Monday, October 22, 2012


Readers, please help me welcome author Shirley Jump to the blog today.

Shirley Jump, Author

Caroline: Please share with readers something about yourself.

Shirley: I grew up in Massachusetts, but live in the Midwest now with my husband and two kids. I miss the East Coast a lot, especially the seafood! And I was always a reader, so much so that my parents would make me have no books allowed days so I would go outside or go swimming or enjoy a trip on the boat, LOL. I still read everything I come across and have a million books in my To Be Read pile!

Caroline: Our TBR books must number about the same. ☺Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Shirley: I tend not to read romance when I’m writing romance, so I don’t get to read as much of that genre as I would like. I love Virginia Kantra, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kristan Higgins. I also read a ton of suspense, and love Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane. But I’m also apt to try a new author a friend recommends and get hooked on their books too!

Caroline: I agree in that I don’t read the type romance I’m writing. If I’m writing historical, I read contemporary. Also love all the authors you mentioned except Virginia Kantra, who is new to me. I’ll be certain to look up her books now. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Shirley: I love to cook, so sometimes just spending a few hours in the kitchen creating something relaxes me. I also run several days a week, and it’s nice to just get outside. And I’ll shop—there’s just something about taking a day to pamper yourself with a new hand cream or a new pair of shoes that feels fabulous!

Caroline: No longer do I enjoy cooking, but I enjoy the pampered feeling of having a manicure and having my hair done. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Shirley: I love motivational quotes and have new ones I pin up all the time. Right now, my favorite is “Strive for progress, not perfection.” I don’t know who said it, but it keeps me from fretting about getting everything just right.

Caroline: That quote sounds like something my husband is always telling me. He says we never reach perfection, so eventually we have to agree a work is completed. How long have you been writing?

Shirley: Honestly, my whole life. I started when I was a little girl, sold my first article to a newspaper when I was eleven, then got a job at a weekly paper the following year. When I got into college, I started writing fiction more seriously, and after I got married started pursuing that dream.

Caroline: Wow, sold an article at age eleven! I am impressed. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Shirley: I’m a mom to two kids who rarely understand quiet time, LOL. So I write wherever. When the kids are at school, I’m writing in my favorite chair, on my laptop.

Caroline: I prefer my pink cave, but am glad I have a laptop. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Shirley: Definitely a pantser! I don’t like to know how a book is going to end. For me, the fun goes out of it then. I start with a “what if” situation, and about all the planning I do is figuring out WHO would be in that situation and WHY. Then I start writing and let my characters get themselves into trouble.

Caroline: Can’t fault your method because your results are terrific. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Shirley: Nope. I have enough pretend people in my head to write thousands of stories, LOL.

Caroline: Isn’t that the truth? Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Shirley: I generally divide up my big goal (say book due November 15, here’s where I need to be by Nov. 1) and figure out my daily word count goal. Some days I don’t make it, some days I exceed it. I used to write all 7 days a week but now I take one day off a week.

Caroline: Doesn’t that sound horrible for any other profession--6 or 7 days a week? What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Shirley: I hope it touches their hearts and restores their faith in love and happily ever after. That’s why I chose romance—because every time I write a romance, it reminds me of why I fell in love in the first place.

Caroline: Perfect answer. What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Shirley: I think just to keep writing as many books as I can. I truly love my job and feel blessed and lucky to have readers who buy my books.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Shirley: Right now, I’m working on the first book in a new series I’m writing for Berkley, called The Sweetheart Club. The first book, THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN, will be out in August 2013. I’ve been pinning images for the book on Pinterest, if readers are interested in following the progress!

Caroline: I’m still learning Pinterest. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Shirley: Read, read, read and write, write, write. You have to read everything you can get your hands on to learn how to recognize both good and bad writing, to have the “ear” for both the writing and for the flow of a story. Stories have a natural flow, a natural pace, and only reading constantly and thoroughly, and analyzing what you read, will you learn that. Then you have to write A LOT. You can read all the books on how to write that you want but until you actually write, you won’t learn how to do it. It’s like playing basketball--you can’t learn how to play unless you actually start shooting.

Believe in yourself and your writing. Too often, self-doubt and rejection tear at a writer’s belief in herself and she abandons her gift because she’s afraid it will never work out. Sue-Ellen Welfonder once said something about what a dreadful shame it is when someone gives up their dream too soon. It’s a quote I had over my desk for all those years I was being rejected, and one I refer back to on those days when the writing journey is hard.y family and I was hooked. A few months later, I lied about my age and applied for a job as a freelancer at the local weekly paper. I’ve been a writer ever since.

Caroline: Terrific advice. What’s a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?

Shirley: I am totally afraid of heights and roller coasters. I’m that wimpy mom at the water park who won’t go on any of the rides, LOL.

