My name is Jan Scarbrough. I currently have a contemporary romance released in various e-book formats. It is called Kentucky Groom and is the fifth book in a series called Bluegrass Reunions.
The Bluegrass Reunions Series are all standalone novels or novellas. You don’t need to read them in any particular order. The books have a few things in common: they are set in Kentucky; they are reunion stories; the heroine is usually a single mom with a child; and if it fits the plot, I throw in a horse.
Have you ever had an idea for a story which scared you after you began writing it?
Not really, but I put a scene in my contemporary Gothic called Tangled Memories that was scary to me because it actually described the condition I had when I was 38 years old. I almost died then and I describe that feeling in the novel.
Have you incorporated actual events from your own life into your books?
Well, yes:) I just mentioned one. But on a lighter note, I like to put my pets into my books. In Kentucky Groom, I gave the heroine’s daughter a five-gaited pony named Dr. Doolittle. My own daughter had owned a pleasure pony named Mr. Too Little. The cat Munster in Tangled Memories is my 18 year old cat Bugsy. In Santa’s Kiss I included my Pembroke Welsh Corgi Lenny. Finally, I was a single mother for many years. Maybe that’s why I replicate the single mother theme in many of my books.
How much research do you do? Do you research first and then write, or do you write first, then research as needed?
The most research I’ve ever done is for my medieval My Lord Raven. I have hundreds of medieval history books. For the contemporaries, I research as needed. My last Ladies of Legend novella, A Groovy Christmas was set in 1968. Although I lived through that time, I had to refresh my memory. The Internet contains of wealth of information and makes research easy.
Is there any message you want readers to take from reading your work?
I suppose I want readers to take away the hopefulness of love—romantic love and love of family. It was many years before I met my current husband. My personal life had a happy ending and I wish that for everyone.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? And have you ever had a story take on a life of its own?
I am both. When I first start a story, I use several worksheets that I’ve pieced together from online classes and workshops at conferences. I try to get the feel for the characters, learn their issues and what motivates them. I know where I’m going, but I don’t know how I’m going to get there. That’s the fun part about writing a novel. When I was writing Kentucky Groom, I had no clue that the hero was a virgin. But given his history, when I got to the chapter containing the love scene, it just seemed like the natural thing to happen and it was a big surprise to me.
How long did it take for you to be published?
Eight years. My goal is to sell again to a major publisher. I love my current small press, but I want to prove to myself that a big publisher likes my work.
If you could go back and tell yourself anything when you first began your writing career, what would you say?
Don’t submit anything until your book is complete. I’ve missed many opportunities when books are requested because they aren’t complete. Also I would try to be more prolific. A book is a product. You need that finished product.
Laptop or pen and ink? What are your ‘must-haves’ when writing?
Desktop and pen. I often handwrite a scene during lunch and bring it home at night to type it into the computer. Coffee and quiet.
Who are your favorite authors? Who would you say influenced you the most?
I loved Anya Seton’s Katherine. I loved how she told the story. I wanted to be able to do that. Maddie James and I have crossed paths many times in our writing careers. It was her suggestion that led to my first sale.
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
I get my horse fix every week by taking a riding lesson on an American Saddlebred horse. During the summer I volunteer at The Luci Center, a therapeutic riding facility.
Mountains or Beach?
Mountains — I was born in East Tennessee
Favorite amusement park ride?
Father’s Day ritual?
I buy my husband a new shirt.
How do you balance kids being at home 24/7 and writing time?
I no longer have kids at home. However, I work full time and so finding writing time is difficult. That’s why I wish I was more productive.
Thank you for being here today! Please tell us where we can find your books.
Jan’s books can be found at these online outlets
Barnes & Noble
All Romance E-Books
Visit Jan's website
book five of the Bluegrass Reunion series
Jay Preston walked away from the family empire he helped to build. He needs a break, and a temporary stable job in Kentucky seems just right. That is, until he meets Carrie Mercer again. A woman this beautiful isn't going to be impressed with a guy who grooms horses for a living. Yet he’s always wanted to be loved for himself, not his millions, so telling her the truth is out of the question.Carrie Mercer can’t possibly be falling in love with the groom at her daughter’s stable. She’s a widowed mother with heavy responsibilities. Yet the handsome groom is a real gentleman. He’s everything she ever wanted in a man. Carrie has a feeling there's something he's not telling her, and she intends to find out just what it is.
Near Silicone Valley, California
“Aren’t you going to kiss the bride?”
Jay Preston turned to find himself eye to eye with his father’s new wife. Tall and willowy, his stepmother was drenched in white satin, lace, and diamonds. A froth of tulle circled her upswept blond hair like a halo. She smelled of Giorgio perfume and carried a crystal goblet of champagne.
He shrugged his shoulders. “Sure.” Jay had always been a peacekeeper.
