Jann: We’re here today talking with five dynamic authors, Ottillia Scherschel, Jill Jaynes, Angela Shelly, Kathleen Harrington and Barb DeLong, members of the Writing Something Romantic critique group who came together to publish a collection of holiday short stories entitled Love for Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology.
Jann: Tell us about your critique group and how you came together?
Kathleen: Our Writing Something Romantic critique group started some years ago with a few writers who belonged to OCC. We wanted a small group to critique our romance writing. Angela Kyle, Carol Persinger, and I were original members. Shortly after we began to meet, we invited Barb DeLong, Val Millette, Jann Ryan, Ottilia Scherschel, and Jill Jaynes to join us. Ever since, we’ve met once a month to critique each other’s manuscripts. We celebrate birthdays and, of course, each others’ successes.
Jann: The anthology covers a variety of genres—a cursed whimsical witch, a woman looking for Mr. Right, a Montana suffragette, a woman on a dangerous and thrilling train ride, and an artifact hunter who finds hope and love. Was it difficult to blend these stories into the anthology?
Barb: We decided as a group to write to our strengths and particular genres with a unifying theme of Christmas time for our first anthology. Hopefully the anthology will appeal to a wide audience because of the different genres.
Jann: This question is for Ottilia Scherschel. Your novels take place in foreign countries. Your short story for the anthology, Night Train to Hong Kong, a romantic suspense which takes place on a train ride from Beijing to Hong Kong. Why did you decide choose China for your location? Are all your novels romantic suspense?
Ottilia: My mother liked to say I was born with a foot in a suitcase. I’ve always loved to travel. Growing up, Hong Kong seemed mysterious, so far away, and its history with the British fascinated me. I sought out movies set there and visited San Francisco’s Chinatown to gawk at all the finery from Hong Kong. When my husband and I were married, he presented me with pearls he had bought in Hong Kong for his future wife while he was in the Navy. Years later, when my brother started doing business in China, I decided I had a reliable source and the time had come to write about that country and its customs.
Not all my novels are romantic suspense. I also write historical fiction, but all my novels have an element of suspense and are set in foreign countries at least in part.
Jann: Jill Jaynes—your contemporary romance, The Christmas Wish, has a woman looking for Mr. Right. Your story has Allie making a wish on a magical ornament for true love. Did you ever make the same wish?
Jill: Haha! More than once, I’m sure! I think most of us wish we could get a little help finding that guy. I definitely settled for a few frogs before my true love finally swept into my life and showed me what I’d been missing all along. In my story, Allie finds out that nothing is as easy as it seems, even with a magical wish in your pocket. But hey, it’s Christmas! I’m pretty sure something good will happen…
Jann: Angela Shelley, you also write novels for children as well. Did this have anything to do with basing your story, Winter’s Warmth, on the Snow Queen myth?
Angela: Children’s stories lend themselves particularly well to myth, legend, and symbolism–all things I’ve been fascinated by as long as I can remember. (As does the fantasy genre.) This is probably why I find myself writing (and reading) mostly in those areas, even though I enjoy contemporary, scifi, mystery, historical, romance, and other genres as a reader.
Old tales, religion, psychology, and modern storytelling speak in the languages of archetypes and symbols. We use them to layer depth and glean meaning from our world. That’s why I enjoy writing stories based on myth—these old stories give me worlds in which I can explore the deeper connections that live in us all.
Jann: Barb DeLong—A Witch for Christmas, is a humorous paranormal romance, and you’re also writing a series with the same theme. What triggered your interest in witches?
Barb: I knew I wanted to write a paranormal story because I love reading them. I write humorous and absolutely loved Jill Barnett’s Bewitching. I thought whimsical witches and their magic were right up my alley. My work-in-progress is a paranormal romance series called Charmed by a Witch, with the first book being Charm’d.
Jann: Kathleen Harrington—you have published several historical romances and for your short story, you selected Montana in the 1880’s and the suffragette movement. Was it Montana, the time period or both that attracted you to use this time and place?
Kathleen: My genre has always been historical romance. I’ve written several romances set in Montana during the 1880’s, so my familiarity with the setting made for an easy choice. While doing some research on Helena, I came across a photo of a suffragette from Great Falls. She was identified as a librarian and was standing so straight and proud beside the bicycle she rode to work, I felt an instant admiration for her and all the ladies who strove to secure the women’s vote. And so, Paulette Winslow, spinster and librarian, sprang to life in my imagination. My hero came just as easily. I’ve previously written a romance set in Butte, about a wealthy mine owner. This time my hero, Brent McFarland, comes from Butte to Helena to take over the local newspaper.
About our Authors:
When Ottilia Scherschel started sixth grade, she learned her fifth language. Her immigrant parents wandered throughout Europe and Latin America, waiting for papers to enter the United States. Today, she lives in Southern California. After a successful career in international communications, she took up writing romantic suspense stories set in foreign climes.
Her first novel DARING THE DRAGON, takes place in China and her second, A KISS TOO LONG, is set in Hungary and Italy. You can read one of her short stories in ROMANCING THE PAGES, an anthology by the Orange County Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. https://writingsomethingromantic.com/
Jill Jaynes began her love affair with romance when she was a teenager growing up in Southern California, spending many a late-night under the covers with a flashlight and good romance novel.
This early addiction stuck, and she discovered one day that telling great stories was even more fun than reading them. Today she writes stories with happy endings her own way- with a dash of magic that means anything can happen.
When she’s not writing, you can find her (still in Southern California) occupied with one of the following activities: a) wine-tasting, hiking or otherwise hanging out with her hot husband, b) walking her two high-maintenance dogs, c) plotting her next story with her writer-daughter or d) working at her day job in her spare time. http://www.jilljaynes.com
Angela Shelley was twenty-two when writing became a passion. She’s been doing it in one form or another ever since. As a technical writer, she published science articles for magazines, grant proposals, software manuals, and online help systems. She won Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for her first and second novels, Ennara and the Fallen Druid and Ennara and the Book of Shadows.
Angela Shelley is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In her spare time, she makes book trailers and volunteers for her writing organizations and twins’ classroom. Visit her at http://www.angelashelley.net.
Barb DeLong, long-time member of the Orange County Chapter/Romance Writers of America, is a member of RWA’s PRO community. She has been writing one thing or another for as long as she can remember. Her stories have won and finalled in several contests, and she published a short story in the Romancing the Pages anthology. Barb is currently working on a humorous paranormal romance series called Charmed by a Witch.
She’s excited to share with you the magic of love, laughter and happily ever after! https://writingsomethingromantic.com/
Kathleen Harrington, multi-published, award-winning author, has touched the hearts of readers across the country and the world with her sparkling tales of high adventure and unending love. Her historical romances have been published in Chinese, Russian, Italian, and German. She lives in Southern California with her American Bulldog, Auron. http://www.kathleenharringtonbooks.com/
Thank you ladies for sharing with us about your critique group and your holiday anthology, Love for Christmas.
Jann Ryan grew up with the smell of orange blossoms in Orange County in sunny Southern California, where she has lived her entire life and dreamed up stories since she was a young girl. Never an avid reader, she was in her thirties when she picked up her first romance quite by accident. She fell in love with happily ever after and has been reading romances ever since.
Wanting to put pen to paper, Jann joined of Romance Writers of America®. Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense series set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town along the California central coast to fulfill her publishing dream.