Harlequin October Spotlight…Q&A & 10 Steps to Publishing by Elle James, author of High Country Hideout



High Country Hideout Synopsis:

Last hope or second chance?

Ranching was Angus Ketchum’s first love — until his last tour of duty shattered that dream. The wounded ex-soldier gets his second chance when he’s recruited to go undercover to protect a widowed ranch owner. But from the moment he meets Reggie Davis, Angus can tell holding on to her land and keeping her young son safe is taking its toll. Especially when someone threatens her livelihood and her life. As the attacks escalate, Angus must rely on his combat skills to keep Reggie and her boy alive. And he must rely on his commitment to the mission to keep their powerful attraction in check.

Q&A with Elle James – High Country Hideout

  •  What compelled you to start writing the Covert Cowboys Inc series?

I love cowboys. They are strong, have a terrific work-ethic, loyal and fight for justice. I also wanted to give men who were down a second chance to make a difference. So, I created a man with money who’d experienced tragedy, was a cowboy and wanted to make a difference and put him on the road to recruiting cowboys who needed another chance. Love this series and the heroes within!


  • Can you bring us up to speed with the characters in High Country Hideout?

Angus Ketchum was first and foremost a cowboy. When he was wounded in the war, he didn’t think he could ever again do the things he loved until Hank Derringer hired him to protect a ranch owner in Colorado. Reggie Davis is a determined mother, rancher and provider for her young son. Widowed early on, she’s fighting to protect her son’s heritage. But someone is trying to drive her off her ranch. She needs help.


  • What are some of your favorite suspense books/television shows?

For thrillers and suspense, I love books by Tami Hoag, Robert Crais, Clive Cussler and James Patterson. I enjoy watching Castle, 24 and Longmire. As for movies, give me James Bond, Bourne Identity and Mission Impossible. The bigger the action, the better. I also like to watch action adventure like Sahara, Tomb Raider, Romancing the Stone and National Treasure. Give me a movie with Daniel Craig and I’m there!


  • What is one thing that you absolutely need while writing?

I’m really trying to cut back, but I’m a Diet Dr. Pepper fan and I need my cup of ice and Diet Dr. Pepper before I can start for the day. I can write at my office desk or with my laptop. Where I write doesn’t matter as long as I have uninterrupted time. I can’t play music, or I sing along, which is not conducive to my word-count. But I do like to have my muses (Chewy, the Yorkie and Sweetpea, the malti-poo) settled in the doggie beds behind me, sleeping peacefully. They keep me sane and give me unconditional love.


  • If you could fan cast Angus and Reggie, which actors would you choose?

Charlize Theron because she can be so tough and so tender and sensuous.

Mark Wahlberg for Angus, because he’s tough and can work his way through any hardship. Loved him in Lone Survivor!


  • What was the first romance novel that you ever read?

I can’t remember a specific book because I started reading romance when I was thirteen. Mom would bring home bags of Harlequins from the library. I read all summer. I can remember loving historicals by Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer. I liked all subgenres within romance because I could escape into another world and come out satisfied with a happy ending.


  • Without giving away too much, what’s your favorite scene in High Country Hideout?

I always love the big bad, final scene where you think everything is lost and the characters won’t come out alive. The situation is intense, the emotions run high. My fingers fly across the keyboard during those scenes!


  • What’s the best response you’ve ever received from a fan?

I love it when I go to book signings and a fan comes up to me all excited and jumping up and down. I always look behind me, thinking she’s excited about another author. When she says she loves my books, I take it as a huge compliment and give big hugs. Makes my day!


  • Do you have any author conferences or book signings in the near future?

I’ll be at the KallypsoCon in Nashua, New Hampshire Oct 28-31. This is a really small conference dedicated to military romances. Readers are welcome to come spend some one-on-one time with seven military romance authors.


  • What are you working on next?

I’m writing fast and furious on SEAL Captive, my April 2016 Harlequin Intrigue. It’s based in Cancun where some of my SEAL team is on vacation. Those poor men can’t catch a break! Where they go, trouble follows. Be sure to stay tuned for Sawyer’s story!



By Elle James


  1. Perform Voodoo chants over every manuscript before mailing.
  2. Invest in a lucky rabbit’s foot (not so lucky for the rabbit who lost it)
  3. Type with your fingers crossed
  4. Have your mother read and critique your manuscript as your final round before mailing and be sure to mention your mother loved it in your query letter
  5. During your pitch, or in your query letter, impress the editor with your numerous educational degrees
  6. Tell your prospective editor that you can’t possibly change your story, it’s perfect as is
  7. Whenever your meet an acquiring editor or agent, genuflect (drop to the floor and kiss her feet)
  8. Threaten the editor with vile curses if she doesn’t buy your manuscript
  9. Learn the secret handshake (no one knows it)
  10. Stalk your dream editor into a bathroom stall and refuse to let her out until she reads your manuscript



  1. Write. It’s as simple as that. If you want to succeed in publishing, you have to write. Sounds silly, right? Some people write one book and work for years to sell that one book. Write the book and move on to the next one. Keep writing.
  2. Critique groups – join a critique group that fits you. It might take a few tries to find one with which you gel. You want honest, constructive feedback and you have to have a thick skin. You need feedback to improve. Don’t take criticism personally.
  3. Learn – Read books on how to write and how to publish. Take online classes. Go to a writers’ conference with fabulous workshops on how to write, publish and market your books.
  4. Writing organizations – Join one. Preferably one set on actually publishing, not a social group. Sit at tables with people who’ve been around the block. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  5. Friends – Make friends with people who are starting out. (It’s always fun to grow together.)
  6. Contests – Enter contests for feedback—not to win. Remember what I said about feedback?
  7. Persistence – Be fearlessly persistent. If you want this, you will work hard and keep working hard. It can become an obsession. Commit to the goal and keep writing.
  8. Submit – You must submit your work to an editor, an agent, a critique group, a reader in order to sell. You have to be willing to put your ‘baby’ out there. Be fearless.
  9. Revise – your first draft is just that—a first draft. Go through again and again to polish your words and sentences. Look for dropped threads, passive voice, anything that will pull the reader out of your story. And revise again. But be careful you don’t rewrite the book into oblivion or that you revise for years and don’t move on to writing the next book.
  10. Write! Write! Write! The more your write, the more feedback you receive, the better you get.


                                             ~ Thanks for stopping by, Elle!  Jillian



About the author:

Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin. As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!

Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.


  1. Love the interview and love Elle James. I think her casting for the movie is perfect!

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