Caroline: We can sit on the sidelines together. ☺ What is something about you that would surprise or shock readers:

Shirley: I’m a terrible procrastinator. Even though I write 4-6 books a year, I will find ten thousand other things to do before I get to work each day. But once I’m working, I buckle down and get the pages written.

Caroline: Is your book a series? If so, how long? Family saga, other?

Shirley: This book, THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS, is a prequel to the Sweet and Savory Romances series. When the series was first released in print several years ago, I received a lot of reader mail about Rebecca and Jeremy, who were already married in the first book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE. So I went back in time and wrote Jeremy and Rebecca’s story, which takes place a few years before BRIDE.

This entire series is one that combines my two biggest loves—romance writing and cooking. Each chapter has a recipe written by one of the characters. My mom and grandma used to give me recipes, always wrapped with advice and life lessons, and that was the kind of thing I wanted to capture in this series.

Caroline: Oh, no, you wrote the word chocolate. Now I’m thinking about it. ☺ Can you give readers a blurb about your book?

Shirley: Here is a blurb of THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS:

Nothing like a little breakup to remind a man why he loves a woman and what an idiot he’s been. After a clunky marriage proposal, Rebecca Wilson breaks up with Jeremy Hamilton, an engineer lacking a romance chromosome. She goes away for the summer and thinks she has found true love. When she returns with a broken heart, Jeremy seizes the opportunity to convince her to give him a second chance.

But it isn’t until he brings out his wild and fun side that Jeremy sees a dim flicker of hope for a future with Rebecca. His determination drives Rebecca to break into her secret cookie stash, hoping Thin Mints can make her forget Mr. Wrong. She’s already been burned twice before—is she ready to take a second chance on love?

The Sweet and Savory Romances will make you laugh, cry, and rev up your appetite with their hunky heroes. As a special addition, satiate your hunger—for food that is— with tried-and-true recipes written by the characters inside.

Caroline: They do that, all right. How about an excerpt?

Shirley: Certainly, here’s an excerpt from THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS:

A pair of familiar Nikes appeared in her peripheral vision. Rebecca jerked her head up. Jeremy stood beside her, his dark hair lit by the sun behind him. He had on shorts and a T-shirt, baring the muscles in his legs and arms. God, he was a sexy man. No doubt about that. She’d been attracted to him since the first day.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” she asked.

“Same thing as you, I bet. Running off some stress.”

“You still run this path?” she asked. Like she hadn’t been looking for him. Like she didn’t care.

He nodded. “Several times a week.”

She wanted to ask if he did it because he loved the Esplanade or because he missed running it with her. She could have chosen one of a million routes in Boston, but today, she had chosen the one that had been their favorite. A subconscious move? Or just a need to be near the water? Or because she secretly hoped to run into him?

“Mind if I sit down?” He gestured toward the grassy space beside her. She nodded, and he sat down, not too close, but not too far away either. For a long moment, the two of them just watched the water ripple, the boats pass.

If she didn’t think about it too much, it was like they were still together, sitting in comfortable silence. But she didn’t want comfortable anymore. She didn’t want predictable. She wanted—


There’d been moments when she’d been with Jeremy where she thought they had that, then he would retreat into work or his lists, and the sparks would get lost in his insistence on logical order, the romantic moment
swept away before it even really began.

She cursed the fact that she still felt that same rush of sexual tension when he was near, that craving for his kiss, his touch, the way he knew her body like no one else. But that wasn’t enough to build a future on, and she needed to remember that, even as a part of her ached to reach out, to touch him.

“We, ah, got our first order,” she said, focusing on the impersonal, asexual. Not on how close he sat, how it wouldn’t take much effort at all to brush against his skin, to be curled under his arm and pressed into his chest. How tempting the thick grass seemed, how it urged her to lay down with Jeremy and soak up the last rays of sun for the day. She cleared her throat. “So I guess that means we’re in business now.”

A smile filled his face. “That’s great, Rebecca. Really great. I’m proud of you.”

She shrugged. “I owe it to you. You’re the one who introduced me to your cousin’s wife, you know, the one
who’s a realtor? She ordered twenty baskets to give to her top clients.” “I’m glad that worked out.”
“Me too. It’s a start.” She fiddled with the grass by her ankles, wanting to stay, but knowing it would only lead them down a path she didn’t want to take. Hadn’t she learned her lesson this summer? Acting without thinking caused her to make very, very bad decisions, as did forming a relationship that was never going to have real love at its core. The logical side of her knew that Jeremy was never going to change, and hoping for more just because of the way he kissed her or because she craved his touch, wouldn’t make it so.

