I had the opportunity to chat with talented
author. So, without further delay letís hear fromÖ
always know you would be a writer? When did you begin to
really go after writing as a career?
I actually didnít always know Iíd end up writing. I do remember
making up elaborate stories even when I was little, and I dabbled
with writing all through high school. It wasnít until after I
returned to college to finish my degree in education after the birth
of my first child that I really took writing seriously, and even
then, it was another eight years before I started pursuing
publication in earnest.
Wow! A high school
English teacher? I am impressed! How do you find a balance between
family, teaching, and writing?
thereís supposed to be balance? (Just kidding.) For the most part, I
leave writing and my graduate work to the hours after my kids go to
bed. I do spend some time on those on weekend mornings as well. Iíve
been teaching for eleven years so I have developed a system that
works for me in terms of planning and grading which allows me to
streamline my time there. And I gave up television (well, except for Ghost Hunters. I mean, plumbers who chase hauntings? Who can
Tell us what makes
Hard question. Iím achievement-oriented and self-competitive, even
as a teacher and coach and especially as a writer. My kids keep me
grounded. And there are those darn movies I get in my head that
insist on being turned into books . . .
When writing do you
need absolute quiet in an office-like setting or can you write
anywhere? Do you have a writing schedule that you follow?
in a small house and I gave up on absolute quiet a long time ago. I
do have an office, which I love, but I can work through most noise
(kids, dogs, husband watching The Mummy or Sweet Home
Alabama for the umpteen-millionth time.
From 9:30 to 11:30,
Iím in the office. Teaching duties get first priority, followed by
grad school assignments, then writing. If Iím working on deadline,
then I set a goal for the evening (edit 30 pages, etc.) and I donít
go to bed until itís finished. If Iím not working on something for
my publisher, then I have to write 1000 words a day. Iíve learned
not to get off-track or I lose sleep!
Tell us some of
your favoritesÖfoods, movies, music, authors, books, colors, and any
others you want to share?
foods? French fries. Dark chocolate. My momís thirteen-layer
Hmmm. I gave them up, although I make exceptions if it involves
Matthew McConnuaghey, John Travolta, Will Smith or Nicolas Cage. I
loved I am Legend, until the end. Wild Hogs was
& Books: All-time favorite? F. Scott Fitzgerald. I teach The
Great Gatsby every year and each time I find something new to
fall in love with. Iím a total Stephen King fangirl, and Iím on a
personal crusade to make sure everyone I know reads Tayari Jonesís Leaving Atlanta. Other favorites include Maya Banks, Amie
Stuart, Lucy Monroe, Monica Jackson, Ally Blue . . .
Green and blue. If you look at my closet, you see a lot of black.
And white. I love great tailored white shirts with everything.
mention I love Ghost Hunters?
You write romantic
suspense. Is there another genre you would like to try?
have dabbled with straight contemporary suspense. Iíve played with a
young adult idea, but I donít seem to have the voice for it. Iím in
awe of historical and paranormal authors, but Iíd rather read them
than try to write in those genres.
horror and I adore the Southern Gothic period. If I could find a way
to combine that with romance . . . yum!
How do you promote
still learning how to do this effectively. I spend a lot of time on
the Samhain Cafť loop. Iíve had great writer acquaintances like Lucy
Monroe, Kate Rothwell (aka Summer Devon) and the WriteMinded gals
let me guest blog. Iíve dabbled with contests (including a Bunny
Hunt!). I made book cards (business cards with my email addy, web
site and a list of my books) that I hand out whenever I get an
opportunity. Oh, and postcards for my print releases.
Several of your
stories are connected, do you enjoy writing books that are part of a
series? As a reader, I know that I love books that are connected.
it. (And Iím glad to hear you do as well!) I actually never set out
to write a series. I wrote Tick and Caitlinís book (Hold On to Me)
first and when I wrote What Mattered Most, I made the heroine
Caitlinís cousin. At that point, I figured I was done. Until I wrote Truth and Consequences and Tick showed up in chapter one.
love about writing a series of connected books is getting to explore
how peopleís lives intersect, especially in small Southern towns.
