Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Guest Blogger Linda Winstead Jones

Go buy this book. I'm serious. I read it through in one sitting--it was so good I couldn't put it down. Do not order online--you'll have to wait on shipping. Go to the store now and get this book. You won't regret it.

(I know we've gushed about Maven LJ's books before, but, good dog, the woman can write! If I can write a book half this good before I die, I'll be a happy, happy puppy.)

Linda is here this month to tell us her side of the Raintree backstory...

Lightning Strikes

You know how it is. Some stories come together slowly, with frequent and necessary modifications and pulling of the hair and ranting to friends, and others come together as if they’re a gift, falling into place with characters so immediately real you have no question about how they talk, think, feel. Though Linda, Beverly and I did have our infrequent hair pulling moments (See Linda’s blog about the sword – and yes, Kitty is in my current wip) this trilogy began as a gift. One minute we were talking about maybe one day doing a series together, and the next we had names, the beginnings of the overall plot, and traits like Raintree green eyes.

You know by now, I imagine, that this all started more than five years ago. I said it was a gift, not an express train. Not only did the story get complicated along the way, planning around three busy schedules – professional and personal – was NOT easy. But we persisted. In addition to the trips Linda mentioned in her blog last month (trips with much plotting and shopping), Raintree discussions took up part of every conference and retreat we attended, for a while.

I made one trip without Linda and Beverly. My husband and I went to Wilmington, North Carolina, where we walked the downtown streets and drove along the beach (where I picked out Gideon’s house) and – most important – I got a tour from a retired homicide detective. I’m always leery of giving the names of professionals who help me, mainly because while I do take and use little bits of information they pass along, I also sometimes take liberties, and I don’t want readers out there thinking it’s a true to life police procedural, and whoever told me one thing or another is SO wrong. No, I take and use the tidbits which suit me, and make up the rest. You never know what’s going to stick. He did point out a small place and said, “Best soul food in town.” Who knew that would make it? We drove past the police station, and down Wilmington streets, and most importantly he talked. About old cases, about crime statistics, about knowing someone’s guilty and not being able to prove it. (No, he does not talk to ghosts.) This was all incredibly helpful when it came to pulling Gideon together professionally, even though, as I said, I took many liberties.

I remember that somewhere along the way Linda and Beverly asked me about Hope’s magical talents. I told them she didn’t have any. Not sure why, but that’s just the way it is. She’s the lonely little petunia in an onion patch, the only “normal” person in a sea of paranormal. That’s her challenge, to accept that which is beyond her own experience. Not only to accept, but to jump right in and test the waters.

Writing the Raintree trilogy with Linda and Beverly was so much fun, even when we painted ourselves into the occasional corner. Like the moment when we realized all three stories would have to take place at the same time, or when Linda looked at me and said, “Hey, Gideon can’t fly!” (Okay, Linda never says “hey” and she does not speak in exclamation marks, but you get the idea. Call it poetic license.) Give a guy electrical powers and then try to give him a cell phone and a microwave. Make him play hell with all things electric, and then give his brother slot machines. What was I thinking? And yet, that’s who he was from the very beginning, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Detail, detail. I spent one long afternoon checking flight times and driving times (thank you Google Maps) so that the characters could all arrive at Sanctuary at the same time. I did tarot readings for all our characters, and they were oddly spot on. For most of my books I have a nice thin folder of notes. For Raintree I have a box.

Raintree: Haunted was a large part of my life for the past five years. I’m going to miss all the plotting and planning. I’m going to miss Gideon and Hope and Emma. Even though they aren’t my characters, I’m also going to miss Dante and Lorna, and Mercy and Judah.

Work isn’t supposed to be this much fun. When it happens take it as the gift it is, and enjoy.


Breaking news!! Haunted is #1 on the Waldenbooks list this week!

One lucky blog commentor will win an autographed copy of Haunted, so she, too, can develop a major crush on Gideon. You know how it works: comment to enter. Winner will be posted Thursday!

***Remember, tomorrow the Playfriends take over Romance: By the Blog in our second Blog Swap and Scavenger Hunt with Michelle Buonfiglio.


Bonz said...

I really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, and am expecting more of the same from this one! Congrats on being able to enjoy your "work" so much, that truly is a gift.

— Bonz

Angel said...

Welcome, Maven LJ! Squeee on the Walden's placement! We are so excited for you!!!!

I've had to borrow Instigator's copy of Haunted, because I haven't been able to track down one of my own.

LadyVampire said...

I'm still trying to get ahold of a copy of this book but it sounds great and I so enjoyed the post. There is nothing better then having fun while actually working on something your getting paid to do. It's so rare and such a great feeling.

KimW said...

Wow, congratulations on the #1 spot. It sounds like a great story. I enjoyed hearing about the background on the book. It makes me want to read more about Gideon!

Maven LJ said...

Thanks, Kim, for such a wonderful intro! :-)

Yes, at the moment Haunted is hard to find. If I can find out when more will be available, I'll post it here -- whether it's today or later in the week.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to comment. If you have any questions, fire away! I'll check in often during the day.


Maven Linda said...

