Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Few Words from Jill Barnett--And A Few from Janga

Last September, not long before the Vagabonds broke up the caravan and headed in different directions, I blogged on my wish list of new books by authors whose names had disappeared from new releases lists. I didn’t include Jill Barnett in the list because I kept seeing references to new books by her, but Hellion, the Cap’n on the Romance Writer’s Revenge, mentioned in her comment how much she missed JB and suggested that her absence might be attributable to the untimely death of her husband.

I haven’t really thought about the wish list blog since the Vagabonds said our goodbyes, but our words—mine and those of all the commenters—caught the attention of Jill Barnett, who sent me the following message:

I scoured your website, Vagabonds, but could find nowhere to post. I just now discovered a conversation in 2009 about me, my books, or lack thereof, and the death of my husband.

I would love to post or have you post this info. I loved that you and Hellion missed my books. As for Chris' death affecting my output, not so much. His death has affected every moment and single grain of my life. I was so scared. Our daughter was only 11. I had to raise her alone. It was not easy. Then my father and my MIL died, two months apart and a year after Chris. Still I was writing.

I was in the middle of CARRIED AWAY when Chris died, and had stupidly patterned a character after him. Can you imagine? Finishing that book was so difficult, but I did. After that, I wrote WONDERFUL, WILD, WICKED, all historical romances, some of my bestsellers, then SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, THE DAYS OF SUMMER, and another women's fiction book.

And I have three new historical romances coming out all together in 2011.

Here's a short version of what happened. I was urged by my publisher to go hardcover. They wanted to take WICKED hardcover. That bothered me. Romance readers read so much. They want paperback, so I agreed instead to do hardcover fiction and write something else after WICKED, which I asked them to keep as a mass market ppbk. Then during one year, everyone who supported me at the publisher left and my agent left my literary agency. I had been at my publisher since 1988, with my first book. This was what was difficult.

Eventually I slogged through and finished my contract; this was not easy, I admit, and took me forever. I left and have gone over to my old team who are now at Random House/Ballantine. We proposed three new historical romances, which they wanted to hold and publish all at once, and I still had to write the books, so I expect they will be out sometime in 2011.

There is a 4th book they don't know about yet which will probably follow those. Had I written these books faster, they would have been out this year. Blame me for that. I was never a speedy writer. It takes 2-3 months to physically write a book, but 6-9 for me to 'think a book.'

But I adore these books and hope readers will, too. Set in medieval Scotland, they are about three sisters who I believe readers will not forget, and the men who fall in love with them, though that is not an easy task for our heroes. I promise you these books are different, and that readers will read them and find many surprises. They are emotional, sometimes funny, and meant for readers to close the book happy. I want these women to be remembered, and think they will be, although I'm still writing number 3, so we'll see.

I have another idea for a trilogy, so I would like to write that, and further into the future, I swear I will write the two spin offs of BEWITCHING and DREAMING I am still getting mail about.

A revamped Jill Barnett website will up in the late summer. All of my older romances are being released in e-Book form and will be available in a couple of months, if not sooner at all the eBook stores.

I am sincerely flattered that readers miss my books. I will try to make certain they have Jill Barnett books every year in the future.

Yes, there are times and were times when writing a happy, joy-filled love story was difficult, especially in the early days of Chris' death, when I was floundering so, and terribly wounded. But my husband loved that I wrote these books. To stop writing would feel like a slap in his face. I was lucky to have had him for 27 years, and I would have loved to have had him for 27 more. He is missed greatly by my daughter, his brothers and sisters, his friends, his employees, and me.

I do post on a private (not fan site) on Facebook, talk about books and life, family and him, home and writing, and I have little Twitter acct, Jillbooks. I will eventually set up a FB fan page, but anyone is welcome to befriend me on the one that is there now.

So new books are coming, and I hope you will still want to read them, that readers will laugh and cry, and read the last line and close the book on a satisfied sigh.

My best,

Jill Barnett

If you’ve never read a Jill Barnett book, do yourself a favor and look for those ebooks right now. Bewitching and Dreaming are my favorites, and I was delighted to read that Ms. Barnett is planning spinoffs of these books. Anytime the subject of epilogues comes up, I cite Bewitching as having one of the best epilogues ever written. Just thinking about it makes me smile. I know some of you share my fondness for control-freak meets free spirit plots, and, trust me, this tale of the proper, rational Alec Castlemaine, 15th Duke of Belmore, who wants to control everything, and Joyous Fiona MacQuarrie, a one-quarter witch who can’t even control her own magic, will have you laughing, crying, and sighing at some great love scenes. I don’t know of another book where the H/H’s lovemaking is accompanied by a shower of pink rose petals. A cast of wonderful secondary characters, including Beezle, Joy’s familiar, an ermine weasel, add to the delight. Some of the secondary characters get their own HEAs in Dreaming, which Hellion actually likes even better than Bewitching.

I read very few Medieval romances, but I have read JB’s trilogy: Wonderful, Wild, and Wicked. The latter is one of only three Medievals on my all-time top 100 romances list. Even my bias against the period setting couldn’t hold out against the humor, the pathos, and the heart-capturing H/H of this book.

