I’m pleased to welcome my IRWA chapter buddy, Melanie Jayne, today. Melanie tells me she doesn’t know what she wants to be when and if she ever grows up. She’s worked retail, recorded hearings in a Federal Courtroom, worked behind the scenes with security at a casino, and currently she is living her dream writing Romance.
She plots and plans from her farm in central Indiana that she shares with her husband and two mastiffs, Ginger and Duncan Keith. When she isn’t creating she can be found watching sports, searching for the perfect mascara and reading. She also loves questionable TV: Any Real Housewives, The Steve Wilkos Show, and Live PD. Plus she is addicted to the TMZ app on her phone.
NAN: So glad to have you, Melanie!
MELANIE: Hi Nan and Nan’s fans.
Thank you so much for inviting me to introduce myself to your readers. I’m Melanie Jayne and I write contemporary romance featuring characters over the age of 35. I published my first book in March 2015 and just finished my eleventh. I love to meet readers. I attend many conferences and signings. Please take a moment to introduce yourself and tell me what you are currently reading.
And by the way, Nan and I are country neighbors and I wave at her house every time I drive by.
NAN: Tell us what you are currently promoting?
MELANIE: On February 27, my fifth book in The Change Series, A Change of Plan will be released.
This book took me by surprise. Osi had about six lines in Best. I admit that they were good and they came at a dramatic time but he was a minor character. However, readers responded. I kept getting questions about when would he get his book? With a character as great as Osi and his love, Ramsay, it was easy to write.
NAN: What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?
In the beginning, I wanted to be a “cool girl” erotic romance author like the majority of my author friends. I tried but I couldn’t do it. So I read Jill Shalvis and The Queen, Kristen Ashley, and tried to emulate their style.
My characters are older. I think the correct classification is Seasoned Romance. Many of my ladies are size 16 and larger and unapologetic about it. They tend to have the attitude that they are bigger by current standards, but their clothes size is way down on their priority list.
My characters are diverse. I have written African-American characters, Latino characters, and this fall I will publish my first m/m that features an African-American and Latino males.
I write what I know, what I see, and what I want to read. My world is made up of different people and so are my books.
NAN: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
MELANIE: Today, is the day where you begin to make your dream come true.
I published my first book at 51. Sit your butt down, grab your laptop, and write. For me, learning to sit and write without thinking of a hundred things that I should be doing was difficult. Just do it.
And if you need encouragement, you can always contact me. I was a cheerleader in high school.
NAN: Is there a theme/message underlying your books that you hope comes across?
MELANIE: Yes. If you don’t keep moving forward, then you will be left behind. My books are very pro-women taking charge and making changes. If you don’t like it, then do something about it.
I’m a problem solver so it makes me crazy when someone complains and complains, yet does nothing different.
NAN: How do you keep sane as a writer?
MELANIE: Sanity is so overrated and I have learned that Romance writers can be high maintenance. My husband is very down to earth so he keeps me grounded. My Admanistrative assistant, David, listens to my complaints and fears and then rolls his eyes or tells me “enough.” I make it a practice to talk to non-writers, and I’m not counting the dogs, I mean humans. I try to leave the house although during the recent bitter cold snap I was home for 8 days straight.
NAN: What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?
MELANIE: I came into this business with my eyes wide open. I’d been around Romance writers for several years and asked questions. Plus, I’ve seen my share of bad behavior, shade throwing, snubs, whispers, the silent game of “who’s the top-ranked author at my table?” But I wasn’t prepared for the quiet jealousy that I’ve encountered.
Now keep in mind I’m not a huge seller. I’m not even mid-list so I was shocked that others, especially one “friend” who was on the same journey as me, were showing signs of jealousy—OF ME?? I’m plodding along minding my own business, when I started hearing some things from trusted people.
It hurt and was confusing but I didn’t engage. (Am I too old to quote a Taylor Swift song?) I remind myself that I can’t control how other people choose to behave so I ignore it. I try to focus on the positive and be positive. That doesn’t mean that I don’t know what’s happening, I’m very aware but my time is better spent doing other things.
