Please tell me about yourself and your book(s).
I’ve been writing since childhood, and enjoy all books but my favorite reading has always been historical romance. After devouring every available story for years, I decided to try writing one. A true inspiration to pursue this goal came from the weak heroine often portrayed in romance. I wanted a heroine who could fight for what she wanted. My novels always have a woman who is equally as strong as the hero.
It was a dream come true to become published through a division of Harlequin, the most recognizable name regarding the romance genre. My debut historical, To Love A Wicked Scoundrel and Duke of Darkness, the second in the series both came out in 2014. The Midnight Rake released January 13th and has been very well received. I truly had no expectations so I'm enormously grateful for the success of my trilogy.
Please describe your daily writing habits.
How I envy authors who have “daily writing habits”. Sadly, I have none. I work fulltime as a first grade teacher and steal time for writing whenever possible. It could be early morning, late night or lunchtime. I’m always scribbling something down. Having the summer off is also a huge bonus.
What tips would you give to a writer who is just starting out?
Believe in yourself above all else and then be patient. Becoming published in the traditional sense takes a lot of work, but if you are willing to work at the craft, eventually all the planets align in your favor. If you are going to self publish, then work hard to have your voice heard.
What are some things that have surprised you as an author?
Wow, I could answer this question many different ways, but I suppose the biggest surprise is that the publication of a book is not an end, but more a beginning. Then comes the constant struggle to stay relevant. An author needs to promote, be visible on social media, travel, network and write good books all at the same time. Not such an easy proposition.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge as an author?
Balance. I have many responsibilities and pressure myself to always do my best. Fulfilling all my many responsibilities and fitting all my obligations into each day is an ongoing struggle. I always have to sacrifice one thing or another and that’s tricky. I’m always striving to find balance.
What would you say has been your biggest success as an author?
I have so much gratitude for how well my novels have been received. Both my first and second historical were Amazon bestsellers. I was head over heels being published. Anything that has happened after, has all been extra wonderful.
What books and/or authors would you say have been your biggest influence?
I’ve been reading historical romance for decades so my most influential authors span years. Early on I fell in love with Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Lisa Kleypas, Loretta Chase, Sherry Thomas, Eloisa James and Julia Quinn are always wonderful and their works have taught me so much about writing romance.
Do you plan your books out from start to finish in advance or do you let the story and characters take you where it will?
My stories all start with a single idea. It could be a conversation, situation or scene played out in my head. Then I start to write. I have no plan and only a general idea of plot. I figure it all out as I go along and while the characters are talking to me. I’ve written myself into plenty of problems this way, but it’s the only way I can write. And, I’ve always written my way out of the problems too, so I guess it works for me.
I’m a runner, so pardon the analogy, but since my novels are at least 80,000 words I like to start out strong with a hook that grabs the reader, then pacing becomes key, knowing when to push harder or pull back. Of course you want to end with a sprint that wins the day. That’s about as much thought that goes into strategy for me.
Music or no music when writing?
No music. I enjoy quiet. It might be a side effect from teaching first grade, but I do love quiet. When I’m writing, even a cricket breathing is too much noise for me. Of course, I’ve had to adapt because seldom is life that quiet.
Favorite snacks/drinks while writing?
Flavored coffee is a must-have and I definitely snack too much, especially if I’m trying to work out a plot problem. I recently purchased a Nuband to count my steps and get me moving when I’ve been in front of the laptop too long.
Who is your all time favorite book character?
So impossible to choose only one! But if I eliminate classic literature and ignore Shakespeare, and then narrow it down to only historical romance, my favorite book character would be from Lisa Kleypas’ novel, Mine ‘till Midnight. The hero, Cam Rohan, is half-gypsy, half-aristocrat, and sexy as hell. The novel is from 2007, but Cam has stayed with me to this day.
What three things must you have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
- My laptop - I have an unusual attachment to it.
- My Keurig (refer to #1 for my feelings about this)
- My pillow. I’m always operating on short sleep so when I finally get to dreaming, I want my own pillow.
About The Midnight Rake:Phineas Betcham, Viscount Fenhurst is one of the country’s most eligible bachelors...which - to the heartbreak of each season’s new debutantes - is the way he intends to keep it. Because the broodingly handsome Viscount has vowed to keep emotions out of the bedchamber. And he is a man who always stays true to his word.
So when Penelope Rosebery arrives at his home, impoverished and in need of help, Phin is every inch the gentleman. But, beneath the surface, Penelope stirs a protective and passionate instinct within him. With her untamed beauty and lack of social ties, she’s something of a wildflower – delicate, spontaneous, and rare. And before long, Phineas finds himself tempted to abandon his rulebook…and leave etiquette behind until daybreak.