Monday, February 13, 2012

Interview with Avalon and Harlequin author Holly Jacobs

Grab a cup of coffee and a chair, 'cause love is in the air. Avalon and Harlequin Superromance author Holly Jacobs is a virtual cupid. From matchmakers to single dads to leg waxing (use your imagination ;), Holly's romances have spread love and laughter worldwide. She has even been featured in a Mutual of Omaha Aha moment video! Holly is a lot of fun, so sit back, sip your java, and help me welcome our honorary Valentine's week cupid :)

1. Holly, if I were asked to name an international romance star, you're name is the first that would come to mind. Your books are sold in Spain, Holland, Denmark, Australia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, and probably even more exotic places! It must be both thrilling and interesting to see so many book cover versions of the same book and how they differ depending on a country's marketing needs. Has your international success been due to publisher 'choice', the universal appeal of your stories, self-advocacy, or all of the above? Do you do anything different to address international marketing or to connect with overseas fans?

~Okay, I'm chuckling a bit, but thanks!  I'm going to go inform the family that you think I'm an international romance star.  Uh, I think they're going to do more than chuckle! But seriously, thanks!  I've sold internationally regularly since I started writing, on an average of three to six books a year.  But all of a sudden, last year the releases really took off.  I had 22 books released overseas, or reprinted in the US.  It was thrilling!  I've got a list of my most recent oversea's releases on my public FB page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Holly-Jacobs-Author-Official/197779663574406?sk=app_7146470109) and I’ll confess, I still get huge geek glee over seeing my books printed in languages I can’t read!

Some of the publishers are actual arms of Harlequin, others buy the right to publish my books from Harlequin.  I tend to hear about it as the books are released, and sometimes not until I get a royalty statement.  Most of the time, I have no clue why a particular book is picked.  However, BE MY BABY was released in Denmark last November and that one I do I do credit to readers who wrote the publisher there and asked for some of my books!  I am lucky...I not only have some great readers, many of them have become great friends.  Oh, and most international readers/friends simply contact me online, either through email, or on Facebook.

2. You write sweet and funny romances. Your 2001 title, I Waxed My Legs For This, says it all. But I'd say that even your more serious Harlequin Superromances are infused with a bit of witty humor, such as Tucker's unique t-shirt collection in A Father's Name(Sept 2011). Even not-so-funny predicaments can be hilarious in retrospect. Tell us about one of your funniest or most embarrassing moments (publishing or otherwise).

~Thanks for mentioning both books!  I have always maintained that if you find a man who will rip the hair off your legs for you...he’s a keeper!  LOL And I had more fun with Tucker’s t-shirts in A Father’s Name.  I had help from online friends coming up with some of the slogans. 

Hm, a funny experience?  My life is a comedy, so there are tons to pick from, but one of the more recent ones was at my first keynote speech.  Now, I’ve done writing workshops for years, and am pretty relaxed about them, but I was a bit nervous about a keynote.  After all, at a workshop, I have other people who ask questions, or make comments–I can play off that.  But at a speech...well, there’s just me.  So, anyway, there I was, in front of the entire conference and I started my talk saying they were my first keynote and if I sucked, please don’t through food.  (When you’re doing a talk while people are eating, that throwing food thing is always a possibility.)  So, I’m talking, and it seemed to be going well.  Then one of the ladies at the table next to my little podium, whacked her bottle of water, which flew in a lovely arc and landed...on the podium.  Now, it wasn’t exactly a rotten tomato, and hey, the lid was on, but still...  LOL It proved to be a very funny moment and definitely made me relax as I finished my speech!  (I’m happy to report, no other food or beverages were thrown.) 

Oh, another one of my favorite embarrassing moments was at the first conference I went to.  I’d just sold not only I Waxed My Legs for This? to Duets, and on that sale’s heels, I sold Do You Hear What I Hear? to Silhouette Romance, so everything about that conference was full of glee. I was getting dressed for the awards ceremony and singing Aida...loudly.   I thought I had the room to myself, but roommates snuck in and overheard.  And I don’t have a Broadway quality voice...I don’t even have a good karaoke quality voice.  SIGH.  But to make matters even worse, a friend in the next room overheard me as well.  (It was Pam Hanson, who writes with her mom as Jennifer Drew...we worked on Duets 100th Duet, You’ll be Mine in ‘99 & The 100-Year Itch together a few years later.)  Ever since that night, she likes to tell me that I have a lovely voice, and I assure her that it is lovely...if you listen through a wall!  Yep, my life is a comedy.  LOL


3. You're a wife, busy mom of four, wood chopper, eco-project pursuer, master basket weaver (don't argue...I've seen gorgeous pics!) and more. On top of that, you write for both Avalon and Harlequin. How do you juggle the deadlines and demands of writing simultaneously for different publishers? Any plans to join other others in self-publishing on the side, or is your basket full for now?

