aired on public television in the coming months on a date to be announced. It was an exciting adventure for me.

There is a great deal in the mailbag this week, so let’s get to it:

0373176694Next time Susan Meier has to work on a book, I’m inviting her to my house. “I actually scrubbed (or housecleaned) most mornings before I began working on the two books ‘MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE and MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, says Meier. “I wanted to be able to freshly smell the scents of cleaners and soaps and feel what a maid would feel. Sounds silly, but there’s nothing like bringing reality into a story!”

1420111744Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, DeWanna Pace and Phyliss Miranda have a new anthology out, GIVE ME A TEXAS RANGER. Who could resist a title like that? I began work on ‘One Woman, One Ranger’ with a duel purpose,” says Miranda. “I didn’t want to write just a romance with a Texas Ranger hero, but about one who found love. I wanted my story to reflect the ideals that brought peace to the untamed frontier; the strengths and traditions that made the famous, respected organization the lawmen they are today.”

“When we decided to write an anthology featuring Texas Ranger heroes,” adds Linda Broday, “I knew my character Ranger Stoney Burke needed a big challenge. So I put a woman in his life that would really get under his tough skin in a huge way. I had so much fun making him squirm.”

Bella Andre has a new one out called LOVE ME. “Five years ago, TAKE ME, my first full-length novel was published,” says Andre. “As Lily and Travis fell in love in, Lily’s sister, Janica, and Travis’s twin brother, Luke, met a couple of times over the course of the story to do some strategizing regarding their siblings relationship. There were, as you might imagine, pretty big sparks between Luke and Janica. Not only have I’ve wanted to write Luke and Janica’s story for five years, but readers have been emailing me about it for five years, asking when it was finally going to be out. Honestly, I enjoyed writing this story so much – especially after thinking about these characters for so long – that I almost didn’t want to have to finally write ‘the end.’”

Other books to check out in July include Gena Showalter’s THE DARKEST LIE, Juniper Bell’s My Three Lords, Lex Valentine’s TALES OF THE DARKWORLD, and Yasmine Galenorn’s NIGHT MYST.

Until next month…

Candace Havens is a columnist for FYI Television, an online news and media service, where she writes five weekly columns for an overall audience of 44 million readers. She is also an entertainment reporter for 96.3 KSCS in Fort Worth. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of the Charmed & Dangerous series including CHARMED & READY, CHARMED & DANGEROUS, CHARMED & DEADLY, and LIKE A CHARM as well as the Caruthers sisters: DRAGONS PREFER BLONDES and THE DEMON KING AND I. Her latest book, TAKE ME IF YOU DARE is in stores in February 2010.


You can visit Candy daily at her blog or her website

Jodi Thomas | The Birth of a Book…

Jodi ThomasToday is the day REWRITING MONDAY hits the stands. For a writer it’s kind of like the birth of a child, without all the pain of course. This is my 28th book and still I love going into the bookstores and just holding a copy in my hands. For my first ten books my husband and I made a habit of driving all over town and seeing the books on the shelves in every store.

REWRITING MONDAYSometimes I’ll buy three or four of my own book that first day. One kid checking me out late one night asked, “Are you aware all three of these are the same book?” I laughed and said, “Yes, but I just love to read it over and over.” This one will make you laugh and hopefully, you’ll fall in love with the characters.

Now finish the blog by clicking here and comment to win your own copy…

Jodi Thomas | Writing the West, Texas Style

I’ve been lucky in writing. I’ve been in the game 20 years with twenty seven books on the shelf with my name on them. I’ve had a wonderful time, lots of fun, many dear friends and only a few bumps along the road.

My brother says we have Irish Luck in our family. He knew it the month after he came home from Viet Nam wounded. Someone said to him, “Man, are you lucky. You were hit bad enough to send you home but not so bad that you won’t recover.” My brother’s one thought was that if he’d been lucky, he wouldn’t have been hit at all.

Sometimes I feel the same way about my writing career. Man, am I lucky. Lucky it only took me four or five years to find an editor. Longer to find an agent. Lucky I picked a field, Historical Romance, about the time it died. Lucky my wonderful editor kept getting pregnant and finally quit.

But, remember, I have Irish luck. In all those years of waiting I kept writing so when I did sell, I sold five books in 15 months. Lucky I picked Historical Romance and stayed in until finally as it comes back I’m at the top of the game. Lucky my editor kept having babies because after she quit, she became my agent.

