Silhouette Romance Author Exclusive Interview:

Shirley Jump Shines in Debut Novel, The Virgin’s Proposal

Book Author: Shirley Jump
Interview By: Emily K. Bivens

Shirley Jump delivers an exciting new romance that will leave readers laughing and begging for more in The Virgin’s Proposal. The first book in a series follows Katie Dole, a witty, charming woman who steals the heart of troubled Matt Webster. Jump’s first published romance novel promises to be the first in a long line of successful books. Read on for enzm.com’s interview with Shirley, where she tells all about The Virgin’s Proposal.

EB: Shirley, so nice to talk with you. Tell me a bit about yourself.

SJ: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English and have worked a variety of jobs in addition to being a writer for the last 23 years. I was a teacher for a few years (Latin, Math and English) and worked in a flower shop for one summer (like Katie in The Virgin’s Proposal) but mainly have been a writer. My hobbies are…writing (laughing). I don’t have time for much else.

EB: Many writers say writing as a career isn’t a choice, but an “Ah-ha” moment? Was writing one of those moments for you? How old were you when you knew this was what you’d be doing?

SJ: All my life, it’s been the only thing I ever wanted to do. Once I started reading, I wanted to write my own stories and actually penned a few awful ones when I was a kid. I started reading the newspaper and realized reporting would be a great way to be a writer, so I ventured into that first, selling my first article at age eleven.

EB: You also have a successful business, Kawa Communications, which offers a variety of Marketing and Public Relations services. How much of your time do you spend writing versus marketing?

SJ: Abut 50/50. It really depends on the time of year, but for the most part, marketing copy takes about 50% of my time.

EB: Do you find it difficult to transition from marketing to creative writing?

SJ: Not at all. To me, they’re all forms of creativity. I actually like having the variety in my day because if I get stuck or bored, I can move on to something else and come back to the other work later.

EB: You’ve had rave reviews about your book, How to Publish Your Articles: A Complete Guide to Making the Right Publication Say Yes. How long did it take you to complete the book? What sets it apart from dozens of other “How-to” books for writers?

SJ: That book took about 6 months to write, including revisions. I did it pretty quickly because the publisher had an aggressive publishing schedule. For me, this book included all the answers I’d sought when I started writing but couldn’t find in any book on the market. The real nuts and bolts of how this publishing thing works. It also includes information on working in the academic market, which no one else has information on in the competitor books. The book fits into my personal philosophy about writing – share the knowledge I have and that generosity will benefit other writers.

EB: You recently had the book, The Virgin’s Proposal published by Silhouette Romance. How long did it take you to tap into the romance genre?

SJ: Eight long years and ten manuscripts. I was a slow learner, I guess. Actually, it was very hard for me to go from non-fiction to fiction and it took me a long time to find my voice.

EB: Romance novels are notorious for steamy love scenes. The Virgin’s Proposal captures intimacy without describing the couple consummating the relationship. Did you receive any criticism from your agent or editors?

SJ: No, actually, the line that The Virgin’s Proposal is for (Silhouette Romance) is a sweet line, which means there is no consummation without a marriage. I did find it hard to spice up the book but pull back just when things got interesting. I found that kind of book really fits into my own personal philosophies about love, commitment and marriage.

EB: The Virgin’s Proposal is the first book in a series about the Dole family. Tell me about the future for the Dole family.

SJ: Katie’s brother Mark battles the girl next door for love and an RV in Close Quarters (working title), which is due out at the end of 2003-early 2004. Then Mark’s twin, Luke, connects with a fiery woman from his past in Luke’s Second Chance (working title), due out in 2004. After that, I have Nate’s story, which I haven’t begun yet. I have an idea what’s going to happen to him, but no specifics yet.

Oh, and Miss Marchand and Miss Tanner make an appearance in all the books! They’re all set in Mercy, so you get to meet more of those townspeople in each book.

EB: How difficult was it to have your first romance published? Did you receive any memorable rejections?

SJ: Loads of them. A few that said I shouldn’t give up my day job, essentially. I felt like I was climbing a mountain without any gear. However, as hard as that journey was, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It’s made me into the writer I am today.

EB: What was the most positive part of having The Virgin’s Proposal published?

SJ: Everything has been! It’s just amazing to see my name on a cover and realize my dream has finally come true.

EB: And the most negative?

SJ: The publicity is kind of weird. It’s neat at first but then it gets kind of embarrassing when people recognize me. I’m not used to that at all.

EB: What writers do you admire?

SJ: Suzanne Brockmann, Tina St. John, Jayne Ann Krentz, Suzanne Simmons, Jenny Crusie and Pat Gaffney. All have given me something, whether it was a moment of conversation or a memorable tidbit, that has propelled me forward along this journey. They are great, wonderful and giving women whom I strive to emulate.

EB: Many people credit a special person/people that have given them a needed boost/support to pursue writing? Do you have anyone special that inspires you?

SJ: I have a critique partner, Janet Dean, who has always been my personal cheerleader no matter how hard things have gotten. I’m also part of an e-mail group of friends who have been with me through thick and thin. They are truly incredible friends. And I have to say my husband, for encouraging me to try again when I wanted most to quit.

EB: In all of your experience, there must have been a time when you felt like giving up and settling for a stable income. How did you overcome those moments? Do you think those moments made you a stronger writer?

SJ: I did quit. I threw it all away and my husband encouraged me to put everything back. It’s not easy to persevere when you want to quit. I really believe in the power of self-motivation and keeping a lot of motivational quotes and sayings all over my desk.

EB: What advice would you give to those looking to break into the romance market?

SJ: Write and read. Honestly, it’s pretty simple. Read the kind of book you want to write extensively and write, write and rewrite. Then rewrite again. Read books on writing, listen to the experts and join Romance Writers of America (www.rwanational.com). And then check out who’s selling for the first time to see what editors are looking for.

Thank you Shirley, for a much enjoyed interview!

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