Gemma Juliana is back with me today, talking about her writing, and giving us a peek into one of her current releases. On Monday, she gave us a fabulous Middle Eastern Recipe. Today, we’re just hanging out and chatting. And, don’t forget that Gemma will be back again on Friday.
Gemma writes several genres and launched her indie publishing career with three novellas in the Sheikhs of the Golden Triangle series in February.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you start writing?
I started writing when I was fourteen. I’d written before then, but that was the “conscious beginning”. I joined RWA thirty years ago, while expecting my first child. I wrote a couple of stories, got some very encouraging rejections, then moved to Europe and put my typewriter away for fifteen years. Joined RWA again for several years, became discouraged with the state of “organized publishing” and am thrilled to be indie-publishing. Finally the journey has begun!
(Anne) They say third time’s the charm!
What drew you to this particular genre?
I’m an all-over-the-place writer. I love romantic suspense, have enjoyed more than one sheikh romance in my day, and so the Sheikhs of the Golden Triangle series was high up on my list. There’s something about the exotic settings, the extremely alpha males, and the undercurrent of danger that just keeps me turning pages.
Have you ever considered another genre? And if so which one?
I’m releasing some contemporary bride books this summer as well as paranormals and fantasies. I’ve also got several children’s books planned under a different pseudonym. There just aren’t enough hours in a day!
(Anne) Don’t I know it!
What is the single most important part of writing for you?
I love world building and turning up the suspense. Interweaving characters and timelines. Watching a character try to figure out who to trust, who to love. Most of all, I love surprising the reader with unexpected endings. My best surprise ending so far is in Christmas Spirits.
(Anne) Oh, I love surprises. No, actually I don’t. I’m one of those people who peek. Yup, that’s me.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or…?
It always starts with an idea that hits me out of the blue. I plot it out a little to see if I stay excited about it, do some research if necessary, and start writing. I am a pantser more than a plotter. I’ve noted many great story ideas over the years and new ones come to me often.
What did you learn from writing your first book?
That I can write more than three chapters… that I can write The End and feel a great sense of accomplishment! Writing a book is a journey, and can help with real life problem solving.
How many hours a day to you spend writing? Do you have a routine?
I should have a routine, but I still homeschool a child and help my husband run his business. My writing is more important to me than ever before, so I usually write daily. I don’t set word or page counts. I often go for long sprints when things flow well. When they don’t I make myself write at least a page or two.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Ouch! Here’s what I’d say to a younger me. “Don’t throw in the towel on your writing career when you move to Europe, or it will be fifteen years before you get back to it and the market will be a much more competitive place. Keep writing no matter where you are.” Timing really matters and can make a huge difference.
(Anne) Great advice, Gemma.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Cooking, travel, reading, astrology, tarot, runes, collecting crystals, going to lunch with friends, coffee, chocolate… it’s a pretty endless list! I also eavesdrop – not deliberately – and create plots in my head from snippets I’ve overheard.
(Anne) LOL. I took class a year or so ago, and one of the assignments was to eavesdrop on a conversation, write part of it down, and then that became our inspiration for a short story. I thought it was a fabulous way to get ideas rolling around!
If you could be any character in any one of your stories or somebody else’s – who would it be and why?
I only have a few books on the market right now, but I think I’d like to be the Celtic witch Oonagh, in The Amulet… I love the intensity of magic she controls, but in the end she is betrayed. I would do things a bit differently than she did. The Amulet is the prequel to the Sheikhs of the Golden Triangle series. Oonagh’s actions and choices influence the desert kingdoms for generations to come. I love intrigue!
What’s next for you in terms of writing?
The next sheikh novella, The Sheikh’s Crowning, will be released in June. Also, The Bridal Gift is the first story in the MacFarland series, and will be released in May or June. Last but not least, To Kiss A Mermaid comes out in July. This is the second story in the To Kiss series. The first novella, To Kiss a Leprechaun, launched recently. I like to have three projects going at a time.
Tell us a bit about your current release. What inspired it? Did you know what it would be about when you wrote the first book in the series?