So, after twenty years, I doing what I love, I’m writing the west in Historical Romance and in present day fiction. My newest book, TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN is the story I feel like may be the best I’ve ever written. It’s a tender love story that will make you laugh and cry and feel good all over. It’ll make you believe that even people who’ve never loved can find someone they’ll love forever.

So, before I say happy trails to you, I wish you all Irish Luck. May whatever you want in life come to you, not always when you want it, but always when you need it. In the mean time, I’ll meet you when you open one of my books and we’ll take an adventure together.

See you soon,
Jodi Thomas

Sara Reyes | Do You GLOM?

Yikes, it’s Saturday and I’m supposed to blog if I can’t find a fill-in. So, okay, an eventful week to recap!

First we had our annual Scary Spaghetti Book Club at the Shilhanek house in Garland. LET ME TELL YOU, you needed to be brave to sit and EAT in this decorated to the gills house! Mike S. took his passion for scary stuff and over the years has a collection that is UNBELIEVABLE. Plus it moves, moans, walks, talks and is generally extremely frightening. Even going to the bathroom takes courage! TMI I’m sure, you’ll have to meet us in person to get all the “gory” bathroom details!

So, if you don’t believe me, check out our photos on Flickr…even my son was impressed! And you know it takes allot to impress guys when talking spooky stuff! BTW, the food was as always amazing and very fattening! The wine helped too *grin*

Well, we had the scary atmosphere and our call-in guest was Angie Fox author of THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER

But the best for the week is my glomming of Jodi Thomas. I’ve only recently discovered her books, say since 2006, so I’ve got a HUGE back list to pick up and read.

TALL DARK AND TEXAN by Jodi ThomasTALL, DARK AND TEXAN, not to be confused in any way with the Diana Palmer romances.

Pat Cat has been helping me find all the books and it’s so much fun to sit down with a collection from an author and just dive into that particular author’s world. Especially when you’ll get glimpses of characters from one book in another and start to wonder “how are they doing?” Yes, I might be strange but I believe well drawn characters continue outside the confines of their pages. Really, they do!!

So I’ve glommed all the Whispering Mountain books including the final one in the series, TALL, DARK AND TEXAN coming out November 4th (thank YOU, Jodi) which you better not miss! Pre-order it now either online or call your store! I’m serious, this one is SO good!!! Yeah, and the cover doesn’t hurt!

Next up was the “Lottery Brides.” We found all but the third one and re-reading the excerpt in the back of number 2 was NOT helpful for my mental state. I hope Pat finds A TEXAN’S LUCK really really soon! Then I have the McLain series. I know I own some of those, just where in my collection, I’m not sure. So like I said, I’ve got some glomming to do!

So, if you’ve got a minute tell us, do you glom? Even familiar with the term?

See ya on line!

Sara Reyes … for today’s reader
DFW Tea Readers Group…friends, books, chat & high tea
Readers ‘n ‘ritas … celebrate passionate literary obsessions November 13-15, 2009

Jodi Thomas | How do we get back up when we fall.

When considering a topic, I’ve decided to go with one few writers talk about–How do we get back up when we fall.

In my writing career of nearly twenty years, like most writers I’ve had my ups and downs. Once, just after my fifth book came out, my numbers were so bad my editor assured me I wouldn’t be writing another book for them, except for the fact I’d signed a two book contract. I was down and almost went back to teaching. I’d already written book six, so I decided to try one more time. I won a RITA with that sixth book.

Since then I’ve learned to take the ups with the downs. I love the ups—the awards, the lists, the money—but I think it’s been the downs I’ve had that have taught me the most in this game of writing. Sometimes I’ve learned to try harder. Sometimes I’ve learned to trust myself.

This year I decided to take another chance. With my next Historical Romance, TEXAS PRINCESS coming out in November, I’m hard at work on something different. In April I’ll have a book of a different kind released. TWISTED CREEK, I can only hope my readers love it as much as my agent and editor do. This was the first book I’ve ever written with the door closed. No one saw it before I mailed it. I needed the story to develop without suggestions.

Now, don’t think I’m leaving historicals, I love writing them and I’m in the middle of a series. I think I’ve been very lucky in my life to step so easily into the past and meet some really nice people there. In TEXAS PRINCESS, I enjoyed the adventure of my characters. Sometimes it seems like the stories already there, I just have to find it. This book ran full speed out of my head. I’m at home in the ranch setting.

I’m looking forward to chatting with you all.