If I was witty, I’d come up with something funny to introduce myself, but I’m just not. I consider myself rather shy and self-conscious, but I’ve had a dream. Not THAT big a dream, but one that’s been inside me for a long, long time. I wanted to be a writer.
As a child, I had an active imagination which is something I think many children severely lack nowadays. It makes me sound old-fashion, and perhaps in some ways, I am. I loved creating stories in my head and making my Barbies act out the fantasy, so believe me I was thrilled when I read my first real romance: Judy Bloom’s Forever. It was YA, but practically scandalous for a 13 year old Catholic school girl to read about two fifteen year old, high school students experiencing their first love and their first time. Reading opened the door to my romantic imagination, but eventually lead to my desire to read anything and everything that included angst, struggle, survival, and, of course, happily ever after.
As I grew older, I was an avid reader, and then one day, I stopped. I was sick of everyone getting their happily ever after in books. It wasn’t real life, and I was done. For years I didn’t read, but the nagging imagination surfaced in the back of my head. I was determined to write the Great American Novel ((raising fist in air and roaring triumphantly)). However, that idea might have fallen into THAT category of too big a dream, until a friend said to me, why does it have to be the Great American Novel? Why can’t it just be a good story? An idea was born…and died. I wrote my first novel and it never went anywhere but a flash-drive and too many rejections from traditional publishers. Remember I said I’m self-conscious, and I took that rejection hard. It was personal when it shouldn’t have been.
But in 2009, I had a story to tell and it haunted me. It was in my mind every night and it was in my thoughts throughout the day. I tweaked it and reworked it and argued with myself about it. Finally, I said, I’m just going to write it down. I did, and it sat for three years.
I’m a big believer in signs; signs that you should or should not do something. My sign was the inspiration for Jess Carter from Sound Advice. See, I’ve never met him in real life, but his image is inspired by a real person who I saw for five seconds three years in a row. It wasn’t a random place either; it was Elk Rapids, Michigan where the entire Sensations Collection is set. Three is my lucky number and when I saw him for the third time, I thought what the heck, I’m going to open up that old story and see what happens.
But you want to know the real reason for writing a story and publishing a book? I had fulfilled one dream. I had children and motherhood was something I always wanted to experience. I also became a teacher (a second dream), twenty years after someone told me I didn’t have what it took to be a teacher. After a personal letdown in life, I decided I wasn’t waiting another twenty years to fulfill a third dream. I was going to write that story, and publish that book, and take that risk. If one other person liked it, I was happy. I’m easy to please, and one other person did like Sound Advice. It was all the encouragement I needed. I hit publish, took a deep breath, and prayed for the best. What happened after that has been a dream come true.
Am I on the New York Times Bestselling List? Nah…not yet. Amazon #1 Bestseller? Nope…not there yet either. But this guest blog isn’t about awards or accolades, it’s about fulfilling a dream. You’re never too old. You’re never too late. You just have to take the risk. If I failed, at least I knew I tried, but I’m not good at accepting failure, and I’m determined to prove that an over-active imagination isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s full of dreams…and stories…and I can’t wait to share them all.
I’d love to say I’ve written for 10,000 hours, and that makes me a pro. But I can’t say that. What I can say is I had a story in my head that wouldn’t go away. I thought typing it in my computer would be the end of things, but it only led to another story and another. I love reading, so characters in my head isn’t something new. What is new is my creation of them. Hope you enjoy my favorites as much as I do. Happy reading!
Q. Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence your writing?
I’m originally from Michigan, and I’d originally say Michigan had nothing to do with my writing, but I live in Chicago (20+ years) and Michigan has become the focus of my writing in the Sensations Collection. Small town, romantic opposites are the underlying theme of the series.
Q. Tell us your latest news??
Although the Sensations Collection isn’t complete, I am beginning a new series: Legendary Rock Stars. It begins with The Legend of Arturo King, releasing January 27, 2015. ((wiggle wiggle)) I can’t wait to share. It’s a bit edgier for me, with rock stars, steamy sex scenes and a slight mystery.
