Monkey FAQs

Plot Monkeys

How did you meet?

Carly: I met Janelle Denison when she judged an unpublished RWA contest entry of mine and then when I sold to Temptation, I met Julie and Les on the Temptation Authors Loop. I was scared of Julie. Thought she didn’t like me because she’d answer private e-mails with one word or one sentence replies. I always knew Les had a great sense of humor and Janelle and I clicked immediately, too.

Julie: I met Janelle first, too, when our editor thought a story idea I’d submitted might be too close to one Janelle had sold and encouraged me to call her so we could discuss it. Ended up our story ideas were nothing alike, but we became friends and she subscribed me to the Temptation Authors Loop. This was my first foray into e-mail, so that explains my terse replies to Carly! Over time, we became friends and after Leslie sold, again, my editor encouraged me to contact her since we lived relatively close to each other (two hours away). We ended up hanging out at a regional conference and became fast friends.

Leslie: Actually, the very first time I heard of/from Carly was after I’d posted something on an AOL message board about selling to Temptation. She had also recently sold to the line and immediately reached out to me in welcome. She, in fact, was the one who got me onto the Temptation Authors e-mail loop. And we right away became fast e-friends, including spending waaaaay too much time im’ing each other on AOL when we were supposed to be working.

Julie mentioned the regional writer’s conference. I’d actually learned from my new editor that one of her other “newish” authors was going to be there, so I was on the lookout for Julie. Loved sitting in the audience and hearing her forthright, pull-no-punches workshop, and we hit it off immediately.

Janelle I met through the Temptation Authors Loop and because she and Carly were already fast friends, when we all hooked up for the first time “face-to-face” at the Chicago RWA convention, all four of us just fell into this wonderful friendship. And that eventually became a working partnership.

Janelle: Okay, so now you all know how everyone met me . All stories are true, and I feel so lucky to have found such wonderful, loyal friends!

What happens on your plotting weekends?

Carly: Trouble :)

Julie: Yeah, well, there is the trouble. There’s also a great deal of eating, drinking and oh, yeah, plotting. Seriously, we each carve out about two hours of work time per person per book, and we generally each plot two books during our weekend. The rest of the time it’s room service, maybe a spa visit or just hanging out sipping mango margaritas and dishing about life and career. We’ve been known to download television shows, check out websites, sleep in. It’s good times.

Carly: Except that certain people who shall remain nameless snore. :)

Leslie: Oh, yes, lots of drinking and eating. I usually bring a bunch of elastic waist sweats and comfortable jammies because there are some days when we don’t even bother getting dressed. We lounge around wherever we want, turn on a tape recorder and just start talking about whoever’s project is “on the block.” Anything goes, no idea is too big or too small, and no one gets to be the boss of anyone else (though Julie tries. And, okay, sometimes I do, too.).

Really, it’s like your favorite memories of a childhood slumber party, only instead of talking about “real” boys and girls and who’s “going” with who, you’re talking about imaginary ones and helping each other build those stories.

Janelle: Our plotting weekends are filled with fun and food and gossip, and okay, some work, too. When the tape recorder is on, we’re plotting, but eventually end up off topic somehow, which can end up being really funny later when we’re listening to the tape and someone says something off the wall that has nothing to do with what we’re plotting.

Of course, we do take breaks occasionally. We had a blast In Las Vegas, where we all were celebrating our “40th” birthdays for the year. We went to Commander’s Palace for a martini lunch, and saw Elton John In concert. That was the year that the Plotmonkeys did Las Vegas, and you know what they say . . . what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

Where have you been on your weekends?

Carly: We try to alternate coasts because of Janelle being on the West coast, I’m Northeast, Julie and Les are Southeast.

Julie: Since Les and I are both in Florida (for the time
being, –sniff– ) we’ve been here twice. We’re trying to get to Savannah or some other sexy Southern town. So far, Vegas was my favorite.

Leslie: Well, other than screwed up room reservations and rats finishing off the room service food and thousands of teenagers, Disney was kinda fun, wasn’t it?

Janelle: Disney is always fun, but the rats were super-sized! Wherever we end up, we must have room service, since some days we don’t even make it out of our pajamas!

Carly: Disney was fun. A repeat trip since we did it a few years ago and actually it works so well. Extra junk food since Les and Julie live so close they can bring more chocolate! Chocolate is needed since we’re working so hard.

Julie: Geez, people! It’s the happiest place on earth! And I don’t think it was rats that ate the room service. It was raccoons. Rats don’t stick around and have a meal, they steal and scurry. I’m a huge Disney freak (and a Florida native, hence my expertise in rodents), so I love it at Disney. I’d go back in a heartbeat. But man, there was something about Vegas. I didn’t like plotting in New York. Too much pressure to do other “business” oriented things.

Leslie: Uh…Julie? Remember that big rat that ran across the sidewalk right in front of me?  And I somehow can’t see those stumpy-legged raccoons climbing up those cement steps. We barely made it ourselves with all the food, luggage and coolers…lol!  But it was still lots of fun and I’m a Disney freak, too. What are a few rats when you’re visiting the land of the Mouse?

Who brings the food?

Carly: Everyone but me. I like to go out.

Julie: Well, like I said, since Les & I are both in Florida, we loaded up for both of those trips. When Janelle flies in, I take her to this favorite Italian bakery of mine and we go a little nuts. Janelle did the shopping for Vegas, not that we needed much since the room service at the Bellagio is tres manifique!

