To get us started can you please start by telling us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
I currently have two books out. The Cinderella Swap is in print and e-book format and is available from www.sugarandspicepress.net or Amazon.com. Jaguar Moon is also out as an e-book (print in a couple of weeks) and is available from Wild Horse Press and Amazon. Both books are available from other e-book sites, as well. In December, Storm Swept will be available from Wild Horse Press, too.
Who or what influenced you when you wrote this book? Did you have a CD, Songs, environment, etc?
Ghost Hunters on the SyFy network gives me lots of ideas. Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse books have also inspired me. As far as music goes, I can't think if the music I'm listening to has lyrics (too distracting), so I prefer movie scores, in particular James Newton Howard and Carter Burwell. Perfect silence works very well for me, too.
Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
I've had two writing careers. The first was with Silhouette Books. I wrote 21 adult romances from 1989 - 1999 as Linda Varner. After a break, I've changed genres and am writing YA paranormal romances that will be available as e-books and in print. On a personal note, I married my Jr. High School sweetheart and we've been together for 36 years now. We have two grown children, 3 (and a half!) grandchildren, and various granddogs and cats. I live in Arkansas and work fulltime at a university.
If you could be one of the characters from this book - Who would you be? And why?
I'd be Jenny in Storm Swept. She gets to live in a Victorian house, which I'd totally love, and also encounters some ghosts, another thing I'd totally love. I think.
Can you please give us a sneak peek into the book?
This is a short excerpt from Jaguar Moon. To set it up, Livvie Merrick, who is on the welcome team at her high school, is showing the new guy, Alex around.
Alex is about to discover that Livvie is not having a good year, thanks to the football team's harrassment.
"What do you want?" asked Noah, scowling.
I made myself look him dead in the eye. "I'm here for him. Official school business."
Kyle frowned. "Where's Watson?"
"Out." I noticed that Alex looked from me to the guys to me again as if trying to figure out our animosity. "Ready?"
He nodded slightly.
"I can't believe Henson's making you hang with her." Noah glared at me. "Freak."
"Hey!" Alex's sharp tone told him to shut up.
I blinked in surprise. Drake grinned. Noah snorted. "You haven't heard, have you?"
"Heard what?" asked Alex even as I began to push him toward the stairs.
"Watch your back, man. She's bad news." They left us, talking among themselves and glancing over their shoulders as they walked down the hall. I thought I heard Drake tell them to chill.
I guided Alex until I got us safely into the busy stairwell. Then I slipped past and began to hurriedly weave my way through all the other students changing floors. He caught up just as I exited into the locker area.
"What was that all about?" he asked.
"You don't want to know."
"I don't want to know, or you don't want me to know?"
"Take your pick." I pointed him toward his locker, then went in the opposite direction. To my dismay, tears stung my eyes and momentarily blinded me. I cut a corner too close, solidly smacking my left shoulder when I walked into one of the iron double-T beams that held up the roof. "Ow!"
"Are you okay?"
I whirled to find that Alex hadn't gone to get his next book as expected, but followed me instead. Upset, I lost focus. Down dropped my mental fence, so his emotions sort of slammed into me. I felt his curiosity; I felt his concern; I felt something else I couldn't immediately identify. I swallowed the lump in my throat.
"Fine," I told him, pressing my hand to what would undoubtedly be a bruise. Now tearful on several levels, I quickly blinked the moisture from my eyes.
"You don't look fine."
"Well, I am," I as good as growled. "Where's your math book?"
"I'll just, um, get it," he said backing away from me and vanishing around the row of lockers.
I could've screamed with humiliation and frustration, and not because a couple of jerks had been mean again. What I hated was the fact that I'd let it upset me.
Alex was back in a flash, calculus book in hand. I had my English stuff by then. Neither of us said anything as I started toward the stairwell. He beat me there and opened the door, politely motioning me through it. Though I hoped he'd let me lead the way again, he matched me step for step as we climbed to the third floor.
"You owe me an explanation," he said.
I glanced at him in disbelief. "Do not."
"But I defended your honor."
"Any nice guy would." "'Did you just call me 'nice'?" He looked surprised.
I sighed. "Beats being called a freak."
Please tell us what you have planned next?
I'm currently working on Starry Night, a book that will have witches and werewolves in it. I'm really into paranoormal now. It's what I love to read and write.
What kind of research did you do for this book? Did you enjoy the research process?
I heart the internet!! I use it constantly to check out facts, from the time the moon rises on a December day in Alabama to the cuisine at a Peruvian restaurant. It's so wonderful not to have to put on make-up and find my car keys if I need information. The world is literally at my fingertips.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
The best advice was: If you take the first R out of writer and put in an A, you'll have a waiter, which is what writers really are. So be patient. Don't rush the process. Do your best, then wait for that agent or editor to get back to you. It will happen.
The worst advice was: Teenagers curse, use slang, and don't speak in complete sentences. You need to write your YA book that way.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I usually start by books from a single scene that has popped into my head. From there, I create backgrounds and scenarios. By the time I'm finished, I usually have a huge stack of internet research, a timeline, a character chart, and a long list of what ifs.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
My perfect hero is the type of guy who falls hard for his heroine and wants to take care of and protect her, but respects her right to do those things for herself. In other words,he is her safety net. He also needs to have a good sense of humor. Physically speaking, my heroes are usually tall and strong, with gorgeous eyes.