Sunday, March 22, 2009

OMG it's Mama Jackson!

As you all know, I wasn’t a devout romance fan all my life, but I owe me persistent curiosity to the genre because there have always been a MILLION romance novels in the house because of one lady: My Mom! I decided to interview her about her love of this genre, force her to take a picture (isn’t she the prettiest?), and have a chat with the authors books she gets to read before everyone else does (I share my ARCs with her).

1. What made you start reading romance? I was walking home from school when I was in the fourth grade and there was a book in the street. I picked it up to see if it belonged to anyone I knew, but there was no name in the cover. Because it was a thin, little book I read it. It was a Harlequin Romance and I’ve been a romance reader ever since. I think back now and am thankful it was that book. If it hadn’t been, I would have learned too much, too early and really fast!

2. Do you remember one of your earlier favorite books? That first book was Meet on My Ground. I kept it forever and then one day I went to re-read it when I was in college and I couldn’t find it! One of these days I’m going to see if I can find a copy of it. It’s old…

3. What is your favorite type of romance story? I’m more into the traditional story lines with a twist. I think I’m too “concrete” to understand some of the futuristic stories and too “scaredy cat” for some of the paranormal ones. I can enjoy those books if they have a hint of paranormal, etc. As you know – put a baby in the story line and I’m yours. I’m old-fashioned, so the baby can’t be either of theirs (unless they did it for humanitarian reasons and something happened to the other person) or the baby can be both of theirs for whatever reason. The story line has to be strong to justify bringing those two together to make a family for the baby. I don’t care, as long as they love each other and baby makes three.

4. What do you look for in a heroine? Do you like her to be similar to you, or do you want someone completely different? I like my heroine to be smart, nice, independent and ordinary looking, but not know that she’s beautiful. Then the smart, confident, gotta be wealthy hunk brings out the best in her and she brings out the humanness in him. Or, I like my heroine to be a little ditzy, but she’s really smart in a klutzy way and she helps “Mr. High and Mighty”, straitlaced, nerdy hunk appreciate life. By the way, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

5. Are you more of an alpha male kind of a hero – or do you like a tortured soul looking for redemption (I suppose those two can go hand in hand, but you get the idea)? As you can tell from my earlier answer I like both and I think they do go hand in hand. I won’t my “hero” to appear to have it all, but flawed enough to know (when brought to his attention by the heroine) that material things are nothing without family and friends. I don’t want them to be so flawed that they can only be fixed in the pages of a romance novel either! I like them to be likeable and normal.

6. OK, so this is probably going to be weird, but we can’t talk about romance novels without talking about sex scenes! Don’t you find them to be a little bit awkward? Or am I just a romance reader newbie? Sometimes I think the scenes are too much info, but for the most part I like them J. I find it awkward when I think about my daughter reading the same books that her grandmother is reading! As I mentioned before, I’m happy my first romance book was innocent. That goes to show you how old that book is.

7. Where do you buy books? And do reviews sway what you buy? I buy books everywhere! Garage sales, department stores, grocery stores, on-line, library sales, always at the airport and I borrow from train station exchanges, friends and relatives. Reviews will make me read a book, but I’ve never “not” read a book if it captures my attention even if it received a bad review. I like to make my own decisions.

8. Word on the street is that you have an idea for a romance novel? Do you have an questions for our lovely published author? Or for their amazing publicist? J First of all I’d like to acknowledge what they’ve done. Because they’ve already answered the questions that have kept me back from making that leap! So… my hat’s off to all of you. Here are a few of the many questions: When do you find the time to write? How do you frame that opening sentence? Do you use an outline or just write? How many times do you change direction while writing or do you go with the original thought? Casababes, feel free to answer these questions in the comments!

