Welcome to Novel Journey, how long did it take you to get published?
I first sat down to deliberately write a novel the summer of 2000. The historic romance, still unpublished, won chapter awards and even a cash prize from Steeple Hill. But it wasn’t until I changed to a contemporary romantic suspense series and won a major new writer award along with an agent that I got my first publishing contract. That happened in 2005. I count myself blessed to have enjoyed such a fast journey to publication.
Do you think an author is born or made?
Both. I think words come more easily for some than others. Yet without study, hard work, and courage, a talented writer may never be more than a frustrated artist. Stubborn determination plays a big part in becoming a published author.
What is the first book you remember reading?
I got Secret of the Old Clock, a Nancy Drew mystery, as a birthday present. It didn’t take long before I devoured the entire series and moved on to Phyllis Whitney and Agatha Christie.
What common qualities do you find in the personalities of published authors?
As I mentioned earlier, stubborn determination is key to publication. These ornery don’t-tell-me-I-can’t-do-it types hone their craft, rub elbows with editors and agents at conferences, test new ideas, and become professionals before they ever see their first contract.
How do you know if you have a seemingly “stupid” book premise that is doomed to fail versus one that will fly high?
I think talented writers can make even “stupid” ideas fly. If the idea seems great to you, just write it. Make the reader fall in love with the characters. Draw the reader into the plot. Refuse to let them out of the story until the very last page.
What is the theme of your latest book?
My latest book is Kiss Me If You Dare, coming out in February. It’s all about taking what God has given and making the best of it. The heroine Patricia Amble is faced with her own serious character flaws. But as she meets those around her who are overcoming far greater challenges, she learns to cherish the very things she once despised.
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?
You stop the indecision and endless second-guessing when it starts getting in the way of production. There came a point where I no longer had time to waste pleasing my critique partners. I had already learned what worked, I’d become familiar with my voice and I clung to the hope that other people would want to read my work.
Are takeaway messages (in your book) important to you?
I love it when a reader or a reading group mulls my story days after the book has been put down. I like to make people think. But I don’t like to preach. I want the reader to make up his or her own mind about an issue. Sometimes the book strikes a chord with a certain reader, but not another reader. The reading experience is very personal. And if the reader isn’t ready for the message, then it’s enough for me if they merely enjoyed their journey with the character for the length of the book.
When do you know you’ve got the finished product and it’s your best effort?
If there’s an area in the story that is bugging you and you know you’d be embarrassed if your best friend read that section in print, then it’s probably not ready. I generally know which sections are shaky in advance, but rely on my editors to tag these sections for me. That gets me out of my lazy zone and makes me rethink it. Then I approach the idea from a new angle. Sometimes I surprise myself with a great rewrite.
Any anecdotes about the research or writing of your books?
It’s amazing how fiction reflects the life experiences and emotional process of the writer. I wrote the first two books in the Patricia Amble Mystery Series as I struggled my way out of a failed marriage. Needless to say the romantic content was my greatest challenge. But my newest book, Kiss Me If You Dare, finds me in a much happier and hope-filled place. I think readers will be pleased how heroine Patricia Amble benefits from a new outlook of her own.
How would you pitch this book to your intended audience?
Grieving home renovator Patricia Amble strikes out on her own, forgetting the life she left behind. But reminders of the past creep up, and Tish becomes all too aware of unfinished business. Now faced with starting over or finding to the ones she loves, Tish can’t be sure she’ll live to make the right choice.