The woman’s red lips, tasting of wine, were warm and inviting, assailing him with inappropriate demands. She was his stepmother, after all, only three years his senior, and young enough to be his sister. As the kiss lengthened and his belly twisted with disgust, Jay realized once again this woman was nothing but trouble. And trouble he didn’t want.
“Easy, son.” His father’s hand grasped his shoulder, breaking the unseemly contact, much to Jay’s relief.
Shrugging off his father’s hand, Jay stepped back to be replaced by Carter Preston. With a paunch protruding over his red cummerbund, Jay’s father looked silly in his formal, white tuxedo, starched white shirt, and red bow tie. His reddish gray hair was thinning, and he looked every bit his fifty-something years. Nevertheless, the old man looked happy, turning his smiling gaze on his only son.
“Find your own woman,” he said with a rude wink, seeming not upset by the kiss. He turned his back, sweeping his new wife away as the orchestra played a Strauss waltz.
Jay watched them, knowing from experience that his father’s apparent happiness was transient.
The tinkle of the new Mrs. Preston’s laughter grated like fingernails on a chalkboard. He turned away. Why had he allowed Carter to talk him into coming to the reception? Was he as much caught up in the corporate game as Carter’s other executives who were also in attendance?
Jay declined champagne offered by a white-coated waiter and slipped into a vacant corner of the room. Sitting down, he raked his fingers through his hair and allowed the laughter and music of the wedding reception to settle around him.
How many was it now? Five? The new Mrs. Preston was the fifth bride, all blonds. Jay pondered how she could trust a man like his father. A man who had gone from woman to woman, seeking some form of happiness he never found.
The newlyweds twirled around and around to the lyrical strains of music and the approving applause of guests. Jay recognized the look in his stepmother’s eyes. He had seen it before. Greed. The hunger for money and the power it provided, all satisfied by his father’s wealth. Could that be the real reason she’d married him?
As the music ended, the smiling couple separated. A business acquaintance joined his father, clapping the white clad back and pulling his old man away possessively. Always time to discuss business. It was a Preston trait that had haunted Jay all of his life.
Now that he was deeply involved in Carter’s company, Jay realized he hadn’t inherited the same characteristic. Business was beginning to irritate him like the sound of the new Mrs. Preston’s laughter.
Drawing his lips together into a straight line, he observed his stepmother gliding through the guests as if she hardly touched the floor. The superiority in her step was evident. The arrogant lift of her chin and her condescending glances, looking down her nose at her guests, told Jay so much. The French had a term for it. Nouveau riche. It made him nauseous. Like a revolving door, women had paraded through his father’s life—except for his mother Martha, Carter’s first wife.
“Hello, Jay,” a tiny voice said.
Jay dragged his gaze away from the party and looked down into the wide hazel eyes of his little sister. Her bronze red hair and fair complexion reflected his coloring. Her straight nose, a mirror of his own, was dusted with freckles. Jay grinned at her, glad again he didn’t have freckles, for although they looked cute on a girl, they would have looked silly on a man of twenty-five.
“Hi, Glory.” He opened his arms.
“My name is Gloria Preston,” she said with her pert mouth pulled down into an indignant frown, but she climbed into his lap anyway.
Jay encircled her in his arms. She smelled of baby shampoo and chocolate cake.
“How old are you now, Miss Preston?” He rested his chin on the top of her head.
“Eight, and you know it.”
“I forgot,” he said in defense.
She snuggled closer to him, and he tightened his hug.
“I rode my pony today,” Gloria told him.
“Hmmm,” he murmured into her hair. “Did you have a good riding lesson?”
She nodded. “Carter said he would get me a five-gaited pony or an equitation horse when I learn to ride well enough. You know, like the one you used to have. And he said I could go to horse shows.”
“Good for you.” Jay gave her a squeeze.
“They’re cutting the cake,” Gloria observed matter-of-factly.
“I see that.”
Which wife was Gloria’s mother? Number three? Jay had conveniently tried to forget that fact too. But he remembered he had liked Gloria’s mom. She was sweet. Not like wives two and four.
Crap. How sick that sounded. Ticking off his father’s wives as if he were counting sheep. He felt sorry for little Gloria, growing up without really knowing her father. Hell. He felt sorry for the fatherless child he had once been, even though he would never admit that to anyone.
“How did you get here?” he asked, wondering why his sister appeared to be without a chaperone.
“Carter sent his limo,” Gloria replied with a happy wiggle. “I gotta leave at nine ‘cuz it’s my bedtime.”
What had his father been thinking anyway? Dragging the little girl to his wedding reception without someone to watch her? Carter’s irresponsibility disgusted but didn’t surprise him.
“Ladies and gentlemen, family and friends,” the new bride cooed into the orchestra’s microphone. “We are so glad you could share with us the happiest day of our lives.”
“What’s her name?” Gloria turned her big eyes up at Jay.
“Lori, I think.”
