Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Holly Jacobs Drops by for a drink

Today, we're happy to be sitting down for a some writer talk with Holly Jacobs who, with Sherryl Woods and and Darlene Gardner, is part of the Harlequin Christmas Anthology, DASHING THROUGH THE MALL. (Great title.)

Thanks for stopping by, Holly!

I want to thank you all for letting me visit!! I brought along a gift that, given the name of the blog, I hope delights... (Holly plops down a pitcher of her strong margaritas and some homemade salsa and chips!) Dig in everyone...and thanks again for letting me guest blog.

Anyone who comes bearing margaritas is welcome! Tell us how this Anthology came about.

Harlequin came to us with an idea...a Christmas book that takes place at a mall on Christmas Eve. Thus Dashing Through the Mall was born. The three of us (Sherryl Woods, Darlene Gardner and myself) spent a couple weeks brainstorming three stories that were set in the same mall, but pretty independent of each other. Mine, Deck the Halls, involves Dr. Ed Hall and his three sons who won a Christmas Eve shopping spree, and Joy O’Connell who finds herself stuck shopping with them. Either Santa has a wicked sense of humor, or he came early to Joy and Ed.

Can't wait to read it. What is your favorite thing about writing? Your least favorite?

I love finding a story. Love watching it unfold, and being surprised by it. That surprise part is my favorite. When I come up with a character, I think I know them. But frequently they surprise me. Now, if I weren’t a writer, having people come to life in my head and do their own thing might result in a prescription for some serious medication. But because I am a writer, I get to embrace this little foible, and run with it. Right now I’m working on a fun short contemporary, Everything But a Groom. When I initially wrote the hero’s stepmom in the synopsis, I thought she was going to be an unpleasant character. As I wrote her scene, I realized she really did have a good heart, but just wasn’t adept at showing it. Surprise! She’s all bristles on the outside and totally gooey on the inside. Love those moments.

What don’t I like? I’m not a huge fan of the editing at the end. I have this weird reading quirk. Most of the time, when reading or writing, I don’t see the words on the page...I see the story unfolding in my head. Now, this is a joy while reading. It’s like a movie playing in my heads, and the characters always look just as I imagined them, which doesn’t always happen in a real movie! But this quirk makes editing hard. I have to constantly remind myself to look at the words, not the story. I’ve gotten better at it.

What is your typical writing day?

Back when my kids were young, I had a vampire-like schedule that involved writing after they went to bed. But now that they’re all older and in school I get to embrace the light! LOL Seriously, I get everyone out the door, then curl up on the couch with my laptop, the dog curled next to me, and write. I stop for lunch, and occasionally get called away by family stuff, but most days I write from about 8:30 to 2. I set a five page minimum, but never mind if the story is flowing and I get more done! In between all that, I balance four kids and a husband...and a slightly neurotic dog, Ethel Merrman!

Are you a pantser? Plotter? Do characters come first or conflict?

I was a pantser. My first handful of books were sold as completes, and I had no real need to write a synopsis, no need to figure out where the story was going in advance. Learning to do that was so difficult, but as I sold books and was able to sell a proposal, it was necessary to learn. The trick for me has always been presenting enough of a plot to satisfy an editor, while leaving enough of a mystery to leave the pantser in me a few surprises!
Oh, and for me, it’s all about the characters. Figuring them out, learning about them...that’s the fun of it.

Thanks for the margaritas. How do you recommend making them?

Frozen and strong. I didn’t think they were all that strong until a friend had a first sip of one of mine, then promptly turned an interesting shade of red and choked. She informed me that indeed, I do like them strong! LOL

They're great. Hic! About Christmas... Are you more scrooge or santa?

Well, I hate Christmas decorations and music before Thanksgiving (and don’t get me started on either before Halloween is even finished!) and I’m no fan of shopping chaos (which is how the idea for Deck the Halls shopping’s done way before that!), but I am at heart a santa. I love the season. Love baking. The last few years, we’ve been scaling back on the Christmas presents, and trying to put more emphasis on family time. For instance, we started a brand new tradition...jigsaw puzzles. We start a new one on Christmas Eve and spend the next day all working together to try and finish it. I try to find very hard ones. And we’ve been adding a new game to our cupboard, and try to spend time playing them. And of course, there’s the family watching of Rudolph!

It was great chatting with you, Holly. Thanks for stopping by.

You're welcome. And you’re all invited over to my place ( I’ve got a nifty little contest going on for the holidays!

Thanks again Holly. We hope to have another surprise guest blogger later in the week.


Molly O'Keefe said...

Holly!!! It's always fun to hear from you and of course always fun to hear about the adventures in your house. Ethel Mermann - no wonder the dog is neurotic.

I love hearing writers talk about how they get the work done and even though there isn't any suprises -- sit down and write, usually sums it up -- it's inspiring to be reminded that consistancy and discpline are the keys to any long term writing career and hopefully at the end you get into a great Christmas Anthology!! Congrats Holly!!

HollyJacobs said...

Thanks, Molly. And poor Ethel's name is even worse if you recall that my real last name is Fuhrmann. Yes, she's Ethel Merman Fuhrmann. Just say it, it trips of the tongue! Of course, when I call her, I use her full name, much to my kids' red-faced shame. Ah, but if you can't torture your kids (and dog) then who can you torture??!! LOL

And yes, mainly, the sit down and write sums it up beautifully!

Thank, btw. I'm thrilled about the anthology! I did some signing last weekend and it was on endcaps at a lot of the stores. So much fun!


Sinead M said...

Hey Holly,

So great you could stop by. The new anthology looks great. Can't wait to read it.

Plus, those martini's, sign me up..

Maureen McGowan said...

I hear what you're saying about editing too... That is, getting so caught up in the story you don't see the words.

I've heard other writers suggest randomly shuffling a manuscript and looking at each page out of order so it's impossible to get caught up... Haven't actually tried this yet. Sounds like a lot of work. :-)

HollyJacobs said...

Sinead, I'm cyber-sliding you a drink now! LOL Thanks! Glad you liked the sound of the anthology, and thrilled to be here!

HollyJacobs said...


Yes, it does sound like a lot of work, but if I get really stuck, I just might give it a try!


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