Saturday, February 28, 2015

A little visit with JL Mitchell

Today, I’m here with JL Mitchell, author of Diamonds Aren’t Forever, the first book in the Diamond series, and the second book in the series, Diamonds and Deceit. I've started reading the first book, haven't finished it yet, and she's already got another one! She works fast.

Pick up a copy on Amazon

So, JL, we met at the Indie Romance Convention last year. As I recall, we shared at table at the signing. You were a great table mate! So what have you been up to since then?

Deanndra, first let me thank you for having me on your blog. It was a joy to make new friends at IRC and your insight into helping me at my first convention was valuable. And, you too, were a great table mate.

Busy. I know that most writers tell you the same thing, but not only has my writing increased, so has my freelance editing business. I’ve begun working with a few companies so I am busier now than ever. I love every minute of it.

Sounds like you’ve been very busy! Tell us, what kind of books are Diamonds Aren’t Forever and Diamonds and Deceit? Are they for Sunday School teachers or the bad girls down at the bar?

Deanndra you know me too well. I write erotic romances with suspense added in. Some Sunday school teachers might enjoy them, though. I try to balance the erotic scenes to be a necessary part of the romance.

The Diamond Series is about four women, who as teens, hooked up with a small time criminal, Enrique aka Diamond Malloy, and took it big. You know us women don’t do anything by halves. After thirteen years, they’re out of the business, having walked away free and clear, living ordinary lives.

However . . .

In Diamonds Aren’t Forever, two brothers bring the past right to Peyton Gilbrad’s doorstep. Her ex-husband has a gambling problem. He owes the casino a lot of money, and Sebastian and Thierry plan to collect the debt and, from her ex’s babbling that she has millions hidden away in diamonds; they plan to take a few of them for themselves.

Diamonds Aren’t Forever is a ménage with a little BDSM thrown in. The suspense comes when Peyton’s ex calls and he’s been badly beaten telling her she’s being targeted for the diamonds. But, it’s not Sebastian and Thierry because they’re in bed with Peyton. (Oh my).

While the suspense is part of the series, which I will explain for book two, the romance is stand alone.

In Diamonds And Deceit, Shelbie Gilbrad, the foster sisters took the same last name years ago, takes a much needed vacation after Peyton’s wedding. Actually she’s running away from some disturbing visions of an unknown man. (Shelbie’s been plagued with visions since childhood).

In Savannah, she accidentally meets up with the man she’s been having lunch dates with for the last few months. A man she feels safe with. However, by the time Dagan’s arrived in Savannah, he not only knows her identity, he targets her for revenge for stealing his late wife’s diamond necklace.

Diamonds And Deceit is an erotic romance with some hot scenes. But, the book’s main premise is the suspense. Diamonds and Deceit brings back Peyton and her men. It also has Diamond and his wife Amalia in it (they’re seen in the first chapter in book one), and more importantly, Arabella, Amalia’s twin, and Ian; the main characters for book three have a slightly larger part.

I hate to say more since it would be too much of a spoiler alert.

I don’t think I’ll recommend them to my mom’s church friends, but most of the people I know would love them! So where did you get the ideas for the plots of your books? And are the characters patterned after anyone you know?

I totally agree, Deanndra. I got the idea from part of a story written two years ago. It was a ghost story. I grew up with reading ghost stories, and suspense is my favorite genre, so I wanted to try my hand at it. It worked for about forty pages. I took this story out of my files, dusted it off, changed a few things and on its own, it became a series.

The main female character was a thief. She was in the process of stealing when the dead wife appeared. Shelbie was the main female character and Sebastian the main male character. The setting was in Savannah and food and restaurants were involved. So you see how the stories have evolved.
However what fueled my imagination for these books was I had finished another Cinderella story; impoverished girl meets billionaire. It was free and I like keeping up with new novelists. It made me angry that the female character felt like she was lacking in every aspect of her life, i.e. not good enough because of her economic status, something was wrong with her because her last boyfriend told her she was frigid, and because of her all around physical appearance.

Of course, you’ll see that in my books, but I put my main characters on equal terms with one another in some ways. They don’t need a man’s money.  They’re very competent in their professional lives. They’re nice looking women, some quite beautiful, and in their own minds, they’re doing quite well without love.

I didn’t pattern the characters off of any one particular person or fictional character. However, as Shelbie, Diamonds And Deceit, evolved I began thinking of Scarlett O’Hara. Shelbie is a lot like her. She enjoys men, she loved the thrill of the game when they were thieves, yet she’s very cautious not to get too involved with any one man.

You’re an author; do you have any favorite authors of your own? Maybe from Tennessee? Maybe close to the beach instead?

I have several authors I enjoy all for different reasons.

I’ll begin with Lee Child. His characterization of Jack Reacher is one of the most notable. His writing style is fine, but Jack Reacher is larger than life. And I love that.

John Grisham is one of the best story tellers I’ve ever read.

Dean Koontz’s imagination thrills me.

Pat Conroy (he’s from Charleston, SC and has a home on Fripp Island. My dad’s from SC so it feels somewhat like home). His stories are gripping.

You see a pattern. I like male writers. But I won’t count women out. I read romances from Kathleen Woodiwiss as a young girl.

Because of Amazon and so many free books available, I enjoy stories from a variety of authors I’d probably never have read. Your books come to mind and many of the Indie authors out there like ourselves.   

And if you can't find something free that you like, you can always subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and have loads of books to choose from. Okay, now, think back. That won’t be as hard for you to do as it would be for me, but can you name the first book you ever remember reading? And was there a book somewhere along the line that really made an impression on you? If so, what was it?

I can’t remember the first book, but it was a romance and the author was by Victoria Holt. My parents both read romances. Laurie McBain and again, Kathleen Woodiwiss were most prevalent in our house.

