Exclusive Interview with
Let’s start with your Career as a writer!
When did you start writing?
I began writing stories when I was about seven years old. In college, I became an English major to study great authors and then began to write poetry. About 15 years ago, I started working on my first fiction manuscript.
What makes writing your passion?
Writing is something that I must do - it is my creative calling. When I'm writing, I am wholly focused on the words and emotions in the characters I've developed. While I'm torturing them with conflict, I also worry about them. There are times I'm literally following them with my fingers on the keyboard because they are going in a direction I never intended. That is pure magic.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing most of my life. After graduating with an English degree, I pursued a career in Public Relations and Advertising, which required me to write just about everything. At home on evenings and weekends, I worked on creative writing.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
It was like a miracle - like having a baby, except with a much longer gestational period. Just holding my book in my hand and reading it cover to cover made me glow with such pride. I still sometimes pinch myself to make sure I really published three books in my series, "Truth, Lies, and Love in Advertising."
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
I created an entire world that didn't exist. I wanted the world to be fun and aspirational, and the characters relatable and engaging. I have two protagonists - Jane Mercer, who is my young female protagonist in both "Princess Smile," and "Camera Ready," and Craig Axel Keller in "For Position Only." Craig is the antagonist in the first two novels. They both make terrible mistakes and take quite a beating before learning life's lessons. I also set the stories in my home city of Los Angeles and focused on the world of advertising.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
The greatest challenge with a writing career is trying to get your work noticed. If you are an independently published author like myself, it is almost a full time job to find opportunities to showcase and market the work. But the most rewarding aspect is when readers tell you they LOVE your books. That is the most healing feeling for me.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I rarely have writers block, per se; however, I try what a good friend taught me. It is the 500-word rule. You write 500 words, even if you know you will change it all. It always gets me into a place where ideas are flowing, even if the words or an entire scene will be edited, or scrapped altogether. If you then put the work down and pick it up the next day, at least there is a kernel to build from.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
I am always motivated to write more because creating these worlds is my passion. I would advise new authors to find a local writing organization and a critique group. It is the single most important thing I did and helped tremendously to learn the craft of writing fiction. Critique groups and writing partners keep you accountable and give you objective opinions. I would also say to new authors to just keep swimming. Don't ever give up on yourself. Also, don't compare yourself to others. Your work is unique because it came from you.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Always be yourself. Always believe in your ability to do whatever you put your intelligence and energy toward.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I read every one. I have been lucky so far and have not received anything negative publicly; however, I've received criticism from beta readers or even critique partners who were not the right target market for my books. That does happen and what I do is take the constructive criticism and apply it. I dismiss outright negativity. It's just someone being unkind.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I've had so many readers tell me they couldn't put my books down or that they were hooked from page one. That is the most amazing feeling in the world. I literally start floating. Then I get back down to earth and try to create something even better!
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
In terms of sweeping plot lines, no. I also never base characters on real people; however, sometimes I will give them an idiosyncrasy that is either mine or someone I observed. But it's so much more fun to make stories and characters up from scratch and go wild with their own little affectations.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
There is a little piece of my personality in every single one of my characters (bad and good), but they are composites. For example, when I wrote from Craig Keller's perspective, I gave him little affectations of mine. I won't say which ones - but perhaps my readers can guess when they read "For Position Only." Other than that, my characters are fully fictional!
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
I put great care and thought into my three book covers. I also have an incredible friend in advertising who shot original photography for each of my books. They tell the story in subtle ways. For example, the cover of "Camera Ready" is a pair of very expensive women's blush-colored velvet heels; one is on its side and the backdrop is leopard carpeting with an office chair in the background. The Y on Ready is falling off the word. Hmmm - this is a very good hint that no one in this book is Camera Ready. Not. One. Person.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I love to connect with readers, especially now that video conferencing has become our medium of choice for communication. I do video conferencing with book clubs and other groups to discuss the books in real time. I'm very excited for the world to return to in-person dialogue and book signings because I love to meet my readers.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Absolutely grateful, proud, humbled and elated at the same time.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I am a huge fan of Vladimir Nabokov because I love his sardonic wit and the writing just speaks to me on a number of levels. In terms of current authors, I love to read Ruth Ware mysteries, Jennifer Weiner, Joyce Maynard and Jane Green. They write in styles that are both accessible and intriguing.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I would love to be a traditionally published author with a big five publisher backing me. I just continue to write my novels to improve my craft and try to find that right agent to represent me. I would love to have Jane Green's career!
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
I think I re-wrote "Princess Smile" many times because it was technically my first manuscript. as an author, we are always editing, second-guessing ourselves and re-reading our published works thinking, "I could have said that better." Well, at some point, you just have to be finished and move forward to the next.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
Either Jane Green or Jennifer Weiner. They are young, energetic women who I admire and read with enthusiasm.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
I would say, "Don't be a hater, be a creator." It is tough to write a book let alone put it out there. I would tell them to sit down at a computer with an empty page and screen in frond of them and take a shot at creating their own book.
What would you say to your readers?
I love that you took the time to read my work. I hope you had as much fun reading my books as I did writing them!
Thank you for sharing! Let’s talk about your Personal Life!
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I live in South Florida and am married. I don't have children but my husband has grown kids who are lovely and provide so much unexpected joy to my life.
What is your day job if you have one?
I am a marketing consultant and own a company called Madweek Marketing. I spent my career on the Las Vegas Strip in various executive roles in PR, Advertising and marketing. I am lucky to have a small set of wonderful clients who keep my mind fresh and spinning with ideas on how to help promote them.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love reading, cooking gourmet meals, intense workouts and being with family and friends. My friends are like family to me.
Did you have a happy childhood?
My childhood was pretty darned good! I was spoiled with the beautiful weather of Southern California, which made it tough to accept any other type of climate - but you always get used to a new one. I spent a lot of time at the ocean with my family and will always be grateful for those memories. I'm a sucker for an amazing Western sunset.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
My third grade teacher gave me a booklet and told me to write a story. I think I was the most annoying kid in class because I started writing and couldn't finish the story - it went on and on and on. My teacher finally sat me down and said, "You need to write an ending now."
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I have a collection of short stories that are sort of Twilight Zone-ish. They always have a shattering moment and the protagonists always have some sort of a comeuppance. I am also working on a fourth novel that uses characters from my series, but is turning into a thriller. I am at chapter 15 and hope to finish my first draft by the end of this year.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
I think we should help them put down the electronics and read some classics. Those are the best writers and being able to read those stories will hopefully help inspire kids to write. Being a good writer and communicator, no matter what profession you choose, is the most important asset.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
1. Write a book that becomes a New York Times Best Seller
2. Retire in Southern California near the ocean
3. To Live "Happily Ever After"
What is your favorite music?
I'm a big fan of Indie rock and listen mostly to Alt Nation and Sirius XMU. I can only have chill channel or classical music while I write, and I'm always looking for new music no matter the genre. At my core, though, I'm a rocker.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I took ballet the whole of my childhood and teen years, and seriously pursued a career as a ballerina. I have a character named Chelsea in both "Princess Smile" and "Camera Ready" who is a professional ballet dancer.