I love discovering new authors, so I wanted to my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.
This week’s guest: Jane Porter
1. If you were a My Little Pony character, what image would be tatooed on your butt?
As a mom of three sons I know nothing about My Little Pony…couldn’t even identify one if I tried, so I’d better default to Transformers and pick Optimus Prime to wear proudly (?) on my butt.
2. What was the genre of the first piece you can remember writing, and how old were you when you penned this masterpiece?
It was a short story called “The Christmas Elf”. I wrote it in Kindergarten, and then in 2nd Grade I wrote an Oz story to continue Frank Baum’s series, and then in 4th grade it was a knock off of Little Women. That masterpiece was 78 pages long.
3. Since all of November authors are Americans, name some dishes that are must-haves for your Thanksgiving dinner.
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Sweet potatoes. Cranberry salad with chopped apples, pecans and marshmallows. Green salad. And lots and lots of pumpkin pie.
4. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?
I don’t think I would. Or, I’m doing it now, writing what I love to write: contemporay romance, historical romance, and a blurred mix of women’s fiction/contemporary romance.
5. Project Runway or Designated Survivor?
Project Runway all the way!
6. Is social media a bad habit for you, and, if so, what is your favorite time drain?
Not that bad. I do it, but I do it so that it feels like me, and I love my readers and friends and try to keep the focus on the relationship and our mutual love of books and being a community of women, versus selling stuff to people. I don’t write to sell books. I write so that I get read. I love story and want readers to love my stories.
7. With no money limit, if you could construct the most perfect writing space, what would it look like?
I actually can’t make it too nice or I wouldn’t work. So it has to have 1) lots of natural light 2) a big work space 3) fun colorful pink and orange lights 3) scented candles, and painted rocks from my sons, and other little momentos and treasures I swap in and out to keep me connected when I’m in a creative panic and sure I will never survive the writing process and that my life is over as I know it 4) place for my all my reference books and research.
8. Sushi or pepperoni pizza with extra cheese?
Please. Please…..(I love food.)
9. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?
Besides reading through the entire Magic Tree House series with son #3, after having read 40 some Box Car Kids to same son? I’m ready to dive into Teresa Medeiros’s new historical, which is my fav fan genre…love historical romance so much!
10. How many full and partial manuscripts remain in your never-published collection?
Fourteen full manuscripts remain un-pubbed.
11. Bob Dylan or Dylan Thomas?
12. Name your favorite hero or heroine from one of your books, and share what made that character special.
Shane Swan. He was an outsider since birth, raised by his grandmother until she died, resulting in him entering the foster-care system when he was four. Despite his difficult childhood, he grew up to become one of the most successful writers in America.
13. Who was the first person – besides your mom and dad – who told you that you could write?
Probably a teacher. Or my friends in 2nd grade as I used to write stories to entertain them with.
14. Dogs or cats? Pedigree or mutts?
Labs, Cocker Spaniels, bulldogs, sheepdogs….
15. What is your favorite point while you are writing a new story?
Reaching the end. The relief of finally nailing a challenging story closed.
The Lost Sheenan’s Bride
By Jane Porter
“Can I join you?”
The deep voice was paired with denim clad legs and heavy, black boots.
Jet jerked her head up. Heart pounding, face hot, she looked into dark eyes.
Him. It was him.
“There are no open tables.”
Her mouth opened, shut. “Sure.” She choked, hands trembling ever so slightly as she gathered her papers and pulling her laptop closer, giving him space.
“You’re fine,” he said, setting his leather backpack on top of the empty chair. “Don’t move your stuff.”
“It’s okay. I don’t need—” She broke off, swallowing the words, since he’d walked away, returning to the counter to collect his order.
Blushing furiously, she forced her attention to the paper in front of her. She felt stupid and gauche and she wished she could disappear, and she kept her head down even as he placed the bagel and tea on the table and drew his chair back.
Focus, focus, focus.
“I’m Shane,” he said, taking a seat.
Shane. Not the Shane…the one renting the Sheenan house…the one that had everyone talking?
“Jet,” she replied, extending her hand, amazed at how calm she sounded because on the inside she wasn’t calm.
On the inside she felt positively wild.
His hand closed around hers. One black eyebrow lifted. “Jet?”
His grip was firm, his skin warm, and she felt a little tingle all the way through her. “It’s Dutch.”
“You’re the first Jet I’ve ever met.”
“Then you need to go to Holland. It’s a popular name.”
“Are you Dutch?”
“Both sets of grandparents emigrated from Holland, some before WWII, and some after.” Handshake over she slid her hand beneath her leg, trying to ignore all the crazy butterflies filling her middle, making her resent him for turning her into a gum-smacking teenager who couldn’t handle herself.
“Did your parents speak Dutch at home?”
“To their parents, yes, but only a little bit with us kids. But our grandparents would only speak Dutch to us, which proved useful when I was traveling this year.”
He nodded at the stack of papers in front of her. “You’re a teacher.”
She grimaced. “It’s that obvious?”
“You’re always grading papers.” He paused. “Which grade?”
“All grades, K-8.” So he’d noticed her before. Another shiver coursed through her. “I’m a long-term sub,” she added, “at a one room schoolhouse in Paradise Valley. And you? What do you do? I always see you with a stack of books and papers.”
