Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I play mah jongg as much as possible. Usually, my two kids and husband require a little attention. And traveling is something I’m either doing or planning. But my love is mah jongg. The real game with actual tiles and 4 friends sitting around a table (not that silly matching game on the computer). Once a year, we go to a tournament in Atlantic City. I even made it to the final round one year. But typically we don’t stand a chance against the octogenarians who have been playing since before I’ve been born, and spend 4 days week playing because their grandkids never come for a visit.
When did you start writing?
I didn’t start until 2009. I wish I had some great story to share. Like I slipped on the icy sidewalk, and hit my head. As I came out of my coma state, I had a vision of Nora Roberts by my bedside telling me I had to write books and open my mind to the world. And no matter that my family insisted it was the overnight nurse who said I had to open my eyes and come back to the world, I stuck by my vision. But really it was just something I thought, why not? And then one book led to another.
In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
Google is my best friend. I stay at my tiny desk.
As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
I hope I haven’t had it yet. I’ve had some turning points, such as my first book published, winning a contest, reaching certain sales goals. The best was discovering my book reviewed on a French site. I had no idea what it said, but it was 4 stars and started with, “Voila.”
What is your favorite part about writing contemporary romance and what is your least favorite?
No research. Honestly, trying to decide what people wore and said a hundred years ago would take up so much of my time I wouldn’t write any words. That said, my WIP (work in progress) is set in 1948, but at least I can ask my dad. The least favorite thing? No hessian boots.
If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
My bucket list includes Japan and Greece. And I will get there. But I won’t write there. I need to be in my boring office or the study room at my local public library. If there is one little thing to distract me, like a beautiful beach or a fascinating hike up Mount Fuji, then I will not write. Writing, for me, must be done in a place where I have nothing more interesting to see or do. Which is why I need to write alone. Even if my teenagers are in the house, I find them enthralling. Although, they don’t think I’m interesting at all.
If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?
Sleep and write. And write and sleep. Don’t tell my mother. She’s under the impression that the only reason my house is a pit is that I’m too busy.
Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?
I love London and every movie set there is on my list. But I don’t think I’ll set a story there. That might take the magic out of the place for me.
In Standing Up the hero is faced with chasing his dreams as an amputee, while the heroine is faced with learning how to stand up for herself why was this particular story important to you?
As a social worker, I’ve worked with people who face all kinds of challenges. I didn’t start out wanting to write characters with disabilities. But as I progressed, I realized that all the heroes and heroines in romance were too perfect. Reflecting on the powerful and beautiful people I have known personally and professionally, I decided that my strength as a writer came from my relationships with real people and being a guest along their journeys.
Whats the moral, if any, to Standing Up?
There is no difference between having a physical disability and an emotional one. One you can see and is obvious, but the other can prevent you from having a fulfilling life.
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?
Those few moments before I am fully awake, my natural brain is still in charge. I haven’t begun to think about the laundry, deadlines, or what to make for dinner. My natural brain sends up primal ideas and real characters. I can build stories around complex real characters that I connect with in a deep emotional way.
What are you currently working on? Do you have any new projects released in the coming months? If so, tell us about them.
My upcoming release “In Tune Out of Sync” features two violinists vying for the same spot in a prestigious orchestra. The hero is the reluctant poster child for coping with Tourette’s Syndrome. The heroine hides her dyslexia for fear she’ll be treated differently. It’s not the competition that drives them apart, but their differing views on how to cope with their disabilities.
Part II This or That?
Q: Exercise in a gym or at home?
Preferably neither. But here’s the problem: I swim for exercise. I’ve always been a strong swimmer and enjoyed this as exercise. Since my husband refuses to put an indoor pool into our 1,200 square foot 100 year old home, I need to go to the gym. I can’t wait until I’m really old and can do aqua fit classes with the ladies.
Q: Winter or Summer?
If you knew me, you wouldn’t ask this question. Summer summer summer. I become cranky and miserable when the temperature drops below 60 degrees. Again, when I’m old I shall move to Miami Beach, play mah jongg, and swim in my condo’s pool. I’ll bring my husband with me, because he’s really awesome.
Q: Earthquake or Tornado?
I’ve lived through both, and they are not fun. When we were first married, we lived in California and you get used to the little tremors that rattle your dishes, make the walls seem like rubber and send you scurrying to the doorway of your flimsy apartment complex. But I don’t think I want to be around for the big one. When we moved from California to Washington DC, we drove and got caught in a tornado in Kansas. Yes, a tornado in Kansas. Our basset hound puppy was lifted off the ground. If it hadn’t been for her leash she would have been carried to Oz. I’m going with tornado, only because you can predict it more.
Q: Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise?
Buckle in, this could take a while. I have had a crush on Tom Cruise since he was in TAPS with Timothy Hutton. Yes, I was a fan before Risky Business, which even at a young age I was appalled that it glorified prostitution. Tom (because we’re on a first name basis in my mind) was also in that cinematic masterpiece “Losing It” with Shelly Long. He and his friends take a road trip to Mexico and they don’t lose their car. He is not just beautiful, he is a fabulous and underrated actor. Have you seen Magnolia? No? Then you can’t criticize his acting skills. In college, I had a life-sized cardboard cutout from the movie Cocktail (yes I’ve seen that one a million times too). I met my husband (coincidentally named Tom) in college. When we moved in together, he said Mr. Cruise couldn’t move in with us so I had to say goodbye. But there’s still a place in my heart for him. My husband won’t come to any of his movies with me. And for some reason the TV seems broken every time I try to watch Jerry Mcguire.
Q: Cruise or Resort? Yes.