I’m thrilled to welcome the multi-published romance writer Jane Toombs to my blog today. Jane, I love your theme line on your website: Take a walk down a different path to places that are out of this world.
How long have you been writing?
I have to say since I was seven, because that was when my father granted my wish to learn how to use his big old desktop L.C. Smith typewriter. In return for this he told me I must write him a story. It never occurred to me I couldn’t write one, so I did.
“Very good,” he told me, letting me bask in his praise for a bit before he added that I could improve it by doing this and that. Which I did. Why not? I wanted it to be “better.” He always critiqued what I wrote because I wanted him to so I could continue to be “better” and it was always the same–praise, then suggestions. Since he was a good editor, I rapidly improved.
(Starla) Clearly, you’ve done a lot of improvement over the years to have published so many books.
What is your main writing genre?
I prefer paranormal, but I have also written historical romance, sweet and sexy contemporary romances, gothics, horror and YA.
Synopsis writing tips for the frustrated author. Plotter vs. Panster: Which are you and why?
A synopsis is really just the facts of what you intend to write in story form. It doesn’t need to be long or full of details. I understand why pantsers have trouble with these, but usually they know the start and have some idea of how it will end up. So the middle can be collapsed into a few words, since they don’t have a clue about that until they write it.
Being a plotter, I have no trouble with synopses. I wrote my first two published books without a clue where they were headed, but the third book my agent couldn‘t peddle anywhere. He then asked me if I wanted to do a Sagittarius gothic for a Packager doing a Zodiac series. If so, send a synopsis and three chapters to him. This was the first I’d ever heard a synopsis mentioned so I asked him what it was. His answer is paraphrased in my first two sentence above. So I did and got the contract. Eventually I tried to do a synopsis for that third book and found it wandered all over the place. I wrote a coherent synopsis for it, rewrote and he was able to sell it. So I became a plotter. A synopsis I do for a publisher is merely a much shorter, revised version of the synopsis I write for myself. I need one to keep from wandering.
What is your creation process?
I follow the synopsis. Sure I add events that aren’t in it, but in essence that’s how I create a story. Actually some of the creation is in my really long synopses I do for myself.
How important is a good working title to you the writer?
I sort of need the title before I begin writing the story because it gives me focus. Sometimes I change it, but not often. Of course, the NY pubs love to change titles. I really hated that, and is one of the reasons I began writing for epubs instead.
How and why did you decide to use a pen name?
I never chose one, but both Kensington and Harlequin foisted ones off on me, which I hated. I use my own name exclusively now.
Now let’s talk about your newest release, The Turquoise Dragon, from Devine Destinies…
Genre: Paranormal Suspense Romance, YA
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Buy Link: Extasy Books
What happens when a turquoise dragon and a handicapped young human woman fall in love?
Eleven-year-old Nahma Marten, searching for wild strawberries had found some along the creek last year, so followed the bank, becoming more and more disappointed when she didn’t find any–strawberry plants, yes, but no berries. Grandpa would remind her they were to be shared with the birds, chipmunks and rabbits, which she knew anyway, but they could have left her a few.
About to turn back she caught a glimpse of an unusual color. Turquoise? Nothing that color grew around here. She hurried to see what it could be, but once she was staring down at the oval-shaped turquoise egg, she couldn’t believe her eyes. No bird around here could possibly have laid an egg that big!
She put her berry pail on the ground, reached down and picked up the egg, cupping the turquoise find in both hands, and muttering, “You’re a strange color and size for an egg, but you sure look like one. Wonder what you’ll be when you hatch? Big, that’s for sure.”
Thrilled with her find, she laid the egg back on the moss and gathered a nearby large withering blue leaf with a soft pod attached to the stem and laid them in the bottom of the berry pail to cushion the egg. It barely fit in the pail sideways.
