Thank you so much for having me on the blog today! I am happy to answer your questions and any that come through on the comments!
1. How did you decide to start writing?
Like most (all?) writers, I am a reader first. I fell in love with the written word when I was still in elementary school and spent my summers reading GONE WITH THE WIND, JANE EYRE and (much to my mother’s dismay) anything by Jacqueline Susann. (VALLEY OF THE DOLLS was a favorite). At some point, I wanted to try my own storytelling, so I started handwriting and then, later, typing, short stories and fan fiction. I lost sight of that dream as I got older and had a professional job in public relations, but one night I finished NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and thought, “What if I could make someone else feel like I do right now?” I just wanted to try…so I did! I wrote my first manuscript in 1999, sold my first book in 2001, and have written more than 45 since then.
2. What is your favorite type of music?
I love “oldies” – the songs of the 70’s and 80’s. My very favorite station on satellite radio is “folk songs from the 70’s.” Give me Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell and I’m happy.
3. part 1. When you are writing book do you ever get off track by other stories running in your head? Part 2 If so do you write them ideas down or stop what you are writing and go to the next book?
When I’m deep into the “meat” of a book, I do not think about any other stories. I don’t read books in the same genre, or even watch movies because I am living too deeply in my world. But, when I near the end, and I know exactly how the story is going to wrap up, I find myself thinking about the next one. At that point, I might open up a story notes file and start to jot things down that I’ll want to remember when I start the next book. I start to think about the conflict and emotion before I really concentrate on the actual story.
4. Is Barefoot Bay based on somewhere you have been or is it all made up?
While fictional, Barefoot Bay was inspired by a Gulf Coast beach where my parents used to live after they retired. Also near Naples, Florida, Bonita Beach had a special secluded feel with the most breathtaking sunsets I’ve ever seen. In my mind, that’s the beach I envision when I write about Barefoot Bay. But the resort, the island of Mimosa Key, and the whole population is completely a work of my overactive imagination!
5. Where was your favorite vacation?
I went to Italy last summer with my husband and our two kids – we had much to celebrate. My son graduated from college, my daughter graduated from high school, and we had our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. What a glorious country! We visited
Florence, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast (and a day in Pompeii) and I have never had my senses so overwhelmed with beauty. One of the best parts of the trip was the opportunity to meet one of my long-time fans who lives in Rome, and she and her husband gave us guided tours that only the “locals” get. Italy exceeded my every dream!
6. I know you are hosting the RWA this year congratulations. How does it feel to know that you have made it this far in this business?
When RWA president Leslie Kelly called me to ask me to emcee the RITA Awards, I almost burst into tears. I couldn’t believe it! I don’t know about how far I’ve come, but I can tell you that I am a strong supporter of RWA and firmly believe that I wouldn’t have the career I have with the organization. I have met hundreds of writers, learns scads of industry information, and developed life-changing career plans because of RWA. It is truly an honor to host our “big night” and it’s all made DOUBLY wonderful since two of my books are up for Best Romantic Suspense!! Woohoo!
7. Out of all the books you wrote which one holds closet to your heart? and why?
I actually have answered that question with no hesitation for almost ten years: HIT REPLY. My one and only “chick lit” that was read by, oh, maybe 15 people. The story is told entirely in emails and texts (only back then we called the “instant messages”) and is, in my so biased opinion, my most emotional, most humorous, and most poignant novel. But…since February, that answer has changed. I am so proud of BAREFOOT WITH A BAD BOY, my latest novel in the Barefoot Bay series. Maybe it’s because readers wanted Gabe Rossi’s story for years. Maybe it’s because the story was so satisfying to tell. Maybe it’s because the book is getting rave reviews, but I think BAD BOY has edged out HIT REPLY as my favorite book.
8. What is your all-time favorite read?
MORNING GLORY by LaVyrle Spencer would be #1 – one of the best romance novels I’ve ever read — gorgeously written and heartwrenching. I’ve re-read it many times. Close seconds: OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon; MR. PERFECT by Linda Howard; WELCOME TO TEMPTATION by Jennifer Crusie.
9. What is your favorite thing to do when you get to kick back and relax?
What does relax mean? Kidding! I can do it…sometimes. I have recently discovered yoga! I’m taking classes a few nights a week at 6:00 PM which nicely soothes my savage beast after a day of writing. I love to spend time with my family, but my daughter went off to college this year and my son is in law school, so I’ve filled that nurturing role by babysitting in the nursery at my church on Sunday nights. Not exactly “relaxing” but I dearly love kids. My husband is a fantastic chef, so I love to sip wine, watch him cook, and then enjoy a gourmet meal! Fortunately, I love my work, so writing can be very relaxing to me!