What is something unique/quirky about you?
I have absolutely no moles or beauty marks. I’ve got tons of freckles because I’m a natural red head but no moles. My doctors usually seem surprised that I don’t have at least one you two of those 🙂
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
I’ve been bitten by a monkey! It’s true! My mom got into wildlife rehabilitation and we grew up with orphaned, injured, or abandoned squirrels being rehabilitated to be released back in the wild. My mom kept wanting unique pets, as if having baby squirrels sleeping in the elbows of our sleeves wasn’t unique enough!
At one point, she considered getting a fox as a pet. For a ton of reasons (besides it being hard to get approval in the state we were in to have them), she quickly gave up that idea. She then considered getting a monkey as a pet. We went to visit a woman who had one she was looking to rehome. It was a little female chimp! The woman also had some smaller monkeys in a separate cage as well. I first checked out the smaller ones before I moved over to the female chimp.
Now, this woman had a male partner in the home and he had been outside chopping firewood or something. When I went over to the chimp, she kept blowing kisses at me and seemed to be asking for me to pet her. I slipped my pointer finger in the cage and she pulled it close to nuzzle it and rub her face along it. This went on for a few seconds until the guy came inside. The next thing I knew, my finger was in her mouth and she’d bitten me! I was so shocked I didn’t cry at first. Apparently when her male owner gave me a brief hello, she got jealous. So, I have a monkey bite scar on my left pointer finger!
What are some of your pet peeves?
I have a couple…um…people who bend book pages or wrap paperback covers around and break the spine. I like to keep my books looking as brand new as I can. I’ve got books that are nearing 30 years old that look only a month old. I’m pretty protective of my book collection.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I used to dance. I love dancing and it’s a great way to let off steam and burn some energy. Unfortunately, I haven’t been dancing as much as I’d like because I’ve been dealing with a Hip Labreal Tear. It’s causing me some issues and I walk slower than a newly crawling baby right now. I like to play games on my phone, watch a comedy, or sit in my tub with the shower raining on me as I read a book. That is my ultimate relaxing time!
How to find time to write as a parent?
It’s hard! I’m a single parent so it’s all on me to watch my son. I sneak in time in the morning if I wake up before him, in the bathroom, or in the shower. I write during nap time or after he’s gone to bed. I try putting on cartoons or movies to keep him entertained while I try to get an hour of writing in the morning. My living room hasn’t survive a few writing sessions and the interruptions can be endless. I just keep plugging away, silently in awe of authors who write 8,000 words in a day and I’m thankful I managed 500! I can’t tell you the mom guilt I feel when my son is repeatedly asking me to look at something or saying the same thing over and over, waiting for me to react and I get frustrated and yell, ‘Gimme a second!!!’ or ‘I heard you! Let me finish this one dang blasted sentence, pleeeeeasse!”
It’s truly hard and I always feel torn between writing and my son.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
A creative, mercurial, stubborn, artistic mother.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure. I’ve written for years, as far back as high school. The story Aroma and Damien in Castles in the Sky was written my senior year in high school. I started writing a historical romance back around that time too. I think it was around then. I never finished that story. I think the times I got hit by writers block and doubt made it hard for me to say ‘I’m a writer’. I don’t think I embraced that term until I started writing reviews on my blog site. Even then, I wondered are you really considered a writer if you don’t get paid for it? Then I started two other books that I didn’t finish until just recently. It wasn’t until I finally finished Locked Out that I fully owned the term ‘Author’. I still feel self-conscious about calling myself one.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I have a couple different ones. One is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Robert Downey Jr. I love the dry humor in that movie. I also like Transformers for the same reason. Adventures in Babysitting, with Elisabeth Shue (sp?). Six Days Seven Knights, because it’s funny 😉 Knight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz – the line about nobody move or I’ll kill myself then shot the girl grabbed my heart. Deadpool and Deadpool 2 because Ryan Reynolds is God in those movies. ‘Right up main street’. ‘High wind warnings’. That kind of humor is something I love in movies. Finding Nemo. Big Trouble in Litter China Town, Monster Squad (Wolfman got nards!), Princess Bride, The Proposal, Spaceballs (They’ve gone plaid!). I could go on…it’s safe to say, I like movies 🙂
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Honestly, both of them. When I write, it’s like a movie playing in my head. I see the scenes and characters and I’m watching them as I write. It’s a totally visual experience and how I describe things. It’s really difficult when I see it in my head but can’t find the words to do it justice.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
None, except where books have taken me…
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I have no idea. The avatar for my author website is the silhouette I created for Emeline and Kruffles. I love how it stands out. I’m hoping to make one of Autumn and Desmin. Then maybe another one of Autumn, Desmin, and Castle. Of course, I’ll have to create one of Snow White, Hunter, and Binks. This is why I have no idea – it’s because I have too many ideas!
