What inspired you to write your first book?
A dream unlike any dream I’d ever had; it seemed so real, like watching a live play. In an old-fashioned bedroom, a British woman in a long, high-necked dress was berating her husband for being unfaithful to her. And while he begged her for forgiveness, he begged even more for her to stop haunting him. I realized then that she was actually the *ghost* of his wife. And I felt far more sympathy for him than for her. This scene plays out much differently in The Heart Denied, though–much more chilling than it was in the dream.
What books have most influenced your life most?
As a child, it was Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and inventor biographies (weird, huh). As a teen, I adored Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, and Forever Amber. As an adult, books by Sergeanne (Anne) Golon, Anya Seton, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Phillipa Gregory and Teresa Medeiros–especially her earlier, darker works.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Teresa Medeiros. She is so encouraging.
What genre do you consider your book(s)?
Historical Romantic Suspense. That’s probably not an ‘official’ genre, but if I were queen of publishing, I’d make it one.
What book are you reading now?
The Universal Mirror, by Gwen Perkins. It’s very good, by the way.
There is a chapter written for a sequel to The Heart Denied, which may or may not go anywhere. I’ve also written a chapter for a new historical romance set in 54 A.D. That’s right. Makes about as much sense as reading Nancy Drew and inventor biographies, doesn’t it? Still, the premise does interest me…
Who designed your covers?
Frank Hall of Hydra Publications designed the cover of The Heart Denied. The cover for Heart of the Hunter was designed by my 27-year-old son, Alex. He’s amazing and should be doing this for a living, imho. <grin>
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The intimate scenes. I’m always torn when the time comes to write those. The industry so often advises writing ‘hot’ but my heart wants me to keep things a little tamer. There are readers who want it really, really spicy and there are readers who want to stay out of the bedroom altogether. You can’t have it both ways, and having been a people-pleaser for decades and still being the type person who generally sympathizes with both sides of an issue, I often wind up sitting on the fence–which is not only uncomfortable but unproductive. I wind up going pretty much wherever my whim takes me on any given day that I’m writing one of those scenes.
No, but I have a general idea of where the story is going and what some of the high points will be, and I keep notes. What really saves me time and effort is the Excel spreadsheet I compile, with a brief summary of each scene (all of which are color-coded for character POV) with the dates they occurred in the story and corresponding page numbers. This is SO much easier than wading through pages and pages of the manuscript looking for a particular line or scene. I also keep a ‘cuts’ file, where everything cut from the story gets stored in case I later want to retrieve a line, paragraph or scene.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you plan to edit your own writing, know the difference between words like wry and rye, they’re and their, and cultivate good spelling and grammar habits if you haven’t already. For spelling and vocabulary, the dictionary still rules, and for grammar/punctuation, I highly recommend Patricia T. O’Conner’s ‘Woe Is I’ (it’s funny, too). I am so passionate about this that I’ve begun blogging on the subject (see ‘Spelling to Sell’ and ‘Bob and Me’ on my Goodreads blog). I’m not talking about the occasional missed or extra word or even an occasional misspelling, because it’s hard to catch every single typo. But nothing pulls me out of a story faster than *overall* careless editing. There’s just no excuse for it. If you’re not qualified to edit the wonderful story you’ve worked so hard to tell, then pay someone–or at the very least, enlist a friend or family member who truly cares about your writing and *knows* what he or she is doing.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes: Thank you, a thousand times over, for spending your hard-earned dollars on my books. I truly hope you enjoy my characters and their stories. If you don’t, I’ve failed not only you but myself as well, because the *only* reason I write is to entertain. And for those of you who’ve taken the time and trouble to leave reviews, another thousand thanks, regardless of whether those reviews are positive or not. Your opinion counts, and I learn from your comments.