Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
Do you dream in color? The first time I heard someone ask that, I thought they were crazy, because everyone dreams in color, don't they? That pretty well sums me up right there. Most authors say they always wanted to write. Not me. . . but I've always made up stories, sometimes to the annoyance of everyone around me. Now, I do the same thing except on paper, and they call me a writer!
I live in the Seattle area with my long-suffering husband (he puts up with a lot, believe me), a cat who doesn't know how to be a house cat, and our son, who came back after a stint in the Navy and is now working full time and going to college.
Royalties from my current book, Faery Special Romances, will be donated to Children's Tumor Foundation, http://www.ctf.org, ending neurofibromatosis through research.
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
That would have to be Jake, a heroine in a book yet to be published. Jake is fair but sees things pretty much in black and white. She's tall and I'm short. She's strong and I'm travel-weary. And hey, no one can outshoot her. Then again, I'm pretty good there, too. Her story is a western and I'm not even bothering to market it right now, but she's far and away my favorite character. Don't tell Keely of Faery Special Romances, though. She'd get all in a snit, for sure.
What's your favorite genre to read?
Humorous paranormal romance, preferably western. You don't see many of those.
Who or what influences you when you write?
The drive to be different. I want the reader to always expect something different, because that's what I want to deliver. If they think the good guys are on the way, then I want to throw a kink in the works, maybe dressing the bad guys to look like the good guys, always upping the stakes. I like humor, too. I like to make myself laugh, whether it's by a turn of a phrase or a pratfall. I'm not picky. Just make me laugh.
What do you do on a typical writing day?
I do my best to avoid writing. First, I make a huge latte-skinny, with foam. I also make a pot of coffee. Then I do the crossword puzzle, read about the Mariners, avoid all important news, then head for the office. There's always a few hundred emails to read, Which-Irish-Goddess-Are-You quizzes that must be taken, and online sites to check. I have a whole bunch of them:
and several more: twitter, gather, and facebook. Then there are the six blogs . . .
With all that promotion, who has time to write books? I do. I write from 3pm to 6pm, and from 11pm until 3am.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
If I have writer's block, it's because I'm trying to make my characters fit into my plot, and they don't wanna. Usually, after a day or two, I figure out the error of my ways, consult with my characters (and my poor, abused critique group), devise a plan, and then we're on our way again.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
I'm working on a fantasy series that's not sold yet. I love this series-it has all manner of mystical creatures in it, and I hope an editor loves it, too.
In 5 years, where do you see yourself? In general and in you're writing career.
I'd like to be writing 3 or 4 books a year, selling to a large press. Even so, I'll still want to write short stories for Highland Press. Short stories are great for people like me who have short attention spans.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
Don't throw up, but to be real honest, my husband is the ideal hero, especially if you put him in Antonio Banderas' body. My husband supports me in whatever endeavor I get tangled up in, whether it was my software consulting business, or crotcheting (a mitigated disaster), or writing. He updates my website, will proofread if I ask him to, and brings home dinner if I'm disinclined to cook. And if he thinks someone "done me wrong," then he's right there ready to do battle. And he's always there for the kids, too.
What do you do for inspiration?
Sitting on the back deck will get my brain working. I also like to listen to loud music, watch movies, and brainstorm with friends. An author friend once told me not to fall into the trap of my own thinking-to talk to others a lot and keep the synapses working on a high level. I try to do that, because frankly, I'm boring.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
I'm a researchaholic. Faery Special Romances was a challenge because there are 10 stories, all in different periods. I had never before written in medieval, Shakespearean, Cromwellian, Colonial, Regency, Roaring 20s, or the 1960s. All these stories had to be researched from the ground up, including the slang, attire, customs, and historical events of the time. By the way, this is another wonderful delaying device. I can research forever and not get the story written! So at some point, I have to pull my nose out of the books, shut down the internet, and write, write, write.
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse? Help. I'm a deadline person. Absolutely.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
Gerri Russell, who won the American Title II contest last year and is now published with Dorchester, was the first person to encourage me to submit my work. I submitted for a while without much luck-got the "you're a wonderful writer but your story isn't right for our line" letters. Then had an accident and was laid up for a while. I was really in a funk then. But some of my friends decided to get together and write an anthology as a fundraiser for breast cancer research, and luckily, I was able to get in on it. Then, Leanne Burroughs of Highland Press agreed to publish the book (actually, this isn't the correct order of events but it does get a bit muddled), and she chose two of my proposals, Faery Good Advice and Single Girls Can't Jump. These two stories along with 22 others and 15 other authors make up No Law Against Love. Keely, star of Faery Good Advice, was simply not satisfied with such a small role, so the editor agreed to let her star in her own book. And that's how Faery Special Romances came about.
What is the best and worst advice you have gotten? What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
Best advice was from my dad: No one needs to know that you feel scared or inferior. Use the good ol' Walker bluster. (and I sure do)
Worst advice: I ignore what I don't think will work. Maybe the worst advice is don't write what you skip. Since I don't read description and rarely read more than a fraction of the narrative, I don't think a book that had all that missing would do too well on the market.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I do LOTS of character work. When I know my characters thoroughly, I plot the spine of the story, and the rest of it I plot as I write. But no, I don't write by the seat of my pants. It just doesn't work for me-maybe because I was a programmer in a former life and planning is everything.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
Two short stories: Faery Good Advice (which won the P.E.A.R.L. Award for Best Short Story) and Single Girls Can't Jump, both in the Highland Press Wee Dram anthology, No Law Against Love. Profits from that book go to breast cancer research.
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
I'm thinking of trying a straight fantasy. In a fantasy, saving the world is the major story arc, but in a romance, the relationship is the spine. I love both, so I'll probably write whichever story comes to me-or is contracted.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
Yes, two of them. They all help me, yes. It's really important to have a cohesive group where you all trust each other with your most tender feelings. Otherwise, critique groups can be more harmful than good. I've been lucky and have several people who form a safety net for me, and I hope I do the same for them.