Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Spotlight on HTH Member Michelle Jean Marie!

by | September 3, 2018 | 1 comment

Minerva Spencer: Welcome to the HTH Member Spotlight, Michelle!

Michelle has a book coming out September 12, 2018 and here a shot of the lovely cover:

MS: Before we start talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

Michelle Jean Marie: I’m a Midwest girl at heart, born and raised in Illinois and I’ve lived here all my life. My husband and I live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, but eventually want to retire somewhere warmer. All of our children have moved out and are on their own.

I run my own business as a professional organizer and virtual assistant. Coming from a family of six kids, I learned early on the necessity of being organized. If I needed a sweater or notebook, I knew just where to find it, and always put it away in the same place when I was done. It came as a shock to me that not everyone lived this way! Now I help others see the benefits of an organized life.

One thing I never had growing up was a dog. I didn’t own one until I met my husband. He bought me a 3-month old Akita to act as a guard dog for me and my daughter. That little ball of fluff was hardly a menace, but she captured my heart. I now volunteer for the Midwest Akita Rescue Society to give these dogs a chance and keep them out of puppy mills. My first Akita is long gone, but we adopted a foster two years ago to join our two other dogs. She taught me what it is to have fun again.

In my spare time, I love to read, walk, write and travel. Did someone say London? Needless to say, it’s the setting for all my historical romances. I write in the Victorian era, which is so broad and fascinating, I don’t think I will ever run out of material or ideas.

MS: Do you write full-time or part-time?

MJM: When I first started writing, I had the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom. And while that is a full-time job, I did find the time to write, especially after they started school. That’s when I completed most of my manuscripts. Now, over 20 years later, my writing is done around my client work. I’m trying to find a good balance of work/family/writing. Of those, the only one I’m willing to give up is work. Unfortunately, the bank account disagrees with me!

MS: What drew you to write in the historical romance genre?

MJM: I’ve always had a love for happy endings. I started reading romances in high school – secretly of course, since I went to a Catholic school with nuns. That’s when I picked up a copy of The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I used to hide it behind a text book in the school library so none of the teachers would know what I was reading. Barbara Cartland’s books were more readily available and ‘proper’ at the time. And much quicker reads. I enjoyed learning about history as much as following the romance. It was an escape – from those five siblings I mentioned earlier! So when I started to write, it was a natural for me.

MS: What’s your favorite historical movie?

MJM: That’s an easy one! The original Pride & Prejudice with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. To me, that movie so exemplified the book. I’ve probably watched it over 100 times! That’s one of the few VHS tapes I still own, even though I don’t even have a VHS player any more.

MS: If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?

MJM: Another easy one. Queen Victoria. Although Regencies, Medievals, Scottish Highlands, and American Westerns were popular settings when I started reading, and still are, I’ve always been drawn to the early-mid Victorian era. Perhaps that’s why my manuscripts were a harder sell back then. Now with the BBC miniseries being so popular, the Victorian era is also coming to light. Queen Victoria has always fascinated me as a monarch. Although she was royalty, she had a human side that warmed her to the public. She was always seeking advice and learning – often from her own mistakes. I can identify with that, even though I’m not ruling a kingdom.

MS: Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

MJM: You’ve probably guessed the answer to this, knowing I’m a professional organizer. I’m definitely a plotter. In my early days of writing when computers were just coming into homes, and libraries were for research, I spent many a day copying page after page of resources, and hand-writing notes. I always start with a tidbit of an idea, flesh it out into a synopsis, then break it down into chapters. I have a worksheet for every chapter that tracks the day, time, setting, characters, theme, hook, etc. I write in a linear pattern. I never jump ahead to a scene without writing the scenes that come before them. Although if something pops into my head, I will make a note of it on my outline.

MS: Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication? How much time do we have?

MJM: I started writing in high school, using popular television shows for settings and characters. I guess you could say I was writing fan fiction before the term even existed. I stopped writing while in college and my early years of marriage. But I never stopped reading. Then one day I attended a writing workshop at a local library. The speaker was from the local RWA® chapter. I quickly joined, and not-so-quickly started learning the craft. It took years to finish the first manuscript. That book, TEMPTING FATE, was a finalist in the 1997 Golden Heart Contest. And while it opened a few doors, it never got me a publishing contract.

Fast forward one marriage, two children and one divorce later, the writing went to the wayside. When I re-married and started my own business, my spare time dwindled. I stepped away from writing for a number of years, but never lost touch with the industry.

Eighteen years after writing my first manuscript, I submitted it for the umpteenth time on a whim. Well, that whim paid off. TEMPTING FATE was published by Soul Mate Publishing in May 2017, twenty years after the Golden Heart Contest.

MS: Wow! That’s one heck of a journey! Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you. I

MJM: ’m excited to share that TEMPTING PASSION, the sequel to TEMPTING FATE, will be available on September 12, 2018. It tells the story of Marcus Clayton, Earl of Norbourne. A tragedy strikes him years after TEMPTING FATE, and he renounces all passion. That is, until the heroine walks in! It was fun to write, especially since one of the secondary characters is a Springer Spaniel. And I’m currently working on the last of the trilogy, TEMPTING HONOR. I’m bringing back two characters from the original book in a new generation. So stay tuned!

Thanks for joining us today and sharing your story with our members! We’ll keep a look out for TEMPTING PASSION this September 12, 2018! All the best to you!

If you’d like to know more about Michelle you can find her at the social media addresses below:


Facebook: www.facebook.com/MichJeanMarie/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MichJeanMarie

1 Comment

  1. Jane

    Hi Michelle, it’s great to meet you and learn more about you!! I love reading history books about the Victorian era or books set during the Victorian era.



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