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Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Janet Halpin!!

Today we’re welcoming another Rebelle, 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Janet Halpin, whose manuscript BERYL BLUE, TIME COP is nominated for Best Paranormal Romance!

Janet Halpin identifies as a “kidder, complainer, tea-drinker, mom, reader, teller of hilarious and sometimes totally true tales, sock-folder, and author.” Inspired by the genre fiction that enthralled her as a kid, Janet writes YA, mystery, light Sci-Fi, and WWII-set paranormal and time travel, all with a dash of humor and romance. She lives in New England with her husband, a funny and friendly guy, two sons, both geniuses and good looking to boot, a hyper Border Collie and a gigantic Maine coon cat with a terrible disposition.

Here’s a blurb for her nominated manuscript, BERYL BLUE, TIME COP:

Wannabe librarian Beryl Blue shelves books in her hometown library. Dull, but after being orphaned and years in foster care, she prefers the mild life. Until she meets a woman whose claim to be a time cop from the future isn’t nearly as unbelievable as the reason she’s come to Beryl: She needs Beryl to stop a rogue time traveler from killing a seemingly random soldier on leave and changing history forever.

Before Beryl can blink, she’s stranded in 1943, tasked with sticking like a Band-Aid to Sgt. Tom “Sully” Sullivan. She soon learns two things: Sully’s more than capable of taking care of himself, and it’s her heart that’s in danger—the more time she spends with the sexy, stubborn soldier, the more she comes to care for him, a man from a different time, a man she can never be with. Terminator meets Somewhere in Time as Beryl scrambles to stop a time traveling assassin, protect a man who refuses to be protected—and keep her heart intact.

Terminator meets Somewhere in Time”! I love that! The book sounds like so much fun, and, Janet, I can already hear the warmth and humor of your voice! Go, you!

Okay, readers, let’s settle in for some lively conversation with Janet Halpin. In keeping with her WWII theme, let’s find ourselves a cozy booth in a pub full of handsome soldiers in uniform (they can send over drinks, and maybe we’ll decide to foxtrot with them later).

Ready?

Janet’s offering a $15 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter today, so join in the conversation after the interview!!

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Welcome, Janet! It’s great to have you with us today!

First let me say I’m so happy to be here. I’ve loved reading the Rebelles posts and also getting to know the Ruby Slipper sisters through this blog. Truly the best part of being a GH finalist—the wonderful people I’ve been connecting with!

I truly love the premise for your story. It sounds very original and fresh, with maybe a side of zany. How do you approach a plot like that? Plotter? Pantser?

I’m neither a plotter nor a pantser. Just like my politics and my preference for salsa, I’m “medium,” somewhere in the middle, what’s called a “plotser” (I’m a “plotzer” too, with my tendency to faint at the slightest provocation, but that’s a subject for another blog). I do some preliminary research, work out a loose plot and a vague theme, figure out a credible black moment, and sketch out a beginning and an end, letting the middle fend for itself. Then I pants it the rest of the way. My H/H tell me who they are as I write. My heroine is frequently feisty, my hero insists he be tough and gruff and hunky, basically Nathan Fillion circa Firefly, 2003. I don’t argue with either of them.

I set a deadline and write every day. I note spots where I need to research slang or descriptions to come back to later so I won’t get caught up in the Google vortex. I track word count as an incentive in the first draft, making me push, push, push until that unholy mess of a 68k word baby is born.

Then comes my favorite part, revisions. That’s where my baby grows from ugly duckling to swan—the plot thickens, the theme coalesces, the H/H get it on. I don’t revise gently. I go full on Mommie Dearest, taking a butcher knife to my darlings, sobbing uncontrollably as I hack away. Four drafts and many darlings killed later, I’m done. Then I back up my creation about a million times, relax for a few hours, and start all over again.

You sound like you know yourself well as a writer! (And it’s so wise to avoid the Google vortex mid-first-draft!!) “I don’t argue with either of them” and “I don’t revise gently”—both those lines made me laugh out loud. So, tell us more about writing BERYL BLUE specifically. How do you come up with an idea like that?

BERYL BLUE was always a problem child. As noted above, I usually sit down to write with a solid beginning, a little less solid ending, and a non-existent middle. Beryl sprang to life squarely in the middle. About 8 years ago in a junk shop, I found a photograph of a bunch of Greatest Generation GIs drinking at a bar. They were drunk and giddy, a moment of carefree carousing, tempered by the shadow of war and an uncertain future. The only thing missing was the girl. So I put her there.

