Jaycee Bullard hails from Minnesota, where a thirty-degree day in January is reason to break out short-sleeved shirts. In the ten years since graduating with a degree in classical languages, Jaycee has worked as a paralegal, an office manager and a Montessori teacher.
1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
My goal in writing Fatal Ranch Reunion was to appeal to readers looking for exciting, inspirational romantic suspense. Specifically, I wanted to explore how past secrets can have long-lasting consequences. My aim was to highlight the fact that it is never too late for second-chances and to show that some obstacles can be blessings in disguise.
For Tacy Tolbert, the heroine of my story, those blessings come at the end of a hard-fought battle with an adversary bent on destroying everything and everyone she loves.
From a description on the back cover of my book: Visiting her family ranch, Tacy doesn’t plan on sticking around for long…until a series of “accidents” almost kill her. Now she has no choice but to rely on her ex-husband, former soldier Seb Hunt, to stay alive and figure out who’s behind the attacks. But first she must tell Seb he’s a father…and hope they can survive long enough for a second chance at forever.
2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I usually begin my research by fleshing out my characters, determining what they look like, what their strengths and weaknesses are as well as their hopes and dreams. I love to create storyboards that I fill with pictures of the people and places that serve as my inspiration. I struggle the most with ironing out my plot, but with each story I write, I’ve had an easier time with this. Once I figure out the specific details of the plot, I spend time reading about (and visiting) the site where the story takes place, in this case, the Badlands of South Dakota. My family set off on a road trip out to the Badlands when I was younger, and the stark landscape has always stayed with me. It was so much fun to write a story that took place against a checkerboard of plateaus, deep ravines, and wide-open sky. And finally, when it comes to the dangerous twists and turns of the plot, I rely on my imagination—and google—to describe the effects of a snakebite and the sounds and smells of a buffalo stampede.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Definitely the editing process. I love creating my characters and story, but I often become a little too attached to a turn of phrase or a quirky description which ends up distracting from the narrative. It definitely helps to have family and friends read through the early drafts of a manuscript and offer honest feedback.
4. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
When I first began writing, I would always begin with characters I liked and plots that interested me. But that can make for some stale repetition, and my characters and stories started to sound the same. While working with my editor at Harlequin, I began to understand the need to make my ideas more varied and marketable while remaining true to my own point of view.
5. Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
Whenever I read something I like, I try to go back and understand how the author pulled me in, what devices were used to make the writing so appealing, whether it is a short article from the Wall Street Journal or a crime novel. I don’t think that there are any one or two authors who have particularly influenced my writing, but I am constantly inspired (and intimidated) by my favorite writers: Catherine Alliott, Emily Giffin, Liane Moriarty, Katie Fforde, and Michael Connelly. I also love to reread old favorites like Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have about five unpublished manuscripts that still need a lot of work. It is fun to go back and revisit them every couple of years. Sometimes when I reread one of my unpublished stories, I cringe at some of my unsophisticated techniques. But often I am reminded how much I like a certain character that I created, and I feel inspired to take another stab at revising the manuscript.
7. What does literary success look like to you?
In 2017, I entered the first couple chapters of one of my manuscripts in a contest sponsored by the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers.) Winning in the Genesis award that year for Romantic Suspense was an amazing feeling. And, of course, I can still remember the moment when I answered my cell phone and found out that Framed for Christmas, my first book, was going to be published.
8. What inspired you to start writing?
My mother and sister are both fantastic writers. I was looking for a creative outlet, and my mom suggested that I begin working on a novel in my spare time.
9. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I am a Montessori preschool teacher, and I enjoy creating new materials for my classroom. I also love to read and watch television and movies. (I am always up for rewatching old episodes of Friends.) One of these days, I am hoping to learn how to sew.
10. Do you have a website or social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?