Recently I was given the chance to interview Jane Toombs—a very impressive author who I consider a Diva of this business. Why? Because she has her hand in many forms of publishing, as well as over 80 books to count. She is an inspiration to anyone of this business, and I think should be given her due like many Authors out there that are sometimes overlooked for their successes!
C.H. Scarlett : You have a lot of books under your belt Jane Toombs! I think it’s over 80 published? What fascinated me the most was that you are published by some Traditional Publishers and have many of your works with smaller presses or E-Pubs. As a writer, how is that working for you? What are some of the pros and cons you can share with us?
Jane Toombs: I was tired of tweaking my stories to conform to publisher’s lines. For example, when Silhouette Shadows first came into existence, everything I sent them they bought, except for the necessary editing, essentially unchanged. This, I see in retrospect was because they didn’t know what they wanted–except that it be dark and mysterious, plus have a romance, I wrote six books for the line–one a gothic, one a shape-shifter, one a ghost, one a monster-in-the pond, one a witch, and the last a psychic vampire. Then the line cratered. I think precisely for the same reason they bought all of mine. None of us writing for Shadows wrote to any specific guideline because they had none. Therefore readers never knew what they might be faced with next in a Shadows book. Apparently this upset a bunch of their regular readers. I had signed a contract for a seventh. I was told no more paranormal, and that they wanted a Special Edition with a cowboy and maybe a secret baby. Since I was living in Northern Nevada at the time, it was easy to change the cowboy to a rancher. But I was stymied until a picture popped into my mind of this rancher answering the door early one morning clad only in grungy sweat pants. There’s a young woman he’s never seen before on his doorstep holding a seven-month old baby in her arms. She asks, "What do you intend to do about your son?" He’s flabbergasted. Actually it’s more a secret twin story, because he is not the boy’s father. So I found enough to interest me and wrote "Nobody’s Baby." But I had to tweak it to Special Edition line standards. I managed to do that for seven more SE’s, all relating back to a character’s relative from Nobody’s Baby. All having to be tweaked. I don’t mean editing, which all writers need. I finally decided the money wasn’t worth it any more. Of course I don’t make anywhere near what I made at H/S from epubs, but I do enjoy the freedom And, yes, the editors I’ve had with epubs are every bit as good as those from NY. And I’m having fun!
C.H. Scarlett : What is your favorite subject or genre to write about and why?
I enjoy reading and writing paranormal. It can be fantasy, mystery, historical–you name it–but I tend to drop at least a touch of paranormal into it. Why is anyone’s guess. I figure reading Poe and H.P. Lovecraft and A. Merritt at an early age tainted me beyond repair with a love of what strangeness might be all around us.
C.H. Scarlett : What do you think is your greatest talent as a writer? What would a reader come to expect from your books?
Jane Toombs: I’m not sure, but I do try to write realistic paranormal, with my characters having normal human objectives and recognizable desires, flaws and strengths. I try to create tension and enough mystery so a reader will go on eagerly to find out what happens next. And, since I’m a fan of happy endings, my stories have them. Unless , of course, I’m writing horror, which I do on occasion.
C.H. Scarlett : When did you know you were meant to be a writer? How did you go about doing it?
Jane Toombs: I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was about seven, but I didn’t realize I HAD to write until I was married and had a a bunch of kids and had to lock myself in the bathroom and let the characters’ voices in my head talk out loud to each other. So I took writing courses when I could. My husband was far from supportive, informing me I was writing trash. I finally had to choose between him and writing.
C.H. Scarlett : We have in music and films, politics and life– many people who pave the way for others. I tend to think we also have those types of people in the writing business. Certainly a woman with 80 or more books can be classified as what I’d call a true Diva of her trade. What advice do you have for other writers?
Jane Toombs: As a midlist writer, I never considered myself a Diva, but I knew I could write stories that sold and most of my writing career I’ve done what I could to help aspiring writers on the their way to being published. How? By forming critique groups where ever I lived. One of these turned into the Hudson Valley RWA Chapter , which just celebrated their 25th anniversary. I also judged in RWA contests and in many Chapter contests. I found it thrilling to find a writer who I knew was going to sell, and I haven’t been wrong yet. I’ve always tried to encourage writers with promise to keep persisting. Yes, talent is necessary, but without persistence an aspiring writer may never reach their goal of being published. And legitimate electronic publishers are not "second class" by any means. All who’ve published my books have had excellent editors. Don’t ever feel a writer doesn’t need an editor. We all do.