What inspired you to write this book?
I started writing Locked Out about…oh wow…this will age me, let’s just say, 10 years ago. I’d wanted to write a book for the longest time and then I got the idea while I was working a large home improvement store at the time. I had the whole series plotted out by department. I was excited. I would hand write the chapters on my lunch hours and would type them up when I got home. I thought I had something pretty original and then I started seeing a bunch of cozy mysteries with themes close to mine and I got hit with doubt. Then I injured my right wrist and I couldn’t write much less type for a number of months after that. Life got in the way and I didn’t revisit Locked Out again until I finished Even Halos Can Be Crooked. I read the first 15 chapters and fell in love with the story all over again. I had to finish it to know how it ended!
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ve got ambitious goals for the future. I’ve got the second books to write in both the Crooked Halos and Welcome to Rebuild series. I’m this close to finishing Dead Princess Walking, the first book in a Snow White Fairy Tale retelling. I’ve got a couple Romance Suspense Thrillers – stand alones – that I want to write. There’s the children’s picture book I’ve written and need to finish the illustrations for.
All in all, I’m set for at least another 7 books in Crooked Halos series, 14 in the Rebuild series, and 7 more in the Dead Princess Walking series. Plus the 2 stand alones and the picture book. I really hope I get to write them all!!
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Yes! Desmin has a few short stories. I have the idea to do a collection of short stories for him based on holidays but I haven’t had time to write them yet. That was another book idea I have. I’m considering doing a separate Fairy Tale retelling for one of my characters in Dead Princess Walking. He’s set to be part of another Fairy Tale and I feel his story needs to be told! Ye gods, that makes almost 34 book ideas waiting for me to write them! I also would like to tell Brandon and Hawk’s stories, Ethan’s brothers in Locked Out. Theses aren’t written yet but keep an eye out for them..
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Locked Out?
Emeline is a twenty-something young lady who’s made a few big changes in her life. She recently broke up with an ex and lost her job because he didn’t take kindly to being dumped. She’s started a new job that is completely different from anything she was doing before. She’s generally happy, quick to laugh, a loyal friend, and being deceived in so many ways that her world is turned upside down by the end of the book.
She meets Ethan Walker at her new job and the chemistry is all there but she can feel somethings off. Even though he’s charming, funny, and obviously interested, she’s not so sure she can trust him.
I want to share more but I don’t want to risk giving away anything to do with the mystery! Not even about her food stealing cat!
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
That’s hard to explain. My characters developed with the idea for the story. They grew as I wrote it. Sometimes they took over and changed my plot on me. I try to make my characters as real and relatable as possible. I’ll start writing with a general idea of what I want the story to be, plot point areas and scenes I want to include and then I steer the characters to where they make those scenes happen. Sometimes I get to a point and I get stuck, such as figuring out exactly who was behind the murder and crimes. I had an idea but as I wrote, that evolved, changed, and then it hit me! The perfect plot twist. So, I guess, the best answer is I came up with everything as I wrote it based off a general idea I had.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Picking names is hard!! Sometimes I have to think on it for a bit. I’ll toss out a few names or even leave a place holder until the name that suits the character comes to me. Emeline was always Emeline but her first full name was Emeline Murie Topaz. Since I’d used Murie Autumn Topaz as the name for my main character in Even Halos, I had to pick another full name for Emeline. Ethan was easy. He was Ethan Walker. That name just suited his character. Then I decided for Emeline I wanted to play with her name and I picked a popular crime solving last name for her – Watson! It was perfect. Picking her middle name took a little longer but when I said Emeline Annette Watson out loud, that was her name. It flowed and had strength to it.
I try to go across the alphabet when I’m picking names since I don’t want a novel filled with everyone’s names starting with an ‘E’ or an ‘H’ and sometimes I make up the names. I try not to get too wild because I want people to be able to pronounce the names. I really try to make sure the name fits the character. Names really mean a lot to me and my characters in my books. They help me develop the character so I am willing to wait until I’ve picked the right one!
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The characters! I loved telling their story and how they interacted. The action and suspense that kept me turn – er…lol – writing to see what happened next was great! I literally wrote the book like I was reading it or watching a movie. I wanted something fast paced, with suspense at every turn, and humor thrown in with steamy romance. I really enjoyed writing scenes with the Walker Brothers and Kruffles.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Ah…both my main characters have a strong sense of loyalty. They’re bold characters who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. A little hot headed when they feel threatened or are trying to protect someone they love. They’re brave yet vulnerable. Emeline has a quick temper but cools down easily and even though it seems like she jumps to conclusions, she takes the time to consider all options/possibilities. Ethan has a lot of hidden layers. Too many for me to begin to describe here. He takes his job seriously, he’s protective, he has a quick wit. He’s hard to narrow down to just a paragraph.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
At first, the title was going to be Welcome to Rebuild but I decided that would be the series name. I chose the title based on the location of the department and nature of the crimes.
