A lot of times when I do interviews, I get asked about what weird writer habits I have. I have quite a few.
I’m crazy anal about naming my characters. Legit. There’s meaning in almost every single character name. Often the name means nothing to anyone but me, but I must have a good character name to develop them. I will spend days agonizing over baby naming sites and going back and forth with people trying to figure it out. And then there are some characters, like Mason in Virtue and Honor, who name themselves. I had named him Mason, and then changed it to something else. But when I started typing the story, I found I had stopped using the new name and defaulted to Mason for several pages. That’s when I knew Mason was going to be his name.
But that’s not the weirdest habit I have—not by a longshot.
My critique partners get texts of pics I take of my monitor with good lines highlighted. Often at all hours of the night. Because I get so proud of lines and I am compelled to share them with someone.
But that’s not the weirdest habit I have either.
My weirdest habit started the Christmas after I wrote Virtue of Death. My husband scoured the internet to find a pair of angel wings earrings—that didn’t have feathers (that was the hardest part for him, as most angel wings are depicted with feathers but my angels do not). I loved them, and I still wear them to almost all book signings and author events I attend. But that started a slippery slope…
Now, every time I get a contract for a story, I pick up a piece of jewelry. They are great conversation starters, believe it or not.
For “Just What I Need,” which was included in Unintentional: North American Edition, I ordered a pair of earrings off etsy that were chocolate covered doughnuts because doughnuts play a role in that story.
For the Earthbound Angels trilogy, I had the earrings my husband kicked it all off with. But I also have three silver stackable rings that I wear on my right hand. One has blue topaz, one emerald, and the other amethyst, each representing one of the books.
For Wreck You, I picked up two pairs of earrings—one is dangly Corvette symbols and the others are studs in the shape of wrenches. Perfect for my grease monkeys with a love of little, red Corvettes.
For “Boston Crème Breakdown” in Food and Romance Go Together, I bought earrings with the @ symbol, as a large part of their romance takes place in emails.
For Anticipating Temptation, a novella coming out later this summer, I already had a pair of dangly star earrings, so I picked up a pair of crescent moons. A crescent moon with a shooting star is an earring combination the main character wears.
It’s a little quirky, but it’s fun to try and figure out the best piece of jewelry to get to play off a new piece, and they are fabulous conversation starters. Sometimes I come up with more than one idea, so I keep one and use the other as a giveaway.
Mi Amor is another novella coming later this summer… and I haven’t figured out what I’m going to get for that one. (Though I do know the giveaway that will be for that one.) Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to find out about all my releases and giveaways.
Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I grew up in Virginia Beach, which is the setting of Virtue of Death. It’s no coincidence. I currently live in Kentucky, but I haven’t set a story there… yet. Give me time, it’ll happen.
Tell us your latest news!
July 29 will be the release of Virtue and Honor, the third in the Earthbound Angels trilogy. I was included in an anthology that came out in early may called Food and Romance Go Together, and I have a new novella coming out sometime this summer. I might even have some free flash fics coming your way this summer too.
When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve written for as long as I remember. Even in the second grade I was put on the newspaper staff, and that’s when it all began. Then I got a degree in journalism, and the rest kind of writes itself, doesn’t it? I don’t work in the news anymore, but I’m constantly writing and editing something in one form or another.
As far as Virtue of Death—it was a NaNoWriMo project. I had written the worst novel ever written (as judged by me) during the previous NaNoWriMo, and after it was rejected once I washed my hands of writing for a while. I couldn’t do that to myself again. But when November rolled around, I felt the pull and I had to write something. I didn’t think anything would ever come of it, let alone a trilogy, but who am I to turn it down when the muse wants to talk to me?
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
Growing up I always had a book in my hand. Sometimes more than one. I had so many books the shelves in my room were jam-packed, and had spread to a shelf in our bonus room. By the time I was eleven, I was picking up the Danielle Steel books behind my mom. Daddy was the first one I read, and I still own that copy. It was my first romance… but definitely not my last. It’s still my go-to genre for reading, as well as writing.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
The characters in Virtue and Honor were tricky. The main characters from Virtue of Death and Promises of Virtue are included, and that was always going to be the case. At first the third book was going to be a prequel, but that information largely made it into Virtue of Death, so I was out of luck. Then I was going to write about Cheryl’s dad, but I only got a few chapters in before I realized that just wasn’t going to work. Then came my breakthrough and the first few chapters kind of wrote themselves. I was about two-thirds of the way through when I decided to change the conflict—no biggie, right? Ha! But I don’t ever do things the easy way.