C.H. Scarlett : If I woke up tomorrow, what would the world look like through the eyes and imagination of Jane Toombs? Now be honest…if Jane Toombs were Goddess for the day, what would Earth become?
Jane Toombs: For one thing everyone in the world would be sane and have a sense of humor. I imagine we all would like to wipe out sickness and poverty and crime, so would I . I’d try to figure out a painless, but effective way to limit the amount of offspring a couple could have to two, so they, in effect, would only be replacing themselves. (This from a mother of five, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren! ) I have to think a long time before I’d introduce any paranormal creatures, but I’d certainly be tempted. Not vampires, though, All in my books are villains.
C.H. Scarlett : Any upcoming projects you can let us know about? Things you are working on? Things you plan to work on?
Jane Toombs: I have a series of eight books in my paranormal suspense romance series: Dangerous Deception. Red Rose Publishing has already contracted for the first, Shadow On The Floor. The first three books begin with a short prologue where Special Op forces are fighting terrorists in a South American jungle. Because one of them has a sixth sense about danger, he saves all except their leader, who is shot up so badly they believe he’s dead. They all leave the spec ops and returned to the civilian life, where each of their stories begin. But the leader is not dead. They don’t discover why not until the fourth book, which is his. The other four books are about four more spec op guys in this same jungle who each encounter a strange happening that influences and endangers their return to civilian life.
C.H. Scarlett : Any new releases? Give us the awesome details!
Jane Toombs: Two new books come out in January. Null and Void is the first book in the new Shadowed Hearts gothic series at Red Rose Publishing. In my story, two ten-year-old girls disappear from the grounds of Null House. The survivor is found the next day so traumatized she has no memory of what happened or who she is. The name barrette in her hair identifies her as Ari. Since her mother is dead, her uncle and aunt take her to their home in another state, but she never recovers her memory. Twenty years later she’s invited back to Null House. She doesn’t want to go. Ari has never told a soul about the child’s voice that whispers to her sometimes at night, but this voice tells her she has to go–because it’s time… www.redrosepublishing.com
Also Nightingale Man will be out in January from Champagne Books–a WWI spy thriller with a touch of romance "Lucky" Luke Ray, from Denver, Co. before the USA gets into the war, joins the French Air Force to fight against the Boche. In no time at all he’s recruited by C, the British spy-master to head an English group being sent into German-occupied Belgium to recue Edith Cavell from the prison where the Germans are holding her until she’s tried and shot as a spy. Kezia, the English nurse he’s attracted to, is part of the group because of her knowledge of Belgium. All too soon the group is riven apart and Luke realizes he’s been double-crossed. But by who? And why? If he’s not careful he’ll join Nurse Cavell in the prison and be shot along with her. . . www.champagnebooks.com
C.H. Scarlett : Web sites, any links?
Jane Toombs: www.JaneToombs.com is my website
I also belong to a closed group of 12 published authors who promote each other’s books. We call ourselves Jewels Of the Quill and we each have a Dame name. Mine is Dame Turquoise. We have contests with giveaways all the time and also write award-winning anthologies published by Whiskey Creek Press. Check us out at: www.jewelsofthequill.com
Books We Love is another promo group I belong to where we each have our own page of current books with buy links, plus a blog.You can find me there at: www.bookswelove.net then scroll down the authors’ names to my page. This site runs awesome contests.
Jane Toombs Bio:
(Official by Jane Toombs)
Jane Toombs’ first book, Tule Witch, was published by Avon in 1973, and her agent sold another gothic to them before he died. She counted herself lucky to have another agent call her and ask if she wanted him to represent her. But luck had its dark side–much later she discovered this agent was holding royalty money way past the appropriate time, thus obtaining interest for himself on his royalty accounts from his authors. He sold a lot of books for her, but she finally let him go and found another agent from Curtis Brown, a woman this time. After he died, six thousand dollars was returned to her following the auditing of his accounts.
