Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a middle-aged African American woman from a large family in Ohio. While I only have two children, there are tons of aunts, uncles, and first cousins who now have children and grandchildren. I wanted to major in Creative Writing in college but didn’t like the program, so I dropped the double major and stayed with English/Journalism. Of course, none of that related to my professional career of negotiating and investigating federal contracts.
Writing is my third career. My first was working with contracts. My second, and most rewarding, was being a stay-at-home mom. I’m that person who was always a chaperon for field trips, team mom for the softball team, President of the school Boosters organization, and the fundraising coordinator. I’ve also spent countless hours dragging my children to political rallies and community service events. When we weren’t doing those things, we were fishing, or cooking, or going to the movies.
With my children grown, I’m having a great time polishing those novellas that have been filling my file cabinets for years and turning some into novels. I’m very happy to have published five books: Detour; Time for Tenderness and its sequel, Monica’s Healing; Premonitions: Dream Catcher Series – Book 1; and Loving Night: Dream Catcher Series – Book 2.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is Loving Night. It’s the second book in the Dream Catcher Series. This series focuses on a woman who has dreams that predict future events, routinely experiences deja vu, and practices keeping herself balanced by understanding the auras (energy fields) that surround her, and relying on herbal teas and aromatherapy.
I was inspired to write this series because of family members who have experiences with these topics. These concepts are an interesting contrast to our Christian upbringing but are not necessarily a contradiction. That’s the focus that I wanted to explore.
While writing romances with happy endings, I also love to read suspense novels and watch movies with intricate plots. This series was a very fun attempt at bringing all of those elements together.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m not sure whether my habits are unusual, but they can be pretty inconsistent. Mostly, I write late at night when everything around me is quiet. Yet, there are times when I write with my ear-buds in to block out all distractions but with classical guitar music playing so softly that it can barely be heard. At other times, I’m sipping tequila and blasting country music. My habits–if they can be called that–depend on the mood of the scene I’m working on, whether I’m struggling with a specific element, or the personalities of my characters. I try to feel whatever is happening in the story.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I never like to say what authors have influenced me because there are so many and I’m horrible with remembering names. I’m a voracious ready of contemporary fiction, mostly romance and suspense. I love any author who can pull me so thoroughly into the story that I’m cheering for the characters, crying over their tragedies, expressing my outrage over their poor decisions, holding my breath in anticipation, or sweating through the love scenes. I’m influenced by anyone who writes with depth and passion.
What are you working on now?
I currently have three projects. One, of course, is the final book in the Dream Catcher Series. The title of book 3 is Heart Shadows and it’s going to focus on what it takes for my recurring hero/heroine to make hard choices about their careers in order to protect their marriage. Sometimes the suspense of Chaz’s dangerous job is going to be a little difficult on the family. Sometimes the intrusion of Stephanie’s gift–which she’s still learning to control–will undermine the independence that each person needs in order to be balanced. They’re going to honestly be tested on whether their love is powerful enough to carry them through the challenges of life toward the destiny they both believe is theirs.
Another project is one that I started early last year about a middle-aged woman who finds herself in the enviable position of having to choose between two men who love her. It’s an intense love story about rediscovering yourself, recognizing what you need, and being able to understand that love doesn’t always look like you thought it would. Throw in age differences and family attitudes, and the story gets a bit more complicated than my heroine ever could have imagined.
The final project is compiling several novellas that are already written but need a little refining. These are three very different stories about sassy, young, African American women with strong personalities, successful careers, and definite ideas about where their love lives should be.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Promoting is something I’m still not very good at. Most of my efforts are focused on Facebook and Twitter, although I’m trying to reach out to more bloggers and reviewers. One thing that pleases me is that I’ve discovered a lot of readers who give great feedback on Facebook. Being involved in a variety of groups has really helped to cultivate those relationships.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
My advice for new authors is to form a lot of new relationships. Whether you’re meeting other authors, readers, bloggers, or people who host various online events, those relationships provide tons of support, inspiration, and information. I’m constantly amazed by the level of interaction I find online and how it influences my approaches to writing and promoting, refines my skills, and broadens my perspectives. There are countless ways in which these new “friends” can help you to grow as a writer.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
The best advice I’ve ever heard was that it takes time to build a brand. I’ve only been a published author for a year, so it’s been important for me to understand how to encourage a following and set realistic goals and timelines. I’ve created a five-year plan with manageable objectives and time for learning my way through obstacles and new challenges. There’s a lot of information to sift through and figure out what works for me. That takes patience.
What are you reading now?
I’m thoroughly hooked on the Stafford Brothers novels by Chicki Brown. The books are about six brothers, sons of an affluent surgeon in Atlanta, GA. Each man is different but they’re all confident and SEXY. Ms. Brown is excellent at building their personalities and creating realistic romantic relationships that keep you glued to the pages. And underneath it all is a strong family influence and unconditional support. The fourth book in the series is due to come out later this year and I keep checking her website, praying she’ll say it’s ahead of schedule. The books are simply amazing.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Since my projects for the rest of 2015 are already underway, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what’s next. Trying to write in a new genre sounds interesting. It’s funny, because these are absolutely nothing alike, but I’m considering writing either crime-based thrillers or erotica. Either of those would be a stretch for me. So, maybe in 2016, I’ll take on the challenge–possibly under a different pen name so that my readers aren’t confused.
What is your favorite book of all time?
My favorite book is The Chronicles of Narnia. Each book has some great philosophy behind it that is ultimately based on hope that springs from hardship. The spiritual overtones are comforting in their familiarity while at the same time challenging a person to take a closer look at what he believes. I love the symbolism and interactions between good and evil, naive and cunning, optimistic and brooding. The book accurately reflects so many elements about individuals and society that I never get tired of reading it.