~Right now, I’m contracted with work for the bulk of this year.  I’ve got at least 3 backlist books being released as eBooks, and two new Avalon books (Everything but a Mother, Everything but a Dog) coming out.  And I’m currently writing a new trilogy for Harlequin SuperRomance that’ll be out in 5/6/7-2013.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t consider self-pubbing, but right now, I’ve got my nose to the grindstone, working on new books for my publishers.

As for my other activities...I’m such a geek!  We heat with wood, and I look at the wood splitting (walking the dogs, and shoveling snow) as my alternative to joining a gym.  I enjoy it...most days!  And I absolutely have fallen in love with basketweaving!  It’s nice of you to say I’m a master weaver, but really, I’m an enthusiastic novice!  Now, the eco-thing...I’m just lucky my online readers and friends put up with my...uh, enthusiasm!  We put a dual-flush toilet in when we did a bathroom renovation.  I was so excited about the water savings and waxed poetic about that toilet online.  They all indulged me...which was sweet! 

4. What better way to celebrate the month of love than to have a romance release? Not only are Confessions of a Party Crasher and The 100 Year Itch getting re-released by Harlequin this month, but you also have the debut release of Everything But A Mother, book 5 of your Avalon 'Everything but a...' series. Give us a little background on the series that has so many readers hooked.

~I will confess, I love the Everything But... series.  I’ve been writing much heavier books for Harlequin’s SuperRomance line, and while I love writing them, I really enjoy getting to return to my straight humor roots.  This series started with a trilogy (Everything But a Groom, EBA Bride, EBA Wedding) in which Nana Vancy, a tiny Hungarian grandmother has cursed her family to bad weddings and spends three books trying to break the curse.  Nana Vancy had so many fans, that I agreed to write the second trilogy (Everything But a Christmas, Everything But a Mother, Everything But a Dog) in which she gets together with her two best friends and plays matchmaker.  She doesn’t play it very well!  LOL In the book out this month, Everything But a Mother, as Nana Vancy and her friends trying to set up a daycare owner and a college professor–neither of whom want to be set up...especially not with each other!

Speaking of that series, the finale is out in October...Everything But a Dog.  In one of my other Avalon books (Night Calls), I put my Old English Mastiff, who’s since passed away.  In Everything But a Dog, my current dogs Ethel Merman and Ella Fitzgerald get center stage (with different names).  I’m so glad they’re part of that last Everything But... story!

5. Speaking of backlists, we'd love to hear about The Call that led to your first book.

~I’d been targeting Harlequin since I started writing.  I thought their comedy line would be a good fit for my writing.  I’d sold to a couple other small publishers, but kept trying Harlequin.  I’d send in a proposal, it would be rejected, I’d send in the next, they’d reject... 

Eventually, I didn’t get form letter rejections, I got personal letters that told me what the weaknesses were in a proposal.  Finally I got a letter about I Waxed My Legs for This? and it outlined a few very specific areas they wanted addressed.  I did them immediately and I think I had that book back to them within a week or so.  And the I waited again.  My husband worked swing shifts on the police force back then, and he was off the March day I got ‘the call.’  We’d just got back from the store (I’d bought a new clothes basket...I have no idea why I remember that, but there it is) when the phone rang it was my editor saying she wanted to buy I Waxed My Legs for This?  I don’t remember much about the conversation.  I’m sure I babbled...babbling is my specialty!  But it was amazing.  When you work so hard toward a goal and finally attain it...well, it’s amazing! 

That June, just three months later, another editor, this time from Silhouette Romance, called and bought a book.  I babbled just as much!  I remember telling her we were going out to celebrate...to Taco Bell.  She told me she was not a Taco Bell fan (I know...and I still loved her anyway! LOL), but her brother, Larry, was.  Now, if you ever ready my Perry Square series for Silhouette Romance, you’ll find not only a hero named Larry, but a Taco mention.  That was for both of them!  LOL (Larry (my character, not my editor’s brother) is in Be My Baby, that book I mentioned was just out in Denmark!)

