Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sneak preview of things to come. . .

Here's an exclusive sneak preview of the cover of my latest book, THE MERCENARY BRIDE. This is a straight (non-erotic) historical romance, set in 12th-century England. The ebook version releases at in mid-August. There will also be a print edition which will make a very big splash in a very big way come September. Details to come. . .
Stay tuned!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

It never ceases to amaze me how much of the job of a full-time freelance writer has nothing at all to do with writing. I'm a pretty business-savvy person in general, which has been key to my success as a freelance writer. I've known several formerly successful authors (including one guy who published more than 20 science-fiction novels in the 80s, only to see his deals dry up and his agent drop him when the market changed in the 90s) who saw their careers fall apart in the early 90s for no other reason than the fact they weren't interested in the "business" side of the writing and publishing business. They just wanted to hide in their attics and write, and never deal with agents, or editors, or marketing, or the general public. And that, my friends, was their downfall.

I probably spend more time on marketing, fanbase development, publicity, and contracts (in partnership with my agent) than I do on actual writing. Which frankly bothers even me. But I know that it's a necessity, especially in the early stages of my career as I build up my reader base. I maintain author websites, a heavily trafficked Facebook account (I have 1600 friends and counting), two blogs, a newsletter. I keep my author pages on Amazon updated, and I even write the people at Amazon to update the categories under which my books are listed to make sure they are reaching the most potential buyers. I have a Twitter account (1300 followers and counting). I go to conferences. I research potential markets, and try to keep up with what other authors in my genre (i.e., my competition) are writing, and how they are selling. I query magazines to take my freelance articles. I query editors of book-review publications and websites. I do online interviews. I do radio interviews. I go to writing groups. And on and on and on.

And when I'm not doing all of that (not to mention running my other side business, or raising my kid)---I'm writing. A lot. I just spent the past three weeks holed up in my writing suite for 8-12 hours a day, cranking out a historical romance novel on an impossibly tight deadline----which just made me fall behind on all my business-side stuff. The next couple weeks I'm taking a break from writing to catch up on all of that----and also to catch up on life a little bit. I haven't had much of a personal life this summer at all, and I'd like to have a chance to enjoy the nice weather a bit before yet another brutal Chicago winter sets in.

I'll never forget the time a former co-worker of mine (the aforementioned sci-fi author who published 20 novels in the 80s only to see his career fall apart) complaining that the publishing business "just wasn't about the writing anymore." He'd always hated the "business" side of the writing business, and the fact he never did anything---zip, zero-zilch, nada---to promote himself, to learn about the importance of favorable contracts and a good agent, or to grow his reader base was what ended his career. He blamed everyone for his career's demise but himself, and said that "real" writers just didn't make it anymore.

When he was finished with his bitter tirade, I smiled and nodded my head politely, but made a mental note not to make the same career mistakes he had. And so far, that decision has paid off in spades.

Back to work.

Friday, July 24, 2009


It's Five Star Friday at, and my critically acclaimed and bestselling novel VITAL SIGNS Vol. 1: I'VE BEEN A NAUGHTY NURSE is half-price (ebook AND audiobook) today only!

Here's what critics have had to say about this book:

"Layne sucks you in and doesn’t let go until the last page."

"Jamaica Layne keeps the reader enthralled and wanting to see where these two characters will get together next." ---Coffee Time Romance

"Vital Signs is erotic romance at its finest! Vital Signs is a five-star romance that sizzles in all the right places. Make no mistake about it, Ms. Layne is a true master of her craft." ---Crave More Romance

And don't forget VITAL SIGNS Vol. 2: SEX IS A SOUTHERN CITY. Coffee Time Romance says "This spicy hot book will have you panting for more."


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ten Things You Didn't Know About Me

10. I am my mother's youngest of two kids, but my father's second of five kids.

9. I taught myself to read by age 3. Nobody knows how I managed to do it, but I did. I read a book to my mother at 3 (that's how she found out).