The most recent release is To Kiss A Leprechaun, and the concept came out of the blue right around St. Patrick’s Day. It was inspired by the fact that leprechauns, fairies and Irish magic, including pots of gold and shamrocks are all part of the St. Patrick’s Day phenomena. I suddenly wondered how St. Patrick feels about it all, since his goal was to drive the magic out of Ireland. To Kiss A Leprechaun is a light romance for all ages and audiences, just a bit of fun. I think of it as a blend of Beauty and the Beast meets Sleeping Beauty.
(Anne) What a wonderful idea!
What is your favorite part of this particular story, and why? (Hopefully you can tell us without giving anything away J )
The thought that the curse might not be broken! As I said earlier, timing is everything!
Thank you, Gemma, for talking with me today. I’m certainly glad you didn’t give up on your writing career, and it sounds like you have lots planned for readers over the coming months!
And now, a peek at To Kiss a Leprechaun
To Kiss a Leprechaun Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
To Kiss A Leprechaun is a “sweet fantasy romance” since the hottest event is kissing and a curse word or two. A read for most ages (12+). Think “Beauty & The Beast meets Sleeping Beauty”…
Lorcan the leprechaun prince has been under an ugly spell for centuries. Every year, he gets to choose a village girl to kiss, and it brings prosperity and well being to the village. This year Aine Byrne is the lucky one – not!
Aine freaks out and tries to find a way out. She has a crush on another guy, and he’s downright ugly… but her village is counting on her.
The secret reason for the annual kissing ritual is so Lorcan can search for his soul mate. Only her kiss can break the curse. What are the chances he’ll find his true love when she must have a blend of human, fairy and mermaid blood pulsing in her veins? Worse yet, somebody wants to make sure he doesn’t find her.
This story is an adventure filled with fantasy, shapeshifting, witches, wizards and all sorts of magic. It’s a fun, lighthearted read for all ages.
(22,300 words – short novel length)
“You must be joking. There’s no way I’ll ever kiss that hideous excuse for a man.”
Aine’s eyes bulged as she stared with morbid fascination through the white lace kitchen curtains at the creature. His gnome-like features were rugged and exaggerated, his back was slightly hunched. His head was too large for his short, misshapen body.
“But En—yah…” her mother dragged her name out for extra emphasis.
Turning, she focused a withering stare on her mother. “Never!”
The ugly monster-man stood talking to their neighbor, just beyond the white picket fence. He was much too close for comfort, with only the small front garden between him and her cottage.
Sheer terror rose up in her throat at the thought of him approaching and knocking on their door. He had no right to intrude into her world. He was only entitled to one minute of her time on the spring equinox, and not a second more.
Her life was doomed because he’d chosen her. Of the zillions of minutes that lay before her, that one short minute would seal her fate. She’d have to kiss him in public, for all the village folk and television cameras of the world to see. No decent man would want her after that, knowing her lips had…
She felt safe watching him from behind the kitchen curtain, until he threw his head back and laughed at something her neighbor said. Turning, his sharp gaze pierced the veil of her hiding place, burnt through the cloth and captured her eyes. His expression told her he’d known all along that she stood there, watching him.
She jerked back as though his stare had seared her skin and invaded her soul. I hope you can read my thoughts too! Then you’ll know how repulsed I am at the thought of kissing you.
Turning, she stomped off toward the back of the house, hands on her hips.
“Come back here right now, young lady, and don’t be so unreasonable.” Her mother’s voice rose as she dropped the baking pan of blueberry muffins onto the kitchen table and followed her daughter through their small home.
“You’re unreasonable, Ma. If he comes to the door you’d better step outside. For, if you let him in you’ll be disgraced by my conduct. I’ll not play your game.”
“T’is no game, girl, nor is it about you.” The older woman spluttered, her cheeks transforming to a shade of brick red. “You’ve heard tell of this tradition since you were knee-high to a grasshopper. You’re the lucky girl he’s chosen this year. You kiss the fairy man for the good of us all. It’ll ensure peace with the elementals, and prosperity for our village.”
Aine spun around to confront her mother. “How dare you expect me to kiss a monster with a face like a toad. He’s grotesque, Ma. If this happened on one of your favorite reality TV shows, you’d say so yourself.”
Mrs. Byrne stood eye to eye with her daughter, and put her worn chapped hands on the girl’s thin shoulders. “Aye, but it’s no TV show. This is our reality, how things have been done in Glen Kisswish Village for as long as anyone can remember.”
