Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Travel! Now that I’m retired (26 years as a public school educator!), my husband and I plan to do a lot more. I also enjoy hiking, snowmobiling, deep sea fishing, attending plays/musicals/symphony, visiting museums, watching college football, reading, and baking.
What types of movies/music do you enjoy?
I love political thrillers, art house films, foreign films, and romcoms, but not/never horror. I am a certified binge-watcher and can spend hours watching an entire TV series from start to finish. I’m also a lifelong fan of British television, (stretching all the way back to the 1970s, watching Upstairs/Downstairs with my mom when I was about six).
As far as music, I love a little bit of everything – from Vivaldi to Lizzo.
I think the 70s produced the BEST music across a wide array of genres. I will die on this hill.
Do you have a specific writing ritual and/or schedule you stick with?
I’m a night writer! Well, more of a “late afternoon/early evening writer.” I like to sleep in, so you’ll never see me at the #5amwritersclub. Also, I’m a big “shower writer.” I do some of my very best thinking and compose some of my best dialogue in the shower–no idea why! I also write when the mood strikes. I have never been a “I-must-write-X-number-of-words-a-day” type person. I might knock out a few thousand words in a day…and then go weeks before I write another word. I can’t force it if it’s not there. I do listen to music while I write – and love creating playlists for my work.
Of all the characters you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
Author confession: I almost always end up liking my secondary characters more than my protags. Is that weird? My novel, PERFECT, centers on a married couple (Rebecca and Will), but Rebecca’s ex-husband and Will’s sister are my favorite characters. Rebecca’s ex, Kelly, just melts me. Even though he’s not the main character, he’s impactful. Then there’s Will’s sister, Georgia. She was so much fun to write. Georgia has no filter, so I just let her say all the things. I’m really proud of her character too.
Do you allow your characters to dictate their paths or do you plot out everything?
I’m 100% a Panster, which can be so painful at times. I wish I could be one of those writers who map everything out in advance, but I’ve just never done it that way. I have no idea what my characters are going to do. Case in point: in my current WIP (a Romcom), my MC, Elena, had an impulsive make-out session with a guy she just met IN FRONT OF THE GUY SHE REALLY LIKES! I was shocked! Will she regret it later? We shall see!
Does research play a big part in your writing schedule?
Doesn’t every author have a crazy, wackadoo Google search history?? I know I do! I am big on details, and will thus spend an hour scouring the internet for one little tidbit that will probably mean nothing to readers. It’s easy to get sidetracked by internet rabbit holes. I haven’t met an author yet who hasn’t.
What are some challenges you face as an author that are not directly related to the actual task of writing?
Marketing! Trying to keep up with social media is always a struggle. Finding a balance between book content and non-book content is difficult. I am excited and passionate about my bookish life, but don’t want to turn friends/followers off. I make no apologies during a book launch though. I WILL be spamming you with all the things!
Another thing that’s really hard is saying no when someone asks me to take a look at their work. I am unable to give feedback to family/friends - BUT! I am happy to share resources - names of editors, book coaches, etc, to better assist you. At the end of the day, I’m just a writer, not an editor, and have to utilize these resources myself when the time comes.
Are there any other works in progress that you’d like to hint about?
I gave a tiny hint in a previous question. My current WIP is called THE GUEST HOUSE. Prima ballerina Elena Cameron is forced to sell her family’s vast estate after learning her deceased mother, acclaimed author Evelyn Brett, squandered her millions and died penniless. Wanting desperately to hang on to a piece of her childhood home, Elena jokingly offers to buy back the guest house. She’s beyond shocked when the new owner, the mysterious Mr. Spencer, enthusiastically accepts her offer.
If your favorite author (past or present) invited you for dinner to discuss writing, who would that be and what one question would you ask him/her?
I have to go back to the woman who started it all and made me a lifelong reader – the incomparable Judy Blume! Just to be in my Queen’s presence would be a dream. I honestly can see myself going blank and completely stumbling over my words. I think I would say, "tell me all the things!” and then just sit back and listen.
Are you available to speak at book clubs?
Yes, absolutely! I love talking with book clubs--not just about story specifics, but about the writing process and publishing in general. Also, talking to readers helps make me a better writer! I'm available for in-person events in the Houston area or can join by Zoom for those who live outside Harris County.
What words of wisdom would you give up-and-coming new writers?
Give yourself grace. The current state of publishing is tougher than it’s ever been. Also, there are many paths to publishing – find what works for YOU.
If you’re pursuing a traditional publishing path, be careful not to query literary agents too soon. I have queried agents with projects that were not ready when I naively thought they were.
If you’re thinking about writing a book but don’t know where to start, see if you can find a writers group in your area.
Join the #WritingCommunity on Twitter/Hive/Mastodon/etc! You will connect with authors all over the world who will love you, champion you, and send you hilarious vids/GIFs/memes when you’re having a bad day!