Meet Tierney James: Author of the Thrilling “Enigma” Series
It’s amazing how fast each Wednesday rolls around, isn’t it? This week is no exception. But it’s a good thing for you, Buttercup, because not only do you get to read my interview with Tierney James, author of the Enigma Series (novels centered on geopolitical conflict), but you also get to read an excerpt from her new novel, Rooftop Angels, and if you leave a comment, you’ll have the chance to win signed copies of the first two books in the series, Unlikely Hero and Winds of Deception. Read on to learn more about this fascinating author.
Tierney has been in education for over thirty years. She recently stopped teaching World Geography for a nearby college to pursue her writing career. Creating a workshop for beginning writers, speaking at schools, and serving as an officer in the writing group, Sleuths’ Ink, are some of the work she does when not writing. With the creation of Winds of Deception, Tierney is now working with one of the crew members of USS Liberty in hopes of obtaining the Medal of Honor for him.
Besides serving as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and attending Space Camp for Educators, Tierney has traveled across the world. From the Great Wall of China to floating the Okavango Delta of Botswana, Africa, she ties her unique experiences into other writing projects such as the action thriller novel, An Unlikely Hero, the first in the Enigma Series. Winds of Deception is the second in that series. Living on a Native American reservation and in a mining town for many years fuels the kind of characters she never tires of creating.
Besides teaching and writing, Tierney enjoys family, gardening, reading and music. Other pursuits involve learning Hebrew in hopes of incorporating the knowledge in a future Enigma Series. She likes to research and sometimes that has involved learning new skills, such as being certified with various weapons.
She has settled in the beautiful Ozarks, but there’s never a dull moment in Tierney’s life. And that is just the way she likes it.
Links to social media:
Amazon Author Page & buy links: Tierney James
Q: Thanks for being here today, Tierney, and congratulations on your new release! You’ve classified the Enigma Series novels as geopolitical conflict thrillers. Is that your favorite genre in which to write?
A: I love writing all kinds of thrillers: romantic, geopolitical and paranormal. Romantic suspense is something I’ve tried, and loved it, and now I’m giving science fiction romance a whirl. Because I worked as a classroom teacher I also like writing thematic units involving geography. Currently, I have two children’s books out and a third in the works. By the end of summer I will have nine books on the market. Five of those will be novels.
Q: It sounds like your queries come back with a lot of acceptances. Do you have any rejection stories to share?
A: I want to share my rejection story because it is important for budding writers to know that you can’t believe everything you hear. I was just getting used to the idea of becoming a writer when I went to a writing conference to learn. A New York agent was there to listen to pitches for our novels. At the last minute I decided to give it a try. She told me, before I had even spoken two sentences, no one cared what I had to say. “Who do you think you are? Tom Clancy?” If I had believed her, I wouldn’t be talking to you now or have a publisher, or nine books on the market. She crushed a lot of dreams that day, but I believed in myself enough to keep trying.
Q: Why did you want to be a published author?
A: For most of my life I have been a storyteller. My dad was the same way. I started writing things down, rather unsuccessfully, from the time I was ten years old. Raising kids, getting a Masters of Education degree, working full time, and all the other things that come with being human, put writing on hold. When my daughter left for college she made me promise to write all those novels down I had walking around in my head. It took me a few years to become brave enough. No one had ever read my work until I met a published author who encouraged me to let her see my work. Her amazing encouragement gave me the confidence to try and publish. Now it is like breathing to me. I can’t live without it.
Q: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you combat it?
A: No. I mean, yes. Not really. Confused? Well, that is because every writer will have times when their story slows down in their head. I’m the kind of person who gets totally absorbed in my work. I get my characters into trouble, then I have to figure out how to get them out. That may take some research or another pot of coffee. I do keep a notebook on each book which contains character profiles, story maps, descriptions, character interviews, possibilities, etc. I also keep movie, video game soundtracks to play while I write because it plays like a movie in my head. Usually after writing some ideas down for that chapter in my notebook, I have a better idea of where I’m headed. The funny part is I only use what I wrote about half the time. It’s like busting through a wall for me.