I also love Sentimental Journey. It is a World War II book that is a novel with strong romantic elements rather than a romance, but both the men and women are strong, active, and deeply human characters whose stories will engage your mind and your heart. I have to add a novella to my list of Jill Barnett favorites. “Boxing Day,” one of four stories in the Christmas anthology A Stockingful of Joy, is a one-of-a-kind tale featuring an older heroine and a professional boxer in Victorian New York. It’s been a part of my annual Christmas rereads since I first read it. (Mary Jo Putney’s underrated “The Best Husband Money Can Buy” is in the same anthology.)

Perhaps you are beginning to understand why Hellion and I missed Jill Barnett books and why I think the news that “new books are coming” is an announcement worth celebrating.

What’s your favorite Jill Barnett book? From what writers do you most long to hear a new-books-on-the-way announcement?


MsHellion said...

*happy joyous scream* The MINUTE her books hit the store I will buying them; and if by some miracle she is even remotely willing to blog, I would love to have her on the Revenge to talk about her new books. I am so, so, so happy to be wrong and find out she was still writing...and that this was all publishing house problems (which always distresses me to hear about--what a nightmare! It's a wonder any writer ever gets published!)

I have to send this blog off to my friend, Jackie. She and I were such huge fans of Jill's--I know she'll be thrilled there are more books to come.

I'm feeling very nostalgic for some Jill books now. I think I'll have to re-read them all. I did love Bewitching--and I think it might have been Jackie's favorite--but mostly because I love Maclean. *LOL* She was a cool witch. And it was a fun and romantic book. That was what I most adored about Jill's books. They were just SO ROMANTIC. Sexy, but in a ROMANTIC way, which isn't always the case anymore. Yes, I'm definitely going to have to do some re-reading soon.

DREAMING is my favorite--because Richard is such a flawed hero; and Letty is SO heartbreaking. When he does his stunt to show her that saying "I love you" is just words, anyone can say them--and she tells him about her mother and that she's never said the words without meaning them, I just CRY. Those characters couldn't be more real than if they were having dinner with me.

WONDERFUL is probably my next favorite because I love the fact she makes mead--and it keeps influencing the men who drink it. *LOL* That's the other thing about Jill's books. They're ROMANTIC, but they're always MAGICAL too.

Oh, I can't wait. This is better than Christmas. Something brilliant to look forward to. Thank you, thank you, Janga and Jill!

MsHellion said...

Oooh, and in WONDERFUL, I believe that was the book that had the BEST LINE EVER. The ladies were sewing in the tower, and they were talking about hair color and what the church says about hair color influencing a woman's personality because hair, they say, grew directly from the brain.

And the youngest girl of the group spoke up and said, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Everyone knows if hair grew directly from the brain, all men would be bald."

Janga said...

I knew I could count on your enthusiasm for all things written by Jill Barnett, Hellie. LOL! I think having her blog with the Pirates is a grand idea. Here's hoping Jill accepts your invitation!

Gannon Carr said...

Oh, BEWITCHING and DREAMING are my favorites, too. They're both on my keeper shelf.

MsHellion said...

My nickname--Hellion--comes from Dreaming. I loved Richard and Letty so much, loved that he called her hellion--I thought it was the sweetest endearment (*LOL*). DREAMING came out in 1994--when I was in early college--soon after that book, we all got internet addresses, and I picked "franthehellion" at whatever mail place I had going on. Eventually I dropped the first part, being I can't stand my name so much.

Anyway...people just think someone else named me Hellion--and really I just named myself; and people think it fits because I'm a smartass, but it's not. It's because I identify so much with Letty.

Oh, and another thing Letty and I have in common: we both always wanted Titian colored hair. *LOL* Not brown. *LOL*

Okay, back to the Jill Barnett screaming and rejoicing!!! I am so excited. I told Jackie and she's excited too.

TerriOsburn said...

Really, Hellion, you need to learn to let this stuff out. You're holding back way too much. :)

I have a few Jill Barnett books on my shelves and for some reason have never read them. I've had them for years. Guess what I will be reading before the summer is out? LOL!

We would love to have her on the ship. Especially since she inspired our Captain so.

MsHellion said...

*sticks out tongue at Terri*

quantum said...

Another author on my horizon that I'm hoping to try soon!

With both you and Helli rooting for her, she is suddenly looming large on my starboard bow.

I've never seen the pirate skipper get so excited.

Jill Barnett has become a priority read for me.

It would be fabulous to meet her on the pirate ship or the EJ/JQ BB book club spot.

Another stunning blog Janga. *smile*

irisheyes said...

I know I've read Bewitching because I remember that epilogue, Janga, and you're right - it is a good one. I'll have to go search out Dreaming.

Condolences on your lost, Jill. What a lovely letter for you to post for those anxiously awaiting your new work. You are obviously not only a very gifted author but also a very thoughtful one.

Jill Barnett said...

I'd love to visit you ladies and blog. Closer to when the books are coming out? I'm still writing. You are all so good for my ego, and in the acknowledgments I thanked my daughter for the best line in the book, about the bald men. I adore her sense of humor.

Email me anytime at