You guessed it…interview time. I’m enjoying this–hope you all are too. This time I’m doing a series of sorts, three writers associated with the American Title Contest. First up Janice Lynn last year’s winner.
First tell us about your book and how you got published.
JL: Jane Millionaire is my debut book and it got published in a fairly unique way. I won the publishing contract via the American Title contest sponsored by RTBOOKclub Magazine and Dorchester Publishing. I competed through 5 rounds of American Idol style competition and won when readers voted Jane Millionaire the #1 American Title. It was a dream come true.
Jane Millionaire is a spin on reality television. Sort of Miss Congeniality meets Joe Millionaire. My heroine is a cop who goes undercover to save her sister’s behind. Instead of falling for any of the eligible bachelors she falls for the producer and all sorts of trouble ensues.
Q: What made you decide to enter American Title? Had you entered any of the RWA contests with this book before that? What kind of results did you get with those contests?
JL: I entered the American Title contest on a whim. I’d never written a single title manuscript before (I’d been targeting category romance) but decided to try my hand with Jane Millionaire. The contest was free and I decided I had nothing to lose by entering and everything to gain. I had entered several RWA contests prior to the American Title contest. One Jane didn’t final in, the others she did, winning the prestigious Golden Pen and placing honorable mention in the other three.
Q : Do you recommend contests for other non-published writers? Why or why not?
JL: I’d feel hypocritical if I said no since I sold via a contest. I do think there are pro and cons to contests. The pros are obvious–feedback from other writers, a chance to have an editor or agent read your work, and getting your name out there. The cons, well, they aren’t as obvious. Although it shouldn’t happen, ideas do get stolen. Putting a high concept idea out in contests is risking someone else taking it and running with it. I think this is rare because most of the individuals in RWA are professionals, but it is a realistic risk. The other, much more likely to happen risk, is that contests can change your writing voice. Writing to final in a contest trains you to put certain things in certain orders in certain ways in those first pages, chapters. This can be good and bad, but I’ve heard editors at conferences mention cookie cutter submissions and I can’t help but wonder if contests aren’t contributing to this. Personally, contests were very good to me. I finaled in over 40 RWA contests with multiple manuscripts and won several of those contests. And, my first sale was directly from winning the American Title, so I’m definitely pro contests.
Q: How did you feel about your first sentence, etc. being posted on the web for everyone to judge? Did you receive any feedback or fan mail from voters?
JL: It seemed really strange to have my first line posted. Not as odd as having a “romantic scene” though. It was hard to resist lengthening the sentence to give the reader more information. Fortunately I didn’t because the contestants with the longer sentences were criticized for it. During the contest I started a Vote4JaneMillionaire yahoo loop (now the JaniceLynnReadersgroup) and friends and fans could join it and follow the contest there. I gave away prizes and posted information in regards to the contest there first. Amazingly I had people join from several countries–Australia, Canada, Venezuela, England, & of course, the US.
Q: What was the most exciting thing about the past year? Finaling, winning, seeing your book on the shelf, or something else?
JL: Finaling was fabulous, but winning—WOW. The Romantic Times convention was such a dream. Everyone treated me so wonderfully I felt like a movie star or something. The neatest thing about it was my husband surprising me by showing up for the awards ceremony. There were family issues where he’d decided to stay home so I could go without worries, but he drove 6 hours (in the rain!) to be in St. Louis for the unveiling of Jane Millionaire’s cover, stayed the night, and then drove the 6 hours home the next morning. That was fab and added to the whole dreamy experience! Holding Jane Millionaire in my hand for the first time was just as exciting….was I supposed to limit my answer to just one thing?? Oops. Let’s just say it’s all been a pretty amazing and exciting ride!
Q: How about now-do you have an agent?
JL: I do have an agent and a fabulous one! I signed with Pamela Harty at The Knight Agency in late August. We plan to start submitting my new stuff in early 2006.
Q: What can readers expect from you in future books? What makes your books different from others?
JL: I’m currently working on Causin A Commotion which is the sequel to Jane Millionaire. It’s Jill’s sister Jessie’s story. I’m also polishing my first paranormal. It’s a lighthearted romantic contemporary.
What makes my books different from others? Ack! That’s a hard one to answer. The simplest answer is to say “Because I wrote it”, but that’s probably not what you’re looking for. The thing that stands out to me and that a lot of reviewers have commented on is that Jane Millionaire is truly a romance. The story is romantic and so are the characters. I’m not talking sappy stuff, but just the kind of story that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside, satisfied. Well, at least that’s what it’s supposed to do. ;) I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of other books out there that are ‘romantic’, but more and more it seems romance is moving away from actual ‘romance’. Jane doesn’t and I’m working hard to make sure Causin A Commotion doesn’t, but it isn’t an easy thing to accomplish in all stories as some lend themselves to romance better than others.
Q: Do you want to write anything in addition to contemporaries?
JL: Uhm, I sorta answered that with my last one, didn’t I? I love contemporaries, but I had so much fun with The Glass Slipper that I’ve plotted two more light paranormals. I can’t wait to get started on them!
Q: Where can readers go to learn more about you and your books?
JL: Readers can find me at http://janicelynn.blogspot.com . On my home page there’s a place at the bottom where readers can join my yahoo group and become eligible for all the fab prizes I give away. Oh, and be sure while visiting to enter my contest to win ROSES EVERY MONTH FOR A YEAR! The drawing is on February 1st 2006.
Thanks, Janice, and good luck with everything!
To BUY Jane Millionaire go here. :)
Jane Millionaire is definitely on my list! The America Title contest was fabulous exposure.