On yourself and your background - Where you were born, how old you are, where you live, how did your upbringing affect you becoming a writerI was born and raised in Indiana. After graduating from Ball State University, I went on a short vacation to Key Largo, Florida. It felt like a completely different world than Indiana. While there, I attended a beautiful underwater wedding and fell in love with the Keys lifestyle. I didn’t come home from that quick vacation. Instead, I got a job at a scuba diving shop and lived down there for 2.5 years. During that time, I met my husband. We like to joke that we got hot one day and decided to move to Maine to cool off. It wasn’t quite that simple, but our move up the coast did happen rather fast. We lived in picturesque Maine for about 5 years. Once we started talking about having children, I decided I wanted to be closer to home, so we moved back to Indiana and have stayed here ever since.
On your history with writing, self-confidence, and overcoming fear - When did you start seriously thinking you’d become an author? Did you always enjoy writing?I’m an only child, so I spent a lot of time playing alone. I think this is a big part of what helped develop my vivid imagination. I was always creating characters and stories in my mind, but I didn’t start writing them down (outside of school assignments), until I was in my forties. Sometimes, I wish I’d started earlier, but that evidently wasn’t my path. The ease of self-publishing made writing and publishing a book a no-brainer. I never dreamed that my writing would sell, but I had stories to tell, and I wanted to put them out there in the world. Making a living from my writing is an absolute dream come true!
On What/Who inspires you to createMy dreams and daydreams spark many storyline ideas. Some of my characters come from real life, but I always change the names and specific details to protect the innocent. Occasionally, I’ll be watching television or a movie and a scene for my current project will fall into place in my mind. When the words refuse to flow, I take a break. Once I close my laptop and get busy with something else, the solution normally comes to me out of the blue. Then I scramble for a piece of paper to jot it down before I forget.
On finding your ideasMany of my ideas come to me in the shower or right before I fall asleep. Many ideas have been lost because I was sure I would remember them in the morning, but didn’t. Now I grab my phone and email myself, so I don’t lose any great thoughts.
On your goals as an author, what does literary success look like to you?My goals have changed over time. I started out just wanting to see that first book published online and in print. Now, my goal is to have fifty books published. Once I hit that, I’ll up it to a hundred. I used to want to sign a deal with a big publishing house, but now that I’ve had a couple of my books with publishers, I’ve found that I like the flexibility and control of self-publishing. I used to want to hit the Top 100 paid list in the Amazon store. Since I’ve done that a few times, I would love to shoot for the Top 50 paid list. I used to want to become a USA Today bestselling author. Now that I’ve hit that goal, I’ve set my sights on becoming a New York Times bestselling author. Audiobooks have been a big goal of mine for the past couple of years. I want to have all of my books in audio, and I’m almost there. I just have a few more books from my backlist to go, then I’ll be able to publish the audio in tandem with my new books going forward.
On your motherly/fatherly intuitions or wisdomAs a mother, I want my children to be safe, happy, and kind. As long as they’re all of those things, I’ll consider myself a successful parent.
On your charitable initiatives or charities, you admireI love giving to our regional Make a Wish Foundation. Sick kids touch my heart in a deep and meaningful way, so I feel compelled to help in any way I can.
On creative outlets you enjoy besides writingFor creative outlets, other than writing, I turned to puzzles during quarantine. I’ve also joined the adult coloring book fad. It really is strangely calming.
On your genre(s) your write in and whyI write all romance, all the time. I vary between sweet contemporary, steamy contemporary, new adult, erotic, rom-com, and paranormal, but books (other than nonfiction) need to have a romance in them for me to be interested in writing or reading them. I write in the romance genre because the world needs more happily ever afters.
On your approach to character developmentI write characters I love by making sure they are people I would enjoy reading about. They are flawed and realistic––they almost become real to me as I’m writing. Sounds crazy, I know. But it’s so rewarding to write a redemption character arc for someone who would be a close friend if they could somehow leap off the pages.
