AJ Renee joins us today! I had the absolute pleasure of meeting AJ when we shared a table at the Brew City Book Signing last month. She was everything I could’ve asked for in a tablemate–fun, outgoing, friendly, and so much more. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know her!
Tell us about you! Can you share some interesting tidbits we may not know?
I’m an army brat who married an army brat turned airman. I’m Puerto Rican and I was born and raised on the mainland. I used to describe myself as an extrovert, but it seems the pendulum is swinging toward introvert as I get older. I’m pretty much an open book. If you have questions ask and I’ll give you an honest answer. My friends know that they can rely on the truth from me since I’m a blunt person. Life is too short and lying not only hurts people, but it’s exhausting.
What inspired you to start writing?
The beginning of this journey wasn’t a sweet one, unfortunately. My best friend passed away and I couldn’t get over the fact that she never got her happily ever after. Life can be cruel like that. Well, one day an idea popped in my head and it wouldn’t go away. Every day that passed was hard without being able to call her. I eventually decided to write the story, just for me. Since then I haven’t been able to shut it off. It’s like a valve of creativity and now I see ideas for stories everywhere I go.
Other than writing, what are some of your passions in life?
My family. I know it’s silly, but no matter how many times my girls make me scream and want to run for the hills they are my WORLD. I’m lucky enough to say I adore my husband and am so proud of the man he is. Making a home for them means a lot to me, even if there are days I just want to sit there and veg out in front of the TV. My goal is to make them proud of me and know I’m giving them as good of a life as they are giving me.
What was your debut novel, and how has your writing process changed since your debut?
Widower’s Aura came out August of 2016. It’s crazy to think it’s been just over a year since I released Sofia and Noah’s story into the world. I’m constantly learning from that first book. I made a big newbie mistake of head hopping and my editor helped me disentangle it. Now I know to focus on who’s eyes the reader is seeing the story from. I try to write every day and that isn’t always possible.
My goal is to do a better job of focusing on writing and not letting myself get distracted by social media. Getting distracted by my daughter who needs me and my attention is one thing, but I need to remember I don’t need to scroll through Facebook every so often. It’s a hard habit to break.
What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process and why?
I love seeing that this “thing” I’ve put so many hours into is something another human is enjoying. When my readers come back and tell me they loved it and what in particular they loved, it brings me a lot of joy. These characters are begging to be written. Needing to see the story through, because I’m a pantser, is what keeps me coming back to my laptop.
What will happen next? Oh no she didn’t?… Those things keep me excited.
What is your most challenging part of the writing/publishing process and what do you do to make it easier?
Marketing… It really is the most challenging thing. I do not like being a thorn in someone’s side. I don’t want to shove anything down anyone’s throat. Unfortunately, to be seen you have to be aggressive and I can’t figure out where the line is between being active in my promotion and annoying the shit out of my readers.
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you find balance?
I get the girls ready and the older two on the bus. When the little one and I return, she gets to play or watch TV while I make a fresh mug of hot tea and I start working. I break for our lunch and then back to work for a little longer. Somewhere in there I should know what dinner is and if I’m lucky it’s already in the Crock-pot. The older two get home and I help with homework, lunch (if they need help), and dinner. When my kids decide to listen I get them outside to the park or go for a bike ride and then it’s baths and bed. They thrive with our routine. The hardest part is keeping them focused.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell myself to not head hop. To write my stories for fun and get a few under my belt before publishing. It seems you need a few tricks up your sleeve or to be a fast storyteller.
Mostly, I would tell myself to grab that bottle of wine because it’s going to be a bumpy ride with ups and downs.
What do you love about writing romance?
There is so much negativity in our world. Writing romance allows me to focus on the positives. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel. A lot of times crappy things happen so you can get and appreciate the good things in life. I also love that my story can bring some peace or adventure to a reader who is going through a hard time.
What kinds of things do you find romantic in real life? Can you share a story?
To me, romance isn’t flowers and candy. It’s those small things that my husband does to make my life better. Those things that tell me he is thinking of me even when I don’t think so. Getting text messages that are simply a, “Hello beautiful,” or “I miss you.” Those things hit me in the chest.
The most romantic thing he ever told me was while he was deployed. He wasn’t trying to be romantic and maybe that is why it meant so much. He told me about a song to a new artist he was listening to. He said the song made him think of me and he told me to listen to it. That song is now one of my FAVORITES. Maybe it is because it’s a great song, but I think it matters so much to me because of how he made me feel in that one moment when I needed it the most.
Do you read your book reviews? If so, how do they affect your writing (if at all)?
I do read them. I know I won’t be what every reader wants, and that is okay. Constructive criticism makes you think and helps you adjust.
People who want to be nasty for the sake of it… well those reviews share more about them than my writing. The reviews also help motivate me when I’m having a hard day.
What is the craziest, funniest, or most surprising thing that has happened to you since publishing your first book?
I haven’t had any crazy moments yet. One funny thing is when a friend told me she refused to read the sex scenes. My scenes are descriptive and steamy and she couldn’t get past the fact that I wrote them. I guess it left her wondering where I got my ideas from.
I am releasing a Christmas novella this holiday season. It has been the most troublesome story to name so at this moment I still don’t have a title. I had a lot of fun writing these two characters. My projected release date for it is November 20th, just in time for those needing to hide from family during Thanksgiving.
Michelle Harper quit trying to find love after a string of failed dates. Sure, her life hadn’t turned out quite like she expected, but she was done trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. She was perfectly happy filling her life with her love of cooking.
Weeks before Christmas, a chance encounter brings Jake Smith into her life. The spell of the season weaves around her, and she’s quickly caught under a mistletoe with the handsome stranger. When Michelle can’t keep Jake off her mind, she realizes she’s gone too far.
