The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview
We would love to get to know you
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I've loved stories since I was old enough to talk. First my parents would tell me stories at bedtime. My dad in particular was a great storyteller. Then, I started to finish the stories and soon was writing stories of my own. My mother's family is from Appalachia and when we would get together they would all sit around and tell stories. I guess storytelling was just in my blood.
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
Celeste Monroe from The Elixir, which is available through Amber Quill Press. The book is a romantic suspense. My own life isn't nearly as exciting as Celeste's, which is filled with intrigue and conspiracies. I'd love to experience some of that through the book. Wouldn't it be fun if we could really step into the pages of a book? Sort of a virtual reality experience? I fully expect books to become that way at some point in the future. Then, the author will truly be creating a new world.
What's your favorite genre to read?
I'm very eclectic. I read everything from horror to romance to nonfiction to mystery. I really enjoy a traditional romance or anything by Dean Koontz, who is a fabulous writer. I study his work regularly, trying to learn his techniques. I just think he is an amazing writer.
Who or what influences you when you write?
Everything really. I catch myself working in ideas from conversations I've had with friends or things my daughters have said. This is why it is so important for writers to be out in the world and experiencing life. It gives you material and you just build from there.
What do you do on a typical writing day?
Proscrastinate. He he he. Seriously, I have a schedule I try to adhere to, but because I homeschool my daughters too, it has to be flexible. I don't set down times but tasks. I know I have two articles coming up, so I might put research on Monday, schedule an interview on Tuesday, and work on my latest fiction novel on Wednesday. It all gets done somehow, eventually.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
I find that when I'm stressed or really tired I can't focus. For me it is about getting rest. However, I co-wrote a book with my friend Pamela Johnson about this topic. The book is called So Your Muse Has Gone AWOL? We have a lot of ideas on how to get through this that we gathered by interviewing dozens of authors and artists. You can use music, take a break from things, brainstorm with friends, go for a walk. Different things work for different people. One of the main things is to keep putting the time in front of the computer screen, even if you just write "I don't know what to write." Eventually something will break free and you'll start writing again.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
My next book is Finding Ms. Right. It will be out late this summer through Amber Quill Press. It's a reworked version of my very first book. A lot has changed in my life over the years, so I reworked it into a sweeter, PG-romance. Here is the prologue:
Finding Ms. Right
The ancient trunk had been passed down in the Mayker family for as long as Madge could remember. The inscription on the lid etched there by some primitive Mayker, the books lovingly placed within, the wooden vessel passed from one daughter to the next for guardianship.
Brushing dust off the letters, Madge read them aloud, "Those Who Read These Tomes Will Find the Miracle of Love." She let the words settle into the still air, their magic soothing her.
Madge lifted the lid, rusty hinges creaking into the silence of the damp attic. She reached inside and pulled loose a dusty volume, noticing the blue veins covering the back of her hands and the slight tremble. Soon her time in this world would be gone. She sighed. Who would she pass the trunk to? She had no daughters of her own, having never been married.
She traced the slightly raised title on a navy blue book jacket, and smiled. She remembered the first person she'd given the magic of this particular book. They'd found true love despite the advice found in it.
Remembering snippets of people who had flitted in and out of her life over the years, she held each book tenderly before replacing it in the shadowy interior. When she came to the last book, her heart thudded with a dull ache. Her nephew had read this one. He was gone now, as were so many people she had loved.
But he had left three daughters. A feeling of peace washed over her, like gentle waves lapping at a sandy beach. Yes, she would leave the trunk to one of his daughters, the oldest daughter, as had been the tradition from the beginning. She supposed that not having daughters of her own, it would be acceptable to make her niece the keeper of the miracle.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
I'm working on a couple of inspirational historical romances and I have a contemporary mainstream that I'm enjoying working on. I am always busy writing articles too. This summer I'll be teaching a workshop to budding songwriters about how to work a storyline into their songs. I'm excited about the workshop. It's something different for me.
