Jaye: I’m the heir-apparent to a vast diamond mine in outer Mongolia, currently live in a banana-leaf hut on the western shores of Bimini, and I absolutely adore Skeezix, a baby penguin who strayed a bit too far from his Antarctica hunting grounds… Well okay, that’s not quite my real life, but I’m a writer and that is much more exciting than my everyday real world. Burgundy Mist is a close representation of my favorite color, and the scent of a freshly scrubbed kitchen floor will make me smile.
SMP: Please share your favorite holiday memory.
Jaye: Ever been snowed in for the holidays? When my kids were little, we lived in beautiful Sheridan, Wyoming, which lays in the foothills on the eastern side of The Big Horn Mountains. One Christmas, we had a niece visiting while on her way to California. A blizzard blocked all the passes and she had to stay with us an extra week. She had a board game with her that, until then, I’d never learned. Backgammon kept us well entertained until the roads were cleared. After that enforced encampment I think she’s thoroughly done with the game, but I became a master player. Ha!
SMP: How long have you been writing? Have you always wanted to write?
Jaye: In my youth, writing fiction as a profession seemed as plausible as soaring wingless among the clouds or rubbing elbows with the likes of Hemmingway, Twain, and Faulkner. I didn’t understand, back then, that my scribbles and notes to friends and family was my beginner’s path to novel length storytelling. I didn’t always write, but I have always imagined other worlds.
SMP: Do you write in a single genre, or more than one? What do you find most compelling about your genre(s)?
Jaye: For the most part, I write Historical Romance, but it’s always peppered with Suspense, and there might be a tinge of Inspiration hiding amidst the drama. I’m toying with a Contemporary, but it’s still in draft form. For a writer, the most compelling thing in any story is learning to convey the truth. The characters might not be living, breathing, entities, but their fictional truth is the gel that connects with the reader.
SMP: Tell us a little about your writing journey.
Jaye: It’s been a long one, that’s for sure! I started writing when my sons were quite young. What I learned back then was that I needed to study the craft of writing. I could tell a verbal story and keep anyone entertained, but getting it down on paper wasn’t as easy as it looked. My first book turned out to be ‘less book’ and more learning tool. It took me way beyond Writing 101 as I scoured “How To” books, attended workshops, and applied that knowledge. All that work paid off and I’m proud of the achievements I’ve earned.
SMP: Tell us about your process. Do you plot/make outlines for your WIPS, or are you a total pantser?
Jaye: I’m a plotter, but only the very basic idea of the story must be fabricated, from beginning to end, before I actually sit down to write. Each scene is done in free-writing mode, but it’s not written off-the-cuff. Each scene starts with a solid, one-page, road map. That worksheet is like following a trail of bread crumbs, but I’m always surprised by plot developments as I write. The story arc is strewn with many twists and turns, and it all comes together by the time you get to The End.
SMP: What has been your most significant inspiration on the road to publication?
Jaye: Storytelling is a natural art form. You can’t teach that. It’s either in your DNA, or it’s not. But, the techniques of writing a story in such a manner so others will ‘get it’ is pure craft. Making the video in my head come out on paper in a way that makes sense to others—without having to explain it—is also a gift, but it can be learned. That takes strong dedication to studying the craft of writing.
SMP: What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Jaye: Take this writing thing seriously, and write for the sheer joy of creating something from nothing. You need to do everything you can to learn the craft and business of writing. Study the writers you love to read. Learn what makes them unique, and then work to make your writing the very best it can be. There’s nothing more thrilling than to discover your own brilliance. Your special talents will be revealed when others read your work.
SMP: Tell us a little about your current or upcoming release: your inspiration, main characters, setting, etc. What was the most difficult process? The easiest?
Jaye: A long time ago, I fell in love with an empty Victorian house that begged to be restored to its former glory. I couldn’t afford to buy the huge mansion, but the heart and soul of that structure stayed with me, so I did the next best thing. I wrote my debut novel, THE 25th HOUR, with that house as the backdrop. The most difficult process was spinning a unique, yet believable method of Time Travel. What I feared most was writing a child into the storyline, but Angel Rose turned out to be the easiest character to write. She simply tap danced her way across my keyboard. The eBook was released in August 2013.
SMP: Any final thoughts you’d like your readers to know about you or your books?
Jaye: I hope to release my next book in 2014. This will be Angel Rose’s story. The little 5 year old girl in my first book, THE 25th HOUR, is now grown and still creating mischief, but on an adult level.
Sharing how this story came to be has been a walk down memory lane and a lot of fun.
Want to find Jaye? Start here:
Website and Blog: http://jayegarland.wordpress.com
Goodreads: Jaye Garland
SMP: Jaye, thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Buy Link: http://tinyurl.com/lktr76m
Sheridan gazed at her surroundings. The staircase seemed familiar, a vague replica of the Culver mansion, only better. An odd feeling shivered up her arms. These are the same bedeviling stairs that defied sketching. She twisted around to look behind her.