On crafting a story, your writing processI’m what is called a ‘plantser’ when it comes to my writing process while writing a story. I plan ahead with a brief outline of the plot points, then I forge ahead by the seat of my pants––often veering away from the plan, depending on where the characters take me. Usually, the final story is very close to the outline, but sometimes it takes me completely by surprise.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?I don’t have any unpublished or half-finished books, other than my current work in progress. I have many outlines and half-baked ideas, but once I sit down and start writing a story, I feel compelled to see it through to the end.
On your advice for aspiring authorsMy advice for aspiring authors is very simple… sit down and write. I heard a quote a while back that really resonated with me about not being able to edit a blank page. Anything can be fixed in later drafts unless you haven’t written anything at all. Write something, even if it’s wrong. Get words on the page and let the magic flow!
On your favorite stories, books, and authors as a childAs a child I loved reading all of the Little House on the Prairie books, as well as Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High. Oh, and anything from the Scholastic Book Fair. Wow, I used to love getting books from that.
On writing wisdom, if you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?I would tell my younger self to start writing and not allow anything to convince me to stop. In my early years, I lacked confidence, so one bad review would have derailed my writing plans. I’ve always found it easier to believe the criticism than the praise. I still struggle with this, but force myself to forge on.
On branding yourself as a writer, what would you choose as your mascot, avatar, or spirit animal?My spirit animal is definitely a big, lazy, and lovable Newfoundland dog. I write with two of them snoring beside me at all times.
On what’s keeping you sane during these crazy timesWriting is definitely what’s keeping me sane during these crazy times. I’m lucky to have a job that I can do from home. The characters in my head are great company as I work to write their stories. Oh, and I’ve also been known to read late into the night or binge-watch shows on Netflix to let someone else’s characters entertain me for a while.
On your favorite books, stories, essays, poems, articles, you’ve writtenIt’s hard to pick a favorite book that I’ve written. That’s almost like trying to decide who my favorite child or pet is. My favorite dog is Rocky, by the way. Please don’t tell Cheerio, although it works out fine because she is my hubby’s favorite pet. I guess my favorite book is the one I’m currently writing at any given time because they are the characters talking the loudest in my head.
On developing an online presence and/or what’s been the best way to market your books?I’ve taken numerous courses on book marketing and tried just about every book promotion site available with varying degrees of success. I truly think the best marketing for books is simply word-of-mouth advertising. If you read a book that you love, tell someone about it, who you think will enjoy it. Recommendations from friends or new books from authors I already love are how I usually decide what to read next.
On working with Findaway VoicesFindaway Voices has been fantastic to work with. They offer an easy, inexpensive solution for getting audiobooks available with as many outlets as possible. They listen to feedback, find creative solutions to problems, and seem genuinely interested in helping their authors and narrators grow their audiobook market.
On why you love the power of audiobooks and stories heardAudio is such a wonderful medium because it gives people a more flexible way to read. Suddenly, people who didn’t think they had time to read are able to listen to books while commuting, cleaning, exercising, etc. Listening to a talented narrator perform the book also adds a layer of enjoyment and immersion into the story that traditional reading doesn’t provide.
Do you Google yourself?Occasionally, I Google myself to make sure my website and profiles are easy to find and in the top search results.
Don’t think about it, what’s the first thing that comes to mind:
- What is one thing you can’t live without? Tea.
- Favorite musical artist at the moment? I enjoy looking at and listening to Nick Jonas.
- Cats or dogs or others? Dogs––huge ones.
- Favorite place you’ve traveled to? Hawaii.
- Place you want to travel to? Australia.
- Early-bird, day or night-owl? Early-bird, once I’m up. I don’t like getting out of bed, but I do my best work in the morning, after tea.
- What’s your favorite local restaurant? Pizza King. They grind their toppings into little pieces and cut the pizza into small squares.
- What’s your go-to late-night snack? Pirate’s Booty.
- A favorite program that you’ve binge-watched? Bridgerton. Twice. Okay, three times.
- What are you currently reading? A Season of Miracles by Heather Graham because I’m super excited to be in a holiday boxed set with her this year, and I’m totally fangirling.
- If you could speak a new language, what would it be and why? Spanish because my daughter is taking it in school, and I would like to be able to chat with her.
- If you could be another author, who would it be and why? Janet Evanovich because her Stephanie Plum series is hilarious, and she has been able to keep that love triangle going for so many books. She’s a true, rare talent.