Do you plan much before starting a novel?
I’m more of a pantster – I fly by the seat of my pants. And each book begins differently. For Rescuing Lacey, I started with a scene that occurs about a third into the book. The scene was based on an actual experience my husband and I had while on a trip to Costa Rica. After I figured out why the heroine was there, what was at stake, and what role the hero played in her journey, Rescuing Lacey grew in both directions from that scene. With Dreams of Perfection, I started with a premise: What would happen if a romance writer’s hero actually came to life, a la Pygmalion. This quickly turned into the Dreams Come True Series, when I realized two other characters in the book deserved their own stories. The second book, Ship of Dreams, and the third and final book in the series, Dreams of Her Own, are available now.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Of the books you've read, which three have impacted you the most?
Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Shanna, because it not only sparked my love of reading, it ignited my dream to write (see my bio); Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, because of its enduring resonance; and The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise, because I think theirs is history’s most romantic and passionate true love story.
What's your writing day like?
Since I currently have a day job as an Assistant Director of Research for a major research university, writing time is usually in the evenings or on the weekends. When I get an entire day to write, I’m overjoyed. I’m a bit OCD, so I have to have all my chores completed before I can concentrate on my writing. Once they’re done, I settle in, either at my writing desk or in my favorite chair in the sunroom, with my MacBook. Before I start adding words, I read back through the previous scene or chapter, tweaking as I go. This also pulls me back into the story, into whatever mood I was creating before I stopped writing. Then I follow where the characters take me. And sometime they take me in a different direction than I had planned. But that's what makes writing so much fun for me. Sometimes I get so immersed in my writing that I forget to eat. That's when I know I'm on the right track.
Do you edit as you go?
I do edit as I go. Many authors say you should just get the story out — finish it — but I prefer to edit as I go. When I recently finished Ship of Dreams, I had a fairly clean manuscript, so all it took before I turned it in to my editor was some tweaks and polishing. I like that. I think I’d be overwhelmed if I finished a book then had to go through it again and do wholesale revisions.
I also research as I go. I made the mistake with the first book I wrote, The Promise of Change, of spending hours on research that I never used. Again, many authors say not to stop the flow of words to do research — just put in a space-saver — but I often find that when I stop to do a little research I run across something that triggers an idea for the story. Sometimes that research may prompt my characters to take a different fork in the road.
The bottom line is, there’s no right process and no wrong process, there’s only the process that works for you.
Do you have any writing rituals?
See "Writing Day" above. I reread what I’ve written in the previous writing session. But I also like to settle in with a big glass of iced tea (writing is thirsty work) and my earbuds (to listen to my writing mix). I prefer large chunks of writing time. The longer I spend at one session, the better the words flow.
What's your favorite word?
That question makes me think of the movie The Glass Slipper, a musical adaptation of Cinderella, starring Leslie Caron. Her fairy godmother loved the words ‘windowsill,’ ‘elbow,’ ‘apple dumpling,’ and ‘pickle relish.’ My editor would say my favorite word is ‘look’ and all its iterations (I have to do a word search and change them as the final step in the editing and polishing process). I love multi-syllabic words so I’d have to say my favorite word is ‘kerfuffle.’
What three things would you want with you on a deserted island?
Hmm. Iced tea (see above), my copy of Pride and Prejudice, and lip balm. What can I say? It’s an addiction.
What song best describes you?
Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten.”
How important is it to write something every day?
I wish I could say I write every day, but the truth is, I don’t always get to. With a demanding full time job, a non-profit foundation that my husband and I founded, and all the other family and community commitments, it’s difficult. Having said that, a day doesn’t go by that I’m not thinking about my work-in-progress, hearing conversations in my head between the characters, and untangling any problems I’m encountering in the story. My iPhone Notes app is filled with these thoughts, so when I do get to sit down with the manuscript again I’m ready to go.
What five tips do you have for new writers?
1. Read novels similar to the ones you want to write.
3. Read books about the craft of writing.
How can I stay up-to-date on book releases?
Easy, you can:
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
If not requiring sleep -- like a vampire -- is a superpower, that’s the one I want. Oh, the things I could get done if I only didn’t require sleep. ( :