1. Every published author has a story of their first sale. Please tell us about your. Why do you think that project was your breakout piece?
I wouldn't call my first sale a break-out piece, but my most significant sale certainly was. That would be "Dark Thirst," the first in a paranormal series from Kensington/Zebra Books. As a mother of a very active toddler, I often find it difficult to make time to write regularly. At the encouragement of NY Times best-selling author Karen Robards, who came to my RWA chapter and spoke to us about the rising popularity of vampire romance, I started work on "Dark Thirst" last spring. It was a storyline I'd had in mind for many years, and had long considered original, in terms of vampires. To further galvanize myself into prioritizing my writing and completing the manuscript, I sent an email query off to Kensington. By this point, I had three chapters done, but didn't say this in my query letter. My theory was that it would take them weeks, if not months, to request even a partial from me, and by then, I could have the book finished. To my surprise, an editor emailed me within two days of my submission and said he'd like to see the entire manuscript. Which was fantastic, except there WAS no entire manuscript, LOL! So I buckled down and wrote the book in two weeks. It was contracted within days of sending it to the editor.
I think "Dark Thirst" is my breakout piece because not only did it recharge my writing career and get me refocused on writing novel-length works, but because I really got to incorporate a lot of my writing experience to that point into one book. I'd written fantasy before of the sword and sorcery variety, as well as historical romance, and the fictitious, paranormal world of "Dark Thirst" allowed me the opportunity to combine all of the elements I'd loved about each of these genres. By doing so, it really helped me find my direction as a writer; to identify that genre as the one I most enjoyed writing and would like to continue exploring.
2. What goals do you hope to achieve in the future with your writing?
What is that now infamous line Madonna offered on American Bandstand when asked this question back in the early 1980s? "I want to take over the world," she told Dick Clark. He laughed at her in a rather condescending fashion at the time.
As for me, I would like to be able to make a living from writing, to be able to dedicate myself to my fiction day in and day out, without worries or constraints. I can't think of anything more wonderful or fulfilling than being able to build a career doing something I've loved since I was a very young child.
And then after that, I'll take over the world. Ha ha ha
3. Do you have a special routine for your writing day? Do you try to accomplish a certain amount of work each time you sit down to write?
Anymore, I write on a catch-as-catch-can basis -- the joys of having a toddler and a new baby. But when I do find/make time to write, I try to dedicate my attention to it entirely, no distractions. I try not to set goals for myself, although I also try to maintain at least a 3-5 page per writing day average (by "writing day," I mean any opportunity I have to write for a few hours). Pushing myself to do too much often leaves me writing less than I would have without that kind of pressure, because I'm too distracted trying to hit a certain word or page count to really lose myself mentally in my story.
4. If you could have dinner with any three authors, past or present, who would it be and what burning questions would you like to ask them?
Pat Conroy -- "What was your first word?"
Because he is one of the most gifted writers alive today. His mastery over the English language is absolutely breathtaking; his ability to use words to paint vivid, poignant imagery unsurpassed. "The Lords of Discipline" was the first book that ever moved me to tears. So I'd like to know which word began it all, because I imagine it was something poetic and amazing.
But I wouldn't ask him a question. I'd thank him for inspiring me to write through his books. I loved his imagination, his use of the ordinary and vernacular. He's a troubadour for the everyday man, and that's the key to his success. His characters have the same hopes, dreams, fears and flaws that the rest of us do. They act like we do, talk like we do, think like we do. There's a lot of his influence in my writing style even today. I had a dream not too long ago that I met and thanked him in person. (Yeah, I know. Some girls dream of Orlando Bloom. Me? I dream of Stephen King.)
William Shakespeare -- Did you really write all by yourself?
Because now some folks theorize he didn't, that the "plays of William Shakespeare" were really group efforts, not those of an individual. And I'm curious now. Because whoever the hell wrote them managed to craft some of the most timeless, relevant works ever put to paper.
5. What do you enjoy doing in your down time? Does this help feed your muse?
Down time -- what's that? Ha ha ha. I enjoy spending time with my family, marveling over my children. Yes, they feed my muse. They also keep me grounded, because at the end of the day, no matter what my Amazon sales stats are, to them, I'm just Momma.
6. What do you want your readers to remember most about your books? Characters, plot, etc?
I hope that I create dynamic, engaging, realistic, empathetic characters that readers will fall in love with and remember; people who are ordinary individuals not too different from any of us, thrust into extraordinary circumstances that forever change them. I want readers to feel like they know my characters; that more than just words and phrases on printed pages, these are living, breathing people who become like friends to them. Because that's how they are to me when I'm writing about them.