My official bio will tell you that I write Contemporary Romance, I grew up in Maryland, and I started my writing career after my youngest started school full time. All true things. Unofficially I will add that said writing career began at the age of 10 with some Grade A terrible poetry. It’s cute that I’ve wanted to be a writer all my life, but seriously guys, it was some bad stuff.
I’m addicted to big black buggy sunglasses, screamy man bands, and 30 minute sitcoms. I like Pinterest, but I love naps. Naps always win. I raise kids and kill plants on a daily basis. I begin every day with a cup of hot tea and end every night with a scoop of ice cream. It’s the way life should be.
Tell us about your latest book.
Rising Ridge is a New Adult novel about a 20 year old girl who grew up in a small town feeling out of place. She sets her sights on New York City, and is comfortably living the dream when she is called home after her parents are killed. This book is the story that unfolds when she returns home and finds that she can run as far as she wants to, but it’s the boy next door who’s had her heart this whole time. Sadly, he’s never seemed to want it.
What do you have coming out in the future?
The Dreamer comes out in August, and I am so excited! It’s a bit different from the sweet New Adult romance of Rising Ridge. The characters are older, their experiences richer, and there are elements of magic and mystery. You will meet a woman who has an odd super power, which enables her to see the best and the worst of people. She meets a man who is haunted by his past, and unsure of his future. Worlds collide when a mystery red head enters both their lives, and buried nightmares bring the truth to light.
Is your book a stand-alone or a series?
Rising Ridge is a stand-alone book that follows the life, loss, and love of Olivia Reynolds. In the process of writing the book, I accidentally fell in love with a supporting character. While I have no plans of bringing more of his story to the page, I did leave the door cracked just a bit in case I ever change my mind.
Why romance and what makes your particular brand of romance special?
I really enjoy the romance genre because it is such a diverse genre. There will be a blog entitled “Paperback Writer” on my own website in June that delves more into this topic because there is a lot to say on the subject of writing romance.
I can write mystery, I can write paranormal, I can write historical, or steampunk, or science fiction. I can be in this world or another, and my characters can be human or they can be immortal.
With Romance, there are no limits.
I’ve written Contemporary because that’s where these characters were found in my mind, but that may not always be the case. I enjoy reading contemporary because it gives me the break I need from a very demanding world. A happy little love story in the middle of the madness.
Is romance the only genre that you write in or do you write in other genres? If so what other genres do you write in?
My husband keeps hoping that I will write the next psychotic thriller as he says that he is sure I could create the perfect storm of insanity. I don’t know if that’s a compliment, or a cry for help.
I like the love aspect of it. I like the idea that no matter what the world throws at these two people they are going to hold on to each other. I like having a person be THE ONLY person that will do. I doubt I will ever leave the romance field, but never say never. I may one day find that perfect psychotic thriller.
I’m a people watcher. I absolutely love to imagine in my mind how and why people have gotten to *this moment* in their lives. I listen to a lot of music, and can always find exactly what I need to hear. Very recently, I came across a song I just knew I would write my next book around. I will be starting that book this summer. Inspiration can come from the deepest broken parts of me, or just a simple daydream on a warm sunny day.
What authors inspire your writing?
All hail the queen of the Romance Novels, Nora Roberts. And I mean that with all my heart. A lot of writers inspire me. Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Ernest Hemmingway, Lucy Maud Montgomery (seriously, how can you be a 13 year old girl and NOT be inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery). Harper Lee, Sue Monk Kidd, Elizabeth Gilbert… the list can go on and on. I feel like, every time I pick up a good book, inevitably I have learned something from that writer. I just recently read a book by Amy Schisler, and coveted the way she described the rain. THE RAIN. I am but a student of all of these people.
They aren’t traditional novelists but I will mention Joss Whedon and the late Nora Ephron. They are somewhat directly responsible for my impossibly high standards on what I find funny.
How have your real life experiences influenced your writing?
In all the best ways, I hope. There are moments where the people who love me the most will fine ME on the page. Something I’ve said, or done in real life. There are moments where they will find themselves on the page, because their actions inspired me. In those moments, it really is art imitating life. I had the experience first, and through that, this creative moment was born.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
What do I like to do? Nap. Sit outside on a warm day. Be lazy by a pool. Listen to music. Travel. Watch the shows I would never admit that I watch. Be successful at a craft project or cooking. Hang out with my friends with good food and a glass of wine.