Q: How far do you plan ahead?
A: In my series I plan, plan, then plan even more. I start thinking about my stories months in advance. I dream them. I write character studies and interviews. I make story maps and listen to music that inspires my thoughts. I’m just now publishing #3 of the Enigma Series, Rooftop Angels. I’ve got 8 of them sketched out in my head and on paper. I do the same with my stand alone novels like Dance of the Devil’s Trill.
Q: Since you’ve so graciously offered to give away a couple of books, will you tell us about your heroine?
A: My heroine believes in God, country, family, and can make the best chocolate chips cookies in town. Caught up in several terrorist attacks, she discovers something deep inside her that is strong, courageous, and obstinate, which carries her through the most difficult time of her life.
Q: Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for the first contract?
A: The nice thing about publishing today is that you can do it yourself. By all means, you need to try traditional presses because that is yet another layer of experience you need to have to see where you fit. I have been rejected by the best of them. It’s not personal. It’s just business. Look at small presses where you don’t need an agent. Read their requirements, and if they are accepting manuscripts. My first contract came from going on line with Savvy Authors who hosted 30 agents, publishers, and editors. Then for several weeks you could go online and pitch (4 sentences) your manuscript to any of them. I chose 17 publishers. Out of those I got three contracts. There were still hoops to jump through, but I jumped!
Q: One of the things I find the most difficult is doing the marketing/promo. What sort of promo do you do? Did you have help?
A: Marketing or promo is the most difficult part of writing for me. Even under contract your publisher will expect you to do a large part of the work. Here is a list of the ones I use the most:
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Amazon Author Central
- Website: www.tierneyjames.com
- Street Team: I have 5-8 people who send out tweets, posts and are Beta readers. They post a review the first week of release. They never let me down because they are big fans.
- Conferences: It’s called networking.
- Book signings and other personal appearances.
- Book Clubs.
- Blog hops: My friend Lisa here was good enough to have me on her wonderful blog. That helps.
- I do all my own marketing and promo. Having said that I’m at that point where I really could use a little help. It takes away from my writing time.
Q: Okay, last question. Do you have any words of inspiration for new authors?
A: Words of inspiration for authors? Yes! You can write. Believe in yourself. Join writing groups for support and advice. Read “How to Write” books. Read Writer’s Digest, The Writer and Southern Writers (or a combination of those) to keep learning. Go to conferences to meet and connect with other struggling writers. Keep writing!
Excerpt from Rooftop Angels:
Foothills of the Pamir Mountains in Afghanistan
Her sense of smell forced her to wrinkle her nose at the same time her throbbing head begged her to be still. Then, as she ignored the warning, a sharp jab of pain traveled up to her hip. The floor where she sat felt like compacted dirt. Even in the dim light seeping through the ragged covering over the window, she understood this place meant danger. But where was she? How had she gotten here? Why were her hands tied with something like baling twine? Her face felt puffy as if she suffered from allergies, or had she been crying? The taste of salt coated her tongue. Dry, cracked lips needed moisture.
Who were the small people cowering along the wall near her? A small child rested her head on the edge of her shoulder. She flinched away in panic as the downward movement landed the child in her lap. The little one offered up a sleepy grin at her before snuggling back against her shoulder.
The child had light-colored eyes with skin neither tan nor white but something in between, as if she spent a great deal of time outdoors. She smelled liked boiled onions or was it cabbage? The overpowering scent of wood smoke confused her ability to piece together the events leading to this point in time.
Panic raced through her body as her heart accelerated. Even though her arms and legs felt cold, sweat beaded up across her neck and forehead. A sticky substance covered her hands. Lifting them up into the ribbons of light, she squinted to see her palms.
Blood. Her hands were covered in blood. Whose blood? Her body ached. She rubbed her hands up and down, over and over against the torn robe she wore. The fibers, rough and shaggy, pulled the blood from her hands as she worked to be free of the dried substance. The child’s head grew heavy against her shoulder. She wanted to check herself for open wounds. Would she find more blood? I need to get up and move. She nudged the child to push her back against the wall made of mud bricks.
