Please help me welcome J.M. Stewart to the blog today!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I write what I likes to call sweet and spicy contemporary romance. The stories have a sweet feel to them, they’re usually family oriented, but also passionate. I’m a stay-at-home mom by trade, married to my own hero for over sixteen years now. We live in the Great Northwest with our two boys and two very spoiled puppies.
Did you always want to be an author? What made you choose to write romance?
I haven’t always wanted to be a writer, no. I’ve been reading romances for as long as I can remember. I picked them up somewhere around high school. I used to read strictly historical, believe it or not. One day, about eleven years ago, I had this dream. It stuck me with, and it intrigued me. The images told me a story I absolutely had to write down. In the process of doing so, I found a love for telling the story.
What is your favorite part of being a writer/author?
Telling the stories. I adore discovering the characters and their stories. I get very into the telling of it. It becomes almost an obsession and the characters become like friends to me.
Tell us a little about your book.
Angela Lewis is newly divorced. She’s always been the geeky girl. Smart, unpopular. After her husband leaves her for a younger woman, Angela gets a job as a stripper on the Las Vegas Strip as a means of picking her self-esteem up off the floor. In the club, Angela gets to be the sexy vixen she always wanted to be. This is where she runs into her childhood crush. They haven’t seen each other in years and he doesn’t recognize her. When he takes an interest in her alter ego, Angela can’t resist. She only wants one night to live in the fantasy.
Alex McKinley’s life has been shattered by tragedy. His wife and four year old daughter were killed in a car accident. He’s in Vegas with coworkers, trying to pick up the pieces of his life and move on. A no strings attached, weekend fling with Candy is exactly what he needs. Little does he know that Candy is actually his best friend’s kid sister. Little Angie’s all grown up and driving him crazy.
It’s only supposed to be a weekend fling. Until Angela discovers she’s pregnant. Alex knows he’ll stand by her, but the more time he spends with her, the more Alex finds himself falling for the woman she’s become. She makes him want to live again. The question is, can he convince her to take a chance on him?
What inspired me to write it?
I happened across a snippet someone had posted somewhere on the net. Sadly, I forgot where, but it was from the viewpoint of a female character who worked as a stripper. I’d never seen that done before in a romance, so I immediately thought to myself, “What kind of romance novel heroine works in a strip club in Vegas?” Angela stepped out and introduced herself to me.
When I got to thinking about who the hero of the story would be, Alex introduced himself to me in the pages of another book. I was re-reading Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager, I believe it was. The hero in that novel uses an alias, the first name of which is Alex.
Their story unfolded from there.
He lay on his back a few minutes later, Angela gathered against his side, her head on his shoulder. Her soft cry echoed across the recesses of his memory. The name she’d called him stood out in his mind.
His eyes popped open. She hadn’t called him Alex. She’d called him A.J. Nobody had called him that since he’d graduated high school. He’d been going by Alex since college. In fact, only a certain few people had ever called him that.
Heart beating an erratic pace, his mind filled with her bright blue eyes, and the last time he’d seen eyes like those. He jerked his gaze to the top of her head, hooked his fingers beneath her chin and tilted it up, desperate to see her face.
The memory rose unbidden in his mind. A fifteen-year- old girl standing on the porch of her mother’s house, looking up at him with the exact eyes staring back at him now. She had the same button nose, the same full lips… He’d noticed the similarities more than once, but had dismissed them….
Then his mind flashed on the night before, the name she’d given him as they’d stood beside her car in the parking lot of the dance club.
“My name is Angela.”
The way she’d looked at him, as if she’d expected him to have something to say about it.
Oh hell… “That Angela?”
Do you plot and outline or do you just write? Plotter or Pantser?
I do a bit of both. I need to know the basic premise, a bit about the characters, specially their goals and conflicts, and a general idea of the plot, of where I’m going. I don’t actually write anything down though in outline format or anything. I just start writing.
Can you tell us about the process of getting your first book published?