NAN: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
MELANIE: Getting the alert when my first book was available for sale was exciting and fulfilling. However, I felt established like a real author last June. While at a reader event, three different women were reading my book, Best. They would find me and discuss a scene they had just read. I loved seeing their responses and connection to my characters. It was amazing and made me so joyful.
NAN: What is the hardest thing about writing a series?
MELANIE: Get out of my head! I’ve been having this conversation with the Manny since November.
Keeping track of names. **New authors make a book bible even if you don’t intend for your book to become a series.
Moving the series forward as you focus on each couple. It’s a circle within a circle.
Deciding how much to put in about the other characters. Plus writing a scene with six people is hard.
Figuring out when to stop. We’ve all loved a series that went on too long. I’ve done a trilogy and The Change Series has three more books and two novellas and that’s it.
NAN: What five words would you use to describe yourself?
MELANIE: -Leo- look up the characteristics and my photo is there.
Opinionated- Guilty, but I am willing to learn.
Selfish- I make every decision from the place of “me.”
Loyal— I don’t give it easily, but once you are on my list, I’ve got your back. I’m a ride or die kind of chick.
Entertaining—I can tell a joke, dance, gossip, and break it down if needed. You can find me in the middle of the fun.
Change of Plan
It was supposed to be casual. I never wanted a relationship but I keep coming back for more. When Osi Browne looks at me, I know that he is waiting for the right moment to demand my surrender so I take off.
Ramsay Kent is elusive and I enjoy the chase, but I’m tired of waiting. The woman has a life plan but mine is better for her, me and for us.
The lovers are resourceful, successful, and very stubborn. Who will give in first?
“Five, four, three, two, one, Happy New Year!” The party guests counted down in unison.
I already had one arm draped around Ramsay’s slender waist. She allowed me to roll her into my body so that we were touching from chest to pelvis as I kissed her long and hard. “Better than last year’s.” I grinned.
She pulled away from me and gave me a haughty look, raising one eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
I didn’t loosen my hold. God, she’d lost weight working so hard on, first, Tye and Billie’s wedding, then Cress and Brian’s, and finally this annual extravaganza. I could feel the knobby bones along her spine. “Last year, I had to track you down for my kiss. This year, you’re by my side.” Where you belong, I added silently. Ramsay Kent was an elusive woman. Although we’d been involved to some degree for over a year, we’d yet to make our relationship official. But I’m a patient man. One of the reasons I’m good at what I do. With Ramsay, I could settle in and wait a while longer.
“Well, I suppose kissing you is better than making out with some random guy.” She turned her head to look around at the other party guests, her green eyes narrowing as though to assess their kissability.
I gave her a hot glare. “Not going to work, Ramses.”
“What?” She drew her eyebrows together in confusion, as if she didn’t know what she was doing.
“You aren’t going to push me away or make me mad. Not tonight,” I said, resolution ringing in my words.
A hint of something like panic entered her gaze. “I’m working… I don’t know what time I’ll get out of here tonight, er, this morning.”
I shrugged, pretending I didn’t see her fear. “It’s not a problem. You know I like to watch you work.”
One side of her mouth hitched upward in consternation. I could almost see her plotting a way to make me go. Before she could blurt out something I didn’t want to hear, I bent toward her. “If I get bored, I’ll head back to my place and send a car to bring you home.” Of course, I wouldn’t get bored. I got off on watching her run the show. Ramsay in command was a thing of beauty. She could multi-task as well as any military strategist—make that better. Handling the rest of this party would be a breeze for her, just like breaking down and reassembling my rifle was second nature to me.
A faint line appeared between her eyebrows. “Are you sure?”
I placed a light kiss on her vibrant red lips, not caring if I now wore the same color. “Go make someone miserable.”
“Asshole.” She snorted as she fought a smile.
“Shouldn’t they be putting out the food?” I asked innocently.
“Shit,” she hissed and spun around on her three-inch heels. “I’m seriously considering cutting the gratuity Tye left for them.” She took off in the direction of the kitchen. Perhaps it was the way her long legs ate up the ground or the red tint to her hair, the guests moved out of her way.
I was admiring the sway of her ass encased in some kind of silky material that was as sleek as her naked body, when I heard my name being called.
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**All books in this series can be read as standalones!