Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I started off reporting in college for my school paper and for a local daily newspaper in Connecticut, I then went on to get my master's degree in journalism. However, I didn't always care for the topics being assigned to me, so I started a silly blog 16 years ago where I chronicled bad dates and my adventures. Through blogging, I developed my "voice" and finally decided to pursue my real passion - romance writing about seven years ago.
What makes writing your passion?
It's my creative outlet and I can't imagine my life without writing. I'm always crafting dialogue in my head, even when I try to sleep my characters seem to haunt me with ideas. I now keep a notebook on my nightstand otherwise I forget it all by morning.
How long have you been writing?
I've always been writing as a hobby and for my professional career, but I only started penning romantic fiction about seven years ago.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Now what, haha. Publishing Jesse's Girl after years of revisions, rejections, editors, etc, was a dream accomplished, no more regrets. But like in life, it was time to move on to my next story and I got busy writing again. My peers warned me it was addictive and that your next book sells your last book, so there was no stopping, I was off writing again
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
I usually focus on their careers and meet-cutes first and then build around that, adding in the settings, backstories, etc.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Dealing with non-romance readers and getting my books and the genre the attention it deserves. There is still a stigma to writing romance, it's the bastard child of the publishing world, yet according to Fortune, it is the second most popular fiction genre overall—second only to general adult fiction.
Oh, and not only finding readers, but getting fans to rate and review is another challenge.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
By reading. When I'm stuck inside my head or if I've written my characters in a corner, I'll take a break, maybe a week off and simply read. After all, I was a romance reader first and foremost.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
I actually like the marketing aspect. I know a lot of authors find it daunting and it can be, I also enjoy each success. Each tweet, tag, review, connecting with authors and readers on social media, discovering new platforms to promote my work, etc. Each win, shows me that there is more ahead. As for new authors, definitely join a local authors group where you can learn from others, deepen your craft and connect with those going through the same work struggles.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
You're on the right track. Each step took me to where I am now, so I would simply give myself the encouragement that it will all work out. What a relief to have known that earlier on.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I am constantly checking my amazon book pages and Goodreads. For the most part, the reviews have been positive and can totally make my week. I have learned from some of the mediocre reviews too, for example, several commented that they would have liked an epilogue. I personally don't like epilogues after the happily ever after, however, I challenged myself and added one for my recent release One More Kiss. Meanwhile, the annoying thing about the bad reviews is that they never really go into any depth it's just a low star rating without any context, so I don't know what it was that turned them off, but maybe it's better that way, lol.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
It's literally the best thing ever. It doesn't matter how many times people you know say they like your work, it's reading the words of a stranger saying that I made them laugh or how much they enjoyed my characters that gives me the confidence to keep writing, to keep creating.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Yes, always. They say write about what you know, so I've based two characters' careers on ones that I pursued (marketing and journalism). I'll also often add in real dialogue from my real-life conversations with friends. And the grandmother in my short story It Might Be You, is my nanny all the way.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
There is a little bit of me in all my characters, but probably more so Eve in Don't Start Now. She's a travel writer living in Florida looking to make it on her own. She's sassy and independent but hasn't been the best judge when it comes to relationships.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
Extremely! My bestie and I text each other bad covers all the time and I never wanted that to happen to my books after working so hard on them. Luckily, my friend for many years, before I was published, is a talented cover artist and we'll hash out the ideas for my covers together. I then send the mockups to my bestie for her critical eye. It's served me well as Mine to Five won several cover contests.
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 it. I'll do signings and events quarterly in the hopes of connecting with new readers. I recently had the honor of being invited to a book club discussion of my book and it was great hearing their impressions and giving them some background on the writing process for it.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
It's humbling. I often get tongue-tied though and that is when I wish I had a chance to write up a witty response instead, lol.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Judith McNaught. Discovering her books in high school made me a romance fan and got me dreaming of writing my own one day.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
Well, who wouldn't want to be as talented and successful as Nora Roberts, but really I'd take any USA Today Best Seller, lol. I admire the career of my friend Farrah Rochon though. She started writing for Halequin and other imprints for over a decade, self-published too and now her work is being raved by EW, Oprah and recently sold the film rights. Wow!
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
I wouldn't because the whole tone would be different, because I'm no longer in the headspace I was when I originally wrote it. However, I am picking up Jesse's Girl again to make it into a series, so it's giving me the chance to write those characters again and to revisit the fictional small-town of East Dodge, Texas.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
Again Nora Roberts! She even has a book store *sigh*
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 once had a boss tell me when drafting an email response to ask yourself these questions "is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?" I wish these trolls would consider the same questions before posting. One bad review can hurt the success of a book and the self-esteem of a writer that has put their blood sweat and tears into their work.
What would you say to your readers?
Hi! lol I don't know. I usually ask them which is their favorite of my books and what story would they like to see written.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I'm a native New Yorker, lived in LA for five years after college and now am in Southwest Florida with my husband, twin boys and four cats.
What is your day job if you have one?
Former PR executive and journalist, but now I'm a social media manager on the side when not writing.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I like skiing, reading, traveling, cruising, baseball.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Now that's a loaded question. Happy, but clouded with lots of loss. It's made me who I am and I'm thankful for the strength and perspective gained.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
I used to write poetry to express my teenage thoughts and after my father passed away when I was 17, it really helped me grieve.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I did, but since revamped and published it. Mine to Five is based on a manuscript that I first wrote in high school and college years, which I then revisited but of course, most of it had to be scrapped.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
Creative Writing! It's all so technical lately that it's taking the joy of reading and writing away from kids.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
The ability to transport to anywhere with a snap of my fingers (gelato in Rome, snap, mountain hike, snap)
To meet my sister.
Cure for cancer.
What is your favorite music?
Share a secret with us 🙂
I'm not wearing underwear lol