Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I actually struggled with reading when I was really small, but once I started reading stories on my own I also started writing. I was in elementary school when I wrote a poem for a man that died at my church, and it was printed in the weekly paper they gave out each Sunday. My other early memory of writing is from the fourth grade. My class learned about short stories and I wrote one about a girl finding a unicorn in the forest. I saved up my allowance and bought an electric typewriter and subscribed to Writer's Digest. I discovered my passion for art around the fourth grade as well so they've always both been close to my heart.
What makes writing your passion?
It's always been who I am. People know me as a creative who loves to write, paint, and create. I'm constantly making new stories in my head, so I usually have several ideas for a novel. Sometimes I end up working on several at a time, which can be a little frustrating.
How long have you been writing?
I started around age ten so it's been a little over three decades!
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Excited and scared! it's nerve wrecking to put something so close to your heart out there for the world to judge. I was first published professionally in a short story journal out of Australia. After that I worked with small publishers and then jumped into self-publishing around 2010. No matter how much feedback, editing, and proofreading you do, you're still nervous that someone will find something wrong with your story, or they just won't like your writing style. I always get that nervous feeling, like I'm walking out onto stage, but I've also grown more confident and excited about sharing my characters and stories.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
Most of my characters pop into my head along with the story idea. I'll see a set up -- like what would happen if a man walked out the front door to leave his family but he found an abandoned baby there -- and the idea will have the character in it. They go hand in hand because the conflict in the idea is often the very obstacle that character needs to take them to a better place in life.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
I dislike all the marketing gimmicks out there. There's so many author groups that game the system to push their books higher in the charts. I wish everyone publishing books had a real passion for storytelling. But, it's a business and many
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
By writing! I switch stories, scenes, or even interview my character. I might also take that character and drop them in another story and imagine what would happen, just to get to know them better.
Often, however, I take "writer's block" as a sign that what I'm working on is boring or not working, so I might cut that scene and replace it.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
For me, there isn't an option to quit. I have stepped back from publishing for a year or two at a time, but I can't stop writing. That's the advice I'd give others. Follow this path if you can't stop yourself!
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Self-publish sooner! Learn about publishing quality and hire quality help.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Sometimes you just have to laugh at them, and remind yourself that only about10% of readers leave a review and often it's because they didn't like the story. So there are many that loved the story but don't like to leave reviews.
I've have awesome reviews that made me feel like I'm making a difference and even helped someone through a tough time.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
It's amazing! That's the whole point of writing. I want to connect with readers and take them on a journey. I want my stories to entertain and evoke emotions, and maybe show readers a different world or viewpoint.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Authors use real emotions to fuel their stories. So if my character is experiencing something, I have to find an experience in my life that helps me understand how they would feel.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
When writing a novel, I always identify with the characters on some level. They might be similar to a certain aspect of me or someone I know. Or I might give them one of my hobbies. I think it's the growth and experience that I identify with the most, and that's what readers want in a book too.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
The cover catches readers' attention and is the first step to selling a story. So it's very important. But when I see a book with a ton of reviews or it's by an author I love, I don't think about the cover as much. Many women's fiction novels have generic covers that don't show people or anything about the story, so I go look at reviews or go by a friend's suggestion.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
Writing can get lonely. I connect with the characters, but I really want to know how real people out there connect with my characters and story. So yes, it means so much when a reader reaches out through email, FB, or another site. I like to read reviews for that connection but it's so cool to talk to a reader who enjoyed one or more of my novels!
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
That's a feeling everyone loves! One writing trick is to use universal fantasies in stories, like having servants do everything or getting rich, or even getting forgiveness from someone you love. Getting recognized is one of those universal fantasies we all daydream about, so it's really a dream come true when you get a raving review or fan email.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I have a list of authors I one-click without reading the description: Barbara O'Neal, Karen McQuestion, and Glendy Vanderah to name a few. They write amazing characters that feel super real and relatable and grow throughout the story. Their stories have intrigue, family, relationships, life stuff, and romance, the perfect mix to me.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
Gosh, I could make a list! Most authors, if not all, would love to be known to all the readers of their genre. But there are millions of books these days and millions of readers, so you can have a good career writing for your people without ever getting a big book or movie deal.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
I'm actually revising my novel More Than Memories to release a 10 year anniversary edition that includes the follow up novella. I feel I've learned so much as an author and wanted to improve the writing and story, and I also wanted to revisit those characters. I have other novels that I rewrote many, many times when I was early in my career.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
I've worked too hard and put too much passion into my novels to want to actually switch with another writer. But, it would be fun to be someone huge for a day or week or even month and experience their writing methods. Maybe Kristin Hannah or one of the authors I listed above.
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.
Get a life! And a different job. I have several businesses and know there's all kinds of trolls, some just bored and being a bully online and others paid by competitors. I do read reviews for insight on what I can improve but the best advice is from 3 or 4 star reviews from real readers. If someone is just ranting, then the book wasn't for them or they're trying to do harm.
What would you say to your readers?
I love to connect and hear what you think of my novels. It helps me to know what really works on your end and which stories you like the best and what you like about them. I have several different types of romance and sometimes try something new like The Billionaire Who Bought Me, so feedback keeps me on track. Plus it's fun to get to know readers!
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I'm an Oregon girl. I was born and raise here and only moved out of Oregon for 2.5 years. I grew up in a tiny town called Yoncalla and moved all around the state, from Portland to Ashland, Klamath Falls, and back up to Eugene in the middle of the state. I'm married with three kids who are currently 21, 19, and 18. I also have two giant dogs, chickens, and honeybees. I love gardening and having a little urban farm, plus getting out in nature for hiking.
What is your day job if you have one?
I was a full time write for a long time and then I added in tattooing about four years ago. I do that part time, and we also have an ATV rental business and a newly launched food truck. The weather has been cold this week so I take my laptop along to write -- like writing this interview.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Writing and tattooing are fun so they can seem like a hobby and a job. I also really enjoy working in our food truck, although I plan to hire help and spend less days there. In actual free time, I like to paint landscapes, hike, forage for wild mushrooms and berries, and travel. And of course there's always spending time with family and friends and reading.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I have a few novels that I typed on my electric typewriter. The first is a pirate story that I rewrote several times. First there's two siblings kidnapped by pirates. By the final version, it was a love story where a young girl fell in love with the pirate captain and made him into a good person. I also have a novel I called Island Tribe, that was basically a modern day retelling of Swiss Family Robinson with an all kid cast. I didn't realize until much later that I'd rewritten my favorite movie. The last unpublished novel got rewritten many times over, and there's actually a published version called The Enemy's Son. It wasn't my first published book but it was the story that I wrote before any of my other published novels.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
What is your favorite music?
Share a secret with us 🙂
I really don't like the word "stride." Characters in books stride across rooms all the time but no one in real life ever does. What does it even look like? A pirate walk? Or Conor McGregor walking into the fighting ring?? It's just such a weird word to me.