Jen: Today we welcome Dani Collins to Romancing the Book. Dani, will you share a short bio with us?
Dani: After a brilliant debut in the UK with No Longer Forbidden?, a Mills & Boon Modern Book Of The Month January 2013, Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won this year’s Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus is Harlequin Presents, Dani also writes romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, and coming August of 2014, erotic romance. Whatever the genre, she always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
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Jen: Can you tell us a little about your newest release?
Dani: AN HEIR TO BIND THEM is a June Harlequin Presents release.
When I was writing what turned into my first sale, No Longer Forbidden? I had a scene where that hero, Nic, admits to the heroine, Rowan, that he has three half-siblings. This took both her and me by surprise. It explained Nic’s feelings of isolation and rejection, but I began wondering how these other siblings coped after he was removed from the family. The third book I sold to Harelquin Mills & Boon, More Than A Convenient Marriage? is the second book in what I call The Makricosta Series. An Heir To Bind Them is the third installment.
Basically, the hero of this book, Theo, blamed his brother Nic for leaving and destroying what had been a fairly happy family. It doesn’t occur to Theo until he’s an adult, and their sister Adara has reunited with Nic, that they were all children and he can’t blame Nic for the horrors of his childhood. The day that he is processing all of this is the day his star employee, Jaya Powers, gives notice.
Jaya has had a terrific crush on Theo and really just wants to say a professional yet sincere thank you and goodbye. Things get personal, a few kisses turn into lovemaking and they part ways with something more between them than just a cherished memory.
When the book opens, Theo has just been volunteered to babysit his niece and nephew—and he’s the furthest thing from prepared to do so. He seeks out Jaya to help and discovers he’s a father. Given his brutal upbringing, he doesn’t trust himself to be a good caregiver, but with Jaya’s unwavering belief in him comes around to embracing the role.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Dani: Pantser. I spent a long time learning to plot, thinking the reason I wasn’t selling was a weakness in that area. Turns out I had to unlearn it before I sold to Presents. Now, even though I write a synopsis, I get what they mean when editors say, “The romance is the plot,” and I let a lot of it develop organically as I’m writing.
My current WIP is a great example. I sent in a synopsis and my editor had some reservations about certain events. She said it sounded like there were too many secondary characters, that the hero and heroine seemed to spend a lot of time apart…
Based on a few of her suggestions, I took another look, switched up some things about each character and started writing without being one hundred percent sure where it is going. I’m at the halfway point and feeling pretty good about it. I trust the rest will come as long as I show up at the keyboard.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Dani: Sexy, Witty, Vibrant! (I just rebranded.)
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Dani: I have notebooks stashed everywhere: bedside, in the car, in the gym bag. I used to empty my purse after a day at work and it would be full of post-its with a line of dialogue or something like: ‘sees nemesis at dance.’
Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point?
Dani: Well, obviously after twenty-five years of trying to sell a book I was pretty darned stoked when I finally got The Call. That didn’t come out of the blue, though. I was kind of hoping/expecting it. I’d had several revision requests and they’d trickled into fairly small comments that gave me the impression they thought the story was pretty solid so when my editor at the time asked if she could call me, I was pretty sure it was The Call. Still, after that many rejections, I wasn’t counting chickens.
And yes, I had champagne, but not until I got home from work that day. My husband was working nights. I told him as we passed in the garage, he slept all day, then we had my parents over that night for a little party.
The most recent highlight was quitting my day job. My last day was near the end of April and it was the attainment of the goal I’d been aiming for all those years of submitting and receiving rejections. And no, I don’t have any big discipline problems. No more than I ever had. For sure I can squander time on the internet same as anyone, but I’m pretty good about, say, making a point of writing a blog post in plenty of time for it to be turned in. (I’m writing this on Sunday, the 25th of May.)
Wait, one other huge kick was accepting the 2013 Reviewer’s Choice Award in New Orleans from Romantic Times Book Reviews for my first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin. I took my daughter to the convention, had a fabulous time and standing on the stage was when it hit me that it was a pretty big deal.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Dani: The joke for the last two years has been that I didn’t have free time. I was working fulltime at my day job and sent in a dozen manuscripts to Harlequin Mills and Boon, indie published a romcom, and have worked with a couple of digital presses on other projects. To avoid burn out and carpal tunnel syndrome, I had to quit my day job.
There was a time when I enjoyed gardening, but I didn’t put one in last year and I’m skipping it again this year as I’ll be away a big chunk of the summer so the watering becomes a chore for someone else. Honestly, there are so many household tasks that have been ignored for the last two years that I will have no time filling the free time I now have.
Having said that, my husband and I are planning a few weekend drives since we haven’t seen much of each other since I sold.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Dani: The Ultimate Seduction & The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection
I wrote an erotic romance (literally) fifteen years ago with a hero whose identity is hidden. I had always planned to pair it with one where the heroine’s identity is secret. The sale of those two stories to HarlequinE coincided with my being asked to participate in a fun new series with Harlequin Presents called The 21st Century Gentlemen’s Club. Then these were all scheduled to come out in August of this year so I threw together a contest with masquerade masks as prizes.
You can read the details and enter here: Dani Collins’ Masked Desires Contest.
Dani Collins’ Masked Desires Contest
There’s also an online novella as part of The Chatsfield series and I have a November Presents. Honestly, some days I don’t know whether I’m coming or going, but I’m thrilled.