She spent a year hoping he’d become a man who would put their relationship first. Jeremy had been a nice guy, caring, sweet, but…distracted, his mind never fully there when they were together. Even when she’d broken up with him, she’d hoped he’d come to his senses and come after her. But he hadn’t.

He’d let her go. Hadn’t even fought for their relationship. If anything had told her where she stood in his life and how he really felt, that was it.

How could she date, or worse, marry a man who wouldn’t stand up for “them”? Who didn’t love her?

She started to get to her feet. “Well, I should let you get back to your run. And finish my own, before it gets

Jeremy laid a hand on her arm. “Stay. Please. Just for a little while.”

When he touched her, desire rushed through Rebecca. A part of her wanted to forget they’d ever broken up, forget the reasons why she’d left him, and go back to that comfortable connection. Burrow deep inside it, like thick blankets on a cold winter’s night.

“I should go,” she insisted. “And keep avoiding me?”
“I’m not avoiding you, Jeremy. It’s just…we’re over and we should stay that way.” Except she had yet to shrug off his touch or to leave.

“Why?” he asked. “Why should we stay that way?”

She sighed. “We aren’t going to work, Jeremy. So just save your money, and quit sending roses.” “I thought you’d like them.”
“I do, they’re gorgeous.” Her gaze met his, and for a second, she wished he got it, but damn it, he still
didn’t. “But they’re not me. And that’s the problem. You never really knew me. And no matter what I feel when I look at you or touch you—and damn it all to hell, I still feel something when we touch,” the words jerked out of her, caught on a sob, but she shook her head and chased the tears back, “none of that is enough to change the truth.”

He got to his feet and took both her hands in his. He had closed the gap between them, and she had to look
up to see into his deep blue eyes. “Then give me the chance to get to know you.” She shook her head. “You had a year, Jeremy. It’s too late.”
“I don’t understand. I know where you live, where you work, what you’re trying to build with Candace and
Maria. How is that not knowing you?”

She ran her thumbs over the backs of his hands, wanting to let go and at the same time, holding on. “I know everything about you. I know that your eyes look green on cloudy days. That you got that scar on your eyebrow when you were five and ran into a picnic table at the family reunion. I know you hate Brussel sprouts and love broccoli, and always wear green on Celtics game days. I know you played the clarinet in high school, but taught yourself guitar on the side. I know you are one of the smartest men I’ve ever met, and also,” her voice broke,
her words lodged against the lump in her throat, “one of the dumbest.”

Then she broke away and turned back to the path, her vision blurry, her stomach churning with hurt, disappointment. She’d taken four steps before Jeremy was there again, blocking her way. “I agree,” he said. “I am one of the dumbest men alive, because I let you get away. I don’t want to do that again, Rebecca.”

She shook her head again. “Jeremy, I—”
Then his mouth was on hers, and her objections disappeared in a bittersweet, tempting kiss that awakened feelings she thought had died. Feelings that had her curving into him, her arms sliding around his back. She tipped her head to allow him more access, to return the kiss, matching him with her lips, her tongue, her hands, wanting, desiring, needing, feeling everything through the thin fabric of their running shorts, the slickness of their damp skin. It was like coming home again, stepping into a room she knew well, but a room that engulfed her senses with a fire that overwhelmed her. Chased away logic, common sense, reality.

And that was the whole problem. She stumbled back, out of his arms. “Don’t. Please, just don’t.” “I want you back, Rebecca. I’m not the same without you.”
How she wanted to agree. To say yes would be easy—and be the worst thing she could do. She’d already made the mistake twice of letting sex overpower her better judgment, and settling for less than she deserved. Never again.

“Even now, you can’t say it,” she said softly, shaking her head. “Jeremy, I can’t. If I do, we’ll end up where we were before, and that means in six months, or a year, or two, or worse, after we’ve gotten married and had two kids, I’ll get that same feeling I got at the beginning of the summer. That being in this relationship means I’m missing something, that I could have more of, if only I’d go after it. And thinking that only leads to…” she shook her head, willing away the tears that burned at the back of her eyes, “choices I should never make.”

Then she started running again. The pavement was hard and real under her shoes, the hot early September sun merciless against her skin, and the path a way back home—and far away from another mistake.

Caroline: Great excerpt. Where can readers find THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS?

Shirley: Here’s the Amazon link:

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Shirley: Here are some links:

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Shirley: I love to chat with readers and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I’m definitely more on Facebook than Twitter—I like the interaction and personal touch that Facebook brings as opposed to Twitter. And I love sharing/finding recipes on Pinterest, so if you’re there and you’re a great home cook, let me know!

Caroline: Thanks for visiting and sharing with us today, Shirley. Wishing you continued success in your writing career.

Readers, thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

katsrus said...

Enjoyed the excerpt and your interview. Really nice cover.