I’ve always been interested in the World War II era and time travel stories. Incorporating both, I wrote a scene between a contemporary woman and a soldier on leave at a loud, rowdy nightclub in 1943. Both realize they’ve fallen in love, both know they can never be together. It was funny and romantic and bittersweet. Finished, I wiped away a tear, looked at my perfect scene and… Now what? I had to figure out how to get them to that nightclub, and where they went from there. Why was she in the past? How did they meet? How will they be parted? I twisted my brain for years trying to figure it out. I noodled with the story. I wrote two other books. I dawdled, I dithered, I dilly-dallied. Then, 3 years ago *boom* everything fell into place. What I thought might be a novella became a book with two full length sequels and a couple of novellas plotted out. Or plotsed, in my case.

I love the idea of a photograph inspiring the story! Why the interest in World War II in the first place?

Contrary to what my kids will tell you, I wasn’t around in 1944. But my parents were, and so were most of the adults I knew as a kid. I grew up in a public housing project, built as veterans’ housing. Practically every dad there, and some of the moms, had been involved in the war in one way or another. As a kid, I heard the stories (cleaned up for little ears, I’m sure), I knew when VE or VJ day was, reenacted the D-Day landings in the brook when the boys would let me, and watched the skies for enemy bombers. My interest in the era continued into adulthood, so it was no surprise that when I started writing fiction, I turned to that time period for inspiration.

Wow, what great human resources for learning about the war! You must have a deep well of potential stories. So, what’s next for you?

Another of Beryl Blue’s trips to the past is in my future. I’m also finishing up revisions on what I hope will become a series, a WWII-set mystery featuring a society reporter hankering to be assigned to the crime beat. Then on to another paranormal, sort of a Buffy meets The Walking Dead on the Maine coast, with a feisty heroine, adorable talking dogs and a buff and gruff alpha hero who looks suspiciously like Nathan Fillion.

Oh, and RWA National in Orlando. I’m a first-timer, not fond of crowds and terrified of elevators, so I fully anticipate plotzing from stress at some point during the conference. In fact, the chances of me swooning during the GH ceremony are high. Other than that, I’m sure the whole shindig will be wicked fun, especially if I get to meet all you lovely Ruby Slipper sisters, who’ve been so gracious in inviting me here today. Thank you!

I hope I’ll get to meet you in Orlando! (I’m not attending the formal conference, but may be in town visiting family in late July, and will zoom over for some unofficial events if so. Plus the Daphne / Death by Chocolate event if I can…one of my Lara Archer books is nominated in the Historical category, squeee!!) Believe me, having that Golden Heart “Finalist” ribbon on your ID tag will be a fabulous conversation starter and will ease your way!! You’ll be fine! Now, do you have a question for our readers to get the conversation going today.

Oh, yes! For those of you who’ve been to Nationals, any suggestions for reducing my stress in Orlando and hopefully keeping me upright?

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Connect with Janet Halpin on social media:

Janet on Twitter (@EltonaWrites)

33 responses to “Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Janet Halpin!!”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Janet! I really enjoyed our chat, and the thought of WWII romance.

    As to your question about Nationals, rest assured the majority of writers find that sort of gathering stressful…and yet most end up having a great time.

    Check out Jamie Michelle’s awesome post from a few days ago called Stretch Your Wings. It has awesome conference tips for introverts!!

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Thanks, Elisa. I haven’t done any guest blogging, and this has been so much fun, I think I’ve found a new addiction! Thanks for pointing me to Jamie’s post, I’ll check it out.

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  2. Oooh, Mal from Firefly? Be still my heart. Your story sounds excellent, Janet, and I look forward to meeting you in Orlando!

    Best tips for de-stressing? Remember that almost everyone else is as overwhelmed by the crowds as you are. I feel like introverts are the majority at conference – which is probably why the bar is always such a hot spot at conference, everyone looking to take the edge off. Just don’t take it off tooooooo much. You don’t want to slur your own name when you’re introducing yourself to your dream agent/author idol/random new friend at the conference cantina. 😉 But moral of the story? These are your people. The crowds may be big, but they’re crowds of WRITERS and everyone is a potential friend. I hope you love it. 🙂

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    • Ooh! And don’t forget Disney! We’re right next to the happiest place on earth. I fully plan to try to sneak over to the parks at least once for some destressing. 🙂

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Thanks for the advice Vivi/Lizzie, especially to go easy on the booze–I’m one of those people who feels constitutionally obligated to talk and talk to fill any silence in a conversation. I can only imagine the glaze-eyed look I’d get from my dream editor as I yap on and on! Also, LOL on our mutual Mal love–I’m sure he’s inspired a million romance stories.

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  3. Tracy Brody says:

    I love time travel stories- Somewhere in Time (one of my favorites), Time Cop, Kate & Leopold, and TV shows like Quantum Leap, 7 Days, Timeless. Fascinated with the idea of traveling back to change time (I’d give Hitler’s mom a shot of Depro-Provera at the right time.)