She looked away. “She’s pretty. I hope I’m pretty like that when I get married.”
Gloria’s innocence turned Jay’s heart. “You’re pretty right now, sweetheart.” He kissed the top of her head.
The bride giggled into the microphone as a crowd gathered around the newlyweds, making it impossible for him to see them. It didn’t matter. He knew the routine.
“Do you want a piece of cake?” Gloria’s hair was silky soft.
“I had some already,” she admitted. “The caterer gave me some. He made extra. It’s chocolate.”
His sister was certainly self-reliant. She might appear timid, but she got her way most of the time. She did with him, anyway.
A smattering of laughter and applause resounded through the reception area. The deed was done. The old queen was dead. A new queen was crowned. Long live the queen!
How cynical he had become.
“Friends, come and enjoy.” Now his father spoke into the microphone. “And then join us on the dance floor.”
The orchestra struck up a very poor rendition of “She Loves You.” Somehow the strings just couldn’t replicate the throbbing sound of guitar chords or the Beatles’ strident singing. Holding hands, Carter and Lori tripped onto the dance floor like a couple of kids. They began to fast dance, throwing their arms into the air, laughing and staring into each other’s eyes. What was it? The Watusi? The Jerk? Hell. His father was stuck in a nineteen sixties time warp and wife number five went along with it.
Jay gave his sister another small squeeze. “Want to dance?”
“Sure.” Gloria jumped from his lap, took his hand, and together they navigated through the guests to reach the dance floor.
With dainty steps, she was a good little dancer. Jay felt like a klutz, but he gave it his best.
“They don’t have any good music,” Gloria complained.
“Yeah.” He nodded in agreement and plowed into the back of another dancer.
“Excuse me!” Jay looked around to see a stately, silver-haired woman beaming at him. “Mrs. Chapman, I was born with two left feet. I’m sorry.”
The woman smiled in response and touched his arm with a bejeweled hand. “That’s quite excusable, Jay dear. You have other talents.”
“Yes, ma’am.” She was making light of his clumsiness. For that he was grateful.
Squeezing his arm once, the woman turned back to her partner, her words loud enough to be heard over the music. “That’s Carter’s son. The smart one. He created Sampson.”
Carter’s son—the boy genius who had bypassed college, going right into his father’s company after high school, the kid who someday would own the multimillion dollar Preston Computer Corporation in San Jose, California.
The pit of Jay’s stomach twisted just as he twisted his body to the rhythm of the music. Skipping college had worked out better than he could have foreseen. Developing systems had come naturally to him, just as horseback riding had been easy years earlier. By putting him to work, Carter had been forcing him to prove himself. And he had done just that by creating Sampson, the wonder software that now resided in every Preston computer on the market.
Part of Jay was smug about his success, but another part, the emotional part, wished his father could accept him for himself. It was almost as if Carter expected him to demonstrate time and time again that he was worthy of the Preston name.
Glancing at the newlyweds who danced nearby, Jay wondered if the Preston name was anything to be proud of.
The music ended. Sweat had broken out along his brow. He grinned down at Gloria.
“Care for some punch?” he asked with a sweeping flourish of his hand toward his sister.
As the strains of another waltz began, Lori and Carter blocked their path.
“May we exchange partners?” Lori queried, casting a coy glance at Jay.
“Gloria?” Carter inclined his head and held out his hand.
“Sure.” Eyes sparkling, the little girl smiled up at her father.
It hurt Jay to watch the excitement in Gloria’s face. He remembered how, at that age, he had relished the crumbs of attention his father used to throw his way.
Father and daughter stepped away in the awkward imitation of a waltz. Jay found himself face-to-face with his new stepmother.
“Well?” She lifted an elegant eyebrow in challenge.
Jay held out his arms, and she came into them as if she thought she belonged.
“Quite a nice step up from the travel agency,” Jay remarked, as he swept her around the room. He didn’t try to erase the sarcasm from his voice.
She seemed to take stock of him, glancing up at him through narrowed eyes. “Yes, and Carter is such a dear.”
“Isn’t he, though?” Jay mocked her sweet tone of voice.
Her fingers tightened on his shoulders like a snake coiling around its prey. “Don’t mess this up for me.”
Jay laughed at her warning. “You’re assuming a power that I don’t have.” Her lips thinned. “You forget I’ve seen women like you come and go. You think you have a hold on him because the sex is good right now, but don’t count on it. I hope you signed a good prenuptial agreement.”
“It’s different this time,” Lori said with a smug glance.
“That’s what number four said if I remember correctly.”
“You’re his only son. Carter values your judgment.”
“Carter values my judgment when it’s about the newest piece of software I’m working on, one that he hopes will make him another million. He certainly never consults me about his sex life or his choice of wives.” The very thought made him smile.
“You’re disgusting.” Lori’s voice was brittle.
“My sentiments exactly.” Jay inclined his head toward her.