“Let someone else have the honor.” Aine retorted as she scrunched her copper hair behind her ears and looked sideways to avoid her mother’s probing silver eyes. “What about Lizzie O’Toole? She’s hot stuff. Let her go kiss him.”
“You know the ancient custom.” Mrs. Byrne’s words were laced with tense patience. “Lorcan has his choice of eighteen year old village girls every year. The one he chooses must kiss him on the spring equinox. Nobody has ever refused, because to do so would be to invite great misfortune down upon us all.”
“What wretched fate is mine that he had to choose me?” Aine threw herself onto the sofa and stared into the empty fireplace. Winter was long gone so there was no fire burning in the grate.
“I don’t understand you, girl. This is an honor. It’s just a kiss, nothing more. One fleeting moment of your life. See it as a contribution to your village. Don’t tell me I’ve raised a selfish, spoilt brat.”
“An honor, indeed.” Aine knew her cheeks must be bright red, they burned so fiercely. Her eyes were moist with fury. “It’s time we move into the twenty-first century in this corner of Ireland instead of fearing old wives tales and performing superstitious archaic rituals.”
“Hear me well, girl. If your father were alive, he’d sort you out in no time, but he’s not. So, it falls on my shoulders,” Mrs. Byrne pounded her chest for emphasis, “to remind you not to disgrace the Byrne name.” Gasping for breath, the older woman sank down onto a chair. “Lorcan O’Shaughnessy is a prince in his own right, and a hybrid of the fairy folk and the merfolk. We’ve lived in harmony with them all for a very long time. He’s the last of his line, so this old custom will soon die out as it is.”
“Not soon enough,” Aine sobbed as she jumped up and ran from the room. Her large gray Irish wolfhound, Shags, watched her go with a worried face.
Mrs. Byrne heard Aine’s bedroom door slam shut. She shook her head, stood on her weary legs, and went to her crystal cabinet to pour a splash of whiskey into a fancy glass. Staring at the golden liquid as it slurped around, she raised her glass and toasted Aine’s father.
“Here’s to you, Jack Byrne,” she muttered. “Try to put some sense into your daughter’s head before she disgraces us all. She’s every bit as stubborn as you.” Tilting the glass to her lips, she downed its contents in one slug. A trail of fire burned its way down to her gut and emboldened her tongue. “Don’t make me revert to me old ways,” she warned him. “If I must, I’ll brew a potion to enchant her. I’ll have no leprechaun mischief around here.”
Aine Byrne would do her mother’s bidding. There was no way Mrs. Byrne intended to live the rest of her life with egg on her face in a village the size of Glen Kisswish.
She agreed with Aine on one point. Lorcan O’Shaugnessey was frightfully ugly.
She’d brush up on her old potion recipes, just in case.
© 2013 To Kiss a Leprechaun excerpt Gemma Juliana, All Rights Reserved
Gemma has tried many careers on her path to writing, like working for an oil company, teaching, making jewelry, selling diet products, bookkeeping, reading tarot cards, casting astrology charts, and working on a cruise ship, just to name a few.
She always has a story “under construction” and at one time had about fifteen stories going. Recently she finished a few and now gets a thrill from writing ‘The End’ on a manuscript.
Gemma looks for a plot in everything, and some of her ideas come from very unusual sources. An overheard snippet of conversation, a real life newspaper story that can be tweaked in a different direction, or even the experiences of her friends. Yes, they know! Life presents lots of great stories, and there’s a golden nugget in almost everything, with the right dose of imagination.
Her favorite occupation is presenting her characters with torturous choices, putting their backs against the wall, and then helping them find a way out. She loves happily-ever-after endings and believes there is healing in every story that provides one. She has plans to write many books in various genres, for adults and children.
She currently lives in a cozy cottage in Texas with her own unique alpha hero, and a very clever curly-tailed dog.
Gemma is an avid reader. She loves hearing from her readers, and appreciates any suggestions and recommendations you’d like to share. Her greatest reward is hearing that you enjoy the adventures she crafts.
Amazon Buy Links:
To Kiss a Leprechaun | The Sheikh’s Spy | The Amulet | Christmas Spirits
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Don’t forget to check back on Friday, for one more visit from Gemma.