6. You literally have a cop right at your fingertips ;). Did he help out with any research that went into your 'Count on a Cop' Superromance, Homecoming Day? Did he (and his station buddies) read it? Can we expect any more cop heroes or heroines from you?

~He does help a lot.  I said “What if” to him any number of times as I write books with cops.  (Okay, I say what-if to him about every book...he’s a good sounding board.)  And he’s always a good sport about the cop questions.  Most of the time when I have a cop in a book, they’re not running around solving murders or saving the world.  They’re real people who go out and work with kids in trouble or who deal with crazy drivers, real people who...  Well, when I write a police officer hero, I try to make him a real man who simply goes out and does his best each day.  Sometimes they do solve a murder (In Lost and Found the cop hero was chasing down a disappearing dead body throughout the book), but most days they’re just trying to leave their city a little safer.  My husband is sort of the template I model all my heroes after...cops or not.  I’ve never written a hero who truly measures up to my husband.  I know, I’m groaning as I write that.  It’s so sappy.  But don’t tell him, it’s the truth! 

Oh, and I’m sure you’ll see cops in the future.  I’m sort of fond of cops as a whole!  LOL Two of my brothers are cops as well!

7. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day! Forget flowers. We need to start a tradition where people give romance novels (and chocolate...we can keep the chocolate) as Valentine's gifts :) What's the most romantic thing anyone has ever given/done for you?


~Okay, confession: my husband and I don’t do a lot of candlelit dinner, dressed to the nines sort of things.  He does bring me dark chocolate covered cherries on occasion (my favorite).  Mainly, we go out and walk the dogs together most nights, we split all that wood together, or do projects around the house together...it’s that together thing that matters to me.  He’s still my all time favorite person to spend time with.  Even when we do something big for a celebration, it’s not fancy.  Our twentieth anniversary was at Disney...with no kids.  LOL    I know, not everyone’s idea of romantic, but we love Disney!  We honeymooned there, too!

And I love the idea of giving romance novels for Valentine’s!!

8. Apart from not quitting, what's the one thing you did that you feel played a critical role in getting you published?

~LOL The not quitting certainly is a big part of succeeding, but when asked, I always say the most important thing for me was writing every day.  I’m at the computer every day.  I work on books I’m contracted on, but I also work on spec pieces that are just fun for me.  I write articles.  I...well, I write.  It sounds like a simple hint.  As simple as ‘not quitting’, but sometimes the most simple things are the most important.

9. Okay. Now I can't get chocolate out of my head. Do you have a favorite deadline crunch time snack? Any quirky writing habits/rituals?

~To be honest, I’m sort of a boring writer.  I don’t wait until the last minute and get all crazed in a deadline crunch.  I map out how many pages a day I have to write to meet a deadline, then I write that many pages!  LOL Yep, boring.  But I do much better with a cadence to my life, and I don’t miss deadlines, so it works for me. 

But yep, I’m boring.  Hmmm, I bet I could come up with a less boring if you’ll let me lie!  LOL

10. Let's pretend hunky, cop hubby just called and asked what movie you'd like him to rent. so that you can curl up on the sofa and watch in on Valentine's Day. What movie is it?

~Now, if it was Valentine’s and he was indulging me, I’d say something sci fi-ish, but if I were indulging him, it would be something actiony.  Uh, if we were going to simply indulge each other, Disney flicks are never out of order!  LOL

Thanks so much for inviting me over to visit today, Rula!  There’s more information on me and my books at my website, HollyJacobs.com.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s!

Thanks for being here, Holly!

Everything But A Mother:

Nana Vancy is at it again...she has two new victims, er friends in her matchmaking sites. Heather and Henry don't stand a chance of fighting love, not when a determined Hungarian matchmaker and her friends have them in their sites!

Buy it here:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Read excerpt here

Visit Holly at:

www.hollyjacobs.com
Facebook
Twitter

25 comments:

  1. Rula, Thank you so much for inviting me to visit! A little update...I talked about the last Everything But... book being out next fall? Well, found out on Friday it's been bumped up to a June release! The dogs are looking forward to their moment in the spotlight! LOL

    Holly

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  2. Great interview, ladies. I like the way you and the cop celebrate, Holly, and that you continue to celebrate things even on dark days. I always look forward to your glee.

