Frequently Asked Questions
Did you always want to be a writer?
No. I spent my formative years dreaming about being a Broadway star. Since my singing voice will never make up for the fact that I can’t act—like, at all—I eventually had to consider other options. I do, however, frequently perform selections from Phantom of the Opera around my house. Paying me to stop is not an option.
Well, how did you start writing, then?
Actually, I was always a writer…it just took me a while to realize it. As a kid growing up in Northern New York, I was a severe asthmatic who seemed to be allergic to the universe. Consequently, I spent a lot of time sick and indoors. Books were my escape, and I became a precocious reader at an early age. Before I hit kindergarten I was reading chapter books, and by sixth grade I was devouring the collected works of Stephen King. It didn’t take me long to try writing my own stories and poems. My doctor’s office used to put them up on the walls, so I suppose those early efforts weren’t too terrible! That or they just felt sorry for me, but either way, I was encouraged. I even have vague memories of trying to write a romance novel in fifth grade. It had something to do with vampires (I’d been watching a lot of Lost Boys) and a water park. I’m grateful that one disappeared somewhere along the line.
What was your path to publication like?
I was married with two young children and another on the way before I really got serious about it. That probably wasn’t the most opportune time to decide “Hey, I think I want to give this book writing thing a real shot,” but practicality isn’t really my strong suit. We’d just been stationed in Fallon, Nevada, where my husband would be an instructor and go through Top Gun (no, the pilots don’t play shirtless volleyball at a certain time every day, which remains one of my life’s great disappointments). NAS Fallon is…we’ll just call it “remote.” I decided that it was either make a concerted effort to write a book and get published, or be found wandering the desert in a bathrobe, driven mad by my distance from civilization. Long story short, I wrote the book.
Was that your first published book?
No, that was my bloated magnum opus of a fantasy romance, clocking in at over four-hundred pages and containing every writing “don’t” you can probably imagine (except for the grammar—I rock at grammar). It was crap, really, but well enough written crap that I got some wonderful encouragement from a few kindly agents who saw potential. That encouragement was what pushed me to put the fantasy romance in a box in the closet and try again. I sat down and wrote a paranormal romance with fantasy elements about a sexy Highland werewolf named Gideon MacInnes. That book, which earned me my lovely agent, was called Beastly. In 2008, it came out as Call of the Highland Moon and kicked off my career as a published author.
Where do you get your ideas?
I spend a lot of time daydreaming. Occasionally, it’s productive.
Why do you write romance?
I fell in love with the genre a long time ago. My mother was wonderful about letting me read her stash of Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey and (my favorite) Julie Garwood when I was in junior high, and I was hooked from the start. Writing romances was probably always inevitable, though. If a book or movie I enjoyed didn’t feature a good love story, I would just invent one for it in my head. I tell people that I get to write fairy tales for grown-ups. There are few things as uplifting as a Happily Ever After at the end of a story, and I feel incredibly lucky that I get to create those for a living.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Craft comes first. You could have the most original story idea in the world, but if you can’t execute it in a way that makes a reader forget that she’s reading words on a page, your story will never reach its full potential. Remember that there is always more to learn—the best writers never stop growing. Understand that a writing career is a long and winding road to travel. Sometimes there is breathtaking scenery, and sometimes there is an enormous cow blocking traffic. Being stubborn enough to wait for the roadblock to mosey off so you can keep going is half the battle. Try not to compare yourself to other writers. Our processes and paths are as individual as we are, so find what works for you. Remember the kindnesses done for you along the way and pay them forward when you can. This is a tough business, but it’s tougher when you forget that we’re all in this together. And of course, the most important thing is simply this: get your butt in the chair and write the book.