How Jade Lee changed my life (and I’m not even kidding.)

Warning – this post is pure, unadulterated fan-girl gushing. If you like your gushing adulterated, take a swig of cold, stale coffee before reading.

Once upon a time, I was not a romance writer. I was not even a romance reader. One Christmas, my husband gave me this book as a gag gift:

I read it in the car on a long, dull drive. In it I found colorful characters, an unusual setting (Victorian era China), hot sex, a gripping, fast-moving plot and elements of magic and fantasy. I didn’t know enough about the business of romance to recognize that Jade Lee was melting boundaries, breaking “rules” and making history.  I did know I loved that story, and I devoured her backlist in a matter of days.

Thanks to Ms. Lee, I developed a one-book-a-day habit. I found local authors like Luann McLane and Lori Foster. I discovered Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Johanna Lindsey. And when I wasn’t reading, I wrote.

Fast-forward four years to the 2010 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. I clawed my way through the crowds of the massive-mega-ultra-jam-packed booksigning to find Jade Lee and enact a scheme of my own: I’d trump Dr. Stevens’s gag gift with another book—this one signed by the author herself.

See how manic I look? See how Jade looks determinedly pleasant and refuses to show fear?

I do believe I squealed. I know for certain I gushed (but not literally). I told her all about Dr. Stevens and his joke.  I cried on her shoulder about a pitch earlier that day in which an editor told me Stone Kissed was hard to categorize, had no hook and would “never” sell. She signed my book, consoled me with grace and optimism, and sent me home to Dr. Stevens.

I expected him to laugh. But he didn’t. “I never thought when I gave you that book you’d be meeting the author one day.” He tucked The Dragon Earl away in his safe where he keeps the journal with our sons’ funny sayings and other sentimental stuff.

And then he turned back to me. “I really think you’re going to do this. You’re going to sell that novel.”

A month later, I did. Carina Press  (“Where no great goes untold”) prides itself on unusual historicals, fang-optional paranormals and stories that stretch subgenre boundaries (you know, like Jade Lee does.)

Was that the last I ever saw of Jade?

Of course not. Last weekend, I gushed (figuratively!) over Jade at the 7th Annual Reader-Author Get-Together sponsored by Lori Foster and Duffy Brown in Cincinnati, OH.

Jade’s hilarious, always smiling and cracking jokes. She loves what she does and it shows in every word and gesture. I was on my way out the door Sunday, exhausted and foot-sore from a long and exciting weekend when she smiled at me (at me!) and suggested we eat breakfast.  Although I’d already said my goodbyes in the restaurant, I turned back.

You know what I learned? In addition to being a superstar, Jade Lee is a person. We discussed the perennial problem of trying to connect with readers. We discussed real bacon. We discussed a possible super-secret project…

OMG! I discussed her PROJECT with JADE LEE!

….Sorry. Anyway, the gilding rubbed away and I saw the Real Woman Within.

So now, I’m all cool and stuff. Composed. Dispassionate. In fact, I need to find a new idol. Yup. I need someone at whose knees I can kneel, upon whose covers I can gaze with longing.

There’s something about this Kathy Lyons chick that appeals…