Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I write historical fiction set in Texas’s colorful past, and yet my books are really about identity—who we are and how we became who we are. I was well into a successful career as a journalist and editor. Then one day, life “threw a craving” on me, as we say in Texas. My spirit wanted to do what my spirit wanted to do. I wanted to write historical fiction, because I love history and I love stories and I love Texas. I had worked as a journalist for years, starting out as a newspaper reporter. I went on to be the editor of two newspapers and later was a publicist, communications director, and magazine editor. Through it all I had an abiding passion for the place of my heart and its history.
I have written seven novels, three of which have been published. The Juan Miguel Series is about a Texas hero who’s handsome, brave, cunning, kind, and gifted. Of course, anyone that great is bound to run into trouble and he does. It’s a romantic family saga set in south Texas in the late 19th century and turn of the century. Three of my other novels are also set in Texas. Each of them is unique but they have a theme of sharing Texas’s incredibly rich and diverse culture and how it came to be. My seventh novel is set in Britain in the seventh century.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
I recently published the third book in The Juan Miguel Series, The Return of Juan Miguel, which follows The Legend of Juan Miguel and The Passion of Juan Miguel. I wanted to write about a Texas hero who was different than the usual and Juan Miguel certainly is. For one thing, he is a Hispanic hero, and that is fairly rare in Texas fiction. Also, he is just sweet. Everybody who reads about him falls in love with him. But in addition to that, he is especially gifted at acting and taking on various personas. He uses this skill to right wrongs and deliver justice but also to recapture his good name, fortune, and lost love after powerful Anglo ranchers swindle him.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write almost every day and I am very passionate about it. I seem to be obsessed with it. Some days I tell myself not to write and to get some other things done but I find myself back at my computer—writing. One thing that’s unusual, I am not able to read the fictional writing of anyone else when I’m writing fiction. The other person’s voice gets into my head and interferes with my own voice. But I read a great deal of non-fiction while I’m researching the background history of the era I’m writing about.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I have been greatly influenced by Larry McMurtry, the famous and prolific Texas novelist. Like everyone else, I loved his novel, Lonesome Dove. I also greatly admire the novels of Jim Harrison, especially Legends of the Fall. I love his ability to convey great amounts of meaning with few words. The Czech novelist, Milan Kundera, is one of my favorites.
What are you working on now?
I just finished writing The Pope’s Heretic, which is not yet edited or published. It is set in the seventh century in Glastonbury, Britain. The main character is a young monk who’s been indentured to the Roman church to illuminate manuscripts. When he’s sent to a Glastonbury abbey, he meets and falls in love with a Druid priestess and all kinds of complications ensue. Doubts enter his head. He longs for the freer, more spirited life of the Celtic people. He runs away to find himself but the looming war between the Celts and the Saxons, who are allies of the church, intervenes. I plan for this book to be the first in a series.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I use just about everything to market my books. Website, Twitter and Twitter re-tweeters, ads, other social media, etc. I think the main thing is to be diligent and do some marketing every day. You have to keep your books and your name out in public as best you can and buy advertising if you can afford it. Book Bub is a great place to advertise but their success has also made them expensive.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
My advice is to write as often and as much as possible. You have to be very dedicated to overcome the many obstacles but it is definitely worth it. If you have to force yourself to write, then maybe it’s not for you. You should love it and long to do it.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Persistence. Just persistence. A good friend calls it “Swiss cheesing.” Just keep taking bites out of the goal. Take steps every day. Never give up.
What are you reading now?
I’ve been reading books by the famous English author Catherine Cookson. I just discovered her historical fiction. But when I’m through with the research I’m doing now and I’m ready to write fiction again, I won’t be reading anyone else’s fiction because reading another fiction writer messes with my writing voice.
What’s next for you as a writer?
As I mentioned, I’m planning to write at least two more books as sequels to The Pope’s Heretic. Also, I want to publish my three unpublished books about Texas’s diverse culture in a series titled The Pathless Land.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Pride and Prejudice. It’s timeless and a template for novel writing.