Standing with a grunt and the grace of an eighty-year-old woman, she staggered up. She bit her bottom lip so hard the taste of salt and blood seeped onto her parched tongue. An awkward attempt to feel her body for open wounds with tied hands helped her realize the bindings remained loose but she still couldn’t wiggle free of them.
Her hands trembled against her body locating a number of bruises but no wounds. She stretched out her arms then rolled her shoulders. The movement helped her to relax. A step on weak legs propelled her forward faster than she intended. The pain now resembled stiffness rather than an injury.
Something skittered across the floor. Mice. She sucked in her breath and fell back against a table propped up by a cardboard box. It flipped over with her weight against it. She cried out as someone touched her neck. The sudden movement caused her to jerk away and lose her balance. Outstretched hands pulled her back to steady feet.
A reflex to fight kicked in, and she rammed a shoulder into the man who stood no taller than her. He looked like a young oak tree, strong and unmoving despite her attempt to escape. Instead of retaliating, the young man chuckled and grabbed her by the twine around her wrists. He pointed toward the door and added a tug indicating she needed to follow him outside. She dug in her heels to no avail. The next jerk sent her staggering into his back as he led her outside into the light of day.
The burst of brightness forced her head down. Seeing that she wore what looked like combat boots, the fleeting thought, they’re not even cute, popped into her head. The cool wind created shivers as she cocked her head to the side to glimpse the surroundings. A scarf slipped off her head onto the ground. With the sound of excited voices of men, she stole a glance to see what had gotten them wound up. They pointed at her face then at their own eyes and hair. Their black garb and headdress told her she wasn’t in Kansas anymore, as the saying went. Lumbering yaks swaying their heads and the stomp of restless horses added to the confusion as to her location.
Self-conscious, she touched her hair, and realized strands twisted free from a loose ponytail. The curls blew across her face as she pushed them back with unsteady hands. She remained clueless as to the reason her appearance caused such excitement. A fleeting thought her mascara smeared on what felt like a puffy face caused her to swipe at her cheeks. The young man who had dragged her outside wore a pillbox-like hat. He stormed up to her and cupped her chin in his hand and squeezed. She guessed he might be seventeen or eighteen, just a kid.
She took a step forward and rammed her knee into his groin. He collapsed on the ground with the rest of his sketchy friends laughing. Several others stepped forward then back, followed by mocking her actions. The young man on the ground moaned as he staggered to his feet then held himself. The defense move felt familiar, as if she’d used it a number of times. Had she done it wrong? The kid acted like she’d given him a swat on the rump.
A step back landed her against a bigger man. She spun around and stepped away. He wore a brown fur hat with flaps drooping over his ears and a stained, ragged scarf wrapped around his temples. A tattered ski mask covered his nose, but the other openings revealed almond-shaped eyes. From the large openings, it couldn’t offer much warmth. His exposed mouth was wide with full, thick lips that turned down in an impatient frown.
Startled, she took another step away but tangled her foot in her robe and landed her on the ground. The man’s solemn glare bore down on her as he reached to grab her by the arm and lifted with an unexpected gentleness. The strength in his hands reminded her of someone else, but she couldn’t remember who. Someone tall and menacing walked through a hazy memory. That memory carried a weapon, military issued. Why she knew such a thing remained a mystery. Then the shadowy image vanished. The man in the brown hat watched her with interest, not lust, which both alarmed and comforted her. She spotted a dagger sheathed at his waist and wondered for a split second what he used it for since she noticed a smear of blood on the handle.
Tierney, thank you so much for being here today!
Friends, please say hello to Tierney and leave a comment to have your name tossed in the hat for a chance to win the first two novels in the Enigma series. I’ll announce the winner here next Wednesday, June 15.
Thanks for hanging out!
Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last or Love to Believe in eBook or print, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Black Opal Books, Kobo, or AllRomance. And remember, Love to Win releases on July 30th!
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