Fans of Jill Shalvis should prepare to swoon over Jack and Lola's HEA.
A Calling It Novel
May 29, 2016
Jack "Ox" Oxford is used to being alone. Granted, when you screw over your friends, being alone isn't always a choice. Playing for the Chicago Watchmen is a last-ditch effort to save his career…and right some of his past wrongs. He's not expecting a warm reception, but he's also not expecting a flat tire to change everything.
Recovering control freak, single mom and semiprofessional chaos wrangler Lola Deacon McIntire doesn't need an arrogant ballplayer to swoop in and save her from anything, much less her flat tire. And she definitely doesn't need her body to betray her and decide this is the guy to wake up her rusty libido. She isn't about to upset her sons' lives for any man—much less one who so clearly doesn't think he's dad material.
Jack never thought he'd find someone who wanted to build a life with him, but the more time he spends with Lola and her boys, the more it starts to feel permanent. Even tough-as-nails Lola concedes there just might be a future here—the big, beautiful, messy future neither of them was looking for—but only if Jack will accept he deserves it.
Jack and Lola had chemistry and the best part was that you genuinely believe they like one another, well, eventually. Not so much at first. Their meet cute, over a flat tire on the side of the road, was funny, and charming, and gave an interesting first glimpse into who they each are, and how they will relate to one another.
Lack has a past that he needs to overcome, and he needs to do it soon, as his options for playing baseball are dwindling and he needs the ok of the person on the team that he wronged. Lola is friends with the person, and doesn't think there is any need for Jack to be in town. While it is not a big spoiler, getting into the details on this is a spoiler, so I am going to leave this vague.
They are attracted to one another immediately, but, Lola wants nothing to do with a playboy ballplayer with no interest in settling down, especially as she has children to think about.
The writing in this was strong, and I really enjoyed that it was focused on baseball but not during the season. It was a different angle of it and I liked the idea that they were players in the off season, still focused on it in the periphery and it was still important, but not the focus.
The issue I had was with his past and the child. Maybe this was addressed in a previous book...but he is there to atone for his past actions, but you don't really know what happened. And, it seems that it is an issue, and it is something to deal with, but it is never really addressed. This felt like a hole in the story, at least to me. I kept waiting for someone to give a few more details of the situation, as while not important for the story, it definitely was a catalyst for events in this book.
That said, I was able to enjoy the book, and I definitely recommend this title.
Hi Booked All Night! Thank you so much for having me!!!!
What is your writing kryptonite?
First drafts. I find them physically painful. I do everything I can to avoid them, which, obviously, isn’t a good idea at all given that without a first draft there’s no final draft. It’s been better since I’ve learned that it’s easier for me to dictate stream of consciousness thoughts than it is to write them down on an empty screen, but still… It’s one of the things I absolutely dread doing. I can’t wait to get that first draft finished and move on to editing.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything what would it be?
Write! My younger writing self actually didn’t write anything because she was a perfectionist. I didn’t really start writing until I was in my 30s, and when I did, I had enough confidence to, well, do it very badly and not worry about what people thought. (That was back in my fanfic days.) But just getting out there and doing it—and not thinking too much about the technicalities and the plotting and the everything-else-that-you-think-you-should-be-thinking-about—is so very important. And then, once you start doing, LISTEN—to the fans, to the haters, to the editors, to anyone who cares to comment. Not necessarily to follow every piece of advice, because that would be exhausting and disheartening. But to truly understand what works—for you and your readers—and what doesn’t, and then learn enough about the techniques and about your own style to write and edit accordingly (and well).
What type of research do you do for your books and how long do you typically research?
It all depends on what specifically is being researched. So, for example, for CALLING IT, I did a lot of fact checking (especially for the Trivia Night scene). The individual things didn’t take very long, but there were a lot of them, especially as I worked my way through esoteric (but not entirely impossible-to-answer) sports trivia. But for the current novella I’m working on, HOLIDAY HOUSE CALL, my heroine is a doctor so I’m doing a lot of homework on that, including reading a nonfiction book about being a neurosurgeon.