“Oh, wow. The foyer’s completed and it’s better than I’d imagined. But how? When?”
Scrunching her eyes in concentration, panic washed over her. “I must have bumped my head harder than I thought. What else can’t I remember?”
Bits of memories flashed through her mind: her father at the club, her mother attending a PTA meeting. No, wait. That’s not right. They’re both dead. Her lungs convulsed at the conflicting memories. She willed her nerves, and her breathing, into submission. “Okay. My parents are gone. But I do remember them.”
She searched for more memories: Ginger escorting Gibbs Wannabe, tracing off the blueprints . . . “What happened next?” A ray of sparks flashed through the foyer, and her thoughts trailed after the shimmery residue.
She inhaled three quick breaths and then let them out in one, long exhale. Working on the blueprints . . . and then what? The drawing was her last memory.
Her fists clenched and her acrylic nails dug into her palms. Nothing else. She squared her shoulders. “Well, fine. I’m at the Culver mansion but what day is this? The place is done. How much time have I lost? Months?”
She grabbed the banister and hauled her body upright. “I’ll take a couple aspirin for my headache and then figure this out. Now, where’s my dad’s old satchel?”
On unsteady feet, she pushed opened the slotted doors between the foyer and the parlor. “My, my. They’ve never slid open so easily.” The doors barely settled against their casings when her jaw fell slack.
The antique furniture had been cleaned and polished to a high gloss. More fresh flowers stood in a vase on a low table near the east windows. Lilacs this time, and their heavenly scent filled the room. “It’s perfect, right down to the authentic Persian carpets.”
Completing this project would take several months. Wouldn’t I remember purchasing such exquisite Victorian furnishings?
Forcing a calm breath, she charged through the parlor and slid the kitchen doors aside. If the first two rooms had been amazing, the kitchen was astonishing. Every historical detail was accurate, right down to the red cast-iron water pump at the end of the counter.
“Everything looks a bit too cozy, almost like it’s occupied.” Doubt scrimmaged in her brain and her headache intensified. She stepped to the door next to the hearth and pushed down on the lever-like handle. It swung on oiled hinges opening a passage to the front hall and she was back in the foyer, staring at the beguiling staircase. The rest of the house was the same as the first rooms, a perfect replica of a nineteenth century home.
“What if I pass out again? I’d better call someone.” The satchel was nowhere to be seen. “I must have left it in my car.” She stepped through the front entrance and cringed at the bright sunshine, and then gasped. “Oh. My. God! Even the grounds have been done.”
Fresh white gravel lined the drive and the weeds that choked the overgrown garden were gone. A black, horse-drawn coach sat in the carriage house ready for hitching, but her vintage Austin Healey 3000 was nowhere in sight. She must have parked near the old barn not wanting to spoil the ambiance. It just wouldn’t do for a sports car to be parked in front of such a grand Victorian. She rounded the corner of the house.
“No way!” The barn stood as fresh and new as the day it had been built. “Now that wasn’t in the contract.” Neither was the landscaping. Just the house. She hustled down, eager to inspect the building.
Horses pranced in a large corral out behind the barn. A mother duck waddled across the yard leading her young ducklings. She stepped through the open barn doors and familiar scents greeted her like an old friend, warm and comforting. Cured alfalfa hay, livestock, and manure, but not the foul stench one would expect. This was the smell of well cared for animals. Clean stalls. Fresh straw for their bedding. In awe, she wandered down the line of stalls, then spied a kitten as it scampered across a stack of bales just outside the next stall.
“Minka! Come back here.”
She halted, curious to hear a child’s voice. Just then, a little girl about four or five years old captured the errant kitten. Dressed in a long, ruffled calico costume, she might have stepped from the pages of a Victorian catalogue or walked off the set of a Hollywood movie.
“There you are, Minka. You can’t run away. We’re not done playing yet.”
Long tendrils had escaped an emerald-green silk ribbon that had once captured the child’s golden curls. Straw clung to her ringlets and a dark stain blotched the front of her sea-green pinafore. Stroking the kitten, the little girl turned and then stopped as if she’d been caught snitching cookies.
“Well, hello. My name is Sheridan. What’s yours?”
The little girl eyed her with an abrupt shyness which quickly turned to contempt, and then, finally, to resigned acceptance. What’s up with that?
Cuddling the squirming kitten, she sighed like she’d only won second place. “Well, I guess you’ll do.”
“Excuse me? What do you mean, I’ll do?” Undergoing such intense scrutiny, Sheridan felt pinched, weighed, sacked, and priced like a bag of ripe tomatoes—all in that one trite look.
The girl stood a moment in silent contemplation. “My name is Angel Rose Reed. My daddy said you’d come today.”
“He did, did he? And where is your daddy?”
Hmmm. Jardelle Interiors must be shooting video to promote the completion of this renovation. Smoothing her hair into place, she glanced around for the camera crew. This publicity stunt would put her career into overdrive. Actors, dressed in period costumes. Genius!