What motivates you to write?
Escapism. It’s similar to why readers read. To fall into another world. I like letting the characters write their own story, because then I’m just as surprised as readers are when I see the final result. (I don’t say that to make me sound crazy, though I know it sounds like I am. I just don’t like forcing my characters into a mold, I’m always doomed to failure when I do that.)
What is the hardest part of writing?
When I start a new piece, getting a feel for the characters. When I wrote Honor, the beginning was a complete uphill battle because I just wasn’t yet connected to Angela and Mason quite like I was to Sera and Destin or Cheryl and Luc. Once I was comfortable with them, the story flowed quite nicely, and I really like them. I hope everyone else winds up loving them as much as I do.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn a lot with every book I write. Most notably what new internet rabbit holes I found while “researching” (read: avoiding writing).
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. There’s a scene in Honor where she hits his parked car in the garage. That actually happened to me. A friend ran right into my car in the garage. Believe it or not, she begged me to put it in a book, so I did.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband and daughter are proud. My mom actually has read the first two Earthbound Angels books and loved them (I was shocked), and my step-dad is fully convinced I write smut. I don’t, but it’s not worth correcting him. (Though, I have. None of it’s been published yet. Because sometimes you’re just in the mood for some smut.)
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
I get asked this a lot, and I never know what to say. First and foremost, I’d say to keep writing and keep reading. Those two things will help you hone your craft, even if you don’t realize it consciously.
Another thing is that there will be a lot of rejections—from publishers, editors, agents, reviewers, readers, everyone seems to be out there to chase you with a big sign that says you’re not good enough. But you are. What may not work for one person may be the very thing a different publisher, editor, agent, reviewer, or reader was looking for.
I guess finally—and this one applies once you’ve been published—learn to let the bad reviews roll off your back. It’s hard, I know, because that piece you put out there is your baby and contains months or years of blood, sweat, tears, and stress. But not everyone’s going to get it and that’s okay. If we all liked the same books, life would be boring
What book are you reading now?
Right now I’m buried in work. But as soon as I climb out of this stack of papers that blocks the sunlight, I have a TBR that’s ready to topple over and crush me at any minute. The first five on that stack are: Elizabeth by Marie Piper (the final in her Monsters and Maidens series), Do Not Disturb by Mary Billiter, Breaking the Cycle by Megan Lowe (both of those are books I should have read long ago but never got to it, but they just released the second books in those series so I need to catch up), an ARC of Forget Me Not, a novella from Em Shotwell, and an ARC of Ravenous, a vampire anthology that comes out October 13.
Excerpt from Virtue and Honor
A low click echoed in her ears. The people around her acted oblivious to the sound, but it rattled through her, setting every nerve in her body on fire. It was the sound of a cocking gun, and she swallowed hard. After three years of working miracles, her boss must have expected her to be desensitized to the sound, but she was not.
The sound of the trigger as it moved backward was enough to cause her heart to leap into her throat, followed by the explosion that came as a bullet exited the chamber. Each painful second moved in slow motion, the bullet slicing its way through the air, a path set straight for the sweaty chest of the guy who had smiled at her moments before.
Ignoring the eyes that might be on her, she wrapped herself in invisibility, and let out her wings as she jumped into the air. Drawing attention to herself by disappearing in front of them was a huge risk, but as the piece of metal tore through the air, she had no other choice. If she was chastised later for her actions, so be it. She wasn’t going to let a bullet take someone, not on her watch.
She made contact with him, slamming hard into his chest and wrapping her arms around him. A searing pain spread across her shoulder, and she bit her lip as hard as possible to keep herself from making a sound as they fell to the ground. The last thing she needed, in addition to everything else that night, was for him to know she was there.
Fluttering her wings, she tried to ease their descent to the floor, but her left wing remained still. Something was wrong—very wrong.
Randi has spent her entire life writing in one form or another. In fact, if she wasn’t writing, she’d likely go completely and utterly insane. Her husband has learned to recognize when the voices are talking in her head and she needs some quality time with an empty Word file (the key to a successful marriage with a writer).
She lives with her husband, daughter, and four-legged children—all of which think they are people too.
A pop-culture junkie, she has been known to have entire conversations in movie quotes and/or song lyrics.
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