I was auditioning to be in a choir directed by Gladys Knight. But I was very late for the audition. When I got there, the audition was over, but I could hear a group of people behind a closed door. The microphone was still on in the main room where the auditions had occurred. So I got on the microphone and started singing. Eventually, someone came out and asked me who I was and if they could help me. I told them I really wanted to audition for Ms. Knight. They left and came back a few minutes later and said she would let me sing for her. Bottom line? I got to sing for a legend, and I made it into the choir. True story.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)
I’ve always been a writer, and I wrote my first novel, Running Barefoot, simply because I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. I didn’t know how to get something published, and I was a busy mom teaching school, so I set it aside. Several years later, out of work with a brand new baby (child number four) and mounting medical bills, I knew I had to do something different. I wrote another novel, Slow Dance in Purgatory, and self-published both of them on Amazon. Fifteen months later my fourth novel, A Different Blue, hit the NY Times Bestsellers list, and I’m just trying to process it all. What a crazy, awesome ride it’s been!
There are a lot of really awful books in the self-pub world. There’s a lot of terrible writing. I’m sorry, friends, but it’s true. And I didn’t want to wear that label if that label symbolized an inferior quality of book. Then I read and loved Flat Out Love by Jessica Park, a self-published book, and I realized that being a self-published author didn’t have to mean you weren’t “as good” as the traditionally published authors. It just might mean you weren’t waiting around for the publishing world to discover you. Jessica Park has now been embraced by both worlds and continues to be an inspiration to me and many others. Flat Out Love was definitely a turning point for me.
Tell us about your other books! Since reading A Different Blue, I've added your other books to my lists of books to read.
My debut novel, Running Barefoot, is a contemporary romance with a heroine very much like me. Maybe every author has to have that one character who hits pretty close to home. Running Barefoot takes place in the town where I grew up, and it has a very down home, small-town appeal. It also has a Native American lead character, only in this story, the male love interest is half-Navajo. Slow Dance in Purgatory and Prom Night in Purgatory are very different from my debut in that they involve ghosts and time travel as well as romance. I suppose that's the beauty of being a self-published author. I can write whatever interests me. I'm working on another contemporary romance novel now, more similar in style to Running Barefoot and A Different Blue.
Where did you get the idea for A Different Blue?
In my first novel, Running Barefoot, the character Josie has a lot of me in her. So I really wanted to write a book about a girl who is very different from me. But, as the book progressed, I discovered we weren't so different after all. I came to understand Blue on a very deep and personal level. I think we all know someone like Blue. I think we all have a little of Blue in us. I know I do. Blue is not me in the sense that I never lived her story, but I think every woman will be able to relate with her. There are some issues that are unique to being female, and you ladies will cry at certain scenes, I promise. Not because the scenes are sappy, but because every girl has struggled with similar issues.
Did you set out to write a New Adult book or did it just happen?
I love YA books because there is an innocence that is expected and accepted that isn't always welcomed in other classifications of literature. A Different Blue is more New Adult, simply because of the subject matter and the age of the main characters, but it retains some of that innocence that I think is refreshing. And I love romance. All of my books are romantic. If there's no kissing, I'm really not interested.
How did you decide to self-publish and are you happy you did?
I wrote my first book about in 2008, just because I wanted to. I didn't know what I would ever do with it, but I wanted to write. Then, a year and a half ago, my oldest son got very sick. We were in desperate straits, and I knew I needed to do something to take my mind off of the helplessness I felt in the face of his illness as well as help my family financially. I didn't have the luxury of waiting for a publishing house. I discovered the world of self-publishing, and I said to myself "I can do that." And I have. Four times now. It's been a wild ride, and I plan on staying on this merry go-round forever. I absolutely love everything about it.
Has anyone ever told you, you resemble Andie MacDowell? I think that's who I mean... you resemble some famous actress and I can't put my finger on which one. I think it's Andie MacDowell from the movie Michael with John Travolta.
Ha ha ha. If I had a dollar for every time I've been told I look like Andie MacDowell I would be as rich as...well, Andie MacDowell. Thank you. It always pleases me when I get that compliment.
What would you say your writing style is like? Are there any authors that may have influenced your style?
Some people say I have a more literary style, and I guess that makes sense. I love words. I like the beauty of language and saying things in a different way. I don’t think I’m better than other writers out there, I just think I’m different. My focus is different. My focus in a love story isn’t on the sex – my focus is always on the emotion.
Top 5 favorite books (or series) you think we should check out?
I loved Twilight. I know that’s cliche, but I don’t care. I loved those books. I also love Anne of Green Gables. Don’t laugh! Those books were like childhood friends that I never outgrew. I enjoyed The Bronze Horseman, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and just recently A Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. I also love Flowers in the Storm by Laura Kinsale. That’s six. Ah well.
Favorite ice-cream flavor?
Country you most want to visit?
I’ve been to England, but I desperately want to come back. I’ve been to Manchester and Preston, but never to London. Manchester was one of the few places I’ve ever been where I thought “I could live here!” And I NEED to visit Australia.
I have two. I am enamored with Daniel Craig. Absolutely scrummy. And I love Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers.
Blind folds or handcuff?
Blind fold. And like most females, I might prefer that my lover is blindfolded as well. Maybe I would be able to relax more if he couldn’t see me in all my non-glory. Too much information? Sorry.
What inspired your Purgatory series?
I loved the Twilight series but haven't loved much else in the genre. The idea came about because of an old movie called The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The story isn't the same, but it was the inspiration that led to the series.
Running Barefoot was just as great, but far from Purgatory. How challenging is it to transition from one genre to another?
For me, it isn't challenging at all. I think it would be far more challenging to not be able to write what you feel like writing, based on a publisher's demands. I love being able to write stories from different genres!
Music is also a big part of you as much as writing is. You even released an album back in 2007 called 'What I Know'. Do you still record, and how has music influenced your stories?
I haven't recorded a solo album since 2007, but if my writing continues to go well I would love to do another album. I have some great friends in the industry and producing that CD was the most fun I've ever had. Music is woven throughout all of my books - look at the chapter titles! -- and my characters strongly identify with it as well.
How do you unwind after completing a novel? Or do you jump right into another as the ideas come?
So far, I haven't let myself stop. I don't write for about a month, but that's usually because I am writing posts for blogs and promoting the book.
If you were taken to an island far away and was only allowed to take three books with you, other than your own which three books would you bring to the island?
Hmm. I might need to take a survival guide. But I've always wanted to read the bible all the way through. I've never read it cover to cover. Yep I'm a Christian. So I'd take scripture, a survival guide, and a Kristen Ashley book to keep my warm at night.
Thanks so much for time. Please leave a message for aspiring writers.
If you want to write, DO. One page at a time, one scene at a time, one chapter at a time. It might take you a year (like it did me) but if you stick with it, you can do it.