Today, I have the pleasure of featuring author Jennifer Taylor on my blog. Her second novel, Heartbeat of the Moon was just released and oh, boy, is it an exciting time. That feeling never gets old.
1. What was the inspiration for your first book Mercy of the Moon?
Thanks for having me, Ronnie.
Several years ago, I visited Rye, England. It’s an ancient port town on the southern coast of England. It was after midnight, and I stood in the middle of Mermaid Street, with the wind blowing from the English Channel, and the rain glistening on the cobblestones. There wasn’t a soul around, and it was both eerie and exhilarating. I closed my eyes and was swept into another century. The street I stood on had been there for centuries. The image and the sensations stayed with me, and I created an 18th Century midwife named Maggie Wilson, and Rye became the fictional town of King’s Harbour. But it all started there. Harbor towns were always bursting with activity: smugglers, sailors, hooligans, and hard-working people. There’s always something going on.
2. Tell our readers about your musical background, the instruments you play, and tell how music is a big part of your writing, and plot of your books.
My two older brothers are talented musicians, but I fear I don’t really play an instrument—yet. But I have a background in performing. I danced in church and did my fair share of singing. One summer in college I danced and sang with a performing troupe at Boblo Island Amusement Park, located in the middle of the Detroit River. I lived in Canada and took a ferry boat to work every day—great gig! Over the years I also did liturgical dance and have sung in public as well. There’s at least one song running through my head every waking minute, and I’ve been known to burst into song while I’m working.
Music plays a huge part in the creation of my books: Ian, the hero in the series, is an apothecary, but a musician at heart who’s travelled the world, playing for kings and sultans, as a means of finding a cure for his “affliction” or bipolar disorder. He uses music as a means of keeping his illness at bay-sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I have several playlists on my internet radio that help me stay inspired and in the mood for some of Ian’s lows and downs, his anguish, his elation, and his determination to find a cure so he can stay with Maggie. I confess I listen to Sting a lot.
I also have music to set the mood for my paranormal elements. For instance, early on in Book #1, Mercy of the Moon, Maggie discovers her sister Sarah had been buried alive, and she survives with Maggie and Ian’s help. But she’s never the same, and she didn’t emerge alone. I listen to a really eerie song by Mediaeval Babes called “Spiriti.” It’s very creepy and is still inspiring me to imagine what it must have been like for Sarah to be underground. The whole album, called The Rose, is hypnotic and otherworldly. It is definitely inspiring ideas for Book #4’s plot. Of course I have a Passion Playlist. The music enables me to open my senses to what my favorite couple might be feeling.
It’s safe to say that all my books will have musicians in them. It’s such a huge part of who I am, and musicians are such interesting creatures!
3. Your second book Heartbeat of the Moon was recently released. Congratulations. What aspects of your first book did you carry into this one?
Thank you-I’m so excited! I continue the story of Maggie and Ian, and his continuing search for a treatment for his “manico-melancolicus,” as they used to call it. The stakes grow higher as supernatural forces beyond their control threaten their love and lives. I also introduce Bethan and Elunid, a set of identical twins from Wales, who will feature more in Book #3, which I’m working on now.
4. Now that you’re more seasoned as a published author, how has your writing process changed from your first book to your second?
Interesting question! My “rough drafts” are a little less rough, and I have more faith in my instincts and unique process. The first two drafts are all about discovering the plot. My editor at Wild Rose Press is amazing, and we have a great working relationship—when she gives me guidance, I listen because she’s invariably right. My attention span is better, I am way less emotional when I have a difficult writing day. I have a saying: “Save the drama for the story.”
5. What complications, difficulties, or joys came from writing a series? Was it easier to plot because you were familiar with the characters, or was it more difficult because you needed the second book to make sense with the first?
