Jillian Kent writes Regency romance with a twist. Her debut novel, Secrets of the Heart, will be released by Strang/Realm in May 2011.
By day, Jillian is employed as a counselor for nursing students. By night, she writes inspirational romance to further her passion and calling. Born in Florida and raised in Pennsylvania, she headed to West Virginia for college, worked a year in New Jersey, and then returned to further her education in WV. During her senior year, she spent a semester abroad living in Oxford, England studying British Literature and fell in love with British culture. She earned a BA in Sociology from Bethany College and a Masters in Social Work from West Virginia University.
Cincinnati, Ohio is now home, where Jillian lives with her social worker husband and two daughters ages 18 and 20. Jillian’s 85-year-old mother moved in with them last year.
Jillian’s family owns four cats: Lucky, Yuma, Snow, and Holden, and two dogs, Abu and Bandit, who just happen to be half brothers and look nothing alike. Abu looks like a Bichon but isn’t, and Bandit is part Shizu but acts like a giant behemoth. When Jillian isn’t caring for her family, counseling, or crafting her stories, she likes to read mysteries and suspense with a romantic edge, walk, and work on character collages for her novels.
Join me as we learn more about Jill and her journey to publication.
•Several changes have taken place in your life since you were my guest in July 2009. A biggie is that you made your First Sale. What led to this milestone event?
Hi Keli! Hi Everyone!
I’m so happy to be back at Romance Writers on the Journey. It’s really a wonderful opportunity you provide all of us to talk about our personal writing journeys. I really appreciate that. Sometimes I think we can get so wrapped up in what needs to be done day to day that we don’t take the time to take stock of what each of us has accomplished.
The publishing process can be mind-bendingly slow. I think it was around February of 2009 that Debbie Marrie from Strang Communications posted on the American Christian Fiction Writers loop (or perhaps somebody else posted the message for her) that she was looking for historical romance. Strang/Realms has sold speculative fiction for awhile. I believe it was when Jeff Gerke was working there that he helped make that possible. Some of you have probably met Jeff at conferences.
Anyway, I sent my proposal to Debbie Marrie along with my entire manuscript at her request and she got back to me immediately saying that she was sorry because she hadn’t made it clear that she was only looking for prairie romances set in America. My hope plummeted for about the zillionth time on this journey. And then God knocked my socks off!
Fast forward to November when an e-mail popped up on my screen from Debbie. She said that Strang had decided to branch out a bit and because she had my full manuscript they gave it to fifteen readers at Strang who loved it! Then she asked if the manuscript had been sold yet. I’d had a couple of close possibilities that fell through. Imagine my shock and surprise when I received this e-mail! I think my first thought was, “huh?”
•This past March you sold Secrets of the Heart, Book 1 in The Ravensmoore Chronicles, to Strang/Realms in a three-book deal. When did The Call come, where were you at the time, and how did you react to the news?
I never got an official call through the entire process. Everything mostly happened via e-mail. A lot happened between November and March. Strang/Realms needed to have another editor read my manuscript and some things got drawn out, but ultimately they offered to buy The Ravensmoore Chronicles. So Book One, Secrets of the Heart, will be released in May 2011. Yippee!
•You sold your Regency series, and then you were offered representation from one of the best agents out there. (As my agency mate, you know I’m biased. :-)) Please tell us how this came about.
Because I had sold the series without an agent I wasn’t sure what I should do. So I did what all of us do when we need advice: I e-mailed James Scott Bell. 🙂 Jim had been my mentor at Mt. Hermon in 2007. We shared a couple e-mails and he suggested I contact Rachelle Gardner.
Rachelle was very kind and understanding as we talked on the phone. She wanted to know if I was looking for someone to negotiate this series or for the long term?
I think many of you know Rachelle or have read her blog, Rants & Ramblings. I’d never met her in person but I knew of her through her blog and her awesome reputation. I said I wanted someone who could help build my career as a writer, not just for this series. She agreed to represent me. 🙂 On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, I signed my final contract. I was very glad I had an agent.
