Okay, inquiring minds want to know…why a writer? Certainly not for the fame and fortune…or maybe it is?
Some of my best friends are in books. That may be a slight exaggeration, but my parents were grade school teachers, my mother had me reading before I started school, and I’ve been a reader all my life. It was a natural step to go from reading stories to wanting to create my own. The next natural step came in wanting to create stories others would enjoy. Because I taught English at the university level, my whole adult life has been in words.
When did you first put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to create your classic and cozy characters?
I started my first book when I was nine. It was called Buff, The Proud Stallion, a rip-off of Black Beauty. I wrote with a huge round pencil on a yellow legal pad and I produced eight whole pages! For fifth grade career day, I declared my ambition to become "a rich and famous author." Decades later, I’m delighted to have achieved the "author" portion of that goal and realistic enough to know "rich and famous" may never come. That’s fine with me. Fame has a down side, which I’m exploring in my newest book. I love writing about all kinds of people from every career and background. It's one way to live many lives at once.
Do you have a set writing schedule?
Yes and no. I still have a day job, so like many authors, I have to make time around the obligations of work, family, and normal life. I’m part of an author group called the “100 words a day challenge” and each day I report how many words I’ve added to my current work in progress. That keeps the project fresh in my mind. Then I use Stephen Covey’s approach to scheduling by the week instead of by the day. When I look ahead at my week and see a blank, I block it out as writing time. Because the work is always fresh, I know exactly where I’m going when I sit down.
Is there a certain routine, food/drink, or location that summons forth the muses for you?
Not really. I have a place where I work and I always sit down with a full glass of ice water. That puts my brain in working mode. The muse usually comes when I’m listening to the news, watching a movie, or reading another story. Then I think, “But what if…?” Images come to mind, I start picturing characters, and I’m off and running.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to travel, go new places and see new things. Thank goodness my husband feels the same way. We go exploring whenever we can. Spending time with family and friends is my other favorite recreation. In spare moments, I also quilt and make jewelry, though I’m not especially good at either. Watching British TV series on Netflix fills my down time. Not surprisingly, my favorites are mysteries and romantic comedies.
I imagine you’ve been reading all of your life (all great writers have.) What was your favorite book as a child?
The Secret Garden was one of my ultimate favorites, as well as anything by Marguerite Henry or Walter Farley. I loved anything with a horse in i!. By junior high I was devouring the medieval romances of Thomas B. Costain.
Do you re-read books? If so, which one have you re-read the most?
There are too many great books for me to spend much time rereading, but I do go back to favorites. Sometimes I reread parts of beloved novels to put myself in a certain time, place, or mood which I can then carry into my own work. The most recent book I reread and loved the second time was On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves. I’ve also reread some Debra Holland, Christina McKenna, and Catherine Ryan Hyde.
Having children is the biggest (and boldest!) of all adventures, but to pinpoint one, I’ll choose the trip we made in 2010. We flew to Italy and spent about ten days in Florence and Rome. Then we caught a twelve-day cruise in the Med which included stops in parts of Greece and the Greek islands, Turkey, Italy and an especially memorable stay in Alexandria, including a visit to the pyramids. That was my first trip to Europe or Africa and it opened my eyes to wonders I’d only imagined. Of course, there's also the trip I made in 2005 accompanying my daughter and a group of college interns to Bolivia. We happened to be in La Paz during their last (almost bloodless) revolution. That was more adventure than we'd planned for! I intend to keep traveling and discovering and I hope for many great adventures still to come.
If you were on American Idol, what song would you sing to WOW! the judges?
Judges would be wowed by anything I sang—wowed and covering their ears! One of the great injustices of life is the reality that not all who love to sing actually can. Although I can keep a tune or sing a part, my voice often sounds like rusty door hinges or a crow’s caw. If magic happened and I was allowed the voice to sing one song one time, it would be Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You.” Now that’s a song!
What are you currently working on?
What can we readers look forward to seeing from you? My fourteenth novel, the ninth and last in the Rainbow Rock Romances, is Roman’s Holiday. It’s in the final stages of editing. A release date will be announced soon, scheduled sometime between mid-October and mid-November. I’m also branching out, working on more complex stories, and I hope to write more adventures in the Maggie Rising mystery series.
Last question…movie rights…who’ll play your current main characters when Hollywood comes knocking on your door?
That one is tricky since I know exactly how Roman and Lottie should look. Still I think James Franco and Emma Stone would look good in the roles. Now I just have to persuade them!