Q: How long have you been writing?
Forever! Especially if you count the time Before I could read and write, when I told tall tales to any adult who would listen.
Q: How long did it take you to publish?
Ugh. Ten years!
Q: How many manuscripts do you have hidden away/under the bed/in storage?
I’m sorry to answer this, but it’s probably close to 7. I did, however, recently, “recycle” one of them—SOUTHERN KNIGHTS was reincarnated into HARD IN THE SADDLE in my second cowboy anthology, ONLY WITH A COWBOY. BTW, I do not plan to EVER do that again! It was much more difficult than writing a new manuscript. I think of it in sewing terms—it’s always much easier for me to make a whole new outfit than to attempt to alter one that didn’t fit.
Q: Do you have a writing schedule and if so, what is it?
I wish! I do write every day, but much as I would love to say I have set office hours, it’s more of an “Oh, I’d better get derriere in chair and do some work!” kind of thing.
Q: Do you have a critique group? If yes, how many are in the group?
I’ve had the pleasure of being part of several critique groups over the years since joining RWA, but, at present, I’m flying solo.
Q: When developing an idea for a new story, which comes first – the plot or the title or the characters?
Wow, that’s difficult to answer! Usually I get a very vague idea, then come up with the title and characters. I always have a title and characters before I begin plotting and writing my synopsis.
Q: How do you handle new story ideas that pop up when you’re in the middle of a project? (ex: notebook by the bed/separate word file, etc?)
LOL! I’m not anywhere nearly so organized! It I get a new story idea, I usually scribble it on whatever is handy, then stick it in a file folder marked PLOT IDEAS in my filing cabinet.
Q: Have you ever gotten to the middle of a project and got bored or lost your momentum? If so, how
did you handle it?
More times than I’d care to admit. I don’t think it’s really boredom, though, as much as it being finished in my mind before it’s technically finished. Once I realized this, I was able to push onward. I’d like to add, too, that having a contract and deadlines are great motivators! Sheer terror is very powerful.
Q: Finish this sentence: If I could write anything I wanted and knew it would see, it would be…
Probably what I’m writing—although I’d love to branch out as well. Branch out to what? Ah, that’s the problem. I have more ideas for more genres than I could possibly write for in this lifetime.
Q: What is the best advice you ever received?
Don’t give up! I swear, I’m the poster child for perseverance. I always liken it to the Lottery—if you don’t buy a ticket, you for sure won’t win!
Q: What is the worst?
Not everyone is meant to be a published author. Bull! If you have the drive and determination and stick to it,honing your craft, eventually you WILL sell.
Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
That’s a difficult question to answer. When I first started writing, I’d have said the actual writing. Then, when I first sold, I’d have said plotting and then being able to hold your published book in your hands. Now? You know, I really do enjoy all of it—even editing! Of course, it helps that I usually have no revisions. I probably wouldn’t be crazy about doing revisions. Then again, that’s part of the process as well.
Q: What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
Having to finish writing a book I sold on synopsis sometimes a year earlier when my mind is finished with it and ready to move on to the next one.
Q: Which came first for you – the editor or the agent?
The agent. Actually, I found my first agent at the West chapter when I was assigned an appointment with her. My current agent was as a result of querying.
Q: How many contests did you enter before you sold? How many did you final in?
I’ve lost track! Hey, I’ve been in deadline dementia for so long, sometimes it’s hard to remember what I had to eat the previous day! Seriously, I entered a lot of contests early on and found most of the comments invaluable. As I wrote for submission longer, I became more subjective. I think I only finaled in about 4 or 5 contests in all those years, but I consider the advice priceless.
Q: How do you promote your books?
Word of mouth for the anthologies I do with other authors—the first couple of them, the authors shared advertising
costs and bookmarks etc, and I decided it didn’t really make a difference in sales. For my own books, I usually at least do an ad in Romance Sells, booksignings and the occasionally guest blogs/interviews. I know I need to utilize the internet more and plan to do that as soon as I turn in the deadline books currently breathing down my neck.
Q: Free Form: Here’s your chance to tell us anything you’d like—tidbits, advice, funny stories, pet
peeves, hopes, dreams, etc.
Years ago, Sandra Hill told me not to write a time travel I was plotting if I didn’t sincerely feel I had several of them in me b/c if I sold it that’s all the publisher would want from me. The longer I’ve been published, the more I think about that valuable piece of advice. I loved my “reverse time travel”—it was about a Confederate soldier who was tossed into the 21st century—and would love to see it reach print someday, but I truly don’t see myself writing more than one more time travel. So, who knows? Maybe someday…maybe not. I do, however, think of her advice with each book I write and I think it’s something every writer needs to seriously consider.
Pet peeves? There are so many! The first is the eye roll romance writers tend to get—especially when someone asks what kind of romance I write and I tell them erotica. And it doesn’t really get easier to keep my big mouth shut. And don’t even get me started about the narrow minded people who assume all romance is porn! And my last big pet peeve is people who assume published authors live in a rarified atmosphere and rake in tons of money for relatively little effort.
At my first booksigning, a little pre-school aged girl picked up my book while I was signing a copy for her mother and leafed through it. Deciding it was safe b/c she was too young to be able to read, I continued signing. Then she dropped the book in disgust and told her mother “This book is dumb! It gots no pictures!” All I could think was how grateful I was that it didn’t have any pictures! Yikes!
I’d like to add something here. I was extremely fortunate to have my first book featured in USA Today and a couple of days later on Geraldo Live—it helped sales, big time! But my biggest thrill, to date, was seeing someone reading one of my books at an airport. And a close second was having a radiology tech ask me if I was an author and then proceed to gush about how much she loved my books. It made my abdominal scan almost pleasant!