My first book, Staking His Claim, was published two years ago. I’ve since gotten the rights back on the book and am in the process of revising it, with plans to resubmit it and the sequel again the future (mentioning that in case anybody goes looking for it and doesn’t find it. lol). But… I originally wrote the book over 8 years ago now. I sent it off to Harlequin, got a revision request for it, but unfortunately the book ultimately got rejected. It just didn’t meet their needs.
Not too long after that, I stopped writing, for a period about six years. I had some personal stuff crop up. When I picked up writing again, this book was the one I picked up. So, I sent it through a critique partner, revised the book and did some research on publishers. I got lucky, during my hiatus, a lot of small presses popped up, so I found one I liked, and flung it out there again. I honestly expected another rejection, but a month later, I got an email that said, “Congratulations!”
What advice would you give new authors? What have you learned about the business?
Social media and self-promotion is important. You want to create a name for yourself, your own brand, get people interested in you. But don’t forget that without those books, there’s nothing to sell. This is one I’m still learning. Self promotion is a big job and if you let it, it can take up all your time. But don’t forget to keep writing, to write that next book, too. In fact, these days, I tend to put my writing slightly above the promotion. I do promotion the most on days when I’m feeling less than inspired.
Also, don’t shove your product down other people’s throats. Don’t be that person who, the only thing they have to say to you is “buy my stuff.” I’ve seen people like that and it’s annoying. I think let your product stand for itself. Post snippets on a blog, such as Six Sentence Sunday, or give out a free story, but otherwise, the biggest advice I’ve learned is to be supportive of other people and show your readers who you are. Get them interested in you. I couldn’t tell you if it’s working yet, but I am making more friends this way.
Do you have another book in the works?
I have three books my agent and I are preparing to send out to publishers. One is longer single title, called Love’s Healing Touch. A retired army vet and a retirement home nurse must learn to trust each other for the sake of their son. This one’s got a bit of a dark side, as both the hero and the heroine have dark pasts that come into play in the story.
I also have a small, two book series. Book one is Staking His Claim. As I mentioned, I’m revising this one. I’ve decided to twist the beginning a bit from the original version. Book two involves the sister of the hero from book one. Both books revolve around the Morgan family, and hold a theme of taking a chance on love.
What do you like to do in your free time, besides read and write of course?
Honestly? hehe. I play computer games. So all those facebook games? I love those. And games like Diner Dash. Anything to keep my hands and my mind busy. Also watching movies and playing with our two puppies.
Where do you dream of going on vacation?
Hawaii!! And anywhere tropical, with water that’s blue and pretty and has lots of sand. And sun. Somewhere where the sun shines almost all the time. Where I live, in Seattle, it’s gray skies for 9 months out of the year. lol
Boxers or Briefs?
I prefer boxer briefs.
Cookies or cake?
Pizza or hamburger?
Hamburger. Though really I could eat either. lol
Beer, Wine, or mixed drink?
(Hero/Heroine Character Questions)
What were your first impressions of each other?
Alex: She’s beautiful, with eyes I can’t forget. She’s a dancer, and she has moves that make me forget my name, but she’s sassy and self-assured. She also holds her own and I find it sexy as hell. But it’s all an act. Every once in a while she let down her guard, shows me another side of her, something softer and more honest. I was intrigued. I had to know her.
Angela: He didn’t know when we first met, but he’s my brother’s best friend. We grew up together. I’ve had a crush on him for almost forever. I thought I’d gotten over that until he showed up in the audience one night. Maturity looks good on him.
What’s your favorite characteristic of each other?
Alex: Her huge heart. She takes care of the people she loves, and she takes care of me. She gives me a place to come home to.
Angela: His openness. He’s very honest with me, about who he is, about what he wants. He gives me all of himself, the broken parts included. It’s completely disarming.
What are your plans for the near future?
Alex: Babies. lots of ‘em. ;)
Alex: Seriously? Enjoying my family. Life’s too short to waste a single moment. I learned the hard way that it could all end tomorrow. So I intend to immerse myself in them for as long as I’ve got them.
Where to find you @
Websites, Blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, etc.
J.M. is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter, tour wide. Be sure to visit all the stops and comment at all to increase your odds!