“I’m a writer.”
He had to be the Shane Swan renting the old Sheenan homestead then. She sat up a little taller, aware that the Sheenans were not happy he was in their home, but she didn’t know why.
She’d like to know, though. “What kind of writing?”
“That’s a pretty broad subject area. You can squeeze a lot into that…biographies. History. Crime. War.”
“And so you write…?”
“History, crime, war.”
Her eyebrows arched. “Pretty dark stuff.”
“Can be. My job is to try to make it personal. Make people care.”
“And do you?”
He laughed, flashing white teeth. “Sometimes.”
“Have you been published?”
He hesitated. “I should have something out next year.”
“That’s great. Congratulations. I’ll have to look for it. I like nonfiction. That’s kind of my thing to read.”
“Oh, yeah? Any favorite authors?”
“Jon Krakauer… Sean Finley… too many to name them all.”
For a moment there was a flicker in his eyes and then it was gone. His expression turned thoughtful. “Which Sean Finley?”
She frowned, thinking. “I’ve read virtually everything by Finley, but my favorite is probably the first one I read by him, the one on Custer’s last stand. Heartbreak & Heaven.”
“It was brutal. Sad. But really powerful. It’s like reading about the Alamo. You know what’s going to happen ahead of time, but the details in the retelling brought it to life and made the massacre that much more painful.”
His mouth curved, and yet his dark eyes held hers, intent. “So you are Team Custer.”
“No. More like Team Crazy Horse, but I feel for Custer. I do. He was foolishly brave and I had to respect him even though I didn’t want to. The whole thing was tragic.”
“He was in over his head.”
“But I think most people are! I think most of us learn on the job…and we just kind of hope no one knows that we’re wildly underprepared.”
His smile widened. “Are you speaking from personal experience?”
Jet grimaced. “I might be in a little over my head at the school, but I can promise you that no one will die on my watch.”
A table was suddenly open across the café by the bay window. Jet watched Shane’s face. He was going to head over there and grab the now empty table.
Her heart fell a little. It was absurd. She was absurd. There was no reason to like this man so much. She still knew virtually nothing about him. “I can watch your stuff if you want to claim it,” she said.
He turned to look at her, amusement in his dark eyes. “I’ve worn out my welcome already?”
For a second she couldn’t think or breathe, too lost in his dark eyes. He was really ridiculously good-looking. Too good-looking. She didn’t like feeling so shallow.
“I just know you like your space,” she said, and then blushed as one of his black brows lifted. “I mean, you never talk to anyone,” she added quickly, “you just work.”
He leaned forward, elbows on the table, biceps bunching beneath the smooth fabric of his gray Henley. “Is that why you never said hello?”
For a long moment she couldn’t think of anything to say. “I’ve kind of sworn off men.”
He looked at her, waiting.
She hurriedly added, “Not forever, obviously, but for awhile. Just until I have my confidence back.”
“So it’s not my tattoos. I thought maybe you weren’t a fan.”
Jet’s cheeks burned hotter. A dozen different emotions swamped her. But being the youngest in a big family had taught her some basic survival skills, and so she held his gaze, and kept her chin up. “I think you know you’re…appealing.”
He stared right back into her eyes for what felt like endless seconds before he lifted his cup, and took a sip, all without breaking eye contact. “I think you have plenty of confidence. You just need a little nudge.”
Her breath caught in her throat. Her heart thumped. Tattoos and muscles and long, dark, wavy hair and ass-kicker boots…
Jet swallowed hard.
The black eyebrow lifted quizzically. He set the cup back down. “So what happened? Who stomped on your heart?”
Jet wished the floor would open up and swallow her whole. But it didn’t. And Shane just watched her and waited for a response as if he had all day.
The silence stretched. Her heart thumped harder. Clearly he had all day.
“He’s not important,” she finally managed, struggling to sound careless and not at all sure she pulled it off.
“He must be if you’ve sworn off men.”
“Maybe I am a little banged up.” And then, dammit, her eyes filled with tears and she looked away and blinked hard and cursed him for making her cry.
She was so sick of being sad. So sick of being hurt. Ben McAllister wasn’t worth it. He wasn’t. She should be over him by now. But kind of hard to be over someone she loved deeply…
She swallowed hard and forced her attention to Shane. She looked him in the eyes. “Hearts get broken all the time. I’ll be fine.”
“Yes, you will.” He smiled then, but the smile was kind.
Reaching into his leather satchel he pulled out a card. He placed it on the table between them before beginning to gather his things. “Should you ever want to get a cup of coffee, or talk books, or teaching—I used to be a high school history teacher—call me.”
Jet watched him walk away, and take the still empty table by the bay window. He put down his tea and pulled out his laptop.
She turned to look at the business card he’d left on the table.
Sean S. Finley
Jane Porter, the NYT and USA Today bestselling author of 50 romances and 11 women’s fiction novels, holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award five times, with her novella, Take Me, Cowboy, winning the Novella Category July 2014. Jane’s wildly popular novel, Flirting with Forty, was made into a Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear and was loosely inspired by her husband, Ty Gurney, an Oahu resident with his own surf school in Waikiki. An advocate for writers, Jane founded Tule Publishing in 2013 to give romance and women’s fiction authors support and opportunities. For more info, visit www.janeporter.com.