Leslie: Let’s clarify–we’re talking JUNK food here. For the most part, that’s all we eat–last time I brought my new chocolate fondue pot. Of course, Carly does eat healthy cereal for breakfast usually–and for midnight snack. But chocolate suits the rest of us fine just about any time.

Janelle: The fondue pot was divine. So were the mango margaritas. No matter what, we always bring the essentials — chocolate for me, Julie, and Leslie, and Raisin Bran for Carly. That way, we’re all happy!

Carly: Actually, Janelle brings things cross-country that are sooo good. But cereal is my comfort food. I’ve been known to spend as much on a bowl of room service Special K or Raisin Bran and skim milk than for a filet mignon – and I take so much ribbing from the other monkeys

Who brings the drinks?

Carly: Again everyone but me. I drink diet coke and let the rest of them make fools of themselves ;)

Julie: Don’t let Carly fool you–I have a picture of her drinking a martini. Okay, sipping. But she had it in her hand. But it’s true, the other three of us are more lush-like. We like trying new concoctions. Leslie is famous for her pina colada, and I believe it was Janelle who brought buttery nipples into our lives. I’m the mango margarita girl.

Leslie: Carly’s not the only one who needs a Diet Coke fix. I can’t go an hour without one. And we don’t start on anything stronger until evening when all our brain cells are pretty well tapped out from working all day.

Janelle: Don’t forget about Carly’s hot tea. Remember our late night run to the store for tea bags? And another late night run to the hotel restaurant for a hot tea? And I think we’ve made a late night run for milk for her cereal, too! Sheesh, that Carly is soooo high maintenance!

And, I do have to say, that it’s always fun to plot after Julie has had a few drinks and the alcohol starts giving her a buzz. Man, talk about wild, off the wall ideas, LOL! There’s lots of laughing when that happens!

Julie: Hey–I resemble that remark. :)

Who gets time outs and why?

Carly: Julie because she can’t behave. One time we sent her to the bathroom.

Julie: Yeah, that would be me. I can’t help it. I’m a very passionate person.

Carly: She means stubborn. But in a helpful way. We couldn’t/wouldn‘t be the plotmonkeys without her!

Leslie: Yep. Julie. She’s so funny. Our fierce fighter.

Janelle: I’m sure we’ve all deserved a time out at one point or another. But it’s just so much fun to give Julie the distinction of being the time-out girl!

Julie: Good point. Next time, I’m using my teacher voice and sending someone else to time-out! Probably when I’m tipsy. Beware!

What odd things do you have in common?

Carly: We all have daughters only —

Julie: Isn’t that weird? Nary a boy among us. And it’s funny, but our husbands sort of match in a criss-cross way. Karen and I are both married to alpha guys who don’t know much or care much about our creative process, who would rather watch a ball game or play golf. Janelle and Leslie’s husbands are more into the creative process and actually understand what we’re doing on this weekend. So we each have a pal when it comes to
understanding the male of the species.

Leslie: We were all born in the same year. And while Janelle had a few romances published under another name, she did sell her first Janelle Denison book to the same editor that all the rest of us sold our first books to. Something else that’s kind of interesting about us–we really do complement each other’s strengths and compensate for the weaknesses. Julie and I can spin wild plots (and sometimes have to be reined in by Janelle & Carly when we go too far.) While Janelle and Carly can wring every last drop of emotion out of a story (while Julie and I silently mimic playing a dirge on the violin when they go too far).

Carly: And we have the audio tapes to prove it!

Janelle: What Leslie said is so true. We do complement each other so well. I couldn’t plot my way out of a paper bag, and I’m so grateful that Leslie and Julie can come up with such great plots. While we all started in series romance, writing for the same editor at Harlequin, we’ve all grown in our writing and branched out into single titles, where we’re each carving out our own niche in the genre. We are each other’s biggest supporters. We share in each other’s successes, and we help each other through tough times. We have the kind of friendship that is rare and priceless in this business.

Julie: I think a shout-out to Brenda Chin belongs right here. If not for her, we never would have met. Or possibly not precisely the way we did. Thanks, B!

Who are the TV addicts? Who relies on TiVo?

Carly: We all know I’m the TV addict. I watch everything under the sun starting on Monday with Prison Break and 24 and going straight through till Sunday night with Grey’s Anatomy.

Julie: Carly has left out her General Hospital addiction, which I share. But she watches real time and I watch on TiVo, so sometimes I have to run to the television and turn it on when she says something good is happening. Of course, there have been many times that she’s called me, and I’m weeping on the other end of the line and only she knows why! Leslie has tried to get me hooked on Lost and honestly, I would be if she could sit with me every Wednesday night and tell me what’s happening. I love when we’re out of town together and she does that. It’s fun!

Carly: Lost rocks. Les and I downloaded an episode on my laptop and watched during a plotting weekend while Julie and Janelle napped!

Leslie: And yes, I’m addicted to a few specific shows, including Lost, as well as Grey’s Anatomy, 24, Boston Legal and CSI. It says a lot about how much I love Lost that I watched that episode with Carly since I’d already seen it–and since naps are among my favorite things.

Janelle: Hey, my naptime is sacred. I have my favorite shows (Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Boston Legal, and my guilty pleasure, America’s Next Top Model), but I’m definitely not a TV addict. I’m not devastated if I miss an episode. However, being an Internet addict is a different story, LOL! I can spend (i.e. waste) hours surfing the Internet!

Do you have any more questions for Carly, Julie, Leslie or Janelle? Send an email and we’ll work them in–eventually!