To the publicist – Are you my daughter? I’m amazed (not surprised) that you’re doing so much so early! Your father and I are so proud of you! By the way, where’s your book??? Thank you, Mom! I wouldn’t be here without you and Dad and Alex. My book is still tucked away in my head. One day, it will come out J


  1. Loved the interview, Mama Jackson and Danielle! Fourth grade? Wow. But then the two my girlfriend brought home when I was in 7th grade because her sister was a librarian, were pretty hot. Not compared to today's standards either, but still for someone who had never read one, whew! Hot. Hmm, babies. I guess you wouldn't go for werewolf babies. I'm getting around to them eventually! :)

  2. Mama Jackson IS the cutest! Now I know where our lovely and adorable publicist gets it from. :)

    Wonderful idea for the day, Danielle, and a wonderful interview. Whatever the genre, the key is to have a love of books and instill that in our children. My kids have grown up with the vision of me curled up with a book. It has finally rubbed off on my daughter who is now devouring every Casablanca novel we can get our hands on. I am still praying for my son!

    Thanks for sharing a slice of your life with us.

  3. Great interview, Danielle! Thanks for sharing your mom with us.

  4. Welcome to the blog, Mama Jackson. The picture is adorable. It's nice to have a face to go with the name of one of our biggest fans! Thank you for giving us the smart and resourceful Danielle who does such a great job promoting our books.

    That's so exciting that you have a book idea in mind. The best advice I can give you is to sit down and start writing. Don't worry about anything but getting your story down on paper or on the screen. You can go back and "fix" it later! I work full time and have two kids who keep me busy so I have to fit the writing in where I can. But it's still more fun than work (most days), so I find the time.

  5. Danielle,
    What a nice interview.
    I love your Mama. I'm glad she started you early on loving books.

  6. Wow, Mama Jackson! You know your romance! It sounds like to me, since you have an idea, you're ready to write.

    To answer some of your questions. Don't worry about framing that first sentence. It's entirely possible that it will be the last thing you write.

    About changing direction. I think it's different for every writer. There isn't one way to do it, there's only the way that works for you.

    Thanks for stopping in to see us! (And Danielle, thanks for bringing her by. You're right. She is pretty and pretty special too.)

  7. GREAT interview, Danielle!

    Welcome to the blog, Mama Jackson! We're so happy you could join us, and I echo Marie, thank you for giving us our wonderfully talented and hard-working publicist.

    As for your questions, beginnings are really difficult for me. I usually rewrite them several times, and I'm not alone. I've read that Margaret Mitchell rewrote the beginning of Gone With The Wind DOZENS of times, and she still wasn't happy with it when it went to press!

    I am one of those writers called a Pantser, meaning I write by the seat of my pants without planning anything in advance. Let me qualify that I USED to be a pure pantser, however, our lovely editor (and most other editors too) requires me to do a little advance planning. She wants an outline or brief synopsis of the rest of the story when you submit your opening chapter(s) for consideration. While this has forced me to think out the storyline in advance, I'll admit my outlines are still pretty vague. And I have no qualms about deviating from the outline if the book or characters suddenly take off in their own direction. ;-)

    So my best advice is, just sit down and start writing. You'll learn a lot that way!


  8. Thanks everyone! Mama Jackson is working on a presentation for her job today, but she says "Growing up, my brothers and sisters have a picture of me in their minds curling up with a book, escaping chores, and they let me do it! Thanks for the advice and I agree I have a wonderful daughter who began reading very early ;)"

  9. Thanks everyone for your comments on a Sunday!!!! :) Now you know the awesome lady I call Mama Jackson, and who reads many of your books before they are in stores!

  10. Lovely interview. Lovely to meet you both.

  11. Hi Mama Jackson! You do have an awesome daughter.

    When do you find the time to write? Whenever I can, but I find afternoons work best for my imagination.

    How do you frame that opening sentence? For me, it's whatever pops into my head.

    Do you use an outline or just write? I'm what they call a pantser. I love the flow and just writing to see where it leads me.

    How many times do you change direction while writing or do you go with the original thought? I consider it my characters who sometimes change direction and luckily, they're usually right.

    As a onetime and longtime, Harlequin author, I'm glad you got started the right way and passed that love for romance books onto your daughter.