“Wait till I show Gina,” she said. As soon as the words left her lips, she realized who she wasn’t going to show it to–her grandfather. She almost never kept anything from him, He’d taken her in years ago, after her folks died in that accident. She loved him dearly, but she also knew how his mind worked.
He’d want to take the egg somewhere to be examined–and what if someone wherever he took it decided to cut it open? It might not hatch, anyway, but she wanted to give it a chance. Chicken eggs hatched if they’d been fertilized and the hen kept them warm. But no hen could ever keep this big an egg warm.
Nahma had no idea if the turquoise egg had been fertilized, but she hoped so. She’d have to keep it warm while she waited to see if it would hatch and that posed a problem. A heating pad would be too hot. Maybe a lamp. Yes! Grandpa had put his sunlamp away till next winter and it was flexible. She could fix up a nest in her room and bend the lamp down to shine on the egg close enough to keep it warm, but not hot. In her closet, if she meant to keep it a secret.
If it did hatch, what would come out of it? She could hardly wait to find out. When and if that happened would be soon enough to tell her grandfather. Gina’s caretaker should be dropping her off soon. By then she’d have the lamp rigged up and could show off what she’d found today to her very best friend.
Once Nahma had everything set up in her closet, she hurried out to clean up the berry pail. Strange the leaf and pod were blue. The pod cracked open as she lifted it from the pail to show a good-sized blue seed inside. Could this have something to do with the turquoise egg? She knew most plants around here and none were blue.. If she planted the seed, maybe something would grow from it. Something blue?
She took the seed over to a soft patch of dirt inside a chicken wire fence she’d made, so the chickens wouldn’t bother the trilliums she‘d transplanted from the woods. Apart from them she dug a little hole with a stick, dropped leaf, pod and seed into the hole and covered them up. She’d just put the pail back on its peg in the barn when she saw the caretaker’s jeep coming up the gravel drive.
Like hers, Gina’s parents were no longer alive and her grandmother had to work. Both girls and even Grandpa called her Amadora, which had been Gina’s baby name for her and one she told everybody she liked better than Dorine. But Amadora worked, as she put it, “To keep food on the table.” Fortunately SSI paid for the caretaker because Gina had some kind of disease that made it hard for her to walk. But the caretaker worked only till four and Amadora didn’t get back till six, so Grandpa solved the problem by inviting Gina to stay with them for those hours. Which was just great as far as Nahma was concerned.
Even though Gina was six years older than she was, they’d been friends ever since they met. Which was good because they were the only two kids on this dead-end road.
She held the door open for Gina to maneuver in on her crutches, and waved at the caretaker, who honked and drove off.
After making sure Grandpa was busy, so not likely to come looking for her, she led her friend into her bedroom and closed the door.
“You’ll never guess what I found today, she said. “Come look.”
Gina set aside her crutches. Inside a house, where she could /hang onto things, she didn’t have to use them.
“It’s in my closet, Nahma added. “I wanted to hide it from Grandpa for awhile.
Gina gasped when she saw nest. “Is this a joke? That looks like a giant Easter egg–it can’t be real.”
“I don’t know what it is, but it’s no joke. I found it over by the creek.”
“Hey, Amadora said she saw a meteor a few nights back and she thought it looked like it might land somewhere close. She figured it probably either burned up before it hit or landed in Lake Superior. But maybe not. Was there anything around the egg?”
“Like pieces of a meteor, you mean? No, just a leaf and a pod.”
Gina ran her fingers over the egg. “It’s not as smooth as a chicken’s egg, even if the shape is the same. What a beautiful color, though. You know robins lay eggs sort of this color. And we learned last year from our teacher that birds evolved from reptiles. It might be a reptile’s egg–if we had any huge enough to lay that one.”
“Maybe it did come from outer space. Wouldn’t that be great?”
AUTHOR CONTACT INFO
Author Website: Jane Toombs
Amazon Author Page: Jane Toombs
Habitual Reader: Jane Toombs
Email: [email protected]