Q. When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
As I said in my guest blog, what inspired me to write was seeing a man I’ve never met. He had a daughter with him and he was promoting radio systems. I thought how strange it would be to repair radios if your daughter didn’t speak, if she made no sounds, and a story was born. I wrote that story in 2009, and didn’t think anything would come of it, but in 2013, I decided to revisit Sound Advice after a fluke encounter with my muse in the small town where the Sensations Collection is set, and boom…a series was born.
Q. What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
I love Jane Austen, so first and foremost to the queen of angst, love lost, love regained, sexual tension and happily ever after, I owe everything. Next is Stephanie Meyer, and it wasn’t just because I was a huge Twilight fan. It was because she had a dream and the story nagged her until she wrote it down. She inspired me unknowingly but on a personal level to follow through with writing my stories. Last, I’d say Jay Crownover. She seems down to earth, answered some questions for me and I’ve followed her from the day Rome was on ibooks. Despite the ink, her characters seemed more realistic and I found it encouraging in that readers might want to read about love from a male character other than a vampire, billionaires, or some other unobtainable persona.
Q. Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
Jess Carter I’ve explained. He’s from a real life experience. Emily Post, I guess, would be a younger version of me. From Chicago, starting out in life, but unsure of herself and not completely happy in her career, she returns to the small town to find what she’s missing. They were in my head for years!! Ethan Scott and Ella Vincent (Taste Test) came to me rather quickly when I knew I wanted to write a Beauty and the Beast re-make with the beast as a woman and the beauty as a man. Pam Carter and Jacob Vincent (Fragrance Free), and the upcoming Gavin Scott and Britton McKay (Touch Screen), almost choked each other out in my head and I wrote three novels in under three months. It was crazy.
Arturo King, and his band mates: Lansing Lotte, Perkins Vale, and Tristan Lyons are all based on the legendary King Arthur. I teach that legend to my students and I love it. One day I’m driving home from work and think if King Arthur lived today, he’d be a rock star. Bam!! New series born.
Q. What motivates you to write?
Fairy tales. Myths and legends. Shakespeare. Music. To modernize a fairy tale, or a legend, or a Shakespeare storyline gives me goose-bumps. Classics retold in a modern fashion I love, but I’ve also had some inspiration thinking of extreme situations. What if you inherited a child? What if you were a mail order bride? What if your child could talk, but suddenly didn’t? What if you lost a limb?
Q. What is the hardest part of writing?
Sometimes staying focused, but mostly finding time. I work full time as a middle school language arts teacher, and I’m the mother of four teenagers. My life is not always my own.
Q. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Writing is easy. Promoting is hard. That in and of itself could be full time, and it’s all about networking, connecting, and relationship building which can be difficult when you don’t have full time to devote to it.
Q. Where do you get your ideas?
Again, real world situations for the Sensations Collection, but the Legend of King Arthur for the Legendary Rock Star series. I have a new story brewing in my head and it honestly came from the Bible. Two brothers. One kills the other. It’s a classic, right?
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
I’d like to think they are proud of my accomplishment, but I honestly can’t say that. My mother didn’t think I could do it. She’s the one that accused me of the over-active imagination. My husband has been as patient as he can be once he found out what I was doing which was only a month before I hit publish. My children thought it was cool until they noticed I’m almost always on my computer, typing a book, networking on Facebook, or oogling hot men on Pinterest.
Q. What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Do it, but I’ve learned a few things from reading other new authors. Find an editor. Have beta readers. And learn what a blogger does for authors!! Beta readers can’t be your best friends. They are bias. They will love it. Find outside sources. Find an editor and still have someone proofread your work. I’m still not perfect in this area. Blogs? I didn’t even know what one was when I hit publish. Now, I can’t live without you ladies!! But bottom line, take the risk. If you only sell ten, you still sold ten. You published a book for heaven’s sake, be proud of yourself.
Q. What book are you reading now?
I just finished Ripped by Katy Evans and Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward, both part of my collection of go to authors. I’m in a bit of a lull as I work on edits for both The Legend of Arturo King and Touch Screen, Sensations Collection Book 4. It’s almost funny to say, but I miss reading while I’m writing. I never want to risk taking an idea from another writer though, so I’m rather selective when I read.
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