Did you like to read as a child? From the moment I cracked open, ‘Fun with Dick and Jane,’ sitting around the rug in kindergarten, I was hooked. It was defining moment that opened up a whole world of possibilities. Since then I have been a voracious reader.
Have you ever had a writing class? It wasn’t so much a writing class, as it was a college level basic English class. At the urging of my critique partners whom thought it would help me to learn when and how to use commas and understand more about sentence structure. Laugh if you must, but to this day I still have to question, ‘What?’ when someone tells me I have a dangling participle. And commas? I put them in and my editor takes them out. But by the end of the semester I did walk away with the insight that writing in first person wasn’t as easy as it looked.
How did you learn how to write romance fiction?
A lot of what I learned, I learned from going to writing conferences where a lot of my favorite authors – like Sharon Sala, Suzanne Brockman, Julia Quinn gave workshops on the nuts and bolts of story telling. I learned about deepening my characters, adding in layers of emotion, how to make my dialogue sparkle. Over the years (and believe there have been many) I’ve learned too many things to list from the generous authors who have been kind enough to share their knowledge.
Do you have a writing routine?
I write every day now that my children are grown. Some days it comes easier than others. I write fast and furious while it’s flowing until I get to a place where I don’t know what the characters are going to do next, then I leave the computer to think. I come back when I’ve figured out the next step and start again. I do my most productive work late at night, and most always with music cranking through my headphones.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. The news, news papers/ magazines, music. I’ve had entire plots unfold from a single line in a song. My story in the Love and Silver Bells anthology, ‘A Soldiers Heart,’ came from an episode I saw on the history channel about soldiers who had PTSD. Back in World War One there wasn’t a name for it, so they termed it ‘a soldiers heart’. When I saw the episode on the history channel, I knew exactly who my heroine was and the entire plot unfolded.
How much research goes into your books?
I do just enough to make my details believable unless I need something specific. Like what kind of sickness I can give to a heard of cattle to make them sick but not kill them. Or what the inside of the White House looks like at Christmas time. I try and make the setting like a character and use the five senses to make it real.
When you start a new book, which comes first – the characters or the plot?
Once I know the topic for my next project ie: A Christmas story, pirates, western or a time travel, etc. I start thinking about the characters. Most of what I write is contemporary so for me, finding the right name for each character figures into who they are, where they come from, and what kind of personality they have. I make lists of names and narrow them down for each character until I have the right combination. By the time I’m done, I usually have a very clear picture of the character, the conflict and how the story will unfold.
Do you plot everything out in advance, or just let it flow?
I’m what’s termed a ‘panster’. I let it flow. I’ve tried plotting. I still buy books and take workshops on plotting hoping one day something will pop for me that will work with the way my brain works. No luck yet. The one story I fully plotted, I never wrote. When I got to the end I felt I’d cheated, as if I’d skimmed through all the good stuff, and since I knew how it ended there was no point in writing it.
What do you enjoy reading these days? Science Fiction, Romantic suspense, certain types of paranormals, and lately I’ve been reading some of the hotter romances. But they have to have a seriously dynamite plot, and the intimacy between the hero and heroine has to be a product of the plot and not just a window dressing.
I love hearing from readers – you’re the reason I do what I do. It may take me a few weeks, especially when a deadline is hovering on the horizon, but I personally answer every email I receive. Use the contact form to say hello and/or to share your thoughts on my books.