On Writing and Reading
What do you love most about being a writer?
I love everything about it. The creating, the puzzle of putting together the right words to evoke a sense of time, place or character. I love that I can go to work in my pajamas and be around for my kids during the day. I love that I can take something that is just a germ of an idea and turn it into a complete book.
What do you like least about being a writer?
I’m a very right-brained person so the whole business side of the industry is frustrating to me. I’d rather do anything other than my taxes.
Do you have a favorite locale or setting for your novels? What is it and why is it your favorite?
I love small towns. I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts and have never forgotten the community feel it had. Right now, my books are set in Indiana, since I live here, but all the settings capture a bit of that town I lived in as a kid.
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
They all are. They’re like children you love every one of them for their uniqueness.
What is your favorite recent Harlequin or Silhouette or MIRA title by another author?
I love Debbie Macomber and was delighted by Between Friends. I’m a fan of anything Carla Cassidy writes, as well as Suzanne Brockmann and Virginia Kantra. Holly Jacobs and Cheryl Ann Porter always make me laugh, too.
What are your five all-time favorite books (with authors)?
Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. To me, this is the quintessential romance. It’s a story that never fails to make me cry.
Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. One of the best books I’ve ever read.
Tell my Lies by Jenny Crusie everything by her is fabulous
The Admiral’s Bride by Suzanne Brockmann actually, I love everything she writes, too
Lord of Vengeance by Tina St. John an incredible Medieval historical romance
What one specific piece of advice would you give a would-be writer trying to kick-start a career?
Believe in yourself and your writing. Too often, self-doubt and rejection tear at a writer’s belief in herself and she abandons her gift because she’s afraid it will never work out. Sue-Ellen Welfonder once said something about what a dreadful shame it is when someone gives up their dream too soon. It’s a quote I have over my desk, and one I refer back to on the days when the writing is hard.
Briefly summarize how you began writing.
I’ve always written, literally. When I was a child, I used to plagiarize my favorite stories (having no idea I was committing a criminal act, of course). I thought these masterpieces were the best stories in the world, of course. By the time I got to middle school, however, the urge to create my own stories was strong. I wrote one that won a prize (a thesaurus I still have) and from there on out, I was hooked on writing fiction.
As a romance writer, what are your greatest goals?
To me, a belief in happy endings is important. I want my daughter to grow up and believe that love and a happy life are possible for her. My uppermost goal is always to reinforce the belief that love is a wonderful thing and that its power in our lives can never be underestimated.
I’d have to say my biggest challenge is to write the best possible book every single time. I try not to obsess too much about word choice, but I do strive to stretch my writing muscles a little more with each book. It’s never an easy process, but in the end, it’s worth the extra effort, I think.
What gives you the most satisfaction in your job?
Hearing that people loved my stories. To me, knowing that my book brought a few hours of enjoyment to another person, is the greatest satisfaction of all.
Describe the ultimate romantic meal.
One served by a good-looking waiter who really knows his wine list. Actually, anything that I don’t have to plan, prepare and clean up after.
What is your all-time favorite romantic movie?
“Pretty Woman.” When I’m sick in bed or caught inside on a dreary day, that’s the tape I watch.
What is your all-time favorite romantic song or composition?
“Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx. When I was dating my husband, he was in the Navy and gone for months at a time. That was the song each of us played when we were apart, as a reminder that we were together in our hearts.
What is the most romantic gesture or gift you have received?
My husband surprised me on our tenth wedding anniversary with a diamond and pearl ring that I had not been expecting. We were down in Disneyworld at the time and he had the waiter bring it out on a covered silver platter. I cried for at least ten minutes straight.
How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?
We connect by touch and talk. With two young children, romance often takes a backseat to soccer games and school runs. Sometimes all it takes is a simple hug, or a note left on a desk that reminds us of each other.
What tip would you give your readers to make their lives more romantic?
Remember the little things. I try to leave notes in my husband’s lunch or on his desk, or sometimes send him a funny e-mail that lets him know I’m thinking of him. He does the same thing and those tiny surprises are a great way of staying connected and maintaining the romantic feeling.
Where is the most romantic place you’ve ever traveled?
Clearwater Beach in Florida for my honeymoon. We spent a week on the beach, dashing back and forth between the surf and the hotel, which was just across the street.
All About Me
Besides writing, what other talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to sing. I have one of those singing voices that makes people look around, to see if there’s a cow dying in the corner.
Who is someone you admire and why?
I really admire Stephen King for the way he works to improve his craft with every book, for his perseverance in selling his first book, and for the quiet way he gives back to his community and to other writers.
Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?
I’m not really a superstitious person, but every once in a while will throw a little spilled salt over my shoulder, just in case.
Share one of your favorite indulgences with us.
Anything chocolate related, especially Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. One year for Christmas, my husband filled my stocking with Reese’sclearly, he’s a smart man.
What quality do you most admire in a man?
The ability to make me laugh. No matter how bad things get, if my husband and I can still laugh together, there’s that sense that we, as a team, are going to make it through. And on my worst days, he’s the one who can coax a smile out of me.
What is the one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the courage to try?
The water slide at any amusement park. Okay, I admit, I’m a big wimp when it comes to fast rides and dangerous things. I tend to stay in the wading end 🙂
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Definitely a teacher. I spent a couple of years as a teacher and really loved it. I teach community ed classes every semester in my city, and truly enjoy interacting with my students and giving them knowledge they didn’t have before.
What quote or personal saying do you live by? Who said it?
I have so many. My office is literally plastered with motivation and inspirational sayings. One of my favorites is: “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Roy Disney
To me, keeping the focus on what’s important makes everything else easier to handle.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
With my children, exploring something new. Sometimes we go to the zoo, but sometimes we just go in the backyard and look at what’s growing in the garden or check on the bird’s nest in the magnolia tree. I love to spend those quiet moments, seeing the world through their eyes.