When I wrote Mercy of the Moon, I hadn’t really thought about it being a series. Then, when I got the contract, my editor asked me if it was a series. I couldn’t stop thinking about them, so I said “yes.” I have at least three more books in the series in my head. Maggie and Ian are complex characters, and the more I get to know them, the more story ideas pop up. Their personalities are very different: Maggie is serious, even-tempered, and practical. She works in the service of others, and seldom takes a care for herself. Ian is in constant motion, always singing, expressing his love for her. He’s impulsive. At times they bring out the best in each other. She struggles to understand his affliction, and he teaches her she is worthy of being loved. Their relationship is always evolving. I have some other characters with story lines of their own, and the books are set in a town where new people are always coming ashore. In the 1700’s, superstition and knowledge walk hand in hand, so that stimulates my imagination. I get super excited when I think of future books in the series!
6. Now that you have two books published, what advice would you give an aspiring author regarding the writing process, publication, finding a publisher?
Read the latest books in whatever genre you’re writing. And nonfiction as well, anything you’re interested in. You never know when something you read might inspire you. Don’t wait until “the muse strikes.” It’s all about sitting down and getting those words on paper, and the book begins to unfold. Even if all you have time for is 15 minutes a day. The words add up. Most of all, just get the words down, don’t worry about perfection. It’s a process, and you’ll figure out your own unique way of doing things.
For instance, through the writing of several manuscripts, I know the rough draft is the hardest for me. Before Heartbeat of the Moon released, I made sure I had the first draft of Book #3 done. I plow my way through the first and second drafts. I plot ahead of time, but so much is revealed in the act of writing. I really enjoy editing the book from that point on.
Keep a journal where you can work out your story problems and talk yourself out of negativity. It’s crucial to develop a thick skin about your writing, so you can absorb critiquing. Like I said, save the drama for the story. If you get a less than stellar critique, step back from the manuscript and return to it after you’ve had some distance. Don’t fall in love with your words so much that you can’t say goodbye to them if they don’t work.
Join a professional organization like RWA where you can meet like-minded writers and learn about the business of writing, the market, and the craft. I credit my wonderful local RWA chapter, Sunshine State Romance Authors, for enabling me to snag that first contract. What an amazing, giving group of people they are! And RWA is a great organization. Above all else, don’t give up. It’s hard work, but you can do it.
7. How has your life changed now that you have two books out?
I am more ambitious than I’ve ever been in my life. And more stubborn. I always thought I was busy, but I’m way busier now: writing, self-promotion, more writing! It is definitely a job I show up for at least five days a week, and I’ve learned to say “no” in order to work. And in the last year I’ve made a big effort to find balance in my life, to crawl out of my troll cave, where the magic happens! This year I vowed to get out more, try new things. It can only enrich the writing. Between family, friends, home responsibilities, and writing, my life is very fulfilling. I call it “happy chaos.” And what I love about this new career is there’s always something new to learn.
8. What are the plans for your future writing? How many books do you foresee in this series? Are you planning to write out of the series and what is that?
Like I said, as yet there’s no end to the series. Historical romance is my first love, but I also have an idea for a contemporary romance with tons of comedy in it. I’m excited to work on revisions for that at some point this year. You never know what kind of ideas will pop into your head—this summer I got an idea for a sci-fi romance, very much inspired by current events. I’m looking forward to exploring that—all I can say right now!
9. What events do you have coming up so that your fans could meet you in person?
For the rest of the year I will be travelling quite a bit, but in 2017 there are some book signings planned-I’ll let you know. It’s so much fun to meet new readers. I’m very grateful to them.
Thanks so much for having me, Ronnie. Brilliant questions!
Thanks so much for being here, Jennifer and for taking the time to create such in-depth answers. I’m sure you’ve helped out some aspiring authors. Now, here’s more about Jennifer Taylor.
Jennifer Taylor spent her childhood running wild on an Idaho mountainside. Although she’s lived across the U.S., she’s still an Idahoan at heart and a notorious potato pusher. She’s been a roofer, a hoofer, a computer data entry operator, and a stay-at-home mom.