Okay, I've been working since three a.m. YESTERDAY morning and it's now seven a.m. today, so that's 28 hours straight and my brain's a little fried, but when I read LJ's blog and she said that I said, "Hey! Gideon can't fly!" I had a moment of total disconnect and thought: "Flying was never one of the Raintree talents. I don't remember Gideon flying at all. When did he fly?"

Then I realized she meant IN A PLANE.

Oh well. My thoughts are much more entertaining when I'm brain dead.


CrystalG said...

Congratulations on the #1 spot. The book sounds great.

Instigator said...

Maven LJ, we're so excited to have you on the playground! Congratulations on #1 - it's an honor well deserved.

I absolutely loved Haunted! The fact that Gideon can do some amazing things with electricity just endeared him to me even more ;-D

I've loved both Inferno and Haunted and can't wait to read Sanctuary. This trilogy is amazing, Mavens.


Kathy said...


Congratulations on hitting # 1, LJ!! How exciting! I haven't found a copy of Haunted yet but I can't wait to read it. Isn't the cover fantastic? Gideon looks virile and powerful.

Once again, I'm struck by the whole process the 3 of you went through to bring these characters to life. And that you used Taro cards too. Amazing!

Enjoy the splendiforous applause!


Playground Monitor said...

It's been so interesting to read how these books came about -- how the Raintree mythos was developed, the characters defined, their talents determined. I was lucky enough to get a copy of Haunted when they first hit the shelf (actually I think BAM shelved them early at one store cause that was the only place I saw it for a while) and I too devoured it in one sitting. I'm not surprised it's sitting there at the #1 spot. Awesome book!

I love how you described Hope as the lonely little petunia in an onion patch. Even when she found out about Gideon's talents, she still thought she had problems. Life was sucky; putting her with Gideon made it suckier -- at least until love made it all better.


Maven LJ said...

Thanks for all the good wishes and congrats. It's great to see the book do well, and all the more fun to have friends to celebrate with.


Smarty Pants said...

This has been the hardest book to find - I'm sure it will be worth it in the end, but I've very nearly made a scene in all three Huntsville BAM stores. I gave up and ordered it online. Haunted and Sanctuary will both be going to Scotland with me (yes, PC, Good Omens too, remember I have a 7 hour layover in Philadelphia). Plenty of time to read.

Congrats on hitting #1!

The conversations you all have - Kitty the sword, whether or not Gideon can fly...y'all crack me up.

What's next for you LJ?

Maven LJ said...

What's next for you LJ?

I just finished the first book in a new Columbyana set trilogy for Berkley. Working title is "Untouchable." I'm also doing another in the Last Chance Heroes series for Silhouette Romantic Suspense -- that's what's on my plate at the moment. This is Dante's story. Working title is The Favor. I wrote my first actual short story last year, and it'll be out sometime next year. Working title for that one is Hotter Than Hell. It will also contain stories by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Kim Harrison.

So, I'm staying busy, which is nice. On a personal note, I'm getting ready to go to Disneyworld with the family, which I'm looking forward to -- even though I know the grandkids will wear me out. :-)


catslady said...

Big congrats on hitting #1 - how exciting. I too think it sounds wonderful and I've enjoyed hearing about how it came to be.

Pam said...

After reading your post, Linda, I want to read this series all the more.

Interesting how you used the Tarot cards. If things hadn't been so spot on, would you have considered making any changes as a result of the readings?

Anonymous said...

wonderful on being number one!

i can not wait to read this one!

sorry forgot my blog name.

linda bass

Karen T. said...

Looks like a very interesting book!

Maven LJ said...

If things hadn't been so spot on, would you have considered making any changes as a result of the readings?

I'm not sure. We probably would've discussed the whys and hows of the discrepancies for a while, and then perhaps come to a conclusion about possible changes for the character. Or else we would've decided that it was a bad day for the cards to speak to me. :-)


Carol said...

Congrats on the #1 spot! Haunted sounds very good. I'm looking forward to reading it.

tetewa said...

congrats on the #1, I would like a major crush on Gideon.

Pam said...

Or else we would've decided that it was a bad day for the cards to speak to me. :

LOL. I've always been interested in the tarot, how cool that you used it for insights into the characters.

Sue A. said...

Congrats on being #1!
Haunted sound like a book I need to check out.

flip said...

This book is excellent. I loved it...but Linda, when I read this book, I kept thinking Linda Howard, not Linda Winstead Jones. Did you intentionally try to write more like Howard?

Btw, I love your most recent trilogy.

Cherie J said...

I loved the first book from this series and I am looking forward to reading Haunted next. Congrats on the #1 spot.

Maven LJ said...

This book is excellent. I loved it...but Linda, when I read this book, I kept thinking Linda Howard, not Linda Winstead Jones. Did you intentionally try to write more like Howard?

Hi Flip,

I never purposely try to write like anyone else. It would be disaster. :-) Each book has its own style, I suppose.

Glad you enjoyed it, and the trilogy!


jackietoo said...

Okay. So after reading this blog I had to click right over to eharlequin and order the whole trilogy. I know we were told to go to the bookstore but the nearest decent one is about 70 miles away (can you say, "Podunk"? :D). Anywhoooo...thanks for the heads-up!

P.S. I found your blog through romance: by the blog. In case you wanted to know.

Maureen said...

Congratulations on the new book. It looks wonderful.