Frequently Asked Questions
How did you get started with your writing career?
A long, long time ago, I was working full-time at a small two-year college in Northern Georgia as an instructor, had two children in elementary school, and was working on my PhD in political science. I was being pulled in a thousand directions and, between work, classes, homework, and the kiddos, I had no time to relax.
Back then, I relaxed by reading. I loved, loved, LOVED to read. Sadly, I’m not a one-chapter-a-day reader. At the time, I was a book-a-day reader, and the tiny bites method of reading didn’t let me relax at all. So, in an effort to make the most of my tiny window of free time, I decided to write a book instead. Every day, I’d write two, maybe three, pages. Between that slow writing schedule, and my other obligations, it took me a year and a half to write that first book.
When did you sell your first book?
I started writing in 1996 and sold my first book in 1998, which published in January 2000. Since then, I’ve written over thirty books and a number of novellas.
It’s funny, but I can still remember the exact moment that I sold that first book. I was so, so tired because I’d been up most of the night working on a research project and was standing on a huge pile of laundry in my laundry room, arguing with five-year-old about why she couldn’t have a pony (on half an acre? REALLY?) when an editor from HarperCollins called. I was so, so, SO excited.
A few months later, I was sitting in my dining room reading my new contract when I realized I was going to have to make a difficult decision. I couldn’t continue working on my PhD and write a book on a deadline. There simply wasn’t enough time in the day to do both. And so I became a college dropout. I finished that semester (and got all A’s too), but that was it for me. In celebration of accepting my first book contract, I burned my stats book in my front yard and danced around the fire. There may have been some champagne involved. I’m not sayin’.
Where did you get the inspiration for the Dove Pond Series?
I always keep a little notebook with me wherever I go, so I can write down ideas. I was moving about five years ago, and I found one of my notebooks tucked in the back of a drawer. There, on the first page, I’d scribbled a few paragraphs about a man called Doyle Cloyd. If you’ve read any of my Dove Pond novellas – LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON or THE LAST CHANCE MOTEL, you’ve met Doyle. He’s one of my favorite characters.
Anyway, I loved the idea I’d captured in those few paragraphs, a story set in a small town at the foot of Black Mountain in North Carolina where magic is as common as air.
When I started writing the Dove Pond Series, I wanted to use the softening filter of that magic to address the thornier issues of life. THE BOOK CHARMER touches on Alzheimer’s, acceptance, and the richness of true friendship. A CUP OF SILVER LININGS deals with loss, betrayal, and the power of forgiveness. The next book in the series, which I’m calling DOVE POND III, is about fear, love, and commitment.
I work hard to make sure every Dove Pond book is touching, engrossing, and delicate in how it approaches the heavier subjects in life. Love and hope always win in Dove Pond!
What’s the hardest/easiest part(s) of writing?
The easiest (and most fun) part of writing is brainstorming. I love that “anything goes” moment when you’re just letting your mind wander and ask “what ifs” like they’re free. The writing part isn’t nearly as fun. In fact, of the three parts of writing – brainstorming, writing, and then editing, I hate the writing part the most. Why? Because you have to sit for hours, and as you write the story, it gets more and more complicated.
Authors are constantly asking themselves questions and having to make difficult, complex decisions. What’s the character’s history? How would they react to what just happened/was said? How does their voice differ from the other characters? How does this scene move the story forward? Is this light enough? Emotionally true? Does it continue the story or complicate it for no reason?
The farther along I go, the more questions I have to answer, and it can get wearing.
Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?
This is a hard question for some authors to answer, but it’s easy for me. My favorite book is the one I’m working on now. I feel that way because I’m usually so immersed in the story I’m writing that the characters become close, personal friends.
To be honest, when I finish a book – really finish it, after edits, etc. – for a while, I feel displaced and out of step with the real world. It’s almost like a gentle, sad-like mourning. My husband, aka Cap’n Hot Cop, knows about this and often plans a “cheer up the sad author” night out, which helps. He knows that it can be discombobulating to live in two worlds at once.
Do you plan on writing more historical romances? Yes! I have the next two books for the Made To Marry Series outlined. It’s a question of time, not desire. The second I have Book II ready for release, I’ll announce it in my newsletter.