In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend two writers conferences. Both were thrilling, and especially intimidating for a wannabe author. Of course, most intimidating was meeting those authors I’d admired over the years. Some were kind, but a bit reserved. Only a few were downright dismissive and rude (you know who I’m talking about Amy Ruttan!).

But only one stood out because of her extreme kindness. Jenna Petersen. As I stood in a corner, with a few other nervous wannabe authors, Jenna swept in to put us at ease, talking to us like long lost friends. We were a bit stunned. Although we shouldn’t have been. Jenna has made a name for herself not only because of her wonderful books but because of her website, The Passionate Pen. A site dedicated to helping writers become authors.

Join me in welcoming Jenna to the blog!

Tell us your background in writing, how did you get started? Did you always want to be a writer?

I did always want to be a writer, but I didn’t really take that out of the “fantasy” realm until 1999. I had written a romance on a lark during college and that’s when I took it out and started revising it. I was hooked and soon after my husband and I decided that I would start doing that full-time in lieu of returning to graduate school. Five years later, my agent called to tell me I’d sold two books to Avon.

What do you write?

Historical romance as Jenna Petersen and erotic historical romance as Jess Michaels. Both in the Regency period.

How long were you writing before you sold?

I sold a novella for an erotic anthology in 2003 when I’d been writing for four years. A year later, I sold two books to Avon.

Tell us about your first sale, “the call” and the first book you sold?

Actually, when I sold to Avon the day before my husband had been river rafting and had gone a bit… missing. He was supposed to call at a certain time and he’s always really good about that, but he didn’t. After many hours, I called the company he was with and they wouldn’t tell me anything except that they had “river problems”. I immediately freaked out. When he finally did call me about 7 hours after he was supposed to (there had been an accident but everyone was okay), I cried with relief. He had to drive home overnight and I remember when he got back I hugged him and said, “That’s enough excitement for the rest of my life.”

About five hours later, my agent called with the offer from Avon.

Do you have a favorite book you’ve written, or a favorite hero/heroine?

I think my favorite book I’ve written is always the one I’m writing. It’s like kids, I can’t pick a favorite! I do feel a strong connection to Anastasia from DESIRE NEVER DIES (January 2007), as well as Jane from HER NOTORIOUS VISCOUNT (April 2009). As for heroes, I love them all, but Justin still makes me smile (LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN, July 2008) and Nicholas from HER NOTORIOUS VISCOUNT was so much fun to write.

What’s your writing schedule like?

I write five days a week, and I write ten pages a day. So I generally sit in the chair until I get those pages done. I often go over, but I try to not go under that 10 page goal.

Where do you get your ideas?

I don’t really know. Lots of things spark ideas, from my love of MMA (HER NOTORIOUS VISCOUNT) to a scene idea to a character. I’m very passionate about historical romance and so ideas just seem to come.

Do you plan out your books? Do you plot ahead of time?

I’m a very big plotter. I do extensive character sheets, synopses and what I call “scene sketches”, which are hand-written scene descriptions that are really pre-writing. I can’t really write until I have those things done.

Who are you favorite authors/favorite books?

Jacquie D’Alessandro, Teresa Medeiros, Kathryn Smith, Anne Mallory. I love all their work for different reasons. I have too many favorite books to list!

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Not writing? LOL No, I’m actually trying to get better about adding balance to my life. A girl can’t live by writing alone. My husband and I love to travel, we actually went to China last spring and are talking about Europe at the end of this year. I also enjoy video games and trashy television. My husband is training for a half-marathon, so while he runs I’ve been riding my bike alongside him (I don’t run) and that’s been fun. And we have two cats who demand to be a hobby. In fact, one is walking in front of my computer screen right now.

What advice can you give aspiring writers?

Most of my best advice is at my site for writers, The Passionate Pen.

Give us your first line (or a favorite line) from your current work in progress and/or a blurb?

I’m working on an erotic romance called NOTHING DENIED that will be out next February under my Jess Michaels name. It’s the last in my Albright Sisters series (EVERYTHING FORBIDDEN and SOMETHING RECKLESS are the other two books in the series). The first line is:

“Jensen, I swear to the heavens that if one of those parcels so much as touches the drive, I will have you out on the street without a reference before supper.”

Where can we find you on the web?

I’m all over the web:

Thanks to Jenna for stopping by! Jenna is graciously giving an autographed copy of LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN and an autographed copy of SOMETHING RECKLESS to one lucky winner! Leave a comment and your email addy for a chance to win. Check back Wednesday for the winner!