8. My husband is Chinese, a native of Hong Kong.

7. I was in labor with my son for 28 hours, 27 of which was with no form of pain medication whatsoever.

6. I hung out in the Chicago theater scene for many years, and met many famous people. I once attended a party where David Schwimmer from "Friends" got horribly stinking drunk, then spilled his Remy Martin martini all over me. He didn't even apologize----just swore at me like it was my fault.

5. Many of my past boyfriends were foreigners (from countries like Germany, Austria, Japan, India). My husband was also a foreigner (he is now a US citizen).

4. I have visited more than 20 countries.

3. I used to speak fluent French, but I've forgotten most of it. I also studied Latin and German.

2. I first read erotica when I was 14 years old, and I stole it from my parents' bedroom.

1. I used to live three blocks away from Barack Obama. (In Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, when I was a grad student at the University of Chicago, where Obama taught law school at the time). I also voted for him the very first time he ran for public office (for state senator in the Hyde Park district, in 1996).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why being a successful writer is hard.

For all of you aspiring novelists out there, who would like nothing more than to write full-time and make a living at it, be careful what you wish for. You might get it.

To wit, I am currently writing a full-length historical romance on a flat-out CRAZY deadline. As in, one of my editors called me up a week or so ago and asked me to write a historical medieval romance (a straight "sweet" romance, not my usual porno-erotica type stuff). The money was there, the contract was there, and it was exactly the kind of book I've been wanting to do for a while. The only catch----she needed it completed in a very short time frame. Like less than a month.

I have to admit it----I balked. All of you aspiring writers out there would probably scream, WHY??? I had an editor begging ME to produce something that she really needed, which is a 180-degree turn from what most early-career writers usually deal with (i.e., a pile of manuscripts nobody wants to pay the price of a Chinese dinner for). Well, here's why. I already had multiple contracts with multiple deadlines to fulfil. I have a kid (a busy toddler who monopolizes most of my free time), and I run a household and a side business on top of being a full-time writer. I was already having trouble meeting some of those deadlines and had even asked for an extension. Even if you consider how prolific (and disciplined) I already am when it comes to my writing output, writing a full-length historical novel (complete with all the historical research that goes with it) in less than a month is INSANE. But the opportunity my editor presented me was just too good to pass up, so after a long conversation with the hubby, I decided I had to just bite the bullet and do it.

So far, I have written 25,000 words (roughly half of the novel's length) in a week. A WEEK. That's nuts, even for me. The only reason I've been able to do it is because the hubby has taken a week off of work so he can watch my son and manage the household in my stead, giving me free reign to write and do research for eight, ten, twelve hours a day if need be. It's hard. My back and neck are hurting, I've got migraine headaches from eyestrain, and my carpal-tunnel is acting up. Meanwhile, the household is falling apart without my usual supervision---the house is a pit, plus my hubby destroyed an entire bed of my precious phlox perennial flowers when I asked him to do some work in the garden for me. My son is eating a diet consisting of nothing but instant Ramen noodles and brownies, and my ironing basket overfloweth. My son's diaper rash from hell is back, too.

And yet despite all that, I'm having more fun writing this book than I have writing any book I've ever written before. I'm writing 3,000, 4,000, sometimes even 5,000 words in a single sitting, all the while excited about where the story and characters are going to go and do next. And who knows---maybe this will end up being the book deal to end all book deals, the one that enables me to hire a full-time nanny, gardener, and housekeeper so I can do nothing all day, every day but write, write write.

I recently met New York Times-bestselling author (and one of my favorite writers) Lora Leigh at a conference. We got to chatting, and she asked me about my books. I mentioned a few, compared myself to authors I thought she'd probably read so she'd have a better idea of what I write. Ms. Leigh just smiled and said, "Honey, don't even talk to me about reading. I haven't had time to read a book for pleasure in over three years. I'm at my computer twelve, thirteen, fourteen hours a day, writing. I never get a day off. Deadlines, ya know." This coming from a lady who usually has four or five books on the NYT list at a time and makes millions of dollars in royalties.

Ah, to be successful. It seems the more successful you are, the more you have to work your ass off. So much for authors supposedly living a life of leisure.