In 5 years, where do you see yourself? In general and in you're writing career.
I really don't look that far ahead. I used to be a future planner but I found that it sucked the joy of out today, so I try to focus in small spurts. What will I accomplish this year? What do I want to finish in the next month? And so on. I am happy with where my career is right now. I am publishing one or to books a year and a ton of articles, which pay very well. If it grows, then I'll know God has blessed me again. And if it doesn't grow, then He has already blessed me so much and I'm grateful for that.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
My husband. He goes to work every day at a job he loathes so he can provide for our family and I can stay home and work and homeschool the girls. He teaches 4th through 6th grade Sunday school and helps anyone who needs help. For example, just this week he went and mowed the lawn of a lady we know who is having chemotherapy. I'm not sure I'd jump right to "perfect". Anyone married knows what I mean, because I truly believe we are all married to the same man, they just have different names. But he is a hero to me and my girls.
What do you do for inspiration?
Listen to music, usually. I often have music on while I write. My musical tastes are very eclectic too. I love Taylor Hicks, Etta James, Emma Roberts, Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood, Hank Williams, and of course Elvis. My favorite group right now is the Jonas Brothers. But that changes with the seasons and who has a cute song out. I also love inspirational quotes and sayings and will jot them down or post them around my computer. Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
I would love to write history books about various features of Indiana. I'm a born and bred Hoosier. The target audience may not be huge for such a book but I'd love to write them. What type of book have you always wanted to write?
Yes, I love to learn. I usually start online. I also visit the library, get books via interlibrary loan and interview people. Some books take more research than others. I have learned to set books in a place I know or I get the settings wrong. Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
Help. I always meet my deadlines. It's nice to have one because it motivates you to work on a project every single day. If you work on it every day, it will get done on time.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
I sent my first book off to Harlequin when I was twenty. I read bags full of Harlequins as a young girl and I have always wanted to get a book published with them. It wasn't really that anyone encouraged me, it was just a desire I had. That book was horrible, by the way. I was twenty, had no life experience, and didn't know about things like character depth or plotting. It came back so fast it had skid marks on it. I was crushed and filed it away. I kept writing but send anything for a few years.
Then I found AOL and a wonderful online writing community. Back then, there were many authors who frequented the writing group I belonged to and I learned so much from them. Some notable people who really helped me along the way were Charlotte Maclay, Emma Jensen, Fern Michaels, and Stella Cameron. There were others, and I don't want to leave anyone out. I even had a conversation online with Tom Clancy once and got some motivational advice from him. However, I think my biggest supporter was my father-in-law. He would call me every day and ask how my book was coming. He was so excited to have a writer in the family. This meant a lot when the rest of my family was saying, "Oh, another hobby. Wonder how long this one will last?" It's fifteen or so years later, so I guess it lasted a while :).
What would you like to tell your readers?
I really like to interact with my readers. I don't ever want them to feel that I'm unapproachable. It makes my day and sometimes my week when someone reads my book and emails me to let me know they enjoyed the story. What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
Worst advice-Get a practical degree in college. Something you can fall back on. I think we need to just go for what we want and I encourage my daughters to do that.
Best advice-My good friend Karen Kay told me to just keep writing and sending things out.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Both. It depends on the story and how the idea comes to me. Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
Not anymore, but I did in the beginning. It helped me see where my writing needed help. Now, I just have a few trusted friends where we trade work when we need to. What was your first published work and when was it published?
In fiction, it was Man of Means. It was published around 1999, I believe. But was through an e-book publisher. Some people don't recognize that as being published, but I was proud of the book. Then I went to a romance writers conference and felt about two inches tall. My first hard copy book would have been Housebreaking A Husband which was published by Thorndike. What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
They can visit the website, check out what is offered at Amazon.com or they can email me. Also, if they join the Troop Lori email list above, they will be on my monthly newsletter list. I give news, free stories and run contests through the newsletter.
Thanks so much for the opportunity, Tammie.
Thank you for this opportunity!