What Iíve found is that the smallest character detail in a secondary
character will make me want to explore what happens in his/her
life...and the next thing I know, Iím writing yet another Hearts
of the South book.
Do you enjoy
hearing from your readers and what is the best way to contact you?
love it! Even when they donít like something. Even better when they
do. Email is great. My author addy is
What do you find to
be the most difficult aspect of writing?
I hate page 1, because I know that I have another 299 or so to go.
Luckily, with the new book, Iím on page 6, so Iím beyond that
horrible ďOh, my God, I have one sentence written!Ē point.
Do you have any
advice for aspiring writers? What was the best piece of advice you
received when you were first starting out?
advice I can give is JDI. My high school students will tell you that
means ďJust Do It.Ē I tell them that lots of people say ďI want to
write a bookĒ but only a few really accomplish it. The difference is
that the ones who write a book...just do it. The first draft is not
going to be perfect. But you keep on doing it and the practice makes
you better. Heck, my first book (and my second!) is saved on a disk
somewhere and will never see the light of day. Lots of people talk
themselves out of things they could do, when if theyíd just put one
foot in front of the other...theyíd come out on the other side with
something really big and cool to show for it.
advice I ever received as a fledgling writer? ďCut it.Ē Oh, and what
narrow POV was. I had a finished manuscript and a writer Iíd met
online offered to read it. Did I mention it was over five hundred
pages long and the prologue was forty-three pages? Three heroes,
three heroines, more drama than Passions on steroids. It was
sad. Oh, and it was written in omniscient point of view. She was
very kind with her ďcut the fluffĒ and ďcontrol your POVĒ advice.
Iíve appreciated it ever since.
How would high
school students describe you?
nickname is the Evil English Overlord. Does that tell you anything?
Actually, Iíve had them describe me as working harder than anyone
they know. Depending on what day it is, I hear how Iím great, fun,
fair, caring, gracious . . . tough, demanding, strict. I guess it
all equals out. ;-)
Is your family your
biggest support group? Do they read your work?
husband is great about answering my law enforcement questions and
even acting out scenarios so I can get a feel for how the movements
would work. I never really talked about writing with my parents and
siblings, then when I sold, they were thrilled. My mom is my biggest
cheerleader and has this hilarious habit of toting around a copy of
my latest print release...so she can hand sell them to people. My
sisters have my print releases, but Iím not sure if theyíve read
them. My niece has read everything Iíve soldósheís a big reader.
If you could bring
one of your characters or any character to life, who would it be and
my characters. Um, Tick Calvert. Because heís my favoriteóheís been
around the longest with me. Although Iím pretty sure he wouldnít
come without Caitlin. (Although Cookie would be fun to bring to life
and hang out with . . .).
character? Umm, thatís hard. Rosie from The Jetsons so she
could clean my house . . .
Is there anything
else you would like to share with us? Any current or upcoming
current ebook release is Anything But Mine, which was a
Recommended Read here at Joyfully reviewed (that meant a lot, too Ė
I was worried about the reception this book would get!). Next up is Memories of Us, due out in June 2008. I love this bookómy
hero Tom has gray areas and his interactions with the heroine Celia
are so sexy. Plus, heís very guarded and it was fun watching him
fall in love.
September, A Formal Feeling Ė Book Six in the Hearts of
the South series, releases. This is Cookieís book and I cannot wait! I love, love, love this story.
2008, my print releases will include Truth and Consequences
(April), His Ordinary Life (July) and Hold On to Me
like to see blurbs or excerpts (or gaze upon the sexy yum that is my
cover for Memories of UsóThanks, Anne Cain, cover goddess!),
please visit my author page at Samhain:
thanks to Joyfully Reviewed for having me! This has been so much