However, I have to say that my weakness is physical environments. I spend a lot of time looking through real estate sites to pick houses and apartments for my characters, and going to various mapping sites for everything from addresses to terrain. I get lost on those sites for hours. (That was actually going to be my original answer for the Kryptonite answer—because I truly do get lost in it, which is not always productive—but I’ve found that immersing myself in these beautiful houses or hotel rooms [I had a lot of fun looking at pictures of the Presidential Suite at one of the fancy San Francisco hotels for CALLED UP] really puts me in the mood and helps push me over that first draft hump.) And then I put them on my Pinterest boards so I can go back and see them again whenever I want to.
What's the most difficult part of writing characters of the opposite sex?
I really enjoy writing characters of the opposite sex. I think maybe it’s because I can make what they’re thinking and saying logical, whereas in real life I have absolutely no clue as to what is going on in their heads, LOL. But I’d say the most difficult part for me is to, well, convey certain physical reactions in very specific circumstances. (Ok, yes, I’m totally talking about what it feels like for a guy in all sorts of sexy times.) For the most part, what they’re thinking is as important as what they’re feeling, so I have that part down. The actual physical sensations, however, are much more challenging.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Very poorly! I am really bad with names. I veer back and forth between nicknames (Max “Deke” Deacon, Angelica “Fitz” Hawkins, etc.) and much more traditional names like Jack and Karen. (And then in the novella I’m working on, I inadvertently set up my Karen character to have a cousin named Aaron, which was a bit of a disaster as they hang out together quite a lot. Luckily, I just realized I can fix that so I dodged a bullet on that one, LOL!) But I do go through lists of baby names from particular years, or, for example, since my Hansons of St. Helena series is located in a real town, if I’m trying to get inspiration for names, I’ll go into their city government or other local websites and pick first names or last names of different people and put them together.
With that all said, there are just some names that come to me. Nate Hawkins (hero of book #1) and Lola McIntire (heroine of book #3) are, I think, my favorites. And then, of course, there’s Lucinda Dorinda Yaz Yaz Tommy Sue Donelli (aka Dorie), my heroine in book #1, but you’ll need to read the book to get the story behind that. ;)
And sometimes I repeat myself. I just this moment (while I was writing out the answers to your questions, LOL!) realized that for the second time I have given the same last name to two entirely unrelated characters. Ugh! But thank you!
Do you ever allude to bits of yourself in traits your characters possess?
Absolutely. There are some factual things—for example, Dorie Donelli got her degree in library and information science from a grad school in Boston…and so did I. The house she grew up in is frighteningly similar to my own house. And there are also much more emotional ones. Beth Walker, my heroine in BREATHE, is pretty wound up and one of the scenes is her having a panic attach on the side of the road. One of my reviewers wrote how realistic that was, and although I’ve never had a panic attack before, I was going through an incredibly stressful time when I wrote that novella, and pouring all of those anxieties into her character was hugely beneficial both for my own peace of mind and for the book itself.
Does writing energize you or exhaust you?
I’m sure it will come as no surprise at this point when I say that first drafts exhaust me. Deplete me. But once I have that first draft down and can get into the editing phase, it’s hard for me to put it down. At this very moment I’m aching to open up the draft of the novella I’m editing at the moment. But we’ve got a bunch of family visiting and they’re all having pancakes and bagels downstairs right now, so I think it’s time to go.
Again, thank you so much for having me! I’d love to chat again sometime! And, of course, I hope you all enjoy CALLED OUT.
A big believer in happily ever afters, Jen Doyle decided it was high time she started creating some. She has an M.S. in Library and Information Science and, in addition to her work as a librarian, has worked as a conference and events planner as well as a Communications and Enrollment administrator in both preschool and higher education environments (although some might say that there is very little difference between the two; Jen has no comment regarding whether she is one of the “some”).