The book that has influenced me the most was Gone With The Wind. I love the movie version, but in my twenties, I took that novel off my parents’ bookshelf and read it. It was so poignant about life; its hardships, heartaches, but also its triumphs and deep seated love. It was a book that had the characters taking a good look inside themselves and overcoming not only outward obstacles but inward struggles.

Gone with the Wind was my mother-in-law's favorite story. She watched the movie every Thanksgiving after they got a VCR, and was still doing that the Thanksgiving before she died. It's a wonderful Southern tale. So tell us, what kind of writing space do you have? And is there anything you do for yourself while you’re writing to get into the mood? A certain kind of music? Some kind of food? A pillow and a blanky?

I have a Stressless chair with a table for my laptop. I sit all day long, whether I’m writing, editing, or grading college essays. So, I need something that keeps my shoulders and neck comfortable. It’s facing a wall of windows so I can look out on the world. I don’t like to feel cooped in when writing.

I’m surrounded by a Kindle and Surface, and magazines or other books of interest for research. For instance, with Diamonds and Deceit, I kept a book on Savannah’s historic districts close by. I like to visualize. And when I wrote the scene where Dagan and Shelbie are driving through Atlanta, I used Google maps, street view. I saw everything around them.

I also have notebooks, pens, and pads around me. I may be working on one book and get an idea that goes into another story. I jot that down.

In the mornings, while making coffee, eating breakfast, etc., I flesh out in my head what I plan to write that day. Sometimes the characters cooperate and other times not. I roam around the house if the weather is warm I take a walk outside and talk to my characters.

But it doesn’t always go smoothly. When I’m really stuck, I clean especially the kitchen. I can get in there, get the dishes out of the way, wipe down the cabinets and sometimes plan a meal and the ideas pour out.

I make sure I have a piece of dark chocolate every afternoon. It’s not just for energy, but a decadent treat to reward myself and keep going.

Depending on the story I’m writing, I will either listen to alternative classical music like Lindsey Sterling and movie scores from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings or Rock and Roll, ranging from classic rock, Bob Seger and Foreigner to Within Temptation and Linkin Park.

I like the idea of that wall of windows. I'll have to talk to Sir about that. I’m assuming you have a goal with your writing – most of us do. What’s your particular goal?

This is particularly difficult to answer. I’m not out to write the Great American Novel like classical writers or even early nineteenth century writers like Poe and Faulkner and Hawthorne. Though, I like their works, their Gothic style. And I’m not writing because I want to sell hundreds of millions of copies, though I won’t balk if that happens. (Please buy my books. Lots and lots of them). LOL J

My one intent, since I was eleven was to be a writer. I wanted to make up people; put them in situations, build their lives, give them struggles, but always triumph in one way or another in such a way that would make the reader connect with them on every level. That the readers actually were living out the character’s dreams and heartaches.

What is my ultimate goal? Not positive. I have a couple of directions, but they do include stronger female characters. I’m going to include more family into the mix. Some romances don’t call for that, but I have such a strong family life, I want to show that to my readers. And no matter which direction, I want a more positive angle. For instance, Arabella and Ian in Diamond Series book three will have some pretty rough things to get over, but throughout the book, I’m going to push hope and positive aspects that will ultimately push back the negative in their lives.

Do you have any appearances planned this year? Gosh, I have like 15 to do, and I wouldn’t advise ANYONE do that (yeah, what the heck was I thinking?). If you’re going to be a few places, where and when?

Girl you’re going to wear yourself out. (Don't I know it!)

I plan to attend A Day with the Author’s Luncheon in April, in Nashville, TN.

I am thinking of returning to IRC, which is now in Lebanon, TN again in October.

But, I have a goal of three stories to finish, so my focus is on writing and publishing more this year.

That’s great! Keep writing and we’ll be looking for you. Before you leave, if you had just one wish, for anything in the world, what would it be?

For my mother to be alive, well, and cancer free. But she’s not hurting any longer, so that is quite selfish. But that would be it. She was my best friend.

Cancer is a sadistic mistress. As a cervical cancer survivor and having watched a family enmber suffer with it, I know exactly where you're coming from.Thanks so much for being here today, JL. I hope 2015 is happy, fun, and prosperous for you. Look for JL’s book on Amazon at (I’ll put the link in here). And be sure to visit her blog every Sunday and Wednesday at her Blogspot blog and Mondays at her Wordpress blog. Thanks again!

Diamonds and Deceit

Necessity made Shelbie Gilbrad a prostitute and thief, the thrill kept her in the business. But now she’s in trouble and doesn’t see it coming, which is odd because Shelbie’s been plagued by visions her entire life.

As a self-made billionaire bent on revenge, Dagan Hunter Caulfield has resigned himself of never recovering the rare green, teardrop diamond necklace. He’s moved on. His plan to surprise the woman he’s falling for, gets him the shock of his life. 

Shelbie and Dagan’s worlds collide and neither will ever be the same. Yet outside forces pit them against one another, putting their lives in danger. Can he forgive her past? Can she save the man she loves?


J. L. is a landlocked beach bum, living on a farm in a small, rural town near her hometown, Nashville, Tennessee. She loves taking road trips just as long as that road takes her to the beach.

By the age of eleven, she knew she wanted to be a writer. As a lefty, her mind is like a mirror, writing from right to left, transposing words, and turning letters backwards. She’s been told it’s some form of dyslexia, but she knows it’s just another aspect of who she is.

She’s a voracious reader with murder, mystery, and suspense as her favorites. She also enjoys Victorian literature, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. J.L. prefers noir films like Thin Man series, Maltese Falcon, andCasablanca; and her all-time favorite; Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 version of Rebecca.

J. L. can be found most days writing and editing. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her family.

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