Jane wrote her first two books off the top of her head, but when she tried that with a third one, it didn’t‘t sell. To give the not-completely-honest agent credit, when he asked her to send him three chapters and a synopsis for a Zodiac gothic a packager was putting together, he weathered her “What’s a synopsis?” with courtesy and told her how to do one. After Jane mastered the art, she sent him the partial , which sold. This gave her an AHA! moment she really needed. She read over the third book, and in the process of trying to write a synopsis for it, recognized she’d wandered all over the place. She rewrote it and it sold, teaching her she needed to be a plotter, not a pantzer .
Jane was a Cadet Nurse during WWII and married a doctor. Five children later, she found time to write and her husband told her it was trash. Despite this, she persisted until he finally gave her an ultimatum–writing or him. The divorce left her with all the kids except the eldest, who was in med school, and having to work as an R.N. When she met a man in the writing class that led to her first sale, she was not contemplating marrying again. But she did, adding two stepchildren to the mix. Her second husband was a man who thrived on challenges, so when she sold that first gothic, he told her he could sell one, too. Using her agent, he did. Though they never actually wrote a book together before he died, both profited from discussing what they were writing and then getting it edited by the other.
After this, Jane heard from an old high school friend who’d read one of her books and wanted to know if he was the Swedish hero in the story. Since he could have been, as he was the only male Swede she’d ever known well, she admitted he might have been. When she learned he was divorced and he learned she was a widow, the inevitable happened –even though he was in Nevada and she in upstate New York. So that’s why she refers to him as “the Viking” from her past.
As for Jane’s conversion from New York publishers to electronic ones, it started when she read an ad in RWR, the magazine produced by the Romance Writers of America, where she’s a charter member. New Concepts Publishing ran this ad, looking for authors. She straddled both fields for awhile, but now is a total electronic convert, with books at New Concepts Publishing, Mundania, Whiskey Creek Press, Amber Quill Press, Champagne Books, Eternal Press, DiskUs, Red Rose Publishing, Wings ePress, Freya’s Bower, Crescent Moon Press, Double Dragon Publishing and Treble Heart Books.
C.H. Scarlett : I asked Jane for her other books & pen names:
Jane Toombs: All my other pseudonyms were forced on me by publishers.
What’s behind the name?
A Berkley editor named Carolyn Fireside decided my name was far too spooky for a romance author so, when she bought Destiny’s’ Bride she changed my name to Diana Stuart. Well, both Anne Stuart and the new Diana Stuart had the same agent. Which created some confusion, and the two authors became used to shipping each other’s books belonging to the other.
Then Jane wrote a book for Silhouette under that name, and before the book came out, Berkley sold Silhouette to Harlequin. So Jane arrived there as Diana Stuart.
As Diana Stuart:
Destiny’s Bride from Berkley
Cry For Paradise which was a Gallen book distributed by Pocket Books.
Out Of A Dream and The Moon Pool, Silhouette Special Editions
Prime Specimen, Leader Of The Pack and The Shadow Between, Silhouette Desires
But then Silhouette Shadows came along and they decided my real name was perfect for that line, so I was Jane Toombs from then on at H/S.
Kensington used my real name until the powers that be decided I needed to change it. At least they let me chose it , so I became Jane Anderson
As Jane Anderson: (All for Kensington)
Kensington asked for another name for Regency romances, I chose Olivia Sumner .
As Olivia Sumner:
A Trifling Affair
A Deceptive Bequest
A Beguiling Intrigue
A Most Unsuitable Bride
An Improper Alliance
The Wrong Girl
Lord Devlin’s Dilemma
A Mother’s Heart Anthology, my story “A Mischievous Matchmaker”
A Valentine’s Embrace Anthology, my story “Music Of The Heart”
Before these pseudonyms, I wrote for several packagers who used a house name for all their series, though the copyrights were in the real author’s names.
As Lee Davis Willoughby:
The Creoles from Dell
The Outlaws from Dell
As Rebecca Drury:
Blue Glory from Dell
Savage Beauty from Dell
I’d like to thank Jane Toombs for this fabulous interview. When I asked for certain information, I thought she might kill me lol. But that wasn’t the case. She sent whatever information I needed in a very timely and professional manner. So here’s wishing Jane tons of success and I hope other Authors and Readers see her as an inspiration like I do.