    Tips to keep you upright, get enough sleep (don’t stay in the bar until 2 AM) and don’t skip meals. Bring energy bars in case you’re too busy for sit down meal. Simple things, like remembering to breathe if you end up in an elevator, especially since you don’t like them, and you could end up in there with the likes of Darynda Jones or Kristan Higgins.

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    • Rita Henuber says:

      Have you read Stephen King’s 11.22.63? Might give you pause not to want to change the past.

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      • Janet Halpin says:

        Oh, yes Rita, I’ve read that book several times (even though it’s a loooooong haul!). I’m squarely with King in the “past can’t be changed” camp. I admire authors who write the opposite, but I feel there’s more conflict and suspense in figuring out how the H/H will preserve the past. Thanks for stopping by!

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      LOL, Tracy, we need to have a viewing party! I’m digging Timeless too and was so glad it was saved from cancellation. And haha on the Depro-Provera! Most time travel fiction eventually comes around to that question–to kill/not kill Hitler, you’ve suggested the most unique and creative solution I’ve ever seen!

      Thanks for the de-stressing tips, too. Getting enough sleep will be my biggest challenge, since I have trouble sleeping anywhere but my own bed. If you see me nodding off during the GH ceremony, feel free to give me a poke!

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  4. C.R. Grissom says:

    Hi Janet,

    Love, love, love your story concept. WWII is fascinating and a great place to drop your characters. I am intrigued by your childhood. I read a biography of Margaret Mitchell a few years back that noted she sat on many a veteran knee listening to stories of The War Between The States. Years later the literary world received Gone With The Wind.

    Per family lore, my husband’s grandfather was the heavyweight champion of the Pacific Fleet in addition to being a pilot in the Navy.

    My uncle played (who looked like a dead ringer) for Joe DiMaggio, played baseball. I never asked which branch of service, but I assume regular army.

    I’m used to elevator terror. My sister (and best friend) cannot step inside one. She always requests low floors in hotels. In Las Vegas, there’s an off-strip (but super close) hotel we stay at to avoid massive casino hotels. If you need an elevator companion or someone to climb the stairs with you, count on me!

    I most sincerely cannot wait to read your story. It sounds like a page turner. I love the fact your librarian takes on the role of Kyle Reese.

    Conference sounds intimidating, but it’s not. Truly, most who attend are introverts pretending to be extroverts for a few days. Think of it like a large family reunion. You get to see extended, estranged and beloved members of your family. It’s your chance to connect with your GH Sisters and your favorite authors. The fun thing about attending as a Golden Heart Finalist is you already have a built in sisterhood waiting to engulf you in their collective embrace and catch you if you swoon!

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    • C.R. Grissom says:

      Ugh. Forgive my typos. Perhaps I should have proofread before posting, especially off four hours sleep. 🙂

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Wow, what great comments, C.R., thanks for posting! That’s so cool about your WWII relatives; have you researched their service and if there’s photos/newspaper articles (especially your husband’s grandfather) available?

      I’m so taking you up on your offer to be my stairs buddy! “Where are the Swan & Dolphin’s stairs”–that’s the first thing I thought of when I registered for the conference. I’m super-claustrophobic and elevators are my kryptonite.

      And thanks for your encouragement about the conference. “Like a large family reunion” — I like that, a reunion of folks I really want to see, too!

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  5. Rita Henuber says:

    LOVE time travel stories. The thought of writing one makes my eyes twirl like pinwheels . Congrats on the GH final and enjoy the ride.

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Love that image, Rita! My head does spin at times, trying to keep the timeline and other details straight. It’s a challenge to say the least.

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  6. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    I love the blurb from your book! I’ve been a fan of sci-fi for as long as I can remember and have enjoyed many of Diana Gabaldon’s books. Beryl Blue: Time Cop sounds right up my alley.

    Congratulations & good luck, Janet!

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Thanks, Cynthia! I love Gabaldon’s books too(I mean, who doesn’t?), history, romance, action and time travel, a great mix. Thank you for stopping by today.

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  7. Jennifer Camiccia says:

    Hi Janet! I want to read your book!! I love time travel – Terminator is one of my favorite movies. And a character based on Mal from Firefly? Yes, please, and thank you!! I am also a first timer to nationals and I HATE elevators. Maybe they’ll put us on the first floor? Or we can get in super shape with the stairs- lol. Can’t wait to meet you in Orlando!

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Hi Jennifer, thanks for stopping by! I love Terminator, too; Sarah Conner is such an amazing character. I always ask for a lower floor when reserving a hotel room, so maybe we *will* be on the same floor–we can be “stair sisters!”

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  8. Beth Long says:

    Hey, Janet! Really looking forward to meeting you in Orlando!! Great post. I love reading about everyone’s process. So far I haven’t found two people who write exactly the same.

