Journey to the very edge of honor, loyalty . . . and love
During China’s infamous Tang Dynasty, a time awash with luxury, yet littered with deadly intrigues and fallen royalty, betrayed Princess Ai Li flees before her wedding. Miles from home, with only her delicate butterfly swords for a defense, she enlists the reluctant protection of a blue-eyed warrior…
Battle-scarred, embittered Ryam has always held his own life at cheap value. Ai Li’s innocent trust in him and honorable, stubborn nature make him desperate to protect her – which means not seducing the first woman he has ever truly wanted….
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How did you start out your writing career?
I started writing seriously for publication while I was still teaching high school. In a conversation with a fellow teacher, I admitted that I had always wanted to write and I realized there was nothing keeping me from pursuing that dream. So I signed up for a romance writing class offered by the UCLA extension.
What did you learn while writing this book?
Oh my, what didn’t I learn? About the craft of writing, about myself as a person…Let’s just say the big lesson I learned is how to improve off of feedback. I learned how to listen and gather in a range of critiques and ultimately boil it down to what needed to be done to improve the story. A critique often highlights a symptom of the underlying malady. It’s not necessarily detailing the right cure.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
On a selfish level: I wanted to write the book of my dreams and see it on a bookshelf. My larger goal was to find a way to pull together all the many things that I loved and put it into a cohesive story that someone else could enjoy. I had grown up loving the honor culture of wuxia stories with its high drama and sentimentality and I felt very deeply that there was a place for it in mainstream fiction. More specifically, that the romance genre was the perfect place.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
It actually is. I thought it would be a lot of work and a lot of PAPER and very, very gratifying on a deep, emotional level. And it’s all those things.
Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or tv shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?
This is a tough question! Queen Elizabeth I, Morgan Le Fay, Scarlett O’ Hara, Empress Wu, Cleopatra. I’m fascinated by powerful women and I think this crew would make a heck of a girl’s night out.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
I wish I knew Mandarin. I wish I’d read about a thousand more books than I have. I also wish I’d known how to manage my time better.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do: Keep the love for the writing alive
Don’t: Ever think that your writing is good enough. Not because readers like it, because you’ve won contests, because you’ve sold …
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
There might be good books and bad books, but there are no easy books. A lot of work and craft goes into writing a book. We have to study and practice just like any other profession.
What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?
The best: Be nice to everyone (from Kate Pearce)
The worst: Write something that will actually sell. (Just because I’m not an accomplished enough writer yet to switch at will, not because it’s bad advice in general.)
What is something readers would be surprised you do?
They’d be surprised that I get extremely jittery about speaking in public or signing or pretty much anytime I have to appear in front of people.
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
I would so love to pilot a spaceship! Like blowing up a Deathstar would be really cool. Though there are book versions of the Star Wars trilogy, I haven’t read them so I guess that’s kind of cheating. I think I’d like to be like Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci code. Solve puzzles and travel all over the world finding hidden clues in historical artifacts. Spend lots of time in libraries and museums the rest of the time.
Our theme this month is Men In Fiction. What male writer are you reading?
I feel so awful! None right now. The one that’s closest on my TBR list is Robert Hans van Gulik, who wrote the Judge Dee series.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
I know for sure that life and all things in it are impermanent.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
Next book that is coming out is the sequel to Butterfly Swords. Here’s a snippet, not yet copyedited:
She wouldn’t cower before him. The rulers of the empire devoured the weak. Suyin waited until he came forward to pull the curtain aside with a sweep of his arm. The tiniest of concessions.
“Tell me, Governor.” She ran a fingertip across her own cheek. “How did you get that scar?”
His eyes narrowed. “A woman,” he said after a pause.
Her lips teased into a smile. “Fascinating.”
His hand tightened on the curtain, the material clenched between his fingers. At once his pupils darkened, his breathing grew deep. The signs were there and she could read them like lines of poetry. How else was a woman to protect herself in the world of men? Li Tao, for all of his supposed cunning, was just another man.
“You do not disappoint,” he said in a low voice.
He dropped into the familiar form of address. The spark in his eyes showed the first hint of any heat beneath the cold exterior.
For a dark moment, she was caught in the call of his gaze. They were close, nearly touching. She had provoked him on purpose, but regretted it as an alarming awareness unfurled itself within her, prickling just beneath her skin. The regiment of soldiers surrounding them faded. There was only one man here she had any fear of.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
They can contact me through my website: http://www.jeannielin.com/
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