Who designed your book covers?
I design my own covers. I haven’t reached the point where I can have a team that does it for me – yet. I’ve taught myself a lot learning how to create the covers and I’m so glad I decided to redo the cover for Locked Out. I spent a lot of time creating the first cover but when I saw how faded it looked when printed, I had to change it. I wanted something bold, that stood out, was easy to read, and not confusing or too busy. Creating a cover is just as difficult as formatting a book for print!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I’ve edited, read, and re-read Locked Out a number of times. Everything I’ve put in there has a purpose to the mystery. I tried to make sure each chapter counted and had something in it that connected everything to the ending.
What did you edit out of this book?
I edited a few things out because my cozy mystery was a wee bit too long. The first to go was a racy sex scene between the two main characters. Cozy mysteries are ‘The door swung shut’ type of romances not ‘He pulled my panties down….” type of romances. I did keep the steamy shower scene because… well, I really liked the scene and wanted it to stay. I also cut about 5 pages in the first chapter where the other new hires were introducing themselves. I then cut a scene I can’t share without giving away something that happens in the book. I’m trying not to give away any spoilers!
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Laurell K. Hamilton – Anita Blake series – books 1 thru 9
Kim Harrison – Rachel Morgan series – I like Fistful of Charms a great deal
Johanna Lindsey – Once a Princess
Judith McNaught – A Kingdom of Dream.and Whitney, My Love
Christopher Pike – Gimme a Kiss, Remember Me, Last Act
Katie McAlister – Fire Me Up
Mary Janice Davidson – Undead and Unwed
Of course I’m blanking on others…
Victoria Laurie – Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye series and M.J. Halliday series – Gilly!
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Definitely come to me as I write. I’ll be going along with my main characters and suddenly there’s a new player in the story. I have to think about who they are, do they move the story forward, will I need them later, are they just a prop for info….who am I kidding? I rarely flesh out side characters that much but for Crooked Halos first book, I had to set up character sheets so I could keep their features, wings, halos, scents, eye color, hair color, body type – so many things – straight. I have over 9 active characters in the book that will play into book 2. I need quick references so I remember who smells like hot chocolate and how to spell their names. Plus their personality. When I introduce a new character in that series, I almost have to set up a sheet just to keep track.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I research as I go. When I come up with a title, I do a search to make sure it’s unique and not one of 30 books with that title. I’ll look up angel names or Fae creatures to get ideas for what my characters could be. I did the most research so far with Dead Princess Walking. Although, I did have to research legal issues with using song lyrics for a book. That’s why Autumn wasn’t saying the exact lyrics when she was waking up from her accident or I only mentioned a title of a song. I have no interest in accidentally stepping on someone’s copyright.
Do you see writing as a career?
I’d love for it to be. I really just want to share my stories with as many people as I can and make a decent enough living to keep doing it. I’d also like to be able to afford advertising and marketing.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
I think it’s still rough. Now that it’s full of indie authors there’s a lot of new books out there and it’s hard to get noticed. There’s a number of books being published that are poorly edited, really novellas and not a book, or could be a truly great read but not able to shine through all the other books. Indie publishing a book doesn’t instantly get you noticed. I learned you really need to plan the cover release, the pre-book hype to gain interest, social media, the book tours, giveaways, getting the word out any way you can, researching the right audience for the book, and so many other things. And it is time consuming! I was so excited to finish Even Halos, I didn’t plan ahead for all the promoting. I tried hyping up Locked Out but it was delayed 5 months for editing so there’s that part of it too. Picking and sticking with a release date is important for promoting a book. I don’t feel right promoting a book I haven’t finished writing because I worry about not finishing it on time or at all! Then there’s planning for sending out ARCS to get reviews. It is definitely rough!
Pen or type writer or computer?
Cellphone!! Then my laptop for final editing and publishing. Crooked Halos was entirely written on my cell. I finished Locked Out on it and I’m writing Dead Princess Walking on it as well. It’s the only way I get to write with my young son running around.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes! I’ve hit it a few times. It’s the worst to get going along and then hit with doubt. Not being able to write the next scene stops everything. Or you start to think what you’ve written isn’t right or good enough to hold someone’s interest. Then there’s hitting the wall of not knowing what happens next or how to get your characters to the next scene. Not plotting out a book chapter by chapter makes it risky as you get going. It seems to be how I work though. I’ll have the general idea in my head, start writing, and steer my characters to the scenes that I see in my head, but sometimes things change as I’m writing and I love when that happens. Some of the greatest scenes I’ve written were not planned.