    Beryl Blue sounds like a great read. A friend of mine read the opening for a contest somewhere along the line and was totally hooked. She’s been waiting to see it published ever since. 💛

    As for conference, my recommendation is to have your schedule figured out ahead of time. I feel a lot less stressed if I know where I’m headed next. I often leave wiggle room, and sometimes I change things around, but I need that starting point. If you have a smart phone, the conference app is invaluable.

    I think you’ll find the energy of that many romance writers in a confined space can be truly uplifting. But if it ever gets to be too much, don’t hesitate to head back to your room or find a quiet corner.

    See you soon, Janet!!
    💛
    Beth

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Hey Beth, glad to see you here. You’re so right about diversity in each author’s writing process–I guess we’re like snowflakes, no two alike.

      Tell your friend who read Beryl in the contest she has terrific taste! LOL, really, tell her thank you, thank you, thank you for giving her time and energy to judging; comments and suggestions from each contest I’ve entered Beryl in have helped to make it so much stronger.

      And finally, great advice about putting together a schedule for conference. Being a “plotser” in all aspects of my life, I’ll probably end up with a semi-schedule, plans for beginning and end and a bit squishy in the middle! Thanks again for coming by.

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  9. Welcome, Janet, and oodles of Ruby love! I adore a good time travel (Knight in Shining Armor, anyone?????). Your GH ms sounds fascinating and FUN. My tip: Don’t drink too much alcohol. A few drinks may seem like a good way to take the edge off stress, but too much can dehydrate and stress your body. Joy & Peace!

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Hi Shelley. Glad to hear you’re a time travel fan. Sounds like a lot of the Rubies are fans of the genre–I’ve found my people! Thanks for the de-stressing tip and thanks for coming by.

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  10. Melonie says:

    I can already tell I’ll love your voice and this story – can’t wait to buy it and read it 🙂

    I’m a huge fan of time-travel, and have been fascinated with the concept since I was little. Somewhere in Time is one of my top 10 fav movies ever. I have a time-travel women’s fic sitting on a back burner on very low heat. It was the first “book” I ever wrote for the first NaNo I ever participated in. I plan to turn up the heat on it this summer and see what happens.

    As for RWA – this will be my 5th (wow, 5th!?!) national conference and 4th time to WDW… my suggestion is to plot out your day – you are going to have a lot of places to go and things to do, esp as a GH finalist (and esp if you hope to his a Disney park or two) – go through that list and decide what is most important build a schedule (I use Google calendar) so you can see where you have time to add “extras” and when you may need to reserve some downtime for yourself (or for, as one of my RWA roommates liked to call it, when you are “out of nice”)

    Whatever happens, you are going to have a blast and I can’t wait to meet you in person, my Rebelle sister!

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Hello Melonie, my Rebelle sister, thanks for stopping by!

      I’m excited to hear you’re a time travel fan *and* have been into the genre since you were a kid. Me too–my intro to TT was through a 1960s TV show called Time Tunnel (which you probably don’t remember since I’m approx. 173 years older than you!).

      I’m begging you to turn up the heat–way up–on that time travel you’ve been noodling with, because I want to read it!

      A conference 5-timer? Wow, I know who I’m going to pester when I have questions, since you’re a seasoned vet.

      “Out of nice” is a fantastic line and I am herewith stealing it. However, I don’t anticipate being out of nice much in Orlando with so many fine, fun people to meet, including you–can’t wait until July!

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  11. Congratulations! Excellent blog and your book sounds fabulous. Best of luck in Orlando! Enjoy your time to shine.

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  12. suzanne says:

    The Google Vortex — such an accurate description. You must a writer!! And in addition to being a GH finalist, a writer, mom, wife, and superstar, I just wan to acknowledge that it takes a special type of person to have the patience to fold socks. FOLD SOCKS!!! What a woman!

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      LOL, Suzanne, if there was a sock folding Olympics, I’d be a triple gold medalist! Thanks for popping by and posting!

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  13. Jennifer Henderson says:

    Wonderful post, Janet. I love history too, and WWII is chock full of story potential. Beryl Blue sounds incredible, and I’m so looking forward to meeting you in Orlando. (Rebelle yell!) I’ll be a first timer too, so we can huddle together and stare about with wide eyes. If you feel faint, all your GH sisters will be there to catch you.

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    • Janet Halpin says:

      Hi Jennifer, so glad you stopped by! I’m looking forward to meeting you too in Orlando. Get ready for some Rebelle-yelling!

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  14. Darynda Jones says:

    Welcome and congrats, Janet! Your story sounds awesome. And Captain Tight Pants? Oh, hell, yeah. Such incredible hero material.

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