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  3. I'm a huge Holly fan! **waving hi**
    Excited to see some of your older books being re-released!

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  4. Thanks so much, Jennifer! I'm rather jazzed as well! And thanks so much for always being in my corner!

    Holly

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  5. Hey Jennifer! Holly's stories are wonderful :)

    Holly, congrats! Love that the dogs will be out in time to enjoy the warm summer air ;). I really love books with dog characters in them.

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  6. Rula, Well, I suspect my two dogs will be waiting for their moment of glory...or maybe just waiting for a walk. Either way, they'll be happy it's June! LOL

    Holly

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  7. Huge Holly fan also, and having met her in person I can tell you that she is not boring at all and as humorous in person as she is in her books.

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  8. Blynn,

    Well, thank you so very much! That was a lovely thing to say! Comedy is the name of the game here at the house. I think when you have four kids and a rotating menagerie of pets, you have to have a sense of humor or else you'd go nuts! LOL

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  9. Hi, Holly and Rula! Holly, I've been a big fan ever since I discovered your Perry Square series! And I could have jumped for joy when you and Susan Gable started writing for Superromance, my favorite Harlequin line! :-) Good luck with all of your many projects and re-releases! Oh, and thanks for posting the Disney pictures--how sweet!

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  10. Hi Blynn! Thanks for stopping by :) I suspect Holly would be tons of fun to hang around.

    Hi Kathy! I love the Disney pics too. Love and fun, all in one ;)

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  11. Thanks for introducing this new-to-me author!

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  12. It was cool reading about Holly and the amount of writing she does, plus the fact that she has books that are translated to other languages. Can't imagine keeping up with Holly's schedule. Makes me feel like a lazy person. :)

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  13. Hi, Kathy! Thanks for sticking with me since Perry Square. That series has really had some legs for me...it's probably traveled to more countries than any of my other series. And I'm so glad you like Supers. I'm in the midst of working on a new trilogy for them (out in 5/6/7-2013) and I'm really having fun with it and hope when it's out, you enjoy it.

    As for Disney...oh, we love it! We took the kids last year, but we're heading back this year, just the two of us! While we like going with the kids, there's something so sweet about going just the two of us. My husband, the tough cop, is such a fan it's like my Christmas following him around! LOL

    Holly

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  14. Rula, I suspect you would be fun to hang out with, too. Maybe someday soon we'll get to find out for sure! LOL

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  15. Hi, Carol! So nice to meet you! Thanks for checking out my interview!

    Holly

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  16. JL, My schedule sounds busy sometimes, but in actuality my writing is my full time work. All the rest is my extracurricular activities. I love the basketwearing, and I split wood and walk the dogs as my form of exercise... Anyway, when you break it down, it's really not that bad.

    But thanks about the overseas books...my glee is vast when it comes to them! I love seeing my books--stories I wrote--in languages I can't read! LOL

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  17. Great interview, Rula as usual :). Holly, it was fabulous learning more about you and best with the upcoming releases and re-releases!

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  18. I'm impressed. And I love the baskets. Wow!!!!

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  19. Thanks for checking it out, Kaily!

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  20. Stina, I'm so glad you liked the baskets! I have so much fun doing them. My poor Facebook friends put up with me posting the pics, and my kids all have a nice collection of them! LOL

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  21. Just wanted to thank you all for letting me come visit! And thanks so much Rula for the invitation!

    Wishing you all a lovely Valentine's!

    Holly

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  22. Carol - You're welcome! :)

    J.L. - All those languages...very cool!

    Kaily - Thanks :)

    Stina - The basket weaving is such a neat hobby, isn't it?

    Holly - I had so much fun interviewing you. Thanks for visiting! Wishing you the best always.

    Thanks for stopping by everyone. Happy Valentine's Day!

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  23. Hi Rula and Holly ~Thanks for a great interview. I'm hope you had a wonderful day on Valentine's day.

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  24. Hi, Kaelee!! Thanks so much! I had a lovely Valentine's here. Well, actually a lovely Friday before Valentine's. My husband had to work the actual day, so we went out before. As we were sitting at dinner, his aunt came into the restaurant and he invited her to join us and picked up her dinner. It reminded me just way I'm head over heels for this guy decades later!

    Hope everyone else had a great one!

    Holly

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  25. Hi Kaelee! Thanks for stopping by!

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