Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, and always wanted to live in the mountains, so when the time came, I moved onto my property where I’ve lived for 45 years. I built a little log cabin and it sits in the middle of 30 acres of evergreen forests in the foothills of Oregon’s Coast range. I’ve written 18 contemporary romances (13 of them in my Dancing Moon Ranch series, a contemporary western/cowboy series), 5 historical romances, 2 non-fiction back-to-the-land types, and my memoir, which turned out to be 500+ pages and includes over 1000 photos, and that only gets me to age 16, while growing up in New Orleans, but it was fun writing.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is entitled “Finding Justice” and it’s Book 12, the final book in my Dancing Moon Ranch series. It was inspired by the books that preceded it. My Dancing Moon Ranch series spans 30 years and 2 generations, and the hero in my final book was in two earlier books in the series.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m pretty obsessive/compulsive when I start writing a book, and I stay with it until it’s finished. I’m a panser, so other than writing a brief description of the story, I write as I go, letting the characters drive the story. I do know the main turning points in the story, and the ending, but I don’t like writing out any details. I can write from as early as 5:00 AM, when Izzy, my cat, awakens me up by grooming my hair and washing my face with a very abrasive kitty tongue, which gets me up, and I can keep writing all day with breaks to exercise or walk in the woods.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
My all-time favorite author is Kay Nolte Smith, with her book “A Tale of the Wind.” Susan Kay is another author I like. Most of my reading time is spent reading research material though, so I read very little fiction because there are not enough hours in the day to do it all.
What are you working on now?
I’m doing research for my upcoming contemporary western romance series, Cajun Cowboys, and it will be set in the prairie and marsh region of SW Louisiana which is cattle country. I descend from Acadians (Cajuns), so I’m borrowing names from my own genealogy.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
When promoting my books I depend solely on websites like yours, where I can advertise my KDP 5-day free books. It’s been very successful, and I’ve never had to do any social networking, not even Facebook or Twitter. I also include the first three chapters of the next book in a series, at the end of every ebook, along with links to that ebook and links to my website. In addition to that, I put together YouTube video trailers for both my Dancing Moon Ranch series, and my upcoming Cajun Cowboys series, and the links are on my website and included in every ebook.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
My advice is to spend more time writing and less time revising… and revising… and revising, and also spend less time attending workshops. The more you write, the easier it gets. It took me at least 10 books to figure this out. Now, I can write a book in a 4-6 weeks, while revising as I go. I also use a program called “speak” that comes with Microsoft Word, where a computer “person” reads the manuscript to my when I highlight large sections and click on the Speak icon at the top of my screen. It’s the best editing tool I know.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
The best advice I ever heard was from my late husband, Ed, who was my editor for 27 years, and that was to cut any and every word in a manuscript that doesn’t move the story forward. When I revise, I cut words and the story gets tighter, which means the action moves faster and the slow areas where readers need a breather, still move along without dragging.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading lots of research material. I like to get my brain saturated before starting a series. In this case I have to mentally transport myself back to Louisiana where I grew up, and leave beautiful Oregon, while also creating a new family of characters, a new setting, and a new ranch. My cowboy brothers will be raising cattle, along with a few racing quarter horses. Many famous Cajun jockeys got their starts as kids racing on the old bush tracks where there were no rules except to do whatever it takes to win, so some very tough jockeys were the result. Bush tracks are gone now, but the aging patriarch of my family, who’s at odds with the “younger generation,” will bring it back in a limited way (never-mind that it’s illegal), at least for the duration of my series.
What’s next for you as a writer?
This new series will be the first time I’ll be without my husband to edit my manuscripts and bounce story ideas off. It will be different, and there will be a learning curve, as well as a “coming to terms” curve. I have to believe he’ll still be sending me mental messages, and I’ll be looking at every extraneous word with him in mind.
What is your favorite book of all time?
It still has to be “A Tale of the Wind,” by Kay Nolte Smith. I re-read it every few years and learn something new each time. Her writing is superb.