Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Friend, Jenna Jaxon

Today's Friday Friend is Jenna Jaxon!

From Stage to Page

I’ve thought about my process before, of how I write, and have come to the conclusion that it’s very much like directing a play for me.  I’d been a theatre director for many years before I began writing professionally and one might not think the two had a lot in common, but I’ve found quite a lot of overlap that’s helped me in various ways.

If we begin my process with the spark of an idea, my ideas for books come from just about everywhere.  A chance phrase overheard, a place in a novel that has an unanswered question or sparks a question in my mind, song lyrics.  Song Lyrics have been the bane of my existence--it’s why I have such a long list of book outlines on my computer.  I hear a song and the idea for another book just pops into my head. 

In directing this would be play selection.  The ideas aren’t mine, but I get to choose what play I want to work with.

I’ll admit I’m a plotter.  I’ve got to have an outline before I start, a road map that takes me where I need to go, before I can write a word.  Once that’s complete, as I start a chapter, I’ll re-write the chapter in more detail so I know exactly what the characters are supposed to do.  When completed, I’ll have my rough draft.

In directing I always block my shows in my earliest rehearsals.  Blocking is moving the people around on the stage, giving the characters motivation for movement, finding out how the characters work together.  When completed, this is my bare bones, my rough draft.

Next draft, I layer on characterization, fully fleshing out the characters, giving them motivation, delving into their back stories, finding out why they act the way they do.  This step is almost identical in directing.  As I work a play, I talk to the actors about these same things.  And both characters and actors give me feedback and help me define who they are.

Finally, in directing, I begin to run through the show and the set and costume designers bring in the sets and props and costumes for the actors to use. Creating the world of the play.  In my third draft of a novel, I add in description, fleshing out the spectacle of the novel with details of rooms, parks, outfits, giving the book a richness and making the reader understand the world in which my characters live.

At this point, in both production and novel, I polish--fixing little things here and there--until either opening night or book release day.

I’m not sure how other authors write--everyone has their own process--but I think my years of experience in the theatre has shaped my writing process and helped me to become the best writer I can be.

TAG: He has the woman of his dreams, but what price will he have to pay to win her heart?

Kidnapped and sold at auction in a London brothel, Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam squelches an undeniable attraction to the masked stranger who purchased her, pits her wits against him, and escapes him and the scandal that would ruin her life.

Unable to resist temptation in a London brothel, Duncan Ferrers, Marquess of Dalbury, purchases a fiery beauty. She claims she's a lady, but how can she be? No lady of his acquaintance in polite society is anything like her. Then he discovers she is who she says, and that this latest romp has compromised her reputation. He knows how that is. One more scandal and he'll be cast out of London society, but he needs a wife who'll provide an heir to carry on his illustrious family's name. He seeks out Katarina, intending only to scotch the scandal, but instead finds his heart ensnared. He's betting their future he'll capture her heart, but does he have what it
takes to win the wager?

WARNING: A blade-wielding heroine who crosses swords with a master of sensuality.

Excerpt for Only Scandal Will Do:
“Lady Katarina,” the marquess said, taking her limp, cold hand. “I have been looking forward to this moment ever since I heard you were in London.”
That voice sent shivers down her spine. She remembered well the arrogance in it when he’d declared himself her master. Soft and silky now, his mouth poised over her hand, and the words sent searing heat that penetrated her long kidskin gloves. Only sheer determination kept her from snatching it out of his grasp, and fear at what might be said if she acted in any way as though she had met this man before. No one must know.
She made herself look at his face, into the dark brown eyes that gleamed with…apprehension? Amusement? Katarina twitched her mouth into what hopefully passed for a smile and said, “I am delighted to make your acquaintance as well, Lord Dalbury. Although I must confess that until just now I had not heard your name.” Although pleased to hear how strong her voice sounded, she feared she might choke on the lies she spouted. Kat slipped her hand from his and a measure of calm returned.
Jack was deep in his conversation with Lord Braeton, completely unconcerned about her. She tried to refrain from looking at the marquess, but he demanded her attention by addressing her again.
“I almost missed the pleasure of making your acquaintance, Lady Katarina. I left the ball just before midnight, but one of my carriage horses came up lame and I returned to ask Braeton for the loan of a replacement. Lady Luck surely smiled on me tonight.” His wide smile seemed genuine, his voice tinged with a hint of relief.
She sighed. Her last night in England and Lady Luck had to favor this fellow.
He continued on, disregarding her silence. “I understand from Lord Braeton that you and your brother only arrived from the colonies three months ago, Lady Katarina.”
She found it hard to keep her tone civil. “Yes, my lord. We came to England in early February.” As she had told him before! It helped not to look at his eyes. Instead she fastened her gaze on his cheek. He would likely carry those scars the rest of his life. She hoped it hurt his vanity every time he looked in the mirror.
He apparently saw where her gaze lay, for he ran his finger down the center mark. “Ah, I see you are curious about my wounds.” He shifted his weight slightly, drawing her a little away from the others.
“Is it a war wound, my lord?” she asked, feeling the return of her confidence.
“It is a badge of honor I wear, given to me by a worthy opponent who I underestimated in many ways. I now regret the chance encounter, Lady Katarina.” He lowered his voice. “She did not deserve the treatment she had at my hands. I make my most sincere apology for doubting her words to me.”
Kat stiffened at this offering. How could he stand there and try to apologize so cavalierly in a crowded ballroom? “Whoever she is, then, Lord Dalbury,” she said sweetly, “I hope your opponent is more forgiving than I would be.”

Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance.  Her historical romance, Only Scandal Will Do, the first in a series of five interconnecting novels, was released in July 2012. Her contemporary works include Hog Wild, Almost Perfect, and 7 Days of Seduction.  She is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as a member of Chesapeake Romance Writers. Her medieval romance, Time Enough to Love, is being published this year as a series of three novellas.  The first book, Betrothal, released on April 19th.

Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage. 
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.


  1. Welcome, Jenna! I love the connections you've made between the stage and the page.

  2. Reading, Jenna's stories is also like an addiction to chocolate. It's as rich and smooth and the finest chocolatiers.


  3. Jenna, I enjoyed reading about your writing process. The cover is eye catching, and the excerpt promises a real page turner.

  4. Great post. I love learning how other writers create. I couldn't do an outline, but I do like how you 'set your stage' and 'costume design'.

  5. I have never been one to read many historicals but you have my interest piqued. The excerpt you've shared is beautifully written. You can see how the theater/stage has helped you as a writer. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I can a connection between director and writer - makes sense.

    Great post and love the excerpt.

  7. Ana - Thank you so much for having me on your blog today! I loved your suggestion for the post. It was so much fun to write!

    Kary--Now you've made me crave chocolate again today! Oh well, some addictions are simply meant to be fed. LOL Thanks so much for coming by! :)

    Renee--Thank you so much! I too love that cover and I'm so glad you liked the excerpt. :)

    Andrea--I always marvel at those writers who don't need an outline or detailed notes. If I didn't use those I've be God knows where in some plot hole on Tralfamadore! Thanks for coming by!

    Jody--Thank you so very much! I'm so excited to have piqued your interest! I hope you will make my historical a pleasant deviation from your usual fare. I appreciate your stopping in!

    Daryl--If you think about the relationship of a writer to characters and of a director to characters I think it becomes clear how the two could be connected. Thanks fo much for stopping in--and the tweet!

  8. Jenna, I love the love the comparison you've made between writing and directing. I've directed a lot of musical shows, so I can relate to everything you say. Interestingly, I only used to block the crowd scenes in advance. With fewer characters, I waited until rehearsals, and then relied on my instincts for the movements of the characters - which is very similar to way in which I write! Thanks for such a thought provoking post.
    Also best of luck with Only Scandal Will Do. I remember reading some early extracts of this on Six Sentence Sunday :-)

  9. Hi, Paula! Yes, I posted quite a lot of the early drafts on SSS. I'm so pleased you remember it. :) Pleased also to find another theatre person--especially a director--who now writes romance. There's actually quite a lot of us! Perhaps because of the close connection between the two it's easy to slide into the writing. So good to "see" you again!

  10. What a great correlation between your writing process and the theatre! Well done!

    And of course you know how much I love your books!

    My process tends to be more like an opera - screaming, hair pulling, twists, turns and murder. LOL

  11. I was a street theater director for about 10 years (while I was also a technical writer). I think street theater has a lot of things in common with the proscenium stage, and a lot of things that are different. I loved learning about how you tie your directing experience to your writing. There are many common elements. You approach them in a linear fashion, like I do. Great article. Great book. Great writer! :)

  12. Hi Jenna, thanks for visiting us today. I love the comparison to play directing--it makes a lot of sense! Good luck with the book.

  13. Hi, Louisa! Man, now I really want to read your books! LOL That certainly does sound like opera on a grand scale. Bravo!

    Thank you, Trish! So many women in theatre seem to end up writing romance. Drama and love seem to be inseparable. I'd love to hear about your exploits with a street theatre team sometime. Those can be fantastic fun and totally hairy experiences! Thank you so much for your kind words. :)

    Thanks, Jennifer! I loved being on Heroines with Hearts! It's been a great day. :)

  14. What a great explanation. I'm more of a pantser. I hear that song and sit down with the idea and it takes things on its way!!

  15. I really admire the pantsers. I could never in my life sit down and just...write! I have to have my road map to keep me from getting lost. My hat's off to you, Melissa. Thanks so much for coming by today!

  16. Wow, what a story! I am adding it to my list to read. I always do love a good scandal and a romance series. Good luck on the new release!

  17. Thank you, Denise! I hope you enjoy all the scandal surrounding this book. :) So glad you came to visit me today!

  18. As a former actress, I become all my characters, and discover their motivations and darkest secrets unknown to the reader, then share only the most interesting to my readers.

  19. That sounds like a great skill, Liza.