With her heart on the line, she can only wait and see if the magic of the holiday season will bring her the best gift of all… love.
Is there any other news you would like to share?
Being a military spouse is hard. One of those hardships is not having your partner in crime with you. My husband should be home by the middle of the month after being away for three months during training. I’m super excited for his homecoming.
I will be at the Behind the Masks Book Signing in Nashville come February. I hope to release the latest story in my St. Fleur series in early 2018 as well.
Please email me if you have any questions. You can also keep up with where I’ll be for signings on my website, www.ajrenee.com. Thanks for checking me out and happy reading!
Five Facts Just for Fun!
1. What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
Don’t take it personal by Monica
2. What was the last gift you gave someone?
I bought a friend lunch.
3. What were you like as a kid?
Straight A student. I didn’t have a group I belonged to, I floated around.
4. What was the last thing you binge-watched & what did you think of it?
I’m on a Supernatural binge right now. It’s much better than I expected. I never got into it when it first came out but now I really like it.
5. What is the one thing (other than your loved ones) that you cannot live without?
My phone. Not for the reasons most people have. To me leaving my phone is cutting off my access to help. I always fear I’ll be disconnected from emergency personnel or help if I don’t have it.
BOOKS BY AJ RENEE
When an IED hit my unit, it set off a chain of events that transformed me. Gone is the easygoing and charming man whom everyone flocked to. I’m no longer the whole man I used to be, and I’ve accepted this darker side.
In my twelve years as a physical therapist, I’ve never been tempted to cross the line with a patient. That is, not until Viktor Prinz answers the door in his nearly-naked state. Seeing past the grief, I find the first man to make me want more.
Can Viktor find the strength to accept the cards he’s been dealt? Or will he run this beauty who stands up to him out of his life, never to return again?
Check it out here: AMAZON (FREE with Kindle Unlimited)
Living in a world full of colors, Sofia Brazier escapes a career gone south as a juvenile probation officer in New Orleans. After moving to the small town of St. Fleur, Sofia opens a photography business in hopes of ridding her life of all the dark auras surrounding the damaged souls she once tried helping. Her comfortable new life is upended when widower, and ex-security-forces-turned-handyman hunk, Noah Tyler enters the local pub.
Noah attempts to avoid the voluptuous beauty who has captivated his every thought. That is, until his daughter vandalizes Sofia’s building and effectively seals their fate. After cutting his daughter a break, Sofia begins tearing down the walls he built after his wife’s death.
Just when life finally seems worth living for Noah, Sofia finds herself the victim of a string of crimes. Can he protect Sofia when he failed to protect his own wife?
After a few years of easy small-town living as the St. Fleur librarian, Lindsey finds herself in the middle of a love triangle gone wrong. Gifts begin arriving and in time she realizes her confusing feelings over Derek, the sweet history teacher, and Marc, the man she doesn’t remember, is the least of her troubles. Her complicated love life takes a violent turn when she learns there is a stalker watching her every move.
When Marc visited his best friend’s new home months ago, he didn’t expect to meet the first woman to awaken his desire for more since he was a teen. Too bad she’s already taken. When their shared attraction leads them to the truth, will they finally get the happily ever after they both want?
Or will her current man, his best friend, and her stalker be the nails in the coffin of their attraction?
Jaime Lynn has lived by that mantra all of her life. After opening a pub in St. Fleur, she begins to root herself into the town and its community, questioning the only attitude she has ever known. When Jesse interviews for the open bartending position, she knows hiring him is a bad decision she’ll make anyway. Giving in to their powerful attraction, she accepts his invitation to explore what’s between them—and is reminded that not everyone gets their happily ever after.
Haunted by the memories around his hometown of New Orleans, Jesse leaves everyone he knows and loves, hoping to find a sliver of peace. Jaime Lynn turns out to be the light to his dark, bringing Jesse away from his nightmares and back to his hopes and dreams.
When the truth comes out, Jesse and Jaime Lynn agree to give their relationship another try. The stars finally align, guiding them onto a new path where they can leave their past behind them.
What will they do when Jesse learns about the gift he never received but always wanted?
Combining the magic of fantasy and love. Nine novellas retelling classic fairytales with a romantic twist. 18+
The Enchantress by R. L. Weeks
Felicity is on route to Beau to marry the duke. However, when she arrives, Alistair, the prince and heir to the throne, catches her eye. His late night disappearances and roguish attitude send Felicity down a mysterious and strange path. When her best friend, the beautiful Anne, comes to town, everything takes a strange turn. Felicity must decide between love or power – before it’s too late.
The Curiosities of Sea Foam by Erin Lee
Ariel would give up 300 mermaid years for one shot at a human soul and her one true love. If only she can find a way through The Curiosities of Sea Foam…
The Unremembered by A. Maslo
Prince Endymion thought he was captive in his luxurious palace, until he met her. Who is the girl trapped inside a Phoenix that has captured his heart?
Beauty Unmasked by AJ Renee
Viktor returns from war more beast than human until he faces off with Isabel, who fights to unmask the beauty hiding behind his scars.
The Frog’s Prince by Alyssa Drake
Sometimes it takes a frog to bring out the real prince in a man.
Undaunted by Avalon Haley Tremaine
Sorcha is a Princess who just wants to be her own Knight in shining armor; could that really be so bad?
Protecting Sophia by Anke Van Zweel
Sophia has lost everything she loves, now she has become a threat that needs to be eliminated. On the run something unexpected happened, love. Can true love kiss save her.
Alice: The Queen of Hearts Strikes Back by Genevieve Moultrie
Lewis Carroll’s Alice has grown up, but again falls down the rabbit hole. And into the strangest adventure of all: romance.
Red by Jessi McPherson
Cara knew the legends about her village, she never dreamed she’d become one.