•I’ve heard a writer’s plate becomes quite full as she embarks on her new career as a published author. Please share with us what’s going on now, what you’ve been learning, and what you’ve done to in preparation for your imminent release.
There’s so much that happens when you sell and sometimes things don’t happen as fast as you’d like them to. For instance, I don’t have a book cover yet and I think anyone who is going through the publishing process will tell you they really look forward to that moment. On the other hand I have to complete Book Two and turn it in by December 1st and have yet to get my edits on Book One, so you know what’s going to happen soon don’t you? Everything will happen at once.
I’m very glad I thought to have my website professionally created by PulsePoint Design. I called them when I first started getting interest on my series in October 2009. Since PPD has a very busy schedule that was a wise decision.
My biggest challenge at the moment, other than writing the second book in the series is trying to keep up with blogging. I was going to quit blogging so I could put all my efforts into balancing my day job with my writing responsibilities, but I felt the need to at least try and do something special on my website blog. I created Bedlam Tuesdays last month. Once you sell it’s all important that you keep your mind on your writing and your deadlines. I’m learning to become a self-management expert.
•Since you’ve gone through the initial euphoria of getting a contract offer and the resulting return to reality that inevitably follows, what advice would you offer others who have yet to receive The Call about how to prepare themselves for life as a published author?
Write. Produce as much product as you can. Don’t get hung up on perfecting one book. Write something else. Explore what you really enjoy writing. I’m writing historicals. If I didn’t love historicals life would get really hard if say I had written contemporaries and got a contract to write something I didn’t love at the moment. I have written a couple partial contemporaries but my heart is with historical storytelling for now. You have to remember that when your dreams come true you still have to take care of your family, maybe a day job, and attend to other responsibilities.
I’d also recommend you get in shape if you’re not already. When you have to write a lot and keep your butt in the chair it’s hard to lose weight.
And if you ever get the opportunity to participate in NovelTrack, just do it! ACFW offered this in July and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I wrote 25,000 words in one month and that was my goal.
•Please tell us about Secrets of the Heart.
Here’s a quick synopsis for you. I hope you like it.
Madeline Whittington, daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield, emerges from English Society’s prescribed period of mourning in the winter of 1817. She grapples with anxiety during a prestigious hunt as she rejoins the ton. Her mind is elsewhere due to concerns about the orphans at Ashcroft, the asylum where she has taught the children during the past year. How can she return to the shallow upper crust of gossip and gowns when she has transformed into a different person? Society would never approve, and her mother, Lady Grace, would never understand. But God has other plans for her life.
Devlin Greyson is now the Earl of Ravensmoore due to his elder brother’s unexpected death. The nobleman struggles between two worlds: one of affluence and privilege, and one of poverty and disease. Torn between his desire to become a doctor and the numerous responsibilities of his title, his inability to save the life of Madeline’s father the year prior burdens his heart and a small seed of doubt begins to bloom as he questions his calling.
When Madeline is thrown from her horse and sprains her arm, Devlin comes to assist her. Emotion explodes within each of them as recognition of the other begins a journey that will catapult them into unexpected danger, incredible love, and ultimate forgiveness.
Questions for Jillian
Jillian, it’s been great to have you back at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your wonderful news with us.
And now, I invite your visitors to squeal with you and to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut novel, and what life is like after receiving that long-awaited contract offer.
Jillian has generously offered to give away an Amazon Gift Card worth $20.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Jillian by midnight August 15 (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)
On August 16, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address. (I don’t share your information with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)
Congratulations to Gia Dawn, winner of the gift card.
Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Learn More About Jillian
Visit her website ~ http://www.jilliankent.com
Visit her personal blog ~ http://jilliankent.blogspot.com
Friend Her on Facebook ~ Jillian Kent