“Is your daddy another actor? Oh my Lord. Is he the director shooting this commercial?”
“My Daddy’s a lawyer. He don’t shoot nothing ‘less it’s for supper. What’s a comm . . . a com-mersh . . .?”
Sheridan almost giggled as Angel Rose tested the three-syllable word. “What’s a commercial?” The girl nodded sending golden ringlets bouncing on her shoulders.
“Commercials are the advertisements you see on television between the regular programs. You know, like Castle or NCIS.”
The child gazed up at Sheridan like she’d spoken a foreign language. Oh great. All adult shows. Think of a kid’s show. “You know, like Sesame Street.” The child’s blank stare deepened to confusion. “Dora?” Not a clue. “What’s the matter, don’t you get to watch any TV?”
Angel Rose stared at the ground and hugged her kitten. “My daddy says I have to keep my big nose out of other people’s business.” The girl’s face wrinkled with pensive concentration. “Miss Sheridan, do you think my nose is big?”
She knelt, eye-to-eye, and touched her index finger to the child’s pert little nose. “No, sweetheart. Your nose is perfect. Just like your name, and you’ve got a very pretty nose.”
The child’s face lit up like a string of Christmas lights. “My daddy says you’re a spinster. Is that good? He said, ‘This time, I’m hiring an old spinster so she won’t run off to get married.’”
Sheridan bit her cheek to keep from giggling. She hadn’t heard that term since English Lit class. “I guess I am a spinster, and in my book, that’s a good thing. But, I’m not old. Besides, I don’t even have a boyfriend.”
“Do you want a boyfriend?”
“Sure. A real Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet. Just like in the fairy tales.”
“Oh. Then you’ll go away. Just like all the others . . . ” The girl’s expression fell faster than an Angel food cake when the oven door slammed. “. . . just as soon as a beau asks to marry you.” She took her kitty and slumped onto a bale of hay.
Spinster? Beau? Mercy, those terms are straight out of the history books. What kind of people are raising this poor kid? She winced. Damn, my head hurts more than ever. Steeling herself against the dull pain, she joined the child on the stack of bales. “Did you say your daddy was out here somewhere? I don’t remember . . . who . . . Daddy?”
Calm settled over Sheridan as she fluffed handfuls of straw into a makeshift pillow. A warm breeze swirled overhead, wafted down her arms, and eased her thoughts toward a muted paradise. The birds no longer sang. The kitten no longer mewed its distress to escape the child’s clutches.
“So sleepy . . . just rest a bit . . . find daddy . . . later.” She slumped onto the straw as her eyes shuttered into darkness.
. . . a rainbow of sparks burst across the horizon, and then he stepped into view. She knew him. Remembered him, but from where? He towered over her and her lungs froze with the breath of anticipation. She tilted her head back to stare directly into his eyes and the intensity of his gaze overshadowed her hesitation. If he kept looking at her this way, she didn’t care where they’d met, only that he held their gaze.
He stepped close, very close, and their eyes locked in a firestorm of desire. His stare penetrated her mind, and she wondered if he could see her soul, and then his mouth moved over hers, claimed her flesh as if she were his to conquer. Heat bottomed in her core and her knees buckled at the intensity of his kiss. She’d have fallen but for his hand pressed flat against her bottom in a touch that brought a scorching tightness . . .
“Ugh! What is that?” A vile chemical smell, like ammonia, halted the best dream she’d ever had. She tried to roll away as the burning sensation threatened to immobilize her lungs.
Broad, sinewy hands fought her every move as she struggled against the offensive odor. She wanted to go back to sleep, back to that most awesome dream, and back into his arms, to feel his tender lips again as they stole her breath away. Back to sleep where there was no pain.
“Ma’am? You have to wake up now. Ma’am? Can you hear me?”
“Take it away . . . need sleep . . .” I must be dreaming, but oh my. What a sexy voice.
Warm fingers tapped her cheek detonating an indistinct headache. “Oow! Hurts. Leave me alone . . .” She lay on a bed, somewhere. She snuggled deeper into the comforting folds of the down-filled quilt. Must be a Western on TV. Saddle up!
“Miss Sheridan? You have to wake now.”
Eye candy, yum! I hope the movie is recording. I’ll watch later, after my nap.
“You can’t go back to sleep.”
Oh, spit. Must not be a dream. She moaned into her pillow, “Who are you? Why are you bothering me?”
“My name is Alexander Reed. You’re on my ranch. The nanny I was expecting is a Miss Munroe. Were you coming in her stead?”
This man said nothing that made any sense. Why did he insist on calling her Miss Sheridan? That sounded so formal, so . . . old-fashioned. But, his voice, well, that was another matter. His voice was sexy enough to make the devil’s wife sweat.
She squinted against the light and focused on his accent. He towered over her, hovering like her very own guardian angel, and was handsome enough to put the god of gorgeous to shame. Oh . . . my . . . God. I’ve died and gone to cowboy Heaven.