Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Meet HHRW Member Tammy Jo Burns!

Dear Fellow HHRW Members:

I wish I could say that I live some jet-setting life, but alas, I do not. I grew up in the Panhandle of Texas. My formative years were spent helping my parents (my dad was a farmer and custom harvester). This means I have driven a combine and a tractor and done a multitude of other tasks related to farm life. I might even could say that spending the summers in the fields is what helped fuel my imagination. I remember spending hours reading, playing games, and making up stories me and my sister would then act out. Making up stories and acting them out continued much through my childhood years and then when I hit my preteens and began to think I was too old for such things, I turned to books. Sadly, the Young Adult genre when I was growing up was no comparison to todays books. Desperate to get me and my younger sister to read, my mom introduced us to the world of Diana Palmer, Janet Dailey, Anne Mather, and others. I was hooked!

Upon entering high school I cultivated my love of reading and history by delving into the world of historical romances. Oh my goodnessthe worlds I would explore(and share with my friends on long band trips). 🙂 It was in college when I really had that Ahamoment about writing. I had seen my mom write for years but never really thought that was something I would be doing. Then I was sitting in a history class and my professor mentioned some obscure piece of historical trivia that intrigued me and I began to wonder What if Im not certain I heard anything else my professor said that day. I flipped to the back of my notebook and quickly jotted down some things so I wouldnt forget my ideas (he was probably beaming down at me thinking I was such a diligent student *snicker*), and then rushed back to my dorm room to call Mom and tell her my wonderful idea. Of course she cheered me all the way, as any doting parent would.

I wrote my first book between classes and tests in about six months. It was crazy! If youve ever seen the episode of The Golden Girls when Blanche writes the book and sees little balls of sunshineyou know what I mean. If not, look up the video clip on YouTube and youll be laughing and crying both because weve all been there. I then wrote book two in an even shorter amount of time (both by long hand) and then promptly put them away as I was in the midst of my first year of teaching high school. Fast forward a major move, a Masters degree in Library Science (every book lovers dream, right???) and about a dozen years and I work up my first book to what I think is pretty wonderful. I submit it a query to an editor at a publishing house and they tell me they want to read it. WOOHOO!!!! I send it off and.nothing. Seriously nothing. I am informed that they received the manuscript a few weeks after I sent it. A year later when I have still not heard anything, I decide to pack it up and put it away again. But wait! I happen to accidentally read an article that Amazon is allowing authors to self-publish without a hefty price tag attached to it. Some have already been very successful trying this route. Well color me curious.

My thought was What did I have to lose? I pulled the manuscript back out and really got in there and polished and edited and had other people volunteer to edit (these people are friends in the

English field that are absolutely the most supportive group I could have). And on November 19, 2013, my first book was published! 🙂 I have since published seven more and am currently working on book number nine. This current book, like my last one, is taking me on a merry chase. I have some sub-characters that are not sure about their lives (hey, but that just means they should get their own story, right?), I have a bit of a mystery, and am making an issue that is currently plaguing our society fit historical times, because I think it so could have happened. I will admit that sometimes I do take poetic license with history, tweaking things to work the way I need them to, but Ive also been really lucky that when Ive written something major, it has actually happened like burning down a London theater and assassinating a Prime Minister.

I may be a writer by night, but by day I am a high school Librarian. Try not to be too jealous. 🙂 But seriously, I am very lucky to be both an Author and a Librarian. Not only do I get to be around books all day every day, but do you know how much high school drama can give you ideas for stories? It is almost like living on the set of Gossip Girls. *Giggle. Giggle* I have gotten to transform our schools library by genrefying both the Fiction and Non-Fiction collection, and doing crazy things like opening it up for breakfast and lunch. It is such a fun environment and always full of students. It definitely keeps me feeling young.

When I get home to my wonderful cat, Ajax, and get to take off the mantle of Librarian, I get to focus on my writing. I currently focus on Regency novels, but am thinking about branching out in the future (perhaps Western or Victorian). I have been very lucky that several of my books have been finalists for awards, and The Beast of Yorkshire has won two ReadersChoice Awards. That being said, I am always striving to do better and have always loved Diana Palmers storytelling, especially her early books. The way she pulled you into the story and made you feel like you had known these characters forever and then they way they kept popping up in other stories so you know what happened to them and had a real sense of community. That is what I hope to do with my stories. I enjoy keeping up with characters and hope to pass that same love onto my readers.

Some days, though, the stories do not come easy. Part of the reason could be that I am so far opposite of being a plotter. Plotting tends to inhibit my writing, and when I have tried it, I didnt stick to the plot. I find it best to write down pertinent information about the characters, the general idea for the book, names of sub-characters and important locations, and then leave room to jot down notes and ideas if Im not near a computer. The most difficult part of writing to me is allowing myself to be distracted by the Internet, social media, and television. When I write, I am finding that music in the background works best and I am going to have to turn off my WIFI while writing (New Years Resolution). But ultimately the best advice I have read is actually two things. 1) Put your butt in the chair and keep it there. Write! Dont dream about writing. Dont talk about writing. Just write. ~Paul Levine, and 2) You cant edit a blank page. ~Jodi Picoult

Thank you so much for having me. 

Tammy Jo’s assistant

Happy Reading!

Tammy Jo                                                                                    


Facebook Page: Tammy Jo Burns

Instagram: @tammyjoburns

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