1. Did you enjoy writing as a child?
I wrote my first story in 1st grade about a horse that had twin colts. Even back then fiction is what I loved. I still do. What a dream come true to get to do what I love every day!
2. Who or what inspired you to write?
I’d always had the dream to write from the time I wrote that first story. The teacher praised it, and I thought how wonderful it would be to have a book in the library. I married at 19 and had our first child at 21. I poured myself into my children, and the little seed of a writing dream lay dormant. August 25, 1990 changed everything. The phone rang late that night and it was my middle brother telling me that the oldest of my three younger brother had been killed by lightning in a freak farm accident. In the coming months, as I emerged from the storm of grief, I realized that if I was ever going to follow the dream I believed God had put in my heart, I needed to get started. I was approaching my fortieth birthday, and time was marching on.
As part of the grieving process, my husband and I made a trip out to Wyoming to see where Randy had lived during a two-year stint. As I stood on the parade ground at Fort Laramie, the first idea took root and sprouted. The fire of grief and adversity had finally cracked open the seed that had lain dormant in my heart all those years.
Seven years later I finally made the first sale. But God taught me about faith and perseverance through those seven years. In those days I knew no other writers. It was lonely and soul-crushing at times. I’m so thankful for American Christian Fiction Writers and other authors whose friendships I treasure now after wandering so long in that wilderness. Looking back, I’m glad it wasn’t easier. It makes me appreciate so much more the joy and privilege I have to share my novels with my readers and to hopefully make them a little thirsty for the One who holds out a cup of living water.
And the really cool thing is those early works are being released again as a serialization starting in March. The Journey of the Heart series is an apt title since that series launched the dream I carried in my heart for so many years!
3. Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I usually write 5-6 days a week. I try to stop at dinner time, though when the deadline is looming, I sometimes have to burn the candle at both ends. I have a beautiful office with a big palladian window that looks out onto my neighborhood’s rolling hills. I sit in my recliner with my feet up and enter my dream world.
4. What are you working on at the minute?
I’m working on Mermaid Moon, book 2 in the Sunset Cove series set in Maine. The first book in that series, The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, will be out April 15, 2015.
5. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
When I really have to, I can write a book in about 3 months. But I don’t like to be under that time of crunch. 6 months is much more comfortable with all the research I do.
6. Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.
I’m always reading! I couldn’t live without books. Denise Hunter is a favorite and so is Diann Hunt (she lost her battle with ovarian cancer in Nov 2013 but her books live on.) Robin Caroll, Terri Blackstock, Dani Pettrey, Lynette Eason, Rachel Hauck, Cara Putman, Erin Healy, Hannah Alexander, Robert Whitlow. I read a LOT. 🙂 I read mostly the type of books I like to write. A new favorite suspense author is Carrie Stuart Parks. She writes about a forensic artist, and Carrie is one herself so there is real authenticity there.
7. Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
Anyone who writes in the traditional publishing space has at least one editor. I have two editors. Amanda Bostic is my inhouse editor, and Julee Schwartzburg is my freelance editor hired by HarperCollins Christian Published. I’ve been blessed to work with excellent editors who have taught me so much. Ami McConnell edited all my HCCP books, but she recently moved over as VP of Howard Publishing. She was instrumental in any success I’ve had. Erin Healy was my editor for a long time too and helped hone my fiction in more ways than I can list. A good editor is invaluable!
8. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
When I’m actively getting the bones of the story down, I shoot for 2000 words a day. Some days I’ll hit 4000-8000, but that’s when I’m racing for the ending and everything is happening quickly. 🙂