  12. Mama Jackson, you moved me to tears. I don't think parents tell their children enough how proud they are of them. Kudos!

    I'm not pubbed and I'm not a Casababe, but I am a writer, a full time college student, a wife and a homeschooling mother. It's not always easy to find the time to write, but when the story won't let you go, you have to write whenever you get the opportunity. Good luck with you story.


  13. Hi Mama Jackson! *waves* Danielle talks about you a lot, and you are DEFINITELY an honorary Casababe! Great interview, Danielle, and what a cute pic:-)

    As for the questions, I'm pretty much a pantser. I get an idea, sketch out a rough plan of where I want to go (which normally ends up being pretty different than where I actually go, but I like to pretend I have some control), and...well, start writing! The changes in direction are sometimes the best parts.

  14. Mama Jackson, what a delightful surprise to see you interviewed!

    My mom was the one that introduced me to many a good love story. But she loved to read and read many genres. Dad was also a reader and a story teller, from a long line of oral storytellers.

    I love paranormals but they have to have a good solid story. But I love many contemporary romances. Unfortunately, many of those romances today just have to some sort of twist or oddity to catch interest. I've always wondered, what's wrong with a good love story with everyday people that feel real.

    As far as writing? My stories live in my head first. I never worry about the opening line, I end up changing that anyway. the only time I used a loose outline is when I'm creating a world and need to keep facts and figures straight. I am what they call a panzer. I know the ending first, I know the trouble spots, the rest is the adventure from point A to Z.

    Danielle, thanks for sharing your mama with us. :-)

  15. Thanks again everyone! I think after this, my mom won't have an excuse to NOT write her book :)

  16. So where's the Mama? I see too hot young chicks!

    When do I write? Today I was at Borders for 6+ hours. I'm lucky that my husband is so supportive and that my kids understand and are beyond the "I need mom" stage. (More often than not, it's "Mom, I'm going out with my friends.")

    As to how I write my stories - the characters just start talking and won't shut up. Usually at 5 am, which is why I keep a notepad by my bed.

    My first romances were Harlequin - the tame ones as well. I eased into the genre gradually :)

    Great to meet you!

  17. I think you're both beautiful! Thanks so much to you both, to Danielle for blogging, and to her Mom for letting herself be interviewed!

    First lines? Sometimes they occur to you right off the bat, sometimes they are, indeed, as someone else said, the last thing you write.

    What an absolutely great blog post!!

  18. The reason I love working with romance authors has been made clear in this post--you all are SO supportive of one another and you offer your advice so freely! I'm glad I was able to share my mom with you all for the day :)

  19. Hi Danielle & Mama Jackson~

    What a wonderful interview! I just got back from NY late last night so please forgive my tardiness.

    Mama Jackson, it's sooo good to meet you after hearing about you for so long. You're just as wonderful as your daughter.

    To answer your questions, I rewrite the first line of every book over and over. Too Hot To Handle was the easiest and came to me right away. I rewrote Romeo, Romeo's first line at least a dozen times and I know I'm going to rewrite the first line of Breakfast In Bed again and again before I'm happy with it.

    As for finding time to write - I have three kids, I home school one and drive her an hour and a half every day to and from dance. I write everywhere I find a flat surface, whenever I can. Lately, I'm having the most success at the Starbucks close to my daughter's dance school. When I'm home with her, she interrupts me every five minutes so I tend to handle everything else that goes into being an author then.

    I was a seat-of-the pants writer, but now I'm trying to outline because with deadline I don't have the time to write a whole book only to find out it won't work. Outlining allows me to see if a plot will work. Now, that said, my outlines are very sketchy so that I still have room for all that magic that happens when I'm writing, I make the outline loose enough to allow for a shift in the story if necessary. Then the outline can change and grow. It's not set in stone and I'm still trying to figure my process out. It, like me, is a work in progress. It keeps it interesting.

    Thanks for the great interview and Danielle - I'm looking forward to reading your first romance. Get to work, Girlfriend!