What do I actually do? The sports, the playdates, the birthday parties, the school events, the Scout events, the church events, the town events. My only crossover success from the likes to do list is my neighborhood famous chocolate chip cookies, and the fact that I get to see my awesome friends at all of these events because they are as impossibly busy as I am. We stand at these events, eat these cookies, and talk about the fact that we should hang out sometime.
What was your road to publishing like? Tell us about it.
It was a long one, and a short one all at the same time. I toyed with the idea of writing a book when I was 19. I wrote 45 pages, basically a scene in my mind. Then I put it away for no reason at all for about 10 years. I broke it back out one afternoon on a whim, and turned those 45 pages into 45,000 words. At the end of it, I knew two things to be true; I wasn’t ready, and 44,999 of those words were crap because I wasn’t ready. I put it away again.
After another two years, I was standing on the playground and I met this other mom. We struck up a conversation because I was moving into the neighborhood and she was moving out. I saw her again at a party, and as one does I asked her what she did for a living. She very humbly said she was a writer and after I expressed interest in being a writer, she gave me her card. She just happened to be a USA Today Award Winning Novelist. And no matter where I go in my life, no matter what success I do or do not have, I will tell you it would not have happened without her encouragement. SHE made it real for me. She so very kindly gave me solid advice on starting my career. I made it my New Years resolution to write my book. By September, I had Rising Ridge. The only thing that remained the same of the entire story from that first original book was the main character’s name. I told you, 44,999 words were crap. The one, Olivia, could stay. I did manage to work in the IDEA behind those first 45 pages, as a tribute to my 19 year old self. By October I had a complete book, a website, social media up and running, and had gotten myself into the RWA. I started taking workshops. I attended meetings. I checked out every book on publishing I could find. As that year wrapped up, I stood at the annual holiday party among writers that I have read and loved for years with my published book and my Debut Author award in hand. From the outside looking in, I popped up overnight on the web and announced that not only had I written a book but it would be on stands December 1. I am no different from any other overnight success story….because we’re all really two decades in the making.
Promoting a book is harder for me. For the world to know you exist, you have to speak loudly. To the people closest to you, it can be deafening. But they love, and they support…even when they see the same request for honest reviews on amazon a dozen times a week on Facebook. BTW, I still need two Amazon reviews to hit my goal if anyone wants to get on that ;)
What is your absolute favorite book or books and why is it special to you?
I think Anne of Green Gables. It was the first book that ever had me imagining what it might be like to be the character. Even as a grown adult, I still get dreamy about being in Anne’s squad.
Have you won any awards for your writing?
I received an award from the RWA for being a Debut Author. Though it speaks nothing of my work, it speaks volumes for an organization who recognizes that being brave enough to put yourself out there as a win.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Editing. HANDS DOWN.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
Going along with the characters and what they’ve come up with as a plan for the book. What they want to do, or say. Or even when characters show up that I had no plans of. I just have to write down what they are doing or saying. When they have their own ideas, take charge of their own fates….it’s so much easier for me.
Which of your characters is your favorite and why?
In Rising Ridge?
Rohan. I fell in love with him when he took Olivia out for pizza. I mean, he’s sexy and smart, and he encourages you to pursue your dreams. He’s level headed and sees the world as a place of possibilities. He’s a bad boy, but he’s a good man.
How would you describe your writing style?
I tend to be dialog heavy because it’s easier to let the characters do the talking. They’ve got plenty to say.
Do you have a careful plan when plotting your stories or do you just go with the flow?
I’ve done both and found that plotting is much easier for me. It gives me a sense of freedom to play around with a chapter because I know where it came from and I know where it’s going. That said, I listen to my characters. If they change their minds, I will make adjustments.
What is your favorite quote?
Be still, and know that I am.
Yup, that’s right…I just quoted God. And not in the flowery every little thing is going to be alright sort of way. It comes to me more like “Sit down & shut up. I’ve got this, kid.”
Wild Card Question.
Q: “What is your ultimate goal in writing?”
A: To have somebody else want desperately to hang out with all of my imaginary friends. That would be awesome.
August 9, 2016