She’s dreamt of writing historical romances since reading Wuthering Heights at the tender age of twelve, and is now living her dream of writing love stories set in 18th Century England. She feverishly lobbies for the return of breeches and would love to see her husband of 36 years in a pair.
Jennifer lives in rural Florida with her husband and goofy Great Dane. She is the author of Mercy of the Moon, Book One of the Rhythm of the Moon Series, and the newly released Book Two, Heartbeat of the Moon, published by the Wild Rose Press.
Newsletter Link: https://jennifertaylorwrites.com/
Blurb-Heartbeat of the Moon, Book Two of the Rhythm of the Moon Series:
Superstition sails into King’s Harbour with tales of winged monsters rising from the dead. Midwife Maggie and husband Ian fight for reason and logic when a friend’s nephew disappears from the grave, and the friend’s behavior becomes more animal than man.
As forces and bizarre events around the two lovers threaten their happiness, Maggie faces challenges from her expectant mothers and struggles to understand Ian’s troubling behavior. Ian endeavors to cure his mind’s affliction but fears the slide into insanity may be fatal.
Buy Links for Heartbeat of the Moon:
The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/2a0Znom
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2asUgZs
Ian glanced her way, finally.
“Do you think Josef has lost his wits?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “For we have seen
stranger things than this, things I never thought were
possible. And it’s as if…”
She shook her head. “It is fanciful and silly.”
“Maggie, I have told you before.” He came to her
and took her hands. “Nothing you ever say to me will
be taken lightly, for every word you utter is like holy
writ to me.”
She moved into his embrace, her hands on his
bristled cheeks. He was very warm. “The spirit of the
holy nun lives in me still.”
“Something happened today.”
Josef moaned in his sleep. “Let me in. The beast is
out there, in the woods, and he comes for us. Where are
your weapons? Where is Ana? Has she not arrived? The
beast is coming; do you hear it? No, the floor is sticky
with her blood, I slipped in it, I could not help it,” Josef
“But I just saw her yesterday,” he continued in a
voice not his own. “She sold chestnuts in the market.
How can this be her, neck laid open? She will not stop
bleeding. Her eyes opened, she snarls.”
And his own voice returned. “No, stop screaming,
sister. We must bury her, bury her deep.”
Fear rippled down Maggie’s back.
Excerpt: Mercy of the Moon, Book One of the Rhythm of the Moon Series
The door swung open, and Mr. Pierce, the singer from the kirkyard, thrust himself into the room. He carried a body in his arms, covered in a cloak. Blue-tinged, slender feet dangled from the tattered, mud-soaked hem.
Samuel stared in slack-jawed shock and backed away. “Why have you brought this body here?”
To Maggie’s astonishment, the body began convulsing in great spasms, and the singer struggled to hold it. The cloak fell off, revealing a shroud-wrapped body, only the face exposed. The eyes, ice blue, stared wide and unblinking and blank with terror.
Sarah’s eyes. Her lips blue, dirt-encrusted eyelashes, cleft chin.
“It cannot be,” Maggie whispered, and shrank back. Coldness enveloped her, as if she had slipped into a frozen lake, cold water surrounding her, and could hear only muffled voices, echoing urgent and sharp. She saw only shapes above the icy water.
A voice, masculine and hoarse, broke through the ice, and she stared into the singer’s eyes. They steadied and warmed, pulled her out of her daze.
“We must move her by the fire and rid her of this shroud,” Ian urged.
She took a deep, shaky breath. Yes. It was Sarah, yet the eyes stared unseeing in a blue-mottled face covered in dirt.
Samuel’s voice escalated in panic. “She was buried, she was dead. I saw her. How can this be?” He turned his head away.
Maggie grabbed him by the shoulders. “Samuel, you must look at her. Somehow it is our Sarah.”
Buy links for Mercy of the Moon:
The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/1vKsazd
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1A89wor
All Romance: http://bit.ly/1aJXbpC
Please feel free to leave comments and questions for Jennifer!
The Sign Behind The Crime,