Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?
All authors do not have to be grammar Nazis. As a former editor from The Wild Rose Press I’ve read many great stories with very poor grammar and spelling. When a reader picks up a new book they want to read an intriguing new view on a new plot idea. And that’s exactly what they get after some revisions and edits.
What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
I love to read romantic suspense and of course love to write about it. The romance alone just isn’t enough for me. Life or death situations with a blooming romance, to me, are much more intriguing, on-the-edge-of-your-seat entertaining.
How important is research to you when writing a book?
Research is extremely important and must be accurate. I remember reading a Christmas story where the family was decorating trees with candles. The author received an email letting her know Christmas trees came from Germany and weren’t in the United States at the time of her book. It’s so important if you are introducing specific subject matter that a writer does their research. A vacation or road trip may be in order but in today’s Internet availability information in at your fingertips.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
I wrote my first full-length novel longhand in a journal. It began as a dream and I had to get all the details down that I could remember. I then spent days typing it into the computer and as I did I embellished it even further. From that one dream I ended up writing five books about human sex trafficking. I bought a book about how to write a novel and used every suggestion presented. I learned how to develop characters, the importance of a hook, no sagging middles, etc. I also joined my local Romance writers of America (RWA) group, TARA and have learned so much from monthly meetings with other authors sharing their successes and their failures.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first short story, and I mean short, in the fourth grade. It was something about going to the doctor and getting a shot. My teacher chose my story as a playwright where other students acted out the character parts, etc. and parents and friends were invited to come for the performance. Since then, I began writing in journals, just the important things that happened in my life that day. Years later I wrote newsy love letters to Viet Nam my now husband of 46 years. I’ve journaled ever since, and many days thought the stories I wrote about my every day life would make a great book. The dream about human sex trafficking really opened my eyes with a message I thought was extremely important to get out to as many people as I could reach. A few weeks after I started the book a newspaper article reported a sting operation at a house not far from my home where a number of women had been held captive as a sex slave for a number years. Fortunately, one of the women was able to steal a cell phone and call police. I’m still working on the real stories in my life.
What inspires you to write?
Usually it’s a message of some sort. One book in the Saddle Creek series, Rustlers and Romance, begins with a young woman being beaten by her tough-thinking boyfriend. That was the last time she let him touch her. She made a break, crossed the country and was able to not only seek protection from him pursuing her but also to start a new life with someone who could show her the real way to be loved by a man.
How often do you write?
I try and write every day, usually in the morning since I’m fresher and sometimes that leads to an entire day of writing. If it’s an important message I usually can’t stop until it’s finished.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
I do not have a set schedule to write but I always review what I wrote the day before and more than likely that gets me going again.
Do you think writers have a normal life like others?
It is a solitary vocation so it’s important to attend writer’s workshops, not only to learn, but associate with others for socialization.
Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long do they usually last?
If I ever become “blocked” in one story I move forward with another. The creativity starts flowing and I can usually get back to the one I’m stuck on.
Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
I read one time that an author should sit down and start writing everything they knew about the story they’re working on; who the characters are, the setting, the plot that’s been revealed, etc. And eventually they’ll start adding things to move the story forward. Then they can come back and delete the repetitions. Sounds like it would work.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I’m a vociferous reader. I like to read Harlan Coben, Andrew Gross, Johanna Lindsey, Catherine Bybee, Heather Burch, Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, etc.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
Significant improvements have been with active dialogue, settings, and characterizations.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
My first five books were published by a small/medium press and they did the editing for me. My newest book, Secrets and Deceptions, I self-pubbed but after a professional edit.
Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?
Oh yeah! I have two written for about five years now that I pull out every now and again and go through, add a layer or two, and make some edits. They aren’t ready yet, not enough conflict, too many character flaws, I always find something.
What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
A good cover design and title are the first things a reader sees; it’s what makes them pick up the book and read the back blurb. They’re the hook and make a big difference in whether it’s a sale or not.
Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?
Start writing for real sooner.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing no matter what.